3 weeks ago

May 29, 2018

"Did you eat a tire, that's on fire? Because that's what your breath smells like."
--Melissa. To me. Just now. (The answer was no I guess that's just what string cheese and cherry coke zero must smell like. I regret nothing.)

May 28, 2018

Played with the Natick Legion Band in the Natick Memorial Day Ceremony - 150th anniversary of the first official Memorial Day. A centrist expression of appreciation for the folks of our armed services, and a left leaning wish we were keeping our volunteer force out of harms way more of the time.

made way for ducklings!

May 27, 2018
My cousin David writes: We found a mother duck and her ducklings hovering around a storm drain. So I took a tire iron and pried off the cover and Mary climbed down to save the duckling as a group of onlookers cheered! Mother and ducklings are reunited.

Such mixed feelings watching Cavs/Celtics - Cleveland my old hometown, Boston my new one, enjoying the concept of Lebron (not a popular view in Boston :-D ), liking the young team of the Celtics, thinking that either team is at risk for getting mauled by whoever wins the Western Conference...

i am bad at eating pickles photo

May 26, 2018

May 25, 2018

AIWeirdness continues the machine learning oddness, now it's My Little Pony vs Metalband names.

descriptivist morality ramble

May 24, 2018
Harper’s Magazine’s end page is “Findings”, 3 paragraphs of 1 sentence summaries of research studies. One in December was “People tend to think common behavior is moral behavior”. For some reason that unlocked a view for me of the parallel between my linguistic descriptivism and moral descriptivism, one I shoulda thought of before. Just like language is not invented as a set of rules that then makes it way to the populous, but an attempt to codify language when people believe they are speaking properly, maybe morality could be seen as a large scale description of how people behave when they believe they are behaving morally.

Fleshing it out, it raises the question is this possibly contributing to a single universal morality, or like with languages are we forever trapped in different mutually incomprehensible languages and dialects? If there is a universality, is it like Esperanto? An attempt to take bits and pieces of some of the more dominant language and find consistency? Or maybe a universal morality would have to be like Chomsky’s Universal Grammar - which is not a grammar in the common sense, but the lower level “hardwired” sense of primitives like nouns vs verbs that make learning actual grammar possible. (Given my previous recognition of how I have a strong sense of "should", an anxious compulsion to never be out of alignment with knowable-but-not-fully universal morality, driven by a subconscious fear of eternal punishment if I screw up too badly, it's kind of weird to think through the universal morality / universal language parallels)


from Toby Young’s Memoir:
I've always been rather ambivalent about meritocracy--and not just becaus I'm a beneficiary of England's class system. During my spell in New York I enjoyed shocking people by telling them that the word "meritocracy" had originally been coined for the purposes of damnation rather than praise. They would always dispute this until I played my trump card: my father, Michael Young, invented it.

He coined it to describe a nightmarish society of the future in his 1958 bestseller The Rise of the Meritocracy. In my father's view, equality of opportunity is a snare and a delusion since it makes it less likely that equality of outcome, the "hard" form of equality he believed in, will ever come about. If everyone starts out on a level playing field than the resulting distribution of wealth, however unequal, will be regarded as legitimate. According to him, a meritocratic society is no better than an aristocratic one since it is just as hierarchical. Indeed, it is considerably worse since the richest segment of the population don't suffer feelings of guilt. Unlike those who have inherited their wealth, they think their good fortune is thoroughly deserved. In my father's book, a work of fiction that purports to be a Ph.D. thesis written by a sociology student in 2030, the absence of noblesse oblige in the meritocratic socirty of the future eventually results in a bloody revolution in which the workers overthrow their new masters.
--via Ann Lurie. Interesting take given the whole Atlantic The 9.9% is the new American Aristocracy article making the rounds, and making me rethink some of my assumptions. I guess I'll be back to the correct answer is "it's complicated". You can never fully evaluate merit, you can never remove chance and circumstance on the path from merit to reward, you never want to fully disregard talent in terms of providing opportunity.
This is pretty awesome:

Worth checking out the 20 minute "making of" on the artist's page - I remember making spaceships and what not on graph paper way back when, and his idiosyncratic way of doing the vectors reminds me a lot of some the DIY 3D I used to play with (and aRTSeroids, while 2D, used some of the same "fake looking like a vector screen" effect.)
Was talking about me not understanding the popularity of streaming - having to always pay rent for your songs, and relying on a good constant internet connection - when we live in a wonderland of being able to buy nearly any music as a single w/ EB, who pointed out "Music collections cost thousands and takes time, renting music costs you a pizza, and gives you a larger selection". Which I guess makes sense.

He pointed to the article Subscriptions for the 1%, which is bit more focused on news, and paywalls, and how the law of "you get what you pay for" may create an ugly divide.

I guess there's a parallel with news and music in the 80s: individual articles are like the catching singles on the radio. Paying for a news source is like investing in an LP. Google and Facebook are the record companies playing kingmaker and getting rich themselves.

Honestly I'd love a bundled deal for, like, NY Times, WaPo, WSJ, and Boston Globe...

May 23, 2018

On whether he'd ever considered joining the Communist Party:
"Not at any time. I've never joined any organization--not even the ones I've organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it's Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as "that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right." If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.
--Saul Alinsky, author of "Rules for Radicals" (emphasis mine)