Coding Freedom: a review

My usual audience is well aware why I am qualified to review Gabriella Coleman’s book, Coding Freedom, but since I suspect this post might reach a bit beyond my usual audience I will restate the obvious. I have been operating as the hacker culture’s resident ethnographer since around 1990, consciously applying the techniques of anthropological fieldwork (at least as I understood them) to analyze the operation of that culture and explain it to others. Those explanations have been tested in the real world with large consequences, including helping the hacker culture break out of its ghetto and infect everything that software touches with subversive ideas about open processes, transparency, peer review, and the power of networked collaboration.

Ever since I began doing my own ethnographic work on the hacker culture from the inside as a participant, I have keenly felt the lack of any comparable observation being done by outsiders formally trained in the techniques of anthropological fieldwork. I’m an amateur, self-trained by reading classic anthropological studies and a few semesters of college courses; I know relatively little theory, and have had to construct my own interpretative frameworks in the absence of much knowledge about how a professional would do it.

Sadly, the main thing I learned from reading Gabriella Coleman’s new book, Coding Freedom, is that my ignorance may actually have been a good thing for the quality of my results. The insight in this book is nearly smothered beneath a crushing weight of jargon and theoretical elaboration, almost all of which appears to be completely useless except as a sort of point-scoring academic ritual that does less than nothing to illuminate its ostensible subject.

This is doubly unfortunate because Coleman very obviously means well and feels a lot of respect and sympathy for the people and the culture she was studying – on the few occasions that she stops overplaying the game of academic erudition she has interesting things to say about them. It is clear that she is natively a shrewd observer whose instincts have been only numbed – not entirely destroyed – by the load of baggage she is carrying around.

I should give a representative example of the kind of theoretical smother I mean. A major theme in Coleman’s analysis is a contrast between two notions of individualism: one of which she labels “liberal” and associates with economic minimaxing and rational selfishness, and another which she describes as “Millsian” or “romantic” and associates with ideals of self-expressiveness and the Aristotelian idea of eudaemonia. She detects both these notions in hacker culture, and spills a lot of ink discussing what she supposes to be a tension between them.

What Coleman never notices is that this is not a tension the hackers she is observing actually experience – there isn’t any sort of unresolved personal or cultural problem here for her subjects, who cheerfully go on both pursuing their rational self-interests and expressing eudaemonia without feeling any strain between the two. The ‘problem’ is entirely an artifact of her theory; she thinks there must be tension or paradox because the words in her head insist that these are opposing ideals that are in conflict. Her maps have rendered her unable to see the territory.

There is another, larger failure in the same vein. The thesis that eventually becomes the center of the book is that hackers have revealed “a conflict between cherished liberal values” with respect to software, one value being property rights and the other being freedom of expression. Coleman then hares off into political science and history without noticing that, again, her map fails to match the territory – the critique of intellectual property uttered by many of her hacker subjects has nothing to do with this supposed opposition.

What she misses is the libertarian critique that so-called “intellectual property” rights are illegitimate because they grant state-enforced monopolies that would neither arise nor be defensible as natural property rights in a free market. I am not sure I buy this one myself, but my skepticism and the grounds for it aren’t relevant here; the relevant fact is that many other hackers do buy it, and that this critique attacks IP in a more fundamental way than a free-speech objection does.

On this account there is no contradiction, merely a failure of liberal values to successfully assert themselves against overweening statism (or, in versions flavored with left-wing language, corporate oligopoly). The “free speech” argument ceases being the principled ground of objection and becomes a tactical hack of the legal system, parallel to the way the GPL repurposes a copyright system that it in principle rejects.

Coleman is so busy churning up abstractions about “liberalism” and “neoliberalism” that she never notices any of this. My point here is not to argue that the libertarian critique is more correct than the free-speech one she is valorizing (I’m not sure I believe that, anyway) but to point out that not noticing or engaging it at all is a failure of ethnographic method, another place where she mistakes her own incomplete map for the territory and stops seeing what is actually there.

Far too much of the book exhibits this kind of theory-induced blindness. I am inclined to blame not Coleman for it but rather the people who trained and indoctrinated her in how to think and write like a ‘real’ anthropologist. If Coding Freedom is really the sort of book anthropology wants its bright young things to emit, the field is in desperately bad shape – far too inward-looking, over-abstract, mired in self-reference and tail-chasing, obsessed with politicized modes of non-explanation. I would actually prefer the theory that Coleman is a dimwit who has emitted a sort of unintentional parody of real anthropology if I could make myself believe it, but I can’t – her best moments seem too lucid for that.

She is very perceptive, for example, about the central role of hacker humor in promoting social bonding and affirming the culture’s values (I’ve explored this theme myself). Her ground-level reporting about the emotional atmosphere of hacker conferences and demonstrations is acute. Her discussion of how hackers as a culture have bootstrapped themselves to a state of legal literacy in order to fight their corner of the intellectual-property wars gives one of the gifts that ethnography should – to help us see how remarkable and interesting are practices we might otherwise take for granted.

There is even one significant thing I learned from this book, or at least learned to see in a new way. I hadn’t noticed before how ritualized the practice of writing damning comments about bad code is. Coleman is right that they display a level of pointed and deliberate rudeness that their authors would not employ face-to-face, and she is right about how and why the culture gives permission for this behavior.

What these good parts have in common is that they are far less theory-laden than the rest. When observation wins out over abstraction Coleman is well worth reading. But this happens too seldom.

I still want the book this should have been. It would have been better with all refererences to literary theorists and philosophers brutally ripped out of it and much more of the unaffected reportorial eye. But it may well be that a book less determinedly flogging empty signifiers of academic erudition would have been a functional failure for Ms. Coleman, as it wouldn’t have earned her a doctorate. If so…so much the worse for the academy.

290 thoughts on “Coding Freedom: a review

  1. “the field is in desperately bad shape – far too inward-looking, over-abstract, mired in self-reference and tail-chasing, obsessed with politicized modes of non-explanation.”

    Just like the rest of academia, too detached from reality to actually be useful.

  2. @ESR RE: Libertarian intellectual property you typed ” I am not sure I buy this one myself, but my skepticism and the grounds for it aren’t relevant here;”

    Always being curious when a mind like yours disagrees or seemingly disagrees with a mind like mine. Have you laid the grounds out elsewhere? If so, where? If not, perhaps in passing here?

    In a free market society I can see a tamed down trademark system to prevent fraud and confusion (These are things that people value almost universally), and I can see a limited sort of “fair-go” clause as part of a writers guild or other professional society serving creative occupations, but I can’t (or at least haven’t yet) imagined something like copyright that would limit all members of a society.

  3. A meta discussion possibly missing WRT “property rights vs freedom of expression” is academic plagiarism WRT BSD license. The BSD (without advertising clause) is academic plagiarism-permissive while the GPL forbids at the copyright level most forms of academic plagiarism. In her culture that’s even more incomprehensible than being politically incorrect.

    I’m not trying to declare one is better, but to point out very clearly that its like a “protocol level incompatibility” between traditional academic plagiarism rules and what is permitted by the BSD. Its perfectly possible to correctly cite BSD code in an academic paper. Its also possible to break plagiarism rules when using BSD code while at the same time not breaking copyright laws. I can’t think of a way at this time to incorrectly “use” GPL code in an academic paper without simultaneously breaking copyright laws.

    As an academic-type, this “might” be the source of some of her tension in that one weird area.

  4. Copyright as it exist now is fundamentally incompatible with democracy and libertarianism.

    Think about it: as bandwidth is growing and it becomes easier and easier to share you need to install more and more intrusive “copyright-checkers” if you ever hope to prevent illegal sharing.

    To enforce copyright you need to build “chinese firewall plus”: a system which censors not just interaction over internet, but ALL means of communication. It should control you ability to send photo to you’r mom’s phone using NFC, it should control your ability to VC with your grandmother and it should control how you are observing your newborn – because left unchecked all these (and many other) forms of communication may be used to illegally share programs and texts.

    Now, if you’ve built system which monitors any and all forms of communication and which controls everything and anything and which is controlled by state – how long do you think people will keep using it ONLY to enforce copyright and NOT to suppress anything else? After all if you have the system which can stop propagation of 1984 (because it started from illegal “owner”) it’s easy to reuse it to stop propagation The Gulag Archipelago or any other book you don’t like.

    Ultimately it’s impossible to create a system with total control and surveillance and which is still democratic and free.

  5. Pingback: Anthropology of the hacker community « Quotulatiousness

  6. >Copyright as it exist now is fundamentally incompatible with democracy and libertarianism.

    All you’re doing is repeating a variant of the libertarian critique. If you think this is a useful thing to do, you missed the point of my review.

  7. I haven’t read the book, but I have noticed that some folks have very funky ideas about “freedom” because they haven’t experienced it. It’s possible to reach adulthood without the experience of tinkering around independently. Writing a program, figuring out how to dispose of graywater at a camp site, or — my god — all the little emergencies of running a business. Relying on your own resources to solve problems when there actually *isn’t* a protocol or a superior you can follow obediently. I have met many intelligent, conscientious people who have never done anything like that. And they generally haven’t the faintest idea what people mean when they talk about “freedom.” If you don’t know what it’s like to decide what to do on your own, you won’t have a clue why some people are so keen on continuing the practice!

  8. Since you briefly mention the subject of hacker humor I figure this is as good a place as any to ask this.

    Over the years that I have been absorbing the Jargon File I have immediately groked most of the entry for hacker humor but this section of it I can not:

    5. A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive currents of intelligence in it — for example, old Warner Brothers and Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, the Marx brothers, the early B-52s, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Humor that combines this trait with elements of high camp and slapstick is especially favored.

    I have always liked the items listed (that I have seen) but I fail to understand the meaning of “subversive currents of intelligence”, perhaps I am mistaking these for “mindless humor”?

    – Foo Quuxman

  9. “the field is in desperately bad shape – far too inward-looking, over-abstract, mired in self-reference and tail-chasing, obsessed with politicized modes of non-explanation.”

    I think this is true of all academic fields that are not forced to interact with the real world – for example, literary criticism and deconstructionism (ref the Sokal affair ). When the research is done primarily for other people in the field, you get an incestuous spiral that leads almost inevitably to the kind of nonsense you reference.

    Engineering and some of the hard science disciplines seem to be immune to this, primarily because they have to check in with reality.

    -pr

  10. A case in point to support Eric’s statement that it only looks mindless: My mother didn’t think much of cartoons…until I showed her one of the first Animaniacs shorts, with a throwaway line “I haven’t been this upset since we made Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead!”. She fell in love. That’s the kind of subversive current Eric’s referring to: a 10-year-old would find it funny, but an adult would find the extra layer of humor underneath.

  11. A paradigm shift is underway in anthropological research. The traditional approach is evidence, observation, analysis, and interpretation; all of which are focused on real-world data. And whereas the archeological data has been comparatively meager for physical anthropology; within the realm of cultural anthropology, the data stream is huge and growing exponentially in volume. It’s becoming a bit like cosmology, the universe is full of countless stars and making sense of it all often times requires new tools, methods, and theories.

    In this context, game theory modeling is somewhat analogous to string theory mathematics. An abstract (and computer based) analytical framework is now being used to examine the evolutionary development of societal attributes and traits. It is not only giving us insight into how we got where we are, but can associate probabilities with future trends.

  12. @ ESR- / Re: WorBlux-

    I am not sure I buy this one myself, but my skepticism and the grounds for it aren’t relevant here; the relevant fact is that many other hackers do buy it,

    Always being curious when a mind like yours disagrees or seemingly disagrees with a mind like mine. Have you laid the grounds out elsewhere? If so, where?

    I second this request; as one of the “many other hackers [who] do buy it” I would be fascinated to read any well-reasoned critique in favor of strong copyrights and/or patents. Given the passion with which the topic is approached, either a pointer or later post on the topic would be highly appreciated.

  13. @Alex K:

    I would be fascinated to read any well-reasoned critique in favor of strong copyrights and/or patents.

    I hate to have to agree with Stallman, but patents and copyrights are completely different animals. You can put something in your own words and avoid a copyright problem. With the current patent regime, there doesn’t appear to be anything you can do to avoid a patent problem.

  14. I think even the libertarian critique you’ve outlined falls a bit short. Even if defensible “intellectual property” monopolies *could* arise in a state of nature (for example, through the use of magical DRM) we shouldn’t promote them, because they destroy more value than they create.

    I would love to hear more of Eric’s thoughts on copyright.

  15. >I would love to hear more of Eric’s thoughts on copyright.

    Fourthed.

    – Foo Quuxman

  16. @Patrick Maupin:

    I hate to have to agree with Stallman, but patents and copyrights are completely different animals.

    I agree on the argument [copyright and patents are separate] but not the feeling ["hate to agree"] — then again, I always have on my mind the phrase “A stopped clock is right twice a day” when listening to any cultish speaker. Just because the cult members have shut down their critical faculties doesn’t mean you should do the same and dismiss their claims wholesale. (Granted, it very well might not be worth the effort to separate the pearls from the dross, but that’s a different question.)

    In part, it was this distinction that piqued my curiosity to hear Eric’s arguments on the topic — his use of “intellectual property” rather than specifically “patent” or “copyright” makes me wonder whether his arguments cover both (or if he was just repeating terms used by the book under review).

  17. ” With the current patent regime, there doesn’t appear to be anything you can do to avoid a patent problem.”

    Three things:
    1) Find a better way.
    2) Wait it out.
    3) License it.

  18. I have always liked the items listed (that I have seen) but I fail to understand the meaning of “subversive currents of intelligence”, perhaps I am mistaking these for “mindless humor”?

    A great illustrative example from more modern times is the MTV cartoon Beavis and Butt-head. On its surface it seems to be about these two morons, and things morons think are funny or cool, so lots of scatological humor and that sort of thing. But at a deeper level, the audience is supposed to know they’re morons and laugh at their stupidity. There’s also critique of the abusiveness of the American school system, the mindlessness of pop culture, etc. so it attracted quite a few intelligent fans. I was just barely there to see the fall of USENET; and when alt.tv.beavis-n-butthead was a vibrant group, engineers and Ph.D.s would regularly be seen posting there.

  19. Sounds pretty USA centric to me. FLOSS stands with one leg in NW Europe (KDE, Linux, Python). Libertarianism is almost absent there. Free Speech discussion also work out different in Europe.

  20. > ignorance may actually have been a good thing for the quality of my results

    Autodidacticism in Ethiopia.

    > because the words in her head insist that these are opposing ideals

    Did she assume self-interest is always selfish, thus opposing the ideal of a better world, and/or that individual economic considerations conflict with expression?

    If I understand correctly, your writings have elucidated that open source participants build their networked reputation and experience value while contributing. The economic opportunities follow the success of such individualized freedom, because the open source model produces higher-quality software. Software is alive and the increased degrees-of-freedom (of the model) yields more robust adaption and fitness. Better software makes a better world.

    > What she misses is the libertarian critique that so-called “intellectual property”
    > rights are illegitimate because they grant state-enforced monopolies

    I was confused perhaps because I did not know who were the “liberals” (now I know not Democrats but libertarians) and whether they were for or against property rights. I read to the bottom of page 3 of her book (free copy online), then I realized that you are pointing out that libertarians want free market property rights, but some don’t want property rights that must be enforced by the state.

    I don’t understand how a copyright is different from a free market contract? Don’t like the copyright terms, then don’t use the resource.

    The problem with patents is someone may employ an algorithm and not even know they’ve implicitly opted into a contract. It is an unreasonable cost to productivity to be sure one hasn’t opted in.

  21. > 5. A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive currents of intelligence in it

    Is this fondness a subconscious parody that transposes the seriousness (overly self-important) exterior corporate image and inferior interior code of opaque-source software?

  22. Sounds pretty USA centric to me. FLOSS stands with one leg in NW Europe (KDE, Linux, Python). Libertarianism is almost absent there. Free Speech discussion also work out different in Europe.

    Which side of the Atlantic was the first to develop a “Pirate Party”?

    Libertarian arguments against IP are prominent in Europe’s hacker community, despite that continent’s relative lack of Ron Paul types.

  23. >Which side of the Atlantic was the first to develop a “Pirate Party”?

    Sweden … ?
    I don’t see your point.

  24. Sweden … ?
    I don’t see your point.

    Property-rights libertarianism is almost exclusively an American thing, but the sort of libertarianism that hackers use to argue against onerous IP law is worldwide, and comes from the same place in the global hacker community.

  25. @JEff Read
    “Libertarian arguments against IP are prominent in Europe’s hacker community, despite that continent’s relative lack of Ron Paul types.”

    Whether these arguments are libertarian can be argued. There are more political ideas incompatible with strong IP enforcement and Corporalism.

  26. @kn:

    Instead of interpreting “libertarian” as “ignorant hicks”, read it as “concerned with liberty”. The Pirate Party is an exemplar of that attitude, and even inspires us rustic backwoods rednecks in the USA.

    Although to be honest I think your confusion is an example of the fact that the libertarian brand has been ruined by association with “conservatism”. As much as the old farts of libertarianism will decry this suggestion as “giving up”, we need to come up with something else to call it.

  27. @jess
    >Instead of interpreting “libertarian” as “ignorant hicks”, read it as “concerned with liberty”. The Pirate Party is an exemplar of that attitude, and even inspires us rustic backwoods rednecks in the USA.

    Where in those those 6 words i wrote did you manage to read all that ?

  28. Instead of interpreting “libertarian” as “ignorant hicks”, read it as “concerned with liberty”. The Pirate Party is an exemplar of that attitude, and even inspires us rustic backwoods rednecks in the USA.

    Although to be honest I think your confusion is an example of the fact that the libertarian brand has been ruined by association with “conservatism”. As much as the old farts of libertarianism will decry this suggestion as “giving up”, we need to come up with something else to call it.

    I am completely at a loss that someone claiming to be an American could write this, it is so out of phase with reality. No, the libertarian brand has been ruined by association with the Libertarian (not the capital ‘L’) Party. As in, crooks, cranks and downright unhinged loons. And I say this as someone with strong libertarian leanings who is nevertheless a registered Republican.

    I think Eric may need to go back and do some clarification to help bridge the comprehension gap here. (What do you mean by “libertarian”, anyway? etc)

  29. I’m not a Monty Python fan, but when you mentioned the subversive subtext, I thought of How Not to Be Seen. It definitely has a subtext of the people in charge may not be on your side with added specificity of when they aren’t on your side, they give you advice that’s impossible to follow.

  30. >Property-rights libertarianism is almost exclusively an American thing, but the sort of libertarianism that hackers use to argue against onerous IP law is worldwide, and comes from the same place in the global hacker community.

    I’ll give you that much of the discourse uses USA-style libertarian vocabulary and theory, but maybe that’s just because that’s the most developed, or the easiest on the ear of today’s audiences.
    It seems to me that hackers will just borrow whatever argumentation, ideas and theories that lets them do what they want to do without artificial hurdles : Previously, we had the “free software, free society” discourse by rms, today it’s property rights argumentation from libertarianism, tomorrow it could well be something else if that happens to do the job better.

  31. …Or maybe I should ask, what does the Pirate Party mean to you? Because if you don’t see an intersection I probably can’t help you.

  32. >OK kn, what does “libertarian” mean to you?
    > Or maybe I should ask, what does the Pirate Party mean to you? Because if you don’t see an intersection I probably can’t help you.

    OK, let’s get this straight.

    First of all, I was literally replying to jeff’s question “Which side of the Atlantic was the first to develop a “Pirate Party”?
    The European side, obviously, as the Pirate Party originated in Sweden. Which doesn’t surprise me – they have a certain” subversion from within the system”-quality I’ve noticed in other European movements. (If I’d had to guess, I’d have said German – as it happens, they seem to be doing quite well in Germany).

    Do I see a strong libertarian influence in their ideas and discourse. Yes, obviously. See also what I next replied to Jeff.

    So, where’s the confusion then ?

  33. esr, you are insufficiently paranoid.

    Progressives take over everything. She is interpreting away the libertarian, rational egoist, anarchist, enlightened egoist, and anarcho capitalist elements of the free software movement in pretty much the same way as progressives interpret Jesus as a left community organizer, a sort of John the Baptist for Obama, despite the fact that the New Testament is even more reactionary on women, slavery, and the rest than the Old Testament, pretty much the same way they discover that Mohammed was actually a feminist, and then are sincerely astonished when their heroes of the Arab Spring disagree.

    When a Christian pastor notices that the New Testament is outstandingly reactionary, and decides to go with the New Testament, progressives are apt to find a forty five year old feminist activist who will testify that the pastor molested her when she was eleven, but she never mentioned it until now. This tactic is unlikely to succeed with Muslim preachers who would probably reply “Well, I don’t remember her, but then I had so many eleven year olds, so after all these years, I probably would not remember her.”

    If you are worried about progressive takeover of the open source software movement, and you should be, imitate the Muslims, not the Christians.. Try “Death to the infidels!”, not “You misunderstand”

  34. Jay Maynard on Monday, January 28 2013 at 8:04 am said:
    > Just like the rest of academia, too detached from reality to actually be useful.

    Academia rules the world: Their theories do not reflect reality, because they intend for reality to reflect their theories, and with disturbing frequency, succeed.

  35. esr on Monday, January 28 2013 at 9:26 am said:
    > All you’re doing is repeating a variant of the libertarian critique. If you think this is a useful thing to do, you missed the point of my review.

    You reviewed her work as “politicized”. Politics is about power, about getting power over other people. Libertarianism is about resisting power.

    Leftists are maximally confrontational, rejecting absolutely everything about their opponents position, even those points on which the non left is quite obviously correct, and then demonizing any disagreement as sinful and evil, even on points where the left position is obviously ridiculous. For example: according to leftism, people are born homosexual, but maleness and femaleness is entirely the result of culture and upbringing, indeed of bullying, and if males were not bullied into being male, they would not be so irritatingly masculine. And if anyone doubts this, he is horrifying evil.

    You, however, are trying the maximally conciliatory approach. You supposedly agree with every leftist position, even those that are quite obviously evil and insane, except for the absolute minimum where you really absolutely have to disagree in order to get the desired political result.

    Which approach has been more successful?

    The only people who are successfully resisting progressivism are the Muslims, who are using a rather different tactic to yours.

  36. Phil Rhodes on Monday, January 28 2013 at 10:16 am said:
    > Engineering and some of the hard science disciplines seem to be immune to this, primarily because they have to check in with reality.
    To the extent that engineering has to make a profit, build complex programs that do not crash, bridges that do not fall down, it is immune to this. But the field of academia that I perhaps know best is computer science, and it is not immune to this, and seldom checks in with reality.

  37. @ JAD

    Have you stopped taking your medication again?

    If you are worried about progressive takeover of the open source software movement, and you should be,…

    WTF?

    You [ESR] supposedly agree with every leftist position, even those that are quite obviously evil and insane, except for the absolute minimum where you really absolutely have to disagree in order to get the desired political result.

    [sarcasm>Yeah... ESR the leftist - he should be out hugging trees and lobbying the Federal government to start a Department To Eliminate Everything Bad.</sarcasm]

  38. Coleman is right that they display a level of pointed and deliberate rudeness that their authors would not employ face-to-face, and she is right about how and why the culture gives permission for this behavior.

    The culture may not give permission for this behavior for much longer. Recently, a dev wrote a Node.js script for some of sed’s use cases — not an architectural decision I’d make myself but it worked out handy for the author. It was promptly made fun of on Twitter. The backlash against the mockers from the larger community was intense and public, and it sparked some much-needed controversy over just how much assholery we are willing/need to tolerate in order to advance our craft — or, since we value things like inclusiveness, whether tolerating assholery is inimical to the goal of advancing our craft.

  39. You, however, are trying the maximally conciliatory approach. You supposedly agree with every leftist position, even those that are quite obviously evil and insane, except for the absolute minimum where you really absolutely have to disagree in order to get the desired political result.

    Comedy gold. You are telling this to the internet’s Ron Swanson.

    Either this is long-form trolling or you have a capacity to misread people of legendary proportions.

    Oh, and by the way, take a gender studies class. Physical and mental sex are innate but gender — expression of sex — is socially constructed. Just like expression of — well, anything else.

  40. If you are worried about progressive takeover of the open source software movement, and you should be, imitate the Muslims, not the Christians.. Try “Death to the infidels!”, not “You misunderstand”

    We already have taken over the open source software movement. Or rather, most hackers’ curiosity about anarcho-capitalism dried up right quick after we saw the consequences of capitalist enterprise without oversight after three decades of libertarian-inspired dismantling of unions and regulatory apparatus: Enron, Worldcom, the 2008 housing crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, environmental destruction.

    There’s a reason for the outpouring of grief over Aaron Swartz: he exemplified the shared values of our culture and movement perhaps better than any other individual at the time of his death. He was, of course, a hard leftist.

  41. @Patrick:

    >I hate to have to agree with Stallman, but patents and copyrights are completely different animals.

    They are, but the similarities that they do have form the basis for the libertarian critique of IP rights that Eric is referring to. Namely, both are monopolies on information (on the information itself in the case of copyright, on products constructed by use of the information in the case of patents), and in either case mainstream society tries to justify the monopoly by making an appeal to property rights.

  42. @ Jeff Read

    most hackers’ curiosity about anarcho-capitalism dried up right quick after we saw the consequences of capitalist enterprise without oversight after three decades of libertarian-inspired dismantling of unions and regulatory apparatus: Enron, Worldcom, the 2008 housing crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, environmental destruction.

    Enron – never buy stock in a company that explains itself like: “We have brilliant people doing brilliant things you wouldn’t understand.” The failure of Enron was a perfect example of one of the good things that come from freeish enterprise.

    I took a quick look, but I don’t know anything about Worldcom and can’t be bothered to try to figure it out.

    The 2008 housing crisis was the result of a deliberate government policy based on the idea that every American should be able to own their own home. This doesn’t work with poor people. The bank/mortgage-bond thing is the same deal as Enron – don’t buy securities you don’t understand.

    I can’t see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the fault of anarcho-capitalism or capitalist enterprise other than the fact that the oil business in the states – but not Canada – has a very cozy relationship with (parts of) the American government. This cozy relationship is a failure in oversight of government, not business.

    I don’t know about you, but I can drive around in the foothills all day and never see an animal larger than a raven. OTOH, Calgary has more wildlife per given area than any wilderness I have been in. Note: C02 is not a pollutant – it is food for plants.

  43. > There’s a reason for the outpouring of grief over Aaron Swartz: he exemplified the shared values of our culture and movement perhaps better than any other individual at the time of his death. He was, of course, a hard leftist.

    And was killed by the very enforcer of the regulations he presumably idolized, oh the irony.

  44. Gene Ra^H^H^H^H^H^H^H I mean JAD does have a point about progressives taking over, the left is very good at memetic warfare.

    Though that may just be because the right wing are a bunch of incompetent buffoons at it.

    @Jeff Read
    Stop conflating those of us* of the hackerly persuasion with the slashdot jerks.

    – Foo Quuxman

    * I haven’t earned the title but I identify with them.

  45. If this is in fact what anthropology has come to, and if you think this is bad, you should see what has happened to philosophy since, say, World War II.

  46. Brian Marshall on Monday, January 28 2013 at 6:59 pm said:
    > [sarcasm>Yeah... ESR the leftist -

    Everyone is a leftist by the standards of five years ago. Today’s esr is a leftist by the standards of the old esr. The ultra extreme super duper right wing of the right wing of the right wing of the tea party proposes to expand entitlements at a slightly slower rate.

  47. Jeff: “We already have taken over the open source software movement. Or rather, most hackers’ curiosity about anarcho-capitalism dried up right quick after we saw the consequences of capitalist enterprise without oversight after three decades of libertarian-inspired dismantling of unions and regulatory apparatus: Enron, Worldcom, the 2008 housing crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, environmental destruction.”

    What’s this “we” shit, kemosabe?

  48. @Jon Brase:

    both [copyright and patents] are monopolies on information (on the information itself in the case of copyright, on products constructed by use of the information in the case of patents), and in either case mainstream society tries to justify the monopoly by making an appeal to property rights.

    This is wrong in a subtle but important way. Copyright is not, in fact, a monopoly on information, but on certain aspects of the form of the information. This is why you cannot (in the US) copyright a phone book or a recipe.

    Although there is an interesting dichotomy there — when it comes to source code, the purely functional parts are not granted copyright protection, but when it comes to object code, protection is granted despite the fact that most users of many programs only care about the functional aspects…

  49. @JAD
    > are trying the maximally conciliatory approach. You supposedly agree with every leftist position…
    >
    >…The only people who are successfully resisting progressivism are the Muslims

    > Muslim … s … “Well, I don’t remember her, but then I had so many eleven year olds …
    >
    > imitate the Muslims, not the Christians.. Try “Death to the infidels!”, not “You misunderstand”

    > Politics is about power, about getting power over other people.
    > Libertarianism is about resisting power

    You are confusing non-participation in a failure directed activity, with defeat.

    The sigma male cares less about the power to fail over and over again with the economic impossibility of meritocracy in politics, and more about innovation that actually works.

    Why focus on political action? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and wondering why the result is always the same.

    > computer science, and it is not immune to this, and seldom checks in with reality

    Example please of real world software that wins in the market place?

    Apple’s Kafkaesque, politically-correct app store? Don’t you see esr ridiculing them and arguing that open source is winning in the market share for smart phones?

    @JustSaying
    > because the open source model produces higher-quality software.
    > Software is alive and the increased degrees-of-freedom (of the model)
    > yields more robust adaption and fitness

    Software is logic. No emotion can enter into whether it functions correctly. Users can choose platforms based on ideology, but the most robust software will win because software must fit to the dynamic human network of life.

  50. @JAD
    > are trying the maximally conciliatory approach.

    Perhaps you are being deceived by the happy-go-lucky exterior, which exists because of the uber-confident mastery of science. See the prior comments about subversive, mindless humor.

    From page 7 of Coding Freedom,

    This expression of wit solidifies the meaning of archetypal hacker selves: self-determined and rational individuals who use their well-developed faculties of discrimination and perception to understand the “formal” world— technical or not— around them with such perspicuity that they can intervene virtuously within this logical system either for the sake of play, pedagogy, or technological innovation. In short, they have playfully deviant attitudes, which they apply to almost any system in order to repurpose it.

    I also laughed at the accurate characterization of “Deep Hack Mode” on page 13 in Coleman’s book. I agree with her astute explanation of the physiological effects of sleep deprivation leading the bliss of removal from the physical world concerns. But I hope she realizes the physiological is just a superficial affirmation of a deeper ideological foundation for independence provided by technical acumen.

  51. After having officially having the title “hacker” bestowed upon me by ESR last year, I am taking the bold step of inviting folks to refer to me by my initials if they so choose.

  52. @ JAD

    The ultra extreme super duper right wing of the right wing of the right wing of the tea party proposes to expand entitlements at a slightly slower rate.

    Um… If true, this does pose something of a problem. Sooner or later, people and banking systems are going to stop accepting the idea that US treasury debt is risk-free. At some point, entitlements are going to contract. To me, this doesn’t look like a “some decade sometime” sort of situation.

  53. If i could find a patent that wasn’t the intellectual equivalent of squatting on someone else’s homestead, I would be more supportive of the patent system.

  54. @Patrick:

    >Copyright is not, in fact, a monopoly on information, but on certain aspects of the form of the information.

    I’m not sure that those “aspects of the form of the information” don’t constitute information themselves (a subset, to be sure, of information in a work, but nonetheless information). In any case, another way of stating things is that both copyrights and patents try to assert property rights over a non-rival good (whereas property rights have their roots in the one-user-at-a-time nature of rival goods), and end up creating a monopoly on physical copies or instantiations of the good in question (media containing a work in the case of copyright, things constructed using the claimed information in the case of patents).

    One form of “intellectual property” where I’d say property rights (or something of the sort) do make sense is trademarks (and identifying information in general). The information making up the trademark (the string of characters, logo, etc) is a non-rival good, but the uniqueness of that information as an identifier is a rival good.

  55. @Jeff Read (&kn)
    Pirate party and USA centric nature of OP

    Q: How many Open Source developers are non USA?
    A: More than half?

    Q: Does origin of developers affect political views and discourse?
    A: Yes

    Q: Did OP address non-USA political discourse?
    A: No

    About the pirate party. Take the last elections in Germany where the the Pirate Party got real seats. Did the German Pirate Party address in in any form:

    the libertarian critique that so-called “intellectual property” rights are illegitimate because they grant state-enforced monopolies that would neither arise nor be defensible as natural property rights in a free market.

    Please inform me if you saw such a discussion because I missed it.

    Moreover, take three central points in libertarian discussions in this blog: Absolute Property Rights, Voluntary Contracts as the basis of public life, Taxation as a violation of the previous two. Did any of the Pirate Parties advocate any of these points during the election campaigns the Libertarian way? Again, I must have missed them.

    What does seem to be central to the Pirate Parties, the Chaos Computer Club conferences and various “hacker” groups is a focus on privacy, freedom of information, transparency in government and business, citizens checks of government and corporate power, limitation of IP rights to the bare core.

  56. Eric, you’re not shy about using jargon yourself. Do you have a heuristic for detecting, as an outsider, when the terms being used are just tail chasing? Something a bit less intensive than ‘become an expert in the field’ or ‘learn General Semantics’ would be appreciated, but if that’s the only way, that’s the only way.

  57. @JustSaying
    > Software is logic. No emotion can enter into whether it functions correctly

    Clarification. Emotion fulfillment can be a feature of some software. What I am trying to convey is that the ultimate outcome of the robust (not brittle) fitness of software to the dynamic market is never irrational, even if any of the market demands derive from irrationality. The distinction is that the programmers can be rational even while coding irrational features. It is the exterior vs. interior concept again.

    I am in a rush to go jog so I hope that made sense.

  58. “Software is logic”. So is music. Music is perfectly logic & mathematic. Any music can be written, reduced to bits. Yet, it carries a lot of emotion.

    On the main topic, I’ll stick with Paul Graham : hackers are anti-copyright(or DRM, or patents, or whatever) because it directly harms their daily professional life, their productivity. Politics comes later. I’ve known very-leftists & very-rightist hackers, yet virtually any of them was anti-DRM.

    If I take a look at the french political spectrum, I realize that Anti-DRM are spread across the political spectrum. You’ll find a few ones in the “liberaux”(not the USA meaning : those one are pro freedom, both in business & personal life. Not numerous here, but existing) parts of the conservative UMP, some in the centrist “modem”(but not at their archenemies of the “nouveau centre”), not much in the centre-left socialist party, and some scattered amongst the numerous far-left parties we have. When the “hadopi” law of control of internet was debated, only 3 deputies openly fought it : Lionel Tardy(non-conservative wing of the UMP), Martine Billard(Green that switched to parti de gauche) and Jean-Pierre Brard(independant, former communist). Lionel Tardy had an especially tough fight : he was the only one of the 300 UMP deputies to understand the topic, & had to fight alone.

    That’s the failure of trying to analysis the hacker’s behaviour through politics. Being a hacker means you are heavily aware of what freedom means, and it therefore limits your political choices; but many are still remaining, on a broad spectrum.

  59. > It is the exterior vs. interior concept again

    I am thinking of the “mindless” gaiety, humor, and satire (exterior) that is underlain with the “subversive” (the confidently superior or serious interior science or art). Refer to the prior comments made by Foo, esr, Jay Maynard, Jeff Read, Nancy Lebovitz, and myself that contained those quoted words.

    @Jeff Read
    > …example from more modern times is the MTV cartoon Beavis and Butt-head…
    > …know they’re morons and laugh at their stupidity. There’s also critique of…

    The serious social commentary (satire) was underlying the mindless exterior. I was a devoted fan of Beavis, who was portrayed as the more imbecilic, less mature, and more emotionally unstable of the pair, but in my opinion made the more profound social observations (or at least relative to his portrayed mental standing).

    Homer Simpson also fits the model.

  60. Sorry for triple post, but I have to add that when the mindless idiots can better interpret social behavior than top-down politicians and corporate managers, I think of esr’s rephrase of “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” in his speech about open source, a bunch “of monkeys beating on the source code” can outperform.

  61. @JustSaying
    >I was a devoted fan of Beavis [...]

    Do you by chance remember the episode “Animation Sucks”.

    Hippy teacher: Let’s learn animation jabber jabber peace love jabber!
    [...]
    Butthead: Let’s draw enough dead people for a whole massacre.
    Beavis: Yeah yeah! massacre Massacre MASSACR-rrRRRR–RRREE!!!
    [...]
    Hippy teacher: And Now Let’s Peer Into The Imaginations Of Our Friends Beavis And Butthead.
    Hippy teacher: oh, ………… The piece does seem to be attuned to an aspect of our fragmented modern society blah blah.

    Now I have to go watch the shoe again.

    –Foo Quuxman

  62. @Foo, yeah hahaha, that feminine teacher may cause JAD’s head to explode. Whoa you are nearly invisible, if the “shoE” fits, don’t mind it. ;)

  63. Software may be pure logic & binary, but so is music. Most music can be defined simply by the instrument, the note, the time & time span of each sound. Yet, it is extremely emotional.

    About the main topic, I’ll stick with Paul Graham’s interpretation : hackers are 1st line against DRM & other rights protection because it harms them in their daily life.

  64. After having officially having the title…

    OK – that’s why I can’t play chess. Fortunately, when I write a function, I can say “Wait! That’s not what I meant to do!” when I debug it.

    Let me try again in a somewhat more dignified manner…

    After officially having the title “hacker” bestowed upon me by ESR last year, I am taking the bold step of inviting folks to refer to me by my initials if they so choose.

  65. @el_slapper, I was addressing JAD’s assertion:

    >> not forced to interact with the real world
    > computer science, and it is not immune to this, and seldom checks in with reality

    Don’t programmers check in with reality in the sense that they must provide the functionality that the market wants? If they don’t, the reality is no users.

    I already granted that software can have feature sets that lean to some politics, e.g. one of Apple’s design criteria seems to be roughly “don’t let users have enough freedom to hurt themselves”. If Apple created the politics of their end users, it was through marketing, not through software.

    I asked for any example where the programmers are dictating the politics of the market?

    I bet television is the most significant factor on the politics that people choose. If I remember correctly, the mean is 5 hours a day of that non-interactive, mind programming machine.

    The users don’t want DRM. If ever they want it, programmers will provide it.

  66. > I doubt people will ever refer to me by my initials…

    Ok R2-D2.

  67. @ Jay Maynard

    I doubt people will ever refer to me by my initials…

    I don’t see anything wrong with JM. OTOH, if your middle initial is “A”…

    I certainly wouldn’t want people to refer to me by just my first and last initials. The funny thing is that all through school, where I took a lot of kidding, and another 30 years after that, no one pointed out the scatological interpretation of my initials until just last year, when my son kidded me about it (when he was 24).

  68. I have not read Coding Freedom yet, but judging by Eric’s description, Coleman’s fixation on anthropological theories hasn’t just impaired her field research. It has also impaired her research on the very theories she seems to be fixated on. Take this for example:

    (ESR:) A major theme in Coleman’s analysis is a contrast between two notions of individualism: one of which she labels “liberal” and associates with economic minimaxing and rational selfishness, and another which she describes as “Millsian” or “romantic” and associates with ideals of self-expressiveness and the Aristotelian idea of eudaemonia. (…) What Coleman never notices is that this is not a tension the hackers she is observing actually experience –

    Not just the hackers. John Stuart Mill himself wouldn’t have recognized any such conflict. How else could have he been both the namesake of Coleman’s “Millsian Liberalism” and a leading exponent of Utilitarianism, the philosophy of identifying an action’s ethical goodness with its benefits (minus costs) to the rational individuals affected? Nobody who read Mills’s essay On Liberty could get the impression that Mill perceived such a conflict.

    The same is true of Coleman’ allegation that the conflict between copyright and Free Speech is recent. For a sobering reality check, look up the Copyright Clause in The Founders’ Constitution, illuminating the US constitution’s legal and philosophical backdrop at the time it was adopted. You will find that the very first Old English statute regulating the right to copy printings was specifically targeted to quash speech that his Majesty the King and the Church of England considered seditious and blasphemous. Coleman is right to insist that there’s a real conflict there (and Eric is wrong to downplay it as “a tactical hack of the legal system”). But if she thinks this conflict is decades rather than centuries old, she needs to read outside her field more. (That’s okay though. She wouldn’t be the first graduate student with this problem. :-) )

  69. > Far too much of the book exhibits this kind of theory-induced blindness. I am inclined to blame not Coleman for it but rather the people who trained and indoctrinated her in how to think and write like a ‘real’ anthropologist. If Coding Freedom is really the sort of book anthropology wants its bright young things to emit, the field is in desperately bad shape

    It’s going a bit light on her to say “it’s not her fault; her teachers forged her that way”. This is the same sort of attitude that western leftists have for murderous Muslims: “well, you can’t judge them as individuals, because their culture teaches them that it’s OK…now let’s get back to talking about why all Western men are terrible because they laugh at un-PC jokes”.

    I mean, yes, it is useful in an EXPLANATORY way to say “most people never rise above the shackles of their formal education, and here’s another example”, but if we’re blaming or not blaming people, then let’s go ahead and blame her for her choices…at least to some extent.

  70. @Jon Brase:

    I’m not sure that those “aspects of the form of the information” don’t constitute information themselves (a subset, to be sure, of information in a work, but nonetheless information).

    Obviously they do — meta-information is still information. However, sufficiently higher levels of abstraction eventually become worthless.

    In any case, another way of stating things is that both copyrights and patents try to assert property rights over a non-rival good (whereas property rights have their roots in the one-user-at-a-time nature of rival goods), and end up creating a monopoly on physical copies or instantiations of the good in question (media containing a work in the case of copyright, things constructed using the claimed information in the case of patents).

    Absolutely true. But the important distinction is that a patent can be asserted against a (rival non-rival)?? good which has been created independently by someone who knew nothing about the original good or the original “inventor” or the fact that there was a patent, and a copyright cannot.

  71. Correction: I accidentally linked to the First Amendment’s discussion in The Founders’ Constitution. Here is the link to the Copyright-Clause entry, which I meant to post in the first place.

    Ironically, this mistake of mine turns out to emphasise what I said: The take-off point for the US Constitution’s protections of both intellectual property protection and free speech is the same English statute from 1662: An Act for Preventing the Frequent Abuses in Printing Seditious Treasonable and Unlicensed Books and Pamphlets and for Regulating Printing and Printing Presses. Whichever way you look at them, restrictions on copying and restrictions on expressing thoughts have gone hand in hand from the get-go.

  72. @ ESR

    But it may well be that a book less determinedly flogging empty signifiers of academic erudition would have been a functional failure for Ms. Coleman, as it wouldn’t have earned her a doctorate.

    Hackers tend to be, in various ways, outliers in the society in which they live. I can imagine that this could make it a bit tough for Ms. Coleman.

    (If I am just repeating something already said, please forgive me – I am very short on sleep at the moment.)

  73. @Jeff Read: According to this position paper (in German), the Pirate Party’s approach to copyright is incremental and pragmatic. It tries to shorten copyright terms, expand fair-use rights, and so forth. But it does not seek to abolish copyright, and does not claim that intellectual property is altogether illegitimate. I wouldn’t be surprised if individual members claimed that, but the party as a whole does not.

  74. What does seem to be central to the Pirate Parties, the Chaos Computer Club conferences and various “hacker” groups is a focus on privacy, freedom of information, transparency in government and business, citizens checks of government and corporate power, limitation of IP rights to the bare core.

    European opposition to broad IP rights comes from the same place as American opposition: the acknowledgement that IP rights are not natural private property rights but artifices created by the government; and as such the government should reduce IP protection when the costs of said protection in terms of freedom outweigh the benefits to society.

    I have never heard a European IP objector, Pirate Party or otherwise, contradict this explanation or offer a substantively different alternative explanation for IP minimalism.

    Eric calls it the “libertarian” argument because in Murka even our nominal center-left party (the Democratic party) is completely beholden to corporate interests (viz., Hollywood, the MPAA and RIAA, etc.), so the libertarians were, for some time, the only vocal group left willing to address the issue in these terms. His nomenclature is USA-centric but the deep structure of the argument put forth is not.

  75. Thomas Blankenhorn,

    The Pirate Party favors less IP and more freedom to copy. The best way of actually achieving this is to hill-climb. If they have any sense, libertarians are the same; David Friedman wrote favorably in The Machinery of Freedom of policies such as private-school vouchers that, he reasons, could be implemented to reduce costs and grant more freedom of choice today, which viewing libertarianism as an all-or-nothing step function wouldn’t do.

    I don’t agree with his conclusions, but his pragmatism makes him no less a libertarian.

  76. Brian Marshall on Monday, January 28 2013 at 8:42 pm said:
    > I don’t know about you, but I can drive around in the foothills all day and never see an animal larger than a raven. OTOH, Calgary has more wildlife per given area than any wilderness I have been in. Note: C02 is not a pollutant – it is food for plants.

    This is what I mean when I call esr, and you, left wing. Jeff Read anathematizes you and me, declares us all spawn of satan, and proclaims the total victory of the forces of righteousness over the forces of evil and sin. To which you piously, delicately, and gently reply that Jeff Read is mistaken about some minor points, implicitly conceding all his major points.

    Jeff Read’s big “error” is that to support seven billion people we need industrial civilization, to support industrial civilization we need a lot of energy, the only practical sources of large amounts of energy are nuclear and carbon, so he intends, and knowingly intends, a totalitarian terror state (see the video “no pressure”) which murders six billion or so in artificial famine (sustainable population being one of the glorious noble goals of reducing carbon emissions) and reduces most of the survivors to serfs growing wheat by scratching the ground with digging sticks under the whips of their carbon overlords.

    He is not mistaken, but evil, and our overlords are bringing us to disaster.

    You think perhaps he disagrees with me about the likely consequences of a substantial reduction of carbon emissions? Observe the consequences of the food to fuel mandate, about five million additional dead per year, food riots over large parts of the world, for an utterly miniscule reduction in carbon emissions, and he cheerfully includes those five million and the food riots as part of the glorious victory of the forces of good, which would imply he has a similar fate in mind for you, me, and esr.

    You, and esr, are like the tea party glorying it its supposedly ultra extreme right wing position that entitlements should increase at a slightly slower rate.

  77. @ JAD

    Jeff Read expressed the opinion that many problems in the world are the result of too little government control. I attempted to knock down all of his examples (except Worldcom, because I know nothing about it and he doesn’t make me want to learn about it).

    Ultimately, people that want more government so that [hyperbole>bad things won't happen</hyperbole] always want more government. Whether they want communist brand totalitarianism or fascist brand totalitarianism means little – it is totalitarianism either way. So, in this respect, I think Jeff Read is very wrong.

    I am a libertarian but, due to the nature of the political system, the best we can hope for at the moment is governments that will try to avoid an implosion of the world financial system. If big changes make for big changes in politics, I would like to see the government get a LOT smaller and entitlements much lower – more in the nature of a safety-net for destitute people. Ideally, I would like to see this kind of charity being done outside the government, but… it would take huge changes in society for that to happen.

    I only happened to throw in the

    Note: C02 is not a pollutant – it is food for plants.

    because he sounded like the sort of person that would believe that CO2 is pollution.

    As for 10:10 and “No Pressure”… I can’t tell if it is meant seriously by insane people or an attention-getting device by nut-cases or an attempt to discredit people hung up on climate change or what.

    Has Jeff Read indicated that he favors the 10:10 position? Has he indicated that he favors killing people that don’t care about CO2?

    My position is: Hey! of course the climate is changing – it always has and always will. We are still warming up from the last period of glaciation. I haven’t really followed the “Climate Change” science because most of it is paid-for bull-shit. It wouldn’t surprise me if humans have contributed to climate change, probably in a minor way. But if that is true… that is the result of humans living. I could imagine that climate change could wreck a lot of valuable coastal real estate but it won’t be the end of the world. Iterative models of chaotic systems don’t work. There is no telling how a few degrees of warming will affect a particular part of the world. I am not an expert, but I think that if history is a guide, getting a bit warmer would probably mean some improvement in the amount of land available for agriculture, but who knows where.

    I am no expert, but my impression is that CO2 is a minor contributor to any greenhouse effect and human progress is going to result in more of it being produced. Plants like it. It would be great if we develop nice, cheap fusion power, but even fission helps supply energy to people and the industry that makes things for people.

    Short story: I really don’t care about the CO2 business. I do care about people that think capitalism is bad because bad stuff keeps happening in the world.

  78. @Jeff Read: David Friedman, especially in Machinery of Freedom, states very clearly that his ultimate goal is to abolish government altogether. His pragmatism is about how to get there, but not about where to get. As far as I can tell, there seems to be no corresponding plank in the platform of the German Pirate Party. As I said, some individual members may want that, but it’s not the party’s official position.

  79. @JAD & BRM (R2-D2 is 404),

    In my opinion, the world is heading into the Great Mess. Google Case-Shiller’s inflation-adjusted History of Home Values. You see a decline for decades at the start of the 1900s. This was due to job losses from the mass production age as the industrial revolution produced network effects. Similarly now occurring with automation and higher knowledge network efforts due to the computer. The old jobs are not coming back. The knowledge age worker generates orders-of-magnitude more value than the laborer. The politics (and the passive capitalists) are trying to find a way redistribute value to the status quo, but they will fail. The Great Mess is all about the adjustment. So delaying the adjustment by printing more money, is not going to help, but that is what political systems do. College students continue to borrow huge sums to obtain an education which might be irrelevant in the coming knowledge age. If everyone can borrow to buy something (houses, college), the price goes up, because future demand has been pulled forward by future promises. Misallocation of human capital abounds with ZIRP.

    I care, but I am not going to argue politics, because it is morass that can’t be fixed. I think the most productive activity we can do is innovate on helping people make the adjustment.

  80. @Patrick:

    >Absolutely true. But the important distinction is that a patent can be asserted against a (rival non-rival)?? good

    A specific physical object covered by a patent is a rival good (if I take your smartphone from you, I now have it and you don’t).

    The design for that object is a non-rival good (if I take the design from you, we both have it).

    The patent that covers the object and its design claims as property an idea that is implemented by the design. That idea, once again, is a non-rival good (if I take it from you, we both have it).

    >which has been created independently by someone who knew nothing about the original good or the original “inventor” or the fact that there was a patent, and a copyright cannot.

    This affects the severity of the respective amounts of damage that patents and copyrights can do, but doesn’t affect the fact that both are equally called into question by the “libertarian critique” as spurious property rights.

    And while the fact that patents can be asserted against unsuspecting victims (rather than deliberate infringers) does make them much more damaging, the current state of copyright law probably brings patents and copyrights to near parity for damage done: Longer expiration times, on which the clock doesn’t even start ticking until the death of the author, laws like the DMCA, which legitimize assaults on the physical property rights of the owners of electronic devices in the name of the “intellectual property” rights of content producers and transform certain forms of copyright infringement from civil to criminal offenses (and, in the process, criminalize attempts by device owners to assert their physical property rights over their devices), etc.

    Useless addendum: In theory, a copyright could, in fact, be accidentally infringed (for example if I were to cat 1100 pages of text from /dev/urandom, get the complete text of The Lord of the Rings, and, finding that I had an incredibly great novel, and having no knowledge of J.R.R Tolkien or that the trilogy already existed, if I decided to publish it, I would be infringing on the copyright of The Lord of the Rings without being aware of it). The odds of such a thing happening are just so low as to be indistinguishable from zero in practice.

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  82. For anyone having romantic ideas about the German Pirate Party being in the same league as the USA Libertarians, please read their position on Social Security and work. For those who think the USA Democrats are at the extreme left, brace yourself.

    Wir Piraten setzen uns für die Einführung eines bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens ein, das die Ziele des “Rechts auf sichere Existenz und gesellschaftlicher Teilhabe” aus unserem Parteiprogramm erfüllt. Es soll:

    die Existenz sichern und gesellschaftliche Teilhabe ermöglichen, einen individuellen Rechtsanspruch darstellen sowie ohne Bedürftigkeitsprüfung und ohne Zwang zu Arbeit oder anderen Gegenleistungen garantiert werden.

    https://www.piratenpartei.de/politik/gesellschaftliche-teilhabe/arbeit-und-soziales/

    For those who do cannot read German: the German Pirate Party want to guarantee a state minimum income to everyone, without an obligation to work.

  83. “The politics (and the passive capitalists) are trying to find a way redistribute value to the status quo, but they will fail. The Great Mess is all about the adjustment. So delaying the adjustment by printing more money, is not going to help, but that is what political systems do.”

    I think this inability to square the circle will break up the US (and possibly other superstates) by the mid-2020s.

    We’re looking at a decentralized future. Innovation (3D printing, etc.) will enable this. There’s little value in letting the left have “one ring to rule them all” and sooner or later the political right will clue on to it.

  84. For the benefit of those who cannot read the German Pirate Party’s social charter, there is also a British Pirate Party who write something quite like their German brothers in their manifesto:

    Moving toward a Citizen’s Income

    A Citizen’s Income is an unconditional, non-withdrawable income payable to each individual as a right of citizenship. The idea would be to introduce this income, reduce the amount at which people are taxed and remove some existing tax credits.

    https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/media/uploads/Manifesto2012.pdf

    Somehow, I have some problems imagining USA Libertarians writing such a text in their Election Manifesto. I see fundamental differences in world-view between the European Pirate Parties and USA Libertarians.

  85. Winter, I never said the PIrate Party were libertarians. What I am saying is that the Pirate Party’s arguments about the copyright issue specifically and the libertarians’ are similiar enough to be indistinguishable in practice.

    Thomas Blankenhorn,

    You better believe that the ultimate goal of the Pirate Parties is to abolish copyright. That was the goal of the original Swedish movement, and the worldwide Pirate Parties are all loosely affiliated — much like the green parties.

    They won’t put that as a plank in their platform because that’d be political suicide. The copyright lobby, operating through associations like GEMA, is quite strong in Germany.

  86. “[...]they display a level of pointed and deliberate rudeness that their authors would not employ face-to-face[..]”

    Speak for yourself, bucko.

  87. @JB
    “I think this inability to square the circle will break up the US (and possibly other superstates) by the mid-2020s.”

    I think the USA might break up. But not for some nebulous economic cause, but simply because Americans cannot stand each others presence anymore. So they might very well decide to “divorce” each other and cut up the country into culturally homogeneous parts.

    As states like China and Iran have managed to stay intact for thousands of years, there is no reason why they should collapse now. The same for many European countries who have been states for centuries (France and England for a thousand years).

    On second thoughts, the USA have been a state since two centuries. They will survive some religious bickering by Old White Guys.

  88. @Jeff Read
    “Winter, I never said the PIrate Party were libertarians. ”

    I was just making sure.

    The Pirate Party came up as a counter example in a discussion where I said that Eric was very USA centric in his OP and his Libertarian concerns were not shared by non-USA hackers, eg, from Europe. I am convinced that the German Pirate Party expresses the political views of a lot of German hackers too.

    One of the fundamental differences between the USA and Europe seems to be that European “hackers” do not question the existence of the state nor social security, but believe in personal freedom, democracy, and human rights. Questions about “natural property rights” (maximalist ownership rights) and the (il-)legality of taxation are non-issues in European political discourse.

  89. @Jeff Read
    “They won’t put that as a plank in their platform because that’d be political suicide. The copyright lobby, operating through associations like GEMA, is quite strong in Germany.”

    The GEMA is quite universally hated in Germany. The Pirate Party has no reservations in attacking them head on.

    The softened of their copyright standpoint was the result of an open discussion with authors who could convince them that abolishing all copyright protection was unfair towards writers and performing artists. I do not think this was purely posturing for the electorate. The people in the Pirate Party take pride in being reasonable.

  90. @JustSaying
    >“shoE”

    You have to keep an eye on those shoes, I can state with absolute certainty that I have never seen my (or anyone else’s) shoes try to strangle me when I was watching them.

    @JM
    >I doubt people will ever refer to me by my initials…

    Hello JM / TG

    – Foo Quuxman

  91. @ Brian Marshall
    > my impression is that CO2 is a minor contributor to the greenhouse effect

    Rather than rely on your impressions of what might be true, you could always read the science: http://WWW.IPCC.CH

  92. @ Brian Marshall
    > my impression is that CO2 is a minor contributor to the greenhouse effect

    Or you can use this study by Climate Skeptics:

    Climate Skeptic, Koch-Funded Scientist Admits Global Warming Real and Humans the Cause
    http://ecowatch.org/2012/climate-skeptic-koch-funded/

    Many of the changes in land-surface temperature can be explained by a combination of volcanoes and a proxy for human greenhouse gas emissions. Solar variation does not seem to impact the temperature trend.

    Or another take on the same study:
    http://www.prwatch.org/spin/2011/10/11104/koch-funded-climate-skeptic-admits-global-warming-real

    Stephen Colbert has a take on this:
    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/423268/january-28-2013/the-word—the-new-abnormal

  93. >Since you bring up Richard Muller

    It is also worth noting that the notion of Muller as a former AGW denier who has seen the light is a recent media invention (that’s a polite way of saying “lying propaganda”). A little googling discloses that he has been uttering boilerplate alarmist rhetoric in public for many years.

  94. @Peter Donis
    “Quick summary: he agrees with the berkeley earth study’s basic result, but he disagrees with a lot of global warming hype.”

    There are three separate questions:
    1) Is the earth’s atmosphere warming up?
    2) Do human activities affect the temperature of the atmosphere?
    3) How much will the temperature of the earth change?

    It is a well known tactic to dismiss 1&2 by ridiculing some people who hype 3. This researcher admitted that the answer to 1&2 is YES!

    So, with 1&2 accepted as TRUE, we can argue about 3, the predicted range of temperatures.

    And I would suggest you watch the video of Stephen Colbert.

  95. @ JustSaying

    In my opinion, the world is heading into the Great Mess.

    I agree. You brought up a variety of ideas.

    The home-price graph is interesting. I am just doing this off the top of my head, but I interpret it like this…

    The dip from 1910 to 1920 may well be from the “mass production age”, but this tended to increase the value of labor – when harvesting an acre of wheat, one or two people with a combine harvester is much more productive than a bunch of guys with scythes. It is important to note that housing prices are determined by people that buy houses – people that lose their job and become poor don’t buy houses. The graph is sort of weird in the depression in the 1930s due to monetary deflation – housing prices fell but the cost of labor and materials fell faster.

    In any case, I agree that there are now fewwer opportunities for people with no skills, but there are still opportunities for these people to aquire skills and become better off. Skilled trades people are paid more than many “knowledge workers”.

    In my opinion, the global financial system is the biggest problem we face. When Britian was broke after WW II, the US was there to take over, so to speak. It helped that the US didn’t have its factories and cities bombed into rubble, so during the war, they sold a lot of stuff to a lot of people outside the US.

    Now, to me, the financial system looks brittle, the perception that US treasury debt is risk-free could change quickly (sooner or later) and, as you said, the ZIRP is causing distortions. When an entity is very deeply in debt and running a huge deficit every year… it doesn’t look like it is going to come out well. And there is no country and no currency that is in a position to step in if the US dollar ceases to be the world’s primary reserve currency. It is scary.

    I care, but I am not going to argue politics, because it is morass that can’t be fixed.

    I agree. I try not to worry about things that I can’t possibly change.

  96. Winter, I wouldn’t say that’s the main tactic.

    There are three separate questions:
    1) Is the earth’s atmosphere warming up?
    2) Do human activities affect the temperature of the atmosphere?
    3) How much will the temperature of the earth change?

    There is a fourth question:
    4) What should we do about it?

    Libertarians and conservatives don’t like the implications of 4, so instead of addressing 4 head on they try to falsify 1 and 2 by cherrypicking data, exaggerating minor discrepancies, and/or waxing conspiratorial about the motives of the researchers. This is how “Climategate” happened.

    They do this because it works. The creationists have used the exact same tactic to discredit evolution for nearly half of all Americans.

  97. @ TomM and Winter

    It takes a great deal of effort to even try to distinguish between real AGW science and paid-for bullshit. We are not talking about the end of the world or even the end of humans. We are talking about changes in where food can be grown (and warming generally helps this) and the value of coastal real-estate. Bummer for New York, London, Tokyo, etc. but… stuff happens and things change. And, as in my comment, above…

    I try not to worry about things that I can’t possibly change.

    Much wealth will be destroyed if (parts of) New York, etc. end up a little below sea-level, but there is nothing I can do to about this.

  98. @ Winter

    3) How much will the temperature of the earth change?

    There are a lot of buffering effects (temp rises, more water evaporates, more clouds, temp falls) and there is the enormous mass of the oceans to absorb and release heat. Iterative models of chaotic systems don’t work. People can argue about question 3, but… who knows?

    Problems affecting people are always changing.

  99. I rather wish you had not brought up Intellectual Property in your review (though it may have been unavoidable). It’s made this comment thread a rehash of the standard IP debates in our circles.

    The anthropology part sounded much more interesting.

  100. @ Jeff Read

    4) What should we do about it?

    - Stop fussing about CO2 per se

    - Use more fission power and bury the waste in deep mines in the continental crust.

    - Continue trying to produce power by fusion

    And…. what do you think you can do about it? Do you want to tell a billion people in China and other parts of Asia that they can’t own a car? Good luck.

  101. “I think the USA might break up. But not for some nebulous economic cause, but simply because Americans cannot stand each others presence anymore. So they might very well decide to “divorce” each other and cut up the country into culturally homogeneous parts.”

    “As states like China and Iran have managed to stay intact for thousands of years, there is no reason why they should collapse now. The same for many European countries who have been states for centuries (France and England for a thousand years).”

    Actually there is a reason – disruption of their managed economy model by new technologies. But tradition may somehow prevail certainly.

    “On second thoughts, the USA have been a state since two centuries. They will survive some religious bickering by Old White Guys.”

    If you think that’s the extent of the problem, you’re not really paying attention.

  102. Use more fission power and bury the waste in deep mines in the continental crust.

    @BRM

    No, reprocess the isotopes we can, which I am given to understand is the larger portion of it.

    Dispose the unprocessable isotopes in the coffins of nucleophobes.

    – Foo Quuxman

  103. (Jeff Read:) You better believe that the ultimate goal of the Pirate Parties is to abolish copyright.

    I better believe it — or what? What good can possibly come from believing what the evidence doesn’t support? Speakig of evidence, further Googling has unearthed this position paper, in which the Pirate Party explicitly dismisses as a “myth” that “the Pirates want to abolish copyright”. (It’s myth #1, in case you want to check.)

    This leaves us with two possibilities. Either the German Pirates are lying through their teeth and you are sticking up for them out of some misplaced sense of tribal loyalty. Or you are deluded about the German Pirates’ actual agenda and have blinded yourself to evidence from outside your bubble. Either way, arguing with you any further is a waste of time. On top of that, it already is a waste of our host’s time. Eric pointed out way up-thread that hashing out the libertarian critique of copyright is beside the point of his book review.

    With this in mind, I’m checking out of this subthread. Better late than never.

  104. @Winter, @Jeff Read: I was going to add the exact same 4th question. The difference is that I agree with BRM that the list of things we should do does *not* include making herculean efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions. Even if we could actually do so (which, as BRM points out, is unlikely since China and other Asian countries won’t play–at the Copenhagen conference a few years back the Chinese basically told President Obama to pound sand when he suggested talking about mitigating CO2 emissions), in my judgment, the economic cost of mitigating CO2 emissions to a meaningful extent would be higher than the economic costs of adapting to climate change.

    Note that this does not mean the US should keep on burning oil bought from the Middle East; there are plenty of other good reasons to stop doing that.

  105. @ Brian Marshall

    > It takes a great deal of effort to even try to distinguish between real AGW science and paid-for bullshit.

    Not really. The paid-for shills are pretty easy to spot: a good indicator is being associated with conservative lobbyist/think tank outfits like Heartland who refuse to disclose their funding sources.

    It was similarly straightforward to identify that the ridiculous, anti-Linux “Samizdat”, published by the embarrassingly-named Alexis de Tocqueville Institution was a commissioned work of fiction: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_de_Tocqueville_Institute#section_2

  106. @ Peter Donis

    While mitigation of CO2 emissions (or reduction in emissions intensity) globally is certainly a very difficult task that will require significant technological and political innovation, that is somewhat orthogonal to the point (made up thread) that fear of the medicine has tended to encourage conservatives to pretend there is no disease.

  107. While mitigation of CO2 emissions (or reduction in emissions intensity) globally is certainly a very difficult task that will require significant technological and political innovation, that is somewhat orthogonal to the point (made up thread) that fear of the medicine has tended to encourage conservatives to pretend there is no disease.

    One common hard sell technique is to advance a series of propositions, each of which the victim agrees readily, leading up to a demand that the victim shell out for the big ticket item the salesman is pushing. Never mind that the need to buy does not necessarily follow from the previous assertions. It’s hard to say ‘NO’.

    One common resistance technique when confronted with a snake-oil salesman is to deny from the start that any of his assertions are true.

  108. It takes a great deal of effort to even try to distinguish between real AGW science and paid-for bullshit.

    1) Get the name of someone who is talking about global warming

    2) Look them up on opensecrets.org

    3) If you see ExxonMobil or similar oil interests in their list of sponsors, it’s probably paid-for bullshit.

    See? Easy.

  109. There are three separate questions:
    1) Is the earth’s atmosphere warming up?
    2) Do human activities affect the temperature of the atmosphere?
    3) How much will the temperature of the earth change?

    There’s also the extension to question 3 which is “what will the effects of that be”.

    My biggest issue with the whole “climate change” debate is being railroaded by cataclysmic imagery. Oh and the whole “you believe differently to me so you should be killed” message was wrong on so many levels.

  110. @JonCB
    Around a billion people live in areas threathened by a modest rise in sea level. Another billion in areas affected by desertivication. Mireover, if agriculture migrates polewards, then there will be less areal to grow food.

    Seems reason enough to think again.

  111. @TomM: Actually, some ways of mitigating CO2 emissions are easy technologically. For example, US emissions have been mitigated significantly just by the change from coal to natural gas for power plants. Other trends, such as the growth of hybrid vehicles, will have similar effects. So would building more nuclear power plants.

    The problem I have is that the AGW alarmist’s idea of “mitigation” is something like the Kyoto treaty, which if followed to the letter would have emasculated the world economy for something like a hundredth of a degree Celsius predicted change in global average temperature in 2100. Or something like cap and trade, which would quickly submerge any benefit due to CO2 reduction in the huge deadweight loss to the world economy from people gaming the system; it would be like Wall Street and the crash of 2008 on steroids.

    The only winning strategy in games like those is not to play. If we mitigate CO2 emissions as a side effect of doing other things that make sense, that’s fine. But pursuing it as an explicit goal would be a disaster.

    (I should add that I’m not convinced mitigating CO2 emissions would actually “fix” climate change anyway. Someone linked to the IPCC site upthread: check out the graph in the IPCC report giving the level of scientific understanding of the key factors that can influence climate change, and see how many of them are at a “low” level of understanding–including water vapor and cloud feedbacks. Now check the first IPCC report back in 1991, and see the *same* list of things with a “low” level of scientific understanding. None of the levels have changed significantly in two decades. The IPCC isn’t actually trying to understand how the climate works; they’re trying to drive a political agenda and producing “science” to suit. We don’t know enough about how the climate works to know how to “fix” it, so we might as well face up to that and adapt.)

  112. @ TomM and Jeff Read

    Basically, I just don’t care about AGM science because, if AGM is significant, there isn’t a hope in hell that any sane human policy will make any meaningful difference to our planet’s ever-changing climate.

    In any case, AGM is way off topic, so this is the end of my participation in this sub-thread.

  113. @ Peter Donis
    > Now check the first IPCC report back in 1991, and see the *same* list of things with a “low” level of scientific understanding. None of the levels have changed significantly in two decades. The IPCC isn’t actually trying to understand how the climate works;

    The assertion in the 2nd sentence is false and the inference you draw in the third sentence is not accurate.

    The IPCC aggregates the available state of climate science so as to provide good quality data to inform policy-making. The IPCC uses carefully defined language to describe the confidence in the scientific conclusions drawn in its reports. Simplistically, the level of confidence in the core warming hypothesis has increased in each IPCC report.

    It is fashionable for contrarians like our host to claim that the IPCC has some nefarious ulterior political motive. But asserting this doesn’t make it true.

  114. @TomM: the level of confidence in the core warming hypothesis has increased in each IPCC report.

    I’m not talking about the IPCC’s level of confidence in the core warming hypothesis. I’m talking about their assessment of the level of scientific understanding of each key factor driving warming: CO2, solar, water vapor, clouds, etc. Those levels haven’t changed since the first IPCC report: our understanding of CO2 was high then and it’s the same now; our understanding of water vapor and clouds was low then and it’s the same now. (IIRC they rated our understanding of solar as “medium” then and now.)

    The IPCC aggregates the available state of climate science so as to provide good quality data to inform policy-making.

    If it will help clarify things, s/IPCC/climate scientists contributing findings to the IPCC/ in the third sentence of mine that you quoted. If they were actually trying to understand how the climate works, raising our level of understanding of water vapor and clouds would be item number one on the agenda, since those are the key causal factors we don’t understand well, according to the IPCC’s own chart. The fact that our level of understanding has not changed in 20 years makes it evident that raising it isn’t high on the agenda, which means that understanding how the climate works is not high on the agenda.

    It is fashionable for contrarians like our host to claim that the IPCC has some nefarious ulterior political motive

    That’s because it’s evident, as above, that understanding how the climate works is not driving the agenda. Which means that something else is. If it isn’t politics, what is it?

  115. How the hell did we get on the AGW hoax, anyway?

    In any event, there’s a question 5): Is the cost of the fix higher than the cost of the problem? Considering that the fixes pretty much all involve destruction of economies on an unprecedented scale, the answer is yes.

  116. Considering that the fixes pretty much all involve destruction of economies on an unprecedented scale, the answer is yes.

    Considering that leaving the problem unfixed pretty much involves the destruction of ecosystems on an unprecedented scale, you might want to rethink your answer.

  117. Or something like cap and trade, which would quickly submerge any benefit due to CO2 reduction in the huge deadweight loss to the world economy from people gaming the system; it would be like Wall Street and the crash of 2008 on steroids.

    Just because I believe the theory of anthropogenic global warming doesn’t mean I buy into huckster schemes like cap and trade, actually an arbitrage scheme from the same folks who engineered the 2008 housing crisis.

    The only solution is powerdown — actively working to reduce our energy footprint rather than assume it can grow untrammelled forever. As Dawn Stover puts it:

    To which I say: Why don’t we just not do it? Let’s not build any new power plants except to replace old, inefficient ones. Let’s not dig up all the oil. Let’s not drive to work alone. Let’s not eat meat every day. Let’s not turn the thermostat up so high. Let’s not buy so many things we don’t really need. And above all, let’s not accept continued energy growth as a necessary or even desirable way of life.

  118. @ Jeff Read

    Let me drag this back on-topic by observing that hackers are not typical people and they want to not be typical people. They are not fans of totalitarianism.

    The only solution is powerdown — actively working to reduce our energy footprint….

    As Dawn Stover puts it:

    To which I say: Why don’t we just not do it? Let’s not build any new power plants except to replace old, inefficient ones. Let’s not dig up all the oil. Let’s not drive to work alone. [and on and on] And above all, let’s not accept continued energy growth as a necessary or even desirable way of life.

    That is so cute! It reminds me of hippies putting daisies into the rifle barrels of National Guardsmen (pre Kent State, I assume). It’s like people saying “Why can’t we all just be nice to each other?”.

    Don’t you realize that it would take a totalitarian government to actually make this happen? It isn’t going to help AGW if only a small(ish) proportion of people get into it.

    And, in any case, there are still the billion Asians that want a car and billions of people that want to have more energy-using appliances. (I am, of course, pulling these numbers out of the air.)

    Hackers aren’t into totalitarianism. Asian hackers (other than those in Japan, I guess) have fellow countrymen that really want to use more energy.

    This isn’t the post to be spouting greeny totalitarianism.

  119. The only solution is powerdown

    No, that’s just the only solution the hard left likes, and it has zero chance of being accepted by the general public, because it turns out we like our cars and HDTVs and modern medicine. Meanwhile, their lies and fearmongering regarding nuclear power have resulted in far more environmental damage than the alleged squadrons of Koch-funded climate skeptics.

  120. Actually, now that I think about it, I should have provided the entire quote by Ms Stover. In addition to what I quoted, it also included:

    Let’s not eat meat every day. Let’s not turn the thermostat up so high. Let’s not buy so many things we don’t really need.

    @ Brian_2

    Meanwhile, their lies and fearmongering regarding nuclear power have resulted in far more environmental damage…

    I totally agree.

  121. @Jeff Read (surprise)
    The only solution is powerdown

    If in such conspicuous folly we didst accept this naive view; it were better to unleash nuclear armageddon on this small orb and snuff our race from the universe quickly (and by comparison with many of the alternatives) painlessly. For if we give up all hope and attempts of beating the Fermi Paradox and think not that our extinction is guaranteed are we not the greatest of fools?

    – Foo Quuxman

    p.s. yeah, been watching Shakespeare

  122. @ Peter Donis
    > If it isn’t politics, what is it?

    Given that you continue to mischaracterise the state of climate science so as to support your apparent conclusion that the IPCC does politics and not science, I don’t think we are likely to agree.

    However, to the extent your question is asked with an honest interest in my answer, I would respond that what “drives” the IPCC is the scientific duty to make sure that policy makers are provided with a sound scientific basis upon which to base critical political decisions.

    I would have thought most people would agree that it is preferable for this advice to be provided by the global scientific community rather than idealogues and lobbyists with undisclosed funding sources.

  123. @Jeff Read: Considering that leaving the problem unfixed pretty much involves the destruction of ecosystems on an unprecedented scale

    “Unprecedented” in what time frame?

  124. @TomM: you continue to mischaracterise the state of climate science

    Do you dispute what I said about the level of our scientific understanding of water vapor and clouds? It’s taken right from the IPCC reports.

    I would have thought most people would agree that it is preferable for this advice to be provided by the global scientific community rather than idealogues and lobbyists with undisclosed funding sources.

    It’s not being provided by the “global scientific community”. It’s being provided by a particular subset of that community, a subset which is known to have a particular agenda. But that’s not the real problem; the real problem is here:

    what “drives” the IPCC is the scientific duty to make sure that policy makers are provided with a sound scientific basis upon which to base critical political decisions

    In many (perhaps most) scientific areas with political implications, we do not know enough to provide a “sound scientific basis” for political decisions. An honest scientific community would tell that to “policymakers”.

  125. Can the pro-AGW crowd please explain something to me?

    When we look at the ice cores, we see that CO2 levels rise and fall in response to temperatures, with a roughly 800 year lag. When CO2 levels are at their highest (within tens of thousands of years), the temperatures begin plunging toward another ice age. When they are at their lowest, they begin rising into another interglacial period. The CO2 level was far higher a long time ago, and the planet still had ice ages even then. If CO2 drives temperatures, how is this possible?

    I have asked this question many times, and have never gotten any meaningful response.

  126. “It’s not being provided by the “global scientific community”. It’s being provided by a particular subset of that community, a subset which is known to have a particular agenda.”

    The scientists have data, the “skeptics” have opinions. Mostly opinions on the personality of scientists. I prefer to discuss reality based on data, not on opinions about personality disorders.

    Lets get to a simple fact regarding question 1: Is the climate warming?

    A serious amount of money is invested in the expectation that the arctic ice cover will reduce a lot in the coming years. This money is invested by entities that publicly “doubt” global warming (e.g., USA, Canadian, and Russian governments, oil and gas companies).

    Many of these entities fund the (pseudo-)”science” that denies AGW.

    So, if the very people that pay for studies from climate “skeptics” that deny global warming do themselves not believe the results, why should we?

  127. @ Peter Donis
    > It’s taken right from the IPCC reports.

    Righto. So you can provide linked references?

    > It’s being provided by a particular subset of that community,

    Yes, if what you mean is the “subset” of the community that is actively publishing peer-reviewed climate science.

    > In many (perhaps most) scientific areas with political implications, we do not know enough to provide a “sound scientific basis” for political decisions.

    Pish and posh. Sophistry aside, lack of perfect knowledge is not the same thing as the lack of a sound scientific basis.

  128. Pingback: Coding Freedom: a review • bring back unix

  129. @TomM: So you can provide linked references?

    Here’s the page from the AR4 that I was referring to:

    https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-9-1.html

    See the charts down the page; the “LOSU” column is the one I was referring to.

    Yes, if what you mean is the “subset” of the community that is actively publishing peer-reviewed climate science.

    Richard Lindzen has many peer-reviewed publications:

    http://www-eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen.htm

    He was lead author for the physical science section of the AR3, but was not included in the working group for the AR4. Why not? Because he has expressed skepticism about the models, specifically that they are overestimating the effect of feedbacks.

    lack of perfect knowledge is not the same thing as the lack of a sound scientific basis.

    I didn’t say we should have perfect knowledge; I said we don’t know enough. Preface it with an “IMO” if you like.

  130. @Winter: Lets get to a simple fact regarding question 1: Is the climate warming?

    Yes. It’s been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. So what? The policy question is what we should do. If we don’t know enough about how the climate works to control it (which I believe we don’t), then we have to adapt to it.

  131. @Peter Donis
    “Yes. It’s been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age. ”

    Funnily, this has been, and is being, denied left and right by climate “skeptics”. People still get attacked ferociously for publishing plots showing the temperatures are rising.

    Remember the “hockey-stick” controversy?

  132. @Jeff Read
    All I see is handwaving: “OK, that just means the FIRST 800 years weren’t caused by CO2, but you can’t prove that the rest of it was! neener-neener!”

    Nothing about that explains how it is that when CO2 is at its HIGHEST, the long-term temperature trend drops precipitously. There is some factor at work that is so powerful that it can start an ice age with far higher CO2 than humans have ever seen (as there were ice ages long before there were humans, when CO2 levels were insane by modern standards).

    I understand how seductive post hoc, ergo propter hoc is. It’s very easy to see X followed by Y and then conclude that X caused Y. But this is pre hoc, ergo propter hoc. If you want to claim that a factor that came into force 800 years into a process is the prime mover of that process, you have a LOT of explaining to do, and to have a dismissive attitude toward “deniers” who “haven’t read the literature” doesn’t cut it.

  133. @Peter Donis
    “The policy question is what we should do. If we don’t know enough about how the climate works to control it (which I believe we don’t), then we have to adapt to it.”

    We do not have to adapt. The solutions are rather simple: Switch to solar energy a decade before we have to anyhow. And, adapting might mean we have to “reduce” the population by some 2 billion people. Are you a volunteer?

    An area the size of Germany filled with solar cells set up in the Sahara will supply the total energy 1 billion people will need for the coming decades. North America and Asia have lots of suitable desert to do this.

    Read all about it in:
    Sustainable Energy – without the hot air
    http://www.withouthotair.com/

  134. @Winter: Remember the “hockey-stick” controversy?

    I didn’t say the climate has been warming for the last thousand years; I only said it has been warming since the Little Ice Age. The hockey stick redacted both the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period from history, despite much independent evidence that they happened, and that in fact the MWP may have been warmer than today (our host has commented on that before). Yes, there were plenty of people who attacked the hockey stick because they were attacking anything that showed rising temperatures; but there were plenty of others who pointed out genuine problems with it.

  135. @Winter
    “Remember the “hockey-stick” controversy?”

    That’s because the data were manipulated to make the entire post-LIA temperature increase appear to have occurred in about a half century. In fact, the program that produced the hockey-stick graph has been demonstrated to produce one from random input data.

  136. W> An area the size of Germany filled with solar cells set up in the Sahara will supply the total energy 1 billion people will need for the coming decades.

    How do you store that energy during the sunny days for use at night and when it’s cloudy?

  137. @Winter: We do not have to adapt. The solutions are rather simple: Switch to solar energy a decade before we have to anyhow.

    To me this *is* adapting; but I agree my usage of the term is probably not the standard one. If people want to build huge solar arrays in the desert, great! Get some investors and go for it. As long as it’s in fair competition with other sources of energy.

    adapting might mean we have to “reduce” the population by some 2 billion people. Are you a volunteer?

    That’s not adapting; that’s giving up. Adapting means figuring out how to cope *without* having to impose any draconian measures on anyone, whether it’s carbon controls or population controls.

  138. If the AGW alarmists were serious about actually fixing the problem, instead of fixing themselves as masters of a totalitarian state, they would raise private money to fund research into *cost effective* energy production technolgies that emit less or no CO2. Nothing else has any prayer of any effect. The vast majority of people on this planet want a high energy lifestyle.

    Many environmental activists would rather travel to conferences in exotic places and hobnob with rich and powerful people.

  139. @Peter Donis
    I think you have not considered the effect of climate change on human societies in enough detail. Eg, the cost of “adapting” is rather huge.

  140. Meanwhile, their lies and fearmongering regarding nuclear power have resulted in far more environmental damage than the alleged squadrons of Koch-funded climate skeptics.

    The Fukushima nuclear disaster did more to instill fear of nuclear power than the left’s alleged “lies and fearmongering” ever could. And before you counter with “but Fukushima was a triumph of nuclear safety engineering” — yes. You’re right. That’s the point: it still failed, and it still leaked unsafe levels of radiation. Imagine if it hadn’t been so impeccably engineered?

    Don’t you realize that it would take a totalitarian government to actually make this happen? It isn’t going to help AGW if only a small(ish) proportion of people get into it.

    No, it wouldn’t take a totalitarian government. It’s possible to adjust public attitudes the same way the forces of evil do it: PR. And the forces of good have successfully deployed PR strategies to this end: ever notice that cigarette smoking and unprotected sex have become not cool? We’ve seen concomitant decreases in lung cancer and AIDS, respectively.

  141. @ESR

    Reading the post And they’re complaining why, exactly? you mentioned a friend who was developing an electric lawnmower whom you might VC bomb; is there any news in that direction?

    Also a couple of my posts seem to have been eaten by the +steel spam trap+.

    @BobW
    Why Thank You for your most generous praise, I figured Shakespearian dialogue was better than a torrent of profanity.

    @Jeff Read
    Re: nukes
    If I bring the data will you stop making such a fool of yourself?

    – Foo Quuxman

  142. >you mentioned a friend who was developing an electric lawnmower whom you might VC bomb; is there any news in that direction?

    Alas, no. He hasn’t shown the required ability to run a business yet.

  143. Peter Donis on Wednesday, January 30 2013 at 3:18 pm said:
    > in my judgment, the economic cost of mitigating CO2 emissions to a meaningful extent would be higher than the economic costs of adapting to climate change.
    Compare your piously neutral language with the passionately outraged moral superiority of those who intend a totalitarian terror state and the murder of billions

    We could of course substantially reduce carbon emissions at reasonable cost by massively and rapidly increasing nuclear power, but any alternative source of energy somehow ceases to be “alternative” whenever it is capable of generating actually useful amounts of power, for example the Severn tidal barrage or the tower of power.

    The only solution that is acceptable to greenies is massive reduction in power use, a solution that they admit involves the death of billions and a totalitarian terror state with greenies in charge of it.

  144. @Jeff Read: it still failed, and it still leaked unsafe levels of radiation.

    Only because the backup generators that were needed to provide cooling water for the reactor core after shutdown were sited badly and were flooded by the tsunami. The solution to that is to not site the backup generators badly; it isn’t to stop building nuclear reactors. (Newer core designs won’t even be vulnerable to that failure mode anyway; they won’t need backup generators to provide cooling to the reactor core after a shutdown.)

  145. @JAD
    The only solution that is acceptable to greenies is massive reduction in power use, a solution that they admit involves the death of billions and a totalitarian terror state with greenies in charge of it.

    Funny how it *ALWAYS* comes down to some form of genocide.

    – Foo Quuxman

  146. @JAD: piously neutral language

    That’s more or less what I was trying for, so I guess this is positive feedback. :-)

    We could of course substantially reduce carbon emissions at reasonable cost by massively and rapidly increasing nuclear power

    Yes, that’s true; I wasn’t really including this option under “mitigating” because, as you say, no one who advocates “mitigation” is willing to consider it. In any case, there are other good reasons to switch to energy sources other than Middle Eastern oil; if we were smart we would have made nuclear power a national security objective back in the 1970′s, when it became obvious that OPEC wasn’t going to play nice any more even though we were sending them all that money.

  147. @JAD:
    > > piously neutral language

    Peter Donis on Thursday, January 31 2013 at 5:32 pm said:
    > That’s more or less what I was trying for

    Since it is progressives that live in a glass houses, should not we be the ones throwing stones?

  148. @BRM
    > The dip from 1910 to 1920 may well be from the “mass production age”,
    > but this tended to increase the value of labor…

    > …It is important to note that housing prices are determined by people that buy houses
    > – people that lose their job and become poor don’t buy houses.
    > The graph is sort of weird in the depression in the 1930s due to monetary deflation
    > – housing prices fell but the cost of labor and materials fell faster.

    There was an acceleration of debt in the world as the network effects from the industrial revolution displaced more workers. In my opinion, the economy turns towards debt to keep everyone on pace with those fewer who are valuable in the new technology paradigm. If they can’t compete with income, the neighbors compete by borrowing. Globalization was borrowing from the future. Thus there was a bubble in housing prices and economic activity, because debt redistributes capital to the sector that spirals prices higher, in order to sustain more debt. The collapse of this bubble, caused the downturn in housing prices (as shown on the Case-Shiller historical chart that I previously mentioned), and then there were only a fewer number of high technology buyers of houses, so prices stay depressed for decades.

    I think this is repeating now. If correct, then we are only at the start of the coming decades downturn.

  149. @JustSaying
    > I think this is repeating now. If correct, then we are only at the start of the coming decades downturn.

    If correct, then we can place a heaping portion of theblame on esr (and the rest of us nerds) for doing the network effects of the computer.

    @JM and Jeff Read, the points were the 800 year lag, the cost of fixing what is not sure, and the potential of destroying the ecosystem if we do nothing. All I see that is a sure, is a coming big regressive tax, Malthusians gain mindshare, and another cycle of widespread technological displacement and debt deleveraging. Those seem to go together in history. So what is new?

  150. re: JAD and Jeff Read

    I guess JAD has had more exposure to Jeff Read than I do. When JAD suggested, way up thread, that Jeff

    intends, and knowingly intends, a totalitarian terror state (see the video “no pressure”) which murders six billion

    I assumed that JAD was doing his group/individual thing – attributing to Jeff the most extreme view of the greeny-totalitarians.

    The motives of the video “no pressure” are still a mystery to me, but it seems that Jeff is a greeny-totalitarian that wants billions to die to fit his idea of how the Earth should be.

    This truly is insane.

  151. @ JustSaying

    I am not sure about your interpretation of the dip in housing prices between 1910 to 1920.

    In my opinion, the economy turns towards debt to keep everyone on pace with those fewer who are valuable in the new technology paradigm.

    Of course, “the economy” can’t decide to do things, but the government does. I don’t know much about that period in history to really agree or disagree with you.

    Now, however, whatever the goals, the US and its debt/deficit seems like a ticking bomb. A loss of faith in US treasury debt would cause a positive feedback loop that would be no fun at all.

    Another aspect is that apparently (I don’t really understand this), the Fed must eventually sell the bonds it is buying (another $85 billion this month). It seems to me that when bond yields are so low, the Fed unwinding its bond position is going to make a vast amount of wealth disappear while simultaneously raising the effective interest rate on the bonds. This will make it even harder for the US to service its debt… downgrades… higher interest rates (another positive feedback loop)… It could implode the financial system. It is a weird time.

  152. The only solution that is acceptable to greenies is massive reduction in power use

    Nuclear power (or any form of abundant nonpolluting energy) is to greens as the HPV vaccine is to social conservatives: a bad thing because it allows us to continue in our sinful and decadent ways while avoiding the punishment that we deserve.

    And before you counter with “but Fukushima was a triumph of nuclear safety engineering” — yes. You’re right. That’s the point: it still failed, and it still leaked unsafe levels of radiation. Imagine if it hadn’t been so impeccably engineered?

    And this is a perfect example of the persistent and utterly irrational fearmongering. We shouldn’t build new nuclear plants because an old plant sustained an extremely unlikely event and failed to cause a catastrophe. What?

  153. @ Brian_2

    it allows us to continue in our sinful and decadent ways while avoiding the punishment that we deserve.

    To quote P.J. O’Rourke (from memory) in relation to pollution…

    They want it to be evil even more than they want it stopped.

    and P.J. quoting some prominent greeny (again, from memory)…

    A cheap abundant source of energy would be like giving a machine gun to a child.

  154. BRM aka Brian R. Marshall on Thursday, January 31 2013 at 8:49 pm said:
    > The motives of the video “no pressure” are still a mystery to me

    As a student of monsters, and someone capable of walking the shoes of monsters without sympathizing excessively, its motives are perfectly clear to me, but it is difficult for me to express those motives in words.

    A lot of left wing rhetoric amounts to “resistance is futile. You will be assimilated”. “History is on our side”, rhetoric that Moldbug ridicules as “rivers of meat”, by which he means displays of mindless might lacking any logic, argument, or reason.

    So, in Moldbug’s terminology, “no pressure” could well be described as a pile of meat. Muscle is on display, but not brains.

    People perceived it as ridiculous because the Global Warming movement is defeated. Climategate caused Tony Abbot, Tony Abbot caused China to abstain from Copenhagen, China abstaining killed Copenhagen. The death of Copenhagen killed warmism, but they just don’t realize it yet.

    If, however, the movement was still as alive as they imagine themselves to be, the video would have been as persuasive as they expected it to be. Had warmism been truly alive, few people would have condemned the video, and that minority that condemned it would have been denounced as racist, sexist, homophobic, in the pay of Big Carbon, crazy, paranoid, and completely lacking any sense of humor, and there would have been a mad rush on the right to disassociate themselves from those evil crazies so extreme as to denounce the video.

  155. @Jay Maynard: “A case in point to support Eric’s statement that it only looks mindless: My mother didn’t think much of cartoons…until I showed her one of the first Animaniacs shorts, with a throwaway line “I haven’t been this upset since we made Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead!”. She fell in love. That’s the kind of subversive current Eric’s referring to: a 10-year-old would find it funny, but an adult would find the extra layer of humor underneath.”

    I’m confused as to how a reference to a PG13-movie from two years prior is an example of this. The contemporary target audiences of the two aren’t the same, but they’re not all that far apart either. Maybe I’m missing part of the joke.

  156. I’m sorry for replying continuing with the political argument that has happened, but this made me go “what.”

    @James A. Donald – according to leftism, people are born homosexual, but maleness and femaleness is entirely the result of culture and upbringing

    I have no idea what you could _possibly_ be on about, here. Whether you agree with it or not, that someone could be raised as male (or even born with male parts) and still be on some inherent level female, or vice versa, is definitely of the left and not of the right.

  157. Copyright is not property. It is a bargain. Creators agree to give up control after a period of time during which we agree not to freely copy it. Unfortunately, creators have given up their end of that bargain, and so we have chosen not to hold up our end. Creators are free to start giving up control after a period of time less than “forever”.

  158. @Jeff Read:
    >The Fukushima nuclear disaster did more to instill fear of nuclear power than the left’s alleged “lies and fearmongering” ever could. And before you counter with “but Fukushima was a triumph of nuclear safety engineering” — yes. You’re right. That’s the point: it still failed, and it still leaked unsafe levels of radiation. Imagine if it hadn’t been so impeccably engineered?

    But Fukushima *wasn’t* a triumph of nuclear safety engineering. It may or may not have been when it was built, but by the time of the accidents it wasn’t: the reactors were 30-40 years old, and both the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents had happened since the Fukushima plant began operation, meaning that many lessons learned from those accidents could not be incorporated into the Fukushima design.

    With a Chernobyl/Fukushima-scale accident somewhere in the world every 25 years (the gap between the two accidents), you’d end up with approximately a 30km exclusion zone around each plant. This breaks down to around 100 square km being made uninhabitable every 25 years, or 400 km^2 every century (and presumably most of this could be reclaimed after a few decades or centuries, so the actual accumulation of uninhabitable land would be even slower than that). You’d also end up with 25-ish direct deaths (based on a count of 47 for Chernobyl, zero for Fukushima) and an uncertain number of extra cancer deaths (I’ve seen estimates from a few thousand to about 100,000). Assuming the worst case, that’s 400,000 deaths per century, or an average of 4000 per year, though I think that’s high (plus, those cancer deaths are going to be delayed by a fair amount, so the actual number of years of life lost isn’t going to be as high as if all the victims were killed on the day of each disaster).

    How does that compare to the land loss and loss of life from climate change, sea level rise, and wars over dwindling oil supplies in the best-case scenario you think plausible? I’m not sure of loss of life, but I’ve seen land loss estimated at tens or hundreds of thousands of square kilometers.

    @BRM:
    >but it seems that Jeff is a greeny-totalitarian that wants billions to die to fit his idea of how the Earth should be.

    I wouldn’t go that far: You can do population reduction by limiting your birthrate rather than increasing your death rate (such as with a one-child policy). Of course, if your birthrate limiter takes the form of abortion (especially enforced abortions), religious conservatives like me will be crying murder. But I haven’t seen him advocating population reduction, just “powerdown”, which could in principle be done without any such reduction. Whether it could be done with less disruption than climate change would cause, is, of course, a completely different question, but I think that the environmental movement is in general more likely to kill people through negligent but well-intentioned blundering than deliberately to reduce a perceived population surplus.

  159. @Random832:
    >I have no idea what you could _possibly_ be on about, here. Whether you agree with it or not, that someone could be raised as male (or even born with male parts) and still be on some inherent level female, or vice versa, is definitely of the left and not of the right.

    The impression that conservatives tend to get from the left is that the left believes that, while people are physically plumbed (with a few exceptions) one way or the other, everybody is psychologically gender-neutral to start with and that *all* maleness/femaleness on a psychological level is a cultural construct, rather than following from physical gender through hormones or differential brain development. I doubt that many liberals believe both the claims set forth in the preceding sentence *and* that people can be inherently homosexual (or can have an inherent psychological gender different from their physical gender), but the combined effect of the most strident voices from the left and the priority each gives to different ideas causes both claims to reach conservative ears without much sign that the people advancing either claim might disagree with one another.

    So we get something like this:

    Conservative position: Physical gender and inherent psychological gender both exist, and always coincide, any difference between physical and observed psychological gender is because of cultural constructs, and is not inherent. Homosexuality is always a cultural construct.

    Your position (if I understand it correctly): Physical and inherent psychological gender both exist, but do not always coincide, resulting in differences between physical and observed psychological gender. Homosexuality may be inherent.

    Some other liberals’ position: Physical gender exists, inherent psychological gender does not, and psychological gender is always a cultural construct (that may not match physical gender). As sexuality is not inherent (beyond plumbing), homosexuality cannot be inherent. Both homosexuality and heterosexuality are cultural constructs.

    Combined liberal position as heard by conservatives: Physical gender exists, inherent psychological gender does not, and psychological gender is always a cultural construct (that may not match physical gender). Homosexuality may be inherent.

    All that said: Given that objections to homosexuality in Western culture tend to be religiously based, and specifically tend to come from Christian doctrine, whether homosexuality is inherent or not is rather moot: another tenet of Christianity, that tends to be forgotten on both sides in debates on homosexuality, is that of original sin: somehow the whole thing with Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit led to the whole human race developing an inherent bent towards doing things that are wrong. So, on the one hand, that some people should feel an inherent compulsion towards some specific thing that the Bible says is wrong (like homosexuality) is not surprising, nor does the compulsion call into question (given original sin) whether that thing might be wrong. On the other hand, given that everybody (given original sin) feels an inherent compulsion to do *something* that is wrong (whether in general or whether they are inclined to some specific misdeed), there is no reason to single homosexuals out as more depraved than people who engage in heterosexual acts that the Bible forbids (adulterers, etc), nor indeed as more depraved than any other human being (greedy CEOs, Pharisaical pastors, people with anger issues, liars, thieves, drunks, etc).

  160. >A cheap abundant source of energy would be like giving a machine gun to a child.

    Paul Ehrlich. A similar quote is sometimes attributed to Amory Lovins.

  161. >A cheap abundant source of energy would be like giving a machine gun to a child.

    Coal and oil were just that. Solar energy seems to be the next one, if there is ever a next one.

  162. @Jon Brase
    “some people should feel an inherent compulsion towards some specific thing that the Bible says is wrong”

    The causality is reversed.

    Religions are very, very fond of rules that forbid things people like to do. Whether or not the forbidden acts have any observable detrimental consequence is only of secondary importance. I used to hear that eating meat on a Friday would bring a person in hell.

    So, if people have compulsions, you can be assured their religion will say they are wrong and should be forbidden.

  163. @Jon Brase

    Don’t forget that Chernobyl was an imperial fuck-up of the first order, not only in design; but in operation and response as well.

    – Foo Quuxman

  164. @Jon Brase: But Fukushima *wasn’t* a triumph of nuclear safety engineering.

    The radiation release at Fukushima had *nothing to do* with a failure of nuclear safety engineering. It happened because the backup generators that were needed to provide cooling water to the reactor after shutdown were sited poorly. The lesson to draw from that, as I posted earlier in this thread, is to site the backup generators properly. As far as the engineering of the reactor core itself was concerned, the Fukushima reactors performed admirably; if they hadn’t been so well engineered, the failure of the backup generators would have caused much worse problems than it did.

  165. @Peter Donis eo
    “The radiation release at Fukushima had *nothing to do* with a failure of nuclear safety engineering.”

    I have been puzzled for decades now about the popularity of nuclear energy on the “Right”.

    My point is most definitely not to argue about nuclear energy safety or economics. But what makes nuclear so popular with the Right?
    Are it the bombs you can make with it?
    Is it the technological gadgetness?
    Is it that it can be owned?
    Is it that it demands lots of capital?
    Is it to have something to fight over with the Left?

    Nuclear energy is neither cheap, nor plentiful (fuel runs out before oil), nor particularly safe. These elusive breeder reactors are even more expensive and less safe, lead to more waste, and are still not really out of the experimental phase.

    A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows already that alternatives can deliver more energy at a lower price with less risks. Even increasing efficiency of use delivers more net energy than nuclear power could ever deliver.

    Before you start, someone has already done all the calculations and came up with nuclear energy as something that “might contribute to the total mix”, at most. And debunking a lot of myths at the same time (wind energy won’t cut it, nor does wave energy).
    http://www.withouthotair.com/

  166. I would like to point out that oil != electricity. Since the ’70s the USA generates almost no electricity by burning oil.

    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3

    We burn oil mainly for transportation.

    Perhaps everyone here knows that, but not everyone seems to be writing that way.

    That’s still enough to make oil imports an economic and security problem.

    Electricity is more than cheap enough to substitute for oil in transportation, but there other other problems. Batteries of a useful capacity are either too large and heavy or too expensive.

    If electric cars were cheap enough many people would buy one. An electric car with 100 mile range would make a great second car. Battery cars are fun to drive, and cheap to operate. The batteries bite you in the wallet, hard.

    As I said earlier, if greenies really cared about CO2, they would collect private donations to fund battery research. They don’t do that.

  167. @Winter

    I think that you are mistaken. There is no nuclear fuel shortage. There are huge deposits of uranium all over the world. High level nuclear waste can be reprocessed into fuel. Breeder reactors can make more fuel.

    If you want a high energy civilization, you need concentrated high capacity sources of electricity. Nuclear has a number of advantages.. It doesn’t polute the air. Operating costs are low.

    Nuclear construction costs are high because of regulatory and political uncertainty.

    Your solar project in the Sahara has even more political uncertainty than nuclear. In addition to the Islamists, I suspect the greenies would protest covering up so much ‘untouched’ desert. They do in the USA.

    I wouldn’t want to depend on an extension cord across the Med to Algeria.

  168. @Winter
    How about Light Fluoride Thorium Reactors?

    There is plentiful Th available, LFTRs actually reduce the amount of fissionable material and long-half-life material, do not require pressurized cores, and in a worst-case situation the drain plug (kept cold by active cooling while the reactor runs) melts, safely shutting down the reactor.

  169. >But what makes nuclear so popular with the Right?

    Not being a conservative myself I won’t try making this inference about “the Right”. I will merely hope that “the Right” is rational enough to be arguing from the consequences of energy density, pollution, and expected mortality.

    An industrial civilization needs not just total joules but the ability to deliver lots of joules per second at a given spot. Electricity is difficult to store and lossy to transmit. So the energy density of your power source (jouls per second) really matters – not so much for (say) heating and cooling homes as it does for (say) smelting aluminum.

    “Renewable” energy sources all have one important thing in common: their energy densities suck. If you want to have an industrial civilization (and not having one means billions die before we drop back to a miserable existence as subsistence farmers) you need high-energy-density power plants. That means coal, oil, nuclear, or hydroelectric – and all the good hydroelectric sites are being exploited already. Which means we’re down to coal, oil, or nuclear.

    Contrary to your assertions, nuclear energy is both the safest and the cleanest of those three. The evidence for this is diamond-hard and right there in the statistics on mortality per kilowatt-hour – it was already well established when I read Petr Beckman’s The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear in 1972. Breeder reactors do work – they’re well past the ‘experimental’ stage.

    Oil and coal should be chemical feedstocks, not fuels. They burn dirty – coal plants even release more radioactivity into the biosphere than nukes do, not to mention the chemical toxins. Lower energy density means a larger physical plant per megajoule, with higher human mortality and worse secondary enviromental effects. Environmentalist opposition to nuclear power is stark staring insane and a major reason to doubt that the so-called “environmental” movement is actually about saving the environment at all.

  170. @Winter: Nuclear energy is neither cheap, nor plentiful (fuel runs out before oil), nor particularly safe.

    It’s not cheap because of all the lawsuits; without those the capital investment up front would be somewhat larger than for a comparable capacity from other sources, but the operating costs would actually be lower according to some estimates.

    The calculations that say the fuel runs out soon are based on a once-through fuel cycle with no reprocessing, which is stupid. Similarly, the estimates that say breeder reactors make more waste assume zero reprocessing, which is stupid.

    The safety record of nuclear energy is better than that of every other major energy source if you do a fair comparison; for example, this page has a table of deaths per Terawatt-hour generated:

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

    The obvious advantages of nuclear energy are that it is always on and you can put it wherever you need it–you don’t have to depend on the sun shining or the wind blowing and you don’t have to worry about energy storage or long-distance transmission–and there is a lot of potential fuel available if you count thorium (and a lot more even than that if you count fusion, which on the thousand year time scale of the site you linked to should definitely be counted). Advantage #1 is why it beats solar and wind, and advantage #2 is why it beats fossil fuels. At some point we’ll solve the energy storage and transmission problem and advantage #1 will be much less of an advantage; but that seems to be further in the future than breeder reactors.

  171. The motives of the video “no pressure” are still a mystery to me, but it seems that Jeff is a greeny-totalitarian that wants billions to die to fit his idea of how the Earth should be.

    No, I don’t want billions to die. But the fact is that human resource and energy consumption already exceeds Earth’s carrying capacity, so if we go on being energy- and resource-profligate and pretending that nothing can stop our growth, a lot of people are going to die — real soon.

  172. All transportation but air travel can be run on electricity. There are already backup storage dams that store realy huge amounts of backup power.

    With electricity you can make liquid fuels.

    There are many desserts in political stable areas, eg, the USA.

    No one has ever planned to replace all energy, including transportation, with nuclear power.

  173. >It’s not cheap because of all the lawsuits
    What kind of lawsuits ? If it’s the kind that serve to “internalize the externalities”, they just have to be taken as a component of the cost structure of nuclear energy, no ?

    I’m always rather intrigued by claims that nuclear power is cheap, because that was exactly the sales pitch when nuclear was introduced in Belgium in the 80s : we’d get cheap electricity.
    In reality, electricity prices remained high – among the highest in Europe (and the rest of the world)

    So it looks like we’ve either been lied to, or we’ve been overcharged. I don’t like either.

  174. @Jeff Read: human resource and energy consumption already exceeds Earth’s carrying capacity

    In which case you believe that either the population has to sharply decrease, or the standard of living has to sharply drop. So either you want billions to die, or you want everybody to be poor.

    What I can’t get is why people who make the argument about carrying capacity don’t even consider the possibility of increasing Earth’s carrying capacity, which is exactly what technology has been doing throughout human history.

  175. @kn: What kind of lawsuits ? If it’s the kind that serve to “internalize the externalities”, they just have to be taken as a component of the cost structure of nuclear energy, no ?

    The lawsuits I was referring to are the ones that have been brought in the US to stop construction of just about every planned nuclear plant since the 1970s. These can’t be viewed as internalizing externalities because they were not based on any actual damage done or even any reasonable estimate of possible future damage done; they were basically a combination of irrational fear and NIMBY. If we allowed lawsuits to stop construction of power plants based on any reasonable estimate of damage done, nuclear plants would be the last on the list, as the link I gave earlier shows: people would be suing to stop coal plants from being built way before they sued to stop nuclear plants, or indeed any other kind of plants, from being built.

    that was exactly the sales pitch when nuclear was introduced in Belgium in the 80s : we’d get cheap electricity

    Nuclear plants, viewed as a public utility, are subject to all the same issues that keep prices of other utilities from being competitively set. Public utilities are basically government-granted monopolies.

  176. @ ESR -”Environmentalist opposition to nuclear power is stark staring insane and a major reason to doubt that the so-called “environmental” movement is actually about saving the environment at all.”

    This thread has migrated rather far afield from the OP, but perhaps I can connect them.

    The environmental movement, at least in countries that lean socialist, has acquired a charismatic aura by promising everyone a green earth utopia, if only the politicians will let them run the show. Substitute “Soviet autocracy” for green movement, and you will see where this leads.

    A better question to ask is . . . why do these parasitic movements keep arising?

    Game theory modeling has provided some insights. As a technological society becomes (and remains) affluent, the dead-weight fraction of the population rises significantly and eventually reaches a point where parasitism thrives. This is not an argument for anti-affluence, but merely points out that dead-weight in a society is cancer.

  177. @ Jon Brase

    @BRM:
    >but it seems that Jeff is a greeny-totalitarian that wants billions to die to fit his idea of how the Earth should be.

    I wouldn’t go that far: You can do population reduction by limiting your birthrate rather than increasing your death rate (such as with a one-child policy).

    I will be generous and assume that I have over-stated the case: Jeff doesn’t want billions to die, he just wants them gone – make of it what you will.

    A one-child policy would reduce the increase in population quickly, but wouldn’t that take generations to actually reduce the population by two thirds? AGW activists seem to be convinced that we don’t have that much time to reduce the amount of (carbon based) energy.

  178. @ ESR

    Not arguing with what you said (and I don’t know a whole lot about this) but most of the electricity in Alberta comes from burning coal. We have lots of extremely clean coal – good for energy and making steel.

  179. Not arguing with what you said (and I don’t know a whole lot about this) but most of the electricity in Alberta comes from burning coal. We have lots of extremely clean coal – good for energy and making steel.

    “Clean-burning fossil fuels” are like “safe sex” — there’s no such thing as clean/safe, just cleaner/safer.

  180. @ Winter
    > what makes nuclear so popular with the Right?

    I think this is at least partly because nuclear power (Good!) has become, for the right, a political talisman – much like “big government” (Bad!) climate science (Bad!), creationism (Good!) and abortion (Bad!).

  181. Jon Brase on Friday, February 1 2013 at 3:10 am said:Some other liberals’ position: Physical gender exists, inherent psychological gender does not, and psychological gender is always a cultural construct (that may not match physical gender).

    The reality is even subtler: “psychological gender” is actually physical, in that it is neurological wiring inside the brain. Everyone gets a signal from inside the brain which says “male” or “female”. Gender dysphoria arises when that signal doesn’t match the gross anatomy. It’s hard-wired, and can’t be reprogrammed.

    In the Reimer case, an infant boy with damaged genitals was surgically neutered and raised as a girl. But the child always knew he was male, despite the lack of male genitalia and the insistence of his well-meaning parents (and a clever-dick academic psychologist). How? Because the wiring in his brain said so.

  182. @ Jeff Read

    “Clean-burning fossil fuels” are like “safe sex” — there’s no such thing as clean/safe, just cleaner/safer.

    Yeah, well, no solution is perfect, but we have a great deal of coal that is very damn close to being pure carbon – so little sulphur that it is ideal for making steel. Since I am not concerned about CO2 re: AGW, it is a good way to make electricity Alberta.

  183. @TomM

    I think this is at least partly because nuclear power (Good!) has become, for the right, a political talisman – much like “big government” (Bad!) climate science (Bad!), creationism (Good!) and abortion (Bad!).

    Too many people talk this way about those who disagree with them.

    You conflate various viewpoints into one bogeyman. You dismiss the individual reasoned opinions as kneejerk reactions.

    One might in turn describe the liberal/progressive/whatevertheycallthemselves position as:

    “Nuclear power (Bad!) has become, for the left, a political talisman – much like “government regulation (Good!), AGW (TEOTWAWKI!), creationism (Ignorant superstitious theocratic rednecks!) and abortion (They want to control my body!).”

    For those of us who like a high energy civilization, want clean air and water and would prefer that nobody live in poverty, nuclear power seems like a good tradeoff. It pollutes much less and the problems it presents are manageable.

  184. @ BobW

    abortion (They want to control my body!

    Suppose a man and a woman willingly have sex. Neither wants to get married. Neither wants the woman to get pregnant but she does anyway. Now, some folks refer to the “woman’s right to choose”. But the choice is not only about the woman’s body, it is also about whether to have a baby.

    An aspect that I have often considered is that this choice is also about whether the man is going to pay child support for the next couple of decades. Abortion being a yes or no decision means that there aren’t many ways of dealing with this choice.

    It just seems to me that a “woman’s right to choose” and referring to the “woman’s body” is… not addressing the full range of aspects.

  185. > You conflate various viewpoints into one bogeyman.

    No. I was making an observation that:
    - there is an axis of orthodox conservative argument on a number of otherwise apparently unrelated issues; and
    - acceptance of those orthodoxies is a sort of political talisman for the right.

    You are correct that the oppositional nature of political debate means that you can also (more or less) invert the positions to describe an orthodox “progressive” position.

    I’ll allow that its not “fair” to conflate views in this way. For example, esr is not a young-earth Creationist and so it is not “fair” to associate his climate contrarianism with the young-earth Creationism of the nutty religious right who also happen to be climate contrarians.

    But by the same token, young-earth Creationism is so mind-numbingly stupid that it is extraordinarily difficult to take seriously very much of anything that a young-earth Creationist says.

  186. @BRM

    Don’t get sidetracked from our sidetrack here.

    Jeff Read and TomM, and to a lesser extent Winter seem to have low opinions of Americans who are not Democrats. They tar everyone with one brush. I think this is a mistake.

    Now, they may be young and inexperienced, or they may be trolling, or they may operate from assumptions they have not examined for decades, if ever.

    I get the very same vibe from the left that they talk about coming from the right. It’s fundamentally irrational.

  187. @ BobW

    > low opinions of Americans who are not Democrats.

    I’m not sure why you are so keen to mischaracterise what I have said.

    For the record, I think a young-earth Creationist who votes Democrat is likely to be about as stupid as a young-earth Creationist who votes Republican.

  188. @BRM
    >I am not sure about your interpretation of the dip in housing prices between 1910 to 1920.
    >
    >> In my opinion, the economy turns towards debt to keep everyone on pace with
    >> those fewer who are valuable in the new technology paradigm.
    >
    > Of course, “the economy” can’t decide to do things, but the government does.

    I agree that the collective politics was a big factor, especially now the people expect the government to fix the debt crisis. The economy makes decisions, because individuals make opportunity cost choices. While we were busy fiddling with computers in the 1980s and for example myself writing one of the world’s first wysiwyg commercial word processors for the Atari ST, I was watching others in California who went into construction, borrowed money to have a Toyota 4×4 pickup, lifted with big tires, a hot chick gf, and a second home at Lake Tahoe. I was watching most middle class couples go into debt, because otherwise they could not earn enough to live the quality of life they thought they deserved immediately (no saving for the future). Whereas, I was as a new knowledge age worker was earning enough at a young age to buy everything I wanted with cash. And the effects were must less pronounced in the 1980s than it is now, because now the internet has enabled labor all over the world to compete with jobs in the developed countries for call centers, business process outsourcing, etc.. For example, I know a lady that earns $8 per day, compiling 30 or so corporate annual reports per day. She interfaces with the corporations via email and real-time chat.

    > the Fed unwinding its bond position is going to make a vast amount of wealth disappear

    Last time I checked, most retirement plans were heavily invested in these bonds, so retirement plans could go bankrupt. Surely the government will bail them out, so these means the dollar will be devalued relative to necessities we buy (all currencies are in a competitive devaluation). This is why the smoothed price of gold is rising, continuing until the real interest rate is positive (using non-liar inflation stats).

  189. @Peter Donis:
    >The radiation release at Fukushima had *nothing to do* with a failure of nuclear safety engineering.

    I never said it did. I just said that, whatever it was when it started operating, it was no longer a “triumph” of nuclear safety engineering 40 years later. I said this to counter Jeff Read’s assertion that because Fukushima was a triumph of nuclear safety engineering and failed anyways, we know that nuclear power is inherently unsafe.

    @Rich Rostrom:
    >The reality is even subtler: “psychological gender” is actually physical, in that it is neurological wiring inside the brain. Everyone gets a signal from inside the brain which says “male” or “female”. Gender dysphoria arises when that signal doesn’t match the gross anatomy. It’s hard-wired, and can’t be reprogrammed.

    That’s approximately what “your [Random832's] position” is in my previous post, and is largely the conservative position, though most conservatives would tend to argue that the signal can only mismatch with gross anatomy when gross anatomy has been artificially manipulated (as in the Reimer case you mentioned), whereas I’ve heard the argument from the liberal side that brain gender can mismatch with natural gross anatomy. From the conservative point of view, the individual in the Reimer case is a heterosexual male that was mutilated in an attempt to correct birth defects (or so I gather, I’m not sure if by “damaged genitals” you mean birth defect or injury).

    @esr:
    >Environmentalist opposition to nuclear power is stark staring insane and a major reason to doubt that the so-called “environmental” movement is actually about saving the environment at all.

    Insane, yes, but I believe that environmentalists are actually trying to save the environment. I think the keyword here is “Hanlon’s Razor”. Furthermore, I doubt that even all environmentalists are anti-nuclear. A big problem with the environmental movement is that it’s fragmented enough that it can’t agree on an appropriate alternative energy source. (Some advocate solar, some don’t want to panel over the desert, etc).

  190. @esr
    > Which means we’re down to coal, oil, or nuclear

    And natural gas, which is incredibly abundant in for example the USA due to fracking. Hope everyone saw the news that peak carbon fuels is dead (at least in the USA).

    > Oil and coal should be chemical feedstocks, not fuels

    And as transportation fuels, because batteries are not competitive.

    Toyota has cars that burn LPG, which can be made from natural gas.

  191. Wow this thread has gone allot of places.

    Is anyone (particularity you Eric) familiar with the fission fragment reactor? the concept seems to deal with many if not most of the problems of fission while at the same time being ultra-efficient when used with direct conversion grids, think %80 efficiency, easily.

    Screw you Carnot limit.

    – Foo Quuxman

  192. > But the fact is that human resource and energy consumption
    > already exceeds Earth’s carrying capacity

    Prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.

    > consider the possibility of increasing Earth’s carrying capacity, which is
    > exactly what technology has been doing throughout human history

    +1

    > A one-child policy would reduce the increase in population quickly

    And leave not enough youth to pay for the care of the elderly.

  193. @BobW: “I get the very same vibe from the left that they talk about coming from the right. It’s fundamentally irrational.”

    It cannot help but be so.

    An awful lot of what I see in online forums I term “religious arguments”, but not because they have anything to do with religion. The problem is that the truly divisive issues reside on a gut level, not a rational one, and often aren’t susceptible to rational argument. I’ve sometimes called man the rationalizing animal, because most of what passes for rational thought consists of coming up with reasons after the fact why what we already decided to do in our gut is not only a good idea but the best possible move under the circumstances. (And we can be endlessly creative at manufacturing excuses when it blows up in our faces that avoid confronting the idea that we Wrong.)

    I tend to avoid the sort of discussion going on here at the moment as a waste of time. Something triggers the reflex, each side states its position, and digs in deeper as the argument proceeds. If an opinion actually changes, it’s because $DIETY worked a miracle to order.

    The late psychiatrist Eric Berne talked about the Position. The Position is a sort of unconscious, existential statement of “This is who I am, this is how the world works, and this is how I fit into the scheme of things.” We absorb the Position through the skin from the adults around us, starting at a pre-verbal age, and it’s set in broad outline between 5 and 7 years old. Once we have adopted a Position, our prime goal is to defend it. We look for evidence that supports our views, and ignore or reject, perhaps violently, evidence that contradicts us. The Position becomes part of our “sense of self”, and questions of the Position may be interpreted as attacks on *us*. (And that’s why psychiatry can be a dangerous profession, as one thing a psychiatrist attempts to do is to make the Position conscious and explicit, so it can be examined and perhaps modified.)

    Positions somewhat out of phase with reality can produce behavior we call neurotic. Positions *really* out of phase with reality can produce behavior we call psychotic. Berne came up with an elegant therapeutic technique to uncover the Position: he’d ask a patient “Imagine your life is a fairy tale. Which fairly tale is it, and which character in the tale are you?”

    Looked at the right way, the extreme left and right can loop around and meet on at least one axis. For instance, one underlying base is your opinion of others. Are people fundamentally good, neutral, or bad? And which ever they are, are they capable of making their own decision, or must the be led (or forced) to particular actions “for their own good” , because they’ll make *bad* decisions left to their own devices?

    One area where you’ll see unconscious agreement among extremists is that people must be led or coerced to perform certain actions, because they *aren’t* capable of making the right ones on their won. What those actions should be may differ depending on which extreme is talking, but the notion that everyone else should be *required* to perform them because they won’t do so voluntarily will be common. (And of course, the speaker advocating this is one who knows what the Right Thing to Do is and is qualified to lead/coerce the masses who don’t…)

    To the extent that I take part in discussions like this, my interest tends to be not what people believe (as they’ll go on about that at great length) but rather why they *want* to believe it, and what makes their particular beliefs appealing to them. I’m trying to uncover the Position, and know going in I’m unlikely to get far.

  194. >This breaks down to around 100 square km being made uninhabitable every 25 years,

    Whoa, I made a glaring math error there: That’s 2,800 km^2 per 25 years or ~11,000 per century.

  195. @ JustSaying

    We seem to have drifted way off-topic as well. I will briefly comment that I agree that debt at all levels, including that of individuals has created a precarious situation.

    I appreciate the link – anyone that actually pays to live knows that inflation in general is a lot higher than 2%.

  196. And natural gas, which is incredibly abundant in for example the USA due to fracking.

    You know what else is more abundant in the USA due to fracking? Poisoned water supplies. And earthquakes.

    Cheap energy is like building muscles fast with the aid of steroids: yeah, you can do it, but you better be prepared for possibly devastating side effects.

  197. Pingback: Daily Linkage – February 2, 2013 | The Second Estate

  198. So why is Nuclear power popular?
    1 It is cheap, contrary to actual experience
    2 It is safe, between disasters and human errors. And if you do not mine the fuel
    3 It can supply some of the electrical power needs, unlike solar power, ehich could supply all energy needs with a lot to spare
    4 It is an endless supply, if we start building untested experimental thorium reactors
    5 There are plenty solutions to the waste problem. That is why everybody still stores the waste above ground in sheds.

  199. @Winter: That is why everybody still stores the waste above ground in sheds.

    Not everybody, just US plants. They do so because of political opposition to both reprocessing *and* long-term storage. In other words, opponents to nuclear power in the US have forced waste handling to be done stupidly, and then complain that it is being done stupidly.

  200. DMcCunney on Friday, February 1 2013 at 8:47 pm said:
    > Looked at the right way, the extreme left and right can loop around and meet on at least one axis. For instance, one underlying base is your opinion of others. Are people fundamentally good, neutral, or bad? And which ever they are, are they capable of making their own decision, or must the be led (or forced) to particular actions “for their own good” , because they’ll make *bad* decisions left to their own devices?
    >
    > One area where you’ll see unconscious agreement among extremists is that people must be led or coerced to perform certain actions, because they *aren’t* capable of making the right ones on their won.

    Untrue.

    What should we do with someone who falls asleep while drunk in a public place, and starts fighting when a guard wakes him up?

    The more libertarian someone is, the more the answer is likely to be “hang ‘em all”.

    Everyone agrees that we need coerce bad people. The question is, as Stalin said, who whom.

    Let us consider the issue of driver’s licenses and compulsory third part insurance.

    The hard core extreme statist position (aka “moderate”) is that you should have them in order to drive.

    The hard core libertarian position is that we don’t need them.

    The hard core reactionary position is that the better class of people don’t need them, and that someone of the inferior class of people should need permission from someone of the better class in order to drive.

    The californian progressive position is that Hispanics don’t need driver’s licenses and compulsory third party insurance, but whites do.

    So, the difference is not whether you are in favor of coercing or not, but who gets to do the coercing, and who gets to be coerced. Who Whom? On driver’s licenses, it is the “moderates” that take the most coercive position, and the right and the left that take a less coercive position.

  201. @James A. Donald: I thought the hard core libertarian position was that there is no such thing as a “public place”; the owner of any given space gets to decide how people who enter that space have to behave, and how they are treated if they break the rules.

    Similarly, the hard core libertarian position on driving is that every road has an owner who gets to decide who can drive on it and what requirements they have to meet.

  202. @James A. Donald:

    What should we do with someone who falls asleep while drunk in a public place, and starts fighting when a guard wakes him up?

    Assuming the libertarian acknowledges the existence of such a public place, what exactly would be the rationale for not letting the drunk sleep in peace?

  203. You know what else is more abundant in the USA due to fracking? Poisoned water supplies. And earthquakes.

    [ citation needed ]

  204. “A big problem with the environmental movement is that it’s fragmented enough that it can’t agree on an appropriate alternative energy source. (Some advocate solar, some don’t want to panel over the desert, etc).”

    …and none of them is willing to get his hands dirty. All forms of energy production have their downsides. Ecofreaks have a hard time with this.

  205. @Jeff Read
    > due to fracking? Poisoned water supplies. And earthquakes

    Do you have comprehensive statistics to support an argument that the benefits are outweighed by the costs? Do you even have comprehensive stats on these effects that are claimed in the media hype?

    I see people here in the mountain using their bodies or animals to carry firewood for cooking, to plow the farm, to carry farm products to the highway. It is a pitiful existence that I am sure they would sacrifice drinking bottled water to rise up from.

    Your “compassion” helps them exactly how?

  206. > The problem is that the truly divisive issues reside on a gut level, not a rational one,
    > and often aren’t susceptible to rational argument

    If the expectation is to change the others’ minds, then agreed, i.e. politics is a time-sink. If rather one wants to state the facts and ask for factual proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the facts win in the sense that those who value the facts have the rationale scientific method to use for their own decisions.

  207. James A. Donald:
    > > What should we do with someone who falls asleep while drunk in a public place, and starts fighting when a guard wakes him up?

    Patrick Maupin on Saturday, February 2 2013 at 8:56 pm said:
    > Assuming the libertarian acknowledges the existence of such a public place, what exactly would be the rationale for not letting the drunk sleep in peace?

    Same reason as we don’t allow passed out drunks to sleep it off at the mall.

    The guard wakes him up, because if he did not fight the guard, he would probably fight one of the customers.

  208. Pingback: Daily Linkage – February 3, 2013 | The Second Estate

  209. >> acknowledges the existence of such a public place, what exactly
    >> would be the rationale for not letting the drunk sleep in peace?

    I suppose because they are statistically associated with not being peaceful?

    I suspect the underlain motive is to eliminate eyesores.

    >
    > Same reason as we don’t allow passed out drunks to sleep it off at the mall.

    For any public gathering, the owner of the venue whether it be the government or private, is subject to liability for public safety.

    The alternative would be? Citizens carry firearms?

  210. The guard wakes him up, because if he did not fight the guard, he would probably fight one of the customers.

    Only if the customer woke him up. Do you actually look at what you write? “We provoked him because we thought he might be dangerous when provoked.”

    I suppose because they are statistically associated with not being peaceful?

    Yeah, probably because they don’t get enough sleep.

    I suspect the underlain motive is to eliminate eyesores.

    Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! Which, frankly, doesn’t itself strike me as very libertarian, except when done by the private property owner of the Gap or Nordstrom’s or some other such snooty place.

    I sometimes like sleeping in the park. Although I won’t be, you can’t possibly determine whether I’m drunk or not unless you wake me up (or sneak up close enough to administer a stealthy breathalyzer test). And you really don’t want to wake me up without a most excellent reason — it won’t go well.

  211. Patrick Maupin on Sunday, February 3 2013 at 11:00 am said:
    > Do you actually look at what you write? “We provoked him because we thought he might be dangerous when provoked.”

    If someone thinks that being woken up in a public place is provocative, we need him out of that place.

    There are bad people around, and sleeping in a public place is part of the profile – and one of the few profile features one is allowed to act on.

  212. If someone thinks that being woken up in a public place is provocative, we need him out of that place.

    I think it’s provocative — at least the way the cops usually do it. Apparently, this means you don’t think I should be allowed in any public places.

    There are bad people around, and sleeping in a public place is part of the profile – and one of the few profile features one is allowed to act on.

    Sleeping in a public place often simply means that you have no other place to sleep. While this is true of some bad people, it is not necessarily a distinguishing feature, which some courts have recognized:

    http://peopleproject.wordpress.com/legal/lawsuit-stops-most-state-imposed-sleep-deprivation-between-9pm-and-6am-in-san-diego/

    So, depending on where you are, no, it’s not allowed as profiling. And since being tired while homeless is no more a crime than being black, that’s actually a good thing.

  213. > > There are bad people around, and sleeping in a public place is part of the profile – and one of the few profile features one is allowed to act on.

    > Sleeping in a public place often simply means that you have no other place to sleep.

    If you look out the window of your plane, the silliness of that claim is obvious. Plenty of empty places, if few people around, no risk of being rousted. A sleeping person is only a threat of mayhem and murder when other people are forced to walk near him. That someone chooses to sleep where he looks like a potential threat to others is an excellent indication that he really is a threat to others.

    A large proportion of these people, perhaps most of them, are dangerous, destructive, and need killing. Seeing how they react when being woken up is a good test of which ones are dangerous..

    As a general rule, anyone who has committed assault after being woken up in a public place where it is unacceptable to sleep, for example a railway station, will himself go up to strangers who are sleeping in a public place where it is entirely acceptable to sleep, for example the beach, and himself wake them up to administer an unsolicited lecture on some topic of which the recipient has little interest. Should the recipient disagree with any major point in this lecture, the lecturer will become threatening. If the guy I had in mind had been killed after assaulting police, I would have had more sleep.

    Which is why I favor killing people who commit assault when rousted. It means they don’t roust me.

  214. @James A. Donald: I suppose I wasn’t clear enough, because you missed my point.

    Whenever people live together in groups, there must be agreement on what constitutes acceptable behavior. We call the agreement “morality” or “custom”. We call the written down version “law”. But the agreement must exist, or the society does not survive.

    All societies will have controls to enforce the agreement. The controls may be internal or external or a combination of both, but controls will always be present.

    Different societies will have somewhat different agreements on what is acceptable, and have different controls to enforce the agreements. Part of the fun occurs when different societies meet and interact, and their agreements and controls don’t correspond.

    One of the underlying assumptions in any society is the nature and motivations of those living in it.

    Speaking personally, I don’t assume people are inherently “good” or “bad”. I assume people simply *are.* (“Good” and “bad”are subjective and relative to what individuals feel they are, not objective descriptors.) I further assume that people will all behave in what they feel are their own best interests. The issues arise when you feel actions I take in my own interests are detrimental to yours. Every society has mechanisms for attempting to resolve such conflicts, and defining where my rights end and yours begin.

    If I assume you are inherently a bad person (as I define bad), and/or that you are incapable of making rational decisions, I will behave toward you in a rather different manner than if I assume otherwise.

    The sort of extremist I referred to assumes that *everyone* not of their particular group is “bad” and/or incapable of making rational decisions, and that the power to make significant decisions must be withheld from them. The end result if they prevail tends to be what we might call dictatorship or oligarchy, regardless of which side’s view of desirable is the prevailing one. The significant factor from my viewpoint is that a dictatorship of the right and a dictatorship of the left are both dictatorships, regardless of the justifications they may offer for being organized that way.

  215. DMcCunney on Sunday, February 3 2013 at 4:08 pm said:
    > The sort of extremist I referred to assumes that *everyone* not of their particular group is “bad” and/or incapable of making rational decisions, and that the power to make significant decisions must be withheld from them.

    No such extremists exist, nor have they existed anywhere ever.

    There are some particular groups whose members are, on average, less capable of freedom than others, less able to make sound decisions in their own interests, but even in the days of slavery, no one proposed that all blacks needed needed to be owned by whites. For example, practice in the west Indies was that free blacks were re-enslaved only for demonstrated and alarming incapacity to look after themselves.

  216. Eric,
    You’re doing fine as an ethnographer. The only thing that your anthropological self education is missing is the feedback you get from working with others in the field and office. Too much of this can get you into that academic rut that’s noted in comments on the book review.

    I’ve got an anthro degree and several decades as an R&D technician in various fields. Lately I’ve fallen into a cottage industry using anthropological methodologies in complex projects. Ergonomic considerations for software design, requirements generation, and documentation all improve with cultural insights. You’re doing OK, just keep writing.
    Zail

  217. @James A. Donald: “No such extremists exist, nor have they existed anywhere ever.”

    “Let it be as you say.” I disagree, but doubt anything I might say will change your view.

  218. @Just Saying: “If the expectation is to change the others’ minds, then agreed, i.e. politics is a time-sink. If rather one wants to state the facts and ask for factual proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the facts win in the sense that those who value the facts have the rationale scientific method to use for their own decisions.”

    The facts may win in that sense. But people’s actions are taken in response to decisions made on a gut level. Facts may or may not play a part. (In areas like politics and religion that compose part of the worldviews of those involved. “may not” is the way to bet.)

    In discussions like this, most have staked out their territories. Facts they agree with will be preaching to the converted. Facts they disagree with will be ignored/rejected. (And there will be the related discussions over whether some particular datum *is* an actual fact that must be considered.)

    As mentioned up thread, my interest is in the underlying worldview, and what makes particular beliefs attractive to those who hold them. I don’t expect to change anyone’s view, and normally don’t waste time trying.

  219. @James A. Donald:
    > > “No such extremists exist, nor have they existed anywhere ever.”

    DMcCunney on Sunday, February 3 2013 at 6:12 pm said:
    > doubt anything I might say will change your view.

    Doubtless that is why you chose not to give an example of such an extremist.

  220. Patrick Maupin on Sunday, February 3 2013 at 6:32 pm said:
    > Except that a hell of a lot of people who “commit assault” when rousted really didn’t. Here’s the tip of the iceberg:
    >
    > http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/19/new-york-cops-beat-guest-of-jewish-learn

    Needed killing.

    I watched the you tube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kha1CDdkFzY

    Two cops politely, patiently, and respectfully attempt to roust him. He ignores them, they fetch a third cop. He gets up and then marches up to third cop and waves his fist in the third cop’s face.

    If he did that to a cop, he would probably do that to me. If he did that to me, we would probably wind up in a fight, just as the cops did. If we wound up in a fight, one of us might die. I would rather it was him or a cop, not him or me.

  221. @JAD:

    Despite your opinion of what the video shows, the homeless guy is doing much better since it was released.

    But then, we’ll apparently never agree that people who are just sleeping should usually just be left alone.

  222. @Patrick Maupin: people who are just sleeping should usually just be left alone

    Apparently JAD also would not agree that:

    (1) A person sleeping on a couch inside a community center, where no one else is present, is not the same thing as a person sleeping on a park bench in full view of the public;

    (2) People who say they have permission to be in a place should not be forcibly ejected without at least trying to check their story;

    (3) People should not be thrown out of a place where they have been sleeping without at least being given a chance to get dressed first.

  223. @Peter Donis:

    It is difficult to take all JAD’s words at face value and try to reconcile them.

    My current working hypothesis is that he is a coward who despises yet requires a police state. This would easily explain his need for a rigid racist, sexist social hierarchy backed by the force of law that places him near the top, and requires those below him to act properly within narrow boundaries at all times, or risk near-certain death.

  224. @Jeff Read

    Notice it reads: “Solar power now being sold for less than coal.”
    (emphasis mine)
    Not: “Solar generated electricity now being produced for less than electricity generated by a coal burning power plant, including amortized cost of the generation equipment.”

    My apologies to any actual accountants for misuse of any technical terms. I mean to say that you can set an arbitrarily low price for anything. If you set it too low you lose money. If you get a subsidy that lets you make money, the rest of us lose money.

  225. > Two cops politely, patiently, and respectfully attempt to roust him. He ignores them, they fetch a third cop. He gets up and then marches up to third cop and waves his fist in the third cop’s face.

    What do you imagine _you_ would do, if someone did the same to you, if you were sleeping in, let’s say, your own bed? You seem to take grave offense at being ‘rousted’ from places where you have the right to sleep, given you have said that people should be killed on the theory that they might do that to you.

    Now, having established that, what is the materially relevant difference between your own bed and another place that the owner has given you permission to sleep (and thus where you can assume that if the police are there to ‘roust’ you, it is not at the owner’s instigation or with his permission)?

  226. @JAD In short, I’m wondering what you consider to be the materially relevant difference between the police, who are waking this man up from somewhere he has the right to sleep (having received express permission to do so from the owner), and the hypothetical combative homeless person who wakes you up when you’re trying to sleep on the beach (where you believe you have the right to sleep despite having received no such express permission)?

    And, you say they “politely, patiently, and respectfully attempt to roust him” – it is _fundamentally_ disrespectful and impolite to wake someone up when they have the right to be sleeping where they are. The “respectful”, “polite” thing would have been to do everything they can to rule out the possibility he might have the right to be there before approaching him.

  227. > (2) People who say they have permission to be in a place should not be forcibly ejected without at least trying to check their story;

    Doubtless, but he was aggressive. Cops and guards get into fights with aggressive people so that people like me do not have to. They were not inclined to check the story of someone who wanted a fight, and neither would you or I be.

  228. Random832 on Monday, February 4 2013 at 2:02 pm said:
    > In short, I’m wondering what you consider to be the materially relevant difference between the police, who are waking this man up from somewhere he has the right to sleep (having received express permission to do so from the owner), and the hypothetical combative homeless person who wakes you up when you’re trying to sleep on the beach

    Nothing hypothetical about that guy.

    The difference is:

    that when he woke me up, I did not try to fight him, did not use aggressive body language towards him, did not become verbally aggressive towards him, even though he became verbally aggressive to me. He asked me, among other things, “do you want to become sharkbait”, when I declined to sympathize with his tale of how the police had oppressed and victimized him..

    Whereas your homeless guy did use aggressive body language, and presumably verbal abuse to the police.

    My possibly homeless guy (he did not mention homelessness on his lengthy list of how society had cruelly victimized him) tells me he attacked the police when they woke him up, and they had it coming to him, but they beat him up, and then hauled him to the cop shop, and then beat him up some more. I did not tell him he had it coming to him though he doubtless did, but merely declined to express the socially required shock and disapproval of police beating him up in the cop shop, (I think I might have said something like “well of course they’re going to beat you up”) which led to him threatening to kill me and feed me to the sharks.

    Which confirmed my theory that they should have killed him.

  229. @JAD: They were not inclined to check the story of someone who wanted a fight

    They should have checked his story before it ever got to that point. As soon as he said he had permission to sleep there, they should have stopped right there, said “Give us a minute”, and checked his story before doing *anything* else.

    Remember, this was not a park bench or a street; it was a community center, with owners who had the right to decide who did and who did not get to sleep there. One could argue that they should have called the owner before even rousting the guy, but I’ll let that pass as a judgment call. Certainly they should have called the owner as soon as they heard the guy say he had permission to be there.

  230. @JAD
    > Plenty of empty places, if few people around, no risk of being rousted

    Homeless people don’t have the funds to travel far from the city (their food supply) every night.

    > Doubtless, but he was aggressive

    You would potentially be aggressive too if you were homeless, and awoken every night numerous times every where you tried to sleep.

    If society wants to have a policy of harassing homeless people in parks, then it should provide sufficient shelters for them. Otherwise with your policy, we effectively saying we want homeless people dead, because people don’t remain sane if they don’t get sleep.

    I suppose the assumption is that a homeless person is in the predicament because they are insane and can’t function in the society. But in some poor countries, the tolerance of the homeless is much more compassionate, because the population is aware that could be themselves in the future.

    The coming debt bubble implosion of the developed countries is going to be interesting.

    > when I declined to sympathize with his tale of how the police had oppressed and victimized him

    You don’t understand sleep deprivation? You don’t acknowledge the rational cause of the difference in behavior between a dog who is kicked and loved every day?

    > in the west Indies was that free blacks were re-enslaved only for
    > demonstrated and alarming incapacity to look after themselves

    Train an animal to be dependent, then it loses the skills to be independent.

    Failure to train independence, is a convenient excuse for enslaving yourself. Yes yourself, because slavery retarded the south’s technological development.

  231. @JAD:
    > > They [Police] were not inclined to check the story of someone who wanted a fight

    Peter Donis on Monday, February 4 2013 at 7:13 pm said:
    > They should have checked his story before it ever got to that point

    There is no sound in the video, but it looks like he ignored the police until the third policeman arrived, and only then did he start arguing – which argument was made in such a manner that no one is likely to check his story, or even hear what he is saying, for no matter what he was saying, his body language would have made it sound like the chimpanzee threat it so obviously was, shutting down verbal communication for communication on a more primitive level.

    If police were to stop me to ask something innocuous, like have I seen someone lost, and I replied with that body language, I would probably get beaten up also.

  232. @JAD
    > I think I might have said something like “well of course they’re going to beat you up”

    He is probably pestering you at the beach because he is astute and he surmised that you fit the profile of “middle class extremist conservative white who supports police brutality”.

    You’ve brutalized him every day of his life. No wonder he hates you, but is giving you a chance to prove that you are not what he thinks you are. He shows you compassion by not launching an immediate, presumptuous mortal attack.

    You want war? Or you want peace? Be responsible for your policy choices.

  233. @DMcCunney
    > my interest is in the underlying worldview, and what makes particular
    > beliefs attractive to those who hold them

    Understanding human nature can be useful for making rational decisions. Any thoughts on the utility of knowing the cause, profile, and incidence of JAD’s selfish, king-envy? Is this widespread in the conservative middle class? What role if any does the religious right(eousness) play as moral cover for underlain selfishness? Etc.

    (this could be on topic since we are demonstrating the hackers’ ability to analyze rationally, and the compassion with optimum fitness that results in our culture of fairness and meritocracy)

  234. @JAD: it looks like he ignored the police until the third policeman arrived

    No, he didn’t. The female cop blocks the camera’s view of him for the first part (when he’s still lying down on the couch), but you can see both cops talking to him, and if you look carefully you can see his legs come down to the floor and his body moving behind the female cop. He’s clearly talking to them at that point.

    his body language would have made it sound like the chimpanzee threat it so obviously was

    If he was being so threatening, how come all three cops are perfectly calm at that point? They don’t show even the slightest sign of being threatened. They’re just listening to him talk.

    He’s agitated, yes, but as has been pointed out ad nauseam already, you would be too if you had three cops trying to roust you from a place where you had been sleeping for a month with the permission of the owner, and nobody was listening to you try to explain that.

    If he had really been threatening them, they would have taken defensive action at that point. Instead, they’re perfectly calm, and obviously they were perfectly capable of deciding at that point to check his story. They decided to escalate the encounter by trying to eject him instead.

  235. Peter Donis on Monday, February 4 2013 at 11:06 pm said:
    > If he was being so threatening, how come all three cops are perfectly calm at that point?

    That is how men act. When the man who woke me up on the beach said “Do you want to be sharkbait, Hey? Do you want to be sharkbait? I just stared at him with a neutral expression as if had been muttering unintelligibly to himself..

    The word for this neutral expression is “stone faced” – no expression, but no facial animation either. Those police were stone faced – excessively calm.

    You see similar behavior with guard dogs. The watchdog gets excited, the guard dog goes unnaturally passive and quiet.

  236. @JAD: Those police were stone faced – excessively calm.

    No, they weren’t. They were still talking reasonably to the guy. If they had been in the mode you describe, they wouldn’t have been talking at all. Did you hold a conversation with the guy who asked if you wanted to be sharkbait? No–you just stared at him. The cops weren’t staring; they were conversing. They were not perceiving the guy as a threat at that point.

  237. > Did you hold a conversation with the guy who asked if you wanted to be sharkbait? No–you just stared at him.

    I ummed and ahhed at appropriate points when he got onto a conversational topic other than me being shark bait. He started telling me how his mother was a whore, and his stepfather was shot by police, implying his biological father was a john. I think I was stone faced the entire conversation following the bit about shark bait, and was mentally rehearsing the moves to gouge his eyes and then rip his right rotator cuff, therefore not much listening, but I went through the motions of a conversation.

  238. Pingback: Daily Linkage – February 5, 2013 | The Second Estate

  239. @JAD: I went through the motions of a conversation.

    The cops don’t look like they’re going through the motions of a conversation; they look like they’re conversing. But there’s a better indicator than that. After the third cop moves away, the guy is standing, not gesturing, and the other two cops are still talking to him. Then they try to remove him from the room. How do they do that? If they perceived him as a threat, what would you expect them to do? If it were you, I suppose you’d gouge the guy’s eyes and rip his right arm out of its socket. A cop who had a bit more respect for the rule of law might tell the guy “put your hands behind your head and stand still, you’re under arrest”.

    These cops don’t do anything like that. The woman cop just tries to grab the guy’s arm. Once again, they don’t take any defensive actions and they don’t take any steps to formally arrest the guy, handcuff him, etc. They just try to take his arm and lead him from the room. That makes no sense if they perceived him as a threat. And if they didn’t perceive him as a threat, they could have stopped and checked his story right there. They didn’t; they chose to escalate the encounter.

  240. Peter Donis on Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 1:11 pm said:
    > The cops don’t look like they’re going through the motions of a conversation; they look like they’re conversing.

    My reading of the video:

    Two cops come in, grab the guys stuff while he sleeps (Standard operating procedure, you use his stuff as an inducement to cooperate)

    “Please sir, you cannot sleep here”

    “Please sir, you cannot sleep here”

    “Please sir, you cannot sleep here”

    etc

    Sleeping man stirs

    At 0:55 in the video cop backs away very slowly with unnatural calm – I read his body as expecting sudden violence at any moment, hence I read the stirring man as having said or done something threatening. “Go to hell facist running dog pigs of capitalism, I got a right to be here. Get the $%@% of me or you will be sharkbait. I got Friends in high places”

    When a cop backs slowly away from you, you are going to regret it shortly.

    1.0 Situation stabilizes, I read the cop as that he reads the situation violence as no longer immediately imminent or immediately likely.

    Cops talk with each other. Then one cop goes off to get reinforcements. They have obviously decided that violence is going to happen, but not immediately. Communication has shut down. Sleeping guy is back to ignoring them. He is not trying to persuade them that he has a right to stay there, even if they were in a mood to listen, which at this point they probably are not.

    1:13 Reinforcements arrive. 1:16 Suspect gets up, semblance of normal conversation ensues. Suspect body language arrogant, police body language stonily absent. They go through the motions of listening, maybe they are, but they are not in a listening mood, they are expecting and preparing for violence. From his body language, it is at this point the suspect explains he has permission, but they show no signs of hearing or understanding, or if they hear and understand, no signs of believing.

    Suspect is indignant, and doubles up on the arrogant body language, thereby halving the already slim likelihood that they will hear or understand.

    1:27 Suspect advances on cop and waves fist in cops face.

    From this point nothing much matters, because very shortly he is going to get a much needed and much deserved beating, no matter what the rest of the video shows.

    From 1:27 the rest of the video is completely predictable and nothing anyone says or does matters.

    Conversation continues. Suspect engages each cop in turn, his body language becoming less arrogant and more polite. 1:42 I think he has finally realized a beating is coming. From his and their body language, I conclude that none of the cops are really listening to him, they are just politely going through the motions of a conversation waiting for him to quiet down and leave, and have already decided that if he does not quiet down and leave they are going to kick his ass. And they are not expecting him to quiet down and leave.

    1:55 suspect adopts quieter and more humble behavior. Cops decide that they can simply grab him and haul him out without kicking his ass. Situation defused. Surprisingly, looks like it is going to be settled peacefully, due to major and amazing self control by police, and the suspects much belated realization that fighting three cops is a seriously bad idea.

    Plan to kick his ass abandoned, police no longer expecting or preparing for an ass kicking.

    2:02 One cop in front, one behind, prepare to grab and haul.

    2:04 Suspect threatens imminent and immediate violence, forgetting that he is dealing with people trained in violence. Police instantly drop the plan to drag him out semi peacefully, and return to plan A, plan A being that they are going to kick his ass.

    So so far, we have had three moments where the suspects aggressive and menacing behavior set the confrontation towards violence, and two pauses where police have defused the situation, and made possible a peaceful resolution by patience and politeness.

    2:08 suspect backs down from imminent violence.

    2:09 Police adopt attack posture, suspect adopts a non aggressive, non threatening pose.

    He should have tried that at 0:55

    2:10 Police, still in aggressive posture, prepare to handcuff suspect: Last chance for non violent resolution. He can let himself be arrested, as his non aggressive posture implies that he will.

    2:13 As the police expect, suspect predictably resists arrest, resumes aggressive posture. Hence the repeatedly delayed beating, which has been imminent since 0:55, is now finally coming down.

    2:14 Policeman kicks his ass.

    Rather than police brutality, I would say that that shows police patience and skill in defusing situations with difficult people. Should have killed him.

    Yes, they could have fixed the situation by listening to him politely explain at 1:40, but he could have fixed the situation had he politely explained at any time before 0:55. After 0:55, police are not in the listening mood, and after 1:27, they are considerably less in the listening mood.

  241. @JAD So, you never answered my first question: what do you imagine you would do if the police did the same to you in your home?

  242. Keeping in mind that you’re still half-asleep and (unlike, for that matter, most homeless people sleeping in public places) had no expectation of your sleep being disturbed by people demanding that you not sleep there.

  243. @JAD: They go through the motions of listening, maybe they are, but they are not in a listening mood, they are expecting and preparing for violence. From his body language, it is at this point the suspect explains he has permission

    In other words, you agree with me that the guy told them he had permission. At that point, the cops outnumbered him three to one, they were armed and he was not, and he was not an immediate threat. You say the cops were expecting violence, but you admit just a bit later on that that is because the only options they are going to give him are to leave or get beat up, and they don’t expect him to leave. Which of course he wouldn’t since he has permission to be there.

    All they had to do at that point to defuse the situation was to offer a third option: check out his story, and if it checks, leave him alone. You apparently think it’s OK for them not to even consider that option. That’s bullshit. Once again, they outnumbered him three to one, they were armed and he was not, and they have the full power of the State behind them. It’s their job to be mature and professional, and that means checking with whoever owns the place to verify the guy’s story. If the guy is indignant, so what? You agree that the cops are confident of prevailing if it comes to physical violence; and that removes the only excuse they might have had for not offering the third option.

  244. Peter Donis on Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 5:43 pm said:
    > In other words, you agree with me that the guy told them he had permission

    If you threaten people with violence, as he did before telling them he had permission, they will not hear anything else you are saying, or if they hear it will not pay attention to it at the time – which is why the police did not hear him telling them he had permission, or did not pay attention to it at the time. Violence is such a big thing, it blocks out everything else not directly related.

  245. Random832 on Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 4:27 pm said:
    > So, you never answered my first question: what do you imagine you would do if the police did the same to you in your home?

    This guy was not in his home.

    As to what I would do when sleeping on the beach, I already told you what happened when I was awakened on the beach.

  246. @JAD: Violence is such a big thing, it blocks out everything else not directly related.

    Only if you actually perceive the person as a real threat. Once again, by your own description, the cops did not expect the guy to hurt them; they expected to hurt him. That removes any possible justification for letting violence block out everything else.

  247. > Only if you actually perceive the person as a real threat. Once again, by your own description, the cops did not expect the guy to hurt them; they expected to hurt him.

    They expected that he would attempt to hurt them, and then they would hurt him, which in the end is what did in fact happen. Cops get killed and injured rather often. Consider when he waved his fist in the cops face. He could have easily made a strike for the eyes. Similarly, when he got out of bed, could have been armed.

    Whenever I interact with cops, I really try very hard to appear non threatening, and I do not always succeed. For example I held my hands slightly behind me, the reverse of waving them in the cops face, and they naturally concluded I had a weapon in an ass holster and was contemplating shooting my way out of the problem.

    Many of the people a cop or a guard interacts with are scary, evil, crazy and dangerous. They need killing because of general bad character. Sleeping in public, threatening cops who are politely and courteously waking you up, waving your fists in a cops face, are all parts of the crazy and dangerous profile.

  248. @JAD: Consider when he waved his fist in the cops face. He could have easily made a strike for the eyes.

    I don’t see any flinch on the cop’s part (and I’m not even sure the guy was waving his fist as opposed to just gesturing as a part of speaking). So even if a strike to the eyes was a possibility to begin with, it was quickly ruled out.

    Similarly, when he got out of bed, could have been armed.

    But he wasn’t, and that was obvious within seconds of him getting up. The point at which they should have stopped and checked his story is after that.

    I understand that cops have to deal with the possibility of violence. But they also have to be able to re-evaluate that possibility as an encounter develops and threats that might have been possibilities are ruled out.

  249. @JAD:

    > Cops get killed and injured rather often.

    This is bullshit. They are paid much better and have much lower risk of on-the-job accidents than fishermen, loggers, taxicab drivers, roofers, or farmers. They aren’t even in the top 10 for dangerous professions — one survey puts them at eleventh, but explains that 56% of the fatalities are traffic-inflicted. In other words, that cop you see driving badly? Yeah, a lot of them die doing that.

    But we pay the cops better than just about all those other dangerous professions, give them nice pensions, give them good training, and entrust them to take care of us.

    I know you don’t believe this, but I firmly believe that the gentleman in question was, at this time, one of _us_. He was where he belonged, doing an appropriate activity for the time of day. He couldn’t have been minding his own business any better at that moment in time.

    And I know you’re always completely in control of yourself, so let me give you one word of advice — never wake me up and start haranguing me and trying to slip behind me and grab my arms for no good reason. I won’t consciously be thinking about how to damage your rotator cuff, but my inner animal knows all too well, and right after I am violently awakened, he’s in charge.

  250. > So even if a strike to the eyes was a possibility to begin with, it was quickly ruled out.

    Sure it was quickly ruled out, but whenever cops have a conversation with me when I don’t want to have a conversation with them, they are scared even though I make a very big effort to appear non threatening. This suspect was making a big effort to appear threatening – which is always going to shut down communication.

    If cops are scared of me, they were really scared of this guy.

    Almost all cops are brave, (apart from quota/PC hires) just as all guards are brave. It is a job requirement. If you are not brave, you wash out in training. So they don’t show fear by being reactive, but by being unreactive.

    Brave people are not people who do not become scared. They are people who don’t much show it, people who go stony rather than jittery when scared. Psychopaths are people who do not become scared, and they try not to hire psychopaths as police or guards.

    These cops, except when the suspect was refusing to wake up and when the suspect pretended to go back to sleep, are being unreactive, therefore scared.

  251. > I know you don’t believe this, but I firmly believe that the gentleman in question was, at this time, one of _us

    If he was one of us, he would not have advanced on the cop and waved his fist in the cops face. If he does that to a cop, he would do it to me. His behavior fits the profile of people of I don’t want around, of people I want dead, of the evil crazy guy who woke me up when I was sleeping on the beach.

    In order to conclude that he was one of us, you have to think that the cops are not of us, and that it is OK for people like us to wave our fists in the faces of people who are not one of us. I do not agree, and if I agreed, I would not expect cops to agree.

    Yes, cops do bad things to people like us, while guards are unfailingly respectful of people like us. So naturally I prefer guards to cops. But we need cops to beat the crap out of people like him. That is what they are supposed to do. Cops, for all their faults, don’t beat the crap out of people like me, though they might arrest me for bullshit crimes. That is what makes cops, guards, and soldiers, people like me. I think most blacks are stupid and violent. So if the only thing I know about someone is that they are black, I think that he is not people like me. I think most black guards are stupid, but brave, honest, and only violent to people who need it.
    See the ratchet video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di_eyHxRDmg

    So I assume, absent evidence to the contrary, that a black guard is a person like me. I don’t assume a black professor is a person like me. Absent other evidence, I think the black professor is probably stupid, violent, lazy, and dishonest. I assume the black professor is stupid, violent, lazy, and dishonest, absent evidence to the contrary, because being a black professor is not evidence of intelligence or industry, whereas I know a black guard is brave honest and peaceable, because they don’t do affirmative action for guards. I assume the black guard is stupid, absent evidence to the contrary, but I still assume he is people like me, because he is on my side. That is his job. The mall would not have hired him if he resembled the professor.

    Since the suspect in the video we are arguing about is a Jew, I assume he is intelligent. Maybe he is a college professor. But even if he a college professor, I would not automatically assume he is sane, peaceful, or good. That he is sleeping where he sleeping, and acting as he acts, fits the profile of madness and evil. Therefore not people like me, while the big dumb black guard in the ratchet video is people like me.

    I support beating the homeless Jew and only regret that he still lives, I support the big dumb black guard tasering the ratchet, and I donate money to the big dumb black guard, even though his vocabulary is somewhat limited. He is on my side. The homeless Jew in the “police brutality” video, like the ratchet in the ratchet video, is not on my side.

  252. @JAD: As I’ve pointed out before, your contention that the cops were scared of this guy is not consistent with the way they handled him at the critical point: when he, by your admission, had told them he had permission to be there, and was not being threatening. If they considered him a real threat, they would not have simply taken his arm and tried to eject him. They would have put him under arrest: hands on his heads, one handcuffs him while the other watches closely, and *then* they take him away. They didn’t do that; that means they didn’t consider him a real threat. (That doesn’t mean they didn’t expect violence; it means they didn’t expect the violence to hurt them, only him.)

    And since they didn’t, they had no right to eject him without checking his story. This was not a “public” place like a park bench or a beach; it was a community center where someone–and *not* the cops–had the right to decide who got to sleep there and who didn’t. Which means the fact that the guy was sleeping there was *not* “evidence of madness and evil”.

  253. Peter Donis on Wednesday, February 6 2013 at 6:29 pm said:
    > As I’ve pointed out before, your contention that the cops were scared of this guy is not consistent with the way they handled him at the critical point: when he, by your admission, had told them he had permission to be there

    They look scared to me. They act like I act when I am scared. Maybe they don’t act like you act when you are scared. They look scared all the way from 1:16 to 1:55 They are acting pretty much the way I acted during my entire conversation with the crazy guy who kept asking “Do you want to be fishbait, do you?”

  254. @Vince Mulhollon

    Why is it anyone’s copyright’s job to enforce anyone else’s policies? And, the BSD license does, in fact, require a copyright notice to be reproduced. What exactly does the GPL do differently that is relevant to the BSD supposedly enabling plagiarism?

  255. > This guy was not in his home.

    He was in a place where he had permission from the owner to sleep, and no expectation of being suddenly interrupted in his sleep by people demanding that he not sleep there. The cops were not there at the instigation or with the permission of the owner. What is the relevant difference between this situation and if it had been his home?

  256. @JAD: They look scared to me.

    I wasn’t basing my comment on the way they look; I was basing it on the way they tried to force the guy to leave. Cops would not do that to a person they thought was a threat; they would, as I said, arrest him and cuff him if they were going to try to forcibly eject him from the building. That seems to me to be a less subjective judgment than trying to judge how they look, when all we have is a video shot at an odd angle with no sound and a poor reading on facial expressions.

    They act like I act when I am scared. Maybe they don’t act like you act when you are scared.

    If I were in a situation like the one you describe at the beach, with the crazy guy asking if you wanted to be sharkbait, I probably would have acted similarly to how you describe yourself acting. But you seem to be ignoring crucial differences between that situation and this one: that the guy claimed to have permission to be there, and it was not a public place but a place where such a claim was credible (as opposed to, say, someone claiming he had permission from the mayor to sleep on a park bench); and that the cops had clear control of the situation at the point where I am saying they should have stopped, told the guy to stand by, and checked out his story–they knew the guy wasn’t armed, and they had a three to one numerical advantage (not to mention an even greater advantage in poundage).

  257. > threatening cops who are politely and courteously waking you up

    There is NO SUCH THING as “politely and courteously” waking someone up who has permission from the owner of the place he is sleeping and when you have no connection at all to the owner. You keep saying that, and those words don’t make enough sense together to even be a coherent lie.

  258. @Random832
    JAD thinks the cops are the chosen department for a program to cull the weak (=unarmed) and inferior. They only need an excuse.

  259. Winter on Thursday, February 7 2013 at 3:33 am said:
    > JAD thinks the cops are the chosen department for a program to cull the weak (=unarmed) and inferior. They only need an excuse.

    In practice, we have the reverse problem, anarcho tyranny, that laws are only enforced against white middle class anglo saxon males, that everything is illegal, except crime, which is legal.

    Have you had a traffic accident on California roads? Chances are the other guy was at fault, had no english, no license and no insurance, and the police let him off.

    To enforce laws against some people, you have to smack them around and beat the crap out of them. If police are not allowed to smack such people around, the are only going to enforce laws against people like me, in which case, you are going to get killed by an unlicensed driver on California roads.

  260. @JAD your theory that people who are annoyed when police harass them, must be an indicator of a violent threat to society, is not correct in my case. I have never attacked or threatened others who have not initiated an attack or threat on me. I love people and enjoy social interaction. I have reacted with a pissed off attitude to police that wrongly harass me, especially in my younger years. And I was beaten, they even broke my jaw. As I matured, I learned to diffuse their cockiness by using clever speech that made them think I was one of them (“yeah let’s find and kick ass on disrespectful assholes, what help you need from me sir?”). I am a white male with Welch, French, and German ancestry born in the U.S.A.. Perhaps that I hung out with the minorities and in seedy places, e.g. West Hollywood, placed me in the racial profiling of “white trash”.

    My current belief (subject to data to the contrary) is the cops are doing the job that people like you have demanded of them. You state that you want them to use brutality. I don’t fault them, I fault your bizarre notions of society. This brutality is spreading throughout the society, and we know how this ends up in history.

    When you enter a public place such as beach, you have no right to be left alone. Go in your home if you want such a right. This was something that I did not understand until I went to third world countries. And it was difficult for me to adjust, but now I understand economics better. I understand now that if you want peace, you must purchase it. It is not a right. Nature never promised you peace. The bloated debt economics in the USA affords you this incorrect understanding of economics, and I don’t think it will be sustained.

    The State can’t protect you. The cops are always too late to the crime scene. We carry guns for protection. The only thing that can result from your desire to cull the society, is a violent devolution of society. Study history.

    You don’t really want the State to protect you, rather you want the State to enforce racism and put while Anglo-Saxon males on top. You feel that otherwise the State will put the others on top. Hey man (are you?), can’t you get a job and buy the respect you seek? If you want to be a top-dog, then earn more. Rather you want to leech off of the collective to compensate for your inability to compete. You will get as a result, a collective morass. And so you will waste your life in blogs with such nonsense.

  261. Note I did not make any claim about the relative merits of a homogeneous society, rather I am referring to the historical record of culling an already heterogeneous society. But we digress from clarifying the fundamental issue as follows.

    JAD, you’ve claimed that the law is applied inequitably, and argued that brutality is the means for obtaining more fairness, because you claim that disrespect for the enforcers of law is an indicator of disrespect for an equitable society. This logic fails because a collective is never equitable, because it can never be a meritocracy. Ultimately we earn our position in the free market. So I wonder why I bother arguing with you. You want to play politics. I stand aside.

  262. JustSaying on Sunday, February 10 2013 at 1:10 am said:
    > My current belief (subject to data to the contrary) is the cops are doing the job that people like you have demanded of them.

    Once of the things that I demand of them is that they arrest unlicensed drivers who cause traffic accidents. In California, this is not happening when the drivers are Hispanic, a fact that is glaringly obvious to everyone.

    Reality is that the law is enforced in a completely one sided fashion – it is enforced on people that can be fined, but not enforced on people that need to be beaten up to obtain compliance.

    That is a simple, easily observable, fact. The middle class is regulated and taxed to death, the underclass is given a free pass. This causes members of the middle class to get killed on California roads, among other problems.

  263. > on people that need to be beaten up to obtain compliance

    You won’t get complete compliance with the law, even if you beat them. You know the historical culture of central America is one of brutality (e.g. Aztecs), so this can only foster a natural escalation to what they are familiar with.

    I would say arrest them, fines, and impound the vehicles, but California can not afford the jails to imprison them– the debt morass that I speak of. Free education, welfare, medical care, etc.. to any one who comes, then many come.

    Perhaps it will resolve itself over time as California becomes a less economically attractive tit to suck. If it doesn’t escalate to mass violence in meantime.

    I don’t think you can succeed to convert the Hispanics to your preferred culture, nor remove them from the U.S.A.. You live in the great melting pot. It has its trade-offs. California became the world’s 8th largest economy in the world with the help of the Hispanics (and a lot of debt).

    You have options that are more efficient than the impossible. You can drive slower and/or armor-plate your vehicle. You can move. Etc.

  264. JustSaying on Sunday, February 10 2013 at 4:07 am said:
    > I would say arrest them, fines, and impound the vehicles,

    But they are not being arrested, not being fined, and no one is impounding their vehicles.

    In practice, equality works only one way. Women are equal to men, but men are not equal to women, and mestizos are equal to whites, but whites are not equal to mestizos.

    It is a situation that can only be fixed the way Darien Long fixed it.

  265. JustSaying on Sunday, February 10 2013 at 1:10 am said:
    > When you enter a public place such as beach, you have no right to be left alone.

    So according to you I have no right to be left alone by homeless guys, but homeless guys do have right to be left alone.

    This is the same unidirectional equality that means that I need a license and third party insurance to drive in California, but a mestizo does not.

  266. Jeff Read on Wednesday, February 13 2013 at 12:00 pm said:
    > False consciousness for dummies, by Reginald Braithwaite.

    Briathwaite argues that because of all those wonderful government interventions supposedly in my favor, because I cannot whip out a credit card and pay major medical bills,I should vote in favor mestizos who cannot drive being free to drive without a car license or insurance, I should vote in favor of police not being able to use violence on combative homeless, criminals, and crazies, that I should vote in favor of police not being able to roust homeless, but in favor of homeless being able to roust me.

    But in Singapore, where they actually do have a free market medical system for the affluent, I can whip out a credit card an pay major medical bills.

    As we are now seeing with Obamacare, the major function of all this government assistance is to ensure that you need government assistance. What is promised as a helping hand, some how always turns out in practice to be whips and a barbed wire fence.

  267. As we are now seeing with Obamacare, the major function of all this government assistance is to ensure that you need government assistance.

    In practice, for most of the developed world it is better to be dependent on the government, which is at least nominally accountable to the people, than on private industry, which is accountable only to its own bottom line.

    Of course, America has a long way to go before it can get to the level of much of the rest of the world in terms of government accountability to the people. Case in point: recently the Canadian parliament declared that it “listened to the concerns of Canadians” and rejected an intrusive cybersecurity bill; meanwhile the U.S. Congress, listening to the concerns of those whose are the only concerns that matter — namely, lobbyists for big business and the military-industrial complex — reintroduced a verbatim copy of CISPA.

  268. @JAD
    > but homeless guys do have right to be left alone.

    I did not argue that. I said that if society forces homeless into perpetual sleep deprivation with a strict parks policy and insufficient shelters, then it escalates the class war on the beach you experienced. Fitness in nature does not guarantee that everyone’s “rights” are respected, and the collective is not going to anneal to the most equitable (economically fit) state due to an Iron Law of Political Economics. I also stated that the collective can never be a meritocracy, thus it can never be equitable. It is a morass, so I am instead advocating that hacking (i.e. independent solutions) is the future.

    > But they are not being arrested

    Because the collective is economic failure, and thus by now can’t afford it.

    > equality works only one way

    Equality is not equitable nor fitness, rather it is failure directed insanity.

    > for most of the developed world it is better to be dependent on the government,

    I predict you will regret that statement within a decade.

  269. @Jeff Read
    > the level of much of the rest of the world in terms of government accountability to the people

    The “grass is always greener” ignores the economic failures of every top-down managed collective social institution in history (excluding recent “gleaming” instances that haven’t failed yet and will).

    > private industry, which is accountable only to its own bottom line

    I am surprised that a hacker would argue (futilely) against the free market of individual responsibility for solutions to individual needs. For example, the doctors told me there is no anti-viral for HPV, so I created my own medicine at home with a simple apparatus, based on some scientific speculation and in vitro test results with electron microscopy. I guess your stance is that many people don’t have the ability to help themselves, but private industry can provide what they need (if not thwarted for example by the collective vested interests, e.g. FDA). Perhaps you are really against the natural corruption of the collective (Iron Law of Political Economics) where artificial monopolies are awarded and free enterprise is suppressed.

    The last sentence in my prior comment should have been attributed as a reply to you.

  270. Perhaps you are really against the natural corruption of the collective (Iron Law of Political Economics) where artificial monopolies are awarded and free enterprise is suppressed.

    Indeed, I am. But there’s another iron law of political economics which libertarians tend to overlook, despite it being first elucidated by Adam Smith (it was popularized in this era by Noam Chomsky): Laissez-faire free market societies tend to degenerate into corrupt collectives. The Gilded Age was the most laissez-faire era in American history, and the consequences of that were widespread poverty, enormous civil unrest, two major depressions, brutally oppressive working conditions including child labor, lack of competition and monopolization of goods such as oil and steel. We curtailed those social ills with labor unions, workplace regulations, and antitrust laws.

  271. @Jeff Read
    You are describing the phenomenon where capital seeks a negative rate of return because I posit it can’t compete with technological shift. This is part of my overall thesis, and I am registering a new domain for my own blog where I can elucidate these concepts more clearly.

  272. “On this account there is no contradiction, merely a failure of liberal values to successfully assert themselves against overweening statism (or, in versions flavored with left-wing language, corporate oligopoly).”

    Aren’t they pretty much the same thing? Corporations are a fiction upheld by the law; no state, no law, no corporations.

    But, hey, maybe that’s what you were saying, that the different monikers are just a “language flavor”?

  273. >But, hey, maybe that’s what you were saying, that the different monikers are just a “language flavor”?

    Yes, exactly. Though, as usual, most of the left doesn’t get this – they persist in believing it is somehow possible to decrease corporate power while increasing government power.

  274. Yes, exactly. Though, as usual, most of the left doesn’t get this – they persist in believing it is somehow possible to decrease corporate power while increasing government power.

    I wonder how British/Commonwealth pro-government anti-corporate types would react to learning that the entire national governments are explicitly corporations.

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