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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reader Mail #66

I liked this post on RadGeek. Many policeman consider it to be a crime to take a picture of them, especially when they're doing something wrong. They'll make up excuses like "creating a disturbance" or "resisting arrest" to kidnap you.

Policemen get to make up whatever laws they want. If you don't like it, you should start your own government.



I liked this article, via ProBlogger. A Blogger called out a business for being a scam. He was then sued for $20M.

People that runs scams tend to sue their critics for libel. An individual can't afford a frivolous lawsuit. For this reason, I don't like libel laws. I should be free to say "XYZ is dishonest" and XYZ should be free to say "FSK is dishonest" and let the general public decide.

There also was this tidbit about including a link back to your blog in your RSS feed footer. This way, if a spam blog republishes your content via RSS, then at least there's a link back to your blog. I updated my RSS feed settings.



I liked this article (via Hacker News) on shortest tree paths in various cities.



I liked this article (via Hacker News). The California Supreme Court has decided that a statistician is not considered an "expert witness" in cases that hinge on statistical analysis, such as DNA evidence. The judge decides what statistical methods are used.

Can you imagine that happening for any other profession? Lawyers, accountants, doctors, and policemen are always considered credible "expert witnesses". Mathematicians and software engineers aren't considered "professional".



I liked this CIA guerrilla manual, via Hacker News.



I liked this article, via Hacker News. It's on how to hire good people. I liked this bit:

When I catch someone at work in a lie, it’s over. It’s been like that long before I read the article. Trust in not over-rated, its an absolute must.

This is true if the other person is a subordinate (fire them) or your boss (switch jobs).



I liked this article, via Hacker News about VCs. A VC will fund dozens of companies, looking for the rare homerun. A founder has several years of effort and most of his net worth tied up in his business. This creates an unequal position, in favor of the VC.

I liked this comment:

“Accepting venture capital is like a record deal with a major label. A tiny chance of fame and fortune, but more likely to suck your soul.”

The VC model is to create a business that can be flipped and sold for $500M-$1B in a few years. The time horizon is only a few years, perhaps even 1-2 years.

In the first round of funding, the VC will only give enough money to last 6-12 months. The VC expects his money to be spent increasing staff and burn rate. A VC will never invest enough to last until profitability. This makes the founder subject to the whims of the VC. With a high burn rate, the founder must ask for more money.

If I were starting a business, my goal would not be a $1B homerun. My goal would be a sustainable business leading to an income of $100k-$200k per year. There's no market niche for businesses like that. In the US economic system, your business must be a mega-hit or the burden of taxation and regulations work against you.

If I were a small business owner, I would try to have multiple products. I would then invest more time in the ones that are most profitable.

A lot of VC-funded software businesses are then sold to large corporations. The large corporation hires an idiot manager to handle the acquired company. All the good software engineers then quit. Most of the value of the acquisition is then lost.



I liked this article, via Hacker News, on cheating at online poker. With online poker, it's trivial to cheat. If you have a cellphone or IM program, you can communicate with other players and cheat. For example, if I have "AA" and you have "KK", you'll know to fold your KK, which is normally a strong hand. Similarly, if I have "AK" and you have "AK", we both know that our hands our weak; our odds of pairing are substantially reduced. Also, if I have "AK" and you have "QJ", this is great, because any of AKQJ helps one of us make a strong hand.

They were cheating via defects in the shuffling algorithm and seeding algorithm. I can't believe the obvious defect was used in production code.

start with sorted deck
for (i=0 to 51)
swap(i, random 0..51)

The above is so obviously flawed to someone who knows basic probability.

The correct algorithm is

start with sorted deck (or deck leftover from previous hand)
for (i=0 to 51)
swap(i, random i..51)

Assuming a perfect random number generator, the 2nd algorithm generates a true distribution.

Further, their random number generator was flawed. It was seeded based on "milliseconds since midnight", which made the search space dreadfully small. Instead of 52! possible decks, there were only 24*60*60*1000 possible decks. After seeing a few cards, a brute force attack made it possible to determine everyone's hand.

If you're simulating cards, the space of possible RNG seeds should be *MUCH LARGER* than 52! Otherwise, you're susceptible to the brute force matching attack.



I liked this article, via BradSpangler.com. A man in China was fined for riding an unlicensed bicycle. In protest, he attacked a police station and injured several of them.

Instead of being reviled, he is now an Internet hero in China. The Chinese government is trying to ban all discussion of him, but that only makes him more popular. (the "Streisand effect"?)

In China, you need a license to ride a bicycle? Things aren't that bad in the USA (yet). With its pollution problem, China should be encouraging people to ride bicycles.

I can't imagine such an attacker getting far in the USA. I also can't imagine such an attacker becoming a national hero in the USA.

The USA is becoming more China-like, more than China becoming more USA-like.

Unfortunately, Blogger is banned in China.



I liked this interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb , via Hacker News. He likes to focus on "black swan" events.

Executives in the financial industry have zero incentive to plan for "black swan" events (rare disasters). If you assume a log-normal distribution, then you aren't properly accounting for rare events. Rare events happen more often than the mathematical models indicate, because the USA is not a free market.

Fancy Mathematical models justified mortgage-backed securities. Those models assumed that mortgage defaults were uncorrelated. Due to the Compound Interest Paradox, mortgage defaults are actually correlated.

Even though a lot of money was lost due to poor planning, executives in the financial industry are facing zero risk. They don't have to give back their huge salaries and bonuses during the boom years. Large banks always qualify for a Federal Reserve bailout. FRE, FNM, and Bear Stearns received a direct bailout. Large banks also receive indirect bailouts, in the form of negative real interest rates and inflation. "Bailout via inflation" costs a lot more than "direct bailouts". The cost of an indirect bailout via inflation is hidden, because the average person pays the cost over time as the money in your pocket and bank account loses its value.

Executives have zero incentive to plan for rare big risks. They can always switch jobs. Their "connections" guarantee that they'll always be able to find a new job after a failure. Large banks always qualify for a State-sponsored bailout.

Of course, the ultimate "black swan" event is the complete collapse of the current economic and political system. No Mathematical model can predict this. A banker has no incentive to guard against this risk, because he assumes that it will never occur. Agorism is a method to hedge against this ultimate black swan.

I see people CNBC describing the current crisis as a "100 year event". From my point of view, such crises are periodic and occur ever 5-20 years. In 2001, there was Enron and MCI Worldcom. In 1998, there was Long Term Capital Management. There was the 1987 market crash. There was the S&L crisis. Periodic financial crises are built into the rules of the monetary system.



I liked this thread, via Hacker News, of hacks of old NES games. They made a totally different game. They appear to be better/harder. I should get an emulator and play them!



I liked this article, via Hacker News, on why restrictive development frameworks suck. Ruby on Rails Sucks! (I'm the #3-#5 result on Google now for that search phrase! I'm surprised how many people google that per day!)

In the Hacker News comments, people were missing the point. "I don't like restrictive development frameworks." is not the same as "I don't like high-level languages and reusable libraries." A framework like Rails handcuffs you more than it enables you.



I liked this article, via this site on the income tax. It's a story about how the evils of the income tax evolved.

I didn't like the parent site. They're focusing on the legal argument against the income tax and not the moral argument.

The legal argument against the income tax is irrelevant. Via a series of corrupt decisions, the Supreme Court has approved the income tax as currently implemented.

The important argument against the income tax is the moral argument. If you make legal arguments against the income tax, you're placing the debate in the wrong frame.



I liked this post on no third solution about jury nullification. There's one point to clarify. There's a difference between "good jury nullification" and "bad jury nullification".

Everyone who understands jury nullification understands "good jury nullification". For most "victimless" crimes, like tax evasion, prostitution, or marijuana possession, jury nullification is morally proper.

As an example of "bad jury nullification", imagine a white person murders a black person in the civil rights era. An all-white jury acquits, or possibly a mixed-race jury is hung. This is an example of "bad jury nullification".

You can't ban "bad jury nullification" without also banning "good jury nullification".

If a jury improperly convicts or improperly acquits, there is usually no recourse.

The defect with juries is a symptom of a defect in the legal system as a whole. Jury nullification was intended as one of many checks against tyranny. Like all the tyranny checks included in the original Constitution, jury nullification has been nearly completely eroded.

For example, suppose a majority of people believe marijuana should be legalized. If jury pools were chosen truly at random, then most juries would include 6 people who believe marijuana should be legalized. In that case, it would be almost impossible to get a conviction in a "possession of marijuana" trial.

If you believe marijuana should be legalized and want to help out a victim of an illegitimate law, then you must do several uncomfortable things. First, you must lie during the jury selection process, concealing your belief that marijuana possession should be legal and that you understand jury nullification. Second, you must be willing to waste several weeks of your time in a trial, to help out a complete stranger. Third, you must lie during jury deliberations. If you reveal your beliefs to your fellow jurors, they will complain to the judge and get you kicked off the jury. You must sit quietly and hold out to acquit.



I liked this post on Blagnet.





I didn't like this post on Tranarchism. The correct anarchist response to the RNC/DNC is "Who cares what they do?" If you go to a political convention to riot or protest, there's an implicit acknowledgment that it has legitimacy in the first place.

You can promote free market economics anywhere. The RNC/DNC is probably one of the last places an agorist would go to promote his businesses, due to the high public scrutiny.

Other people are free to waste their time. I'm free to point out that they're fools. I'm not using violence to prevent you from rioting or protesting at the RNC/DNC. If you riot or protest at the RNC/DNC, you shouldn't be surpised if the police crack down. Other tactics are a more effective use of your time.

A political protestor is making an implicit endorsement that the political process has legitimacy in the first place.



I liked this post on out of step. You can make a fake surveillance camera.



I liked this post on xkcd.





This post on the Picket Line had some interesting quotes.

To explain why the American political class invades the wrong countries, indemnifies criminals, picks people like Joe Biden for responsible positions, and engages in so many other destructive acts, we modestly propose Werther’s Law, or the Iron Law of Adverse Political Selection: in decadent political systems the most damaging policy option tends to be the one chosen.




This post on the Picket Line had an interesting example.

In the 1970s, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling used to put some questions to his students at Harvard when he wanted to show how people’s ethical preferences on public policy can be turned around. Suppose, he said, that you were designing a tax code and wanted to provide a credit — a rebate, in effect — for couples with children. (I’m simplifying a bit.) In a progressive tax system such as ours, we try to ease the burden on the less well off, so it might make sense to adjust the child credit accordingly. Would it be fair, do you think, to give poor parents a bigger credit than rich parents? Schelling’s students were inclined to think so. If the credit was going to vary with income, it seemed fair to award struggling families the bigger tax break. It would certainly be unfair, they agreed, for richer families to get a bigger one.

Then Schelling asked his students to think about things in a different way. Instead of giving families with children a credit, you’d impose a surcharge on couples with no children. Now then: Would it be fair to make the childless rich pay a bigger surcharge than the childless poor? Schelling’s students thought so.

But — hang on a sec — a bonus for those who have a child amounts to a penalty for those who don’t have one. (Saying that those with children should be taxed less than the childless is another way of saying that the childless should be taxed more than those with children.) So when poor parents receive a smaller credit than rich ones, that is, in effect, the same as the childless poor paying a smaller surcharge than the childless rich. To many, the first deal sounds unfair and the second sounds fair — but they’re the very same tax scheme.


Whenever you say "A tax credit for people who do X.", that's logically equivalent to "A tax increase to people who don't do X." For example, a State bailout of FRE and FNM is equivalent to a higher tax for everyone who isn't a shareholder or employee of FRE and FNM.

The State cannot create wealth. The State can only transfer wealth from one group to another, destroying wealth in the process.

When you say "A tax credit for people who do X", the response usually "Hooray!" If you say "A tax hike for people who don't to X", then everyone who doesn't do X gets offended. As another example, people who are married get certain tax perks and legal perks. These perks are unavailable to people who are unmarried or are homosexuals.



This article, via Hacker News, was missing the point. When treating depression, the placebo effect is surprisingly large. The correct explanation is that the non-placebo drugs are incredibly damaging.



This article on no third solution about jury nullification sort of misses the point. Jury nullification is intended as a check against corruption by the State. Jury nullification can be used beneficially, such as acquittal in a possession of marijuana case. Jury nullification can be used harmfully, such as an all-white jury acquitting a white person accused of assaulting a black person.

Nobody talks about "prosecutorial nullification". If the State prosecutor declines to pursue criminal charges, then the victim is SOL. The victim has no further redress. (An expensive civil lawsuit can be filed, but that is pointless if the criminal has no assets worth seizing.)

Whenever a State court makes a bad decision, that decision cannot normally be overturned. That includes bad decisions to convict and bad decisions to acquit.

The argument in favor of jury nullification was "It's better to let a lot of guilty people get acquitted, than convict an innocent person." In a criminal trial, monopolistic State courts should be biased in favor of the individual. In practice, the bias is against individuals.



This post on no third solution was about speed limits. Speed limits are set according to an arbitrary scale, and not actual safety conditions. For example, the speed limit should be lower at night, and lower when it is raining. Most jurisdictions don't do this. The NJ Turnpike adjusts the speed limit downward during unsafe conditions.



This post on the Picket Line had an error. David Gross wanted to take money out of his IRA and invest it elsewhere. The only investment that doesn't support the State is gold or silver or other tangible assets.

If you want to take money out of your IRA, if you do it in "equal periodic payments over your life expectancy", then you pay no withdrawal penalty. There are other restrictions, such as "You must have had the IRA for 5 years." and "Withdrawals must continue for 5 years." Read the IRS website for more details. Of course, you would owe income tax on any money withdrawn. However, you could convert your savings from a State-subsidizing IRA to gold or silver.

I haven't done this. I'll leave my IRA investments as a hedge, in case the State doesn't collapse.

If you're the victim of an IRS tax lien, and you have no checking account, then it's hard to seize your property. However, it's hard to find a safe place to store gold and silver. If you store them on your residence, you may be the victim of an IRS raid! A secure agorist free market banking system is desperately needed.



I liked this post by Mark Cuban on how the stock market is essentially one big scam.

I know that sounds crazy, but the stock market has gone from a place where investors actually own part of a company and have a say in their management, to a market designed to enrich insiders by allowing them to sell shares they buy cheaply through options. Companies continuously issue new shares to their managers without asking their existing shareholders. Those managers then leak that stock to the market a little at a time. It's unlimited dilution of existing shareholders' stakes, death by a thousand dilutive cuts. If that isn't a scam, I don't know what is. Individual shareholders have nothing but the chance to sell it to the next sucker. A mutual fund buys one million shares of a company with your and your coworkers' money. You own 1 percent of the company. Six weeks later you own less, and all that money went to insiders, not to the company. And no one asked your permission, and you didn't know you got diluted or by how much till 90 days after the fact if that soon.

The key points are:
  1. As an individual, you can't prevent management from granting themselves options and shares, diluting your ownership. The cost of this dilution is not noticed among all the other market noise. Further, many corporations repurchase their own stock with profits.
  2. As an individual, you have no say in how the corporation is run.
  3. Hype counts for more than the actual value of the business.
I am not convinced that stocks are a better investment than physical gold or silver. I'm seriously considering the possibility that gold and silver are better investments than stocks.

Volume, The Number, whisper numbers, insiders granting themselves millions and millions of options - these are the games that Wall Street plays to keep on enriching themselves at the expense of the public. I know this. I have tried to tell people to be careful before they turned over their life savings and their financial future to someone whose first job is to keep their job, not make you money.

The primary goal of a mutual fund manager or hedge fund manager is to keep his job. Maximizing the profit of the fund shareholders is secondary.

Most knowledgeable financial industry insiders know it's one big scam. They don't say so publicly, because they don't want to lose their gravy train.

Risk is what Wall Street lies about every day. Risk is what they try to sweep under the covers knowing that we all are addicted to the dream of financial freedom. Risk is the poison that is masked by the commercials.

Mark Cuban sort of is missing the point. If you're a financial industry insider, you're taking no risk. If your mutual fund or hedge fund performs badly, then you shut it down and start a new fund. If a large bank is in trouble, then they qualify for a Federal Reserve bailout.

Risk is something that the average person faces. Insiders face no risk.

Leaving money in your checking account or in bonds is risky, because you'll definitely be ripped off by inflation over time. There are literally no safe investments. Physical gold and silver are the only investment where you can get full allodial title. Real estate also is a worthwhile investment, if you consider that the burden of property taxes will be gone when the State collapse.

If the best you can do is buy shares that are going to be continuously diluted, then you are merely a sucker. There is a good chance that the shares you bought came from shares an insider who got stock options. You just helped dilute yourself with your first share purchase.

As an individual investor, the stock market is a losing proposition. You can't use leverage like a bank or a hedge fund. The stock market only pays for insiders, who can purchase enough shares to control a corporation, or at least get the CEO to return their calls.

As an individual investor, you should seriously consider allocating a percentage of your savings to physical gold or silver, held in your possession.

Mark Cuban also says that buying a stock that doesn't pay a dividend is like buying a baseball card.

Mark Cuban also points out that corporate stock repurchases are hypocritical. Repurchases reward the investors with the most pessimistic outlook towards the corporation's future. Stock repurchases are a scam to manipulate the price and to offset stock/option grants to executives.

I read that it used to be illegal for corporations to repurchase their own stock. That regulation was repealed the same time that it became common for corporations to grant shares/options to their executives.



I liked this post on no third solution. David Z is copying my "Reader Mail" posting style. (I should have patented it! Just kidding! I don't mind.)

He was talking about jury nullification. It's perfectly acceptable for a judge to lie. ("Congress does have the authority to ban possession of marijuana." "The income tax clearly and explicitly applies to all economic activity.") It's acceptable for a policeman to lie. ("You aren't allowed to take a picture of me.") It's acceptable for a politician to lie. If you lie to get on a jury so you can nullify, that's a **BAD THING**!!

Discussing jury nullification sort of misses the point. Why should I be willing to waste 2-4 weeks just to help out a complete stranger? Even if I felt strongly about "Marijuana possession/sales should be legal!", I'm still suffering personal hardship to help a complete stranger. Even if I succeed in a 11-1 or 10-2 hung jury, then the State gets a mulligan and may retry the defendant. Even if I managed to get an acquittal for this defendant, then the State may still persecute other people for doing the exact same thing.

Jury nullification is one patch around a corrupt system. Even 100% properly implemented jury nullification would not fix the flaws in the system.



Is it just me, or does Sarah Palin look like the sort of woman who's never been ****ed properly in her entire life?



I liked this Google-written comic about Google Chrome. I'm haven't tried Chrome yet. I'm still using FireFox. Has anybody tried Chrome and liked it? I heard there were some privacy issues? Google auto-completes queries entered into the browser bar. They have to send your keystrokes to Google's search engine in order to do this.



I liked this article, via Hacker News. Children are learning logic and the scientific method via playing video games.

According to the alien overseers, one of the main advantages of widespread computer usage is training logical thinking skills. People who have exposure to computers at a young age develop much better logical thinking skills.

The trick is that logical thinking skills learned via computers must translate into real-world applications.



This post on Check Your Premises had some interesting bits on pro-State brainwashing. That is such a severe problem that no short article could cover everything.



I like googling to see who's referencing my blog. There was an agorism thread on the Ron Paul Forum. I got disgusted by the pro-State trolls on the Ron Paul Forum a year ago, and gave up. I wonder if more people there have also given up on "achieve reform via voting" and moved onto "total civil disobedience against bad laws, especially the income tax and Federal Reserve"?

I'm getting bored/frustrated with mises.org, and haven't posted there in awhile.

Gilliganscorner had an interesting quote regarding my blog:

Awesome, awesome blog. I cannot tell you how much FSK has influenced my thinking. He is the one that turned me onto agorism. Most of us on this forum are aware of the corrupt monetary system we are enslaved to...FSK teaches what to DO about it. I read it every day. If you want logic to hit you like an 8 foot 2x4 in the center of the forehead and you'll stand there blinking, this blog is for you.

I still haven't put my ideas into practice yet. Right now, raising awareness is more important than action. Raising awareness doesn't put myself at any personal risk, because "freedom of the press" still mostly applies in the USA. Once I put my freedom where my mouth is, I'm taking personal risk, but also greater personal profit.

I'm going to stick with my wage slave corporate job for a few more years.

I also liked the trolls promoting a centralized barter network. If you use a centralized barter network and your transactions are automatically reported to the IRS, then that entirely defeats the purpose of using a barter network.

According to the IRS, all economic activity is taxable. There are no exceptions. Don't rely on the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution in a manner that protects individual freedom or an individual's natural right to work. The only way out is to trade in private where both parties agree to not report the transaction to the State.

An agorist can even use Federal Reserve Points as money, provided he immediately trades them for tangible assets. This way, the agorist is not ripped off by inflation. This allows agorists to trade with part-time agorists. It won't be practical for agorists to completely boycott the Federal Reserve until the State has already collapsed. You still need Federal Reserve Points to pay property taxes and certain other taxes.

Agorism only works if both parties agree to respect each other's privacy. Agorists agree to not report their activity to the State no matter what. (If you're the victim in a taxation trial and plea-bargain and testify against other agorists, I'm not sure how that counts. The criminal party in that transaction is the State prosecutor, and not the agorist who is coerced into testifying against other agorists. On the other hand, solidarity against the State is important.) If agorists have a dispute, then they must agree to resolve it privately. An agorist will typically make many small contracts rather than one huge contract. Therefore, they will not be injured much if a contract is broken. In the event of a dispute, it might be practical to pay off the bad claim and then boycott trading with that person in the future.



My jobsearch is going OK. I'm lining up 1-2 interviews per day. I'm trying to be more critical, filtering out clueless employers.

I've decided that, if the interviewer demands an online skills assessment or programming assignment, I'm flat-out refusing to do it. If you can't afford to have someone spend 30 minutes talking to me and figure out if I have a clue, then you aren't worth working for. I'm at the point where I should get at least a phone screening from someone with a technical background. Regrettably, this requirement filters out a lot of people. However, I'm mostly filtering out fools and scumbags. Based on past experience, people who demand online skills tests or programming assignments tend to be clueless.

Some of those online tests have subtle errors. I find myself second-guessing the question author. "Were they really trying to test knowledge of this obscure language feature, or should I give the obvious answer?" Who cares if I know the syntax for function pointers or not?

One interviewer made me wait for 30 minutes while he was in a meeting. I thought we had an appointment? I walked out and told the receptionist "Don't bother rescheduling." If you don't respect an interviewee, then are you going to respect people who are actually working there?

I do give code samples, if requested.



Sometimes, I just don't understand SEO. I've got the #1 search result in Google for "fnm bailout".

"Ruby on Rails Sucks!" was another unexpected SEO success. A few people google that phrase every day, and my post is #5!



Almost every job ad says "We're trying to hire the best and the brightest!" Nobody ever says "We want barely qualified fools!" You have to talk with the hiring manager to determine which is actually the truth.

The top priority of hiring managers is to hold onto their job. Therefore, they won't hire someone *TOO* skilled, because they'd feel threatened. It's amusing to notice that behavior even in small startups.

It appears the only way to find a job that isn't a complete waste is to start my own business, or start as co-founder for someone with good marketing connections and a solid business plan.

For now, I'll probably pick another wage slave job. I'm still waiting a few more years before starting practical agorism. I'm much more interested in off-the-books businesses than working in the slave economy.

I saw one guy who had a business plan, no marketing connections, no capital, and no website. He wanted me to write the website for him in exchange for an undisclosed percentage of equity. If I'm doing all the real work, then why would I agree to be someone else's employee? Why not just buy some hosting and keep 100% ownership? For my recent job, the marketing owners had serious connections and had built up huge interest in a nonexistent product. I could not steal their business without their connections.



That forum in Finland is still discussing my blog. This time, they were citing my post on the Hunt Brothers' Silver Corner.

According to the poster in that forum, if you want to buy silver for immediate physical delivery, you have to pay 60% more than the "official" spot price! That's a clear indication of market manipulation.

I can't believe I'm that popular in Finland.



There's another thing frustrating me about my job search. Some employers say "Why should we pay more for someone experienced? We can hire someone right out of college! Besides, your C/C++ experience has a market value of $0. We want a .NET programmer."

As a software engineer, someone skilled and talented is worth 10x-100x or more, compared to a random person. In my recent job, hiring someone unqualified to run your software group led to the destruction of a $500M business opportunity. I certainly could have handled writing a simple website by myself. In that case, I wasn't just 100x more productive than a random clueless schmuck. The productivity ratio was infinite, because I would have succeeded and the actual approach resulted in failure.

As a talented experienced software engineer, there's no premium placed on skill. The vast majority of hiring managers are interested in protecting their turf, rather than writing good software.

I really should start my own business. I'll probably wait another year or two. It's difficult, given my current circumstances. Maybe I can find a job that won't be too much of a time commitment, and start something on the side.

My blog is a type of business, but it isn't revenue-producing yet. I'm still getting approximately 10%-20% monthly reader growth, although it comes in spurts. I estimate the total size of the Remnant to be over 1M people, so I certainly haven't tapped out my potential audience yet.



I heard that "Spore" is a lousy game and it comes with really nasty crippling DRM.



For the first time I can remember, I turned down a job offer! The salary was pathetic. It was only slightly more than my last job, for a relatively high-stress trading systems programmer job. I had several years of experience doing exactly what he wanted, and I was being offered less than entry level wages for a typical recent college graduate. Further, the vibe I got from the hiring manager/owner was "This guy's a jerk!"

Since I just started my search, I'll be selective. It's really hard, but I'd like to manage working for a non-scumbag this time.



My post on the AIG bailout has been a huge success from a SEO perspective. I still don't get SEO. "Popular in search engines" is rarely correlated with my expectations.

When I write articles related to current financial news, those posts tend to do well.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Destruction of Trial By Jury":

Time by time again, FSK is showing his Asperger\'s Syndrome traits. In his discussion about agorism, he admitted that he has no friends to do counter-economic experiments. He strangely has an absurd and narrow interest in market anarchism, and even has a whole blog dedicated to it. He contributes massive stuff daily, and his ranting about his work, which is another symptom of his under-average work-related social skills. His was recently fired, which indicates his lack of social cooperation skills.

His writing style is orientated toward short-sentences, which are purely logical and always repeat the same thing like \"taxation is theft\". Aspergers display purely repetitive behavior and writing styles like that.

FSK clearly has a lack of empathy for others, and frequently denounces them as \"pro-state trolls.\" He has no manners nor the patience to even listen to various viewpoints.

[/sarcasm]

Your THMTL is malformed (Troll HTML). There's no matching [sarcasm] tag. I can't tell whether your entire comment was intended as sarcastic or trolling. I'll treat it as a troll.

I wonder if "Asperger's Syndrome" is actual normal human behavior. In a society that's totally insane, normal behavior is labeled as dysfunctional!

For example, suppose I say "Your comment is stupid!" That is an Asperger's Syndrome behavior. A "normal" person would try to coddle the reader and make them feel good about themselves. There's nothing wrong with calling stupid ideas stupid. You also should be able to distinguish between "That comment is stupid." and "You are stupid." I try to judge each comment separately, even from chronic trolls like anarcho-mercantalist.

I don't feel bad about losing my job. The company was going bankrupt anyway, so now I get to start looking for a new job sooner. Should I have sucked my boss' ****, encouraging him that "Rails is awesome!" Or, should have I pointed out what a steaming pile it was? Again, the "normal" behavior is dysfunctional behavior.

There's nothing wrong with writing short and simple sentences. I want my writing to be accessible.

There's nothing wrong with having no patience for stupid ideas. This is my blog and I may do as I please here. If you don't like it, then how pathetic does that make you for reading and commenting? I deal with enough stupid ideas when not involved with my blog, so I'm trying to keep the stupidity level low here.

I don't mind if fools get disgusted with my blog and stop reading or stop commenting. I'm not running this blog as a for-profit mainstream media outlet, where every fool must be coddled lest I offend advertisers.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Destruction of Trial By Jury":

Unless you're kidding about your comment just above, you're the enemy.

I couldn't tell if he was trolling or joking. I treated it as trolling. The post was Anonymous, so nobody should feel offended if I was wrong.

Empathy? Under the gun in our face we should have "EMPATHY" to those holding it?

Should I have empathy for fools and pro-State trolls? No. They are subhuman and not worth my time.

FSK only has no trading partners, because everyone else are sheepishly loyal to their owners.

I'm working on that. Sometime in the next few years, I'll work on starting an agorist trading group. For now, I'm still focusing on raising awareness.

In a world filled with insane people, the sane person is alone! Am I being anti-social, or is everyone but me incredibly anti-social? "Normal human behavior" is labeled as anti-social. That's how messed up things are.

True, he has gotten fired. That has nothing to do with his views. I agree, and I did point it out to him immediately, that it is none of his business what and how the company is doing, as he isn't an owner. In this, he is just as socialist as you, though. He is unable to recognize that his bosses business is as much isn't his own as it is no one's business to count or demand FSK's income. But this is a common fault. Typically, people are only recognize their onw property and right to independence, but not someone else's.

There are a couple of mistakes here.

"FSK got fired. Therefore, FSK is a loser." or "Therefore, FSK's blog is not worth reading." You are correct. That is false reasoning.

"FSK has no obligation to look out for his employer's best interests." I disagree. As long as I am working there, I should do the best I can given the circumstances. They were a small startup. If they mismanage things, they will surely go bankrupt and I will be looking for a new job anyway. If the owners respected me, they would have offered me 0.5%-1% of the company in options. In that case, I would have had an upside of $5M if the company were successful, and I should definitely be looking out for their interests.

As it actually played out, I was working essentially for free. I don't feel bad about the loss, because the opportunity was nothing special.

In this case, "FSK's best interests" was to move on to a new job. I'm currently actively looking. I did the best I could while I was there. I should not feel bad that the owners had their $500M opportunity flushed down the toilet. (I still feel bad they were cheated, but I did all that I could. At this point, it's like feeling sorry for a girl that rejected me. It sucks to be her, but she made her decision.)

I don't have the right to demand they run their business sensibly. However, I do have the right to move on to something else. While I'm working there, I should offer my best professional advice.

Sometimes, being a good "team player" involves saying "Give me the damn ball!" In this case, I became a free agent and will find a new team. It's like Manny Ramirez intentionally playing lousy so the Red Sox would trade him.

Nevertheless, this has nothing to do with him being fired. Shit happens.

I say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. All in all, on the balance, I like FSK.

That isn't universally true. A crippling heart attack will make you weaker.

In this case, my experiences have made me stronger and more self-confident. Regrettably, that hurts me on the job market. Most employers are looking for slaves rather than independent thinkers. I can almost hear potential employers thinking "FSK can think for himself! I shouldn't hire him!"

Being exposed to anti-psychotic drugs may have been beneficial. It certainly was educational. If I took them for an extended period of time, I would probably have been permanently damaged.

I really should start my own business. For now, I'll try to get a job that isn't too big of a time commitment and do things on the side.



gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "Paying Taxes is Immoral!":

If 99.99% of the population voluntarily pays taxes, then the bad guys can afford to waste a lot of resources tracking down the remaining 0.01%. If the ratio were 90%/10% or even 99%/1%, then it might become very difficult to raid everyone working in the free market.

----

If you have a monetary printing press at your disposal and a corrupt legal system to increase State departments to hound down tax resisters, there is *NO LIMIT* in terms of financial or manpower resources you could use to terrorize everyone, no?


Suppose you boycott the income tax *AND* the Federal Reserve, using sound money. In that case, the monetary printing press is not a claim on your labor.

If you're 100% working as an agorist, you like the fact that financial industry turmoil is wrecking the rest of the economy. A true agorist should be mostly unaffected by the Federal Reserve and financial industry.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "Paying Taxes is Immoral!":

If you have a monetary printing press at your disposal and a corrupt legal system to increase State departments to hound down tax resisters, there is *NO LIMIT* in terms of financial or manpower resources you could use to terrorize everyone, no?

I think that FSK meant that if the top 10% wealthist in the United States refuses to pay taxes (who pays 70% of the taxes while exploiting tax loopholes) the state would collapse due to 70% of missed funds. If there is no taxation, the state can think of other ways such as creating monopolies or sucking on the oil reserves (in the case such as Norway) to fund itself.

I did not mean the top 10% wealthiest. I meant the top 10% productive workers. "Wealth" and "ability to do productive work" are uncorrelated or anti-correlated. For example, a typical lawyer is in the top 10% wealthiest, but a lawyer performs no useful work. A lawyer has zero incentive to work as an agorist, because his law license is worthless without the State.

In the present, the super-wealthy pay negative taxation rates. The value of the State subsidies they receive is greater than the amount of taxes they pay.

If 10% of the population were fully working as agorists, that would probably be the end of the State.

The State currently has a monopoly over all property ownership. Agorists could pool their resources and purchase mineral rights, either directly or by just purchasing the output cheaply. Eventually, agorists in an area will become strong enough to defend themselves. At that point, property taxes are uncollectable and the people are truly free.

gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "Paying Taxes is Immoral!":

I think that FSK meant that if the top 10% wealthist in the United States refuses to pay taxes (who pays 70% of the taxes while exploiting tax loopholes) the state would collapse due to 70% of missed funds. If there is no taxation, the state can think of other ways such as creating monopolies or sucking on the oil reserves (in the case such as Norway) to fund itself.


Again, if you have a monetary printing press, the State can simply print the money in exchange for debt (i.e. Treasury Bills, or government bonds).

Taxation is a ruse. In theory, the State does not have to collect taxes at all. They can simply manufacture debt, bought by the Fed, in return for dollars, and add to the deficit. This would normally cause any nation to collapse.

The only reason that the United States has not collapsed like a third rate banana republic is that the US dollar is still regarded as the worlds' reserve currency.

Am I missing something?

You're missing the fact that agorists who use sound money are unaffected by the monetary printing press.

If the rest of the world started refusing payment in dollars, sold off their dollars, and boycotted the dollar, then the US economy would nearly completely collapse. A collapse in the USA would almost certainly spread to other countries. The insiders who control other countries are not eager to wreck the status quo.

If enough agorists starting boycotting paper money, then that would cause/accelerate the collapse.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Paying Taxes is Immoral!":

the point that gets missed is that taxes are part of functioning nation state, which is far more than an economic activity. in every community of any size ever examined there has been a form of collective asset usage, controlled by some form of council. People as a group are very slow to act, but when someone is 'in charge' they can be rapid (seems to be from evolution). rapid, 'collective' action = survival. when you get big, the network effect is an n-squared issue... exponentially impossible. so, a small rulling cartel which has access to collective resources tends towards the most efficient and long lasting solution. however, as with all systems, if left to refine over time they tend to conform to a pattern set by the heads of the system... and this corrupts it. government in efficiency is in the voters favour, as it tends away from effective control and can balance the controlling interests.

however, the current system is showing all the signed of too much efficiency (blame IT and better management). This has lead to a corruption towards the ruling cartel.

Government is not immoral. Tax is not immoral. Too much efficiency of government is almost certainly immoral in effect.

That comment was entirely trolling. There wasn't anything logically coherent worth refuting.

Mike has left a new comment on your post "Paying Taxes is Immoral!":

Anonymous wrote: Government is not immoral.

Hrpmh. Try telling that to the millions of people that governments have murdered.

The above comment appears to be pure pro-State trolling. My position is clear. Taxation is theft. Government is funded via theft/taxes. Therefore, government is immoral.

If you strongly disagree, then why are you wasting time reading this?



Zargon has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #65 - Dealing With Scum":

That's about it. That is the "freedomain" approach, which is to refuse to ever again speak to someone abusive.

Yeah, I initially broke out of my statist thinking through freedomain, though I don't take their view on relationships as far as they do. My parents were somewhat abusive while I was growing up (though I suspect far less than average), but now I live almost a thousand miles away, and only see them a few times a year. So even though they're willing to put the gun to my head in terms of supporting taxes, I don't really see any benefit to breaking from them now. They're practically a non-factor in my life nowadays.

From a true free market perspective, almost *ANY* parents will seem abusive. Sending your child to brainwashing centers (schools) really is excessive cruelty. Most parents are not consciously aware of the massive crime they are committing.

Children cannot be pro-State brainwashed without the complicity of their parents. Once you realize this, most child-parent tensions seem obvious.

Freedomain has some great points and some lousy ones. Freedomain correctly says "The State sucks! Taxation is theft!" Freedomain correctly says "It is possible to have a stable stateless society.", via his Dispute Resolution Organization (DRO) or Private Defense Association (PDA) model.

However, freedomain completely drops the ball on "How to get there from here." The only feasible way to arrive at a stable stateless society starting from the present is agorism. I haven't read any better plan.

Reading about your situation with your parents, it seems like a rather scary situation. You might be able to control their everyday abusive behavior with the techniques from the Dog Whisperer (interesting section, btw), but if you relapse, or you get serious about moving out, or you simply get depressed about a bad relationship or some random thing, your parents are right there to see it and send you back to an institution worse than prison before you can take a few days to recover.

I have more awareness and self-control. I'm able to fake being brainwashed, enough to keep my parents and other people from harassing me.

There is a severe restriction of my freedom. I can't practice agorism while stuck living with them, because they would be the first ones to turn me over to the State. I tried explaining "Taxation is theft!" to them, but they just don't get it.

You're already trying to get them to see the reality of the psychiatry industry, but I highly doubt they will ever "get it", because doing so would entail them realizing what a monstrous thing they did/are doing to you, even though they aren't being intentionally evil.

It would cause a mental breakdown themselves, if they realized what had happened.

I don't know if many/any other people could handle figuring things out the hard way like I did. Hopefully, by explaining things, I make it easier for others. You can't get the full effect via a blog.

It would seem somehow moving out and keeping them at arm's length like I'm doing would be ideal (as opposed to moving out and never talking to them again, which would likely just get you some goons at your front door), even though it seems to not be currently possible given your parent's state of mind. Perhaps in that respect staying in the same town and moving out when you can would be best (as in you could get out sooner than if you were trying to move to another city), as you could pitch moving out as not that risky, since they can come and check up on you whenever they want. That would allow you to escape being recommitted in the event of a relapse by checking into a hotel and telling your parents you went on a skiing trip, or some other lie.

That's my current plan. It'd be nice to get a stable job for 6-12 months, so I could justify to them moving out.

Based on my jobsearch, my experience appears to have a market value of $0. I have 10 years of experience, but I'm having trouble getting taken seriously for entry level wages! I really should start my own business.

---

I'm entertained that the rails advocate found your blog. I don't suppose you can track where he was referred from? That would be interesting.

I was blogging at work. He could have done it via looking over my shoulder, or looking at server logs. I suspect that a keystroke logging program was installed on my work PC.

I wasn't trying to hide it from them. I was hoping he would read it and improve his behavior. Regrettably, the Rails advocate is a total twit. In the future, I won't bother debating/negotiating with scum. I was trying to fix the situation without it being necessary to fire the Rails advocate. I should have explicitly told the owners "If you want to save your business, fire the Rails advocate and let FSK do it."

It's rough looking for a job when you have a "I refuse to work for scum!" policy. That eliminates 95%+ of the possible jobs.

eagledove9 has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #65 - Dealing With Scum":

I'm guessing that the Rails advocate might have had spyware installed on the computers at the office, and found out that FSK was blogging, just by observing his computer directly. I've had numerous experiences of coworkers putting spyware on the office computers back when I used to do data entry jobs. (Long story as to how I found out about it.)

I suspected spyware. Actually, the spyware program they installed kept crashing.

Even more bizarre, I suspect that *BOTH* the Rails advocate *AND* the idiot new manager had separately installed spyware on my work PC. I found a spyware program installed the day after the idiot new manager was hired, with a file creation date after I normally leave work.

I didn't bother hiding it. If you're going to act scummy, then I'm not interested in working for you.

Once I saw the idiot new manager, I knew the situation was nearly completely hopeless. I already had my hands full with the Rails advocate. The idiot new manager turned a bad situation into an impossible one.



Francois Tremblay has left a new comment on your post "Reader Mail #65 - Dealing With Scum":

Watch the movie The Business of Being Born: it should change your tune about giving birth at a hospital.

When did I say that giving birth in a hospital is optimal?

In the present, you still need slave papers for your child. You need a birth certificate and social security card. If you don't get slave papers for your child, then he will have a hard time.

I heard of some "natural childbirth while in hospital" techniques. I'd want to have a doctor around for backup, in case there's a problem. Before modern health care, a lot of women and children died during childbirth. There have been legitimate improvements via modern medicine, but that doesn't mean other free market approaches would be even better.

Regrettably, there is no free market health care system at this time. Giving birth in a hospital is your only feasible option. If there were an advanced agorist health care system, then I would advise giving birth outside a hospital (and not going to a hospital at all for any reason).



I liked this article on Reuters. Due to a "flight to quality" and the perceived insecurity of money market funds, yields on 3 month Treasury Notes went to nearly zero. Some trades may have occurred at a negative interest rate. In other words, someone paid more than $10,000 for a $10,000 face amount bond.



Some of these startups I read about on Craigslist are very shady. All the guy has is a powerpoint presentation, but no programming ability. He wants me to partner with him, work for free (equity), and I'm his employee. If I'm doing all the real work, what do I gain by partnering with someone clueless?



The SEC imposed stricter rules banning naked short selling. It's unclear if it's a real crackdown or empty threats. It's pointless to ban something unless there's a real penalty for violators.

It's like the IRS saying "Pay income taxes!", but they don't spend any effort prosecuting people who fail to pay. If that's the case, then why bother paying taxes? Similarly, why bother following the naked short sale ban if there's no penalty for violating the ban?

The SEC eliminated the loophole that said market makers were exempt from the naked short selling ban. It's actually very easy to get "market maker" status and qualify for that exemption. I worked at an options trading firm, and they had "market maker" status even though they were holding positions for months. They weren't just market making. They were also speculating on the direction of stock prices and volatility levels.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Communist Economic Calculation Problem":

FSK, the "Economic Calculation Problem" is the basis of a famous prediction by Mises, that the socialism must fail. It did came true for USSR and some others.

I mean that in the same sense as Mises. The USA is a communist country. The USA has problems very similar to the Soviet Union prior to its collapse.

Just because Mises wrote about something doesn't mean I'm banned from writing a slightly different article on the same subject!

Scary part is that it equally predicts the fall of USA, in as much as USA centralizes it's decision making that concerns economy.

The control of almost every industry is concentrated in a handful of CEOs and State regulators. There is no true free market in the USA.

One of the reasons the Internet is so successful is that it is organized along anarchistic principles instead of dictatorship/communist principles.

Where it predicts that a large corporation is "weaker" than the smaller one, is simply an explanation of why capitalism can never reach the feared state where "everything is owned by few rich".

That is false. The wealthy elite have full allodial title to my labor and my land. Via income taxes, I don't have full allodial title to my labor. Via property taxes, I don't have full allodial title to my land. I am almost literally the property of the wealthy elite. I have limited freedom, but not true freedom.

Individual corporations may go bankrupt. Politically connected insiders are still controlling practically everything.

It is then the ignorance of the crowds, still, to this day not knowing about "Economic Calculation Problem" truth, that makes them the easy target for pro-corruption propaganda.

It only makes the masses targets to the extent that State violence is abused. Without the State, ignorant masses isn't such a big problem. Most people are smart enough to keep visiting good businesses and avoiding businesses that cheat them.

Then it is the democracy, that allows millions of ignoramuses to make enforceable decisions, that finalizes the tragedy of stupid democracy.

As currently implemented, democracy actually means that a handful of people make decisions.

Is it really that hard to see it on a simpler level? Democracy is when the herd decides which way to stampede.

No. Democracy means that the herd stampedes in the direction they're manipulated into stampeding.

Democracy is not a valid form of government. No amount of voting can justify taxes. Other people don't possess an individual right to steal from me. Therefore, they don't possess a collective right to steal from me via taxes and the State.



Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks was videotaped saying that he didn't like the national anthem.

What's wrong with that? Anybody who disrespects the State is a criminal?

It should be acceptable to say "The US government is out of control. It no longer represents me. I'm not going to respect the national anthem, because it symbolizes evil."



Someone mentioned my post on the Hunt Brothers' Silver Corner on Reddit. This was the first time I got a decent number of traffic via Reddit (18 visits).



Blogger crapped out on me and I lost several hours' worth of responses. I reconstructed them. If I forgot to answer your comment, that's the reason.

This is the first time Blogger ever ate my post. If it happens regularly, I may have to drop Blogger. It appears to be an issue with longer posts. I should start making these "Reader Mail" posts shorter.



By E-Mail, someone wrote:

I wanted to take a moment to thank you offline for ALL of the outstanding work you have done on your blog. It is one of the tools that is freeing me from my pro-State shackled thinking, although I confess it is difficult at times. The mis-conceptions run deep as they snag you when you are young. I don't know how you do it.

I am very interested in agorism.

Given your recent posts on Reader Mail #63, I thought I would ask you this;

Why the F** aren't you writing a P2P currency system? Sorry to sound a bit harsh but I have this feeling you could write it! Before I continue, let me tell you this, I work in IT. Am I a S/W programmer? No. I know Shell, Perl, and W3 standards like XML/XSL/HTML, you know the usual shit. I guess you could call me a Systems Management guy as I integrate stuff.

Anyway, here is how I see it:

Requirements:

1) P2P - No centralized points. You know this and why.
2) An app that people can download to their iPhone or Crackberry. Did you know Apple has a big brother kill switch? Anyway, I would like to see an Vuze/Bit Torrent Client that can circumvent the "kill switch", OR people can install it on whatever H/W that supports sonething ubiquitous (i.e. Java)
3) You would have digital currency that would be signed into existence between two parties when production occurs and removed when the original party providing the production accepts these coins via consumption. I am not sure if I made sense here, but I am thinking along the lines of Social Credit, if I am correct. This way, two consenting parties issue currency x 10,000,000 free market transactions.
4) What is your interest in writing it? You said it yourself...i is the next killer app. I agree w/ you. Oh man, the ramifications....
5) It would be opensourced of course. If the signing mechanism, be it PGP, DES, AES2, Blowfish, or whatever..if it can be cracked, it will be counterfeited. Again, I am not sure if I made sense.

I have to stop now, but I wanted to make contact and ask you what your thoughts might be on this...I am not sure if you would post this on your blog.

Any P2P currency system must be based on sound money (gold or silver). Quite frankly, an electronic P2P monetary system is irrelevant. Similarly, an "agoristBay" is needed, where agorists can buy and sell their services.

I don't need software to manage this. I can do just as good a job with pencil and paper. The valuable part is the network of trading partners, and not a piece of software. At this time, writing such a software program is premature optimization. Once a handful of agorists become active, only then is there a benefit to writing a P2P monetary system or "agoristBay". Even then, agorists might prefer pencil and paper to something electronic.

The valuable part of an agorist economy is the network of trustworthy contacts, and not a piece of software. Such software is useless without a trusted network of contacts.

I've given you sufficient description of how to write "decentralized P2P sound money" or a "decentralized warehouse receipt bank" or "agoristBay". Without a network of trading partners, such a program is useless. With a network of trading partners, you can keep track of things just as well with pencil and paper.

Software can be easily written as needed. The important thing right now is to start trading agorist-style.

If you know how to write software, go ahead and do it yourself. At this point, promoting agorism and starting to trade agorist-style myself is more important than writing software.

Writing software is easy. What is really needed is trading with actual tangible goods and services. Once you have an agorist trading group of more than 100 people, it'll be so big that you can't keep track of it with pencil and paper. Then, you probably should start working on software. Once you're actually trading agorist-style, then you'll see what is actually needed.

I just re-read my email, and I didn't want you to think I was being a bit harsh about you writing the P2P currency. Your correct response would have been, "Why the F*** aren't you writing it?".

Had a glass of wine or two before I sent you the previous email, so I apologize if I irritated you...

Yes, "write it yourself" is the correct response.

However, a better response is "A network of trustworthy trading partners is worth more than a piece of software. You need to establish a trusted agorist trading network of over 100 people before things get big enough that you need software to help. At that point, writing software is trivial."

There was a dealer around my area who was great for converting central bank paper into gold without requiring you too identify yourself. He understood privacy as he agreed to issue handwritten invoices only about products bought and sold. - no names or addresses, which of course made him a target and his Customers terrorists and criminals. He walked away from his business as FINTRAC ruined it. The previous article cites DGC's, but they were after the brick and mortar dealers as well. Now I have to find a new one..

The answer to this problem is to form a gold/silver/FRN barter network. Replace "FRN" with your local fiat currency if you live outside the USA. Keep track of buyers and sellers. You don't need software. A pencil and paper suffices. The value is your network of contacts, and not the software.

Suppose XYZ says "I'm willing to buy silver coins for $0.25 (cash) over spot." Suppose UVW says "I'm willing to sell silver coins for $0.50 (cash) over spot." Now, you have a market, with spot+$0.25 bid, spot+$0.50 offered. Suppose there was huge demand for silver. Suppose you were planning on withdrawing $1000 cash from your checking account. Instead, you can buy $1000 of silver (paying via check) and then sell that silver in the barter network for $1050, making a profit. In this way, the "free market" price of gold/silver should stay in line with prices in the slave economy. If they differed too much, then it would be profitable for someone to make the above arbitrage.

As long as it's possible to trade gold/silver for slave points in the slave economy, the barter network can continue to function.

Notice that both participants benefit from the transaction. The seller avoids capital gains taxes and the buyer get anonymity and the ability go purchase with cash.

If you have a liquid gold/silver/FRN barter network, then people will be much more willing to invest their savings in money.

I read that someone set up a gold/silver/FRN barter network, but required all transactions to occur at the official spot price. That led to some imbalances. The free market price of gold or silver should be whatever price there's an equal number of buyers and sellers. During times of hyperinflation, the free market price of gold or silver could deviate substantially from the "official" price.

If you send me a question by E-Mail, and I spend time writing a response, I'm probably going to publish it in a Reader Mail post. I'll remove your name. You may always publish a comment Anonymously.



By E-Mail, someone wrote:

I'm a senior in high school who respects a lot of your opinions.
Considering your experience in software engineering, I would like to
ask what schools you recommend as to get a CS degree in (I plan to
start my own business afterwards). Also, just out of curiousity, and
because that is what I really should be doing right now, It would be
interesting to know what you chose to write about for your college
essay.

You only really need a college degree if you're angling for a wage slave corporate job. A college degree at a top research university in the USA will set you back approximately $200k and 4 years of time. A lot of wage slave jobs expect a Master's also.

Instead of wasting $200k and 4 years on a college degree, you might be better off directly starting your own business. Without a degree, you'd have a hard time falling back to a corporate wage slave job if your business fails.

Why not use $200k as seed capital for your own business, and spend 4 years building your business? You can live off $200k for quite a few years, while you work on building your business. The biggest hardship for starting a business is "How do I pay my living expenses while working full-time on my business, before it is profitable?"

The State will lend an 18 year old $200k to put himself into debt so he can go to college. An 18 year old can't borrow $200k so he can start his own business. After graduation, you'll have the burden of repaying your $200k debt in addition to paying your living expenses.

If your parents have $200k in the bank, you're probably better off investing $200k in your business, or paying for living expenses while you work on your business. If your parents don't have $200k in the bank, then you're probably better off staying debt-free while you start your own business. $200k will cover your living expenses for several years while you work full-time getting your business started. I advise going for "organic growth", growing entirely via reinvested profits and spurning VC money. Don't hire anyone else until you can afford it. You might be tempted to find a partner, but if your partner isn't doing his fair share of the work, then your "partner" becomes dead weight.

If your parents have $200k in the bank, they'd probably be willing to waste it on college tuition. They probably can't be persuaded to let you use that $200k as seed capital for your own business.

If you tell your parents you'd rather start your own business instead of going to college, they'll probably freak out.

You may decide to take the path of least resistance and go to college.

There are some advantages of college. However, they could probably be obtained merely by hanging out near the local university. If you're hanging out with smart people, that has a beneficial result on yourself. When I was in college, not a single person ever said "Taxation is theft!", even though a wide spectrum of other "radical" ideas were discussed. (In retrospect, a careful discussion of "Taxation is theft!" and "The USA is actually a Communist country!" would have gone over very well with many girls.)

The average intelligence of my fellow students in high school (a magnet school) and college were higher than at any of my jobs. I'm not sure if that is a 100% fair comparison, because I've kept learning while a lot of my peers probably lost interest once they got a cushy job and got married.

Another advantage of college is meeting women. When I was in college, I figured "It'd be easier to meet women when I'm older and have a lucrative job. I'll focus on my studies for now." That was 100% wrong. First, the "lucrative job" never materialized for me, even though I tried my best. Second, when you're in college, "available women" intersection "women worth dating" is a decent percentage of "available women". As you get older, "available women" intersection "women worth dating" is a much lower percentage of "available women". I did put some effort into it, but if I knew then what I knew now, I would have done a lot better. My biggest regrets are women I could have hooked up with, if I had a better clue of how to do things. One useful piece of advice is to focus on who's interested in you, rather than who you specifically are interested in. (That's an aspect of pro-State brainwashing. You should focus on who you're most interested in and relentlessly pursue them. The correct action is to look around for who's interested in you.)

You can just hang out near a college and get almost the same benefit as actually attending the college.

The college "financial aid" rules are biased against parents who save prudently. Suppose your parents have $0 saved. In that case, you qualify for full financial aid. Suppose your parents have $50k saved. In that case, you qualify for $150k in financial aid and your parents' savings are taken. Unless your parents have so much savings that they can afford to pay your tuition, the financial aid rules mean that your parents pay the maximum they can afford. The college financial aid system is almost completely communist/socialist.

If you go to a state school, you might be able to cut the bill down to $50k-$100k, but that's still a hefty chunk of money. The professors at a top research university aren't much better than those at a #25-#150 school. If you go to Harvard, then the professor probably won't be interested in wasting his time on a schmuck undergrad. If you go to a #25-#150 school, it'll be easier to attract the attention of professors. It's easier to get the attention of professors if you're the top student at a mid-range school, than if you're an average student at a top school.

If you go to a top school, your fellow students will be smarter *OR* more brainwashed. At the time, I would have said "smarter". Now, I'm not sure if "more brainwashed" is more accurate. In the area of Math and Computer Science, there's an objective standard. It's not necessarily true in other fields.

A degree from a top university nearly 100% means "This student has been efficiently brainwashed." In the area of Math and Computer Science, there is true learning and ability. In most other areas, it's nearly 100% lies and propaganda.

If you value learning instead of a piece of paper, then you might be better off learning on your own. In college, some of the best learning occurred when I read the material on my own. I even took "abstract algebra" without attending lectures! (It conflicted with another class.) I did pretty well, even though I was 100% reliant on the textbook.

Right now, you're in high school as a senior? You're probably wasting 50+ hours per week on school-related activities. You don't have time leftover to learn things on your own. You've been brainwashed to believe that the only way you can learn something is via a teacher, rather than learning on your own via a book.

For example, MIT and other schools have placed some of their course materials online. You might be better off using them and learning on your own. Find out what books they're using, and read them on your own. It's cheaper to spend $500 on a few textbooks than $50k on tuition. If you live near a university, go to the local campus bookstore at the start of the semester. Browse through the Math and Computer Science books and buy anything interesting.

For Math, you need:
- Calculus
- Multivariable Calculus
- Differential Equations
Then, the Real Math starts:
- Point-Set topology
- Real Analysis
- Abstract Algebra
If you're really serious, you should take the first year of graduate level courses, along with some logic courses.

You can learn abstract algebra without having taken calculus previously.

For Computer Science, you need:
- Algorithms
- Numerical Analysis
- Compilers
- How to build/design a computer (starting from transistors)
- Operating Systems
- Regular Expressions, context-free grammars, Turing Machines, and NP-completeness

I found that reading a book was usually more helpful than the lectures.

Even though you learn how to write a quicksort algorithm in school, as a professional software engineer, you'll just use the qsort library. You still should learn the algorithms.

You can just look through a college's "required courses for CS/Math degree" and learn that stuff on your own.

In college, I also had to take a decent number of humanities courses and "distribution requirements". In retrospect, my Mathematics and Computer Science courses were the only ones that were actually worth much. The other courses still sucked up a lot of my time.

You might be better off learning on your own than attending college.

If you do decide to go to college, you can work on your business in your spare time. At the start of the semester, things are usually slow. During the summer, instead of an internship, work on your business.

You probably should have a couple of different businesses, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket with one big plan. Once you see something successful, then invest more resources in it.

You can read sites like "Hacker News" for more information on starting a business. I'd advise to go for 100% organic growth via reinvested earnings. VCs want someone with a "proven track record", which is completely useless to you. Further, the terms of VC funding typically make the founder an employee of the VC. If your company is successful and you have a disagreement with the VC, you might find yourself kicked out of your own company!

For example, my blog is growing 10%-20% per month via "organic growth". When other people like my blog, they refer it to others. 10% growth starting with 100 is lame. However, once you get up there, it can be an impressive amount. Even Wikipedia started out as an obscure site and grew at a steady pace. Rather than going for an instant homerun, organic growth over time is a better option for someone on a small budget.

Having partners is nice, but you need to find someone who's truly adding value. If you're profitable, you can keep 100% ownership yourself and pay your employees the old-fashioned way with cash. A great partner is a boon. A useless partner is dead weight.

Personally, I'm more interested in agorist businesses, not necessarily in the area of software. In that case, VC is totally out of the picture, since it'd be an off-the-books arrangement.

If you value knowledge, then you should learn on your own. You can start now, buying the appropriate books and reading them. It's hard, because school sucks up so much of your time. You've been brainwashed to believe that you can only learn via a teacher. Most of your homework, except in Math and Computer courses, is designed to waste your time. Even Math homework is damaging, because it's designed to crush people's Mathematical interest, except for those with a lot of ability.

A college degree is only valuable if you're seeking a corporate wage slave job. If you're starting a business that targets large corporate customers, you need the "right" pedigree. If you're starting a business that targets individual customers, then all you need is a good product. If you target individual customers, then you may only get 10%-20% organic growth per month. At first, that will be lame, but if you stick with it for 5 years, that can be great.

I consider it "not proven" that a college degree is sincerely worth $200k and 4 years. The price has more than doubled since I went to college, but salaries haven't doubled in the same time.

In software, the right person can make a huge difference. However, software is also incredibly competitive. There are a lot of smart people trying to make successful software companies. There are even more complete dumbasses trying to start software companies. If you have reasonable intelligence and choose the right area, you can succeed despite stiff competition.

Based on my experience at my last job, "being able to write a simple website" is a much more valuable skill than I thought. If you can find the right partner with the right connections, go ahead. Otherwise, you might be better off just starting your business by yourself, until you are profitable and can afford employees.

There are two main points:

1. If you value knowledge, just learn on your own.
2. If you value a piece of paper that says "Hire this schmuck!", then get a college degree. If you're starting your own business, then the value of the piece of paper is negligible.

I should start my own business, but I'm waiting a few more years. (I'm still recovering from my illness.)

Regarding my college essay, I'd almost forgotten about that! I remember when college admissions seemed like the most important thing in the world. The truth is that going into a lesser school doesn't mean you're a failure, and getting into great school doesn't guarantee success. I went to a decent school, but not my first choice. I feel I got fair value for my education, but if I were doing it again I might try learning on my own more, especially while still in high school. It's hard to learn on your own or say "I'm not going to college!" if you don't have supportive parents.

Most employers don't have the ability to screen potential employees themselves. Therefore, they rely solely on the screening performed by schools. Many headhunters say that I have a great education but my work history is horrible. As a recent college graduate with no experience, I'd have more opportunities than I actually have. In other words, my 10 years of experience has a *NEGATIVE* market value. I'm doing worse than a typical recent college graduate! I'm going to have to start my own business to do something that isn't a waste of my abilities.

For my college essay, I wrote about an incident in calculus class. There were two classes taught by the same teacher. I had the early section and someone else had the later section. Whenever there was an exam, one student from the later section would always ask us for a copy of the test. We didn't have a literal copy, but we could reconstruct it from memory. One day, there was a test scheduled, but the teacher canceled it. Some other students had the idea to make up a fake test that was really hard, and not tell the other students that the test was canceled. I helped them make up hard-but-believable questions for the fake test. One of the other students had sympathy for the schmuck and spilled the beans that the test was canceled. That was amusing.

It's interesting how a simple test can be so stressful to a high school student, yet seem so irrelevant now. I'm much more laid back now. My current attitude is "FSK got fired? Oh well. Find a new job." Looking to authority figures for validation is a problem when the authority figures don't deserve true respect.

My actual essay was much longer than that, but that's a decent summary.

Now, if asked for an essay, I'd probably write about the Compound Interest Paradox or agorism or other topics from my blog. If I were entering the Westinghouse science competition again, "The Black-Scholes Formula is Wrong!" might do well.

You'll probably wind up going to college, because your parents and friends would freak out if you didn't do it. Work on your business in your spare time and have some fun. I took my studies too seriously, which was a mistake in retrospect. My current mental state is good, but I learned the hard way. I felt that only my Computer Science and Mathematics courses were really worth my time. I took the minimum requirements for everything else. Get those minimum requirements out of the way as soon as possible.

"Don't go to college" is advice seriously worth considering, when you account for the time and money wasted. However, such advice is not practical. Peer pressure and parental pressure will force you to get a college degree. The only reason you really need a college degree is for a corporate wage slave job.

It makes practically no difference where you go to school. You can get the same amount of learning from buying a book and reading it. If you want a head start, find out what books colleges are using and start reading them now. I found most undergraduate-level CS books to be relatively easy to read, but I was used to reading advanced Math graduate level texts at the time.



gilliganscorner has left a new comment on your post "The Value of a Death March":

Too funny, FSK.

I read a book entitled "Death March" by Edward Yourdon, that describes what you are talking about.

It has been 10 years since I read it, but your experiences with all of this made me want to pick it up again to see if it was worth reading. You can see it here:

http://tinyurl.com/5uhryh

I think I read that book when I first started working as a software engineer. One of my employers had a copy in their library. Now, I only read stuff available for free on the Internet.

Most "management best practices" are treated as a substitute for common sense. If the manager is an unqualified idiot, then the project will be a failure no matter what. If the manager is good, then the project will succeed no matter what. Extreme adherence to any methodology is one way to guarantee failure.

I'm thinking "Refuse to work more than 45 hours per week!" is sound policy to avoid working for clueless people. After 45 hours, there's no benefit for working more. Clueless employers treat programming like ditch-digging, where productivity is strictly proportional to number of hours worked. Even for assembly-line work, when you work too many hours, there are more accidents and errors.



David_Z has left a new comment on your post "What is Good Money?":

I've blogged about this, especially as it relates to a gross misapplication of Gresham's Law. Like you, I'm fed up with the "gold is fiat money, too!" argument.

I also wrote an article on Gresham's Law.

The problem is State distortion of the market. There's a surplus of goods overvalued by State violence and a deficit of goods undervalued by State violence.

Gresham's Law is usually misquoted as an argument against a bimetallic standard. If you have a fixed exchange rate between gold and silver, then a bimetallic standard fails. If gold is undervalued and silver is overvalued, then people hoard gold and spend silver.

So long as media of exchange are chosen freely, it makes no difference why people value the commodity, only that they do.

The only reason anyone ever desires paper currency is because he or she is obliged by law to use it, or else. For Christ’s sake, the U.S. Government had to effectively issue a prohibition on the individual ownership of gold, in order to drive it out of common use. The government forces everyone to accept paper currency, quite literally at the point of a gun. If anyone who advocates fiat currency would like to address this point (and they never do), I’m all ears.

That's a commonly forgotten point. Gold ownership was illegal from 1933 to 1975 in the USA and most other countries. If gold ownership were not outlawed, then people would have used gold and boycotted the Federal Reserve. It took 40 years for people to be brainwashed into accepting unbacked paper as money.

Even a pure gold standard is abusable, if there is State regulation of banking and money.

Otherwise, I call bullshit on the “gold is fiat money, too!” argument.

In a true free market, people may use whatever they choose as money. Gold and silver are excellent at preserving their purchasing power over time.

Also remember that it's possible to have a much larger economy than the value of actual physical gold or silver. Metal money is merely a benchmark for setting price. If you have no trade surplus or deficit, you don't need to trade actual physical gold or silver.



Mike has left a new comment on your post "Beware the Mindwipe!":

Before I attained enlightenment...

Enlightenment, you say? Did you wash your cup after?

I don't get the religious reference.

I don't claim absolute perfect enlightenment. I'd definitely say I'm ahead of 99%, 99.99% or even 100% of everyone else.

I am able to tell, very quickly, if the person I'm dealing with knows what they're doing or if they're a scumbag. Regrettably, people who know what they're doing tend to be partnered with a scumbag/leech.

At my most recent job, the marketing owners were pretty good, but the people running the software group were scumbags. Recently, I went on an interview where the person running the software group knew what he was doing, but the marketing owner seemed like a scumbag. Opportunities of the latter type are workable, if the marketing owner has enough sense to stay out of the way.

I really need to find an opportunity where both sides of the business are run by non-scumbags, or start my own business and hire a non-scumbag.

I noticed that "Be yourself!" is simultaneously good advice and lousy advice. I tend to get along well with people who know what they're doing. Scumbags tend to hate me. I've decided "Scumbags hate FSK!" is an acceptable reaction, because then I don't waste too much time on them. Regrettably, my target population is 1% or less, which is "The Remnant". If "people with a clue" is less than 1%, then "two people with a clue working together" is almost a statistical impossibility, especially if most people don't have a good scumbag filter.



Anarcho-mercantalist had a very strong troll reaction to "Truth is not Relative". I considered rejecting his comments, but I want to be as open as possible. My preferred treatment for dealing with trolls is ridiculing them. Anarcho-mercantalist is surprisingly persistent.

I also judge each comment separately. Most of the time, my reaction to anarch-mercantalist is "He's trolling again!", but he occasionally writes something interesting.

Anarcho-mercantalist was even trolling when no third solution mentioned "Truth is not Relative".

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

I always wondered why doctors hated chiropractors...

I thought there were State licensing requirements for chiropractors? Maybe they aren't as strict as licensing requirements for doctors.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

Some humans that deny the existence of objectivity seem to define "objective" differently from FSKs definition. They define objective as a synonym for philosophical realism, which means that reality exists independently of the mind. They also support the philosophy of subjective idealism, which means that the mind creates reality and deny the existence of matter independent of the mind. This opposes the philosophy called materialism. Ludwig von Mises even rejected materialism. Subjective idealism, by definition, seems logically incompatible Aristotelianism and essentialism.

Hence, the subjective idealists who define objectivism in that way would oppose objectivism. Subjective idealists deny all forms of objectivism, so would deny that anything objective exists.

Another definition of objectivism means that subset of knowledge that does not vary according to human opinion. For example, the mathematical equations such as 2 + 2 = 4 is an objective statement. Subjective idealism is compatible with this definition of objectivism. Some equate subjectivism as the other portion of knowledge which varies by opinion. Examples of subjective knowledge include statements such as "This picture looks good." and "I oppose aggression." Some equate subjectivism as synonymous to subjective idealism. However, some, such as FSK, appear to not equate sybjectivism as subjective idealism, which might cause more conflicts.

According to the information mentioned, defining the term objectivism priori to debating with others would likely resolve potential semantic conflicts.

This comment is entirely trolling. It doesn't have anything logically coherent worth responding to.

I don't consider "Avoiding conflicts with trolls/fools." to be a realistic goal. As long as you write intelligently, fools will be offended. I'm not a mainstream media outlet where I have to coddle every single reader/viewer, lest advertisers drop my program.

While working, dealing with fools is an unavoidable problem until I have my own business. While blogging, I have zero patience for fools/trolls.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

I consider "Stealing is wrong" to be an absolute truth.

If you use E-prime, which avoids the words that mean "to be" such as am, is, was, are, were, be, been and being; your statement "Stealing is wrong" would look something like this: "I oppose theft." I assumed that your use of the word "absolute truth" to mean "objective truth." Therefore, you conclude that you meant that the statement "I oppose theft" is an objective truth (the second definition of objective). Since your use of the subject "I" implied it as your opinion, your statement logically follows as a subjective statement.

Unless I interpret your statement as "We all believe that theft contradicts our moral philosophy in all circumstances," your statement that "Stealing is wrong" is subjective.

I didn't read E-Prime carefully, because it seemed like nonsense. I agree with what Zargon said. E-Prime is a crippled version of English where it's impossible to make definitive truth statements about anything.

Something better than E-Prime is "Bayesian Reasoning". You assign a truth value strictly between zero and one to every possible statement. You never assign truth values of one or zero, lest you get trapped in a contradiction if your beliefs are wrong. For example, "Taxation is theft!" has a truth value greater than 0.99999. I don't write like that. I just say "Taxation is theft!", because English doesn't allow me to express Bayesian Reasoning efficiently. Plus, I need to counteract lies and propaganda spread elsewhere.

I don't use Bayesian Reasoning explicitly, because it can't be conveniently expressed in English. Absolute certainty equal to 1 is unattainable. If you can't be absolutely certain about "If you try hard enough, you'll eventually be able to prove 2+2=5", then you can't be certain of anything. (Due to the Incompleteness Theorem, you won't know if the generally accepted axioms of arithmetic are contradictory unless you spend forever checking every possible proof.)

I use Bayesian Reasoning intuitively, but not explicitly when I write.

The alien overseers use "Extended Bayesian Reasoning". Instead of assigning a value between 0 and 1 to any statement, you assign a truth probability distribution. In addition, you assign an uncertainty factor. Binary logic does not work for everyday reasoning about real-world issues.

When blogging, I use terms of absolute truth because you can't easily express Bayesian Reasoning or Extended Bayesian Reasoning in plain English. I say "Taxation is definitely theft!", because it's the closest approximation available in simple English, and to contrast the deliberate falsehoods spread elsewhere.

For example, I say "Current fluoride levels in water and toothpaste are beneficial for teeth" and "Current fluoride levels in water and toothpaste are harmful" are completely uncertain. I'd give a uniform truth distribution and high uncertainty range. I don't know of any scientific study conducted by a trustworthy source. I consider those statements not proven either way, but there probably is an attainable scientific answer. Even if fluoride is harmful, the current levels are at most slightly harmful. Some people say "Fluoride in water leads to increased passivity by people!", but there are many other pro-State brainwashing factors that could account for that.

As another example, "Taxation is theft!" and "Government is terrorism!" get assigned a truth probability distribution that is concentrated near 1, and a low uncertainty factor.

As another example, "God exists" is a completely unknown probability distribution. By definition, you cannot get any evidence in favor or against that statement.

barry b. has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

I think you just pretty much summed up how I feel.... again!

"There is no objective standard of truth" is an important pro-State troll point.

Zargon has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

If you use E-prime, which avoids the words that mean "to be" such as am, is, was, are, were, be, been and being;

This is rather clever. I originally rewrote the two paragraphs following the quote, substituting "2+2=4" for "stealing is wrong", intending to make a joke comment, showing that 2+2=4 is subjective in exactly the same way.

But then I realized I couldn't write the equivalent statement for "I oppose theft" without using the "to be" words. The obvious "I believe two plus two equals four" doesn't work, it uses equals, which is a version of "to be". Then I noticed the trick.

The rules of the game (E-Prime) simply forbid the use of the class of words necessary to make useful statements of absolute truth. Deliberately crippling your language so as to not be able to make a statement of absolute truth, and then using that deficiency as support for there not being absolute truth is, at best, insane.

I agree that E-Prime is an intentionally crippled version of English that prevents you from making definitive statements about anything.

Bayesian Reasoning or Extended Bayesian Reasoning are much more effective.

(I define absolute truth as something that is true at all times, for all people, in all places. I suspect FSK's definition of absolute truth is the same or nearly the same)

I actually don't assign universal truth to any statement. I write "Taxation is theft!" is absolutely true. I really mean "Taxation is theft!" has a truth rating greater than 0.99999. For all practical purposes, I act as if "Taxation is theft!" is a universal statement.

Money quote from the article:

Korzybski felt that all humans should receive training in general semantics from grade school on, as "semantic hygiene" against the most prevalent forms of logical error, emotional distortion, and "demonological thinking." E-Prime provides a straightforward training technique for acquiring such semantic hygiene.

Funny, they must have forgotten 1984 in the list of references, because that's clearly prior art on the concept of controlling thought by controlling language.

I don't consider E-Prime to be worth anything. Bayesian Reasoning or Extended Bayesian Reasoning are worth more. I'll put a more detailed article on that in my draft queue.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

I think you got a mistake here, E-prime does not consider the word "equals" a form of "to be". By definition, the only words that represent valid "to be" forms include is, are, was, were, be, been, being and their contractions, such as it's and shes's (which represent shorthand forms of it is and she is). E-prime considers the words such as has, have, do, does and equals as valid.

An objective E-prime form of "I oppose theft" exists: "According to the libertarian code of ethics, moral actions do not include theft."

An anarchist view of E-Prime exists.

Just because someone calls themself an "anarchist" doesn't mean they aren't a fool. There's no State licensing requirements for "anarchists"!

If there were State licensing requirements for calling yourself an anarchist, you can be sure that some people would be lining up to apply for the license!

E-Prime just rewrites statements to represent more clear and concise views. It avoids the essentialist and the naive realist categorizations. For example, if you try define the term "zebra", often we would get "A zebra is a family of Equidae." This definition implies an essentialist view, because the overuse of the word "is" categorizes results in a biased subjective view of the definition. Since the definition implied that it prefers the biological classification of Equidae over others, it implied an essentialist view: all objects must have a 'correct' categorization. It avoids other 'definitions' such as "A zebra looks like a horse with stripes." and "Zebras originated in Africa." Another objective 'definition' of zebra looks like this: "Scientists classify the zebra as a subcategory of the family Equidae." These three definitions represent objective definitions, while the first represent a subjective definition, not all of us define a zebra the first way. No valid definition or categoration exists, because of the problem of the universals. This book refutes the essentialist view.

Just because someone wrote a book, doesn't mean they definitively refuted something.

A lot of pro-State trolls confuse "logical refutation" and "gibberish". If you're a fool, then I can't have a logical debate with you.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

Non-valid e-prime statements such as "Liberty is non-aggression." contains ambiguities. It may mean that 'non-aggression' defines liberty or it may mean the utilization of non-aggression would result in maximum individual liberty. The analytic-synthetic distinction also arises here. Analytic expressions such as the definition that liberty equals non-aggression and synthetic expressions such as the conclusion that utilizing non-aggression; perfectly analogizes the disproff of the analytic-synthetic distinction by W.V. Quine's criticism.

This ambiguity would probably result in label wars between the pro-liberty interventionists and the pro-liberty libertarians who define liberty differently. Thus, avoiding the use of the "to be" words would likely result in a reduction of label wars.

I'm not interesting in "avoiding disputes with fools and trolls". As long as I'm writing intelligently, many fools and trolls will be offended by my content. They are sub-human and not worth my time.

"Avoid offending people" is pro-State troll reasoning.

David Z has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

Anarcho-mercantilist's conclusion, "your statement that "Stealing is wrong" is subjective" violates the E-prime rule set forth above, and is consequently, a subjective statement.

zing.

When you say "All interpretations of reality are equally valid", one of those versions of reality is actual correct reality. If you accept all possible versions of the truth, then you must also accept actual correct truth!

That is the mistake that the God of Absolute Unopposable Evil made when he created a universe of absolute perfect evil. He created a universe where every possible version of the truth is simultaneously true. However, he also included actual correct truth as one of the possibilities! The God of Absolute Unopposable Evil couldn't tell the difference between fake truth and real truth, so he accidentally created fake truth along with real truth.

In human terms, pro-State brainwashing must include many possibilities. Mathematics must be taught honestly. Otherwise, you wouldn't fool the people who have natural Mathematical ability. Some people must learn how to think correctly, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to build things for the red market to leech. In turn, these people will eventually figure out what's going on and get rid of the State.

Binary logic is a form of pro-State brainwashing. Binary logic is great when dealing with Math or computers. Binary logic fails when dealing with real-world applications. If you use binary logic to analyze real-world problems, then you get caught in a trap if you have contradictory beliefs.

Bayesian Reasoning or Extended Bayesian Reasoning is superior to binary logic when analyzing real-world problems.

"Truth is not Relative" got a strong troll reaction from anarcho-mercanatalist.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Truth is not Relative":

I have asked someone why is he working two cash jobs at the same time as getting welfare, and living in low income apartment while driving 750IL.

How much does a BMW 750IL cost? On the Internet, it was $10k used and very old, and $85k+ new.

At one time, I would have said that such behavior is immoral. Now, my reaction is "Good for him!" He's almost working as a true agorist!

I wouldn't try that myself. Most welfare programs come with strings attached. Social workers may inspect your apartment at random times, to ensure you aren't secretly working. If you have a night job or weekend job, then it's workable.

His answer was a question directed back at me:"If you're in a pipe with a shotgun, which side of the shotgun would you rather be on, stock or barrel"?

Regrettably, those are the only two options in the present. You can be the thief or you can be the victim. I prefer to avoid the State as much as feasible.

Most people would rather be a banker/lawyer/trader/politician/MBA/CEO/accountant than be someone who does actual useful productive work. If you legally do productive work, you're just letting other people steal from you.

I reinterpret his question as follows: "If you have a socialist government, would you rather be paid taxes of others or be taxed to support others"? Dumb question, any retard can answer this.

Isn't it the manifestation of a Gresham's law, but in other words?
When theft is forcefully made to be equal to honor, wouldn't everyone keep honor and use only theft?

Yes. This is a variation of Gresham's law. State violence overvalues theft and undervalues working, so there's a shortage of useful work and a surplus of theft.

Most people on welfare have a marginal taxation rate over 100%. Suppose you have $30k/year in welfare benefits. Suppose you get a job that pays $40k/year. You lose your $30k/year in welfare benefits, *PLUS* you pay taxes on your $40k/year of income. Therefore, if you're on welfare, you'd be a fool to get an entry-level job. Your friend is keeping his $30k/year welfare benefit, while also earning $40k/year working. Good for him!

That is why it is better to rob than to be robbed, if only those two are choices offered. Socialist Government will steal from everybody, no exceptions. You can only steal something back, or more, while you at it. It is fair, because you must understand, you won't always be successful in stealing back what was stolen from you. So, you better take all you can while you can, because whatever you haven't taken, government will NEVER give back.

By stealing, government starts this vicious circle of stealing back and stealing to compensate for future losses to government. This is why socialist government cannot stop and become fair. Once on welfare path, it must necessarily end itself in full destruction.

This person is actually behaving in a morally just manner. He isn't a politically connected insider, yet he's paying a negative taxation rate! Good for him!

The more people who act like this person, the sooner the State collapses. If this guy is "stealing" $30k/year in welfare benefits, then that's $30k/year less that's available for terrorism and other State activities.

Would you rather spend $30k/year helping someone abuse welfare, or spend $30k/year murdering Iraqis?

I prefer to boycott the State completely, rather than exploit defects in welfare like this person.



Klava has left a new comment on your post "Social Status and Intelligence":

Easy answer. Nerds aren't smart at all. In fact they are so dumb, that they perceive their ability to understand machines as smartness.

That's wrong. Really, there are multiple axes of intelligence. There's technical intelligence, which covers Math, Computers, and real Science. (Most people employed as scientists are fakers.) There's fake emotional intelligence. This is the NLP idiot manager tactics. These people fake true leadership skills, but use lies and manipulation to get their way.

Most people are strong in one area but weak in the other. I'm also mentioning a 3rd axis of intelligence. There's also genuine emotional intelligence. This is the ability to be a true leader rather than a fake leader. Unfortunately, most people in positions of power are fake leaders, of the abusive type. People who show the qualities of a true leader are falsely labeled as being antisocial.

In practice, most people excel at either technical intelligence or fake emotional intelligence. Most people with technical intelligence wind up abused by people with fake emotional intelligence. This leads to them not developing genuine emotional intelligence.

I claim that I've acquired technical intelligence and genuine emotional intelligence. I don't use fake emotional intelligence behaviors, but I can identify when other people are using them. Usually, the people in positions of State-backed power are those with high fake emotional intelligence.

They don't even realize that everything else is much much more complicated. Human-created rigid world of machines, is the most complicated thing they will ever able to get (with help of a manual).

I disagree again. Interacting with humans is random/complicated, because most humans are completely insane. When two insane people interact, the result is random. It's based on how much they can exploit/abuse each other.

When two sane people interact, the outcome is not random. Unfortunately, I know no other sane people to practice with.

Dealing with pro-State trolls is difficult and complicated. Dealing with intelligent life is actually not that hard.

Being on top of social order, takes much more complicated mind, the real rules are never spoken, and they change every second, and there are no manuals.

That is false. The rules for correct social interaction are universal and do not change. When you use fake emotional intelligence, then the rules are ever-changing.

Frequently, very smart and successful people will appear helpless with machines. There are two reasons for that:

1. They aren't used to the rectangular world of machines, without subtle clues, where they can only use the knowledge, not intelligence.

2. There is no motivation to learn the machine for anyone smart. There are plenty of "machine controllers" that can be had easily, and made to deal with machines for cheap.

In the present, the average high school graduate has a decent level of computer literacy.

If you have the ability to force/manipulate other people into working for you, then why develop useful skills? Once the State collapses, then fake emotional intelligence will no longer be a useful survival skill.

Does the blame lie with the abusers or the victims? The people with technical intelligence should not let people with fake emotional intelligence take advantage of them.

Mike Gogulski has left a new comment on your post "Social Status and Intelligence":

I just struck everyone named "Klava" off my Christmas list.

I couldn't tell if Klava was trolling or just mistaken.

Klava has left a new comment on your post "Social Status and Intelligence":

That was a funny line, Mike.

But seriously, the last thing you should do is to allow yourself think you're smart. Obviously this is an even worse sin than refusing to look the truth in the eyes, even if it isn't in your favor.

What's wrong with thinking you're smart? I am aware that the current economic and political system is stacked against me. In most businesses, a person with high fake emotional intelligence but low technical intelligence is making the decisions. They will have a natural aversion to someone like me.

Should I become a better ****sucker? Should I keep looking for a job in a company not run by scum? Once a company attains a certain size, scumbags take over. I have to get in a small startup near the beginning, or start my own company.

Even if I work legally, I'm still supporting the bad guys via taxes and inflation. For true freedom, I must work as an agorist.

There's nothing wrong with thinking you're smart if you're actually smart? I have a high amount of technical intelligence and genuine emotional intelligence. People with fake emotional intelligence will hate me. I accept that, and am looking for ways around it.

I didn't want to offend anybody, I just pointed out what I've been shown, assuming that everyone here seeks for the truth above all.

I have a reasonable balance of intelligence and awareness. I'm aware of my limitations, and the limitations of the people around me. I'm looking for a solution.

Is the problem "FSK is defective." or "The economic and political system is defective. Everyone is nearly completely insane." Which viewpoint takes more insight, the former or the latter? Am I being stubborn in the face of impossible odds? Or, am I going to take a nearly hopeless situation and turn it around?



DixieFlatline has left a new comment on your post "LEH, MER, and BAC Foolishness":

FSK, Peter Schiff seems to believe that BoA took on Merrill in order to get big enough it is deserving of a bailout.

What do you think about this?

Here is the link

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog/?p=540

I was thinking of that point when I made that post, but I forgot to mention it.

It definitely helps to be one of the biggest banks, because then you're firmly in the "too big to fail" category. The goal of a bank is to milk the State for subsidies, and not do actual useful work. The larger the bank is, the more efficiently they can lobby the State for favors.



real estate supplies has left a new comment on your post "The Communist Manifesto's Successful Implementatio...":

YoU know, i wouldnt have paid no mind to this, and i wouldnt have thought about comparing it to Communism. However i completely agree with you after reading this, you make an incredibly brilliant point.

Amazing.
Cheers,
Lisa

I almost rejected this comment as spam. You should come up with a better user ID than "real estate supplies" if you want to be taken seriously.

I'm planning an updated version of that post. If you really think about it, the USA is actually a Communist country. Corporate control of the means of production is the functional equivalent of State control of the means of production.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Huge Increase in Gold and Silver Price":

There is a typo in this line:
According to Kitco, Gold increased almost 11% to $862. The price of gold had sharply decreased.

It should have said the price of dollar sharply decreased.

I fixed that obvious typo. You know what I meant.

anarcho-mercantilist has left a new comment on your post "Huge Increase in Gold and Silver Price":

"It should have said the price of dollar sharply decreased."

Not really. The price of gold is easily manipulated by the financial industry, so gold isn't an accurate measure of price.

In the short term, the financial industry may manipulate the gold price. In the long term, the price of gold should track true inflation pretty closely. I predict that over the next 10 years, gold and silver will be the best performing investment.

The financial industry has an incentive to discredit gold. Gold is the only investment where the financial industry does not get to leech a few percent each year. For a money market or bond investment, there's leeching via inflation. For a stock investment, corporate management leeches a couple of percent per year. Even with a real estate investment, there's the drag of property taxes. For example, where I live, the city government is planning to jack up property taxes. This will further crash property values. Gold is the only investment where you get full allodial title.

Speculation can influence prices without any change in money supply. For example, if speculators predict that the money supply would double over the next year, the price of gold would immediately increase; even if the money supply didn't change. The price of gold has risen due to increased speculative demand. Speculators bid up the gold price as the predict that they would reap the profits from negative real interest rates, after they heard the news that the fed would increase inflation.

Is the increase in the price of gold due to speculation in gold, or an increase in the supply of dollars?

Negative real interest rates are an incentive to speculate in gold and other commodities. The financial industry has an interest in manipulating the price of gold downwards.



Zargon has left a new comment on your post "What are Fnords?":

I think it more likely that good fnords are created by accident, or subconsciously, than by alien intervention. In order for aliens to be causing or assisting the creation of good fnords, we would have to assume that aliens exist and have the technology to plant suggestions in people's brains, and that they want humans to break out of their slave thinking. But if that were the case, they could simply alter the thinking of evil people directly. (or everybody still in slave mode, but I think removing the evil people from the equation would cause everybody else to break out by removing the constant reinforcement).

If aliens do exist, they would be subject to a "Prime Directive" restriction like in Star Trek. They could use their godlike powers to directly achieve their goals, but that spoils all the fun!

How do you know that life on Earth isn't a reality show for super-advanced aliens, like that episode of South Park indicated? (another fnord!)

It's better for the aliens to help the good people just a little. That's more entertaining.

I won't discount it as a possibility, (perhaps they can only alter thinking under a specific set of circumstances), but I'd still say it's much more likely that good fnords are created subconsciously.

For example, the one with the protagonist saving somebody sentenced to death for a minor crime. The writers probably don't notice that people who never hurt anybody are essentially (or literally) being sentenced to death every day. But humans are basically good, and the writers are no exception. They recognize that unjust punishment is immoral and should be stopped, even if they can't see the unjust punishment around them.

You can't prove or disprove the existence of super-advanced aliens. The circumstantial evidence I've seen indicates "Maybe! It's worth considering as a possibility!" If I were to go with the "promote agorism via standup comedy" route, I'd say "I'm secretly backed by advanced aliens who can suggest thoughts." to maximize the humor value. If I seem like a total fruitcake, that makes it easier to subversively spread the truth. If anybody gives me a hard time, I would just say "It's only a clever comedy act!"

Are the fnords due to creativity of individual humans? Are there alien overseers subtly manipulating things behind the scenes? I've seen circumstantial evidence that says "The aliens might be real!", but of course there's no smoking gun or definite proof. Via Bayesian Reasoning, I'm seriously concerned about the possibility.

As a practical matter, I should just do what I think is best, whether aliens are secretly helping me or not.

My theory is that when an intelligent person is attempting to be creative, the alien overseers (if they exist) can steer their thoughts in the right direction. It only has to succeed once in awhile to be effective. Due to my experiences, I now have a high-bandwidth connection!

The evil fnords are too well coordinated. Is there a Supreme Leader of Humanity? Is the current corrupt system merely the aggregate result of a lot of stupidity? Via Bayesian Reasoning, the existence of the Supreme Leader of Humanity (human or alien) is a possibility seriously worth considering.



Monkt has left a new comment on your post "The Human Whisperer":

So you are saying red zone humans mostly work in the red market?

I didn't think of that color coordination. Yes, it's true.

The most evil/insane humans are best at exploiting the State for their personal benefit. If you excel at fake emotional intelligence, then you excel at working in the red market. If you have technical intelligence, then the red market only wants you enough to help further their agenda. If you have genuine emotional intelligence, then you'll feel very unwelcome in the red market.

For example, a policeman with genuine emotional intelligence will have a hard time enforcing illegitimate laws.

The "red zone humans" are held as the example for everyone else to follow. Via the State, they are spectacularly wealthy and successful.

I mean "red zone humans" in the exact same sense as the Dog Whisperer refers to "red zone dogs".



By E-Mail, someone wrote:

As i see it the fed gives the treasury the right tp print money and then they loan it to us???????????/If not then how can we have a deficit.Since our money is pegged to nothing if we print it we own it.Do u think the dollar has made a bottom

The dollar won't be at its full bottom until it reaches a value of absolutely nothing. Until the final collapse, there will be inflation. Over the next 10-20 years, the rate of inflation should increase, both for the US dollar and other fiat currencies.

I answered this question in "The National Debt - Who is the Creditor". The national debt is funny money. The Federal government could, at any time, print money to pay off the national debt. Currently, money/wealth spent on "interest payments on the national debt" doesn't vanish into thin air. It winds up in financial industry insiders' pockets.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Huge Increase in Gold and Silver Price":

Well, gold is the only real money here. Paper promises are not. The value of dollar may have not changed, since as you say (just above) the dollar supply wasn't increased (if it was so).

However, the price of dollar had definitely dropped. Whether by manipulation or not, the price had decreased.

There is no such thing as "price of gold", it makes no sense. It does makes some sense if we measure it in silver or some other money. But, with respect to non-money, such a fraud notes, it is only one way: the ratio of exchange of gold for paper is the price of paper, and not the other way around.

For example, today the price of dollar is 1/870 of gold ounce, while the value of dollar is about 1/30000 of gold troy ounce of gold.

I disagree with your 1/30000 figure. That assumes that the Federal government re-establishes a gold standards, and redeems dollars based on the amount of physical gold in the US Treasury.

Even under a pure gold standard, the size of the economy may be far greater than the amount of physical gold. For example, if A ships 10 ounces of gold of goods to B, and then B ships 10 ounces of gold of goods to A, then no gold changes hands. Gold is merely a benchmark to establish price. When A and B haggle over the price of their goods, they merely haggle over the gold-denominated price. If necessary, gold can be shipped to cover a surplus or deficit.



Blogger ate some of my work on this post. If you made a comment older than a few days and I forgot to respond, and you want a response, then remind me. I think I got everything, but I'm not 100% sure.

I don't feel bad about losing my job. I'm only annoyed that I forgot to back up the post drafts I had stored in a Notepad file and my FireFox bookmarks. (When firing me, they locked me out of my PC. What ***holes! I knew I wasn't going to be there much longer, but I didn't think it would end that soon. I should have been keeping backups. Anyway, it was only a few posts.)

Sometimes, moving on is the correct decision. I'm trying to impose a strict "Don't work for scum!" policy. I rejected one job, suspecting scummy behavior. I got a bad vibe and another insultingly lowball salary offer. If it takes me more than a few months to find another, then I'll take something scummy. I really should start my own business, but I'm going to wait a few more years.

7 comments:

Zargon said...

The article on the Chinese cop-killer was interesting. My initial reaction is that perhaps the Chinese have less physical freedom than us, and more mental freedom. It seems logical that the two would be negatively correlated, as more oppression seems like it would result in more dissent. On the other hand, the US has been going the wrong way on both counts for... just about it's entire lifespan, I think.

In a rare move for me, I went looking for comments on the article, wondering what people would think about a large public support for a cop-killer, and ended up on digg. I was shocked at how many people supported the guy. I expected nearly universal condemnation, but about half were at least understanding if not outright supportive.

But part of our brainwashing is to overplay the conditions of places like China, so we seem better off in comparison, and this was reflected in some of the comments. The Chinese guy was stopped for no reason, kidnapped, and apparently beaten/maimed. Later, his lawsuit against them was thrown out. Very few commenters seemed to notice that events like that already happen on a fairly regular basis in the US, and I've no doubt there would be near universal condemnation (to put it lightly) if one of those victims did the same thing, with the only difference being his location.

DixieFlatline said...

I do not feel I was adequately represented in this reader mail.

As far as SEO, you're ranking for long tail terms. "Ruby on Rails Sucks" is a 4 word keyphrase that Google estimates gets 210 searches per month. This is good if you rank high for it, but the entire point of long tails is to rank for 1,000 of them, so now you are ranking for nearly a quarter million searches per month.

Blogger is a crap platform for SEO. Wordpress is much better. Even hosted Wordpress is better because you can pingback and trackback automatically.

Also, your on page SEO is pretty bad. There is no need to leave your site name in the page title of individual posts. It dilutes the keyword density.

Your post titles and (in post) links don't have the title attribute of the <.a.> tag defined.

Better to abandon blogger. If you were on Wordpress, all of your citations of NoThirdSolution, NoState, CheckYourPremises etc would be building backlinks for you. Obviously, that would hold true for NoTreason, but then you don't link to me, I just link to you. Unrequited blog love.

Why wait a couple years to go into business? Get a domain name and throw a piece of free software you coded up there for the world. Use it as a means to promote your blog. To network. To grow professionally. It doesn't have to be complicated. Make sure you can walk away any time you like if you find a job or you want to do something different.

Also, there are probably quite a few opportunities online to code and get paid through a 3rd party service like E-Gold. I'd be concerned about escrow, because I hate getting burned by people who want, but can't pay. Just the same, there are smart ways to go about that.

John Petrie said...

"'Ruby on Rails Sucks!' was another unexpected SEO success. A few people google that phrase every day, and my post is #5!"

Looks like it's up to #3 right now.

"I'm getting bored/frustrated with mises.org, and haven't posted there in awhile."

I have really appreciated a lot of the stuff I've learned from Mises.org over the years, and the current banking/financial crisis is another great opportunity for the columnists and commenters to teach us laymen about monetary theory and banking. I am woefully ignorant about it. I'm working on rectifying that. You definitely seem more informed and insightful about money and banking than 99% of the people out there on the interblags, so I, for one, appreciate all the education you could give us.

Not that you have to keep setting the pro-State trolls on the discussion threads right. Keep writing lessons on your own web page. I'll be so bold as to suggest the next topic for you: What the hell is a "mortgage-backed security"? I tried learning about them from Wikipedia, but there were so many other terms I needed to learn first that it almost turned into this.

Thomas Blair said...

My post on the AIG bailout has been a huge success from a SEO perspective. I still don't get SEO. "Popular in search engines" is rarely correlated with my expectations.

When I write articles related to current financial news, those posts tend to do well.


There's a great reason for this: those are the things that people are searching for! Few know about the compound interest paradox and even fewer call it by the name you do (I've heard it called "debt virus", "interest time bomb", and other things). They don't know about agorism and thus don't search for those things. They are, however, looking for explanations for what's going on in the world around them. Here's where your posts on Miley Cyrus, rice shortages, FRE & FNM bailouts come in handy. They find your site to read about AIG and how much it will cost them and they happen across a wealth of information on how this country got to be this way and the only real way out. I'd consider doing far more posts about current financial market happenings, including discussing fundamentals such as terminology (this has been done), investing basics, etc. You gotta please the customer!

Francois Tremblay said...

"Regrettably, there is no free market health care system at this time. Giving birth in a hospital is your only feasible option."

How in the hell did you get that idea? There are a lot of pepole giving birth at home, and they don't go anywhere near a hospital. That is exactly WHY I want you to watch the movie!

NO ONE should EVER give birth in a hospital.

anarcho-mercantilist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anarcho-mercantilist said...

Is the increase in the price of gold due to speculation in gold, or an increase in the supply of dollars?

The increase in hoarding due to speculation causes the prices to raise, I think.

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