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Mocking Eye

'Tis all in vain?

Conceptual Aids for Knowing What You Want

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Life philosophies, that is, sets of ideologies that govern our goal selections, tend to rest on a certain axis. Its one pole lies at "Carpe Diem" and the other at "Ad Veritas", which is a term I made up to signify the pursuit of naught but the ultimate universal truths. These two extremes are absolutes which none can fully implement, nor is there merit in picking one and striving to reach it. The trick is to figure out which of the two sides appeals more to you, personally. There isn't a choice that is applicable universally. But once you have chosen, you can attempt to locate yourself on the axes; or rather, figure out where to place yourself on it, after some introspection. I am, for example, heavily on the Ad Veritas side, sometimes to the detriment of fleshly and interpersonal concerns. Visualizing myself on the axis helps me nudge myself a bit toward more quotidian affairs that are nevertheless quite important. So, what's the point of this exercise? Sure, it's very exciting to know that you're somewhere on a nebulous axis, but there doesn't seem to be any immediate use for the idea. But of course, there's a point. This conceptual aid, as the rather obnoxious title points out, is meant to give you feedback. Visualizing, feeling, or otherwise simulating the axis in your favorite manner will allow you to better find out from where your goals are coming. Take the picking of goals out of the realm of either complete spontaneity or dry self-deliberation and let you these decision flow more easily and naturally. A tad hackneyed but worn-through-use advice is "Know Thyself", or rendered pretentiously in greek: Gnothi Seauton.

Castles in the Air

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If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
--Henry David Thoreau.

Mock on, Mock On...

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Though I do adore William Blake, in a certain poem of his he sets all of modern science and philosphy to be but a mockery at religion's expense and like sand, they are thrown back at the Mocking Eye. These days, that same Mocking Eye is perhaps a better thing to be.

Interface as Poetry

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Interface design overlaps to great extent with the varied disciplines of Humans-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, User Experience, and others. So I will use the term to indicate any system which provides the border between a human and data. An Interface is a metaphor. Perhaps the most widely familiar one is that of a desktop, which is used in most GUI computer systems. Poetry is much the same. It utilizes metaphor and other arbitrary representations to convey emotional data. Interface design stagnating. Although our capabilites are quickly increasing, the metaphors used are the same old ones with only mild improvements. If they are innovative, they're often so abstract as to allow mere aesthetic enjoynment. Information sculptures are fairly popular now. And that's really all these innovative pieces of information design are good for. It's time for the representations to became less abstract, but the connections to grow less direct. Much as people adapt to the metaphors of the command line, and soon enough they are second nature, using complex metaphors based on human natural experience is a good way to encapsulate large amounts of data.

Hazards of Skeptical Introspection

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The road to intellectual honesty is fraught with peril. As you learn more, you encounter many views, some opposing ones you hold, and steps must be taken to examine them with care. Together with this clash of ideas, cliché as it is, the more you find out, the more you realize how much you don't know.

Contracts Technology - Kicking Out the Government and Making Privatization of Public Affairs Efficient

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Why would you want a government do something that you could do yourself? You could fix a road, keep the neighborhood safe, make health insurance contracts, make sure companies aren't violating the environment, and more. Well, some might say that you can't do these things yourself at all. But that's not true. The problem is that some of these tasks might take your full time dedication, and they're not quite your thing. And anyways, all of them are important to you, you can't pick a single one. So the second best solution is to do whatever you do best, and pay someone to do this things that THEY do best. This is otherwise known as specialization or division of labour, and has been shown to be generally economically beneficial to all involved. This is called the Market Approach, Laissez Faire, and other such terms. So why aren't we using the market to perform the tasks I described? The reason is rooted in Market Failures. This is a class of situations where a bunch of people each following a moderately self interested strategy can cause bad outcomes for everyone. Examples are such things as The Tragedy of the Commons (where a public good is overused) or Monopolies (where a single entitiy gets sole control of a resource). So how do governments help prevent market failures? IMPORTANT POINT: you outsource decision making to politicons because like the other examples. you aren't sure you'd make even the best decision on a policy, because you don't have enough specialization in a particular field. The problem arises when neither do they. But what's the problem with governments then? Ah! So private initiatives are bad, and governments are bad. We seem to have mostly chosen the government option so far. What would be the optimal solution? So transactions will be based on contracts, which will help alleviate market failures, and eliminate the need for a government?

Chapter 1

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One of the good things about these converted warehouses, is that often the top floors have windows that open. The biotech firms in the shiny glass buildings near Kendall Square are much less susceptible to this approach. At the top of the building, just above the the windows, several lights were attached pointed down, illuminating yellowish parabolas. I had broken one of them with a stone yesterday, so my position perched on the windowsill just under it was not as glaringly obvious as it would have been. I've been scouting the place for the past three days, and it was finally time for a quick in and out, leaving my calling card somewhere prominent and suitably impressive. I saw some likely choices during my on-location visit, but I haven't yet decided. The building was a red brick box with 3 stories of lofted offices. Exposed beams and exposed brick walls on the inside, just the way so many Boston-area companies like it. On the right, it was flush with a 2 story structure that must have been a factory of some kind in its previous incarnation. The faded marks of O'Malley Warehouse Co. were just barely readable on the windowless wall on the left of the building. The third floor housed my target. The windows were large, about 6 feet high. They were the kind where a section only a couple of feet at the top swings out. Sometimes they swing out at the bottom, opening upwards, but these were the more sensible kind—if you didn't want rain being funneled in—that had a downward opening. My chosen window was unlocked, but even if it hadn't, it would have been easy enough to slide a specially made flat metal ribbon through the rough seam, and slide the rudimentary latch open. I pulled it open, and locked it into its upwards position. Right at the click, I lost my balance slightly, and my heart dropped into my pants for a millisecond, before I grabbed unto the edge of the window near the latch and swiftly pulled myself up through the window. I jumped down into the offices immediately flattening myself on the floor as a precaution against a security guard who might just now be doing an utterly superfluous security check. It also gave me a moment to let my heart rate drop from supersonic. The room I was in was the office of the vice president of something or other. Often these maturing startups, having filled out the conventional C-level executive slots, will start inventing all manner of VP positions for the early employees. I've seen a software development firm once that had more VPs than developers. The main office area had lights controlled by motion detectors, so walking in there directly would have been a bad idea indeed. I executed an army high crawl, pushing with elbows and knees in a prone position—the low crawl involves pushing with the edges of the feet and staying as flat as possible—towards the door. When I was flush with it, I could see that the offices were dark, but that there was light emanating from the lab located in the middle of the floor. Did someone forget to turn it off? Even then, the door shouldn't be ajar, the lab procedures indicate that the thick everything-proof door should be locked at all times that someone wasn't transiting through. Some of the things these biotech firms do can be so fucking dangerous, everyone is very paranoid. This means that someone must be inside the lab. Damn.