Social media vignettes: January 2014 edition

Working together, the Elves and Sauron created sixteen Rings of Power, each of which held an advanced artificial intelligence capable of enhancing its wielder’s power. But Sauron tricked the elves, for he had installed a backdoor in each of the AIs: and he then created the One Ring, the world’s most sophisticated portable supercomputer, which he equipped with the cryptographic keys necessary for exploiting the backdoors, and into which he uploaded most of his consciousness.

(January 16th.)


Liar’s paradox: if you’re a fake hipster before it’s cool, then being X before it’s cool makes you a real hipster. But then you’re not a fake, so you can’t be fake before it’s cool, meaning that you’re not a real hipster anymore.

(January 16th.)


Funny Finnish For Foreigners: Jeesustella.

One of the amusing words in Finnish is “Jeesustella”. An application of the (language-independent) principle that All Nouns Can Be Verbed, Jeesustella literally means “to Jesus”. Thus, a literal translation of the Finnish sentence “älä jeesustele siinä” would be “don’t Jesus there”. A more idiomatic (if considerably less concise) translation would be “quit with that holier-than-thou attitude, you’re acting like you thought you were Jesus Christ or something”.

Of course, if you are inclined towards wordplay, you can sometimes get an opportunity to use the word in its more literal meaning. Just a moment ago, I told my mother that “tulin juuri jeesustelemasta, kävin kävelemässä vetten päällä” – “I just came back from being Jesus, I went walking on water”. Which is to say that I took a walk on the frozen ice of the nearby sea.

(January 22nd.)


Someone asked me: “Why are you utilitarian?”

And I replied: At heart, utilitarianism feels like what you get when you ask yourself, “would I rather see few people hurt than many, many people happy rather than few, and how important do I think that to be”, answer “I’d rather see few people hurt, rather see many people happy, and this is important”, and then apply that systematically. Or if you just imagine yourself as having one miserable or fantastic experience, and then ask yourself what it would be like to have that experience many times over, or whether the importance of that experience is at all diminished just because it happens to many different people. Basically, utilitarianism feels like applied empathy.

(January 27th.)

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