The Roark–Quirrell Effect

Education increases altruism up to a point (as you increasingly understand that other people are real too and have moral value for the same reasons you do even if you don't experience it from the first person), until you accumulate so many seemingly unique insights that the entire rest of the world looks so abominably stupid that you no longer want to waste a single precious dollar or minute on the concerns of these creatures that can't even see the Really Obvious Thing.

(Or, maybe this is just a form of mental illness specific to high-psychoticism males that can be cured with the appropriate drugs. We'll find out!)

The World By Gaslight

In the oneiric methodlessness of my nightmare, I am a lieutenant commander posted to the Glomar Explorer; I am pacing the deck while opining that taking the correct, minority position in a scientific controversy necessarily feels just like early-onset dementia (which I can't help but notice makes a perfect pairing with a late-onset case of the other d------ia word).

Something is wrong with the ship's computer. Before I can figure out whether it has to do with HTTP Strict Transport Security or the Accelerated Graphics Port (it has to be one or the other), we sink, and I drown.

Is There Affirmative Action for Incompetent Crossplay?

So I was at San Francisco Comic Con the other day. I don't think I find conventions themselves to be as fun as a lot of other people seem to (I didn't even last all of Saturday at BABSCon 'fourteen and 'fifteen before getting ponied out and BARTing home, and didn't even bother attending this year), but I had never cosplayed before, and had been thinking lately that I have exactly the right body type to play Pearl from Obnoxious Bad Decision Chil—I mean, Steven Universe, on account of being my being tall, thin, white, and having a big nose. (She's even pretty flat-chested!) So I ordered the Pearl dress from Hot Topic (I maybe should've gotten the XXXL instead of merely the XXL), a pink (really should be more peach, but close enough) wig, yellow gym shorts, and pink socks; improvised a gem from medical tape and the bowl of a plastic spoon; and set off Saturday morning to catch the train to the city and a short walk to the San Francisco Marriot Marquis.

The con itself was about what you'd expect, with the usual events and the usual vendor hall. The part that I found striking (enough so that I'm bothering to blog about it) was just how many compliments and photo requests I got for my costume, wholly disproportionate to its actual quality. (I enjoyed the opportunity to ham it up, proclaiming "We are the Crystal Gems!" or singing a few bars from the extended theme during photo ops.) Since this was my first time cosplaying, I don't have calibration, so it's quite possible that I got the ordinary amount of positive attention given costume quality and character popularity, but I suspect that there was something more than that going on having to do with gendered cultural expectations.

Femininity in males is stigmatized more than masculinity in females; that's why I changed in the bathroom at the con rather than wear a dress on the train, and why I don't feel like including any photos in this post despite having shared them on Facebook (visibility settings: "Custom: Friends; Except: Family") and sent them in for the next Beach City Bugle cosplay compilation post. So incompetent MtF crossdressing is "loud" relative to men playing male characters, women playing anyone, and the competent crossdressers (who were clockable on the timescale of ten seconds, but didn't instantly read as "man in a dress" the way I did), and loud things that would be stigmatized in everyday life (probably even everyday life in the Bay Area) are celebrated at Comic Con. Thus, "man Pearl is best Pearl," as I was told by a young woman (who was cosplaying a male character), even after I insistently pointed out that the other Pearl was way better than me.

Prescription

"Maybe my real problem is that I take myself too seriously—from my perspective, that other people don't take themselves seriously enough. Like I'm off in my corner going mad, unable to comprehend why, why doesn't the world understand that words mean things. But when you actually talk to people, their anticipations of experience are all just about as well-calibrated as mine; they're just really bizarrely cavalier about using words to mean whatever they feel like at the moment."

"So basically you're going mad over ... prescriptivism."

"I know, usually I'm not the type to get into linguistic prescriptivism debates, but I guess I had assumed that those were always about obscure things, like when to use comprised instead of composed. I wasn't expecting people to redefine a top-20 noun out from under my feet."

"And yet!"

Ineffective Deconversion Pitch

Growing up in an ostensibly reform-Jewish household that didn't even take that seriously, atheism was easy for me, so I don't know how hard deconversion is, how much it hurts, or how much of one's entire conception of self is trashed in the process and can't be recovered.

As an atheist, it's tempting to say, "Look, it's not that bad: God doesn't exist exist, but you can still go to church and praise God and stuff if you want; it's just that there are benefits to being honest about what you're actually doing and why."

Somehow, I suspect that this is not a very convincing sell.

Applications to other topics are—as always—left as an exercise to the reader.

Quotations V

MINUETTE: So, uh, what are you studying these days?
MOON DANCER: Science, magic, history, economics, pottery. Things like that.
MINUETTE: Yowza! You planning on being a professor or something?
MOON DANCER: No.
MINUETTE: So you're just ... studying!
MOON DANCER: Can I go now?

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Amending Fences"

However, this corresponds to a general pattern of causal relationships: observations on a common consequence of two independent causes tend to render those causes dependent, because information about one of the causes tends to make the other more or less likely, given that the consequence has occurred. This pattern is known as selection bias or Berkson's paradox in the statistical literature (Berkson 1946) and as the explaining away effect in artificial intelligence (Kim and Pearl 1983). For example, if the admission criteria to a certain graduate school call for either high grades as an undergraduate or special musical talents, then these two attributes will be found to be correlated (negatively) in the student population of that school, even if these attributes are uncorrelated in the population at large. Indeed, students with low grades are likely to be exceptionally gifted in music, which explains their admission to the graduate school.

—Judea Pearl, Causality

"It would be nice if implementation languages provided extensible string-indexable arrays as a built in type constructor, but with the exception of awk, Perl, and a few others, they don't. There are several ways to implement such a mechanism.

Modern Compiler Design by Dick Grune, Henri E. Bal, Ceriel J. H. Jacobs, and Koen G. Langendoen (2000)

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Apostasy

I should have listened to my model of Aaron Burr, I think in the oneiric methodlessness of my nightmare as the first bullet enters my back. It's not fair that everyone else gets to have all the fun in what they erroneously believe to be their post–involuntary-gender utopia, whereas I'm stuck being that guy pointing out all the cracks in the papier-mâché sky. I never wanted to be—here I hesitate for a moment wondering whether to use an indefinite or the definite article—the guy. No one does. (A second bullet enters my abdomen. A beam of radiation whitens a simple plough.) Why should I be punished for not being delusional about the reason?

Type Theory

We never know what people are actually thinking; all we can do is make inferences from their behavior, including inferences about the inferences they're making.

Sometimes someone makes an expression or a comment that seems to carry an overtone of contempt; I know your type, it seems to say, and I disapprove. And there's a distinct pain in being on the receiving end of this, wanting to reply to the implication, but expecting to lack the shared context needed for the reply to begin to make sense—

"Yes, but I don't think you've adequately taken into account that I know that you know my type, that I know your type, that we can respect each other even if we are different types of creatures optimizing different things, and that I know that this is all relative to my inert, irrelevant sense of what I think you should adequately take into account, which I know that you may have no reason to care about."

"What Can I Do For You?"

"I think we should set aside some time to discuss how I could provide more value to you."

"That's an awfully disingenuous way of proposing a negotiation; you're not that altruistic."

"The function of speech is to convey meaning to the listener. I speak of providing more value to you because that's all you should care about; if it happens that the means by which we arrange that I do so involves you providing more value to me, well, that's as irrelevant as it is obvious."

Identity

"You don't get to decide what I am! ... for the same reason that I don't get to decide what I am! 'What I am' is an empirical question to be settled by evidence and reasoning, the answer to which I can exert some limited control over in proportion to the strength of the self-modification techniques I have at my disposal!"

Concerns

"I'm concerned about the socially-undesirable implications of a model described by this causal graph."

(studying it) "Have you considered that these arrows might point in the socially-desirable direction instead?"

(with exasperation, as if realizing he is doomed to have this conversation dozens of times with everyone who is not a Dark Rationalist corrupted by cruel apprehension of patterns that innocents were not meant to see) "Yes, I have considered that! I consider it extremely implausible!"

0x1f431 CAT FACE

diff --git a/.bash_aliases b/.bash_aliases
index 648287f..e00dbc9 100644
--- a/.bash_aliases
+++ b/.bash_aliases
@@ -34,6 +34,9 @@ alias gre="env | grep"
 alias grps="ps aux | grep"
 alias grports="netstat -tulpn | grep"
 
+# cat
+alias 🐱="cat"
+
 # Vagrant
 alias v="vagrant"

Vingean Principle

"I miss you."

"I suspect you miss the idea of me."

"That was an entirely unexpected and yet hauntingly plausible response, which I take as evidence that I miss the real you; my mere idea of you can't do unexpected and plausible at the same time."

Worlds Collide

In the future, instead of the endless runaround war of "I'm offended!" and "I'm offended that you're offended!", our children's children's children will just write down their utility functions and use an off-the-shelf algorithm to merge them and compute the exact, correct tensor of offendedness under the unified consensus social norms.

Missing Books II

A roman à clef about a very religious teenager who gradually figures out that God isn't real around ages 20 and 21, spends the next eight years feeling OK about this, then one day suddenly realizes that God not being real implies that prayers don't work, and freaks the fuck out. His friends (who grew up in the same community but don't share his incredible lack of native talent for hypocrisy) are unsympathetic. "You really thought that would work?" "Yes!" "But didn't you notice that—" (sobbing) "I didn't!"