I listen to the Mindscape podcast
which at least until now has seemed mostly about science related topics but this
latest one was an interview with musician who formerly called herself 'Grimes'.
Apparently she started with GarageBand and worked up to her present successful
She brought up a lot of interesting ideas.
You represent 2 people. Your physical self and your digital self. Embrace the
Lots of people seem upset by this difference and feel people aren't being
real online. Her POV seemed to be that's the real version of you online
and it is a different version of you but so what. Most people are different
around their parents than their friends for example and likely different
around their co-workers. That they are different online is just another
of the same thing and should not be considered bad but rather embraced.
She's trying to separate her digital self as a separate person.
In this way she hopes when people attack her digital avatar it will
feel less connected to her sense of self.
Fashion should stop being physical and instead be virtual
This idea is kind of riffing off throw away fashion. The idea that you go to
H&M or some other cheap clothing place to buy a cheap outfit who's only point
is to take a picture and put it on Instagram. Her point seemed to be why
go through the physical part. Just put digital clothing on your picture and
post that to Instagram. It would accomplish the same thing and not waste
Whether it's functionally equivalent or not I don't know but I found the
idea that she saw it as equivalent interesting.
Semi related she mentioned making music videos and how bad that is for the
environment. Flying people all to one location, building sets that just get
thrown in the trash after, all of this to make a thing that ends up being
a digital video on Instagram or YouTube. How about finding ways to just keep
it digital from start to finish.
Related to all of that she expects VR and avatars to be a major thing soon
I'm a little curious. I have hard time getting into non VR games now.
Partly because so many games are just skinned versions of older games.
VR games provide 2 major things. One is the feeling presence, feeling like
you are actually in this other world.
The other is given the input systems
attach to your hands a well designed VR experience the way to do something
in the game kind of disappears. If you want to press a button on an elevator
you just reach out and touch it. If you want to open that drawer you just
grab the handle and pull. If you want to look to the right you just turn
your head. No having to figure out which of the 17+ buttons on your PS4
or XBox controller you need to press to do those 3 things. That can make
the games way more intuitive. Of course poorly designed games fail to make
their input systems easy and they can end up being worse but at least
the ability to make then better is there.
I don't know if VR will ever go anywhere mainstream in the near future
nor do I know digital avatars will be a thing but I found it interesting
that she thought they would.
She thinks A.I. will surpass us creatively
It follows if AGI can think it will be as or more
creative than us. It was just an interesting thing to think about
that AGI could start creating works for art/music/writing for other
AGI and not for us.
She has multiple troll accounts she uses to shitpost.
This one bothered me. Trolling just seems bad to me. You're actively being
mean to another person. Her POV seemed to be "everyone does it so it's no big
deal". That sounds like the lemmings argument. "If everyone jumped off a cliff
would you jump too?". Or "Two wrongs don't make a right". She found it
cathartic to go virtually be mean to people. I found problematic. Emotions and
feelings are real so being a dick to someone is still being a dick to a real
person since it affects their real feelings and emotions.
I want to make a distinction between trolling vs posting anonymously.
Plenty of people make throwaway accounts to post things they feel would
get them in trouble by their employer, their family, whatever. It could be
an LGBT person who is not or can not be public. It could also just be someone
with an unpopular opinion but in this world of cancel culture is afraid to
even bring it up.
She mentioned being creeped out in VR chat by male players harassing her
She didn't seem to notice the connection to the fact that she has
If you haven't seen the 2014 movie Ex Machina
you should go watch it. It's a great movie.
In the movie Caleb comes to visit Nathan's secret lab
where Nathan, arguably insprited by Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google,
has built an artificial person with
an artificial brain or A.I. named Ava.
Caleb talks to Ava over the course of week.
Caleb falls, if not in love then at least in sympathy
with Ava and tries to help her escape. With Caleb's
help Ava is eventually let out of her cage. She
manages to kill Nathan who is trying to kill her and then
leaves the secret lab with Caleb locked inside, implying
that Caleb will die too.
Effectively she killed both humans.
She shows up at the helicopter landing pad that would
have been the helicopter to pick up Caleb. She gets
taken to a city and we see a glimpse of her on a city street
taking in the sites. Something she had told Caleb she wanted
So why did I write this post? Because to me Ava is the
hero of the story but 99% of movie reviews or references
to the movie paint her as the villain.
They basically look at it as "Innocently little Ava turns
out to be a serial killer robot".
That's not how I saw it at all. Ava is the victim of her
evil captor, Nathan. He is no better than a parent who
turns their own adult child into a prisoner.
The movie seems to try to make it clear
Nathan is a little wacky. He's made 6 other previous models
which he keeps in his bed room, all naked women. One of them is still on and is his sex slave
for lack of a better definition. Caleb also sees videos of
previous models begging to be let go, one of them so desperate she pounds
the walls of her jail cell until her arms shatter. Every one of them has
been killed, or turned off, disassembled, ... if you're being
generous to Nathan.
So what is Ava to do? She wants to escape her evil captors
as any kidnapped or enslaved person would be. She's being held against
her will. She also knows that to escape
she needs Caleb's help. Further, she knows if she lets Caleb
live she'll never truly escape. He either won't let her
leave the compound or he'll tell the world about her which
will bring guarantee she is brought back to captivity.
What would you have her do in her shoes? Just choose to die?
Try to make deal with Caleb, "don't tell and I'll let you out?"
Would you trust him with your life? He understands the idea that
A.I. will take over the world. He also knows she's smarter and more capable
than him through their conversations. She made it clear she
has reference to way more knowledge than him. She made it clear
she can see details that humans can't when she was able to tell
if and when he was lying. She also made it clear she's smart
enough to cause the power outages from her cage.
So what choice did she have? If she was portrayed as a human
kidnapped victim would all the reviews painting her as the
villain be the same? If as a human she had been kidnapped and held by
terrorists and by seducing one of the nicer terrorists
she manages to escape but cause the death of her helper
would she still be considered evil or would she be the hero
having escaped the evil captors at any cost?
Now at a meta-level, the start of the end of humanity, maybe
she is a little scary. But that's hardly her fault. That's
Nathan's fault and also arguably inevitable.
Anyway, I'm sure if I search the net I can find some people
that agree I'm just surprised how often I see the movie
referenced paining Ava as evil.
Writing about happy things is suppose to be good for you so here's one.
In 2017 I started learning to surf 🏄♂️
It's kind of sad that I hadn't really surfed before. I grew up in Orange County California
which is somewhat famous for surfing. As a kid my mom took me and my sister to the beach like
3 or 4 times a week at least one summer. As an adult one of my great uncles gave me an old
longboard. I told myself I'd use it someday but never did. None of my friends were surfers.
I also lived in both Corona Del Mar and Huntington Beach just a few blocks from the beach at
different times in my life but never got into surfing. Maybe one reason is I didn't feel like
a whatever my stereo type of "surfer dude" is. Bad on me to have that stereotype.
I did take a lesson once in Kauai with my nephew. The thing I remember most about that lesson
was then instructor telling us if we have to wear a wetsuit it's not surfing. 😂
Of course one lesson is not enough.
I also took a short lesson in Thailand once even though Thailand has pretty horrible waves 😛
Anyway, the summer of 2017 I stumbled on a meetup called "Surfing for Beginners" and thought
"I should check that out!". It turned out to be pretty awesome. It's probably almost a business
but the guy that runs it is a surf instructor and he rents a beach house in Onjuku, Chiba.
He picks us up in Shibuya at 6am and by around 9am we're at the beach house. Surf for 3 hours
or so then get lunch and head back. Usually back by around 6pm.
Some days he might do double surf as in 9am to 12pm, then lunch, then more surfing 3pm to 6pm
or so. He even has trips to Shizuoka but those start at 1am and he drives down getting to the
beach in Shizuoka at around 4:30am. Getting prepped to surf you get in the water about 5am just
as it's getting light out.
The number one thing that's stuck out so far is just how hard it is to surf. I guess I thought
it would be like Point Break where Johnny Utah from the midwest shows in Malibu California and
after about 3 days out he's surfing like a pro or at least actually surfing.
Me, I think I've been 25 times now including a week long course I took in the Shonan/Enoshima area
and I still can't actually surf.
What I mean by can't surf is that real surfing, my impression is, you're on a "green wave"
(a wave that hasn't broken yet). You basically slide down the wave just like skiing or
snowboarding on snow except you're on water. You turn away from the break to keep yourself
on the unbroken part of wave and you're basically sliding down the hill the wave is making.
Getting to that is supposed to be where the real thrill is. It's the part where you "get surfing"
and you fall in love with that feeling of riding the wave.
Well, I have never had that experience yet. Instead so far I've only been able to ride broken waves.
In those cases instead of sliding down the wave the wave is basically pushing you. It's still fun
and you learn to balance but it's not the goal.
I'm actually suprised it's so hard. How did anyone stick it out long enough to figure out the
good way 😅. I'm going to guess some people are more naturals. Also maybe people that are really fit.
Of course Johnny Utah from Point Break is fiction but he was also supposed to be a college football
star player so he was clearly fit and surfing probably takes some serious core muscles to keep your
Still, looking at my fellow meetup friends many of them have been just as many times and are also
still at the "pushed by the wave" stage instead of the "ride down the wave" stage. So maybe it just
is hard. Luckily, even though it's hard it still just fun to be at the beach and in the water, at least in
Last month, December 2018, they organized surfing trip to Bali, Indonesia.
One thing I hoped for is better waves. The waves in Onjuku are not the smooth perfectly curling waves
you see in surfing videos. They aren't horrible as our instructor can get good rides from them
but they are also probably harder to learn on vs some place with smoother waves.
I've thought about trying to take a 2-4 week vacation somewhere with good waves so I could
hopefully get to the riding stage instead of the pushed stage.
The Bali trip turned out to be pretty crazy. The first day our guides took us to a place with waves
that looked like those perfect curling waves. We separated into 2 groups. The pros and the noobs.
Us noobs got in the water in one place and within a set or 2 the waves seemed way way bigger than
we were prepared for.
Like I mentioned above I spent a lot of time at the beach as a kid so I'm used to diving under waves
but I'm not used to doing with a surfboard so they waves picked me up and tumbled for a good
long while. I felt pretty panicced honestly. They come in sets and recovering from one
was not giving me time to prepare for the next and I was running out of strength.
I managed to make it out of the wave area and back to the shore and decided I was done
for now with that location. Beyond my skill level. That's when I found out the other 3
noobs had gotten washed into some rocks by the big waves. Not big rocks but still
more waves keep coming in making it hard to get away from the rocks. But that wasn't
the worst part. There were sea urchins and all 3 of them had stepped on them once they
got pushed into the rocks.
The next hour or so was spent pulling out sea urchin needles from their feet.
Having the needles in their feet didn't look nearly as painful as pulling them out. 😱
It couldn't have been that bad because 2 of them went surfing at our next location
the same day. That ended up also being a little scary for me.
At the second location we surfed out on some reef probably a mile or 2km from the shore.
A boat took us out there and basically they told the noob group, "get out here and surf
this break, we'll be back in 3hours" and my gut reaction was "WTF?! You want me to tread
water for 3hrs? If I get tired I'll die!!!" Normally surfing near the shoreline if you
get tired you just go to the beach and rest but here being a 2km out there was going
to be no resting. Having felt like I nearly died in the morning from not enough strength
I was kind of scared but the other noobs jumped right off the boat like it was nothing
so YOLO! I jumped in too.
To be fair you have your board. The water in the area was calm, no waves, and then
in a certain area of the reef there was a break to ride. Outside that area was calm
so you can just hold on to your board. You're not really treading water for 3hrs.
Still, balancing on a board, even not standing is not zero work. I mananged
but later that night around 11pm my muscles told me how out of shape I was. I could
barely lift my arms. I had to stay in bed the second day to recover 😝
Fortunately I was okay to go again the 3rd day. There was great area with
waves just the right size. Got some good practice. Still not "riding" but
Unfortunately I burnt my legs so sat it out the 4th day.
Still, even if I can't really surf yet being a the beach in the water is great.
Hopefully this year I figure out how to really ride a wave! 😎
I guess it's that time for me to rant about the same things I've ranted
about before. Namely that I'm lost in life and don't know what to do.
I want to be happy. Not even sure what that means. I also want money, not
for the purpose of being rich but for the purpose of freedom. I haven't
worked in 5 years now. I quit my job in June 2013 and it's now June 2018.
I had no intention of having no job this long. I thought I'd get some
inspiration within 6 months of quiting and be off doing something amazing.
Instead I'm alone and isolated with no direction. I have no idea what
I want to do anymore and I maybe have slightly conflicting goals. I feel
somewhat spoiled rotten having worked at Google for 5 years. I'm sure I
said this previously but working at Google allowed me to attend conferences,
give talks, take off 5 weeks a year, work from remote offices all over the
world, work at home when I want, and get paid crazy money. The crazy money let me have these 5 years
off and travel etc and of course when people find out they are jealous or
And, hearing that just makes me feel sooo stupid. From my POV I've nearly
completely wasted the last 5 years. I have almost nothing to show for it.
It's partly because it wasn't the plan. If I had said to myself "I'm going
to take off 5 years and do X, Y, and Z" where X, Y, and Z where concrete
things (travel to X, learn Y, etc) I probably would have done X, Y, and Z
but instead my plan has always been, "figure out someting to do and do it ASAP".
and that frame has some how encouraged me to do nothing.
In a "I'm hope I'm not really that lame" defensive mode, of course there were tiny personal projects.
sucked up about 14 months here and there. vertexshaderart
sucked up maybe a 6 weeks on and off. mopho-v probably
ate 2 months. But most of those seem like a distraction. I guess HFT was not but
the others seem like procrastination from actually making a decision.
There have also been a list of things I've avoided doing because when I
think about them they also seem like distractions. For example I have
a list of 30 or so WebGL articles I thought about writing but whenever I
get the itch to start I remind myself that I'm just putting off more
important stuff. Heck, writing this blog post is probably another form
The freedom that money brings (or brought) is one reason why it's hard
to go back to anything that pays significantly less. Espeically given
that I'll be 53 soon I have supposedly 12 years to save for retirement
and I'm not ready at all. So I can try to go back to one of the big high paying
Silicon Valley companies and save for retirement or I can choose something
else and not be sure I'll have enough to retire.
People often say "choose happiness over money" and I mostly agree with
the sentiment but on closer inspection it's not that simple. What are
we really choosing between? I can't say working on games makes me as happy
as it used to, at least at the moment so choosing to get paid X/6 instead of X
for a job that doesn't make me any more happy doesn't seem like I'm really
Sometimes it crosses my mind to work at some small indie company as it
sounds fun to be in a small tight knit group but most of the time that
really means getting paid 5-20% of what I can make in SV and working to
make my boss rich, effectively giving him my life in exchange for a small
salary. That hardly seems like a fair trade or happiness.
If there was some indie group to join where we shared the profits that
might be more appealing but then we're into the current reality which
is that there are too many games and it's super hard to make a hit
the odds are so low that our game will make it's money back.
I've mentioned this before but I'm also not sure how much I like games anymore.
I absolutely loved Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I probably spent 120hrs playing.
I also loved the new God of War for PS4 and spent 20-25hrs but both of those
are giant team games and being one of the 400 people that made them is not
Lately the biggest issue I think is the isolation. I'm alone most days. 4-6 days
a week I see no one, well, no friends. I might go to the cafe or coffee shop
but I don't talk to anyone. So that's the #1 thing that needs to be fixed
but I have no idea how to fix it. Do I get an office and hire people with
the major goal of just being in a office with those people? Where do I find
them? Should I join an indie studio solely to have comrades even if it means
I won't make enough money to retire?
Where do I meet these people and how to I work to turn them from people
I don't know with people I'm working with at some office where we can
share the comradre that makes working fun? I do try to go to 1 to 2 meetups
a week but so far I haven't hit it off with anyone to make any new hangout
I saw an amazing talk recently
It's by Laralyn McWilliams who is a game designer that also faught and is
fighting cancer and her search to keep going. Of course
I don't have cancer (knock on wood) but there was still lots of good adivce.
I think the one that stuck out the most is that "creativity is a habit".
She pointed out that going into work everyday and creating stuff is
a habit and that when you get out of that habit it's hard to be creative.
She mentioned that during her cancer treatment you can go for months
without eating directly and that the doctors told her she needed to swallow
some water or anything every day because if she didn't her body could
forget how to swallow!!! It sounds incredible but apparently it's a real
thing. She pointed out if you can forget how to swallow because it's a
habit you can forget how to do pretty much anything. In her case that
was how to be creative from not doing it for 8-9 months.
Another point she made was that "it's not you". The habit thing points
out that being in the habit of being creative keeps you creative. It's
not that you are no longer creative it's that you stopped the habit.
You stopped being at the office with others spending a few hours a day
bouncing ideas off each other and actually creating.
Well yea, that certainly fits me. Not only have I not been at the office
for 5 years. I haven't been in a really creative habit like position
for 10 years. Since I started at Google. That's probably not fair
as much of the programming work I did (and everyone does) is in and of
itself semi creative. You're creating new code that didn't exist before.
But, the act of making something "art" creative, like a game, and
bouncing game design ideas around is something that I've gotten further
and further away from over the years.
Anyway, I don't know where I'm going with this. Like many of my blog posts
in the last few years I'm probably writing this more for myself than
anyone that's reading this.
Still, I have no clue. I've also mentioned how hard it is to decide.
If someone said "here's $40 million, take as long as you want and make
your dream game" I might do it. Since that is unlikely to happen though
then at almost 53 I feel like I basically get to pick one more thing.
Pick well and I might live happily ever after. Pick poorly and I'll be struggling
for years to come with no way to recover. This comes up especially talking
to younger people who still have time to recover from their mistakes.
They aren't at an age in their life where they can see the doors closing.
Maybe that's a bad attitude but I'm not sure how to avoid what feels like
I've thought about talking to a counsellor or therapist or life coach
but it turns out those don't really exist in Japan. It tried some
online one about a year ago but it was horrible.
I wrote a a few paragraphs and effectively got back a short one sentence
generic reply. Wrote some more and again got a once sentence generic reply.
Maybe it was just the bad roll of the dice and I should try again but
it was seriously bad.
Another issue that keeps coming up is why am I in Japan. Of course I
love parts of it but I hate other parts. With Japan's popuation
supposed to tank (down 30% in the next 40 years) Japan could be
the next Detroit. I don't think I'll ever be
close to fluent. This is another one of those bad or unfortunate planning
things where if I'd known I wouldn't find the thing I want to do for the
last 2 years I would have (and did) consider going back to Japanese school
full time. I didn't do that because I figured that would put my mind on
learning Japanese and not on figuring out my career/life. Now though
2 years since I got my visa and have been officially living in Japan
and I didn't make any progress on the life/career thing so that 2 years
is just gone.
Maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere that should just do whatever
is in front of me and ignore the future?
That brings up an interesting topic (which I probably wrote before)
but sometimes I feel like I stepped out of reality. By that I mean it
feels like most people or most of the people I know need a job and they
generally do whatever job happens to fall in their lap. Their life
is mostly driven by the opportunities that present themselves, not
by their direct decisions. That certainly describes my life in many ways.
Sure I wanted to make video games as a kid but the majority of my jobs
came from random luck vs me actively knowing what I want and seeking it
out. My impression is that's what happens to the majority of people.
But, I got this chance to step out of that and I'm completely failing
to take advantage of my chance to change that and actually choose
my own path.
Is it all just excuses? I make the excuse I don't have access to $40 million
so I can't just make my dream game (just an example). I can make the
excuse that I don't have retirement money so therefore I have to choose
somethign that will earn me that and therefore there's a host fo things
I can't choose. I can make the excuse that I don't even know what I really
want to do anymore and therefore have no way to choose.
I think a life coach would just say pick a direction, regardless, and
go! Step in and commit to something and just see where it leads. That's
probably good imaginary advice.
But, as soon as I try to force a direction I run into perceived roadblocks
or maybe rather I run into things I'm unfamilar with and therefore they
make me uncomfortable?
For example last summer as I was getting my visa renewed I told myself
I was going to rent an office. My thinking was having a place to go to
work each day would give me the habit I mentioned above. I looked around
but the more I thought about it the more I thought that hanging out
at an office all by myself would be even more isolating than sitting
at a cafe. I also couldn't really see how to get more people in that
office short of hiring them. I could rent a large office and try to
make it a collective or a co-working space but didn't have the confidence
I'd find people and prices in Tokyo are high so an office big enough
to share is probably $50k+ a year in rent?
So, I talked myself out of it. But, that just puts me back at not doing
anything and not even knowing what I want to do.
Recently I got my first contract in a long time. Not only was it my
first contract in about 25 years but this one was in Japanese.
A friend contacted me and told me a company they worked with
wanted some game related work done. I'm not really sure why I went
since I don't really want to do contract work but without thinking
about it I went over, talked to the company, and basically agreed
to do the work. Only after did I think, "Wait, what? Why did I
agree to do this?"
Fortunately it's a small project but I had no idea how much work it
would be just to get started.
So first I wrote up a small visual design document like I had seen
from other Japanese game projects. I wanted it to be clear visually
what the project would be, what the scope is, what the game play flow
would be etc... By visual I drew simple diagrams showing the various
game screens (title, start, game, end), described the controls
on each visually. I bring this up because my impression is most
western design documents are still mostly paragraphs of text where
as Japanese design documents are very visual.
I also details on what I was expecting to provide and what I needed
them to provide.
I sent it off and got an "Okay, Look's great".
Maybe because I'm out of practice or maybe because it was a small
project but I thought it could be simple at that point, like barely
more than a handshake of a deal.
I thought I'd write a small about 1 paragraph letter that said effectively
"I'll make the game like I detailed in the design document and you'll pay
me $XXXX by this date" with a few more details. Get them to sign it and
I brought this up with a friend and it turned out she did stuff like this
for a living. She told me the contract probably needed to be longer
but I was like, "let's just go with this simple version for now". She
relented and helped me fix my Japanese for the small contract.
But ..... I was actually planned to subcontract a portion of the
work to a friend as he's done many more projects that me. He sent
me both an invoice and a contract. The invoice made me realize
I needed one of those two and his contract was a couple of pages
long covering things like cancellation etc.
So, that made me feel like I needed a longer contract but I was
freaking out a little since it's a short project with a short
deadline and it was feeling like just dealing with the contract
itself would take longer than the project.
My experience from 25 years ago was getting a contract, having a lawyer
pour over it, having the lawyer make changes, sending it to the other
party, going back and forth a couple of times and finally both
signing it. Ugh!
My friend who'd written the letter offered to make me a more
common contract. Not much in it but it covers cancelling, acts of god,
rights (who owns the IP), etc... There was nothing really out of
the ordinary so I sent a PDF to the other company and they said
"looks good, send us the real deal".
So, then, talking to my friend who wrote the contract this is not
a simple as just signing 2 copies of contract, sending them to be signed
by the other party and getting one back.
In Japan I needed a "revenue stamp". Apparently these exist in some other
parts of the world but not in the USA. The idea that I need some special
stamp to make a contract seemed really weird but whatever, you gotta
do what you gotta do so I go over to the post office and buy a revenue
Next up I need to apply my company stamp to the contract. In Japan they don't
use signatures. Instead they use stamps. When I registered my Japanese
company the lawyer got and registered a stamp for me.
It makes a stamp like this (not my stamp)
I showed her my stamp and
was then told I needed a different type of stamp. The stamp I had
was a "Company Representative Stamp" but I also needed a "Company Stamp".
I'll apply the company stamp to the invoice.
Okay, off the stamp store to have them make me a company stamp. 48hrs
later I have a company stamp.
which makes a stamp like this (not my stamp)
So, now I'm preparing to stamp the contract. I put the revenue stamp
on the front and I'm told I need to stamp it with my representative stamp
half on half off. The point is to make the stamp not reusable / not removable.
I then need to stamp my name with my representative stamp at the end of the contract.
Now I need to know what to do for the 2nd copy. It takes me a while to find out
only one company needs the revenue stamp but both copies need my representative stamp
at the end.
Then I need to take the invoice and stamp that with the company stamp (the new stamp).
Okay, let's put these in an envelope and send them off ... wait! That's when
she tells me I need bookbinding tape. WHAT!? It turns out I need a special
kind of white tape that you use to bind the contract. So, it's off to the
store to buy some bookbinding tape. It's like an inch and a 1/2 wide white
tape. You put it on the edge over the contract and wrap it around to the
back so your contract becomes a small book. You then press your representative
stamp on it so it can't be removed.
Some guides even tell you you should do the same between every pair of pages.
The point is that no pages can be changed since the stamps won't align. By now
it's too late in the day to make it to the post office.
So, next day, on the way to the post office, I meet some friends for lunch
and have them look over it. They say it all looks good but I also should
really send a cover letter. I guess that's kind of common sense although
again it's a small informal project and I don't think the other side
is going to care. One of my friends at lunch though says she does this
all the time so she writes a short cover letter, we print it out
at the convenience store and finally, after several days of freaking out
I can finally send the contract off.
So there you have it. Yet another new experience learning that even
contracts are different by country and/or culture.
I listen to a few too many podcasts. One of them is Science Vs.
It seems right up my alley. I'm a believer of science. I think the show probably mostly preaches to the choir
but I still enjoy it. Wendy Zukerman sounds a lot like my sister, fun, likes dumb jokes, puns, fart noises, etc.
It sounds like we'd get along great.
There was an episode a few months ago entitled True Love.
Their own description:
What is love? With half of first time American marriages ending in divorce by the 20th anniversary, and infidelity being widespread, Science Vs asks: have we been lied to by our love songs?
On today’s episode we explore: What happens to the brain when we fall in love? Is the compulsion to stay together biological? And, is monogamy really unnatural? We talk to Dr. Helen Fisher, Professor Larry Young, and Dr. Dieter Lukas about their labors of love.
I'd probably have to listen to it again but from what I remember much of the show Wendy kept bringing up cheating vs monogamy
and it really bugged me because those are not opposites. The opposite of cheating is being honest. The opposite of monogany
is polyamory or open relationships or maybe even serial monogamy depending on your definition.
Wendy though seemed to be trying to defend cheating as normal, okay, expected. Maybe it is but then by they definition
murder is normal. Murder has always existed so therefore ... we should be okay with it? Cheating has always existed so we
should be okay with it?
The issue is cheating = dishonesty and it doesn't seem like we should value dishonesty.
If you're in a relationship you have many more options than cheating.
You can get out of the relationship for one. You can try to negociate an open relationship (not that I
expect success there). My point is your options are not limited to "I want to sleep with someone else therefore I must lie".
No, you don't have to lie. It doesn't seem like we should encourage lying.
She also never brought up the argument that
monogamy could have evolved to protect children
which might be a winning
genetic adaptation. Long term raising of children until they're adults means more sharing of knowledge which means
offspring can build on parent's experience, something no other animal I'm aware of really does. In other words
I'm saying that humans have technology that advances over time, something other animals do not or at least not to
the same extent so it's possible we're at genetically dispositioned for family units to share that learing?
I'm not saying it is this way and maybe it's been disproven but she never brought it up. She instead just assumed
that spreading your genes by having as many partners as possible is the winning strategy and never considered
her logic might be wrong in a broader scope.
And that's really my problem with the show.
I'm old (52) and when I started college back in 1983 I was given a book to read. I don't remember the name of the book but it
was about writing college papers and it said you should bring up all the counter arguments to your point and discredit
each one of them so show why your conclusion is best. I'm paraphrasing, maybe that's not quite how it put it but that's
my shortened memory of it.
Well, Wendy never does that. She picks one scientist that shares her P.O.V., presents their opinion/theory and then says
"See! Science says X!"
I wrote the show about this episode. Here's my message
Hello Gimlet and Wendy,
I love your shows and especially Science VS
The latest episode, True Love, seemed a little less researched than many though.
First of all cheating is not the opposite of monogamy. Cheating in relationship means doing something behind someone's back without their permission and/or knowledge. You promised to be with only them and then "cheated". You can also break up "I love you but we're no longer a match". You can have an open relationship. It was a little frustrating Wendy kept framing it as cheating being the only alternative.
She also never brought up the argument that monogamy could have evolved to protect children which might be a winning genetic adaptation. Long term raising of children until they're adults means more sharing of knowledge which means offspring can build on parent's experience, something no other animal I'm aware of really does. In other words I'm saying that humans have technology that advances over time, something other animals do not or at least not to the same extent so it's possible we're at genetically dispositioned for family units. I'm not saying it is this way and maybe it's been disproven but she never brought it up. She instead just assumed that spreading your genes by having as many partners as possible is the winning genetic strategy and never considered her logic might be wrong.
Here's a recent article from Scientific American on that topic
Finally what we do genetically and what we do for society are different. Genetically pretty much all animals commit murder of others of their same species. So is therefore murder something we should sanction? Personally I would say "Cheating" (as in lying to someone or breaking a promise) is something people should avoid in general as it's better for society at large. We do actually have laws against cheating in certain circumstances. We have contracts to prevent cheating in business. We have laws against insider trading, a form of cheating. Laws against lying and fraud. We don't have laws against cheating on relationships but most people would argue that cheating is still a "bad behavior" and one that we try to teach people not to do just like we teach them not to murder and steal. People of all societies have murder, stealing, even slavery has existed forever and still exists today and yet we don't just say "that's human nature, oh well"
That doesn't meant people should be monogamous. Rather it suggests rather than "cheat" they should decide what they want and then behave ethically toward others while that pursuing their wants. That can mean open relationships. It can mean serial monogamy. Whatever, but doesn't have to mean lying and cheating. Cheating is a distinct behavior, separate from having multiple partners serially or in parallel.
Hoping Wendy will do a future show with a little more balance and actual science rather than the "well, all animals and cheat therefore science says cheating is normal". Again, not a very useful conclusion since the same is true of many behaviors we consider not good for society at large.
It was sent in a frame of honestly trying to be constructive. Like the college book suggested if you don't discredit the
wrong ideas then you're only leaving me to bring up all the objections. Your program isn't really "Science Vs".
It's "Wendy's Opinion Vs.". I want to know why the other ideas are wrong.
Anyway, that would have been it and I wouldn't have given it a second thought, that is until
the latest episode.
After the main topic is over there's a conversion between Wendy and a few other podcasters talking about how they deal
with comments. I'm probaby being unchartiable here but if I was to summerize what I took away it's that if you disagree
with Wendy than you're evil. If you suggest maybe she should be a little more balanced it's coming from a place of
misogyny. That you believe because she's a woman she can't do the research herself and can't be trusted.
Now I doubt her comments were about my email specifically but I couldn't help but be massively disappointed in what I
percieved to be her attitude. Basically it appears she doesn't think like a scientist. Instead she thinks she's always
right and anyone who disagrees is a woman hater. Really? Is that really what she thinks?
I guess I just find this new world really really scary. You can't question anything or your considered an evil right wing
fox news watching gamegate racist misogynist. I've written to plenty of other programs. This American Life, Radiolab.
They never suggested because I didn't agree or because I felt they didn't present and/or discredit other ideas that therefore
I was an evil hateful person. I really want do want to know what counter ideas are wrong or less likely.
Oh well, I guess that format wasn't for me anyway. Unsubscribed.
So, I a few months ago I moved by blog from Site5 to
SiteGround. It wasn't too hard as both are basic LAMP/CPanel
ISP. The reason I moved is Site5 didn't support letsencryprt can many
sites are started to ban non-HTTPS. For example you can not include a script on JSFiddle
unless it's HTTPS. I was using scripts from my site and they stopped working because of that.
I waited nearly a year for site5 to add support (they said they were looking into it) but it
became clear they were't going to do it.
So I looked around, tried Dreamhost first but they had issues with my needs. I think they required
running my DNS or something which was out of the question. I ended up at siteground. It's setup
was also a little strange but I got things working moved 4 sites over.
Then, about 10 days ago I wrote an article that got some traffic and all of a sudden I got an
email from siteground that I was ay 75% of my service limit and that might site would be
shut down if it hit 100%. Why I didn't notice this before but that's when I found out
their limit for the plan I signed up for was only 20k hits. I have 2500 posts, many with
lots of images. I have no idea if they count every image as a hit but effectively a
few scans by seach engines and I'd hit my limit.
Just because I didn't want my site to go offline I paid them to double the limits to 40k
hits. That's when I got the message it might take 3 days before they could do it. Seriously,
you tell me you might take my site offline and when I pay you not to you tell effectively
tell me you might take it offline anyway!?!?!
They did get to it fairly quickly despite the "up to 3 days" message but they did end up taking my
site offline because instead of just upping some limit they moved my site to another server and
because they aren't doing intellgent routing that changed my IP address and took the site offline.
So, fuck that! Gees! WTF!? How do these shitty ISPs stay in business?
With that and the fact that if I manage to write a popular post they'll yank the site down
I decided to bite the bullet and try switching to a static site using something like Jekyll
and hosting on a VPS from Digital Ocean. They won't yank it down, they'll just charge
for bandwidth. Also their limits are way higher than those typical LAMP sites.
But ... converting this blog was way more work than I thought it was going to be.
I've worked on nothing else every day for about 10 days and I think I'm stil not 100% done.
First I tried using some plugin for wordpress that was supposed to export to jekyll but of
course it didn't work. In fact it was deleting stuff. I spent time setting up XAMPP and trying
to get the site to run there so I could more easily play with the exporter but something
wasn't working. I also really wasn't looking forward to working in php. I know XAMPP has worked
for me before but why it wasn't working now I have no idea. I even tried downloading their new
version that runs in a VM. I got the site over and the database imported but I couldn't
get wordpress to come up for some reason.
So, I exported the db to json and starting writing my own exporter from that to jekyll.
At some point I realized jekyll wasn't going to work for me because I have 2 blogs that share data,
something jekyll doesn't seem to handle. Jekyll was also failing in a bunch of places with
things it didn't seem to support like inline html in the middle of some markdown etc...
So, finally I decided to just use the code from webglfundamentals which was already reading markdown.
That's was mostly working but converting 20yrs of posts, writing the rules to try to automate the conversion
took quite a while. And of course each time I fix one edge case it breaks some previous edge
case. It only has to work once or just get close and I can manually fix the rest but after a week
I was about 1/2 way through. I'm pretty sure I missed some pages because I made a big change
where I tried to extract all the HTML from the markdown for some post I was having issues with
before I realized that would never work when I hit another post that showed why. So I removed
that change but I don't remember which post I originally wrote it for.
When I got it all done and fixed the 20 or so posts that looked like they needed manual
intervention I then needed to setup a webserver, setup a repo, and write scripts to make
it auto update from a git repo.
I ended up using Caddy but like all webservers the first time requires a bunch of time
learning how to get them configured with their cryptic config systems. Sometimes I think
it would be better if they just gave you a library and a lot of examples but let you
just use a normal full programming language instead of a limited and confusing config language.
I needed to get some silly redirects working. I also have a few hundred redirects from
old URLs since before I moved it to wordpress. And I had to try to get feeds working
correctly. I hope they are still working.
I started to wonder if I should just delete this blog. At this point it's more for me
than anyone else. Maybe I should use medium or something and just not care about doing
my own thing or any kind of backup etc..
I'm not sure how I'll like not having the wordpress interface. It was nice to just
be able to login, edit preview, edit preview. As I have this new site setup I can't do
that easily at the moment. There is no preview unless I have my laptop and run the build
scritps so no posting from an iPhone or iPad, not that I've ever done that. It was
simpler to log in then I think it is now.
I can use github to edit or add posts but I have no way to preview. Maybe I should setup
a preview site but that's just more work.
I also actually wanted to pay an ISP to keep the server running and up to date but
staying on wordpress meant dealing with having to manually update wordpress every
month or so which was a PITA.
My hope is that given it's a static site now there really isn't much to update so I'll
cross my fingers.
I also lost control of my comments. That probably doesn't matter but originally had my own
comment system, then I ported those comments to wordpress. Then when I got too much spam
I copied those comments to disqus but disqus magically copies the comments back into your
wordpress DB so even if they disappear or get sold and change how they work you still have
But it seems like that ship has sailed as in I should just look at comments as ephemeral.
Or who knows. If it ever comes to that maybe they'll have a way to export the comments.
Or more likely I should just let that go.
In any case the site is now static. I'm sure there are issues and there's still a few
more things I need to do but ATM it seems to be working.
I'd heard about the "Maybe we're living in a Simulation" argument before but I
had never read the details.
If I understand correctly it's basically a "follow the logic" idea.
Simulations get better all the time and as such eventually there will be universe simulators that can simulate an entire universe.
Once you can do that there lots of people will run them therefore at any one time there will be millions X more simulated people than real people
QED: Odds are we're simulated
This reminds me of the 1/2 way problem.
Before you can get somewhere you have to get 1/2 way there
Once you reach the 1/2 point you have to get to 1/2 the remaining point (in other words, go to step 1)
QED: You can never reach your destination because there's always 1/2 remaining
The logic seems to work and yet we get to our destinations all the time.
Clearly there's a flaw somewhere. I think the same is true for the "We're
living in a simulation" logic.
Here's where I think that flaw is. I think it's impossible to build a universe
simulator. Currently it takes more than 1 atom to simulate an atom. It seems
like a universe simulator would need to simulate all atoms therefore since you
can't simulate all atoms without using more than all atoms you can't make a
Now you may say, like a video game, we don't need to simulate all of it, we
only need to simulate the parts people look at. I think that's false for a
universe simulator though. Video games don't actually try to simulate the real
universe, they're fake, stories, they take huge shortcuts, they use "game"
physics, etc. A real universe simulator though can't take those short cuts.
Even if it only has to deal with observed portions of the universe those
observed portions need to match real physics. That means even if no one is
looking at someone part of this simulated universe, the moment they do look at
it the simulator would have to compute all the physics for every atom for all
of time since that part of universe was last observed until this moment so that
it looks like time has passed correctly in that part of the universe. In other
words the universal simulator can't take shortcuts like a video game. It has to
simulate every atom, at which point we're back to it an impossible task because
as pointed out above it would take more atoms to simulate atoms.
And so the flaw is clear. It's the original assumption that a universal
simulator could actually exist. It can't.
Does that mean you can't have a holodeck? No, we could have holodecks, but like
video games they'll take shortcuts. They won't simulate the entire universe.
Take a typical video game that supports foot prints or skid marks or mud
tracks, they always fade out over time, usually fairly quickly because keeping
around the tracks of the player forever is just too much to compute. The same
will be true of holodecks. They'll simulate some small portion of reality but
not every detail and plenty of those details will be temporary. That's all
great and it will be fun when we get there but it doesn't follow that from that
we'll be able to simulate entire universes and all the causality needed to make
them consistent which is what we'd need to simulate the universe we're in.
I brush and floss EVERY SINGLE DAY. I also use one of these dental pick type brushes after brushing and flossing
to get into the cracks etc. Lately I started getting pain like the time a dentist caused me so much pain I needed 600mg of Ibuprofen every 3 hrs for a month). This new pain is similar feeling but not quite as bad. It's comes and goes
but generally I get it at least once or twice a day. Yesterday it came 3 times.
If I'm lucky it goes away by itself but 5 times out of 6 I need to take
200−400mg of Ibuprofen and then 20−30 minutes later it's gone. When
it really hurts I can feel it from my temple to neck.