01 January 2025

Where to get my books

Update 2021-12-23: Is there a next book planned?

Hope is not a plan; I hope there will be a next book, but between the Everything and my day job, I am not able to plan.  The manuscript is getting longer (if not very fast) and that's about all I know right now.

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. Apple is a Draft2Digital target if you're in the Apple ecosystem.

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
A Mist of Grit and Splinters (Commonweal #5) on Google Play via Books2Read


My current best understanding of how to download the EPUB file from Google Play.

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.)

25 June 2022

Agency contest

Today, food is extensively dependent on fossil carbon; the stylized fact puts it at ten to one by mass.  Every tonne of food required ten tonnes of fossil carbon as fertilizer and pesticide feedstock, in shipping the fertilizers, in powering the tractor, in making the tractor tyres, in shipping the food, and so on.  (Don't neglect food processing! A bag of raw wheat kernels isn't all that much like food.)

That's going to end.  How it ends is optional; that it does end is not optional.  

(Me, I note that there's this massive cash grab going on by oil companies.  They've had first-tier climate modelling since the eighties; I have this suspicion they're expecting Thwaites to go in the first half of this decade and they're not expecting oil transfer infrastructure or refining infrastructure at sea level to survive. It could be straight up political manipulation, too, but this feels more like cashing out.)

That this is going to end has made it into the public consciousness; food prices are driving inflation.

What does that do?

Politics is a contest about who gets the agency — who does what they want and who does what they're told, whose opinion matters, whose experience is heard — and only rarely is a political movement required to compare its beliefs to reality; having power means you can offload your insecurity on other people and make them deal with it.  (The trivial example is making your tenants pay for work-arounds to not fixing the building; electric space heaters, mopping up roof leaks, and so on.  The tenants don't have the agency to make the landlord fix it, so the landlord gets to transfer risks and costs to them, despite it notionally being the landlord's obligation to maintain the building.)

This is the end of an age; the Oil Empire comes to an end, the long Anglo Thalassocracy ends, the five thousand years of agricultural sedentism ends.  (You can only have agriculture if it rains in predictable amounts at predictable times. We're losing that, and no matter what we do now it gets worse for a century.  Never mind heat excursions and other issues.)

Which means that the political event horizon isn't five years; it's right now.

The thing to push for is not a return to any supposed status quo.  It's where you want to wind up.  (The end of an age is not a time to take a long view about current events.)

So not a resumption of mask mandates to mitigate COVID spread but real ongoing public health; double the training rate of doctors and triple the training rate of nurses, duplicate every hospital bed, indoor air filtering standards in the building code and backed up by the fire marshall, quantified policy (e.g. is Rt over 0.8?  EVERYBODY wears a respirator, no exceptions), and admission of responsibility for and financial support of PACS consequences.

Not a resumption of Roe (or re-opening a single abortion clinic in New Brunswick) but a national movement that you can't own people and specifically cannot own women, with everyone disagreeing being reduced to a condition of obedience by any expedient means.

Not an excess profits tax or a higher marginal rate on the rich but income and asset caps that abolish the concept of fuck-you money; everyone has the same political agency because everybody's got the same basic amount of lifespan.

Not income supports to offset inflation in food prices but a massive, every-nerve-and-sinew public program to decarbonize food production while replacing field agriculture.  (This is difficult, and urgent.  People have to eat every day.)

The people demanding no change because they've won and the people demanding to own women and the people demanding that someone tell them COVID isn't real are generally weak and incompetent; if they weren't, we wouldn't be in this mess and their views could stand democratic tests. (If they weren't, they'd be dealing with their mortality much better.)

Any expedient means time; the ideals of former days — equality before the law, consent of the governed, transparent public processes — have value, but the forms do not.  What matters is that we get something that works.

"Works" means nobody owns anybody and everybody has enough to eat all the way through the time of angry weather.  Everything after that is implementation.

20 June 2022

Not the best news

 It's a preprint.

Whether or not you are vaccinated, subsequent COVID infections add risk of harm, and the degree of risk increases with each subsequent infection.

The short, simple summary is not "COVID hurts you every time you get it" — quite factual, but insufficiently clear — but "Every time you are infected with COVID the way it harms you makes the next time more likely and worse."

No kind of population immunity is possible[1]. A strategy of accepting infection to build immunity is now known to be harmful, instead of just suspected to be harmful. There's a finite number of times you can catch COVID before it kills you; this number is not knowable ahead of time and might not have two digits.[2]

[1] Vaccine effectiveness is not where it started; currently it's a one third reduction in the risk of death at six months from infection — 1.3 % for the vaccinated instead of 2 % for the unvaccinated — and about a fifteen percent reduction in your PACS risk[4].  It's halving your infection risk on the current Ontario numbers, instead of the 90% reduction it started as.  Selection is not your friend.

[2] absent precautions[3], you can expect to catch COVID multiple times per year, and your immune system is less able to avoid infection each time you do.

[3] Use air filters, wear an elastomeric mask with P100 filters (and consider goggles), minimize contact with other humans, DO NOT treat "outside" as safe (there have been super-spreader events outside), and get stroppy about it.  Also recognize that the official numbers are generally highly questionable most places, with underreporting of COVID deaths and no reporting of life expectancy decreases.

[4] if you're under 60. Over sixty, no reduction.


28 May 2022

Try to solve the problem

Having people about their lawful occasions get shot is intolerable.

We're doing a poor job of dealing with it. (I mean Canada.  The US is actively not dealing with it.)

Right now, in Canada, "gun control" is understood to mean "this thing makes the RCMP nervous and they don't want you to have it".

That's a terrible basis for policy.

Right now, in the US, "gun control" is understood to mean "they're trying to abolish white supremacy and we're going to murder them if they try".

That's a terrible basis for policy, too, and the Canadian version is only just sorta a layer over the US version for Canadian purposes anyway. (Look at the response to the long gun registry; "how dare you say I'm bad?" as a wedge issue to mainstream white supremacy, and the wedge issue response worked, politically.)

The general case of the terrible basis for policy is "it's OK to murder people who upset you".  It's an essential component of white supremacy. (Look at how killing people with a car is viewed.  Guess where that set of "it's OK, mostly" beliefs leaked in from?)  (The general cultural drift as the money gets more and more nervous about experiencing consequences is "only cops are white".  That's highly suboptimal.)

"I should be able to murder people who upset me" is a belief.  You cannot fix a belief with legislation, and you surely cannot fix a belief quickly; changing beliefs is a long-term project.

The correspondingly unhelpful belief that somehow you can suppress firearms comes down to failing to notice that enough policing to suppress firearms ownership is inherently oppressive; structurally, it risks a recapitulation of drug policy as a mechanism of oppression.  (If we're finally having a collective rush of sense to the head about drug policy, the systems that exist to enact the current policies want to keep existing; they're going to look for another basis of oppression because oppression is profitable.)

What can you do?

Find a competing belief and "give it salt"; figure out what your measurable objective is, and pursue it; remember that rights isn't a stable construction, and obligations can be, if done with care.

Making it less abstract:

The competing belief is safety; modern sport shooting cultures are really big on safety practices.  There's a lot of people with self-image invested in being competent with firearms where competent includes being safe.

The measurable objective has three parts; people aren't getting shot, the police have less power, and the means of achieving this has a broad social consensus supporting it.

Any gun is an expensive wall hanging without ammunition.  The point is not "you can't own that", the point needs to be "you can't have sole control of that"; most especially, you can't have sole control of ammunition and a gun.

When should an individual have control of both the gun and the ammunition?  When they're on a range; when they're hunting; when they're sufficiently rural they might have to do their own animal control.  (Indigenous persons are presumably subject to their band or nation's policies.)  "Hunting" and "rural" involve small amounts of ammunition.

There's a gun club.  Gun club members have collective civil responsibility for each other's use of firearms, whenever and wherever.  You can buy ammunition through a gun club or through the ministry that issues hunting licences.  If you have ammunition in your home, that's limited in amount and applicability (for what you have in your home and only for what you have in your home).  If it's in your home, it's a long arm, and it's not self-loading.

At the gun club, nothing is in sole control until you're on the range.  But you can own anything; if you are sufficiently in to turning money into noise that you want to own an M2 Browning HMG, you can do that.  You just have to go through the club armorer to get the thing out of storage and you have to go through the club check in procedure to get on the premises and you have to go through a your-key-and-two-other-officers-of-the-club process to obtain ammunition.  (It can be your ammunition; you just can't have sole control of it.)

Transportation to and from ranges is between gun clubs; it's done by the gun clubs, it involves some kind of bonded courier, and individuals aren't involved.  

Transportation for hunting involves separate transportation of arms and ammunition; never the same vehicle.  (You're not going  hunting alone, are you?)

Transportation on purchase to your rural abode is by the same kind of delivery courier who would deliver to the gun club for both arms and ammunition.

All of this is logistics.  It's commercial regulations; there are commercial regulations for the transport of chemicals that are all of mutagenic, carcinogenic, teratogenic, corrosive, explosive, and hypergolic.  Commercial regulations can handle the logistics part just fine.

So the folks into shooting sports get something they want -- unrestricted small arms ownership -- in return for undertaking a collective obligation of safety.  They're already into safety.  That's the salt and the obligation.  It also turns firearms regulation into a matter of civil regulation in which the police aren't involved; expensive, but not a lethal risk.

The police get something they want -- an expectation that no one is carrying -- but they aren't responsible for firearms regulation; they're subject to it, and it's the same rules as the general population. (Making the police a special armed caste is intolerable to democracy.)  No armed police reduces the number of people getting shot, too.  (You wind up with a judicially-controlled military branch to do armed response on those occasions this might be required, and they are intensely not police.  They exist to deal with your rebellion against the Queen's peace. They're embedded in a budget that doesn't want to spend on them, which is important.)

If you're unable to convince a gun club they're safe with you on the range, you just can't have a firearm at all.  That's your obligation if you want to own a gun.  (If you're rural, you're going to have some logistical burden about this, but that's manageable.  So is the bureaucratic overhead of harmonizing all the safety standards and making sure there are safety standards.)

The core safety policy -- no sole control of a weapon and ammunition -- is what militaries the world over use. This is because it's the simplest thing that works.

Gun control would be a stupid thing to fight about, politically, when we need to be decarbonizing.  But it really does look like nigh-all of the proposals are trying for control, instead of success.

24 May 2022

Stay at home 🟨🟨

 The three things you need to know:

  1. the more long-distance travel there is, the more aggressive a pathogen can be and not go extinct by killing all the hosts it can reach what with being able to reach more hosts
  2. if you keep adding long-distance travel, there's an abrupt transition between extinction being unlikely and extinction being nigh-certain for the host population. We know this point exists but not how to identify it in the real world.
  3. if you think this doesn't apply to extractive economic behaviour as well as diseases, you need to contemplate the concept of "model" a little more.
Oh, and monkeypox?  Current doubling time is around a day and a half. In a disease with a long — two week — incubation period and a historically low transmissibility.  Tends to hint that many more people have it than know they have it.  It'd be useful to know what's going on.

Available facts as of a day or so ago.  Note particularly that the virus is durable, fomite transition is absolutely a thing, and hand washing doesn't kill it.  Alcohol does and dilute bleach does.

Also note that there is no way pox viruses do not spread and if you go look at the 19th century literature it takes completely seriously the idea that V. major could spread through the air.  Prudence would not limit concern to droplet transmission.

ETA: There's a Lancet paper on treating this variant of monkeypox in humans:
Prolonged upper respiratory tract viral DNA shedding after skin lesion resolution challenged current infection prevention and control guidance.

That is, the traditional-with-pox viruses guidance that after the lesions scab over and the scabs fall off you're not contagious anymore?  With this pox virus, that's wrong. Effective treatment involves at least a month of strict isolation of the patient, and we purely do not have the capacity to do that for very many people. 

21 May 2022

The difficulties of enough

Elsenet, Brad Delong is struggling with an elevator pitch for Slouching Toward Utopia.

(I am writing this at noon, and it is dark enough for the street lights to be on; storm front coming through and I can just barely see the red stop lights two hundred metres away. None of the buildings on that street are visible.)

I am sympathetic; my book summaries are notoriously unhelpful.  Still, I think most of the problem is that Brad has masterful knowledge of the how and a terrifically shaky grasp of the why.

The "how" is that starting in about 1870, human productive capacity became immense and that for the first time, everyone could have enough.  The "why" is that is not what happened; this is clearly not a utopia. Why not?

This is, alas, easy, but you have to have looked at systems theory and enough evolutionary biology that iterated survival starts to have emotional meaning as the underpinnings of all life.

When there isn't enough, the only way for you to have enough is to take it.

You can't do that by yourself; someone will murder you in your sleep if you try.

A group gets created; we have enough.  It is right and proper that we have enough, even if they are starving.

Taking makes the pie smaller; the fighting you have to do to take doesn't make anything but waste and corpses.  (Notoriously! oppressed populations are poor because there is no way not to be poor.  Hel's Teeth, look at Disney's Robin Hood movie from the days you could say such things aloud. Everyone knows this.)

What you want when there's enough is for everyone to have enough, and for everyone's safety to depend on collective action.  Personal authority, taking, and concentration all hurt far more people than they help.  You need to get rid of taking for everyone to have enough.

You cannot do this because the wealthy and powerful will not allow it; they are safe, and you want to make them less safe.  (They'd have to obey laws if they weren't as rich as they are.  They really would be less safe.)

That everyone else would be safer, that everyone would have enough, and that everything would get better do not matter. That we might not go extinct by replicating the End Permian does not matter. For thousands upon thousands of years, the way to be safe was to take.  The old ancestral wisdom says you never stop taking, and the rich and powerful are not about to stop now. (If you are them, it is working.  What they want, they have.)

Systems function to keep existing; to copy themselves into the future. That is the iron law of bureaucracy; it's also the iron law of status and of life.  If you don't copy yourself into the future, you and everything like you goes away.  If it's not there it doesn't matter.  Every system that exists now survives while surrounded by other systems that exist to take.  Everything exists on the basis that the only safety comes from taking.  (From people and from the earth, under various loot sharing agreements, but to take.)

No one with status and power will accept a reduction in their status and power.  (Which is why office holders in democracies inevitably start getting given money and position upon retirement.  It's easier; it does not offend the norms.) No one with status and power will accept that it is wrong to take.  Everything they know says it is right; they have taken, and it has given them all that they might desire.

We don't have utopia because we can't, not with this society, and the risk of trying might make the Thirty Years War look like a game of chequers.

The plague and the other plague and the starvation and the rising awareness that we really are trying to replicate the End Permian and that there isn't any time left to not suffer the consequences are going to result in attempts anyway.

It would help if the idea of collective action -- broad civil collectivism; a fellow citizen might not be your sibling but is your cousin -- was out there, rather than a question of who does the taking.

It would help if the acknowledgement that greed is a sin and cannot be made virtue was out there, too.  That there is no legitimate reason to seek wealth.  (General and collective prosperity, absolutely.  "Take more, for me"?  No.)

05 May 2022

No slaves

 The United States' progress towards naked theocracy has ratcheted up.

It seems the opposition doesn't understand what they're opposing; or at least, there isn't much in the way of evidence for it.

Somewhere, Fred Clark — Slacktivist — notes that the reason for abortion as a political issue was to recover the white evangelical position of moral superiority after they were publically and discreditably on the wrong side of civil rights.

I would call that well-supported as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.

Politics is about power: the ability to compel others to abide your will.

The moral authority was just authority; the power to say what is normal. (And if you aren't normal, you had better start; if you don't, you get hurt until you either become normal or die.)

The present political problem — the inability to do what needs doing because the right refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of facts — arises because of an alliance between factions who want to own women, factions who want to own workers, and factions who want to own those people.  (Factions which, de facto, generally do own women, workers, or those people.  But not enough; society doesn't thank them for it, not directly enough.  The void still yawns.)

That's the problem.  Almost everything else — including the probable Alito decision from the US Supreme Court — is a symptom.

One of the symptoms is a belief in morals; morals don't scale.  Morals are personal, a matter of taste and history and aesthetics.  (The parallels to social conformity in dress are strong.)  You can't make effective policy out of morals and you certainly aren't going to make an effective insurrection out of morals. (Whatever you would like history to say.)

The best don't lack conviction; the best lack an awareness that the system got built, is indeed built every day, and can be built different.  They're trying to be good.  The slavers want to own people; then they'll call it good.

Do not teach your children to be good; teach them to be effective.