Hmm.. Kind of an end of year executive summary. It's hard to know where to go from here. Worth noting that I'm not dead I suppose. I think I will dub 2018 "The Year of Nihilism" because that more than anything has characterized my experience this cycle. The world seems even more insane than usual, which is no easy feat. Alternately my consciousness has increased, allowing me to observe more clearly the fullness of reality which is inherently wacko.
Yes I much prefer the perspective that most people simply don't grasp how truly deranged the world actually is. That's a lot more comforting than this idea that things are getting progressively worse. But all that means very little, as the bedrock of existence depends on everything that is counterpoint to entropy. Pigs are not flying, the seas have not turned to blood, yet.
Epiphanies have been too numerous and complex to document, yet they make nary a dent in the edifice of insouciance and stupidity that shields us all from certain death. Hmm. For me nihilism is like an immune response to shock but it never penetrates to the core, because you have to go on living to entertain such fantasies and nihilism is incompatible with life. I only mention all this to derail all my previous thoughts on the topic.
Given that there are any number of far more interesting things I could be writing about, and yet I choose this dreck. Stability is so precious, equilibrium the greatest treasure, homeostasis the very rapture. The greatest mysteries have no answers, and therefore there is nothing to write about them. The city-planet languishes, my half-built skyscraper decommissioned before it is even finished. As the ecosystem is turned to lifeless numbers which are then used to launch sociopaths to the moon.
Even absurdism cannot cope with the audacity of this spectacle. Periodic erasures make a lot more sense to me now. The brain implodes and is rebuilt, species go extinct and are then reborn. Perhaps it's a better model than plowing fecklessly ever "forward". History, who needs it? Not cowards. How often do we look back and not recognize the people that we were? I feel like I've spent a lifetime despising who I was, and then failing to transform.
Overbearing judgment stems from self-loathing, a zero-sum game if ever there were. Blessed are those who can just live and let live. But sometimes living means killing, so that's bullshit too. And you expect people of average intelligence to navigate this? And yet some do, far better than I. Of course it helps when you're not a head-case overstuffed with misconceptions.
I had one major accomplishment this year, I wrote a single story that is 80,000 words long, this is also known as a "novel", but I won't call it that since it's not professionally edited, encapsulated or in print. In fact it's as unpublishable as it is taboo. I guess in one sense it's edifying to presume that I'm defying the prime directive of a society determined to monetize and sanitize everything; even as it is ironically being monetized by a third party.
You probably can't imagine what it's like, the internal conflict with the eternal seduction attempts of capitalism, and the cognition of how easy it seems projected over how difficult it actually is. Even language has been bent to economic whims, when we say "Successful" it is implied that one is affluent and good at business. If you are a 'successful' writer you are making money. Popularity automatically equates to wealth, it's a given, no one questions it. In fact you can't escape it.
That's the extent of predation in modern economics. If you're capable of garnering enough attention (positive or negative), people will find a way to monetize you (with or without your consent). It is assumed that you will naturally benefit somehow from this arrangement, if you're not a hustler then via some kind of unspecified 'trickle down' bullshit. Subtext: you are either your own whore or the property of a pimp.
Heaven forbid you aren't interested in making money, you might as well be an alien life form. Even though in the real world money only enters into human affairs when and where consumerism and capitalism can forcefully interject it. Yeah that's right, I said it: money is the equivalent of fake tits.
Give and take is still real though. I leased someone my story in exchange for feedback, I knew it would be monetized and that I wouldn't see a penny. Since I didn't want a penny it was not really what you would call a compromise. But that's the analogue of my business sense: money is a bother and I'd much rather focus on what interests me. Which is really an oversimplification of: making money efficiently is actually super-hard, so hard in fact that it very rarely pays off.
Most of the opportunities for making money in real life are not legitimate in terms of a physical transaction. This is probably the biggest secret in the modern world. Salaries are very arbitrary, this is primarily because the whole system is a huge scam that no one fully understands. When you have a job, do work and get paid, that money represents a set of arbitrary rules that are all based around "good faith" and "common sense", but defy these values at every turn.
Even when science is involved it's inadequate because in order to ascribe value to things (whatever they may be) one is required to understand not only the objective value of everything in the known universe but also the innumerable relationships and interdependencies between all those things. And that does not even touch the surface of the subjective value of jobs which are even more tenuous.
Some people are intuitively good at gaming the system. I'm not discounting 'hard work', but rather pointing out that there are plenty of people who work very hard and still fail. Hard work is just one element in a much larger equation. There are also plenty of people who don't work hard at all and still succeed. Pretending these people don't exist would be very convenient, but disingenuous.
Gaming the system involves a certain level of intrinsic compatibility, you also have to want to play the game. But all this shit "just is", none of it is decided upon or under our control. A system of arbitrary rewards and punishments that doesn't really work and that we can't escape. And if you're on top you're still a fly stuck in the spider's web, just a slightly more mobile one.
Helplessness is the leading cause of depression, and this handily explains why so many people are depressed. Aside from those of us who come by it honestly thanks to inborn mental illness. But if you'll remember from an earlier paragraph I mentioned how money is fake tits. Maybe we all need to get fake tits, but there are big tits and small tits. You can at least choose how big your fake tits are.
In a way I guess my prophecy did come true, a world has partially ended thanks to insanity. At the end of the day there are some things you just can't overlook. That is the "price" that we pay to maintain the status quo. Is it worth it? For me it never has been, I don't want to play the game, I don't want to pretend that any of this makes sense. I know yet another appeal doesn't help or change things, but the alternative is worse.
So this is basically my 'new year's resolution', to do whatever I conceivably can to facilitate this kind of environment on a global level: "Slowly making it impossible and unsustainable for anyone to wield power." via @rechelon. We have witnessed in every time period, changes to civilization that have created new dynamics that literally force billions of people to behave in a very specific way. These are often behaviors that run counter to instinct, counter to common sense, counter to morality & ethics. And yet people are still compelled to perform them daily, with the alternative being disadvantage, ostracization or even death.
Intuitively it should also be possible to introduce similar shifts that do the opposite: that enforce instinct, common sense, morality & ethics. Although this is complicated by the ultimate subjectivity of these ideas. They are educated guesses at best, but it's very worth noting that so far in our social evolution everything has been a guessing game, and more often than not there has been no guessing at all, just pure unbridled randomness. Ideas turn into action and then actions turn into enduring feedback loops that trap people for centuries in modes they never asked for, never wanted and are made miserable by. Attempting to do this on purpose is almost certainly better than on accident.
The fundamental reasoning behind this is derived from the ongoing analysis of preexisting power structures, noting that they do far more damage than good in the world. If we were to hypothetically remove humanity's capacity to wield power we would in effect negate the vast majority of bad and destructive activities humans enact upon the world and each other. While the sliver of good and constructive activities would be minorly impacted, even if completely halted, in the absence of the overwhelming oppression of evil they would perceptibly have a far greater impact.
It's definitely worth going over this in another way: people often advocate for actively 'saving the world' or doing X to fix Y. This requires that human energy be invested in counteracting a preexisting problem. This is totally backwards thinking however. The reason the world needs saving is because of ongoing activities that are causing harm. By simply ceasing these activities we 'save the world' without having to do anything. In fact we are deliberately stopping ourselves from doing something. Stop doing X to fix Y. Saving the world is a simple matter of stopping our daily routine of destroying it.
The example above is just a metaphor, or an improved way of looking at many diverse and complicated scenarios. The essence is: stop trying to frantically fix things you think are broken, instead look at what you are already doing and try to determine if it is making things worse. You would be far better off reducing unconscious harm than putting effort into mitigating its effects. As long as the source continues to create damage, you will never overcome it.
Coming at this from yet a third direction: externally the landscape is comprised of various groups of people all working against each other. The activities of all of them are making things worse even though they may not realize it. Opposing evil legitimizes and empowers it and we must utilize evil to fight evil, and this rout is always taken because the forces of good are unwilling to give up their own power. Meanwhile good is capable of doing just as much harm as evil because it too is capable of extreme influence. At any moment things can go awry, power can get out of control and do incalculable damage.
The only logical outcome is to take away all the power from everybody. Make it so no one can do good or evil at such a scale that it transforms the entire world. This is the very problem: that we do actually have the ability to change the world, to save it or to destroy it; that is just too much power for any one organism. I believe we have an ethical obligation to make a global change at the lowest possible level: introduce organic systems into society that by their very nature reduce our capacity as a species to wield power. This systemic throttling should probably occur recursively until civilization deconstructs itself to the degree that it is no longer capable of significant harm.
The whole premise is guided by a secondary ethical concern: any sweeping change that impacts all people on earth is likely to have mass casualties. The number of casualties is directly proportional to the speed at which the change occurs. Slow organic change is critical. Inherently selfish acts have guided the human race up to this point, this I believe is a fatal weakness that can be exploited, a system that is not selfish yet preys upon selfish impulses has the potential to overwrite any system currently in use.
My thesis is this: selfless systems are in fact superior to selfish systems, they are more efficient, more prolific, and currently underpin every organism on earth. Nature is a selfless system, and through giving everything has arisen. Taking is also natural, what has derailed us is taking without giving. Alternately taking good and giving evil in return while thinking it is good. Knowing what is good and what is evil is not the strong suit of humanity. The definition too often depends on selfish motives. Because we are always reliant on this guessing game, it is once again clear what would improve the situation: guessing is fine as long as it does not result in action, without power there can be no action.
Is it possible to utilize a massively destructive machine to slowly and deliberately take itself apart, hurting as few people as possible? I believe it is and I have written a technical draft that may enable it. The basis of modern power is: economic, martial, infrastructure, information, legal-political, & social-sexual. These are listed in their order of influence and capacity to wield power. If we can change the way money works the entire pyramid begins to transform.
Money in its current form is designed to concentrate and centralize all other forms of power. Hypothetically if money were removed from the equation, martial power would fill the vacuum, a feudal system, warlords would control infrastructure, controlling information, which controls legal-political, in turn controlling social-sexual. If money and martial forces were removed; information rises to power, an intellectual system, legal-political still controlling social-sexual. Removing money, martial and information; infrastructure rules, while legal-political and social-sexual essentially merge and we return to a primitive society. Take away infrastructure and legal-political leaving only social-sexual and nothing is left but a bunch of wild animals.
Things turn into a really fun game of Jenga when you take elements out of order. The truth is that all these elements came in at different times and then over time established a balance. Many that started out powerless become dominant and many that were initially dominant became powerless. Money for example is now the most powerful force in the entire world so any change to money changes the balance of power among all the other elements. While information is now in the middle and is far weaker than it was even forty years ago, you can change it dramatically with very little impact. These positions are amplified by their hierarchy, so money and social-sexual are the least effected by changes in information.
economic (money, banks, assets, etc.)
martial (soldiers, law-enforcement, weapons)
infrastructure (structures, utilities, institutions, industry i.e. corporations, multinationals)
information (records, archives, education, multimedia, & the flow of)
legal-political (law, policy, courts & government)
social-sexual (all the interpersonal BS, reproduction, family)
So this is how my workflow works. In one of the local thrift stores a couple of weeks ago and I notice of all things they have a Netgear GS110TP ProSAFE 8-Port Gigabit Smart Switch with PoE and 2 fiber SFP ports, in perfect condition, for $2. I think about 8 years ago I bought a Netgear 8 port gigabit switch, it was over $200 (GS110TP is about $200 even now), but that was bleeding edge at the time. Needless to say I was thrilled to find the industrial strength version of what I already have practically for free. Only downside was that the power supply was missing. Interestingly enough you need a really esoteric PSU for POE (Power Over Ethernet) switches. 48 Volts DC. Not too hard to find, but about $20. Anyway got one of those and it works just fine.
Curiously, the previous owner of the switch had overwritten the firmware with a customized version that included a non-standard password. So even after a factory reset I could not unlock everything. Thankfully Netgear has amazing documentation online and it only took me about twenty minutes to figure out how to manually overwrite the firmware, which I upgraded to the latest version in the process. Then it was a simple matter of using the default password to login and change whatever I wanted. This is all just preamble however.
I'm only recounting all this because it was my introduction to POE. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I had no idea it existed previously, despite having knowledge of EOP and having designed a networking spec. (Omnilink) that included POE. Honestly my mind was blown. POE is pretty much the coolest networking idea since Fiber, and as you would expect from something revolutionary and awesome, the general public knows almost nothing about it.
The concept is so simple and elegant that it seems inevitable: imagine you could connect any device to your network, no matter how complex or simple; now imagine you did not need a separate power supply for that device. One cable provides power & networking, a cable that you already have, Ethernet! The most common current usage is security cameras, however the potential goes way beyond that. The latest specs for POE provide enough juice to run entire computers, smart displays, lighting, etc.
The coolest and most understated part of the spec though is Smart Power: the switch doesn't just manage data, it manages electricity! When you connect a device the switch sends a signal to it and then depending on the response it will enable the appropriate level of power. Although for me that's good and bad because I wanted to tap into that power indiscriminately, a feat only possible with passive POE. Switched power, i.e. active POE is basically inaccessible unless you connect a 'smart' device to the other end.
Conveniently there are plenty of white papers online describing what is needed to tap into active POE, I just lack the knowledge base to DIY it... safely. There are of course off-the-shelf taps that include all the necessary hardware. And this brings me to the crux of the whole post. If there is a unifying theme it is a more thoughtful analysis of the term/prefix "Smart", which is truly a double-edged sword. I think it's almost universally true that the smarter the infrastructure the less accessible it becomes. In this sense perhaps "Smart" is just code for "Discriminatory". It is also true that Smarter often equals Safer.
If "Dumb" power is an electrical socket then we can deduce that anyone can just come along and tap into it, but this ease of use also means that a curious baby with a suitably sized metal object can get electrocuted. Inversely, even a fairly intelligent and determined person cannot easily extract raw power from a POE switch. The idiot baby is safe, but the innovator is also somewhat undermined. The opportunity cost is real, and we have to ask ourselves 'is it really worth it?'. Although the intelligence of POE is born of necessity rather than extravagance. Most Ethernet devices are not designed to accept POE, so they need to be actively protected, in this case discrimination is essential.
Still we must go deeper. So perhaps you're thinking by this point: how does one safely extract power from a smart POE switch without relying on a sophisticated black box of some sort? This is like asking: is there a way to make "Smart" "Dumb" without having to be too smart? Technically Dumbing it Down. This is where my journey started on this project. Initially I came at it from the opposite direction. I was not opposed to spending $30 for a small black box that could do everything for me, no questions asked. But then I got to thinking about how I don't really know anything about electronics.
This may come as a surprise, but I'm shocking ignorant on this subject. My dad taught me basic circuitry when I was a child, then I taught myself how to do a few more things. I took a college level electronics class in my early teens, I took a trade-level introductory ROP course in High School. But I honestly had no idea what I was doing. As with most things, I relied entirely on my abilities as an idiot savant to get things right without really understanding what I was doing. I'd preferred this method in the past for two reasons: it favored my inherent laziness and I often made breakthroughs because I was ignorant.
You see we have a real problem with institutionalization in our world. Limited knowledge gives rise to industry and industry quickly becomes indoctrination. Just as smart technology discriminates among users and their devices, the intellectual establishment becomes myopic and stagnates in the security of its power. Because of this phenomenon it is often the result that smart people do very dumb things, and what's worse, they do not learn from these mistakes, but rather believe them to be wise and unquestionable. This is a special kind of next-level ignorance, a hubris born of accomplishment rather than failure. And yet it is failure that teaches us the most. When we have stopped acknowledging failure or even being aware of it, then we have truly failed.
On the other hand, science is real. And even if we're wrong about a lot of things, the potentially subjective knowledge that we have established about a lot of things can be used to get predictable results. Up to this point in my life I have used what I consider to be "First Principles" for my electronic projects. Better said: if all the knowledge we think we know is wrong, what can I still accomplish purely by combining primal components until the desired result is achieved? At some point though, this ceases to be enough for me.
Most recently as I have become more holistically aware of what modern living means in relation to the ecosystem; I have begun to question so much more than ever before. This makes one painfully aware of the reality of our world: that the human way of thinking and operating is basically the polar opposite of first principles. Instead of reducing complexity we increase it exponentially. Instead of critical thinking we engender secrecy and obfuscation. It's not that people question less by nature, it is that they are discouraged from doing so while simultaneously being drawn deeper and deeper into an ever evolving enigma.
It no longer becomes an issue of exploration and discovery because the simple fact is that complexity has increased to such a staggering degree that a single mind is incapable of containing all the knowledge necessary to conceptualize even basic things. The initial state is being utterly lost, and then as you begin the arduous task of defining the essence, the web of contingency becomes apparent; then you are not looking at one mystery but infinite mysteries. You could spend your whole life just trying to unravel one, but you will never fully know it, because it is already the product of other contrivances. There is not foundation, no lowest level, it's a big circle or sphere without origin or exit.
Studying semiconductors leads to physics, then to chemistry, but it's all theoretical anyway. You can't see an atom with the naked eye, what is an electron really? Still right in front of you is that transistor; the foundation of modern technology, and no amount of deconstruction or analysis will bridge the divide between what you think is happening and what is actually happening. But to an electrical engineer, to a physicist, to a chemist; it's all foregone. They too, just like everyone have come to accept the practical applications preclude any enduring mysteries. And everyone in the end labors in ignorance, working with what they do not understand to accomplish dubious objectives.
Our world is 99% miracles, strangers that we think we know. Aliens living right in our midst. That plastic packaging you just threw away like it was nothing is the culmination of billions of years of subatomic machinations. Even Nihilists struggle to find a lack of meaning in this cavernous void of unconsciousness.
Well the world didn't end last year in-line with the neotoy canon, so I'm not going to do the typical cult leader type thing and double down. Although I will point out that my 2017 predictions did have a few big wins, surprisingly they were real long-shots. Still nothing was 100%, and thankfully I'm glad, they were almost uniformly horrible. If I do any predictions in the future, I'll probably take them less seriously.
It's a new year & that means a new look, or at least it does this year. I came up with a little rule for web dev a few years ago: every year shrink your code base by 10%. This forces you to optimize and cut the dead wood. It also forces you to learn newer and often better ways to do things. Ironically this can sometimes also mean using depreciated code from the golden age of the web. Center tags are still just faster and more effective than CSS!
I'm pleased to say that this year I've cut the code by about 40%, so it's faster than ever. I also got rid of a bunch of bleeding-edge features I was trialing. Going back to the basics never felt so good. About the background color: black is better: Easier on the eyes, especially at night, while still having superior daylight legibility. The lone button at the top of the page can randomize the text color, if you find the gray unpleasant or boring.
Otherwise I can't say there's a lot of stuff going on around here. Even in the domain of more practical affairs I've slowed down quite a bit. The most interesting things I've been doing are pretty far out of the range of this place. Seed saving, learning how to make cob bricks, gradually becoming vegetarian. That's the kind of thing that has been thrilling me lately. It's a big ol' fuckin' world out there, turn your head for a second and you disappear into its scope and vastness.
Is there anything on the horizon? And what about neotoy? Grant got renewed so looks like I have another two years or so to get my shit together. Honestly I feel pretty powerfully derailed by my sex drive, it's a real double-edged sword because on one hand it's a boundless source of energy but on the other it really limits your potential for self-expression. It truly has a warping influence that tends to bend everything towards sexual gratification, and often that mentality is just puerile mediocrity.
The gravity of the feminine is greater than Earth, greater than the sun. I just let myself fall in, and there's nothing else. What could be better? I'm an animal, home at last. The mind opening like a flower, sprouting third-eyes like countless stamens, peering into the deepest mysteries of the universe. The truth is there for all to see, it's plain why the power is so great, an elegance and simplicity simply unparalleled, a singularity. But like all things it cannot last forever.
So what do you do in the time between? My nihilism flares up, in the cold dark little room apart from that furnace of creation, all you want is to go back into the light. And that's all I've been doing. Or so it seems. The truth is that it's technically impossible to devote yourself to a singular mode. Almost on accident I find myself doing other things, boring, dumb, pointless things. I can't help it. So if there is a horizon and something on it, that is where it lives in that liminal zone.
Scale, the "problem" of the age, permeating every layer of reality, but crippling and terminating economics, politics & civilization most notably. So there is no reason to build any kind of system that does not specifically attempt to limit and compartmentalize (modularize) scale BY DESIGN. This characteristic must be intrinsic, systemic, fractal and most importantly contingent on use: e.g. the action of use of the system, no matter how small, must engender, empower, activate and perpetuate this limit.
The more of something you try to have, the less you should actually be able to have. Billionaires, millionaires, should not be possible. This is a show-stopping dysfunction of the currency system. Critical mass is a terminal flaw that signals failure of any system that exhibits it.
So that's the preamble, but what about the solution? Blockchains & bitcoin have done a great job of establishing a conceptual model for a system that cannot be controlled by any type of central authority. Before bitcoin there was BitTorrent, another great example, and before that to some extent TCP/IP. But these protocols all also suffer from a terminal flaw that is inherited from historical models of the ancient world, these in turn are derived from linear mathematics. There is this cancerous viral idea that 1+1=2 and it has reigned supreme for tens of thousands of years, but it has always done humanity an unparalleled disservice: it implies, without exception, that in order for there to be 2 accumulated in a pile that 1 and 1 have to be extracted from some external source. Therefore what masquerades as additive is in fact reductive: impoverishing the world in order to enrich and concentrate "value" in self-annihilating piles.
Let's set aside for a moment the very real possibility that this is a purely physical phenomenon (as opposed to a psychological one), let's also set aside the possibility that psychological phenomenon are also deterministically the result of physics. The bottom line is that it's not enough to fall into the anthropocentric way of thinking and focus on resilience only because conceptually cancer is resilient, that does not make it "good". Things like currency have proven time and time again to be anti-human, destroying the ecosystem, destroying civilization, destroying people, the fact that it is a resilient system does not make it good or ideal in any way. Utility has a way of blinding us to these types of facts.
So we return to the primal math problem, it's numbers themselves that need to be personalized and deconstructed. 1 cannot be 1 because it is not 1 it is an abstraction, a virtual representation of a thing which is not a number, a thing that is connected to infinity, irreducible, indefinable. The representation of things needs to be rewritten in order to include this complexity, this ineffability. In civilization we have this deadly problem of centralization and concentration which is the product almost exclusively of scale, it is a PROBLEM of scale. Without a million people there can be no millionaires, furthermore without a million people there can be no money that has any meaning at scale.
It becomes necessary to build rewards into the system of exchange that directly counter and neutralized these prevailing currents and tendencies to centralize and concentrate and increase scale exponentially. But this cannot be an abstract relationship or a virtual one, it must be intrinsic, in essence the very existence of the system of exchange must depend upon it. Likewise it's not acceptable to create an oppositional system that is hellbent on expunging value or distributing and dispersing value. The key is in finding the balance, the fulcrum, the protocol should be called Fulcrum. But this "balance" or more appropriately "equilibrium" must also be intrinsic, this is to say that it is both built (constructed) and established (reinforced) by each transaction.
The process has three parts: 1 multiply (take initial value and somehow turn it into more 'units' while retaining a deterministic portion, black, white & gray beads?), 2 allocate (take the free 'copies' and send them where they can do the most 'good', black +, white -, gray ~), 3 balance (black and white cancel out, grays remain), this accounting is logged in a ledger like the blockchain but it must use some kind of cryptography that morphs over time. The objective cannot be accumulation, so there must be some reward for dissemination, BUT it must be an incidental reward that occurs as a result of activity, e.g. network participation. The act of building the network is what generates value and rewards.
Conceptual model: an "object" which is a number is subjected to the algorithm: this results in a "deconstruction" and the object is reduced to black, white and gray "beads" in various deterministic quantities. The gray beads are kept in the "savings" while the black and white beads are "disseminated" automatically throughout the network. Gray beads can always be reduced to a single black and white bead (cost 1 black bead), or alternately a single black and white bead can be combined into a gray bead (cost 1 white bead). Transactions take place as a single process but result in gray, black and white beads being "sent" so the result is not always what was intended depending on what type of bead is desired by the recipient; but this is determined by the NETWORK, and it is automatically BALANCING as it combines and reduces beads.