You Have No Power Here


If you mine asteroids in space do you own what you mine? The answer is obviously yes. But even though the answer is obvious the United States government felt it was appropriate to vote on the matter:

On Tuesday evening Congress took a key step toward encouraging the development of this industry by passing on H.R. 2262, the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, with bipartisan support. The legislation provides a number of pro-business measures, such as establishing legal rights for US citizens to own resources in outer space as well as extending indemnification for commercial launches through 2025.

This vote, more so than most, is irrelevant because the United States government, even if it could justify dominion over space, cannot enforce any of its laws in space. The United States has no spaceships, let alone ones capable of blowing shit up. And while it could theoretically lay claim to any materials returned to Earth it would be foolish to do so because a space-based miner could easily deliver the material directly (when you’re at the bottom of a gravity well it’s not wise to make demands of those at the top of the gravity well).

Space is a wonderful place for those desiring freedom. No government currently has any enforcement capabilities in space and if they did there is no effective stealth in space. Miners operating in the asteroid belt could see any Earth-based warships months ahead of time and move operations or push large rocks into the path of the encroaching ships (and a ship only has so much fuel to use for maneuvering so it’s likely the warships would exhaust their fuel supply before the miners would run out of rocks to push).

This is why I think efforts to colonize space are more productive than seasteading. Treaties may say international waters aren’t under the jurisdiction of any particular government but those treaties won’t stop a government from sending its navy to take a seastead. Physics, however, makes it difficult for a government to get a force into space and even if it does physics makes it nearly impossible to effectively use that force unless the target is at the bottom of a gravity well. When your goal is freedom it’s better if natural laws have your back than human laws.

Statist Logic

Secession continues to be popularly supported in Catalonia much to the chagrin of Spain. The Spanish government, desperate to maintain its dominion, is trying to find a way to justify using force when the Catalonians decide to strike out on their own. Justification for the State usually takes form of very formalized rituals that are somehow supposed to absolve it of sin. One such formalized ritual is the court decision:

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would not allow the secessionists to achieve their aim. “They want an end to democracy,” he said.

He said Monday’s Catalan vote was a “clear violation” of the constitution.

The motion called on the regional parliament to aim for independence within 18 months.

It gives the assembly 30 days to start legislation on a Catalan constitution, treasury and social security system.
Catalan nationalist parties secured a majority of seats in September elections but fell short of winning half the vote. They had said before the vote that they considered it a de facto referendum on independence from Spain.

Spain’s state prosecutor had called on the Constitutional Court on Wednesday to suspend the Catalan resolution immediately, the prime minister said after an emergency cabinet meeting.

This is logic only a statist could accept. First the Prime Minister is claiming that Catalonia wants to end democracy but the Catalonians voted the secessionist into the assembly and the motion to establish a Catalan constitution, treasury, and social security system. How is it democratic if the Spanish government votes on a matter but not democratic when the Catalan government votes on a matter? Rajoy’s claim makes no sense.

The second thing that makes no sense is Spain’s state prosecutor asking the Constitutional Court for a ruling. Since the Catalonians want to secede why does the Spain government think they give two shits about what its Constitutional Court thinks? Its decision also makes no difference. If it rules to suspend the Catalan resolution what happens next? Spain marches troops into Catalonia to terrorize and kill anybody who resists. No sane person would claim the Constitutional Court ruling would absolve those troops of murder. Only a statist could argue that a formalized ritual performed by robed members of a government court can make the act of murder not murder.

I truly hope Catalonia secedes and I hope its secession kicks off a trend of sescession that continues until each individual has seceded from every manner of government in that region.

Political App Wants You To Sell Out Your Friends

Privacy is hard because once you lose exclusive knowledge of your personal information you can no longer control its proliferation, which is why Benjamin Franklin said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Making matters worse is that personal information is very valuable. Can you trust everybody who, for example, has your phone number not to give it out to unsavory sorts, especially when they believe they’re getting something in return? Ted Cruz’s campaign is betting on your friends being Benedict Arnolds by providing them with your contact information in exchange for imaginary Internet points:

Whenever a new user logs in, the app asks for access to their phone’s contact list. Turning over that information earns a user 250 points. By comparison, a contribution only gets 10 points.

“While we don’t keep anything that they share, what it does allow us to do is identify within a person’s contact list, those voters that may be part of our core targeting list,” Wilson says.

The campaign is searching for information — names, address, phone numbers — that match up with possible Cruz voters. “We have scored the entire national voter file, in terms of their likelihood to support Ted Cruz,” Wilson says. “So if we identify that you have 10 friends in Iowa who are potential Cruz supporters, then we’ll ask you to reach out to those people.”

I’m not sure how Wilson can claim Cruz’s campaign doesn’t keep any collected information and then claim it uses that information to identify potential supporters. The only way to match up such data is if you have it on hand. There is also the question of what criteria they use to determine if a person in your contact list is a potential supporter. My guess is they call to hit them up for a campaign contribution.

In addition to being an example of scummy behavior this story is a great demonstration of how hard maintaining privacy is. If one of your friends is a rabid Cruz supporter would you trust them not to hand over your contact information in exchange for imaginary Internet points (which are posted on a leaderboard so Cruz supporters can see who the most pious supporters are)? I know I have several friends who would gladly do that for Rand Paul’s campaign.

Every person or company that possesses personal information about you is a potential leak and often it is in their best interest to leak your information.

I Void Warranties Upon Request

No new content again? I’m afraid so. Why? Because I was voiding a warranty:


Somebody needed the power button in their iPhone 4S replaced and figured I was the man for the job. They were right. I replaced the button and the phone powered up again. Of course it doesn’t boot up, but that part wasn’t my fault as it wasn’t actually booting up beforehand (and since the power button stayed in the stuck down position the thinking was that it was just turning off, due to the power button being held in, immediately after boot).

I will say that working on the iPhone 4S is pretty easy.

“Revolution” Versus Revolution

At times when I have little else to do I enjoy skimming some of the seedier subreddits. One of my favorite subreddits is the home of some of the whackiest socialist in the world, /r/socialism. There you will find the dregs of collectivism, “revolutionary” socialists, discussing such important topics as why it was totally justified to murder the sons of Nicholas II even though he had abdicated power to his brother, and not any of his children.

You probably noticed I used quotes around revolutionary. This is because there isn’t anything revolutionary about “revolutionary” socialists. All they want to do is get rid of the current bourgeois so they themselves can become the bourgeois. From a statist perspective this would qualify as a revolution because the idea of real radical change is entirely foreign to them. The only options they see is their state or another state. But to radicals there is nothing revolutionary about toppling one set of masters only to replace them with another set.

Radicals, being anti-political in nature, tend to find the definition of revolution used by sociologists, “A radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence,” most apt. A true revolution is one where the very shape of society changes.

Let’s consider the socialist revolution in Russia. At the time imperial power in Russia was waning. When a power vacuum opened up the bolsheviks were the only group that was poised to fill it. Under the auspices of brining revolutionary change to Russia, where the workers would enjoy power instead of the imperialists and capitalists, the bolsheviks used a union with other socialist groups, including anarchists, to solidify their power base. Once the bolsheviks eliminated every person they could credibly label a counter revolutionary threat they turned on their fellow socialist allies (after all, what is a revolution without a good purge). In the end the bolsheviks were the last group standing and Russia returned to what it had been previously: a nation of serfs brutally ruled by a handful of masters. All the tropes once assigned to the bourgeois; gulags, secret police, wealth being held by the State instead of the people, etc.; were present. The only “revolution” was in the efficiency of the brutality. And history has shown Russia’s case to be the norm, not the exception. When “revolutionary” socialists throw off the yoke of the bourgeois they merely become bourgeois themselves.

What would a real revolution look like? Since hierarchy and coercion are the norm today a revolution would be the opposite: a non-hierarchical and voluntary society. The challenge in creating revolution is that it requires revolutionary tactics. Relying on the statist tactic of war will only server to perpetuate statism, as “revolutionary” socialists have demonstrated time and again. A non-hierarchical, voluntary society can only be achieve through non-hierarchical, voluntary means. Agorism, for example (it is not the only example, merely the example I am most familiar with and believe will be most likely to succeed), is a truly revolutionary strategy to bring about a truly revolutionary world.

Agorim is itself anti-statist. In fact the entire idea is to separate one’s self from the State as much as possible. That means avoiding taxes by participating in underground commerce, preferring market currencies over government currencies, creating alternative methods for educating children, forming mutual aid organizations, and utilizing secure means of communications to thwart government surveillance.

A major emphasis of agorism is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is an attempt to empower the individual and in so doing eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, hierarchies. One area where I believe the labor movement has failed is in its focus on empowering collectives instead of individuals. When a collective has power the individual is at its mercy. Whether we call the collective a government or council is irrelevant. Whether the collective arrives at its decisions dictatorially or democratically is also irrelevant. So long as the collective is in a position to dictate the lives of individuals a hierarchy exists. Entrepreneurs, being in control of their means of attaining the necessities of life, are far less beholden to others then employees.

Agorims also strongly emphasizes voluntary interaction. When the coercive guns of the State are replaced with voluntary market action the ability for any individual or group of individuals to establish a hierarchy is diminished. Coercive powers such as taxation and arbitrary issuance of laws allow the State to get away with any number of horrible actions. But when people are truly free to interact with you or not it becomes in your best interest to be polite and honorable. If the State murders somebody everybody in society is required to continue paying taxes but in a free society nobody is required to continue interacting with a murdered (in fact many prohibitions against self-defense that are created by the State wouldn’t be in the picture so the chances of being a successful murderer would likely diminish as well).

That is a true revolution where the State is replaced entirely by a society that represents everything statism isn’t.

When Tradition Watch Manufacturers Treat Smartwatches Like Traditional Watches

There has been some buzz (at least in horology circles) about Tag Heuer’s smartwatch. It is, after all, the first serious attempt by a traditional watch manufacturer to release a smartwatch. But things weren’t off to a good start when the initial price of $1,400 was announced and things only looked worse when Tag Heuer announced a price increase. While there are a few models of the Apple Watch that exceed that price range most smartwatches come in far under what Tag Heuer is asking.

Now the price is settled at $1,500. What does $1,500 get you? You’d think it would get you some of the most cutting edge technology a company could cram into a smartwatch. Instead if gets you the same internals you would get for $150:

There was always a question of how much technology you would get for this $1,500, and unfortunately, it seems that the device has mostly normal smartwatch guts. There’s a 1.5-inch, circular 360×360 (240 PPI) LCD, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi (802.11n) and a 410mAh battery. The one unique item is the processor: a 1.6Ghz dual-core Intel Atom Z34XX. It’s hard to not be disappointed by the LCD when the $350 Huawei Watch clocks in at a superior 286 PPI.

Here’s the problem I see with traditional watch manufacturers trying to enter the smartwatch market. Traditional watch manufacturers are used to selling a luxury product that can last a lifetime. $1,500 can get you a really nice mechanical watch that you will probably pass down to your children. Smartwatches aren’t mechanical watches. Whereas you still have a functional mechanical watch after five years a smartwatch after the same period of time is likely to be little more than a pile of outdated circuits connected to a dead battery. You may pass it down to your children but only because you don’t want to give them something valuable until they’re old enough not to break it by falling off of a jungle gym.

I think it’s going to be difficult for traditional watch manufacturers to enter the smartwatch market without changing up their business model a bit. Why would somebody want to fork out $1,500 to Tag Heuer instead of 1/10th of that to Motorola for basically the same thing? With the exception of people who have brand loyalty to Tag Heuer they’re not. That’s because they’re going to dump their smartwatch in a year or two for the newer model with more powerful and power efficient hardware.

There’s certainly room for a premium product but what qualifies something as a premium electronic device is different than a mechanical watch. When people pay a premium for an electronic device they tend to expect more power, features, and attention to details. Graphics cards are a great example of this. You can spend a lot of money on a graphics card but when you reach that premium top tier you’re getting some cutting edge hardware that you can reasonably expect to run the latest games at ridiculously high resolutions with all of the fancy features turned on. Apple products are an example where users will pay a premium for attention to detail. Making a laptop body out of a solid brick of aluminum, designing a professional workstation in the footprint of a cylinder, and releasing an all-in-one computer that’s almost thin enough to cut paper is appreciated by enough people to command a premium.

So what can a traditional watch manufacturer offer the smartwatch market? To start with their bread and butter: attention to detail. Let’s consider the watch face, which is arguably what most smartwatch users will be looking at throughout the day. Tag Heuer decided recreating watch faces from its mechanical lines was the way to go. But, in my opinion, it was done in a half-assed manner. The watch faces look like a Dashboard (because it’s all but forgotten, Dashboard is a layer in OS X where users can add small widgets) clock widget. For $1,500 Tag Heuer could have included motion sensors sensitive enough to know the wearer’s exact orientation. Combining that with location and time information obtained form the phone and you could add in realistic outdoor shadows under the watch hands and from the side of the case to create the illusion of depth. Assuming the user is inside the watch could use light sensors to detect where light is coming from and provide a similar illusion. Another idea would be to use a series of backlight LEDs instead of a single LED. Theoretically they could allow the watch to only turn on the LEDs behind the parts of the watch with lume to provide a similar night lighting to an actual watch. Of course all of this would look much better on a high resolution screen, which should be doable at that price point.

Traditional watch manufacturers can play in the smartwatch market but doing so seriously will require more than releasing the same product as everybody else with a different name attached to it.

Rightist Victim Culture

Rightists have been having a field day poking fun of the leftist victim culture. According to conservatives, neoconservatives, and a lot of libertarians the left has become a bunch of overly sensitive special snowflakes who are incapable of being anything but perpetually offended. What makes these accusations funny is that these rightists are some of the most sensitive, easily offended special snowflakes out there.

Many people on the left have a list of words they would rather you not say because they’re offensive. Rightists like to point at these lists and scream about the left’s attend to censor free speech. After they’re done with their censorship tirade they like to head over to the local Applebee’s and forcefully censor people who are speaking something other than English. I can already hear the rightists screaming out, “Not all rightists beat people up for not using English!” But it’s pretty hard to deny that a lot of rightists get really offended whenever somebody uses a language other than English. In fact a lot of them support passing a law to make English the official language of the United States and requires English proficiency to be a requirement before somebody can immigrate. If that’s not the very same censorship the right accuses the left of I don’t know what is.

Speaking of easily offended, we’re getting close to Christmas, which is the rightists’ time of year to be perpetually offended. How many rightists have you heard bitch about people saying “Happy holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas?” Failing to greet many rightists with their preferred religious blessing severely triggers them. And it’s not just blessings that trigger them. Failing to use the appropriate Christmas imagery on your merchandise will trigger them as well. Starbucks is the first major offender this year because it’s going with a minimalist theme on its coffee cups this year. The coffee chain’s decision to use red coffee cups instead of cups with snowflakes and other Christmas designs on them has greatly offended a lot of Christian rightists. Not only is this offensive to rightists but some go so far as to claim it’s oppressive. You see, this is just another chapter in the evil leftist atheist’s sinister war on Christmas that is oppressing good rightist Christians everywhere! It’s a war that’s trying to erase the reason for the season!

Evil leftist atheists aren’t the only group oppressing the majority Christian population. Muslims are waging a jihad against them! Immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, as with immigrants from Latin America, are offending a lot of rightists. Their solution has been to take a page from the leftist’s book and try to implement safe spaces. Rightists, however, are trying to crank the idea of safe spaces to eleven. Where the leftists generally want a room at a college that can serve as a safe space the rightists want to turn entire cities and even entire countries into fortified safe spaces capable of repelling all who would trigger them.

I find a great deal of amusement in hypocrisy. With the recent rise of what the rightists like to call social justice warriors I’ve been greatly amused. Everything rightists have been accusing social justice warriors of is something they themselves do. Rightists are in a perpetual state of outrage over people who speak different languages, are from different countries, and believe in a different religion (or fail to believe in Christianity the same way as they do). Triggering them is as simple as using the wrong greeting during December. And one of their biggest desires is to turn entire areas into fortified safe spaces for themselves. It’s goddamn (sorry I forgot to add a trigger warning for the rightists before dropping the g-bomb) hilarious.

Anyways I’m off to get ready to celebrate the reason for the season: Odin.

Paid Propaganda, Err, Patriotism

I don’t watch football but I know the National Football League (NFL) has a hard-on for the war effort. Football games are chock-full of American flags, soldiers in uniform, socialist pledges, and people covering their hearts to do a shitty job of singing a shitty anthem. This entire dog and pony show appears to be put on voluntarily by the NFL as an act of piety but it’s actually paid good money to propagandize:

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense doled out as much as $6.8 million in taxpayer money to professional sports teams to honor the military at games and events over the past four years, an amount it has “downplayed” amid scrutiny, a report unveiled by two Senate Republicans on Wednesday found.

Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake began looking into the Defense Department’s spending of taxpayer dollars on military tributes in June after they discovered the New Jersey Army National Guard paid the New York Jets $115,000 to recognize soldiers at home games.

The 145-page report released Wednesday dives deeper, revealing that 72 of the 122 professional sports contracts analyzed contained items deemed “paid patriotism” — the payment of taxpayer or Defense funds to teams in exchange for tributes like NFL’s “Salute to Service.” Honors paid for by the DOD were found not only in the NFL, but also the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS. They included on-field color guard ceremonies, performances of the national anthem, and ceremonial first pitches and puck drops.

The NFL has to be one of the largest welfare recipients in this country. Not only does it receive government funding to build stadiums and receive sweetheart tax breaks (it is, after all, a “nonprofit”) but it’s also getting money to promote the war effort.

In all fairness the NFL’s other sportsball siblings are on the dole as well, which is why it’s almost impossible to go to a sporting event without having to first sit through an hour of vomit inducing propaganda. And it makes sense when you think about it. How else could you get people to surrender their wealth so it can be used to bomb people all around the world? Unless you brainwash them into worshipping everything the military does few would be terribly happy about it.

Art So Bad Only Government Would Fund It

I’ve often wondered who funded modern abstract art. When I look at a bunch of random colors splashed on a canvas I ask myself, “Who the fuck would buy this? I could do this and I suck at art!” As it turns out modern abstract art, like so many other terrible ideas, was secretly funded by the United States government:

For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.


Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.

This is why the history of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was titled Legacy of Ashes. Only an agency as stupid at the CIA would promote something like modern abstract art and call it a viable strategy against the Soviet Union (which must have been laughing its ass off when we used modern abstract art as proof of American creativity).

Not only did this strategy accomplish nothing of value but it also inflicted us with, well, modern art. I feel as though we’ve all suffered greatly because of this CIA idiocy.