Thursday, July 30, 2009

What to govern an information society?

In Texas, when I fail to casually express agreement with someone's expression of a conservative shibboleth, my less tactful friends and acquaintances will often interrogate me about my political views. Recently, some conservative friends of mine, still bitter and resentful from the 2008 election, have asked me if I still lean to the conservative side of political issues in general or not: "You aren't a liberal now, are you?" and, "You didn't vote for Obama, did you?"

Who I vote for is not your business.

Of my government I demand representation and reject constituency pandering. Political activism and party-alignment is just as filthy and foul as media bias, thinly-veiled bribery by lobbyists of public officials, and long-term office holders.

The other day someone said to me, "Everybody wants to think of themselves as independent." His point was that nobody is ever entirely free from bias or from the influence of their world or political views on their expressions and decisions.

Conservatives mostly insist that when it comes down to brass tax, everyone picks one side of an issue, and eventually their political bias is revealed. The notion that anyone can be without bias is a myth, to conservatives. This is a delusion -- the result of an egocentric refusal to set aside one's own selfish convictions and see the world from other perspectives. Of course many people let their political views affect their judgment, but this cannot be true of everyone. There are many who refuse to champion, let alone settle for, a single side of an issue or parrot the go-to focus group study conclusions paid for by political think-tanks, and instead choose to consider multi-faceted solutions that work under a myriad of circumstances for more than one group of people. Real-world social-economic problems rarely have a single best solution and yet our current system insists upon it and segregates those who suggest otherwise and labels them spoilers, "third-party" candidates, dark horses, independents.

Our political system is broken, so I reject it. You should too, and demand an actual meritocratic democracy. This of course requires metrics and endless careful and costly analysis and monitoring of the results of government programs and initiatives. Political theory is great, but until there are actual studies, experiments, and data, it's just some schmuck's fantasy.

Attempting to clarify what it is that I mean by "meritocratic democracy", a conservative friend of mine has asked me, "So, no electing presidents because they are black, right?" He had obviously bought into the conservative editorial rhetoric that Obama has been elected as the President simply because of the color of his skin. This is an employment of a logical fallacy known as a red herring, and it is a common tactic of the conservative media. The question is a leading one, and is designed to divert attention from the plenitude of good reasons why Obama might have been elected President other than his ethnic heritage.

Perhaps voters were fed up with a President who unprecedentedly expanded the power of the executive branch. Perhaps the American people were weary of a President who went to war without consent from Congress. Perhaps the public was tired of being lied to repeatedly about some very important things like the intelligence on the Iraq nuclear program, global warming data, torture of detainees, and warrantless wire-tapping. Perhaps the American people wanted to send a message of rejection to the Republican party in order to communicate just how disappointed they were with George Bush. Perhaps, just maybe, the American people believed Obama when he promised them change. Who knows.

But the suggestion supplanting those considerations with the idea that somehow Obama was nothing more than an affirmative action President, is twisted. It is a verbal slight-of-hand trick at best, and blatant racism at worst.

The democratic republic in which we live is a failure, not only because it fosters this kind of language, but because it is characterized by immobility, rigidity and is crippled by an inability to represent our citizens at a high resolution. Our democratic republic has proven that any asshole can get elected and stay elected if they just provoke or charm the right people.

The social democracy is in error because there can never be enough stopgaps and waste prevention criteria to prevent massive inefficiencies and missteps. Social democracy also fails at both the electorate level, and also at the bureaucratic level due to the fact that there are tons of people in any population who simply don't give a shit. Social democracy only works for small, invested communities with lots of transparency and accountability, but it doesn't seem to work very well for large organizations.

The foundation of any correct form of government and economy is information. Therefore, I am not a liberal, or a conservative. I am an informationist.

Education. Education is the only path to a valid government. Only a population capable of educating itself and critically assessing information can be capable of governing itself. Self government is the only true government. Therefore, the bootstrapping of the new information republic -- a republic where everyone is their own representative -- will be accomplished through the complete and universal reform of education.

But how can a government with such a shift in focus towards education and communication of information ever be brought into power when the voting system in the United States only reinforces the two-party system? My friends Greg Lange and Cory Burkhardt both support a voting system based on multiple candidate ranking. Many people that I have spoken with who are interested in an alternative voting system are inclined towards the preferential voting system. Arrow's impossibility theorem, or Arrow's paradox, states that such a system would never be perfect and would never represent the wishes of every constituency, but if engineered carefully, it could come pretty close.

It's how the best restaurants in the world are compared. It's how the Godfather is selected as the best movie ever made at the movie database website, So what if the Godfather isn't really the best movie ever made? Well it's pretty damn good.

The only way our elections will ever support a ballot that uses a multi-candidate 10-point rating scale is with a public that is smart enough to understand how such a system actually works. Such voters must also be adequately informed and have an ability to accurately assess the true nature and aptitude of candidates. Public intelligence or stupidity is entirely a function of the efficiency, flexibility, tenacity of the education system and the commitment of the people in its ranks to be successful at an individual level. An education system undermined is a society that undermines its government's effectiveness.

Honestly, anyone against a universally educated and thoroughly informed public, should be considered a traitor. In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone who fosters confusion by creating false information or attempts to limit the communication of legitimate information should be condemned as a terrorist.

Of course, this raises the question, how is information determined to be legitimate? What is the litmus test for information? Testing. Experiments. Confirmation. Corroboration. Understanding. Usefulness. And most importantly, Karl Popper's test: falsifiability. Information should be redundantly verified, peer reviewed, and rated-by-reputation.

We need to move away from the democratic-republic/social-democracy mixed government form, and shift to an informational democracy. Information, and its accuracy is the cornerstone of all freedom. Liars and mutilators of fact and truth should not be tolerated.

People will inevitably reject these ideas saying things like, "That is too difficult." Or, "That will cost too much money." Or, "My tax dollars should not go towards educating someone else's child." Or, "Those who can't do, teach."

Other objections can be made as well. Someone might say something like, "So-and-so is poor, and cannot afford to be educated. Their parents should have worked harder." Such a person apparently values money above information and believes that obfuscation and confusion has a price. Such a person should be considered a traitor to our nation.

If someone says, "So-and-so is lazy, or refuses to be taught," they are only making excuses. Such a person is simply too lazy or too selfish to make the sacrifices necessary to help another person overcome their personal defects or obstacles and be educated despite those challenges.

People often tell me that things will never change because we are stuck with what we have.


The choice of our government is in the hands of the informed population. To be against an informed population, in any way, is to be against the choice of government. Revolution comes from the ground up. Not through internal secession.

It all starts with yourself and your family. It is the movement of self-actualization and transcendence found reiterated innumerable times in eastern philosophy. First, master yourself. Then your family. Then your community. Then your state. Then your nation.

Absorption. The old generation will be eaten by the new. The stupid, old, doddering politicians and representatives will be displaced by the mass of the new informed populace.

There is no stopping it. Critical mass will be reached, and then there can be no reversal.

Information is unstoppable. Ideas cannot be killed. Truth cannot be subdued. Reality will destroy the actors and fiction writers that make up our government and media.

Information, education, and understanding is the new monarch.

The next generation is growing up with the Internet in their playpens.

The status quo "representatives" and legislators will be unable to pry this source of universal information access from the hands of this next generation. The technology to prevent tampering with that information is crystallizing into a perfect shield against meddlers and liars.

Soon all the liars will be silenced and muted. No more fiction. Only history.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Silently ignoring is passive aggressive. Sometimes what you want is outright aggression, demanding something more to the effect of 'Your thoughts and ideas are inconsequential and completely unimportant. I'm just going to ignore you from now on.'

-- Mike Nerone, 2009

[ #coredevs ]

Jenny Lewis, Elvis Costello, M. Ward, Zooey Deschanel


Don't miss this one, Zooey backs up Jenny on the song "Carpetbaggers".

[ Links: YouTube, YouTube ]

Friday, July 24, 2009

America the Fat?

An article concerned with the ostensible culture of waifish waistlines in New York City appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday. Money, the leisure money affords, and a ubiquity of reflective shiny glass windows on buildings seem to be the primary contributors to the 25% lighter BMI of the average Manhattanite compared to the rest of America's poor slobs of whom an alarming 67% are overweight.

While reading I was reminded that it was lunchtime so I called up el Gallito de Jalisco across the street from the office and ordered two chicken fajita tacos on corn torillas to go. There are a couple of things that I dislike about ordering food to go. First, the containers in which the food are placed will soon become just that many more plastic salsa containers and forks that don't seem to cooperate very well with the rest of God's creations. Second, I am eating at my desk which basically means I wolf those tacos down in ten or fifteen minutes so I can get back to work. Well what's wrong with that?

A lot, says this article also from the Times that attempts to draw a correlation between the average time spent eating per day with the body mass index of those eaters. Do you spend less than 80 minutes eating all three meals in a day? Then you're probably fat. And American.

The French apparently spend well over 2 hours each day eating their meals. They are also some of the least obese people in the developed world. What does this mean? Well many conclusions could be drawn, I suppose.

I would wager that many people would look at these statistics and think, "Americans work a lot and don't have much time so they eat more fast food, and that's why they are so fat." Others might think, "I guess when you eat too quickly, your brain doesn't get the message from your body that you are full until it's too late and you're done eating everything on your plate, resulting in over-eating." Still others might consider, "Meals are more of a social event in the culture of other countries and dining with company is perhaps more customary than it is in America. It makes sense that a meal would last longer when you're talking with friends and family at the dinner table."

Or maybe those people are just thinking like sheep and assuming that the information they are being given is correct in the first place. The question should be asked: how much can we trust the New York Times to report accurately on the eating habits of Americans? Surely the Times isn't reporting on all of the studies that have probably been done on this subject. All of those other studies that have been done probably don't support the true message that the Times is trying to send here:

Your American way of life is inferior to the way of life in other countries with more social and liberal composition of government and culture.

The statistics gathered in the study represented in this article are obviously cherry-picked to communicate this message. This could be explained in a number of ways.

For instance, the dining French persons surveyed almost certainly prattled on endlessly about the sensations which they were experiencing with their palate as they ate. In the U.S. the surveyors usually paused their stopwatches when the eaters would stop stuffing their mouths with food long enough to chew or ask their server for a refill on their Coca-Cola. So of course it would appear that Americans eat faster.

Furthermore it is widely understood that the French eat like wusses. They probably surrender to their food twice per meal before they finally give up and push their plate away with half its contents unfinished. Americans know from experience: food is war, and you sure as hell don't leave until the job is done.

Also likely is the inaccuracy of the method of measurement used in other countries like France. They use the metric system, after all -- completely different than the English system of measurement that America uses.

If one considers oneself a critical thinker, one should consider the source of these articles. This is the New York Times. They have been caught red-handed time and time again publishing factual-appearing articles about so-called scientific studies and the like, and then drawing conclusions that are obviously self-serving. Everyone has a bias, and the Times staff and contributors are no exception. This is a fact known by simple psychological projection to most Americans who proudly uphold the values of God and country.

How dare the New York Times attack the American way of life? Our culture is superior to the culture of any other country in every way for the simple fact that our culture is American. Anyone suggesting otherwise is just a liberal America-hater spreading propaganda designed to degrade our great country and its rich history.

In the Times' defense, they have also published an article discussing the correlation between fast eaters and economic growth (with far better quality graphics than their fast-food report, I must say). Predictably, this article was largely panned by other liberal "scholars" and mostly ignored.

So to the New York Times and other eggheads I say this: keep your questionable statistics and let the facts speak for themselves -- quietly and meekly like the nerds who study them. There is nothing wrong with our fast food, and America does not need to change in any way to continue being the great and mighty country that it has always been. We Americans are unique in the history of the world, and chosen by God to be leaders of the free world and grateful recipients of His blessings of Freedom Fries, Doritos Cooler Ranch Tortilla Chips, and the Colonel's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. May God continue to bless America.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And all God's people said Amen

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.

-- Abraham Lincoln
Remark to law partner William Herndon,
quoted in William Elroy Curtis (1902)

[ link ]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Are Living In The Future

This text was originally written for the comments section of a post on December 6, 2005.
Some major edits have been made since then.

I don't get this sense very often these days, but I relish it when I do. The first time I experienced the "Holy mackerel! We're living in the future!" feeling, it was a strange sensation triggered by settling into the backseat of my friend's new Nissan Maxima, and listening to his radar detector boot up as his car turned on and the rest of his console lights began to glow, and Nine Inch Nails' "Into The Void" from The Fragile beginning to boom on his kilowatt sound system. Since then, similar such experiences have been few and far between.

But on a more serious note, I believe that our current collective stress-out about petroleum and fossil based fuels and energy, as well as the constant threats from terrorism, global warming, cancer and pandemics, overpopulation, etc., are going to force the human population into some pretty awe-inspiring advances over the next couple of decades. We're talking huge leaps forward. These significant improvements include:

1. Solar power
Complete transition to solar power as the primary source of energy supply to all residential, commercial, and industrial energy demands. All the following improvements will be brought about based on this single momentous accomplishment.

2. Natural/organic habitats
Transition to family and community based habitats which are ecologically and culturally enriching. These constructions will spring up in place of reclaimed land from industrial and commercial sites, and will be interconnected by a brand new nationwide (and soon thereafter planet-wide) transportation network (electric trains, electric computer-navigated automobiles, transition of major airlines from bulk travel to on-demand commuter flights, etc.) making it a seamless and painless process to commute from a major metropolis to your family back on the farm.

3. Sane climate control
Regulation of the Earth's climate by means of a world-wide biosphere control scheme. This will include doing things like using phytoplankton fertilized with iron deposits in the oceans, as well as a number of other measures. The world will no longer depend on petroleum and fossil fuels for energy, pollution and carbon emissions over time will be drastically reduced. Biosphere control mechanisms built into energy-harvesting technology will begin to terraform whole swathes of uninhabitable and non-cultivatable land into useful regions which will nearly immediately (within a span of five to ten years) cause tremendous cultural and global change. Our planet's appearance from space will be significantly altered. These global processes will be controlled with complete assurance and confidence by our civilization, and will not get out of control. (No over-cooling or wildly fluctuating temperatures -- these technologies and their effects can be carefully modeled and monitored using evermore advancing computing techniques and information about the planet's weather machinery and its internal relationships.)

4. Geo-political stabilization
Furthermore, since the dependence on petroleum will be eliminated, the economic (and hence, political) interests of the US in Middle Eastern countries will diminish greatly, reducing the strain on that region's already oppressed people, which in turn will have a calming effect on the activity of terrorists.

5. Digital-only information distribution
Elimination of content and information distribution entities such as the recording and motion picture industries. While this will simply exchange power from one entity to another (network service providers) it will serve to streamline the process of production and distribution making it easier than ever for individuals and organizations to create and communicate information. Happily, even network service providers will be rendered obsolete as free, accessible, and ubiquitous high-speed wireless networks begin to organically blanket the North American continent within the next 15 or 20 years, and also the rest of the globe within 50 years. Continuing advances in wireless networking technology makes it a sure bet that this will happen. These networks will be maintained as a public utility, and regulated only by local and regional community technicians and benefactors, thereby eliminating telecoms such as SBC/AT&T and Comcast once and for all. Finally, the true vision of free speech will be realized as seamless, obstacle-free distribution networks deliver content from its sources to a global audience. Such a network will obviate most concerns about government wiretapping, since most communications will occur without bottlenecks or major backbones. Eliminating single points of large bandwidth usage will remove the ability of the spy agencies to route large amounts of communication traffic from single sources.

6. No more government-sponsored resource mongering (imperialism)
Because energy will become a non-issue, governments around the world will be able to shift attention away from internal economic problems caused by diminishing resources and focus more on forward thinking policies and technological advancements brought about by open collaboration with multi-national coalitions and government sponsored partnered entities.

7. Space travel
Fast. And soon. Within the next thirty years.

8. World peace
Without strain on population for competition for scarce resources such as energy sources for the industries of developing nations, there will be little to no political wrangling for power or military action required between nations.

9. True free markets
When information and energy becomes completely free, the markets for goods and services will also become completely free. This is because no market is truly free without the complete freedom of information. When all buyers instantaneously know the real-time value of any good and service, then all sellers must sell at that price, or else lose the sale because of a failure to meet the price agreed upon by the market. However, this is not how the markets currently work. Normally, buyers bet blindly at prices, without conferring amongst themselves. The markets rely very nearly solely upon speculative pricing. This speculative pricing engaged in by buyers only gives sellers and producers an advantage because they control the quantities of goods produced based on an unbalanced mixture of speculation on market demand and just shear capriciousness. When resources become a function of free energy, the only true product will be the quality of a given product's design and its execution. Because of a mutual understanding of all options for a particular product, its price will be clearly determinable by purchasers in the marketplace. Energy sums per product will no longer be a factor. Instead, only time, thought, and (in rare cases) rare, non-recyclable materials will be considered as contributing to the actual value of a product. Barrier-to-entry into a market will be as thin or as thick as the challenge to compete against other designs, conceptions, and implementations of a given product.

10. No more hunger
With unlimited energy at our fingertips, the developed world will be able to manufacture and transport all the modern equipment necessary for industrialized agricultural in regions of the world where food is scarce and at famine levels of unavailability. Nowhere will water be scarce or limited -- ocean desalinization will be cheap and easy without energy restrictions.

11. Destabilization of Earth's electromagnetic sphere
Instability of Earth's electromagnetic sphere will cause problems for long distance communication using signals transmitted over radio spectrum. However, the global network of broadband short-access wireless networking will make the problem moot. Unfortunately, many thousands of people will die from cancer due to the increased ultraviolet radiation from the Sun that the weakened electromagnetic sphere will allow to penetrate to the Earth's surface. Thankfully, all types of cancer will be cured within five years of its worst outbreak among the global population. That's what happens when a global killer comes along and begins to kill indiscriminately and widely. When rich people start dying early for no reason, cures are discovered.

12. Global population stabilization
Global population will go through some severe fluctuations on its course to stabilizing at around 11 billion people, and while this will cause severe heartache for individuals worldwide and leave a psychological and emotional imprint on our cultural consciousness which will be remembered in our history books and stories passed down throughout the generations for centuries to follow, the overall standard of living for all peoples in all nations will improve, and human atrocities and suffering will be reduced and practically eliminated, even during the most traumatic periods of our civilization's growing pains. Why? Because of free, ubiquitous, real time information distribution and communication, when the entire world witnesses their own families dying at the same time as the families of those in other parts of the world dying from causes outside of anyone's control, we will become that much closer to each other, despite our cultural differences and the illusion of national boundaries. We will unite against the prevailing forces that thwart our survival.

13. No man-made apocalypse
Nuclear war will never erupt between any nations, because political and militaristic posturing, manipulation, and confrontation will all cease to be tools of national entities, due to the fact that energy is no longer a commodity, and complete land reclamation and restoration from desert regions and polluted areas is commonplace.

Why I am so optimistic about our future?

I believe that stress on a population causes characteristics to emerge which make the population at large more effective at survival. Continued future stress on the ever growing human civilization will force innovation and adaptation the likes of which we have never seen or imagined before. People are capable of great things, and will do great things, if they are done right. All it takes is a balance of careful, metered trust in the genius of inventors and innovators, determination, spirit and will. I believe that these things will win out over corruption, greed, and apathy. They have to. Corrupt, greedy and apathetic individuals will get naturally selected out of the gene pool, leaving the rest of us to become careful, caring, clever and conscionable stewards of our planet and solar system.

If these things don't happen, well, who cares? We will just go extinct. And one doesn't worry much about dying when one is dead.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Auto-add music to iTunes playlist

A macrumors newbie going by "wholesaledaddy" outlined the following steps for automatically adding new music files to an iTunes library playlist:
1) Open automator. It should be on your dock or in your applications folder. It think it's pre-installed on all osx macs.
2) On the first screen keep the selection on "custom" and hit the "choose" button.
3) In the left hand column under "Library" select "Files and Folders"
4) In the next column double-click "Get Specified Finder items"
5) A "Get Specified Finder Items" pane should open on the main screen.
6) Click the "Add" button on this screen and select the folder that you download music into
7) Now from the second column from the left double-click on the "Get Folder Contents" action.
8) I wouldn't click on the "Repeat for all each subfolder found" checkbox unless you want all the subfolders to be put into the same permanent folder.
9) Now on the left-most column click on "music" then in the next column dobule-click on "Import Files into iTunes"
10) On this action pane you can adjust the settings to have the selected music files put into whatever playlist you want
11) Almost done. Now you need to create a folder where these imported songs can be moved to so they will not be imported again. This can be a subfolder of the folder you just imported music from or anywhere else you want to store your songs.
12) In the leftmost column click on "Files and Folders" then in the next column click on "Move Finder Items"
13) In this pane select the new folder you just created
14) Now simply save this series of steps that you have created (which is called a "workflow" file). Go to file and click save-as. Note: I created a separate "automator workflows" folder in Music to store these files
It would be nice to attach this work-flow to a "download" action in your primary web browser, and then monitor a list of folders or directories to which you commonly download music files. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to do this.

Instead, you will have to attach this task to each folder that you want to monitor. In order to do that, you should first make sure that the first step of the Automator work-flow monitors only the folder to which you will be attaching the work-flow.

See that first step? There is only one folder being watched. The work-flow has been named so that it is specific to the folder on which it will be operating, in this case "Add Music (tmp).workflow".

To get this work-flow attached to the folder that will "catch" all your new music files, just follow these steps:
  1. With the work-flow opened in the Automator application, choose "Save As Plug-in..." from the File menu.
  2. In the "Save Plug-in As:" field, enter the name of your work-flow.
  3. The "Plug-in for:" selector should currently be "Finder". Choose "Folder Actions" instead. A new "Attached to Folder:" selector will appear.
  4. Choose "Other..." and select your special folder that will be catching your new music files.
  5. Click the Save button.
  6. Done!
Here's the part that sucks that the "It would be nice" stuff would take care of: You will have to redo all 20 of these steps for each folder that you want to monitor. For instance, it would be nice to monitor three different folders: a special music downloads folder, the Desktop, and the Downloads folder. That's 60 steps. Lame.

Once again, an example of how shitty iTunes really is, and why everytime I hear someone parroting the stupid Apple marketing catch-phrase, "Macs just work, you know?" I want to slap them in the face with a large trout.

Apple fan-boys will no doubt palliate and gloze for Apple and iTunes, "Well, why are you downloading music from sources other than the iTunes Store??" To them I say, "Shut your pie hole. It's a computer. I write software for a living. A COMPUTER SHOULD JUST DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT IT TO DO."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009