The Top 10 Things I Learned of at College [7~10]

I’ve been catching on to a few other ideas recently and am starting to be able to explain them, but this was in the way, so I’ll finish it up first.

“Attack From the Furthest Possible Distance”

This is a saying I heard in Go club on talking about attacking a group on the board. In Go every group of stones has “liberties”, points immediately outside the group that are not yet filled, and one of the two rules of Go is that when a group has no more liberties it dies. When beginners want to attack a group they usually “attach”, that is immediately play on one of a group’s outside points. This is disadvantageous because you immediately start out with fewer liberties. Even if it’s only one stone, which has four liberties, when one plays next to that stone each player’s stone now has three – but it’s now the opponent’s move.

Supposing the attack, the question becomes how far away, and the answer is “as far away as possible”. “As possible” being not the 19×19 on the board, but how far away one can play that one’s followup can still effectively make that stone useful in the attack. Sometimes it actually is attaching to the opponent’s stones, usually it’s three or four away, occasionally it actually is on the opposite side of the board. “Liberty” in the immediate is where one can play while still being connected; in the larger scale if we count not just the immediate points but the empty points around a stone, it means potential, influence, power. The more liberties you have the more plays you are able to set up, 1) the more choices and potential mistakes the opponent can make, and 2) the more things the opponent has to worry about defending against.

The focus of this idea is not so much “Kill as many birds as you can with one stone” as it is the principle behind it: stability and readiness. Attacks should not be executed with the mindset of victory at the fastest speed, or obliteration of the enemy to the cleanest completion, but rather “attack so that if an attack or defense of something else also needs to occur, that can also be done with the minimal amount of additional trouble”. If the answer to this is doing it ASAP or obliteration, then the thought process occurs in that order, not the other way around.

In practice I’ve found this is the best counter to inadvertently tunnel-visioning, though of course tunnel-vision has its benefits and is sometimes the furthest possible distance.

Logistics / Architecture is 99% of everything.

Morality is garbage. Movements are garbage. Ideologies are garbage. And by garbage I mean decoration, because if garbage had a use it wouldn’t be garbage.

No one cares about what you think happens in the world, or thinks should happen in the world, or what you call it, or whatever. Doesn’t matter if more people like/agree with you, or the other way around. The only thing that matters is what happens. “Actions speak louder than words” is the dumb version because it encourages activism, and activism is stupid, because no one cares about what you think should happen in the world.

The simplest example everyone knows about is that clicking like on facebook doesn’t actually save any starving african children. However this doesn’t stop people from continuing to voice or show “support” for any number of other things which are only ideas to them, which is why it doesn’t matter, because they’re only ideas. The “support” for a political movement of any kind, let’s say the gay marriage one for instance, isn’t important insofar as it “advances progress in society” as it is signalling to media that that’s the kind of fashion the market margins are into these days, and the same sort of thing to politicians and their votes. This sort of thing is not ignored by standard ideologues, who actually admit “that’s how things work, unfortunately”, right before they go back to being drunk on whatever pet mythos they subscribe to.

Removing the “unfortunately”, that is to say, no longer thinking that the way things work is unpleasant and therefore deserves more looks than “is absolutely necessary”, reveals that it’s basically everything. The desire, the intent, the idea, the description of something is almost completely irrelevant to what it is and how it works. Perhaps the important point of this fairly easy to understand concept is its usefulness in clearing away the smoke and mirrors.

Some examples.

Independence from family:

The American Dream is that everyone grows up to have their own family, their own single suburban home, with their own car, and this all starts off with moving out of the house when you’re 18 / out of college. There’s some statistics floating around recently talking about how some large percentage of young adults are now living at home with their parents for an extended period of time, and it’s being read as a bad trend, “lazy Generation Y” or whatever. Ignoring potential laziness, increasing college tuition and debt, bad job market and all the other circumstances, why can’t one live at home with one’s parents? I understand the appeal of having your own place and having privacy to do whatever it is you want to do, but the choice of staying at home is not unreasonable.

Most 20-somethings don’t have their own single detached suburban two-story five-bedroom houses, but rather a one or two bedroom apartment. They don’t own the apartment, they pay rent, which according to Numbeo averages about 1000/mo in the USA. Supposing they get a supposedly respectable 60,000 as an annual salary (random number), decrease that by 25% due to taxes (estimate), that’s 3750 per month to the individual and therefore about 1/3 to rent, which is a fairly standard estimate.

The question of “independence” developed fully is more a question of whether paying 1000/mo more is worth the net benefits of having a separate apartment. The average 20-something is also a college grad, which means they also have about 29000 in student loans debt. Let’s round down and ignore interest, say it’s 1000/yr for 25 yrs.  Live at home for a little over two years and all that debt is gone. Live “by yourself” and maybe the drain on your bank account will stop sometime before your 40th birthday.

Supposing your parents treat you like shit, do you want to be someone’s little bitch for two years, or for twenty five years?

Obviously it does depend on how badly you think of your parents, but it is something that requires weighing. It’s not a foregone conclusion that independence is better.

Independence itself is also a fairly silly concept. A childhood friend of mine apparently is “living on his own” these days because he doesn’t like either of his divorced parents. I asked my mom how he moved into his new apartment and if he had any at all help from his parents. The silliness extends everywhere. How exactly is one living “off the grid” when it involves driving a factory-made truck to buy international corporation extracted and refined gasoline/diesel? Is a country really independent if it imports or exports anything at all, or is always being told by AMERICA what and what not to do?

Solar Highways/Ocean Cleanup:

Logistics is why all the “THIS IS THE FUTURE” or “I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE” type stuff doesn’t fly. (The reason why it’s annoying is something different and has to do with religiosity.)

There are plenty of reasons why solar highways won’t work, the one that sticks out to me is fatigue.

Roads are made the way they are for a reason; they were made of something before asphalt when horses and the things they pulled were common and they’re made of asphalt now because the most common transportation is cars. Weighing stations exist because the roads are designed to have a certain lifetime to them and if you load them more more often then they will break faster and need repair. Asphalt is the most common material to cover roads with due to its cheapness, availability, and because it’s basically rock. Solar panels have to be made of glass or something that’s transparent so that the flimsy fancy stuff underneath it can work. Assuming crystal clear perfect weather and no integration problems between each solar roadway cell, and ignoring power transmission because I have no clue how that works, by simple fatigue the cells will have to be replaced at a ridiculous pace. That, and there’s no way in hell there’s that many materials lying around to make that many solar cells. That kind of stuff isn’t just expensive because “THE MAN IS HOLDING US DOWN”, it’s because there’s actually not that much of it.

On the green energy note, electric cars at least in America actually run on coal. Perhaps in Germany or France or Japan they run on nuclear, but electricity for electric cars from the power grid, and the power grid isn’t something that just has infinite power. Just because pollution doesn’t happen at your location when you’re driving doesn’t mean you’re not polluting. Also electric car batteries require rare earth metals. Do you think those were mined using something that didn’t run on diesel?

The logistical problem I saw in Boy Genius Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup wasn’t so much that it wouldn’t work, but why Boy Genius matters at all. This was happening about a month ago right after the solar highway fad died out; people started posting TED talks of apparently some genius 19 year old who thought up of something that would clean up the garbage patches in a very short amount of time! We should totally support this idea he’s being held down by the maaaaaan maaaaan. Shit doesn’t happen just because it’s good, and even if that is why things happen, why do they happen when they happen? When isn’t a why, language is poor at defining time, and no you aren’t allowed to ignore it. I found out the fad occurred in ~June because the organization had released some new report in May, which explained why the fad was happening then and not in 2012 when the organization first formed. The report has Boyan Slat plastered on so many chapters it’s unclear how much of it he actually looked through and contributed to, his own website talks about diving in Greece so clearly he’s from a really rich family, and the lack of any other sort of description of his background while the backgrounds of the people in the organization are so extensive shows fairly clearly that this guy is most likely just a posterchild because the environmentalist message doesn’t have enough kick to it.

And it really doesn’t. How anyone thinks only this “genius” 19-year old could’ve thought of this idea is either implausible or shows just how stupid people really are. His solution literally consists of a bunch of buoys that funnel the plastic into a collector which then every so often gets visited by a tanker and emptied out. The mechanics of the buoy funnel system were somewhat interesting to me and I read what I could, but it’s not really the point, the fact that the concept is the funnel is the point. Which is retarded because that’s literally the only concept that makes sense. Supposing that the ocean would be cleaned up of plastic garbage, how else would you do it? Pick it up by hand? By robotic arm? Train dolphins? It has to be a net of some kind that collects it over time; the rest of the details is stuff that you need engineers with experience, a lot of engineers with experience, to figure out how one would go about it. “But Boyan Slat made the decisions” someone’s never watched any dramas with supposed child monarchs in them. I’ve experienced firsthand how hard managing TWO people is over FIVE MONTHS; where the hell did this kid get the experience to manage a hundred people over two years from? How did he oversee which parts and who got paid? Where is the money coming from? None of the logistics make any sense.

It doesn’t work by the way; the foundation admits this on pg 432 of their report. It is not at all profitable, and economically costs per unit about the same as a beach cleanup. It also takes 10 years not 5 (pg 25), and it’s not all plastics but about 27% of them (pg 175) at 40~45% efficiency (pg 25). How do I know this, because I read. I’ve also read Kickstarter’s statistics for projects larger than 100K have a 7% delivery rate, and that’s the model that Boyan Slat’s organization is using to ask for 2M. “But you’re not paying 2M, it’s just like 1 or 2 dollars!” Then I might as well not contribute. Ocean pollution with plastic is unfortunate but this isn’t about to really change anything and I don’t believe it’ll work well at all. If it really did work and really did make profit I expect some big corporation to be funding it; the fact that they have to rely on a kickstarter and some random rich kid as their poster just shows me that this is a cute little side project organized by some connected guy somewhere hoping to earn a buck or two for their hobby. Like hell all those hundred something people work full time for this organization, there’s no money.

“You just like the status quo!”

That’s the trick you see. It doesn’t matter what I want. I can want rare earth metals to be common, or Boyan Slat’s project to fully clean the oceans within 5 years and profit the whole time, but that doesn’t make them happen. I can also want to care about the environment, but that doesn’t make pop cult environmentalists believe me.

Killing women and children is immoral:

This belief is more common than toilet paper, and is usually said or thought with contrast to killing men. Ignoring details on whether killing is moral or not under whatever situations, the fact that such a distinction on killing between “men” and “women and children” signifies that whatever value life has, a man’s life is worth less than a woman’s or a child’s. Man vs Woman has some biological justification namely in fertility ratio, as for children I have no idea but in cases like a sinking ship the purpose of life to begin with is that genes are passed onto the next generation so if you have a kid and you had to choose, you would let your kid live.

Supposing the sunken ship and a bunch of women and children live, what happens? They live, but they now have no source of income, and if the mother goes to work and becomes the source of income then the mother figure is gone and there’s no particular advantage to having the mother over the father (I’ve read stats that say single mother causes significantly more problems in the future than single fathers but I currently lack links). If it’s an orphan kid then he goes back to the orphanage, and if it’s a single woman then perhaps there’s some argument if she’s younger than 30.  If it’s your woman and your child then the choice is clear but if it’s other women and children there’s nothing special about them.

The futures argument (“but the kid could be X!”) isn’t really an argument since by definition it defies actual quantification; it’s more a matter of whether you want your engineers and doctors now rather than your engineers and doctors later. This would be a population or demographics balancing problem then and not a moral problem – in other words, “killing women and children is worse than killing men” is a false statement and the true statement would be “killing women is sometimes worse than killing men and killing children” and the other two versions. One would obviously choose Einstein to live over a crack addict prostitute, but that again is outside of the original moral claim. Choosing anyone over a random infant is harder to argue for in writing due to the extremely strong protective instinct, but if one was just born on the sinking ship and it was one of those that had defects that’d kill it within the next 12 hours, and you were choosing between that and a famous pop star, the choice would be obvious, and thus the statement goes back to being a case-by-case i.e. logistical issue rather than some categorical moral imperative.

Decisions in the end are made on logistics and not on concepts which are just fuzzy words. If only women and children can get onto the lifeboats, does a 16 year old male make the cut? What if he’s 17.5 or 17.99? If the woman is a transgender or a crossdresser do they count? How old can the women be before they are counted as elderly and not allowed on? How much net worth does a man have to have so that he can get to captain a boat and get off alive? How much command does a woman have to have shown before she’s allowed to replace one of those men? Careful not to make a mistake now, you’re killing people you know.

It’s not so easy if you have to think about it. It’s really easy to just say something is immoral.

A good rote repetition to start on thinking in terms of logistics is to phrase all claims in terms of a question. If it is said “X is true!”, make yourself hear “If I said X is true, would you believe me, and if so how do you think it works?”

Note that logistics is exactly why philosophical “thought experiments” are never modified. An experiment consists of testing a hypothesis of a control group versus various variable groups, but the trolley problem for instance is always presented in a single form. Whether your philosophy/debate teacher taught you it in the form one versus five or one versus ten, the question always remains in that one smaller versus larger value and the question posed is always whether action is more immoral than inaction. They never ponder the difference between one to five versus one to six, or if it was instead ten to one, one woman to five men, one elderly to five babies, or one jew to five koreans. The students sometimes bring it up, but the teacher always turns them back and asks them the impossible question of universalizing it by making up some a priori principle. If it was encouraged, the resulting plethora of variations would reveal that morality is a fraud concept that actually only exists inside the very narrow mental corridors and that the students aren’t talking with seekers of truth and masters of the world, but social engineers.

Another result of seeing things in terms of logistics is that there is no need to continually seek a new “edge” that the mainstream has or hasn’t gotten to, as seems to be the case for many “skeptics” whose MO is more about differentiating themselves from what they see as the group than anything else. Logistics clears away the smoke and mirrors if that is what you want, but they also help explain why the smoke and mirrors exist. “Sleazy tactics” are understood as a subset of “tactic” rather than a subset of “sleazy”, making its substance one of an action that has its own purpose, effectiveness, and other attributes, rather than one of emotional self-image defense. I hate feminists and I’d absolutely never date or marry one, but the feminist/SJW movement has gained power somehow and regardless of whether it was largely handed to them or largely self-made, the fact of the matter is it’s something I would not expect and if possible I’d like to figure out and learn exactly how they managed to get to the forefront of all media today. Again it’s easy enough to just say “women are consumers/larger voter base”, but I’m interested in the actual things that went on. This interest would not be possible if I was the standard anti-feminist.

“Architecture” is the word I use to describe the larger organization of logistics. It is the strategy to the tactics.

Ignoring lewds, the only real passion I have is PvP.

Every time there’s a group presentation in engineering and someone brings their laptop, the background shown before PowerPoint is moved over is without fail some picture of something related to engineering. A sports car, a fighter jet, the space shuttle, the ISS, some famous piece that everyone’s heard of or seen before. At first I thought it was just for the show, like a dress code or common etiquette because that’s the kind of schizophrenic puritan culture this country has, but no, some people actually care so much about their major or career path that even if you drop in on them working at the lab or at home you’ll see the exact same pic. Whether or not this is honest or part of this culture’s psychology problem is not really relevant, fact is, it’s there, it’s there for most people, and I can’t give a shit about it.

You know what I want to see when I minimize all my windows?

A pretty girl with a gorgeous smile.

Cause that’s one of the two things I want in life, and the other one has absolutely nothing to do with my vocation. “But everyone likes sex” I would imagine so, but not everyone likes engineering. And I really don’t like engineering. I appear to have a natural talent for the most basic stuff, but everything beyond it I’m somewhere between mediocre and bad. And I can’t care to learn more about it. Some of it is certainly due to the fact that structured education is structured horribly, but even now that I have free time I can’t care really to do much about that subject on my own.

The real medium is pursue what you are talented at. Ideally this will also be something that you enjoy, but if it isn’t that’s why hobbies exist. Employers pay for talent, they don’t pay for making employees feel fulfilled and they don’t pay people who have below-average knowledge in an ‘in-demand’ field. All the people on /pol/ who can’t find jobs with STEM degrees? They have a < 3.3 GPA because they didn’t have the talent for it. Sucks to be them.

People say because I have a mechanical engineering degree that it’ll be easy for me to find jobs as opposed to if I had a different major or no degree, maybe this is true maybe it isn’t, whether it is or not I don’t care because while money is important I’m probably going to be just as bored flipping burgers or taking calls as I am doing CAD. The one time in my four years at college where I thought the workload was getting fun and interesting was near the end with managing projects, but the interest there was more in the project management than in the engineering. Manipulating several variables and attempting to account for an unknown amount of unknowns while working with several people is a pretty fun challenge, but if the scope was the same I’m sure I’d still have the same amount of excitement if it was replaced by economics or politics or something. “But you have a background in engineering” yes, but do managers with “backgrounds” in something have the same kind of passion, vision, and perspective that the ground experts do? I don’t think so.

I tried to trace my interest in management to a broader principle. It wasn’t the accounting, as my detail-tracking is somewhat spotty and tires me out. It wasn’t the creating knowns from unknowns, since I’m not the type to just randomly build stuff on my own. The balancing between speed and certainty of decisions was definitely part of it but didn’t explain enough, since that kind of thing happens all the time anyways and it’s not like I get excited just by walking around in real life. The answer I found was in manipulating other people. The “evil boss” figure as is commonly imagined is something I don’t have the natural skill for; I don’t have the conception of some sort of absolutist power so that’s not what I enjoyed while being a manager. “Control” didn’t exist; people rarely did what i told or asked them to do even if it was by their own suggestion. The interesting part of being a manager was that my role relied on my ability to make people do what I want them to do.

“PvP”: Player versus Player. My core interest in this life is mental combat against other people. I’m not particularly interested in winning or losing, just that there was an interesting enough fight that challenged my skills enough so that my mind was pushed to its limits and I can bring enough from that experience to improve on future fights. Everything that I am interested in that isn’t biologically driven is in some way related to mental combat skills. Writing and philosophy are to structure the mind, reading is essentially the equivalent of watching a replay of someone else’s fight, games are actually simulated fights. Logistics is the thing you have to have a “background” in to be a good fighter; it’s not like politicians and journalists are actually just dumb. My interest in management wasn’t the power over others, but the game of dealing with both people supposedly more and less powerful than me. The average team member for instance has his teammates as equals, his manager as someone who basically tells him what to do, and that’s it. However much leeway his manager gives him is not really an issue, as the discussions would largely revolve around the project substance and not the power differentials. I might be totally wrong about this since I have very little experience in office politics, perhaps team members can have the exact same kind of experience. In that case then the management is irrelevant, but does not make engineering or whatever my vocation is become the primary focus. If that was the case then it simply does not really matter to me what kind of work I do, unless there’s some field where the metagame of power is more suited to my tastes and tendencies than another.

Everyone wants to win and this is acceptable, but there’s some sort of notion that manipulation is “evil”. I can’t say I find this to be the case; if we are of conflicting interests then I will to the best of my ability find out how to make your interests align with mine, at least for the most crucial moves. The model of conflict as an arm wrestle or some sort of contest of the single variable of strength is somewhat simplistic; one does not simply win because “they want it more”. Wanting it more is what leads to more experimentation and experience, the first step of advancement of which I see is to make the opponent do what you want. Direct conflict is the least efficient method; if you can deflect their attention, evade them, or make them help you, then everything becomes significantly easier. Changing the mind of an opponent is also standardly modelled as some sort of evil brainwashing, when it can take on any sort of form from the Godfather’s offer you can’t refuse to offering a kid a popsicle to stop them from bawling to a simple apology after a mistake. My interest in PvP has clarified to me that logistically there is no point in getting mad about people having a cover “lie” about things no matter how big, but also why a particular “lie” exists, why that “lie” was chosen over other “lies”, and potentially how I can use that sort of tactic. There is no “right” or “wrong”, only “what I like” and “stuff that prevents me from getting to what I like”.

Just as engineered devices are the tools people use to get to their interests of sports/fashion/etc, engineering is at least for the near future going to be my tool to get to my interest of PvP.

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