Podcast started very, very late due primarily to some tedious, still-unresolved technical issues. As a consequence, now I’ve sat down to write this it’s almost one. I’m not doing another link post, but I will do two actual, real posts on Saturday. This is just an fyi for my regular readers (all two of you). For now, my eyes are refusing to focus on the screen. Over and out.

entry-level freedom of speech stuff

Someone on Twitter earlier was making some… uninformed statements about an autoblocking system (it allows people to pool their ability to block people, which might be useful if you’d, e.g. become the target of a group who had tremendous concern for ethics in games journalism) to the effect of “it’s violating my freedom of speech”. He further suggested that people in the UK might try and find a solicitor(!) to have it shut down(!!!). Maybe he should have consulted with the bad biscuit man, who I’m given to understand has legal qualifications (and a prodigious IQ to boot).

Continue reading entry-level freedom of speech stuff

mental models as a fandom

We discussed this on the podcast, but I thought I should do the writing about it anyway, since it was half-done and I’m short on time. I mentioned on Twitter the other day that a problem I have with the Slate Star Codex is that some of his posts tend to go something like: “Here’s a controversial issue. Let’s assume that [my anecdotal experience related directly or tangentially to this issue] can be generalised. Now let’s make a mathematical model of that, and see what conclusions we can draw!” (this is exacerbated by having been told that this guy was something really special, inflated expectations that led to disappointment when he turned out just to be an okay-ish blogger, albeit one of a kind I don’t read a lot of1)

Continue reading mental models as a fandom

a new day in the old town

I came home to Turners Hill this morning, took the dog for a walk around some bucholic meadows and played a bit of Twilight Struggle, which vies with the Game of Thrones board game for the most individuals systems crammed into one game (proper Board Game People will doubtless find this an incredibly entry-level complaint). It’s nice to be in the countryside again; I think growing up out here led me to take its many virtues for granted, and living in a city dulls some of my interest in it, until I come back. It’s also nice to wander around the village and see how almost nothing has changed. Almost nothing ever changes here. 

I walked past the C of E church, the primary school I went to: they are no different from the time I first went to playgroup in the church hall to the last time I left the school. Today’s weather was, as an application on my phone described it, “abundant sunshine”, which is pleasing in itself and because it corresponds with how Turners Hill is in my head. It’s a place of blue skies and long summers. At home there is a dog, and I get roast beef dinner cooked for me. I don’t visit often enough.

Over and out.

melody maker

I was playing at a wedding this morning (went very well, thanks for asking) and will later be going to see Stewart Lee at the Dome with comrade Sean. And Dan’s decided to write another beef-piece that I want to respond to. I haven’t even responded to the last one, and I was going to have a nap… so I will. Any response I would have would be markedly uninteresting anyway, because, in the same way that beyond a few broad generalities I’m almost incapable of describing people’s faces, I’m actually very, very bad at talking about music; my skills lie mostly on the performance end. Josef might like to give it a go, but we’ll have Dan on the podcast sometime soon to thrash it all out anyway. In the meantime, I’d just like to say he’s wrong, and a grotesquely ugly freak.

Possibly words on Stewart Lee tomorrow. Over and out.


Interesting little widget the FT have put together here, created in light of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee saying that the licence fee might have to be swapped for a subscription (or something), to simulate the profitability of a BBC designed by you – what content you want them to be spending on, how much of a subscription fee should they change, etc. I’ve been thinking about the BBC a bit lately, especially in light of the whole ghastly BBC Brit thing – and the enthusiasm with which I support the institution has definitely declined over the last few years – probably commensurate with my declining consumption of their output. I don’t really listen to the radio very much any more, or many BBC podcasts, and I don’t have a television licence – though even when we did, pretty much the only thing we used it to watch was Doctor Who, and these days I don’t care enough that I can’t just wait for it to release on iPlayer. I guess the resource I use the most is the news website, but I more often get my breaking news from Twitter. I still notionally support the idea of public service broadcasting, and think the BBC does an awful lot right, but I think its present form is not going to survive a lot of the changes that broadcast media in general are undergoing, and I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. Possibly more interesting thoughts are refusing to cohere. It’s 1 am. Over and out.


So this thing by Andrew Hickey is one of those things that ticks several boxes and manages to present something I’d been thinking about in an interestingly different way. Key bit:

At one end one has the LessWrong/Slate Star Codex/Richard Dawkins type people, who say “But WHAT IF people committing honour killings are really doing the world a favour by enforcing the patriarchy, because WHAT IF men really just ARE better than women? I’m not saying they are, but can’t we ask the question”? [NB, as far as I know none of those people has made that argument, but as a style of argument it is all too familiar, even among otherwise decent, intelligent, people]. At the other, Tumblr Social Justice types.

Temperamentally, I’m far closer to the former group than the latter (I don’t really do taking offence at ideas, and can gladly play with the most revolting thoughts while treating them as hypotheticals), but on most actual cases, I tend to side with the Social Justice people, because “this is hurting me and I’d like the pain to stop” is, most of the time, a more compelling argument than anything else.

But it just occurred to me that I’d never thought of it before in precisely these terms — as an argument about which category various topics should go into. And I think that maybe people on either side of the arguments aren’t thinking about it in those terms either — one group instead thinking “why are those people keeping doing this when I’ve said it’s hurtful?” while the other is thinking “why are those people trying to stop my freedom of speech?”

The second paragraph is I think also true of me. Nice to read something and find it explains something about yourself.

an interesting effect

I’ve decided, for a few quite boring reasons, to take a break from social media for a few days – initially I was thinking a week, but we’ll see how this goes. I’ve effected this change by deleting my Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, and put a day-long block for those websites on my computer. So far this prohibition has been in place since about 8AM this morning, and the results have been:

  1. I’ve discovered quite how much of my phone’s battery is chewed up by Twitter Or possibly by the frequency of my checking Twitter, which frankly amounts to the same thing. As of about two this afternoon, my phone was on 92%, whereas usually at that point it’s somewhere below half-way and I’m plugging it in to my laptop to recharge. It’s almost like having my old leave-it-for-weeks-at-a-time-without-charging Nokia back again1.

  2. My right hand is really well-trained to reach for the bottom-right corner of my phone when I unlock it. This now opens Overcast instead of Tweetbot, but there’s some sort of automatic muscle-memory response thing there that’s really difficult to shake.

  3. I’m finding myself rather less distracted and worried than usual. This is the biggie, obviously, and I think if I decide, to whatever degree, and for however long to extend this break, this will be the reason. One of my biggest faults is that it’s really, really easy for me to become really, really short-termist about a whole bunch of stuff, and I don’t think the ebb and flow of, e.g. Twitter is very helpful to me in that regard. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick with this long enough for me to rid myself of the FOMO Skinner-box instinct (if only for a little while), chill out, and get some of that enormous pile of books by the side of my bed finished.

  1. almost, but not quite.