Memories of My Days as a Physics Student #physics #science #music

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I have a physics degree and had a nice blast from the past the other day while wandering through my home library. I found a copy of my old physics textbook from high school. Here’s an excerpt.

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Suckers. 🙂

This will never not be funny.

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A JPG Just Sold for $69,000,000.00 #art

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Wut?

The New York Times, among many others, reports that a piece of (for lack of a better term) static art that exists only digitally was sold for $69,000,000. The article dares to mention the artist responsible for my favorite painting in comparison. By clicking through to the Christie’s site, you can view the art, and thereby take ownership of it for no charge.

Wut?

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Follow the New York Times @nytimes

The Etiquette of Leaving Social Media, in Whole or in Part #Facebook #SocialMedia

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I’ve seen this and similar Facebook groups cited a lot recently: “This group is not an airport, no need to announce your departure.” I know it’s nothing new, but they’re cited even when people are very polite in their announcement.

Do you know what else you don’t need to announce?

  • What you had for dinner last night.
  • What you think of voter ID.
  • Why you bought the car you just bought (this one’s mine!).
  • Why you quit your job.
  • Whether you prefer hot or cold climates.
  • Where you’re going for vacation next month.
  • Storms: Scary or fun?
  • Whether you think you have too many keys on your keychain.
  • How great your new bed is (also mine!).
  • Why you don’t care that the person is leaving the group.

You don’t have to announce any of those things, but you do. Why? Because that’s probably the most important use of social media. Sure, except for Elvis, it would be awkward to announce your departure, whereas the rest of the list is common party fodder. That said, Facebook isn’t a party. It’s a social media platform. We’re communicating our thoughts, often to strangers and sometimes mundane, in a medium designed for that very purpose. Most of what you say means nothing to most of the people to whom you say it (even at a party of strangers), but the means to say it is a primary reason why these platforms are so popular.

I’ve only once had people do that to me, and surprisingly it wasn’t when I told everyone I was forming an exit strategy for Facebook (so far unsuccessfully). I left an XFL group and said I was giving up on the league because of a tremendous lack of integrity they showed. Officials at headquarters allowed a game to end when it shouldn’t have. The members laid into me. I laughed it off, but some take it more personally, and I thought we were all supposed to be nice to one another.

Instead of telling everyone, “Bye, Felicia,” or posting snarky animated GIFs (pronounced gif, not jif, obviously), how about you just be honest and say, “I don’t care about anyone else’s opinions but my own and those that agree with me.” Someone saying they’re leaving, and especially when they say why, can have value, but only to the open-minded. The rest may continue citing those groups. Which group are you in?

By all means, add a comment that you’re never going to read my blog again, but if you do, please tell me why.

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#Facebook Sucks, So My Days There Are Numbered @Facebook #MeWe #Parler #SocialMedia

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I’ve seen a lot of (private) censorship going on by Facebook, and now it’s hit me right in the nuts. My “posting and replying privileges” were suspended for 24 hours because I made two jokes over the course of thirteen days that “violated community standards.”

One ribbon down. Four to go.

Here are my interactions.

Interaction #1, January 19, 2021

If you have access to it, the interaction is here.

RJS: “I have a long list of things I’d like to see improved with the coming administration, but one thing on that list, and I’m not going to say where it falls, is the decriminalization of a certain substance. Can’t. Wait.”

JD: “Okay now for sure if you and I ever both make the insane decision to attend a con in person, and it happens to be the same con at the same time…. Yeah, that.”

Me: “Hippies.”

Calling people hippies is something I’m known to do whenever someone disagrees with me (a la Eric Cartman), but it seemed particularly appropriate here. Continuing . . .

RJS: “Frog enthusiasts.”

This, of course, meant that RJS and JD licked toads. Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and thought he was referring to me as a frog enthusiast, and that I was missing some sort of reference. Mea culpa. So, not knowing what he was talking about, I responded, “Mais je deteste les Francais” (“But I hate the French.”). Get it? The French are frogs. Not my best work, I know, but it was just a goofy response to something I didn’t immediately understand.

That was deemed hate speech. Here’s some discussion on it from a subsequent post, again if you have access.

Interaction #2, January 31, 2021

If you have access to it, the interaction is here.

First concert – Billy Joel
Last concert – 38 Special (with Erik Nowak)
Best Concert – Iron Maiden
Worst concert – Jimmy Buffett
Loudest concert – Iron Maiden (I was on the floor)
Seen the most – Billy Joel (twice)
Most surprising – Cowboy Mouth (soooo good)
Next concert – It’ll be a while. I’m not a huge concertgoer.
Wish I could have seen – Fleetwood Mac, RUSH, Genesis, George Benson

Someone responded “’Last’ sounds so final. Perhaps ‘most recent’?” I replied, “I plan to kill everyone who responds.” I assume that was deemed terroristic threatening.

Basically, Facebook’s algorithm (and apparently the humans that perform the follow up review) can’t distinguish obvious humor from actual hate speech or terrorism. Of course, neither can many people nowadays, so I guess there’s always going to be a market for Facebook’s humorless bubble. However, if you’re in that group, you’re a tiny minority. Most people get it, and the only way Facebook will learn to stop catering to such a small minority is for people to either reduce their presence or leave altogether.

I think I’m going to do my part. I’ve been looking for an excuse to part ways with Facebook, and they just handed me one. My presence is going to be greatly reduced until I settle on another option. I’ll refocus my efforts towards Twitter and my blogs, so if you want to connect on Twitter, just send me a Facebook private message. I have several different handles that deal with different subject matter (geekdom, sports, politics, and law) in order to reduce the noise. As long as I’m still on Facebook, if I see something interesting there, I’ll respond via my Twitter feeds (quick responses) and blog sites (verbose responses). I’ll link to my posts via the Facebook news feed but won’t engage in discussions there, relying only on my posts’ comments sections. I don’t mind discussion on my Facebook wall; I’m just saying I won’t be part of that discussion or even follow it. Will you really miss me though?

No one seemed to miss me for the 24 hours.

This Isn’t the End of the World, but It’s No Small Matter

I’m an attorney. I’m well aware of the distinction between private and public censorship. Private censorship is almost always legal, and public censorship is almost always illegal. Facebook, Twitter, and other “microblogging platforms” are private entities largely permitted to suppress speech, but they’re clearly heading for (if not already there) an oligopoly (i.e., a monopoly, but where there are a tiny number of providers rather than just one), which means antitrust law applies.

While many of you hate the people who joined Parler, don’t you still find it troublesome that, the moment a competitor started to gain a serious foothold in the market, one of Twitter’s companions, Amazon Web Services, effectively bankrupted them by cutting off their access with a 30-hour notice? If MeWe gets too popular, they could be next. Facebook and Twitter could cut out all competition, leaving you no other options, and once that happens, who knows what rules they’ll impose? The fact that one’s access to the primary avenue to communicate with others (i.e., speech), in a pandemic no less, is the precise service being suppressed makes this even more troublesome regardless of whether the government is doing it.

Each of these cases turn on their facts, so I’m not going to condemn or complement the Court’s denial of an injunction in Parler’s suit. Also, this one incident isn’t the end of the world. I’m simply pointing out the immense market power these companies have and how they’re making sure they never lose it. Sooner or later, that will result in an antitrust violation, and the violation will be to everyone’s primary means to connect in the Internet Age. Everyone thinks they’re virtuous, but these giants could easily come for you next. Whether they’re destined to throw you out, or you’re destined to get sick of it and leave by own free will, maybe it’s time to form an exit plan just in case. While doing so, don’t be your own worst enemy by letting these guys off the hook.

My exit plan is under construction. The fact that one is even necessary is evidence advancing my argument.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc

MeWe Exposes Our Hypocrisy @Facebook #MeWe #Facebook

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Don’t worry. This isn’t as heavy-handed a moral lecture as the title makes it sound.

MeWe keeps coming up in my social media feeds. Everyone is asking whether it’s a good platform. Here’s my take on it. MeWe is an attempt to remove the privacy concerns of Facebook, and they absolutely succeed as far as I can tell. However, that’s actually the problem with MeWe. This is a tough pill to swallow, but the truth is that I, and probably many of you, don’t actually want the level of privacy that we demand from Facebook, at least not initially.

One of Facebook’s strengths was allowing us to reconnect with former friends and acquaintances. The privacy protections of MeWe prevent me from doing that. The last I checked, I couldn’t find my friends unless I already had their email addresses. That’s quite an impediment to connecting with lost friends, in which case, what’s the point of MeWe?

But that brings us back to the our own issues. We criticize Facebook’s lack of privacy, but the level of privacy we demand from Facebook would have prevented Facebook from generating its current value to us. I think we are again missing the big picture. The only reason we’re in a position to make such demands from Facebook is because we’ve already used their lack of protections for years to accomplish what we’ve wanted. That is, because we already have found our old friends on Facebook, now we want them to secure the platform. Though there are far greater sins, that’s a bit hypocritical, but the point is this: For new competitors without those existing connections, it’s nearly impossible form them to enter the market, so we’re stuck with Facebook unless we change.

As a result, I have a MeWe account but have no idea what to do with it.

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I’m a Terrible Driver, and So Are You #car #drive #singularity #AI

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Returning now to my recent car purchase, I’ve learned just how bad of a driver I am. I always knew how bad a parker I was, but now I realize that my cruising practices are pretty bad too. The car is fully loaded, which includes all the safety features: blind side detection, intelligent cruise control, lane assist, auto-break, etc. Every time I do something stupid, the car lowers the volume on my music and beeps at me. For the first couple of weeks, that happened a lot. It’s not happening nearly as much now, but damn if the car hasn’t taught me to drive. I still can’t park, but it’s okay, because my self-awareness on that had me heavily relying on the parking features from the moment I bought the car.

I also know that you suck too. That’s right; all of you. My experiences have made me far more aware of my surroundings even when they don’t impact me directly, and it seems like everyone weaves over the lines as they drive. I can tell when other cars have intelligent cruise control because they maintain the same two-second rule. What happened to the three-second rule? That’s for silly humans. When the car is driving, it needs only two seconds. It’s better than you.

Terminator will return in 2019 with the help of James Cameron - The Verge
Gratuitous nerdity for your viewing pleasure.

The singularity is here, and it’s a good thing.

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Good Watch: Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb @Netflix #Saqqara #archaeology

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Netflix suggested Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb to me. Based on the tagline, it seemed like a documentary, but with all the science fiction Netflix has been sending my way, I assumed it was a supernatural thriller. Either way, I was interested. I’m a sucker for ancient mythology and the cultures that create it, so I’ll legitimately enjoy movies of that sort even if the rest of you don’t. But this is a documentary about a real find. Archaeologists found the tomb of Wahtye, an official of the 5th century Egyptian dynasty.

Clocking in at two hours, it deals with both the real world (e.g., archaeology, budget constraints) and the mythological world (i.e., they find a temple to Bastet/Sekhmet). I don’t think it’s for everyone, but it was right up my alley.

It still could have used an animated mummy. As always, YMMV.

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Follow Netflix @Netflix

Don’t Forget to Take Your #Vacation

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This week I’m taking Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off from work. The pandemic eliminates most vacation spots of interest to me, so it’s going to be a staycation. Sadly, I have missions to complete — I got my passport renewed today, am having my annual eye appointment, etc. — but for the most part am just relaxing. As someone who used to never use my vacation hours, I can assure you that this is important, even if I’m not going anywhere.

In case a three-day vacation seems strange, the idea is to avoid making life miserable for my coworkers — Thursdays and Fridays are almost always busy — and to save a few vacation days. I can carry over only one week into the next year, and I intend to do that every year for my annual February vacation. I’ll have a little over two days left, which I’ll burn up over the holiday season. It makes sense, and I’m not going to give up any of my time.

Even if you’ve been working throughout the pandemic, take your vacation. Maybe watch some of the movies and shows I’ve been reviewing.

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“Unknown Unknown” Perils of Space Travel @StarTrek #StarTrek #space

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, however, it’s serious. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and other assorted space scientists always caution us about the “unknown unknown” perils of space travel. This is an example of such a peril. Who could possibly have anticipated this?

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and people walking

At least now we know to look for space rabbits. You’re welcome.

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Follow Star Trek @StarTrek

Twitter Sucks, but Only Because It’s Exactly What We Want It to Be @Twitter #Twitter #SocialMedia

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We all know how humans argue. We don’t listen; we just wait for our turn to speak so we can claim our opponent is wrong. As a result, we hear maybe a sentence or two of an argument, then fill in the missing pieces with our own assumptions and prejudgments about what we think our opponent is arguing. The result is that we hear only a portion of what they say, and even worse interpret their argument in the opposite way in which it was intended.

But it’s not completely our fault. Twitter gives us only 280 characters per tweet, and even if we chain them together, people will usually see only a single tweet in that chain. This reinforces our tendency to address only a portion of our opponent’s argument. As the conversation continues and others contribute, the effect snowballs into a real mess, and you don’t always remember to whom you’ve already clarified your points, meaning you make assumptions about what they understand.

A flowchart of a typical Twitter conversation.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Twitter is so popular and that it’s effect on dialogue mirrors the way we choose to discuss politics and religion. We choose to use Twitter because it’s how we argue. The cure to this social disease is to address only those topics that can be covered in 280 characters. If you want to blog, then blog. If you want to write a PhD dissertation, go back to school. Then it’s not your fault when people choose to miss the point. Otherwise, it is your fault.

But not mine. I’m always right.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc