Authority is written, not taken.

Authority is written not taken.

It's also not given. At best, responsibility is agreed upon, but that is different from authority.

Having only heard the title of his talk

authority is taken, not given

(quoted by Jon Siracusa @ ~53:00)

I disagree with Marco Arment (at least in terms of what I predict he's going to say I with his talk having only heard the title and Arment's views on ATP and imyke's glee at his being mentioned in the content of this talk) on this subtle distinction between taken and written.

We mostly agree, but I say he's too forceful about it. To take or give implies loss somewhere, but there need be no loss.

Not in terms of actual Marco but strawman Marco that I'm imagining for helping to argue my point (like a scaffolding for the structure of the argument.) Warco? Not really like Mario vs. Wario, but that'll do (though he's a sega guy, so maybe he won't get that reference…). Hell, the title may even have changed, fortunately I only need to have heard Siracusa (or Dan?) say it and that counts to talk about it as even an imaginary Warco type position.

So Warco believes that we need to take authority… well, I ask, why? What is it that it needs to be taken from? If it's not a something or a someone or a some then how are you really taking it?

To me it seems more like authority must be created, and agreed upon (in the way that a language is regionally «agreed upon»). To take implies that something has been obtained that in some way is now deprived from something else. To write authority suggests a blank piece of paper, and it is not that some realization of a predicted probability is plucked away from some work of infinite possibilities of all the things that 'could' be written on the paper.

Of course “all the things that 'could' be written on the paper” doesn't really make sense in any consistent way. It makes about as much sense as 'how many possible fat men could be standing in the doorway?are they standing there now? Is that impossible?' It's simply not the most appropriate way to approach the problem.

So if we're working from that metaphysical perspective then, ok Warco, you can take whatever you want from there. Because I don't see you as taking anything from anywhere, anymore than Einstein or Jobs...or other people about whom people other than Walter Isaacson have written biographies of.

— Grammar Break

I'm sorry about the prepositional ending; but put it earlier and you basically have that old Churchill joke

Hanging prepositions! That is something up with which I will not put.

Anyway, this is why I really wish I had access to footnotes.

— end grammar break

I prefer to see authority as almost a magician, bringing bursts of unexpected newness into the world.

I did not have to take from anyone. I took words from others in one sense(I'm quoting them), but in another sense I just reflected them back with some commentary(i.e., as a result their words are (at worst) equally and (at best) more valuable, so it's more of a win-win-win-etc. I forget how many it's supposed to be).

To quote critically!
Tis like taking a hot iron and annealing it. It grows stronger with every cycle.

And I've paid someone for the ability to put these words in a place where you can read them. So if you by this far, are still disappointed with the article. I'm not really sorry. You did make this happen. But so did I, but I don't think I did anything wrong, even if you're bored.

The point is, you didn't have to read me. And there is no way I can make you read me. But I authored something, and authorized you all to use it by putting it on this site, and you all then appointed me as author enough for you to have read this. I'd say that by that standard…

I write my own authority.


The power of a podcast about pens: brad dowdy has a significant quantifiable force in the economy

Wait, how many entries to the contest? * (average amount we've spent on non nock products), + amount we've given via nock*(1- @imyke's influence on @dowdyism's being in our ears), how much money has the @Pen_Addict money hose redirected.

I.e., what is @dowdyism's differential effect effect on the pen economy?

@imyke's ?

@planetmoney, please report on this

I'll work out some actual numbers shortly, but just — schedule an cross over event soon…

Because I guarantee that it's a substantial amount of money, as is endlessly referred to by dowdy and myke + other pen addicts(see today's episode[^please]). What if we actually calculate how much it is.

If I'm the average pen user who listens to this show, do the books on the history of writing count as money redirected by the pen addict?

Notebooks certainly count.

I'm going to estimate $500-$1000, between pens, inks, notebooks, etc.

So if we take that and multiply it by 200 or so who have spent that much or more, that's 100,000 - 200,000 dollars. And I'm sure it's more. This gives us a reasonable floor estimate of its monetary impact. That is not to say that I am the average pen user, but to suggest that there are at least 200 people like me who listen to the show.

And I've recommended @twsbi — due to dowdy's 580 endorsement last episode — to a barista who loved seeing me sign the check with one. So the contagion is spreading.

Sidenote: I don't know why dowdy is anti rose gold though. I mean yea that isn't great as a nib or I write too weirdly for it to work well with @pendelton's modifications, but as casing material it's gorgeous (esp. w/the black acrylic).[^please]

Anyway, as the photo demonstrates my point imagistically. As does the @PeterGodfrey-smith post of a few days back.[^please2]

In any case, I've probably pointed out enough complementary features to enough people that I've made my point about this being an worth-pursuing confluence of interests.

Cheers, :€

[^please]: @squarespace support text expander and multimarkdown… seriously it would make your app ‘actually’ awesome to write with since it would be actually a completely different experience. Unique in its true capabilities… esp• since editorial hit iOS7 & lost @textexpander support. Hell pay @ttscoff to write it, see my previous post on :€ unthinking :€ & multimarkdown formatting of footnotes versus this version written in @squarespace 's blog app (which also has miserable text selection interface because it combines formatting a page and writing down formatted text, seriously, that's a major fail. Talk to editorial guy, or @vittici)

[^please2]: Anyway, this is too difficult to continue to do in this context. @Tweetbot was a better experience to write in. Also tweetbot and drafts would be awesome, since often what starts off as a tweet but grows too long. In that case it would be better to write with tweetbot's unique abilities - particularly auto-completing twitter handles (@merlinmann knows what I'm talking about{also I bet @hotdogladies now realizes why auto completing twitter handles is a crucial feature of tweetbot lacking in Squarespace's app})


A revealing exposition of Igtheism

A revealing

I have written things previously about Igtheism. I have not released them.

My writings… sometimes, they’re too dense. I’m sorry.

But I thought that it would be worthwhile trying to put my thoughts into words, spurred on by Cara Santa Maria(@CaraSantaMaria) and Talk Nerdy to Me (ep 20 w/ Josh Zepps, @joshzepps) accidentally making igtheism clear without giving it a name. This made me feel like maybe the time is right for trying to explain this idea more fully in writing, trying to stick to the barest bones of an argument and explication to ensure linguistic acuity. Having their conversation as a prototype or paradigm definitely helps in doing some of the more straightforward fleshing out of examples that I otherwise would feel obligated to do. Thank you both for covering that so well.

Hopefully with revealing my qualms about what follows can make more apparent my attempts in what follows.

Exposition of Igtheism

So then, the remainder will be focused on conveying in addition to their example of an igtheistic behavior pattern at ~16 mins in (I think?)

If people ask me whether I believe in God, I tell them… « you tell me what God you are talking about and I will tell you if i believe in that thing. »

The more general stance of ignosticism (a preferable term for the general approach so as to distinguish it from agnosticism) would apply this kind of standard to any kind of problem. That is, beginning the idea that you are fundamentally ignorant prior to someone explaining what they mean by a term that you have only heard used in a variety of conflicting ways or never at all. In the former case you will probably know the usual lines of argument, in the latter case you’re more clearly talking about strict ignorance in that if this word existed in some kind of universal set of all words ever spoken, it was being ‘ignored’ up until this point.

Thus in order to answer questions like those posed in the “theism” debate, must always first ask the question of what do you mean by «X»? Now this is slightly different from what he was saying, because he presumes that you are choosing among a set of possible gods (this is implicit in his saying “what God you are talking about.”). Whereas the igtheist would deny that we have such a pantheon available to us to choose among.

If you’re reading this still, you probably are an igtheist

That’s just my guess. The position is merely saying that there’s some kind of precursor understanding that we need to have before we can begin to take a position on questions that other people put such great value on.

The igtheist position is a position in the same way that Zen is supposed to be a “religion”. At least in Alan Watt’s interpretation, Zen is an invitation to have a conversation rather than a dogma. An opening question, not a final answer. “Jeopardy” not “Who wants to be a millionaire”. The idea is that this is not meant to be the end of a conversation but the beginning of one. This is not a position that answers “is there a god?” but poses that in at least some instances where we don’t have agreed upon referents of terms, it is worthwhile to step back and carefully examine how different individuals might be characterizing the ambiguous concept better.

Atheism is incoherent or meaningless [1]

On the grounds that most of you would self identify as atheists[2], I can probably say that very few of you are atheists. And those of you who actually think you’re an atheist[3] are stuck in some kind of [Quinean][] paradox around what it is that you are possibly believing. I would go further into that (and will if requested), but going into it here would make the path this essay takes too close to the too-dense version of explanation, and I’ve already gone on for quite a while.

If alternatively you mean that you lack a belief in god, I would have to ask, what it is that you lack a belief in. This also has a Quine style “how many possible fat men are in the doorway right now” response, or a “how many non-sounds are happening in the time it took you to read this sentence”. But I don’t even need to go there. Simply, if the “atheist” agrees that this is a worthwhile question to ask themselves, then they are actually an igtheist. That is what it means to be an igtheist — to be someone who agrees that the question of what is meant by “god” in discussion is a question worth asking. If they disagree, then its unclear why it matters that they are an atheist, since they do not care what it is that they lack a belief in.

So is theism.

That was the point of advancing the position originally.[4]


This is not a position, this is a conversational strategy. Or more accurately, it is a meta-position. It seeks to clarify the underlying issues that bear on this contentious debate without engaging the contention on its own turf.

Russell would say that to analyze “The present king of France is bald.” is to actually analyze three sentences, “There is a present king of France.”, “At most one such thing is the king of France.”, and “Those things that are the king of France are bald.” What the igtheist “position” does is to point out a level below these. That is, it denies not that “there is a god”, but rather it denies that we have an agreed upon definition about what it means for there to be a god or not — in a way that we don’t have disagreement about what it would mean for there to be a present king of France.

Asking what people mean is a good way to start a conversation that could otherwise become heated (e.g., theism). This avoids being either aggressive nor defensive. Instead it’s just, curious.


edit: 2014_19_4_1159
Thanks to Rafa Kern for helpful comments on these ideas.

  1. I actually don’t take this position, but rather am phrasing it this way so as to rile up atheists who I know will be defensive about this. In a certain sense it is directly contradictory to my stated intent of avoiding the contention, but thats because it is useful to use contention as a way to spread an idea, but not as a way to settle a question that has only intransigent positions. So if you are an atheist, and you are annoyed at my writing this, know that I understand, and also that I did the philosophical equivalent of trolling you. However I think that this position would be more useful to be heard if passed among adamant atheists than adamant theists since I think atheists have generally already bought into the difficulty of defining what “god” is such that anything can be said about “god”. This also supports a more moderate position like that Chris Mooney takes, but that conversation will have to wait for another day.  ↩

  2. And, I totally give Andrew Theis a pass for wanting to call himself that even after he is swayed by my position, because his name is just too perfect not to take advantage of that confluence.  ↩

  3. That is a believer in α-θεος in the Alan Wattsian sense of a believer in a “non-god” which is an interesting concept but not one I fully understand.  ↩

  4. Theological non-cognitivism is also relevant but for the sake of brevity I chose to omit it here. It has a few interpretations some of which I’m fond of and others which I’m less fond of but That will have to wait for another day.  ↩

Populating and selecting

Let these words unsettle you. And once the dust has settled — then, you will finally start to see.

Sometimes, in order to see better we need a moment to refocus. We need to have sand thrown into our eyes so that we blink away the gunk that had built up over time. I thought I'd understood what kinds of things were and how those kinds evolved (whether those kinds be living things or ideas). I knew species were abstractions over the underlying entities but I had not fully grasped how fragile the situation was. The entities themselves were questionable; it is as if I had assumed that constellations were things of themselves, only to learn that they were made of stars. This arose from reading Peter Godfrey-Smith's Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection. All that was left was a profound ignorance, a void of the mind akin to the emptiness Yosemite lends to the sidereal canvas. I was finally able to see what was there, unpolluted. It was gorgeous.

I want to offer that same opportunity to all of you. But moreso, I wanted to offer you a guide to the wonders that I was able to see looking through the lens of this work. As I read the book, I wrote my thoughts some tangential some merely an attempt at reducing the ideas as one would balsamic vinegar, hoping to offer a hint that accentuates & builds upon an already delightful meal. If you are pressed for time, I encourage you at least to read this is one chapter that he has made available online on Reproduction and Individuality. You will not regret it. You will never look at strawberries the same way again. If you would like to see my notes as well to get the balsamic to go with those strawberries, they can be found here.

I wish you all a good day and happy reading.

The Origins and What Followed

Ala carte ideas do not exist

I don't know why this only just now popped into my mind, but thanks to LA Paul, when visiting LA gave me the idea (by presenting an excellently reasoned rejection of the least reasonable version of this idea, which prompted me to formulate a more reasonable position in opposition) of functionalist phenomenology. Or a phenomenological functionalism (I forget which felt better at the time— I do think there is a difference, I just forget which one I had originally cross my mind).

Phenomological functionalism : functionalist about computation in as much as the computation is assumed to encompass all information available to the phenomenal feedback-loop.

Thus when I type this with my eyes closed. I am writing down some aspect of myself that would otherwise be lost due to the lack of a feedback loop.

Similarly when I draw in the dark. As in the attached photo.


The photo was an example of rapid decision making with minimal feedback since the camera's light was only on for the duration of focusing (since the evf of my phone was too underpowered to represent more that that the paper was generally oriented Ina certain way at a certain time)

On the other hand a functionalist phenomenology would be the ceiling condition (where the other is a minimal/floor condition). Ie you are only able to experience those experiences which are differential, in several senses.

In the first place, you will treat everything that is exactly the same in terms of your experience with it, as being exactly the same. If two things hypothetically are different but do not have any differences in your causal effects, then every one phenomenon of your phenomena either is a causal effect or it is not. If it is not then in a certain sense it is not a phenomenon of this world, by definition. If it is, then it is merely a matter of figuring out how to get feedback loop to work properly in order to be able to capture some content of the phenomenon in question.

Furthermore, it must be differential in that over time it must be comprehensible. That is if some process is completely random it is as if you have a single sample from a dimension, you know that something is there but you have no idea how to recount it with respect to other dimensions. To comprehend something is to bring some multidimensional subset of data in a mutual accounting of some kind. Otherwise to say that you are you is nonsensical, since there is no you to be comprehended in its totality or even relatively by yourself or anyone else .

To put it another way when considering the calculus of ideas all shifts must be able to be measured(perhaps as a process that evolves dramatically in leaps and bounds(like my ability to recognize that I've made an error when typing on my iPad with my eyes closed

Lauren Harris helped me realize that to be liberal or progressive is to say not only do you know how to make the world a better place, but that you know better than other people as well.

To be a conservative is similar (thus why liberal may be the more appropriate title for both of these systems), but you assume you know better for others on the basis of the status quo.

Regardless popping the stack.

Without looking back I think I was talking about the calculus of ideas and the derivative of a thought stream. To map the derivative of a river would be nearly impossible given the underlying thermodynamics, hydrodynamics etc, but we can probably trace its edges, incl. gentle curves, jagged angles, rapids, tunnels and waterfalls. Why not expect the same for rivers made of information rather than Water.

We experience thinking, Xor we are philosophical zombies. Ok. So then why not measure thinking.

Well that's what I'm trying to do.

And continuation is established by jumping between devices, apps both to process the text in and to not do so, as I currently am doing.

Purer difference detection is measured when I am able to sense that my fingers have struck errantly on the iPad without opening my eyes (I can't do this on an iPhone).