node created 2019/09/29
It's well documented that Facebook allows its developers unusual permission to push experimental updates live, and that the company has internal propaganda posters with mottos like "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" I wonder, what would be different if the posters read, "What would you do if you cared about the result?" Then again, that's not exactly fair, since it's clear that Facebook's leaders and employees care a great deal about the output of their work insofar as that output pleases and benefits them until their equity vests. So perhaps a different compass bearing: "What would you do if you cared about someone other than yourselves?"
Johnb made the point that "plain language is not enough when the frame of reference is not available to the listener"; correct and important. But the right reaction is not to resort to obscure and needlessly complex verbiage and posturing about non-existent "theories." Rather, it is to ask the listener to question the frame of reference that he/she is accepting, and to suggest alternatives that might be considered, all in plain language. I've never found that a problem when I speak to people lacking much or sometimes any formal education, though it's true that it tends to become harder as you move up the educational ladder, so that indoctrination is much deeper, and the self-selection for obedience that is a good part of elite education has taken its toll. Johnb says that outside of circles like this forum, "to the rest of the country, he's incomprehensible" ("he" being me). That's absolutely counter to my rather ample experience, with all sorts of audiences. Rather, my experience is what I just described. The incomprehensibility roughly corresponds to the educational level. Take, say, talk radio. I'm on a fair amount, and it's usually pretty easy to guess from accents, etc., what kind of audience it is. I've repeatedly found that when the audience is mostly poor and less educated, I can skip lots of the background and "frame of reference" issues because it's already obvious and taken for granted by everyone, and can proceed to matters that occupy all of us. With more educated audiences, that's much harder; it's necessary to disentangle lots of ideological constructions.
If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.
Your stuff will start to puff up. Your paragraphs will start to get rotund with all the things you could say if you really wanted, but you can only hint. That's bad. It's bad intellectually and I think it's bad morally. It means that you become.. your contract is no longer with your readers. What I try and do, and the reason I write in longhand and write in isolation, is to say "The only person I have a deal with is the person who might read this. And I'll give them my best, and I don't care what the editor thinks, the advertising department thinks, friends and colleagues think." You try and live, as it were, as if none of these people counted. "What's the best account I can give for customers of this." Most of Washington punditry is nothing of the kind, it's... private letters written to other pundits and appearing in public space.
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)
None of us can save himself; we are the instruments of one another’s salvation, and the only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light.
If I hear one more person who comes up to me and complains about "computer music has no soul" then I will go furious, you know. 'Cause of course the computer is just a tool. And if there is no soul in computer music then it's because nobody put it there and that's not the computer's role. It's the role of the songwriter. He puts down his soul in the song if he wants to. A guitar will never write a song and a computer will never write a song. These are just tools.
Whenever I am in a place where you have to wait a lot, like at a bus station, nearly everyone is swiping at their phone.

They all look like crack addicts scratching for rocks in an alleyway.
These men were able to give the counsel they gave because they were operating at an enormous psychological distance from the people who would be maimed and killed by the weapons systems that would result from the ideas they communicated to their sponsors. The lesson, therefore, is that the scientist and technologist must, by acts of will and of the imagination, actively strive to reduce such psychological distances, to counter the forces that tend to remove him from the consequences of his actions. He must -- it is as simple as this -- think of what he is actually doing. He must learn to listen to his own inner voice. He must learn to say "No!"

Finally, it is the act itself that matters. When instrumental reason is the sole guide to action, the acts it justifies are robbed of their inherent meanings and thus exist in an ethical vacuum. I recently heard an officer of a great university publicly defend an important policy decision he had made, one that many of the university's students and faculty opposed on moral grounds, with the words: "We could have taken a moral stand, but what good would that have done?" But the moral good of a moral act inheres in the act itself. That is why an act can itself ennoble or corrupt the person who performs it. The victory of instrumental reason in our time has brought about the virtual disappearance of this insight and thus perforce the delegitimation of the very idea of nobility.
"Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgment To Calculation" (1976)
The Grand Inquisitor explains that you have to create mysteries because otherwise the common people will be able to understand things. They have to be subordinated so you have to make things look mysterious and complicated. That's the test of the intellectual. It's also good for them: then you're an important person, talking big words which nobody can understand. Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it's all gibberish. But it's very inflated, a lot of television cameras, a lot of posturing. They try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child.

There's nothing there. But these are the ways in which contemporary intellectuals, including those on the Left, create great careers for themselves, power for themselves, marginalize people, intimidate people and so on.
"Chomsky on Anarchism" (2005)
The thing here is we have a proven viable slippery slope. Where eventually the stakeholder of the projects ceases to be the user. This is the problem you get into the business of marketing, promotion and distribution. Your focus changes – even if on the surface you’re entirely transparent about not wanting to compel people to change.

The operational goal has shifted slightly and this change in the winds tends to precede yet more of the same. A great example is how control of the internet shifted from a more people-oriented purpose to now being controlled by corporations worldwide. All on the premise that the harmless shifts over time were always for the better to help sustain the network.

We know now that some changes are just never worth it. Often times they’re also not nearly as necessary as they were initially made out to be either.
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
Compared with the insane world of the concentration camp society itself, which can never be quite grasped by the imagination, because it is outside of life and death, the process by which humans get prepared and [zugerichtet] for it, is rational and purposeful. The [Anstoß], and what's more, the tacit approval of such conditions in the middle of Europe, was created by those events, which in a period of dissolving political forms suddenly had suddenly made hundreds of thousands and then millions of people homeless, stateless, rightless, economically superfluous and socially unwanted. On them it already had been demonstrated that human rights, which were never philosophically founded nor secured politically anyway, had lost even their proclamatory, their appelatory effect and were at least in their traditional form no longer applied anywhere. But these are only the negative preconditions; after all the loss of the workplace and therefore the place in society, which came with unemployment, or in the case of statelessness the loss of papers, home, a secure place to stay and a right to work, were only preliminary, summary preparation, which would have hardly sufficed for the ultimate result.

Regardless, the first crucial step on the way to totalitarian power is the killing of the juridical person, which in the case of statelessness happens automatically because the stateless person ends up outside of all law. In the case of totalitarian power this automatic killing becomes a planned murder, because concentration camps are always placed outside of the penal system, and the inmates are never to be put there "for punishable or other offenses" (also see Maunz, p. 50). Under all conditions totalitatarian power takes care to put people into the camps, which only *are* -- Jews, carriers of diseases, members of dying classes -- but have already lost their ability to act, be it for good or bad.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft", S. 655

And Thou Too

The moonlight rolls down like a river,
The silence streams out like a sea;
And far where the eastern winds quiver,
My farewell goes floating to thee.

Like night, when the sunset is fading
And starbeams troop up in the skies,
Through a cold, dark and lonely forever
Gleams the light of the poet eyes.

And sometimes when I am weary,
When the path is thorny and Wild,
I'll look back to the Eyes in the twilight,
Back to the eyes that smiled.

And pray that a wreath like a rainbow
May slip from the beautiful past,
And Crown me again with the sweet, strong love
And keep me, and hold me fast.

For the way is not strown with petal soft,
It is covered with hearts that weep,
And the wounds I tread touch a deeper source
Than you think it mine to keep.

Down the years I shall move without you,
Yet ever must feel the blow
That caused me a deeper pain to give
Than you will ever know.

For the tears that dropped on my hands that night
'Neath the mystical shining moon,
Were a sacred dew, consecrated there,
On the rose-altered heart of June.

And the heart that beat against mine like a bird
That is fluttering, wounded sore,
With it's nest all broken, deserted, torn,
Will beat there forevermore.

But the world moves on, and the piteous Earth
Still groans in the monster pain;
And the star that leads me points onward yet,
Though the red drops fall like rain!

Ah, not to a blaze of light I go,
Nor shouts of a triumph train;
I go down to kiss the dregs of woe,
And drink up the Cup of Pain.

And whether a scaffold or crucifix waits
'Neath the light of my silver star,
I know and I care not: I only know
I shall pause not though it be far.

Though a crucified life or an agonized death,
Though long, or quick and sharp,
I am firmly wrought in the endless thread
Of Destiny's woof and warp.

And I do not shrink, though a wave of pain
Sobs over me now and then,
As I think of those "saddest of all sad words,"
The pitiful "might have been."

"It might have been"— it is not to be;
And the tones of your "swan's farewell"
Ring sadly, solemnly deep to me
Like the voice of a sobbing bell.

Ay, gather your petals and take them back
To the dead heart under the dew;
And crown it again with the red love bloom,
For the dead are always true.

But go not "back to the sediment"
In the slime of the moaning sea,
For a better world belongs to you,
And a better friend to me.
Don't depend too much on anyone in this world because even your own shadow leaves you when you are in darkness.

What Do I Care

What do I care, in the dreams and the languor of spring,
That my songs do not show me at all?
For they are a fragrance, and I am a flint and a fire,
I am an answer, they are only a call.

But what do I care, for love will be over so soon,
Let my heart have its say and my mind stand idly by,
For my mind is proud and strong enough to be silent, 
It is my heart that makes my songs, not I.
From the totalitarian point of view, history is something to be created rather than learned.
"The Prevention of Literature" (1946)
Religions get lost as people do.
The Fourth Notebook, February 26, 1918
If anyone went on for a thousand years asking of life: "Why are you living?" life, if it could answer, would only say, "I live so that I may live." That is because life lives out of its own ground and springs from its own source, and so it lives without asking why it is itself living.
It was relatively easy, we now realize, to categorize countries and nations. You knew who your enemies were and whom you could count on as collaborators and friends. And even more importantly, you had ready-made scapegoats to take the blame when things were going wrong.