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Messages - Cramulus

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We are not islands - we're barely even individuals.

You are also your lover, you are your whole family, your community, your species. When something gets hurt, the hurt doesn't stay isolated, it affects the system.

The exact spot where you end and I begin is like an optical illusion - its not actually there, but context clues make it appear to be. When somebody close to you dies, a part of you died too.

This is what the libertarian ideology misses. It presents the self as a castle surrounded by high walls - not a dynamic, sprawling city. Not a net of jewels that reflect each other.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: The Case Against Reality
« on: April 27, 2016, 06:53:04 pm »
yeah I don't think this is NEW info to any of us, but I still think it's interesting to think about... that natural selection of sensory/cognitive apparatus has only tuned us into the features of the universe that are important to our fitness/reproduction.

We've talked a lot here about how perception is impoverished - that we don't see 'reality' but a 'rendering' of it. But it's hard to explain HOW and WHY. The classic argument is that natural selection has made our perception of reality more "high definition" over time.

Bees can see ultraviolet because flowers have UV patterns, etc. Our ancestors got no advantage from seeing UV, so when we talk about what color something "is", UV isn't part of the discussion.

again, nothing terribly mind blowing here after having swung around a few barstools  :p - what caught my attention was that I had never heard the "you can't trust your senses" argument framed by natural selection.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / The Case Against Reality
« on: April 27, 2016, 05:53:38 pm »

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.


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.

Could it be possible for a free agent to reason that their capacity to act independently is inextricably interrelated to the free agency of others? Can my rational self-interest be extensive enough to include the effect it has on others?

Yeah, it's simple: don't conflate the self and the ego.

The true self is bigger than that little old thing.

So--definitely a pod person or Man in Black, right? In my reading, he's employed by the alien reptar invaders to do PR cover for their weird fuckups and reality breaches.

Environmental Progress:

In summary, it sounds like you're saying (and please correct me if I'm missing it - I don't want to put words in your mouth) that we just need big corporations to come up with innovative ways to go green which are cheaper than the traditional ways. And that we shouldn't be coercing corporations into "going green", we need them to do it on their own.

I mean, yeah, that all sounds good, but how do you do it?

Personally, I don't think there is a way to get everybody to cooperate when there are such big benefits to defecting. I think you need regulations.

The non-libertarian FAQ has a great example of why you'll never see that altruistic, cooperative behavior emerge out of mutual self-interest:

Coordination problems are cases in which everyone agrees that a certain action would be best, but the free market cannot coordinate them into taking that action.

As a thought experiment, let's consider aquaculture (fish farming) in a lake. Imagine a lake with a thousand identical fish farms owned by a thousand competing companies. Each fish farm earns a profit of $1000/month. For a while, all is well.

But each fish farm produces waste, which fouls the water in the lake. Let's say each fish farm produces enough pollution to lower productivity in the lake by $1/month.

A thousand fish farms produce enough waste to lower productivity by $1000/month, meaning none of the fish farms are making any money. Capitalism to the rescue: someone invents a complex filtering system that removes waste products. It costs $300/month to operate. All fish farms voluntarily install it, the pollution ends, and the fish farms are now making a profit of $700/month - still a respectable sum.

But one farmer (let's call him Steve) gets tired of spending the money to operate his filter. Now one fish farm worth of waste is polluting the lake, lowering productivity by $1. Steve earns $999 profit, and everyone else earns $699 profit.

Everyone else sees Steve is much more profitable than they are, because he's not spending the maintenance costs on his filter. They disconnect their filters too.

Once four hundred people disconnect their filters, Steve is earning $600/month - less than he would be if he and everyone else had kept their filters on! And the poor virtuous filter users are only making $300. Steve goes around to everyone, saying "Wait! We all need to make a voluntary pact to use filters! Otherwise, everyone's productivity goes down."

Everyone agrees with him, and they all sign the Filter Pact, except one person who is sort of a jerk. Let's call him Mike. Now everyone is back using filters again, except Mike. Mike earns $999/month, and everyone else earns $699/month. Slowly, people start thinking they too should be getting big bucks like Mike, and disconnect their filter for $300 extra profit...

A self-interested person never has any incentive to use a filter. A self-interested person has some incentive to sign a pact to make everyone use a filter, but in many cases has a stronger incentive to wait for everyone else to sign such a pact but opt out himself. This can lead to an undesirable equilibrium in which no one will sign such a pact.

The most profitable solution to this problem is for Steve to declare himself King of the Lake and threaten to initiate force against anyone who doesn't use a filter. This regulatory solution leads to greater total productivity for the thousand fish farms than a free market could.

The classic libertarian solution to this problem is to try to find a way to privatize the shared resource (in this case, the lake). I intentionally chose aquaculture for this example because privatization doesn't work. Even after the entire lake has been divided into parcels and sold to private landowners (waterowners?) the problem remains, since waste will spread from one parcel to another regardless of property boundaries.

too little, too late

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Mother, Mother Ocean
« on: April 26, 2016, 01:45:28 pm »
Join me on a 5-minute trip into the Twilight Zone. From the “High Weirdness”  file, I present to you

“Mother, Mother Ocean”

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.

The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: The Moustachpple
« on: April 19, 2016, 02:41:15 pm »
I love it with all of my body especially my upper lip.

aaahah I love the subversion of using Tweety to deliver that kind of message.

We need some media meta-commentary or deconstruction or something coming out of Maxine's mouth.

                                         Just as early industrial capitalism moved the focus of
                                         existence from being to having, post-industrial culture hasmoved that
                                         focus from having to appearing.


The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Re: The Magicians
« on: April 08, 2016, 06:40:50 pm »

We were watching some idiot or other planning to escape a deathtrap headed over Niagara Falls and she told me "look at how he's holding his hands when they put on the chains, he's already got them most of the way out and he's not even on the raft yet!" She showed me how to get out of handcuffs (the trick is making your wrists as big as possible when they're going on, if you were curious) and told me how she ruined the ring trick for an entire afternoon crowd because she was pissed at her partner that day.

Once you start to Look For The Strings, you can't just enjoy entertainment. After all, everything is fiction created by people and held together by the little things the audience isn't supposed to see. My uncle is a lighting guy, and he taught me all the silly little things you're not supposed to look at. I gobbled up everything I could find about foley artists as soon as I learned that was a thing, and started listening for their work everywhere. While the audience is listening, visuals sneak in sideways. When they're looking, the sounds are the strings holding the illusion together.

There are Strings in real life, too. Governments only work because we all agree they do, even our currency is a form of collective make believe. And sure, you could burn the whole stage down. You could kill all the Magicians and send everyone home, but it's better to be at the show. Just, once in a while, something on stage isn't going the way it should, and the people who Look For The Strings are the people who will see it first, and the people who are best suited to fixing the problem. The goal isn't, shouldn't be, to end it all. The goal should be to make the illusion work for everyone, not to victimize the assistants or traumatize the audience. And yes, the metaphor is getting stretched beyond recognition at this point, but the show must go on.

I like the way you put things.

I think this is part of what "learning to see the fnords" is about.

In Illuminatus, the fnords are the linguistic tricks that shut down the rational part of the brain, (language that generates fear, group identity, etc) like a form of hypnosis. But it's more than that - the fnord is just one of the kinds of "invisible strings" you're talking about. These strings are the way our world builds the world for others.

We're talking about the building blocks of the 'consensus trance'. And the hammer which smashes it.

In the way you describe magic,
I think this thread is enchanted.

Fuck Them.  The rock polisher changes you into something that other people find appealing.  Let them dive head first into the machine if it’s what they want to do.  Plot your escape; make good your escape.  Be wrong—vigorously, go to somewhere that makes you uncomfortable, find something important to do and do it like it’s the last thing you’ll do.


There's a Joseph Campbell quote on my wall. I look to it in times of doubt:
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

I'm curious - your post is coming from the far side of Buddhism. You sound like a "post-buddhist", one who was trapped and escaped.

Looking back on it, what did you get out of it? Would you recommend that path to others?

It's from REALITY, Gene Ray of was just the messenger.

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