humanity

Slaughterhouse at 50

I missed the 50th anniversary of one of the pivotal books in my life. Slaughterhouse Five was published in 1969, just before I was born. I didn’t discover it until I was 16 years old. There was the time before I knew of Kurt Vonnegut and then there was the rest of my life. Today I can trace alot of my personal philosophy, cynism, and religion to Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse Five.

Resisting the Grind

Warning Signs: President Trump May Violate Federal Law in Absolving Saudi Crown Prince | Just Security As the conservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “we are aware of no President, not even such ruthless pragmatists as Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson, who would have written a public statement like this without so much as a grace note about America’s abiding values and principles,” and that it was “startling to see a U.

Empathy Sabbatical

I read this New Yorker article not because I care that much about Linux but because I became fascinated about the concept. On Sunday, the benevolent dictator announced that he would be stepping down temporarily, to “get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.” Torvalds, who is forty-eight and lives with his family outside Portland, Oregon, made clear that he wasn’t burned out. “I very much do want to continue to do this project that I’ve been working on for almost three decades,” he wrote in a post to the Linux-kernel mailing list.

The Disturbing Secret Behind An Iconic Cartoon

This is an incredible piece of journalism by Ariane Lange at BuzzFeed: Old letters, emails, and transcripts of AOL conversations between the women and Kricfalusi back up many of their claims. They each have witnesses to parts of their stories. Yet both women worried that they sounded “crazy.” For years, they chose to keep their experiences private, because coming forward didn’t seem like it was worth the risk. Rice feared retribution from his many supporters.

Tribalism and My Better Self

This episode of YANSS came along at a crucial time for me. I’ve been struggling with lesser traits. I love the idea of the “out self” and how we align our internal compass to what we project outwardly. This isn’t just about politics. We all exhibit the most inexplicable tribalism that doesn’t have much meaning or benefit. I know I do. I pick a favorite computing platform. A preferred text editor.

Vonnegut, Heller, and Styron on War, Government, and Racism (1997)

These people are gone. The voices of reasoning that stood witness to our most terrible decisions as a country are rapidly vanishing. Now we, as a country, seem to have developed selective amnesia about where we come from. The following videos on YouTube are from a series of lectures and discussions with several WWII veterans of moderate fame. I watched every minute attentively and without distraction. It was depressing and it was important at a time when our president thinks the threat of nuclear annihilation is a publicity event.

Imagination and TouchID Replacements

There’s a good deal of buzz around hypothetical details of the upcoming TouchID replacement. I don’t have a strong opinion about the quality of the experience for unlocking my iPhone with my face. If it works, then great. If it doesn’t then I’d be disappointed.1 What really gets me excited is how this aligns with three other items that Apple has actually commented on: Siri voice control, A.R., and Machine Learning.

The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence Link

Sam Harris has an excellent and deeply intellectual podcast. This week’s episode features an interview with Professor Stuart Russell about the current and future state of A.I. and it’s potential impact on society.

Democracy Tax

I’ve taken a very specific stand against journalism paywalls in the past. It felt like an artificial barrier that restricted access to potentially vital information. It felt like a failure of foresight in an industry that refused to acknowledge the reality that they documented every day. I was wrong. My tactic was to avoid pay sites. I avoided following and sharing links to paywalls. I wrongly refused even the steepest of discounted access.

Missing the Mind of Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut would be 94 today. His words and thought experiments shaped who I am. He made me a better person. I’m glad he kept his shit together for as long as he did. From Kurt’s “Cold Turkey” essay in 2004: “There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president”.