We are all Florida now


Over at the Miami Herald, there is an article about “Twenty life lessons to be learned from the Stormy Daniels/Donald Trump affair, as illuminated by the Wall Street Journal, Slate.com and, fittingly, InTouch Weekly magazine”. The author is…Carl Hiaasen. I read it, and it suddenly sunk in that this situation is exactly what would happen in a Hiaasen novel: bumbling, incompetent crooks, corruption at all levels of government, and now I expect a resolution that does not involve the wheels of justice grinding towards certainty, but chance and chaos terminating a series of coincidences.

I also think that maybe there is something to that “whole universe is a simulation” nonsense, if we’re willing to admit that it is coded as a tragic comic-opera spiced with absurdity.

Comments

  1. jrkrideau says

    I had not realised that Carl Hiaasen was not a gifted humourist and fiction writer until just recently. Carl Hiaasen as historian or chronicler of Florida is just starting to sink in.

    It does support the idea that Damascus, not Miam,i looks good for next year’s vacation.

  2. auntbenjy says

    Dang. Now I’m expecting Skink to dart out of the bushes to grab some roadkill for dinner.

  3. weylguy says

    About that whole universe is a simulation nonsense: God creates a universe, purposely populates it with sinners, then sacrifices his son to save them all. Today, 2.2 billion people believe this to be true. This is the real nonsense.

    Do we really think that future, highly-advanced human programmers equipped with computer power we can’t even dream of can’t create a simulated universe? What’s the fucking difference between that and God?

    A simulated universe neatly solves the age-old “Why is there evil and suffering” question. Answer: we’re just unimportant digital creations, no more relevant to their creator than the dope dealers and hookers today’s video game players casually blow away in Grand Theft Auto.

  4. unclefrogy says

    the idea that “life” is a simulation is just a little hard for me to swallow. It is funny and it has some internal logic but not for me and not for long. There are it appears to me at least two “things” here there is existence that science and rational exploration has revealed so far and existence the as described by culture and human thought without the consistent and rigorous testing.
    Like god that later existence exists only and primarily in the mind and does have results or effects in existence outside of the mind. That often results in an acute mismatch between the “actual” world and the one defined by culture. It also often results in some really absurd inconsistencies and contradictions so much so that we have developed whole genre of drama devoted to exploiting it for our entertainment and edification. The world of people is absofuckinlutely absurd and shows little sign of becoming any different any time soon.

  5. Dunc says

    bumbling, incompetent crooks, corruption at all levels of government, and now I expect a resolution that does not involve the wheels of justice grinding towards certainty, but chance and chaos terminating a series of coincidences.

    Otherwise known as “all of human history”…

  6. KG says

    Do we really think that future, highly-advanced human programmers equipped with computer power we can’t even dream of can’t create a simulated universe? – weylguy@4

    Such speculations only make sense if we assume we are not in a simulation. If we are, there’s absolutely no telling what might happen next – we could find ourselves facing conquest of the entire world by Andorra or intelligent earthworms, a return to feudalism, invasion by the Lizard people, a zombie apocalypse, sudden loss of resolution so everything looks like a 1980s video game… literally anything.

    They also, I’m inclined to think, only make sense to people who’ve never tried to design a simulation. I used to do it for a living. While more computer power is helpful, it hardly makes any impression on the real problems – those of getting the range and quality of data you need, deciding what to include, spedning months running your experiments and then finding you missed out a minus sign, meaning the results are total crap…

  7. Dunc says

    About that whole universe is a simulation nonsense: God creates a universe, purposely populates it with sinners, then sacrifices his son to save them all. Today, 2.2 billion people believe this to be true. This is the real nonsense.

    Do we really think that future, highly-advanced human programmers equipped with computer power we can’t even dream of can’t create a simulated universe? What’s the fucking difference between that and God?

    “Other people believe even more ridiculous things” is not a particularly convincing line of argument.

    Even if we grant the existence of “future, highly-advanced human programmers equipped with computer power we can’t even dream of”*, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. The biggest problem I have with the whole idea is simply this: what’s the point? What does simulating a universe at this level of detail get you? Am I supposed to believe that these hypothetical “future, highly-advanced human programmers equipped with computer power we can’t even dream of” are choosing to use that power to simulate endless permutations of shitty reality TV shows?

    * (The whole argument seems to be premised on the assumption that computing power grows without limit, which I am not at all convinced by. Everything else in the real world seems to run into scaling problems and diminishing returns at some point. As I like to argue, the way people project the recent history of computing out into the future is rather like somebody in the late 19th century looking at the development of the steam locomotive and projecting that they’ll break the sound barrier within 50 years.)

  8. aziraphale says

    Dunc @7, committing oneself to 50 years would indeed be silly. But the people in whose simulation we live are on a different timescale. They might have had billions of years to get it right (assuming they have). Also, they might not be human.

    I agree, “What’s the point?” is a good question.

  9. Dunc says

    aziraphale: I wasn’t committing anybody to 50 years. My point was that you can’t project the long-term future capability of a technology from the rate of its early development. The 50 years thing was just an example – look at the first few decades of the development of steam locomotives, plot their maximum speeds, project that curve to infinity, and (if you pick the right timeframe) you might find yourself making silly projections like “we’ll have supersonic steam locomotives by 1920!”.

    (I don’t know if you would, I haven’t tried this – it’s just an example of how silly it is to assume that the rate of development of a technology can be predicted in advance based on what’s happened so far. As the saying goes, “past performance is no guarantee of future results”.)

  10. jrkrideau says

    “we’ll have supersonic steam locomotives by 1920!”
    We did but they were suppressed by the automobile conspiracy led by Henry Ford and supported by the Rockefellers.

  11. anchor says

    The absudities of current affairs no doubt contributes to the sensation that its all a ‘simulation’, but there IS a ‘simulation’ of sorts being run – entirely in our heads with the inputs of conceptual models of reality and ‘belief systems’ planted there by cultural forces.

    It has very little to do with the universe outside of our heads, except that nature has evolved brains to run a variety of odd programs that attempt to cope with it. Its rather amazing that it works somewhat or at all.

  12. jaxkayaker says

    I saw Hiaasen give a talk many years ago now. Even then he was complaining that the news was so absurd, his imagination couldn’t keep up with it.

  13. says

    And now I’m having fantasies about feeding Trump and his minions to a gator…that always seemed to be the end of every Hiaasen villain.

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