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 day–month–year. (Although, as mentioned in the previous Notes, I prefer year–month–day because it sorts nicely.)
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).
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 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).
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.
In giving up the news, my calmness, sanity, and general happiness levels visibly rose.
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:
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.
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:
Tumbleweeds and crickets ever since.
Lastly, my favorite (recent) picture of my pal Bentley:
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.