Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Possibly Pondered Probes

Last updated on April 7, 2016.


Pondering a probe pertaining to a possible professional portfolio.

Not a probe! In any case, my portfolio is here. (If it's not, that means I'm not looking for employment.) It includes some of my academic work as well.

Please also take a look at my job policy.

What's on this blog?

As it says at the top, this is a blog about the going-ons of my mind, which also includes my life. Be they posts about rationality, ethics, philosophy, math, computers, the weather, fiction, rants, programming, sharing knowledge and helping anyone who asks, pizza, love, or just something silly, I want a place where I can put some sort of thought down in an easily accessible format. I'd like to have a post-a-day streak for a whole year, but that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. I do have a goal of one million words, after which I will "start over" and while the links etc. to existing posts will remain they will be considered obsolete. I'm a long ways away still, only about 30% of the way there as of September 2014. If you include my Hacker News comments up to October 2014, then I'm about 50% of the way there.

Why are you doing this?

Besides for posting down and archiving my thoughts and for fun? Those are my primary motivations. Additionally I'd like to strengthen my writing skills by standards of elegance, persuasiveness, clarity, and decent content. (And some other things too, surely.) With enough practice I might become as great as Paul Graham, the awesome Eliezer Yudkowsky, Richard Stallman, Mencius Moldbug, the XKCD guy whose name escapes me, or the many others whom I look up to and haven't linked to here out of laziness. I probably won't ever get as good as them, if only because on my blog I'm not writing as carefully as I'm capable of, and I don't follow all the rules of writing (yes I have read and do own S&W) and I don't make use of all the techniques for persuasive writing that I can do under conscious effort (like short sentences and eliminating the passive voice) and I have a very parenthetical style resulting from programming and from myself being the audience of my writings, but I can hold my writing-idols up as a standard and as a self-conscious reminder whenever someone tells me that I write well (I don't). I won't let the likely impossibility of perfection (or even becoming as good as any of those I think of as excellent writers) bring me down, though! Writing more does help me get faster at it, plus it's fun, plus it keeps me honest. All my school papers from 2010 were much easier to get done thanks to the previous half-year of writing a bunch of ~1000 word posts.

In short, I write for myself. Therefore it's your fault if you misinterpret me. I'm willing to rewrite with you as the audience though to try and clarify.

Why this site design?

Do your eyes bleed? Too bad!

I'm kind of sick of reading those middle-column blogs with light backgrounds and rounded corners everywhere, so I figured I'd make a nice dark theme that is easy on the eyes and puts the content on the left side, instead of the middle or right. It will likely change several times in the future, but right now, I like it enough, so it stays. (In 2016, I grew tired of color.) I like being a back-end designer more than a front-end one anyway. I like it so much in fact that I decided to program this blog software from scratch instead of using something like wordpress. Plus it stands out, it's not just another "blogspot" layout.

It occurred to me that one might not want me anywhere near a CSS file if this is what I'll do to a site... So make sure you check out my portfolio. Or at least this screenshot of an app I made. If you've made it this far and are curious, anyway... A nice feature of this questionable design is that it keeps away people who aren't interested in the content, because someone who thinks this design is bad won't sit through a blog post unless they find it interesting.

Can I post something on your blog?

Things via comments, sure, if it's relevant. I don't care. Or if you mean a big blog post, you'll have to contact me personally and I can upgrade your account to writer status so that you can post. (I may have to also whip up a "rich editor" into the new post template. I made this site from scratch so a lot of administrative features found in standard blog software don't exist in mine, due to me not needing or preferring them. Of course, my blog has some features a lot of blog software doesn't, like a Naive Bayes classifier for my posts.)

How can I contact you?

Send email for any purpose to jach shift2 thejach d0t com. (Technically I'll get any email sent to this domain...) When I'm at home I'm usually signed in to Skype as kevinboo_mccloud. Please mention my blog if you add me otherwise I might assume you're a bot.

How can I contact you securely with PGP?

Here is my public (2048 bit) key:

Version: GnuPG v2.0.17 (GNU/Linux)


Can I cite your posts or copy them on my site?

Yes, so long as you provide a link back to my page and do not modify it or create derivative works. Also, I'd like to know personally without looking at site logs for linkbacks, so if you want to leave a post in the comments saying what you're doing that would be nice (though not required). Basically all works are published under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License unless otherwise noted. (Also, I really don't care, so if you mess up I'm probably not going to sue or anything weird like that. If you really want permission to use my writing for something, even if it's publishing uncredited in a magazine with profit solely to you and not me, I'll probably okay it.)

Why "Jach"?

Long story. Think of it as a nickname.

Here's some revisionist history: I'm a "Jach" of all trades! Har har. (Should I be surprised that it took about 10 years for someone to make this pun?)

Okay, so "Jach" is derived from being a short form of "Jachyra". In all likelihood that won't make it any less mysterious though. :(

Why The Jach?

To distinguish myself from all the other fraudulent, squatting Jachs, of course!

Do you have a Quotes File?

Yes! It's here. It's not automatically synced with my local copy, but I do sync every now and again. That file may actually be a better glimpse into me than the long answer to the next probe... While the order of the quotes may not have been the order I encountered them, I only add new quotes at the end, so they are in the order I decided to add them, and it does sort of serve as a very rough chronological guide to what I think is important or interesting.

Can you sum up your core philosophical views in a short package so I don't completely misrepresent you when reporting second-hand?

This section requires a preface, but if you're in a hurry just read the next paragraph. I believe in keeping my identity small, thus I try to keep any labels I apply to myself as being descriptive rather than embodied. It's similar to what one means when one declares one's hobby that is also done professionally: "I do welding for fun" should not imply any deep identity-sharing with the craft of welding, or comradery with professional welders, at least to such a degree that an attack on welders is not taken as a personal attack. (Unless they're unionized...) Another way to think about my stance here is that I share no deep sense of comradery with those who might also apply the same labels to themselves as I do to myself. Just because I'm a programmer and you're a programmer too doesn't mean anything more to me. I realize a lot of people don't think this way, especially religious types but most non-religious types as well, but despite these dangers of identity inflation, labels are great shorthand to give a fairly accurate first-approximation description. So I use them on myself and others. (More on this perspective of anti-group-signaling.)

My real view is pretty simple, it only has a few parts and sub-views. I'm a Bayesian transhumanist Singularitarian. Anything that gets in the way of a positive-outcome Singularity (Singularity in the I.J. Good sense, or Yudkowsky sense for a fuller treatment, not a Kurzweil or Vinge sense) is bad. (Different values of positive are in competition.)

By Bayesian I mean I believe rational belief and behavior is governed by Bayes' Theorem. (More specifically, probability theory, information theory, and decision theory. (Which decision theory? The best one. Yudkowsky has a quote for two-boxers: "Be careful of this sort of argument, any time you find yourself defining the 'winner' as someone other than the agent who is currently smiling from on top of a giant heap of utility." Basically other rational decision theories will make a losing move, indicating they're not really rational.) You can learn a lot more about this view and my other core views from the Less Wrong Sequences which I think contains the most self-consistent expression of the individual views. The easiest way to poke holes in other views I think is to imagine how they could work with an artificial general intelligence, running on a PC, and capable of besting any human in any intellectual endeavor.

Transhumanism is this: death is never a good thing. (It may be better than the only possible/realistic alternatives, but it can never be good.) There's some futurism and human-augmentation packed in there too, but I think the core is simply anti-death; the non-core derives from what makes life worth living and how to make it even more worth living. I donate to SENS and wish for immortality for humanity (and our pets).

I.J. Good said:

"Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an "intelligence explosion," and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control."

As a Singularitarian, my desire is to aid however I can in the creation of this ultra (or super) intelligent AI with the additional property that it is Friendly to humans and humane values. As a fallible human and imperfect Bayesian, as well as as a mockable youngin' without much in savings or deeds of renown, my efforts toward this goal have not been highly efficient or optimal or noteworthy or praiseworthy, but it's at least a stable goal that I'm never consciously working against, and compared to any other selfish or selfless goals I could pursue they all seem inferior. I follow the maxim "Pay yourself first", which I absorbed from my favorite high school teacher, and I think it's my best strategy to both help in my goal and stay alive and sane. I care about my self-perceived sanity and mental well-being. I recognize the danger of this becoming an excuse for all inefficient behavior. But I donate to MIRI still, and that's probably the best way I can help out. (I should note that SENS also receives my money -- AI could take a long time and I'm worried about the end result of what appears to be at a first-approximation a destructive sex-cult among so-called San Fran rationalists...)

I'm willing to be challenged on this core view but I do not expect to be convinced it's wildly incorrect or that a Singularity is inevitably bad (I wholeheartedly agree in the potential for very bad outcomes, and that the "default outcome" is likely to be bad!). I do not believe I have a "faith" in these core real views, just high confidence. If you think I'm immune to good arguments attacking a high-confidence belief of mine, I have counter-examples for you where I became convinced I was totally wrong about a position I previously had high-confidence in. (I don't have tons of counter-examples, though, which you should expect if you're a careful reader trying to evaluate whether I'm just overly confident in everything.) If you find others who share my view that are clearly motivated by religious thinking, feel free to mock them. I might join you. I'm willing to discuss the finer points of these views where there is still room for disagreement (e.g. hard/soft takeoff, the need for mathematically certain Friendliness, and other more esoteric topics) but only with people who are familiar with the background -- let's just say they need to know what SL4 was. I mostly stay out of AI conversations because most people have no background and so their comments are worthless in reading or responding to.

While my core is simple, I do not ignore deduction and its use in exposing implied and entailed views not mentioned here and also in finding contradictions with existing views. For instance, the abortion issue. Am I pro-life or pro-choice? I used to be pro-choice. Now, I'm both! If a woman wants to have an abortion, the fetus ought to be cryogenically suspended until such a time as someone wants to finish its development. That's the moral decision. Who's going to pay for it? Well, that's a question about how society works and ought to work, and such questions (in fact most questions of my opinion) fall under my academic view. Before I go full into that though, I should mention because of my use of the word "moral" that my ethics system is consequentialism, but I generally try to pre-compute (with occasional cache-invalidations) probable consequences for plausible situations in advance and treat the output of those computations deontologically in my behavior.

My academic view is more complicated because it's not currently stable (it may at present be different than what is here and I just haven't updated this page yet!), I occasionally make efforts to learn more, I don't take things too seriously in general (but I'm willing to take ideas seriously and act on them), and I joke a lot. This other view is probably most simply stated as "that which does not logically follow from my real view", but that's unhelpful. Another way to look at it: what beliefs give rise to my perspective when I argue or talk about subjects not directly related to the above real view, or what beliefs or perspectives led me to have my real view in the first place which is mostly presented axiomatically? At present I think a lot of my opinions can be considered to come from a sort of academic core, the things I'm most serious about but not sold on to the degree of my real view. This core, as it relates to my "identiy", is being a peace-loving royalist Linux geek and general nerd.

Politically, I used to apply the label "Anarchist" to myself. My version of Anarchy has some differences from a common-usage sense, but it is pretty close to Rothbardian (coincidentally I initially developed the base of it without actually having studied Rothbard, though in hindsight I was probably influenced by Taoism); you can read more on this blog from obsolete posts. The extent of anarchy left in me is in my personality: I don't want to rule a country, and I don't really want to be ruled. ("A man chooses, a slave obeys.") I want no part in a sovereign entity and I'd prefer if they leave me alone. I do like the concept of corporate structure and especially hierarchy, though, and recognize people-in-general need a ruler (and I do appreciate having a ruler that can at least help protect me from other people for a small tribute), and also in the past kings mostly left their subjects alone. If I were born in a different age, I might have been a "wild west" sort of guy or even a mountain man. If I live to see humanity and its descendants explore the galaxy, at least one version of me is likely to get as far away from everyone else as possible in order to live and to explore in isolation. That version of me may or may not return for merging.

By peace-loving, I mean that I think collective and individual non-violence is a good idea and can resolve a lot of issues where violence would normally be used, with very specific exceptional cases. (You can find out more in posts, or just go read Gandhi about non-violence at the personal level that comes before the social level of non-cooperation.) I took the ideals of pacifism seriously at one point. While war has its upsides, I generally think we don't need it to get the eventual benefits. In collective violence, I prefer solutions that are collectively peace-conserving. So if a terrorist group kills a few thousand of my countrymen, by all means my country's military should seek and destroy the terrorists and their sponsors, but they should just do it, without my input or consent or even care. Just get the job done. I personally don't want to hurt anyone, accidentally or intentionally, and I fear that if I'm assaulted in any serious way I'll respond over-aggressively and kill the assaulter. (Fortunately tuffles as a kid and young teen make that fear not too worrying -- I'm big but not trained and I have a pretty high level of self-control. So I'm likely to get my ass kicked by an opponent that knows what they're doing, and unlikely to go too far in other situations despite my fears.) At some point I'll get around to buying and wearing full body armor. If I ever move to an area with relatively high crime (such as San Fransisco), at this point in my life I think I'd be comfortable with a concealed carry Smith and Wesson 638 Airweight Revolver where the first round is a blank and the next are live. I really don't want to end anyone's life, personally, though I do find emotional (if not necessarily logical) appeal in the idea of a swift death penalty for certain criminals -- it'd be better to cryopreserve them like in Demolition Man, but do it right. Muggers are scum and when so many people who are missed by me and would be missed in general much more dearly aren't making it to the Singularity (some due to such muggers and other criminals!), I can't make myself feel too bad that a criminal wouldn't make it either. And active murderers, let's just say I agree with the thought that while their continued (if constrained or cognitively altered) existence is preferrable to their death, as far as the world as it currently is is concerned, their death is preferrable to the death(s) of another(s). It is the best way to peace, even if it's ugly. A lot of the world's problems stem from the masters of civilization losing their taste for necessarily brutal subjugation that is necessary for overall peace.

Politically again, right now and for the past few years I fall into the Royalism camp, a complete 180° turn from my youthful anarchist views which had an interesting 3D encounter with the Objectivism mind-virus for a year or so. I got into the theory through Moldbug, who is linked at the top, and from whom I got the term "royalist", but in thought-space general my political beliefs about what "should be" mostly align with the "reactionary" or "neoreactionary" or "dark enlightenment" crowd (there are subtle differences amongst those terms but they're not important here) which is full of great writers I recommend reading along with their older-than-the-20th-century inspirations. Moldbug uses "royalism" as a fun "ism" that isn't seen very often and that might make the reader pause in confusion then actually learn instead of instantly dismissing the idea (which they might if, for instance, I said I was right-wing, and then while they were already bucketing me into the "dumb evil conservative watches Fox News for News" bucket they would miss that I think the American right-wing is actually really far left).

In short, a main theme of royalism is that non-constitutional monarchy, in reality and as an ideal, is better than democracy and our current system (oft described as "constitutional democratic republic"), both in ideal and in reality. Better how? On the metrics a good government strives for (such as eliminating organized crime and encouraging a good economy and happy populace). The main problem (and it's really not a big problem if you study history) of monarchy is that monarchs cannot easily be fired if they're doing a bad job, or if they die the typical means of succession can be suboptimal. (Specifically, blood-heirs. There is some merit to it if one can assume kings raise their children for ruling as good kings in the future. But this does not appear sustainable to me. The tradition of bad genes and/or royal family inbreeding, and of putting all eggs into the one heir basket into whom wisdom is poured while "backup heirs" are neglected, is dangerous. If the single-egg fails for whatever reason (sickness, killed, feels like doing science instead, cannot receive wisdom for lack of intelligence from too much inbreeding, or never existing due to infertility) the neglected replacements prove incompetent at the job, etc. Or worse, the People decide their ruler.) Ultimately however it doesn't matter so much who the King is, as much as that there is a King whose word is respected as absolute. Even the bad Kings of history can't compare to 20th century excesses from dictators propped up with the claimed will of the People.

Nero, Heliogabalus, Otho, Vitellius, and such other monsters of nature, were the minions of the multitude and set up by them. Pertinax, Alexander, Severus, Gordianus, Gallus, Emilianus, Quintilius, Aurelianus, Tacitus, Probus, and Numerianus, all of them good emperors in the judgment of all historians, yet murdered by the multitude.
--Robert Filmer

Let me be clear that I support a restoration of absolute monarchy in the style of Frederick the Great. I think that's feasible for many existing governments (or sections of land current governments could give up) over the next couple decades, and while it may not be the best form of government, it's certainly better than what we have now. Second to monarchy I think further minimizing of democratic power and carefully selecting leaders in the style of Singapore would be better too. The type of government I'm most interested to see tested, though, was presented by Moldbug as neocameralism, in which (to vastly summarize) the government is run as a joint-stock corporation where stock-holders' votes (weighted by shares) determine a board of directors which votes to pick a CEO-king to run the country and make running such a country profitable to the share holders. I think a monarchy could transition to something like this as a way of formalizing power transfer, because that's basically what a monarchy is (with aristocrats holding a significant share in the State and having some influence with the King), but it shares a problem that anarchy has: it requires a society that can accept and function with such an abstract thing (or 'nothing' at all) as a ruling entity, and powerful men who respect such a system enough not to overthrow it for personal gain. I think humans need a face to their ruler, and even if a government is a complex semi-abstract mess like the USG, the People will make a king-like figure in the office of for example the President, and blame him for all the country's problems. This leads to my next point.

Paramount to any of these forms of government is the quality of the governor. Frederick the Great was great. Caesar Augustus, great. In modern times, Lee Kuan Yew is the greatest I know of. Putin has his highlights too, I really respect him and what he has done for his country. Without great men, no system of government will manage the country well. Even in sub-optimal systems like the present one, with great men it can be manageable...

Let me try to give a brief taste of other views that are even less core to me, without trying to justify them too much: I like technology, I like programming, I prefer non-fiction over fiction, I like unregulated capitalism (in other words market dynamics without global interference) but recognize the higher authority of the State and the occasional conflict between an efficient market and the good of the State and its population, I think there are more important things than the economy like social solidarity, relationships, and culture (this is something I believe but due to my personality I'm still struggling to alieve it), I like sharing and caring, I think the Many Worlds "interpretation" is the correct one because that's what the equations say by default and assuming otherwise violates Occam's Razor, and I like a lot of childish things including cartoons and video games. I wish some country in the world had a Lunar Base where civilians lived, or at least industrialized the moon -- there are so many benefits and it's so "easy" once you look at it hard enough. I like frankness and honesty and if you have a scathing personal attack on me, please, I want to read it. It is entirely possible that I am wrong about almost everything with no hope of correction and also am a horrible human being who would best serve himself and the rest of humanity by ceasing to exist. I'm willing to consider it. Who says I don't already consider it all the time without outside people suggesting it? I think certain cultures are better than others ("cultureist?"), I'm definitely an "ableist" (if you don't know what that means you probably are too), and my opinion of others in general is almost entirely based on their intelligence (not that higher-IQ always implies a better person, there are plenty of intelligent people who a just King might put to the sword...), but like most humans how friendly I'm likely to be depends on our shared interests. (Thus I actually enjoy the company of certain "dull" people who never finished or did poorly in school...) Other factors like attractiveness, social adaptivity, whether you agree with me or not, gender, disfigurements, age, race, accent, typing ability, etc. are only first-impression prior-adjusting indicators that can either be confirmed or corrected (by Bayes' Theorem) with further interaction if I find such a risky forward move worthwhile. (e.g. I don't associate with potheads and while I might like someone only to later be disappointed they're a pothead, if I know they're a pothead upfront I'm unlikely to pursue the relationship enough to find out I kind of like them.)

Basically ~99% (I haven't really measured) of the topics on my blog are "academic" topics--things I blog about because I liked to write about them and I believe in having opinions about things even if some of my opinions deserve no weight. (I do believe elite experts know better, but I also know they are quite fallible too and often wrong and I wish prediction markets were more common to help counterbalance this.) So my academic views aren't just fabrications I throw up just for mine or others' consideration or amusement--they're a bit more important to me than that. (Usually--sometimes I play Devil's Advocate, or will use the DA excuse to avoid purging by progressives! :D) I believe these views and opinions are probably correct, sometimes with qualification, such as "if I lived in the early 1900s", in which case my academic views would be what I spent most of my time promoting and challenging, so long as my personality didn't drive me to become a mountain man or something.

But it's hard to call them my "real beliefs", let alone my "real desires". I would have more stake in them and push for them harder if they were my real beliefs, i.e. intertwined with my Final Destination Goals, and if I could predict myself having an influence on them being accomplished over the next century. (I love Gentoo Linux and wished it was more widespread, but come on... What OS will I be using in 40 years? Will OSes even be a thing? Sure I see nothing replacing it for me over the next 10 years... But I'm a little bit of a tech optimist.) I do think the clearly exponential nature of a lot of technological progress (which you can find evidence of from Kurzweil et al. despite the mounds of other evidence from Thiel et al. of technological stagnation since the moon landing) creates a predictive Singularity in the Vinge sense within this century, so I can't predict much of anything with any confidence happening after 2100. The one thing I do predict: if we don't have an extinction-event of humans, we'll have smarter-than-human intelligences, and I cannot predict the actions of something of such orders of magnitude more intelligent than me. It's like an ant trying to predict human behavior. How can a homo sapien accurately predict a super homo saiyanpien? One can't. At best, one can hope to design the smarter-than-human intelligence to share humane values and goals, which make it predictable in the sense that it will probably try to help us simpler humans rather than harm us. (And maybe monarchy is becoming closer to being part of my 'real views', because such a Friendly AI may be like a god-king in certain respects.) I can see the value of trying to prove such friendliness mathematically, though on the other hand I'm not totally convinced a mathematical proof is required.

Additionally, I think very few Final Destination Goals of others are worthwhile or attainable, let alone worth fighting fiercely for. Especially when they're dull beliefs that have been rehashed by countless people across decades or centuries. You won't get me to march for things people have marched for across such time. But also I want to avoid issues if they are made from a stance that oozes ignorance: if a self-proclaimed Futurist speculates without having ever taken into account at least one of Friendly AI (please don't conflate all possible AIs with Hollywood AIs, that's the usual mistake) or molecular nanotechnology capable of Grey Gooing us (and worse/better), I don't want to talk to them about future possibilities in fear of their ignorance spreading to me! It's okay if we differ on our beliefs about AI (Friendly or not) and the feasibility of Grey Goo or building nice habitats in seconds, please just be aware of them if you're going to talk about what the Future might be like. If a self-proclaimed government activist is arguing or protesting forcefully about how governments should be run, but has read little on government, power, and economics, then again, I don't really want to talk to them about it unless it's to educate them. It is frustrating when people get worked up over opinions they should know they have no justification for holding them so strongly. I'm hesitant to talk too strongly about monarchy because while I've read a lot more than the average person, I've still read so little. This doesn't mean I'll easily be convinced against it (largely because counter-arguments are just rehashing propaganda I already listened to in my schooling, and I must not count evidence (or arguments) twice), just that I'm not likely to convince others.

What about sci-fi? I enjoy Star Trek (TNG is the best!) and more recently adore Babylon 5 (I didn't have cable in the 90s) as entertainment but their examples and metaphors (along with other sci-fi like my favorite anime series Ghost in the Shell) are useful mainly to explore the present, not the future, and can be useful as rhetorical ammunition (I like rhetoric only when the speaker isn't hiding behind it, so that eliminates politicians). Star Trek and other sci-fi works may provide ideas for future technologies, but I wouldn't rely on them as accurate predictors (or even as desirable features) of future behavior or environments. I don't want the Future to much resemble Star Trek in many respects. Come on, they still die! How sucky is that? And they don't use their tech to the fullest potential. (What would you do if you had mastery over space-time and matter and a sentient AI to bootstrap a super-intelligence?)

Again, sci-fi works are more interesting for how they explain or display present behavior, and so they can be used rhetorically in that context. I thought of another use, but it's shared by pretty much all works performed by humans: our creative output may highlight kernels of humanity and humane values that we want to be preserved in a positive Singularity. Creative output helps us understand what's good about us and what's bad, it helps us know ourselves. This has personal value to me, and I'm sure others. I think reading fiction from multiple eras of humanity and from a variety of authors can help one improve one's theory of mind. I bet a lot of people on the internet read too many fan-fics that are just terrible representations of how people typically think...

One of my favorite sci-fi books is Permutation City; one of my newer favorites (actually a trilogy) is The Golden Age, which offers a fascinating fictional story of what a not-optimally-positive-but-not-negative Singularity might look like for humanity.

In summary, another way of parsing my academic views is this: my academic views are merely "What I like about this world and what I wish the world was more like right now", possibly sometimes "What I think the world could do right now to make a positive Singularity more likely." Other times it's just a desire for philosophical satisfaction. Other times my views drive emotions and, being human, it may indeed look like I care a great deal about a particular issue such as the evils of enlisting in the US military. (Also being human my emotions will sometimes drive my views but I try to keep those instances in check.) I'll still call certain military officers evil crack-slinging sellouts if I think their cause is unjust, but if that's you please don't take it personally. (I'm an evil fat-ass glutton degenerate myself!) I still want such people in the Future, I'm friends with some former-soldiers, and they're relatively harmless as far as the current problems facing a positive Singularity are concerned. Even though I dislike government due to not wanting to be ruled, and I really dislike modern governments because they're so poorly managed, you'll see my real transhuman views leak through with me supporting national health care (not "Obama-care", that's crap; they should just nationalize the whole system then allow private competition on top) because there's a decent chance we'll at least if nothing else get really long life this century and the less people who die and make it to the invention of de facto immortality, the better.

Who are you?

Are you crazy?

How about some non-philosophical views?

You must mean tech-related views! :P Even if pretty much all opinions can be termed "philosophical"... I try not to be extremely opinionated (as in I'll hate you or cut off contact with you if you disagree, or as in I'll never change my mind) since I have less than 20 years of real experience, but I read a lot from others who do have that and more, and I draw from them. So I'll get my most opinionated view out of the way and say I hate C++ (see the first Fun Link below), it's one of the few things I'll summon my small passions (I'm not a very passionate person, often seeming cold and distant) over to bother with hating, and while I'm competent (I don't have "C/C++" on my resume, I have "C" and "C++" as separate things because they are very separate) I don't use it unless I'm forced to. I haven't been forced to in years and I'd like to keep it that way. C++xx adds some nice features but takes away none of the crap.

My favorite programming language is either Python or Clojure. I'm not sure which one I truly like more; most of my personal code is small and I reach for Python by default, but philosophically I think Clojure is way superior and I'd prefer using it for everything... I like (but they're not my favorites) C, PHP, Scheme, Common Lisp, Flex (aka ActionScript plus MXML), JavaScript, Java (sometimes -- I can see myself developing the hate of a thousand Suns for it like C++ some day), Bash (sometimes) -- for databases, I like Postgres without even using it hardly at all, and MySQL (sometimes) mostly because it's what I know the best and it's "competent", but I'm also biased into liking LucidDB for what it's good at (mainly because I worked on its fairly nice code base), and I like Sqlite3. HBase and tools on top of or around it are pretty nifty. I can do basic Perl 5 with a reference and don't mind it, I'd like to learn Perl 6 for fun someday. On that note I'd also like to learn Rust, but Nim is actually more interesting and approachable to me and from my little toys written with it something I can see myself using frequently as opposed to only when I would otherwise use C. Standard ML is a neat language though I have only read it, same with Forth. OCaml is more interesting as a language-to-learn than Standard ML, Erlang would also be interesting. I don't mind ARM assembly though I dislike x86 assembly. I thought Verilog was a'ight until I learned about MyHDL. I don't like any form of BASIC but it wasn't so bad to write calculator programs in (I never made games). I mostly like Matlab and its toolboxes after getting used to it (albeit mostly through Octave), R is neat and I wish I knew it better but I don't like or dislike it. I want to learn J someday for giggles even if I predict I'll hate it. I don't understand why people like Go at all -- it's a terrible language, people. I'm too stupid to properly make use of Haskell, but I can appreciate it from afar. I'm definitely in the dynamic typing camp despite knowing some things about type theory, in fact I'm so far in the dynamic typing camp that I think the only legitimate purpose for types is to help the compiler produce efficient code. I don't find them to help me in the act of programming and debugging (especially when I have a REPL), but hey, other people do and that's great for them... For me, I find the guarantees and proofs of type theory to not matter that much and to not by themselves be worth the tradeoffs involved to get them, I'm much more interested in guarantees of things systems like Coq or TLA+ can prove.

I prefer JSON over XML, S-expressions (specifically extensible data notation) over JSON, GNU/Linux over BSD and Mac and Windows, Gentoo Linux over Arch, Gnome2.x (now MATE) over anything else, mplayer over vlc, vim over emacs, git over svn or perforce, LaTeX over Word, functional programming over others, deductive logic and sanity checks over unit/behavior/etc. tests, language features over design patterns, garbage collection over manual memory management, and progmofo over methodologies. I like the GPLv2 over MIT license, and I really like both the concept of free software and open source, but I'm closer to Linus' Torvalds' viewpoint than Richard Stallman's and most of my own projects use the MIT license or something even less restrictive.

Can I be your friend?

Sure! I mean, not a "true friend" (the distinction obvious to an introvert), that takes time and work, but I'm generally fine with meeting and talking with new people that have something interesting to talk about with me. At least in theory -- you might be able to squeeze a psychologist to diagnose me with some sort of social anxiety, but it's not that I find all or even many social interactions stressful, it's just that I'm really lazy, I'd rather be by myself and not have to leave my house (or clean up for company), and I don't care much about other people I'm not already friends with. Setting is important here. If you're a stranger and want to grab coffee and chat, I'm likely to say yes if my personal effort to get to the coffee shop is very small -- e.g. walkable in a few minutes. If I have to drive to you, that's way too much effort, even if it's only a 10 minute drive. If you are the one driving though, since my personal effort will be very small, I won't mind tagging along.

What is your IQ?

Behold! (And be careful.) And I feel on a raw level dumber than I used to feel in my teens, which may be true or false.

Can I insult you? Do I have to worry I might be insulting you?

I operate by Crocker's Rules. In case that link is down, this means that you may optimize your message for information, not for being nice to me.

That said, if you bite in a particularly annoying way, I'll bite back in a particular style typically interpretted as smug intellectual superiority. If you want to know whether I actually have that view of you as an inferior, ask, unless you never read non-fiction books, in which case the answer is yes.

What's your privacy policy?

Not to share. Well, if the FBI comes a-knockin', then I'll sell you out so fast... But otherwise, no sharing of any data, unless it's with friends for a laugh. (Really, what data do I have to share?)

If you want to know my views about privacy... They're complicated and depend on what kind of privacy we're talking about, but I think they can more or less be summarized by my mindset of "It's none of your business... But if I neglect to make sure my doings are kept private it's my fault if they're used against me, but I also might like or dislike any particular use." I wrote a bit on the topic here.


No, maybe, at least 24 inches.

Other various information: my birthday is October the 2nd, 1990, making me a mockable youngin'. I'm a 90s kid no matter what you say people born in 85 who remember the whole 90s. My high school diploma says "Kevin Jach Secretan", though that might not be what my legal documents say... I am located in Bellevue, WA. I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond. If you want to get together, send me an email or something. I like food, simple hikes, and playing games. A picture may eventually end up here. (You can see one on my github profile and elsewhere.)

Who are your favorite rappers?

In no particular order, I really like Immortal Technique, Eminem, Eyedea, Tech N9ne, Brother Ali, Invincible, Tupac, Nas, Denace, Biggie, Xzibit, Yelling At Cats, Hopsin, MC Solaar, Myka 9, Bino White, Weird Al, and Duane & Brando. If I had to pick a favorite... Definitely Eyedea.

Some of those I haven't listened closely or extensively enough to in order to rationally pick out a set of songs to compare and elevate to my favorites, but I do have at least one favorite song for each.

In a moment of madness in April 2015 I made a profile. Unsurprisingly my taste in music (which isn't exclusively rap mind you) is rare enough that I can't find many people who share it (unless I include more popular artists I enjoy but are not my favorites), let alone people within 50 miles of me.

Online Presence

I'm slowly building my online presence with a not-too-serious goal of being the #1 Google hit for "Secretan". It probably doesn't help that I use Jach or related for almost everything. You can find me on Twitter, GitHub, LinkedIn, and Hacker News.

Github badge:

Job Inquiries

My prior job experience is on LinkedIn, as are my technical courses I've completed. I'm currently working at as a Senior Software Engineer. Obviously it should be stated that the views, events, and suggestions expressed here on this blog are or were mine own, at some point in time, maybe (I may be devil's advocating), and in any case are not necessarily those of my employer. And if you don't like it...

I don't usually respond to recruiters. I'm even less likely to respond if you don't even tell me the name of the company you're recruiting for. I'm not really looking for a new job, but I'm not opposed to moving on in principle. The thing that would tempt me most right now is similar pay with neater technology doing anything but ads. So if you've got a Clojure gig and don't mind someone who's not a newb to the language and philosophy but will definitely need some ramping up... Feel free to ping me even harder. (In an effort to encourage better email practices, GPG messages will always receive a reply!)

Fun Links

Below (and in a sense throughout this page in visible or hidden HTML) are some random links I've felt like posting, this list will be sporadically updated and has no consistency to what I put on it other than I thought it was a good idea at the time and haven't bothered to remove it yet.

[Cat++, a superset of cat]

This site somewhat powered by...
It is nice. If you see any bugs (and not "validation errors", I know I have tons of those) let me know. It used to be xhtml transitional.

How Duck Hunt worked.

Cooking For Engineers

Simple Made Easy

Feynman Videos

An excellent article on dealing with sprites in PyGame

'tsall good

Rich Hickey's Greatest Hits