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AGW: the why behind no consensus πŸ”— 1439057923  

About 3 years ago, I got into a debate about Anthropogenic Global Warming with some of my friends. As you may suspect, I took the skeptical position. Due to such, the initial response was to use ad-hominems ("denier!") and to shout other thought-terminating cliches ("There's a consensus!") Of course, I didn't bother pointing out that the use of such implied that their opinion on such rested more on magical thinking; Use of such is generally a signaling mechanism that they are simply uninterested in the facts.

So, I decided to take a different tack. I asked them why they thought I hold the position that I do on this issue. Their first response was that I'm clearly heavily propagandized and brainwashed, due to not holding similar political opinions to them. So I responded, Supposing that's true, why have I been propagandized? Who gains from this? Their response was that it was the evil oil companies funding all those skeptical.

At this point, I didn't bother saying "I don't see my oilco check in the mail", or pointing out that most of those behind the AGW science are paid by governments, and not free from such conflict of interest either. Pointing out that something like government which they have internalized as good (which is like saying rape is love) could possibly corrupt scientists would more likely provoke a fight-or-flight response than reflection, so I didn't bother with that argument either. Instead, I asked why would these companies both fund colleges which have AGW promoting professors, and even back their conferences and run AGW awareness campaigns if they don't care about the issue? They responded that it must be a trick, considering that these companies are Evil (tm). Since I knew they would not respond well to me pointing out that they're engaging in the same kind of tinfoil-y conspiracy theorizing they accuse anti-government people of doing, I decided to tack yet again.

Supposing I've been propagandized by these evil companies, I said, why was I susceptible to this propaganda and you were not? Considering that we both had presented ourselves as pretty empirical and rational people up to this point, they thankfully did not make the argument hopeless by declaring me insane. They responded that they really couldn't tell me, as they weren't mind readers. I responded that I knew who could read my mind (myself), and offered the following explanation as to what could possibly incentivize me to believe as I do from a completely pragmatic perspective.

According to the IPCC's own worst-case estimate global warming would result in 37 inches of sea level rise over 100 years. Think about where I live. At the time it was 430 feet above sea level. It's obvious that I would not be directly affected by this; furthermore it would creep up so slowly that I'm sure we'll be able to adapt as a society. In fact, I would likely indirectly benefit due to increased crop yields (plants like CO2, and more ocean means more available humidity for clouds/rain) and higher relative property values (due to less land). The benefits would be even greater for those in high latitudes, as crop growth would be possible even higher than before. This explanation seemed to fit for them, as their general perception of those who "deny" AGW is that of a redneck rural republican.

I then turned the argument around and pondered why it seemed there was elite consensus on the danger of AGW? Well, considering that beachfront property is the most valuable, and hence owned in the largest proportion by the rich this becomes obvious pretty quickly. Furthermore, most refineries, ports and other capital equipment are there (due to 80% of humanity being within 20 miles of a water source, which is usually the coast). I posited that this was a more likely explanation for corporate backing of AGW, including that of the oil companies. Next, I stated that as a result of this agglomeration of humanity, governments would necesarily be anxious about disruption to them; as they want to maximize tax revenues.

I then asked why they think they support AGW, specifically in the context of how that belief benefits them. Almost invariably they said something along the lines of having had it explained to them by some particular friend in an AGW friendly way. Considering all these people's friends were on some kind of government assistance, the incentive structure became immediately clear to me; but I didn't decide to press that. Rather, since they were rather non-religious folk, I asked "Isn't that a bit like giving lip service to god because it makes dinner with family less tense?" They started slithering a bit at that point, and I realized that this was about as far as I was gonna get. Hopefully it was enough to plant the seed of doubt.


Corporations versus The State πŸ”— 1439057922  

I hear arguments along these lines all the time:

Liberal: "Evil corporations! They have corrupted our once virtuous government! We need more 'democracy'."
Conservative: "It's the evil government's creation of moral hazard that's incentivizing our once virtuous businesses to act in a reckless manner!"
and they never seem to resolve themselves; generally they agree to disagree. It is quite rare that the parties to these debates step back and realize that it takes two to tango; and even then they rarely realize why the dance floor is there in the first place.

Even those who recognize that the modern western state is basically Fascism, don't generally go in to why all of the western republics seem to always go this way. For some, I suppose it is not sensational enough, as the reality requires no conspiring by elites; for others, the reality would kill too many ideas which they hold sacred, and they do not investigate further in order to protect against having an existential crisis. In any case, the fundamental reason why the modern state and corporations tend towards this cartelization with each other is because structurally and functionally, they are the same.

Defective by Design

To demonstrate this, let me provide a couple of definitions, so as to facilitate straw-man attacks against this piece. When I say the "modern western state", what I mean is some sort of government in which the populace elects representatives to carry out the political aims of the populace. When I say the "modern western corporation", what I mean is some sort of organization in which shareholders elect various agents to carry out the economic aims of the shareholders. If you're paying attention, I'm sure you have noticed some similarities in those two definitions.

In fact, the only meaningful difference between the two are their aims and stakeholders. Many would believe that this would be enough difference to keep these parties distinct; however, when one truly understands incentives, you realize that the means always color the ends. In fact, the longer the means are in place, the more likely they are to become the ends themselves.

The means in this context are twofold: agency and limitation of liability; both have defects which make the possibility of effective shareholder control less likely as the size of the organization grows.

The Agency Problem

Agency is the notion that one can delegate the particular details of implementing a policy to someone else in exchange for payment. Where this breaks down is fairly well understood, just look up the "principal-agent problem". The usual hierarchal organization of governments and corporations practically always exacerbates this.

In the most degenerate stages of the agency problems in corporations, we see both executives abusing the company long-term to maximize short term bonuses; we also see situations where executives don't see rogue business units under them. Similarly, we see this in the large republics; practically all of them are actually run by their bureaucracies.

Limited Liability

As a result of the difficulties in caused by the agency problem in large organizations, the notion of limited liability always comes up either de-facto or de-jure. For example, if a corporation does some hideous polluting and as a result several people are killed, the shareholders are not held to account; this is because by law they have no direct control. Similarly, if a government decides to genocide some neighboring country (and fails), it's people are not directly held liable -- reparation payments are limited to their government, which inevitably finds a way to default on such.

The state, of course, does have an interesting extra measure here that is related to how not only they will abuse others which are not stakeholders, but how they also will abuse their own stakeholders (see Principal-Agent problems above). This concept limiting the liability of the agents against their principals is called "Sovereign Immunity," and this may perhaps be the only way in which the corporate model is superior to the modern western state. Still, even this type of immunity seems to be coming to many corporations as well. This phenomenon is known as "regulatory capture".

The fundamental defect in limiting liability is that it solves the problem of corrupt agents by corrupting the principals. Shareholders will be much more willing to go along with morally reprehensible, but profitable, actions when they have no reasonable expectation of blowback. Similarly, voters can get behind monstrous atrocities like enslaving generations yet unborn for a stimulus check today, as they know they'll never be held to account even if the bill came due tomorrow.

Consequences & Solutions

The consequences of these problems are quite far-reaching. Some Austrian School economists would even go so far to say that ultimately the issue with the modern corporation is that it suffers from the same economic calculation problems that plague all states, due to elements of central planning being present in corporations. Indeed, this problem becomes even worse when paired with the state, as they create a culture of competition in centralization, where the pressures to preserve your respective organizations actually drive you to centralize more due to mutual parasitism.

The astute reader might now be thinking that direct democracy or perhaps even monarchy is a solution to this nearly intractable problem. While Monarchy is indeed an improvement (as limited liability clearly is not present), and the autocrat has longer time horizons, it is at best only a mitigation strategy. It will inevitably suffer from out of control agents as size increases. On the other hand, consider direct democracy. If your "democracy" just ends up electing more agents, you will achieve at best a monarchy with multiple personality disorder. At worst, it is indistinguishable from republicanism and will degenerate into fascism. If instead your democracy ends up implementing all it's directives directly, I ask why vote at all? Such a system is really indistinguishable from anarchy; so don't bother going through with the ballot ritual and skip straight to free markets.

However, I suspect that radical decentralization of such a sort will be a bridge too far for most. Most fear their own failures so strongly (usually due to extreme sanction on such during childhood) that they will not be able to resist setting up liability limiters. Only time will tell whether de-centralization's obvious robustness and superior ability at satisfying the needs of it's stakeholders will win; I suspect such will happen only after the greatest achievement of centralization (global government) fails miserably.


Agile and Praexology πŸ”— 1439057921  

In my Professional capacity, I often come into contact with various methodologies such as Agile, ISO and Six Sigma. I've seen it done Right and wrong -- and I do think that in general Agile is the best of them. However, it is worth saying right out of the gate that all of these things cannot magically increase productivity, or make the lumpen creative. All the process-oriented approaches can do is get you uniform output, and as such reduce the incidence of stellar catastrophes.

As to why Agile by and large hits the mark, I believe the reasons lie mostly with praexological principles. When I am exposed to new ideas, or go over old ones, I have the habit of seeing it through the praexological lens. It struck me how similar the reasons that the failures of the "waterfall" method of software development resemble those of central economic planning. Requirements are decided by wise overlords, which are then implemented by programmers, checked by QA, and sold by marketing/sales. If any one of those in the chain fail, the project fails -- and the longer the planning horizon is, the more catastrophic the failure becomes.

Agile solves this effectively through decentralization and redundancy, which is the place that most organizations fall down in implementing agile. It is worth noting that this is also the way to mitigate the the ill effects of malinvestment brought on by failed economic calculation. As above, so below.

Another interesting concept in Project Management is the Iron triangle of Cost, Scope and Schedule -- that if you insist on any two, one must give. This is fundamentally what economic calculation is all about. Agile recognizes that if you insist that all three requirements are met, no amount of effort can make it a reality. If only the state would realize that backing up it's insistence on project goals with a gun is similarly futile and deluded.

The reasons for this are largely due to the information paradox created by all economic valuation being subjective. Value is subjective due to the impossibility of any two individuals having an identical informational context; like a program, we cannot rule out differing output when run by different interpreters, even if we feed it identical inputs. Similarly, the possibility that a group of stakeholders will ever be able to come to perfect agreement on the three points of the triangle quickly approaches 0 as the number of stakeholders increases.

Anyways, most businesses are not actually built to maximize the company's revenue, but profits for the owners; and as such they tend to be arranged hierarchically. This inevitably conflicts with the notion of "self-directed teams" in such organizations, as anxious managers and info-hoarding Neddries will lose power. The radical transparency required for such a team to correctly function is often a bridge too far, usually due to a lack of trusted agents. Most organizations are simply incapable of providing sufficient incentives to attract and keep employees worthy of such trust.

Similarly, governments always tend towards centralization due to the fact that doing such institutionalized violence makes finding trusted agents practically impossible. One look at the state of politics bears this out; only those capable of great lies can bury the skeletons required for maintaining the aura of legitimacy. Similarly, the requirement to bury such skeletons inevitably kills the level of transparency required for effective cross-agency co-ordination. As such, de-centralization is seen as an existential threat rather than as the way to effectively achieve their stated goals; and governments default to self-preservation becoming the goal.


Phobos Ozymandias πŸ”— 1439057920  

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

-Frankenstein's Baby Daddy

Many have often speculated about what really motivates the 'Power Elite' into acting in the way that they do. From what I have seen in the Anarcho-Capitalist/Liberty minded folks out there on the internet, the prevailing theory seems to be that they really are a bunch of power mad control freaks who actually derive pleasure from imposing their will upon others. Upon reflection, it is becoming more and more clear to me that this emerging "New World Order" and it's masters are not, as it may appear, motivated to continue to ride this train all the way to hell as a means of control, but rather because of a fear that the opposite is coming true despite their best efforts. One can make the case for this most persuasively when viewing the continuing rollout of the Police State and the complete zombification and paralysis of the banking sector. Why would they be simultaneously so impotent and yet need increasingly more draconian policies to be implemented if they already were 'getting off' on how much they are imitating BTK? Having to work harder to obtain your goals of domination doesn't exactly sound enjoyable to one having a high time preference when it comes to bossing people around, as it takes more effort to beat (or kill) your slaves into compliance than to have them be a compliant stockholm syndrome victim. Also, if you were already that delusional, wouldn't it be easier to rationalize and say you are still in control, even as everything tumbles down around your head?

Contrary to the more dramatic of the commentators out there, I would say that most of these 'Superclass' people are possessed of far more mundane motivations, even if a few of them are lunatics. One could even go to the root of the issue and just make an appeal based on the language of power: The State. What is implied by that phrase? Most obviously, stasis. It is a failed paradigm that aims to eliminate change in a world where resources are scarce, which leads to obvious problems. Regardless, this is the story of humanity's existance, as it is in our nature to seek stasis. Change is ultimately an immediate threat to homeostasis. Looking at evolutionary history, however, it is quite clear that the species that resist change (and thus does not select towards adaptiveness and intelligence) winds up as the extinct race. I think, deep down, the elites of this world can feel this, even if they don't know it. They may fear this more than they like to admit. Their actions would seem to validate my line of reasoning, as attempts to tighten control are ultimately a sign of weakness, not strength.

Still, perhaps this says more about myself and how I'd feel if I was captaining the Titanic than what is really felt by the elites. Who can say, as it would require being that person to truly know - and then, could you even honestly tell yourself, much less others, the truth?


The origin of the virus πŸ”— 1439057919  

Some have speculated that the virus preceded life, being as they are nothing more than amino acid/DNA/RNA chains. This would seem to be plausible. However, being as we likely do not (and possibly never will) have the ability to reproduce the conditions in which life formed, this may have to remain speculation for some time to come.

That in mind, another interesting possibility came to mind; that life itself generated the virus as a means to more effectively compete amongst each other. This has some real world backing, insofar as all life that is a carrier of a particular virus generally tends to be more successful than those who are not; such obviously reduces competitive pressure. We have also many cases of life generating other poisons to reduce competitive pressure, so it is not a stretch to posit that they may have branched out into virological warfare.

So, with the motive and use of such a mechanism in place, we have merely to show now that life can indeed spontaneously generate the virus where previously there was none. This would likely be as a result of random mutation in one of several competing strains of a particular species.

An experiment to verify such would be as follows: Take a number of strains of a particular bacterium species, and culture them isolated from each other until they reach some particular population level. Then put them into competition on the same substrate, and see which (if any) particular strain achieves dominance. Study said strain for traits that are new (and virological in particular). If no evidence of new viruses is found, separate the winner and culture into groups much like the original experiment, and repeat until one of these conditions are met:

  • Virus has spontaneously generated. This would be enough to prove that at least some viruses originated as selection mechanisms from living organisms.
  • Over a significant number of iterations, no evidence of virus generation is found. We can conclude then that it is at the least highly unlikely that viruses came from this source.

It is likely that the latter outcome will occur, in my opinion, as life is notoriously tight-fisted with it's origin story. However, it would be an enlightening experiment to carry out either way.


Keeping the dream alive πŸ”— 1439057918  

In modern times, it seems as if governments are entirely unresponsive to the demands of the electorate. This is of course, due to the natural political phenomenon of rigging any system that matters, such as elections and financial exchanges. However, as of late, too many in electorate are catching on to the fact that the system is rigged, and that they have no real control. Phenomena such as the ever-lowering voter participation rate, and Occupy Wall Street are but a few examples of this.

So, the elites need some kind of new gimmick to distract the people, or at least get them to rationalize elite decisions as in line with their own. Traditionally, this has been war, and there seem to be no lack of attempts at this sort of maneuver by the modern states. However, even this is wearing thin, as noted before. The same people who realize the whole system is rigged know that war itself is a racket. Therefore, I propose a bold new experiment for the USA -- and like all other "bold" new proposals, it makes up for it's lack of substance with style.

The proposal I am making here is eminently passable; it requires no constitutional amendments, no changing of tax rates, and is completely opt-in. Simply put, I would make charitable deductions reduce your AGI (adjusted gross income), and include government organizations in the list of qualifing charities. This would allow those who are devout worshipers at the federal temple the option to allow their wise overlords to spend their tax allotment at their own discretion, while also allowing those more skeptical to redirect those funds to agencies they support, or even private charity. This would satisfy progressives and the welfare hordes, as it would not change rates or effect FICA/FUDA (social security/unemployment insurance) very much. This would also satisfy conservatives, who could redirect all their tax dollars away from funding abortion, and towards dropping bombs on brown people.

The government will also be quite pleased, as it will confer some much needed legitimacy and moral authority on the state. Like they say (falsely) about the national debt "we owe it to ourselves", we could similarly say that our government's priorities are "entirely controlled by the people", and are therefore democratically legitimate. This measure will also not serve as a meaningful check upon government power, being as they are primarily financed by borrowing and money printing anyways.

With all that in mind, I would name the bill the "Prioritization of National Spending & Investment" (PONSI) act. With this bill in place, I am confident that we can keep the rigged system and it's associated ponzi schemes running until the currency collapses. Which is to say, no different a time-line than the current situation; but there's a better chance that it does not end in guillotines for the operators, as might be the case with the current state of public opinion. The more blindsided the public is by the event, the more likely they'll buy the excuse that it was caused by communists/al-qaeda/militia groups. In short, it's change we can believe in.


Thoughts on WAR πŸ”— 1439057917  

death
The real face of war

I recently watched an interesting Canadian documentary from 1983. Though it is lengthy (coming in at nearly seven hours) I was riveted. I honestly think that if this, (or something like it) were shown widely in the USA, the military would have a serious problem on their hands. Perhaps it is time for an addendum to be made, as it seems that war has not changed too much in the mean-time.

Part 1: The road to total war

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Good introduction to the last century's wars, and how folks thought of them at the time.

Part 2: Anybody's son will do

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

I began to get the feeling that had many of my classmates seen this after we took the ASVAB, none of them would have joined. Military training, like public schooling, is simple operant conditioning -- but bent towards a different purpose. In public school, the purpose of conditioning is to make you a good little slave, and fill your head with lies about how the system works. However, it is not terribly effectual, as the primary purpose is actually to keep the kids out of the way while the adults work.

In the more extreme case of boot camp, the purpose is to turn you into a hardened killer temporarily; and into a person who will follow orders from "higher authority" (which we see what that is next chapter) unquestioningly.

Part 3: The Profession of War

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

The job of the officer corps is made quite clear herein. The nature of modern war makes success and failure (and hence life and death) largely a matter of chance. This would make most rational people see no reason to follow leadership, as they would get the same results just rolling dice. It is rather humorous how closely art imitates life in this regard; success in D&D depends entirely on your equipment and luck.

In any case, such a collapse in discipline is anathema to the whole purpose of a warrior society, so officers are there to invent rationalizations and inspire confidence in the soldiery. However such is but a cruel joke on the soldiery, and the officers know it. They are fully aware of the grim reality; yet like those under them, they too are prisoners of their conditioning. The warrior society is a bizarre sort of Stockholm syndrome -- everyone grimly sets about doing things not a one of them want to do.

Part 4: The deadly game of Nations

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

To me, this is the most important part of the series. It made me realize, as I have many times before that it is collectivism, and nothing else, that is the root cause of war. The true "tragedy of the commons" is that everybody has equal right to defend it against non-owners (e.g. other collectives/tribes/nations). It is an inevitability that one (or many) of these owners will be foolish enough to take said defense of their commons too far, which is how all war begins. Once it begins, war proves to be a cancer which is incurable for a civilization; as it either kills the patient when they lose, or enriches it to the point that it's various special interests' lust for conquest becomes insatiatable.

It was also quite informative as to Israel. I remember reading that Prussia was "but an army masquerading as a state" once. I have a feeling that the Israelis feel uncomfortably close to being the same thing; the angst they must feel realizing that peace with the Palestinians is likely only to come with measures NAZIs might have dreamed up must be troubling.

Part 5: Keeping the old game alive: conventional warfare

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Hammers home how woefully useless all the tanks, aircraft carriers and fighter jets would really be if it came to a shooting war with a party that could actually put up a fight. Soldiery is effectively obsolete as a profession, at least when used against nuclear powers.

This is why special ops and covert intelligence currently dominate the relationships between the great powers, and the military is relegated to pushing around those who have no meaningful ability to resist. It would seem that the consensus amongst the nations was to form a few cartels (NATO and SCO/Russia), and divide up the world in lieu of burning it in nuclear fire. They did not reckon on what would happen when they both want to take over some place, however.

Part 6: Notes on nuclear war

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

Makes the horror or nuclear war pretty clear, and puts the lie to the notion that conventional warfare would not degenerate into nuclear war. Like most other things that discuss nuclear war, I suspect the fear-button pressing has an ulterior motive, and the next chapter does not disappoint.

Part 7: Goodbye War

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6

The conclusion of the documentary is that we should have global government as a solution to the risk of global nuclear war. However, the notion that this would stop war is foolish. The governments of the world will not willingly join a global government if it does not give them more power over their citizens; ergo, we must assume that rebellions against the resultant tyranny and slavery will occur quite frequently. There is no guarantee that nukes would not then be used as a tool of oppression rather than as a risk to all human civilization.

Some might consider that something of an improvement, as at least man would survive; but that will be little comfort to those living as slaves of the new world order. The real solution is not to have global collectivism, but to abolish the state and it's militarizes worldwide. Though the documentary said "the most unlikely conclusion must be true", they did not consider private property anarchy as the most "unlikely possibility"; however, they can be forgiven that, as it was not exactly a well known movement in 1983.


The corruptor πŸ”— 1439057916  

After watching an interview with notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, I came to three Realizations. The first was fairly obvious; This system is incapable of being "reformed". You could liquidate all of K street, and they'd just come back meaner. Instead of giving bribes, they'd start kidnapping, hiring investigators to get blackmail material, or just flat out kill those who don't play ball.

Which brings me to my next point. Abramoff repeatedly in the interview states that he thought he was one of the nice guys, and as we can clearly see, he didn't exactly play hardball with his clients. Yet the interviewer still felt revulsion, and I suppose rightly so. But there was the sense that the interviewer thought the government and the system wasn't really to blame. Of course, such a notion is ridiculous, as it takes two to tango; but even then, "don't hate the player, hate the game". It's the fact that there's a floor for these folks to dance on that's the real problem. Remove the arbitrary power of the government, and the reason to corrupt those involved disappear.

The last thing I noticed was remarkably more subtle. If organizations like Abramoff's can get this deep in so quickly, what about more powerful organizations? It makes one realize that maybe this consipracy talk about secret societies might just be on to something. When one realizes how many CFR, Trilateralists, Bilderbergers, and members of other secret clubs are right up there at the top regardless of which direction you look, you realize that maybe their influence isn't so different from those folks Abramoff "owned". Heck, when you think about it, the two parties are really just this sort of corrupt lobbying organization in an institutional capacity.

Considering all this, one begins to understand why despite the faces changing, none of the policies out of Washington do. Even if you elect a good man as president, he'll be surrounded by people who only present the side of the story they want seen. That must by why President Jackson instituted the spoils system. He knew he couldn't get anything done any other way.


Picnic on wall street πŸ”— 1439057915  

occupado

It would seem that the hip thing to do now is to go out and "occupy" the banking district of cities. This is all well and good, but like the "Arab Spring" protests, they will not accomplish much in the long run, and are little more than an excuse for police-stating in the short run. In the Arab nations the goal was at least accomplishable (overthrow of a dictator), rather than being largely undirected rage against "the system" as in OWS. Of course, people are just as angry here in the EU and US at "the system" as any of those Arabs are, but they aren't quite sure just why.

This confusion is mostly due to the difficulty in grasping and holding to account a vast faceless bureaucracy and their corporate minions as opposed to a smiling dictator and his minions. People find it hard to believe that so many eyes on a position of power could allow the kind of abuses that are common to dictatorship. So, they end up lashing out at any obvious symptom, oblivious of the root cause of all of this; the cancer that pulses in the heart of all government.

They all speak of particular symptoms (Wall St. criminals, Obama, Congress, etc), but you could liquidate all of these and change nothing. Like the Arab nations ousted their dictators, we could throw all the upper management of the mega corporations in prison, and re-staff the entire government, but things magically wouldn't change at all. They cry for transparency; but their blind spot for the root cause (lack of accountability) will net them only a brazen government in the end. Until they demand (and implement!) a system that is responsive to the people's desires, real change will not occur, and they will continue to rage futilely against the machine.

Suppose we did "throw all the bums out" and make the heads roll of the wall street crooks. Within the year, new crooks would have appeared like shark-teeth to replace them; and neither the ouster or the lack of change would be directly due to the protestations of the disenfranchised. The guys chosen to replace after the ouster could even be angels (though this probability approaches 0), and it still wouldn't fix the accountability shield that the modern state gives it's agents. Like lord Acton said, power corrupts; and sovereign immunity is as close to absolute power as it gets.

The question arises, though, why do we have government who's agents and friends (corporations) are effectively above the law thanks to liability shields (sovereign immunity and the corporate veil, respectively)? Weren't all the western democracies founded on the liberal principles of equality under the law? Universal Brotherhood? Didn't we make all of these fancy charters and constitutions and other straight jackets to keep the government responsive to our wills, rather than doing as it pleases? How on earth could ALL of them fail? Well, it's because they all have a fundamental defect; they didn't know how power really works.

The notion of the state has always been one of violence and coercion. If people do something "wrong", the government is there to force them to do "right", or at least exact vengeance. They can only accomplish this by acquiring the means to destroy. Well, if you can't destroy without first acquiring something which was created, which is the more fundamental power? Clearly, it is creation. So, consider this: perhaps voting (determining who is in office) is not so important as how much creative power you "give" the government. In the end it's power that matters. That's why no set of laws will stop a government which has acquired enough to overpower it's citizens.

Consider any other physical object -- you cannot move it if you do not have enough power; enough leverage. You want a good purchase on whatever you grasp, lest it slip from your hands. Anything which can exert it's own force will have to be overpowered. Now consider government -- do you or any other person think you have the power to move it? No, you have to band together, and try to use it's own power against it (judo throw); this is why we have corporations. Where did the government get all this power such that we need to go to such lengths just to make it serve our interests?

In our world, creative power is represented by money and other assets which represent purchasing power (creation). Well, if we are to keep the government accountable to the will of the people, we must have some rationing mechanism; some way in which we can restrict their flow of money when we are displeased. Sadly, the rationing mechanisms are called "Tax evasion", "Terrorism" and "Black Marketeering", any of which will get the full force of the state to smash those who try.

This is because our governments all acquire their power in fundamentally illiberal means; it is just raw force. Involuntary Taxation is the norm; it is barely different in the way it is carried out than a mafia protection racket. Fiat Money debasement, the other tool of the tyrant, can only work with legal tender laws (which is, again, force).

So, if OWS is to actually accomplish their goal of a system which satisfies their needs, they have to strike at the root. Demand honest money and voluntary financing of government; accept no substitutes. Otherwise, you won't get what you want. After all, thanks to withholding and Fiat currency, they already have your money. Why should they listen to you?


One thing a Statist should NEVAR do πŸ”— 1439057914  

From time to time, I keep seeing posts from various sources, whether they be as a link in some comment or even a full blown article making the argument that if you hate Taxes/The State/Welfare Programs/Infrastructure but simultaneously utilize some government offered service, then you are obviously some sort of sociopathic hypocrite. This, of course, fails on many levels to be a logically consistent argument.

First, hypocrisy implies deception, which may not always be the case. I very seriously doubt that most who advocate for Smaller Government/Minarchism/Anarchy actually are massive statists "on the down low" (unless, perhaps, you happen to be a politician). You may be able to legitimately say that many of these people do not 'practice what they preach', but even then, there are many who, through their writings/speech, have made it clear that under whatever system they 'preach,' it's still okay to accept state "services", whether that acceptance is voluntary or forced.

Then again, Libertarians (and Commies!) can also make this mistake - sometimes even resulting in double the dissonance:


can you spot Schiff's error?

Still, in the interest of simultaneously "Striking the Root" and arguing in Bad Faith, I'll go one better to statists with a list of prohibitions they should comply with in order to avoid "hypocrisy":

   1. Do not engage in free exchange and association. Instead make all relations mandatory.

What? You were wanting more? Too bad. Since you have such faith in the state, you should be pleased to know that there will be no market failures or externalities to worry about anymore. This is because you'll be too busy dealing with extreme privation to worry about anything like that if you follow the rule above. I think I can be fairly certain, however, that I don't have to worry about leading anyone down this ever so consistent path, as facts don't matter and language controls perceptions.

Hmm. Not bad for a first blog post. Now that the bile has been cleared from my throat, maybe I can get to work on some decent posts - I've been in an Aesop mood recently.


Bitcoin: Hologram of Cryptocurrency πŸ”— 1439057913  

I wrote an earlier post going over bitcoin. In it, I made a prediction that it would be more successful than most suspect, and I stand by that...but upon reflection, not for the reasons cited there. I was always suspicious about one or two technical parts of bitcoin, and the interview with one of the big bitcoin movers & shakers on the Peter Schiff show, along with Gavin Andressen's visit to the CIA have not helped such. Considering the history of cryptocurrencies, I could not believe that anyone would want to get the government involved in any way. Cypherpunks hate the government's control, and would not even try to sidle up to the powers that be...so I am forced to conclude that this has nothing to do with the cypherpunk movement, and their primary child, the cryptocurrency. The fact that you see almost no mention whatsoever of J. Orlin Grabbe's DMT, TruLedger or even lucre/opentransactions on the Bitcoin Forum, or practically any bitcoin information source gives me great pause. This, along with a few other things have led me to the conclusion that bitcoin is not a cryptocurrency, but a hologram[1] of a cryptocurrency.

To summarize my previous article, Bitcoin is basically the same as dollars from a technical standpoint but with the added advantages of being scarce, and not being controlled by the FED banking cartel. I think I left out the most important reason things will succeed, which I thought at the time was a fairly trivial conclusion to make based on the lack of FED control. That advantage would be that anybody can get in on the seigniorage train; bitcoin is literally a gold rush. Add these tough economic times to all the unemployed hipsters with computers and that's about all you need to conclude bitcoin isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

It is worth noting what I am not saying here though; gold is scarce and not controlled by a banking cartel...plus it can't be physically destroyed like bitcoin wallets can be done with a keystroke. So why would anyone use BtC over gold? Well, it would have to be a cryptocurrency to have an edge; and I did not define explicitly what that was. The primary selling point of cryptocurrency is that it cannot be tracked, not that it is possible not to be tracked. Bitcoins all contain a transaction history, ergo they are all unique, ergo they are imminently traceable...unless you launder them. Which is the real problem. If one has to go out of your way to launder things, the government can criminalize such an act, and the ability to evade taxes and exchange controls (the reason to have cryptocurrency in the first place) as a matter of form is basically gone.

There are other systems that did (and do!) have real untraceability, yet can be used in transactions credibly (as the tokens are basically reciepts, as laid out here). I even linked to them in the introduction...so why no mention? Why the trying to be friends with the government? And why did this currency initially billed as a proof of concept take off? All the arguments I used to justify bitcoin in my previous analysis apply, yet are even stronger in the cases of bitcoin's competitors. It's sudden success is because it was the first decentralized one; the DMT, E-Gold and others being shut down cannot happen to bitcoin, despite it not being a cryptocurrency in the most important way.

However, the ability to modify bitcoin to not have transaction registers beyond the last one, and to make everyone's wallets a part of the network (and thus not destroyable) could be easily added. And such will be done; this will result in a pretty much perfect cryptocurrency, supposing it uses the strongest crypto it can. However, I doubt it will take over and kill bitcoin despite it being better for the intended purpose. This is because there will be a huge number of folks with a large vested interest (indeed there are several large interests already) in keeping bitcoin going, and the government, when confronted with a perfect cryptocurrency, will opt to stick with the devil it knows. That the bitcoin majors seem to be trying to cozy up to governments makes me think that they perhaps anticipate this; and to their credit, they see what little improvement this represents over the dollar as worth it.

It is a pity that in this regard, "worse is better". However, this does not change the fact that people will use the better form whether bitcoiners or the government wants them to; and this gives me hope due to the extreme police-stating that will be required to stop it. Anything that can kill a perfect cryptocurrency from being used will kill the imperfect one too; so maybe Gavin and Don Norman aren't so out there sidling up to the powers that be. Perhaps they think bitcoin could go from being a mere hologram, a false promise, into a Trojan horse. If it catches on enough to become widely legitimate, there will be no stopping real cryptocurrency from coming along and dealing the killing blow to asset taxation.

I think that may be a bridge too far, however. Governments will NOT like having their seigniorage gravy train taken away; this is a serious barrier to becoming legitimate. Furthermore, if things are forced by a dollar collapse, it is more likely that gold rises back to the top than bitcoin. So, I think we have to go back to the strategy of the cypherpunks: Use barter dead dropping (like with TruLedger) and real cryptocurrency to take yourself out of the system. Run, silent, run deep. Withdrawal of consent from the current system is what is required for real change.


Notes:

[1]The archaic definition of hologram: a document falsely representing itself as an accurate metaphor.

Bitcoin: The Golden Apple of Eris πŸ”— 1439057912  

Bitcoin is a new currency that has taken the web by storm. There are many touting and decrying it, and most doing so are missing the point entirely. This new currency based on ancient ideas will win the world, and here's why.

There have been many currencies that have risen and fallen throughout history; they all rise and fall for the same reasons. No currency has intrinsic value (due to all market value being subjective); in every case money is only an easy to carry placeholder for something of real value*. Throughout time, that was usually some commodity; eventually gold was settled on due to its easy subdivision and high scarcity. However, these placeholders were (and are) always done in by fraud. Many (banks, usually) would issue more placeholders than were warranted by their wealth on hand, and somebody would get wise. Such would result in a hiccup in the economy whilst all goods are revalued; Or if such is disallowed, thanks to price controls or other coercion, the whole system would collapse in a crisis of confidence.

The reason this fraud (fractional reserves) occurs is because people forget that money is not wealth. An increase in the amount of money in circulation does not make you wealthier, as such is simply a claim on said wealth. More claims just means the share of the wealth is now redistributed towards the party which holds the new claims.

So, keeping this in mind, why will bitcoin succeed over the modern fiat currencies?

First, there is no technical reason that the transfer of bitcoins will be any more difficult than that of the other modern currencies. All modern currencies are effectively digital currencies, as most of their outstanding supply is but digits on a ledger, which is no different from bitcoin. This will allow bitcoin to achieve the high velocity needed to facilitate global trade; the volume of trades achieved in this early stage already reflects this. Bitcoin can be used in personal transactions. Bitcoin has Escrow services.

Second, it has many excellent advantages over the other modern currencies. As all modern currencies are controlled centrally by governments through their quasi-private "central banking" cartels, the people have as much power over monetary policy as they do over their government (which is laughably small, even in the most advanced democracies). As such, the government is capable of treating the savings denominated in that currency of said people like a piggy bank to be looted at the stroke of a key. Bitcoin, being generated by the users themselves, and having a strict cap on the number of coins which can ever be in circulation, is immune to such depredation. Supposing that bitcoins themselves continue to be traded (rather than markers representing bitcoins on deposit at some bank), we will not see bubbles and their resultant collapses.

Furthermore, due to being a cryptocurrency, it is trivially easy to evade income and wealth taxation using bitcoin. Since bitcoin "wallets" are easily held and secured by individuals, one needs but to avoid banks and baliments to escape levies. Furthermore, due to the transactions being encrypted, and the amount changing hands being known only to the transacting parties, valuation by a taxing authority is effectively impossible. "Following the money" in bitcoins is practically impossible, due to the trivial ease and untraceability of laundering said bitcoins. Like in Elizabethan Brittania, "every man will be master of his own valuation"**; and that sort of rules out the sort of leviathian states that are all the rage these days.

Finally, due to being peer-to-peer and encrypted, the ability of governments to shut down trade in bitcoins is severely limited. There are only 2 ways that governments can expect to completely stamp out bitcoin usage. The first is by forcing goods shipped in that country to verify it was purchased using their highly surveilled money; good luck doing that without world government, and even then the increase in transaction cost would be crippling to the economy.

Secondly, they could just shut the internet off forever. Such a remedy would be needed, due to the following factors:

  • domain seizure of vendors (such as SilkRoad) can be circumvented by not using domains at all
  • bitcoin traffic is indistinguishable from many other common online communications, so outlawing it is not feasible
  • the needed software to use bitcoin will not be able to be suppressed, as it is open source, and the internet has a way of keeping such things around
Even then, those few nations that value free trade religiously (like Singapore) will not outlaw this, as they see it is a clear benefit to them.

The government will have to resort to extremely tyrannical and intrusive measures which will have very deleterious economic effects if it wants to stop bitcoin. I see this as a plus, as there are several other methods of raising revenue that the government can resort to that are not obsoleted by bitcoin (such as poll taxes, tariffs and excises). Of course, the internet and globalism has struck a serious blow to both tariffs and excises, and most governments are loath to return to poll taxation (as it must be payable by all, and ergo must be low). So, many governments will resort to such repression; but they will be overcome eventually by those that accept the fact that the days of huge revenues via coercion may be over, and shrink their government to a size that can be sustained by poll taxes and/or donation.

Now there are some speed-bumps and other hazards that must be avoided if bitcoin is to live up to it's full potential.

First, there is always the risk that the encryption algorithm protecting it from counterfeit (and hence it's scarcity), SHA 256, is broken at some date in the future. Due to the projected computational difficulty of such a task, we do not expect such to be done anytime in the near future; but such will eventually become a concern. Now, it is possible to simply add new and stronger algorithms to the bitcoin network; but the holder of bitcoins would be wise to upgrade to higher grade encryption at the first opportunity; As when the lower grade encryption gets broken, transactions in bitcoins that have not yet been converted will likely not be accepted save for by the extremely foolish (probably a government).

Next, due to the convenience of escrow services and banking, we will likely forget once again that money is not wealth. As such, we may start trading in markers representing bitcoins, rather than the coins themselves; then we will fall into the same banker-trap we find ourselves in today.

Finally, (and most importantly) the currency has not yet gained widespread acceptance. Until a vast array of merchants accept it, it will remain but a speculative commodity; However, due to the pros listed above, I think most will come around in short order.

We must always remember that "good money" always beats "bad money" in the competition for who gets the highest velocity of money, supposing no exchange controls. Good money has the following qualities, while bad money does not:

  • Easily subdividable
  • Man portable
  • Scarce
  • Difficult to destroy by man and nature
Bitcoin has these qualities, and in ways that beat existing fiat currencies. As such, it will quickly gain such momentum as to make the governments of the world tremble in fear, and the people of the world rejoice.


Notes:

* Sometimes money is also something of real value, like gold. Then it's more of an extension of barter which eventually becomes money.

** See Adams "For good and evil" pp 242-245


How Steam could replace all consoles and even GameStop πŸ”— 1439057911  

Steam is one of many online software systems used to distribute computer games. Eventually, it's face will change when even AAA games start to be distributed by the browser; but the suggestions I will lay out here should apply regardless. It will also be applicable to all other online game distribution systems, and as you will see, can be generalized to the software market at large.

Games, like much software, is distributed under "licensing". Anything distributed via digital means is trivially easy to copy, and so the only way they can reasonably expect sales in a similar fashion to more traditional games (like board games) is to enforce their copyright via a end-user licensing agreement. This worked reasonably well when the software was distributed on physical media; and this sector still thrives thanks to re-selling used games being possible.

Online distribution, however, has not had the benefit to the consumer of being able to transfer ownership of a license to their software. Effectively, once you bought it, you are stuck with it, unless you sell your whole library of games you bought with that particular distribution service. This is not feasible for many gamers, as they have reputation and identity tied up with their distribution system (as many games' online component relies on said distribution service as a backend). So, why has the ability to transfer license even between users not been allowed yet?

It is obvious that transferring between distribution systems would not be a trivial task; being as the publishers and distributors would all have to get on the same page legally. But when it comes to peers inside a distribution system, there's no technical reason that licenses could not be transferred via auction. The reason such has not happened yet is because the publishers of the games is attempting to use the market power of the distribution system to suppress the used market, as they fear they would make less money. Their fears are not unfounded, as sales of used physical copies would attest. However, there are ways that the publishers could be accommodated which would satisfy the customers as well.

First, the publishers (or the distributors) could offer to buy back used licenses for some fraction of the new price, and then resell them at reduced price. This would satisfy the publishers, the sellers and the buyers, as each gets an economic benefit they would not have beforehand. Furthermore, the reduction in revenue from sales of new licenses could easily be made up for by the increased sales of used licenses, as they churn through multiple re-sellings. It is likely that this would maximize the revenues obtained in the long run.

Alternatively, an auction service could be set up where the sellers set the price, and a portion of the proceeds is kicked back to the distributor and publisher. This would provide actual market signaling, which is useful information to the publishers; if licenses sell on the used market at a discount or a premium, they can adjust their prices on new licenses to increase sales. Furthermore, if the licenses expire after a time, the market could discount them pro rata, and do many of the things that traditional commodity markets do.

I feel that the publishers will likely go for the first option, being as it gives them more control; however, experiments with the latter might just prove to be unexpectedly lucrative. I suspect the second would have the best application for games that can only sustain a certain number of users at a time, such as MMOs. Then due to the (somewhat) artificially restricted supply of seats on a server, the good games could command quite a premium on the market. On a small scale, this already goes on privately.

Of course, marketplaces like this would also be easy targets for VATs and other excises. Thankfully, the internet has successfully resisted such things for normal retail so far. Hopefully it takes a new world order to tax the internet; I think we can resist that for a good while yet. Maybe even the one-worlders won't be able to interfere, if the success of bitcoin and SilkRoad is any measure.


TSA grabs Texas by the genitals πŸ”— 1439057910  

See here.

The last time the feds threatened a blockade of a state was the start of the civil war. If this were carried out, it could rightly be considered an act of war against Texas -- which is treasonous as defined in the constitution. That the feds would resort to this kind of thuggery reflects very poorly on them. Especially since by doing so they shot down a bill that passed unanimously in the Texas house.

However, since it takes two to tango, the Texas legislature (wisely?) backed down. Nearly all the states could secede now and still get beat by the feds, so there's no point in trying to resist to that point. Moreso when Texas, Montana, and Utah are the only states remotely serious about nullification these days. As usual, the states will only be able to resist unfunded mandates. This is because the USA has, like Russia, become "a prison-house of nations" ever since the federal supremacy question was bloodily decided with the outcome of the civil war.

We all have to accept that the noble dream of a confederation of states like the Swiss have died long ago in America, replaced by a Roman-style republic. As such, we must recognize that the dictatorial tendencies of the executor will win out here in the end as well. Those wondering how we ended up with a corporate-fascist government would do well to take note of this.

Like the Roman empire, the feds will not give up control until they have reduced the people to a state in which they cannot even support being controlled. In the Roman days, the people all fled or sold themselves into slavery, as it beat being a citizen. Like the Assyrians of old, the USSR finally killed enough of it's own citizens that it no longer had any real tax base. This is because until then, they had the power to kill all their subjects at their whim; and there were always be enough psychopaths in the system to threaten or outright do it. America is no different in this regard.


Tax-The two perspectives πŸ”— 1439057909  

Not long ago, I got into a debate with someone as to the nature of taxation. I posited, as Anarcho-Capitalists are wont to do, that taxation is theft. Such seemed entirely reasonable to me, as Taxation is taking something from me without the choice of refusing said transfer. It is the very definition of theft.

They advanced "social contract" arguments to imply that somehow I had consented to such takings, which would make taxation no longer theft. This is the same belief the IRS holds when they state that the payment of income tax is voluntary. I advanced the argument that something that requires imprisonment for nonpayment could in no way be voluntary; however such argumentation was no more effective here than against the IRS.

Next, I advanced Spooner's argument that the social contract itself is invalid, as there is no time at which we agree to such a thing. My opponent then stated the classical government axiom that silence is consent, and then equated the fact that when the nature of the system became known to me that I did not leave the country. Notwithstanding the fact that the "leave it" part of "love it or leave it" is commonly not possible, this was the end of the argument for my opponent.

It was also lost on my opponent that being born into a state's "social contract" is a trait shared with chattel slavery. Point of fact, it is worth noting that all the arguments for the state's current existence are identical to those used in defense of slavery; but that is beyond the scope of this discussion.

It is logically inconsistent to state that the absence of consent implies consent; and it is the same manner of fallacious reasoning to believe that correlation implies causation. When one hears this argument put forth, you realize that there is no further purpose belaboring your point, as their axioms are not yours. The axiom that differs here is that I believe that men are born, live and die as free people. The only thing that can make my opponent's argument consistent would be if they believe that we are not free, but slaves.

To be fair, I cannot blame most for taking such a perspective. There are two primary narratives for how civilization came to be, and which you believe has profound effects on which axiom you take to heart and do not. I believe that Franz Oppenheimer's perspective as advanced in The State that it starts and ends as a glorified protection racket. Most are not taught this by the state-run schools (for I should think obvious reasons).

The narrative that the statist defends is the one advanced by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. He posits that in ages long past we were all enslaved by the tyrannical despots of the past, but things gradually got better. Through a long fight, we acquired freedom, liberty, and all that; and are currently not ruled by any but ourselves...well if you believe what we were taught in school, anyways. The troubling part to me is the same thing that troubled Nozick...that at no part in his "tale of the slave" did we cease being enslaved. Is our republic nothing but enslavement to a larger number of masters, or rather a master with more heads?

As I have read Spooner and Hoppe, I know the answer is that republicanism and democracy are both still slavery to the state. The natural thing that falls out of such a philosophy is not only the divine right of kings, and "the people"; but it also means consent is irrelevant. The master cares not for the will of the slave.

Perhaps this is why so many of those advancing such arguments are determinists. It certainly would make coping with such a perceived situation that much easier.


The Shutdown πŸ”— 1439057908  

So, the government is set to shut down on friday...or so it is said. In truth, nothing of the sort will happen; many have made the point that through some accounting tricks, the checks can be kept from bouncing till sometime this fall. The government is not losing its income overnight just because congress has abdicated responsibility regarding the budget (and the wars, and the out of control breauracracies, etc, etc...) And, they can also just keep printing (for another year or so, anyways) to cover obligations until enough nations refuse to accept dollars for exports.

Earlier I offered three possible outcomes of the impending crisis. Whether a "shutdown" occurs this friday could be the deciding factor. If we do not shutdown, and kick the can, we are restricted to two less violent alternatives, which, I suppose is good. The most likely at this point is hyperinflation. Thanks to the nice trap our debt has us in, we can't raise interest rates to the point it will ever put a dent in inflation ever again. That makes an Obama re-election less likely, and a Ron-Paul election more and more likely. Which short-term sounds pretty good to me, but the high likelyhood Ron has the reign of Pertinax when the military-industrial complex realizes he is shutting them down still makes this outcome uncertain. If Obama makes it, we are pretty much guaranteed to get hyperinflation, as He'll just stay the course of the decider.

However, if we do get the shutdown, this is the president's chance to cross the rubicon. I do not doubt that he could get away with siezing the power of the purse from the house, which would make his tyranny complete. I pray that if he "doesn't let this crisis go to waste", he will be a caesar augustus rather than a Joe Stalin...but I don't have high hopes in that regard. Hopefully this isn't the reason he announced his re-election bid this week.

Personally, I think we're gonna get a shutdown, to the surprise of everyone. Maybe it's because I'm relentlessly contrarian, or maybe it's because I see that it could benefit both parties. The dems get to rail against the evil republicans for starving widows and orphans, and the Republicans get to be percieved as attacking "big government" while doing nothing of the sort. In bizarre fashion, this can be seen as pandering to the electorate; especially when they realize that whichever side "wins" the debate gets to offer the solution to the crisis they created themselves. Also, the shutdown will likely kill any chances the tea party and Ron Paul have at changing things, which is probably the biggest reason the parties have to make the shutdown happen. They will most certainly be scape-goated for any shutdown.

Whoever "wins" the debate on how to solve the shutdown (if it happens), I think, determines whether the president will carpe diem. If the dems win, they want it to be seen as the president's solution winning; they'll soon regret their enthusiasm when they realize they have been neutered. One of those "don't dig a ditch for your neighbor to fall into, for you surely will fall in yourself" moments. If the repubs win, the president will officially be the enemy. Good luck becoming dictator then. Of course, they'll try to set up Newt to do the same in 2012, but that's looking a bit too far ahead.

If given the opportunity, the president actually doesn't sieze the power of the purse, I would be supremely perplexed. He has shown himself a capable liar and doesn't seem to care about those killed by his military; all the markings of a capable sociopath. I might be forced to conclude he's a moron too, if I don't see some obviously extenuating circumstances. Like marionette strings.

I don't see at the moment why the monied interests behind him wouldn't be for him siezing power. It would take them putting aside short term greed for some longer term goal...which might make sense if his backers truly are part of a global illuminist conspiracy for one world government. But not if his backers are just a bunch of greedy companies trying to loot the empire, which I think is quite a bit closer to the truth...even if they say they're one-worlders.


Maybe Prince was right about the Internet πŸ”— 1439057907  

There's a problem with our current DNS (Domain Name System). It is somewhat related to the current crisis, that of "running out" of ipv4 addresses, but only marginally. The solution to that crisis (a larger address space, called IPv6), will not remedy the issue which concerns me. Though not switching would only encourage monopoly, it is still not as an important issue in the long run as the centralized nature of such addressing itself.

Our current addressing system has a one-to-one mapping to a system which everyone is already familiar with (the postal system). Consider the following:

SystemThing AddressedDistribution of payloadsIssuance of addresses
Parcel Postreal propertyUSPS, DHL, UPSPostmaster General
InternetserversName ServersThe IANA

It does not take a genius to realize that such a centralized system (it is a traditional hierarchy) is susceptible to abuse by those at the top. For a system to be truly fault tolerant, it must be incapable of being decapitated and incapable of being abused and distorted by the head. Our current DNS system is somewhat resistant to decapitation, being as it has 13 "heads" in the form of the DNS root servers. However, it has been repeatedly abused by the owners to censor name-servers (via removing from the listing on a root), and to seize IP addresses and aliases (domain names). Furthermore, there are many who simply "squat" on domains, and sell them in a manner similar to scalping tickets.

In order to overcome these weaknesses, some have set up alternative root zones. These are traditionally known as "darknets", as they are not concurrently viewable by a single observer. This is obviously a sub-optimal solution, as now we have a lot of hierarchical systems with a party that could abuse it's authority. We could replace the authority with something that is not likely to be abused (such as a force of nature), but then we still need some party to provide routing data. An example would be something like an extremely precise usage of longitude and latitude, coupled with a wireless mode of communication for all parties. However, this solution gains vulnerability to disruption (decapitation), and is thus suboptimal.

So what is the solution? A non-hierarchical (peer-to-peer) system. Some would lambaste such as being tantamount to anarchy (which it is), whilst forgetting that the nature of life employs an identical system. There can be no two identical beings alive, even when cloned, they hold differing state. Such is also true of computer hardware. Thankfully, there is such a system; but it requires us to look back in time, and consider why in particular it did not win out.

NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NBT) was a simple way for small TCP/IP networks to set up host names amongst themselves, so that you don't have to remember IP addresses. This is still used on most home and small business networks, and primarily for this very good reason: Host names do not require a centralized issuing authority. The reason DNS won out over this also fairly simple. The mechanism by which NBT verifies that there are no duplicate hostnames is by shooting out a broadcast packet asking them to identify themselves. It does not take a PhD to realize this, while easy from a computational perspective, is quite intensive on the network, and could require you to have a truly enormous pipe in to handle all the responses on the wider internet.

There are ways, however, that this can scale nearly as large as one wants it to. The first tweak to make would be to allow (but not require) hosts to control domains of other hosts (which in todays parlance would be called sub-domains). This would be fairly easy for ISPs and corporations to roll out, as it is roughly analogous to how they currently do things. Many ISPs and simply have one static IP address, and then use NAT to funnel it through their gateway. Many corporations accomplish the same thing by having all sub-hosts proxy through a few gateways. These techniques would reduce the overall number of hosts exposed to the greater internet. It is worth noting that even DNS does this.

Next, we could borrow another technique from the domain name system. We could use powerful servers with the large amounts of bandwidth needed to handle broadcast responses, and to cache routes to known hosts. The traffic could be further kept down by only doing the broadcast by these giants once or twice a day.

Considering that these techniques are needed to make DNS work in the first place, I suspect that NBT would work just fine when using these techniques. So, why did it lose out, and DNS win? Well, it is because it's greatest strength (no need to get permission from a central switching station for hostnames) is also it's greatest weakness. Again, like life, when a system goes down, it's name dies with it; subsequently said name can now be used by anyone else wanting it.

Considering the flock of vultures that already swoop up expired domains, you can imagine how much more this would be hated by anyone who has come to rely on a brand, or a trademark. This could be extenuated by using large hostname cache servers; if they made known their discovery schedules, you could have opportunity to get back up before the next scan. But, also consider how much is charged for the most desired domain names; it may end up much cheaper to have redundant systems to achieve 100% uptime than to hold a domain (especially in the future when things are likely to become more, not less, monopolized).

So, that's why we got an internet that mirrors the Dracula-life of the corporation and governments. Because it is useful to them to be that way. But, it is nice to know that we can set up a parallel network in which free communication would be much, much harder to stamp out. Perhaps we should start work on that.


Metamaterials and the Holy Grail of Human Association πŸ”— 1439057906  

Though often neglected, materials science has been the source of almost all important technological advancement in the last 50 years or so. From transistors to lightbulb filaments, we have found ways to exceed all expectations and smash the barriers before us. The latest discovery has the potential to change the way humans interact with one another forever. That discovery would be metamaterials.

A metamaterial is an object, which thanks to it's specific properties has a negative refractive index with regard to some particular wavelength of electromagnetic radiation. This means that it neither absorbs nor reflects such radiation; instead said force bends around it, as if it were a hole in the world. All of the sudden, it became possible to become physically invisible to all manner of detection. Sure enough, within two years of the discovery of the theoretical possibility of such materials, something invisible to microwave radiation appeared. In another year, the visible spectrum has been defeated.

Of course, the technologies described here have not yet been commercialized, and they will be quite expensive for some time, as their construction is not trivial at this point. However, through layering (with visible on the outermost layer), it has become possible to create shielding which would work against all EM frequencies. It is also possible we find a material which has negative refraction to whatever frequency of electricity is run through it, which would turn out to be the most useful of all worlds.

All this is very good news for liberty; since liberty is based on the principle of voluntary association, and the ability to vanish at will greatly aids with one's ability to resist coercion. However, this is not yet the "holy grail" of human association; that being a simple method for one to make one's self immune (or very close to such) to physical force. Metamaterials are a natural candidate for such a role, as it is infinitely easier to deflect force than to simply resist it. Given the relationship of EM radiation and matter itself, it is not a huge leap to realize materials which negatively refract energy in the solid phase is possible.

You might think that such a thing would be an impossibility, as people might just come up with more effective weapons in the future. However, consider this. RSA encryption is a rough analogue to such a concept for data. The data cannot be compromised for long key lengths (which are nearly trivial to set up) with the combined computational force of the entire planet. Now, since data is just energy, and so is matter, it is not a long leap to realize a similar technique could be used to shield matter. Such an analogue would result in a shield that takes a fraction of the energy to set up as it takes to tear it down. Theoretically, one could make one so effective as to resist even nuking for millenia with something as simple as a coal power plant. Similarly, all small arms (even bazookas) could be easily resisted with the equivalent of a few AA batteries. This would have the consequence of making voluntary association the only viable method of human interaction.

Though there are many roadblocks in the way of this becoming a reality, and gaps in our knowledge, I still must conclude it is but a matter of time before such things become a reality. The powers of the world will likely rage against this for an unknown length of time, and will try to prevent such technology's spread...but they will eventually fail. So, we should get used to the idea of governance by unanimous consent and voluntarism; as it will become the only option left for humanity.


Arguing with Idiots πŸ”— 1439057905  

Recently people have been talking about argumentation more and more, probably due to all this "heated rhetoric" surrounding the Loughner case. A lot of people have been tossing around theories on how or how not the discourse should be, and I haven't seen any recent source that is actually correct. This is despite many (such as the ancient Greeks) having the word on this long ago. The most recent example of this I've seen is Graham's "How to disagree". Of course, this hasn't stopped the most recent idiotic "cure" for all the "hate speech"; requiring citation by a third party (preferably someone with a rep) for all of one's points. I guess the wikiPedos have gotten that influential now.

The reason this argument is 100% worthless is because there are plenty of people in officialdom who are more than willing to engage in the lowest manner of discussion (name calling, ad-hominems) that can be cited. Or Just Lie. This certainly won't elevate the discussion for those who bother to read the citations, and will hoodwink skimmers. Furthermore, there is a value to original research; where do you think all these lightbulbs and stuff came from?

tl;dr, all you wokopoodoos should gb2 Unoriginalcontent.org and keep forcing memes, since that's what you want debate to be.


Loughne Nuts and Knee Jerks πŸ”— 1439057904  

So there's been a lot of talk about the bozo what popped rep. Giffords, 2 Judges, a kid and a few others. Personally, I could care less about what happens to people that I not only do not know and are physically removed from me by several thousand miles; there are plenty of other more local things that have more worthwhile claim on my emotional capital. Nonetheless, one cannot escape talking about it, as the mainstream media has made it their mission to keep people's minds off of the things that could actually matter to them and replace it with sensationalist bullshit. I don't blame the media for this entirely, it would not be so popular if people didn't need something to keep their minds off of the mundane reality of their lives. Otherwise people might get bored and start riots, businesses, or do something meaningful with their lives; and we all know nothing good can come of that...

So, why write about this at all? Well, had the story stayed "Congressman survives assassination attempt; the nation is disappointed", there would have been nothing to say. However, like Columbine, 9/11, and many other incidents, people have started falling over themselves to excuse or explain his behavior in one way or another. That anyone thinks we will ever know the true motivation here is humorous; people can (and have) acted crazy and kept secrets to their graves. Nonetheless, it's a chance for the state-worshipers and quacks to trot out their old chestnut of a theory that nobody is in control of their own thoughts or actions.

That of course, is what I take issue with. This belief, at it's heart, is nihilism; when nobody is in control of their own actions, nothing matters at all. If we are but clockwork, and controlled by some other force, this raises two interesting questions:

  • How would changing anyone or anything purported to be the "corrupting influence" change the outcome? Furthermore, how could we change it in the first place?
  • Who or what is the puppet master of this diorama?

The first question, being largely rhetorical, answers itself. The second, however, is more interesting. The statists believe that collective figments of our imaginations (governments, corporations) have control over our lives, and believe that authority to be legitimate, even when they consider the direction they are being controlled unwise. They do not stop to think that their ability to think critically about their leaders' policies invalidates the legitimacy of any control over their lives by these institutions. Nor do they consider the origins of these institutions requiring free will at some point; the hardest of the hard core will fall back on a "turtles all the way down" argument when push comes to shove.

Speaking of turtles all the way down, it is especially humorous when I hear atheists espouse these sort of arguments, as they elevate something (be it simple algorithms in DNA, chemicals, people, or institutions) to godhood in the process. This is because even with the best theory supporting this nonsense yet (that of quantum probability and the many-worlds interpretations) still says jack squat about what or why one quantum event happens as opposed to another. There's just as much evidence that our thoughts control quantum probability as that of some god doing it (I.E. No evidence whatsoever). You will find that when it comes to whether things are predestined or whether our will is truly free, that there is no evidence supporting EITHER SIDE!

So, in conclusion, what the media is really doing here is not talking politics; it's talking religion. 'Cause when it comes to consciousness, UFOs, gods, and other things without conclusive evidence either way, you gotta HABEEB something. So, given that choice, I chose what any completely rational (read: emotional) person would do, and chose free will. Because otherwise there's no hope for the future, and people can read your minds.

For those of you still unconvinced led to believe that we aren't in control of our actions, and that our excited utterances reliably convey our intent, consider this:

  • Loughner stated that he could read people's minds. This belief seems to be in line with yours.
  • He also believed that grammar was controlling our actions. This belief seems consistent with yours.

iseewhatyoudidthere.jpg


Freaking Doomed πŸ”— 1439057903  

There's really only one relevant issue to our government at the moment, and that is whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. At first glance to most people, this would be a no-brainer, since the immediate consequences of not raising the ceiling are quite severe, as government checks start bouncing sometime in march-April. However, what people do not talk about is that the day when government checks bounce is coming whether we raise the ceiling or not; it merely comes later if we decide to kick this can. This is for several reasons:

  • The amount of current spending per annum is larger than tax receipts
  • Tax receipts (revenue) will not be increased and spending will not decrease, as congress values incumbency above all other things
  • State finances are on the brink of imminent collapse; we can expect a large and costly bailout in the immediate future
  • The amount of debt outstanding is so large, that were interest rates to rise by just 2%, we could never even pay the interest even if the government confiscated 100% of income each year.

If we go ahead and keep borrowing despite the above factors, this has several interesting consequences:

  • We can expect the fed funds rate to stay at zero, which will force commodity prices up until we have another collapse of the general market.
  • As an additional consequence of such cheap money (and the obvious returns of bubbled markets), companies will invest rather than employ with this "stimulus", and unemployment will not improve.
  • The resultant bailout of banks and large hedge funds and corporations will likely be of such magnitude as to significantly increase our debt load, further making us insensitive to interest rate hikes

Do you see where this is going? Eventually we get to the point where no rate above zero allows us to pay down our collateral, regardless of our attempts to grow revenue. The predictions differ on how long this will take, but most of the smart money is on about 2-3 years tops. Add the unemployment picture, and near the end the misery in this country will be close to what is described as "financial armageddon" by those who have analyzed what not raising the debt ceiling will do. And that's if "bond vigilantes" don't make us default first by refusing to lend without punitive interest!

As always, when given the choice to take our lickings now, or later (but with more lashings); we will opt for later and regret it in a big way when the reckoning day finally comes. The form it will take is still up for grabs; nobody knows whether it will be a zim-style printing, a simple shutdown of the government until it saves up enough revenues and reduces expenditures to function once more, or a bloody revolt when the government steals everything they can get their hands on to cover obligations.

I personally am leaning towards the latter; as riots will likely grip the country when people realize that their SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Unemployment Insurance, Food Stamps, and Social Security checks are going to bounce soon. Our government is well prepared to institute martial law in response (which is the only response governments have EVER had to such situations, anyways); this will be a good excuse to get away with any confiscatory scheme. As an added bonus, (what is left) of the USA has a high probability of escaping the situation with a dictator.

If the government does the hard (but right) thing, and shuts down, we can expect nearly all federal land to be sold in short order, and the old budget thrown away and replaced with something more sensible. Now congress is talking about bringing spending down to 08 (2008) levels; but when they get really serious here, they'll be thinking more along the lines of 1908 levels. Some states/territories (AK, HI, PR, Guam in particular) may be sold to other nations.

If we hyper-inflate, the USA is hosed. Expect the worst of both previous scenarios, but with famine added to the picture. Note that in all of these scenarios, we can expect secession from one or more states when they realize there is no benefit to being in the union any longer.

In short, this is how I learned to stopped worrying and love the congress. It does not matter what the government does anymore, really; we end up in roughly the same place anyways. The only thing personally to do is try and escape notice as hard as possible, whilst secreting away what you can. I must admit, that Thundering Mogambo Moron (TMM) was right all along.

Don't Belive me? Timothy Geithner has something to say about that - so do others.


Kenny Bloggins πŸ”— 1439057902  

Last year I started to use Google reader to follow things in the news, and to keep up with what other folks I knew thought interesting. This has been quite the mind sharpening exercise, if only because the amount I read went up from roughly 100 pages to about 200 daily. As a result, I've learned more than I ever expected; certainly more that was useful then the entirety of my schooling. Also, through the comment system there, I've gained a lot of clarity of thought through the argumentation facilitated there. However, the more one reads and writes, the more one wants to; it's a vicious cycle that ends with one being a pompous windbag at worst, and an opinion leader at best (and sometimes both!) With that in mind, I've decided to descend even further into said madness and become the worst kind of degenerate scum; a blogger.

When I thought about it, I realized that I'd forgotten what the word "blog" even meant; I suspect nearly everyone has. I think it was a log on the web (shortened weblog), but I think journal always a bit more apt. Digression aside, I realized there was a choice ahead of me; that being how I wanted to go about it. There are two main distinctions in blogging, and I had to come down on one side or the other, and it all has to do with comments.

The traditional blog has comments below each post; and roughly anyone can post fairly easily. This has lots of drawbacks however, the main one being the excessive amount of moderation required due to rampant spam and shitposting. A blog has to become very large before enough people care about it to have anyone insightful in the bunch commenting. Until then, you have to deal with the depressing prospect of either no comments, bad/useless comments, and spam being the only comments at all. If you've ever seen the comments on youtube videos, this is what I'm talking about.

As you must have surmised by now, I am not too keen on that idea. I built this site around the principles that involve me doing as little work as possible; Nearly everything is just dynamically generated based on files I just unceremoniously dumped in some directory. Also, due to running a BB for a while (and doing so again), I hate spam comments with an extreme passion. Though I know such can be kept under control (I have administrated wordpress blogs for folks), I know it's more work than not having to deal with it. So, I looked at a decidedly different model; disallowing comments completely.

This is not a decision to be taken lightly, as comments can add lots of value; Indeed some blogs have comments that are far more insightful than the original post! However, this does not mean one cannot have a good site without them; on the contrary, most web 1.0 "internet celebrities" basically just posted essays and corresponded by email. Some would post up some of the interesting mail (or hilarious hate mail), and thus preserve the spirit of comments. Also, with the advent of things like Google reader, folks can still make meaningful comments amongst themselves. I've found that commenting on stuff only your friends are seeing decidedly stops spam and shitposting.

So, I decided I'd take the old-school approach, and tell everyone to just mail me, comment in the forum, or get on irc if they want to talk about it. Hopefully this will force me to write higher quality posts that don't reek of USI like all mine so far.

Back to how much I rule


My Super Blog πŸ”— 1439057901  

I wrote this blog system in less time than it took to set up wordpress.

I never have to worry about any spam either. Shit is SO cash.

If you want to comment, make a thread in the forum and I'll link to it.


welcome πŸ”— 1439057900  

Yeah, it's a blog. Get over it.


Kops let man die instead of allowing CPR πŸ”— 1439035548  

First responder was the man's mom. Truly heartless psychos on the force, as usual.

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