Thursday, April 18, 2019

Moving your music library to a new iPhone

In case you didn't know, if you buy a new iPhone and try to transfer your music library from the old one to the new one, you're going to run into a problem. Apple has decided to make it to where you can't transfer anything but the music you purchased from Apple. So if, like me, your music library consists of a lot of music you got off of CD's, you're going to lose all that music. Even if you still have the CD's, you're probably screwed if you have a relatively new MacBook Pro since they don't have CD players anymore.

The only solution I've found is to download another app to allow you to transfer your music. I found one called AnyTrans. The only problem is that the free trial version only allows you to transfer 30 songs which you have no control over. If you want to transfer your whole library, you have to buy a license which costs $40. That's $40 just to keep your own music! If you bite the bullet, like I did because I had so much music I was going to lose, the app crashes while it's in the process of transferring your music.

I am not a happy camper right now.

UPDATE: I deleted AnyTrans and downloaded it again, and now it works without crashing. It cost me $40 to save about $300 or $400 worth of music because of Apple.

Monday, April 15, 2019

An apt parallel

Friday, April 05, 2019

Christopher Robin

For a kids movie, Christopher Robin was unusually anxiety-provoking. Not only were we on the edge of our seats the entire time wondering if Mr. Robin would ever make it to his business meeting on time, but they had to go and include a scene where Pooh Bear got honey all in his fur while sitting on furniture, then ran around the house getting the ickity stickity stuff all over the place. I was glad when that movie was over and I could breathe again.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Knowledge by memory

We know things in a variety of ways--intuition, sensory experience, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, etc. I was thinking today about memory. I used to list memory as one among several other methods of having knowledge. But as I was thinking about it today, I realized that memory is necessary for the majority of what we know or believe. And it's necessary to function in our day to day lives. This is interesting to me because people say that memory is "notoriously unreliable." I don't think people think about how much we actually rely on memory.

Most of what we know isn't based simply on sensory experience, science, reading, observing, etc. Rather, it's based on our memory of having experienced these things. What you know at this moment is based on something you experienced in the past. If we couldn't rely on at least the general reliability of our memories, we couldn't know anything other than what we are experiencing in the present moment. We couldn't even know that memory is notoriously unreliable. How does anybody know that memory is notoriously unreliable? Presumably, they know it because of something they read, heard, or experienced in the past. In other words, they are counting on those memories to be reliable.

But memory is important for an even more mundane reason. You couldn't function in your day to day life without being able to rely on your memory. Imagine trying to just have a conversation without the use of your memory. You couldn't respond to what your buddy just said because you wouldn't remember it. And you couldn't even get through your own sentence without forgetting what you were wanting to say. If you ever made it to the end of your sentence, you wouldn't know what you just said because you wouldn't remember how the sentence started.

And where would you go to get food? You can't just know, instinctively, that grocery stores exist and have food. You've got to rely on your memory to know that.

I don't think people would last long if memory really was unreliable. I think the reason people say memory is unreliable is because they're cherry picking. There are lots of times when our memories fail us, and we don't remember things exactly the way they happened. These moments stand out to us more than when our memories delivered accurate information, so we blow them out of proportion. The sentiment that memory is unreliable is understandable in that light, but I think the idea that our memories are generally unreliable is false. It's even a self-refuting claim unless the person wants to engage in special pleading by saying, "Except for my memories of when my memories and the memories of others failed."

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Are the characters in your dreams conscious?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post explaining why you are probably not living in a simulation. One of the reasons I gave was that a simulation of a person probably wouldn't have its own individual consciousness, but you know good and well that you are conscious. I was just thinking that when you dream, your brain is basically running a simulation. There are characters in your dreams that walk and talk as if they were real people. But they don't have their own individual consciousness, so this seems to be evidence that a simulation in a computer probably wouldn't be conscious either. Just as a person in your dream is a mere representation, so also a simulated person in a computer would be a mere representation.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Skepticism about theories that invoke illusion to dismiss anomalies

There are a lot of views out there that require you to say that certain aspects of our experience are illusions. For example, on a B theory of time, the passing of time is an illusion. Or, on the emergent property view of the mind, the sense we have of acting on volition is an illusion.

It seems to me that any theory or model that has to resort to illusion is an inadequate or incomplete model or theory. Ideally, a model or theory should account for all the information you have. It would be consistent with all of your information and either explain it or be explained by it. When you say that some aspects of our experience is an illusion, what you're essentially doing is admitting that that piece of information doesn't fit neatly into your model, and rather than give up your model or try to come up with a different one, you're just dismissing some of the evidence or information. You're sweeping it under the rug.

On the other hand there is such a thing as an illusion. I'm not saying we're never justified in dismissing something as an illusion. But in general when it comes to theories or models of reality, if illusion is a persistent or intrinsic part of that theory or model, then we should be skeptical of it because basically it means we have a piece of information that the theory or model doesn't account for.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Forged In Fire

Forged In Fire is my favorite show, but I still have some problems with it.

First, I don't think it accurately represents the talent a lot of the contestants have. If you're a bladesmith, your first priority isn't to make a knife as fast as you can. Your priority is quality. Well, quality suffers if you're in a big hurry. This competition is timed, so all these bladesmiths are in a big hurry. Consequently, the quality of their work in the competition is not at all representative of what they are capable of. If you look some of these people up, they've got amazing talent. I would love to see their true talent displayed on the show, but the format just doesn't allow for it.

Second, the contestants don't have any control over the tempering process. Heat treating is one of the most important aspects of making a knife, second only to material. The problem with not allowing them to temper their own blades is that when somebody gets disqualified because their blade broke during testing, it's not entirely their fault. They might've been able to produce a tougher blade by tempering it at a higher temperature or differentially tempering it. Of course some of it also has to do with grain size, which they do have control over. You can control the grain size by thermal cycling the blade. Also, the blades sometimes break because of there being cracks which form during the forging process.

Third, the testing is kind of subjective. How can we be sure that the judges are swinging each blade with exactly the same force? I wonder about this especially in the case of J. Neilson. He swings those blades really hard. It seems like by the time he gets to the second and third blade, he'd have a little fatigue. Another problem is that the judges don't always know how to wield these weapons. They don't always know how to swing a sword or throw a knife. I think they could come up with more objective ways to test these blades, but it probably wouldn't be as exciting and fun to watch for most people.

Fourth, they don't show enough of the forging process. This seems to be getting worse over time. They show too much of the interviews and the conversation between the judges when they could be showing the people shaping their blades. In this respect, I think there are a lot of YouTube videos that are far more interesting than this aspect of Forged In Fire. I think Forged In Fire would be more enjoyable if they did a better job of editing and show more forging, sharpening, and handle shaping than people talking.

Fifth, I don't like how they try to trip people up. There were some episodes where they had 24 hour epoxy on the shelves, which makes no sense because you only get three hours to attach and finish your handle. Why do they even have 24 hours epoxy? It served no other purpose than to trip up the contestants. This didn't test their ability to make blades. It tested their ability to read labels. I don't know if I would've looked that closely on the labels because it wouldn't have entered my mind that they would've had 24 hour epoxy for a three hours handle segment. It looks like they stopped doing that, and I'm glad.

Sixth, I don't like when they have people do weird stuff with weird junk metal, like making a knife using two different parts of a car or motorcycle. Sure, people do salvage steel to make blades sometimes, but people are usually pretty selective about the kind of steel they'll salvage. They'll use ball bearings, leaf springs, and farrier rasps because those are usually reliable. But no good knife maker is likely to use mystery steel that they know nothing about, and some of the challenges are just silly. I'd rather the contestants get a good piece of known steel from which to work so we can actually see what they're capable of. The ability to forage for scraps and cobble something together isn't that interesting to me, and it's not how most bladesmiths make their knives and swords.

In spite of all these complaints, I love the show. A casting agent contacted me on reddit one time to see if I'd be interested in going on it. I declined because I don't forge knives (I use the stock removal method), and I don't have half the talent most of the people on that show have, but I referred her to another guy I know (Jason Fry), and he actually went on the show! He almost won it, too. He came in second place.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Two pro-choice myths

Back in 2010, I wrote a response to something a friend of a friend of a friend had written on the pro-choice/pro-life debate. In the comment section, somebody gave me four different links that supposedly showed that laws against abortion have no affect on abortion rates. It turned out that all four links referred to just one study, and I didn't think the study showed what this person thought it showed.

Later on, a friend of mine on facebook (the same friend who had the friend who had the pro-choice friend) announced to all her pro-life friends that it had been proven (she put 'proven' in all caps) that abortion bans did not prevent abortions but only lead to women dying horrible deaths. I questioned her about that, mentioning how somebody else had previously told me about a study that I didn't think showed any such thing. I explained to her why I didn't think the study showed what the other guy claimed it showed, and I asked her if she had anything else for me to look at. She gave me three sources. I looked at them, and all three of them pointed to that same study that the guy on my blog pointed me to.

So it turned out that there's just one study that people keep pointing to as proof that abortion bans don't prevent abortions: "The Incidence of Abortion Worldwide" by Stanley K. Henshaw, Susheela Singh, and Taylor Haas.

I recently found a post on the Secular Pro-Life Perspective blog that addresses this study, then cites several sources showing that abortion bans do stop abortions, and I thought you might like to have a look-see: "Pro-life laws stop abortions. Here's the evidence." by Candace Stewart.

Another thing that has come up in a few of my abortion conversations as recently as a week or two ago is the "fact" that abortion only accounts for 3% of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. This is a highly misleading figure, and if you just google "Planned Parenthood 3%," there are a few articles that debunk it just on the first page. Here is a video I found on YouTube that explains what's wrong with it: "Debunking Planned Parenthood's '3%' Abortion Myth."