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

Irrationality is not necessarily bad

I'm slowly working through finishing The Waking Dream, which was assigned in a college class and I read maybe 70% of back then. The thing about it all that sticks with me is the idea of how differently our ancestors used to think about the world, and how remnants of that mode of thought in fact still are common today.

Rationality in the epistemic sense is about seeing the world as clear as you can, mathematically, given what you've seen of the world. This doesn't mean perfection. Rationality is about observing one white swan, then two white swans, then three, and therefore surmising that there could be more swans. And if there are more swans, you should expect the next one's color to be white, with odds of 80% (under Laplace's Rule, $$\frac{s+1}{n+2}$$) against not-white. A hundred white swans seen, you can expect the next to be white at 99%. This doesn't mean the next one won't be black!

Suppose you did make this into a bet, with two people and yourself as the intermediary. One of them only reasons rationally, the other one reasons in their own irrational way. Both have only seen 100 swans. The rationalist bets $99 that the next swan you bring out is white, the irrationalist bets $1 that it is black, not merely non-white. The rationalist should be pretty happy -- there's a 1% chance the next could be any other color besides white, thus there's even less than 1% chance that it's any specific color! Why is the irrationalist taking this poor bet? They claim because they saw a frog devour 10 flies that morning and that is a symbol that black is coming.

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Finally got off my butt and used Let's Encrypt to add an HTTPS cert to this domain. Woot!

Non-HTTPS links should redirect to HTTPS ones, but this may change in the future if for some odd reason I think it should.

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No longer bored of color

With thanks to Vox Day's theme that I shamelessly cribbed colors from.

The diff wasn't very much, the power of CSS. Only had to add a bit of new markup.

Still a bug with the first comment and last comment on a page with comments. They should have rounded borders. I thought first-child and last-child would work but it wasn't working, so maybe some other time I'll figure it out. Dumb with first-child/first-of-type. Anyway, PHP hack to the rescue.

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Syria doesn't matter, but chemical warfare does

Suppose this whole drama in the news is a fabrication. Or at least that the use of chemical weapons is a fabrication. If so, then none of it really matters, Syria will still be in more or less the same state as it was a month ago. Even if Trump doesn't uncover the fabrication, it seems unlikely he would authorize a troops-on-ground war with the Syrian government. Tensions with Russia would increase, probably, but I also think war with Russia is unlikely at the moment. (If I'm wrong, I'll likely be dead, so nyah.)

Suppose the chemical attacks were ordered by Assad. This doesn't mean Assad must go, but the rest of the world (not just the US) must respond. Chemical warfare cannot be allowed to escalate.

Suppose the attacks were ordered by US state department employees, or Turkey, or some other government. This doesn't mean those employees or countries must go, but the rest of the world (not just the US) must, again, respond. Why not in the same manner?

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Ghost in the Shell 2017 meets expectations

But I like to think my expectations were well-calibrated. So while I neither liked nor disliked the movie, it satisfied me.

I overheard someone leaving the theater they didn't like it. Too much focus on personal relations and nothing on philosophy. True, but why was anyone expecting a Hollywood flick to go full-GitS philosophy on its audience? Similarly I know some people were expecting Tachikomas, but did they ever see the first movie? Tachikoma-free. As was this one, so they'll be disappointed, due to their expectations.

Scarlett Johansson was a ridiculous casting for the Major. It's most prominent when she's paired up with Motoko's mother, an actual Japanese woman. But I'm also just kind of sick of her in things which is my main complaint about her. Still the actress not being Japanese is a valid criticism. While one might say the Major is a cyborg and it doesn't matter what she looks like on the outside (indeed she's had multiple designs in the animes), you're ignoring the anti-Western themes of the original material. Anyway my dislike of the lead is something I accounted for going in.

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The Witness: a short review, admission of failure

Spoilers of course.

I wrapped up The Witness tonight -- just the main ending, didn't 100% / see the other ending. Overall I had a fun time. It either took me 15 hours or 20 hours (my connection went out during one session so may have killed ~5 hours of time being logged). But by the end I was pretty done with the game. Last weekend I got to the endgame area in the Mountain (minimum lasers), and almost gave up during the area before the two-light-path-puzzle floor because the puzzles there are bullshit. I continued until I completed that, and stopped. I could have played again several times since last weekend but didn't, I knew more bullshit would await me to wrap up the endgame. Sure enough there was more, but I wrapped it up tonight, and now I'm done.

The only puzzle I remember successfully bruteforcing was the final tree area one. All the previous puzzles were pretty straightforward since you just look for the apple / broken branches or whatever. The last one I couldn't make sense of even after I found the solution by brute force. Whatever.

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Mindlessness Meditation

My company has been pushing the 'mindfulness meditation' stuff on its employees for a while now. Long story short, I don't really like it, nor its goals, but that's probably because I have a more effective technique (for me) for my own goals. Maybe more effective for introverted nerds too. In particular, during one of the guided meditations I tried several months ago (since I figured I'd give it a shot for comparison) one of the comments was something like (taken from the mindfulness website): "Think of a time you were talking with a friend, spouse, or therapist about an important situation in your life, and when the conversation was over you felt lighter, loved, and cared for." My issue there is: I can't think of such a time! And this was the case for most of the "think of a time..." guide phrases. I'm just too weird I guess. Or I'm a man, mindfulness seems to attract more women than men, it may be because its methods resonate with women more easily.

I call my method 'mindlessness' now to contrast it with 'mindfulness'. But it's really just intentional zoning out, stopping your conscious thinking. It came about during my early teenage years while I learned about Taoism. I certainly have mistaken views about that and I don't claim my form of meditation is necessarily more 'Taoist' than not, though I do like to think of it like that sometimes. In any case, don't a lot of (at least western) meditation advocates like to say meditation is a personal thing you do for yourself and that there's no truly wrong way to do it?

My way is pretty simple, though not always easy. The goal is to empty your mind. Cease your thinking. That's it. A little more elaboration? If you are aware of anything, let it be that you are aware that you're aware there is no other thought besides that awareness and that is OK. Surrender to the Void (or perhaps the Tao) and relinquish your emotions, your body sensations, your very thoughts, to the flow of just Being in a state very close to Non-Being. Achieve nothingness.

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