Stereotype Content Model: Warmth & Competence

“Fiske…had been developing a theory of dehumanization called the Stereotype Content Model, in which there are two criteria by which we measure people we meet: warmth and competence. “What do you need to know about people who are unfamiliar to you?” she says. “First you need to know their intentions — good or ill. If their intentions are benign, you trust them more. If they’re malignant, you don’t. Then you need to know whether they can act on their intentions. Because if they can’t act on their intentions, they don’t really matter to you. That’s competence.”

These two measures form a square with four quadrants into which we sort the people we meet. Those we consider to be like us are both warm and competent. People we envy are those we see as competent but not warm (think Wall Street bankers). We see people we pity or sympathize with as warm but not competent (disabled or elderly people). And people who are neither competent nor warm we see as something else entirely.”

-Frank Bures, “Are Cyclists Human? October 13, 2020

I’ve always been one to focus on competence. It occurs to me that not focusing on warmth can lead to other emotions beyond envy, such as being perceived as arrogant.

The Bit Player: Claude Shannon

“The film tells the story of an overlooked genius: Claude Shannon. In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a ‘bit’ and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics. But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past.

Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, The Bit Player tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.

The Bit Player on Documentary Mania

Emacs: Rebinding Caps Lock to Ctrl

I was reading this piece, The Beginners Guide to Emacs, which suggested making the Caps Lock Key into CTRL. I’ve been using emacs for years, and it never occurred to me to make this change. Lovely! Since it isn’t in the instructions, I’d thought I’d make a note here in case it comes up in the future.

$ sudo emacs /etc/default/keyboard

Then add: 


$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration
$ shutdown -r now

[Question] Is Stupidity Expanding? Some Hypotheses.

“To be explained: It feels to me that in recent years, people have gotten stupider, or that stupid has gotten bigger, or that the parts of people that were always stupid have gotten louder, or something like that.

I’ve come up with a suite of hypotheses to explain this (with a little help from my friends). I thought I’d throw them out here to see which ones the wise crowd here think are most likely. Bonus points if you come up with some new ones. Gold stars if you can rule some out based on existing data or can propose tests by which they might be rendered more or less plausible.

-David Gross, “[Question] Is Stupidity Expanding? Some Hypotheses.” October 15, 2020.

George Carlin kind of nails it for me: stupid, full of shit and fuckin’ nuts. While the Venn diagram has overlap, you really cannot think about this issue without the other two.

Prima facie evidence? See hypotheses in Section A, Hypothesis 11:

“There is no truth, only power. What I’ve been interpreting as truth and rationality has been my own attempt to align my thinking with the political clique that was in power when I was being educated. What I’m interpreting as rising stupidity has been the collapse in power and status of that clique and the political obsolescence of the variety of ‘truth’ and ‘rationality’ I internalized as a child. Those pomo philosophers were right all along.”

Or Section B, Hypothesis 10:

“Stupid choices used to reliably have undesirable results; now there is more of a disconnect where people are shielded from the results of their stupid choices, or even rewarded for them (man lights himself on fire in an easily-forseeable misadventure, becomes YouTube legend). So people may be appearing stupid not as a result of being stupid but as the result of a perverse cost-benefit analysis. People are no dumber than they used to be, but for [reasons] it has become advantageous to display stupidity and so smart people sometimes mimic idiocy so as to reap such advantages. The smarter they are, the quicker they caught on to this and the better mimics they are, so this makes it look as though the smart people are being replaced by morons, when really it’s more a matter of camouflage.”

Both are clearly in the full of shit category. Much of crazy is indistinguishable from stupid. Section B, Hypothesis 8, for instance:

“Back in the day, when a person had a stupid idea, they would be reluctant to put it forward as their own. Rather, they would wait to see if someone else would voice the idea so they could just agree with it. This used to be relatively rare, but now you just have to google “[my stupid idea]” to find that someone or other has said it first, and then you’re off to the races.

Replace stupid with crazy in that sentence, and it is every bit as valid.

Play the Plot: Tabletop Games for Your Favorite Fantasy Book

“In honor of this glorious, beautiful, multitude of games that are just begging to be played, I’ve set up a few tabletop roleplaying games with some new pieces of genre fiction. I tried to pick out games that have been written recently, and none that originated in the 70s! Take a look, and maybe support a game or two. We’ll start with Fantasy, diving right in with games and books that go from epic to short, historical to urban, so take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.”

Linda H. Codega, “Play the Plot: Tabletop Games for Your Favorite Fantasy Book.” October 5, 2020.

Librem AweSIM

“Major cellular providers are creating unified customer identifiers based on customer account information (name, address, billing information) and unique identifiers on your mobile devices so they can ‘identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising’. Librem AweSIM adds an extra layer of privacy to your customer data to protect you from targeted tracking. We register your phone number in our name on your behalf and keep your personal and financial data private and out of the hands of companies who would sell it to others.”

Librem AweSIM