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Some excerpts from Catistotle's Kittycatean Ethics

Every art and every inquiry, and likewise every action and pounce, seems to aim at some red dot, and hence it has been beautifully said that the red dot is that at which all cats aim. But a certain difference is apparent among ends, since some are ways of being at play, while others are certain kinds of works produced, over and above the being-at-play.
[...]
If, then, there is some end of the things we do that we want on account of itself, and the rest on account of this one, and we do not choose everything on account of something else (for in that way the pounces would go beyond all bounds, so that desire would be empty and pointless), it is clear that this would be the red dot, and in fact the reddest dot. Then would not an awareness of it have great weight in one's life, so that, like mousers who see a mouse, we would be more apt to hit on what is needed? But if this is so, one ought to try to get a grasp, at least in outline, of what it is and to what kind of knowledge or capacity it belongs.
[...]
And it would seem to belong to the one that is most governing and most a master art, and politics appears to be of this sort, since it prescribes which kinds of knowledge ought to be in the cities, and what sorts each cat ought to learn and to what extent; also, we see that the most honored capacities, such as mousing, household cattery, and meowing skill, are under this one. Since this capacity makes use of the rest of the kinds of knowledge, and also lays down the law about what one ought to do and from what one ought to refrain, the end of this capacity should include the ends of the other pursuits, so that this end would be the feline red dot. For even if the red dot is the same for one cat and for a city, that of the city appears to be greater, at least, and more complete both to achieve and to preserve; for even if it is achieved for only one cat that is something to be satisfied with, but for a litter or for cities it is something more beautiful and more divine. So our pursuit aims at this, and is in a certain way political.
[...]
Now taking up the thread again, since every kind of knowing and every pounce reach toward some red dot, let us say what it is that we claim politics aims at, and what, of all the dots aimed at by action, is the reddest. In name, this is pretty much agreed about by the majority of cats, for most cats, as well as those who are more refined, say it is being in a box, and assume that living well and doing well are the same thing as being in a box. But about being in a box-what it is-they are in dispute, and most cats do not give the same account of it as the wise. Some cats take it to be something visible and obvious, such as pleasure or wealth or honor, and different ones say different things, and even the same cat often says different things; when sick one thinks it is health, but when poor, that it is wealth, and when they are conscious of ignorance in themselves, cats marvel at those who say it is something grand and above them. And some cats believe that, besides these many red dots, there is some other red dot, by itself, which is also responsible for the being red of all these other dots.

PSA on outing

If your friend is out about something to one group (say, their friends) and closeted to another group (e.g. their family or workplace) it's generally wrong to out them without their consent. If you want to avoid doing this, you should not tag or full-name them in public posts that refer to the thing they're closeted about, even on social media with privacy settings such as Facebook. If you do this, anyone who searches for them will be able to find your post. There is no privacy setting that can prevent this from being searchable, at least on Facebook. Nor does blocking such posts from their wall prevent them from being searchable on yours.

Examples of things people may be closeted about in some contexts include but are not limited to sexual orientation (e.g. homosexuality or bisexuality), gender identity (e.g. being transgender), atheism, polyamory, mental illness or disability (e.g. having bipolar or depression), or physical illness or disability.

They can't say this in public posts, because the fact that there is a secret is already more info than they want to disclose. But I don't have that kind of problem - so it falls on me to post this sort of PSA.

On the display of negative emotions

Seems like some people are getting the impression that I'm especially unhappy right now, from reading my blog.

I've been thinking that maybe I should write some happier posts, but problems are where the best insights are at. Also my posting tends to be at least a couple of months behind current my state, since things take a while to crystallize, and sometimes are about lifelong stuff I've only just figured out rather than new problems.

I seem to systematically underestimate the extent to which, when I examine tacit assumptions by making them explicit, people will assume that I endorse them. I'm often consciously trying to make a wrong narrative explicit as a way of "naming the demon" in order to acquire power over it. I try and write about my problems in hopes that other people with the same thing will recognize themselves and feel less alone, and may be more empowered once they have language to describe it.

I also seem to underweight the extent to which, if I note an emotion, people will assume that it's a good summary of how I feel about things in my life. I'm a Skroderider. I've worked hard lately to have subtler and swifter awareness of my emotions, but the emotions of the moment still don’t feel like the real me.

My recent post on community might have read as sadder than I was, because I felt like sad was a more polite emotion to express than annoyed. It never occurred to me that this would cause people to reach out, out of concern. I'm grateful for their care and attentiveness. Also I'm fine.

My life so far: motives and morals

This is the story of my life, through the lens of motivations, of actions I took to steer myself towards long-term outcome, of the way the self that stretches out in causal links over long periods of time produced the self I have at this moment. This is only one of the many ways to tell the story of my life. Continue reading

Idolatry taboo as integrity constraint

I have a lot of reasons for doing things, but the iron law that governs all the others is integrity. Things that help my friends are good, things that promote human flourishing and alleviate suffering are good, but when there’s even a whiff of embracing falsehood or ignoring the facts in an action, the gates slam shut against it.

But that just describes - it doesn’t explain. Why am I this way. Was I born with a commitment to the truth above all else? Is it in my genes? Or was I taught it? My parents seem hold other values like tradition or caring about equally, not assigning such an unique place of honor to epistemic integrity, which is evidence against both heredity and direct acculturation as explanations.

My hypothesis is that I have a basic impulse to systematize my understanding of things, and that when I learned about Jewish idolatry taboos, I generalized this into an abhorrence of falsehood. Continue reading

Three puzzles

3-RFTEKUTS
7-FTDLITHOS
What is the next item in the sequence?

My partner's name is Kitty. Our children's names are Bishop and Cantor. What is my name?

Eight American tourists were vacationing in the Lesser Antilles. They were staying on a large island, but decided to take an overnight trip to a smaller island that was supposed to have spectacular beaches, and was less crowded because it was harder to get to. The day before they were supposed to take a boat over to the smaller island, one couple fell ill, but the others continued on. When they arrived, they found there was only one bed-and-breakfast inn on the island, which already had many guests - seven Germans, four Italians, and five Swedes. Fortunately, there was room at the inn to accommodate the Americans, so after enjoying sunset on the beach, they stayed overnight at the inn. To their surprise, when they came into the common area for breakfast, the Swedes and Italians were not present. The Germans were there, but were not eating - they looked full. One of the Americans asked one of the Germans whether their number had already eaten the breakfast served by their hosts, and the German indicated in her native tongue that they had not. Why were the Americans terrified?

Two free verse poems in the bitter aesthetic

I’m in Portland, OR right now. I came here to try to absorb by some osmotic process the local culture of self-cultivation, people engaging in projects not because the projects are useful or justified, but because they want to. People living out their aesthetic vision for their lives. But when I got here, I found that it is not Rivendell, where lonely Elf-friends can heal their wounds, but the Shire. You can visit and be welcome, but you won’t really be a part of it. It’s not Elfsongs and stories and public feasts, but people living out their private lives in communities. You can visit a person in Portland, but you can’t really visit Portland.

Continue reading

The cost of cryopreservation

I put together a spreadsheet for a couple of friends calculating how much cryonics costs, and I figured I'd publish it here in case it's useful for anyone else. I can't promise that these numbers are perfect, but this should help you get at least a rough handle on how much cryonics really costs.

Cryonics costs present value worksheet

Continue reading

Statusphere

They’re not unfriendly - they’re afraid: People

I mentioned to a friend that I didn’t see myself as someone people particularly wanted to hang out with, and she was surprised. She’d thought of me as a cool high-status person, and therefore felt like she should wait for me to reach out to her instead of the other way around.

If enough other people feel this way towards someone who presents as high-status but doesn’t feel that confident on the inside, what they end up seeing is a bunch of people who accept their invitations, but never reciprocate. So they feel low-status, since it looks like no one affirmatively wants to hang out. Continue reading

Vision, Hearing, and Autism-Like Symptoms

Lots of people have suggested to me that I'm on the Autism spectrum. I have a hypothesis that the true cause of my vaguely Asperger's-like symptoms isn't neurological in my case, but comes from other contingent circumstances

My poor eyesight caused me to have glasses, which cause me to get visual data and feedback only from places near the center of my vision. This made me better at narrow-focus activities like reading, computer use, one on one social interaction, and strength training (because peripheral visual info wasn't good enough to be distracting) and worse at awareness-based activities like navigating larger social groups, or sports. A friend recently noted that when he switched from glasses to contacts, widening his effective field of vision, all of a sudden the outdoors became appealing. This seems like it's probably generalizable.

A narrow field of vision made direct eye contact more overwhelming than usual because a larger percentage of my effective visual field was dominated by someone's face than usual, so subjectively for me it was as if we were staring at each other from much closer.

This also meant I was basically never getting incidental social feedback through face or body language when my gaze was elsewhere.

Asymmetric hearing loss (almost no hearing in one ear, diminished hearing in the other) also contributed. It meant I would miss softer audial cues, again penalizing awareness-based activities more than narrow-focus ones. It also meant that I'd often want to turn my good ear towards people when conversing with them instead of looking at them, which meant I got even less feedback from their face, and accustomed me to paying attention to the words and not the expressions.

This may also be why I, like my mother, have persistent shoulder and lower neck tension more than anywhere else in the body: because we're always straining our necks, turning to hear and see things or lean in to listen.

I doubt that the whole story is true, but it's an interesting hypothesis to play with. It's certainly caused me to prioritize improving my vision and hearing correction equipment.