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.
All the guys at the bar, Jimmy, all the girls; they don't show up at your wake. Not because they don't like you. But because, they never knew your last name. Then a month later, someone tells them, "Oh, Jimmy died." "Jimmy who?" "Jimmy the Cop." "Ohhh," they say, "him". And all the people on the job, all those people you spent all the hours in the radio cars with, the guys with their feet up on the desk, tellin' stories, who shorted you on your food runs, who signed your overtime slips. In the end, they're not gonna be there either. Family, that's it. Family, and if you're lucky, one or two friends who are the same as family. That's all the best of us get. Everything else is just...
"The Wire"
This drug thing, this ain't police work. I mean, I can send any fool with a badge and a gun to a corner to jack a crew and grab vials. But policing? I mean you call something a war, and pretty soon everyone is going to be running around acting like warriors. They gonna be running around on a damn crusade, storming corners, racking up body counts. And when you at war, you need a fucking enemy. And pretty soon, damn near everybody on every corner is your fucking enemy. And soon, the neighborhood you're supposed to be policing, that's just occupied territory. You follow this? [..] Okay The point I'm making is this: Soldiering and policing, they ain't the same thing. And before we went and took the wrong turn and start up with these war games, the cop walked a beat, and he learned that post. And if there were things that happened on that post, where there be a rape, a robbery, or a shooting, he had people out there helping him, feeding him information. But every time I came to you, my DEU sergeant, for information, to find out what's going on out on them streets... all that came back was some bullshit. You had your stats, your arrests, your seizures, but don't none of that amount to shit when it comes to protecting the neighborhood, now do it?
"The Wire"
All this death, you don't think it ripples out? You don't even know what the fuck I'm talking about. I was a few years ahead of you at Edmondson, but I know you remember the neighborhood, how it was. We had some bad boys, for real. Wasn't about guns so much as knowing what to do with your hands. Those boys could really rack. My father had me on the straight, but like any young man, I wanted to be hard too, so I'd turn up at all the house parties where the tough boys hung. Shit, they knew I wasn't one of them. Them hard cases would come up to me and say, "Go home, schoolboy, you don't belong here." Didn't realize at the time what they were doing for me. As rough as that neighborhood could be, we had us a community. Nobody, no victim, who didn't matter. And now all we got is bodies, and predatory motherfuckers like you.
"The Wire"
I'll swallow a lie when I have to; I've swallowed a few big ones lately. But the stat games? That lie? It's what ruined this department. Shining up shit and calling it gold so majors become colonels and mayors become governors. Pretending to do policework while one generation fucking trains the next how not to do the job.
"The Wire"
The rise of the natural sciences is credited with a demonstrable, ever-quickening increase in human knowledge and power; shortly before the modern age European mankind knew less than Archimedes in the third century B.C., while the first fifty years of our century have witnessed more important discoveries than all the centuries of recorded history together. Yet the same phenomenon is blamed with equal right for the hardly less demonstrable increase in human despair or the specifically modern nihilism which has spread to ever larger sections of the population, their most significant aspect perhaps being that they no longer spare the scientists themselves, whose well-founded optimism could still, in the nineteenth century, stand up against the equally justifiable pessimism of thinkers and poets. The modern astrophysical world view, which began with Galileo, and its challenge to the adequacy of the senses to reveal reality, have left us a universe of whose qualities we know no more than the way they affect our measuring instruments, and — in the words of Eddington — "the former have as much resemblance to the latter as a telephone number has to a subscriber." Instead of objective qualities, in other words, we find instruments, and instead of nature or the universe — in the words of Heisenberg — man encounters only himself.

[The German physicist Werner Heisenberg has expressed this thought in a number of recent publications. For instance: "Wenn man versucht, von der Situation in der modernen Naturwissenschaft ausgehend, sich zu den in Bewegung geratenen Fundamenten vorzutasten, so hat man den Eindruck, ... dass zum erstenmal im Laufe der Geschichte der Mensch auf dieser Erde nur noch sich selbst gegenübersteht ... , daß wir gewissermassen immer nur uns selbst begegnen" (Das Naturbild der heutigen Pkysik [1955], pp. 17-18). Heisenberg's point is that the observed object has no existence independent of the observing subject: "Durch die Art der Beobachtung wird entschieden, welche Züge der Natur bestimmt werden und welche wir durch unsere Beobachtungen verwischen" (Wandlungen in den Grundlagen der Naturwissenschaft [1949], p. 67).]
"Vita Activa"
The emergence of the stranger and his externalization stands in direct relationship to the degree of impairment of that which is most personal - namely, a person's identity. But how can inner development take place in children if everything that makes up their individuality is rejected and made foreign? Then identity is reduced to adaptation to those external circumstances that insure a child's psychic survival. Children do everything to fulfil their parents' expectations, and the way they do this is to identify with their parents, but then the child's individuality is replaced by a foreign element. That is why the 18th Century English poet Edward Young wrote: "We are born as originals, die as copies".

An identity that develops in this manner is not oriented to its own needs but to the will of an authority.

[..]

I want to emphasize that the "stranger" in us is bred by a culture that won't accept the spontaneous expression of children's aliveness and vitality. This aspect of a culture gives rise to violent behavior and is responsible for the development of deficient identities. Personalities formed by the processes producing the inner stranger were never able to develop trust as an underlying component of their personality. Instead, they take on a "false identity" that makes them idealize repressive authorities in the hope that they will be rescued by the very people who are their tormentors.

Under such circumstances there cannot be an interior life that is able to protect us from that "abstract nakedness" of being human which Hannah Arendt (1973) spoke of. This nakedness is exposed when a true identity is prevented from developing and its place is taken by a false identity based on outer achievement, an identity that falls apart when the social context makes such achievement impossible.

The stranger is the real victim within us. The self has been distorted through being obedient, which makes it almost impossible to recognize what is really happening. Obedience, one could say, serves to subordinate oneself to the oppressor but also to disguise his deeds. In other words, obedience reinforces power, making it impossible to direct one's bottled-up rage against those who are responsible for it. But the rage is there as is the hatred for the victim in us, who must be rejected as foreign in order to accommodate those in power.

[..]

If a child finds no response in this "dance of the eyes," it is just as fear-inspiring as a physical threat. Murder is therefore not only a physical act but a psychic one as well.

When children are exposed to this kind of inner terror they must do everything possible to survive. This leads to what Ferenczi (1984) described in 1932 as the transformation of anxiety and terror into a feeling of security. This process originates in a social environment that allows adults to exploit children's dependence in order to advance their own feeling of self-worth and leads children to quickly reject their own feelings and perceptions for the sake of preserving their vitally essential bond with the care-giving adult. A child does this by submitting totally to the adult's expectations. Ferenczi puts it as follows:

"Children feel physically and morally helpless; their personality is not sufficiently consolidated for them to be able to protest even in their thoughts. The adult's overwhelming power and authority makes them mute, often robbing them of their senses. Yet their fear, when it reaches a peak of intensity, automatically forces them to submit to the will of the aggressor, to intuit and obey his every wish, to forget themselves entirely, to identify totally with the aggressor."

Such identification not only causes victims to ally themselves with their victimizers but to idealize them as well. In the eyes of the victim the victimizer appears to be a source of security. At the same time the victim begins to feel his or her pain as weakness because the victimizer forbids these feelings. If he were to become aware of his victim's pain, he would feel guilty. That is something the victimizer must avoid by inflicting further violence. Yet the pain and resulting rage persist in the victim, only this time the rage is turned against the self, which is now experienced as foreign. It is part of the normal process of adaptation to direct this rage against the external stranger. The ubiquity of this phenomenon determines the course of human history.

[..]

And so one passes on one's own victimization through the act of punishing the stranger out there, the one identified as being everything one has learned to hate in oneself. The result is what we characterize as normal behavior in our culture: the life-long attempt to gain control over the painful part of our nature - the part of us that we have lost and that keeps on making us feel impotent and helpless - by making victims of others in order to punish them for the pain we are not permitted to feel and for the victim in us that we are not allowed to be.
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.
There always seems to be two sides to a genius. Most people look at Jimi Hendrix as this amazing rock/blues musician, which he was. What people don't realize is Jimi Hendrix was probably the most humble musician to ever walk the face of the earth. He was a journey into the soul through the sounds of an instrument. If Jimi Hendrix grew up in today's age and messed around with electronic music the way he played guitar, all these dubstep assholes would bow. Jimi Hendrix didn't have much of an ego, that is what allowed him to become such an amazing musician.
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)
It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear. While such an economy may produce a sense of seeming prosperity for the moment, it rests on an illusionary foundation of complete unreliability and renders among our political leaders almost a greater fear of peace than is their fear of war.
Speech to the Michigan legislature, in Lansing, Michigan (15 May 1952)
I swear, you can predict the quality of a law as the inverse of how good the name sounds.

If this law were going to limit sex trafficking, it would have a name like "Revisions to the Prosecution of Certain Interstate Crimes". But no, it's got a big, gaudy name that poisons the well on any opposition whatsoever. So, predictably, it will either endanger innocents or restrict basic rights. It's like god damn clockwork.
I’ve yet to see any problem, however complicated, which when you looked at it the right way didn’t become still more complicated.
"Call Me Joe"
When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children to listen to people who fuckin' ROCKED! I don't care if they died in a puddle of their own VOMIT, I WANT SOMEONE WHO PLAYS FROM HIS FUCKIN' HEART! "Mommy! Mommy! The man Bill told me to listen to has a blood bubble on his nose" SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO HIM PLAY.
How about encouraging each community worldwide to plant more trees, thereby offsetting their carbon usage? I know the carbon gets released when the trees die or are burned but the tree biomass overall is what matters.

Cut down the trees and use their timber for building. Then repeat (trees grow to maturity in 15-25 years in my neck of the woods).

Concrete-based construction is popular because it is easy, fast and cheap, but the hidden costs are the massive associated emissions.

Timber by contrast is harder to work with, but locks the carbon into the building, which hopefully will remain standing for many decades.
We are all born originals - why is it so many of us die copies?
If, in Récoltes et Semailles I'm addressing anyone besides myself, it isn't what's called a "public". Rather I'm addressing that someone who is prepared to read me as a person, and as a solitary person. It's to that being inside of you who knows how to be alone, it is to this infant that I wish to speak, and no-one else. I'm well aware that this infant has been considerably estranged. It's been through some hard times, and more than once over a long period. It's been dropped off Lord knows where, and it can be very difficult to reach. One swears that it died ages ago, or that it never existed - and yet I am certain it's always there, and very much alive.
"The Life of a Mathematician - Reflections and Bearing Witness" (1986)
To state it in slightly different terms: in those critical years [roughly from age 17 to 20] I learned how to be alone.

This formulation doesn't really capture my meaning. I didn't, in any literal sense learn to be alone, for the simple reason that this knowledge had never been unlearned during my childhood. It is a basic capacity in all of us from the day of our birth. However these 3 years of work in isolation, when I was thrown onto my own resources, following guidelines which I myself had spontaneously invented, instilled in me a strong degree of confidence, unassuming yet enduring, in my ability to do mathematics, which owes nothing to any consensus or to the fashions which pass as law.

[..]

By this I mean to say: to reach out in my own way to the things I wished to learn, rather than relying on the notions of the consensus, overt or tacit, coming from a more or less extended clan of which I found myself a member, or which for any other reason laid claim to be taken as an authority. This silent consensus had informed me, both at the lyé and at the university, that one shouldn't bother worrying about what was really meant when using a term like "volume", which was "obviously self-evident", "generally known", "unproblematic", etc. I'd gone over their heads, almost as a matter of course, even as Lesbesgue himself had, several decades before, gone over their heads. It is in this gesture of "going beyond", to be something in oneself rather than the pawn of a consensus, the refusal to stay within a rigid circle that others have drawn around one - it is in this solitary act that one finds true creativity. All others things follow as a matter of course.
"The Life of a Mathematician - Reflections and Bearing Witness" (1986)
See, this is the thing that everyone knows and no one says. You follow the drugs, you get a drug case. You start following the money, you don't know where you're going. That's why they don't want wiretaps or wired C.I.s or anything else they can't control. Because once that tape starts rolling, who the hell knows what's going to be said?
"The Wire"
Having known so many people involved with Facebook for so long, I have come up with a phrase to describe the cultural phenomenon I’ve witnessed among them – ladder kicking. Basically, people who get a leg up from others, and then do everything in their power to ensure nobody else manages to get there. No, it’s not “human nature” or “how it works.” Silicon Valley and the tech industry at large weren’t built by these sorts of people, and we need to be more active in preventing this mind-virus from spreading.
Look, I’m stupid, all right? I’m not some brilliant person. I’m a little child. You know the emperor’s new clothes? I can see the naked emperor, just because I’m a little child-minded person. I’m not smart. I mean, good scientists are like that. They have the minds of children, to see through all this façade of all this other stuff that they know is stupid nonsense. They just don’t see it the way other people see it.
interview by Shirley K. Cohen (1995)
You could admit you were wrong.
You could apologize to your children.
You could slow down.
You could fasten your seat belt.
We don't know any perfected totalitarian power structure, because it would require the control of all of the planet. But we know enough about the the still preliminary experiments of total organization to realize that the very well possible perfection of this apparatus would get rid of human agency in the sense as we know it. To act would turn out to be superfluous for people living together, when all people have become an example of their species, when all doing has become an acceleration of the movement mechanism of history or nature following a set pattern, and all deeds have become the execution of death sentences which history and nature have given anyway.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft" p. 683
Tyranny is content with lawlessness; total terror replaces the fences of law and the lawfully established and orderly channels of human communication with its iron ring, which links everybody so tightly to everybody else that not only the space of freedom, as it exists in constitutional states between citizens, but even the desert of neighbourlessness and mutual suspicion disappears, so that it is as if everybody melted together into giant being of enormous proportions. This too does the for a totalitarian environment so well prepared vernacular express in its own way when it no longer speaks of "the" Russians or "the" French, but tells us what "the" Russian or "the" Frenchman wants.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft" p. 682
Humans, in so far as they are more than a completion of functions able to react, whose lowest and therefore most central are the purely animal like reactions, are simply superfluous for totalitarian systems. Their goal is not to erect a despotic regime over humans, but a system by which humans are made superfluous. Total power can only be achieved and guaranteed when nothing else matters except the absolutely controllable willingness to react, marionettes robbed of all spontaneity. Humans, precisely because they are so powerful, can only be completely controlled when they have become examples of the animal like species human.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft" p. 667
It's reasonable to some degree to expect that you keep your password secret. It's a different thing altogether to take information that is unavoidably known to lots of parties, or in many cases even outright essentially public info (like, stuff you can just buy as a database) as proof of identity, and then insist that you are legally responsible for a contract or whatever they made with someone who knew your date of birth or something.

It's really not much different than just throwing darts at a phone book, and then pretending that the fact they hit your name proves that you now have a contract with them ... no, it doesn't, and it's your fucking problem if you think it does.

1/5 of a degree C is not a "tiny amount".

Sure, it makes no difference to whether you want to put a sweater on, but that's not the point. The troposphere is vast, and 0.2 C represents an immense amount of kinetic energy, which in turn drives dramatic changes in circulation and precipitation patterns. You can get a sense for this by calculating how much energy an average of 0.2 C represents.

Start with this: how much does a cubic meter of air weigh? Have you ever thought about that? A cubic meter of dry air at sea level weighs about 2.7 pounds. How much energy does it take to raise 2.7 pounds of dry air by 0.2 degrees? It turns out you can look that kind of thing up. It takes about 245 joules.

Now take that 245 joules/m^3 and multiply it by the volume of the troposphere. As you recall from calculus, you can approximate this by taking the surface area of a sphere 6,371,000 meters in radius and multiplying by the troposphere's roughly 11 km height. You should end up with a figure on the order of magnitude of 10^18 joules.

Or you can think of that as being roughly the same as 20,000 Hiroshima sized bombs. Granted the density of air 10 km up is somewhat less, but we haven't factored in the gigatons of water vapor in the atmosphere. Or interactions with the oceans; most of the excess energy goes into the oceans, and that in turn affects climate in countless ways. That's how palm trees grow in Southern Britain, even though Cornwall's further north than Maine.

And yet... You just can't feel a 0.2C change. Then again you can't feel the Coriolis force either, but that can bend a subtle pressure gradient hundreds of miles long into a cyclone, a feat no human agency can resist, much less match.

Scale matters. If there's anything scientific and mathematical literacy should teach, it's that. That's why the future of the planet can't be trusted to a semi-literate ignoramus.
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.