Information != Knowledge != Wisdom

“In many academic fields, the number of papers published each year has increased significantly over time. Policy measures aim to increase the quantity of scientists, research funding, and scientific output, which is measured by the number of papers produced. These quantitative metrics determine the career trajectories of scholars and evaluations of academic departments, institutions, and nations. Whether and how these increases in the numbers of scientists and papers translate into advances in knowledge is unclear, however. Here, we first lay out a theoretical argument for why too many papers published each year in a field can lead to stagnation rather than advance. The deluge of new papers may deprive reviewers and readers the cognitive slack required to fully recognize and understand novel ideas. Competition among many new ideas may prevent the gradual accumulation of focused attention on a promising new idea. Then, we show data supporting the predictions of this theory. When the number of papers published per year in a scientific field grows large, citations flow disproportionately to already well-cited papers; the list of most-cited papers ossifies; new papers are unlikely to ever become highly cited, and when they do, it is not through a gradual, cumulative process of attention gathering; and newly published papers become unlikely to disrupt existing work. These findings suggest that the progress of large scientific fields may be slowed, trapped in existing canon. Policy measures shifting how scientific work is produced, disseminated, consumed, and rewarded may be called for to push fields into new, more fertile areas of study.

Johan S. G. Chu and James A. Evans, “Slowed canonical progress in large fields of science.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Oct 2021, 118 (41) e2021636118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021636118

Too much information leads to the inability to determine what is important and what is not important. This slows the rate of change and supports the status quo.

Next time someone tells you that the Internet is a liberating force providing people with more information than they have ever had before, you can point to Sturgeon’s Law. If 90% of everything is crap, increasing your volume, indiscriminately, leads to less knowledge and wisdom, not more. on a volume basis. It is only a benefit when we can filter the 10% from the 90% efficiently, which is a skill few, if any, of us have.

Installing Citrix Workplace on Ubuntu Linux

Installation

$ cd Downloads
$ sudo dpkg -i Citrix-Workspace.deb

Installing a CA Certificate

The pre-installed certificates might work for you. If you get errors when trying to use Citrix, then you’ll likely need to install a CA certificate.

  • Go to the VPN website you use Citrix for.
  • Click on the lock in front of the url
  • Click on certificate (Chrome) or Connection Secure (Firefox)
  • Note the authority under Issued By (Chrome) or Verified By (Firefox)
  • For example, the certification authority might be: DigiCert TLS RSA SHA256 2020 CA1
  • Search for DigiCert TLS RSA SHA256 2020 CA1 in your favorite search engine.
  • Select the official site that allows you to download the relevant certificates.
  • Download both the PEM and the CRT files.
  • Do the following:
$ sudo cp ~/Downloads/DigiCertTLSRSASHA2562020CA1-1.pem /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts
$ sudo chmod 644 /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/keystore/cacerts/DigiCertTLSRSASHA2562020CA1-1.pem
$ sudo /opt/Citrix/ICAClient/util/ctx_rehash

Note: The instructions on the Citrix website seem to be incorrect. It tells you to cp the pem file with a crt extention, even though every other file in the directory is a PEM file. The above copies to the default Citrix directory on Ubuntu, changes the file permissions to -rw-r–r–, and rehashes the new certificate so Citrix can use it.

X.509 Certificate for Chrome or Firefox Browsers

I’m not sure if this is strictly necessary, but it might also be helpful to import the X.509 certificate into Chrome or Firefox. For Chrome (Firefox is similar), do the following:

  • Go to the three dots (hamburger)
  • Select Chrome settings
  • Search for: certificate
  • Click on Security
  • Click on Manage Certificates
  • Click on Authorities
  • Click on Import
  • Select ~/Downloads/DigiCertTLSRSASHA2562020CA1-1.crt
  • Select all three options.

Dan Savage Revolutionized Sex…

“Over the years, Savage honed his philosophy on boundaries—we should all be good, giving, and game for our partners, but we should also accept their hard limits as “the price of admission.” He built up an encyclopedic knowledge of kink and the mechanics of sex: the long-term effects of nipple clamps, how to stage an exciting bondage scene, what kind of butt plug to get when you’re first experimenting with anal penetration. (Not—and he cannot stress this enough—the small kind that looks like a finger, which will pop out of your butt at the least opportune moment.)

This staggering oeuvre, full of best practices and universal frameworks and detailed instructions, made Savage Love a beloved institution. It has also vexed Savage at times over the past decade, as the world he’s schooling changed with the #MeToo movement and the cultural evolution of the gay and trans communities. In recent years, it sometimes seemed like Savage was on the defensive as much as he was setting the rules. When I talked to him in Seattle, it was clear he felt that, too.”

-L.V. Anderson, “Dan Savage Revolutionized Sex. Then the Revolution Came for Him.” Slate. September 23, 2021.

If Dan Savage is on the defensive, who isn’t?

Dune Foresaw—and Influenced—Half a Century of Global Conflict

“Written even before the advent of America’s war in Vietnam, Dune captures a world in which war is inherently asymmetric, where head-on, conventional military conflict has largely been replaced with all the subtler ways that humans seek to dominate one another: insurgency and counterinsurgency, sabotage and assassination, diplomacy, espionage and treachery, proxy wars and resource control. For the military officers and intelligence analysts who still read and reread Dune today, it presents an uncanny reflection of the state of geopolitical competition in 2021—from the pitfalls of regime change to the terra incognita of cyberwar.

-Andy Greenberg, “Dune Foresaw—and Influenced—Half a Century of Global Conflict.” Wired. September 28 ,2021

Obligatory. See also: The Secret History of Dune.

Modern Piña Colada

“Four years into our marriage, my husband found me on OkCupid.

I had only joined the site to check out his profile. He had joined to find someone else…

…Then I received a sweet message: “I see we’re a 98 percent match. Would you like to meet up and see what life has to offer?

It was from my husband.”

-Gayle Brandeis, “We Wanted to Split Up. OkCupid Had Other Ideas.The New York Times. October 1, 2021.

Easily the most Pina Colada song thing I’ve ever read.

Amazon’s Censorship of Devil Daddy

“Censorship is alive and well over at Amazon Kindle. Last time it was our scholarly edition of the rare 1881 Victorian gay text Sins of the Cities of the Plain, which they banned for several years. Now they’ve banned the ebook of John Blackburn’s 1972 horror novel Devil Daddy, while refusing to explain why. At Amazon, any book can be blocked from sale at some random employee’s whim, with no right of appeal. Please remember that you have a choice of where to shop, and all our ebooks are available on our site, as well as Nook, Kobo and iTunes.

If you can’t zoom in on the screenshot below, here is the email from Amazon:

“As stated in our content guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what content we consider to be appropriate. This content includes both the cover art image and the content within the book. We’re unable to elaborate further on specific details regarding our content guidelines…”

-Valancourt Books, “September 2021 Update, part 2“.

I should have known. But, this is the first time I’ve heard of Amazon censoring books. When the largest retailer of book refuses to carry particular titles, especially ones that are controversial in some way, it cheapens the public discourse. Devil Daddy may not be to the taste of the average American, but the average American’s taste and community standards is a horrible basis for content guidelines.

Is/Ought Fallacy: Exhibit A

“Crypto is gambling, and you should never gamble more than you can afford to lose, right? So the only people who held onto their bitcoin when it was worth $100,000 dollars were:

* People who could afford to lose $100,000

* People who couldn’t afford to lose it and were therefore making a very, very stupid gamble

And that’s the same at every dollar amount. Some people can’t afford to lose $1000, some people $100, but whatever level you’re at, you would have and should have sold when it hit that figure.

That means it’s literally not possible for a sensible person to make life-changing amounts of money from cryptocurrency, because the only way to do it is to bet more than you can afford to lose.”

McKinley Valentine, “No FOMO: If you’d bought bitcoin 10 years ago, you wouldn’t be rich today.” The Whippet. September 15, 2021.-

The way logic works is if you argue something is not possible, then pointing to one (or dozens of) counter-example(s) refutes your argument. You’ll notice the chart after the table of names that indicate that “investors” make up the majority of Bitcoin billionaires. So, it is literally possible. If you had limited resources, it could have been as simple as putting together a mining rig, well within the capabilities and budgets of most technical people back then.

If you want to feel good about not investing in Bitcoin back in its infancy, consider what sudden wealth tends to do to people talked about in this classic Reddit post on the lottery. It’s enough to make you never want to be rich, ever.

JAQing Off, Concerns, Memes & Related

High score!

Are you just asking questions, a.k.a., JAQing off? Do you have concerns about X? Do you use rote ideas and thinking to communicate? For example, are you invested in cryptocurrencies and like to use jargon like hodl, hopium, and so forth? Or, do you like to follow “influencers” who spend time explaining things they barely understand themselves or acting in some exceptionally horrible way, trying to top whatever horrible thing they did last time?

I’ve recently started using Reddit somewhat regularly, and it is reminding me why I have left social media and also what I have missed. For what I use it for, it’s a great source of information that I’d be unable to get otherwise. But, the price for that information is coming into contact with people that who don’t want to be informed, who need things explained to them and are unwilling to do their own research, who are looking for justification for their worldview from some authority, who are looking to proselytize or share their opinions with the world, who want to find some tribe to belong to, who want to waste the time of people that don’t belong to their tribe or share their opinions, who seem to principally concerned with entertaining themselves, and so forth.

At bottom, there’s a lot of people performing for an audience. People trying to program other people with their ideas, packaged in pictures, audio and video. Almost all of it is either related to making money, making someone famous or making some person or group more powerful.

A major challenge is not to get wrapped up in this nonsense, even if it is in opposition to it. But, here I am writing about it, ffs.

I have hope that, over time, new kinds of communities will evolve that avoid these kinds of problems. Or, perhaps a self-selection process occurs where people opt-out of performative exchanges and tribal miming.

I don’t know how to live this kind of change. But, I hope I can figure out a solution that works for me, which I suspect will largely amount to ignoring most commentary and avoiding interactions with the vast majority of people online. Of course, just not using Reddit would be the easiest path. And, then, others questions beg to be asked. Why continue writing a blog? Why use the Internet at all? It’s just me and my Linux box air-gapped from the world, which sounds both utopian and like a really dumb idea.

People are truly both the worst and the best. How to get more of the latter though? Do you smell that? Is it introversion or is it just me?

Live Long & Prosper

“Behavioral scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). We know happiness can predict health and longevity, and happiness scales can be used to measure social progress and the success of public policies. But happiness isn’t something that just happens to you. Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life.”

-Tara Parker-Pope, “How To Be Happy.” The New York Times.

Open Question: What does it mean to be “happy”?

In brief, the author seems to take the ideas of Blue Zones:, i.e., places where people tend to be exceptionally long lived, and flesh these concepts out with “happiness” research. The nine key ideas of Blue Zones:

  1. Move naturally, or have a lifestyle that incorporates movement without doing movement for movement’s sake, a.k.a. as exercise.
  2. Have a purpose.
  3. Downshift, take time every day, week, month and year to do nothing or be contemplative.
  4. The 80% Rule for eating. Eat until you are 80% full.
  5. Eat mostly plants.
  6. Drink alcohol in moderation, 1-2 servings a day.
  7. Belong to a community.
  8. Prioritize your relationships.
  9. Make sure the relationships are with good people.

The New York TimesHow to Be Happy” reframes these into categories: Mind, Home, Relationships, Work & Money & Happy Life. Then, it attempts to provide more detailed advice.

Mind

  1. Become acquainted with cognitive behavioral therapy, i.e., become proficient at managing negative thinking.
  2. Boxed breathing for acute situations and breath focused meditation to cultivate a more equanimical disposition.
  3. Rewrite your personal story, positive without the pedestal.
  4. Exercise.
  5. Make an effort to look for the positive in any situation.

Home

  1. Find a good place to live and a good community within it to be part of.
  2. Be out in a natural setting.
  3. Keep what you need, discard the rest.

Relationships

  1. Spend time with happy people. Conversely, avoid the unhappy and the unlucky, the stupid, Hoodoos, toxic people, psychic vampires, and associated others. Obviously, the negative formulation is a hot topic here at cafebedouin.org.
  2. Get a pet. [Editors note: Pets, children and other people aren’t going to make you happy, save you, etc.]
  3. Learn to enjoy being alone. In this historical moment, with fewer communities and relationships mediated through the Internet, it’s an important skill. If you can’t manage it, find ways around it, e.g., join an intentional community. If you are turning on the radio or television to hear human voices and escape your own thoughts, you might want to think about finding ways of being better company to yourself.

Work and Money

  1. Money isn’t going to make you happy. The more money you have past a certain threshold, the more problems you will have. But, being poor is no virtue and is its own source of suffering. Try to avoid the material extremes.
  2. The New York Times wants you to find your purpose at work. Right livelihood is important, but defining ourselves through our work is a major issue post-industrial age. When surnames became necessary, people chose their occupation. Think of all the occupational last names: Smith, Miller, Cooper, etc. The problem with finding purpose at work is it often turns into our life’s purpose. Our life should be about more than work.
  3. Find ways to reclaim your time, which I interpret to mean work less.

Happy Life

  1. Be generous. Show gratitude.
  2. Do things for other people.
  3. Stop being a judgmental prick to yourself and others.

Conclusion

Something about The New York Times presentation leaves much to be desired. Is it the focus on work? Is it because much of it seems like platitudes? I’m not entirely sure. The ideas aren’t bad, particularly the ones that stem directly from Blue Zone suggestions. But, the focus on “nesting” in the bedroom, volunteering (with the implication that it be the modern form and involve some kind of institution) and so forth managed to rub me the wrong way. But, most of this is good advice, when you get down to the nut of it.

Villeneuve’s Dune

Empire’s Ben Travis, who gave another five-star review, said that for fans of the Dune books, the latest and best film adaptation had been well worth the wait.

He wrote: “For science-fiction devotees, especially those who have long-worshipped Frank Herbert’s dense tome and waited decades for it to be brought to the screen in a more successful incarnation than previous filmmakers have managed, make no mistake: Villeneuve’s Dune is the adaptation you always dreamed of.”

-“Dune: Critics largely lavish praise on epic sci-fi remake.” BBC. September 7, 2021.

It isn’t a surprise to anyone that I plan on watching Villeneuve’s Dune when it comes out. I’m also take the opportunity to point to The Secret History of Dune.