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Shaping

We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.

–Winston Churchill

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Choices

[…] there is no such thing as “Deregulation.” The choice is always simply between regulation by the public for the public or regulation by private powers for their personal benefit. In short, we must regulate our society through democracy, or the plutocrats will regulate our lives for us.

Matthew Stoller

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Bob Dylan and me

Are both big fans of Moby Dick and The Odyssey.

Now I’ll have to read All Quiet on the Western Front.

Pills

I may not be the strongest guy in the world.

However, I just got back from a climbing trip, so I’m not in the worst shape, and I can’t get this prescription pill bottle open without some serious rrrrrr.

What the heck is Kaiser thinking? Yeah, it’s safe from kids. Safe from anyone who doesn’t spend five days a week training too.

It goes, boys!

To quote my friend LH with regard to something she did a while back. Honnold solos El Cap.

Not exactly a surprise, as most everyone expected that it would be done, and he’d be the one to do it, but still, a welcome surprise.

Well done, sir!

What is also not surprising is the pearl-clutching amongst non-climbers that goes on regarding free-soloing.

What is surprising is to read the same sort of bullshit amongst climbers.

Amongst all the climbers I spoke to, all of whom were actually out climbing and not arm-chair soloing posting comments to a website, the regard was universal.

To address some of the pearls being clutched:

  • 14-year-old-boys (always boys) will be overwhelmingly tempted to imitate this death-defying feat.: And we’ll have to deal with Yet Another spike in the falling deaths of adolescent boys the same as when Honnold free-soloed Half-Dome, and when he free-soloed Sendero, and when he free-soloed El Cap, Half-Dome and Watkins in a day. Also when Auer free-soloed The Fish, and Potter free-soloed the Eiger, and Croft soloed Astroman and The Rostrum, and Heinz Zak soled Separate Reality.

    Oh wait. That didn’t happen.

    As it turns out, fear of falling to one’s painful death is one of those fundamental human instincts that even 14-year-old-boys have.

    14-year-old-boys do seem to be remarkably susceptible to influences such as sitting around eating Doritos and playing video games until they die of heart disease but for some reason this is a more acceptable influence from the fat-fucks posting such comments.

    Honnold’s father died at 55 running to catch a plane. Somehow this is an acceptable mode of mortality but doing something you love is not.

  • SAR will have to come clean up the mess some day mark my words.
    Won’t someone think of the poor first responders?
    : No one makes anyone join SAR. SAR is completely voluntary. If they don’t want to be out scraping up the brains of all the free-soloists, they shouldn’t volunteer.

    Don’t be detered by the fact that most of their time and money is spent rescuing or recovering people without basic reading or reasoning skills, who ignore signs that say “Danger! Don’t swim in the stream above the 500′ waterfall!” in six languages.

    No one ever seems to consider the feelings of the first responders who have to come pick up the 600 lb decomps who died with a bag of Doritos and a video game controller in their bedroom when the neighbors complain about the smell.

  • It’s selfish! He should think of his mother, his family, etc.: Human mortality, Peter Thiel literally drinking the blood of adolescents aside [1] remains at 100%. Everything is selfish.

Reasonable people consider projects like these idiotic to the point of outrage. That is perfectly defensible. Honnold doesn’t have children, but he does have a mother who loves him very much. If you count yourself among those inclined to negative judgment, and even if you don’t, I hope you’ll indulge a mental exercise for fun. Allow your mind to relax into the possibility that Honnold’s climb was not reckless at all — that he really was born with unique neural architecture and physical gifts, and that his years of dedication really did develop those gifts to the point that he could not only make every move on El Capitan without rest, he could do so with a tolerably minuscule chance of falling. Viewed in that light, Honnold’s free-solo of El Capitan represents a miraculous opportunity for the rest of us to experience what you might call the human sublime — a performance so far beyond our current understanding of our physical and mental potential that it provokes a pleasurable sensation of mystified awe right alongside the inevitable nausea.

Daniel Duane

 
 

[1] That’s what all the pearl-clutchers worried about the 14-year-old-boys (and girls) should be worried about.

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Rocket ships and immortality

My private mental ravings put into words, better, by someone else…

[A]n important question is how this globalized, unaccountable tech industry sees its goals. What does it want? What will all the profits be invested in?

What is the plan?

The honest answer is: rocket ships and immortality.

I wish I was kidding.

— Maciej Ceglowski

So they worry about how to give Mars an earth-like climate, rather than how to give Earth an earth-like climate. They debate how to make a morally benevolent God-like AI, rather than figuring out how to put ethical guard rails around the more pedestrian AI they are introducing into every area of people’s lives.

The tech industry enjoys tearing down flawed institutions, but refuses to put work into mending them.

Read the whole thing, as they (used to) say.

tl;dr (as they now say): what happens when someone truly determined, and perhaps not with your best interests at heart, takes over the machine these proudly non-political nerds have created that controls your lives. Politics is what decides what happens; if you refuse to play it, it means you are playing badly.

Because colonizing Mars and immortality ain’t gonna happen. It’s too damn powerful to not be used.

The scary version? They already are.

Just sayin’

I’m not saying this is all because the Cubs won the Series…

but it’s because the Cubs won the series.

Perfect

This is perfect.

Pasadena Police Department will step up Bike & Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations on Monday, May 15, 2017 with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

This operation is also in remembrance of [a seven year old kid], who at the age of seven, was struck and killed by an inattentive motorist while crossing the street in a crosswalk with his family in May of 2014.

A pedestrian gets hit by an automobile, and in his memory (and he should be remembered, but not like this), the police are going to tool a bunch of pedestrians and cyclists.

That’ll learn those drivers to pay more attention.

It’s not called the Automobiles Not Hitting Bikes & Pedestrians Enforcement Operation In Memory Of A Child Killed By An Inattentive Motorist Safety Operation.

Bliss + letdown = constant

Climbing makes me happy. Being a position where I have to rely on others to belay me and thus dependent on their flakiness makes me unhappy.

I propose, that like the amount of sunlight that any given spot on the earth receives in a year [1], this relationship is bounded on the lower end by a fixed constant. This lower end can be stated as the insolation – the better climber you are, the less likely it is that your belayer will bail on you. This is an equatorial relationship. While the Arctic and the Equator might get the same number of hours of daylight, the Equator gets much more insolation.

[1] The Arctic and the Equator both get the same number of hours of sun – it’s just that it’s 12 hours a day on the equator, and 6 months per day at the pole. They don’t however get the same amount of insolation.

Linear relationship between excellence and sociability

The harder I climb, the friendlier people are to me. Below V5/5.12, I’m invisible. Above that, people start talking to me out of the blue. I’m pretty sure my RBF is the same above and below.

Same thing happened when I was running sub-55s 400m and sub-7 miles.

QotD 30 April 2017

I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.

–Antonio Gramsci, Letter from Prison (19 December 1929)

If it weren’t for rocks, we’d all be surfers

This person would be an awesome climber. She gets it.

I don’t surf. I wish I did, but I grew up on the ocean of the Great Plains.

Climbing is like this. Maybe moreso. Everyone fails, all the time. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough. Unless you are Adam Ondra or Alex Megos, you only send once in a while – unless it’s easy, in which case it might be fun but isn’t that rewarding.

If it’s rewarding, it’s hard, and the odds of success are low. Because the odds are low, it’s rewarding. You learn to embrace the failure. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

40 hours

“A fracture occurred” is how the powerpoint read. Meaning that working alone on a Sunday afternoon, the contractor broke the glass, leading to another check for $500k to the contractor – cost-plus, don’t you know.

Proof again, that will be totally ignored, that working more hours doesn’t save you money – it costs you money.

Even logical scientists who take on faith dark matter and dark energy and inflation and big bang cosmology on the a string of evidence that takes years of training to be able to rationalize the Rube-Goldbergian structure of, can’t look at both simple studies, and nation-state size statistics, and accept the evidence that working more than 40 hours per week is not only not productive, but counterproductive.

“Those studies don’t apply to me! I have years of practice working more than 40 hours! Also, I can multitask, not like those other unproductive suckers.”

In other news, all of us are better-than-average drivers. And lovers. And good to drive with two drinks.

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Damn you, Qualcomm!

TIL: The reason I don’t have a cellular radio in my laptop is that Qualcomm bases its supposedly FRAND prices on the cost of the device their radios are put into, not the cost of the chip. Qualcomm get more for an iPhone 7 ($1000) than an iPhone SE ($500), and would get much, much more for an MBP. Thus Apple using the Intel modem as much as possible, even though it’s markedly worse than the Qualcomm chip.

That’s why you can have an iPad with WiFi, or WiFi + cellular for $130 more, or a $130 USB dongle for your MBP, but you can’t have an MBP WiFi + cellular. Because the Qualcomm tax on a $5k device would be way more than the Qualcomm tax on $130.

On the other hand, it seems like Qualcomm is leaving money on the table – virtually no laptops have cellular modems in them, and most people can’t be bothered with a dongle. There’s got to be a point where the two curves meet, and they could lower the price to where the added cost to the laptop wouldn’t be a big Nope.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Missing the point

For years, decades, we’ve had only individual stories of cops shooting people. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Just go look.

Then one reporter decided to tabulate statistics. Get numbers. Collate data. Then what did RadioLab do? Did they analyze the data, get more data, make plots, do correlations, etc.? Any of the usual data analysis techniques that hadn’t been done before?

Nope. They ignored any big picture stuff, and decided to do two podcasts on individual stories.

Not that every individual that’s on the wrong end of an “officer-involved shooting” doesn’t deserve to have their story told! But we had that before. It’s called “the daily newspaper.”

We didn’t have statistics before.

But these guys, being 1) NPR and 2) data-ignorant, decided to not report on the data, because that’s hard, and requires thinking, and skill, and just go back to what’s easy.

Dammit. Missing the point.