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.)

26 July 2022

The four significant numbers, reprise

There's been some bits of "people don't trust the mainstream news" going by, and well, of course not.

There's a lot to say about structural problems, the "it's not justice if it's not general" issues and the "this is the wrong status quo and has been since the 1970s but the money will not acknowledge that" issues, but those are fundamentally secondary.

News is, by the philosophical necessities, about facts.  The current system gets all its feedback from feelings, so it presents feelings, and frequently prescriptive feelings.  It can't be news, and people do notice.

In plague times, the four significant numbers:

  1. global case count 
    • zero for thirty continuous months = party!
    • not zero? no party
  2. local Rₜ 
    • keep this less than 0.5 (= disease dying out quickly)
    • at 0.8, get emphatic (= diseases in reach of winning)
    • at 1.0, it's domain-of-necessity time (= disease is winning)
  3. life expectancy
    • it's dropping
    • it's plausibly dropping much more than one year per year
    • it's not being reported by most Core nations
  4. excess mortality
    1. how we know the outcomes of policy generally
    2. with causes, we know specifically where the system is failing
    3. also not being reported by most Core nations nor political subdivisions thereof.
Actual news would be doing "how do we know", "what can this tell us", and "here's some trend forecasting" about these, but it would also be presenting these numbers every day as the core facts relevant to the pandemic.  

(Remember that the health care system exists to increase life expectancy and decrease excess mortality.  "How functional is the health care system today?" is a tactical worry about life expectancy and excess mortality systemic trends.)

23 July 2022

Mamonite political capture and health care

There's a number of news stories about impending health care collapse, closed ERs, and so on.

We know with some lamentable certainty that the politics of every province in Canada (with the possible partial exception of Quebec) has been captured by mamonites.  It's been painfully obvious in the way pandemic policies have focused on protecting revenue streams over people.  (Something that is obviously disastrous in the long term, even for the revenue streams.)

From a mamonite perspective, the only insecurity management is individual and monetary; if you don't want to suffer a bad consequence, you must have the money to buy your way out of it.  If you can't, it's supposed to happen to you, and any collective action preventing the bad consequence is disputing the will of God. (Really. This is where the evangelical prosperity gospel has gone.)  Taxation is not a duty of citizenship; it's inherently immoral because it's in conflict with the will of God.

(Yes, I know what money is and where it comes from.  Mamonites do not see it as necessary to constrain their axioms with a respect for facts.)

So all the politicians consider health care collapse a feature; it does what they want.  It gets rid of single payer (and thus taxes); it gets rid of nurses' unions (anyone care to suggest how that's not a goal of the Ontario government, probably because it's a precondition of sale?  Nobody wants to buy a health care system to run it for profit when there are meaningful unions).  It lets them change policy in a deeply unpopular way that they nonetheless prefer and claim helplessness, there's nothing they can do, there's nothing to be done.

We're not going to magically see an effective policy response.  We're going to go right on seeing what we're seeing.  (And it's not like mass protest can avoid being a superspreader event.  Or would do anything; there's no belief in the legitimacy of the consent of the government.  We've quietly collapsed into full-on plutocracy.)

The other thing is that even if all the politicians were possessed by some benevolent entity that'd made a bet with the other benevolent spectral entities that it could fix the problem quickly, there isn't a fast fix.  Minimum training time for health care providers starts at about a year and goes up.

It's a bad time to wind up in hospital.  Wear your mask.  

(Wear your elastomeric mask.)

Updated to add:

This twitter thread refers to UK data; Ontario is generally a few weeks behind the UK, and UK still collect much better data than Ontario does.

From that thread,

In a province where disability benefits don't even leave you impoverished (the technical term is "destitute"), do you really think the mammonite analysis of the outcomes of COVID doesn't consider this pattern of outcomes a feature?

Catch COVID enough times and you'll be disabled.  But not on the time frame of this quarter's profits, so completely invisibly to mammonite policy.  Some sort of divine disfavour, has to be.

17 July 2022

Insecurity and absolutism

 First thing—if you're in Canada, you may find  https://covid19resources.ca/ of use.  It's the collective effort of a number of people with specific expertise, and while they cannot magic good information out of non-reporting provinces, they've had a remarkably effective record of successful extrapolation.  It won't improve your state of mind whatsoever but better approximations of facts lead to better decisions.

Second thing—there's lots of moral absolutism going on, independently of people's priors.

Just about everything in humans comes down to insecurity management, and while the specifics of insecurity have a great deal of cultural and circumstantial variation, there's a common pattern:  If you can't reduce the material basis of your insecurity, you may well retreat into an illusion of control.  You get the illusion by refusing to hear anything that you don't like.  Generally you do that through some morally absolute construct or other.  And as more and more people do that around you, sticking to a materialist outlook becomes more and more challenging.

Right now, there are at least five major problems—

  1. agricultural collapse
  2. economic systemic collapse
  3. climate excursion events (fire, flood, heat, etc.)
  4. plague
  5. the global theo-fascist movement
The civil power is not being exercised to solve any of these, so insecurity is remarkably high, and because it is high, people become absolutist in their outlook.  That makes things worse.

The general principle that insecurity is best managed through material change isn't great in the present circumstances—it's clear that the plutocrats aren't willing to accept that they won't be plutocrats anymore on any grounds of consequences, human extinction is preferable to not being a plutocrat anymore—but until material change to address those five major problems and happens and is seen to happen effectively, there's no prospect of reducing the retreat into moral absolutism.

In other words, it's a symptom, not a cause; deal with the cause, and the moral absolutism will substantially go away.

11 July 2022

The purpose of the system…

 So there's this simple graph:

(Which I got from this tweet.)

Ontario Public Health's PACS—Post-Acute COVID Syndrome—percentage for "persists for at least six months" is also 20%. 

We don't know what's "long COVID"—not being able to clear the disease and having flare ups due to viral reservoirs—and what's lasting damage.  This is something we'd need years more data about, and we're all trapped in this horror movie before we know anything much.  We are now pretty sure that COVID is cumulative—having it this time makes having it next time more likely and worse—so the graph above is indefensibly optimistic in using constant odds.  Current circulating varieties have a lot of immune escape and are certainly infectious before people become symptomatic, so for planning purposes, everyone is infected. (Get an elastomeric respirator; get P100 cartridges for it; wear it continuously outside your dwelling. Try to live.)

You'd think this would be creating much more concern than the initial outbreak; we now know a lot more about how bad it is, and this is really notably bad.  A severe disease that doesn't create lasting immunity, which spreads prior to symptoms (so there's no selection pressure not to kill you), which causes loss of immune function, and which is easy to catch (to undersell the spreadingest disease in human history), is not something we've got a precedent for or much in the way of robust narratives. (Plus we move it around, and the outcomes for diseases with long-distance travel are different.)

So where's the concern?

Everyone making decisions with the civil power wants the world to be less complicated. 

 Whether that's because they really don't like having to pick success instead of control, because they don't care who dies as long as their profit numbers look good, because they're old and haven't got the mental flexibility anymore (gerontocracy is not good at sudden change), or because they actively want to forcibly simplify society until their slave-holding desires are something society cannot readily suppress doesn't really matter on the observational scale.  What matters is that there's a systemic failure; the people making the decisions want the world to be simple and aren't willing to live in a world that is not.  If they can only sacrifice enough of us, they'll get their wish; the world will be a lot simpler.

(No, China does not then win by default.  Global economic collapse doesn't do anything good for China and then they've got the same agricultural failure to worry about everyone else has got.  It's really past time to switch the narrative from man-versus-man to man-versus-past-mistakes.)

02 July 2022

Scale matters

As an abstraction or a concept or something, money is this superposition of a medium of exchange and a store of value.  It has value because it is exchanged; if it stops being exchanged, the value goes away.  If it doesn't have a sovereign to protect it—to guarantee a certain predictability and consistency of exchanges against all comers—the value goes away, too, quite possibly because the exchange stops.

That's money on a scale of nation-states or the meta-scale of economies where you're talking about trade networks.

Another interesting scale is the personal; money is not, to an individual, what it is to an economy.  Money to an individual is the exchange rate between life span and agency.  However much money you get for giving up some amount of time determines the agency available to you.

When you look at it that way, it's obvious that the intractable constraint is time; individual people all have about the same amount.  The upper limit on the agency you can exercise is then set by either the exchange rate you can negotiate or the amount of other people's life span you can control.

Being extremely useful to a lot of people—being able to negotiate a high exchange rate for your lifespan into agency—has inherent limits.  Most notably, luck; becoming a wildly popular artist is not something you can arrange to do merely through skill and diligence.  Luck makes things inconsistent, and people generally loathe inconsistency.  They want to be sure what they'll have tomorrow and sure what they can give their posterity.

This drive for consistency and predictability produces structural pressure toward being able to co-opt as much of other people's life spans as you possibly can, because that maximizes your agency.  The more agency you have, the more you can produce consistent outcomes for yourself. Without some powerful constraint on the amount of agency any individual can obtain through the money economy (that is, how much of other people's life spans they can take) and a non-monetary economy to provide agency to the constraint, the money economy iterates toward a condition of nearly universal de-facto slavery—where you haven't got enough agency to meaningfully refuse anything—because that's what a money economy does.  It's an agency maximizer, but it's an agency maximizer only for the luckiest descendants of previous winners.  Everybody else has theirs taken away.

This is why you want to have and enforce income and asset caps that limit people to the amount of agency a not particularly lucky person could exchange their lifespan for.  That's the minimum constraint to have a system that won't iterate into a condition of near-universal slavery.

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.