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Science Fiction: Math is Sideways

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  Ananse Wimbledon-Sutcliffe: You're listening to KSLF public radio, and right now, Padme Omicron-Danforth has been working on a story which has taken the world by storm.  As I understand it, Padme, math is sideways.  Is that right?   Padme Omicron-Danforth: Hi, Ananse.  Yyyyyyes.  Ish. A W-S: How did that happen?  How did math turn sideways?  What does that even mean? P O-D: Alright. First of all, math didn't turn sideways.  In fact, this story, unfortunately, has been a little over-hyped.  Someone in the media, and I'm not sure who, came up with the phrase, "Math is sideways," which is just such a great, punchy, three-word slogan, and it just went viral, and now everyone is talking about how math is sideways, and people are touting this discovery as a giant transformation of our understanding of the universe, as big as when we learned, through Einstein's relativity, that geometry is non-Euclidean, and so forth.... A W-S: Okay, so what's really going on h

Readymade Apocalypse

  Possible apocalypse: eventually everything is turned into readymade art, and no one is allowed to touch anything. (All the food, all people, other art, etc.) I declare your thoughts to be my readymade art - you are not allowed to touch them or change them, but must preserve them - you must keep on thinking the same thoughts forever. Everyone dies of excessive chin rubbing. originally posted to facebook, May 2, 2012

History Is What's Happening

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  The Ex - History is What's Happening (one of the greatest musical recordings of all time) No matter when or where you're reading this, even if it's ten thousand years after I wrote it, or more: The most important history to study and understand is the history that's happening right now.  Whatever's happening right now, when you're reading this, in your world, in your galaxy.  Call that Group A. But you can't really understand the history of Group A, unless you understand its context.  The next most important history to understand is the history that you need to understand in order to understand Group A.  Call that Group B.  Quite likely, this is the history that happened immediately before Group A, but not necessarily.  It's quite possible that you're living at a time when laws that are hundreds of years old are still in effect, when governments that are hundreds of years old still exist.  Or other social forms, social customs, social hierarchies t

Why Write Blogs?

    I write, primarily, to clarify ideas in my own mind.  If other people want to read them, that's fine.   I appreciate it, and I'm grateful if people want to engage critically with these ideas and challenge them.  But ultimately, these writings are not written for other people.  They're written for me.   I write because I'm so forgetful .   If I have an idea, I want to jot it down, or else it will be lost forever - amazingly quickly. I want to have these thoughts in front of me, so that I can compare them, and see whether one idea that I've had makes sense with another idea that I've had.  If it doesn't, that's not the end of the world.  I don't mind being a little inconsistent.   In fact, that can be exciting, for me.  I'm always playing prosecutor against myself.   PROSECUTOR: "If the witness will observe Exhibit A, dated 4-9-21, on this document, you claim that snurgs are blarg.  Yet on this previous document, Exhibit B, dated 8 months

Wickedness makes life worth living.

    One of the problems with the whole "good guys vs. bad guys" thing is that it's mostly the wicked things that make life worth living. Philosophy is a wicked thing.  A philosopher questions, and a question is already a kind of rebellion.  Moral philosophy is a bit of an oxymoron: a philosopher questions the mores of her society, and to do so means, at least at some small, abstract level, to stand outside of these mores. True, many would-be philosophers lack the boldness to be logically rigorous, and to take their questions to the end, hiding behind moral scruples.  And then they wonder why they cannot figure out the meaning of life.  No wonder: for the goody two-shoes, life has no meaning. Aesthetics are all a little wicked.  Art cannot be amoral - art should be immoral. Laughter is a little bit wicked - or at least, the best humor is wicked.  Laughter and horror- these two are intertwined in strange ways, that are not fully captured in the simple word "surprise,&q

Instead of Genders

What if, in the future, there were no genders... there were just 2 options: (1) "dressing up, looking nice, making an effort" - which would probably involve putting on some make-up, doing your hair, wearing flashy clothes and uncomfortable shoes, perhaps with elevated heels, etc... VS. (2) a more practical, comfortable, slackerish look: shirt, pants, sneakers, maybe a sweater if you're cold. (Originally posted to facebook, March 13, 2018)

The Algorithms Have Already Taken Control

What would the world look like if artificial intelligence took over? AI is neither benevolent nor malevolent.  It simply functions.  "The AIs just want to make you happy."  Well, that's almost true.  But is it precise to say that the algorithms "want" anything?  They simply function, and your pleasure and happiness are an important variable in their functioning.  And as they function, they adapt to the pleasure-responses of their hosts. If we like cruelty, then the algorithms will deliver cruelty.  If we like something heartwarming, tender, and intimate, they will package that up and sell it to us as well.   Morphine doesn't want to make you happy either.  Nor does it want you to suffer.  Now imagine a form of morphine that alters its own chemical structure to adapt to the person that is addicted to it.  Everyone has their own, personalized morphine, attuned perfectly to their individual tastes and proclivities.  Rather than the crude geometric shapes and