Archives, page 6

Transition of Home-feeling
Date: 2018-Mar-18 19:34:07 EST

In theory I should be able to introspect and observe whether my feeling that a place "is home" transitions smoothly when things move over, or that certain things impact that feeling a lot more. In practice, I'm observing myself as I do this move. I've been interested in this before - for the last several times I've moved. I've joked that "home is where the tea is" or "home is where the high-speed internet is", but those are just quips.

My gut feel is that certain things are almost inconsequential - low emotionally-impactful things not highly visible that I don't interact with much don't matter as much. A bed counts for a lot, as do things needed to make a place minimally comfortable were I to stay over. Computers and internet and recently google assistant devices count for a lot too. And art. This is the theory, anyhow. Trying to feel out how true it is as I carry loads over when convenient.

I could be going at this much more vigourously, but there's no rush; I have a very long overlap. I wish that were not such an expensive preference.

Some subtle points of grammar
Date: 2018-Mar-21 22:19:10 EST

Due to weird weather, the office is closed today; the weather is pretty wild but I get stir-crazy if I don't go out at least a bit most days. I lugged (this was tiring) my microwave as well as some more kitchen supplies over to the new apartment, which is starting to feel a little bit like it has some of my personality now. Doesn't feel like home yet, and definitely not livable yet, but it keeps inching forward and the more stuff I move the more this move feels like a real thing.

Wandered through the snow to ThinkCoffee - a locally acceptable coffeeshop chain. On the way I spotted many businesses closed today, and two variants on some very specific phrasing - "due to inclement weather we are ..." and "due to THE inclement weather ...". The word "inclement" seems to have caught on, but I find that "the" to be interesting. The subtle meaning difference I get between the two phrasings is that the first is phrased as if the listener is not aware there is inclement weather (the way I'd write to somebody not local, or someone meant to read it some time in the future), while the second is phrased as if the particular inclement weather is already known to the reader. The difference being that the first has an implied "some", the first refers to something somebody already has on their mind. I don't know how many other people would read this the same way, and it is nice that both are gramattically correct and the meanings are close enough that variances in reading/writing won't lead to any serious differences in understanding.

Still preoccupied with thinking about the years going by, and the families my sisters have founded and my failure to do so. As well as that interplay between the two female geeks and the pickup artist series here (I briefly wrote about this on G+). I don't think I could imagine adopting the mindset the guy does, but it's interesting to note that of all the advice he gives (Which as the two reviewers note, is often accidentally good) I've generally done almost exactly the opposite of what I'd need to do to build good romantic ties with people. But it has fit very much with how I see the world - few frills, strong intellectual independence and respect for it in others, mistrust of self and others, strong beliefs and perspectives curated over the long term. These are not attractive traits.

Weird to have what's essentially a weekend day in the middle of the week.

Last night I had one of those perfect hugs with Tortfeasor - we took a nap. Weird how emotional these things can be. Maybe part of it is that I don't get a lot of human contact these days. And that I really care about my cats.

Worries on rule of judges
Date: 2018-Mar-22 00:10:33 EST

For a long time I've read the occasional complaint, from all over the political spectrum, about rule of judges - to be something ridiculous. Usually because it was used to analyse a particular situation where there was a very simple explanation for why the law works the way it does.

I think I've come to see a sense where this complaint makes sense; there is a lot of effective regulation that comes out of broad interpretation of various legal ideas, and a bad working definition easily leads to legal or civil risk without there being any explicit law to point to. It's also worrisome that often these interpretations probably have little public support and would disqualify a lot of the mainstream from various kinds of work (I use the word "disqualify" here a bit loosely, meaning that were they to act by their conscience in various jobs, they would face legal or civil risk). One case in point is harassment, where a traditional understanding would be that it's unwanted contact, but in many large tech companies HR will tell you that it's expression of certain opinions on social or political issues that might offend somebody. Could we point at laws that define it that way? Usually not. It's just interpretations.

I'm not arguing for originalism or legalism on these topics, but when interpretations impose effective requirements outside what the mainstream might accept, that's a problem.

The Infirm Ages
Date: 2018-Mar-24 17:13:18 EST

Sad about the state of my cats; they're okay most of the time, but just off enough that they need help with daily things. And Tortfeasor seems to have un-litterbox-trained himself; a hard-to-remove rug is ruined, and hopefully not the apartment floor beneath it. Watching them occasionally stumble as they just walk around is hard. They'll see the new apartment, I'm pretty sure. But probably not beyond.

This has me thinking alongside a theme I've chewed on before; the notion of trying to build a better world that we wouldn't fit into. In the early days of my trying to understand society and how to change it, I just accepted it, noting that each generation's people are a bit disjoint from the values of successors, and feeling this is a good thing overall. Now I'm skeptic, because I worry about society moving in ugly directions; were we to see an emphasis on race or faith return, would we so readily just tell older generations to step aside? Dylan's song aside, some changing times are worth fighting. And that means thinking of each generation's aquiescence or degree of fight as a useful check against new values. I hope that slow, guarded change is actually a right way to get the right change. That's not certain. There are some ideas that are trendy among younger generations now that I'd like to push back pretty hard against - the "I get to define new pronouns and new genders and you'd better agree" from trans activists, the "There are many routes to truth and empiricism should coexist with traditional ways of knowing" from various people in love with their people's myths, those keen to have censorship so long as it is private, and endless other things. Doesn't mean I need to hate any of these groups, just that I deny some claims that are pretty important to (some of) them and that creates grounds for conflict. Maybe future generations of them won't try to make such claims, in which case I might just think they're weird.

Recently I've been on another kick to record landscapes of my dreams, particularly dream locations that I know I've visited several times before. I could paint them, if I had more art skill. Which I probably should work on developing.

I have a bunch of chores to do this weekend; I tried really, really sleeping in to try to get past this "always feeling tired" feeling, but it didn't work. It never works.

I like how this article illustrates the tendency to fling blame around in situations of conflict that don't admit an easy solution; there's a simple relationship involved in setting how easy it is to publish games, and how much competition there is for a game playing audience's attention and money. People really want somebody to blame though. I suppose they can blame whomever wants to make that decision, but it really should be about the decision more than the people. Yesterday I had an argument with someone pushing an unusual tax scheme to solve society's funding problems, and it was unproven and unclear whether they were aiming to make the poor or the rich may more, but in the end any tax setup, novel or not, has a few functional attributes we care about that should be the centre of the discussion:

  • On whom does the tax burden primarily fall? (I argue that it's better to tax luxury levels of wealth far more than discretionary, and that far more than survival)
  • How expensive and difficult is it to enforce the tax regime?
  • Do we want or have the knobs to use taxation as a softer-than-illegality means to shape behaviour?
  • How predictable is the tax burden for those that bear it?
If you pair answers to those questions with a spending plan, you have a general tax and finance policy. To avoid rhetorical tricks I want to hear any advocate of a novel tax plan, whether they be libertarians, cranks, or just people who know of and prefer a different system (maybe somebody actually likes VAT? Although I kinda doubt it) talk about it in these terms. This guy was pushing Edgar Feige's Transaction Tax stuff (which I had heard of before but never paid much attention towards).

On Exes
Date: 2018-Mar-24 18:18:59 EST

Been thinking a bit about former ties; what bits of my past would I revisit (from a perspective where I'm not working where I am, and also single - the latter is easy since I *am* single and have been for a long time).

Could I imagine working again at MacLeod? No. I liked the variety in what I did, but the work environment was not for me. That company is totally different now though, and I think it's much larger. It's still in Columbus though.

Could I imagine working again at GoAntiques? Probably not as I remember it; I've grown too much to be satisfied with what I did there. I think the company is probably pretty different by now, maybe acquired a few times over.

Could I imagine working again at Carnegie Mellon University? Absolutely. It was a great place to work. I love universities, and I loved Pittsburgh. But I wouldn't move back there unless I were settling down long-term.

Could I imagine working again at Spotflux? Probably not. I messed things up there and burned bridges, and have some regrets. The work was nice, but it was also too small and there wasn't room for me to have as much influence as I wanted. I think the company is no longer around.

Could I imagine working again at MongoDB? Unlikely unless both the CTO left and a certain prominent toxic employee were to leave (or learn to stop being a dick). I don't really believe in the product, but that's not actually a blocker. They have neat technical challenges in infra, and actually working on their storage layer would be nice.

Could I imagine working again at Dropbox? Sure, if I got to work on things that interested me and were I not to need to work with my former manager. It was a solidly good place to work and I met a lot of great people. I really didn't like how politically progressive the company environment was, but I could deal with it and push against it. I probably wouldn't've left had it not been for that manager and for ending up owning some important-and-neglected-things that I didn't want to own but wanted to see done right.

I think I'll spare the internet individual evaluation of my past romances; that's not really a cool thing to do in public. There's one I'd definitely be happy to date again, and another that'd be a maybe. Would be happy to have any of them as friends even when things didn't end well.

As for cities...

  • Could I ever return to Dallas? Doubtful, and I was very young when I was there. It's just not my kind of town
  • Or Darien? I don't know, I've never been back, but it's probably too quiet for me
  • Or Brecksville? No. Far too slow-moving. Also no interesting jobs and I wouldn't want to need to drive to Cleveland or Akron to work every day.
  • Or Columbus? No. There's at least some appeal here, but it's still too slow-moving.
  • Or Pittsburgh? I might retire there or do a late-life move there for a final job. I love the city. It's pretty, has good food, has a lot of nature, and has enough of an academic feel.
  • Philadelphia? Maybe, if there were a good job drawing me there. I didn't give it a fair shake last time.
  • Otherwise I could see myself living in Cambridge (USA) or possibly Austin. I've always enjoyed my visits there.
  • And definitely not California (although Santa Barbara was kinda tempting and I almost moved there once)
Kinda fun to do mindless Question-Answer posts. Probably less interesting to read.

N Rights
Date: 2018-Mar-31 22:22:55 EST

On the topic of Women's Rights and Men's Rights and other examples of that general phrasing, I see two ways to parse that phrasing:

  • What are the rights that people in that category-or-identity have?
  • What are the rights that generally people have that are often most relevant to that category-or-identity?
In the first parsing, with rare exception, I think we should essentially redirect to general rights of people, or "what do we owe each other in society?". General notions of justice are what we should concern ourselves with, not the interests of particular groups (or people within the group who claim to speak for the group - the two are not quite the same). There are a few exceptions - statuses that we might reasonably decide change the social contract around some categories. I believe in the following exceptions:
  • Children - They have very broad and deep differences in rights from adults, most but not all relating to custody (exceptions being possibly degree of culpability and recognition that they are very easily coerced into labour or sex or similar by adults and we should stop that)
  • People who have chosen fame - They give up considerable expectations and protections, partly scalar by degree of fame and degree of choice
  • People with hereditary power - In societies that have this, we should consider them similarly to those who have chosen fame, but much moreso. It may be acceptable to violently remove them from power if they do not give up voluntarily, and that can extend to killing an entire royal family including those we would otherwise consider innocent.
  • News organisations - We may choose to protect their ability to conduct news in ways we would not protect private citizens, including not compelling them to testify about conversations. We do this because they are supposed to act as a check on government
  • Legal representation - Similar to news, because they have a structural role to play in our adversarial legal system that they could not play were they similarly vulnerable
  • Confessors - We may choose to protect the privacy of some other relations (spouses, doctors, philosophical guides) depending on specifics
On the second, one reason we insist on pulling the context of "welfare of a group" outside of the sphere of "group's rights" and into "general rights" is to ensure we don't confuse persecution of a group with deciding not to give it everything it may ask for. A group may earnestly believe they are due something particular, and we may recognise that the group has often been injured by violence or being locked out of jobs or similar. Yet we should remain comfortable telling that group "no" at any demand that we don't think is part of "what we owe each other", and comfortable not considering it part of whatever word for "bigotry against this particular group" exists.

The ends of appearance
Date: 2018-Apr-01 00:46:15 EST

The sharpest argument I can make against Trump, for people who are steadfastly pro-America (I am not), and outside concerns about basic competence, the people he surrounds himself with, and his pettiness and ego, is the following:

It is nearly impossible to have both extreme power and showings of extreme power at the same time. The latter wounds the dignity of the less powerful and leans them against cooperation. America, for most of its existence, has consistently leaned towards the former. It has not usually demanded other nations acknowledge its greatness, and instead has been content to get them to buy into a political-social order that it originated and has some steering over. They get a better outcome between its carrot and its stick, and even often a better status quo because these economic and political rules often (but not always) created better prosperity than alternate systems, even though their alignment is squarely with American particulars.

What I see in Trump, with a desire to smash the dignity of other nations and force them to kneel, is a pissing away of a lot of actual power for the sake of its trappings. A public greatness almost necessarily looks like this; it's showy and self-destructive, and weakens us. Those that believe in American greatness should reject populism and the short-term, in favour of expertise and the long, quiet path that has led America to power.

A limit on justice
Date: 2018-Apr-04 03:00:16 EST

As a correlary to the idea that intersectionality reduces the number of people that can/should be comfortable with a bundle of perspectives (because the more specific views that are glommed together into a perspective, the more likely it is that someone will disagree with one of them and not accept being pushed out on that view), the more comprehensive a vision of justice (assuming it is fully believed in and pushed and perhaps enforced through soft-or-hard-means, e.g. community rules), the more it damages society.

I believe the effect of this is limited if it does not push hard against neighbouring worldviews and is comfortable living in a cluster with them, spending its efforts primarily against distant views. But this is sadly rare for the same reason that sacrelige is often considered more serious a harm than apostasy (these terms and this observation is in fact general enough to apply to religious and non-religious worldviews).

Restraining Air
Date: 2018-Apr-06 23:24:56 EST

I'm reasonably moved to my next apartment; not done yet (very little furniture is moved; this weekend will see it through) , but much of everything else is moved. Slept there last night for the first time. I'm glad I don't need much in the way of creature comforts. I meant to spend most of today doing more moving, but I woke up with a migraine that's not quite done even now. I'm used to it, but it still is the most dissatisfactory bit of my life, spending 8-14 hours a week on average in varying levels of agony. Right now it's at least a high-functioning pain, but I cancenlled my attendance at a bad movie night event tonight because I can't commit to feeling well and don't want it to be awkward if I need to go lie down somewhere.

I'm intrigued by this ; a plan by DHS to monitor media on topics relevant to them. We could easily decide this is innocuous; many big companies do the same thing, guarding their brand zealously. We could easily imagine this misused; if you don't give us good coverage you won't get interviews. Or worse. As is often the case, it depends on how it's used. I can't say I'm in a trusting mood given our current leadership and how we seem to be backsliding so far.

I've been disappointed but not surprised to see people reviewing the Roseanne reboot and finding it awful or incomprehensible that she'd support Trump. I wish my side were better at looking at the other side of the aisle. It's not that I think Trump is even remotely a good president, but rather that people use such disparate means to evaluate him (or anybody else) that we should not be surprised that in some perspectives anybody shines. Given how many Italians voted for Berlusconi, and how throughout history so many terrible leaders have arguments that grab people, I'd hope we'd be better at understanding. I guess not.

I'm bothered by this - Jerry Brown using pardons as a way to protect illegal immigrants. I suppose, despite it now being marked by Trump's side, I still have very dim views of illegal immigration, and efforts to ease their stay, except as part of very deliberate amnesty - an exemption against rules that still generally hold, don't sit well with me.

This is inspiring. Good data visualisation is part of outreach, and while outreach can't be the primary point of science, it makes everything else possible in the long run, from funding to the next generation of scientists to instilling the (educated parts of the) general public with wonder far from our easy perspectives.

I haven't taken Uber very often, and as I've written before, I'm only really comfortable doing so either in dire need or if Uber represents a better or at least roughly-even status quo for workers than the taxicab system. In NYC, I loathe our medallion system even though it's well-intentioned. I would be comfortable taking it here, but I rarely do in practice because the subway system, despite its strain, is good enough. Still, I am well-aware of its rating system and think that aspect of Uber sucks. In largely the same way that I think Gamestop's pressures on its stores and employees are awful. I wish we could get them to do better on this front.

Date: 2018-Apr-09 05:48:03 EST

Finally got the moving pretty much done. Had a really long migraine of varying length during it, from Friday (which I took off to pack, but was unable to do so because of the pain) to Saturday (where movers came by and packed everything) to Sunday (when they moved stuff). I was really worried that not everything would fit. Fortunately, things did fit in the physical sense, it's now up to me to make them work spacewise when unpacked. And in the process I'm reminded that I have way, way too much stuff. A lot of it is kitchen stuff; over the years somehow I've ended up with far more plates and cups than I need, and all sorts of other things I never use. In reality, I could probably make do with 5 plates, 5 cups, and maybe 3 each of standard cutlery. I should get rid of a lot of this. It makes no sense to keep carrying it around. There's just the question of how - throwing it away would feel wrong.

I wasn't able to finish setting up my desktops. The VESA mount screws are either packed away somewhere or got lost in the shuffle. I ordered more. I'm also not sure where my Cintiq got to. Hopefully that will turn up; I'm hoping to start using it again. I've done some more sketches for Oyschlisn (my super depressing webcomic) and am thinking of bringing that back. Maybe the other things too.

I'm enjoying how much more "NYC" the new apartment feels. No longer a sleepy place on the edge of Manhattan. Just a few blocks makes a big difference.

I still need to swing by the old place to sweep, maybe mop, and otherwise get it ready for handover. And to throw out the old, super disgusting rugs.

I've been rereading Neil Gaiman's "Lucifer" series. It's really good.