The Intellectual Wilderness There is nothing more useless than doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

2022.01.16 15:19

Economics: Advent of the Generic CEO

“Financialization”, a process characterized by stakeholders in a business activity mixing up the metric of success (money) with metrics of performance (operational standards), has manifested some bizarre outcomes over the last few decades. These effects have come to dominate the economic landscape as money has become less and less representative of reality and government involvement in the economy has quietly and insidiously taken over all aspects of market function and decision making. The timeline for this transition has been longer than most individual careers, several decades, and so has crept up on us with few having a “wait, what?” moment and really noticing.

The advent of the Generic CEO is an illustrative example of one of these weird outcomes.

What is a Generic CEO? He (or more often than not specifically forbidden to be a “he” as of late) is a person who has no idea how the business he is being hired to run actually works, no knowledge of its background, no experience in whatever industry is it involved in, and no good place to get started. He is the shoe company CEO who was brought in from a construction firm, or the new “turnaround” executive brought in to fix the bottom line of a failing tech company after having spent years working in the auto industry, or the lawyer-turned-executive anywhere.

WTF? Yeah… wtf indeed.

How does this work? Continue on, dear reader, and I’ll explain with an example.

Let’s say you have an airline. It’s doing OK. It’s “big”. You’re focused on making it be a successful airline despite the insane ways in which every government on the face of the Earth blocks you from being a fair, successful, not cheating business on the actual market. Then hire a rabid pack of MBAs. The MBAs realize that your collateral fund to cover fuel price spikes can easily make more money than your business’s primary operations if you put it into junk bonds issued by fake CCP real estate companies than if you use it as fuel collateral. So you do that and leave your fuel contracts open and uncovered.

Viola! Your primary business is now speculation in fake CCP assets rather than being an airline.

Sure, you still fly planes around and sell tickets and send people’s baggage to destinations that bear no relationship whatsoever to wherever you flew their owners, but your real business is fake business speculation, not being an airline — which is a good thing, as government regulation and IATA rules long ago forbade any airline from being profitable [cue audio sting].

The only reason you continue to fly planes at this point is to guarantee that when the frothy mesh of bubbles that is the fake economy inevitably pops and blows away you’ll come out smelling like a rose because the government will bail you out after you file bankruptcy for the 17th time. I mean, you’re an airline for jeebussake! You’re essential to the fake economy that nobody is doing any real work in anymore, don’t you see? The politicians are obligated to pay you for keeping the skies angry, come what may — especially since you remembered to use your CCP and public funds from the last bailout to buy all those nice gifts and donate to their campaigns and park their crack addict children and cousins in sinecure’s on your do-nothing board and so on.

These kinds of CEOs are not in business and they know nothing about operations. That’s “the old model”. The new model followed by these leeches is to know the right people and position themselves at the mouth of the ill and nauseatingly bloated corpse of what once was the economy and suckle down all the vomitus they can while they can because they and the politicians they have in their pocket no longer believe in consequences or actual human action (not to mention human greatness).

Note that this is not capitalism. This is how fascist economics works. Fascist economics is most simply defined as a structural formalization of crony capitalism, and of course predicts the exact same tyrannical outcomes. It is the slow-moving version of a socialist authoritarian power grab — the power grab part just comes later in the progression after everyone is totally demoralized and exhausted and the market participants have been bled for all they are worth instead of before.

As Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell and other wise men have so often tried to remind us: Things that can’t go on forever eventually stop.

2021.12.26 22:35

erlang-questions: A tale of push VS pull and authority VS lolberty

Filed under: Computing,Society — Tags: , , , , , — zxq9 @ 22:35

I just plowed through my email backlog for the first time in a long time to find that the venerable and seemingly eternal resource for n00bs and webtards in need sage graybeard advice known as the “erlang-questions” mailing list is now deprecated by the Erlang Something-or-other (Foundation? whatever).

I suppose this means they intend to nuke the archive of messages as well, which effectively obliterates the thing Joe Armstrong liked about it the most: the most useful posts and threads tended to turn up in web searches and were easily linked as resources years after the discussions themselves happened.

This came to my attention by way of a monster thread that started out innocently enough as “PING TEST“:

My apologies for spamming, but the list was unusually quiet for the last couple of days, and I just wanted to test if it is still active.
Kind regards

Valentin Micic (Fri Dec 3 08:08:30 CET 2021)

After a few stylish replies of a form common on periodically low traffic lists that simply indicated that the list was still working, a somewhat unexpected reply was then encountered:

Nowadays you will find more activity at

Björn Gustavsson (Fri Dec 3 09:05:31 CET 2021)

This prompted an unsurprising and appropriate reaction from none other than Richard O’Keefe (aka “ROK”, aka “The ROK”, aka “The guy who knows way more than you do so if he doesn’t have time to explain in detail just do whatever he says and you’ll be much closer to Doing It Right”):

As far as I am concerned, anything that diverts traffic away from the Erlang mailing list to a labyrinth like is a Bad Thing. Sigh.

Richard O’Keefe (Fri Dec 3 09:26:48 CET 2021)

This was followed up by quite a slew of posts from long-time Erlangers noting basic problems with the way the forums are framed by the Foundation (or whatever it is), trouble with the legalese involved, the technical problems involved in future mining of old wisdom from the forums if any ever turns up there, and subtly and not-so-subtly pointing out that this fits a disturbing trend of the webtards and wokescolds of the intertubes slowly breaking up the community over time and driving the graybeards away. Check the archive thread out — it is quite interesting to “next post” your way through it.

By the end it was clear that feelings among the long-time Erlangers ranged from extreme allergy to more neutral mild annoyance, as one often sees when The Committee is clearly doing something absolutely fucking stupid and Those Who Legitimately Know Better are trying to tell them so without starting a war over it. Fitting with the trend, the only two long-time Erlangers who actually support the move to trash-tier web forums are the literal card carrying communist and the kommunity karen (the guy who called me a racist and a Nazi on Slack because I said that I believe national borders are a thing that governments have a duty to their citizens to enforce — clearly the heart and soul of the National Socialist platform and not at all an indication that the angry little man in question had just proved Godwin’s Law right yet again).

Having been away from community interaction for quite a while and figuring this would probably be my last post before they get rid of it entirely, I decided to offer my $2.50 (no, the inflation is not transitory and if you believed it was you have cognitive trouble of the same sort Grandpa Badfinger suffers) only to be met with this beauty of a response from the mailing list daemon:

Irony is part of Nature’s sense of poetic humor

Let me just say HA HA HA!

In the spirit of not letting anything go into the memoryhole as long as my own site remains in operation, here is what I wrote:

On 2021/12/19 9:02, Jeff Schultz wrote:
> On 18/12/2021 04:02, Igor Clark wrote:
>> I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for putting it so carefully and insightfully, Yao.
> I also agree.
> On an internet mailinglist, I can listen.
> On an internet forum, I am property.

At least you grok the motivation behind this sort of move.

A central point I have to drive into my geopol and intel students over and over is that "Capacity drives intent". Even if the original intent was to make a more "modern" single place to discuss Erlang, once that place becomes The One True Community the exclusionary capacity enabled by it will eventually change the intent of those running it. (In the end it will only make the Erlang community lore harder to find in the noise -- but whatever, no online platform is forever unless you do it yourself.)

I've just had to make my own little island of misfits -- mostly new Erlangers who want to solve problems and really don't care about anything else, least of all feels politics and other regulatory nonsense that people want to inject into projects and communities by rudely shoving their CoC into it. I don't really see a way around going independent to avoid the worsening social cancer.

I'll be on the ML as long as it is around and might occasionally check the forums if I'm super bored, but I'm pretty much seeing this as the end of the graybeard era -- it will definitely be a case of "nobody realized what they had until it was gone".

I have absolutely benefited an unfair amount from having this mailing list as a resource for the last several years. Thanks to all for the lessons and the laughs. Being proven wrong on the ML has always been one of those magical experiences where I could directly map blows to my ego to immediately useful lessons learned -- really fantastic stuff.

A late Merry Christmas to you all! Weee!

Anyway, all golden ages end eventually — our task as survivors is to simply push on ahead and try to manifest another golden age as soon as possible, and if we are both diligent and lucky we may just generate a small cascade of renaissances amongst one another. Let’s hope for that future instead of being bitter.

On that note, if anyone is interested in my little island of misfits just send me an email and I’ll point the way. Saving that I’m keeping the candle on at the #erlang IRC channels on OFTC and EFNet as well as the StackOverflow Erlang/OTP chat (I’m sure there is still an #erlang on freenode and libera, but until that ball of retardation is a distant memory and the landscape is clear I’m spending my effort elsewhere).

[Protip for 2022: Spend time with your family, friends and loved ones. Mend some fences or establish relationships with people you can physically see in real life (like really real life, not online). Never know when that’s going to come in handy.]

2021.11.24 11:08

Geopol: What use are peaceful protests?!?

A little over half the population in the (loosely defined) West currently feel unrepresented by their governments, particularly in the context of draconian and laughably ineffective (if the stated purpose is to be believed…) COVID measures, universal media shenanigans and election troubles.

In a video I did a few months ago I explained how the mutual capacity for violence is the root of negotiation, how negotiation begets cooperation, how cooperation signals become trust signals, how that leads to the emergence of society and culture, and over the long term how this phenomenon impacts the development of intelligence and empathy.

In the philosophical context of the discussion about negotiation being an emergent, natural phenomenon I have been asked how should one interpret the role and utility of peaceful protests. This particular question has popped up a lot over the last two years in various forms, but particularly over the last week it has become a theme of its own so I’ve decided to do a video on the subject (actually two: a short take and an extended take).

Below are both the short and long takes, with links to them on Odysee, Rumble and BitChute — just pick whichever one you have the most comfort with (or have an account on — “don’t forget to like and subscribe!” — ugh… I do tire of that but I suppose it actually does work as a mental plant in the mind of the viewer… I mean, you’re thinking of liking and subscribing if you happened to read that and now you can’t not think about it because I’m going on and on here so…).

Short Version




Long Version




2021.10.30 12:09

Nonsensical Surveys

Filed under: Science & Tech,Society — Tags: , , , , — zxq9 @ 12:09

At the bottom of some mystery fear porn article on MSN about it being such a puzzle that Japan is doing fine despite no mandates, no lockdowns, no shutdowns, etc. this survey appeared asking readers how they felt about about Japan’s “handling” of the situation:

This is ridiculous as there is no option for “This question is stupid because there was no meaningful ‘handling’ to be done” — which was basically what the article was all about (oh, but they made sure to totally mischaracterize the vaccination program here quite thoroughly — ivermectin is the main recommendation and several types of the vaccines have been banned for safety reasons, which isn’t at all how they portray the situation in the article, same with masks). The people who handled COVID the best so far have been the Amish.

2021.10.27 11:09

How to Destroy the Middle Class

Filed under: Politics / Geopolitics,Society — Tags: , , , , — zxq9 @ 11:09

Step 1: Impose a tax on unrealized capital gains right before hyperinflation takes off.
Step 2: Sit back and enjoy the show — you’re done!

The above is not an exaggeration.

Don’t think only about crypto and stock holdings. Think bigger. Your car, your house, your clothes, your dog, the food in your refrigerator, and any other property that is held in your name is fair game for such a tax.

Now consider how hyperinflation works: The nominal value of everything skyrockets, but the material and utility value stays the same. This is effectively a wealth tax that accelerates over time disguised as a “tax on the rich”, which it absolutely is not.

In the context of hyperinflation people will be taxed at an ever accelerating rate simply for owning anything at all, and only the mega-rich will be able to afford accountants that can get them out of owing.

I have to say, this is a genius plan to destroy anyone who isn’t a billionaire already and create that magical scenario we’ve heard so often before as a mantra of the “Build Back Better” WEF people: “You will own nothing”. Indeed, very few will own anything if this sort of tax is actually imposed.

Fascinating times. The cascade will be really interesting to watch.

2021.10.26 11:54

Space-Based Solar Done Right

Anyone who gives a bit of honest thought to the so-called “renewable energy” market cannot escape the conclusion that the vast majority of it is fake — politicians creating a moral panic to grant themselves unquestionable authority over appropriations and then handing appropriated funds over to losing ventures run by their friends and family that they themselves retire into as directors and board members. It’s a genius scam as scams go, but suffers from the fatal flaw of all scams: it accelerates the tragedy of the commons.

Imagine that, a scam that worsens the more general category of problems it claims to make better.

That said… “sustainable energy” is a genuine issue. Why use this other term? Because words mean things and there is literally no such thing as “renewable energy” as energy use is disruptive and we live in an entropic universe that mandates that energy cannot be renewed. This isn’t just an abstract philosophical idea, it’s physical law. Energy use can, however, be sustained over any foreseeable period of a future where humanity continues to thrive and that’s something we can think seriously about and come up with solutions for.

Terrestrially it is pretty clear that we have no idea what is going on with climate in any real sense and that we have almost completely prohibited ourselves from thinking clearly about climate change by moralizing it as a political issue. I am therefore going to ignore the idea of emissions and atmospheric content for just a moment and talk strictly about two things we know from general planetary science (studying other planets and planetoids):

  • Exposure to solar radiation correlates strongly with surface temperature
  • Atmospheric pressure correlates strongly with surface temperature

This means that even if I completely ignore carbon emissions (and health) that fossil fuels and other non-petroleum hydrocarbon use releases, these sources are also finite and have their own limitations regardless of the ZOMG DA CARBONSES moral panic. This also means that while I can accept that terrestrial power generation using atomic generation makes a lot of sense from a sustainable energy perspective, it still has limitations of scale: it is imaginable that we could simply use up the finite amount of available fuels at some point and/or find it difficult to build the sheer number of plants necessary to supply all of our energy needs (much less transmit the power once generated).

Terrestrial solar energy, wind power, various forms of ethanol, tidal power, current power, hydroelectric dams, etc. are all interesting but suffer from the same finiteness and scale problems that hydrocarbons and nuclear power have, but have an even greater and very direct environmentally disruptive impact by massive conversion of land use at scales never seen in human history. It just isn’t sustainable, much less reliable 24/7.

The bottom line is we need another solution for energy resources, and there just happens to be a massive nuclear furnace just a 150 gigameters away. Plenty of people have noted the obvious problems with terrestrial solar power and thought “Oh, hey, what if we just put solar farms into space and beam it back with lasers or microwaves?” In fact, Isaac Asimov gave quite a lot of thought to the idea and recently the idea has resurfaced across pop-sci media for whatever reason.

There is just one problem: While we don’t know anything for certain about the effects of “greenhouse gasses” we are quite certain about the effects of solar radiation — and solar farms in space effectively increase the radiation collecting surface of the planet.

To be clear: Space-based solar power that is beamed back to the planet literally microwaves Earth.

We can argue back and forth all day about the effects of carbon emissions on the climate, but one thing we cannot escape is the conclusion that increasing the surface area exposed to the Sun to any economically significant degree will have a warming effect on the planet.

Oh noes! I just shot down the great salvation of the human race! However can we still run PoW cryptofarms and transcoding servers for OnlyFans camwhores in AWS and Runscape servers and sexbot factories if we can’t access the delicious space power?!? The solution is actually quite easy and obvious: Put the hot process in space along with the solar arrays.

My prediction is that humanity will eventually begin building not just some, but the majority of server farms, data mines, and even industrial production sites in space. Continuing to put it all at the bottom of the terrestrial gravity well that we have a very strong desire to preserve is clearly not a sustainable idea. Space-based industry eliminates pollution issues, emissions concerns, is truly sustainable, and won’t microwave the planet.

The main problem with this idea is that people are retarded and don’t understand how non-crazy this concept is, and probably won’t until someone already has a set of self-powering and massively profitable space-based data services and perhaps even fabrication facilities in space — at which point the public will turn on them as “greedy rich people” and start moralizing about [random distraction] until the whole thing breaks down and has to be remade.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today. Enjoy the crash!

2021.04.6 16:37

Random: T’Challa’s Song

Filed under: Overlooked Resources,Society — Tags: , , , — zxq9 @ 16:37

Once upon a time, a student asked his music teacher the most difficult philosophical question in all of music and received wisdom.

T’Challa: “Teacher, there are so many instruments to pick from, which one is the best?”
Mrs. Ngudu: “Which is the best? You are the best instrument, T’Challa. All the music comes from you! Do you understand?”
T’Challa: “I think so…”

What he did with this wisdom was… novel.

Mrs. Ngudu

The principal

T’Challa’s cousin…

As a teacher you never know to what heights or in what manner your students may someday soar.

2021.04.5 12:51

Pol: Representative government, voting, and issues with discovering the will of the people

A discussion about voting, representation, and discovering the will of the people.

Watch on Rumble or BitChute.

Geopol: US Nuclear Parity With China?

This video discusses nuclear parity, what it means, and how the situation between China and the US shape our thinking about this issue.

Watch on Rumble or BitChute.

Censorship: Attack of the Twits!

Filed under: Politics / Geopolitics,Society — Tags: , , — zxq9 @ 12:26

The story of how I left Twitter. Pretty ridiculous, but in 2021 the line that defines Poe’s Law is long gone in the rear-view mirror for the majority of the English speaking world.

Watch it on Rumble or BitChute.

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