Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The most boring conversation topic... what dreams you had last night.

In that vein, I'm going to tell you about mine.

First, I dreamed I was, for some reason, watching creepy/horror YouTube videos.  I found a particularly creepy one in which one smiling once-human thing was about to do something horrible to another once-human thing, and was going to send it to somebody, and then woke up.

I then told my brother about this creepy YouTube video in my dream.  And woke up again.

I told my brother, laughing, about this weird recursion.  He got irritated with me for telling him about my dreams. I woke up once more.

(For real that time, if you're reading this.)  I told him once more, and he just raised his eyebrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I do believe I have set a new world record for boring.  My boring has gone recursive, possibly supercritical as I tell you about this now.

So if ever you think you're boring, take comfort in that there is a blogger out there who wrote about telling his brother about a dream in which he told his brother about a dream in which he told his brother about a dream in which he watched a creepy YouTube video.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Profit Motive... not what capitalism is all about.

I'm not a hardcore capitalist because I think I will be a billionaire, or even because I want to be a billionaire.  If either of those things were true I'd want a system other than capitalism, which makes it very difficult for me to accrue massive wealth, and would require decades of my life dedicated to the purpose.

Capitalism is about freedom of choice.  Full stop.

It has very nice side effects; y'know, massive wealth for everybody involved, to the point where somebody with air conditioning and color televisions and smartphones can be considered as living in poverty.

But that's not what it's -about-.  If you start thinking it's -about- the massive wealth, you'll start focusing on other ways of achieving the wealth, and generally fuck shit up trying to optimize a chaotic evolutionary system that I, with my genius-level IQ and no shortage of ego, know better than to think I could improve upon.  It's not about wealth.  It's not about food, or entertainment, or healthcare.  Capitalism is about freedom of choice.

Studies suggesting the profit motive isn't useful in generating innovation aren't demonstrating a flaw in capitalism.  They're demonstrating a flaw in socialism.  Projects like Linux can only succeed in a capitalist society - even ignoring the massive corporate funds which have gone towards making Linux (and every successful open source project to date) viable, even ignoring that a lot of that work has originated in clauses in employee contracts which forbid programmers from owning off-work development, even ignoring all the direct contributions which capitalistic enterprises have made which have permitted these community projects to succeed - these community projects are taking place in a capitalist society precisely because a capitalist society permits them to.

Single-payer healthcare, single-payer education, singly sourced projects are the holy grail of socialized systems.  The arguments used for these things - that we should be improving what exists so everybody can enjoy the superior system instead of creating a choice system in which there would be disparity of outcomes - are universally applicable within socialism.  Within a socialized society, Linux wouldn't exist - there would be only Windows, which everybody is required to use.  If you want to improve something, you have to improve Windows, and only if Society agrees to it, because we can't have unapproved people doing things which affect everybody, possibly adversely.

Capitalism has fostered and permitted Linux, and the open source community.

Of course, this entire argument can be rendered irrelevant by pointing out what profit really is.  Nobody would argue that consuming less to produce more is a bad thing, until we start quantifying the difference in terms of money.  Anger about the profit motive has nothing to do with profit, and everything to do with a hatred of money.  And I'll leave that argument to Francisco d'Anconia.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In response...

To this:

(This is another reply which grew too long for a comment.  I tend towards these.)

Hubris always seems to be involved in tragedies, but sometimes I suspect it's because the kind of people who write tragedies have never tried it out.

This post gives me something to talk to my girlfriend about, because a lot of this rings familiar in her own attitudes and questions.  (She's point-blanked asked, on more than one occasion, why I love her.  Which is a very difficult question to answer, even for somebody like me, who believes love should derive from virtue; even believing that, naming virtues seems crude, and slightly dishonest, just because I could never name them all, and I -wouldn't- love somebody who merely had the virtues I could list.)

I can't speak for Laramy, nor what emotionally healthy is, but personally, I don't generally worry about my girlfriend wanting the relationship to end because if she does, the relationship doesn't work.  I am who I am - I want to be who I am.  If she's not happy with that, we won't work together.  I worry that she's happy within the constraints of what and who I am willing and able to be, and I have to be honest with myself about who I am and who I can be.  Beyond that, no.

Will it hurt if she does make that decision?  Like a motherfucker.  It will hurt if -I- make that decision.  But it's a worthwhile pain in pursuit of life, and not wasted - and I won't shy away from life because it might be unpleasant sometimes.  You cannot run from misery, you can only fail to run towards happiness.

Which is to say, I don't want to feel that pain.  But I do want to be in a position where that pain is possible.

On the flip side of that, on insecurity - I think insecurity about yourself to some extent misses the point.  It asks the question "Am I good enough," but omits asking the question "For what?"

People can't be expressed as a series of sliding scales of quality; as a series of dimensioned quantity, I guess you sort of could, but quality, no.  There's the simple concept that different people value different things, but even that misses a lot of conceptual depth.

Expressed in terms of fate, Hitler was perfect; he did exactly what he was fated to do, had exactly the qualities necessary for him to do what he was fated to do.  In terms of fate, we're all perfect; or, expressed another way, in terms of fate, concepts of quality are meaningless.

To a great extent the same is true in relationships.  The only variable with any quality whatsoever is compatibility.  I've known more than one couple who were totally dysfunctional as individuals - drug addicts, for example - who worked very well as a couple.  It's not that as individuals they couldn't get a better mate by societal standards - it's that a more responsible person would not have worked in that relationship, for either party.

There is no "Marrying up" or "Dating up" - it's notable that these concepts tend to be limited to unidimensional considerations like "How attractive does the average person find you" or "How much money do you make/how much money did your parents make."  That's not to say people don't think in those terms - I don't disclose my personal income on dating sites because some people -do- - but rather that they're incorrect to.

It's not that I don't share a formulaic view of love - my view of love is that it derives from one's virtues, after all - but rather that, even as an Objectivist who believes in objective virtue, I recognize that recognition of virtue is inherently -subjective-.  I don't value humility, only honest self-evaluation.  (Some would argue that humility -is- honest evaluation, as some would argue that arrogance and hubris mean a dishonest self evaluation - and while these could be technically correct, the use of these words in that fashion ignores their connotations to society at large.  I describe myself as arrogant because I recognize my own genius, without regard for that that genius is honestly recognized.)  Others value humility of the dishonest sort; meekness as a virtue, particularly in women.  (I value mostly the traditionally masculine virtues, and judge men and women alike by them.)  The value of a relationship is how it adds to -your- life, not how it would add to the life of some fictitious average; you should aim to be the Hitler of snuggling in your relationships, substituting your own values, and accepting that your partner wants you, not because of how you would add to the life of a fictitious average, but because of how you add to their life, the way they want their life to be.  And that "want" there is important, because "need" is irrelevant; you cannot base a relationship on the idea that it is the kind of relationship you need; that is putting off present happiness for some theoretical future happiness that will never be achieved because you never achieved the kind of present happiness necessary to love.  It's a cold and clinical relationship.

There isn't good enough, only compatible enough.

(But I suspect this entire response is irrelevant, and that a reminder that low thyroid hormones tend to result in irrationally self-deprecating thought patterns might be more helpful.  "Fuck you body, cut that shit out, you're mine, do what I say" can sometimes be a helpfully inspirational train of thought.)

Lost Knowledge

I was homeschooled for a significant part of my education.  Not because my parents were religious and wanted to protect me from evolution, but because about two months into a semester, I would go to school, get "sick," and demand to come home.  Going to school, being in school, made me physically ill.

I remember in second grade I burst into tears when the teacher put yet -another- morning correct-the-errors-with-this-sentence on the blackboard.  She allowed me to do something else instead - I think I read the book I brought to school.  (I don't know when I learned to read.  My parents don't either.  At six I was reading Carl Sagan's Cosmos because the children's section bored me, and I can just barely remember him talking about possible lifeforms on Jupiter harvesting helium for lift.)

Because it was boring to the point of torture.  My mind was still raw then; small pains seemed great.  And the boredom and hopelessness of being forced to do mindless task after mindless task was physically painful.

But that's not the point of this post, although I think it would make an excellent post of its own.  The point of this post is what homeschooled entailed for me.

I read the Illiad, which sucked, and that sort of garbage.  I was assigned writing assignments, which I frequently ignored.

Most of my lessons from a young age came from college textbooks.  Chemistry was no exception, but my lessons were also hands-on.

A child was recently taken away from his parents because the father was instructing him in the making of bombs.  I learned to make gunpowder from scratch, smoke bombs, and thermite in my practical chemistry lessons; knowledge which is largely gone from the general population.  I also had rural metallurgy taught to me; I know how to use a river bend and charcoal to melt and form metals.  (In practice, we used a shop vacuum set on reverse combined with a sand and brick furnace, which works slightly better than the river bend and was less likely to get you in trouble during the frequent burn bans in our county.)

There was a lot of knowledge my father couldn't impart, either because its use is now illegal - techniques for river trolling and animal snares and traps for catching small and large game.  Old fishing and hunting tricks illegal now for no more reason than that they are -too- effective - tricks which were sometimes necessary to survival a hundred years ago, which my father's great uncles taught him.  His tracking skills were limited to finding commonly traveled paths of animals, which is substantially easier than what we typically think of as tracking.  (If your survivalist training includes following -particular- animals, leave.  That's not survival training, that's sports hunting and extreme camping training.)

Some of these tricks, he's the last in our region to know; in his youth, game wardens knew who to ask about that snare which was large enough to catch -them-, because he was the only one still making them.  When he dies, some of that specific knowledge may be lost entirely, although there are likely others in other parts of the  country which have recorded similar tricks.  (I say likely.  I'm not entirely certain; I've never been a fan of survivalist training stuff, in large part because everything I've ever seen has been complete and total garbage.  I'm assuming here there is survivalist literature out there written by people who actually know their stuff.)

We've tried convincing him to record this knowledge, but I don't know that that would work anyways; there is no arena in the modern world in which to use it, and there is a substantial difference between theory and practice.

What are the odds that we'll need such knowledge again, in this part of the world?  Remote.  But it still strikes me as sad that when I am an old man, nobody will know how to do it at all - and a generation or two from when I die, people will have forgotten that such things even existed.

I know many of the basics.  I've forgotten a lot, too - I can no longer recognize poison ivy.  (Partially because I've discovered I'm not particularly sensitive to it, and can't be arsed to care.  Fire ant bites itch a hell of a lot worse and a hell of a lot longer.)  And I have hints of a lot of the advanced survival techniques - I theoretically know how to build traps and snares to capture animals as large as wolves alive, provided I have access to prefashioned lumber, screws, and prefashioned ropes.  But I can't practice even that kind of knowledge, and I've forgotten many if not most of the specific details.  I can create a trot line - fishing for people who don't have time to muck about with a pole, illegal in many if not most places now - and I could go buy a seine and do basic trolling.  But these are the beginner's tricks of freshwater fishing, better than sport fishing for actually feeding you, but only the beginning.

A lot of his knowledge was too specific to be passed on.  It's not important anymore to know how to effectively demolish a beaver dam.  (His uncles taught him to use dynamite, incidentally, but it's more complicated than it sounds, because you want to keep the debris from clogging the stream back up a few hundreds yards down.)  A lot doesn't matter in our part of the country any more - fire ants changed a lot of things, such as the viability of sleeping on the ground.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I'm considered something of an asshole in the discussion of rape; I'm inconsiderate, frequently rude, blunt, and I don't follow the rules about how things are "Supposed" to be discussed.

My experiences aren't that of a rape victim - I legally am defined as a rape victim, but only because of silly laws.  That's not where I come from.

I come from the background of somebody who has seen a wide range of the victims in question; a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a father, a victim of rape who said no but didn't fight back, and dozens of perhaps the most common, abused wives/girlfriends (I am largely omitting in this discussion, but it is noteworthy, that almost every one of the wives in question was not merely abused, but abusive, like abuse is a language of its own I just don't speak.)

It's the lattermost which color my opinion most strongly, because invariably they are the victims of serial abuse; they leave one abusive husband/boyfriend for another, who they leave in turn for another - frequently leaving and returning to even the same abusive situation.

At first it's easy to paint them as victims of their own psychology, or victims of manipulation - they feel they have no control and must return, after all.

But children are almost always eventually involved as well, and their skipping from abuser to abuser isn't just affecting them; they're forcing their children into abusive situations as well.

I know somebody who has called CPS on one of their own friends - a woman with several kids including one daughter, who my friend is quite certain is being sexually abused by the mother's boyfriend.  The mother is at minimum complicit - she instructed at least one of the kids to lie to CPS about being hit by the boyfriend, which the kid told my friend.  A follow-up call didn't do much more good.

Is this really any different from a woman lying about her own abuse?  Does a mother have greater responsibility to take care of her kids than any woman does to take care of herself?

Not as I see it.  Not one of these women ever ceased to be victims because a man changed; not a one of them ceased to be a victim because society changed.  The only ones who ever get out of their situations are the ones who themselves change.

I have long since ceased to be able to regard a victim as being blameless solely on the context of victimhood; these women see themselves as victims, powerless to change anything.  Telling them they're victims, not responsible for what happens to them, is -not- empowering.  It is telling them exactly what they already think - because somebody who isn't responsible for what happens to them is somebody who has no power to change what happens to them.  They cry, possibly get one abusive boyfriend put in jail - and go right on to another because they didn't learn anything.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alcohol Abuse...

(This post was written some time ago; clearing out my backlog of posts which I delayed posting for a number of reasons.  For example, the debugging post I delayed writing so even if somebody does figure out who I am, it's impossible to tell what clients I'm referring to.  This one was delayed because I have rules against SVN commits, e-mails to clients, and blog posts while under the influence.) a concept has one fundamental problem:

I am -happier- slightly intoxicated.

I am more productive.

I don't mind repetitive tasks as much.

...I could go on, I suppose, but I'm slightly intoxicated, and it seems unnecessary.  Another point in alcohol's favour.

A slight buzz does not damage my cognitive abilities to any extent that anybody would notice, and I'd go so far as to say it makes me a -better thinker-, for the simple and expedient reason that I'm less likely to drift off into other avenues of thought.

I think Terry Pratchett hits something with a genuine reflection of reality with the concept of "knurd" - which is simply "drunk" spelled backwards, and is an implication of somebody who is, by nature, the opposite of drunk - which is to say, -too sober-.

I've taken exactly one IQ test in my life.  I was above 180.  I was estimated to be in the 220 range (IQ tests fail above 180).  Yes, I know, lots of people make this kind of ridiculous claim.  Believe me or disbelieve me as you wish.  I will add that I was eight or nine at the time, that I was not -supposed- to take the IQ test, that I was given it "by mistake" by a school which was trying to prove I -wasn't- gifted and -shouldn't- be moved up a grade, and that they didn't even bother to give me the test I was -supposed- to have taken, to skip a grade, when my score came back.  My IQ is probably considerably lower now, as it's a measure relative to your own age group, and I've grown considerably lazier in my mental processes since then...

Well, I'm drifting off topic.  The short of it is, I'm a fuckin' genius.  Yeah.

And I'm stating outright, here and now, that alcohol makes me -better-.  Especially mixed with energy drinks or coffee.

Alcohol doesn't make me dumb.  It might make me -dumber-, but it doesn't make me dumb.  And at my intelligence level, it is actually easier to function in the world with a little bit of fuzziness to my thoughts.  Because, let us face it, there's little practical application for genius.  Not only is there little practical application for genius, it's a drawback in almost everything you can do.

I work with my mind for a living.  My job is purely cognitive; everything I produce, I produce from my thoughts.  And my job bores me to fuckin' tears.  I prefer manual labor, to be honest; I'd do something physical if it paid as well as my current job.  I entirely sympathize with the guy on Office Space, except I started with the manual labor jobs, and moved into an office job.

Alcohol makes me better at my job; I'm more focused.  I used to drink small sums of red wine regularly throughout the day; I was extraordinarily productive in this arrangement.  I was gaining weight on this plan, however, so I haven't done that in a long while, and my productivity has declined a bit.

This post?  This post was written on a mixture of gin, vodka, grain alcohol (Everclear), and energy drink.  Oh, and coffee, but that came later.  It tastes awful, I have to say.  But it gets the job done.

So yeah.  I can see where alcoholics come from.  There are some people - myself included - who simply function better with alcohol in their system.

I function better with a bit of tobacco, too, but I'm saving that for when I'm old and my heart is more likely to go out than my lungs.  I'm not particularly concerned about my liver, as, while I function better on alcohol, the absolutely horrific taste means I rarely actually drink it.  I prefer red wine because it tastes an entirely different kind of nasty which masks the taste of ethanol.  (I can taste shit most other people can't, incidentally; I have a talent for identifying what spices went into a meal as a result.  Ethanol tastes the way polyurethane smells, if you're curious and can't taste it.)

Bitter Edition

Voting for the welfare state is like having unprotected sex with an irresponsible person who wants nothing to do with you.

Fifteen years later you realize you have no money because you're having to pay for the living expenses of immature people who can't and won't hold a job, who go to school learning pointless shit with no productive value instead of working, who despise you for believing in the value of hard work, and think they're smarter than you.

The problems should never have been allowed to reach the point they're at now.  The American public deserves what's coming to it.

My Debugging Skills...

...are not top-notch, apparently.  Spent the last two and a half hours trying to figure out what was wrong with a message.

Turns out, nothing.  It was the addressing that was messed up.  The trading partner used the service proxy's address as the service endpoint.  Resulting in the service proxy routing the message to itself, declaring the message a duplicate, reporting that error back to what it thought was a client (and was actually itself), and being quite startled at the response it got back from what it thought was a third party trading partner (and was actually itself) declaring that the message it had just sent was a duplicate.

At least we had the proxy checking tokens for duplicates.  An infinite loop in our request gateway is a pretty big DOS risk.