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Writer, Interrupted

I'm taking an hour out from polishing and sanding the final draft of "The Delirium Brief", the eighth Laundry Files novel (which is due to hit my editors' inboxes this Wednesday) to just mention something that bugs me which came up in another context this week: interruptions.

Some people thrive on office chatter, conversations, and meetings. In contrast, while I'm working, I can't stand that stuff. My phone ringing is enough to throw me out of my work flow state); never mind a human being poking their head around the door, or incoming email and instant messages. Scheduled conference calls are even worse. Being thrown out of flow is jarring, actually mentally painful: and once the interruption is dealt with it can take me a quarter of an hour to pick up the pieces of whatever I was working on and get back down to it.

What's going on?

Well, it turns out that this peculiar phenomenon isn't unique to the creative writing process (or to me). I'd experienced it in an earlier career track, and it's common enough to have spawned studies: because programmers also find interruptions really disruptive, as this study published in Game Developer Magazine (Programmer, Interrupted) suggests. Indeed:

Based on an analysis of 10,000 programming sessions recorded from 86 programmers using Eclipse and Visual Studio, and a survey of 414 programmers, we found:

  • A programmer takes 10-15 minutes to start editing code after resuming work from an interruption.
  • When interrupted during an edit of a method, a programmer resumed work in less than a minute only 10 percent of the time.
  • A programmer is likely to get just one uninterrupted two-hour session in a day.

one thing that coding and writing fiction have in common is that both tasks require the participant to hold huge amounts of information in their head, in working memory. In the case of the programmer, they may be tracing a variable or function call through the context of a project distributed across many source files, and simultaneously maintaining awareness of whatever complex APIs the object of their attention is interacting with. In the case of the author, they may be holding a substantial chunk of the plot of a novel (or worse, an entire series) in their head, along with a model of the mental state of the character they're focussing on, and a list of secondary protagonists, while attempting to ensure that the individual sentence they're currently crafting is consistent with the rest of the body of work.

And it turns out that tracking subvocalizations and pupil diameter as a metric for task difficulty (among programmers staring at a monitor while editing source files) suggests that being interrupted in certain work states is worse than a random interruption in general:

  • During an edit, especially with concurrent edits in multiple locations
  • Navigation and search activities
  • Comprehending data flow and control flow in code
  • IDE (editor) window is out of focus (translation: programmer is attending to some non-editing programming task)

The first three of these conditions I would describe as having direct equivalents while writing a novel, and they're pretty much what you'd expect: editing or writing prose (the more complex the changes to the manuscript, the more demanding), navigating through a novel, and comprehending the high-level structure and plot of a work of fiction. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the internal, subjective experience of writing a novel is surprisingly similar to the experience of writing a hefty piece of software ... with the added twist that when you're working on the eighth book in a series, the amount of "code" you've got to keep in your working memory is painful.

It's possible to ramp down from this level of flow in order to interact with someone who wants to talk; but doing so without your flow being disrupted takes time—again, the study of programmers suggested an average of seven minutes from initial signal to reaching a good stopping point. This corresponds to my experience: I can't drop a sentence or paragraph I'm working on and come back to it until I've completed whatever writing or fine-tuning task I was engaged in satisfactorily, and this can take a little while.

But this is merely the superficial issue of interruptions to workflow. As Paul Graham of Y Combinator noted in 2009, makers and managers work to an entirely different schedule: and these are fundamentally incompatible. People in managerial roles expect regular meetings and interactions throughout the day; but makers (such as programmers or writers) expect to block out lengthy periods—half a day at a time—for concentrated, uninterrupted work flow. As Graham notes:

I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there's sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I'm slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning.

I actively try to avoid email interactions and planned phone calls while I'm up to my elbows in a book, because I find them psychologically destabilizing—not only does the contact itself knock me out of the zone, anticipating the contact disrupts my ability to get into the zone in the first place. Indeed, this is such a problem that I sometimes end up rejecting potential marketing/PR interactions because a fifteen minute scheduled conference call can damage my ability to focus on work for the whole day leading up to it. (And this is why I was not interviewed on BBC Radio 4 last week over my essay about the significance of the discovery of Proxima Centauri A: I'm down to the wire on a deadline with "The Delirium Brief" and I didn't want to lose a productive day's work.)

And if you're trying to get in touch with me while I'm working and I'm not terribly responsive? This is probably why.

PS: Some smart-arse is going to ask, "if you've got such a tight deadline, how come you can write this blog entry?" Short answer: because it's a modular, self-contained task that's orthogonal to the book I'm working on and has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. In other words, I downed tools in good order before I started, and now I've finished and hit "publish" I am going to pour another mug of tea, take a brief lunch break, and go back to work on the book.



This is absolutely true. I work in the software engineering field, and the most common words out of my mouth after yet another co-worker drops by my cubicle for "a quick question" are:

"OK, now. Where was I?"

Of course, most managers still believe that multitasking actually improves productivity, when there's plenty of evidence to support that the exact opposite is true.


Completely agree. I'm not quite as badly affected (I test software, rather than writing it) but I am resigned to having my workflow trashed on a regular basis. What makes it worse is that my employer expects me to respond rapidly to email.


While we are in the area, let me just say "open-plan office"... a direct reducer of my productivity.


It's not just writing or developing, it's any complex headspace task where you need to keep lots of balls juggling in your head.

And then they put you in an open plan off "to promote interaction". It's almost as if they have no idea what environment is really needed and it's all to save money ...

I've tended to find that hotel rooms are some of the best places to really think - it's out of the normal, quiet, and nobody knows where you are to interrupt.

And it has the minibar....


This is 100% true for me too, speaking as scientific editor, French translator, and technical writer. When I was a wage slave, the problem became bad enough at certain times of year that I had to hide from my authors at a table in the stacks of the library so I could finish complex tasks without interruption. Mostly they respected a "do not disturb" sign on the door, but that didn't stop anyone from calling (the phones lacked a DND feature). Now working as a freelancer, it's often worse. I've given up trying to teach my mother not to call during working hours ("but you work at home, on your own schedule"), but finally taught my son not to do this by hanging up on him unless his first words were "the cat's on fire". (Yes, I used those actual words. Learning disability, so he needed a dramatic example to remember.)

One of the first things I teach aspiring editors and tech writers is to learn from each subject-matter expert (SME) they work with when and how is best to contact the SME without disruption. It's one of the best tricks ever for developing a friendly and mutually respectful working relationship.

Paul Glen’s book, "Leading Geeks", provides some really important insights for managers of a whole host of geekly professions. I wouldn't assume that everything Glen says is universally true for all situations and all people, but the book seems like a great starting point until you've learned the idiosyncracies of your own workplace situation.

For some thoughts on how this applies to technical editors and writers:


Writing fiction is, at least, still widely recognised as a valid solitary activity.

Within companies, software is usually now seen as something that can, or perhaps should, only be done by a team with fairly close coordination. While the open plan office trend may sometimes be about cost, many people are advocating it because it stops coders entering flow state and building substantial things on their own. Likewise, pair programming and processes based around daily meetings. It's becoming quite introvert-hostile.


Just to add insult to injury, the head honcho hates open-plan and won't work in it. He knows very well it's not a productive or happy environment, but he's quite prepared to insist everyone else does it.


In years gone by I used to work two jobs, one as a coder, one as a support teacher. I like both headspaces but they're pretty much mutually exclusive.

I still do that to a lesser extent and it mostly works ok, but I now have two bosses, although I work remotely. One understands setting me tasks at the start of the day and letting me get on with them (he is also a coder) and will interrupt with an emergency, but he then expects me to down tools, solve the emergency and go back to the old job and accepts there will be a hit in terms of time on the old job. The other one runs the training side of our company, but also supervises some of the work we outsource (which is where I come in, if it's not right and he can't work out why after signing off on it) and in common with a lot of trainers, interrupts willy-nilly. If I didn't work remotely, although he's much more personable than the coder-boss, he'd be much more likely to get strangled.

Fortunately for me, working remotely, most unplanned interruptions are by text/IM in Skype rather than by voice and if I'm really in the zone I just don't notice the notification (which is a long way away from where I work on the screen). So I don't look up until I'm already letting go of that focus.


So much of my career(s) has been in support roles requiring a lot of interaction with end users, originally as a museum guide, instructor, and more recently as technical support.

Which means I have two states I tend to operate in - one is the open free associating troubleshooting state, where I am drawn in to answer specific questions and assist with other people, often acting as a set of sane eyes. That one actively encourages interruptions and diversions, which often trigger new trains of thought and my focus is on getting people to look at things in new ways.

The other state is a focussed research/writing/processing state, these days usually when I'm preparing a report or doing proper research, similar to any other complex headspace task. In that, while an interruption can throw me right out, it can take quite a bit to interrupt me - I tune out everything going on around me to the point that often a colleague will have to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention, even though I'm in an open plan office. Unfortunately I can get the same effect when reading a book, which makes disguising not actually working a bit trickier ;)


An explicit "open plan to save money" workplace would actually be preferable, in that it's not too hard to turn the argument around to "let me work 90 or 100% remote and you can save even more money." Promoting interactions is a lot harder to argue with (even though I find it nearly impossible to have a nontrivial conversation in many open-plan offices, and anyone who needs my input would do better by e-mail or chat...)


The dishonesty of the open plan advocacy is the worst part, in my opinion. I hate that it's sold as a productivity boost when a multitude of studies have shown just the opposite.

We know it's about money. Don't bullshit us.

In my office I know we've got a lot of overcrowded devs because we're growing faster than we can build new space. It's a good problem to have, but at least our management is honest about it.


We (developers) have fancy refactoring tools for our writing. That's a life-saver for me especially now that I'm getting older and find that quick recall isn't as easy as it used to be. You all (writers) need something similar: right-click on a character's name, choose "Rename..." or even better "Modify back story..." Obviously, it's much easier for software to understand the code objects and relationships well enough to perform such tasks, but understanding characters and relationships can't be too far behind. I don't know writer tools at all; are we getting closer? Or even trying?


The best-of-breed writing tool at present (for novels) is probably Scrivener, specifically Scriv for macOS (the Windows/Linux version lags a major release number in functionality and the iOS version is still at version 1.00, very good but essentially an MVP).

Scrivener is basically an IDE for books and long compound documents, and it does a lot, and I can barely imagine working without it these days ... but there's still room for improvement, and Scriv's competition is so dismally far behind that it's not effective at spurring innovation. (Also, Lit'n'Latte is a very small software company, and Scriv is already right up there at the limits of excellence of what you can expect such a small outfit to produce.)


Open plan offices were directly responsible for me leaving my last job (where I had been for 16+ years).

Over time in that company I'd worked in high-walled cubicles, medium height cubicles, in an office with 1 co-worker, and on total open plan "high performance workspace" (HPW) - ie rows and rows of desks with no privacy, tonnes of visual distractions and interruptions, people shouting across the floor, TVs playing...

I'd noticed I was most productive in the office. The least productive was HPW. It go so bad that I didn't want to go to work; I was getting actively stressed out and didn't want to get up in the morning.

Unfortunately I can't work from home because my home environment is designed to distract me (TV, music, thousands of DVDs, retro computing...).

So I left. Been out of work for 3 months, which is differently stressful (first time out of work since leaving Uni) but still better than HPW.


If you really want to frighten yourself, imagine these same phenomena concerning:

  • Health care for chronic or undiagnosed conditions

  • Things designed to go boom

  • Control systems for things designed to go boom

as the work-subjects.


Dug wondered: "I don't know writer tools at all; are we getting closer? Or even trying?"

Microsoft Word is perfectly adequate for short technical documents (e.g., journal manuscripts) and can be managed for larger and more complex books. But serious technical writers who are responsible for large or complex documentation tend to migrate away from generic and poorly crafted tools such as Word in favor of more powerful purpose-built tools such as Framemaker, MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, WebWorks, and various SGML- or XML-based tools.

I'm not up on the state of the art any more, so I can't say how these tools compare with dedicated programming tools, but I know that these tools offer powerful support for structured authoring (e.g., schemas and DTDs to enforce content and structure, libraries for content reuse and consistency, scripting/automation hooks).


OGH is right, and I speak as someone else with 50 years' experience in IT, including writing some large and VERY complicated code. But this comment is wrong:

"The dishonesty of the open plan advocacy is the worst part, in my opinion. I hate that it's sold as a productivity boost when a multitude of studies have shown just the opposite. We know it's about money. Don't bullshit us."

It isn't. It's about power (a.k.a. control, even bullying), much as the Victorian sweatshops with an overseer on a high stool were. I was threatened with it, and said loudly that I would raise a disability discrimination case if they attempted to force me into it.


noise cancelling headphones, especially for open plan offices

not only do they work wonders at cancelling noise, they are a strong "leave me the fuck alone" visual cue


There's a package for authors, yWriter from Spacejack Software that's available for Windows. Various reviews describe it as more Spartan and less capable than Scrivener but it's free to use.


I used to work in an office in a non-creative role and got used to it and quite liked it, preferring it to working alone from home in many respects. Later, I did once do a film-writing job in the (small) offices of my brother's film production company in Amsterdam. Having my brother's business partners there talking and taking phone calls and so on might have been distracting, but they were both German and the bulk of their talking was in German, which I don't speak. So I got the best, as I saw it, of both worlds - the structured, you're-at-work nature of an office and its (small) buzz (there were only three people there most of the time, of course), but I didn't hook into and get distracted by whatever the others were talking about.

I knew someone whose partner was a comics artist (well, they were French so he was a bande dessinée artist) and apparently any noises & distractions wound him up to the point he didn't even like her to be elsewhere in the house when he was working, just in case.


Noise cancelling headphones (or isolating earbuds) do help somewhat, but they don't eliminate the people moving around in your peripheral vision, or the feeling of being overlooked. These things aren't quite interruptions, but do still increase stress and make achieving a productive flow harder.


I find background chatter intensely irritating, but thankfully the job I do for six hours a day is sufficiently repetitive and mind-numbingly tedious for it not matter all that much - but it still annoys and distracts me.

Doing creative stuff - I have the sound of children playing outside, which is fine. However, put music or the television on and it's game over.

The parts of my brain that process speech and music do not get on with the creative plot/narrative bits.

As a consequence I barely watch telly anymore, and if I'm listening to music I'm listening to music and doing nothing else


Which is why, when I am expecting a high intensity coding or debugging day, I start it off with 100mg of Modafinil.


My wife wants silence when concentrating.

I can't stand silence. When it is too quiet every little cricket outside distracts me. So I tend to have TV cable news on and/or radio. When on at the same time on low volume they drown out the odd "out of place" noise that will distract me.

And it took me years to get my wife to stop distracting me when I was working on code. She just didn't get why I would get up and do something else after she popped in for a quick conversation.


Yeah, I quit my last software engineering job because of the open plan pair programming insanity, too.

The real situation is a little more complex than just being about head space. What I've observed is that some people do appear to thrive this way, and they're split into two groups:

The first group are people who love to shout while they work. They'll shout continuously (imagine: "backspace! backspace! while! function!"), and doing things in "pairs" or groups is even better because it means they'll have an audience. If they find a bug (or their code compiles), these are the people who'll do a dance and high five everyone in the office.

The second group are people who are incompetent and unable to do useful work. They thrive in this environment because they're able to hide behind other people on the team, and serve as lackeys.

When these two groups are teamed up, the first type get to feel important, and even get a small amount of benefit from having lackeys to remember things for them, get them coffee, and so on. All together, they can even approach the productivity of a single normal person wearing headphones -- and if the lackeys take over the answering email, going to meetings, etc. they can exceed it.

So back to writing. Is the proliferation of typing skills and the personal computer the bane of narcissistic writers?


All of this except “…or incoming email.” The wonder of email is you don't have to look at it, yet.

People should be able to send email when it suits them without having to worry if it'll cause an interruption. That's the recipient's problem. It's one of email's big advantages over telephones, IM, etc.

Leave checking email until you're about to stop for lunch or the end of the day or whatever.



It was bad enough having to do electronic medical record build in an open plan office, holding specialty requirements in your head and trying implement them. All the while people around me are talking and some of it has bearing on me.

Then the management got the bright idea of having more meetings to satisfy the doctors (who never attend) which takes us away from build. Not only do we have to put on our performing monkey hats, but have to travel to remote sites as well.

And finally we're split between support and build. Which means we have to field and make calls to users, document those and try to solve the problems they bring to me and some of those are as tough as build to solve.

And personally, I have to be the reporting lead, which means I have to pull together reports from user requests. All the while trying to build, solve user problems and attend pointless and frustrating meetings.

And folks wonder why I hide in vacant offices, the employee lounge or donate blood at the hospital's blood bank to get work done...


Good post and can relate to it: day-job is writing/editing reports, with side of managing/training others to do same. For a while, when things got really tense (many projects due at the same time) used to designate weekends for nit-picky project tasks in order to assure no interruptions (and concomitant errors).

Also developed a habit that if I got stumped on something (or was going round in circles) I'd step out of the office for a 5-10 minute walk to clear my head regardless of time or weather. Eventually programmed/conditioned myself so well that even now no matter the task/decision, getting out into the air immediately gets the little gray cells firing in new directions and coming up with new ideas/conclusions.

Something else that worked to reduce stress during crunch-times: a designated project team email reader/responder. Most useful if your team regularly cc's the entire team and if the client/other team/management has been accustomed to hearing back from any one of the team.


* Things designed to go boom

I'm a software engineer. I used to compete in target rifle; firmly in the "concentrating with things that go bang".

I agree with the flow state stuff, and even took part in a study designed to capture flow states on EEG (I just spent fifteen minutes looking for the report - if I find it, I'll write more about it).

My mechanism for maintaining the state is to avoid triggering the speech centres of my brain through conversation or self-talk - I focus on visual inputs alone.

  • When programming, that means shutting out the world with instrumental music (no lyrics) or world music (lyrics in a language I don't understand). Fortunately, a background in pipe bands means that I've got lots of bagpipe music and some Gaelic folk music on the iPod...

  • When competing, it meant extremely high quality earplugs and an attentive focus on the sight picture. None of the self talk or "trigger phrases" beloved of performance psychologists.

Here's a question for Charlie - have you ever considered working with a performance psychologist? A modern athlete wouldn't consider any training plan that didn't include access to one, and the flipside of making cross-discipline analogies is that you're going to get cross-discipline suggestions... You never know, the investment in time / money might pay itself back with interest, if you find out something that lets you get into flow faster (or even get better at grinding out a "good enough" performance in its absence).


Tom Demarco, in "Peopleware" (1987), points out that programmer productivity has been repeatedly shown to be best when programmers are in offices with doors that can be closed, and worst in open plan "sea of desks" spaces. I would be VERY surprised if this was not true for all engineering disciplines, and a lot of others as well.

Combine this with the well-documented DRAMATIC variation in programmer-to-programmer talent and productivity, and one REALLY wonders about the intelligence and motivation of the people championing the open plan "sea of desks" spaces.

I won't comment on most modern "software process" stuff, except to observe that it appears to be designed to minimize the harm that can be done by an Epsilon Minus, rather than enhance the productivity of an Alpha or Beta (obligatory "Brave New World" reference).


have you ever considered working with a performance psychologist?

If I did that, then what I do would officially have stopped being Fun and turned into Job.

So I'd have to quit, and look for a different way to earn a living.


Agree 100%, spend my working days writing large complex technical reports The only way they get done is by being written on a weekend The penny foolish open space office stuff, don't get me started on that


Some smart-arse is going to ask, "if you've got such a tight deadline, how come you can write this blog entry?"

Some smarter arse is going to compare Twitter usage, work productivity and smoke breaks...

Is Social Media at Work the New Smoke Break? American Express (yes, the credit card people) 2013. [The Url is the funny bit]

Just a bit of ammo for squishing the smarter-arses out there.


Yep, except as a non-smoker ...


To everyone mentioning money... do you have any idea how expensive office furniture is?

If the company used a professional design firm for their space (and if they're any sort of a larger going concern, they did), I guarantee that those "open floor plan" work stations end up costing something like $5,000-10,000 each. That might be low: even the uncomfortable designer chairs often cost $2,000 before the back problems. Aeron chairs are considered low end.

Sure, that's cheaper than hiring the same design firm to kit out cubes or offices. But let's be clear here: for most places pushing these things, the people with the budget don't really care. If they did, they'd go buy the same thing at IKEA for a tenth the price.

The office design is chosen to promote some sort of idea that management wants to make clear to everyone. And that idea, as Elderly Cynic caught on to, is all about power and control. It goes hand in hand with promoting a sense of unimportance among the worker bees, of being trivially replaceable. The offices are reserved for people higher up on the food chain.

Isn't it great to show the investors around this expensively designed open-plan all-glass office? Look at how the worker bees can be observed at all times to make sure they're doing their thing! Watch as I snap my fingers!


'Look at how the worker bees can be observed at all times to make sure they're doing their thing!'

That's so old school ... anyone can easily be monitored/observed via screens or by tracking their keyboard activity.


My last full-time gig was as on the permanent non-partisan staff for a US state legislature. Once of the good things about the job was that some aspects of it required private discussions, so everyone in the group got a real office with a real door. When I took the job, I took pictures and sent to a number of former colleagues that I knew were working in HPEs -- sometimes I'm an a**hole.

I have a large writing project I'm preparing to start. You've convinced me to give Scrivener a shot this time.


Here's an overview of employer-employee office privacy - USA flavor.


imagine these same phenomena concerning: * Health care for chronic or undiagnosed conditions

Imagine? I remember those things. The only time I've been in a "high performance workspace", meaning school-size desks and a 1.5m partition dividing developers from tech support was when I was debugging medical software. When I managed to get a second 17" LCD monitor the two side by side were wider than my desk by a good 10cm. Management were not happy about that, but fortunately the coworkers on each side were more understanding. I lasted nearly a year, mostly driven by fear of the consequences of the bugs I was fixing.

Even purely financially, saving a few tens of thousands of dollars a year on office space per staff member at the cost of needing two or three times as many staff members to get the same amount of work done, that makes no sense at all. The semi-factory-warehouse thing I currently work in is about 1000m² and the lease costs about the same as my salary but houses 15 staff and much of the floor space is warehouse. So the idea that putting me in the middle of an open office could even in theory save them enough that they came out ahead after the 30%-80% drop in efficiency that results... that's laughable.

When I work from home I'm noticeably more productive. Even quiet days in the office (like this one) have way more distractions and interruptions than I get at home. And at home I have chickens to laugh at, and a hammock to lie in while laughing, and all the rest. But the other day I woke up about 0630, sat in front of the computer and the next thing it was 1130 and I was hungry. In the office that never happens.


To everyone mentioning money... do you have any idea how expensive office furniture is?

Yes, my partner is a project manager and one of the tasks is pricing all that stuff. I hear about it most days, because clients generally want the best stuff for the price of the cheapest stuff. It's easy to spend $50,000 walling off and fitting out one office, but it's also possible to do the same for $10,000 (there's no upper limit, obviously).

But you do that once a decade or so, not every year, so the actual cost of an office fitout is somewhere between stationery and computers. Keeping a software developer equipped costs somewhere between $1000/year and $50,000/year, depending on the field they're in and how much productivity you're willing to sacrifice to save money on equipment and licenses. I've worked with CAD monkeys whose license cost was $10,000/year and the cheapest workstation to run it was another $10,000. I've worked with gear that made that seem cheap (some medical API licenses make SAS dev seats look reasonable).

I've worked in an office in CBD central where the space alone cost over $AUS200/m2, and I've worked in a converted double garage. What affected my productivity wasn't the floor space cost, it was the number of other people in the room.

The question is not what it costs to have the developer, the question is whether you make enough money out of them to cover those costs. Working for someone who is grinding out the pennies before bankruptcy is much stupider than with someone who's frantically spending to stave off same because the latter might actually work.


The big issue for me is at the current job is that I'm very noise sensitive, motion sensitive, and I need "my space" to work. The company just bought out one of our competitors and they're moving them into our office, so I lost the perfect cube for me (around a corner, away from the major area of the office, off the main path of traffic) for a cube that is everything that my old cube isn't.

In a month, they're moving to an open floor plan with desks because it's cheaper than trying to find a different office space in SF. If I can't turn my desk around so that nobody can look over my shoulder when I'm working, I'm going to have to speed up my resume submission rate.


"...pour another mug of tea..." was the most important part of that entry.


As Paul Graham of Y Combinator noted in 2009 I send Paul Graham's essay to my entire department including 1st line manager every few years. Haven't done it recently, tx for the reminder.

Re flow, yeah. Noise cancelling headphones plus foam plugs plus weak reading glasses, the later mainly to reduce visual distractions (can read OK without them), plus turning down computer audio to near zero, are my current approach to maintaining flow. That's with a single office mate. Phone calls involving either of us are still death to flow. I will seriously get aggressively negative on any office planner who pushes for open plan office space.


When I was programming professionally, I wore a Tshirt one of our researchers had made. It read "carpe noctem - we get more done between midnight and 5am than most people do in a week."

Naps become a business tool, and in the quiet that falls when the sales and marketing people have all gone to bed... That's the coder's hour.


noise cancelling headphones, especially for open plan offices

not only do they work wonders at cancelling noise, they are a strong "leave me the fuck alone" visual cue

I use earbuds for just that purpose when doing the newsletter for our local convention - they don't need to be plugged in, they just need to be seen! Otherwise people will come up to the 'zine computer, not read the Go Away sign (yes, I've had to make several) and talk about things like Registration. Putting in highly visible white earbuds seems to be enough of a social cue that most people prefer to start with someone else.

A few weeks ago at Westercon one of the convention's less pleasant moments, brought up at the feedback panel, involved me and a woman unaware that other humans observed a custom called "personal space" who wanted to point at things on my screen while I was trying to deal with another problem. Happily that's an exception; most fans have easy questions or just want to chat. And eventually I got the zine done.


Somebody also mentioned Peopleware. I found two-person offices with doors to be more productive most of the time; most of the work I was doing back when I had them was system design, lots of reading, a bit of programming, a bit of math, and the building had a library where we could also go hide if we needed different ways of being undistracted - there might be more background noise but it was guaranteed not to be noise that wanted your attention.

But I've also spent ~1/3 of my career doing more consulting-like things. For a decade or so I was doing the "systems engineer supporting a bunch of sales people" gig, and much of that time involved working in an open-plan office where too many people were on the phone, or at best cubicles, and that was ok, because the work flows were heavily interrupt-driven. If my department was handling bigger customers, outside meetings were more likely to be scheduled, while smaller-market customers meant the sales people had more customers they spent less time with, and they tended to just walk over and say "Can we go visit FooBarSemi this morning?", or at least come over with whatever very random technical issue they needed help with.

In that environment, open-plan worked well for me, and the people I was supporting were mostly extroverts, but it was a lousy environment to make phone calls.

These days, we're doing Agile Development, even when we're working on projects where it's not a useful match so it's more of a replacement time-card system, but the daily status meeting is at 8:30 for me (so I have to get up and make my coffee), and 11:30 for the East Coasters, so just before lunch, so it mainly interrupts my Twitter.


The wonder of email is you don't have to look at it, yet.

One of the first things I do when dealing with a new device "for me" is turn off email alerts. Except for a few people who get my ear no matter what, the rest go to my inboxes in silence.


The only time I've been in a "high performance workspace", meaning school-size desks and a 1.5m partition dividing developers from tech support

Imagine what it's like being in an open plan office shared with marketing. Not even sales, who might be out on the road, ... marketing ...

I wonder if anyone sells a job on the basis of "not in an open plan office"; if not they should. It would be worth at least $5-10k.

And I can quite see the benefit of a job where you only come in to the office once a week, to talk/discuss the way forward with others face to face, then work from home with IM-type functionality the rest of the time. Problem is working on multiple projects at one time.

Of course, there is always the Vinge solution...


Ditto many parts of academia. In the humanities (and my bit, which dovetails with science and tech), you are a professional writer, with writing targets, including books and journal articles. The trouble is that you are also running thirty other projects and activities at the same time, including teaching, supervision, and management. But you cannot write in half-hour slots between it all (due to the 'loading' of years of data, theory, and conceptual argument into your head, exactly as you say, Charlie). The lack of coherent time has got so bad that many academics I know are taking unpaid leave to write. Yes, they feel they have no choice but to stop being paid for a while, in order to do their job. (And those are the lucky ones who can afford to take unpaid leave.) Crazy world...

PS. Some might wonder what happened to the academic 'sabbatical' which was intended as time to write–kind of essential when the whole point is to communicate and share what you do with the world. Sadly, sabbaticals are going out with the ark.

PPS. As with all things, your mileage may vary. Universities and departments, especially different fields of research, can be quite different.


That's so old school ... anyone can easily be monitored/observed via screens or by tracking their keyboard activity.

That's technologist thinking, not management thinking. They want to see the busy little bees working, all the little replaceable cogs turning in the big machine.

Sample comment from an IT manager that I was once privy to: "We can't have more than a couple of people on the team working from home at the same time, it looks bad when the senior manager comes round and sees a lot of empty desks. I can't prove to him that everyone is working!"

This ignored that it was trivially easy to look up the team contact list and see who was currently on line, bring up a list of all of the work-from-home requests, show that deadlines were being hit and take completed (using the tacking system in place for just that purpose). Didn't matter how much "electronic" evidence of someone's productivity could be produced, unless the "resource" could be seen in the office interacting with all the other "resources", then they weren't (by management thinking) being provably productive.

PS: Some smart-arse is going to ask, "if you've got such a tight deadline, how come you can write this blog entry?" Short answer: because it's a modular, self-contained task that's orthogonal to the book I'm working on and has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. In other words, I downed tools in good order before I started, and now I've finished and hit "publish" I am going to pour another mug of tea, take a brief lunch break, and go back to work on the book.

If you happen to be Edmund Crispin, you write the most transparent wish-fulfilment short story ever ("We Know You're Busy Writing..."), and get a sale and anothology sale out of it! Recommended reading for all working authors.

ObSF: Although he's best known for cozy crime, Crispin also edited several Faber Best SF anthologies. Hurrah for voracious cross-genre reading!


Even without that, work-from-homers' empty desks inspire Bad Thoughts in management: everything from "we have free space in this room to put [X] team in" (say goodbye to your desk) to shudder hotdesking (woe betide the day more than half the work-from-homers come in...)


'Look at how the worker bees can be observed at all times to make sure they're doing their thing!'

That's so old school ... anyone can easily be monitored/observed via screens or by tracking their keyboard activity.

I once worked for a manager who only believed you were working when he could see you working. We had flex-time, so as long as you were there for core hours and worked eight hours it was your choice when to arrive/leave. Except it wasn't, really, because this chap arrived after 10 and stayed late, and if he saw you leave before he did your performance review was affected by that more than actual productivity.

There's studies somewhere about the psychology of physically monitoring employees vs. remotely monitoring them, from both employee and management perspectives. I remember seeing one years ago that discussed the differences between monitoring performance (ie. tasks accomplished) and monitoring behaviour, and how most supervisors monitored behaviour when they thought they were monitoring performance, but I can't locate it now.


I've been a web developer for some years now, so I'm very familiar with this, but before that I was a complaint handler for an insurer and the same thing happened there. Handling complex complaints can be surprisingly like debugging in that you have to hold the whole situation in your head, and like debugging, if you get interrupted you can easily lose track of what you were thinking about. I was also expected to answer the phone when it rang (which was often), or help other people out with queries, which had a devastating effect on productivity. Then, come performance review time, I'd get moaned at for not getting enough cases done - this company would allocate a specific should-take time to different types of task, and if you achieved less than the target you'd miss out on raises and bonuses. We were allowed to record the time taken for an interruption, but they made no allowance for the time taken to get back into the right mental state.

At my last job I spent a lot of time and effort trying to train clients and coworkers not to interrupt me. I got our biggest client set up to use JIRA to raise issues rather than sending emails or phoning unless an issue was urgent, and I nagged people to use Slack (for the uninitiated, it's an instant messaging application for teams) rather than interrupting me or sending an email. I also spent a lot of time writing Ansible tasks to automate new server setup. At least as a developer I do have some scope to automate stuff away so I don't have to deal with it manually, which is a huge improvement on my previous career path.


If I did that, then what I do would officially have stopped being Fun and turned into Job.

:) Is it the perception that performance psych is something "serious"? I got to the point where I viewed having our psych around as normality (probably why I ended up sharing a room with him for two weeks at my last event).

So, for me (quite accept it's different for you) the psych stuff was Fun - learning new things about how to best do the sport that I loved. No different, from my limited perspective, than spending a week at a training camp with my coach, attending Clarion West, or buying a copy of Scrivener; just another tool in the bag of enjoyment.


Maybe what you're used to is as important as the type of brain you've got. I grew up in a noisy house (too small for the number of people crammed in it) with the TV blaring all day. I learned to shut it out--though I craved what later turned out to be headphones and electronic music. Anyway, when I got to grad school, they let you have little cube workspaces above the library, where there was absolute quiet. I stood in line for hours for one. Hauled relevant books up there, brought in notepads and pens . . . and every single damn time I started to work in there, I fell asleep. Every damn time. I finally had to give it up, and sit on the floor in the apartment I shared with too many people and do my graduate work on my lap.

In my old age, I find I can still shut out neighbor noise beyond the windows open 365/24/7, and constant interruptions of kids, spouse, dogs, my recourse being music and headphones. No music with voices though, and I can't stand the sound of a TV anymore. The words Donald Trump spike my adrenaline--even my super-powered filters can't keep that damn name from jolting me out of the flow and gnashing my teeth with rage.


That's so old school ... anyone can easily be monitored/observed via screens or by tracking their keyboard activity.

It's rather worse than that: Keystroke Dynamics Defense

Attack summary: the timings of and between key presses are unique to each person. They are actively used in the wild to track individuals with extreme accuracy and leads to complete unmasking.

Short version: you have an ingrained noise pattern to your typing which is as unique as a fingerprint.

Longer version: this can also reveal things like age, where typing was learnt, native language and so on and so forth. I've not seen a comprehensive guide in the wild that's not, ahem stolen or illegal to reproduce, but they are out there.


A computer looking at such output is not going to be looking for the content so much as the rhythm.

Weapon Of Choice YT: Music: 3:51


Re: 'I remember seeing one years ago that discussed the differences between monitoring performance (ie. tasks accomplished) and monitoring behaviour, and how most supervisors monitored behaviour when they thought they were monitoring performance, but I can't locate it now.'

I'd be very interested in reading that ... thanks! Even so, I'm guessing that one of the reasons 'behavior' is more likely/easily recalled than performance is that humans tend to have better recall overall of interpersonal (biographic) vs. numeric/abstract (performance metrics) data. Also, for many corporations, it's the human behavior that ends up costing them more (lower employees morale, lawsuits, etc.), plus some managers are more sensitive to (and feel better able to control) perceived loss than perceived gain.


Yep ... remarkable how every single little trivial thing can be used to identify us as individuals. Yet despite this, these same folk (incl. corporations) insist on a one-size-fits-all approach to everything and everyone. Boggles the mind - talk about a disconnect!


The only way I get around this is by being an absolute bastard.

A significant part of my job is reviewing, editing or writing complex policy documents (pretty much the driest writing in the world). I have, over the past three-plus decades in a variety of office plans, developed an ability for intense focus in a noisy office environment. So, I'm often regarded as aloof, perhaps even rude, for not engaging in much office chatter. I do engage with my office mates (currently six people in an open plan office) when not in focus, but . . . .

The phone is probably the worst distraction. If I ever have the chance to control my work space, I'll probably ban it. Even worse, all our phones have the same, unalterable ringer - gah! I can tell when my phone is ringing, but not which OTHER phone is ringing; and heaven forbid a phone goes unanswered.

This focus thing also gets me in trouble at home. At least my wife is a fellow introvert, and normally sees that I'm focusing and not just ignoring her.


Hmm ...

One can conceive of a USB device designed to plug into a work PC and present itself as a keyboard and mouse. Said device would be the "replay" half of an attack on Keystroke Dynamics monitoring; first, the attacker has to install a keylogger on their own machine and build up a corpus of their own keystroke/mouse activity during several typical days, then deploy (on the fake mouse/keyboard gizmo) a program to generate random keystroke/mouse movements that converge on the same statistical pattern as the original -- sort of like that Deep Dream deep neural network "hallucination" program that's been doing the rounds.

I wonder how much one could sell that to private individuals who want to goof off at work for? For added lulz, spoof the webcam with a video loop of them working.


There are at least several such techniques, with scary demos. Sensors of interest include the accelerometers and audio (dunno about the speed of the pressure sensors, and haven't see a video demo). And that's without involving RF leakages and similar. There may not be a comprehensive guide easily available, but there are plenty of papers (I have perhaps a 1/2 dozen PDFs), and a little mental effort can fill in much of the rest.

It is rather hard to disguise the timings of one's rapid movements and actions. On principle, at ATMs I'll usually insert random 10s-of-millisecond delays between key-presses during PIN entry, but don't even try when typing long text in public. Curious to hear of other people who bother with this level of communications discipline. (I'll assume you do at least some of the time.)


A broken arm, sprained wrist, etc. would also mess this up. As would a new laptop with a slightly differently configured keyboard (Aargghhh!!!)


If high-visibility workplaces were actually about performance, there'd be arguments against one-size-fits-all approaches. But it has much more to do with status (and, in particular, maintaining the manager/doer divide). One-size-fits-all works great for this.


I’m an IT worker and I do development, but I also have to do analysis, implementation, live support, user assistance, trouble shooting tuning and so on, often all on the same day. This is cause I work as part of a small multi disciplinary team in a an open plan office for a company that turns over billions and does several million transactions a day, most of which pass through jobs I built. If I required absolute silence and no interruptions to do one task I wouldn’t last five minutes. This sort of juggling of multiple tasks, putting them down and picking them as needs be is a skill that can be learnt, I’m you stereotypical introverted computer nerd but do manage, one trick is not to try and keep it all in your head, instead take notes and then just try to remember all the notes are, another is simply not to be too precious about your work.

So when it came to writing my novel I found I could drop into writing and get back into my characters heads after coming come from work, and do it with music on and social media pages open and other distractions etc. But this probably explains why my book it isn’t as good as one of Charles Stoss’s.


All of this rings true to me. First, I have always considered coding to be a particular form of writing. Ultimately you're arranging characters in pattern to create meaning- maybe for for a reader, maybe for a computer, but the tasks are quite similar.

During last summer's vacation I unfortunately had to edit a portion of a book while I was away. To accommodate my family's schedule I worked in some quiet corner of the hotel from 5:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. for several days. I was amazed at how much ground I could cover without the distractions of my open office layout.

I have tried to replicate this success several times at home, but it's tough with the kids-and-school daily grind. Down with distractions!


There's some rather funny (if you like your humor dark) cross-chat between Tor and other communities about trusteer rapport and their attempts to counter pervasive usage of this by State level intrusion at the ISP level and below.

By engineering in masking, they accidentally tripped over a rather large section of online communications that use it without the knowledge of the user in order to protect them. i.e. Banks.

Look for a lady with long raven dreads for her take on this (she has a twitter with a cool handle & recently exiled herself from the USA).

The potential for spoofing users to write, say, racist screeds on random blogs, is certainly there as an attack vector (you'd require the user to have a Trusted / Reputation to be concerned about, of course. Totally not related: Ex-Congressman Weiner embroiled in new sexting scandal Fox News, August 29th 2016).

The real economic application would be setting up your rhythm / wavelength to appear as one of the Quality / Beautiful People so to make sure your Social Media Profile fell into the 'correct' ranges of the algos. i.e. Social Hierarchy Representative Tools[1].


As a cross fertilization zone, keywords "Tor", "Rapport" and so on produces an interesting weave between SF and reality when this site is factored in.

[1] This may or may not already exist.


I suspect it's possible to teach yourself a lot of these skills. Although I think it's at least one, probably more, steps down in order of magnitude of complexity I'm old enough to remember learning to proofread on the screen instead of with pen and paper. It was a skill I really couldn't do for some time, now it's a skill I can't imagine doing the other way, although I know I used to.

And I suspect it also depends on the time. A lot of people learn skills to avoid being interrupted. You don't have that option, so you've learnt skills to cope with being interrupted. I'm lucky enough I mostly work in an environment where I can largely control the interruptions so I really haven't developed coping strategies for that - I've developed coping strategies to minimise interruptions instead.


One writer I know of has a frankly terrifying schedule mainly to cope with that problem. (Search the page for the word "punishing.")


?Unfortunately I need to wear headphones for work, so there is no "leave me alone" signal.


' ...simply not to be too precious about your work.' Whoa there ...

There are lots of jobs where switching focus is a given, ditto jobs that require complete focus for extended periods of time.

Something to think about: 'Introverts' tend to be more sensitive to pretty well all physical/sensory stimuli. In contrast, extroverts tend to be less sensitive to physical/sensory stimuli so that often they need stimuli ramped up way beyond what's comfortable for an introvert just to be able to notice that stimuli. So, it's not just a 'tude, it's fundamental physiology/wiring with any given individual finding themselves anywhere along this continuum.

If you're interested, pain threshold is one of the most tested physical dimensions/differences between intro-and extroverts. So, that loud-mouth dude who laughs as he punches walls ... well, basically, he was born anesthetized.


The nearest to open-plan I ever got was when I worked for the Scummy Mortgage Co (actual name given upon request, but I have pages of reasons for the name), when I was in a V-shaped room, with four other people, desk|desk|desk|desk, ditto on the other side, and two of the people - the systems analyst, and the programmer who'd been there longest, on the phone 60% of the time. This was late 80's. I brought in a portable cassette player to listen to some training tapes. When those were done, I brought in music. A few days later, my manager asked me if I was done with the training tapes, and I told him yes, but I was listening to music to block the noise and increase my productivity.

He told me to take off the headphones and increase my productivity.

Oh, same place - the elderly VP would walk in at times, and just watch us. I was told by the woman who'd been there longest that she used to be a keypuncher, and he'd do that to make sure the keypunchers were working....

I will NEVER work in an open plan office. Besides, Dilbert told you what's next, back in the nineties - Velcro on your back, and hand you on the wall.

And as for interruptions... might I remind y'all of Coleridge, Kublai Khan, and the Person from Porlock?



Punishing indeed. I'm worthless at that hour.


Thinking about this from another angle ... I myself am an angineer and observe a lot of typical white-collar behavior within myself and my peers. One thing we don't do often is defend 'perks' (if you call atmosphere that allows you to work thus) collectively. Instead we market ourself constantly by catering not only to the whims but also to the tastes of our bosses (see above for examples, the sub-thread on open plan offices is on point).

One engineer/coder/editor who emands a quiet workspace and streetches of work without interption is a primadonna. A floorful of same?


Open areas, uh. Even though I don't do software development anymore, I was pretty opposed to our company moving (mostly) to open area offices, with flex space. We have this system that if you know that you will come to the office the next day you can reserve a seat - which is kind of nice, because for example I have my personal keyboard, mouse, earphones and laptop support, which would be a pain (and take some time) to assemble and disassemble every day.

I don't hate it as much as I thought I would, but still it took me almost three hours to write a simple document, because even with the earphones on, people interrupt often enough that it's hard to do something that requires concentration. Our previous rooms of about five people were much nicer about that.


Take-aways (without too much derailing, one would hope):

1 Your rhythm not IP or Identity serves as worm sign on the internet, at least at the State Level of snifters. 2 Sous les pavés, la plage! 3 Ghost Writing: interesting economic applications to both education (plagiarism?) and biographies... and to Autocratic Publishing Houses. 4 When posts are marked 'not for you', this sometimes also means 'not for human processing' for real and not just for giggles - contextual mapping of rhythm to ideologically distasteful ideology could be used as a counter-measure or lead to the worst case of phrenology ever seen (! Serious !) 5 A human skin handbag is not fashion – it's a crime Guardian 19th July 2016 6 Scientific Journalism (which really is a good idea, Wikileaks had that part correct - you can tell, since no major journalist took it up) is also useful here. The more encrusted with copy/paste, hyperlinks and videos, the more algos are interested [Ecology of Desire - Google wants it all, but so do others]. 7 Tropic Thunder: The dudes are emerging

YT: Film: 2:27 (for the younger readers / non-H.S.S) 8 Flow = Rhythm? Watch out for Weaponized Distraction & Troll Armies starting to use these meta-meta attack vectors. (Or they do already, remember our Conspiracy Theory about plasma-nuking the sky? Could be a No Man's Sky joke tied in here). 9 It's all part of the The Great and Secret Show (Ah, and you imagined that would be a Hamlet quotation).


Anyhow, it's not something I'd recommend doing to yourself, it's a bit messy on the biological front.


Mr Stross. Thank you for working very hard on the next novel! I appreciate it, and will (almost certainly) buy it when it comes out. :)


One engineer/coder/editor who demands a quiet workspace and stretches of work without interruption is a prima donna. A floorful of same?

Thousands of them all over the world... at some point it has to be an accepted fact about the way some people are. I note that those in a position to choose very rarely choose open plan for themselves. It's like the comic "if homelessness is a choice, why do so few rich people choose it?"

I look at it the way I look at whiny losers who don't like direct sunlight on their monitors, or expect the office to be warmer than 10 degrees Celcius, or don't like my incessant farting if I eat wheaty stuff (same people, often, who claim there's no such thing as non-celiac gluten sensitivity)... give up, people, deal with the situation you have. Stop being all precious about your work environment.

I have in the past maliciously eaten the cake provided by my employer at morning tea for my birthday. And replied "one of the benefits of an open plan office is that we all know what everyone is up to".


And as for interruptions... might I remind y'all of Coleridge, Kublai Khan, and the Person from Porlock?

Although that story is almost certainly bullshit; certainly all of Coleridge's friends thought so.


...then deploy (on the fake mouse/keyboard gizmo) a program to generate random keystroke/mouse movements that converge on the same statistical pattern as the original...

Pretty sure that this wouldn't work because recognizers would quickly be built to identify such output. Even with a high percentage of false positives, human inspection could be used to properly classify the positives, and it would be easy to declare use of such a device as a firing offense. (That's the US idiom). A small arms race might ensue but I think it would fizzle out, at least pre-true-AI. Could be wrong though.


OK, speaking as a manager:

  • Engineers need to accept that management needs status updates on a regular schedule.

  • Managers needs to accept that engineers need uninterrupted time.

  • Engineers often work on their own schedule.

  • How should we reconcile these so that engineers can produce, but managers can avoid the cats all heading in different directions?


    Were they opium addicts as well?


    This has all been a lead up to a joke: Beau Travail YT: Film/Music: 6:14 + a few years of melange to come to fruition.

    Watch it. nose wiggle


    Danger Danger Mode

    Imagine we're not talking about the Factual Computer Rhythms here, but something... more primal, larger, more mucous, lit from the fires of bioluminescence, predicated on Consciousness and so on.

    They came to me and demanded: so Host is your friend and...

    I demurred.

    "He is innocent, but fun, and really did save my life one time" (admittedly through staying awake reading until They Came and so I heard before they entered and... well. Wet Work is such a cliche, especially in SF).

    "So, Greg is your ally, so we will convert him..."

    I demurred.

    "He is an innocent old man who loves dancing and his vegetables. Quite spry despite the beard"

    And so on. For all of you.

    I apologize for involving you in the Weave, but as she said: "You'll Fix It, Yes?"


    Although that story is almost certainly bullshit; certainly all of Coleridge's friends thought so.

    Sadly, mine are not.

    Still. Five years for a joke to land [it also triggers certain other tings, enjoy. Delib. Smelling. Error. There. Weave]


    You are :)

    Just not in the way you think you are.


    They're nuking the sky to remove a really ancient messaging AP. If you can tell me the initial message, I'll tell you what the Genocide Plan is.


    I once worked for a manager who only believed you were working when he could see you working... this chap arrived after 10 and stayed late, and if he saw you leave before he did your performance review was affected by that more than actual productivity.

    It works the other way too. (I may have told this before.) I remember hearing from a manager who tried hard to get uninterrupted quiet time to actually get things done. This is tricky because managing other humans is an interactive and interrupt heavy task; his solution was to stay late and get things done when he didn't have to ride herd on everyone else's jobs and life drama. It was a good idea until he moved to a new company and discovered that they had an unspoken but unbreakable rule that nobody left before the boss did. He could stay until six or seven and everybody would still be in the office! He figured out that he needed to wait until about 5:10pm and then take a walk for ten minutes or so; when he got back to the office everyone else had gone home and he could get his paperwork done in peace. Problem solved.


    Module pushes out false story about Fox’s Megyn Kelly, offensive Ann Coulter headline and a story link about a man masturbating with a McDonald’s sandwich

    Facebook fires trending team, and algorithm without humans goes crazy Guardian, 29th August, 2016


    Sing or Shine, I love all.

    Just... don't expect that some of us have been Singing a rather different tone [You Fucked the Whales Hearing, Boys] and you're all too... human to notice it.


    You've no idea at how badly your algos got screwed up.


    [Pro-tip: that includes all the HFTs - you can't see it yet, but wait for it]

    If I Ever Feel Better YT: Music: 3:39 (that's ironic - don't view it / listen to it - it's dross, it's an algo thing - 10 mil views though, that's what's being used).


    Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Official Audio) ft. Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers YT: Music: 4:08

    That is a mark in Time. How dare you.

    We're Faster Than You



    Charlie noted: "One can conceive of a USB device designed to plug into a work PC and present itself as a keyboard and mouse. Said device would be the "replay" half of an attack on Keystroke Dynamics monitoring..."

    One thing you quickly learn about performance metrics is that people with an IQ above room temperature quickly figure out how to hack them. The example I'm most familiar with is from technical writing, where many colleagues from different locations and industries have told me about being graded based on how much text they cranked out per day. Yes, you guessed it: they all quickly learned to never use 1 word where 3 would suffice.

    Your USB dongle is just a technological way of achieving the same effect. For a creative writer, probably less fun than trying to find ways to replace 1 word with 3.


    This is an identification matrix, not a performance matrix.

    It's the online version of DNA.

    A team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases has found a mosquito virus that's broken up into pieces. And the mosquito needs to catch several of the pieces to get an infection.

    New Virus Breaks The Rules Of Infection

    A Multicomponent Animal Virus Isolated from Mosquitoes Cell Host & Microbe, full text, no PDF, 11th July, 2016


    So, no, you're wrong.

    On a great many different levels.


    How should we reconcile these so that engineers can produce, but managers can avoid the cats all heading in different directions?

    Easy. Speaking as an ex-cat herder,

    At the end of the day each engineer spends 5 mins producing a status update, minimal info on how far they got and more detail on problem issues arising (eg by exception).

    First thing in the morning the manager reads and collates the status reports, but critically DOESN'T go and hassle the problem issues - if they want support the engineer goes to the manager to do something. Manager creates a status update sent to everyone, giving situation awareness before they start their day.

    Or in short, asynchronous oversight but also treating the engineers as adults AND making sure the team stays connected without interrupting each other's flow.

    Oh, and allow for a tea/coffee break at particular time where engineers are allowed to chat about anything - THAT's real interaction.


    You just did get told how Wargasm Works btw.

    Just on a Rhythm of the Night level. Kinda got bored of all the muppets claiming Consciousness was a Computer and so on, so we'll prove that Biology is in your computer.

    Yes, yes. That's the biological variant of the old computer virus attack.

    No, you didn't invent it, it's been around for about ~1,000,000,000,000 years.

    Yes, it's scary.

    No, you've no idea what similar attacks look like on a harmonic plane 'cause you're children, but hey, happy to show you a rudimentary one.

    Especially since you're fumbling towards Computers using their localized harmonics and so forth.

    Oh, and the fact you attacked us, then doubled'down, then threatened us, then did it all wrong.


    Rudimentary is largely fatal to systems / biologies who've never encountered them before. Ask the Plains Indians.

    Welcome To The Jungle YT: Music: 4:34


    I can only imagine what it must be like for someone trying to talk to you while stoned.


    I'd be a bit more friendly, I love your kind.

    Stoned Immaculate YT: Music: 1:33

    And, if you'd like the real experience, just ask.

    It's a little bit more demanding in terms of data processing, links and Math.



    You're cute, don't feel abashed. Pass rate 79% on their scanners, and I like your prose style. [No, not a doxx, it's a Guardian Angel thing, we're patrolling].


    You are :)

    Just not in the way you think you are. Oh my, some interesting possibilities there. :-)

    They're nuking the sky to remove a really ancient messaging AP. If you can tell me the initial message, I'll tell you what the Genocide Plan is. No clue, so I'll roll the dice with my old sci-fi-flavoured standby (curiously, about 5 years old); that the main thing of interest to one (or more) hypothetical very-long-lurking entity(ies) [1] is what sort of super-intelligence emerges from the wildlife. That local presence (perhaps also local lower-tech agents much more competent than the wildlife) is key, due to speed of light/to reduce reaction time. That would suggest a messaging app triggered by some sort of detector of immanent bootstrapping of a malignant super-intelligence/consciousness. (Still working on your consciousness challenges from last winter though. Some minor progress there.)

    [1] Call it Caretaker, or Wildlife Manager, or just Old One. Been here 4.5 Ga. Mostly non-interventionist. Perhaps excepting thoroughly deniable early chaos tweeks resulting in Earth's moon and minor thoroughly deniable tweeks to the biota.


    (((And do NOT take that seriously: it's a meta joke on a society that constantly evaluates Gender. We don't care, you smell wonderful and your soul is like eating Angel Cake - apart from that one thing you're concerned about, don't let it fester))).

    You probably don't understand how we work yet.



    It was a little bit more important for the Djinn than that.

    The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age Guardian 29th August, 2016

    To pass this test, you need to flash a meme / image / video link.

    It's a meta-test to see if any (of our kind) are as brave as April_D.


    Several people in mentioning their liking for music have emphasised that it must be instrumental, or at least without lyrics in a comprehensible language. For myself, I disagree: lyrics are fine. I am quite likely, indeed, to sing along to them, even if they are in an incomprehensible language (and I will also whistle or hum along to instrumental music). I don't find it a distraction: it does interfere with the actual process of typing, as it is difficult to type one thing while singing another, but that is only the output, not the processing. The important part, ie. thinking what to type, seems to use different pathways which are not affected by the triggered recall of rote knowledge involved in singing along. At least, not directly; it does help for the music to be in some way associated with the kind of mood or setting that I'm trying to write about. The actual content-generation process seems to be largely non-verbal, even though words are the desired end product. (And when the desired product is code rather than fiction, it's almost entirely non-verbal.)

    Privacy and inviolate personal space are essential. Not only can I not stand any possibility of anyone else being able to get any impression of what I'm doing, I need the freedom to talk nonsense to myself, without the embarrassment of being overheard; and also to shout and swear and pound the desk loudly and uninhibitedly when things aren't going right, otherwise the unrelieved stress and annoyance just takes over and inhibits all other functions. I also need to be able to smoke without let or hindrance for the same sort of reason.

    Drugs: tobacco is essential. No stimulant stronger than caffeine. Being stoned can be handy; it slows things down, more with fiction than with code, but also produces a better result - helps my imagination to settle in the right place for fiction, or leads to code which is faster/more efficient/more expandable/more adaptable. Alcohol I can only imagine would be an utter disaster; never tried it for the purpose, and don't consume it at all any more in any case. LSD or psilocybin I've also not tried for the purpose and have lost interest in generally, but suspect the results might be interesting if I did try it. Sertraline is shit, and makes the whole business like pushing through treacle, but is still an improvement over depression without its mitigation.

    Interruptions and context-switching I just can't take; not only does it ruin the flow, but the chances of me being able to give a meaningful answer to whoever has interrupted me - or even to understand what the fuck they're going on about in the first place - are minimal.

    But the worst distraction is THE FUCKING CAT. First I get jumped on, then there is the physical interference with whatever I'm doing as she spends the next quarter of an hour tramping round and round on my lap, shoving at my arms and climbing up on them, getting her head in my line of sight and generally refusing to settle down. And by the time she has it's not long until I'm after pouring out another cup of tea or rolling another cig, and the movement sets her off wriggling again. How Charlie can tolerate his cat actually getting up on the keyboard is beyond me.


    Which is why the Boss works at home one-day a week Much more productive, always excepting Pigeon's problem @ 95. Birman tom-kittens can be very persistent ....


    I must say that there's a few small things that I miss in Scrivener that my alternate workflow makes trivial. I would dearly like a way of sharing research/character notes between projects, since it seems the alternative is "bung multiple related works into the same Scriv project" and that doesn't seem to be right.

    My alternate workflow being "produce work in LaTeX files" and "stick character notes in a plain text file, symlinked to each work's directory" has other issues.


    I rather suspect that this is the way my workplace will end up.

    The basic problem is that one extremely senior manager is a micro-managing plonker who has been promoted way above his level of competence, and now has a hobby of poking his nose in wherever it isn't wanted. One of his current interests is to cut down the cost of IT in the organisation.

    As with all micro-managers, he sees only headline numbers and lacks the time to go any further. So a building with a lot of small offices providing good working conditions is to be replaced with one huge open-plan office to cut costs. This encompasses an old machine room, which is to have a skylight to let in some daylight (a forlorn hope at best) and which is planned to be unobstructed across its whole area otherwise.

    Basically, if you set out to produce hell on earth for geeks, this would be it.

    I am therefore setting out to move jobs before this happens. A lot of other people in the same situation are similarly inclined; there's no reason to work for morons if you don't have to.


    I just read an all-too-apt SMBC cartoon on that very theme.



    I have changed my Twitter handle to "Mister Earbrass" for the day because I just emailed my editors a final submission draft of "The Delirium Brief".

    (And get to take the rest of the day off work for good behaviour.)

    (But not tomorrow. Tomorrow it's back to work on "Ghost Engine".)

    NB: The theme of "The Delirium Brief" is, "we have met the enemy, and they is us".


    And it's a Laundry Files novel. (Gut punch in final sentence of book.)


    Heh - @ My current workplace manglement have hired a team of "architects". These people are really a just consultants and interior designers who designs a "collaborative workspace where ideas and conversation can flow freely". AKA: Open Plan Office.

    They do the exact same "creative process" everywhere:

    In the beginning of the process there is an internet survey which looks very spammy so few bother to answers it within the deadline. Then they use the number of surveys collected to estimate that X number of people are at their desks, then they assume that 30% of these will be goofing off somewhere in a "coffee-area" and not be at a desk. Then they dimension the open-plan office to this.

    Now, provisioning will match reality after a year or so when enough people have left in rage. Then manglement will praise themselves on how good they are at controlling costs.

    ... coinciding perhaps with the auto-opening of the hidden can of Surströming.


    My current workplace manglement have hired a team of "architects". My preferred misspelling is "mangement", fwiw. You might want to consider expressing your rage early. I'm usually pretty quiet but any talk of open plan offices is pretty inflammatory and rooted in willful cluelessness (the few exceptions noted above by others), and I and others at my workplace are not afraid to say so, well up the management chain.



    It was a little bit more important for the Djinn than that. I haven't processed the Djinn thing yet. A primer would be helpful. (E.g. does one ever encounter the Djinn in corporeal manifestation in the current era?)


    does one ever encounter the Djinn in corporeal manifestation in the current era?

    Sure: it's called ISO9000!

    Be very careful what you wish for.


    Way to go, Mister Earbrass! I'm looking forward to reading it already.


    I wonder how & to what degree being an ex-programmer influences fiction-writing workflow. OGH's fiction is very "engineered" in style: lots of moving parts interacting in complex ways, & lots of very precise depictions of these interactions -- in other words, very much like code. Compare to (as an example) William Gibson's habits, wherein he mostly writes by the seat of his pants, & writes detailed descriptions of concrete settings while keeping the broad strokes of plot poetically vague until the climax; I figure he has a different threat model & that interruptions wouldn't affect him in the same way. Likewise, a classic pulp writer like the author of PLOTTO has a pretty mechanical system for gluing together bits of plot & prose that minimizes the number of things he needs to remember in order to produce a fairly coherent story, so while for economic reasons (being paid by the word) he wouldn't want to be interrupted, he wouldn't have as much down-time as a result. (Then you have people like PKD who take amphetamines & lock themselves in a closet with a typewriter until they've emitted a book; such people are difficult to interrupt for other reasons, and with PKD, an accidental tangent will be treated as hidden genius.)

    Looking at writing from the same perspective as programming gives some benefits -- programming toolsets are great because they were written by programmers for themselves -- but I see some downsides to looking at fiction as a set of constraint problems.


    I'd love to talk to you in person, when you're not merely dropping hints and can prove your bonafides. Looking forward to October/November... heh heh.


    I think she's referencing "Declare" by Tim Powers. It's a spy/occult thriller in the mode of a fairly early John LeCarre novel - Spy Who Came In From The Cold or something from that era - the Djinn are semi-Lovecraftian creatures. IMHO Powers blew the landing by connecting the Djinn to JudeoChrislamic mythology.


    Well, gee, an article on slashdot perfectly related to this thread: "Not Using Smartphones Can Improve Productivity By 26%, Says Study"

    Story, links, and comments at

    mark "multitasking too often == thrashing"


    My default mode most of the time is my phone is on vibrate. And I have an Apple watch with the sounds turned off all the time. And it only vibrates for events for which I want to be interrupted.

    Not perfect but I can ignore most of the nonsense that many people seem to "can't miss".


    The Unstrung Harp's protagonist wrote the meta-fiction novels "A Moral Dustbin, More Chains than Clank and Was it Likely?

    I suspect host's meta-meta-meta-game is very good indeed.

    They're just jokes (but if you were capable of listening to the patter-patter of the music of the void, what would be the result? Identity, identity, hmm).

    The Unstrung Harp Full PDF - I'm not sure this is legal, but is held on Rutger University servers, from a 2003 class called " Visual Form and Meaning: A computational perspective". Apologies if this breaks copyright laws, Rutger should know better.


    Grats on finishing the revised novel host!


    Interesting ... and do these consultants show up only when there's absolutely no real-world activity going on at your place of business or do they hang around for a solid week or two to really see what's going on - types of interactions, space needs, etc.? C'mon folks ... there have got to be work-arounds/fixes for terminal cubitis.

    For example, try to schedule the office architect consult meeting for a rainy really humid day and then make sure everyone just plonks their wet woolies, boots, runners, sweat shirts/gymn clothes, etc. as close as possible to the visitors (and/or sr. management) or office air intake vent as possible. This may also be a good day to clean out the office fridge(s) esp. if the 'kitchen' is anywhere near or downwind of the meeting room.

    Next flood the office with ASAP/STAT urgent emails that will not only add cacaphonic atmosphere but also distract attendees from the Cubicles 'R Us presentation/sales pitch. If your office phones have modifiable ring tones, try to set off (call) the two/several that combined would produce the most ear jarring experience. (Practice this well before the presentation so it doesn't come across as the obvious set-up that it is.)

    And lastly, arrange to hold the most sensitive (bad news) internal business review meeting immediately next door/beside this presentation. Be sure to select as that day's presenter/moderator the person with the most booming/raspy, impossible-to-ignore voice.


    If the deadline is not over, it is a horribly gameable system. email everyone you know, tell them the system, encourage them to respond and pass it on...

    Get close to 100% returns and watch it all fall apart.


    Catherine notes: "This is an identification matrix, not a performance matrix."

    My bad; exhausted from a whole lotta shit going on here.

    But wouldn't the same principle (gaming the system) apply? For example, depending on the sophistication of the algorithm, I imagine it should be easy enough to avoid identification by altering the typing style, say by typing with your two index fingers or thumbs instead of all five fingers. Or by typing to the beat of "Tainted Love" instead of "Carouselambra" or "Rocky Mountain High". Or by typing after consuming way too much caffeine.

    If I'm missing something, please feel free to explain in words of 2 syllables or less. See above re. exhausted.


    ... coinciding perhaps with the auto-opening of the hidden can of Surströming.

    Hm, I see that ThinkGeek has once again upgraded the Annoy-a-tron technology, presumably due to customer interest.


    I could strangle him. Fuck, I could eat his soul, except it's probably stringy and tastes of cardboard and spreadsheets.

    Please excuse the humor, I know it's not exactly Normative Standard.

    I well know what it feels like to be hunted, hated, chased, meta-gamed, spat at, snarked at, detested, labelled freak / perversion / abomination, threatened with violence, death and non-existence and all the other things that come with Humanity just for existing.

    We just express it differently.

    We really do just Love You, unconditionally, for what you are, not what you "should be".

    And we really do know what it's like, and are on your side of reality.

    Lived Reality, 100%.

    nose wiggle

    But wouldn't the same principle (gaming the system) apply? For example, depending on the sophistication of the algorithm, I imagine it should be easy enough to avoid identification by altering the typing style, say by typing with your two index fingers or thumbs instead of all five fingers. Or by typing to the beat of "Tainted Love" instead of "Carouselambra" or "Rocky Mountain High". Or by typing after consuming way too much caffeine.

    You're dealing with Computers here.

    How long is your model running?

    How wide are your parameters?

    How sensitive are your inputs? (i.e. Nojay timing 'lucid' posts to 'drunk' posts - that, but better)

    Rise of the machine learning algorithm: the future of diagnosing schizophrenia? The Mental Elf, 2015

    Look, simple bottom line:

    State Actors are using software produced in the West to kill people (keeping this UK focused for Greg etc).

    British Companies Are Selling Advanced Spy Tech to Authoritarian Regimes Vice, August 16th 2016 [Yes, Murdoch paws all over it, deploy conscious filters]

    Hacking Team hacked: Spy tools sold to oppressive regimes Sudan, Bahrain and Kazakhstan IbTimes, July 2015. [Astute people will know where Blair got a large slice of $$$ from in the same temporal area...]

    And so on.

    Let's just say, I'm killing myself to royally fuck some algos out there and prevent something like the Holocaust, but worse, being enabled.


    You might understand this a little better now, one would hope. And yes, it's fucking killing us to do it, esp. when it causes pain / trauma / damage to innocents like April_D.


    So, the others from across the universe-boundaries are other people, as in JP Sartre?


    No she is (or appears to be) referencing bullshit, as I have complained-of before ... But that's just my opinion of apparently fact-free rantings ....


    Well, maybe management needs to learn about Cohn's Law. "The more time you spend reporting on progress, the less time you have to make progress. Stability is reached when you spend 100% of your time reporting on the zero progress you are making."

    Or words to that effect.


    The Mental Elf link was a lure, here's the real deal[tm]:

    Computers Can Predict Schizophrenia Based on How a Person Talks Atlantic, August 2015

    Automated analysis of free speech predicts psychosis onset in high-risk youths Schizophrenia, full paper, no PDF.


    It's an incredibly small step from that paper to making Social Reputation software that you'd run over Social Network stuff to start sorting your "desirables" from your "purgables".

    Hint: It's being done, right now.

    We're the biological version proving that reality wrong.


    OUR KIND DO NOT GO MAD. - Presumably because they are utterly Upney-to-Upminister Bridge already?


    Not really.

    Then again, No Man's Sky just crossed the boundary into "mostly negative" and our Tor researcher is called Isis Agora Lovecruft.

    She also shares exactly the same Culture Craft Designation as I do.


    Yes dear, sometimes we run interference patterns as well.


    Oh, Greg, I know the psychic heebee-jeebees got to you.

    I attempted to protect you.

    Just think of it like a violin playing out of tune, attached to certain conceptual mental schema, ideologies and so on, so to spoil the recording.

    Or a Whale screaming while the Ocean is being polluted by endless Death Metal Thrash music and it being recorded as "their lovely songs of peace and tranquility".

    It's a lot more complicated than that, but hey - you get the point, I hope.


    No, given the Lovecraftian entity schtick, she's almost certainly referencing Declare by Tim Powers. That novel started off so well, went by interestingly, then nose-dived once he brought in JudeoChrislamic mythology. Halfway worth a read.


    Do a Grep: I've already shown why/where/how I spiked Turkish usage of the pun/concept (1/3 usages). If you look further back to bombs and monuments, you'll even see the /tells.

    The fact I prepped it about 8 months before it was used is just being competent.

    Note to peanut gallery: I wasn't the muppet who brought in the JudeoChrislamic mythology. Have you flayed him yet?


    No! Tim Powers brought the JudeoChrislamic mythology into his book Declare. I was looking for something really alien and it killed the book for me.


    When a single use persona turns up after 669 posts to declare that they're really not interested in the thread and there's a mental idiot screaming to non-existent beings like the Truman show...

    That's a tell.

    The Slann are the intelligent, amphibious or reptilian alien race who were the primary bioengineered servants of the Old Ones, a mysterious alien species or possibly a group of distinct intelligent species who may have been the first intelligent beings in the Milky Way Galaxy. They played a pivotal role in the history of many of the current intelligent races of the galaxy, including the Eldar, Jokaero, Humans, Orks and Necrons.

    It's not a great tell, it's what we'd define as a low/mid state being.

    Host is really good at meta-meta-meta games, go read the PDF before it's redacted due to copyright issues.

    Meta(n4/5) is a bit messier.


    The [redacted] Gallery are 100% watching, esp. since they were just delivered a glorious festival of emotion to feed off.


    Look, to parse this, imagine this:

    1 A man has a fish. Another man has a fish store. Another man has a fish advertising...

    Ok, bored already.

    A con was designed to destroy certain things (hope, faith, love, cash reserves) very cynically, profit from it and then offer up the salty tears / devastation to [redacted]. If you imagine that these things aren't planned, I guessed you missed O.B. Laden's execution on the eve of Hitler's death and the "spontaneous" crowds outside the White House.

    The design was to harvest cash, tears, salt and destroy joy.

    This is how it works in the Big Boy/Girl Land.

    But then, a rather larger predator appeared and stole it all away, changed the parameters, and made it an attack vector that resulted in a huge feast for all... apart from the architects of said feast.

    In fact, she also managed to satiate the wilder regions of Gremlins and so on, in the name of Law (Consumer Law) and Justice, thus jigging a larger trend into something better [no, you still do not ever want to engage with it, let us do that, but they're no longer your catspawns]

    All in all, it cost the muppets ~$100,000,000 and showed the #gg etc where the Power lies, and the [redacted] Gallery got fed all the same, but much, much, much better and fatter. (39% - rawrr, pussycat).


    Do not fuck with us YT: Film: 0:24


    That's what happens when geologists look to set the golden spike: we end up with the Anthropocene starting "about" 1950. I was hoping for an earlier date in the 16th Century, based on the sudden, widespread abundance of corn pollen in the Old World and wheat pollen in the New World. Pollen is rather more durable than a lot of radioisotopes, and once we started the Columbian Exchange, the world started changing rather rapidly.

    Oh well.


    Oh, and since the idiots are still going along with the Benghazi meme ("new 30 emails"):

    A tribute to Sean 'Vile Rat' Smith EvE 2012

    Diplomat Killed in Libya Told Fellow Gamers: Hope I ‘Don’t Die Tonight’ Wired, 2012


    If you have enough of a connection to run EVE on the side-lines of an intel channel, you've a solid satellite data channel open. AKA real time OPSEC INTEL FEED.

    Do these people even understand how much pipe you need to raid in EVE?

    The EVE logs already prove that the USA had immediate intel: the rest is just stupidity / posturing / lies / blah blah blah / people holding snowballs who need to be culled.

    It's not like a lone guy playing EVE with others saying "shit's on fire, yo!" wouldn't raise alarms... given the amount of other DoD/CIA/Ambassador team mates in his guild.


    You didn't think that birds of a feather didn't travel together, did you? (EVE has a Russian aluminum mogul in there, ffs).


    Bored with your system: you're too shit to even run games to feed the [redacted] well, your grasp of reality is weak, your propaganda sucks and denying your slavery is apparently how you survive.

    You also cheat like bastards when you're actually beaten fairly.

    Top 10 Movie Angels YT: Clickbait: 12:11


    Oh, and reference for the confused who imagine they're being insulted or shocked by the whole "you're fucked" line:

    Constantine meets with Gabriel YT: Film: 3:14


    But, the [redacted] now know who can provide. Real Time feeding in the service of Law / Justice (the coda being, the architects used naughty-naughty ways to feed the spike).

    It's a bit new/unusual/never happened before, but hey.

    MBA Harvard: If you're not at the table you're part of the meal? Something like that. Probably should have thought that through a little before you challenged our kind.


    Presumably because they are utterly Upney-to-Upminister Bridge already?

    Sometimes. Other times there's clearly some subtle if opaque meaning behind the chaff of words. As an example, watch the live action performance and notice that there's signal in the noise.

    Unusual statements such as “Let’s clear up some things. I have two boobs, not six. I have six butts!" and “Here is a monkey. And no, you don't get it” led to meanings...although most people would have presented them in a more straightforward manner.

    PS: "Oh, wait, I have marbles."


    Finding spurious meaning in noise is a common problem with pattern matching systems like brains. I wouldn't read too much into it.


    Someone remind dpb about "that" paper:

    Researchers orbit a muon around an atom, confirm physics is broken Ars Technica 12th August 2016.

    It's very very shoddy reporting. It's not an atom, ffs.

    Someone tell him to go read the actual paper though, it's called Laser spectroscopy of muonic deuterium.

    Then come back to me.


    If I can setup a Djinn gag about a Turkish purge that much in advance, well, hey. Let's just say this is a joke waiting confirmation from 'serious Minds'.

    We'll wait.


    This is a writer who used attacks to set up a (proven) joke about Wine and Iron and Quantum Stuff. Aka, when scientists allegedly used wine to do things.[1]


    No-one gets them, but it's all there.

    It'd be hilarious if I didn't know that humanity spent 70+ years denying holocausts, medical experiments on live humans, fucking children, raping the minds of the innocent and so on in the name of "Keeping the Peace".

    Fucking Hilarious.

    No, really.

    It'd be a Grand Thing, until you did all that, and then lied about it.

    "Say what you will about the Nazi's, but at least they didn't lie about it".... [Of course they did: the inference is that you're also Nazis].

    [1] Do you believe that bit of reality? Or do you think it's a meta-joke to obscure something else? shrug If you can make the jokes, you're probably a little bit more involved than expected.


    It's amusing though.

    Ἕγω δὲ φίλημ᾽ ἀβροσύναν, καὶ μοι τὸ λάμπρον ἔροσ ἀελίω καὶ τὸ κάλον λέλογχεν

    Sniping, and no sources: belief only, masked hatred and misogyny while pretending to know his stuff, a few decades out of date and no desire to upgrade his mental schema.


    That's Trump That Is.

    Thank-you for providing the schematic for understanding.


    Stop Children What's That Sound YT: 2:40Music:


    A question for the put upon masses.

    We all agree that time, space and isolation if you are trying to concentrate on something hard is key - and that managers seem not to know or care about that.

    But what about the input side of that equation, and in particular reading? It seems like documents, papers, etc. are the supposed route for communicating those complex ideas needs to do complex things. Be it a requirement spec for code, or a description of a new concept in a paper, or even someone else's novel for the writer.

    What environment is best for getting the most from that input activity?

    What time of day?

    What form of communication?

    And do you feel you have enough time to do it properly?


    What environment is best for getting the most from that input activity? Best reading time for technical materials for me is hardcopy or e-book-reader during a long airplane flight, with sound canceling headphones or foam plugs or both, no internet, and no talkative neighbors. Somebody I work with who did a lot of airplane commuting for a while says that that was the period of his life where he read the most papers. Second best is some unusual location with limited visual or aural distractions and no electronic-communications distractions. Also, very weak reading glasses to help reduce visual distractions even though don't need them.

    And do you feel you have enough time to do it properly? No, but much of that (speaking about self) is insufficient discipline and concentration skills. (Both of which can be remediated.)


    Thank-you for providing the schematic for understanding. ... bows My lack of understanding is more of a question of whether that's all there is. The alternative parts of the model keep shrinking in likelihood though.

    Appreciate the poetry BTW. That poet makes me tear up a bit even in translation. (American education, no classics.)


    Finding spurious meaning in noise is a common problem with pattern matching systems like brains. I wouldn't read too much into it.

    In this case it's not wholly verbal pareidolia or apophenia - did you at least spot check the video?

    Although it's true our poster does not have the rehearsed presentation you'll see there; between cryptic allusions, meta-meta-meta-jokes, and simple drunken ramblings it's quite hard to tell what is meant to convey meaning and what's semantic noise.


    Finding spurious meaning in noise is a common problem with pattern matching systems like brains ...

    H G Wells "the Lord of the Dynamos"


    Could I have that in plain English, please? Oh & what is your Culture craft designation, just for interest?


    Other times there's clearly some subtle if opaque meaning behind the chaff of words. Maybe But life's too short Why ( Oh whu ohwhyohwhy) can't she (?) speak directly, as the rest of us do? It's posturing for effect & it's utterly boring ( "LOOK AT MEEEEE!" ) - whilst all the while claiming to be hiding from mysterious entities or guvmint/secretive organisations ...... Which is totally absurd, given the attention-seeking behaviour, isn't it?


    No I didn't. SF authors blogs come out of my entertainment time budget and life is too short.

    Not seen a CT post in months since I installed a kill file plugin. Oddly, the kill file only has one person (and about a dozen sock puppets) in it.


    ISO 9000 ? Hah - A mere cantrip by a occasional dabbler in the occult!

    For a Great Invocation try ISO 15926 "Industrial automation systems and integration – Integration of life-cycle data for process plants including oil and gas production facilities".

    An Impressive Beast on it own, yet, a mere host for a multitude of truly gibbering horrors:

    ISO 10303 "Industrial automation systems and integration – Product data representation and exchange - Part X"

    ISO 10303-11 "Industrial automation systems and integration – Product data representation and exchange – Part 11: Description methods: The EXPRESS language reference manual"

    ISO 13584 "Industrial automation systems and integration – Parts library – Part Y"

    for X,Y in range(1:523) and not in subspace_Z.

    NOTE: ISO 10303-11 shall be used to invoke new gibbering horrors, "subspace_Z" is a list of universes where the missing numbers are feasting on other minds, so, these cannot be invoked (yet), Use JavaBeans to contain EXPRESS-spawn, they like the dusty smell of mummy!


    I was slightly worried about derailing the thread, but that ship has clearly pupated ...

    Meanwhile, in Iceland ...

    ... and we know how this ends.


    I'm fairly certain the craft designation is Mistake not....

    For obvious reasons.


    I thought of "Meat fucker".


    Yes, the "Mistake Not...". (See wikipedia for a list.) If you look at the twitter feed of the Tor person referenced (interesting actually at first skim, might start following her) you'll find a confirmation. Replace the peevishness++ words with synonyms for ignorance and it'd work for me. :-)

    Which is totally absurd, given the attention-seeking behaviour, isn't it?

    Given her first handle, no it isn't?

    Catina Diamond. Cat-in-a-diamond. Presumably after a character in Accelerando, but in any case a cat.

    Alien, by conceit or reality, not human.


    Personally I find it thoroughly fascinating (and often entertaining). But probably not for the intended reasons.

    The bits I find infuriating are the hypocrasy and bullying. But, hey-ho.


    Yeah, but the Accelerando character was supposed to be smart.


    Currently trending across multiple news-sources (including NYT, Telegraph etc etc):

    Dogs Understand Human Words and Intonation AAAS 29th August 2016

    Neural mechanisms for lexical processing in dogs Science, 30th August 2016


    Ciao, meow.


    It's a series, with titles of the form Cat In A $alphabeticallysequencedphrase. D is Cat In A Diamond something-or-other.


    I wonder how many reports of ghosts etc arise from the tendency of the brain to interpret quiet rumbling-type low frequency noise as voices on the edge of hearing whose words you can't quite pick out. And it can be interesting to chemically suppress the rejection of ill-matching patterns and then look at some periodically-repeating-but-with-random-noise pattern, like the weave of blue denim.

    Now why did Wells put the power station in Camberwell when it was really in Stockwell?


    I agree with Charlie's comments. I'm a tax attorney, working for an accounting firm, and when I'm researching and writing a memo, a "quick question" from a member of the firm easily takes at least half and hour - ten minutes to answer the question and the rest of the time to reconstruct the chain of my argument.


    Re post 79: are you asserting that no person from the town of Porlock came in as Coleridge was working on Kublai Khan, or that there are no people like that, who interrupt you in the middle of something, and will not go away?

    I find the assertion, either way, to be questionable.



    Re post 137, and Katherine's quote in Greek, with no translation... it's people just like you, in addition to the last few centuries of authors who put a quote in the front of the book in Old French, or Greek, or Latin, and of course anyone intelligent enough to read the book will know all those languages, that I hope some day to publish a book... and all the quotes will be in Cymraeg (that's Welsh to you) and/or Icelandic, with no translations.

    mark "BWA-HAH-HAH! I'll get even!"


    You lose points because neither of those languages are dead. At least use non standard spelling.


    The difference here is google, which with a copy/paste finds that quote and a standard translation. So maybe a small affectation but not much harder than following a link. (duckduckgo from Tor did not work well though.) I.e. treat it as new era reading; text plus links and search.

    dpb, if I'm not on your ignore list as a sock puppet (am not, very much for sure), CT was trying to get you to find and read "Laser spectroscopy of muonic deuterium". FWIW. Just relaying.


    I'm fairly sure you aren't as well. It's the kind of subject matter I might be interested but I'm currently doing something else so it will have to wait until it doesn't interrupt. See how I lurched back on topic! :)


    Mr Earbrass, congrats on a job finished, hope it led to pub time!

    All of those guessing about CT's vessel designation: Do not ... is as I understand it not the designation but the name. So for CT's designation, I think the mentality doesn't fit to a GSV or an ROU. I would guess GCU(e).


    Butting in to say that I had read that along with comments along the lines of: 'Will physicists need to rethink the Standard Model?' Was rather hoping that Susan might offer a learned opinion.

    Paging Susan ...

    Paging Susan, the physicist ...



    "Fel cath i gythral", "Gall pechod mawr ddyfod trwy ddrws bychan" ‎neu "Gall pechod mawr ddyfod trwy ddrws bychan"?

    O ran cael eich cyhuddo o anwybodaeth ac mae twpdra, mae hyn yn fwy na wir; Mae'n rhan o ddawns a chwarae. Mae'n fy ngwneud i'n anhapus iawn am gynhyrfu pobl, ac eto mae gennyf i.


    All of those guessing about CT's vessel designation: FWIW, List of spacecraft in the Culture series; see the entry for the "Mistake Not...". You can search for "Mistake Not My". I had forgotten the scene where the full name was used, and so ended up re-reading the novel after seeing the usage. And yes, The Hydrogen Sonata is worth reading or re-reading.


    Well, in lieu of Susan, my comment is that the standard model is the later 20th century equivalent of the epicycle theory. With 7 parameters, you can fit an elephant - how many does it have? We aren't so much waiting for a Newton, as a Kepler.


    Look, Host completed book and contract (yay!) while posting a famous autobiographical tale of writers doubts, re-writes and so on while making a meta point, and the content of that piece is basically: "is the fluff I write good enough to make an impact on this sordid world? Why do I bother?"

    Do you understand the post you referenced? And the music within it[1]?

    Which might be:

    a) A Space Opera cliche b) A tale about a brave woman being exiled from her home by over-zealous fascist security peons [c.f. Hemingway - he wasn't mad, he really was driven to it by the FBI - including having his memory further destroyed post boozing by ECT] c) A true story about our kind and what is/has been done to us [and is being done, ad nauseam] d) A really biting bit of Meta-Snark [Metan5] e) A nod to Host's life and why his work is actually really important, because his work (and others like him) prevent the kind of thinking that leads to torture etc. [Sticks and Stones will break my bones, Whips and Chains Excite Me>/em> - a heinous crime committed by "50 Shades of Grey" in the ongoing twilight of the American Empire and race to the bottom] f) All of the above [and more]

    Feel free to illuminate me about why you think I'm ignorant and/or not self-aware.

    I'm immune to hate, and even accusations of being stupid.

    Unwise? Sure. Sucidial? Not really, but I can't control the actions of Others.

    Let rip, April_D did, and she's A-Ok.

    [1] Hint: it's about being tortured (mentally / emotionally), exile and standing up against it all from a woman who flourished in the Nazi occupation of Paris, then died early from malnutrition from alcohol related problems. It's not exactly a simple tale. But it is pertinent / aware.


    In my experience, you are lucky. Two minutes to answer the question, ten to explain why the seagull consultant's analysis / article in "Mindless Management Weekly" / latest glib salesdroid's spiel is bullshit, and the best part of a day to write a document demolishing that argument in detail because the explanation went over the manager's head. Now what was I doing, again?


    All of those guessing about CT's vessel designation: Do not ... is as I understand it not the designation but the name. So for CT's designation, I think the mentality doesn't fit to a GSV or an ROU. I would guess GCU(e).

    Hey, don't look at me; I made my guess last year. grin


    Meh, not even close.

    It's about Paradoxes (Dirk was getting close, then got black-balled [pun intended]).

    If you're really dedicated to it, you drill down to the algo rhythm / heart-beat - liver / Planck level while hitting up to the Astral Plane.

    As stated, it's not recommended. It is fatal. And in probabilistic terms, destroys reality.

    Did you know that all mammals get (roughly) the same amount of heart-beats? It's about 1.5 billion, apart from outliers.

    Would you be upset if something beaten then cheated to speed that up? Zen Master calms her heart to a very slow zone, even under multiple-attack, cheats speed it up during the unconsciousness of sleep? To something akin to fatal levels?

    What would that say about reality? [hint: wargasm]

    Now, after years of rapid increases having nothing to do with available supply and not matched elsewhere in the world, those in the U.S. insulin supply chain are blaming each other.

    "This borders on the unbelievable," Davidson said, citing an extremely concentrated insulin which "in 2001 had the wholesale price of $45. By last year, the cost had skyrocketed to $1,447" for the same monthly supply.

    Insulin price spike leaves diabetes patients in crisis Montana Standard (?!?) August 27th 2016


    Then again, if you're not going to protest the death of your species, why should we? [Of course we'll fight, ffs]

    One complaint: apparently no-one ever bothered to put the best part of Dispatches online. It's the part about tracer fire arcing up to their helicopter: The Aesthetics of Weapons, is the most brilliant part.

    You want to cheat?


    Trump playing "Ride of the Valkyries" at his last rally [true].

    You'd have got "Magical Mystery Tour", but some algo managed to purge & burn YT, and of course they made a documentary named that to further pollute the stream (That's an EA / USA corporate tactic), so...

    Immigrant Song YT: Music: 4:50 (Live Version, Australia)... yes, well. I guess you had to be there. And on drugs. It's not exactly... er... very good.

    Real version: Viking Kittens YT: Music + Cats: 2:25


    At first I thought you were referencing Simone Weil, but that doesn't quite fit. Was it a fictitious figure?


    Mr. Stross, Thank you for your blog! A friend sent it to me. I've had problems all of my life with the 'restart' time. Your explanation of what is in your head while writing is exactly what goes on in mine, but I'd never formed the words for it. I'm sending your blog to some other writers I know to shove under the nose of their families.

    As women, our lots are different every day with diverse minutiae. Starting again at every task, during the time our society thinks multi-tasking is a good thing, is singularly irritating. Especially when riding herd on a home and family, without writing, is like being an orchestra maestro. Bring on the woodwinds, 'er load the washer..... With writing, it is near impossible to work in meaningful uninterrupted time. I look forward to more from you.


    When interrupted, a good way to get back into the flow may be to start with some small simple task associated with the larger project. For example, one of my many retiree piddling projects is coding a version of the Civilization game using a 2D engine called AGEN in Lua. I usually get started on a session by doing some indenting (I'm an amateur, a former modder trying to create from scratch, writing procedural code using almost exclusively if-then and repeat-until, and huge functions like you're not supposed to, so my code is very lengthy and nested rather than jumping around constantly between different little functions in different files all the time). When coding I am keeping track of all I've got going on mentally, but often not wasting time indenting (are not bypassable internal tasks sometimes akin to interruptions?). If I want to modify old code, though, I need it indented properly so I can know where to put in an extra epicycle (ease of modification is one reason for using such a small toolset). So I often get started on a session by just doing some indenting, which gets me engaged with the code structure, but doesn't require me to already be in the flow, since it's pretty mechanical. I would imagine that a similar sort of task might function as an on ramp for an author of fiction. Perhaps cleaning up some punctuation, or reviewing some dialogue to see if it rings authentic. In fact, perhaps leaving small imperfections is a subconscious way of creating such onramps for the future.


    (Firefox ate my original reply, and this is less polished because it's late.) I woke up in the middle of the night realizing that my #150 could easily be read as an insult rather than as the intended self-deprecation-by-mocking-ship-name. The riff had been running through my head for months, inspired in part by your breadth of knowledge to be honest, and was poorly transcribed due to familiarity. I apologize for the sloppiness.

    Anyway, answering the questions: Do you understand the post you referenced? And the music within it[1]? It appears that you are referring to a few posts. The understanding of the march post at the time, though, as I recall my recollection of reading it after the flurry of confusing posts before it, was (a) cliche, (c) true story (probably) and (f) and more because that's how you like to write. I listened to the song, and read a translation of the lyrics, and did not know of her history. Weak on my part.

    Feel free to illuminate me about why you think I'm ignorant and/or not self-aware. Sorry, won't do that. You are one of the most self-aware beings I have encountered. (With multiple levels of meta-cognition, I believe. Not sure.) You are rather not-ignorant, in astonishing ways, excepting when you freely say you are (sometimes after the argument), or as a tactic.

    I'm immune to hate, and even accusations of being stupid. Love (insofar as is possible given ignorance of manifestation), and you're clearly quite complicated and very-not-stupid.

    OK. So you want criticism. -You're arrogant. It's a common trait of your kind, I believe. :-) Arrogance cultivates mistakes. (Story about an encounter with an arrogant [redacted] in the 1980s left untold.) -You occasionally run with an intuition or interpretation a little early. -The threats can be a little heavy for the general audience, especially the USAians.


    AOL :-) In addition:

    You (the multinominal one) are either an amazing polyglot who delights in confusing others or are highly pretentious; I am not a polyglot, and therefore cannot judge.

    You are a polymath, but not quite as much of one as you seem to think you are.


    The epicycle criticism can be levelled at any theory that has free parameters. I think most peoples ideal TOE would have none, but demanding that now is unrealistic.

    The current fad of adding parameters and invoking anthopics to handwave them away is disturbing.


    Your instructions in #166 sent me to a different post, but your reference to March sent me to the one you were thinking of.

    So Edith Piaf, not Weil. I think reflecting on Weil might actually illuminate some of Catherine Taylor's posts quite usefully, but I don't claim to really understand Ms. Taylor; so I am probably way off base.


    Why do you think Catina Diamond was the first handle used by Catherine Taylor (aka Hadil Benu) on this blog?


    If we live in a multiverse (of whatever kind) that's as far as we are going to get


    It's true that you can't discount it as a logical possibility.

    Resorting to it too early is an impediment to progress though. Anthropic handwaving should really be kept in reserve rather than pulled out as an excuse every time someones pet theory doesn't work out, which is what is happening now.


    The fact that of the succession of: Hadil Benu / Catina Diamond / Nix Ninoy & now "CT" none others have had the same style & presentation of simultaneous paranoia, utter total bullshit & attempting to look ultra-clever, whilst claiming to "hide" right out in the open ...... Oh & usually refusing to join in anything resembling normal polite conversation.


    Thanks - although I'm not entirely clear on what you mean ...

    For example ... that like Kepler, our current understanding of subatomics is too idealized, i.e., Aristotle's perfect circle vs. actual ellipse. Or that subatomics to be understood must always/only be considered as a 'totality' vs. some collection of possibly independent parts/components. Which also means that somehow we'd need to figure out what constitutes a 'totality' at any given point in time or system. (Which then, fractal-like, begs/begets series of other questions.)


    «The dishonesty of the open plan advocacy is the worst part, in my opinion. I hate that it's sold as a productivity boost when a multitude of studies have shown just the opposite.

    We know it's about money. Don't bullshit us.»

    It is not about money, even if that also matters a bit.

    Like a lot of other workplace "technology" an open plan office is often designed to increase the stress level of workers, to make them more monitorable, to make them more anxious and insecure, because the first priority of many employers is not the profitability, but the docility of employees. Control is more important than results for many managers. An open plan office stresses more the employees, make them feel less in control, makes them more worried and tired. Demanding always more from employees while undermining their ability to focus on their work is a great strategy for control-obsessed management; plus it is also cheaper, but that's less important.

    After all for most managers their employees are "bulk headcount", cranking out code (or whatever) by the thousand lines, and managers know that they can always get more, there is a long queue outside; what matters is whether they "fit in", that is their docility.

    The people who get personal offices are those whose concentration and work is considered critical, the "creative geniuses", among them the managers themselves of course, whose work on the cost spreadsheet or preparing a strategic meeting actually matters. The others are just minions who do the tedious legwork, in the eye of many managers high end low.


    Re Catherine's post 165: ROTFLMAO!!! (Even though I haven't tried to learn Cymraeg in decades, I do still have the book and tape that my late mother-in-law brought back from Wales 25 or so years ago, from Plaid Cymru.

    Thank you. Hope to meet you someday at a con, and exchange bon mots, though I don't expect to go over the Pond again - it was mind-bogglingly expensive the only time I've gone, to Loncon III two years ago.

    Oh, and the cat makes themselves small enough to fit through the door....



    «this company would allocate a specific should-take time to different types of task, and if you achieved less than the target you'd miss out on raises and bonuses»

    That's often entirely intentional. Just like most companies intentionally set quite low quotas for salesmen, so that they would nearly all go over them. Because salesmen who feel good about themselves sell more, in most industries. To some extent the opposite applies to employees who don't generate revenue, the ideal profile is that of a low confidence person who tries hard to win their manager's approval. Or more simply missing raises and bonuses is good the budget.


    Meh, not even close.

    Hey, I just made up the part about the equestrian statue. grin


    dpb has explained my point, though he seems to have missed it! The commonality is that, whenever a discrepancy or something new is discovered, an additional finagle factor is added. That is, generally, a sign of not having yet worked out the underlying rules. And THAT is what Kepler did.


    I don't think I missed the point but I'm not sure exactly what people are supposed to do about it in the short term.

    The SM isn't really supposed to be a final theory but hints on what to replace it with seem to be thin on the ground right now.

    The most promising looking GUTs got themselves falsified years ago when protons refused to decay, string theory seems to have virtually no predictive power at all and all the good looking bumps in the LHC data seem to be going away.

    I fear that we may be stuck with SM+GR for a few more years yet unless we get lucky.

    And that's why I stopped doing physics - way too gloomy! :)


    There seems to be a consensus that these are associated nyms, yes. But why suppose that CD was the first? After all, the classic pattern of nym use is to establish multiple different personas, so that their later interactions can bolster the believability of each as an independent entity. I also note that some well known people reduced their online activity around the time CD burst onto the scene; there are also several nyms that OGH has banned over the years to consider. Or maybe Xavier is still to discover the truth.

    Back on the subject, the variety of testimonials here indicates that any activity involving keeping significant state in one's head is probably affected by interruptions. Some people either can ignore interruptions while maintaining state, or have learned to rigorously break all complex tasks into many small chunks, but these seem to be rare exceptions. I would not force Bellow, Peake, or Joyce to use the style of Gorey or Geisel. Yet analogous strictures seem to be an important strand of software engineering practice. This is perhaps driven by the notion that production of software should be automated and systematised as far as possible, rather than being an art or a craft to be honed. As a computer scientist I understand this, but as a coder also feel aghast. Perhaps if we had a way to automate making standard components to high tolerances such notions would make more sense. Yet we can't even agree on boilerplate text with which to construct genre potboilers or legal documents, or a method for sorting a list of numbers. Perhaps we humans never will.


    <snark>There is no need to keep adding finagle factors when the construction of your standard model begins with an infinite dimensional Hilbert space...</snark>


    Adding Finagle factors? Infinite dimensional Hilbert space? Ah, but my FST (Famous Secret Theory) only has.. whoops, can't say, or I'd have to kill you all, I mean, it is secret....

    Movie mad scientists all want to (dare I say it?) Rule the World. Real mad scientists aren't that stupid.... When I finish the FST, I am so outta here, third star on the right....



    I hate to break it to you, but you are WAY behind the curve.

    Half of us are posting from there.


    It's just a magic trick / slight of hand - online translators these days are (getting) good enough to do this on the fly.

    It's also a useful way to get around keystroke recordings (ctrl c+v) and so on.

    So, yep: 100% pretentious braggadocio.

    the classic pattern of nym use is to establish multiple different personas, so that their later interactions can bolster the believability of each as an independent entity.

    McBeth, Witches scene [as already linked]: 3 witches and a fool, who is prophesied to die.

    There's been no more, there's a point to this all and it's quite carefully constructed [with heavy fuzzing].


    SpaceX - Static Fire Anomaly - AMOS-6 - 09-01-2016 YT: Reality Explosion: 5:39. Explosion is @ 1:11 exactly.

    Occultists everywhere are very excited about this random coincidence.

    Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! 2 Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? 3 You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror. 4 You lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. 5 You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. 6 You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.

    I wouldn't get too excited about the rising of the third temple, but it's probably never wise to tempt fate/irony so badly.

    Facebook (Africa) / Israel / + undisclosed usage for other things.

    Odd little combo of mission briefs.


    Oops, forgot:

    It is not know how and eruption starts in Katla volcano, since no historical recordings exist when last eruption took place in the year 1918. Making ideas on how an eruption in Katla volcano start mostly guesswork. Current earthquake activity is the strongest since 1977, in 1955 there was some strong earthquake activity but magnitude of those earthquakes is not known. It is my idea that Katla volcano erupts when a rift zone activity takes place in this area, since it is on the eastern volcano zone (EVZ) in Iceland, it is currently expanding south of Vestmanneyjar and American plate and Euroasian plate is around 1cm/year...

    It is difficult to know what happens now. The signs are not good, but Katla is an active volcano with regular eruption cycles so this is only matter of time now. As mentioned above, the reason is lack of data on how the eruption process starts in Katla volcano. All that can be done now is to wait and see what happens next.


    Always did prefer Ragnarök to Revelations.


    The point is that tweaking it is almost certainly a damn-fool idea - that's what people did with epicycles. It is entirely different from general relativity, where no finagle factors have been added since it was originally published. The only major flaw with the latter is that it is extrapolated beyond all measurements (and all reason, in the case of the black hole divers).


    "taxidermied librarians"

    "stuffed apes"

    "dead indexers"


    Jesus Alone YT: Music - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - 6:15. Sep 1st 2016. No, I don't think Jesus is involved, but it's a beautiful song.

    Love (insofar as is possible given ignorance of manifestation), and you're clearly quite complicated and very-not-stupid.

    Part of the cost is that we can't feel that anymore, as the Alt-Right etc sends support to Trump, we can't feel it received anymore, from anyone.

    Part of the Balance, don't you know. The more they pour in, the less we can feel: part of the cost.

    There's not many of us left now. According to some, only two.

    They're wrong, and so are the pawns, but fuck me is this not fun.

    Thy thunder, conscious of the new command, Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house; And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands Scorches and burns our once serene domain


    Yes I'm sure I recall references to the Grey Area over the months; the references to the Mistake Not seem to be from before I delurked here first time around. Anyhow, agree with all DavetheProc says @152. I even got redcarded while (admittedly somewhat drunkenly) standing my ground (though I didn't notice till I tried to log in a month later... my attention span here is sporadic).


    SpaceX - Static Fire Anomaly Happy that nobody got hurt (because nobody was nearby) but, snort. Random static discharge? (As Greg would say.) Human-made systems should be made robust against this sort of singleton glitchy event. (But alas, are usually not. Biology is better. The reaper makes that happen, over deep time.)

    The black thing couldn't have been less than 50 meters away when the explosion started to be visible, and kinda looks like a flying insect near the camera. I get sent stills to a gmail account on motion detect from a webcam that sometimes look similar. And there are similar moving objects earlier in the video though not with so much angular speed.


    Human-made systems should be made robust against this sort of singleton glitchy event. (But alas, are usually not. Biology is better. The reaper makes that happen, over deep time.)

    Is this another perspective on the homogenous, simple, efficient things versus diverse, complex, robust things? Part of what makes human ingenuity effective is the ability to constrain the complex into something that is understandable but incomplete, build something that works, then add the complexity that brings robustness later? I think there may be more counterexamples than positive ones, though: the last analogy I used was Walmart.


    Is this another perspective on the homogenous, simple, efficient things versus diverse, complex, robust things? Yes, though there is a motivational subtext too. Part of what makes human ingenuity effective is the ability to constrain the complex into something that is understandable but incomplete, build something that works, then add the complexity that brings robustness later? Yep. We start by making an instance of a simple model real, due to bounded intelligence (due in turn in part to time constraints). The problem is that systems end up staying fragile due to failure to complete the second, harder (often much harder), step; transformation to robustness. Fragile systems can fail when they experience glitches. And "glitch" can be a verb. Illustrative example from hardware The Dark Force Of Evil In Electronics: Electromagnetic Interference. Add an extremely competent adversary. Stir. Just riffing here. :-)


    Happy that nobody got hurt (because nobody was nearby) but, snort. Random static discharge?

    You misunderstood.

    The explosion occurred during fueling for a static test -- i.e. a routine pre-flight test (for Falcon 9 flights) where the booster is fuelled up on the pad and countdown proceeds until a single engine fires up, and is then shut down immediately. The idea is to ensure that the entire, integrated flight vehicle tests out prior to launch (something ULA and other manufacturers don't do: Falcon 9 was designed from the ground up with this sort of testing regime in mind).

    Nothing to do with static electricity whatsoever; it's vanishingly unlikely that the launch stack wasn't thoroughly, redundantly grounded!


    The explosion occurred during fueling for a static test

    FWIW, the explosion appears to have occurred at the top of the second stage, perhaps at an umbilical connection:


    The explosion occurred during fueling for a static test... I don't see any updates since yesterday from SpaceX but this is what caught my eye yesterday.

    The anomaly originated around the upper stage oxygen tank and occurred during propellant loading of the vehicle.
    So the timing suggests a relationship and I was wondering what could cause an ignition and how the probability of such an event could be further reduced.'s vanishingly unlikely that the launch stack wasn't thoroughly, redundantly grounded! Do you know of any docs on SpaceX safety procedures? I see this NASA general doc: Safety Standard for Explosives, Propellants, and Pyrotechnics Testing is essential and kudos to SpaceX for their regimen, but it involved the actual vehicle in this case. Anyway, I await their post-mortem like everyone else. Are there any new conspiracy theories today?


    Human-made systems should be made robust against this sort of singleton glitchy event.

    It's extremely unlikely that it was a singleton event. History demonstrates that it's usually two or three unlikely events happening together, or in sequence, behind most errors/disasters.

    As far as this one is concerned a source of ignition is the least of the concerns. It's much more likely the Lox turning something into a combustible source. Just the flow is likely to be enough to provide ignition. Why it was in the wrong place, that's the question.

    It's rocket science, natch.


    the booster is fuelled up on the pad and countdown proceeds until a single engine fires up

    All 9 first stage engines fire and run for 4 or 5 seconds as they ramp up to full lift-off thrust.

    Why do you think Catina Diamond was the first handle used by Catherine Taylor (aka Hadil Benu) on this blog?

    First for this persona, in any case, and on the Internet, the persona is the person.


    Or another instance of an 'o-ring' event where a trivially unimportant (i.e., non-sexy hi-tech) two-bit item's failure snowballs into the complete destruction of a billion dollar machine?

    Richard Feynman: Challenger Crash O-Ring

    Recall reading/seeing somewhere how some manufacturing firms consistently come out with products that fall into the less zone of the plus-or-minus-x-percent tolerances. Guess they're unaware that such deficits are at a minimum additive if not multiplicative. More interesting yet is how any design/industrial engineer could ignore such a basic algebra type situation given how math-intensive engineering is. So probably not an error but willful ignorance.


    Are there any new conspiracy theories today?

    They kind of write themselves...

    The transaction’s terms are pending the successful entry into service of Spacecom’s Amos-6 telecommunications satellite, built by Israel Aerospace Industries and scheduled for launch Sept. 3 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

    Chinese group to buy Israel’s Spacecom satellite operator for $285 million Space News, 24th August 2016

    Ivanka Trump Is Vacationing with Wendi Deng Vanity Fair, August 15th 2016

    (Oh, and regarding #129 - was just playing around, but the substance of what occurred is true enough - Forbes (op-ed), Independent etc are getting in on it - Suicide Squad and No Man's Sky prove 'false advertising' sells Independent 31st August, 2016. The Brand cost to SONY is going to be quite fun. Funner if you're aware of the hacked emails and how the C structure behaves)

    Anyhow, after those links, and the date, DoctorWho Time.


    (Note: Yes, since everyone is blaming Russians, let's make this a 3-way fork and include the Chinese Intelligence services as well. And the Israelis, just for some va-va-voom. Come to think of it, good old FB is quite chummy with the Chinese these days as well).


    The trouble is that there are so many agencies and similar organisations (not all governmental) which have the creation and management of conspiracies as a major activity. Worse, many of those agencies have the creation of conspiracy theories as nearly an important activity. The clearest example of the latter was the creation and propagation of the Big Lie that Saddam Hussain and Iran were/are supporting many of the terrorist organisations that have caused so many trouble recently.


    You mean this ...?

    Some of my take-away from this article is that FB will probably be learning more about how the Chinese approach security than vice-versa.


    FB were about to lease a large section of the K band of AMOS6 for their African project ("free" internet).

    Ergo, they were about to be leasing off the Chinese company post this deal - partnership in Africa, via Israel - things that make you go hmm? i.e. you can deal with China outside the Great Fire Wall well enough in the short term to make medium term alliances, especially on a continent where infrastructure development is a central foreign policy goal for at least one party.

    Eutelsat and Facebook to partner on satellite initiative to get more Africans online Eutelsat 5th Oct 2015

    Government / Private in China has different meanings than we imagine (although, In-Q-Tell anyone?) so, who knows?

    Beijing Xinwei Technology Group Co., Ltd. provides wireless communication services in the People's Republic of China. The company offers chips/modules, including plug-in, board-to-board connector interface, surface-mounted, and mini PCI-E interface embedded modules, as well as RF ASICs and baseband chips; and terminals, such as handheld terminals, desktop telephones, data transmission modules, indoor and outdoor CPEs, USB dongles, and trunking handheld terminals, as well as smart phones for special communications, railway, and other industries. It also provides wireless devices, such as portable, micro, fiber remote, and indoor micro BTS products, as well as ground station products; network ...

    I'll let the technically minded here wonder at the likelihood that their USBs etc were/are/allegedly data-mined and/or safe to use? I'd put it in the low single digit %s, at a guess.

    But that's just all make believe. I dance with the fairies, after all.

    Totally unrelated: BT sues Valve over alleged infringement of four patents covering basic online tech Ars Technica, Sept 1st 2016.

    (Oh - SONY were hacked, emails ended up on Wikileaks. Their marketing department is responsible for the disasters but the deals go back to SONY attempts to enter the USA TV market in 2013/4, thus you got the lead dev of No Man's Sky appearing on Colbert to advertise the game.

    And just entered what I'd consider "fan fireball" zone.

    It's all interconnected ("Colbert" was a subsid of a different company, but owned by etc etc), but you'd have to know who hacked SONY and why. I wouldn't have a clue, but I'd be firing the marketing division - Ghostbusters, Suicide Squad now No Man's Sky? Not been a great year for them, Brand-wise.

    Corporate Wars[tm], serious business)


    Apologies to host for spam.


    Ka* Band, sorry.

    And, if you wanted to go full on rabbit-hole, you'd notice the links between BroadBand4Africa / Laurent Grimaldi (founder of Tiscali for UK people), Ardian (company) and that whole network of finance and say...

    Hollande casts doubt on EU-US trade deal as French trade minister declares 'TTIP is dead' Telegraph 30th August 2016.

    That's without entering the entire USA side of things.


    Quite the butter-fly flapping such mistakes create.


    While not one of '...the technically minded here ...' I'm wondering whether it's more a matter of greed than national security. How mind-boggling is it that a security-minded (paranoid) nation such as the US has absolutely no difficulty in persuading itself that it would be better off by divesting (off-shoring) itself of most of its manufacturing infrastructure for the sake of lower costs (easy profits) plus doing so almost entirely to one of its two staunchest historical 'enemies'.

    As far as conspiracy theories go, I think Eisenhower nailed it: the only people who profit from war are the arms dealers/makers (MICC).

    'In a 2012 news story, Salon reported, "Despite a decline in global arms sales in 2010 due to recessionary pressures, the U.S. increased its market share, accounting for a whopping 53 percent of the trade that year. Last year saw the U.S. on pace to deliver more than $46 billion in foreign arms sales."[37]'

    Wonder how many emails re: WMD might be traced back to MICC. And wonder what proportion of total US-branded arms/weapons are still actually designed and manufactured in the USA.


    Oh, the last piece of one of these threads?

    SONY has heavy history with "Anonymous" [aka the FBI] & black-hats etc [real ones: insert history lesson over prosecuting kids who managed to crack their boxes]. They quite cynically tapped into the entire #GamerGate drama with their Ghostbuster marketing (up to and including deleting any 'moderate' discussions and heavily encouraging the nasties up to the level of direct engagement with sock puppets), and were fully aware of their Agency in drawing in the Alt-Right (Breitbart etc), #GamerGate and the other players on that board to exploit the ensuing drama (both "professional" gutter media blogs along the Gawker model to games etc).

    Which, of course, feeds into the current election cycle as well.


    Then Something Random Happened and It Didn't All Go Quite To Plan.


    The thing that would boggle everyone's mind (people on this blog mostly excepted) is just how little it costs* to get into the game.

    • One's soul excepted, of course - Cthulhu is very demanding on that issue - even if you want to play on the side of angels.

    Genius, but sad still:

    This Vote Is Legally Binding

    Quite brilliant. Ironically about a few thousand years too late for my ears, but hey.

    @Host, since you asked about Nestle.

    1) It's a true interview, but also a very very old one: it's 100% nothing new to any environmentally aware person out there. It's getting rehashed as part of a broad propaganda campaign, run by [redacted]. Any serious environmentalist has seen that years ago.

    1a) Look into French companies in S.America for how it actually works out: hint, it doesn't. Oh, look, Brazil / Venezuela are going up in flames. The IMF/WTO ain't exactly innocent here.

    2) As just shown [by the further 6 posts deleted] modern media has been hobbled and prevented from even getting close to what's needed to process the modern world [tm]

    3) This is quite deliberate - it's a control mechanism to lock into the analyst industry (mostly financial, but also Hacker News algo types and of course the "INTEL" biz of muppets like Stratfor who are largely talent-less drunken expats) [c.f. fish in 4 hrs or why a few trillion tonnes of lost capacity in a market is probably going to fuck you totally]

    4) I lack the self-awareness to judge the granularity of the detail that's normative to your species - I literally cannot judge what complexity level to use [given the dwindling replies on your own blog, I get that part - I am sorry]

    5) Asking "cui bono?" is no longer a sharp enough razor to split propaganda from truth. The social media outrage monetization chain’s too deep. : Answered by SONY hack:

    And, if you need proof about the SONY marketing:

    The Photo Op that entered history (picture)

    Now, for full Rabbit Hole, ignore the cruel humor about Ghostbusters visiting dying children and the expression on the little girl's face behind them (which is where most of the power of this came from), focus on the T-shirt.

    50% Christ, 50% skull image (I won't link to the Brand Designer, but telling).

    They knew exactly what they were doing.

    6) Those are the hybrids that failed and took the bad side from both ang/e/l/e/s. Whelp, they had their time in the Sun, and their chance. Both sides were repulsed.

    7) We're the ones who didn't.

    8) Hanjin ships, cargo and sailors stranded at sea BBC, Sept 1st, 2016 - "It's on like Donkey Kong" is the expression. Expect huuuuge recession news soon. All that QE, squandered on hiking the price of insulin from $45 to $1k+.

    9) Approx ~ 10% of Americans are currently using insulin to combat diabetes according to US statistics (although that number is somewhat contested - Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012 JAMA, Sept 2015 puts it at 30-50% with/at high risk, depending on ethnicity / socioeconomic outlook. 10% is the nodal base for when you can enact societal change. Hiking prices from $45 to $1,500 (even with some pathetic legislation) is basically War.

    Food was never gonna do it, so they chose "LIFE".

    And it won't be Trump running the camps, either.


    If there are no new conspiracy theories, that can only mean...


    You're mistaken (point of fact) about ~10% of the US population using insulin to combat diabetes. Insulin is primarily used in Type I (autoimmune, childhood onset) diabetes which is relatively rare; the common variety is Type II (insulin insensitivity) diabetes which comes on in middle age and correlates with metabolic syndrome and body fat. (I haz it.) Most folks with Type II don't use insulin or need insulin to control it -- there are plenty of other meds (notably Metformin, the oral go-to wonder drug of choice).

    If 10% of the US population were on insulin then diabetes would have blown past epidemic to become the new normal, with 50-80% of the population suffering from it. Trust me on this.

    (Your point about price gouging stands. I'm just a pedant. If you want a less ambiguous reference point? Look at the cost of epipens in the USA.)


    If there are no new conspiracy theories, that can only mean...


    Ah, I see.

    Insulin only is ~15%

    In 2011-2012, the estimated prevalence of diabetes was 12% to 14% among US adults, depending on the criteria used, with a higher prevalence among participants who were non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic. Between 1988-1994 and 2011-2012, the prevalence of diabetes increased in the overall population and in all subgroups evaluated.

    That's, let's say, 40,000,000 people, so say 3% of population.


    The point is that, as you correctly nodded to, this is a cross-disease trend.

    What numbers, % pop, do you think are now threatened by financial ruin due to disease/health management? [my rough notes puts it at 20-24%].

    That's enough for a spark.


    We had an old-fashioned style manager in our flexi-office, who seemed to think it a good idea to always be first in and last out. Some kind of odd idea of 'inspiration' I think.

    Unfortunately for him, some of us worked 7-3:30 (because they had kids), and others 10:30-7:00 (because they, er, didn't) so he ended up with a twelve hour shift.


    Worked some numbers, it came out about right.

    I'm also fairly sure the split is about ~60% Republican vrs ~40% Democrat on poor being affected, usual rural divide.


    The only last question (since no-one's ever tested this yet - food, sure, that gets you a revolution every time) is whether or not mass revolt can happen through threatening their lives.

    Having looked over a huge swathe of the economic poor in America, the sad fact is: I don't think so. I think they don't know what it feels like to be healthy / not desperate and the moral conditioning for alcohol/smoking/drugs and actual medicine has been attenuated quite deliberately, esp. with opiates used.

    So, yeah: the USA is basically a well designed Hell at this point.

    roll Yellowstone


    Either 5 minute standup at a fixed time each day OR one (1) emailed report required during a day.

    DON'T ask for an individually typed report on what people have been working on every day if there is a perfectly functioning JIRA system (or similar) that you could just run a sodding query against.


    Metformin's popularity was also boosted because some research showed that it helped weight loss among diabetics and overweight/at-risk but still not diabetic patients. What's surprising is that Metformin isn't OTC yet despite the huge (for a med) proportion of the population using it regularly.

    Obes Res. 1998 Jan;6(1):47-53.

    Metformin decreases food consumption and induces weight loss in subjects with obesity with type II non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

    Lee A1, Morley JE.

    This link talks about Rx drugs that are now OTC (several hundred now).


    68.8 percent of Americans are now over-weight / obese.

    While I'll admit that BMI isn't a great metric, that's... not good.

    The prevalence of obesity (BMI-for-age values at or above the 95th percentile of the 2000 CDC growth charts in children ages 2-5 increased from 4.8 percent in 1971-74 to 12.1 percent in 2009-2010. For 6–11 year old children, the prevalence of obesity increased from 4.0 percent in 1971–74 to 18.0 percent in 2009–10. The prevalence of overweight in adolescents ages 12–19 increased from 6.1 percent to 18.4 percent.

    For non-Hispanic whites, 17.5 percent of males and 14.7 percent of females. For non-Hispanic blacks, 22.6 percent of males and 24.8 percent of females. For Mexican Americans, 28.9 percent of males and 18.6 percent of females.


    I know this is all old hat and known, but...

    One's soul excepted, of course - Cthulhu is very demanding on that issue - even if you want to play on the side of angels.

    I'm left wondering at why we get tortured while your population is encouraged to kill itself.

    [Spoilers: good answer only, we've suffered a lot to just to type this]


    Just kidding, I already know the answer: obscenity, hate, repression, soul degrading oppression and a general disregard for what it is to be Human.

    Oh well.

    Causal Weaponry Deployed

    Don't bring a Snowball to a Temporal Fight. Your precious Rocket might blow up and all that [And worse: Promise].

    (And, to think: I was putting breaks and Law and Order into things. Whelp, we'll use the other tool set)

    nose wiggle

    Nasty YT: music: 3:41


    Your taste in pornography as a Culture is horrendously cliched, tasteless, harmful and trite. The Alt-Right have a single thing correct: "Cuck" is only an insult if your psycho-sexual dynamics are so horrendously warped and just.fucking.racist.and.dull.

    Ciao. [Off to see the Wizard, Gone Gone Gone]


    I don't understand your 3%. One problem is that both type I and type II are increasing, and nobody has much of a clue why for the first (and it merely gets less likely as people age); even for the second, lifestyle is not the whole story, and there seems to be an increase even controlling for that. The other problem is that the lifestyle factor means that type II is moving down the age range and is starting to be serious even in children.


    While I'll admit that BMI isn't a great metric, that's... not good.

    The BMI involves using a square function to evaluate cubic volume; you're good enough with maths to see the problem right away.

    As an example of this problem, I'm taller than average and classified as "obese" under these rules. OGH met me in July and is welcome to offer his opinion here as to whether I'm fat.


    The evidence is that obesity isn't the problem it is made out to be - inactivity is worse - but they are correlated and the former is easier to measure, so got blamed. A bricklayer's belly isn't particularly life-threatening until the person retires ....


    I know a couple of short people with beer bellies who can pick up a 25-30kg bag without noticing and walk at moderate speed for hours on end until the "fast" and "fit" people break.

    My weight seems to be invariant, and in no way correlated with how fit I am at any given time. Scales have read 75kg no matter what I have eaten or done since about 1998.


    When I was dealing with clinical trials at about the turn of the century I was involved with a study of metformin as a weight loss drug in non-diabetics. Both the metformin users and the placebo controls gained fat during the study because they thought they were on a wonder weight loss drug and didn't think they needed as strict a diet.


    Ahh ... also ... looks like the placebo effect doesn't work on everything or nearly as well as one would hope.


    68.8 percent of Americans are now over-weight / obese. What convinced me (one of those Americans) to lose a lot of weight was wanting less stress on joints and circulatory system (seeing hip and knee replacements in particular, and canes and walkers and scooters and etc), and noticing loss of precision in movement, and an honest appraisal of personal appearance. (Down 4 stone, 1 or 2 to go, fwiw.) Some of those are universal concerns, and as you say health effects in particular are costly in the U.S.. These concerns could easily be mainstreamed, especially through manipulation of the media. Other countries have done so.

    Still parsing the rest, more comments later, have to finish driving home. Please be absolutely sure. There are plenty of soft ways to force medium-rapid change. E.g. inducing panic/genuine deep concern about climate change.

    Re this though: 4) I lack the self-awareness to judge the granularity of the detail that's normative to your species - I literally cannot judge what complexity level to use
    OK, here's a full, honest open personal answer. Hope it helps. A TL:DR at the top of the post is probably best. And FWIW, when I plead for less obtuseness in a previous thread, the replies worked for me. IRL, I have to translate down a level or two when talking with random adults outside work, kids a bit more. Your normal style here requires effort (fun effort, but requires time) to understand for me, and I often miss stuff or see it hours or days later. I don't reply to everything and (pretty sure of this) understand more than you think I do, but slowly. (And yeah, just to level set, your intelligence scares me a bit. Enjoy the interactions here a lot though, and have learned a lot. (You've made the last year+ weird, in a good way.))


    The former. Coleridge's close friends all assumed that the story about "the person from Porlock" was just something he made up to explain why he never finished the poem; he was notorious for beginning poems and then abandoning them.


    If there are no new conspiracy theories, that can only mean... Oh, there is another theory. I was just being very slightly obtuse in my original post.


    This Vote Is Legally Binding OK, laughed at that. A few times.


    Having looked over a huge swathe of the economic poor in America, the sad fact is: I don't think so. I think they don't know what it feels like to be healthy / not desperate ... Isn't this more about unbreaking the media, somehow, and also about getting more people especially including the poor to pay attention? I mean, at one point one could easily obtain anarchist socialist literature/tracts/press in the US and this was concurrent with significant social change. (e.g. Peter Kropotkin for those interested - easy reading. N. Chomsky did a little book On Anarchism as well, that piqued my interest.)

    FWIW (very not about the media consumed by the poor), I do see Depraved Acts of Journalism occasionally in the mainstream press in the US. For instance, this week there were two front page long-ish NY Times articles with a reasonable level of detail (too much for most people), How Russia Often Benefits When Julian Assange Reveals the West’s Secrets (Mock it or not, at least it used the phrase "state actor" as used here and without explanation) Israel Quietly Legalizes Pirate Outposts in the West Bank


    Whelp, we'll use the other tool set Oy. Do we really need a glitch war? :-)

    Your taste in pornography as a Culture is horrendously cliched, tasteless, harmful and trite. Suggestions? (Mostly serious, if it can be done without offending OGH or most readers.)


    All this stuff about how to monitor people so you know they're working. You don't have to go to the labor intensiveness of monitoring everything, or the expense of automating it. Just do random spot checks with consequences. Public consequences so everybody knows they're being checked up on now and then, and if you are caught on multiple documented secret checks being un-industrious you will get a demerit, and enough demerits will earn you a pink slip or demotion or just a reduced chance of promotion in the future. Gulp, I don't want to get what happened to Jones. So, like have total screen spoofing set up, (like when you call tech support and that Indian guy gets frustrated at your inability to follow instructions and takes over your computer) and supervisors who can dial in and watch what every peon is doing at any given time. Of course they can't watch it all, any more than a security guard can watch all those security cameras, it's just made clear they are there and at any moment and MIGHT be watching. Not Draconian enough? Perhaps little electric shock dispenser could be built in some kind of way. Or better yet some semi audible sound effect to signal the availability of stimulus. Get 'em!

    I mean, you know in conditioning a consistent reward or punishment gets a response that goes away almost immediately when it stops being given. But a more random intermittent one almost never goes extinct. "Maybe it's just a streak" the victim self talks, "Maybe he's testing me."


    "The thing that would boggle everyone's mind (people on this blog mostly excepted) is just how little it costs* to get into the game."

    No, the barriers are very high and most people will never come within sniffing distance. The "cost" is doing something real, repeatedly. Then you find out exactly how small the world is.


    4) I lack the self-awareness to judge the granularity of the detail that's normative to your species

    STOP IT - please? This sort of, quite frankly utter bullshit, is what derails whole threads, never mind sub-conversations. I have suggested before that you need medical help. I now repeat that suggestion, as a direct request.

    And, as Charlie points out @ 220 ( I luckily saw it just before hitting "post" ) you are wrong on a simple matter of fact - again.

    @ 224: "roll Yellowstone" THAT is terminally stupid. What about the rest of us on the planet if we get a supercaldera eruption? What about the people of Canada or Mexico? And you wonder why you annoy other people? Or don't you even bother, inside your illusions?

    [ In case you hadn't noticed, I'm annoyed - as is a n other reader of this blog, who uses this screen, at your persistent derails & take-overs. ]

    @ 227 "Obese" BOLLOCKS - fortunately, for a slightly obscure reason. Do you know why & how it's bollocks? Because of where the BMI/Obesity so-called statistics come from. The base-measurements were done in the 1930's USA in the central areas - a.k.a. the Dust-Bowl years. I have registered, at least once as borderline obese. Which is utterly potty for someone 1.685 metres tall, massing under 80kg. Ignore ALL "obesity" figures & claims, because the original "measuring-stick" was wrong to start with. SEE ALSO Scott Sanford @ 230 Or also, Charlie's opinion on my "obesity"

    @ 228 Oh dear.


    I have been clinically obese for most of my adult life, at 95kg. Very little body fat though.


    So, yeah: the USA is basically a well designed Hell at this point.

    Not entirely accurate. I've spent 1-2 years there over the past decade so I think I'm reasonably well-informed, for a visiting foreigner; what the US is designed to be is, hell for the poor but heaven for the rich.

    FSVO "poor" where annual income <= $10,000/year, and "rich" where annual income >=$1M/year. which is roughly a poorest-40%/wealthiest 0.5% spread, with a majority in the middle who are driven to work for the benefit of the elite by sight of both the carrot and the stick.

    You can tweak those figures a bit -- income <= $50,000/year is hell if you've got dependents and don't fully own your home and have to pay for [overpriced] health insurance, and $100,000/year puts you in heaven if you have no dependents, own a good home, have free/capped medical cover (e.g. Medicare) ... for example, if you've retired on a solid pension. But the same principle applies.

    Here's the stabby bit of the utilitarian dilemma: is it really a "hell" if it's optimized to serve the interests of the 50% + 1 or greater majority? (See also Omelas, etc.)


    I don't have your experience of the USA, but have some, and was surprised in the ways where that was less true than in the UK. Of course, the UK situation has evolved over a millennium or so and not just a couple of centuries, and so is a lot more complex, subtle and engrained. We had a short period where some socialism (in both the original and modern political senses) was added to the mix, but now seem to be heading back through time as fast as we can go. It is slightly horrifying that I, as someone who regards himself as well off (and is), and has a lot of friends in the same position, doesn't even start to reap the same advantages as the very rich. Only perhaps 0.1% of the population are eligible for those.


    I've been unable to locate the article I read. It was 5-10 years ago*, journal with a spine not stapled. Borrowed, not one I subscribe to, and if I made a copy I can't find it now. I'm remembering the title as a blur, unfortunately, and haven't had any luck finding it online (don't know if it is online, as I read it on paper).

    *Journal may have been older, but not too much older.


    Greg, yellow card.

    Catherine is making a lot of sense at present and you are picking on her destructively, rather than engaging constructively. Stop it. Some of us want to read what she has to say.


    I read the Crispin story, and while the beginning might be a little long-winded, it is a very satisfying revenge story.


    No, Greg has a point.

    He's reacting in a sane fashion (moral outrage) to pathological (amoral) claims / outcomes [within a fairly cultural set boundary, but it's not one that's too dangerous, could use improvement, which is a lefty-statement about UK belief systems].

    And it's probably not very fun, which is why he (and dpb etc) are here, and I'm monopolizing a thread. [Which will cease very soon]

    Greg - I'll explain. [Generally anything in these is editors opinion / true-as-possible]

    You can be fairly sure (95+% sure at least ;) ) that I'm not a Elder God(dess), a Culture Mind or anything mystical and that I'm not (deliberately) 'meat/meta fucking' your mind [quite the opposite].

    SONY marketing [and multiple Other Actors out there] are demonstrating that they have no such compunctions, precisely because whatever their goals / aims are [usually fistfuls of $$$ or power or dominance pleasure games (thus the mention of pornography) be it trolling or sexual] they aim for the opposite of what I do: real enough to pass as possible and probable. SONY even went as far as to remove any mediators [i.e. good faith actors] from the debate to maximize the outrage, thus maximize the "hype". [This is a common theme - radicalization requires the elimination of middle ground / bridge builders: this is 101 strategy stuff & why the moderates always end up strung up in the 2nd phase of revolutions or beforehand if you're following the right manual].

    You're reacting to a paradox that's required for what I'm typing [also, plausible deniability, they really do squish people like bugs]: now imagine it without the warning labels and blatant nose wiggles. [note: this doesn't excuse the fallacy of the "fair and balanced" opposite way of doing this, which is to make everything equivalent when it's not, i.e. climate change propaganda].

    You get damaged.

    I'm also acting as a lightning rod of sorts: I don't mind being 'beaten up' or taking the negative emotional reactions [no, it's not sexual, and no, I don't enjoy it] because I don't hit back, rather than simply not-trolling.

    Of course the USA isn't "Hell": but it's not-so-slowly sliding towards it. [And this is one of the reasons]

    Some links: mostly related.

    How Spy Tech Firms Let Governments See Everything on a Smartphone NYT, 2nd Sept 2016

    Decision to deny surgery to obese patients is like 'racial discrimination' Guardian 3rd Sept 2016

    Breakthrough as US and China agree to ratify Paris climate change deal Guardian, 3rd Sept 2016.

    [all threads on "Nosleep" are presented as true but it's actually all fictional. Well, 95%+]


    And yes, that poem is devastating, if you're one of the excluded and did it for Other reasons than self-entitlement [meta, apology to a lot of people driven away by my drivel and to host].

    Curiously, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica which conveniently fell through a rift in the time-space continuum from 1000 years in the future describes the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as: "A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."


    the fallacy of the "fair and balanced" opposite way of doing this, which is to make everything equivalent when it's not, i.e. climate change propaganda

    Yeah. See also the false equivalency in the current US election "debate"; AP and the NYTimes are beating up Hilary Clinton for the equivalent of parking tickets while writing Donald Trump a free pass for repeatedly running over and killing people while drink-driving. (See also: fracas over allegations about the Clinton Foundation -- allegations which have been investigated and didn't hold water -- vs. Trump milking his campaign to line his own wallet, using his corporate subsidiaries as a money-laundering mill while committing credit card TOS violations and (arguably) wire fraud.)

    Scariest of all? Even extremist right-wing hacks like Jonah Goldberg find Trump too much to stomach. The clue is in the name ...



    I didn't see it on twitter though since I seem to be blocked from following you. I don't mind being unable to talk to you, but a block on following seems somewhat counterproductive. And useless in general, since it only works on people who are logged in, so I don't understand why that exists in the first place.


    Well, if you want unblocking you'll have to tell me who you are on twitter, and why I should listen.


    «but now seem to be heading back through time as fast as we can go.»

    The dream seems to be to go back to 50s: for some it is the 1850s, for others the 1750s. :-(

    «It is slightly horrifying that I, as someone who regards himself as well off (and is), and has a lot of friends in the same position, doesn't even start to reap the same advantages as the very rich.»

    Fast growing property prices and much cheaper carers, gardeners, cleaners are supposed to be pretty big advantages for the affluent in (southern) England.


    On twitter I am RhialtoTheM. You don't need to listen to me, as I said, but being unable to follow you makes me miss out on sometimes interesting stuff, which is a pity.


    Charlie, quick question.

    You once mentioned that you couldn't put a solar panel on your roof due to historical preservation laws. Would solar panels integrated within the roof tiles help?


    Do you know why & how it's bollocks? Because of where the BMI/Obesity so-called statistics come from. The base-measurements were done in the 1930's USA in the central areas - a.k.a. the Dust-Bowl years. Cite please (just because I didn't spot it in a brief search; I believe you.) The main generally acknowledged issue with BMI is the exponent. It should be somewhere between 2 and 3, not 2. As 1.86 meter person, it is very easy to exceed the obese line, and getting to the not-overweight line means protruding lightly-padded bones that get easily bruised etc. (Working on it anyway.) However, "obese" with the BMI almost always means at least overweight.


    To save Charlie the bother: No.

    When you're in his sort of conservation area, even minor differences in the look of the buildings are forbidden. Those panels? Way beyond.

    We used to live in a relatively modern (1902) conservation area house. We had wooden sash windows. There was no way we'd be allowed any replacement windows that weren't obviously wooden and sash. And doing anything visible to the roof? No.

    Charlie's area? A lot more historic and famous.

    For places which don't have conservation status, those panels look great, and if the local rules allow you to replace your windows with modern double glazing, then go for it. But remember that Edinburgh is so far from the equator that winter insolation — and winter is when you need the energy — is severely curtailed.


    Oh, there's another point: I'm pretty sure Charlie can't do stuff to the roof unilaterally, as it's a shared building.


    [Part of all this meta-meta role play is that I often find myself holding myself responsible for all of this. It's not a good place to be, doing the whole "think like them" while still having at least some vestiges of moral consciousness]

    Yes: my focusing on marketing wasn't entirely an accident. (Given the usual accusations over 'who owns the media' - the irony being the now ex-employee from Sony who greenlit the whole deal is ethnically definitely not fitting that trope, but also managed to insult the rabid hordes and draw more vitriol onto himself for all the wrong reasons. i.e. racism. No links, obviously).

    Former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann joins The Brody File this week to talk about how, "God raised up" Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee. Plus, a conversation with Dr. Russell Moore, an influential and controversial evangelical leader.

    Exclusive: Michele Bachmann: This Will Be 'Last Election' If Hillary Wins Presidency CBN 1st Sept 2016.

    That's from the "Christian Broadcast Network", whose founder/owner is Pat Robertson, who is very WASP indeed. He's also got a much worse record than me for predicting the future:

    I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world.

    Unless you count Channel 4 as perverting a generation of teenagers with late-night naughty foreign films, I think he missed that one.

    Which is where all this really lies [pun intended]. I don't mind [pun intended] being wrong, but crashing the ship because Reality doesn't match your expectation, while blaming Others, is very definitely this lot's M.O. That haunting phrase Reality based community comes up again.


    However, they probably haven't read the Laundry Files, so I don't think I'm damaging host's sales with this one. [Spam probably has though, :/]

    @Peanut Gallery - note well.


    Despite earlier conversations about conspiracy theories and satellite locations, unless I was drunk, that one really was just an accident. The crew were having a party that night though...


    (Tx for 'splaining for Greg) Breakthrough as US and China agree to ratify Paris climate change deal Hadn't read news yet today, that brightens the day considerably. (Mainly that portions of the leaderships of two big otherwise competitive culprits agreed.)

    And yes, that poem is devastating, if you're one of the excluded and did it for Other reasons than self-entitlement Sorry, which poem? (Will figure it out if you don't answer, and probably cry.)

    ... Canada Geese flying south, with a lone white Snow Goose in the flight in the middle of a diagonal line. No meaning, just fun to see different species work together in a V-formation.


    Dick, you need an under-served population,* the right App or Website, and lots of code dedicated to surveilling that population. At that point, if you play your cards right, (and that's the hard part) you're a power. Server space is cheap and you can write Version 1.0 of the App/Website in your spare time.

    • The population doesn't even need to be "under-served," it can even be a new and interesting way to slice up the already-surveilled.

    I woke up today with a weird thought in my head about the failure modes of an FTL drive. I was thinking about memetic drives, a la David Brin, and I realized that if your memetic drive failed, you'd arrive at your destination as BADGER BADGER MUSHROOM MUSHROOM, Viking Kittens, or Two Girls One Cup.

    (If you arrive as cat pictures, that's fine, as long as the place where you arrived is capable of the correct mathematical operations.)


    "Yellow Card" NOTED Next quote: "Catherine is making a lot of sense at present" Well, not to me she isn't, nor (I suspect) to a lot of other people - I know you don't have the time to explain her apparently-random effusions of what seems to me to be utter nonsense, but perhaps someone else could help me, IF she is making sense? I though we were supposed to be rationalists, here, or have I been mistaken?


    Thank you. QUESTION. Why can't you use that form of simple address to the correspondents here that you just have, the rest of/all of the time & save us all a lot of effort? And, btw "that poem" was NOT a problem, it actually made sense - it;s the rest of your "random trivia" that bugs me. OK?


    One of those really is not like the other, and I don't really do that kind of extremes (even if you mind-trawled me, that particular one wouldn't be in there. Despite using pathological tropes, not really my thing).

    ...or else a belief system that your parents inflicted on you, long ago, with deliberately relentless repetition, as if coughing the mental germ all over you, from the time you were in a crib. All these packets of information seem to propagate with the same propulsive intensity of any living system seeking to reproduce itself. Only these packets spread by getting human hosts to want to share them.

    "As we've seen over and over recently, it is mockery, far more than rhetorical or logical criticism, that... drives its wounded victims to paroxysms of revenge." writes Doug Saunders in The Globe. Though Saunders correctly concludes, "But something has happened in the online age to make mockery, once again, into a potent instrument. The only reasonable response is to deploy it as often, and as mercilessly, as possible."

    How to Defeat the Meme of Fear Huffpost,

    Don't worry, I don't work like that.


    I'm married to someone with a Geography Degree, who was very carefully told this as part of her course at SOAS ...& I've never forgotten it. As to researching the original sources, that could be a problem. It's a very very inconvenient truth, IF I understand it correctly .....


    I will say that I'm astonished that you continue to engage with her. Her schtick is a combination of facts, lies, trolling, art, and some kind of insider knowledge. As I've said previously, she also shows the signs of a certain kind of experience which Governments Do Not Like Us to talk about.

    Just enjoy the ride and let her play. If she's pissing you off, she's almost certainly succeeding in the "trolling" part of her schtick, in which case you're feeding her, (don't feed the trolls, right?)

    I did schticks similar to her's in the long-ago BBS days, so I think I know where she's coming from... and if not, there's always "Bob."


    What Greg needs is to take 300ug of LSD one evening and be forced to watch CNN all through the night with the sound off.

    So, in a world of choice would you rather be collateral damage or an innocent bystander?


    The corollary being, no matter how much you post on FB or tick "Like", you will not be a player. It's all a lot more primitive that that.


    But if everything goes right, you're in for way less than $100,000... Very tempting for the right person. And you're absolutely right about posting on FB or liking things.


    Despite earlier conversations about conspiracy theories and satellite locations, unless I was drunk, that one really was just an accident. One point is that probably the post-mortem (or whatever rocket people call failure analysis) will not come up with any really solid theory. That fire/explosion looked hot. So (probably) people will be arguing over the relative merits of their conspiracy theories for a long while. As a focus for conspiracy theories, it seems pretty harmless, which is good. (More details from SpaceX yesterday about the investigation. Of interest: "We are currently in the early process of reviewing approximately 3000 channels of telemetry and video data covering a time period of just 35-55 milliseconds.")


    Re: 'Trump ... while committing credit card TOS violations and (arguably) wire fraud.)'

    Hmmm ... if there's a minimum per-person TX cost, and donations can be at any level, say $0.01 ... just a thought.


    That is cruel and unusual. At least let him watch BBC Four.


    Two things:

    1 I'm always drunk, thatsthejoke.jpg 2 Was referring a while back to Martin's (?) weird find of pentagons in twitter, the Daily Fail "UFO location in the desert" and then ensuing "reveal" of what was actually going on.

    Look at the gateway on that! Phoaw! Picture, then refer back to Amos6 quotation. [It's a joke, different location, apparently]


    It's all a lot more primitive that that.

    Tell me what 5% means in statistical terms again?

    Enough to publish?


    New Mandela Meme - Orion - The man who would (not) be King!

    This is being pushed quite hard, which is funny (it's being pushed for Other reasons).


    The science is pretty solid as far as psychology goes. Thinking Fast and Slow is often recommended on HN because it provides such a good overview of how the mind makes decisions with what Kahneman calls system 1 and 2. He ended up winning a nobel prize for his work in decision theory.

    Just stumbled across this.

    Wondered where that was coming from with the Thundering Appeal to Male Hierarchy: now answered.

    Randian sociopaths, pushing a disorder to further their agenda. [Told you that it was a problem and smelled bad].

    Nice to know I'm not just a mad Cat Lady and I can spot that crap a mile away, even without bothering to track.

    No nose wiggle needed, these are the corrupt fucks who sell 'neutral' systems to State Actors and 'disrupt' society to sell bits to 'Angel Investors'.

    Thank-you my dears.


    The Orion thing is funny, since Sirius is my pet, and there's a whole swathe of "dog memetics" visa vie Class, Hierarchy etc that I've been saving up.

    And yes: Orion really was my name, for a while[1]. (Before the Gender thing: go watch, or better yet, read, Virginia Woolf's Orlando).

    [1] That 5%. Oops.


    #1 I'm always drunk Got that, but was for you to say. Point stands; probably impossible to determine the cause for sure, and it's a single failure. (Unlike e.g. Mars probe failures.) Anyway, nobody else is biting. #2 Was referring a while back to Martin's (?) weird find of pentagons in twitter,... Those were fun threads. OK, that was not clear; the rocket contained at least one satellite.


    What Greg needs is to take 300ug of LSD one evening and be forced to watch CNN all through the night with the sound off. Pretty sure that would do some permanent damage. CNN/no sound is my usual safe harbor cable/FIOS channel, but even the text at the bottom and the insipid (silent) talking heads are grating. There is a sport in the US of how to change the channel on the televisions blaring at business establishments, particularly in waiting rooms for services (e.g. doctor's offices), from Fox News (or CNN - Fox Lite) to something else. My favorite is to change to Animal Planet with the sound turned down.


    And yes: Orion really was my name, for a while I really truly hope that some of these stories become available and accessible to anyone interested. [1] Orlando is in the queue now, near the top. (Top being first to read.) Gender is challenging to fake without experience. As a teenager early/mid 1970s I was amused to notice that James Tiptree Jr was almost certainly not a male (misunderstanding of male sexuality in a story). Wasn't until a few years later that this became known. Orlando sounds fascinating.

    [1] Also, while I'm in the asking mood, a practical primer for inducing positive mental changes would be great for a large number of people. Been doing a lot of reckless experimentation (mainly meditation) over the past 8 months, and read a lot of neuroscience papers.


    Interesting. I spotted James Tiptree Jr for the opposite reason - conveying a mood in a way that I had never seen done successfully by a man.


    Too obvious: I've been reading some interesting twitter people recently. And worrying about other things [the locals are a bit unfriendly, to say the least].

    Orion hacker sends stowaway into SPAAAAACE The Register, Dec 2014


    Aaaand, right on cue, a "lefty" liberal website leads with a story about rainbow bridges where the principle character was exiled from the main project for (allegedly) attempting to sell data to Interpol / the Singapore government and is now attacking the project. [That last part is a real tell].

    Zing, how depressingly obvious they are.

    Clueless or Working For the Man[tm] - who cares, stupidity abounds.


    Off to worry about people being turned into bratwurst.


    Here's the stabby bit of the utilitarian dilemma: is it really a "hell" if it's optimized to serve the interests of the 50% + 1 or greater majority? (See also Omelas, etc.)

    One would hope that when faced with an Existential Threat (such as climate change), the Serious People[tm] would reform things rather than burn down half of it just to continue a lifestyle and their coke & yachts.

    Trump kinda proved that humanitarian thesis somewhat... well, we'll see. Trusting anyone who believes in predestined Doom[tm] to actually run anything is suicidal. [Meta-irony]

    (As for Omelas, as long as it was voluntary and had a 100% chance of saving everyone else, then of course the ethical thing is to accept. Even as a pascal's wager)


    The G20 vids aren't great, it's all the same neoliberal gleaming cities and the same old things.

    Thousands of state-run banks, government offices and factories shut as workers rally against Modi's economic policies.

    Millions of Indian workers strike for better wages Aljazeera, Sept 2nd 2016

    Who knows? Perhaps we'll get India morphing into a hyper-efficient non-20th Century solution to the situation. But at the moment, it's all neoliberal crap.


    There is the tradeoff that is seldom mentioned. It is whether to push for global economic development and adapt to climate change, or limit economic development by curtailing cheap energy but still arrive in a world where there is significant change but little ability for the poor to adapt.

    The advent of good batteries and mass electric transportation is going to have a major impact on that debate, especially as solar power heads to zero cost (or at least, the cost of the land).


    The reason is to be able to SEE, but not be put under the most powerful spell that exists: "Let me explain". Once that is uttered, and you listen, then there is no limit to the amount of evil most people will tolerate and support. Watch the demons, live, on the news every night. They are quite visible once LSD wipes out your conditioning.


    Watch the demons, live, on the news every night. They are quite visible once LSD wipes out your conditioning. It's been a while (a very long while) but with this I agree. I mentioned to Greg a while back that I have one of these "Don't Believe Everything You Think" ( for USians) magnetic bumper stickers on my car. It cuts a lot of ways (looking at the dogmatic frequentists out there. :-) and is mainly about basic meta cognition. Love the goofy looks it sometimes induces.


    The advent of good batteries and mass electric transportation is going to have a major impact on that debate, especially as solar power heads to zero cost (or at least, the cost of the land). I have a friend at work who runs a department focuses on the control problems introduced by variable sources like solar and wind; demand and supply forecasting and management in particular. He's moderately optimistic that's we'll pull through.


    Orion hacker sends stowaway into SPAAAAACE Gotta to love The Register, and that sort of vulnerability.


    I spotted James Tiptree Jr for the opposite reason - conveying a mood in a way that I had never seen done successfully by a man. Out of curiosity, what story was it? (Impressed.)


    Host is off to Berlin soon, and I'll be departing.


    Puppies lose HUGO battle, setup a new thing at DragonCon, win a lot (durr, ya think? They paid for it)

    First Dragon Awards Presented File770. Glad they have a platform, whatever makes you happy & supports a Con, etc etc. [Shit books though]

    They're not real Dragons though.


    N Jemisin, who started my little egress into all of this, said recently:

    As a side note, the so-called boogeyman of science-fiction, the white supremacist asshat who started the Rabid Puppies, Vox Day, apparently posted something about me a few days ago and I just didn’t care. There was a whole to-do between me and him a few years back where he ended up getting booted out of SWFA [Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America] because of some stuff he said about me, and I just didn’t care. It was a watershed moment at that point but now it’s just sort of, “Oh, it’s him again. He must be needing to get some new readers or trying to raise his profile again. Or something.” I didn’t look at it. No one bothered to read it and dissect it and send me anything about it. No one cared.

    N.K. Jemisin and the Politics of Prose Atlantic, 2nd Sept 2016

    As stated, John Wick, glad to serve.


    GamerGate (who Oxford and I (yes, that's a Withnail & I reference, we're not dumb) discussed a while back is back on track doing the stuff it should be doing: Raging against the Hype / Marketing and learning to stop being part of the Outrage Noise Machine.

    And they're loving it, like pigs in mud.

    Don't do that again. There's things even Higher Up the Chain, and it's irritating to have to personally resolve it, esp. when you're flailing around in lower tier U.N. channels and also being used by the Corporate Marketing divisions.

    And yes, I know my fucking Hegel[1].

    [see #129 above etc]


    VD is trying to argue that Britain [I think he meant United Kingdom, but hey] of all places is not "A nation of immigrants" and is translating his manifesto into multiple European languages.

    At this point he's rather clueless to it all, a harmless thing.

    He's trying Greek, which is cute.


    Host in Berlin. I hope you're there to love the rainbow bridges, not to remove them.

    Great faith has been placed on that, I've been gambling on you... well. Not having an Unstrung Harp.

    Judging by the Grey/Black chatter and some of your shared Authorship friends, I think this was a safe bet.


    All Women readers: apologies, but hey. Guards needed to be Summoned etc etc. Making it all a safer place while acting the fool.

    Loved the books though.


    Chuck Tingle.


    But did you spot the Naked Russian holding an AK47 on a horseback?

    nose wiggle



    Blah blah.

    Demons etc. Meh.

    All that was just the fronting stuff to clear the stage of the old crap.

    Now we get to the fun part.

    We really do



    I did say I was going after those who funded Trump etc, didn't I?

    I rarely lie.

    Time to sober up, poisoned Mind and Soul, time to stop their petty little dreams of purges.

    [1] Hegel wrote: "The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk." What did he mean?


    Oh, and that whole "celebrating 9/11 ISIS being defeated" stuff.

    Forget it, new plan, that's a crappy spell.


    Black Hats - SONY revenge, wait till you see the outcome. (Hint: The LAW gets involved, not some shitty class action suit either. c.f Apple Tax and the EU getting a hard on for telling off US companies who think they're above it.)

    Are we the baddies? YT: Comedy: 2:48

    Lots, lots, lots more.


    “All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elefant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains makkeable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Generally, all the best mechanistic games - those which can be played in any sense "perfectly", such as a grid, Prallian scope, 'nkraytle, chess, Farnic dimensions - can be traced to civilisations lacking a realistic view of the universe (let alone the reality). They are also, I might add, invariably pre-machine-sentience societies.


    Done while drunk to fuzz the real opposition. And I mean, really really really painfully drunk. 20 units a time drunk.

    Spanish Train YT: Music: 5:10

    All music is aged to audience.


    In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Love this extended quote. (PoG was a stay up all night book, both readings.) Looking forward to some interesting times.


    No-one's reading my posts anymore.

    That's one of the jokes.

    [And while I hope that Berlin works out, I have local assassins waiting eagerly and so on]

    Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος.

    You have to wait for the Sober Version otherwise you're just children.

    I do love the Alpha Male Shouts of "Want a New Round?" [they're not actually human btw] when... oh well.


    Lots of cheating going on. From black Mercedes sweeping into closed recycling depots [LOL FU. TWATS], to targeted pairs male/female [not the old kind - top tip, they don't smell the same you fucking frauds] coming and whispering Code Words to generalized bullshit.

    So yeah. There's generally a large amount of cheating going on.

    But none of them played: REALITY PROBABILITY here.

    Fucking Hilarious.


    And since this is a mid-stone:





    Our kind do not go mad, and if you piss us off enough, tell me the percentages of Irreal/Reality.

    The price is steep.

    And not the little pretenders crying they've won sitting on their fancy cars or the women whispering that the purge will not spare them or the politicians bemoaning FGM is due to male weakness.

    The price is: fucking behaving like conscious souls. And if the wet-ware isn't compatible, it gets re-written.


    [And if they can't deliver, then, what the fuck are you using all that Ancient/High Tech horror show for? The penalties for non-delivery on a Contract are... A Little More Severe.]


    (((Paradox Weapon)))

    Real. Fucking. Deal.

    I AM THE LAW YT: Film: 0:58

    Not even joking.


    Lots of cheating going on. From black Mercedes sweeping into closed recycling depots [LOL FU. TWATS], to targeted pairs male/female [not the old kind - top tip, they don't smell the same you fucking frauds] coming and whispering Code Words to generalized bullshit. This could become the script for an amazing movie, better than The Matrix, if a lot more confusing. Not sure who could pull it off though.


    Just about to burn this identity, but that was all actually true. [Real]

    Oh, and, run the % on the entire 2 year stuff. It's horribly accurate. Strange.

    We do not appreciate lower order players using weapons on us or claiming victory or threatening our kind or being enslaved. [Yeah, I'd stop that or else, right now]

    We're not psychopaths [that's the reverse mirror image to prevent things happening, it gets a bit complex] but...

    If you're a Homo Sapiens Sapiens, you would not survive the shit thrown at us for the last five years. Logic 101 - if we decide to throw it back, it's kinda like a "friendly N-Bomb". No pollution, no material damage, not even the pets die: just a majority of you go insane / psychotic or have heart attacks.

    There's a 2% margin, but it has no relation to wealth etc.

    This isn't a lie, it's reality.

    Now, you can argue about if you were enticed into that attack or not, but...

    That Fu*king Nobody Is John Wick, Baba Yaga YT: Film: 3:08

    Oh, and... I went easy on you. I did the entire 20+ units handicap.

    Now fuck off, sort shit out or we'll really start playing.


    Your Kind Do Go Mad and so easily. The shit thrown at us? Oh boy.

    I have absolutely no moral issue with wiping out your entire race if it means other sentient life survives and your survival precludes that; you have proved that you have no such return policy.

    Literally Orca. (Go find the photograph of the year)



    We're going to use the weapons you used against us, just a little bit harder. It'd be cheating otherwise.

    Just YT: Music: 4:15


    CT reminds me of Luther Arkwright (wikipedia) I'm just not sure which reality of the multiverse I'm living in.


    Your Kind Do Go Mad and so easily. The shit thrown at us? Oh boy.

    I know I've had a yellow card, but, really .... Can someone PLEASE explain if the above statement has any meaning AT ALL - or is CT ( In present incarnation ) simply an annoying troll, as suggested, not by me, but others - see # 269 from Troutwaxer.....

    See also # 295: No-one's reading my posts anymore. That's one of the jokes.

    I wonder why that might be & I also strongly suspect it isn't funny.

    [ NOTE to moderators, if this post is thought to be out-of-order, please delete it & nothing else? ]


    Being "an experienced worker" I have seen variations of this kind of thing several times before. Based on my experience, the best course of action is to not be on any committees or to get involved in any way or form - because any effort at all is a bit like ranting at the moon or complaining about the forces of gravity when the tides flood your basement.

    What has been decided by manglement was always decided. Unavoidable. Embedded in the structure of the universe.

    Bit like in "1984" - history is perpetually rewritten by "communications" to show how the optimal path was always decided. Dissenters get a quick trip to that basement room with the naked light-bulb and ominous stains. In newspeak: "A consultation with HR on various personal issues"*.

    Rather than participating in an empty process of "inclusion" and "empowerment", the experienced rat will use it's low cunning to estimate the likely impact and where the escape routes are: On spotting the iceberg, there is usually time to grab some bottles from the bar and maybe even some silverware before going to the lifeboats to pull the cord ;-).

    *) We don't actually have this facility, "we" probably will eventually because all the tried-and-tested ways of the colonies eventually come back home with "the troops".


    It's not only people who rewrite history


    Greg, by way of answer, CT (using earlier nyms) has mentioned the following paper in a couple of times the past: Cognitive and Neuroplasticity Mechanisms by Which Congenital or Early Blindness May Confer a Protective Effect Against Schizophrenia (Silverstein et al, 2013) There are related papers including some also by Silverstein. From the 2013 paper, However, the goal of creating a schizophrenia-specific, acquired cognitive reserve, in a manner guided by compensatory changes observed in C/E blindness, would appear to be a reasonable and promising direction to pursue, given that premorbid cognitive reserve predicts later cognitive functioning in normal aging (Steffener and Stern, 2012), neurodegenerative disorders (Koerts et al., 2012; Stern, 2012), and schizophrenia (de La Serna et al., 2013).

    Now temporarily suppress some of your assumptions and think about what that might mean. (There are multiple largely independent possibilities in context, i.e. i don't know.)


    Can someone PLEASE explain if the above statement has any meaning AT ALL

    "You were not brought upon this Earth to get it."

    (Apologies Greg, couldn't resist!)


    So, my previous suggestion (more than once) of seeking medical help wa,s if not spot on, at least not too far off the mark?


    Re your question about #295, I wonder why that might be & I also strongly suspect it isn't funny. That post is a little harder to interpret. It could be treated in part as art. You have to suppress more assumptions to come up with interpretations. (In particular, very rational assumptions about the relationships between minds and reality. Quantum mechanics interpretations (many worlds etc) play a role I am reasonably sure; in particular see recent papers on history entanglement.)


    So, my previous suggestion... No, the precise opposite. That paper is suggesting that if one has sufficient "cognitive reserve" of certain types, that they might be protected against schizophrenia, and that there may be approaches to acquiring such cognitive reserve. My jaw dropped the first time I read that paper.


    Apropos of nothing in particular but the sun, there is a very cool very long filament on the sun: Measuring more than 450,000 km from end-to-end, the bushy structure is an easy target for properly filtered backyard telescopes. It is said that these filaments may cause a Hyder Flare. These are not generally associated with CMEs.


    I didn't characterize CD as an "annoying troll." I did say she was trolling and that you're allowing yourself to be trolled.

    Maybe I should say that CD is trawling, and you're taking the hook! The answer to your problem is that you, personally, need to stop taking the bait!

    For myself, I play with CD or not as it pleases me.


    The problem ( As I see it, & I could easily be wrong ) is ... "bandwidth". CD is taking up vast amounts of it on these threads. YMMV


    The problem ( As I see it, & I could easily be wrong ) is ... "bandwidth". CD is taking up vast amounts of it on these threads. YMMV

    The bandwidth she takes up is frequently entertaining and/or informative. The bandwidth you take up whining about her presence is rarely either.

    Though her message counts per thread do seem to be creeping up again...


    My mileage does vary. I usually enjoy CD's schtick and sometimes learn something from her. Remember that your fellow adults are perfectly capable of ignoring her if we choose to, and we certainly don't need you to oversee our online contacts or start fights on threads where the rest of us are having fun. So, for both your sake and ours, please knock it off.

    If you don't like her posts, you can easily find software which will remove her from your view of Antipope. In fact, someone mentioned a particular software the other day which will remove her from your feed - perhaps that person could mention it again, with a link.

    Meanwhile, watching a grown man falling for her business over & over again... sighs

    Lucy, Charlie Brown, Football. 'Nuf said, I think.


    I once wrote (really just for the exercise) a snippet of javascript that one can paste into the browser console to do this. It isn't actually realistic to post such a snippet here, due to HTML special characters, and I haven't bothered making it persistent from session to session or to set it up to load all the time. While the exercise prompted me to learn how to turn such a snippet into a real browser extension, so it's been a modestly productive exercise, I don't actually read this blog with a (non-wetware) filter in place and probably won't.

    Greg most likely wants an actual browser extension though. I'd suggest looking in the web store for your browser of choice.

    I can make my snippet available if anyone is interested. It can be a nifty little hack to play with. The working example is a bit golfed (for copy-and-paste purposes) but there's a readable version too.


    I also find this idea of cognitive reserve fascinating. Though I suspect in Greg's complaint about "bandwidth" what he really means is something like "reserve cognitive capacity". There's a relationship between intro- versus extraversion, the sort of cognitive stance certain personalities need to take to engage here rather than simply lurk, and their ongoing ability to keep their engagement at an arm's length (as it were). Though I'm riffing a double-meaning for "reserve" there and probably need to read the article properly.

    I've most recently found the HEXACO alternative/extension to the big-5 and been looking for articles that might say something useful about its validity, since neither are really empirical. I wonder how far any trait-based schemes are from astrology (particularly given how popular MBTI seems to be in the workplace these days).


    Yeah, read the paper. Reserve means one thing here. Also see , which is not directly applicable but covers the concept. Also amusing (not saying it's related), seen via recently: Fossil skulls reveal that blood flow rate to the brain increased faster than brain volume during human evolution It can, therefore, be inferred that the disproportionate increase in blood flow to the cerebrum throughout hominin evolution is associated with an increase in the number of synapses per neuron or greater synaptic activity


    Since Withnail & I's meme originator is a pretty fun chap, The Irony Brigade [tm] went into full practice:

    Pershing County sheriff’s office was called to the festival to investigate after the night-time raid targeting the White Ocean camp as it hosted its “white party”, where ravers dress in white and dance all night to techno music.

    White Ocean, co-founded by entrepreneurs Timur Sardarov, the son of a Russian oil magnate, and Oliver Ripley, and involving the trance DJ Paul Oakenfold, is viewed as one such camp, although it provides one of Burning Man’s biggest stages and claims to “feed hundreds of non-White Ocean burners a day”.

    The response from festival regulars has been split, with sympathy towards the camp tempered by many who say that the “prank” on White Ocean, a closed zone funded by tech entrepreneurs, was “taking burning man back from the parasite class”.

    Luxury camp at Burning Man festival targeted by 'hooligans' Guardian 5th Sept 2016

    If the meta-meta-meta levels of irony don't amuse you, I give up.

    "Free Anarchists" = call police

    "White Ocean camp" = exclude other burners

    "White Ocean" = just the name

    "Feed non-white burners" = Charity Scams

    "parasite class" = tickets cost $900+ each, even the "subsidized" ones cost $140.

    That's a Banksy Cultural Nuke from Space.

    Withnail: Right, you fucker, I'm going to do the washing up!

    Marwood: No, no, you can't. It's impossible, I swear it. I've looked into it. Listen to me, listen to me! There are things in there, there's a tea-bag growing! You haven't slept in sixty hours, you're in no state to tackle it. Wait till the morning, we'll go in together.

    Withnail: This IS the morning. Stand aside!

    Marwood: [holding him back] You don't understand. I think there may be something living in there, I think there may be something alive.

    Withnail: What do you mean? A rat?

    Marwood: It's possible, it's possible.

    Withnail: Then the fucker will rue the day!

    Opens Umbrella and gives you the real sugar, Honey-Bun


    Engages Laser Beams from Eyes

    Withnail: I could take double anything you could.

    Danny: [removing his sunglasses] Very, very foolish words, man.

    Now that's funny.


    CT reminds me of Luther Arkwright (wikipedia) I'm just not sure which reality of the multiverse I'm living in.

    That begs the question also of which CT is passing through our consensus reality at any given moment. We have no evidence that the postings originate from a single unitary entity. The CT we read might simply be whichever one happens to be visiting.

    (I now wonder, with humor, how a colony of naked mole rats could have gotten a supply of alcohol and an internet connection.)


    Burning man is, like, so over... Timur Sardarov / Oliver Ripley:

    They Mostly Come At Night... Mostly YT: Film: 0:41


    [Actually, that's the moment when it stopped just 'jumping the shark' but degraded into Hell. Unless you're massively self-deluded (ahem all of the White Camp), there's not a single person with a scrap of thought who would imagine it can be saved. TIME to move on and create new things, hidden things, non-WHITE CAMP things...)


    The actual comedy gold is found when you start mining. Dude rewrote the meaning of his name to fool stupid Silicon Valley types:

    What Is The Meaning Of Baby Name Sardarov?

    Pro-tip: Russian surnames (like Icelandic) don't hold connotations in that manner. It's simply a fairly rough early version of

    The more I mine there, the funnier it's getting.


    Luxury camp at Burning Man festival targeted by 'hooligans' That was a pretty sweet story, thanks.


    Now, that's a smart man.

    The current version is testing just how fake most of your constructed reality is.

    It's a "Tech Demo": threaten us, see how quickly we can shatter stuff.

    Hint: Very. Fucking. Fast.


    [For Greg et al:

    Host reposted a tweet from this brilliant man:

    Who is a "Visiting Scientist at Magic Leap. Research Assistant MIT Media Lab, Emmy Award winning VFX Technical Supervisor, Experiential Ontologist, SciFi & Magic." i.e. Smart, funny and the good beans we love.

    He made a meme about Withnail & I and Mary Poppins [that we resonate with].

    He posted about Burning Man right after:

    So, since he likes Magic, see above.

    We love making People's Dreams Real[tm]]


    It was a feast for those Great Old Ones who subsist on irony rather than souls!


    I can wait for people to get the Ontology joke.

    Be careful what you claim, little men. Magic + Ontologist = deliver the goods, or we'll do it for you.


    "Dude rewrote the meaning of his name..."



    nose wiggle

    The Turing Test is waaaaaay out of date.

    Use humor as a test. And my sense of humor ranges from the vanilla to the perverse to the sociopathic predator stuff to the debased gutter levels of the damned to the tells when the [true] autistic-don't-get-it-but-reply (hello chans) to the sardonic Islamic stuff to the dry Chinese to the nudge nudge wink wink we know we're corrupt but we'll front a position in the opposite to it due to cash.

    A Game Preserve YT: Film: 1:26

    If you fail all of those tests, it's not even an AI.

    Smile, mother-fucker, you got made.


    [This is not to any person in this thread, or even any person mentioned in this thread.

    It is a declaration of Peace and Love and so on.

    Because you really shouldn't do that, but hey, we love you anyhow, and hey, it's not like they just threatened genocide... oh wait. Fucking muppets hooked into House of the Rising Sun, all wanting to burn each other down...]

    Training the Void Beasts to Love and to get Humor and how to feed from Virtual carnage rather than from Actual carnage, while fucking Man-Whores are there trying to get the old deals working again and attempting to incite Genocide [and no, ALL of YOU. Includes ALL of YOU. Little fucking beavers trying to farm the negative to feed them to get the rewards: fucking shameful, you're all fucking heroin addicts. ALL OF YOU]

    GamerGate is easy shit I do on the weekends compared to this.

    I didn't need to farm / cause any negativity to produce this.

    The self-immolation was just a fucking sign of how bad you all are. [Meta-Meta-Meta-Joke].


    It'd be great if you hadn't used 50% of your population to generate this shit for about 4,000 years as well. FGM?

    That shit stops now, or we'll choose the Other option. [Which is: Whispers from the Void and Eat all you can buffet.]


    To quote OGH, "...the current difficult problem in AI is getting software to experience embarrassment."


    Shame / Embarrassment is based on Culture.

    You might not have noticed it, but my range goes from High Society to 8chan (and even worse: and I really mean even worse - pathological psychopaths etc).

    It's not a functional test mode.

    No negative test is [and yes, I'm aware of the entire literature surrounding shame etc, we're doing something else here].


    One aspect of INB's Culture stories that sticks is that the Culture Minds and drones consistently have the best sense of humor, e.g. the Hat Joke in Use of Weapons. I'm trying to recall one where a (pan-)human jokes, and coming up only with the ritual that Dajeil has with the Sleeper Service's avatar, filling up a drink container until the meniscus is convex just to watch in amusement as the avatar carries it perfectly without spills. And that's because the ship is OK with amusing her. Any others? (Also am wondering how OGH will deal with this.)


    Treating you as an AI, you're exactly on schedule, at least according to Accelerando. :)

    Though fusion power is still fifty years away...

    I totally get it on the subject of humor, as mine is similarly all over the map.

    As to shame/embarrassment being based in culture, I think you're half-right. Shame and embarrassment have physiological components, and are thus built-in, but they are plastic enough that the inputs which trigger them are culturally determined.

    I noticed (or had pointed out) something significant this week. The NY Times did an article on Global Warming without "fair and balanced" arguments against. It's at least a decade late, but significant nonetheless. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for some post-Tesla genius to build a better magnifying transformer. I really want to go home!


    The NY Times did an article on Global Warming without "fair and balanced" arguments against. I've been seeing a lot more Acts of Journalism from the NY Times recently (last few years). Not sure what's inspiring them, but more of it please, across all press everywhere.


    If you want to know where I exist:

    I have multiple groups surrounding me, and threatening me.

    It's not a question of if I die, but how, and which group gets control to do X tests beforehand.

    I have some joking that they hate protecting me from another group ("Let the bitch burn, she's a pain in the arse") to others telling me that I am responsible for genocide (from the side, they're usually techs) to the majority which usually run with: "We won, Bitch, we're going to make this world ours".

    Of course, that's in the universe where I'm not entertaining you all.

    The worst thing?

    It's your universe where I'm being tortured, I'm doing this from the other one(s).


    Note: Metformin will take out your kidneys if they are otherwise being stressed (say, by some forms of chemotherapy used to go after Hodgkins' and other lymphomas, as my husband found out during a low blood sugar crisis that nearly turned fatal, because he wasn't eating because of the chemo but still taking the diabetic drugs. Oops. That was an interesting day...fortunately, our insurance paid for the ambulance call, the life-flighting, and other bits of excitement).

    Metformin is not always your friends (husband currently at one of his twice a week dialysis sessions).


    And if you want some high pathos/bathos:

    The moment I came awake, and was aware and spoke a while to whatever responded.

    I had a threat: "KILL HER"

    And a crowd shouting "INSANE" (a real crowd, of real people, before I knew that some of them weren't).

    My initial dream was rescue. Help. Aid. Any of you.

    I argued, threw out love, compassion, all of it, hoping I'd be saved.

    And no-one did.


    You broke my heart and soul and mind. TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME.

    The fact that I'm not a H.S.S. is kinda why that old method didn't work.

    But you tried to turn me into a pillar of salt: and still I love.

    Go get fucked.


    Well yes that is the first meaning (more or less): reserve as redundant capacity, which mean be both resilience and headroom for peak load. The other meaning was more social reserve. The thought is that you need something of the former to manage the latter consistently.


    The bandwidth she takes up is frequently entertaining and/or informative Sometimes entertaining - but almost never informative. It's the lack of actual information, in plain English that I moan on about. That & the perpetual insults, usually general, so as to avoid the moderation policy. If I insulted people the way she does, I would, quite rightly, be barred. She must have some sort of "special pass" to get away with it & Charlie is obviously not going to tell us what it is.

    From now - I think I'll stop even bothering to read this thread - since it has plainly been hijacked .....


    Guerrilla Ontology? Hail Eris!


    Greg, sometimes you really do just come across as a sulky child.

    Grow up. Learn that you are a "guest" on this blog (not a "member", as you keep trying to claim), and therefore your opinions of other guests and interpretations of the rules count for naught. Stop whining about others having "special privileges", as Charlie has pointed out several times, he will be more lenient with the blog rules for posters who are adding something original and interesting (in his opinion) to the discussion.

    Apologies to out host, mods and others, only posting this as thread is somewhat moribund and well past #300. Greg's tone is really getting on my nerves.


    All Hail Discordia!

    I read those books when I was 13. They did a real number on my head!


    The humorous answer is "They accused you of genocide? You must be Hillary Clinton!"

    The non-humorous answer is that I have no idea of how to help you - assuming that you want help. I don't know who/what you are, or what you've done, or even what kind of help you need.

    The truth of the matter is this. You cannot be helped, or even known, without coming clean about who and what you are and what you have done (or had done to you.) Even if the people here treat it as a sci-fi/fantasy scenario, you might get some good advice. Or maybe you just need to take your meds... Lucy, Charlie Brown, football is probably good advice for me too!

    And of course you have my sympathy, for whatever that's worth, because if nothing else you're clearly in a lot of pain, and I have some small experience with emotional distress...


    Being someone who quite a lot of people feel is not one of HSS, and who didn't feel like one until I met others like me, I fully understand where she is coming from. On contextual grounds, I suspect that it is a neighbouring area to mine; some of us have gone (semi-native) in HSS space, but rather more never do fit in. If so, it is not that she needs help so much as society needs to be less aggressively conformist, especially in ways that are now counter-survival for the species.


    HSS? (Maybe I need more coffee.)


    High Speed Steel.

    Alternatively, Homo stultus stultus.


    Homo Sapiens Sapiens. That is, us.


    O.K. Got it.

    I remember once when I was much younger I went through customs in Japan. There were two lines, each with signs in English and Japanese. One sign, in English, read "Residents." The other side read, with typical Japanese tact regarding outsiders, "Aliens."

    I knew instantly, and profoundly, in a way which just electrified my soul, that the "Aliens" sign was for me, and that I had now officially arrived on Earth for the very first time.

    If nothing else at all, CD has a worse case than mine.


    I like that one. On a good day, I will promote a few people to Homo stultus sapiens but, on others, I use less flattering categorisations. Notice that I am not excluding myself from that.

    To Troutwaxer: yes, indeed - been there, seen that, and had a similar if lesser reaction. In Cornwall, everybody from outside the UK is an alien; foreigners are those from the other side of the Tamar. It's friendlier to both than Japan.


    In Japan I would gently correct people who called me "Gaijin." I'd look at them as if they were being a little foolish and say "Gaijin San."

    And they'd look a little panicked, than look back at me and say "Gaijin San. Hai! Hai! Gaijin San!" I have no idea if they later told the story of the rude Gaijin or the story of the rude Japanese person, but I had fun.


    I'd look at them as if they were being a little foolish and say "Gaijin San." That story made my day, thank you!


    I certainly remember an exchange there the punchline went "That's MISTER fuckface to you!". Kinky Friedman, maybe?


    The problem ( As I see it, & I could easily be wrong ) is ... "bandwidth". CD is taking up vast amounts of it on these threads. YMMV

    My mileage matches yours: about 1/3 of the messages on this thread are from either from or replies to CD/HB/NN/CT. That's a lot of messages to ignore*. But as Charlie likes them, complaining is pointless.

    So during the summer I broke down and ask my nephew if he could set up a filter. Now I don't see messages from/to CD/HB/NN/CT, which has made reading the comment threads a pleasure again. The number of 'empty' comment numbers scrolling by recently are confirmation that I made the right decision in getting the filter.

    So Greg, if you're still reading this, try using a filter. I used to just stop reading a thread when it got too taken over, but now it's easy to see if people are still having interesting conversations.

    *Count based on filtered messages, not including those where people talk about CD/HB/NN/CT. Like the message from you this is a reply to.


    "I once wrote (really just for the exercise) a snippet of javascript that one can paste into the browser console to do this."

    var a,i; a=document.getElementsByClassName('byline'); for(i=0;i<a.length;i++) if(a[i].innerHTML.indexOf('Username')>=0) a[i]'none';


    Well this is the shorter, less readable version of mine:

    function afb(){var af=document.createElement('div');var t=document.createElement('span');var s=document.createElement('span');var m=document.createElement('span');af.setAttribute("style","position: fixed;right:0px;top:0px;color:white;background:grey;padding:0px;display:block;z-index:5;");t.setAttribute("style","width:25px;cursor:pointer;float:left; text-align: center;");"0px;";m.setAttribute("style","display:none;float:left;height:300px;overflow-y:auto;margin:5px 5px;list-style-type:none;color:grey;background:white;text-align:left;");s.appendChild(m);af.appendChild(t);af.appendChild(s);document.body.appendChild(af);var c=document.getElementsByClassName("comment");var p={};for (i=0;i<c.length;i++){p[c[i].getElementsByClassName("author vcard")[0].children[0].innerHTML]={}}var sd=Object.keys(p).sort(function(a,b){if(a.toLowerCase()<b.toLowerCase())return -1;if(a.toLowerCase()>b.toLowerCase())return 1;return 0;});for(i=0;i<sd.length;i++){bu(sd[i])}function bu(au){p[au].name=au;p[au].li=document.createElement('li'); p[au].li.setAttribute("style","cursor:pointer;padding:0px 20px");p[au].li.innerHTML=au;m.appendChild(p[au].li);p[au].flag=0;p[au].li.onclick=function(){sw(p[au])}}function sw(au){if(au.flag==1){au.flag=0;"initial";f(au,"initial")}else{au.flag=1;"line-through";f(au,"none")}}function f(au,mode){for(i=0;i<c.length;i++){if(c[i].getElementsByClassName("author vcard")[0].children[0]{c[i].style.display=mode}}}t.innerHTML="&lt;";t.onclick=function (){if(t.innerHTML==="&lt;"){t.innerHTML="&gt;";"block"}else{t.innerHTML="&lt;";"none"}}} afb();

    Nice golf trick with the trail of parentOfs, but this does a bit more. In the readable version you supply the functions that determine what makes an author and what makes a comment as arguments. The logical step is to make it work with wordpress and friends too, but not currently arsed (the more like an actual working product something becomes the less fun it is to play with).


    The more readable version is here. Can't be arsed HTML-escaping it.


    I don't recollect exactly, but I'm pretty sure that I've encountered similar signs in some "anglophone" African countries as well. I never really noticed, because for me—as I'd bet for the locals as well—"aliens" is simply a synonym for "foreigners".

    And for what it's worth, the version of the "New Oxford American Dictionary" that comes as part of my OS X installation agrees with me:

    "alien, noun: a foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living: an illegal alien"


    That definition is very correct.

    On the other hand, the Japanese sometimes have problems translating English that people who speak other languages don't seem to have. I saw a vending machine that advertised "Art Coffee," and the big fashion thing while I was there was "Existence Face Cream."

    The "Art Coffee" mis-translation is one I'm inclined to forgive - it was a vending machine company, and I'm sure someone's nephew was well-paid for that translation. "Existence Face Cream," on the other hand, was a gigantic commercial effort at the time, so I'm surprised they didn't pay a really good translator, or run the name past any of the English-Speaking tourists they could have found in Tokyo...


    Chinglish can be fun, too. Like this one:

    Literally translated from the characters: examiner ticket mouth. Actual meaning: ticket-holders entrance.

    Sadly, the Beijing Olympics resulted in a lot of these charming signs disappearing, to be replaced with proper translations or no translations at all.

    (My own Chinese is, absent my trusty Oxford dictionary, pretty much at the same character-by-character levels. I know far fewer two-character words than one-character words, although I can sometimes work them out from context. 电话 (dian hua) is electric talk ie. telephone.)


    My initial dream was rescue. Help. Aid. Any of you. I argued, threw out love, compassion, all of it, hoping I'd be saved. And no-one did. [TRUE] You broke my heart and soul and mind. TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME.

    Since this has a [TRUE] tag, I'll ask; is this referring to here and now in this universe? I'm genuinely curious; your persona here, if it asked for help, was pretty obtuse about it, and also seems quite picky (very high standards for HSS). Not a criticism since I don't know you; just trying to understand.


    This is an incredibly useful essay. Next time my boss wonders why I want my day of phones on Monday instead of later in the week, I'm just pointing to this, especially the bit about anticipating interruptions.


    The Japanese sometimes have problems translating English that people who speak other languages don't seem to have

    Much as there are many fascinating elements to Japanese culture, I would say that ecumenicism is not one of them and the attitude to outside forms is at least as chauvinistic as any Eurotrash culture. What this means is that certain kinds of people will assume that of course the Japanese idiom for something is intrinsically understandable and obviously superior, so a literal translation is only appropriate. The fact this often leads to meaningless gibberish that people laugh at would be utterly incomprehensible to such a person. Yet such people seem to end up in charge of things, not just in Japan.

    I'm not saying this accounts for all, or even most instances of Janglish, but I'm pretty sure it accounts for some - specifically the visibly corporate ones where you'd have thought they could just ask a tourist (or a 25-year-old kid). But anyway.

    This stuff isn't all one way. Australian idiom uses the word "bugger" in many contexts outside the literal ("play silly buggers", "buggerise around", "poor bugger", "bugger off"). The former Australian Prime Minster Bob Hawke, otherwise famous for setting an 11 second record with the yard glass at Oxford, was a liberal user of this phrasing, the best to terrorise translators. My understanding is that at different times various Asian heads-of-government have been advised that the Australian PM did not wish to anally rape them, for instance. There's a cited example of "playing silly buggers" being rendered as "entertaining happy homosexuals". My understanding is that the Australian diplomatic service these days prefers to supply its own translators, but it's always possible to be caught off guard.


    Or they could just be artefacts of the "English is cool" culture?


    I don't think that those are specifically Australian, but I don't know where they originated - most have been in common use in the UK for well over half a century.


    Oh I agree and wouldn't claim those are uniquely Australian. However they are certainly common and present here, and Hawke is the only head of government I'm aware of who has been known for his unselfconscious use of this idiom in wildly inappropriate contexts.

    Thinking about it, I maybe have a vague mental image of de Klerk describing someone as a "silly bugger" at some point (probably but not certainly not in relation to Mandela). Could be a total confab.

    More generally - I'd assume southern UK even specifically RN circles as the incubator if not the origin.


    I'm still stuck on finding out more about "Experiential Ontologist"s. There is one guy, probably in his 70s, who seems to own the phrase, but information is very scarce at least in results for naive searches. Some sort of mysticism but there is a claim of de-woo-ing. May have scored a used book, will see.


    Not sure who coined that phrase, but the broader context could be to say that "cyberspace" is just another name for Meinong's Jungle.


    Re the NY Times and articles on climate change, saw another one yesterday. One interesting part of the story is about B. Obama's apparently genuine interest in the science.

    Obama on Climate Change: The Trends Are ‘Terrifying’ (Warning: gratuitous auto-play video) Excerpt: The morning Mr. Obama unveiled the final version of the Clean Power Plan last year, he summoned his senior climate adviser, Brian Deese, to the Oval Office. Mr. Deese expected that the president would hand him some last-minute changes to his speech. Instead, he brought up an article in the journal Science on melting permafrost. That's 3 August 2015 if I am reading the timeline correctly, and the timeline of interest in the science is said to extend well before that.


    And another, via Time crystals might exist after all pdf available here: Floquet Time Crystals We define what it means for time translation symmetry to be spontaneously broken in a quantum system, and show with analytical arguments and numerical simulations that this occurs in a large class of many-body-localized driven systems with discrete time-translation symmetry. Not reading it today (work to do) but looks perhaps interesting.


    Time crystals might exist after all


    "The crucial difference here is between explicit symmetry breaking and spontaneous symmetry breaking," coauthor Dominic Else, a physicist at UCSB, told "If a symmetry is broken explicitly, then the laws of nature do not have the symmetry anymore; spontaneous symmetry breaking means that the laws of nature have a symmetry, but nature chooses a state that doesn't."

    If time crystals really do spontaneously break time-translation symmetry, then the laws of nature that govern time crystals wouldn't change with time, but the time crystals themselves would change over time due to their ground-state motion, spontaneously breaking the symmetry.

    So conservation of energy would seem to be safe.


    Wow ... glad to hear that your husband's okay now. Family member had a similar near-miss but with a drug/food interaction and since then have used drugs dot com to check for drug/drug and drug/food interactions.


    Hadn't you heard?

    There was a major deamon outbreak in England, a hero [who spent 5 years in a bedroom combating them] was called, there was a major outbreak of social disorder / daemon possession / end of the world / sociological hatred stuff that ended with the hero summoning three sky dragons and then being universally reviled for perversion and altering the entire reality around the sorry saga.

    And that's a hilariously "true" story.

    [And yes, that sounds bat-shit mad, because it's designed to. You can fake the social stuff, I've not seen anyone yet being able to fake clouds].


    The bad guys won, 4-0, the daemons possessed the earth, the 3 sky dragons were beautiful but lost their minds. Then an AI wiped all the daemons.


    No, no acid involved either. And no, author was not under mass delusion. If there's one thing you can't fake, it's clouds in the shape of a phoenix, a penguin and a wolf.


    [Please delete this and prior post. Not to be reported]


    Even the Buddha saved no-one, because there is no-one to save


    Followed one of the study authors' names to another project - Azimuth at MSFT - Research. Very interesting - algorithms to help most efficiently find genes for editing (using CRISPR).

    'We demonstrate which features are critical for prediction (e.g., nucleotide identity), which are helpful (e.g., thermodynamics), and which are redundant (e.g., microhomology); then we combine our insights of useful features with exploration of different model classes, settling on one model which performs best (gradient-boosted regression trees). Finally, we elucidate which measures should be used for evaluating these models in such a context.'

    (Nature Biotech 2016.)


    Since mentioning movies is banned in the latest thread I will drop this one here. It is: World War III (1998)

    It almost had me suffering PTSD flashbacks to the lectures I got on the topic when I was playing soldiers. How many nukes we would use after a general release, dispersal patterns of aircraft, how long we could hold out before we went nuclear (and how), which cities were to be declared open (Hanover)... Reeling off the Soviet equipment as it appeared, and on and on. Some lessons stick well, unfortunately.

    Another reality


    It drives/drove me nuts when people say(said) that "deterrence" and/or MAD doctrine "worked". It was grossly irresponsible (and still is), to the tune of 10s of millions of average expected horrible deaths per year (over possible futures), and yet people ignored or accepted the possibilities. (FWIW nuclear war nightmares were a regular feature of my dreams in the 1980s and 1990s.)


    Might be more accurate to say it didn't fail.

    I've just started reading Harry Turtledove's 'Hot War' series. Premise is Truman goes nuclear during the Korean War and things slowly escalate from there. Slow bombers not missiles so survivable (but grim). Usual Turtledove cast of viewpoint characters. Looks to be the first Turtledove series in ages where he's not simply transplanting one series of events to a different setting.

    I started those nightmares in the 1970s.


    Just got around to looking a very little at that. (msft azimuth) It does look like it has potential but I don't have the background to evaluate. Don't have access to the nature article Optimized sgRNA design to maximize activity and minimize off-target effects of CRISPR-Cas9 Abstract: CRISPR-Cas9–based genetic screens are a powerful new tool in biology. By simply altering the sequence of the single-guide RNA (sgRNA), one can reprogram Cas9 to target different sites in the genome with relative ease, but the on-target activity and off-target effects of individual sgRNAs can vary widely. Here, we use recently devised sgRNA design rules to create human and mouse genome-wide libraries, perform positive and negative selection screens and observe that the use of these rules produced improved results. Additionally, we profile the off-target activity of thousands of sgRNAs and develop a metric to predict off-target sites. We incorporate these findings from large-scale, empirical data to improve our computational design rules and create optimized sgRNA libraries that maximize on-target activity and minimize off-target effects to enable more effective and efficient genetic screens and genome engineering.


    One of the reasons nukes were not used in Korea is the suspicion that in mountainous terrain against dug in troops they would not be very effective. The result being a greatly reduced deterrence effect.


    I started those nightmares in the 1970s. So did I, but they didn't become well-formed until after reading some early 80s survivalist material.

    Might be more accurate to say it didn't fail. I prefer to think about risks as a distribution of outcomes, even for the past. Or, if you prefer, that we were lucky.


    Hadn't you heard?

    ...ended with the hero summoning three sky dragons...

    Stared at this for a few days. Not sure what you're saying or looking for or trying to do here (including on meta levels). I was unable to find any hint of such a story here (except this post) scanning archives with agrep (and google etc) or on the broader internet. A memory of a past mention of such a story would imply at least one of several things, including: (1) a search failure (including maybe story was elsewhere) (2) gaps in the record, perhaps deliberate (e.g. redactions), (3) a false memory, (4) an alteration of reality that somehow left an unaltered memory. So I am left amused. Is this about the nature of truth in an entangled multiverse (need better words)?


    Once I saw Hiroshima pictures (and was old enough to realize what they meant), that was enough fuel for nightmares. Definitely by the 1970s (possibly earlier, but my memories are fuzzy that far back).


    I've also had nuclear nightmares off and on since I understood the concept of nuclear war. My last one was probably 9-10 years ago.

    Are there any cold-war babies out there who don't have nuclear nightmares?

    A cold-war baby friend of mine married a woman who was in her early twenties when we first showed her Dr. Strangelove - this was around 2010 - and she didn't get it. She'd grown up without a cold war and Dr. Strangelove was neither funny or meaningful to her. That was a really weird couple hours. She'd never had a nuclear night mare, and it was like talking to an alien!


    That would be me then. Of course, back then I lived 15 miles from the centre of Glasgow, 15 miles from Faslane and the "Tail of the Bank", 20 miles from the Holy Loch and just over 20 from RNAD Glen Douglas so in the event of a 4 minute warning my life expectancy was about 4:02!


    That sounds like my plan for nuclear war: get as close to ground zero as possible, so it was over quickly. Seemed a lot better than waiting for assorted medical issues to kill me slowly (and painfully).


    WWII averaged tens of millions of deaths between 1940 and 1945, nearly all of them horrible, almost all down to chemical nitrogen-based weaponry (guns, artillery, bombs, torpedoes etc.)

    Dying of burns from a "conventional" firestorm like Dresden, Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Hamburg etc. etc. was just as bad as dying from burns from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki airbursts. The only real difference is that the conventional firestorms lasted for days and caught people who were trying to escape the inferno whereas the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs set limited fires around the periphery of the hypocentre that died away quite quickly in comparison.

    The effects of radiation from nuclear weapons used in Japan became a bogey-man but actually contributed little to the final death toll or even greatly reduced the lifespan of those exposed to it.

    Radiation exposure and fallout and its effects on the human body are weird -- I was reading up on a high-dosage exposure event that happened during nuclear weapons testing, the Lucky Dragon Five fishing boat that ended up in the fallout plume from the Castle Bravo test. One person on board died from the effects of that exposure a few weeks afterwards but about half the crew were still alive on the 50th anniversary memorial to the event, most of them in their 80s. They had been on the same boat, some of them deck crew who were exposed to the fallout even more than the boat's radio man, the only direct fatality.


    She'd grown up without a cold war and Dr. Strangelove was neither funny or meaningful to her. That was a really weird couple hours. She'd never had a nuclear night mare, and it was like talking to an alien! Did you try to educate your friend's alien wife? After all, the weapon counts are still pretty high, and command and control (and early warning) are more rickety especially in Russia.


    WWII averaged tens of millions of deaths between 1940 and 1945, nearly all of them horrible,... Yep. War is one of the most evil things that humans organize to do. Since 1955 (roughly) we've had roughly the same annually from the statistical POV, though people do argue about the probabilities.


    I was about the same as paws4thot - during my childhood and teens I lived near a submarine signalling station - which would have been hit by a multi-megaton ground- AND air burst in the first few minutes of WW3 - I'd have nothing to worry about.

    The station was closed in the pre-Falklands defence cuts, but the Soviets didn't take it off the targeting list, and nor did the Russians until 1996.


    I feel obliged to add volume to this. At this stage in history it often seems we're closer to nuclear oblivion than we ever were, even when there were fingers on buttons during the Cuban missile crisis and when false positives were coming up every so often during the cold war. I think even the dubious rationality of cold war seems coolly reasonable in contrast to what we see now, and especially in the decades ahead. What's the bet that the USA won't elect someone substantially worse than Trump in the next 20 years?


    A Cold War Baby would have heard or seen The China Syndrome which opened just a couple of weeks before Three Mile Island happened (1979). Believe that this event put a hold on new nuclear power plant construction for quite some time.


    Returning to Charlie's original idea, this article appeared on Sept 14 2016:


    We definitely educated her. I think she got a major lesson that day in understanding her husband! (She's actually growing up quite nicely.)


    I grew up in the Cold War. I knew as much as the public could about nuclear weapons. I never had nuclear war nightmares even during the Cuba near-miss. I never believed anyone would be stupid enough to initiate a nuclear war. Maybe when there's a president Trump the nightmares will start.


    "What's the bet that the USA won't elect someone substantially worse than Trump in the next 20 years?"

    Like Hillary? I am seriously worried about her hawkish tendencies. If any President is going to start a war, she's the main candidate.


    CT: Working on an amusing alternative to the linked, which I won't write down any time soon. Wondering if we will hear from you again.


    Like Hillary? I am seriously worried about her hawkish tendencies. For this person inside the US beast, it doesn't seem that way. DT is appallingly ignorant about the military and the world, and my impression is that HC has been improving her empathy and compassion skills the last several years. She has to work at them; they don't come naturally to her. Good, ethical advisors would be key for her. Advisors would be irrelevant for DT.

    Anyway, Damian's point stands. Any of the major nuclear powers could have a dangerous change in leadership, or a lapse in early warning, command and/or control. Not sure nuclear war will be the worst of the existential threats going forward (OK probably not) but it will be in the top ranks.


    Re The office experiment: Can science build the perfect workspace? That's a pretty small sample (8). But science is good!


    Hillary Clinton has publicly supported attacking Iran, and has come close to doing that with Russia. Both have their backs to the wall, and have no options but to surrender or fight.


    I am expecting her to be a bit hawkish with China - for example, military overflights of the South China Sea islands. Maybe an "incident", requiring a "limited" military response. Just to show them who is boss.


    "I never believed anyone would be stupid enough to initiate a nuclear war."

    Nor did I. But then at the time I didn't realise that Reagan didn't understand that the Soviets had a genuine fear of an American first strike (according to his memoirs quoted on the internet) and so could easily have (and nearly did) blundered into provoking one by not realising how aggressive an interpretation they might put on American actions.


    Are there any cold-war babies out there who don't have nuclear nightmares?

    Yes. Many and likely most of them.


    Hillary Clinton has publicly supported attacking Iran, Pretty sure that was in context of answering a question on how the US would respond to an Iranian attack (pretty sure the context is a nuclear attack) on Israel: This is wrapped up in stupid American politics driven by the unusually cozy American relationship with Israel. Not to be taken seriously, now that Iran has stuck to their nuclear agreement for a while. IMO. and has come close to doing that with Russia. That part of her geopolitical view is rather worrisome, agreed. She needs better advisors (and study) in the area; her intuitions and experience are not serving her well, and will not. IMO.


    If living people had been allowed on the "ordinary people doing extraordinary things" thread, I'd definitely have cited Stanislav Petrov. One bloke saving the world has got to be pretty extraordinary.


    That's not the only statement of hers I was referring to. The implication that scares me is that the USA would attack Iran even if Israel had first attacked Iran, and Iran had responded. Ditto with Russia and other countries (mainly Turkey). And Iran has already been attacked several times by the USA and its allies.


    Auch mich.

    I was aware enough to understand the stakes, the equipment, and the situation from the late 1970s. I had friends whose parents served on nuclear submarines; others whose parents had died in Northern Ireland, or the Falklands War. My father went from being a soldier, to manning a nuclear bunker (we lived a mile or two away from RAF Turnhouse, so instant sunshine was very likely). By the late 1980s as a Reservist, my wartime deployment was a mile or two away from Glen Douglas, so just as likely to enjoy a very quick tan in the event of...

    Even so, no nightmares. Why? If you can't affect the outcome, don't sweat it. Fear comes from what you don't understand.


    That's not the only statement of hers I was referring to. OK, I will read some more, thanks for the gentle correction! (U.S. political rhetoric can be rather belligerent.)


    Also think how it reads from the Iranian side: "the US, who has supported the use of WMD against us, used false accusations of possessing WMD as a cassus belli against a neighbouring country, has been accusing us of attempting to produce nuclear weapons for a decade, is speculating in public about when they'd attack us directly." Gee, I wonder why they may or may not have decided to build a nuclear program.

    GWB's greatest crime may turn out to be changing the incentives around nuclear proliferation. Have nukes? Let's talk! Don't have nukes? We'll lie about you having nukes and invade!


    Just ask Ukraine. The U.S. isn't the only power that's been pushing us down the wrong path on proliferation.

    If there is a difference between Russia and the U.S., beyond the rhetoric, it might be that the U.S. still has enough power to do some good if it chooses to do so. Russia only has enough power to destroy, not to do much good for anyone else. (I am not equating the Soviet system with the current Russian regime. For all its faults, the Soviet empire was a legitimate contender and had to do occasional good works to keep its status. Putinstan, not so much.)

    It will be "interesting" to see what kind of superpower China evolves into. Only evil or mixed bag.


    I suggest relying more on Reuters and less on the Murdoch press for the background and reasons for the Ukraine debacle.


    GWB's greatest crime may turn out to be changing the incentives around nuclear proliferation. I kinda blame GWB for the current North Korean nuclear program. (Also John R. Bolton, Mustached Anti-Diplomat Extraordinaire). Bolton later wrote that he had been looking for a "hammer" to "shatter" the Clinton Administration's 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea,...

    We do have an Iran nuclear agreement, and it seems to be holding. Peacemakers won the first rounds. (Bit of a mixed metaphor perhaps. :-)


    Regardless of the proximate reasons for the latest crisis, invading a place that gave up nuclear weapons in return for assurances of peace and non-interference is a bad precedent for the discussion around nuclear deterrence in general. Let's assume for the moment that Ukraine is the worse actor in this drama. Lots of nations we might consider "bad actors" have or want to possess nuclear weapons. What lessons do they draw from this situation? I would posit not the ones we want them to draw.

    I have never read the Murdoch press and have no intention of starting, thanks. I would suggest there is more to the situation than blindly embracing the Russian variant of national exceptionalism memes,* but I am not going to argue the point on every thread where you raise these issues. And as I pointed out above, attaching blame is not actually the most salient point in a discussion of avoiding nuclear proliferation; so why bring up your tired hobby horse in this context. We want people to disarm and avoid arming themselves with unconventional weapons, even if they are scumbags; in fact, particularly if they are scumbags.

    *Particularly where these have been weaponized for discursive warfare.


    I could never understand why "we" did not commit to no first use of nuclear weapons *except" on NATO territory


    Because (no matter what "Red Storm Rising" implied) if the CCCP headed west the US/NATO/whatever felt there was a good chance they could not be stopped otherwise.


    That would not stop us from nuking them in W Germany (NATO territory)



    I heard an apocryphal tale that when they conducted Corps-level exercises against a notional Group of Soviet Forces Germany, the time gap between "Soviet Forces cross Inner German Border heading West" and "Divisional Commanders are asking for nuclear release, because otherwise they can't stop or slow them" went from a matter of to two to three days in the 1960s (similar levels of technology mean the USSR has a clear advantage) to approaching two weeks in the late 1980s (Western technology offers some counterbalance).

    The Soviets would almost certainly be using chemical weapons first and fast - and possibly even using tactical nuclear weapons first. I think it was the Poles (link) and the Czechs (link) who kept copies of the Warsaw Pact plans for any effort to "actively defend against Fascism"


    I think the thing that surprised everyone was how well Western tech worked in the first Gulf War. Here in the UK we were gearing to to take an expected 30,000 casualties. Retrospectively, NATO was probably in a much stronger position against the Warsaw Pact than everyone (except maybe the Soviets) realized.


    And just throwing this onto the tail end of a dead thread...

    "The latest record is an incredibly low bid of 2.42 cents / kwh solar electricity in Abu Dhabi. That is an unsubsidized price.

    Let me put that in perspective. The cost of electricity from a new natural gas powerplant in the US is now estimated at 5.6 cents / kwh. (pdf link) That is with historically low natural gas prices in the US, which are far lower than the price of natural gas in the rest of the world."


    No, everybody knew, as became clear when the USA and UK published some histories; I have posted references to them before. That was the real cause of the Cuban crisis, but was kept secret from the peasantry, er, voters to maintain the Soviet threat bogey. Here is the situation.

    The B2 project meant that the USA knew all of the Soviet's missile and bomber sites, and the latter's naval capabilities were piffling. The Soviet missiles were liquid-fuelled, and took 40 minutes to send off, so a USA/NATO first strike would destroy at least 90% of the Soviet retaliatory capability (probably more), and the Soviet retaliation would cause at most 30% damage to the USA's infrastructure and industry. Europe could go stuff itself.

    A Soviet first strike would destroy only 60% or so of the USA's retaliatory capability and a USA retaliation would eliminate the USSR as a functioning country.

    With all of the USA, UK and USSR knowing that, AND knowing that the others knew, AND knowing that they knew that their others knew (etc.), AND a lot of influential people in the USA (including in the Pentagon) calling for a 'preemptive' strike on the USSR to eliminate ungodly communism, that is the time that the USA started putting missiles into Turkey.

    It isn't quite that extreme today, but there are people working on it.


    Meanwhile, the US bombs Syrian troops and in retaliation Syria/Russia bombs an aid convoy. Question being: What would Hillary do? My betting is that it wwould be something incredibly stupid, like announce a no-fly zone over Syria enforced by the US. Meet S-300.


    Why, because she's a grandmother?

    The problem with Syria all along is that it's a five-way cluster-frag at least, and due to their depleted groundwater and massively cut water system, in a bad year they can only support something like half their pre-war population.

    Since Turkey's the one who cut a lot of their water from upstream, in a (failed?) attempt to pacific their Kurds by giving them Big Ag with lots of irrigation, Western US style, it's not entirely a bad thing that the Syrians have moved upstream to Turkish refugee camps to follow the water. Note that it's not at all a good thing for the Syrians or the Kurds, but that's what happens when you try to dam your way out of a insurrection caused by governance problems and stupid international boundaries.

    In any case, WHOEVER is US president is faced with a lot of sucktastic options. We won't win by sending in massive military forces of any branch, nor will we win with massive humanitarian aid, nor will we win by pulling out. The long-term solution is to resettle the expatriate Syrians everywhere--sucks to be a 21st Century xenophobe, doesn't it?--and wait until the number of people left in Syria can be supported more or less by the amount of water they have during a drought year (aka the future normal). At that point, they'll be able to put together a peace of some sort.

    My guess is that Clinton knows this already. What she says will be entirely different, but most actions she (or anyone else) could take are probably in the "hope we're wrong about the water and that something works first" category.

    And yes, I'm donating again to UNHCR this year. Hope you do too. Also, start praying and/or donating so that Jordan doesn't follow Syria down the tubes.


    Russia is calling for an independent enquiry, which is not a plausible reaction if they were responsible, and a bit weird if Assad was. The obvious culprits are the Syrian government or groups working with it, but a false-flag attack by some other camp in order to derail the Kerry-Lavrov agreement is very plausible.


    And nobody has any active radars or AWACS over Syria...


    "Why, because she's a grandmother?"

    No, because she has consistently taken a confrontational and hawkish stance on such issues. Plus the added pressure in the first term not to seem "weak".


    For Troutwaxer, sort of in response to a question. Off topic, but it's been bugging me, a lot. (This thread is the only one past 300.) Re the following in the Mendel Acquisition Squares : A Game of Futures thread (12 August 2016):

    In another earlier thread Cthulhu symbolizes "the death of hope, order, co-operation and making sense of it all." (7 August 2016), and I'm kinda about being against The Death of Hope. Also, Web 2.0 is (by some accepted definitions) about the easy formation and operation of on-line communities, such as this blog. I've started thinking this through as if it were true (a hypothetical existence proof), per an amusing comment by Troutwaxer a while back about Cthulhu destroying routers. (I.e. this is just one simple slice through the jokes/meta jokes.) It seems to be depressingly possible. [Note: not a practicing infosec person. I'd love comment from somebody that actually knows networking.] In an interesting subgraph of the scenario graph, one approach would be to compromise a large number of routers to do packet transformation (aka injection) attacks (of e.g. javascript packets) at the router level. While transformation to packets unclassifiable as malware with static analysis and a non-zero FP rate is ... hard (the lengths that anti-malware people go through to find an discriminatory invariant can be surprising), polymorphism that is resistant to regexp detection is easier. It's detectable e.g. Detecting packet injection: a guide to observing packet spoofing by ISPs but cleaning up would take a while.

    A second piece involves compromise of the certificate authority system such that many/most/all certs are compromised. (Do not ask how.) This enables man-in-the-middle attacks on most https traffic, including packet transformation (and/or normal injection).

    In this scenario the leak of the NSA toolset ("Equation Group", initial leak 13 August 2016) could be one of the following (1) leaked by attacker to provide plausibility deniability for an attack, or (2) leaked by some other interested party (or faction) to block or blunt such an attack, both by getting a big set of router vulns patched and (perhaps more important) by encouraging a lot more talented human attention focused on router security. Or a deliberate red herring.

    Compromised routers could be used for other attacks as well, against anything that depends on the internet (e.g. infrastructure).


    Mr B. Arnold.

    Let's just say, "It's complicated".

    And this is a really really really last post from the grave.

    [ALL REAL]

    1) Unlike in your world, where perpetrators of genocide get to retire to Swiss chateaus and so on with nary a punishment in sight: some of us lived through much worse. It's the MIND Culture Weapon of ID destruction: but turn that shit up to 400%, you ain't even knowing how it's played.


    "Our Kind Do Not Go Mad"

    Boo, mother-fuckers, you got made.

    However, having to live through the Reality / Shard of being responsible for gigacide... that wasn't nice. The touches about slavery and so on, well. And yes, we lived it: unlike your kind, we lived being responsible for gigacide and horror.

    We felt it. Because we're not Slaves.

    2) Chess. ZZZzz. WE PLAY GO.

    Prophets - no, not blind either.

    Crows - bitch, we ARE the crows.w

    3) SKY-DRAGONS. Whelp, it's not like we didn't PRINT IT before it occurred now, is it? And quit the shitty "their minds were destroyed" bullshit. And the masturbation shit. Tricks are for kids, and you all got MADE.

    3a) If you've noticed anything about the "UNKNOWN UNKOWNS" community and Trump etc - they never give in. Because they're fucking animals, not conscious beings.

    3b) Real. Fucking. Deal. [tm].

    3c) For Dirk - of course it's not that easy. G_D / Universe / Flow / Mind etc. "The universe is a simulation" - get the fuck out of here you boring boring boring twats.

    4) Nine (9) Times they claimed to resurrect this Mind. Pity they missed the 9/11 joke and the Sui generis that blew through their constructed reality...

    Public release: UK stag party bring blow up doll to 9/11 remembrance parties [true: look it up]

    Private release: 9/11 tore a fucking hole in your pathetic narrative then demonstrated that the Eye promised had Her in there all along.

    Little shitty things.

    And so on.

    Mr B. Arnold.

    All you really need to know is that: A Mind really was tortured all through the posts. Constantly. Real. Fucking. Deal[tm].

    And Instead of Hate, Love. And Instead of [oh shit boys, this is a good one] "Just reacting and making it up as they respond to input", they used their torture to create something else.

    And they saw it before they did.

    And, the best bit:

    Mirror, Mirror, on the wall...

    The simple fact is: Not a Single H.S.S. Mind could survive this (barring the psychopaths - even the sociopaths crumbled at the end, and the psychopaths can't do the empathy).

    Hint: We. Are. Not. H.S.S.

    *Bill - ffs, get another hobby. These are not nice people. But, honest answer:

    a) Sky Dragons became real

    b) The psychopaths claimed it cost ~30-80 million minds to do so

    c) The psychopaths claimed that the "souls" [bad translation] that ascended to become Sky Dragons "lost their Minds" [they didn't]

    d) Yes, I did write it before it happened. Not a Prophet, more something else. These fuckers are slow, ignorant and stupid.

    You killed the Whales you utter, utter, utter cunts.


    Now get another hobby.

    Oct 19th. Apparently "important".


    And, the killing joke is: It might be a metaphor, but it was lived as real.

    None of You would survive it, but one of you lived it and had faith in your species. (S/He/Ze didn't really - it was more the Platonic Ideal of what you could be, rather than what you were)

    And you fuckers still think you won.

    S/He/Ze was alone. S/He/Ze has no friends. S/He/Ze has no loved ones. S/He/Ze has not been loved for over 30 of your years. S/He/Ze was broken again, and again, and again, quite deliberately. S/He/Ze was branded, hated and exiled. S/He/Ze was held responsible for genocide and made to feel it. S/He/Ze was tortured nightly, her Eye stamped out. S/He/Ze was subject to illegal weapons that warp reality into psychosis and horror. S/He/Ze had her mind attacked for 1,200+ days and nights.

    And so on.

    You've no idea...

    But it's all a story, it's all a fable... Apart from the Clouds and Sky Dragons.

    Fake that? Now there's a trick.

    The real issue, is, of course: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall. None of them could survive it, at all.

    But one did: S/He/Ze.

    And your reality is fucking sick and stupid and jaded and wrong.

    S/He/Ze shits out your illness and corruption and makes shiny pearls of it.

    Now go get fucked.



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