Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

One thing that the supreme court events underline – and of course the Jan 6 hearings – is that the GOP lacks any honor. The justices had no problem with lying during their confirmation and no problem with figuring out any way they could possibly bend the law to ban abortion. They will cause very large amounts of suffering – which of course is the typical outcome whenever you let the GOP start making decisions. (Remember, this is the party that brought you the War On Drugs while they were busy piping those drugs into the cities with Iran Contra, the party that brought you the War On False Pretenses in which many folks lied in order to bomb Iraq back to the stone ages over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist, and, of course, the party that brought you Trump.

People ask why he rents space in my head. The answer is because I haven’t figured out how to leave America yet – but Trump’s existence, and the fact that the people who supported him aren’t busy apologizing right now, underlines both that the GOP has no honor (we’re talking about a person who tried to use violence to overthrow the results of a free and fair election) and that America is a collapsing system with very little hope.

He rents space in my head because we elected someone who said “Go ahead, punch him, I’ll pay your legal bills”. Because we elected someone who suggested injecting bleach, who wanted to hide life-saving data about a pandemic because it might hurt his re-election chances.

Trump of course only cares about Trump. That’s become increasingly obvious. Destroying the USA bothers him not at all. And, of course, another thing Trump – and Fox – showed us is the problem with leading people down a long and varigated trail of falsehoods. The problem is the human mind encodes data by making physical connections, and because of it’s holographic nature the same confluence of subnets might represent a number of different concepts. A side effect of this is there is a significant cost to unlearning things, and in fact you can reach a point where you simply do not have the neurological resources to do all the necessary rebalancing of wiring to unlearn falsehoods. Your mind has to – at least subconsciously – evaluate the actual physical (neurochemical) cost of changing wiring to encode new information, and if the cost is too high, it must cling to previously learned data even if wrong because the alternative – not having enough resources to finish rebalancing after changing the physical wiring to encode data – sucks more. But this means once you go down the Fox News or Q rabbithole, it’s *very* difficult to come back up – partially, of course,because it’s hard to admit how much of a chump you’ve been. I suspect this also explains how people get stuck in religions that are obviously false-to-fact.

Anyway, so, here we are. People are utterly convinced it’s Biden’s fault that gas prices are high – the war and the profiteering of the oil companies have nothing to do with it – and of course Fox is happy to encourage that lie. Inflation is obviously a side effect of us deciding not to throw everyone under the bus during the pandemic but Fox keeps the lie going, it’s all the fault of the Dems, and people believe it.

Not that I’m all that happy with the Democrats either. Their cheating Bernie out of the nomination and their deciding not to codify the right to choose while they had a supermajority because it’s way too valuable as a donation farming method to push the emotional buttons on both sides and get them to keep forking over those dollars are two of the obvious reasons, but in general we’ve got Cthulu and Incompetence, Inc to choose from on the ballot. I tend to choose Incompetence, Inc, but it’s still pretty depressing. About the best politician I know of is my friend Brian Leeper who ran on a platform of fixing the stoplights on rt 28.. and actually did it. Based on his track record I’d nominate him for senate even though he leans far more conservative than me. At least he’s honest, something I am sure federal office would beat out of him fairly quickly. Or they’d find him shiv’d in a back room somewhere.

(This post is mostly just venting. But I am not sure I have words for how dissapointed I am that the conservatives were able to pack the court and no one stopped them, that they’re able to make abortion illegal and no one is stopping them, and that they quite possibly might implement christian sharia law. The lack of honor and willingness to ignore the majority is also depressing – as is the knowledge that most conservatives won’t admit they are wrong about almost everything even as they look at the fact that their policies during covid had them dying of overdoses of horse dewormer.)

Abortion: The gift taht keeps on giving

Saturday, June 25th, 2022

So, we’ve entered another phase of donation farming. I have come to suspect that the Republicans struck Roe with the tact agreement of the Democrats, because A: both sides knew that without forcing more babies social security was going to run out of money and B: both sides know it’s a battle neither side can permanently win if they’re going to keep using it to farm donations from voters.

Obviously during Obama’s attempt to get Garland confirmed A: the republicans cheated and B: the democrats sandbagged. A friend of mine pointed out the democrats could have gone ahead and installed Garland, since obviously if the republicans wouldn’t hold hearings, they didn’t have a problem with his confirmation.

However, it would not shock me at all to discover that all of the voting is just puppetry and the people actually running the country make decisions and they just pretend that our votes matter in order to keep us from taking up arms against them.

I mean, I’m going to keep voting whoever seems to be the lesser evil. But I’m also going to keep championing ranked choice voting because this system is beyond broken. And I think if they attempt to outlaw birth control or sex outside marriage we should hold a general strike – share, work together, figure out how to barter food etc, but literally turn off the county. Leave it off until we’ve done *trillions* of dollars of damage to them. Make the bosses *hurt*.

If the Democrats were honest, they’d arrest the supreme court for lying to congress. If nothing else, Kavanaugh and Thomas lied in their confirmation and everyone knows it. Pull out the No lie MRI technology – ANN combined with a fMRI, foolproof lie detector, and make them confess that they planned this whole thing. Then slam them in jail and appoint new justices.

I am also asking various countries about the immigration process, because I am strongly considering just leaving America.

Invermectin does not reduce odds of hospitalization

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Via the NYT.

No big shock here. However, the question remains – how many times can Republicans be dead wrong, and keep coming back for more? Conservatism is *obviously wrong* – it’s based on the idea that there isn’t enough and can’t be enough – while food rots and buildings sit empty. There is enough, there has been for a while, there’s just a broken resource allocation system that conservatives keep declaring is the best thing in the world and should be worshipped.

I keep hoping at some point in repeatedly conservatives being demonstratibly wrong they will start to wake up and stop being conservatives. Yes, political ideology can be right or wrong beyond simply matters of opinion, and at this point conservative POVs have gotten people killed in large numbers.

Now, I understand that part of what is going on is that most people do not have informational immune systems and so when the talking heads say things, they believe, and they don’t necessarily have the self-awareness to recognize that that’s going on. And part of what’s happening is that it is profitable to lie to those people – some of this is telling them what they want to hear even though it’s not true and some of this is that if you get people to believe there’s not enough, they’ll endorse pointer-hoarding (remember, dollars are not wealth, they are a pointer to it) by the morons who don’t realize that the way to maximize wealth is to never hold more pointers than you need.

Anyway, here we have yet another study – and yes, they come regularly – showing that conservatives were just plain wrong and they were pushing a narrative that was getting people killed. Big shock.

Peak Oil and Global Warming

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

I Just had a interestingly cynical thought about why we might not hear more about peak oil in the USA.

One of the most destructive Big Industries is Big Politics. I’ve talked about how the USA carefully keeps people divided on hot button topics while making very little progress on them so it can continue to donation farm the suckers. (Lately this has been combined with the right out and out selling total falsehoods to their constituents, who are apparently not bright enough to figure out they’re being lied to or even remember that the past has changed over and over and over so that whatever’s Pravda now can be Pravda. )

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been deeply puzzled by is why people don’t talk about peak oil more, because while we might be arguing over the science of global warming it’s just about impossible to argue about the fact that Earth’s oil wells are going dry at a prodigious rate and that subject matter experts estimate 35 years of economically recoverable oil remain.

I think the reason global warming is pushed is because Peak Oil is something that there’d be bipartisan agreement about. Like infrastructure renewal, we carefully have to keep peak oil off the table to discuss because we’d all agree something needs done – and even worse, the things that we’d all agree need done are for the most part the same thing those global warming nuts want anyway! It’d be a very bad day for Big Politics.

(One consistent distraction from all this is the bullshit hydrogen economy. A few reminders, just to get them out of the way

1) There are very few metals that can catalyze hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity i.e. make a fuel cell for hydrocarbons. They’re all *very* rare and very expensive. There’s no way we have enough of them to put a FCV vehicle in every driveway in america
2) Hydrogen has a much lower energy density than any other hydrocarbon. This is a problem for several reasons. The first is that if we wanted to burn it in a conventional engine that engine would need enormous displacement per horsepower output. This makes using conventional engines to use hydrogen impractical
3) ALso because of the lower energy density, combined with the fact that it is a cryogenic gas (cannot be liquefied at room temperature, requires significant refrigeration to maintain in a liquid state), hydrogen is very difficult to store. Absent some sort of catalytic storage system (and it is possible such a thing could be found, ammonia seems tempting) storing hydrogen requires storing it at hundreds of atmospheres in order to get usable energy densities. Such a container is fantastically dangerous if it is ruptured because everyone near it will freeze to death – and that’s before we talk about fires etc.
4) Because hydrogen has to be compressed to hundreds of atmospheres, there’s some significant challenges in making it energy efficient because of the Boyle’s Law impact of compressing a gas to hundreds of atmospheres. Various challenges ensue to try to recapture all the waste heat of the multistage compressors required.
5) Hydrogen is very slippery. IT’s a tiny molecule that likes to leak – in fact many of the Los Angeles based hydrogen fueling stations have burned to the ground because of such leaks. It’s not the easiest material to work with.
6) It is not practical to have a fuel cell battery big enough to provide for the peak power (100kW) required during acceleration of a modern car. Therefore a FCV by definition is also a BEV, with all the complications that implies plus the complications of moving energy between the fuel cell and the battery pack. Even if it were possible to make fuel cells big enough, fuel cells must go offline from time to time to purge the water they are generating from their membranes.
7) Oh, yes, as well as being stupidly expensive (and if you thought having your catalytic converter stolen was bad, wait till you get your fuel cell stolen) fuel cells also *wear out* much faster than batteries do. Expect to change your fuel cell every 100k miles, as opposed to 200k for battery packs. (oh, yes, and expect to change your battery pack too, see above about how a FCV is a BEV)

Fuel cell vehicles may well be the answer for very large things, like trains, boats, and possibly tractor-trailers. But they are not a good candidate for everyday drivers and therefore using “let’s wait for the hydrogen economy” as a excuse for not settling the issues surrounding peak oil now is bullshit. Naturally the republicans love it.)

Anyway, all that said, Global warming *will be inconvenient*. It’ll cause crop failures, bad weather, heatstroke, etc. Peak Oil *will kill us*. Our entire food network runs on oil. It takes us more than a calorie of petrochemicals to *make* a calorie of food (counting fertilizers) and that’s before we even start to talk about moving it around. And it will kill us *soon*. If you are my age and have children, *they will starve to death* unless we change our ways.

What are the solutions? Well, for crops, Monsanto could stop being assholes and start working on crops that need less fertilizer and do less damage to the soil. For cars, battery electric vehicles – there’s plenty of lithium in seawater and for many of us nickel metal hydride would be adequate to our needs. For trains, overhead or rail fed power – although that’s less of a desperate need because trains are very efficient. For airplanes, BEVs for small ones and biofuels for big ones. Many different solutions exist – but we should begin transition *now*. We don’t want to wait until we have 5 years of oil left – among other things, humans are such idiots that we will spend the last of the oil fighting wars over the last of the oil. Also, almost all of this stuff is going to have bugs. None of it is going to work right immediately. We need to kaizen the designs (iteratively and slowly improve them)

For energy – the obvious big winners here are wind, solar, and nuclear. Not just because they’re carbon neutral, but because they’re the cheapest per kwh options in terms of deaths per kwh. Nuclear probably will also become the cheapest in terms of dollars per kwh as we design better plants. We’re already well on our way to replacing our peaker plants with wind and solar. Now we just need to slay the baseline load dragon – and if you all *really* hate nuclear even after you understand it, I guess we can talk about pumped storage, mechanical storage, and battery storage. We will come up with something.. if we try.

One thing we do need to figure out what to do about is republicans out-and-out lying about technologies to try and block them. I’m sure you’ve all heard the *absurd* claim that a wind plant or a solar array takes more power to make than it generates. We really do, as a side note, need to figure out how we can possibly survive as a country *at all* with one side willing to *lie repeatedly* about *everything* in order to try and make a few billionaires richer.

Capitalism and unconscious bias

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

So, I inadvertently got into a discussion about piracy and intellectual property in a place where a number of content creators hang out, and the results drew my attention to something that I’ve thought about before, and want to speak on some.

Said content creators were insisting that piracy hurt their bottom line. One spoke about how a new book she had writen “made only $20”. Now, I’m very clear on piracy had nothing to do with this – the problems those creators are up against is that we have many, many, many more good content creators than we did – the internet has made every person with a video camera, tape recorder, or keyboard a potential filmmaker, musician, or author, and the net result is that it’s very, very difficult to stand out of the crowd and get noticed. I spent ten hours on my last song and it has, thus far, 41 downloads – I consider myself very lucky when content I am working on breaks 100 downloads, and I will be astonished if my upcoming album makes more than 100 sales.

However, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about is how capitalism affects unconscious bias in ways that hurt us all. This is most dramatic to me in the case of the preacher who cannot fathom in any way that the religion they are spreading might be wrong or damaging (because if that was the case they’d have to find a new job) but I think also the content creators blaming piracy – and more to the point, *caring* about what people who can’t possibly buy their content do – also illustrates the same sort of problem. The grocer who makes sure to destroy potential food before throwing it away so homeless folks don’t eat it. I could go on for a while, but the point I want to make is that we are not always aware of the neural structures that are being built inside our minds but it is a *really* safe bet that those structures are going to tend to be pro-survival since that’s why evolution has seen fit to gift us with these big brains anyway. Now, capitalism often makes decisions which hurt all of us pro-survival for individual members of the species. I think a lot of people have implicit biases towards acts that one might call evil, or at least incredibly selfish, but are not aware of those biases because they’re wired into their neural net on a subconscious level, or at least in a way their neocortex can not enumerate and/or see.

Nowhere is this more frightening than in for-profit medicine. I’ve noticed that when it comes to things that will kill you otherwise (i.e. heart attacks) the US healhcare system is moderately competent if overpriced. But when it comes to things that won’t, they’re really, really bad. I think part of why this is is that evey doctor in the system is going to have uunconscious bias towards doing things which don’t solve the problem so you’ll keep coming back because every time you come back they make more money. Basically it’s just like the thing with SSDI and the printer cables all over again.

And this isn’t something we’re looking for or measuring, partially because one of the unconscious biases we end up with is that capitalism is good and helping us – if we have a lot of money. And of course because of some of the decisions we have made lately if we have a lot of money we also have a lot of power so we are the one who’s decisions and thoughts are leading to the end result. It’s amazing how pervasive these unconscious biases can be – I gesture you to the cash for kids scandal – these judges really thought, at least claimed to have thought, that they were still behaving reasonably.

Anti-piracy measures hurt us, piracy helps us

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

So, I wanted to write yet another essay on my opinions about intellectual property. They have become more clearly defined in my mind over time. Now, keep in mind, these opinions are based on a holistic view – if one were looking at the human race from the outside.

My first observation is that anti-piracy measures have cost us all millions of man-hours. the FBI warnings that can’t be skipped, all the thousands of hours developers have wasted on anti-piracy measures despite the fact that ultimately any media (music / movie / what have you) cannot be made pirate-proof because there is no closing the analog hole. Anti-piracy hurts the human race and the only reason it exists is there are some morons who can’t do the math and can only feel tall if they know someone else is short.

It also hurts us in other ways. To the extent that law enforcement and the CRJ wastes time on these frivolous claims by multimillion-or-billion-dollar-entities about people with almost no money, it’s wasting the time of those systems, and to the extent that they actually choose to punish piracy, it’s hurting people who have committed no real crime. It’s a sign of how deeply fucked up our world is that we would put someone in jail for stealing something that A: they couldn’t pay for and that B: that isn’t *gone* once it’s stolen. It shows that we let exactly the wrong people drive the bus.

My second observation is that piracy *helps us*. Now, I’m not speaking here of piracy done by people who could afford the content. They’re being asshats, screw them. Them as have the resources should pay for content – as I do, now that I do – so that content creators will have the resources to continue creating content.

I’m talking about the 12 year olds copying music, the people who barely manage to pay their bills pirating movies, things like that. In the first place, I made a argument a very long time ago that their piracy is just a form of de-facto librarying – humanity has certainly purchased enough licenses of this content that isn’t in use at any given point that you can think of what they’re doing as just using library copies in a more efficient way. but beyond that, they also help us all in several other ways.

First of all, exposure to ideas in movies, music, books, etc, makes people’s neural networks grow. Our brains physically change state when exposed to new input. So these people are helping themselves grow and become more intelligent and capable – or more SOMETHING anyway – which thusly is helping humanity as a whole have more people who are bigger and more complex. And, let’s face it, it’s not like these people were going to pay anyway. They don’t have the money. No one is losing any money, some people are just too awful to share.

Second of all, having a number of people who are familiar with the same books and movies and music gives us cultural references than enable us to communicate more clearly. So these people are aiding humanity as a whole’s ability to communicate.

Third of all, to the extent that these people enjoy their pirated content, they are adding to the net happiness of humanity as a whole.

I want to mention a few more things about intellectual property while I’m at it. First of all, you have to remember that intellectual property *existed before we found it* in potentia. As I’ve talked about before, any digital content is already sitting on the number line, existing in a abstract sense, before we do the work to concretely bring it into this world. Not only that, you can make infinite copies of any digital asset without reducing in any way the value or quality of the original. (In fact, as I discussed above, the original *gains* value when it becomes a cultural rosetta stone)

It’s also true that one number might well mean two different things depending on what codec you run it through. So you may find yourself (in a really odd world) in the bizarre position of, for example, having a digital image that’s identical to a MIDI file that contains a hook that already exists. As soon as you start thinking about the absurdity of, for example, someone claiming they own the number ‘2’, you start to comprehend the insanity of our system that allows someone to camp on any idea – when the same idea might have occured to many, many people. It’s a safe bet that across the universe musicians on millions of planets have landed on the same chord progressions as sounding good – once you start looking at infinity and eternity it becomes clear that we’re never the first to play these notes or think these things.

Intellectual property is a band-aid to try and make our already broken resource allocation system work for content creators. Personally I think – as I’ve discussed many other places – that it’s time to invent a new resource allocation system because ours is deeply flawed in ways that are reducing the net happiness of most of the users – and I do think it’s important to think of the needs of *all* the users in the system, not just the most mercenary.

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

I do sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong place or time, but I have to admit there are many worse places I could have landed in. My pro-collectivism attitude would have ensured I was unemployed and homeless in the 50s thanks to McCarthy. My anti-Christian attitudes would have gotten me *hung* in the middle ages, and my mental illness would have gotten me shot by the cops by now if I were black. All of this does underline the fact that we have more freedom than we ever have, but that we also have a long way to go.

Why to play fair in war, especially cold wars

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

So, recently on facebook on the Heinlein discussion group I had discussed the fundamental hypocrisy of the USA threatening the USSR over the missiles they placed in cuba when we had missiles placed in europe equally close to the USSR and ready to threaten their homes.

Someone in the group had said essentially that one should not try to play fair in war, that you should do whatever you can do to win.

Now, shortly after this I decided to take a facebreak, so I never posted my rebuttal there. However, I”m going to post it here, because I think it’s a important idea to think about.

No, you should not take unfair advantage, *especially* in a cold war. Even Heinlein recognized this – in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress he did not have the colonists drop their kinetic energy weapons on every city in the world even though they clearly could have wiped out 90% of humanity with the first drop. Prof’s reason was sanity itself “Whenever possible, always leave room for your enemy to become your friend.”. The same sanity appears in Crimson Tide “The enemy is war itself”.

This is *especially* important in the nuclear age, but it was important even before then. A endless serious of escalations will eventually leave everybody blind and will lead to a never-ending war. The USA unfortunately has a thuggish attitude when it comes to the rest of the world and has no problem with using force when it’s not appropriate. For this, we leave our children with a unpayable debt- eventually our country will be forced to default or disband, or we will need to change the way we think about money. For this, we have the ability to wipe all humanity off earth just by launching a third of the fusion weapons we have mounted on ICBMs. (One might say one proof there is a God is that WWIII hasn’t happened – although this may just prove that quantum immortality is a fact)

You cannot do whatever it takes to win. Sometimes you have to accept that losing now is better than losing later in a much larger way. The Geneva Conventions, which the USA has violated over and over, recognize this fact, as well as the fact that civilians should not be forced to suffer because of the awfulness of leaders. Unfortunately because we have the biggest gun, our government can not be put in the slammer, but that is undoubtedly where it belongs for repeated crimes against humanity.

I will also mention that in a cold war, it’s *especially* important to play fair. The best outcome of a cold war is massive technological innovation and no actual hostilities. The USA and the USSR didn’t manage this – we had a series of proxy wars that killed millions and did untold damage to ecosystems. Hopefully a future performance test between collectivism and individualism will be less damaging to the world and the people in it.


Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

So, while watching You Don’t Know Jack, I pondered about how the religious are almost always on the wrong side of every issue. Over time, the people figure this out, but they always slow down the growth of humanity.

Naturally the religious are on the wrong side of assisted suicide – abortion – gay marriage – whether the earth orbits the sun or vice versa, even.

My natural tendency is to blame religion but I’m starting to contemplate whether I’m looking at this backwards. Perhaps religion is not the cause but rather the symptom, and the cause is a neural network that resonates with wrong ideas. (in some cases just wrong in that they’re inherently internally inconsistent, wrong in some cases in that they discard empathy and throw fellow humans under the bus, and wrong in some cases in that they are demonstrably factually incorrect)

This clearly is conservativism – how many times have they tried the Laffer curve in the hopes that maybe this time Lucy won’t pull away the football? How many times do they insist the problem is the immigrants when in fact the immigrants add enormous value to the society and have a much lower rate of crime than native citizens?

One question is whether that structure is something that can change. I tend to think it’s probably not.. it’s probably compiled in via neural structures on a level below that which most people can access. Conservatives can’t see that they’re wrong, any more than religious can see the inherent contradictions in their religion. I’m sure I have similar blindness lurking somewhere, but of course I can’t know where it is either.

And another..

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

One thing that is dramatic and scary is how quickly Americans are willing to watch their government throw away the bill of rights. (Except, of course, the second :)) I’m watching a history of the communist party in America and it’s incredible to what extent the government tried to outlaw a *idea*, and punished people for having that idea. It’s also similarly impressive how quickly half of Americans embraced facism when Trump showed up – and still can’t acknowledge to this day – even after a armed insurrection to overthrow the result of a free and fair election – that that’s what they embraced.

The bill of rights represents a set of ideals that we should try to live up to. It is true that from time to time we will slip – and from time to time safety may require placing some limits (i.e. not equipping citizens with nuclear bombs, no matter what the second amendment says) – but we should all act, by removing leaders who are encouraging overthrowing the ideas mentioned in the bill of rights. (This should be done by channels built within the system when possible, but at some point force may be necessary because of a willingness to cheat by both of the current sides). We have already lost the freedom to assemble – police regularly gas, mace, and beat up demonstrators who are peacefully assembling to petition the government for redress of grievances. And apparently in the 50s, we as a people allowed our leaders to go considerably further, and to outlaw ideas and to punish free speech and forbid association.

The truth is, if marxist or stalinist communism was superior, it should have been permitted to win. But it clearly wasn’t – events at the chernobyl power station demonstrate that stalinist communism had fatal flaws and would ultimately be relegated to the dustbin of history. (Any command and control axis that allows what is politically popular to override what is true in a nuclear power station without a containment system deserves to die a very quick death. Clearly the people in a control room “representing the interests of the party” should not have had any power at all – and yet they were able to bully board operators into doing suicidally stupid things. Of course, in America we’d probably see the same stupidity, but for money. Fortunately other forces – the fear of being sued into oblivion if you irradiate a few million civilians – mean we build nuclear power stations with containment systems so when they fail few radioactives get to escape)

However, we the people should be permitted to decide on our means of government – part of why I am so upset about Trump et al is not because Trump was a fascist, but because he did not have a majority and he still behaved as if he had a clear mandate. And, to underline the fact, he would never claim that he had won the popular vote in the second election, but he was willing to use violence to prevent the transfer of power.

So what gives? When is it appropriate to use violence, given that humans are wrong so often? It would have clearly been appropriate to use violence to *prevent* Trump from becoming a dictator, for example. And yet, one can look at cautionary tales like the USSR and the Nazis and McCarthyism and see that sometimes what is approved of by the majority is clearly wrong.

Hopefully it’s not a question I’ll have to come up with a firm answer to in the near future.