Sunday, August 25, 2019

What's in a name?

Eric S. Raymond has recently posted an intriguing idea on his blog, The Order of Defenders:
I wrote the above after thinking about Rudyard Kipling’s Ritual of the Iron Ring for newly-graduated engineers.
Rituals like this exist to express and formalize what is best in us.
The Order of Defenders does not exist. Perhaps it should.
 I found myself largely in agreement with the sentiments and intents I believed were being expressed by Mr. Raymond, with one rather large exception; who were the intended candidates for the role of Dedicant?

Rudyard Kipling was a more-than-a-little embittered proponent of Victorian Britain's Empire who frequently bemoaned the lack of manly forthrightness evidenced by his fellows in continuing expansion of said empire. While I can appreciate Kipling's frustration-inspired prose, and have little difficulty translating it to frustrating circumstances I find in my own time and place in the universe, I am also of the opinion that those of what can loosely be termed "the Harry Potter generation" (for the purposes of this essay, those born in the 20-odd year period of 1985 to 2005, give or take a half-decade either way) seem unlikely to share the requisite grasp of historical context to spontaneously do so for themselves.

With this difficulty in mind, I proposed re-naming Mr. Raymond's concept as follows:
 I suggest the title, Order Of Defenders, is too Teutonic and feudal in sentiment and therefore too easily vilified and de-contextualized. As an alternative, I suggest the following: The Proponents of The Practicum of Equilibertalious. The membership consisting of those who, through their considered statements and routine actions in the course of ordinary life, personify the beliefs codified in the Practicum they individually swore oath to. The word “equilibertalious” is literally a Harry Potterization of the sentiment: equal liberty for all of us. Thus, a Proponent of The Practicum (individually referred to as a Practicant) of Equilibertalious is one who has sworn an oath before witnesses to live life in compliance with the terms of the oath.
I crafted the admittedly silly-sounding word "equilibertalious" specifically to make use of the Potter-world habit of manufacturing words of power for spell-casting purposes by creating mouth noises that consist in large part of fractions of the words that express the intent of the spell caster. In this example, the intentions of the one seeking admission into the group whose existing membership exemplifies the ideals of equal liberty for all to pursue individual success in cooperation with like-minded others. Yes, that rather downplays the potential contingency of violent defense implicit to the fundamental concept.

It would seem that deliberately structuring a concept to attract the easy recognition of the intended audience is simply too silly an idea to merit more than the briefest of dismissal.

Well, I have been wrong before.

Still, I do wonder if Mr. Raymond hasn't crafted an elaborate troll, rather than suggested a serious idea. If virtue signalling the a priori propriety of one's assumptions regarding the validity of firearms ownership specifically, and one assumes violence-based socio/political stances generally (concepts I by-and-large share with Mr. Raymond, I believe), is the sole purpose of his post, then "Well Done, You!" Mr. Raymond. Once again, the error is mine own. For taking his words at face value. For attempting serious consideration of how such concepts might be enacted (because ideas such as these are never just the one thing they are predicated upon). For developing what I sincerely believe to be modifications to the basic concept that offer greater possibility of success for the idea becoming actual practice.

More fool me, it seems.

On the chance that the idea Mr. Raymond has proposed is a serious suggestion, of creating a fraternal organization that provides its membership with individual purpose and mission, that relies upon the cooperation of the membership with each other to achieve success, I encourage you to go and RTWT. It's an idea worth serious consideration that seems to have merit well beyond the foundational condition of individual gun ownership. You should go offer your thoughts as well.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

A More Perfect Union?

It was bound to happen, given the utter lack of organization amongst the digital content creator class. Someone was going to have the bright idea and, more importantly, the ability to make the essential connections necessary to begin creation (there's that word again) of an effort to counter the often arbitrary (when not outright malicious) seeming behavior of the digital content viewing platforms. Right now it's You Tube under the gun, but Facebook and Twitter to name only two others can expect their turn soon enough. As of now the You Tube Union is mostly vaporware (and with that being so, I hereby suggest that the final name of such an organization be: The Creatives Union - there are more than just creators involved after all). There is a negotiated affiliation with IG Metall, advertised to be the single largest labor union in all of Europe, and there are efforts underway to bring You Tube management to the bargaining table, but beyond that little can be known as little has been accomplished in the copious spare seconds that remain. Yet. Now is the time for we the membership to speculate on what and how those expected accomplishments might take shape.

In traditional form, labor unions have an international level of organization for dealing with labor issues having origin in international agreements and organisations, and a You Tube Union (hereafter: YTU) necessarily would require the same given the (for now at least merely) planetary scope of its potential membership (looking right at you Elon Musk). Below that (or as an integrated component of the international part in a better designed organizational structure) is the national level of union representation of its membership. It has to be acknowledged that national governments are the only entities that have the inherent infrastructure (legal, financial and otherwise) to enforce their declarations at the lawful point of a gun; international agencies and organizations all derive whatever authority they claim as a result of treaties negotiated between nation states delegating such authority to them. This is why I insist that a well organized union considers national and international representation of its members to be one single level of union management, since "international law" is really just a hodge podge of convoluted, and surprisingly often actually contradictory, treaties between nations that are frequently being enforced by a third party (all of whom famously have their own set of priorities to bring to any negotiating table). The primary theater of contention for even the most expansive union has to be structured around successfully representing the individual membership within the constraints of the legal code in force in the jurisdiction of the nation state (levels within levels here) the individual members live and work in; international (and presumably extra-planetary) agreements between nations (and others) are, as a practical matter, enforced within the legal codes of the nations involved.

Beyond the "upper" management level, there is the Local. There are a variety of forms and functions associated with the phrase "the union local", but certainly one of those has to be organization. Any unions primary membership recruitment effort simply has to be centered around the various union Local offices, but now is not too soon to begin developing the necessary standards and practices guidance for stewards along with the membership information necessary for members to understand what they and their union can and can't expect of each other. In a traditional union arrangement, these offices are as close to the membership's place(s) of work as can be arranged; sometimes this is across the street from a factory, sometimes it's a centrally located address within a given geographical setting like a city or county, for instance. For a union serving a membership that "works" in a digital environment (in quotes only because that's where the product of so much labor appears to the critical other half of the membership), there will have to be a blend of the meat space aspect with the cyber space components. So to speak. I suggest a YTU Local might best consist of an online portal that principally provides a means of contact to one or more Stewards living and working in an identified geographical region, along with a business contact for the union office itself (even virtual offices have bills to pay and services to arrange for). Knowing where to identify who "your" Steward is and making contact with him/her (I ain't playing the pronoun game, this is complex enough) (now you know why I was considered a competent but not especially "good" steward myself :)) must be considered of primary importance in the design of any such web page. Advertising links and Local announcements would have their place too. Education is always a part of any good union; once again, now is the time for we the members to begin identifying what we want.

Another activity centered around a union Local office is that of "initial representation". Any member of a union is, by simple dint of membership, entitled to representation at need. This isn't always a union steward or representative jumping into a conflict between a member and some low-level member of company management (upper levels of company management start with the Arbitrators who, if they aren't trained lawyers themselves are accompanied by same, and who are the intervening level between the Stewards and the National/International level of union leadership); indeed, most frequently this involves being available to give advice and specific counsel to a member prior to a conflict arising, thus the common title given to Local union officers of "Steward" - that individual entrusted with the primary duty of providing good stewardship to the membership.

It simply has to be acknowledged here that often as not said good stewardship requires "counselling" said member out of being an idiot - if you can simultaneously convince them this is all their own idea, you're a very good steward.

Union Stewards have to be sufficient in number to assure availability to individual member's need, while not being an unnecessary financial burden on the membership (what? you didn't think this was all paid for by the "good steward fairy" did you? I didn't make a big deal about it above, but the primary duty of international management is to make sure everybody stays "paid in full" on the membership dues front; never think otherwise). The YTU doesn't have sufficient structure to even ask for dues yet, but never doubt that day is approaching as rapidly as can be contrived. And the sooner the better; without the financial means provided by membership dues there can be no legal representation aspect to membership representation during on-going negotiations with You Tube management, for only one example (lawyers are good people too - stop laughing! - but human generosity has its limits and being able to feed one's family is one of the more common and earlier limits known). My daughter has an MBA and my daughter-in-law is an accountant; both of them earn their living counting Other People's Money, and unions need to be able to pay people to do that too - not least in the role of Forensic Accountant of opposition company financial claims. Dues are coming, so now is the time to begin deciding what specifically you want in exchange.

So, examples of how all of this might take place in the future are limited only by the imaginations of You Tube creatives, but here are a couple examples that I as a member of the YTU can think of.

Podcasters don't necessarily also have You Tube channels, but many do and Joe Rogan has to be considered one of the most successful of those who do both. Film and television actor, stand-up comedian, ringside fight commentator for UFC and creator and host of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast and The JRE You Tube channel, the expression "Joe Rogan money" by rights ought to be much more commonly used by others than is actually the case, so it can be fairly said that of all the potential members for a YTU he is seemingly the one least in need of representation - obviously, he's doing alright all on his own. And Well Done to him for it; hard work deserves what it earns. Conversely, he is also the one You Tube creator who is most likely to want to be a member. Joe Rogan has made the point numerous times on the JRE podcast that he goes to considerable lengths to support up-and-comers in the stand-up comedy business - all of whom are arguably his professional competition. He does so "to grow the stand up world, and add to the list of people I can have fun with" or words to that effect. YT creator channels don't provide quite the same degree of spontaneity or personal contact that stand-up comedy seems to, but all of the other elements of professional growth and camaraderie seem to be present. If anyone is institutionally inclined to developing and supporting an organization that develops and supports people much like himself, that person has to be Joe Rogan. I'm not talking money here; yes, Joe Rogan can easily afford any annual dues any other content creator on You Tube can. What he can't do is afford is to fight alone against the mob come the day Kevin Smith and the Hollywood Vegan Mafia come after him at You Tube HQ over his hunting content or some other gaggle of special snowflakes people begin an organized rant about his "violent martial arts" content (and I'm only being slightly facetious here - since recovering from his heart attack last year, what began out of respect for his daughter's vegan beliefs regarding health benefits appears to have lately become something substantially else). Best wishes to Kevin Smith for his continued recovery of health and growth as a digital creator, but it's called "the dark side" for good reason and we're watching. As for Joe Rogan, any serious martial arts student understands the practical utility of allies, and if he is anything Joe Rogan is a martial artist.

Along with membership dues, YTU membership ought to provide organization, and not just in the Saul Alinsky model (although some of that will be involved too). There are several You Tube channels I watch regularly, among them the following three (four? not sure how to count this one): SRKCycles along with their second channel Bikes and Beards, Dr. Brent Binder's channel Chiropractic Medicine, and a really innovative channel featuring The Philadelphia Barber Co.'s Andy Fischer (among others) Beardbrand.

SRK Cycles buys and sells used motorcycles, and all the partners wear beards and still have full heads of hair. Now unlike driving a car, you have to ride a motorcycle and this involves using - and occasionally overusing -  its own set of muscles. Dr. Brent Binders office in Harrisburg PA seemingly isn't far from the SRK location, so arranging for both to create videos involving each other's respective audiences in their mutual experience of each other areas of expertise would seem a natural benefit for a YTU Steward to organize. If some is good, more is better amirite? Andy Fischer's barber chair is in Philadelphia, only a short drive down the highway from both of the other two PA-based You Tubers. The SRK guys need haircuts and beard trims periodically, Andy clearly needs to get away from that damn train; admittedly, Dr. Brent is going to pose a professional challenge for her, but he usually does wear a beard, so there is that for her to work with. Now our YTU steward has organized three distinct audiences into mutual appreciation (or at least awareness) of channels involving activities they might not otherwise ever come in contact with. YTU can further assist by providing the means to track distinct audience participation in cross-over channel efforts. By providing each channel with a code to include when audience members buying anything off any of the other participating channels, a percentage of the proceeds can be applied to the originating channel's coffers (with maybe a small taste to the YTU's as-yet hypothetical deep pockets?). This is a sale that couldn't otherwise be expected, and there may be advantages to be had through each channel's marketing budget come tax time (the sort of advice and counsel unions famously offer as member benefits - usually in the form of links to businesses like Turbo Tax, but you get the idea) (is there a tax preparation website for businesses like digital content creators? No idea).

There is a particular digital content creative market that I want to suggest we begin work to recruit into our union, Porn Hub (and you're going to have to provide your own link here :)). If there is any single player in the digital content creation market that is more secure from outside attacks to inhibit (never mind remove) it's individual content creators product than Porn Hub is, I can't think of it. It would be necessary to make sure that Porn Hub's more usual content isn't available to the YTU general membership (except in the established way, of course), but a partnership with Porn Hub would provide YTU content creators with a product outlet immune to the types of attacks and censorship those makers of icky gun content, hunting content, violent content, and quilting!?! content find themselves subjected to on You Tube currently. Members of a Creatives Union would probably always find it useful to continue publishing their content on You Tube, along with the other alternative sites, but having a fundamentally secure site like Porn Hub can provide is seemingly an option any union worth the name ought to vigorously investigate.

There are so many possibilities before us and now is the time for we members of the nascent You Tube Union to make our hopes and desires known and otherwise become involved in growing and developing our union. Will you join me in campaigning to ultimately change the name to The Creatives Union? What do you want to see from your union membership? I'm pretty sure it still works, so feel free to comment below.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Righting Gun Wrongs

Despite my exercise of Point of Personal Privilege in his comment section recently (see: here), I quite admire Kevin Baker's writing(s) on firearms, the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, and human rights generally (a few days off escaping the day-to-day cares of life can be spent to good effect in his side bar :)), and I wish to take this opportunity to point out another of his essays: Universal Background Checks. As is usually the case with a Kevin Baker essay, there's a lot involved which makes summarizing challenging, but I think this captures the essence:
Everything you do in the U.S. (with the notable exception of VOTING) requires a state-issued photo ID.
  • Alcohol? ID
  • Tobacco? ID
  • Buy or rent a place to live? ID
  • Buy a car from a dealer? ID
  • Travel by commercial air? ID
  • Check into a hotel? ID
  • Purchase Sudafed? ID
Anyway, you get the point. So here’s my suggestion:

Everybody who needs a state-issued ID gets a background check and a new ID. If you are a prohibited person, somewhere on that ID will be this symbol:

If you’re not prohibited, you get a green circle (don’t want to trigger the sensitive by putting an icky gun on their ID). Everyone that already has a driver’s license or a state-issued photo ID gets a new one with one of the two symbols. Any new IDs issued, the applicant gets the background check.
As he later acknowledges, this would entail some considerable added expense (and I think might come into conflict with already established Smart ID legislation now universal to all states in the USA), but I concur with his judgement that, "It’ll cost a lot of money and won’t prevent any crimes, but that’s what “gun control” usually does. But hey, we’re DOING SOMETHING!!"

I have an alternative suggestion to Kevin's and hope to read his (and your) thoughts in response.

Since the US Constitution, specifically to include all of the amendments thereto, is an empowering document to all legislation within the USA, I suggest that a national form of ID - while generally along the lines suggested by Kevin - would be the more constitutionally consistent approach to addressing the undeniable problems that are part-and-parcel of the individual responsibility that comes with American national citizenship and legal residence. 

The US Constitution already requires a decennial census of all US citizens and residents, which neatly provides Congress with an already established government function whereby unlawful gun ownership fears might be substantially addressed. The United States doesn't have any form of civil national identification (as opposed to US military or government employee/contractor identification) other than a US passport, which is intended for use outside the boundaries of the country. My alternative to Kevin's suggested state-level ID is the creation of a United States Voter Registration Card explicitly as a form of national identification card for all US citizens and legal residents, irrespective of their personal employment status, state of residence, or other demographic classification.

By making a standard background check (effectively identical to that already in use for firearms purchase) a part of the decennial census process, we create a national identification document that clearly states each person's status to vote and to lawfully participate in all other activities constitutionally guaranteed to a citizen of the United States. Or not. Making a distinction between eligibility to exercise the right to vote (or other constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, many of which are age or otherwise restricted already) wouldn't have to be nearly as garish as the means suggested by Kevin, wouldn't necessarily be all that much more expensive than the existing census function (I presume here that there actually is an existing effort made to verify the respondents statements made as part of the census process), and might even prove actually effective in helping manage the unintended consequences associated with citizenship and legal residence in our Constitutional Republic.

As Kevin noted in his blog post excerpted above, there are already established forms of state issued identification intended for a variety of applications. By requiring presentation of a valid Voter Registration Card as part of the background check process already in place, we create a national database against which to compare state documentation already required to prove eligibility to exercise the freedoms guaranteed to citizens by the US Constitution, in this example to purchase a firearm. Form 4473 (the .gov document used to itemize eligibility to purchase a firearm) already requires a statement of nationality from the purchaser under penalty of perjury, so requiring presentation of a national ID document that corroborates this declaration (also made under penalty of perjury) doesn't seem to me to be excessively abusive to exercise of one's rights. Such a system needn't interfere with the already established process whereby citizens and legal residents of the United States who go through the modest expense and effort required to obtain a state-issued concealed handgun license (or whatever your state calls such an ID) to be exempt from the background check process at time of purchase, and indeed would offer a means to regularly submit all citizens and legal residents to the background check process entirely separate from (additional to?) that required by any state's concealed handgun licensing requirements. An added layer of security protecting citizen's exercise of their rights as guaranteed by the US Constitution, as it were.

Gun writer and columnist Tamara Keel has made the point on her blog in times past that she requires display of a drivers license/ID issued by the state she resides in from anyone she sells one of her guns to as a matter of personal privilege (I hasten to point out that Tam is not a licensed firearms dealer and thus - like every other American - has no legal obligation to do so under existing US law, but has been buying for her personal pleasure a modestly impressive collection of firearms for some years now, which she upon occasion finds useful to turn some item from that collection into cash to subsidize other of her interests - demonstrating the blatant nature of the deliberate falsehood entailed in the phrase "gun show loophole" not coincidentally). I leave to the consideration of my fellow citizens whether, or to what extent, such a custom ought to be enshrined explicitly in law. Personally it is my opinion that making such an individual obligation (to assure ones self of the mutual legality of a private transaction) a legal requirement might be more usefully enshrined within existing laws enacted under the auspices of the 14th Amendment than otherwise, but IANAL (and aren't we all grateful for that?  :))

One final note from Kevin Baker, who has the well exercised habit of saying things so well:
You want to buy a gun, whether from an individual or a FFL dealer? Show your ID. If the red symbol is on it, no sale. If NO symbol is on it, no sale. If you don’t have ID, no sale. If you do something that makes you a prohibited person, you must turn in your ID for one that has the red symbol. If you don’t, five years in Club Fed on top of whatever sentence you got for the crime that disqualified you.
The state can’t build a database of gun owners, and everybody who wants to buy a gun gets a background check. That’s what I call “compromise.”
"The state can't build a database of gun owners", precisely because everybody (who isn't in some fashion a "prohibited person" due to age or whatever) is effectively licensed to be a gun owner as an explicit function of their citizenship. It is already against US law for the US government to require retention of firearms sales data beyond - three years? - by FFL's, and this particular prohibition shouldn't change as a result of these efforts.

Protecting the exercise of individual citizens freedoms as guaranteed under the US Constitution is of at least equal importance to protecting those same citizens from the illegal actions of those who choose to abuse the exercise of those guaranteed freedoms (far too many of whom sadly are also fellow citizens). Spending the money necessary to better achieve those two objectives rightly ought to take precedence as a national, state, and local legislative priority. A United States Voter Registration Card explicitly designed to function as a national identity card based upon the decennial national population census, is a mechanism whereby to achieve those priorities and is my suggestion of a "compromise" that all US citizens and legal residents can comfortably and (at least arguably more) securely live with.

How say you all?

Update: I see I've entirely failed to mention any possible time line for this process. How about something like this?

President Trump has famously said that citizenship will be one of the questions asked as part of the 2020 census. Beginning in 2023, all citizens and legal residents of the USA regardless of state of residence, may apply for a Voter Registration Card ID by including copies (Issuing state database links more probably) of their existing state-issued ID along with their 2020 census data as part of the application process. Such ID to be valid until two years after completion of the next scheduled decennial population census, whereupon issuance of replacement ID cards will be automatic.

That shouldn't be too hard to improve upon.

Monday, April 22, 2019

How 2 Feed A Planet

While the number of humans known to exist in the universe doesn't seem likely to increase by more than 10% over the next decade (if even that much), it is already well past apparent that we humans need to develop the means to increase our food supply by as much as a doubling of the total quantity of food we can presently draw upon. Preferably without further damaging our only home in the process. What follows are two possible means to achieving this goal.

Water covers about 2/3 of the Earth's surface, and the sea has been a source of human sustenance for as long as we have records of human civilization (and almost certainly longer than that). But not an inexhaustible source. After at least two decades of watching their salmon catch quality and total numbers dwindle, the Haida First Nations tribe in the British Colombia region of Canada funded an effort to "seed" the areas of the northern Pacific in which the salmon fishery they depended upon for their survival grew into adulthood. This E&E News article published Wednesday, November 12, 2014, seems evenhanded enough in its reporting on the events:

"For the past 100 years, the Haida First Nations tribe in Canada has watched the salmon runs that provided its main food source decline. Both the quantity and quality of its members' catch in the group of islands they call home, off the coast of British Columbia, continued to drop.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, they became determined to do something about it. They built a hatchery, fixed watersheds damaged by past logging practices and sent more fish into the ocean for their multiyear migrations.
But the larger influx of fish that went out didn't return, and the search for better solutions for the small village of Old Massett on the north end of Graham Island in British Columbia eventually led the Haida down a path that culminated in the largest ocean fertilization project of its kind ever attempted.
In the summer of 2012, the Haida Salmon Restoration Council (HSRC) joined forces with a California businessman, Russ George, and dribbled 100 tons of iron sulfate into Canadian and international waters in the Pacific Ocean off the back of a ship.


But for the past two years, salmon have flowed into rivers along parts of the Pacific Northwest in sometimes record numbers, and questions remain unanswered about the possible success, failure or effects of the experiment.
"I can't stand up and give you a rock-solid statement that says A equals B," said Jason McNamee about whether the experiment had something to do with the massive sockeye and pink salmon runs for the past two years. McNamee is a former director and operations officer of HSRC and still sometimes acts as spokesman for the corporation. But, he said, "the iron sulfide bloom is a likely factor contributing to those runs."
End quote.
It seems inescapably obvious to me that what we need is an actual controlled experiment to address the question of whether or not fish populations in our oceans can be sustainably increased by increasing the amount of the food supply available to them during their immature stage of development.
What I am proposing here specifically is that the fifty year average of fish population(s) along the US Atlantic seaboard be calculated (annual fish population survey numbers from the US Fisheries, by species, be totaled, and that number divided by 50, resulting in the "average" fish population for the period 1960 through 2010) along with the recorded catch numbers for the same period (and the same method for averaging be applied). The specific question to be addressed by this experiment is: 
Is it possible to elevate the average number of fish in any given species by a factor of two or more over a predetermined period (5 years?) such that the average number of caught fish, by species, can sustainably be as much as doubled thereafter?
The only issue this experiment is concerned with is testing a specific method for increasing the fish populations humans rely on in part to feed us all. I submit that one yacht of a specific design could be outfitted and operated in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic seaboard for the duration of the experiment for as little as $20 million. This seems a reasonable enough expense, given the potential returns such an answer might provide.
There is another string to this particular bow.
This CNET article from 2012 gives a decent introductory look at the state of the molecular assembly of proteins and amino acids science of 7 years ago. I have no idea what Mr. Thiel thinks today, but it seems apparent that the technology isn't quite ready for market as of yet (recent stories about 3d printed human hearts notwithstanding). 
What do humans need to build a commercial farm to grow and package for transport the necessary proteins and amino acids required to assemble such molecular constructs?  Being able to assemble such food products on-site will prove a useful capability in future disaster response efforts at the very least, but the commercial application I see as most applicable to existing market processes available on our planet today is to grow the individual components, possibly only one of the components per farm, package the harvest, and have it delivered to a specialized manufacturing factory for further distribution to retail food stores after assembly into analogs of the various forms "meat" is currently marketed in, followed - or quite possibly preceded - by other non-meat foods.
Here I suggest America's military veteran community be called upon once again to provide the human power necessary to populate a variety of prototype farms to begin the development process of such a zero-to-one effort. Since this type of food production has never been attempted in known human history, the lack of specific skill sets our existing veterans possess is immaterial. What we do have is a well-developed ability to confront the unknown, and only then figure out how to live through the process while we gain some understanding of what "success" looks like in this particular given circumstance.
At this point in this narrative, I should confess that this isn't exactly an original idea on my part; Robert A. Heinlein examined many of the developmental issues involved in this proposal in his 1950 novel Farmer In The Sky (which 12 year old me avidly read some 15 years later). This specific proposal is necessarily Earth-bound, but it too involves artificial habitats within which crops are grown; habitats composed of partially underground green houses similar in concept to this example (sorry about the auto-start; it's YouTube, what're ya gonna do?). While a more substantial structure would no doubt be desirable for a permanent operation, the basic features such a structure would contain are all featured in the linked video, and an experimental development effort could make do with virtually identical structures (if only for the potential ease and reduced expense required for modification of the process).
The crop I visualize would consist of essentially algae being grown in aquarium tanks. Very particular strain(s) of algae, in very large aquarium tanks. Tanks that have rigorously controllable lighting and other inputs to regulate the growth process, and a means of removing the algae from the growth tank into a shipment container that keeps the algae uncontaminated during the transfer. I'm thinking nitrogen gas will play an important part in this "uncontaminated transfer" process for instance.
While it will undoubtedly be necessary for on-site operators in the early development stages (and quite possibly well beyond), one of the important secondary developments of this effort should be that of remote operation of such farms. It won't happen soon, but having a multitude of "food component" farms operated largely by people who live in cities close and far away, and food assembly factories staffed similarly, should be understood as also being a stated objective of this proposal. The whole idea of "robots are taking away our jobs" is both silly and the diametric opposite of the coming reality. Robots will not be autonomous, they will need human operators to approve and initiate actions taken, particularly in remote settings like those being described here. Robotic devices can be semi-autonomous in rigorously controlled environments like warehouses or assembly lines, but even there the limits imposed by programming functionality demonstrate just how little decision-making capability can be programmed into a device (for an extremely well-informed opinion on the topic of programming robot autonomy and the intrinsic limitations of programming generally, one can usefully begin here). A potential use for the US Department of Education in future might be to organize and coordinate funding and human on-site staffing of local farms and assembly plants of this nature, along with the equipment to teach school children (not to mention old vets like me) how to operate and maintain the technology necessary to operate farms and factories remotely. We're not always going to be dirt-bound farmers and factory workers (he says hopefully).
We must be able to feed ourselves in whatever environment we place ourselves. Reducing the strain our species imposes upon our only currently available planet seems a useful way of developing the means for us to do so on (or off) any planet at all. My intent with this document is to stimulate conversation regarding how we might successfully achieve that level of capability within my lifetime. I'm 65, but no pressure.

Update 4/23/19: Chris Byrne has helpfully pointed out that food production isn't really inadequate to existing and projected human population requirements. Rather, that our nutritional failures are more the result of distribution inadequacies, which makes my current framing of the network of issues involved in this also necessarily inadequate.

So, to better frame the intent of what I propose, the fish population experiment has the dual purposes of developing reliable data upon which to base decisions regarding how fish populations might be supported both locally/regionally and planet-wide. Secondarily, by developing the techniques to do so in a controllable way, we effectively achieve the means to manage what can be regarded as a self-distributing resource.

The farming idea provides a product that is easily transportable and storeable within the constraints of existing distribution, warehousing, and manufacturing infrastructure as part of its harvesting process. No new technology needs to be developed to accommodate this additional source of nutrition becoming part of the existing matrix of options humanity already has to satisfy its nutritional requirements. What this addition adds to what has to be acknowledged as our already adequate food supply is the added versatility it brings to human society being able to respond to disruptions of societal infrastructure from catastrophic events, along with the ability to easily and economically incorporate remote operations technology into our existing societal infrastructure.

The US military, for only one example, has made no secret in recent years of its inability to recruit a sufficient number of personnel capable of operating weapon (and other) systems remotely. By creating an industry that incorporates teaching people the technology used in remote operations systems and devices, this and other more general applications can more economically be incorporated into our ever evolving societal structures, on and - in not too many more years - off our planet. For only one near-term new employment option for people literally around the world, orbital manufacturing and mining operations can be much more economically performed by people on the surface of the Earth, rather than physically in orbit themselves. Taking the requirements necessary to compensate for transmission time lag, this can easily be expanded to include lunar operations as well. Potentially millions of jobs that don't exist partially because potential investors have no reason to think workers can be economically trained. Hundreds of people can be trained as a by-product of the farming technology I suggest here. They in turn can provide the nucleus of the work force needed to meet the anticipated needs of the gradually expanding requirement for remote equipment operators in orbital facilities developed to refine the resources literally being delivered to Earth through the natural processes of our Solar System (ever given any thought to what the annual meteor showers imply as a delivery mechanism for mineable material in Earth orbit?).

I hope this added framing of my proposal proves useful in developing further refinements and improvements to the basic concepts presented here.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

You Take Your Humo(u)r Where You Find It

The following "joke" blatantly lifted from a recent super chat livestream attached to Sargon of Akkad's (Carl Benjamin, candidate for MEP for SW Briton) YouTube page:

Question: What's the difference between a cabbage and a chickpea?

Answer: I've never paid to have a cabbage on my chest.

You're welcome.

Friday, April 19, 2019

What Do You Mean By "Fight"?

I've recently had occasion to think about two apparent dichotomies; words mean things, and word usage changes over place and time. Word definitions don't really change in the usual meaning of the word change. They tend to acquire added meanings that can supplant the historical meaning, but the earlier definition remains a valid usage depending on the context within which it is used. English english and American english being probably the most obvious example of usage change over place and time I can think of off hand.

The inspiration for the above came from my thinking about the word "fight", both in the limited martial arts context and in the more general strategy application. Specifically, is it better to "fight to win", or is it better to "fight not to lose"?

Fighting not to lose is the only consideration that gives the concept of "Just War" any practical meaning at all. Note that I said meaning, not justification. You can justify literally any conduct or action by simply declaring, "Deus vult!" (or the equivalent in your alternative language of choice), or you can circle around the question(s) endless epistemological expositions instead, but understanding meaning, definitionally and contextually, is what is required to actually make an informed decision - in this case, whether and how to fight.

Fighting to win requires one to accept from the moment of deciding to engage in active conflict that there are neither restrictions nor constraints imposed upon the choices you make during the coming combat, so long as the end result is your indisputable defeat of your opponent. Indeed, allowing any consideration or circumstance to interfere in achieving that outcome must be regarded as an act of treason in any fight to win conflict. Why so many people seem so willing to forget the same applies equally to all involved in such a fight mystifies me.

Fighting not to lose, on the other hand, is the underlying factor inherent to the very concept of civilization. A "no holds barred" fight is one without rules (even a knife fight, Butch :)) and therefore an unreliably predictable outcome, whether between two outlaws having nothing but the clothes they stand in or two civilizations possessed of grandeur and glory. Laws of War, Code Duello, Lines In The Sand, Street Justice, all are mechanisms to impose fighting not to lose on all combatants, such that all may have some reason to think they have an understanding of what (more importantly, how much) they risk by fighting (or not).

These are the meanings of the words we use to decide the acceptable-to-us answers to the classic 6 questions (who, what, when, where, why, how) as they apply to our routine and extraordinary competitions with one another. Our shared civilization is built upon our mutual expectation that we will all cooperate with the constraints imposed by fighting not to lose, witness our outrage and condemnation when one combatant fails to do so (or only plausibly can be made to appear to so fail). Deliberate obfuscation of the previously agreed to meanings of these words may well be the single greatest act of betrayal of trust any human can inflict upon another.

Thoughts? Disputations? I have been known to be full of shit before this; based on my track record to date, that's not that risky a proposition bet to be honest. Nevertheless, this is my ante ... fight to win is the choice of a fool, fight not to lose is the only way to position yourself to outlast your attackers.

It's also the only way to keep your world civilized while you're winning (or not) and most especially after. Update: I don't know why the long paragraph breaks; I cut-and-paste from my FB page where I first composed this. It be what it be ...

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Is Viacom Trying To Start A War Between The United States And Australia?

On Friday, 12 April 2019 (which would be yesterday as I write this), a jewish Australian named Avi Yemini along with his travelling companion Sydney Watson (who is a dual citizen of both Australia through her father's citizenship and the United States through her mother's) were reportedly detained upon their arrival at Los Angeles International Airport by Customs and Border Protection personnel and subsequently interrogated by FBI agents (apparently without benefit of legal counsel being present - frankly, I am unclear whether, or to what degree, the legal guarantees enshrined in the 1st and 5th Amendments to the US Constitution apply to non-US citizens like Mr Yemini, but I'm quite certain they fully apply to American citizens like Ms. Watson, despite their apparently being fully denied her). See here for the details available as of yet.

As can be seen in the story linked to above, Mr. Yemini asserts that "@comedycentral" is the responsible party for this event occurring. Thus the title of this post, since Viacom is the ultimate owner of (and legally responsible party for) the channel Comedy Central and the program Australian Jim Jefferies hosts on that channel. From this it can be seen that these three parties would seem to be the most likely suspects in the apparent conspiracy to defame and falsely incriminate both Mr. Yemini and Ms. Watson.

Full disclosure; I contributed US$20 to help defray the costs of Ms. Watson's current trip home to the US and can be utterly shameless in my efforts to get full value for my money. Ms. Watson has in recent months stated that on her trip to the US (some months ago, I admit) that she intended to "catch a husband". On a not-entirely unrelated note, I can honestly observe that I happen to be between relationships myself at the moment. Sadly, honesty also compels me to note that I am now 65, so I'm reasonably confident we all can see how serious this is. Or n't.

Moving right along.

In addition to the serious legal issues involved in defamation of character (which in this instance has to be presumed to include the seemingly unjust burden on fellow American Sidney Watson's future domestic or international travels by the addition of her name on TSA and other security watch lists for - also presumably - the rest of her life), are those attached to making false claims in reporting to US law enforcement agencies, something that Comedy Central is explicitly accused of doing by Mr. Yemini. From the available reporting, it appears that Comedy Central may have made a false report to US law enforcement to the effect that Mr. Yemini and Ms. Watson threatened "violence" toward Comedy Central and/or Jim Jefferies during their most recent attempt to visit the US. I, at least, can find no examples of their doing so online. Their stated intention of discussing Mr. Jefferies' alleged fraudulent misrepresentation of Mr. Yemini on an episode of his Comedy Central program last year with the respective hosts of the Louder With Crowder and the Dave Rubin interview programs may indeed have ultimately proven financially threatening to Viacom interests, but that hardly rises to the level of seriousness commonly attributed to the word "violence", seemingly making Comedy Central and Jim Jefferies guilty of filing a false report with law enforcement (I believe the Big Boy word for that is "perjury"), not to mention the heinous crime of "lying to the FBI" a matter we Americans can be forever grateful to Special Counsel Mueller for making us all too tediously familiar with.

There appears to be more than sufficient justification for a civil suit to be filed by Mr. Yemini and Ms. Watson against the apparent conspirators Viacom, Comedy Central, and Jim Jefferies (aka: Geoff James Nugent according to this Quora question response) here in the United States; it is unclear to me whether, or to what extent, Australian law applies in this instance. At the very least, I would suggest that the Australian ambassador to the United States ought to enquire (I believe Aussies do use the British spelling) of the White House whether or not the actions of US law enforcement have official backing during this apparent replay of the historically infamous Zimmerman telegram incident (you know, the fraudulent conspiracy that was used by the then-British government to involve the United States in the war they were losing at the time? Yeah, THAT Zimmerman telegram). I rather suspect The Hon. Joseph Hockey would prefer his nation not be tarred with that particular brush, now or ever. 

As to the possibly criminal behavior under US jurisdiction revealed during the unfolding of this budding international incident, the recent revelations by Attorney General Barr regarding criminal activities committed by US government employees (elected and appointed) in recent years involving numerous US allies, make a vigorous and transparent investigation of all involved in this matter seemingly rise to the level of legitimate national security concern, I would suggest (looking at you President Trump).

If it is true that Viacom thinks besmirching the public reputations of troublesome little people makes for good corporate policy, while Comedy Central management and comedian Jim Jefferies apparently agree that conspiring to defraud and defame people is "just business", I become concerned when their arrogance rises to the level of international casus belli. 

On a - hopefully - more realistic note, there appears to be enough serious allegation to justify a criminal investigation here in the US of all involved in this matter; the civil aspects remain for Mr. Yemini and Ms. Watson to take up with their respective legal counsel.