Stupid things

That stupid equality vs equity picture

You may have seen this sort of graphic succinctly illustrating the difference between “equality” and “equity”:

It’s actually completely unhelpful in the context of the discussions it’s usually utilized in, as it takes completely for granted the main issues with setting any sort of policy based on such a distinction, namely:

  1. Who precisely gets to determine for what disparities “equity” is needed?
  2. Who precisely gets to determine by what metrics “equity” will be measured?
  3. Who precisely gets to determine by what means “equity” will be determined, produced, and distributed?
  4. Who precisely must pay for production and distribution of these means of “equity”?

Each question is so easily corruptible that the entire distinction is, in general, of little practical value. Unless the context is defined as narrowly as illustrated, the difference between “equality” and “equity” is a frivolous point.

By S P Hannifin, ago

Weird thoughts from weird dreams

I took a nap this afternoon for two reasons. Firstly, my internal clock has been completely out of whack for about the last week and my body seems to think that 2 PM is bed time, and secondly because I had a headache that made doing just about anything else painful. (And I still have it; it’s diminished, but won’t go away.)

During this nap I had some weird dreams. It begins with me walking through a huge crowded city with enormous skyscrapers lining the streets. I’m trying to get somewhere, back to a hotel or something. And as I’m walking down a sidewalk, a huge storm of comes barrelling out of nowhere, tearing apart buildings and obliterating everything in its path, and voosh, it kills me.

I wake up, still tired with a headache, so I roll over and go back to sleep.

I return to the city. Same place. Same thing happens. Storm comes out of nowhere, wrecks the city and kills me.

Then I restart the dream in a different place, and the dream becomes semi-lucid, I’m aware that I’m in a dream and that a storm is going to come out of nowhere and kill me, so it becomes sort of like a game. I try running into a building before the storm hits me, but it still kills me. I try getting on a train, but the storm still kills me. I try talking to other people, warning them that a storm is coming, but that doesn’t help.

Then I start moving toward the storm to find out where it’s coming from, and I find that it’s being created at the top of a tall skyscraper where people are partying and a rock band is playing; it’s like they’re summoning it, stirring up the clouds above them with their noises.

Having discovered the source of the storm, I am somehow able to evade its path of destruction, but something else ends up killing me anyway. I fall out of a window or a building topples on me.

And now for the finale of the dream, which makes no sense.

Finally, after having been killed many times in this city, I find myself in a large white room with two others (who took on the bodily forms of two old dead actors, whom I won’t name because it seems ridiculous in waking life). We were looking at a slide presented on a projection screen which displayed a little squiggle at the center of a large circle.

“We did it!” one of the old guys said, smiling and giving me a hug. I had a vision that the city was now completely devoid of all life and motion; it was empty and still. Somehow this was a victory.

Looking at the slide, I understood that the squiggle in the center represented the storm, while the large circle around it represented… our soul’s understanding and experience of it, or something. So we had gained victory over the storm not by destroying the storm, but by growing the circle around it large enough that it diminished in its relative significance. And we had grown the metaphorical circle by continually trying to escape the storm, even though the storm always won.

At this moment I had a few insights, which seemed profound in the dream:

One insight was that the soul “solves” problems (at least certain sorts of problems) by growing around them, not by annihilating them (which it does not have the power to do by itself).

“Aha,” I said, trying to put this realization into words, “The bridge one must cross becomes the cross one must bear.” I thought that was very profound.

The old guy laughed and replied, “Yes, but don’t say that; it won’t make sense to anyone.”

In the dream, I thought, but I must share it, it’s so profound! Upon waking, I realize that “bearing your cross” is already filled with enough varied meaning for people that adding the metaphor of crossing a bridge is only likely to obfuscate it. (Although I thought the double meaning of the word “cross” was interesting.)

Another insight was that life experiences are like movies on a screen. The soul, or the consciousness, or whatever, is like the movie screen, while the movie is the experience of life. The screen is necessary for the movie to exist, it remains existing even after the movie’s over, and the movie can never hurt or damage the screen. The sufferings of life are like the conflicts in the movie; they’re real from the point of view of the movie, but they’re illusory from the point of view of the screen. The screen remains pure and untouched. (How to actually separate what is the movie and what is the screen is perhaps very difficult while the movie is still playing; it’s hard to really see the screen “behind” the movie, they seem like one thing while the movie is playing.)

The final insight is the most difficult to express in words, but I will try. The soul does not solve its problems with logic, but rather with experience and Free Will. Actually everyone probably intuitively understands this when it comes to something like love. Where does love for someone come from? It’s not the result of some kind of logical deduction. But the insight is more than that; it’s that everything the soul grows or becomes is “beyond” logic. This is not to say that logic is “wrong” or unimportant; it is useful, important, and an undeniable part of worldly existence. The soul still “contains” logic. But soul growth comes from the use of Free Will in response to experiences, from decisions of the heart, on which logic itself is founded in first place.

Another example may be: why do you enjoy a piece of music? You don’t follow logical arguments for or against it; it is simply in the nature of the music to emotionally move you. There may be some logical basis for the music, the mathematical structures behind the harmonies of the sound, the physical nature of the neurons firing in your brain as the sounds vibrate through your ear’s cochlea. But the emotional experience of the music is beyond all that, even if it depends on it for its physical manifestation.

Reading back over all that, I’m not sure if any of it is interesting or makes much sense, but I thought it worth writing about for at least my own interest.

I still often think back to that strangely vivid dream I had in 2018, Two weeks in another world, in which I thought the dream lasted for an entire two weeks. Obviously I was not in a coma for two weeks; the dream really only lasted a few hours or perhaps even a few minutes. But what exactly does “really” even mean? In waking life, we perceive a world through our senses and derive meaning out of it, but just how “real” is that meaning? We could say it is not real at all, because it is entirely open to interpretation; different interpretations of the same set of perceptions create different meanings. On the other hand, we could say those meanings are the ultimate reality, because it is with and through those meanings that we experience the world and exercise our Free Will, our very being. So if defining the nature of reality is difficult enough with waking life, what about dreams?

The experience of speaking with others in dreams is what mystifies me the most. In a dream, I am not consciously thinking or deciding what another being says, so just where the heck do his words come from?! I suppose it could be something like GPT-3, just a bunch of connections in the language part of the brain firing randomly? And perhaps when it says something seemingly profound, it’s just a matter of survivorship bias; it outputs mostly nonsense, but when it outputs something that the conscious mind responds well to, it gets remembered and seems more mystifying than it actually is. That might be it.

Dreaming is fun! More dreams please!

By S P Hannifin, ago

A bit of new Mozart!

A short but previously lost piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was recently performed just last week on January 27th, Mozart’s 265th birthday. The brief allegro can be heard below:

A bit more about the piece from the Mozarteum Foundation:

The present Allegro in D major for piano was hitherto known only from 20th-century sales and auction catalogues, where it had been described as a “sketch for a composition for orchestra or chamber ensemble”. On the basis of this vague information, musicologist Alfred Einstein assigned the piece the number App. 109g/16 in the third edition of the so-called Koechel catalogue, which finally became K. 626b/16 in the sixth edition. A music-loving engineer bought the autograph manuscript in an antiquarian bookstore in Paris in the late 1920s; his descendants kept it in the  Netherlands for 90 years. When the manuscript was offered to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation it became immediately evident that it was not merely a sketch, but a complete work for piano in Mozart’s own handwriting, a piece unrelated to all known compositions. Finds of this kind have become extremely rare; the last comparable case was the rediscovery of the Allegro in F major for piano, K. 33B in 1937.

Although short, I think the work is ingenius. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it’ll be perfect.

By S P Hannifin, ago

There are no silent saints

This video was posted back in October, but I just came across it yesterday and thought it worth sharing. Former child actor Bug Hall (best known for playing Alfalfa in 1994’s The Little Rascals) talks about living the Catholic faith with integrity vs working in Hollywood. He also discusses being a victim of abuse, so it is emotionally weighty:

Listening to the video, I could not help but think of our devoutly Catholic president1 and his support for objectively anti-Catholic policies. It is hard not to wonder at what point the “Catholic” label ceases to be meaningful. Regardless of what’s in his heart, you know the press will take the opportunity to further propagandize the notion that Catholics need not adhere at all to fundamental Catholic teachings in word or deed.2

(ETA: Oh look, right on schedule, about 4 hours after I posted this, some propaganda from NYT: In Biden’s Catholic Faith, an Ascendant Liberal Christianity. It’s so utterly blatant and predictable. Give me a break.)

Some institutions have it worse than others (academia, Hollywood), but there is immense social (and financial) pressure to conform by keeping such controversial Catholic views to the self; sharing such controversial views is “divisive” and you will quickly be villified as prejudiced, sexist, racist, etc. Even other Catholics will encourage you to keep “confrontational” beliefs on the down low until more “unification” has occurred, as though an acceptance of the Church’s teaching on abortion (or some other controversial issue) will somehow slip in through a friendly backdoor. As Bishop Robert McElroy states: “It is a pathway of reconciliation that places the healing of our society ahead of any specific policy issue, in the recognition that repairing the soul of our country is the pre-requisite for any sustainable effort to advance the common good.”

It’s true that we don’t want to miss the forest for the trees; the Church’s teaching on abortion is not a stand-alone issue, but part of a broader logically and spiritually consistent understanding. But how can you do any “healing” or “soul repairing” when purposefully silent about such fundamental issues? Again, what’s the thought process? That someone will say, “You know, you’ve been really nice to me for a long time, I think I’ll go ahead and listen to your thoughts on contentious issues now.” Being up front and honest about such contentious foundational issues are part of healing.3

As Hall says at the end of the video:

There are no silent saints. No one was canonized because they snuck around and were secretive about their beliefs. … I’m not talking about secretly going to Mass, I’m talking about speaking the truth when the opportunity presented itself.

¡Viva, Cristo Rey!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Propped Up Corpse

In the 2018 horror film The Nun, a young woman meets a kindly old abbess in a convent who keeps her shadowy face veiled in black. Later in the film, when the heroine returns and finds the old woman sitting eerily still, she is shocked to discover why the old lady’s face is kept veiled: the abbess is dead. The heroine’s been talking to the shriveled rotting flesh of a blackened corpse all along.

Maybe that’s not the best metaphor, but the 2020 presidential election does kind of remind me of it. Why is nobody allowed to examine the machines or audit the ballots? Why are profoundly important court cases rejected on trivial technicalities? Because not only was the last election full of fraud, but national elections have been that way for a while. The mask just slipped a bit too far this time. We’ve been living in the shadow of a propped up corpse.

As someone tweeted:

Prob the longest-lasting effect of Trump’s presidency will be that ppl saw the degree to which heretofore kinda hidden power had to reeeeally flex to oppose him. This is true whether one liked/supported Trump or not.

To which someone else replied:

We saw the sausages being made and it’s full of pig a******s and bugs.

Thanks for that lovely image. I’m reminded of the end of Sweeney Todd when Toby discovers what’s in the meat grinder.

So what now? Unfortunately I still have no idea.

Two things seem clear to me, though:

  1. You can’t vote your way to a fair election. There are a lot of politicians who seem to want to have their cake and eat it too; they want Trump out, but they want us to keep faith in elections. They suggest that we’ve just got to let the questionable results of this election slide and prepare for the next one, which will totally be more secure, for sure. Of course, if this election has taught us that it is impossible to investigate apparent election fraud and futile to try, why should the next election be any different? (This also means it’s pointless to listen to political pundits telling you what to be mad about next. What are you gonna do about it, vote?)
  2. The courts will not uphold election laws. So filing and arguing about lawsuits in regards to elections is also a waste of time and energy.

If the puppet masters care about the illusion of fair elections, perhaps investigations will continue and they’ll say, “aha, yep, there definitely was some fraud here, but not enough to change the outcome, and now we fixed it!” Perhaps there will be some “Republican” victories in the 2022 midterms. Perhaps they’ll even grant us another “Republican” president in 2024, after Biden and Harris finish whatever evil plots they’re being installed for.

And I do think they’re being installed for a reason. Four more years of Trump doesn’t seem like it should be too harsh of a price to pay for reinforcing the illusion of a fair election while sliding the slow knife further in, so something must’ve made the allowance of obvious fraud worth the risk. Maybe Trump’s anti-China policies were causing too much strife for the economic overlords. Maybe they want to get the Middle East war machine up and roaring again. Maybe they’re genuinely afraid for our national security for some secret reason.

Regardless, I don’t see the point in voting anymore. The mask slipped too far. You can’t just reposition it and make me think it’s your real face again.

I can’t blame other voters. I can’t say: “Well, you voted for this!” As I wrote in an earlier post, if an election is fraudulent, nobody’s vote counts. Voting differently would not have changed much.

The whole “storming the Capitol” stunt was a sad and evil exploitation of useful idiots1 to serve as news cycle fodder and distraction propaganda so we’d all gawk and share impassioned opinions about that instead and use it to justify preplanned political ends. Do you really think the Capitol of the most powerful nation in the world couldn’t keep out a couple hundred hooligans with flag poles if it thought it absolutely had to? I’m not saying police were in on it or that it was staged, just that there were bad actors who intentionally put the pieces in place for that to happen. The resulting propaganda is reaching North Korean levels of blatant ridiculousness. It should be glaringly obvious to everyone.

Speaking of stupid pills, I think you can abandon the preposterous “QAnon” hopium conspiracy theories, which promise shocking revelations and surprise victories just around the corner and encourage you to just keep holding your breath until you pass out.

As the execution of all power ultimately depends on the strength of the iron hand, those who are granted legal authority to use physical force to enforce the law (military, police) will have to decide from where that authority comes if not from fairly elected officials according to the US Constitution.

As for the rest of us, I’m not sure we peasants can do much at the moment. (Other than keep a level head.)

Although this election fraud is a serious issue, it is also a temporary and worldly one; our souls were made for a different world, so keep any spiritual distress in check by keeping things in perspective. The goal here is to grow in love of God and neighbor; let’s keep that our spiritual focus.

For further reading, here are a few other articles. I do not claim to agree or disagree with all their points, I just thought they were interesting:

By S P Hannifin, ago

Random thoughts on Netlfix’s The Queen’s Gambit

I finished watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix recently. Here are some random thoughts:

Competent protrayal of chess

While the show’s story centers around competition chess, it’s not really about chess at all, it’s about characters, and in that regard it does a good job of capturing the drama of the game by focusing on characters’ emtional reactions to chess moves instead of the games themselves. This is the same sort of thing they did in Searching for Bobby Fischer. At the same time, it doesn’t try to dummy down chess concepts so the audience can understand them, like the stupid gravity assist scene in The Martian, where a character over-explains a relatively simple science concept to colleagues who should not be that stupid for the sake of the audience. Or this ridiculously stupid scene from Hidden Figures in which a NASA scientist is skeptical of Euler’s method because “it’s ancient”; trying to show the brilliance of a character by having others be over-the-top stupid.

I also appreciated that no one hit the clock with the wrong hand, a pet peeve of mine when chess master characters show up on TV.

Obsession as comfort

The “tortured genius” character is certainly cliché (Good Will Hunting, bleh!), and there is a bit of that, but chess does not really come easily or naturally to Beth Harmon. She is shown constantly studying the game. What is rare is not her innate “genius” but rather her ability to become entirely obsessed with it, to be able to focus on it for long periods of time, even without a physical board. This is likely a coping mechanism for dealing with personal trauma. As she says, “It was the board I noticed first. It’s an entire world of just 64 squares. I feel safe in it. I can control it. I can dominate it. And it’s predictable. So if I get hurt, I have only myself to blame.” Quite self-aware! Some have wondered if Bobby Fischer’s obsession with chess during childhood provided a similar escape or sense of comfort; he was raised by a single mother who was an outspoken political activist. Perhaps, but in the real world such an overpowering obsession at a young age is still rare, so whatever is going on in an obsessor’s brain is probably more complicated than that.


The green pills Beth takes throughout the show appear to be fictional (unfotunately, because I want some) but they remind me of ADHD meds. They’ve been used to calm children down, they help people focus, people can abuse them, and they might improve your chess game. From this article:

According to a new study in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, two prescription drugs can help chess players compete: modafinil and methylphenidate. The former is sold as Alertec, Modavigil, and Provigil, and the other is best known as Ritalin. Participants in the study were dosed with these drugs, and then their chess playing abilities were observed. While the drugs resulted in test subjects playing more slowly, they also increased their performance. Using modafinil improved player’s results by 15 percent, while methylphenidate improved results by 13 percent.

… International chess tournaments began incorporating drug testing in 2001

So Harmon is lucky that she got obsessed with chess at just the right time in American history when she could earn money and fame from the game and at a time when they didn’t do any drug testing! (She could even get a benzodiazepine over the counter in Germany!)


Overall, I have mixed feelings about the show. It was well-made and well-scripted, but the emotional journey wasn’t all that engaging to me, a lot of supporting characters were a bit cliché and two-dimensional, and of course chess tournaments are portrayed as very fancy and dramatic, very “Hollywood”. But then, like any movie or show about “geniuses”, the audience is never really asked to relate to all the boring studying that makes the rest possible; we are only asked to empathize with the fun parts: the attention, the applause, the success, the failures, the opportunities, the traveling, etc. It can give a very false day-dreamy impression of “genius”, which is really 99 percent perspiration. But that’s almost always the case in any fictional portrayal of someone successful. The grunt work is boring.

The real trick to being a genius is, as Harmon shows us: childhood trauma! No, not that, but rather love / obsession, not for the sake of fame and money that would make a biographical show interesting, but the willingness to work hard at something you’re interested in when there’s no guarantee of any reward beyond your self-satisfaction.

(On a side note, the word “genius” is really just an opinion of someone’s work. In fiction, you can create empathy for a character by having other characters admire their “genius”. But in fiction you have the advantage of being able to empathize with a character while also being able to consider them from the outside, to see them as other characters might see them. It’s a sort of strange dichotomy you can’t really experience in the real world.)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Fiction books

Fiction Books I Want to Read This Year 2021

The new year has arrived! I don’t think I’ll do a “Year’s Best” post for 2020. I did not see enough movies nor read enough books, and the ones I did really weren’t that great. Maybe 2021 will be a better year for new movies, but I’m not sure there’s much of interest on the horizon. I just hope some 3D movies will return to the big screen before the year’s end; the pandemic seems to have annihilated them completely.

I only read 5 books in 2020. To be more precise, I only completed 5 books. (I read a lot of miscellaneous chapters from various nonfiction books, but I’m not counting those.) These books include:

  1. Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement by Rich Karlgaard. A forgettable book in my opinion. “Some people achieve their greatest potential later in life.” That’s it. That’s the book.
  2. A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe. A fun little sci-fi / fantasy mystery, my favorite read of the year (not that there’s much competition.) I believe a sequel has recently been published posthumously which I’d like to get my hands on at some point.
  3. Farlander by Col Buchanan. An aging assassin takes on an unlikely apprentice while pursuing a dangerous vendetta. The writing is nice and the story has some interesting surprises. Fun read.
  4. Dune by Frank Herbert. Basically it’s The Lion King, but on a sandy planet with prophecies, mystical powers, powerful spice, giant worms, and weird names. And it’s dull, dull, unbearably dull. I hated it.
  5. Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg. A collection of short stories all taking place on the same weird planet. Some stories feature some interesting ideas, but most of them fluff out with stupid overly-convenient or uneventful endings. I think Silverberg does horror or dark fantasy the best; when he tries to have things end more nicely for the characters it just feels less satisfying to me for some reason.

Those are all the books I actually finished in 2020; in August I began reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and I’m still only about half-way through it. It’s a long book, and these characters are growing a bit dull on me, so I haven’t been reading it daily. (I suppose technically it’s a book series, as it was originally published serially.) Hopefully it will not take me another five months to finish the second half.

Here’s my current (non-exhaustive) to-read list for 2021, at least fiction-wise:

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Finishing the 2nd half.
  2. Stands a Shadow by Col Buchanan. This is the sequel to the aforementioned Farlander. I’m actually already about 80 pages into it as I didn’t want to lug around War and Peace one day.
  3. Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson. One of my favorite authors, and I really enjoyed Reamde, so I’m looking forward to this one as well. A long book, but his prose generally flows pretty nicely.
  4. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This is the 3rd book in his Stormlight Chronicles series. The 4th book just came out in 2020, so I’m behind. I really enjoyed the 1st book, but the 2nd book was a bit “meh” for me.
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Been wanting to read Mr. D for a while.
  6. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.
  7. The Drawing of Three and The Waste Lands by Stephen King. Books 2 and 3 of his Dark Tower series.
  8. The Vindication of Man by John C. Wright. The 5th book in his Count to the Eschaton Sequence. Another of my favorite authors. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far; it’s at times very thought-provoking, at times complete bonkers crazy, and sometimes both. Super fun sci-fi.
  9. The Kingdom of the Gods by In-Wan Youn. This is the graphic novel which inspired the recent Netflix series Kingdom, of which I enjoyed a couple episodes, although I think the book and show are quite different plot-wise. Looks like fun though.

Some of those books are a bit long, and I’m a slow reader, so there’s no telling if I can actually finish all those in a single year. And there’s of course plenty more I’d love to read, so I might change my mind about some of those in favor of others. That’s also not counting any non-fiction books, of which I have bookmarks in at least a dozen. We’ll see how it goes.

Happy New Year to all!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Anomaly detected

In the first episode of the Netflix crime thriller Ozark, a drug lord tests some of his workers with a little story: His aunt worked in his father’s grocery store and one day his father caught her stealing from him. What should his father do?

The main character responds: “Fire her. It’s not the first time she stole from you. It’s the first time you caught her.”

The Anomalies

I do not claim that any of the issues listed below are smoking guns that in and of themselves prove anything, only that they deserve attention and scrutiny rather than being too quickly dismissed.

Dead people absentee ballots

Someone on Twitter pointed out:

Turns out 118 year old “William Bradley” voted via absentee ballot in Wayne County, Michigan. William Bradley died in 1984.

How long has this been going on?

Try it for yourself:

I indeed checked it for myself and the site did indeed confirm that the dead man received and sent back an absentee ballot. Politifact, which is independent and not biased (we know because they say so), has rated this false because “A city elections official said that no ballot was cast for the now deceased Bradley.” The New York Times assures us that they’re just “run-of-the-mill clerical errors.” Whew! But then, being reassured by the source of your initial distrust (“a city election official”) is hardly compelling. Imagine a murder suspect on trial. Judge: “How do you plead?” Suspect: “Not guilty, Your Honor.” Judge: “Well, that settles that; if you were guilty, you would’ve said so, so the court is adjourned! See you at home, son.” Anyway, the same thing is happening for other names of deceased. At the very least, all deceased names should be double-checked. (And why the heck don’t they, gee I don’t know, purge supercentenarians from their database?)

Software “glitches”

Dozens of Michigan counties used the same software that caused 6,000 votes in one county to switch from Trump to Biden. As a programmer, I’d love to learn how such software “glitches”? I don’t buy it; tabulating software is probably not that complicated. (Keeping the data secure is the more complicated part.) The glitch was either gross human incompetence or voting fraud. Googling around, one can find articles on machine-hacking voter fraud happening before, this from a 2018 election, Beto O’Rourke vs Ted Cruz (was it really that close?):

In essence, security protections in software (operated on voting machines throughout the country) had been purposely disabled or ‘un-activated’; penetration of the machines was possible via online access methods widely understood among reasonably sophisticated IT people; and mismatches in time-stamped dataflows suggest votes were changed.

Again, this isn’t “proof” of fraud, but it does deserve more scrutiny. (Even counties that are “red” and “go to Trump” should be scrutinized; if any totals are artificially manipulated, it would still affect the state’s total.)

Statistical surprises & stuff

Quoting writer Larry Correia here:

The massive turn out alone is a red flag.

But as for doing better…

The late night spikes that were enough to close all the Trump leads are a red flag.

The statistically impossible breakdown of the ratios of these vote dumps is a red flag.

The ratios of these dumps being far better than the percentages in the bluest of blue cities, even though the historical data does not match, red flag.

The ratios of these vote dumps favoring Biden more in these few battlegrounds than the ratio for the rest of the country (even the bluest of the blue) red flag.

Biden outperforming Obama among these few urban vote dumps, even though Trump picked up points in every demographic group in the rest of the country, red flag.

The poll observers being removed. Red flag.

The counters cheering as GOP observers are removed, red flag.

The fact that the dem observers outnumber the GOP observers 3 to 1, red flag (and basis of the first lawsuit filed)

The electioneering at the polls (on video), red flag.

The willful violation of the court order requiring the separation of ballots by type, red flag.

USPS whistleblower reporting to the Inspector General that today they were ordered to backdate ballots to yesterday, red flag.

The video of 2 AM deliveries of what appear to be boxes of ballots with no chain of custody or other observers right before the late night miracle spikes, red flag.

(Edit: Also see There is Undeniable Mathematical Evidence the Election is Being Stolen.)

What’s the major new ingredient of this election? Mail-in ballots. Never before used them at such a scale, but they’re secure and fraud is rare. They said so on the news. (Not back in 2012, but ignore that.)

As Correia says:

I am more offended by how ham fisted, clumsy, and audacious the fraud to elect him is than the idea of Joe Biden being president. I think Joe Biden is a corrupt idiot, however, I think America would survive him like we’ve survived previous idiot administrations. However, what is potentially fatal for America is half the populace believing that their elections are hopelessly rigged and they’re eternally f***ed. And now, however this shakes out in court, that’s exactly what half the country is going to think.

If you’re going to cheat, the best way to do it is slowly and subtly, not blatantly. But that’s why the Ozark quote came to my mind. It’s not a perfect analogy, but the point is to consider what information you might be missing. If you catch someone telling a lie, how many other lies have they told undetected? If you spot one person shoplifting, how many shoplifters have already flown under the radar? If you find even one stolen vote, how many more have slipped through unnoticed?

But I guess if not enough people care (or believe), it doesn’t matter? (“The emperor has no clothes!” said the child, without evidence.)

Problem is, even if you don’t care during this election cycle because it’s the outcome you hoped for, what makes you so sure it won’t be used against you? That is, if the election result is dishonest, all votes are nullified.

So what now?

For now, I guess we can only wait for the courts to weigh in. The biggest problem is that even if the voting is investigated (which is up to the courts I guess?), it’s virtually impossible to know whether or not the final count is honest or if the fraud is just dulled to a less suspicious but otherwise effective level (if at all). What election accountability can be offered to an average citizen? (What you should definitely not do is go rioting or looting, like some people like to do. And anyway, while the presidency and the right to a free and fair election may be dangerous to tamper with (if we ever really had that in the first place), the real disasters are a bit further down the domino line.)

Quick note on abortion

Only tangentially related, but a few months ago some siblings and I were discussing the issue of abortion insofar as voting Democrat vs Republican was concerned, and a quote from Sister Joan Chittister came up:

I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

This is a sentiment which I’ve heard echoed from several other Catholics, the implication being, as far as I can tell, that the issue of murdering unborn children is really of little political importance because Republicans’ pro-life stance is actually just “pro-birth”; as Chittister implies, Republicans don’t actually care about unborn children. How does she know? Because they disagree with how tax money should be spent.

Two problems with this: 1) It’s an illogical assumption of bad faith, an ad hominem. “You don’t care because you disagree on tax policy!” No, disagreeing on tax policy is not evidence of indifference. 2) Even if it were true that Republicans were indeed “pro-birth” instead of “pro-life”, so what? That still wouldn’t justify killing babies. “Killing unborn babies is wrong.” “Well, you don’t really care… so actually it’s OK.” No; whether murdering unborn babies is right or wrong should not depend on what you think someone else actually thinks.

I’m tempted to go on about how merely throwing tax money at social problems is not necessarily helpful in and of itself, and is hardly representative of the sort of charity that Christianity calls for, but maybe I’ll do that later.

By S P Hannifin, ago

Quick TuneSage progress update

I haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought I’d give a very brief progress update on TuneSage.

I’m currently finishing work on the melody generator, which is the heart of TuneSage, as I think melodies are the strongest driving force of music. I’m hoping I can start releasing some examples by the end of the week. And whenever I start releasing examples, I’ll try to release multiple examples per day until TuneSage actually launches to try and build up some anticipation.

I’ve rewritten the melody generator from scratch, so it will hopefully perform much better than any other version I’ve written so far.

I want to launch TuneSage as soon as possible, preferably before the holidays. I’m currently aiming for November 25th since that’s my birthday. Upon its initial release, it will likely be “bare bones” feature-wise. You’ll be able to generate melodies and chord progressions, but probably not much else.

That said, there’s still a ton of work to do on the front-end, so I probably won’t make that November 25th deadline, but I’ll try my best.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Interesting things

Jurassic Park as plotted by AI

Lately I’ve been fooling around with, particularly its “Dragon” model, which is perhaps based on GPT-3 (though I’m not sure). While the app is biased towards generating second-person adventure game text, I have found it fun to feed it some plot summaries and let it generate a continuation. The results are nonsense, illogical, and inconsistent, but funny.

In regards to story writing, the app can be a lot of fun for generating random ideas, but it’s just about useless (so far as I can tell) for generating appropriately constrained ideas, which are far more important to story writing. Stories, after all, have to go somewhere. Plots develop, characters develop, tensions rise and fall, etc. With only random ideas, the story just kind of meanders around randomly. Perhaps some of its pointless meandering can be tamed with proper prompting, but I have not yet found an effective strategy to achieve this. Perhaps future apps will be better designed for such a purpose, but perhaps it is just an inherent limitation with the AI model itself.

Below are the results of one of my expirements with having the app continue the plot of Jurassic Park. The first three paragraphs are copied from Wikipedia’s plot summary of the film, and the rest is from the AI. You can see that it makes very little sense, and would make a pretty terrible movie, but I found it humorous.

Another experiment involved having it continue the plot of the film Clue, in which Mr. Boddy’s ghost terrorizes the guests and Mrs. Peacock kills Mr. Green with an icicle. In yet another, the AI continued a biography of Mozart by having him get married at age nine and grow up to play pianos in taverns and murder his cousins.

Here’s the Jurassic Park plot continuation (the first three paragraphs are the prompt):

Industrialist John Hammond has created a theme park of cloned dinosaurs, Jurassic Park, on Isla Nublar, a Costa Rican island. After a dinosaur handler is killed by a Velociraptor, the park’s investors, represented by lawyer Donald Gennaro, demand that experts visit the park and certify its safety. Gennaro invites mathematician and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm, while Hammond invites paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. Upon arrival, the group is shocked to see a live Brachiosaurus.

At the park’s visitor center, the group learns that the cloning was accomplished by extracting dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes preserved in amber. DNA from frogs was used to fill in gaps in the genome of the dinosaurs. To prevent breeding, all the dinosaurs were made female. Malcolm scoffs at the idea, saying that it will inevitably break down. The group witnesses the hatching of a baby Velociraptor and visits the raptor enclosure. During lunch, the group debates the ethics of cloning and the creation of the park, and Malcolm warns about the implications of genetic engineering.

The group is joined by Hammond’s grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy, for a tour of the park, while Hammond oversees the tour from the control room. The tour does not go as planned, with most of the dinosaurs failing to appear and the group encountering a sick Triceratops. It is cut short as a tropical storm approaches Isla Nublar. Most of the park employees leave for the mainland on a boat while the visitors return to their electric tour vehicles, except Sattler, who stays behind with the park’s veterinarian to study the Triceratops.

[AI’s continuation]

Meanwhile, Malcolm enters the control room to find that the computer system has been sabotaged. He hacks into the system and finds that Hammond is dead and his son Michael has taken over. As he attempts to escape, he runs afoul of an angry Tyrannosaurus rex who chases him through a tunnel leading out of the building. He returns to his car where he is attacked by two more T-Rexes.

Malcolm manages to drive away, but is pursued by a third T-Rex. A fourth one follows, which knocks him off the road and onto a rocky hillside. He calls out for help and is rescued by Ellie Sattler, who drives up alongside his car and opens fire on the pursuing Tyrannosaurs. She kills them both with her rifle before they can reach Malcolm again.

Back at the visitor center, Malcolm tells Ellie that she saved his life and that he owes her a debt of gratitude. She asks if he wants to come back to the island with her, but he declines. He says there are things here he needs to do first. Meanwhile, Hammond’s grandson Lex has returned from the mainland and reports what happened to his father. While he’s explaining the situation, Hammond notices through a window that one of the rival bioengineers, Ed Regis, is in his proximity.

Hammond rushes out and shoots Regis multiple times before being restrained. He declares that they are at war, before ordering the computer system to be destroyed with a flamethrower.

The film then cuts to the outside of the visitor center, where there is a scream of pain from Ian Malcolm as the building explodes.

The following morning, law enforcement arrives on the island. Gennaro briefs them on the situation. While searching for survivors, they discover that all of the dinosaurs have been killed. The footprints discovered near the visitor center belong to a henchman working for the island’s owner, Peter Ludlow. Ludlow had learned that Hammond was dead and believed that he could get away with claiming the island. He also realized that he was trapped there with several hostile dinosaurs.

The second coup happens in the hospital room where John Hammond lies dying. His granddaughter Kelly has taken over his role as head of InGen and has accelerated the timetable for building a new Jurassic Park in San Diego. However, a police sniper takes her out from a nearby building, mistaking her for Ludlow. The blame shifts to Ludlow. The actual culprit is Ed Regis, who storms the room.

After killing Ludlow with a gunshot to the face, he shouts out that he didn’t kill anyone and that Ian Malcolm was the murderer before escaping via helicopter. With InGen destroyed, Hammond dead, Ludlow dead and Regis on the run, a third shadowy group is suggested as being responsible for the attacks. The investigation suggests that they have no known motive or target.

The book ends with ‘DNA donkeys’, a note about the next entry in the series Tey cats and a reminder that there are fourteen new engravings made out to readers of this book.

By S P Hannifin, ago