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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.


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.


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.


Anytime I read a post in a tech blog (looking at you, /.) that talks about mining He-3 or telescopes <Vincent Price voice>on the moon</Vincent Price voice>, I know I’m dealing with an idiot and I can stop paying attention.

I was sitting on a ski lift listening to the other people talk – turned out it was one former Caltech engineering student, and two current astronomy profs, and they were going on about He-3 mining on the moon. I kept my mouth shut and skied the other way. Either some other subset of us was being polite as I was, but one and perhaps three nominally smart well-educated scientific person(s) on that quad were not immune to this humbug.

Other markers are:

  • Hyperloop
  • Hydrogen fuel-cells
  • Desalinization
  • Terraforming Mars
  • Anyone who uses the phrase “SJW” non-ironically
  • Singularity

The Venn diagram of people who believe these things is basically this: o

Not listed: Self-driving cars could be on this list, as most of the people who rant about it being the inevitable future don’t even think of the first-order problems, much less knock-on effects. It’s not on the list because I do think we’ll suffer through a few decades of a lot of bad implementations, because it serves a larger purpose of 1) taking money from the rubes, and 2) killing public transport and the infrastructure behind it. There’s a influential cabal (TINC) for whom both will be profitable and desirable. It serves both conservatives and the same people who think the gig economy is a good idea – the end result serves both their pocketbook and their philosophy. Sometimes these are the same people, but often enough the latter serve the former unwittingly.

It’s also not on the list because I still enjoy pointing out the flaws in the thinking of people who are smart-enough in other domains but somehow can’t think beyond I’ll-sit-in-the-back-and-read-an-ebook. They really, really, really want self-driving cars! And to a large extent they’re already driving Prius to save the planet. No cognitive dissonance there. ObGeorgeCarlin: the planet will be just fine without us.

What does it say that Elon Musk is behind a lot of these?

PotD 16 April 2017



PotD 15 April 2017

Horses for courses


Just what the doctor ordered

The so-called liberal MSM [1] hires another conservative from the WSJ to write op-eds.

His greatest hit? Stop hitting yourself!

Reason #423 in a list of thousands why the NYT will never receive another dime from me…

[1] There is no such thing of course. All the Sunday newsprograms are dominated by conservatives, all the daily newspapers op-eds are also conservative with a sprinkling of go-along/get-along (with the conservatives! Bernie is far too liberal to be taken seriously) “centrists” (meaning Reagan conservatives), and NPR interviews far more conservatives, far more kindly, than big-L Liberals.

PotD 31 March 2017

Alex car

Milo car

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