One of the benefits of living in a security-state aka mass surveillance state or Big Brother State is that one is constantly under the threat of being put under the microscope and dissected. Benefit? Nope. For those who love freedom, mass surveillance is a cancerous evil that should be resisted.
I came across a May 2015 article You’re a Criminal in a Mass Surveillance World – How to Not Get Caught by David Montgomery. It’s immensely long. But its length is absolutely required to get across the important issues it deals with — how to live in a society where mass surveillance is the norm. I am extracting a bit from that article. A small step toward freedom from Big Brother is to get a secure email channel. Here’s how. Continue reading →
Leadership is endogenous to the system which selects them. Leaders emerge from within the system and gain legitimacy through the acceptance of the people within the system. Thus there are two components: the people and the system. Both are causally related to some extent but can be considered separate for analysis.
Bad leadership cannot emerge out of a good system with good people in it. Conversely, good leadership cannot emerge from a bad system and bad people.
That leaves two other scenarios: good people, bad system; and bad people, good system. My conjecture is that in both of those, bad leadership is very likely to happen. Continue reading →
The lack of basic competence among those who hold political power is very likely one of the primary reasons that some nations suffer needless poverty. The recent cabinet reshuffle (is it a deck of cards in a game of chance that it needs periodic reshuffling, I wonder) in the Modi government prompted this line of thought.
Aug 15th holds special significance for me. It was on a 15th August that I landed in the US so many years ago. The day is also a friend’s birthday. This year’s August 15th has seen two new things: first time I am in South Dakota and first time I crossed the North American continental divide by road.
If you are wondering where yours truly is, I am on the road. Last week Thursday, I left San Jose CA and visited Courtenay and her family in Oakland CA, the first stop on my journey. Friday evening we all drove to Grass Valley CA, about 140 miles to the north. We were visiting Saundrine and her family. .
The next part of the journey was from Grass Valley CA to Salt Lake City UT on Saturday. I had driven that road some years ago for visiting the Yellowstone National Park. It was past 10 PM when I reached SLC. Continue reading →
The other day I learned that David Sedaris, one of my favorite American essayist and public speaker, does a very peculiar thing. These days he lives in England, which is not particularly peculiar. His peculiarity is that every day he spends five or six hours picking up trash along the roads around his home.
Why does he do that? Because, he says, he just likes doing it. He does not do it for some greater good or public service, according to him. Does it make him a public-minded person? Not necessarily. Doubtless, his actions result in a cleaner road than otherwise, but his motivation is not to do good — he merely does what gives him personal satisfaction and which does not harm anybody.
I believe (perhaps mistakenly) that people who are primarily motivated by doing “good” for others often see themselves as morally superior to those who let others alone. If you like to pick up trash, good for you but slipping into the role of a person who is selfless tarnishes the enterprise. Worse, it can persuade the person that he has the moral authority to force others to do one’s bidding. Continue reading →
A long time ago, maybe a thousand years ago but certainly a little over a hundred years ago, Bengal was remarkably prosperous. Something happened that led to its transformation from past prosperity to present destitution. What was it? A natural disaster, meaning something that was not humanly caused but something had natural causes? Or was it something that humans brought about by choice?
Let’s be very clear about one feature of this universe we inhabit. That is, nothing stays the same. Ceaseless change is unavoidable. The great, the seemingly invincible invariably decline and are replaced. The Buddhist call it anicca — impermanence. If you expect a changeless world, you are guaranteed to be disappointed.
One of the more distinctive features of the universe is that it is unequal. It is unequal in the sense that it is not one mass of undifferentiated goo. It has differentiated features, starting with the distinction between inanimate and animate matter. A lump of coal is quite distinct from a squirrel even though at the most basic level, both are collections of atoms, each atom a composite of protons, neutrons and electrons–which reduces to two types of quarks and electrons.
In this essary I consider the matter of inequality and what it implies about the human condition and what therefore are its normative implications.
What’s technology? I define technology broadly as “know how” — the knowledge of how to do something. The products of the technology have “know how” embodied in them. Every human artifact and process of production is, in that sense, a technology product. How to convert ore into metal, how to communicate using writing, how to transmit information using wires, or wirelessly, how to build a transistor, how to put 21 billion transistors on a tiny silicon chip, how to build a commercial jetliner starting from materials that are provided by nature, … ad infinitum.Continue reading →