Monthly Archives: March 2012

On Stealing Simulated Cats

I was at Chapters today buying books. As I’ve said before, I really wish they’d get rid of the chairs. It really bugs me to watch people taking books off the shelves, and sitting there for a couple hours reading it cover to cover, often beating the book up so badly it’s at best a used book and at worst unsellable, stealing from the author, publisher, bookstore, or other customers depending on how you look at it. It’s not like if I download a graphic novel and read it. Ignoring the fact that when I do that, I buy the stuff I really like to support the content creators, I am at worst guilty of not adding an extra sale to their bottom line. However, the guy I watched today bending up and destroying the graphic novel he sat and read at chapters has not only “not added a sale”, but he has actually taken a physical product and damaged it to the point where actual paying customers will avoid it. He has actually stolen “for real”, unlike virtual data pirates. But he gets away with it. Maybe I’m being petty.

Oh, and one of the books I got was what looks like a charmingly hilarious choose-your-own-adventure type book called You Are a Cat as a gift for Nefarious… but Caitlin just pointed out to me that on the inside cover the list of other books in the series is a little… odd..? Troubling even?

You Are Doing 20 to Life!
You Are Committing Suicide!
You Are a Cult Leader!
You Are Homeless!
You Are Jesus Christ!
You Are Old!
You Are a School Shooter!
You Are Obsessed with Johnny Depp!

The descriptions of these other books are totally nuts, and while the life of the cat starts innocently enough, you quickly find yourself run over by a car or discovering the strange smelling stuff that the teenage son smokes at night, which looks a bit like catnip but does nothing for you. Turns out it’s a hilarious dark parody of those sorts of books for mature readers. Oops. Very lucky that Caitlin decided to take a look at the book first, because it probably would not have put me on any dad-of-the-year lists to send this to her. We do have an adult friend in mind though that this will be an absolutely perfect gift for, so all is not lost. On Caitlin’s brilliant suggestion, the gift has already been successfully redirected! And to balance things out, the graphic novel I got for myself should be a perfect read for Nefarious as well, so it all equals out nicely.

Oh, and speaking of stolen content, I’m always amazed at how many full-length movies are pirated on major mainstream sites like YouTube have — which reminds me, check out YouTube movies which has lots of full-length free movies to download (as well as paid stuff) including quite a few fascinating free documentaries that would be difficult to find in the pirate world. But YouTube is also one of the go-to places for movie pirates. I was reading an old “Top 10 Bizarre Afterlife Experiments” list and saw a reference to a past-life documentary featuring an Australian woman who started speaking French under hypnosis. Because The Reincarnation Experiments was filmed in 1983 I didn’t think I’d be able to find it on TPB, but luckily it was linked on YouTube and while I remain skeptical, I did enjoy watching it. Personally if I was the creator of this documentary, I would be very happy to see that it is preserved forever online instead of being forgotten like so many older creations, and since YouTube has allowed I’m guessing 25,000+ people to watch it in full over the last few years, I’m hoping they’re happy to quietly profit from it.

Watch it if you want (to find the others, visit the uploader’s page, and there are many related documtaries automatically suggested by YouTube’s AI sidebar). And of course the many sites that let you painlessly download YouTube to your computer make it easy to move it over to filesharing networks, and I am sure that there are dozens of venture informationists downloading these videos in bulk, ensuring that from the advent of the internet on, humanity will never forget its invetions. I hope.

Watching that documentary on past life regression, of course my first question was “what’s the con?” but let’s assume for a minute that the researchers and subjects are genuine and believe what they’re saying. Personally I do not believe that it give evidence for any sort of spiritual reincarnation. To me, it does however provide evidence for the proposition that we are living in a simulation. In fact, the idea that we are living in a simulation is the only way to logically explain memories of past lives without violating our understanding of a scientificly understandable world. It’s not hard to imagine that from time to time a software bug could result in some memories not being properly cleared, or data leaking from simulation to simulation.

That said, I have enough trouble being convinced by the paranormal, simply because it’s easier to explain the entire paranormal world away by a combination of “you’re lying” and “you’re mistaken”. That said, if the paranormal is real it definitely convinces me of artificial worlds before it convinces me of the literal paranormal! But I am far more convinced we are living in a simulation by some of the weirdness of this world — the fact that the world “renders” differently when you look at it at different resolutions, or even the phenomena of light behaving as a wave in some circumstances or as a particle in others. But I’m just as happy to say that this is simply proof that we live in a gloriously weird universe.

The statistical argument is the most common “proof” that we are “living in a video game”, and I think it’s simultaneously the most meaningless and the most convincing. I’ll quickly and shortly repeat it here for those who don’t know it. Basically it says that if we assume that simulated worlds are technologically possible in the first place, that there is one “real world” and billions of “virtual worlds”. Therefore, the odds that we are living in the real world are extremely, extremely slim, and we can say with a high degree of certaintly that we are in a simulation. We just have to accept the assumption — and depending on your analysis of the potential of techology it may or may not be a big assumption — that simulating a world is possible in the first place. Of course, it’s one of those things you can never really prove, so in the end it amounts to little more than the various logical “proofs” for the existance of god — very convincing to those that have faith to begin with, and patently silly mental masturbation for everyone else.

So how do you prove you’re in a simulation? Accidentally consume a mega-dose of DMT and watch the software crash? Personally I found that very convincing! That said, I’m am not at all sure what it convinced me of.

But I was very convinced.

Doomsday Sturgeon

I’ve been watching National Geographic’s Doomsday Prepper’s, a show that has “experts” on doomsday-scenarios and deep survivalism “rate” a dull rainbow of people who appear to wholeheartedly believe that a wide spectrum of TEOTWAWKIs are on their way (prepperspeak for the end of the world as we know it). I think it’s obvious that this is a show and a collection of people that I’m going to share some ideas with and have a certain sympathy with, but in at least half of them they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to a basic understanding of the way the world works scientifically and politically. Now, to NG’s credit (and wow, does everyone have to be on the reality TV bandwagon? I mean, National Geographic?) they do occasionally put “what this person is saying is factually 100% wrong” captions up, but it’s on the slim end of “occasionally”. You’ll get a more sane and realistic prediction of the potential calamities we’re facing by watching the big screen explosion epic movie 2012 or even insta-ice-age dad-to-the-rescue film The Day After Tomorrow than by listening to the prepper predictions.

In discussing the show with Caitlin as we watched it I found out she’s never seen The Mosquito Coast — to my great surprise — which I will surely have to dust off and beg her to watch. Beg because every time I recommend something, be it book or TV or movie, she avoids it like the plague. I don’t think it’s that my suggestions are bad per se, maybe a little self indulgent, so maybe she thinks I will be mad if she doesn’t like them enough. More likely she knows that I will keep looking over at her during the movie to see her reaction and she finds that highly annoying. I don’t know. Speaking of old movies, I watched Top Secret, the Val Kilmer comedy from 1984, this afternoon, and it holds up really well. Don’t think I was entirely couch-potatoing though, I spent some of that time working on my latest painting. Mostly erasing and redrawing quite a few times…

The sturgeon were one of my nightmare creatures when I was young, and even now they always populate the water (along with other monsters) in any dream. I think they freaked me out as a kid because they’re so primitive looking and because they were the biggest thing that swam in the bay I also swam in — I was shocked to read that they recently pulled a sturgeon over eleven feet long and weighing over a thousand pounds (click that for a picture) out locally! Yikes! You could ride that like a dolphin. I shouldn’t have done that Google search, I’m sure it will repopulate my dreams. Oh, and in my dreams, instead of fins, sturgeon have little stubby legs and occasionally jump up our of ice fishing holes and run around on the ice! I have no idea where that came from, as far as I know none of the other fish can do that.

In my dreams, the water is a gateway to an alien world.

That’s the case in the real world too!

In a couple weeks our superintendent’s girlfriend is having a baby (they’re also our neighbors and we share a thin wall, so fingers crossed it’s not too loud). As a baby-warming present I’m going to make him a pendant that he’s been asking about for his record label, so I’m going to try and wrap that design up so it’s ready to be machined after I finish a couple custom skull rings that are on order. I’m worried that their baby is going to be OK because their mother smoked throughout, which is very unfortunate. They’re very excited and happy though, and the in-vitro smoke aside, I think they have the potential to be good parents and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. It’s always interesting what a baby can do to people, because it can bring out both the best and the worst in people.

Five days until I get tattooed some more. I can’t wait!