Links: Postmodernism for Rationalists, Alphabet-Heatmaps and Reality is still dead

🤔 Scott Alexander on Postmodernism: Postmodernism for Rationalists (my Attempt) – His last sentence is crucial, I'm always baffled that the hardest critics of the postmodern left are extremely postmodernist themselves:

Optimistically, postmodernism isn’t necessarily opposed to rationality: rationality says to believe what is true, and it’s true that people are often trying to manipulate us. Hopelessly optimistically, both groups are engaged in the same project of overcoming bias, just taking different perspectives. But pessimistically, there’s a risk that postmodernism collapses into people ignoring any facts they disagree with, arguing that facts are just mutable products of hostile power structures trying to perpetuate themselves.

And by 'pessimistically there’s a risk', I mean 'this has obviously been going on for decades'. Again, I’m not just complaining about lefty professors here. The guiding narrative of Breitbart – that Cultural Marxists have taken over society and are indoctrinating everyone with their own concepts and language in order to make it impossible to think outside their boxes – is postmodernist as hell.

☝️ Who killed reality? (It wasn’t Trump.) Can we bring it back?:

MAGAmericans have also imbibed a situational or ontological relativism that would impress the philosophy faculty at those coastal universities their grandkids will not be attending. They have grasped something important about the nature of reality in the 21st century — which is that reality isn’t important anymore. […]

One answer might be that human beings thrive on stories. We need myth. If you’re anything like me, when you get home from work you’ll flip on Hulu or Netflix to soak up some middlebrow moral parable aimed predominantly at people of your class and background. Another answer lies in Nietzsche’s central insight, which was more or less that all systems of thought are always power relations in disguise. That doesn’t mean that no such systems are better than others, or that there’s no such thing as objective reality. There are facts out there about how Kennedy was killed in 1963, and about how Trump was elected in 2016 — but we are never likely to know them for sure, or to agree about them.

Repeatedly hitting people over the head with a rolled-up newspaper, as if they were disobedient doggies, while telling them that Donald Trump is a liar and a fraud is pretty much the apex state of liberal self-parody. They know that. That’s why they like him.

🛠 Using a Heatmap to visualize the inner Information-Structure of an Alphabet: It seems to be the case, that the latin alphabet (font-typeface) consisting of letters 'a' to 'z' when rasterized and averaged into one letter, shows patterns formed from areas with alternating highs and lows in information-content. To expose these patterns one has to examine the alphabet in a special way - i. e. each letter has to be rasterized into pixels and then taken into account to form an averaged value of information conveyed by each and every subpixel (-position) of which the letter is composed. The resulting map is called the Information-Heatmap of the Alphabet.

🛠 Why the Information-Heatmap of an Alphabet reminds me of a QR-Code: To compute the "Information-Heatmap" of an Alphabet you calculate how much information is given by every single subpixel of an alphabet. To recap: information in the "Shannon-Weaver" sense is defined over probability of occurence of each letter. The more frequent a letter appears in a text, the less information is contained in it and a very rare letter yields more information than average. So to compute the information on pixel-level, you start with a pixel-by-pixel representation of every letter of the alphabet, i.e. a bitmap font.

🤡 Das Muster der Verschwörung: Die Eliten vergiften uns, Nazis wohnen in der hohlen Erde. Absurde Theorien, die sich aber immer rasanter verbreiten. Warum nur? Eine Aussteigerin aus der Szene erzählt.

🤔 Resistance to changes in grammar is futile, say researchers: Linguists say that random chance plays a bigger role than previously thought in the evolution of language – but also that ‘English is weird’.

🤔 We’ve Not Thought Through the Legal and Ethical Disruption of Augmented Reality: With recent product and SDK announcements by Apple and Facebook, we have officially entered the 2017 edition of the Augmented Reality hype cycle. Event news sites like the New York Times and Quartz have gotten into the game with their own apps.

🌊 Breaking the Waves — Real Life: Global warning maps and models make the process of change appear much neater and more controllable than it actually has been or will be.

📖 I'm actually pretty damn conservative regarding tech in education and this is why --> Online schooling: Who is harmed and who is helped?: Online students did substantially worse than students in the same face-to-face course: They earned lower grades, were less likely to succeed in subsequent courses, and more likely to drop out.

👁 Languagelog rebuffs the Dyslexia is an Eye-Condition-Study: Blue Cell Dyslexia: An article about dyslexia appeared last week in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society B (“The [British] Royal Society's flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the fast publication and worldwide dissemination of high-quality research”).

😈 2017: The Biggest Year in Horror History: This year, scary clowns, scary dolls and scary suburbanites have drawn audiences to the movies in droves. Even with two months remaining, 2017 has already become the biggest box office year ever for horror.

👹 On Horror, Heavy Metal, and Why We Love to Be Scared: I was eight years old when I first encountered the movie poster for It’s Alive hanging in the lobby of the local mall theater. The poster’s central visual element—in fact, its only visual element—is a small wicker bassinet perched in the darkness.

😈 The Inventions of Witches: John William Waterhouse, The Magic Circle, 1886. The inquisitors wanted something old from each witch they tortured—a Sabbath orgy or blood oath or cat demon or wolf-faced baby or some other verification of the stories they already believed.

🙃 Speaking Nonsense: Like the protagonists of jokes, philosophers earnestly go about business that we on the outside can see is absurd. But our laughter, if we’re honest, is a laughter of self-recognition.

🤑 ‘I Forgot My PIN’: An Epic Tale of Losing $30,000 in Bitcoin: In January 2016, I spent $3,000 to buy 7.4 bitcoins. At the time, it seemed an entirely worthwhile thing to do.