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Some barely-formed ideas

A beneficial form of socioeconomic organization is one founded on the knowledge that most people are just trying to get by, caring for themselves and those closest to them, and through the accumulated efforts of all makes that a wholly achievable standard, such that any who wish to have energy to spare for further efforts.

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Something's up out in the darkness

A bunch of astronomers spotted something odd in the outer solar system. The formal announcement is tomorrow. Someone accidentally leaked the big reveal on Twitter, but deleted it before more than a few people could notice. There are hints that a known object is doing something very unexpected for something of its type and distance from the sun.

I'm still hoping for the announcement of a Mars-size planetary-mass object way out there, but the hints point to atmosphere where there shouldn't be any.

daylight, dawn, bright, sun

Redistribution by any other name

In capitalist economies, when publicly-accountable social structures are excluded from participation in resource allocation decisions, the result is effectively a transfer of power over wealth distribution to privately-controlled structures. The resulting power structure is no less hierarchical than before, and potentially far less accountable to the populations affected by the rulers’ decisions. Taxes and profits are both forms of wealth redistribution; clownishly wealthy individuals colluding to maximize the share of resources they control is no less of an abuse of power than governmental actors rewriting rules to modify redistribution systems in favour of friends and lackeys. Both are decisions to allocate resources, ultimately made by individuals acting under a cloak of authority of one form or another, with effects that tend to be coercive toward individuals without the resources or influence to directly participate in those decisions. A group of cabinet ministers chooses to direct funding toward certain pet projects and away from already-underprovisioned frontline social work; a corporate board of directors encourages executives to reduce labour compensation and direct resources to more manipulative advertising; the people negatively affected by such decisions are left to adapt to circumstances beyond their control, often without support, and with sanctimonious prattle about sacrifice and change, from the very people who chose to make their lives more difficult.

The very concept of a clean line between public and private sectors dissolves when the movements and relationships of people within these allegedly separate spheres are carefully tracked. Corporate executives participate in numerous boards of directors consisting of people from the same economic and personal circles while working to insert some of them into public power; lawyers and executives run for office, manipulate decisions in favour of their friends, and join related private hierarchies after leaving office; senior political staff and public service managers jump from party to state to private employment, aided by friends and colleagues who’ve done the same for decades, making a mockery of rules intended to defuse conflicts of interest and malignant private influence. No one wants to end the party, resulting in a revolving door between the most powerful private and public entities in a given system. Neoliberal propaganda envisages a divide between a "free market" of private actors and exclusive property control, and a stifling, thieving government, as the people who most benefit from the results of widespread acceptance of such ideology cross that nonexistent line on a regular basis, changing public rules to benefit private power concentrations while pretending faceless others in the state they are part of are responsible for the very abuses from which they profit. They create self-fulfilling prophecies of ineffective public control, while private malfeasance and greed is justified as the results of "the market", a market managed by the same groups of friends and colleagues taking advantage of that revolving door.

All economies are planned; the differences lie in who is able to participate in that planning, and for what purpose. Corporations choosing to fire some employees in favour of undercompensating others halfway around the planet is no less of a wealth redistribution decision than a government redirecting spending from housing support or education to arms manufacturing and bank bailouts. Pretending that one set of decisions is the epitome of freedom and liberty while the other is inexcusably oppressive and unjustifiable is a sick joke upon the billions of people who aren't afforded any influence upon eiher set of choices that affect them. Organizational principles that promote concentration of resources and influence are the antithesis of liberation and social cohesion, but they serve the ends of sociopaths and power-seeking charlatans quite well.

daylight, dawn, bright, sun

Fuzzy matching problems

One of the unfortunate effects of my visual impairment is an inability to perceive people’s physical details in a timely manner. I don’t know how anyone else matches individuals within their visual or auditory fields to memorized patterns, or how quickly the process takes place, so I can only explain how I think I do it and solicit responses from others who’ve considered the matter, or even conducted research.

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tl;dr: neurobiological pattern matching is funky shit.

(original post)

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Well, this is disquieting.

Bonus oddness: the record-high amount of Antarctic sea ice, even as the surrounding and supporting Southern Ocean warms. Although the published interview on that subject doesn’t really provide a hypothesis for this effect, I’m willing to toss one out: melted continental fresh water is flowing into the ocean, perhaps enough to slightly reduce the salinity of the surrounding sea. This would raise the freezing point of the affected water, resulting in more solid chunks of water floating around.

Experiment: collect samples of liquid and frozen water from various points around the Southern Ocean and the continent. Compare with historical salinity levels, if available; otherwise, find a reasonable, measurable proxy for historical oceanic and continental salinity levels.

(Originally pounded out for my tumblr page. Yes, I have one of those wankfest things now. I have a good reason, though: the iOS client features larger, easier-to-read font than the Livejournal client.)

((No, I haven't posted in a while. At first, for many months, I simply felt unable to express lengthy ideas, or that whatever ideas I was producing were incomplete, inaccurate, unclear, unoriginal, not useful. Then. I was busy dealing with disasters. I'm OK now, and feel like pounding out some longer thoughts again. Fuck it; the first draft doesn't need to be perfect, not everything needs multiple editing passes, and I can post corrections later if a fact is incorrect or analysis is faulty.))

(((This has three parentheses, just because I can, dammit.)))

daylight, dawn, bright, sun

How things have changed

I decided to spend a couple of hours this morning hacking together a comparison of the changes to the Toronto skyline, from the time I moved to my current home in 2008 to sometime midway through last year. I dug through photos I've taken from the balcony during those two years to find a pair usable for rough comparison purposes.

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daylight, dawn, bright, sun

Current and recent input


The above were given to me by my wonderful partner, who knows what I like, for what we like to call Kissmas. Less religious claptrap, more fun and relaxation.


  • Metalcast - A podcast curated by a bunch of European metalheads, with a variety of heavy sounds.
  • Twisted's Darkside podcast - Head-crushing beats from hardcore, industrial, and gabber DJs
  • Angela's Ashes, described version - This may be my favourite described movie, though I still haven't cracked open the plastic on District 9. I can only imagine how unrelentingly grim the book is.


  • House of Cards - A well-produced series about everything worthy of loathing in electoral politics. Do you like selfishness, scheming, and high-end temper tantrums? You'll like this show. It's an American retelling of a British series, which I intend to watch after I'm done watching Kevin Spacey stab everyone in the back.
  • The Invisible War - Rape culture is everywhere, including the US military. Some of the survivors tell their stories in this wrenching documentary.