Blog Archives

Burying The Truth?

…or just dropping it in an unmarked grave somewhere?

A man living as a woman who suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm was buried as “Geoffrey” not “Jennifer.”

Okay, whatever. I don’t care what name a person wants on their headstone. I don’t think it’s a big deal how the family chooses to lay to rest one of its members, since the deceased isn’t really going to be worried about it at that point. But again, I really don’t care how anyone outside of my own family handles funerals.

But now California has passed the Respect After Death Act –

It requires any official responsible for completing a transgender person’s death certificate to ensure it represents the deceased person’s gender expression, as documented in other government-issued documents, or evidenced by gender confirmation medical procedures.

Masen Davis of the Transgender Law Center, a cosponsor of the bill, said this was a “common-sense bill that will help protect the dignity of our loved ones upon their passing.”

This is where the failure to think ahead comes in. Will the deaths of transgenders make note of their transgender status? If not, more deaths will be statistically attributed to women. For one, suicide rates are abnormally high among transgender people. After this law, will the numbers read as suicides among women increasing? Will fewer women die from breast cancer, statistically speaking? How will this affect statistics and subsequent medical research?

Then again, this might be a Blow For Equality in disguise. Men generally die younger than women… if transgender men are listed as women when they die, that would help achieve statistical Age Of Death Parity among men and women.

Bu maybe this is exactly what progressives want. If women can be numerically shown to be dying younger and more often, feminists can agitate for more government favors.

The Respect After Death Act

Transgender study looks at ‘exceptionally high’ suicide-attempt rate

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I find it amusing somehow that the article was posted under Yahoo’s “Parenting” section.

Bone Machine

There was this man who snapped his poke
In little pieces
And then they drilled holes
And then they put ’em back in there
– The Pixies, “Broken Face”

From here – A 12-year old boy receives the first 3D-printed vertebrae implant.

To quote…

…the bone implant is made from titanium powder (similar to many orthopedic implants), however this material is considered to be safer and longer-lasting than conventional replacements. Plus, since it’s designed to mimic the shape of the child’s original vertebra, neither cement nor screws are necessary to keep the implant in place, and the healing period should come along quicker, as well. Along with that, the implant includes a series of small holes that allow natural bone growth, turning the implant into a permanent, stable part of the boy’s spine, negating the need for adjustments at any point in the future.

From bullets to guns to houses and now body parts.

The long term success of this is still up in the air, but it’s still amazing. I can already picture the day when this sort of thing becomes commonplace, so much so that people keep backup files for emergency printing on their phones.

Lost In The Weeds

Examining game theory (no, not that type of Game) and K-strategy vs r-strategy by using black market marijuana agriculture as an example – Equilibrium in Local Marijuana Games by Bart Kosko, from the Journal of Social and Biological Structures, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 51-66, 1991

Yeah, it’s a pdf, and yeah it has math.

I first discovered Kosko 15 years ago when I found his book Fuzzy Thinking, which delves into fuzzy logic. It’s a bit off-putting in places though… as one review on Amazon puts it –

…until Kosko gets down to chapter and verse on what FL is and how it works, reader will be put off by the constant put-down of Western logic and philosophy and opposing schools of computer science. But when Kosko is good, he’s very, very good. One comes away from his text with a real understanding of the concepts of fuzzy sets, rules, and systems, and of how they’re applied to make “smart” machines, devices, trains, and planes.

And pretty soon automobiles, at least if Google has its way. No word on whether the computer systems in the cars will have the voices of John Candy or Steve Martin, though.

I can’t say I agree with all of Kosko’s assertions, but it is well worth reading.

A couple years later, I read Heaven in a Chip: Fuzzy Visions of Society and Science in the Digital Age, which raises questions like “Would you still be you if a chip replaced your brain?” and “Who owns the ocean or the moon — or your genome blueprint?” The sort of things I often ponder over breakfast.

If you like science fiction (and probably especially if you like cyberpunk), these are good examples of some fiction becoming fact during our lifetimes.

Fuzzy Cognitive Map of the American Drug Market by Rod Taber. From Wikipedia

Fuzzy Cognitive Map of the American Drug Market by Rod Taber. From Wikipedia

She’s Been Living In Her BitCoin World

Like her transactions, I’m anonymous.
Look at her reading the Economist’s
Analysis

H/T Cafe Hayek, who gets all the cool digital-currency music videos.

Weapon Of Choice

Allamagoosa tweeted this…

Weapon of Choice

To my left is my computer. An indispensable tool and weapon in any apocalypse. And it’s where Christopher Walken lives.

If anything can distract zombies long enough to destroy them (or at least make an escape), it’s dancing Christopher Walken.

The House Edge

From the bleeding edge of house technology (no, not the music)… A Chinese construction firm 3D printed 10 small houses a one day using a process called “contour crafting” on a large scale.

I wouldn’t have wagered on the claim that the houses cost only $5000 each, but after seeing the result, I can believe it. Not exactly stately Wayne Manor here, but it looks livable enough.

Now it just needs life size, 3D printed Ken & Barbie to move in

Now it just needs life size, 3D printed Ken & Barbie

And from here – “Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of The University of Southern California is testing a giant 3D printer that could be used to build a whole house in under 24 hours.”

Contour Crafting could slash the cost of home-owning, making it possible for millions of displaced people to get on the property ladder. It could even be used in disaster relief areas to build emergency and replacement housing.  For example, after an event such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which has displaced almost 600,000 people, Contour Crafting could be used to build replacement homes quickly.

It could be used to create high-quality shelter for people currently living in desperate conditions. “At the dawn of the 21st century [slums] are the condition of shelter for nearly one billion people in our world,” says Khoshnevis, “These buildings are breeding grounds for disease a problem of conventional construction which is slow, labour intensive and inefficient.”

If Khoshnevis wins his bet, this could lower housing costs to a fraction of what it costs now, and allow buyers vast leeway in choosing specifications. Why, one could design their very own life-sized Malibu Stacy’s Dream House.

smithers2

Life is gay and fancy-free, when you’re with Malibu Stacy

 

Oops! Pretend you didn’t see that. Look at this one instead.

Malibu Stacy

“Who cares if she has a new hat?!?”

Kings Ransom

This lightbulb was first sparked up by this guy called Wei Dai
This asymmetry in public key cryptography is why
We can hash out on our mining rigs in search of reward
& cos it’s P2P & free I micropay what I afford
– Jamie Shelly, “Bitcoin Song”

From ESPN – The Sacramento Kings announced Thursday that they will become the first professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin virtual currency.

Team owner Vivek Ranadive said he became interested in digital money when “My kids would go to games and ask why we didn’t accept Bitcoin.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that Ranadive, who apparently has the coolest name among sports team owners, plans to have his coaches use Google Glass on the sidelines. WSJ also points out that “Sacramento, the 19th-largest market in the NBA, is better placed for this initiative than almost anywhere else. On the edges of Silicon Valley and boasting a steady influx of high-tech firms of its own, the city is plugged into a ‘tech mind-set’ to which bitcoin appeals, Mr. Ranadivé said.”

For a while now, I’ve been seeing a major paradigm shift on the not-so-distant horizon.  Whether it will happen fast or unfold slowly, I don’t know, but it’s coming. Digital and crytpocurrency is just part of it.

Quite a few people have been predicting an economic or even a total civilizational collapse. Another sizable part of the population seems to assume society will continue to progress unimpeded no matter what, driven by forces of history. I’m not sold on either view.  I can see more and more people working for themselves, selling their services to each other, largely via internet. A Korean artist designs a CD cover for an Australian guitarist and a drummer in Japan who started a band and ship their t-shirts to America through Amazon, all of them getting paid through Paypal or Litecoin. I don’t have a fully developed concept just yet, but I envision a large scale decentralization across the entire spectrum – economic, political, social, technical, and more.

Listen to the sound of money

Doesn’t that bass line sound a little like the opening riff to this song?

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I woulda called it “Kings Hoard” but I didn’t want to disappoint all the Warcraft fans.

3D 9mm

First working 3D printed metal handgun made by Solid Concepts. Huffington Post says we’re doomed.

I want this.

The IHOP Is Full

Friedman looks back at the first decade of the 21st century and wonders, “in a world of limited resources, how did I eat that much?”

Thomas Friedman writes for the International House of Pancakes Menu

In the hyperconnected world we live in, nothing is off limits, which is to say that when the phone rang at the Beijing Hilton I picked up and knew it was one of my Arab friends immediately. “If you have something good,” he said to me, mysteriously, “You can always have something better.” I tapped the message into my notepad app. It was only later, playing golf in the fuzzy green indoor 18 hole arena reserved for visiting businessmen from Europe and America, that I realized what the proverb meant. If you have French toast, stuff it with strawberries and vanilla frosting. If you stuff your French toast, put whipped cream and fruit sauce on top. It’s as simple as that and investments work the same way. I call it the Bettering.

A leading cause of population waistline growth

A leading cause of population growth. Taiwanese “big ‘n’ tall” factories are ramping up production

Nobody’s gonna get this but me, probably, but so what?

H/T to Kids Prefer Cheese

Pacific Rim

I recently saw Pacific Rim with Allie and her family. They asked if I wanted to go along, and explained that it was about “giant monsters fighting giant robots.” I decided it would be a fun lark, expecting a sillyass popcorn flick with good special FX. To quote director Guillermo del Toro, “We cannot pretend this is Ibsen with monsters and giant robots. I cannot pretend I’m doing a profound reflection on mankind.”

If you haven’t seen it yet and plan to, you might wanna stop reading here.

Even though it was live-action, this was the biggest, baddest, most hardcore anime ever. Giant monsters and robots, explosions, cities being razed, incredible effects, insane weapons, and a battle cry of “This is for my family!” Some of the action scenes are a little too dark, but the colors are so vivid it almost doesn’t matter. Amazing camera work as well. There’s minimal blood and guts – children around 8 years old or older should be able to handle the movie just fine.

But what surprised me a little was that there was an actual story, and how it was handled. Del Toro said, “I shot about an hour more of material than is in the movie. Every character had a bigger arc, the characters were more complex. But I was really trying to strike the balance where I said,… let me try to get each character to its minimal requirements to have an arc that has a beginning, middle and end, and a payoff.”

I think this helped the movie quite a bit. None of the navel-gazing or handwringing that can be found in nearly any other movie these days. No overblown soliloquies about courage, duty, or sacrifice – they just do it. If a movie with themes like this can be made (by a pacifist, at that) and do well, then maybe Western civilization isn’t totally down the crapper yet.

This is the movie that “Man Of Steel” should have been.