Friday, June 9, 2017

Raspberry Pi Projects

So, I've recently had a crash-course through dealing with Raspberry Pi hardware, linux programming, motor programming, and now that I've gotten my feet wet and a taste for this, nothing is going to fucking stop me from continuing with shit I know I can do.

So, what all am I working on?
  • Drones
  • Cameras
  • Sex Toys
  • Fireworks
  • Smart House Modules
  • Electric Vehicle Platform
  • Night Vision Goggles


There are a number of open-source modules on the internet that I'm currently researching.  I have a picture in my head of a medium-range VTOL type drone... actually I've got a substantial repository of my own designs I'll be pursuing in this regard eventually, but for now, the primary development centers around the raspberry pi zero and the ardupilot board to make a small nimble drone capable of carrying a camera.

No current participants- this is an area of research.

Camera Turrets

This is a project  to make a general purpose robotic camera.  A fully developed feature set will include google earth placement integration (so the cam knows where it is and where it's pointing), object tracking, panorama shots, and it can do things like patrol a perimeter and track who's what and when's where.

No current participants, but this is an active area of development of mine personally.

Sex Toys

Because why not? This began as a conversational joke that quickly grew out of control when I realized how easy it is to make sex toys better than 99% of the ones on the market using off-the-shelf components.  The idea for this is two devices, roughly a fleshlight-type pocket pussy thing with a plastic sleeve around the outside  that manipulates it on the user; then there is a correlating version that is essentially a fleshlight-sized tube, out of which a dildo emerges and retracts, so it's basically a very small tame version of the terrifying exercise bike thing you'll find if you google "fucking machine" and click on the image tab.

The end goal of this is basically sex online, and having sex over a wifi network actually allows for some really cool possibilities.  For example, men and women may have different sexual rhythms, and having two machines work independently means that both partners can have totally different sex- she can go fast and he can go slow- and their responses can be more or less 'steered' by the output, ie, how fast or slow the thing runs, temperature and vibration settings, things like that- which means that there is the romantic possibility of getting two people who love each other but have some mismatch or other to finally come together, even far apart.

Then there's the possibility of running simulation games- pair this with an occulus rift for example, and suddenly you don't *JUST* have sex online available to anyone with (probably) $100, and not only that- with off the shelf components that can't be regulated as sex toys, which allows this to circumvent all sorts of idiot "moral" authorities in places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. Y'all obsolete motherfuckers can go fuck yourselves, and I'll help, and hopefully real governments can emerge in these countries.

There is currently one podcast participant who's collaborating on this.


This is another "wow wouldn't it be cool if..." conversation that gave me the idea.  Essentially, it comes down to a grid of connections between a positive and negative rail, so that you can literally address the fireworks and send them off individually with a small capacitor bank and alligator clips on the normal fuses (which lets them fall off when the fuse ignites). The basic premise, from my non-electrical-engineer outsider perspective, remembering that electricity is a bit like water in a pipe, but the pipe is solid, so it's kind of like a stack that electrons are popped into one end of and out the other end of, like a newton's cradle, and the progress from the source of the current to the ground- so the idea is to use the pi to send a control signal to a chip that is turning on and off the circuits between ground, or the negative pole absent that.  Maybe this will require two chips, one for positive and one for negative? I will have to do more research and push this along, but the rough idea is to use a 12 v battery as the current source to set off the fuses.

As stated, there is a podcast participant also collaborating on this.

Smart House modules

This is a set of features to control lights, door locks, a house wifi network and media storage, and other basic commodity functions.

Currently there is one podcast collaborator and others possibly interested.

Electric Vehicle Platform

This is a basic controller platform for general use in controlling high-power motors and input and output motor circuits for applications like electric cars and motorcycles, ebikes, segways, hoverboards, and so on.

Currently there is one podcast participant actively researching and collaborating on this- more to come.

Night Vision Goggles

This is a project to take 3 primary sets of graphics visualization- a pair conventional wide-angle cameras with the wide spectrum (infrared and UV) filters removed or replaced, a thermal infrared camera, and a small passive/active radar pinhole camera that can pick up and graphically represent the location of a radio source on a field of view, which is kind of like the splinter cell EMF vision, and it can also activate a flash of electrons and see the response, allowing relatively low resolution 3d mapping of stuff in front of you by reactive hardness- so glass will be non-responsive, metal will reflect greatly, different plastics have different characteristics, etc.  The wide angle wide spectrum cameras already exist, the thermal camera already exists, the radar modules exist but have not to my knowledge been assembled into

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Dadiot YouPodTubeCast!

I'm starting a youpodtubecast! Currently, the audio is hosted here, where I've got up the first chapter of one of my favorite books on politics, The Politics of Obedience (mostly a placeholder, but I do want to record audiobooks of my favorite obscure books), and I want to make other resources available too.

So, what is the premise, what sort of thing will I be doing?

First and foremost, I want to take shit that people wished they could do and sit down and make first steps towards those impossible-seeming goals.  First actions, a gathering of materials and resources, and an actionable path forward.

Second, and fucking important too, I want to make these topics as un-intimidating as possible. To this end, I have a planned mixture of adult episodes where guests and I tackle all sorts of cool shit while having a hackathon with a case of beer or a bottle of wine or some cannabis (where it's legal)- because even rocket science isn't rocket science to rocket scientists- and the other approach to making impossible-sounding topics not just possible, but things kids do in their garages, is by getting kids and building the first steps of the awesome things with them, giving them the skills to go forward, and letting them take things to completion.

In case this needs to be spelled out, there will be *NO* overlap between kids and drugs.  Drugs aren't for kids.

This actually ties directly into the steam turbine project, because that is an example of the kind of thing that I think it's reasonable for the average 4th grade class in the rural US could reasonably build over the course of a month or two, and a motivated kid could build her own in a few days, accounting for the time it takes to make the windings in the motor. And by design, the same should be true of an Ethiopian kid who gets the kit airdropped into his village or the kid in rural China scrounging wire from busted TV's.  Neither of these are in a vacuum, although they are separate efforts there will be some deliberate overlap- right now the plan is to have an instructional build series as a set of youpodtubecast episodes.


So, since there are a variety of data delivery vehicles available, the premise of this endeveavor is t:
  1. Record everything
  2. Chop it up according to medium; a collection of especially useful pictures and still frames from video, chop by audio only, chop by action on video only, 
  3. Compress the repetetive stuff down (so this is time lapse build vids on youtube, cutting out bathroom breaks in convos for podcast-specific audio, etc.

Once that production is done, the release process is to publish each Episode as
  1. A YouTube video, 
  2. A podcast episode on the iTunes and Android stores,
  3. An infographic, image gallery, Powerpoint or whatever the fuck to present graphical data that can be consumed on low bandwidth connections. a visualized cliff notes is the goal, with graphics of the whole thing together assembled and in use, and then with the major parts laid out and their basic operating principles noted.

GUESTS? WHAT! For what?

Well, the premise of having guests on is to bring a variety of new and unique perspectives- I am deliberately shooting for a combination of "Holy shit I've heard of them, they're the best at X" and "who the fuck is that?", because the whole premise of bringing science to the masses is that fucking everyone can fucking do anything, you just have to fucking do it.  So if I get rockstars and whatever, I'll be happy about that and regard it as an accomplishment, but that's not the point of doing this and I'd be happy doing it completely without them.  Give me 3 drunk rednecks who flunked out of high school and a few raspberry pis and an eighth of weed, a 12 volt power supply, a few batteries, and not only will they have made their first robot at the end, they will be able to take that and go do more with it.  I want people who think they couldn't possibly do any of this shit, because everyone can do it. it's just a matter of doing it.

What sort of Episodes Do I have planned/ am I pursuing?
  • Wardriving and web and mobile security. How does data move through a network, where does it go, how does it get and stay safe, how do bad guys and good guys intercept and use it against you?
  • Food Foraging- obtaining usable nutrition from the wild, starting in the pacific northwest and moving around the country from there.
  • Glass Blowing- a few different ideas here, I have an idea for turning mason jars into faraday-cage observation jars for raspberry pi cameras to do high altitude and space observation
  • Raspberry Pi Dildo- this started as a joke, but I've actually had two seriously doable ideas, and there's even an instagram pic of one doodle of a parts diagram up already on this.
  • Raspberry Pi Fireworks launcher controller- fourth of july's gonna rock.
  • Raspberry Pi electric vehicle
  • Raspberry Pi Smart House functions
  • An episode on movie weapon stunt-fighting- how do fight scenes like crouching tiger get made, how do you train to do that and how do they record, and how much of what you see is really what it looks like, and what does the real parts of that look like compared to actual historical martial arts?
  • Various episodes on Languages and language learning.
  • I have this idea for an episode about the variety of experience based on the exterior social perceptions- I've lost about 100 lbs and have seen that first hand, and there's also a HUGE difference in experience between, eg, the blizzard of dick pics most women seem to get on the internet compared to the complete lack of engagement particularly physically not-perfect single males seem to have from all sectors, including each other. So the idea is to get a few different extreme perspectives, and the intent is to take this variety and quantify what sort of difference the experience is and what that means and what the game theories are for the different actors, socially, and especially online.
  • Audiobooks! I have a number of books I'd like to turn into audiobooks for easier consumption

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Computational Basis for Morality

This post is a fling, a one-off post on a single topic that I am attempting to coalesce my thoughts around.

In this post, I will explore the opportunities and challenges of using a computer to make moral calculations, what assumptions morality must fundamentally include, and how a computing entity, a program or a network or a robot or whatever, might have the ability to set about making these sorts of calculations in a way that is acceptable to the human species as a basis for interaction with as collaborators.

First, how can morality be calculated? Well, a number of conditions factor into the experience and potential for experience of:
  • Physical well-being, or the actual vs expected biomechanical composition of a physical entitiy capable of experiencing it
  • Subjective experience- "Happiness" or "satisfaction" or any variation of positive and desirable self-assessment of circumstances
  • Capacity for decision making- the extent to which free decisions are available to be made without consequence, and the degree of the consequences.
Now, some of you are already bitching about Sam Harris and the "conscious creatures happiness and well being" catchphrase, but even having seen all the bitching, I'm not aware of any argument that properly negates it on any level; the arguments I have seen against it seem to be largely either straw-men based on not properly thinking through what it actually means in practice, or else attempts to dogmatically over-assert a literal interpretation of  some mythology or other as "necessary to make people behave this well".

But, if this isn't satisfactory, what if there were an earlier example- such as the US Declaration of Independence, which specifies "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness"?

So, for lack of better "Targets", I think these are a pretty good place to start. That gets us to the problem of implementing these sorts of targets into any sort of computer program; the world is not a vacuum and there isn't a way for computers to reliably evolve the capability to make life or death decisions that as an acceptable way to solve this problem.  So the practical way forward here is a guided learning approach, where a number of categories of entities can be identified and kept in a program's memory from the available inputs- a camera feed to count faces and keep a record of each face moving around in the camera's field of vision, for example.

So, in such a scenario, with the camera tracking people by face as they move around, what is our opportunity to make this meaningful and actionable? Well, perhaps around a swimming pool to track who's in or out and who's not moving in it and so on.  What sort of challenges must this overcome? well, faces are only visible one cardinal direction at a time, so there should be other ways of identifying human and other sorts of entities (including unknowns), and there must be some sort of model of the environment to allow a computer to make meaningful predictions and so on.

At this level, we have lists of entities, including lists of known types and specific known people.  How might such lists be sorted and prioritized?  I say that we should use the capacity for experiencing those three criterion above. Using that model, the extent to which you can experience happiness and how much potential happiness you have ahead of you, for example, becomes a calculatable moral detail.  In this way, we can see that even though a mother might be equally related to her two children and her two parents- that is, she has a 50% genetic relationship to everyone there- it is still in her interest to save her children, because her children still have their lives ahead of them, and even genetically, her children have potential to pass on their genes and her parents (at least in modern demographics) almost certainly will not be passing on any more genes, at least not together.

What about conflict? It is inevitable in the course of human affairs that around a topic, humans will arrange themselves into competing teams.  This is even a beneficial characteristic, in some circumstances; in the startup world, this is popularized as "A-B testing", where two options are tried simultaneously and the more successful is kept to be built upon and the less successful is discarded (roughly- in practice it can be very different, perhaps option A is better under some circumstance, but option B is better under others- A restaurant selling pancakes may do better in morning than a restaurant selling pizza, but the pizza restaurant may do better in the evening, for example.

At this level, we should consider a larger scale of program making assesments, perhaps a distributed network of sensors and signals that interact with humans to share data and enable rapid decision making in high-stakes calculations. Think that's never been done? Picture a traffic signal network.

How about violence? In the course of conflict, not all outcomes around which humans organize can be justified or defended, and many must simply be condemned outright as shameful, wasteful, disgusting, needlessly cruel, and indifferent to the well being, happiness, or desires of others and their procession towards these desires.  What of this?

Aren't these universally the characteristics of a criminal? Isn't it always the case that this attitude should never be allowed to dictate the course of events where there is an unnecessary reliance on it as a source for any of the material necessities of happiness, well being, or self-determination? Isn't the result of any such calculation about dictatorship, then, a criminal infliction by those with the power to act in the better interests of the their fellows who fail to do so, by those who have no call to inflict injury or misery on them but do so anyway, or who invent cause to do so by which others so inflict these, especially when those inventions give rise to further opportunity needlessly taken or mistake justified, or ideological anchor given to the support of injuring without cause.

At this scale, lets just attach these same sensors and tracking to law enforcement the way they're attached now, but let's examine this; Suddenly, via Google maps with a network of people all en-sensored, it's possible for this sort of network to pick up on specific clues and do very simple but effective IFF by virtue of being able to track people and give info back to the people with the sensors via whatever feedback interface they have- picture being able to hold up your phone and look down the street and it will literally highlight all the good guys in white and the bad guys in red, if you need a vision of what that could look like for this thought experiment.

Given that human data tracking and processing can, in some specialized ways, far outstrip the capacity of the faculties of any single human, isn't it more stable to rely on this for justice than it is to rely on the fickle whims of humans?

In this level, we begin to see legal implications. It is the nature of the Criminal Justice System, at least in most places, to be designed in such a way that many small discretely inconsequential infractions can occur, with or without the knowledge of the actor committing them, and accumulate over the years.  It is not by accident that the Mafia kingpin Al Capone was brought to trial by the charge of tax evasion via a provision in US tax law that legally requires criminals to report their earnings fucking seriously.

If the automation of this infraction detection were implemented, it would either be an unparalleled asymmetric advantage of any party with access to that information over any party without it, and/or it will necessitate by its' very nature a sweeping set of legal reforms to fully accommodate for human nature and the nature of sentience and possibly- though this is another discussion entirely- the question of sentience in any sense like the sense in which we experience it in anything that is not us.

And so, not assuming the existence of any form of artificial intelligence, not relying on any sort of singularity or anything else, it seems inevitable that the utility of computers will outstrip the ability of humans to use them responsibly, especially if we leave decision making up to 'the troup's favorite monkey's decision' of democracy instead of moving onto some form of meritocracy.  Which, for the first time ever, becomes fucking possible thanks to computers getting cheap and good enough to do this on a large scale, at least conceivably.

And I didn't even Start talking about what happens with robots with guns.

ملحد في عائلة عائلة مسيحية An Arabic Translation of "Being the Atheist in a Christian Family"

 ما سيأتي هو عبارة عن رسالة أرسلتها إلى والدي لأشرح له سبب عدم وجود فرصة لأطفالي للذهاب إلى "مدرسة الكتاب المقدس في العطلة" (سفسطة ثلاثية إذا كان هناك أحداها) وكاد هذا أن يقود إلى إثارة الخصومة فيما بيننا لكن رسالة البريد الإلكتروني تلك نجحت في تلطيف الجو بشكل جيد تماما، وبالتالي، أنا أستنسخها هنا لتكون مرجعا مستقبلي.

من ينتهك خصوصية الأسماء المذكورة، فأنا أسميه حيوانا.

مرحبا والدي!
كتبت هذه الرسالة وكنت أفكر بأن أرسلها إليك وإلى أمي أوﻻ لكن أعرف إنه من الآمن أن أرسلها إليك أوﻻ لتفادي النزاعات.
إذن، لدينا حديث جيد في يوم آخر، لكن هناك شيء واضح جدا ليس لديكم فكرة عنه على ما أعتقد. أنا ﻻ أريد أن أعكس أكثره على أي أحد. لأن الكل يحتاجون إلى أن ينامون ليلا، لكنني أعرف إن بإمكاني أن أشرح لكما الموضوع في بعض النقاط، مع وصف مختصر بخصوص كيف ولماذا توصلت إلى تلك الإستنتاجات وأتخذت تلك القرارات، لذا، يمكنكما مناقشة الأشياء التي تهمني وتقلقني، أنا ليس عندي إيمان

¤ ليس لدي معتقدات، لأنني رفضت فلسفيا صحة "الاعتقاد" كمفهوم. ببساطة، الاعتقاد لا يجعل شيئا صحيحا، والكفر لا يجعل شيئا كاذبا. في أحسن الأحوال، تعتقدون أن شيئا ما صحيحا - وفي هذه الحالة يكون الاعتقاد زائف.في أسوأ الأحوال، إذا كنت تعتقد شيئا كاذبا، وبالتالي فإن الاعتقاد، في حد ذاته، هو حاجز للتفاهم. لذا، بدلا من ذلك، أحاول أن أكون لديكم بيانات ومعرفة ('من'، 'ما'، 'أين'، 'كم'، و 'متى'،'كيف' و 'لماذا') . أنا لا أأمن ب "الانفجار الكبير"، أو في التطور، أو حتى بأنني أجلس على طاولة المطبخ أكتب هذا من أجلكما. ويكفي أن أتقبل أن الدليل هو أن هذه الأمور تبدو كما هي، بغض النظر عن كيف أفكر بها، وأنه لمن واجبي-إذا كنت مهتما- معرفتها وفهمها، بدل 2
أن أخبر نفسي-أو أي شخص آخر- إنها صحيحة أو خاطئة.

وهذا له نتيجة طبيعية - أنا أرفض أيضا صحة أي إيمان، والذي أعتبره "إدعاء الحقيقة دون أو على الرغم من السبب أو الدليل". ولكن "الإيمان" faith في اللغة الإنجليزية له العديد من الاستخدامات وراء هذا المعنى - في كثير من الأحيان أشياء مثل "الولاء"، "الثقة"، الخ - وأنا لا أرفض هذه الأشياء، ولكن أحاول استخدام هذه الكلمات الأكثر تحديدا بدلا من تلك.

¤ توقفت عن المسيحية لأنه لم يعد ممكنا، ومعرفة ما أعرفه، لقبول أنه قد يكون صحيحا. هناك جبال الأدلة والكثير من الأسباب ضد ما تعتقد. هذه هي الأشياء التي كنت "حاد" حول التناقضات في الكتاب المقدس، وعدم الدقة، والتزوير، والأكاذيب الظاهرة هدفها تحقيق مكاسب سياسية من قبل المؤلفين، والأدلة الأثرية، والسجلات التاريخية، وما إلى ذلك كان معرفة ذلك مؤلم جدا بالنسبة الي ولكن عملية ميقضة للبصيرة. لذلك يمكن أن يقول شخص بمكاني"إذا كان هناك إله أم لا، فهو ليس ذلك الإله الذي تؤمن به". ولكن أنا لا أكره المسيحية، بنفس الطريقة التي لا تكره أي دين آخر. أنا فقط أعتقد أنها غير صحيحة في الواقع. أنا لا أكره المسيحيين. لديك أسباب وجيهة للتفكير والقيام بما تقوم به، مثل كل العوامل الاجتماعية - على سبيل المثال، القدرة على التحدث مع والديك <أمي> دون أن يفكروا بأنك ﻻبد أن تكون "شريرا" أو "ضعيف روحيا" . لكنني لا أعتقد أن هذه الأسباب تساهم بشكل ذو معنى في حقيقة مطالبات المسيحية.

المهم أيضا: لم يحدث شيء سيء ليسبب هذا. ما زلت أعمل بنشاط على دراسة موضوعات الكتاب المقدس - ومن هنا أذكر {قراءة} كتب جوش ماكدويل، و سي اس لويس، من بين أمور أخرى. ولكن أعتقد أن أفضل درس متاح من أي من هذه هي كيف تفكر، وليس بماذا تفكر.

اعتقادي بالإله أعطاني آلية إضافية للتأقلم على أشياء - "إن الله لا يعطيك ما لا يمكنك التعامل معه" - وكان مصدرا للأمل في بعض الحالات المظلمة جدا. لا أحد يسبب "سوء التصرف" لي الشك. لدي الكثير من الاحترام لكيفية التعامل مع معتقداتكما. ولكن أيا من هذه ليس لها أي تأثير على ما إذا كانت المعتقدات صحيحة أم لا، وفي النهاية، كان الأمر أكثر أهمية بالنسبة لي. وهكذا كان علي في نهاية المطاف مواجهة القضية المتنامية ضد المسيحية التي كنت قد أصبحت أكثر وعيا و قابلية للمعرفة لسنوات. الآن يجب أن تكون قد لاحظت نتيجة ذلك، ولكن أنا أمتنع عن التعامل مع ذلك هنا لأنني أعلم إنكما لا ترياند أن تسمعانه

آخر نقطة فرعية حول هذا: أنا لست ملتزما بفكرة أن المسيحية كاذبة، ولكن إذا كان هناك قضية يجب أن تكون لذلك، يجب أن تكون هذه لها أيضا الأدلة والأسباب التي وجدت ضدها؛ مسميا كل ذلك ب "خدعة إبليس". ربما هناك أدلة وأسباب لا أعرف عنها، وإذا وجدتها، وأنها لا تصف ما وجدته، ليس لدي شيء ضد إعتناق المسيحية- ولكن في تلك المرحلة، وأنا لا أمسك نفسي.

¤ أنا مادي، بمعنى أنني أعتقد أن الأشياء التي لا وجود لها لا وجود لها. ربما هناك شيء أبعد من هذا الكون الطبيعي. ولكن لم يكن هناك أي أدلة مقنعة كنت قادرا على اكتشافه أنه لا يمكن فهمها بطريقة أخرى أفضل. ولكنني أعتقد أيضا أن ما نحن عليه ليس كل ما يمكن أن نكون، وأنه كل شيء عن كيفية استخدام جوهر نفسك وبيئتك قبل أن تموت الذي يوفر أفضل مجموعة من الاحتمالات. حتى لو كنا أجهزة كمبيوتر فقط، أجهزة الكمبيوتر لا تزال آلات مذهلة التي يمكن أن تفعل أشياء رهيبة، والخطوة الأولى نحو الارتقاء هو معرفة كيفية الترقية.

كعنوان فرعي، أعتقد أن التفسيرات المادية للتجربة الدينية هي أكثر منطقية من التفسيرات الخارقة للطبيعة. من المنطقي بالنسبة لي أن التجربة الدينية تحدث لأن العقول البشرية هي آلات مذهلة ولكن ناقصة، من أن نفكر أن هناك جيوش الشياطين تعمل لرمي الناس في النار

¤ أنا ملحد، وليس عدمي. وأعتقد أن على الجميع أن يجدوا أو يجعلوا أغراضهم الخاصة، حتى المسيحيين. السنجاب هو أكثر عدمية مني. وبالتالي، فإنه لا يرى أي مشكلة في أخذ الأطفال إلى الكنيسة، لأن الجميع سوف يموت على أي حال. وأعتقد أن الوقت القليل الذي نقضيه إليه هنا ينبغي ألا يضيع على ذلك، لأن أيا منا لن يحصل على مزيد من الوقت هنا، والعواقب لا تبرر ذلك ببساطة؛ على أقل تقدير، وهذا يعني أننا نتفق على أن الكنيسة هي أكثر من مجرد مجالسة الأطفال مجانا.
ما سأقوله الآن هذا سيغضبكما، بالمناسبة. لقد اغتصبت وقتلت كل ما أريد.والكمية التي أريدها هي صفر. إذا كان الشيء الوحيد الذي يمنعك من القيام بذلك هو الخوف من الجحيم، فأنت لست شخصا جيد. المسيحية لا تعطيك "القوى العظمى الأخلاقية"، وانها مهينة عندما تتصرف وكأنك على نحو ما بأنك الوحيد القادر على التحقق إذا كان هناك شيء على حق أو خطأ. ليس هناك عمل وجدت أن المؤمن يمكن أن يفعله والكافر لا يمكنه فعله. ولكن الدين، الخاص بك وبلآلخرين، يمكن أن يجعل الناس العاديين ﻻ أخلاقيين ويقومون بالأشياء الشريرة والأشرار التي لا أحد سوف تنظر خلاف ذلك.

آمل أن يكون هذا ليس طويلا جدا، وآمل أنا لا تجوب يا رفاق. لقد تركت عمدا أدلة بلدي وركزت على التفكير بدلا من ذلك. أنا آسف لتسمية معتقداتكما "تقاليد" و "أساطير". أنا ﻻ أحاول إرغامكما.لكنني فقط أشعر بأنني محاط بأشخاص يحاولون فعل ذلك لي ولأطفالي، لأنهم يحاولون نقلهم إلى الكنيسة - عندما كنت قد ذكرت مرارا وتكرارا أنني غير مرتاح لها ولا أريد أن يحدث ذلك - فهذا مثال على ذلك. أنا آسف أمي لجعلك تشعرين بالشفقة لذلك، ولكن هذا يبدو وكأنه البلطجة بالنسبة لي، وهذا سبب آخر لعدم السماح للأطفال يذهبون إلى هذه الكنيسة.

شيء مرادف يمكن أن يساعدك على فهم ذلك. إذا كنت تزور منزل مسلم وطلبوا لكم الركوع على الأرض للصلاة قبل العشاء. انه ليس معتقدك، انه معتقدهم، ويمكنك احترامه والركوع، ولكن لا ينبغي أن يفهمون ذلك بمعني أنهم يمكن أن تجروك إلى المسجد بعد ذلك، أو أنهم سوف يفعلون لك صالح عند أخذ أطفالك هناك بعد أن أخبرتهم بأنك غير راضين عن ذلك. أعتقد أنني أتذكر أن أمي رفضت "دعوات" مماثلة عندما كنت في عمر فينس أبني، لنفس الأسباب.

وأخيرا، أريد أن أذكر بأنني أحبكما. أنا لا أعتقد أنكما والدين ناقصين في أي شكل من الأشكال، وأنا فقط أختلف معكما عن دينكما، وهذا كل شيء.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

On Hunting

This began as a tangent on the post about designing firearms, and I realized it needed to be addressed separately.

  1. There's not a viable way to feed the human species without meat.  Humans biologically require the spectrum of vitamins, nutrients, proteins, amino acids, and so on from animal sources at some point in our food chain, and the only current way to produce that on the scale necessary is with animal sources.  It isn't that a vegetarian diet has no health benefits- vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens, should play a much larger dietary role for a much larger section of the population than they currently do- but the complete absence of meat would be devastating for the human species, and what few of us survived would necessarily be biologically something different.  The average vegan who has not had animal protein or supplements in over a year can typically raise their IQ by ten points with a single dose of creatine monohydrate, a popular bodybuilding supplement that's only available from animal sources like red meat, and if that's news and you want a fact that hits closer to home, look up vegan fertility rates. Again, vegans, I love you guys, but y'all are doing some shit the rest of us can't, and that isn't really plausible as a full-time solution for everyone.
  2. A natural life is better for the animal, and in such a way that makes it better for the person eating it. Even if that wild life entails a miserable hunt at the end, so what? The domestic ones get slaughtered too, they just know it, and watch their whole family go get killed in a line in front of them before- and even in the best case of domestication the animals should be allowed to live as much according to their nature as possible so as to develop most suitably into the food they will be used as afterwards, and then that animal should be fucking respected and not wasted and used inappropriately.
  3. Humans are biologically predators and have ecologically replaced the apex predators in the ecosystems around the world.  If we are going to sustain an ecosystem, which is the fucking point of "Conservation" efforts, we need to make sure that the jobs in it are getting done, even if the creatures doing those jobs are not present, which is why you've seen that picture of Chinese farmers polinating their apple trees manually with paint brushes.
  4. Biologically, because of our evolution as predators, you should expect some of us to have the experience of being driven to hunt, a desire to hunt or kill animals for food, and ability and willingness to participate in this, even just socially.  Because of this, there should be some socially acceptable way for those people to do that.  And that's basically what "hunting" is and always has been, until Bambi, it seems, because that was the crossing of the graph lines between mechanized agriculture and cultural personification of animals.

There is even a place for Trophy hunting; trophy hunting is a good thing. Trophy hunting of dozens of species of particularly gazelle has led to them literally coming back from extinction. We should do it to fucking Rhinos and elephants, not because I dislike rhinos and elephants, not because I want to hunt them or don't know about the level of consciousness they have, but because taking out the antisocial and aggressive members of the population that are attacking other members can be beneficial, and if you want to argue that you have to be a sick motherfucker to want to pull that trigger, why not regulate the fuck out of it, so as to keep anything too fucked from going down, and charge the guy who STILL wants to do it enough money to pay for cloning the other elephants worth having?

Seriously, just google "male elephant" and watch a few videos- watch one of the indian elephants, the smaller type that lives in the jungles in asia, throw a motorbike at a guy when it'd had enough of being abused by its handler.  watch it demolish cars like they're nothing. Elephants are majestic wonderful fucking animals, I have been lucky enough to interact with several and they have been wonderful animals and I loved them, but when you've got an outcaste one that's attacking the other elephants and attacking people and being a vindictive destructive pain in the ass everywhere it goes, is it too much to ask to end that elephant in as humane a way as possible, and charge the sort of motherfucker who wants to shoot elephants enough money to help the rest of the herd along?

Since the nature of the problem of poaching is desperate uneducated motherfuckers with AK-47's who are trying to get money for food, and their interaction leaves them without urgency for saving animals that have been feared and reviled historically, but that ignorance can't be treated as stupidity- those guys aren't stupid.  They certainly aren't stupid about supply and demand- their customers are in fucking China, usually- and if you say "hey, wait wait, this could be a business but you have to stop killing and start being custodial", that could be a huge opportunity for a species like elephants and rhinos, AND it could be a huge opportunity for the humans in the area too.

The nature of trophy hunting means that it is rigorously regulated, because it can be taxed and will generate revenue anyway, and there are actually population problems with endangered animals that necessitate some portion of them to be killed so as to not pose a danger to the actual breeding population- the classic example is straggler male lions, which have the benefit of being extremely popular trophies AND extremely disastrous if left near breeding females, because the lion breeding strategy is to kill all the competing male's cubs so the females all stop lactating and go into heat, and then start fucking them all, which in lions involves a lot of fighting and biting, causing some percentage of females to die every generation breeding cycle.  So if you left the male population unchecked, you'd get a population that would grow quickly until the males started overcompeting and killing the females off faster than they are reproducing, and the population collapses- and best case scenario, you're down to square one + the first generation of inbreeding.

Take that, and realize the male lions make enough money to hire, train, and equip expert game wardens, civilian and in government services, who are custodians over large free-ranging but segregated wild lion populations, from which the troublesome males are segregated off and hunted, and the revenues generated pay for the sustenance of the whole population. Because while these are wild animals, it is a breeding program, and so a steady supply of food is always available whether it's naturally available or not, from purchased livestock meat and so on.

But do I hunt? No, I don't. I don't like killing animals, it isn't fun for me, although I can and have. The day I am writing this, I killed a spider and was angry about it, because I half-crushed it on accident and didn't want to leave it to suffer, folded in half on a counter top, and so I finished it off. I like shooting- not killing. I have shot birds - they did not suffer, but I do not remember the experience fondly. I am even copious about killing the brain of a fish before I gut it, and the science seems to back this up- the stress hormones of an animal in distress actually make it taste bad, whether that's a lobster or a cow.  So even though I for example oppose all notions of "Islam" as despicable fairytales that have been shamefully inflicted on Arab culture, I have no problem admitting that by keeping Halal- which has specifications about the extent to which the animal can suffer, and an ideal for minimizing that for general purposes of food, at least- can produce some reliably excellent quality meat.

So that's my two cents, why I think we should all stop being dicks to each other about this discussion. Hunters, nonhunters don't get it. They just don't. Don't listen to a colorblind art critic's bitching about the rainbow they can't see all of. Nonhunters, not seeing what someone else sees does not mean you are inferior. People are different, you are different, you may have made different decisions about how you might address problems like animal suffering or food production, but your opportunities are not universally available.  Not because I think assholes should have a social way to torture animals, but because people trying not to be assholes should have an outlet that tortures animals less than the ones we use for food and treats them, before and after death, more respectfully.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Doesn't designing guns automatically mean you're an asshole with no regards for life?

In a word, fuck no.

*Editing notice: this is a draft that is getting refined into final form, pictures videos and visual aids are still being added.*

So, this topic is a can of worms, and I see too many people arguing on all sides about it- and with valid arguments on all sides, which rather than making things clearer, makes it harder to be objective. There are real costs to every trade-off regarding this, and I have had to think long and hard about this, from the perspective of the set of knowledge that I have, and so I've decided to break the silence and become more open about this, what it is, what it means, why I did and still do it sometimes, and what can come next and which section of the 'next' I'm optimistic and worried about.

First, why guns?

Well, they're fun.  They're fun to disassemble and reverse engineer; they're fun to handle, psychologically, because of how our brains evolved.  They're incredibly fun to shoot, especially if you can shoot well- but they're incredibly fun to shoot even if you've never done it or are terrible at it.

So I see fun, so long as it does not put an undue burden on anybody else, as a valid reason to have something- recreational shooting, so long as you aren't shooting bystanders, should be as legal as alcohol and recreational marijuana, for the same reasons.

Second, aren't guns just for killing?

Yes and no.  It is true that this is the origin and specified intent of guns, but it also needs to be acknowledged that
  1. Guns used to be tools of necessity and mostly aren't anymore.  The change is mostly thanks to mechanized agriculture supplanting much of subsistence hunting, and particularly the technology of the last century- artillery, aircraft, radios, computers, and the lot- have made individual firearms as a viable means of self-defense largely obsolete, especially as the emergence of assymetric warfare has necessitated weapons capable of destroying vehicles and infrastructure, weapons such as IEDs and rocket propelled grenades (which are far simpler than most people realize- a black powder rocket on the back, a fuse on the tip, and a shaped charge inside two cones glued end to end for a warhead- and various types of warheads are available, and even the auto self-destruct that causes these to detonate at 800 meters has been used as improvised airbursts to attack aircraft, particularly helicopters on patrol).  Basically, if you're going to war these days, the guys with the guns are either the guys without a real army, or else they're the cleaning crew to come in and police a scene. Even the SEALS deal with hostage rescue and only shooting bad guys.
  2. Just because they're mostly toys doesn't mean we shouldn't have them. The capacity for humans to play with dangerous machines within acceptable margins of safety, especially where some small segment of experts perform well for the entertainment of others, is already a widely disseminated form of entertainment- look at car and motorcycle racing, for example, or other combat sports. The argument for gun control in spite of recreational shooting is the same argument prohibitionists made against alcohol, the same nonsense spewed against most recreational drug legalization.  The argument to limit features, like magazine size, is understandable but still based on cowardice about the nature of guns, rather than an understanding and acceptance of what they are and a resolve to be responsible about them.  Telling the good guys that they must have a gun that is clunky and difficult to use is an immoral proposition if they must use those guns against bad guys without that engineered disadvantage.  To those bleeding-heart liberals here reading this scoffing about "then everybody could have machine guns and silencers and magically be ninja assassins!"- machine guns have specific uses, should be legal to people who have demonstrated competence and trustworthiness (think "drivers license"), and suppressors shouldn't just be legal, they should be fucking mandatory, as they reduce hearing damage, increase bullet stability, facilitate communication, NONE of them make the bullet silent (particularly bigger faster bullets that make a bigger 'splash' as they go through the air, because that 'splash' of air is the source of part of the sound of a gunshot, the same way lightning makes thunder), and they reduce the recoil and make the gun longer AND make it more obvious which direction it's pointing AND the extra length keeps the muzzle further away from hands and face.  Silencers don't make you a killer, they make your gun safer and you less of an asshole- and in some places in Europe now, hunting without them is banned for all these reasons and then some.

    Perspective: the guy who invented the firearm silencer was the son of a machine gun inventor, and he also took his silencer and put it on the then-new car engine and called it a 'muffler'.
  3. There is virtually no possibility of effective gun control, nor will there be, ever.  The only thing that can stop a human motivated human from making or buying a gun is death. Guns are sufficiently easy to improvise that the bad guys gun control is intended to keep them away from remain largely unaffected by bans, either because of black market supply of existing manufactured guns, or of the opportunity of smaller manfacturers to improvise guns, and the examples of this I know of off-hand include everything from single-shot guns being made in US prisons in the late 20th century to white supremacists in the US making "AK Pistols" with scrounged parts, including rubber bands as a 'main spring' to close the bolt, to the plethora of Luty home-made submachine guns being confiscated by Australian police these days, to the the improvised weapons captured by the Russians in the Chechnyan conflict, to the entire illegal city economies of Danao, in the Philippines, and Darra, in Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan- two cites where the literal backbone of the economy is otherwise generally unskilled and uneducated people making varying quality of working firearms, from scratch, with hand tools

    I've personally made a small improvised rifling machine with a bench vise, a cold-rolled steel tube, a long plank as a bed to mount the barrel on, and a block with a pin to guide the tube. This shit is NOT rocket science.
  4. Since we can't get rid of guns, we have no choice but to be responsible with and about them instead.  Since we can't completely keep them out of the hands of bad guys, we need to keep them available to the good guys to shoot back with, or else grow the fuck up about giving them to robots to shoot at the bad guys for us, because if that's happening, then it's literally as simple as the robots only needing to shoot at people with guns to keep the rest of us safe, and their efficiency at it now already renders human-driven combat obsolete.
  5. Without the technology of firearms, much of the modern world would not have been possible.  Making firearms is not rocket science, but the development of firearms, starting in the 12th century with the introduction of gunpowder to Eastern Europe and the Middle East and the first sort-of-cannon-things shooting rocks at walls, paved the way for first greater quality metallurgy and materials science. As parts became more reliable and safer, they got smaller and more usable by single men. As the expertise in making these parts increased, new tools were developed that allowed greater and greater precision of manufacture.  In fact, one of the most important advancements was in using threaded rods- like on a screw or bolt- to control moving tools back and forth, since moving to the same place time after time was reduced to a problem of turning the rod the same number of times to move a piece across a tool, or a tool across a piece.  This in turn allowed for greater precision of tools, allowing us to correct smaller and smaller errors in manufacture, ultimately giving rise to the logistical possibility of a concept called "economies of scale" by virtue of making repeatable mass production possible- because Firearms are the highest-performance mass-produced machine currently produced by the human species.  Computers are higher precision, but have few or no moving parts, only very occasionally contain explosives or projectiles.  Rockets and engines are higher performance, but are not mass-produced on the same scale, especially when you consider the scale of precision and the scale of manufacture of ammunition, which typically has a margin of error of +/-0.003, or approximately the width of a piece of phonebook paper, between a usable cartridge and a catastrophic explosive failure (well, depending on a lot of things, especially how much gun, bullet, case, and powder there are and how they're configured when the powder starts to ignite).

So how did I get into this?
When I was 18, I was up watching a movie in my house alone, and somebody egged my window. I heard the first egg hit and looked and couldn't process it, and the second and third hit as I watched, and I didn't process it for a second, until I remembered having heard of it (if you haven't, "egging a window" means "throwing an egg at somebody's window"). My reaction was to go in my dad's closet, get his shotgun, bring it out, and try to figure out how to take the lock off it, and fail utterly. That experience made me realize- anything can happen, the best civilization can do to a situation is react quickly, and I didn't have any capacity to respond in kind if shit hit fans.

I don't remember if it was the next day exactly, but more or less immediately I bought my first gun, a Ruger Mini-14.  It's a great gun and I won't disrespect it, it functioned well, and I put a few thousand rounds through it happily over the next year and a half before leaving for Thailand- you can read about that elsewhere on here- and, in taking apart my gun for maintenance, I became familiar with how the individual parts matched up, what each part was doing, and how they all worked together, and it also provided a test-bed for creating models of how to think about different things, like material interactions, or how explosions progress through a compustible material and expand it into a large compressed gas, or how the shockwave of the impact of the energy of recoil of the shot propagates through the body of a weapon and moves the weapon, the bullet, the shooter, etc, in slow motion, what the stresses are on the pieces of metal holding a door on the ass of a pipe bomb until the big piece of shrapnel goes past the explosion valve at the front end of the pipe and lets the 'BOOM' hit a piston and drive the firearm's engine to reload itself.

The opportunity, via shooting clubs and particularly machine gun clubs and a marine delayed entry program, to inspect, fire, and even in some cases disassemble a wide variety of venerable and then-modern firearms (for military buffs the m16a2 was still standard issue) exposed me not only to the guns but the culture of discipline surrounding them- how to use them safely, down to the specifics of "how do you stand, sit, kneel, squat, and bend over when you're carrying a rifle, so that you don't accidentally point it at somebody?"- which is the sort of detail that I think is not visible enough for outsiders, especially with the visibility stupid assholes with guns are able to gain. I also want to specify- this was not my original introduction to gun safety, but as with any skill, the safe and effective handling of a firearm increases with practice- and these guys gave me the model, and I put my own time in on it substantially.

So this is what I want to convey to outsiders; I like shooting, and I do not like killing, although I can kill and live with it.  I do not hunt for sport. What shooting I do for recreation falls into the most common category of shooting, casually referred to as "plinking", but you might think of it as "target practice", since that's the most common form ("Plinking" refers to the "plink" sound of a bullet hitting a can).  In fact, the sort shooting I advocate for is generally of a non-lethal variety, and directly comparable to sports like boxing, racing, golf, or anything else where individuals or team.  I am also a fan of IPSC ("International Pistol-Shooting Competition", which is also an Olympic sport.