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And I've never been one to let the carrier.. drop
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sheer's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
11:33 am
Ashamed of being a white male

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, recently I was looking at this:

I commented that it made me ashamed to be a person of the male persuasion, but it got me to thinking about all the things white men are responsible for that I have felt ashamed of over the years.

#1) It’s not a *white* man thing, but the idea put forth in the Bible that women should be quiet, should not lead, and whatnot. It’s pretty clear to me that souls have no gender – your gender is a attribute of the body you’re wearing – and it’s sad to think of how many brilliant ideas were lost or ignored and not acted on because they came from someone who happened to be wearing a female body at the time.

#2) The Trail Of Tears, Wounded Knee, and all the other times we invaders gave the local inhabitants of North America the shaft just because we had gunpowder and they didn’t. I think if we had instead befriended them, integrated their culture into ours, and learned from them, we’d be much further along. Yes, we knew things they didn’t.. but they also knew things we didn’t, and a lot of those things got lost.

#3) The cold war – fighting a proxy war over resource allocation systems and religion, getting many people hurt or killed in the process. McCarthyism is also pretty shameful.

#4) In general, the idea of imperialism.

#5) Slavery, and then after that was over segregation. Just as your gender is a attribute of the body you’re wearing, so is the color of your skin. There’s no reason to think that those with dark skin were ever “less than” or that it was ever okay to enslave them or restrict their freedoms and rights. Also, just as with the native americans, probably the africans knew things we didn’t (I gesture you to the concept of ubuntu as something we could really use to learn) and we discarded those by assuming that we were better and smarter than them and they had nothing to give but slave labor

Friday, October 21st, 2016
12:20 pm
And, a counterartument

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, since sometimes I like to debate myself, I thought I’d post a counterargument to http://www.sheer.us/weblogs/?p=3122. This is something that literally just happened. I’ve been trying to teach Remus to not bark like crazy, and so I have a bag of treats open and I’m praising him and giving him a treat every time he manages to look out the window quietly or otherwise do some behavior I’d like to positively reinforce.

While I was busy doing some paying work, he just stuck his nose in the bag of treats in order to try and steal some. I of course pulled him away and explained that he shouldn’t do that, but then I got to thinking about our little discussion here. To a certain extent, money paid out by the group is the ‘treat’ to encourage certain behaviors that the group considers to be pro-survival. Giving money for not displaying those behaviors reduces the group’s ability to influence individual members in directions that are presumed to be beneficial as far as the group can tell.

My response to this argument is that we should probably do this – for luxury items. It’s almost certainly desirable to have carrots to help encourage people to grow, especially since their growth may enable us all to be wealthier through creating more carrots for all. However, because of the reasons I discussed in my previous post, I do not think it is a good idea to do this for basic necessities like food and shelter. I also do not think it is a good idea to do this for things that benefit all of us, like education and access to communication networks. (More on that later, I expect).

10:26 am
resource allocation as a group

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, on facebook, someone had stated “the only reason anyone would vote democrat is the expectation of a welfare check”. I had pointed out that there are many reasons, and it’s more complicated than that, and one of their responses was “if you want to help other people be my guest but keep your stealing fingers out of our wallets”. I indicated a interest in further discourse on the subject if they were open to it, and said I’d write a blog article with my opening thoughts on the matter.

(This makes it sound worse than it is – I truly believe, at least at this point, that this person is open to trading ideas on the subject. I am of the opinion that we’ll all get further if we at least consider the ideas of people who are politically opposed to us before rejecting them. I am sure he has valid reasons for believing what he does.)

So, first of all, I will be the first to admit that “entitlement programs” are a band-aid. The right solution would be to have a better way of doing resource allocation to begin with. But, here’s my big picture overview.

We as a species are in the business of creating resources and resource pools as a group. A single individual could almost certainly not build a working power generator, for example. (You think you can? I want to see you try. No buying premade *anything* – every raw material must come out of the ground. And if you’re even doing research to discover *how* to find copper, make it into wire, etc, you’re using the work of the group to help you. If you are using knowledge of what copper looks like, or that it conducts electricity, or that you can dope silicon with phosphorus and boron and get a semiconductor that will generate electricity when light shines on it, you’re likely using knowledge you aquired from the group)

Even acquiring and cooking food would be challenging without contributions from the group. (How’d you learn to make that bow and arrow? How did you know how to create fire, or that fire would make the food more palatable and also let you get more calories from it?). We work as a team, and communicate concepts through symbolic language. It’s part of why our species is so able to thrive in what is a somewhat difficult environment.

So, hopefully by seeing that you can accept that we work as a group. My guess is your objection to entitlement programs is that they appear to compensate nonproductive members. I have a number of responses to that.

First of all, it’s difficult to know how productive a member really is. As I’ve discussed elsewhere in this blog, money has a number of flaws as a vehicle for abstracting value, so if you’re just measuring by the money that they make, you’re likely missing a lot of their contributions. We never know where lightning, in terms of a brilliant idea, will strike – and sometimes, you do literally need the idiot asking stupid questions to help the genius have the next great idea. Not all contributions to a society are obvious.

Also, because our society has a number of, hem, weaknesses, some individuals get misprogrammed in ways that make it very difficult for them to succeed via conventional measurements, through no fault of their own. However, they may still make important contributions to the system as a whole – they are somebody’s friend, somebody’s family. Very few of us are completely disconnected from the social mesh that is all of us.

Second of all, you really don’t want to lose a member (or throw them under the bus) that’s just going through a rough patch. Imagine if you will someone like Tesla, who’s very bad at making personal relationships and business decisions, but very good at creating mind-bending technologies like the induction motor. Now, imagine tesla gets sick – and dies – because of a shortage of funding and a health care system that doesn’t want to help him. Humanity as a whole has now lost the value he contributes, because we were more concerned with the valueless money in our wallet than we were in sharing out resources in order to benefit the species as a whole. Because we all basically have the same 10^11 neurons, the only way to be really mindbendingly good at one thing – like Tesla was at invention – is to be weaker in something else. The human history is full of stories of geniuses that had trouble tying their shoes. Ultimately, the money those people “stole out of your wallet” made us all richer, including you, in real value, in knowledge.

I think it’s important to look at the really big picture when considering resource allocation. First of all, it’s important to recognize that fiat money has no real value other than the value we imagine it to have. (Apologies to those of you who have been reading this blog the whole time and have to listen to me reiterate things you’ve already read). Real value is things like food and shelter and clothing – nobody really wants money itself (unless they’re using it to keep score), they want the things it can buy. It may help you accept the loss of some of that worthless paper in your wallet if you recognize that it really is worthless.. it’s just a pointer to value, it’s not the value itself.

As far as value itself, we have as much as we have. The entitlement program dollars for things like welfare are mostly going to things like food and shelter, which we in fact *have a surplus of!*. In the case of food, it’s *extra* stupid to not give it away, because *it has a short shelf-life*. If we were short on food, I could see making a case for not giving it to the “less productive” members of the tribe, but we’re *not*. Food rots. We might as well give it to everyone, because we’ve got more than enough, and more food than you can eat potentially has a *negative* value because of the need to deal with getting rid of it.

Now, you made the point that there are other types of welfare that go to people who will not spend it on things we have a surplus of like food and shelter, and I think you may have a case there, but overall, the important thing to remember is that in fact, dollars don’t matter. What matters is concrete and steel, because what we can ‘afford’ is entirely driven by concrete and steel. It’s also important to remember that not all contributions are easy to measure. One analogy to consider is if you removed all the neurons from your mind which don’t fire regularly (by denying them blood sugar since they were “dead weight”), the results would be *very bad*. Another point to consider is that the “nonproductive” members do in fact contribute by being the friends of the “productive” members and adding to their quality of life.

Another problem is you never really know what skills, worthless now, will be very valuable in the future, and some skills take a lot of work to hone, which appears “nonproductive” insofar as money is concerned. For example, when the first pioneers began playing with computers, it was not at all obvious how much more value we would be able to generate for humanity with these machines. Many of them went broke trying to build computers before the transistor was invented – but they generated *huge* value in terms of figuring out what sorts of things you needed to think about and do in order to build a programmable computer. It’s potentially possible that my “nonproductive” studying of writing music may turn out to have huge value someday – maybe first contact will happen and my music, not commercially viable for Earthlings, will be *very* in desire as a trading material by ET. You really never know. But – assuming we *do* have enough food, water, and shelter – you want people to explore the unknown fringes and the potentially dry holes, because some of them will turn out ultimately to have water. If there is no social ‘safety net’ there is a lot of incentive *not* to take risks – and the risks are where the rewards are. And in any case, you really don’t want the people who have skills that are not valuable now but will be valuable in the future to starve to death, losing us access to those skills.

As a digression, the transistor itself is a good argument for my case. It was invented by a *government monopoly*, by some engineers who were also amatuar scientists playing around trying to build a better signal amplifier. Without the transistor, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, and it’s unlikely the “free market” ever would have found it. The Internet is another great case of this.. ARPA designed a flexible network protocol to allow computers to talk to each other. Without the “entitlement” money going to the ARPA engineers, we wouldn’t have a Internet at all. (For better or for worse) – and when the Internet went up against the networks and protocols designed by the “free market” it *stomped all over them*. It was, quite simply, better and more flexible.

It’s also worth noting that that money “being stolen out of your wallet” in fact came from the group. You didn’t print it yourself, and you didn’t create the value yourself that it can be used to buy. (otherwise, you wouldn’t need to buy it, because you already would have it). Instead, the group gave it to you in exchange for the value you created for the group. It’s a pointer to the idea of group resources, and as such, it is reasonable for the group to decide what to do with it. I agree that the current system of give it to you, take it back, give it to you again or give it to someone else is very clumsy and at odds with the way humans emotionally react to things. Hopefully we’ll implement something better – although it is worth noting that what we’re currently doing has gotten us a long long way.

I apologize if I have misidentified your argument against things like welfare – if I have, please speak up so I can respond to what your real issue with it is.

7:51 am
On the impossibility of omniscience

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

One of the ideas that I find interesting is that it is basically impossible for anyone or anything to *know*, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are omniscient.

Now, I understand that in the context of the Bible, there was no way that God was going to be able to explain this to people with the level of understanding that the authors of the bible had. (If indeed the bible involves any divine inspiration at all, a subject I leave up to another discussion at another time)

However, from where we sit today, it’s easy to give a mental model for knowing why you can’t know – the virtual machine inside a hypervisor.

As a omniscient being, you have no way of knowing if you’re hypervised. It is entirely possible that it *appears* to you that you are all knowing but your knowledge is limited in scope by a hypervisor. If you’re anything close to really being all-knowing, you know this. The VM running under a hypervisor certainly *thinks* it’s in control of the hardware, and entirely aware of the state of same, but it’s clearly not *actually* in control of the hardware or aware of it’s state.

I see no reason to think that individuals, or even deities, can’t be hypervised – in fact I think it’s likely that we *are* hypervised. I think elsewhere I argued why both intelligent design and evolution would quickly land on hypervision as a way to get more done with less resources very quickly.

I get this is probably too subtle a argument for most people who haven’t studied computer science to grasp, and I’m trying to figure out how to put it into words that don’t require a understanding of virtualization. But I do think it’s one of those things that once you see it, you see it. You can never *know* you’re omniscient. It’s not possible.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
7:07 am
Thank you

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, I feel like in all the talking about the things my family did wrong, I never really do enough to talk about the things they did right. There’s no way I could think of all of them right now, but a recent facebook post did make me think of a few. So here is my public thanks to my parents for outfitting me with basic survival and problem solving skills beyond that of a number of my friends. For the chores I hated doing at the time which I now understand were transfer of knowledge in how to cook, clean, and generally keep things running.

A additional big thank you to my dad for teaching me the basics of how machines work, starting out with simple machines and basic newtonian physics, as well as for teaching me hands-on real world undoing + fixing + redoing = repair. For explaining algebra and trig to me when I was 12 instead of insisting I was ‘too young’ – and explaining them in words that made it easy for me to understand, and helped further my programming career.

And a thank you to both my dad and my sadly no longer with us Uncle Joe for teaching me a appreciation of quality, of a job done right – and especially the importance of a ‘can do’ attitude. I wish everyone I know had gotten that lesson. I wish I had better self-esteem – but I would not trade my ‘can do’ attitude for it in a million years.

Monday, October 17th, 2016
12:11 pm
Election thoughts

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, as we sit amongst the facebook election madness – and it’s been unusually rabid this cycle, for a whole host of reasons, I find myself thinking of the fact that we’re all flawed.

Now, every election cycle, it seems we spend a lot of time underlining how flawed both of the candidates are – and whatever ideology you subscribe to, it tends to make you minimize the flaws of your horse while thinking that the flaws of the other horse are the worst things that there could ever be. And I don’t doubt that one horse can run a race better than another – or else we wouldn’t have horse races. I’m sure there are people who would argue that I’m more flawed than any of the current crop of individuals who would like to be steering the boat whilst feeding from the public trough. I’m not actually sure – I’m not even sure if you can reasonably measure flawedness.

Ironically, the least flawed of the field from my point of view, Bernie, couldn’t even get a seat at the table. I still can’t tell whether this is because of a corrupt system, people who lack vision, or some other aspect. And I have no doubt that Bernie has his own set of flaws. Anyone who wants the job has got to be more than a little bit cracked.

But, I keep reminding myself, for all the warts in all the candidates we have running for office, they’re all human beings just like you and me. They have their hurts, their doubts, their flaws, and their moments of triumph just like any of us. It’s tempting to demonize the horse that doesn’t match your chosen ideology, but I am not sure that’s wise. Among other things, you’re possibly encouraging your neural network to set up notch filters that highlight their flaws while downplaying their good sides.. and it’s possible I’ve gone so far in this direction that my experience of Trump is somewhat locally synthesized. There’s no easy way to tell (see many previous discussions on the nature of our minds and the nature of reality)

In any case, it would be nice if we could dial back the insanity a couple of notches. No one deserves to be firebombed over this whole thing. It’s also worth noting that some of the split between the horses and the horseraces is the result of different ideas of utopia.. the farmers and rural folks have their thing, and the cities have theirs. But, in this world we live in, the farms and the cities need each other. Big agribusiness depends on big technology.. all us folks in the city genetically engineering crops, making fuel, making robot tractors – and big population depends on big agribusiness.

But we want and need different things. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m certain that firebombing each other’s political campaign headquarters is *not* the solution, nor is threatening to put our opponents in jail, nor is attempting to shut down free speech.

I don’t know why I worry about these things. I don’t get the sense that the world at large is listening to me. Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to wake up and discover that I’d been slashdotted and my web server was cranking out hundreds of megabits of content. And, honestly, it could happen tomorrow. Or never. The world is unpredictable that way.

I try to be less flawed every day. I hope that all the horses in all the horseraces do too. And I hope that they are as aware that they are flawed as I am aware that I am.

11:52 am
November 3rd

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

Another of my movie-soundtrack compositions.. http://sheer.us/stuff/2016/November3rd.mp3.

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016
11:28 pm
New ambient / movie soundtrack jam

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, trying to get my musical act together after my latest CA trip, I recorded a jam just to get back into the swing of things.. if it’s popular enough I’ll do a actual mixdown of it, otherwise, here’s a faders-up rendition: http://www.sheer.us/stuff/2016/PulseOfChanges.mp3

Sunday, September 18th, 2016
1:41 pm
Emotional literacy

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

One of the skills that I have been cultivating over the last few years is emotional literacy. This is a set of skills involving understanding what I’m feeling, what possible neural activity is driving those feelings, and whether it’s what I want to be feeling and what actions I should take if it’s not.

The most significant piece of this, for me, is just being aware of what I’m feeling throughout the day. I think a lot of the time before this I was only aware of emotions when they were extremely strong, but understanding what I’m feeling when I’m not feeling strong feelings – when I’m only feeling slight ones, or no emotions at all, also helps inform what changes I should make in my life and my ways of thinking. Since I want to have better experiences than I’m currently having, being aware of what actions are emotionally null, or emotionally negative is helpful in learning how I should shape my future life.

I wonder how many of my friends study their emotional responses during the day, and what they have learned.

One of the things I have noticed is that writing and tracking music is a highly emotional experience. Not all good – there’s the ego crashes, the frustration, the sense of the hopelessness of ever getting paid to do this.. but there’s also the highs of having that musical ‘perfect moment’ – what my friend Nicka used to call ‘music orgasms’. Comparitively, my IT job doesn’t generate a lot of emotion – in fact, emotion generally gets in the way. I always suggest to people who are angry and trying to debug computer programs that they get themselves to a more centered place first, because anger seems to be actively hostile to the logical debugging process.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that emotion often gets misdirected. I’ve observed that because of the number of subnets connected to the bus that dumps the chemicals into our bloodstreams that cause emotion, often emotions are the results of summing many inputs – and sometimes our storyteller side will tell a story about a emotion we’re feeling which isn’t completely accurate about which subnets are pushing the buttons that are resulting in us feeling that emotion. Also, because summing is involved, many emotions are the results of several components.

1:34 pm

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, one of the big discussion points on the interwebz (especially facebook) right now is a football star who refused to stand for the national anthem in protest of the way some of our citizens have been treated.

There are a number of people who are roundly criticizing him, talking about how he’s dishonoring veterans, how it’s just grandstanding because he’s a has-been-football-star, etc. Personally, I think that what he’s doing is great.

Now, I understand that humans are somewhat herd animals, and that we find it alarming whenever anyone behaves differently than the herd. However, if we want to claim that we are in fact in the USA free, we should embrace people who perform acts which are different than what the rest of the herd is doing, because when we see them doing this, we are seeing that we are in fact still free.

It seems like a number of people on my friends list want us to be hypothetically free – that is, we’re free in theory, provided that we never test that freedom. And, it is true that people should be free to criticize his action – after all, that’s part of what freedom means. I just wish people didn’t feel the *need* to criticize his action. He’s acting in the greatest tradition of a patriot – he’s identified a significant problem and he’s drawing attention to it so it can be addressed. He’s fertilizing the tree of liberty.

As far as the people talking about how he’s just grandstanding – every time I read about a cop shooting a unarmed innocent, I get angry. If I were a football star I doubt I would stop with not standing for the national anthem. I do not think this is grandstanding on his part – I think he genuinely is upset about the problem and wants to do something about it. I also think that those of you who believe that his reaction is less than honest and personal are playing the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ game that I mention elsewhere in this blog. You don’t know this person personally, generally, so you don’t have a lot of data to draw on, but you’re choosing to believe that his reasons are less than honorable or that he’s less than sincere in his protest, possibly because that’s easier emotionally than accepting that America has some serious, possibly fatal flaws that need to be addressed.

1:24 pm
Corporations vs. People

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, one of the things I see repeatedly is people hating on corporations. This is understandable insofar as corporations have a number of flaws – the biggest one being that they often optimize for profit over other, more valuable goals. There’s been a lot of discussion about the legal decision to treat corporations as people, with all the same rights (but apparently none of the responsibilities). There are a few things that distinctly separate corporations from people – and I may in fact be rehashing old material here, but I was having a discussion with my dad about it and I thought it was interesting so I thought I’d post about it.

1) People are a tightly coupled neural network. While you’re not consciously aware of being directly connected to everything you know, you are a neural network with data stored in all the associations between neurons. Corporations are much more loosely coupled, with much information not being shared at all between individual ‘neurons’ (corporate members)

2) People optimize for a number of different things (see the hierarchy of needs pyramid). Corporations generally optimize for very few things, and unfortunately in the way they are set up in the USA, they optimize first for profit. (The ideal corporation, in my opinion, would optimize for serving the employees first, serving the customers second, and then for profit third – in fact, not making a profit, but simply breaking even while providing value to humanity would be considered a win. In the current system, *destroying* value for humanity is a win if you make a profit while you’re doing it)

3) People can experience consequences for suboptimal behavior in ways corporations can’t. A corporation can’t be placed in jail, can’t feel physical pain, and won’t necessarily learn from things like fines – in fact, if a activity will generate a fine but is profitable beyond the fine, a corporation would normally decide to perform the activity anyway.

Corporations are often used as liability shields – or legality shields – for questionable behavior. I’m not sure what the ideal fix would be (see, already displaying the hypocrisy I talked about in the previous article) – although I do think one thing we could do that would help a lot is adopt the german ownership and directorship model for corporations in place of our own.

One big problem with corporations is that they (probably inadvertently) can exacerbate the problems caused by the Milgram effect. Individuals can be acting against the interests of the species as a whole, against other individuals, and even against their own common sense and feel that they are obliged to do so because the corporate rules and standards require it.

12:44 pm

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, a friend of mine who will remain anonymous to protect the guilty has been heavily and actively promoting a end to oil pipelines, and speaking about the energy extraction industry in ways that make it pretty clear they consider the energy extractors to be evil and motivated only by greed.

This is extra-ironical to me because this friend of mine spends a LOT of time on jet airplanes, so them complaining about oil extraction is a lot like the addict complaining about the existence of their dealer. I am not sure they are aware of how many megawatt-hours of energy it takes to hurl them across oceans, but I would assume they at least have the sense of the order of magnitude involved.

The truth is, the people who work in the extraction of energy are not mustache-twirling villains – they are good, honorable people, often doing a very physical and dirty difficult job. And, even though I would run the grid very differently if it were up to me – nuclear for baseline load – next generation nuclear that can burn what we currently think of as waste and is meltdown proof – and wind and solar for peak load – even with the grid operating the way it is now our energy network saves far more lives than it costs. I also certainly wouldn’t do fracking, because clean water is far more valuable than oil or natural gas, and it probably takes more energy than they’re recovering to return the water they’re using to clean. But, while I would run it differently, they are running it. They are keeping the lights on, and I think we should recognize that. If we asked them to run it cleaner, and offered to pay the larger bills that would result in the first few years from installing clean capacity, I am sure they would.

And we are transitioning to a better grid. Just look up a graph of wind generation in the US over the last 20 years. We are not doing it particularly quickly or efficiently, but we are doing it.

This definitely falls under the category of a topic where I am fairly sure despite all the moaning, groaning, and disasterizing, we will get where we need to be. In the meantime – it is important to have the new infrastructure up and working before you disassemble the old infrastructure. My friend who’s so critical of the power mix doesn’t do any local generation despite having quite a large stream wandering through their backyard and plenty of sun falling on their land, nor have they even called their utility to try and make arrangements to buy their power from a cleaner mix. Both of which would be a far better way to effect change than posting about how we should stop building pipelines on facebook.

Long term, do I want a better grid? Absolutely. But I think it’s in general a bad idea to identify the people who are keeping the power on as villains. I have similar feelings about Monsanto. I’d do things very differently if it were up to me, but they are a part of feeding hundreds of millions of people, and I don’t see all the people lambasting them proposing alternate solutions.

In general I guess I feel the world would be a better place if people would wait to complain about things until they had a viable alternate solution to propose. I acknowledge my position here is hypocritical insofar as I probably complain about things all the time without having a alternate solution to propose – but I do have it as a long term goal to get to a place where I don’t complain about things until I have a better idea in mind.

Another long term goal of mine is to do less “us” vs “them”-ing. I think that’s part of what my friend is participating in here when they talk about the evils of the extraction energy.. thinking “they” are somehow less than “us”.

Monday, September 12th, 2016
6:33 pm
Voting for God

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, one of the things I have to accept is that I’m not in the middle of the bell curve on anything. So things that are intuitively obvious to me (and of course I could be completely wrong about) are things that many people are never even able to see.

One of the possibilities I consider often for God is that everyone who believes in God assigns a certain amount of neurons to the task of imagining God. If we are all connected via some sort of network we don’t understand, then these may all aggregate together to form God.

However, one thing that seems likely based on the things I see and read and hear and experience is that you get to vote for what type of God you want to believe in. It seems like your beliefs form filters that then validate the experiences you’re having. So, in essence, what you believe about God forms a basis for what sort of God you’re going to experience.

And there don’t seem to be a lot of restrictions placed on what sort of God you choose to believe in. If you want to believe it’s holy for you to shoot a bunch of people, make nuclear weapons, destroy the planet you live on.. whatever, really.. you can do that. If there’s one thing ISIS demonstrates to me – not that I needed further demonstrations – it’s that you can sell yourself just about any story you want about what $diety might be like and might want. Our neural networks are extremely programmable, and if there’s a outside force insisting your beliefs about God fit a certain pattern, I haven’t seen signs of it.

Well, I should stop there and add a few side thoughts. Any information about anyone else’s experience but mine must necessarily be treated as somewhat of a unknown. I haven’t *personally* experienced proof in a horrific God, I’ve just *heard* about it. I don’t really have any way of knowing how much of the data coming at me is from where. I need to expand upon this thought further in some future article – I’ve probably talked about it before, but it’s something I’m still exploring – but for now let’s just say, everyone’s reality might be a custom mix and I might have signed up to experience what I’m currently experiencing.

But, back to the main thread here. I don’t have any reason to think the people who wrote the various religious documents circulating were any wiser or better informed than I am. But, those of you who choose to believe in them, please consider carefully whether you’re voting for a suboptimal God by doing so. If God does exist implemented in a shared or mesh network of our neurons, then you may be degrading the experience of all of us.

When I choose to believe in a diety, generally I prefer to believe in one better than I could possibly imagine. This acknowledges that I’m in no position to get into the mind of a creature who may have many orders of magnitude more neurons than I have, while at the same time recognizing that morality doesn’t change just because you get more neurons. (Or does it? This is probably how we justify eating cows.. ) In general, the logic I’ve been using is kind of the modified golden rule here – if our roles were reversed, would our respective behaviors still seem reasonable?

Sunday, September 11th, 2016
4:33 am
UK Trip

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

For anyone who wants to see large numbers of pictures, some out of focus, of my recent UK trip, they are available at http://www.sheer.us/pics/UK2016pics/.

Thursday, September 1st, 2016
9:02 pm
Sell the vatican, feed the world..

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

(The title is a allusion to a video by Sarah Silverman) – So, yesterday I was looking at the York Minster – which is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of work, but it did make me wonder, how many people could this building house? I mean, it’s huge – it’s a unbelievable number of square feet under roof. And then I started wondering.. if in general we converted churches to housing, would we *have* homeless people?

That’d be one to back-of-the-envelope one of these days when I’m feeling bored.

And yes, I understand there are problems with this. I used to regularly let homeless people crash in my garage, until the level of stupidity exhibited by one of them went too far. (Dude was smoking next to large cache of very flammable objects despite being asked not to). And I will admit that I worry sometimes as I consider offering housing to down-on-their-luck individuals, will they be violent towards me? Will they steal everything I own and sell it for meth? Trusting people enough to live with them is a challenge for me.

I do wonder to what extent the homelessness problem is that we all have a hard time trusting each other – thanks, Gun Nuts… (well, to be fair, knives are also a problem here, and so are fists.. perhaps if I believed I would say thanks, all-powerful-God-who-loves-or-at-least-doesn’t-stop-violence..)

Monday, August 29th, 2016
8:30 pm
Business idea

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

Here’s a business idea for you enterprising types. Someone needs to create a business that does donation anonymization. In particular, I want to be able to donate to various causes without them having any idea what my mailing address, phone number, etc are. I don’t ever want them to spend my money asking me for more money. You could just take 1% off the top in exchange for providing this valuable service to the public, and then arrange with the various charities to never mail you, because after all your purpose in life is to provide anonymization. Long term it might not be that viable because as charities realize that people don’t want to be begged for more money, especially in paper mail while knowing what it cost to send those paper mailings.

12:21 pm

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

I added a new feature to my website where it looks at the last 1000 access log lines and shows any mp3s that are in the list. I’m hoping this will help various web spiders be more aware of the fact that we’ve got lots of music here for the downloading. Anyone know how effective this is likely to be and what else I should be considering doing to have google and other web spiders notice me more?

12:05 pm
Moody Blues, I know you’re out there somehow

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

The mist is lifting slowly
I can see the way ahead
And I’ve left behind the empty streets
That once inspired my life
And the strength of the emotion
Is like thunder in the air
‘Cos the promise that we made each other
Haunts me to the end

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

The secret of your beauty
And the mystery of your soul
I’ve been searching for in everyone I meet
And the times I’ve been mistaken
It’s impossible to say
And the grass is growing
Underneath our feet

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

You see I know you’re out there somewhere
O yes I know you’re out there somewhere
You see I know I’ll find you somehow
O yes I know I’ll find you somehow

the words that I remember
From my childhood still are true
That there’s none so blind
As those who will not see
And to those who lack the courage
And say it’s dangerous to try
Well they just don’t know
That love eternal will not be denied

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

Yes I know it’s going to happen
I can feel you getting near
And soon we’ll be returning
To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I’ll be there
My arms will close around you
And protect you with the truth

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you


Note to $person – if you read this blog, which I kind of doubt – I probably should create a separate tag for future-$person. I know you are not her yet. I have no idea how I ended up in such a strange situation – well, that’s not true, I have some guesses, most of which have to do with the futility of committing suicide inside a hypervisor that’s programmed to not let you die or possibly the concept of quantum immortality as part of MWI – but I won’t be showing up on your doorstep again unless something goes seriously wrong with my mind. If you ever discover that you have a Sheer-shaped hole in your life, feel free to approach me. I will understand that you’re not her yet, but still welcome you in my life.

You might want to review quantum immortality and MWI if that last bit didn’t make any sense to you.

And for the rest of you, no, I don’t think I’m currently any crazier than usual, or approaching insanity any faster than usual. I do think that my recent spate of creative activity has, as my friend Jeff would say, loosened my fibers some. But not anywhere near redline. I am sleeping every night.

11:54 am
good things about Christians

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

To balance out the post in which I roundly criticize Christianity, I thought I’d list a few of the things that I see in Christians that I think are *good*. Obviously, as with the other list, Christians are such a large and diverse group that it’s difficult to say anything which would be true of all of them, so let’s go with things that I think you’d find in, say, 70%.

1) Belief in forgiveness, and that forgiveness is a positive trait

2) Belief in charity, and supporting and loving your fellow man

3) Belief in working together to solve problems

4) The idea that there might be something bigger than us, and that we might have been engineered

5) Encouraging the hope that the future will be better than the past

6) Encouraging empathy with your fellow man

7) Encouraging gratitude, which has certain neurological benefits I discuss elsewhere in this blog

It’s my intention that this be somewhat a dynamic and collaborative document, so feel free to comment with your own list entries.

11:43 am
Do I believe in God?

Originally published at Never been one to let the carrier drop. You can comment here or there.

So, with the recent post on religion, the question might come up whether I believe in God.

And the answer is, I don’t have a absolute, I am certain I am right, religious faith on the subject, but I tend to lean towards there being something larger than us, possibly many orders of somethings larger than us. I don’t believe in the God described in the bible – something that powerful and capable, which nonetheless is so insecure that *e has to refer to his name in all caps and has to have a throne with angels singing about how great *e is flying above it. I tend to think it’s very difficult for us to imagine beings smarter and more capable than us, something Larry Niven has talked about when discussing the challenges of writing aliens smarter than humans.

To the extent that I do believe in a God, it’s a God far better than the Christian one. Remember, I tend to think we are experiencing suffering for artistic purposes, not because we’re being punished – or possibly because of stupidity or technological foul-up. Despite what it says on the label (all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful) the diety described in the bible is fairly reprehensible and not at all all-powerful. (I could cite verses, but this isn’t that type of post)

I would like to see a better religion authored, but I don’t feel like I’m yet in a place of knowledge to be able to author such a thing myself – although I would refer people to a number of books which are really good tries, books like The Four Agreements and Conversations With God. I also think that The Great Divorce, even though ostensibly by a Christian, is a great book on the subject, proof that sometimes we transcend our religions or possibly that there’s a good way to load Christianity.

It’s also true that whether or not there is a explicitly defined diety, God must exist insofar as the concept has a number of reserved neurons in a number of neural networks – everyone who imagines that God exists helps God exist. This is part of the problem with Christianity – by imagining a inferior and undesirable God, they are degrading the potential God if God exists as the sum of the neurons that all of us assign to imagining God.

I do also think that insofar as our neural networks form filters which selectively inhance and inhibit data coming at us from our senses, if you have a religious-level belief in God, you will experience God even if God doesn’t exist. See earlier posts about the amount of computing power our minds represent. If this is going to happen to me, I want to make sure the God I exist is not the God of the bible.

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