The "woo" of physicalists

From time to time, I have exchanges with people entrenched in physicalism. I usually find great opposition trying to explain that their mindset is, also, a faith. A faith in how the world must be, because the belief brings them comfort, and it's how they prefer it. It's not infrequent that people grow up intellectually oppressed by religion – as did I – so this escape into a vision of a material universe – Completely material! Completely! I tell you! – is understandable, even if frustrating. It is an existential issue, so minds on this are hard to change.

These types of people like to accuse those of us who are less orthodox as believing in "woo". Woo is anything that (A) threatens physicalism, and (B) is not 100% supported by extremely rigorous studies. But none is rigorous enough, d'oh!

This level of evidence is, naturally, understood as unrealistic when it comes to most things. It's mostly just expected for claims that offend physicalism. This is conveyed …

IBM Trusteer Rapport is crap-ware

IBM Trusteer Rapport is the worst piece of software I have had to install recently. I resent that so many banks are requiring their customers to install it – just so as to be able to access certain types of e-banking.

I get it – departments like accounting easily fall prey to phishing, and even sophisticated users make mistakes, and there exist attacks that fool them. But Trusteer Rapport has exactly the effect I expected from a compulsory piece of software. It slows down the system by about a factor of 5. Directories take centuries to browse, documents take epochs to print, and files take a long time to open. And the only way to fix it is... ta-daaa – to completely uninstall Trusteer Rapport.

The product constantly consumes CPU, even when the computer is inactive, but you wouldn't know it. It doesn't consume CPU in its own components, you see. Instead, it causes high CPU consumption in WmiPrvSE, a Windows component. This regularly jumps to 100% of a single CPU core while Trus…

For sale: 4-bedroom condo in San José, Costa Rica!

After 5 years in Costa Rica, we have moved to the US. We are selling our condominium apartment on the fifth floor of the Metropolitan Tower, overlooking the Sabana Metropolitan Park, next to the National Stadium in San José, Costa Rica.

Our asking price:
USD 549,000This price has been reduced substantially, and is an attractive price for this property.

OverviewLiving area:230.27 m2 – 2478 sqftTotal with parking and storage:272.07 m2 – 2928 sqftFirst moved in:September 2013 – we are first ownerLayout:4 bedrooms, balcony, utility room, maid quartersBathrooms:3 bathrooms, 1 washroom, 1 bathroom in maid quartersParking:2 parking spaces in underground garage, protected entryStorage:approx 11 m2 – 118 sqft crawl space, next to parkingViews:peaceful treeline view toward Sabana; Stadium viewNoise:some; but well-insulated windows compared to areaTower amenities:Nearby:staffed front desk24/7 securityfully equipped gymdeck with swimming pool and hot tubconference and meeting roomchildren's pla…

On the Google vs. James Damore controversy

As an introduction, the following are some publications covering various aspects of the Google diversity controversy:
First and foremost, James Damore's original diversity memo. First intended for a limited audience at Google, it was published after a first internal and then public uproar, and his resulting firing for expressing this opinion.The Guardian: Google employee fired over diversity row considers legal actionMegan McArdle, via Bloomberg View: As a Woman in Tech, I Realized: These Are Not My PeopleCynthia Lee, lecturer in computer science at Stanford: I'm a woman in computer science. Let me ladysplain the Google memo to you.I liked the article by Megan McArdle. However, I was asked to express my opinion about the last article, by Cynthia Lee. Cynthia's point of view appears to be representative of the uproar, and is phrased in a cogent and non-extreme manner.

Broadly, my views are as follows:
Throughout centuries, society has historically done an extremely poor job a…

"It's hard work to suffer."

I recently found this interview very insightful. It's mostly about Roger Linden's experience of non-duality. He's pleasant to listen to. But the most meaningful, to me, was this part, from 2:04 until 8:04:

Roger: "I think in all the years that I practiced, which is over 30 years now, I don't think I've ever met someone who's understanding and belief about what their problem was... their understanding was always wrong. They were never right about what the problem actually was. I think, because if we really knew what the problem was, it would have evaporated. So I see the work – a lot is helping people to appreciate what's really happening; or what's really causing pain, or suffering, or frustration, whatever it may be."

Iain: "And what is that in most people that's causing the pain and frustration?"

Roger: "Well, fundamentally, the sense of self, and the contraction that goes along with that, that in life happens when we're …

Libertarianism in bullet points

What it is:
A moderate or extreme belief in the non-aggression principle.Socially, a person owns their body. Does not receive dictates on how to use it.Economically, a person owns their property. Does not receive dictates on how to use it.
Main flavors:
Utilitarian, or classical social liberal:
Maximize non-aggression principle as long as results for most people are neutral or good.Supports a tax-funded state with a professional military and efficient public services.Prefers easily navigable regulation, but supports regulation as necessary.Supports redistribution to meet basic needs not met by charity.No longer called "libertarian" in the US. Mostly perfectly sensible.Neo-classical:
Maximize non-aggression principle, second only to need for group self-preservation.Supports a minimal state with a professional military. No tax-funded public services.Supports no regulation except minimum to define the state and property.Supports no redistribution, even to meet basic needs not met by…

Is morality fundamentally objective?

I say it is; even if interpretations of it differ.

For philosophers, living and dead, questions like this have been their life's concern. So maybe I can't say anything new. But maybe they were wordy and abstruse; and my unoriginal insights can be interesting. :)

I read this article today about really bad workplace bullying that ended in suicide. Hazing appears to be pervasive in some lines of work, and these particular bullies are not remorseful. They think they applied to the victim just the same violent routines they applied to everyone as a "prank". This included:
Forcing him naked in a cage; dousing him in a flammable liquid; and burning his clothes.Locking him in the trunk of a car and hosing him down with a pressure cleaner.Pressure cleaners – by the way – can cause injuries resulting in amputation.

Most people may consider these actions blatantly abhorrent. There are some, though, who defend them; saying morality is subjective. Who's to say that what we con…