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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reader Mail #39

I liked this post on Techdirt. Even if you encrypt your hard drive, it still is very easy for a criminal to steal you data. The YouTube video linked from the article is worth watching.

The problem is that the "decrypt hard drive key" is kept in memory. When you turn off your computer, memory is not immediately erased. If you freeze the memory, the rate of information decay is much slower.

I liked this post on the Agitator, linking to this YouTube Video. It is "None of Us Are Free,” by Solomon Burke, with the Blind Boys of Alabama. I don't usually like music videos, but this one was interesting.

I liked this excerpt from the song:

If you don't say it's wrong, that means you're saying it's right.

The bad guys rely on the fact that most people will ignore injustices until they're directly affected.

I liked this post on the Official Google Blog. Someone registered "" and made a website enumerating who the superdelegates are.

I liked this post on the Technology Liberation Front. Verizon's DNS server misbehaves. If you enter a domain that does not exist, its DNS server does not return a "no such domain" error. Instead, it redirects you to Verizon's own search engine. A browser, by default, does a search when you enter a domain that does not exist.

Technically, this is not a violation of network neutrality. Is this behavior by Verizon immoral? If you're dumb enough to fall for it, you aren't smart enough for me to be concerned. Does it matter of a "no such domain" error defaults to my browser's search engine or Verizon's search engine?

I liked this post on Techdirt. The UK is banning filesharing of copyrighted content. I don't call this "illegal filesharing", because I don't recognize intellectual property as a legitimate form of property. The UK is forcing ISPs to crack down on people who fileshare copyrighted content.

All this means is that the filesharers are going to encrypt their traffic. It's impossible to stop filesharing without gutting the Internet.

I liked this post on to Herd or not to Herd.

Using violence against "violence experts" is the quickest way to have your organization or movement crushed. That is why governments frequently infiltrate opposition groups with agents provocateurs—to sidetrack the movement into violent channels that the violence professionals (police, military, security agencies, etc.) can deal with.

Resisting government violently is pointless. You are an individual or small group of individuals. The State has superior resources. It isn't possible to win a violent confrontation with the red market.

I liked this post on the Agitator.

A given middle school, high school, or college in American can expect to have exactly one homicide every 12,000 years.

The media uses a variation of the Strawman Fallacy. Statistically rare events are overhyped. This is used as an excuse to pass bad laws. Pretty much *EVERY* story where someone other than a policeman uses a gun inappropriately becomes a national headline. Stories of excessive police violence are usually buried, although the Internet is changing that somewhat.

Apparently, McCain is involved in some sort of sex scandal. Just once, I'd like to hear a politician say "Yes, I ****ed her, and we both enjoyed it."

I didn't like this post on George Washington's blog. His other content is good, but he has a huge error.

What are the options when people are dissatisfied with the government?
  1. Impeachment
  2. Violence
  3. Vote for someone else
However, there is another method. You can completely ignore the illegitimate government. You can refuse to pay taxes and obey stupid regulations, as much as practical.

I've seen this story cited on many sources, including Existentialist Cowboy. It is becoming commonplace for cops to carry video cameras with them to record everything they are doing. A cop carrying such a camera is accused of improperly beating a woman. Luckily for the cop, he TURNED OFF THE CAMERA before beating her. There is no evidence to prove that he improperly beat her.

The bottom line for me is that monopolistic government police have no legitimacy. Without competition, there is no market penalty for inappropriate police behavior.

I liked this post on Bill Rempel. There is a concept in investing called "alpha". If you say "My trading system has an alpha of 1% relative to the S&P 500", that means that, in the long run, you will outperform the S&P 500 by 1%. Alpha is ALWAYS the rate of one investment compared to another investment.

What should the benchmark be? The S&P 500 is most commonly used, but the S&P 500 has its own problems.

No investment site has ever suggested using M2 or M3 as the benchmark! If you say "My investment strategy returns 5% more than the growth rate of M3", that's impressive indeed!

After all, when the money supply increases, your investment system should AT A MINIMUM match the rate of money supply expansion. When you consider taxes and fees, even M2 (around 7%) is a high hurdle to overcome. Some sources estimate the rate of growth in M3 to be over 15%. The S&P 500 doesn't return over 15%!

That's one thing that really disturbs me. If the S&P 500 return lags growth in M3, does that really mean that gold, silver, and other metals are the best investment?

I liked this post on How to Save the World. It compares an abused dog to the average person under the current economic and political system. An abusive dog stays with its master, because that's the only life it knows. Similarly, abused people still support the State, because they can't imagine anything else.

It obviously didn't occur to the reporter that Lucky came back for more abuse because that's the only life he knew. He couldn't have survived in the wild, and couldn't have known that another, better life was waiting for him in just about any other house, with any other family.

We are all, in a real sense, like Lucky. Most of us, all over the world, struggle every day, and put up with a huge amount of stress and unhappiness in our lives.

we are oppressed with hierarchies, laws, rules and restrictions that would have driven our ancient ancestors quite mad

Why do we put up with it? Because it's the only life we know.

It has always struck me odd that wild creatures on this planet look after the needs of their community before their individual needs. This is natural to them. The 'dog-eat-dog' world is ours, not theirs! And gatherer-hunter cultures even today live leisurely lives compared to ours, and seem much happier with their natural way of living and making a living.

I believe it's because of the brainwashing we get in the education system, in the workplace, in the media, and in society at large, that we think the life-long, often joyless and meaningless struggle in the workplace is the only way to make a living. And that the disconnected, alienated way we live in anonymous communities is the only way to live.

I hadn't read that before. Animals in the wild take care of each other better than humans? It's possible. Pro-State brainwashing makes it hard to imagine how an "un-State-brainwashed" human would behave.

I liked this cartoon from the Freedom Symposium.

BTW, if you upload an image to Blogger via an Internet URL, it doesn't physically upload the image. It just gives a URL to the original source.

You have to download the image and re-upload it to get your own copy on Blogger. You have a 1GB limit for uploaded images.

Until my blog gets advanced enough that I self-host, I'm just going to link to pictures on other blogs. If they decide to replace their image with something disgusting, I'll go back and edit the post. My older "Reader Mail" posts don't get many views, so I'm not concerned.

I liked this post on Scholars and Rogues. It is about someone trying to succeed in post-apartheid South Africa.

My entrepreneurial development projects created thousands of new businesses. I lectured and taught all over the country.

But it was like being on quicksand. As fast as I could start ‘em government entitlement programs would undermine them. Cut the legs out from underneath.

The only way to get ahead was through connections, pull and the appropriate high-profile “black” business partner.

Government programs, funded via taxes collected via violence, destroy free-market alternatives. The theme of "you need connections to succeed" is indicative of a communist society, not a free market.

What good is talent when those who would hire it no longer have the skills to appreciate it?

I feel that is my problem to a large extent. A highly skilled worker is at a *DISADVANTAGE* in many circumstances.

I liked these "Human Tetris" YouTube video clips. This is better than most American TV shows! I wonder if this is coming to the USA anytime soon? I read that FOX bought the USA rights.

I liked this article on counterpunch. At a large corporation, management prefers a weak, ineffective union to no union at all. This allows blame to be deflected from the corporation to the union.

When a union bureaucracy becomes large, the union management becomes more concerned with protecting their jobs instead of advocating for workers.

The problem is that government regulation of unions destroyed their effectiveness as being a TRUE advocate for workers' rights. Unions originally evolved to fight a defective economic system system that encouraged cartelization of industries. The wealthy elite responding by passing laws regulating unions. This turned unions into another form of corporation/bureaucracy. This neutered their effectiveness. The union leadership also liked the regulation, because it meant their job/loot was legitimized by state violence.

I liked this post on Check your Premises. Jack Kevorkian is famous for "assisted suicide". The government specifically created a law to target him and send him to jail. Even after several successful "jury nullification" defenses, the government kept trying and successfully got a conviction. Now, Jack Kevorkian is going around saying "Government has no legitimacy at all."

Assisted suicide isn't as stupid as it sounds. Modern medicine can keep an elderly person alive for years, while their quality of life is awful. The benefit is that hospitals, doctors, and drug companies profit immensely. Most of the medical industry's profits come from the last few years of a person's life. The medical industry has NO OBLIGATION to ensure that its patients actually have a decent quality of life. It only has to keep them alive so they continue to get a paycheck. "Assisted suicide" runs contrary to this practice.

"Assisted suicide" exposes an important lie of the medial industry. Elderly people who are kept alive via surgery and medication have a *LOUSY* quality of life.

I liked this post on Life, Love, and Liberty.

A very intelligent person I know once told me that most Americans are on the ethical level of Germans during World War 2 or something.

There are, fortunately, some exceptions. Remember: "I was just following orders" is *NEVER* a valid defense. If what you're doing is wrong, it doesn't matter if someone else ordered you to do it.

Unfortunately, my experience has been very disappointing. In today's corporate world, if you want to be successful WITHOUT DOING SOMETHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG, it's virtually impossible. Regrettably, knowing the difference between right and wrong and wanting to do something about it is a *SERIOUS* handicap in the modern work world.

This post on Anarchist Without Objectives shows that Zhwazi is out of touch with reality. It is a detailed description of how to use GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard).

Until strong encryption is seamlessly integrated with your E-Mail client, *AND* you convince a substantial number of people to go along, strong encryption isn't going to happen.

If you're serious about privacy, you need to strong encrypt *EVERY SINGLE COMMUNICATION*, even something trivial. This raises the spying costs for the bad guys.

Why should I use GPG if nobody else is using it? Someone should write a FireFox plugin so that GPG can be seamlessly integrated with something like gmail. I'm not giving up the convenience of gmail just to strong-encrypt all my E-Mail traffic.

Personally, I just assume the bad guys already have a keystroke logger installed on everyone's PC. There's no way to be sure such an easter egg isn't built into Vista. Just because the bad guys are collecting lots of data, that doesn't mean they're capable of using it intelligently!

I liked this post by Wenchypoo. Some hospitals have a rule that you can only wait in the emergency room for 4 hours. Staff are working around this restriction by leaving patients in ambulances for 5 hours! (I think Wenchypoo is writing from the UK and not the USA.)

The real cause of the health care crisis is government regulation of doctors and hospitals. You cannot work as a doctor without permission from the government. The AMA and the government conspire to keep the supply of doctors low, guaranteeing that doctors will always be well-paid. Hospitals are also severely regulated, limiting the amount of hospital space. This guarantees that the people who own/control hospitals (even the non-profits) make a huge salary.

The MSM *NEVER* says that the problem with health care is government regulation, artificially restricting supply.

I liked this video on IndieGames. I always wanted to try writing an independent game. Back in the mid-1980s, it was possible for a single person to write a hit game in 3-6 months. Nowadays, you need a huge team to write a successful game. I looked at DirectX a few years ago, and it was a PITA.

XNA and Xbox Live are creating a serious market for independent game developers. I haven't tried XNA yet, but it sounds cool. If XNA eliminates a lot of the annoying overhead present in DirectX, SDL, and OpenGL, then it would be *AWESOME*. Plus, I read that developing in C# is 2x-3x faster than developing in C++. The fact that a game would run slower under C# is irrelevant with modern CPUs.

This bit sounds like an advertisement for Microsoft and XNA, but it isn't.

I've always been interested in writing a game. Learning the tools seemed like a huge overhead to overcome. They weren't user-friendly from an amateur's point of view. By "amateur", I mean professional programmer, but not a professional game programmer.

I liked this post on Debt Prison.

I've subscribed to a whole bundle of RSS feeds lately. I'm going through my blog hitlist and aggressively filtering out the garbage.

I feel guilty about sending a blog to my rejects folder. I need be more aggressive with rejecting blogs that waste my time. If a blog *REALLY* has great content, one of my favorite blogs will cite it eventually.

Bill aka NO DooDahs! has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #38":

Yeah, I hit up on that concept with my 6 a.m. comment on Thursday:
"One additional possibility is that the rules, culture, and payout structure of hedge fund management create a situation where the rational, profit maximization strategy is to take risks that the trader would find unreasonable with their own money."

This is in reference to "Why are spread trades so popular?" The reason is that a "spread trade" has market-beating returns most of the time, and a 100% loss a tiny fraction of the time. If you're investing with other people's money, this is a great risk/reward profile.

Do you really expect me to go back to your blog to read comments? That's why I like my "Reader Mail" posts. Every non-spam comment gets a response highlighted in a "Reader Mail" post.

Bill Rempel gives out partial RSS feeds on his blog. I'm considering demoting his blog to my reject folder for that reason. Bill Rempel has enough occasionally interesting stuff to stay out of my rejects bin.


It appears that Bill Rempel has enabled full RSS feeds. I don't know if that's an accident or a permanent upgrade of his blog. Partial RSS feeds are *ANNOYING*. There are plenty of ways to insert ads into an RSS feed, if that's what you want to do.

Zhwazi has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #38":

"Humans need to have a single person who is the ultimate final authority for settling disputes, with the ability to violently enforce his decisions." This one is false. Do you agree?

You used the word "authority"! You lose!

This was my first serious try at the taboo game. However, I should not have made such an oversight. This is easily corrected: "Humans need to have a single person who has the ultimate final decision for settling disputes, with the ability to violently enforce his rulings."

Besides, I "won" in the sense that the Anonymous pro-Monarchy pro-State troll stopped commenting. I take comments seriously, so if someone stops commenting garbage, I consider that to be desirable.

However, I have no way of knowing the ultimate fate of the Anonymous troll. Did I provide him with enlightenment? Did he get disgusted and is no longer reading my blog? There will always be Anonymous trolls posting comments, although I have no way of knowing if it's the same Anonymous troll or a new one.

According to Google Analytics, my reader statistics are increasing again. Fully recovered from my illness, my post quality is increasing again.

I only find the concept of "authority" to be useful in the sense of a "delegation of authority" or "authorization", and IMO, any other use of the word "authority" is an abuse based on the idea that the state is supposed to be authorized by "the people", and the resulting conflations. There is no authority without authorization. Authority in this sense is not logically necessary, but it is extremely useful.

I consider "authority" to be a tainted word that should be "tabooed". Authority has many simultaneous meanings. Authority has positive definitions and negative definitions. Therefore, you should not use the word "authority" when holding a political debate.

By E-Mail, gyakusetsu writes:

"Informality Thrives

Worldwide, people are increasingly buying and selling goods and services outside of the legal system
...People choose this informal economy when their government's requirements in the legalized economy are costly, according to Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs, 2007-2008...In Tanzania, an entrepreneur earning an average income would turn over all of his or her income to the government for four years just to get legal incorporation papers...Informal economies allow people to survive financially, but offer little protection and few rights to anyone in or around them."

While I disagree with the wording of the last part (since an economy can't "offer a right," for example), it's good to see these agorist-style information reaching larger audiences.

This is partially right. Government is responsible for REMOVING rights. In this case, the State was removing his right to work and start a business, by making the cost of regulation compliance expensive.

Government does not GRANT rights. Government TAKES AWAY rights. In a truly free market, you have pretty much unlimited rights, provided you don't injure someone else. In a truly free market, you have the right to anything provided you can afford it! Market competition guarantees that prices are reasonable.

Government takes away:
  • the right to use sound money
  • the right to work (via income taxes and regulation)
  • the right to own property (via property taxes)
  • the right to defend yourself or own a gun
  • the right to hire police
  • the right to a fair trial, both criminal and civil
  • the right to health care, by restricting the supply of doctors and hospitals
  • the right to travel (passports, driver's license)
  • the right to drink/smoke/use drugs (by taxation or outright banning them)

I think an agorist revolution will start in the USA. In the USA, there is still a high level of personal independence and mistrust in government. It's nice to hear of progress in other countries. If any become sufficiently advanced, maybe I'll move there!

BTW, if you're E-Mailing me a comment and I haven't heard from you before, be careful! Gmail sometimes aggressively marks E-Mail as spam. I see everything that's a blog comment, because Blogger asks for moderation when you log in. If you E-Mail me something non-spam and don't get a response, leave a comment.


Bill aka NO DooDahs! said...

* Full RSS on purpose. See post today.

* The few threads that get comments usually have worthwhile content in the comments, IMO.

* I made an argument many months ago to the effect that speculating in individual stocks, and an allocation to the stock market, gave one the best chance of outperforming the growth of money supply. Over the last 40-50 years of tracking, what were the gains for M3, gold, real estate, and stocks?

Zhwazi said...

In my defense, I specifically said I made the GPG guide for friends to learn how to use it, not to try to convince a substantial number of people to use it. I'm not out of touch with reality, I know exactly what my intent was and I'm fairly sure my means are conductive to my ends.

SOMEBODY has to be out there knowing what GPG is and how to use it and wanting to use it before demand for seamless integration of GPG reaches the point that it becomes a standard feature in Opera or Firefox or Gmail. Most people don't even know what it is, so of course nobody wants or expects it.

I agree about the "able to gather lots of data but don't know how to use it very well" thing. It's why I dismiss most of the paranoid "omgwtf surveillance state all over end of the world you can't do anything about it" stuff.

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