On fear’s role

Through out my life, I’ve seen people blaming the Other’s lack of fear for their bad choices.  A lack of fear of the afterlife can be blamed for anything for partying to harming others. A lack of fear of suffering is blamed for risky sex or drug abuse. A lack of fear of the apocalypse is blamed for militarism or climate change denial. A lack of fear of death is blamed for not improving healthcare or addressing gun violence.

I’ve come to think this sentiment is not just wrong about the cause, but also wrong about the benefits of fear. Fear doesn’t lead to good decision making in humans. Fear activates our fight or flight responses and we make short term decisions. Fear creates reactivity, not proactivity. Fear is not a good teacher, of children, of pets, of adults. It breaks people instead. Fear is the mindkiller.

I think more often than not it is the supposedly missing fear that motivates maladaptive behavior. A fear of death drives people to feel alive and deny their mortality, a fear of being forgotten leads to Machiavellian means to rise to the top. A fear of war motivates armament build up or preemptive strikes. A fear of the world changing drastically leads one to deny things which says we must change or it will change for us. Fear is behind the hate of white supremacists, homophobic churches, and anti-islamic groups.

While many religions have strains that have adopted fear to motivate behavior, the most inspiring and uplifiting messages at the base of religion is a message of hope and peace, not fear. The bible repeatedly tells people to not fear. Buddhism places fear as one of the ways the ego protects itself. The message comes through in both that fear is behind much of the worlds pain.

If we look at the problems above, we can see why fear is a bad way to approach them. Fear of eternal death drives one to grab all the pleasure you can with no regards to the consequences. Fear of the afterlife can cause one to ignore or even cause suffering in this life in order to live by their perception of the rules they’ll be judged by. Fear of climate change may cause us to take drastic action that we can’t control. Fear of korea’s nuclear capabilities may cause us to start a war where millions will die.

We instead must listen to the fear, understand what it’s warning us of and take reasoned controlled action. We should be aware that this life has an end and make sure to not live for ‘someday’, to tell those who matter to us that we love them, and to be present. We should be aware of moral imperatives and work to leave the world better than we found it. We should be aware of the way we’re changing the planet, and try and find better ways to meet our needs and to undo the damage we’ve done for future generations. We should be aware of the dangers of war and try to avoid it.

Don’t let the external forces that you fear control your life, be proactive and thoughtful in how you respond.

My gaming laptop – a project post

So here’s the deal – I hate gaming laptops. They’re huge, heavy, have crap battery life and you pay more than you did for your desktop to get a laptop that sucks compared to your desktop.  Why not just spend more money on my desktop?  But on the other hand it would nice to be able to play games from bed. Or at a coffee shop, maybe when I’m traveling – so it’s a bit of a conundrum. I’ve finally found a solutions that works for me — this is the story of the my off and on attempts, and my next post will be an easy to follow how to if you want to try also.

My personal laptop is a Samsung Chromebook Pro. It’s light and tiny, it’s battery lasts forever, its got a taller resolution than 16×9 which is great for reading. It’s got an intel fanless processor in so it handles complex web pages way better than a tablet, but doesn’t get all hot and bothered like oldschool netbooks did.  It can run android apps like hearthstone, since it has the google play store. It’s basically  the bee’s knees. And now it plays any game my computer can play, with a few limitations.

For bed I initially thought about a little TV and another Nvidia Shield. This set top box is awesome – It’s my main entertainment device for my TV. It streams games from my nvidia graphics card. It’s an android tv box so it has google cast. It’s a 4k HDR playback machine, and it even has amazon video – a rarity in the android world.  But I didn’t really want a TV in my room, and that seemed like a lot of investment for not that much more flexibility.

But Nvidia also makes a tablet with the same game streaming technology – a 3/4 year old one.  So if that can do it my chromebook should be able to handle it too. And since I have gigabit internet at home I should have plenty of bandwidth to stream to the outside world.  I found an opensource implementation of the protocol – moonlight and gave it a whirl. It kind of sucked. Both the android version and the alpha chrome extension.  Mouse support was wonky — android one had to click and drag, the chrome one it’s acceleration was way off.  Clicking the touchscreen wouldn’t move the cursor, just clicked wherever the cursor was. Not that great experience, but worked ish for some games.

I spent a few weekends hacking at the code to try and get better mouse support – but fundamentally the protocol isn’t built for it. It only has mouse move event support, so syncing to exact positions is messy. Even more messy is that it’s not a fixed size grid so you cant translate touch events to cursor position directly – 100,100 might be in one spot in one game and in a different spot in another. I tried things like adding a rest button for when the errors added up and touchpoint/cursor point got off, but it wasn’t a good experience. So eventually I gave up trying to force a system to do something it’s not good at.

I took the plunge and set up an ubuntu chroot with crouton (not nearly as tricky as it sounds tbh :P) and played around with Steam In Home Streaming. Finally! this works! Theres a weirdly inconsistent frame rate- and the latency seems not great, but it works and is playable.  I’m satisfied for a bit – but it’s frustrating because I have to manually configure my firewall for it after every reboot, and if I want to do it outside of my house I’ll need a VPN. blah. Plus the crappy performance compared to my shield meant i’d pretty much always get up and go to my desk or my couch. But at least the mouse and touchscreen worked.

This weekend I learned that cloud gaming service Parsec also lets you stream from your own computer. And it’s way more performant than steam — (https://blog.parsecgaming.com/steam-in-home-streaming-latency-test-versus-parsec-7884144b29f1) So I gave it a try attempt. I was hoping to ditch the chroot so tried android app first. It crashes instantly on my chromebook – I’m guessing because it’s intel and not arm.  After installing the linux client that worked! The frames seemed better everything was good, until I started an actual game. Then my latency went to hell (worse than steam). Digging a bit I discovered that it wasn’t able to use. the hardware h264 encoder. I found a ppa with some enhanced intel drivers for ubuntu, installed them and OMG EVERYTHING WORKS WONDERFULLY! Theres a few minor things that I don’t like but the experience of actually playing a game is finally there.  I do have to have my computer on (nvidia can wake it up remotely), the experience of launching a game is more like a remote desktop – nvidia I start the game from a list of games I have installed in a local UI, and then the stream starts right in the game (or steam big picture mode if I select that). And I don’t get quite as good fps as I do with nvidias streaming, and need to use borderless window for best effect. This is likely to do with not as tightly coupled hardware support. However it’s super functional and makes me super pleased – especially as I get ready to be gone for the holidays. (note the intel drivers did make steam streaming a little better too – but the frame rate issue was still present)

EDIT: I may have lied 😦 touch screen does seem to be doing the same thing nvidia did – I could have sworn it was working, if I get it working again I’ll update

EDIT EDIT: It still works – just was in a game that doesn’t like touch screen apparently ❤



A response to the weird hate for The Last Jedi

Spoilers spoilers spoilers. And more spoilers don’t read this until after you watch it. Mmmk?

I’m serious. I will ruin everything if you haven’t seen it.

Hopefully this is enough spoiler warnings to fill any preview text you see cause I will talk about all of the big plot points. So go away.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Almost every complaint I’ve seen about the last Jedi doesn’t make sense – and seem to be super fans mad they didn’t know more than other people for once.

Here are ones Ive been seeing repeated and why they don’t make any sense:

They killed Supreme Leader Snoke off without telling us his backstory or how he got so pwerful. It doesn’t make any sense! — They killed killed emperor palpatine off in RoTJ without telling us his back story or how he got so powerful, it doesn’t matter, it’s not relevant to the story being told in this movie!. Even after three prequels we only learned some of palpatines back story and nothing of his training. For that matter Yoda gets absolutely 0 backstory!

How did Leia do that! We haven’t seen her use the force like that before! — How did Luke build a light saber? How did Luke learn to get his lightsaber from the snow with the force? It’s not important , you’re supposed to see that and understand she’s gotten more powerful since return of the Jedi years and ears ago.

The casino plot was a waste of time!! — uh yeah, that was the point. Not everything works out for the good guys. Cloud city was a trap. Lando sold han out and only regretted it because they were childhood friends. A codebreaker who’s literally been telling you the whole time that there are no good guys and bad guys and all that matters is the money sold you out? No surprise there.

Since when can Luke project himself across the universe, we’ve never seen that before! — We’ve never seen Jedi do anything before they do it on screen the first time… — but why didn’t they do it in the prequels?  — Who knows! Maybe they didn’t want to die like Luke did immediately after. Maybe he discovered it because he’s Luke Skywalker who’s heavily hinted at being more powerful than ‘the chosen one’ was. It doesn’t really matter.

But now Kylo’s the big bad guy all alone, ! — I actually don’t know how this is supposed to be a bad thing. Plus it’s definitely in line with the Sith the rule of two. Something Vader failed at because he wanted Luke to join.

Why didn’t kylo Ren turn? — not every evil jack ass is actually a good guy. He killed his dad to get more powerful in the dark side ffs. We’re you really expecting him to be another Anakin? Vader came back because his whole deal was I’ll go bad to have the power to save my family.

Why didn’t the Vice Admiral just tell Poe the plan! — why in God’s loving name would the highest ranking officer they have left tell a disgraced unpredictable flyboy everything. If he’d just followed orders instead of thinking he knows best they would have had a fleet of fighters and bombers and the first order wouldn’t have known about their cloaked escape. Plus they might not have sent snokes ship after them at all if they didn’t lose the dreadnaught.

Rey finding Luke was a waste of time. — see bit above about things not always working out? Also she stole the Jedi books and Yoda joked about it right before he lit the tree on fire so that’s kinda cool. Sorry Luke didn’t come back and take over everything from all the women. He’s disillusioned and bitter. That’s his story arc. Don’t cry so much. He went there to die, and he did. But he made sure to buy the rebellion the time it needed and say goodbye to his sister. Pretty cool way to go tbh. Even Yoda was disillusioned and didn’t want to train reckless impulsive luke.

If they can just run ships into other shops to take them out why don’t they do it all the time??? — well kamikaze isn’t really sustainable, but it’s not like this is new. The executor was taking out by an AWing running into it at full speed. (And then it crashed into the death star!)

But her parents aren’t special? — well one we don’t know if he was telling the truth. There was no force ghost of been Kenobi being like yep Vader’s your dad. Two Anakin was born a slave in the middle of nowhere.

It didn’t answer my questions from. The Force Awakens — 1) not every question can be answered see thing about snoke. 2) this is the middle movie in a trilogy! Wait until the last one before you decide this is a lost type scenario.

Finally if your critique of this movie is it’s leftists propaganda because a lady with purple hair is in charge and the new Jedi is a girl not Luke Skywalker. Just stop. K?

Seattle and Tacoma

Thoughts as I read this article on how Seattle and Tacoma diverged and evolved separately. From the Stranger so naturally biased to Seattle. But in 2000 so before the success of the Seattle Tech scene allowed the no longer alternative Stranger to reach it’s current heights of navel gazing.

  • I’d always kinda figured the gap happened when Boeing exploded, but never really thought about why Boeing would be in Seattle and not Tacoma.  Both were ports, both are similar climates similar access. What drove Seattle?
  • The binary pairs is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Fundamentally it’s self vs others.  It takes extra work to compare and not just contrast, and helps if you have a new third object to be a foil.  Easier to do when you think in yin-yang and not god/satan terms.
  • Ah… Alaska drove Seattle.
  • Not mentioned here, but fun to add.  Seattle’s park systems were built by Olmsteads successor and step-son.  Not as impressive as the alternate tacoma where the city planning was done by Olmstead Sr, but maybe another factor that drove Seattle.  Unfortunately since the designing the interstate and the canal project ruined the interconnections he envisioned.
  • Really cool that he took the time and energy to try and feel the opposite perspective.  Makes this piece have much less of a circle jerk characteristic.

Ye shall know them by their fruits.

As I sit in a hospital room looking at someone I love unconditionally, I can’t help but think of all those who didn’t. All those who taught him he must be worthy of love. All those who taught him that being him wasn’t good enough. That he must behave as expected.

How hollow their claims of concern are now. How empty their tears. How foolish their attempts to make it about them.

My inner child wants to rage and destroy them. Wipe them from the face of the Earth.  Salt their fields, poison all that they held dear. Build a new world with only those who are safe. And later I will grant him that. I will open my inner world and allow him to do as will until he feels satisfied and complete.

But here in the outer word I can simple shut them out. Allow them no more weight than they demonstrate they deserve.

Hot Take: Income tax is a bad tax regardless of political alignment

In light of Seattle’s upcoming court case on income tax, and the national fights over increasingly arcane components of income tax policy it’s time for a a hot take! (*Pending  replacement with a cool new term I can make my own*)

Income tax is bad tax policy regardless of your political beliefs.

Conservative Philosophically it’s bad – its a tax on the fruits of own labors and those working to contribute more to soceity end up paying more
Liberal Philosophically it’s bad – income is primarily associated with the lower classes and not the owning classes that have much more ability to pay (buffet paying way less tax than a middle class income earner as an example)

And in practicality it just creates a whole mess of trying to reclassify things as income or not income. This shrinking tax base ends up putting the burden on those who don’t have good lobbyists or good accountants. It creates a huge waste of resources on tax return preparation by companies and citizens and tax code enforcement by the government. It practically demands loopholes exist.

Some examples of the way using income tax as our primary tax system can warp economics.

  • Because we tax income it’s easy to argue against more progressive forms of taxation like corporate tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax as double taxation.
  • Double taxation on savings and capital discourages capital creation and encourages consumption — not creating capital flattens economic growth and leaves the economic power in the hands of those who already have capital
  • Because we exempt healthcare from income status we built a large system of employer sponsored healthcare instead of either a robust private market or a dependable universal option.
  • The above means the government subsidizes runaway health insurance costs more heavily for high wage workers (40%) than for low wage workers (0%)
  • It also serves to shield these workers from how expensive individual insurance is if not on an employer plan making the political capital needed to fix the problem harder to obtain.
  • It also makes it harder for people to be takes risks and be innovated because they can’t afford health insurance without the employer+tax code subsidized version they get by selling their life and dreams to corporations
  • Because we shield retirement accounts from income taxation status we encourage peoples primary or only savings to be in accounts they can’t easily access on a rainy day.
  • The above encourages predatory lending
  • It can also encourage underemployment over reeducation because if they can last another 10 years they have retirement money, but they have no savings easily accessible to gain new useful skills
  • Because we shield more money in 401ks than IRA’s we inherently require small employers to get expensive managed 401k products over self managed retirement accounts or pay significantly higher salaries just to be able to offer similar total benefits as large companies.
  • Because debt forgiveness has to count as income to prevent lending money and then forgiving the debt to get around income tax law. We can end up throwing people who just got a new lease on life back under the bus when they discover they now owe the IRS a third of that still anyways.
  • Because we tax incomes more heavily than capital gains and we treat dividends and interest as income we encourage speculation over income producing investments with slow and steady growth. Speculation drives bubbles and doesn’t free one from the need to sell one’s labor time and energy to meet needs.
  • Same problem with dividends but from an company point of view – tax code discourages corporations from profit sharing because it’s taxed higher than increases in shareholder value.
  • Combining the two – corporations have reduced incentive to consider long term sustainable profitability because long term profit sharing relationships are discouraged in favor of short term speculative shareholders. Whose needs are met more by increasing immediate profits, thereby driving immediate value, so they can sell and move on.

Let’s replace it, consumer only sales taxes, corporate income taxes, tariffs, and all other taxes with a single tax that hard to avoid, easy to enforce, universal in rate, low in deterring beneficial transactions, and contains a generous prebate/basic income to avoid regressive consequences. VAT generally meet most of these requirements and are recognized as causing low market distortions.   Even better would be land value taxation. The historical difficulties in pricing the value of the real estate separate from the improvements are essentially solved with machine learning techniques. Both of these should be acceptable under WA state law and are generally approved by libertarian economists. VAT appeal to republicans, and regressive aspects can be smoothed away with a prebate. LVT is highly progressive and a favorite of so many political viewpoints it would make everyone except current landowners happy.

People pleasing, perfectionism, irony and ironing

While ironing this morning I caught myself thinking “I’m not very good at this, but a poor ironing job is still better than wrinkles on clothes stuffed in a day bag”. I was pleased I wasn’t caught up in perfectionism and letting that get in the way, but I felt like there was more to it.

So I reflected on why I wasn’t good at it, it wasn’t a flaw in me, but a skill I haven’t practiced. Why didn’t I practice it? Because for years I pretended to not care. I didn’t iron out of people pleasing. I didn’t care because I felt more in control if I ‘chose’ to look sloppy. I worried more about doing a bad job and appearing authentically flawed than about being inaccurately cast as slovenly I was scared of vulnerability because I’d been taught I was valuable for what I can do. Not valuable for who I am.

My rebellion against people’s wishes was it’s own form of people pleasing. I was just like those who reject relationships before they can be rejected because they fear it will devalue them. I rejected ironing so that no one could reject my skill at ironing and thus devalue me.

What is this?

Why are you blogging?

Recently I’ve felt inspired to start a blog. To give the thoughts in my head a platform and see what resonates with others. So this is it! Welcome, and I hope you stick around.  The remainder of this post will be goals and some meta.

What is this blog about?

Well, that is not an easy answer. It’s about my thoughts, and my thoughts don’t tend to stay in nicely categorizable boundaries. To make it more digestible I’ll have a few top level categories, and I’ll try to give ever post a series of tags so you can find only the ones you’re interested in. At a minimum this blog is about philosophy, politics, and science. But it’s probably also about spirituality, relationships, and technology.  Or psychology, machine learning, and psychonautics. About shamanism, lsd, and friendships. Above all else it’s about abstract thoughts. And those abstract thoughts that connect things from different traditions.  It’s about syncretic abstractions.

To avoid streams of consciousness I aim to only share thoughts I find personally useful. Useful to understand the world, useful to make decisions, or useful to make me feel good. These thoughts aren’t perfect, they won’t work in every situation, they’re not always consistent, and they’re never final. But they seem to work so far. They’re not proofs, they’re not axioms, they’re heuristics.

What kind of content will you have?

Some long form text, some links to articles or videos with my thoughts, some pictures of things that caught my interest, some one line brain twisters, some whatever I come up with next.

When will you update?

Hopefully twice a week, but not on a schedule. It depends on whats in my head, and what gets positive feedback.

What do you want from me, a reader?

I want you read, I want you to think about it, and I want your feedback. I do not want debate, I want constructive dialogue. If you want me to explore a subject more tell me. If a post made no sense, tell me. If a post resonated, or struck a wrong nerve tell me. Lets have fun, lets learn together. You can email me, give me feedback on Sarahah, or participate in the comments on the article, or where I may share it on Facebook. I reserve the right to moderate the comment section as I feel appropriate.