Fixing the NBA

Just a quick fun little post of a thought I had.

What if each of the 30 teams played each other team twice, one at home, one away. That would be a 58 game season. Always have at least 1 day off between games.

Rank the teams 1-30 based on w/l percentage.

Eliminate the bottom 14 leaving you with 16 for the playoff round.

Divide the 16 into 4 pools. A random team finishing 1-4 goes to poll A, one to pool B, etc. Same with teams finishing 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16.

Teams in each pool play home and home against the others adding 6 more games for each team. Winner of pool A plays 2nd place in pool B, etc. 3rd and 4th place finishers are done. Those series are best of 5.

Pairs of remaining winners play best of 7 and then a final series is best of 7.

Meanwhile the bottom 14 teams have their own tournament to determine the draft order with the winner getting first pick.

The only thing that protects our rights

Scenario: a would-be tyrant issues executive orders calling for “patriotic” state agents to take “extraordinary measures” to defend the country from [insert your favourite bogeyman here]. As a result, the supreme court suddenly has some vacancies which are filled by similarly “patriotic” judges. Constitutional protections are subject to their rulings and case law quickly develops to permit “reasonable limits” on these protected rights. A careful strategy of jurisdiction and judge shopping quickly expands the limits contained in these binding supreme court decisions. By the end of the tyrant’s first term, your constitution is no better protector of your rights than was the constitution of the Soviet Union or any other dictatorship.

In Canada our constitutionally “protected” rights are already entirely subject to the whim of the Prime Minister. If his party holds a majority of seats in Parliament, which is possible to achieve with as little as about 30% of the vote, which translates into about 20% support from all eligible voters, he can use the “notwithstanding clause” (section 33) to enact whatever he wants, notwithstanding the fact that it violates these rights. Further, section 1 makes all rights subject to “reasonable limits” opening the door our supreme court often walks through to justify limits on basic individual rights to expand the power of the state and the special rights of politically powerful interests.

The idea that the right to bear arms is any protection against the state’s erosion of individual liberty flies in the face of two facts. One, the history of the state’s success in incrementally eroding these rights to the point where it can confiscate almost 50% of our property in taxes and tell us what we can do and not do with the other 50% and people still sing the praises of living in a “free country”. Second, the matchless firepower of the state vs the unorganized and mostly submissive population would (and does) make short work of any rebellion. The US, where this right is most strongly entrenched, falls far down the list of the freest countries in the world giving more support to the argument that this right is not an effective deterrent to the state.

The only effective protection for individual rights is the same as it’s always been, and it is weaker now than at any time in history, although it will not remain that way for long. That is, a frontier, an alternative, an escape. We’ve almost always been able to vote with our feet and simply leave an oppressive state. Europeans did when they migrated to the new world. Oppressed groups in America were able to flee to the west. Offshore tax havens allowed people to protect their property by taking advantage of states jealous of their sovereignty.

Increasingly, technological progress is enabling us to transfer more and more of our lives, economic and social, to the virtual world where the physical coercion upon which political power depends is difficult to exercise. Cyberspace is the new frontier. The state’s fear of a mass migration to cyberspace is the only real protection for our rights. Ultimately it will be our only refuge as history shows that state power only ever increases. But when the level of online economic interaction outside state control inevitably reaches a critical point, the state will collapse. Hopefully when the state system falls it will be like how the iron curtain fell and not in a manner that takes our technological civilization down with it. I am hopeful.

That law which cometh of evil

Here’s a couple of articles I don’t want to lose track of. Both by Connor Boyack. The first was written in 2013 entitled, “The Lord’s Leaders are Fallible — And That’s Okay”. The comment I left on that article was as follows:

Thank you for this article. It strikes me as thoroughly enlightened and reasonable. Like you I sustain the leadership of the Church even while acknowledging that they are all human and prone to error, though far less often than I. That they sometimes err gives me hope that I too may err and yet still, for the most part, obtain truth and find favour in God’s sight.

The more recent one is entitled, “Why Does My Church Oppose Medical Marijuana?“. I agree with the author in that I believe the position taken by the Church leadership is wrong. I could couch that in many and varied ways but it would all amount to a cowardly way to state this unpleasant truth. Unpleasant but only unpleasant and I refer myself back to Boyack’s earlier article for the reason why “that’s ok”.

I am not as enamored with the beneficial properties of marijuana as Boyack seems to be but I am not nearly as well read on the issue. My position is that basic individual rights are being eroded by the state and this is contrary to the will of God as clearly recorded in scripture. It is not in man that we should place our trust and certainly not in that evil institution, the state. The state was not ordained of God. Government was, but only such government as protects individual rights. No modern state is governed according to that principle, if indeed there ever was one. Perhaps Israel in the time of the judges or the Nephite theocracies. Today our duty is to live the law of God and forsake evil.

Boyack states, “Church scripture holds that anything ‘more or less’ than the Constitution ‘cometh of evil.'” Not quite. In Doctrine and Covenants 98, to which Boyack is referring, the Lord is speaking of the ‘law of the land’ (v.4). He does also qualify it by saying He is talking about the law ‘which is constitutional’ (v.5) but he expands on that. It is not whether it is constitutional per se that matters but whether it ‘supports that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges’ that makes it ‘justifiable before me’ (v.5). Further, such law as this ‘belongs to all mankind’ (v.5), a phrase which I believe puts to rest the Americocentric fixation on their constitution as a uniquely inspired document. It may very well have been inspired, but only insofar as it ‘supports that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges’ and not a hair’s breath more. Neither is it any more inspired than any other document expressing as strong or stronger support for individual rights.

It is any law which does ‘more or less’ than support our rights and freedoms that ‘cometh of evil’. Regarding such the Lord commands that we ‘forsake all evil’ (v.11) and thus forsake all law that fails to uphold our rights and freedoms regardless of what infernal state claims sovereignty over us.

To forsake is to disengage insofar as is consistent with preserving such freedom as we can. It is NOT to engage in civil disobedience, let alone violence of any kind because violence is the realm of the state. Civil disobedience is a useless means of begging for scraps from the table of your acknowledged master’s table. Voting is even more useless but I can see it if only meant to show your utmost respect for someone who agrees with your principles though still harbours a naive belief that the state will ever allow itself to be dismantled from within. The virtue of person like that morally obligates you to vote for him. DC 98:10 sets the bar high for such an individual requiring that he be: 1) honest, 2) wise, and 3) good. One would be inclined to laugh through one’s tears contemplating how the only two candidates that America’s much-vaunted constitutional electoral process permitted any actual chance of winning their last Presidential election stacked up against those criteria. Rather they both more closely epitomized the dishonest, unwise and evil. It was a sin for anyone professing belief that DC 98 is the word of God to have voted for either of them. On the other hand, the virtue of a man like Ron Paul, running in the previous campaign, though hopelessly destined to fail, made voting for him nearly a moral requirement. Otherwise peaceful disengagement ought to be the norm for the faithful, freedom-loving individual.

Peaceful disengagement is entirely inconsistent with lobbying the state to employ force against someone based on which plants they consume.

Hitler did it – – – so what?

It has become fashionable to make fun of anyone who uses Hitler references in debate. The suggestion seems to be that such historical references were somehow made illegitimate merely due to the rarely paralleled depths of depravity to which Hitler’s “ethics” sank.

The fact that Hitler did something, anything, should make that thing suspect. He, and other tyrants, past and present, have forced kids to march in support of their causes. The state education system is now forcing kids to march in support of gun control. Any reasonable person would find that similarity worrying – certainly worrying enough to consider the implications within their historical context.

There’s a pattern here with this fashionable anti-anti-Hitler non-argument. Intelligence has been described in terms of pattern recognition. Higher intelligence not only recognizes a pattern but can extrapolate from that pattern to predict future behaviour – more cause for concern.

Entire books have been written on the things Hitler did, comparing them with things that states are doing now. Are these cautionary historical analysis somehow illegitimate because Hitler was such an archetypal tyrant? If he had been just a little evil then it would be ok to study his past in order to avoid making similar mistakes but because he was so evil we are to be castigated for drawing comparisons? Isn’t the study of history intended to be a means of avoiding past mistakes and repeating past success? By what principle would one then exclude history’s most egregious villains from among the mistakes to be avoided – unless of course one secretly admired much of what they did?

Talk about being stupid, simple, and intellectually lazy! I can’t think of a worse example of intellectual sloth than to NOT consider things done by evil people in the past and where those things lead. If you see a fire in a building we’re in, tell me, I want to know. If you see people acting like Hitler, tell me, I want to know that even more.

People Control

“Gun control” is a euphemism for people control. But guns are supposedly bad. They hurt people and so controlling guns is good right? But there’s still enough of us who believe that people are good that make “people control” a politically risky slogan, even if it is exactly what gun control advocates really mean when they spout their nonsense about gun control.

If you reasonably determine that a person poses a threat to the life, liberty, or property of you or another person, you are justified in initiating the reasonable use of force to eliminate the threat. In a free society, that is the only justification for denying someone the possession of a gun. If you believe most people are good and would not use a gun to threaten the life, liberty or property of another, then you are not justified in denying most people the possession of a gun. Which individuals constitute reasonable threats is a legitimate question. The mentally or morally would be obvious: the young, the old, the insane, the mentally ill. Possession of a gun by any who have acted violently in the past could be reasonably held to be threatening. Should a psychological test be administered to all who posses, or would possess guns? That might be too far as, in the absence of evidence, there is no basis for a reasonable apprehension of a threat and therefore no basis to require such a test. All others have the right to possess a gun.

Unless you advocate the initiation of violence as an appropriate means to an end. That seems like a very strange way to combat violence.

But if you believe people are bad then you can start with the assumption that they will do harm to others with a gun and denying them possession is justified. That is the fundamental belief of the left. People are evil and must be controlled. People are evil. Other people. Not the leftists who are enlightened enough to realize this and impose their goodness, by force, on the rest of society. They are good. They can be trusted with power. Absolute power.

Instances where those wielding absolute power, including gun control, engaged in mass killing.

Dzungar genocide, 1750s
Indian Removal, 1830s
California Genocide, 1848–1873
Circassian genocide, 1860s
Selk’nam genocide, 1890s–1900s
Herero and Namaqua genocide, 1904–1907
Greek genocide, 1914–1923
Assyrian genocide, 1914–1925
Armenian Genocide, 1915–1923
Libyan Genocide, 1923–1932
Soviet famine of 1932–33
Holodomor, 1931–1933
Kazakhstan, 1930–1933
Kalmyks, 1943
Chechens and Ingush, 1944
Crimean Tatars, 1944
Nazi Final Solution Porajmos, 1941-1945
Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles, 1941-1945
Nazi crimes against Soviet POWs, 1941-1945
Serbian genocide, 1941-1945
1971 Bangladesh genocide, 1971
Burundian genocides, 1972 & 1993
East Timorese genocide, 1974–1999
Cambodian genocide, 1975–1979
Guatemalan genocide, 1981–1983
Kurdish genocide, 1986–1989
Isaaq genocide, 1988–1989
Rwandan genocide, 1994
Bosnian genocide, 1992–1995
Srebrenica massacre, 1995
Darfur genocide, 2003–
Yazidi genocide, 2014-2017
Shia genocide, 2014-2017
Christian genocide, 2014-2017
Central African genocide. 1970-

These deaths number in the hundreds of millions. The number of deaths due to so-called “mass shootings” pale by comparison.

If the objective is to save people from being shot dead, the place to start is to deny possession of guns to the state.

The value of Bitcoin is real

The other day on Fox News there were three panellists discussing the record value of Bitcoin. One confessed that she had known nothing about Bitcoin until she read up about it as preparation for appearing on this panel. While she conveniently confessed her ignorance, that of her fellow panellists could be quickly and easily discerned from their comments. Here’s a short cut. Whenever you hear or read someone whose criticism of Bitcoin is based on it having “no intrinsic value” or not being “based on anything”, the safest thing you can do is to tune out or click on to something else.

All economic value is subjective. If I just drank a litre of water and I have a room full of water bottles, consider how much value one more water bottle would have to me. What would I be willing to give up (pay) for one more bottle of water? Now consider what I would pay for a bottle of water if I were out in the sun all day with nothing to drink and no other prospects for getting a drink other than to buy a bottle of water from you. The fact that our needs and wants change over time and differ from those of others is the fact that makes economic transactions possible.

If I go to a store and see a bottle of water priced at $1.99 does that mean that the value of the bottle is $1.99? Do you realize that if it did, no one would ever buy the bottle? If the $1.99 in my pocket was exactly the same value of the water bottle, why would I ever exchange one for the other? I’m not gaining any value so where’s my motivation? It’s only if, to me, the water is more valuable than $1.99 that I will buy it. I will be motivated to give up something of lesser value for something of greater value.

This is true of anything including traditional money, dollar bills, etc. “But these are backed by gold,” someone exclaims. Nonsense. Fifty years ago you you were theoretically (not practically) able to exchange money for gold but that’s long gone. Now it isn’t “backed” by anything. We value this money issued by the state, this fiat currency, because we have faith that other people also value it. I offer my $1.99 to the clerk and I know he will give me the water. Why? Because there’s a sticker price of $1.99 right on the bottle. That’s really an advertisement that the clerk, on behalf of the store owner, will accept an offer of $1.99 in trade for the bottle. He values the $1.99 more than the bottle (usually because he was able to purchase it for less than that and so he can earn a profit). I value the bottle more than the $1.99. So we agree to make the exchange because neither of us hold the value of the bottle to be $1.99 to us. The sales price is actually an arbitrary compromise that does not ever reflect the actual value of the item to either party.

So why do almost all of us almost always assign at least some value to fiat currency? Because it is a convenient way to facilitate other transactions. If I went shopping and all I had was a bottle of water I would need to find someone willing to trade something they had that I wanted to me in exchange for my bottle of water. Good luck, right? But if I had $1.99 I could buy something I wanted from anyone who was selling something for $1.99 or less. Many more possible transactions are open to me because of how widely accepted fiat currency is. Its value is as a convenient medium of exchange, as a facilitator of economic transactions.

That’s all equally true of Bitcoin and other crypto currencies. Bitcoin is what those who make Bitcoin transactions possible get paid for their work. They are called “miners” because with each transaction that their huge computer systems make possible, a tiny bit of new Bitcoin is created and they get it as a reward for making the transaction possible.

That’s how fiat currency works too. The state prints fiat currency and releases it into the economy through the banking system, debt repayments, etc. But it also uses some of the currency it prints to repay its own debts. So Just like the Bitcoin miner gets paid for facilitating the Bitcoin medium of exchange, the state gets paid something for facilitating the fiat currency medium of exchange.

But there’s a huge difference too. The state can print as much fiat currency as it wants. Tomorrow the state could print $100 trillion dollars and use the extra to pay off all its debts with “cheap money”. The only thing preventing the state from doing that is the political pressure not to let everyone’s money suddenly be worth almost nothing which is what would happen if there were so much of it in circulation.

That can’t happen with Bitcoin because there is a built-in mathematical formula that dictates how much new Bitcoin gets mined. In fact, it is an ever-decreasing amount because there is an absolute limit of 21 million Bitcoins. It is the decreasing supply coupled with an increasing demand that is fuelling the increase in the price of Bitcoin. The creation of Bitcoin is based on the objective criteria of actual work done to facilitate the medium of exchange (the blockchain). Whereas the creation of the state currency is at the whim of its central bank managers and politicians. They try to guess the right balance between printing too much and printing too little. Too much and we get inflation. Too little and we get depression. They can’t know all they need to know to make truly informed decisions about this and so we always teeter on the verge of economic dislocation (serious changes in the economy).

My wife quipped that rather than backed by gold, fiat currency is backed by debt, and she’s right. The decision about how much fiat currency to print is driven by the state’s interest in printing enough so that it can repay its massive debts with devalued money, tempered by its interest in avoiding the political consequences of inflation. The value you place in fiat currency represents your faith in the state’s ability to continue to perform this balancing act and avoid severe economic dislocations.

The value of Bitcoin requires no such faith in crystal ball gazing central planners. It is based on your own assessment of the value of a private, secure, anonymous, decentralized medium of exchange in the context of how likely it is that others will share your assessment of value. Sounds like the free market to me. So where do you place your trust? In the state, or in free people trading in a free market?

Free markets maximally employ knowledge disbursed among all individuals whereas central planners can only work with a fraction of that knowledge. The value you assign to fiat currency is a measure of your faith in the whim of the state’s central planners. The value you assign to Bitcoin is a measure of your trust in the free market. Whether it goes up or down, the value of Bitcoin represents something a lot more “real”.

Edit: This post was inspired by this discussion.

A dream within a dream

I just had an experience I want to make note of for its philosophical import. Steve Day and I were driving somewhere in my car discussing philosophy. At one point Steve asked me how I knew that this experience I was having at that moment was not a dream. After contemplating for a moment I replied that I knew it wasn’t a dream for two reasons. One was that nothing wacky was happening as it so often does in dreams. The second reason was a bit deeper.

I presume we have all had that experience, upon waking from a dream, of being somewhat amused, or at least surprised, at our own dream-state gullibility. How could our dream-self have seriously believed the dream was real when, recalling the dream now, it was clearly different in quality from “reality”. Not just because of the presence/absence of wacky components, but just because it seems that dreams are somehow shallower than real experiences.

Thinking about Steve’s question, the second reason I gave for my confidence that this experience was not a dream was that I had considered what I just explained in the paragraph above and I can tell the difference between what a dream feels like and what reality feels like and this experience was clearly a real one and not a dream.

Then I woke up.

The experience had been a dream. And in the dream I had thoughtfully, introspectively, considered the difference between dreams and reality and determined that the experience felt like the latter, not the former. If asked I would make the same assessment now of my experience writing this, just as I am sure you would of your experience of reading it. My dream suggests there is absolutely no justification for placing any confidence in such assessments. In fact …

Upon awaking I also realized that I had had at least one other dream through the night. It was also of the non-wacky variety – swimming at a beach in Florida. I recall that it seemed real enough to my dream-self. So, I now have three experiences to assess: 1) swimming at the beach; 2) the discussion in the car; and 3) writing this note. Yes, of course, the third now feels to me like reality where the others now feel like they were dreams but to put any stock in that fails to learn the lesson of the second experience. How can I be sure that I won’t awake from this dream and feel about #3 precisely the way I do about #1 and #2? I can’t.

In fact, given that I had 3 experiences, during each of which I was utterly convinced of its reality, and given that I now consider 2 of them to have been dreams, why should I not conclude that more of my experiences are dreams than are real? Surely on average we have more than one dream per night.

People often say this kind of thing doesn’t matter. I disagree. No, I don’t think that the conclusion that what I am now experiencing is probably a dream should lead me to act immorally or amorally or not act at all. Whatever this experience is, why not make the best of it? Why not make the best of me, in it? In fact, the conclusion that there is likely a “real” reality above or beyond this one instils a level of confidence, a boldness, to my decisions, since I don’t believe anything bad that happens is permanent. I believe the consequences of bad things can be fixed and that both the fixing of bad things and the doing of good things develops one’s character – it makes me feel better about whatever that thing is that I call “me”. Whatever that is, it seems to be the only think I can be sure about persisting from one experience to another and thus, the thing I ought to care the most about preserving and improving.

That said, I consider those others who seem to persist from one experience to the next to be integral to my self improvement and preservation. Happiness is the prime motivator. Efficacy is the prime source of happiness. If literally all of my decisions were of literally no consequence, it would be as if I did not exist. Efficacy is proof that I exist (self-preservation) and am capable of self improvement. The value of others to oneself is as of mirrors to our characters. When we see a happy person pursuing the same values as our own, our appreciation for the efficacy of our own value-based actions is reinforced and we experience happiness. We love those with who we share values. We are happy when those we love are happy because their happiness reinforces and reassures us of our own efficacy.

Since Einstein we have come to realize that much of the physical world that we thought was absolute is actually relative – they only exists in relation to other existents. Perhaps we are the same – needing others in order to truly exist. I’ll need to think about what I really mean by that later. Certainly our happiness is contingent upon receiving some feedback regarding our efficacy and I don’t know how we could receive that feedback except through our association with others in whom we recognize shared values. (This and the previous paragraph as inserted simply to temper and contextualize the last sentence in paragraph above them.)

All for now. I have to get some work done … for the self preservation and improvement of my character, my sense of efficacy, the happiness of those in which I recognize shared values – in short, for my happiness’ sake.

I am not dismissing other types of experiences, such as when we experience what we consider to be waking from a dream and recalling that, while dreaming, we were aware that we were dreaming. I am not suggesting that we never experience what we usually think of as dreaming. I am only questioning whether we can be sure that what we think we experience as a qualitatively superiour state of wakeful consciousness is really any different. Our recollection of a dream is certainly as of an inferiour experience, but our actual present experience of dreaming may very well be identical to what we experience as wakefulness.

Truth is Truth

Just completed a survey about a BYU exhibit and wanted to record a couple of my answers.

Q. How do we gain knowledge of truth?

“Revelation and scientific discovery represent complementary approaches to learning truth. Although there are significant differences between them, there are also many similarities in the processes they follow. For example, the process of revelation starts with faith in God, but also requires study, action (i.e. “experimenting upon the word”), and prayer. Similarly, science often begins with a hypothesis, and then conducts experimentation to test it. Whether truth comes from a scientific laboratory or by revelation from the Lord, it is all compatible because God is the ultimate source of all truth.”

I don’t actually think that revelation and science represent different means of discovering truth. In both cases we gather evidence by observation, we form a hypothesis, and we test that hypothesis by establishing parameters, changing variables, and observing results. In both cases we receive what we suspect may be truth, we tentatively accept it as being truth so that we may act on it as if it were truth, and we assess the resulting changes we experience as a result. The first statement uses scientific terms and the second uses terms language more likely to be heard in church. They both describe the same process. Through Joseph Smith we learned that there is no such thing as immaterial matter (sounds pretty obvious). The Holy Ghost has a body of spirit that He may dwell within us. The heart is not an organ of sense or cognition. His touch is the touch of mind to mind. And that touch is sensory input like any other and subject to the same evaluation. Just as all truth may be circumscribed into one great whole, so may the process by which that truth becomes known.

Q. How can we make sense of evolution in light of the restored gospel?

The LDS Church has no official position on the theory of evolution. “Organic evolution, or changes to species’ inherited traits over time, is a matter for scientific study. Nothing has been revealed concerning evolution. Though the details of what happened on earth before Adam and Eve, including how their bodies were created, have not been revealed, our teachings regarding man’s origin are clear and come from revelation.” (New Era, October 2016).

Whether an individual accepts or rejects evolution has no bearing on the truth of the restored gospel nor an individual’s eternal salvation. Church members may hold a range of beliefs regarding evolution. There are many faithful positions that individuals may take to make sense of evolution in light of the restored gospel. Many LDS biologists accept evolution and have formed an integrated view of how it is compatible with revealed truth, while other members do not accept evolution.

Evolution and creation need not be seen as mutually exclusive ideas. Through the restored gospel, we understand that God created and prepared the earth for a specific purpose: to provide the conditions where His children could receive a physical body, learn and grow through mortal experiences, and ultimately progress to become like Him. Pairing this knowledge with what we know through science about the history of life on earth can help us more fully appreciate and reverence our God for the incredible care and the love that went into the preparation of the Earth for mankind.

There is much general talk about the fact that human evolution can be reconciled with a literal Adam and Eve but little by way of specifics. I believe that is because if anyone ever got into how they may be reconciled they would be quickly shut down by a creationist or a teacher wanting to avoid contention. In the meantime, the lack of specifics about how to accomplish this reconciliation can leave some faithful evolutionists with an unnecessary crisis of faith. There is nothing speculative about this topic and there is no “deep doctrine” to avoid. It is simply a necessary part of the search for truth to participate in a discussion that aims to reconcile allegedly conflicting facts.

The Reality of Our Simulated Reality

“Everything is “real” if you experience it. And a simulated universe is as real as the universe that simulates it because reality is defined by the information it represents — no matter where it’s physically stored.” So says Maxim Roubintchik in “We Might Live in a Virtual Universe — But It Doesn’t Really Matter“, and I agree. It is unfortunate that people tend to dismiss the simulation hypothesis upon first encounter because they fail to grasp that it doesn’t in any way diminish the reality of what is being referred to as a simulation. And it’s not really their fault because there is usually so much to get your head around that this conclusion is inevitability left until fairly late in the discussion. But by then many have already established their bias against the proposition. Once that happens most are not open minded enough to reconsider their antagonism. Oh well, there’s still the rest of us.

Roubintchik makes the case well and so there’s no need for me to go on about it. I just wanted to heartily endorse his conclusion and add that it matters. It matters. Reality is real whether it can be thought of as simulated or not. But that it is likely simulated does have implications for many fascinating questions. One of them is the Fermi Paradox, which is very thoroughly explained in this article by Tim Urban. Aaron Frank, in “Is Virtual Reality the Surprising Solution to the Fermi Paradox?” offers the simulation argument as a possible “surprising solution”. This is sort of what I’d concluded some time ago. He says:

“If technology trends toward a world of microscopic computers with infinitely complex realities inside, this might explain why we can’t see any alien neighbors. They’ve left us behind for the digital wormholes of their own design.”

Why colonize outer space when inner space is so much larger, richer, and accessible? Seriously, why? I mean, maybe someday a few million years before the Sun is ready to swell up and swallow us, then we’d want to relocate at least to the outer reaches of the solar system. And then again billions of years later when universal heat death becomes a thing we might decide we need to squeeze every scrap of computronium out of it in order to achieve something like the Omega Point.

(If we really do need to achieve the Omega Point and if achieving it does require a universe full of computronium then we’d better be right about there being a whole bunch of similarly simulating civilizations out there because we’d all need to pull our heads out of the simulated sand at around the same time and work together to build said Omega Point as too much of this potential computronium will have sailed over the horizon of our respective visible universes for any of us to do it on our own. It’s unlikely that a disaster so remote in time would galvanize us to expand into outer space much sooner.)

I said that Frank’s conclusion was “sort of” like my own because he is suggesting that there are scads of equally or more advanced civs out there, all of which are foregoing outer space for inner space. But I think he is picturing them as “out there” in our universe. But our universe is likely one of the virtual realities occupying our own inner space, or at least our descendant’s inner space, though I think the former is more likely as who has better motivation to simulate our lives than we, ourselves.

In my view the 2 trillion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars and trillions of planets that we see in our telescopes, are just elaborate desktop art for us. We are alone in our universe. What saves me from crass geocentricity is my conclusion that there are countless other universes, corresponding to the simulated backdrops of similarly simulated and simulating civilizations.

So, where are the other civilizations? They aren’t merely “up there” but preoccupied. They are literally out of this World.

Freedom is Inevitable

I wrote this in response to this article: I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you.

It’s not that Trump is a fascist. It’s that they are all fascists, or at least corporatists (but that’s essentially the same thing). The ideal behind the original version of the US constitution, that the ultimate political values are respect for each INDIVIDUAL person’s right to his/her own life, liberty, and property, have been replaced with the ideals of the corporatist state – that we are all mere elements of a single body (corpus) which that body (the corporate state) can utilize or dispose of as it sees fit to further its interests. The individual per se is not valued and his/her rights are not respected expect when it serves the state’s higher purpose to do so – which is becoming increasingly less frequent.

In this slide toward corporatism it is not Trump that is the problem, nor trigger happy cops, or terrorists – it is YOU if and when you support ANY erosion of the individual’s right to life, liberty, or property. That means any time you undertake or advocate the initiation of violence, or the threat thereof, against another, you violate his/her individual rights. Essentially you declare war on an innocent person and make yourself the enemy of all who respect individual rights and oppose violence.

I say “declare war” but war has already been declared. It was declared millennia ago when the first advocate of force declared his opposition to the concept of the free moral agency of the individual. What we are witnessing now is the last, desperate assault of the side that started that war. They fight a losing battle against two forces: 1) the individual empowerment that inevitably results from technological progress and 2) the relative efficiency of free (unregulated) markets. As more and more of us can, more and more of us will disengage the state, incentivized not by accepting a libertarian philosophy but simply by the greater economic returns in doing so. For the vast majority money (material security) matters more than philosophical truth. When they see that the statism actually threatens, rather than preserves, that security, they will reject it.

The war is on but it is very asymmetrical. The statist’s weapons are force, violence, aggression, guns, bombs, detention, borders, barriers, taxes, etc. The individualist’s weapons are simply to disengage from the corrupt statist body, to live as freely and peacefully as s/he can, and wait for the rest to do the same. When enough of us disengage, the state will collapse because there will be too few under its control for it to conscript, control, and confiscate what it needs to sustain itself.

Freedom, liberty, is inevitable.