July 14, 2014

June Ramblings

On the wall in my bedroom, I have a grayscale printout of a valkyrie.

I'm not sure why I thought valkyries would be a good symbol for my desire to protect the people I care about, honestly. Valkyries collect the souls of the dead--those who are long beyond help.

Visually, at least, they're like a fiercer kind of guardian angel. Really, the biggest difference between a valkyrie and a guardian angel is that guardian angels are meant to gently guide you away from danger. Valkyries are from a culture which encourages you to get into the thick of it. A guardian angel guards your innocence, while a valkyrie guards your valour.

That's more me, I guess. Maybe I don't want it to be, but my wings are not actually for fiercely guarding people from danger. I am selfish. I want to protect my chosen, to take those who have already proven themselves to a paradise where they can continue to hone their valourous qualities without consequence or end.

That is my dream.
I want to make an intentional community. A community of self-expression, and of happiness. Most importantly, though, it is a place of grokking. Illusions are seen as illusions, and appreciated for their strangeness, but are never mistaken for the truth. It is a truth about our perception, not about the things we perceive.

The people I want to take with me to paradise are the ones who take it for granted that simple truths are simple. Not simple in the way that our brain likes to understand the world, but simple like occam's razor and reductionism and bayes rule are simple.

It would be difficult. Human values and thinking are really, really absurd. This is something that buddhist philosophy does a good job of acknowledging, but there's one thing they got wrong: I think there's a bit of happiness that is better for not having to ignore, downplay, or reframe so aversive things are not aversive. I think it would be better to not have to expend that mental effort. Call it a bent towards 'naturalness'.

If only society operated on bayesian updates.. More important than simply starting out with the best policies is being able to change them as needed. The right priors can still be vastly wrong and it won't matter how well we started because we can't adjust after the fact.

I wish we could all dance to the truth. Quick updating methods, quick propogation of ideas and skills. Forceful, but with grace and meaning. Wanton, but always discrete. Democracy tries to achieve this by voting. It votes. This is a good thing if we are not systematically wrong, but there are a good number of areas where we are *are* systematically wrong. We're a biased species. Not to mention, democracy requires waiting for a consensus. The nice thing about dictatorships is that you can get a lot of changing done at once. The trouble is that your direction of top-speed progress might be straight off the edge of a cliff.

Why else democracy? People will talk about rights as part of why democracy is so awesome, but I am not convinced those are as relevant as people claim they are. We have strong incentive to believe they're important now; they're part of our cheers about why we're so awesome and all our forefathers sucked in comparison.

Older civilizations might have been dismayed that our leaders are illegitimate, in that they have no inborn class or divine right. These young whippersnappers don't even know what's important, dammit!! What matters quite a bit, however, is what *works*. What keeps itself in power, what stays stable, what keeps itself going. Democracy has so far won the test of time, and that is the only requirement: survival.

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