node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
Q: What do you think of the “deniers,” the guys who make good money and love to buy nice things but refuse to admit they are yuppies?

A: A bitchin’ tattoo can’t hide your inner desire to be Donald Trump.
When daily life requires turning a blind eye to the falsity of countless things we’re told, it weakens the power of language to sort truth from fiction.
So what I’m proposing is that finance, and indeed consumer Internet companies and all kinds of other people using giant computers, are trying to become Maxwell’s demons in an information network. The easiest way to understand it is to think about an insurance company. So an American health insurance company, before big computing came along, would hire actuaries to set rates. But the idea of, on a person-by-person basis, attempting to decide who should be in the plan so that you could only insure the people who need it the least on an individual basis, that wasn’t really viable. But with big computing and the ability to compute huge correlations with big data, it becomes irresistible. And so what you do is you start to say, "I’m going to..." — you’re like Maxwell’s demon with the little door — "I’m going to let the people who are cheap to insure through the door, and the people who are expensive to insure have to go the other way until I’ve created this perfect system that’s statistically guaranteed to be highly profitable.”

And so what’s wrong with that is that you can’t ever really get ahead. What you’re really doing then is you’re radiating waste heat. I mean, for yourself you’ve created this perfect little business, but you’ve radiated all the risk, basically, to the society at large. And if the society was infinitely large and could absorb it, it would work. There’s nothing intrinsically faulty about your scheme except for the assumption that the society can absorb the risk. And so what we’ve seen with big computing in finance is a repeated occurrence of people using a big computer to radiate risk away from themselves until the society can’t absorb it. And then there’s some giant bailout and some huge breakage. And so it happened with Long-Term Capital [Management] in the ’90s. It happened with Enron, and we saw a repeat of it in the events leading to the Great Recession in the late aughts. And we’ll just see it happening again and again until it’s recognized that this pattern is just not sustainable.
Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria [Government limo] sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If... if... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more — we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure!
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.
How odd I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.
Work on whatever your current priority is, after an hour of meta reasoning but not a year of meta reasoning. If you’re still like, “No, no, we must think more meta” after a year, then I don’t believe you’re the sort of person who will ever act.
Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men.
Too clever is dumb.
People are always talking about looking for the meaning of life, when what they're really looking for is a deep experience of life.
I’m surprised how indifferent so many feel about the US surveillance scandal. Look up Germany’s history. I have spoken to people who lived in Nazi and Eastern Socialist Germany - the spying on your life by the State is one thing, but what it does to your friends and family in the long run is beyond anything you can imagine right now. You lose trust in people you love, every conversation becomes half lie/ half truth. It becomes part of EVERYBODY’s lives. Nobody is an exception. Ignore music, games or whatever you do right now and research the topic.
It is such a splendid sunny day and I have to go.
If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.
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!
To the amalgamation of politicals and criminals, with which the concentration camps began both in Germany and Russia, soon a third element is added, which would soon form the majority of all inmates. This largest group consisted of people who hadn't done anything that stood in any rational relation to their imprisonment, be it in their own mind or in that of their torturers. Without them the camps could have have existed, that is, they would not have survived the first years of the regime.

[..]

These in every sense innocent people do not just form the majority of all the camp population, they also are those, which finally were "exterminated" in German gas chambers. Only on them could the murder of the juridical person be performed so completely that they could be "processed", without names, deeds or misdeeds, by which they could have been recognized, in the mass factories of death, which just because of their sheer capacity could not take individual cases into account anymore. (A Jew for example, who had done a "crime" against the Nazi regime, didn't even get put in there in the first place, they were shot or beaten to death right away.) From the beginning the gas chambers were not intended as means to intimidate or punish; they were intended for Jews or Gypsies or Poles "in general", and they served to prove, that humans in general are superfluous.

[..]

While the separation of inmates into categories was merely a tactical-organisatory measure for the the purpose of administration of the camps, the arbitrariness of committal demonstrates the essential principle of the institution as such. The existance of a political opposition is just a pretext for the concentration camp system, and its purpose is not achieved when the population more or less voluntarily conforms as consequence of the most monstrous deterrence, that is, to give up its political rights. The arbitrariness has the purpose to deprive those under the totalitarian regime of all their rights as citizens, which finally become as outlawed [vogelfrei] in their own country as otherwise only the stateless and homeless. The deprivation of humans of their rights, the killing of the juridical person in them is just a precondition of their being totally controlled, for which even voluntary agreement is a hindrance. *[Related to that is the fact that all propaganda and ["Weltanschauungslehre"] was expressly forbidden in the camps. (also see Himmler, "Wesen und Aufgabe der SS und der Polizei"). And together with this in turn it has to be considered that that teaching and propaganda was also not allowed for the guarding elite formations; their Weltanschauung was not to be "teached", but "exercized" (see Robert Ley)]*. And this is not just the case for special categories of criminals, political enemies, Jews, on which it was tested [first], but for every citizen of a totalitarian country.
"Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft", S. 658 ff.
Thing is, just like with code, you write good comments by throwing away bad ones. The writing of the bad ones is not optional.
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.
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. [..] But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

Blight

Give me truths;
For I am weary of the surfaces,
And die of inanition. If I knew
Only the herbs and simples of the wood,
Rue, cinquefoil, gill, vervain and agrimony,
Blue-vetch and trillium, hawkweed, sassafras,
Milkweeds and murky brakes, quaint pipes and sun-dew,
And rare and virtuous roots, which in these woods
Draw untold juices from the common earth,
Untold, unknown, and I could surely spell
Their fragrance, and their chemistry apply
By sweet affinities to human flesh,
Driving the foe and stablishing the friend,--
O, that were much, and I could be a part
Of the round day, related to the sun
And planted world, and full executor
Of their imperfect functions.
But these young scholars, who invade our hills,
Bold as the engineer who fells the wood,
And traveling often in the cut he makes, 
Love not the flower they pluck, and know it not,
And all their botany is Latin names.
The old men studied magic in the flowers,
And human fortunes in astronomy,
And an omnipotence in chemistry,
Preferring things to names, for these were men,
Were unitarians of the united world,
And, wheresoever their clear eye-beams fell,
They caught the footsteps of the SAME. Our eyes
And strangers to the mystic beast and bird,
And strangers to the plant and to the mine.
The injured elements say, 'Not in us;'
And haughtily return us stare for stare.
For we invade them impiously for gain;
We devastate them unreligiously,
And coldly ask their pottage, not their love.
Therefore they shove us from them, yield to us
Only what to our griping toil is due;
But the sweet affluence of love and song,
The rich results of the divine consents
Of man and earth, of world beloved and lover,
The nectar and ambrosia, are withheld;
And in the midst of spoils and slaves, we thieves
And pirates of the universe, shut out
Daily to a more thin and outward rind,
Turn pale and starve. Therefore, to our sick eyes,
The stunted trees look sick, the summer short,
Clouds shade the sun, which will not tan our hay,
And nothing thrives to reach its natural term;
And life, shorn of its venerable length,
Even at its greatest space is a defeat,
And dies in anger that it was a dupe;
And, in its highest noon and wantonness,
Is early frugal, like a beggar's child;
Even in the hot pursuit of the best aims
And prizes of ambition, checks its hand,
Like Alpine cataracts frozen as they leaped,
Chilled with a miserly comparison
Of the toy's purchase with the length of life.
We have a responsibility, we know. That’s how Berlin became the freest city that I go to because we know, because we have a responsibility, because we remember, because we have been on both sides of the wall. That must not be lost now. If we forget, no other forgetting will ever happen. Everything will be remembered. Everything you read, all through life, everything you listened to, everything you watched, everything you searched for.

Surely we can pass along to the next generation a world freer than that. Surely we must. What if we don’t?

What will they say when they realize that we lived at the end of a thousand years of struggling for freedom of thought. At the end, when we had almost everything, we gave it away, for convenience, for social networking. Because Mr. Zuckerberg asked us to. Because we couldn’t find a better way to talk to our friends. Because we loved the beautiful pretty things that felt so warm in the hand. Because we didn’t really care about the future of freedom of thought, because we considered that to be someone else’s business. Because we thought it was over. Because we believed we were free. Because we didn’t think there was any struggling left to do. That’s why we gave it all away.

Is that what we're gonna tell them?

Free thought requires free media. Free media requires free technology. We require ethical treatment when we go to read, to write, to listen and to watch. Those are the hallmarks of our politics. We need to keep those politics until we die. Because if we don’t, something else will die. Something so precious that many, many of our fathers and mothers gave their life for it. Something so precious, that we understood it to define what it meant to be human; it will die.
If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
"A Farewell to Arms"
We don't hate; we're just indifferent. Same result, less effort.
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.
You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
 They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
 And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
 By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
 And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
 It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
 And don't have any kids yourself.
"This Be The Verse"
Pleasure is a by-product of doing something that is worth doing. Therefore, do not seek pleasure as such. Pleasure comes of seeking something else, and comes by the way.
The greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.
"On Evil"
The push for electronic medical records has nothing to do with the delivery of quality health care….it has everything to do with control.