Monthly Archives: March 2016

Stabbing People’s Money

I knew Aaron was deep in economic knowledge, so I’m glad he posted some definitive armchair analysis of the funny business of large-scale, central planning of economies (emphasis his):

And about 20 years ago, I did precisely that. Arguably one of my best charts I ever compiled proved me correct – government spending as a percentage of GDP versus economic growth. Albeit boring and now making your eyes glaze over like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day off, the chart showed a NEGATIVE correlation between government spending and economic growth with a correlation coefficient of around .3.

The problem is that was 20 years ago and the data I had was not the greatest, merely what was available on the OECD at the time. So I figured it was time to pull new data and see if this relationship still held true. And boy howdy has it!

The title of the post, “More Proof Freedom is the Best Economic Policy,” is self-contradictory if one were to take it literally. It’s like figuring the best method of keeping someone alive while stabbing them repeatedly through the heart. If life is the goal, you don’t stab him in the first place. People tend to figure out how to stay alive by their own devices. The best policy is no policy at all.

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Rey Skywalker Is Not A Mary Sue

Going to backtrack a statement I made in an old Star Wars: The Force Awakens post. Rey Skywalker is definitely not a Mary Sue:

7. She cobbled together a computer from crashed ships and found a data chip with a functioning flight simulator program. She used the program in her spare time, like when she was trapped by the storm, and gained experience navigating a number of different ships.

8. She recognized violence was part of living on Jakku and learned to defend herself. She had to participate in so many fights over the years she can’t remember the exact number.

So she didn’t “just learn” how to pilot. On a desert planet with nothing else to do besides scavenge and (barely) eat, anything to break the monotony would be seized upon, hence her learning of mechanics and piloting. It makes sense she would be extra ambitious if she ever wanted to build some sort of ship to leave, right?

She also didn’t “just learn” the Force when she was able to resist Kylo Ren’s Force mind probing during interrogation. Ren is powerful, but Rey didn’t have a pampered disposition, so she had developed the mental fortitude of living in a sandy hell like Jakku to be able to fight back when Ren tried to pry secrets.

With all this, Rey isn’t half the Mary Sue (Marty Stu) Anakin was. A champion podracer at 9 year old?

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Happy Easter, 2016

Happy Easter! Please enjoy my favorite Easter song. If it’s not your first choice in music (understandable), at least read the lyrics, posted below the video.

Crucifixion upon the cross
Dying for sins, fulfilling prophecy
Beaten for His faith
Praying for enemies upon sacrifice

Forsaken in the eyes of God
Sins of man, to Him were taken
Innocent and blameless, death without purity

Place of the skull, Golgotha
Death of the Son

Descend into misery
His death to bring us life
Covered in the Blood
Supreme sacrifice
Bridging the gap
between God and man

Flesh torn, humility
Blood flows purely from the Cross of Calvary

Defying death
Rose from the grave to show it is finished
To show all before the ascension to empyrean

Atoning is the Blood of Jesus Christ
Give in to Him, live in the Blood of Christ
He rose, He rose, He rose, He rose, He rose

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Theory on the “Resting Bitch Face” Phenomenon

Explanation of “Resting Bitch Face” (RBF) here.

It’s simply subconcious mirroring of fashion model stoicism. If that’s what a woman exposes herself to enough, it could be at least a partial explanation, even if there’s no desire to model (heh) the model’s success, beauty, attention, etc. The mirroring may also be a modern hijack of cerebral empathy centers, where people mirror other humans they may see the most as a subrational means of connecting socially or emotionally.

There’s the “Resting Asshole Face” (RAF) for men, and though male models definitely exhibit this, the cause for prole men mirroring this are probably different. Men don’t care about fashion magazines and are maybe less prone towards modelling anonymous people, and may instead be more strongly inclined to model in-flesh men.

Regardless, the codification of both RBF and RAF face are peculiar to America and some other westernized societies. In many Middle Eastern and Asian societies, one is considered a fool if you’re in public with a permanent smiling facade–RBF/RAF would be considered normal and polite.

Give me counterarguments.

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Buying Coffee Without Money

Interesting idea from Meinl Coffee, if you can write and like coffee (the two usually go hand in hand):

On March 21st, World Poetry Day, we let our imagination wonder. We dream of a place where money is replaced by emotions. A better world. For one day, we’re changing the currency in coffeehouses around the globe. And Julius Meinl coffees or teas will be paid with your poems.

I can’t tell if they would also take normal tendered currency on the 21st, or if they would have any quality or plagiarism controls on the submitted poetry. Not everyone can write good or passable poetry. Do they not get coffee or tea, then?

Read that last sentence in the quote. Technically, it’s misleading, though it’s not meant to be a technical sentence and no one reads it as such. In praxi, between the customer and Julius Meinl, the currency really is poetry (anything can be money), but Julius Meinl actually pays for it, since they (probably) didn’t pay for their stock with poetry, and neither do the wholesalers, and so on up the supply line. At the very bottom of the line, it’s really not Julius Meinl but the customers exchanging tender throughout the year with Meinl, who are really paying for it. The cash register is the last point of value exchange. and the customers are paying enough such that Meinl can afford to offer coffee and tea for non-tender currency.

I’ll leave it to the more astute students of microeconomics to really get deep into this.

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Bug Cleaning

From Neil Gaiman’s American Gods:

A sad cockroach lay on its back in the middle of the tiled floor. Shadow took a towel and cleaned off the inside of the tub with it, then ran the water.

Besides being in the same paragraph, there’s nothing syntactically linking the cockroach to the “it” in the second sentence. Regardless, I read it as Shadow cleaning the tub with the cockroach’s guts smeared on the towel, much like a carpenter might stain wood with a cloth wrapped around his finger. Gaiman removes doubt at the end of the paragraph when he mentions the cockroach remaining unmolested on the floor.

Slightly off-topic: I had just finished Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which seems to have a lot of parallel plot points to this book (a magic carousel, for one). Bradbury went full poetic blast in that book, which was a bit of a turn off compared to Fahrenheit 451, where he (or his editor) held back just enough to make the text flow instead of stutter along. Bradbury writes fantastically about plain things becoming fantastic. Gaiman is the same, but writes very plainly without being simplistic. That’s hard to do.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 12

Pitt Students Completely Melt Down After Visit From Conservative Writer – Behold, the next generation of industry leaders and politicians. There’s lots of stories like these, but this is in my own backyard—I can see the Cathedral of Learning if I look behind me at work. Phobialist doesn’t list “an irrational fear of a different opinion,” but it should.

This University of Oregon Study on Feminizing Glaciers Might Make You Root for Trump – Nothing can make me root for Trump, but along with the first link, it will make me root for the implosion of western academia.

What was a Church Service Like in the Second Century – Spoilers: there was no rock band doing worship.

No, honey, you can’t be anything you want to be. And that’s okay. – Kids, probably you’re average.

A Great JavaScript Side Project is your Most Important Asset – I need a side project. Any suggestions?

Different Types of Blast Beats (with notation) – Educational.

The Seen and the Unseen of Electric Cars

Exo Bar sampler pack – I just got mine last week, plus another from a friend who found out she’s allergic. They’re good! Here’s a picture of one of the cocoa nut (not coconut) bars. As you can see, no cricket legs or weird things sticking out. Tastes different but not unappealing.

more overflow – a sketchbook journal by Marcia Furman – My painter-friend Marcia does a sketchbook blog with daily updates. Something nice to look at in the middle of my very serious RSS feed reader.

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You Keep Saying “User Experience” But I Don’t Think You Know What It Means

I usually like Aaron’s thoughts, especially on economic stuff, but he’s off here. UX (user experience) isn’t testing, though it involves that (and, by the way, application testing is a dedicated position). The biggest task for UX designers is logically organizing information, the user action path, and general interface, particularly on large-scale applications and websites. It seems kind of fluffy, but you don’t notice it unless you go to a website that is poorly designed and confusing. The UX industry is probably puffed up, for sure, but it still needs to be done. Leaving the product testing to consumers is an odd idea, anyways. No consumer product in the world has ever been released without some form of testing.

Application owners and developers, “do UX” by the nature of their profession. UX as a dedicated, even if temporary, position comes about when the application becomes too large to be effectively handled by someone with other things on their plate. Product owners need to manage their product on the business end, and developers need to…develop (!) the application code.

I don’t know a lot, but my job as a front-end application developer is literally how I put food on the table for my family. I “do UX” as a matter of course throughout my day, although large-scale UX for the applications I work on are handled by dedicated UX guys—and believe me, these people are needed. This is my mileage, and YMMV, but it seems Clarey is presenting reasons for the wrong dilemma.

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Analogies Are Not Arguments

As always, I don’t bother much with the political aspect (although at times it’s entertaining), but Scott Adams has some interesting “duh” insight in “Let’s Talk About Hitler”:

As I have explained in this blog before, analogies are not part of reason. Sometimes things just remind you of other things. That’s the beginning and end of the story. So if your opinion of Trump, or any other candidate, rests on an analogy to Hitler, it would be fair to say you are not using rational thought.

Analogies are excellent tools for explaining a new situation for the first time. And sometimes analogies help you recognize situations that are potentially dangerous before you have all the facts. It is completely rational to use analogies in those two contexts. It is not rational to make a final decision based on an analogy.

Analogies, or comparison of similar patterns, are not arguments necessarily, because they could just represent a similarity in form. Analogy of form is not necessarily an analogy of meaning, but people (voters) are rarely in a mental state to create a distinction. I can pencil out a square on a piece of paper, and compare the figure to, say, a square building, to a certain extent. That doesn’t mean the building’s walls are made of graphite shavings and paper. They very well could be made of those things, but the building-as-drawn-square analogy doesn’t address that.

EDIT: Here, also from Adams’ blog, sort of off topic. The mammalian parts of the human brain are wondrous things:

My favorite part of the post-debate coverage on the news was when Megyn Kelly said Trump looked “presidential.” She went on to say he seemed like the type of guy you might want to go to dinner with. Now compare that to her recent rebuff of Michael Moore when he awkwardly invited her to have coffee on live TV. In the 3D world of persuasion, Kelly is responding to Trump’s power and dominance exactly as one would expect. Trump will win with women, even against Hillary Clinton.

Amazing. Trump insults her on live national television, among other places, and she (eventually) warms up to him in a social context. Niceguy Michael Moore offers Kelly a platonic meetup, to which Kelly ews about. Physically, Moore is 100% schlub, and Trump is nowhere near an Adonis, either—but this isn’t about looks at all. Sometimes I think we’re just cavemen who figured out electricity.

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Facebook Deleted, and a Poll

I deleted my Facebook account. I remembered I had a GitHub account that I did little with—deleted that one, too. I had planned on doing that some time ago when they started getting infested with SJWs, but it fell off my radar.

So, an informal poll. I have the Links of Possible Relevance posts that I do, and since my Facebook is gone, I’ll publish more of those posts here. Would readers here prefer the Possible Relevance format, like a link dump, or a lot of smaller posts dealing with one link? I can see the Possible Relevance format being easier for me, but I’ll try anything.

You can leave a comment with your vote. I know some of you prefer email, so you can email me your vote or other ideas instead.

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