Example of assimilating the Shadow in The Neverending Story

H/T Cleve:

Facing uncomfortable truths is as hard for NPCs as it is for disagreeable, high-openness aspergoids to act in such a way that NPCs will want them around. Understanding this will help you to be more patient with them. In fact, understanding which lends patience is a good definition for cognitive empathy.

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Needs, wants, predictable catastrophes

Some thoughts re: Career-related decisions

Step one is avoiding predictable catastrophes. Predictable failure modes ranked from worst to least bad, with the understanding that the less bad catastrophes often lead to the next (but it’s also possible to leap to worse outcomes):

  1. Suicide
  2. Hopelessness
  3. Moral degeneration
  4. Sexual abuse
  5. Malevolent psychiatric abuse
  6. Chronic physical abuse
  7. Criminal predation/ethnic cleansing
  8. Negligent psychiatric abuse
  9. Imprisonment, reeducation camp
  10. Acute illness
  11. Chronic illness
  12. Addiction, OCD, fixations
  13. Depression, chronic frustration
  14. Crime (as perpetrator)
  15. Economic isolation
  16. Chronic stress
  17. Social isolation
  18. Homelessness
  19. Grinding poverty
  20. Systemic economic slavery
  21. Lethargy
  22. Confusion
  23. Overspecialization
  24. Overextension, busyness
  25. Benevolent slavery

The difference between a life spent well and a life spent poorly is valuing things precisely and getting a good return on any tradeoffs. Therefore, I need to be very clear about what I value, and how much I value those things. As a rule of thumb, I measure my prosperity by the average amount of time I can sit and look at the grass each day for no reason.


  • Quality-adjusted years of life
  • Sleep
  • Health: Sleep, diet/hydration, lifting, cardio, alone time
  • God’s favor
  • Being around people I like
  • Working with people I like
  • Creative output

God’s favor can’t be priced and shouldn’t be spent, but the others can be treated as currencies to spend well as part of a better life. Currencies to balance:

  • Marginal hours of sleep I’d lose for X
  • Marginal stress score I’d endure (0-100 Garmin score) over Y days for X, call this the inverse of “energy”
  • Marginal days sick/low-quality I’d endure for X (sickness scored 0-4, perfect health to miserable and dying)
  • Money I’d spend for X
  • Hours of creative time I’d forego for X
  • Hours of curiosity drive I’d forego for X
  • Hours of free play time I’d forego for X

Anything that isn’t on that list I’d price in terms of them. Sex isn’t a need but if God’s favor weren’t a factor I’d pay up to $700 for sex with an HB10 the first time and up to $300 for sex with an HB7, etc. (less successively, in keeping with the law of marginal returns). I’d stay up all night to sleep with a 10 but at my old age I probably wouldn’t stay up all night for a 7. Got shit to do tomorrow.

Idealized currency levels (per day) such that any more would be marginal:

  • 9 hours of good sleep
  • Average stress score of 25 (with both spikes and valleys)
  • No sick/low-quality days
  • No spending, positive incoming
  • 4 hours of creative time
  • 3 hours of curiosity time
  • 2 hours of intense physical work
  • 2 hours of meditation and planning
  • 3 hours of exercise
  • 1 hour of free play
  • 2 hours of intimate human contact

Baseline currency levels for break-even maintenance:

  • 8 hours of good sleep per day
  • Average stress score of 50 (with both spikes and valleys)
  • 1 sick/low-quality day per week
  • 10% buffer in budget
  • 1 hour of creative time every two days
  • 1 hour of curiosity time every two days
  • 1 hour of intense physical work every two days
  • 0.5 hours of meditation and planning every two days
  • 1 hour of exercise
  • 1 hour of free play every three days
  • 2 hours of intimate human contact once per week

Maximum allowable short-term deficiencies before I’d expect to enter one of the predictable failure modes:

  • Sleep
    • 6 hours of sleep per day for up to six weeks
    • 4 hours of sleep per day for up to four days
    • 2 hours of sleep per day for up to two days
    • 1 sleepless night
  • Stress/energy
    • Stress of 60 for 2 months
    • Stress of 80 for 2 weeks
    • Stress of 100 for 2 days (i.e. Patton’s 48-hour rule)
  • Health
    • 3 sick/low-quality days per week for 4 months
    • Poor health for 4 weeks straight
  • Money
    • 0% buffer in budget for six months
    • 10% deficit for three months
    • 25% deficit for six weeks
    • 50% deficit for 3 weeks
  • Other
    • No creative outlets for a week
    • Nothing to sate curiosity drive for two weeks
    • No physical work (i.e. real work) for three weeks
    • No meditation or planning for three months
    • Completely sedentary lifestyle for six weeks
    • All work and no play for two months
  • Isolation
    • Zero intimate human contact for three years
    • Zero IRL human contact at all for one year (i.e. internet only)
    • Solitary confinement for three months
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Misanthropy is misandry

…with a bit of plausible deniability.

You may have noticed that white women have become increasingly insane in their advocacy for savages to do savage things. Compare the response to Philando Castile, an upstanding black man who legitimately dindu nuffin, to meth dealer George Floyd. This can’t be adequately explained by the greater susceptibility of slow life history strategists to the narratives pushed by spiteful mutants (although that plays a part). Similarly, being a woman is the best predictor of being a social justice warrior, above and beyond agreeableness, verbal IQ tilt, high disgust sensitivity (i.e. high neuroticsm, authoritarianism), etc.

The reason for this is that women have a reproductive interest in sowing disorder when they sense a lot of men in their ethnic population have lost the desire to reproduce. It’s a Xanatos gambit: they either get raped by high-libido savages and their genes get mixed into that adaptively superior race, or they score one of the few high-libido men remaining in their own race. For women, tearing down patriarchal civilization is win-win. This protects them from the all-too-likely threat of spending their entire reproductive strategy on a man whose genes have forgotten the principle of struggle. In effect, there’s nothing a woman’s vagina hates more than the penises of middle class men:


Struggle means a choice between being hungry or being in charge. Hence, women will use their political power to tear down the patriarchy that dared–dared, I say!–to give them political power, so that they only have to sleep with extremely religious peasants (e.g. black lives matter, Calvinists, Mohammedans) or Nietzschean feudal slave owners. They really don’t care about foreign invasions because only the men’s genes get wiped out, and if the men allowed that to happen they would deserve it anyway. As for me, I’m more of a “human zoo” kind of aristocrat, but if k-selection and dysgenics have produced such binary thinking retards that they’ll only give me the choice between enslaving people and going extinct, then I’ll source chains in bulk and lose no sleep over it.

Eve took the apple, and if Adam wants to be in charge he has to take responsibility for things that aren’t his fault. That’s how being in charge works. It means being on the hook for the results that happen under your charge, full stop. The only unforgivable sin a leader can commit is weakness. If God lost the battle with Satan, we wouldn’t care about his ideas of morality anymore. There’s literally no reason to be good to normies other than serving God. They don’t deserve shit from me. So I treat them better than they deserve without expecting appreciation. The hard limit on benevolent leadership is morality because immoral people will always tear nice things to pieces, it’s just logistically impossible to be genteel with people who aren’t good. If people want better leadership, they have to choose between being better followers or becoming the leaders they want to have and carrying the ingrates on their backs themselves. If they choose neither, then they’ll be ruled by the worst man in the room, and it won’t bother me because I have enough to worry about herding my own NPCs.

I’d rather be nice to you people but this isn’t a negotiation. Reasoning with children is a category error. Any ghetto nigger can tell you acting right is about respect and respect is about consequences. You will always have the leader your morality deserves.

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On cannibalism – We eat what we worship

People tend to take metaphorical things literally when they’re too big and abstract to comprehend. This example is “You are what you eat.” Therefore, you can always tell a person’s values from their diet:

People who worship Christ take communion.
Romantics (who worship the virtues of youth) eat children.
People who worship product consume product.
People who worship “humanity” consume humanity.
People who worship white supremacy eat white supremacy.
People who worship money eat the rich.
People who worship dick eat dick. Literally, in extreme cases (ref. Haidt’s consensual cannibalism story).
People who worship pussy eat so much pussy they get throat cancer.
Slaves eat away at their masters.
The dead eat the living.
The weak eat their heroes.
Hypocrites eat authenticity.
HR departments eat the best workers.
Corporations eat their marginal gains, their founders’ dreams, and human motive forces. A triple threat!
Postmodernists eat the weak.
The damned eat their saviors.

The idea goes on like this for some time. Generally, people become more literal as they purity spiral away from realism into greater idealism. As the intensity of need increases they go from mere vampiricism to cannibalism proper. You can read a person’s values from the results of their actions over time–if everything they produce over a lifetime ultimately results in eating children (e.g. education, Silicon Valley), then you know deep, deep down they’re romantics.

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On Star Wars, in brief

The thesis is “The way of the warrior has changed. In the future, influence is the most important weapon. The spirit of war hasn’t changed, but it has to be expressed through the weapons of financial and status competition rather than with swords.”

You can track this by the associations between Luke’s magic swords and his maturity in “the Force”, which is a stand-in for influence. There’s a lot of “law of attraction” mixed in to the Force, but generally it’s about perception management like magic usually is.

1) Obi Wan gives him the first lightsaber at the same time as the Force 101 tutorial.
2)After Luke falls into Hell at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, he comes back from his long night of the soul with a different-color lightsaber and masterful Force powers.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the media organ is mightier than the pen, and the maymay is mightier still. The less effort on the part of the perceiving audience, the stronger the propaganda. Who wants to watch a five-minute fake news clip when you can get half the story in a funny image made by an optics cuck?

“In my opinion, the purest expression of will-to-power is those Murdoch Murdoch cartoons. I fuckin love that show. It always makes my dick so fuckin hard.” -Yoda

The lightsaber colors match my initial thoughts on color aesthetics too:
Blue = Ideals
Green = Holism
Red = Desire, passion

It’s sort of corny that Star Wars would be about The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, but on the other hand it explains why it was the perfect myth to encapsulate American idealism. It was popular everywhere because in 1977, America seemed like an excellent idea. Less so perhaps with 2020 hindsight.

Mind over matter was the idea, but it turns out matter has a mind of its own.

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Blog stats

aiaslives says:
July 1, 2020 at 7:16 am (Edit)

What if it’s yooropean, though?

Also please release blog stats

Aeoli Pera says:
July 1, 2020 at 10:43 am (Edit)

Which stats? Is there a WordPress button in particular you’re thinking of? Keep in mind I’m a tech Boomer so I barely know how to use the dashboard.

aiaslives says:
July 1, 2020 at 11:07 am (Edit)

My Site > Stats > Insights > Annual Site Stats and All-time posts, views, and visitors

As requested:

2020-07-01 12_54_16-Stats and Insights ‹ Aeoli Pera — WordPress.com - Pale Moon

2020-07-01 12_54_43-Stats and Insights ‹ Aeoli Pera — WordPress.com - Pale Moon

Keep in mind, this isn’t my first blog. I’ve been blogging since I was 12 (I’d argue nothing of value was lost).

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Personal credibility appraisal

Some thoughts about work-related stuff.

1. What specific expertise do I have? What am I really good at? What do I do so effortlessly that I don’t even realize it’s a *big deal*?

I’m extremely good at getting important information out of computer systems. Often, I can do in a few seconds what 99% of people can’t do at all. Examples: Finding documents and data in corporate systems and my own files and e-mail, finding important data in web searches (and web scraping), manipulating and analyzing data in Excel sheets, and finding and curating the most clarifying information for extremely complex problems (books, summaries, Sharepoint presentations, articles, forum postings, infographics).

I’m extremely good at understanding what drives people, how they see themselves, how they want to be seen by others, what value propositions drive their working behavior, and what they and I and others understand in common and understand separately. However, this is a System 3 talent (System 2 rationalization of aesthetic counterfactuals from introverted intuition) and only works when I’m in endogenous, intrinsically motivated, ADHD-I mode or otherwise in a very high-energy state. (I.e. It can’t be monetized reliably.)

I’m extremely good at understanding complex systems and processes and explaining them in engaging and accessible ways. However, this is a long-wave System 2 talent, not a short-wave System 1 talent (i.e. can’t be monetized hour-to-hour, would have to be week-to-week).

I’m quickly becoming excellent at estimating but unfortunately this is a skill that relies heavily on industry knowledge for application and it’s very rare for me to be interested in the sorts of things people pay for.

2. When I worked inside a company what problems did I solve for my employer? What were the business ramifications of these problems?

I assembled a library of material to fill in massive educational gaps for understanding an extremely complex business environment that management foolishly considered so primitivistically simple it wouldn’t even require conscious thought. The business ramification of that problem was turnover, where I’d estimate solving that problem would reduce turnover from 25% per year to 10% per year.

I found ways to turn computer systems implemented for extensive, intrusive employee surveillance that were destroying productivity into useful research tools for the employees to use themselves to do their jobs better. The business ramification of that problem was also turnover, where I’d estimate solving that problem would reduce turnover from 25% per year to 20% per year.

I helped several coworkers with their computer work, ranging from the extremely tedious (which allow me to enjoy audiobooks and podcasts) to the extremely complicated (a few of my solutions were downright ingenius under the hood) to work merely requiring computer fluency and an organized workflow to complete them in a practical timeframe. Probably my biggest accomplishments here were 1) to enable support (our competitive edge) and therefore retain business at two large existing customers and 2) to enable the completion of a global contract at another large customer. The former work was probably worth about 10 million dollars’ worth of revenue (approximately $1.6 million profit) and the latter work was probably worth about 200 million dollars’ worth of revenue ($32 million profit).

I discovered a few technical issues at end users and responded quickly to them, which helped our brand loyalty among them by about 5% (where total opinion is the sum of personnel times each individual’s influence). Since the opinions of end users have about a 20% influence on buying decisions (where corporate’s opinion has risen to 40% influence and builders’ opinions have remained at 30%, 10% other), and that continued business stream is worth about $10 million per year in revenue ($1.6 million per year in profit), this work was worth approximately 0.05 * 0.20 * $10 million per year = $100k per year revenue ($16k profit).

Since only the latter category was a KPI for my job, and the profit was well under the total cost of keeping me on (approximately $200k/yr with all benefits and admin), they’ve basically been threatening to fire me once per month for the last two years. But when I tried to quit, they talked me into staying on. KPIs can be funny that way. There’s value and there’s metrics, and people who are full of shit (this tracks with narcissism, which my new estimating powers say means everyone) sometimes have trouble telling the difference.

3. How would I describe the demographics, psychographics, and enabling conditions of the last organization in which I made an impact?

I’ll restrict this mostly to the people I actually made an impact with, since my work and I tend to be polarizing.

Demographics: Old, white, male, IQs averaging 120 with analytical tilt (125 analytical, 120 visual, 115 verbal), high extraversion, moderately high disagreeableness and conscientiousness, average openness, moderately low neuroticism.

Psychographics: History of maverick gitterdun culture hanging on by a thread in the face of corporate overreach, power consolidation, and outright flexing. This was probably a unique moment in time where the company had already succeeded enough to afford a support role and was not yet too degenerated in this traditionally maverick area to pay for one, even if the job wasn’t technically in the budget.

Enabling conditions: The aging workforce created a huge demand for my computer skills. Turnover was a huge issue, and if there hadn’t been a problem, the solutions wouldn’t have been necessary. The overwhelming emphasis on increasing headcount at all costs probably saved my job a thousand times over. The strategic imperative to prefer new business over old business really stretched the limits of my research skills.

Basically in a sane universe I would have been a researcher in every possible timeline. But what business has taught me is that nobody wants realistic answers unless they’re personally hurting and people who are personally hurting tend to have no purchasing power. What people will pay for, AFAICT, is to increase the insulation between their niche in the social pyramid and the world’s problems, or to break down someone else’s insulation in the hopes of eliminating a reproductive competitor. To wit, the money is in escapism and anarchotyranny (and the combination: scapegoating). Apparently, narcissists see reality as a gaping maw whose only utility is throwing other people into it. This is probably why I get so irritated at people who think truth is a one-edged sword, when Ephesians says the sword is “the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Truth was the belt (which is extremely funny in retrospect, having gotten a few tastes of reality in the past), and the Spirit is a double-edged sword, not a single-edged (Hebrews 4:12).

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I can’t say whether this is legit, just FYI:

Incoming Mass Doxxing

I have a close friend in the tech industry who has also infiltrated antifa, blm, and chaz. According to him The reddit, YouTube, Twitter and every other ban is a plan to force anyone slightly right leaning onto one website (4chan) then mass doxx every poster to the world in an attempt to crush all opposition online once and for all, stay safe and delete any social media post history that may affect your jobs or families livelihoods, they hate you and are coming for everything you care about.

The doxxing is planned for 27/7/2020, cover your conservative asses while you still can.


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Blockheads: Why, people?

I didn’t make this comic:

I made this

Black people made that comic in Africa and I done stole it.

I did, however, make this:


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First thoughts on a universal mechanical language; Or, an introduction to machines for the conceptually inclined lady or gentleman

Ed: The terms in this little essay are made-up or reverse-engineered, so they aren’t the official terms used in machine design. I’m not an engineer. This is the introduction that I would like to have read years ago but have been unable to find despite searching. A good book with better information likely exists somewhere out there among the billions of books, and I’d love to hear about it if you’ve found it.


The main reason we’re seeing a loss of proficiency in engineering and the trades is the dominance of anti-logical attitudes toward learning about them. The prevailing attitude is that one either “just gets” how machines work or “just doesn’t get” it. I.e. There are natural pick-up artists, and everyone else should resign themselves to involuntary celibacy. A similar attitude can be seen in music, where people assume that real musicians just pick up instruments and figure them out naturally.

This has been the common perception for math for at leat my entire life

It comes from an antipathy toward people who show EFFORT. Low-effort humans discourage effort in others and promote narratives of low-effort successes and tear down high-effort practice regimens. When they see obsessive practice, they ascribe it to a sort of possession. This, they understand, would be a form of low effort since it entails “simply letting go” and letting the possessing spirit have its way with you. This is mostly nonsense.

Understanding machines has more in common with syllogisms and computer programming than it does with artistic composition. It is actually about as easy as syllogisms and a great deal easier than computer programming. But you have to have a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts, which as far as I can tell are no longer taught (since it’s assumed these are understood by instinct, or not at all). This has led to verbally inclined people fleeing from what was once thought of (by the Victorians) as a profession for natural philosophers and intellectuals. Enough ranting, on to the fundamentals.

1) Machines are designed beginning with the counterfactual and working backwards.

E.g. “I want to apply 5,000 pounds of force to punch a 1/4-inch hole in a 1/2-inch steel plate.” Everything else in a machine is just enabling the final action of punching the hole. That could be motors, power supplies, compressed air filters, all kinds of things that only exist to enable the machine to do the one, particular thing it exists to do.

2) Machine operations are designed as step-by-step verbal descriptions first.

-The operator pushes a button.
-The button has a piece of wire under it that, when pushed connects to pieces of wire on either side.
-That completes a circuit which connects a battery, a light bulb, and the button in series.
-Current is then allowed to flow through the button to the lightbulb and back to the battery.
-As the current enters the lightbulb it experiences resistance trying to pass through the filament. The filament heats up.
-The heated filament glows, producing light.

You can continue this process of describing what causes what forever if you want. Usually the description only goes deep enough for the practical purpose of the designer clearly understanding how the machine will work enough to calculate the lowest necessary specifications and build it.

3) Just as programs are typically written in high-level languages like Python, not in binary, machines are usually made from pre-made components that have specific functions.

And when we say “function” we mean like in pre-calculus as something that has inputs that produce predictable outputs. It may help to remember that functions are sometimes called “transformations”. The purpose of a component is to transform an input into the desired output. For example, a bike pump transforms your pushing motion into compressed air. If what you need is compressed air, and you have plenty of calories lying around in your body, this is a good trade. So think of a machine as a series of these “trades” chained together to get the final action at the end. A good machine gets from what you have (e.g. a wall outlet in your house that can provide 120V AC electricity) to the thing you want (e.g. hot food) as efficiently as possible.

The reason Rube Goldberg machines are funny is they are very inefficient, complex ways of accomplishing relatively simple tasks. They are also very educational for describing how these chains of components and chains of causality work, so I’ll use one as an example of how components are chained together to make a machine.

2020-06-27 16_08_21-rube-goldberg-machine.jpg (WEBP Image, 1180 × 315 pixels) - Pale Moon

A) Transforms sitting force into compressed air.
B) Transforms compressed air into motion.
C) Transforms motion into contact.
D) Transforms contact into application of heat.
E) Transforms heat into loud noise.
F) Transforms loud noise into kinetic energy.
G) Transforms kinetic energy into signal to the camera.

As you can see, this is a lot like a syllogism of the form:
If A then B
If B then C
If C then D
If F then G.
If A then G.

When A is supplied with the correct input, and the machine is “functioning” (do you see now that the words we use for these things were not arbitrary choices?), then the predicted output of G is produced. Each step in this syllogism is a very simple function. Thus, it could be rewritten as:

A(x) = y or
A(input) = output
B(input) = output
G(input) = output

Like in math, a “system” of functions is a set or collection of functions that you deal with all together at once. That’s why we refer to things like mechanical “systems” or electro-hydraulic “systems”. All we’re really saying is there’s a chain of components performing mechanical functions (transforming mechanical things into other mechanical things) or a chain of components transforming electrical and hydraulic things into other electrical and hydraulic things.

Understanding how machines work is mostly a matter of understanding how the components work. Once you have the vocabulary (where the words are different kinds of components), any particular machine can then be understood as a sequence of logical statements of how the input of A eventually transforms into the output of G. Anything else about the machine is purely a matter of enabling that function to happen.

An example of enabling components is transmission systems. Transmission is usually just very simple components that take the output of A to the input of B because, due to space considerations, they couldn’t just be right next to each other. For example, one of those power drills that plugs into the wall needs a cable because if it just had a plug on it, you wouldn’t be able to move it around. The wire inside the cable is just a very simple component that transforms “electrical power over here” into “electrical power over there”. A garden hose turns “pressurized water over here” into “pressurized water over there”. The bike pump example from before has a pneumatic hose on it so you don’t have to plug the cylinder right into the bike plug.

Some transmission systems, like the one in the underbody of a car, can actually have pretty complicated working principles. But most of them are extremely simple. And the *function* of them is always simple: to transfer the output created by the component “over here” into the input needed “over there”. In the Rube Goldberg example, there are several examples of transmission components.

Another example of a consideration is how inputs and outputs of components will be connected. This is where the idea of conventions and standardization come in really handy. Probably the most important reason is because it prevents operators who don’t understand the machine from doing anything really stupid or dangerous by making it inconvenient. Even the dumbest person knows you don’t plug a USB cable directly into a wall socket. Why not? It’s just different kinds of wires, right? Well, it’s possible you could cut off the plug, strip the cable down to the bare wires, and then plug those into the wall. But because connections are conventional and standardized, we know this is probably dangerous, and whatever is in the wall socket is probably not the right input for whatever the USB is connected to. So even though, you might theorize “it’s just electricity”, it’s probably not the “right kind” of electricity. And you’d be right! If the person who made the machine wanted to supply it with 120V of AC current, he probably would have put a three-prong wall socket plug on it.

This is why European wall sockets are shaped differently from American wall sockets. If you tried to save money on the plug converter and stripped the cable of your laptop to plug it into the 110V AC wall plug, you’d be doing a very foolish thing. I don’t know what would happen exactly, but common sense says when you use a machine in a way that wasn’t intended you’re taking a huge, unnecessary personal risk unless you understand the machine as well as the original designer or better.

The other reason for standardizing connectors is because it makes it WAY more convenient to connect transmission components to other things. For example, you may have noticed it’s a lot easier to plug things into a wall socket than it is to hotwire them directly into the transformer outside your house. Even when you understand what you’re doing, and you know that your table saw takes 120V AC as an input, it’s still almost always a good idea to use a cable with a standard manufactured plug rather than plugging bare wires into the socket. Even though there’s no logical difference between the two (both will allow the machine to function), the conventional plug is better. Planning which connectors to use between components and transmission media saves a lot of trouble when it comes to buying things and then putting them together. Not planning this in detail is also, in my experience, the biggest and most predictable cause of headaches and negative consequences from last-minute hack jobs. Getting to the point of finally building the damn machine you’ve been planning for months and finding you have the wrong plug on a cable or the wrong screw thread on a hydraulic fitting is, apparently, a problem humanity has no intention of solving. (Until now!)

I’ll wait to describe the purpose of what I’d consider the last elements- structure, mounting, and fasteners- when I get around to the problems involved in spatial considerations. For now, let’s return to the figure I drew of a typical component and list everything we need to know about a component to understand it.


As mentioned before, a component minimally has a function, inputs, and outputs. If it works, then we don’t care how it works other than, perhaps, scientific curiosity. But as you may have guessed by now, components are often made with *gasp* other little components! That’s right, a component may be, itself, a little machine. I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself from the excitement of that revelation…

I always knew it would always come back to those goddamn turtles

Here, I’ll ask you to brush up on the idea of abstraction: https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/abstraction/.

But some of the functions inside of a manufactured component may be performed by features that the manufacturer created from scratch in the manufacturing process. Maybe instead of little wires and tubes they drilled holes to allow fluids to pass between components, or trails of melted gold were drizzled across PCB boards to conduct small currents to get from A to B.

One of the coolest things to realize about manufactured things is that every feature, every detail, every bump, cranny, hole, flare, and rounded edge, was engineered for an explicit, specific purpose. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gone to such outrageous expense to build a whole line of giant machines just to put little bumps, crannies, holes, flares, and rounded edges on things. Or at least I think this is a cool revelation. It completely changed the way I look at everyday manufactured objects. I see contours and think “What is that for? Why did they think that was important enough to pay for a machine to do that? What did it cost to manufacture it that way instead of a simpler way?”

Most of the machines that aren’t consumer goods are designed to make these little features as part of a manufacturing process. I’ll return to those processes to tie this all together someday, hopefully. Even the aesthetic features of consumer products, like the infamous rounded corners on iPhones, have to be machined that way at great expense. And even this is, arguably, a function. The input is the aesthetic, and the output is the feeling it induces in the consumer.

Anyway, returning to what’s going on inside of components, the knowledge that changes it from a black box you don’t care to understand to a little machine that you do understand is called the “working principle”. This is the part where physics becomes engineering. Before we can have transformations from mechanical things to thermodynamic things, or electrical things to optical things, and so on, somebody had to make a discovery in physics. An example from the lightbulb is, somebody had to realize that when current passes through a certain kind of wire, the resistance produces heat, which causes the wire to produce light. That process is the working principle of a lightbulb. At minimum, all you need to have something called a lightbulb is something that can use the input to operate the working principle of electrical resistance -> heat -> light. The rest- the glass bulb, the standardized screw-threaded plug on the bottom, the gas in the bulb- is just enabling the working principle to work better.

If some random, bizarre material were discovered to have the same physical property of electrical resistance as tungsten- let’s imagine a lab passed current through clay that had been soaked in worcestershire sauce and got the same number of Ohms as tungsten- then you could plug a lump of that thing into your wall and have a very odd looking “lightbulb”. But if you have a lightbulb that uses a different working principle, maybe by converting mechanical energy into heat, then you wouldn’t actually have a lightbulb at all even if you made it to look like one. It has a different working principle, so it’s a different kind of thing. Often the physical principle will be called an “X effect” like Bernoulli effect, Venturi effect, photoelectric effect, etc.

Components don’t exist in a perfect world where they just have functional inputs and outputs, they also have incidental inputs and outputs that are not intended and often negative. One of these is inputs from the environment. These can break the component’s function or subtly modify the intended, functional input and operation of the working principle in ways that weren’t designed and we probably wouldn’t like. For example, computers operated in space have to deal with high levels of radiation that can damage components and randomly flip bits back and forth. Unusual temperatures often effect physical changes in the component’s working principle or the transmission media. Even driving through a tunnel while talking on your phone is an example of this, because the transmission medium (EM waves) is reflected and transformed in ways the telecom system designer didn’t intend. These often require the design to include additional “enabling components” that don’t serve the machine’s function directly but they do ameliorate or prevent these unintended inputs. For example, space computers may have radiation-shielding enclosures, drinking water systems may have water filtration components, and so on.

There are also unintended outputs from each component referred to as “externalities”. Since these are often unwanted, we often call them “negative externalities”. Examples could be heat produced by a motor, pollution produced by a car, or even cow dung. Sometimes these are unwanted but also unavoidable, like excess heat that must be dispelled through a heat sink and cooling system, and sometimes these are avoidable but accidental (like the stuff getting into Flint’s drinking water from old pipes). Actually, in retrospect I think that may have been from some experimental treatment they added to the water. That would also be an example of a negative externality, except farther upstream in the process. Very rarely, an ingenius designer can use externalities as part of a larger system design. Maybe excess engine heat is used to heat the car’s interior or windows during the winter, or pollution is used to poison one’s neighbors to eliminate evolutionary competitors, or cow dung is sold as fertilizer.

In any case, understanding the environment a component is operating under and the planned and unplanned externalities it produces under normal and abnormal operation are very important for troubleshooting malfunctions from symptoms. Sometimes externalities affect the operating environment in a feedback loop. These special cases are called “considerations”. The easiest example is heat. Many machine components produce heat during operation which, obviously, change the temperature the component is operating in!

But depending on the abstraction level you’re looking at, there can be a lot of indirect examples. A big, plant-wide hydraulic system with a leak may cause one machine component’s operating environment to be “soaked in hydraulic fluid”. Since a machine is just a component in a bigger machine called a “production line”, and a production line is just a component in an even bigger machine called a “factory”, the number of considerations can be as large as your imagination. Fortunately, as with the original descriptions of function, it’s only necessary to be as comprehensive as is practically necessary to produce the understanding which, in turn, produces a properly functioning machine.

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