FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Strategic Chokepoints in Life: or Marcus Aurelius’ Error

If Marcus Aurelius’ only accomplishment in life were to choose a capable heir, it would have outweighed the almost 20 years he spent administering a massive Roman empire.
Rome never recovered from his choice of Commodus as his heir.  He wrote philosophy and went on campaigns but his legacy truly hinged on one thing: the succession.  In neglecting the succession all his virtues were in vain.  He could have spent 20 years lying around smoking pot and come out ahead if only he had chosen the right heir.  This is Marcus Aurelius’ error.
There are chokepoints in life.  All the stuff that happens in between is just filler while just a few things decide everything—whether we are successes or failures for all time.
I notice in most people I meet in America an utter disregard for the greater game of life.  They mindlessly attend parties and have legions of facebook friends but not one person they could call upon in a time of dire need.  Nor do they have a plan for family or progeny.  They just serve out their days like assembly line robots.  Yet the robots serve a pure purpose for which they were made.  The torment of modern Americans is the torment of constant busyness without purpose.
They grind away obediently at relentless jobs never seeming to care about the things that will actually matter.  On their death beds they invariably realize that maybe a fraction of 1% of their time alive went into anything meaningful.
Like Marcus Aurelius they were seduced away from the meaningful life by colorful distractions.

If we distance ourselves for a moment from the noise of our lives, we will see that only a few things will ever really matter.  If we can just get those few things right, the rest takes care of itself.

Lack of a Long Term is the Problem With Capitalism

Unregulated capitalism knows no past or future, it concerns only the desires of the present.
The state must serve the role of investor to guide the self-destructive child that is the free market.
This means watching out for the long term interests of the society.
Even before American independence, free market greed set up a disaster as business owners chose to import slaves rather than pay to import labor.
They saved themselves money and time for awhile, but by so doing they sank to the degradation of keeping slaves and doomed their children and grandchildren to all the problems that came with having a captive population of millions, doomed hundreds of thousands of grandkids to perish in battle, and saddled an entire people with problems that still must be dealt with hundreds of years later.

Clearly those old planter aristocrats cared nothing for the future, had no use to care for anything beyond the day they died.
But why should a society have any regard for the needs of the reckless and greedy who plan to leave their mess for others to clean up?
Surely such fools surrender implicitly their freedoms in the same way as a murderer, who threatens his victims more immediately and more directly.
Surely they harm society in the long term as surely as a high IQ welfare mother helps society’s future.
A highly intelligent woman raising a large brood of kids makes her less able to work a job, but she more than makes up for her individual output of one lifetime by contributing several valuable lives who will bear quality offspring in turn.
A society that consumes her entire potential in the workforce, devouring the leisure time she needs for family and children cheerfully eats its seed corn, dooming future generations to poverty and suffering.
So too did an 18th century planter consume the seed corn of the crop that rightly belonged to his children by importing slaves.
So too does a modern business owner import temporary talent from every corner of the earth to avoid the temporary expense of training local people who will always be there and teach their craft to their children.

The murderer may kill a few people before he is caught, but the long-term evil doer may well leave behind problems that affect everyone after him forever.
Let’s imagine some finite resource is utterly consumed according to the supposedly holy and infallible forces of demand.  We may suppose that when the resource is still abundant, demand dictates it be used for the most mundane and frivolous purposes without a second thought even though it may run out forever by noon tomorrow.  The free market is by nature a stampede of lemmings.
Without firm guidance, the free market enshrined as God in America becomes a rampant cancer.
And many forget, that without the intervention of government, there are no markets, only loot and plunder.

So a great state must protect its future investments from predation and in righteous ruthlessness crush those low souls who are willing to benefit now while incurring a net expense for everyone else later.

There are those who do not care what happens later — fine.  But by the principle of justice they cannot expect anyone to care about their problems, their property, or their freedoms, now or ever.

The problem of course is in the absence of philosopher kings, we fear the abuses of such a government more than we expect competence in its administrators.

Smart Socialism

In the USA, the word ‘socialism’ has become a curse word, associated with handing the fruits of the productive over to the least productive, from grateful laborers to contemptuous malingerers.

The word might take on a new meaning though if we re-examine the role of a re-distributive government.
A quick look at the present and at history tells us at once that there are societies out there that compete for dominance.
So the main duty of a society’s rulers is to set up their society to win over its competitors.
Since rulership itself derives from control of resources, distribution of resources has always been one of the roles of the ruler.
Socialism however, has become known as a program where the rulers distribute resources to the least productive members of society.
These measures do serve a practical function.  Some form of welfare has existed since ancient Rome for good reason.  It’s simply cheaper to distribute free bread than it is to deal with the crimes of truly desperate men and to repair the damage done by chronic bread riots.  More than one regime has been toppled entirely when there were simply too many empty stomachs.
So some form of redistribution to the poor is typical for rulers, whatever the form of government.

Obviously, any system that gives out free bread will be flooded with claims of hunger and privation from every quarter, every idle person trying to snatch the greatest share.  The most important part of a welfare system is the protection against abuse.
In America the word ‘socialism’ has become synonymous with a system that not only allows the most typical abuses but allows many unearned benefits to accrue for those who do not produce.  This system loses sight of the main purpose of redistribution to unproductive people: to do the minimum required to prevent the more costly problems caused by many empty stomachs.

Any investment in the poor beyond the bare minimum required to prevent unrest must be justified.  An ideal ruler spends every penny with the object of getting his state ahead of other states.  Every penny he spends on his own people is an investment in the society over which he rules.
Whenever the ruler spends money at a loss on the least productive people, it is a waste of wealth.
And wealth to the human or the human society is little different than sun to a plant.  The plant that can absorb sun more effectively than another will outproduce and outgrow its neighbor.

We can easily reason from these premises that society should invest in its most promising and intelligent people, not in the slowest, least capable, and lowest in character.  Thus, if we re-think socialism we might realize a welfare queen with 8 kids, a high iq, and demonstrable talent isn’t such a bad idea.
The real reason why redistribution programs meet with such opposition isn’t because of the principle of redistribution itself, but because of who the wealth is redistributed to.

If we look at European countries, socialism seems to work best in countries with highly homogeneous populations.  In such nations, the people find redistributive policies far more tolerable because their wealth is providing for those who share a common ethnicity, culture, and language.
In a heterogenous nation like the USA, however, redistribution ends up financing the spread of a thousand penniless ethnicities, with alien cultures, and foreign languages.  Naturally, no one tribe wants to pay for the expenses of another.  Asians don’t want to pay the hospital bills of blacks, blacks don’t want to buy free housing for Asians, Whites don’t want to send Mestizos to college…
In a vast, heterogenous nation, socialist policies that are easy to implement in smaller, more homogenous states are quickly found to be impossible.

The ruler is best off simply calculating what peoples and which people will most likely yield positive returns on investment.  What if all the money that is funneled into hopeless ghettos was instead used to give those on the cusp of making it an extra push?  Startup loans for small businesses?  Scholarships for those who want to study profitable disciplines?

What if instead of disability checks, the system was more concerned in dealing out ability checks.  If someone has a talent for drawing, music, or even for poetry, why not send them a monthly check simply for being what they are?  A disabled person collects checks on the same premise after all.  Why then do we not also recognize the abled, whose prosperity benefits everyone and rewards the best in us rather than the very worst?
If someone has good genes and superior intelligence why not send them a monthly check?  The extra wealth renders them better able to support children and to influence our world.
If someone has sound spending habits why not send them a check, just because it’s known they’ll save it up for something important?

Why shouldn’t society clamor to pay for multitudes of children from smart, educated women?  What sane ruler would finance the child-bearing of the most hopeless and despondent women?
Shouldn’t geniuses rather than gangsters be given free housing and endowed with food stamps?
If socialism was done the smart way, perhaps ‘the projects’ would be identified with shining beacons of humanity rather than cesspools of violence, stupidity, and despair.

Great Men Are Not Specialists

The Ancient Athenians who did about 2500 years worth of thinking for us, were a handful of people who lived over just a few generations.  They accomplished infinitely more than men across centuries who had far more resources and specialized learning.
In their own time: why was it war-like ancient Greeks who came up with these great ideas and not more civilized Egyptians and Babylonians who already had 1000 year old academic traditions?
The Greeks borrowed lots of knowledge from further east, but they did extraordinary things with what they learned.

There is a key difference I notice between Greek philosophers and Egyptian scribes.

The trained scribe or academic has always been an extreme specialist confined to a few tasks and isolated from the rest of society, a hothouse plant who’s never had to make his own way and face adversity.  In fact he prides himself on not having to fight battles or perform back-breaking labor.  The scribe and the academic are features of a mature civilization that’s settled into a rigid caste system where everyone performs one role as a replaceable part in a great machine.

The comparatively savage Greeks behind the most important thoughts in human history weren’t as sheltered from the travails of life, nor did they have the luxury of living in just one specialty their whole lives.
Socrates was a soldier and Plato a wrestler.  They were men of the mind, but unlike Egyptian or Babylonian scribes, they were not rote specialists.  They had to live in the physical world and test themselves against other men in the crudest way.  They were forced to understand the problems that ordinary people must face.  Their practical experience taught them what is empty sentiment and what works in real life.  They couldn’t hide; they had to face and conquer their fears first.  Then having experienced how the world works, they formulated their ideas about reality into philosophy.

The Ancient Greeks are one of the few peoples in history who believed that an excellent man is master of both mind and body.  They saw a perfect physique as the natural counterpart of a perfect mind.
Throughout history, their view has been unusual.  Almost every settled people has had a class of scribes rather than warrior poets and philosopher kings.

If we take one quick glance at the course of ages, we see that one warrior poet is worth legions of scribes and one lone renaissance man can produce a century worth of technology and culture.

A man who lives only in the physical is a brute and a thug.
A man who lives only in the mind is a vaporous weakling.
A man who can master and unite both has the potential to become a great man

Abraham Lincoln is a historically recent great man who the Ancient Greeks would have admired.
He was an able laborer and if need be, a warrior capable of defending himself with his own gnarled fists.  He grew up on a frontier where survival was on the line and sentimental bullshit quickly slapped down by harsh reality.
His deep understanding of the “short and simple annals of the poor”  combined with philosophy, poetry, literature, rhetoric, and logic made him one of those rare great men across thousands of years who avoids the trap of specialization and masters the entire human experience.
Lincoln coming out of a rural backwater managed to best Seward for the Republican nomination.  Seward was an extremely capable man who’d been both a governor and senator of New York state and lived his entire life at the highest levels of society, groomed by political bosses for the highest office in the land.  Yet despite his endless advantages, a powerful and brilliant man like Seward lost to one backwoods lawyer who was a Great Master in the style of the Ancient Greeks.

What’s even more extraordinary is these Ancient Greek philosophers understood what made them uniquely Great.  Plato’s ideal philosopher king was no rote specialist but a man of the world trained in every art.  Perhaps most telling is one of the final tests for philosopher king trainees: to go out in the world as a common man and make a living; and in so doing to become master of the entire human experience, finally fit to rule.

Only Young Societies Are Egalitarian

A quick glance at the USA tells me it takes about 3-400 years for a brand new society of frontiersmen and settlers to settle down into a civilization at equilibrium.

Every mass society that’s been around for any length of time has set traditions and customs, stratified social classes, and the vast majority living close to subsistence with a ruling class and its functionaries controlling most wealth.

This truth began to dawn on me when I first moved from the American West where “everyone is middle class” to the East Coast.
To my amazement I soon encountered a highly structured caste system.  Each stratum of society lived entirely separate from the others even if they existed in close proximity.  For each caste there were clear codes of dress, of speech, of behavior.
Working low status jobs that required uniforms or heavy duty work clothes, I quickly came to understand that white collar types, the perpetually harried and anxious middle classers, would refuse to acknowledge my existence, even trying to walk right through me as if I weren’t there.  Talking to them was out of the question.
Sure enough, when I went out in nicer clothing, I had no trouble getting their attention and talking to them.  I was amazed.

Lower proles often wore black shoes and gray baggy clothes that allowed them to blend into walls and not be seen as they hauled dollies loaded with goods in and out of shops or cleaned up the streets.   These people I saw were the local class of untouchables, ashamed even to be noticed.

There were aristocrats who walked about in elegant earth tones with a satisfied smug expression on their faces.  Just beneath them were their upper middle class followers, whose attempt to imitate their masters’ smile looked more like a petulant sneer.

In the West where I had been raised, athleticism, fitness, and outdoor activity had been counted as virtues.
In the East, the physical was clearly seen as a vice, fit only for proles.
Men prided themselves on being stick thin, emphasizing their gaunt figures with tight clothes.  For women, gentle Yoga in indoor studios, well away from the sun, was the most vigorous activity they permitted themselves.  They seemed to me very like Chinese mandarins who grew their nails long to show beyond all doubt that they never had to perform lowly physical labor.

It was not just the social systems of the East that made me think at once of China and India, but also the sheer density of people.
For the first time in my life, there were endless crowds everywhere I went.  Public restrooms were scarce, the few available, mobbed by hundreds of people and filthy.  Any public resource at all in such an environment was sure to be quickly exhausted in a true tragedy of the commons.  There were few places to sit, even fountains were designed to make it difficult for people to snatch up the coins dropped in them.    The spaces shown as “parks” on the maps were just islands in the middle of intersections, a ring of benches around a statue, most of them occupied by sleeping homeless people.

On reflection, I understood the East coast of the US, unlike the West, had existed for awhile under the rule of England and inherited its customs and institutions.  But mainly, it has simply been there longer.
All available resources and social positions are taken, everyone is caught in competition for an unchanging quantity of scarce resources.

I realized that the Western USA with its relatively informal egalitarian culture is an aberration.  It’s simply too new to have settled into a more normal system.  The West is still a frontier.
Once there’s no more frontier, people have to live together in the same society.
Within a few generations, people assort roughly into classes based on their ability to control wealth and exert power.  Then each class largely breeds with its own until each caste is practically a distinct genetic breed.
Once the process is complete, you have the classic mature social structure that’s indistinguishable from Ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia.

It is important to make this observation because many of humanity’s best accomplishments come from exuberant new cultures over short periods of time, while ancient empires more often plod on for milennia in a senile daze, living on borrowed inertia, unable to adapt or change, with millions of striving laborers, not one of them producing a new idea.

Political Diversity Drives Innovation

Humans are most ingenious when challenged.  China’s best innovations and culture came from the period of warring states.  Greece’s best advances came during an age of competing city states.  So too with renaissance Italy and later, from Germany.  The rise of Europe was itself a phenomenon of political diversity with no one empire ever able to dominate for long.
The rulers of societies normally have every reason to oppose change — it’s good to be king.
But the threat of competitors forces rulers to challenge their natural conservatism in the quest to grasp for any possible advantage over their rivals.  Only a Pope desperate to show off legitimacy commissions the most skilled — a disagreeable autistic like Michelangelo — instead of someone from a better family, better versed in sycophancy.  Art, culture, science, philosophy, mathematics all surge forward when the rulers must struggle.

Political monopolies, on the other hand, suffocate innovation as surely as a commercial monopoly.  The US is a state with no serious external threats.  Its GDP is 60% larger than that of a distant second place China, 3 times as large as Japan in 3rd place.  No power on earth poses an existential military threat nor has any compelling reason to fight an all out war.  What’s more, the US is geographically isolated from what few possible rivals it could possibly have.  Never has a great power enjoyed such incredible security.

In the total absence of serious competitors, the US is sinking into an age of stagnation and darkness.
Despite the largest, best educated population any nation has ever had with the most wealth to make productive activity possible, with the best access to information anyone has ever had, innovation is slowing and more labor is sunk into activities that produce nothing or are even harmful.  Many of the institutions that run American society have ossified so that the adoption of new ideas becomes impossible.
The trouble perhaps isn’t the threat of collapse but that a mediocre, destructive society and way of life can linger indefinitely if by virtue of its critical mass, its errors are never fully punished and corrected by the harsh forces of reality.  The self destructive Soviet Union lasted as a major power for half a century even with powerful enemies.  Perhaps the greatest horror is that a USA with no opposition could spend a couple hundred years degenerating before finally ceasing to exist, much like the Western Roman empire.

Comparisons with Rome are perhaps cliche by now, though, so China provides another comparison with the state America is becoming.
China like America has long been isolated from most external threats by geographical boundaries and has tended to be politically centralized.
Chinese dynasties would often have a high period of art and achievement but then sink into complacency until they were sufficiently vulnerable to outside invaders and internal dissent.
Once rulers realize they can simply plunder their own people without competitors taking advantage of the weakened structures they leave behind, they happily do so until finally, often a few generations later, the racket is up.

The printing press proved to be a major disruption of old patterns as too many people came to know too much.  The internet is the new printing press that will for the first time make internal forces more of a challenge to the state than the rivalry of other states.  Simply speeding up the spread of ideas will make it harder for rulers of states to sink into satisfied complacency, dabbling in disastrous policies and fostering the mediocre until their rotted house finally falls down.  For now, though, the most powerful state in history ambles onward, seemingly oblivious of the forces of change.
No other state is a threat but a US superpower finds itself struggling for the recognition of its existence from within rather than the preservation of its sovereignty from without.

Why Philosopher Kings Are Rare

From control of wealth comes the power to govern.
Therefore the rulers will always be either a warrior elite or a merchant elite.
How then do you have a system that consistently puts a philosopher king in power?
A system that puts governing into the hands of the most capable.
There never has been a meritocracy of governance only the rule of the strong.
The life of the warrior or the merchant demands intense specialization and requires an incurious personality.  The rulers most societies have had most of the time reflects these realities.

Plato identified the main problem of politics 2300 years ago, but no one has ever figured out how to reliably implement that basic idea of giving that job to the best qualified.

Smart People are a Social Luxury

The basic human existence consists of food production and reproduction.  No one has time for science or literacy.

People who focus on skills that don’t directly contribute to their own breeding success are a social luxury.

Humans have a very limited number of cubic centimeters in their heads.  A woman’s birth canal can only be so wide and allow for efficient upright movement.  We have only to observe how difficult childbirth is for our species to see that we’re already pushing that limit.

With limited real estate to build on, a person who’s especially good at one thing must sacrifice in other ways.  It’s all too common for a great scientist to be socially awkward, because of the temperament required to excel and the time spent away from others pursuing his craft.

So a society that would have scientists must make cultural and biological provisions to allow a scientific breed of human to develop and persist.

Pretty much every culture today that produces lots of good scientists is at least traditionally a highly competitive culture of arranged marriages.
With the first priority of marriage to secure resources to support children, having sought after abilities became more important than having a natural instinct for dance.

In a free sexual market, the scientist who fails to devote all his resources to reproductive and social competition and who has the wrong temperament is crushed out of existence.
Without exception, instinct dominated societies have no science and most certainly no scientists.  The arrangement of evolutionary pressures ensures no such thing comes to pass.  Truth itself has no meaning if it does not further your aims. It does not matter for your purposes if the sun is some mythical god or a gaseous celestial body.  It does not affect the outcome of your own struggles in the grand scheme of nature and you haven’t the luxury to waste energy worrying about it anyway.

So if a technologically advanced society allows a sexual free market, we can predict it will swiftly, within a few generations, revert to the ancestral equilibrium that allows no place for specialists who fail to maximize their immediate individual payoff within the story of their species.
Ability for science, highly skilled arts, advanced craftsmanship, curiosity, self-reflection become handicaps to a human animal that must first be concerned with food production and reproduction.

Pop Music is Folk Music Elevated Beyond Its Proper Place

There has always been folk music, the everyday music of ordinary people.  This is lower music.  Folk music is spontaneous; its structure is informal but often guided by pre-existing traditions that can be quite rigid.  In implementation, it often relies on lyrics as much as melody.  Its purpose is to communicate sentiment and emotion.  Folk music is universally and eternally fixated on the fickle, youthful passions of falling in love, heartbreak, celebration, motivation, and protest.  In a previous age, it was just as much about coordinating while laboring or passing an evening before electricity and the distractions of modern “entertainment.”  It marks the passage of holidays, wedding days, and funerals.
Its players are typically musicians wedded to one instrument and they tend to play alone or in small bands of no more than 3-4 people with rigidly assigned roles.

For thousands of years there have been those who create higher music.  Today, we call them “composers” in the West.  These are the people who very deliberately craft works of music just as a skilled painter carefully applies multiple elements with a plan in mind.
There is a science to their art, it is not done on a whim drawing mostly on pre-established conventions.  Thus, while the composer’s work has more formal structure, it has far more potential for variation and originality.
Composers might dedicate some works to young love, but it is one small area of experience to which they can apply their talent.
The composer engineers the sound in advance, but is not necessarily one of the musicians nor is he associated with any single instrument.  He will write the parts of 100 different instruments if need be, they are artists’ tools, not an attribute of the artist.  He transcends the role of a single musician or small band of musicians and looks down on their movements from above, outside of time itself.
Composers are often inspired by folk music traditions.  Folk music serves as a deep wellspring of inspiration, it provides vision into the vastness of the cultural subconscious.  The composer is the rational neocortex who takes the raw passions of folk culture and uses the science of his craft to make something greater and higher than before.

Since the 1960s or so, there’s been a term thrown around to describe most music: Pop music.
What does this mean?
Pop music seems to be defined by bands and is focused on youthful passions, so it’s clearly folk music, but we have a sense that it’s different from folk music of the past.
What changed?

A big clue is how successful “pop” musicians are called “stars” or even “idols.”
This word choice shows that people understand on a gut level what the big change is.

Pop music is folk music that has risen above its proper place.

Pop music ceases to be the wellspring and usurps the social role that rightly belongs to higher music.  The result is the dilution and degradation of the culture we live in.
Pop music can’t inspire humanity to its heights, it speaks to our base instincts.    By its nature, its most successful forms never wander far beyond animal impulses such as “party all night long” and “everybody dance.”  It’s confined to the now just as higher music lives in the eternal.
Without the guidance and example of higher music, folk music runs rampant, becoming pop as it breaks down to its most basic elements.  The higher folk music rises above its proper place, the lower in form it becomes.

If Pop is Folk that has risen above its station, what happened then to higher music?

The briefest glance at art tells us that the world wars broke the spirit of the West.  Some of the high music of the late 19th and early 20th century was among the most sublime ever known.  In painting, this impressionism combined the best of abstract and literal representation.  You could clearly see a sunny meadow, but could also see the blurring of motion as grasses swayed in the wind.  In the shades of golden sun, you could feel the artist’s pleasure in simply being alive.
High music of that period created creeping and colorful impressions, the composers experimented with rhythms and scales taken from other cultures.
This culture reflected eager anticipation of the progress of humanity to greater and more beautiful forms.

The Great War and then World War II brutally crushed this old culture with its worship of beauty.
Art in all its forms was stripped down to its most basic elements robbed of purpose and meaning, and degraded into an obsession with harsh lines, stark contrasts, and jarring primary colors.
The 20th century was the high tide of centralization as the world was reduced to just a few major nation-states, each with just a handful of people who controlled mass media, systems of education, all access to information.  Uniform mass culture proliferated, until the greatest cultural success was defined by appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Defeated by the 20th century, high music abdicated its place.  Composers toyed with atonal, degraded, nonsensical music and monstrously, inhumanly chose to distance themselves from beauty and meaning.  By neglecting their sacred duty to culture, the sages of higher music left a yawning vacuum.  With the advent of mass media, this vacuum was rapidly filled by folk music—folk music that was hot-blooded as the new high music was dead and wan.  It picked up where the high music left off like it should, adopting the experimentation with new scales and rhythms and trying out new kinds of instruments in new combinations.  Without a firm guiding hand from the sages, though, the new folk music degenerated into pop music, joining the now defunct high music in its worship of ugliness and the lowest of instinct.

In the present day, the high music certainly remains underground, or rather in the background.  Composers continue to thrive in mediums such as movies and video games  but after a time, one begins to realize:
Dramatic movie music is  all descended from Wagner’s operas.
Sci-fi music comes straight from Holst’s the Planets.
It innovates and does wonderful and beautiful things, but in its very limited scope.  The high tradition lives on here, but like a goldfish, is stunted in growth by its small bowl.

If we are to look for composers who don’t just do music that’s considered “classical” or “orchestral” certain schools of electronic music stand out as possible heirs.
I notice that these kinds of music are composed, not played.  Using computers, hundreds of instruments can be used at once if need be, in any combination desired.  The science and philosophy of composition that leads to high music lives on here, but exists marginally.
High music won’t displace pop music in a culture that’s become mob rule in every sense.
Re-organizing culture will require re-organizing society itself.  To have a correctly aligned culture that effortlessly produces the highest of innovation and beauty at the top, the inherent breeds and strata of humanity must be restored to their rightful places.  First, mob rule of culture must end.
Until then, high music will remain mainly as a 18th-19th century style orchestra, a formidable ghost.  If folk music were the same way we’d never have seen banjoes replaced by electric guitars.

On Herdbeasts

No human can survive on its own, so every one of us has to pander to the group to stay alive, let alone to thrive and have the surplus necessary for reproduction.  Independence is a myth, individual freedom is a thing we must steal in the dark.

So selection for group compliance is heavy amongst human beings.
People often know in their hearts that an absurd popular belief is false or at best uncertain, but they have a strange ability to refuse to admit even to themselves except in the dark of night as they try to sleep.  Their herd instincts overwhelm their reason.  This is the dissonance you see in every washed up careerist schlub you meet.  That middle class guy who lives a secure life with a wife and two kids, yet no one envies him.

This is what drives the evangelist to say “but how do you live without Jesus in your heart?”  They’re speaking to their own deeply embedded fears, not to you.  These fears are all the worse because they can never confront them, like ghosts hiding under a child’s bed.

Group existence is likely the cause of human intelligence.  In a group with just 5 other people, you have 25 possible combinations with them to account for.  Chimpanzees live in bands of perhaps 12-16 they deal with perhaps 144 to 256 different combinations.  Humans are equipped to handle groups up to 150 different people, or 22,500 possible combinations of interactions.
The man with even a slight edge in such a large group ends up with the best women and most of the wealth.
A society where millions interact has innumerable combinations and impossibly complex patterns.  Such a situation is bound to create pressures that produce herd predators that have an edge in exploiting mass trends.

Treated as an aberration in youth, I barely survived, but now I find I have great survival advantages.  I see people following trends and reading the news, while I ask how the trend creators gain and what’s in it for the journalists.  I would hope that I am the future and will do everything in my power to make it so.

I don’t fault them as much as I used to.  I’ve come to understand that every group has rules that serve to weed out specimens that are poorly adapted.
On reflection, I’ve come to realize I’d do the exact same thing if I had power.
I would wield it unapologetically, remembering well what life was like when they were in charge.
I’d naturally make life hard for those who displease me and grease all the wheels in life for the right kind of people.

Police Are Powerless Without Consent

90% of police work is accomplished simply by being legitimate in the eyes of most people.  This legitimacy is the most important resource cops possess.  If they were more aware, they would guard this easily squandered wealth most jealously of all.

Police are relevant only when most people in a neighborhood will turn in criminals.  If people don’t call the police, the police are blind.

When the police no longer have the consent of a neighborhood, they have failed.  The next step is military occupation and a system of paid spies and informants.  This sort of escalation makes an area vastly more expensive to govern until it becomes a net loss for the state.

Smart Racial Realism

It seems in the modern day that European Americans are the only group that doesn’t stick together while every other ethnicity seems to help each other out.
In my experience as a wanderer, I discovered the harsh reality that ethnicity is one of my fundamental traits, one I carry with me everywhere whether I like it or not.
I’ve been denied a job before when they learned I wasn’t Mexican.  I’ve been all but forced out of a job by black co-workers.  I curse my ancestors for allowing these outsiders to take over.

Rather than feeling guilt, “whites” should thank their lucky stars that they were the ones with the power.  I’ve seen the solidarity among just about any other group in the real world.  Long-nosed Europeans would have been wiped off the map if they hadn’t been able to defend themselves.  Most East Asian cultures, for example, are very frank about regarding other peoples as monkeys.

But experience also taught me working among European American proles is no better.  Just like the blacks and Mexicans, they sense I’m not of their kind.  Proles are everywhere the same.  Only the proportion of prolishness of a race differs.

Over years I experienced the difficulties of race, but also was forced to accept that class is more important.

This is where retarded white nationalists go wrong.  They blame all their problems in life on race.

I see the American Civil War as a grand monument to this sort of idiocy.

I’ll never understand why a single non-rich white in the South cared to fight for slavery, a system that hurt them and only benefited the very rich.

Most people who opposed the spread of slavery didn’t care about the slaves.  It wasn’t their problem.  What concerned them was the disastrous effect on the job market when abundant free labor arrives!

To your average white guy, the spread of slavery back then was like the mass illegal immigration and automation we face now.
One of the reasons young Abraham Lincoln’s family was forced to leave Kentucky for Illinois—slavery moved in and the prospects for ordinary people plummeted.
This early experience undoubtedly played a role in shaping the future president’s views.  He was first a believer in the whiggish program of spreading wealth through developing infrastructure and commerce.  Slavery, a system that concentrated wealth on a few plantations and strangled commerce was inimical to his aims.

The vast majority of white southerners would have done better to forge an alliance with black slaves to overthrow the parasitic plantation owners without anyone in the North ever having to say anything.

That hundreds of thousands of them lined up to get shot for a system that only benefited the rich shows what dupes they were.  Faithful dogs, mere tools in the hands of their rulers.

To everything there’s a golden mean.  On one hand failing to embrace race realism is willful self delusion.  On the other hand, being obsessed with race makes one an easily manipulated pawn in the plans of the powerful.
If proles are everywhere the same, so are elites.
A millionaire in Massachusetts has far more in common with his counterparts in China or Nigeria than he has with a powerless US prole with his light beer, smokes, and football games.

When you bring up race with people in America only two possibilities can be imagined.
-Outright race war.
-Deluded ideas of sameness and equality.

It’s such a charged subject that no one can actually seem to think about it.  Being treated as a taboo subject prevents the issue being genuinely discussed.

I care about race because I know that when other peoples take over, I’m an outsider to them who will always be last in line to receive the fruits of society.  When you’re obviously different from everyone else, you become an easy target.  Cherokee Indians who tried to integrate into white culture discovered this the hard way.  If you live in another people’s culture, you’re at their mercy.  If one day they decide to exterminate you or take your stuff, too bad.

There’s no mystical magic in a race, though.  If I determine my clan’s interests can be better served by working with other peoples, I will do so.  I would gladly ally with blacks who share my interests against some plutocratic parasite with my skin color.  If I went out and took a bullet in some billionaire’s war because x people are bad, I would deserve what I got.

Race reality in modern America isn’t about racial solidarity to the point of stupidity.  It’s about recognizing opportunities for arbitrage across racial lines.  If I can get a hotter black or latina woman than I can a white woman, then I will not hesitate.
I’ve found that jobs with lots of blacks tend to have lower expectations.  Most Blacks don’t work hard if they don’t have to, a virtue as far as I’m concerned.  So  when I can get along with my co-workers, it’s great, because I can get paid for standing around half the time.  Whites and Asians who aspergically slave away spoil things for everyone.

Smart race realism means:
-A people must guard its territory; there must be a place that is unequivocally its own, even if it’s just a few city blocks.  It must protect its own and not give stupid concessions.  A people that shows signs of weakness gets quickly wiped out by its neighbors.
-A people must also maintain relations with its neighbors, being always ready to make a good deal.
-A people’s internal parasites are as much a threat as any outside people and must be dealt with.

Rolling Stone & UVA Rape Hoax: Why The Media Keeps Bullshitting You – It’s For Your Own Good

The internet is in an uproar over a rape hoax story. The gist of it is that Rolling Stone author published an article about a UVA Fraternity that had an initiation ritual involving gangrape and broken beer bottles. The story was ran with a minimum of fact checking, despite the fact that the author went through a great deal of searching to find a victim who would tell the right kind of rape story:

 

Magazine writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely knew she wanted to write about sexual assaults at an elite university. What she didn’t know was which university.

So, for six weeks starting in June, Erdely interviewed students from across the country. She talked to people at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. None of those schools felt quite right. But one did: the University of Virginia, a public school, Southern and genteel, brimming with what Erdely calls “super-smart kids” and steeped in the legacy of its founder, Thomas Jefferson.

 

There was no doubt that she could find rapes that happen on campus, they just weren’t the right kind of rapes. She needed something that hit all of the cognitive biases of her audience in order to tell the right kind of story. Journalists like Sabrina Erdely are working around the clock to destroy what little credibility their left-wing publishers had left by valuing sensemaking over investigation.

 

Journalists now exist to serve as advocates for causes, not as eyewitnesses to report events to the public. And like any good advocate, they will not willingly surrender any ground that would threaten the advancement of their cause. The difference between this type of journalism and actual advocacy journalism is that they are not transparent in their advocacy, they hide behind objectivity to cloak their propaganda. These advocates rarely concern themselves with taking on actual rape cultures that create things like the Rotherham abuse scandal. That would be dangerous and actually disrupt the status quo. Instead they are concerned with furthering the status quo from positions of power in the established media while wearing the guise of rebels.

 

To quote the assistant editor of the Rolling Stone hoax story:

Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.

 

In other words, hastily put together propaganda without a sliver of evidence of fact checking. More time was spent looking for someone to tell the right kind of story than was spent fact checking the story. Media outlets initially avoided publishing any op-eds that would contradict the Rolling Stone story, it wasn’t until a blog post went viral that retractions were made. Rolling Stone has since put out up an apology, then redacted and put up an edited apology. It’s worth noting that Sabrina has been writing for Rolling Stone for years and this is not the first time discrepancies have been noted in her articles.

 

Fun fact of the day, trust in media is at an all time low in America:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After registering slightly higher trust last year, Americans’ confidence in the media’s ability to report “the news fully, accurately, and fairly” has returned to its previous all-time low of 40%. Americans’ trust in mass media has generally been edging downward from higher levels in the late 1990s and the early 2000s.

Why Do People Think Human Evolution Has Stopped?

I can’t count how many times someone has remarked glibly and smugly with glazed eyes and a vacant smile “But we have modern medicine/modern society now.  Human evolution has stopped.”  I’m stunned every time.  I’m used to stupidity, but even otherwise intelligent people will say this to me.  Do they choose not to think?
Do they choose to refuse to understand that nature never takes a holiday and that our genes are locked in eternal competition for survival?  Do they not understand that no one will care about their ‘careers’ past the day they retire?  That our ‘accomplishments’ will be forgotten as soon as we are dead?

Changes in stressors merely change the selectors!  Heavy rains are good for some plants, bad for others.  Socially awkward growing up, I keenly felt the cold steel of Darwin’s axe on my neck every day of my entire youth.  I was trapped in a prison of society’s blazing hostility for over a decade.  I was never allowed to delude myself that everyone succeeds.  Before I was a teenager it seemed I stood on the edge of that ignominious trash pit failed specimens are dumped into by nature’s callous hand.  I’ve never, ever forgot it.

This is, in itself, selection at its best.  Those capable of further reflection will have a major advantage over those that buy into the popular platitudes.

The selective barrier I see in modern affluent societies is for an abstract appreciation of the essentials.

For instance, the type A go-getter that always goes for that promotion but never has any kids, dying out as completely as the dinosaurs, no better than the wino on the street corner, no different than a young man brutally mowed down in battle.
In past generations, the type A’s instincts would have been optimally suited towards breeding with the best mates.

Now, however, a more abstract way of thinking about one’s genetic destiny is required for success…or the total absence of thinking, allowing one to rut without care on the animal level.  These are the two present viable formulae for genetic success in the Modern West.

With humans, we give primacy to ‘environment’ and insist on a ‘blank slate.’
We can breed dogs specifically to herd sheep yet do not believe in breeds of people that have come about from the demands of specialization over the last millennia of civilization?

Childish, williful ignorance at its best.

Those who determine the future of the genes, determine the future of the species.

 

 

What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Eric Garner’s Death

The autopsy results have shown that there was no damage to his neck bones or windpipe from the hold and he did not die of asphyxia. The media has rightfully pointed out that chokeholds that strangle the windpipe and asphyxiate suspects are banned by the NYPD (but not by law). It appears the officer had Garner in a headlock and was using the headlock as leverage to take him down. Once Garner is on the ground the officer executes a vascular choke that prevents arteries in the neck from supplying the brain with blood. This is different from an air choke that targets the windpipe. You’ll note in the video that Garner is saying that he cannot breathe repeatedly, which should clue in the observant viewer that his windpipe is not being obstructed. Garner’s preexisting medical conditions combined with the chest, neck (but not throat) compression and laying in the prone position caused his death.

diabetes, sleep apnea, and asthma so severe that he had to quit his job as a horticulturist for the city’s parks department. He wheezed when he talked and could not walk a block without resting, they said.

The Gracie brothers put together a video a while back where they explain it:

 

The details will be paved over in favor of pushing a larger agenda.

 

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” – Rahm Emanuel

Where There’s Tea There’s Civilization

Just as I suppose there’s no such thing as home without piping hot food, there’s no such thing as civilization without hot tea.

Hot tea requires taking your time.   The caffeine is stimulating but not overwhelmingly so.  The very act of sipping requires patience.  Every little sip is a ritual of taking delight in the smaller things.  You have to be able to hold back and enjoy sips before a large bite can taste its best.
This goes not just for food, but all life’s pleasures.
Without enjoying the sips, hedonistic overload devolves into the ashen discontent of jaded excess.

Being able to sit down and sip slowly is the mature sensibility of an adult rather than the capricious, excessive desire of a child.  It’s the ability to wait for good things to grow rather than plundering a lesser reward right now.

Taking tea with others is a ritual of humanity.  You pour from same pot as equals, you sit near, humbly, looking one another honestly in the eye.  Taken together, it’s about acknowledging another’s humanity even should they be your mortal enemy outside of that moment.

A person who can’t take tea with you is not a real person, never to be let into one’s trust.
If they can’t share tea with you from the same pot and look you in the eye, how can they be relied on to back you up when it counts?  When survival is at stake?  How can they be taken seriously as an ally in this perilous wilderness if they won’t even acknowledge shared humanity on the most basic level?

Why Haven’t Americans Figured Out How to Serve Hot Food?

In the time I lived in Korea I noticed a fantastic innovation at their restaurants.  Food was brought to the table simmering in these big steel cookers for everyone to browse from.
I was amazed how these not only kept the food hot, they even had an adjustable heat dial anyone at the table could use.

Such a marvellous invention would be unthinkable, revolutionary in stodgy, joyless American culture that takes greatest pride in its prolish junk food.

When it comes to American food, a piping hot meal is one of life’s challenges.
Everything gets served in complete portions on individual plates made of thick, cold ceramic, completely open to the air.  Everyone takes great care to eat as isolated individuals, avoiding any appearance of sharing from the same source.(that would be disgusting)  Browsing from a collective pot is taboo.  Just watching a people at meal time offers great insight into how they see the world on the most visceral level!
By the time people begin to eat, especially if there’s prayer before eating, even the mashed potatoes are starting to get cold.
I never really understood what a truly hot meal was until I went to some other countries where thick sauces, flaky crusts were common, served in the same container it was baked in hot from the oven, served in cast iron cookware or thick pots with small openings or lids to hold in the heat.  It was never the same again to just eat off of a cold plate that hadn’t even been warmed up.  It’s barbaric, really.  Cold food would offend even cave people cooking over their fires.  Actually, cooking over with a fire in the remote woods is far superior to eating off a cold plate.  There’s a radiant glow of heat that warms your face when you take those foil wrapped baked potatoes and pork loin from the embers of the fire.  Something about really hot food revives the spirit even as cold, soggy food chills the mood, even down to the tips of the toes.
In the States, I still often eat out of the hot pan I cooked in instead of serving onto a plate when making food for myself.  I’ll bring a chair right up to the stove and keep the heat on low as I eat.  If I take it into another room, I keep a lid on until the moment I’m about to eat and enjoy the ebullient rush of hot, delicious-smelling steam rising into my face before I dig in.  But even this is often difficult in America since almost all cookware I encounter is designed to get damaged if it’s so much as touched with silverware.  What backwards and alien customs!

I guess I feel that one of the main reasons to even bother to have a society is to make life pleasant for people.  It’s part of the implicit Contract that motivates us to cooperate with a social order at all.
First a people figures out how to invent a perfectly piping hot meal and then worry about surplus activities like missions into space.
It’s perverse in a way that the most wealthy populations on earth haven’t figured out how to apply sustained heat to their food or contain heat with insulation.
Perhaps it’s the Calvinist, Puritanical disdain for joy in this life that leads to such apathy.
Or is it misguided “enlightenment” empiricism? It has the same calories or nutrients served hot or ice cold after all.
Or is it simply a secular religion of competition and money-making that leaves no place for enjoying the smaller things that make life worth living to begin with?

I suspect it is a combination of all these that impede a culture known for innovation from serving food in containers that have a heat source and adjustable dial.  These are after all the same people who take toasters for granted.

The Future of Human Evolution

“Can we trust evolutionary development to take our species in broadly desirable directions?  Starting from primitive, unconscious life, biological evolution has led to the development of ever more advanced organisms, including creatures that have minds, consciousness, language, and reason…the big picture shows an overarching trend towards increasing levels of complexity, knowledge, consciousness, and organization, a trend which, not to put too fine a point on it, we may label “progress”

We shall explore a different set of existential risks in which the world would end more gradually, not with a bang but a whimper. Let us therefore suppose that no sudden cataclysm puts an end to life.  Let us also set aside scenarios in which evolution leads to the erosion of complexity.  We shall explore how, even if evolutionary development continues unabated in the direction of greater complexity, things could nevertheless take a wrong turn leading to the disappearance of all the things we value.

Scenario I: The Mindless Outsourcers

Technological progress continues to accelerate and at some point the technology of “mind uploading” becomes possible.  Some human individuals upload and make many copies of themselves.  Meanwhile, there is gradual progress in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, and eventually it becomes possible to isolate individual cognitive modules and connect them up to modules from other uploaded minds.  Possibly, modules would need to be trained before they can communicate with each other effectively.  Modules that conform to a common standard would be better able to communicate and cooperate with other modules and would therefore be economically more productive, creating a pressure for standardization.
Competitive uploads begin outsourcing increasing portions of their functionality: “Why do I need to know arithmetic when I can buy time on Arithmetic-Modules Inc. whenever I need to do my accounts?
Some uploads might prefer to retain most of their functionality and handle tasks themselves that could be more efficiently done by others.  They would be like hobbyists who enjoy growing their own vegetables or knitting their own cardigans; but they would be less efficient than some other uploads, and they would consequently be outcompeted over time…
There might be no niche for mental architectures of a human kind.
Would these complexes be worthwhile from our current point of view?  Do we, upon reflection, really favor a world in which such alien types of complexes have replaced human-type complexes?

We can thus imagine a technologically highly advanced society, containing many sorts of complex structures, some of which are much smarter and more intricate than anything that exists today, in which there would nevertheless be a complete absence of any type of being whose welfare has moral significance.  In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society.  All the kinds of being that we care even remotely about would have vanished.


Scenario II: All-Work-And-No-Fun

Even if we do not suppose that uploading and outsourcing will result in a widespread loss of consciousness, we can still entertain the possibility that intrinsically valuable activities and states of consciousness become rarer or disappear altogether.  Much of human life’s meaning arguably depends on the enjoyment, for its own sake.
Perhaps what will maximize fitness in the future will be nothing but non-stop high-intensity drudgery, work of a drab and repetitive nature, aimed at improving the eighth decimal of some economic output measure.  Even if the workers selected for in this scenario were conscious, the resulting world would still be radically impoverished in terms of the qualities that give value to life…”

This is just an excerpted version of the first part of the article, emphasis mine.

The full paper by Nick Bostrom, from Oxford University.

Here’s his bio on wiki

He goes on to discuss to discuss how the human activities we find enjoyable such as the arts are “flamboyant displays” like a peacock’s feathers that give a hard-to-fake demonstration desirable mate qualities.  He reasons that rational post-human beings might recognize these as baggage of our evolutionary past and see little value in them.  Not to mention, simply donating vials of sperm is a more efficient mating strategy for an advanced organism than is spending years learning an artistic talent.  Thus, many of the human enjoyments we value highly get weeded out.

He goes on to point out that conscious beings may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage against entities that focus their whole energies on the most effective means of replication, eliminating the unnecessary flamboyant display of consciousness.

Bostrom’s next step, is to ponder if these outcomes could be avoided by conscious beings aka. “eudaemonic agents” controlling the course of evolution and technology to preserve conscious existence for its own sake.
He concludes:
“To this problem there are only two possible solutions: preventing non-eudaemonic variants from arising in the first place, or modifying the fitness function so that eudaemonic traits become fitness-maximizing
Even if the eudaemonic agents could prevent dangerous mutants from arising, their efforts would be to no avail if the original population already contained some individuals with non-eudaemonic fitness-maximizing preferences, because these would then proliferate and eventually dominate.
Forestalling the dystopian evolutionary scenarios by preventing non-eudaemonic agents from arising is therefore a non-starter.  At most, this measure could serve an auxiliary role.”
He also finds it problematic to imagine an air-tight way any social structure or procedure could indefinitely stop an inherently superior approach from eventually taking over.

Bostrom tries to imagine a universe where conscious agents and the un-conscious simply inhabit different niches in the same ecosystem or are even joined together under one governing power.

He ends:

“Current evidence does not warrant any great confidence in the belief that the default course of future human evolution points in a desirable direction.  In particular, we have examined a couple of dystopian scenarios in which evolutionary competition leads to the extinction of the life forms we regard as valuable.  Intrinsically worthwhile experience could turn out not to be adaptive in the future.”

This article caught my attention because in my own inquiries asking what can have any intrinsic meaning in the grand scheme of this universe, itself possibly transient, the development of consciousness is one of the few things I can feel convinced has some kind of inherent value.
In which case the threats that affect its development are possibly the most important to anticipate and address before they become fatal problems.

If there’s one thing we can take away from this article, it’s to not take the existence of self-awareness for granted as the inevitable result of ‘progress.’
Consciousness is a great extravagance that can even cause us to self-destruct or “waste” our energies on enjoyment that accomplishes nothing, directly against the interests of the species.  Once we’ve decided awareness is valuable, it’s the clear mission of conscious agents to defend and develop the luxury of being.  Humans as we exist now are at best modestly self-aware, only slightly removed from other animals, but we have a mission if we should accept it to blow on the spark we have.

It seems clear that:
-first we have to improve ourselves within the bounds of natural selection
-second we must escape the trap of Darwinian selection
-third, we have to be smart enough to prevent synthetic forms of selection from destroying conscious agency.

LINK

Life Lessons from Starcraft 2

Computer games can be time wasters when we’re just playing against a computer. MMOs tend to be a waste in the absence of an end goal in an environment that’s deliberately designed to be aimless and addictive.

Games of strategy, however, tend to exercise the mind and spirit, especially when your opponents are other humans. This is a role Starcraft II fills admirably with its server packed with thousands of people, a game against fresh opponents always ready to play in a few seconds. Each match has clear objectives and an ending, unlike MMOs. In an hour one can play 3-4 different matches finding out what works and what does not.
One quickly finds even at the lowest level of play human opponents are far more dangerous and unpredictable than any AI.
About every 15-25 minutes you can go through life’s conflicts in miniature. It doesn’t take long to see certain patterns emerge, that certain philosophies work optimally while others are mediocre or fail outright.
I will try to list some of the lessons I’ve learned from starcraft that have proved valuable in real life:

1. Experience trumps wits.   Some idiot who’s simply spent more time playing the game will beat you when you’re new, no matter how fast and clever you think you are. You might think you’re smart, but it’s not as much an advantage as you think if you haven’t put in the time and effort.
Coasting on raw ability alone fails miserably in a contest that relies on learned skills. An ordinary guy who knows an optimal build order to execute a sound strategy will destroy a genius who’s trying to figure everything out for the first time.
This is why there’s plenty of average joes doing well in life while everyone knows that “smart” guy who’s losing at life.
Starcraft 2 teaches there’s no such thing as “potential” only results.

2. Success is a numbers game. You have to lose (a lot) to ever be a winner. As you get better the matchup will try to move you up the ladder to people who are your equal or better in ability.
You lose your ego fast when you constantly go up against opponents who you’ll lose to half the time. You’re never allowed to just stay comfortable crushing people who are below you. Every time a new game begins, you’re up against someone you can’t take lightly. By the time you learn enough to play even half decently, you’ve suffered dozens of humiliating defeats and know what it feels like when the winner decides to be an asshole.
Even if you get good, you know there’s no shortage of people who can slap you around effortlessly. You realize gloating in victory is for children who know little of life. A real life Big Man is above such silliness.

3. Time is the most important resource. A dumbass who’s simply faster than you will destroy you every time. If you aren’t ready when he comes for you, if you can’t react fast enough, that’s it, you’re dead. All your boasting and bragging how you’re a master strategist is for naught. Knowing kung fu makes no difference if you’re dropped right away by a swift punch to the jaw.
Imagine getting extra moves in chess! You’d be able to destroy players monumentally smarter and more skilled than you. The day is often decided simply by getting there first with the most.
The importance of time in deciding conflict can’t be doubted if we glance at the American Civil War. A bit more speed would have prevented the rebel armies from uniting at Manassas. A bit more speed could have threatened Washington after First Manassas. A bit more speed could have destroyed Lee’s army at Gettysburg. Longstreet saved Lee from defeat at The Wilderness by arriving at exactly the right time. A little more speed and there would have been no months-long siege of Petersburg…
Starcraft drills this lesson into your head mercilessly. If you’re playing terran and that bunker is completed just a few seconds too late before that zerg rush hits, it’s game over.

4. To everything there’s a golden mean. Goldilocks and Aristotle had the right idea. Too aggressive, you die. Not aggressive enough, you die. Starcraft teaches you the hard way to have a feel for exactly what kind of approach a situation calls for. When we’re first learning to drive a car, we sway back and forth in the lane, compensating then overcompensating. Soon, we drive straight.
In real life, though, we tend to make a major mistake that causes us to overcompensate to an equally faulty extreme. Then we waste years of our lives compounding our error until continuation becomes so painful we’re forced to re-evaluate our strategy. A few decades later, the lucky among us are finally able to drive that car somewhat competently, the rest never learn.
With starcraft, it becomes possible to see a model of that grand learning process in miniature.

5. Your brilliant ideas mean nothing until you try to execute them. Even a simple plan falls apart when you’re under pressure. Being adaptable in the moment is more valuable than making grandiose complicated plans. This is why armchair generals fail. A game like starcraft becomes a laboratory to test your hypotheses about what will work and what will not.
In real life, we can’t formulate a philosophy and then have a series of 20 minute tests to see if it really works as a guide to our actions. But starcraft allows us to come somewhat close to that. Through trial and error we learn that some approaches are objectively better than others. After trying something 20 times and getting your ass kicked every time, you’re forced to stop rationalizing. That approach doesn’t work. Now, no demagogue, ideologue, or politician will ever convince you otherwise; you’re immune to their poisonous talk of relativism because you’ve experienced objective truth for yourself, often painfully.
In real life, winning conflict requires the same principles as engineering. You want the simplest, lowest investment solution that effectively solves the problem. The more complexity, the more points of failure. Evolution shows us this philosophy is one of the underlying laws of reality. A “fit” living thing accomplishes its goals as efficiently as possible with as few points of failure as possible.
The pages of history are littered with egotistical generals who broke this universal law, thinking themselves military geniuses to the bitter end.

6. Always go for decisive objectives that put your opponent under mortal threat, which forces him to try to stop you with all his resources. As with chess, you want to risk your army for proportionate gains. A new player might wreck his opponent’s new expansion base only to find his own main base is now being gutted. Dealing a painful but not mortal blow allows the opponent to retaliate—and they might well kill rather than wound you. If the opponent is constantly forced to prevent unacceptable losses, you control the game. It’s hard to be aggressive in chess when the King keeps getting put into check! If you can seize the initiative, you’ll usually win.

7. The line between defeat and victory is a narrow one. If you forget detectors, that could cost you the game when cloaked units show up. One small oversight and you instantly lose the game, even if you were otherwise in a position to finish your opponent. In real life, battles both literal and figurative are often decided by the smallest mistakes. This is another great lesson that crushes the ego. It’s hard to be an arrogant victor when you’re keenly aware one small mistake would have reversed the outcome.

8. Decisiveness wins. Even the poorest strategy will sometimes succeed if someone commits to it completely and without hesitation. With indecisiveness, we divide and conquer ourselves. In real life, a weak faction like the North Vietnamese can defeat even an overwhelmingly strong faction that is indecisive, uncommitted, with no clear objectives. Without a clear mission to fulfill or a clear course of action to achieve it, there is no such thing as victory.

9. Starcraft teaches us to be less critical of those who have great responsibility. Even a mere game that shows how easy it is to screw up teaches perspective. Bad luck and small mistakes can easily bring disaster even to the competent. Even those who prove incompetent at the highest levels often stand far above the average guy on the street. You begin to realize that herdbeasts who mock and complain endlessly about their betters are just misbehaving children. They have never known leadership or great responsibility themselves yet deign to criticize as if they were equals.

Conclusion:
Starcraft 2 is certainly not a perfect microcosm of real life. For one thing, the playing field is far too orderly and predictable. We never have that much information when making real decisions. If two opponents played 100 different strategy games against each other for the very first time barely knowing the rules, that would be much more like real life. In fact, I think sloppy bronze league play may simulate real life best. But the controlled environment of starcraft allows us to test ideas more extensively. It invites us to reflect on our own lives and contemplate how the mindset we learn playing battle after battle applies to real conflicts we face.
Looking over the battlefield, what are the most effective actions we can take to defeat the obstacles before us? What objectives are vital and which are distractions?
Many now seem to view life as some kind of sentimental TV drama, but to me it is perhaps just another game, the Great Game.

terran, wall, 6 pool, cheese, stop, block

Terran wall blocks early game allins such as Zerg’s “6 pool”. The SCV stands by to repair any attempts to make a breach. Reacting quickly and keeping cool under pressure is critical to survival.

The 3 Keys To Anglo Success

Anglo societies have succeeded tremendously over the last few centuries, but this success hasn’t meant good lives for individuals.  The secret to Anglo success has been squeezing individual men to work as hard as possible for even moderate levels of success, generating more wealth for the nation as a whole.  Getting the best wine grapes or the best hydroponic pot is about forcing the plants to respond to pressure by trying their hardest and producing their best.  Anglo society, likewise, is built on systematic sexual repression.

1. Picky Women

Through their natural sexual power, women are the de facto police force of culture.  What they desire, men clamor to give them.  Anglo women are among the pickiest on the planet.  Maybe it was the long winters combined with high population density, but whatever the reasons, we know Anglo society is intensely competitive.  If you want to get one plain Jane to consider having your kids, a car and house is the minimum price tag.  As many have noted, this basic entry ticket is no longer any guarantee.  You better stand out in some way and have at least local notability.

The Victorian period never really went away.  Anglo women are still prissy, fussy, picky creatures looking to disqualify all the men around them for a mispronounced vowel or an unfastened coat button. They’re as neurotic and unhappy as they ever were—it’s in their blood. Then as now, they obsess over their waistlines, shrinking away from anything substantial to eat while secretly cramming down starchy biscuits and gallons of heavily sugared and creamed tea.  We still indulge in upper middle class Victorian fantasies of innocent childhood and cute pets dripping with sickeningly sweet sentimental syrup.  What are modern peanut allergies and asthma but the product of Victorian smothering parenting?  What are suburbs but the happy ending of a Dickens novel?

Modern neurotic middle class Anglos do a fine job of keeping the tradition alive as sweat beads on their brow whenever someone uses the wrong fork, grit their teeth whenever someone forgets to say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’, or rush to clean out every last dust mote from their house and turn on the Enya music on low volume before one visitor arrives.

While women of other cultures get just enough wealth to have kids, and then have them, Anglo women demand every man build her a bower to her precise specifications until it becomes a never-ending Babel.  The kids never arrive. The insufferable females that once drove men to conquer the entire planet do little more than foster barren marriages in an age of birth control. If this was once the impetus behind Anglo greatness, it’s now a central cause of its decline.

White women are also more selective, neurotic, and bitchy than any other kind because being picky was necessary for survival. If you just need a wet hole, chasing white women doesn’t make any sense.  Until you’re an elite man, you can almost always find a better deal in the arms of a dark-skinned woman. Any British soldier of the Victorian period sent off to the colonies would readily attest to this.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

2. Prudery

Anglo culture has long been intensely prudish.  For at least a couple centuries, Anglos have been taught myths of courtly love instead of real skills in getting laid.  This trend started to catch on in the middle ages and by the late 18th century, we have Jane Austen.
Prostitution is kept to the margins or outlawed as much as possible.  Fanatical devotion to depriving men of sexual outlets outside of the official monopoly is perhaps the foundation of Anglo dominance.  It’s all part of the plan to have men work their little hearts out for just a little taste of honey.

They would have removed liquor too if they could have so that a workhorse’s only solace in life would be the act of mounting a homely plow mare as his reward for spending every waking minute destroying his competitors.  As it is, alcohol, especially binge drinking, plays a special role in Anglo culture as almost the only (grudgingly) accepted vice.  Possibly even the most straight-lace Anglos would go insane without the alcoholic outlet.  Even Victorians could more readily indulge in tobacco and opium than our modern SWPL prudes.  Today, with even alcohol less tolerated, binge eating takes the place of binge drinking as possibly the last permitted vice.

I’ve always wondered that Westerners created a science of economics yet never applied the same principles to sexual markets.
It’s a testament to the stubborn prudery of Anglo nations that there never was a ‘sexenomics’ until enough disposable males had access to mass networks. Even when it came to the sciences, prude Anglos and like-minded Westerners felt compelled to strategically cover up one particular area with a well-placed fig leaf.

3. Snobbery

You’re not white until you earn $30,000 a year, and that’s just entry level. To really be white, European blood is not enough.  You better have the car, that house in the suburbs, and the obligatory white collar job complete with white rumpled-up button-up shirts and ill-fitting khakis. You don’t have that, forget it. You’re what was once known as a “scalawag” today more commonly called “trash.” Part of the Anglo formula for success is casting out those who don’t make the cut.  If they can’t be gotten rid of in distant colonies or wars, make them live and breed in a separate underclass.

Are you white trash?  Don’t try to deny it just because you have that useless degree.  It pays to own up to it.  If you’re realistic, you’ll see you have more interests in common with Mexicans and blacks than with your overseers and the planter aristocracy.

Hard experience has taught me a key truth.
White is a social, cultural, economic movement.
European is a group of related ethnicities that share common traits, pale skin among them.  Getting the two confused leads to endless strife.  Until you understand who you really are, you can’t live life as you should.

Conclusion

Many seem to mourn the decline of the old Anglo culture, but I for one am happy to see it go.  It always was just another exploitative system that took advantage of men with limited access to information.
The classic Victorian Anglo culture can’t continue to exist among a population of males informed of market conditions on the internet—it has become obsolete.

Even Ben Franklin in the 18th century lamented that white men fled over the Anglo socio-sexual Berlin Wall to live with the Indians whenever they could.  If anything, this problem was just one more reason Anglo society and the Indians couldn’t co-exist.  That Franklin’s very name means “Freedman” a peasant who beat all the odds and made it into the very small skilled middle classes speaks for itself.

The problem with a repressive system is that it collapses as soon as a better alternative becomes available or can even be imagined!  The Anglo system took over the entire world, an impressive feat.  But I am an individual, not a monolithic society.  I care about getting the best deal for myself, just like the men who fled to Indian tribes in colonial America.
Any new system that lasts must take the interests of human beings into account.  In an age of information, no longer can deception be the foundation of a social order.

A Tale of Two Debtors: Britain and France After the American Revolution

By the 1780s, France and Britain had approximately the same debt after spending huge sums fighting over the American colonies.

One recovered and the other collapsed into revolution.

The difference was their systems of finance and taxation.

While the outstanding war debts may have been the same, the interest rates were not.

Bourbon France had to pay twice as much interest on its loans as did the British. And that made all the difference.

To begin with, the English system relied far more on indirect taxes and tariffs for its income.
The French system meanwhile focused on many direct taxes that ended up discouraging economic growth.

The result was that by the time of the French Revolution, England yielded more tax revenue despite having only 1/2 the population of France.

Britain and France were set apart most of all by their systems of credit.

England had relied on the world’s 1st national bank since 1694 to efficiently raise large long term loans. At the same time, new loans kept flowing and interest rates dropped because the English parliament had the power to consistently raise enough taxes. The stability of this system drew in a steady steam of further capital from Dutch investors.

The French crown on the other hand relied on a host of middle men—tax farmers, nobles, high ranked clergy, lenders, and merchants for loans, at high rates of interest.
Without a central source to consolidate its loans, the crown found itself struggling to raise money quickly, keep track of its loans, or pay interest.

Worse, in the French system of direct tax farming, it was more profitable to farm taxes and loan out advances than it was to start businesses and engage in productive industry.
The French system encouraged parasitic plunder while stifling real economic growth that would produce more wealth in the long run.
Wealth ended up being gradually drained from the economy even as the French national debt skyrocketed with each successive war…

Paraphrased and summarized from:

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
Paul Kennedy, 1987
Pages 76-86

 

UK public debt from National Bank founding to modern times

 

French Debt Until the French Revolution

French Debt Until The French Revolution

Italians do it better !

Our tank is way hotter than yours.

Who needs Abrams anyway ?

Beware those fearsome Venetian Secessionists!

Thoughts On the Ukraine Crisis

I honestly don’t see the need for war.
Ukraine has been paralyzed by conflict between ethnic Ukrainians and Russians since the collapse of the USSR.
I think the government in Kiev is actually better off without them.
My guess for now is parts of Eastern Ukraine, especially Crimea, could end up going back to Russia.
The Russians get to be part of impoverished Russia.
The western part is finally freed to become part of Europe and to join the rich EU.
Russia gains a bit more territory but at the cost of becoming even more diplomatically and economically isolated.  Even more relegated to being a mere commodity provider for rich countries.
It’s not a good move for Russia.
They may actually be doing the Ukrainians a huge favor.
Perhaps the Russian leadership are savvy enough to understand that pressing this issue won’t help them beyond a certain point and are again posturing in an attempt to boost public opinion at home and boost their appearance of prestige abroad.
Yanukovych was Putin’s man in Kiev.  He was an ethnic Russian from the East who wasn’t even fully fluent in Ukrainian, a shortcoming which made him the George W. Bush of Ukraine, sticking his foot in his mouth at every opportunity.
Irrepressible protests arose after he tried to distance Ukraine from the EU in November and there was a revolution that completely ousted him from power.
I find it odd that present news reports barely even mention the Ukrainian revolution that drove Putin to invade Ukraine.
With events out of context, few seem to understand that Putin is the desperate man, trying to salvage what he can from a wreck beyond all repair.
Ukraine is lost to him forever now and it’s only a matter of time now until it becomes part of the EU and NATO.
Putin will seize what scraps he can but even those will come at a precipitous price.  He spent the last 20 years trying to keep the former Soviet Republics in his orbit, so it’s understandable he’s not acting completely rationally.
I’ve looked at an ethnic map of the Ukraine and have understood that ethnic Russians are barely 1/5 of Ukraine’s population. They’re concentrated in the East.  Crimea is the only part of the entire country that’s majority ethnic Russian.  That may well be the only part that goes back to Russia.
I can see people making comparisons to Sudetenland concessions, but I find them ridiculous.  Nazi Germany was an economic powerhouse while Putin’s Russia is a sick man of Europe.
In time, even Russia will be pulled into the economic vortex that is Europe; even their political power plays will amount to nothing, like one tiny person trying to swim against the current of a river.

 

Percent Ethnic Russians in Ukraine Provinces

Plato, Democracy, and Mob Rule

By the 4th century BC, civilizations had already existed for at least a couple thousand years.
By then, most of the basic patterns of civilization were ancient news.

Plato’s observations about governments over 2,000 years ago might seem disturbingly familiar to us now.

Humans may boast of mechanical technologies such as airplanes and atomic bombs, but social technology, the ways we organize haven’t changed since the very first farming villages:

“Every form of government tends to perish by excess of its basic principle.  Aristocracy ruins itself by limiting too narrowly the circle within which power is confined; oligarchy ruins itself by the incautious scramble for immediate wealth.  In either case the end is revolution.   When revolution comes, it may seem to arise from little causes and petty whims…when a body is weakened by neglected ills, the merest exposure may bring serious disease.

Then democracy comes…But even democracy ruins itself by excess-of democracy.  Its basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy.  This is at first glance a delightful arrangement; it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses.

As to the people, they have no understanding, and only repeat what their rulers are pleased to tell them.  To get a doctrine accepted or rejected it is only necessary to have it praised or ridiculed in a popular play.
Mob-rule is a rough sea for the  ship of state to ride; every wind of oratory stirs up the waters and deflects the course.

The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so loves flattery…that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the ‘protector of the people’ rises to supreme power.

Plato complains that whereas in simpler matters—like shoe-making—we think only a specially-trained person will serve our purpose, in politics we presume that every one who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state.  When we are ill we call for a trained physician, whose degree is a guarantee of specific preparation and technical competence—we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one…when the whole state is ill should we not look for the service and guidance of the wisest and the best?   To devise a method of barring incompetence and knavery from public office, and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good—that is the problem of political philosophy.”

-Plato as quoted, paraphrased, and summarized by Will Durant

The Story of Philosophy
Will Durant, 1953, Pocket Books, Washington Square Press
Excerpts from pages 20-21

How Trends In Education Forecast the Decline of the Roman Republic

“If we bear in mind the principles that governed the education of young men in Rome…
These derived chiefly from tradition, from the way in which the son of a country landowner gradually adapted himself to his father’s lifestyle accompanying him on journeys, observing everything he did, and then attempting to do it himself under his father’s supervision.  It amounted essentially to learning by observation and imitation…
This kind of education was continued in the city too, above all in politics, the chief sphere of activity for members of the nobility.

The nobility appreciated the importance of this largely practical patriarchal education.  This is clear from an edict issued by the censors in 92 BC, banning recently opened schools…

We have been informed that certain persons there have instituted a new kind of training for the young…the young who attend their schools are said to spend whole days in idleness.  Our ancestors determined what children should learn and what schools they should attend.  This new fashion, which is at variance with the uses and customs of our ancestors, neither pleases us nor appears to us right…

Whole days spent at school turned young noblemen into schoolboys, alienated from practical life and forced them into idleness.  Instead of being confronted as individuals with models to be emulated, they were thrown together with their own kind and with teachers.
The young gentlemen were offered little that could command their respect…
What probably told most heavily against the schools was that they estranged the young from their natural environment…

Preparation for adult life did not allow the growing boy much chance to enjoy a carefree childhood and youth.  Many demands were made on him, but this meant that at an early age he was taken seriously.”

Caesar: A Biography
Christian Meier, 1982
Excerpts taken from pages 58-60

My Commentary:
Observe how today’s education system infantilizes young adults, separates them from the adult world, and leaves them with other young people as their role models instead of mature people who’ve gone out into the world and accomplished.
The result is a petty royal court culture in schools ruled by a few top athletes and cheer leaders who’ve never done anything to earn their high stations.  What lesson does undeserved adulation for an aristocracy of useless socialites teach growing children about merit and hard work?
A republic that adopts such a system goes into decline as it slips into this indulgent debauchery, wasting its human capital before it’s even budded.

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