vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
This is a profound psychological violence here.
How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.
--"On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs", Strike! Magazine, August 17, 2013
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The best stupid pun ever.

But I don’t want to stop there. There a few deeper and more mysterious applications of this. The Lamb slain at the foundation of the world as a type of evolution.

That said, another, biologically more, philosophically less cf. colonials: more* ambitious take on the Nth Men story.
(Also he has thought out giant spiders :O :O :O||||~)

*2014-08-21 EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I think Bogleech is right. This is better in every way: humane where MAM was profoundly misanthropic, humble where F&LM was arrogant and certain, hopeful even in death where MAM and F&LM are ambivalent. This is what science fiction ought to be.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
The holy Fathers were making predictions about the last generation. They said ‘What have we ourselves done?’ One of them, the great abba Ischyrion replied, ‘We ourselves have fulfilled the commandments of God.’ The others replied, ‘And those who come after us, what will they do?’ He said, ‘They will struggle to achieve half our works.’ They said, ‘And to those who come after them, what will happen?’ He said, ‘The men of that generation will not accomplish any works at all and temptation will come upon them; and those who will be approved in that day will be greater than either us or our fathers.’

Abba Copres said, ‘blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.’
Building on this. A speculation on a buildup to the great apostasy.

tw: rape, depression, violence, body horror, middle eastern politics )

Clearly something is not being mentioned here, as it is of course much easier to paint Hell than Heaven. I must take some more time to think about this, but it is my intention that the Church is to be noticeably present throughout, if only as a very quietly hummed ison.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who had an inordinate amount of money, far more than anyone knew or could imagine, and for which he had no use. And there was a tiny island nation where he did some business, and there a great multitude ended up owing him much money, though he had no use for these debts and did not care to collect on them; and yet The System these many debtors slaved under could not forgive these debts, and though the man thought they were worthless paper this multitude could not save, or buy or sell or trade, for their debt was great and all that they earned was siphoned off by collectors who charged exorbitant fees and interest, and interest on those fees, and fees for calculating that interest, and so on, such that the man never saw any money from the multitude while the collectors grew in power.

And one day this man said, Enough! and purported to breach his contract with the collectors, and they sued him, and he filed a reply that admitted all the facts and contested none of the relief sought, and the collectors won default judgment and added him to the list of debtors. And at the first payment hearing that man agreed to pay, and received void cheques for a direct deposit; but when the payment came, the amount was so enormous that the flood of cash destroyed the entire nation's economy and sent it into chaos, and there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, and many fled in vain to the outer darkness; but the man took hold of the entire System in his hands, and ruled as a benevolent tyrant, such that any who believed and switched over to his new system should never be in debt again.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
An Orthodox Christian Exposition of Islam
Truly il miglior fabbro, compared to my shoddy attempts at conveying the comparison.

tl;dr if you take Orthodox Christianity and replace the guts with all the guts that were rejected by Orthodoxy, while keeping all the trappings of Orthodoxy that aren't directly contradictory to the newly implanted theology (e.g. icons versus wholly transcendent, never-incarnate God), you basically end up with Islam.

A good deal of Protestantism (including what I've rejected in the past) goes the same way with the same replacements, but inherits radically different trappings. If Orthodoxy is Wolfenstein and Calvinism is Doom, then Islam is Map31 - old look and feel, new engine. (The analogy breaks down, obviously, when the "new engine" is the one with less features, functions and versatility.)

(That said, it's definitely worth a read if you have any interest at all in either Christianity or Islam. Also the reference to the Christian God as Allah in the end is, intentionally or not and at least to the eyes of this Western-raised near-English-monoglot, a brilliant inversion of the technique used in the Beatles' "My Sweet Lord". [2014-07-21 Prompted to re-read b/c of this. Definitely intentional given the progression from "God/Allah" to "Allah" alone.])

It occurs to me that one of the big rebuttals to the Protestant argument about the "fall of the church" also applies here: how did two movements so removed from each other in space, culture and time end up with such similar, independently arrived at conclusions, unless there was some kind of truth to it? But the analogy stops there: the "fall of the church" usually is in reference to preceived additions - Trinity, icons, liturgical tradition - but what we're looking at here is deletion in a sincere attempt to fit everything into a rational, logical order.

- The Trinity contradicts itself and borders on polytheism, so let's remove it. It is beneath God to come down to Earth as one of us human scum. (In Islam from the start; eventually you get more unitarian groups from the Protestant tradition)
- This old verse says no graven images, so let's get rid of all images.
- We need to standardize everything, so let's make "The Book" binding (no pun intended) so that everyone's reading the exact same law-reduced-to-writing and everything not in that book is treated as hearsay and optional, unreliable apocrypha.
- The wrathful, vengeful God of the Hebrews looks all wussied up in the New Testament, so that is clearly a later deviation. Let's go back to being sinners in the hands of an angry God.
- If God is all that is good, then things are only good because God wills it to be good. Therefore, any "moral compass" we may have in our hearts is only a temptation and a passion.
- The last 3 points, if taken without a deep underlying faith in the starting assumption of a loving God, strongly imply that we need to be as harsh and unforgiving as possible, to be maximally true to God's divine image. (cf. Westboro; Taliban every sharia jurisdiction that isn't actively trying to soften its image for some material or political gain/survival)

(also new tag for Christianity-related posts)
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[2014-05-16 EDIT]Well that was spectacularly dumb of me. $1k/mo for everyone in Canada is thirty-plus billion a month not year. That said, if we took all our fossil fuel subsidies and gave it all to the poorest 25% of the population, that actually does net roughly $1k for every man, woman and child every month.

As a thought experiment as to what might conceivably work around here.

Every man, woman and child gets $1000/mo, non-taxable.
No questions asked. No rules about how to spend it.
You don't get it if and while you're in jail.
This is on top of our current health care system, but should replace many other tax breaks and support and industry subsidies and whatnot.
It is an opt-in system and you must apply for the payment each calendar month. You may apply on behalf of an incompetent dependant, or some other person who lives with you OR is a family member and has previously signed their consent in person.
Right to each payment expires after the end of the given month.
Must do this personally, with exceptions for armed forces and diplomats and similar.
Everyone must have 1 morning off from work per month to do this. A person who causes a missed payment will be fined triple the amount.
25% non-refundable income tax credit for payments unclaimed, which can be transferred to a family member or a corporation of which one is a shareholder, but you must claim the credit for the year of the missed payment.

This is $30 billion in payments before admin costs (and tax breaks).
Compare for baseline. How much lower can we go?

As a very rough budget:
Rent (or $1000 CAD
Food: assume $30 daily budget for each person. 30x30=$900
(But if you can cook, that's closer to $600.)
Electricity: $100
That's $2000 right there. Add another $100 for telecommunications and "other".
If a typical household has 3 individuals, that's $700.
Total cost is $21 billion.
Allowing cooking, that's $18 billion.
Hopefully any unit so shitty that it doesn't have a stove will go for less than $1000 per month.

Possible horrible exploits:
- keep people locked up and take their money.
(this kind of fraud happens for other things too.)
- pop out lots and lots of kids.
(presumably our laws against parental neglect still apply.)
- impersonate someone.
(admin can keep better records. obviously vouching must be allowed.)
- use the money for...
(this is a feature not a bug.)
- government-side: misuse those records.
(how much worse is this than income tax?)
- force people to stick together.
($1800/mo to every single person is simply not going to happen. Limiting it to per household would create the opposite incentive which is far more perverse.)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
A perspective, for those of us who have long looked from outside and been baffled:
For non-Roman Catholics, it is almost impossible to comprehend the attachment a Catholic has for the Papacy and our reaction was highly defensive. In the past, when we came across serious works of history which contradicted the Roman Catholic position, we were skeptical and if we found that the author was Protestant, or the book came from a Protestant publishing house, it was given scant attention and if it contradicted a dogmatic belief it was dismissed immediately. Only Roman Catholic historians have a pure line to objectivity, especially when it concerns articles of faith. This is what Catholics are taught and it is this belief that will keep their faith inviolate. This teaching is best exemplified by Pope Leo XIII in his celebrated Letter to the Prelates and Clergy of France (September 8th, 1899). While encouraging them to the study of history he reminds Those who study it must never lose sight of the fact that it contains a collection of dogmatic facts, which impose themselves upon our faith, and which nobody is ever permitted to call in doubt. Cardinal Manning of England is even more blunt, The appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be divine. 10 At another time Cardinal Manning wrote, The appeal from the living voice of the Church to any tribunal whatsoever, human history included, is an act of private judgment and a treason because that living voice is supreme; and to appeal from that supreme voice is also a heresy because that voice by divine assistance is infallible.

An important treatise on how to make friends and influence people.
The distinction between customs and crimes has special relevance to female genital cutting (FGC), also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), the preferred term of advocates. For several years now, the age-old practice of “purifying” girls by excising some portion of their external genitalia has been a serious concern of NGOs, the United Nations and some governments around the world. Laws have been passed against FGC, and messaging campaigns have sought to educate the public about its many ill effects. But these efforts have not eradicated the custom. On the contrary, they have tended to further entrench it, because traditionally minded people concerned about external threats to their corporate identity do not like having alien elites meddle with what is sacred to them.

What has worked is an unusual NGO called Tostan, which means “breakthrough” in Wolof, the predominant language of Senegal. Tostan began in a few rural Senegalese villages in 1991, and now runs additional adult education programs in Djibouti, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Somalia and Gambia. Tostan was not founded for the purpose of ending FGC, but rather as a way to provide “informal education” to a population ill served by the formal schooling provided by most African governments. That schooling is authoritarian in spirit, based on rote learning and focused on preparing a small elite for university entrance exams.

Based in the villages, the Tostan program is rigorous. Students (called “participants”) are required to attend three classes each week for three years. Teachers (called “facilitators”) must be from same ethnic group as the participants. The method is to use local folk crafts and storytelling to impart practical information about agricultural methods, health and hygiene, and the management of money. When the participants graduate, they are numerate, literate in their own language, and eager to use their new skills to tackle old problems. Today, Tostan is best known for its extraordinary success in ending FGC. To date, the organization has been instrumental in the decision of 6,778 communities in eight African countries to abandon the practice. But as noted earlier, this was not Tostan’s original purpose, and the organization did not achieve it by staging mediagenic events or shouting from a public rostrum.


[Tostan founder Molly] Melching first encountered FGC in 1975 while visiting eastern Mauritania with a friend who had grown up in a small village there. During that visit, she met a local doctor who confided to her that he opposed “the tradition” but could not change the minds of his wife and mother, both of whom were intent upon cutting his daughter. Thus did Melching, after only one year in Africa, gain a sense of how hard it is to change a deeply ingrained custom. If a girl’s own father cannot keep her from being cut, what chance does an outsider have?
They did this not by degrading their former shaman based faith but by showing them that Christianity was the fulfillment of that faith.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
This grew from a passing thought that the Potterverse would make a lot more worldbuilding sense if Gryffindor and Slytherin were actually one and the same house. Added a side helping of a bit of an RPG thing that sprang up in my head on Friday.

Setting fluff )

Classes and mechanics, for explanatory value only )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
We Don't Go There At Night
Rules & Guidelines:
  1. The story text should be the only text in your comic.
  2. Use the text any way you like.
  3. Your comic can be as long or as short as you choose, in any medium, on any subject.
  4. Your comic must be spooky.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang
We don’t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.
A thing that needs to be read. Fiction, if I recall.

Eating indigenously changes diets and lives of Native Americans
History and health came together one dark November evening for Marty Reinhardt at Northern Michigan University.

Reinhardt, a professor in the Native American Studies program, was helping to serve up fry bread, Indian tacos and other offerings at the annual First Nations Food Taster, a fund-raising event for the Native American Student Association, when he had an epiphany: “Would my ancestors even recognize this as food?”

Much has changed between Reinhardt and his ancestors. Indians have long since been removed to reservations, and diets based on seasonal hunting, fishing, gathering and gardening have been replaced by government-supplied commodity foods. Indians have suffered a crisis in diet-related obesity and health issues.

These disparate threads converged that evening in the Lake Superior port city of Marquette, Mich., as Reinhardt, of Anishinaabe Ojibway heritage, turned his question inside out, “I wondered if I could eat what my ancestors ate.”

The spark of curiosity soon evolved into a formal, university-sanctioned research study, the Decolonizing Diet Project — a year-long challenge to eat only foods that were in the Great Lakes region before 1602. The initial food challenge ended in March but the research into indigenous diet continues.
I remember during one of those days on campus in September where various clubs had their stands and one of them was the First Nations Law club and they were giving out free fry bread. I remember quietly politely accepting, but being less than impressed in the end and wondering what had been lost. The memory of that flavour is vivid, as is my post-dinner memory of my mother's very Chinese, very good cooking, and it is that contrast that makes me pay so much greater attention to this article.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
And [personal profile] helarxe breaks his long silence with of all things.

Incidentally, on notes of such monstrosities, while I've spent the week demanding in vain a proof of the apostolic succession, whatever line of thinking got an outspoken adherent to this kind of insight from someone who is not immediately in that situation himself is to be presumed not to be all that egregiously founded on falsehood.

Incidentally, on what to be when grown up.

While contemplating the theology of the Passion versus the assumptions of patriarchal privilege, an idea for a horrible, equally possibly blasphemous and important depiction occurred to me. Here is some discussion about that. The real discussion is actually in the comments and the article itself can be skipped if you read those.
(Ultimately the idea was decided against, as there was no way to ensure a non-prurient motive)

"Taking this into account, the authors revise the family tree of jawed vertebrates, showing that there is a serious possibility that the modern bony visage originated with E. primordialis’s ancestors. This would mean that humans look more like the last common ancestor of living jawed vertebrates than we thought, and that sharks are less primitive than palaeontologists assumed, having done away with their bones as an adaptation."

That's some strong pale fire right there. tl;dr Jane Chance gives the L.R. the same sort of postmodern, use-the-book-it-shouldn't-use-you-who-is-the-master, death-of-the-author "analysis" that I was taught in high school and undergrad. I bought into that sort of stuff hook line and sinker back then, managed to get As without reading more than 1/4 of any of the books (if even that).

For entertainment's sake, a more liberal (mostly in the sense of "liberally applied") evisceration here (although this writer misses the whole problem with the other book).

Stop the presses, I'm getting off.

All that the malice and atheism of the Dragon, the cruelty and rapacity of the Beast, and the fraud and deceit of the false Prophet can generate, or accomplish, swell the the list. No personal or national interest of man has been uninvaded; no impious sentiment or action has been spared...Shall we, my brethren, become partakers of these sins? Shall we introduce them into our government, our schools, our families? Shall our sons become the disciples of Voltaire, and the dragoons of Marat; or our daughters, the concubines of the Illuminati?

In a word, yes.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (g)
Motivations for changes
The problem is the continuing arms race between the sides as the law and technology develop. Cases are huge and sprawling precisely because the system allows it, with no corresponding qualitative improvement in the results.

Further, the current system looks increasingly like a case of the blind tying up the astigmatic and kicking them over a precipice and calling it leading, an uninformed attempt to micromanage what was intended to be a self-regulating system. I've noticed in my own practice that the formalism and delays lead to a significant amount of posturing, bullying, evasion and generally lawless behaviour to try to force a settlement when neither side wants to be dragged through the process of getting an actual adjudication.

Discard the perfectionism and trust each party to get their own case as good as they can.

Focus is on getting one's case ready for trial, subject to a brief opportunity to formally canvass settlement possibilities.

Keep the onus on the plaintiff to prove its case.

Very limited discovery of opposing side's documents. A party should not be forced to aid the other side in proving its case.

Relatively draconian time limits intended to keep things moving. (NB: Our statute of limitations has a default of 2 years from the discovery of the claim, to a maximum of 15 years from the act or omission.)

No oral examination for discovery. Impeachment by prior inconsistent statement can be done the old fashioned way.

Left undefined: chambers and requisition procedure; costs consequences of offers. These can be left for the court to fill in, or the current systems can be used (however uncomfortably).

Overriding rule
Subject to these rules and the applicable law, the court has unfettered discretion and inherent jurisdiction to make any order or direction and conduct any hearing in any manner it sees fit, with the aim of ensuring as just and speedy a resolution of a matter on the merits as the circumstances allow.

Read more... )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Imagine there were people on another planet very close by. The planet is about our size, has water, generally livable (unless we caught some awful disease or couldn't eat the food or something), and orbiting far, far away from a very bright pair of stars in a busy cluster.

We'd never see it with our telescopes.

We probably would not be visible to them either - they would see Sol, Jupiter, Proxima Centauri, the Oort Cloud, any stars between us and them, maybe they might infer there are other gas giants in this system. They might even make a mistake about the scale and think there could not be any small rocky planets in between because they'd get pulled apart by gravity or something - and thereby stop looking.

First contact would require that we already be capable of interstellar travel, just to get close enough to notice anything like what we'd be looking for. But why develop interstellar travel if we know of no destination? This very moment we are living the brutal unravelment of the naive notion that scientific advancement and technological mastery of the universe are self-evidently good things that will be pursued and promoted as such. There must be economic impetus to drive us to the stars.

An interstellar story must start with that impetus.

What could it be?
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Before everything else, if you read nothing else in this post, take a mental health break. It will break your mental health in all the best ways.

Riotous Eater of Flesh

A carnivorous tribal warrior-race from ______, a sweltering, ecologically volatile forest/ocean planet revolving around a yellow giant deep in the Orion Arm. Naturally resistant to damage and poisons, they have no claws or venoms of their own but rely entirely on things fashioned from available materials or forcibly extracted from other beings. Most of their brain matter is optimized towards problems of food, weapons and territorial displays, with a small non-reproductive caste dedicated to inquiries not directly related thereto. Capable of some limited hivemind-swarming, partially coordinated through their otherwise primitive displays.

Their homeworld rotates on an unusal axial tilt that is just enough to create significant climate differences on the surface while preventing any part of it from being permanently frozen over the year; it is speculated that their natural aggressiveness created a need to rapidly spread out across their world and adapt to its numerous varied climates and sources of nutrients. Their legends say that the planet has been subject to several mass extinctions in the past, apparently the last one perpetuated by these creatures themselves.


The reverse furry's face would lack the muscles and coordination necessary to form human expressions, and its eyes would have almost no visible whites.


Two dichotomies have been on my mind about what realities exist for us:
  • Transcendental, Institutional Real, Arbitrary

  • Personal, Impersonal

By transcendental real I mean like a rock: no matter what you say, it - or at least the underlying matter constituting it - is still there. (And if what you say is "You with the jackhammer, break this rock and clear our path", the resulting multitude of rocks and dust remains.) There is underneath the surface perception that, if known, becomes a connection to a greater world beyond our subjective interpretation.

By institutional arbitrary I mean the fact that we would call a certain composition a rock and not a pebble, gravel, lava or dust.

Generally, to say it without making an authorial value judgment, people will prefer the personal over the impersonal.

I would rather not imagine a society of people who would categorically value the institutional arbitrary over the transcendental real, rather than valuing the latter as the important one and the former as a necessary evil to be tolerated. A predominantly urbanized, industrialized subculture with an economy where the biggest commodity is information can get very close to such a thing.

The world of the rationalist is transcendental real and impersonal. The personal is relegated to a separate universe, a multitude of isolated wills that observe and act upon a mechanical, passive it that constitutes our (however grudgingly) shared environment.

The world of the ancients, with their gods and ancestors and karma and appeasements, is personal and institutional arbitrary: it's all about who you know, and the what eventually follows.

The core of Christian belief, immediately beneath the Resurrection, is of a transcendental [let's keep "transcendental" here for what follows] personal Reality that is the only true and self-sufficient one over all the others.

Following a childish, Manichean logic, h Hell would then be on the opposite corner: institutional arbitrary and impersonal, a fungible anonymity in which love is literally nonsensical (not merely dismissed as irrational for being against self-interest) in which everything is dictated by arbitrary merely institutional, unaccountable systems of deeming and pretence that are real only in the injustice and suffering they create. A modern, comprehensive bureaucratic state is often invoked as an example, though there are less immediately brutal implementations.

A frequent apparent contradiction, that God made "the world" good but "the world" is also a sordid mess ruled by Satan for the malefit of all, is resolved when the references are understood to mean two distinct worlds on opposite corners of this simple grid.

Following a more traditional distinction, t The remaining two corners aren't that lovely either.

Anyway, here's a thing about how guns work:

[2015-11-11: Made some long-overdue changes to the terminology names. (Short words beat long ones.) Mostly motivated by Fr. Stephen going along similar lines.]
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
I've always wondered about that smell!

It's a fascinating simulation though I'm still convinced the land-crawlers look exactly like my mental image of the things crawling out of Abhoth in "The Seven Geases":

Some followup thoughts to these musings follow.

Better that the post be cut, than the tradition of cutting it. )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
I hope one day you will
forgive me.

The Swarm is a vast, complex, self-correcting set of algorithms executed over the network that takes everyone's opinion on something and crunches it all together into a (usually, hopefully) unified whole that represents the democratic voice.

When people consult the Swarm, they access the network and enter 2 or more questions, each question written by one of the parties immediately involved in the discussion and the order of which is shuffled and the sequences randomly distributed among the viewers. All cameras watching the persons involved relay the last few minutes of footage along with the question, or if the parties are communicating over the network, the last 3000 words of the discussion. A 15-minute break is called and everyone available is expected to comment anonymously to the Swarm; if enough commenters request more time, more time is granted, but still giving a preliminary first-impression opinion is considered "polite" (as far as that concept may apply to faceless network commenting). It is also safe, as requests for more time are seldom granted, or more accurately seldom ultimately requested.

Anyone with the hardware to run it can install a new Swarm. Many specialized communities have a Swarm that only takes information from people in that group, or from that group plus whatever it could mine from other similar groups. Some people can even install an ad hoc Swarm to settle a discussion between 2 people, but the result is usually less than satisfactory (or comprehensible).

Some corporate lobbyists have been trying to get a clampdown on "free" Swarms for years, insisting that such practices be regulated to approved professional providers such as their client entertainment and security firms, but the vast proliferation of Swarms both general and specialized has been such a useful data collection source for marketing and government surveillance that these efforts are generally allowed to be crushed by grassroots opposition (many of whom express their grievances through the lobbying firms' own Swarms).

(Who programs the Swarm? Best not to think too hard on that.)

In other news, the following thought just went through my mind while checking the dominant spelling of a word: "Google was quite happy to give me those results." (emphasis on "those")

In further news, a depressingly conservative futurism, in all senses of both words. )

Still nothing motivating a dramatic, fundamental change, while yet even this cannot possibly last forever.
I may revisit this later on.
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
(these thoughts occurred to me after reading this post.)

People will follow this rule implicitly whenever the randomizers involves more than numbers: it may be a table with a hard list of possible outcomes, or a random name generator that prevents an unsyllabifiable mishmash of consonants and multiple consecutive apostrophes, or a random map generator that avoids spawning actors inside walls.

Three generally recognized sets of things that fall outside of desirable outcome range: absurdity, whiff factor and loss of agency.

Read more... )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
Eating In-Vitro: Meat, the Expectations
The Next Nature Lab is currently developing new visions on the production methods, designs and eating habits that might emerge around in-vitro meat. These speculative* designs vary from knitted meat, protein powder fondue and luxurious meat fruit, to kitchen based bio-reactors and colorful magic meatballs for the kids.
*(except the "actually eating" sense, I'm afraid.)
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Of course the project described here is doomed. Any language you could devise, each and every not-immediately-interested-in-this-exact-language member of the public is going to take one look at it and go, "Why? What makes this any bit better than English/Chinese/Arabic/French/whatever language I personally consider to be the unmarked ordinary mode of communication?" and stop caring. Similar goes for writing systems - the Roman alphabet is reasonably consistent for most European languages, but with so many people speaking the major outliers English and Chinese (no one who hasn't specifically studied it gets Pinyin right, ever, even though after studying it I found it perfectly straightforward) and I'm sure plenty of others who would much rather write in Cyrillic or Arabic or Hebrew or Chinese (in before traditional versus simplified). Trying to assert a Roman alphabet as unmarkedly universal would (rightly) be seen as a colonialist affront.

Also, IPA. (notwithstanding my last point)

This does bring up, and it's the only reason I'm even posting this, some speculation as to just what the ideal common language ought to look like. Obviously this is going to be strongly coloured with my own personal political and epistemological biases, and would be "universal" given only a tiny universe that, if expanded, would only expand through decades of conflict and long-term viral meme attacks.

Except with respect to gender, I've tried to avoid the usual pitfalls of starting with forms first, "they have no word for x hence they don't and can't think of x", and any notion that universally adopting this thing would have any relation to peace other than the startling and unprecedented fact that all the nations of the world went and did something together. My aim is my own biased idea of what features combined together may be more efficient than any current world language alone.

blah blah blah )

And now linkdumpery that's been sitting in notes.txt far too long.
And the reason the anti-bullying movement isn’t effective is that it’s engaged in a futile attempt to get rid of human nature — while acting like a bully itself.

“Some of the nastiest people are anti-bully activists ... and they feel completely justified being nasty,” Kalman said in an interview from Staten Island in New York.
I'll offer another reason: The vast majority of us haven't the slightest clue what standing up to bullying even looks like.

We have never experienced the imminent risk of being identified with the victim and being subject to the same treatment.

We have never experienced that moment when you're caught up in whatever our friends are doing and have bought into it as the perpetrator before we've had the chance to think about what's going on.

We have never experienced the extreme social awkwardness of backing out, being that one asshole who ruins it for everyone else.

Or we have, and literally have no concept of what to do except succumb to it every time.

I really like this redesign of Supergirl. Most likely because of the callback to this...

A study of what the "average" porn star is really like.

Related. Really, it doesn't matter what I could have posted with this, it's related.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Mental health break: here's a picture of Pocahontas as Captain America.

And a gentle reminder.

(I remember when I was your age. We had internet, but it had to be fed through these lines - they were like the cable we have now, but a much thinner, more primitive wire that originally could only transmit a few electrical pulses at a time. They were so narrow you couldn't call on one machine and browse the internet on another - you could only pick one thing you wanted to do. Back then, when you were browsing the web, you could pick up the phone and hear the internet flowing through it...)

Related. If the right to decentralized, accessible telecommunications technology should replace the Second Amendment tomorrow, and were then pursued with the same fervour, only good will result (for the next 19 years anyway).

And one more from that blog, tl;dr Mario was the original Congratulations, You Have Died.

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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