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Semiformalishmaybe

Open-ended Gaols

Spent much of the evening in a mid-strength migraine. One of the things I've learned about my migraines is that they come in four types:

  • Type1 - Thrashing, no vision, limited hearing, no balance, intense nausea, pain turns off almost all thought, nothing can be done about it
  • Type2a - If you lie down, it'll just hurt a lot, and if you meditate you can dull the pain to being bearable. Dim the lights and avoid any noise and in a few hours it'll be ok. Heaven help you if you get this without easy access to someplace to lie down. This is the kind of migraine that normally prompts me to try to have access to a dark room at work.
  • Type2b - If you sit or lie down, it'll be quite bad, but if you stand (leaning against a wall) it'll just be pretty bad. No meditation plus though, and you won't have full vision or hearing usually. Nausea is normally not present, and sometimes it helps to eat. If you concentrate, you can interact with other people and they'll probably just notice you seem a bit out of it.
  • Type3 - Latent. Background pain, impressions of eyes feeling unusually hot (or cold), feeling of dryness in the brain. Motion sensitivity; don't do anything strenuous. Often leads up to a worse headache, but if you take it easy you might be ok. Tends to last all day.
Tonight was a 2b. Hoping I don't get any migraines at all in NYC later this week.

Right now it's faded to a Type3, as I spent about 15 minutes under a very very hot shower, which generally helps. I prefer Type2a migraines over Type2b, as being forced to stand makes it hard to rest and I've grown pretty decent at meditation to dull the pain of Type2a.

Still thinking about stories and authorship and the desire for complexity. A few weeks ago there was a neat video Vi Hart linked to regarding randomness; it included a simple experiment showing how bad we are at producing "random" numbers by comparing the frequencies in triplets of produced numbers (random association: Markov chains) between a computer and a human. Of course, I don't expect computers to be perfect at this either; there are no real sources of randomness computers can harness even if they have algorithms that produce things that are at least robustly unpredictable across a number of metrics. Randomness has a lot of fascinating philosophy about it. The reason I brought it up is I've been thinking about props and character quirks, and how representative of the full range of human personalities (and the full range of stuff we carry around with us and its potential configurations, like half-tied shoes). Filtering that possibility through human reason in the form of authorship reduces it a number of ways, at least including things that are interesting for a story, and things that are easily described. The latter is far more interesting to me; if we were to take 100 real people we meet on public transit and try to describe them pretty well; well enough for them, in their current outfits and moods, to be depicted well by an actor and reasonable access to props, I would bet we'd lose out on a lot of the half-tones and quarter-tones of moods, those half-tied shoelaces, and coats that are slightly fuzzy and slightly dirty but not remarkably either. The thought is that our classification system's terms have gravity. Intuitively I think this is a problem, but I am not sure why. If I accept it as a problem, I imagine some of the flattening of reality can be undone by inserting random (or other) noise by the actor (or the reader/viewer!); from improvisation of lines to modifying stuff to give it more character, they can restore some of the "no official narrative" feel that reality has.

Maybe the intuition I'm having trouble saying is that I worry that our stories make us captive, and that if we live too much in a world filtered by author's intuitions, we become detached from the complexity of reality. My almost-religious belief in "Death of the Author" limits that a bit in that with any story we hear I think we should own the copy (or copies) we keep in our head, merrily tossing out bits that the author put in if we don't like them, adding our own bits, mixing in our own mythos, and telling the author to stuff it if they try to tell us not to do that because it is "their" story. Intellectual independence is at stake. Still, that's only a subset of the issue at hand.

The first time I was exposed to this family ideas was when I learned about Loki's Wager.

I am very concerned about the developing situation between Israel, Iran, and the United States. We are continuing to see the US (and friendly media) nervously beginning to lay the groundwork for an invasion they won't be able to stay out of, for the sake of supporting Israel's not-so-subtle hints at an attack on Iran. AIPAC is only part of the problem; there's a substantial part of the American population that will support Israel no matter what they do, and has a positive thirst to stomp on any part of the world that isn't nominally Christian.

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