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Comment A Meta "Conspiracy" Theory (Score 1) 303

The original definition of "conspiracy" circa 1300s, was simply "acting as one" derived from the Latin root "breath together" or to be "acting in the same spirit" depending on the sense of "sprre" (which was also the origin of "spire" in the sense of a cathedral's architectural "spire").

Therefore the original definition does not denotate conscious intent to act in coordination with others of the same "spirit", as does the modern definition. Somewhere along the line, the connotation of deliberately coordinated action became denotative.

I am going to argue below that this more restrictive denotation of "conspiracy" was a result of a "conspiracy" in the original sense of the word -- a "conspiracy" which did not require any deliberate, consciously intended coordination of action but was, nevertheless, the work of a group (or groups) for whom that restriction of definition was an evolutionary advantage to their selfish genes.

Group selection produces unconscious coordinated action between members of the group -- and humans have been under group selection since our common ancestor to chimpanzees (see E. O. Wilson's "The Social Conquest of Earth"). This has the same quality of coordinated action that occurs in the eusocial organisms -- organisms that also engage in group, as opposed to individual, combat aka "war". Indeed, the world's foremost authority on eusocial organisms, E. O. Wilson, argues persuasively that human society -- particularly "civilization" -- is evolving in that direction, which ends in the reification of the group, itself, as meta-organism -- a group of organisms "acting as one" on behalf of selfish genes expressing in the group's behavior patterns.

Now here's the key:

Because of the great diaspora of the human genotype out of Africa into a wide variety of environments, there has arisen biodiversity in the human genome adapting to a wide variety of population densities. In the areas with higher population density, there has been stronger group selection than in areas with lower population density. Over the tens of millenia, and in particular over the last ten millenia with the rise of agriculture, this has led to a substantial increase in the gradient of genetically adapted group cohesion between groups. Because these groups were not mixing, due to limitations in transport and barriers of language, natural adaptation to climate, as well as "xenophobia", this didn't immediately result in the destruction of the more individualistic populations.

However, with the rise of empires and resulting mixing of widely dispersed populations, it became a decisive factor in human evolution.

The original definition of "conspire" allowed more individualistic populations to talk about perceived patterns of behavior that were of vital interest to them, without taking on the burden of proof that there was some sort of conscious, secret Cabal behind the pattern. This burden of proof was advantageous to the unconsciously coordinated group organisms since it was, of course, impossible for the individualistic populations to bear in their attempts to come to grips with what was happening to them.

The most recent and stark example of this is in the mass rapes occurring in Germany where there is a "conspiracy theory" that the refugees acted in a conspiratorial manner to have some of them creating diversions while others engaged in rape of German women. There is no need to posit conscious intent on the part of the "rapefugees" and there is reason to believe they may be from populations more adept at group conflict -- unconscious warfare -- than others.

Comment The Other State Religion That Denies Evolution (Score 0, Troll) 509

There is another state religion that denies evolution. This religion is being taught in all public schools. This is so because it is also uniformly taught in higher education. It forms the central dogma of what are called "the social sciences". As anti-science, this religion is far more damaging than the "dinosaurs and man walked side by side" theocrats because it actually informs most of what we call "public policy" at the Federal level. It is exemplified by (though hardly limited to) the widely praised writings of Harvard professors Richard "Dick" Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould who, together with other fellow travelers, attempted to get Edward O. Wilson ejected from Harvard because Wilson dared posit evolution might apply to signiicant aspects of human social behavior, as well as to that of other organisms.

Those who weren't around in the late 1970's watching all this might not be aware of exactly how virulent and organized -- let alone wrong-headed -- the attacks were.

But one thing is for certain: The dogma that human biodiversity is an insignificant consideration in the social sciences is under increasing attack by the scientific evidence and, at the same time, it is ever more influential on public policy.

So-called "creationism" as theocratic anti-science threat is a red-herring.

Comment Libel (Score 2) 532

It was circa 1979 when I ran head-long into the demand to remove anonymity as a system programmer for Control Data Corporation's PLATO network:

I was directed to remove the anonymous posting option of the precursor to Usenet: PLATO Notes.

The reason? Legal liability suffered by CDC for libel due CDC's lack of "common carrier" status under the FCC law of the time. A common carrier could not be held accountable for the contents of the information it carried.

When CDC refused to go mass market with PLATO, I accepted a position with a newspaper chain that had conducted a market test of something like PLATO notes for a metro area and found a huge demand. Although they figured out that their business as a newspaper would be endangered by opening up their network to permit everyone to provide content, the rationalization of "no common carrier status" was trotted forth with great facility.

Nowadays, with Facebook routinely censoring politically incorrect content by its users, and Facebook becoming a kind of de facto recentralization of control of the network effect for the masses, Facebook is actively pursuing a course of action that basically _asks_ to be sued for libelous posts by its users. It isn't hard to project this to ISPs when people use their internet connections for damaging ends -- particularly when you now have ISPs routinely "cooperating" with government and its propaganda arm via copyright enforcement on behalf of mass media.

I did anticipate some of this in the aforelinked 1982 essay as follows:

The question at hand is this: How do we mold the early videotex environment so that noise is suppressed without limiting the free flow of information between customers?

The first obstacle is, of course, legal. As the knights of U.S. feudalism, corporate lawyers have a penchant for finding ways of stomping out innovation and diversity in any way possible. In the case of videotex, the attempt is to keep feudal control of information by making videotex system ownership imply liability for information transmitted over it. For example, if a libelous communication takes place, corporate lawyers for the plaintiff will bring suit against the carrier rather than the individual responsible for the communication. The rationalizations for this clearly unreasonable and contrived position are quite numerous. Without a common carrier status, the carrier will be treading on virgin ground legally and thus be unprotected by precedent. Indeed, the stakes are high enough that the competitor could easily afford to fabricate an event ideal for the purposes of such a suit. This means the first legal precedent could be in favor of holding the carrier responsible for the communications transmitted over its network, thus forcing (or giving an excuse for) the carrier to inspect, edit and censor all communications except, perhaps, simple person-to-person or "electronic mail". This, in turn, would put editorial control right back in the hands of the feudalists. Potential carriers' own lawyers are already hard at work worrying everyone about such a suit. They would like to win the battle against diversity before it begins. This is unlikely because videotex is still driven by technology and therefore by pioneers.

The question then becomes: How do we best protect against such "legal" tactics? The answer seems to be an early emphasis on secure identification of the source of communications so that there can be no question as to the individual responsible. This would preempt an attempt to hold the carrier liable. Anonymous communications, like Delphi conferencing, could even be supported as long as some individual would be willing to attach his/her name to the communication before distributing it. This would be similar, legally, to a "letters to the editor" column where a writer remains anonymous. Another measure could be to require that only individuals of legal age be allowed to author publishable communications. Yet another measure could be to require anyone who wishes to write and publish information on the network to put in writing, in an agreement separate from the standard customer agreement, that they are liable for any and all communications originating under their name on the network. This would preempt the "stolen password" excuse for holding the carrier liable.

Comment Stellar Husbandry (Score 1) 412

TFA says: even advanced aliens wouldn't be able to build something capable of covering a fifth of a star in just a century

According to a stellar husbandry proposal you could cover 1/5 of a star with more than 1/2 inch of material (water density) at 1 astronomical unit radius.

([{1E22 * (kilo*gramm)} / year] * [{(4 * pi) * (au^2)} / 5]^-1) * ([1 * gramm] / [milli*liter])^-1 ? (centi*meter) / century
= 1.7779051 cm/century

Comment Re:Sanctions lifted ... (Score 1, Interesting) 229

The Chevy Malibu is a good example: the 2010 model was as good as any in its class and better for North American driving conditions than most of its European- and Japan-optimized competitors. I haven't seen the 2016 yet but early reviews are that is it substantially improved over the 2009-2011 type. There are many very good Big 2.5 designed and built models on the market that are competitive with anything (particularly in North America). Also some not-so-great models - which is also true of Mazda, Toyota, Nissan, etc (not even getting into the VW cult/mess). Toyota automatic transmissions? Woah, there's a great design ;-(


Comment Re:Women+Boomers+Immigrants = "Labor Shortage" (Score 1) 729

I stand corrected. Let me rephrase that as "The Stupid Donor Party" since their policies are dominated by their donors in stark contrast to those held by their own base -- policies that are destroying their own base and replacing it with a base they cannot possibly win from the Elect A New People Party -- which has at least an illusion of "consent", however shallow, from its burgeoning base.

Comment Re:Women+Boomers+Immigrants = "Labor Shortage" (Score 1) 729

People don't want to be in debt because they have to pay interest -- which is a disincentive similar to a tax. The incentive you worry about is a wash.

Regarding retired persons: What is worse is the load placed on family formation by taxing their home equity because that reduces the total fertility rate of the middle class and leads to social collapse (as we've been seeing as a result of the mid-to-late Boomers whose total fertility rate was trashed by the exploding cost of replacement reproduction).

However, what you are ignoring is that all revenue is distributed in a citizen's dividend, aka unconditional basic income, that acts as an annuity asset for everyone.

The more parameters you put into a plan, the more it becomes an object of public sector rent-seeking aka porkbarrel aka special interest politics -- to log-roll those parameters. "General welfare" (in the Preamble to the Constitution) should mean just that -- no citizen benefits more, or less, than any other. Before you start adding things in like exemptions (I did include an exemption for bankruptcy-protected assets, such as homestead, in my 1992 white paper) you have to consider the horrors of political log-rolling.

Comment Women+Boomers+Immigrants = "Labor Shortage" (Score 5, Interesting) 729

The baby boom started increasing the supply of entry level labor about 1970.

Women's liberation started increasing the supply of entry level labor about 1970.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 started increasing the supply of labor (not just entry level) about 1970.

The Donor Party liked this because it lowered labor costs. Oh, did I say "Donor"? I meant "Republican".

The Elect A New People Party liked this because 2 of the 3 sources of new labor would vote to Elect A New People. Oh, did I say "Elect A New People"? I meant "Democratic".

So you have a huge influx of labor and this is interpreted as a "labor shortage" by both parties.

Combined with the fact that FDR's "New Deal", in effect, nationalized many of the functions previously performed by the labor unions -- turning the national border into a de facto picket line that, for example, that neoNazi Eisenhower enforced with "Operation Wetback" (deporting most of the illegal immigrants) -- and the labor movement effectively collapsed.

Elizabeth Warren, before she got conned into becoming a politician, was the only mainstream academic to come close to documenting even part of this. See her Jefferson Lecture titled "The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class.

Since 1992, I've been advocating replacing taxes on economic activity with what amounts to an insurance premium for the protection of property rights, and distributing the revenue in a citizen's dividend. In that white paper I predicted a lot of what has now come to pass as a result of centralization of wealth and burgeoning welfare state rent seeking.

Here is a link to a recent synopsis of that proposal.

Comment Re:I don't know which I hate worse? (Score 1) 122

- - - - - I get that for high-traffic websites need a better scalable solutions than the traditional databases, and I get that you have to sacrifice some of the features of those traditional databases to do so. - - - - -

Whenever I read something similar to this as related to a database I immediately think that what is being sacrificed is transaction integrity and multi-user contested performance/scaleability, but that's just me.


Comment Re:Database of the year? (Score 1) 122

- - - - - Oracle is such a pile of shite it does not actually work unless you have a support contract. and even then, the features you use are likely to be abandoned without warning unless you are a major first world government (and probably even then, but I cant speak from experience on that).

That's funny. I learned Oracle when I inherited a midrange ERP/WMS system at a small manufacturing company that used a vendor-supplied 8i as the base. It pretty much just ran for two years under heavy load with just the basic DBA maintenance instructions provided by the ERP vendor in a 1-hour training. Meanwhile our peers in the software user group reported crashes, lockups, lost transactions, and extremely poor reporting performance on their MS SQL Server installations of the same package.

Over that two years as my staff and I taught ourselves Oracle, good performant SQL practices, and good reporting practices my respect for the DBMS and its fundamental design grew. I'm very, very skeptical about software and its vendors in general but by the time we upgraded to 9i I was (and remain) a very strong Oracle RDBMS supporter.

I do find that people who have self-trained on databases via Excel, MS Access, and MySQL have a very hard time with Oracle (and presumably also PostgSQL and DB2). I also have seen a lot of really bad, transaction-unsafe, non-performant MS SQL Server code. So YMMV.


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