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Nameless

September 20th, 2020 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another mystery/horror story that came as a dream (and somewhat terrifying one at that)...

A group of friends are traveling to a new city and staying there for a bit. It is a tropical beach city - a sandy, walkable, small town with low-rise, shack-like residences.  They play video games as a team online the first night and joke about why they bother to name the group if they can't beat anyone yet.  After midnight, they order food delivered on GrubHub, since it's too late to go out and fall asleep after eating.

The next morning, a waitress from a nearby restaurant comes over with a plate of lobsters, but they didn't order anything.  The waitress says she has one of their credit cards, name, billing address and all.  The charge came from last night.  One of them suggest credit card fraud, but the waitress says the order was made in person. The friends point out they didn't even go anywhere last night, that they ordered food delivered.  One...[More]
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A Taste for Health

June 27th, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Had an idea for a story recently for if society found a way to make someone naturally like the taste of healthy foods (like vegetables, etc) - imagine if what you liked and craved lined up with what was good for you.  It sounds and all seems well, everyone eating better diets and enjoying better lifestyles.  Then imagine one day unexplained animal attacks start leaving people dead and torn up, seemingly at random and in generally urban settings with no dangerous wild predators.  As the story goes on, footage and evidence start to reveal the attacks seem to come from not any animal but a human.  The authorities track down and arrest one suspect, but the killings continue, seemingly at random and with no motive.  It turns out not to be any one person but people at random who suddenly go mad for human meat.  The commonality is they've all been genetically modified to like the taste of whatever is good for them, and it worked too well.  Because the healthiest...[More]
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Prions and Synthesized Foods

April 23rd, 2019 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
More an open-ended question here.  Prions, or misfolded proteins, are the cause of mad-cow disease when eating meat.  The animal itself is more likely to be produce misfolded proteins when eating brain tissue, but sometimes it's also just luck (or perhaps environmental, stress, etc).  The prions themselves cannot be destroyed by heating or other means once created, as it's more a mutation than a "disease." Once in the body, it causes other proteins to be misfolded as well in a tumor-like fashion.  

With regards to new synthesized foods like vegan or fake meats,  I wonder what ways (if any) are there to unintentionally create misfolded proteins in the process as well.  Right now, it seems that they try to mess with the vegetable ingredients as little as possible when creating the meat flavor and texture.  Some of these opt for an organic and non-GMO label to make it distinct, but a concern would be if something like lab grown meats...[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 essentially a shorter version of one of my points from the longer Three Tiers of Mind and arguably an extension of the discussion on Inductive vs Deductive Reasoning.  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 (some will recognize this as the concept of dignity in Kantian theory).  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.

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 halfway through...[More]
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The Sound That Isn't There

August 20th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Premise of a horror film I thought of while staying up too late. Tongue
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Imagine every night you hear the loud humming of what you think are street sweepers driving by.  One night, you get tired of it and venture out into the streets to complain, except there's nothing there.  You run towards the sound, but it just keeps getting louder and louder, with nothing in sight for as far you can see.  The sound eventually starts moving away and goes quiet, like it does every night, and you go back home confused.

The next night, you run out again when you hear the sound, trying to get to the center of it before it goes away again.  This time, you keep running towards it as it tries to get away from you.  At first, you are barely able to keep up with the sound as it is moving away.  At some point, you realize the sound is suddenly getting louder and louder than it ever has before.  You get so caught up running towards the sound that you don't...[More]
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Lossless Algorithms

August 12th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
The following is an algorithm I wrote for generating support/resist in trading with no thresholds or parameters. On each price move, the price range traveled loses a point in score. The resulting score of any price range is its support/resist strength, which declines the more it is traveled across (zero being strongest and untraveled). Visually, the price line looks like an eraser scrubbing away ranges on the chart; ranges least scrubbed thin out to support/resist lines.  The reason I call it a "lossless" algorithm is because it doesn't estimate anything or use any seeded values/thresholds.  It is analogous to lossless audio/image file formats.  There is no sampling or use of statistics.  There are no knobs to tweak and no assumptions to take.  It is a perfect 1-to-1 map of where price moves most and least freely.  It is also extremely light both in computation and space because all you're doing is a single subtraction per datapoint and...[More]
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Happiest Memory

July 15th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Essays | #
     The happiest memory in my life is not one I could ever share with anyone else.  Because it isn't a moment from within my real life but instead one from within a dream, a dream that occurred almost ten years ago.

     In that dream, I spent my childhood alongside someone who I seemingly knew all my life, even before I started school.  We would race neck-to-neck as we leapt from rooftop to rooftop, laughing maniacally as we tried to one-up each other, reaching higher and higher into the skies before eventually just taking flight altogether.  If it seemed we flew too high and one of us began to fall, we would catch each other and throw ourselves even higher than before, until we finally made it above the clouds.  At the end of it all, we'd sit atop the remains of an old wooden post so high up that we could watch the sun set, not against the land or water but against the sky itself, the ocean of clouds below reflecting its descent like...[More]
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Advanced Alien Life is Tiny

March 19th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
If a few hours on a larger planet with higher gravity can be years on Earth, then any advanced alien life is most likely from a smaller planet with much lower gravity than us, where each year for us can be millions for them.
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Perpetual Dreams

March 5th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
Another story I watched play out like a movie in my dream - ironically this one about a character dreaming...

A man lives his life through many lucid dreams.  In them, he is aware he is dreaming and can pick the setting or story he wants to live in.  One thing he can't control though is that the dreams seem to randomly end and reset.  While he keeps his memories from past dreams, no one else in the dream seems to remember.  Over time, he starts noticing a person who is always in the dream.  It starts off with them just passing each other by, walking in the same direction, or other small coincidences, but eventually they end up in the same scenes or situations as well.  She ends up being the only constant between each dream, and they share many adventures together.  However, whenever he tries to talk directly with her and figure out who she is, the dream cuts off.  It doesn't help that she also always forgets everything as well, so every...[More]
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Data Does Not Equal Fact

January 24th, 2018 | Posted by pftq in Society | #
"Data!=Fact: Inductive vs Deductive Reasoning"
ie Statistics vs Math
ie Engineering vs Physics

Part of my frustration with all the focus on big data, statistics, quant, and numbers in general is that these are all forms of inductive reasoning.  Amidst all the hype around being more data driven, many seem to have to forgotten that inductive reasoning only provides an estimate of world.  It does not and cannot prove anything.  Evidence alone does not provide truth.  Data does not equal fact.

There are...[More]
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The City of Eden

December 30th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Imagine a city where everyone could live in absolute luxury, indulge to their greatest desires, and never have to work or earn a living. It sounds wasteful and unsustainable, but if it actually existed, it might instead save the world.

This is because everyone who actually wants to live in comfort and pleasure would go there.  It would concentrate the bulk of the population in one place while leaving the rest of the world free and preserved.

The best part is that there would be no need to force people to go.  This is most people's idea of heaven on Earth.  This is what most people work all their lives to attain and retire to.  They would *want* to come here.

And for those...[More]
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Steps to Biological Immortality

December 4th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
I'm not going to hide it.  I want to live forever.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that or that it's "unnatural" or "unethical."  People often act offended on this topic.  "Why are you so greedy? Why so selfish?" But to them, I ask, why is it so bad to want to live? To who do I owe such a huge debt to that I am obligated to die?

One of my personal beliefs is that it is within our lifespans that we will figure out how to prolong our lives indefinitely - aka biological immortality.  Note this is different from actual immortality where you can't die at all; here we are just referring to dying of age.

At the same time, I don't believe there's such thing as a "natural death."  It is not necessary to die, and not all things do, even in nature.  Jellyfish and lobsters are both good examples, where their bodies never really deteriorate no matter how old they get.  Some will get technical and say that lobsters die of getting too large or their shell becoming too much to molt, but that's beside the point, which is that they don't actually lose vitality or youth over time like we do.  Their actual cells do not decay, and they don't become weaker or less able over time (in fact, they continuously get larger and stronger).  That to me is the goal and the definition of biological immortality.

Other arguments...[More]
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Face without Sentience

July 9th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Stories | #
An idea I've had for a while as a horror film:

Someone you know closely, seemingly all your life, one day turns around to face you and then just starts screaming in absolute fear, screaming non-stop forever at the top of their lungs, hour after hour, day after day, eyes wide and face frozen, with no change in expression, no reaction to anything, as if no longer alive, no longer conscious, no longer sentient.
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Cutting Through a City Grid

March 26th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Cutting thru a city grid is the same distance as going around the perimeter. There is no time saved from zigzagging through the middle if you never actually travel diagonally.
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Virtual Reality via 3D Projection Mapping

January 24th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Rather than wear VR/AR headsets, it's more interesting to me to try to bring VR literally into the real world using 3D projection mapping.  No one has to wear any fancy goggles; anyone walking by can see exactly what you see and step into the same world you're in.  Imagine walking by your favorite supermarket one day to find that it's been transformed into massive crater in the ground.  Forget the supermarket.  Imagine if the giant castle before you started to collapse as a monster emerged from within.  Best of all, everyone around you can see it and hear it with you.  Contrast this with VR or AR currently where everyone else around you only sees you running around with a headset, playing more or less with an imaginary friend world.

No, 3D projection mapping is not just a big movie screen.  Below is an example of 3D projection done literally on a castle to make it appear like it is moving, crumbling, transforming... Yes, the example...[More]
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A Way to Know If We're in a Simulation

January 6th, 2017 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
This was inspired by a dream I had that was mildly unsettling.  In the dream, you were in a house with a few old-school moving pictures on the wall - the kind that required a handcrank to animate except the owner found a way to keep the pictures moving on their own for a long time, to the point the owner had long passed away and the pictures were still moving.  Over time, the mechanical devices keeping the pictures moving start to wear out, and the pictures start to slow down.  What becomes odd is that if you look closely enough, you start to notice that every so often, a frame goes missing or blacks out, as if the universe flickered and the camera captured a moment of nothingness.

Of course, that dream could have been a lot of other things, such as mechanical issues with the camera that shot the footage, but what it got me wondering was 1) if the universe was a simulation with a frame rate, 2) whether we could capture the flickers in between the frames to prove it.  This...[More]
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