Time Heals All Wounds, Then Kills the Patient

A blog by Pat Gunn
Staggering Feet
Date: 2018-Sep-17 01:23:48 EST

I recently saw a video on YT talking about behaviour of pet cats - one of the points that stuck with me is that cats rarely talk to each other but they talk a lot to humans. This does fit my memory, but I'm surprised I never noticed it. And there's still the question of what nuances I should read into it - there's a sample bias in that I only am around to see some cat interactions, while my cats are there at my home all the time. And a lot of my interactions with my cats come down to them bothering me for food or water, so it's structural. They mostly talk to each other as warning when play fighting gets too rough. I wonder too if talking for them is a second resort, to be tried after body language (which I presunmably only would sometimes pick up on). It's a fascinating topic and something that now resides in my head as another data collection impulse. Like a TSR from the DOS days.

I feel some empathy for Rick Scott in this circumstance, in that any kind of historical analysis is tough. I don't think I would or should get down to a short answer were I to be asked this - at the very least I'd start with the distinction between what we knew then and what we know now, and move on to analysis of effects, principles, and so on. To really get a yes or no answer, the question would have to be phrased differently.

Given how happy I was to see superdelegates largely drained of influence in the Democratic Party, I am still intrigued at various articles about it. There's a certain tendency to decide that certain groups deserve an extra balancing effort in our political representation, and this does go against that tendency. I don't have very strong feelings about this (the way our elections work do legitimately have this effect), but I've come to lean against that tendency, to the level of feeling enraged by the way NYC community board members are not elected, they're handpicked to be representative along whatever lines politicians find representative. This, I think, makes them illegitimate.

This article on CDProjectRed is in my view entirely wrong-headed - to argue that poking fun at some kinds of activism necessarily means hostility to whatever cause they're poking for is making an unfortunate leap, and if widely adopted would leave us unable to criticise bad activism.

CNN has a ranking of 2020 potential democratic candidates. They have at least 1 serious error upfront - that further-left candidates are winning, but it's still an interesting list. Among them:

  • Elizabeth Warren is someone I would wholeheartedly support for higher office, even though I wish she were less less forceful in congressional interrogations
  • I am wary of Kemala Harris (significantly because she is from California and the political culture there is more PC) but haven't yet seen much about her that actually bothers me. If she runs I'll need to learn more
  • I could support Biden, but reluctantly because I think he is very poor on foreign policy
  • I am wary of Kirsten Gillibrand for her stance on ICE (I think it's done just to appease nutty activists and I don't want the party to do that). Would need to learn more.
  • I think Bernie Sanders is too old to be president and I don't know where he is on foreign policy. If he's nominated I'd support him, but I don't think at this point he's the best choice.
  • I don't trust or respect Cory Booker.
  • I don't know much about the rest. If they become prominent I'll study them
There's been some backlash against Netflix pushing for Ciri, a main character in Witcher 3, being recast to be a minority race in an upcoming TV series. I am usually a little irritated when I feel choices are being made in fiction writing for activist purposes rather than what's good for the story or true to the world the story takes place in. I'd rather we societally turn our backs on authors that do that, and in our personal notions of canon, expel their works - "smells like activism" is a sour, unworthy scent. That said, I don't think it's ever appropriate to harass authors or actors or directors over stuff like this. We're not entitled to have fiction written to our whims, particularly when with any story, the pen is waiting there for us to weave what we like (if in our heads and in doujin) with whatever stories we have heard. For those of us who consider DrWho to have ended in the classic series, who is going to come to our doors and insist we change our views? Nobody. So there's no reason for us to harass others just because they got their canon turned into a movie or a comic or whatever. We still have our own canon, and harassment is not acceptable.

There are interesting issues with this call not to call Alamo defenders heroic. Namely, does one need to fight for a side that's geopoltically decent in order to be a hero, or is it enough to fight for one's community? Could someone defending a kibbutz built on stolen land be thought of as heroic? Could the attackers? Could there be heroes on both sides? Looking at the history of Texas, I think the American settlers were, at least as a group, dastardly and deserved to lose; the Mexican government offered them a place to build with the understanding that they would be Mexican citizens, and they broke with that. I am unsure how to define the word hero though, so I don't feel I can reach conclusion on this issue. I feel I at least know how I should think about it though.

Here's a cute article on Batman and fighting crime. I am intrigued to see a different critique of Batman from mine (I think Batman is mentally ill and deeply irresponsible, and don't consider him at all a hero), focused on more of a rehabilitation ethic. It's unfortunately unfulfilling in that it doesn't suggest a solution for the characters so much as a change in the narrative world to encourage readers in healthier directions. I would rather accept the given world and make Batman harsher. The Injustice storyline goes further and lays out the spectrum, albeit populated mainly at the extremes and gently suggesting that the death penalty is akin to fascism (Injustice Superman being essentially that).

Finally, Politico asks a fascinating question - what would a socialist America look like. There are many potential answers depending on flavour, but the flavour I'm imagining would be heavily Technocratic, influenced by Nordic countries (although getting the worker protections right would be incredibly fiddly), and still a weighty player on the world stage, in favour of healthy international norms. The cradle-to-grave care that is occasionally promised and talked about in the UK would be a guideline, but with fairly skeptical analysis of each right we might grant people. Economically, competition between collectives would be a norm for business.



Glimmers in the Eyes
Date: 2018-Sep-15 03:47:28 EST

I've been having a weird health issue turn up more often - hoping it never gets too frequent. The weird shaped afterimages one gets from scrunching one's eyes too hard - I've been getting them occasionally randomly for awhile, making it a bit hard to read things. It feels like maybe I stared at something too bright for too long, or something like that. Possible this relates to a weird non-migraine headache I'm having right now that I've occasionally gotten before - may correlate. This headache is easy to miss because compared to a migraine it doesn't hurt that much. Will have to keep an eye out for this correlation in the future.

Recently someone I follow on social media - much more into the "social justice" camp than I am, was devastated that someone he looks up to (another "social justice" sort) saw one of his posts and blocked him. It bothers me that he seems to assume that he legitimately did something wrong and needs to improve. A long time ago I largely cut myself off from most impact of criticism by others, particularly activists; I decided that the definitions and the estimations that others have (of me and otherwise) are theirs, mine are mine, and they don't need to have anything to do with each other. For practically everybody, were they to offer harsh criticism, it wouldn't bother me much unless their estimation implies some other kind of impact might come (e.g. they won't want to work with me on a project), and any bother would likely come from that. It probably helps me maintain this that I pretty much hate activist-style thinking and find it easy to discount people who do it, but it is more broad. I know that all sorts of terms, from privilege to all sorts of isms or phobias, are very definition-heavy, and even when I agree that something fits in the bounds of one of these, I'm also not going to accept that it's always wrong to be for all such words that can get that suffix. And so I've pre-defused a lot of things that might otherwise bug me. I recommend this to others - it's a lot less stressful than what I remember it was like before.

Been thinking a bit on felony disenfranchisement - I think of it much like I do the death penalty - I am entirely okay with it in theory, but there are too many things that need fixing with our current system for it to work fairly and until they're fixed, I can't approve of it in practice. At least not broadly. The main beef I have with it is that the definition of a felony doesn't line up well with crimes that should be considered serious enough to disenfranchise, and I accept the secondary argument that selective restoration (based on personal convictions of judges acting with little guidance or oversight) is a very dangerous tool. This issue was brought to mind by a recent Jon Oliver segment on it.

Been rereading the Darksword series. It still feels juvenile, but I'm also still enjoying it.

Recently came to realise that one of the perspective-defining ideas I've been chewing on for awhile - "it's okay to be from somewhere", might be seen as a moderate stance between two extremes:

  • That when we visit another culture we should learn a lot about its norms/taboos and try to fit in
  • That when we visit another culture we should be careful not to do so in order to avoid appropriation
It's not exactly that simple in that at least some people who are concerned about appropriation mainly are concerned about some kind of inappropriate use - for example visiting another nation and dressing as one of their peons might be okay but dressing up as a tribal leader would be inappropriate because that rank was not earned. And there are all sorts of other possible ideas in this space too. Still, I had not recalled that second argument until now and it's interesting to see that perspective shifted a bit.



Winds within Clouds
Date: 2018-Aug-28 03:15:44 EST

Tomorrow's the trip. I had a nice wrap-up (or at least, ready-to-put-down-for-a-bit) with some things at work today, which was nice. There's a data server called DVID that's been kinda frustrating for me for awhile, in that it was taking ridiculous amounts of RAM to generate tiles for data I had loaded into it. I've been learning to work around those limits (and will have to get around putting a diff together to improve its docs). I also think I've figured out how to work around a bug with loading segmentation layers that's rendered the main documented way of doing things not usable for us; there's another API that has no sample code and isn't that well-documented that I wrote a util to talk to. I'll try that last bit when I get back.

I haven't started packing yet, but my train's at 14:00 or so tomorrow so little is lost in putting it off until now or even tomorrow. Most important thing is to get the devices I'm taking with me into a well-charged state, which I'm doing. Might spend some time tonight trimming the schedule more. Intrigued that Richard Garriott will be there; he's one of the few legends out there that I've never interacted with at all.

A few thoughts on things:

  • Awhile ago I commented, on Twitter I think, that I felt NYS's Governor was likely in the wrong for using government officials to push businesses away from the NRA (I don't have particularly strong feelings about the NRA one way or another, and I don't have strong views on gun regulation either - I'm pretty neutral). The ACLU filed a brief in support of the NRA position here, which I am glad about ; there's been concern about the ACLU wavering on its core mission and instead aligning itself with liberal politics. I really don't want it to do that - it smacks of tribalism. I hope this is a sign that the ACLU will recommit to civil liberties and reject being selective.
  • Even if he's a very good leader, I think PM Ahmed needs to take active measures to stop his cult of personality. It's unhealthy.
  • This needs to happen more often - taping of sexually inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. It takes things beyond a clash of claims by providing something concrete, and at least for those of us who care about evidence, it lets us feel comfortable in demanding people face consequences.
  • I recently got into a discussion on twitter on community boards in NYC - they're appointed rather than elected. An advocate of them felt that this is a good thing both because the elections would be expensive and that appointments ensure a diverse representation. I find this very hard to trust, and it effectively undermines their legitimacy in representing neighbourhoods.



The Big Run-Up
Date: 2018-Aug-26 19:36:55 EST

DragonCon is coming up, and like with the last few years, I'm going through the app and starring all the things I *might* be interested in going to, basically so I have options that I know I'm possibly interested in while there. Chances are I'll have a migraine for part of my time there, but that's okay. I've figured it in; it's just part of what I have to work with. I have a good amount of reading material queued up for the train trip, which I'm quite looking forward to.

Today I spotted on Twitter a HeterodoxAcademy thing in Washington^2 where they advertise having interesting conversations with random people. I went; it was pretty good, although one of the conversations went on a bit long and was a bit too focused on me.

Yesterday after work we had one of our social events, and I chatted more with a coworner and his wife that I've always felt generally positively about ; he and his wife are from india, and we talked about world politics, Indian culture, faiths in India, and challenges in reforming healthcare. It was one of the better conversations I've had in a long time. It's often so hard to find people capable of a good conversation, but today and yesterday have been bizarrely good.

Right now, I'm enjoying a rest at a Think Coffee near where I live, near 14th and 8th. Or is it 14th and 9th? I don't remember. Doesn't matter. They're playing some rather nice jazz. My phone tells me it's some Miles Davis. I've recently been impressed a lot at the musical tastes at some places I frequent, from here to the rolled pizza place right around the corner from my home (which plays French Jazz) to the Art Cafe (usually South American contemporary music).

I gave my first Chaos Eng meetup with an intro talk. It went well I think, and one of the Netflix engineers that pioneered the name of the field was there and was able to contribute more insight.

Forgot to actually post this on Saturday, now it'sSunday and I'm in the Art Cafe. The place is hopefully doing well now - it has a lot of people a lot of the time, so provided they know what they're doing it *should* be doing okay.

The Unix subsystem stuff continues to be awesome on ChromeOS ; I'm slowly expanding my use of it and apart from needing to be aware of the networking configuration, everything I try is doable. Font sizes are a bit wonky though.



In the Hands
Date: 2018-Aug-11 15:33:49 EST

A memory:

My father and I had done karate together for awhile at this studio - we were not in a hurry to get particularly good, but it was a way to spend time with him, and it was fun. Eventually the studio closed (I think they were not making enough money to stay open) and the guy running it, who looked kinda like a middle-aged kinda muscular hippy, offered to sell my dad the training materials he had. I got around to asking him about certain things he did with his fingers when displaying moves, and he said that he did that because it looked cool.

I don't think I reacted much at the time, but it left an impression. Sometimes things really are pretty simple and not that meaningful.

I still believe that a good metric to understanding life is to try to pull a lot of meaning out of things people say and do, but I'm also wary of pulling meaning out that wasn't there to begin with. Although later in life I layered on "death of the author" in the sense that one can get life lessons from people that they did not intend to teach, and this generalises easily to cultural products as well. If someone reads a lot into a story or artwork that the author did not intend, that may not be great communication but it is great personal journeying.



Flying Water and Falling Air
Date: 2018-Aug-05 22:12:50 EST

Perpetually finding it weird how scarce a thing attention is, within myself. I keep training myself to be more conscious - to do something I think humans rarely are meant to do - to stay in "figure it out" mode for longer periods of time. And I can manage that, with some difficulty. I think it has and will continue to change me, and it imposes some kinds of hardship, but to me this is what life is about - those moments when our mind is open. In doing so, I feel another constraint ; not having a lot of energy with which to make change. I'm often okay with this; not all thought need produce results, but on occasion I wish to it's still hard.

Work? Going well, I think. As always I end up using some of my skills more, and some barely at all, but I've found a happiness in that the things that bug me - mostly relating to how we do infrastructure, which feels really creaky - don't bug me all that much. And I find myself continually carried by a sense of wonder at the natural universe. That's pretty amazing, enough so that I don't mind putting the part of me that likes making arrangements out of order and chaos to bed. At least for the foreseeable future. I'm still going to selectively reach out to past coworkers who seem suitable to see if they might want to join us. I have a fondness for a lot of them, even though I usually kept it a distant fondness. Being close to people is still very wearing for me.

Spending part of today at a local place called ArtCafe; I keep forgetting this place exists, but it's very pleasant. The owner and his family that run it are from Spain, I think. Reminds me how I noticed yesterday that Citizens of Chelsea is run by an Australian family; I'm not used to seeing those nationalities heading abroad for entrepreneurial adventures.

A few thoughts:

  • Worrisome to see accomodation taken way too far. I've known a few people who went through Yeshiva who really regretted it; they ended up with poor social skills and knowing nearly nothing about broader society, giving them a really tough time holding down jobs. I'd probably ban them if I could.
  • Facebook's agreement not to discriminate in ads seems pretty nutty to me; worries about discrimination only make sense in a few realms of life, and what adverts one sees are not one of them. Beyond that, I think this would make adverts far less effective, perhaps on the level of television or less. I don't understand the motivation, unless I'm reading this all wrong and this isn't social-justice handwringing so much as privacy. But I don't think I am. And apparently they were pushed by Washington state.
  • Not sure why, but apparently Osacio-Cortez and Sanders are spending political capital on trying to elect a Muslim to governor of Michigan. I don't really support this, not because I see Muslims as particularly unfit to rule compared to Christians or Hindus, but because I don't want religious people, particularly people who openly talk about their religion, to have political office. It should be legal for them to run, but I see religion as a defect rather than a positive trait. Not that any single trait should damn people, and I have had good friendships with religious people. But to me it was always a minus on the ledger.
  • San Francisco is trying to get tech workers in the city to not use in-company cafeterias. I can understand why, not really sure what I think about it. I enjoyed the in-company cafeteria when I worked at Dropbox, and have enjoyed it at other places; it helps with social cohesion within a company. At the cost of reducing it with the rest of society. And sometimes, particularly in SF, that mingling is awful because San Francisco is an utter shithole. As NPR recently did a good article on. Social Justice advocates have done their best to make it hard to talk about this problem; with any luck this will backfire against them and reduce their ability to close dialogue on other specifics.
  • It's good that people have examples to help them be less sensitive, in this case a ridiculous concern over offending people who still define Pluto as a planet. As is generally the case, I'm fine with people having divergent definitions; the problem comes when they try to force others to use their definitions. Most people are really bad at handling this kind of thing.
  • I'm not sure what to think about this payment mechanism for coding schools; in terns of aligning incentives correctly (for a trade-specific school), it's great, but it bothers me in that it brings non-transactional payment into education, and those feel more invasive. Almost as if someone is selling part of themselves. I know these are not entirely without precedent though. Maybe part of it is also that I think treating education as either a gift or a simple transaction feels more compatible with the nobility of the trait, and gratitude for the recipient. Plus it gives more control to the taught immediately after all the lessons are done.
  • This report is deeply worrying - that traditional Republicans are as a pattern losing primaries to Trump-style nationalists. It's worrying both in that we can expect shit policies from them, and because it's doubtful that our democracy will survive the new dichotomy. Either they won't win any elections, in which case single-party Democratic rule will be disasterous, or they'll win some and our politics will be brutal and uncooperative.
  • I had to read over this very carefully, but I think the NRA is probably in the right here, in that having elected officials using agencies of the state to pressure private businesses against ties to an advocacy org based on its stances is a terrible precedent and damages ideas of free speech. It may already be happening to some extent, but it's easy to understand it by flipping around the particular groups invokved to ones we're comfortable with.
  • Let's wrap it up with one of the more interesting concerns in the sciences - machine learning can (with lots of ground truth data and tons of expensive training) produce networks that produce human-like levels of performance. I've seen this up close in my current job at work. The concern of "science without understanding" is better understood as engineering without the preceding science. And, just like finding a tribal remedy that we don't understand medically, we could theoretically poke at our own products to understand them better, with the odd conclusion that we are adding new targets for something like biomimicry. We'd be adding to something like the natural world without immediately understanding it. It's bizarre to be in that position.



Ideas found in old drawers
Date: 2018-Jul-29 23:08:54 EST

When my cats were talking to me earlier today, it got me thinking about limits to our communication, and why those exist. Human languages are a technology suitable for thoughts from the highly abstract to future planning to the immediate, with an added usefulness in ordering one's own thoughts. Cats are more struck in the president and anticipation of the near future, and their language is much more limited. Could we imagine them having enough overlap that there would be a smooth gradient where we would have complete understanding of their language and then some? Why didn't nature do this for us? Why is there not a universal language? And then I thought about this some more and realised that lack of a common tongue may even be advantageous between human tribes, allowing for private conversations and deception and group cohesion, with natural selection offering even stronger cross-species benefits for unintelligibility. Should the crocs, hippos, and bison all speak the same tongue? Probably not.

My workplace has been closed for awhile due to an exploded water pipe near Madison Square. It reopens tomorrow. I am looking forward to this; I find it hard to be productive at home, and I both want to get stuff done and to be able to show others that I got stuff done. It also should be good to get back in the gym habit.

My recent trip back to Texas was nice; got to spend time with two uncles and my cousin Conner and some other family, catching a little slice of each of their lives. Also got some rather nice boots (Allen's Boots in Austin) and enjoyed some really great Chinese food in Houston. We did a Segway tour of the latter; I was a bit slower than the rest because I was uncomfortable at high speeds, and this may have annoyed them (and the two others on the tour), but I was overall happy with it.

While I was down there I chatted w/ Mark on something I've been thinking about for awhile - the oddity that people can tell when music they've never heard before is being misplayed. He noticed something that I missed before - that there's a narrow-form reason why a lot of errors are immediately obvious - musical keys are pretty concrete and misplayed notes usually fall out of key. My original fascination is there, but diminished in that in-key wrong notes, or bad improvisation would be a lot more rare and probably less immediately apparent. So this is disappointing because it diminishes the interestingness, but it's a reminder that it's important our ideas be challenged.

I also met the CEO of Conda, briefly. I wish we had had the time to talk further. In prep to chat with my cousin I learned more about what the company is doing, and the thing I'm using of theirs is more of a side-product (AFAICT).

On the way back from Texas, I found myself grabbing the airplane wall whenever the plane shook; some part of me knew that this was just instinct and that grabbing onto the wall would not plausibly be helpful (at least to the extent that the grab felt like a life-saving-urge rather than a don't-get-banged-up one) if the tube of metal I was in were to begin to plummet, but I find myself pretty comfortable with the idea that not everything we do in life must make sense; if it makes me feel safe, I'm intellectually comfortable doing it.

DragonCon is coming up. Looking forward to it, and also to the Amtrak ride down.

I recently have been getting into "The Good Place", a philosophically-aware comedy. Such things are pretty rare in public media, and they're doing a good job so far at portraying philosophy as having relevant things to say in real life (even though the character who brings these ideas in is himself not a doer).

Recently have been chewing on an indea - for most of the "holy books", or alternatively earth-shaking philoophical works (e.g. Rawls' Theory of Justice), could they be written today in our current political climate? Legally? Without being blasted as bigoted? I suspect the answer is often "no", both because of generally shifted social mores and because at least right now critical theory is one of the few cohesive sets of ideas with a grip on American culture. What should adherents think about this (if correct)? I hope they'd be willing to step up, realising this, and speak louder in the form of offering alternative frameworks of meaning and values (N - "write new values on new tablets"). Not every philosopher must, but I think there's a collective duty for us to undermine consensus on any single philosophy (or faith) when it grows too bold. Read too simply this sounds like anti-philosophy, but we should instead read of it as being for the practice of philosophy rather than its product.

On the sneakiness of language - in politics people get a lot more frustrated with a locked door than with a wall. People think about walls as part of the lay of the land, while a locked door is a restriction to rage against. The surveyor or philosopher may see them as the same, while the savvy debator may convert one into the other to get people to stop thinking about some possibilities.

Through Quillette I've been following, at least for now, a Rabbi Josh Yuter. A recent tweet of his reminded me of a particularly traditionalist perspective on tradition that ties into conservative politics - the notion that the test of time provides validity. There is something to this, but it's easy to overstate. The test of time at best provides supplementary validation for a set of ideas, in that if one cannot reliably develop ideas of causality to fully understand a domain, one at least knows that the ideas tested are not grossly destructive. If an economic or social theory regularly results in destruction, it's a good sign that, at least with all the specifics present, it is not viable. These ideas not leading to destruction doesn't indicate that the ideas tested are actually positive. I offered the idea of a family tradition dating back centuries of always tapping one's nose right before a meal. Here we understand the mechanisms of food and health and so on well enough to know that the nose tap does nothing, but without understanding those mechanisms, the "stood the test of time" would still be present.



Accountability for Words
Date: 2018-Jul-15 19:33:37 EST

It looks like Sasha Baron Cohen's next expose is set for release too, this time poking fun at the willingness of some American pols to endorse arming of preschoolers. I find his style of humour right on the border of being too cringeworthy to watch; funny, but a little bit too mean. And this brings to mind the question of whether it's fair.

I don't believe in comedy or journalism as "speak truth to power". I think it should rather be, at least in that framing, simply "speak truth". Less powerful people today may be powerful tomorrow, and they're as ridiculous, and poking at the bizarreness of everyone helps us build perspective in humility rather than staring at clothes in a tumbler and cursing at them when they're at the top.

And so, having dispensed with that popular framing, we're left with some questions:

  • Is it possible in conversations to nudge or manipulate most people to say bizarre things based on conversational implicature?
  • If so, is it fair to judge them when this happens?
  • Do the pols involved have bizarre beliefs that they're careful not to say on camera absent prodding by journalists?
  • If so, is what Cohen gets them to say more of this than the former explanation?
  • Are there times people might "agree" with someone just to get them to go away?
  • When is it appropriate to go after people for their statements or beliefs?
These are tough questions. I would like to believe that people should be careful with what they say, that they should own their words, and that it is always fair to judge them for it (at least for a reasonable time after they say them; people change). That said, I think sometimes people let off steam and say things they don't mean, misrepresent their own views, and are easily dragged into saying things they don't mean unless they're very careful. People who study rhetoric or philosophy or who take part in debates may have an edge up in really paying attention to words, particularly if they're already less socialised and more resistant to peer pressure, but most people? Not so much. So there may be unreasonable standards. Most people, I suspect, were we to follow them around invisibly and hear all their conversations, would say things out of the general public sphere that are unacceptable in it. It may be unreasonable to only accept in public office (or other high-profile roles) people who are entirely fit for public consumption, and I feel that people may be realising this and becoming unhappy with PR (even as the most available examples right now far overreact).

Most people I have gotten to know have said some things that bothered me and which, if recorded, would end their political career. I have also said such things.

I think it's possible to take Cohen's works in a positive way where we adjust our expectations of what people say and become more tolerant of people's foibles, steerability, and speech, although that requires our mind to be set on that path already. It's also possible to want to want to purge such people from public life and in theory replace them with less quirky people but in actuality replace them with people who are more PR-careful. The latter seems a shame.



How we spend
Date: 2018-Jul-08 14:17:18 EST

Earlier today I spent a bit of time looking up a science encyclopedia I read cover-to-cover as a kid; the image of one of the covers in my room back in Brecksville popped into my head but I couldn't remember the name of the thing; with a bit of time on image search it turns out it was a Funk and Wagnall's Science Encyclopedia (multi-part, as encyclopediae generally were back then), with a grey cover and a "portal" in that with a topic-specific picture as I remembered. More or less. Was good to see it again.

Also amused at a thought that's sometimes run through my head over the years - how my two cats have some resemblance in personality (with maybe some persistent parsing in this direction too) to my childhood teddy bear pair - one light-coloured and female and more nurturing, one dark-coloured and male and more mischevious. I now wonder if I read some of my parents' personality (or role) dynamic into that.

Finally picked a Chirico artbook to get; was expensive since these things only rarely see print and in small runs, but I've been super interested for awhile and it seems like a reasonable thing to spend money on.

Just about ready to get NYCCHAOS, a local Chaos Engineering Meetup I'm starting, going. Organising a classroom for the first meeting, which limits the space but will be good until I know how many people will turn up. Starting an introductory talk, and as always trying to figure out what should go in fully, what should go in as a teaser for a future meeting, and what should be left out.

The ideas are flowing for more Oyschlisn stuff. I have one reasonably complete one and some partials. Will need to review against past content to see if I've done anything substantially similar to these or not.

Dubin's going to be in town this coming monday, at least for a bit. Grabbing a meal. It's been years. Will be good to catch up. Visiting my two uncles in Texas the week after; two-city trip. Should be fun.



In the heat of the evening
Date: 2018-Jun-30 18:12:15 EST

I'm reminded by another summer that NYC can get hot. And now I'm thinking about what it's been like to change cities; the building of new habits on a blank slate that can't happen fully in a city one already knows. The making the best of things particularly ; we value the process of learning, and the process of having learned, but the former diminishes if we focus on the result rather than the process. And both are enjoyable in their own way.

When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I got an initial impression of it, having driven with Debb up through Schenley Park into SqHill but not really knowing the area at all, that it was a city with its roads in ravines and its houses looking down over the road. That would be an interesting city, but it's not the city I came to know. And I'm aware that even now, as I project a narrative back over an image rooted in my mind, that it may have come from a dream - one of those dreams that's a twisted parody of real life, rather than an initial impression; all these thoughts are based on uncertain ground. But it's still the perspective I nervously choose among alternatives, thus a highlit part of myself. So does all this mean I'm thinking of leaving NYC? Not practically, but maybe in theory. I like it here, but it is also a place with some doors closed. Tradeoffs.

Sitting in Vineapple at the moment. 235W18 apartment is generally working out well, but my usual no-AC-ness is not that great on the hottest of days. Work? Going well. In the early stages of using our own in-house GT for machine learning, and having interesting difficulties with borders of regions and non-cubic training data. Plus the incredible amount of training needed to make the networks perform. That's a broader concern that humanity will need to work on. Health? Gym is doing me good I think. Today I got some running shoes to make it easier to exercise there. I still sometimes get dizzy spells, but they're brief. Migraines are still a regular agony.

This morning before I went out I found the old Oyschlisn stuff - the originals. Was worried they were lost. Likely to pick that up and move on with it.

A few things I've been thinking about:

  • I recently saw on my YT "things you might want to watch" section a video on people who can understand the accent of people that cannot understand theirs - it was treating this as a surprise that weirded me out (I did not waych the video); my expectation is that this is quite regular because understanding distant accents is a skill that some people probably have intrinsic variance in but also people can learn to improve it. I'm more puzzled by people that expect a symmetry there.
  • Internally we had a talk on Lie Groups as a mechanism for frameworks for how visual systems recognise objects across sets of regular geometric operations - shifts in the visual field, or rotations. It got me thinking about related shifts that are trickier - recognising an object after damage or aging. Interesting though that with aging in particular and maybe damage to some extent, decays in internal representation happen in the same time axis where these transformations are most common (although not always in the modern era, with TV flashbacks and old photographs).
  • Been wondering if the reason we don't have a Lexis-Nexus for medical issues is that the raw data feeds are tied up with ethical concerns over the medical records of individuals while in law most things are naturally public record. This is not a hard constraint for medicine, but maybe nobody wants to navigate that trickiness and take the legal risk
  • Peeved that companies that help people cheat in essays are brazenly out there on twitter with only the barest difference of their phrasing between theirs and outright saying "pay us to help you cheat" - example is thefreelancehub