node created 2019/09/29
[In early 2007] there was a new rash of articles and headlines on the front page about the “Chinese military build-up.” The Pentagon claimed that China had increased its offensive military capacity — with 400 missiles, which could be nuclear armed. Then we had a debate about whether that proves China is trying to conquer the world or the numbers are wrong, or something. Just a little footnote. How many offensive nuclear armed missiles does the United States have? Well, it turns out to be 10,000. China may now have maybe 400, if you believe the hawks. That proves that they are trying to conquer the world.

It turns out, if you read the international press closely, that the reason China is building up its military capacity is not only because of U.S. aggressiveness all over the place, but the fact that the United States has improved its targeting capacities so it can now destroy missile sites in a much more sophisticated fashion wherever they are, even if they are mobile. So who is trying to conquer the world? Well, obviously the Chinese because since we own it, they are trying to conquer it. It’s all too easy to continue with this indefinitely. Just pick your topic. It’s a good exercise to try. This simple principle, “we own the world,” is sufficient to explain a lot of the discussion about foreign affairs.
Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
On the bombing of the North, there was meticulous detailed planning. How far should we go? At what rate? What targets? The bombing of the South, at three times the rate and with far more vicious consequences, was unplanned. There's no discussion about it. Why? Very simple. The bombing of the North might cause us problems. When we started bombing the North, we were bombing, for example, Chinese railroads, which happened to go right through North Vietnam. We were going to hit Russian ships, as they did. And there could be a reaction somewhere in the world that might harm us. So therefore that you have to plan for. But massacring people in South Vietnam, nothing. B-52 bombing of the Mekong Delta, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, destroying hospitals and dams, nobody's going to bother us about that. So that doesn't require any planning or evaluation.
[..]

The horseman serves the horse,
The neatherd serves the neat,
The merchant serves the purse, 
The eater serves his meat;
'T is the day of the chattel,
Web to weave, and corn to grind;
Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind.

There are two laws discrete,
Not reconciled,--
Law for man, and law for thing;
The last builds town and fleet,
But it runs wild,
And doth the man unking.
'T is fit the forest fall,
The steep be graded,
The mountain tunnelled,
The sand shaded,
The orchard planted,
The glebe tilled,
The prairie granted,
The steamer built.

Let man serve law for man;
Live for friendship, live for love,
For truth's and harmony's behoof;
The state may follow how it can,
As Olympus follows Jove.

[..]
"Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing"
Let's take robots on assembly lines: If it's used to free up the workforce for more creative work, say, controlling production, making decisions about it, finding creative ways to act and so on, then it's to the good. If it's used as a device to maximize profit and throw people into the trashcan, then it's not good.
Could we stop the militarization of space? It certainly looks like we could. The reason is that the U.S. is alone, literally alone, in pressing for it. The entire world is opposed, because they’re scared, mainly. The U.S. is way ahead. If other countries are not willing to even dream of full-spectrum dominance and world control, they’re way too far behind; they will react, undoubtedly. But they’d like to cut it off. And there are several treaties, which are in fact already in place, that are supported literally by the entire world and that the U.S. is trying to overturn. One is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which bans placing weapons in outer space. Everyone signed it, including the United States. Nobody has tried to put weapons in outer space. It has been observed and would be easily detected if anyone broke it. In 1999, the treaty came up at the UN General Assembly, and the vote was around 163 to 0 with 2 abstentions, the U.S. and Israel, which votes automatically with the U.S.
The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get "a good job," but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
If you want to find corruption, then "Follow the money." If you want to find authoritarians, you can follow the flow of fundamental things in much the same way:

- Who is doing the silencing?
- Who is engaging in coercion?
- Who wishes for the power to coerce?
- Who is using violence?
- Who is distorts the truth to push agendas?
- Who eschews the universal for the momentarily convenient?
And I could weep at how mean people are and how they betray their fellow creatures, perhaps for the sake of personal advantage. It is enough to make a person lose heart sometimes. I often wish I lived on a Robinson Crusoe island.
It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.
My life's work is not what I've made, it's who I am when I sit in front of a blank file. If I lost everything, I would have lost nothing.
For those of you joining us (probably because you heard a blood-curdling scream from down the hall), this syntax is exactly as ambiguous as you might think.
Small minds decay! Average minds delay! Great minds teach All-One today!
I’m surprised how indifferent so many feel about the US surveillance scandal. Look up Germany’s history. I have spoken to people who lived in Nazi and Eastern Socialist Germany - the spying on your life by the State is one thing, but what it does to your friends and family in the long run is beyond anything you can imagine right now. You lose trust in people you love, every conversation becomes half lie/ half truth. It becomes part of EVERYBODY’s lives. Nobody is an exception. Ignore music, games or whatever you do right now and research the topic.
Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.
Modern Western culture seemingly has entered a failure-mode unprecedented in history, where we have nobody willing to go first, to stand out, to do what needs to be done, to enact the changes everyone else wants. We've run out of empathetic iconoclasts—people who see the suffering of distant/distributed others, and for whom that aggregate suffering outweighs the risk that might come to the comfortable-life-in-obscurity of all their closer companions. The people with hearts that bleed for their fellow citizens, but then don't shrivel back at the thought of their companions being the ones who end up bleeding.
I used to call myself a war photographer. Now I consider myself as an antiwar photographer.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
These articles scare me. Another one with exactly the same message: Things are worse than we thought, it was already bad, we are not coming close to doing enough to save us, there isn't even much of a plan.

And then I see most of the west handling covid-19 just like we handle everything: No clear direction, minimal effort, leaders asleep at the wheel, politicians trying to get the better of each other, rich people get richer.

Climate was an important theme in our last elections, but even the green party had no clue whatsoever, and the voters made it clear they did not even remotely care.

Now Covid-19 is easy stuff compared to the climate. I was hoping Covid-19 could serve as a wake up call for the cost of incompetence in our organisations. But that does not seem to happen.

Covid-19 has a pattern I also see in the climate: First, nobody cares for some theoretical crisis far away, then its in our countries but still not personal, and by now everybody knows about a specific person who died. Climate is a theoretical crisis far away for now.

So how do we proceed from here?
To the National Association of Broadcasters, New York City. Gentlemen: What have you done to my child, the radio broadcast? He was conceived as a potent instrumentality for culture, fine music, the uplifting of America’s mass intelligence. You have debased this child, dressed him in rags of ragtime, tatters of jive and boogie-woogie.