Tock tick

All you have to do is turn the wires and lights in the box off (December 24, 2012)

I see we have learned absolutely nothing.

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Facebook and Narcotizing Dysfunction

The Guardian, in it’s inimitable naive-liberal (full disclosure: I have nontheless left The Scott Trust, which protects The Guardian money in my will) way writes thus:

Why have we given up our privacy to Facebook and other sites so willingly?
Cambridge Analytica’s ransacking of millions of Facebook users’ data has triggered a backlash against the social network – and highlighted how much personal information we share without thinking of the consequences

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/21/why-have-we-given-up-our-privacy-to-facebook-and-other-sites-so-willingly

Why “so willingly?”

I wrote the answer to that question in 2013. At the time, I was talking about the NSA Spying revelations.

Nothing will change. Significant quantities of people will not delete their Facebook accounts.

Nobody did anything about the NSA spying either.

Americans get Mad as Hell And Are Not Going to Take It Any More For Real This Time every 27 minutes.

And they are always wrong.

Remember when everyone was As Mad as Hell and Is Not Going To Take It Any More about “fake news?”

People have literally been saying they won’t stand for it any more since the dawn of time (Or 1976 at least, which is close enough.) It is a way of pretending to have influence on the situation.

But, this is an utterly self-defeating response.

In fact, if you wanted to indulge in a little paranoia you might even say “that’s what they want you to say.”

When this blog was started it was to preserve certain Facebook postings that were considered worth saving because I deleted my Facebook account, (before it was cool.)

What follows is a previously unpublished post that was composed in July of 2016 and never run. It didn’t run for a reason, it was too snobby sounding and not everything in it is good and correct but portions of it are a bit prescient. I probably should’ve published it so I could gloat about getting Fake News and the end-of-truth right.


 Some people may accuse me of misanthropy for saying this but it is now apparent that there will almost certainly be a permanent class division in the post-Internet age. Those who read and those who don’t. Those who read (and write) will control the world while those who don’t sink ever deeper into the passive, depoliticized helplessness that critics call ‘narcotizing dysfunction’ under the spell of an endless stream of low-value ‘content.’ I mean, of course, those who read closely and critically and in more than a few lines at a time.

All I can say about that is that the Internet was sold to us as an unprecedented tool of social liberation. This however may have been an illusion all along. And today, certainly, it cannot be denied that these trends are fearfully convenient for certain powerful interests.

As defective as the narratives of the ‘old media’ were with overly simplistic stories of right and wrong and east and west and so forth they were at least a coherent way of thinking which could be assessed, critiqued, and so forth. In this there was at least the possibility that there could be identified a Truth and that ideas and facts (or putative facts) could be defensibly construed to have certain levels of Importance.

The collapse of this model has left a vacuum in which nothing is True and the idea of ‘Importance’ has become completely inoperative. People are transfixed by badly photographed dresses, dog pants, and other such non-sequiturs. People are distracted by self-photographs and apps and ‘challenges’ and made to feel intense, misplaced emotions—especially anger—for a time and then made to stop feeling that way for a time.

Against this it is not possible to be ‘subversive’ for there is nothing to subvert. The internet represents the end of criticism and thus, impliedly, the end of political opposition. The dream of dictatorships has always been to make it impossible to think thoughts critical of those in power through propaganda and censorship. This has always failed, or at least not succeed very well.  But if the Internet always gives us what we want—

Naturally the question arises: why demand? And if there is no demand, how can there be any action? It’s not that the Internet will make it literally impossible to think inconvenient thoughts but that it will immunize any immediate reason to do so.

And what has been the downfall of the iron-fist has always been, not lofty abstract ideas of ‘what kind of life to live’ but only ever always immediate difficulties that lasted a bit too long.

In his 1555 poem ‘The Monarchie’ David Lindsay described the biblical Tower of Babel thus: “In Noon when the sun shines most bright, the shadow of That Hideous Strength, six miles and more it is of length.*” This is a strikingly fit image.

Far from being the hammer that smashes the chains of society, the Internet is That Most Hideous Strength. It is the ultimate tool of social control. Today’s internet evokes the original biblical story of Babel, one of non-stop non-productive talk.

In the story, God confused all language so that nobody could understand anyone. Today: the confusion is not that we are unable to understand but that we only are able to speak of irrelevant things.

*Corrected for modern grammar and spelling.

Elephant of Power

There needs to be an emergency moratorium on software using Elephants for its logo

Clockwise from left. PHP, Evernote, Gradle, Hortonworks, Hadoop (closely related to Hortonworks, admittedly) and Postgres.

 

There are two different Apache projects on here. (Hadoop and Gradle) an two different databases (PostGres and Hadoop.)

Printers

I recently had to factory reset my WiFi printer, an HL2270dw.

Now, this printer does not have a screen or keyboard; so you cannot reconnect to WiFi without involving a computer.

I guess this is not altogether unreasonable as a printer isn’t much use without a computer anyway.

So, I plugged it into the (Ethernet) switch… no link

I’ve never tried to use the Ethernet on this printer before so I suppose it could’ve been broken for years without my knowing of it.

I turn to Google. A USB cable can be used temporarily to set up WiFi using a manufacturer provided wizard.

Easy?

Ha.

Error1.jpeg

Ok then….. of course this error is not documented anywhere.

I run the setup tool a second time.

“To continue installing your printer, you  must reboot now.”

Well, this is going well…

shutdown /r /t 00

Connect USB

At this point, I did obviously, plug in the USB cable

No dice.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Nothing.

Fire up procexp (Yes, I am a nerd…) no sign of any activity. The dirty rotten swine is deaded already.

Repeat for what feels like 200 times.

Finally, it works.

Now, having factory resetted (resat?) it, I have to go into the 90s web menu and set everything up again.

I chanced upon this gem.

Now remember, everything is at factory default.

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-05 at 7.48.25 PM

This is not a joke. Out of the box, the Ethernet is switched off, and the WiFi on.

WHY ON EARTH WOULD ANYONE EVER DO THAT?

It’s difficult bordering on impossible to automatically connect to WiFi! Hence the dual security nightmares SoHo gateway manufacturers have visited upon us.

But, except in certain rare cases mainly confined to huge corporations, Ethernet is plug-and-play.

Why on earth isn’t Auto Switching (Enable Both Interfaces) the default?

FUB

bomb

Desire and the perfect phone

This is a twittish, Vox-dot-commy article which accidentally hits on something profound.

There is a lot of talk, especially on those sorts of self-help feel-good nonsense programs that tend to air on PBS during Pledge Drive—Daniel Dennet referred to that genre as “deepity”—of the importance of fulfilment.

But on the contrary, fulfilment would be a kind of self-extinguishment.

When you were a child, or if you cannot remember think of children you have observed, do you recall how you would always ask for something? If you asked mother for milk, and she gave you milk you would ask for a cookie. When you got the cookie, you would ask for a banana, and when you got that a piece of cake and so on until she would not give you any more things.

Or perhaps, especially as you were older, The Toy. A TV ad told you that you wanted it and you obeyed. But if you got it, when you got it, it never satisfied.

What is going on here? How can it be that The Toy which seemed the-most-important-thing-in-the-world to get (this was before puberty, mind) could amount to so little? Played with a while and then abandoned.

In Girls, its often ponies.

When you get to be my age its often sexual, a specific act or a specific person. And then you get it, or him and somehow it’s just not like in the movies where the music swells and the camera swoons and the light changes and….

But the advantage to Ponies is that virtually nobody gets a pony. And so, the Desire for the pony may be held indefinitely, or at least until there begins the mania for boys (or girls). In this we begin to see how it works.

Desire is connected to lack. In Continental philosophy Lack (manque) is often spoken of in terms of “that which is beyond the demesne of language”, in other words the impossible unspeakable thing which cannot be put into words which cannot be imagined (for we only can imagine in language) and which cannot be properly experienced.

We never desire something. We desire to desire. In other words, we desire desire itself. The fantasy is more important than the thing fantasized for to obtain the thing (the fantasand?) extinguishes the lack and kills the fantasy.

We can see how this works in the film Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. In the movie, an unexplained event, possibly aliens, created a place called The Zone in which there is found a building with a Room. Those who enter the room receive their hearts innermost desire. They are, “fulfilled” in a way that is a Deeptyists wet dream. It would seem that here is the solution to all mankind’s problems, but to enter the Zone is illegal and attempted only by the desperate. The film focuses on two such desperates, lead through the Zone by a guide, the titular Stalker.

Yet… at the threshold of the room the characters hesitate.

05-At-the-very-end-of-their-quest-Stalker-Writer-and-Professor-hestate-on-the-very-threshold-of-The-Room.

There are lots of ways to analyze this. The film suggests one: they receive what they desire, not what they ask for. What they think that they desire may not be what they wish to think it to be. This is another dimension of Desire which could be a whole post to itself.

The unnamed Stalker mentions a cautionary tale of another Stalker named Porcupine whose brother died and so he broke the cardinal article of Stalker ethics and ventured into the room himself. When he got home his brother was still dead but he had won the lottery.

He hanged himself.

But another way, a subtler way is to understand what a total leap into oblivion it would be to fulfill desire, to no longer lack.

Necessity is the mother of invention, hunger was the father of agriculture and from pain was birthed medicine and on the most fundamental level it is from this Lack that springs all of civilization and identity and all that it means “To Be Human.” To relinquish Lack is to relinquish Humanity and enter the domain of That Which Cannot be Said.

It truly would be unimaginable terror.

The Entirety of Western Economics is based on this. We Lack, so we buy. We buy ostensibly to fill the lack, but in reality, to highlight the lack. We buy to use up, to discard, to move on in the never-ending cycle of masturbatory consumption.

In the eerily prophetic movie Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, Howard Beal—mad prophet of the airwaves—is summoned before Mister Jensen, boss of bosses to receive a new message for the masses. Here is the relevant part of the famous “The World is a Business” speech, embedded in full below.

Jensen: The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.

Beale: But why me?

Jensen: Because you’re on television, dummy.

But what a catastrophe this would be! No wonder Mr. Jensen’s message goes over like a lead balloon and the ratings begin to fall off (leading to one of the most perversely funny endings of any movie ever.)

Therefore, there must not be a perfect smartphone, for if there were it would be a catastrophe.

France Insoumise

In recent years, smaller parties such as « France Insoumise » [Roughly, ‘France Undefeated*’] have argued that declining voter turnout represents a rejection by the French of the present ‘5th Republic’ and that there must be a constitutional convention to sketch out the ‘6th.’ It’s difficult to argue that they don’t have a point.

On Sunday, France saw the lowest turnout since the sixties of only 75.30% (The current election system dates to 1965.)

I’m envious.

In the last election, U.S. turnout was a measly 55.5%; this is fairly average for the last two centuries, sadly. Clearly, change is needed.

In recent discussions I have detected no appetite for structural change, only a short-term “stopping of Trump.” But let’s look at the big picture so we don’t have this problem again in 4-8 years.

I know that some of my friends may disagree that Trump needs to be stopped but lay that aside for a moment and ask yourself, why did you vote for Trump? Because of structural rot in the system. Because the government was captivated by interest groups and not responsive to your needs. But if we do not address the structural rot that leads to depressing choices that make people not show up this will not even seem significant compared to what is to come.

We must…

  • Switch to ‘ranked preference voting’ for the Executive Offices, including the presidency (AKA ‘Instant Runoff Voting,’ this was recently adopted in Maine and there are videos on the internet which explain how the “instant runoff” works.)
  • Switch to mixed-member-proportional voting for state and House elections. (This is used in New Zealand and there’s a video from the NZ Electoral Commission which explains this very well.)
  • Return to an appointed federal Senate and do away with state Senates.
  • Make voting mandatory and do away with ‘voter registration,’ instead people will be automatically registered on a time-delay when they file for Social Security (I.E. at birth.)
  • Ban legislature controlled redistricting and switch to mathematically defined redistricting such as “Shortest Split Line Method.” (The Left often overstates the degree to which gerrymandering skews elections, but it nonetheless occurs and it is repugnant.) And finally….. the BIG one….
  • Term limits! Presidency: 1 6-year term, no reelection. Senate: 2 8-year terms. House: 3 4-year terms. Supreme Court: 10 years.

* A lot of newspapers are rendering it “France Indomitable,” mainly because it begins with “I,” but that’s wrong that’d be « France Indomptable » . If we wanted to be puckish we could also translate it as “Contumacious France…” 😉

Aaron Hernandez

Several posts I have seen suggest that Aaron Hernandez did away with himself in an esoteric legal maneuver to ensure that his daughter inherits money. This not legally correct. And it’s a huge DISTRACTION from what is really important here.

The theories hinge on a legal doctrine called ‘abatement ab initiatio’ which destroys the conviction of someone who dies while on an appeal. While this doctrine might come into play in this case it has no real relevance to the final outcome.

The first version of the theory has Hernandez reinstated in his NFL contract. This won’t happen, he wasn’t sent down because of his conviction, but because of his arrest. In fact, even if he was found not-guilty he still wouldn’t have been reinstated. Is this unfair? Yes. Is this legal? Unfortunately. Also, it can happen to you.

The other version of the theory has Hernandez seeking to protect his estate from the victims’ lawyers. This is just inaccurate. One of the most important legal rules in—not just the Constitution—but also Common law in general is the rule against ‘double jeopardy’ which means that you cannot be tried twice on the same case, except in cases of mistrial.

As with many fundamental civil and legal rights this has been eroded to the point of meaninglessness by cupidity and electioneering. Even if you are outright acquitted, expect to find yourself in civil court for the same thing. The legal standard is very low in civil court, so there is a greater likelihood of the complainant succeeding. (Particularly if you have a sizable bank account, but yes this can happen to you too.)

Even though Hernandez is dead, it is possible to bring civil claims against an Estate for ‘wrongful death.’

The reason I am writing this is not to pick picayune legal disputes but to point to two things:

  • SUICIDE DOES NOT FIX PROBLEMS! Call 1-800-273-8255 for confidential help that does.
  • The American prison system is evil, it does not serve justice, but compounds injustice by creating more wrongs.

Most analyses of the American prison-industrial complex focus on mass overincarceration, especially of blacks. And that’s true, many people in prison are innocent, ‘guilty’ of offences which shouldn’t be offences or guilty of trivial offenses which shouldn’t EVER result in incarceration but there is another problem: American prisons and jails are charnel houses. Physical, psychological and sexual abuse is widespread. Gangs and other criminal enterprises operate openly. Foreign embassies warn their citizens who intend to visit the U.S. against them. Prison reform, both in the administration of prisons and in who is sent to them is desperately needed.

Remember that society is judged by how it treats the least among its ranks. And who could be lesser than those we have chosen to keep under lock and key?

This is enabled by the greatest cancer of American social thinking: If someone slips at the stop of the stairs, we don’t grab their hand to steady them: we shove—hard—and then mozy down to the bottom and spit on them, hating them for falling. This is true not just in criminal ‘justice’ but in the economy. Oh, you fell and broke your spine? Well, you shouldn’t have done that. Just stop being poor already. I digress, but not much.

Now, the point here is not whether or not Hernandez is even guilty, after all murder isn’t ‘slipping’ as much as it is jumping over a cliff, morally speaking. The point is that we have ceased to view prisoners and convicts as human beings. We are devoid of moral feeling towards them. We have chosen to ignore them and to refuse to look at these problems.

The social photographer Jacob Riis documented in pictures the horrors of ‘How the Other Half Lives‘ in his 1890 book of the same name. It shocked the imagination of polite society. This problem was huge, but kept out of sight and so out of mind and so out of remedy. But we have gone back to this, or perhaps never left it.

When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died of Heroin use suddenly it was on the front-page of all the Newspapers. Before him, hundreds and thousands of faceless, nameless little people died and we did not care.

The opioid crisis was not and is not new. But one celebrity was all it took…

….all it took to bring about a lot of hand-wringing, protestations of helplessness by officials and by the media and water-cooler “awareness” and a few band-aids such as naloxone with absolutely none of the radical and possibly effectual action.

Will that not yet be the case again here? If that? I am concerned that the U.S. is careening towards state failure.

We have entered into an atmosphere of faux-helplessness: we talk non-stop about huge social problems but even when what is necessary to do is very clear we cannot do it. When it is unclear what to do we are unwilling to try things until we find something that works. Our political system is not capable of functioning. And even more scarily I do not see a path to restoring that capability. We have lost the ability to imagine.

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/04/youre-not-mad-at-united-airlines-youre-mad-at-amer.html

One of the strange things about this is that we cannot keep from talking about it as “PR Disaster,” both in terms of the incident itself, and the poor initial response of the management.

It is indeed a PR disaster but this just shows how deeply “The System” has incised itself into our minds.

Public Relations is an invention of Edward Bernays, who adopted his uncle Sigmund Freud’s theories to corporate ends. There is one particular incident, well worn to be sure, which I think illustrative.

One of his early clients, the giant American Tobacco Company—maker of dozens of brands including Lucky Strikes—came to him with a problem: women did not smoke. It was considered vulgar and mannish. In the cinema of the 20s, for instance if a woman character smoked it was to telegraph that she was (cough) no paragon of virtue. But the champions of Industry lusted for the revenue and so Bernays cooked up a bogus feminist movement called ‘torches for freedom’ and staged a women’s rights march with mostly hired ‘activists.’

The media went gaga. The photos went around the world.

The feminists fell for it, too.

The spectre of this may be perhaps seen in the Kendall Jenner Pepsi fiasco. The world is not so innocent now.

But this I think shows the substitutionary nature of PR. The difference between advertising and PR is that advertising lies to you outright whereas PR casts you into a hall of mirrors and subtly, slowly persuades you to substitute a premanufactured irreality for the real one. But, fundamentally, what is happening is a shell game of sign and symbol: this brings about a kind of strange deadlock.

We ‘know’ that ‘everything’ we see is manipulated and fake. But sometimes it isn’t, sometimes it is really happening but we cannot help but think of it in the way that we think about the fake things.

The link between action and consequence is broken. We only THINK we are undertaking action. We keep filling out online petitions, we keep regurgitating hashtags, we keep dancing the semiotics-polka yet nothing seems to change.

These are false.

PR thinking has completely subverted our response. It has subverted democracy. Nothing can change. We are pilots of an airliner with a fly-by-wire system that has been disconnected.

Now we want Virtual Reality. We want to strap on a helmet and see the imaginary made so real because the real has come to seem so imaginary. This is the true shape of power.

Atoms and void

After the mesmerising meltdown that just took place, in a normal country the cabinet would resign and we would have new elections…. in the U.S…. somehow the Government is expected to just go on despite both the Executive or the Legislative Branch being stripped entirely of any credibility. (And what’s left of the Judiciary’s credibility is being put through a wood-chipper with the Gorsuch hearings.)

Perhaps it is misleading to say “go on” for that would imply that the government has been going on and can continue but there is nothing to continue. Democritus said, “By convention hot, by convention cold yet in reality Atoms and Void” Somehow we seem to have left the atoms out and all that remains is Void.

Democritus was called the “laughing philosopher” for he laughed at the folly of man. By the way, don’t think I’m letting the Left off the hook either: where are the Democrat’s ideas? They’re gloating about the demise of a bill, this would be unseemly except that they had nothing to do with it—the bill collapsed entirely on its own. Gloating isn’t in this case so much ‘unseemly’ as ‘delirious.’

What the Democrats should have done is had a new bill ready to go! Nothing dramatic, just a ‘fix’ bill. Let’s not B.S. ourselves, there are serious problems with the ACA. But, some of them can be fixed! As soon as the GOP bill collapsed (and its collapse could be seen a mile off) they should have produced their own “ACA Amendment” act to fix some of the problems with the law,

“Well,” in some parallel universe I imagine Pelosi and Schumer saying, “that didn’t work, but fortunately we have a backup.” Unfortunately, we don’t live in that harmonious universe. In some but not all states, the ACA exchanges are collapsing. There is real danger that some states will have the dreaded and heretofore somewhat mythic “insurance death spiral.”

This is in part because “you know who” knocked out several of the key risk abatement mechanisms of the act, out of pique, but nobody is telling that to the people who are seeing double-digit premium increases for exchange plans. All they see is “Obamacare is Bankrupting me.” And for that they blame Democrats.

By having no plan, Democrats missed a GOLDEN opportunity to force the house GOP to trod on those people’s valid concerns by refusing to move or by voting down the putative ‘fix bill.’

If Democrats want to win they have to RESPECTFULLY show the people who voted for Trump, erroneously, due to legitimate grievances that they can help and the GOP cannot. But Democrats are not talking to those people at all. Democrats honestly almost seem as if they don’t want to win any more.