M

Mo

Notes to self. Working on @StandardNotes.

A theory of poop

Barbacoa, black beans, and corn. Yes, this had been a particularly smelly poop. Not mine, but my daughter’s, who fights every diaper change until she realizes this may actually help her move around more efficiently during her destructive walks about the house. The moment I opened her diaper, my neck snapped in the other direction, my nose instantly repulsed by what it had just whiffed. In that moment, I realized the extent of the simulation. Poop doesn’t have to smell repulsive. And a poopy smell doesn’t have to create a visceral disgust response. No, this was rather programmed in, as a “don’t eat this shit” mechanism.

Your biology teacher, asked about this phenomenon, would just as instinctively remark that random mutations are responsible for the programming of the “poop = don’t eat” response. But let’s try to put ourselves in the shoes of randomness and see if we can figure out how to arrive at this sophisticated level of programming by chance.

As a brief biology refresher, your nose is up there, your butt is a few feet down, and your poop production system is probably somewhere in between. Now presumably in the course of evolution the poop came first, before there came a disgust response from your nose. Evolution said: Let there be poop. And so it became. Presumably at this point poop smelled the way it smelled, but there was no “disgust” wiring present yet, so some poor organism decided to eat its own poop thinking it was an infinite food hack, only for it to get sickly or fall dead. (The alternative would be that poop and its disgust wiring came in the same update, but for a random mutation to achieve that level of collaboration between two very separate systems would surely be out of the question.)

Now, evolution is blind right—straight up stupid. More stupid than the organism that just ate its poop. But these damn organisms are eating poop left and right, getting sick, and dying. And evolution hasn’t the slightest idea! It chugs along and continues to do its thing, guessing one random mutation at a time. It grows an extra mouth here, an extra ligament there, expands a pupil here, extends a neural pathway there, but nothing is coming up advantageous. Organisms just aren’t living long enough to reproduce—the poop is too damn tasty!

Now if you’re evolution and you have to search near infinite problem space in your quest for determining the next mutation to evolve the species you are so gravely responsible for, how long might it take you to iterate through this space before you come up with “Eureka! Make the poop smell bad and elicit a disgust response!”? Well, try to write a script in your favorite programming language that combines words (which in this case would be from an advantageously finite space, unlike evolution’s near infinite space), until the words equal something like “Make the poop smell bad and elicit a disgust response.” This trivial random string generation exercise would probably require billions of years of some for-loop run before you get the result you were aiming for. And note of course that evolution doesn’t have the advantage of “knowing what it’s aiming for.”

Astonishingly, evolution figured this out way faster than that. I can’t be sure when poop=bad found its way into the biome, but let’s be generous and say that it took this blind process a billion years to do so. But a billion years is absolutely nothing compared to infinity. A billion years is extremely impressive for a random process to arrive at a life-saving trait. How is it that evolution, time and time again, seems to search infinite problem spaces randomly way more efficiently than we could ever expect?

Enough with this random mutation nonsense. Wake up and smell the poop.

Beauty

My dad’s first wife passed away when their first son was only two years old. The idea of my brother having grown up without a mother is hard to think about. In looking at the mother of my own child, I see what a mother means to a child: everything. The thought of losing my wife, though it doesn’t wade through my mind too often, makes my heart quake, on my behalf and on my daughter’s.

This thought crossed my mind today when baby and mother were playing. I’m so often preoccupied contemplating my own premature death that I hardly think it could be just as probable that I’m not the first to go—death can be unbiased towards the healthy and unhealthy alike. In that moment, I shed a tear for my brother and father, who lived the exact existence the thought of crumbles me. Not that their lives today, more than some thirty, forty years later have been tragically afflicted by the incident, but at the poetic injustice of a father losing his wife, and a child losing his mother. I can’t bear that thought for me, and I cannot bear it for someone else.

Yet if my father’s first wife and my brother’s only mother had not died unjustly, my father would not have gone on to marry the woman who is my mother. And I…I would not be here today. You wouldn’t be reading this post.

This thought instantly devastated me. I exist because a woman died. I exist because a child lost his mother. My daughter exists by that same cause. The most beautiful thing in my life exists because of the most unbeautiful thing that could befall a family.

That woman, though I know almost nothing about her—I owe. I owe her my best.

I think about my own mortality often, mostly due to the precarious nature of my health. The most beautiful moments are in my child’s eyes; mine water looking at hers. My right eye sheds a tear to the wonder before me; my left for the thought that she may lose me, and I her, prematurely. In those moments, I sometimes think of the devastation I might cause my family were I to leave them unexpectedly due to the probable or improbable. When I think of my condition, which may or may not kill me, I curse the gods for the potential of having ruined my family’s life. “They’ll never recover from me,” I think to myself, or “My absence will forever be a dark cloud that looms over their every day.”

Yet from the devastating death of my dad’s wife arose a family which I know he loves more than anything. It’s the cause to which I owe my existence, without which there could not be me, my wife, and my daughter living in a warm home sharing laughs and sharing life. From her death, came endless beauty.

Maybe from mine too, shall come endless more.

Simple thoughts

It’s been hard for me to get into the full writing mood, so here’s a 3 for 1.

  • Humans are simple. All of them. Sure, the internal machinery is obscenely complex. But a given person has only one thought streaming through their mind at any given time. Sample the smartest, richest, poorest, happiest, saddest people in the world, and at any given time, they are only having one linear, simple, non-quantum thought, like “I’m hungry” or “I wonder if this person likes me.” This also helps me understand why the future or destination or the meeting of goals or acquisition of desires never makes me better off: because even in a nicer house or nicer car or nicer town, I’m still only having one thought at a time, regardless of my surroundings, like “I’m hungry” or “I wonder if this person likes me.”

  • Recovering from burnout is hard but possible in due time. I’ve recovered from the burnout I wrote about a month ago, and knowing how inconvenient it is to go through, my number one goal now is avoiding it in the future. So I’m taking a lot of breaks. And eating ice cream. And otherwise allowing my impulses room so I’m not clenching all the time. The exercise of restraint and will power consumes mental resources, so eating ice cream as a counter measure helps relax those muscles. I’m not sure if burnout can be prevented, but it’s worth delaying at the very least.

  • I recovered from my burnout about a week after I wrote last month’s post where I wondered how I would get myself out of burnout. The way I got out of it was somewhat anticlimactic. See, I had thought my burnout was complex and deep and needing psychoanalysis. But a couple nights after writing that post, I was feeling nostalgic and went through some of my posts from 2018. I was surprised to read that even then—before the storm of health adversity that rocked my world for several years between 2019 and now—even in 2018, I had struggled with bouts of coding burnout. I even wrote that it was laughable how repulsed I was by coding, which I also wrote in last month’s post. Funnily enough, I don’t remember any of that. I don’t remember being burnt out in 2018. I thought I was super productive then. Learning I had burnt out during better times made me feel better today, because it made the burnout today feel less personal and not so complex. And in that moment, I kid you not, I spontaneously healed. I was back to work the next day. If I had not kept a journal back then about my day to day, I’d probably have spent a lot of time today beating myself up about burnout and thinking it had something to do with my circumstances, rather than just being a thing that happens. This is why we write.

Memories

I remember the exact moment I snapped. I was trying to start a local ruby application when an error about mysql2 said something about not being installed correctly. I spent hours on the issue but got nowhere. I closed the laptop in feigned calmness and huffed: I’m done.

I’m fucking done.

I stepped away, and would hardly step back for months.

Hello, my name is Mo, and I’m a recovering code addict.

When I would think of code over the next few weeks after the unhinging, I would feel a nausea similar to that you’d feel when you thought of alcohol the day after a hedonic drinking binge. Code began to have a noxious smell, my body and mind repulsed by it.

I was exhibiting signs of textbook burnout. And it had to end. Allergy to code would land me in the deepest, darkest bowels of capitalism: market irrelevance and uselessness. But why was I feeling this way? Why couldn’t I summon the will to write a single line of code, when mashing keys to produce typescript in the past was something that brought me great pleasure and fulfillment?

I struggled with this question. Could I logically exit my way out of burnout? I mean, what is it? Can I seriously not write a single line of code without feeling like I’m crawling on nails? Surely its mere comic egregiousness should lend itself to easy diagnosis and repair.

In thinking about it more recently, I’m beginning to feel like burnout is a memory. It’s the memory of every bad time I’ve had coding. The vanquishing multi-day bugs, the constant knot untangling of local dependencies, the endless wheel of repairs and upgrades—all fed through some single neural pathway to create a simple but vast emotion.

If burnout is a memory, one way out of it could be to rewrite those memories with more positive ones. New, simple, positive memories of coding. The key would seem to be starting small as to not risk another negative experience. Too small to fail. If I truly love this enterprise, which has lasted in me longer than any other obsession, then surely it lay dormant within.

With the right future technology, a simple solution would seem to be wiping out and deleting those negative experiences altogether, but this would be a terrible idea. I’d approach coding and feel the same dismay without having the faintest clue why. Could it be one of those memories I deleted?

There is also the advantage that recent memories seem to be more weighted in the emotional network. Overwriting memories with simple positive ones may win out in the mind by the bias of recency alone.

As for coding in english, I’d say this was a decent journaling experience. I had to drag every word out of my cemented mind. But here’s to hoping I’ll remember it fondly.

Dreaming of Evolution

I have come upon a functional synthesis of life that seems to do a good job of resolving the million factors and objections swirling about my mind.

The Darwinian (or more accurately neo-Darwinian) view of life has never fully felt at home in my mind. I accepted it reluctantly but kept one eye open.

I crossed paths with a book titled Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer who compellingly argues against Darwinism. He is not the first to do so, but is part of a collection of biologists and academics that has been growing in size since the 70’s who assess that the Darwinist mechanism cannot be sufficient to generate new body forms.

In a word, Meyer argues that new body plans in evolution (i.e large jumps in function and form) cannot arise gradually through random mutation and natural selection because, amongst other things, the problem space of searching randomness is too incredibly vast. Life is composed of sequences of information stored genetically and epigenetically. If attempting to mutate and searching near infinite space, you’re infinitely more likely to happen upon a mutation that would make the resulting information sequence either completely illegible, nonviable, or deleterious.

To arrive through random searching where life is at today would require unspeakably more time, if at all, than four billion years.

Meyer argues that whenever new information is produced or found, invariably there is a mind at work who created that information. He would say, “random mutations cannot explain leaps of new meaningful information, but which process do we know for certain is capable of generating new information? Minds. Therefore, new body plans and thus information in evolution come from a mind.” His would be an argument for intelligent design, in the literal and not cultural sense of the term. Simply “intelligently designed” with no other connotations as to how or why.

I really like this view. It’s a functional form of logic that works well with my brain. “If we don’t know what causes new information in biology, let’s simplify to what we know to be able to generate new information in general—that would be no other than intelligence itself, as evidenced by humans’ likewise ability to generate new information.” Profoundly and mathematically unsatisfied with natural selection through random mutation, I’m happy to quickly replace my previous dogma with this one.

But I couldn’t just stop there.

Here is my own very nascent synthesis on the how part of intelligent design: how does the intelligent entity interject its code or information into our systems?

I wouldn’t have a hard time believing that the intelligence which drives evolution is our own mind’s intelligent processes. Essentially, we know that intelligence can create new information. And new information is required for major and non-gradual changes in organisms. What we don’t know is the where’s or what about this intelligence.

But using Meyer’s own method of reasoning, where do we empirically know intelligence exists? In biological minds. That’s the only known place in the universe we know intelligence to exist. So if intelligent evolution requires intelligence, and our minds posses intelligence, then why couldn’t our reproductive system coordinate with its direct access to that intelligence, and decide on how to shape the next generation?

The reproductive system literally has a hard line connection to an intelligent agent. Think about it like this: if evolution were to ask you, what could you use more of in your life? How’s your experience so far?—don’t you think your consciousness and experience could offer the asking agent some practical tips and insights “from the field” that could help you (or your progeny) survive better in your environment?

I find it very materially plausible that the reproductive system (sperm, embryonic development, etc.) relies on intelligent computation from its own host to dictate information flow for subsequent generations.

The gods that created humans were…human.

But I’ll go further, even though I’ve probably already gone too far. How does your intelligence provide the computing resources and runtime necessary for intelligent evolution to get the information it needs to carry out its processes? Here’s where a little wandering could help.

Dreams could help facilitate the process of accessing an intelligent runtime for evolution. Dreams seem to be your consciousness and intelligence at play in wildly varying situations. Almost like a diagnostic tool that asks your intelligent agent, “how would your intelligence react when placed into this or that circumstance?” Your dream when played out is then the mapping of that useful information that is subsequently imprinted in your biological seed.

New, meaningful information could certainly be generated through a process like this. Your intelligence lives out a physical life, and is probed every night how it’s faring in its environment. It’s worth noting that the intelligence runtime your dreams have access to is likely very different than, or has no obligation to be similar to, our waking conscious experience of intelligence.

We can have some fun with this: imagine if this process had you imagine how your intelligence—in its purest, inaccessible form—would respond if applied to existing as a single physically dense particle that when exploded would give rise to varying amounts of materials such as iron, mercury, helium, oxygen, and hundreds of other elements. Your intelligence is then tasked with: create intelligence in this playground. You would then begin dreaming of watching your intelligence spend billions of years designing a universe in which intelligence is reproduced with set materials and physical constants.

Our existence could then be such dream of another intelligent agent being probed in a dream how to create conscious entities via other arbitrary parameters. Another dream or dream of a dream could be asking intelligence to arrive at intelligence in a universe where there is 1/3 less iron and the speed of light is 2x faster.

Of course recursion cannot be avoided in theories like this so you start to wonder, how many levels does this dreaming go up?

There we arrive at the great limitation of our own intelligence, that takes us to an answer of one. Just one root node that is dreaming a nested web of dreams, where every dream, from the bottom to the very top, dreams of only one thing: life.


Some resources for the curious reader:

Wikipedia: Alternatives to Darwinian evolution

Apple Books: Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer

Wikipedia: Cambrian explosion

Wikipedia: Modern synthesis

Wikipedia: Mutationism

Wikipedia: Natural genetic engineering

Apple Books: Evolution: A View from the 21st Century

Nearer to the truth

I’m unimpressed by space. This sentiment for me is about five days old. I’ll explain that later. For now, the religion of scientism today celebrated releases of new telescope images of deep space, and everyone is performing the act of losing their minds.

The truth is, space is not that practically interesting, nor ultimately that impressive. What’s not empty are just celestial bodies performing big body physics. What’s most mind blowing about space is its mere vastness and age, but I can entertain myself with how large numbers can grow just the same. Beyond that, space is just large rock and gas formations and a few dark spots, as practically interesting as that mountain range outside your Airbnb.

If empty space and rock matter were interesting, we’d be obsessed with the moon. Alas, it’s just another rock in our backyard.

Don’t get me wrong—space is absolutely interesting. But it’s not relatively interesting. You know what is? Living organisms. The human brain. A single cell in your body. The vertebrate eye.

Of all the things created by the universe, including itself, nothing has so far proven to be more interesting than what we find right here behind the palms of our own hands.

Like Apple and their iPhones, today scientism celebrated a better camera. And it’s sold to us as an inch closer to ultimate truth.

The only place scientism will never have you look, is quite literally at yourself. Has the celebration of space made anyone feel anything but insignificant and nihilistic? This feeling isn’t a positive for humanity.

This isn’t poetry. If you want to study the universe—the simulator, the creator, the it, the that—if you want to know its disposition and preferences and characteristics—if you want to be nearer to the truth,

Look around.

In Random we trust

There is no word that has caused me more tangible angst and metaphysical suffering than “random.” What an absolute disaster of a word. That we let these six letters permeate and dominate our most important scientific principles is a travesty of galactic proportions.

Random is a word scientists use when they really, desperately need a theory to work, but cannot fill in that Great Gap. So they go with random, and receive a standing ovation from the rest of the circlejerk. Of the most important single question in the whole of human existence is that of our origin; Darwin devised an excellent theory, but it relied heavily on the conception of randomness.

If you take out the word random, you get “natural selection by mutations results in the gradual transmutation of one species to another.” Ok, great. But what is the source of these mutations?

“Random.”

But what in the actual fuck does random mean? I daresay it is impossible to prove some process is random by studying its output. And we must certainly not adopt anything we can’t prove, correct?

Consider this simple exercise:

A function or process yields numbers which you cannot make sense of. They have no sensible pattern. 5, 8, 450, 982, 488, 81, 2, 0, 49, 1. Purely random right? Well, let’s take a look at the source code:

printNumbers([5, 8, 450, 982, 488, 81, 2, 0, 49, 1]).

Whoops, not so random after all huh.

Consider another exercise:

A random, dumb evolutionary process executes blindly in pure chaotic fashion, starting from a single cell. After several millions of years of running this totally oblivious program, the process creates—against all odds, quite literally—an organism which understands the process which created it. This organism then goes on to linearly and non-randomly deduce the process which created it was random.

A random process created something which non-randomly understood the process which created it. Mind fucking blown. God damn random, you scary good.

A string of mutations you cannot make sense of is not random. I can think of a few better words to use:

unknowable
unexpected
uncertain
unquantifiable
inexplicable
…mysterious?

But these words are too spooky to be found in a university textbook, right? Can you imagine teaching a course in evolutionary biology at a most presti-ncious college and lecturing:

“Mysterious mutations result in gradual variations which succumb to natural pressure to conform or perish.”

It wouldn’t do. It simply wouldn’t do. Infinite hands would fly up in the air with endless questions. “Professor McRandomface, what do you mean…mysterious?” And the course would reach a deadlock.

But swap out these perfectly befitting words with “random” and no one asks a single question. Ah, yes, random. A perfectly reasonable, perfectly defined term.

And thus are mislead generations of souls to perish in the hells of eternal randomness.

Death to the word random. I will not allow it.

Battle cry

What’s left for us? There is a narrative vacuum for those who seek comfort, but I cannot imagine any future narrative that is anything similar to those of the past.

Past narratives have always concerned themselves with a supernatural being who if not orchestrates then at the very least overlooks. But scientism precludes the supernatural.

How does anyone cope with personal calamity these days? Seriously—what is the framework for suffering offered to earthlings today? What shall I pass on to my child? I have literally nothing in the way of soul comfort. And without a preternatural being, neither do you.

What does the future bring but more science? Certainly science can bring comfort. But strictly of the physical dimension.

In the past decade or two I have watched my holy trinity of narratives dissipate without replacement. The first to evaporate was the belief of our special place in the universe; special, by supernatural choosing. The second to wither away was my sense of nationalism—the folklore of our founding, forefathers, democracy, military exceptionalism. The last to leave me—and this one hurt—was the belief in scientism and progressivism; that our efforts are leading to evermore good.

All have been replaced by a hyperrealistic mindset pervaded largely by economics and capitalism. Unshakably to me all three narratives seem to be economically rooted with candy coated shells.

What does the future have to offer our progeny? What will they find comfort in when life grows difficult? I can’t imagine supernaturalism becoming fashionable again, as ridiculously effective as it is at greasing the angst of life. Nationalism can always have a place, and while it can help someone feel they belong, I can’t imagine it being useful for curing soul dis-ease. Scientism is the remaining option, and though its powers seemingly infinite, offers little emotional recourse save for the brute force chemical route.

The world—or maybe just me—is in need of an old fashioned prophet. But I can’t for the life of me figure out what the rallying cry would be. “Science!!” No, that doesn’t feel right. “God!!” Hmm no, not quite. “America!!” Yikes, no, maybe not.

What then?

Simulation Overflow: The Runtime

The universe is described as having went from a state of nothing to being everything in a trillionth of a second. You know what else has that property? Software programs. Software programs go from a state of absolute nothingness to a state of infinite proliferation every time they are turned on.

And what is software—like us—but an animation of electricity into different patterns and formations?

In thinking about the nature of our existence in the past, I had imagined that our simulation was contained in some external, irreconcilable environment. But come to think of it, if our own universe is the animation of electricity into different formations, perhaps the container is more of the same, and is thus less containing and more fencing. In which case, I have more hope that we may one day make that eternal discovery.

I read somewhere that it is most curious that man views the death he had been under for billions of years prior to birth, as more comely than the impending death which he approaches, which would go on for another innumerable billion years. Are they not the same? You feel after precisely as you did before—that nothingness that is so hard to describe or ponder.

I was laying down the other day, minding my own business, and watching some untopical video about perhaps some supply chain this or logistics that—perhaps some Wendover video—when suddenly I was struck with a thought that ejected me from my world. What if we never discover the nature of all this? See, given all the infinite existential angst we ignore to live a productive life, I had at least found closure in the fact that while we may today be clueless, surely we are progressing towards uncovering this great mystery. If not by 2200, then surely by the year 2,000,000 we shall have it all figured out. But, two million years is pocket change for this brazen universe. It may go on for another fifty billion years without the slightest clue it even exists.

Can it be that it continues to proliferate for another dozen billion years, and whatever consciousness within truly still has no idea why it exists or by what will it does? How tragic. How truly lonely, depraved, and tragic. I am ok today living in complete cluelessness, but only because I hope that our collective efforts are somehow pushing us closer to some thread of hint as to the nature of these string vibrations.

As stated, all signs point to this being a simulation in the absolute literal sense—a meticulous software program that went from not existing, to existing instantaneously as soon as the run script was called. Which begs the question, what is the runtime of our simulation? Is it virtualized, or does it run natively in the host environment? Well, this is much easier to reason about when we consider our own simulations. In which environment does our software run? Software appears to run in a virtual world with no equivalent or transfer between ours, but really, software very much runs natively in our own world. Namely, software is an arrangement of electricity into particular formations—that same electricity which animates us. Humans and software, in this light, are not so different from one another.

Does our simulation have any interest in exposing its nature to us? Well, suppose we were to build some impeccable simulation of our own with beings that can wonder. Would we want to show them our world at some point? I think actually an astounding yes. We love showing off our creations, to those who would listen, like an evil villain loves exposing his intricate plot. We love to show others our world, like getting someone to listen to a song you like or watch a movie you can’t stop thinking about, if for no other reason than for that person to corroborate our sanity. In that same way, if you create a simulation and manufacture a being within whom you fall in love with, in the platonic sense, then it might actually be a very particular—and pressing—goal for you to introduce your world to them.

In the past I thought it unspeakable that we might one day interface with the externals of our simulation, the same way I would find it impossible for a character in a software program to escape the confines of their program and interface natively in ours. But if in fact all simulations, recursively speaking—the one we’re in, the one that simulates us, and the ones we create—if in fact they all exist in the same environment via unique and particular electrical formations, then I find this thought not so unspeakable, but perhaps only a matter of time until the electricity figures out more interoperable formations.

A thousand signs

Outside the place where I lived many years ago in the bustling city was a one-way, dimly-lit side street, branching from the busy road and into the quiet neighborhood. The parking on the street was unpermitted and unassigned, but when I’d walk my dog at night, I’d see the same cars nestling in their usual spot. One of the cars was a small pickup truck with a large caged wagon attached for collecting metals and scraps.

The neighborhood was new and old. Of the old was really old; the red-brick building occupying the south side of the street must have been at least 75 years old. On the north side of the street was an abandoned lot with junked cars. One day, with no warning or announcement, a sign spontaneously appeared on both sides of the street. Henceforth, the sign announced, this was to be permitted parking. You must acquire a permit for your vehicle, and display the permit at all times, lest you risk citation or tow.

I had seen the guy to whom the pick up truck belonged. He was in his 60s, but he was active and fit; almost buff. If we caught eyes while walking my dog, he would say hello, and I’d smile politely and say hey. He used to have a dog, he told me, until he had to give her up because bodily pain and back problems overtook his ability to care for her properly.

I’m no permitting expert, but I was somewhat certain that the city would give him a hard time for his business-sized pick up truck. I wondered where on earth he would park the thing if he couldn’t acquire a permit.

But he had found a different solution to the problem.

As I was walking my dog the next day on the north side of the street, I looked into the abandoned car lot and noticed something peculiar: plopped askew on the ground was a sign, similar to the one I saw the day before. “Permit Parking” it announced. I looked across the street by the big red building, and sure enough, no longer was there the sign there just yesterday. Someone had dug it up and thrown it across the street.

Ha. So now what? If there is no sign to convey that parking requires a permit, how enforceable can it really be? Yet I thought surely whoever dug up the sign was waging a losing battle. There’s no way you can turn permitted parking into a free for all by just digging up the sign and tossing it out. Right?

Nothing really changed over the next few days. Everyone assumed their usual opportunistic spot. Probably most inhabitants hadn’t noticed the sign in the first place to notice it was now gone. But then, just like it had before, the intruding pole miraculously reappeared. Nope—the sign said—this is definitely permit parking.

The very next day the sign was missing again. Not in the abandoned car lot this time. It had probably been taken to some abandoned pier, blindfolded when it was shot in the back and dumped in the ocean. The same cars, including the now increasingly smug pick up truck, continued to park, unpermitted. I thought surely this couldn’t go on much longer. Eventually, the rules must be followed. This war cannot be won.

A few days later the sign was reinstated, this time with bolts to the ground. And the very next day—nay, that same night—the sign had once again vanished without a trace.

This must have happened a few more times, until one side finally gave in and accepted defeat.

This whole saga was years ago. I drove by some months ago to the same street, and there it was, magnificent as ever: the raggedy old pick up truck with its overflowing haul of junk appliances. And, no sign. You, me, anyone could park there.

I can never really say for certain whether the old man was the sign killer. I just figured he had the most to lose by its presence. But I respected his will for survival. And for saying fuck you, I live here, and I’ve lived here far before this sign and its under-qualified originators ever wished for its existence.

So it seems, if ever a permit is required of you to perform an unalienable action, a viable course of action is to simply say fuck you. The collective will is immeasurably, unstoppably more powerful than the will of those maliciously designing and edging their way past your most uninfringeable boundaries. A thousand signs have been placed before you.

I know what the old man would do.

The great external

One thing religion does well is externalize blame. Why are you poor/sick/alone? Because god deemed it so. Even more, he may have a special plan for you. This framework of externalizing cause and effect to a third party seems an important dependency of the human process, given its relentless survival against all odds and reason. It is a core human process, because we understand our powerlessness to change most things beyond our diet and morning routine.

If it takes believing for god to exist and manifest, then today god flickers dimly at 35% opacity. For most scientifically minded individuals, there is no god. And there certainly isn’t a reason driving events. Random is a word that has by now beaten most of us into submission. But externalize we must, so if not god, who? Us.

In science, we are god. We did not create the playground, but we play freely within. If you take god out of religion and salt-bae in a dash of science, you end up with a framework which finds less galactic ways to externalize blame.

Today there is a prominent idealogical system, which in the future might very easily be classified as a religion, whose main feature is externalizing blame. The reason you are poor/sick/alone is not because nature is cruel, the world chaotic, and resourcefulness unevenly distributed, but because there are human and systematic forces working to suppress your up-and-comance. The main feature of this idealogical system is that almost any malady can certainly be traced back to an aboriginal or ongoing wrong (a defining feature of most religions).

It may not be the truth, but it certainly keeps the story going. My incredulity at the audacity and mind-bending rational gymnastics this framework takes is likely akin to an observer a couple thousand years ago lamenting traditional Abrahamic religions as pure fairy dust. Sure, you’d have been right, but it wouldn’t have mattered too much.

The simulation ultimately doesn’t like you to think you’re just a flimsy dispensable meat bag swimming in a bloody lagoon. It finds ways to project meaning, and most importantly, causation.

Science client

I wrote a post last week about a concept of freedom which I later deleted. It was too obvious, direct, basic, simple, and I felt dirty afterwards. I like participating in current political trends sometimes with friends, but definitely try to avoid it on the internet. A friend once told me that if you find yourself arguing the same national talking points as everyone else, you’re too plugged in. Someone living their own life in their own world would hardly have any clue what the current trendy debates are. So I’ll aspire to this for myself.

Nonetheless, it’s impossible to shut out current events in recent months and years because it’s no longer abstract the way current events used to be. It used to be that what you saw on the news was far removed from what would actually play out in your life. Today, that gap appears to have all but disappeared. The more it gets closer to me, my home, and my family, the more incited I become to lash out and say something, and just be another annoying voice in the sea of endless internet voices. I’ll try my hands at another approach here that will hopefully make me feel not so dirty afterwards.

In cryptocurrency, there are largely two types of wallet software: there are wallets that download the entire blockchain to your computer (many, many gigabytes), and verify the integrity of every transaction manually and ensure the blockchain is, well, the chain it’s purported to be. Let’s call this a trustless wallet. And there is another type of wallet software that connects to a central third-party that has already downloaded the entire blockchain on their server, and instead conveys to you, “listen, I’ve downloaded this whole blockchain so you don’t have to, and trust me, everything looks good. Here’s your balance.” Let’s call this a trust-me wallet.

Now, if you want to be a fundamentalist and act in the crypto network the way the gods intended—fully trustless and decentralized—you would download a trustless wallet and thus wait like three days for the entire blockchain to be downloaded onto your computer. But after that initial cost, you now run on the network the way it was intended—not trusting anyone but the source of truth itself: the chain.

If you don’t have the time or space for that, and instead want a convenient solution in which you are ok delegating trust to another central, third-party source (which happens to be most people), then you’re likely to end up using a trust-me wallet. This is fine and functional, but is not the “true” use of cryptocurrency, and if 100% of people used a trust-me wallet, cryptocurrency would cease to exist.

The beauty of science, as with the beauty of cryptocurrency, is that it was designed to be trustless and completely decentralized. Nothing “counts” as science unless it’s confirmed (replicated) by all the nodes, just like a transaction in the cryptosphere doesn’t count unless it's mass-confirmed.

In today’s politicized science environment, most casual people run trust-me science clients which regurgitate science emanating from a central source. This is fine, so long as not 100% of people are running this software. You need unreasonable fundamentalists who play the game the way it was meant to be played: lacking central authority (decentralized) and replicable. Science at today’s scale is largely impossible to replicate by individual nodes like you or me. So in most cases we’re forced to pick a central authority and take their word for it.

This isn’t to say science emanating from a central authority cannot be true. It’s only to say that science emanating from a central authority is centralized, third-party science. That there exist fundamentalists in the cryptocurrency ecosystem who say, I reject all trust-me clients and want to run my own node to ensure the long-term integrity of the system, as unreasonable as it may be, is how the integrity of the system is preserved. Without them, these systems could not exist.

The Metaverse

Facebook has recently market-rebranded as a “metaverse” company. Ostensibly because they are a VR company, and there is supposed to be an implicit connection between VR and the metaverse. But the metaverse is not waiting to be built.

It’s already here.

Perhaps influenced by Ready Player One, there is this idea that the metaverse must be in 3D, and can only be experienced in high-fidelity VR. This is nonsense. The metaverse is more like a Pokédex than it is the actual fictional universe that Pokémon inhabit. The metaverse is the rolodex of characters and objects whose ownership is indisputable and infrangible.

Specifically, NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain is the world’s largest decentralized trading game, and is precisely the metaverse that has long been prophesied. It needs nothing more to be so. Does a fictional universe really need 3D renders to be experienced? Can you not read mere words on a page and be excessively captivated by a book? So it is that the JPEGs on the Ethereum blockchain are a universe of characters and items, whose ownership is indisputable, whose objects are hotly desired, and whose characters enthrall you with their personality, backstory, and potential.

This is the metaverse. It’s already here. And its lack of central authority is more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.

No fucking Facebook account required.

There is no team

I’ve come to learn there is no such thing as a “team”. Only very productive individuals. You can’t take a group of average individuals, make a team out of them, and produce above-average results. In fact work quality and efficiency decrease with team size. The most productive unit is the individual.

This is a sort of anticlimactic realization for me. Back when I worked on Standard Notes solo, I had always been mystified by how large teams operate and produce. How did companies like Apple, with team sizes of hundreds and thousands, coordinate to ship frequently and speedily on a consistent basis? From the way I see it now, my answer would be: they hire great individuals. And the rest is automatic. I had a friend who worked at Apple who had likewise been previously mystified by their magic. After he saw what the insides looked like, he said, psht, I could start a company like Apple. He was unimpressed.

There was no magic. There was just a group of individuals working under the same roof.

This also removes mystification from the hiring process: there is no surprise result when hiring and integrating an individual in a team. You will get from that individual exactly their productive power and nothing more. I daresay you also can’t coach, manage, or train someone to be more productive than they innately are or are capable of.

So, to build a great team, hire great individuals. It sounds obvious, but when you’re in the thick of it, it’s kind of not. When you’re on the ground-level not pontificating from a birds-eye view, it’s easy to think a B-player integrated into an A-team still makes for a great result. It won’t. It brings down the group average.

There is no magic. There is no team. There are only really productive individuals. A great team spontaneously forms when a group of really productive individuals collaborate. The magic is in the collective human processing power.

Simulation Overflow: Intervention

In previous posts on simulation theory, I had written with full certainty that our simulation was based on non-interventionist principles. That once a simulation was created, the simulator would not dare interfere in its rote operation as not to taint its outcomes, so that the simulator can observe what interesting results become of each unique fork of a simulation. I had also surmised that the purpose of a simulator creating simulations is for its own intellectual amusement.

I want to make clear that my musings with simulation theory are not just a pastime, but unfortunately what I actually base my spiritual—or lack of spiritual—beliefs on. So it’s quite important that I ascertain I am working with the most reasonable model possible.

An unshakeable thought, however, has recently struck me.

A few months ago I planted a row of several dozen arborvitaes in my backyard, in an attempt to create a privacy barrier between my neighbors and I. The summer here has thus far been dry and rainless, so it was imperative that I gave each plant at least a couple gallons of water 4–5 times a week. For the first few weeks, I was watering the plants by hand. My garden hose flow rate was about a gallon every 20 seconds, so I’d spend about a minute hovering over each plant with the hose until it got its daily dose. Needless to say this was an excruciatingly boring process that sucked me out of half an hour each day.

I decided automation would be key if these plants were to have any chance of survival. So I set up a simple drip irrigation system. You have a long black flexible poly tube that you run through the plants in a horizontal S pattern. Where the tube meets the root of each plant, you pierce a little hole. You connect the tube to your faucet, turn on the water, and droplets of water begin dripping from the holes onto each plant. Slowly but surely, each plant gets its fill.

Initially I had the tube running on the ground level, zig-zagging through each plant in the aforementioned horizontal S formation. On one plant the tube would meet the roots from the front, and the adjacent plant would meet the tube from the back. I had this system running for about a week before noticing the results were suboptimal: only one half of each plant’s root area would be watered. So on some plants only the front half of the soil would be moist, and on other plants, the back half.

I decided to refactor the setup so that instead of zig-zagging on the ground, the poly tube would instead zig-zag through the center of each plant, elevated about 1 foot off the ground. The redesign process was extremely painstaking, but it was the right thing to do. The end result was that each hole in the tube met the plant directly at its center. When the water flowed, drips would begin splatting and hitting the branches and landing in random locations, but overall the distribution pattern meant that I now saw a perfect ring of moistness around the roots of each plant: both halves, front and back, got an equal amount of water. Problem solved.

You see, I had engineered a solution, and when it wasn’t working as expected, I fixed it. I changed things up. I knew what the desired outcome was and found a solution that was more directed towards that outcome.

So why was it with such certainty that I had ascertained in my previous posts that the simulator-thing was non-interventionist, when it could be equally likely that the thing is an engineer? In fact if the universe is fractal and likes to repeat itself at every scale, we are more likely similar to the thing than dissimilar. What does an engineer do when a design isn’t working as expected? The engineer fixes. The engineer engineers.

Does our simulator-overlord fork the universe repository every time it wants to make a change, or does it interject fixes on the master branch? I had previously been cocksure that the thing dare not intervene in a simulation past its initial creation, akin to the watchmaker theory. But if the thing were an engineer, I daresay it probably can’t help itself.

What I like about an interventionist simulation model is that it allows for spirituality, whereas previously I had been at the mercy of a cold and barren scientific interpretation of the universe that made me feel small, helpless, and at the mercy of random unfoldings which you’d be a fool to assign any sentimental value to. While more acceptable in a scholarly scientific setting, I am a human and live my life 99% outside the realm of scientific academia. Science has been absolutely useless to me, if not a harbinger of despair and isolation and a vacuum of meaninglessness.

So fuck it, the simulator intervenes. It grants my wishes when I ask for them. The events that transpire in my life have meaning. My life has purpose.

It seems I’ve arrived at…God…with extra steps.

Science™

Some thoughts on science that deeply conflict me:

  • Science largely does not exist at the scale it does today without capital. Science is funded. There is always a money trail. Take away the capital, and the only science being conducted is in high school chemistry classes.
  • Medicinal science is largely built on the homicidal tenet of when “the benefit outweighs the risk.” The risk is presented (but most times not) to you as a percentage: 1% of people who take this drug may experience a serious, non-reversible reaction. When you are afflicted with a condition, do you take the drug, in spite of the risk? The answer is: this frame has not yet been rendered.
  • No single process inside or outside of this universe knows what is going to happen next. Predictions may be made, some with high statistical ground, but they remain predictions. The only way to figure out what the next frame looks like, or next ten frames will look like, is to render them, in order. (This concept is known as computational irreducibility, and pervades a large part of our universe.)
  • Science is two things to two different camps of people: to people who have never experienced adverse reactions to pharmaceutical products or procedures, science is wondrous, and must be pushed forward so long as the benefit to risk ratio is at least 51/49. To the people whom the tail end of pharmaceutical commercials apply to (“talk to your doctor if you experience…”), health science is a con based on manipulating/marketing people to believe that their for-profit pill or procedure can save their life.
  • Science in most cases must be brute-forced to make progress. Progress is made on behalf of the human whole, but often at the expense of individuals. To develop a pill that can save the life of 10,000, you necessarily have to test it on 100 people, 10 of whom will probably die or develop irreversible diseases. To develop a self-driving car technology, some folks are going to have to get run over.
  • There is inhumane non-compassion felt by those largely on a certain side of the political spectrum that do the bidding of pharmaceutical for-profit companies masquerading as Science™. These people hold that for-profit products developed hastily which lead to some number of humans developing cruel conditions must continue to roll out, because the benefit outweighs the risk, while simultaneously holding that even a single life’s suffering is too much.
  • Science is largely at odds with the doctrine of individual liberty. You cannot simultaneously be pro-science and pro-liberty. Science is necessarily authoritarian, or at least very persuasive. You can’t choose what’s in your water, food, and medicine, and any feeling of control is largely an illusion.
  • There is likely no case in any societal setup where you matter above the average health of the population. You are expendable, because this is what it takes to organize large populations. Case in point: vaccine rollouts don’t stop when one or more people experience an adverse reaction. The show must go on. Likewise, most pharmaceutical products are not removed from market when participants experience fatal reactions. Instead, another comma is simply added to the list of reactions.
  • Medicinal products and procedures largely thrive in environments of information asymmetry: you know infinitely less about what is being sold to you than the creators of the product. If you truly knew what a procedure or product did to your body, you probably wouldn’t take it. So euphemisms are developed to make taking out your credit card easier. Case in point: when you get an MRI, they often inject you with a serum meant to help make the scan images clearer. When you ask the technicians what the product is, they give it really cutesy names like “dye” or “contrast”, and tell you that just drinking a lot of water over the next few days will be sufficient to flush it from your system. The truth? Contrasts are injections of the toxic heavy metal Gadolinium in your body. This gadolinium is retained for the rest of your life in your skull, bones, and bloodstream, even from just 1 administration. Some patients experience permanent adverse reactions to the ever-presence of this heavy metal in their body.
  • I believe there is no turning back at this point. Science is necessarily cruel, but it can likely be said that when you zoom out and inspect the stats on a wide enough timespan, the number of lives saved is greater than the number of deaths caused. On the scale of our own individual lives however, science can fuck you up, no matter how careful you are. And what does a world without science really look like anyway? It may very well be that sciencing is the primary “purpose” of this simulation.
  • Science is cruel, because ultimately aging, disease, maladaptive mutations, and death all fall in the realm of science, before we were ever present to write any of it down. This can’t be changed, but there is one thing that can be: the feigning of compassion by those who champion science relentlessly while simultaneously holding that even one life’s suffering is too much. Science and compassion cannot be on the same side of any spectrum. To those who have been on the bloody edge of science’s sword, there is nothing more painful than seeing it championed as an infallible pro-human enterprise, when in most cases it is nothing more than a profit maximizing scheme. So long as the profit is greater than the threshold of discernible unrest and distrust, the show goes on. The existence of for-profit pharmaceutical companies is not an evil. The emergent evil is the conflation of privately funded science as Science proper, and the championing of this for-profit science by the majority-share impressionables who repeat corporate talking points, euphemisms, and studies as gospel, and decry anyone who dare explore any other interpretation as blasphemous and dangerous. The real danger is feigned compassion.