Archive for February, 2009

Quotable Drug Quotes

Stumble delivered up some entertaining quotes on the drug war. My favorite was either:

“Some days it feels like I’m watching a house on fire. And one idiot wants to put it out with a machine gun. The other one wants to use grenades. And I’m standing there with a bucket of water and they look at me like I’m crazy.”

or

“When a government uses military personnel, equipment, and tactics against its own citizens, is it time to call it a Civil War rather than a Drug War?”

A House Afire

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It’s Business Time

Jenni and I head to India in a week, and I’ve been getting the props ready for my new job as an evangelist for an economic change. I figure one cannot properly schmooze without business cards, and so I’m making some:

William Holcomb

I’m only expecting to give these to people I want to get ahold of me later, which won’t happen a whole lot, so I’m going to fill in my profession du jour on the dotted line. The whole point of this project is to make it so people don’t have to constantly do the same thing just to stave off poverty, so it seems appropriate.

For the back, I made a DoH logo parodying the DoD with the seven projects I’d currently like to do:

DoH Logo

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Evolving Economies

I’m trying really hard not to work on revolutionary plans and instead do robots. They’re just so much less interesting. One quick thought before I go to bed:

Resource production and distribution systems (i.e. economic models) advance in proportion to individual’s realistic capacity to make accurate predictions about the future. The better securities on future action that exist, the more permissive distributions schemes can be.

Virtual identities are only useful in economic transactions to the extent that they can be aligned to unique corporeal actors (otherwise cheaters will simply cheat and dump their past).

We have an existing centralized system for maintaining these identities: credit ratings. The government makes it inescapable and companies can use the information to make more accurate long term decision.

We need something with those characteristics, but non-centralized and publicly available to bring these benefits to society at large. That is the top-down project description I think I need to help people understand what I want to do.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

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Starting A Revolution

I’ve been thinking for a while that I would like to post something to Slashdot. I’ve been having a hard time figure out how exactly to describe what I wanted to do though. Last night I figured it out. I want to enact a social change in a short period of time, we have a word for that in English: revolution.

It sounds a little odd to say, but realistically what I am trying to do is start a revolution. ☺

Revolution

So, I wrote up most of the major points in my plan. Before I submit it, I thought I’d run it by people I know and see if they have any suggestions. So tell me what you think of the presentation:

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Entering The Anarchist Grill

I’ve been thinking about the algorithms to run the Anarchist Grill, specifically the bouncer code. After all, Dion (I was thinking about naming the AI after Dionysus since she is the god of the party) is attempting to maximize self-reported satisfaction for the people in the bar.

Most nights, the bulk of the people in the bar will be there by invitation. Each night Dion will have clustered out a group of people and invited them to an experiment in making them as happy as possible. She can’t guarantee she’ll make you happy, but thanks to feedback learning, she can guarantee that she’ll likely do better every time.

So the place will likely operate close to capacity a lot of the time. After all, if the people inside are not having a good time then they’re specifically telling Dion what they don’t like and she’s working to fix that. The only way she can completely fail is if there are too many divergent opinions to reconcile.

This is where the bouncer comes in. Dion doesn’t care about your age, social status, wealth or anything else. Her only criteria in letting you through that door is can she make you happy while maintaining the happiness of the other people already inside.

Bouncer

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Markets

“Market” is just another word for “a set of selection pressures.” What we really want, ideally, is to live in a world where people’s success is tied to their capacity to be trustworthy.

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Shopping Is A Moral Act

There was a fashion editor from Vogue on All Things Considered this morning who said:

“Not shopping is not a moral act. When people don’t buy, other people lose their jobs.”

I’m glad to hear someone recognize the corner we’re painted ourselves into with the way we’ve structured our economy. The idea of a secular world is nonsense for a moral person. Where else do moral values take form but in day to day life?

Gandhi Store

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Drugs Are A Market Economy

People know from the drugs that they can get their hands on, alcohol and pharmaceuticals if nothing else, that getting fucked up can be entertaining and relatively safe. This creates demand. Prohibitionist drug policies attempt to stifle this demand through authoritarian control (arresting people who operate in the drug economy).

It’s sadly ironic that the same conservatives so blindly certain of the creativeness of the market in solving all our economic woes somehow think those markets are going to get stupid and uncreative when meeting demands that they don’t think should exist.

There are potentially responsible use patterns for a variety of substances. No quantity of propaganda is somehow going to reach into the heads of the millions of consenting Americans who have first-hand experience with this fact and somehow erase it. The War on Drugs can achieve short-term market depressions, but they can’t remove the fundamental driving force of the system.

Drug Characteristics

(Source: Jack E. Henningfield, Ph.D. for NIDA, Reported by Philip J. Hilts, New York Times, Aug. 2, 1994 “Is Nicotine Addictive? It Depends on Whose Criteria You Use.”)

What we have now, is bunches of people who don’t trust the government to tell them what is safe and what is not and, since many aren’t very good at researching the long-term effects of their actions, they’re just going to find convenient ways to get the state they want.

We really need to be putting our time and money into how to encourage responsible drug use. So long as people need to get away from their problems or are simply curious about the nature of consciousness, this market is not going to dry up.

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The Visible Hand

I’m pretty sure a determined group of geeks could fix the world in about fifteen years or so. All that we really do is recognize that the Internet is eventually going to change the way we live our lives. It’s simple evolution, right? Technology increases resource production and extends life expectancy, eventually the tool-using monkeys always take over.

Consider civil disobedience. Let’s say we, as geeks, decide to make tools to make passive resistance more feasible. Instead of simply telling the disenfranchised to stop being terrorists, we create viable alternatives. The problem with so many of our policies currently is they focus on prevention, and prevention is never sustainable unless the underlying causes have been addressed.

We can look at the cause of terrorism in terms of income equality, but that’s one step too far. Inequality gives rise to violence, but for it to take root at the level of individual people, there has to also be a belief that there are no other options. The vast bulk of humanity would, if given a real choice, prefer peace, but figuring out peaceful solutions is harder than figuring out violent ones.

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Information Wants To Be Free

I ran across some interesting statistics on internet censorship from Good Magazine. The most interesting was the bit on Cuba.

“In Cuba, all private internet access is banned. Accessing the internet from your homes can lead to up to five years in prison, counter-revolutionary activity: twenty [years]. Number of Cubans currently in jail for their internet activities: 24.”

I have a couple friends who see Cuba as a would be paradise that suffers not through the system that governs it, but through the malice of fearful imperialists. It’s a rare Heaven though that requires gatekeepers to hold people in.

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