Friday Notes (Jun 10, 2022)

I’m really enjoying summer so far. Temperatures have mostly been moderate and the nights deliciously cool (“great sleeping weather” as they say). After a long winter, it’s wonderful to have open windows again and the ability to just walk out the door without gearing up in winter gear.

But my least favorite day of the year approaches. Summer Solstice — the death of the light. Thermal inertia makes July and August uncomfortably warm, but, alas, the days get shorter and shorter.

Meanwhile, here in June, it’s time for another edition of Friday Notes.

The first of which is that this might be the last edition of the series, at least for a while. The main reason is that I’ve pretty much gone through the pile of tiny thoughts I don’t think warrant a full post (or even a Brain Bubble). The secondary reason is that I’m a bit fed up with WordPress and I’ve been questioning the value long-form blogging. I find it harder and harder to be interested in making the effort given the low returns on the investment.

Summer Solstice is less than two weeks away (man, spring went quickly), and less than two weeks after that it’ll be this blog’s 11-year anniversary. (In between those, I’ll celebrate 9 years of retirement.) Bottom line, I’m thinking it’s time to change things up, but I’m not sure which direction to go.

It’s something I’m pondering.

§

Part of the problem is that I’m really tired of false Followers and Likers — those who apparently have no actual interest in this blog but are promoting theirs. I can’t do anything about the false Likes, but I routinely remove Followers promoting blogs that sell things. I also remove Followers who never introduce themselves and never make another appearance after the Follow — no comments, no Likes. My posts get few enough page hits that I’m pretty sure they are not lurking silently.

Not that I care much about the Likes. I’d disable the capability, but it would only apply to those seeing the blog on its website. The loathsome WordPress Reader does an end run around that setting — just one more reason to despise it.

It’s the falsity of it all that gets to me. Humans are such a deceitful bunch of liars. I am so sick of the constant bombardment of robo-calls, junk mail, spammers, and other fakers and liars. I don’t know why we put up with it.

§

The other thing is that, as I mentioned in the last edition of this series, very much to my astonishment, I have a YouTube video that’s gone mildly viral. This one:

I say “mildly” because the 60,000 views it’s gotten so far are a drop in a bucket compared to the millions of views popular channels get in a day when they release a new video.

But in my little corner of reality, 60K views is mind-blowing. In the entire almost eleven-year history of this blog, the home page has only gotten 31K views, and my most popular post, over a period of almost seven years, only 8K.

I long ago resigned myself to being an outlier in almost everything, but I’m starting to think I should have been a YouTuber. That simple little video has a (to me) jaw-dropping 2,068 Likes and 234 comments. Nothing I’ve ever written comes anywhere close. And, unlike my posts, it seems to have led to some engagement with other videos I’ve done.

So why am I doing this? The main idea was leaving something behind, and possibly educating people, but kinda been there done that on the former and there has mostly been a deafening silence on the latter.

§

Obviously, it’s me, but I am what I am, so what the hell. Onward and… onward, I guess. Whatever.

§ §

Dogs are said to be perpetual infants because they are so domesticated. (The counter example is working dogs, which are grown up dogs, but I often wonder if they’re lonely and feel unloved.)

I’ve mentioned the infantilization of modern culture, especially with regard to entertainment, and it has occurred to me it may be due to something similar: over domestication, being so spoiled, and, as they say, amusing ourselves to (brain) death.

I also wonder if the rampant post-modern deconstruction and secularism hasn’t damaged us. We’ve killed myth and legend that used to ground us (and replaced them with comic books and shallow science fiction). Has that undermined our social foundations? Have we lost track of who we are and what truly matters?

§

Is it just me or has Google search gone downhill in the last whatever years? Seems like a search used to return better results, but lately there’s been too much utter garbage, and I’ve sometimes had a hard time finding useful information.

Has the flotsam and jetsam of the internet finally overwhelmed the ability to find things? Is it just not possible to effectively index and catalog such a vast ocean of content?

§

We used to think our kids, because of computers and the internet, would be so much smarter than our generation, maybe even scary smarter. But does that really seem to have happened? No doubt they’re really good at video games and social media, but if comments I see (mostly on YouTube, but also in other social media) are any judge, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Perhaps the sheer volume of content has proven too much for them, too. It seems to have given us a background of noisy content that makes it hard for any one thing to stand out.

§

Do we want the stars or just to be another answer to the Fermi Paradox? I don’t fear alien visitors in large part because any species that can accomplish space travel is probably pretty grown up. And I really do think genuine intelligence correlates with moral, or at least ethical, behavior.

(Yeah, my raging misanthropy has never been more raging. Sorry, but not really.)

§ §

Signs of a bullshitter:

  1. Doesn’t answer direct questions or acknowledge errors.
  2. Doesn’t provide concrete examples.
  3. Opaque and overly technical language (often misused).
  4. Irrelevant tangents to deflect questions.

Trying to talk to some people is such a waste of time.

§ §

Things to research:

Whatever happened with self-driving cars? They used to be all the rage, everyone was either promoting them or worried about them. I haven’t heard anything recently, though. I’ve long been curious about how large numbers of them might interact — would their lidar systems interfere with each other? (I understand Teslas are entirely vision-based so signals from other vehicles wouldn’t be a concern.)

Whatever happened with 3DTV? I assume it went the way 3D media always goes — a shiny idea that never works out (because it’s a dumb gimmick). Are 3D movies still a thing? (I haven’t been to a movie theater in many years.)

Whatever happened to “everyone is going to Mars”? Did the sheer silliness of that finally sink in? Or was it just a fad that grabbed everyone’s attention for a while, but then got old? (“Space is the place!” But is it really?)

Are rental scooters still a thing? They were a divisive issue for a while. Who won?

(While it’s true that completely ignoring the news puts me a bit out of touch, it also makes me a much happier person.)

§ §

During the time it took me to bang out this post, I got another half-dozen comments on that video. None of them worth responding to because they’re all versions of “I don’t get it” (I’ve never understood why people broadcast their ignorance this way).

There are those who’ve asked intelligent questions, or — demonstrating curiosity and a desire to learn — even at least a question. But all those “me so dumb” comments are really depressing. If you’re not going to do something about it, keep your ignorance to yourself.

Upon consideration, maybe I’m actually glad I am such an outlier.

§

Stay curious, 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

20 responses to “Friday Notes (Jun 10, 2022)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    They say you’re supposed to end a blog post with a question to inspire readers to comment, but that’s always seemed a bit too Pavlovian to me. I actually react negatively to the tactic (because I’m not a dog). If a post’s content inspires a comment or question, I’ll tender it. I don’t need (or like) prompting.

    That said, tomorrow’s post gets into an idea due to science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer that, if there was any truth to it, puts a whole new spin on the prompting notion. That such prompting apparently works seems like a data point supporting Sawyer’s notion. 🤔

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    We’re getting into the hot and muggy phase down here. Which comes with the hurricane season phase. Not my favorite time of year.

    The Reader strikes me as an ongoing lost opportunity for WordPress. If they really wanted to be a social network, paying attention to it, and adding some features to promote it that way, could provide a lot of benefits. But most of their recent publications talk primarily in terms of web sites, so it doesn’t seem like a direction they currently want to invest in.

    On blogging, it does seem like its heyday has passed. On the other hand, there’s a lot of interest and activity with Substack these days. I’ve noticed a lot of long time high profile bloggers are ending up there. The attraction is they can charge for content, although it doesn’t seem like most of them are doing that, at least not regularly. And there does seems to be a recent uptick in blogging activity. Some of that might be driven by anxiety about Musk’s plan to purchase Twitter.

    I’ve found ending with a question or two makes a difference. In fact, my posts with the most activity are usually short intros that just introduce a question. Maybe it just gives people ideas on what they might say. Or it could just be making it more clear that discussion is welcome, making it feel less risky to jump in. Not sure of the exact psychology.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oh, I know it’s effective. I just don’t like the implications. You’d think by now people would know social media is all about comments — even magazine and news sites have comment sections for every post. Hell, my comment box is labeled, And what do you think? (Of course, that’s just one more thing lost if someone uses the WP Reader.)

      In California, it was earthquakes, mudslides, and forest fires. Here, winter, tornadoes, and severe storms. You get the humidity, flooding, and hurricanes. (Big cities have traffic jams, high cost of living, and crowding.) It’s always something!

      That said, I enjoy the change of seasons, do okay with winter, love a good storm, and have never see a live tornado. It’s the two months of humidity that are the worst (thank goodness for A/C).

  • Mark Edward Jabbour

    I don’t disagree, mostly. Whiskey helps. Cheers.
    However … “Don’t drink too much” she advised.

  • Matti Meikäläinen

    Has the rampant post-modern deconstruction and secularism damaged us? Myth and legend that used to ground us is replaced them with comic books and shallow science fiction. Has that undermined our social foundations? Have we lost track of who we are and what truly matters?

    My answers are unquestionably Yes, Yes, and Yes. Please expand on this if you would. I think the main underlying factor goes back a bit from the post-modernism of mid-century which is itself a manifestation of the what’s been brewing for a few centuries. Some philosophers and intellectual historians refer to the mixed blessing of the “Enlightenment Project.” Mary Midgley, one of my favorites, refers to philosophy as a form of plumbing. She says it’s part of the deep infrastructure of our lives – the patterns of thought that are taken for granted. And, as Midgley puts it, we only pay attention to the plumbing when something starts to stick—like now.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Hey Matti! Always nice to hear from you!

      I agree the seeds lie far back. I’d put the beginnings as far back as the Scientific Revolution and Newton’s clockwork universe. Not that there isn’t great wonder in science, but I see science as a Yin to the Yang of humanity, art, music, and story. Back in the 1960s I began calling what I was perceiving “The Death of a Liberal Arts Education” and to my eyes it’s gotten worse ever since. And I think that, as with many things, the pace has accelerated since then. Nixon and Watergate, as well as the Vietnam war, deconstructed our faith in government and federal institutions in general. (Although, in that case, perhaps rightfully so.)

      A common refrain from atheists is that they can be moral (or at least ethical), and I agree completely. Of course, they can. But a secular view doesn’t come with a moral code — atheists need to actively construct one. Most like do. And those with a spiritual moral code often violate it (but at least there is a yardstick to measure that violation). Medicine was a dark ages thing filled with superstition, but we understood its value and updated it for the modern world. I wish we could do likewise with religion.

      It’s almost ironic how one segment has slipped into scientism while another segment has rejected intellect and science (and a handful of us are looking around wondering WTF happened to the promise of the human race).

      • Matti Meikäläinen

        I agree. I think the “clockwork universe” is an very accurate early marker of the change in the West’s thought patterns. As Mary Midgley explains her plumbing metaphor, we only pay attention to the plumbing, i.e., the deep infrastructure or core assumptions of our thought when something starts to stink. From a moral perspective most of the 20th Century gave off quite the pungent odor. Midgley was one of first women, along with Foot, Murdoch and Wittgenstein’s protégé, Anscombe, to be permitted to attend Oxford—while the men were off fighting the Nazis. Perhaps in part because they were women, condescended to by professors and the other male students, that they resisted the conventional wisdom of logical positivism, emotivism, and the relativism rampant at Oxford. They often pointed out that the Nazis were genuinely and unmistakably evil—not that genocide was merely distasteful. I think they were among the first to point out the moral stink.

        However, I marvel at how entrenched that mindset has remained in Western thought including a smug scientism. Only quite recently are these women and the handful who followed them being taken seriously. But, then again, it was a very long process from Newton, Bacon, and Descartes to the likes of an A. J. Ayer, and then to the likes of these contemporary clowns, e.g., Sam Harris and his friends.

        You should write more on this.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I do post about social stuff from time to time. Usually when my frustration level needs blowing off. I’ve tried to avoid normative or prescriptive writing because I know I’m an outlier, an irascible curmudgeon, and a raging misanthrope. (Yet in their complexity, variety, and potential, people do fascinate me.) I have been leaning a bit more towards such postings recently. (The 2016 election kinda got that ball rolling faster than it had up to then.)

        Regarding the women at Oxford, I wrote once that: Women are Local; Men are Global. While not restricted to male and female bodies, I consider the Yin-Yang poles of Feminine and Masculine mindsets self-evident (I think any parent who has raised a boy and a girl would agree). My metaphor is all humanity standing along a circle, arms linked, “men” facing out, “women” facing in. (Or seeds and plants; one ventures forth; the other grows in place.) Exploring is kinda crazy, but building requires pragmatism, so it’s not surprising that educated women would have sensible, rational views. I’ve found it usually the case.

        We are victims of our own species success in many regards: population, pollution, poverty, climate change, runaway capitalism, information glut. The success of science both blew and closed our minds. (Blinded by the iPhone light.) “Smug” is a good word for it, and it often aligns with educated liberal moral smugness. The hypocrisy and emptiness are on full display in the Venn diagram of educated liberals intersecting with anti-vaxxers.

        I just posted about an idea due to science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer that speculates just under 60% of the human race are intelligent and sentient, but not sapient. They are only functional symbol-processing systems — as philosophical illusionists believe of consciousness in general. So much of human behavior does seem behavioralist, Pavlovian. Explains mob and cult behavior. Sawyer’s notion is fantasy, but I do wonder about a human spectrum. We vary in most things.

  • Matti Meikäläinen

    I meant to say “when something starts to Stink!”

  • Anonymole

    On your way to 100k: a youtube video never dies, it just fades down the ranking.

    Coddling of any entity, a dog or species, I’d say results in that entity unlearning what it means to survive adversity.
    Where are my next 10,000 Calories? Oh, they’re right here at the end of my internet connection.
    Where will I spend the night? Oh, right here under my parents’ roof.
    Where is my next challenge? Oh, right here in my XBox.

    Threaten their lives, send them to war, bring on the apocalypse — we’ll all have to grow up then.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Exactly. The privileged are astonishingly privileged these days. (It’s not just the great toys kids get to play with these days, it’s the great toys our dogs and cats get to play with these days!) As the branch is bent…

  • Katherine Wikoff

    I hope you’ll continue to post Friday notes. At least one follower is a real person who appreciated what you posted today!❤️

  • diotimasladder

    Hey, congrats on the YouTube video going semi-viral. I think you and a few people who are actually in my videos have watched my videos, but that’s it. I wonder if someone used your video for a class or presentation?

    I, too, have been wondering what happened with self-driving cars. And Mars. But mostly the cars, because anyone who wants to live on Mars, good riddance.

    Glad you’re enjoying the weather. Today’s high was 111 here. Yeah. I have to hose off the bricks in the backyard so Geordie doesn’t burn his paws when he goes out to pee. The forecast next week: low 100s. I’m doing a happy dance.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thanks! My videos also only got a handful of views until this. It’s weird! One video, and it’s now much more popular than eleven years of blog posts. (Over 70K views, now.) That’s a good idea about a presentation. Had to be something like that. Maybe someone used it on a website?

      Maybe self-driving cars are like 3DTV. Sounds great, would be great if it worked right, but technology is having a hard time cracking the nut. I think user acceptance is going to be a big issue. Trusting your drive to software programmed by who knows who? Airplanes are hugely automated to the point they could fly without a pilot, but they always have a pilot. Often a very bored one. The stakes are just so high.

      Our weather can be crazy. It had been a bit muggy, then it clouded over, really gloomy, then about 30 seconds of hail followed by maybe 5 minutes of heavy downpour, some sunshine, then a bit more rain, then it cleared up and has been really nice. But there’s a “heat warning” for the weekend. Gonna get into the 90s with high humidity. Might touch 100. Hate that, but that’s about the worst we get for hot.

      I’ll be dog-sitting Bentley next weekend. I’m hoping the nicer weather comes back. She doesn’t handle heat well.

      • diotimasladder

        That’s a good point about planes. I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right…I sure as hell wouldn’t get on a plane without a pilot.

        100 plus humidity can be absolutely brutal. It’s starting to get muggy here thanks to the monsoon season, and I’m not sure the drop in temperature is really a great thing when we’re just exchanging searing dry heat for hot humidity. On the other hand, there’s nothing like that lovely scent of a desert rain.

        I bet you’re looking forward to having Bentley again! Geordie definitely doesn’t handle the heat too well either, but he’s wearing a pretty serious winter coat. Clearly not a breed that’s adapted to this weather. Our walks are very very short, but you should see my setup. I have his stroller hooked up with an electric mister and a fan, both of which are USB rechargeable. I often see people doing a double take as they drive by, and I look at them like, “Yes, this is a dog in a stroller. And yes, he has his own personal fan and mister. Because yes, as you can see, he is a prince.” Anyway, I’m not sure a mister will do much in humidity, but they make doggie bandanas with a gel-like substance inside that you can refrigerate or even freeze. That’s one idea to keep her cool. It only works for a few minutes in our heat, but it definitely takes the edge off. I know because I’ll wear one of the doggie bandanas too. 🙂

      • Wyrd Smythe

        We had our first day of 100+ with humidity. Tomorrow the same. Ugly enough the Weather Service issued a Heat Warning. I do remember desert thunderstorms. Awesome! Ours are almost as good, but I miss the long sightlines.

        I am looking forward to dog-sitting. The weather looks to be iffy. It’ll just be turning nice again at the tail end of her visit or just after. If I get lucky, during. And, poor thing, she has a broken ear! She apparently wacked it on the coffee table while shaking her head and broke a blood vessel in the ear. Made a hematoma, vet drained it, but it’s back. Medication doesn’t seem to be helping. So, we’ll see.

        If it’s sweltering enough, the air itself is kind of a mister, so what you really need is a good fan. And being misted down does help if you have that fan. The killer is when it’s hot, humid, and the air is just dead. And night time usually doesn’t bring much relief, same hot muggy dead air. Awful.

        Ha! Geordie has it Great! 😂

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Nice weather again! A balmy 79 and fairly crisp air. Feels great! Hope it lasts through the weekend while I’m dog-sitting Bentley! 🤞🏼

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