Archive for category Social Issues

On Civil Disobedience

Today, the Guardian published remarks by Michael Hayden, former director of the US National Security Agency, with regard to Edward Snowden’s actions in revealing our government’s immoral actions against its own citizens. Here’s what Hayden said:

If Snowden really claims that his actions amounted to genuine civil disobedience, he should go to some English language bookstore in Moscow and get a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. Thoreau points out clearly that civil disobedience gets its moral authority by the willingness to suffer the penalties from disobeying a law, even if you think that law is unjust.

Here’s the problem with the whole “it’s the law and must be obeyed or suffered” paradigm:

The law said slavery was okay and provided for punishment for trying to escape slavery. The law said repressing women’s right to vote was okay, and provided punishment for women who tried to vote. The law said informed, consensual personal choice of sexuality was not okay, and punished people for such choices in the bedroom and elsewhere.

First, none of those things are actually okay. Those laws were (and remain) immoral and wrong; and more to the point, anyone who charged anyone under those laws was immoral and wrong, anyone who advocated punishment under those laws was immoral and wrong, and of course, anyone who applied punishment under those laws was immoral and wrong.

Second, with regard to Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, which (essentially) says that the moral authority for civil disobedience comes only from being willing to suffer the slings and arrows of an unjust law’s unjust punishment, not only no, but hell no.

The moral authority for civil disobedience comes directly and inevitably from the fact that the law is morally wrong.

There is no moral authority in advocating, creating, obeying or enforcing a law that is wrong, nor in simply declaring “it’s the law.” Only moral failure.

For instance, when you make a law that says (or supports the idea that) slavery is ok, there is nothing that can make that law moral. There is nothing that can make obeying that law moral. There is nothing that can make disobeying that law immoral. The only moral path available to you is to outright disobey the law. Anything else is immoral.

If you want the law to have moral authority, the only way you can achieve that is to create moral laws.

Our central problem in this regard is that our politicians and a very large number of the people they have appointed are, in fact, immoral individuals acting contrary to the interest of the public at large and every individual they are supposed to be working in service of. Not to mention breakers of the oaths they took that give them the moral right to hold the offices they sit. They don’t deserve to be supported in any such undertaking. They deserve to be kicked in the shin. Hard.

Now, yes, it is true that in fighting immoral government acts, you may indeed suffer at its hands. That is the core nature of immorality; it does others wrong. But that is a far cry from any legitimacy for the conception that says you should so suffer. Thoreau was flat-out wrong. So is Hayden, acting as an echo chamber for Thoreau. And just so we’re perfectly clear on the issue of the day: Snowden was, and remains, right.

If you would like to take away a money quote about law that is moral in its characterization of law, rather than the sophist nonsense Thoreau was (and Hayden is) peddling, I’m delighted to oblige (emphasis within the quote mine):

…in so far as [law] deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.

Thomas Aquinas

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Real Change is Coming

We are facing a brand-new set of oncoming challenges. There’s never been a situation previously where a significant (and likely unlimited and continuously, and rapidly, growing) wave of higher-qualified workers who did not require wages entered the workforce.


I discuss LDNLS vs. AI over in this other post. These things are affecting the job market now. There’s no remaining time to feel or act complacent.

Increasingly sophisticated LDNLS Workers that never cheat, never steal, are never late, very rarely “sick”, have no unions, no wages, no insurance, no internecine or even trivial conflict, don’t get pregnant, who never have to stay home with sick kids or spouse, don’t need or want a cafeteria, a gym, breaks, a lunch hour, tips, or stock options; are unfailingly polite, even sympathetic, immune to office romance, gossip, corporate espionage, complaints of mistreatment; have no interest in and do not require promotion, will never misuse company time, and are replaceable the very moment something more effective is available without any consequences to social security charges, unemployment tithing, legal costs, or need for security personnel to walk the previous “employee” to the door.
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Trump Will Not Win

Trump has no chance at all of winning the presidency.


Not as a Republican, and not as an Independent. I will explain why in detail. It won’t take long.
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Introducing the SJW language

Mellow greetings, special butterflies

Today (not to disrespect those on the other side of the national dateline – when I say today, I mean everyone’s today!) I (with full credit to everyone everywhere, of course) would like (this is not a statement of exclusion for things I don’t like) to introduce SJW, the language you can share without fear (not that fear is wrong, of course.)


• No insert() function: Instead, we have crafted a flawless nomeansno() function
• Fully complementary yesmeansno() and maybemeansno() functions
• No try:, because every function generates an exception!
exit() has been replaced with aloha().
• Procedure calls have been replaced with the respectful request paradigm, which obey the global mood settings
• 100% private internal assumption for all functions; offering data requires guessing if the function will take it or crash (exceptions guaranteed)
• Every access from within a function to another function must be embedded in a call to politewrapper()
politewrapper() implements infinite recursion by use of counters instead of ever returning up a level
• Every function ends with a sequence of calls to apologize(), cleanup() and washreturnvalue()
• All programs will be created equal: all code is treated exactly the same and does exactly the same thing, which is apologize for running.
• All programs are required to check their privileges before running.


I apologize for saying “national dateline” when clearly I should have said “international dateline.” I am sorry for any consternation caused to nationalists, internationalists, jingoists, and timekeepers. In addition, I apologize to anyone I failed to mention. I will now enter into a voluntary two-week exclusion from mentioning time in any form. I also apologize for violating that two week exclusion with the previous sentence. Also, as “previous” is a timewise reference, I also apologize for that. I’m sorry. Truly sorry. Which is not to offend those of you who are more sorry about other things. I fully respect that, I swear. Not in an offensive way, of course.

A Cautionary Wail

First they came for the aggressors, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not an aggressor.

Then they came for the micro-aggressors, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a micro-aggressor.

Then they came for the nano-aggressors, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a nano-aggressor.

Then they came for me—and I meekly submitted.

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Is AI, or Artificial Intelligence, a meaningless term?

Several times now I have been confronted with the proposition that AI — artificial intelligence — is so squishy a word that we just can’t say what it means. The implication apparently being that it can be legitimately used for just about anything. I disagree. Strongly. While there may be room for plenty of “squishyness” on this road, the problem right now is that no one has even gotten on the road.
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Good Idea, Bad Idea

If the country wants to infringe on the citizen’s right — not just the citizens who have been perfect, but also citizens who have done wrong — to keep and carry arms, then we should amend the constitution. As it stands now, an accurate reading of the second amendment clearly forbids infringement by the government on the citizen’s right to keep and carry. Yes, sophist (and often ridiculous) reasoning has resulted in a wide variety of constitutionally unauthorized legislation along the lines many are suggesting, but again, as these laws are in fact unauthorized, there is no salient reason — outside of fear of unauthorized, coercive violence on the part of the government — for any citizen to respect them, much less obey them.

I am not — repeat, not — in favor of the second amendment as it stands today. But I am even less in favor of allowing or encouraging the government to ignore the constitution under any circumstances. That has led directly to torture; complete inversion of the commerce clause; surveillance, search and seizure without a warrant or even probable cause; repression of speech; direct government support and fostering of religion; ex post facto law; de facto double jeopardy; the taking of land for commercial purposes; and much, much more along the same lines.
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Consciousness: on the Nature of the Inherently Inexplicable

In this essay I will describe my take on what consciousness is, and by process of elimination, what it is not. To further an understanding of my ideas on the matter, I’m going to briefly describe the nature of some software to you. It is not artificial intelligence software. Even so, there is a notable, relevant thing that happens to the user’s perception of this software when it is being executed by a computer. I very strongly suspect that this parallel points precisely to the absolute nature of consciousness.
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Median net worth of congressmembers: 1m. Wonder Why?

Congress, under pressure from their constituents, after continuously taking advantage of insider trading law exceptions to enrich its members, made insider trading by its members illegal in 2012 (this was known as the STOCK act, bill S.2038) The mechanism to enforce this was public access to the records of the members of congress.

Then, the 113th congress quietly passed bill S.716.ES into law (how quietly? Unanimously, no debate, no recorded vote, total voting time: 14 seconds), which eliminated public access to the records of the president, vice president, any member of congress, and any candidate for congress.

Naturally, members of congress are in the perfect position to know about many advances and changes with regard to corporate value fluctuations. They make the laws that cause many of those value fluctuations, and then of course there are the lobbyists.

If I had access to this information for several years, as do congress members, I’m sure my net worth would be quite different from what it is now too.

But hey, no one cares. ‘Murica, right? Let’s get those tech jobs sent overseas while we stop the Terrible Threat Of Immigrants. Perhaps then I’ll be able to utilize my extensive programming skills doing… yard work. Thanks, congress. Thanks, corporations.

Congress: 14% approval rate, 94% re-election rate. You explain it. I can’t.

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