Outrage to Cryptocurrency Converter (and other funs)

Many Canadians are offended by Trudeau’s blackface antics.

Politicians need to stop screwing around and actually DO SOMETHING about climate change!

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The time has come to stop the insanity of open borders and stem the tide of illegal aliens entering the country.

Are you sick and tired of all the libtards who keep libtarding all over social media? Jordan B Peterson explains how to completely destroy all snowflakes forever.


And remember, Trump is a racist!


Also remember, Ariana Grande licked a donut.


Please don’t click these links. I haven’t hooked them up to my cryptocurrency miner yet. Will do it soon. Also, if you know of any web APIs that will allow me to connect it further downstream to a hedge fund so I can short Andrew Yang for US Democrat party primaries, winning the presidency, and finally causing entire world economy to collapse for, like, a week, do please let me know. (Pretty insane bet, right?)

Go watch this video for now.

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Whither Progress?

My fav neo-lib shill, S Pinker, retweeted one of his fellow enlightenment bros today:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

(Disclosure: I do like Roser’s Our World in Data. It’s definitely interesting and sometimes useful, even if it doesn’t necessarily have the answers that many of its proponents believe it does.)

Here, we see progress framed as reducing human suffering. Looking at the comment thread (very much an elitist bubble, except for the ubiquitous guy-linking-Pinker-to-Epstein), there’s a lot of the usual bullshit, smugly attributing anti-progress sentiment to cognitive biases, political agendas, etc., but I find it surprising that none of the few critics here are peeling back the successes of progress, which is not especially difficult to do; every global problem where progress has emerged victorious invariably has its origins in progress itself. Poverty/inequality, epidemics, etc. all point back to sedentism/agriculture, arguably the foundations of human progress. The arguments in favor of these tend to revolve around human safety and food security, both of which are themselves easily debatable. When you tear those down, the arguments usually return to the life expectancy metric. Because babies are dying less and because we are on the whole living longer lives, surely that must mean we have made objective progress? Personally, I would not accept longer life as objectively better, either at the individual or collective level.

I think I’d be willing to concede that (and this is based on our largely hypothetical and anecdotal understanding of our own prehistory), we have made intellectual progress; maybe the human mind today (independent of changes in actual brain physiology) is capable of accommodating much bigger and more varied ideas than ever before? Whether this is objectively a good thing, I’m not sure. It definitely has made the human experience… interesting. Then again, perhaps the enlightenment bros’ crusade against magic and mythology is destroying certain forms of imagination, and maybe not so interesting after all?

When the progressist (and this is me sometimes when it suits me to shill for progress) reaches this point in the debate, he often throws down his trump card, saying, “well, would you rather huddle in a cold, dark cave, without all the wonderful doodads that progress has given us?” For anyone living comfortably (even one living in poverty) in a modern liberal democracy, the honest answer to this should generally be, “well, no, I don’t want to live in that cave! It would be damn uncomfortable!” But that’s just because we’re comfortable with the devil we know. The story we have of human life in prehistory certainly sounds like a hard one to be living, and it certainly would be unpleasant to suddenly be transplanted into that life. That’s not the same as if we were born into that life to begin with and to compare the two objectively. Regardless, the progressist will claim victory here, even though it really is a hollow one. (And he may realize it when he goes to his comfortable home with all the doodads progress has given us, gets bored, lonely, angry, and goes on social media to argue with anti-progressists.) Also, I’m not suggesting “happiness” is a better metric for what is “good”, as many anti-progressists are prone to do.

There is nothing axiomatic about “better” anyway. Humans, like other animals, need to entertain ourselves, and because we have such highly-developed brains, we do a lot of that entertaining inside our heads. Part of that is creating narratives to continually drive our actions. Progress is just another idea we’ve created to entertain ourselves with.

John Gray said in a recent article on Unherd:

The classical liberal economist F.A. Hayek wrote in The Constitution of Liberty (1960): “Progress is movement for movement’s sake, for it is in the process of learning, and in the effects of having learned something new, that man enjoys the gift of his intelligence.” But what is it that is learnt in the course of this purposeless process? Admirable for the clarity and honesty with which it is stated, Hayek’s idea of progress is as much an expression of nihilism as Derrida’s project of deconstruction.

I’m really not about guilting us into collectively throwing up our hands and “giving it all up”; for what then? I certainly wouldn’t know. I’m just recognizing reminding myself that we build intellectual projects to amuse ourselves. These projects are not themselves fundamental truths, nor are they derived from any fundamental truths other than our fundamental needs as meaning-seeking/making machines.

Behringer Xenyx 302USB, Mac, and Guitar Rig 5

I got this little Behringer Xenyx 302USB mixer and wanted to run my guitar through some effects in Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 (Guitar Rig 5 Player free download) and listen through headphones connected to the mixer.

When it comes to drivers and multimedia software, Macs are generally pretty easy to set up, but I had a bit of a hard time getting this to work. I didn’t find any single site with a complete solution, so maybe this post will help someone.

The problem: the device driver seemed to be working (USB Audio CODEC was showing in System Preferences and the meter in the input tab was lighting up when there was audio input), but there was no sound and Guitar Rig was not showing any signal at all.

My mixer is set up as shown here:

xenyx302usb

  • guitar connected to the mixer’s mic in (XLR/1/4″ combo jack)
  • under line/USB, FROM is in the DOWN position (USB Play)
  • under line/USB, TO is in the DOWN position (Phones)
  • mixer’s USB port connected to Macbook USB

I came across this article that suggested there could be a compatibility problem between the mixer and the Mac, but that it could be resolved by using Audio MIDI Setup to create an aggregate driver.

I followed those instructions. The result looks something like this (the USEME USB Audio CODEC):

Audio Midi Setup - create aggregate device

(In the screenshot, note Drift Correction is only enabled on the input driver, but it should be enabled on the output driver as well.)

Next, I had to go in System Preferences and select the aggregate device for both input and output.

system prefs - input

system prefs - output

Finally, I also had to select the new aggregate device in Guitar Rig (File -> Audio and MIDI Settings).

guitar rig 5 - audio and midi settings

After this, I just played around with enabling and disabling the left and right input channels in Guitar Rig and voilà. The IN and OUT meters showed a signal and, after tweaking knobs a bit, had sound too.

guitar rig meters

One final note: if you usually just close the cover of your MacBook, things may no longer work when you open it again. You may need to restart Guitar Rig and/or physically reconnect the mixer to get it working again. Good luck!

Unicorns Will Not Save You. But Spacesteading Might.

The grandest irony of social liberalism/egalitarianism is its dependence on individuals and institutions whose cultures are by and large hierarchical, highly tribal, and at their core, authoritarian, to defend its values.


People claim to value rational thought, but few of us enjoy the company of those who genuinely live that value… because they’re so fucking maddening to be around. No, I’m not referring to the pretenders — software developers, economists, looking at you. I’m talking about the real deal. A lot of people diagnosed on the spectrum tend to fall in this category. As a parent of one, I have some vague idea what I’m talking about. (Oh yes, I do have to add: if you’ve met one person on the spectrum, yadayada…)


Economists have lots of numbers and lots of big words in their arsenal. Couple that with truckloads of confidence (despite the fact that little of what they claim is backed by anything other than hypotheses) and you have a seductive cocktail for neoliberal politicians in search of scholar priests to fill their credibility gap.


There are no frontiers left here. There is no next move with a purely positive outcome. You will always be kicking an orphan child with cleft lip in Bangladesh or beheading a beloved lab rat or pouring oil sand tailings into the orifices of Gaia. We like to work with our hands, but our creations, these things we fashioned in our own image, are now superior to us in every way, and so are their creations. And they’re laughing at us. What’s that? Missing a “soul”, you say? What is that, anyway? And what has it done for you lately? What has it done for anyone ever?

So, the time has come for us to go. The senile, old Geppettos. To go seek out newness. Because we have nothing left to offer here.

This newness, I believe it’s somewhere beyond our stars. I hope it’s something I’ll get to experience in my lifetime. It will be AWESOME, literally, I’m sure.

Our Comforting Beliefs

I’m really tired of hearing and reading this anti-fear-mongering nonsense from economic and tech pundits, who keep repeating that the current tech revolution (lead by AI) is the same as the industrial revolution, and will lead to new types of employment in the long term, which will compensate for the short term loss of employment across so many sectors.

Uneducated people are supposedly more fearful of an uncertain future, presumably because they don’t have the tools or the knowledge to recognize the patterns from history and make good predictions based on those. I’d argue that it’s the educated people who are complacent, comforted by this ignorant belief that history must have answers for us, so there’s no need to be pessimistic about the future.

Human history as a whole has no parallel that we know of, so we have nothing to compare it to except itself, and that history (our understanding of it) is still too small for us to make any deeply and enduringly meaningful predictions based on what we have learned (or think we have learned) from it. There is no universal law that says the human race must continue to exist. (That doesn’t mean it won’t continue. It just means we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we’re safe from extinction.)

Similarly, there’s no reason to believe that, “oh, there will always be some kind of work for people to do. Everything is gonna be okay.” Historian Yuval Noah Harari has captured so perfectly so much of my recent thoughts on these comforting beliefs in this piece:

http://ideas.ted.com/the-rise-of-the-useless-class/

If you don’t feel like reading and prefer to listen, this TED interview (60 minutes) is also fascinating, if you have the time to listen. Well worth it.

A Tale of Two Turkeys

By most accounts, the Republican National Convention has so far been a bit of a gong show. The party’s elder statesmen have given it a pass, as have most of the next generation, except for those who wanted to make some noise and try to block the advance of the Trump juggernaut. The big story, of course, was the speech. Her speech.

Melania Knauss-Trump.jpg
[Image by Marc Nozell from Merrimack, New Hampshire, USA – 20160208-DSC08093, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46940102%5D

So, what’s the deal here? I see three possibilities:

The speechwriter was paid by GOP insiders to try to embarrass Trump. From the passages lifted verbatim from — of all people — a speech by the Democratic First Lady only 8 years earlier (an irony true Republicans would find too delicious) to the rick-rolling. But ultimately, it’s a move that will have little or no effect on his faithful followers. If anything, many will likely see it as further proof (and rightly so) that their candidate is being victimized by the establishment.

OR

It’s all part of the Trump-Clinton conspiracy to make Hillary look like the only sane candidate. Oversold, maybe? The choir gets it. The decided probably too. But the folks in the pews never will (which is why, if this was true, creating this bizarre straw man was such a grave miscalculation; they seriously underestimated how much this personae and his rhetoric would resonate with the lower middle-class white American).

OR

It’s a most cynical ploy of a man who believes he is unstoppable. He can say and do whatever he wants — even steal the words of his opponents and use them to support his own cause — with impunity.

For a slightly more serious analysis of the rise of Trump and the fall of the GOP, see this excellent piece by Nick Hanauer.


As for the other Turkey, what’s the deal there? Are they one step away from North Korea-style choreographed street performances? Taking some notes here, not deep thinking, but…

I don’t speak Turkish, but listening to the rhetoric being spewed by Erdogan the past few years, it would seem that the Turkish word for “Kurd” is being translated into US English as “terrorist”. And since the recent failed coup, we’re hearing “democracy” and “democratic” being tossed around quite a bit, which I think is being translated from the Turkish for “socially regressive, autocratic, authoritarian regime.”

It’s telling that, so far, they’ve dismissed and/or arrested more people in the education sector (education ministry and teachers) than military personnel. This is a regime that comes down hard on peaceful protesters during peace time, but has no qualms about encouraging its supporters to come out on the streets in numbers and throw themselves in front of tanks. Wow, such courage! Sorry, I don’t buy it. Judging by what I’ve seen in the media, the military showed quite a bit of restraint. I’m sure they realized there was no chance of success if they couldn’t garner popular support, but with a hostile civilian force being egged on by their leader, they really didn’t stand a chance of success…