blowin’ my mind

Here is a lit­tle online A.I. game of 20 ques­tions. You think of an object, and it tries to guess what your object is 20 ques­tions or less. I have played it twice, and some­how it picked the right answer out of the blue, I swear to god. I don’t know how it knew. Freakin’ my nog­gin. You have to try this crazy ride.

more to say on the viagra issue

We ought not to triv­i­al­ize the hor­ror of sex offens­es, but if Med­ic­aid (or any oth­er) gov­ern­ment agency is going to pay for med­ica­tions like Via­gra, I think we must ques­tion the rea­sons why we would want to deny them to sex offendors, and ask our­selves a cou­ple of questions:

1. Would Via­gra “facil­i­tate” sex­u­al crimes, and would the denial of Via­gra deter such crimes? Those in favor of deny­ing Via­gra to sex­u­al offend­ers seem to answer “yes” to both of these ques­tions, but I think that they deserve a much clos­er inspec­tion. Sug­gest­ed here, we may even ques­tion whether sex­u­al dys­func­tion may increase the like­li­hood of a sex­u­al assault (giv­en the frus­tra­tion psy­cho­log­i­cal trau­ma it may induce). I think it is impor­tant to bear in mind that sex offend­ers suf­fer from psy­cho­log­i­cal, not phys­i­cal issues, and we need to con­sid­er care­ful­ly the effects that sex­u­al dys­func­tion, and its treat­ment, would have on the psy­chol­o­gy of sex­u­al offenders.

2. I assume that this is sup­posed to apply to sex offend­ers that have already done their time. So, giv­en that they have served the req­ui­site num­ber of years in jail, either they have been ade­quate­ly pun­ished and reha­bil­i­tat­ed for their crime (and, I assume, treat­ed for what­ev­er psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders they suf­fer from), or they haven’t. If they have, then why con­tin­ue to pun­ish and/or try to deter fur­ther crimes? If they haven’t been ade­quate­ly pun­ished, treat­ed and reha­bil­i­tat­ed, then per­haps they ought to remain in jail, or be admit­ted in the cus­tody of psy­chol­o­gists (who are in a much bet­ter posi­tion to decide what kind of treat­ment for their sex­u­al dys­func­tion is appro­pri­ate for them).

In short, deny­ing them Via­gra is not nec­es­sary in the case where they have “paid their debt” and are now healthy enough to be out in the world, and is not suf­fi­cient in the con­trary case. Per­haps there is some­thing I’m not get­ting, but I fear that they have just missed the boat entire­ly on this. Here is the source news article.

Action Theory Links

Perus­ing the web, and found a host of inter­est­ing pages on action the­o­ry (most of this list was swiped from oth­er action the­o­ry links lists, but I have dis­tilled from them what I con­sid­ered to be the gems):

Action The­o­ry: Intro­duc­to­ry site which aims at pro­vid­ing resources for peo­ple inter­est­ed in action the­o­ry in phi­los­o­phy and cog­ni­tive science

Phi­los­o­phy of Action and Moral Psy­chol­o­gy Bibliography

Action The­o­ry Page main­tained by Andrei Buckar­eff: very exten­sive page that includes a col­lec­tion of recent essays & arti­cles, a list of links, and a list good grad­u­ate pro­grams spe­cial­iz­ing in action theory

The Gar­den of Fork­ing Paths: A blog devot­ed to Agency The­o­ry, includ­ing relat­ed issues in Phi­los­o­phy of Action, Moral Psy­chol­o­gy, Meta­physics and Ethics

Papers on Agency and Relat­ed Issues: a blog tan­gen­tial to The Gar­den of Fork­ing Paths

The Deter­min­ism and Free­dom Phi­los­o­phy Web­site: excel­lent and exten­sive site that includes impor­tant pieces cen­tral to the free will debate

Any oth­er sug­ges­tions for this list? Let me know!


In attempt to dis­cour­age my snack­ing on all things naughty in my house, I stashed some left­over gum­mi bears and snack Heath Bars in my freez­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this strat­e­gy was not a suc­cess­ful deter­rent: As it turns out, frozen gum­mi bears are sur­pris­ing­ly com­pelling (par­tic­u­lar­ly in this damnable heat). I prob­a­bly need not both­er describ­ing the scrump­tious­ness of a frozen Heath Bar.

Stu­pid deli­cious snacks. I need to think of a sneaki­er tac­tic with which to trick myself.


St. Marks TrailWent bik­ing in the off-road sec­tion of the St. Mark’s Trail today. While not as long as the main trail (which is 14 miles), and not chal­leng­ing by off-road stan­dards I’m sure, this one sure pooped me out (per­haps it did­n’t help that I got lost — twice — despite the fact I have a com­pass-bell on my hadle­bars). I want­ed to take pret­ty scenic pic­tures, but the trail did­n’t turn out to be ter­ri­bly scenic (just looked like all oth­er Flori­da woods do). A cou­ple of firsts: we spot­ted a cou­ple of fox squir­rels (huge bas­tards), and a tor­toise uri­nat­ed on me.


My friend JT emailed this link to me, out­lin­ing var­i­ous Advanced Sys­tems of Advanced Degrees. I thought I’d share this one here for your enjoyment:

Ter­mi­nal Grad­u­ate Paral­y­sis (TGP)
Indi­ca­tions: This chron­ic, debil­i­tat­ing, and some­times fatal con­di­tion rep­re­sents the most seri­ous and wide­spread of the many behav­ioral dis­or­ders fac­ing the grad­u­ate-stu­dent pop­u­la­tion. Symp­toms often appear in the fourth year of grad­u­ate study, though this can vary from dis­ci­pline to discipline.

Ear­ly signs are typ­i­cal­ly mild and there­fore eas­i­ly over­looked or ignored. These often include a sub­tle shift in media-con­sump­tion habits, from Nation­al Pub­lic Radio to South Park, and from pro­fes­sion­al jour­nals to extreme-makeover tele­vi­sion. More seri­ous symp­toms include com­pul­sive reti­tling of the dis­ser­ta­tion; a patho­log­i­cal over­in­vest­ment of time in TA-ing; a ten­den­cy to mis­place rou­tine­ly or oth­er­wise lose or oblit­er­ate thou­sands of hours of work as a result of alleged com­put­er fail­ures (clin­i­cians inves­ti­gat­ing these mishaps fre­quent­ly find sus­pi­cious­ly muti­lat­ed hard dri­ves). Advanced symp­toms include sub­stan­tial­ly impaired per­for­mance on all cog­ni­tive tasks; hyper­anx­i­ety and night sweats; bib­lio­pho­bia; com­ma-shift­ing mania; and a marked advis­er-avoid­ance response. At its most extreme, suf­fer­ers dis­play a deer-in-the-head­lights appear­ance; epis­te­mo­log­i­cal apha­sia (the con­vic­tion that one no longer knows any­thing); mor­bid feel­ings of lack of self-worth often accom­pa­nied by para­noiac delu­sions of vic­tim­iza­tion; a deep­en­ing of syn­tac­tic tor­pid­i­ty (the loss of the abil­i­ty to write clear­ly, sim­ply, and, ulti­mate­ly, at all); a resur­gence of teenage acne; even renewed thumb-suck­ing and bed-wet­ting. Fail­ure to File (F2F) rep­re­sents a par­tic­u­lar­ly heart­break­ing, and dim­ly under­stood, form of TGP, in which the suf­fer­er mys­te­ri­ous­ly dis­ap­pears on the eve of fil­ing the com­plet­ed dis­ser­ta­tion, or oth­er­wise inex­plic­a­bly decides to “tight­en” the argument.