Friday Notes (Jun 25, 2021)

It’s time for another edition of Friday Notes, my chance to whittle away a bit more at my collection of half-baked notions and blog post ideas. I recently noticed yet another notebook I’d forgotten about, so the pile actually got bigger this week rather than smaller. I’m starting to feel like Sisyphus.

The real problem is that, when you come down to it, it’s hopeless. I’m always going to be coming up with more ideas than I can write about, so the pile is always going to grow. What I need is the AI technology to clone my brain so I could delegate and distribute. Write in parallel!

But for now, all I can do is whittle away.

Starting with the real world immediately around me…


Minnesota in June is Crazy! Climate change is making it all the more so. This month I’ve been sorely tempted to resort to both the A/C and the furnace. It’s very confusing, and yet exciting.

Fall and spring are my favorite months (especially fall) in large part because I can have my windows open.  (In my house. I always have windows open on my computers.) I was determined to keep them open (my house windows), so it was fans to fight the heat and sweaters for the chill.

I love it, though. The excitement of living on the 45th parallel (let alone the added excitement of climate change). For us everything depends on which way the jet stream wiggles. If it bends north, it sucks warm wet air up from the Gulf of Mexico; if it wanders south, we get dry refrigerator air from Canada.

When it’s in the Goldilocks Zone, the weather is wonderful here, and being outside is a joy.

We’ve had some rain lately, so everything is really green. Those trees above are the same crab apple trees that had such pretty white and lavender flowers just last month. (See: Friday Notes for May 28) No hint of the flowers remains.

One of the many things I’m thankful for is the condo I bought (after considerable searching for some place that didn’t immediately depress me). I’m in a green forest-y little suburb off to the side of the Twin Cities, so I have great places to walk and some truly lovely local parks. (See: Scenes From a Walk)

Even the view out my bedroom window isn’t bad:

Although I’ve cropped it to not show the unit of condos that actually less than a stone’s throw away. That unit starts just to the left of frame (note the planter box on left edge). When I look out my window, I try to mentally do the same cropping.


Recently I posted about The Mitches vs the Machines, an animation from Sony Animation Studios. In the post I mentioned that their oeuvre has a lot of duds in it, one of which is the Angry Birds Movie 2.

Note that they didn’t do the first one, only the sequel. Which maybe right there kinda says something?

The Angry Birds computer game is one thing. I don’t get the appeal, but whatever. I’m a little hooked (at least for the moment) on that 2048 game, so I can’t point fingers.

The Angry Birds Movie takes it to another level. I’ve commented before about how many of our movies are based on toys, games, and amusement park rides.

But an Angry Birds Movie 2… this is what we’ve become?

In fact, whoa, it’s a franchise!


A quick note about the idea from a recent post about how earlier stages of the universe can’t contain enough information to specify everything about the current state. (See: Is Reality Determined?)

I plan to return to the idea, because I think it has some substance. In part I want to discuss a very interesting Quanta article from April of last year.

Plus, I recently read The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine, a text by Scott Aaronson, and it ties into this in a big way, so there’s even more to discuss. In this paper, Aaronson attempts to ground free will in physics, specifically in something he calls freebits. It’s a very interesting approach!

The notion that the universe generates new information as it evolves doesn’t seem controversial to me, but the idea that it might also destroy information is. I think that axiom needs re-examination. It’s based on unitarity in quantum mechanics, but is unitarity the end-all and be-all?

If information can be created, why not destroyed?


A related physics topic: I didn’t realize it wasn’t a common view that emergence and reduction are each other’s opposite. I’ve taken that as a given, but I’ve learned that not everyone has connected those two dots.

Emergence is essentially the notion that different levels of organization of a given system have unique properties that only appear at that level, but here the focus is on how lower levels combine and act to create new properties. (See: What Emerges?)

Reduction is also essentially the notion that different levels of organization of a given system have unique properties, but in this case the focus is on deconstructing levels into their component parts. (See: Irreducible Concepts)

Which means emergence is “uphill” compared to reduction. It’s relatively easy to reduce a puppy all the way down to quarks and electrons, but extremely challenging to start with those sub-atomic particles and, from only the principles that apply to those, deduce a puppy.

Note that a problem with reduction can be that it only sees the trees, not a forest.


Regarding what, since last December, I’m calling Fantasy Bullshit (FBS)

In retrospect it’s not a little ironic that I posted about how I was done with FBS on January 5th (see: What About 2021?). The very next day, of course, was January 6th, a day I think will live in infamy in our future history books. (Parts of that day’s post, and a trail of comments on it document the day.)

Two days later I posted Our Fertile Imagination, which scratches the surface of our obsession with various forms of modern fantasy, whether it be astrology, superheroes, or theoretical physics.

I didn’t get into in that post, but it’s occurred to me that theoretical physics FBS might be a small part of what drives the growing disdain and disregard for science. When theorists are off dreaming up crazy fantasy bullshit that can’t be proved or disproved, it’s hard for a lot of people to take them seriously.

It’s somewhat like how Nixon and Watergate crashed our faith in government.


Long before I was into computer software I was into electronics hardware. I mostly stuck on the binary side of things, but sometimes dabbled in analog circuits. (High frequency RF is black magic, and I stayed away from that.)

Back in college, dedicated to the 1970s ethics of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, we smoked a lot of weed. While doing that we also drank, played good music, and played cards.

The problem with the cards was forgetting whose turn it was.

The main driver circuit. There is just one of these.

So I came up with a little circuit I called Turn Minder to help out.

Player circuit. There is one of these for each player. Note how they can be chained so a system can be set for as many players as needed.

Unfortunately, being a starving college student (well, not starving, as such, but certainly being a really poor college student), I couldn’t afford to build it.

I’m tempted to build it now just to see if it works, but I gave away most of my electronics hobby stuff years ago. I’m not sure I even still have a soldering iron.


OC Bottle Caps got a lot of hits recently. Rereading it reminded me of a favorite video about Tom Scott’s gray hoodie. (No, not the recent color one. The one about burning a beloved one. I think that’s a great video!) These days I’m confronting the need to get rid of a lot of prized possessions because they won’t mean anything to anyone once I exit stage left.

Which might not be all that long from now. The end is certainly a lot closer than the beginning. (I really need to get around to making out a will.)

I’ve already gone through several rounds of tossing. Now I’m down to those treasures I’ve been hoarding for decades — mementos that, in my mind, define and represent me. Stuff that’s hard to just toss, because it’s like throwing away parts of myself.

But whoever ends up cleaning up after me will just trashcan it anyway, and without any regard for its meaning, so I should be the one to dispose of it. I may trashcan it too, but at least I’ll do it with some regard.


Speaking of old posts suddenly getting a lot of hits (although this post is a bit more recent), my post Physical vs Abstract, the last of a three-part of a series I did about computer models, got a bunch of hits last week.

All from India over a period of a few days.

That sort of thing can mean spammers or scammers of some stripe, but unfortunately I mindlessly clear my Spam folder without paying much attention to which posts they’re targeting. I have no way to see if the hits and spam correlates.

Maybe someone just found the post interesting, but then one would think they’d check out the first two posts in the series (see:  Magnitudes vs Numbers and Real vs Simulated).

§ §

Some significant anniversaries are coming up. July 4th marks the Ten Year Anniversary of this blog, and June 28th is the Eight Year Anniversary of my retiring. (The end of June also marks what would have been my mom’s 92nd birthday.)

As I’ve mentioned before, July 4th is also the anniversary of my favorite uncle’s death, which is the earliest of these July 4th events. The other one I’ve mentioned, of course, is my wedding anniversary; this year would have marked 23 years. Instead I’ve been divorced for 19. (Yeah, it still rankles a bit.)

Stay noticed, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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