Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   the seams in the simulation
Monday, May 6 2019
Today was a gorgeous spring day, with sun and highs at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and it happened to also be a day of filming on US 209 for that television show starring Mark Ruffalo. I didn't think about it until too late, or I would've taken Hurley Avenue to the Sawkill bypass and avoided the backup at the stoplight one faced when approaching Sawkill from the traffic circle.

At noon today, I drove to the Red Hook CVS (my best new retail discovery) mostly to look for tiny rubber bands, the kind teenagers from upper middle-class homes use with their orthodontia. I needed these to help remove a large (lima-bean-sized) skin tag from Ramona's belly. We'd tried putting loops of dental floss around the stalk of this skin tag, but had been unable to get them tight enough. So we were hoping to borrow a technique from my childhood, when my parents used to put rubber bands around the base of goat testicles as a means of castration (I know, yikes!). Unfortunately, though, this CVS didn't seem to carry any form of rubber band at all, not even the big kind used when sorting mail, sealing plastic bags, etc.

I'd hoped shooting that television show would have concluded by the end of the workday (as it had in the past), but as I approached the Sawkill exit on US 209 from the east, I saw a long, ominous backup of traffic. This led me to exit early on Enterprise and then attempt to get home through Kingston on Albany Avenue. This is the most straightforward option; one is hemmed in on the west edge of Kingston by Esopus Creeek and the relatively few number of bridges across it. That decision proved, however, to be mistake, as Albany Avenue was congested for its entire length all the way from Manor Avenue to "Interstate" 587. It was so congested, in fact, that when a traffic light turned green, it did not necessarily mean one could go because there might be stopped traffic in front of you in the intersection. I've never seen traffic this bad in Kingston, though I don't often drive this way during "rush hour," at least not while Mark Ruffalo has shut down Kingston's only four-lane bypass. It ended up taking me about 45 minutes to drive what is normally a 25 minute route.

After watching the long and harrowing fourth episode of this season's Game of Thrones (well, at least the dire wolf survived!), I participated briefly in a video conference Gretchen was having (using Facebook technology) with a nerdy couple in Taiwan. They were actually Americans, and she'd connected with them in hopes that they might housesit during one or more of several upcoming opportunities. Zny and talkative, they grabbed nearby hand puppets on several occasions to help illustrate stories they were telling. I tried not to smirk when she the female half of the couple told us that her doctoral thesis somehow related puppetry to free expression either in Taiwan specifically or in regimes generally where free expression isn't guaranteed. Since I wasn't adding much to the conversation, at some point I snuck off-camera and vanished. Minutes later, I'd successfully tested a cheap I2C servo controller attached to a Raspberry Pi Zero, so I figured I could go to bed on the conclusion of what now had been a productive day.

Since even before leaving for Costa Rica, most of the media I've been consuming on my headphones has been a series of YouTube clips. My interactions with YouTube (witting or otherwise) leads to occasional refreshing new topics in the programming. Over the weekend while I'd been struggling with that ABS ventilation pipe, for example, much of the programming had been PBS Space Time, a somewhat overly-technical (for me) exploration of recent developments in various forms of physics. My listening to that led today down a YouTube rabbit hole on the subject of whether or not we are living in a simulation (as opposed to a base reality). I'm familiar with this idea but had never spent much time considering it. The reality I am living in is extremely detailed and convincing, and even if it is a simulation, there would be no way to know. So I might as well live as if this experience I am having is completely real.
But the things I heard and/or watched this evening made a good case for the unlikelihood that I (and, for that matter, we) am/are in a base reality. If convincing simulations are possible at all, they probably constitute the vast bulk of all experiences, since they are a lot easier to produce (and massively easier to reproduce) than a base reality. The path to the view that our reality is a simulation starts with the assumption that technology advances to the point where it can run convincing reality simulations (which seems increasingly the case) and then applies the Copernican principle to show that it's highly unlikely that we just happen to find ourselves in the base (that is, non-simulated) reality given how rare they would then be.
There are indications in the fabric of reality that it could be simulated, such as the Fermi paradox ("Where are all the aliens?") and the grainy nature of the subatomic fabric, where nothing is smaller than a Planck length. Then there are the strange behaviors of entities at the quantum scale, where, for example, particles don't actually assume their complete nature until they're observed. This is similar to how a videogame renders objects: saving effort by not doing so until this is required by the presence of an observer within the simulation.
One question I haven't seen addressed in these YouTube videos about the simulation we might be living in: what are its limits? At what point in time or space did/does the simulation kick in? Has our entire Universe been simulated from the instant of the Big Bang (which itself seems like the kind of contrivance one would find in a simulation). Or are the "seams" between reality and the simulation closer? Could it be that the reality we are in hived off of an actual reality at some point in recent history? Maybe it did so only three days ago, and all my memories of a life history were simply copied from the state I was in then? It's easy to follow this idea to its solipsistic conclusion, imagining that I am the only one truly having a complete experience within this simulation, and that all the people and animals in here with me are only having enough of an experience for me to think that they are. Of course, to convincingly portray another creature, a simulated creature put into my simulation only for the purposes of providing an environmental detail would have to have something very close to its own experience.

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