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Issue 16: The Hammer's Hammer

For what is a hammer when everything really is a misshapen nail?

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Ye Olde Newsstand - Weekly Updates

Last week we discussed an enhanced definition for "problem" that reframes solutions and problems as states in a graph we can move between. With that as a basis, we can talk about the concept of universal tools.

Universal tools have the capacity to solve any type of problem by leveraging computation and creation. Universal tools tend to follow a few rules, which I discuss here:

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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

Biology Epistemology and Local Maxima

The parable of the cup and the quart applies here. There’s a quart of milk on the table—within your reach. But you’re holding a cup of milk in your hand and you’re afraid to let go of the cup in order to get the quart. (Location 811)


biological evolution often reaches ‘local maxima of fitness’. (Location 2797)
in an evolving species, the dominant strain in each generation differs only slightly from that in the previous generation. Nevertheless, scientific discovery is a gradual process too; it is just that, in science, all the gradualness, and nearly all the criticism and rejection of bad explanations, takes place inside the scientists’ minds. (Location 1977)
the intermediate explanations leading a scientist from one good explanation to the next need not be viable at all. The same is true of creative thought in general. This is the fundamental reason that explanatory ideas are able to escape from parochialism, while biological evolution, and rules of thumb, cannot. (Location 1982)

Vortex Ring State

The vortex ring state (VRS) is a dangerous aerodynamic condition that may arise in helicopter flight, when a vortex ring system engulfs the rotor, causing severe loss of lift. The vortex ring state is sometimes referred to as settling with power. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sees these terms as synonymous, whereas Transport Canada sees them as two different phenomena.2( (View Highlight)


Since the helicopter that had made the emergency landing was damaged and unable to fly the team out, it was destroyed to safeguard its classified equipment, including an apparent stealth capability.81( The pilot smashed the instrument panel, radio, and the other classified fixtures and the SEALs demolished the helicopter with explosives. (View Highlight)
Both the corpse and bin Laden were 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in); SEALs on the scene did not have a tape measure to measure the corpse, so a SEAL of known height lay down next to the body and the height was so approximated by comparison.88( Obama quipped: "You just blew up a $65 million helicopter and you don't have enough money to buy a tape measure? (View Highlight)

Lebron Didn't Warn Them About the Vortex Ring State Smh

"You know when I first got to Miami in 2011, I just had a strange feeling that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad Pakistan. I told Coach Spo and D Wade about it and they set up a meeting with Obama and we got it done #JustAKidFromAkron"

(View Tweet)

When Turbulence is a Good Thing

A vortex ring state sets in when the airflow around a helicopter's main rotor assumes a rotationally symmetrical form over the tips of the blades, supported by a laminar flow over the blade tips, and a countering upflow of air outside and away from the rotor. In this condition, the rotor falls into a new topological state of the surrounding flow field, induced by its own downwash, and suddenly loses lift. Since vortex rings are surprisingly stable fluid dynamical phenomena (a form of topological soliton), the best way to recover from them is to laterally steer clear of them, in order to re-establish lift, and to break them up using maximum engine power, in order to establish turbulence. (View Highlight)