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Topics - Cramulus

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1
Techmology and Scientism / Plant Watering Reminder Gadget
« on: June 07, 2016, 04:39:01 pm »


The plants in my apartment kept dying, mainly because my girlfriend and I kept assuming the other one had watered them. So I invented a little gadget that tells us when the plants need to be watered. It’s super simple.

The gadget has 3 buttons and 3 LEDs. Each pair is linked to one of the plants in my apartment.

It’s only a timer, it doesn’t detect soil moisture or anything crazy like that. When a light turns on, it signifies that one of the plants needs to be watered. When somebody waters it, we’ll press the button, and it’ll reset the counter.

This fun little gadget only cost about $20 to make. It was a lot of fun to build!

2
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Laws, Social Media, and the Panopticon
« on: June 07, 2016, 04:04:33 pm »
One of the interesting things Junkenstein touched on in the Laws thread is the the intersection of law enforcement and surveillance.

The current incarnation of the justice system is based on some ideas that were kicking around the post-monarchial world and went through the wash a few times until they came out clean enough to sell. Namely the Panopticon.

The idea is that bad people will keep doing bad things when the authority isn't looking- so you should put prisoners in a place where they can be observed. Maybe it's that their prison cell faces a 1-way mirror and there might be a guard on the other side who gives them a demerit if they don't act right. Or maybe it's because they're picking up trash by the side of the road and they are constantly feeling the judgment of the public.

But the effect of observation is that it forces the person - the target of the discipline - to internalize a set of rules. They have to behave in a certain way to avoid reprimand, and eventually they internalize these rules. That's how you affect somebody's spirit, you make them build the laws inside of them, going through the motions with their body. Even if they're faking it, still thinking criminal thoughts, eventually this will be eroded by routine and discipline.

And that's how we built schools, prisons, the military...

And now we're in the social media era, everything can be uploaded, commented on, upvoted and downvoted.

There was a twitter account that this guy started on a subway in NYC, it was just supposed to document people who were taking up too much space, or doing asshole things that aren't appropriate for the subway. He wanted to shame people. And it turned into this really acrid account where he was just picking on people for the way they were dressed, etc. And eventually, the backlash came to him - somebody figured out who he was, and got his pictures up on Twitter. Then, anybody who saw him in public would take a pic and tweet it at that account. He used his phone camera as a weapon, and discovered it was a double-edged sword.

What rules are being enforced by the social media panopticon?

The terms of the transaction are: you trade some your privacy for access and community.

Years ago, I thought the way to deal with this was twofold:

1. Maintain the ability to disappear completely. At any time you should be able to kill your account and escape from whatever storm is chasing you. To do this successfully, you should avoid using your real name on the net. You should keep personal details obscured, and don't leave any channels open that you can't later close.

2. Chaff. Cover your social media with false cues and information. This way, anybody datamining you will get confused and the value of any given data will come under question.


Are those still good strategies?

My real name is on FB, it's easy to track me down... it's a bit harder to figure out my real name from here, so maybe the ability to disappear completely is more contingent on (a) how well you've compartmentalized, and (b) how motivated people are to connect the dots.

If I publish Chaff, it kind of gets in the way of the point of using social media to begin with.

and as I think about the steps you have to take to escape an angry wasps nest, I think to myself... what rules do I have to follow to avoid provoking the wasps to begin with? what rules has this panopticon made me internalize?  What rough edges have I actually sanded off, not just concealed? Has the presence of this social power refined me like a crucible, or restricted me like a warden supervising a chain gang?



3
Literate Chaotic / Danse Russe
« on: May 09, 2016, 08:46:25 pm »
William Carlos Williams, "Danse Russe"

If I when my wife is sleeping
 and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,--

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

4
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / The Case Against Reality
« on: April 27, 2016, 06:53:38 pm »
http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/the-illusion-of-reality/479559/

This article manages hit some of our favorite check marks:

  [ x ] Inviting a barstool
  [ x ] Because Quantum

but it's still a good read.

Hoffman, a professor of Cognitive Science, asserts that we are not evolved to see "reality" - natural selection has developed sensory and cognitive apparatus suited for fitness and reproduction, not truth.

 

Quote
Gefter: People often use Darwinian evolution as an argument that our perceptions accurately reflect reality. They say, “Obviously we must be latching onto reality in some way because otherwise we would have been wiped out a long time ago. If I think I’m seeing a palm tree but it’s really a tiger, I’m in trouble.”

Hoffman: Right. The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions—mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.

Talking about what reality "really is" turns out to be a bit of a loop.  He says that according to physics, there is no "public physical objects". Ultimately the article posits that reality is subjective - I think he's claiming that our conscious experience is a type of reality, not merely an interpretation of it.



5
Beyond the wall / Mother, Mother Ocean
« on: April 26, 2016, 02:45:28 pm »
Join me on a 5-minute trip into the Twilight Zone. From the “High Weirdness”  file, I present to you

“Mother, Mother Ocean”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwwyCW10i7Q

This news clip from 2007 documents the mind-warping tale of a cthulhu-esque sea monster which attacked a woman in Rhode Island. It is simultaneously a hoax and a clumsy cover-up by the alien creatures which control our world.

Here are my favorite moments:

0:30 - This otherwordly entity, disguised as a human named Sean Daly, isn’t put together too well. I don’t know what it really is, but its not a human. There’s something *off* about him and I can’t put my finger on it.

He leads into the article with the perfect Lovecraftian hook: “Imagine swimming *mindlessly* in the late afternoon sun.” Swimming mindlessly.



1:12 - This woman’s acting is better than anybody else in the video

2:02 - a brief closeup of the couple’s hands, interlocked. This is meant to show us the tattoo on the webbing between his thumb and index finger. You guys seeing this? What is it? A scorpion? I think it looks like one of Lovecraft’s “Old ones” -



2:10 - The woman’s fiance is identified as Dennis, even though at 1:59 she called him Danny. Anyway, Dennis describes how he pulled his fiance away from the monster. In this thick Rhode Island accent he goes “So I grabbed it by the ass, uh, ‘rear end’…” <3

2:22 - “Rachel, swim, don’t turn around no matter what you heah”.

2:41 - Dennis describes the monster as having a head 'like a basketball’ - second time that verbiage is used. Dennis punches that thing right in the face. What a bad ass.

3:20 - A mysterious twist. The monster was attracted to the extremely high quantity of *blood* in the water. A mysterious guy named Joey Malo said he bled nonstop for over an hour. When the cameras show him, he’s wearing a hat, turned to face away from the camera, his face obscured. We never find out why he was bleeding, but apparently there was so much blood he’s still cleaning it off 3 days later.

4:00 -  I love the hand motions Dennis is making to describe the creature’s movement.

4:15 - Dennis describes the existential horror he’s faced since the monster attack: “I been goin to bed with things grabbin me, wrappin around my neck, choking, fightin’ underground, everything” - I just want to highlight 'fighting underground’ cause it’s just such a weird phrase.

4:30 - Pod person disguised as a human Sean Daly comes back to the studio and assures us that reality is okay, nothing is wrong. Consume, obey. Scientists say it must have been a tropical fish! This has the veneer of some Man in Black coming on the news and saying “There’s no such thing as UFOs… that was just … swamp gas.”



4:37 - Sean’s non-sequitur closing line, “Mother, mother ocean.” He says it reverently, almost like a prayer.

What is he? What was this? What the fuck did I just watch? This whole episode is very unsettling. We are floating on the surface of the water above a vast abyss, ignorant of its depths.

6
Beyond the wall / Political Memes/Cartoons you Disagree With
« on: March 29, 2016, 05:36:10 pm »
I don't know about you guys, but I'm probably living in an information bubble. My facebook and tumblr feed are filled with progressive memes which make a silly caricature out of the conservatives and libertarians.

The other day, a libertarian friend* popped the bubble by posting a riff on the "Jesus is a socialist" meme...



*this guy is a small-gov libertarian who is employed by the TSA... wrap your head around that one








It made me curious to see some conservative/libertarian image-memes or political cartoons which are caricatures of great left-wing stuff I agree with.

What can you find?

7
Beyond the wall / Unlimited Fedora Appreciation Thread
« on: June 26, 2014, 02:19:15 pm »


For some reason, my Net obsession of the week is fedora wearing MRA neckbeard atheist types. Can somebody explain how the fedora somehow became this perfect symbol of like ten different kinds of shitbag?








Bronies and Fedoras are like macaroni and cheese



oops, or Trilbys, whatever






















fun fact

BY THE WAY,
You know this guy?


[knowyourmeme link]


that's the grown up Pugsley Addams! (Jerry Messing)










8
Principia Discussion / Historia Discordia
« on: June 17, 2014, 07:51:15 pm »


I just picked up Adam Gorightly's latest book, the Historia Discordia. It's cool! It's basically a catalog of vintage Erisian stuff that was gathering dust in Bob Newport's basement, including a ton of original Discordian correspondences and tracts. Tons of lost writings by Mal-2. Great coffee table book for the Discordian archivist or researcher.

I've enjoyed tracing the evolution of a lot of the concepts in the PD. For example, there's that line in the PD about how Discordians don't have dogma, they have catma. And it turns out there's a whole little sermon about it that wasn't included in the PD and to my knowledge isn't on the net anywhere. There are a lot of 1st edition PD pages which were revised several times before the 5th edition we're familiar with. A lot of the jokes and 1-liners from the PD are referencing other Discordian documents which have been lost, until now.

For those of us interested in the genealogy of this whackadoo contraption, this is really satisfying. It gives a sense about what the first Discordian communities were like, and who the key players were. (something I've always been curious about) It's also pretty cool to see the early much rougher drafts of some of the texts we're familiar with.

Definitely recommend this for the archivists, collectors, and insane hoarders that get stuck in Eris' orbit.



[amazon link]

9
Principia Discussion / Why I Am Not an Anarchist, by Greg Hill
« on: May 20, 2014, 12:08:23 pm »
Greg Hill and Robert Shea frequently exchanged letters... this is an article Mal-2 wrote for Shea's zine, NO GOVERNOR.

from http://historiadiscordia.com/ ...













transcript:

Greg Hill: Why I Am Not An Anarchist for Robert Shea’s No Governor, June 1975, Page 00001.
Courtesy the Discordian Archives.

About five years ago I considered myself an anarchist (anarchopacifist, in particular), because I believe that the highest authority available to any individual is one’s own honest experience and that any other authority provides only vicarious information at Most Unexceptional.

I’ve not changed my opinion about this, but I have ceased referring to myself as an anarchist. The reason is basic and simple: TOO MANY DAMN RULES.
OK, it’s a joke. But it’s a TRUE JOKE. The incompatibility is not between my position and some anarchist theories, but between my position and the position of most of those who use the label “anarchist.”

It seems that Rule Number One of anarchy, as understood by authoritarians and by most who call themselves anarchists, is that a government is an enemy. Rule Number Two is that to gain freedom the individual is politically or morally or somehow obligated to fight this enemy.

In my opinion, these rules represent a position which would be better referred to as anti-archy. The prefix “a” means “without” and it need not imply “against.” There is an exact parallel with the word atheist—it is usually used and understood, by those for it and against it, as thought eh word was anti-theist.

I can respect the anti-archist position, but I don’t share it. The government is not my enemy because there is no government. OK, another joke, but still a TRUE joke. I know good and well that there are people with guns who restrict my free decisions, and I know about groups of people collecting taxes from me, and all of the rest of this government business. I perceive it in the same manner that I perceive (for example) a big rock in my path which necessitates stepping around and compromising myself. Frankly, I don’t believe in rocks either—I just step around and compromise (which is actually easier than is believing in them). I think that there is a big difference in degree between (a) existentially responding to a phenomenon and (b) conceptualizing it as an “enemy.” If everything in the universe that has ever thwarted my purpose is my enemy, then only nothing can be my friend—and that excludes even myself. But, still, I respect the anti-archist position. After all, if one does perceive aphenomenon to be an enemy then one would be a damn fool to do other than defend ones’ self.

Much of this essay is futzing around with labels. Still, I feel free to futz, and in any case what I’m trying to do is to avoid the assumption by others that I am at war with certain people just because those people think that they are a government and go out of their way to forcibly impose their notions on me.

I’m not at war with them or with them or rocks either. And insofar as anyone thinks that an anarchist is one who is supposed to believe something or another, or is obligated to do something or another, then there are too damn many rules for me and to hell with the whole business.

10
Aneristic Illusions / Five liberal tendencies that plagued Occupy
« on: May 16, 2014, 12:55:37 pm »
I don't know anything about the parent website, but I thought this article was an interesting read. Would be curious to hear others reactions.

http://roarmag.org/2014/05/occupy-resisting-liberal-tendencies/


a sample

Quote
In Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 there were a lot of people who thought that if we could just articulate the Occupy idea to enough people they would just have to come around to it because of its sheer righteousness. But although the Occupy idea was broadcast far and wide, it was not enough on its own in the absence of strong and sustained connections with concrete struggles. Many liberals argue that all we need to do is come up the right ideas to “fix the world,” but felled-forests-worth of visionary thought has been published for some time. We don’t need another idea; we need the power to make it happen.

Although social media and 24-hour cable news rapidly accelerated the dissemination of Occupy across the country and around the world, it catapulted OWS into the spotlight before it had accomplished the organizing that needs to happen initially in order to develop the capacity to be able to incorporate thousands of new people. We were constantly playing catch-up and before we knew it the meteoric rise of OWS was followed by a correspondingly precipitous plunge once social media and cable news moved onto the next big thing.

In that way, OWS was like the pop sensation “Gangnam Style” by Korean singer Psy. For a brief window of time “everyone” sang the song and did the dance (often with an ironic detachment) just as they flooded parks and squares so they could tell their grandkids that they too had “Occupied.” But anyone who was caught blasting “Gangnam Style” (or organizing an Occupy event) a few months after it went out of style was considered hopelessly passé. Therefore, one of our most pressing questions is how to build a solid social movement that can withstand the inevitable social media hangover.

11
RPG Ghetto / Larp Toy: Laser Detector
« on: May 07, 2014, 09:03:22 pm »
Here's my latest invention: https://plus.google.com/photos/yourphotos?hl=en_US&pid=6010135988551778338&oid=103726414447614453893

In this weekend's adventure, players will have to use mirrors to reflect a laser through a foggy room, hit a target on the painting.

When the painting is charged up enough, part of it will glow.

When the red light on the painting is glowing, players can touch the painting to get one attack that can actually affect the hideous monsters or boss in the room with them.

12
There's a game coming out called Watchdogs, which is about being a 21st century hacker. Kind of a modern day assassins creed.

To promote the game, they launched this website called Digital Shadow. If you go there, it asks for all your Facebook data. If you are trusting enough to give it to them (I was. As a rule I never share that data but ehhhh okay fine just this once), it will generate all these interesting charts about you. It creates a profile which lists what words you typically use, what time of the day you're online, profession and income level, which people in your social network can be used to exploit you (based on your interaction frequency), and what time of day/week you're most likely to be using facebook (and are therefore more vulnerable to attack). The more data you've given facebook, the more complete its profile is.

It was fun, a bit scary, but ultimately I was relieved that my privacy settings and general good practices online left big holes in their data.

here's an article about it:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/watch-dogs-facebook-privacy-settings_n_5191237.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

here's a chart it generated of my language use vs Roger's.

(my name shopped out, obviously)


and here's the site
http://digitalshadow.com/shadow.php


Anyway, I thought you guys might be amused by this. If only for that chart of Roger's language usage.

13
Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Discipline
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:06:23 pm »
Foucault's Discipline & Punish may be the most important book I've read in years.

In it, Foucault discusses the transition between the sovereign mode of power and what replaced it. He takes us from the public torture and execution to the modern prison. He documents in meticulous detail how the new "modality of power" manifested itself through several institutions: the prison, the military, the hospital, the asylum, and the school. Foucault documents how new methods of control quickly spread from one institution to the others, in the ultimate service of creating a "disciplined society".

The thesis of Discipline & Punish, put briefly, is something like this: We did not abandon the old ways because they were cruel. We abandoned them because they were ineffective. The new modality of power which followed the French Revolution is much more subtle and pervasive. We help operate it. Power is no longer held by a singular sovereign who can be overthrown, it's been distributed in a way to disguise its locus. Modern power does not manifest itself in a way that can be resisted. It's pervasive in that it fills every interaction we have, it expresses itself through what Foucault calls a "microphysics of power". We're the ones observing each other and applying the pressure of normalization.

Just to illustrate the above (dense) paragraph -- let's look at the Jury. It used to be that "justice" flowed from some noble, then it was handed to judges because nobles kept getting decapitated by the families of the "guilty". Then it was handed to a "jury of peers", so that people would feel like they were responsible for a lawful society. It's not that a "jury of peers" is inherently good at ruling on matters of justice - it's there so that you believe the verdict came from your peers and not the state.  You can't lynch a jury. And if you did, it wouldn't change anything.

And that is a microcosm of how power is distributed and maintained. Nobody really holds any power, but what little they have is a tool to reenforce a greater structure of power. Look at Occupy Wall st - there was a public acknowledgment that the bankers are cutthroat bastards who have been systemically screwing us. So what now? Do we lynch the bankers? It would make no difference. The bankers hold no power. They would just be replaced by more bankers who are beholden to the same power structure and would therefore pull the exact same shit. If you talk about changing the banks, the people you're talking to will tell you all the reasons we need banks and the current institutions and hierarchies need to be maintained.

The executioner's face is no longer hidden - Vader's mask came off and Luke's face is staring back at him.




One of the main concepts in Foucault's description of power is discipline. There is this idea of the "disciplined society".

Code: [Select]
dis·ci·pline
noun \ˈdi-sə-plən\

: control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior

: a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders

: behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders

The goal of disciplining a soldier is to turn him into an extension of the officer's will. Just as a soldier's gun should be a part of him, something he can control as effortlessly as his own limbs, a soldier is a similar instrument to his leader. And that leader is an instrument to another leader, and so forth up the hierarchy.

The goal of a disciplined society is that the lowest tiers are in harmony with the values of the upper tiers. Prison, mental health, education -- the goals of these institutions are to produce docile subjects who are extensions of the current power structures.

At some level, that's all that "homework" is, right? A way of getting the child to internalize the values of the institution while he's not actually there? It takes discipline to do your homework. And we tell students---this is preparation for the workplace. We are turning you into parts of a machine which produces ... itself.



I'm really just scratching the surface here, there's a lot in this book worth discussing. But what's been on my mind recently is this idea of Discipline, and how we individuals should relate to it. (individuation in the context of power, btw, also worth talking about, but let's save that for another time)

On one level, being disciplined is worthwhile. There are a lot of rewards for being able to focus and get shit done, being respectful of the hierarchy, being able to internalize a set of rules, etc. I don't think you can really get anywhere in western civilization without discipline.

But on another level, being disciplined is dangerous. It means you're under control, an object of power. If you're not disciplined, you're more skeptical and critical about the Mission Statement, the War, the Hegemony.

Sometimes I'm sitting in some corporate training and I just want to excuse myself and never come back. I can't help but think about the power and personal control I give up for that paycheck and 401K. We've all gotta do it. Which makes me wonder, was I doing myself a disservice by reading all this Foucault? Is being undisciplined something I should actually strive for? Am I just confusing myself and making myself less effective at my job by brewing up all this cynicism and criticism? To what degree am I served by being an iconoclast? Isn't it better to be focused on acquiring more power?

15
Beyond the wall / The Experience of Being Trolled (video)
« on: January 23, 2014, 03:10:24 pm »


I am a big fan of this youtube channel called IdeaChannel. It's a weekly 10 minute show which mulls over pop culture topics and gives a new spin on them. It's usually pretty interesting, and was recently picked up by PBS, which gave it a nice shot in the production quality.

I wanted to share a video posted this week about our favorite past time, internet trolling. I want to say -- this is not the best first taste of IdeaChannel, (because I don't exactly agree with a bunch of the conclusions in this particular video), but it is at the very least thought provoking. It's also nice to see somebody talk about Internet trolling in a bit more depth than the typical "Trolls are just bullies with inferiority complexes" explanation.

Without further ado, The Experience of Being Trolled



I have my own opinions but I'll wait until some people have seen the vid before I weigh in.

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