the apple and the cookie

You walk into room with a table.  On that table, on a silver plate set out for you, are a cookie and an apple.

You will probably eat the cookie first.

The cookie is far easier to eat, and sweeter.

In fact, if you walk into the room and there’s only an apple, you may not bother eating it at all, unless you are particularly hungry.

As long as there are cookies around, Apples don’t seem so great.

But there’s something important lurking here: cookies don’t make you any happier.  If anything, in the long run, they cause problems vs. apples.  Despite knowing this, you’ll preferentially eat them, anyways.

If cookies disappeared from the face of the earth, it really wouldn’t affect your long term happiness.

Now… suppose you walk into a room, and on the table is an interesting book… and a game console…

Technology is a jealous god.  An invisible force that controls our lives.  A global tyrant.

Technology destroys our societies from within.  Yet, without it, we are weak and defenseless, and would be destroyed from the outside.

If you are interested in the long-term outcome of a society, that is the situation you must face.

elitism

Geographical elites

The only actual elites of a modern nation are people who were born into power, or fought their way into power.  Either way, they have to fight every day to stay elite, and by necessity are specialists.

They live and breathe money and influence.  They are extremely socially intelligent.  They become high-level government officials, lobbyists, board members and executive officers of powerful corporations, diplomats, etc.

This model tends to hold, in a fractal manner, down to lower and lower scopes(state, regional, city, school/workplace).  Those most skilled and dedicated to social influence and status occupy the most secure and prestigious positions, within any given geographic scope.

Subcultural elites: elites in the general case.

Given any arbitrary grouping of individuals into a group G, there exists a function B(defined by consensus) which maps individuals into a “belonging” score, based on their attributes.

With a very high degree of probability, anyone aspiring to be a member of G, will want that function to assign them the highest possible belonging score.  This is pretty core to how social creatures work, and a good percentage of our evolutionary energy has gone into this.

They do this in many ways:

  1. Optimizing their actual attributes such that the function(or more specifically, the function as they perceive it) assigns them a high belonging score.
  2. Find ways of portraying their relevant attributes in a more favorable way than is real, or portraying the relevant attributes of others in a more negative way than is real.
  3. Attempting to change the function to better suit their attributes(real or inflated), and more poorly suit the perceived attributes of others.

Method 1 is fairly innocuous.

Method 2 is neither fair, nor legitimate, in the general case, but is incredibly common.

Method 3 is pretty common in arbitrarily-defined groups, since the belonging function itself is often somewhat arbitrary.

Using this general framework, it seems possible to me, at the moment, to understand and predict social behavior and change within the context of subcultures.

Defining Elitism

Elitism within this framework then, is perhaps, those people who are not satisfied with merely being within the herd, but want to be at the center of the herd, and(by necessity) to push others further from the center of the herd.

Subcultures are quite often populated by people who were unable or unwilling to belong in the natural, geographical culture, at any level.

They may be simply looking for a group to belong to, or they may be looking for a group they can dominate(a game they can win).  It depends on their nature.

The elitists want to win.

Whether winning at that particular game even makes sense, given the varied nature of subcultures, is uncertain, but it is certain that many people want to win at all costs.

In every breath

Why am I saying what I’m saying?

Is it inescapable?  Can I say anything unbiased by the desire to belong?  To persuade?  To, in some way, manipulate?

It seems there are rare people who don’t care, but I am certainly not one of those people.

But, in any case, I think this is one of those things that hurts less when you understand it.

I would like to be honest.  I want to be someone who would rather lose than play dirty.

Maybe because I still want God, who I don’t believe in, to like me.

the seed

I think that if you:

  1. Believe in the existence of other people, and that they are creatures who experience pleasure and pain just like you.
  2. Believe that you are no more worthy than anyone else.
  3. Feel bad if others feel bad.

that all other essential morality can be logically derived.

If you have this essential seed, and you are able to correct your behavior as you gain knowledge and experience in different kinds of relationships with people, you will grow into a good person in many different ways.

1 is kind of a bridge between emotion and reason.  It’s axiomatic, in that it’s something that must simply be accepted, but it’s easy to accept.  If you strongly feel 2 and 3, it’s definitely the safest choice.

As for 2 and 3, I suspect primary caregiver before the age of 5 is probably the most significant factor, followed by genetics.

If you don’t feel 2 and 3, then it’s logically acceptable to conclude that morality is silly.

If you feel 2 and 3, and still believe that morality is silly, then you have probably rationalized something you should not have, or simply haven’t thought things through all the way.

If you feel 2 and 3, then the realization that others often act immorally and get away with it really shouldn’t affect your morals at all.  You inherently do not, and can not, derive pleasure in winning something at the expense of others.

There are a few things in life that are inherently competitive, like getting a job, or fighting a war.  In times like those, you can still take comfort in doing so fairly, though you may take no pleasure in winning.

There are times and situations where people who do not follow 1-3 can be safely relied upon to do specific things: they have something to gain by doing so.  But they cannot be trusted for anything else.

Maybe the moral ground isn’t high or low ground, and maybe morality isn’t quite the right word for it then, either.  But it is certainly a different ground.

I feel it’s a beautiful ground.  Not of perfect people, but of people who strive to be perfect.  It’s permanently under siege, and it doesn’t seem to last forever, but it’s wonderful while it lasts.

Unexpected Consequences

“Would you leave your child alone with your pit bull?”

In addition to being the verbal equivalent of an incendiary grenade, such a question is a great starting point for exploring a whole host of problems stemming from living in a society that is willfully and proudly ignorant.

It turns out that, in this day and age, they’re probably better off with a mild-mannered pitbull they’ve grown up with, than cute, but increasingly-sketchy retrievers.  Things were better when wealthy individuals made a hobby of perfecting dog breeds for various purposes.

Tame creatures are kind of messed up to begin with, for reasons too complex to go into here.

This, however, begs the question: “Why are we leaving small children alone with animals?”

I used to watch Animal Planet a lot, and you’d often see the only child, or the distantly youngest child in a family,  lounging about with the family dog.  Their companion since they were born.  Maybe their only companion.  Maybe the only thing that touches them, or interacts with them.

And I smiled, because I love strange things.  And if there’s anything stranger than animals who’ve imprinted on humans, it’s humans imprinted on animals:

Furries.

Of all creatures wild and wonderful, it’s intelligent furries that I love the most.

Mobile Hand Platform

Look at your hands in front of a mirror.  That’s some amazing hardware.

Fundamentally, we are a mobile hand platform, with a sophisticated sensor package mounted above and between the hand positioners.

How would you even go about programming a robot hand to reach into a pocket and grab your keys, while not grabbing or dislodging your wallet, and not scratching or spilling your smartphone?  You can do that without even thinking about it.

I think our hands are as amazing and wondrous as anything in the world.

前の鏡で手を見えましょう…すごいハードウェアですよね!

人間は簡単に手のために移動台のようだ。

ポケットが財布とケイタイと鍵を含んでも、ケイタイか財布を落とさないで鍵を出しやすい。

人間の手は世界に一番すごいことの一つだ、と思います。

 

one thing well

Focus is the only way to do something well.

If you can’t rely on society, you must be passably good at everything, and you will excel at nothing.

Law is a very poor, extremely expensive, and extremely inefficient substitute for trust.

優秀が出来るように、専修になるといえるでしょう。

社会に頼れないのなら、何にでもできなければいけません。それに、なにもよくできませんと思います。

他の人の信頼の代わりには、法律がすごく高くて非効率で惨めだと思います。