scribblings on Game of Thrones 6.09

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“I leave you guys alone for five minutes …”

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I really love the convention of opening scenes of negotiation with riders carrying banners. It puts one in the scene very nicely – my first thought is the first thought someone on the field would have: “The flayed man! Men of House Bolton approach.”

I assume this is going to be some psychological torture of Sansa, if Ramsay is stupid enough to leave Winterfell.

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Hmmm … from this distance the interlocutors kind of look like meshichists.

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By the old gods and the new, I love this young scamp. I am ready for her to kick some Bolton ass.


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“I like to go for a long walk the night before a battle. That way, I can stumble into Bolton’s assassins whose existence I have definitely proven by virtue of my saying these words to you. Chekhov’s Long Walk.”

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Oh, I’ve found me much more than assassins … much, much more …

-And I imagine your offer is free of any marriage demands.
-I never demand, but I’m up for anything, really.

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Yes! Dany+Yara! Lesbian power couple on the Iron Throne 2017!

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yaaaay! Two True Queens #TTQ


C’mon Baelish surprise cavalry charge. As high as honor, as high as honor, as high as honor …

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the Bolton fear advantage. I wonder how much it weakens a man to envisage his own defeat and torture. I’ve read studies suggesting that increased prison terms don’t actually decrease crime, because criminals don’t actually think they’ll get caught. But perhaps it’s different here – men before battle have ample time to consider the consequences. Perhaps it eats at them further. Or perhaps it makes them feel like they’re on the righteous side. Perhaps it girds them like the scuttled ships of Cortes girded his conquistadors.

Regardless of their actual effectiveness as psychological weapons, these burning crosses look really cool.

Oh, they actually have people on them. Gross.

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un-fucking-believable. he’s rage-charging by himself.


i really want to back the Starks i really really do they’re so honourable but they’re SO FUCKING STUPID.

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What a stupid pointless slaughter.

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suck it, Boltons.

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This is the best birthday present a boy could ever want.


scribblings on Game of Thrones 6.08

holy fuck milk of the poppy is a real medicine? at this point i was beginning to think the offer of milk of the poppy was a masculinity ritual. think about how many times we’ve seen this:

medic: here, have some milk of the poppy
fighter: i don’t want milk of the poppy

it makes sense. now the fighter feels really manly for refusing, has reinforced his social role of masculine resilience, has a higher self-efficacy because he was offered a choice, and has primed himself to believe he can handle the pain without narcotic. in the absence of any evidence that milk of the poppy itself actually exists, it seems reasonable to conclude that the ceremonial offering of milk of the poppy is a placebo ritual.

>mfw it’s an actual med
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>tfw your son becomes frum and now you have to stand in the ezras nashim

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can’t believe Cleganebowl is cancelled, though. this is bullshit.


welp guess we know what D&D are doing with this season’s ninth episode budget …

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scribblings on Game of Thrones 6.07

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this rustic building scene gives me such fomo for being a medieval laborer.


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Well, i guess Cleganebowl is BACK ON. Mountain vs Hound, this season, exclusive to King’s Landing Entertainment.


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Oh, there’s plenty of pious sons of bitches who think they know the word of god, or gods. I don’t. I don’t know their real names. Maybe it is the Seven. Or maybe it’s the Old Gods. Or maybe it’s the Lord of Light, or maybe they’re all the same fucking thing. I don’t know. What matters, I believe, is that there’s something greater than us. And whatever it is, it’s got plans for Sandor Clegane.

this guy is my new theological hero. {i happen to think it’s the four-dimensional crystal of space-time + profound mythological representations of the deep psyche + mysticism + clever psychological methods for living well, but i don’t know either.}

it’s interesting, because not too long ago i would have been repulsed by this line of reasoning as logically weak and unsound. i guess my attitude to new ideas has transformed from one of critical assessment to one of acceptance and expansion. not “is this guy wrong?” but “in what ways is this guy right? what can i learn from really understanding his point of view?”

i worry that i’m becoming feeble-minded, but then i realize i’m probably just growing up. and that, of course, worries me a hell of a lot more.


the game in the capital has gotten very subtle. the way the High Sparrow speaks threats veiled in earnestness, the way Margaery dresses her politics in piety. I wonder if the High Sparrow knows she’s faking, but doesn’t care because he’s getting his way. I wonder how much of all of it is a giant charade. It doesn’t seem likely that he’s in it for himself like everyone else; serving soup to beggars for years hardly seems like a worthy way to climb the ladder, for a man possessed of great ego.

as things are, it seems like both margaery and the high sparrow understand the charade: margaery fakes piety to give herself more leeway, the high sparrow rewards it with extra freedoms because it helps him cement his theocracy. i am very intrigued to see where this goes next.


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“alright, Ser Davos of House Seaworth, how is it you understand how I feel? remember, the unquiet ghost of King Stannis sits at my right, judging your words.”


quick back -of-the-envelope calculation:

“Every man of Bear Island fights with the strength of ten mainlanders.” – Lady Lyanna Mormont

“Every northerner is worth ten of these southron swords” – Desmond, Lord Stark’s household guard, Book One

Thus, Jorah Mormont is worth 100 Jamie Lannisters. MATHS.


dat feel when you quit the party life to go to yeshiva

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I knew this creepy fucker was Faceless the moment I saw her. i’m very interested to see how Arya fights her way out of this. odds are not in her favour, but plot immortality is.

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Meanwhile, Sandor Clegane is now Batman. CLEGANEBOOOOOWL.

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scribblings on Game of Thrones 6.06

when you tell your parents her mother is Jewish but then later the truth comes out

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ok it looks like Arya’s beginning to see benefits from therapy. that’s her first real smile in a long time. perhaps i misjudged the art therapists.

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scribblings on Game of Thrones 6.05


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“You want me to beg for my life? If that’s what you want, I will.” – Baelish plays yellow lizard like no-one’s fucking business.


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This cognitive-behavioral therapy program that Arya’s on really doesn’t meet psychiatric standards.


I command you to heal yourself, and then return to me. When I take the Seven Kingdoms, I need you by my side.

I know dat feel, Khaleesi. I know dat feel.


OMG RELIGIOUS WAR INCOMING. WHO IS THE TRUE CALIPH? Spoiler: Jon and Dany’s son: the eponymous Song of Ice and Fire. Or it could be Jon himself, maybe. But Rhaegar’s mistake was in forgetting that a good prophecy can always wait another generation.

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this will be interesting. theocracies have a bad habit of getting out hand.


ned stark's bastard

❤ ❤ ~~ NED STARK’S BASTARD ~~ ❤ ❤


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And Hodor. Very intense ending. He appears to have been … given his name from the future? Game of Thrones now canonically includes time travel?

Good luck, Meera, shlepping that too-large sleigh through the frozen North-beyond-the-wall. If TV Tropes has taught me anything, it’s that you and Bran are now the two safest characters in the whole wide world.

scribblings on Game of Thrones 6.04



the High Sparrow’s narrative arc is the most compelling to me right now. the story of his last feast is … very, very similar to the story of my last feast.

something i’ve always loved about Game of Thrones is the way it captures a coherent life philosophy in each character. i try to empathise with each of them, seeing if i can work my way into the head of Tywin, Ned, the Hound. i try to figure out their lives – what makes them tick, what their triumphs look like, what will be the sheaves of their harvests. the High Sparrow, quite simply, seems like he will live the happiest life and do the most good with it. and that’s why i’m a zealot. whoa … that feels really good to put on the page.

Adam once told me that i should never forget to see white through the eyes of blue, and blue through the eyes of white. this, then, is white summarized as blue – piety is how you win.


this is my new fave small council, Shlimazels, Inc.:

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Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never persistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man.

– from Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

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“I can pull the W out of the model …”


Scott Adams just linked to a staggering piece of neuroscience.

The forefront of cognitive science seems to indicate that religion and LSD are correct, and it is the reasonable, the sober, and the sane who are caught in the grasp of Olam HaSheker – the world of lies.

I highly recommend reading the whole interview. Here are some choice quotes:

I have a space X of experiences, a space G of actions, and an algorithm D that lets me choose a new action given my experiences. Then I posited a W for a world, which is also a probability space. Somehow the world affects my perceptions, so there’s a perception map P from the world to my experiences, and when I act, I change the world, so there’s a map A from the space of actions to the world. That’s the entire structure. Six elements. The claim is: This is the structure of consciousness. I put that out there so people have something to shoot at.

But if there’s a W, are you saying there is an external world?

Here’s the striking thing about that. I can pull the W out of the model and stick a conscious agent in its place and get a circuit of conscious agents. In fact, you can have whole networks of arbitrary complexity. And that’s the world.Thi

The entire world is just conciousness, man.

The world is just other conscious agents?

I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent. This mathematics is telling me something. I can take two minds, and they can generate a new, unified single mind. Here’s a concrete example. We have two hemispheres in our brain. But when you do a split-brain operation, a complete transection of the corpus callosum, you get clear evidence of two separate consciousnesses. Before that slicing happened, it seemed there was a single unified consciousness. So it’s not implausible that there is a single conscious agent. And yet it’s also the case that there are two conscious agents there, and you can see that when they’re split. I didn’t expect that, the mathematics forced me to recognize this. It suggests that I can take separate observers, put them together and create new observers, and keep doing this ad infinitum. It’s conscious agents all the way down.

People come together to form hiveminds. A conversation, done well, is the linking up of two hard drives into one processor.

God-consciousness seems to be the phenomenon of syncing up values with all other nodes of consciousness. Buddha and Abraham genuinely cared about everyone. A good formalization of God is “the sum of all consciousnesses”, which itself forms a consciousness.

Judaism is a giant operating system that coordinates the neural and behavioural functioning of Jews around the world. The exclusive covenant system of religion, which discourages converts, appears to be based on the premise that the minimum viable product of utopia is a single people. Once we get that right, everyone else will copy it. What Elon Musk did to the automotive industry, Judaism is attempting to do to the community of nations. Perhaps that’s why they hate us.

The software of Judaism was slowly developed form Moses’ bare-bones operating system into the immensely-complex, highly-detailed Talmud. The software is in a state of disrepair because the Sanhedrin has been disbanded; while the movement of halacha from 1000 BC to 500 AD was one of ever-increasing complexity, the movement from 500 AD to 2000 AD was one of the opposite directions – instead of expanding and fleshing out the halacha, we’ve been attempting to redact and summarize it for a people on the run, essentially scraping by in survival mode for two millennia. The great works of the Jewish Exile, like Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and R’ Yosef Caro’s Shulchan Aruch, were functional, stripped-down redactions of the Talmud Bavli. Galus put the project into safe mode.

Much of the modern crisis of Judaism is inherent in this lack of development. While Enlightenment values have pushed modern society forward, Judaism has been stuck on a 1500-year-old save file running at reduced capacity. It still has some significant advantages over Western Liberalism, but as Eliezer Yudkowsky points out, static Orthodox Judaism will inevitably lose this race.

In Orthodox Judaism there is a saying:  “The previous generation is to the next one as angels are to men; the next generation is to the previous one as donkeys are to men.”  This follows from the Orthodox Jewish belief that all Judaic law was given to Moses by God at Mount Sinai.  After all, it’s not as if you could do an experiment to gain new halachic knowledge; the only way you can know is if someone tells you (who heard it from someone else, who heard it from God).  Since there is no new source of information, it can only be degraded in transmission from generation to generation.

Thus, modern rabbis are not allowed to overrule ancient rabbis.  Crawly things are ordinarily unkosher, but it is permissible to eat a worm found in an apple—the ancient rabbis believed the worm was spontaneously generated inside the apple, and therefore was part of the apple.  A modern rabbi cannot say, “Yeah, well, the ancient rabbis knew diddly-squat about biology.  Overruled!”  A modern rabbi cannot possibly know a halachic principle the ancient rabbis did not, because how could the ancient rabbis have passed down the answer from Mount Sinai to him?  Knowledge derives from authority, and therefore is only ever lost, not gained, as time passes.

When I was first exposed to the angels-and-donkeys proverb in (religious) elementary school, I was not old enough to be a full-blown atheist, but I still thought to myself:  “Torah loses knowledge in every generation.  Science gains knowledge with every generation.  No matter where they started out, sooner or later science must surpass Torah.”

The most important thing is that there should be progress.  So long as you keep moving forward you will reach your destination; but if you stop moving you will never reach it.

Restore the Sanhedrin, save the world.

The Blossoming of Joy

I slept very little last night. Whilst in bed, I thought:

I’m going to ERETZ YISROEL! 

I’ve finally begun to shift gears from worrying-about-not-being-ready to being-excited-to-go-home.

It’s wonderful this way, and much more productive.

I read the first few pages of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch before bed. The level of brilliance in Jewish inner game continues to stagger me. I arose after only a couple of hours of sleep, and successfully fended off the desire to collapse back into bed. I am very excited to learn the deep magics of my people.

This afternoon, I will, by the grace of God, upload the first video to Yitzi Plays Zelda.


Grasping the Phoenix


Spoilers for Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Chapter 85.

If you haven’t already read HPMOR, you ought to click here and let Eliezer Yudkowsky make sweet, sweet love to your mind. 


The phoenix shows up, and says “come.”

It doesn’t make sense. You can’t chance everything you are, everything you’re needed for, just to gut Azkaban.

But it says “come.”

And a voice inside you, deeper than your Gryffindor, says “it’s time. Go with the phoenix.”

And the rational, computing part of your brain does the calculus, and refuses. So the phoenix leaves.

After you say no, Dumbledore shows up and tells you that was your one chances, and you won’t ever get a phoenix now, but maybe that’s not so bad, because the survival rate of those who grasp the phoenix is said to be less than one in four. And having one on his shoulder was not so pleasant once he started having to do bad things for good ends. Perhaps having a phoenix would have driven you mad, given the choices you will be forced to make. He says he can’t tell you what the right choice was, because he’s only a foolish boy who grew into a foolish man, and he still has no wisdom.


I’ve been getting super-into Kyle Cease lately, and he has taught me to grasp the phoenix. Grasp it, and leap. You can measure what you’ll lose, but you can’t measure what you might gain.

I’m going to Israel in precisely two weeks. I’m going because that’s where the phoenix is taking me. I don’t know if I’ll survive, but I refuse to suppress the cries of Azkaban any longer.

The phoenix helps. It heals me of my wounds, and it gives me powers no amount of intellect could replicate. For this, it has one demand: that I do what I know to be right, every moment that it sits upon my shoulder.

I pray for the strength to obey its call.

The Lord is my Superorganism


Recall the last time you really felt tribal. Football game, wedding, riot, summer camp. The last time you felt like you were bigger than yourself, when the sense of “I” expanded to include more than just the fragile fleshbody that you’re directly piloting.

We think of those moments as anomalous. Feeling like you’re one person is normal; feeling like you’re a tribe is a curious and odd moment of ecstasy.

Nah, homes. Tribes are normal. It’s being one person that’s weird.

Wild humans don’t have a particularly strong sense of selfishness. Primitive man practises something called fierce egalitarianism, where no-one accumulates rank or property. Ever. 

The idea of humans as individual, independent actors is a post-agricultural fetish. Unfortunately, societies that have this fetish quickly out-compete and annihilate societies that don’t, so now the only societies left {with a few possible straggling exceptions} are individualistic and weird and unhealthy and doomed to be devoured by Moloch.


You can get to this level where you’re like whoa the whole idea I had of myself as one dude is all wrong and in fact everyone is the same guy. This state is attainable through meditation, mysticism, and LSD.

The project of Judaism is to reconstruct that state of tribe that existed before the invention of agriculture. The Messianic vision is of a world where “all your nation shall be righteous” (Isaiah 60:21), that is, where everyone is so wrapped up in the good of others that true tribal functioning has been restored.

Who is this God person anyway? – Oolon Colluphid

Here’s an answer I’ve been enjoying lately: God is the memetic superorganism of the Jews, a way for us to tie all our destinies together into a reified being. In Him, Jews are attempting to construct the first true post-agricultural tribe, with quite a bit of success.

That the Jewish home is a home in the truest sense is a fact which no one will dispute. The family is knitted together by the strongest affections; its members show each other every due respect; and reverence for the elders is an inviolate law of the house. The Jew is not a burden on the charities of the state nor of the city; these could cease from their functions without affecting him.

When he is well enough, he works; when he is incapacitated, his own people take care of him. And not in a poor and stingy way, but with a fine and large benevolence. His race is entitled to be called the most benevolent of all the races of men. A Jewish beggar is not impossible, perhaps; such a thing may exist, but there are few men that can say they have seen that spectacle. The Jew has been staged in many uncomplimentary forms, but, so far as I know, no dramatist has done him the injustice to stage him as a beggar. Whenever a Jew has real need to beg, his people save him from the necessity of doing it. The charitable institutions of the Jews are supported by Jewish money, and amply. The Jews make no noise about it; it is done quietly; they do not nag and pester and harass us for contributions; they give us peace, and set us an example – an example which we have not found ourselves able to follow; for by nature we are not free givers, and have to be patiently and persistently hunted down in the interest of the unfortunate.

– Mark Twain, Concerning the Jews, 1898

A century later, a near-zero-percent poverty rate remains the coveted dream of developed nations. Jews managed it while being tormented, brutalized, and oppressed.

And we managed it because we have felt, have strived for, and have acted in the service of that profound bonding Unity which encompasses us all.

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is Our God. The Lord is One. (Deut 6:4)