Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

More political musings (collectivism vs. conservatism)

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

So, as we talk about various types of collectivism, and various pundits try their hardest to convince us that socialism will make us all poor, I thought I’d bring out a few facts.

The first thing I’d point out is that generally conservatives are anti-collectivist, and generally whenever conservatives get in power in the USA, a recession almost immediately follows. Now the powers that be would *really* like you to forget this fact, or stop noticing it – just like they’d like to convince you that the cause of the failures of the Soviet Union and China were the result of collectivism.

What they carefully ignore is that A: sometimes collectivism works. Sometimes it works quite a bit better than individualism. B: In the places where it doesn’t work, *often* there is a attempt to pair it with dictatorship or oligarchy. This is certainly the case in both China and the Soviet Union. C: In small scale places where it doesn’t work, often the USA, which has capitalism as a state religion, was responsible for repeatedly blowing things up and/or enacting sanctions in order to make sure it would fail. Cuba is a obvious example of a system that probably would have succeeded wildly without repeated abuse by it’s collective-phobic neighbor.

However, there are a few things to remember. We see a lot of what I call ‘stupid greed’ – that is to say, greed that makes everyone, including the greedy person, poorer. Part of why I think we see it is that having large amounts of power leads to a special type of brain damage. People with large amounts of power lose the ability to empathise with those beneath them, which leads increasingly to them forgetting that a dictatorship is generally not a winning combination. People in power also often come over time to vastly overestimate their intelligence. I’ve been reading about the downfall of Commodore Business Machines, which is kind of a tragic play in 3 acts, but definitely one of the acts is the result of Jack Tramiel having this sort of brain damage.

So, the powers that be, who have a lot of money to spend on propaganda and attempts to change our minds, want very badly for us not to choose collectivism because they – in their generally brain damaged way – think that life is a zero sum game and they’re going to be less rich if they have less money.

However, as I’ve talked about before, this type of greed is generally stupid – it costs the person who is exercising the greed potential experiences, because it leads to hoarding pointers to resources instead of spending them intelligently to garner more resources. It’s important to understand that there are resources which are multiplicative in value – obvious examples are intellectual property like the transistor, but you also have technologies which have a network effect, such as the fax machine and the personal computer – every one that you add to the world increases the value of all of them.

However, there seems to be no hope of getting through to people who have fallen into this mindset. They are convinced that conservative politicians and conservative policies are exactly what they want. You can run into people who generally acknowledge the value of research and intelligence, who would never attempt to compete on things like configuring computers, designing circuits, or writing software – but suddenly whenever the topic turns to politics they know best because you are promoting liberalism and collectivism and they are deeply convinced they know what history says. They in fact are cherry-picking from the history that ended the way they wanted, and then furthermore carefully ignoring that a lot of the failures of collectivism have been the result of single-party thinking, oligarchy, or dictatorship. But you can’t generally get them to understand that.

The good news, I suppose, is ultimately conservatism is likely to fail in a evolutionary point of view. Conservative policies, consistently carried out, will kill off our species – because conservatism wants to keep things the same, and ‘keep things the same’ includes things like a fork bomb (be fruitful and multiply) and epic stupidity (there’s plenty of oil, we should continue to fight wars to get resources we want, etc), and hopefully the next species will be a little smarter.

This didn’t end up being as much of a roundup as I hoped.

The problem with computers and networks

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

So, one of the things I’ve been saying is that one of the necessary ingredients for a successful collectivist system is good computers and fast networks – and also a *lot* of software designed to protect against corruption and against dictatorship. I could write a book on that subject alone – and maybe I will – but for the moment, I want to focus in on one particularly broken thing which is why I’m thumping the drum so hard for collectivism.

I have friends both in high and in low places. I have hung out with billionaires and with hobos. One of the things I observe is we have made the hoops you have to jump through in America way too difficult to clear – and the billionaires don’t know this, I don’t think, and the hobos do. I seldom see it spoken of, but one of the problems with good computers and fast networks is that it gives the human race perfect memory. That’s a good thing when we’re talking about capturing the latest performance of a musician or ideas of a scientist but it’s not so good when we’re talking about the economic systems.

One thing I’d like to point to – if you rent, and you get evicted, you have a *extremely* short list of places that will rent to you – maybe none in some big cities. Make one mistake, and you’re homeless. And the people who maintain this system feel good and smug and happy about it – but it adds to the chains that make us all a slave. There’s not a lot of margin for certain types of error in America, even though some people are inclined to make certain types of error. We’ll hand you a credit card without explaining compound interest to you, we’ll let you get evicted before we tell you ‘welcome to the ranks of the homeless’, and we’ll charge you with a felony for very small and stupid stuff and then tell you ‘welcome to the ranks of the homeless and unemployed’. And then we’ll throw you in jail again for not having a job.

We need to be a little more forgiving here. With evictions, it should probably be three strikes and you’re out, and after the first we offer you some counseling and education about financial management.

We act as if the human race is barely holding on – as if every dollar counts, as if we’re all about to starve. The media has programmed most of the people here to be horrified that a bum might be getting a free beer somewhere. But the truth is, humanity is the dominant species of earth. We’re so rich it only takes 5% of us to feed all of us, and we can use robots to build houses for us at this point. We’ve just been programmed to believe being horrible to each other is the right thing to do.

I’ll go on more about collectivism later because I don’t want to get sidetracked here, but I do think it’s important to recognize that we have built a system that for no good reason throws people under the bus at every opportunity, and then remembers that it has done so and refuses them again and again. This *costs us all*. People who are frightened don’t take the kind of risks that enrich all of humanity.

The end of the USA / Marks At A Carnival

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

So, someone on facebook the other day observed that the latest spate of push polls used by basically every candidate out there is essentially treating the electorate like we are a bunch of marks at a carnival, and the politicians are the carnies.

I saw kind of a extreme case of this – Congressman John Lewis sent me a poll asking who was going to win the Democratic nomination. Of course Biden was at the top – I’m fairly sure that the DNC is manipulating the data in any way necessary to make sure no one hears that Bernie is in fact the front runner – but more interestingly, it was a push poll, so I thought I’d go email the Congressman to tell him to cut it out. Strangely enough, when I got to his site, it asked for my zip plus four, and then bounced me to a page that informed me I wasn’t allowed to email the congressman since I wasn’t in his district.

Well, then, why is he allowed to email me – not just push polls, which are insulting enough as it is – like I can’t tell that you’re trying to manipulate my opinion by asking me for it – but push polls that end in a list of “Yes, I”ll chip in $WHATEVER” with increasing amounts of $WHATEVER, but no checkbox for “I can’t donate right now”.

At this point, I think we’ve reached the endgame for the USA. Both parties are so corrupt as to be unrecognizable from the standpoint of honor, dignity, or desire to do the right thing. If I could push a button and disband them both I would, and I think this probably applies for most of the citizens here. There’s a ongoing fight about socialism vs capitalism as if they haven’t both been demonstrated to both be successful and be failures. We need some new ideas, badly. But our pundits seem to be stuck on the old ones.

The thing that astonishes me is all the people demonstrating brand loyalty to Trump as if he wasn’t clearly the most corrupt guy in the room. Even his own supporters have to admit he lies – at this point I think he’s at 10,000 lies, a average of 100 a day? I lack the energy to fight with them any more. If they can’t tell that they’re egging on the captain as he opens the throttles aimed straight for the iceberg, I don’t think there’s anything I can say that is going to open their eyes. The whole thing is a interesting experience in how much neuroplasticity humans *don’t* have.

Is there any way off this sinking ship?

I did realize one interesting thing about Trump that pretty much signals the end of the USA – he doesn’t even pretend that he represents the half of people that didn’t vote for him, or even that he likes us. He cheers on the hate at his rallies that is becoming a cancer eating into any hope of a compromise between the two sides. I can’t ever remember a previous president who didn’t at least make a token effort to show they represented everyone.

Of course, we’ve never had a president who was quite so much of a raging narcissist before, either. I guess it shows kindo f a loss of the american innocence and idealism.

One valid point in Trump’s favor – the media also don’t make any attempt to pretend they’re accurately quoting him, either. For example, the famous ‘good people on both sides of the debate’ – *in the very same sentence* Trump said he wasn’t talking about white supremacists, but the sound-bite-oholic media carefully spun and edited to make it sound like he was. I was astonished when I found the whole audio clip.

So it’s possible that there’s something to this whole ‘fake news’ idea as well. On the other paw, if we can’t trust the media, and it’s *really* clear we can’t trust Trump, we don’t really know what’s going on anyway.

We elected someone who said ‘Go ahead, punch him, I’ll pay your legal bills’. (And of course, Trump wouldn’t have – there’s a long history of him not even paying the vendors who do work for him). People talk about the ‘Grab ’em by the pussy’, and yah, that’s bad, but not as bad as ‘Go ahead, punch him.’ Our president, who is supposed to represent all of us, encouraging violence towards one of the people he was claiming he was running to represent at his own rally… at this point, busy locking children in cages. Supporters busy defending him with bullshit about the rule of law – pretending they don’t know that we deliberately built a broken immigration system so we could make the “illegals” work for peanuts. Supporters defending a president who has caused *children to die of dehydration*. And they mean it. The hate is strong with the Republicans. They feel good and warm about calling us left-wingers snowflakes, and cheering on the idea that they can drink our tears. They feel good about killing children. They’ve picked their scapegoats and they’re going to hurt them as much as they can and feel good about how good it feels to hate. They’re going to ignore any science they like, and suppress and censor it as well. Dollars are more important than people, dollars are more important than continuing to have a survivable ecosystem. So what if all our grandchildren are going to be eating yeast and barely surviving. Hate some more! More dollars!

I don’t see a way back from here.


Followup – John Lewis’s campaign sent me *another* push poll.. this time instead of chipping in, I’m to RUSH my money – still no option for ‘no’. There was a contact us link, so I sent them a link to this blog entry, and a request for a apology. They at least let me email them there.


And another side note – if you want to see the most excessive example of a push poll I have ever seen, check out Trump’s push poll. Aren’t you happy to know the president represents everyone?

We need a new -ism.

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

So, For a long time, I thought I liked communism. Then I learned that communism means the state owns all the resources, and doles them out only to the people it likes. I’ve not yet met a state that I trust with the lives of all my fellow citizens – not while the state is made of fallible people.

Then I thought I liked socialism. After all, socialism is a collectivist system where the resources belong to the workers. That seems fair. But wait, now we have to trust the workers. The phrase that jumps to mind is ‘tyranny of the majority’, courtesy of the founding fathers warning why a direct democracy is a dangerous beast.

What I’m looking for is a -ism that starts where a system is currently at and attempts to crossfade to a more utopic world by replacing wage slavery with automation, and replacing whatever system of governance is in place with a meritocracy that takes advantage of modern technologies to allow direct topic-subscription democracy with weighted voting with the voting controlled by knowledge of the topic being voted on and the opinions of the collective on the individual’s skill level at voting on that topic.

I’ve realized I want a new -ism, a form of collectivism that hasn’t been made yet. I would describe this -ism by the following traits:

a) We ensure that at all times, Earth will remain inhabitable for the foreseeable future. This includes building a skywatch and technology sufficient to swat any pesky asteroids away. It *definitely* includes reducing the amount we live on the capital rather than the interest. One thing we can stop doing is giving people makework jobs that they burn fuel getting to.

b) We attempt to allow people to work in any job they want. To the extent that they can’t do it, we assist them with automation, but we never allow automation to take away a experience someone loves.

c) We attempt to give people any experience they want. To the extent that this is possible, we generate these locally inside their minds with neural software. When this isn’t practical, we use virtual reality techniques for things we can’t actually afford to deliver, and what we can actually afford to deliver, we do deliver. I think we could reach a place where most physical possessions were replaced with neurological software that could easily be copied, reducing our load on the planet while making us far more wealthy than we currently are. I’ve talked about this elsewhere in this blog.

d) For wealth that will always be needed – food infrastructure, housing – we attempt to build wealth that will last at least a thousand years. This will involve it taking longer to build the houses, and using more expensive technology, but it will still be far cheaper than building houses once every hundred years.

e) For any job humans *don’t* want to do, we automate it. We build *good*, reliable, man-rated automation – we take our time, because we can afford to. As #e kicks in more and more, we will have more and more excess wealth.

f) We attempt to *not* make disposable, useless in a few years stuff. We’re trying to build a system that will still be standing tall in a thousand years.

g) We attempt to provide sustenance living for all. Eventually, we attempt to provide luxury for all. Along the way, we offer better experiences to those who work hard, study hard, lean in, and help lift us all. While we might not want to use capitalism in it’s current incarnation, we need to still have competition, and rewards for success, because we’ve got a lot of speed to build up before we have lift, and not a lot of runway left.

h) We acknowledge that we can not afford to do everything for everyone right away. We develop a rigorous scoring system for identifying which goals are the most important and we prioritize those.

i) We recognize that the current system rewards a lot of people that are actually harming us all, and redesign it so it can’t. We need to design a system that actively *expects* to be gamed, and either gains by being gamed or is non-gameable.

j) We need to replace laws with algorithms that we can all agree are fair. We need to replace voodoo morality like religion with morality that we can demonstrate mathematically (i.e. number of people hurt * time of pain * severity of pain = unit indicating how much damage a particular action is doing). More on this later, since I have a pretty functional mathematical system of morality I use. In general, if you can write a meta-statement like a algorithm that solves the problem, it’s a much better solution than a law.

k) If possible, we should be trying to build some people smarter than we are using AI. We *need* help, the current system is running on the edge of disaster and we’ve pretty thoroughly proven that humans find it very challenging to run a planet with 7B souls aboard.

l) We need to focus on the needs of the many first, but eventually, we should try to meet the needs of the one, even when the needs of the one are decidedly out of phase with what the many think is good. However, we should never allow the lone wolves who would hurt us all to have the power to do so. I suggest wide use of simulation to protect us from those who would take more than they give. See #c

m) for the governing of same, I feel we need to have a meritocracy. I’ve spoken elsewhere about the idea of a democracy where your vote counts more if you indicate competence in the area that you’re voting on, and I still stand behind this. A direct democracy, but not one-man-one-vote – instead your vote would ‘weigh more’ if you could indicate knowledge about the subject being voted on, the contrary point of view to the one you hold, and show activity on mailing lists that indicate you’ve discussed the subject with other people. I’d also advocate for the ability to set up and strike or override proxies – so you could temporarily assign someone else you trusted to vote for you, then override them easily on one vote or take back control of your voting. I’ll write more about my thoughts about this later as well.

Anyone got a name for this new -ism?

Software modeling of economic systems

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

So, while there’s much shouting back and forth and wrending of garments on the subject of whether collectivism is good or bad, whether the time has come for socialism, and how much damage being a member of the 1% does, I’m curious – we all have strong opinions, and obviously we’ve all got reasons for them, but has anyone done any software modeling on this?

It should be possible to, by looking at recorded data for the many hundreds of countries and thousands of industries and the like, create software models for various types of collectivism and capitalism and any other systems we’ve got records for, and determine what the best answer is. While right-wingers may feel firmly convinced that collectivist attempts are doomed, and certain aspects of the left that socialism will cure all our woes, I’m not really all that convinced that anyone who has never modelled the problem actually has any idea at all what will and won’t work.

Clearly capitalism comes with some advantages re: competition, but also clearly as we move into the age of automation we’re going to have to do UBI or *something* or we’ll have no jobs left and people will be forced to starve to death because they’re more expensive than machines. I guess one question that we should probably start with is, can we agree why we’re here? Can we at least agree it’s not to starve to death?

If we can, could we perhaps model some of these things? Maybe try to determine how much collectivism hurts initiative and innovation, figure out whether we could even successfully run as a collectivist system at all when measuring in real resource costs rather than in stupid-fiat-dollars?

I grant you that modelling this problem would not be a insignificant challenge – after all we’re not talking about the Glooper here – but I imagine we’d have a lot better luck with it than we would with modelling the weather, especially if we look at it as a problem in probabilistic behavior and determine based on pre-existing data what likely probabilities are.

Then again, it may be that some members on both sides are so firmly programmed that they couldn’t accept the output of a software modelling problem in the area of collectivism if it were run. I do often wonder, if we weren’t all being programmed by the left & right medias and our peer groups / bubbles in what exactly we’re supposed to think, what *would* we think? There have got to be *some* people who recognize the sheer folly of the idea that the other side must be completely and totally wrong. Yes, I’ve chosen my side, but I like to think the people on the other side are not idiots and I also like to think that one of these days we will stop shouting at each other and start devising some scientific methods to ascertain what the truth really is.

Of course the problem with this is there’s a chunk of people out there convinced that some God who has made no attempt in recent memory to get in touch with us and is quite possibly a work of fiction comprised by various unsavory elements of our past culture in a attempt to achieve some form of social control is actually completely in control and if science says something other than what they expect to see from God, then science must be wrong. Have faith even in the face of hard data, or you’re a bad $RELIGIOUS_NUT.

Ah, the human condition. Full of so many interesting miseries and contradictions.

Politics, the two-party system, and donation farming

Friday, July 7th, 2017

So, one of the problems I see with the two party system is that it encourages dividing up the entire political landscape – a complex, multidimensional array including questions on the sliding scale of authoritarianism, capitalist vs. communist vs. socialist, nanny-state vs. libertarianism, rule of law vs. anarchy, change/growth vs. remaining the same, and a number of other sliders – on all of which probably the answer is somewhere in the middle – into single binary decisions.

Since some of these binary decisions end up being very hot-button emotional issues, it then allows for a undesirable no-or-little-progress tug of war in which both sides use the hot button issues to repeatedly ask for money, using emotional attacks like guilting that humans are not very good at resisting. In the meantime, because the opposing group feels very strongly in the opposing direction, little or no progress is made, so these hot button issues can be milked for donations for years at a time. One of my biggest criticisms of the Democrats is at this point, they aren’t even *trying* to have their candidates suggest new ideas. In the recent runoff election in Georgia, I was averaging four emails a day by the end begging me for more money – and I don’t live in Georgia – and not a single one discussed the ideas of the candidate, other than “He will stop Trump”. One of our biggest complaints about the Republicans in the Obama era was they seemed to have no ideas of their own, all they could do is try to throw monkey wrenches in the works – and now it seems that’s what the Democrats have become.

Now, the cynical bit of me thinks this is all on purpose, and it’s all because politics has become a business that is, just like so many others, all about money. And the current situation is *very* friendly to donation-farming. Send out those emails because it’s important to spend more than the other side – which is of course completely ignoring the fact that our election system is *not supposed to be for sale*. I mean, yes, more money means more ads to get ideas out to voters, but ultimately, isn’t the hope here that the best ideas will win, not the ideas with the most dollars behind them? And, if in fact the ideas with the most dollars behind them are always winning, shouldn’t we completely remove money from the election system altogether and perhaps even ban political ads because at that point it is clear that we are so externally programmable that we probably aren’t even voting what we think, but rather whatever’s been programmed into us most recently? On the other paw, if as I suspect political ads generally don’t sway that many voters, then isn’t this whole donation system basically just a racket to get money out of our pockets and into the pockets of the politician types who have in general already proven that they are not good with money? (I mean, look at our defense budget, and the defense budgets of the next five biggest competitors. Clearly we’re not good about deciding where to spend our resources if we’re busy making upgrades to our atomic bombs while children are starving to death and bridges are collapsing)

Part of what is interesting is if one looks at the emails from both sides, one sees the exact same emotional attacks used. They could almost be mad-libs – only the keywords change, the guilt and button pushing remain the same. And, we’re now in a situation where we’re *close to the noise margin* 50% left and right. This either means the ad targeters and marketing gurus are extremely good at their job and we’re all in a giant game of Risk between them, or it means that the election results we see are totally phony anyway (which is a bit tinfoil hat but only a bit – it’d be difficult to even honestly know) – or perhaps it means that humans genuinely are a even split between left and right. In any case, I suspect compressing every decision into a binary choice and two camps has led to a “representative” government that does a *miserable* job actually representing the views and values of the people. What’s really creepy is seeing how the tail has turned around and is now wagging the dog – brand loyalty is such that no matter what awful thing the people “on your side” – right or left do – many many many people on Facebook are up there defending it. It feels very “my country wrong or right” and I loathe it. I do think there’s a sizable chunk of $PRESIDENT supporters who would support $PRESIDENT if said $PRESIDENT started sending people to the gas chambers. It feels a lot like “Well, they’re a member of $POLITICAL_PARTY and I’m a member of $POLITICAL_PARTY so whatever they decide to do must be the good $POLITICAL_PARTY thing to do, no matter how awful, stupid, ill-advised, or historically poorly fated”.

Now, since I often go on about tracking the actual resources in play whenever we’re figuring out how to do resource allocation, one point I’d like to make here is you end up with enormous amounts of resources – at least man-hours (spent creating the ad content and watching the ad content both) totally burned up for no gain whenever you have a hot-button issue where people are 50-50 split. How many hundreds of thousands of man-hours have been wasted on abortion? How much church money which could have been spent at places like have instead been wasted trying to save those poor non-babies (even though as I point out in abortion, summarized being anti-abortion because you think it’s murder is the same as having a profound lack of faith in God). In real progress, in human happiness, the current system costs us *a lot*. Sometimes we would be far wiser to table a issue awaiting future data rather than continue a 50-50 fight that’s unresolvable. And I think we would do just that, except that these issues are huge moneymakers for Big Politic – which is probably far worse than Big Pharma, Big Oil, and Big Ag combined.

I want to see a end to donation farming.

The constitution didn’t scale

Friday, June 9th, 2017

So, in a discussion on facebook I was talking about how the constitution failed to scale. This isn’t surprising – most code written to run with 50 million users won’t scale to 350 million. How did it fail to scale, in my opinion? Note that this is not a hard set list of opinions – I might change my mind later about what bits failed to scale. I know that it failed to scale because of all the epic stupidity running around, but I don’t know that I know exactly how and why. But here are my guesses.

A: It failed to have a enforced code check of some sort. The only provisions for amending it involve getting a large and very disparate group of people to agree that it needs to be amended. We have reached the point where that would be very difficult to do because we can’t get over half the people to agree on anything, and yet, this is the time when it needs a tune-up the most.

B: While it stated what rights can not be taken away, it failed to say what should happen to people who *do* take those rights away. We’ve clearly lost the freedom of assembly, it seems likely we’ve lost the freedom against self-incrimination, and there’s no redress other than to hope the courts figure it out. This was not as large a problem when there weren’t as many people – but, as the number of people go up, the number of people in law enforcement potentially violating the rights of others goes up.

C: It failed to consider the fact that societies change and grow. It has no provision for the deletion of laws, or of precedents, or of what the rational time for considering such deletions might be. As a result we have so much cruft in laws and precedents that only a determined study of them for many years offers a citizen much hope of even understanding what is legal and what is not. I do not think it was the intention of our founding fathers that 10% of the nation would have to be lawyers

D: It failed to predict or offer ways to adapt to massive technological change. This is the most invasive when it comes to improvements in communications – that milliseconds after someone says something, a video of them saying it can be in the hands of everyone in america. Also, that the second amendment would have to go up against the idea of citizens owning nuclear weapons, or at least semiautomatic cartridge guns capable of several shots a second. There are also new questions about rights brought about by a state that can maintain a database of every action every citizen has ever done, could potentially track every citizen, etc. New rights likely must be forged to protect privacy.

E: It failed to predict that the voting methods laid down would result in a two-party stranglehold, where any third party risks the prisoner’s dilemma. It also was never designed to be a true representative government – for example, we’re 50% female, but the kingdom is ruled by a bunch of old white men, and there’s no attempt to address that

F: It failed to predict that automation someday would require a new economic system because it will no longer be possible or practical for everyone to have a job.

G: It failed to predict a industry that would thrive on misinformation – while freedom of the press is a good thing, it might be a good idea to require the press to label misinformation, misleading statistics, etc as such. As it is, it’s very difficult to figure out who’s spinning which way and what’s really going on, which makes it very difficult to make informed voting decisions.

H: It failed to predict the tyranny of the rich – that at some point, corporations would be considered people, and the richest people would break the system trying to become richer in paper dollars at the cost of actual wealth.

Election thoughts

Monday, October 17th, 2016

So, as we sit amongst the facebook election madness – and it’s been unusually rabid this cycle, for a whole host of reasons, I find myself thinking of the fact that we’re all flawed.

Now, every election cycle, it seems we spend a lot of time underlining how flawed both of the candidates are – and whatever ideology you subscribe to, it tends to make you minimize the flaws of your horse while thinking that the flaws of the other horse are the worst things that there could ever be. And I don’t doubt that one horse can run a race better than another – or else we wouldn’t have horse races. I’m sure there are people who would argue that I’m more flawed than any of the current crop of individuals who would like to be steering the boat whilst feeding from the public trough. I’m not actually sure – I’m not even sure if you can reasonably measure flawedness.

Ironically, the least flawed of the field from my point of view, Bernie, couldn’t even get a seat at the table. I still can’t tell whether this is because of a corrupt system, people who lack vision, or some other aspect. And I have no doubt that Bernie has his own set of flaws. Anyone who wants the job has got to be more than a little bit cracked.

But, I keep reminding myself, for all the warts in all the candidates we have running for office, they’re all human beings just like you and me. They have their hurts, their doubts, their flaws, and their moments of triumph just like any of us. It’s tempting to demonize the horse that doesn’t match your chosen ideology, but I am not sure that’s wise. Among other things, you’re possibly encouraging your neural network to set up notch filters that highlight their flaws while downplaying their good sides.. and it’s possible I’ve gone so far in this direction that my experience of Trump is somewhat locally synthesized. There’s no easy way to tell (see many previous discussions on the nature of our minds and the nature of reality)

In any case, it would be nice if we could dial back the insanity a couple of notches. No one deserves to be firebombed over this whole thing. It’s also worth noting that some of the split between the horses and the horseraces is the result of different ideas of utopia.. the farmers and rural folks have their thing, and the cities have theirs. But, in this world we live in, the farms and the cities need each other. Big agribusiness depends on big technology.. all us folks in the city genetically engineering crops, making fuel, making robot tractors – and big population depends on big agribusiness.

But we want and need different things. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I’m certain that firebombing each other’s political campaign headquarters is *not* the solution, nor is threatening to put our opponents in jail, nor is attempting to shut down free speech.

I don’t know why I worry about these things. I don’t get the sense that the world at large is listening to me. Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to wake up and discover that I’d been slashdotted and my web server was cranking out hundreds of megabits of content. And, honestly, it could happen tomorrow. Or never. The world is unpredictable that way.

I try to be less flawed every day. I hope that all the horses in all the horseraces do too. And I hope that they are as aware that they are flawed as I am aware that I am.

Bernie Sanders and the prisoner’s delimma

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Bernie does a very good job of underlining one of the basic problems with a two party system with a third party attempting to break in.

Those of you who are students of history will remember that Clinton won his first term partially because of a man named Perot, who was also a independent with some interesting ideas. Of course, Clinton was running against Bush – and, insane as this sounds, lately we’ve had cause to feel nostalgia towards Bush. Bush was maybe not the president I would elect, but he wasn’t much of a heel (in the faces and heels speak of WWF) – he was a moderate, and is repeatedly on record as saying things which are mostly pretty reasonable.

In the meantime, this year, our election is between moderate capitolist conservitive Clinton, insane reality TV star Trump, and democratic socialist Sanders. So, another three way race. However, unlike our last three way race, in this one, the split is between Clinton (who, much as we don’t want to admit it, we can mostly live with) and Sanders (who many of us would love to have as he represents real tangible progress on a number of fronts). Meaning, if half of us vote for Clinton and half for Sanders, Trump wins.

Now, if you’re a Trump fan, I don’t really know what to say other than, why exactly do you want WWIII? But, let’s leave them out of the discussion for the moment and talk about those of us who aren’t fans of building walls and evicting people because we don’t like their religion.

If Bernie gets on the ticket somehow – either as a independent or on the Green Party or, really, any way other than by getting the Democratic nomination, we’ve got a real problem.

The problem is remarkably similar to the Prisoner’s Dilemma. I think most of us could agree that either Bernie or Clinton would be better than Trump, but we have to find some way to agree, en masse, who we’re going to vote for.

We also have to find some way to verify that we really voted for this person. In essence, I do not think the US voting network is secure or trustworthy or believable, so I want to go out on a limb here. I am suggesting we perform something not usually done. I am suggesting *every one of us* photograph our ballots and upload them all to a central repository. We’re going to have to put together something that can handle this, ideally in some decentralized (blockchains? peer to peer) manner. We are going to have to build a reliable voting network as a system for verifying that the current voting network is reliable

I also am suggesting that one way or another, if both Bernie and Hil are on the ticket, we need to all agree which direction we’re going beforehand. The very last thing we want is a 50/50 split between Hil and Bernie winning the election for Trump. At the same time, we don’t want Bernie to step down, because the things he’s saying are the things that need to be said.

More on this later.

Side note – It’s easy to see one feature we *really* should have built into the voting network – the ability to list candidates in order of preference. This would facilitate indicating that you both like Hil and Bernie better than Trump, while indicating which you would rather have elected. However, my hunch is that the whole thing is a bit of a show – just like WWF – and that in fact the powers that be run the place using entirely different methods, while keeping us distracted with the faces and heels.


Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Reading about Donald Trump makes me think my friend Steve is right.. I should buy some land as far away from everyone as possible.. Okay, I’m joking, but only somewhat. I read the polling numbers, and there’s more than 40% of my fellow citizens who would vote for this guy? I wonder if the people talking about ‘kicking the illegals out’ realize that the illegals are the people who are adding the most value in a lot of places – a lot of them are really hardworking folk! If you forget the bullshit money politics and look at where that strawberry actually came from, you realize that if you kicked them out, our economy would fail in large and impressive ways. Now, I’d really like it if robots were picking the strawberry and the illegals were A: legal because we’d adopted a open border policy and B: taking a siesta, but I recognize that’s still a few years out, so for the moment, please don’t kick out the people who are actually doing the work.

Trump does, however, bring up a interesting ethical question. What is your ethical responsibility if Hitler gets elected? Suppose Trump does get elected, and he starts putting Muslims in concentration camps, a la the Japanese in WWII? What form should my resistance take? Writing blog articles is probably not enough at that point.

Of course, if that does happen, I assume I’ll also be placed in a concentration camp, shortly after the secret police discover this blog on the wayback machine.

By the way, if Bernie doesn’t get elected, I will take it as a sign that it’s too soon for socialism – at some point, at some level of automation and computer science, socialism is going to become the only sane answer. At that point more than 50% of the US will, I really hope, be able to figure that out. We aren’t quite there yet – we *need* a bunch of people to work their asses off for a few more years. One thing I do love about things like Minecraft – and the web – is that it has taught millions of people to program, and millions of people to understand automation and building automated systems. Guys, there is still some work left to do before we can truly live in a socialist paradise where the only people working are the ones who want to..