Category Archives: Technology

Elitists and a Society of Fear

I just got done reading Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear“. I was very impressed by the depth of his research (most modern science fiction is long on fiction and short on science) as well as by the story. Like all of his books that I’ve read, the story gripped and entertained. Just as importantly, it is based on solid research and science. The underlying subject that is dealt with is global warming, climate change and the environmental movement. The actual plot line is a conspiracy by eco-terrorists and environmental groups to create a series of climate change disasters in a short period of time to convince people that rapid climate change due to global warming is actually happening.

The story, by itself, is entertaining, well written and enjoyable. Even without the science and research presented throughout the book, it would be a great read. But, using the mechanism of dialogues between the main characters and various folks who are either global warming “true believers” or skeptics, some excellent science is presented to the reader in a manner that doesn’t require a strong background in science to understand. Several key points are made throughout the book. Points that those who value liberty would do well to pay attention to.

  • The “science” that establishes global warming as something that “everyone knows is true” is very shaky. To the point of actually proving the opposite, in some cases.
  • Science has been politicized, primarily due to the presence of money and power
  • Global Climate Change is completely unfounded, there is no evidence whatsoever that weather patterns have gotten worse, or significantly different, in the past 50 years.
  • One of my favorites, proper application of the precautionary principle would actually preclude using the principle to make decisions. I live in a risk based world, and make decisions based on risk. The precautionary principle is the antithesis of risk based decision-making.
  • We live in a state of fear that is preyed upon, magnified and used to manipulate us by the Political-Legal-Media complex, or PLM. The ultimate goal of the PLM is to gain and hold power.

I’ve known for a while, somewhat vaguely, that the science surrounding environmentalism, global warming and climate change is very poor, even distorted or outright lies in some cases. But this book presented evidence that is incontrovertible. And demonstrates clearly why the environmental movement resorts to ad hominem attacks against those who speak out against them. In fact, this is a favorite tactic of a group of people that I will discuss further along in this post. When someone tries to prove you wrong by attacking you, rather than your facts, logic and reasoning, they have implicitly admitted that your position is correct. The next time an environmentalist attacks someone that doesn’t agree with them as a fascist, or right winger, or tool of the corporations, ask yourself why they don’t just prove that the person’s position is wrong. Matter of fact, ask them why.

A few facts about global warming are in order, and very interesting. The first is that, if you use global temperature data from roughly 1930, to today, it indicates a warming trend worldwide, although the amount of the warming trend is hotly debated. Conservative estimates indicate that the line is very nearly flat, less than one degree Centigrade. But, even more interesting, if you start with data in the 1830’s, instead of the 1930’s, the global trend is either flat, or slightly cooling. In fact, based on that evidence, in the 1970’s the environmental movement was preaching about the coming ice age, NOT global warming. Other “evidence” for global warming that also turn out to have very little basis in fact include the supposed melting of glaciers around the world and rising sea levels. It turns out that Antarctica, which contains 90% of the world’s ice, is actually getting colder and the ice packs are actually thickening. Except for one peninsula, which is the most northern portion of the continent, but accounts for less than 1% of the total ice in Antarctica. The overall trend in Antarctica and Iceland (two areas studied extensively) is increased glaciation, not melting. The glaciers in Iceland are actually “surging”, growing at rates far above historical trends. Concurrently, satellite studies of mean ocean sea levels indicates extremely minor rises in sea level, or none. The celebrated case of a village in Vanuatu having to be abandoned due to rising sea levels is not supported by evidence. The South Pacific shows a minor increase in mean sea level, while the North Pacific shows a minor decrease. In other words, local changes are occurring, but not worldwide changes.

None of this is to say that the environment is not impacted by man. Of course it is. And it has been for as long as man has existed. Indians in California, ten thousand years ago, used to set forest fires purposefully, in order to destroy specific types of forestation that didn’t provide an ecology that was conducive to the sort of game they lived on. Which is how the Sequoia and Redwood forests came to exist. Twenty thousand years ago, California was barren and nearly treeless as it came out of the last ice age. Between 14 and 15 thousand years ago, according to archaeological evidence, hunter-gatherer tribes around the world hunted the mastodon to extinction. There are really two different issues here. One is measurable and quantifiable and the other is not. The first issue is the impact that man has locally. We can measure and quantify the impact of dumping industrial waste into a river, for example. The second issue is what impact man may have globally. This is something we have no idea about, although we have a lot of wildly varying suppositions. And, as long as politics is part and parcel of the science involved with climate and ecology, we will not have any idea. Like anything else, when politics, power and money comes into play, the science of the environment, ecology and climate becomes distorted and corrupted.

This is one of the hardest things for those who favor regulation, intervention and “management” to understand. When you regulate something, when you provide money to bureaucrats to manage the regulation, when you associate political power with the thing, you automatically introduce corruption. Corporations, unions and other non-goverment organizations that have a vested interest in either the the thing being regulated, or the regulation itself, bring money and influence to bear to ensure that it works out the way they want it to. I’ve written on the subject before, as have many others. In this entry, We Gave Up Our Market Power, I give some strong reasoning for the fallacy that regulation can solve problems without leading to its own problems of corruption. By introducing tax money and government regulations and involvement into environmental and ecological science, we have brought about a situation where we can’t get at the truth. For the environmental movement, this doesn’t pose a real problem so long as the folks doing the research and publishing the papers give them the results they desire.

What the environmental movement doesn’t seem to understand, or refuses to understand, which isn’t quite clear, is that they have played into the hands of the very folks that most of them detest. Politicians, the media and lawyers, Crichton’s PLM complex, have capitalized on this entire thing to perpetuate a “state of fear”. Not the police state that some claim. This isn’t about secret police and military power and totalitarianism. These folks just want to perpetuate their own power, continue as the ones on the inside of the oligarchy. As far back as the 1890’s (or further, depending), politicians and the media were discovering that there was power and personal profit involved in creating fear. And, unlike the past, with modern methods of disseminating information, they could induce a much larger portion of the population to buy into their fear-mongering. Then they would position themselves as the ones who could “do something about it”. Thus we had fear of the Wobblies and possible communist revolution in the USA that helped bring FDR to power, fear of Japanese-American saboteurs that gave FDR’s government unprecedented (and unconstitutional) power, the Red Scare of McCarthyism, fear of Hippies and anarchy in the 60’s, another Red Scare in the 70’s, a crime scare starting in the 80’s and so forth. Interestingly, the current preoccupation with, and fear of, environmental disaster dates to the fall of 1989.

Which is when the Berlin Wall fell and we all realized the Cold War was over.

While I am not saying there is some huge, secret conspiracy (there isn’t), I am saying that the politico-legal-media grouping began engaging in groupthink, searching for other things they could use to continue to maintain power, prestige and money. And they found two things that would do the trick. One was crime. The other was the environment. Here’s what’s interesting about both of these topics. There is no objective evidence for the thing that we fear.Just the opposite, in fact. There is plenty of objective evidence that the things we fear are bugaboos. There is plenty of objective evidence that politicians have distorted these things to gain power, the media have distorted these things to maintain a very powerful position as purveyors of information and lawyers have distorted these things in order to increase litigation, which ……. gives them power and wealth.

In fact, since 1991 the crime index in the United States has steadily declines, every single year (source: The Disaster Center). When’s the last time you heard that on television or read it in a newspaper or magazine? Or heard a politician tell you that crime is getting better, not worse? During the years of steady increase in criminal behavior in this country, 1960 – 1991, crime was rarely the lead on the evening news or the front page. It was usually the Vietnam War, or the Cold War, or natural disaster or nuclear missiles, or what have you. Since 1991, violent crime has been a major facet of the media’s news, movies and entertainment, much larger than it was prior to then. The same goes for environmental issues. Starting in the late 1980’s, the media, followed by lawyers and politicians began to give environmentalists much more credence than previously. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the environmental movement was treated by the mainstream as a bunch of crackpots, which most of them are, to be honest. Suddenly, they got treated as serious people, talking about real issues, even when their data was completely suspect pseudoscience of the “everyone knows” variety. The exact same people. It’s not like these are different people, we are talking about folks on the extreme of environmental issues, Hollywood weirdos and such. Yes, these days there are a variety of scientists on board with the idea, but they didn’t get on board until their funding began to come from people who had a vested interest in an outcome that showed that global warming was happening. And now it’s on the evening news every night. With no real evidence to back it up.

If you doubt me, read Crichton’s book. He documents every single assertion and piece of data he presents in footnotes and a very extensive bibliography. It’s interesting that the author of “The Day After Tomorrow” didn’t bother with a single footnote or bibliography entry to back up their contentions. Nor was the movie’s science any better. In fact, at least the book tried to make a point of the fact that abrupt climate change happens (if it does, no one is really sure of any of this) regardless of what men do, or don’t do. The movie didn’t make any such attempt.

Now, here’s where things start getting interesting. Why is it that people use things like the precautionary principle, environmentalism to prevent technological advances, fear of crime? What has been the outcome of each of these things, as promoted by the establishment of politicians, lawyers and the media? The single biggest impact has been to add cost to technologies and activities that could dramatically lower cost and improve standards of living for the poor. Not for the wealthy, who, after all, already have sufficient surplus in their life. Better methods of farming, power production and industrialization have been prevented time after time in the name of saving the environment. The wealthy elites of the West have decided that they know best for those poor, ignorant folks in Africa and Asia and South America. Aside from it being about environmentalism these days, it is amazingly similar to the words that came out of the mouths of wealthy Europeans in the 19th century who were going on about the “White Man’s Burden”. That, in fact, was a progressive idea in its day. Now, I suspect that if Hollywood had to live in the same conditions as they are condemning people in Cambodia to live in, they might be a bit more eager to not prevent the use of technologies and products they don’t like. In fact, what’s even worse is the hypocrisy of all of this. Watch what kinds of cars the Hollywood and media elite drive. Are they driving a little hybrid that gets 50 or 60 miles to the gallon? Or a stretch Hummer? When’s the last time they flew anything less than first class? How about their homes? Ten and fifteen thousand square foot monstrosities in the Los Angeles basin that cost thousands of dollars a month to cool and light. When’s the last time Ted Kennedy or Susan Sarandon suggested putting a wind generator on their own property?

This is yet another case of elites who believe they know what is best for you and I. These folks are no different from the men who ran the Soviet Union. They have, in fact, through their arrogance and elitism, condemned hundreds of thousands, even millions, to death, starvation and privation. And they will keep on doing so until you and I wake up and demand some accountability. Until we demand proof for their wild claims that have no basis in real scientific data. Until we demand that the government get out of the business of pushing the agenda of environmental radicals in order to create more power for the politicians. Until we call them on their insane political correctness that doesn’t allow real scientists to point out that the emperor has no clothes for fear that they will lose their livelihoods.

Originally posted at Eric’s Grumbles

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

The Reactions

Earlier this month, I talked about CATO Unbound and their topic for this month: Internet Liberation: Alive or Dead?. In fact, I posted an entry titled Thoughts on Technology and Liberty just a day before CATO announced their topic, which I discussed in This Should Be Fun. Now the discussion is in full swing over at CATO.

Jaron Lanier posted the first essay, The Gory Antigora: Illusions of Capitalism and Computers, which has been followed by two more. Eric Raymond has written his Reply to Lanier, which makes some excellent points about Gift Cultures, capitalism, open and closed systems and freedom in general. The most significant point he makes, in my opinion, is in his conclusion.

As I pointed out years ago in Homesteading the Noosphere (which I highly recommend reading!), gift cultures rely on a hefty wealth surplus to keep them afloat. While there are many ways to concentrate such a surplus (patronage by one tyrant or a group of aristocrats can do it) capitalism is the only way to do it that scales up well. Capitalism is every gift culture’s best hope for sustainability.

Glenn Reynolds, the InstaPundit, wrote his Reply to Lanier, as well. And, as I expected, makes some excellent points from the perspective of the technically oriented layperson. Again, it is the concluding paragraph where the point I consider most important is made. Of course, this is how the author’s intended it, but so often we, in reading their writing gain insights or see key points other than where the author intended the strength to be. In any case.

To me, this is another reason why we should favor space exploration and – more significantly, over the long run – space colonization. (As I wrote a while back, “Stephen Hawking says that humanity won’t survive the next thousand years unless we colonize space. I think that Hawking is an optimist.”) And, it happens, the empowerment of individuals and small groups that we’re seeing elsewhere is also going on here, with significant progress in space technology taking place now that it’s moving out of the hands of a government monopoly. Let’s hope it moves fast enough.

And finally, John Perry Barlow has written his Reply to Lanier and it’s posted today. I haven’t yet had an opportunity to read it, but I’m looking forward to what the author of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” has to say, as well.

I think, between what I’ve written and what Reynolds and Raymond have written, we can show that technology, in general, and, more specifically, the Internet are strong tools for individual liberty and wealth generation. Just as importantly, folks who are thinking like Jaron can be seen to be ignoring the true reality of the interactions between capitalism and gift cultures. Stronger by far than any of the individuals who started us on this path could have ever imagined. I plan, after reading Barlow’s essay, to write my own set of thoughts on this specific topic, much like Kay when she wrote Internet Liberation and the Ingenue. Stay tuned.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Annoy, Abuse, Threaten or Harass

“Whoever…utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet… without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person…who receives the communications…shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

My god, how will usenet or blogs function when everyone is in prison?

Yes folks, congress has tried to make being anonymously annoying on the internet illegal.

In particular, Arlen Specter (who seems to truly hate the internet and electronic world in general given other bullshit he has sponsored before) re-wrote the language and included it in the “Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005”, a must pass bill that provided funding for the justice department to continue operating.

Specter is also one of the senators (along with Fritz Hollings) who keeps trying to insert broadcast flag, and other DRM or copyright legislation into unrelated bills etc…; thus my saying he must really hate the internet.

The gist of it is simple. They took an existing anti-telephone harassment law, and re-wrote it to cover the internet directly, without changing the wording

Except there’s a problem with that, the internet and the telephone, while both networks; are entirely different in nature; and are not, and can not be subject to the same type of rules, regulations, or management paradigms.

Oh, and this is a problem in conception that business people have had for almost three decades now, so it’s only fitting that lawmakers will catch up.

The telephone is a unicast medium. It involves a point to point communication that must be acknowledged or significant damage to ones life or business will result. The internet is a broadcast medium (with regards to communication of ideas or speach anyway).

Effectively the internet AS A WHOLE is a public space (with private spaces connected to it, and a huge number of idiots who don’t seem to understand the difference); and annoying speach in public is generally allowed, so long as that speach is not disturgbing the peace.

Well, how is something disturbing the public peace if you have to open a door and walk into a room to hear it? No matter how load and annoying it is, the sound cant leave the room you have deliberately entered of your own choice.

Not only that, but ones own sites, whether they are publicly accessible or not, ARE EFFECTIVELY PRIVATE SPACES, and annoying speach is ALWAYS allowed in your private spaces; unless that annoyance becomes harrassment.

The fact is, you jsut can’t make annoying speach a crime. If I were forcing you to listen to it; yeah that’d be a crime; but just posting annoying speach, or even sending annoying emails (though that is a much grayer area, especialy as regards inboxes and other explicit infospaces, expectation of privacy, and ownership of virtual spaces, but that’s another discussion entirely) can never be a crime.

The good news is, there is no way this provision will stand. Case law is already against it, and the ACLU will do one of it’s rare good deeds and make sure this gets challenged and struck down right away.

The congresscritters just better hope they made the damn thing severable or the supremes will have to invalidate the entire bill.

Cross posted from The AnarchAngel

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Internet Liberation and the Ingenue

Last week, Eric introduced as a topic the subject currently highlighted at Cato Unbound which is: Internet Liberation: Alive or Dead?.

The first essay, written by Jaron Lanier is an interesting theoretical read The Gory Antigora: Illusions of Capitalism and Computers.

Lanier describes the “antigora” as the privately owned and operated arenas or meeting places (i.e. Microsoft) as opposed to the open architecture of – oh, say “Linux”. This discussion is rather a fascinating (if sometimes a bit over-my-head) one to me with lots to mull over – namely, whether the internet should be more liberated (less brittle to use Lanier’s description) and free – less software based and more open to free flowing change for example.

While I personally believe that there is much good to be had in an open and free-flowing exchange of ideas, I also recognize that just like liberty in the real world, a wide open system comes with some definite hazards – and it must be up to the individuals delving into the internet market to monitor their own behavior and risk taking online much as it is in the real world. I love the *idea* behind free access to all information; but the risk is that if I stumble unprepared and without understanding into an open arena, I may face some damage to my own computer set up that *I* may not have the skill or knowledge to correct, and frankly, that scares the heck out of me. I suppose I could be called “agoraphobic”. And what about those who don’t even know enough about what they’re doing on the ‘net to even know when they have screwed up? How many *cyber-terrorists* are there who really enjoy messing with those of us who aren’t completely “in the know”? Situations like the one with Wikipedia a few weeks ago in which a false biography was planted spring to mind.

On the other hand, the stay-at-home mom in me that can’t afford all the latest software and is definitely a techno-geek of small skill loves it when she finds just what she needs that is GNU. I’ve not delved too deeply yet, but am mulling a changeover around in my brain for some future point when I’m ready to set myself the next techno-challenge. Even now, I look at the internet as a place in which I must step carefully – just as I am ever aware of my surroundings when I’m away from home (I never approach my car from a store without my keys in my hand) so I have learned to be diligent to watch for danger signs on the ‘net.

As far as being able to say, definitively, which is ultimately better – liberation of the internet in the form of more agora styled environs or more controls ala “antigoras” – I’m not sure that anyone can really answer the question. Perhaps, like the real life it mirrors, a combination of free market and controlled is as close to liberation of the internet as we can come. This, too, humanizes the contacts we make within the sphere of the internet – not all are highly skilled, but those who are can sometimes give a pointer or two to those who’re ready to learn. And those who’re highly technical sometimes need the chuckle provided by the diversely inspired talents of the ingenue.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

This Should Be Fun

Not long ago, CATO unveiled their blog: CATO Unbound. The premise is that they will have a primary essay every month, responses from other prominent bloggers and provide trackbacks and links so that the rest of the blogosphere can respond too. Because December was so insane, I didn’t get a chance to play with the CATO concept as they debuted with The Living Constitution. Which is really too bad, since they hit on one of my favorite political topics: The 17th Amendment.

Anyhow, this month’s topic promises to be another one of deep interest to me and hopefully one I can participate in. The topic is Internet Liberation: Alive or Dead?. The lead essay, defining the position to be argued will be written by Jaron Lanier. The other contributors will include Glenn Reynolds and Eric Raymond, or “esr”, as he is known in hacker circles. There aren’t many other folks who would be such obvious, and good, choices for this topic. The topic itself will deal with:

An all-star lineup of techno-visionaries will discuss what, if anything, is left of all those mid-nineties prophesies of radical internet liberation.

I have to say that I will be interested to see what the CATO contributors have to say and even more interested to compare and contrast it with my own vision related to Technology and Liberty. In fact, considering that recent article on my part, my joining the ranks of the mobile technology users and my general vision of technology and its relationship to people and to liberty, this should be interesting and fun. Here’s hoping that The Liberty Papers and Life, Liberty and Property have a lot of good contribution to the discussion.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball
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