The Enemy of Good

I never learned to accept “okay” quality.

Everything always had to be excellent, or else it was trash, start over and do it again, do it again forever until it’s right. It’s right or it’s not. There’s no such thing as partial credit, designing a bridge 99% right kills 100’s of people. Even if it didn’t, why would you settle for less than perfect? Do you want to lose points? If you can be perfect, you should be.

It’s not like you have anything better to do anyways.

You can’t do the next lesson until next week, and if you do anything from any other class, or worse, something not educational, you’re a smart enough kid to guess what’ll happen.

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The Education Mythos

Today I learned that guns today don’t actually use “gunpowder”, and that modern “smokeless powder” is required for automatic weapons.

This is almost as big a revelation as the fact that cars can’t actually theoretically run forever on the smallest bit of fuel.

I hate education.

>scienceforums.net
>reading up on how smokeless powder is made because it’s clearly significantly different than gunpowder, which formerly explained one of the most important power shifts in history
>thread gets locked early in discussion by mods
>”3b. Descriptions of the construction or synthesis of illegal or hazardous devices or chemicals are subject to removal at the discretion of the staff.”

Among the other things education lies to you about is how complete it is while hiding where its holes are and how important those holes may be. There’s so many fucking holes in goddamn everything we actually do live in a magical world; the only differences being the terminology and artistic theme has changed to be dominated by angular metal and glowing glass rectangles rather than by twisted wood and colorful balls of light.

SOLAR ROADWAYS!
MANNED MISSION TO MARS WITHIN FIVE YEARS!
KEYSTONE PIPELINE IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!
GLOBAL COOLING NOW GLOBAL WARMING NOW GLOBAL COOLING AGAIN!

People will buy fucking anything if “Scientists Believe” is attached to it. Educated scientific society my fucking ass it is.

I actually wouldn’t have too much of a problem with it either, if they would actually just come out and say what knowledge was forbidden. But no, they have to talk about how it’s about obtaining truth and knowledge and truth will set you free and some other bullshit, doing it themselves while stopping you from finding out how.

But I guess it’s consistent enough with the general mythos of the West. “YOU can do it, YOU are in charge”.

It’s what they said about democracy, and who’s in charge of the government?
It’s what they said about free markets, and who’s in charge of the economy?

Why wouldn’t they preach the same for knowledge of the physical world?

This also reveals another huge fucking hole in another narrative, namely that higher education is nothing but Middle School Pt. 3 and fails to prepares you for any real jack squat work in the real world whatsoever. I thought it was odd when looking for jobs that there were so many seemingly super-niche fields requiring odd expertise, that it might’ve just been my lack of specialization or choosing interesting classes, but stuff like manufacture of smokeless powder is is literally hidden information.

You can’t fucking learn it in books or in classes or online or from undergrad research, because they’ll get the patent police on you. There is literally no way you can learn it without spending several lifetimes with the blessings of fortune and hidden unless they tell you how to do it. To put it another way, you don’t get qualified to receive that knowledge by knowing other knowledge, by having some “expert understanding”, you get it by fucking direct transfer. It is literally a secret.

Who knows how many other things out there are designated secrets, either by religion or the government or patents or any number of other powerful “old men” interests? The full extent is unclear, but the principle is well-demonstrated just by the huge divide between what’s listed on the curriculum and what’s listed on the job posting.

And this principle explains fucking everything. All the range of super-niche engineers, all the range of super-niche game developers, all the range of super-niche visual effects, they didn’t get there by knowing how to do any fucking bit of it straight out of “higher education”, they got it by either cozying up or being given a chance or something – anything – other than the “certifications” or “skills” it’s claimed to be.

What higher education prepares you for is to be a replaceable grunt of a marginally different kind. To be a replacement part for the gods of money. Maybe -maybe- if you’re lucky, not only will you not have to move to the third world to use your knowledge, you may even be arbitrarily endowed with a berry of knowledge. A shredded page which for once doesn’t describe the world as it worked two hundred years ago. And of course, it’ll be attributed back to the greatness of the alma mater and, when the time is right, to the Advancement of Knowledge for Humankind.

What a disgusting fraud, the “education” mythos is.

(originally posted to personal facebook in three pieces over the span of an hour; combined here with original pictures and slight edits)

Contractor Without a Contract

These past two and a half months have been the most stress I’ve had for as far as I can remember. The stress wasn’t from the work, which though was much more for much longer than I’ve had to do for a while, paled in comparison to the anticipation. It was from managing senior design, which not only contained this jewel of a human being, but gained a few just like him. The managing and planning weren’t the problem either. I’m not the best at those, and it was a challenge to have to be the one with the most foresight to try and set a path.

The most energy was spent on being ready.

Gout took almost a month out of me, which wasn’t too big a logistical deal since I had worked a bit ahead and caught up quick. But the orders for materials weren’t approved until three weeks in, and came in weeks four and five out of nine total. Then there were unforeseens like two feet of material being straight stolen off of a part we had already cut, the provided gasoline engine being completely unusable, people disappearing and loading off three weeks’ worth of work on me to do in three days. “You’re an engineer, deal with it”. I find the US Army Corps of Engineers motto “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.” very inspiring, but in the army there are comrades and the tangible reward is living for another day in a world of death. I dealt with it “because I could”, because my standard way of learning and working through something is to throw energy at it until it works, but with the project essentially forcing me to not go or do anything related to my other two classes or anything else in my life, I’m having to have to stop giving a shit about everything through jack squat for a good month or two to regain my full sanity and composure.

Certain things like the material theft I had taken into account for previously by having a high enough margin, but things like a measuring instrument that was supposedly “tested and working” and then having it “fried” or the given engine straight up being too violent to stand next to discovered two weeks before the end aren’t things I can really deal with in a project that’s already moving twice as fast than it was planned. But because no one above me gave a shit and no one below me gave a shit and I appeared to and did give a shit, I had to deal with it.

It was like being at the starting line of a 100M sprint, legs tense and ready to make the hardest first step of acceleration, body perfectly balanced with core holding everything proper, eyes burning the path about to be taken. And waiting. Waiting for the starting pistol to fire. Waiting, waiting, waiting, for something that you don’t know whether or not will come, but you’re told to be there, you can’t leave, and you can’t just be sitting around. There’s no one else at the starting line. You can’t even see anyone else in the stadium. But you’re supposed to run the 100, so you have to be ready. And so you wait.

“Would you recommend this class to your friends?”
“No. Absolutely not.”

Then there was the way other people handled how things were going, which to put shortly would be exactly what you’d expect out of people who like going to meetings.

I paint myself as the only one doing work and interested in doing work, which is ~85% true. Near the end the shitstain would start showing that he could be promoted to a pile rather than a stain, and occasionally my friend would decide to actually do things rather than waiting for me to check on what he was doing. In general however they basically had to be told what to do and didn’t care about anything else. “You sound authoritarian, have you tried communicating and not being a dictator” would be a vaguely valid criticism if I hadn’t actually tried it and the other two weren’t pieces of shit. If you think completely unreliable people who have shown every sign of pursuing their individual interests at the obvious cost to the group should be consulted and given power because they’re “equals as human beings”,  you should go back to econ or wherever they teach the prisoner’s dilemma.

If one of your group members was singlehandedly responsible for work that accounted for 25% of the group’s grade and hadn’t shown you the slightest evidence of work the day before it was due, how would you feel? “Totally chill dude, it’s his grade too” is how they thought. If that’s how you think, please report to your local police station so they can put you on the watchlists. I did it to verify their reactions and because I didn’t feel like showing them anything. I had been transparent with my work and planning the whole time, and each of them had unloaded significant work on me at a moment’s notice. When I took on the task of doing the final poster along with the final report and the final presentation, I just set my own schedule. If they had the balls to complain about me not being transparent, I’d ask for twenty dollars. One to buy them a mirror, one for shipping and handling, and eighteen for wasted time and fuck handling bills less than twenty.

TA and Prof were garbage. TA was a cheerleader and didn’t grill or help with anything, might as well not have been there at all. Professor’s response to literally every problem we had was some variation on “that’s not my job”. Which brought to my mind every time, “what exactly is your fucking job”. It wasn’t to check that the sponsor had approved of our orders on time, it wasn’t to push for progress on the project on time, it wasn’t to check that team members had done their assignments on time, it wasn’t to resolve internal team conflicts, and as far as I can tell, the TAs handled the logistics of the “”””””class”””””” so what the fuck was her job? “Oh she’s a very busy woman” And I’m a very busy fucking man, maybe we should compare how busy we are? I wish I could just sit around and look busy to collect money “But she’s not doing that” Yes she is and that’s why any attempt at transparency is negated at every turn by the poorest excuses I’ve ever heard. 23 teams with 23 preference lists on which projects they’d like to work on and it’s “a 23 way optimization problem”? Any idiot can see that there’s no way to choose which team gets which project if several want a particular one, and with 15 of them being universally agreed to be total shit people had to be getting preferential treatment based off of prior connections. “But that’s why we asked you to send in resumes and a proposal!” So you’ll read 85 pages of resumes and 85 more pages of proposals but won’t bother to give a short explanation to what exactly it is that slob of a menopause does in this course other than being the email chokepoint. I’m sure we have other things to do with our time like talk this *week* about our *weekly* progress and then be totally satisfied with a summary of what’s been done so far this whole quarter. I guess that makes me a really busy man too. Let me just learn from the best for two weeks and see exactly how much this project falls apart.

Sponsor taught me a lot too. The official explanation is that he “accidentally overlooked” the orders or perhaps misclicked buttons, but unbeknownst to him I had full view of all orders for his whole lab. Approximately ten orders were shown before my orders, and ten after – only mine were skipped. The orders I had placed were not exceptional in cost in comparison to the others, and the others sandwiched mine by a few weeks. Later I would ask for a reimbursement, for I had gone on my own time to get some other materials to save on exorbitant freight shipping. I was told that the sponsor “was a very busy man” and I could rest assured that I’d get my money back, along with a message that I should be grateful for my opportunity in working under a former astronaut. I did forget to take that into account. Being from NASA, I should’ve had the fullest of expectations that half the things I would be receiving from this man would be completely late, and the other half straight up “forgotten”.

Similar of note was that one team member tried to play a pity card in combination with an insult. Since I had been giving him a lot of passes for not getting things done on time because he was my friend, or so it seemed, he thought he could simply tell me that he hadn’t been doing the poster for the past three weeks because he was getting kicked out of his house and was spending time looking for jobs, unlike me, because I get to go back home blah blah blah. This would’ve had more impact if I hadn’t heard his life situation a hundred times before as off-pass remarks on anything, if he actually had a record for doing his work, if he wasn’t basically asking for me to do three week’s worth of his work in three days on top of all the work I was already doing for him, and if our friendship didn’t basically consist of me listening to him tell stories, doing him favors, and him showing me le funny maymay reddit cancer. But it didn’t, so I just did the work and that was that.

It certainly was a capstone project.

The *people* involved in had personalities and behaviors with such contrast and discord to my own that they must have been placed there by God, and to deal with them I’ve had to make some pretty big adjustments to how I act and think. They’re are all things that are really helpful to be sure, and in the future I’m sure I’ll be much more prepared to deal with significantly shittier situations. In truth, I have little problem with this teaching style, this ‘trial by fire’. I prefer learning by experience, and harsh teachers are often my favorites. But that’s not the style they claim to use, and subsequently, any criticisms I make of them they take and paint to others as unwarranted personal attacks from a mentally disturbed nobody. As such, I will give them no credit for anything that I ever do. They’ve each earned themselves a place in my memory though, just as a stovetop earns a place in a child’s reflexes.

Commencement was a pretty good first self-aware exercise at looking the top people in the face with the brightest eyes, greeting with the darkest smiles, and exchanging the greyest words.

Maybe I’ll enjoy it someday. In any case I’ll get good at it because that’s what the optimal moveset seems to include.

I’ll write the big things I learned both out of this project and college as a whole with some short stories maybe to go with them.

Can’t really say when. I’d love to say “soon” but I can’t really put any weight behind that either, and not just because setting a time limit on good pieces is bad, or because I have been writing very sparsely recently anyways. It’s because I can’t be fucked to do anything in relation to timing outside of games at the moment. Perhaps returning to daily physical and piano and go exercises will straighten things out more quickly, but I need to feel I have some control over my own life, and with all the shit I’ve had to do on other playdoh fuckers’ schedules at a minute’s notice, I can’t be fucked with applying for jobs, waiting for anything, or anything to do with anything logistical that isn’t 100% simulated and completely under my control when it’s supposed to be under my control.

Maybe this is what a rape victim feels like recounting their rape. I felt progressively worse as I wrote this. Which technically isn’t abnormal, it’s fairly common in some of the longer things I’ve written – I feel like I’m being forced to finish something that became unpleasant, but can’t go back and finish on a different point because the flow of things doesn’t work that way anymore. This “forced” being amplified by this experience going through this tragic farce of a simulated professional collaboration.

Fuck this then.

Fuck senior design too.

Fuck school, fuck university, fuck all the money that they sucked out, fuck higher education, fuck astronauts and fuck NASA, fuck them all with broomsticks and blowtorches. You want to learn the lessons I learned, learn from someone who can tell you the stories in the way you can understand. I won’t claim to be such a good writer that in my next post or three I can successfully appeal to your sensitivities in particular. But learning the hard way is called the hard way for a reason, and I think one thing everyone should learn is to read better so you can see more from lesser writers and absorb more from better ones to bypass all of this which can only be called pain and withdrawal. Originally I was supposed to be applying for jobs since January, granted I’ve had trouble with the whole “selling yourself” thing, but now I can’t really care enough to even do things that I do often enjoy doing. All I want to do is sleep, because even jacking off doesn’t feel satisfying right now.

I’ll be back when I fucking feel like it, and that means a good week after I fucking feel like it. “A good week” being approximately as long as the week God created the world.

“Then you interpret!”

Yes. Yes I do.

Freedom is not being expected to do anything in particular, and I’d an order of that right about now.

Doesn’t Matter Got Paid, Doesn’t Matter Got Laid

I’ve cited one of my friends as an example a couple of times here. 3.9 student (actually 3.98) in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, been doing undergrad research and tutoring since forever, hadn’t gotten anything. Recently by seemingly a stroke of luck he got an internship for the first half of the summer, which I thought was pretty nice. Another one of my friends at 3.6 also got something really good, an internship and then a co-op at NASA and is basically set to work there after he finishes his degree.

But it wasn’t luck. 3.6 apparently got those two things because he spent afternoons or lunches or whatever working to build a wooden windtunnel with a bunch of other people, and the professor whose pet project it was was a former astronaut. 3.9 was talking with his professor the other day, vice chair or chair (not relevant) of the department, about how he had applied at Chevron two years in a row and this second year he got even less of a response than the first and the professor said

“[name]. If you want a job at Chevron, I can get you a job at Chevron.”

I’m sorry, could you say that one more time?

They both have their own things to say about it, but this is a rose bullshit by any other name. They have to know you. You have to get connected to them on a personal level. You have to understand who they are. Then they’ll connect you and you’ll become a part of their network, just like how we’re friends and not just because facebook says so, there are networks more than just because linkedin says so.

“Connection”. You know what’s another word that starts with C, ends with n, and has exactly the same amount of letters in between?

Corruption.

Let’s review how you are supposed to get a job: You are the best qualified available in the given timeframe. Connections, theoretically, are only supposed to lower the information barrier. It’s like finding a wife, perhaps the problem resides only in the fact that you have not been able to meet someone good for you due to the fact that humans are spatially separated and the internet search terms aren’t powerful enough to connect you with someone compatible without much effort and time. A friend or family member introduces you to someone who they think might work out and you two strike it off? Great. And often this is necessary; if you want to get married and have good children and an enjoyable (sex) life you have to fuck before either of you are over 30. Same with jobs, you don’t have forever to get things done.

Is that what this is?

A week or so earlier I was going with my dad on morning walks and he was talking about this VP who had been fired at the factory he worked at and some of the other people who also got fired/laid off (I still haven’t figured out the difference) because they were only there because the VP was there. They had offered a job at the factory to one of their friends, and this was done through the normal publicly available openings or “requisition orders”. The guy wanted them to guarantee him a manager position after two years, they didn’t, so he didn’t apply. Some time later they opened it again, and the guy was promised what he wanted. He applied, and got the job.

That job was specifically designed for that person. As in, however the logistics worked out, no one would be able to fill that position but him, because what the goal was was not to find someone who had the listed traits and experiences, but that friend in particular. It’s not as if no one else applied for the position. They just all got an email or phone call or whatever telling them “This Position Has Been Closed”, or later, “This Position Has Been Filled”. Those notifications weren’t lying, of course. It’s not untrue that such a position or person was deemed to be no longer necessary. It just also failed to provide the pertinent information.

“But no money or gifts were exchan” How naive does one have to be? Maybe this has to happen to you and something you’re interested before you will buy it, as long as “you” are a westerner or have a western education. This isn’t just “connections”. We’re not talking about random people who happened to be a perfect match and were only able to meet up because of a random person they both knew. We’re talking about people who specifically want their friend to work where they work and specifically opened a position just for him, with the promise that regardless of what he did (outside of that which would lose a lot of public face, obviously) that he’d get manager in 2 years. And he did. To call those two things the same as in they’re both “connections” is like refusing to call out the difference between a rotten apple and a good apple or a human who’s alive and a human who’s dead. Or a human who’s male and a human who’s female, but I guess that would explain a lot wouldn’t it.

My dad told me to not worry so much about it because it’s only 20-30% of jobs. Only? As in, Only 1 out of every 5 to 1 out of every 3? If only one out of every 5 people in some city somewhere had cancer it’d be recognized as the new Black Plague. I had treated a lot of things told to me as bullshit. This will be important when you get a job, you have to show this and that and the other thing on your resume, don’t ever do the ten things on this list when you’re at the shitty promotional dinner for students and alumni, professionalism means x, communicating well means y. But that I treated as bullshit in the sense of all of those things were platitudes: they were nice and could occasionally get you something, but all in all optional, like most manners and standards of etiquettes seem to be these days anyways.

This is bullshit in the sense of all those things were lies.

Lies? It’s not like I was promised anything by anyone. Those professors didn’t guarantee that the only way to get to a decent job was to kiss their ass, and my friends never said anything of the sort either. Why does it feel like a lie? Because it is a lie. A murderer who says that killing is wrong is lying. A professor who says cheating is wrong but copied his exams and homework problems from someone else and faked his resume is lying.

Everyone who said I had to go to school to learn to do real work was lying. Don’t worry about the bad kids, the bullies, all the boys who are out playing with girls and footballs. You’ll be their boss someday, and get to tell them what to do. Just go to college, a good college, and do something in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics, get a degree, and you’re set for life. A house will appear, so will a car, and a job with career opportunities, and a wife with a happy family will all just magically plop themselves in front of you. Private Jet? CEO? President? Woman of your dreams? Maybe time travel, or colonizing space? All of this is possible… if you go to college and get a degree! But only if you do it properly. Show up to class on time, and that means 15 minutes early, study ahead, ask questions in class and go to every office hour, go to every job fair and try to talk to every representative. Do community service, preferably with Rotoract or some other club like that so you can network. Play hard, but study hard. Eat well, sleep well, focus on the goal and you will get there.

Don’t try to become a pro sports player, or a rock star. Only a very few people get to do that. If you want a steady, solid, and proven path, go to school and study hard.

3.6 didn’t get his job guarantee off of studying. 3.9 didn’t get his job guarantee off of studying either. 100% of my friends who have jobs got it through methods completely unrelated to their subject matter, and 100% of my friends who don’t have jobs, didn’t. “Then you must not have many friends” It’s more that I don’t count serving coffee at Starbucks as a job. Highschools boast about what percentage of their students they send to college, well that doesn’t tell us the distribution between how many they send to Stanford + Ivy Leagues vs the community colleges and art schools does it. Colleges and Universities (don’t know the difference here either) boast about what percentage of their commencees/graduates find a job, but that doesn’t tell us how many are actually in their field, or more importantly, because lest we forget this is why we all bought into the higher education crap to begin with, what the distribution of incomes is. “Got a degree and then found a job” sounds great. “Busted my ass off while getting little time for rest and no time for girls or socializing because I was studying for Mechanical Engineering all the time and now I’m working with Mexicans as a contractor as in I’m the guy running the nails” does not sound nearly as enticing.

Is this what the world is like?

Is this what I was going to live in all along?

I mean strictly speaking there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. There’s always going to be corruption to some extent. You’re going to want to work with your friends regardless of how you end up getting them there. Some of these things I find distasteful, but I find many things distasteful that I deal with anyways because I can’t change them nor does it matter too much if I change them because I can’t touch the principle. It’s not even that there’s no enemy to strictly fight in the physical sense, so I can just brawl with someone, knock them out, and then have all my problems related to that person be over with because they know not to fuck with me – I certainly would prefer this for many things, but abstracting and manipulating isn’t something I’m weak at. I can fight some things this way, perhaps even all things this way.

BUT I WASNT FUCKING TOLD ANY OF THIS

I WAS TOLD THE WORLD WORKED
IN EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE MANNER

“hur baddies gonna bad”

3.9 was telling me that he likes seeing things from different points of view, and I should talk to his professor about it. He’s vice/chair, he has some power. And then he turns around sometime later in the conversation saying that the vice/chair is human too, and he can’t simply change the system on his own either. Everyone has their own personal side too, and you have to empathize with them.

Being someone who actually can see things from other people’s point of view- no actually, this is my fault, and I say “fault” in the “What Is Your Greatest Weakness” sense. I see things from other people’s points of view too much. It literally took me all of my life up until when I wrote Frame Control to fully understand what it means to hold my own point of view. From 0 to high school freshman I’d be seen as arrogant everywhere, but this was literally because I did not envision other people as humans in any way. Minus the arson, it really was like TF2’s Pyro. Now imagine if Pyro’s mask was broken and he saw what he was actually doing. Everything from the most fundamental roots of his world would’ve been undone and he’d have to learn everything all over again. From high school up until Frame Control, I was so good at absorbing the other point of view I’ve never failed at becoming better than the original. I had wanted redemption, and I sought it anywhere I could.

But I am not going to seek it from this fucking professor.

Gee, you have a hard time getting your department to do what you want? You have a hard time understanding what a student is going through? That must be real fucking nice. If that’s the only thing you really have to worry about, your life must be real fucking comfortable. Because here’s the rest of us, paying in 15k a year in “tuition” alone, studying our asses off, actually no, I’m not even going to say “the rest of us” because now I fail to believe other students actually work hard. I was in a group because the lab required us to be in a group and we were finishing up our final report this summer session and one of the guys asked me to help him on the other final project in another class we shared. And I found out he didn’t even know material from literally week 2 of the prerequisite class. How did he get to the last week of this class? A friend did everything for him because it was group projects too. So I’m going to speak only for myself. Here I am, paying 15k a year in tuition alone, spending four hours per problem in one of my four classes, read that again because I didn’t type incorrectly, attempting to figure out shit because what was taught in class was pure unattached theory and I have to wade through the two hundred or so equations with about half as much different symbols per chapter, even though classes are a six hour block three times a week, and literally zero companies I’ve applied to have had anything to say to me.

So if I think the system which has been sold to me by everyone from my parents up to individual professors (in varying quantities) to supposedly give me at least a greater “foot in the door” than the high school graduate into the supposedly high paying high prestige profession that is engineering, I should come to you to respectfully voice my grievances?

And then if I do that enough and do enough work for you, I can get a job at Chevron?

Hey man, the police just want to feed their family.

If I was my old “Pyro” esque self I wouldn’t be talking with this guy at all. If I was my highschool suck-everyone’s-dick self I might actually write some letters or get this vice/chair for his point of view, then go back to my corner and think about how the whole system is actually justified. As it stands, this whole thing is just a tragedy for me. Which he doesn’t disagree with, except for the fact he sees it as a neutral tragedy. In the rational, “it doesn’t really matter” sense. In the “a million deaths is just a statistic” sense. Not in the “My sister just had her head hack-sawed off” sense.

Not in the “twenty one years out of twenty one years of my life have been wasted so I’m actually completely useless” sense.

From “Corruption is always bad” to “Corruption is only 20%-30% of everyone“, to “You should try to understand their point of view”, to “Connections are good”.

“You have no one to blame but yourself” yeah that’s the problem isn’t it? It’s because it took me until this long to figure out that I had been completely duped and now the most productive thing I’m going to do for civilization is flip patties, broom linoleum floors, and, if I’m lucky, reprimand employees if they don’t remember a customer’s name after turning around from putting the cardboard sleeve onto the cup at the coffee machine. That’s the only productive thing I can do for anyone, from the other side of the planet to the people right next to me. That’s the only way the world wants for me to get food on the table. On top of the new Obamacare stuff requiring the poor to pay twice (first for taxes second for premiums), you can kiss your American Dream goodbye, and any hope of children too.

College is depopulation.

“Don’t take it personally” Fuck you and fuck off.

Home

Points in Space
Cathedral of Light
Mass Production
There Is Only One Game
Remember Me

__________________

In the three preceding chapters we have shown that the world is divided between two philosophies. The one the philosophy of free trade and universal liberty – the philosophy adapted to promote the interests of the strong, the wealthy and the wise. The other, that of socialism, intended to protect the weak, the poor and the ignorant. The latter is almost universal in free society; the former prevails in the slaveholding States of the South. Thus we see each section cherishing theories at war with existing institutions. The people of the North and of Europe are pro-slavery men in the abstract; those of the South are theoretical abolitionists. This state of opinions is readily accounted for. The people in free society feel the evils of universal liberty and free competition, and desire to get rid of those evils. They propose a remedy, which is in fact slavery; but they are wholly unconscious of what they are doing, because never having lived in the midst of slavery, they know not what slavery is. The citizens of the South, who have seen none of the evils of liberty and competition, but just enough of those agencies to operate as healthful stimulants to energy, enterprise and industry, believe free competition to be an unmixed good.

The South, quiet, contented, satisfied, looks upon all socialists and radical reformers as madmen or knaves. It is as ignorant of free society as that society is of slavery. Each section sees one side of the subject alone; each, therefore, takes partial and erroneous views of it. Social science will never take a step in advance till some Southern slave-holder, competent for the task, devotes a life-time to its study and elucidation; for slavery can only be understood by living in its midst, whilst thousands of books daily exhibit the minutest workings of free society. The knowledge of the numerous theories of radical reform proposed in Europe, and the causes that have led to their promulgation, is of vital importance to us. Yet we turn away from them with disgust, as from something unclean and vicious. We occupy high vantage ground for observing, studying and classifying the various phenomena of society; yet we do not profit by the advantages of our position. We should do so, and indignantly hurl back upon our assailants the charge, that there is something wrong and rotten in our system. From their own mouths we can show free society to be a monstrous abortion, and slavery to be the healthy, beautiful and natural being which they are trying, unconsciously, to adopt.

– George Fitzhugh

There is no psychology; there is only biography and autobiography.

– Thomas Szasz

It is not ‘I think, therefore I am’… yes, it is ‘I think, therefore you are’.

– Ergo Proxy

Every belief is a perspective: a vantage point, from which we take in our ‘worldview’. In the modern scientific era we have emphasized highly what the field of vision covers, which direction it’s pointing in, and how clear that vision is. This is where all our energy goes. Outside of the “groundbreaking discovery” which causes a “paradigm shift”, every action we take stays inside the structure, filling it in, like a technician making ever more minor decisions but still following the blueprint working inside the major design constraints overall. The standard Question Everything base of Western philosophy, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, gives us a semi-occasional reminder (depending on how many times we’ve heard it before) that not everything we believe is true, that something may be wrong with the fundamentals. But we never seem to know what our fundamentals are, nor do we believe what they are when we’re told. When we encounter someone who seems to have different fundamentals than us, we don’t really know what to do.

The phrase “See where they’re coming from” is used, but no one knows what it means.

It’s easy to know that you’re not supposed to talk poorly about women as a category because everyone knows whether they’re for or against that worldwide and historically women have been oppressed, they’re a minority, you know as well as them that each individual women is always going to stand up for women as a whole. It’s easy to know that that’s what they think (or are told they should think, which amounts to the same thing). Same with blacks, muslims, gays, etc. But all these things are what they believe; these are not “where they’re coming from”. That is where they want to go, where they think they are going. It doesn’t matter if you declare that you share your destination; girls don’t care if you sing them all the feminist fantasies and gays don’t care if you start standing on a sidewalk with a banner. Ideology does not make friends, only political points. There’s a reason why all/even the most powerful and well-known feminists want patriarchs, and will continue lusting for them long after they’ve ditched their BFF feminist friends for lifelong grudges. It is something more personal and also more broad than “we agree” or ‘we are similar”. In other words more fundamental, more true.

The “view” in “point of view” is what we are familiar with: what is close, what is far, what can be seen and what cannot be seen. The “point” however is not a concept fathomable in conventional terms, thanks to “We are all One” and equality and other entropic ideas. Even uniqueness does not help, for still it makes us a conglomerate of vague ideas and feelings isolated in space. In this each of us would exist, but not in relation to anything else – atomic, individual, isolated. What you can see is strictly a function of field of vision, like a kid in a planetarium. But there is no function of position: no matter where you stand in a planetarium, whether you bring in a chair to stand on or are laying on the floor, you’re going to be able to see everything available with the turn of a head. It is not so simple if you are in a city with skyscrapers – where you are, your position in space, your point – for no one can ever see everything at once. Get in a helicopter, control a satellite, or gain access to the NSA’s surveillance systems: you will always see something different, and it is always impossible to see everything. Perhaps this is why equality and individuality fit together so well: both ignore ordinates.

What are the ordinates of people? What in the world informs you of your cultural and philosophical position, your point in social space? In math, additional points are required to define additional dimensions. In society:

Additional people.

We understand others through understanding ourselves. Sympathy is not possible without or before empathy, and don’t start saying it’s possible because you can see how other people can feel in situations from books or movies, you still have to feel it yourself first. Being able to read off a list that so and so person has been through A B C experiences in their lives and therefore statistically thinks X Y Z things so you should probably react in α β γ manners is great and all, but a computer can do that, and so far see how well people are responding to automatic systems. Does being able to read and follow instructions off a sheet make a good doctor, customer servicer, or policeman? These are not what cause us to like, follow, and be candid with others.

To see where others are coming from, we have to see where we are coming from. We have to for ourselves as well be able to understand in a way which is different from the self reflection we do when we think of what to put on a cover letter or resume. Can you see where you’re coming from? Do you know who you are?

Can you know who you are when you are free?

__________________

 “I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes.”

– John Taylor Gatto

If any question why we died, tell them, because our fathers lied.

– Rudyard Kipling

[…] When I came in they presented engineering as, look at all these labs we have, all the things we build, all the machines students can use, other nice facilities and resources. Then when we started engineering classes it was ehhhh heeeeee~mmm walcum du injineeeering wuhn hundurd. Then when we started looking for jobs and internships, the double major is seen as completely irrelevant compared to just the single major, and they expect so many things out of us that we’d never even heard of before. And then every once in a while, we see random students, no particular observable pattern, who speak of college as this great wealth of opportunities that you’re never going to see “in the real world”. They work on projects with 15K grants, build real things, use all the programs, know all the names and all the people. And it’s there, they say; for everyone, they claim. All I needed to do was ask around. Is it my fault? That I didn’t know what to do?

I’ve not thirty years of teaching, but I have had fifteen years of being taught.

And I have concluded that school is garbage.

Or (rather /) more broadly, the narrative is garbage.

In K-5, the adults always seemed to be playing games with us. In the cafeteria the female principal would always go up and tap on the mic repeatedly until the room of two hundred kids all went silent, then said her little thing which we never cared about before we were let out to lunch recess. Being second graders of a fairly decent neighborhood we had no words to express our anger but we started eating outside instead, unrestricted by this little game of hers. We all knew it was possible to quiet us down without such a disgraceful performance – possible to get us to hang on your every word, even. This was not simply theory, for one vice principal one year would get applause every time he showed up instead of the principal, and we’d all stop talking and start paying attention before he ended his second syllable. But the principal never managed. Not even when the whole population had essentially rotated out: no one liked her when we were in kindergarten, no one liked her when we were in fifth grade.

In middle school (6-8), the teachers started playing these games, but it got stricter and we started getting grades so we played the games with them. We didn’t like the games, of course. No one liked the vice principals, their decisions were never consistent. The teachers were more consistent, but their standards were arbitrary and often didn’t help us at all (why do we have to decorate and use colored pencils on an vocab assignment?). Girls started getting obviously favored on many things for reasons completely outside of their supposed better ability to sit well and pay attention and get higher grades, and suddenly we had to haul 25 pounds around every day in textbooks and PE clothes. Parents started talking about college, and talking about how the “bad kids” could bully us around now, but we’ll be their boss and be able to tell them what to do because we’ll go to college.

High school (9-12) the games increased, but got more subtle. Forensics, or Speech and Debate, would have us pay $500 a year (at the time I could only conceive of $150) to hire outside coaches to make us better at public speaking and to pay the teacher who organized it to stay after school. But the school period was always a free period – no one ever took it seriously and always either just played card games or worked on homework due the next period. The teacher never came out or did anything except complain about how he has to work hard. The coaches never helped anyone individually – except those who had already won things at tournaments, and those individuals would be all that they would help. I joined it because my parents had always said I was good at arguing; mostly everyone else joined it because “it’ll look good on your college applications”. But even forensics was a joke. They always told us that it was based on the Roman “forum” and a search for truth. What it was was theater. Every event/competition must be judged, and each judge is a parent – the atmosphere was clear, it was nothing more than an immigration war. The “speech” events were even described as simply performances; the debates always had silly arguments in them and “Kritiks” which at first seemed to be serious business that only the best debaters knew how to use and then were clearly just silly. The Honors/AP teachers didn’t play so many games, we actually learned how to execute things. But when and where do we execute these things?

I thought there were no games in the college of engineering, but I was wrong. I just didn’t see and didn’t want to believe until now. The first two years we had approximately half our classes where we learned things, the same kind of teachers (with less personal time) in high school. The other half was trash. Can’t speak english, can’t teach, tests with things we’ve never seen before, professors so bad they knew they were bad so they’d give out the final exams with the answer key beforehand then give it again during the assigned time. Of course, they were just “practice” exams, it’s not like only a few digits were swapped out and everything else was kept the same. Then professors who’d teach one way and test another, have completely different midterm and exam styles, have homework due during finals and mention new material which would be 100% of the final during the last half hour of class on the last day. That class I would pass. Another class which was easy the whole way through this quarter, I would fail.

But it’s okay, because I have an internship and career lined up and ready to go because I’m above 3.0 in engineering and that’s hard and most people can’t do that. No actually I don’t. And because I don’t have this, hard luck bad economy tough times go back to school and get a doctorates because bachelors is the new high school diploma?

Top Fucking Lel.

The reason why the boy who cried wolf had all his sheep eaten not because he lied, but because the villagers had a better memory than a goldfish. Every time a large event happens there are some ironic comments about how everyone’s going to forget about it within two weeks. Ironic, like it’s not going to happen again and again and again, making them part of the joke as well. Literally dumber than Gooby, who at least can see that Dolan’s still just screwing with him. No, every bad occurrence regardless of frequency, intensity, or trend over time is just a “bad apple“. Everything’s actually just dandy because God’s in His Heaven and All’s Right with the World.

Which would be true, except that God is dead.

If I flunk out of college I’m not going back. I don’t care that there’s “only one year left”.

The other day my mind was made up and Aerospace is garbage. The department agrees, and doesn’t encourage anyone to go into Aero, and rumors are they’re going to close the major because Aero is just Mech with specialization in Aero. No one actually gives a damn about you double majoring, not the professors, not the university, not the companies, the only one who cares is your mom because your dad will realize if not already realized that there actually is no “high demand for STEM majors”. (Go look up “STEM myth” or something along those lines. Or just use your brain: Would detached money-driven business wait for America to raise a generation of STEM majors, who are probably going to demand more pay, or are they just going to import Indians?) So now I’m just doing Mech, because now it’s not some stupid whole-year lineup where failing one class means “You’ll Have To Come Back” next year when tuition is 30% higher. No point in graduating with a double major if it means squatting in a shithole for five more years. And what will happen when I get out of college?

There’s literally nothing out of college that is useful, or maybe it’s just California, but I have no means of transportation so to me this is essentially the world.

Everyone complains that Millenials and Generation X and Generation Y all have a raging sense of entitlement. If that’s true at all, remember that some of those younger people are now in management positions.

I’ve noticed it in the way they write job descriptions on Craigslist. Everything is all about them, and what they think they deserve, and what they need, what they think you should do for them — not what they have to offer. I’ve laughed out loud at a few ads that contained long lists of qualifications, demands, and complaints about former employees…followed by a starting salary offer… just above minimum wage.

– Jack Donovan, Hours are Just Hours

I do have a “raging sense of entitlement”. I think I’m entitled to my parents’ generation telling me the truth to the best of their ability. What they should have told me is that everything is a lie, everything is an advertisement, and the only thing that matters is how much you make others like you, no matter what the cost – this kind of thing is what you see on TV, what Mafia bosses tell their sons, right next to “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”. What they did tell me was study hard, focus on school, and you’ll be rewarded with meaningful work, power over those who shat on you before, and raising a family who will take care of you in old age. Studying hard hasn’t gotten me anywhere, because those classes which need studying for are the same ones which have completely inconsistent professors. Focusing on school clearly is full of shit because the only ones who get anything out of universities on average are women, either with international careers lined up or an MRS degree, for the same obvious reasons why they started getting favored in middle schools. Two parts of five have been shown to be complete and total lies. That’s 40% of the game. What reason is there to believe in the other 60%?

Of course, maybe I’m the degenerate. I haven’t done any undergraduate research, haven’t taken any part-time jobs, am not a straight-A student. Not the best athlete, have no particularly amazing skills, and can’t keep my mouth shut when someone’s full of shit. Maybe I just haven’t been trying hard enough, because “the resources are there” – we live in the age of the internet after all, where everything is open to everybody. I should be emailing everybody about their lives, inquiring about openings, making connections. Signing up for extra classes to meet more people and learn more things. I should have initiative. College is what you make of it.

Let us assume this thing is true, because it probably is.

Then why the fuck are they here?

Why the fuck am I paying them for even what they think of as garbage (“they’re here for research”)?  They don’t respond to my emails (“they’re busy people”). Actually, we can extend that quite a bit – why the fuck does school exist to begin with? I would’ve willingly gone to some of my classes because they taught me things which were fun for me and I found useful for my own means, but many of them have never been useful in the slightest and have had teachers who are clearly there just to get paid, and inversely I’m just there to pay them. What? Why would I do that?

Fifteen years of my life and how many hundreds of thousands of dollars for this garbage system? Suppose that the meaning of life is to make things meaningful to someone else. School doesn’t teach you how to court or how to fuck. School doesn’t teach you how to speak or when to keep your mouth shut. School doesn’t teach you how to communicate effectively. School doesn’t even teach you how to use excel, perhaps the greatest program ever devised. Even in the almighty STEM majors, 3.9 students are scratching their heads “So why do we have to learn about this method if we’re never going to use it? Shouldn’t this be a History class and not an Engineering class?”

Do you realize how much time fifteen years is? (I don’t, so I won’t elaborate further. It’s probably significant. Maybe. I’m only twenty. Soon I’ll be Forever 21.)

The titties aren’t here. The fame isn’t here. Family has never been here. And now, even the money isn’t here.

There’s only a hope. Audacity of Hope, indeed.

It’s not that the companies’ decisions are unreasonable. I don’t like them, but it can be understood. If a 20~25 year old kid blasted music all night, disturbing his neighbors whose names s/he doesn’t even know, partying like s/he’s the center of the universe, then when the sun rises in the morning (leaves on the music), puts on a suit and holds a folder stands in a firm fashion and starts bragging to you about how good they are at whatever and how they’ve made whatever impact and learned whatever things, then goes and sleeps in class taught by a teacher who is just there so they can get paid for research they delegate to grad students who have their fun fucking with undegrads’ grades on homework, to get an A+ and be confident that they’ll be set for a full career, would you hire that kid? If you knew this was the standard, or even the aspired standard by the great Fraternities and Sororities as “professional brotherhoods”, irrelevant what department or what kind of degree it was, would you be looking forward to working with any of them at all?

“Dolan are you trying to trick me again?”

Did I say the money isn’t there? I’m sorry. It is; college is a hedge fund. It’s just not your hedge fund.

No one fell for it when they said algebra would be useful in real life to calculate the speed of a freefalling object, or two trains one leaving chicago the other leaving san francisco, or to calculate your compound interest rates. Questions quickly became, are we going to go skydiving soon, but what about drag, I know it gets harder to go faster. Are we going on a field trip to see some trains? Who cares about interest rates, use a computer. But then, somewhere along the way, everything changed. Gotta apply to colleges. What are the top five things that matter to you when choosing a college? You need to structure your personal statement in this that other manner. Follow these ten weird steps to make your resume stand above and beyond the crowd! HR/Admissions is always flooded with applications, you want yours to catch their eye. No, no one cares that you are good at what you do. You have to be good at presenting it. You have to get your foot in the door.

I never took an SAT.

I never stepped foot in a highschool class.

I didn’t drop out either.

I just don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to do. I’m trying to self-teach one of my passions, programming, but jesus man. Guess that makes me too entitled.

Step parents pulling me in and out of home school and public school.

K-2 was public, 3-5 was home, 6-8 was public.

Was very hard adjusting both academically and socially. Imagine taking a child 12 years old or so who really didn’t have friends or understand the world around him or what being social was like and then thrust him into junior high.

Anyway, they wanted me to do homeschool again for high school, but they were out of state a lot. Always busy working. So, it never happened. A kid cannot enroll himself in a home school, which is what I guess they were expecting me to do. So, I spent my whole high school years doing nothing myself at home. My parents would literally be gone for months on end, come home for 2 or 3 days and then leave again.

Then we moved out into rural texas in 2009 and here I am.

I understand the importance of initiative. But what the fuck? What am I supposed to do?

You don’t know how to do that do you?

Then try this.

“It’s called a confidence game. Why, because you give me your confidence? No: because I give you mine.”

__________________

Even in the midst of flowing time,
Look, listlessness dances round and round.
I can’t even see my heart,
As it withdraws from me, and I don’t care.
Even if I don’t make a move,
I keep being swept away through the cracks of time.
I don’t give a damn about anything around me,
I am me, and that’s all there is to it.

Am I dreaming? Am I seeing nothing?
My words are useless, even if I were to speak them.
Sadness only leaves me exhausted,
And I’d rather live my days feeling nothing.
Even if you told me those bewildering words,
My heart would be elsewhere, not even listening.
If I were to make a move on my own, and change everything,
I’d still turn it all black.

Is there a future for someone like this?
Do I belong in this world?
Does my heart ache now? Do I grieve now?
I simply know nothing about myself.
Merely walking leaves me exhausted,
So how could I care about anyone else?
If even someone like me could change,
Were I actually to change, I’d turn white.

If I make a move, if I make a move,
I’ll destroy it all, I’ll destroy it all,
If I grieve, if I grieve,
Would my heart turn white?
I still know nothing about you, nothing about myself,
Nothing about anything at all.
If opening my heavy eyelids means I’ll destroy everything,
Then let it all turn black.

– Translation: whispersiichan, Bad Apple!!


__________________

I am well aware of the possibilities and ideals, and surely I would want nothing more than a loving wife and a bonded family.

But what is so great about the category, “3D women”?

Everyone loves to talk about how women are oppressed by this and that thing, one of newer ones being that 2D women are now making 3D women “replacable” – which is the complete opposite of what is actually happening. 2DW have never been replacable – if they were, Hatsune Miku would’ve quickly been replaced by another illustrated vocalizer, Rei Ayanami by another silent girl who controls great power, Yoko Littner by some other random girl with huge tits. But they’re not, and they remain popular in the art and in the merchandise. 3DW, on the other hand, are readily replacable. New girlfriend every month, pump and dump, these things are the name of the game today, and they aren’t spilling over to 2DW. Oh wait, I was supposed to talk about the other direction.

Women today are absolute garbage except for their looks and perhaps as an oversized Fleshlight (or TENGA, depending on what you prefer). They aren’t willing to have children, they can’t take orders, and they can’t do anything but dress up or preparing to dress up. “But women are going to college, they’re the majority now” Yes I covered that, it’s under “dress up or preparing to dress up”. What is the purpose of life, Reproduction. What produces children, Women (Men are machines of Labor). Go look up the average happiness levels of 40-50 year old women, those who have children and those who don’t; compare also what they want in their lives, and come back and tell me nature is wrong. But hey, Forever 21 right? I can put off having children for another 20 years, just like I can put off paying off my student loans, my car loan, my doing meaningful work, and building my future. My children certainly won’t mind if I have them when I’m 50. They can’t, because they’ll be retarded.

Currently we evaluate everyone based solely on their benefits to our existing life, so what are the benefits of a 3DW over a 2DW? A 3DW complains, takes up space, takes up money, takes up room on the bed. Can’t cook, can’t drive, can’t help you with work. They could help you with little chores here and there to make your life easier, but they don’t. Always entitled because hey there’s plenty of fish in the sea, why stay with you? Constantly demanded to prove your worth in manners completely unrelated to loyalty, because at a moment’s notice any shred of polyester can be conclusive evidence that you’re cheating. A warm body, probably something not nearly as amazing as the blonde “billions (out of 10)” that you find online. That’s about it.

2DW never changes personality, has a better and actually unique personality, can’t leave you, is more beautiful, and is always there for you. Takes up no room (maybe a couple of GB if you’re dedicated), doesn’t necessarily take up money, can be removed off the bed without much hassle at all. Never ages. Never has anything bad to say about you.

No one cares about bloodlines anymore, so 3DW aren’t needed for reproduction. No one cares about children anymore, and are even against them “because they cost too much money” insert XYZ Loans here. Frankly, 3DW are nothing more than “friends with benefits”, and even that doesn’t mean much anymore because of the same degradation to the concept of friend. The only purpose now is to get under favorable tax brackets due to marriage brackets. If you’re both out working all day, then who’s home to take care of anything? What is a home anymore, but a place to shit and sleep?

Why would a man want a 3DW there? Creates no peace of mind via additional safety, nor solace of soul through reassurances and trust.

Having fun and being in love? What is fun, what is love? Even pulling just from their common usages, fun is something completely nonunique to 3DW – it’s more related to alcohol and activities associated with much laughter. Love for the english language is even more broad; “I love pizza”, “I love my dog”, “I love my mom”. “But it’s different” yes I know the borders of language, thank you for acknowledging semantics are significant. If it is simply the feelings you get with being with a 3DW these are easily recreated with a little bit of mental brainpower, as indicated quite clearly by those who marry dolphins and pillows. If it is the intricacies of sex you want, all those executables not found in only two dimensions, then you can hire a prostitute. Put in a little effort into “pick up artistry” or “game” and you won’t even need to pay. You want the two together, easily done: pump and dump, with a passion. But then each 3DW isn’t that special, are they? Even without going through this exercise: they’re just vessels, the means to get to fun and love.

2DW are not making 3DW replacable, they are replacing them because 3DW are replacable. Many things have replaced 3DW in the past for these reasons. 2DW are simply the newest competitor.

They only happen to look more similar than any of its predecessors.

For that matter, why are >99% of men needed? Women only need their Twilight and their KPop stars.

Why is anyone needed?

__________________

Ever on and on I continue circling
With nothing but my hate in a carousel of agony
Till slowly I forget and my heart starts vanishing
And suddenly I see that I can’t break free I’m
Slipping through the cracks of a dark eternity
With nothing but my pain and the paralyzing agony
To tell me who I am, who I was
Uncertainty enveloping my mind till I can’t break free and

Maybe it’s a dream, maybe nothing else is real
But it wouldn’t mean a thing if I told you how I feel
So I’m tired of all the pain, of the misery inside
And I wish that I could live feeling nothing but the night
You can tell me what to say, you can tell me where to go
But I doubt that I would care, and my heart would never know
If I make another move there’ll be no more turning back
Because everything will change and it all will fade to black

Will tomorrow ever come? Will I make it through the night?
Will there ever be a place for the broken in the light?
Am I hurting? Am I sad? Should I stay or should I go?
I’ve forgotten how to tell did I ever even know
Can I take another step? I’ve done everything I can. All the people that I see I will never understand
If I find a way to change if I step into the light, then I’ll never be the same and it all will fade to white

If I make another move, if I take another step
Then it all would fall apart, there’d be nothing of me left
If I’m crying in the wind if I’m crying in the night
Will there ever be a way will my heart return to white?
Can you tell me who you are? Can you tell me where I am?
I’ve forgotten how to see, I’ve forgotten if I can
If I opened up my eyes there’d be no more going back
Cause I’d throw it all away and it all would fade to black

– Translation: Cristina Vee, Bad Apple!!


__________________

There is only one game.

People like to sort everything into neat little categories governed by tidy simple formulas, even separated by language that appears nowhere else. Math is different from English. Politics is different from Economics. Older is different from Younger. As much as people claim to believe in equality, they clearly at least believe in a “Separate But” version, if not a full-on hierarchy. They believe it exists, they just also happen to believe it should not exist. Is/Ought: the clarification that needs to be made thanks to elementary school teachers everywhere setting up the false dichotomy between “Fact and “Opinion”. We will focus on the former because the latter is relatively irrelevant. Probably also absolutely irrelevant, but I can’t care enough to show that.

When the PA system sounds the buzzer, it’s time to “switch gears”; when the robes are donned it’s time to switch cars. Like history textbooks, people readily attribute “phases” to their lives, and like how we’re told there are three distinct branches of government, people will recognize “positions” between themselves and others. And when that clutch grabs onto the next number, you must be ready to take on an entirely new task. Math and English are entirely different you see, because they use different parts of the brain, and really, just look at what you’re writing, the quadratic equation is obviously not even remotely close to the Schaeffer method. You can’t just say the integral of knowledge with respect to time is wisdom, are you dumb? How could you possibly think that acting how you do in a bar can be acceptable in front of the guy at the career fair? No, they’re clearly different, and you need to keep in mind (believe) that they are different. New situations call for new strategies. “I’ve forgotten everything from math just now” Good. “I’ve forgotten everything from math last year” Very good. “I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned in my life up to this point” Fabulous.

Or wait, that doesn’t sound right now does it. At least, not that last one.

It is easily recognized that just because I play with different units does not mean that I play a different game. If I play with the same units in a different way, It also does not mean I am playing a different game. Even playing a different game could, in a sense, not mean that you are playing a different game: just as stories have archetypes and can be boiled down to “A stranger came to town”, games are all essentially the same and have skills which translate across one another. You’re going to have to be able to hold a pencil regardless if you’re in math or english class; you’re going to have to be able to speak the same language as the other person regardless if it’s your drunk friend or the guy at the career fair. Some things will be more translatable, others may only have a couple of nuances that aren’t well-understood but seem to be similar nonetheless. “But they’re not the same thing” But ‘not the same’ does not mean ‘everything is different’.

Let’s say we call two things different. If you think of it as absolutely new you will build all your understanding from scratch, and if something you built reminds you of something else, then either you question whether it is different at all or you question what you built (because it’s absolutely new). Either one of these things, you are not spending your time actually on making a better understanding. Now let’s say we call them the same thing. More likely than not they differ in several fairly significant ways, but because the goal is to win the game you want to understand how to win as fast as possible. If you think of the current game as similar to previous games, you will attempt to import skills and make adjustments because that is faster than beginning a wandering with nothing.

With videogames, card games, and board games, this is relatively easy. Dicerolling, mouse accuracy, card handling are all motor skills. We accept them as similar because it’s physically there.

With other games, all of this goes out the window.

Like disregarding everything your parents ever told you about strangers because this stranger offered toys rather than candy and it was a coupe rather than a van.

So we become babies again, hanging onto every word because it’s a wide wide world out there, and obviously this person is good because they’re here talking to me and answering my questions. The teachers have to want me to be educated, the administrators have to want to keep me safe, the strangers in the coupe has to actually have toys they want to give me. Clearly. It’s the only thing I know about this situation, it’s new and something I’ve never seen before. The only thing I can do is do what they say. So they have to have my interests in mind.

Because if they didn’t, I’d lose all the time.

Because if they didn’t, then the world would be a scary place.

Eren… I’d told you to wait for me downstairs!! What have you done… DO YOU EVEN REALIZE WHAT YOU DID?

MERELY PUT DOWN SOME RABID DOGS! SOMETIMES THEY JUST HAPPEN TO LOOK LIKE PEOPLE!

Shingeki no Kyoujin

If you can think, remember. If you can remember, learn.

There is only one game.

__________________

Humanity is a broken series of free men irreparably isolated because of their subjectivity.

– Simone de Beauvoir

What is the meaning of life?

The easy answer is reproduction. You came in by fucking, and most people would like nothing more than to go out by fucking.

But this is not a satisfactory answer: it’s too much physical and not enough spiritual.

This is the common theme throughout all unsatisfactory truths. No one wants to be think that no matter how they eat or what they eat, in the end they’re just the same as pigs and dogs eating slop and shit. They won’t argue that it’s different because it’s cooked and has better nutrition because of some elements or vitamins, because that’s not satisfactory for them either. Paint it up and it’s the same thing; the vision of the future changed quite quickly from a colorful white city to a dirty and dark industry, then back again, but it didn’t matter, no one strictly looks to the future as bright anymore. Everything looks significantly better since ~2010 computer graphics almost universally look better than ~1960 magazine art, and we’ve thought up more things in more ways since then. “We can’t unlearn or unsee” is a copout answer which is also wrong; people don’t learn from history. The difference is that the advertised improvements from the black skyscrapers through the smog are not the same as the advertised improvements from whatever people thought of the future before science fiction.

Apple isn’t selling a piece of glass with electronics attached to it, and that’s not what people are buying. They’re buying an “iPad”. Perhaps it’s stupid, it’s consumerist or whatever. Perhaps some other things like this are stupid too, like truly being attached to the purpose of your job even though you’ve only been there for two hours and your resume shows that you’ve never worked anywhere longer than two years. But they’re there, and people take it as truth, and you can’t force everyone to recognize a slightly larger, bulkier, and more rectangular tablet is the same thing.

Are all things of this category stupid? Nihilists declare this, and like many I Fucking Love Science people of this post-enlightenment era, say they ‘see the world as it truly is’. They describe things purely in terms of the physical, as all spiritual is just “decoration”, “distraction”, and not the true essence of whatever happens to be the subject matter. And yet on average, they all make similar stylistic choices. They’re likely to wear black, and they probably jack off to professional blondes with breast implants rather than to amateurs or fatties. They probably can’t justify color superiority, and they definitely will lose any argument that amateurs are less biologically sound than pros. So why do they do it? Because I want to Well why do you want to? There is no free will. And if there’s a reason, there’s a reason for that reason, and a whole system behind it. ‘See the world as it truly is’?

What separates decorations and distractions from what something truly is? Is a cake without frosting a cake? Is that cake with frosting the same cake if it had no fruit on top? An unspiced slab of meat was certainly seen as different from its spiced counterpart for the past several centuries, and so did nature. Salt was not a “spice of life”, it was worth its weight in gold to sub-saharan africans and was necessary for thousands of seafarers to survive and for long distance trades to occur. Simply because it is not measurable by computers and mechanical instruments, the difference between a cake with and without frosting is simply a distraction? It is again fair to say that one should not rush to satisfy every impulse of a child or woman, but that does not mean that all decorations are irrelevant. The solution to being betrayed and lied to once is not necessarily to treat all statements as false and all people as traitors.

We never truly start out knowing the essence of anything. This is the definition of learning: only in the end do we understand what we did, not beforehand. It therefore follows that whatever we thought we were doing beforehand was not true – not in the fullest sense, even if our guess was somewhat correct. So why did we go into it? The best answer is that we thought that it would be similar to something else that was meaningful in our past: pick up a book because you were told it was similar to something else you found profound. But this is not related to what it actually is – it’s only what you thought it would be. It showed enough properties at the outset to match your imagination.

Is this not what a decoration is?

Does a kid truly know “a priori” what a cake is, how it feels to chew inside, from just looking at the frosting and fruit? He can smell that the outside is sweet, this he has been informed by instinct, the genetic memory. But inside? How does he know that it’s not a steel block past that fluffy white?

If decorations can be meaningful, if we then unrestrict feelings and emotions from the standardized atheist/nihilist/scientific procedure, then maybe there’s more to the meaning of life than just fucking. Maybe there is something more to love. Maybe it isn’t just social conditioning that men who lose custody of their children choose suicide, and women who never have children end up feeling that something is missing from their lives. Maybe we don’t trust lifelong bachelors or self-declared ladies men or the new PUAs and MGTOWs for more than just because our parents and grandparents always simply looked down on them. Maybe there is a reason for these things that happen, even if we don’t know what it is yet and everything we can say about it doesn’t fit any linear correlation with greater than a 90% certainty.

Culturally we are experienced with doubting things. Knowing what/where to doubt – in this it does not have a clue. And so through either concerted or accidental efforts, the power that be and the rest of mankind have destroyed many of its long-standing institutions, all the ones directly tied to the survival and happiness of a people, both “for the forest” and “for the trees”: racial homogeneity, social hierarchy, cultural standards and etiquette, brotherhoods and fraternities… the family unit. The language more and more indicates that men and women are no longer part/property of their family, or “extended family”, or neighborhood, or city, or province, but of the state. Everyone is a ward of the state, only because it can’t be “everyone is a ward of God” because God is dead. Everything must be done legally and through official channels, everything must be measured in money. If it can be shown through articles or papers published in the newspapers or journals, it’s truth – no one cares what you say to your friend at the bar anymore, and it doesn’t spread anywhere. Only the Viral Videos matter now, and they’re even showing it on broadcast TV so no one is left out of “the” loop. Everyone is equally connected to everyone else now.

If everyone is X, no one is X: It doesn’t matter that this is an unintended consequence, it is a consequence. And if it is known now, then it should not happen again the future, to the best of our ability. Yet again and again it’s news “stories” about a “surprising”, “weird”, or “creepy” event where a “man” or a “woman” does an [action] that doesn’t feel quite right. Obviously they have to take classes in the matter. They need to be taught what’s right.

They don’t.

“You are asking me to define what characteristic makes a difference between pious and nonpious. Do I really NEED to be able to tell you what is to be able to conduct a pious action?
How can you use a word like ‘piety’ without knowing what it means, while pretending to know what it means?
“Do I actually have to be able to tell you in plain barbarian non-Greek English, or in pure Greek, what it means to prove that I know and understand what it means? I don’t know it in words but I know what it is.

“Tell me, old man. Does a child need to define mother’s milk to understand the need to drink it?”
“No, he does not need to.”
“And my dear Socrates, does a dog need to define what an owner is to be loyal to him?”
“A dog has… instinct. It does not reflect on its life. He doesn’t examine his life. We are not dogs.”
“I agree, my dear Socrates, that a dog has instinct and that we are not dogs. But are we humans so fundamentally different as to be completely stripped of instinct leading us to do things we have no clue about? Do we have to limit life to what we can answer in proto-Brooklyn English?”

“Then, my good Socrates, why do you think that we need to fix the meaning of things?”
“My dear Mega-Tony, we need to know what we are talking about when we talk about things. The entire idea of philosophy is to be able to reflect and understand what we are doing, examine our lives. An unexamined life is not worth living.
The problem, my poor old Greek, is that you are killing the things we can know but not express. And if I asked someone riding a bicycle just fine to give me the theory behind his bicycle riding, he would fall from it. By bullying and questioning people you confuse them and hurt them.”

“My dear Socrates… you know why they are putting you to death? It is because you make people feel stupid for blindly following habits, instincts, and traditions. You may be occasionally right. But you may confuse them about things they’ve been doing just fine without getting into trouble. You are destroying people’s illusions about themselves. You are taking the joy out of ignorance out of the things we don’t understand. And you have NO answer; you have NO answer to offer them.

– N. N. Taleb, Antifragile

I can only know by my feelings. I cannot logic my way past the arrow of time.

From my experience, the meaning of life has nothing to do with “independence”. There is nothing so liberating about being “able” to deal with applications and forms with words and regulations I have to look up (imagine if I couldn’t look it up), talking to complete strangers who all have infinitely more experience and knowledge of intricacies than I do. There is nothing so compelling about being alone at night, or being with one other person who spends most of their time watching a TV or playing with their smartphone or some other glowing rectangle. These were advertised in a more spiritual manner as well (a “girlfriend” or “significant other”), but they have not withstood any sort of test of time – i.e. different situations and real experiences. Freedom to use money how I please is fine but not inherently fulfilling. Having a bajillion choices everywhere I go is not particularly interesting.

For me, it is something else.

My friends have always found it hard to motivate me to do homework or apply for jobs or even talk with people if it’s for engineering. If I don’t want to do it, it’s basically impossible; if I do, then there’s no explaining it. Do I want to study rockets? Not really. How about planes? Not in particular. Cars? Cars are cool, but whatever. Then why are you in engineering?  That’s another question entirely, but it’s not like I’m totally disinterested. They often joke that I run real life with a fifteen second lag, asking questions long after everything’s already done and everyone else is already satisfied with the explanation – half the time I open with something that sounds super stupid, but all the time it ends up being a real discussion about something they find important as well. No, I’m not passionate about working on fuselages or combustion cylinders. I don’t care about being assigned to work on this part of the student design project of a wooden plane over some other part. I just want to work something meaningful where my friends are. Something useful to us now, something useful for us in the future, and something useful to others the entire way. Am I more interested in engineering than I am in sociology? I expected it to be, and to some extent I’m right, but at least for me, I can never be passionate about these things.

I am only here now because my parents think its a good idea, and all the people I’ve gotten to know these years are here. If it were not for these guys, why would I bother with anything in particular? Because there are more girls in the bio department? Because the mechanical engineering department has a lot of pictures of engines? I can’t even bring myself to play a game just because it’s pretty, how could I spend half the energy in my waking life on reading books and figuratively kowtowing to random professors’ whims just because of advertisements? Maybe I’m a lesser being, not so evolved, but I have no undying interest in anything except the base animal instincts. I wasn’t born to calculate, I wasn’t born to write, I wasn’t born to think. All this conceptualizing I do, fundamentally, is because for whatever reason my brain happens to feel good while doing it, and because I’ve done it for a long time. Perhaps if I had been working in car shops since I was in middle school I’d be more interested in my major. But as it stands, I am simply not as good as their posterboys and postergirls. Even if I was, I wouldn’t care.

Suppose that my blog was huge and popular or otherwise had something important tied to it somehow, and people started talking about it. Supporters would say something along the lines of how I’m so passionate about whatever names my ideas will have, how I’ve spent however much time and how each post takes however much experience or energy and is tied to blah blah blah. He’d have to be passionate right? He’s been writing so much and it’s so intricately constructed. Or something along those lines; everything leads back to passion. How do I know this, because it’s exactly how everyone of every profession is described today when the media catches them. It’s all about “passion”.

And then what happens when you actually talk with them? When you talk with those who aren’t just for the show, they actually have things to say that aren’t just listing out their accomplishments, tragedies, and life lessons learned. In fact, they won’t talk about those things at all unless it strictly relates to a point they’re trying to make inside normal interesting conversation. Perhaps I am wrong about this, perhaps I am simply deprived of a gift from God, but passion [looks to be] something which only occurs in instances and specific events. Was Andrew Wiles passionate for the entire duration it took him to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem? Did he sit at his desk 16 hours a day 7 days a week for 7 years, adrenaline pumping, racking through numbers and formulas hitting it every step of the way? Of course not. He took his park walks silently, wandering and thinking, and he did this more than one time. Do the “busy” HR departments do the same thing with applications? Are they truly passionate about interacting with other people and doing what’s best for them? Does anything you know about white collar environments tell you that this is the truth? The passion is part of the advertisement, and the thing itself can’t be the advertisement.

I don’t do things because things are interesting. They can be fun for a short while, anywhere from solo playing a FPS to drawing a picture to writing lines of code. Even when they’re boring you’ll still get moments of excitement every once in a while from a major breakthrough in mechanical skill. But all activities get boring when you don’t talk to anyone about them. If there is no one around and no one with you, everything inevitably gets dreary.

I do things because the people I know are interested in them. I happened to know a lot of people who were interested in “Math and Science”, and my dad happened to be a Mechanical Engineer when he went to college. Clearly the route I have taken with many other people I know is different, because this blog is not about STEM in the least. It so happens that I no longer know people who are both connected and interested in the industry (and willing to connect me to it) while simultaneously getting rectum fucked by the system, so my interest is no longer as strong.

Weak willed? Sure, I don’t particularly mind. What matters is if it’s true. I believe there’s a reason to why so many successful people always thank and are grateful to those closest to them, even when those people did nothing strictly related to the achievement being awarded.

In the 70’s the American Army did a scientific study on soldier psychology. They researched stress levels when fighting aliens and the effectiveness of certain motivations in new recruits by comparing psychological evaluations of soldiers during the two world wars and the early BETA conflicts. They found and interviewed retired veterans from every corner of the globe.

They found some interesting results in the part of the survey asking why front-line soldiers fought.

What were they?

What do you think the most common reason was?

Well, the obvious answer would be… for the sake of humanity or the Earth – And in the older wars, for the sake of their country I guess…

Wrong. That’s the reason given by soldiers who’ve yet to be sent out or are on their way to the battlefield. Some keep thinking that way even on the battlefield. But it seems that the more unfamiliar they were with real warfare, the more likely they were to give idealistic, political answers, or what their education told them. The families of those being sent out probably want to hear reasons like that in order to help them accept the painful truth.

Then… was the correct answer fighting for their relatives or loved ones?

Unfortunately, no, that’s also one most common before reaching the front lines. It also seems to be the real motivation for many of those being sent out.

In the end, the most common reason was… they fought for their comrades. Surprisingly, whether they were fighting humans or BETA didn’t change this result.

For their comrades…?

They didn’t want to let their comrades-in-arms die after living through battles with them. …that’s why they fought so hard. Far below in second place, was the fear of being killed by the enemy. That was why the retreating German Army resisted so fiercely near the end of the German-Soviet war, for instance. The fear of what would happen if the Soviet Army took them prisoner was enough to reinvigorate the German Army, whose equipment and morale were in ruins.

What about you, Captain? What do you fight for?

Me? …good question…

I think… I fight for my comrades too. I want everyone I’ve fought alongside to live at least a little longer. Not that I don’t want Alternative IV to succeed or humanity to win the war. If I’m ordered to infiltrate a hive, I’ll obey, even if I have no chance of survival. But, once I’m inside, it would be difficult to fight to the end for that reason alone.

Maybe because I’d start to want something more concrete to fight for…

Maybe because I’d start wanting a reason to believe my death would not be in vain…

– Capt. Isumi to 2nd Lt. Shirogane, Muv-Luv Alternative

The meaning of life has something to do with friends and family.

Our desire for home cannot truly be satisfied unless we have the people who we choose correctly and the people who are blessed to us by destiny.




Halation Intermissions 3 – A Hand Against The Sun

Deus Ex Machina.

“God From Machine”: the worst possible  literary device a writer can employ. A phrase referring to events which could not possibly be predicted beforehand, viewed as the Author exercising his powers to manipulate the story to his pleasing in an ungraceful manner. In any story, the audience should be able to see events coming: at any crisis or opportunity, the characters and world should only act in a certain probabilistic manner, one which correlates to the audience’s understanding of the trend of the world beforehand. If the Creator writes such that events seem to be predestined, the audience is not likely to be interested. If, instead, the Creator writes such that possibilities have great variation, or such that what he makes reality is not what he appeared to heading towards, then the audience will be outraged. “How were we supposed to see this coming?”, is the sentiment; “This was never mentioned”, it is said. It is true that the nature of Acts of God means that there were no visible signs beforehand.

Is it therefore also true that because it was not predicted, it should not appear?

If it should not appear, does that mean it will not appear?

Isn’t it interesting that for every story, at any given point in time, the characters the audience are familiar with always have enough information or time to respond to the situation? How are they always in these kinds of situations? Those of wealthy and connected backgrounds can explain it away by saying that their organization or group has hands in every pocket and ears in every room, but what of the commoners? How do they always happen to hear, see, or remember a most useful thing at the exact time and place? What sort of rituals do they perform to have Fortuna’s favor in such a consistent manner? We assume, no, demand that this is true for fictional worlds. That every outcome of the important type will, due to perfect information, be a 100% direct result of a character’s morality, intelligence, and action. Any act which breaks this holy promise from audience to character is blasphemy.

But there is no such promise from God to the World. Indeed, there is no difference between them: the characters do not exist independent of “the events” which appear to constitute the story. Their every action, reaction, their tendencies and emotions, history and memory – all of these were dictated to them. They are puppets in a show, pieces on a board. They move and do as the Creator pleases. If the Creator wills them to die, they will die. Perhaps the lack of an intricate method of death removes the possibility of the Creator being a benevolent one. If the Creator desires an event to occur, it will occur. Maybe the character will “respond” in a manner which is “statistically significant”. This may make the Creator appear whimsical, or malevolent. No matter. The character’s and audience’s opinions are not really relevant, not in terms of truth. Their expectations of what should be in a Creator does not mean that it is there. This is true in the worlds we create, and the world we were created in:

We are not guaranteed grounds sufficient for divine judgement.

__________________

“Oh yeah, let’s just introduce another fudge factor.”

In [the college of] engineering, we learned plenty of formulas in lower division. Indeed, calculus and physics seemed to mesh together in the sense that one taught how formulas could interact with each other, and the other taught us what were the actual formulas which described the world. Heading into upper division, however, the balance of information shifted. It was acceptable to most that there were certain universal constants that happened to be there (ex: g, R), and the annoyance of conversions between metric and imperial was probably only something Americans had to deal with, but once the modified formulas and tables were introduced into regular usage, views dimmed. Where once it was expected that all necessary information was given by the problem (save for those constants and annoyances), now it’s a given that you had to look up values yourself. Some have justified this to themselves by saying this is what real engineers do, nobody will so conveniently give the values you happen to need to you, but they’re not too happy about it. The big tests were once always about whether they “understood” the formula and could recognize that the situation called for certain combinations in certain orders; minor errors were “whatever, I’ll get most of the points”. Now, the accident of an incorrect sign here and the wrong value read off of the table of a thousand values there costs the grade.

But the greatest intellectual concern is the modified formulas. In quantum physics, we learned what the “cutting edge” of science really meant – the jamming in of arbitrary combinations of constants and mathematical forms until it fit the data. In thermodynamics the great ideal gas equation was struck down, replaced with modified versions, citing that we need “more accurate” models of how gasses work. At that point, it didn’t really matter that the reasons behind the new models included the attraction of gas molecules and the fact that they take up space. “More accurate”? That’s equivalent to saying that the previous model was at worst a lie and at best a toy, something for us to play with until we grew up and truly were capable of seeing how the world worked. If it’s truth, we should be able to see all the factors beforehand and make the model off of that. And above all, we should be using a model.

Why is it suddenly accepted that solving with a formula and givens is equivalent to just using some table?

__________________

About this “love at first sight” thing… it happened in Aoyama on May 22nd, didn’t it, Misa?
Yes. (was crying)
Why did you go to Aoyama on that day? What did you wear?
I told you, I just happened to go there. How many times have I told you? I don’t really remember how I felt that day or what I wore! Is it so wrong for me to be hanging out in Aoyama without a reason? (defiant)
So when you came back from Aoyama, you were in love with Light and knew his name.
Yes.
You don’t even know how you knew his name.
Yes, that’s right. (increasingly defiant)
Then, how would you feel if Light was Kira?
Huh? If Light was Kira?
That’s right.
That would be wonderful~! I’ve always been grateful to Kira for punishing the man who murdered my parents. If Light were Kira, I’d love him more… though I love him so much already!
We’re talking about Kira here. You’d love him even more? Don’t you feel afraid at all?
That’s supposing if Light is Kira, right? He’s not scary at all. I’m one of those people who accept Kira. I’d think of ways I could help him.
You’d probably get in his way rather than help him… according to this, there’s no mistake that you are the Second Kira, but it’s so clear-cut that I don’t want to believe it.

– L to Amane Misa, Death Note

__________________

I got hit by a car.

That is correct English, I think. The car was in the wrong, therefore “I got hit”.

A car turned right into me. Turned right, into me. I was thinking about how I was about to get run over when I saw a black plane angling into my line of motion, and was facing the sky when my brain returned to my eyes. A couple of bystanders helped me get up and sit to the side, and the driver got out. Five things were deformed: my saddle, my left brake, my rear wheel, my glasses, and her passenger mirror. I had apparently sheared it off. She apologized, and said she’d do what she could for me. I asked for her name and phone number. We parted ways.

After telling a friend about what happened, he recommended that I file a police report. I better do it before she does it and claims I was at fault, and soon so I can get the CCTV footage from the stores nearby. My dad gave a similar recommendation, though he was more focused on how I lacked all the “most basic” information: drivers license, license plate, insurance information. How could I track her if I only had a cell phone number and a first name? Cell phones mean nothing these days, drop one and pick up another like it’s change on the sidewalk. Other friends suggested I start a case on this, pointing that it’s not only negligence but also a hate crime. She also took up my time, didn’t she? Job searching, training, the race I was planning on going to that weekend, study time – this stuff can be valued at least at the minimum unemployed wage. Extort, extort, extort! was the theme. You can’t trust people in this world. You have to take precautions. And at this point, your best option is to screw her for all she’s got. You missed your best chance – “I went from 15mph to 0 in 1 second, do you really expect me to be thinking straight?” – but do everything you can.

But when I called the number, she picked up. Every time I called, she picked up. She gave more information, as I asked for it. The next day, I told her an estimate of the total damages – not taking into account repair costs, since I knew how to fix it and I had free access to the necessary tools. She wanted to keep this off the record, and I said it was fine as long as I get what’s reasonable. Then, the next week, she paid it. When we met, outside of not being able to form a tight fist with my right hand (middle knuckle), all other visible body evidence had healed.

Everyone seemed half-disappointed, but also half-relieved.

__________________

This is called the Baconian linear model, after the philosopher of science Francis Bacon; I am adapting its representation by the scientist Terence Kealey (who, crucially, as a biochemist, is a practicing scientist, not a historian of science) as follows:

Academia -> Applied Science and Technology -> Practice

While this model may be valid in some very narrow (but highly advertised instances), such as building the atomic bomb, the exact reverse seems to be true in most of the domains I’ve examined. Or, at least, this model is not guaranteed to be true, and, what is shocking, we have no rigorous evidence that it is true. It may be that academia helps science and technology, which in turn help practice, but in unintended, non-teleological ways, as we will see later (in other words, it is directed research that may well be an illusion).

Let us return to the metaphor of the birds. Think of the following event: A collection of hieratic persons (from Harvard or some such place) lecture birds on how to fly. Imagine bald males in their sixties, dressed in black robes, officiating in a form of English that is full of jargon, with equations here and there for good measure. The bird flies. Wonderful confirmation! They rush to the department of ornithology to write books, articles, and reports saying that the bird has obeyed them, an impeccable causal reference. The Harvard Department of Ornithology is now indispensable for bird flying. It will get government research funds for its contribution.

Mathematics -> Ornithological navigation and wing-flapping technologies -> (ungrateful) birds fly

It also happens that birds write no such paper and books, conceivably because they are just birds, so we never get their side of the story. Meanwhile, the priests keep broadcasting theirs to the new generation of humans who are completely unaware of the conditions of the pre-Harvard lecturing days. Nobody discusses the possibility of the birds’ not needing lectures – and nobody has any incentive to look at the number of birds that fly without such help from the great scientific establishment.

The problem is that what I wrote above looks ridiculous, but a change of domain makes it look reasonable. Clearly, we never think that it is thanks to ornithologists that birds learn to fly – and if some people do hold such a belief, it would be hard for them to convince the birds. But why is it that when we anthropomorphize and replace “birds” with “men,” the idea that people learn to do things thanks to lectures becomes plausible? When it comes to human agency, matters suddenly become confusing to us.

Antifragile

__________________

“Yeah, I thought it was simple too. What did you do?”

“Well, it asked for yield stress at that point, which has a formula we all know already. The only thing different from the things we’ve seen before is that this time, he added a weight of the tank or capsule on top. So obviously, yield pressure is just the normal thing from internal pressure plus the pressure created by the weight, which is weight divided by the area.”

“That’s what I did, but he said it was wrong.”

“And how is that?”

“If you draw a force diagram of everything above the point, you’ll note that there are two forces: there’s the internal pressure pushing up, and the weight pushing down. So while there is a second term, it’s not as simple as weight divided by area. It’s integral of internal pressure pushing up on that hemisphere minus that weight.”

“Interesting. I guess that’s reasonable too.

__________________

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you understand. It doesn’t matter if you were there at the right time and the right place, that you chose using dice, that you chose having access to all of the world’s collected information and had no disturbances with all needs provided for and half a decade’s time, that you wanted the other guy to die, that you were going to your wife giving birth, that you were drunk, that you had so many other things planned. It doesn’t, in the strictest sense, and thus the most true sense, matter whether you are able to articulate your ideas to some arbitrary level of clarity or to some arbitrary group of people, or whether you’re able to use language at all.

It only matters whether you win.

__________________

Personally, I believe the most important thing in life is being able to take advantage of an opportunity whenever it may come. If one manages that, one can bring about positive results through later effort. However, effort alone is not guaranteed to bring about such opportunities. Those opportunities will not wait for people to be ready. If you want to accomplish something… there will be times when you must make decisions, whether or not you are prepared for them.

-Tsukuyomi Mana, Muv-Luv

They let me pick, did I ever tell you that? Choose whichever Spartan I wanted. You know me. I did my research. Watched as you became the soldier we needed you to be. Like the others, you were strong and swift and brave. A natural leader. But you had something they didn’t. Something no one saw… but me. Can you guess?

Luck.

-Cortana, Halo 3

Halation Intermissions 2 – In the Name of The Name

“I’ll take over.”

The turn passed, and I crawled in front of my teammate. I’m not sure if he actually felt relieved back there, but we had done this several times now and around here was where we did a switch. Gradually, though, it felt like we were slowing down. I had maintained a constant 22, then 22 turned into 21, and 20 was now slipping away. I took the first turn wide, then the second turn close, and here was where he took over.

“We’re about to get killed.”

I slowed, and motioned for him to go on alone. 19, 18, 17, 18, 19. As he crawled ahead, it seemed like I was crawling backwards, and the only indication this notion was not true was that I still saw his rear end, and not the maw of the monster behind me. Perhaps I should not have looked back, should not have reminded myself of how far behind I was. Then I may have been able to summon more strength to push back to 22. But mistakes are mistakes, and less virtue means more subject to fortune. This time, the roll was not in my favor. Another left, another right, but this time both were close.

Crawling, crawling. Then, a figure in the distance. First, it was just there. Then, as I got closer, I see that my teammate had stopped, and the figure had a line extending from it, pointing to the left. I slowed, and stopped behind my teammate.

The monster roared past.

__________________

Don’t do anything stupid.

And have fun, this is _________! They had given us warning upon warning of things not to do. Much of it was common sense, some of it was not, but it was fairly standard, “standard” like contracts and newspapers and professors and instructions – overly comprehensive, yet almost intentionally vague. But it was fine, none of the cautions were particularly different from my natural tendencies – even if I was not thinking, I would not do it. In the end, that’s what the goal of learning/teaching is, no? Instinctual correctness? So long as the goal is achieved, it matters not what methods were used to get there. What does it matter that they’re saying stupid things, like coffee cups that come with “CAUTION: HOT”? They’re just covering their ass. This is the kind of culture we live in.

Obviously it’s everywhere but in the people I have relations with, right?

They said we’d all ride as a group, but you’d better have some buddies in case you get mechanical failures or flats. The group may wait for you the first time, but no one is going to wait for you after that. Riding alone is not suggested, and it is also good to have a friend to figure out directions.

In the first minute, someone had a mechanical failure. Two people turned around, the rest of the 60+ kept going. In the next five, another one had a flat. One person waited with him, the rest of the 60+ kept going. On the first hill, eight people were dropped, I was one of the eight. We stuck together for the rest of the day: One of us got a flat and half of us stayed behind while the rest waited somewhere up ahead, one of us lost a chain and two of us stayed with him, while the rest of us pushed on back to get a vehicle to circle back and transport him. Was this because we had paid attention to the teachers’ holy instructions? Were these benevolent, unplanned occurrences due to the great teachings of the instructors? I cannot say what happened with everyone else, but judging from the fact that I cannot say what happened, and from the fact that everyone else came back in groups of one or two, our group was not common.

In the dining commons were the general conversations and pleasantries. It was not yet dinnertime, but where else would you wait? Everyone else will get back eventually. They’ll all be fine. The final round-up car will go and pick them up. They’ll get back before dark. Everything will be fine. Someone will do something about it.

Because our team is the greatest.

The coaches didn’t eat with us on any of the six served meals.

__________________

Perhaps I should’ve followed the training plan more?

I was close enough to see everyone else climb to the peak and then disappear behind it, but could not do it myself. It was as if the hill decided to change its steepness when I got there, and rather than fall off backwards I “fell off” manually and walked. The group of eight completely formed at the first time at the summit. Not one of us was a coach. A couple of us had mechanical skills, a different couple of us had a few medical skills, and the rest of us knew nothing. We began the first descent. The first thirty seconds or so was relatively tame. A sudden change in steepness. Was because I had not braked earlier? Where we come from, there are no hills. I called out, and passed someone on their right side. She told me later that this was a big Don’t. At the time there was nothing I knew I could do: I had never ridden on such gravel-filled roads at such speeds. My understanding and skill informed me that anything other than the maneuver I attempted would have resulted in a crash. I was going at 24.

The road straightened out and changed in steepness again. The gravel prevalence lessened, in a 1:1 exchange for three-inch deep potholes a foot wide. Lighting went from bright morning to intermittent,s omeone decided to grow trees on either side of this road. I chose straight down the middle, and held on. What holes came, came. I made no turns. I had no experience in dealing with this amount of potholes, and the general poor quality of the road took all my concentration and strength into simply not falling off. The teammate in front of me was going slower than I was, and I called out that I was going to be passing her on the left. As if in response, she dropped a pink cylinder – it thankfully passed me without incident. The descent passed, I checked my equipment, all was in acceptable ranges.

I later learned that how fast one descends is dependent on how far ahead you can see and how quick your reaction time is – along with, of course, methods of dealing with it. Riding a line which goes around all the holes is one thing, but it’s also possible to “bunny hop” over them. But at that moment I knew nothing. The fastest I had ever gone was 29.8. Flat, 100% visibility, straight road for at least a thousand feet. I pedaled my way from zero.

This descent read 38.6.

__________________

We were told that volunteering for three spots is required.

Last year, I did four. This year, I did four. It is not because I am particularly inclined, but because it was said that having every position manned was of utmost importance – if the person who is supposed to take your position at so and so time is late, you must hold until they show up. I perhaps may have even done five this year, but five hours without going to the restroom is fairly difficult, and I relieved myself after four and simply left the spot with all the equipment given to me. I had done my mandatory “volunteer” work, after all. Even if I were to get on this blacklist/bad terms they speak of, surely the guy who didn’t show up at all would be in bigger trouble. I watched a couple of races as my friend was doing his shifts at another position, and read a book while the group was on the other side of the course or otherwise out of sight.

On having tired my eyes of reading, I find one of my friends enjoying a well-made sandwhich. As the bread was not soggy, I asked him if he went out and bought it recently. He then told me that there was free food – that there was a designated lunch runner, to get food for all the volunteers. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise, right? It’s fairly difficult to do a shift that isn’t back to back to back, and standing out there somewhere for three hours while not really doing anything but watching for people who cross into the race – you deserve some food. Obviously, this happened every year. Obviously also, all the food was gone by now. I ask a couple of people in charge, and they all said it was the “course marshall” who had the duty of informing and delivering food to the volunteers currently on the course. The coaches and team leaders did not mention this at the race overview, it was a pleasant surprise. A missed opportunity. Surely they had bought enough for everyone, because there was a timesheet and we had to sign up to make sure spots were filled. It’s reasonable to simply take food before it spoils if it isn’t claimed after a certain time. They had one for me both years, I’m sure.

All volunteers were given walkie-talkies to report in incidents on the course.

__________________

“This team really doesn’t really teach its newbies well. I mean, it’s great and all, and we have great riders, but when [lists some names], and [somebody else] graduates, we’re going to be in a rut. It knows how to attract talent, and that’s about it. Back in [where she came from], we had regimented schedules. People were split up by skill, each person was analyzed, and there were team leaders for each differing skill group. There were maps, cue sheets, the whole kit. One weekend every month we’d do double centuries. Here we have the [something we do once a week], but it’s everybody, it’s messy, nobody’s really watching the newcomers or teaching them anything, and that’s the only thing we have. The rest is all done on your own. It’s great for all of those who know what they’re doing and know what they need, because they self-organize anyways, but for everyone else? They’re hung out to dry.”

“You know what this team is? Trick question, there is no team. They can claim again and again all the time that this is the greatest in the nation, that this team is this city’s greatest secret, but there is no fucking team. It’s a small group of people at the top, who are actually good at [certain kinds of competitive events], and they get all the coaches’ time, and the rest of us are just sitting around doing our homework for other classes and playing card games. That’s what you see every time you’re in here. And where does our money go? Our [amount of money] every year? I could be buying a [something expensive] every year if not for this crap. That money doesn’t go to me – [head coach] can say it goes to me all he wants, but it goes to all the talented people. They don’t train us. We’re told to go and talk to walls to practice our own things, and our large group coaches clearly don’t give a flying fuck. The people who have performed better get individual time, and they get immensely better. It’s a great organization scheme, I’ll admit that openly. Gathering a bunch of high-schoolers under the pretense that being part of this will get them into college, take their money, and use that to fund a handful and get them into really good colleges. Do you actually think we’re all going to Ivy leagues? No, only [certain names] are going to get in. Because they did well in the big events, and that in turn is because they got money. Not even their money, but our money. And then at the end, what happens? They’ll claim that they only got to wherever they’re going because this was a big family. We’re the largest team in the nation! Which other school can brag that it sends this many competitors? But no. It’s just for the show. It’s all a show. We’re not competitors. We’re unwitting sponsors.”

__________________

“I need every rider to put one foot on the ground, so you all start equally […] Riders ready.”

A whistle blew. Someone yells, “Attack”. The group spreads out quickly. In the group rides we’d always do, it was a tight pack and one which moved methodically – I did not know how to use this experience to aid me in this race which had riders spread out so far and each with their own jerky movements. Perhaps there was a general draft, but nothing solid. I followed under my own power. The group single-files on the first turn, and from there it is more difficult. After doing that turn one more time, I fall from the group. I had looked at my speed and my heartrate, and slowed down enough so that what little draft there was soon moved out of my reach. The other riders were simply fitter and faster. 27.8? Am I supposed to be able to keep that at a constant?

A coach came up afterwards and said we were doing fine for our first race. We were lapped at 14 minutes to go (a 50 minute race), but he gave us a lot of tips. You can make up a lot of fitness ground while drafting, don’t brake on that corner, be in the front, be more comfortable and more agile on your bike, and you’ll be able to finish. I had originally gotten into this sport because winning seemed amazing. I wanted to learn how to win.

This coach had already mistaken me for someone doing something else twice.

__________________

I got sick.

I slept for 20 hours.

It feels good.