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Showing posts from July, 2016

prepper paranoia as species insurance

(c) Andrew Wyeth (1957), "Brown Swiss"

It's easy to mock preppers - that is, people who buy off-grid rural land, a stock of imperishable food, and guns, while honing skills in expectation of the harsh and pre-modern world soon to come - but it's plausible that they're actually providing a public good: redundancy, for the species, against certain awfultail risks.

Let's begin by inventing a distinction: call the ideology "survivalism" and the practice described above "prepping". People often point to creepy far-right tendencies among survivalists (e.g. anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, violent libertarianism, Red Dawn paranoia) and speak as if this were an argument against prepping. No matter how self-interested or politically unsavory the practice supposedly is: competent, geographically spread-out prepping could still help ensure that future generations come to be. "The species", in some sense, and also maybe modern culture.*

Been Reading, Q2 2016

The actual comment thread on the final blogpost of Hilary Putnam

...with the Oxford node investigating cognitive enhancement, the Maastricht node mood enhancement, Milano life extension, Stockholm bodily enhancement, and Bristol coordinating us..." - fragment from Anders Sandberg

I realized that I would never be able to live in a decent relationship with the people of that country unless I could drive this book, and its politely arrogant world view, out of my head. - obviously I had to read the book this sentence refers to,
and pay it much more heed than I otherwise would've

Spent a dreadful week preparing for a data science interview. It was dreadful because it's about memorising hundreds of difficult ideas from a few different fields: a more descriptive job title would be "Statistical programmer / machine teacher / web scraper / sysadmin / graphic designer" - so you see how this is my latest scheme to find interdisciplinary freedom outside the academy. (The he…