node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
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.
Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, send in the Marines to secure the area" 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And, of course, the oil companies used the skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them, but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin', 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat, the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president.
"Good Will Hunting"
When I thought I had hit rock bottom, someone knocked from below.
No less insidious is the cry for 'revolution,' at a time when not even the germs of new institutions exist, let alone the moral and political consciousness that could lead to a basic modification of social life. If there will be a 'revolution' in America today, it will no doubt be a move towards some variety of fascism. We must guard against the kind of revolutionary rhetoric that would have had Karl Marx burn down the British Museum because it was merely part of a repressive society. It would be criminal to overlook the serious flaws and inadequacies in our institutions, or to fail to utilize the substantial degree of freedom that most of us enjoy, within the framework of these flawed institutions, to modify them or even replace them by a better social order. One who pays some attention to history will not be surprised if those who cry most loudly that we must smash and destroy are later found among the administrators of some new system of repression.
"American Power and the New Mandarins" (1969)
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
Since the end of human action, as distinct from the end products of fabrication, can never be reliably predicted, the means used to achieve political goals are more often than not of greater relevance to the future world than the intended goals.
Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
Millions of people have been longing for years for a chance to let certain perpetrators of jazz and alleged humor, and likewise a crooner or two know how 'rotten' their stuff is. And multitudes of fingers long have been itching to get at certain raucous-voiced ballyhooists, if not in one way then in another. Handy buttons as a part of the standard equipment of receiving sets should put many a counterfeit statesmen and professional hot air artist in his place; and, of course, they should be equally valuable as registers of sober, thoughtful public opinion. Will the public care for that sort of thing? Will they bother to use Dr. Hopkins' device if they get a chance, do you ask? Don't you like to tell 'em where to head in and get off?
A tiny electrical gadget, called the Radiovoter, may speed the time when a president of the United States may step before a microphone, ask a question of his radio listeners concerning some question of public policy and receive an immediate reply from millions. The question may be: "Do you want war?" or: "Shall we build more battleships?" Or: "Do you favor a larger appropriation for relief?" Whatever the question, every listener by means of the Radiovoter on the receiving set could flash an answer back.
No, no. It's ok to do that to the lower classes, because this keeps costs down, which lets the upper classes get more. This increase in wealth will eventually trickle down to the lower classes in the form of more shitty, underpaid jobs. Because, you know, companies just hire people out of the goodness of their hearts when they have more money. It has nothing to do with the level of demand at all.
If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.
We have 1 shot at this and it's now.

After what happened, the NSA will lock down everything and do everything to stop such a leak from ever happening again. The chance that we'll have other whistleblowers with Snowden's kind of scope 10 years from now or later is almost zero. The NSA knows the future of their incredible position of power is being questioned right now and they won't let that happen again.

There won't be another "you have a choice now, it's up to you" moment. If there won't be fundamental changes to our system, we and our children will have to live with drastic consequences. We'll be leading the entire World once again - 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Experiment IV

We were working secretly for the military
Our experiment in sound was nearly ready to begin
We only know in theory what we are doing
Music made for pleasure, music made to thrill

It was music we were making here until
They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It's a mistake in the making

From the painful cries of mothers to a terrifying scream
We recorded it and put it into our machine

They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It's a mistake in the making
It could feel like falling in love
It could feel so bad
It could feel so good
It could sing you to sleep

But that dream is your enemy
We won't be there to be blamed
We won't be there to snitch
I just pray that someone there can hit the switch

They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It's a mistake in the making

And the public are warned to stay off
When young one is confident to be able to build palaces for mankind, but when the time comes one has one's hands full just to be able to remove their trash.
Letter to Johann Kaspar Lavatar (March 6, 1780)
A few Hackernews suggest that AMP's feature set can be replicated with a "stop shoving every fucking possible line of javascript into every single pageload" approach, but they are quickly chloroformed and edited out of past Christmas photos.
The fallacy is to believe that under a dictatorial government you can be free inside. Quite a number of people console themselves with this thought, now that totalitarianism in one form or another is visibly on the up-grade in every part of the world. Out in the street the loudspeakers bellow, the flags flutter from the rooftops, the police with their tommy-guns prowl to and fro, the face of the Leader, four feet wide, glares from every hoarding; but up in the attics the secret enemies of the regime can record their thoughts in perfect freedom — that is the idea, more or less.
War, Fascism, concentration camps, rubber truncheons, atomic bombs, etc., are what we daily think about, and therefore to a great extent what we write about, even when we do not name them openly. We cannot help this. When you are on a sinking ship, your thoughts will be about sinking ships.
I am not shocked, I am making an observation. If I raise my voice it is because some people still don't know. This why I shout out loud. Judeo-Nazis do exist.

Faults

They came to tell your faults to me,
They named them over one by one;
I laughed aloud when they were done,
I knew them all so well before,—
Oh, they were blind, too blind to see
Your faults had made me love you more.
One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.
"The Origins of Totalitarianism"
The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
Awe is the Grail of artistic achievement. No other human emotion possesses such raw transformative power, and none is more difficult to evoke. Few and far between are the works of man that qualify as truly awesome.
One mistake people make is pretending that every choice we make is a hard one with no good answers. Sometimes there are good decisions and bad ones, and we end up making bad ones even when the good ones are obvious. We often see this happen with individuals, it shouldn't be too surprising that this happens with societies as well.

A few years back when I looked at solutions to "cooking this planet" that didn't involve anything that would cause much disruption to most people's lives. The reason we're not solving the problem isn't because of the hard choices we have to make. It's because a few industries that might make less money if we fight climate change try to stop efforts to combat it, politicians who get money from these industries say climate change is a hoax, the public at large is largely too apathetic to remove politicians who don't act, people who oppose all collective action oppose collective action to fight climate change, the media doesn't report on it because it doesn't get ratings, etc.

Could we have everyone's standards are close to the current standards enjoyed by developed countries without destroying the planet? Maybe, maybe not. It's insanely premature to pretend that we know it's impossible. Not only have we not seriously tried to solve the problem, but a large part of the U.S. is actively opposed to even stopping the problem. "There's no solution" is an easy way to absolve us from our failures.
Meaningful writing has a purpose beyond that of simple entertainment or of generating conversation. Its purpose is to improve society, to improve our life, by teaching us certain truths that the author has learned. John Ruskin puts it well in his essay on books, Of Kings' Treasuries, by saying that good books give us sight. By teaching us what to look for, and the value of those things, we learn to tell apart the good from the bad, to pass better judgements using our sharpened vision. We grow and become wiser. And that is the only sort of writing that ever improves us as people because all the rest, information and entertainment, it just passes by and leaves us in the same state that we are when we first come into contact with it.
I bought a seven dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.
It wasn't the "European banks" that got hurt from the mortgage-backed bunkum. They were made whole to the tune of 100 cents on the dollar. The people who are paying for it are the same ones that are paying for it over here. You and me. Our parents. Our kids.

They are creating a "breakaway" culture, who within decades will be the only ones with access to capital, to new technologies, to advanced health care. That's the ultimate effect of the dramatic increase in wealth disparity. Fifty years of this and they'll be as far ahead of the rest of us as the American settlers were of the Native Americans. When two cultures exist side-by-side and one is so far in advance of the other, it doesn't work out well for the ones on the bottom. We are seeing evolutionary branching based on wealth alone.
US leaders really are the masters in their field: They don’t even need an external scapegoat. Even when dummy Bush goes, and empties the (conveniently always kept full) villain closet, they just hold their two arms ("parties") up in the puppet theater, make the hand puppets act like enemies, and you fall for it, hook, line, sinker, fishing rod, fisherman and boat.

Then they point at the cloth hand puppets, and make you blame the puppets for what they did. Seriously, the level of delusion here only compares to North Korea.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
"Nineteen Eighty-Four"