Objective Truth vs My Truth

Objective Truth vs My Truth

It’s hard to believe The Matrix was released over 20 years ago (March 1999). Keanu Reeves encounters 3 teens who never saw the movie and he tries to explain it to them.

The teenage girl gives a response that reveals a lot about the idea of what truth is to many people today – and maybe why we are having so much trouble today with fake news. Do we even really care what the truth is if it makes us happy?

There is lots of self-styled experts and activists using the phrase ‘speaking your truth’ – especially for those who have experienced a trauma or unfair conditions. Unfortunately, like this blog writer/’thought leader’, he says this terrifying assertion when dealing with others:

Truth is not about being right. Truth is about how we feel and what is real for us.

He then goes on to say that even if you make mistakes and hurt others – as long as you’re speaking ‘your truth’ – this is ok. This is the most anti-science, anti-intellectual, and downright horrifyingly dangerous things I think anyone can say for several reasons. I understand where this blog writer, and many others are coming from. What if I can say this idea of ‘my truth’ is dangerously wrong but that we can completely validate people’s experiences, yet also not throw out truth everything depends on?

‘Your Truth’ is Anti-science and Anti-justice

Saying to ‘Speak your truth’ and ‘Truth is how we feel’ is profoundly anti-scientific and anti-justice. This idea says my impression is actual truth. It is a stance that ultimately denies we can understand or have any real impact in our world.

Justice in the world depends on determining actual facts of a case and then correcting wrongs. What if our courts were simply based on what anyone felt at any one time? Yet, this is exactly what is said by ‘Truth is about how we feel and what is real for us.’ Imagine what a court trial like that would look like.

Going further, all scientific thought as well as technological and medical progress depends on the idea that the universe operates by principles that are inherent in themselves – outside of our thoughts or feelings about them. Just ‘feeling’ that my car won’t run out of gas without refilling it, that time should stop spinning so I can sleep in an extra hour, or that eating grass should taste like pizza won’t make it so. In fact, that’s the kind of nonsense that children believe. Science and our very existence depends on the workings of everything from atoms, to electricity, to medicines we take, the safety of buildings, safe food cooking temperatures, to planetary orbits all follow provable and objective truths that exist outside ourselves. If any of those things depended on anyone’s feelings – then we’d be doomed. Unless of course you wish to admit to a God in whom the whole universe IS all held in place…

‘My truth’ also flatly denies decades of psychology and social science that proves there are objectively better and worse ways for we as individuals and society as a whole to act and behave. Science, government policy/laws, and TED talks are based on the notion that we CAN understand causes of problems and then can make changes and know they will solve them. There are great and proven ways to handle conflict, disagreements, addiction, violence, racism, and all manner of interactions we have with each other.

Worse, this logic of ‘my truth is truth’ can be used to control others. It tells others they cannot engage in reasoned discourse or argue. After all, my feelings tell me this is true – so it is true. Some holding this view go further and attack anyone that attempts to debate or talk about root causes or alternative ideas or interpretations. It’s a dangerous form of manipulation and gaslighting that invalidates anyone else’s viewpoint and makes mine the only true one.

Without real truth we can all agree on, this idea essentially makes us powerless to our feelings or even someone else’s feelings – which brings us to the next even more horrifying problem.

I justify what I do based on if I had my coffee this morning

If what is right and TRUE is simply what any individual feels – what if I am wrong? There is no recourse. You are completely justified in just about any amount of action as long as it matches my feelings. But what if you are wrong? It’s very easy to be wrong:

This really gets bad when we disagree. What happens when you make me angry? What happens when you wrong or hurt me? What if I’m angry enough to kill you? Or kill everyone like you? Everyone with that skin color, race, religion, political party, or where you’re from? We’ve had governments and people like this in the past. Without the ability to talk about the objective truth of our actions outside our personal feelings – we end up following cult-like leaders that massage and manipulate our feelings, purge anyone who asks questions or simply makes them disappearliterally.

Living like this, we become completely helpless to our feelings and those that know how to manipulate them. I firmly believe we are seeing that kind political leader on both ends of the political spectrum gaining traction. Unless we have a return to reasoned argument and turn away from outrage (which is a very powerful form of anti-intellectualism), we are headed to the same blunders that have brought about the horrors of 20th century wars and genocides. We need MORE people thinking and acting with their minds – not their feelings alone.

Your feelings are VALID. But not always TRUTH

Instead, what I wish people would say instead is that your feelings and perspectives are VALID but not necessarily TRUTH. And even if they are true, it doesn’t mean I should react in the same way in all cases. The first stages of being an adult is being able to name, claim, and own your feelings. Our feelings are real and valid – but they are only the IMPRESSION we have to what is going on. They alone are not truth. Anyone that has children or sees them interact understands they have lots of incorrect impressions and feelings about the world. What we teach children is to take the next step – using their mind to control their actions so it is fair and right for everyone. Even towards people they don’t like. Ultimately, saying that our feelings are truth is to act like a child. It’s anti-intellectual, it’s anti-science, it’s dangerous, and it’s wrong.

Instead, we can think of it another way and preserve both our feelings and our intellect. Just like a scientist, our feelings are like hypotheses. They seem to be pointing something out (this is fun, this food is delicious, this is unfair, this hurt me), but then we need to use our MIND to figure out if those impression are actually what’s going on. Further, we then need to think even harder about what we need to do about them. Science can absolutely help us with the second two parts – because even our social interactions have patterns for better/worse ways of behaving.

This is what makes us uniquely human. The fact we can use the wholeness of ourselves. We have feelings to help us empathize and connect with others, then a mind that we can use to figure out what is the best responses for us and others. Without that, we act like children – just reacting to our impressions and feelings. We become easily manipulated and lead astray by anyone that can appease our feelings or tell us what we want to hear.

Like Flannery O’Conner noted decades ago, “tenderness leads to the gas chambers”.

Tax filing software has been sending your income amounts to Facebook

Tax filing software has been sending your income amounts to Facebook

The Markup reports that tax filing services like H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer have been quietly sending their financial information to Facebook.

These services use Meta Pixel (also known as the Facebook retargeting pixel) – a snippet of code inserted into the back end of your website to track visitor activity. It works by loading a small library of functions which can use whenever a site visitor takes an action (called an event) that they want to track (called a conversion). Tracked conversions appear in the Ads Manager where they can be used to measure the effectiveness.

It turns out the information sent included users’ income, filing status, refund amounts, and other information. The team that found this behavior has a github repo that shows the actual data sent if you want the gory details.

Intuit’s TurboTax also uses Meta Pixel – but they do not appear to send financial information to Meta.

Just more reason to be very cautious about the tax software you use. As was noted over 10 years ago, if you’re not paying for it, YOU (or your personal data) ARE the product being sold (to someone else)

Manual Cinema

Manual Cinema

Manual Cinema does shadow puppet shows in Chicago. They do some amazing shows such as Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol and many others. They use combinations of puppetry and live acting. Here’s a video on how they produce some of their effects and shows.

Here’s another video of how they create their effects:

Here’s an example of what they can produce in a short film called Eighth Blackbird

Cars like the Subaru Crosstrek

Cars like the Subaru Crosstrek

I like my little Subaru Crosstrek. It’s the right amount of offroad utility and daily driver. I’ve taken it up to the mountains to go snowboarding, through rough forest roads and trails, as well as use it as my daily driver. My only grips are that it lacks in storage space and is pretty underpowered. The later is a fair tradeoff considering the MPG I get from it.

But I was surprised to learn how many other car makers are now trying to capture that same form factor. Enter cars like Nissan Kicks, Mazda CX-30, Honda HR-V, and others. Unfortunately, it looks like a fair number of them aren’t really good for off-road use. I guess I’ll stick with my affordable Crosstrek for now, but good to know there are other options. I hope they get better and give Subaru a run for their money.

Gobblerito!

Gobblerito!

Do you have lots of Thanksgiving leftovers? The Mad Mex in Pennsylvania is at it again with a Thanksgiving favorite: The Gobblerito. I made my own version last year with my Thanksgiving leftovers, and it was great. It looks like they have tweaked it a little by making them square and flat.

It seems like they’re still made of turkey, corn, black beans, stuffing, and the wrapped in a burrito and smothered with gravy with a dollop of cranberry. I can confirm they are Mmmm delicious!

No drives found when installing Windows 10 on new NVME drive.

No drives found when installing Windows 10 on new NVME drive.

I have a nice MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard with my shiny new Intel 12th gen i9-12900k processor. Recently, I tried to upgrade my 1TB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 with a 2TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2; but ran into a hitch. When I booted from the Windows 10 installation USB, the NVME drive would not show up in the list of drives for installation. Running Windows repair tools didn’t help.

The process I used was to first use the Windows installation media creator to make a bootable Windows 10 installation USB. Then, I turned off the PC and replaced my 1TB drive with the blank 2TB drive. When I booted off the USB device and tried to install Windows 10, Windows setup claimed it could not find any drives:

Hmmm. I tried running the installer repair tools – but it would give a unhelpful errors and no drives would appear. Even though I had 1 NVME drive and a standard old SATA drive as well.

I read around a bit and found something helpful from Majekk who also saw his NVME drives disappear.

This is probably because you have Intel Rapid Storage Technology enabled. If yes, I would suggest keep using it, because it will let you get as much performance as possible, from you NVMe drives, on Windows 11. You need to run W11 installer (with VMD enabled) and the load Intel drivers. It will make your M.2 drive appear in the Windows installer. https://download.msi.com/dvr_exe/mb/intel_rst_19.0.zip Remember that the drive will never be visible in BIOS when using VMD. It is normal.

If you rather don’t want to use VMD (not recommended) – disable the Intel Rapid Storage (or Intel RAID – don’t remember how it’s called in BIOS).

When I went into BIOS, I noticed VMD (RAID) was indeed enabled in my BIOS because I had a set of RAID 5 drives on my previous installation. For an experiment, I turned off VMD (RAID), booted from my Win10 USB install key and sure enough I could see my NVME and other drives during Windows installation. If I turned VMD back on, the drives would disappear.

So, the solution came from something I should have realized earlier. The Windows 10 installer (and apparently Windows 11) didn’t know about my fancy Z690 chipset and drivers – I needed to download and unzip the Intel Raid storage controller drivers on my Windows installation USB and then manually load those drivers at the drive selection page.

So, here’s the two solutions (but solution 1 is best)

Solution 1: with RAID support

  1. Create your USB Windows 10 install stick.
  2. Download and unzip the MSI Intel RAID storage controller drivers onto the USB stick you created in step 1. https://download.msi.com/dvr_exe/mb/intel_rst_19.0.zip
  3. Turn the system off and install the NVME M.2 drive
  4. Boot to BIOS, turn VMD (RAID) on
  5. Save BIOS settings and boot off the Win10 install USB stick
  6. When you get to the drive selection, there will be no drives. Click the ‘Load Driver’ button.
    • Browse to the USB stick, select the directory where you unzipped the Intel RST drivers. Be sure to point to the proper sub-directory with the floppy version of the driver files: <unzip root>\VMD\f6vmdflpy-x64\
    • You should see at least two Intel devices listed. You don’t need to select anything, just hit ok and Windows will load the drivers
  7. You’ll be returned to the drive selection page and you should see your NVME, RAID, and other drives listed!
  8. Pick the boot drive you want to install too, and hit OK.
  9. Windows 10 will install and you should boot normally after that. You should see all your drives – including any RAID sets you already had.
  10. Be sure to run Windows Update and download/install the latest Intel RAID drivers.

Solution 2: No RAID without complete reinstall

  1. Create the USB Windows 10 installation stick.
  2. Turn the system off and install the NVME M.2 drive.
  3. Boot into BIOS, and turn VMD (RAID) off
  4. Reboot from the windows installer USB stick.
  5. Install Windows like normal. Turning off VMD will let you see all your attached drives during the installation phase (all but any RAID drives) and install Win10 on any of them.
  6. You will not be able to use hardware RAID of your motherboard unless you completely re-install Windows. If you turn VMD/RAID on later, the system will ‘lose’ the NVME drive and refuse to boot. If you set it up with the RAID controllers, then the Windows bootloader apparently makes sure the drivers for the VMD device are always loaded. This is why it’s recommended to use solution 1, because it lets you use RAID later if you want.
Christmas Ghost Stories

Christmas Ghost Stories

The British have an intriguing history of telling ghost stories at Christmas. The most famous one is probably Dicken’s Christmas Carol with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future who haunt Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas eve. The immensely long running play Woman in Black starts with the protagonist Arthur Kipps being asked by his children to tell a ghost story on Christmas eve.

Here’s a collection of wonderfully 70’s era BBC productions of traditional ghost stories from the likes of MR James, Dickens, etc. They hardly classify as what we would considered horror today, but are a wonderful look back into what scared and intrigued people 100 years ago. I recommend listening to audiobook versions to give them a fair shake. They were originally designed to be told out loud compared to produced into plays (which often mess up pacing/lack description of the experienced horror of the characters).

You can find other productions like Mr. Humphrey’s and His Inheritance. Full of epic 70’s experimental theatrics and music:

Update: Here’s an even bigger collection of videos that includes everything above and more.

The Colonel’s Bequest

The Colonel’s Bequest

The Colonel’s Bequest is an old school graphical murder mystery adventure game made by Sierra in 1989. It features the budding sleuth and Tulane University student Laura Bow. She is invited by her flapper friend, Lillian, to spend a weekend at the decaying sugar plantation of Colonel Dijon. The reclusive and childless Colonel has gathered his quarrelsome relatives for a reading of his will. Tensions explode and the bickering leads to murder. You play Laura and try to solve the mystery as the body count goes up and up.

It is notoriously difficult the first few times you play because it uses a pseudo-realtime clock that advances whether you are ready or not. It’s tremendously easy to miss important details and key character interactions. The first time I played it, I barely knew what the heck was going on. It’s the sort of game that requires a lot of experimenting and replays to catch everything you need.

OneShortEye does a great job revealing some of the more esoteric things that happen in the game, secrets, bugs, as well as finds some interesting industry folks to talk about the game. He covers odds of certain events as well as issues created by emulators and the fact early cracks for the game broke the random number generator which caused the game to act incorrectly.

In revealing secrets – he looks at code and unpacked game resources. He uses information from The Sierra Chest. This site is a tremendous resource of archival and historical information about the creation of The Colonel’s Bequest – including original design documents. It also has information on other Sierra games. Definitely worth checking out.

I personally love this genre of murder mystery game and wish we had more games like this. The game itself sells itself as a murder mystery play in several acts. I think the industry has made many (even recent) attempts at murder mystery games over time, but I don’t think we’ve really figured out good mystery mechanisms that aren’t too difficult, esoteric, or capture links/events in a way that are fun. It’s an area I hope developers and designers keep exploring.

If you’d like to watch a full walkthrough of the game with many of these secrets shown and full score, I recommend Dilandau3000‘s walkthroughs. He does an excellent job – and his channel is full of great playthroughs of older classic games.