node created 2019/09/29
We have nobody to thank but ourselves. We win the Cold War, and then let them rot because we were gloating dicks. We have more in common with them than we can imagine, and damn far more to gain by working together than fighting.
You don’t know what order with freedom means! You only know what revolt against oppression is! You don’t know that the rod, discipline, violence, the state and government can only be sustained because of you and because of your lack of socially creative powers that develop order within liberty!
Momo listened to everyone and everything - even to the rain and the wind and the pine trees - and all of them spoke to her after their own fashion.
Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.
"3001: The Final Odyssey"
Man always dies before he is fully born.
The third world is not a reality, but an ideology.
The relatively new trouble with mass society is perhaps even more serious, but not because of the masses themselves, but because this society is essentially a consumers’ society where leisure time is used no longer for self-perfection or acquisition of more social status, but for more and more consumption and more and more entertainment… To believe that such a society will become more “cultured” as time goes on and education has done its work, is, I think, a fatal mistake. The point is that a consumers’ society cannot possibly know how to take care of a world and the things which belong exclusively to the space of worldly appearances, because its central attitude toward all objects, the attitude of consumption, spells ruin to everything it touches.
"Between Past and Future"
The following extract shows how a messaging client's text entry could be arbitrarily restricted to a fixed number of characters, thus forcing any conversation through this medium to be terse and discouraging intelligent discourse.
<label>What are you doing? <input name=status maxlength=140></label>
On truth's path, wise is mad, insane is wise.
In love's way, self and other are the same.
Having drunk the wine, my love, of being one with you,
I find the way to Mecca and Bodhgaya are the same.
Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.
"On Liberty" (1859)
You can't restart the internet. Trillions of dollars depend on a rickety cobweb of unofficial agreements and "good enough for now" code with comments like "TODO: FIX THIS IT'S A REALLY DANGEROUS HACK BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S WRONG" that were written ten years ago.
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
I was on stage and I looked out, and I knew they weren't ready. We were doing 'Piece of My Heart.' You know you can do a lot of different things: you know sometimes they get up spontaneously. Out in the Midwest they don't. They aren't supposed to stand up and they know it. It's hard to get 'em up. But I remember I was singing 'Piece of My Heart,' you know that 'Come on, well, come on' line -- well, you know the guitar solo that leads into that part? I came in early, and I walked all the way to the front of the stage and shouted [in a hoarse whisper], 'Come on, come on!' and just fucking stamping my foot, and saying, 'I'm not going to sing anymore unless you do something,' you know, and they're going, 'Whoo-ooo-ooo, yes ma'am! Yes ma'am, yes ma'am!' A riot. Groovy. All they want is a little kick in the ass. You know, sometimes I jump off the stage and grab somebody and say, 'Let's dance.' When they reach a certain level, you know, they want to be lifted, but they're scared. Then all you gotta do is give the old kick in the ass, a big fucking kick in the ass, man. Then the promoters get goony, turn the lights on, pull the power, but by then it's all over [crackles]. I dig it! I dig it so much, man!
You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.
SaaS is more closed than closed: you control nothing, not even your data, and can trivially be spied on and monetized in other questionable ways. The fact that some of the pieces of a SaaS site are open source is meaningless and changes nothing.
Exasperation with the threefold frustration of action -- the unpredictability of its outcome, the irreversibility of the process, and the anonymity of its authors -- is almost as old as recorded history. It has always been a great temptation, for men of action no less than for men of thought, to find a substitute for action in the hope that the realm of human affairs may escape the haphazardness and moral irresponsibility inherent in a plurality of agents.
Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.
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.
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)
My internal battle to fight off the constant fear of not knowing what could happen to me at the hands of the government affects my judgment. I don’t know if this has affected my writing. Intuition tells me it hasn’t, but I have trouble trusting my intuition. It is the breakdown of trust — trust of oneself, trust of others — that is the worst consequence of living a transparent life.


The Chinese government talks about building a “harmonious society.” But how can a society become truly harmonious if surveillance cameras are everywhere and everyone has to live with suspicion and fear? What kind of lives can we lead without trust?
Force is as pitiless to the man who possesses it, or thinks he does, as it is to its victims; the second it crushes, the first it intoxicates.
Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
Even if it were possible to design a provably correct, impossible to tamper with, anonymous electronic voting system (which seems unlikely to me) it still should NOT be used. Why?

Everyone understands paper in ballot boxes, and how they can be cheated, what to look for. Everyone can assess an argument as to whether this happened based on the evidence presented.

Basically nobody would understand what to even look for in cheating the electronic system. It would be totally my expert says your expert is wrong and so it is/isn't fraud. Having even the possibility of that argument for electoral fraud is completely insane.

It doesn't just have to be fair, it has to be seen to be fair. Really it does. We need to have reason to have faith in our democratic processes most especially when the people you want to win, don't and the result surprises you.

The sooner we get to "Any electronic voting must be used to mark a standard paper ballot which becomes the entire source of truth." The better. Everything else in electronic voting is dangerous, sinister and flat out evil. Oppose it. Loudly. At every opportunity. Especially if you're known as someone who understands computers on some level.
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.

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.
Certain backward areas have advanced, and various devices always in some way connected with warfare and police espionage have developed, but experiment and invention have largely stopped.