Author Archive

“If we start right out by asking ‘What is bias?,’ it comes at the question in the wrong order. As the proverb goes, ‘There are forty kinds of lunacy but only one kind of common sense.’ The truth is a narrow target, a small region of configuration space to hit. ‘She loves me, she loves me not’ may be a binary question, but E = mc^2 is a tiny dot in the space of all equations, like a winning lottery ticket in the space of all lottery tickets. Error is not an exceptional condition; it is success that is a priori so improbable that it requires an explanation.” – Eliezer Yudkowski, Rationality from AI to Zombies

“This can be the bitter end / I know it won’t”

God damned if this isn’t just a perfect gem of a song. One of those SSPU songs that makes it seem like they were created in a lab just to appeal to me. And here, stripped so far down that you start to see bone beneath its normally fuzzy, fleshy exterior.

Truly a thing of pure joy.

“What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me – into us – clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can’t any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone’s sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we’ll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.”

A sign of a good New Year’s Eve party

Belltown Onions

If any of you lost your bag of onions on New Year’s Eve, it was last seen lying on a sidewalk in Belltown, surrounded by bewildered drunk people.

Dan Carlin on the Great Filter

Fermi Paradox from versa on Vimeo.

“And those grand halls of correction, well I think that they’re here to stay”

Frank Black is a god damned national treasure.

“We are all we have tonight”

“Oh the dreamers may die, but the dream lives on”

Man, no one does over-the-top, magisterial prog metal quite like Iron Maiden. First album in five years, sixteenth studio album, and it features an 18-minute-long epic about a doomed steampunk airship. It’d be a joke if it weren’t so damned well done.

“An elegant memorial”

Leaving our umbrella behind, we picked up the switch panel and marched to the end of the dead-end bridge that jutted out into the water. The reservoir had been created by damming a river: its banks followed an unnatural curve, the water lapping halfway up the mountainside. The color of the water suggested an eerie depth. Falling drops made fine ripples on the surface.

One of the twins took the switch panel from the paper bag and handed it to me. In the rain it looked ever more pathetic than usual.

“Now say a prayer,” one of the twins said.

“A prayer?” I cried in surprise.

“It’s a funeral. There’s got to be a prayer.”

“But I’m not ready,” I said. “I don’t know any prayers by heart.”

“Any old prayer is all right,” one said.

“It’s just a formality,” added the other.

I stood there, soaked from head to toenails, searching for something appropriate to say. The twins’ eyes traveled back and forth between the switch panel and me. They were obviously worried.

“The obligation of philosophy,” I began, quoting Kant, “is to dispel all illusions borne of misunderstanding. . . . Rest in peace, ye switch panel, at the bottom of this reservoir.”

“Now throw it in.”

“Huh?”

“The switch panel!”

I drew my right arm all the way back and hurled the switch panel at a forth-five-degree angle into the air as hard as I could. It described a perfect arc as it flew through the rain, landing with a splash on the water’s surface. The ripples spread slowly until they reached out feet.

“What a beautiful prayer!”

Did you make it up yourself?”

“You bet,” I said.

The three of us huddled together like dripping dogs, looking out over the reservoir.

“How deep is it?” one asked.

“Really, really deep,” I answered.

“Do you think there are fish?” asked the other.

“Ponds always have fish.”

Seen from a distance, the three of us must have looked like an elegant memorial.

I just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Wind/Pinball. It’s an English translation of his first two (very short) novels. It’s mostly of interest to existing Murakami fans. Along with its prologue, it serves as a sort of super-hero-like origin story for his writing. If you’re not already a fan, you’re much better off picking up a copy of his short stories or his 1Q84 trilogy. Murakami clearly isn’t Murakami yet here, but you can still find masterfully rendered scenes like the one above. It’s clear that the seeds of his gorgeously weird characters were present from the start, but it’s equally clear that he needed a few decades of practice to render them with the required clarity.

Highly recommended for people who already buy into Murakami’s style of weird, sparse, ambiguously plotted adventures of beautiful monsters. For everyone else, probably better to start elsewhere in his work.

“…the mighty roar of the robot guns.”

The Protomen covering Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” as only they can.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.