Jun 012016

Star Wars Princess Bride quotesFandom is Broken. “Back in high school I had a great religion teacher. He used to have us bring in quotes from pop culture that could be applied to religion because he wanted us to understand how pervasive religion was to people a thousand years ago, as pervasive as music or movies are to us today. He believed that the future would see people no longer killing each other over interpretations of God but over bands…
I think he was on the right track when it comes to the way pop culture has replaced other things that used to give us meaning, but I don’t think he could have ever guessed it would be comic book characters and Ghostbusters that would motivate the 21st century’s holy popcult warriors.”

Why Modern Fight Scenes Put You To Sleep

I hope this sort of thing gets more traction. I love fictional violence, but violence is very rarely about the *actual violence*. case in point: aside from the awful choreography, why else did last season’s Dorne fight scene suck so much?

Yesterday I learned that most people don’t feel any pain when drinking carbonated beverages! WTF? I thought drinking fizzy drinks was like using habaneros or other super-spicy things in your food – it was a thing crazy people did because they liked pain. How much of my life has been a lie?? (no actual link)

Latest round in the ongoing court case between Google and Oracle goes to Google! Yaaaay!
The reason for the fight explained:

“Google wanted people who wrote programs in the popular programming language Java to be able to reuse their code in Android apps. To do that, Google had to ensure that Java code written for other purposes ran exactly the same on Android. But negotiations with the company behind Java, Sun Microsystems (which was later acquired by Oracle), broke down, so Google decided to create its own version of Java from scratch.

Google’s version of Java didn’t reuse any code from Oracle’s version. But to ensure compatibility, Google’s version used functions with the same names and functionality.

This practice was widely viewed as legal within the software world at the time Google did it, but Oracle sued, arguing that this was copyright infringement.
[…] a landmark 1995 ruling in which an appeals court held that the software company Borland had not infringed copyright when it created a spreadsheet program whose menus were organized in the same way as the menus in the more popular spreadsheet Lotus 1-2-3.

The court held that the order of Lotus 1-2-3 menu items was an uncopyrightable “method of operation.” And it concluded that giving Lotus exclusive ownership over its menu structure would harm the public”

Oh shit. This is incredible. But trigger warnings for sexual violence.

Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer

How to Take ‘Political Correctness’ Away From Donald Trump
“A Martian following election coverage via GoGo in-flight WIFI would never know that Trump’s pledge to revenge-kill family members of terrorists—a war crime—violated more important Earth-taboos than his calling a campaign rival “a pussy.” Watching CBS or NBC or ABC, the Martian would likewise conclude that Trump calling Ted Cruz “a pussy” was worse than calling Mexican migrants rapists. Only the former comment was censored.
And Trump benefits from their dearth of discernment. It frees him from the burden of carefully deciding which taboos ought to be challenged and which safeguard life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Instead of careful critiques, he rants off-the-cuff, knowing that the bad press will look basically the same regardless of whether he attacks Rosie O’Donnell or the taboo against torture. His supporters are as inclined as the press to treat every utterance as an undifferentiated instance of political correctness”

Google’s AI is writing eerie post-modern poetry (when given a starting and ending sentence and told to fill in the gaps)

I *had* always wondered why there was no AmericaPox the Europeans contracted! Now I know.

Adidas to make shoes in Germany again – but using robots. There is no more unethical treatment of laborers.

How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist
If you want to maximize addictiveness, all tech designers need to do is link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable. But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:
When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got.

And here I had no idea Subaru’s are loved by lesbians!
“For their first Subaru ads, Mulryan/Nash hired women to portray lesbian couples. But the ads didn’t get good reactions from lesbian audiences.

What worked were winks and nudges. One ad campaign showed Subaru cars that had license plates that said “Xena LVR” (a reference to Xena: Warrior Princess, a TV show whose female protagonists seemed to be lovers) or “P-TOWN” (a moniker for Provincetown, Massachusetts, a popular LGBT vacation spot). Many ads had taglines with double meanings. “Get Out. And Stay Out” could refer to exploring the outdoors in a Subaru—or coming out as gay. “It’s Not a Choice. It’s the Way We’re Built” could refer to all Subarus coming with all-wheel-drive—or LGBT identity.
The delight among niche audience groups in “uncoding” the hints in Subaru ads surprised the marketing team—and in the case of its gay-friendly ads, so did straight audiences’ ignorance. While gay and lesbian consumers loved the shout outs in the license plates, straight people would only notice features like a bike rack.”

Also – oh, right. I remember the early 90s. Damn, that feels like a long time ago.

“the attitude of most businesses toward LGBT advertising was: “Why would you do something like that? You’d be known as a gay company.”
In the 1990s, Poux worked at Mulryan/Nash, an agency that specialized in the gay market. Early in his career, he made cold calls to ask companies for their business. “All the rules of marketing went out the window at this fear” of marketing to gays and lesbians, he says. “People would choke up on the phone. It was tough.” ”

The Tingler strikes again :)

LOL! Every fight anime ever!

If UNO Was an Anime

Bizarre situation in which I find Glenn Beck saying things rationally and self-consistently. Did he recover from the crazy or something?

“I sat there looking around and heard things like:
1) Facebook has a very liberal workforce. Has Facebook considered diversity in their hiring practice? The country is 2% Mormon. Maybe Facebook’s company should better reflect that reality.
2) Maybe Facebook should consider a six-month training program to help their biased and liberal workforce understand and respect conservative opinions and values.
3) We need to see strong and specific steps to right this wrong.

It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges.

I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I? […]
What happened to us? When did we become them?”

I didn’t even know we were supposed to wash reusable bags! If you factor in the environmental impact of washing a bag after each use, is it actually better at all?
“97 percent of consumers don’t regularly wash their bags, according to a report from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University. Their researchers swabbed 84 bags for bacteria, and the findings were outright nasty: coliform bacteria in half, E. coli in 12 percent.
When San Francisco banned plastic bags, the number of E. coli infections spiked. Even worse, the number of foodborne-illness deaths rose a whopping 46 percent in the three months after the bag ban began.”

“It’s most likely that this is just another example of YouTube’s Content ID system automatically taking down a video without regard to actual copyright ownership and fair use. As soon as FOX broadcast that Family Guy episode, their robots started taking down any footage that appeared to be reposted from the show — and in this case they took down the footage they stole from an independent creator,” Lyon says. (sign the petition from TakeDownAbuse.orghttps://www.takedownabuse.org/familyguy/ )

It begins! :) Uber tests self-driving cars in Pittsburgh


Fantastic essay on The Iliad.

“The puzzle the Iliad poses in the persons of Achilles and Hector is, How do we train selfish men to be violent killers, and then convince them not to fight each other, but to die for their nation?

The answer is clever. […] the Iliad invented self-interested, libertarian, civic virtue.

They should fight, the Iliad argues (though not directly), because life is overrated. Life is an endless cycle of flailing about helplessly in a universe that doesn’t care. Life is being the plaything of the gods. The best thing for you, personally, is to win glory for yourself; that’s more valuable than more of this life stuff. It doesn’t last anyway.

This was a very interesting pivot point in the history of the West. […] The obvious choice was for Homer to say that a man should fight for his people because he loves them and he loves his family and wants to defend them. The obvious choice would be to say civilization should be based on morality.

Homer didn’t do that. He said civilization should be based on selfishness.

And that’s when Western civilization was created.

Selfish civic virtue was eventually diluted by morality, but the West still honors selfishness and individuality more than other civilizations. This is a large part of why the West has been so successful.”

I’d heard of aphantasia* before, but this article really brought a lot of it home. The “Twenty most common questions I get” was especially interesting. I’m still not sure I can imagine what this must be like.
(*unable to visualize things in one’s mind)

Tingle Trolley Problem
“Benedict Cumberbatch legitimately looks like he’s never jumped before.” GIF of pre-CGI superhero jumps

My life will not be complete until I have participated in the running of the balls.

MIKA’s “Grace Kelly” song is delightful!

Why the FDA’s new e-cigarette regulations are a gift to Big Tobacco (and could actually harm public health)
“The most significant part of the FDA’s rule is a requirement for government approval […] this means that just about all e-cigs must go through a new approval process if they are to continue to be sold. This is a costly process — an estimated $1 million or more per product — and must be done for each and every model, flavor, etc. For tobacco giants such as Reynolds and Altria, this is no big deal. For smaller e-cig makers, however, these rules could be the kiss of death. […] the e-cig market will shrink, and Big Tobacco will be in a better position to dominate what’s left. A vibrant competitive market will be replaced with a cartel, much like the one we see in the cigarette market.”

Snowden is the president we need, but not, it seems, the president we deserve. :(
“As someone who works in the intelligence community, you’ve given up a lot to do this work. You’ve happily committed yourself to tyrannical restrictions. You voluntarily undergo polygraphs; you tell the government everything about your life. You waive a lot of rights because you believe the fundamental goodness of your mission justifies the sacrifice of even the sacred. It’s a just cause.
And when you’re confronted with evidence — not in an edge case, not in a peculiarity, but as a core consequence of the program — that the government is subverting the Constitution and violating the ideals you so fervently believe in, you have to make a decision. When you see that the program or policy is inconsistent with the oaths and obligations that you’ve sworn to your society and yourself, then that oath and that obligation cannot be reconciled with the program. To which do you owe a greater loyalty?

Perhaps today’s culture wars can be viewed largely as the continuing clash of America’s earliest settlers in the 17th century. Kinda feels like humans are simply a substrate that a larger process (a “civilization”) runs on.
“If America is best explained as a Puritan-Quaker culture locked in a death-match with a Cavalier-Borderer culture, with all of the appeals to freedom and equality and order and justice being just so many epiphenomena – well, I’m not sure what to do with that information. Push it under the rug?”

‘Star Trek’ Lawsuit: The Debate Over Klingon Language Heats Up
Oh ho! When I was a young geek, an online-friend related a story of how he got lost while visiting Russia, and cursed in Klingon on the bus. A fellow Klingon-speaker asked him what was wrong, and though he spoke no Russian, and the Russian dude spoke no English, they communicated very well in Klingon and he was soon back on his proper way.
“This argument is absurd since a language is only useful if it can be used to communicate with people, and there are no Klingons with whom to communicate,” stated a plaintiffs’ brief

Now, with 250,000 copies of a Klingon dictionary said to have been sold, Klingon language certification programs being offered, the Microsoft search engine Bing presenting English-to-Klingon translations, one Swedish couple performing their marriage vows in Klingon, foreign governments providing official statements in Klingon and so on, the Language Creation Society is holding up Klingon as having freed the “bounds of its textual chains.”

no court has ever addressed the issue of whether a constructed spoken language is entitled to copyright protection.

The best explanation for the 10 Commandments yet! Head Canon accepted. :)

Neurons Gone Wild. Expanding on Society of Mind – this post proposes that neurons compete for biological resources by being useful to the organism, and are “motivated” to be productive, likening the brain to an economy.
“agency isn’t intrinsic to a system, but rather something we ascribe to it. It’s a way of describing a system at the level of abstraction that includes goals, obstacles, motivations, etc. If you look too closely (at a sufficiently low level of abstraction), the agency might seem to disappear. A plant, for example, is ‘merely’ growing its stem according to the concentration of auxin, just like we (humans) are often ‘merely’ acting on our drives and instincts. But zoom back out, and once again it will be productive to describe the system at the agent-level of abstraction. Thus explanatory power, not free will, is the hallmark of agency.

agency is a fundamental property of the brain. Not only is agency the function of the brain — and thus it’s very reason for existence — but it’s also built into the brain’s fabric and architecture. Because even neurons have agency, in the form of (metabolic) selfishness, higher-order brain systems don’t need to create agency ‘from scratch’ out of mindless robotic slaves. They inherit agency pretty much for free.
The brain is thus uniquely hospitable to agents, who can be said to take root and grow in the brain quite readily.
There’s actually a more general principle here, namely, that rich substrates are more fertile, more conducive to growth. […] Computers, though technically capable of supporting agency, aren’t particularly hospitable to it. The brain, in contrast, is already teeming with agency (in the form of billions of selfish neurons), and is thus uniquely fertile.”

Non-Places destroy cities.
“Non-Places are areas of the city where nothing happens. If we look at the Traditional City, we see that it is mostly Places. […]To the degree that we can eliminate cars, the Traditional City can become almost 100% places.

A pedestrian street is a Place. When it becomes dominated by cars — to the point where a person is not comfortable walking down the middle of the street — it becomes a Non-Place.

Green Space was invented to make our other Non-Places less horrible. It basically doesn’t exist in the Traditional City. The Traditional City doesn’t need Green Space because it doesn’t suck to begin with. There is no problem we are trying to solve through the introduction of acres of mowed lawns.

It is difficult to explain, to someone who has never experienced it, that the Traditional City is actually a very quiet, lovely sort of place — even the largest Traditional Cities, with the Tokyo population well over 30 million. […] The residential university campus is about the closest experience most Americans have to a no-car urban place.”

Just in case you need another reason not use KU (Kindle Unlimited) (except for the one-month free trial to read a dozen Chuck Tingle shorts) Much of the money goes to scammers, and Amazon doesn’t care.

Life Is Pain. The numb are the lucky ones. What It’s Like to ‘Wake Up’ From Autism After Magnetic Stimulation. “I’d fantasized about really understanding other people’s emotional world. I imagined a world of sweetness and light — emotions I’d been missing all my life. But when it happened, the reality showed me what a fool I’d been. Now, I could look at a person and sense all their emotions. And most were downers. […] I realized that I’d deluded myself all this time. The world is not a wonderful, happy place. ”
His recollection of working for KISS and Pink Floyd on the road is fascinating as well. I can’t recommend this article enough.


As I’ve been watching this gash in my hand heal over the past few weeks I keep thinking “Holy crap. I am made out of a vast amount of biological nano-bots!” And none of them have any idea I exist (which I realize is crazy anthropomorphizing, but I can’t help thinking it). I, likewise, have no way to directly control them. And yet here we are. WTF, reality? (again, no link)

I linked this in an earlier post, but – “almost no pop celebrities write their own hits. Too much is on the line for that, and being a global celebrity is a full-time job. It would be like Will Smith writing the next Independence Day.”

Smashmouth’s Allstar, but everyone’s playing at slightly different tempos. Actually not stressful, and sorta weirdly hypnotic.

The best succinct explanation of culture I’ve seen yet. Includes the first coherent explanation of what “cultural appropriation” is that I’ve ever seen! (in an interesting twist, one of the examples explaining cultural appropriation argues that the “Fake Gamer Girl” trope is basically a complaint of cultural appropriation) This is long, yes. But extremely worth it.

A small taste –
“… So imagine you’re an evangelical Christian. All the people you like are also evangelical Christians. Most of your social life happens at church. Most of your good memories involve things like Sunday school and Easter celebrations, and even your bittersweet memories are things like your pastor speaking at your parents’ funeral. Most of your hopes and dreams involve marrying someone and having kids and then sharing similarly good times with them. When you try to hang out with people who aren’t evangelical Christians, they seem to think really differently than you do, and not at all in a good way. A lot of your happiest intellectual experiences involve geeking out over different Bible verses and the minutiae of different Christian denominations.
Then somebody points out to you that God probably doesn’t exist. And even if He does, it’s probably in some vague and complicated way, and not the way that means that the Thrice-Reformed Meta-Baptist Church and only the Thrice-Reformed Meta-Baptist Church has the correct interpretation of the Bible and everyone else is wrong.
On the one hand, their argument might be convincing. On the other, you are pretty sure that if everyone agreed on this, your culture would be destroyed.”

For fans, this is basically a “yeah, I remember that, soooo good!” video. :) For people who haven’t seen it yet, consider it a teaser, and another endorsement to check it out. Note that *MAJOR* spoilers appear at 4:08 and are rife thereafter, so stop before then if you’re not familiar!

The Philosophy of Rick and Morty

Reddit’s warrant canary is gone. Odds are very high that they have been served a national security letter.

I’ll just leave this here…

does it move

  4 Responses to “Link Archive 4/1/16 – 5/31/16”

  1. I always like these posts. I am going to be working on clicking all these links for a day or two. But is is really nice to have a big high quality Internet in one place.

  2. That thing about the fights in movies (at least comic adaptations) not really mattering was pretty insightful. It also explains (part of) the hype around a lot of recent series, like Game of Thrones (or A song of ice and fire, although I think there’s a lot more books where you don’t know the outcome of a fight than there are TV series), Attack on Titan, Madoka, … I guess it’s a lot more common in Anime that main characters (villain or hero) die or take noteable permanent damage in fights than it is in western cartoons or movies.
    A lot of TV series appear to end in a state that equals their beginning, so you can watch it, miss an episode and not still not miss anything relevant. I know that people call those episodes fillers in anime but most TV series consinst almost entirely of them. Firefly could be an example of that, you can leave out almost every episode on its own and watching the next episode you don’t have to be confused about what has happened because usually “nothing much” has. Every episode on its own is interesting and cool though. (I picked that example because I like firefly and didn’t want to point out that a TV series I don’t like sucks or something).

    Anyway I guess I already wrote too much to make one small point.
    Thanks for linking that video!

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