A Particularly Stupid Wish

Published at 08:09 on 29 August 2016

Wishes like this are just plain stupid:

But Lord Rees added that there is also cause for optimism. “Human societies could navigate these threats, achieve a sustainable future, and inaugurate eras of post-human evolution even more marvellous than what’s led to us. The dawn of the Anthropocene epoch would then mark a one-off transformation from a natural world to one where humans jumpstart the transition to electronic (and potentially immortal) entities, that transcend our limitations and eventually spread their influence far beyond the Earth.”

This is the case for a variety of reasons. Here’s a few:

  • The more technologically sophisticated a society is, the more it is dependent on specialized knowledge.
    • Extreme specialization is a form of repression; our minds evolved to deal with a world in which we performed a variety of tasks. Already, most people are dissatisfied with their jobs, despite having a freedom of choice in a career; this is because the allowed choices simply have no good answer for most.
    • A society more dependent on specialization is more difficult to understand and question in toto, thus such societies are more difficult to successfully rebel against. Since revolution is the ultimate guarantor of freedom, such societies are highly unlikely to remain free.
  • The possibility of creating transhuman intelligence raises the possibility that those intelligent beings would treat humans the same way humans treat animals: with a range of options between vermin to be exterminated, farm animals to be ruthlessly exploited, or companions to be doted on and controlled like small children.
  • It is the rich who could best afford to transform themselves into long-lived or immortal transhumans, thus crystallizing the capitalist class hierarchy into a permanent evolutionary outcome.
  • Immortality, while at the first glance appealing, is probably the worst of all possible outcomes, as it raises the spectre of a ruling elite that could last indefinitely. Gone is the presence of death as the great equalizer, from whom even the worst tyrants and plutocrats cannot escape.

The End is Nigh

Published at 18:50 on 23 August 2016

exit_signLast spring, I had serious doubts my current job was a good match that would (or should) last. Some changes were made, it got better, and I persevered.

Recently, however, it’s been increasingly evident that’s not enough. I’m not really culturally a good match for where I am, plus the work, while better than it was, is still not as good a match as it could be. Plus I have some real doubts about the long-term viability of the place; it would not surprise me much if things suddenly collapsed, and in a way that tainted all current employees with a stench of failure.

Yesterday, in fact, I had been planning my exit during commute hours. I was going to break the news to them next month that I wanted to depart some time in the fall. Instead, they broke the news to me today. Nothing’s happening very soon, but it looks like my ideal target date of sometime in the first week of October will be my last day. There’s a final project I want to wrap up; once that’s in place I’ll be able to depart on good terms, having made a positive contribution during my tenure.

I don’t have anything lined up to replace it. First, the nature of my current job means I really haven’t had the time to do a good job search (I’ve done some, but not much). Second, I really feel I need some time to decompress. The risk is pretty low in my field, so I’m not that worried.

Even if the worst comes to past, my whole exercise of buying a house and trying to settle down was something of an experiment that I wasn’t sure would work, so even that would not be a huge shock. It will be nice if it works, but it won’t be the end of the world if it doesn’t.

Actually, the “worst” won’t come to pass; the real worst would involve me lying and saying I’d be happy to do the old work that bored me to tears so I could stick it out there (thereby throwing more of my life away doing something I absolutely hate).

Breadwinners and Stress

Published at 08:15 on 19 August 2016

This is totally not a surprise. The Google indexing of my site is broken (something that a newly-created sitemap will hopefully soon fix) but I once wrote that the capitalist system exploits families by holding children hostage so as to blackmail their parents. You may want to quit that awful job, but it won’t just affect you; it will make your wife and children suffer as well.

Why wouldn’t breadwinners suffer stress under such a situation?

A Public Service Announcement

Published at 07:54 on 15 August 2016

We interrupt this presidential campaign (and my numerous pontifications on it) to remind you of the essential nature of bourgeois politics:

“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament.”  — V.I. Lenin

Yes, yes: I know. The guy was a major-league authoritarian. No disputes there. That still doesn’t make his observation above any the less valid.

And yes, the wording above is Lenin’s, not Marx’s, though Lenin wrote it while paraphrasing Marx. You can find the source here.

Showing the Parents Around

Published at 10:17 on 14 August 2016

Not much going on. Parents are visiting, as are both of my sisters, which means this weekend is the first time all five of us have been in the same place in a long time.

As is typical, my parents made a heat wave materialize when they came. They must think temperatures in the 80s and 90s are normal here, based on their experiences during visits.

Bias against Trump

Published at 08:28 on 11 August 2016

A few days ago Fox News had an article complaining about media bias against Trump.

And guess what? They’re right. The Establishment media have never been unbiased. For example, they’ve long been systematically biased for free trade arguments (strong, logic-based cases against same have only rarely been allowed to appear, giving the impression that it’s a world of strong arguments for and weak ones against).

The mass media consists disproportionately of private, for profit organiazations owned by the capitalist ruling class. It should be no surprise that it acts in the interest of that class. And Trump has gotten so extreme that ruling class politics (which is not confined to the GOP and its enablers; Hillary Clinton is very much part of the acceptable political spectrum embraced by the elite) has now rejected him pretty much wholesale.

So yes, the media are biased against Trump. Which, to me, is just fine. I’d much prefer a media run on the principles of economic democracy, which would have prevented the root causes (systematic propaganda designed to brainwash the masses into embracing a class system that disadvantages them), of course. But such a thing can’t be created overnight, the Trump threat (and it is a real threat) is here now, and needs to be fought now.

National Review Takes on the Right-Wing Mass Media

Published at 09:02 on 9 August 2016

This is an interesting article because it comes from a conservative source and basically confirms what the Left has been saying about there being a right-wing echo chamber in the media.

It does contradict the Left’s line about the media in general being pro-Establishment… at first glance. But it’s not too hard to see reality seeping in:

Besides the fact that left-leaning mainstream news outlets help Democrats get their message out, they have the additional benefit of helping Democrats refine their own policies and messages. Smart Democratic strategists know that if a scandal is a problem to their unaffiliated sympathizers in the press, it is something worth taking seriously.

By and large, conservatives have no such positive feedback loops. Instead, the Right’s media monoculture has created negative feedback loops whereby people with little political acumen like Mark Levin, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck are able to fill Republican voters’ heads with nonsensical ideas like planning to shut down the government with no backup plan or electing fewer GOP officeholders in pursuit of more “pure” ones, primarily because they grossly overestimate the number of conservatives in America. It is poetic justice that many of the same people who pushed these naive positions and strategies saw their own imbecilic noise machine turned against their preferred presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, in this year’s Republican primaries.

In other words, implicitly an admission that the “left-leaning” mainstream media actually isn’t as biased in the liberal direction as conservative sources like Fox News are to the right.

And yes, the echo chamber does seem to be hurting the ideological camp that invented it. Poetic justice indeed.

Enter Evan McMullin

Published at 08:13 on 8 August 2016

It appears that someone I, and the vast majority of people have never even heard of is going to throw his hat into the ring as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump. Here’s a bit more on the guy, including a couple of videos of him speaking.

This could potentially be very good news, because it could mean the conservative movement in the USA is going to start seriously opposing (or at least split on, and thus be unable to effectively support) the rise of a fascist. The support of conservatives (who calculate, incorrectly, they can control the phenomenon and benefit from it) has been key to the rise of fascism pretty much any place it has arisen.

Dabbling with basically fascist methods has been something the Right in the US has been engaging in for some time, in fact (it predates Trump). It remains to be seen how much McMullin is aware of that and willing to re-evaluate it.