Blog: The Mood to Act

The Mood to Act
The Mood to Act
Date: 2019-Feb-17 02:12:49 EST

I've been learning to deal with what seems to be a pinched nerve in my neck. It's been less than good - near constant pain, but I've learned how to modulate it and how to adjust my pain coping techniques (a mental imaging exercise I've done since I was young to deal with regular migraines) to help cover most of it. There's a good chance I'll need some kind of surgery (or PT) to actually fix it though - still trying to make the needed arrangements. It's strange how dealing with it has made a number of minor pains that I normally would barely feel (or not notice at all, probably due to a mix of migraines and that technique leaving little attention for minor pains) quite noticable. An example being the area of my mouth where I had a root canal last year actually hurting, which I never noticed before. Last week I had a prescription for sleeping pills which helped a bit. I'm also trying to learn some self massages to get knots in my neck and back out. Not entirely successful. It's wearing me out.

On Tuesday I went to an event on gender differences with Debra Soh and Christina Sommers. Wasn't sure what to expect or how much I'd agree with them, but exposing myself to ideas I might not agree with is part of my life. When I got there I was a little surprised to recognise it was in a building I've passed and noticed on the street a few times - the Women's National Republican Club. I'm more used to the idea than a lot of people I know (women in my family tend to run more conservative than men, to the point where I find self-congratulatory stuff from my side of the political spectrum that Women are naturally oppressed by conservatives - to be ridiculous), but I still usually find it a bit strange to go into a space devoted to a worldview fairly different than mine - like entering a church or mosque or scientology centre. I think overall the event ranked as okay. It was at times a little like a rally in that some people cheered when ideas they liked were said by one of the speakers, and I could've done without that. And there wasn't a lot said that I hadn't already heard. The takeaway I got was that Soh and Sommers represent different wings of American politics, both enthusiastic about free speech and science, and both concerned about progressive activism controlling discourse. And I can get on board with that, locating myself closer to Soh (being the free-speech liberals). Something more substantial might've been nice, but there's a good chance anything more substantial by my book would've also been niche. There was a question I was thinking about asking in Q-and-A at the end, but I decided not to because I wasn't sure I could convey it concisely on-the-spot - Soh and Sommers argued that there are biological differences shifting the population-mean of interests from women and men apart, and that these lead to different career preferences. If I were to grant that to be true (I never studied human gender topics in neuroscience), I still wonder about representativeness as something that shapes what initially-equally-interested-and-skilled individuals of either gender are likely/able to achieve, and whether anything can or should be done about that (knowing that it might impact the meritocracy and individual-determination-focused setup that Soh and Summers push). I recongise that not all harms are addressible in principle, but wonder if this one might.

Was also intrigued by the assertion that Soh made (which she is most suited to do, as she studies sex and relationships) that most women prefer more masculine, non-feminist men, and vice-versa. Not that it's a new idea, but I know that I've generally been more attracted to aggressive women whom others described as masculine. Maybe this is normal for bisexual males, or maybe we have a higher variance to the level where there are no strong patterns (in the same way that left-handers don't lateralise function the opposite of right-handers, but rather have far higher variance even to the per-feature level).

A new song stuck in my head - "Rave in the Grave". Also has a great music video with some rather good dancing that seems to tie in accidentally to those thoughts on more masculine women.

Scattered thoughts

  • Read an exceptionally stupid essay on someone trying to find a way for all religions to be true. It tries to squirm out of the central issue with the idea and doesn't manage it - at the core of most of these religions are fundamental ideas about reality and faith that cannot be uprooted and made compatible without adjustment to their axioms, and they naturally notice and reject those axioms. Peter Simon's "Instructor" idea may provide a way of manifesting mundane claims, but it can't get at ideas of fundamental truth - a simple unvirtualisable belief being "there is no instructor, there are just the cosmic entities we believe in". And most perspectives if you take them seriously are just as deeply rooted - the closest you could get in Simon's garden is a tofu version of those perspectives.
  • Interested to see what people use for chat - the criticisms in that article seem reasonable (albeit hard to fix without messing up Slack's funding model). Naturally I'd love IRC to win but it also has faults (if a company really wanted to fix it with bots and custom web/mobile clients, it could). I've used Slack for the last few jobs (also a bit of gitter). Wondering what'll be popular in a few years