Archive for March, 2009

Being That Guy

I spent the bulk of yesterday screwing around, so decided I’d get right to work this morning. Since I’m currently stuck on an idea, the game plan was meditate, get high and settle in with my jumbo Crayolas. The plan actually worked pretty well. I came up with a revolution in six steps to use as the basis for the website:

  1. Declare WWIII
  2. Design Communications Network for Data Duplication
  3. Develop Reliable Virtual Identities
  4. Pool Excess Wealth and Distribute It Via Total Democracy
  5. Create Scalable Job Markets Optimized On Self-Reported Metrics
  6. Net Access as a Universal Human Right

That ought to do it, right?

It’s cool to see it coming together as a plan. I was thinking that it is kinda cool to get to be the guy to change the world, but then I was thinking what would be even cooler? Being almost anyone fifteen years from now.

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Censoring For The Dumb

I’ve been spending the day catching up on my TV. I’ve been surprised on what gets by the censors these days. Apparently comedy can be as adult as it wants so long as it is hard to catch.

On 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan is training for his moon mission, when he says, “Computer, when do I get some tang? Also, I’m thirsty. Ha! Wordplay.”

Honestly, if they hadn’t had him point it out as wordplay, I would have missed it.

American Dad went a different route and just said something with lots of slang very quickly. As Steve’s plan to ruin a Bar Mitzvah goes awry, Roger says, “And what Steve won’t know is that I have my own plan. While everyone’s focused on Snot, I’ll be headed to the bathroom to share a doobie with the bus boy in return for an angry handy-j.”

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Growing The Future

I’ve been thinking about how exactly I’ve done what I’ve done since this is an idea no one else has had yet. I am 99.999% sure of that, and so it’s weird to think I might change the course of history. It’s how I imagine Einstein felt when the last equations clicked together for the atomic bomb.

I still think it sounds sorta crazy to talk as though I know it will work, but I really think it will. If it doesn’t I will really be shaken up. This is the dream of no more starvation and if we do lose this battle then I’ll still not give up the war. (This really should be the last push though. We have to hit world peace sometime, and I think this may be it.)

As to how it happened though. I just thought over and over about the people starving in Africa. I just wrote a backwards science fiction story until I could connect the world we live in to that one. The trick is to not think of systems that are fair in the moment, but to look for ones that trend toward fairness.

It’s like starting a tree at the leaves, and I’m digging the holes to stick the roots into now.

tree

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In Case Of Airplane Crash

If my plane should go down over the ocean and I don’t make it back to America, I really think someone else ought to try my idea of creating a recommender system for employment allocation.

We consider maybe a couple dozen possibilities in our employment search. It’s unfortunate for both the individual and society. Individually, many people have jobs they don’t find entertaining. Socially, we have massive imbalances in production and consumption because these factors are fundamental elements in the distribution systems.

Those ties can be loosened though by making productive work readily available. We are in the middle of a massive population explosion. We are getting right to the edge of where our population growth curves spike off into infinity.

Communism was a good idea because it capitalized on the idea that market forces tend to create shitty jobs that afford the people with them with few opportunities.

Imagine this. Imagine that you play around on the computer with some games for a while and then the computer gives you a list of 20 open jobs available anywhere in the world that you would be a good match for. The rating is done in terms of people who are similar to you who have done a similar transition.

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Semi-Retirement

I was sitting at lazing on the veranda here in Goa slowly getting baked in the noonday sun and contemplating just how fortunate I feel. Life has been good to me. It’s hard walking these streets and hearing the women beg me to just buy something for 20Rs ($0.40) so they can buy food for their family.

Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out a solution. I can feel OK about occasionally doing nothing more than lazing about if we just end poverty.

I think I can explain it simply enough that most people will understand. It’s not a complex idea, but it does require some understanding of Computer Science…

If you were dressed in the morning by reinforcement learning clustering algorithm you would arrive nude in a room with a deaf mute butler and a huge pile of garbage. He wanders over to the pile and returns with a banana peel. You scowl and throw it off to the side. He returns successively with a balloon, puppy and pack of gum which you throw away with derision.

Butler

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Colorsplosion

After a rocky start with too much noise and bustle, we finally hit our stride today with Holi. Upon arriving in the early afternoon in one of the boroughs bordering Colaba, we were soon pulled into a roving band of young men who snuck us round a corner for a clandestine beer and shoot the shit about whether the US ought to bomb Pakistan.

Much dancing ensued and after getting well colored and wished Ha Holi Kho Li Bah (“Enjoy the day of Holi”) about 200 times we ended up in young Kedar’s house for a second (and quite delicious) lunch.


Ta Dah!

After lunch there was a bit of friendly strong-arming as drum bearing gangs of bare-chested boys stormed the houses in search of donations. They were storming their own houses though, so it was all in good fun.


Hooliganism

There were a few different groups of guys and the ones we were with told us that there was a conflict brewing and we best go “chill at our hotel.” I have a sneaking suspicion though they just wanted to separate us from the bottle of tequila we brought to share with them.

After an interesting run in with the neighborhood drug dealer, we ended up back at the hotel. We both have lasting pink and purple splotches (and perhaps a slight chemical burn) to remember this entertaining day.

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Being Seen

I spent most of yesterday wandering aroung the hanging gardens. I’m not really sure why they’re refered to as “hanging” since all of the plants were growing up from the ground like the run of the mill gardens I’m accustomed to.

So far I’m not terribly impressed with Mumbai as a city. It’s the same bustle and hurry I see in large American cities, just the people are a different color.

There was one exception. Walking down the street I passed one old guy who actually looked at me. I don’t really know how to put it in words, but most people see me as a Westerner or a guy or an American or whatever. There’s some handle they have on who I am and even for strangers I can see a hint of it on their face.

In some inexplicable way, that didn’t seem to be there. I have a theory that because we spend so much time deciding who we are and who the people are around us are, we take resources away from the actual business of living. This guy seemed to be running at a higher resolution somehow.

It’s strange to think that that there are systemic cognitive issues that perhaps affect the functioining of my entire society. What I would like the most is to find someone who is completely comfortable being themselves and talk to them about what that is like. I have a hard time imagining what it is like living without justification.

Like I said though, most people here are like the people back home. A bit nicer and generally more brown, but the basic processes are the same.

I met a fellow named Naved yesterday who is wanting to practice his English. I’m going to try to catch up with him later today and see the “Ranibag” which he said has tigers and crocodiles, so I’m betting it’s zooish. Maybe he can help me in my search for an honest man.

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Outcast

During our wandering last night Jenni attracted the attentions of a little girl who gifted her with a garland of flowers. When she attempted to give her a few rupees for food the girl said the money wouldn’t do her any good.

She was too young to explain herself, but as we walked with her to the store, one of her friends joined us and explained that because they are outcasts, no one will take any money that they touch.

It amazes me that in this country which is so revered for it’s recognition of spitiruality that such a deeply ingrained injustice has survived for so long.

While Jenni was in the process of understanding how much the shopkeeper wanted, the little girl absconded with the bag of rice. Certainly less that ideal, but I have a hard time getting too upset about eight year-olds stealing basic foodstuffs.

I’ve been thinking about Nancy Kress’s Beggars In Spain. The internet is way too slow for me to pull a quote, but the title refers to the problem of a good natured traveler wandering the streets of Spain.

A beggar comes up and wants some money for food, so he gives them some. Then there’s another and then another, until eventually the traveler is left a beggar himself. The story puts the question as an unanswerable one.

Which I am realizing is completely foolish. There are lots of affluent stores here complete with all the frivolous luxury we have in the West. The resources are available, and the irony is that the broken resource distribution systems that create the inequality ultimately perpetuate the instability that leaves everyone without security.

I’m not outraged at the injustice so much as I am baffled by the stupidity. The whole system is connected and few people seem to get that.

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A Dollar’s Worth Of Luck

Jenni and I are safely nestled in the Hotel Bentley after our 17 hour slog across the ocean.

Not all that much to mention as of yet. We didn’t get in until 3am and slept till 1pm, so we’ve only just ventured forth from our air conditioned cave.

Lunch was a delicious red goo with chunks of what I’m pretty sure was okra in it. No idea what it was called, it was the chef’s recommendation for something appropriately spicy for a puny American pallate.

Our next adventures are certain to turn out propitiously as we were waylaid on the street by a couple fellows who, for the bargain price of $1 apiece, painted dots on our heads and tied strings around our wrists guaranteeing a future we would be happy with.

I figure the dot marks me as a rube, but I’m hoping it’ll be like the newspaper the Shriners sell. (The Shriners stand at stop lights selling newspapers for disabled kids or something. When they sell, they’ll blanket an area for a couple weeks, so you buy your Shriners paper and put it on your dash to get the Shriners to leave you be.) I’m going to tell any future purveyors of good fortune that I’m full up already.

(I can’t spell worth a damn and this dusty version of IE has no spell check, so I apologize in advance for any errors.)

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The Last President

I have a new life goal. I want to run for President on the Anarchist ticket in 2024. I’ll lose, but the campaign will fuel an interest in the party that gets a Senator elected from Montana. In 2028, I run again and win on the platform of being the Last President of the United States. Over the first four years I’ll dismantle the judicial and penal systems and replace them with distributed systems. During my second term, we do away with the military, taxation, and finally each person becomes their own sovereign entity in a complete democracy.

U.S. Presidential Seal

I’m not the last President because all the problems magically go away, I’m the last President because we figure out a way to deal with the logistics of running a society without concentrating so much power in the hands of any one individual.

My dad did his Masters research on the effectiveness of in-patient versus out-patient programs in psychotherapeutic outcomes. He found that the best way to treat someone is to do so within the environment where they will be living and maintaining the change they are trying to make in their lives. Even people who are serious about making a change have to be able to practice.

In 1986, he was serving as the director of Child and Family services for Bristol Regional Medical Center when he found out that our State Representative was a part of a plan to build a new psychiatric hospital and the contract was going to a friend of the politician. I have a picture of him standing on the site where they are breaking ground for the new hospital announcing his campaign to oust the corrupt Representative.

He won. On a campaign popularized by signs hand spray painted on particle board and speeches standing on the bed of his pickup truck, he managed to generate the momentum to take on what was considered to be an unassailable opponent.

ToDo: Get a copy of that picture and stick it here.

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