For several years now I’ve been trying to put my worldview to paper. Every attempt has been thwarted by the yawning chasm between the way I see things and the common philosophy which dominates public discussion. I broadly subscribe to the SL3+ vision of the future, and tend to think of policy in the terms used by authors like Tyler Cowen and Scott Alexander. Mainstream politicians do not represent me in the slightest, and I usually just end up voting for the Democrats because they at least pretend to care about renewable energy and gaping societal wounds like the American healthcare system. So when I heard about Andrew Yang’s open support for a Universal Basic Income, I was intrigued. I admittedly wrote him off as a no-chance marginal candidate, and for a long time didn’t pay him any mind. He did get a couple bucks from me so he could get into the debates, because I figured it would be entertaining to have him there. What finally got my sustained attention was the slow proliferation of Yang 2020 memes in pretty much every online youth hangout I happen to have membership in. It reminded me of a certain other candidate in 2016, who had been written off as a no-chance joke by every right minded person in the country. Donald Trump is of course still lording his victory over the insanity-challenged.Read More..
A few months ago Sarah Constantin posted an interesting thread to twitter about trauma. In it she cites psychology research claiming that deep trauma is linked to the loss of three major beliefs:Read More..
First Man is the sort of film that is destined to produce tons of fans and plenty of haters. A dramatic retelling of Neil Armstrong’s journey to become first man on the moon, several things inevitably conspire to create controversy. It’s a film saddled with the curse of covering its subject matter in a way that many people neither expect nor want to see it handled. To make matters worse it’s a film about iconic American history produced in the midst of a bitter culture war in the United States. Here the mutual fist-shaking focuses on the production decision not to show Neil Armstrong plant the American flag on the lunar surface. No less than Trump himself has weighed in on this issue, promising he won’t see the movie because of the omission. The real Buzz Aldrin took to Twitter to mock the directors, tweeting a picture of the flag planting with the appropriate political hashtags. I can’t exactly say I’m in a position to argue with Buzz Aldrin, but I am disappointed by the whole thing.Read More..
Marginal Revolution recently did a post on CNBC’s The Profit. The Profit is a reality TV show where the host, experienced managerial talent Marcus Lemonis, buys into a struggling small business and uses his management expertise to bring it back into profitability. Out of curiosity I decided to watch a few episodes myself on YouTube. Of the full length episodes available on CNBC’s channel, the one featuring Mr. Cory’s Cookies really stood out to me. In many ways this episode is the perfect representation of the series core themes. Cory’s Cookies is being run by Cory, who is 13 and wants to be a big businessman when he grows up, and his mother Lisa who is by her own admission an uneducated person learned of little but the school of hard knocks. The overall thrust of the episode is that Marcus invests $100,000 into the company, and then builds the family business a real supply chain. The entire episode is fascinating, and I really think that it’s worth your time to give it a watch. However this post is not a review of the episode itself, but rather an exploration of something interesting that’s highlighted within it.Read More..
In this tutorial we’ll be installing the Tiny Tiny RSS feed reader. I’ll also walk you through some of the cooler features of Tiny Tiny RSS that I don’t feel are entirely explained well in its official documentation. To start, you’ll need a computer with:Read More..
In my post Tumblrism: The Injustice League I conclude by telling the reader they’re “not a bad person for finding the strength to start telling people no”. A reader might nod along with this and then ask “But say no to what?”. Part of what I meant is perhaps best illustrated by a story that comes to us from the Buddhist tradition. In it a monk collects money to publish the Sutras, a religious text. Each time he gets enough money, a natural disaster occurs and he gives up the funds to save others from disease or starvation. Since it’s an old koan the story is both short and public domain so I’ll quote it in its entirety below:Read More..
Many people are vaguely aware that the word ‘hacker’ did not always refer to a computer burgler. Once you begin to ask about the details however things start to break down. When did it go from being computer tricksterism to computer trespass? I never seem to get the same answer twice. Some cite Steven Levy’s Hackers as having ruined the term by popularizing it for a generation of teenage punks. More informed respondents tell me that the 411 Gang corrupted ‘hacker’ through their antics. In my own research, one incredible primary source I keep coming back to is a bulletin board that existed circa 1980 called 8BBS. 8BBS was an open forum that ended up being primarily used by phreakers to discuss the art of phone and computer intrusion. Having been used as one of the major primary sources in Katie Hefner’s Cyberpunk it seems like I’d hear about it more often.Read More..
In Stop Waiting To Put Your Stone In I described a method of personal development where you focus on competently executing progressively larger projects instead of jumping into the deep end. A lot of people read this advice and say “Well that’s great JD but, where do I find these small projects to tackle?”. Indeed for most people the idea of starting anywhere is daunting, there are so many possibilities and so few of the things that immediately come to mind are anywhere near your level of skill and commitment. Help stop global warming? It’s hard to know where to even begin with that. Round up clothes for the local charity store? It’s something but you know you can do better. This post is about how.Read More..
Getting people fired from their jobs over politics is far from a new tactic. However, the recent surge in this behavior enabled by the Internet has created an environment where expressing even ordinary political opinions in public has become increasingly dangerous. It used to be that ordinary people had no easy ability to reach a lot of people at once with their ideas. Mass publishing, television, radio, and other mediums required capital to make use of. Even a mimeograph required effort and money to distribute leaflets.Read More..
Epistemic Status: A hypothesis, but a hypothesis that seems moderately supported by evidence.Read More..
Usernames and passwords are the most egregious violation of “don’t make me think” left on the modern web. This might sound like an extreme statement, but when you think it over it’s really just obvious. On basically every website that handles accounts you have the same bottleneck at sign up, you have to think really hard twice to come up with a good name and then a good password. It’s such a pain point that there are entire applications whose purpose is to manage it like KeePass and 1Password. People keep trying to solve it with centralized identity schemes and weird hardware, or even just plain bizarre amalgamations of grab bag authentication methods. It essentially constitutes a UX tax on every web service, that for the service to survive it must generate enough value to pay.Read More..
One of the distinguishing features of the red tribe is its paranoia that sympathy will be exploited to make the world worse. There’s no shortage of illustrative examples: Giving money to the homeless is an exercise in futility, they’ll just buy drugs and alcohol. Being nice to your children when they misbehave does a disservice, they’ll learn that misbehavior is an acceptable way to express themselves. If you give mercy to criminals they’ll just victimize someone else once they’re let off. The red tribe believes in something like a no free lunch theorem of morality: All mercy given results in injustice somewhere else. As a result you should punish immediately and harshly so that at least the universe directs consequences where they ought to go.Read More..
The question things come down to for ambitious young people with few connections and fewer resources is “What’s the cheapest, fastest interesting thing I can do?”. It’s not how to make the most money, avenues for making lots of money aren’t available to those who don’t already have some. It’s not necessarily about the most important thing, the really long term important things in life probably haven’t even been figured out by a young person yet. Even if they have, it takes resources to get there that generally aren’t available for youth. It’s about the cheapest, most immediate concrete contribution that proves someone is capable of doing something.Read More..
“No theory, no ready-made system, no book that has ever been written will save the world. I cleave to no system. I am a true seeker.” - Mikhail BakuninRead More..
My second monitor has been broken since I installed it. It’s one of those nagging little issues you convince yourself doesn’t matter but significantly hobbles your productivity. I just fixed it after finally investing the time to figure it out. Any time I have an issue that takes research effort to fix with my system (rare these days, but it happens) I like to write down a tutorial for others.Read More..
After the massive push to brand heretical outlets ‘fake news’ following Donald Trump’s election, I figured it would be the latest left-wing witch hunt. Such a witch hunt would let us avoid confronting the serious questions about why Democrats lost this election season. I thought that this outlook was pessimistic but likely to be correct. However the wildfire takeoff of ‘fake’ and related terms like ‘debunk’ in the new zeitgeist humbled me. I clearly had not been nearly pessimistic enough. Black and white thinking obviously isn’t new, but it feels like it’s been massively accelerated since the start of 2017.Read More..
This is an essay I wrote for a college class. While I don’t usually post my college essays this particular one is an incarnation of a thing which I had been trying to write for a while.Read More..
The following is adapted from a post I made on an online forum in reply to someone using the phrase ‘virtue signaling’ in the painful way that has become common recently which strips it of meaning. I decided to delete that post on second thought since reading their words more closely the use was defensible and it’s not kind to call somebody out in public like that. However what I wrote is something I would like to be able to link people to in the future so I’m putting it here.Read More..
Right now I’m writing a post on the etymology of the word ‘hacker’, and it’s taking a lot longer than I’d like it to. I think this information is important enough that I don’t want to wait to have something polished to put all of it out there, so here are the highlights of that post so far along with a collection of interesting resources I’ve found on the subject.Read More..
As the bus pulled in, you wouldn't have even known there was a Trump rally. Cars on the main street of Everett were sparse enough for us to weave past and into town. There were no signs and no advertising for the event, all the work in that department had been done by the local news which announced Trump's arrival far in advance. Decorating the town to draw in a crowd would have been redundant. The first real world evidence of existence was when the bus driver kicked us all off early.Read More..
Unix v7, released for the PDP-11 line of minicomputers in 1979 is one of computings classics. Just a year before The C Programming Language had been released in its first edition by Bell Labs. In this release is the first appearance of pcc, the Portable C Compiler which began C's ascendancy as the de facto systems language in use today. This is the same year that Bill Joy stepped down as lead developer of vi. Many of the programs you use on a daily basis can trace their ancestry here.Read More..
The software versions we will be using for this tutorial are:
Steel Bank Common Lisp (SBCL) - 1.3.0
Quicklisp - "2015-01-28"
Hunchentoot - 1.2.34
caveman2 - 2.4.0Read More..
In 2014 I wrote a post about building a library from the pile of disorganized books at my high school. In it I went over how the books were indexed by setting up a ‘scanning’ station consisting of myself and a camera. I also discussed how the books were indexed by ISBN number using a 3rd party service, and how to check the validity of ISBN numbers entered by hand or a bar code scanner. I included scripts to do these things, but left out the critical portion of what to do with the data once you have it. This is a followup post to correct this omission and finish what I started.Read More..
I was introduced to Issac Asimov’s Foundation series in the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years of High School. Certain books are so widely agreed to be excellent that you’ll have heard of them long before you read them, at least vaguely. Foundation was in this category for me, and what compelled me to read it over anything else I might have done at that time was it’s immediate availability in my local school library. However, it would be a misnomer to say I ‘checked out’ the book, as this library has no check out system, no tracking, and no index of what books are available.Read More..