Rebirth of Reason

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Post 0

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 11:17amSanction this postReply

Ed is certainly right that NASA has no business spending tax dollars on studies like this. However I had some fun with an idea for a study much like the one commissioned.  (Someone please let NASA know where to send me millions... it's a much better study!)


Motesharrei was close. He was nibbling away right next to the actual TRUTH.  (Not really... He was just working with the proper subjects: Resources and their Control).


He wrote that our society hasn’t long to live because of,  1.) "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity [of the Earth]” and 2.) “the economic stratification of society into Elites [the rich, of course] and Masses (or ‘Commoners’).”


And that “... accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels.”


He was just a bit blinded by the far-left talking points or else he would have seen the changes need to make his predictions true.


1.) The shift of resources from productive to non-productive hands will reach a tipping point. Resources freely employed in private economies will tend to produce ever larger surpluses, whereas resources taken from the private sectors and spent by governments will have a net negative effect. Thus there is a tipping point at which too much government involvement with existing resources, especially at too rapid a pace, will bring about an economic implosion. It is the attempt to continuely consume without producing that leads to starving.


2.) The stratification of society occurs in two dimensions: political and economic. The political stratification into elites with greater power to rule over the non-elites results in a marked decrease in soveriengty of the individual. This causes a corresponding decrease in economic motivation and human energy as well as diminished economic efficiency (see #1).  Sadly, this sets up as a positive feedback loop that drives this trend toward the tipping point where the resulting society will have all-powerful elites governing totally non-productive masses. Omnipotent dictators ruling over a zero economy where all starve.


So, the NASA study is right in one way. We are doomed if we don't grasp that how resources are controlled and how society is stratified are issues crucial to human survival.  The study is wrong in not grasping that liberty is the key to human flourishing and that the best use of resources has to arise from a free market. The doom that will strike us down will be caused by reaching a tipping point in the destruction of liberty by political elites demanding that they be in control instead of the free choices made by individuals.


Excellent article, Ed. Thanks.

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Post 1

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 4:32amSanction this postReply

Ed, what is your take on the role of government in detecting and preventing an inifinitesimally probable but infinitely devastating event such as a large asteroid impacting Earth?

Post 2

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 6:18pmSanction this postReply

Asteroid passes inside the orbit of the Moon.



A giant solar flare could have sent us back to the Dark Ages:



Myself, as a professional criminologist, I have objective arguments to support my claim that if protecting citizens is the duty of the police, then that includes warnings such as those.


However, at least one Objectivist here objects and would claim that if you are being eaten alive by red ants, the police have no duty to act because red ants are not volitional creatures and therefore they cannot violate your rights. (On the other hand, this self-identified Objectivist claims that the police have no right to stop a known felon who is loitering in front of a jewelry store because frisking him for the gun he is carrying violates the Second Amendment. Read about "Terry Stop.")

Post 3

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 7:02pmSanction this postReply



Here was a close one!

Post 4

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 1:06amSanction this postReply

However, at least one Objectivist here...

...this self-identified Objectivist claims...

So, what is this?  A guessing game?  Did you sign some sort of non-disclosure agreement?  Or are you all swollen up with fear that typing an actual name will end the world?

...if protecting citizens is the duty of the police, then that includes warnings such as those [about asteroids and giant solar flares].

The proper function of police is to enforce laws - laws which should be about protecting individual rights.  Government should fund and direct this function according to that principle.  Police use force as part of their job and that requires careful control of what they do, and of the guiding principles that drive them, and the policies that arise from that.  In the rare instances of a natural disaster of major proportions it makes sense to issue an ad hoc decision to use the police to help in organizing, notifying, and rescue, etc. (as well as dealing with rioting and looting).


As to the duty of a policeman who comes across someone being eaten alive by fire ants... the problem is in the use of the word "duty." There is a contractual relationship that we are talking about. For the police the bulk of their contractual duties is carried in the established departmental policies. And, again, those policies should come from the law enforcement activities appropriate to individual right protections. I'm guessing that their policies probably don't say anything about fire ants.

Only volitional creatures - other people - can violate your individual rights. That was made clear in Ayn Rand's description of individual rights and I agree with it. It doesn't mean that a cop coming along, is going to say, "Wow, too bad it isn't a mugger that's harming you, or I'd be able to help you." And I don't think that the cop would be disciplined or even criticized for helping.


I do think that it shouldn't be a designated policy that law enforcement people should be hired, trained and deployed for the general purpose helping. That isn't their job. We have firemen for fires, EMT people for medical emergencies, animal control people for mad dogs and such, cops for crimes, and if fire ants, asteroids and giant solar flares become very frequent occurances then maybe we'll make some changes... maybe we'd have some sort of private, insurance or subcription-based FEMA-like organization of helpers.


The argument of real worth in this area (as opposed to deciding how to handle fire ants and asteroids and such) is whether there is a moral duty to engage in altruistic general-purpose helping (not just bizarre events like coyote attacks and fire ants and such) and this duty-bound helping would be required of people who are in law enforcement. And if the answer is yes, then just how are those departmental policies written?  What does it include?  (Section 1123.45 Upon discovery of an ongoing attack of a pet cat being carried out by fire-ants, uniformed officers shall...)  I ask because there is an endless amount of potential helping that can be done.  I ask because how is it fair to tax people for what is potentially a near infinite demand for helping that doesn't relate to protecting individual rights? 



Seems to me like more fuzzy, purposeless, floating abstractions.

Post 5

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 5:29amSanction this postReply

Someone isn't presenting a logical arguement here!

Hint -  it isn't Steve!

What a surprise, oh hi Michael nice to see you even if your head is on Mars lol.  What's with the passive aggressive non naming game?

I'll be back later with popcorn. :)

Post 6

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 7:28amSanction this postReply

So while NASA is busy transcribing lefty porn these days, Space-X is not.


In the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo Moon program,  a massive national effort was made to put men on the Moon.  (about $3.5B/yr for ten years, on average.)


Paid for by whom?   Accomplished by whom?


If we remove the political cronyism and shed risk modelsm then ...who will pay for it, and who will accomplish it?


Can we even calculate the return on those dollars spent in terms of human effort and continued economic growth? 


In spite of our current national agendas, lack of agendas, and $4T overhead(ie, 4000 billion $) private initiatives to restore gradient have proceeded, struggling to literally climb out of a potential well, and are proceeding,picking up the slack of what even this nation and its government claims it needs to do (place assets into earth orbit)without any national agenda to continue to be able to do so, other than literally, pay the Russians and Chinese and others, and so on, to carry our freight into space, please. 


And while we watch China and India reclaim the technological high ground that we left 50 years ago, we are busy mainly with GM caddillac commercials thumping our chest about the glory days and reassurring ourselves that this time, it will be OK to be the Muslims and watch modernity sail away to the next New frontiers.


Steve, I'm still barely active in technical consulting.    It is a rout.   One by one, I've seen leading edge technical efforts remaining in the US get purchased by the Chinese.   They know what they are about.  Everytime I've seen an effort scramble for funding, they end up being owned by China.   They are down to the on line game companies, now, in gutting this nation of its technical core.    We are reduced to spinning our wheels in things like HFT in and around NYC, which is pure carcass carving.  The Chinese are buying the very last of the technological meat on the carcass.    We are decades late to respond to this.

SpaceX, the innovative spawn of innovative PayPal,  is currently scrambling for a new round of investment.   It is only a matter of time before the Chinese own that, too.


That's where this nation is.   It's not hard to imagine where it is going, and many have, quite well.


Such as Chang-Rae Lee's "On Such a Full Sea.".


Not with a bang, but a whimper, and they're laughing at us.  (I don't mean that Chang-Rae Lee is laughing at us; his tale is less about how we get where are going and more about life in that destination.)


An entire army of mofos singing Kumbaya is not going to change this calculus; an entire army of mofos singing Kumbaya is nowhere near calculus; that would be the other guys..


An entire army of mofos straining for decades to come to takeon running uphills might under models other than shed risk carcass carving..  


You see any hint of that army, charging up those hills any time soon?


Do you see even the slightest whisper, a hint of that army of individuals mustering?


I've been looking for reasons not to give up on this nation, based on its ideals.   I don't see signs of them anymore.  I see a gutted shell.


We are sitting in meetings with our tablets these days, tweeting about plastic dog poop when we should be focused up.  That's what I literally see when I walk around today's remaining conference rooms..


As a nation, we need to hit bottom before people do what people do when they hit bottom.   This nation isn't there yet.  We are still in the RoadRunner running in midair stage.


Funding NASA to write lefty porn is as good a national goal as any in this stage of history.





(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 4/03, 7:31am)

Post 7

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 7:39amSanction this postReply



As for solar flares and asteroids and such, let's all hope China strains hard enough and fast enough on their technological frontiers in time to save mankind, while we focus our remaining efforts on High Frequency Trading.


As well, if there is asteroid deflection technology developed on those someday tech highgrounds, let's hope that doesn't include delaying impact by 12 hours to send the right sized bad news where someone wants it.   Or, if it happens, that we'll be able to beg freight time in time to do somethiong about it ourselves; like, ask China to do something about it.





(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 4/03, 7:44am)

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Post 8

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 1:01pmSanction this postReply


An entire army of mofos straining for decades to come to take on running uphills might [reclaim our technological leadership] under models other than shed risk carcass carving.

Sadly, I tend to think more in generations, rather than decades.  I think the generational time-frame is the one required for the changes needed to fix the culture such that we would be sufficiently educated and energized to pursue Capitalist risk-based carcass building. Then after those generations, it would be decades, as you mention, to bring those goals into being.


I've been looking for reasons not to give up on this nation, based on its ideals. I don't see signs of them anymore. I see a gutted shell.

It is a matter of separating out the good from the bad.  More and more of the nation goes in the "Gone bad" bin.  But those initial ideals don't change - they are timeless.  It is segments of the nation that have left them and not the other way around.  It might sound like some kind of silly glass half-full platitude, but it isn't. When the nation is a gutted shell, it will still have some people, like you and me, and the glory moments of its history, and it's extraordinary beginning - all that are good. I won't leave that small corner because it gives me strength and it is the right place to stand. Those of us that see what's happening have but three choices: Join the parasites by blanking out any sense of morality (not a possiblity for us), sink into a pit of despair over how great and how pointless the loss is and grow bitter, or stand strong by the vision of what we were, and what could be. That last position is the one lets me stay strong no matter how far the nation sinks.


(I suspsect that all of this is an easier path for me, because I don't have kids who are unfairly being saddled with so much less of a future, and because I'm going sailing - my personal fuck-you to the parasites, which is easier since I'm not working away at a career.  Sorry to hear about the hit your career is taking - the idea that there isn't a waiting list for your services is a frightening sign of how bad things are.)


As a nation, we need to hit bottom before people do what people do when they hit bottom.

I agree. I don't see anything on the visible horizon that could even start us on the generations long change in cultural direction which much proceed the decades long practice of running uphill. Nothing but the horror of hitting the bottom - hard. And even then, some people will try to practice all those things that sent of over the cliff - just doubling down and doing them harder. It is yet to be seen as to whether the other view - the view of liberty and capitalism and a ferocious rejection of parasitism and its forced associations will be the one that determines the new direction.

Post 9

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply

It is people like you and Fred that make me smile, just like modern day Silver Eagles.

Post 10

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 7:11amSanction this postReply



There are still lots of 'opportunities' in this nation; that isn't my concern.


My concern is, watching the nature of those opportunities change over time; it is appalling to see what this nation is doing with our efforts on a shed-risk basis, mainly because -- enabled by -- our acceptance of shed-risk models in our economies.   It is the source of our rot..


I shudder at the increasingly vapid nature of the available work these days in this nation..


We make alot of bitmaps dance in the service of little.


Pony shows for SBIR contractors pretending to fulfill contracts, putting on shows for government POCs pretending to care, paid for by you and me.


Really cool immersive 3D worlds with embedded registered live full motion video... entertaining tools of a government watching its own people using quadrotor mounted video cameras over metropolitican areas.  The open stack Lockheed-Martin Audacity lit reassuringly shows the world a big assed Global Hawk UAV, but they arent using Predator's or Reapers, they are using tiny quadrotors, curiously, not limited to wide area surveillance from far overhead, but developed to work close in, down to ground level.  Window level.


Filling an insatiable number of channels of distraction with eye catching gibberisn while we build complex ad traffic management systems to focus directly on the medullah oblongata of the blobs within reach.


High Frequency Trading.  Seriously?.   It is just unsigthly. 


Over a lifetime of this rot, the same process of running mainly downhill has been called many things.


Smartly never risk your own money.


Style over substance.   All sizzle, no steak.   Look good, dont be good.  Cover of PAW this week is some nonsense over 'the power pose.'    Excel(short term analysis aimed at this quarter) over excellence(long term analysis).


Growth as a goal, not as a consequence of reaching for higher goals.


The ... manner in which our government spends the nation's wealth.  The most innefficient and costly scheme of human effort imaginable.  Bleeding the nation dry; exactly the reason that, increasingly over time, the majority of remaining efforts tend to be the worst imaginabe dross, somehow subsidized by the free-for-some flowing out of the swamps in DC.


The result?  A gutted nation, ripe for the taking, and the Chinese, for example, long have.   They knew what to go after.  Long ago,  more than a dozen years ago, the necessary tool maker companies that built the s/w tooling for deep sub-micron technology were quietly bought up by China.    Wait a minute; based on modern conflict, these are practically strategic assets, and -poof.-  Part of a process that continues today, only by now, they are down to buying up the on line gaming companies, and so on.  Like, picking over the bones one last time.  SpaceX scrambling for investment capital.    You know China is going to at least try.


We've got better things to focus on.  Like that little cul de sac of skimming value proxies we got going, High Frequency Trading.    Say, do you think we could start listing stock prices to the third decimal place, so we could squeeze yet more out of all the churn?   Because we're getting really good at what we do, which is indeed, as those decimal places move out, approaching nothing.


It is possible to be busy doing nothing worth doing these days--as long as the bill is being paid by others, far over the horizon..


I used to be proud of what I did; those are the opportunities that are waning in these end game times.















Post 11

Friday, April 4, 2014 - 10:24amSanction this postReply



Wow.... now I'm depressed.  Nope.  I'm still going sailing.

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Post 12

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 1:29pmSanction this postReply

Hi folks! Sorry I've been away from the discussion.


To start with Luke's question, I would argue that a city- or civilzation-killing astroid or comet hitting the Earth would be something that single individuals could not protect against and that it would be a valid concern for government. It is an open question about what resources should be devoted to detection--there already are some programs in place--and prevention.

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