My First Summer In The Saltmines

December 23rd, 2019

I entered the saltmines for the first time at 17. I had picked up a few programming skills at a younger age that helped me land a job over the summer. The first skill I acquired, which still helps me to this day, is the ability to type quickly. In early middle school I had a weekly class where we used a program called Type To Learn. Doing exercises from that program formed habits that permit me a 110wpm typing speed. Towards the end of middle school, I took my first programming class. I used RealBasic to program some interactive visual animations. I remember distinctly making a ball bounce on a screen; it grew and shrank as it went up and down since its size was defined as a function of its y coordinate. With some free time I played with Autoscript V3, a programming language for windows that had readily available functions for simulating key presses and mouse movements. Then later I learned a bit of scheme and java in high school classes. During free time in high school I taught myself some python and set up a web server running django. The programming experience I obtained by 17 is much less than a kid can/should have at that age, but it was more than most do.

So with these basic skills I got an internship at Morgan Stanley through my high school Stuyvesant. The internship was a mentorship program where I met for lunch weekly with one employee while working for a separate team within the company. My mentor was the salesman type. He told me to read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. According to him, that was the most important book to succeed in business. I learned from the book something akin to the idea that people do what they think is in there best interest. But I partially blame Mr. Carnegie for my having picked up the bad habit of bending what I say to match what I believe people want to hear.

For the job portion of the mentorship program, I was assigned to a team of three close friends. They had joined Morgan Stanley together and, unlike my social mentor, kept separate from the other employees. In the only meeting I went to with them, they got into a loud fight with another team.

We worked on a project called TAP, Temporary Access Protocol. Morgan Stanley had just gone through a merger or some other major bureaucratic event that had changed compliance rules throughout the company. I was supposed to help the team build a unix tool where users could request permission to access files and a superior could grant that permission for a set period of time. The work they gave me was first to teach myself perl and then do some exercises to learn how to write regular expressions. The team also had me study the Kerberos authentication protocol. So for a big chunk of the internship I was getting paid $15/hour to learn. Eventually I had to write a piece of code that sent out an email when an event happened, and I ended the internship doing some QA testing for the team.

My cubicle was positioned next to this loud, fat lady. While I was teaching myself perl she just filed her nails, making a phone call now and then. Naive to the way of the world, I was surprised that someone could work in an amazing company like Morgan Stanley while doing jack shit. At lunch one day I asked my team leader just what is it she does here. He explained to me that there were many people in the company who did nothing, and those who did do something could usually have their jobs replaced by a script.1

There was more ridiculousness I saw go on within the walls of Morgan Stanley's skyscraper at One New York Plaza near Bowling Green. My classmate at Stuyvesant who also got an internship there had been abandoned by his team. His manager never gave him any assignment, so he would just come to work for 40 hours a week and be paid to do whatever he liked at his desk. He used his paid free time to work on some graphic art and make a video game. Recalling the insanity at Morgan Stanley only serves to reinforce my "extract from" rather than "work for" attitude towards the salt mines.

  1. He warned that it was not good politics to write said scripts. []

The Preassembled Machine

December 22nd, 2019

The ever helpful ticos unboxed all the parts I ordered1 and assembled my computer for me. It looks reasonably put together, but my knowledge of computer assembly is zilch. I don't even know where I'd place my two hard drives with this setup.

ticocomp-1

ticocomp-2

The interface to the motherboard has no cover. That appears a recipe to expediate the dust collecting process.

ticocomp-3

  1. Save for the SD card reader, which they did not include and did not bother to tell me it was missing until after I was picking up the package from the post office. []

Finding Meaning in a Deterministic World (Part 4)

December 22nd, 2019

Continued from part 3.

The best shot at finding one's way is through submission to a worthy master. Left alone, one is destined to explore paths that lead to nowhere. Only through following the instructions of someone who knows which branches to follow and which to avoid can one move efficiently towards a goal. Thus, in a quest for some notion of individuality I have wound up on my knees.

The process of submitting to diana_coman and joining young hands began when I announced my plans in channel to move to Costa Rica and start doing something with my life. My message was not directed to her, but diana_coman congratulated me and asked what I had been working on. To which I had to respond ~ "nothing." She invited me to #ossasepia1 and advised me to switch my attitude from "I can start helping" to "I'll ask for help and do what I'm asked to do, today."

Speaking with diana_coman, which started on September 11th and has continued to the present, has changed my view of the people who comprise2 TMSR. I did not have a full appreciation of her mental prowess until we had a few back and fourths. Her ability to parse my own words better than I could myself and quickly reply to messages with meaningful responses is something I could not have understood by just reading her blog. Having gained tremendous respect for diana_coman, I also readjusted my opinion of the other lords.3

Shortly after speaking with diana_coman, I submitted to her and joined young hands. I don't recall the exact moment I pledged because it felt only a formality. From the moment I begun conversing with diana_coman, I was following her advice.4 She helped me make important decisions that affect me to this day. For example, before I pledged diana_coman motivated me to be more systematic in my search for a place to live in Guanacaste and make more out of my trip to Japan and Korea by assigning me to document the journey.5

Diana Coman played her hand first and made it in my best interest to submit to her. It is my duty to return the favor and make it in her best interest to remain my master. I started with doubts on my ability to do the later, but respect for myself and diana_coman6 has calmed those worries. I'm grateful for the way my interest in bitcoin helped me find a way to agency7 via the unexpected path of submission to diana_coman's judgement.

  1. Technically to #spyked as well. []
  2. I incorrectly wrote the word comprise as compromise when I published this article. []
  3. When I was passively reading the logs, I the ridiculous notion that the lords who didn't speak much in #trilema didn't do much either. Gotta watch out for the quiet ones. []
  4. Well, Will's "surprisingly" convenient interpretation of her advice. []
  5. With a great camera, too! []
  6. Respecting your master means respecting their ability to choose their pages. []
  7. And thus meaning. []

Finding Meaning in a Deterministic World (Part 3)

December 21st, 2019

Continued from part 2.

Men have agency, but they pay a price for every wrong decision. What, is one going to act irrationally to prove to themselves they have free will? No, despite having agency men must try to make the right turn at every juncture. That is the meaning of life, to come up with the best move for each proposed game as you walk along destiny's path.

Which games to play and which to ignore? This is the most important question in the world. The first game to play is obvious. It is the game of physical health. To be lazy about the maintenance of one's own body is a deep moral failure.1 No matter what you decide to do it always pays to be well fed and well rested.

The next game to play is loosely titled ~ take the bitcoins2 from the USG and put them in the hands of The Most Serene Republic. Yes, of all the things one could do with their life I see no wiser choice than to partake in a variant of this game. Not only does playing pay out handsomely,3 but the act helps kill the cancerous state.

Having a general notion of this game, but not knowing who or what comprised TMSR, I wandered into a chat channel4 with men having conversation that demonstrated they had a better understanding of everything. regarding bitcoin. I went in and out of the channel, making a few interactions and reading the logs, but I never engaged fully for reasons that can be summarized with the words cowardice and vanity. I was intimidated5 by those who understood this game far better than me and feared the work required to play.

Continue to part 4

  1. This is my memory of a quote from trilema about fat people, but I am unable to find the link to the source. []
  2. The value created by collectively collecting bitcoins is a fine example of how people create meaning. Without self conscious entities being the ones firing transactions, bitcoin would just be a set of gas molecules playing out a process. []
  3. Provided you can safely keep a bitstring a secret. Not an easy task! []
  4. We are jumping back in time to late 2014 / early 2015. []
  5. I incorrectly wrote the word intimidated as intimated when I published this article. []

Finding Meaning in a Deterministic World (Part 2)

December 19th, 2019

Continued from part 1.

Philosophizing is nothing but mental masturbation unless it guides one's decisions. With this in mind, I needed a way to rationalize taking action while believing in determinism. The paradoxical answer I've come up with is: it was predetermined that men would have agency.

All events to come will be played out according to the laws of physics. But this is not mutually exclusive with agency. When one observes two processes or pieces of matter interacting, they can describe one as the causant and the other as the reactant.1 With a flame under a pot of water, the flame is the causant and the water is the reactant. With or without the water in the pot, the flame remains a flame. With or without the flame, the water in the pot turns to gas or stays a liquid. Agency is the state of being the flame.2

Given men have agency, the inner workings of the mind will be a major cause of one's life outcomes. So you can send any "oh determinism means no free will means no reason I should try" ideas packing. That settled, we can question what to do with one's life.

The way I answered that a year ago was to take the least resistance path to what I perceived would bring happiness: weed, surfing, and girls. I have no regrets and the surf lifestyle is certainly better than the lifestyle of the sad lot of office drones in Goolag. But having no regrets does not mean I am happy with the choices I made.

Although men have agency, one is not free from the consequence of one's actions or lack thereof. As much as I enjoyed myself, I felt pain from seeing my btc addy have its UTXO's turn into STXO's.3 In addition to getting poorer I was getting dumber, actively by smoking weed and passively by forgoing intellectual activities such as learning a new language. I knew I was stunting my development, but I did not understand4 to what degree.

Continue to part 3

  1. Please forget your chemistry lingo, I'm making my own words here! []
  2. Since reactions can happen in simultaneous directions, agency is scalar. []
  3. spent transaction outputs. []
  4. Or rather hid from myself []

Setting up trinque's logbot on centos 6 with sbcl, quicklisp, swank, and postgres

December 19th, 2019

While this guide goes over how to setup logbot, it should be a useful reference for anyone who wants to start a sbcl process on a remote machine and then be able to interact with that process through their local repl1 - connecting / disconnecting and firing off subthreads at will.

I. Install SBCL 1.4.14

Connect to your centos6 VM as root. You can download sbcl 1.4.14 from my new codeshelf.2

wget http://ztkfg.com/wp-content/uploads/codeshelf/logbot_on_centos6/sbcl-1.4.14-x86-64-linux-binary.tar.bz2
keksum sbcl-1.4.14-x86-64-linux-binary.tar.bz2
3ed51048236e419fb0d0321a1dd71f33da7fa2055682824cb07a2bda2053b3d3925510d34fcae3e9727f24bf3398bbc342b6c2fd86d12ceb7b94eeba0e0c57a0

bzip2 -cd sbcl-1.4.14-x86-64-linux-binary.tar.bz2 | tar xvf -
cd sbcl-1.4.14-x86-64-linux
./install.sh

II. Install quicklisp and swank.

Create and ssh into the user that will be running your program.3
Then download quicklisp either from quicklisp.org or from my codeshelf.

wget http://ztkfg.com/wp-content/uploads/codeshelf/logbot_on_centos6/quicklisp.lisp
keksum quicklisp.lisp
f71b197472043b0bf7cce9e44437e75b485ca3d6f32eb3e7da5687d94964b535aadc059e4cf34ad42927cb18de044aa2ac93894193d2e5ffec5ceabde948c25a

Load quicklisp, then inside the repl: install quicklisp, set (load "~/quicklisp/setup.lisp") to run when you start sbcl, then install slime so that you can start a swank server.

sbcl --load quicklisp.lisp

(quicklisp-quickstart:install)
(ql:add-to-init-file)
(ql:quickload "quicklisp-slime-helper")
(quit)

III. Start and connect to the swank server.

Make a file named start_swank.lisp, with the following contents:4

(defvar *alive* t)
(load "~/quicklisp/setup.lisp")
(ql:quickload :swank)
(swank:create-server)
(loop (sleep 10000) (if (not *alive*) (quit)))

then start the server.

nohup sbcl --script start_swank.lisp &

Now you have a swank server running. If you have a local emacs with slime installed, you can connect by using a terminal to start an ssh tunnel

ssh -L 4005:localhost:4005 USER@123.123.123.1235

and then within emacs run slime-connect to connect to the swank-server on localhost with port 4005

m-x slime-connect; ret; ret;

If you enter

*alive*

into the repl and get back T, you are connected!

IV. Grab trinque's source.

UPDATE: If you want to connect to multiple channels, you'll want ben_vulple's vpatch logbot-multiple-channels-correct

The vpatches that constitute trinque's code can be found here. Some of the vpatches use keccak for hashing, some use sha512sum. So you will need two versions of V, or a V that can handle both forms of hashing, to press everything.

Once you've grabbed the sources place them in the

~/quicklisp/local-projects/

directory of the user that will be running the swank server.

V. Install & Setup Postgres 9.4

ssh into root. First you will download the repository information to be able to install postgres94 with yum. I mirrored the repository rpm on my codeshelf.6

wget http://ztkfg.com/wp-content/uploads/codeshelf/logbot_on_centos6/pgdg-redhat-repo-latest.noarch.rpm
keksum pgdg-redhat-repo-latest.noarch.rpm
1d9c48fb19d05368b87a9c1bc0287c02f89653adbd0dc820be9b77c733c7ce6b1a07c146d6e98219c38a5bace3d42f192519f356e2f95f9062def849363cf2be

rpm -ivh pgdg-redhat-repo-latest.noarch.rpm
yum install postgresql94 postgresql94-server postgresql94-contrib

Now that postgres v9.4 is installed init the db

/etc/init.d/postgresql-9.4 initdb

That command will have created a conf file

/var/lib/pgsql/9.4/data/pg_hba.conf

Edit this file changing

# IPV4 local connections
host all all 127.0.0.1/32 ident

to

# IPV4 local connections
host all all 127.0.0.1/32 md57

Now start the db, and set it to start on boot.

/etc/init.d/postgresql-9.4 start
chkconfig postgresql-9.4 on

Then hop in the postgres shell.

su postges
psql

Once inside the postgres shell, run the following commands, changing the values in capital letters as appropriate. Note that the
NONROOTUSER needs to be the same as the name of the user created in step II. that will run logbot / the swank server.:

create datbase logbotdb;
create user NONROOTUSER with encrypted password 'THEPASSWORD';
grant all privileges on schema public to NONROOTUSER;
\q

Reconnect into the logbotdb and create the necessary extensions.

psql logbotdb

create extension if not exists plpgsql;
create extension if not exists pgcrypto;
create extension if not exists "uuid-ossp";

These last three create extension commands are in trinque's logbot.sql file that we are about to run. However, I had to run these manually in the shell while su'd to postgres. The NONROOTUSER does not have permission to create the extensions.

Now ssh into the NONROOTUSER and edit logbot.sql removing those three lines above.

--- create extension if not exists plpgsql;
--- create extension if not exists pgcrypto;
--- create extension if not exists "uuid-ossp";

Then run

psql -f logbot.sql logbotdb;

You're done! If you run

psql logbotdb;

and then in the postgres shell:

\dt

You should see two tables log and outbox. If everything looks good you can refer to the instructions at the end of step 3 to start the swank server that will run logbot. Once the swank server is running connect your local slime repl and then follow the logbot instructions.

---

Future steps to improve the setup process:

1. Slime and postgres9.4 and all related packages should be stored on a codeshelf.
2. Quicklisp, slime, and eventually sbcl should be signed.
3. There may be a better way to create/run the start_swank.lisp script.
4. It may be worth creating a vpatch removing logbot.sql create extensions lines and then adding the instructions on how to create the extensions while root to logbot's INSTALL file.

  1. Well the "r", "p", and "l" are local. The evaluation happens on the VM. []
  2. Note: I tried other versions of sbcl to no avail. The default version installed with yum has an asdf version incompatible with the libraries used by logbot. The most recent versions of sbcl on sbcl.org wouldn't compile on my machine. I found this version of sbcl on sourceforge. []
  3. On digitalocean you will need to allow your newly created user to accept connections from your machine by copying over the authorized_keys from root. While inside root run:

    adduser newuser
    mkdir /home/newuser/.ssh
    cp ~/.ssh/authorized_keys /home/newuser/.ssh/authorized_keys
    
    chown newuser /home/newuser/.ssh
    chown newuser /home/newuser/.ssh/authorized_keys

    []

  4. The infinite loop that sleeps for 10,000 seconds each iteration to keep the process running works well, but I do not think it's the right way to do what I want. I tried to run the script without the infinte loop with sbcl --load start_swank.lisp. However this did not work with nohup because of the way nohup redirects stdin/stdout. Using --load may work with screen, but screen does not come preinstalled on centos 6. []
  5. replace USER and 123.123.123.123 accordingly []
  6. This is put on the codeshelf for convenience. The rpm file is not the source, but rather the file that contains the location of the source. []
  7. This will allow you to later be able to connect to the database via cl's postgres library with the "encrypted" (i.e. hashed) password. []

Finding Meaning in a Deterministic World (Part 1)

December 19th, 2019

My teachers during childhood pushed Catholicism. The goal of life was to live according to Jesus and to make it into heaven. I believed them until I was roughly nine,1 when I caught my mother putting money under my pillow on behalf of the tooth fairy. I was pissed and immediately put two and two together asking her, "so Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, abrakadabra,2 and God are all lies too?" My mother conceded the first three were made up, but held that God was real. Thus began the atheism phase. I was ready, willing, and able to argue with anyone that God does not exist.

The other world view tossed onto me was to serve the state.3 Unlike with Catholicism where religious leaders directly said to live a life serving God, there was nobody who explicitly said that one should dedicate their life to the USG. But being instructed to recite the pledge of allegiance4 daily and having to listen to the constant parroting of the propaganda networks talking points made the implicit message clear. America was the beacon of light that created democracy, the only "fair" form of government where everyone had a voice. It was one's life duty to maintain its existence.

Rejecting both of these philosophies early on, I fell into a mild nihilistic depression. People who believe in God or the state can use this as a reason to get up in the morning. Countless gold medal winning athletes use their faith in God to push themselves to victory. I was missing their useful delusion.

At MIT I took an introductory philosophy course that gave me some time to think about some of these bigger questions in life. One topic the class went over was free will.5 From what I discussed in the class and from reading a translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace I became convinced (and am to this day) that we live in a deterministic world. I see the universe as a process playing out a linear flow of events determined by an initial condition and a set of rules.6

This may be the same view I had during my "nihilistic depression." Except now I had a way to articulate it. And since I had captured my thoughts into words, I could start to move the perspective to a healthier point of view.

Continue to part 2

  1. Diana Coman's little one beat me to it. []
  2. My parents told me that automatic doors opened when one said abrakadabra. So I would shout abrakadabra as I walk into commercial buildings with doors that opened via sensors. I liked this power, my childhood self didn't do anything to test whether or not it was real. []
  3. The importance of the state was an emphasis at Stuyvesant High School, given that it was a government run magnet school. Stuyvesant's entrance-exam-only admittance criteria made for an interesting student body, but the administration was atrocious. Teachers get to pick where they work within NYC's Department of Education via seniority. Many awful teachers near retirement choose to teach at Stuyvesant. They always get exemplary performance reviews, because those reviews are based on the students' results on local tests. Although the local tests are meant to asses knowledge in specific subjects, in reality they are only basic literacy tests that every Stuyvesant student excels on no matter how poor their instruction. []
  4. Which went something like ~
    I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Thank you very, very much for letting us little kids live here. It really, really was nice of you. You didn't have to do it. And it's really not freaky to have little, little kids mindlessly recite this anthem everyday and pledge their life to a government before they're old enough to really think about what they're saying. This is not a form of brainwashing, this is not a form of brainwashing, this is not a form of brainwashing. This is really the greatest country in the whole world. All the other countries suck. And if this country ever goes to war, as it often wants to do, I promise to help go and kill all the other countries' kids. God bless Johnson and Johnson. God bless GE. God bless Citigroup. Amen.

    []

  5. I know, I know, quite the cliché topic. But when asked "do you believe in free will?" the question has a little more punch to me, given my name. []
  6. This view remains the same whether or not the code that weaves the universe contains a random function. []

My Memory of James, The Boy who Introduced me to the Wonderfully Weird Web

December 17th, 2019

I owe my interests in computers in part to James, a boy I met when I was about eleven. James brought me from the boring censored world of myspace and facebook to the exciting land of 4chan, rich with tits and gore. He put the word hacking into my head. Not hacking in the lame meaning of "let's build a (mobile) app" but instead "let's fuck up someone's computer." I can't say he taught me to do anything interesting/impressive, but his eagerness to take a walk outside of the fence of allowed thought and action opened up my world view.

James transferred into my middle school1 at the beginning of sixth grade. Friendships and cliques had already been established so integrating was difficult for the annual 1-2 new kids. And the integration of James, who severely lacked charisma, was no exception. He was a scrawny pale kid who lived in a small apartment with his single mother.2 I can't remember why I went to his house the first time or started hanging out with him. I imagine my mother organized some play-date, she has always been the soccer mom who makes sure no kid sits lonely in the corner.

I remember distinctly that his bedroom had a motherboard glued to a wall. This was probably just some good 'ole green on black hacker signalling, but the site of someone's exploration into the inner workings of a computer caught my eye enough that I remember it today. I disliked my time hanging out at his place. He spent the time looking at YTMND,3 a website for a meme generating community that has since shut down.

Although I only went to his house once or twice, we continued to hang out during and after school. James constantly received detention for pissing off teachers. There was a period where he would bring into school this device that emitted a high frequency noise that went in and out of human hearing range. The sound was so fucking annoying and it destroyed any possibility of learning. Since it went off irregularly, it was impossible for the teachers to find the small little gadget.

James pulled me into one of the other ways he liked to be annoying: prank phone calls via Skype. Instead of speaking ourselves we used soundboards, redirecting our audio output into the microphone input. My favorite soundboard had soundbytes from the thriller Phonebooth, a movie where a gentleman picks up a ringing telephone and finds out the person he's speaking with is a sniper aiming a rifle at him. The soundboard had a clip of the villain calmly saying, I have a highly magnified telescopic image of you. Now what kind of a device has a telescopic sight mounted on it? ... A 30-calibre bolt-action 700 with a Carbon One modification and a state-of-the-art Hensoldt tactical scope. And it's staring straight at you. *cocks gun.* At least one prank call recipient threatened to call the police.

James died suddenly in his sleep from an aneurysm a couple of years ago. I hadn't seen or spoken to him since the end of middle school. Our friendship fell apart because I started spending all my time with my first girlfriend. James almost went on a date with her friend, but she stood him up. He took revenge by calling her mother with a fake caller id - 911 - pretending to be a police officer investigating his own suicide. Speaking as the police officer, he said that he saw the girl's name mentioned in the suicide note and asked do you know why that might be? They bought it; the girl called me in tears. I learned about caller id spoofing that day, Jame's diabolic schemes usually contained a lesson.

  1. A small, private, catholic all-boys school on the upper east side of NYC []
  2. This was quite a different situation than some of the other kids in my middle school, some of whose parents had the "oh there's no flights to our three story house on a ski resort in Utah this weekend? Let us get you a private jet then so you can make it out anyways" type of money. []
  3. You're the man now dog! []

My Memory of 9/11

December 17th, 2019

I took a writing course in high school titled Creative Non-Fiction. The course went over how to write memoirs and the like. During one class a peer asked, "What am I to write if I am unsure whether I can recall the events correctly?" The teacher responded saying memory is so faulty that even when an author believes he's being honest, he's writing a quite inaccurate account. And so he said to write whatever makes the story more interesting / supports the theme of the autobiographical piece. I still question this piece of advice. One should try to write what they remember, even if their memory is faulty. With that I invite the reader to view my attempt at an accurate portrayal of one of my earliest memories - the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

I was seven-years-old and in 2nd grade on the day. The first recollection I have is being pulled out of class with one other kid. We were told our parents would be arriving at the school in a few minutes to take us home. This occurred at around 9:30am; the knowledge of the ~6:30am attack took time to propagate throughout the city. Naturally I was excited, as for both young and old any break from routine is entertaining.

On our way home there was a large amount of traffic and no cabs available. So we hitchhiked into one of those large Chinese tour buses.1 To my seven-year-old-self 9/11 was only an exciting day where strangers were particularly friendly.

Being picked up from school and getting into the Chinese tour bus to get home is the only memory I have that I am sure happened on September 11, 2001. The next few days I recall distinctly watching the video reel of the second plane hitting the second tower. Or rather watching others watch that video reel. Throughout the city every establishment with a TV had CNN2 replaying that clip over and over. Sports bars looked as packed as they do in Europe on the day of a World Cup final. Watching the video of the 9/11 attacks was a group activity.

The most profound memory I have is seeing the debris cloud. I imagine most underestimate the length of time it took for the smoke to go away. It is not a 1 or 2 hour process nor a 1 or 2 day process but instead a 1 or 2 month process. So for about 45 days when I went to school I could see that gray smoke lingering in the sky along with the patrolling fighter jets.

No one close to me died during the attack. The person I knew who seemed most disturbed by the event was a family friend. He had a nice photography studio along the Hudson River that faced the World Trade Center. On 9/11 his scenic view turned into a nightmare as he watched people jump from the top floor of the Twin Towers to end their misery. He sold his studio shortly after claiming that the reminder of the memory from the view made it too depressing to continue working there.

Nowadays I hardly think of 9/11.3 I don't wonder about the whole conspiracy thing. I am sure the USG used the event to increase its power, but the question of whether or not the attack was orchestrated from inside the border is impossible for most to know the answer to.

  1. While jumping into the vehicles of strangers headed in your general direction is a daily occurrence in Costa Rica, this was the only time I have ever hitchhiked in NYC. []
  2. or some equiv propaganda outlet []
  3. I have never been to the memorial in New York, although I hear it is beautiful. []

Re-reading Is Not For Memorization

December 14th, 2019

I used to see re-reading as a valuable yet monotonous chore that was done to refresh one's memory of a text. Of course, I knew re-reading was also helpful for catching points overlooked during a first pass. Making sure one has not glossed over anything is essential for texts such as instruction manuals. But for literature, I saw re-reading as less valuable. By re-reading a story one may find something new they had missed - but why not instead read a book one has never opened? Then every page would be new. I saw it better to grasp 80% of 1,000 pages than 100% of 500 pages. With this faulty line of reasoning1 I held that the importance of re-reading novels was to harden into memory what one had already learned.

While re-reading marginally helps one memorize,2 that is not why it is the most powerful tool. According to mp, re-reading is essential because

...successive lecture allows the slow, methodical peeling away of salient points that lose their salience through repetition only to make room for others, just as remarkable in their own way if not as loud about it.

So instead of refreshing one's memory, upon re-reading the mind becomes numb to what it has already considered. This allows the reader to be open to receive new meaning from a text.

Anything worth reading has a lot of this new meaning to offer. A piece of well written literature is a complex string that not only portrays a story but also reveals information about the mind of the author and the period in which he lived. Digesting this string is akin to viewing a detailed painting through a zoomed in magnifying glass. One can only see a small portion of the whole at any given moment, and scanning the entire thing would take a lifetime.

Given the intricacy of literature and the way the mind can make room, one explores a vast new sea of information when returning to a familiar text. Thus by re-reading one will learn as much if not more than they did during their first read. The never-ending novelty makes the exercise a pleasurable experience instead of a chore required for memorization.

  1. The "80% of 1,000 pages > 100% of 500 pages" nonsense naively assumes all written pieces are equal and hints at a gross underestimation of the work required to grasp everything from a text. []
  2. There are much better ways to remember the important points one learns from reading, such as by writing a relevant article. []