01 January 2025

Where to get my books

There are two options; Google Play, or the Draft2Digital publication targets. Google Play isn't available globally (though they intend to be, based on how the publisher interface sets up billing regions!). So you might need to try one of the Draft2Digital targets. Kobo seems to be a good fallback choice for availability though not for avoiding DRM.

Title Google Books2Read
The Human Dress on Google Play via Books2Read
The March North (Commonweal #1) on Google Play via Books2Read
A Succession of Bad Days (Commonweal #2) on Google Play via Books2Read
Safely You Deliver (Commonweal #3) on Google Play via Books2Read
Under One Banner (Commonweal #4) on Google Play via Books2Read

Commonweal Book #5, A Mist of Grit and Splinters, is expected to escape into the wild sometime in 2019.

Update 2019-01-29:  Amazon changed their agreement with Draft2Digital to require a whole lot of information transfer to Amazon.  I have removed The Human Dress from sale at Amazon. Still up everywhere else it was available.  (And has been added to a bunch of library services.)

23 June 2019

This Ravelry thing

Ravelry has banned pro-Trump anything on the grounds that the Trump administration are white supremacists.  Various people are declaiming that this is an obvious failure of tolerance.

Just in case someone is suffering from a sincere confusion on this point; an expectation of tolerance on your part -- you expect to be tolerated -- required the exercise of tolerance on your part.  You have to extend to others the tolerance you expect to receive.

White supremacists definitionally don't do that.  As an ideology, it's about imposing a strict hierarchy, enforced with violence.  ("I might not murder you this time" is not tolerance.)

There's a much longer description about acting to constrain other's choices and how the material goal of justice is to expand the scope of just treatment to all people, but it really isn't necessary.  An expectation of tolerance is isomorphic to an agreement that you're not special.  Anything with "supremacist" in it fails that agreement.

21 June 2019

Death cults, self-image, and goodness


has in other places people making remarks to the effect of "the Right has become a death cult".

Of course the right has become a death cult.

It's the only way they can think of themselves as good people.

This is why you don't think of yourself as good.  This is why you try to avoid good and bad as labels; think about the material consequences directly, because good and bad elide all sorts of stuff into what you got taught before you were five.  In a stable benevolent period, that could perhaps be responsible, but in the times we live in, it's not responsible whatsoever.  Everything will change and there will be both great trouble and no status quo for centuries.

As far as the right is concerned, if they look at material consequences -- we're headed at something between the Eocene Thermal Maximum and the End Permian nine-tenths-of-all-life extinction -- they've been advancing unwise policies by not-especially-licit means for forty critical years, from 1980 to the present.  It turns out greed is still a sin, value cannot be measured with money, and that wealth is not virtue.  If those facts are accorded the status of facts -- things incontrovertibly of the material world, independent of belief or unbelief both together -- then it's impossible for the people whose policies created the disaster to be good.  (It calls into question the utility of any moral frame as a basis for decision.)

If they're not good, they get to have a severe existential crisis; it doesn't even need to be a religious existential crisis.

As it gets more and more difficult to keep from noticing that, nope, not good; it has to be from the viewpoint of hypothetical insect survivors in a million years to even suppose this could be good, the bad insecurity management -- which is always about trying to disdain facts in some way or another -- gets more and more violent because primates.  The larger the pile of skulls, the greater the vehemence and conviction.  Maybe they just have to bring about the End Times, there's a theology for that.

This can work on fellow primates; the wetware doesn't distinguish correctness and conviction. 

It doesn't work on the rain.

16 June 2019


People in general cannot stand an uncertain future.

If you have no power, you invent rituals and do what you can to create a belief that it will all work out somehow.

If you have power, you use that power to create the closest approximation of a certain future you can get.  This is where the organization of society around making wealth generationally persistent comes from; wealth is the tool to produce a status quo and through that status quo a predictable future.

Today, no certain future is possible.  We don't know what the climate is going to do; any honest person is going to tell you that it depends a lot on what we do for the next year, the next five years, the next ten, but also that we're in a future of large error bars somewhere between the Eocene Thermal Maximum and the End Permian.  (That's between "a third of ocean life" and "ninety-odd percent of ocean life" going extinct.)

This is intolerable; people deal with it generally by insisting it isn't happening.  But it obviously is happening, and the conflict between what is endurable and what is factual is destroying the mechanisms of government.

The fix is to create belief in a plausible reliable future.  There is a plausible reliable future, if we can manage to both remove the tiny number of extremely rich people blocking access to it in favour of the doomed status quo and to all work hard to enact it.

The first critical step is to require elected representatives to publicly agree that they will indeed destroy the status quo in favour of the reliable future.

04 June 2019

Capitalism destroys value

I've said this before, but it's been awhile and @GreatDismal had a short thread reminding me of it.

Value is the ratio between benefit and cost.  It's contextual; five hundred dollar shoes that let you walk without pain (unlike all those other shoes) are great value.  Maybe not for someone else, but for you.

In general, if a business is trying to deliver value, they're competing to sell you something that gives you greater benefit per unit cost.  A value-delivering business needs to be making a profit -- they want to stay in business, and using profit as a measure of value-add if you're not making a profit there's no general agreement that you're adding value -- but must not be, cannot be, motivated by profit.

A profit-maximizing business -- the point is to make as much money as possible -- has to do at least one of reduce the benefit or increase the cost.  That is, they deliver less at a particular price (increasing their profit margin) or charge more for the same delivery (increasing their profit margin). 

Once you accept profit maximization as a legitimate objective, this is systemic; intent doesn't much enter into it.  As a result, you get people lamenting that it's no longer possible to buy a new-made pair of pants of the quality that was generally available in 1980.  The drive for maximized profit -- capitalism -- has destroyed the ability within human civilization.  (This is far from the only example!)

Think of profit-maximization as a virtue is analogous to a fungal parasite, slowly pulling all the nutrients out of its living host organism.   It's not markets, it's not exchange; it's about the destruction of value to capture a greater share of the money.  (Money which is useless after the inevitable collapse.)

Greed remains a sin.

31 May 2019

Carbon taxes

So both Ontario specifically and Canada generally are having a political controversy over carbon taxes.

I think this is unfortunate, as I do not personally support carbon taxes.

Carbon taxes -- emissions taxes generally! -- would have been an excellent policy in 1980 and a useful policy in 1990.  Today, it's utterly pointless; it assumes there's lots of time for a nice slow status-quo affirming industrial pivot of some kind to using fewer fossil carbon inputs.

That's not the situation we're in.  The situation we're in is that we need to zero out fossil carbon inputs and thus fossil carbon extraction by 2025.  (Well; 2000.  Earlier would have been better.) But 2025 is worth it for limiting-the-damage purposes.  The appropriate policy now is carbon rationing along that decreasing schedule to zero, backed up with whatever level of force is required to enforce compliance.

Yes, that has to go along with "decarbonize agriculture" and "decarbonize core transport" and a few other things.  The point is that we the emergency is now, we cannot avoid it, we don't have the option of not experiencing it, and the certainty of having a sufficient response is not a thing we can get.  Faffing around as though the status quo is durable or desirable isn't helpful in any way, in that sense any talk of carbon taxes is pure political kabuki.  What we need is a full industrial mobilization, tax rates set at "whatever it takes", and a very public approach to meeting the "decarbonize agriculture" and "cease fossil carbon use" by 2025 goals.


Anybody remember 2012?  Beef got cheap.

One edge of what we're looking at with the American maize crop not getting planted is chicken getting cheap.

If you're a scientist speaking in a scientific capacity, you're constrained in your language.  Most people don't know how to read it; it's a skill they've never had cause to develop.

I'm not a scientist.  I don't have the obligation of constraint and I'm not trying to get anything through a committee nervous about political responses.

Irrespective of what happens in this year of the Common Era two thousand and nineteen, industrial agriculture is going to break hard and forever by 2030.  This is a combination of dependency on fossil carbon, mass use of bioaccumulating toxins (agriculture that kills all the pollinators is not functioning agriculture!), and needing to know when it's going to rain.

Is this year the year?

Maybe not.

Thing is, the climate is going to get worse for the next couple centuries; the whole truly foreseeable future is the climate getting worse.  It will do that if all use of fossil carbon stopped tomorrow by miraculous means.  It's plausible that the Arctic Amplification feedback tipped in 2005 or so and we're going to get 8 C of warming by 2100.  It's not impossible that we're going to get thereabout of 12 C when all is said and done and the feedbacks have unwound.  It's quite likely that the notion of a temperate zone in the climate is going to go away; whether you want to think of this as Arctic and Not Arctic or Tropical and Not Tropical is much of a muchness.  That means a couple of things; the most important is that absolutely no one knows where it's going to rain how much at a level of detail useful for farming.

(Some of the others are that the direction the weather comes from is likely to change, and over the next little while -- one human lifetime -- lots of places become uninhabitable.  Which is irrelevant; the relevant thing is the first time it goes over 35 C wet-bulb and even the hale and robust and well-hydrated people die.)

What can you do about it?

Bloody revolution is an annoying distraction.  General strikes lack sufficient population buy-in and the brain mangling via media is too effective to expect to change that in a useful time frame.  (The useful time frame was back in about 1980.)

No place in the Northern Hemisphere below 45 North is all that likely to stay habitable; it might, especially at higher altitudes, but it might not, too.  And if it does it might be dryer than a dry dry thing most of the time and food is mostly water.  Plus we're not likely to see the survival of the industrial nation-state able to support major overland transport; bootstrapping one where you've had a credit system and thus a fuel supply collapse, for example, isn't going to be a "everything fine in five years problem", because that'll be the second hard blow to the head of food security.  Any shipping is likely to be by water, and it's likely to be small-scale, slow, and never cross the equator.

So what you could do is to get far enough north somewhere currently wet (and thus likely-ish to stay wet) and vaguely coastal and see about growing food by one of the labour-intensive, high-yield-per-area robust approaches.  Any non-fossil-carbon tech base you can install is likely good; don't forget that you need some kind of sewage handling just after you need food, because sewage handling is what lets you have neighbours in a social way and you need neighbours.

(To tangent on to a go-bag thread; toenail clippers.   You're considering to walk indefinitely off yonder and you haven't got toenail clippers?  Unless you're skilled and flexible enough to trim yours with a knife, this is a bad plan.)

Have we got the whole ten years?

I kinda doubt it.