2015-01-02

To 2015

"Im starting this new year off right. One of my goals is to start every day this way. What are you're resolutions?"

I think the above share, from Lindsey Stirling (a capable violinist and dancer, more or less synonymous with the genre "dub-step violin") is a fairly good example of living the human condition today.

2014 is over and lots of people are thinking about their lives, how their year was, and what changes they want to make in 2015. I think this one might mean something like "spend more time in or with the community my roots trace back to" or "sharing my privilege with others less fortunate". Along similar lines, many have been conditioned to think about and commit to "losing weight", and are looking at the zillion offers reaching back, that monetize on that aspiration.

It is much easier to look at something specific that craves to be at the top of your attention (a religion, clawing for ownership of your world view, an i-Device, glowing at you the moment you turn it on, locking in your attention at a small rectangle of light, or the mass and shape of your body vs an edited "ideal" reality broadcast at us from every magazine cover, ad and media outlet everywhere), and follow the mechanism of the institutions of power docked to and evolved around each topic.

Lindsey does. I do. You do. Not in all the same ways, and for the same reasons, but the human aspect of it binds us, and our environment tugs us into belief pockets often heavily insulated against reality, growing into better understandings of our ways, expectations, or succeeding at what we are trying to achieve. Usually not with any malicious intent – much or most of these just evolved into what form they take today, without any top-down understanding of the topic or surrounding setting, least of all corrected for present understanding of the world, the human metabolism, or cultural ideas about food, eating, snacks, and beverages.

From my own understanding of the world, I spot the heavy shadow of ties to outmoded beliefs and world views in this picture, as well as other deeper qualities on human to human compassion that, to this day, are as valid as they were 2000 years ago, and as heavily scoped to put all attention on your choices as an individual, and not to fix the system which benefits the current reign of actual power, a surrounding, heavily self-reinforcing deception of humanity.

Our addiction with glowing rectangles is a similar dead end, Bret Victor convincingly demonstrates, in his talk "The Humane Representation of Thought", we can easily keep optimizing those rectangles, however deep we want the rabbit hole to eventually go, but we have a thousandfold greater sensory range as a species that is largely untapped, in how we live, work, think, and communicate, and the more of our attention we put on our rectangles, the less of it we put on bridging the gap.

As for weight, chasing a very easily quantifiable number and trying on various randomly selected, well-funded choices for altering it is much easier than learning to strive for health, about nutrition, foods the human digestive system and its culture of bacteria and otherwise have evolved and been adapted for together, and eating and life patterns that line up with good health, and that have little to nothing to do with the real-time feedback of all addictive cues our outdated rewards system has been conditioned to to work well on a savannah we no longer roam on.

Keeping a good working world and self model, is a chore in 2015, as we are all islands in a vast sea of less well calibred and scrutinized working ones, as evolution in idea space isn't served by the dying of ideas, the way evolution on the individual level is (or in evolutional times was) favoured by the dying of the individual, or sometimes species, for over-population type collapse problems. A bad idea coupled to a large virality and power/money dynamic is immortal – no matter how poor it is, and no fighting of the idea can kill it. We also lack the provisions as a society to fight its causes, and its survivability at the funding or power level – vested interests generally have the power to self sustain and insulate against this kind of change.

When people think about creating alternate ways of governace, even worse ideas than what we are living today tend to surface, such as Rand:ian contingents that cling to seemingly self-serving anality that doesn't get added value from breadth and community. There largely isn't much teaching our culture how to build strong systems out of a breadth of different-shape pieces, perspectives, cultures and people. We have conceptual tools like the scientific model which helps narrow down idea space into better and better models of how stuff works, but no translation function to make the world adopt that understanding into practices that serve humanity.

Thus consequences of even very simple innovations in technology like the invention of the condom, have hardly even touched how human sexuality and relations work, both of which, more or less, are as feudal today as they were a thousand years ago. Ownership of sorts is wired very deeper in mammals, and experiments with different foundational beliefs, while heard of, such as flavours of polyamory, are not wide-spread. All sorts of cultural and behavioral echoes from long honed traditions work to keep these islands apart.

Exposing world models to scrutiny may be one of the more important traits and skills to living at choice and in knowledge community these days. Both for spreading good ideas, and for gathering community of people who would rather live in an evolving belief community, than a vested one. To you, and to 2015!

2014-08-23

Byword

I have long want a beautiful, full-screen essay writing program on osx, but somehow never got around to digiging it up. I know Writeroom exists and even bought it for iOS at some point, but I never ended up using it. Today I looked around again – and as I have been using a lot more Markdown at work, I decided I'd like some catering for that too.

It turns out Byword fits the description snugly. It comes with some minimal preferences, a dark and a light theme, no bloat, and when your needs are more specific than the preferences afford, you can still escape-hatch through defaults write to get things like a line width of exactly 80 characters, monospace by setting your font to Menlo 18pt and issuing the command:

defaults write com.metaclassy.byword BywordTextWidthCurrent 800

in a shell and restarting it. If, like me, you find you are happier with a solid than blinking caret, there's are Stack Exchange solutions for that too, for various versions of osx; here's the one that sufficed for my current 10.8.5 machine, setting the blink period to upwards of 32 millennia:

write -g NSTextInsertionPointBlinkPeriod -float 999999999999

2013-02-21

Groupon


My startup just got acquired by Groupon (where I shall be used for Good, not Evil :-).

I started this Monday. So far, it is a little disorienting to work in what is best described as a huge confederation of startups. It should hopefully get better once I am chipping away at making stuff better.