The Unlikely New Generation of Unabomber Acolytes

“What is bad about an article like the one I expect you to write is that it may help make the anti-tech movement into another part of the spectacle (along with Trump, the ‘metoo movement,’ neo-Nazis, antifa, etc.) that keeps people entertained and therefore thoughtless.”

—Ted Kaczynski quoted in John H. Richardson, “Children of Ted.” New York Magazine. December 11, 2018.

I’ve read Ted Kaczynski’s collected writings, Technological Slavery. His analysis, particularly around genetic technologies like CRISPR, is insightful. His central idea is that technology cannot abide a limit. If it is possible, it will eventually be done, whether it is genetically designed humans, tactical nuclear weapons, or what have you. Even absent extreme scenarios, technology is already fundamentally undermining human freedom, and it will only get worse.

But, what is to be done? Kaczynski believes in a model based on communism and vanguardism. According to this view, if pressure is applied in the right places by an activist minority at the right moment, there will be a general system collapse, a rough period of die-off of most of the human population, followed by a return to nature. And, you could point to Castro or Lenin to show how a small group has successfully led a change when faced with impossible odds.

Except, this view is more akin to Marx’s ideas that the state would fall away after these revolutions, when the state was no longer necessary. There’s never been a general revolution of the sort Marx envisioned, only regional and local collapsing of states.

When the state fails, it fragments power into the hands of regional and local warlords. Without the modern state to support the technological apparatus, technological capability becomes significantly reduced. But, it is not a return to nature and bands of hunter/gatherer tribes of people.

Further, Lenin leads to Putin. Revolution brings new unwritten rules to replace the formal codified rules of the past. It will be in the interests of individuals and groups within a society to harness technology to project power for their faction. And in the end, reconstituted technological institutions and applications will be the outcome of any “revolution,” even one that occurs in a fundamentally world-changing scenario, such as a 200 meter rise in sea level.

The anti-tech “movement” will always be a spectacle because you cannot form a community or a way of life around a negative. Being Amish is a lifestyle. In it, the impact of technology on individuals and communities is the litmus test of whether to adopt it or not. What life can be built around being against any kind of technology? The real issue is having a heuristic for choosing technologies and coming up with a regime of imposing limits beyond hoping that the capability will simply disappear.

Civilization brings material comforts and domination. But, the dream of civilization, like the American dream, is a dream to escape the grinding gears of social domination and at least riding along on the tractor, if you cannot be the one driving it. Wishing that people would prefer to maintain their and other people’s freedom rather than prefer convenience and comfort is to wish people to be other than how they are. It’s utopian foolishness.

What Does It Mean To Be Amish?

There were a group of tourists in a bus in Amish country. Getting off the bus, they saw an old Amish man standing nearby.

One of the tourists asked the old Amish man, “What does it mean to be Amish?”

The old Amish man, who we’ll call Amos, started talking about Jesus, and before too long, another tourist stopped him. He said, “We know all about Jesus. But, what does it mean to be Amish?”

Amos stopped for a moment and thought. Then, he asked, “How many of you have television sets?” Raising his hand to indicate they should do so to say they did.

Every hand went up.

Then, he asked, “How many of you think that television, on balance, has a negative impact on your life and on your communities?”

Again, every hand went up.

Finally, he asked,”How many of you are willing to give up television?”

They group looked to one another, but no hands were raised.

“That is what it means to be Amish.”

Cyber Brief: Cryptolog | National Security Archive

“Five years ago, the National Security Agency (NSA) released 136 issues of its internal Cryptolog periodical spanning 1974 through 1997. The collection offered a look into the some of the discussions being held within one of America’s most secretive intelligence agencies. Today the GWU-based National Security Archive is providing a complete index of all 1,504 items in the declassified collection, including but not limited to articles, interviews, and puzzles.”

Cryptolog

Checking Clothing Quality

“1. To quickly assess an item’s quality, hold the fabric up to a bright light…”The thicker the material, the higher the quality…”

—Alison Caporimo, “14 Expert Ways To Tell If Clothes Are Well-Made Or Super CheapBuzzfeed. May 16, 2016.

In short, check:

  • Thickness, durability of material made of natural fibers.
  • Hem allowance of one and a half inch or more.
  • Stitching, French seams with patterns matching.
  • Buttonholes and for liners, which are always a good indicator of quality.

Frauchiger-Renner Paradox Clarifies Where Our Views of Reality Go Wrong

“The experiment, designed by Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, involves a set of assumptions that on the face of it seem entirely reasonable. But the experiment leads to contradictions, suggesting that at least one of the assumptions is wrong. The choice of which assumption to give up has implications for our understanding of the quantum world and points to the possibility that quantum mechanics is not a universal theory, and so cannot be applied to complex systems such as humans.”

—Anil Ananthaswamy, “Frauchiger-Renner Paradox Clarifies Where Our Views of Reality Go Wrong.” Quanta Magazine. December 3, 2018.

Probably the clearest explainer you’ll find. The assumptions are that: quantum theory is universal, quantum theory is consistent, and opposite facts cannot both be true. This thought experiment suggests that at least one is false, and depending on which one either leads to positions that quantum theory collapses into classical physics at scale, observer perspective changes results, or the many worlds hypothesis.

CPR as Death Ritual | Topic

“Only about one in five receiving CPR in a hospital leave the hospital alive.

Only 1 in 10 elderly patients receiving CPR are alive a year later…

…A society’s death rituals make a statement not only about what it means to die, but also what it means to live.

For a world obsessed with technology, our final rites are a last communion with data and machines.”

—Nathan Gray. “What Doctors Know About CPR.” Topic. December 2018.

CPR has a place, but it’s a small one. It should never be a piece of theater for families that cannot accept the fact that death comes to us all, and modern medicine cannot prevent it.