Monday, November 26, 2012

A New Religion

Dear John,

I couldn't tell if you were serious or not, but since I was, I figured I'd continue the thought here. That way I don't clutter up your space.

Of course the pigmen should be run through and put on the spit, so I'll continue the thought in that vein.

Morality has a time component. If you're hunting rabbits in the forest to eat, and being hunted by bears, you probably have a limited time frame for not destroying the world, what with self-preservation and all.

If you're a poor subsistence farmer in China, or an impoverished single mother in some shit town in Mexico, well, it's probably reasonable to have a moral time horizon of a couple generations, hoping for your kids and their kids to have a better life.

Which brings us to the wealthy class. These fuckers have the luxury of at worst an incredibly blessed existence. And yet, they seem to have a moral time horizon that can be measured in years, if not fiscal quarters.

Obviously, this is unacceptable.

So, those of us with wealth, education, and no real danger of imminent death or even long-term discomfort in any practical sense are obligated to have a longer moral time horizon.

I'd say 1000 years is a pretty good starting point for the least of us, but it's pretty unimaginative.  I'd hope a 10,000 to 100,000 year time horizon for a moral framework and planning would be a solid basis for modern, secular religious/moral life.

That way, we can start working on asteroid defense systems, colonizing Mars (a la Elon Musk,) and maintaining and enriching our environment for future generations and some sense of aesthetic beauty.

See, I think that as a species, Cnu's Edo Period stasis can't be done for its own sake, it needs a religious, visionary component.

To make a cohesive, cross-cultural value set take hold, it needs to be rooted in a great and powerful vision. With a moral framework in mind (i.e. we are colonizing space and building a stable biosphere and feeder system on Earth, social status is defined by a merit based system with these goals as the measuring stick,) you can justify lopping the heads off of loafers, liars and losers.

So, I propose a 100,00 year grand plan, with 10,000 year stage goals and 1,000 year checkpoints that define individual eras within that grand scheme.

A new religion? I don't know.

10,000 year goal: Colonize near space. Maximize genetic adaptions.
1,000 year checkpoint: Stabilize the biosphere and develop the moral authority to enforce the grand vision. Colonize the moon and Mars.

It's a start.

 p.s. Also, quite fun to write posts again instead of just repost, so thanks for telling me to fuck off!


Friday, November 23, 2012

From my deleted archives

With thanks to the cached archives of degringoglade.

This is what I thought 3+ years ago anyway...

Well, my main referrer has de-listed me (understandable, I was on hiatus) and my only other readers make me nervous (try not to log in from a military server sis, I don't want my door kicked in!). So, to all 5 of you, here's my worldview (with apologies and thanks to JMG, Cnulan, and many others)


Our standard of living is defined by energy use per capita. The more energy inputs that go into the things we consume, the richer we are, both individually and collectively.

The 'crisis' most people seem to fear, be it financial, social, or political, is basically the same complaint: someone wants to take away the energy you consume.


American political conservatives seem to be of the opinion that the energy they currently enjoy, in the form of material goods and money, are theirs fair and square. Others are trying to take this energy away, for redistribution. They object to this redistribution of wealth either on fairness grounds ("I earned it,") or efficiency grounds ("the government can only fuck it up.")
American liberals rarely address the topic of their own energy consumption, regardless of their own personal wealth. Instead, they focus on the inequality of energy distribution, or rather, they demand more inputs to bring others up to their level of energy use, while lowering the rate of extraction of energy to preserve it for the future.

Politically, both sides operate from a position of insanity. Conservatives have done nothing to 'earn' their wealth, except in the classic sense that they brutally exploit other people at home and abroad to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I would define this view as deluded accounting; pretending your outputs of energy somehow balance your inputs.

Liberals seem to think that the proper solution to inequality is to bring everyone in the world up to their (self-servingly appropriate) level of consumption, while also entering an energy stasis, only using what we consume. This basically means they expect currently unknown energy reserves to pop up and world population to decline voluntarily. I would define this view as happy-face wishful thinking.

Same story, different game. The US dollar is the worlds reserve currency. Money is not manufactured by the government, but by the request for debt by the consumer (HT). Fiat currency is indeed, a Ponzi scheme, but one that functions well for longer than a human lifetime if you do it properly, thereby ensuring that it won't upset too many people in too short a time.

So the rich guys on Wall Street made fat coin, and now your 401K in a 201K. The majority seems to believe that those who took larger share of the spoils are somehow the bad guys, and that they are in cahoots with the government.
I think Wall Street is in cahoots with the government too, but being mad at Wall Street for plundering the rest of the world and only giving you a penny on the dollar seems silly to me. You're a penny ahead, and I bet privately the Kings of the Universe feel the same way: they orchestrated the plunder of the world, and were kind enough to give you some for your assistance and looking the other way. Now you want a bigger piece of the pie. Fuck you.


The common opinion on the sites I read is that wealth disparity has gone out of control and lead to the collapse of our economy--the only way to restore prosperity is a more egalitarian society.

Um, no. Excluding brief periods over the last 100 years, the world has never been so equal for the haves and the have-nots. While all of us are much wealthier today energy-wise than the nobles of the past several millenia, the difference between the haves and have-nots is less than you'll find in the past.

We're riding high on tons of unlocked, nonrenewable energy: coal, gas & oil. As peak oil adherents say, were on the downslope for the AAA rated energy source of the three, oil.

What's the solution? If you read The Archdruid, or at least his book, you know he doesn't think it's a problem, he thinks it's a predicament. Problems have solutions, predicaments are shit that you deal with, cope with, die from--you don't solve them.

I see four things coming, either exclusively or all together.

1) Population reduction-either through war, pandemic, starvation, nuclear plant explosion, etc.
2) Explicit Empire and Fascism- before we give up our stuff voluntarily, we'll give up our notions of fairness, morality, and equality. Expect nationalism, stifling of dissent, and acceptance of plunder as a necessity. These may take the forms of racism, sexism, cultural genocide, social classes becoming social castes, or probably a big soup of all of them.

3) Nuclear power and environmental degradation- You will not accept quietly your 'energy neutral future. Even at 25% of current population, stasis energy use is basically the life of a medieval serf. Not super fun. Expect environmental laws to disappear, nuclear reactors to spring up everywhere its feasible, and much more provincialism

4) Loss of morality- Our modern morality is based on wealth, not inherent characteristics. Genetic survival is the fundamental truth IMHO, and inherent individual liberty and rights are a pretty new concept. Expect your rights to go away, expect that what you can get away with will be what's right (take one step down Maslow's hierarchy from where you are now), and expect your value as an individual to diminish as your value as a group member to grow, either as a gang member, citizen of the nation, or member of a social class.


Get over yourself. Prepare to lead/join an organized group, hoard energy and accumulate power to the largest social structure you can at any given time. Your access to energy and COMPLEX material goods will decline going forward. Select the largest social group you can effectively organize and be (secretly) ready to drop down a level to the next largest group when that one goes away.

In my lifetime? Probably best from a survival standpoint to be a fervent nationalist who also protects the interest of your social class above all others. Probably best from a moral standpoint to organize a dirt farmer collective and teach sustainable practices while building community that's resistant to external exploitation.

Are you John Michael Greer or John Wesley Rawles? For myself, I'm a little bit of both, going forward, only time will tell--maybe it's better to be Daniel Plainview.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

You can hate Ron...

But I challenge you to listen to this whole thing and disagree with more than 5% of his speech. Say that about the guy you pulled the lever for.

Yeah, the private property thing and fiat money parts have some (minor) BS elements, but you think any elected, or popular, politicians have better ideas than the ones he articulated here, you have a unique world view I welcome in the comments.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dunning on the cognitive problem

People can be clueless in a million different ways, even though they are largely trying to get things right in an honest way. Deficits in knowledge, or in information the world is giving them, just leads people toward false beliefs and holes in their expertise...

...Psychologists over the past 50 years have demonstrated the sheer genius people have at convincing themselves of congenial conclusions while denying the truth of inconvenient ones.  You can call it self-deception, but it also goes by the names rationalization, wishful thinking, defensive processing, self-delusion, and motivated reasoning. There is a robust catalogue of strategies people follow to believe what they want to, and we research psychologists are hardly done describing the shape or the size of that catalogue.  All this rationalization can lead people toward false beliefs, or perhaps more commonly, to tenaciously hang on to false beliefs they should really reconsider.

Denial, to a psychologist, is a somewhat knuckle-headed technique in self-deception, and it is to merely deny the truth of something someone does not want to confront.
Venn Diagram of cluelessness, self-deception and denial.Graphic by Steven Hathaway Venn Diagram of cluelessness, self-deception and denial.

Clearly, Dunning believes that we are incarcerated in a prison of cluelessness.  But is there any possibility of escape? I had some additional questions for Dunning, and so we arranged to speak again.

DAVID DUNNING:  Here’s a thought.  The road to self-insight really runs through other people. So it really depends on what sort of feedback you are getting.  Is the world telling you good things? Is the world rewarding you in a way that you would expect a competent person to be rewarded?  If you watch other people, you often find there are different ways to do things; there are better ways to do things.  I’m not as good as I thought I was, but I have something to work on.  Now, the sad part about that is — there’s been a replication of this with medical students — people at the bottom, if you show them what other people do, they don’t get it.  They don’t realize that what those other people are doing is superior to what they’re doing.  And that’s the troubling thing. So for people at the bottom, that social comparison information is a wonderful piece of information, but they may not be in a position to take advantage of it like other people.

ERROL MORRIS:  But wait a second.  You’re supposed to benefit from feedback.  But the people that you’ve picked are dunderheads.  And you lack the ability to discriminate between dunderheads and non-dunderheads, between good advice and bad advice, between that which makes sense and that which makes no sense.  So the community does you no damn good!

DAVID DUNNING: You know, I think that is an issue.  Those among us who are in the 40th percentile, they’re not the best, but they’re not doing too badly.  But people at the bottom, you’re going to have to be open-minded and you’re going to have some special hurdles, internal hurdles you have to get over.  If people give you conflicting advice, congratulations, you don’t know how to choose.  Yes, it is a tricky part of the problem.

ERROL MORRISAnd aren’t there some tasks where we’re all incompetent, where humanity itself is in the bottom quartile, so to speak?

DAVID DUNNING Well, that has to be true for some tasks, right?  There are just some tasks that are incredibly hard. How many centuries have gone by, and we still don’t have world peace?  Yes, there are things that we’re just bad at.


Emphasis mine.

My Great Uncle's Coins

Maker of Type I is unknown. Type II was designed and issued by Adam Pietz, Philadelphia, PA, engraver and die-sinker. Both types were sold for presentation by families and friends to departing servicemen. They were not popular and their sales were limited.


It's a cool coin, glad it's in the collection. Looks like they sell for about $6. My great-uncle was an officer in, I believe, the Air Force in WWII, but would have been an infant in WWI.

Just a collector.