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Apr. 26th, 2015

eyes black and white

What is the International Community™? Part 1

This essay was originally written by Daniel A. Nagy and published on his Facebook page on December 11th, 2014

"What is the Matrix? Control."

One essential element of the existing world order is a mysterious, yet very powerful entity commonly referred to as the "international community". To the uninitiated, it might look like some vast conspiracy and quite a few people believe that it is one. To the rest, these people are nuts, believing in weird conspiracy theories. Yet another set of people noticed, that the truth value of most statements does not change if "international community" is replaced by "U. S. State Department" or vice versa. From this, they conclude that it is simply a different name for American diplomacy. They also, quite justifiably, end up as targets of mockery when agents of the International Community™ accused of being on the payroll of the U. S. State Department very obviously aren't.

Yet, the role of the International Community™ in the modern world order cannot be overstated. Its most visible activity is enforcing "democratic values" around the world and crushing those that deviate from them with all its military and financial might, if necessary. Left to their own devices, democracies very often deviate from these "democratic values". For example, majorities, given the opportunity, have no qualms about taking advantage of minorities, and in general, fascism is a known failure mode of democracy to which it easily and quickly evolves with the strong support of the (often overwhelming) majority of voters. There are quite a few policies that are consistently unpopular with voters, yet democratic leaders are at pains to enact them nonetheless, often at substantial political costs to themselves and substantial economic cost to their subjects. It is very tempting to get some extra popularity and prosperity by deviating from the Democratic Norms™. The International Community™ is there to reign in those deviants. It is the ultimate arbiter of all disputes, its decisions are enforced without appeal and no government or other organization can measure up to its military and financial might.

The International Community™ is often accused of hypocrisy, for having friends and allies that can get away with flouting any and all Democratic Norms™. However, these relationships, with very few exceptions, do not last long; it can turn on its erstwhile friends and allies at the slightest display of wavering loyalty and it does.

In this series of essays, I would like to explain my understanding of what the International Community™ is, how its seemingly inconsistent and downright crazy decisions are made and who are the people "behind" it. At this point, I would also like to acknowledge the inspiration by one Mencius Moldbug, with whom I disagree on almost everything else. I believe that the International Community™ is composed of individuals and their institutions all acting in line with their individually perceived interests, without actually conspiring with one another. They are mostly motivated by lust for power, fear, greed and missionary zeal, all reinforced by an unshakeable faith in their own superiority and entitlement. They sow destruction, misery and death. In each installment, I will discuss one institution of power of the International Community™. Here's the first one:

Journalists and the Independent Media™

The Freedom of Press™ is one of the core Democratic Values™. What it means in practice is that journalists enjoy immense power and privilege in the existing world order. They can violate anyone's privacy without consequences, for example. They are above the law for mere mortals or even mere governments in many other ways, too. Enemies of the International Community™ are mistaken in thinking that all they should do is outbidding the International Community™ in order to get journalists as loyal as those serving it. No matter how much outlets like RT pay their journalists to push the agenda of their government, they will have defections and miss top talent; because the journalists of the International Community™ push their own agenda, not that of the U.S. State Department (with which it often coincides for reasons discussed in a later essay) or any other government or business interest. No matter how much the king is paying to the journalist in money and privilege, the journalist will still desire to swap places with the king and be the one controlling the King's fate, not the other way around. This is why buying or creating "alternative" media outlets to counter the influence of the International Community™ in the media is a futile enterprise doomed to failure. If you set out to counter the propaganda of the International Community™, there is no journalist on whom you can count. If you do, you will end up with an inferior product and painful defections.

As any person in the position of power, journalists are, of course, corrupt. Since they have near-absolute power, they are very corrupt, in fact, but also very expensive. This might seem like a weakness, and indeed it is possible to destroy individual journalists by unmasking their corruption, but that may prove very difficult, expensive and dangerous.

The true and ultimate weakness of journalism is that it is entirely unnecessary and useless in the age of the internet. They do not do anything useful for anyone but themselves and their powerful friends. If you want to learn about something, there is no reason anymore to read or listen to journalists, because much better (more accurate, more reliable, etc.) sources of information abound. The best strategy for freeing yourself and the world is to ignore them out of power.

All that is not to say that you should hate journalists and that they are useless, evil people. Sure, as long as they work as journalists, they are useless and what they do is evil, but that is something that they can change and there is no reason for not helping them. Their skills are quite useful and valuable in a wide range of entirely peaceful and productive endeavors ranging from enternainment to marketing. Political journalism — hopefully — has no future, but these people — hopefully — do.

Apr. 25th, 2015

eyes black and white

Randroid detection

How to recognize randroids with no intellectual integrity: at some point, they repeat the talking point that Atlas Shrugged is "the second most influential book of all time after the Bible" — which when you dig is based on the single data point of one dubious poll by the Library of Congress decades ago in which randroids somehow self-selected as a plurality of minority responders (and sometimes a second self-selected poll from a random internet site). But guess what, more people in the USA actually claim to follow the Book of Mormon or the Quran than have ever read Atlas Shrugged, much less agreed with its philosophy. And these Mormons and Muslims actually put their money where their mouth is and pay weekly or yearly dues, whereas the "sales" figures for Atlas Shrugged are copiously inflated by a large number of copies bought by the Ayn Rand Institute itself, that end up given away and likely never read. If we are to count artificial "sales" like that, Dianetics ranks higher. Then again, outside the USA, the numbers are even less flattering for the randroids. So much for "second most influential book" bullshit.

Randroids ought to be ashamed to repeat such obvious lies that do not for a single moment impress a single listener. Miss Rand would certainly be ashamed of them: SHE had more intellectual integrity than to believe and repeat baseless propaganda — she even ran away from her country of birth so as not to have to repeat such. And she would never be caught alive resorting to Argumentum ad Populum.

Fuck randroids. They are just as despicable as antirandroids who repeat stupid talking points condemning Rand based on the opposite of what she said, wrote and stood for.

Apr. 13th, 2015

eyes black and white

Common Lisp as a Scripting Language, 2015 edition

The first computer I used had about 2KB of RAM. The other day, I compiled a 2KB Common Lisp script into a 16MB executable to get its startup (and total execution) time down from 2s to subjectively instantaneous — and that didn't bother me the least, for my current computer has 8GB of working memory and over 100GB of persistent memory. But it did bother me that it didn't bother me, for 16MB was also the memory on the first computer in which I felt I wasn't RAM-starved: I could run an X server, an Emacs editor and a shell terminal simultaneously without swapping! Now an entire comfortable software development universe could be casually wasted over a stupid optimization — that I have to care about because software systems still suck. And to imagine that before sentientkind reaches its malthusian future, code bumming will have become a popular activity again...

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Mar. 19th, 2015

eyes black and white

Orderly liquidation of the so-called "State" / Liquidation ordonnée du dit « État »

This text, signed Roman Perdeanu, was intended for publication in «Libres!!!» opus 3; but as said the project was relegated until further notice to a drawer, it instead ends up published on my blog.


Ce texte, signé Roman Perdeanu, était destiné à «Libres!!!» opus 3; mais comme ledit projet a été relégué jusqu'à nouvel ordre dans un tiroir, il se retrouve à paraître sur mon blogue. Aussi sur Contrepoints.

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Feb. 17th, 2015

eyes black and white

En France Soviétique, on envoie déjà les dissidents en Psikhushka!

Je fus abasourdi d'apprendre il y a quelques jours, grâce à Jean Robin d'Enquête et Débat, les détails de la terrifiante persécution dont a été victime notre ami, mon ami, Jean-Louis Caccomo: interné de force dans un asile psychiatrique, à l'instigation de son communiste de bureaucrate-en-chef, pour des motifs politiques, de façon aussi illégale que complètement injustifiée; là-bas, maltraité comme moins qu'un homme, voué à être enfermé à vie par une cabale de monstres, et par un coup de chance (toute relative), libéré par un médecin honnête auquel il avait été envoyé pour recevoir des électrochocs — et une fois libéré, devant faire face aux mêmes criminels qui essaient de le piéger à nouveau. Et à peu près sans aucune chance qu'on lui rende jamais justice.

L'affaire est si énorme que les bras m'en tombent. Relisez-donc le paragraphe précédent. Lentement. Une seconde fois. Prenez la mesure de l'horreur de la situation. Imaginez un homme innocent et sain d'esprit, initialement déprimé, mis en prison, drogué, traité comme un chien, moqué quotidiennement, dont chaque réaction révoltée, chaque tentative désespérée de faire valoir sa personnalité, est considérée comme preuve de plus qu'il est fou voire dangereux, cependant que chaque fois qu'au contraire il sombre dans le découragement et se laisse faire il est confirmé comme cliniquement déprimé — dans les deux cas, condamné à vie dans cet enfer carcéral qui ne dit pas son nom, sans rédemption possible car sans crime à racheter, sans guérison possible car sans mal à guérir, sans espoir. Il y a là proprement de quoi devenir fou. Et c'était bien le but.

Maintenant, comprenez les implications. Réalisez la nature de nos ennemis, et l'impudence de leur pouvoir criminel. Moi qui ai d'habitude l'emphase facile, les mots me manquent pour exprimer ma révulsion. Et quel est mon étonnement et ma déception de voir que cette affaire n'embrase pas, sinon les médias officiels aux bottes, sinon la blogosphère francophone abrutie de propagande, du moins les cercles libéraux. Comment d'aucuns prétendent-ils n'en pas savoir assez pour s'indigner? Les faits ne sont-ils pas abominablement clairs?

Selon la loi Française, et plus encore pour nous libéraux, il est tout à fait injustifié d'interner de force quiconque, sauf si non seulement la personne n'est pas saine d'esprit, mais encore et surtout, elle représente un danger immédiat pour la sécurité d'autrui, ou pour la sienne propre — et encore, pour un libéral, le suicide est tout à fait légitime, et ne justifie un internement forcé que si la pulsion suicidaire est aussi irrationnelle que passagère, et donc présumée être à l'opposé de ce que la personne veut vraiment. Jean-Louis Caccomo était-il donc déprimé? On le serait à moins, après avoir fait face simultanément à un divorce, à la perte de la garde ses enfants, à un revers de carrière due à une cabale politique, et à un environnement de travail quotidien où de nombreux de vos collègues y compris vos "supérieurs" hiérarchiques vous veulent manifestement un mal pire que la mort. Mais la déprime, qu'elle soit ou ne soit pas fondée, n'est pas une raison suffisante pour interner qui que ce soit contre son gré.

En effet, un trouble psychologique en tant que tel ne suffit absolument pas à justifier un internement forcé — ou alors c'est la très grande majorité des êtres humains qu'il faudrait enfermer (et parfois, la planète ressemble assez à un asile à ciel ouvert en effet). Presque tous les êtres humains pourraient bénéficier d'une aide psychologique, mais le prix élevé d'un suivi efficace (quand il l'est) ne le justifie pas sauf dans les cas marginaux: rares sont les gens à la fois assez fous pour que de tels soins vaillent la peine et assez sains pour s'en apercevoir, pouvoir se les offrir, et sauter le pas. Donc, Jean-Louis Caccomo avait sans doute ses démons, ses faiblesses, ses défauts et aurait pu bénéficier comme tant parmi nous de soutiens psychologiques — mais ce n'est pas du tout ce dont il est question! Il est question d'interner quelqu'un de force, contre son gré, de lui faire subir un grand nombre d'outrages, qui sont tout à fait impropres à guérir quiconque, bien au contraire, et que seul peut justifier un danger que présente la personne à autrui, ou dans certains cas à elle-même.

Aussi, Jean-Louis Caccomo était-il un danger pour autrui? Absolument pas. À aucun moment. Le prétexte employé par ses bourreaux était qu'un étudiant "déséquilibré" sur le même campus avait commis un meurtre récemment. Quel rapport? Strictement aucun. Jean-Louis Caccomo faisait-il partie d'un même groupe d'assassins? Que nenni. Son cas ressemblait-il en rien à celui de l'étudiant meurtrier? Aucun rapport — juste un vil prétexte pris par ses ennemis politiques pour l'interner, au nom d'un soi-disant "principe de précaution" qui nie la responsabilité individuelle des coupables autant que la liberté individuelle des innocents, qui nie toutes les précautions, qui nie tous les principes — qui n'est en fait que prétexte totalitaire aux décisions arbitraires des puissants.

Jean-Louis Caccomo était-il suicidaire? L'idée du suicide avait sans doute pu le traverser, malheureux qu'il était; mais avait-il jamais fait une tentative sérieuse en ce sens? non, rien qui vaille d'être interné pendant des années. Non seulement il était vivant et en bonne santé physique quand il fut interné, mais ce n'est absolument pas à l'occasion d'une tentative de suicide manquée que Jean-Louis Caccomo a été interné: il s'est tranquillement présenté à ce qu'il croyait être une formalité administrative mais était en fait un piège, à l'instigation du petit chef que la bureaucratie socialiste nationale lui infligeait. Au moment où il fut interné, déprimé qu'il était, il n'était pas donc suicidaire; ce dont il avait besoin, c'était du réconfort de ses amis ou du soutien d'un thérapeute; certainement pas des mauvais traitements de geôliers en blouse blanche. Cela est d'autant plus important que puisqu'il n'était pas un danger pour autrui, c'est dans son propre intérêt et cet intérêt seul qu'il aurait éventuellement pu être interné — or l'internement dont il a été l'objet, dans des conditions épouvantables, s'est fait à l'opposé total de ses intérêts.

Scandale, non moins terrible: un adulte responsable innocent possède seul le droit de décider s'il veut un traitement ou pas. S'il est reconnu juridiquement incapable ou irresponsable, alors ce droit revient à son tuteur légal, et à nul autre — certainement pas à un tiers, fût-il un "supérieur" hiérarchique, le président ou le pape — et surtout pas à un ennemi personnel. En l'absence de jugement de cour, et en cas d'urgence, alors le conjoint, le père, la mère, ou à défaut le parent le plus proche, peut temporairement et dans l'urgence tenir lieu de tuteur; mais cela doit rester temporaire jusqu'à un jugement de cour informé par l'opinion d'experts indépendants mette un malheureux dans les mains d'un tuteur; et ce tuteur sera soumis à de sévères contraintes quant au respect des intérêts de son pupille. Or, rien de tout cela n'est arrivé: aucun tuteur régulier ni aucun membre de la famille n'a pris l'initiative d'un internement, mais bien un ennemi personnel; aucun jugement de cour n'a établi d'incapacité, et pour cause aucune cour n'a été réunie; aucune expertise indépendante n'a eu lieu — l'internement a même été signé par un médecin complice qui n'a même pas vu Jean-Louis en consultation!

Troisième scandale, plus horrifique encore: Tout cela n'a pas eu lieu seulement par erreur, incompétence, ou désaffectation des institutions concernées — quoiqu'erreur, incompétence et désaffectation aient été présentes — mais par une volonté délibérée de nuire à tous les niveaux. Tout cela ne s'est pas seulement fait dans l'ignorance et l'insouciance des intérêts de l'interné, mais contre ses intérêts, de façon aussi malveillante que préméditée. On ne piège pas quelqu'un dans un asile psychiatrique pour son bien; on ne signe pas légèrement un arrêt d'internement indéfini pour le bien du "patient" quand on n'a pas d'abord tout fait pour s'assurer que c'est le dernier recours; on ne maltraite pas quotidiennement un interné par amour; on ne traite pas une personne d'élucubrateur quand on ne sait rien de son passé; on ne drogue pas à fond une personne plusieurs fois par jour pour ensuite conclure qu'elle n'est pas dans son état normal et reconduire de jour en jour, de semaine en semaine, de mois en mois, d'année en année, son internement.

Dernier scandale, qui devrait donner à réfléchir à tous les libéraux en particulier, mais en fait à tous ceux qui osent penser par eux-mêmes et ne pas être en tout d'accord avec ceux qui sont plus puissants qu'eux: en France socialiste aujourd'hui, comme en Russie socialiste naguère, les socialistes au pouvoir veulent et peuvent mettre en prison les dissidents qui refusent de "penser" comme eux. Car ne nous le cachons pas: ses opinions politiques furent une raison majeure pour laquelle Jean-Louis Caccomo a été poursuivi par tant de haine criminelle. La simple jalousie de ses succès n'était pas suffisante pour le traiter comme moins qu'humain. L'inimitié personnelle seule n'est pas assez pour expliquer le passage à l'acte de ses bourreaux. La calomnie selon laquelle ses opinions à l'encontre de la pensée unique nationale socialiste relevaient du dérangement mental, furent une ratiocination essentielle à cette agression innommable, dans le cas de Jean-Louis Caccomo comme dans celui des dissidents russes que les pouvoirs soviétiques déjà envoyaient en psikhushka pour y recevoir drogues, coups et violences, et électro-chocs, sans parler des humiliations, du manque d'hygiène, et autres effroyables conditions de vie carcérales — où Jean-Louis Caccomo a perdu ses ongles et ses dents!

Car vous aussi, lecteurs, êtes dans le colimateur de ces ennemis politiques sans scrupules. Alors qu'ils n'ont jamais assez d'excuses pour se montrer cléments envers les criminels violents de droit commun, "socialement proches", alors que la lie de la terre quand elle se lance dans la barbarie fanatique est excusée parce que prétendument "opprimée", les communistes vouent à la destruction complète, par une répression sans aucune pitié tous les "ennemis de classe" qui osent se dresser contre leur pouvoir totalitaire. Et si vous n'êtes pas une larve totalement dénuée d'intégrité, si vous n'êtes pas un complice actif de leur oppression, cela vous inclut vous aussi comme cible, dès que vous oserez lever la tête plutôt que de vous laisser écraser.

Je suis Jean-Louis Caccomo. Nous sommes tous Jean-Louis Caccomo. Nous tous sommes les ennemis désignés des bureaucrates de l'éducation nationale socialiste et de tout l'État d'ordures qui les soudoit. Vous aurez beau vouloir vous désintéresser du socialisme, le socialisme s'intéresse à vous. Vous pouvez ne désirer que vivre en paix, les socialistes vous ont déclaré la guerre, à vous ainsi qu'à tout ce qui fait la civilisation. Honte à vous si vous ne savez pas reconnaître vos ennemis mortels, et placez vos espoirs sur le secours que l'un d'entre eux vous apporterait peut-être contre l'autre.

Jan. 26th, 2015

eyes black and white

Programming on valium

Google AutoValue: what in Lisp would take a few hundred lines max in Java is over 10000 lines not counting many, many libraries. Just WOW!

Thus, Java has macros too, it's just that they are 10 to 100 times more programmer-intensive than Lisp macros. I feel like I'm back in the dark ages.

Even for "normal" programming without new macros, a program I wrote both in Java and in Clojure was about 4 times bigger in Java (and that's despite using AutoValue). I also took ten times longer to write and debug the Java program (despite having written the Clojure program before, so no hard thinking whatsoever needed), with a frustrating edit-compile-run cycle many orders of magnitude slower. Part of the difference is my being much more experienced in Lisp than in Java, but even accounting for that, Java is slower to develop with.

The Java code is also much harder to read, because you have to wade through a lot of bureaucracy — each line does less, and so may be slightly faster to read, yet takes no less time to write, debug, modify, test, because of all the details that need be just right. Yet you must read and write more Java, and it's therefore harder to get the big picture, because there is less information available by screenful (or mindful) and much more noise. The limitation on available information is not just per screenful but also per file, and you find you have to jump constantly through so many files in addition to classes within a file; this is a lot of pain, even after accounting for the programming environments that alleviate the pain somewhat. Thus the very slight micro-level advantage of Java in readability per line is actually a big macro-level handicap in overall program readability.

Lack of both type aliasing and retroactive implementation of interfaces also means that type abstraction, while possible with generics and interfaces (themselves very verbose, though no more than the rest of the language), will require explicit wrappers with an immense amount of boilerplate, if not reimplementation. This strongly encourages programmers to eschew type abstraction, leading to more code explosion and much decreased maintainability.

Also, because function definition is so syntactically cumbersome in Java, programs tend to rely instead on big functions with a lot of side-effects, which yields spaghetti code that is very hard to read, understand, debug, test or modify — as compared to writing small conceptually simple functions that you compose into larger ones, as you would in a functional programming language.

The lack of tuple types is also a big factor against functional programming in Java: you'll need to declare a lot of extra classes or interfaces as bureaucracy just because you want a couple functions to pass and return a few values together (some people instead use side-effects for that — yuck). You could use a generic pair, but that leads to horrible types with many<layers<of<angle,brackets>>> which is very hard to read or write, and doesn't scale to larger tuples; of course, the need to declare types everywhere instead of having them inferred by the compiler means that even with tuples of arbitrary size, you'll need to spell out long unwieldy types more often that you'd like. Ignorants complain about the number of parentheses in Lisp, but just because of the size increase, there are a lot more parentheses in my Java program than in my Lisp program, and if we are to include all curly, angle and square brackets, that will be another many-fold increase.

Java 8 makes the syntax for functional programs slightly easier, and AutoValue makes it slightly less painful to bundle values together, but even with these improvements, Java remains extremely verbose.

The standard library is horrible, with side-effects everywhere, and a relatively poor set of primitives. This leads to the ugly habit of having to resort to "friend" classes with lots of static methods, which leads to a very different style of invocation and forces more bureaucratic wrapping to give things a unified interface. The lack of either CLOS-style generic functions or Clojure-type protocols mean you can't add decent interfaces to existing data-structures after the fact, making inter-operation with other people's code harder, whether you decide to adopt your own data-structure library (e.g. a pure functional one) or just try to extend existing ones. Lack of multiple inheritance also means you have to repetitively repeat a lot of boilerplate that could have been shared with a common mixin (aka trait class).

All in all, Java is just as heavily bureaucratic as I expected. It was developed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats, mediocre people who think they are productive when they have written a lot of code for a small result, when better tools allow better people to write a small amount of code for a big result. By analogy with programming languages said to be a variant of something "on steroids", I'd say that Java is a semi-decent programming language on valium. As to what template is sedated, I'd say a mutt of Pascal and Smalltalk. But at least it's semi-decent, and you can see that a lot intelligent people who understand programming language design and implementation have worked on it and tried to improve upon the joke of a language that Java was initially. Despite the bureaucracy, the sheer amount of talent thrown at the language has resulted in something that manages to not be bad.

This hard work by clever people makes Java so much better than Python, an attractive nuisance with lots of cool features that lead you into a death by a thousand cuts of small bad decisions that amplify each other. Superficially, Python looks like a crippled Lisp without macros and with a nice toy object system — but despite a lot of very cool features and a syntax that you can tell was spent a lot of time on (yet still ended up with many bad choices), Python was obviously written by someone who doesn't have a remote clue about semantics, resulting in a lot of pitfalls for programmers to avoid (there again with side-effects galore), and an intrinsically slow implementation that requires a lot of compile-time cleverness and runtime bureaucracy to improve upon.

In conclusion, I'd say that Java is a uniformly mediocre language that will drag you down with bureaucracy, which makes it rank well above a lot of overall bad languages like Python — but that's a very low bar.

Does this rampant mediocrity affect all industries? I'm convinced it does — it's not like these industries are fielded by better people than the software industry. Therefore it's an ever renewed wonder to me to see that the world keeps turning, that civilization endures. "A common man marvels at uncommon things; a wise man marvels at the commonplace." — Confucius

Jan. 24th, 2015

eyes black and white

Moral failings of the "libertarian" left

Ryan Calhoun asks me why I call C4SS's post about the Brad Spangler affair disgusting. The context: Brad co-founded the organization 8 years ago, and was its original Director until 2011 or 2012; he stopped being active since 2012 (though he did occasionally handle information system administration issues). For some time now, he openly assumed his taste for underage women; yesterday though, he publicly admitted to sexually molesting a ~10 year old girl under his care over ten years ago. My answer to the C4SS statement follows:

[What makes your post disgusting?] Making exaggerated displays of insincere outrage. Failing to take responsibility, by censoring his articles from your site rather than amending them with a note. Taking the opportunity to be self-serving instead of apologetic and attempting a callous political recuperation of a private crime. Making a [public] display of "charity", as pathetic as miserable. [I'd now add: not caring the least about the victim, or about libertarian principles of justice, instead whining about the effect on [your] image, and bullshitting at length about [your obsession,] identity politics. It's all "me, me, me!"] In general, writing for effect [rather] than for truth. But typical of C4SS in each and every one of these aspects, so I suppose it's par for the course.

Yet, since you're asking for details, I must acknowledge that this is not the worst thing I've seen. C4SS is misguided, but still basically honest — at least no more dishonest with others than they are with themselves, and less dishonest with themselves than the majority, I suppose. Still quite a mediocre standard.

What I further do not expect you to ever, ever attempt, is a reflection on what defects in Brad's personality made him both a criminal and someone attracted to your ideas, and how you can help address those defects in those who are attracted to your ideas for the same reason — and in the ideas that they have influenced you into adopting.

Since you're unlikely to come up with a valid answer, let me tell you the intellectual failings of the left, libertarian as they may lean: the denial of individual responsibility; the desire to think what pleases [] others rather than [what] is true; making everything a political question instead of defusing politics [i.e. conflict]. These defects can be found in everyone, including myself — but the left (including the "libertarian" left) amplifies (and sometimes celebrates) these defects rather than attempts to correct them. Shame on you.

Of course Ryan C and George G thereafter accuse me of trying to make a political point out of a [private] tragedy, never mind that the bottom of their own post, more than half of it, is a cut-and-paste piece of [leftist] political propaganda, even without arguing about the rest. George G even tries to ridicule me for making a "connection between left libertarianism and pedophilia", when the connection I make is between left "libertarianism" and blaming society for the crimes committed by individuals. Despicable fools.

Note that I previously responded to Spangler's left "libertarian" ideas (so far as I can tell shared by C4SS) on my blog: Thou shalt not steal, not even from the State, and Why you should NOT care about Israel and Palestine. His crime as such certainly does not invalidate the arguments he either repeated or contributed, but it does cast a doubt on them and invites those who fell for them to carefully reexamine them. And of course, the "libertarian" left is vastly nicer, more rational and less criminal than the left that isn't even libertarian at all. But that's a low, low bar.

Regarding the crime scandal itself, I'll say that the lynch mobs that revel in calls for violence with much fake outrage make me sympathize with the poor wreck — just like the (actually violent) socialist censors in France managed to make me sympathize with right-wing anti-abortionist nuts or an idiot islamic humorist, all of them peaceful if misguided (and fantasizing about acquiring the State's impunity to not at all peacefully enact their favorite policies). You won't see me agitating pitchforks, here or anywhere. Brad Spangler is no present threat to anyone but himself (that I know of), and therefore no legitimate target for violent police action (though quite legitimate object of ostracism). What this rapist deserves is whatever his victim wants to inflict upon him... nothing more, nothing less — OK, something less if she demands too much, but nothing more: Justice is (or should be) a private affair. My thoughts thus go to the poor girl, whom he identified, and whose life has been crushed a second time, this time all too publicly; she won't be able to get any compensation whatsoever from a man now promised to government cages at taxpayers' expense. As George Donnelly remarked, by making a public display of his crime and appealing for state police action against himself, Spangler yesterday not only betrayed his victim a second time, in addition to having raped her ten years ago, he also betrayed the beliefs he still claims to hold in a stateless justice system. For the political establishment has my complete trust to not-so-swiftly and much-onerously serve total injustice.

As to those who emitted doubts that Brad's admission of guilt was real, my answer was and is: Actually, his Facebook account was hacked by a special unit of the NSA, then the FBI abducted him, to be rendered in Guantanamo under a fake identity, all that because his activism was the #1 threat to national security, far beyond anyone else that the shadowy Washington conspiracies haven't thus silenced yet... not.

Update: Among the C4SS organizers, at least Tom Knapp shows some decency in dissociating himself from most of the official C4SS statement. In the comments to his post, he gives a pretty reasonable explanations for the behavior of C4SS, that would have usefully featured in their official statement. But he seems isolated in the organization. Instead, the way the affair is handled by Carson & al. is despicable. Interesting how these leftists act with a mix of collective guilt and self indulgence — because they won't fully recognize individual responsibility.

Second update: Not only was the admitted child rape case confirmed by the victim, there are rumors of more victims having now spoken up. I fear that I was wrong presuming he's no present danger — then he needs to be put away from society, at his own expenses. I'm told there are small towns where sex-offenders congregate. Assuming he didn't do enough wrong to forfeit his right to live, he could live there with a location device and be a danger no more. Give him all the child porn he needs to not go on a rampage (punish those who made such porn if real, of course), and shoot him dead if he's ever found roaming free anywhere near children or away from authorized zones. Maybe then he can be a productive member of society again, and most of his disposable income can be transferred to his victims as damage payment. Or then again, maybe he can't be trusted to do right, or he did enough wrong to enough victims that his life is forfeited.

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Histoire Africaine

Je ne me souviens plus d'où je tiens cette blague mais tous mes amis africains ou africanophiles s'accordent à en confirmer la vérisimilitude, et suspectent qu'elle est basée sur une histoire réelle, à peine épicée.

C'est l'histoire d'un jeune politicien africain idéaliste, qui vient en stage en France. Là, il est pris sous l'aile d'un parlementaire spécialiste dans les infrastructures publiques. Un jour, le député invite son protégé dans une de ses villas, une grande maison fort jolie en haut d'une colline, avec vue imprenable sur la Riviera (sur un terrain précédemment déclaré inconstructible, acheté à vil prix à l'ancien propriétaire au nom de la femme du député, puis reclassé comme constructible, quelle chance). Notre jeune idéaliste, né dans la brousse, s'émerveille de tout ce confort paisible et spacieux. Il demande à son mentor:

— Comment, vous qui vous sacrifiez pour le bien public, même avec vos indemnités d'élu et en investissant au mieux, avez-vous pu vous permettre d'acheter une telle villa?
— Ah, mon jeune ami! Regarde bien tout en bas de la colline.
— Je ne vois rien. Juste la côte... des maisons... une autoroute...
— Aha! Eh bien figure-toi que cette autoroute a coûté plusieurs milliards.
— Oui; mais quel rapport?
— Tu sais bien que j'ai beaucoup de poids sur les dossiers autoroutiers. Cette villa, c'est ma commission sur l'autoroute que tu vois en bas.
— Oh!

Plusieurs années plus tard, le jeune africain est devenu lui aussi parlementaire influent et maintenant ministre des transports. Il reçoit son ancien mentor qui vient lui rendre visite. Et là, ce n'est pas juste dans une belle villa qu'il accueille son homologue, mais dans un palais magnifique, avec marbre, ors et diamants, servants et servantes.

— Monsieur le ministre, je suis ravi de voir que vous avez aussi bien réussi!
— C'est tout grâce à toi, mon ami qui m'a aidé à me lancer dans la politique.
— Mais je vous en prie. Cependant, je me demande: comment avez-vous fait, vous qui vivez dans un pays tellement plus pauvre que le mien, pour vous payer un tel palais tellement plus grand et plus beau que tous les miens réunis?
— Aha! Mais, cher maître, je n'ai fait qu'appliquer les leçons que tu m'as enseignées autrefois.
— Comment cela?
— Eh bien, te souviens-tu de l'autoroute pour construire laquelle ton gouvernement envoie des milliards à mon pays?
— Oui, bien sûr: c'était sur mon projet de loi, et vous savez bien que j'ai reçu ma petite rétro-commission, pour laquelle je vous suis d'ailleurs fort reconnaissant.
— Bon, alors, regarde en bas de la colline.
— Hum... j'ai beau regarder, je ne vois pas l'autoroute. Où est-elle?
— Mais mon ami, elle est tout autour de toi. Ce palais, c'est l'autoroute que tu ne vois pas en bas!

N'allez pas dire à un Africain que l'état (d'ordures) veut son bien, ou est la solution à quelque problème que ce soit. Il vous rira au nez. Du plus petit fonctionnaire au plus grand ministre, les hommes de l'état (d'immondice) sont tous des corrompus, hiérarchisés selon leur degré croissant de sociopathie. Le mythe de "l'état notre ami" est une fable pour occidentaux aisés, et pour victimes abruties par la propagande étatique omniprésente du berceau au cerceuil. L'état (de criminels) n'a jamais été que la pseudo-légitimation de la violence, et le désarmement par les bureaucrates des victimes de leur racket — qui se retrouvent sans défense face aux terroristes fanatiques aspirant à devenir calife à la place du président. Je laisserai donc à Doug Casey la morale de cette histoire: L'aide internationale peut être définie comme un transfert d'argent, des pauvres des pays riches vers les riches des pays pauvres.

Jan. 8th, 2015

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Si "la foi" c'est admettre à la fois qu'on ne sait pas grand'chose, et parmi ce pas grand'chose, la justification d'encore moins du reste de ce grand'chose — alors oui, il y a des tas croyances que j'ai que je ne saurais pas justifier, y compris des croyances indispensables à ma survie. Cette "foi" est non seulement utile mais nécessaire.

"Que la vie vaille d'être vécue est la plus nécessaire des hypothèses, et, si on refuse de la supposer, la plus impossible des conclusions." — George Santayana

Mais si la "foi", c'est au contraire, prétendre que cette ignorance est connaissance, que l'absence de justification est elle-même justification, que les croyances injustifiées ne sauraient être mises individuellement en question du fait que leur existence collective ne saurait l'être — alors loin d'être l'acceptation d'axiomes salvateurs, c'est au contraire la sclérose de l'esprit, la mort de la raison, le passage en fraude des croyances falsifiées, la protection des parasites mentaux contre les arguments censés les éliminer.

Pour reprendre un Raymond Devos d'autrefois: j'ai un foie, j'ai parfois les foies, j'ai foi en moi — des fois, à Foix — mais ma foi "La Foi", pfoua pour moi! (Non mais des fois!)

Dec. 28th, 2014

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"A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory" says the IMDB tagline. If in addition to that, I tell you that it sports a cluster of stars and is done in magical realist style with a continuous shot, you can probably fill in the blanks and write the movie yourself. It's formulaic as hell; it just remixes a lot of well-known tropes; it's yet another annoying movie by actors about actors. And still, in the end, it manages to be quite a good reasonably original movie. Script-writer, director, actors, cameramen, SFX engineers, and all crew members know what they are doing and they do it well, and bring about their own mix of the known elements. Just as importantly, they also know what they're not good at, and don't even try, thus sparing us the lame rationalizations or the patronizing propaganda present in so many other movies "with a message". Just relax, wear the shoes of Michael Keaton, and let the emotions flow through you (the medium is the massage). Quite a decent movie worth watching once, if not twice — but not more. Note: 7

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Dec. 24th, 2014

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Why surrender

Cantwell doesn't mince words, but he got the concepts right: violence breeds violence, and we should have no pity for dead criminals on either side of a gang war — only for innocent victims like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, James Whitehead, and countless murdered by the killer smurfs as well as by gangsters in different garb.

Does that mean "we" should actively go after the costumed villains? No. First, there is no "we" — everyone's case is his own, of which he is the sole ultimate judge. Second, it is generally unwise to fight people who possess superior force; maybe you care about a particular criminal being dead more than you care to live, but that's not the case for most people, and that's alright. Third, the process of violence itself is toxic, and it's unclear at best how you can fuel it without making things worse. Finally, get your personal priorities straight: is killing a criminal the greatest good you can do on earth? Especially since in the absence of mass resistance that would be the last useful thing you do?

Note that their conspiracy to cage and/or kill anyone who'd try to hold any one of them accountable for victimizing the public is of course is how the gangsters informally organized in this weakly-coordinated distributed gang known as the Establishment stay in power. That's also why not only is there no "we", there will be no organization of "I"'s either as long as they can efficiently spy on the public and control communications.

Now even assuming you decide that your time has come anyway and you might as well go berserk against the established criminals, the pseudo-random distribution with which you choose your target says a lot about your morality and wisdom, or lack thereof. If you pick unprovoked two random low-level enforcers in the street rather than go after one known for his zeal in evil, one known to have killed (of which there are only a few), or even against the direct managers of these enforcers, you are quite unwise in your moral priorities, which is another way of saying that you're evil yourself. The going after small criminals as such doesn't make you evil — what does is wasting your huge potential for good. Also, the preferring them as targets over bigger criminals, whether by conscious choice or by lack of thought, is quite evil for its adverse selection effect, barring other circumstances such as self-defence, or their being in the way of a bigger target.

Yet if after careful consideration you find that present use of desperate force against the Establishment truly is the best contribution you can make to all you hold dear, then my last advice to a man who finds he will fight a man-eating tiger with a knife is: don't try to clip its claws, much less to unroot its teeth — go for the jugular or carotid, the main blood vessels through which the blood flows to and from the head.

As for me, I have much better things to do than going after low-ranking thugs in this army of evil. It is a fact (therefore something neither happily nor unhappy) that often, surrender is the best policy. And whereas its capability for violence is an essential asset for the state, that it monopolizes, and that progress in warfare technology seems to only reinforce, its asset both the most important these days and the most susceptible to be thrown off balance by technological progress is the willingness of its victims to identify with it. And so I believe that the best contribution I can make on the topic is in engineering better memetic resistance against mental parasites.

Dec. 19th, 2014

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My Neighbor Totoro

Of course, "My Neighbor Totoro" is Véra's favorite movie: What other beautiful movie has a three year old as one of the two main protagonists, what more the one who drives the action (if not the main one unfolding it)? Obviously, she loves Totoro (though she gets upset everytime we draw her attention to the plush Totoro we bought her); but in the end, the "chat-bus" is her favorite monster. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! The movie will satisfy all children from 2 to 222 — even at the thousandth viewing (and there will be a lot of them). Note: 10

That's the first time I give a 10, and I do so without hesitation. Even Ratatouille only got a 9.5. No collection of clichés to both follow and disrupt and to artificially tie in a knot in the end (or fail to miserably all along), no too-clever-by-half ambiguity about whether the magic is real or not (it both unambiguously is and isn't — ¿por qué no los dos?), taking time to not rush things yet without dwelling on unnecessary events (the pictures accompanying the end music tell everything we might want to know about the rest of the story), no condescending propaganda for the author's favorite cause (but sincere nostalgia for a time lost, yet without hiding its hardships). Just a heartfelt story, delicately told, with beautiful animation and memorable original music fit to all the circumstances of the story. The opposite of what America does. Hats off to Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi.

Dec. 5th, 2014

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Haters gonna hate

At a meeting organized by old objectivists, I got thinking about all those "liberals" (US word for socialists) who so hate Ayn Rand they can't even hear her name without becoming angry, much less articulate a truthful account of her ideas that they could rebuke. They can't even try to put themselves in her shoes, feel like her, rejoice at the things she celebrated, and despise the things she scorned, they can't embrace her biases, what her passion brought that was positive, they can't relate to the wounds that explain her failures. The brain damage is not even at the level of reason, that they may or may not have otherwise reached. It goes deeper. Above all, what these collectivists are missing is EMPATHY.

Funny how collectivists precisely claim to be the great empaths, who feel for the weak, the poor, etc., when in actuality, they totally lack empathy, and use some kind of empty pseudo-empathy for collective abstractions as a prop to fill the utter void in their ability to relate to other humans. And that's how Benjamin Constant was already remarking that their modus operandi was to sacrifice to the people as a collective the holocaust of the people as individuals. (Funny that back in the days, the "liberals" denoted individualists like Benjamin Constant who opposed the growth of the State, when nowadays in the US, it denotes collectivist partisans of the totalitarian State.)

Sure, Ayn Rand herself lacked empathy. Part of it probably comes from innate inclinations. Another part probably involves experiencing the midst of a totalitarian revolution where people denounce each other for profit — to the point that members of the formerly aristocratic families must become themselves the most rabid communists and send their relatives to die in dark prison cells or concentration camps least they themselves get sent to cold death. She probably witnessed enough of the darker part of the human heart everywhere to not want to empathize too much. Yet, though she might have had sociopathic tendencies, she was capable of great personal charity — like giving shelter and a job to people formerly sent to concentration camp by collectivist hero Roosevelt based on their ethnicity. And unlike the "altruistic" collectivist kind of sociopaths, she never argued for mass murder.

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Dec. 4th, 2014

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Name the country...

Acquaintances spread suggestive pictures with the question: "Name the country built on the genocide of one race and the enslavement of another". Why? But each and every single fucking one of them! Name one that isn't, I double dare you. (Granted, maybe Iceland and Färoë never saw genocide, only enslavement — how many other such countries can you count?) Don't you think your despicable country is special for that, you disgusting nationalistic bigot. Now stop blaming people you're jealous of for the sins of the ancestors of other people who happen to have the same skin color as they do, you racist prick. So, "your" ancestors, based on your racist skin color equation, have been slaves for hundreds of years? My, how lucky of them! Mine, like those of most of humanity, have been slaves for thousands of years. And yes, through forced or forcefully incentivized unions, I have my share of the masters' blood. And so have you. So step off your high heels, forsake your disgraceful philosophy of hate and envy, and instead of playing this game of collectivist blaming of innocent people for other people's sins, start embracing love, reason, and individual responsibility. To paraphrase Ennio Flaiano (substituting the R- word for the F- word), "Racists divide in two categories: the racists and the anti-racists".

Nov. 23rd, 2014

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The Passport Game / Le jeu du passeport

Last night, I dreamed of a small social game, the passport game. (I'll fill in the implicit blanks from the dream.) A small number of people may play (say, from 2 to 6, maybe more if all players follow proper discipline). At the start, the players may sit around a table (or not), with a pen and paper, and agree on an order for players (clockwise, with the first player chosen at random). The players agree by proclamation on the general background for a trip, for instance the Orient-Express in 1914, a cruise on the Titanic, a Grand Hotel during the Cold War, a medical conference, etc., or if they can't agree, the first player chooses. Then, every player invents for himself the identity of a traveler, and writes it on his sheet of paper; when everyone is done, they each in turn show and read what they wrote, and everyone can offer amendments that the player can accept or reject. When everyone has declared his identity, everyone must invent a story whereby these identities were but cover identities: "Actually, I am ..., and you are ..., and you are ...", and writes a summary on his sheet of paper. Following the same principle, each in turn shows and reads his sheet of paper and tells his story, upon which the other playeurs can embroider and propose amendments that the teller can accept or reject. After each story, the players give in secret a note to the story as told and accepted by the teller, and may recalibrate notes for previous stories. When everyone has told his story (or passed his turn), the notes are revealed, that may be arbitrary numbers from 1 to 10, or an increasing order of preference from 1 to n with a bonus of n/2 for the most liked story. The story with the greatest total wins. With two players, it's simpler: either the two players agree on a winner, or it's a draw. The game can be played several times, with a rotation for who speaks first. Optionally, there is also a rotation after each phase of the game. The game can be played without pen and paper, by note worrying about identifying a winning story.


Cette nuit, j'ai rêvé d'un petit jeu social, le jeu du passeport. (Je remplirai les détails laissés implicites dans le rêve.) Un petit nombre de personnes peuvent participer (disons, de 2 à 6, voire plus si tous les joueurs sont disciplinés). Au départ, les participants s'assoient autour d'une table (ou non) avec crayon et papier, conviennent d'un ordre des joueurs (par exemple, le sens des aiguilles d'une montre, le premier étant tiré au sort). Les joueurs conviennent par proclamation du cadre général d'un voyage, orient-express en 1914, croisière sur le Titanic, Grand Hôtel durant la guerre froide, conférence médicale, etc., ou s'ils ne sont pas d'accord, le premier joueur choisit. Puis chaque participant s'invente l'identité d'un voyageur, écrite sur une feuille de papier; quand tous ont fini, ils montrent et lisent chacun leur tour leur feuille de papier, puis chacun peut offrir des amendements qu'il peut accepter ou pas. Quand tous ont déclaré cette identité, chacun doit inventer une histoire où c'étaient des couvertures pour une identité secrète: "en fait, je suis ..., et tu es ..., et toi tu es ...", et en écrit les grandes lignes sur sa feuille. Selon le même principe, chacun son tour montre et lit sa feuille et raconte son histoire, sur laquelle les participants peuvent broder et proposer des amendements que le conteur peut accepter ou refuser. Après chaque histoire, les joueurs donnent en secret une note à l'histoire telle que choisie par le conteur, et peuvent recalibrer les notes des histoires précédentes. Quand tous ont raconté leur histoire (ou passé leur tour), on révèle les notes, qui sont au choix arbitraires de 1 à 10, ou un ordre croissant de préférence de 1 à n avec bonus de n/2 pour l'histoire préférée. L'histoire qui a le plus grand total gagne. À deux, c'est plus simple: ou bien les deux joueurs se mettent d'accord sur un gagnant, ou c'est un match nul. On peut jouer plusieurs fois de suite, avec rotation de l'ordre de parole des joueurs. On peut aussi faire une rotation de l'ordre à chaque phase du jeu. On peut aussi jouer sans papier et crayon, et ne pas se soucier d'identifier une histoire gagnante.

Nov. 22nd, 2014

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Personality Types for Mathematicians

When I was a kid, I used to believe that mathematics was all about knowing the rules and following them perfectly (which at least, unlike in other endeavours, was possible), and about carefully planning your strategy to attack and vanquish given problems, and that a good mathematician would be one who would primarily think like that. In terms of MBTI (which I didn't know at the time), that would be an INTJ personality, the Mastermind as Keirsey calls it. Since my dad was a math professor, I thought he had to be like that. But as I grew up, I realized to my surprise that wasn't the case. Indeed, while these activities are indeed essential in Mathematics, and any mathematician must be capable of thinking that way, and while some mathematicians have this personality indeed (including some friends of my father), my father himself was actually an INFP, a Healer in Keirsey speech. What made him love mathematics was the abstract aesthetics of it — how to discover and appreciate beautiful proofs, that only involved intrinsic aspects of the mathematical objects (points, lines, planes, curves, functions, etc.) rather than representation-dependent aspects (such as spatial coordinates in some arbitrary basis, or equations, etc.), and what interesting and beautiful properties those proofs told us about the underlying mathematical structure — the best ones being those that show deep connections between different structures. I find that I love computing the very same way. In terms of individual traits, I suppose that "Introversion" is necessary to focus on abstract mathematical objects (whereas "Extroversion" is more useful in collaborative programming settings), and so is "iNtuition" (which I understand as about approaching the world in abstract rather than concrete terms). "Thinking" is important to follow the rules, but "Feeling" is important to appreciate the aesthetics, which may be the greatest heuristic guide you can have in Mathematics. And "Judgment" might be useful for planning problem-solving strategies, but "Perception" is useful for getting a good sense of an unfamiliar world. [Interestingly, while I identify myself as ENTP, which Keirsey calls an Inventor, my wife is an INFP and most of my past girlfriends were, or were not far from it — it's the personality type I somehow most relate to, even though I obviously didn't relate enough to my father as a kid, since I didn't understand him at all then.]

Nov. 12th, 2014

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In The Future, Cars Drive You!

Yesterday, I spoke at an event organized by the America's Future Foundation on the topic of self-driving cars. Here is a summary of what I said. (Disclaimer: I do work at Google, but I have never worked on self-driving cars, and do not possess any information that isn't already public.)

The most important point is that a self-driving car, as being developed right now by Google and many competitors, is not a general artificial intelligence, capable of replacing a human driver in all situations, but a specialized artificial intelligence, that does one limited task, and does it well. The driving robots are thus very good at things humans are bad at — they are never being tired, they never fall asleep at the wheel, they never get drunk, they never get angry, they never take a wrong turn, they never assess speed or distance incorrectly, they never forget the finer points of driving code, they never forget to refuel at the best-priced station, they always make efficient use of fuel, they always go through timely maintenance, etc. They are very bad at dealing with exceptional situations. Is this ball in the street just some irrelevant rubber ball you can drive upon, or is it a bronze ball that would cause a deadly accident if you run on it? What about those fallen branches on the road? Is this road still useful despite the flooding, landslide, etc.? Is this deer, child, etc., going to jump in front of the car? How should the car handle some temporary work on the road? How to deal with a flock of geese on the road? Now, the hope is that even though exceptional situations may require some human to take control of the vehicle, override the itinerary, clear the road, or otherwise take action — or call for help and wait — the overall lives saved are well worth the inconvenients in the cases the software fails.

And the lives saved are not just the accidents that won't happen. It's also all the hours of life-time reclaimed. Someone who drives to a job an hour away and back home spends two hours everyday driving. That's over 10% of his waking hours. Over forty years of work, the time reclaimed is the equivalent of four years of extra life while in good health. During their commute, people can sleep, eat, drink, relax, meditate, dress, put on their makeup, read, talk, do their homework, have sex, or whatever they prefer doing. (Insert Mr Bean driving in the morning.) Disabled people will not be dependent upon someone else to spend their time driving them around. For a self-driving car does not replace a car: it replaces a car plus a chauffeur. It is more like a taxi than a personal car, and a zipcar-like pool of self-driving cars can be time-shared between many people, instead of each car having to be parked most of the day while its owner works, plays, shops or sleeps. If and when most cars become self-driving, the need for street parking space will be much diminished, and streets will suddenly become wider, further facilitating traffic. Thus, even though a self-driving car may cost two or three times as much as a car, even if they only cover limited areas where temporary and permanent road changes are guaranteed to be properly signaled for the sake of self-driving cars, they are still a huge economic saving, in better use of both human and material capital. As costs fall, people will be able to afford longer commutes from cheaper places, to enjoy life without being prisoner of public transportation schedules or of high prices of a car or a taxi. Over hundreds of millions of users, tens of millions of extra productive life-times become available. A boon for mankind.

Now, another consequence of self-driving cars being specialized tools rather than general artificial intelligences is that, since they are not sentient, they cannot take responsibility for the accidents that will happen. The buck has to stop with someone, and that cannot be some dumb computer. Only humans can be held accountable and humans will have to pay to cover damages to both passengers and third parties. In the beginning, that means that only big companies with deep pockets can own such cars: a large corporation like Google, willing to put its neck on the line; insurance companies that expect to save a lot of money in damages avoided; mutual funds where many small investors pool their savings together. The same will be true for all upcoming autonomous robots: small planes or quadricopters, carrying robots, etc. they will need to be owned by people or corporations who can afford to pay for any damages, or insured by companies that'll take the responsibility. [The following points to end of paragraph were not made during my speech.] Note that owning autonomous vehicles is significantly riskier than insuring human-controlled vehicles: On the one hand, whereas the insurance for a human-controlled vehicle typically only covers the first few million dollars of damages, and any further liability is disclaimed by the insurer and pushed back to the human driver, the owner of the autonomous vehicle is the ultimately responsible party and can't limit liability in case of damages to third parties. On the other hand, there is a systemic risk that is hard to evaluate, in case, e.g., after a flood, landslide, earthquake or catastrophic bug, stubborn car behavior causes not one accident but hundreds of accidents; it can be hard to provision for such black swan events, though hopefully the average casualty rate after such events still remains lower than currently is for human drivers.

The rise of self-driving cars will require change in government. First the self-driving cars may require support from those government bureaucracies that (at least currently) manage roads, so that self-driving cars are made aware of temporary and permanent changes. Second some regulatory amendments may be necessary for anyone to dare endorse the liability for owning a self-driving car. Meanwhile, there are huge privacy issues, as self-driving car companies get even more information on the location and habits of passengers, and government bureaucracies such as the NSA may eventually put their hands on data that Google (or other operators) accumulate, with or without active help from the companies. Therefore, government rules lag behind technology, but it is not a clear win when they catch up. The last few centuries have seen an exponential growth in human achievement through technology; they have also witnessed an exponential growth of government, taxes, statutes, bureaucracies, privileges and war capabilities. Over the next few decades or centuries, neither exponential growth is sustainable. Whichever curve tops first, the other wins — and soon afterwards the first curve likely drops to zero. If government somehow stops growing first, mankind will know a golden age of peace and prosperity. If technology somehow stops making big strides first, then as Orwell predicted, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."

Now even though humans overall may prove forever incapable of understanding and implementing liberty [and indeed may only get dumber and more subservient due to government-induced dysgenics], that might not matter for our far future. For eventually, whether a few decades or a few centuries in the future, General Artificial Intelligence may indeed be created. Then not only will artificial sentient beings be able to endorse the responsibility for self-driving cars, they will soon enough be at the top of the food chain, and endorse ownership and responsibility for everything — and not just on Earth, but across the Solar System, the Galaxy, and beyond. When that happens, we better hope that these AIs if not humans understand the importance of Property Rights; if they do, humans can live a life of plenty based on the capital they have accumulated; otherwise, our end will be very painful. And so, let's hope the first AI isn't a military robot hell-bent on killing humans, without any respect for property rights.

Nov. 4th, 2014

eyes black and white

Governance by Democracy

This essay was written by my friend Perry Metzger.

Lets say your company has a business decision to make. Say there is a committee (already a bad idea but lets ignore that for now) assigned to the problem. Will you make the decision better or worse by adding a large number of people to the committee who aren't very interested in the topic, know nothing about the question they're deciding, and possibly aren't even very smart? Of course not.

If someone told you "the problem with this decision is that we don't have enough ignoramuses on this committee", people would say you were crazy, and they would be right. If a group decision making process is going to do well at all, it requires the smartest, best informed possible decision makers, and adding lots of ignorant and even stupid people to the group will not improve its decisions but only make them worse.

However, when we switch to an almost exactly identical problem — selecting rulers for the State — suddenly people make the opposite claim. "We need to increase participation at the polls! We need to get more people to turn out, to make it easier to vote so people who don't bother now will do it!"

The idea that the problem with elections is that we aren't getting enough people to vote — that people who can't be bothered to go to the polls even though it is already as easy as one could want — and that by getting more people to vote, especially people who have no idea what the issues are, what the candidates records are like, etc., is just as irrational and insane as the idea that you can make a better business decision by adding more uninterested or even foolish to the group making a decision in that context.

However, even though this idea is utterly irrational — even though you can't get a better decision by adding more ignorant and not very smart people to the group making the decision — it is a very widely held view when one leaves the field of making business or even personal decisions and enters the arena of politics, that is, the process of figuring out who should make life and death decisions for millions of people.

Why is this?

I argue it is because democracy is not, for most people, a rational idea. The original notion was that by allowing lots of people a voice, one could avoid having a tyrant or a small, self interested aristocracy produce only bad laws of interest to them. However, the goal of all governance processes is supposed to be good laws and good administration of those laws — the goal is not the process itself.

However, since the advent of democracy, the notion that the goal is good laws and good administration of those laws has been forgotten. Democracy has become a religion — and I mean that in the most literal possible sense. The notion voting is a means to an end has been entirely lost, replaced with the notion that democracy is itself the goal, and that the world will be made utopian by some sort of perfect expression of the general will.

Let me repeat that baldly. Democracy has become religion. Speaking out against it has become the worst possible sort of heresy. Let me, then, be a heretic.

The same people who would never argue that we need more morons helping make decisions in their offices — an area where they apply logic rather than religious style reasoning — are deeply religious about democracy. They are offended by the idea that we might want to use basic reasoning about elections. Saying that perhaps if someone has no opinion about the candidates their vote might not improve the outcome of the selection process produces anger. It is presumed, without evidence, that getting more people to vote must be a good idea, in itself.

The U.S. founding fathers remembered that the goal was not expression of the popular will but having a good place to live, and that in order to have a good place to live, they needed good laws that were well administered. However, they were deeply suspicious of democracy and the possibility of mob rule. They thus regarded voting as an alternative to aristocracy or monarchy — it was a tool to produce a good outcome rather than the end in itself.

Our society has a serious problem of cognitive dissonance, however, in so far the nation largely believes in democracy as a religion, but the founders are also regarded as revered saints even though they did not really believe in democracy as such. How, then, to reconcile this contradiction?

The solution has been to forget that the framers of the constitution deliberately set up a system which was as anti-democratic as one that involved voting could be made. This is not an assumption on my part — one may simply read The Federalist Papers and learn what the goals of their design (which is yet another reason most students never read The Federalist Papers).

The system (which I think failed, but never mind that for now) was designed to preserve liberty and to limit the damage voters could cause. The means was by instituting limits on the power of government, producing a layered government system in which different branches would check each others' powers, and by allowing only a small, educated property owning class of the population to have a voice through voting.

This latter piece is scarcely if ever mentioned, because to recall that documents like The Federalist Papers expressed direct fear of mob rule would be to admit that perhaps not everyone has always shared the religious belief that expression of the general will is the goal of society. Your history classes probably glossed over or perhaps never even mentioned the fact that universal manhood suffrage and later universal suffrage wasn't considered a good idea until the late 19th century, or what the arguments against it might have been.

(My own classes on this topic treated every expansion of the franchise as a triumph of the forces goodness, just as they treated every expansion of state power as a triumph of the forces of goodness, as a part of the inevitable march of progress through history. The arguments against such expansions were never discussed — to even consider them worthy of discussion would have been risible to my instructors.)

So deep is the attraction for democracy as a value in itself, rather than as a means, that to even mention the idea that perhaps universal suffrage was not a good idea and still is not a good idea makes you about as popular as a dung heap at the center of the buffet at a wedding banquet.

None the less, I encourage you to consider this question seriously. If a test of basic knowledge about an election, or even an IQ test, were administered by a race, sex and age blind computer, and a minimum score were required before the subject was considered qualified to vote in the race, would this produce a better or a worse result?

If you presume that the answer is "the result would be worse", and yet you would prefer that your doctor be more informed and intelligent rather than less informed and less intelligent, and you would prefer that decisions at your company be made by smarter and better informed people rather than stupider and less well informed people, perhaps you should ask yourself if your beliefs about democracy are founded in a rational consideration about alternative means to achieve optimal decision making, or are instead founded in a civic religion that you have been inculcated in from before the age when you could think on your own.

If you cannot conceive of questioning the ideas behind democracy qua democracy, if there is no evidence you can imagine that would make you change your mind, perhaps this is a religion to you, not a rationally considered position, and rather than getting angry at me for questioning your beliefs, you might want to try questioning them yourself.

Oct. 25th, 2014

eyes black and white

White Man's Sin

The White Man has sinned, greatly; Whitey will pay for it, dearly — has already started paying; the solution to his suffering can only come through a moral reformation. This almost everyone agrees upon — though many will explicitly deride such unholy words and instead use a completely different vocabulary to say the exact same thing. The more interesting disagreement though is not about what words to use to say it, but about what is the nature of this Sin, and what reformation will bring moral regeneration rather than further degeneration. Indeed, this disagreement is not innocent at all, but the crux of the issue: the White Man's Sin is the opposite of what the all-too-influential Evil Preachers say it is (the worst amongst them being White Men), and is actually exactly what they propose more of as a solution. Indeed, that's how this Sin works: having embraced an ideology of Evil, Whitey ever commits more sins as alleged solutions to his problems, only to accumulate more of this spiritual debt that is already crushing him, and will do far worse to his descendants. But how do you tell good from evil?

Socialists will typically claim that White Man's Great Sins were Imperialism, Colonization, Slavery, Racism and are still Individualism, Capitalism, Consumership. His Sins were only partly redeemed by granting Independence to his former colonies and welcoming in his midst large masses of their former inhabitants. He must atone by apologizing for his past criminal hubris, forever paying blutgeld to these people, by dissolving his race into theirs through miscegenation, but also embracing the world collective, abandoning the race for profits, and scaling down any consumption. Unhappily, will mourn socialists, "we" are domineered by a reigning ideology, the ideology of the free-market, whichever its current name; all social ailments can be traced to these economic freedoms that still exist, and the evil people who defend these freedoms. Deep down, socialists have a deep fear and hate of Man and his corruption, and somehow want to create a New Man, by hook or crook. They always call for "More Democracy", which is a code word for more power to them supermen who claim to embody "Democracy".

As a libertarian, I will praise Individualism, Capitalism and Consumership as virtues, not vices; I will denounce the mass-murder and ruin unleashed by Collectivism and Socialism; I will point out that Consumership is nothing but individuals empowered to choose how to spend their own money, and that the alternatives are the evil and stupidity of protectionism and central planning. But that's not what I will discuss today. I'll instead speak as a reactionary. And as a reactionary, I will not only make excuses for Imperialism, Colonization, Slavery and "Racism", but I will instead put the blame on Democracy, De-colonization, Socialism and "Anti-racism".

White Man may have been racist, and that's a vice indeed; but he has always been and still is much less of a racist than any other Man; meanwhile, under the name "Anti-racism" hides but the worst of all racisms, racism directed against the White Man precisely for his virtues. White Man may have practiced slavery, which is evil, but he never started it, and on the contrary he is the one who forcefully abolished it all around the world, when previously it was almost universally practiced. White Man's colonization may have been brutal, as is the nature of any government; yet it was much less tyrannical and less corrupt than both what preceded it and what followed it; it also introduced most of the world to modern medicine, industry, agriculture, not to speak of literacy, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of press, and an explosion of music, literature and others arts... a period of unprecedented material prosperity and intellectual blossoming and moral progress, with an according multiplication of the population. Certainly, the conquest itself was violent, and included many war crimes, and even a few genocides, but not more so than preceding or subsequent conquests by "colored" conquerors — these sins are in no way specific to Whitey. As for Imperialism, the problem was more a lack of it than too much of it: denying the conquered formal citizenship of the Empire albeit second-class, failing to coopt the local elites into first-class citizenship like Rome once did, and worst of all, maintaining and spreading the deadly disease of an ideology that is obviously antithetic to Empire: Democracy.

As an ideology, "Democracy" is the belief that the world should be divided in "nations" each to be ruled in an egalitarian way, while excluding non-nationals from power — in other words, National Socialism. "Democracy" is the belief in the all-importance that peoples of the world should rather be ruled by a mass-murderous corrupt tyrant born a few hundred miles away, than by an honest officer born a few thousand miles away — Nationalism. "Democracy" is the belief that Political Power, the power to unaccountably kill and destroy, should be granted based on a popularity contest — Demagoguery. "Democracy" is the belief that through the Mystery of Democratic Election, ballots are transubstantiated into the almighty Will Of The People — Political Mysticism. "Democracy" is the belief that as long as they do follow the democratic rites and act through "legislation", the State and its bureaucracy embody "us", and are therefore axiomatically good and entitled to arbitrary power on all and everything that concerns "us" — Totalitarianism. "Democracy" is the belief that sovereignty is collectively being able to sway power every so many years between two wings of a massive monopoly Establishment that will spend half of what they make, whereas being each able to individually choose how to spend all of what one makes at all times is dependency to "private" therefore "evil" interests — Collectivism. "Democracy" is the belief that merely being born grants you rights upon everyone else, so that the careless r-strategists who reproduce faster and create nothing shall feed upon the careful K-strategists who prefer to create everything and are careful not to over-reproduce — Ochlocracy. "Democracy" is the belief that a majority can impose its culture and rulers upon the minority, with the consequence that ethnic war and ethnic cleansing are the only way to avoid being imposed some other group's way of life and corrupt leaders — Ethnocracy. "Democracy" is the belief that private individuals may only do meaningless discriminations, and only government officials may make meaningful discriminations, and set an artificial standard and calling following it "no discrimination" — Bureaucracy. "Democracy" is all these beliefs and many more dysfunctional beliefs. But at heart, Democracy is not a rational idea or a clear theory that can be argued, though some have tried, and the result is the many variants of Socialism. At heart, Democracy is a visceral emotion: the identification of the slave to the master, provided that the master is mediocre enough not to appear better than the masses.

This ideology of Democracy inspired a World War to make the world "safe" for it, resulting in tens of millions of dead people. After it won this war, this ideology of "Democracy" justified democides by the national socialists of Russia and Germany, who precipitated another World War, as well as by those of China, Cambodia, etc. It has fueled and keeps fueling to this day many religious conflicts and ethnic cleansings. It has led Whitey to leave his former colonies in the hands of mass-murderers that he has then repeatedly funded and bailed out as their tyranny drove their countries back into poverty. It has justified a reverse colonization, that instead of bringing Civilization to formerly barbaric parts of the world, brings barbarianism to formerly civilized parts of the world. It is the foundation for massive plunder of producers by governments all around the world, which results in financing eternal wars, the systematic grooming of a large underclass of idle parasites and criminals, a huge brake to progress and unprecedented destruction of wealth. It is the system that forever ensures that power will be in the hands of sociopathic narcissists competitively selected for being the very best liars, and of a class of completely unmovable bureaucrats who worship arbitrary power with no risk for themselves and compete for the greatest impact while protecting each other in the context of utter unaccountability.

In summary, the White Man's Sin is having shrugged off the White Man's Burden, having dropped the torch of Civilization, having forsaken his wards into the claws of brutal monsters, while having greeted another kind of psychopaths as his own rulers. What more, the White Man's Great Sin is the root cause to all this evil: to have abandoned the very belief in Civilization, and embraced the belief in Democracy, this ideology of De-Civilization, often formalized into variants of Socialism. In other words, White Man's First Sin was to violate the First Commandment, without which all other commandments fall short: Thy Shall Not Worship a False God.

Unlike conservatives, who are but the mindless authoritarian defenders of socialists long past, reactionaries do not believe that there was any point in time at which White Man used to perfectly worship the One True God. They certainly do not defer to corrupt religious "authorities" to tell them what God Commanded and how to interpret it (and once again, they do not care for the words used to say that as much as for the quintessential concepts denoted). But reactionaries believe that together with the evils of the militaristic Ancien Régime, some essential wisdom about the nature of Society has been slowly but surely destroyed along Man's descent into Democracy. This descent led to a Great Fall, the most spectacular symptom of which was WWI and its orgy of mass-murder, that also lead to the Russian Revolution and paved the way to German National Socialism. But before that, Whitey had made pretty good attempts at championing Civilization, taking it so much further than it had ever been; he was never perfect, but at least he was trying, and kept improving. Not only that, he was proud of succeeding better than others, and of sharing his success (indeed sometimes using unjustified overeager force, though force was often justified, too). He was not ashamed to exist at all, as he is now. He recognized that not all religions, ideologies or economic systems are equal, and was proud to argue at length which is best and how to make it even better. He hadn't yet fallen into relativism and cowered to political correctness, and passively accepted an ideology that claims it isn't one yet is uniformly spread by a diffuse Establishment. He was mistakenly hoping to use Democracy as a means to ward off the evils of past Tyranny and achieve Liberty; but at least he hadn't yet raised it into an Idol at whose feet everyone on Earth must kowtow. His bureaucracies hadn't metastatized yet, and were still somewhat capable of defending a rule of law that wasn't all self-serving tribalism and corruption — though Protectionism and other forms of systemic graft were all too present.

Reactionaries understand that Civilization is not a point that you reach, but a process that you keep pushing forward as best you can — or fail to — starting from as advanced a point as you can find. Thus, if you're civilized, your predecessors will look barbaric in comparison; and those you consider your predecessors aren't necessarily your direct ancestors, but whoever was carrying the torch of Civilization, anywhere throughout the world. Now since by definition you started from where the most civilized people left off, these predecessors were themselves ahead of other people around them at their time. Conversely your own successors will look back at you with slight discuss, for you'll look barbaric in comparison to them. If all the above paragraph is not the case, you are not actually partaking in Civilization — you're a barbarian, or worse, an agent of De-Civilization. In particular, if you only consider as predecessors in Civilization your ancestors, or an arbitrary group of people that includes them, you're doing it wrong. (Similarly, if the only people susceptible to imitate your peculiarities are your descendants, you're definitely not civilized.) Conversely if you fail to include any of them, either you're doing it wrong, or they were all barbarians indeed. And there's no shame to be had in this latter alternative, any more than pride to be found in the luck of being born within a more advanced civilization — pride is to be found only in the stars to which we fly, not in the mud from which we take off, and we all take off from mud. What have you done to advance Civilization?

Civilization is thus relative in space and in time, and depends on what you know or can learn from other people around you. Of course, Civilization is not monodimensional; thus its progress is seldom uniform: industry, science, and literacy could bring about the end of the ancien regime, great material well-being, moral progress as man was elevated above crass survival, and ended many old superstitions and bigoted prejudices; yet in other ways, there has been ideological and political regress that inspired orgies of mega-murders, whereby nations formerly at the outposts of Civilization reverted to barbarianism. Mesopotamia conquered by the Arabs or the Mongols, the USA descending into "Civil War", Europe destroying itself during its Great War and its ripple conflicts, so many countries falling into communism, Yugoslavia exploding, Rhodesia becoming Zimbabwe, etc., are spectacular symptoms of De-Civilization. Civilization is often but a thin veneer, and though the average layer of it can be quite thick and getting thicker, that mightn't matter much if there's a weak spot where it's getting thinner, and that's where it cracks and all the rest shatters or peels off. The virtues of Civilization have to be cultivated in the proper priority order: Survival comes before Victory, that comes before Truth, that comes before Generosity; trying it in a different order just doesn't work. Reactionaries understand that Civilization is not a Golden Age in the past as fantasized by conservatives; it is not a cinematic of progress mystically brought about through forceful purposeful struggle as propagandized by progressives; it is a fragile dynamic process of social construction, of capital accumulation, of undesigned evolution, that requires conscious cultivation and protection from the hordes of barbarians, conservatives and progressives who bring about De-Civilization.

Certainly, the White Man at his apex was right to be suspicious of civilizations that had proven their moral weakness or their intellectual retardation, and to overall look down on his conquered. But he was wrong to wholly reject anything they could bring: he was wrong to fail to recognize as equals those of the conquered who had embraced civilization and could prove they were indeed capable of furthering it; he was wrong to fail to use their insight to criticize and improve his own ideologies; he was thus wrong to fail to embrace the elites of his colonies — to the point that these elites eventually preferred to band against him. This race protectionism was indeed an instrumental part of the downfall of his Empires; his eventual attempts at fixing it came too late, after he had succumbed to Democracy in two self-destructing World Wars and thus proven his own weakness. But this failure was nothing compared to what he did to his wards' minds: in a war between his own old religions, and a new, worse one, into which he was falling, he failed to propose any articulate ideal to the conquered, so they may dispel their wrong beliefs and embrace something positive. Instead he planted into their minds the seed of a Great Evil — the belief in Democracy, and its acute form, Socialism. The Bloody Order of Empire thus gave way to the Even Bloodier Chaos of Democracy.

Democracy will only get worse, until its evil is fully unraveled everywhere into Socialism, that after it has fully ravaged a country leaves place to barbarianism and religious superstition. If you want to see where Socialism is taking Europe, look at Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe. Until they have completely ruined the respective countries they are farming, various Democratic Establishments will remain solidly in place, thanks to their propaganda machines, which these days are decentralized and efficient; they are not trying to sell anything, since people have already bought Democracy — an easy sell. The point of propaganda now is to prevent any change of mind, to make it impossible for the cattle to even think that there is any alternative, to make any opposition as unthinkable by casting dissidents as madmen, the proper political word for which currently is "extremists". Therefore, there is no ideology and it's not called "Democracy" and certainly not "Socialism"; all the beliefs formerly associated to a thus-named ideology are just being "normal"; they are acknowledging the "obvious". But perhaps worse than the material ruin and the intellectual oppression, is the effect that this Democratic Socialism has on the soul of its victims: it denies any individual accomplishment outside of the State, which only distinguishes but few politically-designated heroes; instead it maintains its victims in dependence, and deprives them from any meaning to their lives — ultimately, it only offers meaning to the tormentors who live as professional parasites and relish in they success at preying upon others; as to the masses of its victims, it offers but blind obedience, self-sacrifice, crass materialism, and petty insignificant selfish choices.

The escape will not happen through Politics. There is no way out but up. The race is on between Technological Progress and Political Power and its Democratic Juggernaut. Technology is the only hope for Humanity to escape the death trap of Democracy, whether by vastly lowering time-preference by greatly extending longevity, by creating a new Imperial race of AIs, by dramatically displacing military equilibrium to make for much smaller countries, by artifically raising the intelligence of humans so they can understand the Evil of Democracy, by enabling individuals to escape national surveillance, by somehow spreading a message of actual moral reformation, or by some other great change. Of course, the Democratic overlords are wary of this jeopardy to their Power, and do their darned best to stay on top of Technology and to control its uses.

This Grand Struggle is happening before your eyes. You get to pick what you think is Good and what you think is Evil, and to act accordingly. But be careful what you pick — depending on your choice, you may spend your life working toward redemption, or toward damnation. Ideas have consequences.

PS: Let it be clear that collective responsibility doesn't exist, and that Civilization consists precisely in better recognizing individual liberty and individual responsibility — which when properly matched together constitute private property. Talking about White Man the way I did way is an aggregate that has no moral value — but I do it precisely to show the racial collectivists that their anti-white racism, "anti-racism" as they may dub it, is unfounded on their own racial collectivist grounds. Racism, Slavery, Colonization, Imperialism are evil — but they are not the worst evil, and do not justify a double-standard; and they can still be better than the opposite stance; a yet better one requires to reject this dichotomy and look at the essence of what matters: individual actions. People are not to be blamed because the ancestors of some people with a similar color of skin did something wrong — a random black US slave descendant has infinitely more of the DNA of a slave-owner than any white descendant of a XXth european immigrants to the US. Miscegenation is neither good nor evil (hey, I'm a métis myself, as such rejected by racists on both sides) — most importantly, it's none of your damn business, only that of the individual parents who may decide to have or not have (and raise) such kids. Also importantly, State-supported "eugenics", whether towards alleged race purity, or desired race dilution, is actually dysgenic as well as criminal. Similarly, I'm a migrant and a proponent of freedom of movement for all honest people. But government-enforced migration policies, whether for or against migration (im- or e-), is also evil and counterproductive, and ultimately dysgenic. It's sad that the contents of this post-scriptum isn't obvious and that I have to write it at all — and one more symptom of De-Civilization. As for the name "reactionary"? Well, my mother often says that when she's confronted with imbecility, she can but react ("Quand je suis face à la bêtise, je ne peux que réagir"). But it took me a long time to see things with her eyes, and I have to thank Mencius Moldbug for a lot of it.

Oct. 21st, 2014

eyes black and white

Opposition d'opinion

Deuxième Loi du Désaccord selon Faré: J'ai raison, d'où il s'ensuit que ceux qui ne sont pas d'accord avec moi sont ou bien (1) malhonnêtes, (2) stupides, ou (3) fous (ces choix ne sont pas exclusifs). Cette loi universelle vaut pour toute valeur de "moi", y compris "vous".

J'ai beaucoup appris de François Guillaumat; nombreuses sont les confusions économiques qu'il a élucidées, les notions bancales qu'il a redressées, et les mystères qu'il a percés, grâce à sa précision conceptuelle aussi rare que remarquable. Et c'est parce que je respecte ses travaux et en recommande souvent la lecture que je tiens à éclaircir certains points sur lesquels je crois qu'il se trompe. Il se trouve que ces points semblent tous avoir pour origine la religion: François Guillaumat est catholique, je suis athée. Je prendrai comme point de départ cet entretien qu'il a accordé à l'excellent Grégoire Canlorbe (parties I, II, III).

François Guillaumat emploie fort à propos l'argument ontologique pour montrer l'existence d'une entité éternelle incrée; mais il a tort de critiquer Ayn Rand comme étant incapable d'appliquer proprement cet argument: il correspond exactement à ce que Rand exprime par l'expression "l'existence existe". Notons toutefois que l'argument est moins simple qu'il n'y paraît, vu qu'une notion d'existence non contrainte mène à de nombreux paradoxes comme le paradoxe de Russell, qui sont généralement résolus en introduisant des types, ou des hiérarchies infinies d'univers avec autant de notions distinctes d'existence — d'où la validité a priori de l'argument de régression infinie. Il existe sans doute d'autres façons d'éviter de tels paradoxes, mais charge est à celui qui avance un tel argument de montrer que sa méthodologie ne mène pas à une contradiction. Mais faisons pour l'instant abstraction de la façon dont de tels paradoxes sont évités, et supposons que l'argument mène effectivement à un concept valide.

Il n'est pas nécessairement incorrect de prendre cet argument comme définition du mot "dieu" (notons toutefois que l'argument ontologique n'établit pas d'unicité du concept dénoté). L'erreur, que Spinoza a fait bien avant François Guillaumat, est de définir plusieurs concepts, de les appeler chacun "dieu" dans le contexte de sa définition, puis de les identifier abusivement dans un autre contexte de par l'usage du même mot, alors même qu'il s'agit de concepts bien distincts faisant partie de catégories disjointes. Ainsi, identifier ce "dieu" qui existerait par définition au Yahveh des Juifs, au Chronos des Grecs, au Mummu des Mésopotamiens, au Aton égyptien ou à Amon dans une cosmogonie égyptienne rivale, au Yggrasil scandinave, au Ometeotl aztec, au Brahma hindou, etc., ou avec une autre entité hypothétique qui aurait des caractéristiques spécifiques comme une personnalité, le moindre souci pour la destinée humaine, le choix de certains prophètes, etc., est un abus qui n'est aucunement justifié.

L'argument de Guillaumat sur le changement ignore la notion d'entropie, qui peut augmenter localement dans un sous-système ouvert quand bien même elle décroît dans un univers fermé, par exemple, en profitant du soleil, source fossile et tarissable d'énergie et de néguentropie. Son argument ignore aussi la notion d'émergence dans un tel système local pompant énergie et néguentropie d'une source proche — lire les classiques de Daniel C. Dennett (Consciousness Explained) ou Douglas Hofstadter (I am a Strange Loop) pour une présentation du concept d'émergence. Ou voir des vidéos comme celle-ci pour la voir à l'oeuvre. Donc, oui le changement existe, oui l'information humaine est créée et est effectivement un phénomène primordial — mais cela n'implique pas l'existence d'un dieu personnel, etc. Le seul "dieu" nécessaire pour expliquer l'énergie et la néguentropie qui alimentent la vie terrestre, c'est le soleil (que de nombreux peuples ont effectivement adoré comme un dieu).

Je n'ai certes pas la prétension de convaincre François Guillaumat: "Il est inutile de chercher à détromper par la raison un homme d'une idée qu'il n'a pas acquise par la raison." ("It is useless to endeavour to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into", citation attribuée à Jonathan Swift, mais Google Books ne la trouve pas dans l'oeuvre de Swift, et la plus ancienne publication de la formule est dans "The Economist" du 12 avril 1856, Volume XIV p. 392, qui mentionne un "Dean Swift" qui est sans doute Jonathan Swift, mais qui semble être au mieux une paraphrase ou un résumé, et pas une citation). Comme la plupart d'entre nous, François Guillaumat a adopté la religion de sa famille, (moi la non-religion de la mienne), et comme chacun d'entre nous, il croit avoir la chance d'avoir été élevé dans la bonne, contrairement à la grande plupart des autres humains, et peut ratiociner pourquoi en effet il a raison (et moi de même). Qui a raison dans ces croyances reçues et leurs ratiocinations ultérieures? Qui reste prisonnier d'idées-virus? Comme tout le monde, il croit avoir raison. Comme tout le monde, je crois avoir raison. Comme dans chaque opposition d'opinion, au moins l'un de nous deux a tort.

Mais quant au libéralisme, ni l'un ni l'autre ne l'avons reçu de nos familles; comme un grand nombre d'intellectuels libéraux européens, nous avons dû le re-découvrir, le re-construire, par des efforts intellectuels indépendants, avant même d'avoir lu le moindre auteur libéral. Ceci écarte au moins cette suspicion de partialité atavique vis à vis de nos convictions libérales communes; et l'indépendance de ces reconstructions indique même qu'il y a sans doute une réalité commune sous-jacente à ces idées: nous affirmons que cette réalité est une description fidèle des principes de l'action humaine; d'autres, socialistes, pourront prétendre qu'il s'agit d'un dérangement mental commun — et là encore, entre libéraux et socialistes, au moins l'un deux groupes a tort et est victime ou d'idées-virus ou de problèmes structurels dans leur intellect voire des deux.

Une des forces de François Guillaumat est sa volonté d'élucider non seulement les erreurs économiques et philosophiques qui contribuent à la destruction de la civilisation (ideas have consequences nous disait Ayn Rand), mais aussi les causes de ces erreurs, les mécanismes de leur transmission. Comme le disait Claude Bernard: «Il ne suffit pas de dire: "je me suis trompé"; il faut dire comment on s'est trompé.» Cela, François Guillaumat l'a bien compris — or cela représente pour la Philosophie la même révolution que la théorie de la preuve a apporté en Logique: ne compte pas tant une seule Vérité totale inatteignable que les moyens épistémologiques d'atteindre correctement des vérités partielles et les sophismes à éviter qui nous en détournent. Malheureusement, nul n'a encore découvert comment transformer la connaissance de ce mal en remède, sauf peut-être comme vaccin pour les lecteurs qui liraient ces explications avec un esprit sain avant d'avoir été victimes des idées-virus parasites. Mais je suppose que c'est déjà quelque chose.

Oct. 20th, 2014

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Justice without a monopoly / La justice sans monopole

"La justice sans monopole" by Roman Perdeanu was my favorite article in de «Libres!!» opus 2, where it was published as text #69, pp.165—166. Here's my translation of it.


Ce texte, signé Roman Perdeanu, est mon article préféré de «Libres!!» opus 2, où il est paru comme texte No. 69, pp.165—166.

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Oct. 19th, 2014

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Whence Creationist Programming?

Where did I get the idea for "Creationist Programming", the belief that Software is created by a Programmer? I was trying to describe the TUNES approach as Evolutionary, and found it easiest to explain what that meant by contrasting with a Creationist approach... and elucidating what that meant led me to write this essay and later give this presentation.

Indeed, I had been asked to make a short presentation on the essential insight behind TUNES; reflecting (ha!) about that, my closest explanation was that the insight was applying to computing systems what in a previous political essay I had called "dynamic thinking", except applied to computing systems rather than to political systems. Now, this term "dynamic thinking" is one I made up, and the meaning of which people won't understand; and I didn't want to refer people to a controversial political essay when I was trying to explain something completely different and already controversial on its own — I aim to reach the union of people interested in either controversy, not the intersection of people interested in both. And so I looked in my essay for which part of my explanation would be most familiar to my scientific-minded audience, and would make a good starting point. And that was the evolutionary aspect.

Oct. 7th, 2014

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The Far Future of Programming: Ems

I had the privilege of reading a draft of Robin Hanson's upcoming book on ems: emulated brains, that with specialized hardware could possibly run thousands or millions of times faster than the actual brain they were once templated from. This got me thinking about what kind of programming languages these ems would use — though most arguments would also apply to any AI whether it is based or not based on such ems. And yes, there will be programming languages in such a future: predictable algorithmic tasks aren't going to write and deploy themselves — the buck has to stop with someone, and that someone will be a sentient being who can be held accountable.

When you're going at 10000 times the speed of a human, computers run relatively 10000 slower in subjective time. Of course, an em could put itself in sleep mode and be swapped out of the compute cluster during any long computation, so that most computer interactions happen subjectively instantaneously even if they are actually very slow. An alarm on timeout would allow the em to avoid being indefinitely swapped out, at which point it could decide to resume, cancel or background the computation. Still, even if subjectively instantaneous, overly slow computations would disrupt the em's social, professional and personal life. Ultimately, latency kills you, possibly literally so: the latency may eat on the finite allowance of time during which your skills are marketable enough to finance your survival. Overly fast ems won't be able to afford being programmers; and there is thus a limit to how fast brain emulation can speed up the evolution of software, or any creative endeavours, really. In other words, Amdahl's Law applies to ems. So does Gustafson's Law, and programming em's will thus use their skills to develop greater artifacts than is currently possible.

Now, if you can afford to simulate a brain, memory and parallelism will be many orders of magnitude cheaper than they are now, in roughly inverse proportion to latency — so for fast ems, the price ratio between parallelism and latency will be multiplied by this factor squared. To take advantage of parallelism while minimizing latency, fast ems will thus use programming languages that are very terse and abstract, minimizing any boilerplate that increases latency, yet extremely efficient in a massively parallel setting, designed for parallelism. Much more like APL than like Java. Since running the code is expensive, bugs that waste programmer latency will be much more expensive than they are now. In some ways programmers will be experiencing echos of the bad old days of batch processing with punch cards and may lose the fancy interactive graphical interfaces of today — yet in other ways, their development environments will be more modern and powerful than what we use now. Any static or dynamic check that can be done in parallel with respectively developing or running the code will be done — the Lisp machine will be back, except it will also sport fancy static type systems. Low-level data corruption will be unthinkable; and even what we currently think of as high-level might be low-level to fast em programmers: declarative meta-programming will be the norm, with the computer searching through large spaces of programs for solutions to meta-level constraints — machine time is much cheaper than brain time, as long as it can be parallelized. Programmers will be very parsimonious in the syntax and semantics of their programs and programming languages; they will favor both high-falluting abstraction and ruthless efficiency over any kind of fanciness. If you don't grok both category theory and code bumming, you won't be the template for the em programmer of the future. Instead imagine millions of copies of Xavier Leroy or Edward Kmett or the most impressive hacker you've ever met programming in parallel — there will be no place for second rate programmers when you can instead hire a copy of the very best to use your scarce em cycles — only the best in their own field or combination of fields will have marketable skills.

At high-speed, though, latency becomes a huge bottleneck of social programming, even for these geniuses — and interplanetary travel will only make that worse. Bug fixes and new features will take forever to be published then accepted by everyone, and every team will have to develop in parallel its own redundant changes to common libraries: what to us are simple library changes to fast ems might be as expensive as agreeing on standard document is to us. Since manual merges of code are expensive, elaborate merge algorithms will be developed, programming languages will be modified if needed to make code merge easier. To reduce the number of conflicts, it will be important to canonicalize changes. Not only will each project have an automatically enforced Programming Style; copies of the very same maintenance ems will be present in every geographical zone to canonicalize bug fixes and feature enhancements of a given library. Software may therefore come with copies of the virtual wetware that is supposed to maintain the software — in a ready-to-code mood (or read-to-explain mood), in a fully deterministic internal state and environment, for complete reproducibility and debuggability. Canonicalization also allows for better caching of results when looking for otherwise expensive solutions to often-used problems.

Because programming itself can be parallelized by temporarily multiplying the number of ems, programming languages will be extremely composable. Modularity, separate compilation, advanced type systems and contract systems to specify interfaces, isolation through compile-time proofs, link-time enforcement or run-time virtualization, the ability to view the code as pure functional (with side-effects encapsulated in monads), etc., will be even more important than they are now. Expressiveness will also be very important to maximize what each worker can do; macros, dependent types, the ability to view the code in direct style (using side-effects and delimited continuations), etc., will be extremely important too. Development tools will manage the transformation back and forth between these two dual styles of viewing software. Thus armed with suitable composability, Conway's Law need not constrain software more than the fact that it's ultimately represented as an expression tree. What more, if the workers on each subexpression are forks of the worker on the top expression, there can be some coherence of design in the overall system over a very large system that currently would have required many programmers with different personalities. In this context, comments may be literally "leaving a note to yourself" — a parallel duplicate self instead of a sequential future self.

As programming is recursively divided into tasks, the programmer becomes his own recursive Mechanical Turk. There is an interesting issue, though, when additional requirements appear while trying to solve a subproblem that requires modifying a higher-level problem: if you let the worker who found and grokked the new requirement survive and edit the problem, this may create a bad incentive for workers to find problems so they may survive, and a problem of prioritizing or merging the insights of many parallel copies of the programmer who each found issues. It might be cheaper to have the subproblem workers issue an explanation for use by the superproblem worker, who will either send updates to other workers, or restart them with an updated subproblem specification. Ultimately, large teams of "the same" programmer mean that coordination costs will be drastically lower than they are currently. Software will thus scale in breadth vastly beyond what currently exists, though in depth it will still be limited to how much a single programmer can handle.

Because a same programmer is duplicated a lot of times, personalizations of the development environment that increase productivity have a vastly multiplied effect. Extreme customization, to the point of reimplementing tools in a style that suits the particular programmer, are to be expected. Because new copies of the same programmer when young can replace old copies that retire or graduate, there is no fear that a completely different person will have to be retrained on those quite personal tools. The newcomer will be happily surprised that everything is just where he wished for (except when some subtle and important constraint prevented it, that might be worth understanding), and that all source code he has to deal with fits his own personal programming style. Still, deliverables might have to be in a more neutral style if they are to be shared by multiple programmers with different personalities so that each domain is handled by the most proficient expert — or if they have to be assessed, security-checked, proven correct, etc., by a third party as part of accepting the software before it's deployed in a sensitive environment or duplicated zillions of time.

I am sure there is a lot more that can be foreseen about the far future of programming. As for the near future, it won't be quite so different from what we have now, yet I think that a few of the above points may apply as the cost of bugs increases, including the cost of a competent programmer relative to the size of the codebase.

PS: Robin Hanson is interested in reading more ideas on this topic and ems in general. If you share them soon enough, they may make it to the final version of his book.

Oct. 4th, 2014

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Hoppe's fantasies about Monarchy

Hoppe argues that legitimate monarchs, who are secure in their political power, will treat their country and subjects as long-term capital to preserve and extend, whereas mere illegitimate dictators, who rule by force, may be toppled the moment their look weak, and have little chance of spawning a durable dynasty, will treat their country and subjects as short-term loot, out of which to extract the maximum value while their short reign lasts. But where is that legitimacy supposed to come from, to begin with? Is the average monarch more like Hans-Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein, or more like Chlodwig I, king of the Franks?

Historically, most monarchies started through conquest; the only trace of legitimacy in the title of "king" was through the occasional election of a local chieftain as military leader of an entire army, which after invasion of a larger country is now installed as the Master Race (they also say "nobility" or "aristocracy", e.g. romans, anglosaxons, normans) of the country and domineering the serfs of the inferior race of the conquered (celts, romans, anglosaxons). The kings' valued capital is their somewhat faithful gang of mass murderers, that they have to treat well. The conquered are just subjugated enemies, to keep trampling upon least they revolt: not so much farm animals to tend to as wild beasts to enjoy as game.

Now, even the gang of mass-murderers isn't the king's legitimately fully-owned property, and many a king was toppled by a subordinate military leader. Kings were always trying to find a way to subjugate the master race as well as the inferior races; sometimes they failed and had to grant a Magna Carta; sometimes they succeeded and crushed a Fronde; but then without the nobility their successors were naked against the people rising as a political force and instituting democracy.

Whatever "legitimate monarchy" Hoppe is dreaming of as an alternative to the democracy he rightly loathes is thus not to be found as the historical norm of monarchies, but as an exception. And it isn't something that can be instituted ab nihilo: whenever the democracies collapse, the peoples are unlikely to voluntarily elect monarchs who would then have some legitimacy; and if they had this power and could be taught an ideology that replaces the religion of Democracy, the hero-worship of a savior monarch isn't the ideology that would be either the best or the easiest to instill.

My conclusion is that while Hoppe's argument is an interesting thought-experiment, indeed one that is essential in understanding the nature of political regimes, it doesn't describe past historical monarchies, and is of little use as a project for future political regimes. The one notion that matters is that of property rights that are secure because they are legitimate — and they don't apply well to political power, that consists precisely in the ability to violate the property rights of the subjects.

PS: My friend Jan reminds me how he already made the same argument against Hoppe regarding immigration: in both Hoppe indulges in thought experiments where one could magically alter one aspect of a Government's rules and policies, while remaining powerless to alter any other aspect. These thought experiments may be crucial indeed in understanding the aspect selected for consideration, but they have no value whatsoever as guides for actual political action — and Hoppe and his followers are deluded if they believe it has any.

Sep. 30th, 2014

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The myth of "public" and "private" / Le mythe du "public" et du "privé"

This is my contribution to «Libres!!» opus 2, an anthology of Libertarian articles, in French, where it was published as article #42, pp. 107—108.


Ce texte est ma contribution à «Libres!!» opus 2, où il est paru comme texte No. 42, pp. 107—108.

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