log (2007/10/26 to 2007/11/01)

A reader writes:


Hey, yeah, wow, look!

So! I shouldn't lead off with the fact that the little daughter is apparently the valedictorian of her high school class (haha oops yay). Or that for the first time in history she didn't go out for Trick or Treat (and her little brother did, but costumeless). Time apparently continues to pass!

In World of Warcraft, lil Spennix has made level 40, and (due to a huge loan from a wealthy high-level friend) has bought (and learned to ride, which was the expensive part) her very own mechanical chicken, I mean, Mechanostrider, an' can now rush about much faster (at least on those long-haul trips through known safe territory where she doesn't want to be stealthed; she's always more comferble stealted).

So woot there!

And let's see. In Second Life things continue just about as chaotically as ever, and omg CSI:NY and all like that. I also didn't see the show; apparently it's on television.

Nonsequitur o' the week: in the course of some NPR show about the use of fMRI for lie detection (a subject that I have extremely mixed and unbaked ideas about in general) someone worried that the people doing the lie detection via fMRI weren't trained medical diagnosticians and didn't have treatment facilities and stuff, and what if in doing an fMRI they found that someone seemed to have a brain tumor or something?

"This," he said, paraphrasing, "is something that we need to think about very carefully."

An' I'm completely baffled.

I mean, what if someone's gramma hears someone cough an' says to someone "That's a nasty cough, dear, maybe you should see a doctor"? Is that also something that we need to think about very carefully? I mean, gramma isn't a medical diagnostician, and doesn't have treatment facliities! So what are we going to do???

Maybe we could, say, go to the doctor and have it checked out?

I just don't get it.

Here's a video of a guy getting waterboarded, which is pretty interesting. But I don't seem to have gotten the horrified impression that alot of people linking to it have. "This is hard to watch," they're saying, and it proves that this is really torture and we shouldn't be doing it.

Now in fact I do think that it's torture and we shouldn't be doing it, but that feeling has if anything been weakened by this video. The guy had been through it once before, voluntarily went through it again, and after I think they said twenty-five minutes of it they stopp and he sat up and said "That sucked, hahahaha".

Which really doesn't somehow impress me with just how awful and inhuman it must be?


Oh, speaking of Second Life (and not of torture), here's the very interesting Real Hope in a Virtual World, a story about how useful (how surprisingly useful in some cases) these here 3D Immersive Virtual World things can be to people dealing with and/or recovering from various undesirable conditions. I thought that was cool. I keep meaning to go check out the various despression support resources in SL, but I'm generally too busy having fun and although it's likely that I still have depression (otherwise this Effexor(tm) is a large waste of money) I'm very seldom depressed.

Not that I'm complaining. *8)

Paul Krugman is a bit too I don't know explicitly and obviously aligned with a particular part of the conventional political spectrum for my taste, but he's a smart guy and in fact I quite often agree with him and anyway his Gore Derangement Syndrome: What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane? was fun to read.

And speaking of smart guys I'm currently reading (Federal Reserve Chairman Alan) Greenspan's "The Age of Turbulence" and despite the fact that it's a long non-fiction book with lots of people's names in it an' all, it's actually quite interesting and I've read a significant number of pages.

One thing that strikes me, when reading Greenspan's account of various things that the Fed did and didn't do on different occasions, based on various sorts of informations, and the various things that did and didn't happen afterwards as a result, is that I wonder to what extent he's right and to what extent he's misattributing agency to himself and his buds.

There are various studies I can't actually cite right now that show that people tend to conclude that they have more control over the world than they really do; give them a switch to push and a couple of blinking lights and a few hours and they'll conclude that they've gotten better at controlling the lights with the switch even though there's in fact no connection at all between them.

So far Greenspan doesn't seem to have any doubts at all about the fact of agency here, even though he does freely admit that they didn't always have enough information or the right theories or do the right thing. He admits that we aren't very good at controlling the lights, but he doesn't seem to have considered the question of whether the switch is connected at all.

Assuming for the moment that the switch is in fact connected, though, reading the book has given me a new perspective on things like the big bail-out of Mexico the other decade. I always think, when the government gives a lot of money (my money, mind you) to someone large and powerful like Mexico or General Motors or whatever that they really shouldn't have done that and it just encourages them to take risks and hey I'd like a million dollars too if you've got it to toss around!

But Greenspan implies that if I object on principle to giving Mexico lots of money in the form of loan garantees, he might reply "well, we had good reason to think that the economy of North America might well collapse if we didn't and are you sure you would have preferred that?".

And that's sort of tough to answer on grounds of principle. At least when I'm this sleepy.

Also, he says, the mere fact that the loan garantees were there boosted everyone's confidence enough that Mexico hardly had to use them and all and did pay back what they did use and in fact the United States government actually made a few million dollars on the deal, so heh!

(And yeah I expect there's supposed to be a "u" somewhere in "garantee", but at my advanced age and sleepiness I've decided that remembering where isn't one of the things I'm going to accomplish this year.)

Wait! OMFG! It's November! Am I going to write a novel? I haven't decided yet!!