node created 2019/09/29
Also, bear in mind, people ought to be pretty critical about the Nuremberg principles. I don't mean to suggest they're some kind of model of probity or anything. For one thing, they were ex post facto. These were determined to be crimes by the victors after they had won. Now, that already raises questions. In the case of the American presidents, they weren't ex post facto. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself what was called a "war crime"? How did they decide what was a war crime at Nuremberg and Tokyo? And the answer is pretty simple. and not very pleasant. There was a criterion. Kind of like an operational criterion. If the enemy had done it and couldn't show that we had done it, then it was a war crime. So like bombing of urban concentrations was not considered a war crime because we had done more of it than the Germans and the Japanese. So that wasn't a war crime. You want to turn Tokyo into rubble? So much rubble you can't even drop an atom bomb there because nobody will see anything if you do, which is the real reason they didn't bomb Tokyo. That's not a war crime because we did it. Bombing Dresden is not a war crime. We did it. German Admiral Gernetz -- when he was brought to trial (he was a submarine commander or something) for sinking merchant vessels or whatever he did -- he called as a defense witness American Admiral Nimitz who testified that the U.S. had done pretty much the same thing, so he was off, he didn't get tried. And in fact if you run through the whole record, it turns out a war crime is any war crime that you can condemn them for but they can't condemn us for. Well, you know, that raises some questions.

[..]

I think one ought to raise many questions about the Nuremberg tribunal, and especially the Tokyo tribunal. The Tokyo tribunal was in many ways farcical. The people condemned at Tokyo had done things for which plenty of people on the other side could be condemned. Furthermore, just as in the case of Saddam Hussein, many of their worst atrocities the U.S. didn't care about. Like some of the worst atrocities of the Japanese were in the late '30s, but the U.S. didn't especially care about that. What the U.S. cared about was that Japan was moving to close off the China market. That was no good. But not the slaughter of a couple of hundred thousand people or whatever they did in Nanking. That's not a big deal.
Since we’re awash in this contemporary ocean of speculation, we forget that things can be known with certainty, and that we need not live in a fearful world of interminable unsupported opinion. But the gulf that separates hard fact from speculation is by now so unfamiliar that most people can’t comprehend it.
What frightened me in your essay was the gospel of love which you begin to preach at the end. In politics, love is a stranger, and when it intrudes upon it nothing is being achieved except hypocrisy. All the characteristics you stress in the Negro people: their beauty, their capacity for joy, their warmth, and their humanity, are well-known characteristics of all oppressed people. They grow out of suffering and they are the proudest possession of all pariahs. Unfortunately, they have never survived the hour of liberation by even five minutes. Hatred and love belong together, and they are both destructive; you can afford them only in the private and, as a people, only so long as you are not free.
I know women sometimes start believing they’re not meant to do something, especially when there are cultural or family restrictions where they live, so they put that limitation on themselves. Even if the opportunity comes, they don’t see it, they’ve forgotten about it. So it’s important not to forget, to always be prepared.
We will beat the machine. We will win.

That primal clarity lives within us still, and you can only sedate a giant for so long.

The primal giant will rise, will crush the machine and the CIA black sites, will crack open Gitmo and devour Hollywood, will defecate on the Pentagon and wipe its ass with Langley, and will howl at the moon and banish the narrative matrix to wherever deleted files go.

And we will be free. And we will be vast. And we will look at each other with unpolluted eyes for the very first time.

And we will go out into the world, the real world, the original world, walking with our original feet and looking with our original eyes.

Our seeds now great forests.

Tortured no more.
The ways in which most men get their living, that is, live, are mere makeshifts, and a shirking of the real business of life, - chiefly because they do not know, but partly because they do not mean, any better. The rush to California, for instance, and the attitude, not merely of merchants, but of philosophers and prophets, so called, in relation to it, reflect the greatest disgrace on mankind. That so many are ready to live by luck, and so get the means of commanding the labor of others less lucky, without contributing any value to society! And that is called enterprise! I know of no more startling development of the immorality of trade, and all the common modes of getting a living. The philosophy and poetry and religion of such a mankind are not worth the dust of a puffball. The hog that gets his living by rooting, stirring up the soil so, would be ashamed of such company. If I could command the wealth of all the worlds by lifting my finger, I would not pay such a price for it
Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.
"Do you belong in journalism?", The New Yorker (14 May 1960)
I remember once asking my mother, ‘How did you do in your studies?’ She replied, ‘What are you talking about? How could you study under those conditions?’.

When she saw the segregation of African-Americans, whether at a lunch counter or in the school system, that was, for her, like the prologue to the Nazi holocaust. Whereas many Jews now say, Never compare (Elie Wiesel’s refrain, ‘It’s bad, but it’s not The Holocaust’), my mother’s credo was, Always compare. She gladly and generously made the imaginative leap to those who were suffering, wrapping and shielding them in the embrace of her own suffering.

For my mother, the Nazi holocaust was a chapter in the long history of the horror of war. It was not itself a war – she was emphatic that it was an extermination, not a war – but it was a unique chapter within the war. So for her, war was the ultimate horror. When she saw Vietnamese being bombed during the Vietnam War, it was the Nazi holocaust. It was the bombing, the death, the horror, the terror, that she herself had passed through. When she saw the distended bellies of starving children in Biafra, it was also the Nazi holocaust, because she remembered her own pangs of hunger in the Warsaw Ghetto.
I learned a few years ago that lawns used to be something only aristocrats could afford because it showed your wealth that you could afford to not have land for the use of food production. Now you get fined if your neighbor rats you out to the local government for letting it get to high.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
No greater mistake can be made than to imagine that what has been written latest is always the more correct; that what is written later on is an improvement on what was written previously; and that every change means progress. Men who think and have correct judgment, and people who treat their subject earnestly, are all exceptions only. Vermin is the rule everywhere in the world: it is always at hand and busily engaged in trying to improve in its own way upon the mature deliberations of the thinkers. So that if a man wishes to improve himself in any subject he must guard against immediately seizing the newest books written upon it, in the assumption that science is always advancing and that the older books have been made use of in the compiling of the new. They have, it is true, been used; but how? The writer often does not thoroughly understand the old books; he will, at the same time, not use their exact words, so that the result is he spoils and bungles what has been said in a much better and clearer way by the old writers; since they wrote from their own lively knowledge of the subject. He often leaves out the best things they have written, their most striking elucidations of the matter, their happiest remarks, because he does not recognise their value or feel how pregnant they are. It is only what is stupid and shallow that appeals to him. An old and excellent book is frequently shelved for new and bad ones; which, written for the sake of money, wear a pretentious air and are much eulogised by the authors’ friends. In science, a man who wishes to distinguish himself brings something new to market; this frequently consists in his denouncing some principle that has been previously held as correct, so that he may establish a wrong one of his own. Sometimes his attempt is successful for a short time, when a return is made to the old and correct doctrine. These innovators are serious about nothing else in the world than their own priceless person, and it is this that they wish to make its mark.
I think we've gone well past the equilibrium point between ease of use and computer literacy, to the point that we are now disempowering users rather than helping them. If someone record a video on their phone and want to share it we know it's just a file on a disk, but most users don't, to them it's just a video that appears in a list in an app. We know a file can be copied, modified, shared, etc, but all they can do is what the share button on the phone's UI allows them to do, like upload to youtube. Even if they had a youtube clone owned by themselves or a friend they wouldn't know how to upload it.

I saw it with my mother going through photos she took on her digital camera, she's a slave to the software that came with the camera and the features it provides. She doesn't access the file, she goes through a UI to view the images and manipulate them. If she wants to post them to facebook she does that through the UI. When the camera dies and is replaced she has to relearn a different software package whereas if she'd managed her files through explorer like we probably do then the knowledge would be transferable.

Unless we start teaching computer fundamentals better and expect people to apply that knowledge to do things then we are sliding head first into the world of digital serfdom.
"And in her ears the little Seashells, the timble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming on on the shore of her unsleeping mind."

So, even as she rests, Mildred is surrounded by noise, by constant entertainment, just like she is during the day with her t.v. walls. Montag's society uses these seashells for two purposes. The first is to control information, and hence, thought and potential rebellion. If they are the ones controlling what information you get, they can tell you whatever they want, giving only one perspective, and painting a rosy picture so that people are never discontented. They also use the shells to relay important information. For example, when Montag escapes at the end, they send a message through all of the seashells for everyone to look out for him, and to turn him in if they see him. They automatically have a huge civilian army at hand, through the use of the seashells. Secondly, if people are constantly "plugged in," they don't have any spare time for their minds to be on their own. If people never have silence, they never think, and so never have the kind of discontented thought that come from meditation.

Mildred stays "tuned in" so much that she really has no mind of her own. In this sense, she is a perfect citizen of her society. I hope that these thoughts helped; good luck!
The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.
1. Start with the set of all potentially serious journalists.

2. Filter out the ones who put forth arguments which downplay the dangers to the press of prosecuting Assange.

3. Filter out the ones who don't explicitly argue against prosecuting Assange on 1st Amendment grounds.

Follow the small group that survives #3 to get a variety of (probably) high-quality perspectives from serious journalists.
The political policies that are called conservative these days would appal any genuine conservative, if there were one around to be appalled. For example, the central policy of the Reagan Administration - which was supposed to be conservative - was to build up a powerful state. The state grew in power more under Reagan than in any peacetime period, even if you just measure it by state expenditures. The state intervention in the economy vastly increased. That's what the Pentagon system is, in fact; it's the creation of a state-guaranteed market and subsidy system for high-technology production. There was a commitment under the Reagan Administration to protect this more powerful state from the public, which is regarded as the domestic enemy. Take the resort to clandestine operations in foreign policy: that means the creation of a powerful central state immune from public inspection. Or take the increased efforts at censorship and other forms of control. All of these are called "conservatism," but they're the very opposite of conservatism. Whatever the term means, it involves a concern for Enlightenment values of individual rights and freedoms against powerful external authorities such as the state, a dominant Church, and so on. That kind of conservatism no one even remembers anymore.
The easy possibility to write letters must - seen theoretically - have brought a terrible disruption of the souls into the world. It is communication with ghosts, and not just with the ghost of the receiver, but with one's own ghost as well, which develops under the hand in the letter one is writing, or even in a series of letters, where on letter substantiates the other and can call on it as witness. How could the idea come up that humans can communicate with each other through letters! One can think of a person that is far away, or touch a person that is close by, everything else is above the power of humans. But writing letters means to bare oneself in front of the ghosts, which they are greedily waiting for. Written kisses don't arrive at their place, but get drunk up by the ghosts on the way. Because of this plentiful food they multiply so outrageously. Humanity is feeling that and fighting against it, it has, to disable the ghostly between humans, and to achieve the natural communication, the peace of souls, invented the train, the car, the airplane, but it's too late, apparently they are inventions made while falling, the opponent is so much calmer and stronger, and invented after mail the telegraph, the telephone, wireless telegraphy. The ghosts won't starve, but we will perish.
letter to Milena Jesenská (March 1922)
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying.
There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.
"War and Peace"
If enough of us had worked like Noam to try to force American leaders to stop killing and exploiting the innocent these past 40 years, after all, countless people would have been saved, and America and the world would not only be far richer, more peaceful and more just. It would not be presently heading toward the collapse of civilization as we know it from climate change. Noam believes the major responsibility for this lies with a short-term driven corporate system that regards climate change as an "externality," i.e., a problem for someone else to worry about. But it is also clear that the fact that not enough of the rest of us, certainly including myself, respond appropriately to civilization's looming death is a major part of the problem as well.

And, I thus finally realized, the important question was not why Noam responds the way he does to the suffering of the innocent around the planet.

It was why so many of the rest of us do not.
Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.
You must get your living by loving.
Half of Reddit has their own political ideas that they are sure will make the perfect society, but if any one person was given absolute authority to realise their perfect society, then it's gonna be a shitshow no matter how smart they are, because society is way too complicated for any one person to have a fully rounded view of.
If it isn’t illegal, it isn’t strong enough. If the government doesn’t denounce it, it isn’t good enough.
I have spoken here of what ought and ought not to be done, of what is morally repugnant, and of what is dangerous. I am, of course, aware of the fact that these judgements of mine have themselves no moral force except on myself. Nor, as I have already said, do I have any intention of telling other people what tasks they should and should not undertake. I urge them only to consider the consequences of what they do do. And here I mean not only, not even primarily, the direct consequences of their actions on the world about them. I mean rather the consequences on themselves, as they construct their rationalizations, as they repress the truths that urge them to different courses, and as they chip away at their own autonomy. That so many people ask what they must do is a sign that the order of being and doing has become inverted. Those who know who and what they are do not need to ask what they should do. And those who must ask will not be able to stop asking until they begin to look inside themselves. It it is everyone's task to show by example what questions one can ask of oneself, and to show that one can live with the few answers there are.
"Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment to Calculation" (1976)
Another part of me wonders if they were being positive to the point of lying about it lest they be seen as a "negative person". Why? Because as the sewer rats have shown us, speaking the truth about badness brings out the teeth and the claws. They will take you apart for daring to pipe up about something that just does not make sense.

They can have their dishonest positivity. Someone has to deal with the actual problems in the world, and it starts by admitting they exist.
There’s no more drinking or not drinking the Kool-Aid, in other words. The Kool-Aid is raining from the skies and seeping into the groundwater.
I don't follow gaming message boards, because, at its best, entertainment is going to be a subjective thing that can't win for everyone, while at worst, a particular game just becomes a random symbol for petty tribal behavior.
[The method of infallible prediction] is foolproof only after the movements have seized power. Then all debate about the truth or falsity of a totalitarian dictator’s prediction is as weird as arguing with a potential murderer about whether his future victim is dead or alive – since by killing the person in question the murderer can promptly provide proof of the correctness of his statement. The only valid argument under such conditions is promptly to rescue the person whose death is predicted. Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it. The assertion that the Moscow subway is the only one in the world is a lie only so long as the Bolsheviks have not the power to destroy all the others. In other words, the method of infallible prediction, more than any other totalitarian propaganda device, betrays its ultimate goal of world conquest, since only in a world completely under his control could the totalitarian ruler possibly realize all his lies and make true all his prophecies.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"