Archives, page 16

Date: 2019-Sep-01 05:34:12 EST

The marathon continues. Today was, despite neck problems continuing a bit, a fairly good day.

  • I started the day with a Naval War College presentation on Russia on the world stage. Kind of interesting assessment, but nothing particularly new to me
  • Popped back into the mall to have a cheap-ish indian street-food meal. It's not particularly good, but at least it's cheap
  • Next was "Bill Corbett's Funhouse", a live podcast thing where they talked about the phrase "Unpopular Opinion". This got a bit political, and one of the people who came up was also a religious person tired of people looking down on them for that. My guess is that people often use the phrase because they know they'll get some people pushing back against them if they're pushing against some existing taboo or societal consensus and to let those people know ahead of time that they don't much care. Gave Molly a lanyard from one of the neuroscience conferences I've been to (she put out a call on Twitter) and briefly chatted and .. elbow-high-fived with her. Was pretty rad
  • Then, a science of food panel which talked about a lot of things but mostly about recent advances in fake meat. Interesting stuff.
  • I had a break and chatted with some fellow con-goers, and then a former coworker (another ex Dropbox SRE). Didn't really have the time to catch up as she was there with friends, but I chatted with those friends a bit too
  • Then, a really great talk by a collector of antique instruments, where I saw a viol (da gamba family) and also a Strad. Heard him play some Afghan music, which was really magical. I regretted needing to slip out early to make it to the next event on time.
  • I attended the first half of a marathon of comedy and music, with more Bill Corbett and Molly Lewis (and some others before and after). Some of the people before were pretty meh. I liked their bits though, and slipped out when they were done.
  • Dinner at Mariott's nice restaurant. Same as yesterday. Same waiter. Same meal (almost - they were out of mashed potatoes so they gave me another kind instead). Not surprising given how narrow their veg options are.
  • Finally, went to a talk about the M87 black hole. This reminded me of an internal talk at work on the same topic, but they stressed somewhat different things. I asked how well we've characterised the stars orbiting M87 as I've had a tough time finding information on them (e.g. are they main sequence?). They said people are working on it.

So yes, generally a good day. I'm also pretty tired.

Date: 2019-Sep-02 04:19:22 EST

Things are coming near the end here. This is probably a good thing, as I'm getting pretty tired and a bit socially exhausted and I really miss my cats. Looking forward to heading back home (and getting back to work). I think next year I'm going to need to do better with snacks, bringing granola bars on the trip down and back. I don't have a lot of access to food at odd hours here, and that's a little uncomfortable (and occasionally expensive).

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Anyhow, before I left on this trip I was down to having about 30 tabs open on my phone. I'm back up to 80-ish, with things to read about, media to check out, and things I might write about. Unsure if that's good or bad, but it's a lot of stuff. Probably good to have that prepared for the trip home. My phone has not been amazing on battery for this trip; I should have brought a battery.

Tomorrow's sessions wrap up around 17:00. That leaves plenty of time for me to make it to the train station by 20:00.

Date: 2019-Sep-04 23:38:08 EST

I'm back from DragonCon now, and did a normal workday, but let's wrap up coverage.
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It's always sad when these things are over, but people are also pretty tired near the end. It was good to get on the train and start the trip back, and great to see my cats again when I got home. A few more general thoughts:

  • It was good to briefly hang out with a former coworker. I wish we had had more time to actually catch up, but she was there with boyfriend and other friends.
  • I need to get better at getting/keeping people in my life. It was pretty lonely at times
  • Packing granola bars for snacks would've been smart. I should also try to keep a stock of these in my apartment in general
  • It was a little weird to hear about the tragedy in the Bahamas while all this was going on.
  • Also was weird that so many more people are terribly fat there. I think this is a leaving NYC thing
Anyhow, good to be back. I have a few action items for the near future. Also, I realise that the "Expand post" text I implemented in my blog software probably should be clicky, because right now it's not super intuitive that the LINK text in the lower left is how people expand text. It's been awhile since I've changed that code. Probably time I refamiliarise myself with it (and maybe flesh out the review part of the code that I never really made into something I'd actually like to use). So many projects, so little attention to spend on individual ones.

Integrated Handcuffs
Date: 2019-Sep-08 02:50:52 EST

Thought of a better way to explain the issues I see with when people design software for only the most common use-cases, leaving out APIs, preferences, and all the rest - I dislike such things because they put people in the habit of reduced intent. When I use software I want the ability to write policy for whatever the software does - to write rules that are automatically applied. The one-size-fits-all software gets me out of that mode of thinking and pushes me to only have the simplest kinds of intent towards my data. In doing so it simplifies me, reducing me as a thinkier. Consider a music app that lets me rate my music. I should be able to tell it when I'm in the mood to just enjoy music I already like, and when instead I'm in the mood to listen to new stuff that's not classified yet so I can decide what to keep and what to discard. I can easily do this if I write my own software (and in fact did, with my pre-Google-Play music setup. Unfortunately, Google Play Music is awful at managing music it doesn't provide, periodically deciding something you gave it is corrupt and refusing to ever play it again. So I stopped using it, but the app is designed for that kind of "only want simple things" person. We should want more from our software.

Been thinking about how music in films can act as a substitite narrator comment that you might see in a book that's been adapted to film - for some reason we've become disused to narrators, and we can at least get a bit of what they did back. Although perhaps we should get used to them again, and films should see their return.

Been wondering, for long term life partners, whether it makes sense to commit to sharing the same world-of-terms as well as judgements on matters where only one person sees the relevant info. I've been thinking about fairness that transcends family again, namely the idea that our commitment to be fair and our commitment to justice should take precedence over relationships in our life. And I still believe it should - if I knew that someone close to me had committed a serious crime, I would not pretend it had not happened, and I likely would turn them in. But what if I did not know that and they claimed it did not happen. Would I remain neutral? Previously I think I would need to. Now I'm realising that where there is uncertainty, it may be acceptable to commit to, when lacking information, always accepting the claims of a life partner. I would want it clear to the world beforehand that I have made this commitment (as a matter of integrity), and be sure that it's limited to when I lack information and when the claims are at least plausible. And that it really should just be limited to a life partner (readers will remember that I assume monogamy and don't think we should treat polygamous relationships as life partnerships or marriage for any of the people involved in them), because if we extend this to family, solidarity turns us into some Confucian monstrosity rather than a potentially just society.

Issues in Giving
Date: 2019-Sep-27 04:48:53 EST

This Thursday was an interesting day.

  • I woke up oddly early, and decided to go into work much earlier than I normally do. Worked out well, because I left work early too
  • I joined the NIH AllOfUs programme sometime back, and had an appointment at 16:00 to have some measurements taken. This was mostly fine, but they had trouble getting blood from me, and after a first attempt failed, my tendency to faint with needles was starting to activate so they didn't try again. I'm disappointed in myself for not having managed. But they still got some good measurements out of me, including a urine and spit/DNA sample. So that's good. And now that those measurements are on the site for me to see, I'm reminded that I really need to work on my health. Fortunately, I am. This week I've started running in the evenings. Still figuring out pacing (in terms of how many times a week), but it's going okay.
  • My boots came back after warranty service yesterday, and I immediately took them to a cobbler to have sole savers put on (at the advice of Allens Boots, who managed the warranty service). After all that I picked them up. I might wear them to work tomorrow; they've been gone awhile so it'll be good to wear them out again
It's delightful that by taking more care of my neck, I've dramatically reduced my migraine frequency. Hoping I can keep that up; I've suffered so much from those headaches for the last two decades. I don't expect the issues to entirely go away - neck strain is a posture issue and something that happens to everyone, and I may be more sensitive to it because of the osteocytes, but it'll trouble me far less. I hope.

Looking forward to the upcoming trip to Janelia.

There are some big ideas I've been playing with, including things I'd love to someday take some time off and write a book about. One thing is to talk about living philosophy and the practice of diluting pure ideas, as well as what it means to accept a philosophical idea.

Response to malfeasance
Date: 2019-Oct-05 22:46:41 EST

Sitting in a coffeeshop near Union Square, and was thinking about having just kept an eye on my laptop while in line to get the drink. Was realising that I would, with no hesitation, go after anyone trying to take it even if there were a good risk of damaging the laptop, but also was thinking about some people I once knew who, things having been stolen from them, they were angry at the event but hoped the resources would see a new good use. By contrast, I would rather property be destroyed than taken, and would prefer to do significant damange to the person as well. The underlying metric for proportion being that the value of the item and the likelihood of getting away from it should be balanced by a proportionally stronger response to the threat if I manage to get them, in order to make it not just not worth it, but *really* not worth it to try to take things that way. An eye for an eye is not quite good enough if a person has a good chance to get away, having taken the eye and suffered no loss of their own. This would not justify unlimited retribution though. Just exaggerated.

The endless summer suddenly ended last week; thoughts still consumed with thoughts of octobers past.

A few thoughts on things:

  • Recently there was a news story where a passanger threw a fit on an airline because there was a long line to use the restrooms and the first-class restrooms were empty. Thinking through it, while my initial inclination is that people should never make a fuss in an airport or on an airline, when people need to use the restroom there's a biological need that I don't expect them to squelch. And the airlines should bend in that case. THat said, he apparently went way overboard once he started to raise a fuss, threatening violence against people. Still, airlines should fix this with a policy change.
  • Here's an interesting article on how secularism started to make major inroads in American society.
  • There is enormous incentive for active funds to find ways to push people away from index funds. This is another such argument. Although if they think existing indices are immoral, it would not be hard to make an index fund that simply filters out the companies that they deem immoral. There are a few things they'd miss out in doing that - shareholder activism (which takes a lot more effort and hence salaries than an index fund), but it'd accomplish most of the desired effect and still offer the appealingly low expense ratio.
  • This is a fairly comprehensive article on how California made homelessness so bad through activism.