Reflections in a Cosmic Kaleidoscope
Ray Eston Smith Jr
A small painting can be at least as beautiful as a giant mural. In the same way, a limited life span of 70 years (or less) can be just as wonderful as "eternal life." The fact that I will die someday should in no way diminish my joy in living today. My life will never be perfect. I will always live with various forms of suffering, but that suffering cannot erase the times of joy. Suffering is necessary not as some people claim to "balance out" the joy. Suffering is necessary because the world will never be perfect and if we blind ourselves to the imperfections by suppressing our sense of suffering, then we will fail to correct those evils that we could correct, and even our joys will be illusory.
Did the Universe create us to understand itself?
Or did we create the Universe to explain ourselves?
What's more "real"?
An electron, which is just a dimensionless point with no definite
location and no internal structure?
Or your self (aka your "soul"), which seems to consists of a bunch of complicated interactions of electrons?
I vote for me.
Your actions are determined by who you are. That is not a lack of free will - it is the essence of free will. If your actions were random (rather than determined by who you are), that would be the absence of free will.
But what determined who you are? About 4 billion years of experience and choices by all your ancestors, plus your personal experience in your lifetime up to this point, plus all your thoughts and feeling and choices up to this point. Being formed by all that experience and choice is not a lack of free will - instead it is a huge cavalcade of free will, culminating in you, now.
It's fun to be a puppet when the puppet master does just what you want him to do. But then who is pulling whose strings? Your atoms have no desire, but their movements combine to make you do what you want to do. So maybe it's you making your atoms move, rather than your atoms making you move.
Free will is not a property of individual brains - rather it is a property of good ideas - ideas which are consistent with reality and with the survival of lives and minds which reflect that reality.
Maybe faith is a kind of free will. We would seem to have no choice but to believe what the evidence tells us is most likely to be true. But if we submitted to that tyranny of truth, we would never attempt to do the improbable. Life itself is supremely improbable. The whole history of life and of humans especially has been driven by beings attempting and often accomplishing the improbable.
99.9% of the atoms in the universe are hydrogen.
The most common mineral (crystalline solid) in the universe is metallic hydrogen in the cores of gas-giant planets.
Most of the atoms in planet Earth are oxygen.
Most of the human body is water. There are more bacteria cells than human cells within the human body. Most of the biomass on Earth is in bacteria cells.
Other than hydrogen, most of the atoms in your body were created by the explosion of a super-nova.
Because the objects we see around us are composed of trillions of atoms, probability theory predicts that diffision has caused everything to be mixed with everything else. You contain atoms which were once part of everybody who ever lived (except perhaps some newborns on the other side of the planet, whose atoms haven't yet had time to diffuse into your body).
Sometimes I go with my gut feelings. Other times I realize that my guts are full of shit.
If I only associated with completely rational people, it would be just me and my cat - and my cat is not too sure about me.
You are what you read. Stand up for yourself and for all the great authors who
My mind has been molded by the great authors I have chosen to teach me.
Whenever I start to feel intimidated by the barrage of insults
that I encounter when I express myself in Internet forums (whether on politics
or literature or biology),
I remind myself of who I am.
I am Sappho. I am Gautama Buddha. I am Socrates.
I am Jesus of Nazareth. I am Hypatia. I am Shakespeare.
I am Galileo. I am George Fox. I am Penelope Stout.
I am Daniel Defoe. I am Ben Franklin. I am Francis Dashwood.
I am Adam Smith. I am Thomas Jefferson.
I am Olympe de Gouges. I am Betsy Ross. I am William Godwin.
I am Marie-Anne Pierette Paulze. I am Mary Wollstonecraft. I am Lord Byron.
I am Lysander Spooner. I am Ada Lovelace. I am Henry David Thoreau.
I am Lewis Carroll. I am Mark Twain. I am Victoria Woodhull.
I am Oscar Wilde. I am Mahatma Gandhi. I am Bertrand Russell.
I am Ottoline Morrell. I am Natalie Clifford Barney.
I am Rene Guyon. I am Isadora Duncan.
I am Augustus John. I am Charlie Chaplin. I am Ludwig von Mises.
I am Jeannette Rankin. I am Smedley Butler. I am Emmy Noether.
I am A. S. Neill. I am Will Durant. I am Isabel Paterson.
I am Rose Wilder Lane. I am Caresse Crosby. I am Mae West.
I am Ethel Waters. I am Wilhelm Reich. I am Ariel Durant.
I am Friedrich Hayek. I am Mrs Black. I am Linus Pauling.
I am Valida Davila. I am Tallulah Bankhead. I am John Steinbeck.
I am Anais Nin. I am Alan Paton. I am Ayn Rand. I am Josephine Baker.
I am Robert Heinlein. I am Barbara Stanwyck. I am Irene Sendler.
I am August Landmesser. I am Alan Turing. I am Woody Guthrie.
I am Billie Holiday. I am Richard Feynmann. I am Sophie Scholl.
I am E.T. Jaynes. I am Freeman Dyson. I am Gloria Grahame. I am Murray Rothbard.
I am Marilyn Monroe. I am Harper Lee. I am Vasili Arkhipov.
I am Maya Angelou. I am Joan Kennedy Taylor. I am Betty Dodson.
I am Martin Luther King Jr. I am Anne Frank. I am Anna Walentynowicz.
I am Clint Eastwood. I am Desmond Tutu. I am Alayne Yates. I am Mamie van Doren.
I am Julian Simon. I am Nichelle Nichols. I am Louis Malle. I am David Hestenes.
I am Nancy Friday. I am David Hamilton. I am Edward Fredkin. I am Brigitte Bardot.
I am Carl Sagan. I am Woody Allen. I am Georgina Spelvin.
I am Margot St. James. I am George Carlin.
I am Lynn Margulis. I am Russell Means. I am Piers Anthony. I am Michael Crichton. I am Zoia Horn. I am Muhammed Ali.
I am Xaviera Hollander. I am Dossie Easton. I am Janet W. Hardy.
I am David D. Friedman. I am Eric Edwards. I am Robert Mapplethorpe.
I am Camille Paglia. I am John Perry Barlow. I am John Gilmore.
I am Salman Rushdie. I am John Stossel. I am Jock Sturges.
I am Joe Dallesandro. I am Teller. I am Mary Ruwart.
I am Candida Royalle. I am Mitch Kapor. I am Wendy McElroy.
I am Sally Mann. I am John Stagliano. I am Vera Fischer.
I am Illona Staller. I am Carole Laure. I am Patti D'Arbanville.
I am Judith Levine. I am Marilyn Chambers. I am Phyllis Kronhausen.
I am Richard Stallman (rms). I am David Deutsch.
I am Melinda Gebbe. I am Phil Zimmermann Jr. I Am Kristine Debell.
I am Penn Jillette. I am Steve Jobs. I am Paul M. Handley.
I am Clayton. I am Veronica Hart. I am Norman J. Wildberger.
I am Michael Jackson. I am Susie Bright.
I am Madonna. I am Nina Hartley. I am Greta Scacchi.
I am Matt Ridley. I am Tom Byron. I am Jodie Foster. I am Warren Meyer.
I am Xuxa Meneghel. I am Lisa Rinna. I am Rodney King.
I am Laura Victoria Albert. I am Kerry Fox. I am Tiffany Million.
I am Pamela Anderson. I am Spencer Tunick. I am Linus Torvalds. I am Roman Carna.
I am Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I am Cory Doctorow. I am Charlotte Gainsbourg. I am Lensman.
I am Charlotte Gainsbourg. I am Tiffany Mynx. I am Asia Carrera.
I am Yoani Sanchez. I am Asia Argento. I am Belladonna.
I am Mack1137. I am Sakura Sakurada. I am Randi Reynolds.
I am Bobbi Starr. I am Neda Agha-Soltan.
I am Yazmina Perez Hernandez. I am Eric Eoin Marques. I am Bree Olson.
I am Bucky Roberts. I am Leah-Lynn Plante. I am Malala Yousafzai.
I will stand up proudly for my opinions and be cowed by no one.
This is what I've read. This is who I am.
House of the Walking Cans.
You are what you eat.
The cans have come down from the grocery shelves
and they're walking up and down the aisles.
God I know I'm one.
Everybody respects courage, but cowardice get no respect. That just ain't RIGHT!
If our ancestors had not had the wisdom of cowardice, none of us would be here.
So I honor and respect cowardice.
I am proud to be a boastful irreverent indecent non-team-playing cynical unpatriotic selfish unsociable coward.
I hate rap, rock'n'roll, basketball, and football (but if other people want to waste their time and money on that crap, it's none of my damn business.)
I love porn.
I despise democracy - it's just the latest disguise of "might makes right."
I don't share (except my opinions).
I believe that dogs are too loyal.
I believe that kids should be allowed to work and to have sex and they should not be forced to go to school (nor be forced to do anything else).
I believe that every idiot has the inalienable right to poison himself with the drug of his choice.
I believe that prostitution is an honorable profession and politics is not.
I identify with "illegal aliens."
I believe that I have no duty to anybody except to leave them alone.
I believe that God is an evil superstition that rationalizes mass murders.
I believe that most mothers (and fathers) are terrible at that job
(but it's not my job to intervene between them and their brats).
I believe that apple pie is very unhealthy.
I believe the American flag stands for mass murder of little brown children.
I believe that the Pledge of Allegiance is evil Statist propaganda.
And if anybody has a problem with any of that, let's step outside.
Then I will run like hell.
To live and to love living. That is the answer. In search of that answer, we constantly question the world. And the answer comes, more than from any other part of the world, from the minds of men (and womb-men).
Although some of the events I describe are unconnected by cause and effect, they are not mere coincidences - rather they are significant coincidences, causeless consequences.
It was a magical time. The air was filled with joyful music and the odor of pine. There was a tree inside the house! It was festooned with sparkling tinsel, colorful bulbs, and flashing lights. But best of all was the unlimited potential of all those unopened presents.
Finally I said, in effect, "Hell no, I won't go!". I was a kindergarten drop-out. I had already learned that the formal educational system was attempting to teach me to jump through hoops like a trained dog.
My father grew up during the depression in a family too proud to admit that they were poor. To me bare feet were an emblem of freedom, but to my father they were a stigma of poverty.
In Combat Engineer training I learned how to build bridges and how to destroy bridges. Then I was sent to Virginia for a three-week Atomic Demolition Munitions school, where I learned how to destroy really big bridges.
I'm pretty sure "Any Bozo could strap one on his back and walk off with it" is an exact quote. You don't forget it when a Senator tells a General that you're a Bozo.
The first time I saw Leila, she was playing pinball. Although she spoke little English, she was a master of body-English. I doubt whether her gyrating derriere had any effect on the motion of the pinball, but it had a profound impact on my emotions. Before she even turned around, I was half in love.
. . . .
A few months later . . .
After an unsuccessful attempt at bilingual conversation, Leila accused me, in Italian, of having forgotten all my Italian, and I accused her, in English, of having forgotten all her English. Actually, I still remembered most of my little speeches, but they didn't fit any more. The real reason we couldn't communicate was that we no longer had anything to say to each other.
There once was a lass named Annie Boyd
Who insured her ass with London Lloyd.
Her ass was covered, tho' often bare,
So may God save her London derriere.
The largest building in the ammo dump, located in the very center, was a warehouse filled with empty aluminum coffins. Such were the preparations for war - bullets for killing and coffins for dying.
That fall I had guard duty at the ammo dump. The sun had already set when I began patrolling around the inside of the fence. A chill breeze was chasing clouds across the face of a full moon. Ahead of me, scraps of leaves swirled in the wind - little inconsequential pieces of reality taking control of the world and mocking my delusions of free will. Then the howling began. The wind? A dog? A lunatic? I don't know. Morbid curiosity drew me in toward the center of the compound. From fifty yards away I could see that the door of the warehouse was ajar. Then I saw a large white dog come out the door and disappear around the corner of the building. I went into the building and saw that it was indeed stacked with aluminum coffins. Finally I returned to making my rounds around the perimeter. My duty was to guard against real intruders from outside, not imaginary ghosts from within.
One of the things that I loved about Venice was that I could wander, delightfully lost, for hours through the narrow, winding alleys and over the plenitude of bridges without ever seeing a car. Often, I would go out late at night, when the shops were closed and the streets were hushed and deserted. I would stand on the cobblestone street, surrounded by 500-year-old buildings, trying to conjure up the ghosts of past Venetians: Marco Polo, Cassanova, and all the throngs of merchants. But the conjuring failed. I could not imagine that faded past had ever been reality.
One day, I happened across a street vendor who was selling old photographs of Venice. I bought a photo that showed a busy throng of Venetians in quaint turn-of-the-century clothes, with a bridge and a building in the background. Late that afternoon, I asked the pretty maid at the pensione if she could help me find the locale in the photo. Actually, I was more interested in the maid than the photo. She was just going off duty and I was hoping this would be an opportunity to get better acquainted with her. She did recognize the place, called "San Travaso", but she wouldn't go there with me. Instead, she gave me directions so I could go there by myself.
I found the place a little after sunset. The building in the photo was now a hollow shell with a gaping hole in the wall. I asked a passing Venetian and he told me it had been bombed during the war. There were still a few Venetians around, but they were all hurrying home to their families. As the last of their footsteps echoed into silence, I stood alone, staring at the bombed-out hulk of days-gone-by. Then, in the dim lamplight, I looked at the photograph, at the vibrant Venetians scurrying about their business. It seemed like they were truly alive, and I was but a pale shadow of their vitality. I had found the ghost of Venice.
Two or three times a year, the 62nd Engineer Company would take its turn marching out onto the parade field in dress greens for the Friday afternoon Retreat ceremony. On this particular Friday, the Post Commanding General had decided to re-instate the old custom of firing a cannon at the conclusion of the ceremony. As the 62nd Engineers marched slow and stately onto the parade field, Budweiser tagged along. As the flag was coming down, Budweiser ambled up to the Post Sergeant-Major and began sniffing at his boots. The Sergeant-Major stood stiffly at attention. Just before the cannon fired, Budweiser casually lifted his leg and pissed on the Sergeant-Major's spit-shined boots.
I guess Budweiser was mostly American Pit Bull.
"In the past, the pit bull was one of the most trusted companions and was loved by most people. . . . Owners who train their dogs harshly or who encourage aggressive behavior can also be blamed for negative attention on the pit bull breed."
Budweiser was a very friendly dog. He was not trained to be agressive. He was not trained at all.
Unable to make a living with my skills in wholesale and retail killing (Atomic Demolition and Infantry), I enrolled in a trade school to learn computer programming.
No idea is welcome in my mind unless it has fought its way in against all the resistance I can muster. And even then I like to make my ideas fight for their continued existence. Survival of the fittest. This does not mean that I have no firm convictions. On the contrary, those ideas which have survived in the battleground of my mind are near-immortal champions of mental combat.
That's how I found myself in the passenger seat of our jeep, with a box of old dynamite on my lap, bouncing along over an old road that was little more than a figment of my father's imagination. I was thinking about what I had learned in the army about the instability of old dynamite. My father said it was safe, and I trusted my father; but I wasn't so sure I could trust that old dynamite.
I had been agnostic since age 9, when I recognized the logical fallacy of trying to believe what you want instead of what facts and reason tell you must be. Belief is a matter of necessity not of choice. Or so I believed at that time. But your beliefs can determine what is to be. I wish that, before that one meal, we had said Grace. A few moments delay would have brought us to a different time and place. How you vote in the next election will make no difference, but what you did before breakfast this morning could change the course of history.
"One can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
"When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
- Alice and the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass
At one o'clock in the morning, I found myself staring with red-rimmed eyes at my PC, as it slowly resolved itself into the coiling tentacles of chaos. I was staring into the face of chaos and it was the face of a gorgon. Insanity is not the inability to perceive reality. True madness lies in the inability to ignore the meaningless patterns of blind chance. But how can we shut our eyes to the patterns that govern our fates?
Finally, rounding errors reduced the pattern to a uniform mist.
I began to see Hamlet not as an indecisive, suicidal wimp, but rather as a valiant soldier of the spirit, fighting a desperate internal battle to defend the sovereignty of his soul.
I read about the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. . . . The result is that everything is possible and will in fact occur. The implications of this are terrifying. You cannot ever die. At each instant, there will be a possible configuration of sub-atomic particles, one of the many actual branches of the future, in which you will continue to live. Also at each instant, there will be many future branches in which you will suffer every conceivable affliction. You have an infinity of damnation ahead of you. However, also at each instant, you will begin a life of eternal bliss. You will be forever on the threshold of both heaven and hell.
But I no longer believe in that eternal heaven and hell. The future must contain an image of the past, else they won't stick together. If I suddenly turned into a giant cockroach, it wouldn't be me. That giant cockroach-future would belong to the past of some giant cockroach, not to me.
That same year, I read George Polya's How To Solve It, where I learned a new attitude. I learned to be a connoisseur of problems. I savor each problem, walking around it and admiring it from all sides. I invite the problem into my mind and guide it through the myriad chambers of my psyche, introducing it to each idea already living there. I search the outside world for relatives of this problem, this new idea. I welcome the related ideas, like the family of a new immigrant. I become one with the new idea. It becomes a cherished part of me and I become a node in its web of interconnections with the world.
What distinguishes reality from fantasy is the connectiveness of fact. Every fact is connected to every other fact by a complex web of interconnections. Fantasy is isolated, with connections only within the brain of its author, limited in extent, with a beginning and an end. But Hamlet is still occupying minds almost four centuries after Shakespeare's brain has crumbled to dust. He is intimately connected with ideas which will be vibrant long after we join Shakespeare in the dust. Who is real, we or Hamlet?
Nukes as weapons of war make about as much sense as chain saws for surgical instruments.
But nukes are ideal weapons for terrorism - that's how we've always used them.
On August 6, 1945, America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Two days later, on St Dominic's Day, we dropped another on Nagasaki. Americans are still insisting that the bombing was necessary and justified. I'm not asking Americans to wallow in guilt. But the deliberate slaughter of thousands of children is murder. If we can't acknowledge that the Bomb was evil, then this land of freedom, mankind's brightest hope, is doomed to sink back into the abyss of mindless violence, to fast in fires til our sins are burnt and purged away.
The Great Gallagher (in "Gallagher the Mad") describes the settling of the West: pioneers leaving Europe and moving ceaselessly westward, never satisfied, always looking for something better. Finally, they arrived at the Pacific coast and could go no further; "they were pissed! So they built piers...".
The most valuable creation of the West is the spirit of rugged individualism. And perhaps the most valuable creation of the the East is the wisdom to "acquire and beget a temperance which may give" that rugged self smoothness, to live in harmony with the world. Maybe someday we'll build bridges.
"This goodly frame, the earth...
this most excellent canopy, the air, look you,
this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, ...
What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty!
in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals"
The Fool on the Hill
I stand atop Camelback mountain in Phoenix, overlooking the Valley of the Sun,
and I "watch the sun going down, see the world spinning 'round."
This is nothing but atoms and electromagnetic radiation
causing the firing of neurons in my brain.
I am just a humble vassal to the Higher Power Who created this.
I am just a speck of dust in the infinite Cosmos.
This is just a fleeting moment.
Soon the sun will be down, the darkness will come, I will die.
Let them keep their atoms, their Higher Power, their speck of dust, their fleeting moment.
This time and place and feeling is mine!
Minds are the fountainhead of all value in the world. To acquire value, you must use minds, your own and others. People attempt to acquire value by three methods: force, fraud, or trade. Force can interact with minds only indirectly, by threatening to destroy them. Thus force would destroy what it seeks to control. Fraud interacts with minds directly but still destructively. Minds create value by finding truth, but fraud destroys value by obscuring truth. Trade is the natural interaction between minds, creating value in the process of giving and receiving ideas (or objects which are solidified ideas).
Morality is an individual choice. In order to further his own goals an individual chooses a set of internal rules of thumb by which he will voluntarily limit his own behavior. He also chooses a set of external rules that he expects others to obey. In order to be accepted in the group of people who obey his preferred set of external rules he must make his internal rules identical to his external rules. All the above is just a roundabout way of saying "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or equivalently "Do not initiate force or fraud."
"In order to further his own goals" is a key phrase. What are those goals? Everybody has different goals. I could say that some goals resulted from evolution, some from brainwashing, some from reasoning - but that's irrelevant. A person's goals are what they are. Morality is not about prescribing goals for people. Morality is just about people finding ways to cooperate with each other so that each person can maximize the achievement of his own goals, whatever they may be.
There is an exception to "whatever they may be." If my goal is not just to help myself but rather is to help or hurt you, then you and I can never have a cooperative relationship. Whether I'm an altruist trying to help you or a sadist trying to hurt you, what I'm doing is trying to substitute my goals for yours within your mind. There can be no basis for cooperation and trade if we don't honor the sovereignty of each other's goal-setting.
Majority rule has been wrongly elevated to a moral principle, a principle born of the unholy union of the modern cult of numbers with the ancient veneration of violence.
From its earliest beginnings, government has been rooted in the worship of violence. "Might makes right. Without majority rule, there would be war, in which the majority would win anyway. So, let's avoid the bloodshed and submit peaceably to the mighty majority." This assumes that violence, or the threat of violence, is the only way people can interact. It excludes the possibility of reasonable debate and free exchange, to which people naturally and profitably resort whenever they eschew violence.
Submit to force if you must, but never condone it, for that would make a mockery of morality.
Most of the above was extracted from http://www.thyorisons.com/#Part_3 Be All My Sins Remembered, Part 3, Whither Wilt Thou Lead Me
Was considering new PC with touch-screen control.
But I changed my mind after watching a video demo
of everything that can be done by just touching the screen.
I don't want to give my cat that much power.
Ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong?
The nature of the world is that everything always goes wrong.
And the nature of living things and especially of human beings
is to tenaciously set things right, never giving up.
To be a whole person, you must live in the past, present, and future. Remember and honor who you were, who you are, and who you want to be.
Savor past pleasures. Learn from past mistakes. Be grateful for favors from your past self. Keep the promises that your past self made to your future self.
Take joy in the eternal springtime of now - forever fresh and vital. Feel the flow of newness through all your senses. Experience your passions at their peak. Now you can collect the rewards earned for you by your past self. Even when the Now is not so pleasant, take comfort in sweet memories of the past and joyfull dreams of the future. Now is the time when you make the decisions that control your destiny and when, with memory and planning, you splice the past and the future into a continuous thread.
Plan for the future. Be kind to your future self. Make bold plans and aim for lofty goals, but always have a Plan B and Plan C and Plan D. . . Plan A always goes awry. Everything that gets done, gets done by Plan B or C or D . . .
When I was a kid, Scrooge McDuck was one of my favorite comics,
especially the pictures of Scrooge shut up in his vault with piles of treasure.
Now I'm living in my studio apartment with piles of books.
Dreams do come true.
My computer just popped up with a message:
"Authentification error. You are not permitted to do that."
All I was doing was reading Facebook.
Do you think that message was from Joe Lieberman?
Barry Goldwater is spinning in his grave.
It was his Grand Old Party and he can cry if he wants to.
Evolution by random selection & survival of the fittest
applies to all complex phenomena, including human interactions.
But whereas that evolutionary principle is the central organizing principle of biology,
human interactions are better explained by a different principle:
"human action is goal-directed behavior."
The theory of evolution cannot predict the course of evolution.
On the contrary, it helps to explain why evolution is inherently unpredictable.
In the same way, "human action theory"
(or praxeology or catallactics or economics or the theory of choice)
cannot predict the course of human events, which are inherently unpredictable.
Competition for survival is a dominant factor in biological evolution.
(Although cooperation is also important, otherwise we multicellular organisms wouldn't exist).
Competition is also a dominant factor in human interactions.
But there, especially in markets, it is mostly competition to be the best cooperator.
Many people believe a super-intelligence (whether an alien race or a computer)
would step on humans the way we step on ants.
But that's a false analogy.
Humans often treat lower animals with kindness & respect
because we value whatever intelligence they have.
Less intelligent animals only see other animals as meat.
So the super-aliens would probably respect our individual rights even more they we do.
All mammals have empathy, which evolved from the maternal instinct.
All predators (including humans) have a different kind of empathy - hunter's empathy,
which evolved from the predator's need to predict the behavior of its prey.
I guess it's possible that there could be an alien predator race
that used its predator's empathy to put on a false display of mammalian empathy
in order to conquer mammalian species, steal their technology, and eat them.
That's where governments came from.
Some people claim that if science conquers aging,
within in a couple centuries we'd have barely enough room to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
But those people are wrong. Long before we reached the shoulder-to-shoulder point,
there would be a voluntary decrease in birth-rate.
Shoulder-to-shoulder is not an optimum position for fecundity.
I think the percentage of the population moving off-planet will always be tiny.
Even when the absolute cost of leaving becomes insignificant,
the opportunity cost will be huge.
People are valuable to other people.
A super-populated Earth would be a Paradise where you can accomplish miraculous things
because all your thoughts and efforts are magnified by the interaction with trillions of people.
The most likely innovations in the future will be new ways for people to get even closer to each other.
The Internet is just such an innovation.
It allows everybody on Earth to be "shoulder-to-shoulder" (in the solidarity sense)
without stepping on each other's feet.
Cellphones have made many old mystery and suspense stories dated.
Many of the problems in those stories would be non-problems for modern cellphone users.
Cellphones probably save lives every day.
Tyrants tremble when guns belong to all,
But when all have cellphones, then tyrants fall.
For freedom's slogans, soldiers bled and died,
But for freedom itself, heroes fled and thrived.
Every government's first priority is to conquer its own subjects.
To conquer another country, a government need only conquer that other
country's government - unless that other country's government has never
succeeded in conquering its own subjects.
Freedom from violent coercion can never be attained by violence.
Thus neither governments nor violent overthrow of governments
can give us freedom.
To attain freedom, each of us must take his own freedom by avoiding thugs and communicating with cooperators.
Will he tell us what this show meant?
Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you
ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
Physicist John Wheeler:
"that which we call reality arises in the last analysis
from the posing of yesĖno questions
and the registering of equipment-evoked responses"
Physicist reading off binary digits from his testing equipment:
"Is the next digit a 1?"
"Is the next digit a 1?"
etc etc etc
Any question the physicist asks,
his equipment will not shame to tell him "yes" or "no".
That's the foundation of the world:
we ask questions, the world makes up answers,
then sticks to its story.
I had a can of tuna for lunch.
I ate out of the can & put some on a paper plate for The Cat.
She wouldn't eat from the plate - she just stared at me eating from the can.
So after I finished I put some tuna from the plate back in the can
& gave her the can, from which she happily gobbled up the tuna.
She doesn't want to eat from a plate like a normal person
- she'd rather eat out of the can like me.
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher...
or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." ~ Douglas Adams
When I download books from Pirate Bay,
am I committing fraud by receiving stolen property?
If the uploader stole the book, I haven't commissioned his crime.
I'm not paying him anything. He would upload whether or not I download.
What about the uploader? Did he steal the book? No, he paid for it.
But was there an implied contract that he would not scan the book
and share it with me for free? If so, what are the limits of that contract?
Is the buyer allowed to discuss the book with others?
What if he has a photographic memory? Is he allowed to recite the book word for word?
What if it's a non-fiction how-to book? Nobody cares about the exact words, just the ideas.
If the buyer of the book teaches somebody else what he learned from the book
is he violating the "implied contract"?
You could say I'm depriving the author of income because if I didn't get the book from Pirate Bay
I would buy it from the author. But I wouldn't. I'd buy it used, then re-sell it after reading it.
The book could change hands dozens of times after the initial purchase from the publisher.
Pirate Bay is just an extension of that same process.
High incomes for authors are not the result of some natural law
- they are just a by-product of the technology of the printing press.
Internet piracy might lower the income of some authors. That lower
income would just be a by-product of the technology of the Internet.
What if everybody suddenly learned to flip a switch in their brains
to unlock a hitherto hidden ability to instantly memorize and
communicate all forms of communcation? Copyrights would immediately
become obsolete, because every new idea would instantly spread to
every interested mind. Would that be a bad thing because it put authors
out of work? See Bastiat's "Petition of the Candlemakers."
Before the printing press,
thousands of people could read the ideas of dozens of people.
After the printing press, but before the Internet,
millions of people could read the ideas of thousands of people.
After the Internet,
billions of people can read the ideas of billions of people.
I call that progress.
We are at war!
The Free World (the Internet) vs Tyranny
(led by the United States Government).
But our eventual victory is assured
because the Tyrant must fight us on our own ground - the Internet.
I am an unsung genius or, as my condition is commonly described,
"a pathetic misfit."
"God himself has no right to be a tyrant." - William Godwin
"Unalienable rights" and "illegal alien" are contradictory phrases.
Nobody can logically agree with both
the Declaration of Independence and
laws that make some people "illegal aliens."
Nine of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were immigrants.
There was no such thing as an "illegal alien" until the racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. (Look at Hong Kong to see what we missed by excluding Chinese.)
If you insist on judging people according to the tax-collector's slave-accounting books, undocumented immigrants pay more into the "system" than they take out. Many pay Social Security tax with borrowed SSNs (Slave System Numbers). And they are ineligible for most types of welfare.
But undocumented immigrants didn't create the welfare system - they don't vote. The welfare system was created by the votes of U.S. citizens. Blame them, not the immigrants who are just trying to earn an honest living.
Some of the best Americans I know of are those who crossed 70 miles of desert on foot just so they could come here and be honest hard-working undocumented Americans.
The average waiting time for a Mexican with no relatives already here to immigrate to the U.S. is ELEVEN YEARS. How would you like to wait 11 years for your first job?
"Legal" and "illegal" are very very different from "moral" and "immoral." Immigration restrictions are immoral. They violate some of the most basic human rights - the right to travel, the right to exist, the right to choose who I will allow on my own private property.
If you think that your rights are based on your geographical latitude when you emerged from the womb, then you have no rights - only privileges granted by the government, which the government can take away at any time.
All politicians and corporate executives believe in conspiracies
- they just can't make the damn things work.
They keep falling apart because they can't trust each other.
"There's no honor among thieves."
That's why the good guys usually win
- because only the good guys have reliable allies.
An anagram for "Ray Eston Smith Junior" is "My inner Horatio jousts"
or "Horatio, joust my sinner." I found those myself,
then I used an internet anagram maker
to find the following:
Horatio enjoins my rust.
Horatio rejoins my nuts.
Horatio mines jury snot.
Horatio nurses my joint.
Mister Horatio, nun's joy.
Horatio merits nun's joy.
My sunnier Horatio jots.
Trim Horatio enjoys sun.
My unrest joins Horatio.
My Junior's sent Horatio.
My inner us jots Horatio.
My sun risen, jot Horatio.
Horatio enjoys Mrs Nut.
Horatio jests in yon rum.
Horatio, joy in sun's term.
Horatio's joys met in urn
Horatio's my so true Jinn.
Join Horatio. Rest, my sun. (I like this one.)
Mr Horatio. joy in sunset. (I like this one.)
Horatio injures my snot.
Profound truth from Sliders:
Hippie followers: "What happens after death?"
Wade: "I don't know, I've never died."
Hippie followers: "She's immortal!"
Death is common. All that lives dies. And yet . . .
Each of us comes from a long line of living creatures,
going back billions of years.
None of our ancestors died before conceiving the next creature in our line.
And we ourselves have not yet died.
When each creature meets its final end,
it is confronting death directly for the first time
in its long evolutionary history.
- The above comments are from my speculations on death
while squashing bedbugs, one at a time.
Tomorrow I'll buy a steam-cleaner and commit bedbug genocide.
If any of them survive and spread elsewhere,
then within just a few years the descendants of
bedbugs that fed on me will have a combined mass greater than my own
(if they don't already).
Legends of vampires are a pale shadow of the horrible reality of bedbugs.
These blood-sucking creatures of the night can
enter any space through the tiniest of cracks.
But also like vampires, bedbugs are killed by exposure to sunlight.
Perhaps the growng bedbug epidemic will lead to mass nudism,
like the toplessness in Heinlein's Puppet Masters.
It's already caused me to move all my books to a storage locker.
I guess I'll have to replace them with a (relatively) bedbug-proof Kindle.
Rats crowded into a box behave aggressively.
Does that apply to humans? No.
Yes, humans are extremely dangerous animals
and they sometimes form mindless mobs that are even more dangerous.
On the other hand, humans are extremely social.
Our blend of intense individuality with extreme sociability
is what make us humans.
We need each other, we complement each, the more people we interact with,
the better off we are.
That's why this planet is mostly empty space,
with humans mostly clumping together into densely populated cities.
We're all in an intense love-hate relationship with everybody else.
There's no meaningful comparison of that human situation with rats in a box.
Rats don't need each other. Rats don't love each other.
Rats don't trade with each other to their mutual benefit.
Rats don't exchange ideas. Rats compete with each other for resources,
but rats don't create wealth.
People create wealth.
Every human mouth comes with a human brain and a pair of human hands.
To get a bunch of rats crowded together into a box with no food,
you have to forcibly put them in, then lock them into the cage.
To get a bunch of humans crowded into a box with no food,
all you have to do is play some music with a good beat.
Then put somebody at the door to keep excess numbers out.
The music is just a lubricant,
so people can interact without grating on each other.
The real attraction is other people. People need people
?You were born with certain unalienable rights.
But government does not protect nor even respect those rights.
Government sustains itself by violating your rights.
The Nazis won World War II.
Near the beginning of the war, the Nazis attacked England
with terrorist bombings of English cities.
By the end of the war, both England and America
were firebombing civilian populations.
We occupied the Nazis' territory, but the Nazis occupied our souls.
I'm walking with a cane now, because of my bursitis.
This link is to a picture of
General Teddy Roosevelt Jr),
who, at the age of 56, led the D-Day assault on Utah Beach,
even though he had to use a cane, because of his arthritis.
I'm going to start getting more exercise.
If Teddy Jr could lead the Normandy Invasion,
I guess I can walk around the block.
The Multiversal Jigsaw Puzzle
I believe that the past and future have no independent existence
other than as information stored in the present.
(This is allegedly inconsistent with special relativity. Why?)
All of the matter and energy in the current universe
store information about the past and the future.
However, there is not enough matter and energy in the current universe
to store the complete history of all past
matter and energy or to completely determine the
future of matter and energy.
Thus both the past and future are indeterminate.
There are many possible pasts and possible futures.
"The" past is just the most probable of those possibilities.
As time goes by, some records of the past are lost,
others are distorted. Thus, as time goes by, the past changes.
To learn what happened in the past, I plan to read a record of the past.
But that plan is for a future act. So I'm getting confused.
Where is the past?
Not in the past, that's gone. Not now, I haven't yet read the records.
Not in the future, that hasn't happened yet.
But what is "now"?
If it's just an instant,
then there is not time enough for light to travel
between the separate parts
(even between neurons, or even atoms, within your brain).
So the instantaneous "now" cannot contain
any relationships or any information.
Information can only exist in finite chunks of space-time.
So another way to view the world is as a vast multiversal jigsaw puzzle,
consisting of pieces of space-time.
Each piece can be related to a variety of other pieces
as adjacent space or time (past or future). Relationships between parts
(analogous to interlocking edges of puzzle pieces) are formed
by the pieces containing
analogous forms that mirror each other in some way.
Your mind "right now" is enclosed
in a particular piece of space-time
which "fits" into the puzzle in many different spots,
with different spatial environments and different pasts and futures.
(I think this last paragraph is more or less
what David Deutsch said in "Fabric of Reality.")
Yahoo Question: "I need newlywed questions that can be used for couples
from different Shakespeare plays"
Question for Romeo:
What's Juliet's favorite Beatle's song?
"Why don't we do it in the road?"
because she wants me on the "highway to [her] bed."
Romeo and Juliet (Act III, scene 2, line 134) JULIA:
He made you for a highway to my bed;
Question for Hamlet:
What does Ophelia like to suck?
"The honey of [my] music vows."
Hamlet (Act III, scene 1, lines 155-156) OPHELIA:
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
Question for Bottom:
What's the worst present Titania ever promised to get you?
She said " I have a venturous fairy that shall . . . fetch thee new nuts."
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act IV, scene 1, lines 35-36)
I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel's hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.
Question for Petruchio:
How did you tame Katherine?
"With my tongue in [her] tail."
The Taming of the Shrew (Act II, scene 1, line 218)
PETRUCHIO (to KATE)
What, with my tongue in your tail? nay, come again,
Recipe for Nuclear Mackerel Casserole
Chop up one quarter red onion and add it to a 2-qt microwaveable bowl.
Chop up one large carrot & add to bowl.
Tear up a handful of fresh spinach & add to bowl.
Add half a small head of broccoli
Add a small can of no-salt-added whole button mushrooms to bowl.
Add one can of red beans to the bowl.
Remove bones from a can of mackerel and add the mackerel to the bowl.
Add one cup of 100% whole-wheat rotini pasta.
Add a small can of no-salt-added tomato sauce.
Add one or two tablespoons of olive oil.
Add one tablespoon of matcha (powdered green tea).
Add a little garlic powder.
Add a tablespoon of turmeric.
Add a teaspoon of oregano.
Add some powdered ginger.
Add some Italian seasoning.
Add two tablespoons of dried parsley.
Shake a large bottle of hot pepper sauce over the bowl until your arm gets tired.
Add a small can of low-sodium V-8 juice.
Transfer half the contents of the bowl to another bowl and refrigerate for a later meal.
Add some water to the 2-qt bowl(I measure out one small can of water, using the empty tomato sauce can.)
Nuke it (microwave)for about 25 minutes.
One problem with "IQ" scores is that they're one dimensional.
Intelligence is not one dimensional nor two nor three dimensional.
How many dimensions does intelligence have? About 7 billion.
The trouble with Google is that it overwhelms me with info.
I don't know where to start. And once I do start, Google keeps
tempting me to go off on endless tangents.
I guess that's what they call "surfing the web,"
although sometimes it feels more like drowning in information.
Some of my favorite artists, Bougereau, Salvador Dali,
Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kinkade, Kagaya Yutaka, Boris Vallejo,
are sneered at by the art establishment.
In war, the winner is usually whichever government is
capable of inflicting the most suffering on its own people.
In World War II, you might think the victorious United States
had inflicted relatively little suffering on its own people.
But consider the thousands of miles out of their way
that Americans had to go to collect their share of the suffering.
On my way to an evening linear algebra class, I stopped by the
Arizona State University Student Union building for a fast meal. A group of young
students was gathered around a TV set, cheering enthusiastically. The
TV screen was black with flashes of light, which prompted the cheering.
Fireworks? No. It was the night of January 17, 1991. Each flash of light
was an American bomb detonating in the midst of the ancient city of Baghdad,
murdering thousands of innocent people.
I flashed back to 1965. I was sitting in the auditorium of Lakewood (California)
Senior High School, attending a mandatory "pep rally" for the football team. Teachers
were standing in the aisles, taking down names of anybody who failed to cheer. We
were being well trained for that night in 1991.
See "U. S. Bombing: The Myth of Surgical Bombing in the Gulf War"
"First you cut it off, then you kill it." - General Colin Powell
Get in the Boat!
Sermon/joke that I heard somewhere:
Mr Jones was standing on his roof as flood waters rose around him.
A man came by in a rowboat and called out, "Get in the boat. I'll save you." Jones replied, "No, I have faith in the Lord. The Lord will save me."
The waters continued to rise. When they were up to Jones' waist, a man in a motorboat came by and call out, "Get in the boat. I'll save you." Jones replied, "No, I have faith in the Lord. The Lord will save me."
When the waters were lapping at Jones' chin, a helicopter came by and lowered a rope ladder. The helicopters speaker blared out, "Climb the ladder, we'll save you." Jones replied, "No, I have faith in the Lord. The Lord will save me."
Finally the waters rose above his head, and Jones drowned. Arriving at the Pearly Gates, Jones whined to Saint Peter, "I had faith in the Lord! Why didn't he save me?" Saint Peter replied, "The Lord sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter. What more did you want?"
My comments on the sermon:
Some people believe that the Lord will save them.
Others believe that we live in a basically benevolent universe
where it is possible to survive.
Either way, it's necessary to GET IN THE BOAT.
In other words, you have to take care of yourself
and also you sometimes need a little help from your friends.
That's why two of my favorite songs are "Michael, row the boat ashore"
and "I'll get by with a little help from my friends."
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
- Reinhold Niebuhr
Although I live in the middle of a city,
from either my bed or my desk-chair/easy-chair
I can look out both my bedroom windows and see trees.
And I can look at my monitor, through the Internet, to see the world.
I am content.
20,000 years ago, during the Ice Age, a young couple was trapped on a small island
in the middle of a raging icy river. The waters were rising and they knew they
would drown if they stayed where they were.
There were chunks of ice floating
in the river. The young couple did not believe they could leap from
ice chunk to ice chunk to reach the safety of the shore. But their only other
choice was certain death.
They did not believe they could reach safety, but they took
a leap of faith and they did make it to the shore.
That young couple become ancestors of us
all. We are alive today because of their faith.
You have no control over your beliefs. You must believe only what seems
most probable. But your very life is highly improbable.
You live not by belief, but by faith.
You cannot choose to believe, but you can choose to have faith,
and by your faith you can make the improbable become reality.
The Virtue of Selfishness and the Selfishness of Altruism
Ayn Rand's concept of selfishness has nothing to do
with short-sighted petty greed. To Rand, being selfish meant
being true to yourself - guiding your actions by your own values
rather than surrendering your will to arbitrary authorities.
Your values are derived from a combination of heredity, social conditioning
and rational thought about the sum of your experiences. To some extent, you
can mold your own values by means of rational thought. But in the final analysis,
you want what you want and you are who you are.
The hereditary part of your values (the "hard-wiring" in your brain) is the
result of millions of years of evolution (natural selection of those random
mutations which enhance reproductive success). However, evolution is not a
perfectionist. Many of our inherited traits are random by-products - as long as
they don't have significant reproductive costs, they can be inherited.
We probably inherited some hard-wiring for empathy in order for mammalian mothers
to understand and respond to the needs of their infants. Then that motherly
empathy probably evolved into something more general and became the basis for language
and trade. As such, empathy was hugely successful in enhancing reproductive
success - that's why there are now 7 billion of us.
But empathy is not finely-honed to apply only to situations which enhance reproductive
success. You could fall in love with somebody, then sacrifice your own life
to save that person, even though you have not mated. In a sense, that kind of
empathy is an "evolutionary mistake." But you have no duty to survive or to
reproduce. Your one duty (according to Rand, me, and logic) is to be true to
your self, even if that self includes "evolutionary mistakes."
If you lower the taxes on a billionaire,
he won't use the tax break to eat more caviar
- he's already spending as much as he wants for personal consumption.
Instead he will plow the tax break back into his business
- investing in new factories and hiring new workers
to increase future production of consumer goods for everybody.
(If the billionaire just stuffs more cash into his vault,
that takes money out of circulation,
which lowers prices on all goods and benefits everybody
- at the expense of the billionaire
who loses the interest on his un-invested cash.)
If you lower the taxes on a poor person,
she will use the money to better feed her starving kids.
My preference: eliminate taxes on everybody.
Some claim lowering taxes for some would mean
we "must" raise taxes on others
because government spending can't be cut.
But government spending can and should be cut. Examples:
Cut out the $160 billion per year for stationing U.S. troops overseas.
Release one million people from U.S. prisons. (Half of the 2 million people in cages in the U.S. are being held for victimless crimes.)
Stop giving welfare to giant corporations.
The Wall Street bail-outs cost about a trillion dollars.
Stop giving welfare (Social Security old age pensions)
to able-minded people like me.
Just because the government stole from me for 40 years
in the name of Social Security, that does not give me a moral right
to have the government steal from others to pay my pension.
(However, moral or not, I'm not going to refuse my pension.
The government would just use the savings
to buy more bombs to drop on little brown children.)
If government were abolished, what would happen to all the goods and
services that government's been providing?
Most government "goods and services" are actually bads and disservices.
Government "national defense" just brings us into unnecessary wars.
In the 20th century, our government sent hundreds of thousands of Americans
overseas to be killed by distant foreigners. In the 19th century, (as part
of the brual conquest of the American people) American
governments themselves directly slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Americans (including "Native
Having a government makes a region much more susceptable to foreign conquest.
The invader need only conqueror the local government
to take over its already enslaved subjects.
But if local would-be-governors have not succeeded in
conquering the people of a region,
a foreign government would not have a chance in hell of
conquering and enslaving that land of free people.
Government does not prevent crime. Compare all the murders ever committed
by individuals to the millions murdered by governments in their wars. Compare
all the money stolen by private thieves to the trillions stolen by governments
(and called "taxes").
The American government's "justice" system has two million Americans in cages.
A million of them are there for victimless "crimes." Real criminals who are
in jails are not compensating their victims - instead the victims are robbed again
("taxed") to pay the jailers. A private justice system, like the old
non-governmental merchant and common laws, would emphasize restitution.
But what about the poor people? Doesn't the government, Robin-Hood-like, rob
from the rich to give to the poor?
No, it doesn't. The government robs from the poor to give to the rich.
The government robs from the poorest of workers, who are forced to pay Social
Security tax on every dollar they earn. From the very poorest people,
Mexican immigrants, the government takes away everything,
even the right to earn an honest living (by selling their services to willing
employers and customers).
Comments on Sex at Dawn:
The authors imply that early humans were polyamorous because that encouraged
sharing which enhanced survivability. It's true that cooperation is an important
survival skill, but there are two forms of voluntary cooperation: Sharing and trade.
Individuals choose to trade only when they each benefit from the trade. Sharing can
be one-sided, but one-sided sharing is temporary. The sharing is expected to
eventually be reciprocal. So sharing is really just a less formal method of trading.
The authors cite bats that share their blood meals. But vampire bats have
larger brains than other bats so that they can keep track of which other vampire bats
have previously shared or denied blood. That's more like trading than sharing.
Within bands (and families), informal trade (sharing) is more practical. But
even those early bands probably derived significant benefits from trading with other
Perhaps the main benefit of polyamory was in reducing aggression, thus setting the
stage for cooperation (via sharing and trading).
One might object that trading depends on private property,
which necessitates aggression to defend it. But polyamory could
lead to voluntary respect for property rights
(but not rights to somebody else's body),
without the need for violent enforcement.
The authors assert that agriculture caused lower standards of living.
In my opinion, agriculture led to surplus wealth. The fact that population
increased seems to me to be conclusive proof that the standard of living improved.
However, increased wealth led to larger parasites
- specifically to the parasite called government.
In bonobos, more food means more sex. One theory is that
bonobos are more peaceful than chimps because of the relative abundance of food in
the bonobo environment. So more food should have made farmers more peaceful, not
more aggressive. My impression is that farmers are very friendly with their rural
neighbors - barn-raising and all that. The aggression in agriculture comes from
outside - from governments (which might have originally been rogue
patriarchal hunter bands that
Polyamory leads to peaceful voluntarist matriarchy. Governments are violent
patriarchies. That's why governments punish polyamory. It's the chimp-humans
trying to suppress the bonobo-humans.
I love it when the great writers in my head talk to each other.
Like when Rand and Torvald discussed "A," and when von Mises and Jesus
talked about faith and human action.
Ayn Rand said "A is A."
Linus Torvald said "Let A be B."
And they begat Linux.
quote from Think Python, by Allen B. Downey:
. . . . The idea is that you should start with a program that does something
and make small modifications, debugging them as you go, so that you always
have a working program.
For example, Linux is an operating system that contains thousands of lines
of code, but it started out as a simple program Linus Torvalds used to
explore the Intel 80386 chip. According to Larry Greenfield,
ďOne of Linusís earlier projects was a program that would switch between
printing AAAA and BBBB. This later evolved to Linux.Ē
(The Linux Usersí Guide Beta Version 1).
end-quote from Think Python
"Belief" is a mathematical/scientific calculation of probabilities
based on the available data.
"Faith" is a set of assumptions which are needed to achieve worthwhile goals.
My beliefs are not a matter of choice - they are determined by the past.
However, I can choose my faith - and that choice can determine the future.
I do not "believe" in God - nor in goodness, love, purpose, freedom or progress.
But I have faith.
Failed the Turing Test again.
Every few days I encounter a website that wants me to prove
I'm human by copying some hard-to-read letters.
I usually fail on the first 2 or 3 tries.
Does this mean I'm not human?
Isn't there something disturbing about the fact
that all these Turing tests are administered by computers?
I'm getting sick and tired of damn computers telling me that I'm not human!
A QUESTION POSTED ON YAHOO ANSWERS:
I'm studying accounting, why do I have to read stupid Shakespeare?
Hamlet isn't going to make me any money.
Barabas in his counting-house [a small room], with heaps of gold before him.
Fie, what a trouble tis to count this trash!
Well fare the Arabians, who so richly pay
The things they traffic for with wedge of gold,
Whereof a man may easily in a day
Tell that which may maintain him all his life.
The needy groom, that never fingered groat
Would make a miracle of thus much coin,
But he whose steel barred coffers are crammed full,
And all his lifetime hath been tired
Wearying his fingers ends with telling it,
Would in his age be loath to labor so,
And for a pound to sweat himself to death.
Give me the merchants of the Indian mines
That trade in metal of the purest mold,
The wealthy Moor, that in the eastern rocks
Without control can pick his riches up
And in his house heap pearl like pebblestones,
Receive them free and sell them by the weight,
Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Jacinths, hard topaz, grass green emeralds,
Beauteous rubies, sparkling diamonds,
And seldseen costly stones of so great price
As one of them, indifferently rated
And of a carat of this quantity,
May serve in peril of calamity
To ransom great kings from captivity.
This is the ware wherein consists my wealth.
And thus methinks should men of judgment frame
Their means of traffic from the vulgar trade,
And as their wealth increaseth, so enclose
Infinite riches in a little room."
- The Jew of Malta, Christopher Marlow
"When a man's verses cannot be understood...
it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a small room."
- As You Like It, William Shakespeare
[Christopher Marlowe had been murdered (stabbed through the eye)
in a quarrel over the bill (the "reckoning")
in a small back room of an inn.
Another possible interpretation
- it has often been said that poetry packs a lot of meaning into a few words.]
When I finally started reading Hamlet,
I was amazed that I was discovering important things
that all the critics and scholars had missed.
I was certain that I would soon be rich and famous.
That was 18 years ago.
Since then I've made a lot of sense from Hamlet, but not one cent.
Shakespeare's verses and my explanations are still misunderstood,
but I'm not dead yet and I HAVE amassed "infinite riches in a little room"
- on my website at
Smith's Hyper Hamlet
An Annotated Hamlet with Hypertext Links to Related Lines, Motifs, and Essays
My Accounting 101 teacher claimed that the invention of
double entry bookkeeping was the foundation
for all the subsequent prosperity of the West. I believe that.
Double entry bookkeeping is a great thing that everybody should learn about,
but, as Hamlet said,
"there are more things in heaven and earth . . .
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'
(If you're not an anti-statist like me, then in the following paragraph
you could substitute whatever you prefer for "Lysander Spooner," "statist,"
In self-defense, those of us who know better must educate the idiots.
That's a daunting task. Fortunately, we have the help of giants like
but that's not enough.
The first step to educating an idiot is that you have to LISTEN to him.
That is extremely painful,
but it's the only we way to persuade him of the truth.
You have to actually venture into the darkness of
brains to battle stupid ideas on their own ground.
We need to thoroughly understand how and why
some (most) people believe in
We need those idiots. We need to study their brains.
Analyzing Hamlet a piece at a time is like
trying to make love to a woman by dissecting her.
All the parts are connected
- you lose the essence if you sever the connections.
"When lower interest rates result from real saving,
the banking system is signaling that the necessary sacrifice of
present consumption has taken place in order to fund long-term investment.
But when central banks push down rates on a whim,
the impression is created that the savings are there
when they are in fact completely absent.
The resulting bust becomes inevitable
as goods that come to production canít be purchased,
and reality sets in by waves.
Businesses fail, homes are foreclosed upon,
and people bail out of stocks or whatever is
the fashionable investment of the day."
Paul, Ron (2009-08-27). End the Fed (p. 30).
Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.
When somebody wants to "agree to disagree"
with your philosophy of non-coercion,
what he's really saying is
"shut up and do what I tell you or I'll kill you."
Or to rephrase that:
Moe: "Live and let live."
Joe: "Let's agree to disagree on that."
Moe: "You don't want to let me live? And you want me to agree to that?"
"Therefore, free will itself is any good only to the extent that it
contributes to eventual reproduction." - Matt Ridley in The Red Queen
In that statement, Ridley has it backwards. Evolution has no purpose.
Only individual humans have purposes. There is no "good" or "evil" connected
to evolution. "Good" and "evil" apply only to the choices made by individual
humans, exercising their free wills. "Good" has nothing to do with natural
selection and evolution, but it has everything to do with free will. I agree
with Ridley that evolutionary psychology is a valuable tool for understanding
basic human nature. But basing morality on evolution is no more rational than
basing morality on astrology.
Your inherited "hard-wiring," which is a product of evolution, is a part of
who you are - but only a part. The rest of you, the product of all your
experiences and thoughts ("everything that youth and observation copied there")
is what makes you a unique individual - the source of your free will and of
the choices which make up your morality.
Yahoo ANSWERS QUESTION about truth in Hamlet, and my ANSWER:
Government (any government) is basically a gang of thieves
who maintain control over their victims with a combination of
violent coercion and deception.
Here are some of the deceptions that prop up governments:
(1) "You can't fight city hall."
Supposedly the power of government is so overwhelming that resistance is futile.
But the victims of government vastly outnumber the minions of government.
Furthermore, we have the "power of the purse"
- all wealth is produced by the private sector.
Government cannot survive by violent coercion alone - it also needs deception.
(2) "Kings are divinely appointed."
You might think that one is archaic,
but a surprising number of people believe that
God wants them to obey the government.
(3) "Government has a moral mandate because it does the will of the majority."
Two fallacies in one:
---(a) "Will" is a property of individuals, not groups.
There is no such thing as the "will of the majority."
---(b) Basing morality on majority vote is just a thinly disguised form of
"might makes right." That's the opposite of morality.
Submit to force if you must, but never condone it,
for that would make a mockery of morality.
(4) "We need government to control big corporations."
But when we give power to government,
government ALWAYS is captured by the powerful,
who then use it to increase their power over us.
Big corporations are government creatures
- they survive by government contracts, bailouts, and suppression of competition.
And government is the violent-coercion branch of the corporate old boys' club.
(See "War Is a Racket" by Major General Smedley Butler.)
The solution: don't condone violent coercion
(taxes, import and immigration restrictions, patents, licensing,
victimless crime laws, censorship, invasions of privacy) by ANYONE,
especially if he calls himself a "representative of The People."
The Trouble With Patents
Discovering a new idea is like discovering a new continent. That discovery
does not give you ownership of the whole continent (even if you're a government).
However, you can sell your services to guide others to the new continent. And
you can claim a piece of land on the new continent by building improvements on
that piece of land. But you do not have the moral right to prevent others from
improving and claiming other pieces of land on the continent.
Was Columbus a hero who brought Western ideals and freedom to the New World?
I think some American Indian tribes were libertarian anarchies.
Everything that happened 500 years ago is a cause for everything that happens
today. But nobody gives the Spanish Inquisition credit for writing the
Bill of Rights (well, maybe Dick Cheney made that connection).
We judge people by their intent and by the rationally predictable consequences
of their actions.
Many of us judge people by whether they initiate force.
Columbus initiated force. Columbus' intent was to violently enslave
the native population of America.
Columbus was no advocate of freedom so he deserves no credit for the
achievements of true proponents of freedom.
I don't blame Columbus for wiping out most of the native population
with Old World diseases. That was unintentional and unforeseeable
with the knowledge available at the time. But I do blame Columbus
for the enslavement of generations of American Indians.
The "War Against Drugs" is a war of all American cops against the Constitution
and against all decent Americans.
Sharing is a zero-sum game.
Liberals often mistakenly call free-trade a zero-sum game.
But trades don't occur freely unless both parties benefit
from the transaction - wealth is created by the trade.
You can't share with the whole world (except ideas). But
you can and do trade with the whole world.
Some of the best "sharing" (such as sharing ideas and sharing
within families) is really just informal trading. Altruists
refuse to recognize the trading aspects of such sharing, or if
they do, they call it "selfishness" and "greed."
When I share ideas, I'm really trading, in three senses:
(1) I'm repaying for ideas others have shared with me. If all
my conversations were only with myself, my brain would
soon grind to a halt or, worse, get trapped in an infinite
(2) I hope for some form of recognition for my ideas.
(3) My ideas are a vital part of who I am. If my ideas go out
into the world and multiply (even without my name attached),
then "I" am growing.
I'm not a parent, but I think my above remarks about sharing ideas
could also applying to raising children. Which reminds me of another
reason I like to exchange ideas - because it's fun. I've heard that
creating children is also a lot of fun.
Somebody asked for ideas for an Ophelia Halloween costume. My Answer:
Your dress should be wet, since she drowned,
but that would be uncomfortable, and you'd drip on people's floors.
You could carry a skull - say it's your new boyfriend, Yorick,
and you dumped Hamlet because he was bringing you down, down, a-down-o.
Carry a little empty honey jar.
Say it used to hold the "honey of Hamlet's music vows."
Maybe put some maggots in the jar, and say you're "breeding maggots" now.
Carry some bells. Say they are Hamlet's "sweet bells jangled."
Or carry a couple of Christmas tree balls and
say they are Hamlet's "sweet balls jangled."
Drag around a "dead dog" on a leash. Kiss the dog,
call him a "good kissing carrion,"
and say that at least he's a better kisser than Hamlet.
Carry a very small book. Say it's the book of Hamlet's brain and that
you're giving it a bad review.
Carry around a little treasure box.
Say that the box is your "chaste treasure" and that your brain is inside,
but your brother has the key.
Half way through the evening, change into a nun's custom because
Hamlet told you to get to a nunnery.
Or just carry around a little doll of a nun - with pins stuck in it.
If you meet a guy who gets all the above, avoid him - he's a Hamlet geek.
Ayn Rand said "A is A."
Linus Torvald said "Let A be B."
And thus began Linux.
quote from Think Python, by Allen B. Downey:
. . . . The idea is that you should start with a program that does something
and make small modifications, debugging them as you go, so that you always
have a working program.
For example, Linux is an operating system that contains thousands of lines
of code, but it started out as a simple program Linus Torvalds used to
explore the Intel 80386 chip. According to Larry Greenfield,
ďOne of Linusís earlier projects was a program that would switch between
printing AAAA and BBBB. This later evolved to Linux.Ē
(The Linux Usersí Guide Beta Version 1).
end-quote from Think Python
What is money?
Money is whatever you want to buy with it.
Money is whatever someone wants to sell for it.
Money is voluntary cooperation.
Money is the glue that holds civilization together.
Money is us.
(The dollar sign is "us" with the "u" superimposed on the "s".)
Money is freedom.
Wisdom is not additive, but the power to kill is.
Five fools are no wiser than one,
but five fools with guns are five times as deadly.
That's the basis of majority rule - might makes right.
By definition, consent cannot be forced,
and I will not consent to be enslaved.
nor was I was born into slavery,
despite the claims of the Statists to own a percentage of
everything I create with my life and my mind.
As for a better system,
as an individual I do not have the wisdom, ability,
or moral right to impose any "system" on anyone. So I don't vote.
Instead I try to persuade others,
not to form a new "system"
but just to apply their own day-to-day moral standards to everybody
- including government agents who try to
justify their thievery by calling it taxation and
justify their murders by calling them "war".
The majority has decided that I should consent to abide by majority rule.
But it is impossible for the majority to give my consent.
Only I can give or withhold my own consent.
To quote Hamlet: "How if I answer 'No'?"
I apply my own moral standards to regulate my own actions.
To delegate my moral decisions to somebody else would be the
ultimate self-betrayal, amounting to psychic suicide.
Rules that I choose myself to limit my own behavior
are called "ethics" or "morality."
Rules that somebody else selects and enforces with the threat of violence
are called "extortion" or "slavery" or "government."
If I don't like your behavior or you don't like mine,
the best solution is for us to simply not associate with each other.
That's much better than trying to control each other with violence.
Most people will never understand what I'm trying to say.
I'll continue to peaceably trade with those people,
using their own coinage.
But I am no longer primarily trying to educate the masses with my writing.
Instead, I am trying to make contact with the enlightened few.
With those few, I will exchange ideas.
JFK, the Catholic President from Massachusetts, should have gone to MASS.
As soon as he learned of the Soviet missiles in Cuba,
Kennedy should have met with Khrushchev,
then held a joint news conference to announce:
"We are ending the insanity of MAD, to be replaced with MASS,
'Mutual Assured Sanity and Survival.'
Under the new policy of MASS, the U.S. will immediately remove
all nuclear weapons from Italy and Turkey,
and the U.S.S.R. will immediately remove all nuclear weapons from Cuba.
Then we will begin the mutual assured destruction of all nuclear weapons."
As the sun was setting during the Cuban missile crisis,
Robert McNamara said, "The sun is setting.
This may be the last sunset we will ever see."
But if MASS had been implemented, McNamara could have said,
"Content thyself awhile. By the mass, 'tis morning;" - Othello, II,iii
Let's all go to MASS. No more nukes.
250 years ago, if you wanted to defend your liberty,
you practised sharpshooting.
Today, if you want to defend your liberty, you learn cryptology.
Today, I begin my crpytology class.
This tragedy is the reason we would say "No!" to nuclear war."
- Mrs Vasili Arkhopov, referring to a fatal nuclear accident her
husband had witnessed the year before he refused to launch a nuclear
missle during the Cuban Missle Crisis.
A quote from me, related to the quote from Mrs Arkhopov:
Epitaph for a Peacemaker
(derived from Shakespeare by Ray Eston Smith Jr)
"To be or not to be so like the king,"
For Hamlet THAT was and is the question.
With Denmark's dying voice Hamlet did bring
The final answer. "NO!" his answer soars
To the heavens, "now END all of these wars!"
I once thought that if I had a good idea
- something original and true and important
- that I need only release it to the world
and it would spread like wildfire.
That was almost twenty years ago
and my original and true and important ideas about Hamlet
are still smoldering in obscurity,
but I'll keep the spark alive as long
as I have breath to give it.
Someday my spark may help re-ignite the Re-Enlightenment.
Governments will survive as long as enough people believe
government myths such as:
(1) "Government's laws define morality." That idea is merely a thinly
disguised form of "might makes right," which is the opposite of true morality.
True morality is not imposed from above by threat of violence.
True morality consists of those rules which an individual voluntarily chooses
to regulate his own behavior so that other people following the same rules
will choose to associate with him. The only such rule that works is
"Do not initiate force or fraud," which is essentially identical to the
Wiccan "Do as you will, as long as it harms no one," and to the Judeo-Christian
"Do onto others as you would have them do onto you."
(2) "Government agents are not subject to the same rules of morality as
government subjects." But it's not morality if it doesn't apply to everyone
- it's just rules for the regulation of slaves.
(3) "Government is essential for your education, the delivery of your mail,
your transportation, your religious and moral instruction, your use of medicines,
the size of your toilet tank, the color of your house,
the arbitration of your disputes, your self-defense, or whatever else the
government has declared a monopoly on."
(4) "Government is omniscient.
It knows how to run your life better than you do."
(5) "Government is almighty. You can't fight city hall.
We've always (for the last 10 thousand years of our 50,000+ year
history and prehistory, in many places) had government,
therefore we always will.
One-sixth of the population can control the other five-sixths forever.
Low-level government employees will always remain loyal to
government leaders more than to their friends and relatives,
to themselves, and to their consciences."
(6) "Government is benevolent. Taxes are voluntary.
You have given your consent by voting or by not voting.
Ignore those men with guns - you will never see them as long as
you are an obedient slave. The leaders of government are angels
- they are here to serve you" [for dinner].
(7) "You have no rights, just because you're human.
You only have privileges which are granted by governments and
can be rescinded by governments.
What Big Brother has given Big Brother can take away.
Government can and does make those privileges conditional
depending on your skin color, gender, sexual orientation, latitude and longitude,
and proper habits of thought and speech."
(8) "You do not own yourself. At least 15% of everything you create belongs
to the government. Furthermore you were born a couple hundred thousand dollars
in debt to the government. Government bureaucrats signed the IOUs in your
future name (and SSN - State Slave Number)."
But truth is stronger than lies. I and a few million others like me
are far more dangerous to government than all the bombers and terrorists and
foreign armies. By exposing the truth we are undermining the
foundations of government, which will eventually lead to its collapse.
I have no obligation to support anybody but myself.
However, I have empathy, so I don't let people in my immediate neighborhood
starve - that's why there's a homeless family camping in my living room
right now (although I'm very angry at the irresponsible lazy druggie parents).
Empathy is an essential trait for surviving and thriving by trade.
It helps you understand your trading partners so you're better able to offer
them the trade items they want. Empathy for homeless people is a
useless byproduct of that sense of empathy - but it's a part of who we are
- you gotta be who you are. As Popeye (or was it Jehovah?) said,
"I yam what I yam."
(Although actually the empathy comes mostly from my roommate, Elle.
And my empathy for Elle is about 7-tenths lust.)
Although I'm retired now, I am more productive than ever before in my life.
I'm being productive by exchanging ideas on the Internet.
Although that doesn't justify my government pension.
But I accept my pension with a clear conscience
because I view it as that much less money that the government has
for buying bombs to murder little brown children in Asia.
Welfare recipients (other than milionaires & big corporations)
can use the same justification. The criminals are not the recipients of
government spending - the criminals are everybody who condones
government theft ("taxes").
Do I "deserve" my pension? No. I have never "deserved" anything.
I have acquired income without using force or fraud.
That's all I expect from myself or anybody else.
I'll leave it to God or Karma or Michael Moore or whoever
to judge who deserves what. I don't give a damn about "deserves."
People complain about welfare recipients who have a "sense of entitlement."
Actually welfare recipients are NO more or LESS entitled than
the guy who earns his pay digging ditches or doing brain surgery.
They are all obtaining income without using force or fraud. Good enough.
The bad guys are everybody who condones theft (aka "taxes).
I guess that's just about everybody. Shame on you all!
Don't give me your shit about "welfare queens."
They're not the bad guys - you are!
Why do people disagree with the Non-Aggression Principle?
Children are indoctrinated by parents,churches, and by government schools
to believe that ethics is not subject to logic. Parents (with spanking)
and government schools (with threats of incarceration in reform school
for truancy) coerce children into accepting the false ethics of
"might makes right" in place of the natural (arising spontaneously from
playground interactions - "play nice, or play alone")
Most churches, synogogues, and mosques advocate the "might makes right"
principle by worshiping the "Almighty" Extortionist who threatens people
with hellfire if they refuse to submit to Him.
Most people think there are too many people in the world.
That makes me sad.
The human race seems to be suffering from a serious lack of self-esteem.
To Jeff & Elly, a swinging couple, pen-pals whom I've never met in person:
Jeff & Elly, you are such a lovely, lovable, loving couple, partners in life, mates in body and soul. Together you have created the miracle of new lives.
In 10 or 15 years, you will have grandchildren. Within 30 years after that you will have great-grandchildren. On average, the number of your descendants will at least double every 30 years. In 600 years, you will have a million descendants. Two thousand years from now, you will be the ancestors of everybody in the world. Every man, woman, and child will be the product of Jeff's cum in Elly's cunt. The same is true of all the other parents on Earth
today. The next 2,000 years will be an extended orgy of cocks cumming in cunts and, at least as sexy, babies cumming out of cunts as all the cocks and cunts, sperm and eggs of the whole human race mix and merge together to createlife from love.
I'm not a parent, so I don't get to participate directly in that orgy with my sperm and my genes, but I'll be there in spirit. Elly, if you will let me inside your mind and soul for just a few moments, the next time you're in ecstasy from a hard cock up your ass or in your cunt or a soft tongue licking your clit, imagine for just an instant that it's my cock or my tongue giving you that pleasure, just as every day I imagine my cum spurting into your
body as my soul falls into your lovely eyes.
Here's a more generalized version that I'm posting on Facebook on 4/28/2014. Hopefully it will go viral.
The following is more risque than anything I'd normally post on Facebook, but it's really no more risque than The Body Electric. (But Hallmark probably wouldn't put it on one of their cards.)
To a modern Adam and Eve, on the birth of your child:
Adam and Eve, you are such a lovely, lovable, loving couple, partners in life, mates in body and soul. Together you have created the miracle of new life.
In 20 or 30 years, you will have grandchildren. Within 30 years after that you will have great-grandchildren. On average, the number of your descendants will at least double every 30 years. In 600 years, you will have a million descendants. Two thousand years from now, you will be the ancestors of everybody in the world. Every man, woman, and child will be the product of Adam's cum in Eve's cunt. The same is true of all the other parents on Earth today. The next 2,000 years will be an extended orgy of cocks cumming in cunts and, at least as sexy, babies cumming out of cunts as all the cocks and cunts, sperm and eggs of the whole human race mix and merge together to create life from love.
Politicians have no power except the power to destroy. When you vote, you are merely expressing a preference on who to destroy next. But don't feel guilty - your vote doesn't count anyway.
The real purpose of voting is not to let the voters control the politicians. It's to let the politicians control the voters. Voters are being programmed to select one-bit answers to false dichotomies chosen by the politicians.
Your vote does not count.
The margin of error is at least several hundred votes. Last I heard, people were still arguing over the final vote tally from the 2000 election, but it's not in the news anymore because nobody cares.
Your vote impacts nobody or nothing except to tickle a transistor buried in a computer chip somewhere. Even if they accurately counted every single vote, do you believe that any politician looks at the final count and is in any way influenced by whether he got 97,496 votes or 97,497 votes? Try to find that final exact count in your local newspaper. It's only news until enough votes have been counted to decide the outcome - after that, nobody cares.
A vote that is only counted by a computer does not count. It does not count until it influences the behavior of a human. But nobody cares about the last vote.
And if the last vote does not count, then no single vote counts. And that's all you get - a single vote that does not count.
The collectivists want to train you to identify with the collective - which is the first step in identifying with the State. They want you to think that, in casting your single vote, you are a whole collective of like-minded voters. But you are not. You are an individual. If you stop behaving like an individual, then you will not BE the State, you will be OWNED by the State.
The policitians want you to think that they are the center of the world and that your only possible influence comes from giving them your consent by voting for them. But they are wrong. "Regular people" make the world go around through their voluntary interactions on the free market and through the WORDS (not one-bit votes) that they exchange with each other.
So if you want to influence the world, instead of voting in the next election, use that time to share your words and whole ideas with "regular people" instead of serving computers that are programmed to program you to choose one-bit answers to false dichotomies framed by authorities who have only the power to destroy. Stay home and talk to your friends - your vote won't count but your words will change the world.
A smile is infinitely more attractive than any makeup. And makeup is counter-productive if it covers up laugh lines.
The Biblical claim that "God created Man in His own Image" contains a deep philosophical truth (although it would make more sense to say "in HER own image). Life is, in some sense, a mirror of the Universe. But it's a very focused mirror. Every living cell on Earth contains a concentrated image of the last 4 billion years of the Earth's crust. In creating that cell, random variation and natural selection were painting a portrait of the environments of all that cell's ancestors. Also living things are evolving according to logical patterns. Idealists (such as I) believe that ideas have an independent existence - we don't create ideas, we discover them. The patterns of life did not form randomly - the patterns already existed. The random events of mutation, blown by the winds of natural selection, crystallized on the pre-existing logical patterns of life.
If somebody really wants to save the lives of some unborn babies, she should stop wasting her time lobbying for laws against abortion. All her efforts will never save a single baby. Instead, she should seek out mothers-to-be who need financial and emotional support to bring their babies into this world. By helping them, one person can save many many babies - and maybe even get to hold some of them in her own arms.
I have a simple definition of evil - evil is the initiation of force or fraud. I find that simple definition to be extremely useful in judging the behavior of others (to determine whether or to what extent I want to associate with them) and in guiding my own behavior (so that others will choose to associate with me).
Yes, the exact definition of "initiation of force" can be murky in some particular situations. But that makes the general principle even more important as a starting point for analyzing those complex real-world situations.
I've noticed that I use an awful lot of but's, but I can't help it. My overuse of but's might be a symptom of schizophrenia, always arguing with myself, but I think it's more because I have a well-balanced mind. But that's just my opinions.
All writers are schizophrenic. As I write this, you, dear reader, are nothing but a figment of my imagination. But as you read this (if you ever do), I will be nothing but this illusion of your existence echoing silently in your imaginary mind.
Broadcast TV can show a woman's mutilated corpse but can't show a healthy woman's bare nipples, not even if she's feeding a baby. Obscenity laws are obscene.
"This is a problem in terms of how many people are on the planet." - Professor Noor
That is a highly immoral idea.
Professor Noor implied that China's One-Child policy is a good idea, but just doesn't go far enough. On the other hand, he made a point of expressing his disagreement with Ronald Fisher's ideas. But China's policy is enforced by putting people in cages and murdering babies, whereas Fisher only advocated giving subsidies to large families.
Fisher "showed that there was an inverse relationship between fertility and social class. This was partly due, he believed, to the rise in social status of families who were not capable of producing many children but who rose because of the financial advantage of having a small number of children. Therefore he proposed the abolition of the economic advantage of small families by instituting subsidies (he called them allowances) to families with larger numbers of children, with the allowances proportional to the earnings of the father . . . . Between 1929 and 1934 the Eugenics Society also campaigned hard for a law permitting sterilization on eugenic grounds. They believed that it should be entirely voluntary, and a right, not a punishment. . . . . Fisher played a major role in this movement, and served in several official committees to promote it.
In 1934, Fisher moved to increase the power of scientists within the Eugenics Society, but was ultimately thwarted by members with an environmentalist point of view, and he, along with many other scientists, resigned." - n.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Fisher#Fisher.27s_Genetical_Theory_of_Natural_Selection
The eugenics movement later advocated forced sterilizations, leading to more than 60,000 forced sterilizations in the U.S. But that was not at all what Fisher had advocated.
"Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States" http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/
"Compulsory sterilization" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilization
I don't agree with Fisher's ideas either, but at least he didn't advocate putting people in cages and murdering babies. Other people's reproduction is nobody else's business.
Furthermore, China is not "overpopulated" - it is overgoverned.
Country........... People/sq mi....Per Capita GDP
Singapore............... 18,513... $60,688
Hong Kong............... 16,444 .. $50,551
Taiwan................... 1,655... $37,716
South Korea.............. 1,261... $30,286
Netherlands.............. 1,049... $42,772
Japan...................... 873... $34,314
North Korea................ 518... $1,800
China...................... 365... $8,400
United States............... 83... $48,112
New York state............. 502... $57.423
For resources on the myth of overpopulation, please see http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ultimate_Resource_%28book%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon%E2%80%93Ehrlich_wager http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Simon
In non-human populations, the "solution" to population growth is violent - either starvation or animals of the same species killing each other while fighting over food.
But humans are capable of using their brains to rise above that kind of "nature red in tooth and claw." We have a choice. We can continue "red in tooth and claw" with violent "solutions", such as governments pointing guns at people for the "crime" of having too many kids. Or we can use our minds (as most people do most of the time, except in voting booths) and we can solve our problems with non-violent, non-coercive cooperation.
The decision to reproduce or not belongs to individual women (who can, if they wish, make parenting contracts to share that decision with a partner). There is no non-violent, non-coercive way to take that decision away from women. It's good if they have access to birth control, as long as they are not forced to use it (nor forbidden to use it). However, when a woman chooses to have a child , nobody else (except her chosen parenting partner) should be violently coerced into supporting her child. So the mother (and her parenting partner) incur opportunity costs for raising a child. Those opportunity costs increase as the population increases.
Increase in population makes every productive person more productive. Human resources are different than other resources in that respect. When human minds interact without violent coercion (i.e, in a free market), they combine synergistically. Ten minds consume ten times as much food but they create much more than ten times the amount of wealth.
However, as per capita productivity increases (as a result of the synergistic effect of increasing population), the OPPORTUNITY cost of raising children increases. To raise a child means diverting the parents' labor from increasingly productive work, which means the parents are giving up higher and higher incentives for delaying parenthood. So the population naturally stabilizes without the need for violent coercion from government or anybody else.
As for alleged "mass extinctions", the biggest mass extinctions due to humans probably occurred about 10,000 years ago when human hunters may have driven several species of big animals to extinction. As human society evolves through non-coercive free market interactions, we are becoming better and better at preserving and protecting our environment. More advanced societies preserve more wilderness because people are drawn out of the countryside into the cities, where they can become more productive by closer association with more people. Today most of the surface of Earth is wilderness. That wilderness area will grow as civilization advances and people choose to concentrate closer together into more compact cities. So far I think the growth of cities has been stunted by governments that over-tax city cores while subsidizing suburbs and country estates (for instance delivering mail and utilities at below cost). The problem we need to overcome is not "overpopulation." The real problem is over-government.
So called "natural resources" are the products of human ingenuity. Two hundred years ago, petroleum was just a nuisance. Human ingenuity turned petroleum into a valuable resource. More recently shale oil has become a resource, thanks to human ingenuity. All living things consume some kind of non-renewable resource. As a result, some species become extinct, while others evolve to use different resources. Human society is capable of doing that (evolving to use new resources) millions of times faster than the biological evolution of any other species (even faster than bacteria).
Is there some absolute limit to the number of people on Earth? Of course, just as there is an absolute limit to the number of people who can pack into a phone booth. But we don't need laws to prevent people from "overpopulating" phone booths, nor from "overpopulating" the Earth.
Yesterday a meteorite exploded with 20 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. Where? High over Russia's main nuclear waste dump. What if the meteorite had exploded closer to the ground? Would it have caused lethal fallout all over the Earth?
Did somebody just send us a warning shot?
Physical Attractiveness -> Genetic Diversity
We often see claims that physical attractiveness is an indicator of genetic fitness. Supposedly we're attracted to physically beautiful mates because our genes recognize from their facial phenotypes that they have superior genes. But I don't believe that our genes are that smart, except when they make human brains, and even then the brains aren't that smart. I do believe that our genes give us instincts to mate with beautiful people, but the evolutionary "purpose" of that attraction is to RANDOMIZE selection - to prevent over-specialization and loss of genetic variability.
In humans, much of evolution is driven by human minds. Our rational minds lead us to select mates who are best adapted to the environment, and our environment is primarily social. Therefore we tend to prefer those mates who are best adapted to society - the "popular people." Thus, if our selection of mates was ENTIRELY driven by our rational minds, we would soon evolve into a race of extreme social conformists - human ants. Social conformity is often a good thing - it gets all the routine work done. But most progress comes from non-conformists, misfits, the nerds who can't get a prom date.
Occasionally a nerd comes up with a brilliant idea and, rather than being burned at the stake, he or she makes a billion bucks and finds a mate. However, nerds would be much rarer, perhaps completely bred out of the human race, without the randomizing factor of physical beauty. Nerds who happen to be beautiful can find mates even without a billion bucks, thereby preserving and spreading their non-conformist genes to eventually invent Linux or Emacs or discover Noether's Theorem or write Atlas Shrugged.
In 1989, after 70 years of tyranny, Soviet communism collapsed. Why?
Was it voted out? LOL.
Did it collapse because of economic hardships? The economic hardships were far worse in the 1930s when Stalin starved millions of peasant farmers to death. (In the 1980s, the West was propping up the USSR by buying raw materials. Also the Western military-industrial complex may have been secretly supporting massive subsidies to prop up their favorite straw man.)
Did Star Wars defeat the Soviet Union? Russia had survived a much more serious military threat from Hitler.
The real reason Soviet communism collapsed was the failure of its foundation of lies. Despite all its propaganda and censorship, the Soviet empire could no longer seal out the truth. The subjugated people behind the Iron Curtain learned that the Soviet government was not only a malevolent blood-sucking monster - it was also a feeble mindless slug. The terrorist slave-masters had always trembled in terror because they knew they were outnumbered 100-to-one by the slaves. Once the slaves understood that, it was all over.
When it comes to gun control, "I don't have a dog in that fight."
I don't own a gun, I don't need a gun, and I don't want a gun.
But when it comes to self-defense, I definitely do have a dog in that fight.
I have two pit bulls and I'm mad as hell about all the bullshit laws against pit bulls. My pit bulls are my main line of defense. I'm sure they have prevented many attacks against me, including attacks by dirty cops.
So I'll make a deal with all you gun-lovers. I'll say something in defense of guns every time I see one of you say something in defense of pit bulls.
Suppose that 99 out of 100 people are total jerks. That still leaves 1 per cent who are good people. One percent of 7 billion is 70 million good people. And a third of them (so far) are within a few key strokes, right here on the World Wide Web.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!
Usually when I'm in a crowded place I get sweaty, irritable, and claustrophobic. I'm not the kind of guy who likes football rallies, discos, or shopping malls. But on rare occasions, in a crowded shopping mall I get hit with an overwhelming warm and fuzzy sensation of comradeship. We're all in this together. Just ask a stranger for directions and you'll see it. Almost everybody bears good will to all.
Almost everybody likes to be liked. I think that's the secret to getting along with other people. Just make them feel like you really like them. Then you can manipulate the hell out of them.
Why did the Industrial Revolution begin in England?
I think the Scottish Enlightenment had something to do with it, but there is another cause that is purely geographical: warm climate at a high latitude. The warm climate contributed to production of agricultural surpluses. The high latitude meant long summer days in an era when market areas were limited by how far people and goods could travel during the daylight of a single day. Agricultural surplus and access to many trading partners within easy traveling distance led to well-developed local markets which led to everything else.
The warm climate at high latitude was caused by the Gulf Stream and by the moderating effect of the sea on islands.
England also benefited from proximity to markets in continental northwestern Europe which, although not as warm, also benefited from Gulf Stream warming of high latitudes.
Being an island also encouraged England to develop its shipping industry and international trade.
Also being an island protected England from a lot of wars. (And maybe Shakespeare's Hamlet encouraged the pacifism of James VI and I - see Hamlet in a Nutshell - Hamlet Is an Anti-War Play - http://www.thyorisons.com/#Nutshell )
Kiss the Sun and moon da Earth.
- my latest attempt at refrigerator magnet poetry.
(It looks better around the magnetic silhouette of a naked lady on the fridge.)
If superficial appearances were initially an accurate way to determine reproductive fitness, genes to mimic that appearance would soon become widespread.
To the extent that preferences for appearance are genetic, I think the only evolutionary advantage is as a randomizing factor that prevents people from becoming over-bred like prize poodles. Both men and women might "rationally" prefer mates who are successful in society (which usually means extremely conformist), but occasionally they fall in love with attractive but perhaps unsuccessful mongrels, thus preserving "unsuccessful" traits such as unconformity.
Conformity has its place - most of the routine work of society gets done by conformists. But most progress comes from misfits and rebels.
Oppose war AND honor our troops.
I don't condone "collateral casualties" under any circumstances, however I do honor the many American soldiers who put their own lives in greater peril to AVOID collateral casualties. All American ground troops are doing that. We could minimize American casualties by just bombing the hell out of a country (as we did to Yugoslavia and Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Dresden) without ever sending in ground troops.
Of course the best way to save the lives of American troops and of innocent civilians is just to stay out of wars. War is just another name for mass murder. We need to stop sending Americans thousands of miles away from America to put them in range of enemies.
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." - Genesis 1:27 (King James Version)
OK, Bible writers, you got that part right, but you got all the details wrong. You totally underestimated us (and the Goddess).
The Universe began with the Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago. A few minutes later, it had cooled down to a billion degrees.
About 5 billion years ago, a star became a supernova, briefly outshining the whole galaxy and shooting out its substance at 10% of the speed of light (about 20,000 miles/second). That substance became the elements which were to form our bodies. We are stardust.
About half a million years ago, our small-brained hominid ancestors learned to control fire. The ability to cook allowed them to extract more calories from their food. More calories enabled the evolution of larger brains (because brains use a lot of energy). Our brains, our minds, were born of fire.
When you're a minority you can either become a boot-licking toadie of the "good old boys club" - or you can join the underdog pack.
My favorite people are all in the underdog pack. Hear us howl.
I come from a polyamorous family. Not my biological family, but the extended polyamorous family of Robert Heinlein's alternate universe - Jubal Harshaw, Jill Boardman, Anne (Fair Witness), Ben Caxton, Dorcas, Dr Mahmoud, Miriam, Dr Sven Nelsen, Patty Paiwonski, Valentine Michael Smith, Becky Vesey, Hazel Stone, Gay Deceiver, Galahad, Lapis Lazuli Long, Lorelie Lee Long, Lazarus Long, Maureen Johnson Smith, Friday, etc, etc.
The more you love, the more you can love ó and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.
in Time Enough For Love - Robert Heinlein
Talk among yourselves.
"the great majority of neurons receive all of their input from other neurons and send their output to other neurons"
Some people just don't comprehend large numbers.
Once my crazy-as-a-bedbug neighbor came over & asked me to google for her son.
"OK, what should I search for?"
"What's his last name?"
"OK, but I need something to narrow it down a little."
"OK . . . 109 million hits."
"There's millions of pages here."
"Page down again. [She reads several entrie] Page down . . ."
The toughest problems in life were solved by our one-celled ancestors about 3 and a half billion years ago.
Thank you, great-great . . . -grandma!
Humans are genetically modified apes. For better or worse, our ancestors chose each other to produce us.
They coulda done worse. Just look at our cousins, the chimps. Thank you, great-great-...-great-grandma & granpa, for your excellent taste in mates.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!"
- William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Good jazz musicians don't play melodies - they make love to them.
Assume anthropogenic CO2 emissions are causing significant global warming and assume (however dubiously) that that global warming will have major negative effects on people.
Currently the US is producing 21% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions, but China is producing 25% and that percentage is increasing rapidly as China's standard of living rises above the old communist subsistence-level.
Can we ask the Chinese to freeze their standard of living at what we would consider poverty levels? If we have the arrogance to ask, how would they answer?
So the bottom line is that CO2 emissions will continue and the US can only have a marginal effect on that.
But we can have a major role in ameliorating any negative impacts of global warming. We can manufacture air conditioners. We can help build new cities farther inland, worldwide. We can grow enough food to feed the world. And newly-capitalist China will help with all of that.
So I am very optimistic about the future of humanity.
Who are MY people?
Everybody who was born on territory under the guns of the U.S. Government? No. Dick Cheney and O.J. Simpson are NOT my people, but most of the thousands of Mexican immigrants rotting in INS cages ARE my people.
My people are all those who are practising the Non-Aggression Principle. By that standard, many members of the species Homo sapiens are excluded while most members of the species Pan Bonobo are included.
The idea that we need to condone violent aggression (government) in order to protect us from violent aggression (small-time crooks) is absurd.
The idea that we can free ourselves from violent aggression (government) by using more violent aggression (armed revolution) is equally absurd.
It is not possible to win hearts and minds with bullets. But a nation of free minds cannot be enslaved - not because free minds have the power to destroy, but because they alone have the power to create.
Part of the controversy over IQ comes from confusing IQ with "merit."
Each and every idea or skill acquired by each and every individual should be recognized and appreciated in and of itself. It doesn't matter whether the skill was acquired mostly from inherited aptitude or from hard work. It doesn't matter whether that individual is a genius or jack-of-all-trades with many other skills or somebody who is just good at that one thing. Each and every idea and skill possessed by each and every individual should be individually recognized and appreciated.
Russia probably would have gone broke even without the arms race. A few months before the Great Collapse I read that Russia was in big financial trouble (worse than usual) because they had borrowed too much money for their natural gas pipeline to Europe. They had borrowed much more than the pipeline was worth so, like in the plot of "The Producers," completing the pipeline would leave them bankrupt. Soviet communism had been propped up for 70 year by sales of raw materials to the West, but the props were collapsing.
However I think Reagan (and Thatcher and the Pope) did help bring down the Iron Curtain - with their words. Thatcher visited Poland and gave a significant morale boost to Solidarity (which subsequently triggered the Collapse). Then the Soviets (through the Bulgarians) tried to assassinate the Polish Pope. That must have really pissed off the Poles. And finally, I think Reagan's "Tear down this wall, Mr Gorbachev" echoed and reverberated all over the other side of that wall until the resonance brought it down.
Russians had been in much more dire economic straits during the 1930s. The difference in the 1980s was that words (especially perhaps TV commercials, but also Reagan's Wall speech) were penetrating through the Red Curtain.
My conscious mind has no direct control over my likes and dislikes. Those were determined by heredity and conditioning. However, my individual likes and dislikes usually have no direct control over my muscles. My muscles are controlled by my conscious mind. My conscious mind negotiates deals among my often conflicting likes and dislikes. Then after negotiating a deal for a goal that's approved by the strongest coalition of likes and dislikes, my conscious mind figures out what muscle movements will most effectivelly achieve that goal.
Sometimes my conscious mind might decide to delete one of my likes. For instance, my conscious might realize that my desire for a cigarette conflicts with many of my other likes. So my conscious mind marshals all the motive power of all those other likes and uses them to motivate a plan to destroy my liking for cigarettes - by using conditioning, because I can't simply choose to not like cigarettes. (My conscious mind is much smarter than any individual like, so it can easily manipulate those likes. My cigarette like is too dumb to object to nicotine gum, and it's too dumb to object if I quickly exit the store without buying cigarettes. My individual likes can only see the now, leaving my conscious mind in control of planning my future.)
So my conscious mind is not just a passive epiphenomena. My conscious mind is the boss, although not an all-powerful boss.
[I've never been a cigarette smoker. That just seemed like a convenient example. Less complicated that my actual addition to over-eating.]
The fact that I have a predetermined identity is not inconsistent with free will. I choose to act to achieve the goals that were largely predetermined by heredity and conditioning. But my heredity has been constant throughout my life, whereas throughout my adult life I have had conscious control over much of the conditioning which I have chosen to subject myself to. Also, I've spent much time listening to and reading the thoughts of others and thinking logically about those thoughts. My processing of those thoughts from other people is the main thing which has formed my mind, andd to a large extent I have chosen what I've listened to and read.
Free will does not mean random movement. Free will means thoughfully choosing behavior aimed at achieving my goals - and, to some extent, I have even chosen my goals. I have molded my mind in the image of parts of other peoples' minds. And I act to mold the world in the image of my mind - that is free will.
My mind is made of atoms, but that does not mean that my mind is just a collection of atoms, any more than a cathedral is just a pile of bricks. At each successive layer of organization, matter incorporates new information and new principles. That new information cannot be predicted from the information at lower levels, except by actually building the higher levels. The only way atoms can explain a mind is by assembling those atoms into a mind.
I'm not sure about the exact correspondence of my mind with my brain. Is my cerebellum part of my mind? What about my memory of what I had for breakfast this morning? I don't think I'll miss that after I finish forgettng it. On the other hand, I've been working on a book/website about Hamlet for 20 years. If tomorrow I have a stroke that wipes out all my memories about Hamlet, then (from my current pre-stroke perspective) that website residing on a computer who-knows-where will be seem to be more a continuation of my current mind that that Hamletless post-stroke brain.
Life would be very boring if we were not capable of surprising ourselves.
Anarcho-capitalism really means MORE law and order rather than less. Under anarcho-capitalism, the laws would apply to everybody, including those calling themselves governments. "Tax-collectors" would be prosecuted for theft. Soldiers who kill "collateral casualties" would be prosecuted for murder. Government officials who imprison people for victimless crimes would be prosecuted for kidnapping.
The past does not exist except in the records that exist in the present (here-and-now) chunk (big enough for a mind and some natural records) of space-time - and those records are subject to interpretation. "True" history is an ordering of the records in a sequence which minimizes the needed input of "new" information from outside the space of the system at each past moment (as recorded).
Degrees of Separation from Bacon
In this essay I'm going to confront The Great Tempter - bacon. "More vegetarians have fallen off the fence smelling bacon than anything else." . But people smell good too. "Burning muscle tissue gives off an aroma similar to beef in a frying pan, and body fat smells like a side of fatty pork on the grill." 
So should we all revert to cannibalism? Hunger is strongly connected to the survival instinct. When we are hungry enough, we will do what we have to do to survive.
As part of our "survival" training in U.S. Army Basic Training, we had to kill a rabbit with our bare hands, then cook it and eat it. No doubt a few soldiers have been stranded in the wilderness and actually needed to kill a rabbit to survive. But how many more have been in combat situations where they had to kill a human being to survive? We knew what we were being trained for.
It doesn't really bother me that soldiers are trained to kill. Soldiers don't cause wars. Wars are caused by all the good people back home who send those soldiers into wars. Civilians don't need to be trained to kill with bullets - they just need to be trained to not think too much about the far-off killing triggered by their ballots.
So how do you train citizens to not think about the killings that they commission with their votes? Not by making them kill their own rabbits or pigs. You let them commission others to do that for them. How many people would eat bacon if they had to personally butcher the hog?
Pigs are intelligent and make lovable pets.
About 97 million years ago there was a particular mother who loved all her offspring equally. You are one of the descendants of that loving mother. The bacon you had for breakfast came from another. 
We have the power to slaughter pigs, and they taste good. But is that reason enough to eat them?
If this essay has made you hungry, go ahead, drive to the nearest McDonald's and order a couple big juicy bacon cheeseburgers. Then after you've eaten the last bite and satisfied your hunger, think about what you've done and what you might do.
(Week 2, Lecture 4, 5:25, Dr Raymond St Leger, University of Maryland, Coursera class "Genes and the Human Condition (From Behavior to Biotechnology)
("Bar-B-You, What's the smell of burning human flesh? by Michelle Tsai, Slate, March 26, 2007).
Time Tree, the Timescale of Life, www.timetree.org/
Ask a fluoridation opponent what level of fluoride he wants in his water. I bet almost none of them have a specific number in mind, other than zero. If they want zero, then they're really asking the water company to remove the naturally occurring fluoride from water.
The EPA recommends defluoridation when the naturally occurring levels are higher than 2.0 parts per million. Levels higher than that "may cause cosmetic effects (such as skin or tooth discoloration) or aesthetic effects (such as taste, odor, or color) in drinking water." http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/fluoride.cfm
Optimal fluoride levels recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for warmer climates to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates to account for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates." http://thyroid.about.com/library/articles/blfluoridefinder.htm
About 200,000 Americans have drinking water with fluoride concentrations at or above the EPA's limit, and 1.4 million have water with levels between 2 and 3.9 ppm, including parts of Colorado, West Texas, New Mexico, Indiana and Illinois. No Californians have tap water with fluoride that approaches the amount the scientific panel found unsafe, because state regulations limit the concentration to 2 ppm.
. . . .
About two-thirds of Americans, or 162 million people, drink from fluoridated water supplies, which contain a fluoride concentration of about 1 ppm, much less than the amount the panel found had adverse health effects.
The key to success - learn to be passive-non-aggressive.
You can manipulate people, turning enemies into friends. Every human being is a potential valuable ally. Look for common ground and for trade opportunities. Interact on the common ground, avoid interaction and confrontation in areas where they would like to initiate force against you. And sometimes the best strategy is flight.
I'm not preaching at you here. I'm groping in the darkness, searching for a path to a better life. Any practical guidance would be much appreciated.
My government-issued birth certificate certifies that I am a human being, endowed by my government with certain irrevocable debts.
Big Brother has had his hands around our throats ever since he took over all the rights of way. Roads could be built by private companies (without using eminent domain), but by controlling the roads the State controls all our travel - the roads have become the walls of our prison.
I see way too much over-emphasis on evolutionary psychology. We inherit tendencies, but human behavior is mostly a product of human minds, which are mainly a product of thoughts, our own thoughts and the thoughts of those people we choose to listen to and read. Human society is undergoing rapid mental evolution, favoring the survival of those thoughts that fit most closely with the true nature of the world. Our inherited tendencies are just a small part of that reality.
Civilization is the art of getting along with people you don't like, in other words, trading with your enemies. (My comment, inspired by Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist.)
I am opposed to all forms of censorship, including consumer boycotts.
However, I will not praise any music that encourages drug use, no matter what the "artistic merit" of that music. Poison should not be praised just because it tastes good.
Yes, some drugs are worse than others. But the best of them (probably pot, which is less harmful than alcohol) still degrades the function of human minds. The human mind is a wonderful thing, the ultimate achievement (so far) of evolution (and/or God, if you prefer). But it's not perfect and it's fragile. Some random chemical has maybe one chance in a trillion trillion of improving on the human mind but an overwhelming probability of harming it.
I believe every idiot should have the right to destroy his own mind with the poison of his choice, but I will not praise him for that behavior, nor encourage the next generation to follow him into the gutter
I think everybody is "entitled" to whatever they can get without using force or fraud, whether they're welfare recipients or billionaires.
But what do people DESERVE? The vast majority of the world's wealth consists of our common heritage of all the useful knowledge accumulated by past generations. If all the "stuff" in the world disappeared, that common heritage of knowledge could be used to rebuild everything in 2 or 3 generations. But if all the knowledge disappeared, leaving just the "stuff", the "stuff" would fall apart in a couple generations and it would take thousands of years to regain the lost knowledge to rebuild the stuff.
So everybody deserves a generous share of the wealth built from our common heritage of knowledge. But any redistribution should only be done non-violently, without force or fraud.
Ben Franklin never patented his inventions; in his autobiography he wrote, "... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."
American Indians did not morally own all the land in North America. They only owned those parts they had improved upon - their villages and farmlands. The fallacy that Indians owned all the land in America is the same fallacy that anti-immigrant bigots use to say that Mexican immigrants are "trespassing on America" even when those immigrants are on private property by the invitation of the owner of that property (a landlord or employer).
In general, the market value of a piece of land is derived from the opportunities for peaceful trade with the neighbors around that piece of land. But the value of a piece of land to a government is derived from the opportunity for that government to enslave the people living on that piece of land.
When I was about 5, I traded my new dump truck for another kid's toy pistol. My parents spanked me for that. Was that supposed to be a lesson in non-violence? (Doesn't matter. I'm still a trader at heart.)
No matter how privileged or oppressed a person is, if he hasn't learned to love himself for good rational reasons, he will grasp at any excuse to hate other people for irrational reasons.
What are good rational reasons for loving oneself?
(1) Being a mammal. That's a pretty wonderful thing. The essence of it is motherly love. Your mother loved you, so if you love your mother you should love yourself.
(2) Being a human. We ARE the center of the universe. Without us (and any other sentient creatures) all the beauty of the world would be wasted, with nobody to appreciate it.
There are myriad other reasons for loving oneself but being a mammal and being human are sufficient in themselves. Then look around at all the other mammals and humans.
I "came out" as an atheist to the U.S. Army, so they stamped "No Preference" on my dog tags. The drill sergeants used to call me "No Preference." That's OK - it was better than some of the other things they called me.
But "No Preference" was a lie. The purpose of stamping religion on dog tags was to specify what the Army should do with your corpse after they got you killed - Catholic burial, Jewish burial, etc. But I did have a very strong preference - I preferred for the Army not to get me killed.
Lack of empathy comes from low self-esteem.
Some people don't dare imagine themselves in somebody else's shoes. Their own $300 shoes are all they have to be proud of.
Somebody in the forum for the Coursera Epidemics class said, "Population control brings many benefits." Here is my response:
Population (people) brings many benefits, including the unprecedented wealth and security currently enjoyed by hundred of millions (if not yet billions) of people.
The more people the better, not just in some kind of spiritual sense, but in hard economic reality. People (specifically the minds of people) are the source of all wealth.
As has been pointed out in this class, we are now much less likely to die of infectious diseases than ever before. This is true even in most developing countries, which is one of the main reasons why the population has increased so much. Increased population does not cause poverty - it cures it. More people means more doctors and scientists and all the billions of creative people who interact with them and amplify their achievements.
Aside from oppressive governments, the main cause of poverty in third world countries is not "overpopulation" (which is the CURE for poverty) - it's disease. Disease makes people less productive and it kills people (which makes them totally unproductive).
More people means more brains to find more and better ways to fight disease. There are more people alive today than all the people who lived between 1500 and 1900. Think about all the great advances achieved by the humans who lived during those 4 centuries. We have that much brain power (plus all the knowledge we inherited from them) living and creating RIGHT NOW. The future of humanity is brighter than ever precisely because there are so many of us.
The only "overpopulation" that's really a problem is the overpopulation of graveyards. But that's OK with the eco-freaks - dead people are biodegradable.
It bothers me when people agree with me for the wrong reasons.
"Only God can change the climate" is not a valid argument against global warming hysteria. I am confident that some day humans will be able to change the climate, and maybe we already have. But we need evidence:
"They will scarcely believe this without trial: offer them instances."
- Much Ado About Nothing
"Obama is a bad president because he isn't a citizen" is a not a valid argument against his bad policies (let alone his few good policies, such as maybe being less evil than the Republicans on war, immigration, and drugs).
"Corporations are bad because they are greedy" is not a valid argument against crony capitalism.
"Abortions should be legal because a fetus in just a lump of tissue" is bad biology. A fetus is an organism, not just a tissue. I would not force a woman to donate her womb to her unborn fetus for the same reason that I wouldn't force a woman to donate her kidney to her 10-year-old daughter - it's her body, not her children's, not mine, and certainly not the government's.
A speech by Camille Paglia:
"Itís a Manís World, and It Always Will Be
The modern economy is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role ó but women were not its author"
My response to Camille Paglia's speech:
Until recently there was a huge amount of discrimination against women. How many female geniuses like Emma Noether failed to break the chains of oppression?
But the oppression of women was not caused by "the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period."
Agriculture brought more wealth which brought more parasites - rats eating the grain and governments collecting taxes. The "might makes right" philosophy of government pervaded society so that the physically weakest members, women, were oppressed by Big Brother and by Our Father, the Almighty Lord.
Part of the theory of evolution is based on mathematics and deductive logic. In a system with random variations which are inherited, in an environment where only some individuals survive long enough to reproduce, then natural selection will lead to the evolution of entities better adapted to survive and reproduce in that environment.
Is that the whole explanation of the history of life? No more than quantum mechanics is the whole explanation of the history of the United States. There is a a lot more to the history of life. Evolution was accelerated by the invention of sex (and before that by promiscuous inter-species swapping of genes among one-celled organisms). Life has evolved a bunch of tricks like sex which scientists are only beginning to understand. (I'm visualizing Cary Grant wearing horn-rim glasses and a white lab coat and looking with bafflement at Marilyn Monroe - "Monkey Business" 1952)
There is a real need in the world for "hug therapy." The only reason there isn't a booming "hug therapy" industry is the oppressive threat from prostitution laws.
People have been brainwashed into trying to draw a sharp artificial line between hugs and sex. There is no need for that division because sex should not be shameful.
Go hug somebody and enjoy the full sensuality of it, without prudishness or homophobia or any other bugaboo. Enjoying the sensuous feel of another human's body does not inevitably require exchange of body fluids - you won't catch an STD from it.
What the world needs now is love sweet love.
I believe that I am right.
You believe that you are right.
Therefore we surely must fight,
So that then might will make right
I don't like your lifesytle,
And mine you do revile,
Must we then a war start,
Or can we shake hands and part?
"They hate us for our freedom."
It depends on the "they" and on the "us."
Anybody, whether a Muslim terrorist or an American jingoist, who wants to murder innocents just hates, period. But there are also people who hate not "us" but "U.S.", because the U.S. has rained murder on their friends and relatives.
ID cards are like sheep dogs. A sheep dog might occasionally scare off a wolf, but his main job is to keep the sheep in line.
How to travel to another universe:
Most physicists who subscribe to the multi-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics say that physically moving between different worlds is effectively impossible (super improbable) except for isolated sub-atomic events (before quantum decoherence). (And I think the interference of light waves is also an interaction between different universes, on a limited scale.)
But each and every human is a world in herself (or himself). The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each connected to up to 10,000 other neurons. The number of potential configurations of neurons in a single human brain far exceeds the number of sub-atomic particles in this universe.
That makes me wonder about the nature of reality. Is my imagination a sub-set of the physical world? Or is the physical world a sub-set of my imagination (and of other people's imaginations)?
I wonder if our minds aren't free to roam all over the multi-verse, even if our bodies, our senses, and our brains are pinned to just one physical universe.
Want to open a portal to another world? Just open a book. Or start a conversation with a fellow human.
All the different parts of the physical universe are connected. But connected how? Each particle floats along in perfect isolation, totally unaware of its relationships with every other particle. Those relationships are a property, not of individual particles, but of the whole collection. And even the whole collection of all the particles in the physical universe does not have an embodiment of its own internal inter-relationships - except within sentient minds, "whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
mirror up to nature".
One of the biggest mental blocks for socialists and for almost everybody is that they've been trained to identify with the State. When a State-trained person thinks about the State controlling everything, he has the illusion that he himself is in control, even when he is most controlled.
".... hold, as 'twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure."
A broken mirror is a pile of deadly weapons
One night when I was hiking in the desert I heard a snake rattle about 10 feet in front of me. I didn't shout at it or throw rocks at it. I didn't "stand my ground." I just quietly and slowly backed up and took another trail.
Don't argue with mindless beasts. Don't pit yourself in battle against their envenomed fangs. Just take another path.
Do not follow the tiger into oblivion. Learn from the rat.
In general, mind tools are more effective than guns, which are the tools of mindless thugs. If you use your mind effectively you can probably avoid any situation where guns are your only option.
The following is exceprted from Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky:
"Uh, Sis, what sort of gun should I carry?"
"Huh? Why the deuce do you want a gun?"
"Why, for what I might run into, of course. Wild animals and things. Deacon Matson practically said that we could expect dangerous animals."
"I doubt if he advised you to carry a gun. From his teputation, Dr. Matson is a practical man. See here, infant, on this tour you are the rabbit, trying to escape the fox. You aren't the fox."
"What do you mean?"
"Your only purpose is to stay alive. Not to be brave, not to fight, not to dominate the wilds- but just stay breathing. One time in a hundred a gnn might save your life; the other ninety-nine it will just tempt you into folly. . . . .
. . .
That test area is going to be crawling with trigger-happy young squirts. If one shoots you, it won't matter that you have a gun, too- because you will be dead. But if you carry a gun, it makes you feel cocky; you won't take proper cover. If you don't have one, then you'll know that you are the rabbit. You'll be careful."
"Did you take a gun on your solo test?"
"I did. And I lost it the first day. Which saved my life."
"Because when I was caught without one I ran away from a Bessmer's griffin instead of trying to shoot it.
. . . .
the thing about the griffin is that it does not really have vital organs. Its nervous system is decentralized, even its assimilation system. To kill it quickly you would have to grind it into hamburger. Shooting merely tickles it. But not know that; if I had had my gun I would have found out the hard way. As it was, it treed me for three days, which did my figure good and gave me time to think over the philosophy, ethics, and pragmatics of self-preservation."
Rod did not argue, but he still had a conviction that a gun was a handy thing to have around. It made him feel good, taller, stronger and more confident, to have one slapping against his thigh. He didn't have to use it- not unless he just had to. And he knew enough to take cover; nobody in the class could do a silent sneak the way he could. While Sis was a good soldier, still she didn't know everything and-
But Sis was still talking. "I know how good a gun feels. It makes you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, three meters tall and covered with hair. You're ready for anything and kind of hoping you'll find it. Which is exactly what is dangerous about it-because you aren't anything of the sort. You are a feeble, hairless embryo, remarkably easy to kill. You could carry an assault gun with two thousand meters precision range and isotope charges that will blow up a hill, but you still would not have eyes in the back of your head like a janus bird, nor be able to see in the dark like the Thetis pygmies. Death can cuddle up behind you while you are drawing a bead on something in front."
"But, Sis, your own company carries guns.
"Guns, radar, bombs, black scopes, gas, warpers, and some things which we light-heartedly hope are secret. What of it? You aren't going to storm a city. Buddy, sometimes I send a girl out on an infiltration patrol, object: information-go out, find out, come back alive. How do you suppose I equip her?"
"Never mind. In the first place I don't pick an eager young recruit; I send some unkillable old-timer. She peels down to her underwear, darkens her skin if it is not dark, and goes out bare-handed and bare-footed, without so much as a fly swatter. I have yet to lose a scout that way. Helpless and unprotected you do grow eye's in the back of your head, and your nerve ends reach out and feel everything around you. I learned that when I was a brash young j.o., from a salty trooper old enough to be my mother."
Impressed, Rod said slowly, "Deacon Matson told us he would make us take this test bare-handed, if he could."
"Dr. Matson is a man of sense.
Why do so many libertarians think that guns are the answer to State oppression? Isn't libertarianism all about the power of non-coercive cooperation? Our power is the power to create. We should use our creative power rather than try to emulate the State's model of destructive power.
It is not immoral to retaliate to force with force, however it is usually unwise. A reliance on guns distracts people from using their minds.
It saddens me to see so many great libertarian minds wasting their most effective ammunition (words) trying to protect their least effective ammunition (bullets).
They say the Second Amendment is necessary to defend the First Amendment. But that's not true. Guns have been used to fight an unending series of wars, justified in part with slogans about "defending freedom." But the only thing that has really defended free speech is speech itself.
The Sovet Union was not overthrown with guns, it was overthrown with words
Everybody likes to make fun of the duck-and-cover drills of the 50s. The idea that hiding under a desk was an effective defense against nuclear war was silly, but not nearly as crazy as MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction).
But it worked, right?
No, it didn't work. Thousands of children were murdered by atomic bombs.
And now the government that murdered those thousands of children is the undisputed winner of the arms race. The only reason it hasn't used atomic bombs to murder more children is that it has plenty of chemical bombs that can murder the kids without spoiling the real estate.
Balance of power: A drunk trying to walk a straight line with a bottle of nitroglycerin in each hand.
Perhaps the main evolutionary advantage of our large and complex brains is their usefulness for choosing optimum social behavior in order to persuade other people to help us achieve our goals.
In other words, morality is the main reason for reason - reasoning about morality has survival value, even more than reasoning about making fire or inventing wheels.
Just because we are not conscious of all the past thought that went into forming our gut feelings doesn't mean that those feelings were not originally the product of deep thought.
"There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." - Hamlet
Guns are the tools of thugs. So of course governments (the alpha thugs) will always have guns. But not me. I'm smarter than that.
The main thing that impressed me about Machiavelli's The Prince was that it was addressed to a prince. That's when I realized that most moral philosophy is just advice for princes. It's basically a set of rules for managing slaves.
The saddest part is that those slaves are taught to identify with their rulers. They are taught that morality consists of choosing the best rules for the prince (or government or democracy or society or God) to manage his slaves.
But you are not a prince or government or democracy or society or God. You are one unique individual with your own unique set of basic values. Only you can determine your own actions, and if you decide your actions based on the values of God, government, or society instead of on your own values, then you are making a logical and self-destructive error.
Your own values may well include empathy for others - there's nothing wrong with that if it's what you really feel, rather than what you've been told that you're supposed to feel.
Acting on your own values doesn't mean that you will become a monster and a social pariah - that would not be in your best interests, therefore you act in such a way that other people will want to cooperate with you.
If other people violate your moral code, you do not have the power to strike them with lightning bolts nor to put them in cages. Instead you have the power to simply dissociate from them.
To some extent, genes will evolve toward behavior that favors kinship groups, but what about strangers?
And how much information can be stored in genes?
Perhaps the main evolutionary advantage of our large and complex brains is their usefulness for choosing optimum social behavior in order to persuade other people to help us achieve our goals.
One of the products of human brains is the invention of trade. For most of human prehistory, the main interaction between groups of humans was warfare. But then, maybe about 50,000 years ago, some groups learned that free trade was more profitable than war. Civilization is the art of getting along with people you don't like, in other words, trading with your enemies.
In the modern world, people are very dependent on "the kindness of strangers" (or at least their self-interest), and that dependence has made us wealthier than any previous generation.
I have 6 problems with global warming hysteria:
(1) It's dogmatic and anti-scientific - "the science is settled."
(2) I believe the uncertainty of temperature predictions is vastly underestimated.
(3) The models have yet to pass the test of making accurate predictions of the future.
(4) The predictions of future catastrophic effects of warming are much, much more speculative than even the quantitative predictions of increased temperatures.
(5) The proposed remedies (such as carbon taxes) are unworkable (China will never agree to be carbon-taxed), unfair (the main increase of CO2 will come from developing countries - should they remain in poverty to prevent warming?), and inefficient (the cost of adaptation is likely to be much less than the cost of prevention, especially when you properly discount future costs).
(6) Various groups and individuals are trying to use global warming as an excuse to get a stranglehold on the productivity of everybody in the world.
I made my living for 30 years from algebra (computer programming). But I learned algebra in spite of the horrible school system that tried to prevent me from learning.
My family moved from the San Diego area to Long Beach about a month after I started 8th grade. In San Diego my math class had been studying permutations and combinations (extremely foundational for just about everything). But after that move, I had to self-educate myself on permutations and combinations and the binomial theorem. (I did encounter the binomial theorem again in 12th grade math. The teacher took a week deriving a complicated, non-intuitive proof which at the end of the week failed because he had made an error somewhere in his long string of boring manipulations. Fortunately I had already independently learned the simple and beautiful proof using combinations.)
Anyway, back to 8th grade. Cecil B. Demille Junior High School (DAMN THEM TO HELL!) didn't bother to call up my old school to ask about my previous math class. They just saw that it was not algebra so they stuck me in a class that spent a whole year covering nothing at all but the mechanics of decimal arithmetic (during the rare intervals when the teacher was not arguing with 3 or 4 disruptive students.) I was finally allowed to take algebra the next year.
When I was finally allowed into algebra class, I grabbed all the knowledge I could as fiercely as I had learned to read in the first grade (when my first-grade teacher had arbitrarily stuck me in the 3rd of the class that would be taught last - I illicitly watched her writing letters on the blackboard when I was supposed to be idly coloring pictures, within the lines).
My 9th-grade algebra teacher, Miss Wachi, was a good teacher who was even angrier at the administration than I was. She encouraged me to join the Math Club. At first I was enthusiastic about the Math Club. Their main activity was preparation for the interscholastic math contest. But then the administration ruled that I wouldn't be allowed to participate in the contest because it was an algebra contest and most of the other participants were 8th graders taking algebra whereas I was a 9th grader so I would have "an unfair advantage."
GOD DAMN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS TO HELL!!!!!
But I will be eternally grateful to a few great teachers, including especially Mr Kozlowski (7th-grade math), Miss Wachi (9th-grade algebra), and Mrs Black (10th-grade English).
"but only the rich will be able to afford it!"
I don't remember when I became a libertarian, but I remember the exact moment when I realized that most other people weren't. It was in 8th-grade social studies class (about 1963). I was the only kid in the class who didn't want to outlaw cable TV. They accused me of being "rich" (which I definitely was not).
The thing that must be protected in science classes is not the "belief in" evolution. What must be protected is the scientific attitude that everything must be questioned. The theory of evolution is one of the greatest achievements of that relentless questioning.
If Creationists want to bring their ideas into science classes to be subjected to that same kind of intense questioning, they should be welcomed. And their questions about evolution should also be welcomed.
In 1986 I went to a convention organized by somebody calling herself "Dagny Taggart." In the brochure she explained that, in order to save money, she was holding a combined anti-tax convention for two "similar" types of people: libertarians and "Patriots." There were several speakers on the topic of "How I would live my life in my ideal society."
Samuel Konkin III was a scheduled speaker but at the last minute, without permission from Dagny, he gave his speaking slot to a young communist revolutionary. The "Patriots" were outraged. They crossed their arms and grumbled and growled and some walked out. But the libertarians were delighted. They were on the edges of their seats throughout the communist's speech. As soon as the communist's speech ended, all the libertarian hands shot up. But it only took one eager but polite question to tear the communist to shreds: "Suppose you had your ideal commune and down the road we had our ideal libertarian town. Suppose that, starting with equal resources, after 20 years we were much wealthier than you? What would you do?" He answered that he would come and take our excess wealth, prompting howls of laughter from the libertarians. Q.E.D.
(It was also interesting to see the libertarian-vs-Patriot reactions to Norma Jean Almodovar, Libertarian candidate for California Lt Governor, who described how, in an ideal libertarian society, she would run her bordello).
I think Creationists are looking for God at the wrong end of time.
Despite the Second Law of Thermodynamics (or maybe, in part, because of it), parts of the Universe are evolving toward ever-increasing complexity.
The Big Bang at the beginning was boring compared to the Singularity yet to come.
A vast hive mind where each person maintains full individuality but with instant access to the accumulated knowledge of all.
That used to be science fiction.
Humans weren't meant to live in places where we will die if we stay outside a single night without clothes. But we've always been rule breakers.
Refuting the "Completed Infinity" Oxymoron.
If you can't get there from here, then "there" is nowhere.
Unlimited Action versus Infinite Stagnation
At 0.999.... Royal Road there sits an enormous structure known
as Hilbertís Completely Infinite Hotel. Across the street, at 1
Royal Road there is a small building known as Gaussís Motel
Hilbertís Completely Infinite Hotel has infinitely many rooms, each of
them occupied. Nevertheless there is a vacancy sign outside the
infinitely spacious lobby. Gaussís motel consists of just a small
lobby and a single motel room. Gaussís is currently full, with one
guest in its one room, but it also displays a vacancy sign.
A new guest attempts to check into Hilbertís hotel. The clerk says,
ďNo problem. Just go to room 1 and tell the guest there to shift over
to room 2 and to tell that guest to shift over one room and pass the
same message along.Ē As a result, the new guest is soon comfortably
situated in room 1, however there is a never-ending wave of temporary
double occupancy as one guest after another has to move in temporarily
with his neighbor down the line. Hilbert has to hire an additional
clerk just to work full-time at answering the unending sequence of
calls from guests complaining about this situation. Moreover, every
time a new guest checks in, Hilbert has to hire a new full-time clerk
to answer the complaint calls generated by the new unending wave of
But after a few months, the complaint calls at Hilbertís Hotel
start to die down. Hilbert is pleased but puzzled. He sends the
house detective, Sam Cantori out to investigate. After an infinite
interval, Cantori returns with disturbing news. Hilbertís room
service is contracted out to a company called Room Service
Unlimited. Room Service Unlimited promises to deliver meals to any
finite number of rooms in less than any finite amount of time.
However, since Hilbertís hotel has infinitely many guests in
infinitely many rooms, and only a finite number have been fed,
infinitely many have starved to death. (Infinitely many couldnít even
complete their calls to room service, because they had to give their
room numbers and it takes forever to say an infinite room number.) So
Hilbert cancels his contract with Room Service Unlimited, and replaces
them with Completely Instantaneous Room Service, which instantaneously
clears out the infinite corpses and replaces them with live, well-fed
Completely Instantaneous Room Service offers another valuable
service. Whenever a new guest checks into the hotel, all the previous
guests are instantaneously shifted up to the next higher room number.
The complaint calls stop...for a while. Then infinitely many
disgruntled and panicked guests start checking out. They have figured
out that an instantaneous room shift amounts to a discontinuity in
their lifelines. In other words, with each shift, the entire hotel
and all of its guest are destroyed, then a whole new hotel with new
guests is defined into existence. The new guests are identical to
the old guests except for that discontinuous shift in room numbers,
which makes them different people. Theyíre grateful to Hilbert for
creating them, but they donít want to hang around to be destroyed as
soon as the next guest checks in. Nevertheless, Hilbert stays in
business, because thereís a sucker born every instant.
Meantime, Gaussís Motel Rooms Unlimited is doing a thriving
business. Mr. Gauss has a contract with Room Builders Unlimited.
The contract specifies that Room Builders Unlimited will add new rooms
to Gaussís motel at any finite rate that he requests, and he can
change the rate of building to any other finite rate at any time.
And of course Gauss also has a contract with Room Service Unlimited.
Whenever a new guest checks into Gaussís, Room Builders builds him a
new room and Room Service speeds up so that all guests still get their
meals delivered promptly.
However, Gauss does have to turn away one class of potential
guests. Occasionally, a party of infinitely many guests tries to
check in. Mr. Gauss just points to the sign behind the lobby desk:
ďWe reserve the right to deny service to completed infinities.Ē Then
he sends them across the street to Hilbertís hotel, where they all
pile into the infinitely large lobby.
Mr. Hilbert welcomes infinite groups. To make room for them, he
simply has Instantaneous Room Service instantaneously shift each guest
to the room with a number double the old room number. Thus, all the
odd numbered are instantly vacant. Of course, even after putting
infinitely many guests into the odd-numbered rooms, there are still
infinitely many left waiting in the lobby. Infinitely many get tired
of waiting and leave in disgust, but infinitely many are still there,
waiting forever with infinite patience.
Proof that irrational numbers do not exist.
A common definition of an irrational number is a number whose decimal representation goes on forever without ever repeating. But I will prove that every decimal representation is rational (the ratio of two integers).
(1) The sum of any two rational numbers is a rational number.
P/q + r/s = (ps + qr)/qs which is the ratio of two integers.
(2) To add another decimal place to the decimal representation of any number you add an integer divided by a power of 10. In other words, you add two rational numbers to get another rational number. No matter how many decimal places you add, you still get a rational number.
There are algorithms for generating successive decimal places of "irrational numbers" such as pi. But pi is not a number - it's just an algorithm for generating an unending sequence of rational numbers.
You might object that my proof also rules out rational numbers with repeating decimals, such as 1/3, which is supposedly .3333... However, by choosing an appropriate base, any rational number can be expressed as a non-repeating "decimal". In base 3, 1/3 is just 0.1. But you can't do that with so called "irrational numbers."
All the proofs of the existence of irrational numbers either assume the existence of magical completed infinities or merely prove that there is no rational number having a given property - but that does not prove that there is some other kind of number that does have that property. What does exist is unending sequences of rational numbers approaching some limit that they never reach - you can't get there from here (unless you make up some mystical concept that you call a "completed infinity" and then define that made-up name as a "proof".)
Mathematicians were correctly dealing with "irrational numbers" as just labels for unending sequences until Georg Cantor injected theological superstition into mathematics with the myth of "completed infinities."
A Refutation of Cantor's Diagonalization
Define an unending sequence of binary fractions as follows:
and so on, without end.
Every binary fraction will appear at a well-defined location in this sequence.
Now attempt to apply Cantor's diagonalization to this sequence in order to attempt to define an "irrational number" (a binary fraction which is not included in this sequence). If you diagonalize n binary digits, you just obtain a number which is at a well-defined place on the list. Diagonalization cannot yield a number not in the sequence until the diagonalization extends "beyond the end of this unending sequence" - which is an oxymoron.
But without irrational numbers how can you define the length of the diagonal of a unit square?
All definitions of infinitely precise lengths are conceptually unsound. To truly define the length of the side of a square as "precisely 1", you would have to say it's 1.00000..... - and you would be stuck in a unending loop, never completing your definition.
So you can define the sides and diagonal of your square to any finite precision, but there is no such thing as a completed infinity of precision - that is conceptually impossible.
When you hear an Austrian economist say "all economic values are subjective" you probably interpret "subjective" as the opposite of "objective." Physical scientists deal with "objective" reality, divorced from "subjective" distortions.
"But the social scientist (including the economist) must impute subjective intentions to the objects of his study (i.e., acting human beings)."
Murphy, Robert P. (2010-08-10). Study Guide to Man, Economy, and State (LvMI) (Kindle Locations 110-111). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition.
This is similar to the "subject" of a sentence - that which is acting. To the social scientist, human intentions are not "distortions of objective reality." Humans (the subjects who are acting) are "the objects of his study."
It's unfortunate that Ayn Rand named her philosophy "Objectivism." Rand is at her best when she is most subjective.
Von Mises and Hayek deduced the impossibility of socialist calcuation. So how did the Soviet Union survive for 70 years? By enslaving its population? No. That slavery almost killed them all. There were six causes of Soviet survival.
(1) Lenin backtracked and allowed limited free markets for small businesses and farmers (the NEP, New Economic Plan).
(2) Most business actually got done by the black market, including under-the-table deals within the official socialist structure.
(3) The Soviet Union had a horde of accountants and economists studying and copying prices in the West's free market. Those prices weren't well-adapted to the Soviet environment, but they were still far better than non-existent socialist calculations of prices.
(4) Soviet engineers copied technology which had been developed by Western engineers, who had been financed and motivated by capitalism. (Russia always had great mathematicians and scientists, but their genius went unused without free markets. However Soviet engineers did pioneer some new technology, when it had military applications. Also, in socialist countries there are individual black-market mechanics who are geniuses at make-shift maintenance. Cuba is full of functioning 60-year-old American cars.)
(5) The Soviet Union subsisted mainly by selling raw materials from the West and using the money from those sales to buy manufactured goods and food from the West.
(6) It's possible that the Soviet Union was secretly funded by the American military-industrial complex, to provide an excuse for "defense spending." The American agricultual-government complex also helped prop up the Soviet Union by stealing money (taxing) Americans in order to send wheat to the Soviet Union and raise food prices for Americans.
What caused the final collapse? The Iron Curtain was no longer sound-proof. Soviet subjects looked behind the curtain and saw the Wizard.
Security does not come from being "self-sufficent" and owning a gun. True security comes from being totally interdependent with all 7 billion humans. Those people who embrace that interdependence are the most secure and wealthiest people in all of human history, and they don't need guns.
"I'll get by with a little help from my friends."
"People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."
To make a friend, ask for a favor. But don't be a mooch. It should be implicitly understood that you are trading - you get a favor and your friend gets an implicit obligation to return the favor.
Polonius was wrong. DO be a borrower and a lender, for loan oft makes both a friend and a profit.
The safest, most profitable investments are investments in people. If all the material wealth in the world disappeared overnight, that wealth (and more and better) would be replaced within a few years. But if most of the people (with their knowledge) disappeared, it might take centuries to recover.
Most teenagers masturbate "excessively." But they gotta do what they gotta do. And masturbation might help them avoid STD's and early pregnancies.
For adults, 5 minutes of masturbation can free the mind for several hours of thinking about things other than sex. The same effect could be achieved by castration, but I prefer masturbation.
I was very prejudiced against Mexicans until I was 12 years old. Then I got my first serious crush on a girl I thought was Mexican. By the time I found out she was actually 100% Cherokee it was too late - my anti-Hispanic prejudice was in the dust bin of history.
About 15 years later, a crush on a black woman shattered my anti-Black prejudice. We were both attending a US Army supply class in Oberamergau (Hitler's favorite resort). She was by far the smartest person in the class. Her beauty matched her brains. And her personality - the epitome of grace and dignity (the smoldering sexuality might have been just my imagination).
I think crypto technology should make it possible for companies to have open books, which can be audited at any time by anybody with a PC and an Internet connection. That could be done while still maintaining anonymity for everybody.
It is foolish to invest BitCoins in any company that doesn't have open books. The books should also be distributed, so the records, including encrypted BitCoin ownership codes should be as impossible to erase as a "leaked' sex tape of a celebrity.
Reputations are the true backing for any form of money. Digital money will just be a secure and anonymous means of communicating information about reputations.
The "full faith and credit of the United States Government" is a fraudulent reputation. The United States Government doesn't produce anything so it's reputation is worthless. The government finances itself basically by identity theft. It buys things on your credit, promising that you will pay. It's stealing your reputation. BitCoins are a way to protect your reputation from the government.
The ocean holds vastly more CO2 than the atmosphere. And the ocean has a vastly larger heat capacity than the atmosphere.
Therefore, the temperature and CO2 content of the ocean is NOT determined by the atmosphere. It's the other way around. The ocean determines the atmosphere.
A slight change in average ocean temperature causes a change in solubility of CO2 and therefore a large change in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Therefore, I believe the average temperature of the ocean has increased over the last hundred years, as indicated by the increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
(But that CO2 was added by burning fossil fuel! Yes, but it all would have been soaked up by the ocean if the ocean hadn't warmed.)
What could warm the whole ocean? Not the wispy little atmosphere. It was probably a change in solar radiation. Although it might have been a change in deep magma circulation, warming the ocean from below.
If you've ever interacted with a celebrity, trace the degrees of separation, through relationships documented on wikipedia, from yourself to Thomas Jefferson or to whomever you prefer. (If you believe the Catholic Church, once you connect to a Pope, it's easy to trace back to Jesus.)
A related thought experiment: Imagine a time-machine family reunion with all your maternal-line ancestors. If they were all lined up, I think in a day or so you could walk down the line to your earliest human ancestor. If you kept walking for a few months, you would meet the very first mammal (if she hadn't by then already been devoured by some of her larger meat-eating descendants).
If a government has already conquered it's own people, then a foreign government can conquer that country simply by capturing its government.
But if a government has never succeeded in conquering its own people, then a foreign invader would have to conquer the people one by one, with the added disadvantage of being of fighting in enemy territory.
Life involves the integration of time. Inanimate matter is mostly affected by whatever happened within the last microsecond of its spacetime neighborhood. But every living thing is an integration of billions of years of evolution.
Hard reality is your own existence. Everything else is abstract theory.
Our government loves us for our freedom - the way a vampire loves blood.
If I was going to boycott immoral people I would start by boycotting all my fellow citizens who condone America's mass murders in Germany, Japan, Iraq, etc. And I would boycott everybody who supports the ongoing trampling of the human rights of Mexican immigrants.
But I won't boycott all those people. (I won't even boycott boycotters.) I don't want to live all alone in the desert.
Civilization is the art of getting along with people you don't like, in other words, trading with your enemies.
If I only associated with completely rational people, it would be just me and my cat - and my cat is not too sure about me.
Political contributions are often thinly concealed bribes.
The source of that problem is the power of politicians to extort money by threatening private property and to steal money and redistribute it to the highest bidder.
But I don't want to sacrifice freedom of speech in a vain attempt to make the extortion and theft more "fair."
Elections are often won by whoever buys the most TV ads with meaningless political slogans.
But that is not a problem with free speech. It's a problem with democracy.
When I was a kid I was shocked by the idea of death and I refused to believe that some day I would die.
Now that I'm over half a century closer to dying, it's not so scary anymore. Philosophy truly is a consolation.
I'm getting close enough to foresee my death. It's not a gaping pit. It's just a mirror, reflecting my past. I'm still working on that future past. When I get close enough to see my reflection in that final mirror, I want to see a smile on my face.
Obscenely expensive high-energy particle accelerators are not discovering the fundamental laws of nature. They are only discovering the nature of high-energy particle accelerators.
There are no completed infinities in nature. Nature approximates. When you pump more energy into a system, nature carries out the approximations to more decimal places so weird non-linear events are observed.
But the calculations don't occur at the sub-sub-atomic level. The calculations are an emergent statistical property of the macroscopic measuring instruments.
The Libertarian Party was the worst thing that ever happened to libertarianism. It attracted power-hunger politicians who then recruited mobs of infantile gun-nuts from gun shows.
Libertarianism is all about the Non-Aggression Principle, which most of those Libertarian gun nuts have never heard of, and they disagree with it when do hear about it.
Liberty is the fruit of victory in the battle for hearts and minds, won with words and ideas, not bullets and ballots.
The Libertarian gun-nuts are just small-scale Statists. They all want to control people by pointing guns.
If you treat the Non-Aggression Principle as just an excuse to use violence against people you label as violators of the Non-Aggression Principle, then you are no better than the Statists.
If you believe that it is in each individual's self interest to interact peacefully with other people, then you should also believe that you can persuade potential aggressors of the truth of that idea.
But if you merely respond to violence with more violence, then you have allowed your opponent to convert you to his philosophy of "might makes right."
Both democracy and the Second Amendment are red herrings. Freedom is defended by words and ideas, not ballots and bullets.
I sent an email to Professor Barbara Correll at Cornell University describing my discovery that Hamlet's Gertrude was based on St Gertrude, the patron saint of people with rat phobias. I included the full text of my essay
"Gertrude in the Garden."
Her reply: "You are an idiot. Do not send this garbage."
Professor Correll and Cornell University have earned a place in the history of academic suppression.
Rule #1 Don't lie to yourself.
Following rule #1, you are compelled to admit that the actual basis of all your actions (your moral code) is self-interest.
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Whatever your goals are, the best tools to accomplish those goals are the minds of other people. And the most effective way to obtain the use of other people's minds is through voluntary exchange. Force and fraud only destroy minds and truth, or turn them against you.
Therefore, Rule #1 leads inexorably to the Non-Aggression Principle
Anybody whose behavior is based mostly on instincts would have to be locked up in self-defense.
The human brain evolved mostly for figuring out optimum behavior to interact with other people. The Non-Aggression Principle is way too complex to be encoded in DNA. Most humans deduce some form of the NAP in early childhood. However the actual application of the NAP to specific situations is so complex that we spend our whole lives perfecting that skill, aided by centuries of social evolution.
". . .for there is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Hamlet
To make a truly intelligent computer, you'd have to give it total flexibility, including the top-level of thought - goal-setting. You can't make an intelligent slave.
I believe that every human is born with the potential for bisexuality and rationality (including the Golden Rule). But most people fail to realize their full potential because of repression from governments, parents, teachers, preachers, and peers.
If it wasn't possible for people to grow up to be better than their parents, there would be no good people in the world.
"if they disarm us they will kill the majority of us in months"
I don't think so.
(1) I think they (whoever they are) would have to kill millions of Americans BEFORE they disarmed them.
(2) Most Americans (including those who are heavily armed) have already been conquered by their own government.
(3) Those Americans who are armed with the true idea of freedom can never be conquered, even if they have no guns and the government (like our own) is heavily armed.
"I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do"
- Robert Heinlein in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Tyrants tremble when guns belong to all,
But when all have cellphones, then tyrants fall.
For freedom's slogans, soldiers bled and died,
But for freedom itself, heroes fled and thrived.
Freedom from violent coercion can never be attained by violence.
Thus neither governments nor violent overthrow of governments can give us freedom.
To attain freedom, each of us must take his own freedom by avoiding thugs and communicating with cooperators.
I think the whole theory of antiviral resistance is flawed. Viruses are constantly mutating and always have extreme genetic diversity. Antiviral drugs do wipe out the non-resistant strains, but wiping out the non-resistant strains does not create or increase the prevalence of the resistant strains. Most germs don't compete against each other - they only compete against the immune system.
In fact, using antiviral drugs to wipe out non-resistant strains of viruses should DECREASE the prevalence of resistant strains, because there is no longer a large number of non-resistant virus particles of which some percentage could mutate into resistant strains.
For instance, suppose that initially two patients have only non-resistant strains of a virus.
One patient gets an antiviral drug which wipes out almost all the viruses in his body, except for a very few non-resistant virus particles that survive by luck.
The other patient gets no antiviral drug. He continues to host billions of non-resistant virus particles. Eventually some small percentage of those billions will mutate into thousands (then billions) of resistant virus particles.
I made these comments in the Discussion section of a Coursera class on virology. But nobody "got it", not even the instructors. It's difficult to get people to think outside the box.
But all of the above might apply more to viruses than bacteria. Maybe bacteria do compete directly with each other.
Only a very small percentage of host cells are infected by virus particles. The host would die long before the percentage of infected cells became large enough so that there would be a significant probability of a virus particle encountering a cell that's already infected. Thus viruses don't compete directly with each other.
However, bacteria can be present in large numbers outside the cells, where they can compete for nutrients, poison each other, or mate with each other.
It's difficult for most people to understand that wealth is created when people voluntarily conduct mutually beneficial trade.
But it's all too easy for most people to believe that wealth is created when the government, at the point of a gun, forcibly takes from some people and gives to others.
Empathy makes me immortal.
I am a huge fan of selfishness (and of me). That's why I said "Empathy makes ME immortal" instead of "Empathy makes US immortal." I don't care that much about you, even though you too are immortal because of your empathy.
Despite all logic, I care about other people, even (or especially) fictional people. That's why I have to force myself to read non-fiction books or watch lectures where I learn something useful to me, but I have to resist the urge to spend all my time watching movies and TV shows about characters whom I care about.
So my empathy forces me to imagine all the real people in the world who are just as likable as those fictional characters. And I know that after I die, many of those likeable (even lovable) real people will live on. And I care about that. So in that very real sense, I am immortal, because what happens in the world after I die is important to me, almost as important as what happens to my live physical body tomorrow or the next day.
In ancient times, people believed in magic words. I guess I still do. I believe there are magic words that will make everybody understand and follow the Non-Aggression Principle. I will never stop looking for those magic words.
In 1980, I was on a bus going from San Diego (where I was attending computer programming school) to my parents' home in Desert Center (halfway between Indio and Blythe). The bus was pulled over and boarded by a couple men in black uniforms. They walked slowly down the aisle staring at the passengers, demanding papers from a few.
I had no "papers" with me. At that moment, I realized that, in the eyes of the United States government, in the eyes of those black uniformed authorities, I had no rights, only privileges that were totally dependent on the "proper paperwork."
Compassion, fairness, and practical economics are all good reasons to support open borders. But for me the one over-riding thought is that, as long as the borders are closed, to me America is a prison.
Comment on Susskind's "Why Time Is a One-Way Street":
According to the lecture, most theories lead to "Boltzman's Brain" - an isolated brain created by random fluctuations, which is inconsistent with our world as we perceive it. Random fluctuations of elementary particle motions are more likely to create an isolated "Boltzman's Brain," than to create a complex universe which has gradually evolved intelligent life.
However, it is a fallacy to base the probabilistic calculation on the reductionist assumptions that elementary particles are the fundamental reality from which all else is derived. The actual fundamental reality is our own minds, perceptions, and the words and ideas which we exchange with each other. Given that higher level foundation of inter-related ideas, Baysian probability deduces a long complex history of gradual evolution of inter-related ideas (including genonmes), rather than random fluctuations of elementary particles.
In accordance with general relativity, the space-time of the universe is expanding. Each piece of space-time is expanding at a rate proportional to its size. However, according to the Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics, the expansion of very small pieces of space-time is indeterminate. What are the consequences of that?
I believe that much of what happens in the universe is, from our point of view, absolutely indetermnate because the stars don't send us enough information to effectively limit the possibilities or even the detailed probabilites.
"Prescott and McKay returned to the data and asked if it could be
possible that deprivation of affection imposed during the later formative period (denial of the right to premarital intercourse, for example)contributes to high adult violence despite the presence of high infant affection. An examination of seven societies that did not provide a high level of infant affection and yet had a record of low adult violence all were characterized by freely permitted premarital sexual behavior. Prescott and McKay suggest that the effects of early affectional deprivation might be compensated for by adolescent affectional permissiveness. According to Prescott and McKay, premarital sexual relations may constitute an effective prophylactic against later destructive and violent interpersonal behavior. When both early (infant) and later (adolescent) affectional permissiveness or the lack of it were considered together, it was possible to accurately predict adult interpersonal behavior in forty-seven of the forty-nine societies studied. Prescott and McKay conclude that this data offers some compelling validation for the effects of affectional enrichment or deprivation on human behavior and indicates that a two-stage developmental theory of affectional stimulation, the first in infancy and the second in adolescence,
is necessary to accurately account for the development and expression of peaceful or destructive-violent interpersonal behavior in adulthood." - Floyd M. Martinson in Infant and Child Sexuality - A Sociological Perspective, referring to
Prescott, James W. and Cathy McKay, ďHuman Affection, Violence and Sexuality: A Developmental and Cross-Cultural Perspective,Ē Society for Cross-Cultural Research, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 1973
Shakespeare's Henry V is often quoted to glorify war ("Once more into the breech. . ."). However, I believe Shakespeare was consistently anti-war. Henry V was fighting for his personal greed to acquire more violent coercive power over more people in France. Here is the speech where Shakespeare had him blaming innocent civlians for the atrocities he was threatening:
How yet resolves the governor of the town?
This is the latest parle we will admit;
Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves;
Or like to men proud of destruction
Defy us to our worst: for, as I am a soldier,
A name that in my thoughts becomes me best,
If I begin the battery once again,
I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur
Till in her ashes she lie buried.
The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart,
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass
Your fresh-fair virgins and your flowering infants.
What is it then to me, if impious war,
Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends,
Do, with his smirched complexion, all fell feats
Enlinked to waste and desolation?
What is't to me, when you yourselves are cause,
If your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation?
What rein can hold licentious wickedness
When down the hill he holds his fierce career?
We may as bootless spend our vain command
Upon the enraged soldiers in their spoil
As send precepts to the leviathan
To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
Take pity of your town and of your people,
Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
O'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil and villainy.
If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
Or, guilty in defense, be thus destroyed?
"The fact that the US government killed more Japanese by fire bombings than by atomic bombing, the fact that the US government might have instead of dropping atomic bombs invaded Japan and racked up high casualties, and the fact that the Japanese government committed atrocities like the Rape of Nanking and aggressive war maneuvers like the attack on Pearl Harbor, do nothing at all to justify the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nothing. At. All. These non sequiturs are invoked in the desperate attempt to, in Orwell's words, 'make murder respectable.'
You cannot justify the atomic bombings morally. The attempt to do so pragmatically is a strike against pragmatism, and otherwise wrongheaded. It is a sad spectacle that Americans and others do not want to confront the massive terrorism conducted by the US government in WWII and in other conflicts. Until it becomes an uncontroversial fact that the United States has committed indefensible terrorism and war crimes, I see no hope for a major cultural shift toward peace or freedom. You must entirely renounce the obviously unjust to become a voice for justice, and if you think exterminating a hundred thousand civilians with a push of a button can ever be justified, then you have swallowed ethical collectivism whole, and all the government needs is a good enough sounding excuse and you will sign on to virtually any barbarism."
- Anthony Gregory