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The Real Significance of WikiLeaks

November 30, 2010 13 comments

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you might have heard or read about “WikiLeaks” and “Julian Assange”. Though many people have diverse opinions about that website and his motives, they are missing the real significance of WikiLeaks.

We never had anything comparable to WikiLeaks in recorded history. Imagine a decentralized, inexpensive, easy to setup/update/maintain system which can disseminate leaked digital information to anybody who has the curiosity to find out. While there have been whistleblower websites and blogs for years, they were largely individual efforts with a very ephemeral existence and limited readership.

What makes WikiLeaks different is scale, timing and supporting technology. Let me break that down.

The scale of effort behind WikiLeaks is far bigger than an individual or even a small group. The scope, organization and distribution of WikiLeaks is transnational and will survive the loss of all its founding members. The wiki format has done to reference information what wordpress has done to blogging, or google to searching for websites. Even the death of its founder will not stop the juggernaut, as concepts often outlive their creator. Many religious and secular movements were started by people who were either willing or accidental martyrs.

The timing of such efforts is also crucial, as it comes at a time where a significant percentage of younger people have lost all faith in the old ways. This is one of the more overlooked reason behind WikiLeaks having a far bigger impact today than in the pre-2008 world. Given the general direction of things, disenchantment with the status quo can only pick up steam.

The price and availability of supporting technology is another overlooked factor. Note that most of these leaks have been in information dense formats such as ASCII text and pictures. The know how, technology and hardware to encrypt, decrypt, store, disguise and distribute such information is inexpensive and intimately tied to our way of life. Anybody with a 200-400 dollar smartphone, tablet or laptop can access, read, store and distribute information at will.

Technologies to enable lateral spread of information such as facebook, twitter, e-mail, blogs, micro blogs, cheap VOIP etc remove many of the older constraints against such spread. Moreover, most younger people now get their info from web based sources as opposed to censorious intermediaries like the MSM.

Some techy morons, including a retard from MIT, predict that they can stop such leaks. However these clever morons don’t get one property of information (as opposed to content). If someone can read it, see it, transfer it, back it up or send it to someone-it can be copied and unlike entertainment related content, low quality copies are as valuable and useful as high fidelity copies.

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Stuff That CONservatives Cannot Comprehend: 1

November 30, 2010 9 comments

I am making this old post sticky for a couple of days.

CONservatives seem to live in a bygone world, and operate under assumptions that might have been workable one hundred years ago. Let me illustrate that point with a few examples.

CONservatives believe: “We could have won the Vietnam war, if only we were more brutal (like the good old days)”.

However there was no chance that the US could have won the Vietnam war and survived for a significant length of time after that.

Reasons:

1] African tribes in the late 19th century used stone age weapons to fight against white colonial armies with rifles and machine guns. The average vietcong was far closer to the average american soldier, as far as weapons, tactics and training was concerned.

2] The US was fighting an enemy that could blend in the local population, and had no compunctions about using every single vulnerability of the US war machine against them. The US attitude and knowledge of their enemy was fragmentary at best, and they did not have an overwhelming technological edge.

3] Use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam would have all but ensured that many other countries would quickly obtain them, and use them against the US – if they ever felt threatened. This is something that CONservatives rarely talk about.

4] The Vietnamese were willing to fight to the bitter end, but the average US soldier wanted to leave ASAP. A country with little to offer except rain, mud, malaria, constant ambushes and hookers could not motivate men to fight.

5] Campaigns that require long logistic trails and expensive equipment will bankrupt the more developed side first. This is a lesson that CONservatives have not yet learned.

Did I also mention that the Vietcong had a lot of help from the Chinese and Russians?

6] Photos, magazines, films were not widespread in the ‘good’ old days. Pictures of people being executed in the street and naked burnt girls running hurt the cause of waging war. This is even more so now than in the 1960s, where multiple channels of information make average people doubt the words of their leaders even more.

Any attempt at the scenario referenced in 3] would have guaranteed that every single american would be seen in the same light as certain fascist regimes in the 1930s. People forget that use of atomic weapons on Japan (during ww2) was much easier because it had an absolutely horrible record of treating non-Japanese. People did not care about the fate of those (japanese) who had murdered and tortured millions of innocent people (chinese, korean, filipino).

But reality and reason have no representations in the CONservative mind or worldview.

Comments?

PS: Reread point 3] to understand the true implications and guaranteed blowback from using nukes on non-nuke possesing entities.

A Note for Morons: Nov 30, 2010

November 30, 2010 8 comments

Many morons like to tell others that the world experienced most of its true growth prior to the “new deal” and socialism.

I have a suggestion-

Look at the fucking photos from that era. Read the fucking newspapers, pamphlets and memoirs from that era.

Most people in that “glorious” era had a standard, and quality, of life that would be unacceptable to a slave worker in a chinese prison in 2010. Yes, it was that bad!

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The Death of Capitalism Version 4

November 30, 2010 3 comments

We are currently witnessing the slow death of capitalism version 4 (and its various sub- versions, regional variants, updates and packages). Before I say anything more about this version, let me briefly describe the first three versions.

Version 1: Coincided with the start of the industrial revolution (early 1800s). The idea was to steal, rape and plunder whatever you could get away with and still pretend to be civilized.

Version 2: Could be said to have started in the 1880s-early 1900s. In this version, workers gradually saw an increase in their benefit from the system with some restraint on the worst aspects of capitalism 1.0

Version 3: Existed from the 1930s-1980s. This version was a socialistic interpretation of capitalism and produced a massive improvement in the lifestyle of people. But it succumbed to sclerotic holdovers from version 2.0, greed and racism to create version 4

Version 4: Started with various neo-conservative revolutions in the 1980s. Based on made up numbers, legalism, ponzi schemes, colorful projections, graphs and the FIRE economy- it can be seen as an attempt to revive capitalism version 1 or 2. It “worked” as long as the demographic and technological inertia from capitalism version 3 was present. Now those factors are gone..

The unpleasant reality that faces most people stems from their belief in version 1, 2 and 4. While these versions appear reasonable, they are based on a zero sum world view that has become both obsolete and dangerous due to technological progress. The only worthwhile general direction for the future involves using a considerably reworked update of version 3 as the starting point. The other versions and updates derived from them have no future.

As I have said before, those who stand to benefit from any version of 1, 2 or 4 (or their updates) will try hard to block the inevitable. However no significant social change has ever occurred without most of the old system ending up dead. I have a feeling that we are going to get there, one way or the other.

Comments?

How Reality Shifts Change Options

November 29, 2010 6 comments

Of late, I have seen a spate of articles that condemn grad school and urge people to “do something better”. While there is little doubt that obtaining a PhD on english literature from the 10-12th century AD is unlikely to get you a ‘real job’, even an engineering degree from an ivy league institution will NOT stop you from being downsized, in your late 40s. While an academic career in any university today is a bad career choice, so is getting a law degree from a good but ‘not so famous’ law school. Even the so-called safe career choices such as medicine and nursing WILL be far less lucrative than today due to technological progress and inability to pay doctors at the current levels.

Note that I am not suggesting you to restrict yourself to a grad students stipend, as there are fairly easy ways to increase your income by atleast 1 k a month over your measly stipend (undeclared part-time jobs+conventional very-low interest lines of credit+part-time projects). When I did my PhD, my effective income was a few grand shy of the median national income.

So let us now talk about some of the unmentionable aspects of our current setup/system.

1] No degree or livelihood is safe over a normal human life expectancy.

Any person who is looking for a stable life long career or livelihood might as well be looking for the philosopher’s stone. There is no way to identify a career that will be around, let alone remain lucrative, a decade from now.

2] Even if the career is around, you might be discarded.

Your ability, skills or competence have NO relationship to your employability. Get it? You could be the best, most knowledgeable person in your department and you WILL still be laid off because on market fads, HR policies, analyst recommendations and the machinations of some ass kisser.

3] The whole “growing up” and “responsibility” thing is overrated.

Do you crave a loveless marriage, horrible divorce, post-divorce property issues, nagging wife, bratty kids, paying child support and buying ever bigger houses to satisfy the aging hag you are married to? Want to work and worry yourself to an early death? and for what?

Do you want to sample the joys of interacting with home owner associations, condo associations, bylaw officers, realtors, community groups and all that shit? go ahead..

4] Your kids WILL be useless in your old age.

Even if you are on good terms with them- what are the chances that they will live in the same city, let alone the same state? Do you think they will take care of you… ya sure. The most important reason to have kids is no longer valid.

5] Your earnings are meaningless.

Unless your job pays over a quarter of million before taxes, you have little chance of saving enough money to make a difference. How many jobs pay at that level? The majority of people with low 6-figure jobs are barely treading water, and one nasty illness or adverse life event could fuck up all their gains.

The home equity engine is dead. Inflation, pension plan failure and wealth management schemes can all destroy your so-called financial future in short order.

6] Unemployment is no longer a short-term phenomenon.

If your job involves any degree of specialization (even with a bachelor’s degree), getting an equivalent job after being laid off is much harder than a decade ago. Jobs that paid you 100k for the last twenty years could be gone forever within 3 months, and you may never get an similar job.

Hey, do you really want to retrain for another career when you are 55 years old?

7] Personal social relationships are essentially worthless.

There was a time (until the early 1990s) when having good social relationships and status among your peers meant something and had some utility. In earlier eras having peer approval was actually useful.

Can you really say that today, and will it improve? Today online relationships have far more utility than real life relationships.Smartphones and social networking sites/software has accelerated this process.

While graduate school is not a great option, the “better” options have progressively become equally shitty.

Comments?

An Interesting Link: Nov 29, 2010

November 29, 2010 6 comments

In case you have been living under a rock for the last month, here is a link to the Wikipedia page on Julian Assange

Now here is a link to some of his pre-fame views. IQ.ORG

One particular article, written by him about 3 odd years ago, caught my attention.
—-
Sat 09 Jun 2007 : The United what of America?

It has been frequently noted that many corporations exceed nation states in GDP. It has been less frequently noted that some also exceed them in population (employees). But it is odd that the comparison hasn’t been taken further. Since so many live in the state of the corporation, let us take the comparison seriously and ask the following question. What kind of states are giant corporations? In comparing countries, after the easy observations of population size and GDP, it is usual to compare the system of government, the major power groupings and the civic freedoms available to their populations.

Very few people dare ask that question, even to themselves.

The corporation as a nation-state has the following properties:

* Suffrage (the right to vote) does not exist except for land holders (“share holders”) and even there voting power is in proportion to land ownership.
* All executive power flows from a central committee. Female representation is almost unknown.
* There is no division of powers. There is no forth estate. There are no juries and innocence is not presumed.
* Failure to submit to any order can result in instant exile.
* There is no freedom of speech. There is no right of association. Love is forbidden without state approval.
* The economy is centrally planned.
* There is pervasive surveillance of movement and electronic communication.
* The society is heavily regulated and this regulation is enforced, to the degree many employees are told when, where and how many times a day they can go to the toilet.
* There is almost no transparency and something like the FOIA is unimaginable.
* The state has one party. Opposition groups (unions) are banned, surveilled or marginalized whenever and wherever possible.


He has nailed it!

These large multinationals, despite having a GDP and population comparable to Belgium, Denmark or New Zealand have nothing like their quality of civic freedoms. Internally they mirror the most pernicious aspects of the 1960s Soviet. This even more striking when the civilising laws of region the company operates in are weak (e.g West Pupua or South Korea). There one can see the behavior of these new states clearly, unobscured by their surroundings.

Many who have worked in large companies would agree with that comparison.

If small business and non-profits are eliminated from the US, then what’s left? Some kind of federation of Communist states. A United Soviet of America.

His point is hard to refute.
—–

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NSFW Links: Nov 29, 2010

November 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes, these links are NSFW.

Laila from FemJoy: Irresistible NekkidCuties

Laila from FemJoy: Irresistible Nudie Cuties

Self Shots: Nov 28, 2010 NekkidCuties

Self Shots: Nov 28, 2010 Nudie Cuties

Enjoy!

Categories: Uncategorized

An Old Photo of JFK: Nov 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 5 comments

Saw this picture of JFK in a post on gizmodo.com.

Would you ever see a scene like this in our age?

Comments?

Phoniness and North America: 1

November 28, 2010 9 comments

One of the most widespread and persistent comments made by immigrants about “native” white North Americans (including Canadians) and Australians/ New Zealanders is-

They are phony.

People from places as diverse as Russia, Ukraine, India, Jamaica, Argentina and even England share that view about these groups. While other dislikeable people like Japanese, Swiss, French may be seen as racist, greedy and rude or Scandinavians may be seen as passive-aggressive, it seems that phoniness is a uniquely new world phenomena.

So what makes phoniness worse than other negative attributes?

Phony is another word for untrustworthy. Societies with large numbers of untrustworthy individuals are intrinsically unstable. Some of you might say- “so what? it has worked till now.”

There are two major interlinked reasons that it has worked till now- population growth and technological progress have kept the struggle for resources to a minimum. Untrustworthiness becomes a huge liability once the struggle for resources becomes intense.

I have a feeling that comments on this post will necessitate another post in this series.

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NSFW Links: Nov 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 1 comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Would You Sell Your Soul?

November 27, 2010 14 comments

I am an atheist, but have often wondered about one question.

 

Who is more likely to keep their end of the contract- the devil or your employer, spouse or government. And who offers the bigger payout?

Disturbing thought, isn’t it?

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A Morbid Thought: Nov 27, 2010

November 27, 2010 3 comments

I have noticed that every time an entity, such as a government or large company, does something unfair there are many morons who will defend such actions.

Ever wondered-

What is in it for them?

These morons almost always derive no benefit, financial or otherwise, from supporting such behavior. Often they suffer at a later date because of the very actions they had once supported. So.. why do it?

It comes down to perceived profit.

If a person believes that an action might benefit him, or destroy his competition, he will support it. He might even invoke morality, law or other similar BS to justify it.

So, how do you solve this problem-

Find all possible ways and means to screw over such people and their kids, with the same logic. Show no mercy whatsoever, because they do not have any capacity to reciprocate.

There is no wrong in screwing them over with the same logic they apply to others. So engineers who support corporate laws deserve to rot and die on the street once they lose their job. Scientists and academics who defend processes of institutional operation, should not be helped if those same processes eventually destroy their jobs or livelihoods. Small business owners who quote Ayn Rand should never be assisted against large corporation monopoly. Those who support government interference in the personal lives of people and tough on crime policies should be sodomized with the same measures they want to apply to others. Old white people who do not support “welfare” for non-whites, might want to find alternatives for their own living and healthcare costs.

You cannot change people, but you can facilitate their final exit. No pity, help or basic human decency for the self-righteous.

How can you receive when you have demonstrated an inability to reciprocate?

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NSFW Links: Nov 26, 2010

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

A Frequently Overlooked Oddity of Dinosaur Extinction

November 26, 2010 1 comment

This post is somewhat off topic from what I usually write about, but I have asked this question to myself for years.

Why did toothed dinosaurs (conventional dinosaurs) become extinct at the K/T boundary while toothless dinosaurs (birds) pull through.

This question is far more complicated than most people realize or paleontologists are willing to admit. Though the more well-known toothed dinosaur species were huge, many species of agile, bipedal dinosaurs in the putative adult weight range of 5-150 kg existed. Moreover there were cold weather and darkness adapted conventional dinosaurs in Antarctica.

So why are no toothed dinosaurs around today? This anomaly is especially troubling as the first 15 million years after the extinction of toothed dinosaurs was marked by the rise of terror birds. These creatures were huge bipedal predatory birds that resembled small to medium-sized dinosaurs with one exception- they had no teeth but a massive beak.

While paleontologist try to portray them as a South-American phenomena, they were far more widespread in the first few million years after the K/T event.

The age of terrestrial mammals truly began 20 million years after toothed dinosaurs became extinct. And what happened to toothed birds anyway?

Comments?

Why Bad Things Happen

November 26, 2010 3 comments

Religions, both traditional and secular, spend considerable effort trying to explain why “bad things happen to good people”.

Here is a more mathematical explanation-

Because it can happen! Every possible interaction, event or chance in this universe has a non-zero chance of occurring. It may be very large or very small, but the probability never goes away.

You can reduce the probability of an event occurring, or design systems to be resilient towards most common modes of failure- but you simply cannot account for every single possible mode of failure.

There is no god who listens to your prayers (or cares about you), only probability which you can alter within finite limits. Luck (chance) helps..

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