Hugh Miller

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I’m enjoying the sight of Elon Musk revealed as a clueless idiot manchild, raging at the real world for contradicting his impulsive, selfish missteps as Twitter degenerates into 4chan.

It is ourselves that are valuable, conferring value onto an app by our presence in numbers. As products, we get to choose if the company selling us deserves us. We are like a product abandoning its connection to a company due to mismanagement rendering it unworthy. This is where the products decide to be customers, too. Twitter is on its way to being a derelict husk drifting toward “MySpace” status. It will end up irrelevant, and owned by the current second-level stakeholders, The Saudi Royal family, once Musk grows sufficiently afraid of the consequences of his own actions and concocts a narrative that allows him to slip away with a shred of dignity.

This is a thrilling moment, getting to watch the unraveling of a social media giant and the fantasy of “too big to fail” for such monstrosities. Facebook, you’re next, buddy! “Meta” my ass. They’ve lost $66 billion in value this year and are whistling in the dark, in denial about their failed dream of owning us all through VR headsets.

I can’t imagine anything healthier for our society right now than watching a few of these fucked up parasites collapsing in flames. Schadenfreude, it’s what’s for dinner. ūüėÄ

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The behavior of ball bearings as they self assemble under an electric field They seem alive, reaching for each other to form emergent structures. In fact, it’s how the molecules in living cells work,¬† just on a larger scale.¬†

Compare to this single brain cell searching for connections:

It doesn’t pay to make grand conclusions based on similar appearances, but this shows the patterns driving all of our living cells and probably something elemental about the nature of evolution itself.

 

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“In this house, we believe science is real.”

That Sign

Science is this job:

  1. Make an observation.
  2. Ask a relevant question.
  3. Form a hypothesis or testable explanation.
  4. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
  5. Test the prediction.
  6. Have your test and its results peer-reviewed and replicated by other scientists.
  7. Confirm that those results are statistically meaningful and consistent
  8. Iterate (repeat): And use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

This is the creation process for scientific facts. This process produces the “Proof” of science that we believe in, due to the rigorous method of science. This value only exists in results that have verifiably completed every step in this process.

A fact can only be a scientific fact if it owes its existence to the scientific method.¬† Concerning every other subject on earth, science is objectively not even relevant. What science isn’t is an essential aspect of understanding what it is. Or you might say that concerning any other subject on earth… science doesn’t even exist because¬†Science only exists in this process.

There are absolutely loads of facts that are meaningful, important, and objectively true but have no connection to science at all. There are crazy shit tons of facts that are beautiful, or scary, or somewhat but not completely true. There are another insane amount of facts that are subjective, personal, and anywhere from sort of to mostly untrue objectively.

Then there are ideas, so many millions of them, that generally rest on some awkward constellation of cherry-picked examples from any sort of combination of the proceeding facts, including the scientific ones. These cannot prove or disprove whatever the cherished idea is, they are there as character witnesses called to testify in the case. Their impact on the jury is generally emotional or an appeal to existing assumptions.

The only aspects of science that even call for belief are the method itself, and the unambiguous results (when present) of that applied method. But please remember that not all scientific facts are equal. Unambiguous, repeatable results are high-quality scientific truth, 5-star scientific facts, whereas ambiguous, hard to repeat results are low-quality knockoffs coasting on the reliability of high-quality results.

You should believe that science is real, where and when this process is complete.  Including unambiguous and replicable. Any fact NOT born of the scientific method is not a scientific fact. And some facts that are scientific by following the method are nonetheless preliminary, inconclusive, and unreliable.

Everything else is either data, opinion, or speculation. There is nothing wrong with data, opinion, or speculation but none of these are conclusive and none are scientific.

So please remember this, if a scientist speaks of spirituality, mysticism, religion, the meaning of life, etc. They are officially just another shmoe like all the rest of us, with no more credentials than any of the rest of us, and they deserve no more trust or belief than anyone else does.

Scientists speculating beyond hard data they are well informed about¬†are ethically wrong if they are asserting (even tacitly ) any scientific authority. They are abandoning the scientific method, violating the principles that make it meaningful, being dishonest, and committing a famous logical fallacy:¬† The “Appeal to False Authority”.

This is no insult to science. We can properly celebrate the amazing power of science only by remembering its limits as well as its strengths. Remembering these limits renews the simple, solemn pact science has made to us. A promise to adhere to the very terms and conditions that it uses to define itself.

 

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A completely random collection of glimpses from recent times (NSFW)

 

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(Memory from 2015)

Last Sunday night I went to bed late, around 1:30. I had to get up at 6 am to get Isaac ready for school and I cursed my stupid restless brain for setting me up to get 4.5 hours of sleep. So then I’m sleeping and something is worrying at me from far off. I’m down in a dream and it’s as if I hear someone calling me. Still really unconscious I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong. I hear my front gates moving, creaking, rattling.

My front yard is enclosed by a tall fence and a set of swinging gates that I routinely lock. It’s like the front room of my house, which happens to be outdoors. I’m used to hearing the gates moving in high wind but it’s obvious to me that the night is absolutely still except for my gates. It slowly comes to me that someone is struggling with the locks, working to get them open. It’s just two hook and eye latches and a slide bolt. Unfortunately, they are set up more to send the message that I don’t want drop-ins than to defeat a concerted attempt to get in. There’s also a bungee stretched across, mainly to keep the gates from moving much in a high wind.

Someone is pushing, pulling, reaching over and under to undo them and I hear them succeeding. Adrenaline. Eyes open. The clock says it’s 4:30 am. My brain is ransacking itself for some story where this is nothing bad. Run to the dark living room and look outside. It’s just what it sounds like: Arms, legs, and torso, pushing, squeezing through the gates, held back only by the bungee now. My brain keeps trying to see in his outline someone I know, someone who is there because they need my help. Nope.

I’m naked. I can’t confront someone like this, so I run to the bedroom to find clothes, and somehow can’t find fucking anything right. Where’s my robe? There! I pull it around me while running back to the living room.

He is through the gates now and he is carefully latching them all back up from the inside. He’s middle height, dressed in black, black hair. Middle eastern? Indian? Latino? He can’t see in because it’s bright out front and dark in here.

Isaac is asleep in his room perhaps 25 feet from where I’m standing, the door slightly ajar. I have a samurai sword on a shelf nearby and I reach for it, feeling very self-conscious like this is a cringey, ridiculous thing to do. I feel like I’m filled with freezing electricity. He’s peering around at the front of the house, I’m coming closer, watching him through the window. He throws something like a cloth or a towel down in front of the front door. He reaches out and puts his hand on the doorknob.
I rap loudly on the window. He startles wide-eyed and focuses on me in the shadows.

GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY YARD!!! I shout. Suddenly thinking of Isaac, please don’t wake up.
His face leans in toward me looking upset and beseeching.

“I just need to come in for a while.” He says, his hand on the doorknob again.

GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY YARD!!! I shout again, brandishing the sword. This is bad but it feels better than the moments of hiding and watching. He looks SO sad. He returns to the gate and begins undoing the locks and squishing himself out under the bungee, still in place.

A moment later, I’m outside redoing the locks and adding things to prevent reentry. As I come back in I realize the thing he threw down in front of my door is my own welcome mat, which had been hanging up to dry after cleaning.¬†I can’t believe it, but Isaac is still asleep. I call 911 and tell them, then somehow eventually get back to sleep. I wake at six, wake up Isaac, and make him breakfast. I don’t say a word about what happened.

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“…and there, against the wall, without obstructing rag or leaf, you may look your fill upon the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses–Titian’s Venus. It isn’t that she is naked and stretched out on a bed–no, it is the attitude of one of her arms and hand. If I ventured to describe that attitude, there would be a fine howl–but there the Venus lies, for anybody to gloat over that wants to–and there she has a right to lie, for she is a work of art, and Art has its privileges.

I saw young girls stealing furtive glances at her; I saw young men gaze long and absorbedly at her; I saw aged, infirm men hang upon her charms with a pathetic interest. How I should like to describe her–just to see what a holy indignation I could stir up in the world–just to hear the unreflecting average man deliver himself about my grossness and coarseness, and all that. The world says that no worded description of a moving spectacle is a hundredth part as moving as the same spectacle seen with one’s own eyes–yet the world is willing to let its son and its daughter and itself look at Titian’s beast, but won’t stand a description of it in words. Which shows that the world is not as consistent as it might be.”

Mark Twain

 

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This graphic tracks the evolving, cross-pollinating disciplines of Complexity science, also called complex systems science. They are an essential and transformational course correction against the scientific tradition of oversimplifying virtually everything in order to avoid overstating ANYTHING. In fairness, you have to have a lot of information about a lot of different things before you can apply the lessons of complex systems.

There’s no love in a carbon atom,¬†No hurricane in a water molecule,¬†No financial collapse in a dollar bill.
‚Äď Peter Dodds

Below is a brilliantly straightforward exploration of many of these concepts

Complexity Explained

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Or: I risked my life for ugly sandals.

When I entered college I was a naive, disorganized, and eccentric person. This was also true when I left college – but that’s not really the point of this story.¬† Also, I didn’t know I was naive, disorganized, or eccentric when I arrived or left for that matter. After my grindingly lonely adolescence, I was overwhelmed to be in such an exciting and rich social environment. The amount of human contact was dizzying. I lost any academic focus in favor of people, People,¬† PEOPLE! But I quickly encountered a problem: Everyone seemed to be a factor of ten cooler than me. My new friends were constantly doing things like bicycling across South America or spending six months roughing it in India or hitchhiking cross country with a knife strapped to their hip. I am a bull moose introvert and a lover of comfort and safety. I was morbidly introspective yet lacking any real self-knowledge, as I had no life experience.¬† I was embedded in the new age spirituality of the time and I thought I was about 8 paces from enlightenment. This in no way conflicted in my mind with doing lots of drugs and being fairly promiscuous. I certainly never imagined that I was something called high functioning autistic, or ADHD, with a lengthy list of phobias and rigid behaviors.

I simply felt that I didn’t measure up to community standards for coolness. I would have to become more courageous and daring. I began keeping an eye open for a situation I could use to toughen myself up and bolster my street cred and my cool quotient. I soon stumbled into/engineered one.

Random Sex and Ugly Footwear  

Most of my new friends were sort of clothes optional people and social nudity was not a big deal at all. It all started with bunches of us swimming naked in the pond that surrounded the chapel. We’d all tromp down to the edge of the water, throw our clothes off and dive in. I remember a well-known member of the art faculty joining us at least once. I also remember a look crossing his face that I now interpret as “Did I just ruin my career?”

Afterward, we’d throw on just enough clothing to walk around in public and head back to the Kappa dorms where everyone would hit the showers together. As I look back and remember standing in the girl’s shower, being soaped up …by girls, I realize that times like these are impossible to appreciate properly while you are still being included in them. The whole dorm became defacto clothes optional much to my delight (and almost definitely to the distress of others). We also took to sunning ourselves naked on the concrete porches of the south-facing upper floor in Kappa. In response, the buildings and grounds guys in their little golf carts started incessantly driving back and forth across that field on countless emergency missions that all required offroading past the naked chicks to save time.

One weekend, a sort of friendly acquaintance, David, came down from Gainesville, (a small university town about 2.5 hours north on Highway 75) to see Dale, the (female) RA of the dorm (and regular member of the nude swim team). He brought a really cute girl named Diana with him. I’m not quite sure why, but we all ended up sitting around in Dale’s room naked, and smoking dope, exactly as our parents had hoped. I sprang a sudden diamond-hard boner that remained in place over hours of talking and laughter. I didn’t feel any shame or awkwardness, possibly because it was a “Life is Wonderful” boner rather than a “Let’s get it on”¬† boner. In the 2 or 3 hours since meeting each other, Diana and I “hit it off” to the point that we climbed out the window to the “porch” at midnight and spent a long, weird, not very comfortable, yet sexy night on that balcony. I remember receiving a blowjob at dawn and looking up to see Dale’s two owlish female neighbors peering at us, in flagrante delicto,¬† through their window blinds – in a distressed yet very attentive sort of way. I came close to giving a gentle wave hello but opted for pretending I didn’t see them. Sleeping outdoors on a slab of concrete is chilly and unpleasant even in Florida so Diana and I rose early, shuffled naked through Dale’s room, and off to the women’s showers for a hot and soapy fuck to warm up.

Diana and I had a nice morning before I wished her and David safe travels and they hit the road for home.¬†Diana might easily have left my story so thoroughly at this point that I could have forgotten her long ago but for an absolutely terrible “good idea” that soon struck me. Continue reading

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