Monthly Archives: October 2016


Interesting video. Robots “learn,” but within a very narrow set of parameters. Those robots featured are created for a very specific task, one that requires the accurate repetition and endurance that humans can’t consistently delivery. So they don’t learn so much as practice their programming until a specific standard of precision has been met.

Learning, the way humans do, requires a kind of meta-logic—probably many layers of it—that humans develop as a matter of course. We may know how to perform function x reasonably well, but how do we know when to perform one function x, as opposed to function y? We just do. We can consider, consciously and automatically, many different inputs that robots are unable to attend to, especially abstract inputs like linguistic or social cues. The computing power necessary for robots to learn like this is nowhere near as strong or complex enough, not to mention how much power is needed to support such a system. The industry is a long way off from that level of product viability.

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Short Film: Echo Torch

Excellent, no-dialogue film about a retro/steampunk blue light, a not-so-friendly ghost, and a fateful WWII-era dance.

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Photo: Yours Truly

Can you spot me? Look for the stud-in-the-making, sporting the impressive—most impressive—Darth Vader shirt this side of the universe.

Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 18

The Dull Men’s Club – I hope to be one someday. I may be well on my way.

Spain Is without a National Government — And Spaniards Are Digging It

Photo: The Primal Kitchen’s Coconut Cashew Bars – I got a free box. They’re good!

tricot – “KABUKU TOUR 2016 FINAL at AKASAKA BLITZ” Trailer – This was this teasingest teaser I ever watched.

‘Wonder Woman’ Comic Writer Reveals Superhero Is Bisexual – Why rely on good writing and artistry when you have trendy gimmicks at the ready?

The Fifty Shades Fantasy vs. Abusive Reality – Women are into torture porn in overwhelming numbers, but it’s all the guys’ fault. No autonomy for you, ladies!

There’s a Word for Buying Books and Not Reading Them

All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware – As long as it has one or more of those cool spinny things on the top, I’m okay with this.

Is our world a simulation? Why some scientists say it’s more likely than not – Scientists claim pseudo-scientific things. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong; they’re just not speaking from their expertise.

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Be An Insect

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert Heinlein

I like Robert Heinlein, though I have yet to read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in its entirety, but I don’t like this quote. I never have. Most of what he lists are doable for any adult with basic life skills, so I wouldn’t consider them specializations. Even if one never changed a diaper, a functioning adult with fine motor skills could figure it out after a few tries. After a dozen, with some careful observatons of results (and a good carpet cleaner), he’d be a master.

Some other things are specializations in themselves because they involve deep technical knowledge and learning, unless Heinlein cares if the human in question does a terrible job. I could butcher a hog but you wouldn’t want the results.

It’s like the myth of the full-stack developer. If you hire for that position, you can be sure of one of these things: your project will go over schedule, your project will go over budget, your new hire will quit because he’s working 80 hour weeks, or there will be at least one critical defect in every level of the application when regression testing comes after code freeze. Being a specialized insect in a highly technical job market is a good thing.

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Hiring and Firing

Oopsies at Yahoo:

In the [discrimination] suit, as reported by The Mercury News, Ard alleges Mayer encouraged the use of an employee performance rating system to “accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo’s male employees.”

Ard also accuses Kathy Savitt, Yahoo’s former chief marketing officer, and Megan Liberman, the current editor-in-chief of Yahoo News, of discriminating against men. As evidence, the lawsuit alleges women accounted for less than 20 percent of the “top managers … including the chief editors of the verticals and magazines” reporting to Savitt when she started with the company.

You might think, because I’m a dude who provides for his family by working in tech, that I’d be upset about this. I’m not. Hiring (and firing) managers should be free to hire whomever they want to hire, for whatever reasons. whether they are good or bad for the actual business. Only actual stakeholders have moral authority in setting that policy and decision-making, not any unaccountable third party.

In the same way Net Neutrality was stupid because no one, ever, at any point in history, has treated all information the same, trying to stamp out discrimination through public policy is stupid. Not just stupid, but impossible. It’s like asking someone to not see the color red; it’s quite literally not in a human’s epistemological makeup to not discriminate. It’s how healthy brains operate.

Mitigating effects of discrimination through state fiat is also impossible, since only certain groups in good favor with the bureaucracy will be benefit in these discrimination suits. Men qua men ain’t likely going to be one of those favored demographics.

Good luck, guy.

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Pale Blue Scratch Still Available For Free

There’s four hours left to download Pale Blue Scratch for free, over at Amazon. Hooyeah…

Unless I get a lot more downloads today, it peaked on the Amazon charts at #593 for mystery, and #29 for steampunk. Being a no-name, I’ll take it.


Giveaway over! It will return soon, though.

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Rise of the Dude Raiders

I listened to Molyneux’s analysis of Zootopia (video here and audio here)—which sounds like a terrible movie, by the way—when he mentioned the white feather phenomenon from World War I. A tough time for pacifist or “other principled” guys, for sure. Being rejected by women romantically is traumatic enough, so much so that most men preemptively select themselves out of possible interpersonal interactions most of the time when they come across someone they are attracted to. I can’t imagine being humiliated in such a public, conspicuous way as those 1914’s Brits were. Such is the power of ostracism: some men undoubtedly were incentivized enough to risk getting blown to bits in a trench in northern France just to avoid the ordeal altogether.

What happened to the economics of marriage after the war may have been interesting…Google probably has some interesting figures that I don’t care to look up right now. Similar conclusions could be drawn after World War II, when we got the televised überfrau housewife trope. The logic behind it isn’t complex: lots of American dudes died in WWII, and the ones that came back were in high demand because of scarcity and the perception that they were literal, acting victors. Women became highly competitive to attract all those marriage-aged veterans being paraded around, i.e., look nice, don’t give it away for free, don’t be a bitch, etc. Thus The Donna Reed Show and the genre’s ilk. The accommodating, good-looking 50’s housewife was less the result of insidious men or graying mothers nagging their daughters to hurry up with the grandchildren, and more about men and women simply reacting to market forces.

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Download My New Book for Free

Pale Blue Scratch is available on Amazon for free…right now. Go get it!

Edit: This applies to the ebook version only. Whew.

Giveaway is over, but it will happen again soon…

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Melon Shooter

In honor of me level-capping Lara Croft in Rise of the Tomb Raider, here’s a video of me doing a headshot chain in expedition mode.

Sometimes the Xbox One native recorder will capture things like this autonomously. While I didn’t have auto-aiming enabled, you’ll notice big head mode is, so it didn’t seem recording-level noteworthy to me. After my initial shot at the lantern (which did no damage to anyone), the enemy AI seemed more confused than anything, so their standstill position made the chain even easier. You’ll see the video stops right before my final arrow—another headshot—which really killed the mood and made the whole video kinda unsatisfactory at the end. Mass killings invoke moods, don’t they?

Please enjoy responsibly.

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