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Icke confirmed to Andrew Neil in May 2016 that he believes the British Royal Family are shapeshifting lizards.[12] He identified the Queen Mother in 2001 as “seriously reptilian”,[85] and said he had seen Ted Heath’s eyes turn black while the two waited for a Sky News interview in 1989.[141][107] Lewis and Kahn argue that Icke is using allegory to depict the alien, and alienating, nature of global capitalism.[142] Icke has said he is not using allegory.[143]

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link roundup 18

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I think that, if you keep the history of Mao’s Cultural Revolution in mind, it ought to be obvious that the hanging of Sayyid Qutb in Egypt (under Nasser’s orders) in 1966, three months after Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, set off a parallel epidemic. The hanging inspired a cult of Qutb, the martyr, which spread at first within his organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. And the cult drew on Qutb’s own little book, which was Milestones, a pamphlet on Islamist themes. Milestones cannot be said to be a masterpiece. Qutb’s masterpiece, and that of the Muslim Brotherhood, is the gigantic In the Shade of the Qur’an, from which Milestones is drawn—just as Mao’s greatest literary work is, I suppose, his several military essays. Milestones nonetheless played for many years the same role within the radical wing of the Islamist movement that Mao’s Little Red Book played within the worldwide Maoist movement.

Milestones proposed and still proposes an alternative reality, in a pocketbook version. This is seventh-century Medina, which Qutb wished to reestablish in some corner of the world, yet to be determined, in order to launch the struggle for world conquest against the rival empires of Communism and the Western powers. And Qutb’s book proposed that, in the degree possible, you should begin to inhabit the alternative reality right now, even if the Quranic society has not yet been able to establish itself somewhere. Like Maoism, then, Qutb’s idea offers an alternative life, as well as a program for action. It lends itself to a utopian counterculture, which can be established anywhere, not just in regions where the jihadis have succeeded in taking power, as in the emirate of Afghanistan in Taliban times, when al-Qaida acted on Qutbite principles, or in the post-Qutbite Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in our own moment.

Guo Yingjie has written that the new social strata “are not really classes in the eyes of Marxists,” underlining the deep chasm between China’s official ideology and practice. This presents a fundamental dilemma for the Communist party, which struggles to reconcile inconsistencies between its various ideologies, which include Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, Deng Xiaoping theory, and Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents, introduced in 2001, which allows capitalists to join the Communist party.

For the party, the scale and depth of those inconsistencies is a serious issue, according to Guo: “On the one hand, the party continues to talk about Marxism. In practice, it doesn’t practice everything that Marx used to talk about. One example is class struggle. Class struggle is central to Marxism, and certainly central to Marxist’s social plank of his theory, that is historical materialism. If you take away class struggle, that whole plank of Marxism collapses or disappears. What does it mean to say we believe in Marxism, but we don’t talk about class struggle? It’s a joke.”

Can we expect more NSA employees to blow the whistle? Perhaps, but the people in power there are “corrupt,” Binney said. During the portion of the talk when attendees could ask questions, he talked about how the NSA has employed a lot of introverts, people with ISTJ personalities, making them easy to threaten. Binney added that the See Something, Say Something (about your fellow workers) program inside the NSA is “what the Stasi did. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS; they just aren’t getting violent yet — that we know of — internally in the U.S.; outside is another story.”

apparently binney did internal polling in the early 90s and found that 80 percent of nsa staff had istj personalities – these traits had to have been actively selected for, and i wonder if MB itself was used as the screening mechanism. the full presentation is available on youtube. also regarding binney and associates…

Qualified experts working independently of one another began to examine the DNC case immediately after the July 2016 events. Prominent among these is a group comprising former intelligence officers, almost all of whom previously occupied senior positions. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), founded in 2003, now has 30 members, including a few associates with backgrounds in national-security fields other than intelligence. The chief researchers active on the DNC case are four: William Binney, formerly the NSA’s technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis and designer of many agency programs now in use; Kirk Wiebe, formerly a senior analyst at the NSA’s SIGINT Automation Research Center; Edward Loomis, formerly technical director in the NSA’s Office of Signal Processing; and Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for nearly three decades and formerly chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. Most of these men have decades of experience in matters concerning Russian intelligence and the related technologies. This article reflects numerous interviews with all of them conducted in person, via Skype, or by telephone.

The customary VIPS format is an open letter, typically addressed to the president. The group has written three such letters on the DNC incident, all of which were first published by Robert Parry at www.consortiumnews.com. Here is the latest, dated July 24; it blueprints the forensic work this article explores in detail. They have all argued that the hack theory is wrong and that a locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation. In a letter to Barack Obama dated January 17, three days before he left office, the group explained that the NSA’s known programs are fully capable of capturing all electronic transfers of data. “We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks,” the letter said. “If NSA cannot produce such evidence—and quickly—this would probably mean it does not have any.”

Genomic surveys in humans identify a large amount of recent positive selection. Using the 3.9-million HapMap SNP dataset, we found that selection has accelerated greatly during the last 40,000 years. We tested the null hypothesis that the observed age distribution of recent positively selected linkage blocks is consistent with a constant rate of adaptive substitution during human evolution. We show that a constant rate high enough to explain the number of recently selected variants would predict (i) site heterozygosity at least 10-fold lower than is observed in humans, (ii)a strong relationship of heterozygosity and local recombination rate, which is not observed in humans, (iii) an implausibly high number of adaptive substitutions between humans and chimpanzees, and (iv) nearly 100 times the observed number of high-frequency linkage disequilibrium blocks. Larger populations generate more new selected mutations, and we show the consistency of the observed data with the historical pattern of human population growth. We consider human demographic growth to be linked with past changes in human cultures and ecologies. Both processes have contributed to the extraordinarily rapid recent genetic evolution of our species.

This probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: the issue with narcissism is that it’s a lack of standards, an inability to know where you stand with the real world, which is why Lasch focuss so intensely on consumerism. He comes off like a moralist, but I really don’t think he’s trying to say “buying is bad, be an ascetic.” The point is that modern capitalism allows one to entirely disassociate, to create the world in their image, i.e. never have to leave their identity. That this infects the sciences is genuinely terrifying. The closest thing we have to “objectivity” is the natural sciences (and philosophy, but on that another time), so when those get mutilated we have no way to stop this. Nothing can be held up to measure yourself against.

Yeah, yeah. Other beliefs have messed with science, “catholicism and heliocentrisim”, etc. Whatever. Science isn’t the point, there was still an outside measure for the Catholic Church, and it was the Catholic Church. What makes narcissism a problem now is that it’s the first time that all objective knowledge has been tainted by our own whims, all standards are as arbitary as our egos want them to be. All you need to find is an expert, and there are a billion of those excitedly telling you exactly what you want to hear.

In other words: nihilism.

i (and others) were disappointed by the essay preceding this one in the series he’s been posting, but lou is back on his game with this piece.

Kolmogorov was private in his personal and political life, which might have had something to do with being gay, at a time and place when that was in no way widely accepted. From what I’ve read—for example, in Gessen’s biography of Perelman—Kolmogorov seems to have been generally a model of integrity and decency. He established schools for mathematically gifted children, which became jewels of the Soviet Union; one still reads about them with awe. And at a time when Soviet mathematics was convulsed by antisemitism—with students of Jewish descent excluded from the top math programs for made-up reasons, sent instead to remote trade schools—Kolmogorov quietly protected Jewish researchers.

OK, but all this leaves a question. Kolmogorov was a leading and admired Soviet scientist all through the era of Stalin’s purges, the Gulag, the KGB, the murders and disappearances and forced confessions, the show trials, the rewritings of history, the allies suddenly denounced as traitors, the tragicomedy of Lysenkoism. Anyone as intelligent, individualistic, and morally sensitive as Kolmogorov would obviously have seen through the lies of his government, and been horrified by its brutality. So then why did he utter nary a word in public against what was happening?

on keeping your head down.

What would happen to the states system if sovereignty were removed as an organizing principle? To answer that question, scholars turn to the perceived origins of sovereignty, asking how the political system was arranged before the existence of sovereign states, and how and why it changed to include them. The search usually leads to the peace of Westphalia, the name commonly used for the treaties of Minister and Osnabriick signed in 1648 to end the Thirty Years War after five years of negotiation. Yet anyone who studies the treaties in detail comes away disappointed, without finding a clear statement of the principle of sovereignty. This article addresses the question of whether sovereignty, implicit or explicit, was a principle of the peace of Westphalia.

Another reason why the constraining of moderate masculine toxicity may increase the power of supertoxic masculinity is that males may become more pathologically power hungry from lacking opportunities for healthy satiation. Once upon a time (for better or worse), masculine prowess promised a fair number of immediate satisfactions. The best football players received the genuine interest of the most desired girls in high school, say. But even from my own observations growing up, it was easy to see that as my cohort aged from about 10 years old up toward about 17 years old, conventionally masculine prowess became less and less effective at winning immediate social rewards. By the end of high school, the most desired girls were more interested in—I kid you not—a nationally competitive business role-playing team. What this suggests to me is that, aside from perhaps an early bump at the very beginning of adolescence, dominance hierarchies rapidly stop rewarding conventional masculine expressions of dominance behavior in favor of the capacity to elegantly dissimulate dominance behavior. Today all of the basic evolutionary machinery of mating and dominance competition remains in full operation, but it’s mind-bogglingly confusing because increasingly females select for males who can most creatively and effectively hide their power. What this means is that precisely the most over-flowingly aggressive males may be less and less likely to receive the basic, small doses of love and esteem that every human being requires, in their early socialization experiences. Combined with the previous point about the ultimate power of money, it’s easy to see how and why the feminist inversion of which males get selected by females (defining dominance as the dissimulation of dominance), has the direct consequence of leaving the most irrepressibly narcissistic and power-hungry males to seek unbridled social domination via capital, as a basic requirement for psychological self-maintenance.

The obsession with Milo and Richard Spencer makes this conversation impossible in left circles. Those people are discussed endlessly because leftists believe that doing so makes it easy to argue – “what, you want Milo to be free to harass POC on campus?!?” But in fact because most conservatives on campus will simply be mainstream Republicans, this side conversation will be almost entirely pointless. What really matters is the way that perfectly mainstream positions are being run out of campus on a regular basis. And of course with a list like this we can be sure that there are many, many more cases that went unnoticed and unreported in the wider world.

You would think it would be easy for progressives and leftists simply to say “I support many actions that campus protesters take, but these censorship efforts are counterproductive and wrong.” But that almost never happens. That’s because in contemporary life, politics has almost nothing to do with principle, or even with political tactics. Instead it has to do with aligning yourself with the right broad social circles. To criticize specific actions of campus activists sounds to too many leftists like being “the wrong kind of person,” so they refuse to criticize students even when their actions are minimally helpful and maximally counterproductive. That in turn ensures that there’s no opportunity for the students to reflect, learn, and evolve.

freddie’s been knocking it out of the park lately. i can’t remember if i linked it in a previous post, but planet of cops is a must-read.

Urbit is a clean-slate operating system that is natively networked and runs without system calls, making it easily installable on any Unix-y platform. Perhaps most compelling is the ability for an instance of Urbit to spawn child Urbits which are automatically networked to the parent and which are functionally the same. An analogy might be if, every time you got a new phone, you could just clone your computer’s OS and run it on the phone; each able to network with the other.

In a precision agriculture application, this means that a farmer could have one Urbit instance running in his workshop. When he wants to add a new water sensor, he spawns a new Urbit to run the sensor. The sensor will be addressable from the parent Urbit and can easily be debugged with the same tools that the farmer uses on his home Urbit. We could do the same thing for a tractor, for an irrigation system, etc.

Since each of these devices is federated, but self-sufficient, it means that they are ideally suited to an imperfectly connected environment. If the farm’s connection to farmcorp.com goes down, it won’t matter, since the devices on the network are perfectly capable of chugging along on their own. The tractor can be lent to a friend for a week and come back, no worse for the wear.

i’m not certain decentralized farming equipment is the killer app to propel urbit forth but i like the thought experiment, and i’m hugely in favor of decentralizing technology on principle.

That’s why philosopher Nicholas Shackel coined the term “motte-and-bailey” to describe the rhetorical strategy in which a debater retreats to an uncontroversial claim when challenged on a controversial one. The structure goes something like this:

First, someone makes a controversial statement from what blogger Ash Navabi calls the “courtyard of ideas.” Then when that statement, the bailey, is attacked, the speaker retreats to the motte, the place of “strict terms and/or rigorous reasoning”—falsely claiming that she was just making an obvious, uncontroversial point, one that could not possibly be challenged by any right-minded individual. Finally, when the argument has ended, she will go back to making those same controversial statements—the argumentative bailey, having successfully fended off all attackers. The point is to defend a controversial idea by systematically conflating it with a less easily-assailable one.

familiar territory for ssc readers, but a conceptual category that ought to be sown far and wide.

Might girls be worried not by stereotypes about computers themselves, but by stereotypes that girls are bad at math and so can’t succeed in the math-heavy world of computer science? No. About 45% of college math majors are women, compared to (again) only 20% of computer science majors. Undergraduate mathematics itself more-or-less shows gender parity. This can’t be an explanation for the computer results.

Might sexist parents be buying computers for their sons but not their daughters, giving boys a leg up in learning computer skills? In the 80s and 90s, everybody was certain that this was the cause of the gap. Newspapers would tell lurid (and entirely hypothetical) stories of girls sitting down to use a computer when suddenly a boy would show up, push her away, and demand it all to himself. But move forward a few decades and now young girls are more likely to own computers than young boys – with little change in the high school computer interest numbers. So that isn’t it either.

So if it happens before middle school, and it’s not stereotypes, what might it be?

this made waves beyond the usual circles; i’ve yet to see a direct response to this post but i’d be interested in reading a counterpositional essay that takes the same science into account. this is also linked therein, and stuck with me more than anything else:

There is considerable interest in understanding women’s underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers. Career choices have been shown to be driven in part by interests, and gender differences in those interests have generally been considered to result from socialization. We explored the contribution of sex hormones to career-related interests, in particular studying whether prenatal androgens affect interests through psychological orientation to Things versus People. We examined this question in individuals with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), who have atypical exposure to androgens early in development, and their unaffected siblings (total N = 125 aged 9 to 26 years). Females with CAH had more interest in Things versus People than did unaffected females, and variations among females with CAH reflected variations in their degree of androgen exposure. Results provide strong support for hormonal influences on interest in occupations characterized by working with Things versus People.

incidentally this disorder has a shocking 1 in 27 prevalence in ashkenazis in new york!

It’s easy to see what pushes Bates over the edge. He’d thought he was Normal, but it turns out he’s a WASP. By a further mad twist, he recognizes the one thing WASPs will never do is defend their own culture – that’s an essential ethnic tradition. Libertarianism has been crazily WASPish that way, when he looks at it, which he can’t for long. It’s an intractable paradox that leads through incoherence into fragmentation. To have protected his identity would have been something only another could have done. Perhaps his mother would look after him? But she’s dead.

The identification of classical liberalism with WASP culture is a strong approximation. Few socio-historical correlations are more robust, but the coincidence can only be statistical. There are socialist WASPs, and classical liberal non-WASPs, although not enough of either to seriously disrupt the pattern. When the French, in particular, refer to Anglo-Saxons stereotypically, they know what they are talking about, and so does anybody else who is paying attention. Hubert Védrine puts it best:

[L]et’s admit it: Globalization does not automatically benefit France. […] Globalization develops according to principles that correspond neither to French tradition nor to French culture. These principles include the ultraliberal market economy, mistrust of the state, individualism removed from the republican tradition, the inevitable reinforcement of the universal and ‘indispensable’ role of the United States, common law, the English language, Anglo-Saxon norms, and Protestant — more than Catholic — concepts.

land’s latest for jacobite

misc

What is NetRunner?

In the face of recent changes in Firefox, some anons were asking for a /g/’s perfect web browser. In the spirit of our site we have started development of our own browser. NetRunner is designed by /g/ to cater to powerusers and meet the demands of /g/.

i’ll be keeping an eye on this, but i’m afraid i’m too attached to js and tabbed browsing at the moment to make the switch

i2p routing for monero; i have a small bet placed that monero will become the darknet currency of choice

exactly what it sounds like; it’s been fun watching these little projects crop up


quote post 5

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Climate change is going to move a bunch of arable land out of a bunch of third world African countries, whose populations are exploding and who barely manage to feed themselves as it is. When those trends continue for 30 years, we are going to see one of the following: (1) mass starvation, (2) mass migration into the first world, or (3) western nations stepping in and setting up food distribution networks. The first will be morally intolerable, the second will be politically unthinkable, and the third will entail stabilizing the countries and effectively taking over their governments, or setting up a parallel government to secure the distribution networks. It’s this third option that will be de facto colonialism, although I’m sure people will tiptoe very carefully around that word in describing it.

reddit


link roundup 17

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sorry for the long delay since my last post. i’ve begun working full time and i don’t have as much free time to do reading these days. link posts might have to be biweekly-ish from here on, i haven’t figured out what rate i can put them together at reliably yet. onward:

reading

This is for one obvious reason: competition. Groups that maintain frustration, or are better at sowing it, will outcompete the others. The strength of a movement is directly proportional to its size and the fanatacism of its adherents, and the fanatacism of its adherents is directly proportional to the frustration they’re trying to escape. Mass movements that are good at what they do: a) make previously content outsiders frustrated; b) further frustrate their adherents while pretending to advance the movement. This means that the strongest mass movements are inevitably going to be the ones that are the best at not delivering the goods. Any movement that actually succeeds for (advances the interests of) its frustrated adherents will make them less frustrated. Hence, they’ll stop being members. Or it will succeed at its purpose, they’ll still be frustrated, and they’ll just join another.

[…]

But the problem is that it doesn’t mean movements do “nothing”, it means they frantically commit to useless, meaningless tasks that appear to solve something (Hoffer calls this “united action” – it dulls the mind and weakens the person). So instead of fighting the system, they suddenly start fighting random people taken to “represent it” but that specifically have no such power. Or they spend all their time writing manifestos and critiques, screaming and marching for no cause, making everyone else frustrated but fixing absolutely nothing. Or they turn on each other, trying to virtuously succeed at tasks they hate which have no real end. I really need to stress this: it kind of sounds like I’m attacking the left, but this is bipartisan, omnipartisan. All movements have this behavior: think of your own. It’s easy.

on the psychology of mass movements. this builds on previous samzdat posts that i have featured – they aren’t necessary but helpful to read prior. his influence by TLP is becoming more prominent as well.

Here’s what the Quakers at Seabrook did: they did role-playing exercises. They acted out different kinds of protest scenarios: some confrontational, some chill and peaceful. This was good practice for the protestors (if you’re into defensive pistol shooting, think of it as the Lefty version of IDPA stages). But not all of the protestors were roleplaying protestors, or cops. No: some were tasked with roleplaying average people watching the protest on TV, and giving feedback on how each option looked. Which made the protestors realize that to normies, violence wouldn’t play so hot.

And here’s how the Quaker influence got really huge: the Seabrook protestors were really impressed by what the Quakers had shown them so far, so the Quakers taught them something else. Not only did one organizer who’d been in Mayday explain how affinity groups worked, the Quakers taught the process of consensus decision-making, made without votes but through lengthy group discussion. Because that’s how decisions are made in Quaker meetings.

So if you’ve ever wondered why Occupy had those endless discussions: that’s why. It’s not just anarchism. It’s Quakerism. Yeah: much of the modern radical Left is essentially made up of secular Quakers who run decision-making like Quaker meetings. By “secular Quakers,” I don’t mean literal Quakers — I mean they’re basically running Quaker meetings without knowing it! This blew my dang mind.

couched as advice from the left for the right, but full of interesting lessons for any reader.

Please understand: I don’t think that the red tribe is in any way morally superior to blue. See above and also history. But in our society there is a meaningful asymmetry between donkey and elephant. The upper-middle class—mostly urban, mostly blue—claims by far the largest share of America’s income, more than the middle class and far more than the 1%. This, despite their protests to the contrary, gives them disproportionate control over the entertainment industry—both Hollywood and the Times—which in cyberpunk America is tantamount to controlling the culture.

So even though individual subgroups may feel under-represented—perhaps the mainstream media is “liberal” and likes Katy Perry while certain free-thinkers are “leftist” and like Kate Bush—they are by and large clueless as to the feeling of freak-show isolation that comes from existing outside their norms altogether, norms which are ubiquitous every time you turn on a screen. They are, one might say, “blind” to their “privilege.” They don’t realize how pornographic their entertainment looks from the outside, all the city slickers with nigh-infinite free time to define and redefine themselves, with labels, with relationships, with products designed for mood as it changes by the minute, pierced pansexual polyamorous VICE articles bickering over the finer points of Netflix doctrine, confessing sloth and sins to rapt followers, buoyed by the promise that self-care is okay because what you are doing is so important, so noble, so brave—and in the fine print a disclaimer, invisible except to those it excludes, for whom it is inescapable, “Swipe left if you voted for Trump.”

I didn’t vote for Trump. And my personal experience of refugees and illegal immigrants—via medical and psychiatric asylum cases—has been overwhelmingly positive. But policy decisions shouldn’t be settled by anecdotes. There is a moral imperative to help those in need—and conservatives should recognize this—while at the same time friction is inevitable when two cultures exist side by side—and liberals should recognize this. One would hope for a reasoned discussion of how to balance the two. But that won’t happen as long as those whose are insulated from the consequences of policy—need I point out that Los Angeles is not located in Houston?—use multiculturalism as a weapon to enforce class.

this is something like 80k words, but it has some very good bits (as highlighted).

The first section, written by Bruce Hoffman, explores al-Qaeda in an overall sense and how it relates to the Islamic State on the broader global stage. The second section presents a “deep dive” on al-Qaeda in Syria, with contributions from Charles Lister and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who approach the creation of HTS from different angles. Lister takes a more localized view, contextualizing it within the Syrian insurgency, while Gartenstein-Ross exam-ines the branch in light of al-Qaeda’s strategic outlook. Additionally, Samuel Heller gives insights into the governance capabilities of HTS’s predecessor groups, JN and JFS, and what these capabilities might portend for HTS. The third section examines al-Qaeda’s branches outside Syria. In particular, Katherine Zimmerman looks at the evolution of AQAP, Andrew Lebovich probes the changes within AQIM, Christopher Anzalone tracks the ups and downs of al-Shabab, and Don Rassler identifies key strengths and weaknesses of AQIS. The fourth and last section explores al-Qaeda’s current finances. Hans-Jakob Schindler explains the United Nations’ understanding of and approach to dealing with al-Qaeda’s financial capabilities and streams, while Katherine Bauer and Matthew Levitt examine the similarities and differences in how al-Qaeda finances itself compared to its pre- and post-911 situation.

Let’s leave aside the reprehensibility of this conduct for the moment and focus instead on its logic or lack thereof. Can these men possibly expect that their attempts will be successful? Do they actually think they will be able to rape a woman on the main street of a town in the middle of the day? On a train filled with other passengers? In a frequented public park in the early afternoon? Are they incapable of logical thought—or is that not even their aim? Do they merely want to cause momentary female hysteria and touch some forbidden places of a stranger’s body? Is that so gratifying that it’s worth jeopardizing their future and being hauled off to jail by scornful and disgusted Europeans? What is going on here? And why, why, why the Afghans? According to Austrian police statistics, Syrian refugees cause fewer than 10 percent of sexual assault cases. Afghans, whose numbers are comparable, are responsible for a stunning half of all cases.

[…]

This brings us to a third, more compelling and quite disturbing theory—the one that my Afghan friend, the court translator, puts forward. On the basis of his hundreds of interactions with these young men in his professional capacity over the past several years, he believes to have discovered that they are motivated by a deep and abiding contempt for Western civilization. To them, Europeans are the enemy, and their women are legitimate spoils, as are all the other things one can take from them: housing, money, passports. Their laws don’t matter, their culture is uninteresting and, ultimately, their civilization is going to fall anyway to the horde of which one is the spearhead. No need to assimilate, or work hard, or try to build a decent life here for yourself—these Europeans are too soft to seriously punish you for a transgression, and their days are numbered.

What is interesting about these triads is not that people hold the positions (which could be expected by chance) but that people get deep personal satisfaction from arguing the positions even when their arguments are unlikely to change policy6 - and that people identify with these positions to the point where arguments about them can become personal.

If meta-contrarianism is a real tendency in over-intelligent people, it doesn’t mean they should immediately abandon their beliefs; that would just be meta-meta-contrarianism. It means that they need to recognize the meta-contrarian tendency within themselves and so be extra suspicious and careful about a desire to believe something contrary to the prevailing contrarian wisdom, especially if they really enjoy doing so.

a 2010 classic by scott alexander i’ve found myself revisiting.

This is one reason that, as nearly every climate scientist I spoke to pointed out, the U.S. military is obsessed with climate change: The drowning of all American Navy bases by sea-level rise is trouble enough, but being the world’s policeman is quite a bit harder when the crime rate doubles. Of course, it’s not just Syria where climate has contributed to conflict. Some speculate that the elevated level of strife across the Middle East over the past generation reflects the pressures of global warming — a hypothesis all the more cruel considering that warming began accelerating when the industrialized world extracted and then burned the region’s oil.

What accounts for the relationship between climate and conflict? Some of it comes down to agriculture and economics; a lot has to do with forced migration, already at a record high, with at least 65 million displaced people wandering the planet right now. But there is also the simple fact of individual irritability. Heat increases municipal crime rates, and swearing on social media, and the likelihood that a major-league pitcher, coming to the mound after his teammate has been hit by a pitch, will hit an opposing batter in retaliation. And the arrival of air-conditioning in the developed world, in the middle of the past century, did little to solve the problem of the summer crime wave.

you may have seen this make the rounds a few weeks ago; i’ve seen every response to it from accusations of sensationalism to ignoring the truly apocalyptic (clathrate gun). i’ll just file it under “21c”.

The cyberattack in India used malware that could learn as it was spreading, and altered its methods to stay in the system for as long as possible. Those were “early indicators” of A.I., according to the cybersecurity company Darktrace. Essentially, the malware could figure out its surroundings and mimic the behavior of the system’s users, though Darktrace said the firm had found the program before it could do any damage.

“India is a place where newer A.I. attacks might be seen for the first time, simply because it is an ideal testing ground for those sorts of attacks,” said Nicole Eagan, the chief executive of Darktrace.

At times, these attacks are simply targeting more susceptible victims. While companies in the United States will often employ half a dozen security firms’ products as defensive measures, a similar company elsewhere may have just one line of defense — if any.

Sang culture is actually an evolved form of the once-prominent notion of xiaoquexing — fleeting moments of joy found in everyday life. For instance, buying a loaf of fresh bread — still hot from the baker’s oven — taking it home, and gnawing on the heel as you cut the rest into slices. Slipping through the undisturbed surface of a deserted swimming pool in the early hours of the morning, and pushing off from the wall with your foot. Listening to the chamber music of Brahms as you contemplate the silhouettes of leaves on a paper window, created by the gentle sunlight of an autumn afternoon.

If xiaoquexing is an appreciation of the little triumphs to be found amid life’s monotony, then sang culture is a similar emphasis, even an exaggeration, of a pervasive feeling of loss.

Fleeting joy forms the underlying context of sang culture. To be sang is not to be in a state of complete despair; instead, the term evokes the sense of disenfranchisement that certain young people feel as a result of being excluded from some of life’s supposedly greater pursuits, such as home ownership, the accumulation of personal wealth, and the attainment of social mobility. Sang culture is a first-world problem: Its adherents wallow in grievances that contrast starkly with the much more pressing problems faced in most other developing nations.

a chinese answer to hikikomori? (you will have to forgive this site’s obnoxious js smoothscrolling)

The 2017 Revision of World Population Prospects is the twenty-fifth round of official United Nations population estimates and projections that have been prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. The main results are presented in a series of Excel files displaying key demographic indicators for each development group, income group, region, subregion and country or area for selected periods or dates within 1950-2100. A publication labelled Key findings and advance tables, which provide insights on the results of this latest revision, is also made available.

the african century.

My survey broadly confirms these numbers. Autism rates were sky-high in every category – it’s almost as if the sorts of people who like reading blogs about how gender is all just NMDA receptors skew more autistic than average – but there was a remarkable difference across gender identities. 15% of cisgender people were autistic, but a full 52% of trans people were.

The survey also finds that about 4% of non-schizophrenic people were transgender, compared to 21% of schizophrenics and self-suspected schizophrenics. Other people have noticed the same connection, and I’ve met more schizophrenic transgender people than I would expect by chance given the very low rates of both conditions.

If this is right, we end up with this rich set of connections between schizophrenics, autistics, ketamine, dissociative experiences, estrogen, gender identity, and the hollow mask. Anything that decreases NMDA function – schizophrenia, autism, ketamine – will potentially cause dissociative experiences and decreased glitching on the mask illusion. Estrogen will improve NMDA function, treat dissociative experiences, and bring back hollow-mask glitching.

So I wonder: is NMDA hypofunction related to transgender? That would explain the autism and schizophrenia connections. It would explain the hollow mask numbers. It would explain the dissociation. It would explain why estrogen helps the dissociation. And it would explain a lot of internal connections between all of these different conditions and factors.

misc

in light of recent news – a glimpse into the future:

Bisq is a cross-platform desktop application that allows users to trade national currency (dollars, euros, etc) for bitcoin without relying on centralized exchanges such as Coinbase, Bitstamp or (the former) Mt. Gox.

By running Bisq on their local machines, users form a peer-to-peer network. Offers to buy and sell bitcoin are broadcast to that network, and through the process of offering and accepting these trades via the Bisq UI, a market is established.

in combination with…

What is OpenBazaar?

OpenBazaar is a different way to do online commerce. It’s a peer to peer application that doesn’t require middlemen, which means no fees & no restrictions.

How does OpenBazaar work?

OpenBazaar connects people directly via a peer to peer network. Data is distributed across the network instead of storing it in a central database.

How are there no fees and restrictions?

OpenBazaar isn’t a company nor an organization; it’s free open source software. It was built to provide everyone with the ability to buy and sell freely✌️

i would be surprised if a combination of systems like these two doesn’t become the new standard for black and grey market activity.

Elvish is a friendly and expressive shell for Linux, macOS and BSDs.

Save and classify articles. Read them later. Freely.

a self-hosted instapaper/pocket replacement


u-2

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i got a parcel in the mail from my aunt today, with a few things from my grandfather including a copy of 20-something handwritten pages of memories from his time flying U-2 spy planes for the air force in the 50s and 60s. i spent about two hours typing it up, and you can read it here.


link roundup 16

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reading

The available intelligence was not relevant. The most experienced man at the table was Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who had the president’s respect and understood, perhaps, how quickly that could evaporate. Mike Pompeo, the CIA director whose agency had consistently reported that it had no evidence of a Syrian chemical bomb, was not present. Secretary of State Tillerson was admired on the inside for his willingness to work long hours and his avid reading of diplomatic cables and reports, but he knew little about waging war and the management of a bombing raid. Those present were in a bind, the adviser said. “The president was emotionally energized by the disaster and he wanted options.” He got four of them, in order of extremity. Option one was to do nothing. All involved, the adviser said, understood that was a non-starter. Option two was a slap on the wrist: to bomb an airfield in Syria, but only after alerting the Russians and, through them, the Syrians, to avoid too many casualties. A few of the planners called this the “gorilla option”: America would glower and beat its chest to provoke fear and demonstrate resolve, but cause little significant damage. The third option was to adopt the strike package that had been presented to Obama in 2013, and which he ultimately chose not to pursue. The plan called for the massive bombing of the main Syrian airfields and command and control centers using B1 and B52 aircraft launched from their bases in the U.S. Option four was “decapitation”: to remove Assad by bombing his palace in Damascus, as well as his command and control network and all of the underground bunkers he could possibly retreat to in a crisis.

new sy hersh is like christmas in june. for framing, check out 2014’s The Red Line and the Rat Line, regarding turkish involvement in the ghouta sarin attack and obama’s response.

In an environment which is no-longer home or prison, but both - a safe space from which danger never really disappears - the depressed are made accustomed to exerting labour for their discursive masters, slotted into cybernetic dispositions grafted with buttons they can push, and saints they can worship.

It angers them, it confuses them. It fucks and shits and eats - yet does it think? What happens when you show it something sprayed with ‘Hyperracism’? ‘Who could utter such a thing?’ Interesting, let’s note it down. It doesn’t need analysis. It’s impressive, in a way, this diremption of professionalisation (all the arsenal of discourse analysis, power structures, systemic issues… all the rituals of purification). Heretical interventions taunt them with overtness, with the suggestion that their careful techniques and theoretical acrobatics might be useless… they gnash their teeth. It! - the object angers them because the obsolecence is their own: they have been trained only to label, to recode, not even to decrypt, but to identify (with) labels, to receive signs and representations… not the prospect of the total abrogation of this category. Bad investments hurt.

As capital increasingly encroaches on cognition (to stealthily reveal itself as the real agent), the only theory that remains coherent is immanent. Let it go - it cannot be stopped by anyone - definitely not by you.

I know that the psychology studies that show up on my Facebook feed or on Andrew Gelman’s blog are preselected for bad methodology. I thought that while bad statistics proliferated in psychology for decades (despite warnings by visionaries like Cohen), this ended in 2015 when the replicability crisis showed that barely 36% of finding in top psych journals replicate. Some entrenched psychologists who built their careers on p-hacked false findings may gripe about “methodological terrorists“, but surely the young generation will wise up to the need for proper methodology, the least of which is doing a power calculation.

And yet, here I was talking to a psychology student who came to give a presentation about statistical power and had the following, utterly stupefying, exchange:

Me: So, how did you calculate statistical power in your own research?

Her: What do you mean ‘how we calculated it’?

Me: The statistical power of your experiment, how did you arrive at it?

Her: Oh, our research was inspired by a previous paper. They said their power was 80%, so we said the same.

This person came to present a paper detailing the ways in which psychologists fuck up their methodology, and yet was utterly uninterested in actually doing the methodology. When I gave her the quick explanation of how power works I wrote down in part 1 of this post, she seemed indifferent, as if all this talk of statistics and inference was completely irrelevant to her work as a psychology researcher.

This is mind boggling to me. I don’t have any good explanation for what actually went on in her head. But I have an explanation, and if it’s true it’s terrifying.

In 2009 SSI paid 8M people about $45B. 60% of those under 65 had a “mental disorder.” Did many have a legitimate disorder? Sure. Whatever. But when the system ties benefits to a mental disorder, the point is the benefits, not the mental disorder.

What you should be asking is why, if society has decided to give the poor a stipend of $600/month, does it do this through the medical establishment and not as a traditional social policy? And the answer is very simple:

  • you, America, would go bananas if poor people got money for nothing, you can barely stand it when they get it for a disability;

  • if you offload a social problem to medicine, if you medicalize a social problem, then you’ve bought yourself a generation or two to come up with a new plan or invade someone.

Do you want riots in the streets? How much does it cost to prevent LA (or the city of your choice) from catching fire? Answer: $600/month/person, plus Medicaid. Medicalizing social problems has the additional benefit of rendering society not responsible for those social ills. If it’s a disease, it’s nobody’s fault. Yay empiricism.

this got TLP in a lot of trouble and it was deleted, hence the archival copy.

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client’s interest. The physician, puzzled by a patient’s reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.

The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only on the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world’s record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.

Side-channel attacks can recover secret keys from cryptographic algorithms (including the pervasive AES) using measurements such as power use. However, these previously-known attacks on AES tend to require unrestricted, physical access to the device. Using improved antenna and signal processing, Fox-IT and Riscure show how to covertly recover the encryption key from two realistic AES-256 implementations while:

  1. Attacking at a distance of up to 1 m (30 cm in realistic conditions; “TEMPEST”),

  2. Using minimal equipment (fits in a jacket pocket, costs less than €200) and

  3. Needing only a few minutes (5 minutes for 1 m and 50 seconds for 30 cm).

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first public demonstration of such covert attacks from a distance. This demonstration reinforces the real need for defence-in-depth when designing high assurance systems — as Fox-IT is well known for.

Before artificial computers, humans were basically the only computers available, and so they had to be used for all needed tasks, even those requiring only a tiny fraction of human capability. These simplest tasks were the first to be automated. Then as hardware got cheaper and we could afford to spend more on software, we worked to automate more complex tangled tasks. These are tasks that use more of the tools within each brain, that have a lot of complex internal structure, and that must be coordinated in more detail with a complex non-human or human world.

So far, humans have been limited in their competition with automation because their brain software has been stuck inside its brain hardware. Compared to today’s artificial hardware, human brain hardware is good at memory and parallel computation, but terrible at communication with outside systems. If our brain hardware remains stuck while artificial hardware keeps getting better, it seems that eventually everything must be done better and cheaper artificially.

However, eventually brain emulations (ems) should be possible. Then human software can use artificial hardware and compete on more equal terms. And once we understand more about human software, we’ll be able to change it at least somewhat. At that point, the question for each task will be: is this task better done by a descendant of human software, by a descendant of artificial software made via some process recognizably like how we now make software, or by software made via some other process?

This inability of the brain to track “its own astronomical dimensionality; it can at best track problem-specific correlational activity, various heuristic hacks,” is the same thing H.P. Lovecraft meant when he spoke of the “inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents”. This acute blindness to the reality within and without, to the intrinsic and extrinsic facets of our own singular being and the Real or Outside is to be faced with the fact that move and have our being within an absolute darkness of which we know nothing. Like Plato’s mythical cave fantasists we project a fantasy reality onto the darkness of the cave walls and call that our world. Where Plato erred is in adding the notion that while we sit in the dark there exists behind us and outside us, beyond the universal chaos of time and space some other world – a world of pure forms (eidos, Ideas, substantial forms, etc.) that are the true sources of all our fake copies. So that the task of philosophy was to guide us back, to remember that this other immortal realm exists and that this is where our true home is beyond time and space. Problem is that Plato made this up; or, should we say he provided in his time a secularization of the mysteries of the Pythagorean-Orphic traditions that had been passed down through hundreds of years of Greek history from the early Shamans of those long forgotten sects and cults of the mysteries. Nothing is ever made out of whole cloth, instead Plato attributed his discoveries to his mentor Socrates so that Plato as a novelist of Ideas became for all intents and purposes the first Science Fiction author.

part two here.

The blockchain is the new hot technology. If you haven’t heard about it, you probably know Bitcoin. Well, the blockchain is the underlying technology that powers Bitcoin. Experts say the blockchain will cause a revolution similar to what Internet provoked. But what is it really, and how can it be used to build apps today? This post is the first in a series of three, explaining the blockchain phenomenon to web developers. We’ll discuss the theory, show actual code, and share our learnings, based on a real world project.

part two, “in practice”.

misc


link roundup 15

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reading

There seems to be no institutional recourse for many young men like Carter, who find themselves starring down panels of graven-faced administrators with no one to speak for them or make their case. In some ways, Nagle is a continuation of this trend, another academic pedagogue with misplaced priorities when it comes to the well-being of the young men she believes must be saved from themselves. Rather than give their complaints a hearing, Nagle resolves to remove the one recourse they seem to have left: chic nihilism.

After emerging into adulthood through situations like these young men find themselves confronted on all sides by the myriad problems of the world, of environmental depletion, demographic collapse, fracturing social consensuses and rising uncertainty and impotence in the face of what more and more appear to be insurmountable obstacles to the continuation of civilization itself. The only permissible framework available from within which to understand and begin tackling these issues, however, is the same bureaucratic techno-feminism which so utterly failed them throughout their many unproductive and painful years of schooling. That they should automatically be distrustful that panels of academic feminists discussing the possible end of the world is the most expedient approach is almost a foregone conclusion.

Sometimes we say something like “The best part of a capitalist society is that everyone can buy whatever they want, and consume whatever they want. Some people have lavish weddings, others drown in balloon porn. America!” That’s true, but it hides something. Inasmuch as a wedding has a price it’s a commodity, but that doesn’t mean we can replace it and expect all things to be equal. “They banned marriage, so I bought thirty thousand grapefruits.” Qualitative differences, yeah, but the difference will be psychological, where “psychological” means human desires and reactions to loss. Stronger: even if you don’t care about the internal loss, people will not react the same way, which means great external changes that you’re unprepared for. Failing to account for that doesn’t mean you’re objectively analyzing the data, it means you’re bad at your job.

The fact that weddings price certain people out is “bad”, sure, but possibly unavoidable. This isn’t a problem of modernity: You can read cuneiform that bitches about bride prices prices/the subsequent debt-servitude, and the Nuer famously conquered half of East Africa over dowry problems. What is new to the market society is constant competition. Any custom which cannot adapt to the market disappears. They will be priced out, their adherents outcompeted, etc. Weddings and funerals can adapt, but you know that we had other things before those, right? They might have been important for, like, human thriving. There might be something missing now. “Weddings are just another good”, which is how they’re treated, but you get that most goods disappear, right?

Let me bold this. There are other customs that could not adapt to a modern economy, but whose loss may be no less psychologically devastating.

The standard argument: things that are beneficial to the species survive because they provide [utility]. Hence, we can be assured that weddings and funerals were more important for [reason]. Choose your favorite, I guarantee the evopsych one involves the phrase “intramale competition”, it won’t explain the problem.

I already showed why this argument is wrong, you just have to look for it.

…and the excellent paper linked therein:

Across human societies,one sees many examples of deeply rooted and widely-held beliefs that are almost certainly untrue. Examples include beliefs about witchcraft, magic, ordeals, and superstitions. Why are such incorrect beliefs so prevalent and how do they persist? We consider this question through an examination of superstitions and magic associated with conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Focusing on superstitions related to bullet-proofing, we provide theory and case-study evidence showing how these incorrect beliefs persist. Although harmful at the individual-level, we show that they generate Pareto efficient outcomes that have group-level benefits.

(by the way, if you missed last week’s link to samzdat, i can’t recommend it enough – it put him easily and immediately in the top tier of my favorite bloggers; it’s also very helpful framing for this week’s link)

For 60 years, liberal managers believed that their political authority was derived from their intellectual authority. When their political authority was suddenly and violently ripped away, they tried to reestablish it by reminding the world that they still knew better than the rest of us. But they got the order of their power backward: without political power, there is no power to assert the boundaries of the normal. “Fake news” was meant to chide the new right into complacency. Instead, the new right, newly in control of our whole government, simply stole the phrase and projected it back again. Now The New York Times and CNN are the Fake News. But a superego can only do one thing — correct — and so it says “No you!” while its enemies shrug and carry on. The truth is that intellectual authority does not cause political authority, and political authority does not cause intellectual superiority. Both are derived from class power. For 60 years, capital believed that it had the whole world well in hand, and so its most important servants were just the smiling reformists who could keep it that way. But the world changed. Now money has no need for its superego.

Managerial liberalism is doing what any superego must under severe stress: continue, against all hope, to assert control. Yet, faced with an ascendant global right and a resurgent global left, its correcting and corralling impulses have gone haywire. It becomes frenzied, elevating cranks like Louise Mensch in a last-ditch effort to reestablish its authority, shouting this is not normal this is not normal into a void. But what is abnormal is not any particular political state, it is the accelerating collapse of the superego’s capacity to regulate the behavior of the body politic. It is the realization that history is not over, and that nothing — not the temporary restoration of the Democratic Party to power, or the defeat of every fascist in Europe, or the transformation of the United States’s young socialists into eager NIMBY liberals — will ever make it stop.

..and a timely defense of liberal philosophy:

People talk about “liberalism” as if it’s just another word for capitalism, or libertarianism, or vague center-left-Democratic Clintonism. Liberalism is none of these things. Liberalism is a technology for preventing civil war. It was forged in the fires of Hell – the horrors of the endless seventeenth century religious wars. For a hundred years, Europe tore itself apart in some of the most brutal ways imaginable – until finally, from the burning wreckage, we drew forth this amazing piece of alien machinery. A machine that, when tuned just right, let people live together peacefully without doing the “kill people for being Protestant” thing. Popular historical strategies for dealing with differences have included: brutally enforced conformity, brutally efficient genocide, and making sure to keep the alien machine tuned really really carefully.

And when I see someone try to smash this machinery with a sledgehammer, it’s usually followed by an appeal to “but racists!”

This Research Paper examines how the white supremacist movement Christian Identity emerged from a non-extremist forerunner known as British Israelism. By examining ideological shifts over the course of nearly a century, the paper seeks to identify key pivot points in the movement’s shift toward extremism and explain the process through which extremist ideologues construct and define in-group and out-group identities. Based on these findings, the paper proposes a new framework for analysing and understanding the behaviour and emergence of extremist groups. The proposed framework can be leveraged to design strategic counter-terrorism communications programmes using a linkage-based approach that deconstructs the process of extremist in-group and out-group definition. Future publications will continue this study, seeking to refine the framework and operationalise messaging recommendations.

It was governed as a moderate Islamic nation for three decades under the autocratic rule of the former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. But after the country made a transition to democracy in 2008, space opened up for greater religious expression, and conservative ideologies like Salafism cropped up.

“You can’t say all of Salafism is radical Islam,” said Azra Naseem, a Maldivian researcher on extremism at Dublin City University. “But it’s a form of Islam that’s completely brought into the Maldives from Saudi Arabia and other places. Now, it’s being institutionalized, because everybody in the universities, in the Islamic Ministry, they are all spreading this form of Islam. Within that, of course, there will be jihadis.”

Over the years, efforts to report on radical cells have been met with violent resistance. In 2014, a prominent Maldivian journalist who wrote about secularism and extremism, Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, was abducted.

In this sense, the evolution of France since Muray’s death [in 2006], and in particular since the socialists won the presidency, have confirmed his prophecies to an amazing degree. So much that even himself would have been surprised by, for example, the fact that France was after Sweden the second country in Europe to criminalize prostitution. I think he would have had trouble understanding it.

If I tell you my opinion, I believe that banning prostitution amounts to abolishing one of the fundamental pillars of society. It means making marriage impossible. Without prostitution as a corrective, marriage collapses, family collapses too, and then society for demographic reasons. And so banning prostitution is simply one aspect of the European suicide.

Feminism has been the first, inevitable target. It is tightly correlated with the collapse of fertility, and is something modernity tends (strongly) to promote. The expansion of female social opportunities beyond obligate child-rearing could scarcely lead anywhere other than to a drastic contraction of family size. The inexorable modern trend to social decoding – i.e. to the production of an abstract contractual agency in the place of concretely determined persons – makes the explosion of such opportunities apparently uncontainable. The individualism fostered by urban life might, to the counter-factual imagination, have been in some way restricted to males, but as a matter of actual historical fact the dereliction of traditional social roles has proceeded without serious limitation, with variation in speed, but no indication of alternative direction. The radically decoded Internet persona – optionally anonymous, fabricated, and self-defining – seems no more than an extrapolation from the emergent norms of urban existence. Feminist assumptions, at least in their ‘first-wave,’ liberal form, are integral to the modern city.

Religious traditionalist lamentations in this regard are, of course, nothing new. Christianity – especially under Catholic inspiration – has connected modernity to sterility for as long as modernity has been noticed. A number of crucial factors have nevertheless changed. Since the early years of the new millennium, secular liberals have begun to notice the connection between religiosity and fertility, and to express gathering concern about its partisan political consequences. In a 2009 paper, Sarah R. Hayford and S. Philip Morgan discuss the transition from a traditional discussion of the topic, focused upon differential Catholic and Protestant fertility, to its contemporary mode, subsequent to the convergence of denominational differences, and now mapping more closely onto red / blue state partisan affiliations.

I think hyperstition is one of those things that has completely escaped from the box and is now a wild, feral animal on the loose. My relation to this alien thing is like everyone else’s who’s interested in it. I am approaching it from a position of zero authority, trying to make sense of how it is living and changing and affecting the world. It, the thing, not it, the concept. But having said that, my sense of a hyperstition is that a hyperstition is an experiment. It makes itself real, if it works. And whether or not it works, is something that can’t be, again, decided by a process of an internal debate, you can’t as a result of some kind of internal dialectics decide that, hey, this is a good hyperstition, it has a great future. It’s gonna work because of its intrinsic relation to the Outside, which is something that cannot be managed. Perhaps it can be cautiously, tentatively predicted in a way that a scientist or an artist would—through learning their craft—get a sense of what is gonna work and what isn’t gonna work. But that’s not the same as having a criterion, still less a law.

If people go their separate ways such a divorce would be an astonishing defeat for the Left. For the first time since 1917 it would be giving up its claim to guide the entire in order to settle for parts. As late as 2016 it was possible to imagine an America led to a “progressive” future by Hillary Clinton; an EU guiding all of Europe to a similar destiny and the G20 taking the whole world to the same destination. Indeed everyone told they were fated to follow an Arc of History. Yet after Brexit, Trump and G-Zero it is no longer possible to visualize this outcome. A blue-red division would confirm the failure to create a “progressive” world. No conceivable rollback will ever put Humpty Dumpty together again.

While this would be bad for the political ambitions of the Left, the people on the Left may actually benefit. The alternative to the gloom doom scenario is to recognize that we may in fact be on a pathway to a new American century, a new epoch of world prosperity. Except that it will be a different America and a different globe.

It is by no means clear there will be any real losers in a rediversification of the world. The world after all was once a much more varied place. It is still divided as it is into countries, competing corporations, ideologies and religions. We routinely knit disparate countries, computer systems and even physical modalities together and make good money from it. The end of the old system may in fact unlock opportunities – and wealth – to be found in creating the adjustments, interfaces, routings, services required by a world suddenly supercharged by new degrees of freedom. Economic activity continues even in times of transition. Only the form of activity changes.

misc

  • gopass – a drop-in golang rewrite of the nix pass utility, with some new extensibility

  • AQUATONE

AQUATONE is a set of tools for performing reconnaissance on domain names. It can discover subdomains on a given domain by using open sources as well as the more common subdomain dictionary brute force approach. After subdomain discovery, AQUATONE can then scan the hosts for common web ports and HTTP headers, HTML bodies and screenshots can be gathered and consolidated into a report for easy analysis of the attack surface.


link roundup 14

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i think i forgot to mention, i graduated with a BA in history last month. i have some truly excellent links this week, though:

reading

As the LTTE grew from a guerilla movement into a quasi-conventional army, they built up a naval capability as the Sea Tigers (கடற்புலிகள்). This was strategically vital as the Tamil Tigers relied on their sea lines of communication for supplies. The Sea Tigers only ever had a limited open ocean capability, far inferior to the Sri Lankan Navy, but sought to make up for it inshore with a range of innovative asymmetric capabilities, including explosive suicide boats, divers, semi-submersibles and crude submarines. These were built in clandestine jungle factories in LTTE held territory.

Throughout the conflict the LTTE published photographs and video of a range of capabilities for propaganda purposes. These often showed interesting and novel Sea Tiger craft. Additionally the Government showed off captured prizes and still displays an impressive array of Sea Tiger craft. Between these sources the internet is rich with imagery of Sea Tiger craft (especially if you search in local languages).

this whole site is a real treat – be sure to check out the page about narco subs as well

Granted that one of the purposes of history is to supply us with picturesque and instructive anecdotes, it must be insisted that this requirement cannot override the obligation on writers of history to keep to the truth. On the contrary, tales of the perfidy of fortune or the folly of princes are instructive precisely to the extent that they are true. In most branches of history, counsels of good sense along these lines have prevailed, and the public expects of its historians a certain complexity in their explanations and reasonably high standards of evidence. It is no longer possible to ascribe the course of events simply to the ambitions of great men or to class hatred, nor can anyone just repeat a story using as sole evidence the assertion of some previous historian. The examples above, though, make one wonder whether these laudable developments have taken place in the history of ideas, at least of the more popular kind. The subject is still a morass of colourful falsehoods and sectarian myths handed down from generation to generation with no more foundation in evidence than those genealogies whereby royal houses once sought to connect themselves with the heroes of Troy. And here I do not use “myth” in any technical sense, as some avant garde theologians are said to do, according to which a myth may be in some way essentially true. By “myth” I mean “lie”.

The tales about the medieval thinkers and Galileo are little lies. The big lie of which they are the foothills is the Renaissance.

We insist, then, that there is no promised land, no socialist Prester John waiting ready and hidden either in the icy winds of human political temporality or in the solar-hot chaos of urban intensity. Far from discouraging the unconditional accelerationist or beckoning her to the grim convent of asceticism, however, the ruins in which this realisation contemptuously leaves us are the terrain of a genuine, even, properly, horrific aesthetic freedom that is liberated from the totality of a one-directional political teleology. ‘Do what thou wilt’, since with human agency displaced, the world will route around our decisions, impressing itself precisely through our glittering fractionation. Taking the smallest steps beyond good and evil, the unconditional accelerationist, more than anyone else, is free at heart to pursue what she thinks is good and right and interesting—but with the ironical realisation that the primary ends that are served are not her own. For the unconditional accelerationist, the fastidious seriousness of the problem-solvers who propose to ‘save humanity’ is absurd in the face of the problems they confront. It can provoke only Olympian laughter. And so, ‘in its colder variants, which are those that win out, [accelerationism] tends to laugh.’

Whereas the new left are funded to be inherently toothless against power, the alt-right and neoreaction do it for free. The only significant difference is that they espouse a suite of neoliberal/ unsecure power liberties that are different to the new left’s. Whereas the new left pushes a horizontilaism and negative liberties based on the liberation of the individual’s racial and gender identity from formal authority, the alt right and neoreaction come at you from the angle of economics and law, calling for a liberation of the individual from economic complexity and formal control. Both sets in effect offer a suite of negative liberties which are intrinsically what someone once correctly labelled for me as primitivistic. Both espouse a rejection of organisational complexity, masking it with a referral to a mystical individual level spontaneous order which lacks any coherence and which has real affinity to the most extreme crass fideistic referrals to God as a cause for events. How does the economy work? Invisible hand. How do markets work? Competition is good. How does technology develop? Markets. How will society work if everyone is supplied negative liberties? Their natural goodness will come out. How will change occur? people will awaken spontaneously. Each time the discussion stops exactly where it is believed it supports anarchistic and primitivistic interpretations of events.

To offer any sort of threat to the neoliberal/ unsecure power system, a movement will need to be avowedly hegemonic. Either by developing alternative hegemonic institutions or converting the neoliberal/ unsecure power institutions into absolutist hegemonic institutions. We also need to reject negative liberties which are the basis of neoliberalism and the unsecure power system in favour of true liberty offered by an absolutist accelerationist state. A basic guide is supplied by the actions of Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping and the other Asian developmental states of the mid-twentieth century. The west has nothing to offer intellectually except mindless neoliberal friendly destruction and autism in this regard.

The timing of the DoJ release was clearly premeditated to send a message to would be leakers that the long arm of the law moves fast. The implied narrative is that mere hours after the leaked document was released they had already collared the leaker. Additionally, the search warrant is worded to throw as much blame on The Intercept as possible. The truth is that Ms Winner was doomed, regardless of what The Intercept did to protect their source – which was, basically, nothing.

[…]

The DoJ affidavits and press release do a lot of heavy lifting to place as much blame as possible on The Intercept, but they had almost no material impact on the investigation. The language of the search warrant affidavit implies that The Intercept was not operating safely and essentially grassed up their source in the rush to get a scoop — apparently the Russians were involved in hacking during the 2016 US election (something that has been heavily reported on since June 2016…a year.)

The MSS unit with which Claiborne became involved was the Shanghai State Security Bureau (SSSB). Largely unknown outside of the small group of people who look at Chinese intelligence operations, the SSSB has surfaced only a few times in public. In 2009, the SSSB raided the China offices of Australian mining firm Rio Tinto. The office director, Stern Hu, came under investigation, because his aggressive approach to investment cost the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises several hundred million dollars. A year later, the FBI arrested Glenn Duffie Shriver, who applied to work at the State Department and CIA in exchange for $70,000. The SSSB recruited Shriver in Shanghai when he responded to an essay contest on U.S.-China relations and encouraged him to take a position in the U.S. government.

The affidavit reveals that the SSSB can operate all over China and the world, not just in Shanghai. In communications with Claiborne, her SSSB contacts—identified only as Co-Conspirator B and Co-Conspirator C—offered to meet her in Beijing as well as any third country if and when she left the United States. Co-Conspirator B also made references to business trips in Italy and Africa.

be sure to check out the linked affidavit if spycraft interests you

The myth of progress may not yet be dead, but it is dying. In its place another myth has been growing up, a myth that has been promoted especially by the anarchoprimitivists, though it is widespread in other quarters as well. According to this myth, prior to the advent of civilization no one ever had to work, people just plucked their food from the trees and popped it into their mouths and spent the rest of their time playing ring-around-the-rosie with the flower children. Men and women were equal, there was no disease, no competition, no racism, sexism or homophobia, people lived in harmony with the animals and all was love, sharing and cooperation.

Admittedly, the foregoing is a caricature of the anarchoprimitivists’ vision. Most of them — I hope — are not quite as far out of touch with reality as that. They nevertheless are pretty far out of touch with it, and it’s high time for someone to debunk their myth. Because that is the purpose of this article, I will say little here about the positive aspects of primitive societies. I do want to make clear, however, that one can truthfully say about such societies a great deal that is positive. In other words, the anarchoprimitivist myth is not one hundred percent myth; it does include some elements of reality.

A more serious worry for psychological-continuity views is that you could be psychologically continuous with two past or future people at once. If your cerebrum—the upper part of the brain largely responsible for mental features—were transplanted, the recipient would be psychologically continuous with you by anyone’s lights (even though there would also be important psychological differences). The psychological-continuity view implies that she would be you. If we destroyed one of your cerebral hemispheres, the resulting being would also be psychologically continuous with you. (Hemispherectomy—even the removal of the left hemisphere, which controls speech—is considered a drastic but acceptable treatment for otherwise-inoperable brain tumors: see Rigterink 1980.) What if we did both at once, destroying one hemisphere and transplanting the other? Then too, the one who got the transplanted hemisphere would be psychologically continuous with you, and would be you according to the psychological-continuity view.

But now suppose that both hemispheres are transplanted, each into a different empty head. (We needn’t pretend, as some authors do, that the hemispheres are exactly alike.) The two recipients—call them Lefty and Righty—will each be psychologically continuous with you. The psychological-continuity view as we have stated it implies that any future being who is psychologically continuous with you must be you. It follows that you are Lefty and also that you are Righty. But that cannot be: if you and Lefty are one and you and Righty are one, Lefty and Righty cannot be two. And yet they are. To put the point another way, suppose Lefty is hungry at a time when Righty isn’t. If you are Lefty, you are hungry at that time. If you are Righty, you aren’t. If you are Lefty and Righty, you are both hungry and not hungry at once: a contradiction.

In dozens of articles posted over several years, Yahya demonstrated knowledge of classical Arabic—the notoriously difficult language of educated religious speech—and familiarity with Islamic sources and history. His Arabic was stunning even to Cerantonio, an extremely self-confident religious autodidact. Cerantonio told me that another Muslim in their internet discussion group had once challenged a theological point Yahya had made. “Then Yahya did something that shocked us all,” Cerantonio said. “He responded to the guy in traditional Arabic poetry that he devised off the top of his head, using the guy’s name in the poetry, explaining the situation, and answering his objections.” For any claim, it seemed, Yahya could instantly spout textual support, and confronted with any counterclaim, he could undercut the argument with a sweep of the leg.

[…]

The couple indulged, too, in their other shared passion: getting high. Islamic orthodoxy considers cannabis an intoxicant, and therefore forbidden. But Yahya’s practice of Islam was unconventional even then. In a historical essay titled “Cannabis,” heavily footnoted with classical Arabic sources, he made the Islamic case for pot. There was evidence, he wrote, that early Islamic leaders had taxed hemp seeds. Since Muslims generally cannot tax forbidden substances, such as pork or alcohol, Yahya reasoned, they must have considered pot permissible. As for psilocybin: Yahya cited an obscure hadith (a report of the sayings and actions of Muhammad) that he said described Muhammad’s having descended from a mountain after meditation and extolling the medicinal properties of mushrooms—particularly as a cure for diseases of the eye. Yahya and Tania took this to mean that God had sanctioned the ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms. So the young lovers blissed out under the Texas sky, shrooming after the example of the prophet himself.

“The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live –moreover, the only one,” says Cioran. Nihilism is the first step in an active annihilation not of reality, but of the human illusions of reality; and of humanity itself as a primal illusion, one that must be rendered null and void. Karl Marx himself would say “religion in itself is without content, it owes its being not to heaven but to the earth, and with the abolition of distorted reality, of which it is the theory, it will collapse of itself.” (Letter from Marx to Arnold Ruge In Dresden (1842)) With the death and murder of the gods, and God, we began that slow and methodical destruction of the illusions that have bound us in a cage of madness for millennia. Yet, this step into freedom was captured and turned against us, an act at once of enslavement and total evisceration, a systematic unveiling of an order of obstinate sociopathy, a recursion to a formalism of a voidic disaggregation enclosing us in a a non-time, a present without outlet; a static conveyance that has no other goal than its own continuance: an aberration of the death-flows it seeks to evade, a cage for the desires that it seeks to bind from the inherent movement of death. Civilization is this system: capitalism is its engine, an alien form of life that has no inherent objective other than annihilation.

“We are all deep in a hell each moment of which is a miracle.” – Emile Cioran Ours is a culture of the excrescence of death, a thanatopic pursuit not of profit but of total annihilation. The principle of deregulation inherent in global capitalism is indistinguishable from the total acceleration of a deterritorialized, systematic and efficient cannibalism (one that seeks to incorporate every last niche of biopower within a machinic phylum) – and a civilization of machinic and technocratic infestation from which there is no reprieve. The question is whether one accepts the truth of this and joins the comedy of destruction and implosion (helps it along, gives it a push), or whether one spends one’s time in the factories of oblivion, illusory worlds of decaying narratives of disorder and madness spinning out of control, reversions to outworn heresies of a bankrupt and decadent ethno-apocalypse by way of irony and fake solutions.

Where does this get us? From the perspective of early 20th century rationalists: global commerce and dazzling new technologies vs. peasants who insisted on setting their own crops on fire for a bizarre religious ritual. That’s not hyperbole, by the way, that’s an example from the book. The rationalists were maybe aware that they had spotty or incomplete data on growing practices, but the data they did have was quantified and supported by labs, whereas the villagers couldn’t explain their practice using any kind of data. The peasants, it turns out, were right, but would you have guessed that? More importantly: would you guess that now?

The only way that I can see that one would is if there’s a genuine admission of ignorance on the part of the “scientists”. Even reconsidering one’s position requires some kind of counter-argument, and the problem here is that the counter-argument doesn’t make sense in the language of the scientists. Indeed – a solid counterargument requires some kind of power (you’re not going to listen to some random guy on the street screaming about [whatever]), but legibility inherently reduces that power.

A common takeaway from Seeing Like a State is “reality is a lot more complex than the state simplifications”. And that is extremely true. But I think the far more interesting, under-discussed, and disturbing takeaway is about mutual incomprehensibility. Note that this part is still quite relevant. Even in a democracy where the citizens have a voice – and let’s say that politicians actually listen – the way they explain things will not make sense to outsiders. This limits their ability to counteract a given proposition.

a review of james scott’s seminal seeing like a state – i only found this blog yesterday but i can tell it’s going to be one of my favorites. his writing also reminds me of both scott alexander and the last psychiatrist, if you’re a fan of either (both, i hope!)

misc

  • Rationality: From AI to Zombies – yudkowsky’s sequences, which i haven’t read but may now that this nice site is an option

  • welder – “Welder allows you to set up a Linux server with plain shell scripts.”

  • StatiCrypt – “Based on the crypto-js library, StatiCrypt uses AES-256 to encrypt your string with your passphrase in your browser (client side). Download your encrypted string in a HTML page with a password prompt you can upload anywhere”

  • ゆざめレーベル - yuzame label – a japanese netlabel i’ve just discovered (with free dl’s natch)


link roundup 13

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While any particular variant of implicit or explicit Protestantism has its distinctive theological (or atheological) features, just as any stage of capitalistic industrialization has its concrete characteristics, these serve as distractions more than as hand-holds in the big picture. The only truly big picture is splitting. The Reformation was not only a break, but still more importantly a normalization of breaking, an initially informal, but increasingly rigorized, protocol for social disintegration. The ultimate solution it offered in regard to all social questions was not argumentation, but exit. Chronic fission was installed as the core of historical process. Fundamentally, that is what atomization means.

Protestantism – Real Abstract Protestantism – which is ever more likely to identify itself as post-Christian, post-theistic, and post-Everything Else, is a self-propelling machine for incomprehensibly prolonged social disintegration, and everyone knows it. Atomization has become an autonomous, inhuman agency, or at least, something ever more autonomous, and ever more inhuman. It can only liquidate everything you’ve ever cared about, by its very nature, so – of course – no one likes it. Catholicism, socialism, and nationalism have sought, in succession, coalition, or mutual competition, to rally the shards of violated community against it. The long string of defeat that ensued has been a rich source of cultural and political mythology. Because there is really no choice but to resist, battle has always been rejoined, but without any serious sign of any reversal of fortune.

  • Bugger by Adam Curtis – bbc.co.uk

It is a belief that has been central to much of the journalism about spying and spies over the past fifty years. That the anonymous figures in the intelligence world have a dark omniscience. That they know what’s going on in ways that we don’t.

It doesn’t matter whether you hate the spies and believe they are corroding democracy, or if you think they are the noble guardians of the state. In both cases the assumption is that the secret agents know more than we do.

But the strange fact is that often when you look into the history of spies what you discover is something very different.

It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.

The following sections will describe four macro-trends which, if they continue, may in combination facilitate the emergence of more jihadi activism in Europe some five to fifteen years from now. I identified the trends one by one over the past two years as I conducted my own research and read that of others. It was when I realized there were several of them, and that they combined to a worrying whole that I decided to write this article. The four trends are: 1) a growth in the number of economically underperforming Muslim youth, 2) a growth in the number of veteran activists, 3) persistent armed conflict in the Muslim world, and 4) persistent operational freedom on the Internet.

While the list of trends is inductively generated, its relevance is to some extent theoretically underpinned. The four trends all touch on elements prominent in “resource mobilization” approaches to political activism. Resource mobilization is a perspective from the social movements literature that views surges of activism less as a response to broader socio-political strains and more as a function of the ability of entrepreneurs to craft activist networks and exploit protest technologies.[18] The first of the four trends concerns the availability of recruits; the second affects the number of entrepreneurs available to build networks; the third relates to the availability of political grievances and safe havens outside the West, while the fourth affects operational capacity. In an ideal-type jihadi network-building effort, each of these variables is presumably important: activism requires entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs need manpower; manpower comes more easily with political grievances; and both recruitment and operations are improved by online freedom.

To make all of this worse, down I-91 from my old university, Yale sits on a mountain of money, and yet receives more and more from public funds. The degree to which our government subsidizes the immensely wealthy Ivy League schools defies belief. A report from Open the Books, an organization that works for transparency in government spending, estimates that the federal and state governments spent over $40 billion on the Ivy League schools in tax exemptions, contracts, grants, and direct gifts from 2010 to 2015. The eight Ivy League universities – small, elite institutions from one region of the country that serve a tiny fraction of our college students and who could scarcely need government support less – receive more money annually from the federal government, on average, than 16 states. Four in ten students from the top 0.1% of families by income attend the Ivy League or similarly elite institutions; in 2012, 70% of Yale’s incoming freshmen came from families making more than $120,000; the median family income for Harvard students is triple the national average. The overwhelming majority of these students go on to lives of economic security, and many to the upper echelons of our economy.

Global aridity has increased substantially since the 1970s due to recent drying over Africa, southern Europe, East and South Asia, and eastern Australia. Although El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), tropical Atlantic SSTs, and Asian monsoons have played a large role in the recent drying, recent warming has increased atmospheric moisture demand and likely altered atmospheric circulation patterns, both contributing to the drying. Climate models project increased aridity in the 21st century over most of Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East, most of the Americas, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Regions like the United States have avoided prolonged droughts during the last 50 years due to natural climate variations, but might see persistent droughts in the next 20–50 years. Future efforts to predict drought will depend on models’ ability to predict tropical SSTs.

We’re starting to live in a time when such terrible and wondrous things are not only technically possible but socially acceptable. Headlines were made last month over a fetal lamb being grown in an artificial uterus. The creature, invaded with tubes, suckles and kicks inside its bulging, rippling enclosure. The juxtaposition of twitching organism and sterile, utilitarian plastic is simply cyberpunk. Gender is going the way of that thug’s cartilage-grown face. Male and female is looking more like Coke and Pepsi, with some opting to make their own artisanal cola blends. As rootlessness moves from exception to rule, obligations to others begin to look like hindrances. It isn’t difficult to see how three-parent babies in polycarbonate wombs fit into all of this.

Change is fast these days. We can feel acceleration that was once only perceptible between generations. At the same time, the past is more crystallized than it’s ever been before. Today’s everyman, immersed in a data-sphere orders of magnitude more efficient than any library, can see more clearly than ever that things were different in an ever-familiar past. A world with meaning resolves ever sharper as we speed away from it.

Millions of millennia ago, in our own Milky Way galaxy, but far upstream of where we are today, two neutron stars spiraled around each other, each embodying the mass of a sun but smaller and faster than a speeding planet. Each of these tiny gigaworlds, millions of times denser than our sun, had been produced, not by a mere exploding star, but by a far more powerful supernova. Each supernova, burning a nuclear fire with a far greater power density than a normal star such as our sun, had besides a neutron star also produced a cavalcade of new elements. For elements lighter than iron, this nuclear fusion releases energy; but for elements heavier than iron, including copper, silver, and gold, nuclear fusion requires a net energy input as well as astronomical power densities. Our supernovae were powerful enough to create many metals, including copper and silver, from the fusion of lighter elements. But they were not powerful enough to create gold. Gold awaited the current, far more powerful and rarer event.

Our two stars, fortuitously set into collision course by two separate supernovae, approached each other and then, captured by each others’ gravity, entered a death spiral. They collided in an unimaginable explosion, unleashing a power density far greater than that of a mere supernova and trillions of times greater than if a mere mountain-sized asteroid had hit the earth. The collision was so intense that it created a black hole and a burst of extremely high energy light called gamma rays. Escaping the black hole along with the gamma rays was a spray of new, heavier metals, including gold. This gold-rich cloud in part expanded and in part coalesced, participating in the subsequent formation of new solar systems, including our own. Due to this collision of rare intensity, our unusual solar system was seeded with astronomically rare heavy metals such as gold along with the more common supernova products such as copper and silver.

Based on the results of classical twin studies, it just doesn’t appear that parenting—whether mom and dad are permissive or not, read to their kid or not, or whatever else—impacts development as much as we might like to think. Regarding the cross-validation that I mentioned, studies examining identical twins separated at birth and reared apart have repeatedly revealed (in shocking ways) the same thing: these individuals are remarkably similar when in fact they should be utterly different (they have completely different environments, but the same genes). Alternatively, non-biologically related adopted children (who have no genetic commonalities) raised together are utterly dissimilar to each other—despite in many cases having decades of exposure to the same parents and home environments.

This article challenges the conventional wisdom that cyber operations have limited coercive value. It theorizes that cyber operations contribute to coercion by imposing costs and destabilizing an opponent’s leadership. As costs mount and destabilization spreads, the expected utility of capitulation surpasses that of continued defiance, leading the opponent’s leaders to comply with the coercer’s demands. The article applies this ‘cost-destabilization’ model to the 2014 North Korean cyber operation against Sony. Through cost imposition and leadership destabilization, the North Korean operation, despite its lack of physical destructiveness, caused Sony to make a series of costly decisions to avoid future harm.

Open marriage, on the other hand, is a uniquely modern pathology in that it appeals to those who resent having to conform to a standard but for whom the existential terror of not conforming to any standard is too great. Like so much of our culture—co-working arrangements, the self-help and self-care industries, service apps, etc.—it encourages people to dwell in a state of perpetual adolescence, enjoying all the comforts of the old way of doing things while discarding all of the inconveniences (which are repackaged as, in the trendy, millennial market lingo of Silicon Valley, as “inefficiencies”).

As all the best observers of the human condition from Erich Fromm to Quentin Crisp have noted, one of the most natural of human tendencies is to foist responsibility for your life onto someone else. Economic arguments aside, this is probably the best social or moral critique of traditional marriage. But what is open marriage if not the foisting of responsibility for your life onto someone else while conveniently avoiding your responsibility to them?

(and a cute response…)

The final triumph of modern individualism is an afterlife ensconed in a giant stone structure, carefully segregated from any other souls, based entirely around stuff. No county churchyards here. No slow surrender to nature and the weeds. Just piles of golden goblets and jeweled necklaces, carefully guarded by snake-infested traps. And, of course the bones of dead servants, guaranteed to keep serving you in the great beyond. Of course Heaven is neoliberal. There is no alternative!

misc

  • kbsecret – a password/secret manager using keybase’s kbfs

  • slap – “slap is a Sublime-like terminal-based text editor that strives to make editing from the terminal easier.”

  • OMNI magazine archive – scifi, 1978-1994


uae robocop

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houthi nasheed

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this houthi nasheed is really catchy:

the introduction is pretty funny too (“we will send [the saudis] back to their home in tel aviv!“, lol).

an interesting note is that due to religious prohibitions, sunni nasheeds (eg, isis’ famous theme song) do not use instrumentation, only human voice and reverb. i looked up whether beatboxing was haram, and apparently it is indeed discouraged. shia nasheeds, eg the above, can use instruments. some tend to be sparse, like the percussion in the embedded song, but many of hezbollah’s seem to use full ensembles – though not their most well known.

if you’re interested in nasheeds in jihadi culture, the excellent (though seemingly defunct) podcast jihadology spoke about the topic on their final episode.


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Now we can start to sketch out the theory in full. Due to persecution, Jews were pushed into cognitively-demanding occupations like banker or merchant and forced to sink or swim. The ones who swam – people who were intellectually up to the challenge – had more kids than the ones who sank, producing an evolutionary pressure in favor of intelligence greater than that in any other ethnic group. Just as Africans experiencing evolutionary pressure for malaria resistance developed the sickle cell gene, so Ashkenazim experiencing evolutionary pressure for intelligence developed a bunch of genes which increased heterozygotes’ IQ but caused serious genetic disease in homozygotes. As a result, Ashkenazi ended up somewhat more intelligent – and somewhat more prone to genetic disease – than the rest of the European population.

If true, this would explain the 27% of Nobel Prizes and 50% of world chess champions thing. But one still has to ask – everywhere had Jews. Why Hungary in particular? What was so special about Budapest in the early 1900s?

After Trump’s election, accelerationism seems to be going mainstream among left-progressive political thinkers. The election has ushered in the adoption of this new theoretical stance, and with it has come what I suspect will be a sleeper aesthetic macro trend. This haute baroque capitalism is maximalist, super-ornamental, and takes capital as a first principle.

If I’m right about baroque capitalism, we should be able to find early examples of it wherever else visual culture is highly concentrated. Accepting the aesthetic as a generative and formal expression of capital sheds some retrospective light on the vaporwave phenomenon, which can be seen as a precursor to baroque capitalism. It shares many of the same sensibilities in terms of using physical manifestations of capital as an expressive tool. But vaporwave considered capitalism to be incapable of providing meaning. Vaporwave attempts to show the lifeless, dead shells of consumer “culture” that capital has left behind. Politically, these empty luxury objects and urban spaces aren’t too far off from Gean Moreno’s grey goo critique.

Sarah noted later in the essay, “Sometimes a sacred entity is personified, as with gods or demons or the centers of cults of personality. At other times, the sacred entity is composed only of abstract ideas, refusing to personify itself. Why might it benefit such an entity to hide its nature?”

My guess is that certain egregores — or certain sociocultural interpretative frameworks — tend to lose their potency when the bearers recognize them. When you figure out how they function, you see the way that you’ve acted as a cog in the meaning-making machine, and you’re able to decide whether you still want to serve that role.

For me, the content-versus-process dichotomy worked like that. In the past I’ve held the content stance. More recently I’ve held the process stance. In fact, I still tend to gravitate toward and defend the process crowd by default, despite being aware of the blinding effect of dogged adherence to a single simple framework. But recognizing the structure of both dogmas loosened the hold of the entire duality.

…and a response:

The flaw in the model, as I see it, is that the content side doesn’t just think “it’s okay when we do it.” It would be easier to swallow if that were the going premise, openly admitted. No, it’s that they insist up-and-down that rules are absolutely necessary for everyone. That diversity officers and arbitration committees must be established, with official seals of approval (and handsome paychecks to boot). The net result is that the language of compassion and tolerance can be seamlessly used to paper over destructive and vindictive personal agendas.

None of this is in the rulebook, but it doesn’t have to be. The rulebook is the foot in the door, used to legitimize everything else. It is undoubtedly well intentioned, but it is wide open to abuse, and the 0-day exploits have been in the wild for years. Good intentions are worth nothing when bad actions consistently result.

In the resulting discussions, there’s a particular flip that occurs, too. These problems are denied, at first, up until a plaintiff demonstrates a solid enough case. Then, without skipping a beat, we are told nothing is perfect, and that the alternative would be far worse. The rationale that the ends justify the means only comes into play when pressed. The argument has actually changed completely, but the emotional valence is the same: we’re right, we’re the good guys, and you’re bad for not following along. Cognitive dissonance averted. The resulting radioactive fall-out is fine by them, as long as it’s aimed in the general vicinity of the right group of wrong people.

the whole piece is truly excellent commentary on the current state of (parts of) the net.

This report describes an extensive Russia-linked phishing and disinformation campaign. It provides evidence of how documents stolen from a prominent journalist and critic of Russia was tampered with and then “leaked” to achieve specific propaganda aims. We name this technique “tainted leaks.” The report illustrates how the twin strategies of phishing and tainted leaks are sometimes used in combination to infiltrate civil society targets, and to seed mistrust and disinformation. It also illustrates how domestic considerations, specifically concerns about regime security, can motivate espionage operations, particularly those targeting civil society.

President Trump’s proposed budget, meanwhile, would reduce the National Science Foundation’s spending on so-called intelligent systems by 10 percent, to about $175 million. Research and development in other areas would also be cut, though the proposed budget does call for more spending on defense research and some supercomputing. The cuts would essentially shift more research and development to private American companies like Google and Facebook.

“The previous administration was preparing for a future with artificial intelligence,” said Subbarao Kambhampati, president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial intelligence. “They were talking about increasing basic research for artificial intelligence. Instead of increases, we are now being significantly affected.”

I am fascinated by Tim May’s crypto-anarchy. Unlike the communities traditionally associated with the word “anarchy”, in a crypto-anarchy the government is not temporarily destroyed but permanently forbidden and permanently unnecessary. It’s a community where the threat of violence is impotent because violence is impossible, and violence is impossible because its participants cannot be linked to their true names or physical locations.

as you may have guessed, this essay was influential on the design of bitcoin a decade later.

Every era has its dangerous ideas. For millennia, the monotheistic religions have persecuted countless heresies, together with nuisances from science such as geocentrism, biblical archeology, and the theory of evolution. We can be thankful that the punishments have changed from torture and mutilation to the canceling of grants and the writing of vituperative reviews. But intellectual intimidation, whether by sword or by pen, inevitably shapes the ideas that are taken seriously in a given era, and the rear-view mirror of history presents us with a warning. Time and again people have invested factual claims with ethical implications that today look ludicrous. The fear that the structure of our solar system has grave moral consequences is a venerable example, and the foisting of “Intelligent Design” on biology students is a contemporary one. These travesties should lead us to ask whether the contemporary intellectual mainstream might be entertaining similar moral delusions. Are we liable to be enraged by our own infidels and heretics whom history may some day vindicate?

It’s this sense as I suggested in my recent essay The Apocalypse of the Human: Technicity, Magic, and Integral Reality that we are going through a phase-shift, a temporal short-circuit that is merging and unifying the magical world view of our ancestral pool with the hypertechnification of our contemporary accelerationist investment in NBIC technologies. Things are happening so fast that time is reversing itself and the future is imploding toward us rather than the other way round. We are not moving forward toward the future, but rather the future is moving and imploding onto us at the speed of light. The notion that the apocalypse has already happened is this sense of revelation, of a knowing more than can be known, a gnosis that is sending messages back from the future into our now. Caught between a sort of Philip K. Dick schizo episode of Exegesis and a William Gibson meta-fictional Peripheral we seem to be entering a intermediated realm or twilight zone in which almost anything is possible rather than impossible. Our reality systems are falling apart even as new one’s replace them, forcing us to shift our very notions of the human into realms that have no meaning beyond the nihil.

…and referred above:

At the heart of the Weird Tale (think of H.P. Lovecraft!) is this keen sense of contact between incommensurable worlds. The notion that one comes up against something that one can neither explain (Explanandum and Explanans) or interpret (reduce to human meaning). As Hempel and Oppenheim would explain it: “It may be said… that an explanation is not fully adequate unless its explanans, if taken account of in time, could have served as a basis for predicting the phenomenon under consideration…. It is this potential predictive force which gives scientific explanation its importance: Only to the extent that we are able to explain empirical facts can we attain the major objective of scientific research, namely not merely to record the phenomena of our experience, but to learn from them, by basing upon them theoretical generalizations which enable us to anticipate new occurrences and to control, at least to some extent, the changes in our environment”.2

It’s in this sense that we are losing control over our reality systems, our sciences are hedging their bets, and the predictive force of the sciences are coming up against the incommensurable. Over and over I’ve related this to R. Scott Bakker’s notion of ‘medial neglect’: the notion that our brains through a long emergence in the evolutionary process were fitted (adapted) to the natural environment for purposes of survival and propagation. But that with the emergence of agricultural civilization our submergence in the natural world was short-circuited, and we began a process of abstraction – a cutting away from our natural environmental constraints through a process of artificial construction of abstract environments. In our latest phase we’ve displaced the natural for the artificial to the point we are entering what Scott terms a ‘crash space’ beyond which our human modes of explanda and meaning are forever lost and cannot be bridged, ever.

this blog is one of my favorites. and, since he links it above, and i find myself reading it again, an r scott bakker essay from last year:

And this is basically the foundational premise of the Semantic Apocalypse: intentional cognition, as a radically specialized system, is especially vulnerable to both crashing and cheating. The very power of our sociocognitive systems is what makes them so liable to be duped (think religious anthropomorphism), as well as so easy to dupe. When Sherry Turkle, for instance, bemoans the ease with which various human-computer interfaces, or ‘HCIs,’ push our ‘Darwinian buttons’ she is talking about the vulnerability of sociocognitive cues to various cheats (but since she, like Barrett, lacks any theory of meaning, she finds herself in similar explanatory straits). In a variety of experimental contexts, for instance, people have been found to trust artificial interlocutors over human ones. Simple tweaks in the voices and appearance of HCIs have a dramatic impact on our perceptions of those encounters—we are in fact easily manipulated, cued to draw erroneous conclusions, given what are quite literally cartoonish stimuli. So the so-called ‘internet of things,’ the distribution of intelligence throughout our artifactual ecologies, takes on a far more sinister cast when viewed through the lens of human sociocognitive specialization. Populating our ecologies with gadgets designed to cue our sociocognitive capacities ‘out of school’ will only degrade the overall utility of those capacities. Since those capacities underwrite what we call meaning or ‘intentionality,’ the collapse of our ancestral sociocognitive ecologies signals the ‘death of meaning.’


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link roundup 11

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In socio-historical terms, the line of deterritorialization corresponds to uncompensated capitalism. The basic – and, of course, to some real highly consequential degree actually installed – schema is a positive feedback circuit, within which commercialization and industrialization mutually excite each other in a runaway process, from which modernity draws its gradient. Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche were among those to capture important aspects of the trend. As the circuit is incrementally closed, or intensified, it exhibits ever greater autonomy, or automation. It becomes more tightly auto-productive (which is only what ‘positive feedback’ already says). Because it appeals to nothing beyond itself, it is inherently nihilistic. It has no conceivable meaning beside self-amplification. It grows in order to grow. Mankind is its temporary host, not its master. Its only purpose is itself.

Much of the contemporary discourse on the question of automation assumes, intentionally or not, a basically Hobbesian perspective. Machinery is subsumed as part of the perpetually urgent ‘maintenance and motion’ of the state. Machines today are used to carry out war, to conduct surveillance internal and external, to abet industry, produce manufactures. They are inextricable from the modern regimes identified by Foucault, himself drawing on Hobbes, of territory, population, security. Mass production, mass politics, mass government—crossing and interpenetrating the state, they are radically interlinked. Wherever industrial revolution takes place, an enormous expansion of the capacity, the power, and the reach of the state, or more fundamentally of politics, seems to follow in its wake. This was the reality of machine massification and escalating cybernetic interconnection that Carl Schmitt called ‘total technology’, worrying that it would ‘quantitatively’ destroy the distinctive character of the political by infecting all the spheres of human life with politics while forcing a disastrous invasion of the political itself by the economic and social considerations of the machine. It was also the realisation that drove Japanese intellectuals in the 1930s, for instance, to reformulate Japanese imperialism on a mass plane, with Kanji Ishiwara perceiving in this technoindustrial process a geometric transformation of war from the pursuit of elite aspirations to an impending ‘final war’ that would volumetrically involve and engulf the entirety of society, and not just society, but the very territory—‘rivers and trees’—itself.

Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

But there was no disagreement about the damage. From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.

[related reading from last week – How to Spot a Spook & Leopard Spotted]

So what does ‘white left’ mean in the Chinese context, and what’s behind the rise of its (negative) popularity? It might not be an easy task to define the term, for as a social media buzzword and very often an instrument for ad hominem attack, it could mean different things for different people. A thread on “why well-educated elites in the west are seen as naïve “white left” in China” on Zhihu, a question-and-answer website said to have a high percentage of active users who are professionals and intellectuals, might serve as a starting point.

The question has received more than 400 answers from Zhihu users, which include some of the most representative perceptions of the ‘white left’. Although the emphasis varies, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.

The woke world is a world of snitches, informants, rats. Go to any space concerned with social justice and what will you find? Endless surveillance. Everybody is to be judged. Everyone is under suspicion. Everything you say is to be scoured, picked over, analyzed for any possible offense. Everyone’s a detective in the Division of Problematics, and they walk the beat 247. You search and search for someone Bad doing Bad Things, finding ways to indict writers and artists and ordinary people for something, anything. That movie that got popular? Give me a few hours and 800 words. I’ll get you your indictments. That’s what liberalism is, now — the search for baddies doing bad things, like little offense archaeologists, digging deeper and deeper to find out who’s Good and who’s Bad. I wonder why people run away from establishment progressivism in droves.

But the arithmetic is not difficult: Poland and Hungary and Slovakia do not have Islamic terrorism because they have very little Islam. France and Germany and Belgium admit more and more Islam, and thus more and more terrorism. Yet the subject of immigration has been all but entirely absent from the current UK election campaign. Thirty years ago, in the interests of stopping IRA terrorism, the British state was not above preventing the internal movement within its borders of unconvicted, uncharged, unarrested Republican sympathizers seeking to take a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool. Today it declares it can do nothing to prevent the movement of large numbers of the Muslim world from thousands of miles away to the heart of the United Kingdom. It’s just a fact of life - like being blown up when you go to a pop concert.

All of us have gotten things wrong since 911. But few of us have gotten things as disastrously wrong as May and Merkel and Hollande and an entire generation of European political leaders who insist that remorseless incremental Islamization is both unstoppable and manageable. It is neither - and, for the sake of the dead of last night’s carnage and for those of the next one, it is necessary to face that honestly. Theresa May’s statement in Downing Street is said by my old friends at The Spectator to be “defiant”, but what she is defying is not terrorism but reality. So too for all the exhausted accessories of defiance chic: candles, teddy bears, hashtags, the pitiful passive rote gestures that acknowledge atrocity without addressing it - like the Eloi in H G Wells’ Time Machine, too evolved to resist the Morlocks.

Macroscopic cortical networks are important for cognitive function, but it remains challenging to construct anatomically plausible individual structural connectomes from human neuroimaging. We introduce a new technique for cortical network mapping, based on inter-regional similarity of multiple morphometric parameters measured using multimodal MRI. In three cohorts (two human, one macaque), we find that the resulting morphometric similarity networks (MSNs) have a complex topological organisation comprising modules and high-degree hubs. Human MSN modules recapitulate known cortical cytoarchitectonic divisions, and greater inter-regional morphometric similarity was associated with stronger inter-regional co-expression of genes enriched for neuronal terms. Comparing macaque MSNs to tract-tracing data confirmed that morphometric similarity was related to axonal connectivity. Finally, variation in the degree of human MSN nodes accounted for about 40% of between-subject variability in IQ.[!] Morphometric similarity mapping provides a novel, robust and biologically plausible approach to understanding how human cortical networks underpin individual differences in psychological functions.

A young woman who had been working as a teacher in Morocco gave one of these presentations. Surprised to discover that many of her students harbored romanticized views of the United States, she resolved to inculcate a much darker—and, she believed, more accurate—picture, emphasizing racism and anti-Muslim bigotry. This campaign was so dispiriting to the students that her Moroccan fellow teachers pleaded with her to relent; one bluntly told her: “You’re destroying their dreams.” But she doubled down. Even a student’s comment that “Mark Twain was a great American writer” occasioned a rebuttal. From Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, a cranky, satirical travel book, she read a passage that Moroccans would find unflattering. “You see,” she reported telling the class, “Mark Twain hates you.” The one bright spot in American history seemed to be the election of Barack Obama who had, however, ordered drone strikes to “kill people that look like you.”

This grantee acted less like her country’s ambassador than her country’s prosecuting attorney. And she was pleased to report that, by the end of the barrage, her students no longer viewed America the same way. Distressingly, the audience of several dozen Fulbright grantees and administrators, who represent a diverse cross-section of the most educated Americans, failed to express outrage at this betrayal. Perhaps this was from a desire to avoid confrontation, but I think something else was at work. Fulbright applicants tend to be “globally-minded” liberals who are eager to distinguish themselves from the flag-waving rubes. This implies an ability to see your country at a cool distance. Condemning America demonstrates a transcendence of parochial loyalty. Hostility may not be objectivity, but it certainly isn’t slavish devotion, and that’s the main thing.

Ghost in the Shell takes place in the year 2029, when the world has become interconnected by a vast electronic network that permeates every aspect of life. People also tend to rely more and more on cybernetic implants, and the first strong AI’s make their appearance. The main entity presented in the various media is the Public Security Section 9 police force, which is charged to investigate cases like the Puppet Master and the Laughing Man. However, as the criminals are revealed to have more depth than was at first apparent, the various protagonists are left with disturbing questions: “What exactly is the definition of ‘human’ in a society where a mind can be copied and the body replaced with a synthetic form?”, “What exactly is the ‘ghost’—the human soul—in the cybernetic body, or ‘shell’?”, and “Where is the boundary between human and machine when the differences between the two become more philosophical than physical?”

It’s perhaps how you’d do computing in a post-singularity world, where computational speed and bandwidth are infinite, and what’s valuable is security, trust, creativity, and collaboration. It’s essentially a combination of a programming language, OS, virtual machine, social network, and digital identity platform.

The basic concept is that Urbit is a global computer combined with a global filesystem. Each physical hardware component on the network is represented as a ‘ship’. These ships range from carriers (the largest, only 256 in existence) down to submarines (the smallest, effectively infinite). Ships are used to run computation locally, and to send and receive encrypted messages with other ships.

note that the boat metaphors (besides ‘ship’) are deprecated; and some more of the thinking behind urbit:

In other words, feudal search posits a content namespace which, because ranked feudally, is a much more desirable neighborhood than the Internet. At least, if you don’t want to wallow in the slums, you don’t have to. You will not turn the digital corner and find yourself in a digital favela. Eventually, all desirable content will move out of the anarchic slums and into this new, happy gated community. And junkies will be shooting up in the old Google building.

A feudal search engine (Feudle, perhaps) separates the task of reputation assignment into two levels. Feudle assigns reputation not to pages, but to communities - a much smaller task. For pages within a community, it defers strictly to the community’s own reputation system, connecting directly to it with an actual, standard API.

Thus we have two reputation values, perhaps on the unit interval, which multiplied produce another unit - global reputation. More generally, every search engine assigns every community a reputation transform, effectively grading its grades.

Thus, as a user, my map of global reputation gives high ratings to high-reputation pages at high-reputation communities, medium ratings to high-reputation pages at low-reputation communities, etc. Doesn’t it seem to you that this makes sense?

misc

  • Kryptonite – store your ssh key on your phone, unlock it to authenticate; the key never leaves your phone! on an iphone, this is obviously much more secure than a pc in most cases. i’m really loving it.

  • Yubikey for LUKS

This enables you to use the yubikey as 2FA for LUKS. The Password you enter is used as challenge for the yubikey

The keyscript allows to boot the machine with either the password and the Yubikey or with a normal password from any key slot.