Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2019-07-12T12:40:03Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com July 12. http://ranprieur.com/#0583cec8af9615233994b5888b837b5c43d944b1 2019-07-12T12:40:03Z July 12. Two quick happy links for the weekend. A retired teacher found some seahorses off Long Beach. Then he built a secret world for them:

If you get Hanson talking about his seahorses, he'll tell you exactly how many times he's seen them (997), who is dating whom, and describe their personalities with intimate familiarity. Bathsheba is stoic, Daphne a runner. Deep Blue is chill.

And The 50 Best New Board Games, where new means the last five or ten years. I've only played two on the list. Root has highly asymmetrical design (meaning the different factions play differently) and great visual design, but I just didn't think the gameplay was fun. And Spirit Island is my favorite board game. It's both asymmetrical and cooperative, and so complex that you really have to focus. You play nature spirits trying to stop an island from being colonized.

July 10. http://ranprieur.com/#c3e2a332edc0052f1de68bdd9d342377b5f1d0ff 2019-07-10T22:20:49Z July 10. Continuing from Monday, I want to say more about solipsism and panpsychism. Obviously I'm not a solipsist, or there would be no point in writing for an audience. But I love the Boltzmann brain conjecture. The specific idea is about the physics of entropy, but the general idea is that it's easier to create a brain that dreams a universe, than to create a universe.

Imagine for a minute that you alone are dreaming all of this. You might ask, then why am I not all-powerful? The answer is, that would get boring, especially if you're immortal. So you arranged a bunch of challenges and constraints, and made yourself forget.

But then, who manages all the action behind the scenes? And what's in it for them? It seems like the best way to set it up, is just to split the one mind into many minds, with their own perspectives and motives.

Coming at it from the other side, panpsychism seems silly because we only know what it's like to be a human - and not just any human, but a hyper-individualized modern human. We can't even ask what it's like to be a rock, because our word "be" carries too much baggage. Instead of saying rocks have consciousness, I like to say that consciousness has rocks. Something whose nature is not changed by being broken in two, would not have anything like a self, but it could be part of some kind of mind-matter field.

There's a popular idea that our beliefs and/or desires create reality. But it can't be that simple, because people on drugs, who completely believe they can fly, cannot fly, even when no one is looking. It must be because matter and gravity are looking. I wonder if people who claim to be creating their own reality, are just playing tricks with causality and identity, and what they've really done is aligned their beliefs and desires with what's going to happen anyway.

July 8. http://ranprieur.com/#d023a900e0a8105c9e3c11b91adbbc0346a9aa94 2019-07-08T20:00:08Z July 8. Recently posted on the subreddit: Panpsychism is crazy, but it's also most probably true. Well, crazy is relative. The article begins, "Common sense tells us that only living things have an inner life. Rabbits and tigers and mice have feelings, sensations and experiences..." But that's not common sense - it's a particular cultural filter. Nature-based cultures are animist, seeing everything as a person. Descartes went almost to the opposite extreme, seeing everything except humans and God as mindless. That wasn't so long ago, and now we're going through a messy process of adding stuff back.

I think the only two stable positions are panpsychism and solipsism. If you open the door to even other humans having perspectives, there's no good place to draw a line, except maybe between things that are and are not self-organizing.

Two loosely related links, Ancient ritual bundle contained multiple psychotropic plants. And When researchers listen to people who hear voices. It's mainly about the difference between people who are tormented by voices in their heads, and people who find the voices helpful.

Two links in another direction, Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis, with "1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow."

And a John Michael Greer post, A Conversation with Nature. It's about how zebra mussels have cleaned up Lake Erie, despite human authorities trying hard to exterminate them.

Read the literature on invasive species, and you'll find scientific objectivity discarded in favor of language usually found in wartime propaganda: peaceful communities menaced by aggressive invaders. Why?

Greer argues that it's because we see nature as static and not resilient. I think it's also ego. Humans want all ecological influence to come from human agency.

July 4. http://ranprieur.com/#74373dce4cdd1a786a46eb9f5a69a286700102a1 2019-07-04T16:20:09Z July 4. Leigh Ann and I are visiting her family for the holiday, in Florida. Compared to the northwest, the human-made world is more nightmarish and the natural world is more dense and epic. There's a thunderstorm almost every day, and a pond of frogs sounds more beautiful than almost any human music.

I only have my iPad, so posting is tricky, but here's some stuff I pre-wrote. From reddit, a long post with comments, A Historical Perspective on Collapse.

In summary: human civilization is going to collapse, probably soon. It may actually be happening right now. Barring WWIII or an asteroid hitting the earth, it will not be quick. It will be slow, it will be uneven, and it will likely take a century or more before we hit the bottom. The collapse will not be the end.

This article is pure black comedy: How We Realized Putting Radium in Everything Was Not the Answer. I wonder what radium-like thing we're doing now.

Power Causes Brain Damage. The article is missing a good definition of power. What it's talking about, I would call power-over, a social role where other people are punished for not doing what you tell them to do, and for telling you what you don't want to hear. I think the only robust solution is a culture where nobody will put up with that shit.

It is play, and not work, that gives life meaning. I like this definition of work: "whenever we do something only for the sake of something else." And the conclusion: "Children understand that the really important things in life are the things that are worth doing for their own sake."

There's a famous motivational quote: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." I finally figured out the trick to applying it. The frame of time to do what makes you come alive, is not in your grand plans for your whole life, but in a large number of small moments.

July 1. http://ranprieur.com/#ab26bd2977bbe52576ad810041e1f14f6c18c20c 2019-07-01T13:50:23Z July 1. So I've been watching the women's World Cup, and this year they're using VAR for the first time. It stands for video assistant referee, and almost everyone hates it. In theory it makes sure the calls on the field are right, but in practice, it breaks the flow of the game, and it allows results to be influenced by things so insignificant that only the machine can see them.

Now goals can be won by drawing the slightest brush of a cleat in the box, or lost by being half an inch offside. The most dramatic defensive play in the game, the saved penalty kick, is now even more rare because the VAR can see the goalkeeper taking her foot off the line a tenth of a second early.

My position is, the rules must serve the game, not the other way around; and the purpose of the game is to be fun for players and audiences. That fun is being lost, because rules that were designed for soft human enforcement are being interpreted by hard machines.

Of course this goes way beyond sports, into our high-tech surveillance society. With machines always watching us, we have to spend a lot of mental energy conforming to rules that were not intended for such strict enforcement, everything from red light cameras to speech codes.

Another rule change in world football, is what the refs look at when there's a handball in the box. They used to consider the player's intention, but now they've been instructed to ignore intention, and only rule on whether one physical object has impacted another. It's like we worship machines so much that we are turning ourselves into machines, devaluing any skill that humans have and machines don't.

Imagine trying to manage a business, or get along with your friends, without ever considering intention. But that seems to be where we're headed. The Supreme Court used to consider the intentions of the authors of laws, but at some point they started to look only at the text. At about the same time, the same thing happened in literary criticism.

I think these trends are part of a larger social trend of disconnection, atomization, stripping away of context. I'm not sure what's behind that trend, but it has to be cyclical, and I'm looking forward to the counter-trend, adding context back.