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
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.)

14 January 2020

Does right action arise from them, or you?

That's it.  That's the whole thing.

If right action arises from them, you need a taxonomy.  A taxonomy can't be correct.  So as soon as you need a taxonomy you need a mechanism of enforcement.  If you set limits on the mechanism of enforcement, you set limits on the security and the power of the folks who define the taxonomy.  They're competing with each other; limits of authority, limits on what the mechanism of authority does, are removed.

(You can sometimes get limits through conflict between mechanisms of legitimization for the exercise of force, but mostly you get what we have; an arbitrary prescriptive norm forcibly established as the basis of authoritarian social norms.  And it has a strong feedback mechanism to keep it going in as much as "too different" increases general insecurity more than most things, because most things don't get you beaten as a child and told you deserved it.)

If right action arises from you, well.  You have an idea of how you ought to behave; you don't need a taxonomy.  (You might have one, but you don't need one.)

The trick is to figure out how to do that so the (much larger) arises-from-them side doesn't kill you for it.

31 December 2019

Committing book a little late

Yes, it's the last day of 2019.  No, I didn't quite make it, schedule-wise.

Release date for Commonweal #5, A Mist of Grit and Splinters, is Friday, 17 January, 2020

Book cover for Comonweal #5, A Mist of Grit and Splinters

Egalitarian heroic fantasy. The first Creek standard-captain known to history, certain curious facts concerning the graul people, and an operational test of the Line's altered doctrine.

Google Play

Books2Read (Kobo, Apple, and the other Draft2Digital targets)

Pre-order is live now on Google Play; it should start going live for Kobo, Apple, and the other Draft2Digital targets under that Books2Read link over the next several days/first week of 2020.

28 December 2019

This is what I get for wanting to wait to post a book announcement

There's various comments flying around about "Russia has a hypersonic missile" and so on, and it makes me kinda tear my hair.

Putin is a product of late Soviet strategic thinking, which is fundamentally defensive.  (A country that gets invaded a lot tends to think that way.)

The issue of being surrounded with missile defenses and not able to maintain MAD is absolutely critical, because Putin knows what happens then, and it's the 90s, from which Russia hasn't (and likely never shall) recover.  US missiles in Ukraine are too close to defend against.  Same with Finland, the Baltics, the whole old Soviet periphery is too close to Moscow.  Anything based there is too close to recognize and stop in time.  So priority zero is restoring MAD.

Putin's core -- and, really, only -- strategic problem is "who has enough nukes to destroy Russia?" 

Israel doesn't, quite.  (Hurt, badly, yes; meet the old Cold War criteria for "could destroy", no, especially as all of Israel is one bomb wide and two bombs long.)

France does.

The UK does.

China does.

The US does.

Putin does not give the proverbial rodent hindquarters about opposing democracy, manipulating the economy, or any other such thing.  Putin cares about removing the ability to nuke Russia.  Once that problem is solved -- and ONLY once that problem is solved -- does he have the strategic freedom to address his periphery, his cash flow issues, and the migration problem out of Central Asia.

So; Brexit has nothing to do with destabilizing the EU.  It has to do with getting the UK's nuclear arsenal under proxy control.  Same with Trump.  (Damaging the US' world standing is nice, but it's not necessary.  Getting the nukes under proxy control is necessary.)

China?  China's completely doomed by climate change, isn't inclined to pick fights, is going to have the same Central Asia migration problem, and may not have as many nukes as they say they do.  China is not in an aggressive posture; China is in a resource panic. Putin's perfectly capable of looking at where those graphs cross and not worrying about China.

France?  Well, France is next.  We can see France being next; asymmetric information warfare is something to which the French have a lot of vulnerability.  It's still not about the EU; it's about getting a hard-right satrap in place who will guarantee the Force de Frappe won't be used on Russia.

27 November 2019

Over on twitter

Nick Harkaway writes:
Why is it not enough to believe in the project? Why this desire that we all accept the virtue of the man?  It is freaking the shit out of me tonight. For the first time, really.

If you -- generic you -- stop using the rhetoric of individual salvation and the expectation of saviours and, really, when you get right down to it, the notion that morality is a useful response to a political problem, you're faced with two horrible prospects; it would work ever so much better to go all quantified and materialistic and co-operative, and it means everything you believe about yourself is wrong. All that constructed context of goodness and worth is just complete and utter froth without any material basis whatsoever.

Sometimes this happens in adolescence; sometimes it never happens. Authoritarians don't like the idea of it, never mind the actuality, because authoritarianisms do not withstand quantified analysis. Tories of various labels hate it because they don't want you to resist effectively.

What's actually happening in UK politics is that the machinery of capitalism requires a source of loot. Having exhausted many traditional sources, with a surprising variety of traditional sources now able to defend themselves, and with functional control of the Oil Empire passing into the hands of those with no traditional reverence for the Anglosphere, the UK gets viewed as a source of loot. The post-imperial hangover makes this too difficult to believe, providing both useful idiots and a sort of disbelieving paralysis preventing appropriate political responses, so the UK is effectively an undefended mass of loot.

It's far more about "is looting and piracy the right way to get rich?" than it is about Europe, and if you want to look at the whole thing as the judgements of the lord being righteous altogether it wouldn't be difficult. (It wouldn't be useful, but it wouldn't be difficult.)

14 November 2019

Stray thoughts

One of the things that distresses me about Anglosphere politics generally and Canadian politics specifically and Ontario politics even more specifically; there's nothing even starting to resemble reasonable climate policy.

I had a thought about that; any proposal collapses under the weight of complexity, how do you fairly compensate, wait, how do you define fair, wait, don't people have a right to? and nothing sensible gets articulated.

Some of that's the natural human tendency to want to believe in someone else's fault; some of that's certainly propaganda.  But most of it is looking at the whole thing from the wrong perspective; the realm of optional things, of compromise, of competing desires, of choices.  That it's fundamentally a political question.

It isn't; we're in the realm of necessity.  Looked at that way, it's not even "if you're a grown up, and you realize there's a leak in the roof, do you cancel your planned vacation and put the money into roof repairs?"  It's the much simpler "do you want to die of something other than starvation?"

That's it.  That's the whole thing.  At the individual, personal, human scale, that's climate change policy.

Do you want to die of something other than starvation?

27 October 2019

Infinite village

Humans have a limited ability to maintain social connections; it seems to be about a hundred and fifty people in the abstract (Dunbar's Number) but being authoritarian -- defining and enforcing strict social roles, so you don't need to think much about your relationship with other people -- can make it easier to get the group size up, toward the cognitive limit.

Other people have since produced different estimates; various other people are pretty sure paleolithic human groups were nutritionally limited before they were cognitively limited.  You need agriculture to get the social grouping size large enough to run into the cognitive limits on band sizes.

So it's a cool factoid.  What makes it interesting in context is that you can look just a little more into Dunbar's work and find out that the cost got quantified in terms of social grooming time.  Maybe not literally removing bugs, but spending time maintaining the social connection. For the maxed-out group size, you get to about two-fifths of all your time being spent on (the technical sense of) grooming behaviours.

Social media is a social grooming amplifier; it creates a belief in connection.

It doesn't create the actual connection, or empathy, or any kind of detailed knowledge, but it does create a belief in group membership, emotional group connection, and a common narrative label for events.  Which means being in control of a social media platform gives you a ridiculous amount of power; you get to pick the questions.  (Maybe not the answers, strictly, but picking the questions is more than enough.)