June 15, 2024 6:03 pm

Four freedoms

We went to the Norman Rockwell Museam today, and there was an inspired paring of a MAD exhibition. Did you know that MAD Magazine still exists? Me neither.

American Ideals at their finest.

One thing that I didn't know about was the Four Freedoms:

  1. Freedom of Speech
  2. Freedom from Want
  3. Freedom from Fear
  4. Freedom of Worship

These images captured something that is embedded in my psyche – especially Freedom of Speech, which I think of everytime someone posts to the local town mailing list with whatever their take is on something. Freedom from Want – which is a picture of a large thanksgiving turkey is probably the reason why I think we need to have turkey on thanksgiving. On any other day I'm not sure I'd ever order turkey.

The other funny thing about this is that I'd only heard of "four freedoms" in the context of Freedoms of Free software:

Freedom 0: The freedom to use the program for any purpose.

Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.

Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute and make copies so you can help your neighbor.

Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.


June 9, 2024 12:40 pm

Adapting to new mediums

Technologies are aritificial, but - paradox again - artificiality is natural to human beings. Technology, properly interiorized, does not degrade human life but on the contrary enhances it… such shaping of a tool to oneself, learning a technological skill, is hardly dehumanizing. The use of a technology can enrich the human psyche, enlarge the human spirit, and intensify its interior life.

– Walter Ong Orality and Literacy, pg 81-82.

How long did it take for humans to interiorize writing and its tools? How long will it take for us to interiorize the network?

– Jeff Jarvis Gutenberg Parenthesis

In the beginning, there were ABC, NBC, and CBS, and they were good. Midcentury American man could come home after eight hours of work and turn on his television and know where he stood in relation to his wife, and his children, and his neighbors, and his town, and his country, and his world. And that was good. Or he could open the local paper in the morning in the ritual fashion, taking his civic communion with his coffee, and know that identical scenes were unfolding in households across the country.

Bad News Selling the story of disinformation by Joseph Bernstein


April 30, 2024 9:53 pm

I need a trigger warning

All of these protests and the war in gaza has brought up all the old feelings of being in that terrorist attack in Rome when I was 8, and I just spent 2 hours searching for this passage by Fredrick Douglass that I read, what? 30 years ago in high school? Memory is weird.

My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender-hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she commenced, when I first went to live with her, to treat me as she supposed one human being ought to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a slaveholder, she did not seem to perceive that I sustained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and that for her to treat me as a human being was not only wrong, but dangerously so. Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there, she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman. There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness. The first step in her downward course was in her ceasing to instruct me. She now commenced to practise her husband's precepts. She finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed anxious to do better.

  • CHAPTER VII of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

April 18, 2024 9:56 am

Oh javascript

Somehow this sort of thing in Ruby is charming, and in JavaScript just a never ending source of confusion.

Value equality is based on the SameValueZero algorithm. (It used to use SameValue, which treated 0 and -0 as different. Check browser compatibility.) This means NaN is considered the same as NaN (even though NaN !== NaN) and all other values are considered equal according to the semantics of the = operator.

Set documentation


March 26, 2024 4:41 pm

Discovering idagio

I was a primephonic user before it got whisked away into the Apple ecosystem, and sort of fell back on Spotify. I recently discovered idagio and I’m amazed at the quality. Originally I was thinking that the classical services were better because they organized the music in a more sane way, so you could hear 5 different renditions of a particular piece.

Each recording though isn’t just different; it’s like Spotify licenses the cheapest one to get. The playing on this particular one really is phenomenal.

bachtrack streaming services


March 24, 2024 10:00 am

Things I love about my phone

Lets not forget how cool smart phones are.

I can open up WhatsApp and send a message, and the person on the other side will recieve it. I could be walking in the woods when a thought occured to me, and they could be on an entirely different continent, and it doesn't matter.

I really like ordering stuff on the go, like when I'm waiting for an elevator and I make a quick order of, say, some mechanical pencils. And then later it'll just show up.

Other things are mixed. Looking up information and having it all at your fingertips sometimes pulls you out of yourself. Do I really need to know what mechanical sand is made out of, for example, rather just be playing with it? Are the opening hours of the store actually up to date on google? (Surprisingly, often not.) And often the response you get back is bullshit, which is to say both definitively stated and also wrong.

But still, being able to reach out to any connection anytime anywhere on the planet is still mindblowing. I can remember a time when you needed to schedule and coordinate when you'd make an expensive long distance call, and more often than not you'd simply be uncontactable for days or weeks.


March 14, 2024 10:28 am

My physical relationship to the internet

Where I live there is very spotty cell service. If I'm not connected to WiFi at home or at the market, my connectivity to everyone is sort of fire and forget – the messages will go out, the messages will come it, but not immediately.

The feeling is what I go over the hill and all of a sudden my phone blows up with notifications, then I'm off grid for the next few miles.

Coverage is not better inside, or on the road or something – I get better service way out in the woods behind my house than I do on the town green.

I'm used to this reality that its jarring when I take the train back to the city. At first, coverage is really bad on the train. I'll tether the laptop to the phone, and watch the packet loss slowly improve right up until I get to grand central.

At home, everything is downloaded to the phone. PocketCasts streaming feature is basically pointless for me, I need to wait till it's downloaded before getting in the car.

When I get to the city, the process is inverted. Why would I connect to the hotel's WiFi when it's so much easier and more reliable to tether through the phone?

The internet on my home turf is more like being in an airplane – it works under certain situations, but it needs to be offline first.


March 1, 2024 9:42 am

Why are LLMs so small?

LLMs are compressing information in a wildly different way than I understand. If we compare a couple open source LLMs to Wikipedia, they are all 20%-25% smaller than the compressed version of English wikipedia. And yet you can ask questions about the LLM, they can – in a sense – reason about things, and they know how to code.

NAMESIZE
gemma:7b5.2 GB
llava:latest4.7 GB
mistral:7b4.1 GB
zephyr:latest4.1 GB

Contrast that to the the size of English wikipedia – 22gb. That's without media or images.

Shannon Entropy is a measure of information desitity, and whatever happens in training LLMs gets a lot closer to the limit than our current way of sharing information.


February 29, 2024 12:07 pm

5 year old hacking chatgpt

We use the voice interface, this is what he came up with:


February 27, 2024 2:10 pm

Fifteen or twenty thousand years

From What a major solar storm could do to our planet:

Solar flares contain a colossal amount of energy—enough, in a large one, to meet our planet’s power needs for the next fifteen or twenty thousand years.

That is a lot of years worth of energy.