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Monthly Archives: January 2016


Links of Possible Relevance, Part 11

When Philosophy Lost Its Way – “Philosophy should never have been purified.”

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do (And What to Do About It) – Throw away your clothes.

No food is healthy. Not even kale. – AKA: Everything causes cancer, everything prevents cancer.

How the World Looked When Jesus Was Born, According to Roman Geographers – Spoiler: it looks really goofy.

Straight White Women Run Publishing According to New Survey – Hat tip to Mike Duran for this. If something is a certain way, you can bet someone else will have a problem with it. Surprise…someone does. I am not one of those people.

Student Loan Subsidies Cause Almost All of the Increase in Tuition – Easy money incentivizes people to spend more, and markets will raise prices because supply is too short to keep up with demand. Example #498945945 of this natural phenomenon.

The 17 Equations that Changed the Course of History – I’m only marginally a math guy (it comes with the software engineer territory), but this may be good to memorize for cocktail party fun.

A different kind of doctor’s office: Patients pay directly, keeping insurance out of it – The less people involved in a transaction, the less it will cost.

Shepherd’s Wrath – An unhealthy system puts unhealthy restrictions on natural human responses.

“Men who crave power look back over the mistakes of their lives, pile them all together, and call it destiny.”
-The Sorceress, Masters of the Universe

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Dancing Mechas

While doing research for Pale Blue Scratch, on ballet and dancing in general, I came upon this video while following rabbit trails on Google. It’s the intro for a series I had watched a few years ago on Netflix, before one of their anime purges. I have no reason for posting it, other than I remembered how realistic the machine (called a “rideback”) looked and “felt”—probably just as realistic as the mech from District 9 (extremely nsfw). Japanese art direction in anime tends to be ridiculously detailed, so it makes sense that creators would want to match real-world physics for further effect.

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Distortion, Replacement, and Identification

Perceived object X can be distorted to n degree, such that recognition is impossible. Or X can be entirely replaced with another object Y, that mimics the n degree, but also the way it’s distorted m. The effect is the same, though a bit of knowledge can be gleaned from the former case. If distortion is present, an actor could be aware of the deception. In an entire replacement of X, the actor may be oblivious; it’s just another strange thing passing through perception.

This distinction implies another actor—the deceiver—to be involved. Normal folks wouldn’t be suspect of foul play unless they know someone is behind it all, unless abstractly through personified circumstance: i.e., “The fog really had it in for me that day. I almost got in the wrong car!”

As always, there’s plenty of wiggle room. See the Eubulides’ Elektra Paradox (there’s virtually no better Google search result for it).

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Lyrics: Rush’s Losing It

One of the best songs, lyrically, on dealing with a tragedy. Most popular music lyrics that tackle depressing a subject focus on three certain kinds: unrequited love, death, or whatever the mental pathology du jour is popular. I don’t think I’ve heard a song deal with vocational or occupational tragedy before.

Contrast this with the lyrics for the song “Countdown,” which comes after “Losing It,” and closes out Signals (the album)—about the excitement of watching a space shuttle launch. It’s the second video below.

The dancer slows her frantic pace
In pain and desperation
Her aching limbs and downcast face
Aglow with perspiration

Stiff as wire, her lungs on fire
With just the briefest pause
The flooding through her memory
The echoes of old applause

She limps across the floor
And closes her bedroom door…

The writer stare with glassy eyes
Defies the empty page
His beard is white, his face is lined

And streaked with tears of rage

Thirty years ago, how the words would flow
With passion and precision
But now his mind is dark and dulled
By sickness and indecision

And he stares out the kitchen door
Where the sun will rise no more…

Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we’d like to be
Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it
For you, the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee…


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Math Is Not Science

At least, I don’t think it is.

From the clickbaity “According To Science, This Is The Perfect And Best Road Trip You Can Possibly Take.”

WITH THE HELP OF A SOPHISTICATED ALGORITHM, THIS ROAD TRIP ALLOWS YOU TO START IN ANY STATE. JUST HOP ON AT THE POINT THAT RUNS THROUGH YOUR STATE AND KEEP GOING UNTIL YOU’RE BACK AT YOUR STARTING POINT!

That’s from the linked article, but the two source articles, “How to Really Drive Across the U.S. Hitting Major Landmarks” and “Computing the optimal road trip across the U.S.”, mention using algorithms for visiting all the major U.S. landmarks. That’s fine, but it’s not science. For starters, math is deductive and non-falsifiable, science is inductive and falsifiable. Those are two defeating differences. Am I wrong?

The title of the article is wrong in other ways, too: the “perfect and best road trip” is any road trip you prefer to take. Math and science have nothing to do with it.

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Jay’s Guide For Jay on the 2016 Presidential Candidates

Ignore this post, since this is a “note to self” type of thing. These are based entirely on my (mis)perceptions, or on very one-sided conjectures of what other people may think.

DEMOCRAT PARTY
Hillary Clinton – The queen bee female candidate. “Men and women are equal, but here’s how a woman would be better as president.” Benghazi emails. The strongest candidate on the Democrat side, because It’s Time For A Female President Since It’s Next On The List. She’ll lose some votes because she’s a woman, too, but people are generally familiar with her, which beats that factor out in many people’s minds.

Bernie Sanders – Appeals heavily to anyone who looks like they were in an iPhone commercial, but his message peaked too early. The Santa Claus act gets old, and he’ll burn out completely when some of his supporters find out the nuggets he’s pooping out aren’t made of gold. Wouldn’t win anyways, because old, white, male, career politicians are ultimately unrelatable (hi, Ron Paul!).

The other Democrats – Couldn’t even name them. Good luck.

REPUBLICAN PARTY
Donald Trump – Doesn’t matter what his policies are, or who he insults. That people feel very, very outraged about him is irrelevant, because they are feeling something about him in the first place. His status is mythical already, because media folks have an increased clickbait article minimum for every election cycle, and he’s the primary target of their exaggerations and misquotes. He’s portrayed as a very, very outrageous person saying very, very outrageous things—bigoted, racist, sexist, worse than Hitler, probably urinates on religious texts and eats children. Has near-complete control of any room or conversation he’s in. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has a lot of interesting analysis on him. I find Trump a fascinating character, which means what he’s doing is working.

Jeb Bush – Always looks like he just wandered into the cool kids’ party while looking for a port-a-john.

Rand Paul – The hairpiece candidate. Ousted by Trump as the weirdo guy in the party, so his edge has been filed away. Won’t win by a long shot; an ersatz version of his dad.

The other Republicans – Ben Carson. Cruz? Christie? Some ex-CEO? I think a black guy? No idea who else is running. They won’t win because they are forgettable, especially when everyone is focused on Trump.

LIBERTARIAN PARTY
Gary Johnson – Seems okay as a person. Policy ideas aren’t terrible. Doesn’t take things too seriously (I thought this was funny), and the #FeelTheJohnson mock hashtag works in his favor. Won’t win because normal voters are scared to death of breaking from the herd—unless that breaking is paradoxically, “safely” fashionable. Libertarianism is cool these days, but not cool enough. Some jaded Republicans and potheads might vote for him then lie about it on social media, but very few people will openly voice support for someone the media ignores most of the time. To be ignored in a presidential race is synonymous with losing (see my comments about Trump), and we want to be on the team perceived to be winning.

GREEN PARTY
Jill Stein – A short, forgettable name…literally. The grade school gym teacher probably passed over her name constantly whenever he did the clipboard roll call. She’s a lot like Johnson, but she’s easier on the eyes. Anyone who is reasonably attractive at an old age probably has superpowers. She’s female, so she has the novelty factor in her column. Won’t win for the same reasons Johnson and Clinton wouldn’t win.

OTHER PARTIES
Nah.

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Star Wars Theory: Rey Worked at the Tosche Station

Not really a theory. Just something fun, because I can’t help it sometimes.

luke_rey_power_converters

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The Jay Test

Facebook friend Mike Duran posted about the Bechdel Test on his wall recently. I had never heard of it, but I’m happy to report any conversation between women appearing in Pale Blue Scratch fails the test. Well, not exactly happy; I’m really indifferent toward it. However, I don’t play the gender culture war and I don’t acknowledge finger-wagging moralists (looking at you, feminists and MRAs). That something I create might fail a silly test of one side is icing on the cake.

So, as a modest proposal, I offer my own test: the Jay Test (working title…I’m not that conceited, and “Jay Test” is easy to remember). Here it is, called out via the glorious h2 HTML tag:

A story passes the Jay Test if 90% of all the casualties in violent conflicts that occur in said story are female casualties.

I use 90% because of the non-academic estimate on my part—90% of all deaths in narratives seem to be male deaths. The “male death” ratio is heavily skewed by war films and books, simply because wars produce the greatest number of deaths. There are other genres—horror, for example—where the deaths aren’t as one sided, but the death count isn’t nearly as high.

For the record, not only does Pale Blue Scratch fail the Bechdel Test, it fails the Jay Test, too. Spectacularly. Lots of dudes dying in that book. No ladies.

EDIT: To tie this into Star Wars, as is the subject of this blog lately, see this video*. It’s a little flabbergasting to me, that a half-naked (attractive) female has a parent so riled up, when in the Star Wars prequels, there are damn well over 4 million cloned men, created specifically to fight and die in battle. The clones were also “conditioned to be absolutely obedient.” If Star Wars has a sexism issue, it’s this one. As I said, I don’t care about this…creating a clone army of men makes perfect sense, since men are more drawn to perform physical violence, etc. I’m using this example via reasoning by another framework, not my own.

* Interesting point about Leia’s slave outfit: it’s supposed to be demeaning. That Jabba stuck her in one is within his character, and the nature of owning another person. You’re not going to give a slave, male or female, a crown and scepter, are you?

EDIT 2: I’m retracting my perfect failure score for the Jay Test, for Pale Blue Scratch. There’s a scene were some people die, but it’s not explicit that it’s only men. In my mind, there were women involved. Also, “casualty” should be more defined if the test were to be administered. Is it just deaths, or can physical injury count? If it’s the latter, a female character in PBS gets injured often, almost critically.

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Dishonored Completed

I just finished playing Dishonored. Good game! It was my first stealth FPS, so I had adjustment issues after gorging on Halo installments for so long.

Dishonored has high art direction value, taking a lot of aesthetics from Industrial age British fashion. That, and the dystopian decay plot point lends itself well to the alternative technology seen in the combustible whale oil. I was keen on this ever since looking into steampunk and alt-tech when I started Pale Blue Scratch. Dishonored even uses the vintage “natural philosopher” term for scientists.

See the gameplay below. You can also check out the three different types of endings here, depending on how much “chaos” you create. More killing = more chaos, and a less-happy ending.

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Star Wars Theory: Rey Will Bring Balance to the Force

I mentioned before that I thought Rey could be Luke Skywalker’s daughter, and there are theories that she could be Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. There were hints of Obi-Wan being romantically/relationally attached to someone, in the prequels, and in the Expanded Universe (EU), Luke had children with Mara Jade. Since a lot of the EU isn’t canon anymore, anything could happen.

What I do predict is that Rey will bring the prophesied balance to the Force, the balance that Anakin failed to bring in the prequels. But, one possible path Abrams, et al, could take is a Hegelian balance: she will end up being not a Jedi or a Sith, but a synthesis of the two opposing sides.

There was a hint of this Hegelian resolution theory that Mace Windu, one of my favorite Jedis, was the chosen one, and Windu’s death scene in Revenge of the Sith can support this. At that point, Anakin was still a Jedi, and Palpatine was a Sith. Notice how Windu’s willingness to kill a defenseless (seeming) Palpatine would’ve been an action both the Jedi and the Sith would oppose. Windu embodied the balance of the Force by synthesizing both Jedi and Sith, while transcending them both. Windu, both literally and ideologically, was caught between the two, and Anankin’s choice to side against Windu tipped the scales over to the Sith.

Abrams can emphasize this by making Rey a child of a Jedi—a Skywalker or Kenobi—and a Sith. Since Rey looks fully human, the mother would have to be human, which lends a little more credence to the Mara Jade scenario, if Abrams decided to rewrite her as a Sith.

If Rae will be the balance, this brings in another question: the Jedi (Luke and anyone else), and the Sith (Kylo Ren, Snoke, and anyone else), will have to somehow relinquish their use of the Force. If neither side is willing to do that, would Rey need to defeat them both…which means, if Luke is her father, she’d have to defeat him. This would tie up the prophecy plot line from the prequels, as well as end the literal cycle of the Jedi vs. Sith power struggle.

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