I saw a chapel all of gold that none did dare to enter in, and many weeping aloud without, weeping, mourning, worshipping. I saw a serpant rise between the white pillars of the door, and he forced and forced and forced, till down the golden hinges tore; And along the pavement sweet set with pearls and rubies bright, all his shining length he drew, -- till upon the alter white, vomited his poison out on the bread and on the wine. So I fled into a sty, and laid me down among the swine. W. Blake, The Defiled Sanctuary
There are no unarguable axioms of value or worth, there are only inclinations and my inclinations have turned to an intense loathing of institutions, and most of the people in them; those spineless supplicants agape at the passing of other men's ideas, not drawn by desire, but driven by fear and ignorance, to the tepid hearth of institutionalism. One may argue as to the qualities of a passing man's wife, but as a life philosophy it can only appeal to self-loathing celibates. How much better the subjective stance which curls the mind around the lovely creature in one's embrace! This perception etched into me when I attended an Australian Institute of Physics conference at ANU with 900 career physicists, the body of which were snivelling fearful conformists of woefully, woefully inferior character. For every Feynman or Lorentz, 100 pen pushing wretches scratching each others eyes out in academic committees or building better bombs for the DSTO (Defence Science & Technology Organisation), who had provided everyone with a bag, embossed with their logo, which most physicists pathetically lugged about with pride and ignorance. A year before, also at ANU, I represented my university at the Australian National Physics Competition. At the prize ceremony, the head of ANU physics, motioned to us and said, 'You are the cream of Australian physics'. I looked around, and thought, 'Christ Almighty, I hope he's wrong'.
There is a foundation (herein called "the Institute") which holds some of my copyrights and which I have used from time to time as a front, gently concealing my freedom from the social covenant. There are activities that the Institute should engage in that require substantial cash reserves. Normally NGOs beg, but I'm no good at that sort of thing, so the the Institute has created an offshore startup company ("thing2thing.com") to fund it. This little seed has pushed through into the light from the dark loam wherein ideas are born and now calls for gardeners and manure. To supply them the Institute will pool auction off 40% of the company over two months (i.e angel investors get their investment / total investment of the 40% auctioned) to anyone who will invest. There's no higher reason for this approach, it is a method of gaining initial funding. There are two dilemmas (di-lemma = "two truths". 2 dilemmas = 4 truths). The investment. It is a great blessing to have courage and foresight that results in wealth producing rather than wealth destroying acts. However foresight is limited and the connection between dividends and the intelligence of the original investment, assuming there ever was one, slowly dwindles to zero, whittled away by fate's unrelenting peturbations of man's activities; above this plunging donkey, dividend payments may soar exponentially till they yearn for the Islamic opprobrium on unearned wealth. Now this very possibility, this pleasant vision of pocketing of the dividend fatwa, increases investment without increasing investment discrimination unless some investments can be seen to exclude this eventuality. Dilemma#1 There is thought of engineering investments so that after a substantial return, dividends are transformed into a donation to the Institute or some other charity, but this will reduce total investment, perhaps resulting in a net evil, since we define the Institute's ability to act as a good. Examining the extremes, we see immediately that if the company makes nothing, the Institute makes less than nothing and the investors make less than nothing while if the investors receive substantial unearned wealth, then the Institute is well funded and able to act. But wealth flows from the ongoing daily labors of those running the startup. Here we see the disparity. Their labor is ongoing and connected to wealth production at all times. Individuals who start companies try to minimise share dilution while maximising investment. While larger companies will sell bonds or borrow at market rates, startups succeed in attracting investors to their roulette table by offering the carnal vision of l'amour without l'commitment. Can we reinvent the bordello? This brings me to the next dilemma. Dilemma#2 How should employees, if that word is not too psychologically confining, be compensated for their time and abilities? ''anyway they want to be'' for supply and demand works for novel compensation schemes just as it works for traditional wages. So my question becomes, 'given that the founders loathe paperwork & consensus and need to satisfy investors that their investment isn't going to be entirely returned in form of employee stock options, what is left to offer employees? How can their hearts be opened to the new?'
On Mon, 26 Jun 2006 23:45:29 -0400, "Stephen Dewey"
So I've asked the question "What is lightning?". Usually I get the older kids (who've learnt a few things at school) saying "Electricity", "static electricity", "electric current", "a flow of electric charges". And younger kids say things like "It's a bright light", "a bolt from the sky", "it happens in a storm", "it's a light that comes with a big bang". This time, I got emotive/experiential words - very unusual. I'd ask what lightning was, and they'd say "It's scary". "It's loud". "It's exciting". "It's noisy".The younger children's descriptions are powerful, communicatable phenominological descriptions of nature. The older children's descriptions are useless, unexperienced rules that they've learnt to regurgitate. One may as well say 'God makes it go'. And that is preceicely the point, authority makes it go. By being an adult asking for a question to which she obviously already knew the answer, she had given them some kind of regurgitation context. The older children give answers that fit social expections not answers that are meaningful --- because the social expectation is to produce meaningless answers! The younger children are not yet sophisticated enough at understanding social context so reveal what they really think i.e something with predictive and descriptive power. Why do things fall to earth? Answering 'gravity' only tells you about a rule human beings have agreed on. The rule is, when asked why stuff falls one should reply with the word 'gravity' and not, say 'love' or 'God'. But it is a pleasure to say that apples 'love' planets just as much as planets 'love' apples and that 'love' fades with inverse square distance. Ah huh! There is your true content, it's the predictive description of behavior in the last part of the sentence, which we may call anything we wish. The younger children describe the behavior of the natural world. The older children describe the behavior of society alone. They're not stupid. They know their survival depends on saying the right thing, at all possible times to people in power.
Canberra, Australia; the physical realisation of Rand corporation propaganda films about the beneficial effects of the neutron bomb. From the air it's a Walter Burley-Griffin concentric bomb target. From the ground, well, the bomb has landed --- everywhere there's the faceless facades of government. If there is an average Canberrian, milling about the grand emptiness, it is the Doric column. Canberra is encircled by them, weaving about like the Styx, bordering nowhere and Hades, and like the corporate firewall, keeping the dead in and the living out. After my state sponsored stay at ANU, I ended up at a backpackers filled with some of the 900 Christians from the Australian University Christian Convergence. Most were young women and I turned, somewhat disgracefully, into a sort of Chesterton's Hardy, the village atheist, brooding and blaspheming over the village idiot, while they, for their part, tried to convert me with the rise and fall their bosoms. One of the devout was the lovely daughter of a New Castle minister. At some point in my unintended wooing of her, she looked up, fluttered her eyelids and said 'Oh, you know so much! I hardly know anything!'. 'That is why you believe in God," I explained. This conversational brutality took her breath away and she swooned. I was exactly what she secretly longed for; a man willing to openly disagree with her father. All along she had needed a man to devote herself to. All along she had failed to find a man worthy of being called a man, failed to find a man who would not bow to gods, so she had chosen a god unworthy of being called a god, but who would not bow to a man.
Do you need a witness? I am a witness. Do you need a lawyer? My father is a lawyer. The state does what it can get away with. The state does what we let it get away with. The state does what we let ourselves get away with, for we, in our interaction with others, form the state. The bureaucratat knows the average man, and especially men of the underclass are victims in waiting. The force of their action is in inverse proportion to the perception that the victim's father may be an influential lawyer or have contacts in the political classes that control them. The anonymisation of peoples through high population density strips state victims of retributive power; in small communities, "you beat my son" is soon followed by "your cousin shall not marry my daughter". The anonymous megaloposis denies this kind of retribution. Additional freedom is granted alone to the trikster, who through adopting the manner and dress of the establishment may fool the agents of the state into deference. In full circle, every so often a member of the establishment, foolish enough to believe that power was within, puts on their bathers, or their sweat suit and becomes a victim. The grunts protest... "we didn't think you were the man; you weren't dressed right. it's not our fault. you must play by the rules.". From Tiki Swain: On the scene - 1818, Wednesday 21 June 2006 As I walk out onto the platform at Newport Train Station, I hear a woman's voice, upset but calming. She's telling someone to let them do it, it'll be OK. I look over to the far platform, across two sets of tracks. In the open-front waiting room a man is seated on the bench having his arm twisted up over his shoulder and behind his back by two other men. He's resisting. The two men handling him are nondescript, in casual clothing - both beefy, both in clothes that show wear and use, but that's all they have in common visually. The woman speaking stands outside, pacing back and forth, talking constantly. "Love, it's all right. We'll work it out. It'll be ok. I don't know who they are. They haven't told us anything. It'll be OK, just let them handcuff you. They just want to ask you some questions. Just stay calm." Sure enough, the two men have somehow produced handcuffs from somewhere. They now have the first man facing the wall, held down, and are trying to handcuff his hands behind his back. A second woman stands outside, looking down the platform, glancing in every so often, talking steadily and inaudibly into a walkietalkie. She is also carrying no identifying marks or badges, wearing nondescript casual clothing - flared boot- topper jeans, a jacket with some random brand slogan. There is nothing to show that she has any association with the men other than her proximity and her walkietalkie - not a normal civilian carry item. "It'll be OK. Just let them do it. I don't know who they are. They're just going to find out what you know. It can't be much, maybe a $500 fine. You haven't done anything illegal or broken the law or anything. They'll take you down to the station. It'll take only two hours or so. Just two hours, and we'll come and get you. It's OK, we'll come and get you. Just sit down now." I wonder to myself how she knows how long a station visit takes, and how she knows they're going to "a station" if she still doesn't know who they are. I wonder if she comprehends the various levels of law involved in the conflicting statements "you haven't broken the law" and "only a $500 fine". I wonder what happened in the sixty seconds before I walked through the platform door. She asides (at the same volume) to the other woman "I'm just trying to keep him calm". Her voice is not angry, not shrill - but definitely upset and slightly panicky. She knows she doesn't know what's happening, and that none of the three are saying anything to her or giving any explanation. Inside the waiting room they've now moved to the other wall, and are now holding the man out of my sight. She looks back in at them and starts quickly saying "Give him some fresh air! You've got to let him come outside! He needs fresh air!". She gestures frantically but frustratedly with her arms, waving her lit cigarette across the entrance as she does so. It seems a pointless thing to say - they don't appear to be taking any notice of her as long as she's not hindering them. But then the two men bring out the first, handcuffed. He doesn't walk well. "What did you hit him with? Was it mace?" she says. "Was it pepper spray? Why did you have to do that? You didn't need to do that!" The two men lead the third into the male toilets, out of sight. The woman follows them partway, then comes back out, sobbing. "That's police brutality! All he did was jump onto the tracks!" She's making no attempt to be soothing now that she's not in front of them, letting her upset fully show, and it's not clear who she's talking to. Perhaps just all of us watching silently on both platforms. Walkie-talkie woman holds in place, walking a few steps up and down the platform, keeping the device horizontal to her ear and mouth, talking steadily, not watching the men. The upset woman dashes into the waiting room, to a corner out of sight, and comes out carrying a collection of bags and bits, their gear. She calls out to her partner in that same calming voice again "It'll be OK. I'll find out where they're taking you and we'll get you." She approaches the woman and says in the same clear medium volume as everything else she's said: "Excuse me, where are you taking him? I need to know because I need to ring his dad and tell him, he was going to pick us up at the station." The walkietalkie woman looks past her, eyes on space and ears on the walkie talkie. The first woman comes closer. "Excuse me, lady, I need to talk to you. Please." She says it calmly and straightforwardly, with no rudeness or aggression. She is ignored. She repeats herself, and continues to be ignored. Walkietalkie woman is following one of the simple rules of enforcing submission - do not engage. Do not give any action, speech or emotion power by acknowledging it exists. Do not act in any way which encourages them to think they can make a difference to your actions. It works. The first woman returns to her stuff, obviously waiting for a chance to speak with anyone. She intersperses her fretful pacing and cigarette waving with random callings out to her partner. "It'll be OK." "They'll just take you to the station." "It won't take long." One of the men returns from the toilets, carrying an open notebook, and asks her if she has any ID. She says "No, but my partner does." The two of them begin speaking more quietly. I overhear a lone phrase - "We were running to try and catch the train...". She goes into the toilets with him, and almost immediately dashes out again and grabs a lone shoe from the pile of stuff. "It's OK, love, I've got your shoe. Here's your shoe." She goes in again. The only one left visible is walkietalkie woman, listening intently to the far away voices. She begins to speak again, but puts an arm over her lower face, hiding her mouth. The Flinders St train pulls in in front of me, and I don't/can't see any more. Instead I catch the train onwards, wondering. Wondering if I'd feel trusting if I was being manhandled by two of three unmarked unknowns. Wondering at the logic of "let them put the handcuffs on you" combined with "We don't know who they are". Wondering what he did to elicit this response. I think about the people on the platforms, who in their behaviour assume that everything is meant to happen this way, this is all orderly and expected, who assume that these three unknowns are official and that they are responding to a fellow passenger this way because he did something that deserved it. And I think about the woman most of all. I wonder at the trust in our society that she's displaying by assuming he is being taken to a station, or is it hope? and her assuming that a station visit is something he will return from, unharmed, in a relatively short time. I consider the luxury of living in a society where people can make those assumptions, have those hopes. I wonder at her implicit belief in voice, in wording and in behaviour that playing the system and supporting it fully is the best method for survival, even when she's not sure which bit of the system they've fallen afoul of. Sort of an adult version of the child's belief in the sanctity of goodness - that bad things will not happen to you if you are good. I note that she never spoke angrily or aggressively to any of the three unknowns, or even unleashed the full extent of her feelings at them. And I wonder at this apparent belief/behaviour that intelligent reason will bring them through, eventually. I wonder at this latter because it's such a great belief of our society, yet I've never considered it true by fact, only true by mutual agreement. It only lasts until someone disagrees.
Sometimes my eyes are lovingly full of Eastern European tradegy. The surest escape from the mundane is to teleport into the tragic realm. To topple kings someone must die. One soon revels in the carnage of change; whatever flowers grow at the end of Lear or Hamlet we know they blossem into a different world, stronger for the corpses under their roots. This tradition is still alive in the Ukraine, the bread basket and basket case of 20th century Europe. Within in the life span of a working school master the Ukraine saw Stalin's genocidal collectivisation of the Kulaks and subsequent mass famine, the NKVD terror of 1937, the 1943 Axis rout of soviet forces and subsequent Weirmacht control, another round of crop distruction, SS extermination of the Slavs, scorched earth Axis widthdrawl, gradual Warsaw Pact repression and bureaucratization, and then, in homage to the Gnostic view of God, the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe just outside of Kiev (see http://www.kiddofspeed.com). Man must suffer constraint to write, for a man with a gun needs no thought, but the prison state gives its citizens nothing but thoughts. Before words on paper, there must be words in the head, that that plaintive, demanding upwelling of reason that takes the place of action because the environment has action constrained. Where words have the power to change, the state tries hard to trap, burn, or blank them, such is its fear of their power. But where words are emasculated before birth, where words are powerless playings, smothered, half drowned kittens, scrabbling for someone, anyone to hold them, the state is fearless and words like birds, bees and other creatures of no political consequence are free. Now I offer you the following based on a tale of my grandfather's, which I have taken to using as a filter of men; women do not seem to feel it, being too full of future life to enjoy the austere bleakness of concentration camp sarcasm. Moshe shuffled in the prisoner selection line with his daughter. When he came to the selection guard Moshe was told both father and daughter would be sent either to the extermination camp or the work camp. The guard found their numbers and said the daughter was go to the extermination camp. Moshe wailed, fell to the ground and threw his arms about the guard's legs, begging for his daugther to be spared. He kissed the guard's boots and offered his own life and the extraction of the last of his gold teeth. The guard smiled thinly and said, "Very well, but first you must pass my test. My eyes are completely indistinguishable from each other but are not the same. One is glass and was modeled on the other. Reichsmarshal Goering himself appointed the finest jewelers in Potsdam to craft it after I returned from the front. If you can find a way to distinguish the glass eye from the real one, I will trade your life for your daughter's". Moshe starred into the guard's eyes and slowly raised his hand, pointing to the left eye. The guard looked at Moshe and shouted, "What! How did you know?!". "I am sorry.. " trembled Moshe, "but the left eye looks at me with a kindly gleam".
23MB MP3 Link Psychology of bad probability estimation: why lottos and terrorists matter Here's the audio from a South By Southwest 2006 presentation by Harvard's Daniel Gilbert on the psychology of probability estimation. This is important stuff -- it explains why we're socially willing to commit nigh-infinite social resources to fighting terrorism, though statistically, terrorist attacks almost never happen; though we barely lift a finger to help save people from routine traffic accidents, backyard pool drownings, and asthma, which mow down our neighbors by the thousands. It explains why people buy lottery tickets. It explains a great deal about many kinds of human activity. This is both sensible and entertaining audio, and it's got a great title: "How to Do Precisely the Right Thing at All Possible Times."
NetBSD and its decendents FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Linux. The NetBSD Foundation (TNF) required those people involved in its creation (committers -- coders with more than usual control over the project) to sign a legal contract by June 2006. As far as such documents go, it is not too draconian, but I felt it was the antithesis of what motivated me to be involved with the foundation (building something out of the love of creation and intellectual competition). It lacked spirit. I refused to sign, effectively resigning. I think these projects are "complete"; still a vital force behind global cognition, but like the telephone or the transistor, most creative effort is now going into making them faster or asking what colour they should be: I understand the real politik behind this, namely, quelling fears of companies that productize NetBSD and perhaps personal liability fears of the TNF board members, but I think this is the wrong way to go about it. We create the state through our actions and language. TNF through its contract document recreates the malfeasant corporate state within our programmer world. TNF should protect and nurture its committers, not ask them to fall on their swords at the first sign of danger. Limited liability as an organizational concept arose inorder to encourage investment. If TNF has any legal use, it is to sheild committers from TNF's actions, not the other way about. IF the legal threat in the US is real and not a nightmare of the fearful, then TNF copyright and cvs should be moved to an offshore jurisdiction, of which there are many available that do not have US style patent or copyright law. The US node can be used to promote activities in the US and its Limited Liability can protect the board members in the role of those activities. The contract as well as being an instrument of the state is written in the demeaning language of the corporate state. It should have been written in the language of our programmer world. Even in the world of the state it is not clear that the contract is valid, given that committers seem to give away rights and services to TNF but do not receive compensation from TNF in doing so. I haven't committed for several years, so my refusal may mean little, but I encourage others to keep NetBSD a place of people united in creation, a place of collective defense for our programmer world, where bullshit is directed out, not in.
Rights are freedoms of action that are known to be enforceable. Consequently there are no rights without beliefs about the future effects of behavior. Unenforcable general rights exist only insofar as they are argumentation that may one day yield enforcement. Hence the Divine Right of Kings, the right of way, mining rights, conjugal rights, property rights, and copyright. The decision as to what should be enforced and what may be ignored is political. This does not mean that rights are unimportant, but rather, that politics (the societal control of freedom), is so important as to subsume rights. But politics emerges as the expression of the battle between our collective desires and strenghts. Due to the common nature of mankind, there is great commonality in some of our strongest desires. When these desires do not compete they drive politics forward to ensure their forfillment. This is what we usually mean by Right, now a power word which can alter behavior because it implies something about the state of world; here is a freedom that may be enforced if not now, then soon.
Recently I've run across a couple of presentations on technological solutions to reverse global warming. The most interesting is to put stuff into the upper atmosphere to block UV light. Not only does this reduce warming due to sunlight, it has an immediate payoff in terms of reduction in skin cancer. Analyses suggests that it would actually pay for itself in terms of just that effect, independent of the benefits for climate change. Here is one presentation, a 7-minute audio interview with UCI physicist (and science fiction author) Greg Benford: http://www.desmogblog.com/gregory-benford-podcast (http://www.desmogblog.com/audio/download/310) And here is a paper by Dr. Edward Teller of Livermore Labs on the subject, which I think is the work Benford is referring to: http://www.llnl.gov/global-warm/ http://www.llnl.gov/global-warm/148012.pdf Teller's paper actually describes two mitigation schemes, one involving putting stuff in the stratosphere, and the other a more ambitious plan to station material at the Earth-Sun L1 point. This is a semi-stable orbital point approximately a million miles towards the Sun from the Earth. Teller et al calculate that only 3000 tons of smart material located at L1 would diffract away enough sunlight from Earth to eliminate global warming. Of course it will be some time before we can put or manipulate this much material in space. Benford suggests (in his interview) beginning a pilot scheme to put 100 micron particles into the arctic stratosphere during the summer, in order to try to reverse the loss of arctic sea ice and save the polar bears. By design (and in fact, it's hard to avoid) these would snow out every year so they have to be replaced each summer, at an annual cost of about $100 million, he estimates. The bottom line is, as Benford notes, "we're going to have to run this planet." Sooner or later the message will sink in that Kyoto and other conservation efforts are too little, too late (and too expensive). Geo-engineering will be forced on the human race, luddites and all, by the climate change threat of the 21st century.
The history of warfare is similarly subdivided, although here the phases are Retribution, Anticipation, and Diplomacy. Thus: Retribution: I'm going to kill you because you killed my brother. Anticipation: I'm going to kill you because I killed your brother. Diplomacy: I'm going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that your brother did it.
(as of June 2006)