"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."

Arthur C. Clarke's First Law - "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination"  in "Profiles of the Future"  (source)

I tend to think there are sort of four types of people and people can move from one category to another throughout a lifetime. But the categories are ordered, so it’s easy to move to an adjacent category but difficult to move to a category two or three away and impossible to move to a category more than one away without passing through the middle ones.

The categories I think are these:

A. Conscientious Actives

B. Conscientious Neutrals

C. Conscience Losts

D. Ass holes

I’m not the best with naming things.  But let me explain.

The largest group by far is those of us in Group B. This is the group of people who largely believe they are good people and are probably more or less correct about that. But their principle motivations are to keep themselves safe and the ones they love safe and seeking stability and happiness in their own lives. 

Group C is the next largest group. These are largely people who have to some degree or another given up on following the rules of basic Justice and morality. They aren’t particularly evil people but they see for whatever reason a need to give up on ideals sometimes because they think that that is the only way to survive and find happiness. Other times they’ve become cynical and come to believe that everyone is a Category C or worse so they think they might as well be.  

Group A’s are those who are trying to fix things that they perceive as moral wrongs. They are trying to solve the problems of the world. They are trying to help people. They haven’t given up on their ideals. Or they developed a degree of rage and anger at injustice to the extent that they feel they can’t help but do something. But Group A’s still have rules. They still have consciences and there are some things that they will not do even in the pursuit of their ideals.

Group D’s are well ass holes. They have no boundaries. Sometimes it’s because they think like life is a game where nothing else is real and they are just trying to win. Sometimes they are people that perhaps simply don’t have a sense of right and wrong or empathy that most other people have. And other times they are people who believe in something so strongly that they feel that there is nothing more important than that thing.

Actually come to think about it, this isn’t a linear list, it’s a circle like this: 

A < —— > B 

^             ^

|             |

v            v

D < —— >  C

Moving from Group A to Group B usually involves being tired and deciding that you just want your life, often finding out that you have too much to lose by fighting the good fight or finding out that the good fight is just too damn hard. Sometimes it’s because you just become disappointed in other people or despairing of ever seeing any real change. Sometimes it’s because you’re having a hard time supporting yourself and you just feel you need to focus on yourself for a while get your own house in order before you try to save the world.

Moving from Group B to Group C is usually something having to do with a hardship so great it penetrates one’s personal moral code. 

Moving from Group C to Group D is usually a more gradual process. The more you try do things beyond the scope of your moral code the easier it gets. 

Moving from Group D to Group C is usually a matter of expedience. One sometimes realizes that there is actual advantage in not being a total asshole all the time or one starts to develop some degree of consciousness of the experiencies of others. Sometimes people have no empathy because they haven’t really come to understand who other people are and once they do they can’t stay as douchey as they were before.

Moving from Group C to Group B is usually when you find a sense of shame in the moral code breaking things you’ve done and want to return to normalcy. Often you won’t move all the way to Group A because you feel you don’t deserve and are unqualified to fight for good things but you think you can maybe hang low and have a normal life.  

Moving from Group B to Group A usually entails getting just so very angry about some injustice that you can’t take it anymore without acting. Or it could come just from feeling restless and wanting to do something. Sometimes it happens when you’ve just got nothing better to do and you care about things. 

And lastly,

Moving from Group A to Group D is perhaps the easiest transition of all. Once something matters so much to you that you need to do something about it, it’s not hard to start to believe that it’s so important that you need to do more to fix it and pretty soon you think that anything is justifiable to get the thign done.

Moving from Group D to Group A I think is the hardest least likely transition. You’d need to build boundaries four yourself even when you’ve been acting without them for, possibly a long time. That just doesn’t happen that often and when it does it’s almost indistinguishable from a self serving pretense of morality. Usually a Group D has burned all bridges and will not be welcomed happily into Group A whereas the reverse is easy. Group D’s having in boundaries will take all the help that they can get.

I’m pretty sure younger people are the most likely to be an A or a D, older people most likely to be a B or a C.  B’s and C’s are more risk averse. A’s and D’s are more risk taking.  I believe that most people are naturally B’s and it takes shocks to move them out of the B equilibrium.

Societal oppression and propaganda are techniques to preserve the equilibrium so it’s trying to keep people in B’s. The more oppressive the society the fewer A’s there are likely to be, the more B’s. Corruption is when a society provides benefits for breaking one’s moral code. The more corrupt the society the more C’s and D’s there are likely to be.  I think our current society in the United States is somewhat oppressive and VERY corrupt so we have way more C’s and D’s then we ought to have and most other people are B’s with not nearly so many A’s as we might normally have. A well functioning democracy depends on having a largely than average number of A’s in the population and that’s why it is so difficult to have and maintain.

Anyway that’s some random musings. Not very eloquently described I know, but I’m pretty sure that this is a large part of how the world really works. There’s probably a better way to express this though.

allisonkilkenny:

Bust out this chart the next time some dummy accuses poor people of wasting money on “toys” (x)

allisonkilkenny:

Bust out this chart the next time some dummy accuses poor people of wasting money on “toys” (x)

I think we can make it

lessig:

For the last week, I have been fighting furiously something I was 100% confident about: that we would not make it. That $5M was too big. That I was mistaken in setting the goal to high. And that this incredible movement of now close to 25k contributors would stop. 

This morning, at 4am, I was doing everything I could to find a way to make it. White knights, etc., anything to get us to the $5M. But again, I was 100% certain we couldn’t get there. 

But then, obligation intervened. My family and I had to race to Amherst, NH to walk in a parade with the #NHRebellion. Then the same in Merrimack. And again, for the whole parade, I was thinking about what I could possibly do to make it so we could make it. 

The parade is over. I’m sitting in a Dunkin Donuts (“what’s the healthiest thing you have?,” I asked. “I take the 5th,” said the guy behind the counter), with a coffee, and an internet connection. And after conferring with the data mavens, here’s what I believe. 

BELIEVE. Not “believe,” in that bullshit sense that anyone in a campaign says, but BELIEVE in the sense of this is what I think is true: 

That we can make this. We have raised $1M in 1 day. We have 14 hours of Independence Day in America left (THANK YOU, Hawaii!). We are collecting donations faster than at any time so far. And we have less than $800k to go. 

WE CAN MAKE THIS. It will take an INCREDIBLE effort by everyone, but if everyone presses, we can do this. Only with extraordinary effort, but with extraordinary effort, we will. 

I can’t quite believe it. But it is true. It is the truth. We can make this. 

Now please help us make it happen. 

Share this: http://Mayday.US/Pledge

And thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

My Year of Comic Books

I’m about half way through what I am deeming my year of comic books, mostly DC, mostly Batman.  Why am I doing this? Well why not? I’ve got time and the library has a truly awesome collection. Why DC and Batman? Well because I, like 99.9% of the planet,  love Batman and want to be a greater expert in Batman lore. And to do that I feel I need a better understanding of the DC universe and comics in general.  In future years maybe I’ll read a bunch of comics from another part of the Comic Book universe and label it a different year of Comics but for now it’s Mostly DC, Mostly Batman.

So far I’ve read a ton, inflating my good reads count of books a lot. I’m mostly planning on trying to get through all of the comic books in several online lists of the top 25 Batman comic of all time and also some of the related Batman comics and other comics that I stumble across that look interesting. I also wanted to read ones that were particularly connected in theme to the movies and video games so I could understand them better and I wanted to read a lot of modern current (or as close as our library gets to current) New 52 Batman so I know what’s happening with the character now.

I’m also reading some of the major DC arcs like Blackest Night and the original 52, plus as much of the recent New 52 stuff the library has so I can feel up to date on the modern incarnation of their universe.

Everything else I read is basically whatever I stumble upon. I’ve read some Ultimate Spiderman, both Miles Morales and Peter Parker, got some Constantine in, gonna read some X-Men.  I’m starting buying some comics from the local comic book shop too and those will come in next month, in particular the new Teen Titans and the New Suicide Squad and Grayson and something else I can’t remember.

I’ve been to two comic book related cons this year for the first time too. One was a disaster and the other was great.

So far my main take away from reading comics is that one has to learn to be ok with not knowing everything that is going on. These Universes are so large and interconnected and so based on so much history that only comic book afficionados will understand that if not fully knowing what’s happening really bothers you, you won’t be able to read much without going crazy.

Anyway, perhaps I will continue to provide updates as my year of comic books mostly DC, mostly Batman continues.

Tags: comic books

Capitol Hill Babysitting Co-op

This actually happened. It aint a hypothetical. It’s a story of why printing money can solve real world problems. Basically it’s a situation where you had a bunch of babysitters where everyone wanted to save babysitting time and nobody wanted to spend. As a result nobody was getting any babysitting done and the system almost collapsed.  Later they had the opposite problem too. The point is that sometimes it makes sense to print money and sometimes it doesn’t.  What if we’re in a situation now where it does make sense and nobody acknowledges it?

Think of it this way. We’re all playing Monopoly and the Government is the Bank. The Bank CAN’T run out of money. It’s in the rules. If the Bank appears to run out of money you just start representing the money a different way. If the Bank COULD run out of money you’d be playing a very different and very much less fun and interesting game.  One in which eventually it is guaranteed that the game grinds to a halt. 

But we talk as if the Government were just another player and that’s wrong. The Government defines the money. The only real question is what amount of money should the Government give out for passing Go and collect on tax cards. If it gives out too much you get inflation if it gives out too little you get deflation but it can NEVER not AFFORD to give out money. And if everyone is hording and there’s not enough money to go around and the consequences of that are a game where everyone is miserable and potentially starving then of course it makes sense for the Government to inject more money into the system especially when any potential harm of doing so is far dwarfed by the real harm that would be alleviated by doing so. That is the case right now and has been since the recession hit.

Tags: money

Dave Winer defines a blog as "the unedited voice of a person". I suspect that’s the truest definition out there and it is broad enough to cover all kinds of blogging subcategories like tumblr blogging and tweeting.  I might change the wording a little to say something like a collection of digital transmissions for public or semi-public consumption that consist of the voice of one or more persons each of whom have subjected their content before release to at most their own voluntary editing and no other.

Or something like that. Dave Winer’s definition is certainly more succinct but I wanted to get a few distinctions in there. I don’t think a personal diary written in a journal is a blog both because it is not digital and it is not public. A blog can be meant to be seen only by a small group of people but it needs to be meant for or viewable by someone I think. 

A blog can of course be co-written, many people can contribute just so long as they are not directly interfering in one another’s works. Then it becomes something else. Dave Winer acknowledges the existence of multiple persons writing a blog together in the same piece where he invented this definition.

Of course I wanted to also assert that you CAN of course self edit your posts and that doesn’t make it any less of a blog. That’s probably obvious to most but I wanted to be absolutely precise.  But I think an interesting question comes in when you are self editing in a way that you are compelled to do. Say for example you are working for a video game company that wants you to write video game reviews in your own personal blog and they promise you they won’t edit anything you sa  y and you can say whatever you want. And that’s fine and it remains a blog up until you make a personal decision to restrict what you say because you know you might get fired if you criticize the games your company makes too harshly. 

I think when we think about this we can kinda see why blogging is dying a little. There’s new editing forces tat work making blogging fundamentally less rewarding and enjoyable for people. People feel more of a need to self edit and feel involuntarily compelled to do so by the existing of spying, the risk to your future employment, and the likelihood of nasty reprisal by the internet community as a whole. In a sense the rabid mobs of blogging attackers out there represent a sort of community editing demanding that writers tow the line and not say things that offend and force people to write kind of insipid apologies for their transgressions often prostating themselves before the masses begging their forgiveness.

No wonder so many people don’t want to blog any more. They almost feel like they can’t so why bother?

(Source: youtube.com)

thebentobuff:

couldvebeenaprincess:

look it’s fine if ur not religious omg it’s 100% ok but once u start telling people that their prayers are worthless, that God isn’t listening, that He is imaginary, that Jesus didn’t exist, that their religious texts are garbage, etc. then you’re a piece of shit shut up

Same goes for telling people(if you’re religious and especially if they’re a different religion or atheist) that god loves you, homosexuality is wrong/evil/a sin, you need to believe in the bible or you’re going to hell, etc.
Leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone :)

They should both shut up yes, but in neither case does being rude and obnoxious by itself make someone a “piece of shit”. Maybe we should reserve that terminology for those who are actually dangerous.

(Source: bunnyhug)

We are of course living in a global depression. It’s not as bad as the great depression but that’s little consolation and it may last longer. Nothing seems to be changing even though it’s very easy to fix. All we really have to do is print money and spend it.  But everyone seems to think that is a terrible idea. They’re all wrong.