Links and brief musings for June

Links in English


Schrödinger’s Ursula

Apparently the concept of Schrödinger’s cat got popularized thanks to Ursula Le Guin.

Schrödinger originally invented the cat image as a gag. If true believers in quantum mechanics are right that the microworld’s uncertainties are dispelled only when we observe it, Schrödinger felt, this must also sometimes happen in the macroworld – and that’s ridiculous. Writing in a paper published in 1935 in the German-language journal Naturwissenschaften (23 807), he presented his famous cat-in-a-box image to show why such a notion is foolish.

For a while, few paid attention. […] there were no citations of the phrase “Schrödinger’s cat” in the literature for almost 20 years. […] The American philosopher and logician Hilary Putnam (1926–2016) first learned of Schrödinger’s image around 1960. […] In his 1965 paper “A philosopher looks at quantum mechanics” Putnam called it “absurd” to say that human observers determine what exists. But he was unable to refute the idea. […]

It was to be another decade before the cat and its bizarre implications jumped into popular culture. In 1974 Le Guin published The Dispossessed (1974), an award-winning book about a physicist whose new, relativistic theory of time draws him into the politics of the pacifist-anarchist society in which he lived. […] she read up on relativity theory to make her character’s “theory of simultaneity” sound plausible.

Le Guin, it appears, seems to have read Putnam’s article in about 1972. “The Cat & the apparatus exist, & will be in State 0 or State 1, IF somebody looks,” Le Guin wrote in a note to herself. “But if he doesn’t look, we can’t say they’re in State 0, or State 1, or in fact exist at all.” […]

In “Schrödinger’s cat”, which Le Guin finished in September 1972 but didn’t publish for another two years, an unnamed narrator senses that “things appear to be coming to some sort of climax”. […] Le Guin’s story was soon followed by other fictional and non-fictional treatments of quantum mechanics in which Schrödinger’s cat is a major figure. Examples include the Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy (Robert Anton Wilson, 1979); Schrödinger’s Baby: a Novel (H R McGregor, 1999); Schrödinger’s Ball (Adam Felber, 2006); Blueprints of the Afterlife (Ryan Budinot, 2012).

Parenting advice

Thing of Things: Non-Parents Give Crappy Parenting Advice. Ways in which the common thought of “I’ve been a child so I can give good parenting advice” is misleading:

Children change radically over time, and it’s very easy to assume that if something was good six months ago it’s also good now. Therefore, many people remember chafing at particular rules or feeling patronized by particular ways of talking—but those rules or ways of talking were completely appropriate for them when they were younger, their parents just failed to change strategies quickly enough. However, because of childhood amnesia, those people don’t remember being younger, and therefore assume that the rules are naturally too strict or the way of talking naturally patronizing.

Even if you have an opinion about an age you remember well, you might have forgotten other important details. I spent many years wondering why on earth my mother dragged me to so many activities I hated when I regularly had screaming, crying, miserable meltdowns about how much I hated them. “How hard is it to notice that your screaming, crying child doesn’t want to do that allegedly fun thing?” I thought.

And then I had a child. I realized that small children—at least ones with my genes—melt down a lot. They melt down because a situation is unfamiliar, or a plan changed, or they misunderstood something, or they’re just tired and grouchy. I didn’t remember all meltdowns of that sort I had, because they didn’t make a huge impression on me. I remembered being forced to do things I hated, but not all the times I had an equally dramatic response before being introduced to something I really loved. […]

Of course, you should also refrain from taking your child to fun activities they actually hate. But figuring out which is which is hard and requires good judgment, and it’s easy to err in both directions—something I didn’t appreciate before I had a child.

Further, when a person with little experience of children gives parenting advice, she’s generalizing from the experiences of one person—herself. […] all kinds of completely normal people assume that, if they would have liked to be treated a particular way as a child, all children would like to be treated that way.

Children are as diverse as adults. Some thrive on schedule and routine; others prefer it when things are more flexible. Some are anxious and frightened; others are reckless and fearless. Some love trying new foods; others would prefer a diet of buttered pasta and white bread. Some thirst for knowledge; others would rather do nothing but play Minecraft. […] You might generalize from your experiences of your friends, but remember that your friends tend to be like you. Advice that works great for a bright, driven, curious child works poorly for a child who is slow in school and unmotivated to learn. […]

Finally, a lot of non-parents aren’t really aware of the constraints that parents are under. […] I promise you, no parent is happy about their baby crying on an airplane. […] Even if you’re the best and most empathetic and most devoted parent in the world, sometimes your baby will cry and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. […]

Similarly: my child is running around the BART station because they need to get their energy out somehow or we’re all going to have a bad time; my child is watching a noisy YouTube video because my phone doesn’t have a headphone jack and it was this or a meltdown; my child is crying in the grocery store because I was three-quarters of the way through checking out when they saw the Skittles and I just want to be done […] I think some childfree people don’t quite realize that their preferred norms for children’s behavior amount to “children shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house at all.”

Secret languages

@slimepriestess on Twitter:

there is a “secret language” spoken by children and animals that uses the whole body as a way to send signals, this language is nonverbal and vibes-based, it’s emotional, felt, and intuitive. […]

one claim of the “pre-contact consciousness” model is that humans used to communicate very deeply like this, and then the norms broke down somewhere and people lost the ability to perform this felt dialog. They learned to distrust the channel and ignore what it said to them.

[…] that channel still exists, it didn’t go anywhere, and it still contains a ton of information being transmitted creature to creature, below the level of actual dialogue, often in a state of intense contradiction with what someone says with words.

An example is someone saying “I’m fine” in a way that is obviously not fine. Or insisting they’re okay with something their body is obviously not okay with. The social reality expectation is that you take people on their literal words, even when you observe this contradiction.

And people will take advantage of that, ignoring obvious things on that emotional channel, “well she didn’t SAY she didn’t want it”, that’s only true if you ignore the sublinguistic channel and only look at the literal words, but isn’t doing that awfully convenient?

And then once something IS made legible in english, it can be argued about and it’s fair game for ‘convincing’ them that they’re wrong, that they’re confused about their felt sense, or that it’s irrational and should be ignored. guys do this ALL THE TIME.

Some of it is actually emotional illiteracy or dissociation from one’s felt senses, but not all of it is, and people do use that claim of unseeing as a way to intentionally ignore those signals when you can plausibly say you just didn’t notice them. […]

Being around people who can interact with this channel feels really nice and safe, it lets you feel seen.

converse, being around someone who is unable to see this channel, or who is actively ignoring it, feels like they’re ignoring you, or that you’re invisible to them and the only thing they can see is words from a disembodied ghost, and it doesn’t feel safe or secure. […]

i absolutely don’t think people should ignore the verbal component of communication, or pick one channel over the other, but to notice when they are contradicting and (eheh) delve deeper into their state


David R. MacIver – This is important.

You were born with wings.

This doesn’t make you special. Everyone was born with wings. This is normal.

You see small children flying about sometimes. Their parents smile tolerantly. It’s perfectly normal, children do that.

They don’t show their children how to fly better though. Instead, they teach them how to walk.

Adults don’t fly you see. Oh, maybe some do. Artists and degenerates, maybe. But it’s childish. We’ve outgrown that.

You are no different to anyone else. You have wings, but you don’t fly.

It’s hard to fly you see. It was easy as a child, but children are small and light.

As an adult, you are weighed down by your larger adult body, and there isn’t really room. You live in the city, with high walls and lines above-head. You’d hurt yourself if you tried to fly. Where would you even start?

Your wings haven’t been used in so long, they’re weak and flabby. You doubt they could support your weight even if you let them.

But they itch. They know what they’re for, and they want to be used.

You talk about this with your friends and colleagues.

“Oh yes,” they say. “I remember when I was young and thought flying was the greatest thing ever. But I’ve outgrown that. These days I’ve got both feet on the ground, too many responsibilities to be flighty don’t you know. Ha ha.”

Everything but the laugh sounds sincere.

You talk about it some more, and are reliably informed that it’s impossible for an adult to fly, that it would be too much work, that it wouldn’t be worth it even if you could.

You don’t believe them.

So one day, you leave the city, and find a nice empty space to try to fly in. You stretch your wings, you jump… and you fall.

Your wings haven’t been used in so long, they’re weak and flabby. They can’t support your weight even if you want them to.

But that? That is just a problem. You can solve it.

It takes you less time than you think. You find ways to stretch your wings and strengthen them without flying. You watch videos, you read instructions, you get the basics down.

You go back out there every week, and you practice your running jumps, your glides.

And then, one day, you catch the wind just right, and you soar. The sublime arrives as you head skywards. It stays as you crash down to the earth.

Because this was just a first success. You barely flew, but you flew. And now you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Better.

I am trying to show you that you have wings. Rise.

[if you liked this, see the whole article for more of the same]

Why not unschool

Kelsey Piper on reasons not to unschool.

I know a lot of parents who unschool – homeschool with no curriculum or set goals for what the kids learn, in favor of the kids learning whatever interests them. It’s popular among people who care a lot about not coercing children unnecessarily and people who are often really thoughtful about children’s independence and happiness, so I take it pretty seriously, and some people have asked me why we’re not doing that.

Broadly, we’re not unschooling because adults I talked to who were unschooled often had very mixed feelings about it, I think as often implemented it ends up limiting kids’ freedom by making it hard for them to access some methods of learning, and because the culture around unschooling that I ran into bothered me in various ways.

(much more behind the link)

Musings in English


Survey answers

In 2017 I was putting down important information in surveys.

The survey had more than one of these fields.

Litany against stones

I’m sure I’m not the first one to think of this, but it occurred to me that the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear is also applicable to kidney stones:

I will face my kidney stone.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the stone has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Incidentally, it seems like I had my first one ever in early June. I count myself lucky since it was a relatively mild one, meaning that the pain only ranged from “unpleasant but bearable” to “has me on the floor basically immobilized”. Still, this is one achievement that I could’ve gone without unlocking.

In The Beginning

Conversation elsewhere got me to look up what the illustrious and awe-inspiring start of my blogging career was


The Buddha and friendship

The Buddha on how to treat your friends; this seems like a nice set of principles:

There are five ways in which a man should minister to his friends and companions as the northern direction: by gifts, by kindly words, by looking after their welfare, by treating them like himself, and by keeping his word. And there are five ways in which friends and companions, thus ministered to by a man as the northern direction, will reciprocate: by looking after him when he is inattentive, by looking after his property when he is inattentive, by being a refuge when he is afraid, by not deserting him when he is in trouble, and by showing concern for his children.

(From DN 31: Sigālaka Sutta, reprinted in “In the Buddha’s Words“)

Two types of Buddhist texts

Social engineering

Feeling like a clever social engineer because my gym was like “would you like this special offer to renew your membership more cheaply, only available for a limited time, respond by Monday if you want it” and then I missed the first email about it and only saw their reminder late during Monday

And then I finally got around emailing them around half an hour after the deadline with a “hey I missed the deadline by half an hour but could I still get this deal” knowing that of course I would, these kind of limited-time things are basically fake and no salesperson would miss their chance to make a sale because of enforcing an arbitrary deadline

All the while also thinking about the way that “make your mark think that they’re being so clever by cheating the conman” is by itself a classic element in a con and the end result of this “clever social engineering” was just that… they got me to do what they wanted me to do in the first place

But whatever, I’ll still feel clever about it anyway

(Oh and yes they did agree to give me the deal despite me missing the deadline)

The notifications you get these days

Suomeksi / Links and musings in Finnish


Pelottavan hyvä tietojenkalasteluyritys

Milla Sallinen:

Minulle soitti päivällä mies Omalainasta. Kertoi, että lainahakemukseni on hyväksytty, ja lainasumma voitaisiin maksaa minulle jo saman päivän aikana. Halusi puhelinsoitolla vielä varmistaa, että on varmasti oikea hakemus kyseessä, koska laina oli määrätty maksettavaksi toisen henkilön tilille, nimi oli Ahmed- jotakin.

Sanoin, etten ole hakenut mitään lainaa. Mies vaikutti hämmästyneeltä, ja sanoi että 8500 euron lainan hakemiseen oli tunnistauduttu minun pankkitunnuksillani. Kysyi olinko klikkaillut linkkejä tai olisivatko tunnukseni päässeet muuta kautta jonkun toisen käyttöön.

Kielsin, koska näissä asioissa olen mielestäni varsin tarkka. Mies pahoitteli ja kertoi, että olen ilmeisesti kuitenkin joutunut rikoksen kohteeksi. Sanoi, että minun kannattaisi ottaa nyt viipymättä yhteyttä pankkiini, jotta he selvittävät kuinka paljon tunnuksiani on jo käytetty ja pääsisin tekemään rikosilmoituksen. Kysyi asiointipankkini ja lupasi kääntää puhelun sinne heti. Pyysi minua kirjoittamaan ylös lainahakemusnumeron, jota voivat pankissa kysyä.

Puhelu kääntyi, ja odotin hetken. Danskebankista vastasi nainen, joka kysyi kyseisen lainahakemusnumeron ja kertoi, että näitä tapauksia oli nyt ollut valitettavan paljon. Ilmeisesti jossakin oli tapahtunut tietovuoto ja he selvittelevät asiaa. Hänen mukaansa nimissäni oli tehty myös toinen lainahakemus Norwegian Bank tms. nimissä. Aikoi nämä peruuttaa.

Kysyin, pitääkö minun nyt toimia jotenkin, ja hän suositteli että pankkitunnukset kannattaa varalta sulkea ja tilata uudet. Hän lupasi sulkea tunnukset heti ja sanoi että tarvitsee käyttäjätunnukseni, minkä jälkeen minun tulisi vahvistaa tunnistautumiseni Danske ID- tunnuksella.

Tässä vaiheessa sanoin, että en halua antaa tunnuksiani puhelimessa. Sanoin, että kirjaudun mielelläni itse ensiksi omaan pankkiini ja asioin sen kautta. Virkailija oli ymmärtäväinen ja sanoi, että voin hoitaa asian toki myös niin, mutta minun olisi toimittava viipymättä. Sanoin, että teen niin, en anna tunnuksiani puhelimessa. Nainen lupasi laittaa uudet tunnukset tulemaan expresspostina, niin homma olisi sitten nopea hoitaa konttorissa. Päätin puhelun siihen.

Soitin Danskebankiin. Ja niinhän se oli, että tämä on taas yksi uusi tapa huijata ja kalastella pankkitunnuksia. Kukaan ei ollut käyttänyt tunnuksiani yhtään mihinkään, eikä nimissäni oltu haettu lainoja. Pankin asiakaspalvelijat eivät kysy koskaan asiakkaiden käyttäjätunnuksia. Jos puhelu vaatii tunnistautumista, se tapahtuu yleensä automaattitunnistuksessa puhelun alussa, silloin kun asiakas itse soittaa suoraan pankkiin.

Soitin myös Omalainaan. En ollut ainoa joka oli soitellut. Heille oli tullut lyhyen ajan sisällä yhteydenottoja useilta muiltakin, jotka eivät ole edes heidän asiakkaitaan. Minäkään en ollut. He toivoivat rikosilmoituksen tekemistä, jotta poliisikin kiinnostuisi. Harkitsevat sen tekemistä myös itse.



Jos turkulainen uskoo että Styks-virta erottaa tuonpuoleisen ja tämänpuoleisen, ovatko ne sitten tuol ja täl pual jokkee?

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