Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mages As Enchanters Who Never Fight

In Getting Beyond Spellcasting the idea is mooted of getting away from spell-slinging wizards with some ritual magic. This isn't going nearly far enough as far as I'm concerned.
It should be noted that item enchantment magics should also be performed as rituals, with significant investments of power in many cases.
A mage who ONLY does enchanting and takes NO part in combat AT ALL is acceptable in conjunction with the Offline Activity concept in the essay Marking Time. But only if two conditions are met.

First, making enchantments gives the player serious money as a mage. Not minimal money, but serious money. Because that's going to be the enchanter's only source of income. Granted, the money could primarily come from player characters. But it could also come from noble NPCs handing out fat contracts (quests) to supply their armies.

Second, there are quests to further the player's skills and supplies as an enchanter. If they learn from Master Yan how to enchant scrolls of town portal for example. Or they go to Sundabar to secure a contract for a routine supply of Eagle Feathers (either as needed or by the tonne) from the Merchant House of Vreel at a given price. A price which they may improve upon when their contract runs out and they opt to go to Sundabar again with more points in their Negotiation skill (thus improving their profit margin on even low-level enchantments).

Ideally, all of the no-risk grinding activities that involve supporting other players and negotiating with them (determined by your automatic Negotiation skill!) should happen offline. And all the activities that involve risky Personal Character Development and decision-making (like learning stuff, setting up trade routes, and negotiating with fighters to escort him to Sundabar) should happen online. This is really basic game design since sleeping and resting is skipped over (not endured) even in pen and paper games.

Most of that's done already. What's novel is the offline activities concept, and converting "one eagle feather in a wizard's inventory" into "a contract for one tonne of eagle feathers delivered by caravan to the wizard's shop". And both of those novelties are to systematically do away with grinding. Which is something very anti-WoW. But then again, so's actual roleplaying (stealing, gambling and negotiating) so fuck em.

Remember Wizards In Early MUDs and MOOs?

I just read this stupid rant about how wizards in modern RPGs aren't special enough because they aren't enough like literary mages. Because there's too many of them and they're too obviously powerful. This is a bunch of crap.

Early Days of Yore

There used to be a time when Wizards were even MORE powerful. Back in the early days of multiplayer text games, wizards were the content creators and programmers. They were the ones who created new rooms, new areas, new quests, new objects, new stories. They did all of this awesome stuff that NOBODY is allowed to do nowadays.

Wizard powers were awesome because they were meta-circular. Because from within the game you were changing the game itself. Unfortunately, since the world is filled with fascistic assholes, game designers want to control everything that's going on in a game. And also, since the world is filled with idiots, these same game designers don't understand the concept of meta-circularity.

The best part is that early Wizards made games more egalitarian because the structure of the game world was controlled by the players within the game world. And this is the exact opposite of what some people who want wizards to be "special" in their "heroic myth" want. In early games, the motto was "yes, you too can have absolute power". Nowadays, game designers don't want players to have even the illusion of it. Pathetic.

How It Would Work

There's very little administration that can't be folded back into the Wizard hierarchy.

For instance, an obvious way to judge how much XP creating a quest gives a Wizard is to count the number of players who seriously attempt it (enter the area, pass the middle waypoint, whatever) divided by how many players finish the objective of the quest. If zero players finish it then count that as zero XP. This provides an automatic means of judging the popularity and difficulty of quests created.

Since popularity matters for new quests, a Wizard will want to advertise them. So obviously they'll buy signs pointing the way from a Signmaker, bribe an NPC to tell players about the quest, buy ads in the world's newspaper, hire the Sculptor to make statues of the great general, and have a book written and put in the town library about the perilous dungeon. All of this draining money out of the economy (working against hyperinflation) which is good, and increasing the immersiveness of the game world, which is even better.

You could also add XP points if the quest area is far outside of town. This is important too in order to prevent all the new content from being clustered around the central city. Not that this would necessarily be a problem so long as Wizards can dig out tunnels underneath the city or float mountains above it, or simply build upwards. Or even just be very creative with the existing elements of the city by adding rooms here and there, building skyways. To say nothing of portals and extra-dimensional spaces.

You can also award XP points to a Wizard if they ERASE an area or quest leaving a prominent complaint sign for users to bitch. The more they bitch, the fewer points the wizard gains by it. If they don't bitch at all because the area was unpopular then you've obviously got a winner! If the Wizard actually starts losing net XP for deleting an area, they're then responsible for choosing to reverse their decision ... or not.

After all, maybe the area was ugly and they think it was worth losing 500 XP points to get rid of it. Or maybe the Wizard demolished an area in order to remodel it and the bitching of some users is more than made up for by those who like the new area. These are judgement calls and some people need to make them. Not everything can be universally popular after all.


So yes, this way Wizards could level up automatically, with very little oversight from administrators. And if game designers were smart, they'd make the entire Wizard hierarchy into an MLM scheme so that a high level wizard can sponsor prospective lower level wizards. If the latter's content sucks then the sponsor gets a penalty. If the latter's content rocks then the sponsor gets a residual of XP points every time the lower level wizard gains XP. And if game designers were very smart, they'd have a sophisticated scheme where you can have multiple sponsors (sharing residuals) or switch sponsors with some penalty.

You see, with the exception of the guys managing the servers and maybe the game engine itself, there is no good reason to have ANY out of game administrators in an MMORPG. Even banishing a k001d00d player to another server where they have a higher tolerance for that kind of crap is easily done IN-WORLD. After all, it's just a Wizard spell - Banishment! Proving that yes you really shouldn't meddle in the affairs of wizards.

Note my emphasis on IN-WORLD game mechanics. I learned that important lesson more than a decade ago from Lessons from LucasArts' Habitat. I also learned that protocols needed to distinguish objects from presentation (as HTML doesn't). It doesn't seem to me that game designers have taken either lesson to heart. Probably because they're retarded idiot.

Creating In Game Lore ... In Game

Consider the town gossip mongers talking about heroic quests the PCs accomplished. I bet you never thought about how to do it in an automated way. Or how to palm off the responsibility to those who would be most likely to want to do it. The names of the quest and the objectives (kill bad guy, retrieve artifact) are all publicly available from the content creator, whether it's an out of game company programmer or an in-game Wizard. So THOSE parts can be fully automated and that's one generic mechanism down.

What can't be automated is what actually went down. But who better to tell you what happened than the guy who finished the quest in the first place? Have HIM tell the gossip mongers what he did. Fuck, have the gossip mongers ASK HIM what he did when he shows up in town next. And so what if the guy lies? The only thing that matters is that it be dramatic or exciting enough. And how better to achieve that than to have some kind of feedback so that each player asking the gossip monger “tell me more” gives the vanquisher of the quest a small number of XPs?

Gossip Monger: "Did you hear how X did Y at Z? [The first paragraph of text X wrote, with a minimum length]"
Gossip Monger then has two options ‘I already heard that story' and ‘Tell me more'.
Gossip Monger:
"[Three more paragraphs of text X wrote]" then two buttons 'Tell me more' (or 'Thanks' if it's the end) and That Sucked.

Hell, if a player is a great writer then they could even have the action written out in multiple stages. And every stage nets them another 10 XPs each time a character listens.

And the best part of this is that THIS IS HOW THE REAL WORLD ACTUALLY WORKS. Because the real world doesn't have any “programmers” or “world designers” that create buildings and script people's actions. The real world has Gossip Monger NPCs and Historian NPCs.

For that matter, if a PC hires a Historian to write up his deeds and make them available in the Library, for a very hefty price. Or if he hires a Sculptor to make a statue of himself … then this could boost his Charisma stat which would feed his Negotiation skill. You could even have a Hero Worshiper NPC giving out a quest to heroes to write up their deeds and get sculptures made of themselves, with an XP reward for completing that quest. Again, work WITH economics!

Wizards' Disincentives

This would be trivial to script. The challenge is making the Wizards powerful enough so they can CREATE this “hero worshiper quest”. Is fulfilling the hero worshiper quest something every hero should do? Or is it only for a very select few heroes? If the latter then yes the Wizards would have an economic incentive to create such quests. If the former then they won't have any economic incentive to do that. But they might do it just for colour. Oh wait, no they couldn't.

After all, you have to provide a huge disincentive to wizards to create easy quests where level 1 characters can acquire a million XPs. And that disincentive has to kick in once quests are solvable by >50% of players who attempt them. And the penalty WILL kick in if the quest provides enough XPs to attract level 20 characters to something that should be a level 1 quest. So the rewards of a quest have to be commensurate with the difficulty of the quest.

And if a Wizard makes such ridiculously easy and lucrative quests for his friends, thus violating the Sacred Ethos of the Order of Wizards, then he might have the magic drained out of him by a higher level Wizard. And his friends might be hunted down by a level-draining vampire assassin (from the Assassins Guild of course) on contract by the higher level Wizard.

Ideally, the disincentive would be that starting from 50% success rates on a quest, the XPs gained by the questors come straight out of the Wizard's own XP score, making it an automatic zero sum game. Unfortunately, this mechanism can be easily gamed so it only actually punishes mistakes by the Wizard and never malfeasance, which is why higher level supervision is still necessary lest Wizards just uplift their friends.

Still, it doesn't matter what you do. What matters is that it all be done using mechanics that don't break the illusion of the game world.

Offline Roleplaying In MMORPGs

I just read this great post introducing the concept of offline roleplaying in MMORPGs. Following is my response which extends and explores the concept.

A good rule of thumb is that skills should only ever increase through active participation of the player. I don't think Hunting and Cooking should increase from offline activity. You should increase these skills by going to a cooking school, finding a master chef, getting tips from a master hunter, and so on. And if you say that non-fighting skills may increase from offline activity then I'll point you to your own rant about Roleplaying = Fighting!

However, the value of these skills should definitely affect what's happening offline. If your cooking skill is exceptional then you never go to taverns because their food is shit compared to yours. If it's middling then you go to taverns for variety. If it's poor, you make a lot of food ingredients inedible and go to taverns as often as possible, whichever you can afford.

Unlike you, I'm not opposed to players gaining monetarily from offline hunting. At least a little. (As I said, I am opposed to them gaining skills.) The amount they gain should definitely be dependent on their hunting skill of course. There's going to be a big difference between trapping a couple rabbits and getting a tasty doe and field dressing her properly.

Same for blacksmithing. Of course, if you're a blacksmith then you should own a forge! And your Negotiation skill will determine how much coal and iron ore cost versus your products so how much profit you make. You may even gain products that you can sell to other players. And ideally, again the Negotiation skill should only be raised by training in-world. Maybe getting some tutoring from Tom the Savvy Haggler down in the market. Of course, you're gonna have to find Tom first....

Groan, and if you're a Merchant then you should own a shop!! Which just proves how smart and insightful your idea is. But I think having a personal-belongings tax is ridiculously and monumentally stupid. Everything I've read from you is smart and much of it insightful. But this is just stupid. Head tax? Yes. Property (shop, forge, house) tax? Yes. Wealth tax? Yes. Belongings tax? Fuck no. Get real.

And speaking of property, if there's online activity then having a house, which may or may not get burned down in an attack by Orcs ... this again proves how smart and insightful this idea of offline gaming is. Because a house is actually USEFUL. I mean, it protects you and makes sure you're at 100% HP when you log in.

Having a manor house gives you Charisma which increases your Negotiation skill. Having a shack lowers your Negotiation skill and is more likely to be destroyed or for you to have caught a disease offline (further reducing your HP). Imagine logging in and finding out your (untaxed) shack has been burned by brigands, who stole all your gold, and you've fallen ill so you're at 50% HP? :D Well, you get what you pay for!

Yes you COULD deal with banks, for a very, very hefty fee. Or you could risk your stuff getting stolen at your house. Hell, might even make it possible to rob houses by Thieves so all of your non-equipped inventory is at risk. And your housing might determine how much inventory you can keep before having to sell / throw the excess away.

The best part is that between diseases, fires, and wars demolishing cities and hurting the player characters living in them ("In the last week, you were caught in the Great Epidemic of 768"), you've provided them with a really great incentive to get that castle they weren't sure they wanted. I mean, what the fuck's a castle for? Oh yeah, to protect your character!

Having a castle might open up whole new areas of game play associated with waging border wars, subduing your neighbours, and rising in the ranks of the aristocracy. Also a castle allows you to call for merchants to come to you instead of going to the market, for a premium. But then again, every time you go out, you'll have to decide whether to disguise yourself (losing your Charisma and Negotiation bonuses) or going out with an armed guard to deter brigands.

The best part is that if you're offline for a year then your castle's been taken over by your neighbours (who've waged a 2-week war against you in your absence), you fled to a manor house with your possessions which all got robbed by a thief, you could then only afford a modest house in the city which got burned down to the ground, and you're now living in a shack with tuberculosis. Which is why you only have 50% of your HP and lost all of your non-equipped inventory.

(In Asheron's Call, they had thieves robbing houses and people quit in droves. But the reason they left was because there was no way for players to protect themselves from the thievery. It turned them into helpless victims and such things can never be considered game features. If thievery was merely an obstacle to be overcome like every other game feature, it wouldn't have produced so much protest because it wouldn't have sucked so badly. The same is the case for player killing which players can't do anything about because they aren't allowed enough control over the game mechanics to institute effective punishments. And because there's no penalty or repercussions (like say losing resurrections) from criminal activity.)

See? No need to curve down anything artificially. Just add some random punishments that attentive players have to deal with every few weeks or months and an inattentive player will get burned by them after a year. This is why I have absolutely no problem with players getting monetary rewards for their skills. And for those players who don't have a castle to lose, nor any non-equipped inventory to get robbed, nor a wooden house to be burned down? I have one word for them: pregnancy.

It's So Easy To Fix 'Roleplaying = Fighting' Games

I read a game designer's rather interesting rant about how 'Roleplaying = Fighting'. But then I realized how easy it is to fix that. Following is my response to the rant.

Are you familiar with Chris Crawford’s work on Interactive Storytelling Engines? You may or may not find it interesting, I just know it exists.

It really shouldn’t be difficult to make Gambling and Negotiation parts of a computer game. Negotiation particularly. How often do players buy and sell items? All of the time, especially amongst themselves. Well, all you have to do is make any prices displayed for items be subjective to the player who views them. And of course dependent on the difference in their negotiations skills.

So for example, PC1 puts up a Staff of Firebolt for sale valued at 5000 but wants a 50 potions of Healing each valued at 100 in exchange. Then PC2 who has very poor negotiation skill sees the staff going for 75 potions of Healing, whereas PC3 who has excellent negotiation skill sees the staff going for 30 potions of Healing. Voila. And if the price of something is a non-integer number of goods (like 70% of a staff of firebolt) then it’s automatically converted into gold.

Yes some minmaxers could demand to know the price in advance through text (’five thousand gold pieces’) to “make sure they aren’t gyped” but there’s absolutely nothing stopping a prospective buyer from lying about what they see is the price. They are getting taken for suckers after all!

Cooking food is kind of a chore so you might not want to have a cooking skill. Though if you do, it’s very easy to have generic cooking ingredients turning inedible or less nutritious because of poor cooking skill. Lots of eating at taverns and eating lower-grade non-perishable food then! Or inviting a cook along. But the lack of a meaningful negotation skill in CRPGs is totally fucking ridiculous. It’s so fucking easy!

Having thieves and diplomats be able to deal with all monsters (potentially) in non-violent ways is also relatively easy. Especially the part where thieves steal the objects the monsters have so the fighters that kill them don’t gain any loot by it. And really exceptional thieves could steal the monsters’ weapons (gaining a lot of XP) leaving the monsters sitting targets and so not awarding the fighters as much XP.

Oh and the diplomats? Same thing, so long as they have high gambling skill and can dice the treasure from the monsters. And again you leave them alive for the poor fighter to kill them. OR, they regain their weapons / loot after a shift change. And yes I am seriously suggesting that you talk down then gamble with Orcs. Especially if you’ve got shapeshifting! Or glamours!

Hell, a character with exceptional glamour / negotiation (aided by high charisma attribute no doubt) / gambling would probably be able to walk through the entire game without striking ANYONE. See a boss? Put up a glamour to look like a minion! How’s that for role playing? The best part is you can tweak the effect of the negotiation skill on prices up or down to increase or decrease the ratio of fighters to diplomats in the game world.

So you see, dealing intelligently with the Thief and Merchant classes is EASY. It’s not even designers’ lack of imagination that nails it. It’s their total fucking stupidity. I mean, how does one get “thief => disarm traps” instead of “thief => steal from monsters”?! Or how do you get “negotiator => conversations with NPCs” instead of “negotiator => $$$money$$ from everyone”? Again, only stupidity explains it. Because dealing with it intelligently is actually EASIER than dealing with it stupidly. Creating a generic ’steal from monster’ mechanism is easier than putting traps all over the stupid game world. And it’s just as easy to program quest objectives for item acquisition (or touching a shrine or entering a vault) as it is for NPC deaths.

Oh, and you want an Appraisal skill added to the game? Dead fucking easy! Just make sure that low appraisal values means any item you put up for sale has its price shifted by a random value up or down. The lower the appraisal, the higher the random shift. And of course, this shift is invisible to the player character but visible to every OTHER character. Do you have a character with really poor appraisal? Then maybe that Orc Chieftain looks like a Young Orc as he hits you for massive damage. Hmmm, maybe you can’t even tell Orc males from females!

It’s not like thinking up these things is even difficult.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Systems Design Isn't About Software

With the invention of publishing, ancient engineers became modern engineers. That's because with publishing, engineers learned to specialize. Leonardo da Vinci was the last of the ancient engineers because he never published any of his work. He was also the last of the generalists.

Well, it's high time ancient designers became modern ones. By generalizing and by abstracting. By realizing their power. By realizing they're about designing complex systems and not economic systems or physical systems or software systems or political systems.

It's about ALL of them, and none of them. Design is about systems period.

If you're an analytic-synthetic, please get in touch with me so we can talk. So you can understand what you can do.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

You Are All Evil Scum. Bye bye.

None of you have the slightest clue what it's like to be an intellectual highly empathic person. To be a genuinely great person. But I'm in a fantastic mood so I'll enlighten you.

Being an intellectual means knowing just how high human potential reaches. It's fucking amazing. It's stratospheric. Queen barely does it justice in Princes of the Universe:

Here we are, born to be kings
We're the princes of the universe
Here we belong, fighting to survive
In a world with the darkest powers

Yeah, here we are, the pinnacle of a billion years of biological evolution. Here we belong, born to be kings of our home galaxy. Born to build 100 billion Dyson spheres. Born to birth a race of immortal near-omnipotent and -omniscient beings. That's our human potential.

And what part of that human potential is realized? What part of the empathy, the passion, the intellect, the curiosity, the knowledge, the creativity, the desire for progress and freedom is realized? Next to nothing. Just barely enough for some people to realize how sickening, how disgusting, how repulsive is the monumental waste of it all.

Instead of living in peace and justice, we've got wars and brutality. Instead of eradicating all diseases, we've got scrambling by greedy ignorant doctors in filthy hospitals. Instead of preventing diseases as a social responsibility, we've got an industry of snake oil salesmen peddling "cures" and "treatments".

Instead of education, we've got propaganda. Instead of thoughtfulness we've got groupthink and knee-jerk paranoia. Instead of empathy and caring, we've got rabid hatred. Instead of freedom and democracy, we've got totalitarian dictatorships (like the USA's) and oppression by the rich (in Western Europe). Instead of industrialism and progress, we've got stagnation and "sustainability". And on and on and on.

Being an intellectual, a real intellectual who cares nothing for their status or ego, means knowing everything about the ignorance, the oppression, the stagnation, the backwardness, the poverty, the starvation and the internecine genocidal warfare that are constantly afflicting human civilization just about everywhere on this planet.

And being highly empathetic, being the kind of anti-psychopath that's the exact opposite of everything the USA and Britain stand for (ie, "cool" apathy, serial killers, unremitting search for power and forever grinding of steel boots in human faces), means SUFFERING. It means suffering at the very thought of what the world is.

It means CONSTANT unremitting suffering. It means constant FRUSTRATION. Frustration like you've never experienced in your miserable little lives. It means HATRED like you might have towards the monster that raped and murdered your 3 year old child. It means being grim and hateful and angry and above all FRUSTRATED at one's inability to do anything about it all!

Genuine caring when coupled to genuine understanding means constant suffering, constant depression, constant misery. It means being lost in that hopeless little scream. It means unending torture just about every day of every month of every year of your entire fucking life....

Until you find the solutions. Beautiful solutions. Every single last one. Solutions that you know you can implement. Because they're self-sustaining and you just have to set them in motion.

Then it's an absolute flip. Absolute fucking flip. The anticipation, the excitement, the fucking RELIEF from never-ending pain. It's fucking ECSTASY. Except better! It's pure fucking joy.

So you know what? None of you are anything close to being good people. You live your entire lives not caring the least little bit about your fellow human beings, not one way or another. Oh you care about pretending, enough to make some despicable symbolic gesture like giving to "charity", but you don't give a fuck whether poverty is actually eradicated.

You don't care! The existence of poverty on this world, the same world you live in, hasn't got the power to move you. Hasn't got the power to depress you. Hasn't got the power to make you suffer. Hasn't got the power to give you joy at the mere thought of its pending, inevitable eradication.

I care. And that's why I'm a great person. And you're just scum. But I'm in such a fantastic mood that I don't give a damn. I'll share my joy even with you.

I have work to do now. Goodbye scum. I'll see you in a couple decades when I'm done.

And if anybody (which I doubt, but I live to be surprised) actually wants to do anything about this miserable civilization's problems (every single last one of them) and can put up with a grinning laughing maniac for the duration, you know how to reach me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Singularitarians Confuse SciFi Novels With Reality

I was thinking of space, and that led me to thinking of how much I hate the moronic hype around space travel. There's no good reason to go out into space for centuries. None at all. Which immediately made me think of how there's no fucking way fusion will ever happen on any large scale since it's ridiculously unviable economically. Which of course just made me think of how ridiculously overhyped AI is and how its hype fits very much the dot com euphoria.

And for a solid 15 minutes I was confused, baffled even. Where do these people get these moronic ideas to hype?! They're claiming to be rational, to be interested in physics, to be logical, and so on, and they come up with these utterly ridiculous things. It's such group-thinking bullshit, it's unbelievable. And then the light finally dawned, it took that long because I could never contemplate such a ludicrous idea, they're taking their inspirations from science fiction!

Is that why these morons believe in aliens and faster than light travel? Because scifi novels say so? What's next, terraforming planets to colonize them? Oh wait, there's that Mars crap. Ugh, how repulsive. Why the fuck would anyone want to go to Mars when they can go to the warmer, wetter and far more commodious Antarctica? Hell, we already have a "colony" there, all half dozen people freezing their balls off, desperately warming up to a nuclear reactor, and kicking out into the freezing cold anyone they wish "disappeared" (they keep that out of the news).

So I have to wonder now, if futurists are just science-fiction fans who've confused fiction with reality, what other genres of confusion are there? Are goths people who confuse horror fiction with reality? Are there any people who believe in elves and wizards or are we all agreed those aren't "really real"? I'd really like to know exactly what determines whether people confuse a genre with reality or not. Because it doesn't seem like anyone believes in wizards. But you know, plenty of people confuse books on historical mythology (Torah, Bible, Koran) with reality, and the plotlines and characters of those books suck and aren't even remotely believable.

On the other hand, maybe that's the rule. Maybe the more the plotlines are incoherent and the more characters violate all the rules of human psychology, maybe that triggers the confusion. Because I can't think of any other traits that historical mythology and science fiction share. And if that's the rule, well Pastafarianism's never made much sense. Is it going to turn into a genuine religion within 50 years?

In any case, I'm only now starting to realize there are whole new depths of human stupidity that I've never even imagined before. And given how low my opinion of humans' cognitive abilities has always been ... wow. Holy fucking wow! I mean, I always thought that religiosity had something to do with child abuse. But apparently, just publishing something in a book written in a certain way is enough to trigger human credulity.

On The Notion That "Everybody Is Really Selfish"

A friend of mine asked me what I thought of the idea that people do everything out of selfish reasons. That supposedly even if you do altruistic stuff, you do it because you enjoy doing it, therefore it's really selfish.

Well, first of all, I never credited this ridiculous notion for a single minute because I am a living counter-example. And I'm not the only one either. There's plenty of people who are grim about the world, or depressed, or angry. For fuck's sake, your typical pre-industrial farmer would qualify. Think of the Amish!

Secondly, it's just the kind of self-justifying crap spouted by satanists aka right-libertarians aka market fundamentalists (those groups have remarkably high overlap). What it boils down to is they're saying they're selfish so they assume everyone else must be (a common psychological failing that everyone is just like you, called projection).

Thirdly, this notion is fractally wrong. It isn't just factually wrong or wrong on several levels (like the meta-level where satanists are just justifying being egotistical bags of shit or where they're projecting their psychological flaws on others), it is wrong at every possible scale of resolution. The whole idea is wrong, the concepts that make up the idea are all wrong, and every single detail they use to justify it is wrong too.

Annihilating The Distinction

For instance, let's presume for the sake of argument the satanists WERE right and that everyone did things just because they enjoy it. Then it would automatically follow that "selfish" can't refer to that fact because language is made to be USEFUL. If you have a word that applies to EVERYTHING, then it's not a useful word, is it?

The only thing that makes the word 'selfish' useful in language is to distinguish selfish from altruistic people. If you annihilated the distinction, that's like annihilating the word entirely. If absolutely every object in the universe were yellow then there would be no point to having the word 'yellow' in any language because 'being yellow' would be an intrinsic property of 'being an object' and only philosophers would ever think twice about it.

Well, that's what's wrong with the whole idea of this crazy misbegotten attempt to redefine the word 'selfish' to justify satanism (right-Libertarianism) and psychopathy (American "rugged individualism" and corporate CEOs). Now let's look at the concepts that make it up! Starting with "enjoyment".


'Enjoy' isn't some nebulous fuzzy word that you get to attach to everything. It is a fucking SPECIFIC word. Very broadly, it means deriving pleasure. More specifically, there's four levels of enjoyment.

  • enjoying enjoyment - pleasure, sensualism (level 0)
  • enjoying the things you enjoy - intense liking, Zen, hedonism
  • enjoying caring about the things you enjoy - pride
  • enjoying caring about whether the things you enjoy are going well or badly - love (level 3)

What THEY are talking about is level 0 and possibly level 1. Because they are retarded morons and really primitive throwbacks. To say that someone motivated by love is the same kind of person as someone motivated by intense liking ... is fucking ludicrous. It is a fucking INSULT.

Values Are Axiomatic

And to say that people are motivated only and solely by these things is FALSE anyways. It's turning the human mind inside out. People aren't motivated by sensations or feelings, that's the kind of crap morons like Marvin Minsky thought. People are motivated by fucking VALUES (satisfied or unsatisfied desires). And values are abstract. They're just saying "I care about X" where X can be ANYTHING. It can be something simple like physical pleasure, or sex, or love, or pain, or seeing pain, or seeing suffering. Going backwards, that's schadenfreude and sadism and masochism. And finally, some people exist that just value entirely abstract things, things like truth and justice.

It is AXIOMATIC that they care about these things. Yes they derive enjoyment from those things, but only because they care about them in the first fucking place. To claim that the enjoyment is the REASON they care is so fucking stupid and entirely backwards. Values TRIGGER emotions as signals to your conscious mind that your values are being violated or fulfilled or something else. Emotions do not cause values! That's like claiming theorems cause axioms to happen in math, it is fucking backwards!


Or claiming that the purpose of doing science is to get Nobel prizes. Or the purpose of sex for men is to fertilize women. Just because something's sometimes a byproduct doesn't mean it's the deliberate purposeful end-goal of the activity. That's called teleological reasoning and it's generally wrong. And when you have every possible thing (every possible value) causing enjoyment in SOME people. How the fuck can alleviating pain in person 1 and causing pain in person 2 both be caused by enjoyment in both people? How can the emotion of enjoyment (at any level) cause BOTH person 1 wanting to inflict pain AND person 2 to alleviate pain?


This stupid satanic / market economist crap isn't illogical, it's anti-logical. It's a Just So story by egotistical self-righteous slimebags and just about as believable as "elephants grew trunks because they wanted to reach higher branches" and (simultaneously) "pigs grew shorter legs because they wanted to reach roots". As if that were some kind of fucking explanation. It's a NON-EXPLANATION people! And it's a fractally wrong one to boot. And it's a moronic redefinition of words in the cause of self-justification by egotistical bags of diseased slime.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Twin Blights of This World, or: Why Earth Sucks

This world has more than enough natural resources and intelligent minds to figure out how to use them. Yet it has disease, poverty, starvation, stagnation and ignorance. Why? Why the fuck does it have these horrible things? There is no material reason for it.

The reasons why distill down to:

  1. people who don't want to do anything about it
  2. people who can't do anything about it.

And I'm not talking about "apathy" or "powerlessness". I'm talking about evil and stupidity.


I'm talking about people like Eliezer Yudkowsky who only care about themselves, only about their own wants and needs. Though he may put up a convincing pretense otherwise, Yudkowsky would never consider punishing the members of his cult until they stop worshiping him mindlessly and start thinking for themselves.

I'm talking about people like William Gates III and Warren Buffet who care only about acquiring "tokens of economic exchange". Though they may put up a convincing pretense otherwise. William Gates III would never consider abolishing copyright law or advocating against aristocrat-controlled social services (so-called "private charities"). And Warren Buffet would never consider abolishing stock market speculation or abolishing public corporations.

I'm talking about people like Barack Obama and Al Gore who care only about domination and power. Though they may put up a convincing pretense otherwise. Barack Obama would never consider dismantling the US Congress and calling for a new Constitutional Convention. And Al Gore would never consider standing up for the truth and nothing but the truth, no matter what.

I'm talking about people like Steve Jobs and David Brin who care only about looking good. Though they may put up a convincing pretense otherwise. They would never consider doing anything that looked bad or reflected badly on them just to help the world.

Not a single one of them would ever consider abolishing or reforming the complex social systems they're exploiting ruthlessly in order to advance their own positions. Even though those systems are directly responsible for all the disease, starvation, poverty, stagnation and ignorance in this world. 

Why? Because they are evil! They care only about themselves. They're willing to mortgage all of humanity, all of civilization, the whole fucking planet even, for their own benefit! And that's why they're liabilities to, and can never be considered allies by, any intelligent well-meaning person.


I'm talking about the bloggers and letter writers and advocates who earnestly believe that "educating" and "informing" people will "change people's minds". Here's news for you: other people are just as stupid as you are and aren't going to believe anything you say unless it suits them. And even if it suits them, they're going to do fuck-all with this knowledge. Because knowledge doesn't change ingrained habits or values.

I'm talking about the protesters and activists who earnestly believe that "participating" in some ridiculous street theater to be gawked at by bystanders and laughed at by the media is going to change fuck-all about our social and political systems' behaviours. Here's news for you: the thing that killed the trade talks on property speculation and intellectual property was because China was dead set against it. It was going to happen anyways so just like the gay rights protesters, you accomplished nothing!

I'm talking about reformers who earnestly believe they can change the actions of a social system "from within". Here's news for you: social systems don't change their behaviours by absorbing new elements within themselves. For a system to change its behaviour just from assigning a new person to a predefined role inside it, the person so assigned has to be substantially different from the next most similar person from the entire pool of candidates for the given role. And the only way that's even remotely statistically possible is if you're the sole inheritor of a company. That's why it is logically and statistically impossible for you to ever change any large system by joining it. Why? Because dumbass, for all that you think you're a perfectly unique snowflake, you're really just like everyone else.

I'm talking about the ordinary people who earnestly believe that nothing that happens out in the wider world will ever affect their life. Here's news for you: if you're 40 years old then your generation had 20 years to industrialize China and India, and to modernize Russia and the USA. That's 20 years of educating people and making them wealthy enough to have leisure time. That's 20 years they could have been contributing to the scientific advance of humanity.

Because if you'd done that, then our planet would have been advancing scientifically and technologically at anywhere from two times to ten times as fast over a 50 year period (20 in the past, 30 in the future). And that 50 year period of super-accelerated scientific and technological advance would have almost certainly been enough to discover immortality within your lifetime. Immortality which you will now fail to have. Have you gotten the picture? The only reason you will die is because you were stupid enough to tell all the people who could help you to go fuck themselves! How's that for affecting your life?

Making This World NOT Suck

The fate of this world crucially depends on people smart enough to create new systems and altruistic enough to care only about civilization. Not about themselves, not about their stature, not about power, not about money, not about making a point, not about winning an argument, not about persuading others, and certainly not about looking good.

And while I'm at it, I'll note that mean is not evil, and nice is not good! Anyone primarily concerned with being nice is disqualified. There's a reason I don't respect people who whine that I'm a mean fucking bastard, and that reason is I automatically see these people as either stupid or evil. As if there weren't much higher priorities than making nice with idiots. As if it weren't sometimes necessary to castrate some lying egotistical scumbag actively working to destroy humanity.

The final criterion, as if there weren't enough criteria already, is that you have to know what the end result will look like. Because if you don't then you can never recognize "done". So for someone to make the Earth not suck, they will first have to know exactly what "not suck" looks like. Good fucking luck.

I don't know what to say beyond that. I don't want to say "the world is doomed, it's going to suck forever" because that's a lie. Nor do I want to say "you too can help this world by being less stupid and evil" because let's face it, you are stupid and evil. I've spent enough of my life interacting with you all to know this for a fact. Not that I ever needed to since look at this world! Yeah, and the very last thing I want to say is "don't worry your little head, I've got the problem in hand". Because guess what? You made this world a hellhole, you don't get off the hook. I will see you squirm!

No wait, I do know what to say. GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY. Because I don't want you to follow me and you're incapable of leading on this (if anything at all) so at least don't make it any worse for me.

And also, I've been saying "this world" because this world isn't my world. My world is what I'll make of ... this.

Why Go To Space? No Reason.

Let's first agree that by 2050 China will be entirely dependent on nuclear power and probably still have an engineering-heavy political leadership. As France does currently. So they'll be able and perfectly willing to build nuclear spaceships and nuclear launch cannons. Which means that cheap access to space will happen no matter what American aristocrats and lawyers want.

Personally I think it's a fantastic idea and I'm glad I'll be able to say 'just shut the fuck up' to rabid anti-human eco-zealot freaks. That just leaves open the question of whether humanity will ever WANT to go out into space before the resources of this world are completely exhausted and/or poverty, disease and ignorance have already been eradicated. The short answer to that question is: no.

Most space advocates just assume that going out into space is a good thing. Not good enough.

Helium-3: I just love the utter stupidity of this one. The justification for going into space is helium-3 for fusion, and the justification for helium-3 is going out into space. And none of these retarded cretins notice the circularity. Nor do they care that fission is so much cheaper than fusion can ever be that fusion will just never be economically viable.

Gold or other precious metals: why? What the fuck for? Seriously, we've got more than enough gold for our industrial purposes. Do we really want to go out into space to cater to some dumbass' vanity? Let's come back to mining gold in space after gold on the ocean floor has been exhausted. The ocean floor is a lot cheaper and more accessible.

Platinum and other mineral catalysts: now there's a good reason to go into space. However, we only need thousands of tonnes of platinum total, and we might find substitutes for platinum as our materials science advances, so platinum isn't a good reason to build a million tonne space delivery system.

Solar power: the sun shines 24 hours a day in space, and there's no pesky atmosphere to get in the way. That's fucking great! The only problem is we don't need solar power when we've got nuclear power plants!

Avoiding biowar: yes, biowar plagues designed and dispersed by lunatic morons working from their garages are in our future thanks to synthetic biology. One of these might even cause human extinction. Just think of what would happen if some nut created a version of HIV transmissible through the air. A great thought to warm the cockles of your heart.

So won't nuts try to escape the Earth in a panic, fleeing in droves? Yes maybe. Well, no. Why try to go out into space and then building a completely disconnected artificial life support system when you can just get on with it and build your completely disconnected artificial life support system down here on Earth? It's going to be a lot fucking cheaper and affordable!

Science and exploration: sorry buddy, this isn't a commercial reason to go out into space. Science and exploration can be used to justify absolutely everything. Hey, why not go see what's down in the Mariana Trench? For Science! Hey, why not vivisect a human being? For Science!

Intercepting nuclear missiles: this is just about the only good reason to go out into space. Without a nasty atmosphere in the way, blowing up missiles using a laser beam is ridiculously easy. The same thing for seeing them coming. The only problem is that without a nasty atmosphere in the way, kinetic kill rounds (delivered by the railguns the military is working on) are unstoppable. And protecting against nuclear missiles is a lot cheaper on Earth anyways since all you have to do is put up a cheap plastic dome around your cities. Moving your cities out into space is overkill, ridiculously expensive overkill.

Even weather, telecommunications and surveillance satellites are going to be obsoleted by UAVs and aerostats. The only thing satellites provide is rapid whole-earth coverage. And for that you need to be in low earth orbit, not geostationary or beyond orbit.

Short of preventing large asteroid collisions there just aren't any compelling reasons to go out into space in the 21st century, and probably not in the 22nd century either. And large asteroid collisions are sporadic, not guaranteed.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Today I explained to someone that the reason I hate Americans being fat is because it's directly connected to their encouraging universal psychopathy (automobiles) and abuse of children (forced eating). The connection's pretty weird but also pretty solid. It's hard to be neutral and blasé about a symptom that a nation is evil. And that's exactly the word I used too: evil.

Normalizing Insanity

And that was before I learned about the show Dexter on American television. The existence of that show is just the 57th piece of confirmatory evidence I have that yes Americans are evil to the core. (The 56th piece of evidence was '24 hours' which publicly advocated torture.) Put in clinical terms, the whole ridiculous notion that there exists in a healthy society a proper place for a psychologically unhealthy individual is empirically wrong and appallingly stupid.

In modern society, the proper path for a schizophrenic isn't to become a shaman, prophet or priest, it's to take anti-psychotic drugs and to cease having psychotic episodes. Nor is it the proper path for those prone to uncontrolled violence to become soldiers and police, far better for them to take all their vitamins so as to curb their violent impulses. Nor is it proper for psychopaths to become vigilante killers, rather it is proper for them to die. (We'll worry about their lives when there's a method of treatment or incarceration that doesn't just increase psychopathy.)

Encouraging Evil 

I have to say that it greatly disturbs and appalls me that there exists any nation on this planet that thinks making a show like Dexter is a good idea after the experience of Stanley Kubrick with making the film A Clockwork Orange only to then immediately pull it from all theaters because of copycat crimes. You can bet your ass the makers of Dexter don't have the slightest twinge of guilt over the murders they've inspired.

There's a reason why Canada routinely censors news and trials of murders and suicides. Because it inspires copycats and apparently there's just enough morality, decency and concern for human beings in Canadians to not want to be responsible for people dying. That's not very much decency you know. Yet even this fucked up Anglo country manages to easily pass this very, VERY minimal standard. Not so the USA.

Pretending Evil Is Banal

You know what the USA reminds me of? Rwanda just before the genocide, where everybody (including the aid agencies) kinda thought it was perfectly normal for the airwaves to be saturated by calls for the murder of Tutsis and people were distributing guns to anyone and everyone who wanted one. No, the USA isn't as bad as Rwanda and never can be. BUT the same cognitive dissonance and blatant disregard for the entire concept of evil is right there.

I want to be very specific though. What disturbs me isn't the psychopaths, the serial killers, and the violent criminals. What disturbs me is everyone else, supposedly possessed of empathy and human decency and the slightest bit of common sense, blithely going along with them without even blinking. It disturbs me that they ... just don't care. It disturbs me that it doesn't disturb them. It disturbs me how most of the population seems to act like psychopaths.

The Displacement Effect

Then again, I buy that pornography decreases actual sex by displacing it. I buy that rape porn decreases actual rape by displacing it. I buy that violent movies displace violent crimes. I buy that child porn displaces actual molestations of children (measured empirically). I have problems buying that a show about a murderous psychopath like Dexter satiates and displaces the desires of actual murderous psychopaths. Or maybe not.

Apparently, Dexter has ratings of 3-5 million viewers. Which is 1-2% of the American population. And as if by some coincidence, the USA has 2% psychopathy. If that's true, IF Dexter's entire viewing audience are psychopaths. And more importantly, IF all the longitudinal studies showing that young children raised on television grow up to become much more violent adults, IF all those studies are wrong THEN there's only one thing left for the USA to do: legalize child porn.

Except that argument doesn't work. You see, young children have no sexual desires so they won't seek out or watch child porn of their own free will. Young children do however have much less developed empathy and morality, so they will seek out a show promoting psychopathy like Dexter. So logically, a show like Dexter is much more dangerous to society than child porn can ever be.

So the argument goes the other way instead, if child porn is an abomination then everyone who participated in making, distributing, or even watching Dexter ought to go to jail and be publicly reviled. I'm okay with that.

Actually, it sounds like a fantastic idea.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Why We Need Systems Designers

Alan Cooper writes that there are three kinds of interfaces created by UI programmers. These are technological interfaces, metaphoric (or iconic) interfaces, and idiomatic interfaces.

Behind Technological Representations

This is how a programmer thinks. They've got this technology they're using, these "applications" and "windows" and "tabs" and "scroll bars". They've got these resources, these "web pages" and "files". And they've got their limitless self-centeredness and self-concern coupled with a total inability to judge good versus evil.

It doesn't matter to them that you don't care about files or pages or windows or tabs. It doesn't matter to them that your hard disk has more than enough gigabytes free to hold cached copies of several million pages. It doesn't matter to them that after reading a "page", you might secretly desire to forget about it entirely. It doesn't matter to them that you don't want to have to worry whether to "save" or "bookmark" or "close", or even to know what these things mean. Never mind "naming" and "organizing".

None of that's important to a programmer. None of it CAN BE important since your mind, your wants and needs are an impenetrable black box to them. What's important to them is the stuff they're dealing with. It doesn't matter to them what YOU are dealing with in your mind. It doesn't matter to them what YOU would LIKE to deal with. It doesn't matter what OBJECTIVELY would make YOUR day easier. The only thing that matters is themselves. And the notion that this is evil is utterly beyond them since the whole concept of objective good and evil is beyond them.

Technology is what they're dealing with and to them it's perfectly obvious that THEY will impose IT upon YOU. And if you squeal and suffer and are in pain then [smack] [smack] SHUT UP!! DON'T YOU KNOW TO BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN YOU UNGRATEFUL MENTALLY RETARDED IDIOT?! WORSHIP THE TECH GODS!! WORSHIP THEM!! PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY LT!! PRAISE THE GLORIOUS RMS!! PRAISES BE!! And goodness save you if YOU get angry at THEM.

So what's behind technology metaphors? Egotism, evil, and total moral blindness. A lovely mix of mental artifacts that yields such lovely results.

What Sustains Metaphors And Icons

Now, the "better" sort of programmer thinks much differently. They know that you matter. They know that technology metaphors suck. Well no they don't. What they know is that technology metaphors are only okay FOR THEM. They are keenly aware that you don't give a flying fuck about their technology. Let's all have a round of applause for them being aware of this most basic and obvious fact of life. [applause]

The problem is that your mind, your wants, your needs, your desires, and especially your goals, and thus by implication the entire hypothetical space of possibilities that would be useful to your goals ... remains utterly impenetrable to them. They don't have a single clue. They are entirely and forever totally fucking clueless. BUT that won't stop them. No sir, it won't!

You see, they are superior beings. I mean, it's self evident! They're programmers who can program, who can deal with the technology. And you ... can't. Yes you don't give a flying fuck about files and closing and naming and windows and tabs but there's an obvious and self-evident reason for that. It's so obvious even a fool could understand it. YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

The reason you don't care about technology isn't because it has absolutely fuck-all to do with your work or your goals or anything else about you. No, it's because you CAN'T deal with it. If you could then you'd be a programmer, wouldn't you? It's so fucking obvious! ANYONE would become a programmer if they. only. COULD.

But you can't because your name's Cletus or Jimbo and you've got an IQ south of 80. But don't worry your little head Cletus [pat on the head] the programmers will save you! See, we're going to make this "deletion" object into something you're familiar with. Hmm, a trash bin. Yeah, you're familiar with that, aren't you? If only as something the city folk use. And see these "folders"? Just like the ones your cousin Jed the high falutin lawyer uses in his "office"!

No Cletus, it's not "patronizing" because we all know you've always had a problem with lerning. There's no way you could lern what the "deletion object" does or how to recognize it if you weren't already totally familiar with it from the physical world. Your mama always said to leave the thinkin' to the bright folk.

So what's behind metaphoric representation? Hubris, disdain, condescension and false humility. And it creates such lovely results too! After 10 years on a computer, you're still dealing with a "desktop" and "folders" and a "recycle bin". Not you know, a 3D space with orbiting objects and a time machine. You don't need that! Do you? Umm, really? And your name's not Cletus? It's Sir Isaia Throckmorton?

What Powers Idiomatic Representations

Idioms are arbitrary so they can provide no inspiration nor guidance to structuring an interface to software. And software itself can do literally anything since a computer is just a machine that imitates other machines so there's no guidance to be gained from that either. The only guidance can come from the mind of the user itself.

Idiomatic interfaces aren't made by programmers. They can't be made by programmers since coming up with the ideas requires fathoming the unfathomable mind of the users. You have to be able to figure out what the user is thinking when they're refusing to tell you. You have to figure out what the user wants and needs. You have to figure out if their wants and needs further their goals. You have to figure out whether their goals make sense. And if they don't then you have to figure out what their goals should be given objective facts of society and psychology and morality.

And figuring out all of these things when the user won't tell you, when they CAN'T tell you because they don't even know ... well, that's a bit of a pain. But if you have synthesis, if you're spontaneously and effortlessly creative, then you will just barely be able to figure them out. It helps if you've studied human psychology, a bit. It helps more if you actually know the human mind better than any psychologist. But in order to be any good at it you need to be an intellectual who'll play around with pure ideas, for fun.

In order to design an idiomatic interface, you need to figure out human minds and then extrapolate them to entirely hypothetical situations. And in order to do that, you're going to need to possess in your own mind every cognitive faculty which human beings are capable of. You're going to need to be capable of logic because some human beings, some of them your users, are capable of logic. You're going to need to be capable of synthesis because your users, some of them, are capable of synthesis. You're going to need to be an intellectual because some of your users are intellectuals. You're going to need to be able to think anything because you need to be able to outthink EVERY human being. Good luck.

There aren't many people who fit the profile of systems designers. But that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how few or how many there are. What matters is that we need them. We NEED them to design our complex software systems. We need them to design our user interfaces. And above all, we don't just need systems designers. We need systems designers desperately.

Fulcrum Points of Civilization

The places where sticking a lever and pushing will lift up all of civilization. Arranged by effort to reward ratio.
  1. anarchistic catalog
  2. anarchistic media
  3. anarchistic OS
  4. cooperative software foundation with interaction designers
  5. medical expert system
  6. negative interest currency and community land trusts
  7. sortition - this one isn't as meta as it gets
  8. mini UAVs for drug smuggling
  9. small portable nuclear power plants - because coal kills trains
  10. automated construction - contour crafting and 3d printing
  11. bioreactors - in vivo meat
  12. stem cells and organ crafting
  13. synthetic biology
  14. mechanosynthesis
  15. inverted skyscrapers

Contour Crafting

One of the fulcrum points of society is Contour Crafting technology. What's the guy done in the past 5 years to develop this technology? My guess is absolutely nothing. This technology could be out there even without the integrated utilities he was going on about, but no. Apparently it's much better to keep it under wraps so nobody hears about it. What the fuck? It's not like he lacks money or interest, at least two different companies have worked with him.

This tech is much too important to the entire planet to leave it in the hands of one guy. If he doesn't come out with it then fuck him. If you know anyone with an aptitude or enthusiasm for mechanical engineering, then you might mention this to them. Once the tech is developed, it would be a very simple matter to sell it to the Chinese who don't give a flying fuck about patents or intellectual property.

All this planet needs is for one or two people to work on this and develop the technology.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

It'd Take A Dictator To Fix The USA

I think I could fix the USA if I were POTUS and were allowed to order just 10,000 to 20,000 assassinations. Following is a fairly comprehensive list of what needs to be done. I came up with 84 items off the top of my head:
  1. get rid of all prestige military projects like F22 "raptors", aircraft carriers, destroyers and stealth bombers
  2. pull out of military commitments
  3. get rid of all energy subsidies
  4. all agricultural production subsidies
  5. ethanol and "renewables" mandates
  6. make energy subsidies illegal
  7. order all states to claw back their past subsidies
  8. put a moratorium on highway construction
  9. switch all transportation funding to trains
  10. fund a vast high speed train network using sovereign debt
  11. fund city-owned fiber-optic networks
  12. claw back the billions given to telcos for this purpose which they never used
  13. condemn, dismantle and return to greenfield status any shrinking cities like Detroit
  14. reduce and repeal the laws underpinning the nuclear regulatory commission
  15. use sovereign debt to fund a fleet of nuclear power plants
  16. get rid of the federal reserve assholes
  17. get rid of the interest on federal reserve held money, holy fuck that's despicable
  18. claw back all money spent on the finance industry
  19. destroy the big American "banks", not just "let" them fail
  20. guarantee small retail banks
  21. use sovereign debt for building coal to liquids and gas to liquids plants
  22. put a moratorium on ALL greenfield private property construction
  23. kill speculation on land by a land value tax
  24. kill currency speculation by a currency exchange tax
  25. kill wall street by making publicly traded corporations illegal
  26. kill the finance industry by nationalizing the deed lookup company and making illegal all the shenanigans
  27. encourage cooperatives and credit unions
  28. force aristos' vehicles, the "civil society" to disclose at least 95% of their fundings' sources
  29. put in a punitive tax rate
  30. put in a punitive inheritance tax
  31. repeal tax-free status for charities, trusts and religions
  32. cooperate on money laundering and tax havens
  33. end the war on drugs, institute sin taxes for marijuana, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy
  34. recognize marijuana and ecstasy as first-line medical drugs for persistent nausea and PTSD
  35. institute wholesale taxes, repeal sales taxes
  36. keep services taxes
  37. end all paroles - commute all past sentences accordingly
  38. end all prison labour
  39. end copyright
  40. end patent law
  41. pardon any offenders of copyright and patent law
  42. institute clawbacks for copyright violation verdicts in favour of media companies
  43. move to a scandinavian model for prisons
  44. deprivatize prisons
  45. repeal all surveillance
  46. institute transparent government
  47. fund a negative income tax with a livable floor
  48. end the welfare bureaucracy
  49. institute and fund parenting places to teach best practices from pregnancy on up
  50. criminalize the beating of children, with no exceptions or allowable defense
  51. depoliticize FEMA
  52. refloat New Orleans by injecting seawater into the petrol reservoir underneath the city, charge the oil companies that have emptied it sinking the city
  53. end all bioweapons research
  54. dismantle the CIA
  55. declassify and release all its files
  56. repeal the national secrets act 
  57. sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  58. turn over highest jurisdiction to European Court of Human Rights
  59. submit to the International Court of Justice
  60. unilaterally relinquish the USA's seat on the UN Security Council
  61. submit to the International Criminal Court
  62. consent to the judgement against the USA in favour of Nicaragua in the International Criminal Court, pay reparations for waging war without ever declaring it
  63. turn over all present and previous US state officials and members of the CIA who have international warrants pending for war crimes and crimes against humanity
  64. cut off all aid to Israel, embargo it
  65. condemn its Apartheidal national fascist regime
  66. normalize relations with Cuba
  67. invite Cuban doctors to teach and practice preventive medicine
  68. deprivatize all emergency services like ambulances
  69. fund universal single payer health care
  70. buy and order a comprehensive survey of the effectiveness of all medical treatments and practices
  71. make second best more expensive practices illegal
  72. break the balls of pharma, use generics wherever possible
  73. make it a criminal act to glorify psychopaths or narcissists
  74. institute and fund universal mandatory HIV testing, make sure non-disclosure of status to sex partners counts as attempted murder
  75. institute mandatory testing for psychopathy for anyone in a position of authority, make them pariahs on failure
  76. pull out of ITER
  77. end NASA's manned space programs, dismantle the space shuttles, fire NASA's top directors
  78. turn over the International Space Station to the Europeans and Russians
  79. permit the leasing of nuclear explosives for the purpose of space launch from remote regions
  80. make the possession, production, importation and exportation of any gun shorter than the longest hunting rifle everywhere illegal and revoke all licenses
  81. give police the power to make random searches for guns with only the possibility of arresting for gun, ammunition and explosive-related offenses on such a search (not even finding a dead body would count)
  82. dismantle SWAT teams, drug units, and other ineffective specialized units (homicide?) everywhere
  83. outlaw fascist parties and cults, have the FBI crack down on them
  84. condemn waving of the flag as fascist
  85. institute comparative religion classes in all schools
  86. institute comparative history classes in all schools (Russian vs German vs American history in particular)
  87. publicize the truth about the Russians beating the Nazis, not the Americans
  88. cap the maximum size of schools at 200 students, make hall passes and other totalitarian practices illegal
Alternatively, I could institute sortition and let all of the above follow as a natural consequence. Of course, this gradual way would result in a greater total number of deaths since the status quo is quite deadly. 

But even without any of the above, I honestly think the world would be a better place if I got the option of assassinating all:
  1. American state and federal congressmen, senators, and judges
  2. preachers and televangelists
  3. economists everywhere
  4. American CEOs and board members
  5. corporate lawyers
  6. bankers at any of the big fake-banks
  7. prison guards
  8. air force pilots
  9. celebrity journalists and media owners
  10. directors of wealthy American charities or other "civil society" organization

I would also add American cops, criminologists, doctors and all anthropologists to the list, but those are less clear cut so there's much less of a benefit to humanity from killing them.

Note that I would not NEED to assassinate every single one of them. Just start with killing 100-100-100 congressmen, preachers, and economists on the first day, then kill the most prominent and annoying 20-10-10 each and every day. That's a solid year of death, more than long enough for absolute terror to settle like a fog on those professions and for their evil practitioners to bug out like the rats they are.

So you see, yes I really could fix the USA if I was POTUS and could arrange the assassinations of 20,000 people with impunity. Whether the USA could survive the blowback and hysterical panic of my fixing it is a totally separate question. And one I haven't got an answer to.

There is an awful lot of schadenfreude stored up in ordinary Americans so I think they would go for it. I think China would love it and the Saudis would hate it. Saudi Arabia would no doubt sponsor more terrorists to attack the USA in retaliation.

Billionaires would try to flee of course but I could always have them assassinated, or even make an example of the first twenty. By which I mean, wait until at least twenty leave then have them all assassinated at once to make sure a clear message is sent.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Life Creates Entropy

Some pretty smart people have gotten the notion that life opposes entropy, that it creates order and retards the heat death of the universe. That's not even remotely true. I suspect they have a weak grasp of entropy's relation to 'order' otherwise they would know how completely illusory the perception of life creating order is.


You see, information, entropy, order, these are all words that mean exactly the same thing. They are physically identical things. Entropy is information. It's just that entropy is the kind of plentiful low-level information that the human sensory and nervous systems screen out as irrelevant. Our brains blank it out. Order meanwhile is also information, just high level - it's the kind of sparse information our brains find meaningful to watch out for.

Entropy is basically the physical universe's spam. Energy is the universe's hard drive capacity. And information is the sum total of what's on the hard drive. Gibbs free energy is the drive's free space, which you can move around from place to place at the cost of sacrificing some of it to hold more spam. And 'order' is user data.

Now to understand the whole thing you have to realize that information can never, ever be erased from the physical universe. Stephen Hawking thought you could in extreme circumstances and he was overwhelmingly, stupidly wrong. So when junk accumulates, it uses up hard drive capacity forever (ie, it obeys the second law of thermodynamics). At some point, all the space becomes unusable because it's filled with spam (the universe suffers heat

And on the hard drive are life forms (AI) that create an enormous amount of junk data (called "heat" or "entropy") just to maintain a few bits of what they consider user data. Every time they "erase" a bit of user data, it becomes a gigabyte worth of junk data. But they're dumb so they're pleased. And it's not like they have much choice since they don't know how to use the computer too well (they're
low tech).

(Negentropy is just any mechanism that destroys information. So far, there aren't any.)

The upshot of all this is that living systems create megabits per second in order to preserve a few tens of bits of information around. The notion that the tens of bits are more important than the megabits each second is pure illusion and completely ridiculous.



(((1 watt) * (1 / (3 Ghz))) / (300 kelvin)) / Boltzmann constant = 8.04773744 × 10^10

A bunch of RAM operating at 3 gigahertz (ie, ridiculously fast) consuming 1 watt of power will pump 80 gigabits into the environment as heat. So the first question is just how much RAM would 1 watt power? Would it power 10 gigabytes? Maybe. Naaah.

The second issue is that if the average lifespan of data in the memory is 1 second, then the memory pumps out 10 gigabytes per third of a nanosecond * 3 billion = 28 exabytes per second, in order to sustain 10 gigabytes. Or if you divide both sides of the equation, you get that for every single byte of order, RAM pumps out 3 gigabytes of entropy.

The math just doesn't work people.

Biological systems use a lot less energy (ie, waste free energy by crapping lots of useless information on it), but then again, computer hardware uses up zero energy on "just living". Computers don't have digestive systems or musculatures. And electric turbines are more than 30% efficient while electric motors are more than 90% efficient. Both of those numbers are way, way above what biological bodies are able to achieve. Photosynthesis is only about 5% efficient.

But I don't have to guess. Here are the numbers for the human brain,

(((20 watt) * (1 / ((10^16) hertz))) / (300 kelvin)) / Boltzmann constant = 482,864

10^16 operations per second is generous. 20 watts is about average. So for every single bit operation the human brain performs, it pumps out half a million bits.

In the grand cosmological sense, the purpose of life isn't to fight entropy. The purpose of life is to create it.

For those who wish to learn more: reversible computation, Toffoli gates and entropy.

Obama Is Worse Than Stalin

In the USA, millions of oppressed people are starving or dying from lack of access to food, drugs or medical treatment.

In the USA, public hygiene and anti-poverty measures to save the oppressed underclass from runaway plagues such as tuberculosis, MRSA and HIV are non-existent.

In the USA, citizens' private communications are under constant 24 hour surveillance.

In the USA, citizens can be stripped of all of their possessions for having listened to a song.

In the USA, Imagine by John Lennon is censored because it is illegal to imagine a world without christofascist religion.

In the USA, the laws as written never matter, only your connections to the ruling class and the Party.

In the USA, the rate of incarceration quadrupled over the last thirty years, even as the rate of violent crime halved.

In the USA, 2.3% of the general population were either incarcerated or under some form of limited release. Under Stalin in 1951, the Gulag system held 1.4% of the general population.

In the USA, police torture of prisoners is protected by the State.

In the USA, most prisoners are in prison for political crimes like smoking grass (made illegal because it represents lack of ambition and treason to the Mexicans).

In the USA, and unlike in civilized countries such as China, Kenya and Serbia, prisoners are stripped of their every last political right.

Not that it matters since vote rigging makes voting meaningless, in the dictatorship that is the USA.

Not that this matters since bribery is officially permitted, in the third-world dictatorship that is the USA.

In the USA, prisoners are forced to work as slaves, just like in the Gulag system.

The big difference is that Stalin's Gulag system was dismantled almost immediately after his death, after 30 years of life. The USA's prison system has already had 30 years of growth, has been institutionalized, and so seems set to be dismantled only after the position of POTUS is dismantled.

The other big difference is that Stalin lived and ruled back when fascism was openly espoused and practiced by every advanced country, when fascism was normal. Today, the USA is a fascistic totalitarian dictatorship when democracy is normal.

Obama is POTUS and POTUS is worse than Stalin, therefore Obama is worse than Stalin.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

How Pandora Should End

Have I lowered myself to watch this amazingly stupid, inane, over-hyped piece of crap pandering to eco-zealots? Of course not. Yet I still feel I'm in a position to comment and offer insight on it based on the incredible amount of fanfiction I've read about it. I'm referring to two stories on FFNet Invasion of Pandora and Pandora's End.

And I say again, reading two stories about Pandora being incinerated is an incredible amount of devotion and benefit of the doubt I'm showing to this amazingly stupid movie. Though I'm willing to extend my show of devotion if someone will just write a story about Daleks showing up on Pandora screaming EXTERMINATE! and INCINERATE! Because let me tell you, that thought put a happy smile on my face last night as I went to sleep. It's definitely the kind of Happy Thought pure magic is made of.

What The Movie Is All About

Remember the civilians working on the Avatar project complaining about a fucking jarhead on their civilian, diplomatic project? And at the end of the day, instead of the jarhead negotiating a peace treaty with the aliens like he was supposed to do, what does he do? He betrays his entire species and dooms them to poverty and death.

Because battle and mass murder & death are "cool". Because humans ought to all die and only Amerindian anti-progress enviro-freaks ought to live. And treason is a-okay so long as it's for those causes. So yeah, I only realized yesterday the civilians were right: putting a fucking jarhead in charge doomed their species.

The real lesson of the movie isn't that eco-zealots are right. No, it's that jarheads are never to be trusted because they're all violent traitorous psychopaths concerned only with looking good. A statement that is definitely true of the air force by the way. But I wouldn't go so far as to say it characterizes the macho marines, the snobbish navy, or the ... well whatever the fuck the army is.

How To Improve The Movie

To improve Avatar, you first have to realize its most basic flaw. And that flaw isn't that it's pandering to eco-zealot gaia-fascist druid-fundamentalist nutbars. Nor is it that this stupid planet has an impossible biology. Nor is it even that it's blatantly anti-progress and anti-human. No, its most basic flaw is the whole ridiculous notion of a "war" between an interstellar civilization and a planet-bound species of no-tech primitives.

That's what the whole stupid movie is about, isn't it? The "war". And it is utterly fucking impossible because this is what a space-based civilization would actually do:

  • mine the local asteroid belt (there is always one) to construct giant mirrors with a surface area totaling (1000 km)^2. ((1 micron) * ((1000 km)^2) * (7.85 tonnes)) per (cubic meter) in tonnes = 7 850 000 tonnes. It's basically a small solar sail and you won't need to mine more than a single asteroid.
  • tow then set up the giant mirrors in orbit of the habitable planet.
  • flash fry a square landing site, turning it into nice smooth glass by carefully redirecting a beam of sunlight of temperature 10^2 * 300 Kelvin = 30,000 kelvin onto a (100 km)^2 square area for 1 second.
  • OR slow broil a square landing site by redirecting a beam of sunlight of temperature 1 * 300 kelvin onto a (1000 km)^2 square area for 1 day (so that at midnight the temperature consistently reaches above 100 celsius on the ground, all the water boils off, the jungle gets dessicated then it spontaneously ignites in a beautiful firestorm that sterilizes and breaks down all the biochemical poisons in the atmosphere).
  • continue carving the landscape at will, pulverizing mountains and creating new riverbeds.
  • wait a couple days for it all to cool off.
  • land near the largest lake in the zone of death umm safety.
  • start mining operations at the landing site.
  • make contact with the natives and inform them of what you want by pointing to some mineral ores. (The advantage of the slow broil approach is now obvious, especially performed at night when it will be more spectacular. The disadvantage of slow broil is that it delivers thousands of times more energy to the landing site than flash fry.)
  • incinerate whatever (100 km)^2 square on the grid that the natives attack from. One square for every casualty you incur.
Bingo, within a fortnight, antagonizing you will become a capital crime among the natives.

You know, I think my plan might be overkill by about a factor of 100. Which just goes to show how fucking easy it is to kill primitive tribal morons when you're in space!!

So yeah, if you get rid of that entire amazingly stupid "war" and let the Navi be incinerated then that would improve the movie tremendously. Or you could make a sequel based on that. You know, Earth saying "alright you scum suckers, so you want to get SERIOUS?"

If you're going to create a movie lionizing the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder that is "nature" then it might as well be the collective murder of uncivilized backwards tribal primitives.

The Hand of God

Oh yeah, that massive shaft of sunlight could just as easily have been redirected to the polar regions, melting the ice sheets and turning a continent like Antarctica inhabitable. A square 1000 km on a side is a fair amount of living space you know.

And if it were directed to the oceans, well you know the scene in Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home where the space-whale probe starts boiling the oceans in order to sterilize the Earth? THAT is what it would look like.

I think there is a good reason why the hand of god in Populous 3 is represented by a shaft of sunlight.

How To Talk To People And Why It's Not Worth It

Most people think talking about a subject is about teaching and learning or (for the relativists) pushing one's point of view.

Some people grow cynical and think talking about a subject is about acquiring status and gaining reputation or even just looking good. These people think they are clever and know something other people don't.

Well, I am not so limited (and even if I were, I'm contrarian enough to abuse anyone stupid enough to care about my reputation) so I operate on many more levels and have been since at least 2000.

The game - arguing with facts and logic to prove a point. I include here in the game the entire meta-hierarchy of authority and epistemology.

The meta-game - proving a point so as to shape one's reputation.

The meta-meta-game - shaping one's reputation in order to reshape discourse.

The meta-meta-meta game - reshaping discourse in order to effect a quantitative change in society.

Nowadays that's where I stop because it's just for fun. In order to play the game seriously, for keeps, there has to be another meta-level to it.

The meta-meta-meta-meta game - effecting quantitative changes so as to reshape the permanent direction of society.

But really, thinking there's anything you can say in a discussion forum, or any other medium, to reshape the direction of society is quite conceited. Of course, it says something about me that it took me years to learn that lesson.

This lesson I'm now teaching falls under the category of "effecting a quantitative change in society". I hope to open a few minds but I don't expect it. I hope some of you learn 'this is what I could be doing' and 'there are no limits to my power if I think hard enough on it'.

A million people protesting out in the streets will have ... absolutely no effect. But a single person using their mind to find the fulcrum points of society, can use the leverage to lift it up in its entirety.

A bit of sage advice: those fulcrum points are pretty high up the meta-level hierarchy. It takes many years to identify them. I know exactly where they are. There are 5 easy ones that can be actioned by a single motivated individual, they are:
  1. anarchistic catalog
  2. anarchistic media
  3. anarchistic OS
  4. cooperative software foundation with interaction designers
  5. medical expert system
  6. negative interest currency and community land trusts
  7. sortition - this one isn't as meta as it gets
  8. mini UAVs - for drug smuggling
  9. small portable nuclear power plants - because coal kills trains
  10. automated construction - contour crafting and 3d printing
  11. bioreactors - in vivo meat
  12. stem cells and organ crafting
  13. synthetic biology
  14. mechanosynthesis
  15. inverted skyscrapers

I think it's telling that every single last one of the fulcrums with the power to change society is a complex system. The low hanging fruit has all been taken - if you find another, it's probably poisoned.

Note that I didn't include object-oriented architectural design software because it's already been made and is out there. And AI, space travel, and direct reduction of steel are linear - their rewards are linear to their costs.

I am for obvious reasons being deliberately obscure on the first 3. I don't like it but I'm hoarding that knowledge for now. The main reason why is that if I explained the idea then my enemies (the landed aristocrats and other anti-human anti-progress assholes) would find a way to thwart it by following Worse Is Better. I'll explain the secondary reason why in my next series on Innovation.