Sunday, March 7, 2021

Catalog of Frauds: Entry #1: "Structuring Rights as Privileges"

Engineers of various stripe often come up with cook books of patterns, which are more or less standardized solutions to familiar problems. 

Propagandists have their own pattern cookbook. It makes sense to know your adversary's tools. It also makes sense to know your own tools, with which to dismantle such conceptual bombs and render them safe:  The Fallacy Files

Our society has sadly accepted some of these fraudulent propositions as standard, and so it makes sense to catalog them here, in no particular order. 

In this series, we'll examine some of these patterns. 

Structuring the exercise of rights as privileges

This is one of the master patterns, which manifests in any number of ways. 

Precondition: An individual who is not confident in what his rights actually are, where they exist in the hierarchy of rights, why these prerogatives are actually rights to begin with, and what the nature of the just limitation of the exercise of rights is. 

Distinction Between Right and Privilege: Although propagandists encourage sloppy use of language,  "privilege" is not an equally interchangeable synonym for "right", as the words carry important distinctions. A right is a prerogative unconditionally belonging to a person. A privilege is a power belonging to one person, which is granted to another who would not ordinarily have such a power. For example, living in my house is my right, by virtue of my just acquisition of that property. For you, living in my house is a privilege as a guest, granted by me, subject to my good will and your good behavior. 

The Pattern: The exercise of activity X is positioned as a privilege granted by the king/government/society/the Elks club. As a privilege, its exercise is subject to conditions. 

Common Implementation Detail: Some sort of permission slip is considered necessary evidence of the grant of the privilege, the obtaining of which 

The Swindle: This swindle operates simultaneously on several levels. The essential core of it is theft by conversion, in that the primary authority to exercise a right is transferred from the individual who legitimately owns the right to some other entity who claims to be operating as an administrator of the right. A key secondary component is moral confusion regarding what the basis of just limitations on the exercise of a right actually are, as the practical administration of just limitations is the usual stalking horse used to smuggle the premise in, resulting in unjustified limitations of exercise. As to that, there will generally be a hue and cry that "No rights are absolute! There are always limitations! You can't yell 'Fire!' in a movie theater!" This is a clear indication that the person doesn't understand what they are talking about. While it is true that one's limit of the general right of free action stops when it comes to bringing unjustified harm to another party, this does not justify pre-emptive administrative rights by a third party, nor does it justify any other condition outside of that placed upon the exercise of a right. 

The Result:  The rights holder is ultimately transformed from a first class entity operating on its own moral authority to a second class entity supplicating some other source for permission to exercise its own rights.  In the context of humans practically alienated from their own inalienables, it is possible and inevitable to sneak in all manner of unjustified conditions and restrictions without effective objection,

Examples:  Driver's licenses, gun licenses, property purchase permits, passports, and the insidious doctrine of "implied consent", which deserves its own section. All of these activities, travel, owning and carrying the instrumentality of defense, owning property, and so forth are all expressions of fundamental rights. 

"Implied Consent": This is a perfect, pernicious example of smuggling in outrageous conditions. Most (all?) states have some formulation of this doctrine. The chain of logic basically purports that since driving on public roads is a state granted privilege, the state stipulates that by accepting this privilege, it is implied that you consent to invasive searches and sampling of your bodily gasses, fluids and tissues whenever the state deems that you may be operating your vehicle impaired. Should you refuses such invasive sampling, your "privilege" of driving will be revoked, whether you're impaired or not. 

Ethically Superior Remedy: A lot of people will immediately object: "What the hell is wrong with you? Do you WANT people to drive drunk, presenting a menace to the public?" Well, of course I don't. To the extent one authentically exposes the public to the strong likelihood of harm and placing people in jeopardy, one is legitimately acting outside of the scope of one's rights. When operating outside the scope of one's rights, one proportionally forfeits the expectation that one's own rights would be respected, and so it is eminently feasible to stop, inspect, and potentially arrest a driver who is jeopardizing members of the public. We already have ethical structures towards that end, with appropriate safeguards with which to achieve the same results that are pursued under fraudulent premise. 

This is true across the board: when one acts outside the scope of one's legitimate rights, a moral society constructs ethically valid means of pursuing the legitimate ends of assisting the individual in protecting their own rights. Fostering unethical means towards those goals promotes excess, theft of power, weak character in the populace, and creates endless opportunity for rent seeking, graft and corruption. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Michael Yon's latest mind dump: Hong Kong — echoes — Organizational Structure Dictates Outcome


I've followed Mike Yon for years. He's a very astute student of humans and their conflicts. 

Like many, he sees dark times ahead. His posts are worth reading for their insight, and his work is worth supporting. 

Hong Kong — echoes — Organizational Structure Dictates Outcome

In the top third of the piece, you can see that he is somewhat stung by the unfounded assertion that because he sees civil war coming, that this is what he wants. Mike Yon's seen enough civil war to know that it's not a good thing, and his cry of the heart is:

>>" I do not want these things to happen. I want to write books and live in peace." 

To which I replied in comments:

Me too. 

So very much this. 

But under what terms? That is the question: under what terms will you be left in peace? Our nation is largely comprised of three factions(1): two are antagonistic, operating under different, mutually exclusive ethical principles(2), and a third whose main principle is beer, BBQ, and sportsball. (Not that there's anything terribly wrong with that, I'm also a huge fan of such things.) 

One of these sets of principles was written down as the basis of our founding documents. The other is literally a foreign invader, a toxic philosophy intentionally weaponized.

Which of these paradigms will prevail in defining the terms under which you will be left in peace? And whichever prevails, what is the correct relationship of a free, autonomous human being to the dominant faction's power structure, no matter how just or unjust it may be?


(1) I discuss these three factions, and their relevance to current events here: 

(2) I discuss these principles in great detail in my book. In the West, the competing ethical principles split can be traced to John Locke vs Jean Jacques Rousseau. As my pen name indicates, I've picked a side. The split ultimately concerns one crucial question: who has the highest claim on your person, time, labor, and property? You? Or some aggregate collective entity characterized as society/nation/government/etc? If the topic interests you, I humbly offer this for your consideration:

Lecture Series: Things of Note #3

 This is the third entry in the lecture series "Things of Note". 

My long time friend and colleague-in-liberty Kevin Baker pulls a great many threads into focus:

Immanentize the Eschaton! 

If it weren't worth reading in its entirety, if would not be featured in Things of Note. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hardened, Resilient Apps

I am occasionally approached by our colleagues in liberty concerning what applications to use that are biased towards protecting our privacy and anonymity.  

I've got some credibility in that department, which is why people approach me. 

When I evaluate such privacy systems, I have four important, practical criteria I use as lenses to view the situation:

  • Does the system use correctly implemented, well vetted strong cryptography of a sort that is likely to fend off an adversary for years, if not decades and centuries?
    • Home brewed crypto is invariably flawed. 
    • Nothing is forever in crypto, eventually, everything falls to brute force. The telling question is how much computing power is available to your adversary, and how much of that is he likely to allocate towards cracking YOUR stuff?
    • Does your content ever appear in the clear on the far end, or anywhere else other than in your own possession or your designated recipient?
  • Are your keys created by you, and only ever available in the clear to you? 
    • Keys you didn't make, or which are held in the clear by others, and the content they encrypt is immediately considered to be compromised. 
  • Can your encrypted content be held defiantly, such that men show up with guns & writs to make off with servers and hard drives are nonetheless thwarted?
    • Most privacy policies are little more than formalized gentlemen's agreements not to share your stuff except with partners, until the men with guns and writs show up. Then they roll over rather than have their data center trashed. 
  • Does the system contain some method of validating the identity of the people you've designated as recipients of your content? How do you know that you're talking to a friend or foe, and not an impersonator or man in the middle?
It's often subtle, sometimes complicated stuff, and few systems check all the boxes. There are, however, some "best of breed" solutions, some of which are for regular users, some of which is for people of geekly persuasion:

Communications: Signal
Mail: Protonmail
Disk Encryption: Veracrypt picked up where TrueCrypt left off, or whatever your OS natively supports (Bitlocker, FileVault2, Linux's built in FDE, etc)
General Cryptography: GPG
Anonymity: Tor, Torbrowser, TAILS 
Geeky armored Operating Systems: Qubes
VM hosts, for disposable images: VirtualBox
Cloud Document Storage: Nextcloud 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Trillions and Trillions

 When I was a kid, "trillions" was such an unthinkably large number that no one, literally no one even used the word. Affable astronomer Carl Sagan, when describing cosmic distances, would resort to "billions and billions and billions" to describe the mind warpingly large numbers that pertained to the distances between stars and galaxies, only mentioning "trillions" on occasion as something so far beyond the realms as to be on the edge of numeric concept itself, the last measurable stop before "infinity".  

Then, all of a sudden, the word was used, normally in something of a panic by people dismissed as cranks: "There will be a TRILLION DOLLAR national debt if we're not careful!"  

A national debt, of course, being a complete thing accumulated across many years, and even generations of taxpayers. 

And shortly after the cranks were dismissed, the national debt crossed that trillion dollar mark.  A couple years after that, individual annual budgets started adding up to  a TRILLION DOLLARs.

Fast forward to 2021. Nearly multiple trillion dollar figures are now being casually tossed around as budget line items

Where is the clamor? Where is the call for fiscal sanity? 


This tells me things. One is that inflation, which I might mention is a intentional choice implemented by specific policy decisions that are fostered by fiat currencies, has taken a bite out of people's holdings.

The other is that people have become completely numb to large figures of money.

The deeply insidious thing, however, is that the people's relationship to their own property has become distorted and alienated.  The highly productive, taxpaying people of America have lost any sense that this is THEIR property being spent. 

And, of course, the less productive, non taxpaying people of America, which is something like 45% of the population have always had an entirely different, parasitic relationship to that property.

An alienated relationship to one's property is only possible if one has become alienated to one's own very life itself, for your property is the tangible result of your choice of actions, and use of intellect, body, and preciously finite life's time. 

Those TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS are actually not "backed by the full faith and credit of the US government".  They are underwritten by the VERY MINUTES OF YOUR LIVES SPENT ACQUIRING THEM. 

It is the VALUE YOU CREATE that is taken from you and auctioned off. 

You really ought to care. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

That is Not The Way.

... and then they came for the large, muscular pugilist women, but I said nothing, for I was neither large, nor muscular, nor a pugilist, nor a woman...

 (With apologies to Rev Martin Niemöller)

The fans of cancel culture have rejoiced in collecting the scalp of Cara Carano, largely by misconstruing her various statements. I'm not going to deconstruct or defend Ms. Carano, she's a big girl who can speak for and take care of herself, and appears to be adept at landing on her feet. 

“They can’t cancel us if we don’t let them,”

Quite right, and quite so. 

The fans of cancel culture have a clear message: be silent, or if you must speak, speak with so many explanatory curlicues and genuflections to their paradigm that one's message is irretrievable compromised and lost. 

The thing is, if you've alienated France, a country that until now hasn't met a Leftist ideology it didn't embrace, it's all over. Elvis has well and truly left the building. 

Go home, cancel culture fans. You're drunk. 

Cancel culture is, as professor Loury mentioned in the lecture referenced in Things of Note #2, "a bluff and a bludgeon", whose purpose is to sustain other progressivist constructs that would quickly fly to pieces of their own inconsistencies. 

Ultimately, cancel culture is about obtaining the submission and validation that they so desperately craved, but didn't get from prevailing in the election. (Note I did not say "winning" the election.) Why else, would they as the Blogfather points out through Tucker Carlson, they "'Won everything', why are they so 'crazy person mad'?" 

As my colleague-in-liberty the GeekWitha.45 opined in that thread:

"Occam's razor says: Their anger is because they know that despite having "won" an electoral feat, they didn't get what it was that they actually wanted. My estimation is that what they really wanted was universal cognitive capitulation and vindication of their world view.

They're simply pissed because the did not obtain the hearts and minds of their opposition, or destroy the incompatible, mutually exclusive axioms underpinning a worldview that opposes them.

That's what it's ultimately about: the complete destruction of competing world views, and if necessary, the people who hold them. Their fever dream of a "Blue Tsunami" sweeping away all the regressive deplorables didn't happen, and instead they find themselves opposed in even greater numbers than last time. 

They've prevailed in their election, they've collected their scalps, and still, it isn't working. 

This frighten them to the core. 

Some of them are going to realize that they're drunk and go home to reconsider whether going after people's families, relationships and livelihoods is consistent with The Way of the Free and Decent Human 

Others, however too deeply invested in the paradigm for any such reconsideration or reckoning, too drunk on the moral approval and social power it brings them to stop themselves. 

Frightened, angry people with political and social power are dangerous. 

Nonetheless, no one should be intimidated. The world has always been filled with people like that, but there have always been good and decent people to oppose them. 

Lecture Series: Things of Note #2

 This is the second entry in the lecture series "Things of Note". 

If you are a thoughtful observer and participant in our wildly gyrating society, you by now have come to understand that there are some things that are true, but nonetheless must never be spoken of. 

I present Professor Glenn Loury, who wishes to present his thoughts concerning the Unspeakable Truths about Racial Inequality in America to an audience of rational adults. 

That lecture is not to be taken lightly, for he wrote and delivered it at great risk to himself, knowing that his black skin was scant protection against the howling woke swarms and cancel mobs. 

Catalog of Frauds: Entry #1: "Structuring Rights as Privileges"

Engineers of various stripe often come up with cook books of patterns, which are more or less standardized solutions to familiar problems.  ...