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The Clash of One Way Clocks


Why do we write in one direction? Why do we speak in one direction? Are these byproducts of physical reality, a biological coping mechanism, or some form of societal decision to keep our minds and actions orderly? ^ftmvri

The great work of linguists in the 20th century taught us that language has an inherent computation to it.[1]

This raises an interesting set of questions about the computation of language: is audio itself linear (random universe noises)? Or is only language linear? Is perception due to how creatures experience time? If time followed different rules, would our command of language?

Tongue Twisters

Tongue Twisters[2] are a toy example of separate linear systems causing chaos in parallel.[3] The eye reads the tongue twister on the page (peter piper picked…), the brain shapes the lips and tongue to make the required shapes, and the ears listen to the sounds the mouth is producing (what am i saying?).

Each step requires a discrete amount of time. There is time required for sound waves to travel from your vocal chords and back into your ear feedback loop. There is time required to think a thought and activate the required neurons. There is time required for the eye to read characters and decipher them with the occipital complex and the fusiform gyrus.

The "distance" between the physical mouth shapes is longer than it takes for the brain to send the command to form the next syllable.

A tongue twister is a fun (and safe) way to have all of these different timers run into each other at high speed and crash.

So it would seem we're not just dealing with one linear perceiver, in fact, we're dealing with multiple, all of which operate at different speeds.[4]

Prediction and Bets

This raises a more impactful question than if Peter Piper did in fact pick those peppers. If our ability to predict has a "speed limit", and if it only predicts in one direction -- how can we be "sure" of anything? Are guesses and predictions simply the act of examining an external "line"[5] and using previous experience to determine where it might head?

In reality this line never goes backwards but may at any moment twist or turn.[6] How can we be sure that the line will move as we hope this time? How can we know that this time won't be different?[7]

In addition, we add the complication of multiple lines of reasoning happening concurrently. If one clock of reasoning is far behind another, do we get thread locked in the boxes of our own minds?

Do habits[8] simply mean that we have seen something before multiple times and expect a similar outcome? Is there any way to trust another person without past credential signaling on their part?[9]

Wouldn't you rather invest with a billionaire than a librarian at your local library?[10] But what if the billionaire made all their money from thievery and the line that reveals this fact lags behind another 5 years after you met the billionaire? Would that disqualify them as a business partner five years ago?

Is pattern matching a panacea for truth?

I'll leave you with this:

Turing also went further, showing that there were certain things that even the most powerful machine could not compute. In particular, he pointed out, no computer could predict its own behavior. Say you feed the machine a tape and come back to find that it’s been chugging along for twenty-four hours. Say it’s been chugging along for a week, or a year, or even ten years: read, write, left, right. There’s still an infinite supply of tape remaining, but is this thing ever going to write down, say, a O? Is it ever going to finish? There’s no way to tell, Turing showed, not in general. The “halting problem,” as it’s known, is hopeless. (Location 1269)

  1. for more on this, refer to the work of Noam Chomsky grammars

  2. 202301091332

  3. trying to time share multiple processes at once 202212212348

  4. 202301130109

  5. or multiple!!

  6. ^8750ma

  7. ^mynde0

  8. things that one can do subconsciously

  9. how does our prediction of their success in life change if they went to Harvard or have competed in the Olympics?

  10. 202301081728

Every Era Has Problems Caused by Its Own Technology -- How Will You Overcome Yours?

This Map of Content (MoC) proof of concept is an attempt to fulfill the output promise of the Zettelkasten: to leverage atomic notes to create novel, compelling and most importantly, remarkable ideas.
Due to the following being a proof of concept, I'm working on the overall framing of MoC essays. I would love any feedback as a comment/email!

In the 1960's the early computer era faced a dilemma. Computing was done by massive mainframes that took up entire buildings. To interface with the mainframe, a programmer would have to walk all the way across campus to submit a punch card and sometimes wait days for a result.

This slow interface was such a given, that businesses at the time were focused on the local problem of making punch cards faster, short-sightedly assuming that people wouldn't want to interface with their own machines and that this would stay the status quo forever.

The visionaries in the product planning department couldn’t see a significant market for computers and wanted to put the company’s resources where the real money was: developing better punch-card tabulators. (Location 2907)

However, the creative minds at Project MAC led by Robert Fano thought counter-intuitively. They realized that a central computing unit could quickly communicate with remote terminals and that these remote terminals wouldn't need to compute anything on their own.

Imagine you are at a restaurant with a single waiter -- the waiter can only service one table at a time. But if the waiter could move ridiculously fast (near the speed of light, let's say), to an individual it would seem like the waiter was always at their table.

In practice, this time sharing change allowed single core CPUs to tackle one task at a time, but move so fast as to be imperceptible to any individual programmer.

This was a creative solution to a problem through inversion. Instead of valuing the time of the mainframe, the time sharing model valued the time of the individuals using the computer. By using this value as a core premise, the technology of time-sharing was born.

To learn more about the creative solutions applied to the problem of computing in the 1960s, take a look at 202212212348.

Today, we have our own set of problems.

One problem is the issue of publishing online. Problems are encountered that prevent the intended look and feel of a blog post/video, either because we are pleb serf to some external business garden garden like Twitter, or lack the requisite skill or talent to build our dream platform ourselves.

Some of these problems are rooted in the technology of our era. There are technologies that are "given" in our era (HTML, JS, HTTP) for example. Those may or may not change in our lifetimes. However, similar to the problems of the 1960s, a counter-intuitive creative answer may be hiding right under the surface. By thinking creatively and using inversion, we can examine our problem in a new light.

What are you trying to accomplish? No, what are you really trying to accomplish?

With enough creativity, problems can not only be solved, but they can inspire other solutions to make something all together better.

To learn more about how I addressed the modern publishing landscape problem by building my own app and moving away from Obsidian Publish, take a look at 202301312143.

Both the problem of how to solve multi-user computing in the 1960s and the problem of publishing to the Internet in the 2020s share a common element in requiring consistent effort to solve the problem.

We often think that technology and innovation are a given, but this is never the case. Innovation is a slow grind, born of trial and error and consistency. This is also true in the gym. If you wish to gain strength, it's tempting to approach the activity with >100% energy/gusto. However, this can cause injury which removes you from any type of routine being built.

Let's try to apply the creativity above to our problem of working out. Assuming our goal is strength, we need to clarify what it means to be strong. Are we factoring age? Genetics?

To become strong, we need to replace desire with a concrete plan that takes into account the realities of the world vs. what we are trying to do. In fact, slow consistent workouts with lower than maximum energy expenditure can prevent soreness and injury, which leads to longer workout windows over monthly-annual periods, resulting in equal strength with lower risk.

By thinking creatively, we are able to create a non intuitive workout plan that is focused on stability and sustainability in long term strength goals.

Until some technology is created that allows humans to workout at 100% without risk of injury, using the technology we do have (progressive weights, bands/belts) along with creative time and effort management helps attain our workout goals.

To learn more about slow workouts, check out 202212292307.