Blocking Off the Sky With a Giant Screen

Last night I dreamt that there were brilliant light displays in the night sky that that were similar to meteors burning through the atmosphere, but with more complicated patterns. They became more intricate and enduring, and I became suspicious. Then a large, bright logo for a local sports team appeared in the sky and I remembered that recently large screens had been erected that covered the entire sky, letting natural light through but also adding artificial phenomena. From then on we could no longer trust our celestial observation, we would be unable to know if what we saw was real or fake; it could all be filtered, manipulated, and manufactured.

This dream must have resulted from what I read yesterday:

We have all the data we need for any question. We know more about world than we really want or need to know. What we lack is information and more important, trustworthy sources of information.

Z Blog, The Modern Prison State

Wealth Tax

You can’t tax the super-rich. They are the ones who collect the taxes.

If the problem is that the super rich are too powerful, have too much control over the state, then they just won’t allow any tax or law or regulation that would threaten their wealth or power. Any wealth tax that does get passed would be something that they are able to avoid, and would likely hit upper middle class (professionals, entrepreneurs) hardest, and move their wealth up.

When oligarchs have control, state apparatuses are their tools, not the people’s. Politicians are employees of the oligarchs. The legal changes they make may have some secondary or temporary benefit for the regular people, but the net effect will be to benefit the oligarchs. If a politician tries to do otherwise, he will be fired because he’s not doing his job.

The Argument for Mandatory Vaccination

The argument for making vaccination mandatory hinges on the fact that vaccines are not perfect–they don’t guarantee protection against the disease they are intended to inoculate against; there is a chance that someone who gets the vaccine will still get the disease.

Because if vaccines worked perfectly, then everyone could choose for themselves whether they wanted to be vaccinated, or whether they wanted to not be vaccinated and risk getting the disease. Someone else not getting vaccinated would pose no risk, in terms of transmitting the disease-causing agent, to someone who who did get vaccinated, so it would be none of their business whether other people were vaccinated.

However, vaccines are not 100% effective. There is always a chance that someone who has been vaccinated will still get the disease. The vaccine reduces the chance of infection, but not to zero. So a vaccinated person is still in a condition where more exposure to the disease-causing agent will mean a greater likelihood that they get the disease.

And there’s the justification for mandating vaccination. People who are not vaccinated are more likely to spread the disease-causing agent, so in fact by refusing the vaccine, they are selfishly putting others at risk–even those who are vaccinated. This is not acceptable, because no one has the right to make a choice that puts others at risk. It’s wrong to force other people to take on that risk.

It’s fine to make the decision for yourself to accept a risk of harm to yourself, but it’s not OK to make a decision to accept a risk of harm to other people. And that’s why we need to force other people to take a vaccine (which, like all medical interventions, in varying degrees, has a risk of harm).

There is Such a Thing as Too Much Cheese

There’s always more we can do.

There are always more layers that can be added to filter out more risk of the virus and to make it even less likely that someone might die from it.

If anyone ever thinks that there are enough layers, or opposes any particular layer, then they can be accused of murder, because not doing more means choosing to let people die–and it never stops.

We can never make it impossible for people to die, so we can always make it less likely. We can never make the risk go down to zero, so there’s always the possibility that we can do something more to reduce the risk.

We can spend more money (borrowed from an ever-growing international banking system), we can tread on more human dignity, we can give up more personal choice and power, we can impose more inconvenience, we can sacrifice more culture and arts, and so on.

Regardless of how marginal the improvement would be, or even of how certain we are that there would be an improvement, there’s always more we can do.

But there is such a thing as too much cheese.

In the Swiss cheese model, each extra slice is good because it filters more; that’s all there is to the Swiss cheese model. This works well enough for this one dimension of risk, for this single aspect of life.

But if you don’t have anything other than the Swiss cheese model, if you don’t value or focus on anything other than the threat of this virus, then you’re onboard for a never ending Babylonian tower of cheese.

Mask Sickness

Most people advocating for wearing masks now would be denying their effectiveness if that’s what they were told by the authorities they respect. How do we know? Because that’s exactly what they were doing half a year ago when the authorities were telling them that surgical and cloth masks weren’t effective.

Science is commonly conceived as a somewhat mechanical or deterministic process that inevitably produces truth, or at least better approximations of the truth. The feeling is that since it’s associated with rationality as opposed to intuition or emotion that it’s therefore better able, or even uniquely able, to discover objective truth.

In reality, scientific research is done by people, and people are fallible, dishonest, and rarely motivated by the desire to discover truth. No process or system can make up for dishonest, unintelligent, or inattentive people, not peer review, and not academic testing. The only way to verify if some scientific research is true is to understand it yourself. Scientific authorities, like heads of scientific organisations or pop science celebrities, are shortcuts that add a layer through which the truth must pass, and it only survives if the authority is honest, intelligent, paying attention, and so on.

Currently we have politically appointed bureaucrats informing the public on medical science. They seem to be trusted because they are cloaked in the sense of credibility and objectivity that people associate with science.

But these people are the result of yet another layer, another truth filter: they were appointed by politicians or others in power. Most people accept, at least in the abstract, that politicians are dishonest and are not motivated by the pursuit of truth. The idea of an honest politician is more of a punchline than a reality. But in practice people ignore this, and take for granted that medical authorities appointed by politicians must be trustworthy, even though, as we can see, such a position is one from which power can be wielded (by altering public perception of whether governmental dictates are reasonable and in the interests of public health), and so if we take seriously the idea that politicians and those in power are motivated by self-interest, then we should expect that their appointments to these positions are corrupt.

Given that most peoples’ understanding of science is extremely limited and wrong, when someone says that they want everyone to wear masks because science has shown that they’re effective, this should be translated to mean that they have heard from mass media and governmental authorities that masks are effective. And again, most people probably have an abstract sense that things like mass news media are not motivated by the desire to spread the truth, but instead exist to entertain, sensationalize, and propagandize, and again this abstract sense is rarely put into practice.

One of the things mass media have told people about masks is that it’s not a big deal to wear one, and that doing so is a courtesy to others. But we are not being politely asked to wear masks–we are being told to do so by government mandate. If someone asks you to please pass the salt while they’re pointing a gun at you, they are not being polite.

But regardless of all that, aren’t masks actually effective? At least a bit? Maybe they do slightly slow the transmission of some viruses–but I don’t know, and neither do you. What I do know is that ignorance of one’s own ignorance is dangerous and is a mental state ripe for exploitation. I also know that people who are susceptible to respiratory illnesses tend to be already unhealthy due to their own choices, or are near the end of their lives and more susceptible nearly all forms of death–stairs for example.

Sedentary people who stuff their obese faces with anti-nutritious food want to tell you to wear an annoying mask in order to slightly, possibly, reduce their chances of becoming seriously ill, a reduction in risk that is much less than what they would see from changing their own behaviours and lifestyle. They want to force you to change your behaviour to protect them when they are unwilling to change their own behaviour to protect themselves. And they do this with manipulative language telling you that if you don’t like it, you’re the asshole.

Of course, there are people with conditions that are out of their control that make them more susceptible to this current Coronavirus. But that’s nothing new for them–many other Coronaviruses and Adenoviruses and Rhinoviruses that have come and gone were a similar risk to them.

What masks are effective at is being a nuisance to breathing, making communication more difficult by blocking facial cues and muffling speech, giving people a small sense of anonymity that can remove inhibitions against antisocial behaviour, and dehumanising and further atomising us so that we feel more isolated and disconnected from the world around us.

How We Defeated the Virus

About 9000 deaths in Canada attributed to COVID-19 in 2020 so far (and daily deaths have dropped to a small fraction of what they were at the peak).

As a comparison, and in order to get some sense of proportion for that number, in 2008 there were 20,728 deaths in Canada attributed to respiratory diseases.

There had been no lock-down, no mandatory masks, no threats of mandatory vaccinations, no censorship of criticism, no CERB. The viruses that caused these deaths came and went and most people didn’t get sick. Nothing special was done to stop them from spreading.

But if we had tracked one of those viruses (pick an exceptional example, with above average mortality) and watched the daily case counts, and had political and medical authority figures give stern and sober daily reports about both the minutia of its spread and the official responses to it while telling us we’ll be OK (in order to give us the feeling that there’s a reason why we might not be OK), it would have seemed like a dire threat that warranted massive, unprecedented action.

And if we had taken some massive action to combat the virus (whatever action), and then watched as the cases counts dropped and the virus went away, it would have looked like the action that we took (whatever it was) was responsible for saving us, especially if it was something that seems like it would work to people with no epidemiological knowledge (and even less awareness of their lack of knowledge). Rapid door-to door deployment of vitamin C and zinc lozenges? Daily group-led immunity-boosting breathing exercises in all workplaces and schools? Full-body alcohol spray booths installed at every building entrance? Might sound crazy now, but… if it works then you’re a dangerous ignoramus for being sceptical!

And who could work up the energy to question whether the leviathan state was acting in good faith, that what its mouthpieces said was true (all true, and nothing but true), and that its interests were aligned with theirs? Far too depressing to even think about as a possibility. The idea that this metastasizing undefeatable all-powerful behemoth could be insincere in its promises to do everything to protect us and pursue our well-being is just too much anxiety to face. Besides, these vitamin C and zinc lozenges have a really nice grape flavour.

Every year, in some parts of the world, there are a few seasonal flu viruses that show up, kill a bunch of mostly old people, then go away a few weeks later. There is no generally accepted explanation for why it comes and goes seasonally.

The Raccoon That Killed Our Last Hen

I went out to close up the coop just too late. When I looked inside, she was missing from the spot where she always sleeps, and usually is sitting when I check in the evening. So I quickly went to see if she was still in the outer enclosure that we leave open during the day. She wasn’t but I found one patch of feathers, and then nearer to the bush (but farther from the entrance to the enclosure) another, and seconds after seeing that I heard a rustle in the bush and looked to see branches moving.

I bolted out of the enclosure, jumped the fence, ran back to the bushes, and quickly scanned below the branches to see if I could find what it was. I walked along the whole stretch, then went into the bushes a bit, carefully stepping between poison ivy with my bare legs, thinking of how much attention I wasn’t giving to the bush around me. I stepped onto a rock two feet high to get a better vantage, and was about to give up the search when I had an idea that I should take a step down in one spot that seemed less obstructed by brush.

Immediately after my foot pressed the long grass onto the ground, I saw a raccoon-ish blur, then as it reached the nearest tree, a clear raccoon climbing up.

At this point I hadn’t yet found the chicken carcass, but it would have been within ten feet ahead of me, about half way between me and the raccoon tree. I didn’t know if the hen was still alive and had just been scared off somewhere. I didn’t know if she would come back, and I didn’t know if the raccoon would have been there when she did.

I could have killed him.

I could have called Kim and got her to watch the bastard while I got the shotgun, and I could have blasted him out of the tree, but I didn’t because he and the other wildlife around me were here first, this is their home too. If I moved in, then killed him for what he considers fair game because he doesn’t have the capability to consider it anything else, that would be reckless and cruel. And it would be even worse given that such a large percentage of the world that used to be theirs has already been taken away, and if I act as though I can do whatever I want to this land, that I can kill or mess it up however I want, then that’s a further loss for nature. I want to minimize my effect on the natural environment and preserve as much wilderness as possible, because so much of it has already been lost.

That scarcity makes wilderness more valuable, and makes it a greater transgression to damage it.

I am Man, not Animal, I am capable of considering other life as more than fair game. I can consider some to be off limits, at least to some extent. I know that there’s something bad about killing, and because of that I have a responsibility to minimize it.

And also because I am Man, I am able to protect the life that is in my charge. I am able to make an enclosure that protects our chickens from raccoons, and I’m able to ensure that during the times when raccoons roam, the chickens are safe in the enclosure. The hen isn’t dead because the raccoon is bad and needs to die, she’s dead because I’m a lazy idiot. And if I shot the raccoon, then it would have been because I was a lazy idiot.

I could try to justify killing it with that fact that an attack on my family’s food source is an attack on my family, and I’m justified in defending my family, but no, I am capable of preventing this attack in a way that doesn’t require killing the raccoon, and it’s my responsibility to do that (and we have other readily available sources of food).

I had to attend to something else for a few minutes (which required running through the crow-mute skunk-scented forest at dusk), so I got Kim to stand in the yard while I was away, so that the raccoon wouldn’t come back just in case the hen had escaped and might return. When I got back I once again scanned the bushes–this time with less urgency and a flashlight because it had become dark–realizing that if the raccoon *had* killed the hen, he probably didn’t have enough time to eat the whole thing, and he may not have come back to get the rest while I was gone (but not everyone is afraid of Kim, unfortunately). Once again, just as I was thinking of giving up, I looked through the bush from one more perspective, and saw a hennish-reddish-blur, and when I stooped to look closer, the headless carcass of the last hen.

She was the one who had watched all her friends get taken out in front of her eyes by wild beast after wild beast. Finally, after multiple losses, we had her in an enclosure that had been built to withstand the forces of the Manitoba summer wilderness. She would now get to live out her long life in peace and quiet, occasionally playing with a child and his colorful balls. Or so we thought.

But at least we can keep this meal from the bastard, and give her a decent burial. And of course if he had been more directly threatening my family, if we had been depending on the hen for food and didn’t have a ready alternative, we’d be eating roast raccoon tomorrow. Life demands balance. I also kill mosquitoes and ticks on site: they literally want my blood.

We want to avoid interfering with the natural environment (for its sake and for ours), so we create our own separate, natural environment. We want to separate these environments, and part of what we want is to minimize the barrier between them, so that we don’t lose touch with the natural world and get lost in unrealistic dreams, but another part of what we want is to maximize the barrier between them, in order to maximize our safety and theirs.

The homestead farm is at least a symbol of this–a few people, deep in nature, but with fences and domesticated life–but with a higher level of conscientiousness it could also be manifested in urban form.  We are responsible for the things we do, and we are responsible for the place where we live, so it would be delinquent to fail to achieve this conscientiousness in some form.

The Latent Problem Made Apparent by Gun Control

When I go shooting with friends and family, I’m not afraid that they will shoot me. It doesn’t bother me at all that they have guns, because I think they’re competent, generally sane, and on the same side as me.

If I were to be around people who were either not competent, not sane, or not on the same side as me, and they were armed, then I would be worried. If they’re not competent, they might shoot me by accident. If they’re not sane, they might chose to shoot me for a crazy reason. If they’re not on the same side as me, they might just want to shoot me.

So I wouldn’t want them to have guns. But if they were far away from me, much farther than the range of the weapon, then I wouldn’t worry about it.

If people want gun control, it means that they feel like the people around them are not competent, not sane, or not on their side. The more strongly that people feel this way, the more strongly they’ll want gun control. If gun control is popular, it means a large number of people don’t trust the other members of their community.

We can reduce the issue of gun control down to a matter of statistically analysing the risk of death in a free society versus the negative effects of the totalitarian enforcement required to ensure that no civilian can get a gun, and while that’s useful and shows a clear choice to me, it also indicates something more significant: this is a low-trust society.


Urbanisation means that people are increasingly socially atomised, living in smaller spaces, more densely surrounded by strangers, and have access to conveniences that let them minimize contact and dependence on those around them.

Diversity means that we not only have different outwardly visible features like clothing and cuisine, but that even if we all spoke the same language we would still be divided by differences in values, abilities, preferences, and fundamental assumptions about the world.

Hundreds of years of the material wealth of industrial society and the agricultural revolution means that we have for many generations allowed the survival of the less competent and mentally healthy who in harsher conditions would not have reproduced.

It’s not a surprise that someone surrounded by faceless unknowable strangers who are often at least slightly emotionally unstable would be eager to have their guns taken away. It’s a way to take the trust that would in ideal conditions be place in members of their community and transfer it to an idea of a powerful system that treats everyone equally, and forces everyone to be unarmed and powerless.

When you can’t trust the people around you, it’s tempting to want to replace the interpersonal with the impersonal withdraw into the illusion of safety in the cold, sterile, controlled it creates. Is that really what we want? Isn’t it better to try to find a way to live more freely with people we can trust because they are competent, sound minded, and known to be on our side?

Deep Night



A vortex of a thousand rabid butterflies churned his gut and his body flailed frantically, trying to grab something, to step on something, to regain lost balance in the wake of these sudden visceral primordial sensations.  A subterranean groan grated his ears as his lungs strained to gasp in breath while screaming.  His heart ached to splitting from the electric jolt of these simultaneous realizations unified into one like a direct impact from the divine lightning hammer.

Having nothing here but himself, he made this the focus of his attention, and set about controlling it.  Trying to recount the preceding moments, partly in a feeble attempt to disprove the reality of his perplexing situation, he couldn’t remember if he’d seen the countdown timer go all the way to straight zeros before it disappeared.  In any case, it clearly had, and he was no longer there.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness and the heralds of hypoxia, those flashing specks of phantom light receded, he saw that some dim specks remained.

For a while he watched the distant stars scroll by as he revolved slowly in weightless suspension.  None of them were familiar, he could recognize no constellations.

So this was the edge of the error range in that fundamental equation that lay at the heart of the teleportation device, he thought to himself.  The engineers who built it were all confident that this possibility lay well beyond probability.  But the physicists who’d dreamt it up, those wizards of matter and energy, knew it was there.  As one of those physicists, he had known there was a chance that the blink–the instantaneous relocation–wouldn’t land him in Lab B, the intended target, but the promise of this technology that could open up all horizons and make every place reachable was too enticing–and so too was the chance to be the first teleported man too enticing.

That same miraculous insight that allowed the technology to work, the realization that, with the right manipulation, the universe could be tricked into thinking that each point in space was the same as any other, was also its greatest flaw. With the tremendous quantities of energy concentrated to densities well beyond natural phenomena that were needed to focus the machine on the intended target, all it had taken, presumably, was a picosecond drop or disruption in that energy flow for the focus to be lost, and without focus, every single point in the universe became equally likely to be his destination as any other.

Of course, if he’d known that he’d end up marooned between the stars, far from any planet, far from any sun, in who knows what region of the galaxy, or what region of the universe, he would never have stepped into the departure chamber at Lab A.  But here he was, and regrets are useless when there’s only three minutes of oxygen left.  He forced himself to appreciate the peculiarity of the transportation method that required the departure chamber to be void of all matter but the payload, therefore necessitating that he make the trip in a sealed suit with its own oxygen supply, leaving him with a few precious breaths at the end of his life instead of having his last ripped from him in this deep vacuum of deep space.

In one sense, it was the safest place he could be.  No predators, no natural disasters, no murder, nothing to fall on him–just nothing at all.  Possibly his suit could fail, but since there was nothing to make it fail–here there was nothing to make anything do anything but himself–that was as unlikely as spontaneous heart failure.

Rescue, even if he waited a trillion years, was impossible.  Finding a fraction of a speck of a shaving from a needle in a haystack would be easier than finding him in the random spot in the universe that he’d been dropped.

There would be a short time during which he would definitely not die, and then after that he was definitely going to die.

Three minutes of fresh air left, he thought to himself, and then a few seconds of fading consciousness. And then? How long would his body drift in nowhere, radiating out his heat until it dropped to the universal 3 kelvins, and how long would his nearly absolutely frozen corpse hang, motionlessly falling, pinned to nothing, without anything at all to molest it? Perhaps it would remain mummified until the very last days of the universe, when the atoms themselves ultimately tired and fell apart.

He thought of his future there, buried between the stars, ascended to the heavens to endure eternally among the constellations.  Did that make him like the mythological gods whose great deeds in life earned them a fixed place in the firmament?  As the only solid matter in a space potentially greater than any galaxy, he was indeed by far the most powerful being in his realm, and certainly in comparison to any of the isolated helium nuclei he could call his neighbours he would be considered a god.

The god looked out at his world and the night that surrounded him.  His night stayed; there was no Sun to warm his backside, as the Earth has, and no hope for a dawn.  Only night that would pass away to yet more night as he rotated like a miniature planet.

But the Sun is just a star, special only for its proximity, and his world was filled with stars, none occluded by any planet.  If night means being in the shadow of your planet cast by the Sun, then he would declare himself his own planet, and all the multitudinous stars shining on him his suns, thereby placing him in eternal day.  It would be day more gloriously bountiful than the fleeting periods experienced by those still trapped on Earth.  Not eternal night, but a miraculous uninterrupted teeming quantity of day!

He felt hot.  Though his destiny was a deep freeze, for now his body was still metabolising, slowly burning through its food, generating heat.  His environment was neither cold nor hot: temperature is a property of matter, and his environment had no matter.  The vacuum around him instead was a barrier to heat transfer, an unfathomably thick layer of insulation.

Realizing his oxygen supply had depleted, he felt relieved to have come to terms with what he now knew was his fortunate fate.

One last thought touched his consciousness as the starfield before his eyes began to be replaced once again by the twinkling bright points of hypoxia: a billion billion sunrises every moment, and all of them utterly dim.

Human Stampede

Why do people believe silly stuff like that a man can be a woman just by saying so?

Or that marriage doesn’t have anything to do with reproduction, and that we can call any arrangement, regardless of its reproductive potential, marriage?  And ignore the blatantly obvious place that marriage has at the nexus of reproduction and civilization?

Why does everyone act as though they see no potential problem whatsoever with importing highly nepotistic groups with incompatible cultures and oppositional values into a society whose most prominent characteristics are extreme tolerance and sub-fertility reproduction?

Why do so many European people hate their ancestors and why have so many decided, consciously or otherwise, to surrender to the onslaught of comfort, luxury, and entertainment, and give up their continued existence?

Why are people just going along with taking children away from their parents for witholding from them gender-mutilating drugs and sugery?

Why are Internet corporations and governmental bodies openly collaborating to impose political censorship in public discussion spaces?

Why are massively powerful corporations exhaustively burning up millions of years worth of built-up organic energy in the span of a few 100 years, why are governments allowing nearly every square mile of the planet to be disturbed by humans, if not outright genocided into a monoculture for humans?

Why is there so little resistance to all this? These are all things that don’t have to be that way. They could easily change if people changed their behaviours; it’s not like it would be some monumental task like going to the moon.

Because everyone thinks it’s not easy, they think it’s impossible.  Everyone thinks the system is unstoppable like a runnaway train. If they have the modicum of an attention span it takes to realize what’s going on, then they simultaneously realize the futility of a single person’s actions.

Eveyone knows that if they even speak up, they’ll achieve nothing but misery.

The entire herd is out of its mind, it’s just running, sprinting, mindlessly charging in whatever direction each human thinks the herd is travelling towards.

Some people think this is going somewhere, or fleeing from something, so they constantly make frantic guesses about what will be ideologically stylish in the next moment so they can get there first.

It’s not hard to recognize a stampede, but it is hard to stop.  If every animal just stopped running, the stampede would instantly end, but every animal knows that if they stop, they’ll get trampled.  And everyone else will think they’re a moron.

For humans, that’s the worst part.  Yeah, getting trampled is bad, but the worst would be eveyone thinking you’re an idiot for getting trampled.

And so the whole herd continues the stampede, charging over the cliff into the void.