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Conversation with a Doctor

May 24th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
One of the more frustrating experiences I've had in a while... part of what makes the healthcare here feel pretty worthless.  Obviously not reflective of all doctors... just many my own experiences.
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Doctor: Here's a prescription drug that will relieve the symptom.  Just take it everyday from now on, and you won't feel it anymore.
Me: Is there a test or something we can do to check why it's happening? Or if it might be more serious?
Doctor: Like what?
Me: Maybe it's...[More]
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If People Talked About Internet Like They Do Blockchain

May 10th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
Person B: Have you heard of this thing called the Internet? It's the future. You should buy as many dial-up modems as you can before the price goes up.  Once the Internet becomes mainstream, we'll all be rich.
Person A: Why would the price go up?
Person B: Because adoption.  Everyone will start using the Internet.  You could use it to store information, transact, compute things... everything will be on the Internet.
Person A: Isn't that just computers in general?
Person B: No, unlike just your home computer, anything that is on the Internet stays there forever.  It's also decentralized, meaning no one can shut it down or control it.  And most importantly, it's global.  Everything has to be global nowadays.  That's the future.  Personal computing was the first revolution.  This is the next one.  Imagine if you could go back in time to the 80's before personal computing was mainstream.  This is that...[More]
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Net Prices

April 7th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Prices should be shown net of cost. Then everything would be clearly shown relative to each other as they actually are, and people would see when things are getting more expensive vs the illusion of everyone having more money.  It would also make clear who is overcharging with unnecessary premium, creating a stigma that socially discourages excessive spending or pricing.  For example, if every house on sale was at a net price of $1K but yours was randomly at $1M, it would reveal you are charging way more than what it cost you, making yourself look a little shameful but also making buyers think twice before blindly handing over money, driving prices up higher, and rewarding the greed. Since all businesses have to track expenses for audit by the IRS and most even already calculate cost of goods sold, it actually is practical in real life with all the pieces ready to go if a law passed for it.

Other side benefits indirectly permeate throughout the economy. It would conversely reveal...[More]
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A Wish for a Life

April 2nd, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Imagine if you could make any wish come true but would cause the death of one random person.

A man, known as the Baron, lives in a castle atop a hill and is suspected of having a supernatural artifact that does this, causing many mysterious deaths in the nearby town for his own gain.  Each death is similar, with each person becoming suddenly frail and ghostly pale before dying within days.  The story initially seems one of despair, as no one can really prove this to authorities and people at random just keep dying.  Many supporting and likeable characters have their arc abruptly ended in this manner.

An investigator tries to solve this mystery but doesn't believe in superstition.  He's an outsider to the town and tries to bring science and reason he believes the townspeople lack.  He suspects more likely the Baron created this rumor to hide something more nefarious.  A friend of the investigator gets frustrated with the investigator's calm...[More]
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Racist Mentality

March 29th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
This is more or less a concise version of one of my points from the longer Three Tiers of Mind.  What bothers me lately is there seems to be a general shift away from why racism is bad in the first place and more towards just any mention of race is bad or that any difference in advantage is bad (aka "privilege").  What makes racism bad at its core is that you are ignoring a person's individuality and making an assumption about that person based on association to a category.  In other words, you are not seeing the person in front of you but treating that person as just one of many belonging to some arbitrary label.  That person is no longer a person with their own agency and ability to cause change in the world but just a thing, an object, something that is not you.  That's the real problem that leads to all other acts someone may commit, which everyone then reacts to as racism or other crimes.

You see this immediately in any situation you normally associate with racism.  The reason slavery was able to make sense in people's minds was the ability to ignore the individuality of any person branded under the slave label.  Removing race would have made the act no better if the hierarchy still existed (and it did/does even amongst populations of same ethnicity).  The reason there is conflict between the rich and poor is because each side uses the other as only a means to an end, treating the other as just that - an other.  Removing money or other material differences makes the situation no better if people still view each other in terms of what they have, their demographics, or other population-level traits - in terms of association and value instead of as individuals.  Objectifying, commoditizing, treating someone as merely a statistic... these are all different names and outcomes for what is essentially the same thinking process deep down.  They judge you on where you come from instead of why you came, what you represent instead of what you actually chose to do.  You're X because you're a Y, and Ys are X.  It's the act of being too lazy to think about the full context and just reacting on a trigger word, of trying to think in broad-brush rules and sweeping generalizations instead of being willing to look at each situation case-by-case.  The flaw is thinking the abstract grouping more real than the individual the abstract was created around.  

This same manner of thinking pretty much leads to any other social aspects we consider "bad." An unfulfilling job - being a cog in a machine, working under someone's thumb - happens when your individuality is disregarded and you are treated as just a faceless number amongst many.  A friend or relationship feels false when the other doesn't actually listen to you specifically but just says what could be said to anyone else.  Someone is patronizing if they give advice without knowing anything about the person they are lecturing and just assume advice is warranted.  Someone is pedantic if they are ignoring what you're trying to say and only caring about how you said it.  Even the murderous psychopath - the difference between him and a hero soldier is that he does not think about others as individuals, just objects, a kill count, again a number.

When taken...[More]
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God Formula

March 24th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another one that came to me in a dream. Made more sense right after I woke, but I unfortunately started losing details as soon as I got to writing it down.

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The story is essentially a sci-fi thriller movie, where the founder tries to create AI from a math perspective similar to induction instead of the more common approach of fitting to data.  It's counterintuitive but rather than try to create a general algorithm that adapts to specific cases, the founder wants to start from one case and solve for the rest of the world - ie letting the AI define the rest of world on its own volition. In other words, instead of adapting or being an agent in the world, this algorithm plays God and creates it from scratch.  The idea is similar to trying to understand or simulate the current universe by instead creating a new one altogether via man-made blackholes in a lab.  It's also similar to what you do in theoretical math where you define hypothetical systems or...[More]
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Dreams Adrift

February 5th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #

This could either be an animation or short film. The imagery of someone walking upsidedown against the night sky is what stuck in my mind.
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Scene starts panning down from a cloudy, moonlit night sky to a girl standing on the edge of a highrise rooftop with her arms out.  It looks like she is about to fall, but as she goes over the edge, the camera rotates to instead show her walking down the side of the building, apparently sleepwalking.  There is a wistful element as her hair is constantly flowing and her arms are out to balance.  The elements seem to whirl around her as she walks, as if animated by what she is dreaming.  The iconic scene is of her walking upsidedown on the bottom of a plank between two highrises against the backdrop of the moon and night sky in the background.  

Eventually...[More]
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Vue

January 20th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another story that came as a dream, ironically as a movie I was watching in the dream.
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The movie initially starts as a horror film about boy initially trying to escape the home of a crazed family with a murderous cyborg child.  The home is more or less a cave with no open windows or exit (all boarded up).  The parents are human but very old and clearly insane, sort of like the fake grandparents from The Visit.  The cyborg behaves more like an animal and is Frankenstein-like, with loosely pieced together scrap metal for arms, blades for hands, barely functional prosthetics for what's left of the face (doll-like eyes, unmoving lips, etc), etc.  Often it crawls on all fours or climbs the walls, staying in the shadows.  It is unclear if it was once human at all or entirely machine to begin with.  The pacing and feel is almost like a Saw movie at first, with no indication how the we arrived here or why things are.

After about...[More]
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