Tag Archives: humanity

On sovereignty:

Sovereignty is defined as absolute or supreme power (of self-direction). It’s used contemporarily as a state’s ability to self-determine. Recently there has been a push in the north of Spain (Catalonia region) for sovereignty, a push that have been called illegal by Spain, and most EU countries have said they will not recognize an independent Catalonia. It begs the question: What should the criteria be for self-determination of a “people” or county? Currently it’s clearly might makes right, in essence only groups that can martial the economic and martial forces to cast off others are “sovereign nations”, but is that ideal?

Why would a people saying they have a right to self-determination prompt a large show of force and condemnation form the most liberal, pro-democracy part of the world? Like most things it mostly boils down to who gets what… Currently the region is a major economic powerhouse, and Spain is the 3rd largest economy in the EU; losing that would be a major hit to Spain, and may even compromise the finical solvency of the country, so it’s seen as self-preservation. For the other countries, most have regions themselves that like Catalonia are economically strong and stand to gain from secession. None want a precedent set.

So leadership, by and large wants to keep countries big and people (by and large) want self-determination… Historically disagreements between the two have resulted in horrific, bloody affairs (Think Kosovo). What is the ideal?

I think the answer is contingent on the answer to a basic question, are we our brother’s keeper? I’ve address that one here, but setting those thoughts on the matter aside; if we are our brother’s keeper than there is really no sovereignty – he is beholden to us, and conversely, we to him. The most basic interpretation of sovereignty is “I’ll do what I like, you have no say”. It is truly as anti-social as ideas come, that one (individual or nation or anything in between) is not beholden to anything else, and free to act as it sees fit. Looking at sovereignty in this matter there is a basic truth to it; as individuals we are free at all times to do as we like; at least for now if I wish to start tossing out haymakers in the market I very well can but that kind of freedom is as dangerous as it is natural. The ideal is likely the same for individuals as it is for nations, humanity at large is not served by my market punches nor would it be served by the national equivalent (war). The other extreme is as (if not more) frightening- not having that freedom…

Imagine that each though we had, as we had it was evaluated by a 3rd party. If that system also had the ability to alter or arrest such thoughts, it could be used to ensure all actions by all people met a standard. But would the people of that system be free or sovereign? (we are already working hard to understand how to connect thoughts to computers, hardware-wetware interface is in the pipes… so this may be a topic with very real consequences soon enough…) regardless, I see that as the extremes- absolute freedom/ sovereignty, absolutely no freedom/ sovereignty. So again; where is the idea?

It should hinge on consent! Once humanity is technologically advanced to the point where any one of us can fudge things up for the rest (more so than currently at least) it will be incumbent on society to offer at least 2 (likely more) levels of involvement/ awareness: for those who reject the notions of cooperation little to no involvement (or access to knowledge that would enable them to be dangerous). For those who do, a mental monitor and unlimited access. The first group would have their sovereignty, but lack capability to do harm and the 2nd would have capability to do harm, but not the sovereignty to use it unilaterality. The system would be best as a dynamic, real time affair: as moods and opinions change one could move to the group that suits them best. It would maximize both freedom and safety.

Ultimately as individuals we have a level of sovereignty that will always be at odds with others, however protecting that freedom ( to a degree) is in the interest of all; it is at or close to the heart of human experience, and losing it would represent a form of oppression humanity as we know could not co-exist with. As for Spain, it may be better to show love for their sister state and courage to face the fallout than leveraging power to deny a (or any) people the freedom they deserve.


On the lowest common dominator:

One bad egg spoils the batch, ruining it for everyone ect… The idea I’m harping on today is the least common dominator, that smallest bit that still fits and how it’s bad when the actions of everyone else are based on that small group. ( I know that’s not the mathematical correct use… forgiveness please.)  Ex: Notice those yellow concrete pylons around businesses, infrastructure ect? Those did not exist when wagons and the 1st automobiles rolled out,  it was not until some lowest common dominators plowed their vehicles into important stuff that they sprung up, (and with the recent rash of people plowing vehicles into people we will likely be seeing more). They are a visceral daily reminder that (intentional or not) people drive into stuff. I’m not of the opinion they are bad, just a sign that people in general are poor at planning and how when faced with large problems tend to focus instead on small ones.

Like people crashing into stuff, there are accidents/ tragedies happing today that have yet to get their practical solution, and far more troubling are the accidents/ tragedies that may be coming down the pipes. Moreover the short sighted solutions used to prevent tomorrows tragedies will (if history is any guide) be horrific to present day sensibilities. Do you like others to have access to all your thoughts? It’s coming. Do you want literally all the technology you use to be remotely shut down by someone else? We’re ½ way there already.  Personally I don’t take much issue with either, (I personally think there is much to gain by having all thoughts recorded, logged and searchable) but my point is this: When we let the least common denominator dictate our actions it prompts short sighted, knee jerk solutions that are bad.

Leaving the Sci-fi behind and getting back to my first example the pylons, there are many ways to prevent people from driving into important stuff: stop producing cars, have all cars equipped with a 5 MPH governor, require 2-3 years of training before issuing licenses, and so on, those are all bad ideas. Restricting freedom in favor of safety is not a new idea, and the trade-off is always painted by those in power as a good one. The catch is it never is, not once. Solutions that are dictated by the LCD have in the past, and as far as I can tell always will only address a facet of larger problems. That’s the rub, people running their cars into stuff is a problem for stuff owners, so they put up pylons, but now we have issues with people running their cars into people, do we put up pylons everywhere people gather? (Possibly)… but there are 2 larger problems at play the 1st I see is humans propensity for accidents, the 2nd some people’s desire to do harm. There may be a solution where it is worth trading freedom to solve one of those 2 big guys, but not the multitude of little problems that spring from them individually.

When we let a small group dictate the actions of the entire population (regardless if it’s a dictator/oligarchy, person with a gun, people with bombs ect.) it leads to bad policy and suffering. It matters not what the small group is (Lawmakers, terrorist, zealots ect…) the narrow focus that always comes with small groups inevitably leads to short sighted solutions.  So ware the LCD, they are never specific problems that need solution (though that’s exactly how they feel) they are merely early warning signs of larger problems we need to focus on together.

So next time you see one of those pylons, take a second and think: Are they a solution to people crashing into stuff, or a sign that humanity takes the quick and easy solution far too often.

On Equality of access

The impact of access (or lack thereof) is immense. Being able to directly interact, command the time and attention of an individual can be a catalyst for change, a source of information or even a life line. It’s importance is hard to understate, to illustrate take an example of building a fence:

A fairly simple process as far as land development activities go. Like everything else money comes first, then finding a contractor, then building. Every step of that process can be eased by access to the right people:

Money: Anyone who knows me has access to 1$ (that’s about all I’m good for most days), but there are a select few who know people with FAR greater amounts of money, and far greater complicity to dole it out. Not that people are usually appreciate of being hit up for cash, but it happens all the time. People who have access to billionaires don’t go to the bank for 10k loans, indeed people who know the .001% are usually others in the .001%. For those of us who don’t have access to someone like that, the next step would be a bank (or community organization). Even there access is key, I assure you meeting the owner of a bank for a loan (when the meeting was setup by your billionaire friend) is a decided different experience that meeting with the loan officer at the local branch. Who you deal with is as important as what is being dealt.

Contractor: The CEO of a major company generally do not take orders or work with a single customer (when there are millions of customers there is not enough time). Major clients can usually get face time with the PIC though. The difference is service is staggering (think call center customer service vs concierge)

From getting a zoning variance to getting a transplant, who you have access to is critical, and (took a while, but getting to the point) in government we need to have equal access! All our public officials’ time should be handled by a lottery type system, having the .001 % and those they hire command the attention of our most powerful leaders is detrimental to a fair democratic process. What we get is just another facet of corruption.  (Spending time with the ultra-rich to the determent of the rest of us is a corrupt practice in my opinion)  Should our officials be free to spend their time with whoever they like? NO! Hell no!  They are given power by the masses for the betterment of the masses, in accepting power far beyond that of a normal citizen they should likewise accept limitations on their freedom far in excess of a normal person.

There are some simple things we can do to turn the tide: Make all communication of elected officials public, have all campaigns publicly funded, Prohibit political ads.  Looking further out: Rework entire legal system to eliminate legalese, have easy to understand laws (and just a few of them), add a boat load of government employees.

The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is as true today as when it was first uttered. Sadly with the common practice of “closed door” meetings, the insanely disproportionate involvement of the super wealthy in government and a few thousand years of history, I don’t think this is an issue that will resolve itself.

THE problem…

A bit longer and more Ranty than my normal fair, but sometimes it’s good to look at the big picture.

Ok the world is a fairly complex place, I do not believe there is a person alive who understands the complex interactions of billions of people at same time. So I believe that most of us don’t have the capacity to really understand how the world works, however I also believe that our goals as people or rather as humans are pretty much the same.  We all wish to eat we all wish to fuck we all wish to poop, please excuse vulgarity of that statement but it’s so very true.  Now I’m not advocating a hedonistic lifestyle but  I do think that there are basic human things that bind us  all together one of which is the need for food.  Another one would probably be need for water.  Taken in a vacuum I think that every person would consent to being fed and watered and clothed and cared for and at least on some level every human would agree that being fed and clothed and cared for was “good” the problem as I see it and I do see it as just one problem is mainly a problem of ignorance.  As a species we need to have a discussion on exactly which kinds of freedoms we can abide, because there some expressions of freedom that will enhance humanity as a whole and there are other expressions of freedom that will work to our detriment.  I think this is a good place for an example.  Drunk driving, I think all of us can agree that driving drunk is a problem I say that it is simply an expression of the problem.  So just as a baseline I’m sure we all know what drunk driving is but for the purposes here I will define it simply as operating a motor vehicle when the individual knows or at least in a sober state would know it is not safe to do so.  The actual source of the problem though is that carnage caused by driving drunk, not necessarily drinking and driving.  Now if I were all powerful and wish to solve this problem I could simply eliminate cars, or eliminate alcohol.  Or simply make people invincible, all of these are solutions if realized would cause the problem of drunk driving to cease to exist.  Thankfully I am not all powerful so the solutions we have to work with will have to be confined to things that humanity can accomplish.  I think history has proven fairly clearly that getting rid of alcohol or motor vehicles is simply not going to happen, so how did humanity solve this problem?  We did what humans do, we took the path of least resistance.

Drunk driving laws, function as a deterrent.  They are in place to provide incentive or motivation to not drive drunk but they do not physically prevent collisions, and here we are starting to get to my point.  The real problem of drunk driving is that there exist individuals who are willing and able to drive drunk.  And while drunken driving legislation can put a dent in the number of these individuals to exist it will never eliminate them.  Really to end drunk driving once and for all we just need all individuals to understand why it is a problem.  I argue that the majority of people arrested on drunk driving were not driving drunk with the intent to harm anybody, but rather they were driven by self interest.  So the problem of drunk driving is really an expression of THE problem, which is people not caring enough about other people.  And that can even be interpreted as people simply not thinking about their actions.  And that is THE problem.  I find it hard to believe that there exists in any significant number evil people, I’m sure there are some around but by and large they are not the problem in our society.  As I said in the beginning billions of people simultaneously interacting is an immensely complex system, but rather than try and put artificial constraints on it in a vain effort to categorize everything we should instead focus on the well-being of individuals and keep our efforts on there.  So I see no need, actually quite the contrary I think is a detriment, to have a penal system.  I think penalties or punishment however you wish to phrase it they are the lowest form of persuasion.  Further they are limited in their ability to control behavior, and eye for an eye can sustain a society, but is very far from ideal.

The idea that we should focus on individuals rather than the groups is both frightening and necessary, the history of governance has been a fairly bloody one and has seldom worked out well for most individuals, but we need an individual focus, because a better form of justice would be individual justice, and I know how ludicrous the proposition seems…  Imagine instead of a uniform code of conduct that applies to all people we instead Taylor codes of conduct two individuals as needed, assault is a violent crime, and I hardly recommend using violence at large, however I think there might be benefits to allowing certain eighty year old grandmothers to use their discretion in the matter.

Expanding on the idea of penalty, and I think I’ve spoken on this before, prisons are in general a bad idea.  Rehabilitation is an idea I’d get behind,


So problems exist in different levels, “how” is the level we’re on,” how” would be a representation of the physical.  “Why” would be an expression of level above, the precursor to the problem so to speak, if you wish to solve a problem and you do not have the time or resources to address the why you address the how, this is always and forever a temporary fix.  Until the why is understood in its entirety the problem will persist.  Now solving problems only addressing the “How” can go a long way, going back to our drunk driving example police checkpoint’s, Breathalyzers, age limits, identification requirements all these things are physical how’s to address the drunk driving problem, we have yet as a species to truly address the why of our drunk driving problem, and so while drunk driving has been reduced greatly it will continue to be a problem.

Addressing the Y

Whenever you go to answer why you leave the objective of land of physicality and enter the ethereal realm of morality.  Because the why is an explanation or rationalization of the how.  I think if you want to efficiently address the problem you need to be working in the why, because until you a fully addressed why you do not understand the problem.  To clarify you do not need to understand a problem to define it, anyone who sees the carnage of an automotive crash will know full well there is a problem, but the complete understanding is necessary to stop it from happening again.  The reason I say drunk driving laws are a “how” is because they put physical limits on drunken driving, devices in cars police on the roads physical manifestations.  But we still have drunk drivers and we will continue to have drunk drivers until we address the why, my recommendation is we stop investing almost all of our resources into postponing problems, and we invest more in to actually solving them.  There is a dichotomy here, we could install Breathalyzer the on all motor vehicles, or we can educate the entire population on why drunk driving is a problem, these are two ends of the same line.  The first way has certainty, can be done quickly, and is quite logical.  The second way does not offer as much certainty(this is only because our understanding of physics has progressed further than our understanding of our own physiology) the second way will take more time, as it will require individual attention to everybody.  However the first solution will have tremendous costs, materials, suffering, conflicts.  The second solution will instill value to the society, really the first solution treats humans as animals that must be physically controlled, the second solution treats humans as people capable of controlling their behavior.  all problems can be addressed in a similar manner, we tend to focus on the how because it is immediate and EZ.  However the why of a problem is it’s root, and much like a tree you’ll find if you start tugging on the why of one problem you will eventually get to “the” problem.