Archives, page 9

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.

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.

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.

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.