Wednesday, September 29, 2010


i. If something is not seen, it still may still be present.
ii. If something is small, it may not be detected.
iii. If something is large, it may be incomprehensible.
iv. If something is outside, it may be ignored.
v. If something is inside, it may be denied.
vi. If something is down, it may be up.
vii. If something is right, it may be left.
viii. If something is stupid, it may be embraced.
ix. If something is smart, it may still be unintelligent.
x. If something is ignorant, it may be normal.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maximum Advantage: Global Codes of Conduct

On Global Guerrillas, John Robb points out the following:
Globalization has brought about an age when the only tests used to judge anyone's behavior are:
  • Does it make you money or its equivalent? The corollary is that the greater the amount of money acquired, the better the behavior is.
  • Did you get away with it? This test is merely based on legal enforceability (were you caught in a place that matters) and the degree of punishment (will the punishment negate or exceed the benefit of the behavior). Morality, virtue, ethics, shame, actual legality, etc. aren't considered factors. 
Why is this so? It's the only set of behavioral tests that are globally portable. As in, we can't agree on anything at a global level except the minimal rules needed to interconnect (which is similar to how the Internet and the Web spread).
This is another example of the impact of the Technical Morality, where efficiency becomes the only consideration for guiding human behavior.  It may be explained by "global portability," but that says nothing about why it is considered acceptable in the first place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Propaganda of the Deed

PROPAGANDA OF THE DEEDS AND DON’TS is an interesting post regarding early anarchists attempts at "Propaganda of the Deed," and its implications for anarchism. It also compares and contrasts anarchist terrorism and AL-Qaida. It some regards this comparison is valid, but for others the difference is stark. For instance, anarchists were mainly atheistic, therefore their ideology and self-sacrifices were directed (in many cases naively) for a better world on Earth. They also did not believe in ruling others, unlike those seeking to establish an Islamic Caliphate. Islamic terrorists have earthly aims, but their inspiration is religious and therefore not entirely of this world.  Religion also has far more staying power than ideology, which is more like a flavor of the month in comparison.  Also, strangely enough but obvious when one considers the historical epoch, the anarchists believed in more concrete organizing. therefore they were easier to break.  As a result, I believe that militant Islam will outlast its anarchist counterpart in terms of half-life.  If anarchy (meaning the absence of rulers) ever comes about it will be due to the disintegration of the nation state, and not something brought about by any flavor of anarchism as an ideology.  If Al-Qaida's aims become reality (which I hope not to be the case) it will be due to armed struggle and nothing else.  4GW is not just ideological terrorism.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Sometimes a rock is just a rock.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Deficiencies are relative to the overall level of incompetency.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

School Reform = Nothing

When it comes to talk of educational reform (or any other for that matter), it pretty much is meaningless.  As pointed out in School reform's meager results:
The larger cause of failure is almost unmentionable: shrunken student motivation. Students, after all, have to do the work. If they aren't motivated, even capable teachers may fail.

Motivation comes from many sources: curiosity and ambition; parental expectations; the desire to get into a "good" college; inspiring or intimidating teachers; peer pressure. The unstated assumption of much school "reform" is that if students aren't motivated, it's mainly the fault of schools and teachers. The reality is that, as high schools have become more inclusive (in 1950, 40 percent of 17-year-olds had dropped out, compared with about 25 percent today) and adolescent culture has strengthened, the authority of teachers and schools has eroded. That applies more to high schools than to elementary schools, helping explain why early achievement gains evaporate.

Motivation is weak because more students (of all races and economic classes, let it be added) don't like school, don't work hard and don't do well. In a 2008 survey of public high school teachers, 21 percent judged student absenteeism a serious problem; 29 percent cited "student apathy." The goal of expanding "access" -- giving more students more years of schooling -- tends to lower educational standards. Michael Kirst, an emeritus education professor at Stanford, estimates that 60 percent of incoming community college students and 30 percent of freshmen at four-year colleges need remedial reading and math courses.

Against these realities, school "reform" rhetoric is blissfully evasive. It is often an exercise in extravagant expectations. Even if George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind program had been phenomenally successful (it wasn't), many thousands of children would have been left behind. Now Duncan routinely urges "a great teacher" in every classroom. That would be about 3.7 million "great" teachers -- a feat akin to having every college football team composed of all-Americans. With this sort of intellectual rigor, what school "reform" promises is more disillusion.
This ultimately stems from the fact that too many parents except the school systems to raise their kids for them.   There are other reasons beyond parental laziness.  For one thing, too many parents are forced to work rather than raise their kids.  It's difficult to motivate kids when both parents are exhausted from work.  (True, they could chose not to have kids but the world does not work that way.)  In addition, the U.S. as a whole has come to expect something for nothing, and education is no different.  In addition, due to the Technical Morality pervading every aspect of society, the only conceivable solutions are punishing teachers and principals, and/or throwing money at the problem in hopes it will go away.  No other way is conceivable.  As public policy dulls to the point where nonsense like the "great teacher" drivel quoted above actually is given credence, it's not surprising that school standards remain stagnant.  In other countries, where education is considered a privilege rather than a right, anyone spewing such garbage would not be taken seriously--even to mock.

For any so-called reform to work, what is needed is a reevaluation of values concerning eduction (and economics as well for that matter), and that is most certainly not going to take place in this Age of Mediocrity.  Like suicide, the "Something for Nothing" mentality is so much easier.  Actually attempting anything requiring intellectual rigor is beyond the products some call leaders and academicians.  A toxic environment nurtures stupidity at all levels.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Stumble Toward Totalitarianism Continues

The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves:
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.
That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.
It is a dangerous decision — one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich.
Fortunately, even as it stumbles toward outright totalitarianism, the government continues to destroy its legitimacy.  Baring an outright revolution, which can probably never happen due to the fact that the population is fundamentally divided, its authority will just erode over time as its actions become ever more paranoid.  However, even through the age where classic totalitarianism is over (as governments cannot control information and even their own borders as was once the case), they can still do a lot of damage to those caught in the middle.

Even as they fade way, the mediocre are still dangerous.  It's also not surprising that these judges would rule that such actions of the government are perfectly legal.  As pointed out by the dissenting judge:
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.
Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but in his dissent he came across as a raging liberal. "There's been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist," he wrote. "No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter." The judges in the majority, he charged, were guilty of "cultural elitism."
At least some people in authority understand the score.  (Although the final result will be far different than Orwell's 1984.)  There may not be a revolution, but in this age Things are much more likely to just Fall Apart.  When (sooner or later) this occurs, those understanding the situation may be able to weather the storm.  The rest won't.

Monday, September 06, 2010


i. Decentralization is not well grasped by centralized institutions.
ii. Centralization is not well appreciated by decentralized organizations.
iii. Hence, centralized and decentralized power structures are less of a mutual threat than would otherwise be the case.
iv.  Result: stalemate.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Waste of Time

As anyone who has had to suffer through a pointless meeting, political pontification or religious ceremony can attest, in general, the more something wastes time, the more importance is attached to it.