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September 26th, 2015
07:07 pm


Don't trust anyone over 45
Thoughts on the Charleston church shooting and mental illness from someone who has mental illness, though I think it would be possible to think that way without mental illness.
Think about it this way: lead paint wasn’t banned from gasoline until the 1970’s. The average age of the US congress is 62 years old – meaning your average congressman spent about 15 years of their life – you know, the early part, when their brains were still developing – inhaling lead fumes on a daily basis. Lead paint is known to make people forgetful and violent. In other words, our country is lead by people who all suffered permanent brain damage as children, but learned to dress up in suits, say “please” and “ma’am” and all the secret stuff you gotta know to put on a happy face and pretend you aren’t suffering serious damage from the fucked up things we humans have done to each other – not to mention how we’ve treated the less sociable animals.


If the dog were wearing a suit, and insulted your culture, you might think it deserved to suffer –unless you could hear those sounds as the mechanism by which suffering moves itself through the universe. From the anger in a reality model to the pressure of the finger on a trigger, moved and amplified by the firing pin connecting to the charge, ripping valence electrons off of phosphorous atoms and connecting to the oxygen, pushing that anger out, through the bullets and into the larger world, where we are left to deal with the anger which was compressed and compacted into a hateful, cold sneer. There we go again, i’m letting my crazy out. He has the ‘bad guy property’, that explains everything perfectly with no need for further investigation. That’s what i meant to say.

I am perhaps more sympathetic to the idea of suffering moving itself through the universe because of having seen the animated movie of Gibran's "The Prophet"-- the essays have a theme of moving energy food, work, love, etc.

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September 15th, 2015
02:12 pm


Thinking about Kim Davis
For some reason, I've found the Kim Davis situation more funny than enraging. This is no doubt a result of a flaw in my character, but it's led in some interesting directions.

At first, I was just amused that the Republicans had found a workplace quality of life issue that they could support.

Then, it occurred to me that what Davis was doing was structurally more like a strike than anything else-- not doing her job, and not letting anyone else do it, either. These days, unions have been included in the structures of orderly behavior, but it wasn't always so.

There were also people who were angry that Kim Davis was being seen as a martyr. I think it's possible to be a martyr to a bad cause, and that while possibly losing a plum job isn't a horrible death, it isn't nothing either. While Davis is responsible for her own actions, I also blame the people who contributed to her believing that doing something mean and self-destructive made sense.

Davis presumably wouldn't have started refusing to issue marriage licenses if she didn't have a lot of people supporting her.

I don't have a feeling for how many people are in Davis' position of being able to refuse to do their work while being very hard to fire. Tenured professors? It wouldn't surprise me if there's an interesting back story about why Davis' county clerk job was so well-defended.

I was annoyed at the news coverage of "Kim Davis is spending another day in jail".... there are innocent people spending decades in jail, and that isn't getting day by day coverage.

Which gets to the "she should just do her job or leave" thing. Does "do your job or leave" make sense as an absolute principle?

It's certainly convenient in terms of civilization to have compliant employees, but on the other hand, while it makes sense as a personal choice to endure that sort of cost for the ritual aspects of religion (like not being willing to work on a particular day of the week), what about jobs that require actual evil? I don't think anyone, or at least anyone reading this piece, believes that Schindler should have just done his job or resigned.

Normally, like Schindler, people who object to their jobs to that extent do covert sabotage, and not being public has different effects than taking a stand.

There's a lot of evil in the US justice system. I can hope that there are people dragging their feet about sending ill-founded warrants to the police, but I'm not seeing public support for non-compliant public officials who refuse to enforce victimless crime laws or judges who block outrageous mandatory minimum sentences.

I wasn't expecting to end up here, but I'm wondering if what we need are more people who refuse to do their jobs for good reasons, and more support for those people.

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August 29th, 2015
01:24 am


Creeping common sense at CrossFit

For a long time, I've loathed the American worship of effort, and in particular, the idea that you prove your virtue by suffering when you exercise.

CrossFit was an exemplar of the problem-- an especially efficient method of getting people to exercise until they puked, and they'd think it was a badge of honor. A lot of people were getting injured.

Things have gotten better at Crossfit. At least some of their people have figured out that good form is crucial, and this includes maintaining good form when you're tired or under the stress of competition.

Also, specialization of one easily measured factor isn't a good strategy-- if all you've got is that you're very strong or have tremendous endurance, and then you keep pushing yourself, you might just break something.

If you don't have sufficient ankle mobility, you can't do squats safely. If you can't raise your arm straight up easily, you don't have the shoulder mobility to do bench presses safely.

Also, they recovering from simple-mindedness about what to eat. People were falling over because they were not eating salt at all. Also, individual variation matters. Some people are better at digesting saturated fat than others.

My apologies that this is a podcast without a transcript, but I think it's important to give credit where it's due.

If you're considering CrossFit, check out the gym you might go to carefully. CrossFit isn't very centralized, so these ideas about good form might or might not be in play.

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August 28th, 2015
11:36 pm


Movies as religion
A lovely piece about looking for a sense of purpose and finding it in loving movies.

Also-- and possibly relevant to the Hugos-- thinking that awards disrupt the connection between viewers and art.

Link thanks to Greg commenting at File770.

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August 26th, 2015
07:43 am


Do Libertarians Love Burning Man?
Question inspired by this, which argues that Burning Man is being damaged by the covert capitalism of allowing labor which is paid off-site (probably true), that the abusive nature of the practice is especially pure capitalism (not obviously true, but it's hard to argue with people about the essential nature of whatever), and which states that libertarians love Burning Man.

There's also a claim (probably plausible, but I don't have the background to be sure) that people (Americans?) are bad at acknowledging that working for money is selling labor.

Personally, I'm just cranky that labor which is not sold (what people do for themselves and for other people for free) isn't considered in the GDP. "Hard to measure" is not a good enough excuse.

If you are a libertarian, do you love Burning Man?


If you are not a libertarian, feel free to talk about Burning Man in the comments. If you want to talk about libertarians, please say something about your sources of information about libertarians. If all your sources are people who hate libertarians, consider the possibility that you aren't an expert on the subject.

I'm a libertarian. I don't love Burning Man. Let me count the ways. Some of this is personal-- I don't like being overheated, I don't like loud noise, and I just don't run at the necessary energy level. However, I think there's some ideological repulsion too-- Burning Man is just not libertarian because commerce isn't permitted. This doesn't mean I'm opposed to Burning Man, but it isn't my flavor of utopia.

Also posted to Dreamwidth.

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August 5th, 2015
02:12 pm


The old world changes....
It turned out that almost all the Hugo ballots were sent in electronically, with only 6% coming in on paper.

I'm reading a discussion of Worldcon site selection ballots, and the level of inconvenience of sending in paper (the only way currently available) for people who might not even have a pen or stamps in the house.

And my local gourmet store just had a show on the food network, but their customers (at least all who mentioned it) didn't have televisions.

I thought I was weird for not having a television, rather than typical, at least of gourmet store customers.

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July 31st, 2015
10:42 am


I voted for the Hugos
Just applying that little nudge for those who haven't acquired the round tuit.

Voting closes tonight at 11:59 PDT.

And I'm thanking whoever designed or chose the design for the online ballot-- it was easy to use and the fact that it stored my rankings but allowed me to change them was a great convenience.

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July 30th, 2015
07:42 am


Falsehoods Programmers Believe
This isn't because programmers are especially likely to be more wrong than anyone else, it's just that programming offers a better opportunity than most people get to find out how incomplete their model of the world is.

The classic (and I think the first) was about names.

There have been a few more lists created since then.

Time. And time zones. Crowd-sourced time errors.


Possibly more about addresses. I haven't compared the lists.

Gender. This is so short I assume it's seriously incomplete.

Networks. Weirdly, there is no list of falsehoods programmers believe about html (or at least a fast search didn't turn anything up). Don't trust the words in the url.

Distributed computing

Build systems.

Poem about character conversion.

I got started on the subject because of this about testing your code, which was posted by andrewducker .

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1071695.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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July 17th, 2015
11:42 am


When language meets big data
Here's a podcast from that list-- -- 17 minutes of looking at big data analysis of language from Kieran Snyder from Textio.

It turns out that Kickstarters that get funded are more likely to have a lot of text and (depressingly) a lot of different fonts.

And (their main product analyses job offers) that "synergy" turns job applicants off, and women are less likely to want jobs that advertise for gurus or ninjas. You can run other sorts of data through their job offer analyzer-- you might find something interesting.

I'm worried about what happens if big data is commonly used for language-- there could be a lot of tiresome convergence.

This has a text version some of what was in the interview.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1071374.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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11:27 am


Podcast Recommendations
I frequently listen to podcasts, but I've had trouble finding things I like. There's TED.com, but the quality is unreliable. There's Blogging Heads, but I want more variety. There's Hello Internet (recommended by dcseain ), which is intelligent, pleasant, and charming, but somehow I don't get around to it very often.

Cool Tools (the online descendant of The Whole Earth Catalog) is doing a survey to find podcasts to recommend, and I'm checking out their list. Any other recommendations?

99% Invisible


Bulletproof Radio

Cool Tools Show

Design Matters


Here's the Thing

The Ihnatko Almanac

In Our Time

The Infinite Monkey Cage


The James Altucher Show

The Joe Rogan Experience

Latest in Paleo

Little Atoms

Love + Radio

The Memory Palace

Mystery Show

New Yorker Out Loud

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Radio Lab

Reply All

Science... Sort of


Smart Drug Smarts

Snap Judgment

Song Exploder


Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project

Theory of Everything

The Tim Ferriss Show

This American Life

This is Actually Happening


The Truth

You Are Not So Smart

WTF with Marc Maron

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