Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Miscellaneous Notes

Tap tap. Is this thing on?

A few notes on recent controversies:

Net Neutrality: I'd be more likely to take seriously the claim that Net Neutrality regulations are a matter of ancient tradition if it weren't for the fact that every Net Neuterer has a different definition of Net Neutrality and a different timeline of how the regulations changed. As far as I can tell, Net Neutrality was a matter of custom … like tipping. It was enforced by the FCC frowning hard.

I won't more than mention that whether a foreign nation has Net Neutrality changes depending on rhetorical needs. If it's necessary to find an example to prove that corporations won't adhere to Net Neutrality standards without being forced, then there are lots of examples of nations without Net Neutrality. If it's necessary to say “All the cool nations are doing this,” then those examples disappear.

In the real world, Net Neutrality violations can be divided into:

  • The beneficial (throttling a bandwidth hog);
  • The trivial;
  • The temporary;
  • The imaginary.

Corporations: As far as I can tell, support for Net Neutrality is based on the theory that corporations are all-powerful psychopaths. As far as I can tell, the entities that act most like the way leftists imagine corporations act are governments and online mobs.

In a typical example of anti-corporation prejudice, the SF writer Ted Chiang compared corporations to out-of-control AIs. On the other hand, the original speculation comparing an organization to an AI was Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes which compared governments to AIs. (“What is the heart, but a spring?”). Nowadays, online mobs can also be compared to Leviathan. To paraphrase the movie The Terminator:

The online mob is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop …

The best reason to regard democratic governments as preferable to corporations is that they can be controlled by The People. The People also control online mobs, but that doesn't make them good … especially when you recall that Trump was elected by Twitter mobs.

Corporate power is also much less than many people think, some of whom run the corporations. For example, a few months ago, Cloudflare stopped providing DDoS protection to Daily Stormer, effectively kicking them off the respectable Internet. They tried the same stunt with Ghost Gunner. Ghost Gunner is still there. Blacklists don't work unless they're unanimous.

A personal note: I don't believe in corporate power, not because I disapprove of it, but because I think it's much less than many others think. Some of my actions were done in order to make that point. I joined Mastodon, partly to show that Facebook doesn't have a monopoly. I got a Linux computer partly to show that Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly. I started ordering books from Amazon when people were complaining that Barnes & Noble (or was it Borders?) was becoming a monopoly. (It might be time to change that.)

On the other hand, some right-wing commenters disagree with handling monopolies privately.

The recent tax bill has two problems:

  • It made major changes a bit too suddenly. Making them more slowly so we know what we're doing might make more sense.
  • It looks like it was written for the purpose of raising taxes on New York Times reporters. “The purpose of power is power” is bad. “The purpose of power is revenge” is worse.
“The purpose of power is revenge” might also explain “political movements that appear exceedingly stupid.”

Is free speech only for the powerful? I had trouble understanding the belief that free speech is a tool for the privileged. As far as I can tell, this is based on the theory that the privileged will always be able to censor. In order to level the proverbial playing field, the downtrodden also must be given the privilege of censorship. I find it much more plausible that the privileged will always be able to speak. (If they can be censored, they were not privileged in the first place.)

Ideas I agree with while opposing the proponents: An opinion you agree with may be a “tribal marker” for people you regard as dangerous. For example:

  • Black lives matter.
  • It's okay to be white. (It's more worrisome when “white” is capitalized.)
  • Allah akbar. (God is great.)
  • There's evidence that human action might make the Earth warmer.
  • Sustainable anything.

“Cuckservative” and “neoliberal” mean the same thing: “How DARE you pretend to be on my side while believing in individual rights!”

The use of the term “cuckservative” might be due to one of the more bizarre assumptions of the “alt-right,” that anybody who disagrees with them must be doing so in order to avoid being called names and can be forced in the other direction by enough name-calling.

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