My present understanding of the WoT, part 2

Filed under: Philosophia, Politikos — Jacob Welsh @ 09:00

Continued from part 1

In the envisioned society in which all parties one might want to do business with participate in the WoT, there are many ways to gather deeper information from it beyond merely what is said in the ratings; for instance, how well connected a subject is to the evaluator's own network, relative to how that subject ought to be connected based on his claimed history. Or one might draw completely different conclusions about the subject from what a rater claims, based on knowledge of the rater. To not be present in the WoT at all, once of a sufficient maturity to protect one's key, is to be an un-person, an outcast, perhaps even more so than today's "undocumented" or "stateless" persons.

Even in its present form, many of the benefits of the WoT are already available; it has enabled substantial volumes of online commerce, and indeed it serves as a kind of filter for people who are both sufficiently intelligent and aware to find out about it, and who seek to accept the burdens and reap the rewards of a world of personal responsibility. If the concept works as well as is claimed and participants use it diligently, along with the other elements of economy, then it's not a stretch to imagine WoT-society continuing to grow in wealth and power until it's the only game in town.


My present understanding of the WoT, part 1

Filed under: Philosophia, Politikos — Jacob Welsh @ 23:41

The Web of Trust (WoT) as conceived by Mircea Popescu is a set of concepts and practices for publishing and finding information pertinent to making trust decisions about people, or more generally, finding sources of such information for further exploration. "The WoT" can also refer to the mathematical, technological and human machinery implementing the concept in a given context.(i) Unlike the commonplace wishful-thinking based attempts at "reputation systems", it is understood not to provide mechanical answers to questions such as "is X trustworthy" (even when properly qualified as "for Y purpose"); trust exists in the people rather than in the tools, but the tools provide the structure for making one's own judgements.

The WoT is represented as a graph, with nodes being the public keys of the participants, corresponding to private keys generated by the individuals themselves; exclusive control of a private key is one's sole claim to identity in the WoT world. The edges of the graph represent the trust ratings between individuals, inbound and outbound, and consist of a sign (overall positive or negative trust), a number reflecting the rater's degree of certainty that the assessment will not change, and optional comment.

~ To be continued(ii) ~

  1. Presently: identity provided by the RSA cryptosystem as implemented in GPG, and a ratings database available through deedbot. [^]
  2. The installment style lately was assigned as an exercise in improving my abysmal writing speed by publishing whatever I can get out in one hour, with 300-word minimum target, spreading the pressure across smaller segments rather than allowing it be deferred. [^]


The road to Ossasepia, part 5

Filed under: Ego — Jacob Welsh @ 22:24

Continued from part 4.

My hesitation at this point came from three causes as far as I'm presently aware. For the first, there were my strongly independent tendencies that resisted the idea of taking up a harness to join someone else's team. I did not take these lightly, as I believed they had done well enough for me in many ways, from de-prioritizing the largely dull schoolwork of my late childhood years in favor of my own technical pursuits, to taking an interest in free-market economic theories over the objections of my family and undergraduate community, to getting out of the proverbial Mom's basement as soon as practical, to stepping down from a comfortable-enough suburban IT job to pursue my deeper interests in programming as well as Bitcoin, which I saw as one of those rare truly disruptive innovations, while trying out life in a foreign country. While I didn't manage to express or perhaps even quite understand this at the time, it was anticipated well enough:

diana_coman: if this is of the sort "I think I'm better off on my own" then it's quite easy to sort out too - set yourself a big goal and a deadline for it - e.g. "I'll make it to lordship on my own steam by April 2021 or I'll go on 1st of May 2021 on my knees to whoever will take me and do something useful with me"

It became clear to me that the "try my best and see what happens, on my own" approach was not going to get very far, at least given how far behind I was starting.

For the second cause, there was the question of Robinson. A day came where he definitively stated he'd be joining that evening. As darkness fell, I didn't see a join, and a phone call failed to connect, my imagination tended toward worst-case possibilities and I fired off some impassioned pleas by IRC. Sure enough he joined, and I had a prime situation to exercise that openness thing:

jfw: dorion: though we know it's but the first step, I'm proud of you for showing up here.
jfw: We've been stuck in some kind of a mutual encouragement yet avoidance-enablement pact.
jfw: I'd be witholding information not to say that I was crying like a little girl earlier, telling him over irc why he needs to join, and Now.
jfw: The neighbors are probably wondering who died; as far as I could tell it was gonna be either my 5-year best friends relationship with him, my potential relationships with ~everyone here, or a particularly stubborn bit of our own stupidity.

For the third, there was:

diana_coman: jfw: fwiw you seem to want rock-solid under your foot (and preferably a few hundred meters of it downwards too) before you even step anywhere; assuming that's true, it's like everything else, it comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, not a "wrong" or a "right" thing.
jfw: yes I am very much of a 'look before you leap' tendency.

On this count, remembering the imperative of asking any necessary questions, I had attempted to inquire into the philosophical foundations and nature of the Republic, but found I lacked the language or background to get very far with this; still, some pertinent principles had come out, including:

diana_coman: jfw: realise that there is no right/wrong thing by itself; it's only about doing whatever you do well or not.
diana_coman: jfw: for a core principle of mine (and I'd say not only mine but I don't really talk for others): focus on figuring things out for what they are rather than for what you'd want them to be/ find convenient to be
diana_coman: jfw: and at every juncture, choose the thing that needs to be done rather than your comfort

~ To be concluded ~

The road to Ossasepia, part 4

Filed under: Ego — Jacob Welsh @ 06:38

Continued from part 3.

My reading of the log proceeded, though slowly; at first I struggled even to keep up with the lively current discussions, nevermind the background, in my free hours between existing commitments. The Marquess would check up on me from time to time, causing me to pay more attention to what was going on in my head and report as best I could; then she'd help to interpret or give advice, and refine it as more detail came to light. The main things I recall helping were: to take a more focused approach to the reading in light of my own questions; to write down whatever distracting thoughts were stirred up and whatever doubts I had; and that some pressure is necessary to motivate oneself to do things efficiently.(i)

The days turned into weeks and my reading project progressed, yet while it was interesting enough, my decision wouldn't budge from a firm "I dunno!" Two other prospects applied and were accepted (one of which not even such a "young" hand at 41). Robinson became perplexed and offered encouragement: in his mind, I was going to apply, be accepted, and excel. I took the words to heart, though knew I could not substitute them for my own judgement and action. At the same time, it worried me that he had not yet joined the channel. He certainly seemed to have a busy schedule, but I wondered if it was partly a continuation of the past avoidance pattern, while at least my various avoidances were now in public view. It seemed to me that if one of us engaged but not the other, it could set us on diverging paths, not to mention making it harder to communicate what we were up to.

The Marquess also urged me to communicate more. I theorized that my trouble with openness might come from a subconscious and self-defeating effort to get people to like me along with a fear of making mistakes; I reminded myself that I didn't care what most people would think about me. She gave reassurance that this was a learning place where mistakes were unsurprising, but noted the importance of the response and the stupidity of hiding oneself from those whose opinions one values.

~ To be continued ~

  1. Note that YMMV with advice, as it's tailored to the individual; the channel is a multi-way interaction, not a self-help guide. Reading along can be a valuable start but is really not the same as being there. [^]


The road to Ossasepia, part 3

Filed under: Ego — Jacob Welsh @ 08:29

Continued from part 2.

It took some time to finish my GPG preparation (probably longer than I should have let it drag on, though there were a number of steps including hardware provisioning and process rehearsal); once ready, I asked lobbes for voice in #trilema to get the key registered.(i) He told me the new policy was in effect whereby noobs were to start out in the surrounding castles, so I dropped into the two that looked active: #asciilifeform and #ossasepia. At the time I was vaguely aware of the "Young Hands" project but hadn't really delved.

In what I'd soon recognize as her typical manner, the Marquess cut straight to the heart of the matter, asking what I wanted to get from being there and directing me to have a look around, ask any questions necessary and say if I wanted to submit to training. I attempted to establish expectations as to what this would mean; she suggested I read the full channel log and clarified that it was a general mentoring relationship, thus dependent on the individual's needs as she saw them and not any kind of prescribed program. No minimum or maximum, just bringing people up as high as they can go; no loopholes for protecting stupidity; and no monetary cost but a long-term commitment.

Worth noting is that I also contemplated inquiring with the Lord Admiral Stanislav Datskovskiy aka asciilifeform, whose works I was more familiar with, as to whether he would take an apprentice. I had often found his writings stimulating, his knowledge on a range of subjects as seen in lengthy discussions in the forum remarkable, and his technical outputs - at least the more polished ones - wonders to behold. A part of me was eager to talk and perhaps earn the privilege of working with him. The main trouble I perceived was that his blind spots and deficiencies, which had been criticized at various points, seemingly without resolution, were dangerously similar to my own.

~ To be continued ~

  1. It turned out you can do this by private message to deedbot. I encountered some difficulty in getting it to load the key from my own web server, for reasons still uncertain, worked around by using a deedbot paste. [^]


The road to Ossasepia, part 2

Filed under: Ego — Jacob Welsh @ 08:06

I had been observing the doings of the Republic from a distance but found myself faced with uncertainty and perhaps a little fear.(i) Meanwhile in my own affairs the "being an engineer" side of my mind, perhaps spurred on by having seen what it wanted to see in the engineering side of the Republic, was able to dig up plentiful problems to fix, supplying an arbitrarily tall pile of work with which to procrastinate while feeling productive, and at least some of the time bringing my novice management along for the ride. Thus I'd gotten myself stuck in a state of manaloning: not entirely isolated, to be sure, but missing the crucial upstream links of a network.

Eventually the dissonance of reading and talking privately yet not engaging became too great to ignore; besides, the lack of publication of my work was seen as hurting business prospects. I was vaguely aware of "the ratchet", whereby participation in the conversation was becoming increasingly difficult (not that it had ever looked easy), and I didn't know if I would make the cut, but Robinson and I resolved to give it our best shot. For my part I wasn't entirely clear how to go about this, but the general plan was: introduce myself; join in conversations as I was able; deploy the standard blogging infrastructure to have an adequate space of my own to publish things and receive feedback; make manageable commitments and keep them.

Following some welcoming words from Eric Benevides aka lobbes, a Lord who was stepping down due to his own struggles and working to rekindle his commitment against wasting away toward derealization, I began to correspond a bit through his blog comments. He soon pointed out that talking about TMSR is not enough to be part of it(ii) and inquired what I was up to, so I shared that I was working on generating a properly-secured GPG key (knowing this was to be the basis of my identity and therefore required for any sort of participation or voicing in channel), blog setup (knowing this would be required for pretty much anything else(iii)), and assorted probably over-engineered futzing with Bitcoin node synchronization.

~ To be continued ~

  1. In the pages of Trilema one will find rape, killing, pillage, burning, eating of babies, slavery, beatings, torture... a wide band view of reality, much as one's head might prefer to accomodate only a narrow one. [^]
  2. This advice, or more likely an incomplete recollection of it, may account for the somewhat abrupt and "doing"-oriented nature of my initial lines. [^]
  3. But as a note for prospective Young Hands, you may be able to piggy-back on someone else's blog system until growing your own legs, so don't think of this as a prerequisite for saying "hello". [^]


The road to Ossasepia, part 1

Filed under: Ego, Politikos — Jacob Welsh @ 07:55

Where to begin but at the beginning?

lobbes: welcome jfw here as well! lol. diana_coman this is Jacob Welsh (he's commented on a few things on Trilema and my own blog). I pointed him to your castle
jfw: A vast republic of many castles! I think I'll start here because my current quest is blogotronics, which has me digging into a MySQL build and I see diana_coman was wrestling with it in

It reads more like a middle, doesn't it? Though of course any beginning comes as the middle of some larger process. So what meaning lies in the strange words, or behind them? What were their causes, and what was to follow?

The Most Serene Republic in question is a nascent political structure(i) whose values, as far as I've determined, include knowledge, wealth, honest communication, fixing problems at the root, and generally the fostering of elite individuals; it stands in opposition to the dying system of supposed sovereigns built on telling the crowd whatever it wants to hear - meanwhile screwing it as hard as any monarch ever did - often referred to as "Our Democracy".

The Republic operates through a forum consisting of an IRC channel of record where those of sufficient standing converse in real time, and a web of blogs functioning as an ever-growing library. The "castles" are a relatively recent addition, essentially side channels where Lords can converse with whom they please, as the culture of the central channel, #trilema, has grown increasingly rigorous. "Ossasepia", then, is the word adopted by Her Ladyship the Marquess Eulora, Diana Coman, first for her blog and later castle, that being dedicated to growing young hands.

~ To be continued ~

  1. Or "cult" if you prefer, though at the moment it's starting to look more like a kind of learning club. [^]


Planned articles as of October 2019

Filed under: Ego, Software — Jacob Welsh @ 00:00

Now that I'm finally off the fence about applying (and yes, that's a relief), my work remains cut out for me in communicating who I am, which means, in large part, what I've done with myself. Having established what I stupidly chose not to do,(i) it's time to have a look at the other side of this coin. I'd better plan it, or it won't happen.

Exact publication sequence and schedule remain to be determined: not that I think this is unimportant, but further work is required in order to make promises I can keep here.

The technical

This is not intended to include every scribbling of code found on my shelves, nor items I haven't yet decided to release for public consumption.

The initial articles in this series will aim to present high-level summaries of the items as they exist currently, with draft sources attached lest I be hit by the proverbial falling piano. In time I certainly wish to move toward full source annotation and signed vpatches.

  • MP-WP patches: some smallish cleanups, fixes and additions currently running on this blog. (For a sneak preview, see the live V manifest).
  • MP-WP Q&A: lessons learned from my deployment efforts.
  • keksum: the Keccak hash function implemented in C as a standalone Unix utility.
  • Gales Linux: a cross-bootstrapped, do-it-yourself, fully-static, discriminatory Linux/musl/BusyBox distribution. Includes base configuration files and scripts, a documented build process, and a simple package system with small but practical ports collection.
    • Gales Linux patches: I produced a number of patches to both base components and ports; many are self-explanatory but some will warrant discussion.
    • gksh, the Gales Public Domain Korn Shell. After trying a number of "easier" options, I identified OpenBSD's pdksh fork as the most promising target for terraforming, read a portion of the code, ported it back to Linux, and made a series of cleanups and fixes they'd been neglecting.
    • musl libc research: a summary of mailing list activity from March - May 2016, then zooming out to a list of major changes in subsequent releases, 1.1.15 - 1.1.21.
  • The Real Bitcoin patches: a getrawtransaction implementation, and a much-simplified rewrite of the Makefiles for building on Gales.
  • TRB Q&A: data collected and lessons learned from my efforts in TRB building, configuration, sync, tuning and operation.
  • Gales Scheme: an anti-Thompsonistic, almost-R5RS-plus-extensions Scheme system for Unix, striving for simplicity, soundness, minimal artificial restrictions, and strict error checking.
  • Scheme library: R5RS is a famously lightweight language spec, which is partly why I like it but has the downside that various modern-day essentials need to be reinvented in order to get anything practical done.
    • pkg.scm, a basic package import/export mechanism.
    • critbit.scm, an implementation of djb's "crit-bit tree" data structure.
    • hashes.scm, an (IMHO) elegant albeit slow implementation of RIPEMD160, SHA1, SHA256, SHA512 and HMAC algorithms.
    • bit-ops.scm, the rather less elegant support code for bitwise operations in a specified width.
    • http.scm, an HTTP/1.0 client.
    • json.scm: JSON encoding, decoding and traversal.
  • Scheme integration: in order to ensure correctness, memory safety and some degree of portability in the core interpreter (which is currently written in C but wants to grow up into self-generated assembly, or possibly Ada, or silicon), inter-process communication via piped subprocess or socket has been my strategy for foreign codebase interfacing.
    • rsqlite, an RPC server interface for SQLite.
    • tlsproxy, an OpenSSL-based TLS client bridge, authenticating the server by explicit RSA public key.
    • wsproxy, a WebSocket client bridge, implementing the protocol's requisite bit-fiddling in C to provide a simplified protocol for high-level language clients.
  • Gales Bitcoin Wallet, an as-yet incomplete attempt at the old wallet air-gapping problem. Progress to date and remaining challenges will be addressed. I'm presently on the hook for getting this to some degree of usefulness by close of 2019.
  • yrc, a VT100 IRC client in Python 2.
  • StatMaps, a no-JS OpenStreetMap tile browser, partly as an exercise in server-side web programming in Scheme.

The not-strictly-technical(ii)

  • How I spend my time these days.
  • History. I'm not sure what I'll write here, but something to do with my value structure, where I came from and how I got to where I am would seem to be in order.

And that should about cover it for now!

  1. As the song goes, "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." [^]
  2. I was going to write "the personal", but it's not like the tech isn't a part of me too. [^]


On Submission, Guiding Perceptions, Vulnerability, Liberty, Socialism and Emacs

Filed under: Ego, Philosophia, Politikos, Software — Jacob Welsh @ 05:14

No, I'm afraid it's not a grand thesis uniting all of the above. Wouldn't that be something, though!

2019-10-10 14:38 UTC

shrysr: Hey there! Wanted to connect and say hi... your website looks cool :)
jfw: Hey, thanks. Some homespun html/css. The content is certainly aging though, I've got my blogging work cut out for me!

jfw: Your struggle is an inspiration. To think, just 3 months ago you had minimal idea about WoT and thought Cloudflare and HTTPS were things...
jfw: I do hope you'll make the time and commitment to keep at it; with diana_coman's guidance I expect you can go far.
jfw: Feel free to ask me questions on -- though surely there are others better qualified, still I've studied and hacked on it a bit.

jfw: For my part, I think I'm still hung up on the 'full submission to master' thing, even as I'm increasingly seeing the value/need - like, I'm necessarily blind to or unable to fix my own stupidities, otherwise I'd have fixed 'em already
jfw: If you have links from the July-September log on the topic, I'd appreciate.

shrysr: glad to hear from you. hmm.. tbh - i think the key is simply reducing friction. Emacs and org mode did that for me some years ago. i've essentially been writing easily 1000+ words a day but publishing almost nothing. even now - tbh - i think publishing intimate details for the wide world to know is a risk... particularly in an age where employers and etc look you up online. It's true to say non-tmsr perception is
shrysr: their problem and the truth is important - absolutely... but the fact is also that unless you are being paid by tmsr - its important to guide the perceptions of the outside world abt you for your own purpose. fwiw : i think if you observe very closely - this is practised by the so called lords themselves in #t. You can diss the non-tmsr world till you choke... but cannot live aloof from it.. nations trade with
shrysr: each other and make compromises every day... its really a dynamic balance imho.

shrysr: re: submission - What I would profer as advice is that...... it is totally worth taking your time and assessing very deeply. I will be honest in stating that I joined #o - to do projects... under guidance. I had no idea abt tmsr/diana etc at all. i.e I kindda went there to submit, without thinking much at all... i'm naive that way and instead put in safe guards in the background to protect maself. It's not
shrysr: efficient... but it helps me.. not become terribly biased and blind. imho ---- the logs provide explicit evidence of both good, bad, inconsistent things from everybody, lord /master /page-boi. Lets say you are blind to your stupidity - how will I (external person) know? --- when you communicate. As you continue to communicate - you'll see it takes time and energy, and beyond this... no amount of words... fully
shrysr: describe anything! it takes even more to find the right words. Lets say you pour out words that dont indicate your stupidity - then I being.. master or whatever crap am still inclined to say something.. being human - i'm not immune to My Own ego, faults and world view.... i gotta guide you ...somehow or what guide am i? But that guidance is based the words that come out from you +++ my understanding of
shrysr: those words. Now it gets murky if I have an underlying.. somewhat hidden motive of 'making you better, but also useful to me/the cause/ w/e', and if I am employed by somebody whose wordz I gotta listen to. .............>>>> what I'm trying to say is that.... guidance is there, but imho - many other things too, and you gotta be..clear abt what You want... and what you Don't want.
shrysr: sorry if i overstepped... it was with the intention to help. You prolly kno a lot more than me abt all this. I'm not bereft of stupidity myself - but I guess the above is not irrational. and they are based on... the logs. I guess i'm just saying that...stupidity set aside, not knowing your goals and needs... and submitting can easily mean you are catering to goals and needs enforced by another who does not truly
shrysr: know you.

shrysr: Re: V >> sure. as of now, i will be coming back to V and etc in christmas... I gotta learn some stuff to bridge the gap in my skills... for next job :) so sure.. will bombard you with questions then, dont worry :)

jfw: hmm, this strikes me as something of a jumble of halfway-developed thoughts; kind of a conversation with yourself rather than an attempt to communicate clearly with me. Not overstepping so much as stepping every which way, if that makes sense. I'd guess it comes from all that practice with writing kilowordz into journal and minimal outside feedback. Or perhaps feedback from people who are more
jfw: concerned about guiding your perception of them than about honesty!

jfw: I don't know that you need to be hard on yourself for not deciding things clearly upfront - what basis would you have had to decide?
jfw: For me and others who already had some clue of what's what, she put it more bluntly, e.g. with the Pageboy's Pledge.

jfw: One problem with trying to hide things about yourself, is that you end up surrounded by people who you need to hide things about yourself around.
jfw: As far as worrying about what employers think, on the one hand, you might be overestimating how much 'outsiders' will actually read. (asciilifeform said something to this effect, I couldn't find it just now.) If they have 'allergic reactions' to some bad words they stumbled on, there's usually a ready counterpoint. E.g., "these people call themselves terrorists!" - well there's a qntra where
jfw: terrorist action by the USG is documented in gorey detail.
jfw: And if they don't see reason... where exactly is the loss in not being allowed to submit to an unreasonable boss?
jfw: And on the other hand, the strategy is to become skilled / valuable enough that they're just not gonna care. Businesses really can't afford not to hire good people, just as you can't live without engaging them.(i)

jfw: As far as catering to goals/needs of others, I tend to believe that diana_coman really does mean "what you need, whether you see it or not". Sure, she's taking on noobs because she needs help in the long run, but the thing about TMSR is that - if you can bring yourself up to be good enough here, odds are you won't want to do anything else, any more than strictly necessary

shrysr: You can be surrounded by anything and still be whatever you wanna be if you know what that is. You can be 200% honest in a public chan while saying its important to choose who you are vulnerable to. Not all external feedback is worth listening to or even relevant. You identify your Own stupidity and while 'guidance' is great - its not an infallible 'god' who is providing the guidance. Re: overestimating - thats
shrysr: strange. How exactly can you predict somebody stumbling onto something or not? Why do people and businesses have to 'market' things, why is one tennet of the defunct pizarro 'social engineering'? It is to Guide perception. You can see evidence of that in the way the ISP negotiation is going on. THe point the matter is - one has to submit to a boss by definition and if you want to have your own way - you
shrysr: manipulate the situation/boss/whatever. Its not just 'technical skill', tis also about navigating the politics of a workplace.

jfw: "important to choose who you are vulnerable to. Not all external feedback is worth listening to" - certainly.
jfw: "How exactly can you predict somebody stumbling onto something or not?" - you cannot, nor what their reaction will be; kinda why "acting towards purposes" is a problem in general, as I understand it. (, which I'm due for a reread)(ii)
jfw: re 'social engineering', you could read about MPOE-PR for the canonical example.
jfw: e.g.

jfw: (mind if I publish the conversation at some point, btw?)
shrysr: nope i consider this convo personal. i liked your website and wanted to talk to you and know your thinking, and fwiw: all of this will anyway come out as long as I am in #o... as i have said - there are good points and bad, and I won't be leaving good things when i find em :)

shrysr: causes and purposes! nice point to bring up my man. the point is simple - if there is nothing for unwanted dicks to read about me - there is nothing to worry about.. there is No purpose. ... i'ma read the strategic superiority thing later - but you seem to not see - social engg by definition is dress up marketing. Ask any company - they will tell you they are being absolutely honest. You can even read abt this in
shrysr: the logs. You can call my thoughts half baked and stepping everywhere... but you can't evaluate anything without stepping everywhere and in fact you will see the same kind of thinking in the logs as well! Those are the 'good points' i was talking about.

jfw: re the first - cool, and perhaps in time we discover merit in the "bad points" too. To be clear, that's a "nope I don't mind" right? (Keeping things private is something of a cost, thus one isn't really entitled to expect it from others without cause; I just figure it's best to be explicit.)
shrysr: what exactly is that cost?
jfw: well for example, IRC is unencrypted, and let's say my client logs to an unencrypted disk. Am I now responsible for properly incinerating the disk before disposal? And what if it's in The Cloud? I gotta run a separate client now? Keep backups in a vault instead of on the desk? And on the other side there's a loss of benefit: it takes me however long it takes me to write here, on topics that will
jfw: surely come up again in some other context. I then have to repeat myself rather than just linking. Some stuff I said here would certainly be of interest to others interested in what I'm thinking - so now I gotta write a separate article to fill them in? And fwiw, I don't see anything "incriminating" that you've said here - as you say, it'll come up eventually
jfw: (and as usual, it's on trilema: )
shrysr: lol. No - i do not mind actually. ima already writing abt it maself anyway. and no therez nothing incriminating at all. and rofl : in case you Have read the logs - i've already admitted to a lotta things.
jfw: cool.

shrysr: btw: if its important to choose who you are vulnerable to - how does a public chan apply ?
shrysr: I can read MPOE-PR and all that - but i would rather observe at exactly whats actually happening.
jfw: It's more a matter of who you listen to & spend time on than who can read about it from the sidelines, I reckon. Like a blog: anyone can read, but only the owner can write.
jfw: And if any random passerby can write - that's a "vulnerability"!

shrysr: who you listen to and spend time on is certainly important. However, i think it is also ignorant to think that that public perception can have no detrimental impact whatsoever, or that it cannot be used against you if somebody wants to.
shrysr: btw the clock app on your site is nice. but org mode + ledger is prolly better :P
shrysr: okz. i better get to bed. ttyl. been wanting to connect since awhile.. nice talking to ya.
jfw: lolz, I don't believe I said "no detrimental impact whatsoever". There's costs and benefits; all I mean is you may be overestimating the costs, or underestimating the benefits, and sure, what the hell would I know. The fact that you need to breathe can be used against you too.
jfw: alright, later, and thanks for the chat.
jfw: I've improved the clock program btw, been stagnating on my todo list to clean up & publish. And yeah, I'm sure emacs is fine, I'm just not into the lifestyle.
jfw: heh, and it occurs to me I'm also arguing with my own reclusive/secretive tendencies here, and will likely have to continue doing so for a while.

shrysr: i'm curious to kno - how long you been following trilema, and whether you read books or w/e outside the logs?
shrysr: n whaddya mean by emacs lifestyle ?
jfw: Been lurking off and on since maybe 2015. In hindsight, I had the notion that I could apply the parts I liked or were convenient to me and ignore the rest -- this dissonance that TMSR was a buncha madmen that just magically happened to be saying smarter things about Bitcoin and computing than anyone else I'd come across. I wouldn't recommend this!
jfw: Not to say you can't take your time and think things through / ask questions.
jfw: Paper books I haven't been reading much these days; in theory I'm working on Don Quijote for learning Spanish, The Black Swan by Taleb, John Hull on options / derivatives, and Peter Drucker on management.(iii) In practice I haven't been putting in much time.

jfw: Emacs - it's a large program with 'ecosystem' of packages, wants you to make a large investment on learning and tweaking to your tastes and then use it for everything, as opposed to 'doing one thing well' 'Unix way'. It really wants to be its own operating system, indeed it was born as a component of Lisp environments as I understand.
jfw: I've used it at various points but it didn't stick, and I find the 'vim' commands more efficient and easier on the fingers once you've learned them.
jfw: I've even tried vim modes for emacs, lol, just not the same though.
jfw: I might be more interested in Emacs if it were based on a good Lisp like Scheme or CL and maintained by sane people rather than fungi. Maybe some day.
jfw: Do you read books?

jfw: Hmm, to be more precise, it wasn't so much that I thought them 'madmen'; more like ideological misalignment. In the early 2010's I became a pretty staunch libertarian, meaning I saw socialism as an evil on the basis that it was predicated on aggression - taking from productive people by force to feed the leeches. TMSR otoh is about elitism; it has no categorical ban on aggression but holds
jfw: socialism as an evil because it's predicated on the tempting but poisonous falsehood that people can be in any way equal.
jfw: I'd gotten stuck halfway out of the "Our Democracy USA #1 Land of the Free" indoctrination -- even to the point of fleeing the Zone -- but its last tendrils have been painful to cut.

shrysr: hmm. yea emacs has its deficiencies, as does any tool i guess. I got into emacs primarily for Org mode. [...] Finger pain some yes.. but it was okay when i switched ctrl <-> capslock and got a large ass thumb trackball mouse.

shrysr: Re: trilema /mad men / convenience: hmm... well in general - I would not discard anything out of inconvenience or because i dont understand, or even something I don't particularly give a shit about without a cursory consideration atleast. I don't view trilema et all as mad men; some initial cultural shock in a few places, which evaporated quickly, but myeah general ideological rigidity,(iv) narcissism,(v) elitism are my
shrysr: thoughts so far. Things I don't understand usually intrigue me. I reckon I tend to chew on 'troubling concepts' for a longggg time before concluding (if I have to conclude at all, which is an important consideration). imo every pov has pros and cons, and so I find it inefficient to conform to any contrived/historical pov/demarcation and rigidly subscribe to any 'ism' unless I reach the point where I see no holes
shrysr: in it (which I think atm is highly unlikely).(vi) I think combining different philosophies (and intelligence) are needed to extract what you want/need from the world and your particular situation. I'd rather be flexible in my evolution while striving to identify and hold on to values that matter (to me, and ones that reasonably dont harm, or preferably help society/environment etc(vii))... and also try to consciously and
shrysr: continuously re-evaluate whether such values.. are not illusions/non-sense (all of which ofc is not easy at all, but still imo the repeated empirical and somewhat painful approach has yielded some results over time). At any rate, I reckon policy making /thinking at the state or nation level cannot be deemed universally applicable at the individual level or atleast it cannot reliably hope to solve unique problems
shrysr: (as each individual is unique, and is dealing with different flavors of constraints in the least - if not quite different problems).

shrysr: Re: books, well I used to be what ppl call a bookworm, and still enjoy reading. Pretty much used to read anything I got my hands on, but curiously, would always forget the title and author even before finishing the book. Thankfully my observation is that the message is not lost and it seems what I manage to absorb meld together somehow churning away in the mess of my brain over time.(viii) [...] hohum one thing i like abt canada are the
shrysr: cool public libraries! but fuck me - i finally found work in a town with no working library lol; hopefully that will change in some months. Black swan I've read bits, and fooled by randomness a little more. Haven't read any finance book properly, though i have on my list intelligent investor by ben graham. Can rem reading - thinking fast and slow, blink, outliers.. finished 'kings of cocaine' nice i
shrysr: rem some names.. but yea - I guess i do read.

jfw: Emacs does have its champions in the forum, e.g. asciilifeform. I gather it benefits from deep study, not assuming the defaults are sane and working to make it your own
shrysr: oh yeah - emacs defaults are lol... the main strength is in the ability to customise. There are starter kits like emacs prelude which cut the learning curve significantly. I settled on the starter kit scimax ... the guy behind scimax is or was a prof at carnegie and quite responsive on github issues.. i enjoy corresponding with him.
shrysr: there are different philosophies really... some say its better to start with vanilla emacs and add customisations. thats actually what i did before choosing scimax... but i think its debatable. plenty you can get done with a starter kit faster.

  1. By "them" I meant outside-world businesses, or "heathens" as would be the term of art. [^]
  2. After the "reread" I'm pretty sure I hadn't in fact read it before. No wonder I was a bit fuzzy; I'd been second-handing it! [^]
  3. He wrote a whole bookshelf on the subject apparently; the one in question is Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. [^]
  4. I don't know that this is a bad thing. Would you fault the man who says "one plus one is two, always and unconditionally" for "mathematical rigidity"? Now, if he clings to a belief even in the face of clear disproof, that'd be stubbornness. [^]
  5. I don't think myself knowledgeable on this topic, but like "arrogance" it seems to hinge on whether the subject really is as great as he makes himself out to be. Which, yes, can be tough to decide if you aren't that great yourself. [^]
  6. Tempting perhaps, but eventually if you want to get anywhere you have to pick your team (and yes, you might pick wrong). [^]
  7. One problem here is that society/environment is not a singular interest: what's good for the fox is bad for the rabbit, except that no foxes at all is bad for the rabbits as a whole when they overgraze and so on. (Wait... do rabbits "graze" ?!) [^]
  8. This would be something to work on, because who wrote something is an important piece of metadata. Because, well, see above re: inequality. And vulnerability. And second-handing. [^]


Hello World

Filed under: Ego — Jacob Welsh @ 03:15

In the autumn of 2016,(i) just over three years ago, I made the strategic decision to see to it that my computers were to either work for me or else not work at all -- and preferably the first, seeing as how I'm rather fond of them. Knowing that this would be a long road, I further hoped to gain recognition, trust and perhaps even a livelihood for myself and associates on the basis of the knowledge and tools I would have to build on the quest.

I fear I have blundered in keeping too private, not working the blogging muscle or engaging with those I see as the leaders in the field, and other fields for that matter; namely, Bitcoin, The Most Serene Republic of ~. Even as I've sprinted and pulled well ahead of the crowd in matters of digital hygiene, this has come to some degree at the cost of not building the kind of relationships that could make the work sustainable, meaningful and useful beyond the walls of my own household. The causes of my complacency are a topic for another time, but for now I will curse my own stupidity and humbly ask for help to expose and correct my mistakes. If I have missed the steamboat, whether by youth, insufficiently exceptional intelligence, or accursed stupidity, then I will sail, or row, or swim if I have to.

On the business front, it's been a three-year income drought featuring multiple instances of hopes(ii) being raised then dashed to bits against the rocks. It was about the last chance I was willing to extend the project before depletion of reserves would force my hand entirely, but I can cautiously report that things are looking up as we(iii) have refined our offering into something we can realistically deliver now, identified potential clients who recognize they need it through the personal network, and closed deals. The upcoming months will be critical.

I recognize this is all a bit vague so far. I had in mind to illustrate my approach to computing by way of recounting my adventures in getting this blog online; or introduce some of the tech I've been working on; or discuss my status in considering submission to Diana Coman's mentorship if I can get it.(iv) I will still do these, but it's getting late and the muse has left my fingertips for now, so rather than agonizing (as has often been my experience with writing) or pursuing a false god of perfection that only serves to keep me useless, I will err on the side of publishing something rather than nothing and let the blog unfurl in time.

  1. I still try to think in terms of the Northern temperate seasons I grew up with, though here on the Pacific coast of Panama there's just the December through April of hot-and-mostly-sunny known as "verano" and the rest hot, humid and sometimes rainy. [^]
  2. Fortunately not skulls. [^]
  3. Robinson Dorion and I [^]
  4. Going on three weeks now, yikes. [^]
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