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Oldies but Goodies

Full disclosure — I have a lot of blogs. Medium, Substack, WordPress.com… this site, my startup site. That’s probably not the complete list but it’s what I can think of offhand. These sites are separate for a number of different reasons, the two most important being:

(1) Branding/messaging
(2) Privacy

Why do I lump brand and message together? Because once you have established a brand (be it “the brand of you” or be it a new venture you hope to sell for somewhere at the fashionable end of the neighborhood of seven figures) you have to stay on-message.

For instance, I recently took down one of my earliest posts on lotusrose.substack.com. The reason was that it was an opinion piece masquerading as fact. It made a very broad (and in my view, plausible) assertion but provided no hard evidence to back it up. This doesn’t measure up to my own standards for objective, fact-based journalism.

Lotus Rose is a journalism site, focused on sustainable and socially responsible investing strategies for retail and day traders. The articles are based on my own experience and online research. I provide citations and believe that the work stands on its own merits. While future predictions (such as the value of the Dow at the end of 2023) cannot be evaluated as true or false, any other information cited should have a source, whether or not it is made public. My memory is crap so I make a lot of notes and copy-and-paste a lot of links. This served me well as a journalist for American City Business Journals in the early 2000s, when I published several hundred print and online articles for ACBJ and other publications (including numerous features and covers). I have clips on everything from banking to restaurant reviews. I don’t recall ever receiving a single complaint about the facts, much less any situation that required a retraction.

Writing will always be my first love. (Sorry BWT, you came along 13 years too late.) Too bad the work didn’t pay a little better, or that is what I would still be doing.

Objectivity may be hard to come by — a mythical island of truth, an invisible city shimmering on the horizon of an ocean of uninformed groupthink — but facts are as real as any other construct we can assemble from the abstract building blocks of language.

What is my definition of a fact? Something you can evaluate as a Boolean statement.

i.e. Imagine a hypothetical function, truth(x) that evaluates the truth or falsehood of a variable. The variable may be a string, an integer, a real number, or the product of another function. Because the output type is defined as Boolean, it will always return a value of either true or false.

Now imagine that you have a sophisticated AI text reader that can parse the value of short statements (we will say up to 1000 characters in length). The task of this AI is to evaluate the statement described in the fact as either true or false. Empty, null, and undefined values will also be counted as false. Keep in mind; the function can be wrong or right in its assessments, just as newspapers and police eyewitnesses may be right or wrong about their facts. The important thing is that this function will always return a value of either yes or no (true or false).

This is my definition of a fact. It can itself be expressed as a fact:

The paragraphs below provide a rigorous definition and test for the term “fact”:

What is my definition of a fact? Something you can evaluate as a Boolean statement.

i.e. Imagine a hypothetical function, is_factual(var) that evaluates the truth or falsehood of a variable. The variable type is defined as a string. Because the output type is defined as Boolean, it will always return a value of either true or false.

Now imagine that you have a sophisticated AI text reader that can parse the value of short statements (we will say up to 1000 characters in length). The task of this AI is to evaluate the statement described in the fact as either true or false. Empty, null, and undefined values will be counted as false. Keep in mind; the function can be wrong or right in its assessments, just as newspapers and police eyewitnesses may be right or wrong about their facts. The important thing is that this function will always return a value of either yes or no (true or false).

(weighing in at 982 characters)

Anyway, it’s possible I will re-post that earlier article on this, or another, site. I haven’t really decided yet.

I have this week off from my day job, because I am recovering from surgery. It went well.

I will be posting more about the outcome, but I want to wait until everything has healed and I am completely out of the woods. I do claim to be superstitious (and that is a fact). Looking back on the previous two decades, tempting fate seems to be something I excel at. In the meantime, I will be reposting a few other older blog posts that seem to fit better here than anywhere else.

Trigger Warning: One or two of these may address the topic of religion…

About Deism

Hey, I found my old spirituality blog. Looks like the entire site was archived by the Wayback Machine. I should probably write a crawler and try to make my own archive, but… too many other projects I’m procrastinating on.

Anyway, this summarizes where I’m at right now. Only downside of being a Deist is that there isn’t a built-in community. Perhaps I’ll find one or build one in time.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2021 [Edited]

About Deism

Religion is a practice. Belief is a frame of mind.

I believe that there is a conscious and compassionate force beyond the scope of human rational inquiry at work in our daily lives. This belief is based mostly on personal experience, and on the firsthand accounts of others. I choose not to further define this Higher Power because whatever attributes I assign would almost certainly be wrong. My definition of deism is less passive than that of the 18th Century Enlightenment. It seems most likely to me that God is a meta layer of reality, both nervous system and DNA, a manifestation of conscious information. Not a watchmaker, but rather the gears, the numbers, the hands, the wearer, the manufacturer, and the construct of 4D spacetime itself.

Photo taken 12.28.2021.

Of course, our reality could also be a simulation. In theory, the odds that we are inhabiting a simulation are fifty-fifty.

But this isn’t a “just so” story. I’m not claiming any authority or special revelation.

And no, I don’t know what happens after we die.

In 2015 I did have something happen to me that cannot be explained by science. It wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t an answered prayer. It’s not the face of Jesus on a pancake, or anything like that. It was just something that happened outside of continuity. Something we had no rational explanation for. It had both symbolic and personal relevance. There was another witness. We took a picture with my camera phone.

The picture wouldn’t convince you if I showed you, though. You could just say that we made the whole thing up. Anyway, I’m not trying to convert anyone.

I don’t have any particular agenda, not at this point in my life.

Be a good person. Live according to your conscience. Know that fear is largely imaginary, a pernicious delusion. Love is real but not easy to find. Distrust simple answers and the wisdom of crowds.

That is my practice. That is how I try to live my life.

About Driving

Normally, I try to avoid driving when another mode of travel (for instance, walking, bus, or train) is convenient and readily available. It’s not that I don’t enjoy driving — driving is super fun except when it gets monotonous. It’s more the energy that is involved. I try to squelch my carbon footprint. I try to keep it as tiny as possible. Driving 5 minutes to get to the grocery store is, while not criminal, not really necessary and it contributes to global warming when done en masse.

The problem is other drivers. I am about to drive to the supermarket right now. It is literally just across the street from the hotel where I am staying (I am staying in a hotel because my apartment in Portland has habitation and ventilation issues). However, I have had at least four individuals, all in large SUV type cars or trucks, almost run me down while I was crossing the street. Two of these incidents took place in daylight. Two of them took place in the early evening. I am sure none of them were intentional! They just weren’t paying attention and they ran the turn signal, I think.

At all these times. I crossed the street when the walk sign was already visible and the little chirping sound could be heard in the background. It’s funny. Through a strange coincidence, somebody actually added extra verbal instructions for the loudspeaker just a day or two ago. It now says “Walk” in addition to flashing the sign.

I wish this extra step actually made that intersection safer for pedestrians. Based on my experience it is still not safe.

In all instances I was walking at the correct time, when the signal had already been given. These stupid drivers just were not paying attention. They were trying to rush home, probably to feed their kids and have time to watch the latest show on Netflix before going to sleep. Binge watching takes some time, you understand. So does cleaning up the house when you have a family.

Something that I am proud of about my country is that women do not always do all of the housework. Many dads and male or nonbinary partners pitch in as well. It kind of depends. I don’t know who was driving most of these vehicles. You try not to look people in the eye when you are a pedestrian and somebody still has the capability of running you down!

Whether it was a dad trying to get back and get a microwave pizza on the table for three kids and his busy wife who has a work-from-home job (perhaps telecommuting to a large consulting firm or advertising agency) or whether it is the mom herself, I hope they find the right rhythm to their schedule and do not run any innocent pedestrians down just so they can squeeze in one more episode of The Expanse after the kids are fed.

Because, you know, vehicular manslaughter will also make you late for dinner and then you will have to miss your show.

Now I am going to drive a very short distance to pick up some vegan soy milk and perhaps some other food for my upcoming trip. Wish me luck not getting in an accident with any other stupid drivers out there. One time many years ago I was hit while stopped in a gas station parking lot by somebody backing with their SUV who just did not see me. Ever since then I have honked my horn aggressively any time another vehicle is close and backing in my direction. I am not trying to be mean. I just want them to know that I am there.

So, even though I am a licensed and insured driver in the state of Oregon and have had this license since August 2018, things could still get ugly. I hope that they do not.

Consider this a driving test.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes

You know how they always say bad news travels faster than good news? The same is true of vile rumors. If you have never had a person insidiously and determinedly try to destroy your reputation, spreading the most disgusting and unspeakable lies imaginable, then count yourself lucky.

Somebody tried to do this to me. I am in the process of having him disbarred as an attorney in the State of California. This effort may succeed. It may also fail. All I know is that the matter is under review. So yes, he absolutely has a motive to do me harm and take me down. Short of murder-suicide (he murders me, then commits suicide using the same gun) I don’t see any outcome that would make me reconsider my decision. The rumors are so vulgar and horrible as to be ridiculous. Nobody who knows me at all could take them seriously.

People like this man should not be practicing law in any state of this country.

I am sorry to have to waste four paragraphs discussing this matter. Fun and quirky post coming up again soon, I hope.

Not a Happy Song

Um, this isn’t a happy song, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s on the ROSECODE playlist, incidentally, if I can ever remember which YouTube account I stashed that link under. I remember hearing about Tupac’s death in 1996, but I don’t think back then I had ever listened to a single song or album of his.

“Ballad of a Dead Soldier,” by Tupac Shakur

Just want to say that today and every day, I am glad to be alive.

Deepfakes

These can be benign, like re-creating a classic Star Trek episode.Star Trek Deepfake

They can also be used to assassinate someone’s character and reputation. They make it incredibly simple to create pornographic images and video about someone, based only on photos of their face.

I’m paranoid enough to wonder about whether when Apple added a side view for face unlock on their phones, some unscrupulous employee might have a way to sell those profiles to the highest bidder. Few people are as paranoid as me, but they haven’t had the same experiences I’ve had.

Here is a story about to how to detect them in real life:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/13/what-are-deepfakes-and-how-can-you-spot-them