On surveillance

Told you so.

Unrelated: I think I’m done here for a while. I don’t know if I’ll return. In fact, I mean not to.

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Schneier of the day (CALEA-II)

It’s beginning to seem like that’s a real thing on this blog.

As the FBI sees it, the problem is that people are moving away from traditional communication systems like telephones onto computer systems like Skype. Eavesdropping on telephones used to be easy. The FBI would call the phone company, which would bring agents into a switching room and allow them to literally tap the wires with a pair of alligator clips and a tape recorder. In the 1990s, the government forced phone companies to provide an analogous capability on digital switches; but today, more and more communications happens over the Internet.

What the FBI wants is the ability to eavesdrop on everything. Depending on the system, this ranges from easy to impossible. E-mail systems like Gmail are easy. The mail resides in Google’s servers, and the company has an office full of people who respond to requests for lawful access to individual accounts from governments all over the world. Encrypted voice systems like Silent Circle are impossible to eavesdrop on—the calls are encrypted from one computer to the other, and there’s no central node to eavesdrop from. In those cases, the only way to make the system eavesdroppable is to add a backdoor to the user software. This is precisely the FBI’s proposal. Companies that refuse to comply would be fined $25,000 a day.


Think of it this way: We don’t hand the government copies of our house keys and safe combinations. If agents want access, they get a warrant and then pick the locks or bust open the doors, just as a criminal would do. A similar system would work on computers. The FBI, with its increasingly non-transparent procedures and systems, has failed to make the case that this isn’t good enough.

Bruce Schneier
The Problems with CALEA-II

This is the essence of evil: These people are patient, hardworking, smart, and they know what they want.

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On the subject of grant money for nonprofits:

I have worked for a variety of non-profits and written grants for them. I’m surprised that there ever was money for operating expenses available for tech-based non-profits since every foundation I’ve petitioned for grant money has specifically said that they do not provide operating costs. Instead, I write grants with a specific project in mind. This could be “build a new wing to the university library”, “Fund staff to inventory the museum collection in storage,” or “run a week-long day camp for inner-city youth that teaches non-violent conflict resolution methods.”

Unless you have some kind of revenue stream, you are going to be relying on donations and volunteers just like a community clothes closet for the homeless. Sounds like now that the gravy train of easy money is drying up these tech non-profits are being forced to demonstrate how they benefit the public good. I’m sure that there are many worthy causes, but now their in the wild competing for the same dollars and mind-share as food pantries, elder advocacy groups, and animal shelters.

Slashdot comment

Replying to my own comment because I thought of another good point.

Non-profit does not mean you can’t make money. In fact, as long as you follow the rules for organization, reporting, etc. you can make money hand over fist. Think about how every private school in the US is able to function and some grow quite fat off of those tuition dollars. If you have a tech-based non-profit that (for example) provides computer programming education to disadvantaged youth, or provides systems and education for the elderly, there’s nothing to stop you from doing consulting, selling spare parts, or charging for other services as long as those proceeds are plowed right back into the organization to feed your key mission.

Too many people think that non-profit means you aren’t a normal business. You are! You simply have convinced the government that it is in the public’s best interest to let you exist free of the burden of taxes.


You know, like the NFL. Kidding aside, that may actually be true because it’s an outlet for the tribal warfare instinct. Having said this, I am now of the opinion that the NBA should operate during the summer instead of the winter for, you know, reasons.

Not QOTD, but honorable mention:

We aren’t at war anymore. You must have missed the president guy’s mouth noises on the subject.


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Coming to a T-shirt near you

Too good not to share, commentary unnecessary.

(Okay, okay, just this: That there’s some hot pussy. What, too easy?)

Roissy should start signing off every post with lozzollzozloz.

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How do you understand God interacting with the world?

Just finished The Irrational Atheist and my head is racing with thoughts. Particularly where he talked about omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. I’ve heard a couple of vague summaries about how God interacts with the world. Vox’s was the most detailed and understandable of the bunch as far as God more sitting back and watching (not exactly, but you get the idea). Omniderigence, was it?

Anyway, I wanted to hear your thoughts about that. How do you understand God interacting with the world?

Zeke Palea

Mm, I don’t think I understand it. I do understand Vox’s explanation, I just don’t have any reason to believe that’s the way it works. Logic gets kinda weird when you’re talking about a being who can create logic itself. Unfortunately, I’ve given this a lot of thought without coming up with a lot of answers. Most likely, I’m limited by my philosophical and theological ignorance. Need to read buku books, but never enough time…

Omniderigence is a voxicon neologism for the belief that God has all three traits: omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. Vox’s idea can be referred to as the “God as video game designer” theory.

Out of laziness, I’ll quote some comments that I’ve written before:

The biblical stance seems to strike a middle ground between God being a casual observer (having just set the place up and letting it run; free will) and being a complete control freak (determining every event in every person’s life; determinism).

We find that there are events that he has predetermined, events that he has for whatever reason decided to allow to pass unchecked, and events that he has not predetermined but interferes in (as was often the case when he was angry with the Israelites).

I would not be the first to say that the common evangelical stance of god being a control freak who has predetermined every second of every person’s life has been extremely damaging to both believers and nonbelievers. This stance is usually justified by quoting Paul: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

First of all, it is important to mention that Paul is a fallible human being, unlike Jesus. Therefore, like much of the Old Testament, we need not take his words to be strictly the words of God. He said as much himself (Rom 7:15-20), which we can take as a complete logical proof (either he is right in saying that he is sometimes wrong or he is wrong in saying that he is wrong). My best guess is it is more correct to view his advice with the same sort of skepticism as Solomon’s (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). I suppose we could do worse than to live up to his standard, but the point remains.


Zeke has suggested a “best-of” series. I’ve finally decided on a method to accomplish this.

I’ve put a lot of thought into the subject, and I still don’t understand it fully.

The subject of free will vs. determination* is incredibly difficult to understand. I believe compatibilism is the only possible explanation that encompasses all phenomena in life and Scripture. However, understanding requires a great deal of reflection. Saturation drives reflection, so off we go into example land.

Divine judgment is taken as biblical fact**. Thus, we can ask what God’s level of involvement was in splitting the Red Sea. Did he split it on the spot with an invisible spatula? Did he send a great wind from across the Indian Ocean that was perfectly formed? Did he decide before time began that a butterfly’s wings would flap in the 15th century B.C., culminating in that strange geological event, never to be seen again? (That Elijah thing was similar in form, but it was a distinctly different geological occurrence.)

I have said for years now that it is a matter of perspective. Even if my divine spatula theory is true, an omniscient God would have known before time began that he was going to use the divine spatula on that day, for that reason. Thus, if God is omniscient with respect to time, the difference is merely God’s preference for using prescience, wind, a spatula, or whatever else an omniscient being can come up with. But is God omniscient***?

I will let the question stand. By the same reasoning by which we induce his existence, we know that he is inscrutable to human reason because he does not necessarily follow the rules of causality. Thus, any answer would be axiomatic at best, and misleading at worst.

In any case, the important question is whether we influence our own fates.

*Determinism’s scope is defined by the knowledge held by us, the only sapient beings we know of. That’s a key point worth explaining in another post. (The natural question is whether we forsake our free will by getting knowledge. I guarantee that’s not a problem for the amount of knowledge we can possess, but I may still return to the topic. In a deterministic world, presumably a theoretical computational machine could know everything.)

**Meaning every word in the Bible is accepted as true and literal. A point of obvious contention, that.

***Another poignant question is whether God can have free will. Ludwig von Mises has a thing or two to say about that, which I’ve quoted here: http://newguy153.xanga.com/736782074/augustine-would-laugh-at-this/. So much in this life to understand and write!


And this summary would be incomplete without the Mises quote:

“Scholastic philosophers and theologians and likewise Theists and Deists of the age of reason conceived an absolute and perfect being, unchangeable, omnipotent, and omniscient, and yet planning and acting aiming at ends and employing means for the attainment of these ends. But action can only be imputed to a discontented being and repeated action only to a being who lacks the power to remove his uneasiness once and for all at one stroke. An acting being is discontented and therefore not almighty. If he were content, he would not act, and if he were almighty, he would have long since radically removed his discontent. For an all-powerful being there is no pressure to choose between various states of uneasiness; he is not under the necessity of acquiescing to the lesser evil. Omnipotence would mean the power to achieve everything ans to enjoy full satisfaction without being restrained by any limitations. But this is incompatible with the very concept of action. For an almighty being the categories ofends and means do not exist. He is above all human comprehension, concepts and understanding. For the almighty being every “means” readers unlimited services, he can apply every “means” for the attainment of any ends, he can achieve any end without the employment of any means. It is beyond the faculties of the human mind to think the concept of almightyness consistently to its ultimate logical consequences. The paradoxes are insoluble. Has the almighty being the power to achieve something which is immune to his later interference? If he has this power then there are limits to his might and he is no longer almighty. If he lacks this power, he is by virtue of this fact alone not almighty.

Are omnipotence and omniscienc compatible? Omniscience presupposes that all future happenings are already unalterably determined. If there is omniscience, omnipotence is inconceivable. Impotence to change anything in the predetermined course of events would restrict the power of any agent.”

Ludwig von Mises
Human Action

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The internet is a wonderful thing, but it’s occasionally hard to fathom how much genuine brilliance slips through the cracks. I think I’m going to start doing highlights of this sort every day so that you can contrast these offhand insights with the diligently, carefully, microscopically crafted putrescence of our popular culture.

Those that study history have no doubt how the ruling elite operate, or the methods they use to control the populace. It is today no different from how it was three thousand years ago. The psychology of those that find themselves ‘in charge’ is an assumption that they are “god’s chosen”. Even today, in the USA, more than 50% of senior US politicians state that ‘god’ has given them their power to rule over others.

Of course, the reality of the so-called ruling elites is one of being prepared to do whatever it takes to keep power, and wherever possible, to grow that power and pass it on to later generations of their same family/group. America, for instance, is on the verge of getting a second Clinton or a third Bush as supreme ruler.

How do you control the masses? How do you keep the mob on a leash? How do you persuade the populace, year after year, to dedicate their lives to enriching and empowering the same tiny minority?

-learn what the mob is thinking, in as close to real-time as possible
-find the best ways to manipulate the opinions of the mob, especially their long term beliefs and aspirations
-ensure the mob only ever hears control messages from the elites that rule them. Ensure the mob is trained to disregard messages from other sources
-give the mob ‘bread and circuses’. Let the mob feel self-empowered by participation in useless trivial events like organised religion, organised team sports, and harmless forms of self expression
-exterminate or co-opt any emerging grass roots movements that could grown and threaten the power bases of the elites.

Only a complete fool would fail to understand where Google fits with the above goals. The dream of computerised intelligence gathering on the general population began before the age of the electronic computer. When ‘electronic brains’ first appeared, the elites were massively disappointed with the end results of unthinkably expensive attempts to use computers to spy on the populace. Perversely, the fiction of powerful computers doing incredible things spread like wild-fire through the consciousness of ordinary people in the 50s and 60s, but as we know the reality was far different.

The original Google project was predicated on the availability of vast amounts of cheap commodity hard-drive storage and processing power. It looked at the NSA desire to spy on the entire Human population from a very different POV. It also took account of the fact that official government IT projects (even when secret) would always fall prey to mega-corruption and complete-incompetence as a consequence. The psychology of successful IT ambitions was being made apparent by the incredible growth of the Internet.

Google gives people useful/entertaining/addicting toys like search, Youtube, Gmail and Android. Each of these toys monitors, and encourages users to provide ever greater amounts of information about themselves to monitor.

Google also provides the infrastructure (hardware and software models) that are used by the intelligence agencies of the ‘West’ to store and mine the information they gather. These are shadow-Google installations, built and run by people directly employed by intelligence agencies like the NSA, but based on current designs used by Google itself.

Google, as you should know, makes a lot of money from mining its data and using the results for advertising. What few of you realise is that this business is a deliberate side-effect of Google researching and developing mining algorithms for the NSA.

Today, when you vote Republican or Democrat in the USA, you get exactly the same mid/long term policies, and exactly the same program of rolling wars. In the UK, you can vote Labour, Liberal or Conservative, but still experience the exact agenda Tony Blair laid down for the UK when that monster first rose to visible power. The elites don’t even have to bother maintaining even the illusion of a choice, largely thanks to Google.

The people that run Google think that they are superior to you, and therefore their will matters, and you will does not. I hate to tell you this, but the crud that desires to rule over others always has this attitude. And when you do nothing but lay down and accept the abuse, this abusive attitude grows exponentially.

Anonymous Coward
Google = NSA

There is more of the human condition in this comment than in all 57/74/no-man-truly-knoweth-the-number-of books James Patterson has ever written. Well, down the aethertoilet into internet oblivion with you!

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The central question of Christian culture

That verse about turning the other cheek gives Christians a lot of trouble in interpretation. Here’s a unbelieving neonazi’s take on it:

However, what he and other White nationalists regrettably fail to see is that a “Racialist Christianity” is an oxymoron.

Here’s Saint Paul to give the final word on the question (Galatians 3:28): “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In passages like this (not to mention many others throughout the New Testament, specially the several ones where Jesus violently attacks the rich in a way that would have made Karl Marx sound like an elitist) you have the real seeds of the French revolution, Communism and modern Liberalism. For God’s sake, this is avant-garde Egalitarianism writ large!

I wonder what part our “Christian race realist” friends don’t understand in the sentence “There is neither Jew nor Gentile… for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” After all, if we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, how can someone in his own mind argue against racial intermixing, for example?

Matt seems to claim that Medieval Christianity was not afflicted by the modern mainstream Christian attitude towards the racial question. That’s true, but the point is: was it so due to Christianity or in spite of it?

The fact of the matter is that the Christian ethos is so out of touch with reality, so fundamentally impractical that a number of compromises had to be made by the European peoples on which it was imposed over time so it could be rendered minimally functional.

Any society that wished to take suicidal teachings like “Turn the other cheek” or “Resist not Evil” seriously would be enslaved overnight; a society that wished to take at face value teachings preaching that the rich will almost certainly be sentenced to Hell and that one should not worry about tomorrow but rather one should give everything away to the poor—a society that had gone insane enough to implement such ideas would implode almost immediately.

A Response to Parrot

This ought to raise some very important questions in your mind. What it comes down to is this: Do you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God? If you do, you must accept his teaching whether it’s practical or not, because you believe that the consequences in the next life are more important than the consequences in this life.

This pot is ready to boil over in a couple of decades, and a lot of people are going to die. I know you probably just want to leave well enough alone and start a family and a career, but that’s just the way it is. Consider it a luxury that you have time to prepare your soul.

If it’s practical advice you want…I hear that an almost surefire way to survive wars, totalitarianism, and other SHTF scenarios is to be ready to relocate (with caveats for massively destructive weapons and surveillance).

But if it’s Christian advice you want…throw out your commentaries. Jesus was quite clear and requires no commentary to make his teachings compatible with practical living because his teachings were impractical. None of that health and wealth gospel bullshit:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

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The qualitative difference

The Lubinski and Benbow gang have been tracking very bright kids for ages, and the results are clear: being brighter than 99.25 % of the general population, whilst all very well in itself and an almost guaranteed passport to a productive and happy life, doesn’t amount to all that much. Such people have a modest sufficiency of intellect, but no more. For a real impact, you have to be brighter than 99.75% of humanity. Those in the latter category have four times the impact of their less able colleagues. They publish more, have more doctorates, register more patents, and have more impact on their disciplines. How can such a small margin make such a difference? Well, once you are that far out on the right tail of the normal distribution you move quickly from being 1 in 1000 to being 1 in 10,000. Galton referred to those in the last category as having achieved “eminence”. These are “scary bright” minds.

Dr. James Thompson
Give me a very bright child until he is 38 and I will give you civilization

I generally assume people reading my blog are too busy to look this stuff up, so here’s your translation: the 99.25th percentile (1 person in a room of 130) corresponds to an IQ of ~137, whereas the distinct shift in accomplishments occurs around ~142 IQ, the 99.75th percentile (1 person in a room of 400).

…the Triple Nine Society averages 155.16 on the CMT-T, and the average score for Prometheus Society members is 169.95 [1, 2]. The implications are staggering, especially when it is realized that these percentages do not include women, who show more maladjustment at lower CMT-T scores than men do. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why super high IQ societies suffer so much from schisms and a tendency towards disintegration. In any event, one thing is certain. The currently accepted belief that verbal intelligence is unrelated to maladjustment is clearly a myth.

The genius (as regards intellectual ability) not only has an IQ of say 50 points more than the average person, but in virtue of this difference acquires seemingly new aspects (potentialities) or characteristics. These seemingly new aspects or characteristics, in their totality, are what go to make up the “qualitative” difference between them [9, p. 134].

Wechsler is saying quite plainly that those with IQs above 150 are different in kind from those below that level. He is saying that they are a different kind of mind, a different kind of human being.

This subjective impression of a difference in kind also appears to be fairly common among members of the super high IQ societies themselves. When Prometheus and Triple Nine members were asked if they perceived a categorical difference between those above this level and others, most said that they did, although they also said that they were reluctant to call the difference genius. When asked what it should be called, they produced a number of suggestions, sometimes esoteric, sometimes witty, and often remarkably vulgar. But one term was suggested independently again and again. Many thought that the most appropriate term for people like themselves was Outsider.


I wish I had something to contribute to all this except these brief allusions, but with my measly one-in-a-hundred IQ, it is apparently not my lot in life to contribute much :-).

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Two memes worth spreading

This post is dedicated to the forthcoming student loan interest hikes.

The first is “little brother”, or “sousveillance”:

The era of Little Brother was perhaps inaugurated in November, 1963, with the Kodachrome II 8-mm. film of John F. Kennedy’s assassination inadvertently captured by the Dallas clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder. George Holliday’s videotape of the March, 1991, beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, and Scott Prouty’s forty-seven-per-cent video, which arguably cost Mitt Romney the Presidency last year, fall into the same class.

There is a surprisingly rich and dynamic academic literature developing around the concept of “sousveillance,” a term coined by the University of Toronto professor and inventor Steve Mann to describe privately made recordings that can serve as a counterweight to institutional and government surveillance.

Maria Bustillos
Little Brother Is Watching You

I don’t know who coined the term “little brother” [Edit: Cory Doctorow in the eponymous book], but it’s going to become more important as our increasingly centralized government tries to marginalize the people it will eventually persecute directly. (This is an important entry in the evil playbook.) As we’ve seen recently in Florida, authorities do not hesitate to recruit snitches and a majority of the public is open to recruitment. In some demographics, perhaps more of the public are open to snitching on people they don’t like (noisy neighbors, petty competitors at work, etc.)

The second meme is Old Economy Steven, which I learned about from the delightfully hateful Vox Popoli thread on Baby Boomers. Amusingly, he looks exactly like my old pastor, who was known to have engaged in illicit substances once or twice in his day.

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Today is a caffeine holiday

Please leave a message after the beep.

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Why do you believe in edenism?

The most important factor in my belief is that edenism seems to be almost comprehensively descriptive of human society as it is today. Less importantly, it seems to explain the course of human history, insofar as we can independently trust the authoritative reports. It was also less important for me that its predictive power is surprisingly consistent (a la edenic phrenology), although that is obviously an important component of any realistic theory.

I’d compare my conversion to my experience with Austrian economics, Game, and then nationalism. I’d run across some idea that was such a perfect description of reality, and so 180-degrees contrary to what i’ve been brainwashed to believe, that my jaw would drop. Each time, I was absolutely hooked. I’d read and read and read and stay awake thinking, weighing, analyzing, and then get out of bed and read some more.

In the case of edenism, it was this article that set me down this road of esoterica: http://www.koanicsoul.com/blog/2012/07/ … d-winners/

If you’d like, you can read my comments in this thread as I wrestle with a new conceptual model. I’ve never felt so alive: http://voxday.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-i … of-iq.html

Let me say this in closing: as a recovering ingenopath I accept that life isn’t perfect and there are times when lies and deceit are necessary and good. But there is no end to the ways in which it is better to believe in true things than in false things.

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God saw all that he had made, and it was very good

And now we can see it, too.

How cool is this?

The first direct observation of the orbital structure of an excited hydrogen atom has been made by an international team of researchers. The observation was made using a newly developed “quantum microscope”, which uses photoionization microscopy to visualize the structure directly. The team’s demonstration proves that “photoionization microscopy”, which was first proposed more than 30 years ago, can be experimentally realized and can serve as a tool to explore the subtleties of quantum mechanics.

Tushna Commissariat
‘Quantum microscope’ peers into the hydrogen atom

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Armed drones are your friends

I really don’t understand how the supposedly smart people at Slashdot don’t get it. This is immediately following stories of the first man saved by a drone-assisted search party. It’s obvious propaganda that corresponds to conspiracy theories that they supposedly understand and credit with the help of 20/20 hindsight. Dan Drezner said it best:

So, in all, this has been a pretty crappy week for people who dislike conspiracy theories.

Dennis Miller put it more colorfully: “At this rate, Obama is going to admit he was born in Kenya sometime next week.”

The point of this is not “to carry supplies efficiently”. The point is not “to turn a profit”. It’s not “to fly in inclement weather”. It’s not even to assist police chases.

It’s to get us all more comfortable with the idea of an omnipresent government watching from overhead. Occasionally with missles, but hey, it’s only sometimes. And they only really go after bad people who deserve it. People who hurt children! Why oppose that, unless you…you don’t want to help…you don’t want to help the children!? Children who’re being hurt, right now! You’re like Sandy Hook!


Look, we have a president who, in the bright of day, executes citizens with drones without legal repercussions (but they were terrorists!), widespread police adoption of drones explicitly for domestic surveillance (surveillance of criminals!), exabyte NSA internet databases explicitly used to track US citizens (bad citizens and pedophiles and only occasionally whistleblowers to the Associated Press!)…I could go on for hours. This was only supposed to be a two-sentence post.

What the fuck else can you tell these fools to make them believe the government considers them the obstacle?

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Triple bank shot

It’s no mystery that the rapidly coalescing world government wants internet anonymity to go away. Sure, they can get around it, but think of the cost and the manpower involved. And they’ve been known to have trouble with whistleblowers now and again.

Anonymous performed a data dump of hundreds of whistle blowers’ private details in an attempt to show their unhappiness with the SAPS (South African Police Service) for the Marikana shooting. In so doing, the identities of nearly 16,000 South Africans who lodged a complaint with police on their website, provided tip-offs, or reported crimes are now publicly available.

Slashdot summary by fezzzz
Thousands of Whistle Blowers Vulnerable After Anonymous Hacks SAPS

Look, anyone with the capacity to read and occasionally understand this blog can figure this one out without even reading the article. You don’t even need Ilana Mercer’s perspective on the ongoing South African genocide.

The government got the list, dumped it, and blamed Anonymous. Bet you a gazillion dollars. And in return, the police will “disincentivize” those pesky whistleblowers, and they get to play up the outrage against actions taken by “anonymous” internet hackers. See all this violence? It could have been avoided if everyone just had a simple internet identification number that tracked who did what, who said what, who knows whom…And look at all these dead children (that we killed). They’d be alive if it weren’t for internet anonymity! And while we’re at it, turn over your guns. Those kill children.

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Antisurveillance disinformation (SMBC)

Although Zach Weiner doesn’t actually explain the idea, it’s good to reaffirm that gingers think alike. I mean geniuses.

As an aside, I still find it inspiring that a ginger named Weiner can achieve a weird sort of success by drawing cartoons poorly while naked in his basement. You’re living the dream, Zach.

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To iterate, or not to iterate?

H/T Bruce Schneier. Big surprise, I know.

A lot of fundamental social problems can be modeled as a disconnection between people who believe (correctly or incorrectly) that they are playing a non-iterated game (in the game theory sense of the word), and people who believe that (correctly or incorrectly) that they are playing an iterated game.

For instance, mechanisms such as reputation mechanisms, ostracism, shaming, etc., are all predicated on the idea that the person you’re shaming will reappear and have further interactions with the group. Legal punishment is only useful if you can catch the person, and if the cost of the punishment is more than the benefit of the crime.

If it is possible to act as if the game you are playing is a one-shot game (for instance, you have a very large population to hide in, you don’t need to ever interact with people again, or you can be anonymous), your optimal strategies are going to be different than if you will have to play the game many times, and live with the legal or social consequences of your actions. If you can make enough money as CEO to retire immediately, you may choose to do so, even if you’re so terrible at running the company that no one will ever hire you again.

Social cohesion can be thought of as a manifestation of how “iterated” people feel their interactions are, how likely they are to interact with the same people again and again and have to deal with long term consequences of locally optimal choices, or whether they feel they can “opt out” of consequences of interacting with some set of people in a poor way.

Aleatha Parker-Wood
A thought in passing”

Reposted in full, so please click the link so she gets some love.

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Occipital Christianity versus parietal Christianity

I may have been a little hasty when I said this. Certainly wouldn’t want to be hasty. (I may have been reading the Treebeard section in The Two Towers recently.)

Something cannot come from nothing.
Something (the universe) exists.
Therefore, the universe came from “not nothing”.


However, I understand that for most people those three lines are just words. They don’t “see” the picture the words describe. It’s a pity, because many of these unseeing fools count themselves genuine intellectuals.

What has helped you keep your faith over the years?

Koanic explains that the cause is probably hardware incompatibility:

Missing from Jim’s analysis is the void where the religious spirit
resides. It is a curious deficiency that seems to afflict aspies and
occipitals, albeit in different ways. The aspie is militantly atheist;
the occipital simply lacks the capacity to be religious in the same way
as neurotypicals. That is not to say that occipitals cannot be Christian
– look at Tex Arcane. But they will arrive there by very different
paths, and with different meanings, than a melon back such as myself.

The problem has been named. Here is the solution.

My response to his post:

I was thinking this myself. I’ve tried to understand the ontological argument for the existence of God (your mathematical proof link above), but I’ve never been able to grok it. Whereas the cosmological argument is by far the strongest factor in my Christianity (http://viktorisaksen.wordpress…. I figured it out on my own when I was young (maybe 12?), and ever since I’ve had a reason to explain why it always “feels” like God is there, just far away somehow.

Your higher IQ is going to complicate things, but aside from that would you say that the cosmological argument is easy or difficult for you to grok?

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Having been so myself, I pity the naive

So the most recent tax evasion kerfuffle is Apple. Whatever. They’ll eat a PR shit sandwich for a while, get a slap on the wrist, and get back to the business of de facto statehood. Rush Limbaugh actually got this one right (I’ve been doing a little construction with my dad lately): This is probably just part of the game for them. Dog and pony show, part of intricate business with political elites is that you have to pretend you aren’t all on the same team.

He got all of it right except the “probably” part.

Anyway. I keep telling my parents that my sister, a CPA, hides corporate profits for a living. Nonsense, they say. She specializes in “international tax law”, I point out. Not our little girl, they say. She specializes in corporate tax returns, I say. She’s worked hard and you’re just jealous, they say. Well, yes, I suppose so.

But what else does a well-reimbursed CPA, specializing in international corporate tax law, do? For fuck’s sake, she’s been trained by her company in the finer points of dinner etiquette. She just returned from a company-sponsored trip to Thailand, an exemplary tax haven.

What the fuck else do you want?

It’s like normal people use different parts of their brains to think about different things. No wonder they don’t have existential crises (if treating girls like ladies won’t get me laid…what else can I believe that you’ve taught me?). In the same conversation, they can lament the housing bubble and seriously discuss plans to flip houses as if they’ll return to bubble prices. As if the former has no impact on the latter. It’s uncanny.

My dad, in particular, seems to compartmentalize in the extreme, He simultaneously believes everything he hears on Fox and on Infowars. Depending on which he has believed most recently he will tell you that this is the most important election evarr for right-thinking Republicans or that elections are bullshit, respectively. Whereas my mom just doesn’t think about anything that offends her sense of normality.

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No shortage of ways that IQ is like height

Another prominent Sailerism worth noting. Particularly, they are both dependent almost entirely on nutrition and genetics, in that order.

Height used to be a pretty good marker of having enjoyed good nurture (e.g, had plenty to eat as a child). The Tory cabinet of prime minister Lord Salisbury in 1895 averaged six feet at a time when that was about a half foot taller than the average British man. From a female husband-hunting perspective, evidence that a man’s family provided well for him when he was a child is evidence of a lot of good things. There’s no downside to growing up so that you attain close to your genetic maximum of height.

Steve Sailer
Robert Downey Jr.: Short superstar shattering stereotypes

Also, it’s really hard to go pro unless you’re tall or a great ball-handler. Ha!

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Some entertainment suggestions

Work music I just discovered: a Pandora station seeded from A Mercurian Summer. It plays Buckethead, Jeff Loomis, and such. Perfection. Wish it had some of the YouTube artists I follow.

Anime: Warner Brothers is sponsoring a remake of Berserk with remarkably good animation. They’ve probably taken the cell-shading aesthetic as far as it will go. Poor animation was a huge weakness of the original. Unfortunately, they cut a lot of meat along with the fat to get 22 episodes down to 3 hours. Apparently, they’re going to dig deeper into the larger manga.

A couple of other good ones I’ve run into: Speed Grapher, Planet of the Beast King, Avatar (2nd and 3rd seasons).

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