The queer musical wilderness

Every year I write an article sharing a list of music. Last year, the theme was “outsider” music, defined as music coming from outside the musical establishment. I remarked that the outsider genre seems to come from an earlier era, when such music was difficult to find. Today, anyone can self-publish their own music–and I speak from personal experience.

If I were to reformulate “outsider” music, I would dub it the musical wilderness, and it wouldn’t be a genre. Rather, it would be a way of exploring and discovering music without totally ignoring the long tail. It’s considered hipster to say “you’ve never heard of the music I like”, but there’s really nothing special about that–that’s literally just most music. The point is not to celebrate obscurity nor to scorn popularity, it’s just simple truth that if you’ve never listened to music nobody else has heard of, then you’re neglecting the vast majority of what’s out there.

To create this list, I searched the “queer” tag on Bandcamp, using the “surprise me!” setting. Why “queer”? Several reasons: a) an unconventional tag will is the quickest route to the wilderness, b) it doesn’t confine my list to any particular genre, c) if I’m going to highlight some random artists, might as well support queer artists, and d) aren’t you curious what kind of music an artist will choose to tag as queer?

[Read more…]

Risk neutrality in EA

Effective Altruism (EA) is a community focused on donating money to create the greatest good in the world. This is mostly (?) unobjectionable–but there’s problems. The EA community has a number of philosophical viewpoints that most external observers would consider absurd, and which materially affect their donating behavior.

In particular, many people in EA believe that the most efficient way to create the greatest good is by preventing extinction caused by AI. EA surveys suggest that about 18% of community members donate to “Long term & AI” causes, compared to 62% that donate for global health & development. Clearly concern about AI is not a unanimous viewpoint in EA, but you have to imagine the kind of community where everyone takes it seriously.

EA has been under the spotlight in current news because Sam Bankman-Fried–recently arrested for massive fraud at his cryptocurrency exchange FTX–was a vocal proponent of EA. More than a vocal proponent, he founded the FTX Future Fund, which committed $160M in charitable grants to various EA causes. At the top of Future Fund’s cause list? AI.

Although I’m critical of EA, I actually think it’s a bit unfair to pretend that they’re directly responsible for SBF’s fraudulent behavior. Instead I wanted to focus on some of SBF’s philosophical views, which are shared by at least some parts of the EA community. Specifically, let’s talk about the idea that charitable causes are risk-neutral.

[Read more…]

Game diary highlights

For the past two years, I’ve been writing short diary entries on games I’ve played or interacted with. These diary entries appear on my Pillowfort, where they’re honestly not very popular among readers.  But they’re popular among one very important reader–myself.

I will share my personal highlights from the diary–which is not to say my favorite games, but my favorite diary entries. Keep in mind that the purpose of these diary entries is not necessarily to review the games–and some of these games are so obscure that why would you particularly care if they’re good or bad? The best diary entries are ones that say something interesting even if you have no interest in the game–or else they’re just funny.

[Read more…]

Link Roundup: December 2022

If Professional Investors Missed this | Jeff Kaufman – Background: Last month, the cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed, because its founder Sam Bankman-Fried had apparently been dipping into customer funds.  Bankman-Fried had a lot of ties to the EA movement so I was curious what EA folks were saying about it.  EA is not happy about it, and in fact they are directly impacted, with many promised charity grants now gone.  There’s a question of whether EA ought to have seen the red flags, and the answer is maybe yes, maybe no.

From an external perspective, it looks like EA is being pretty naive about allowing billionaires to use their movement to launder their own reputations.  And Bankman-Fried should have been suspicious from the start, as a cryptogrifter who places a lot of focus on AI risk.  Perhaps it was impossible to foresee quite how far Bankman-Fried’s nefariousness extended, but it feels like this was a “reap what you sow” situation.

Penises, Privilege, and Feminist & LGBTQ+ Purity Politics | Julia Serano – Serano outlines a theory of how sex is seen as a contamination event, and describes its impact on bisexual and trans people.  I also appreciated the explanation of “cultural feminism”.

[Read more…]

Origami: Pleated leaf

Pleated leaf

Pleated leaf, designed by me, but likely a common design

At some point, I discovered the area of pleat tessellations, a technique popularized by origamist Goran Konjevod.  There are a bunch of things you can do with this technique, but I thought I’d show the simplest example I have.  This is something that you can fold at home, and experiment with your own variations.

To make this model, we start by folding the paper into 16 divisions both horizontally and vertically.  This is a common first step in many origami tessellations, so forgive me for just throwing it out there like it’s nothing.  For once, I’ll go into more depth about how to do that.

[Read more…]