I’ve started reading Robert Anton Wilson’s Prometheus Rising. It’s a book about consciousness and while I’m only a couple of chapters in I’m already finding great material. One of the early things Wilson mentions is Orr’s Law. Orr’s Law states that what the thinker thinks, the prover will prove. It’s based on the premise that there are thinkers and provers. When a thinker comes up with an idea the prover will perform the most elaborate mental gymnastics to prove it:
As psychiatrists and psychologists have often observed (much to the chagrin of their medical colleagues), the Thinker can think itself sick, and can even think itself well again. The Prover is a much simpler mechanism. It operates on one law only: Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves. To cite a notorious example which unleashed incredible horrors earlier in this century, if the Thinker thinks that all Jews are rich, the Prover will prove it. It will find evidence that the poorest Jew in the most run-down ghetto has hidden money somewhere. Similarly, Feminists are able to believe that all men, including the starving wretches who live and sleep on the streets, are exploiting all women, including the Queen of England.
If the Thinker thinks that the sun moves around the earth, the Prover will obligingly organize all perceptions to fit that thought; if the Thinker changes its mind and decides the earth moves around the sun, the Prover will reorganize the evidence. If the Thinker thinks ‘holy water’ from Lourdes will cure its lumbago, the Prover will skillfully orchestrate all signals from the glands, muscles, organs etc. until they have organized themselves into good health again. Of course, it is fairly easy to see that other people’s minds operate this way; it is comparatively much harder to become aware that one’s own mind is working that way also.
It’s not hard to find examples of this. One example that I’ve been using as of late to illustrate this point (unknowingly, mind you) is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Has the legislation been successful?
It depends on what the thinkers think. Thinkers in support of the legislation will, of course, declare it a success. Their provers will then find criteria that can be used to prove their thinkers right. For example, they’ll point out that the number of people who now have health insurance coverage has increased and therefore the ACA is a rousing success. Why is the number of people who have coverage a good metric to decide whether the legislation was successful? Because it proves the thinkers right.
Thinkers who oppose the legislation will, of course, declare it a failure. Their provers will then find criteria that can be used to prove their thinkers right. For example, they’ll point out that the number of health insurance companies providing their services through ACA exchanges has decreased and therefore the ACA is an utter failure. Why is the number of insurance companies providing their service through ACA exchanges a good metric to decide whether the legislation was a failure? Because it proves the thinkers right.
I like to play with Orr’s Law (a concept for which I didn’t even realize had a name) by periodically arguing both sides of a debate. And I’m always successful.
This is one of the reasons I have no faith in politics. When somebody in power issues a decree they’re using the force of the State to inflict their personal bias on a population. They will argue that it’s for the greater good and a lot of provers will prove that it’s for the greater good. But their opponents will then argue that it’s not for the greater good and a lot of provers will prove that it’s not for the greater good. To throw in a bit of Ludwig von Mises, “If a man drinks wine and not water I cannot say he is acting irrationally. At most i can say that in his place I would not do so. But his pursuit of happiness is his own business, not mine.” In other words we each have the unique knowledge of our own life experiences and therefore are more qualified to know what is best for us than anybody else.
Through the performance of mental gymnastics we can prove anything. That being the case, I believe it makes more sense to localize potential damage by limiting the scope of any single individual’s power to themselves (with the understanding that somebody can prove the opposite as being true).
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL). Whenever somebody appears to be giving you something for free it likely means you’re the product, not the customer. Social media is a prime example of this. A lot of people claim that social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) products meant to surveil the populace. I personally don’t believe any government agency is clever enough to come up with a successful product like Facebook. But I also know they don’t care because they understand that Facebook exists to mine and sell information so they can forego the expenses of starting a service and just buy the data.
Geofeedia was recently caught selling social media data to law enforcement departments. The company managed to get its hands on this data by simply becoming a paying customer for sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Once the company was a paying customer it could grab user data, which is the real product, and package it up to sell to law enforcement departments.
But United States law enforcers aren’t the only buyers of social media data. Government agencies across the blog pay top dollar for surveillance data. The British Transport Police were also buying social media data:
The BTP, meanwhile, has purchased software called RepKnight. According to the company’s website, RepKnight can help identify, investigate or prevent political unrest, criminal activity, and activists. It can also be used to investigate DDoS attacks.
As well as searching Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and other social networks, RepKnight can be used for “sentiment analysis,” which presents users with “an instant summary of the mood across your search results, letting you quickly spot if something’s going wrong,” RepKnight’s site reads. Customers can use the service through a normal web browser, as well as on tablets and mobile phones.
In all, the BTP has spent £41,400 ($50,500) on purchasing the software and annual licenses for its use since July 2014, according to figures published by the Department for Transport.
A lot of people mistakenly believe their personal information isn’t worth anything. These are the people that usually say “Nobody cares what I do, I’m boring.” or “If they spy on me they’ll be bored.” or something else along those lines. But BTP forked out $50,000 just to surveil the seemingly mundane lives of everyday people. In other words, even the most boring person’s data is valuable.
What’s interesting is RepKnight seems to have some interesting capabilities. Geofeedia seems to be tailored towards surveillance but RepKnight seems to be tailored towards crushing political dissidence by allowing customers to go so far as launch a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
As more of our lives move online the public-private surveillance partnership will continue to grow. Don’t be surprised if you’re pulled over in the near future and the law enforcer drags you out of your vehicle and beats the shit out of you because the surveillance software on his car’s laptop pulled up a negative commend you made about the police (the software, of course, will be loaded to enhance officer safety).
Without divine intervention it’s obvious that Hillary Clinton will be the next president. Between Trump and Clinton I have no preference but there will be one annoyance with a Clinton presidency: a shortage of everything gun related. A gun store in Las Vegas has sent out an advertisement that has been getting a bit of attention:
The Las Vegas gun store Westside Armory is predicting a Hillary Clinton victory in November, and it has a message for customers: Buy now, because things are going to get expensive.
In an advertisement over the weekend in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Westside Armory said it was holding a “Pre-Hillary Sale” on tactical rifles, warning of a price surge if the Democratic nominee wins the election next month.
“Don’t wait!” the advertisement reads. “Prices will skyrocket after Crooked Hillary gets in.”
While the advertisement is playing off of fear it also isn’t wrong. Panic buying has already started. Most gun stores are sorely depleted of AR-15s, AK-47s, and most of modern rifles. When the election results are announced and Clinton is the new president the panic buying will likely kick into high gear.
And it’s fucking stupid. Clinton won’t even take office until January. She will literally have no presidential powers until then. So panic buying immediately after the election results are announced is stupid. Furthermore, once in office she won’t be able to wave a magic wand and make all of the guns go away. She’ll have to wait for Congress to pass her legislation that she can sign. As of now Congress is split between the two parties so the likelihood of her receiving such legislation is low. At most she can continue Obama’s tactic of demanding that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) tweak regulations to make them more annoying to gun owners and buyers.
What I’m trying to point out is that there’s no reason to start panic buying. But I also know any plea I make will be futile. Fear makes people do stupid things. Once somebody is afraid logic tends to go from moderately useful to mostly useless. And gun owners, by and large, are petrified of Clinton.
I’m sur there are a few gun control advocates laughing their asses off about this. To them I will point out that their cackling is also stupid because the panic buying will flood guns into circulation quickly, which means a lot more grandfathered modern rifles if a ban is ever signed by Clinton. It also means standard capacity magazines, ammunition, and modern rifle parts will flood into circulation. Basically, everything the gun control advocates are trying to prevent comes to fruition during a panic buy.
In the end nobody wins during a panic buy.
“News” today is already little more than propaganda for the State. But that isn’t enough for Obama. He wants wants a system in place to filter our information that isn’t propagandistic:
Pittsburgh (AFP) – President Barack Obama on Thursday decried America’s “wild, wild west” media environment for allowing conspiracy theorists a broad platform and destroying a common basis for debate.
Recalling past days when three television channels delivered fact-based news that most people trusted, Obama said democracy require citizens to be able to sift through lies and distortions.
“We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to,” Obama said at an innovation conference in Pittsburgh.
“There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world,” Obama added.
What is true? If we’re talking about mathematical formulas or physics we can establish truth through logical deduction and the scientific method. But judging complex human interactions and philosophies as either true or false is a different beast.
Let’s take the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an example. If I say the ACA has been a success would you believe my statement is true or false? It really depends on what you define as success. Supporters of the ACA will often look at the total number of people insured declare the ACA a success because the number is higher now than before the law was passed. Others will look at the rate health insurance premiums have increased and declare the ACA a failure because premiums today are higher than they were before the ACA was passed.
How do we determine “truthiness” (what a stupid word) when discussing things like whether or not a government program has succeeded? According to the government its programs are almost always successful. It will demonstrate success by pointing at various statistics it has chosen as being important. But other people will question the importance of those statistics. Going back to our example, is the total number of people who are covered by health insurance really an important number? There are arguments both for and against relying on that number to determine success. But which arguments are true and which are false?
Like so much in life, truth often boils down to personal philosophy. As a libertarian I believe the initiation of force is always wrong. Since the State’s existence is entirely reliant on initiating force I believe the State to be immoral. A utilitarian will likely disagree with me. They will likely find the State moral because it is the most utilitarian way to accomplish certain tasks. I will disagree with that and we’ll go back and forth because our ideas of morality are different.
The idea that we can create a system that can determine whether questions like our example are true is laughable because such a system will inevitably be colored by the personal beliefs of the designer.
Many (probably most) people don’t think twice when they see an armed police officer patrolling their neighborhood. But if private individuals do the same thing many people will flip out. Words such as vigilante are tossed around and people such as George Zimmerman are brought up. Which is really worse though? Let’s consider the following story about armed individuals patrolling their neighborhood:
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Armed with high-powered rifles, men dressed in fatigues and black T-shirts emblazoned with the word, “Security,” trekked through the streets of a Northwest Bexar County community in the wee hours of one recent morning. Many of their neighbors, meanwhile, slept soundly in their homes.
Members of the group, called the “Armed Volunteer Security Detail,” asked us not to reveal the exact location in which they patrol. However, the neighborhood is located in the area of Loop 1604 and Culebra Road.
The self-appointed keepers of the gated subdivision also were careful to hide their identities, shielding their faces from our camera. What they were not shy about, though, was their purpose—to make their community safer.
“We’re not out here enforcing law. I want to make that real clear,” said one member, who identified himself as Mr. Black. “We’re out here protecting people’s property rights.”
Black and the others formed the group, which is not sanctioned by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, in response to what they believe is an increase in crime.
Two guys decided to grabs their rifles and patrol their neighborhood after a perceived increase in crime. They’re basically doing the job we’re told law enforcers are supposed to do. Why do people think of them differently?
Common arguments brought up against private individuals patrolling neighborhoods are that law enforcers are accountable and receive specialized training. I think the recent string of killings by law enforcers that have lead to nothing more than the officers involved receiving paid vacations invalidates the claim that they’re more accountable. At least when a private individual shoots somebody there’s a thorough investigation and in a vast majority of cases if the shooting appears questionable the shooter will stand trail.
The second argument is also wrong in my opinion. The specialized training that law enforcers receive tends to be unrelated to security. They’re often taught how to identify somebody who is on drugs, kidnap people, confiscate property under civil forfeiture, and enforce traffic citations. Their training also tends to include nonsense such as their job being extremely dangerous and that they can’t trust anybody, which breeds paranoid and discourages rational responses to situations.
The two individuals in the linked story very clearly state that they’re not law enforcement. This is important because security and law enforcement are vastly different things. Security is the act of protecting life and property. Law enforcement is the act of enforcing the law no matter how ridiculous it is. Somebody who is providing security won’t give two shits about the cannabis plants you’re growing. They just want to make sure nobody steals your plants. Somebody who is providing law enforcement will toss a flash bang grenade into your toddler’s bedroom, kick in your door, and shoot your family pet (and maybe even you) because they received a tip that you are in possession of a prohibited plant.
I have no problem with security. I do have a problem with law enforcement. The two individuals in the story are doing nothing wrong in my opinion and I’d much rather have them patrolling my neighborhood than police officers. At least I know that they will be held to some level of accountability if they do something wrong and won’t gun down my dog because they heard I was in possession of a cannabis plant.
I’m starting to think that God approached me one night when I was blackout drunk and asked me if I wanted one wish what would be it and I told him that I wanted the 2016 election to be the biggest shitshow in the history of shitshows and he granted it.
Between Hillary and Trump’s behavior, the willingness of the media to act as a propaganda arm for Hillary, and the collapse of the Republican Party this election has already been a tremendous shitshow. But now I’m kind of wishing that God would slow his roll because so much comedy is happening so quickly. The mess that is the presidential election is starting to spill over into other governmental bodies. A criminal summons has just been issued for Chris Christie:
A judge has signed a criminal summons accusing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of misconduct for his alleged role in the 2013 closure of a bridge.
The case will move to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether an indictment will follow.
The news comes as two former Christie aides are on trial for allegedly closing part of the bridge after a mayor refused to endorse the governor.
Being a member of the elite will ensure that even if Christie is found guilty he won’t suffer a severe punishment. But it’s still amusing to see his sorry ass being hit with a criminal summons. Being a man who has made a career out of thievery he is certainly deserving of such a summons but so is every other politician.
With how crazy this election season is going I can’t wait to see what happens next. Although at this rate I may just die of laughter.
Law enforcers are heroes! They protect us against the scourges plaguing society! Murders, muggers, and rapists will be offered no quarter… because they probably won’t encounter a law enforcers. As it turns out, our supposed heroes in blue have different priorities than we’re often told. They’re not spending a majority of their time dealing with crimes involving victims. They’re spending a majority of their time enforcing profitable laws:
Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tell the story. Drug possession arrests skyrocketed, from fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979 to more than 500 in the mid-2000s. The drug possession rate has since fallen slightly, according to the FBI, hovering now around 400 arrests per 100,000 people.
“Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” the report finds, citing FBI data. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”
In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. Law enforcers are humans and humans are self-interested. In fact everybody in the chain is a human (or a reasonable facsimile for a human).
The laws are written and passed by politicians. Politicians are self-intersted individuals who use their position within the State for personal profit. That profit doesn’t come from providing goods or services that people want but through expropriation. When they pass a law it gives law enforcers permission to start enforcing that law.
Law enforcers are self-intersted individuals who use their position within the State for personal profit (are you noticing a trend). That profit also doesn’t come from providing goods or services that people want. A law enforcer’s profit comes from a paycheck, which is issued by the State. The State issues paychecks to law enforcers so long as they do a good job. A good job in this case involves raking in cash for the politicians. And like a salesman, law enforcers are often paid commission. Their department will often receive a cut of the wealth expropriated from drug manufacturers, sellers, and users. If the department is flush with cash it can afford to issue raises.
What does enforcing laws against murder, theft, and rape net the State? Not much. Sure, they get additional laborers for their
slave labor camps prisons but it doesn’t get a nice chunk of cash, which is far more liquid than slaves. That being the case, priority is given to enforcing drug laws instead of laws against actions that create victims.
There is no reform that can fix this other than abolishing the State. So long as it exists it will attract self-interested people who lack any meaningful morals and they will use the State for personal profit.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been wrecking havoc on the health insurance market. This is quite a feat considering how chaotic the health insurance market already was before the ACA was passed. But now things have gotten so bad that even the true believers’ faith is coming into question:
Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to many Americans — and that fixing it must be a priority for both state and federal lawmakers next year.
Dayton, who has been among the strongest advocates for the package of health care reforms, said that while the Affordable Care Act has been a success in insuring more people and providing access to insurance for people with preexisting medical conditions, it also has “some serious blemishes and serious deficiencies.”
Speaking to reporters, Dayton said insurance companies have driven up costs in order to participate in the state’s MNsure program — and gridlock in Washington, D.C., has made it difficult to pass reforms that could bring those costs back in line.
What reforms could possible bring the costs down? If you’re an intelligent person you know that the only reform that would accomplish that would be the abolition of government interference in the health insurance market. But that’s not going to happen. Instead I predict that the “reform” that will ultimately end up being passed is single payer health insurance.
Advocates of the ACA are already saying the United States should transition to a single payer model because they foolishly believe that such a model is good. On the surface it looks good because the costs involved in healthcare are hidden from tax payers. They only see it as another tax, which they usually don’t notice because it’s pulled out of their paycheck before they even get it. When costs are hidden from the consumer the product begins to be viewed as free.
Once the United States is on the single payer model healthcare will truly begin to diminish because it will be controlled by a body of people who don’t give a fuck about you. What politicians care about is themselves. And unlike us working stiffs whose personal gain comes from providing goods and services our fellow working stiffs want, politicians derive their profits from stealing your money. When you pay the State for health insurance it’s interested in maximizing its profits. However, unlike a private health insurance provider, the State receives no punishment for doing a bad job. You can’t stop paying your taxes if you’re unhappy with the service you’re receiving. So the State, unlike its private alternatives, has no incentive to do anything other than provide you with a cheap and shitty service. A good example of this is Department of Veteran Affairs, which has been providing lackluster healthcare to veterans for decades.
The only thing you can guarantee when the State admits that a problem exists is that you’re going to get screwed by the solution.
In his novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein coined the phrase there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (usually abbreviated as TANSTAAFL). The phrase is used by the main characters of the book to remind themselves and others that there’s no such thing as free. This is a lesson too many people fail to learn in real life. People are obsessed with the fantasy of free. They want free food, free money, free healthcare, and free online services.
People commonly make the mistake that online services such as Facebook and Twitter are free. On the surface they appear to be free since you don’t pay to use them. But TANSTAAFL. When you’re using a service for free you’re not the customer, you’re the product:
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday outed Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for feeding a Chicago-based company their user streams—a feed that was then sold to police agencies for surveillance purposes.
Geofeedia, which did not respond for comment, says it has more than 500 customers, including the Denver Police Department. That agency recently signed a $30,000 annual deal with the company. The money came from the agency’s “confiscation” fund. The department’s intelligence agency’s top brass wrote that it would allow cops to analyze and respond in real time to “social media content from anywhere in the world.”
Geofeedia, the actual customer, has been paying for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram’s product, your personal information. It has then been turning around and selling it to various police departments, which use the information to more effectively expropriate wealth from the people they victimize. The only person not making any money on this deal is you. In fact, you’re losing money if any of the sold information about you is used by the police to take some of your wealth.
Because this revelation could turn into a loss of product for these sites they have apparently announced that they’ve cut off Geofeedia’s access. That shouldn’t make you feel better though. That access can be regranted at any time and there are likely many other companies doing the same thing as Geofeedia who just haven’t been caught yet. So long as you continue to be the product you shouldn’t believe any of your information is safe.