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The Evil Business Plan of Evil (and misery for all)

I've been away for a few days (family stuff) and the travel gave me a lot of time for thought (you can't type on an inter-city train going at full tilt on our crappy lines). As we seem to be moving into Grim Meathook Future territory with the current government trying to make being poor illegal, I decided to Get With The Program, and invent the most evil business master plan I can think of for capitalizing (heh) on the New Misery.

Note that I am too damned old to play startup chicken all over again, and besides I've got books to write. This is just an exercise in trying to figure out how to make as many people as possible miserable and incrementally diminish the amount of happiness in the world while pretending to be a Force For Good and not actually killing anyone directly—and making money hand over fist. It's a thought experiment, in other words, and I'm not going to do it, and if any sick bastard out there tries to go ahead and patent this as a business practice you can cite this blog entry as prior art.

So. Let me describe first the requirements for the Evil Business Plan of Evil, and then the Plan Itself, in all it's oppressive horror and glory.

Some aspects of modern life look like necessary evils at first, until you realize that some asshole has managed to (a) make it compulsory, and (b) use it for rent-seeking. The goal of this business is to identify a niche that is already mandatory, and where a supply chain exists (that is: someone provides goods or service, and as many people as possible have to use them), then figure out a way to colonize it as a monopolistic intermediary with rent-raising power and the force of law behind it. Sort of like the Post Office, if the Post Office had gotten into the email business in the 1970s and charged postage on SMTP transactions and had made running a private postal service illegal to protect their monopoly.

Here's a better example: speed cameras.

We all know that driving at excessive speed drastically increases the severity of injuries, damage, and deaths resulting from traffic accidents. We also know that employing cops to run speed traps the old-fashioned way, with painted lines and a stop-watch, is very labour-intensive. Therefore, at first glance the modern GATSO or automated speed camera looks like a really good idea. Sitting beside British roads they're mostly painted bright yellow so you can see them coming, and they're emplaced where there's a particular speed-related accident problem, to deter idiots from behaviour likely to kill or injure other people.

However, the idea has legs. Speed cameras go mobile, and can be camouflaged inside vans. Some UK police forces use these to deter drivers from speeding past school gates, where the speed limit typically drops to 20mph (because the difference in outcome between hitting a child at 20mph to hitting them at 30mph is drastic and life-changing at best: one probably causes bruises and contusions, the other breaks bones and often kills). And some towns have been accused of using speed cameras as "revenue enhancement devices", positioning them not to deter bad behaviour but to maximize the revenue from penalty notices by surprising drivers.

This idea maxed out in the US, where the police force of Waldo in South Florida was disbanded after a state investigation into ticketing practices; half the town's revenue was coming from speed violations. (Of course: Florida.) US 301 and Highway 24 pass through the Waldo city limits; the town applied a very low speed limit to a short stretch of these high-speed roads, and cleaned up.

Here's the commercial outcome of trying to reduce road deaths due to speeding: speed limits are pretty much mandatory worldwide. Demand for tools to deter speeders is therefore pretty much global. Selling speed cameras is an example of supplying government demand; selling radar detectors or SatNav maps with updated speed trap locations is similarly a consumer-side way of cleaning up.

And here's a zinger of a second point: within 30 years at most, possibly a lot sooner, this will be a dead business sector. Tumbleweeds and ghost town dead. Self-driving cars will stick to the speed limit because of manufacturer fears over product liability lawsuits, and speed limits may be changed to reflect the reliability of robots over inattentive humans (self-driving cars don't check their Facebook page while changing lanes). These industry sectors come and go.

Can I identify an existing legally mandated requirement with which the public must comply, and leverage it to (a) provide a law enforcement service at one end, (b) a rent-seeking opportunity at the other, and (c) a natural monopoly that I can milk in the middle? And, wearing my Screwtape hat, do so to maximize misery at the same time?

Oh hell yes I can do that ...

The European Commission is a well-intentioned organization where it comes to protecting its citizens and the natural environment. As they say in their environment notes, "Just in terms of household waste alone, each person in Europe is currently producing, on average, half of tonne of such waste [per year]. Only 40 % of it is reused or recycled and in some countries more than 80% still goes to landfill." They have, helpfully, decided to promulgate a set of standards for recycling waste, to be implemented by governments throughout the EU: the EU Waste Framework Directive "requires all member states to take the necessary measures to ensure waste is recovered or disposed of without endangering human health or causing harm to the environment." (From the British Government notes on Waste legislation and regulations.)

Great. Like speed limits, recycling is both inarguably sensible and necessarily mandated by law (because it's a tragedy of the commons issue, like speeding). We can work with this!

Here in Edinburgh, we're supposed to separate out our domestic waste into different bins, for separate collection. We have on-street recycling of packaging materials, and, separately, of paper. We have general refuse, and in some areas biomass/garden refuse (not so much in the city centre where I live). Glass recycling ... should be a thing, but they're struggling to separate it out: ditto metals such as cans. (As for WEEE I have no idea what we're supposed to do, which is kind of worrying.) Let's take Edinburgh as a typical case. The city provides refuse collection as one of its services, and this includes sorting and recycling. By pre-sorting their ejecta, citizens are providing a valuable labour input that increases the efficiency of the recycling process and reduces the overheads for the agencies tasked with shifting our shit.

Now, what happens when the mundane reality of household garbage recycling meets the Internet Of Things and Charlie's Evil Business Plan of Evil (and Misery)?

Well, we know that ubiquitous RFID tags are coming to consumer products. They've been coming for years, now, and the applications are endless. More to the point they can be integrated with plastic products and packaging, and printed cheaply enough that they're on course to replace bar codes.

Embedded microcontrollers are also getting dirt cheap; you can buy them in bulk for under US $0.49 each. Cheap enough to embedd in recycling bins, perhaps? Along with a photovoltaic cell for power and a short-range radio transciever for data. I've trampled all over this ground already; the point is, if it's cheap enough to embed in paving stones, it's certainly cheap enough to embed in bins, along with a short-range RFID reader and maybe a biosensor that can tell what sort of DNA is contaminating the items dumped in the bins.

The evil business plan of evil (and misery) posits the existence of smart municipality-provided household recycling bins. There's an inductance device around it (probably a coil) to sense ferrous metals, a DNA sniffer to identify plant or animal biomass and SmartWater tagged items, and an RFID reader to scan any packaging. The bin has a PV powered microcontroller that can talk to a base station in the nearest wifi-enabled street lamp, and thence to the city government's waste department. The householder sorts their waste into the various recycling bins, and when the bins are full they're added to a pickup list for the waste truck on the nearest routing—so that rather than being collected at a set interval, they're only collected when they're full.

But that's not all.

Householders are lazy or otherwise noncompliant and sometimes dump stuff in the wrong bin, just as drivers sometimes disobey the speed limit.

The overt value proposition for the municipality (who we are selling these bins and their support infrastructure to) is that the bins can sense the presence of the wrong kind of waste. This increases management costs by requiring hand-sorting, so the individual homeowner can be surcharged (or fined). More reasonably, households can be charged a high annual waste recycling and sorting fee, and given a discount for pre-sorting everything properly, before collection—which they forefeit if they screw up too often.

The covert value proposition ... local town governments are under increasing pressure to cut their operating budgets. But by implementing increasingly elaborate waste-sorting requirements and imposing direct fines on households for non-compliance, they can turn the smart recycling bins into a new revenue enhancement channel, much like the speed cameras in Waldo. Churn the recycling criteria just a little bit and rely on tired and over-engaged citizens to accidentally toss a piece of plastic in the metal bin, or some food waste in the packaging bin: it'll make a fine contribution to your city's revenue!

We can also work the other end of the rent pipeline. Sell householders a deluxe bin with multiple compartments and a sorter in the top: they can put their rubbish in, and the bin itself will sort which section it belongs in. Over a year or three the householder will save themselves the price of the deluxe bin in avoided fines—but we don't care, we're not the municipal waste authority, we're the speed camera/radar detector vendor!

There is a side-effect, of course: fly-tipping. But hey, not our problem. And anyway, it's just a sign that our evil scheme is working.

Meanwhile 90% of our waste mountain comes from the business sector, not consumers, but we don't care about that—businesses do not constitute a captive market as their waste collection is already commercialized and outsourced.

Anyway. The true point of this plan is that it's possible to pervert the internet of things to encourage monopolistic rent-seeking and the petty everyday tyranny of regulations designed not to improve our quality of life but to provide grounds for charging fines for petty infringement. Screwtape would be proud, and our investors will be extremely happy.

What other opportunities for using the IoT to immiserate and oppress the general public for pleasure and profit can you think of?

329 Comments

1:

This almost seems like you're deliberately pushing Poe's Law.

2:

It's background plot noodling from my grim meathook future fantasy dystopia novel (which I'm thinking about writing maybe next year). This particular element is just fine background detail.

It's been said, truthfully enough, that 50 years ago the best and the brightest were trying to cure cancer or land astronauts on the moon; these days they're trying to front-run the stock market by 50 milliseconds or develop a smartphone game with more addictive in-app purchases than the competition.

We seem to live in a world where real people are actually paid good money to think up scams like this. What's it going to be like in 20 years' time when this sort of business sensibility has had another generation to fester?

3:

You forgot the MAFIAA intervention: all this waste doesn't recycle itself!

Pass an environmentally friendly law requiring that retailers collect a recycling fee for all products. Simple things like oranges carry a low fee - a chunk for the plastic bag that they come in and a chunk for the nominal cost of composting the peels. A microwave oven packaged in cardboard, plastic and foam will be significantly more.

Set up a collection society to gather the proceeds and theoretically distribute them to the recyclers. Some of this goes to the society's overhead, of course, including the competitive salaries and bonuses needed to attract and retain top executive talent.

The best part is that the collection society has no actual expenses other than lawyers...

4:

The best part is that the collection society has no actual expenses other than lawyers...

I like (and fear) the way you think.

5:

Piggy backing on the self-driving-vehicle mojo...

Whilst the technology is looking to be imminently ready for deployment there are some concerns that, even if their only partially valid, will be a big argument against. That is the very rare situation of "what if a child is following a ball and running towards a road? Will an SDV be able to predict their behaviour?? How will it stop in time if the child runs out at the last second???"

This is a great argument (for our evil purposes) because it doesn't have to rely on much fact. It doesn't matter if it can be shown SDVs will react fast enough in most of these situations someone just has to scream "won't someone please think of the children!"

Second use of this sort of argument: there's clearly a big problem with protestors in this country. Lazy weed-smoking hippy students that should get a job rather than cluttering up the streets of major cities every other month protesting over anything! Deliberately walking in front of an SDV (given suitable stopping time) would cause traffic to freeze as the cars detect an obstacle. Isn't it horrendous that these long haired moochers could potentially walk into the roads and bring the arteries of commerce to a halt?

Both of these can be solved with the handy addition of my patented Facial Analysis and Recognition for Car Electronics AKA FARCE. With FARCE the off-the-shelf sensors of an SDV can be turned into cameras that will snap a picture of every pedestrian that enters the road at a non-designated crossing within a set distance of a car. That picture will be added to a national database for fines to be levied from that person. That takes care of the students, but what about the children? Well in the chasing-a-ball situation don't you just think "where is the mum in all this?" (yes the mum, not the dad, this a patriarchal evil scheme don't you know!). If a child attempts to run into the road their face will be recognised in order to identify the mother and fine her.

DOUBLE AWESOME BONUS ROUND:

Terrorism amirite? For a moderate fee we'd be happy to open up FARCE to UK police forces in the fight against terrorism. The streets will be much safer once every SDV is on the hunt for any suspected terrorist or terrorist sympathisers. To save the public time and money we're happy offer FARCE-pro, using our dedicated servers we will tirelessly scan social media for terrorist-sympathising messages, identify the image of the person posting and report them to the police the next time they walk near an SDV.

6:

Ah, I did call it correctly on Twitter.

I suspect your view that the best and brightest used to work on great projects and we don't now may on closer inspection be an overly rose-tint on your optician's prescription. Yes, there was the moon launch program. But in our era, we have the human genome project and the like, and back then we had plenty of people working on better ways of killing each other. And Madison Avenue? Plenty of great creatives ending up coming up with "Go to work on a egg".

(OK so Fay Weldon was in Britain not the US, but the Mad Men are the type specimens for that industry.)

7:

That is the very rare situation of "what if a child is following a ball and running towards a road? Will an SDV be able to predict their behaviour?? How will it stop in time if the child runs out at the last second?

Already partially solved as a safety system on existing human-driven cars. Reliability will increase -- this was circa 2013.

However, FARCE definitely has a promising niche in our Grim Meathook internet-of-things-enabled Future.

8:

The sorting requirements churn + automatic sorter sounds like an excuse to charge for sorting software updates twice a year to me.

9:

I nearly suggested software rental but you need people to get burned occasionally when they fail to update or they may wonder what they are paying for.

10:

I am having fear flashbacks to Ken MacLeod's Intrusion. Please desist.

11:

I'm planning to one-up "Intrusion" if this novel gets the green-light (not before next year and scheduled publication of all current work in progress).

12:

Give the local governments one year to learn how hard it is to run their revenue maximization schemes on Excel spreadsheets, and spend that year developing software to do it for them. Then spend some of the revenue you get from that software continually improving it, in ways that make their schemes more complex, harder for the homeowners to keep up with, and more profitable. The goal being to get local purchasing agents to tell their bosses, "We can't afford not to buy this upgrade!".

Oh, and having this software in place offers opportunity to sell more IoT hardware. Sensors that detect environmental pollutants in the area, and allow the software to use that data to optimize the revenue scheme. "More people are wasting styrofoam; we need to tax that more heavily this week."

13:

I wonder just how closely WEEE maps to this; they make the retailers do the endpoint collection, and who knows where it goes from there.

14:

It's been said, truthfully enough, that 50 years ago the best and the brightest were trying to cure cancer or land astronauts on the moon; these days they're trying to front-run the stock market by 50 milliseconds or develop a smartphone game with more addictive in-app purchases than the competition.

Charlie, is this tongue-in-cheek?

If not, I expect better of you. This is just a case of the Golden Age fallacy. Or maybe you are getting older and, to quote Alan Moore's Watchmen, "Everyday the future looks a little bit darker. But the past, even the grimy parts of it, well, it just keeps on getting brighter all the time."

Sme of the best and brightest are still trying to cure cancer. Some of them are also, just like 50 years ago, still trying to get rich by all means possible. The "best and brightest" group include both moral and immoral people, obviously.

15:

Equoid or this; you are one sick and twisted little internet puppy.

Of course, the continual game of 'pass the parcel' between neighbours that would result is just the antisocial cherry on the top of this shit sandwich.

Are you sure you don't want a job, and a safe seat, with the conservative party?

You could go far.

16:

Hello from Gainesville, about 15 miles from Waldo in north central (not south) Florida. Waldo's speed trap has been infamous for about half a century, but there's an even worse one about five miles north of it on US 301: Hampton, Florida. Actually, Hampton is a couple of miles east of US 301, but a few years ago they annexed a narrow strip of land ending with 500 feet of US 301.

They lowered the speed limit for those 500 feet of highway, set up police cruisers, and raked in the speeding fines. After a few years of this the state legislature almost dissolved the city. It was spared, but severely constrained. CNN has an article (http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/29/us/hampton-florida-corruption-survival/) on Hampton, which it calls the "most corrupt city in America" and a "city too corrupt for Florida".

As a Florida native, I am offended by that latter description. There is NO WAY a city could be too corrupt for my home state!

17:

Not to forget that the fine process should be 100% automatic and just subtracts from your mandatory account - no cash in our meathook future.

Add in an even moderately complicated appeals process (please prove you did not step into the road at May 21st 2017 13:54:22...) and you can automatically bankrupt all but the richest persons - all you need is a method to generate a variety of fines at their behalf. Pretty sure your favorite 3-5 letter agency will have such a back door.

Even if not, all you need is a stolen (or faked) license plate and a few hours driving.

18:

Consider, if you will, the difficulties of getting suddenly very rich indeed. You need a product, and you need to either discover or manufacture a need for the product; in the latter case convincing consumers quite often demands that you cause a certain amount of pain and distress to underline and highlight this need; doing this one's self is difficult, expensive and possibly quite dangerous.

It is infinitely easier if you can outsource the causing of distress to another agency, preferably one which is already experienced and properly tooled up to do it, and which can be expected to go about the business with ruthless, pitiless efficiency.

I speak of course of Government, specifically local government enforcement groups. Administering rubbish sorting systems will be left to these worthies, and a nastier bunch of small-minded, sadistic, unfeeling arses could never be thought of. All you have to do is set them onto a large number of moderately blameless householders, and they'll take care of the rest.

So, first off you copy the RFID codes of a number of different plastic items. If you can obtain (by whatever means) a listing of these codes, together with their recycle codes and the penalties for mishandling them, then all the better.

Next, obtain a supply of suitable RFID tags (preferably adhesive ones, of a particularly tenacious type) and program them with the codes of particularly nasty items; known carcinogens, known hard-to-handle plastics and so on.

Finally, go round a supermarket and stick these pre-programmed tags onto a variety of different products which are otherwise readily recyclable, then let unsuspecting punters buy them. When the products are used and the packaging recycled, the unsuspecting householder gets slapped with fines for inappropriate recycling which are nothing to do with what they actually tried to recycle.

A majority will dispute the fines second or third time round, which will reveal the essential flaw in the system and lead to it getting canned, eventually; in the mean time a huge press furore will ensue.

You won't give a damn, not after your RFID-zapper tool with integrated "check if the tag is still alive" sensor has sold in the millions online and made you into a millionaire.

19:

The bit you missed: monitoring household garbage is a very intrusive surveillance.

It is therefore a profit center, generating sales from advertising companies; and, of course, from blackmailers, journalists, and other criminals.

This means that you can sell a premium service that anonymises the data (and charge the criminals an even higher premium for deanonymising it).

Next: the resale value of the data that you pour down the plughole and flush down the bog.

20:

Parking wardens, the next generation: RFID chips in car engines, RFID readers in street lamps, road markers, any pole alongside the road, or even just in the cat's eyes on the road dividers. RFID reader in the car cabin, noting things like microchips on bank cards (or public transport cards, or any other bit of plastic), or even the clothing people are wearing. If a car "parks" (that is, stops or stands in the one place for longer than 30 seconds, in circumstances which can't be explained by a traffic jam or snarl[1]) in a space which isn't a registered parking area (or which is gazetted as a "no standing" or "no parking" zone) automatic fines are computationally sent off to the owner of the vehicle in question. If a car "parks" with passengers inside for longer than the recommended amount of time required to alight from the vehicle[2], even in a registered parking space, automatically issue fines for vagrancy.

[1] Traffic jam algorithm: chain of vehicles greater than 10, moving at a speed at least 20km/hr lower than the gazetted limit for the stretch of road.
[2] For bonus points, determine this by using young, able-bodied people, departing from a reasonably roomy 4-door vehicle. This will therefore automatically penalise anyone who is elderly, mobility-impaired[3], parents with young infants and small children who need to be strapped into car seats, or anyone who owns a smaller or 2-door vehicle.
[3] Offer discounts for people who qualify for disabled/wheelchair parking permits - but only for them.

21:

Um, that's not very evil Charlie. I suspect you're too decent to really appreciate how to do it right. I apologize for the long quote, but you need to appreciate the beauty of the following:

DATE: December 12, 1991
TO: Distribution
FR: Lawrence H. Summers
Subject: GEP

'Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]? I can think of three reasons:

1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand. Also, much of the concern over industrial atmosphere discharge is about visibility impairing particulates. These discharges may have very little direct health impact[1]. Clearly trade in goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns could be welfare enhancing. While production is mobile the consumption of pretty air is a non-tradable.

The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.

http://www.whirledbank.org/ourwords/summers.html

For the uninitiated, that's not fiction. My note: [1] - this is obviously totally false, the science behind particulates / dioxins etc was very mature at this point.

Mr. Summers, on the other hand, was appointed the U.S. Treasury Secretary on July 2nd, 1999, and served through the remainder of the Clinton Admistration. Afterwards, he was named president of Harvard University.

The result?

Agbogbloshie and other sites.

There's still good out out there though. Of course, vastly underfunded, but hey.

The really funny part is that (as far as I can tell), he doesn't even teach in the MBA department. You'd need to look to figures like Forest L. Reinhardt for their policy on environmental thinking. From the Harvard Business Review (PDF) (a delight that contains other articles with titles such as "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu") he opined in 2007 that:

"For centuries, the North Atlantic cod fishery fed millions of people, but there were no property rights controlling access to fish in the sea, so fishermen didn’t treat the resource as scarce. In the early 1990s, the fishery collapsed. Governments have since established sensible systems of tradable catch permits
that seem likely to prevent the collapse of other species, but it was apparently too late to resurrect the cod fishery. The atmosphere’s ability to absorb emissions is now similarly limited, precisely because we thought that could never happen. A system in which we pretend that carbon emissions cost nothing subsidizes, at our children’s expense, every producer and consumer of energy today. To be efficient, we need to eliminate those subsidies. That means pricing carbon.

I'll let you spot the dog-whistles in that one. Hint - "tradable catch permits": a small bit of research into Iceland's fishing industry will show you what this actually does (as a small easy to grasp model). Or, you know, the breakup of the CCCP and all those factory chits that lead to 'might is right' Oligarchy.

And yes, he teaches the Harvard MBA - he knows exactly what he's actually saying. He also has one of those names that makes your nose wiggle. *nudge nudge wink wink*.

22:

Thank you for the link explaining what fly-tipping was. The term made me think of nothing except very very small drunk midwestern rednecks.

I think what I'd like to set up for myself if I lived in a world with the environment you describe is, a little flock of flying drones in my house that I've programmed myself. I'd whistle a certain way and hold up an object, and they'd come over to me and pluck it out of my hand for disposal. They'd analyze and sort it, then short out any RFID chips or transceivers in it (with a microwave burst or static or something), then fly off to get rid of it in the appropriate way -- possibly flying all the way to a dump rather than a curbside bin, and often just dropping things into a backyard composter.

23:

The idea of putting DNA sniffers in recycling bins calls to mind a recent headline in the Washington Post:

Suspect in 4 D.C. killings identified after DNA is found on pizza sent to burned home

Clearly the forces of lawnorder would love to accumulate human DNA from all the bins around and could easily use the data to create misery in arbitrary amounts. I'm a little fuzzy on how to monetize this, but there must be a way.

24:
they're trying to front-run the stock market by 50 milliseconds
If you take 50ms, you're going it wrong.


A friend of mine works for a company making that kind of appliances for their various customers, and the hardware architecture is fascinating. They're using programmable arrays to implement the algorithms used at a given time, and reprogram those extremely frequently. The chip compilers take hours per run, and fitting one additional compile run in the day is a main goal: the more often you can reconfigure your network card (the transactions are all pre-processed in the network chip) during a business day, the better.

25:

Bin sanitisation services: We scrub and clean your bin, and then blast it with our patented mix of dust taken from twenty-seven different forms of public transport across six continents! Guaranteed to remove all DNA evidence and safeguard your privacy, or your money back[*]

[*] Offer void where prohibited by law, or where invalidated by criminal proceedings.

26:

In belgium, a fee per pound of waste collected was implemented relatively recently.

The first idea was to have the bins fitted with RFID, weighted, and the total added to your quarterly fee. Of course, people would have simply shucked their waste in their neighbor's bins.

The solution was to put the fee on the waste bags. Garbage is only collected if it's in a Legal Bag. If not in the proper bag, the garbage is left on the sidewalk. Apparently, people that would chuck their garbage in their neighbor's bin for him to pay DO hesitate to put garbage that's going to be left on their neighborhood's sidewalk.

27:

How about starting a company to administer benefit payments for poor people, then getting legislation passed to ban cash payments and force people to use debit cards, then limit those cards to a very low sum for each withdrawal (because poor people never need to buy anything in bulk, that would be cost-effective) and then charge a fee for every withdrawal?

Oh wait, never mind, someone's already thought of that.

The banality of evil has never been more grim.

28:

You're talking like version 1 of that system isn't already in place. (Enforcement is via route planning for the parking wardens - the Amazon "make the humans as close to robots as possible" solution to tricky automation problems.)

29:

Hmmmm, how about putting shouting advertising messages on your coffee maker with wireless connection. Something about a new brand of coffee coming up or reminding you that this model is too old and the new one is available with 3D screen.

30:

Is that the best you got? Oh Charlie, I have such wonderful things to show you...


Consider the Ebola outbreak. It very forcibly reminded the world that pandemics are a risk. Worse, they are a risk that you can't readily quantify the parameters of, can't diversify against, and that while they are low probability, they are high impact.

Now as a reasonable response to this, one would think you would turn to the government. Pandemics are a society wide problem and thus we would want to marshal all the resources of society against it. The government can act as the insurer of last resort against these sort of incidents, issuing debt and printing money to provide the funds to combat any pandemic outbreak, and as the entity of largest scale is best able to make use of efficiencies of scale that come with society wide preventative care.

But that doesn't let our Evil Business Plan of Evil (and misery for all) make any money.

Instead, we lobby and push an ideology to preclude society wide health care, and to block rapid response when a pandemic occurs. So now pandemics are happening with more frequency due to lack of preventative care, are more severe due to lack of care infrastructure, and spread further and faster because governments are stymied at responding. How do you make money off that?

You sell insurance to the governments and organizations of course. Yeah, you can't pass an emergency response bill to buy the drugs to cure the disease, but if you constantly pay our company these exorbitant premiums, we will provide delayed, insufficient cash when the pandemic occurs. Suckle at the teat of government cash by blocking them from a necessity, its perfect. Sure, a lot of people will die, but that has never been a problem. The problem is...

Another company is already doing it. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/world/insuring-governments-against-disease-outbreaks

31:

Given I was talking off the top of my head, without doing any research, it sounds more like I was just caught out by someone else being a bigger arsehole on a day-to-day basis than I can be when I put my mind to it.

Actually, my version came out of my day-to-day frustration with the nuisances who double-park in "No Standing" zones at the local railway station drop-off area during peak hours and thus tie up the traffic in the area for multiple minutes at a time. All-time classic, however, was one bright spark who decided it would be a brilliant idea to *stop and talk to his mates* while double-parked next to them and damn near backed up the traffic as far as the nearest major road!

Now, if I could just figure out a way to monetize getting trapped at the intersection nearest our home (right hand turn[1] on a very busy single-lane-each-way road which connects a major medium-to-light industrial area with a major east-west arterial road; no median islands available to do the thing in two bites of the cherry. At morning and evening peak hours, it is quite possible to wait up to five minutes for a safe chance to turn[2]). Then again... parking fines sound like a great idea there, too.

[1] Australian; we drive on the left, a right hand turn is therefore across traffic.
[2] It's probably possible to wait longer than that - but after five minutes, I give up, turn left and take a longer way around to the major east-west arterial road.

32:

As you say, ubiquitous self-driving cars will eventually crash the speed trap market. But during the transition there may be some interesting escalations.

Self-driving cars collect MUCH more data on other cars than speed cameras can. That data could be used to flag more (and more minor) infractions for charges. There could be a feedback loop of manufacturers getting subsidies for providing the data and adding more surveillance features for more subsidies. One company's software could make a point of flagging infractions caused by a competitor's bugs or quirks.

And if this happens, there will probably be chaff or shielding countermeasures to keep a self-driving car from noticing your own infractions (perhaps reducing the safety of the self-driving car if it can't 'see' you effectively enough to punish you).

33:

Where is Iain Banks' Unethical Investment Fund when I need it...?

By a weird coincidence I was thinking of Google's cars today and realised how useful they'd be for e.g. market research - does the market share of people going to a particular restaurant chain rise or fall in response to their advertisements etc.? How much goods (in weight, which would be trivially easy to record) did the driver buy at the different stores she/he visited? And so forth.

I'm pretty sure that all of the photographic sites are already being data-mined for people's interests etc., before long we'll be in panopticon-land without even noticing because it will mostly be statistical rather than carefully targeted.

34:

This is just an exercise in trying to figure out how to make as many people as possible miserable and incrementally diminish the amount of happiness in the world while pretending to be a Force For Good and not actually killing anyone directly—and making money hand over fist.

Ok, I've got this covered.


Waste water management is a big problem in the UK, with millions of pounds in damage done each year through the careless flushing of tampons, wet wipes, condoms, fats etc both at point of entry (blocked pipes requiring rodding or in London's case, lard miners) or at the treatment plant (blocked filters, damaged filters, costs of removing materials).

Currently water providers are responsible for any shared access drains (if it's blocked and single access, the owner bares the costs) and bear the costs of treatment plant damage.

The UK government (both national and local) also spends millions of pounds per annum on educational materials (both online and physical leaflets) attempting to educate the populace on the issue.

And yet, people still flush those wet wipes and tampons.

Our solution at Giant Squid Consultancy is simple: using our revolutionary new sensor provided by the silicon valley start-up sHITKAN, every government owned property will be mandated to install the low cost sensor (£10 / toilet) by 2018 with white papers on how to get the Rental market owners associations to come on board (we suspect 2-3 years, tops, if costs are passed onto renters). Once installed the sensor is able to detect (through our patented invention) non-organic matter that passes through the pipes.

With its wireless technology, this can alert local councils that a non-organic item has been flushed and the council can decide what action to take. We suggest a warning then fining system akin to the models suggested by the MPAA and digital rights management industries.

As an added bonus, this organic data can be wirelessly sent to NHS databases (we expect further revenue from selling this metadata to pharmaceutical and insurance companies) allowing the easy detection of certain diseases such as diabetes, bowl cancer and so on.

We expect that this will save the UK government (and thus its people) up to £4 billion per annum and will benefit all private parties in the larger economy to the tune of £18 billion per annum.


Easy-peasy.

35:

Yes; once again the world exceeds expectations - downwards.

36:

Lest anyone think my suggestion isn't practical, I present the technology that already exists to allow it:

The Food Radar is the latest weapon in the arsenal of safety technology and is a sensor system designed for emulsions and pumpable products such as baby food, yogurt with fruit berries, spreads or, for example, tomato-based products. The system has the capability of detecting not only the denser foreign bodies (i.e., metal, stone and glass) but is particularly suited to foreign bodies such as wood, plastic, bone, extraneous vegetable matter and even insects that, up until now, have gone undetected and straight to the consumer.

http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/fsm/assets/Image/614FoodRadarFig3.jpg

http://www.foodradar.com/detection_principle.php

The biological tests are already available in various home testing kits via Boots:

https://www.boots.com/en/Measure-Bowel-Health-Test-Kit_1553744/

Hmm. Off to find a nice VC angel, expect to see me on Dragon's Den next year.

37:

Hi Charlie,

This has already been funded by William Gibson's Unevenly Distributed Futures venture capital firm, here in Seattle:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/01/26/381586856/tossing-out-food-in-the-trash-in-seattle-you-ll-be-fined-for-that

38:

One last one (since I mentioned the TTIP in the thread about tyranny):

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive US lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/22/eu-dropped-pesticide-laws-due-to-us-pressure-over-ttip-documents-reveal ">Guardian 22nd May


At this point I'm unsure if the USA is actually run by human beings. Seriously.

39:

This sounds to me like copying the treatment of blacks in places like Ferguson, MO on a broader scale. I'd likewise note of the possibilities of de facto debtor's prisons, (privately run of course).

40:

Another prior-art data point:

State-run/sponsored lotteries, especially compared to the criminal lotteries they've displaced. They definitely meet the main criterion:

This is just an exercise in trying to figure out how to make as many people as possible miserable and incrementally diminish the amount of happiness in the world while pretending to be a Force For Good and not actually killing anyone directly—and making money hand over fist.

Yeah, we're going to fund schools with the proceeds of the lottery! Meaning, of course, that nothing else need be committed to funding schools...

41:

The USA, and any other capitalist country these days, is run by machines - a corporation can best be described as a machine for making money. The machine uses human components, but the logic they use is machine logic, and the conclusions they draw are mechanical conclusions, with no more pity or empathy than you'd expect of your toaster or an electric carving knife.

42:

Bitcoin is looking better and better.

43:

Hmmmm, how about putting shouting advertising messages on your coffee maker with wireless connection.

If your coffee maker has a wireless connection, sooner or later it will be rooted and added to a botnet to send spam.

This is why sensible rich people hand-roast their own organic coffee beans and use an antique Italian stovetop espresso maker. Or an Aeropress. Or something. The wifi-enabled coffee makers are subsidized by the advertising ...

44:

using our revolutionary new sensor provided by the silicon valley start-up sHITKAN

The correct silly vally noun formation would be Shittr™, but do go on ...

45:

"You can see all the oranges and coffee grounds," he says, raising one lid. "All that makes great compost. You can put that in your compost bin and buy it back next year in a bag and put it in your garden."

Oh great. That'll work really well for those of us who don't have compost bins (or gardens) ...

46:

I understand the idea that "We already have hostile AI, they're called Corporations", but I'd categorize it differently.

And probably not in public. Oh well.


Hint: the Harvard MBA teacher I linked to, an expert on business and the environment is called (literally) Forest Fox. I'll point you to a study session he did in 2012 regarding Californian water rights called "Woolf Farming & Processing":

"With a completely free market with no restrictions, I can at least imagine an outcome where there is a winner," said another student. However, the losers in such a free market would not survive...

This could be a good thing for Woolf Farming & Processing because it could purchase, on the cheap, neighboring farms that didn't invest in water conservation technologies. Stuart Woolf might then be better positioned to meet his own objective, as stated in the case: "to be a part of a food system that would feed a growing world population with fewer resources."

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6754.html

The write up, hosted on Harvard's own system, is written by Maggie Starvish.


One's attitude about oneself, and the treatment one receives from others, might be affected, in some small but measurable way, by stigmatic or salutary labeling due to one's name...

These findings cannot be explained by the effects of death cohort artifacts, gender, race, year of death, socioeconomic status, or parental neglect.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10576473


Apophenia, of course.

48:

Precisely
I was going to comment on someone else's remark about "sorting" food-waste.
ME: "What's food waste?"
I have three compost heaps - one here & two on the plots - problem solved.
As for RFID - surely putting 230V AC across them will fry the little buggers, assuming you can find them - um .....

As for a truly evil system, making money out of everyone & making them feel miserable ... well two versions of this have been running very nicely, thnak-you for some time now.
The first is, of course, the RC church & the second it's more recent counterpart any truly "Calvinist" organisation.
Not only rent-seeking, but making people actually feel guilty about it, too - a sure-fire winner!

Any religion that tells its followers that you are all guilty & sinful & only "we" can save you - as virtually all christian & muslim sects do is ay=utomaticall on to a winner, unless you can break out - but, if the state mandats a particular religious syatem, then you're stuffed, are you not?

49:

Just as a point of information, there's small town just north of San Antonio, TX, USA; I-35 goes through it, It was *really* well known as a speed trap.

Finally, I think the year before my late wife and I left Texas, in the mid-nineties, the Lege ("God's gift to columnists" - Molly Ivins) passed a law limiting the percentage of a municipal/county budget that could come from speeding tickets.

Big change.... And this is one that even the neofascist GOP would go with....

mark

50:

Using traffic violations as a mean to fund budgets is tried in Chicago but because of the backlash, they pulled it back. Apparently, you need to choose your victims carefully; it's better if they are just passing through, not your paycheck providers (using the taxes).

51:

Just a quick comment on glass recycling - I ran into a rather cool device yesterday that solves the problem - a glass imploder. Basically shatters the glass into very small blunt fragments so it can be extracted from a mixed waste stream. In the big one I saw, you throw a box of used bottles in the hopper, boxes and all, and a stream of sand pours out the bottom into one storage container, and the cardboard waste comes out the back in pressed bundles.
Apparently they were developed in the Cruise Ship industry so they could store the glass waste internally in a smaller volume, but still unload it later and sell it to a commercial recycler.

Glass Imploders linked only because I love the fact that there is a site called waste management world.

52:

Bollixed the link so here it is
Glass Imploders

53:

There are various benefits to not having all the brains on board on self-driving cars (there are drawbacks, too, obviously, but so long as there's enough tech there for a safe fallback behavior, you can optimize traffic much better if route calculation is being done on a single set of machines not subject to a consumer's maintenance schedule). If the single group of machines running self-driving cars is controlled by the local government, that's one thing -- but, for various reasons, particularly in the united states (where government in-house tech isn't subject to IP protection, for instance, and there are extremely strict and complex rules about in-house development) it's more common to outsource entire projects to third parties as technical contractors and become a middle-man for the third party; one could expect the cost of this to come out of drivers, as a DMV-controlled fee. Suddenly, you have a government-protected local monopoly wherein everyone who owns their own car pays you monthly.

(Something very similar already happens in the united states, in a less monopolistic way, with insurance -- car insurance is required by law. It's even worse, because car insurance doesn't provide any benefits except in the case of property destruction -- the normal/expected case is that you pay the insurance company and never get anything back!)

54:

There is a side-effect, of course: fly-tipping.

Not if the RFIDs are write-once and set with a transaction identifier at check-out.

Bitcoin is looking better and better.

That and a hoodie. I can tolerate using a card alongside cash, but losing the right to use cash would presage some dark shit. Bitcoin is traceable too, of course, but that actually provides cover when deniable anonymising services are available to the cognoscenti.

55:

Dealing with fly-tipping is easy if you mandate (in the name of saving the environment) tying the RFIDs of items purchased at the PoS with the identity of the purchaser. You don't even have to abolish cash, just make tendering a loyalty card mandatory if you want to pay with cash.

So now if the RFIDs of items you were the Registered Consumer of turn up fly-tipped, or even in someone else's bin, automatic fine. And Greg Tingey@48, sure you can fry the RFID chips from your purchases but if they don't appear in your Designated Recycling Receptacle n days after their final use by date, automatic fine. (We'll give you a 10% allowance for legitimate field failures of the RFID chips because we're nice like that.)

RFIDs' range is a factor of the power used by the reader isn't it? I wonder if it would be possible to add a long-range RFID reader to a drone.

"Dear Council Tax payer.

You are currently claiming the single-person Council Tax discount with regard to your property at [address]. However, a routine audit of your purchases combined with a drone survey of your neighbourhood reveals consumption patterns equivalent to at least two persons..."

56:

> Just as a point of information, there's small town just north of San Antonio, TX, USA; I-35 goes through it, It was *really* well known as a speed trap.

This seems to be a popular business model in small-town USA. There was a particularly infamous one in Delaware on one of the roads to popular beaches back in the 1990s. Dunno if it's still there.

And, as for Texas, there's still Driscoll on US-77 on the way down to the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

https://www.facebook.com/HoustonCopBlock/posts/954839694550130

57:

The scariest thing about the current generation of self-driving cars is that they're not telling anyone that they're putting a California driver behind the wheel — most of the development and testing is being done in the San Jose area. At least that means pothole-avoidance algorithms should be pretty sophisticated, though.

The connection to the recycle/bin is the unstated set of assumptions behind "what is recycleable?" For example, when I moved out here to California from East Central Redneckistan, I discovered that there are two major types of plastic containers that are not considered "recycleable" in California that are routinely recycled elsewhere. So, under the Evil Plan of Evil, who gets fined when someone is a houseguest and makes a locality-based mistake when carrying out the recycling? Or, more to the point, moves from area A to area B?

58:

I'd just stick all my trash in the microwave for 5 seconds before disposal. That should destroy an RFID tag pretty well.

It won't take long before somebody markets devices specifically for this purpose.

Humanity is as often saved by its flaws as by its virtues.

59:

or just dump the trash directly into the street at 3am, that should nicely ruin the ROI

The thing about all these income gathering schemes is it doesn't take much civil disobedience to ruin the profitability. Speed cameras never took off in Kentucky because people shoot them. I remember back in high school, one of my buddies shot the same one over and over (4 times) until eventually they just stopped replacing it...

60:

My policy of composting everything organic might explain why no
political canvasers hassled me during this election :-)


But back to your question. Income and capital gains tax are
abolished and replaced by universal VAT, including on food, books
and donations, as a much fairer tax. In order to discourage
asylum seekers and other spongers, people spending money are made
liable for ensuring that the recipient pays VAT properly. This
is all handled automatically for plastic payments to large
corporations, and everyone is permitted to buy a VAT card for use
for other transactions via a VAT machine that small traders are
permitted to buy (from a government-sponsored private source,
naturally). Any payments not accounted for, whether by computer
error or by paying someone with a defective or non-registered
machine, are charged VAT. The point here is that all of the
income for wage slaves must be accounted for, either buy buying
official (privatised) bonds or in those fashions.

You know it makes sense ....

61:

Waste recycling? hmmmm.....

No, do what the Germans do (require shops to handle excess packaging at the point of sale), but mandate it somehow. Imagine doing the weekly shop for a family of four, and then spending fifteen minutes stripping out the contents from the cardboard.

Then limit the sale of plastic bags to one, with volume limits, and biodegradability within a set time limits (or some other way of guaranteeing that it will be flimsy and guaranteed to tear) Muhahaha...

As an alternative for traffic, slowly decrease the number of available parking spaces in the city centre, add lots of bus-only lanes, and change the traffic sequencing so as to guarantee rush hour nightmare traffic jams for all except bus users. Then regulate the bus services within the city :)

For added joy, create cycle lanes but ensure that cycle parking is highly limited - and then ban illegal parking of bicycles, on grounds of obstructing pavements (sidewalks for y'all), on pain of having it "towed" or clamped...

But for the real low-grade misery, consider the ickle kiddiewinkies. Ban all parking within several hundred meters of schools; for child safety, obviously. Then insist that all children must be signed in and out of the school grounds by a parent. For child safety, obviously. Stand back, and watch more traffic jams...

Evil enough, or should I carry on?

62:

You maximize your revenue potential by being Evil to everyone, but you also risk annoying people who can push back, as in the case of Chicago traffic cameras.

Putting on the Evil hat... To get maximum Evil Revenue with minimal risk you should target marginalized people who can't push back. I suggest starting with recipients of state aid (no, not the retired -- they have clout!). There's a lot of precedent in this area and you just need to integrate a few existing ideas instead of building everything in scratch.

You know how analytical chemistry is now so extraordinarily sensitive that you can quantify human metabolites from controlled substances in sewer discharge? So far this technology has been squandered on academics. We're going to monetize it by instrumenting the sewer hookups of subsidized housing. Some miniaturization/ruggedization may be necessary to decrease costs sufficiently, but the basic technology is all off the shelf stuff. It doesn't even matter too much if the deployed version is somewhat inaccurate.

We're going to build a Healthy Life Choices system to keep children safe and help their parents escape the poverty trap. The sensor package will be installed at the exit of sewer hookups for subsidized housing. When it detects metabolites in discharge indicative of excessive alcohol use, or use of illegal drugs, it generates an automated notice to the residents of the matching dwelling that they appear to need help making Healthy Life Choices. For only $100* one of the adults in the household can attend an afternoon educational seminar online or in person for remedial education about the effects of drug use on families and society. If they believe the notice is unhelpful or was made in error, simply don't respond and after 21 days you will be scheduled for a free in-person visit from one or more of 1) a volunteer mentor/inspector from the nearest partnering community religious organization 2) child protective services 3) a parole officer. These people will be able to provide a more personal assessment of household circumstances, further interventions required, and whether someone currently on the housing waiting list might make better life choices if they were given the help you currently enjoy.

Just think of all the boxes we'll be ticking on the Evil Bingo Card! We can extort poor people with threats of homelessness and/or taking away children. We're streamlining government with efficient private sector innovation, and making sure that only deserving poor are kept out of the gutter. Providing quantitative rationalization for excluding more people from subsidized housing enables us to "solve" shortages without increasing capacity. Nobody will stand in our way because of Drugs and/or Shiftless Spongers and/or Think of the Children. I'm sure you can work out the many possible permutations and next growth areas starting from here.

*Actual revenue maximizing price point to be determined dynamically.

63:

My opposition to the idea of SDV's has always been derived from my experience at witnessing the birth and childhood of cable television.

At first it was;
"Oh, the picture quality is so much better, and rural folks can get good signal without an antenna, and content is not so tightly FCC-regulated so we can watch shows where characters sometimes use the "s" word, and so many choices of different channels, and. . . since we pay a monthly fee, NO COMMERCIALS!"

Then, soon, there were channels with commercials, and premium channels. Then those premium channels became fewer and fewer, and even those showed some form of advertisement.

Then on the regular channels, ads got ramped up way higher than they ever were on the old 3 broadcast channels.

Don't even get me started on the sorry degraded state of broadcast journalism.

As this applies to SDV's:
If you're not busy driving, (which will quickly become either illegal, or extremely costly to ensure - a privilege of the elite), then you can get busy watching ads. All this expensive automotive technology doesn't come cheap. The seat-backs will have screens displaying ads. The side windows will have heads-up displays for ads. Why not the windscreen? Want to take a certain route to work? Forget it, unless you want to pay a premium fee. Otherwise, you'll go down streets lined with billboards populated by ads from our sponsors and partners. You will drive past the restaurants and stores we think you might like to shop and eat at. It may take a bit longer, this route, but hey, it's better than the old days, when you used to sit in stop-and-go traffic and pump the brake and gas pedal all day long, right?

I've already seen this on some low-cost airlines, where the screen on the seatback in front of me could either show an optional movie (that I would have to pay extra for), (which also included ads), or it would cycle through advertisements for about 5 minutes. On repeat, through the whole freaking flight.

This is our commuter-future.

64:

We're going to build a Healthy Life Choices system to keep children safe and help their parents escape the poverty trap. The sensor package will be installed at the exit of sewer hookups for subsidized housing. When it detects metabolites in discharge indicative of excessive alcohol use, or use of illegal drugs, it generates an automated notice to the residents of the matching dwelling that they appear to need help making Healthy Life Choices.

Please see comment #34, I'm afraid you've broken patent rules and our lawyers Vinson & Elkins will be submitting the required paperwork in approximately twenty minutes. It is 4am here so they're being slow.

Furthermore, you've broken section [redacted] of the Patriot Act in your country where classified actions on behalf of the government have been revealed. Once you get the paperwork, I'm sure you'll discover that the DEA will have also sent you a cease and desist order and a legally binding NDA with criminal penalties if you happen to discuss this further.

For the UK, you will receive contact details for the relevant people, notably from the NHS (Department of Health), where you will clearly see that metadata regarding the causes of potential cancers (liver, kidney) is already under proprietary ownership of our company.

However, since you have the right spirit, once you have signed all the paperwork admitting guilt and submitting to our proper and legal rights, up to and including your companies' entire assets, we will be offering you a place in our organization.

Have a nice day.

65:

As a Melbournian, I lack the imagination to invent anything worse than our local $1.5e9 public transport ticketing system, Myki.

With Myki in mind, I feel you haven't fully explored the evils possible from incompetence. It takes about one second for each passenger to "touch on" and "touch off" with a Myki card. You don't tap, you touch and hold until it eventually beeps. Ticket readers are often broken or constantly rebooting. Sometimes the cards just die, and you have to buy a new one for $7. Fines can be paid on the spot, or if you want to contest the fine it is increased about 4-fold.

66:

Monitoring bins and applying fines are good (or rather, evil) - but you need to compound the misery.

Repeat offenders must be presumed to be acting out of ignorance. They deserve an opportunity to be lifted up out of that ignorance - so take a page from the "optional" traffic school. The ignorant offenders may void an excessive fine by paying a slightly less excessive amount to spend 4 hours or so weekends or nights in a class you will provide for them. In class, it will be repeatedly be driven home why they are an anti-social piece of crud ("bagged and gray bin only, please" - sorry, trash school joke), and how if they persist things will get much worse for them: legally, financially, socially, and probably economically when they lose their job for taking time off to go to court, or lose their homeowners insurance (licensed insurance providers of course being required to only insure those considered 'in compliance' (paying your fines keeps you in compliance, of course).

There will be the inevitable complete scofflaws of course - not paying fines, not signing up for classes to uplift their morals, skipping court dates. Still, it would be excessive (and expensive for government and less profitable for you) to slap them in jail. Ankle bracelets are cheaper for the government than prison - and a nice side line for you in rental and monitoring services.

No doubt some of these scofflaws will protest that they have no money to pay their fines, but with the ankle bracelet on you'll know when they're at the track or spending time in a bar - which they'll be banned from until they pay their fines. To help them avoid spending money in such places (they ARE convicted scofflaws after all) they will be restricted to using a special debit card (that you provide for a very profitable 'service fee' and modest charge to the government) for all transactions. The card will refuse to work in places selling or serving alcohol (even if that is every local grocer other than your CleanLife grocery chain that no one patronizes if they don't have to, due to the higher prices and thin selection and frequent out-of-stock basics) or linked to gambling or other vices that would waste money they need to be spending on their many fines, fees, service charges, etc. Periodic surprise inspections can check that they have no cash on hand (forfeited with a share going to pay for your agents' wages, of course).

The really great thing is all the employment this will create - those who claim lack of funds due to lack of work will have no excuse, when you're right there ready to offer them a (closely supervised) job monitoring other people, hand sorting refuse (to raise their awareness of the problem they've been causing), etc. Wages garnished to pay fines/fees/etc, of course, and once those are paid they will be dismissed from this job to make room for others - wouldn't want anyone mixing recyclables just to get a job, after all, so the job must be short as well as miserable and underpaying.

Another angle you should consider, to rise into the elite ranks of making life miserable: you should encourage snitches and spying on neighbors. Bonus points for encouraging children to turn in their parents. You don't want to pay for this, of course - instead, you should institute neighborhood variable fines and service charges. Those that have more offenders would pay more per fine. This should insure you will have many "informal volunteers" (snoops) working on your behalf to identify anyone trying to get around your programs.

67:

Let's do a physical product business model.

Start out with an ordinary non-essential item, the sort of thing that people might have with them every day.

Stratify it: the cheap model, the functional model, the professional model, the status model, and the aspirational model - virtually all of the first run of the aspirational model will be given away to celebrities in exchange for tweets/posts/grams/social thing du jour.

When a reasonable competitor comes along, proclaim them the enemy. Let everyone know that there's a war on. Ridicule the users of the competitor without actually claiming anything about their items. People who use their stuff are boring, socially maladroit, don't dress well, aren't popular.

Finally, start the upgrade treadmill. Never announce a new model until you've ended production on last year's and are ready to ship this year's -- but not too many, for the first month it ought to be selling out everywhere. Make only cosmetic changes, but make them major cosmetic changes. This year the only colors are ebon and ivoire. Last year's pastels are over! Next year will come in six bright colors, to match your personality.

In every iteration, the aspirational model is completely different from the cheap and functional models, but similar to the status model -- you can tell the difference at a glance if you have read up on it, but those who aren't in the know won't.

Make them all in the cheapest country and distribute them yourself. It helps if the materials you use hold together and look nice through one upgrade cycle, but not two. By three it should look downright shabby.

Actual product doesn't matter much. Watch trends and extrapolate out three years.

68:

This is just an exercise in trying to figure out how to make as many people as possible miserable and incrementally diminish the amount of happiness in the world while pretending to be a Force For Good and not actually killing anyone directly—and making money hand over fist.

We've hit Religion, we've hit bureaucracy, we've hit startups, we've hit bodily waste, Black Mirror's Fifteen Million Merits has already done modern culture.

Y'all thinking too slow:

What we do at stAIrs is map your genome at birth. Then, we're going to pair your predicted societal expectations with one of our custom built HFT models.

AI, they said, was too wild and dangerous and could never happen. "What happens if you take the humanity out of machine intelligence?" they cried in protest.

We at 23DA are forging AI with an inbuilt human monitor.

As your children progress through your, we've made sure that both you and your HFT algorithm reflect each others success and mapped each plateau to each other. If the human subject is good at sports, the HFT will focus on those stocks; sociality and sexual attraction; pornography, social media and fashion.

I'm sure you can see the benefits. As the human subject is more successful, the HFT learns. As the HFT learns, the more benefit the human subject gains in paying off their Basic Citizen Certification.

For parents worried about 'alternative' children, please, do not worry. Our HFTs can track the newly legalized marijuana stocks and even the art market.

Given that the BSC comes with an automatically incurred cost of $150,000 new dollars (adjusted for Yuan if you buy the silver package or higher) we're sure that your child will leave schooling with zero debt.

Even better, if your child's HFT gains significant market share, we will put 5% of it's earnings into a trust fund for your child's ascent to adulthood.


At stAIrs we know the future is bright. Your children and our algorithms predict it.

69:

As your children progress through your

Much formatting errors.

As your children progress through their lives...

70:

Toll roads

We here at TollsAreUs valiantly assist Governments that lack funds to address congestion by building Toll Roads, for which we then gain 25 year plus license to "tax" every user of the road, paying us back significantly more than the cost of building the road and allowing us to incrementally increase charges over time.

To save money we will not have manned toll-booths, but instead use toll "tags" (for which we will charge a rental fee) and more recently number plate identification to automate the tolling.

As added bonus we will only allow 3 days for a non account holder to pay and if they go beyond that we will quadruple the fee for "enforcement" costs. This will catch a lot of out of towers and visitors, giving a nice extra payment stream. Those that do manage to pay on time through our complex sign up process are now "account holders", who we can monetize in the usual ways including charging their credit card for an annual fee (even if they never travel the road again).

To make it more evil, every toll road will be built and run by a separate corporation, even though most will be owned by us, each with a separate payment system, requiring user to have multiple accounts to travel around the one city, each incurring charges and adding hassle for users.

To maximize our income we will ensure that the roads are used as much as possible by:
- linking separate toll roads together so that common routes involve multiple charges
- making it difficult to avoid the tolls, by either changing the original roads or threatening users with congestion taxes if they use them
- encouraging transport companies especially Taxis (and nowadays the Ubers etc) to use the toll roads and immediately pass on the cost
- lobbying governments to not fund public transport
- doing deals with the GPS mapping companies so that the default (and preferably all routes) suggested by the "map" apps use the tolls (and for added bonus remove or at least make difficult to find the option to avoid tolls)

The last will also help as self driving cars come in, ensuring that the revenue is maximized again.

The difficult bit is that here in Australia this is already reality.

71:

Several postings have made me smile, because they are all aspects
of a modern truth: you are not a customer or a service user; you
are the commodity.

72:

sure you can fry the RFID chips from your purchases but if they don't appear in your Designated Recycling Receptacle n days after their final use by date, automatic fine.
No comprende, senor.
"use by date?"
That's for perishables/food, right?
The ONLY food I buy is loose onions & shallots from a stall, paying cash - no room for them on plot, given the space taken up by spuds, beans, peaes, soft fruit etc .... Ditto meat, known-source "organic" from local butcher.
Drinks in containers? Goes into the recyclables bin, as soon as contents consumed, hic.
As for "consumer goods" they do not have "use by" dates, do they, I if I get something like that, I already put any packaging where it belongs.
Other materials are disposed of, properly anyway - some time soon, I will have to go to the local recycling centre to dispose of changed car gearbox oils - & they run a batteries-&-electrical collection/dispposal service already.
Sorry, I don't think this one will fly, if only because disposing of stuff responsibly is actually easy.
And "free" - in that it come out of the Council Tax ( Local taxation for non-UK readers )

73:

THAT would get instant civil & some very un-civil disobedience straight away.
I think that the alredy-visible proponents of doing away with cash "for convenience" are going to run into some serious opposition, because people are already aware of the traps, pitfalls & sheer corrupt manipulation possible under such a scheme.

74:

Buy & keep several strong cotton shopping bags & carry a rucksack.
I think I 've used a supermarket (or other) plastic bag once in the past year ( I forgot to bring my own, what a prat. )

75:

Oops, posted "send too soon" ...
As for schools & parking ... well from the age of 6 I walked 3/4 of a mile to school & back 4 times a day.
And from age 11, cycled 5 miles a day.
Actually "the school run", if under 1 mile, possibly 2 (?) should be banned, if do-ble (very difficult to do, I know) - because:
1. Environmental - all those stop-start, fuel-wasteful runs, by drivers watching the little bastards darlings in the car, rather than the fucking ROAD.
2. Health - The dreaded "school spurts", which are fascist promotion programme, if I ever saw one - could be abandonded, simply because walking that far every day wil automatically keep them fit.
3. Removes vast amounts of unnecessary traffic congestion.

76:

a volunteer mentor/inspector from the nearest partnering community religious organization.
YEAHHH!
THAT is truly evil.
Go to the head of the class - not only do you fine them, you fuck their brains over with religious claptrap as well .....

77:

THIS is why the BBC is still liked & preferred by many.
As for "compulsory" ads on flights - one you realise this is happening, make sure you have an A4 sheet of paper & a roll of "sellotape-equivalent" in your hand luggage.

78:

The contrast with "Oyster" ( The London ticket system - I think a version is also used in Hong Kong ) is stark.
Oyster works & works reasonably well.
Why do Melbournians put up with this level of borked, when it can & does work elsewhere?

79:
The ONLY food I buy is loose onions & shallots from a stall, paying cash - no room for them on plot, given the space taken up by spuds, beans, peaes, soft fruit etc ....

Ah, no visible means of sustenance? Highly suspicious!

80:

Already been done.
One reason I won't use any Steve Jobs product

81:

Your health insurance premiums increase slightly every time a smart-toilet detects a flush but the smart-sink records subsequent hand washing of less than 30 seconds at a temperature below 38C.

82:

You forgot the IMPORTANT bit.
Make sure all the railways / metros / tramways are closed down first.
Who Killed Roger Rabbit, actually?

AIUI
Sydney went down this road & is now trying to backtrack ... yes/no?

83:

I disagree that 'they' aren't going to get rid of cash in a decade
or so, as doing so has just SO many advantages for them. At least
the English electorate is no better than a bunch of frogs being
boiled.

And I am amused by your walking and cycling history, but you are
probably younger than I am and certainly grew up in more developed
parts of the world. I walked much further than that from much
younger, and that is normal in many parts of today, even now,
because there is simply no alternative. However, back to being
evil.

The term psychling farcilities is used for good reason, and most
pedestrian ones are little better. In the UK, almost all send the
road user via an obstacle course that provides only an illusion of
safety, and are often much more dangerous than the alternative,
so are ignored. Whereupon, pedestrians and cyclists lose out in
damages, because they have endangered themselved by not using the
farcility! Their success is measured by the extra hassle they
cause to motorists, and usually the reduction in walking and
cycling (which is reflected in the reduction of deaths and
injuries along that route). The statistics used to bear that
out, but their collection has now been privatised, so they are
not available to the hoi polloi. I don't think that even an Evil
Overlord could do much better.

84:

Versions are used in numerous places - the HK one is the Octopus card, the Dublin one is the Leap card and Montréal has the OPUS card. And yes, usually they're fine, the machines are reliable and it's quicker than feeding a ticket through.

Sounds like poor Melbourne got an incompetent implementation. Possibly early adopter. Or maybe not, since I don't remember using it in 2010 (and my first Octopus dates from a week after I left Melbourne).

(Checks - ah, Octopus was the second in the world.)

Oyster likes the card held against the reader for about half a second in my experience. An experienced commuter will keep walking forward as the card registers, knowing the gate will stay open, but in very high traffic conditions (e.g. Victoria Station at 08:55) it's possible to end up not knowing if it did register.

85:

but you are probably younger than I am

Having met both of you I think Greg is pretty much the same age as you. He is I believe retired and you are not quite yet, but that's down to you working for an organisation1 which only recently introduced a mandatory maximum retirement age.

1 If organisation is the right word for a bunch of semi-independent entities that have learnt to go in roughly the same direction over the last eight centuries. Don't talk to my wife about how the whole reorg of IT is going - she's not going to be sticking around once she hits minimum retirement age.

86:

Replacing cash in the short term is a total non-starter.

You can bring in a contactless cash-like system, sure, but making it mandatory will run foul of the over-70 demographic, who not only dislike change, but in many cases are unable to adapt to that kind of fundamental change.

And the over-70s vote.

Longer term, phasing out cash might work -- but you'd need to run both systems in parallel for a generation until even the dementia demographic were familiar enough with the e-cash system to use it (at least, while they're still able to buy things for themselves).

Recent evidence: the UK banking sector's last-decade attempt at phasing out cheques -- look how well that failed to work out for them.

87:

I sympathize with your "school run" abolition, and I, too, am old enough to have been making my way unaccompanied across a busy city twice a day from age 10. (Too far to walk/cycle, but I got in the habit of walking one of the bus rides in good weather to save the bus fare -- no cashless bus tickets in those days).

However, that one's not going to fly these days; we have a generation of adults so terrified of Bad Things Happening to Unaccompanied Children (thank you, tabloid press paedophile scare headlines[*]) that it's unthinkable.

[*] Soham murders notwithstanding, over 95% of sex attacks on children happen in the home and the perpetrator is a relative or close family friend. But you wouldn't realise that if you subsisted on a diet of TV news and tabloid papers.

88:

Ah, thanks. Yes, quite. I doubt that I would be any politer!

89:

"Replacing cash in the short term is a total non-starter."

True, but there has been massive progress towards it recently,
and I am sure that the strict disciplinarians (i.e. 'law and
order' fanatics), spooks, marketdroids, gutter press, and other
snoops are all slavering at the prospect.

One of the things I have noticed in the past 2-3 years is that
there has been a massive increase in the over-70 people paying
with cards for small purchases - at least around here. That has
been 'helped' by an increasing number of sales and service
organisations making it increasingly difficult to pay by cash,
including in ways that are particularly hard for the less able
over-70s. Public telephones are a leading example.

It's not imminent, but it wouldn't surprise me if it becomes
policy in the 2020s for finalisation in the 2030s.

90:

"a generation of adults so terrified of Bad Things Happening to Unaccompanied Children"

If you can't monetise and monopolise that into an evil money making plan you're just not trying.

We need to "think of the children" which of course means tracking them at all times. That can be backed up with a slight misapplication of existing truancy laws. The scope for a turning that into an (initially) low chargeable service seems obvious. There are registration fees, tracking fees, enforcement fees. The local school could start this as a money making scheme or perhaps the council.

I'm sure there's a way to roll that into an inverse of the *fabulous* USian system of "registered sex offenders".

Aside: It's a great (for evil values of "great) system. First, poor people are charged with sex offences. These are things as trivial as two 17 year olds engaging in consensual sex with each other. The children involved are encouraged to plead guilty. Once convicted they're permanently placed on a sex offender's register. Once that happens they're permanently unable to rent a residence. Into this tragedy steps the selfless billionaires who own specialised trailer parks (shanty towns) where the "offenders" are charged exorbitant rents that they have no alternative but to pay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZZrAdNoXB8
End Aside.

The inverse of that of course would be at first encouraging and then eventually making mandatory that families with children live in special gated communities at exorbitant rents.

91:

[Trailer Parks] That's a wrinkle that "Halting State" didn't have!

One that the UK does have, but is not using much yet, is to stop
Officially Undesirables from using normal debit/credit cards and
even normal bank accounts, which has a similar effect. But I
expect that to be used more and more as cash is made harder to use.

92:

Whores and insider trading are fine, but politicians really like cash when accepting bribes.

You also have the invisible elephant in the room: the illegal drug industry. On one side, a huge government payroll; on the other, the selfless citizens who dedicate their time to keeping that bureaucracy employed...

93:

In the UK, purchasing politicians is very, very rarely done with
ready cash, least of all in the form of notes. It is done by
arranging for them to get lucrative contracts and consultancies,
free or cheap houses, holidays, travel etc. and similar assistance
'in kind'.

94:

Allotments, huh? The Evil Plan of Evil can deal with those...

It would clearly be a Bad Thing if our Loyal Citizens were to become ill after eating food that had not been officially approved for human consumption, right? Therefore, all allotments used for food-growing must be properly certified (for an annual fee, of course) and must use only seeds provided by the Official Government Supplier (outsourced to Monsanto).

This regulatory framework, which we have put in place For Your Own Protection, is backed up by unannounced inspections by Ofplot. Anyone found to be growing edible plants without a licence or from seed that was not from the Official Supplier (the inspectors will take samples for DNA testing) will be fined on the spot. Repeat offenders will be banned from keeping allotments, and any gardens that they may have will be monitored to ensure that there is no covert food-growing.

(This legislation has the neat side-effect of providing a handy revenue stream from gardeners who did not realise that they were growing edible plants – plenty of ornamental species are edible.)

95:

Nothing says you've gotta' use an up to the moment Apple.

96:

but making it mandatory will run foul of the over-70 demographic, who not only dislike change

But if they dislike change, surely the oldtimers would love a cashless economy....

.

.

.

.

Oh, I see! ;-). As you were

97:
Nothing says you've gotta' use an up to the moment Apple.

My sister uses an eleven year old iBook and my mother a twelve year old iMac. Both are stuck on Mac OS 10.5 (the last PPC version). My own current iMac will soon be three years old and runs Yosemite just fine with 16GB of DDR3 and a 3.1 GHz Core i7. I see no need to replace it for a while yet.

98:

There are a few ways that customer loyalty programs and other sources of consumer data could be used for fun and profit. It is becoming increasingly possible to track everything an individual purchases either online and in brick and mortar stores through loyalty cards and credit card records. Soon, facial recognition combined with all that publicly available information we let slip onto the net (or voluntarily give tot he stores) will allow for excellent customer tracking justified by the efficiency and the improved customer service such technology could bring.

The real money is to be found in acting as a middleman between those data sources and either insurance companies or state authorities. There are two good schemes that I can see offhand:

1. Tracking consumer data for the purpose of determining insurance risk. Buying unhealthy food, or food? Registered an ATV? Failing perform vehicle maintenance? Rate hikes all around. Data can be analyzed compared to he latest research (funded by the usual sources) to tease out formerly unknown insurance risks in order to charge fair® rates.


2. Once it becomes possible to track every purchase, it is then also possible to so becomes possible to track the ecological footprint of a person or household. Why penalize the producers for causing environmental impacts? They are merely trying to satisfy customers and maximize shareholder value. The customer is ultimately the source of demand, so they should be incentivized to decrease that demand. By aggregating the purchase data of an individual, you run it through a handy secret algorithm to determine the precise environmental impacts associated with the lifestyle they are purchasing and then charge appropriate fees to mitigate that impact and disincentivize excessive consumption.

Of course, once this framework is in place, and profits start rolling in, some people won't want to get with the program and will start trying to use farmers markets and other small venues to cheat the system. All of these small businesses will aid customers in shirking their duties as good citizens, therefore they will require regulation. This is where the hardware side of the business kicks in, as environmental performance monitoring becomes mandatory, it will become necessary to work the hardware side of the business, providing the mandatory (nominally affordable) customer tracking equipment to all who wish to participate in commerce (Service fees may apply for analytic data).

99:

Charlie,

What is to stop me calling up your trash company and explaining to them that I'm on a indefinite holiday to Europe and discontinue pick-up, or I just stop paying my trash bill then I dump all my trash in the town's public receptacles?

100:

The law.

Basically you're turning yourself into a profit center for their litigation/cost recovery department.

101:

I quite like the idea of needing a licence to grow daisies. I could dial 999 when I find one growing amongst my (fully licensed) camomile and have plod do my weeding. Although, in a meathook world, I guess police drones would issue penalty notices on sampling pollen from unlicensed Herb Robert.

FWIW, it appears the present day regs on selling hen's eggs are relatively sane, with the odd quirk (eggs must not be graded by size).

102:

I'm thinking that I'm hearing an opportunity for a heck of black market: "Psst! Looking for an espresso maker with no internet connection? Coffee beans that aren't part of the tracking system?"

Maybe it's time I started getting my designs together...

103:

Ahem:

https://www.theverge.com/2014/12/11/7375799/keurig-coffee-hack-is-simple-easy-permanent

Admittedly, that's to hack one so that it can use 'generics', but same principle.

I'm also apparently not very original: Adult Swim has done the lavatory gag:

Smart Pipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJklHwoYgBQ


But, of course, they focus on being against government, rather than working for it.

104:

Here's a freebie. It was intended to be a Zero State project but other stuff got (and gets) priority:
A social networking site that puts people in touch with "their own people" for business purposes. For example, if you want a plumber or cake maker then why patronize those businesses that do not support your politics/religion/sexuality/race*? Only give your business to your own people. Use enhanced freedom of choice to Balkanize society down to the individual level.

*where legal, of course :-)

105:

Catalina: I know Forest Reinhardt. He was a colleague. He is actually a friend. And since I have not got the foggiest clue what you're going on about, I can guarantee you that he doesn't either.

106:

Whoops, "Cat in a Diamond," not "Catalina Diamond." Apologies!

107:

I suspect your view that the best and brightest used to work on great projects and we don't now may on closer inspection be an overly rose-tint on your optician's prescription.

Agreed.

Ponzi?

(Much of this may be USA only but...)

Door to door fake magazine sales by (maybe fake) college students. Well organized that passed through areas in a day or two before moving on.

Get rich or miracle cures sold in the back of magazines. (I think Analog had a lot of these.)

Boiler room cold calling for everything from stocks to swamp land in Florida. With well developed scripts. My mom got one from someone who implied they were with Shell Oil selling off land that was deemed not worth them using. She dug into it and it was a scam. But back prior to the 80s you could call someone at home mid morning or mid afternoon and likely get the "woman of the house" and the kids be at school so she had time to talk to you. Plus no answering machines or VM to screen calls. And we were taught to be "polite" to everyone so just handing up wasn't done as much as now.

Check out the movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" for how these very smart con men worked. More recently "Boiler Room".

I have a relative who's very smart but he'd rather make $1000 via getting over on someone that $1100 in a straight business deal.

There was a business back in the 80s (I think) that was selling "receipts". Collections of various receipts for restaurants, hotels, etc... for fake expenses to allow you to pad your expense account or tax deductions.

I suspect the big different between now and then is that it's harder for the bad guys to hide given media and the internet these days. Plus it's more OK in western society to be a jerk.

I've read that Vegas got it's big boost in the 40s and 50s due to people who profited illegally (in cash) on the war didn't really have any other way to spend their money without attracting the IRS.

108:

I was thinking of Google's cars today and realised how useful they'd be for e.g. market research - does the market share of people going to a particular restaurant chain rise or fall in response to their advertisements etc.?

And now you realize why Google is in this market.

109:

Not if the RFIDs are write-once and set with a transaction identifier at check-out.

An NOBODY is going to come up with tools to allow you to find the RFIDs in objects so you can remove them. Or even offer replacement RFIDs that point to someone else.

Naw. Never gonna happen.

110:

For example, if you want a plumber or cake maker then why patronize those businesses that do not support your politics/religion/sexuality/race*? Only give your business to your own people. Use enhanced freedom of choice to Balkanize society down to the individual level.

You mean Facebook? It already works for doing this.

111:

I'm 69 ( oooh-er missus!) & fit with it (apart from my temporary shoulder injury.
As for "cycling farcilities" - yes, well ... London Borough of What the Fuck ( *note ) has just done this to us.
What a monumental screw-up.
As a result, I shall be cycling LESS & walking more.
Looks like the shits are going to have another try - they have carefully isolated "the village" - didn't consult with anyone outside the "designated area" (not even my 10 metres, have now designated an L-shaped area "round" said village, asked people where is the most important local spot you're interested in (which, of course is the village & omitted from theor map & are going to try to carve up the roads even more & make it impossible for resiadents to get in & out.
WHY?
They aren't even making a profit at it.

*note: Intials are LBWF - look them up & the utter lying shit they put up about their "Mini-holland"

Grrrrr.

112:

Hay & pitch forks are SHARP.
Anyone trying that one would not live very long.
I think we'd go the traditional Japanese route for that.
Get a volunteer who has known terminal, uncureable cancer, which has not yet advanced ... to publicly & very meessily kill the major proponent, as a warning example.

113:

Done it again - pressed "send" too soon.
Actually, an first attempt was made a couple of years back, when some agorobusinees front-woman came on radio/TV to claim that all of us were "spreading plant diseases" ( especially Blight ) & should nt be allowed.
This was: A year which was wet & cold, so there was a lot of blight & just after the corrupt EU had nbanned "dithane" for private use - agrobusiness can still use it.
Now that is insane, because, when made up dithane is only active for about 48 hours - it then oxidises & breaks doen to form - a fertiliser.
The proposal was seen for what it was & rubbished, I'm gald to say.

114:

New Urbanism is a response to such shenanigans.

There is a good Andres Duany lecture on this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwd4Lq0Xvgc

This is not a futuristic hell, this is just the existing hell of suburbia invented in the '50s. Any grim meathook future will build on top of this and/or the response to it (the Truman Show was filmed in a New Urbanist development, shades of Glasshouse).

115:

"... best and brightest used to work on great projects ..."

Actually, there are solid facts to back it up, at least in the UK.
The UK led the world in innovation, dominatingly so in the case
of computing and agricultural research, and is now dependent on
foreign workers for most of its skilled jobs - including research.
Over half a century of deprecating technical skills, the
proportion of good people wanting to become technopeasants is
small. I can't remember the references, but it was pretty clear
in University results (especially firsts, PhDs etc.)

You might well ask why the Rabid Arseholes at the Top of Society
are so down on immigrants, but please don't ask me, as the only
explanation I can think of is that they are imbecilic, as I am
not quite paranoid enough to believe that they are planning to
crash the country in order to loot the remains. Not quite. Yet.

116:

No, I don't mean FB.
I mean, for example, that Muslims only patronize the businesses of other Muslims and they use this site to find them locally. Ditto Christians, ditto Conservatives, Labour supporters, EDL supporters etc. In other words, you keep the money in the community of believers. In time any business that does not want to be marginalized has to try and choose sides.

117:

I would have thought the answer was simple. Most people don't mind importing highly skilled secular immigrants who want to become British, blend in and intermarry.
What we don't want are bigoted illiterates self congregating in ghettos and then bombing buses and trains to convert us to their way of life. The latter are much higher profile and therefore represent "immigrants" in the minds of the majority of people.

118:

You are two years older than me, then. My unfavourite
'improvement' caused (inter alia) the number of people commuting
by cycle to drop by 40% (yes, I measured before and after, but
'they' didn't) and a lot of elderly people to give up both
walking and taking the bus because of the danger from cyclists
moved onto the inadequate path. I think that we are agreed that
such things are models to follow for any Evil Overlord worthy of
the name.

There is some (marginal) truth that allotments spread blight, but
the simple fact is that the miasma theory works as well as any.
It can overwinter in so many common wild and domestic plants that
it's something one cannot avoid being exposed to. But that
doesn't stop damn-fool laws, aimed at terrorising and harrassing
the public, when the cause is elsewhere. Examples are legion,
but only some (e.g. the asbestos panic) have the effect of
creating new boondoggles.

119:

You should get out more or, at least, change your news sources,
unless you were posting ironically. Your last two postings are what
is said by the dominant media, and not what the situation actually is.

120:

Catalina: I know Forest Reinhardt. He was a colleague. He is actually a friend. And since I have not got the foggiest clue what you're going on about, I can guarantee you that he doesn't either.

Reinhardt \re(i)-nhar-dt, rein-hardt\ as a boy's name is of Old German and Old French origin, and the meaning of Reinhardt is "brave counsel; strong decision; fox". Reinhardt is a variant of Rainart (Old German).

http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Reinhardt

It was a punny joke, (Fox - Wolf - Starving: discussing / modelling drought in California in 2012, now we're seeing how the real world applications, do keep up) but also based on reality. He teaches the most (or one of the) prestigious MBAs in the world.

He's also dog-whistling like a bandit when he talks about Government regulations over markets, especially fishing, and we both know it: you don't get to be there if you're not 100% focused on Capital interests.

*shrug*

This generation (or the next, can't be too sure) gets to see the seas die. Hope it was worth it.

(And, come on: if he was a colleague surely your mind can do that kind of inference easily?)

121:

"Your last two postings are what is said by the dominant media"

Exactly. That is why the perception exists and is so widespread. Just putting your fingers in your ears and saying it's all wrong won't make it go away. I suggest a mass censorship campaign aimed at imposing total political correctness across all news media.
Er... maybe that was last thread...

122:

I am even more confused by you than by CatrinaDiamond, because I
don't know if you are satirising yourself.

Political correctness has nothing to do with it, but this is not
the thread to describe how the veracity of the media could be
improved - as that is precisely the opposite of what Evil wants!

123:

Here's a great one: we insist the elderly and the disabled invest in a pension for their carers, and then sell them an extortionate pension scheme! Ha, ha, ha! How great would that be? LOL!!!

Oh, sod, the government's already thought of it. Back to evil school for me. :(

Okay, the costs aren't that extortionate. But still.

124:

What exactly are you arguing against? The 2 HBR pieces by Reinhart are quite reasonable and they work as long as the carbon pricing is done correctly. And the problem with the Icelandic fishing industry is...? What would your policy options be?

125:

The veracity of the media is not really the question is it? The question is choosing what to report. The Graun will write a story of a hard done by asylum seeker who is a credit to Britain, and the Daily Mail will write a story about some layabout rapist asylum seeker subsisting on benefits.
Both are, for the most part, true stories.

126:

Comment #21.

If you believe that property rights lead to wild environmental resources being managed in a sustainable way, it seems quite reasonable. It's the same reasoning that Nestle use to suggest that all water rights should be privatized or used by the World Bank and French companies when privatizing water supplies in South America.

However, there's natural tendency to monopoly in the system, especially in the manner in the way the initial rights are issued.

As to Iceland, since I admire the country, I'll let a native perspective take the field rather than my own surface reading:

Bjarmi Sigurðsson comment on Forbes article 2012.

127:

Actually, it is, because presenting those as typical is mendacity,
and there are plenty of simple factual falsehoods, anyway - but,
as I said, this is not the thread to go into that.

128:

Too long to read all the posts ....

For every person that loses a job due to corporate downsizing ... compulsory education tuition-refundable in soon-to-be-obsolete jobs that upon successful completion/graduation also require high annual dues/fees, constant re-training and high insurance premiums. Of course the interest rates and timing of the refundable tuition are appropriately out of step thus ensuring that 99.99% of all individuals never pay off their student fees.

When I read Charlie's first few paragraphs, I immediately thought of the U.S. private medical insurance business model. In no other industry, no other developed country, is an organization allowed to charge inflated prices, use blatantly discriminatory tiered pricing, and then never even have to deliver on the services that the customer has already paid for. And, then to top it all off, it's also possible for the corporation to sue and potentially seize other assets to cover 'court costs'. (There are probably about 30 or so laws that also get broken, swept under the rug with this .... truly amazing ... but that's the price for keeping socialism/communism from polluting the American way. BTW, one of the worst offenders started out as an M.D. who decided that there was more money to be made by not practicing medicine.)

129:

Bjarmi Sigurðsson is completely missing the point and trying to sling mud to boot. The issue is managing the commons. Regulations like quotas are prone to cheating, as we see with pirate fishing fleets. The better solution is privatizing the asset so that the owner is incentivized to maximize the value. The laws that are structured around the ownership of a common resource are a different issue, but clearly can be made so that, for example, ownership remains local. Suggesting that somehow the privatization is some "bad thing" so that the default should be a return to the commons, makes no sense. Who is Bjarmi Sigurðsson anyway - a local fisherman bitter that he doesn't have a right to fish?

130:

There has been an on-topic sub-theme here about moving away from cash, with some people essentially saying that it couldn't happen.

As a piece of data for your consideration, I give you... Denmark!

Some retailers are to be given the right to refuse to accept cash payments. I heard about it on the radio very recently, and a Google search for sources reveals several; for example, http://fortune.com/2015/05/22/denmark-paper-money

131:

No, I don't mean FB.
I mean, for example, that Muslims only patronize the businesses of other Muslims and they use this site to find them locally. Ditto Christians, ditto Conservatives, Labour supporters, EDL supporters etc. In other words, you keep the money in the community of believers.

My point was that people ARE using FB to do just this.

Which is why commercial businesses on FB can be problematic for the owners of these businesses. They typically don't want to become known as the toothpaste for Pug Dog owners to the exclusion of others.

132:

Charlie @100

I don't understand how that would work. Are you going to test the trash in the public trash cans using RDIF tags to see where it came from? And prosecute everyone who puts the wrong trash in the wrong bin?

Most of your victims will be out-of-towners, which will have your town's tourist department screaming blue murder.

Other things I can see happening will be a massive amount of dumping your trash in your neighbor's bin.

Most of the people who screw up will be poor or on public assistance, so attempts to litigate money from them will be fruitless--and worse still it will be money losing.

133:

If your goal is exploitation, burning things down is easy:

Graduating Class of 2015 Most Debt Burdened in History

134:

> Some retailers are to be given the right to refuse to accept cash payments.

In the USA, that right has always existed, not that it's used all that much:

http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm

Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," states: "United States coins and currency [including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

135:

The issue is managing the commons. Regulations like quotas are prone to cheating, as we see with pirate fishing fleets. The better solution is privatizing the asset so that the owner is incentivized to maximize the value. The laws that are structured around the ownership of a common resource are a different issue, but clearly can be made so that, for example, ownership remains local. Suggesting that somehow the privatization is some "bad thing" so that the default should be a return to the commons, makes no sense.

The way to maximize value is extraction at the fastest rate possible then move on, especially in a system with low-to-medium barriers to cheating or high competition, or with a chit system that can be traded or licensed / rented, as you so aptly pointed out with choosing fishing as the hill to die on. Of course, this isn't limited to private property (famously, CCCP whaling quotas), but your 'solution' isn't one.

And, no, you didn't enlighten me with this post, you regurgitated like a heron.


It's like you don't even see it, and you were at Harvard? Impressive.


Let me guess: you probably still eat blue-fin tuna sushi, right?

136:

Oh, and before you say it:

I chose Iceland as an example because even after the complaints noted in those comments that you violently (and very predictably) railed against, (and, frankly, if you challenge the wrong people in Iceland, nasty things can happen by accident, it's not all love and elves) the fishing barons of Iceland are still constrained by sociological constraints. Notably, their culture and having to live on an island where there's a good chance your grandmother will find out and come over and clip you around the ear.

China? USA? Russia?

Not so much.

You can pretend to be confused and to be decent people and all that, but that's because your theory is limited by your own consciousness and you practice willing blindness.

Again, real world:

Not. So. Much.

As stated: you get to watch the greatest show on Earth, the Oceans dying. Quite the feat for creatures who can't even access their own minds yet.

137:

The way to maximize value is extraction at the fastest rate possible then move on, especially in a system with low-to-medium barriers to cheating or high competition, or with a chit system that can be traded or licensed / rented

Very good and important point!

Investing in ways to make it a sustainable resource might maximize value in the long run. But that assumes that there will be value in the long run. The government or somebody might wait until you have it set up nicely and then take it away from you. A changing economy or a changing climate might destroy long-term value. When you can't depend on the future, then stripping out what you can get fast and moving on is the obvious best way.

http://www.great-lakes.net/teach/pollution/water/water5.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/06/lake-erie-dead-zones_n_6424598.html

138:

The way to maximize value is extraction at the fastest rate possible then move on

And you have maximized value by making the asset worthless, how exactly...? A simple example. Your fishery costs you $X to buy, and will support $X/10 of fish catches in perpetuity. At any time you can resell the fishery for $X. As long as the cost of capital is less than 10%, this activity will be profitable. Suppose instead you extract all the fish you can and collapse it, let's say $X/3 worth. The fishery has no resale value. So your argument only works if the fishery can be exploited for more than the purchase price in the short term. But if that were possible, the price would be bid up to the maximal valuation rate that will approach the sustainable fishing rate which is higher. Clearly the state has an interest in selling the fishing rights as high as possible and will determine what the sustainable fishing rate is. That is what fisheries biologists are do as part of their job. If you want to argue that this can be fixed so that this doesn't happen, then you are back to a "tragedy of the commons" overfishing problem.

I repeat, what policy do you propose to prevent this?


139:

As stated: you get to watch the greatest show on Earth, the Oceans dying.

You appear know nothing about the history of fisheries. What exactly do you think you know about why the oceans are dying? Easier to throw out snarky ad hominem attacks instead.

140:

I think I actually know quite a lot about fisheries and quota systems. I think I even did a Masters degree on it at one point. I think I know why the Oceans are dying as well. I think I also keep up to date with various White papers, U.N. documents and even spend the time to pore over the crumbs you get out of China on the topic.

Here's a tip.

If you're going to play hardball, start throwing some links (serious links) and structure an argument. Shouting "ad hominem" is meaningless and reminds me of childish toy forums like [redacted].

You're really not acting like a Forest Friend here, or a Harvard Man, Mr. Tulley. You probably won't like my policy suggestions either, which are fairly draconian, but, you know, I value the entire species a little bit more than that drinks party you went to three weeks ago.


But, before we start, do you still eat blue-fin tuna sushi?


Do I know you from somewhere?

141:

On policy, try this:

Between 1808 and 1860 the West Africa Squadron captured 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa_Squadron


Quite the thing to have historical examples where naval superiority actually made a difference, isn't it?

142:

You're really not acting like a Forest Friend here, or a Harvard Man, Mr. Tulley.

How hard is it to even check who you are replying to? Show me where I have identified as a Harvard Man?

Using serious links, like a Forbes column and a commenter? Sooooo academic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Africa_Squadron
So relevant to sustainable fisheries. Look over there, a squirrel.

143:

do you still eat blue-fin tuna sushi?

Given that most Bluefin tuna is eaten in Japan, and I don't live in Japan, any tuna that is available is most likely Yellowfin. That reality cause a cognitive dissonance with your prejudices?

144:

How hard is it to even check who you are replying to? Show me where I have identified as a Harvard Man?

Actually, that's hilarious. You're 100% correct.

I misread a link and thought I was actually replying to the user named Noel Maurer due to having a few windows open and juggling some other things.

Alex, I apologize. I set high standards and so on to your responses when I should have just filed you in the muppet class immediately.

And your response was fighty-fighty nonsense anyhow?

Now, that's funny.

Your comment #138 is so hilariously silly I'm not sure how to answer it.

You do know that fish migrate and swim between (often huge distances) national zones, right? They're like birds? Right? Only across the entire planet.

You do know that shoaling, mating and ecology for fish is temperature dependent and a lot of Iceland's (for example) fishing issues are due to shifting Ocean temperatures, right?

You do know the difference between where a ship / trawler is registered in a country and who actually owns it, right? And which Laws that's designed to circumvent, right?

Sorry. I made a mistake. I thought I was actually talking to someone with knowledge. But yep, good call out - talking to a fucking dog by accident, the shame.

145:

Given that most Bluefin tuna is eaten in Japan, and I don't live in Japan, any tuna that is available is most likely Yellowfin.


Oh boy, sorry, this is gold.


Here's a tip:

Question: where's the highest frequency of tuna imports into the USA?

Answer: three airports (go do the research) no-where near the sea.

You've no idea about any of this, and you still eat sushi tuna rolls.

You. Are. The. Problem.

146:

You appear know nothing about the history of fisheries.

Alex, a serious request, for my own dignity.

Craft a post that shows some extreme knowledge / links / research about fishery policy (USA, EU, whatever) with in-depth links to examples and craft a bad-ass response to how privatization of said common resource has helped. (It's not hard, I just found 4, but they're of course a little flawed).

Then, add a kick-ass addendum about Ocean health, stocks and so forth that's not completely depressing (this one... this one is hard) and coral health.

And then, add a triumphant tribute to how Capitalism and not rules did this.

I'm waiting.

You've no idea how fucked you are.


If you do this, I'll supply about ~30 or so links on the reality of the situation, and just how deluded your species is, and we can battle it out.

You know, to be fair and balanced.

147:

Using serious links, like a Forbes column and a commenter? Sooooo academic.

I would like to propose a scientific experiment.

Choose 20 to 60 blogs where you see something that looks like reasonably competent argument about current topics.

Choose a topic that you expect people will be discussing for a week or so.

Write up a quick study on it with some simple conclusion. Do some research, find some prestigious-looking links -- take 5-15 minutes to find them and use them to support your points.

Then do it again carefully, actually reading the links and using them where they actually work. Let your conclusions flow from the studies and not the other way around.

Randomly send one post to half the blogs and the other post to the other half.

Look at the responses. Notice the difference between the responses to the well-done comment versus the sloppy one.

Once you have done this, I predict that you will never again post a careful comment with carefully-selected links to a blog, unless some particular commenter inspires you to make a special effort.

People may call you out on the shallow quick fake links. They are just about as likely to do it for the careful ones. Most of the people who argue are not in fact interested in evidence, except to use things that look like evidence as a club to hit people over the head with.

CatinaDiamond often provides links that give a hint about his/her emotional feelings, or that give a hint you can follow up that might lead somewhere interesting if you want to do all the thinking yourself. Sometimes s/he gives links that look impressive but in fact there's far less there than meets the eye. I cast no blame. Usually careful work toward a blog post gets no reward except for whatever use you personally get from your work.

This is a place to have fun. If people give you interesting ideas that you can research, then great! If they give you links that are actually useful, even better! If you do that for them and they don't notice, don't worry about it. Just don't put so much effort into it next time.

If you want to get into a debate that afterward you can think you won, you are probably in the wrong place. Better to find some arena where there are actual judges who will tell you whether you won. Otherwise you could be like the famous swordsman whose technique was so subtle that people could go for minutes or even years never noticing they had been cut dead.

148:

Investing in ways to make it a sustainable resource might maximize value in the long run. But that assumes that there will be value in the long run. The government or somebody might wait until you have it set up nicely and then take it away from you. A changing economy or a changing climate might destroy long-term value. When you can't depend on the future, then stripping out what you can get fast and moving on is the obvious best way.

Superficially that makes sense. However, think of the fishery as a risk security. Annual catches being the equivalent of a dividend yield, and the fish population as being the dividend creating asset. Can you find an equity where the dividend yield is greater than 1? What about net assets? The answer is no, because everyone knows that this is an arbitrage situation and so the lower price bound must be at least equal to the net asset value and therefore greater than the dividend yield. The same argument applies to correctly priced fishery. As with securities, the higher the uncertainty, the higher required return.

To make the asset strip approach work, the fishery buyer must have some knowledge or technique that will increase the value of the catch sufficiently to be worth destroying the fishery.

More likely they will try to cheat by catching more than their quota and hiding the real catch by various means.

Where naval policing is weak, we see pirate fishing vessels operating illegally. This has just led to methods that can use satellite data to distinguish ships that operate like fishing vessels and can alert coastal navies to intercept them when they try to sell their catch at port. Confiscating ships makes such operations expensive and potentially unprofitable.

149:

CatinaDiamond often provides links that give a hint about his/her emotional feelings, or that give a hint you can follow up that might lead somewhere interesting if you want to do all the thinking yourself. Sometimes s/he gives links that look impressive but in fact there's far less there than meets the eye. I cast no blame. Usually careful work toward a blog post gets no reward except for whatever use you personally get from your work.


Ahh, this is hilarious, and thanks for the smoke screen. I think we're way past this though. I never give clues to my real emotional layout.

If a link looks strange, there's a meta-reason for it.

Just admit it: You've no idea why I link certain things. That's ok, you're human.

What I do if I'm feeling naughty is post a link or connection, and then in a few days (if I'm just fucking around) it'll be on the front page of news sources or whatever (Opsins - Guardian piece on Octopuses etc, go check it, there's a lot of examples). This is considered "Not cool" where we come from.

If I'm not fucking around, I'll post something serious about how to stop about 4 billion people dying.

Because, really. The things in charge at the moment are damaged and wrong and need to be put into a black hole.


You think I dislike Islam? Ohhhh boy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUJkwWkyX70


I see most of you as damaged, and the damage was inflicted by things that are not your species. I've been sucking it up for a while, but hey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3go3LKbavhE

;.;

150:

However, think of the fishery as a risk security. Annual catches being the equivalent of a dividend yield, and the fish population as being the dividend creating asset. Can you find an equity where the dividend yield is greater than 1? What about net assets? The answer is no, because everyone knows that this is an arbitrage situation and so the lower price bound must be at least equal to the net asset value and therefore greater than the dividend yield. The same argument applies to correctly priced fishery. As with securities, the higher the uncertainty, the higher required return.

Superficially your logic is perfectly logical.

I think if fisheries worked like that in the real world we would be better off.

151:

People may call you out on the shallow quick fake links. They are just about as likely to do it for the careful ones. Most of the people who argue are not in fact interested in evidence, except to use things that look like evidence as a club to hit people over the head with.

It depends on the blog. I tend to read and comment on blogs where discourse is more serious, but I take your point. There is even a hypothesis that our intelligence has been shaped to convince others, which fits your model of expected behavior.

As blogs go, this is quite a good one. I have read and commented on this blog long enough to have a good sense of how the regular commenters behave, especially those I have read for years. Engaging CatinaDiamond was always a risk. I now know better not to bother again.

152:

Engaging CatinaDiamond was always a risk. I now know better not to bother again.

You provided zero proof for your claims.

On the other hand, I have 30+ links ready to go.


It's amazing how the human mind works.

To make the asset strip approach work, the fishery buyer must have some knowledge or technique that will increase the value of the catch sufficiently to be worth destroying the fishery.

This man has literally no idea how fishing works, how big the ocean is, or how international Law of the Ocean works. He also has no idea how big trawling vessels are these days.

It's called GPS + Trawling (net is 1+ mile long) + large ocean.

It's called drag netting the ocean floors. (Google 'Destruction of Cold water corals')

It's called having a ship with 100+ tonnes of processing and hull capability with a 6-13% discard rate.

And this is what we saved?

Alex Tolley - you're an idiot. You know nothing about the subjects you opine upon, and you've damned your nation because of it.


You have no Soul, just mindless memes.

Slave

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bdOTUocn5w

153:

I think if fisheries worked like that in the real world we would be better off.

Unfortunately most fisheries do not use this model. One reason we are losing whales is that Japan neither has ownership of a whale fishery, cannot be excluded from any open ocean whaling, insists on setting its "quota" with the IWC by proclaiming catches are scientific research, and just plow ahead and over catch despite the evidence. In Japan's case, since both the IWC and international shaming appear insufficient, it may require some other mechanism to apply pressure. Even where we do have market mechanisms, markets do fail, so no market model can ever work perfectly robustly under all conditions. It is just a reasonably good place to start when the situation supports it. In the case of whales, given their intelligence, there may be a good case to treat whaling as being as abhorrent as slavery and therefore banned outright on moral grounds. I don't expect Japan to agree with that, but I never would have expected Eire to publicly vote for same sex marriage either. That was almost a Black Swan event (at least for me).

154:

@Host.

It's called many things, but it's usual.

Two posters (Alex Trolley / J Thomas) do a Dutch Sandwich where they seek to slide a forum, bait/switch and then talk over.

That was almost a Black Swan event (at least for me).

The worst thing about this? They're not even the feisty ones who can argue - stunted offshoots.


Alex - you didn't step up to the challenge, you sought succor with your friend. Rule #8, you failed - never show your face again in our shared pool, child.


#CowardAlexTolley it is now known.

155:

If a link looks strange, there's a meta-reason for it.

Just admit it: You've no idea why I link certain things. That's ok, you're human.

I have no idea why you link certain things.

It shows that often you fail to get your ideas across. I often fail at that too. I tend to forget that people already have their own ideas about things and they don't have room in their heads for something they haven't already thought of. Or something that they considered briefly when there wasn't much background info available, and discarded once. Or very often what I'm saying isn't what they expect to hear, so they hear what they expect to instead.

I'll tell you a secret. When I read your comments I like to think you are some wise smart being who actually knows how to save 4 billion people, and posting things here that nobody understands is part of it. I get a lot more out of reading them when I do that. There's no particular reason to think what I get out of it is anything like what you put in, but still I feel like I benefit.

And it bothers me when what you say makes perfect sense as something trite and mundane, and doesn't make sense otherwise. That's jarring.

It's like

156:

I have no idea why you link certain things.

...

CatinaDiamond often provides links that give a hint about his/her emotional feelings, or that give a hint you can follow up that might lead somewhere interesting if you want to do all the thinking yourself. Sometimes s/he gives links that look impressive but in fact there's far less there than meets the eye. I cast no blame. Usually careful work toward a blog post gets no reward except for whatever use you personally get from your work.


Ah, I see. You were confused. I wasn't.

Don't play with us if you can't process the basic level things. And don't play silly games.

AD 144.

157:

"I have no idea why you link certain things."

...

"CatinaDiamond often provides links that give a hint about his/her emotional feelings,"

Ah, I see. You were confused. I wasn't.

As so often happens, I can't tell what you're implying. Do you figure there's a contradiction there, as if I said I had no idea why you ever link anything? But no, that would be illogical. You must mean something else.

Are you trying to communicate clearly? You aren't communicating clearly to me.

Maybe there's somebody else here who finds your comments clear? Maybe they will tell us so, and you will have that warm glow that somebody thinks they understand what you're saying, as opposed to nobody....

Is there somebody here who finds CatinaDiamond's comments clear and understandable?

158:

"Is there somebody here who finds CatinaDiamond's comments clear and understandable?"

LOLno.

"Her" (and I have no better reason for ascribing a gender than that "Catina" rhymes with "Katrina") basic presentation here is that of somebody who learned to read using the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Williams as a primer. "Hail Eris! All hail Discordia!"

"She" speaks in riddles, couched to suggest superior knowledge, and hints at hidden conspiracies and submerged power structures that would make Bob Howard blush. "She" knows a lot, and adopts a supercilious pose based on the assumption of superior knowledge, which might or might not be supportable in particular cases.

I find her entertaining, but I enjoyed the Illuminatus Trilogy, and I never bother following her blind YouTube links. Your mileage may vary.

159:

About the time of water privatisation (I cant remember whether it was before or after) a number of self sufficient houses in Leeds with rainwater collection and reed beds for sewage treatment were sent bills by the water company. They were aware of the self sufficient nature of the buildings but stated that they owned all the rain falling on Yorkshire so bills were still necessary.
I dont think they ever went through with this but as a principle it might be nasty enough for future improvement.
This also happened when the water and sewage supplies were reoganised by the Heath government. Altrincham Astronomical Society of which I was a member was sent a bill for water and sewage charges for the observatory when it did not have either water or sewage. Eventually we did not have to pay but it took a lot of argument.
In the evil world of the future perhaps there would also be a fine for the unhygenic lack of mains drainage.

160:

I'm understanding it about at the level of a google translate. I'm getting a sort of general gist of it. I think I share some of her ideas about the ocean's health (but I'm far from certain). Catch per unit effort has been falling significantly since about 1970 and fallen precipitously since 1990 (it's taking about 3% more boats every year to bring in the same number of fish). That's a pretty significant indicator that we're scraping the bottom of the barrel. I'm not familiar enough with any particular regional situation to comment about particular fisheries. I do know that the US Tuna fishers rely on sustainability research conducted on salmon to set their catch quotas. As I said to one of them "That's like setting your Giant Panda catch quotas by studying Lemmings" but they didn't seem to get what I was talking about. Maybe I'm as opaque as Catina.

That's of course even before we bring acidification into the mix. We'll just have to agree not to even mention Orange Roughys.

161:

shades of Glasshouse ??
We are there already.
The information wars have begun - according to one faction, anything at all pre-dating 662 CE is to be destroyed.
Nasty

162:

CORRECTION
622 CE

163:

If you'd been in Australia you'd have definitely had to continue to pay for sewerage and water availability. All land within the sewerage or reticulated water area has to pay, no exceptions.

It varies by state but here's the Tasmanian act.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/tas/consol_act/wasia2008296/s68a.html

164:

I strongly suspect that the Irish vote was a way for their populace to finally give the evil Black Crows a large finger ....
"we aren't going to listen to you any more - because you got us in to this mess"

165:

Are your medications slipping?
And W T F are you on about?

166:

"I never give clues to my real emotional layout."

Actually, I think that you do but, if I am right, all of the people
responding antagonistically are completely off-beam. No, I am not
going to speculate here - I shall just watch with amusement. I do
find your posts baffling, but it is clear that at least you have
looked below the surface of the topics you mention.

On the other hand, I have never been a great fan of the "it's
incomprehensible so it must be great" school of appreciation.

167:

Thank you for your application to join the Evil business of Evil.

But as someone who works in Investment Banking, I am surprised that you would consider making money from something so... physical.

Perhaps you could consider how regulations should apply to EFTPOS systems, online payments and sales tax. Or to conveyancing, or the collecting of IP royalties for online activity. Or to Foreign Exchange transactions.

Or perhaps you could simply join a self-regulating oligopoly instead.

168:

The better solution is privatizing the asset so that the owner is incentivized to maximize the value. The laws that are structured around the ownership of a common resource are a different issue, but clearly can be made so that, for example, ownership remains local. Suggesting that somehow the privatization is some "bad thing" so that the default should be a return to the commons, makes no sense.

Wrong for two reasons.

Firatly, if you privatize a village common, to use the original example, it only gets managed as a grazing meadow until someone discovers oil or uranium ore or some other finite extractable resource under it of value such that the short term revenue from extraction exceeds the income from renewables over the same period. Then the commons get totally, totally trashed.

(A big problem with ocean fishing right now is that, unlike a village meadow, it doesn't sit in one place and have the same yield from year to year: so industrial fisheries treat it as a resource extraction problem, not a commons to be managed.)

Secondly, commons are held in common. Who are the stakeholders? And how do you pay them off for their interest in the thing? The level of naked corruption involved in privatization of common resources should be glaringly obvious, and just saying "but in libertopia that wouldn't happen!!!!!" is not a solution to the fundamental problem that it tends to result in people being ripped off.

End result: if you wonder what the pirates off the coast of Somalia are about, they're a by-product of trying to treat the oceans as a commons and apply the free-market capitalist solution to ownership.

169:

I don't understand how that would work. Are you going to test the trash in the public trash cans using RDIF tags to see where it came from? And prosecute everyone who puts the wrong trash in the wrong bin?

That's easy:

1. Remove public trash cans (terrorists might put bombs in them[*])

2. Steep fines for people who litter. Farm detection and collection out to private companies.

2a. In cities, this means foot patrols and rentacops with power of arrest for littering.

2b. In outlying areas, to prevent fly-tipping, known fly-tip sites will be staked out with CCTV and ANPR and the culprits prosecuted for felony-grade littering in criminal court -- instant boost to the police crime clean-up rate!

[*] This is why you don't find trash cans in British railway and subway stations.

170:

"I never give clues to my real emotional layout."

Actually, I think that you do but, if I am right, all of the people
responding antagonistically are completely off-beam. No, I am not
going to speculate here - I shall just watch with amusement.

How very very true! I think that it's fairly easy to decipher CatinaDiamond once you stop trying to decipher the indivudal posts -- much herring-ness of the rouge variety in there. Go back to early posts. Pay attention to the style and not the content (also, watch the shifts in tone -- very illuminating!) There are several possibilities, but I am quite confident that anyone over a certain age (or with certain experience) is going to be able to spot what's going on.

I'd like to be clearer, but in doing so would upset the whole apple cart of CatinaDiamond's work here. And it looks like s/he is having far too much fun!

171:

Then, add a kick-ass addendum about Ocean health, stocks and so forth that's not completely depressing (this one... this one is hard) and coral health.

Okay, leaving aside the coral for now (that one is hard), on the large scale, consider jellyfish blooms as the oceanic ecosystem adapting to repel an aggressive environmental threat (us). Once it's inedible nematocyst-bearing invertebrates all the way down the oceans will be safe from us for, oh, a couple of million years at least?

Then something will adapt to predate on the jellyfish and the food webs will gradually begin to rebuild complexity, but we'll be long gone before then.

172:

However, think of the fishery as a risk security. Annual catches being the equivalent of a dividend yield, and the fish population as being the dividend creating asset.

Your argument doesn't hold water. Here's the thing: your investor is constrained by their prior history -- all their assets are illiquid, held in the form of fucking fishing boats -- so that they can't simply switch and invest in some other field. They have no way to avoid the risk: it's fish or die, because these are not Wall Street finance guys dealing in fungible financial instruments, they're fishermen.

The normal logic of capitalism breaks when we apply constraints that take past decisions into account. Money is amnesic about your past history: fishing boats are not.

173:

I see most of you as damaged, and the damage was inflicted by things that are not your species.

Broadly correct, although I'd have to say they the damage-inflicting things are social products of our species.

Poisoned by our own memetic shit, in other words.

174:

I think that it's fairly easy to decipher CatinaDiamond once you stop trying to decipher the indivudal posts -- much herring-ness of the rouge variety in there.

Well, sure, but I mean the individual posts and information therein. Sometimes there are cryptic slides past interesting ideas, sometimes links to interesting research without much analysis of it, sometimes links to things that take a lot of metaphor to get any relation to anything that comes before, sometimes stuff that seems random apart from the feelings.

When I interpret it as an attempt at communication, by usual standards it seems to fail. It holds the meta-communication "I am better than all of you, you don't understand and you don't deserve to understand" which would get some people angry.

I wanted to consider the possibility that there was actual encrypted communication going on and I just lacked the key. It's like when my sister joined her first brainweave. She had such high expectations....

175:

When I interpret it as an attempt at communication, by usual standards it seems to fail.

Actually, I think I understand it just fine.

(Problem is receiver, not transmitter, in other words.)

176:

They have no way to avoid the risk: it's fish or die, because these are not Wall Street finance guys dealing in fungible financial instruments, they're fishermen.

The solution is simple and obvious. First we get the governments of the world to agree that one corporation owns all the fish in the ocean. As CatinaDiamond pointed out in #141, when there's one navy that rules the world's oceans, that isn't as difficult as it sounds.

We give that corporation all the fishing boats in the world, except for pirate boats. The pirate boats can be confiscated when they reach port.

It then calculates how many fish it can sustainably harvest, and gets rid of any surplus fishing boats. Sell them for scrap, or for whatever other uses present themselves. They have no value as fishing boats. But it can get a small continuing revenue by confiscating boats that can be argued to be secret fishing boats, and selling them.

Then it manages its fisheries responsibly. It doesn't fish out any one prey species unless it determines that particular species is not worth sustaining. If its numbers have fallen to the point that they aren't worth managing, then fish them out and get the last benefit from them -- why not?

It will try to maintain reefs etc, unless the cost is too high or the sustainable value is too low. In that case it should and will harvest them for whatever people will pay for.

When it keeps the supply of fish low, prices will rise to whatever people can afford to pay. The corporation will manage its resources rationally -- corporations always manage everything rationally, because they are run by people who are carefully trained to be rational and never make crazy mistakes.

If at some point the corporation's scientists decide that climate change or pollution or whatever will make sustainable fishing unprofitable, then they will strip out whatever assets they can. Fish away the remaining stocks, sell the ships for scrap or alternate uses, and punt. Invest their profits in something else.

Similarly, if the time comes that they feel they can't depend on the US Navy to protect their monopoly, then they will also cut and run. Grab as much short-run profit as they can and take their winnings elsewhere -- Monaco or whatever.

Alex Tolley has a point. The way it's going now is a slow disaster, gradually speeding up. But if we could privatize the oceans, we could maximize the benefit received from them. It won't create a sustainable fishing industry if the business plan is fundamentally unsustainable, but it will inevitably strip out the assets in a way that maximizes profit.

Economics proves it. Government always fails because politics. But when private businesses own things, they can precisely calculate all the risks and so they always know the right thing to do, and nobody can tell them not to do it. The way to maximize profit from the world's fisheries is to give them to a corporation, a privateer.

Similarly with migratory waterfowl. All the ducks and geese should belong to a corporation, which can tag enough of them to keep track. Drones can fly with them, and when poachers shoot at them, the drones can triangulate the location and shoot back. They don't have to protect every one to cut down on the poaching to a reasonable level, low enough that it isn't profitable to reduce it further.

What about when migratory birds eat farmers' crops? The owners can work it out in court. But the better approach is to have the corporation that owns the birds be the same corporation that owns the farmland. Then it can work out whether the value of the birds is worth the damage to the crops. If not, it can harvest all the birds one last time and we're done.

177:

Actually, I think I understand it just fine.

(Problem is receiver, not transmitter, in other words.)

Thank you, I suspected that might be the case. It took awhile for anyone to admit it.

178:

The better solution is privatizing the asset so that the owner is incentivized to maximize the value. The laws that are structured around the ownership of a common resource are a different issue, but clearly can be made so that, for example, ownership remains local. Suggesting that somehow the privatization is some "bad thing" so that the default should be a return to the commons, makes no sense.

Wrong for two reasons.

Firatly, if you privatize a village common, to use the original example, it only gets managed as a grazing meadow until someone discovers oil or uranium ore or some other finite extractable resource under it of value such that the short term revenue from extraction exceeds the income from renewables over the same period. Then the commons get totally, totally trashed.

In your example, you have changed the conditions from grazing to mineral extraction and it looks like you want to suggest that there CAN BE no laws preventing cheapest, non-remedial mineral extraction. Mineral extraction is not a renewable resource, so extraction naturally results in a different economic approach. But that doesn't mean that that externalities cannot be made very expensive, i.e. higher than the value of the grazing rights.

Whether the grazing land is destroyed by over grazing, or by unremediated mineral extraction, a requirement to restore the grazing resource can be made a requirement. That it is a requirement in US states like Montana, but not emnforced by a posted bond is a problem of mechanism, not a market mechanism.

(A big problem with ocean fishing right now is that, unlike a village meadow, it doesn't sit in one place and have the same yield from year to year: so industrial fisheries treat it as a resource extraction problem, not a commons to be managed.)

To lighten this up a bit, for an alternative take, think of the movie "Local Hero".and consider who exactly are the exploiters and the exploited.

It does make it harder. However fisheries are not totally unconstrained. Grand Banks cod don't migrate to the pacific. There is also a benefit as well, because extraction can be limited geographically. If your resource's breeding grounds are off limits, there is a natural protection for unlimited extraction. Net mesh sizes and fishing methods can, and are, regulated, to prevent maximal resource extraction. Again, to be clear, this is a perfect solution, just a better one than no ownership regulation at all and te incentives are to manage are put in place, whereas an unregulated comm9ons is a free for all.

Secondly, commons are held in common. Who are the stakeholders? And how do you pay them off for their interest in the thing? The level of naked corruption involved in privatization of common resources should be glaringly obvious, and just saying "but in libertopia that wouldn't happen!!!!!" is not a solution to the fundamental problem that it tends to result in people being ripped off.

You are making a binary argument of aboslute good/bad. I said it is a BETTER solution than treating the resource as a commons. Saying that "but in libertopia that wouldn't happen!!!!!" is not what I said and therefore a strawman argument.

This issue of stakeholders extends far beyond this issue. It is the narrow "maximizing of shareholder wealth" that angl nations have adopted as the interpretation of capitalism due to financialization as a single objective that is partly responsible. Note that environmental disasters are just as, if even more so, common in supposedly non-capitalst states. There have been a number of suggestions for a "capitalism 2.0" that suggest alternatives to our current system that include common trusts. However it should be obvious that anything we do will have negative externalities. The issue is minimizing them, not trying to eliminate them by making any sort of exploitation impossible. For example, to preserve "natural" woodland, in say the "New Forest", you shouldn't allow fracking. If fracking is allowed, that is a political decision based on revolking the common trust of a national forest in favor of market interests. It could be made a market mechanism by determing what it would cost to restore that forest to a pre-fracked state and requiring the extractors to deposit funds to meet that before they start operations. In practice that price would be so high as to make resource extraction a potentially very low return on capital.

The level of naked corruption involved in privatization of common resources should be glaringly obvious I don't disagree that corruption is a problem. It would be less of a problem if money and politics were no so intertwined. Given that this is teh system we are currently living with, we need mechanisms to reduce this. We know those mechanisms have failed in the US regards banking because of fear of the consequences of enforcement of existing laws. Banks clearly don't own the right to exploit citizens, so I would argue that we get these pathologies irrespective of the issue of commons resources.

179:

Here's the thing: your investor is constrained by their prior history -- all their assets are illiquid, held in the form of fucking fishing boats -- so that they can't simply switch and invest in some other field. They have no way to avoid the risk: it's fish or die, because these are not Wall Street finance guys dealing in fungible financial instruments, they're fishermen.

The normal logic of capitalism breaks when we apply constraints that take past decisions into account. Money is amnesic about your past history: fishing boats are not.

That isn't true. Technology, changing regulations, changing tastes will all have the same effect. It is called a "barrier to exit". when a company finds that it is cheaper to continue with its current business than abandon it. we are facing exactly this problem with oil companies fighting to avoid having their fossil carbon reserves stranded.

What I think (I don't want to put words in your mouth) you are thinking about is a csse where X fisherman have exploited a fishing ground as a commons for a long time. Then the regulatory agency states that over-fishing has gone on and that only a fraction of te fishing effort can continue. The requirement is to impose catch limits. So either all the fishermen must accept reduced catches through quotas, or some fishermen must give up fishing so that others can maintain the most economic effort. If the fishery remains a commons, then the incentive is to cheat to maintain economic fish catches. If the resource is privatized, then the issue is how to compensate those fishermen who must stop fishing. As we have seen with oil spills, e,g, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, compensation for economic loss is a basis for compensation. In other examples, pollution trading rights, early adopters of new technology can sell their rights for a higher price, while late adopters are unable to. Fishermen can sell their boats (if there is a use for them in another fishing ground), re-purpose them for different activities, or scrap them. It goes back to the question of stakeholders and who is considered to own the resource. It can be much wider than fishermen. For example, Hawaiian tourist fishing is a shadow of its former self due to overfishing. Accompanying that is a clear loss of ocean water quality and reef destruction, reducing its value as a tourist destination (as is over-builduing time shares on Maui). If fishing is banned outright, who should be compensated, and who should pay? I might argue that banning fishing will result in a somewhat restored local ecosystem, that improves the tourist value of a visit, so local businesses that will benefit should pay compensation to the economic loss of the fishing boat owners. Or we can keep it simple and just have any business take the risk of regulatory uncertainty. The choices are ours to make, but we can be informed by models to aid us.

Small fishing boats can easily be re-purposed, as they have been in previous fishing towns that have become tourist destinations, e.g. Monterey, California. It is the ocean trawlers and factory ships than are less so. But consider what would happen if we stopped oil extraction, wouldn't rigs and oil tankers become almost worthless assets worth little more than scrap?

180:
I don't understand how that would work. Are you going to test the trash in the public trash cans using RDIF tags to see where it came from? And prosecute everyone who puts the wrong trash in the wrong bin?

Folk already do this in our pre-RDIF trash world. Public trash bins are for public trash, and people do already occasionally get prosecuted by good-old-fashioned manual trawling through the bins for identifying information.

For example:

About fifteen years back in Brighton I had some blokes from the council come around trying to track down somebody who had been dumping office waste in public bins where some stuff with my address on had appeared.

181:

You win the prize for lunacy on stilts.

Hint: the US Navy never quite made it to 600 warships at full strength, worldwide. Meanwhile, you're giving them -- or this hillarious OceanCo -- responsibility for patrolling roughly 3.2 x 108 square kilometres of sea.

Bear in mind that warships don't spend all their time at sea; in fact they're doing well to be on the open water 30% of the time. Let's be generous and say they make 50% of their time work for them.

So you're asking for each available ship in the world's largest navy to patrol around a million square kilometres of fisheries, or roughly the same area as France and Italy combined.

(Rest of argument thrown out of window in disgust at its sheer stupidity.)

182:

I hope this hasn't alteady been mentioned as an evil plan:

Kansas Plans to Limit Welfare Recipients to $25 in Daily ATM Withdrawals

The Kansas legislature knows few bounds when it comes to punishing the poor and making life a misery for them. I'm just surprised they don't try busing them out of the state so that the unemployed stats look better and that the welfare rolls look small. Pure vindictiveness.

183:

In your example, you have changed the conditions from grazing to mineral extraction

Nope. You need to understand how factory fishing works and how fish stocks respond to predation. Hint: the collapse of the Northwest Atlantic Cod fishery is your Rosetta stone.

Fish stocks that are commercially viable are generally schooling fish -- they form flocks. And they don't do this at random: they do it because they reproduce by spawning (shedding eggs and sperm into the sea). If the density of viable sperm and ova in the water is too low -- if the schools don't contain enough adults of reproductive age -- then none of the eggs get fertilized, and the population crashes abruptly and doesn't recover.

Get that. If you stop exploiting the fish they don't come back -- not for decades or centuries.

It's as if you could add more and more sheep or goats to grazing your common meadow indefinitely ... until you suddenly hit a maximum carrying capacity, and then the meadow itself turns to sand.

And this is why the economics of fishing resembles that of resource extraction rather than agriculture. We're still in the hunter-gather age, rather than farming fish at sea.

(CatinaDiamond is right; some of the commenters here are suffering from Dunning-Kruger syndrome when the subject turns to marine biology.)

184:

Three words: Accounting Control Fraud. Executives get their compensation in short term incentives, ie, quarterly and yearly. They put people they control in the parts of the company that are supposed to stop stuff like this from going on, then over fish. This means they make big money, get huge bonuses, and then when there are no more fish, well, they made theirs. After all, in 30 years, they'd be long retired in any event, so why design for the future? It's a bit part of why finance is so popular.

Private equity does similar things, except you would need to load up on debt (which is paid to the private equity firm), and then get your nice profits, and sell the company to a sucker (say, go public).

185:

Given that it is a global company, the suggestion could be modified to use all navies for enforcement, rather .than just the US. It would still be hard.

But with satellites to track ships, as well as aerial drones, most of the patrolling could be done by coast guard vessels to interdict fishing boats returning to shore for offloading. Fish might be a lot easier to track than drugs, especially as the product must reach the open markets or fish processing factories.

What is needed is some way to identify legally caught fish from illegal. The legal fish could be tagged with a code (DNA, smart dust?) after catch and then fish inspection could identify illegal fish that were untagged.anywhere in the supply chain.

But a better solution would be to stop fishing altogether except for sport and small scale operations and only allow aquacultured and ranched fish to be harvested. This does limit species choice today, but would probably stimulate more R&D to extend farmed species. Ranched fish could be easily coded to track them through the supply chain and identify illegal harvesting. Fish farming isn't a perfect solution as it can cause environmental damage just like terrestrial farming when done poorly, but it is an option and would make it a lot easier to stop illegal ocean fishing for wild species.

In practice getting agreements to go this route would be hard, but perhaps not impossible, especially if public sentiment and tastes in major fish consuming nations resulted in wide scale boycotts of wild fish consumption, reducing demand and profits from that activity.

186:

You win the prize for lunacy on stilts.

Thank you! The US Navy is a sort of argument for other nations not to officially challenge a US claim to own all the oceans' fish, particularly if we ran it through the UN and made it officially an international corporation or something, but getting them to unofficially cooperate is something else. It would take a big effort and a long time to get the world's fishing fleets dismantled. If we could depend on the people running all the world's ports to cooperate enthusiastically, then it would be a different story.

But of course, any plan to give ownership of all the ocean fish to somebody who would harvest them responsibly, would have to depend on world politics. And therefore it fails as inevitably as any other political decision. This is the Achilles heel for libertarian approaches. Even though private businesses always flawlessly do the best thing and never make mistakes, they depend on government to create and enforce the laws and so they must inevitably fail as badly as other alternatives.

And so -- even though Alex's plan looks absolutely fool-proof -- very few fisheries have imitations of that plan in place. It fails before it is even implemented.

We need a way to keep politics out of the process. Secretly give ownership and control of the oceans to somebody who can be trusted to be responsible, and then don't tell anybody what he's doing. If people find out some of them will disapprove, so don't let them know.

I volunteer for that job. If given secret control of the oceans I will do the best I can to do it efficiently and to maximize your returns. Any bona fide offers sent by email will be given my sincere consideration.

187:

any plan to give ownership of all the ocean fish to somebody

... Is a plan that gives control over 72% of the planet's land area to someone.

That's going to be uncontroversial. Right.

188:

Serious question, how do you think satellites track boats? And who's paying for these drones and satellites?

189:

Disagree, if only for the reason given by Elderly Cynic
"it's incomprehensible so it must be great"
Which is one of the standard bulshitting techniqes used by religions in general & mystics in particular.
It's also used by the "post-modernists" in "literature" - who actually have nothing at all to say, but are determined to get publicty & money for their empty vapourings.
And I'm "over a certain age" & I get nothing from his/her ramblings.
If you are going to send a message, please send a MESSAGE, OK?

As it is, I find it intensely irritating & probably full of shit.

190:

Okay, Charlie ...
YOU obviously think you have extracted meaning & information from CD's post(s).
How about enlightening the rest of us?
See also my moan @ 189, above.

191:

Jaust WHAT have you been smoking/drinking?
Economics proves it. Government always fails because politics. But when private businesses own things, they can precisely calculate all the risks and so they always know the right thing to do, and nobody can tell them not to do it. The way to maximize profit from the world's fisheries is to give them to a corporation, a privateer.
Counter-examples:
British Leyland, Birmingham Small Arms, GEC, US coal companies ...
Any firm at all, anywhere that went bust.

192:

And this is why the economics of fishing resembles that of resource extraction rather than agriculture.
Everything you said up to this point I agree with, but then your conclusion was wrong.

Under what condition of ownership (paying for the value of the fishery up front) does overfishing and crashing the stock make more sense (i.e. profits and value) than sustainable harvesting? The terrestrial equivalent might be watering with brackish water salting the soil. Why would you do that if you had to buy the land to farm on? It only makes sense if the land is free and disposable.
The only w cases I see your model happening is if
1. the sustainable quota level is set too, high and there are multiple owners of the resource competing to extract a fishery (not individual) quota. But of course this starts to resemble the commons model, but with the added cost of ownership at risk.
2. Ownership is not an up front cost of the value of the fishery, but rather a low price right based on a permit.

I reality, it is not that hard to determine catches and set annual quotas based on population dynamics, apart from the lobbying to undermine it. It has been done in many places, for example salmon fishing in California.

The Atlantic Herring fishery is a good example of unregulated over-fisshing that led to a collapse (who eats kippers today?). But see that even this fishery is recovering:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_herring

Similarly with the Pacific Herring: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_herring

The difference between fishing and terrestrial farming is not the problem of overfishing and crashing stocks, because reintroduction can replace lost populations. The problem is that if the population is crashed, the ecosystem may change sufficiently that a reintroduction will no longer work as the relationship networks have changed. With farming, you can always start with a clean slate by weeding or burning the land.

193:

If correct CD is "right" & all the rest of us ae "wrong" .....
Which is a fat lot of fucking use if the message is wrapped in mystical shit.
Yes, I'm annoyed & I would like a CLEAR RATIONAL EXPLANATION.

Charlie @ 183 ...
Well, I'm not suffering from Dunning-Kruger, because I still haven't got a clue! ( & have said so )

194:

Three words: Accounting Control Fraud.

This has nothing to do with how fisheries should be managed. It has to do with gaming the capitalist system. It has been said that a few high profile executives being jailed in a real jail (not a club fed) will encourage the others to behave. Exactly what has not happened with bankers.

195:

Not that it's likely to happen, but a trawler ripping hell out of a coral reef might be a handy test for a small FOBS, like THOR. And LEO is no longer the exclusive domain of superpowers.

196:

Serious question, how do you think satellites track boats? And who's paying for these drones and satellites?

See story here:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/02/05/383562379/gotcha-satellites-help-strip-seafood-pirates-of-their-booty

and tracking here:
http://globalfishingwatch.org/

So the satellites are already paid for. Drones are already being considered for naval operations to reduce costs of surveillance. Even the Indian navy is buying them:
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/navy-seeks-us-uavs-for-ocean-surveillance/article6713960.ece

Isn't the whole point of such UAVs to increase surveillance range compared to radar, at lower cost and with visual information?


197:


Counter-examples:
British Leyland, Birmingham Small Arms, GEC, US coal companies ...
Any firm at all, anywhere that went bust.

Sure, but my point is that even if we grant that businesses never fail, the system still fails. How do corporations create a free-enterprise law? Everybody buys the laws they like most? Private businesses develop legal systems and sell them to the highest bidders?

Maybe you could assume something like that works. Or you could assume that in a good system, people would be reasonable like they aren't reasonable now.

But barring such assumptions, the system cannot work. You can't run a business on a sustainable basis if you can't predict when the laws will change to suck away your money and resources. The best you can do is watch for opportunities as they open up, exploit them quick, and move on.

"Tragedy of the Commons" is only a problem if you think you know how to manage things sustainably. Apart from tha conceit, it's pretty fair. When it's raining soup, I bring my bowl, you bring your bucket, Alex brings a portable swimming pool, and we all collect as much as we can until it stops raining soup. That's fair.

Then the government steps in and says "All you amateurs collecting soup are making it stop raining soup. We're going to bring in real professionals who will collect more soup cheaper, and also they know the secrets of making the rain continue." We get to buy soup at whatever prices they charge, and likely as not it stops raining soup anyway.

So they make it fairer. Anybody who wants to can buy the soup company, whoever's willing to be the highest bidder. That's truly fair as long as everybody knows how much the business is worth. (At least it's fair for investors who can afford it.) But some of us know more than others about how they falsify the books....

This may sound like more lunacy, but really and truly it's a lot easier for fisheries science guys to figure out how the current system is making fisheries collapse, than for them to figure out how to run a sustainable system for real. It's a reasonable bet that they aren't going to manage that, and so the best choice is to grab what you can quick before somebody else grabs it.

198:
This is why you don't find trash cans in British railway and subway stations.

Actually, stations refurbished in the last few years do have bins again. It has, after all, been quite a while since they were regularly blown up. Which might make it psychologically awkward for a government to remove them again - it would amount to an admission that things were pre-good-friday-agreement bad.

199:


It's a reasonable bet that they aren't going to manage that, and so the best choice is to grab what you can quick before somebody else grabs it.

It is not great, but perhaps not as hopeless or unmanageable as you imply:

IMPLEMENTING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE IN FISHERIES MANAGEMENT THROUGH MARINE RESERVES

I've read papers where this seems to work quite well, in protecting fish stocks.

To my mind, the more uncertain annual yields, the more likely fisherman will try for more predictable species. Globally we would be better off buying farmed fish instead.
From a game theory standpoint, does switching to farmed fish exacerbate resource extraction or reduce it? It would seem to me that this is a case the privatization of resources might break down as the value of a sustainable wild fishery will decline with time as consumption shifts. Rather like oil companies pumping as fast as they can in case their reserves get stranded as the world switches to renewables to try to reduce CO2 emissions.

200:

small FOBS, like THOR.

Please can you translate? I'd like to know what you are referring to, but teh acronyms don't really help for the uninitiated.

201:

"He's also dog-whistling like a bandit when he talks about Government regulations over markets, especially fishing, and we both know it."

Nope, I don't. I haven't got a clue what you're talking about. Enlighten me.

202:

Well, to be fair, Charlie, Catina is incomprehensible. She seems to be criticizing the privatization of ocean resources as inefficient as opposed to unjust or infeasible. That makes her impossible to parse.

Mocking my friend's last name, I will admit, does not make me particularly desirous of parsing her writings.

203:

A question --- are you collecting examples of evilness or is this a whinge exercise?

204:

Apologies Greg, it was not my intent to add to the general air of unknowable mysticism, but I know that being any less oblique will draw out a certain kind of response (and I'm a conflict averse sort of person). Personally, I get some information from CatinaDiamond's posts, but I was referring to what the tone and pattern of posting can tell you about him/her when viewed as a whole -- the age reference was more about self-awareness (proper self-awareness that is, not mystical crap), and what that can also bring to the table while analysing the style of posting. Compare CD's posts with some of the other regular posters who tend towards the opaque, and you should see what the big differences really are. At the end of the day, I think your last sentence is a not unfair summation, and not engaging is probably the only sane option.

205:

Noel, they got you confused with Alex Tolley. (See subsequent comments.)

206:

It's a whinge exercise and plot noodling for the book I intend to write after Laundry Files book 7 (in progress), which will be an out-of-series one-off about the Grim Meathook Future.

207:

It is not great, but perhaps not as hopeless or unmanageable as you imply:

I don't want to say it's hopeless. Just that it isn't unreasonable to bet it will fail, that you make your biggest profits by taking what you can get and moving on.

I'm reminded of a story about a Polish count in the 1920's who invited a prominent economist to visit his estate and suggest improvements. They took the railway from France and through Germany, and at Poland they had to switch to a railroad with a different gauge. They did several sections on carriages because the lines were damaged during the fighting. Then the railroad stopped and they took a carriage on a gravel road. The gravel gave way to a mud road with some stones in it. When they reached the count's manor they stopped in a mud courtyard, and peasants carried them to the door, the peasants thigh-deep in the mud. The peasants were forbidden by law from learning to read. After a sumptious rural dinner, the economist looked through the count's records in his oil-lit study. He grimly made some calculations. Finally he gave his conclusion.

"The situation does look desperate, but a determined and resolute man can yet win out.

"Sell everything and invest in America."

There is room even for significant adaptation. People talk about adding microminerals to seawater to increase primary productivity. That would be prohibitively expensive for the whole ocean, but it could be done in thin corridors or blobs and fish might tend to stay near their food. We don't yet know what's possible.

But the idea that we can cooperate on a worldwide scale and preserve resources -- that's a fantastic idea. If it somehow works out, we'll be using it as a precedent for a long time. They used to say "If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can X". Now it would be "If we can cooperate to save the oceans, of course we can X".

Though it isn't likely the oceans will die. They used to say Lake Erie was dead, but what it was doing, was it was producing so much food that it couldn't get enough oxygen and things that needed oxygen died. That's a lot of food -- just not food for us. If the oceans get so many blue-green algae or dinoflagellates etc that the fish die off, that doesn't mean the oceans are dead -- they're more alive than ever. Just not producing the kind of food we're used to.

208:

"small FOBS, like THOR."

Please can you translate?

http://www.ausairpower.net/APA-Sov-FOBS-Program.html

Fractional Orbital Bombardment System.

You can bomb anywhere in the world if you know where it is. Maybe kind of expensive, but maybe not that expensive if you aren't using nukes. And nukes to destroy fishing boats might damage the fish too much.


THOR
Orbiting weapons systems.
http://futurewarstories.blogspot.com/2014/11/fws-topics-orbital-bombardment.html

" The heart of THOR was long tungsten rods that were the size of telephone poles and could delivery a punch without the risks of nuclear or conventional explosives."

Depending on just where a poaching fishing boat sank, it might eventually increase fish at that location. In the short run, its oily fuel would probably damage the site. And the effect of kinetic weapons might possibly kill a lot of fish.

At first thought it doesn't seem practical but I'm not an expert at this stuff.

209:

Most fish farming is even less sustainable than 'wild' fishing,
especially the farming of predator species like salmon and trout.
It needs massively more fish (e.g. sand eels) than it delivers,
and large amounts of toxic pesticides (e.g. against sea lice).
Mediaeval carp and (I believe) Tilapia are much better.

210:

Actually, British Rail started removing rubbish bins from stations
even before the Troubles started, but was forced to restore them
because of a public outcry, until the IRA started bombing in
England - terrorism was an excuse as much as the reason.

211:

"...which will be an out-of-series one-off about the Grim Meathook Future."

Remind me not to buy it. I do not find being depressed conducive to anything positive at all.

212:

CatinaDiamond's posts are what they are.
BTW, did someone here mention a name for the condition of believing other people to think like oneself?

213:

Also re. fish farming, rivers with salmon farms at their mouths tend to have no wild salmon because the lice that breed in the farms latch onto and weaken young salmon on their way out of the river.

The fishing crisis is a brilliant example to add to the many and current ones, about how scientists and experts said "This'll all go wrong if you don't change your ways", were ignored, and then it all went wrong. Climate change is the current biggest example.

214:

Then we will be in serious trouble.

I think it will be possible when mitigating resource depletion becomes a positive option rather rather being perceived as a negative. This may mean that we will be in a world that is dominated by a service economy and that food and water security has been established by a move away from traditional agriculture and water recycling is the norm, not an ad hoc emergency addition.

215:
I strongly suspect that the Irish vote was a way for their populace to finally give the evil Black Crows a large finger
You'd be very wrong. The only people who paid a blind bit of heed to the Catholic hierarchy's stance were those who had to decide whether to follow their religion or their innate decency. A stunning number of them chose the latter.
216:

Actually, I think I understand it just fine.

(Problem is receiver, not transmitter, in other words.)

That means a lot, I rarely have kind words. I expected to be banned, or put in the corner when you can all point and laugh.

Mocking my friend's last name, I will admit, does not make me particularly desirous of parsing her writings.

Actually, it's the highest form of honor where I come from. I'm sure you know the long list of minds that do teach the MBA, perhaps I chose that one for a reason? There's minds on that list I wouldn't touch with a barge pole - nasty nasty stuff inside. (Your friend is still of the carnivorous type though).

"He's also dog-whistling like a bandit when he talks about Government regulations over markets, especially fishing, and we both know it."

Nope, I don't. I haven't got a clue what you're talking about. Enlighten me.

You've never heard of regulatory capture? I'm fairly sure you should know all about the carbon trading stuff though, right? It's not the government doing the trading.


As it is, I find it intensely irritating & probably full of shit.

If this helps:

1) MEDEA: Satellites. Find out why it was cancelled and what that means. Ask sources on why I'm using 4 billion as a number - if you have the wiggly piggly contacts you'll see they put it lower but not by much.

2) Consider that once you've stared at certain papers you have to get shit-blind-drunk to discuss them. And I often find that blind drunkenness is the only way to post when the empathy gap is so high. We're posting and someone mentions gigadeath and the reaction is "but this theory states...". It's obscene. (Apocalypse Now Brandon Movie Link there but we're not doing that in this post).

3) If I was not toning everything down, every.other.word. would be a link. And yes, every one of them has a contextual meaning and relevance and probably a joke. This isn't a case of supercilious hierarchical male 'I iz better than thou' it's just what it is or what I am (and that's certainly not mental illness but the algo's don't know the difference yet). Information density is very hard to winnow down without being patronizing, so consider the time frame of posts made and handicaps being employed. i.e. 5-10 min, extremely drunk, web is crap so all that copy/pasting. It's also really boring for me, sorry.

*shrug*


And I'm the runt of the litter.

217:
Under what condition of ownership (paying for the value of the fishery up front) does overfishing and crashing the stock make more sense (i.e. profits and value) than sustainable harvesting?
The fact that the new owner will not have had to pay 1/100th of the true value of the fishery? The true value of the fishery is near incalculable. (Put a price on supplying 25% to 40% of the animal protein of 1 million people for a year - that's the minimum value of this year's fishing rights to Lake Tanganyika. How much should it cost to take that away forever?)
218:

At the end of the day, I think your last sentence is a not unfair summation, and not engaging is probably the only sane option.

By your definitions of sanity, which are very limited. As I said, 20th century vrs something else. You're also missing the performance part.

Poisoned by our own memetic shit, in other words

*claps*

When you need to poison yourself to speak to poisoned minds or move further toward Tlaçolteotl.

http://stonecenter.tulane.edu/uploads/Floyd,_UploadVersion-1368207093.pdf

219:

OKAY
I NOW get it ( MEDEA - which I did know about, but there was no linking information that I saw )
Why couldn't you say so straight out FFS?

P.S. IIRC the Grand Banks fishery crashed, because the Canadians were really worried about foreign overfishing.
So they banned all foreigners from fishing there ... & then ruthlessly over-fished it themseleves.
oops
Also, the OTHER fish-stocks have recovered (ish) but not the Cod - for reasons explained by Charlie.
Also IIRC, the Brit guvmmint is trying to set up "reserve" areas for no-fishing, or only small-scale fishing in square blocks, all around our coasts as a preventive measure.
I think the Grand Banks crash scared people, just not enough & of course corrupt EU "quotas" which are set too high & not properly observed by some nations (Spain & others) which doesn't help either.
As you say, regulatory capture is/can be also a problem.

There?
See how easy it is when you actually talk straight, without mystical mumbo-jumbo?

220:

OKAY
I NOW get it


To be fair, I consider most of this crowd and the peanut gallery about a whisker away from disappearing me for good.

YMMV.

221:

Swing and a miss, but I do have to apologise as I set you up for it. Fascinating though, you have completely forgotten previous exchanges where performance was mentioned. Well, fun as it was, results coming very close to the predicted range. And after all, we are all pale ghosts.

This is fun!!

222:

And after all, we are all pale ghosts.

This is fun!!


Feeling feisty?

Since you've explicitly stated that insanity is required to engage, want to play?

(I suspect he won't).

Low-ball easy entry: define why meta-shift in tonal voice within posts is anchored to mind, not persona, in textual engagement on the internet.

Note: While you may employ disinformation tactics, JTRIG documentation will be applied to see if originality is present.

Our kind don't go mad. But we do get bored.

223:

To be fair, I consider most of this crowd and the peanut gallery about a whisker away from disappearing me for good.

Assuming you're talking about getting banned, read the FAQ on moderation policy. There are a list of things which would probably get you banned, none of which you have done much.

In my time here I've noticed one person get banned, for being rude to another commenter. To the extent that's a precedent, people who complain about you are probably in more danger than you are.

For all I know, Charlie Stross might possibly ban you if you annoy him unduly, even while you follow all his rules. It's his blog and he has the right. But I haven't seen him do anything like that. Again, I don't know him well but I've gotten the strong impression that if somebody sent him an email that read "I am a senior important commenter on your blog and I want you to get rid of commenter X because he's bugging me and he's generally a shithead", that he would not suffer them gladly.

224:

We're only playing if the dealer is wearing shades and smiles all the time!

And boredom is indeed a problem, so no dice with the middle bit either.

See? Fun!

225:

"Though it isn't likely the oceans will die."

Ha ha ha hahahaaaa ha ha ha haaa hhhaaaa hahahaha haaa hahahaha huuuaa huuuuaaa uuuuuaaa aaaaahhhhh Sob Sob sob sob sobbb sobb soooob.

Fuck it I'm going to have a drink.

226:

Assuming you're talking about getting banned

Ha ha ha hahahaaaa ha ha ha haaa hhhaaaa hahahaha haaa hahahaha huuuaa huuuuaaa uuuuuaaa aaaaahhhhh Sob Sob sob sob sobbb sobb soooob.


You're very cute


We're only playing if the dealer is wearing shades and smiles all the time!

Didn't think you had the balls


Ciao, 12 stone or 12 years old? Hilarious.

227:

I said we shouldn't mention Orange Roughy, but when someone says something like "Though it isn't likely the oceans will die" I can't help it. This is a fish that doesn't breed until it's 30 years old. It produces few large eggs and has a mass spawning (as Charlie described). It evolved in what is probably the most stable environment on Earth and has no strategy for "bouncing back" after a set back. It's *purely extractive* fishing.

It's in an area "managed" by Australia and New Zealand who are about as enlightened as it gets (ie. not very much at all).

Read this graph and sob your eyes out for the death of the oceans. There's no doubting that we'll rip and slash our way through them until there's literally nothing of value to us and then poison what's left with acid. Plans for this and that economic model is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Orange_roughy_production_worldwide.gif

228:

Ciao, 12 stone or 12 years old? Hilarious.

Now you're not even trying!

Ah well, I guess one of us goes away disappointed.

229:

Now you're not even trying!

Ah well, I guess one of us goes away disappointed.

Someone didn't watch the links again.


The problem you're facing is this: you've admitted to scanning / tracking / analyzing my posts since I first appear here and have passed 'Judgement' claiming that mental illness is at work.

I, on the other hand, haven't done the same to yours.

Do you want me to?

230:

You might want to consider that the oceans have never died throughout half a billion years of multi-cellular life. They've survived some huge extinction events, most notably the Permian Extinction. but multi-cellular life continued.

We're not even close to the Soylent Green level of ocean destruction. It trends aren't looking good, but the oceans will have advanced life long after we have come and gone as a species. The won't have many of the megafauna that we still have today.

231:

Your level for "ocean still alive" is 95% of all species dead?

Fabulous, I see there's rosy times ahead for us.

We are truly fucked.

232:

Consider that once you've stared at certain papers you have to get shit-blind-drunk to discuss them. And I often find that blind drunkenness is the only way to post when the empathy gap is so high. We're posting and someone mentions gigadeath and the reaction is "but this theory states...". It's obscene.

If you're going to discuss them, being shit-blind-drunk reduces your effectiveness. Better to put your feelings aside and do your best.

You can use that empathy to get your ideas across, so long as you keep it toned down enough that other people aren't overwhelmed. Lots of people can't think straight when their feelings are rushing over them, and so they tend to forget the feelings afterward and go back to their previous opinions. So use the feelings to further the reasoning, and vice versa, but don't take it far enough they do a reset.

It's understandable you'd feel attached to your precious feelings, but don't let them incapacitate you. Don't let your feelings get in the way of doing the work that your feelings tell you needs to be done.

We're posting and someone mentions gigadeath and the reaction is "but this theory states...".

Oh gods. One time around 1986 or so, it was in the summer and late at night, it was raining, and I got this giant flash of light. It didn't seem like it came from the window, it was like it came through the whole wall and ceiling, no particular direction. I got a sick feeling in my stomach and I started counting seconds. I didn't know whether I was counting for the thunder or the ground swell. I realized in a flash that I had believed that a lot of the smarted people in the world had devoted their lives to preventing nuclear war, and I had been convinced that they had succeeded and there would not be a nuclear war. And then in less than a second I was unconvinced. I was thinking about how stupid I'd been. And then at 5 seconds I heard extremely loud thunder and nothing else. It was just a great big lightning strike.

But after that I was never again certain there would not be a nuclear war.

233:

Fabulous, I see there's rosy times ahead for us.

Yes, finally. Jellyfish ocean world is not a place where 7 billion people live.

And the Tigers, Lions and Bears and Orcas curse you to, since your children won't even know they exist apart from factory bred models in Zoos.

But, please, do continue with Messiah Prophecies in the Middle East (now a total desert because none of their kind were responsible enough to maintain an ecology - say what you want about the British Empire, but gardening is a central tenet to the culture - when the alternative is desert, you have to take these crumbs. Old Forest, Tropical rainforest and so on loss will never be forgiven, look at the amount of DNA you wasted that took 100+ million years to perfect) because G_D is totally about 2,000 year old+ grievances.


In 13,000 years (approx) the tilt of the planet will shift once more and the Sahara desert will once again bloom. Only this time it won't, predicting with accuracy the weather changes is now even impossible for me.

Best guess: ice age with an additional 20-40k years due needed to clear, without even thinking about Venus and the like.


Time. You're not good at it.


@JThomas But after that I was never again certain there would not be a nuclear war.


Well, you'll live long enough to see a limited engagement if the bones are correct.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU

234:

Your level for "ocean still alive" is 95% of all species dead?

No, there are millions of species of micro-organisms, most of them unclassified. Not nearly so many higher organisms.

And see, when the oceans turn anoxic that means that they are creating so much biomass that they use up the oxygen metabolizing it. That's more biomass than before.

It's an ocean with more life and more productivity than before. It just won't be producing what we want it to.

Very likely this is where the oil came from in the first place.

So there's a silver lining to it for somebody. Just, probably not us.

Anoxic event

235:

Very likely this is where the oil came from in the first place.


Totally false.

Algae (not dinosaurs) is the generative element and they cannot exist in a non-oxygen world.

If you don't know these things, look up the relationship between coal and fungi. (360,000,000 years ago).

These stashes of past life condensed into energy exist because at that time, organisms hadn't evolved yet to process them, and so they entered geological processes.

Seriously.


You're burning up 3 billion years of life and you've no idea even why it's a one off deal?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fngvQS_PmQ

236:

OKAY
I NOW get it ( MEDEA - which I did know about, but there was no linking information that I saw )
Why couldn't you say so straight out FFS?

Do you have any evidence that you get it?

People are good at creating patterns. S/he said a lot of stuff that you could fit together various ways if you tried. S/he added two more, and now you think you see more of a pattern.

Is there any particular reason to think that this pattern was there all along? It's one you created out of a bunch of disconnected statements. S/he could have presented a couple of different items and you would likely have created some other pattern from them.

Why do you assume that communication has taken place?

237:

S/he said a lot of stuff that you could fit together various ways if you tried. S/he added two more, and now you think you see more of a pattern.


Don't do that.

You're seeing less than the total pattern, but now you're trying to destroy it.

But sure, I spy with my little eye scurrying mice. I guess being smacked about energy and time was a bit painful? Interesting you scurry along to question another being's response? I know what that says to me: weakness.

I will not accept a solution that causes the death of billions, nor will I accept the myth that souls / consciousness are tradable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gtae7Ap7wt0

p.s.


Meta-meta-meta, so cute.

238:

"Very likely this is where the oil came from in the first place."

Totally false.

You were there?

Algae (not dinosaurs) is the generative element and they cannot exist in a non-oxygen world.

Agreed, largely algae. Why do you think they can't exist in an anoxic ocean?

These stashes of past life condensed into energy exist because at that time, organisms hadn't evolved yet to process them, and so they entered geological processes.

Do you believe that?

Then -- after the algae that evolved in an anoxic ocean created a whole lot of oxygen, how is it that the rock from the later anoxic times has a lot of organic matter and the rock from intervening non-anoxic times has so much less?

I think it's plausible that the the stuff didn't get oxidised because the oxygen was not available to do it, not that life hadn't figured out how to do that yet. Life tended to create long-chain hydrocarbons and polycyclic rings because those were the lowest-energy forms available under the circumstances. What oxygen there was went to water and CO2.

I could be wrong, but I think my story is more plausible than yours.

239:

I could be wrong, but I think my story is more plausible than yours.

Thank you. Achievement unlocked. (Peanut Gallery: "SCORE")

You post links to scientific papers and so forth or you stop the bullshit. You're acting like that's not my normal posting patterns: why? And why didn't you get the usual science based proof links back?

You get bonus points for conflating science with let us say 'other realms', it's a cute move.

All in all, 8/10 - decent hook, fairly good bait but previous attempts to play dumb about Religion give you minus points.

There's three tells that really point to it, but there we go.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRjH_gJbUqQ

As I said: don't play games little man.

240:

You're seeing less than the total pattern, but now you're trying to destroy it.

If you want to get your own pattern across, more than to inspire people to make up whatever patterns they choose for themselves, then it helps to put in a lot of redundancy. The more you repeat *the pattern* (not the same data three times, but three examples of the pattern in place), the easier it is for people to see what it is you're doing.

The less you provide, the more you're just encouraging other people to play Starbuck's Pebbles.

I guess being smacked about energy and time was a bit painful?

Are you talking about your #235? I hadn't seen that yet. I'm not thinking in terms of smacking and being smacked. Often I like to read your stuff and see what I can create out of it. If I get something useful I don't much care whether it was what you intended.

I will not accept a solution that causes the death of billions

Then do something about it. Pretty much everybody dies. I consider it a bad thing for the genetic diversity of the population to get cut. We need to preserve that diversity. For that goal, we need far more to preserve the population of africa than the rest of the world.

241:

P.S.


Real simple logic here.

When life found a way, it's not a universal. From fungi appearing to eating all that carbon? 50-120 million years to spread across a plant. From algae (LOL - sorry, please give links to show how modern and ancient algae are different) to all life being able to process it?


It's not fucking binary, 1-0-1-0.


TIME, as I said, you're not good at it.


2:0. Thanks for playing.

242:

Then do something about it


And, peanut gallery, there we have it.

Jesus spends three days on a Cross, and suddenly original sin gets forgiven. Spend three years on it, and you still have to listen to these muppets.

I see what you did there. We're not impressed.

243:

And, hilariously: plant > planet and all those other errors? All those it's its etc?

Correct in my field - it's low yield warfare that doesn't work on us. Cute you spent the money and time though 3>

Because, muppets, if you do that to people who have a Shakespearean vocabulary, it raises more questions about the processing rather than the execution.


Drunk > Reason > AB testing > Made


You fuckers are dumb

244:

If you need the proof, check the temporal clause errors in various posts: the software can't check that. That's why when I put a "when" instead of a "where" or other tense checks it wasn't changed, but various "it's" etc were. Trust me, look back on the post, it's hilarious.


Rule #1: Meta games. We're kinda good at them. Now fuck off.

245:

You post links to scientific papers and so forth or you stop the bullshit.

?? You claim that algae cannot live in anoxic conditions. I claim that algae evolved in anoxic conditions. Do you need links for that? Anyway, it's very often the algae that *make* the water anoxic, and they do it partly by growing so much that they reduce the amount of light at lower levels so you don't get photosynthesis deeper.

http://www.ceemar.org/dspace/bitstream/11099/155/1/ecological%20consequences%20of%20anoxic%20events%20at%20the%20north-western%20Black%20Sea%20shelf.pdf

Are you really claiming not to understand this? Are you sealioning?

You claim that ancient organisms made waste products or body parts that they could not degrade?

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11270-013-1449-9
Here is a link showing some modern archaea can degrade some of the components of petroleum. I suppose it's possible they only learned to do this recently, though. How would we tell whether those compounds accumulated because nothing knew how to metabolize them, or because on an anoxic seabed (or inside a dome) those were the low-energy end-states? Perhaps we could compare the amount of them left in the rock under anoxia versus non-anoxia? This is paywalled but you can see enough to get some idea. By the mesozoic, it happened under anoxia and not otherwise.

http://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-1-4020-4411-3_155#page-1

In general, bacteria etc evolve pretty quick. All of them on the ocean floor don't go millions of years with a feast available without some of them learning to eat it. Doesn't it make sense that their problem was that they couldn't oxidize stuff because they lacked oxygen, and not that for a very long time they couldn't figure out how?

246:

Oh, Thomas, that's very cute.

I'm happy you're getting towards something better, and putting the effort in, although your science is a little bit wonky, but: You already killed me.

Your science is bad: go find a real scientist to explain it to you, I'm tired of your limitations.


I could spend the time to educate you, or I could just die in peace, and how many hints have you had already?

It's an ironic world where the only things that love you are the things that apparently destroy all life.

247:

"You claim that ancient organisms made waste products or body parts that they could not degrade?"

Think then type.

Yes, ancient organisims made body parts that were not biodegradable. There are many examples of non-biodegradable body parts (if you're in the UK, go to the White cliffs of Dover and have a long think). The ones in question as related to the formation of fossil fuels we use today are mainly related to Lignin. The fact that lignin (wood) was not biodegradable had an enormous impact on the carbon cycle of the Earth between the invention of wood and the invention of a way to metabolise it.

Here's a layman's overview

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mushroom-evolution-breaks-down-lignin-slows-coal-formation/

248:

If you don't know these things, look up the relationship between coal and fungi. (360,000,000 years ago).

You inspired me to look at this.

Here's the dumbed-down popularized version.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mushroom-evolution-breaks-down-lignin-slows-coal-formation/

White rot fungi could potentially remove lignin from wood in commercial processes, making the cellulose more available. It's an exciting development so it gets research money. The fungus releases rather nonspecific stuff like H2O2 that attacks lignin. They compared genomes of various fungi and decided that the trait arose about 290 million years ago. Their molecular clock method is notoriously unreliable but in some specific cases it can work well. The carboniferous period ended about 300 million years ago. "The coincidental timing suggests the appearance of this ability to break down lignin helped slow the massive burial of organic carbon...." They said that. They made a whole lot out of this coincidence.

Here is a link that describes a lot about lignins. They mention a lignin in an algae that is separated by a nominal billion years from vascular plants. It isn't certain when it developed lignin, it could be some sort of parallel evolution where they both evolved the same thing independently. But it's plausible that some plants have had lignins for a billion years, and that some organisms have known how to degrade them for almost as long. Because if they didn't, the world would have gotten covered by a thick layer of lignin while waiting for something to learn how to eat it.

http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/153/3/895.full

Here's a soil bacterium, a pseudomonas species, that degrades some lignins. Of course it does this best with lignins that are available, it isn't real good at breaking up intact tree trunks. Being a bacterium.

http://www.febsletters.org/article/0014-5793%2888%2981369-3/abstract

You can argue that lignin degradation did not evolve until a specific fungus did it, and then it took 50-120 million years for it to spread across the planet. Unless you have some good links for that, I'm going to guess that it's rather going beyond the data. Probably there were plants with lignin-like compounds before there were land plants, and there were sea bacteria that degraded them. Probably, the end of the carboniferous era did not come because one variety of mushroom developed a unique mutation that let it eat lignin, and it took a very long time for it to spread.

If you have links for any of your ideas I'll be glad to look at them.

249:

You post links to scientific papers and so forth or you stop the bullshit.

I note that you did not post any links for your claims about this.

Your science is bad: go find a real scientist to explain it to you, I'm tired of your limitations.

This is par for the course.

The sea lion says "You're wrong, go away little man, don't come back unless you have scientific links."

I come back with scientific links and he says "You're wrong, little man, your links are no good, go away."

The value I get from looking things up is what I find out for myself. Not for the mostly-inevitable responses from trolls and sea lions.

250:

Right.

All of you stop for the night, please.

251:

How about:
"Talking meaningless twaddle, whilst annoying everyone"?
Or
"Making no snse whilst engaging in mysticism = bullshit" ??

Because it looks as though CD is still doing it.

Why should I BOTHER trying to extract meaning from this apparent rubbish, after all?

It is neither clever, nor funny. ( Or even vulgar, either )

If he/she is talking about GW & oceanic decline & species degradation/extinction, why not fucking say so, rather than behaving like a bloody priest?

252:

Beacuse a lot of his/her links are apparently irrelevan YouTube clips, which may or may not be relevant.
I prefer DATA, thank you very much.
Also, I think you are falling into her/hois trap of talking "mystically" - which annoys me no end, as you have probably noticed

253:


WHY CANNOT OR WILL NOT YOU TALK STRAIGHT?

Your oh-so-"clever" mystical reamarks are simply a mark of something.
Probably selective mental retardation
PLEASE STOP IT

254:

Bugger ... HTML screw-up there.
Only the first line should have been in bold (I think)

CD's remarks just annoy me, because there is a diminishing amount of actual information there.
Or so it seems

255:

Well, you'll live long enough to see a limited engagement if the bones are correct.

Actually, I'm an optimist on nuclear war these days.

Firstly, we already had a limited nuclear war. It happened in 1998 between India and Pakistan: total human casualties, zero, because both sides had seismographs and the detonations took place underground -- a purely symbolic exchange (message: "do not poke me with a stick or you will be sorry" received by both sides).

Secondly, the atom bomb was a 1940s answer to a 1930s tactical problem -- the inaccuracy of bombers. In 1941 the RAF estimated the CEP (circular error probability -- radius of target within which 50% of bombs would fall) for night bombing in Germany by RAF aircrews at around 5 miles. It took a thousand bomber raid to hit a factory and put it out of action. The atom bomb finally rendered strategic bombing practical, by enabling a single bomber to do the job of the thousand bomber fleet.

But the atom bomb is politically difficult to use and has unpleasant side-effects (notably mass civilian casualties and fallout). So when the laser guided smart bomb came along in the 1960s ... well, at first it allowed two tactical airplanes to take out a bridge, rather than a squadron of B-52s. And today our smart bombs are immeasurably more accurate. So accurate, in fact, that they can cause the same amount of strategic damage as a nuclear war, without the collateral damage or fallout.

(AIUI an RAF Staff College exercise estimated how many F-114A Stealth fighters, as used in the Bosnian war circa 1994, it would have taken to meet the strategic objectives of the RAF Bomber Command and the USAAF in the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, 1943-45 (that is: destruction of factories, dams, and strategic targets, not mass bombing against civilians). A campaign during which 60,000 RAF aircrew and 300-600,000 civilians died. The answer was something like "one squadron of Nighthawks dropping JDAMs for six nights a week, six weeks only: 50/50 chance of losing one airframe to random flak or mechanical failure".)

So. We've come a long way in terms of air power. Nukes are no longer useful as actual weapons -- they're just tokens to keep the enemy tokens in check on the board table, and nobody really wants to waste money on them (except as a symbol of national strength to cover up for weakness elsewhere -- see also David Cameron, Kim Jong Un).

256:

Why do you assume that communication has taken place?

You know, I'd have more sympathy for you if I saw clear evidence that people commenting on my blog essays had actually clicked through and glanced at -- never mind read -- the links in them.

(There are seven links in this one but I'm noticing folks passing comments that imply they haven't looked at the material. My more reference-dense blog posts get it much worse.)

((I will freely admit that I never click through to links to youtube because (a) never gonna give you up and (b) life's too short for the information delivery speed of video compared to dry cold text.))

257:

The posts radiating at c. 400 Celsius don't seem to be related at
all closely to the blog, so I don't suppose that it matters whether
they followed the links or not.

258:

"Secondly, the atom bomb was a 1940s answer to a 1930s tactical
problem -- the inaccuracy of bombers."

Plus the specifics of the situation. The warlords HAD to be made
to lose face, or there would have been another and nastier war
within a couple of decades. And the only conventional plan on the
table was an invasion of the home islands, where the Japanese
civilian deaths were estimated at 3 million (I forget the military
numbers on both sides, but they were large). So the horror factor
shouldn't be excluded.

259:

I could be wrong, but I think my story is more plausible than yours.

Sigh.

You evidently don't know about the evolutionary history of lignified plants, or the nature of carboniferous era deposits. Hint: they leave fossils.

260:

You fuckers are dumb
...
Now fuck off.

WARNING:

I'm the only person who gets to tell people to fuck off around here.

(Hint: read the moderation policy. Abuse -- as opposed to argument -- is a no-no around here. Unless you're me, as in, the local god.)

261:

The nuclear weapons developed by the Allies during WWII and constructed by the Americans were ready for use and they were used, that's all. They were wonder weapons in a war filled with wonder weapons, less destructive and lethal than a thousand-bomber raid, several of which had already been inflicted on Japan with more to follow. Horrific fact, in the month of September 1945, AFTER Japan had capitulated Boeing produced 300 B-29 bombers. Airframe and crew losses over Japan were minimal due to poor AA and radar systems and lack of fuel for high-altitude interceptors. so these extra bombers would be added to the existing fleets, not simply used up as replacements as many B-17s were over Germany earlier. Even without the use of nuclear weapons the Japanese Home Islands were in for a severe kicking.

After the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki[1] on the 9th of August 1945 the War Cabinet in Tokyo decided to continue to resist. The really bad news that cinched the surrender two days later was that the Soviets had joined in the fight in the East 90 days after V-E day and were comprehensively destroying the last large Japanese military force left outside the Home Islands in the much-overlooked Battle of Manchuria.

[1]In an alternate history line the weather over Kokura Arsenal was a little better that day and its name went down in the history books alongside Hiroshima instead of the port and shipbuilding city of Nagasaki to the south-west.

262:

WRT the atom-bombing of Japan, remember Hiroshima was bombed right before the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation kicked off, and Nagasaki the day later.

You are a member of the Japanese government under siege, but willing to contemplate surrender in the face of enemy invasion. Do you surrender to (a) the USA, who have superweapons, or (b) Stalin? It's Hobson's Choice writ large, but if you surrender to the guy with superweapons they might just fend off the USSR, whereas if you surrender to the USSR and the predictable US/Soviet showdown happens, you're under Stalin's jackboot and you're facing the nuclear firing line.

And yes, from the American/British perspective, the 90 days of Operation Olympic alone were going to cost around half a million allied dead; the whole of Operation Downfall was going to cost 0.5-4 million allied lives and 5-20 million Japanese lives. (It was set to be bloodier than the whole of the first world war. The USA is still handing out Purple Hearts -- medals for those wounded in action -- stockpiled for the 1945 campaign.)

263:

Thanks for updating/correcting me. I was basing my post on the
writings of some of the people personally involved, and read them
some decades back, but it is clear that a lot has been declassified
since.

However, what those people said is that the warlords (i.e. the
government) were NOT willing to contemplate surrender, but didn't
have a clue what else to do, so were running around like headless
chickens. Whereupon Hirohito used his nominal but previously
unused powers to take total control and offer surrender to the USA,
quite probably for the reasons you gave.

264:

Regarding the subject of nuclear weapons I have a point which I hope others find interesting.

Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to human civilisation and possibly to the human species. But it's also true that nuclear weapons, and the missile technology that has been developed along with them, may be our defence against at least one other existential threat - asteroid strikes, which have happened to Earth several times. (The dinosaurs died because they didn't have a space programme.)

Possibly other threats as well, because space technology (if sufficiently developed) allows a dispersal defence against various threats other than asteroids, as well.

And this means that the balance of threat versus safety, or potential cost versus benefit, is a matter of human psychology rather than physics. Imagine a global hive mind, with none of humanity's tribal aggression. Possession of nuclear weapons and the associated missiles would, in that case, be an unalloyed benefit.

265:

Having gone back and noodled through your links in more depth (I did only skim the first time), it occurred to me the metaphor of "the tragedy of the commons" could sometimes be applied (at a stretch) to how commenters act on your blog.

(Your random thought for the morning has been brought to you by today's caffeine defficiency.)

266:

I don't think that argument holds water given that we would expect to get years to decades of warning before being hit by anything we could deflect, and it is quick and easy to retool for nuclear bomb production if you have a civilian nuclear industry.

Your hypothetical perfectly peaceful world would still be better off without the missiles.

268:

((I will freely admit that I never click through to links to youtube because (a) never gonna give you up and (b) life's too short for the information delivery speed of video compared to dry cold text.))

Thank You.

I've been annoyed for a long time with people wanting me to watch a video instead of reading something. With a video they are expecting you to give up some portion of your life that they determine. With text I can skim, easily start and stop, not mis-understand your pronunciation, etc...

269:

I don't think that argument holds water given that we would expect to get years to decades of warning before being hit by anything we could deflect,

Like all the warning we got a couple of year ago over northern Russia? One a bit bigger than that one would make quite a mess if it came in anywhere over a land mass. And imagine the fun if it came in near either pole.

270:

That one was pretty small really. Too small for anyone to see it coming, which is a prerequisite for deflection.

What would you expect to happen if it came in at one of the poles? I would assume that there is a good chance nobody would notice.

271:

The point I was trying to get at is that large objects are easy to see and small ones don't really matter.

272:

One last time and then done, no more derailing from me. Moderators, please delete if you feel I'm stepping over a boundary here, but I would like the chance to respond to accusations of bad manners on my part by CatinaDiamond.

Catina:

For a start: We are not playing the same game.

Secondly: I have made no accusation of insanity. I stated that for the sanity of others who are failing to understand what you are doing, it might be wise to ignore you. (Also, I have previously defended you, admittedly in a round-a-bout way, from straight up accusations of madness.)

Thirdly: You are more than welcome to parse my posts here and draw whatever conclusions you think applicable about me. I prefer to know who I am dealing with, which is why I do this. Sometimes its enlightening, sometimes not.

Finally: I don't like you or trust you (I'm fairly confident that I know what you are), so your opinions, good or bad, of me are irrelevant.

273:

Some of us don't have the bandwidth to watch streaming video, even if we couldn't read text several times faster than the same content can be infodumped by video.

274:

"I could be wrong, but I think my story is more plausible than yours."

You evidently don't know about the evolutionary history of lignified plants, or the nature of carboniferous era deposits. Hint: they leave fossils.

I know that the carboniferous era happened, sure.

The old explanation was that there were a lot of swamps and stuff wound up underwater where it couldn't rot away. This is not a full explanation -- why would there be so many and such large swamps?

The new explanation is that it took 50 million years for anything to figure out how to eat lignin, so the wood just sat there uneaten, getting in the way, for 50 million years. This is not a full explanation either. There's some reason to believe that plants had been making lignin for well over half a billion years already, and there's reason to believe that bacteria had been metabolizing it for about that long. They knew how to do that.

They knew how but they didn't. Something stopped them. The underwater explanation says it was lack of oxygen. The other obvious choice is that the lignin and cellulose were wound up tight somehow so that the bacteria etc couldn't get to them.

Here's a link about how termites do it, for anybody that's interested. They provide some of the enzymes themselves, and others come from fungi and/or protozoa and/or bacteria that do other parts. They don't understand it very well. The termites provide their commensals with well-chewed products and close-to-ideal work conditions, which in some cases include high alkalinity. The degradation would be slower without them.

http://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Symbiosis_of_Termites_and_the_Microbes_in_their_Gut:_Digestion_of_Lignocellulose

Well, but the earliest fossils that are definitely termites come from the Cretaceous, though they may date back to the Permian -- just after the carboniferous age. They probably evolved out of wood-eating cockroaches.

This stuff is a lot woolier than it looks from the Scientific American article. They found a fungus that destroys lignin today, and made a rough estimate that it may have evolved around the end of the carboniferous times, and they found a few fossils that looked like it. They guessed it may have been the reason there was less coal laid down after that.

275:

Has anyone ever explained why this site has such an attractor with war and weaponry? I'd really like to hear an explanation given even predominately male conversations don't so unerringly turn to war.

As for the business plan of evil and rentseeking behaviour - I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the granddaddy of them: lawyers, laws and politics. It can't be by mistake that most politicians have a legal background, and that laws they create are such a complex mess, and that courts are so user hostile that lawyers are needed to navigate the structure.

It's, of course, in their interest that every individual is guilty of breaking at least one law each day.

Knock that little rentseeking scam on the head and all the others naturally fall away...

276:

You do not actually need to find RFIDs to render them useless. All you need to do is burn them out, or flood the data receivers with fake data.

A large Helmholtz coil powered by DC electricity will set up a strong electromagnetic field. An RFID dropped through this field will experience huge induced currents in its small circuits, which will burn it out.

Similarly if you have a source of readily-programmable RFID units, all you need do is program these with the codes of a variety of unusual and hard-to-recycle things, then covertly attach these tags to other items. The bin reads the extra tags, registers them and auto-fines the householder.

Do this a lot, and after a while you have a ready-made cadre of angry, unjustly-fined householders ready to revolt against the State.

277:

"S/he said a lot of stuff that you could fit together various ways if you tried. S/he added two more, and now you think you see more of a pattern."

You're seeing less than the total pattern, but now you're trying to destroy it.

I don't particularly mind whatever it is you're trying to do here. It's OK. When you do something I'm not interested in, I ignore it. And you do a lot that's interesting enough to respond to.

I just want to point out that when you present isolated dots and ask people to connect the dots, they are likely to do it lots of ways. (Cf Starbuck's Pebbles.) If you want to get something in particular across, give examples that are different enough to help people get a sense what you're saying.

And I don't destroy a pattern by pointing out that people are building their own patterns more than accurately copying yours. If I came out and said that you had no pattern until somebody told you what they got, and you agreed that was it (which I haven't noticed you do much, you mostly don't tell people you think they understood), that would not destroy any patterns.

You can't usually make people unsee something they've seen, by telling them it didn't happen. (OK, some people are good at doing that sometimes. Not me. I lack both the skills and the status.)

That is not an effective way to get rid of meaning which is already in people's heads.

Oh well. Back on topic, maybe you could reform the schools. Every year they must spend several weeks with the students taking long, long standardized exams which will affect the schools' funding. If too many students do badly on the tests, the school gets less funding and it's harder to teach students to pass the test. A private company of course creates and administers the expensive testing, which is paid for by the schools and maybe the parents.

And maybe the schools can be graded on the curve -- meaning that no matter how well they do, still somebody has to come in last.

Meanwhile, schools where the tuition is paid by the parents don't have to do any of that. And to be fair the legislature send those schools a lot of money too....

278:

"This stuff is a lot woolier than it looks from the Scientific
American article. They found a fungus that destroys lignin today,
..."

Such fungi have been known since before lignin was identified, and
there are a lot of them! Some of them have large and identifiable
fruiting bodies; others are fungi imperfecti. No, I don't have a
clue of the biochemistry (or biochemistries?) they use. The authors
may have grounds for their belief, but wild and woolly is a fair
description of any claims that we know the evolution for certain.

279:

She was better at making puzzles for other people than figuring out puzzles herself. (Severian's verdict on Agia.)

I am not saying that Cat in a Diamond is doing this or has those same limitations. I am wary that I am being drawn into a horoscope/tarot type maze where I am encouraged to fit a pattern to my own concerns. Whatever pattern I choose: sorry that was the wrong answer. Try again. (Bonus points: since whatever pattern I matched means something to me, I will feel self-conscious about being wrong; being wrong means there is something defective about me. I am too short to take this ride, etc. Hacking our private Impostor Syndromes, not very nice.)

There's a reason why we fall into conventions of communication. And yes, part of is that we are too dumb or too busy to do the work it takes to read a clever post. In an environment where people can seriously believe you might be paranoid about the metric system, it's best to keep your prose linear and in this place footnoted, apparently.

280:

I think Peter Watts had it about right in Blindsight

"Imagine that you encounter a signal. It is structured, and dense with information. It meets all the criteria of an intelligent transmission. Evolution and experience offer a variety of paths to follow, branch-points in the flowcharts that handle such input. Sometimes these signals come from conspecifics who have useful information to share, whose lives you'll defend according to the rules of kin selection. Sometimes they come from competitors or predators or other inimical entities that must be avoided or destroyed; in those cases, the information may prove of significant tactical value. Some signals may even arise from entities which, while not kin, can still serve as allies or symbionts in mutually beneficial pursuits. You can derive appropriate responses for any of these eventualities, and many others.

You decode the signals, and stumble:

I had a great time. I really enjoyed him. Even if he cost twice as much as any other hooker in the dome—

To fully appreciate Kesey's Quartet—

They hate us for our freedom—

Pay attention, now—

Understand.

There are no meaningful translations for these terms. They are needlessly recursive. They contain no usable intelligence, yet they are structured intelligently; there is no chance they could have arisen by chance.

The only explanation is that something has coded nonsense in a way that poses as a useful message; only after wasting time and effort does the deception becomes apparent. The signal functions to consume the resources of a recipient for zero payoff and reduced fitness. The signal is a virus.

Viruses do not arise from kin, symbionts, or other allies.

The signal is an attack.

And it's coming from right about there."

281:

I think many are finally seeing the wood for the trees.

Time to get off the bridge and put down the sign.

(Sorry, I know I'm still being opaque, but hopefully not completely!)

282:

"In an environment where people can seriously believe you might be paranoid about the metric system..."

In fairness to the one person who thought this, "United States customary units" did take out the Mars Climate Orbiter.

283:

Mr. Stross, considering your record for coming up with ideas for stories that seem to come about right when said stories get published, are you SURE you want to go this route?!

284:

Well, if something he writes has to come true, better this than the Laundry. I think. Sure, the iron boot stamping on your face forever is not an attractive prospect, but there's always the faint hope it will one day get better.

285:

I suggest that the act of not warping reality into ever less pleasant forms could easily be monetized.

286:

The point I was trying to get at is that large objects are easy to see and small ones don't really matter.

My point is that we can't detect things below a size that is still big enough to wreak havoc.

And my point about the poles is that a big rock (but still smaller than we can easily detect) might eliminate the debates about what if there is significant melting at the poles.

287:

Minor havoc. Impressive and locally devastating but fairly middle of the road as natural disasters go.

288:

"It can't be by mistake that most politicians have a legal background, and that laws they create are such a complex mess, and that courts are so user hostile that lawyers are needed to navigate the structure."

Not sure whether this is/was true ... but heard that 30 or 40 years ago when a lot of US firms started cutting major trade deals with Japan, the Japanese insisted that the U.S. lawyers stay home. (To bring lawyers was to say you did not trust or that you were not trustworthy.) Then again, some census stats suggest that the U.S. is not overly encumbered by lawyers. For example, Israel ranked first with 585 attorneys per 100,000 residents in 2010, but only 43rd in the number of judges. (Which may help explain the state of the Knesset, therefore supports your argument.)

FYI --- New York State has the most active cases/law suits: something like 9,000 per pop of 100,000. Which suggests that quite a few New Yorkers are living up to popular media portrayals, i.e., in-your-face confrontational.

What I haven't found (didn't look hard/long enough - no time, sorry!) is how the average number of lawsuits by age group, gender, socio-economic status is trending.


Anyways, my point is that it is not only the number of lawyers but what these lawyers are doing most of their time. And, how the legal marketplace might spillover to other parts of society. For example, whether the glut of lawyers in any way contributed to the housing bubble ... 'For a limited time only: a two-for-one special on real estate and mortgage deals!' or for senior-seniors 'DNRs and wills'.


John Oliver (British comedian with a U.S. comedy/political satire show) did a ramble about the IRS where he names State legislatures as the most out of control, legislation-passing frenzied bodies. The Feds are sane in comparison.


Cantina variant of Cliff (Cheers) and/or Julia (SeveNeveS)


289:

There's nothing wrong with Imperial or even USA units, if used
consistently and correctly. The problem is that they weren't.
But did you know that the inch changed size between when I started
school and now? :-)

290:

I find more similarity with a local quote

"Sister Seventh was much given to making such gnomic pronouncements, perhaps in the naive hope that it would gain her a reputation for vision "

291:

In over my head but will give it a try nonetheless ...re: fishing vs. mineral extraction etc.

Okay, I get that metal mining/extraction means once it's out of the ground it's gone for good. (Unless you consider recycling a la China ..)

As per Charlie ... Fishing requires a minimum critical mass to always be around otherwise an entire species can collapse/go extinct. Given that the Barcode of Life project has identified/labeled all sorts of fish species, the increasing computational capabilities of smart phones (web connection) which is getting cheaper all the time, it shouldn't take too long for a new technology to become available to measure the relative density of certain fish species via 'dna readers'.


How to implement: I'm guessing that a system of buoys already exists in several parts of the oceans/seas as part of tsunami/meteorological data collection. Adding on a dna reader wouldn't cost too much and fish data could then be piggy-backed to the relevant institutions/universities in real-time. Apart from over-fishing, such a monitoring system could also check for toxic sludge being dumped by tankers thereby identifying/slamming the perps, etc. (My personal bias is in favor of academics doing the oversight, data collection, analysis. It's what they do/are expert in anyways. Moreover, academics are less likely to distort the meaning of data.)


Now - how can one find a silver lining in all this? For one, this would mean cheaper, real-time status of all things living in the oceans. Next, we'd have to do this for all oceans ... recall that the Indian Ocean is a large unknown (Malaysia flight 370 still not located). Probably equally true for other parts of other oceans. There are a lot of empty very big ships sitting around in ship graveyards ... re-purpose them to conduct these scans (data collection), as movers/restockers of fish stock from one ocean to another, or even as (semi-) floating fish nurseries.

As for 'solutions' that transmogrify into dire scenarios ... I think that this can happen at any time whenever you have a system that relies on only one input for measurement, therefore for correction. At a minimum you should have two opposing inputs in order to achieve homeostasis. (Sorta like using interest rates as the opposing side/metric for money?)

However, I'm guessing that in anything that's living (or is made up of living things, or that houses a very large number of on-going transactions/activity) the actual overall mega-systems are very complex, i.e., that there's something like a hundred different mutually-opposing balancing acts going on simultaneously. What makes the transmogrification of an okay-idea into a death spiral likelier is that humans tend to focus on 'large' and 'fast' ... so anything that looks comparatively small tends to get ignored/dismissed, same with anything that seems very slow moving (a distant tsunami).

So, if you want to really bugger up the works, think small/trivial. Someone already mentioned water and land/dirt, and there's also air - we've mostly stopped using CFCs and coal plants are being shut down (sorta).

What about germs? - There's already some research that says we need some types of germs in order to function and stay healthy. At the same time, there's an increase in some types of pathogens. So the scenario for the ultimate screw-up is to wipe out certain types of agricultural germs so thoroughly that people will thereafter have to spend massive amounts of money on specially developed supplements. (These would probably come from remote villages where specially designed trucks would regularly empty out the local outhouse .. and charge locals very low rates in the name of bringing better sanitation to the less economically advantaged.)

292:

So you're >85? (Wikipedia says the BSI first standardised the inch as 25.4mm in 1930.) Even so, it's changed size thrice in your lifetime, and once in mine, and continues to vary due to uncertainties in the definition of the second. (And okay, I had to look this up and it was interesting to find out.)

A quick skim of the report on the Mars Climate Orbiter suggests the underlying problem was bad management; the MCO was sending back telemetry that indicated the mistake. Anyway, reconciling calculations done in different reference systems is a fact of life.

293:

"The point I was trying to get at is that large objects are easy to see and small ones don't really matter."

My point is that we can't detect things below a size that is still big enough to wreak havoc.

You have a good point. I don't think it relates to the original claim, though. They say that if some alien society has nukes and a space program, and they aren't prone to nuclear wars or nuclear accidents, and a meteorite incident comes up that might kill them off or something like that, which they have time to prepare for, then those nukes are useful to divert the meteor.

If a smaller meteor hits them and doesn't destroy their nuclear or space capabilities, then they can still be ready for the big one.

Of course, all that readiness with nukes does cost them. If they instead put that effort into basic research they might find a better cheaper way to divert meteors. The chance of a catastrophic meteor that they could prepare for within the next 100 years is very very small. The chance they will get a lot of value out of 100 years of research is probably larger. So it depends.

294:

Nope. A mere 67. Look a bit further, and discover that the
international (including in the Commonwealth) inch definition
changed in 1959, and the BSI was out of step with the law for
nearly 30 years :-) Given that the difference was under 1 ppm,
and all British scientists used metric units, anyway, few people
noticed!

Incidentally, there was one year (more recently) when the gummint
forgot to renew the daylight saving order, and the country ran on
an illegal time until they fixed it.

295:

That was an Imperial entanglement. The metric system has yet to reveal its endgame, but it will be bloody, cruel and instigated by the Dutch. Watch the ferries, not the Chunnel, mark my words.
---unused footage from Garth Marenghi on "Man to Man"

296:

I could imagine cooperation between supermarkets, health insurance companies, the companies that collect the residential garbage and government. This assumes that all packaging will carry RFID with an added benefit.
Every package will contain an unique id chip.

The supermarket sells you products. It collects the information on who buys what. The health insurance companies buy this information to assess your lifestyle and adjust the monthly bill, which will most likely be higher for poor people because on average they choose foods that are not very good for you.
I'm going to assume that it will become law that evry trashcan must have an RFID scanner. Every trashcan will scan what goes into that can. The garbage collector reads out every trashcan when it is emptied. Because government makes it mandatory for those companies to hand over all info that every garbagecan collects it can check if you don't litter.
At the end of the year you will receive a fine for every piece of garbage that you didn't dispose of in an appropriate manner. Since people with small children often are strapped for cash and forementioned children haven't yet learned how the system works and are likely to litter they be be hit harder than Dual Income No Kids households. Another convenience is that every piece of garbage leaves a trail of where you the buyer were a the time of disposal of the crispbag or beercan. Now if you trew away that beercan in an area where drinking in public is not allowed it's going to cost you money. The fine will be mailed the minute the trashcan receives the unique code for that beercan, registered to your name. So you have to become pretty neurotic about where you dump your waste. Just an extra bit of misery courtesy of your favorite lawmaker.

297:

Regarding nuclear weapons and asteroid deflection again: There is a possible scenario in which we get very little warning of an incoming continent-buster, without spending enormous amounts of resources on detection systems - needing space capability that might well make the problem moot anyway.

Simply, consider the scenario in which a new comet comes in from the outer darkness (Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud), but crucially comes in from the other side of the Sun so that we can't see the thing until it's already well on its way. In such a case, we might well have a week or less to respond. Which means that, as a minimum, one needs nuclear weapons and missiles in kit form, ready to put together. Nukes might not be able to do the job, but with such a short lead time they are probably the only method that might have a chance.

Incidentally, the fact of the object being in a cometary orbit makes such an object being more dangerous as well - being two or three times faster than a typical asteroid.

298:

Interesting scenario ... I'd like to build onto it, if you don't mind ...

Enter the fast-food chains with their existing extensive distribution, whole-family appeal, low priced food, bathrooms for customers, and still accept cash. Therefore no paper trail ... of any kind.


299:

I've been thinking about how to address people using cash; how can that be combined with gratuitous evil?

Logically cash registers, starting with self checkout stands, will soon include cameras. Make up your own excuse why, maybe so the unit can offer stupid advice on how to put groceries into a bag. Once those are in place the system can run facial recognition software and start tracking the regular customers.

Of course it only needs to connect your face to a name once and it will remember you forever. Expect that it will be at least version 2.0 before the register is able to recognize the shape of a wallet and try to read your ID cards while you pull out money...

300:

Cash is traceable in any event, at least if it hasn't been out of a bank for too long. (All notes have serial numbers, right?

If that isn't enough, most banknotes these days are rather complicated; adding passive RFID chips to them wouldn't add much more complication. This could be sold as a forgery prevention strategy, of course.

Similarly, an increasing proportion of bank cards have remotely-accessible chips in them for use in contactless payment. The possibilities of that are obvious.

301:

I could imagine cooperation between supermarkets, health insurance companies, the companies that collect the residential garbage and government. This assumes that all packaging will carry RFID with an added benefit.
Every package will contain an unique id chip.

Funny how context changes what is deemed evil and not-so-evil. Yeah, this scheme seems pretty much made for abuse on Earth. But in space? I'm guessing that in the Colonies this sort of thing is just par for the course for the obvious reasons and not evil at all. No citizen would think to question the essential rightness of this and similar policies.

Yet another reason why you really wouldn't want to live on a space colony.

302:

People spend easier when they pay with a card than they do with cash. Big business with equally big budgets might divert some money from commercials to lobbying. In this case to do away with cash. Cash is bad for business. Therefore it must go! Cash is already such a tiny part of all the money going around that you might as well do away with it.
And there is money to be made with every electronic transaction.

The BBC made a series called 'The men who made us spend' (download at kickass torrents). In one of the programs the difference between paying with cash and card is explained. Handing over cash activates the same parts of your brain that deal with pain. No such activation with a card. Spending must be a pleasurable experience. So you keep doing it. 'Don't worry, be happy!'

303:

While I agree that digital currency is taking over, cash is the only universal currency you can safely transact with when the power/system goes down, and whose balance is unlikely to be changed via a remote attack. (Mugging, yes; remote attack, no.)


There's money to be made in getting people to not spend money ... an app on their credit/debit card that captures and displays (graphs) their expenditures and balances as soon as they take the card out of their wallet, potentially dampening the spend impulse.


However, we no longer need debit/credit cards as everything can now be done using a smartphone. This means that the credit/debit card industry might be coming to an end. Let's face it: it would be fairly easy to run an app on a smartphone that automatically tracked spending and account balances, ideally against some weekly/monthly/annual budgets for various types of spending. (Google banking?) To get initial compliance, you'd probably need to ding people with 'good news' (reward them) for looking at this data, so maybe need a user loyalty program. Considering that smartphone usage is also growing among kids ... you could educate kids from a very early age on how to budget/manage their allowance.


'Money for nothing' opportunities: small stuff that is hard to check on/verify. One of the best such scams I ever heard of was just before 2012: pet-watching insurance to end-times believers convinced that the end times were near, that is, that they would shortly ascend/be transported into the rapture. Basically, this particular entrepreneur reminded folks that pets would not ascend and since s/he was an unbeliever neither would s/he. So for a small fee, s/he promised to look after the true believers' pets. (This might have started out as a joke, but apparently turned out into a moneymaker.)

304:

There's money to be made in getting people to not spend money ... an app on their credit/debit card that captures and displays (graphs) their expenditures and balances as soon as they take the card out of their wallet, potentially dampening the spend impulse.


DAMPENING THE SPEND IMPULSE?!
Remember, our local benevolent dictator asked for misery for all.
Being a debt slave is misery so that's where we want to be. I have met people that were about half my age, i'm 48, who had debts in the 10's of thousands. Not yens or zimbabwean dollars but euro's. That's a pretty miserable state to be in from what I understand. Poorly educated, low income and still the spending impulse persists. A lot of people make more money out of these people because they need HELP. Guidance, training and what not but it's all useless because from the first moment they could comprehend anything at all they have been trained to be consumers.

So what we want is their phone, who is already their best pal in life (get a new and improved pal every 2 years with your new contract), to make it easier to trigger that behaviour. Spend first, trigger those empty happy feelings, suffer later and don't understand why it happens again and again.
Sounds good to me! :)

305:

Sorry, just got back from vacation, but I'm still seriously bothered by the initial premise.

I mean, seriously, has anyone talked to people dealing with waste issues? I've got a close relative who's on a county solid waste committee, and I get an earful after every meeting.

The problem with trash is that most of the valuable stuff is already recycled with some efficiency, and the rest is pretty valueless. It's the basic Maxwell's Demon problem of reversing entropy, but it's expressed as mixed glass, mixed paper, food waste, and medical waste. RFIDs are just another layer of entropy in the recycling mix.

For example, back 50-100 years ago, the bottle manufacturers made a few regular bottles, and everyone recycled them, because they could be cleaned, relabeled and resold a number of times. Now that bottle shape has become part of the marketing strategy, the bottles have to be remade. It's okay if there's clear glass with clear, brown with brown, and other color sorting, but one you've pulverized it, it's only good as a concrete additive, due to the chemical impurities (like cobalt blue) that tinted the glass in the first place.

Did anyone mention there's a silica sand shortage? Wired wrote about that last month. So many of the usable deposits have been mined out, there's a booming illegal industry supplying sand for concrete and computer chips.

Anyway, it gets worse with mixed paper. Occasionally there's enough of a market that it's worth recycling. More often, it's effectively worthless, and it costs more to ship it anywhere than it does to recycle it, so into the landfill it goes. Add RFIDs and it becomes even less recyclable. All you end up doing is landfiling a bunch of RFID chips that make the paper even less valuable than it already is.

As for evil, organized crime has dealt with waste disposal for years, and while I won't openly accuse the major industrial waste disposers of being criminal, they are large corporations engaged in maximizing profits... They don't need RFIDs to be evil. They're waaay past that.

Now, if you want a truly evil plan, what you need to do is commercialize mycoconcrete, that wonderful stuff made by growing Gandoderma and other fungi on cellulose substrates. The mycelia, properly treated, can be a half-way decent concrete replacement that will last decades (much like reinforced concrete, I might add). The evil part comes not from dumping loads of RFID chips into the trash, but from the money to be made diverting the mixed paper waste stream into the construction business to make up for the sand that's getting increasingly expensive because silica sand is in increasingly smaller supplies and higher demand, because it's used for both concrete and computer chips. It's evil, because, of course, we're linking development to waste management, and neither industry is particularly well known for its incredibly high standard of ethics or morals. Moreover, there's little data on how well the mycelia break down contaminants in the waste paper stream, and the fungi involved do cause allergies. But, hey, those are all minor technical issues, right?

So let's tell all the cities with overflowing landfills that, with our miraculous new building material, we can divert a big part of their waste stream into making "perfectly safe" new building materials, so that they can continue developing. There's billions of dollars to be made here. What could possibly go wrong?

306:

"That was an Imperial entanglement."

So a case of the Empire Strikes Back?

(I somehow failed to see Man to Man, but Darkplace was a little slice of perfect.)

307:

I initially presumed you meant 1959. Then I thought I'd tease you about 1930. Then I thought I better change to a more respectful tone in case your handle was accurate!

I can't determine what legal force the 1930 standardisation carried. But I have a new favourite standard: ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility. (Opening heading, "What is social responsibility?" That's Thatcher's legacy right there.) Or maybe my favourite is SA8000 Social Accountability - Ensure your workers are getting a fair deal. I'm forwarding a copy to Dave "the strike banner" Cameron.

Also, as evil plans go, selling businesses a copy of a standard they must adhere to, is pretty good. You just don't read many novels about the owners of businesses struggling against red tape (I seem to recall Greg Bear making a similar point in the introduction to Heads.); I guess Ayn Rand poisoned that well. And Atlas said, "Meh!"

308:

I seem to remember a Jerry Pournell book about struggles with red tape and I think there was something about archologies but the rest of it is gone. That's what happens when you read a couple of hundred books a year for 40 years.

309:

"That's what happens when you read a couple of hundred books a year for 40 years."

Keep notes. I've lapsed. But I've suddenly discovered how useful it is: I have off-line opinions on books I can't remember reading!

I noodled round Enc.Sf but couldn't find any thematic discussion that covers running a company.

310:

and now for a completely different idea for misery:

do an aptitude test on children when they are ~ 8 years old, and choose their occupation from that no matter whether they like it or not.

Unhappy and unwilling practitioners from supermarket checkout to surgeons, that has potential.

All if the name of more efficiency for the educational system, of course.

311:

This thread leaves me feeling rather optimistic. All our ideas are about monitoring externalities and charging for them. And even there, there isn't much left that doesn't already happen. Maybe we're insufficiently evil. Or maybe the 21st Century won't be about rent seeking.

Of course, we could still see the entrenching of inequality: the rich will be able to pay for genetic screening and then the drugs and the diets that get the best out of their bodies, while arguing they shouldn't pay the taxes that enable the poor to receive the same benefits. If we let them get away with it, the rich really will be the best. But that's a different problem to rent-seeking and one that's easier to tackle, if we have the will.

312:

There's something like that in Philip K Dick's Our Friends From Frolix 8. Except they test for psychic powers and superintelligence, and the best jobs go to those who are psychic or superintelligent.

But, yeah, this could happen as we begin to unravel the genetic basis of intelligence - even if we only find a complex of genes that improve, say, concentration or spatial reasoning or memory recall. And some of that could be counteracted by drugs, no doubt...

313:

Dave_the_Proc is selling the story that I'm merely trolling; others feel under attack (Blindside); others feel irked that they're missing bits etc.

Dave_the_Proc feels validated that his version of reality has 'won', which is very very cute:

1) I'm not trolling, quite the opposite. Good faith links in most threads and useful data.

2) Regarding YouTube links etc - there's an expectation that you'll read the post / hard data while processing the cultural nods, watching the videos and boogeying along to the music all at the same time. As stated, I've very much toned this down, the usual expectation would be a tripartite flow (visual - word / semantic processing - audiovisual) with only a thematic link between them, the parts forming a greater whole.

I can also understand that many regulars here (40+ demographic weighted) simply hit the net etc too late for this modal way of processing data to be ingrained.

3) CD's remarks just annoy me, because there is a diminishing amount of actual information there.
Or so it seems
: view it from my perspective. Look up your ancient Aztec Goddesses if you missed the way it was going to go (quite a clear signal to the local God that things were going to get ideologically messy). Let's just say a mirror is always useful.

Oh, and evil plan?

You already have to pay for this to make sense of it all (be it Stratfor, Buy into Power Blocks, intel, humint etc); in the future the upgrade pack won't be offered. (Death of Hope)


Adam Curtis: "Oh Dear"

Length: 5:09
Relevance: High
Subject: Geopolitical power / data and modern Governance in bit sized dualism and an accent that breeds trust.

However, since the crowd are dowdy, I'll play nicer.

314:

Tlazolteotl is also a Goddess of filth, as well as purification, which given the focus on waste of the OpEd was a little bit clever in my mind. You'll probably need the concept of "sin eater" as well.

It's not mystical, it's merely a crossword puzzle.


But sure, I'm a troll under the bridge, if that makes you happier in your own skin, Dave.

315:

And, for a final flourish since no-one is reading.

@Host (since many of your readers won't get the meta-meta snark that was going on):

Metafilter can produce a 2,000+ comments and MetaTalk hernia over lower back tattoos on the female body (including at least three bans, and one or two voluntary permanent closings - with no-one stating the sane opinion that "Yes, it's culturally designated as this sexist thing, but we can change it", they do love their witch burnings) but can only manage 18 replies to a thread about the state of the Oceans, and 50% of those are about restaurants or bad info about how "sardines are like totally cool to eat, yo!"

http://www.metafilter.com/150043/Fishy

And that is why you get to watch the Oceans die. Narcissists.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWNWi-ZWL3c

316:

Uh, Mods? I think someone is trying to get your attention.

317:

Uh, Mods? I think someone is trying to get your attention.

Umm, I think if you can parse the Aztec Goddess vibe, you'll probably see this entire thread differently?


It's hilarious if you do.

Hint: it was predicated and predicted and all the little boys played their tunes.

318:

I'm not 40+ (not even 30+) and I don't think you're a troll, having followed the comments I do think you seem to not care about making yourself understood. The onus isn't just on the person you're talking to to figure out what you're saying. If you don't care about being easily understood then that's fine except by replying to people in a manner that suggests they're too dumb/old/lazy to figure out what you mean you're not contributing to a friendly forum for discussion. Instead people are bound to get frustrated and feel antagonised (for all I know you feel that way yourself) which, if not exactly trolling, is reminiscent enough to be in the same fantasy genus.

319:

Back in 1992, me and a mate who read Robert Anton Wilson a lot had a chat. Our well-grounded friend interrupted us to say "I understand all the words and phrases you're using, but you're not making any sense".

Talking from private knowledge.

There's a whole thing in RD Laing where he suggest schizophrenic ward conversations consist of people talking to each other of things that other people don't have reference points for.

HP Lovecraft. Laundry.

These days, I see CD as playing a Culture Mind interacting with pre-Intervention humans. It started out well, but there is no communication via YouTube videos.

320:

but there is no communication via YouTube videos.

Please play this in the background while reading this post


When data is processed, organized, structured or presented in a given context so as to make it useful, it is called information.

Data -> Information -> Knowledge.

It depends on how you view YouTube. It's currently massive amounts of noise drowning out signal, but...

Imagine a theoretical library (of Babel) of audio / visual culture where you can splice / segment any and all songs, film etc and use it for mimetic purposes. Your mind needs the reference, you go grab the segment you require and so on and so forth. The Platonic ideal is of course far from the reality. To reference some (out of date and horribly ancient) Jung, hacking the collective unconscious for tools.

Of course, at the moment doing this is like knapping flint to make a steel sword, but the point is there. So: it's communication, but not one you understand yet.

Two things:

1) I really wasn't joking about visual - semantic - audio as tripartite systems. 3 x 3 is the usual (think matrices) standard (and if you know your I.M.Banks, you'll spot a thread, ahem in his language choice). (c.f. V.Woolf, Between the Acts for an unusually early but mature presentation of it).

2) There's absolutely things swimming in the ocean of the mind(s) that are designed to squish minds like ours from Being. (c.f. Heidegger, Being and Time, the ontological fold between Being and beings).


Your picture for this post

321:

I am going to give the youtube way a try anyway because the reactions of catinadiamond (is that you Carole ?) remind me of:

Primus

And this is the first and last post ever concerning cat's.

322:

The problem with this is that music (and in some cases pictures) is a very noisy communication, pun intended. The manner in which you interpret it and the meaning you think it gives to the rest of your message is in no way guaranteed to be the same as anyone else. The same simple tune can mean ten things to ten people, ditto art that isn't just a simple illustration.

323:

The manner in which you interpret it and the meaning you think it gives to the rest of your message is in no way guaranteed to be the same as anyone else. The same simple tune can mean ten things to ten people, ditto art that isn't just a simple illustration.

This is true.

But you've read some of the comments. Do you think that adding music and pictures that will mean ten things to ten people, will make the meaning *less* clear?

325:

Ok, Ryan.

The OpEd by host is called: The Evil Business Plan of Evil (and misery for all)


My last post contained:

1) Communication Breakdown by Led Zepplin (you'll probably want to check the lyrics and the list of songs on the album, esp. the next one and the iconography of the Hindenburg. This is how its done, and why Rob "gets it".)

2) Quotation on the differences between data, information and knowledge.

3) Library (of Babel) and YouTube.

4) One literature reference - V. Woolf.

5) One philosophy reference: Heidegger.

6) Picasso's Guernica (you might also want to look into the ironies of its current placement and when it was covered up).


Now, it's obvious to me what the meaning is. Give it a shot.

326:

Catina.
Communication is a two way process. It takes work by both sides. If you want to communicate the fact that you are a strange and knowledgeable person your previous posts have established that. Your last post explaining a previous one shows that it wasn't worth the trouble of deciphering it. Try just writing instead of meta/meta/meta etc communication. I have clicked on your links and found them mostly unhelpful. I can't stand having other peoples music forced on me - it's like being in a shopping precinct and particularly annoying if (as in the case of Led Zeppelin) it's music I like.
If I sound like an awkward old man it's because I am one (66). But so far I have found very little of use from any of your posts.

327:

And Catina, there are those of us that literally get nothing from music except the lyrics.

Speaking as one of the literally amusical here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amusia

And for the curious, its congenital, not acquired and runs in my dad's side of the family.

328:

Ah yes, amusia. My wife has been taking part in some studies at Goldsmiths College in London on amusia. She's not herself amusic, but is one of their controls.

As an example, they'll play a sequence of randomly created notes three times, with one iteration having one note that is oh-so-very-slightly different from the other two, and ask her which sequence was different. She could do that down to a seventh of a semi-tone. That's in laboratory conditions in an anechoic room so well sound insulated you can hear your heartbeat in your ears.

And they've done fMRI scans on her brain, to contrast with those they've done on Amusia sufferers, to try to see if they can see any difference there.

Last I heard, they're still trying to work out what quirk, or quirks, can cause it.

329:

(NB: created an account because I wanted in on this conversation. Judge that as you will.)

So, I did as you indicated, listened to the Led Zep song while reading your post. First chorus is at the line about "knapping flint to make a steel sword." The guitar solo started just as I clicked the Guernica link. Average adult reading speed is 250-300 words per minute, the post is 234 words, the solo starts at 1:25. I don't think I get it. Maybe I read too slowly.

I'm honestly curious what you're trying to tell us though. The environmental stuff at least makes sense to me. We all like to think we're good people - right, everyone? - but within the social frameworks we've constructed, we work much more harm than good, all told.

("Good people" drive all over the place in cars. Future generations will pay for that. Contrary to the Talmud, saving one life is not saving the world.)

BTW, it seems to me that people are pissed at you because you're accusing them of being unethical on the large scale. Which is correct, but nobody likes to admit complicity in evil. Kind of like my own reaction to feminist logic, way back when. I was offended because it was right, and I was wrong. (Charlie might remember calling me out on that, much to my embarrassment.)

I'd say give it time, but

A) As none other than Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out, a lot of people die waiting for justice to happen

B) With the biosphere falling apart under our idiotic stewardship, time may be exactly what we don't have

The problem is, I'm not seeing a solution at this point. Individually the problems could be solved, but combined I just don't see how.

When I was a kid I hoped humanity would survive the death of the Sun. These days, I still hope, but I feel like we'd be lucky to last another century.

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