Blog: The Unending Beat

The Unending Beat
The Unending Beat
Date: 2018-Jun-24 18:57:21 EST

There's a pride parade today in NYC. I find it mostly irritating. Largely because my current apartment is close to the festivities and there is no room in my apartment where the tacky music is below conversational level (not that I have conversations here apart from with my cats, it's just never quiet). I'd be fine with it if I didn't have to hear it and if it didn't disrupt my travel; most things I can ignore I'm fine with. A long time ago I decided I was done with non-straight communities ; too much ideology, too much fighting, and an increasing tendency to push for acceptance or approval rather than toleration. In general, if it's not violent or discriminatory in ways that matter (job, access to finance, legal status, ability to buy goods), I am unlikely to care. And there are some grey areas too. Too many activists, I think, insist that everyone fully accept every bit of human variance, and I think that's an unacceptable demand.

I still have a mild migraine from yesterday, and this music is not helping. But it's at least still mild. I briefly went to work yesterday to test a neural net I've been training. The results were garbage and suggested I wasn't using it right (or some bug). I might pop back in today to see if I can figure out what went wrong.

At an event at work recently, there was a presentation on a very broad genomic effort for all eukaryotic life. They mentioned on the side that Illumina's HiSeqTen systems were one potential took, and as I occasionally do (being sometimes a hardware/pricing geek), I looked up the company, brought up a spec sheet and common cost estimates on the internet, and tried to figure out the markup. I used to rage at companies that use this captive market to make proprietary (and usually bad) hardware/software systems at high price, at least partially because when I was doing human subject experiments at CMU I had to use a system called ePrime (which was legitimately awful), proprietary with frustrating limits. In the years since, having seen a lot more of this, I'm nore understanding of the mark-up, primarily because there are development/testing costs that need to somehow be paid. I still prefer the academic model, where there are grants to develop things and they're free in the end, but that has its own problems (the "should we even do this given the risk" is very heavily tilted towards "yes" assuming one can get funding). So that side part of "how many developers and scientists-locked-into-product-mode does this take" can be pretty difficult to match and can bump up the per-unit cost pretty high, particularly if the market is relatively small. It's unfortunate, but nowadays I just hope some open-source or academic-model product replaces those old creaky systems.

I had a discussion recently (on Twitter) about AirBnB that remained pretty friendly (other person was generally pro-AirBnB; I'm generally against). In my writing, I recognised I may be seen as a Useful idiot by the hotel-industry-sponsored group that did the sponsored post that started the debate. But I think people should not be afraid to be so; it'd actually be muddy thinking to actively try to avoid that, because it would amount to bending one's perspectives (or being picky on where to advocate them) based on the interests of others. Better, I think, to know what one stands for and press it regardless of who's on the same side, for narrow or broad points. If I find myself with company from groups/perspectives I dislike on some issue, it should not bother me.

Some news:

  • Canada legalises recreational cannabis. Seems like a good thing; it will create some awkwardness on the border, and a lot has been written about that (the US often refuses people entry if they admit drug use even where it was legal). There's a feeling of inevitability to this and so a number of more cautious political types are warning about how much stronger cannabis is than it was when it was first illegalised. That may be true, but we can manage that with alcohol; everclear is only legal in some states, and everybody knows it's dangerous and nasty. Perhaps Cannabis will get a similar rating to our proof system
  • I like this write-up on philosophical points in the second Incredibles movie. Sounds like there's some worthwhile complexity in there, welcome for American audiences.
  • Steve King doesn't want Muslims preparing pork; I don't think this view is compatible with our societal traditions. In general we should not allow a workplace to investigate people's (quite diverse) creeds for purposes of employment, and his preference to have his food prepared by people with a certain mindset? That's deeply intrusive (presumably it'd also rule out vegetarians). Near the end of the story there is a perhaps-legitimate complaint - that inappropriate accommodation was made in a soccer tournament that would have many Muslim players in that pork was not to be served. That does not excuse his attempt to push his views on this matter.
  • Like a number of other people with a lot of views, I'm deeply bothered by the ACLU having internal policy leanings to stop pushing for free speech when that free speech might not aid other social-justice type values. I prefer the old, purist ACLU that would press for free speech even by highly nasty actors. I had a rather long argument on this with someone who turned out to be fringe-left. Was kinda interesting, although he seemed not to care about truth and seemed unable to get out of "always insult your opponent and make wild accusations" mode. Not uncommon, sadly.