Being Me

So you’re walking through a Macy’s or maybe it’s a Sear’s - not sure, didn’t bother to record the name of the store as you walked in.  They sell women’s clothes though and so you start counting - two people pass by on your left and they’re both women so you increment the female counter twice.  You try and catch something of their conversation as they go by - but it is in a different language, one you can’t identify.  What language is it?  Will you ever know or is this a mystery destined to be lost to time?

By their appearance they were Asian - that narrows it down, there aren’t too many countries in Asia you can name.  In terms of physical features they remind you of someone you met at a comic book store once, a man and his girlfriend - what were their names?  Trouble pronouncing the man’s name so he said it a couple times for you and you still wound up calling him JC.  It sounded like “Jow Chen Tow” maybe, you seem to recall he was from Vietnam, is that it?  Were those women Vietnamese?  Now the name strikes you as Chinese, note to self: look up ethnic origin for “Jow Chen Tow”.  How could you tell the difference?  It seems like Bayes theorem might apply here, what are the odds that two random people are Chinese versus Vietnamese?  Well, the population of China is 1.3 billion or thereabout, Vietnam is... what is the population of Vietnam?  Note to self: look up the population of Vietnam

Then two more walk by you, a man with his arm around his girlfriend.  Increment the male and female counters both.  Strange to think every individual you pass has their own life, struggle and story and almost all of them are entirely irrelevant to you.  Do they even exist?  Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument” makes itself known - not point by point, but just the general conclusion.  If this is a simulation then it’s easier to simulate a single person than it is to simulate a whole universe - Bostrom’s argument is compelling to you, compelling in the sense that you can’t figure out why it’s wrong so you conclude generally that it is probably right.  Are you a solipsist then?  No, of course not, someone else has to build the simulation - maybe, so you’re just alone in this universe, probably, but not alone in the actual parent universe that spawned this one.  Are people observing your progress through this universe?

Another woman walks by so you increment the appropriate counter.  You can see the store exit now, is it Macy’s?  Dillard’s maybe.  Time to start trying to figure out the ratio between men and women, 23 women and 9 men in total so it is... 2.88?  Why is it important to store the number as a ratio?  Well, it’s a compression of information instead of storing two numbers you’re  just storing one - but this is a simplification and not necessarily a valid one.  How does the brain store information?  What is the data type of a number like “2.88” or a number like “23”?  Maybe 2.88 is smaller because you don’t have to record “women” - there is a key somewhere else in your brain that knows the ratio is women to men because you like big numbers and an area with more women is better.  Hmm, maybe, but maybe isn’t really all that interesting a thing to say about a possibility.  Maybe the mantissa on 2.88 necessitates an inherently larger data type and maybe it is so much larger that you’re not actually compressing anything.  A brief fear strikes you that at one point you’ll run out of space in your mind because you’ve been storing too many things as ratios and then you won’t be able to learn any more and maybe that is why all old people are dumb and have trouble learning things!

That probably isn’t it though, actually memory recall seems to get worse as you get older and you can definitely forget stuff so you’re probably not in trouble on that front.   Note to self: try an experiment later to intentionally forget something.  Is it getting worse because there is so much stuff in there though?  Maybe recall isn’t actually getting worse, the recall algorithm is simply exponential or maybe linear and it can’t keep keep up with a growing number of memories.  Are old people worse at recalling things or does it just take longer for them to remember things?  Could we tell the difference?  What if the “remember” algorithm just errors out if has been searching for too long without finding something, so that your old brain will be cluttered with stupid memories that are recorded as floating point numbers instead of integers and when you try to look up something in memory the lookup times out and the “remember” just fails.  Then you call it forgetting because you lack the internal awareness of your own operation.  Note to self: Read about memory loss relating to aging.

What are numbers stored as in the brain anyway?  What is anything stored as?  Well, it sure seems like things are stored as words, that is, 2.88 is stored as the words TWO POINT EIGHT EIGHT and if this is the case then you’re storing four words where you might only have to store two - NINETEEN and NINE - err, wait, was it 19 women?  Well, anyway the point is still valid because it might have been 19 women and if it were then it would be better to store as two separate numbers because that is fewer words than 2.88 works out to be since 19 has the nice property of being stored as a single word.  

That isn’t quite right though, things aren’t stored as words otherwise it would be impossible to give them relevance, they must be stored as word-in-phrase objects that have some data - the word, but also they have a pointer to the next word-in-phrase object so that you’ll be able to stitch them together into something meaningful.  If that is true then it has dire implications for your storage method because now 2.88 has to be stored like this [TWO | NextWord] [EIGHT | NextWord] [Eight | NextWord] and that is compared to... well, no it really isn’t a bad implication for the storage method, all it means is that you have to be recording more information, but it isn’t disproportionately more storage for the ratio versus the hold two numbers approach.

Really the ratio is better because it is easier to compare it to ratios from other places and thereby say intelligent things about which areas are more likely to have women and women unaccompanied by men too - that should be a separate counter Note to self --

Wait, you notice you’re coming to the exit now, past those plastic pillars that detect theft.  You’ll walk around them, not because you’re stealing anything but because you’re curious to see what would happen if you were stealing something.  How effective could this method possibly be at preventing theft.  Like you expect, nobody says anything about walking around the security things - not even the store employee who is in sight.  What the hell?  Maybe they are omni-directional and would detect a product going by even if it didn’t go through? Or maybe people just don’t care much beyond throwing up an effort at stopping theft and just leaving it at that.  There is a TED talk tangentially related, something about types of errors and this type of error would be the “Not my problem” type.  That is, all of the store employees know that their theft prevention pillars are worthless since people can easily walk around them and often do without arousing suspicion but none of the store employees actually recognizes that it is his or her problem and so it never gets solved.

Well, that probably isn’t it - they probably have a fraud prevention officer at the store and it is that guy’s job to prevent theft and so this particular stupidity must be his problem.  Well, maybe not, the fraud prevention guy likely just has to keep theft at or below a certain rate and so a good fraud guy can keep that rate without taking the simple precaution of putting the theft prevention pillars in places where you can’t walk around them or the even simpler (though less effective) method of telling people to look suspiciously at people walking around the pillars!  So anyway, the good ones keep their job by doing the things that good fraud prevention people do - probably follow around black people and look at security cameras.  They probably never actually consider that the door security devices are their problems, maybe they were laid out by a floor manager or something and the security guy can’t supercede?  Who would have authority?  Does Worf (security) have the authority to override Diana Troi who is kind of like a designer (responsible for well being of crew)?  Well, it actually isn’t clear, no episodes are coming to mind where one of them orders the other about.  Note to self: Review command structure of the Enterprise.

Oh wow, you’re now going down the escalator behind what might be the hottest woman you’ve ever seen.  You cast your eyes upwards towards the heavens, signifying, if only to yourself, a sense of wonderment at what you might have done to propitiate the deity responsible for what you see while walking through a mall.  You spend a few seconds enjoying the view in front of you forgetting about your usual routine of staring down and imagining yourself falling.

She is by herself, you’re by yourself, you could approach her - right?  How would that work anyway?  It is frustrating because you think you should be attractive, at least on paper.  A quick review of your attributes combined with what you know from reading the OKCupid Blog goes like this:

  1. Taller than 6 feet which OKCupid says is a plus for attracting women
  2. Higher than average IQ - well, this might be braggadocio, surely everyone thinks they have higher than average IQ, but your performance on standardized tests seems to lend credence to your beliefs.  Anyway, if true, and it might be true, the OKCupid blog also calls this out as a positive.  Well, they didn’t say IQ but they measured the Flesch Kincaid reading level of men’s profiles and messages and related that to the likelihood that women would reply to those men and it turns out that higher reading level men were more likely to get replies.  Of course, reading level metrics are pure bullshit and can be arbitrarily increased by writing run on sentences or needlessly substituting polysyllabic words where monosyllabic ones would do.
  3. More than 100,000 dollars in annual income, another positive from OKC.
  4. Have an iPhone - this wasn’t specifically called out as a positive but people with photos taken from iPhones were more likely to get a reply than people with photos taken from any other device - so maybe...

Anyway, the frustrating part is, the four facts would ostensibly make you attractive to women, but you can’t just be like “Hi, the following facts about me are true and I’d like to have sex with you now”.  It seems irrational, women like sex right?  If the shoe were on the other foot and a woman came up to you and said “I have pale, smooth skin, large breasts and a healthy body weight - which are all traits you find attractive, would you like to fuck?” Then you’d say “Yes” right, what is the deal?

Well, there is probably a discrepancy in the weighting metric there, that is, your four traits are probably all positives, but they just aren’t HUGE positives.  Better would be to have the body of a physically attractive man.  How attractive are you though?  Note to self: Post image to /r/RateMe from a throwaway.  You could get in shape, exercise more, eat right, get contact lenses, shave your beard, a reasonable haircut, buy clothes from somewhere other than walmart, get a tan and - well, it is probably too much effort for a reward which isn’t really worth it.  Having to constantly struggle to not only be physically attractive but to also maintain a relationship with someone seems like monumental effort for the dubious reward of getting to have sex with an attractive person.  

You wonder what the woman in front of you would think if she could hear your thoughts.  Would she be impressed?  Perhaps your inner monologue would dazzle her and she’d fall in love with you once she was able to see past your exterior?  Maybe she would be shocked or embarrassed or annoyed though.  What if she was reading your thoughts right now!?  I’m going to shove this cunt off the escalator you think with maximum possible emphasis.  Hmm, no apparent reaction from the prospective mind reader.  Maybe she is good at concealing reactions, you are bad at interpreting them or she isn’t reading your mind. You think about killing her one more time to be sure.

What’s the deal with killing her?  Why would you go there and not a racist diatribe or something?  Secretly do you have a desire to kill attractive women?  Why would you?  Could there be an evolutionary reason for such a desire?  Wouldn’t evolution compel you to want to rape her instead of killing her?  Not necessarily, you think briefly of a paper you can’t name about a group of insects that were kept at a certain population level by scientists.  The scientists figured that after a number of generations the insects would evolve to breed at a stable replacement rate and be cooperative or evolve for group selection or something.  Instead, the insects had evolved to cannibalize young female insects outside of their own families.  So, maybe some part of your genetic code is noticing that it has been two years or more since you had sex has decided that you are in a position where your reproductive ability has been muted and your best bet to get out of it is to... No, killing her still wouldn’t be better than raping her in terms of evolutionary fitness.  Maybe in the ancestral environment being in a situation where you couldn’t breed implied living with a hostile tribe, the hostile tribe shares a minimum number of genes and is hostile towards people who share maximal numbers of genes with you so you should do your best to injure them by killing their fecund women even if you could rape one and have a low chance at viably impregnating her.

Feels like quite a reach there..  A psychosexual reason is more likely - you feel dominated by women in that women essentially get to control when you have sex and they haven’t been that generous lately and so your impulse is to rise against the oppression by violence!  Or maybe it -

Oh wait, got to hop off the escalator now.  Okay, time to turn to your left?  Right? - where were you going anyway?



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