node created 2019/09/29
To will oneself free is also to will others free.
I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.
The main part of the economics that don't make sense is trusting a secretive technocratic savior, wielding trillions of dollars of resources, to actually give a shit about helping out all the low-level peons who initially funded the system. It's an extremely elitist vision, that, by people's parents handing over investment money to a small cabal of technological geniuses, their kids will be handed a post-scarcity utopia on a platter --- instead of the wealthy technocrats simply joining forces with the rest of the oppressive oligarchy, laughing at the suckers who gambled away their children's futures on promises of technology serving the people rather than vice-versa.
I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name, they would be utterly appalled.
No individual gets up and says, I'm going to take this because I want it. He'd say, I'm going to take it because it really belongs to me and it would be better for everyone if I had it. It's true of children fighting over toys. And it's true of governments going to war. Nobody is ever involved in an aggressive war; it's always a defensive war - on both sides.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.
People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is a normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.
Our swollen budgets constantly have been misrepresented to the public. Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear — kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor — with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.
Address to the Annual Stockholders Sperry Rand Corporation (30 July 1957)
In this great big universe, we have all those stars. Who cares? Well, somebody cares. Somebody cares about you a lot. As long as we care about each other, that’s where we go from here.
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
"The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark"
The whole world is shit, everything is shit, people are shit. Choosing to be positive and present is a coping strategy. It's definitely against my nature.

Compliments and other acts of kindness help. Just a little. Worth it.
Before the US invaded Iraq, when the President was talking about mushroom clouds and the Secretary of State delivered a PowerPoint about bio-weapons to the United Nations, I gave our leaders the benefit of the doubt.

Surely the military, the CIA, the NSA, the NRO, and the President must have secret information they cannot share with the public to justify the horrors of war.

Turns out I was wrong. It was a pack of lies, half-truths and poorly-substantiated rumors to justify a predetermined agenda.

After the 2007-2008 financial meltdown, when the President and the Secretary of the Treasury threatened the end of the world as we know it if the richest corporations aren't given direct cash infusions, I gave them the benefit of the doubt.

Surely our elected officials would never directly transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to the richest of the rich unless the alternative was truly grave.

Turns out I was wrong. It was a pack of lies, half-truths and poorly-substantiated rumors to transfer wealth from working people to the ownership class on an unprecedented scale.

So when the President stands before us today and speaks for 45 minutes without saying anything of consequence, without providing any evidence that the threat is so dire, so imminent, so cataclysmic that we must relinquish our freedoms to preserve our freedoms, I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.

No more vague threats. No more fear. No more intimidation. No more secrecy. These are fatal to a political system that relies on an informed citizenry.
Suppose that humans happen to be so constructed that they desire the opportunity for freely undertaken productive work. Suppose that they want to be free from the meddling of technocrats and commissars, bankers and tycoons, mad bombers who engage in psychological tests of will with peasants defending their homes, behavioral scientists who can't tell a pigeon from a poet, or anyone else who tries to wish freedom and dignity out of existence or beat them into oblivion.
The business of buying weapons that takes place in the Pentagon is a corrupt business - ethically and morally corrupt from top to bottom. The process is dominated by advocacy, with few, if any, checks and balances. Most people in power like this system of doing business and do not want it changed.
So we should, I think, stop trying to fool ourselves when we say that we don't care about things, or that we want to help, but we don't help the things that are obvious and directly in front of our face. We should try to work together, I think, to try to build independent structures to replace the parts of the state that have been dismantled.

This is something which is I think highfallutin and difficult for people to grok, but part of the reason that we loose so much in our societies is because we don't have democratic control over the things that matter to us.

So what we need to do is to try to replace those structures. The structures especially that are missing. And that includes stuff that's not very sexy, like child care or education, as well as, you know, open and free base bands for cell phones. It's all related. So I think we have to move from a world where we act, not just a world where we react.
Hold your hat and hang on to your soul
Something's coming to eat the world whole
If we fight it we've still got a chance

But whatever they offer you
Though they're slopping the trough for you
Please whatever they offer you

Don't feed the plants
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.
War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.
If your algorithm doesn’t allow a pedophile to irreversibly scramble his drive and avoid prosecution, it can’t be used by freethinkers under ideological oppression to hide state-banned books. If your messaging app won’t let someone safely plan bombing the Super Bowl, it can’t be used by an activist to reveal human rights abuses. If your map doesn’t let poachers stalk rhinos without alerting rangers, it can’t be used by ethnic minorities to escape purges.
All violence consists of some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.
In the United States, the political system is a very marginal affair. There are two parties, so-called, but they're really factions of the same party, the Business Party. Both represent some range of business interests. In fact, they can change their positions 180 degrees, and nobody even notices.
Interview by Adam Jones, February 20 (1990)
I have also been on the Earth a long time. Making measurements.

Ice is there, yes. A few hundred miles less ice on the glaciers. I assume that you can tell the difference between an ice cube and an ice sheet. Or is it all filed under ice?

Bloody hell.

Storms have always been there. In different places, with different moisure content.

Maybe the Khmer Empire thought the same as you, just before they died horribly. They'd moved the atmospheric rivers by several hundred miles. Sure, there was rain. Just not near them, because they were idiots.

Don't copy them.

The temperature has risen to levels that are higher than what they should be given prevailing conditions. But that's not as important as the gradient. The gradient has never occurred in historic times, or indeed any time since the last asteroid strike.

But you ignore that and assume all gradients are equal, all numbers are equal.

They are not.

The Khmer discovered this too late. This time, you're playing not with millions of lives but billions. Ignorance isn't going to save even one of them. There is no plea bargain with physics.
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one's actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.
He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.
Too clever is dumb.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?
This misuse of ‘professionalism’ to refer to the faux Victorian mannerliness fashionable amongst lesser suits is just one more troubling aspect of loss of conceptual resources inculcated by corporate culture.
As long as we continue to have children, or accept people having children, we have chosen - as a species - to not give up on them, and their descendants.

Preserving a livable environment, and preferably much more than livable, is simply a duty springing from that fact.

There is no need for any deep philosophy, to care for the environment is - essentially - a consequence of choices already made.