Locklin on science

On Leaving the Bay Area

Posted in fun by Scott Locklin on September 12, 2020

I left the Bay Area a couple of years ago.  I originally ended up in the Bad Area via misadventure, stayed because I had rent control and academic/business connections, and left the second or third time I had an opportunity which made sense.  I moved to New Hampshire because it was culturally similar to where I grew up, close to family, yet not ruled over by an imbecile viper pit like Boston.  Since the  urban professional class is the root of most problems in America today, I wanted to get as far away from such people as possible, their tax collectors, camp followers and Karens. Mind you Boston is vastly better than, say, San Francisco in almost every way.

The good about moving away:

Assuming you don’t move to some other urban hellscape like NYC, your life will immediately be better in obvious ways. There are no  rivers of human feces on the sidewalk of any other American  metropolis I know of. Virtually any place in America has fewer tent cities. Most of the country (now barring the PNW which has apparently imported California forestry practices) has breathable air 365.24 days of the year. Unless you’re poor or living in NYC, you will pay  lower taxes after you leave; assuming the FTB doesn’t come after you. You will also pay less in terms of rent or real estate than in the Bay Area. You’d have to work hard to find 3 million dollar shitty bungaloes with bars on the windows any place else.

Driving in NH is actually pleasant; better than 90s era Bay Area. The roads and infrastructure function more or less as they were designed to.  Speaking of roads, the Bay Area basically doesn’t have weather, meaning the simple governmental function of road maintenance should be trivial, but somehow the roads are awful. New Hampshire has torrents, huge temperature differentials, ice and snowstorms and somehow the roads are vastly better. Building new lanes or new stretches of highway takes months instead of decades. Of course, cross the border to Massholio and the roads are absolute shit again; kind of makes you think. 

There is no pollution to speak of in NH. There aren’t vast seasonal forest fires in NH because the state isn’t run by lunatics preventing normal forestry management practices. Don’t give me that shit about “muh they’re developing near forests” -literally every house in NH is near a forest.  Nature is generally pleasant in a place like NH; lovely forests, beaches, mountains, lakes and rivers within an hour of the urban areas. In California when visiting the convenient parts of nature, you may have some pleasant vistas, but you’re usually only a few yards behind some asshole burbling about his stock options and green commuter package.

10am in Oakland, Sept 9

My roof in Manchester on a random day in September


The architecture of New Hampshire is a vast improvement over the filth of the Bay Area. Houses and buildings can be hundreds of  years old and still in service. You can stay in 240 year old Inns; houses of this vintage are on the market, in good repair and are dirt cheap compared to anything in the Bay Area. Living in a house made with traditional materials and designed for the local climate is a joy. While the Bay Area had some Victorian and Art Deco housing stock and a few remaining googie buildings, most of it is disgusting postwar stuff made of drywall and paste. Being surrounded by and living in ugly and ill functioning architecture is demoralizing and a drain on your over all well being. NH is a huge win here. Even the new buildings are mostly constructed of adequate materials, and brick looks a lot nicer than plate glass and concrete.

Claremont: NH

Claremont CA


The streets of New Hampshire are safe despite (or because of) the fact that any non-felon can legally walk around with a  gun in their pocket. In the years I’ve spent in NH, there have been no pitched street battles over … people saying things … in the entire state; a regular fall occurrence in “home of the Free Speech Movement” Berkeley. Despite the existence of copwatch in places like Berkeley, and the lack thereof in NH, somehow NH police are not insane stormtroopers. My couple of encounters with police in NH have been entirely satisfactory; like something from Green Acres. It isn’t just me: there was some BLM guy on NPR saying more or less the same thing about NH cops. Oh yeah: it took me 20 minutes to get a NH drivers license and register a car; something that would be tortures of the damned in the California DMV. This is across the board my experience with NH state and city employees versus California. The NH public servants have universally been competent, pleasant, helpful and even forgiving when one makes a mistake. With one exception in 1996, my encounters with public servants in California have been  less satisfactory than my encounters with the local schizophrenic homeless population shitting on my doorstep. California public servants are often malicious or insane, and when they aren’t, they’re incompetent, unpleasant and will always chose malevolence over benevolence. Hell, even the post office in New Hampshire is a vastly better experience. Overall, NH civil servants act like, you know, civil servants rather than hostile occupying Gauleiters who are eager to send you to the gulag.

Google search results on “happy NH police”; they gave this girl a kitten because hers died

Google search results on “happy Berkeley police” -they threatened to quit unless allowed to go to some idiot exercise for murdering “extremists”

 The government of New Hampshire, what there is of it, seems to be run with Prussian efficiency. There is no income tax, so the money is generally collected near where it will be used. The lower house of representatives in NH has 400 members, so each member represents about 3000 people. They’re paid $200 a term and are only allowed to meet a few months a year; as a result, “NH politician” is not the scam it is in other states, and people rarely serve more than one or two terms. By contrast, in California, the State Assembly has 80 members, and each of these assclowns represents 450,000 people and is paid a six figure salary; they only recently enacted 12 year term limits. The results of all of this are predictable. New Hampshire is run like a pleasant and civilized democracy; more or less an American version of Switzerland. California is a banana republic ruled by Google dipshits and almond oligarchs rather than the United Fruit Company.

The people of the Bay Area are, taken on average, some of the lowest I’ve encountered in Western civilization, albeit with a high standard deviation. There are some very ambitious and hard working people there who may or may not be interesting or talented, but at least they keep the economy turning over: Steve Jobs, Alice Waters, Mitch Kapor, Larry Ellison are exemplars of the type.  There’s also a layer of interesting and or talented people there who work on difficult problems or are pleasant bohemian non-conformists; this group of people is who everyone in the Bay Area wants to see themselves as; John Perry Barlow, Wavy Gravy, Andy Grove, Elon Musk. There is a much larger layer of homeless scum who make life intolerable for normal people. Worse than that, most of the rest of the population consists of degenerate NPC and Karen types; vermin who will defend the right of the bum to shit on your doorstep or burn your house down. I don’t think such people deserve to live, let alone live near me. You’ll notice the missing ingredient which makes life impossible in the Bay Area; sensible working to middle class people who shut down the NPC and Karen types and roust the bums before they shit on the petunias. NH people: a normal distribution of social classes where the local aristocracy are taverners or dentists all the way down to a virtuous yeomanry of snow plow operators.

The average NH resident is something like a no-helmet motorcycle boomer who has a job as a construction worker. His ex wife is a nurse who has too many tattoos, and he takes his kids hunting and fishing. The eigen Bay Area resident has a trust fund, several mental illnesses they’re happy to tell you about, has extreme difficulty making it through a normal day even with the assistance of a half dozen brain-melting pharmaceuticals, but feels entitled to lecture you about how to live your life because they have a diploma in novel pronoun construction. 

The bad about moving away from the Bay Area:

The main downside is network effects: the Bay Area, for mostly historical reasons, has attracted a lot of talented and ambitious people. While I find NH people vastly more likeable on average, there are arguably not as many talented or ambitious ones per capita.  There are talented and interesting people around; Dean Kamen lives in Manchester, Dyn and Alumni ventures is based there, and there are a lot of old money people around who have good brains and who do interesting things. They’re just a lot harder to meet, and the overall density of talent is lower. This is in part because the population density is lower, but NH people, as peoples of the cold North, are also more reticent and less gregarious. America’s version of Norwegians. 

The lower density means there are fewer cafes and restaurants, so  you might have to drive a little farther for Ethiopian or whatever. If this is your criteria for living in a place, you should probably consider suicide. Covidiots have made this mostly irrelevant in any case.

Weather: you’ll have to get used to seasons and weather which might kill you. You probably will want a garage if you live in a winter climate. You’ll also need different clothes. Vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder are real,  but are fairly easy to deal with. It’s worth it for keeping out the weak, scurrying pustules who ruined the Bad Area. 

That’s it; that’s the extent of the downsides. If you have a remote job anyway, and you’re not a scumbag, consider living in a place like NH.  If you want to live in a less shitty version of the Bay Area, consider Austin or Seattle. Also, seekers of alternate Bay Areas: fuck off, we’re full: the last thing any functioning society needs is your contributions. If you want a genuine lifestyle upgrade and can accept that New Hampshire is better precisely because and to the extent it doesn’t resemble the Bay Area, you’re very welcome: I might even help you to move.

Nothing works in California; it is “failed state” tier. It is also a preview of the national dystopia to come if California isn’t sawed off and left to drift off to sea in a Calexit. It is either that, give it back to Mexico, or a war of extermination -nothing less will save us from the nightmarish California Dream. The Bay Area has nice weather, and some interesting people live there out of what I assume is inertia and provincialism, but there is no worse place to live in North America today. It’s a physical paradise made into dystopian hellscape by the people who live in it. 

I remember sitting in an early internet cafe on Haight street called “The Horseshoe.” It was 1996, so “internet cafe” meant you’d stick quarters into an IBM PC with 9600 baud dialup to check your email on the VMS machine at work. There was a pile of ‘zines’ there; back then, zines were the voice of the people rather than whatever corporate  panopticon twitwaffle horror is supposed represent people’s voice now. Inside this zine was Jim Goad’s essay “Bay Aryan Resistance” which is still the best essay on what is wrong with the majority of people who congregate in that wretched place. Now you’ve got natural disasters, urban riots, sinister panopticon lizard companies and a government which is completely insane to go along with it. Good luck with that. As Jim put it:

“Tony Bennet left his heart, I took a dump: I’d tell you to go to hell but you already live there.”

William R. Corliss and open problems in science

Posted in Corliss, Open problems by Scott Locklin on August 2, 2020

William Corliss was a physicist and rocket scientist from the heroic golden age of physics. He did great work in everything from nuclear engineering, to telerobotics, to neutron spectroscopy, to space flight; a real universal man in the last exciting time in science. What we know him for most these days though are his catalogs of things we don’t know. 

Looked a lot like my late pal Marty as well


He represents exactly my kind of scientist; one who is interested in the cool stuff happening in current year, and all the stuff we don’t know. You infectious human waste “who fucking love science” don’t actually. Science is about the mystery. It’s not a clerisy you can use to bludgeon  your political opponents, nor a series of facts you can feel smug about “knowing” about; it’s about appreciating the wonder of all of it. It’s insufficiently appreciated what a bunch of dumbasses humans are, and how little we actually know about matters of the utmost importance to our self understanding as human beings. Most modern clerisy “scientists” couldn’t even tell you about important open problems in their field. They’re too busy filling out forms, grubbing for money and social status, diddling their students and engaging in maoist witch hunts to bother with the reason all honest people become scientists; appreciating the wonders of nature and figuring things out.

Corliss’ work looks like it more or less wrapped up around the mid-90s; it’s truly enormous and it was almost entirely done before the internet era. He has a sensible rating system involving quality of data and extremity of anomaly. Many of the really big mysteries mentioned are still mysteries. It vast, and at this point I own enough of it I don’t have to worry about you guys cleaning up on volumes I may not have yet. Of course, most of it is not so mysterious, but it is at least noteworthy and thought provoking. Pointing out a certain kind of rock formation is weird and interesting is vastly superior to never mentioning the weird rocks.

Contemplate writing two feet worth of authoritative books on biology, astronomy, meteorology, geology and archaeology before Al Gore invented the internet, while maintaining an active career in rocket science. There’s more to it than meets the eye here; this represents the in-print stuff and a few out of print books I managed to get my hands on: there is more of his work is in out of print books, and some of it only exists in his newsletters, some of which his son has preserved online.

Most of it is taken from Science, Nature and other respectable scientific journals. People will grouse about it, because people always grouse, but he seemed to do a bang up job of picking out interesting things for which there are no reasonable explanations, and a lot more things which are merely “pretty damn weird.” Probably using stuff like index cards.

Now some of it may seem fruity to smug yutzes. Dr. Corliss has a section on the Yeti in Biological Anomalies Humans III. However most of the citations are from, as I said, Science and Nature. Should we ignore these lacunae, “fucking love science” dipshits? I think at this point where even primitive barbarians have ipotato, it’s probable there is no Yeti hominid, but Corliss’ probability of this being a big deal back in 1994 is still approximately correct as far as I can tell. Even if the Yeti is ultimately silly and wrong, his preservation of wonderful tales of the Orang Pendek (a legendary sumatran dwarf homonid race)  or the Agogwe (african mini yeti) a few pages afterwords makes it all worth while.

Since I’ve got this giant stack of books of weird lacunae in the sciences, as I thumb through them, I’ll post a few here, checked against the latest research, at least as well as the most convenient search engines go. Maybe one or two will be worth a full sperdo nerding out on. Ideally to make some of you think about something useful, but at the very least, kick his kids a few bucks by buying his books

A few tastes: 

Fat tropical animals: here’s one looking us in the face: why the fook would fat animals be happy in the tropics? It’s possibly a recent evolutionary adaptation, hippos being in the tropcs, but it’s bloody weird. Most animals, even people are well suited to the climates they live in with physical adaptations that help. BMI3

Human Mortality Correlated with Geomagnetic Activity: here’s one Corliss rated as fairly low in data quality back when he wrote about it, but top notch as an anomaly if it turns out to be true. The geomagnetic field has weird disturbances correlated with the quasiperiodic solar activity. Apparently this also causes premature death. Obviously nobody knows why, but it is fairly well documented at this point;  with the years since Corliss originally wrote about it in BHF32 (Human Anomalies II) (one of his original refs conveniently available here), it’s become fairly well known. I linked seven references above; there are probably a hundred.

Nonrandom Direction-of-Approach of Comets to the Sun: the prevailing theory of the Oort cloud is comets should approach the sun from random directions. People are fairly certain that comet approaches are non-random. Lots of evidence of it; people are more certain than ever that there is something going on here, and various ideas on galactic tidal forces have been proposed to deal with it. (ACB2 The Sun and Solar System Debris)

 Bone Caves, Bone Caches and Other Superficial Accumulations of Bones: -this used to be a trope of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs books; aka the elephant graveyard of lore. There are numerous examples of this, though Corliss kind of lumps them together in ESD1 (Neglected Geological Anomalies). Some of them are dinosaurs falling into a ravine and being pickled in the moss that eventually becomes coal. But it’s still freaking weird. Other bone caves are just insane; such things used to be considered evidence by geologists for the Great Flood back when that was the dominant paradigm (150 years ago isn’t that long). He gives this top ratings for weirdness; very strong data, very weird phenomenon. Moderns apparently just ignore it, despite the fact that Darwin himself thought it pretty peculiar.


Production-Consumption Discrepancy in Prehistoric Lake Superior Copper Mining. I bet most of you didn’t know that North America had pre-european copper mines; Indians had been mining copper there for 5000 years. Personally I consider this pretty weird in itself. It’s a fact, and it’s largely ignored. What propels it to “holy shit that’s weird” territory is nobody knows what happened to most of the copper (MSE6 “Ancient Infrastructure”). The calculation of how much copper was taken out of there is pretty straightforward, and copper doesn’t disappear easily; there are copper and bronze artifacts from the Americas (and everywhere else) from that long ago. The speculation is that, perhaps Phonecian Merchants (or Egyptians or Aliens or whatever) were trading with the Americas for much longer than we know. It is in principle a knowable thing; one can identify artifacts made with the particular chemical composition of Lake Superior Copper.  Not something likely to make you friends in the Archaeology department though.

 

 

Open problems in Robotics

Posted in brainz, Open problems by Scott Locklin on July 29, 2020

Robotics is one of those things the business funny papers regularly wonder about; it seems like consumer robotics is a revolutionary trillion dollar market which is perpetually  20-years away -more or less like nuclear fusion.

I had contemplated fiddling with robotics in hopes of building something that would do a useful science-fictiony thing, like go fetch me a beer from the refrigerator. Seemed like a nice way of fucking around with math, the machine shop and ending up with something cool and useful to fiddle with.  To do this, my beer fetching robot would have to navigate my potentially cluttered apartment to the refrigerator, open the door, look for the arbitrarily shaped/sized beer bottle amidst the ketchup bottles, jars of herring, broccoli and other such irrelevant objects, move things out of the way, grasp the bottle and return to me. After conversing with a world-renowned expert in autonomous vehicles; a subset of robotics,  I was informed that this isn’t really possible. All the actions I described above are open problems. Sure, you could do some ridiculous workaround that makes it look like autonomous behavior. I could also train a monkey or a dog to do the same thing, or get up and get the damn beer myself.

There really aren’t any lists in open problems in robotics, I am assuming because it would be a depressingly long litany. I figured I would assemble one; one which I assume will be gratuitously incomplete and occasionally wrong, but which makes up for all that by actually existing. Like my list of open problems in physics and astronomy, I could very well be wrong about some of these, or behind the times, and since my expertise consists in google and 5-10 year old conversations with a cool dude between deadlifts, but it seems worth doing.

  1. Motion planning is an actual area of research, with its own journals, schools of thought, experts and sets of open problems. Things like, “how do I get my robot from point A to point B without falling into a canyon, getting stuck, or being able to deal generally with obstacles” are not solved problems. Even things like a model of where the robot is, with respect to the surroundings: totally an open problem. How to know where your manipulator is in space, and how to get it somewhere else; open problem. Obviously beer fetching robots need to do all kinds of motion planning. Any potential solution will be ad-hoc and useless for the general case of, say, fetching a screw from a bin in the machine shop.
  2. Multiaxis singularities -this one blew my mind. Imagine you have a robot arm bolted to the ground. You want to teach the stupid thing to paint a car or something. There are actual singularities possible in the equations of motion; and it is more or less an underconstrained problem. I guess there are workarounds for this at this point, but they all have different tradeoffs. It’s as open a problem as motion planning on a macro scale.
  3. Simultaneous Location and Mapping. SLAM for short. When you enter a room, your brain knows exactly where your body is, and makes a map of the surroundings. Robots have a hard time with this. There are any number of solutions to the problem, but ultimately the most useful one is to make a really good map in advance. Having a vague or topological map or some kind of prior as to the environment: these are all completely different problems which seem like they should have a common solution, but don’t. While there are solutions to some problems available, they’re not general and definitely not turn-key to where there would be a SLAM module you can buy for your robot. I could program my beer robot to know all about my room, but there’s always going to be new obstacles (a pair of shoes, a book) which aren’t in its model. It needs SLAM to deal.
  4. Lost Robot Problem. Related; if I wake up, and my friends moved my bed to another room; we’ll all have a laugh. Most robots won’t know what to do if it loses track of its location. It will need a strategy to deal with this. The strategies are not general. It’s extremely likely I turn on my beer robot in different positions and locations in the room, and it will have to deal with that. Now imagine I put it somewhere else in the apartment building.
  5. Object manipulation and haptic feedback. Hugely not done yet. The human hand is an amazing thing, and robot manipulators are nowhere near being able to manipulate with haptic feedback or even simply manipulate real world objects based on visual recognition. Even something like picking up a stationary object with a simple graspable plane is a huge unsolved problem people publish on all the time. My beer robot could have a special manipulator designed to grasp a specific kind of beer bottle, or a lot of models of shapes of beer bottles, but if I ask the same robot to fetch me a carrot or a jar of mayo, I’m shit out of luck.
  6. Depth estimation. A sort of subset of object manipulation; you’d figure a robot with binocular vision, or even simply the ability to poke at an object and see it move is something pretty simple to do. It’s very much an open problem. Depth estimation is a problem for my beer-fetching robot, even if the beer is in the same place in the refrigerator every time (the robot won’t be, depending on its trajectory).
  7. Position estimation of moving objects. If you can’t know how far away an object is, you’re sure going to have a hard time estimating what a moving object is doing. Lt. Data ain’t gonna be playing baseball any time soon. If my beer robot had a human-looking bottle opener, it would need a technology like this.
  8. Affordance discovery how to predict what an object you interact with will do when you interact with it.  In my example; the robot would need a model for how objects are likely to behave in moving them aside in searching my refrigerator for a beer bottle.
  9. Scene understanding: this one should be obvious. We’re just at the point where image recognition is useful: I drove an Audi on the autobahn which could detect and somewhat adhere to the lines on the highway. I’m pretty sure it eventually would have detected the truck stopped in the middle of the road in front of me, but despite this fairly trivial “you’re going to turn into road pizza” if(object_in_front) {apply_break} level of understanding, it showed no evidence of being capable of this much reasoning. Totally open problem. I’ll point out that the humble housefly has no problem understanding the concept of “shit in front of you; avoid,” making robots and Audi brains vastly inferior to the housefly. Even putting the obvious problem aside; imagine if your robot is tasked with getting me a beer out of the refrigerator and there is a bottle of ketchup obscuring the beer. The robot will be unable to deal. Even with a 3-d model of the concept of beer bottle and the ketchup bottle which is absurdly complex to program the robot with.

 

several of the above problems illustrated

 

 

There’s something called the Moravec paradox which I’ve mentioned in the past.

“it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility”

Robotics embodies the Moravec paradox. There’s a sort of corollary to this that people who work in the tiny field of “actual AI” (as opposed to ML ding dongs who got above their station) used to know about. This was before the marketing departments of google and other frauds made objective thought about this impossible. The idea is that intelligence and consciousness arose spontaneously out of biological motion control systems.

I think the idea comes from Roger Sperry, but whatever, it used to be widely known and at least somewhat accepted. Those biological motion control systems exist even on a microscopic level; even unicellular creatures like the paramecium, or primitive animals without real nervous systems like the hydra are capable of solving problems that we can’t do even in the general case with the latest NVIDIA supercomputer. While robotics is a noble calling and the roboticists solve devilishly hard problems, animal behavior ought to give a big old hint that they’re not doing it right.

 

 

Guys like Rodney Brooks seemed to accept this and built various robots that would learn how to walk using primitive hardware and feedback oriented ideas rather than programmed ideas. There was even a name for this; “Nouvelle AI.” No idea what happened to those ideas; I suppose they were too hard to make progress on, though the early results were impressive looking. Now Dr Brooks has a blog where he opines hilarious things like flying cars and “real soon now” autonomous vehicles are right around the corner.

I’ll go out on a limb and say I think current year Rodney Brooks is wrong about autonomous vehicles, but I think 80s Rodney Brooks was probably on the right path. Maybe it was too hard to go down the correct path: that’s often the way. We all know emergent systems are super important in all manner of phenomena, but we have no mathematics or models to deal with them. So we end up with useless horse shit like GPT-3.

It’s probably the case that, at minimum, a genuine “AI” would need to have a physical form and be capable of interacting with its environment. Many of the proposed algorithmic solutions to the problems listed above are NP-hard problems. To me, this implies that crap involving computers such as we use is wrong. We do approximately solve NP-hard problems in other ways all the time; you can do it with soap bubbles, but the design of the “computer” is vastly different from the von Neumann machine: it’s an analog machine where we don’t care about infinite accuracy.

You can see some of this in various proposed neuromorphic computing models: it’s abundantly obvious that nothing like stochastic gradient descent or contrastive divergence is happening in biological neurons. Spiking models like a liquid state machine are closer to how a primitive nervous system works, and they’re fairly difficult to simulate on Von Neumann hardware (some NPC is about to burble “Church Turing thesis” at me: don’t). I think it likely that many robot open problems could be solved using something more like a simulacrum of a simple nervous system than writing python code in ROS.

But really, all I know about robotics is that it’s pretty difficult.

On cultures that build

Posted in econo-blasphemy by Scott Locklin on June 19, 2020

I tire of the Andreessen spurred discussion of “cultures that build.” I agree with the sentiment; I do miss the America that could make stuff.

I am annoyed that numskulls refuse to face the actual fact of the matter. The historical entity which built most of the stuff you see around you no longer exists. That civilization is dead. Full stop; the end. In fact, the predominant social energy of the moment, backed by most of the mainstream organs of respectable thought, most government agencies, virtually all corporations and collectives, and right thinking people everywhere is to wipe out any remaining historical reminders of that civilization because of muh feels. For example:

People who dislike the idea of tearing down statues are so thoroughly politically vanquished they can’t prevent the destruction of statues of the historical founder of the country. Pardon me if I laugh at the concept of becoming a “culture that builds” at this present moment in time. US culture and its colonial offspring are now cultures of destruction; both at home and abroad. Virtually all organs of US power are organized to not only prevent building things; they’re organized to destroy things.

see a pattern here?

I would say that the chances of the US becoming “a culture that builds” is about the same as the present day municipality of Venice becoming a powerful trade and naval empire in the Adriatic and Bosphorus. The knowledge is gone. The cultural capital is gone; the society that produced those kinds of productive people hasn’t existed in decades. The physical ability to do this is gone; thanks to the globalization our genius economists told us was inevitable, the US lacks the factories, mines and shipyards required to build things. The human material who would actually do the building is gone: dimwit MBAs destroyed the skilled working classes, atomized their communities, continue to demonize and demoralize them and utterly destroyed the kind of basic low level education and social cohesion required to have a productive workforce.

Our technocrats (aka you lot and the morons you went to college with) themselves are typically not capable of working with matter any longer, preferring more profitable and more fashionable masturbatory financialized nonsense that doesn’t pollute the environment. Instead of building Project Pluto, modern american technocrat and managerial types prefer making dopamine rat mazes such as Facebook, imbecile glass bead games like “quantum information theory” or abstract quasi-religious bullshit such as…  woke collitch culture and its sinister city-burning, cancel-culture Jacobin offspring.

In fact, one of the main things the US produces at the moment is the type of people who think “cultures that build” are so horrible, visible reminders of them need to be removed from the public square. We don’t produce many innovators, but we produce plenty of people who think remaining builders  should be persecuted and made to apologize for having the temerity to excel. We’ve created a managerial caste who is so psychologically fragile they can’t even abide images of success. What are they going to do when they’re asked to do something difficult like invent the transistor or discover DNA, or even skirt San Francisco Zoning Laws

Let me posit this, fellow builders of things. Politically speaking, the kind of changes required for the country to go back to its past of building and inventing cool things will involve at minimum dealing with the kinds of loathesome barbarians tearing down statues and burning cities. Those people have to be prevented from interfering with both built structures and the present day builders of things. There are a lot of them and they have a lot of free time on their hands to get up to mischief. 

Not only that; a productive future will involve active persecution of the evil dimwits responsible for making chimping barbarians think it’s OK to burn it all down. There are a lot of their lot too, and they’re generally comfortably ensconced in schools, foundations, non-profits, government bureaucracies, large corporations, entertainment complexes and other such places of institutional power. These are the people who would implement any government or societal policy. You have to either  change their minds or get them out of the way somehow. 

These bozos would be pretty easy to deal with if we had the political will to do so. I’m not even talking physically, though there is that; most are noodle-armed vegans or two twinkies from a heart attack. Many of these mentally ill assclowns are so hysterical they actually require trigger warnings to get through the day. You could probably take away their antidepressants and they’d all have to check themselves into the booby hatch. This alone would probably double US economic output. Just removing crazy people from positions of responsibility instead of promoting them would be an enormous help. 

 Every historical example of a society turning to a productive direction (I dunno, post Revolution France, or Deng era China) involved defanging tin pot Robespierres before anything good happened. Removing statue toppling city burners and their encouragers and enablers as active dangers to the rest of society is table stakes for making a society of builders. The more serious issue is the MBA types who think it’s just fine to ship middle class jobs to the third world, or import new helot worker classes to destroy the bargaining power of local labor because “muh free markets.” These people are sharks, they’re wreckers, and it is they who have weaponized the “woke culture” of the left to prevent the actual left (as opposed to numskulls who think overturning a statue helps anything) from raising their taxes.

None of them are interested in investing money in productive directions; they’re all about pyramid schemes and looting the remaining human and physical capital. These fuckers are burning the proverbial furniture to warm themselves. They’ll have to go, and they won’t go easy because they have all the loot and no loyalties beyond their bank accounts. That includes almost everyone in Andreessen’s shitty industry (reminder: “VC” means “toilet” in Russian): almost none of them are interested in investing in things involving innovation or matter. They’d rather invest in garbage which skirts hotel and taxi laws or become sneaker loan sharks, making everyone else more miserable in the process by socializing the costs. 

The society we have right now is a result of the people that compose it. Outcomes won’t change until you at least change minds of the people in charge of running the day to day operations of it. Are you willing to ship NPR reporters, Goldman Sachs bankers, Ford foundation grant administrators, pornographers, Booz Allen Hamilton consultants,  mid-level tech managers, 99.8% of Venture Capitalists, and all the 3rd assistant secretaries of education to a potato picking Gulag in North Dakota? Are you willing to at least get them fired so they have to get jobs at Burger King, and put your supposedly waiting-in-the-wings non kakistocrats in charge of their bureaucracies? To be honest, me neither; that’s probably why we can’t have nice things. We’ve built our cages out of iphones, twitter, prozac and people obsessed with their feels and the doings of their crotches. You won’t get any more Edisons or Wozzes or Bardeens in America as long as hysterical imbeciles and demonic looters are preeminent and people who actually lower the entropy of the universe, past, present and future, are demonized. 

It’s over; the US has has a remarkable run as a place where regular people could have a nice life, and exceptional people could make exceptional contributions. “Vanished under night’s helm as if it had never been.” Genap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære.  Acting like some minor tweak in policy is going to reverse this is laughably insane. Policy fiddling is a ghost dance; trying to bring back 1945 in America when we had a competent and productive civil service, nuclear lightning in our hands,  our enemies vanquished at our feet, a largely virtuous and almost fanatically united society, sitting on top of the stock of the world’s capital with a host of giant new high technology factories. That reality and that America is long gone. It has run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible; it is bleedin’ demised. That society isn’t pining for the fields; it’s pushing up the daisies. I’m standing in front of you with a dead parrot society.

I realized it was too late about 7-8 years ago, and organized my life around my exit strategy. The country is too far down kakistocracy, and the remaining decent people are too deluded about the root causes and their potential remedies to ever change things. If you’re still in the US, you live in an evil empire of chaos and destruction, and the best of you are probably serving the worst ends of it.

 You can cower under your desks with home-made diapers on your faces hoping some member of a productive society invents a vaccine for the Chinese Lung Butter or whatever phantom (and entirely inflicted by our kakistocrat mandarins) terror of the moment afflicts you. Those N95 factories aren’t coming back, let alone Bell Labs type innovations; even if you wish really really hard.