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.)

16 September 2020

Pandemics and public authority

 Civil authority exists so those entrusted with public office -- elected or otherwise, the auditor general or the chief medical officer or an appointed judge hold public office just as much as the premier does -- can at need exercise it for the preservation of the public welfare.

So when Fort Mac is like to burn, or there's a flood around Winnipeg, the exercise of civil authority is not -- and should not be! -- "you might wish to consider evacuating"; it's "Out, now."  And the authority suffices to have you removed involuntarily.

This applies to public authority in the context of a pandemic.  We can look around at where the control measures have worked with COVID-19, and where the control measures haven't -- Ontario is a strong "haven't" -- and note this difference; everywhere the pandemic control measures have worked have a positive construction of civil authority.  Some states are straight up authoritarian -- Vietnam -- and some are open democracies -- New Zealand -- and there are a whole bunch in between (Singapore somewhere in the middle) but they've got this common element of a general legitimacy of the idea of exercising civil authority for the general public good.

So the worrying thing is not, in its way, that a whole bunch of people are going to suffer needless harm; it's that the political mechanisms to confer and use civil authority to the degree necessary to avoid general harm are busted.  (This is apparently irrespective of political party inside Canada; it's not a uniquely conservative failing.)  I'd put this down to the slow mammonite radicalisation of the last couple generations; the only legitimate purpose of government is to not tax the rich.  (Yes, I know that sentence makes no sense.  Take it up with the mammonites.)

Going further into the century of angry weather with no exercisable construction of civil authority sufficient to avoid general harm is a distressing prospect.  Everyone individual dies, and I have no expectation of surviving the first big failure of agriculture, there's too much I can't eat. That's, well, it's a lapse of civilisation when people start dying of starvation.  Lapse is not end, and no functioning construction of civil authority is end.

It don't leave me feeling hopeful.

(Ontario is a "strong haven't" because we're getting a second wave and because the current policy overtly and consciously includes killing and maiming teachers and school children in preference to taking the (obvious, simple, known) steps necessary to extirpate the disease.  The purpose of the system is what it does; that this goes on the same pile as the customary ~10,000 annual excess deaths from air pollution doesn't render it excusable or palatable.)

13 September 2020

The Best Fencer Problem

The line goes that the Best Fencer in the World is not worried about the second best; they're worried about the worst, because they cannot predict what the idiot will do.

Lots of people are getting a certain distance into the UK government's pro-hard-Brexit stance, and how this is playing out in ways that are going to force the EU to economically isolate Northern Ireland in ways the UK government can then use as domestic "blame the EU" exculpation for the economic disaster of a hard Brexit. (And how this is really rash in a good-governance sense and how it's obviously unlawful and so on.)

People doing this analysis tend to be careful, professional, and knowledgeable; something of a handicap when examining mammonite intentions.  (Remember that the whole point of mammonism is to make a counterfactual a god. It's not sensible stuff, and it's not followed by sensible people.)

What they're after, what the whole "new global trade", etc. is all about, is going after the legitimacy of national borders with respect to trade.

From people who are completely about national borders with respect to the movement of people this seems odd, but remember they've already done this about capital; barriers to entry (or exit) for capital existed in living memory, and the free movement of capital is a problem (if the capital can move freely and the people can't, you've got a system for producing at best serfdom).  But free movement of capital is not enough of a problem if you're a mammonite; the goal of mammonism is to have all the money, and you can't do that if there's a government with the power to tax.  So the government has to go, and part of the incremental project of removing the government is to remove the legal framework for having customs and border controls for goods and services. It's quite likely the plan is to declare that the UK has no customs and border controls, won't create any, won't perform any, and will do nothing except check for legality of residence (which if you don't have, they'll murder you).

This presents something of a problem for the EU.  (Putin wants to get rid of the EU, remember, and is a significant shareholder in the the UK's Mammonism, LLC rebrand of the Conservative and Unionist Party.  This is not solely about a fire-sale looting spree.)  Making the UK implement customs checks requires straight-up conquest; impractical against a nuclear power and permanent security council member.  Insurance blockade, well, difficult; lots of ongoing and annoying enforcement costs.  (Starting with the resulting general starvation in the UK, which will neither affect the the people in power nor look good to the EU's membership.)

There will be US-sourced hulls available to transport UK goods; lots of American mammonites with shipping companies.  The short-term cost-optimal thing is to just not bother with customs checks yourself, but that's equivalent to surrendering the European project, so you have to eat the increased cost and commercial drag, which only gets worse as Trump's second term involves declaring a duties-customs-and-fees holiday for everyone except China.

(Which holiday also bans trade with anyone who doesn't reciprocate.)

16 August 2020

Strategic focus

 Well, first off, simple.

Second off, material results.

I have gone on and on and on at other times about scale of feelings (appropriately personal, not policy), how it's a system with feedback, how the objective has to be cohesive (every action is constrained to not make any part of the objective worse off [1]), and the impossibility of retaining the status quo amid these several apocalypses.  None of that seems to convey much, so I'm going to try a different idea.

If you're responsive, you lose.  Responsive protest is an agreement to get shipped to the incinerator.

If you make the other party react to you, you might win; you might be able to constrain the outcome to one that you actually want, as distinct from slowing the rate at which bad things happen to you.

So!

Observation 1; the GOP has gone full mammonite.  There is only one rule; that rule can be expressed as "I always win" or "I get all the money" but it's the same rule.  It's a very, very simple rule, and thus a huge advantage in sub-generational scales.  (It will totally break the economy, but if you've got a seat when the big game of musical chairs stops, you might prefer that.  No more threatening innovation that could diminish your status.)

Observation 2; if you're trying to follow a different, complex set of rules, you're going to lose.  It's exactly like trying to negotiate with a toddler.  It can't work; the capacity for negotiation is not present in the other party.  You may express the rules to a two year old in better or worse ways, but the rules are the rules; the point of the rules is to get to some place in later years where you can negotiate with the entire person who has slowly accreted around the toddler.  But when they're two, there's nobody there capable of negotiation.  Same with a convinced mammonite.  There isn't enough complexity in their system to negotiate anything but prices.

Observation 3; wait, isn't that dehumanising?

No.  That's recognising that their political point is to remove everybody who isn't them from political life.  "I always win" is the position of profound weakness, because it's acknowledging that if they have to compete fair they're going to lose.  They act like it; you can't sensibly pretend that's not what they're doing while they're doing it.

"What future?" is a terrifying question.  "What future?" _starts_ at "the coastal cities are going to drown" and "agriculture breaks" if you have any will to facts in you whatsoever.  The next century defines all human history, by either ending it or not ending it, and we didn't need to do this to ourselves.  Mammonites did this for their immediate profit.


It's still the question; what future?

The GOP answer, the mammonite answer, to that question says anyone who isn't rich can suffer and die; they shall have luxury, and they shall have no accountability to anyone, because they always win.  Bronze Age collapse pirate band, smutting the throne-room frescoes with the sputtering grease of stolen mutton.


Other answers?

You're not special.

Everyone or no one.

Profit's a legitimate measure; it's an illegitimate goal.


That means, well, ethnogenesis; time not merely to stop being white but to be something else entirely. Can't stop being easily sunburned but long past time to acknowledge that "we're better and smarter so we can steal everything" has ended in failure. The Anthropocene is a vast disaster; it was in no way required, it was a choice, and it was a white supremacy choice as much as it was a mammonite choice. It's a failure so vast that it will certainly produce at least this much change; mere ethnogenesis would be limiting the damage.

That means, find the people who have emerged from the chiefly disadvantaged and put them in charge, armoured brigades, launch codes, power to tax, power to execute, in charge.  You only get a generation before the answer changes and the answer OUGHT to change to "we don't have that group anymore", but today the answer in the US is black women.

(Indigenous women in Canada.)

Scary?  Sure.  Your feels do not matter even a little; this is a survival situation on the scale of policy.  How you feel about it is a vast quantity of no never-mind.

Everyone or no one, well, we're not in a good place with a lot of stuff.  Agriculture collapses this century, even if you go by the IPCC's optimistic projections.  But let's start with collective action, the collapse of legitimacy, and the collapse of the idea of the rule of law.

"Rule of law" needs replacing; it's pretty much entirely crippled as an advocacy by the carceral state, whose advocates -- slavers and torturers -- have called that the rule of law.

Let's go for _uniform justice_, a system constructed so that your social standing is carefully, thoroughly, entirely removed from questions of law.  Let's start _that_ by recognising that it needs to be created by collective action in a context where the slavers and the torturers are going full authoritarian and getting set to wholesale murder anyone who says they're bad people.

The choices here are do whatever suffices to get them to stop -- to reduce them to a condition of obedience to the public authority -- or to go to the incinerator.  There's no middle ground in the structure of the politics or the present time of angry weather.

So the goal of collective action isn't protest; it's victory.  Make double-damned sure that it's a materially defined -- for reals, not as a rationalising cheat -- systemic victory.  (The French Revolution failed hard by not changing institutions, just who happened to control them.)

That last one?  The naked mammonite heresy about how the profit motive is destructive?  that's factual; it's NOT just that lots of things ought not to be done a for-profit basis at all (because no single entity's optimal corresponds to systemic optimal, or even encourages it), it's that making profit a goal destroys value.  (Value is the ratio of benefit to cost; if you're trying to increase profit, you have to reduce the benefit or increase the cost.)  This is entirely the wrong time to be destroying value, though the systemic cost is always eventually crippling if you permit the feedback.

It's also a hint; there is one and only one meaningful feedback to mammonites, and that's "how much money do I have?"; costing them money isn't really effective (they'll come up with reasons to suppose they will turn the situation to advantage and make more money), but making them poor is.  Structurally, systemically, permanently poor; last in every line and dependent on the kindness of strangers to get out of the rain.


[1] in former days one might encounter keep-the-good conservative Americans who would espouse the four-box theory of political involvement to maintain liberty.  The boxes are soap, ballot, jury, and cartridge, with a big USE IN THAT ORDER warning sticker.  Any time you attempt to act collectively, you had better make sure the collective's all at the same general place on the box continuum.

14 August 2020

Consider some strategic focus

The point to take from the current dismantling of the USPS is not that mail-in votes will be suppressed; the point to take is that the GOP incumbents will not permit an election result which causes them to lose power. 

That's the problem; it's not a question of logistically enabling people to cast votes, it's that one side has already decided the result.

This is a situation in which the status quo has already perished.

09 August 2020

Advertising and the OODA oops

 OODA is "observe–orient–decide–act" and it's fundamentally tactical; it occurs at the level of operations.  Those can be pretty big operations, campaign level, but someone else has provided the objective.  It's an approach for getting the thing done when you've been provided the thing or the thing is reactive -- don't let the opposition do their thing.

Lots of emphasis to "getting inside the opposition's OODA loop"; they will at that point be reacting to what you were doing, not what you're doing now.  It's an approach to substitute operational excellence for power, whether power is expressed as numbers or resources.

Western everything is driven by advertising.  Advertising is inherently very short term; annual is an eternity in advertising, and everything about modern media acts to shorten the loop time.  The entire internet runs on advertising, and it's been structurally altered to that end.

Which means that, operationally, everything is very tight and very fast.

It also means that the system as a whole is utterly vulnerable to anything patient.  OODA loops operate in a context; someone sufficiently patient and sufficiently well-resourced to seek to alter the context is both invisible and invulnerable.

There are a whole bunch of political applications of this; the obvious one is how mammonites have succeeded by refusing to react to circumstances in any way.  This shouldn't work, but starting with most of the money gives you options most entities don't have.  It becomes the same process as being strangled by a python; every time you exhale, the snake tightens.

The really immediately relevant application, though, is COVID-19.  It's a disease; it doesn't have a decision loop.  It doesn't respond; it just keeps copying as many copies of itself as its circumstances permit.  It can alter those circumstances on the organism level; it certainly cannot, short term, at the population level.  (And long term, population level gets worse for it; it's busily providing selection pressure against being particularly susceptible to becoming infected by it.)

The goal with a disease is "sufficient public health response", which is long term, requires defining goals against trade-offs, and which does not benefit in any way from trying to either minimise the cost nor maximise the return for anyone involved.  You're trying to minimise the systemic cost, which is not any individual entity's cost.  If all those entities try to minimise their costs, you get pretty much exactly the disaster we're having.  (There is not market for not dying of a disease, and there can't be.)

Note that all the successful COVID-19 responses were built around What certainly stops transmission? Whatever that was, for the available resources, that's what was done.  Cheaper overall, for everybody?  Absolutely.  Requires setting a strategic objective? Well, yes, yes it does.  Could a system staffed by mammonite officials obsessed with minimising costs to them, personally, their class, secondarily, and oblivious to the concept of system, generally, achieve that?

No.

Not against an easy-mode opponent; a virus incapable of learning or directed change.

That's a worry.

02 August 2020

That Hugo presentation fiasco

I think people are missing the crux of the conflict a little.


The point about Lovecraft and Campbell is not that they're especially well-loved or eminent; the point is they have become where the "wait, wait, you can't include that in the critical response" pushback happens to have stuck.

Three things are currently true:
  1. there is far more art than anybody can apprehend
  2. the hegemon's legitimacy has collapsed
  3. tastes and canon are shifting, being reexamined, and expanding
One very plausible response to the combination is to say, right, possibly formative work, but if so, we're ashamed; this stuff is bad, it arose from a bad place, we should call it bad, and dispatch it to the ash-heap of history.[1]

So far as I can tell, that response is becoming the dominant response in written SF; the expected writing standard has increased sharply, the predominant response to "yup, racist and sexist" is "never read their work again", the predominant response to "the author's personal conduct is repellant" is "never read their work again", and this has no effect on anyone's enjoyment because there is still so much really excellent stuff to read after you do this.  (It gives me strange ideas about literary endeavours in the Culture.)

That's a direct threat to the sales numbers of lots of currently active authors.  (I wish it skewed old.  I doubt it does.)  That's where the insistence that you must separate the artist from the art, that you can't use your opinion of the artist to judge the art, and so on, come from.  Same with arguments of significance; if someone had an artistic response, it must have value and be accorded its due accolades.

Which is nonsense; you can almost sort of make that case if you're doing formal academic study, but when reading for enjoyment?  Absolutely you are under no such obligation whatsoever.  It is entirely fine to be heaving the classics of yesteryear on the ash-heap of your present.




[1] fixit fic; a huge chunk of fanfic is "yeah, that's bad, let's rescue the not-bad bits" response art.  Note that this is precisely the opposite of "we will forgive the bad for the good in the original".