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Messages - Cain

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Techmology and Scientism / Re: Insect Taxonomic FAIL
« on: January 26, 2009, 01:34:23 pm »
Sounds similar to Alan Sokal, a physicist who wrote some gibberish and sent it in to Social Text.  Who then went on to make his own amusing error by concluding this proved all post-structuralism was bunk, and not just the editors of Social Text, who admittedly were idiots.

Principia Discussion / Re: What do you REALLY believe?
« on: January 26, 2009, 01:17:11 pm »
Since Martin Luther.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Verwirrung Blog roundtable discussion
« on: January 26, 2009, 01:13:34 pm »
Well I was planning on waiting, because its Lewis Carroll's birthday and all sorts of blogs will be doing crazy and different things on that day.  It seems a good day for the launch.

I'll create a category called CRAZY PREPARED for you as well.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: Verwirrung Blog roundtable discussion
« on: January 26, 2009, 12:01:55 pm »
Still, its pretty cool. 

Basically,I want Verwirrung to be a vehicle both for things Discordians/Subgenii/Mutants/etc would like, but also a vehicle for expressing your own interests and areas of expertise.  That's why I want good material, and to raise the profile, because then it becomes a relatively high profile platform, allowing you to further your own agendas via the power of Web 2.0....whatever those agendas and aims may be.

Also, has everyone decided on a name for your given area of interest?  Like Iason with ChaoSkeptic?  Just that when we launch tomorrow, I was going to do a big page introducing everyone and what they will be writing about, as well as updating the About page with that information.  Just a paragraph on your interest and, if you want, contact details for people to leave you links or hints or angry emails telling you that you suck etc

For example, my draft introduction.


Hi, I'm Cain.  You may remember me from such posts as "LSD or Opiates - which is best for watching the Presidential election coverage with?", "Putin is the ultimate Bond Villain and Final Boss of the Internet" and, the now infamously banned essay "Dick Cheney wears a gimp mask and eats live puppies".  Anyway, most of you will know me, either from my posts here, on my old blog, the PFLD, or from the PD forums.  My own little section on the blog, "Tactical Polyvalence", will concentrate on politics, warfare and economics.  I'll try not to report on the most obvious and covered stories of the day, but the back-room deals, the advances in weapon technology, the attempts at sneaking through legislation and other underreported events.  Though I cannot promise I wont occasionally take cheap pot-shots at idiot bloggers and journalists, on slow days.

Big Trouble in Little China
Casino Royale (original version)
Flash Gordon
Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare
Hulk (2003)
Shark Attack 3 Megalodon
Planet Terror
Road House
Manos The Hands Of Fate
The Beast Of Yucca Flats
Poultrygeist: Night of the Living Chicken
Reefer Madness
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians,

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: The nation-state as protection racket
« on: January 25, 2009, 10:44:08 pm »
I came across it before, but just read it again now.  The point about investments is, of course, highly prescient.

(link for those who haven't read it

Regret: he actually defines rent protection in the article as "The amount the customers benefit gain from the protection of their interests less the amount they pay for it."  In other words, if peace costs $2000 in taxes per month, but you can make $500,000 a month because its peaceful, then the system is paying off.  If, however, the system fails due to overcharging, or not protecting you as well as it claimed to...

Or Kill Me / Re: Short rant on CLIMATE CHANGE.
« on: January 25, 2009, 09:26:29 pm »
Unless the environment changes.

I don't like the word successful much in terms of evolution. Too short term. The dinosaurs were sucessful, in terms of numbers of species and how ubiquitous they were. Then you reach the K-T boundary and those old forms haven't been around since. The progeny are doing pretty well right now, Mammals and Birds, but its yet to be seen how it will turn out.

Horseshoe crabs haven't changed much for the past 300 million years but they live in a very stable environment, continental shelves and such. If that were to change quickly they wouldn't have a chance.

If dinosaurs were so successful, they would have evolved into the Tarraesque and survived being hit by a meteor (or anything else for that matter).

I actually planned on being a paleontologist once upon a time, even before the Jurassic Park films came out.  However, I still stand by my words: if dinosaurs had evolved to withstand interplanetary impact, I would have respected them much more.  Evolutionary n00bs.

Or Kill Me / Re: Shut the fuck up.
« on: January 25, 2009, 09:21:55 pm »
You sound like you've got it all down pretty well.  I thought you would do, you seemed to know what you were on about, but its always nice to make sure.

Or Kill Me / Re: Suu shits hate on Myspace
« on: January 25, 2009, 09:20:31 pm »
Yeah.  The hypocrisy is funny.  I find it hilarious.

Not least because most people have usernames dating back at least a couple of years, and, well.... 8)

Yeah, I've had fun throwing their own words in their faces.

Cheap and easy entertainment.  So far, the best IRL example has been Rush Limbaugh, who is apparently down on Obama not because he's a jumped up halfrican American, but because of his policies, namely that he socialized the banks.

In September 2008.   :lol:

Or Kill Me / Re: 2012
« on: January 25, 2009, 09:18:26 pm »
I like the Daniel Pinchbeck approach.  So many people believe something will happen, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  All it will take is the right person, at the right place, with the right message and that potential discharges into something real.

Or Kill Me / Re: Suu shits hate on Myspace
« on: January 25, 2009, 09:15:59 pm »
Yeah.  The hypocrisy is funny.  I find it hilarious.

Not least because most people have usernames dating back at least a couple of years, and, well.... 8)

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / Re: The nation-state as protection racket
« on: January 25, 2009, 09:08:43 pm »
I've been reading a lot of Charles Tilly lately.  One of my main areas of interest is how the state essentially monopolized non-state violence (mercernaries and pirates, who used to do all the real fighting) and how that it is reversing.

For instance, one of the reasons for the rise of mercenary armies in Europe was that it was too expensive to maintain a standing army, it was much easier to buy one, pre-made, and roll with it.  Especially due to the rules which bound feudal society, which essentially left knights with 84 days of the year they could actually fight on (so long as they didn't use: crossbows, great big spiked balls, poisoned weapons or a whole host of other techniques which also constrained them).  Equally, asking a knight to go to war on behalf of his lord meant he would make an economic loss, because he'd call up the serfs etc who worked his land.  Even looting etc wouldn't really make up for this loss.

The downside was, of course, it gave people like Albrecht von Wallenstein, or William Kidd, more power and men under arms than the kingdoms of Europe, or the colonies of North America.

Not surprisingly, the rise of modern mercenaries, private military companies, has also coincided with an increase in the cost of warfare.  Multiple studies have shown that, despite their incredible contract fees, companies like Blackwater are still distinctly cheaper to field than US armed forces. 

This also overlaps with the theory of Hedley Bull, to a degree, who argues that globalization has in effect created a new medievalism, with its overlapping non-state authorities.  The cause and effect, as well as associated processes, are still very much up for debate.

Literate Chaotic / Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« on: January 25, 2009, 02:30:21 pm »
He was Foucault's philosophy teacher at one point, as well.  That was where I first heard of him, and since then I snagged a couple of e-book downloads about his work.  Its more of an introduction and explanation, though I'm sure if I dug around I could find the actual books as well.

Literate Chaotic / Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« on: January 25, 2009, 01:27:24 pm »
He was a great philosopher, I hear.  Very influential in existentialism and postmodernism.  I have some stuff of his, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Think for Yourself, Schmuck! / The nation-state as protection racket
« on: January 25, 2009, 01:01:30 pm »

Diving into military theory (again).

A core dynamic behind the emergence of the nation-state was it's ability to run a successful protection business (aka racket).  A system that has been growing since the treaties of Westphalia in the 1600s.  The protection business is relatively simple:

   1. It is a monopoly.  It has exclusive ownership over the use of violence.  As a monopoly, it must crush all internal competitors. 
   2. It defends its monopoly from outside interests -- as in warfare with nation-state and non-state competitors.
   3. It charges the customers (individuals and businesses) within its geographical areas of control for this service.  This isn't optional.  Customers presumably benefit from this protection. 

Historically Successful Protection Rackets

So what made the nation-state formula for protection so superior to its competitors during its ascent over the last 400 years?   It's simple.  It delivered value to its customers.  Let's dive into this with a paper by Charles Tilly (War Making and State Making as Organized Crime).  He cites the economic historian Frederic Lane's simple formula for success:

    * The protection monopoly must generate tributes in excess of the costs necessary to maintain it's monopoly. 
    * The protection monopoly must generate protection rents for its customers.  The amount the customers benefit gain from the protection of their interests less the amount they pay for it.
    * Both tributes and protection rents must be positive for long term success.  Further, the nation-state that minimized protection tributes in favor of maximizing protection rents grew the fastest (historically, that was partly accomplished through economies of scale).   

The Status of Modern Protection Rackets

The protection formula broke down in the latter half of the 20th Century as the nation-state became more complex.  Key elements of this breakdown include:

    * First, the advent of nuclear weapons made full scale war impossible (van Creveld). 
    * Second, the emergence of a global marketplace with global property rights meant that the commercial interests of the nation-state's remaining customers became more powerful than nation-state's interests.  This restricted/limited warfare even more.
    * The result has been a slow unraveling of the nation-state's ability to maintain it's monopoly over violence (and much more) within and outside its geographical borders.  This has created a gap in protection at the local level into which small violent groups are now quickly converging.  Finally, there is additional evidence that the economies of scale that drove the growth of earlier protection monopolies has broken down.

What this Means

It's likely that small groups that emerge to seize local control (as in, create a TAZ), will eventually converge on the successful protection model (delineated above).  In fact, we have already seen this shift with groups as diverse in origin as the Sendero Luminoso to the Taliban to the Zetas to MEND.  These groups will be successful in so far as they:

    * Stay decentralized and cooperative (re: opposition to the state) to ensure protection efficiency.   There are few economies of scale in this environment given the leverage offered by globalization and the presence of legacy nation-states as barriers to growth.
    * Generate positive protection rents for their customers.  Deliver value.  Protection monopolies that expand into the core businesses of its customers will become vulnerable and inefficient.  Expand the business interests of customers by eliminating competition when possible and ensuring market access.  Charge competitive rates and not monopoly rents (sufficient tribute but not excessive).
    * Diversify.  To maximize potential tributes while still delivering accelerating protection rents to customers, a protection racket should expand its customer list.  This means extending protection from drug smuggling to generic smuggling (across the entire range of potential goods) to generic commercial activity (standard corporate and small business interests).  Create a vibrant local commercial environment across the entire spectrum of potential activity.

A copy of Tlly's paper is available here

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