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Political Correctness

When I first realised that the disagreements about political correctness aren't just yet another sign of political camps having opposite views about societal coexistance and interactions but rather a debate in which proponents and opponents of political correctness are situated in the same communities, I was a bit confused. When I realised that free thinkers and rationalists repeatedly spoke out against political correctness as a whole and against individual examples of it as well as recent developments in western societies that I view as positive, I was surprised. This year I have finally heard enough to get me to look into why that is. More than a few times I have heard people whose world view I share or whose opinions I value either condemn political correctness or rant about something that in their depiction went wrong or is going wrong because of political correctness. But they seemed to assume that the reader/listener/dialogue partner is on the same page and didn't go into detail or defend that view enough to make me understand it. Ultimately it was the hate in the sound Stephen Fry's voice that made me search for the cause of the clash of opinions between his and mine.

My view on the topic has always been a bit simple but nonetheless felt mature to me. It's not like I've never read or thought about political correctness and relating topics before. Simply put, I don't see a good reason to do something incorrectly on purpose. There are many reasons to be politically incorrect apart from sheer self-purpose and intentional offense. Ignorance, a lack of awareness, understanding or time to think about matters like this and other human imperfections are all very widespread and understandable causes for political incorrectness. But they aren't good reasons to be incorrect. I'm trying to write this without using any examples because I fear that that would make me go way too far down into detail. So, in short: When making a conscious decision to do something one way or the other, one should, all other things being equal, ideally, always choose the one that, to their knowledge, has the least potential to cause offense, oppress or support existing inequality. Yes, I know. But I said in short. Let's keep it at that for now.

What I found when I looked into this debate was, well, first of all a lack of a definition in almost every case, which makes debating on it a lot less efficient and more prone to miunderstandings, leading to misrepresentations and wrong assumptions of other's opiniens thus a lack of a result of the whole debate. But trying to look past that, I got the feeling that the motivations for rejecting what I perceive as positive progression through political correctness are often rooted in an a fundamental dislike for change. I should be able to relate to this even more than I do. But I don't see this as a rational argument against political correctness. And it isn't used as one. It's just what I assume behind many cul-de-sac in discussions because no clear, rational reason is given. Even people with a well-deserved reputation of being rational thinkers create the impression of arguing out of personal offence (at which point the opponent often points out the irony of the one arguining for the freedom of offense being the one who is offended by rational arguments, which usually leads the discussion to leave the path that looks like it could lead to useful insight).

But there is one argument that I hadn't really taken into account before: The claim that it just doesn't work. Empirically, what did political correctness bring us directly? How much progress was cause or influenced by it? And how much hate, tribalism and radicalisation has it caused and still causes it on the right? I don't know. But that is an interesting part of this discussion. I don't think I have anything useful to contribute to this. So I'll leave these questions entirely unanswered before reading more.

All Those Bike Attachements

I think bicycle accessaries are of these things that developed over time past the point where it would have been sensible to rethink how things are done. I think it would make sense the rethink how all those bike attachments are integrated.

A bicycle without any attachments is already nice. It can be used without them and none of the things are necessary all the time. So it can make sense to have them detachable. But probably most people use their bike mainly for one thing - transportation, mountain-biking, sports - and need the same combination of attachments most times the bike is used. (Minus the lights when it's not dark.) I think it's rather peculiar that people buy, attach and use all these extras without questioning the crowded state of their bicycle frame. Let me list the things that I find useful myself.

  • Bell (*)
  • Front light (*)
  • Back light (*)
  • Phone/GPS holder
  • Phone charger
  • Action camera
  • Remote for indicators (in helmet or jacket/shirt)
  • Horn

(*): required by law when driving on the street

So, in this configuration, when you get back from riding your bike, you have to turn off the front light, turn off the back light, turn off the helmet indicator, turn off the indicator remote, check the charge of the front light, the back light, the phone charger, the GPS, the helmet, the helmet control, the horn and the action cam, detach the things that need charging, bring them in the house and plug them in for charging one after another. You may also have an electronic lock, additional front lights, a breaking light, the remote control for the breaking light and a headlamp. Half of them still have a micro USB port and none of the batteries last for dozens of rides (unless you ride mostly when it isn't dark). Sure, that comes with the benefit of having these devices, people seem to think. But they don't do all of this when they get out of their car. Because it wouldn't make sense to have a separate battery for every electronic device in a modern car. Neither does it make sense on a bike.

It would be nice to have a central battery for everything on my bike and a single on/off switch. But I don't use it enough to see me investing in building it myself. Because if I'd do it, I'd want it to be safe and secure in any weather, look good and not be too clunky or heavy. So I'd have to invest time.

SBWG 1.0.0 Delayed To Next Life

I've decided to not publish version 1.0.0 of SBWG.

Very early on I devided against a versioning approach that allowed me to stay below version 1.0 for a very long time by only incrementing the version number by 0.0.1 for important changes but rather chose to increment the version and publish a new version whenever. I stick to this approach because it allowes me to express felt overall progress in the version number. But now that the goals that I at some point set for version 1.0.0 are nearly reached (they pretty much are), this leaves me in a spot where publishing version 1.0.0 would be the next thing to do despite the fact that it's not actually really absolutely perfect, yet. Absolute perfection isn't really my approach. It's still more like a learning project.

So to avoid having published a version that looks perfect on the label but isn't inside, I will skip this version number. Don't get me wrong. My goals are. I've tested it more than I thought I would and thought of potential problems and fixed bugs that I'd argue are not something you'd expect most shell scripters to catch. It definitely works reliably for what it is intended and at least works well for much more than I thought it would in the first few months of starting this project.

So, there is no link in this entry. No new version published today. The next version will be 1.x.x something.

Alright. Now that that's done, I can start to implement new features again next year.

Comparing apples and oranges: a randomised prospective study

There is a research paper that was published a year ago and hasn't gotton enough attention in my opinion. I wished many times that somebody attempted something line this scientifically.

There are several very basic things wrong with this paper. The results are pretty much useless apart from the overall success of the comparison itself. Ignore the details. I can finally say with confidence that comparing apples with oranges is not as outragiously impossible as it is usually made out to be.

Here's the link to the paper. And here it is on NCBI.

The Web Sucks

Not all of it. But definitely most of the world wide web sucks. I recently stumbled upon a blog post that puts many of my thoughts about the modern web into words well and that I'd like to share:

The Web Sucks by Chucho.

25 years ago I imagined what would be possible if I had access to the internet. 20 years ago we were excited about and enjoyed the possibilities of the web It was better than imagined. 15 years ago we were excited about so much more interesting and useful content, "Web 2.0" and the new possibilities that really started to become useful tools in everyday life. 10 years ago pretty much everbody was online, it had become too crowded but we knew where to go, which browser extensions to install and what to filter for a good experience. 5 years ago I started to realise how fucked the web had actually become.

It happened so slowly that it felt normal. But eventually the vast vast majority of content on the web was and still is commercial websites that mainly serve a purpose other than educate the reader, share experience, knowledge or other content. Almost all of the sites that appear or claim to exist for spreading information contain more paid content than actual content. It has long become impossible to filter out the pieces of the web with a less-than-creditable intent. I think way back when you considered to install an ad blocker for the first time, that's when a major line was crossed. It became so much worse so quickly that I can hardly remember how benign a large potion of the web was years ealier.

More people than ever share content in good faith on the internet today. But even this urge to share experiences, be it for the gratification of an urge to present the author's thoughts and feelings (like this entry) or for altruistic reasons for a greater good, is commercialised and directed into channels optimised for profit maximisation. You can't even access most of it without signing a legal contract that you definitely don't understand (because specialised legal experts aren't even sure how to interpret many of the most important parts) with one of the subjectively most evil companies in the history of mankind.

No wonder many people try to abandon the web as much as it is still possible (which is becoming less and less). No wonder the Gemini project was founded with built in feature contraints and has their users argue and decide against implementing basic features into the protocol that would help make browsing the gemini space a more comfortable experience. From the technological view, openness to new festures, the extendibility of the protocol, has made the mess the web is today possible.

Of cource I'm ignoring many things here the modern web enables and that I use and choose to continue to use. I'm still wondering wether any of it is worth the trouble. From relatively small trouble, like megabytes of at best useless Javascript to larger trouble, like huge companies using AI-created algorithms that have never been evaluated for anything but how much money they potentially could produce when put to use, and intentional policy choices, pressing most of humankind to produce less helpful but more profiting content and, more and more commonly, intentionally harmful content on a scale science is starting to realise is impairing quality of life, empathy and may even have notable bad impacts on international politics.

Seriously, what are we doing allowing to be done with this technology?

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