Random accumulated thots

On backups
Words of wisdom from : “Eventually modern environmental pressure will select for humans with the instinctive fight/flight/make backups response.”

Tolkein
Further to my bitching about the canon of modern* popular literature, here’s a negative number of Reasons for Liking Tolkien.

This terribly erudite essay comes from the London Review of Books and badly needs a long, hard editing. Most of us can think of better things to do than read 13,000 words, even if one of them is “anathematisation”, so in short:
“It’s an infantile comfort that is also a black pit.” – for both reader and author

* – You remember, the Modern Age, it ran from about 1911 to 1973, bringing us jet planes, fascism, and atom powered miniskirts. In response, Tolkein (and a few others) wrote very long books about how everything was better before we got all uppity and invented Progress. Luckily, since 1971 there’s been very little Progress, on account of the price of oil**.

** – This statement is only poetically true. But we’re talking about Literature here, so get used to it.

Seasteading
It’s a concept that looks pretty, has no idea how to pay for itself, and suffers from the same fake terra nullius delusion that infects US libertarians. Just imagine, you too could be trapped in a floating appartment block, populated by ruggedly libertarian individualists all trying to solve community problems while loudly proclaiming the inadequacy of all previous attempts at creating communities. I can’t imagine anything more fun.

But it does look pretty:

GM in NZ – will the debate be different this time around?
Or will there be a debate at all? My guess is that the current government will implement hands-off regulations that allow the use of GM plants and animals. Are they hoping that loosening the laws won’t create a big backlash? Or are they sufficiently confident that they have enough of a parliamentary majority that they can get away with putting in such a potentially unpopular set of laws? (See also the Auckland supercouncil, water meters, and several other unpopular policies that I think we’ll end up with, regardless.)

18 thoughts on “Random accumulated thots”

      1. I’ve talked with a couple of those “I want to form a floating, completely independent, sovereign utopia out in the middle of the ocean where i can escape taxes, government, and other societal annoyances” people. I’ve got to admit, I find the concept OK, in and of itself, but none of those folk have been able to tell me how they plan to fabricate concrete and rebar out of fish, plankton, and salt water.

        1. Nor how they plan to fund public goods without taxes, or solve non-market problems without government, or deal with societal annoyances at all.

          Rule Number 1 of any successful project – Only try to solve one thing at a time. Seasteading is trying to solve engineering problems, economic problems and political problems. Good luck with that.

  1. FYI, is the director of the Seasteading Institute that ran the design competition.

    My favourite design was:

    I think idea of seasteading is promising in the same way that it’s easier to create a new start up than implement an organisational shift in a large corporation.

    Of course, in the same analogy, if the seastead becomes successful, then the corporation considers it a threat and will “buy up” the threat.

    Where “buy up” may be equivalent to “forcibly take”.

    1. Almost all nations have asserted continental shelf rights under the Law of the Sea Convention. Which means that unless the seastead was in the deep ocean, it would require consent of the nation whose EEZ it was in.

      If you regard the seastead as a ship, it has to have a nationality and would fall under the laws of whichever state registered it.

          1. True, but some nations are disfunctional enough that registering with them is effectively akin to not registering at all. This convenience is widely used by bold libertarians freeing themselves from the corrupt shackles of government corporations to avoid safety standards for their rusting oil tankers.

    2. And that’s all perfectly valid, if you’re trying to create a mall. I’d argue that a nation is a fundamentally different thing and the development models just don’t map over.

    1. That just means they smell, not that they’re wrong.

      Personally, I think that they’re wrong and wrong enough that I don’t want to find out if they smell…

  2. Actually, I could see a solution to the energy problem, so long as you don’t want to go anywhere. Big marine turbines underneath, big wind turbines above. Carbon neutral too.

    (Obviously, as soon as you want to go anywhere, then you’ll be using one metric fucktonne of diesel, but hey, maybe we could extract biofuel from the half-zombies?)

  3. I love the path on (what is for us) the bottom right hand corner. For when it all gets too much, and one wants a pretty stroll on the way to self-destruction.

  4. Not only does it look pretty, but they’re all in one place that’s difficult to get out of, and from the looks of things, badly defended. Not so bad, once you think on it…

  5. There was a hilarious book set on a disused oil platform, transformed at great cost into the “Floating Paradise” resort so that Brit holiday makers could experience warmer climes without having to actually experience anything at all.

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