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Idea Logging

Generally this is one idea per paragraph, although not always. See also: TechnicalIdeaLogging.

Power hides itself from the powerful.

"A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason, and the real reason." - J.P. Morgan


EvolutionaryStability - Surely can't be understood to correspond to quality in software. But it's a more important consideration for that very reason. What should we see in Windows and Unix - home to the two great, countervailing models of software longevity in our age - that yields stability?

What if I seriously used this terrible piece of software?

It's one thing to model a social mechanism in software, and entirely another to model a social relationship.

If simpler is better, then what exactly do we mean by "simpler"? Is Scheme a better syntax than Perl?

Is it simpler to have one button or two? 14 buttons or 104?


The ability to go small is the ability to go big.

The culture of business in America believes in its own hard-headed pragmatism and claims that it is results-oriented. Why, then, is said culture almost perfectly incompatible with any serious intellectual undertaking?


I'm starting to wonder if a basic precondition for success isn't just the willingness & ability to start over again and again.

in the case of chemistry / the map is not the territory / in the case of subjective experience / the territory is not well mapped.

MLK: "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice". This seems to express a faith I don't actually share, but it's beautiful language.

If we want to argue that collective action works, it gets a lot harder to argue that markets don't. (But how, and for whom?)

Seeing patterns where they aren't (Strange Maps):

In its most general definition, this experience of seeing patterns in random data is called apophenia - a term that also covers the phenomenon of ‘false positives’ in statistics, for example.

A more specific type of apophenia, appliccable here, would be pareidolia: perceiving significance in stimuli that have none. This perceived significance is usually more revealing of the perceiver than of the stimuli,which is why this principle is used in Rorschach (i.e. inkblot) testing. It also might explain why it’s often the devout that see images of Jesus on a piece of toast.

pareidolia, apophenia

StaffordBeer: The purpose of a system is what it does.

Wikipedia: Man, fuck this whole notion of "notability".

Basically, I am already ridiculous.

Trust itself is in some sense a mechanical system. But then so is sex or eating or musical improvisation. What's my point?

The problem with modeling concepts like trust in a mechanical system is that the mechanism inevitably supplants or corrupts the thing it is intended to model. (Is this bullshit? It is at least unsubtle...)

There probably is some fine technical distinction between "bullshit" and "horseshit".

Spam today: "Global Markets Meltdown - Bernanke Blames Paris & Britney For Bearing Their Vaginas"

Basically, weed makes you ridiculous.

Means become ends while you're not even looking.

"Are associative theories of learning the Viet Nam of cognitive science?"

Humans are not optimized for this much cargo.

"fuck a woodpile if he thought there was a snake in it"

belief in any kind of decency / surely not the least of these

WilliamHazlitt: "I am not for criticizing hedge-rows and black cattle."

Methods matter in almost everything. Yet many once-vital art forms now suffer almost immeasurably from a preoccupation with technique while diminishing in content. Is there a contradiction in this? Maybe, but maybe it's also true that most of the time methods should not appear as primary, that art should not be first perceived as contingent.

Writing (like programming, music, and the erotic relationship) is not something that can be sustained in the marginal spaces of your life.

Good taste in software - as in literature, women, and food - is no guarantee of competence.

"Happy as a dog with two dicks."

People who use the word "moonbat" earnestly are, pretty much without exception, idiots or pandering to same.

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said "remember who you wanted to be?", and I thought about it, and no, I don't. At least not since I was twelve and wanted to be RobertHeinlein.

I suspect that most things are essentially accidental.

Never ascribe to torment that which can be adequately explained by boredom. (But: "Boredom is a form of pain.")

"The official directives needn't be explicit to be well understood: Do not let too much empathy move in unauthorized directions." - NormanSolomon

Via pnh, FrederickDouglass:

"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."

is any of this / what any of us wanted?

Evolutionary processes operate not so much by trial and error, as in design, but by error itself - they are the accumulation of the results of deviation from the usual outcomes of processes back into those processes. Or something like that. On the other hand, design is, itself, clearly an evolutionary process of sorts.

The tragedy that falls out of the side effects of biological evolution is basically identical with the tragedy that Christianity has for a very long time understood as man's fallen nature.

Elizabeth's dad: The organization is the evil.

what it was / and what it is


Graphs vs. hierarchies? (Graphs which are not strictly trees?)

"We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code." -- DaveClark

All systems do a kind of violence to the world.

There is no new BobDylan.

George Monbiot - Some stuff I want to read here. I suspect he's right, in the broad outlines, about Feeding Cars, Not People; which resonates well with my uneasiness about ethanol (from corn, a big deal in these parts - in Nebraska, gas with ethanol is cheaper, as I understand it, because it's subsidized).

Read somewhere that you can arrive at any tree-shape by applying the right transformation to one of a few basic shapes.

Things are only fragile 'til they break. From a DovetailJoint song, I think.

Are we all diminishing?

In the middle of a stack of printed emails and paperwork, a scribbled note: PeterAbelardAndHeloise.

Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport. -- Robert S. Wieder, journalist

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -- TheodoreRoosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)

I refused to explain what the hell was so damned funny. I became unsure. My feet and hands evolved into flippers and I returned to the sea.


Should anyone be famous at all?

The world is full of slack masquerading as production and necessity masquerading as slack.

"A collectivity against a collectivity will always fail."

The copy-person is infinitely more important to the functioning of a given organization than you are. For secretaries, even more so. Secretaries rule the world.

"It's a dog's breakfast."

Number pages in a series, datestamp the hell out of everything paper. Metadata is key.

"Substitute damn every time you're inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." - MarkTwain

"The restitution of things to their real place and meaning is an eminently subversive fact..." -- FernandoSolanas and OctavioGetino

"At a certain point one ceases to defend a certain view of history; one must defend history itself." -- E. P. Thompson

Here's a thought I just had: You could probably write a thesis or a dissertation on the impact of colonialism, ManifestDestiny, the American idea of TheFrontier, etc. on GoldenAgeScienceFiction. Suppose someone's done it?

Can any strict hierarchy be represented as a list?

I fucking hate NoveltyChristmasSongs. Except maybe for that instrumental album with the digitized frog & owl noises.

What if things enter language as nouns when they're least-known and proceed gradually to become verbs? (Or: What if I decided it was a good idea to record something that occurred to me as profound just after an enormous toke?)

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last edited June 17, 2012