Friday Notes (Nov 11, 2022)

I hadn’t planned to post today, but I can’t resist the allure of 11+11=22. That’s just too tasty. Bonus, it also works in the arguably more sensible European mode of daymonthyear. (Although, as mentioned in the previous Notes, I prefer yearmonthday because it sorts nicely.)

The last two posts were heavy on the math, so I promise (other than the date thing) no math in this one. But since it’s unplanned, it might end up a bit of a ramble.

But then that’s what Friday Notes are for!

Today’s lead story is: Brrrrr! It got chilly out! After a long warm fall, winter finally remembered its annual appointment with us. Perhaps, like me, it’s getting old and forgetful. Or maybe it was just really busy.

Looking outside my “office” (ha! as if) window, winter looks like it could break out in snow at any moment (in fact, it’s expected early next week).

11-11-22: Grey skies and chilly temps (and bare-naked trees).

As you can clearly see, the temperature has really dropped. Yesterday’s high was 68 degrees (calm down, Fahrenheit degrees). Today’s expected high is 36 degrees. All next week, similar “high” temps. So much for outdoor dining.

It could be much worse, so count the blessings before they hatch. It’ll be sub-zero and snowy soon enough. Or not. Global warming (or “climate change” if you prefer) seems to make things more chaotic (just what we need; more chaos). Weather forecasts have been even less accurate than usual the last few years.

(How many Rs in Brrrrr? I added a couple just to be surrre.)

§

The iPad I bought back in 2016 broke (my second Apple purchase after my beloved Classic iPod). The mechanical home button stopped clicking. As if it had suffered its final push and just couldn’t muster the strength to rise for one more. Humans get broken tickers; my iPad has a broken clicker.

Fortunately, the fingerprint reader in the button still works, so I can use the “power” button on the side to wake it up, then apply my thumb to the broken clicker to unlock it, then swipe up to get to the home screen. Works, but it’s a PITA.

It’s a sign of how much we come to, if not exactly depend, need these devices that I immediately used my iPad to order another one from Apple. (I still can’t fathom how people watch videos on their phones. I mean YouTube videos and whatnot. For movies and most TV shows I want at least a TV-sized screen. I don’t even watch those on my computer monitor.)

Anyway, ordering was painless, shipping was prompt, and setup was quick and easy (it just copied my old iPad, so I ended up with essentially the same iPad but newer and a little larger).

The old iPad (left) and the new iPad (right).

The new one has a higher resolution screen and handles higher data rates, so I can watch YouTube videos in 4K and 8K. Those Mandelbrot zooms do look pretty sweet that way, but other than that I don’t notice much difference.

No home button on the new one. The fingerprint reader is now built into the wake/sleep button (upper left side as seen above). Because that button is so skinny, it seems to take longer for it to identify my fingerprint, so opening the new iPad is ever so slightly more of a pain. Plus, I used to use my right thumb on the home button to wake, unlock, and open all in one gesture. Now it’s the more awkward gesture with my left forefinger clicking the button or tapping the screen to wake and just resting my finger. Neither seems as ergonomic as how it used to be. One more change that doesn’t seem better.

I’ve also had the new iPad decide it wasn’t connected to the internet a few times now. It knows it’s connected to the Wi-Fi (and the Wi-Fi is certainly connected to the internet as evidenced by every other device in the house), but for some reason it thinks there’s no internet. Shutting off and rebooting fixes it, but I’m wondering what’s going on. Something I’ll be keeping an eye on, for surrre.

§

While I’m complaining about Apple, here’s a rant that’s been sitting in a text file ever since I edited it out of a post I was working on a while back:

When I installed Apple’s iCloud on my new HP Windows 10 laptop, the iCloud Photos behavior changed, and I’m hugely unhappy about how it works now. I’m not sure who to blame, Apple, Windows, or maybe even HP.

Previously, it simply downloaded a copy of any photo I took with my iPad or iPhone, and that photo was not synced back to my Apple devices. I could delete or move those iCloud photos without affecting what was stored on my devices.

That’s not true anymore. If I delete a photo, it gets deleted on my device, which really pisses me off. What’s worse is how much thrashing Windows does maintaining that directory. It’s been thrashing for the entire time I’ve been writing this post. W! T! F!

On top of that, my iPhone photos are now in a version of the HEIF format (High Efficiency Image File), HEIC, which is a change I don’t need (but whatever).

We interrupt this rant for a pretty picture of fallen fall leaves. (I was lucky to catch this shot. The next day the yard crew vacuumed them all up.) Rant resumes in 3, 2, 1…

This could be Windows more than Apple. With the new laptop, I tried Microsoft’s OneDrive, but it moved all my photos and documents to the cloud and (as far as I could tell) removed them from my PC. It took me a while to undo that crap. I then immediately disabled OneDrive.

I’m still mostly okay with Microsoft and Windows (though I wish they’d stop pushing Teams at me; don’t want it, don’t need it, bug off), but I’m increasingly unhappy with Apple. As Google once did, they used to have a reputation for being the best, but not as far as I can see anymore (in both cases). In Apple’s case, they were known as pricy but excellent. Now they’re just pricy.

The iTunes Windows app, for instance, has gone from a useful tool for curating your music to almost entirely useless (but necessary for syncing my iPod). And whatever bullshit is going on with iCloud Photos makes me want to give up using it. For that matter, the Apple app for its own books has gotten more useless than it used to be.

§

Apple earned a few points back with the easy iPad purchase and setup, but I’m still disappointed with them overall. I know times are tough, but it’s heartbreaking to see so much rampant greed.

The Apple News thing still pisses me off. It was the end of paying much attention to the news for me. CNN, MSNBC, and that other one, they can all kiss my ass. They’re worthless. Just commercial infotainment ventures earning bucks for stockholders. At least two of them are nothing but echo chambers.

He’s back!

In giving up the news, my calmness, sanity, and general happiness levels visibly rose.

That said, I learned recently that Keith Olbermann is doing a podcast. One patterned after his MSNBC show Countdown (of which I was a big fan; it’s where I first encountered Olbermann).

So, for a bit over a week I’ve been enjoying his outrage at politics, his takes on sports (he’s a huge baseball fan and a baseball historian), and his stories. Every Friday he reads a James Thurber story.

Welcome back Keith! I’ve missed that blunt anger I so understand and share.

(Olbermann is where I got the second sentence of my usual sign-off. He got it from a favorite English teacher from his youth. Such a great phrase: Go forth and spread beauty and light.)

§

Two other notes that have lingered in a text file for too long:

Consciousness

There’s an irony: Part of the problem in studying the mind is that our minds are so damn good at making up fantasies.

Another irony: The fundamental humanity (so far) of counting and math. And the irony that “being bad at math” is often seen as making one more human. (In reality, it should be seen as similar to illiteracy, “being bad at words.”)

Yet another: If brains are computers, why aren’t people better at math and logic? (In fact, math lets us do more than our brains can.) OTOH, the properties of the low-level system aren’t necessarily reflected in its high-level capabilities. Even computers cannot “do math” without software telling them how to.

And finally: the irony of comparing something we don’t understand to… well, anything.

And:

Rational Analysis

The way I see it, the main thing about rational analysis is the search for contradiction. The Popper view of science says that a theory must be falsifiable. Extending that, a truth must be free of contradiction. It’s almost impossible to prove something is true, but it is possible to prove something contradicts itself. (Of course, contradiction can still be a fundamental truth — that’s part of Yin-Yang.)

Even in pure math there are presumed truths that cannot be proved. But neither can they be disproved, so it remains to intuition to decide. They aren’t common, though. I think life has rare unproveable truths, too, but looking for contradiction is often a pretty good razor.

There exists a modern view that our logic operates in service to our emotions and axioms. There is certainly truth to that, but I think it often gets used as an excuse to disdain logic. I am not a fan of the modern view that elevates feelings over logic (often discarding the latter). I agree logic isn’t perfect and can lead to error, but feelings are far more prone to lead to error and by a huge margin. To paraphrase Churchill about democracy, logic is the worst possible way of thinking… except for all others. I do put feelings second only by a hair. Yin-Yang. My motto: The heart pushes, but the head steers.

Intellect can lead astray, but I think it makes far fewer mistakes than emotion does. From loving someone clearly unhealthy for you to electing a madman because you hate the other side so much, our emotions can easily blind us. True, we often bend logic to accommodate what we already feel (but that bending is often detectable in the bright light of fact and reflection).

We don’t lack for feelings. Being too rational has never been our problem. Emotions are a deep part of us. We inherit them from our animal ancestors — who have feelings, too. We’re all sentient. It’s our sapience that makes us so different (the “Sebald Gap” after the W.G. Sebald quote, “Men and animals regard each other across a gulf of mutual incomprehension.”).

Ultimately, I give intellect the edge in credence. I trust it more than I do emotions. (Have you never had a “3 AM moment” when you hate yourself and the world and think, screw it, I’m outta here, but then immediately rethink, no, wait, on balance life is okay, I should stick around and see what happens next? That was your head steering your heart. Your heart mighta walked off that cliff.)

At this point, I don’t remember what triggered these, but at least now I can delete that text file. (Based on lines I removed, they appear to be replies to an online conversation I was having. Probably one where the other party wandered off mid-thread.)

§

Which is kind of a sore point. So many online conversations end abruptly because the other party wanders off. Almost always because they apparently didn’t like what I said. It disturbs me how unwilling or unable people have become to deal with opposing opinions.

But just wandering off without any response seems very rude to me.

§

Another note from another (very old) text file:

The Value of Philosophy

The study of philosophy is good mental exercise — it’s a practice that teaches how to think deeply about things. The study of math is similar that way. I think there is also some value in studying the history of philosophy — the paths of the deep thinkers. The gotcha seems to be that deep thinking can lead to the problem Sabine Hossenfelder sees in high-energy physics — thinking not grounded in physical reality and experiment.

It seems to be answering a question I can’t recall anyone ever asking me.

§

A while ago I mentioned I had a YouTube video go ever so slightly viral. As it turned out, it was a great example of the famous “15 minutes of (very minor) fame”. After about 85K hits, the crowd moved on to the next thrill:

My 15 minutes of semi-demi-YouTube fame.

Tumbleweeds and crickets ever since.

§

Lastly, my favorite (recent) picture of my pal Bentley:

One happy dog!

It’s from her most recent visit. I’d just picked her up, so she’s happy about starting her mini “vacation”. Proof positive (as if any dog owner needed it) that dogs definitely absolutely without question smile. (And dream.)

§ §

A final thought: Movies and modern TV shows are the crack cocaine of storytelling. They have the same pseudo-reality as our dreams, which makes them very compelling. Camera, editing, music (!!), lighting, special effects, acting, plot, these all combine into a powerful and addictive elixir. We get a rush from a good movie, a high. “Movie Magic” is aptly termed.

Stay warm, 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

17 responses to “Friday Notes (Nov 11, 2022)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    That final thought might explain a lot. It’s a good topic for further exploration. The purified and refined high of movies. A worthy analogy, I think.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Another reason I like Keith Olbermann, he’s a huge dog lover. His podcasts even include a segment about dogs in need (which can be heartbreaking).

    I’ve found response to dogs (and by dogs!) to be a very accurate barometer of character. [The previous POTUS reportedly didn’t like them. Says everything.]

  • Lady from Manila

    I’m delighted you pushed through with this unplanned post. I’ve gotten fond reading your Friday Notes. Splendid photos, btw, of your house and neighborhood, the fallen leaves (lovely pic 😍) in the yard, and that’s a really handsome shot of Bentley.

    Heh, my life has gotten so simple I watch everything on my phone. That’s because I only watch YouTube videos nowadays. Maybe someday I’ll use TV monitors again. I go to the theaters when I want to see a movie these days. Also, I haven’t used my laptop for more than a year now. I miss it when I’m itching to do some longer scribbling. Haven’t done that for ages I’ve noticed my writing skill (if I had any) has deteriorated big time.

    Intellect over feelings, yes. I constantly aspire for that, Wyrd. But for people like me who feel deeply, it’s a struggle.

    What wonderful weather you’re having, imo ☺️.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      It’s great if you like 28°! There’s some light snow on the ground that I think is actually just moisture that froze out of the air. We had rain last Thursday, so the dew point was pretty high. Not any more! 😂

      Intellect over feelings is always a battle. We’re emotional animals. We all constantly aspire! Or at least ought to. It’s not even trying that’s the sin, I think.

      Maybe you should dig out your laptop and do some writing. If not for a blog, for yourself. Or even fiction you might try to sell. My writing and other hobbies help keep me grounded and gives me something to chew on. It helps having something outside my own issues and concerns to distract me.

      Glad you liked the post and photos. I like that fallen leaves shot, too. The morning light looks nice on the leaves. But, especially in the uncropped version, there’s too much reflection off the window glass (I cropped most of it out, but you can still see a bit on the right edge). I meant to go outside and retake the photo, but the yard crew came and sucked up all the leaves the very next morning. I was lucky to get the shot I got.

  • Lady from Manila

    Going back to writing is definitely on my agenda. It’s one of my joys in life, next to reading. Plus losing my drafting dexterity is no fun. I don’t write the way I used to these days, so I’m planning to change that and polish up my skills again.

    I went on another European tour December of 2017. Winter season! Ha ha, I almost died because of my body’s low tolerance to icy cold weather. Temp went down to 0 degrees not to mention I failed to bring the most proper or enough clothes for insulation. Still, I love everything about that vacation because it was wintertime.

    “…we often bend logic to accommodate what we already feel (but that bending is often detectable in the bright light of fact and reflection.

    …That was your head steering your heart. (Your heart mighta walked off that cliff.)”

    Just want you to know how lovely you were able to put them out in words, Wyrd. Your motto on the heart pushes, the mind steers is indeed something to live by.

    And I hope you aren’t sore I used the term handsome to describe Bentley’s pic even though your sweetie is a she. I keep forgetting as the name keeps confusing me. I’m also getting old… 🙃

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Ha! If you were in Europe, I assume that zero degrees was Centigrade, so an almost balmy 32 degrees as I’d measure it. 😁 Certainly not warm, but we sometimes get a week’s worth of -20 (Fahrenheit!) degrees. Which is almost -30 Centigrade. (Fun fact: -40 degrees is the same in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade. It’s the only point where they match.)

      Bentley’s name is definitely confusing. I don’t know what her original owner was thinking. I’ve never met her, but she’s apparently something of a piece of work. The grown daughter my friend’s best friend who died back in 1999 and so my friend has felt semi-responsible towards the daughter ever since. (For all the good it does. The daughter has some drug and other issues.) Daughter was self-aware enough to realize she wasn’t providing a good home for Bentley let my friend take her. It’s been a wonderful and happy pairing for them both. (And I get to dogsit a great dog a few times a year. It’s like being a grandparent. The joy of temporary kids that soon return to their parents and leave you in peace!)

  • Mark Edward Jabbour

    As usual – a lot of content here. So … briefly. “wandering off without any response seems very rude to me.” Yes, a problem. I still don’t know what the ethics are of any of this electronic communication. Business hours? Or are ‘we’ friends? What kind of friend? A 3AM friend?
    I’ve had a hard time in regular, (pre-internet) communication. Oh, did what I say offend you? I can’t read your mind. Why didn’t you say something earlier?
    Or, the great disengager – “I’ll let you go now”, or “I gotta go”.
    ~
    I like the structure of the 50 minute session, wherein I pay Psych-girl for her full, undivided attention. But then, there’s never enough time and it’s expensive.
    She once said, “I can’t interpret your silence.” Wherein I had to think about what to say next.
    Question: How many 50 minute sessions can a person take in a day? Unpaid.

    Anyway, I enjoy your posts – though I sometimes don’t agree.
    PS
    My favorite course in college was: MATHEMATICAL MODES OF THOUGHT.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “As usual – a lot of content here.”

      Well, as you know, I am full of it!

      As far as disagreeing, it would be pretty boring if everyone agreed. Calm maybe, but dull. I enjoy a good debate. I enjoy exploring how other people think and see the world. I just wish I could figure out the trick of being non-threatening when I share how I think and see the world. All my life I’ve gotten two major bits of feedback from others: Firstly, what a smart mofu I am. Secondly, what an intimidating freak I am. Me? Intimidating? Blows my mind. I’ll own freak, but intimidating? That’s wild. But it seems to be why so many run off in mid-debate. And, man, do I ever know what you mean about seeming to give unintentional offense. (Funny how you can say 100 things someone agrees with, but say one thing they don’t, and the climate suddenly changes.)

      Online communication is different, that’s for sure. I’ve read about how, in chat messages, the proper grammar of using periods sends a different message than one might thing. Sending [See you in a while.] is said to come off formal and stilted compared to [See you in a while] — no period. Using proper grammar actually makes one look stuffy, which is so hard for me to wrap my head around. Engineering Mind. Precision is next to godliness. Factor in, too, all those English classes pounding grammar and syntax into my neural net. And all the well-written books I’ve read. To me the missing periods look sloppy!

      [A favorite quote: “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson]

      Ha, yeah, chats can be hard to end. I suppose again it’s that lack of visual/audible cues. I think it’s fine to eventually just say “I gotta go.” [There’s a midwestern thing about long goodbyes. As kids visiting with parents, we knew when they called us to go, they’d spend 30 minutes standing at the door chatting before finally leaving. When visiting someone, I’ve tried to make a point of just getting up and going. “It’s been fun, but gotta go. See ya later!” And I’m out the door.]

      Online friendships are generally based on ideas and words, rather than shared experiences (“remember that time we …”) so they’re different than IRL ones. I’ve been online since the mid-1980s, so I’ve had friends for decades that I never met (or in some cases, even knew what they looked like). Over the years I have met some of them IRL, and that’s almost always very, very weird.

      I’ve always thought it would be interesting to have a psych-person (in my head, it’s usually a psych-gal). The ex- and I tried counseling, and I found that intriguing. Didn’t help, we were too far gone by then, but so it goes. I do try to keep alive that voice in my head that asks difficult and awkward questions. And I spend time asking myself why I remember the bits of my past I do and what those memories mean. My own attempt at very crude self-analysis.

  • Mark Edward Jabbour

    Sounds like (a favorite expression of mine) you and your ex fell victim to “why didn’t you say something earlier?’ Happens to the best of us.
    ~
    Wow! the mid 80’s! I got started in the mid 90’s when I went back to school. It was Netscape. And my only access was my .edu account. I took a class, too. Tried my hand at “code” writing, HTML language, whatnot.
    ~
    I’ve a few friends I’ve made on-line, but not many. Not many IRL, either. I’m not a joiner. Psych-girl is working with me to “soften-up [my] edges”. She says I can be “domineering”. She’s starting to loosen up. Ha! I think “intimidating” is higher up on the spectrum, or less offensive. IDK …

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Sounds like we’re both introverts with rich enough inner lives to stay sane (barely though it may be) while going it more or less alone. These social days, that seems unusual, but every age has its hermits and explorers. Things made sense to me when I learned that an introvert really means being alone energizing but being with people drains. Even if one enjoys being with people, and I generally do, it’s draining, and I can’t do it for long before I need some alone time. (Whereas extroverts are charged in crowds and drained by being alone, which I’ve long thought might explain why some people are always talking on their cellphone when out in public on their own.)

      Heh, yeah, I predate the “web” — the “net” — USENET and FidoNet and various BBSs. (I ran one myself, but it was inhouse for our field techs.) I was always into science and technology, even as a little kid. I built more electronics projects than model airplanes (or spaceships). I happened to take a Computer Science course in college and took to it like a duck to orange sauce. The unexpected game-changer was when I got into theatre in high school. That opened a door to the arts and a whole new territory. College was film school. Until I took that CS course the last year. The following (and final) semester, it was almost all CS courses.

      These days, at least for white men, it seems the bar for “domineering” can be awfully low. Not uncommon for an opposing position, no matter how respectfully tendered, to be called domineering. There is the issue of power of position, so the same opinion can be perceived as having more weight depending on who voices it, but that’s perception, not reality. I wish we could learn more to expand our perceptions to match reality rather than giving into them. At least “domineering” is a behavior you can, if you choose, work on changing. I don’t know how to not be intellectually intimidating, although I’ve spent much of my life trying to figure it out. (I started partying in college in part in an effort to dumb myself down to socially acceptable levels.)

      Looks like it’s done snowing (first of the season). Time to go shovel.

  • Mark Edward Jabbour

    “an introvert really means being alone energizing but being with people drains.” A popular but simplistic distinction. I am more extroverted than introverted. I’d rather drink with friends, or smart people – but both of those are rare so I drink (mostly) alone. Same with pretty much everything.
    ~
    So I’ve thought some about ‘intimidating v. domineering’. That’s worth a lively discussion – one suited for my cafe. Me and Psych-girl have some fascinating “chats”. (Her word.) Of course, they’re focused on me. I find them fascinating. Does she? Hard to say for certain.
    She is super smart, smartest person I’ve ever talked with … but? I don’t know how she is with math or engineering. She self disclosed as a “classical introvert.” But doesn’t put much credence to the MBTI. However, the CIA does. As do many corporations.
    ~
    Who the fuck knows? Keep posting my friend. I look forward to what you have to say.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Sounds like maybe you’re an extrovert… with standards! 😆

      Being smart has little to do with math or engineering. One can be highly trained and educated and still be an idiot. Or unschooled and unread but smart as the proverbial tack. Smartness isn’t so much in what one knows, but in how one thinks.

      I seem to test fairly consistently as INTP but sometimes INTJ. “Architect” personality. Does seem to fit. As just one example, “It is difficult for an Architect to listen to nonsense, even in a casual conversation, without pointing out the speaker’s error. And in any serious discussion or debate Architects are devastating, their skill in framing arguments giving them an enormous advantage. Architects regard all discussions as a search for understanding, and believe their function is to eliminate inconsistencies, which can make communication with them an uncomfortable experience for many.”

      I really see myself there. And it explains why almost no one enjoys debating me and so many run for the hills once things get “interesting”. [sigh] But as it says, it’s all a search for truth. So it goes.

      Do I take it that you’ll be posting about intimidating vs domineering? If so, I’ll look forward to it!

  • Mark Edward Jabbour

    Ha! Psych-girl I’ve diagnosed as an INTJ, you also. Female INTJ is the rarest of personality types. But then, she takes issue with “types”.

    Oh yeah, how they do run for the hills. 🍻

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