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If You Love Bitcoin, Promote Good Altcoins

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:37

Bitcoin spawns strong emotions in people, once they wrap their minds around it. And for good reason, of course: Bitcoin is the future, being born in our midst.

One of the ways this goes off the rails, however, is when people think about Bitcoin in the old way. In particular, they think of the crypto-economy as if it were a zero-sum game. They fear the altcoins (Litecoin, Ethereum and the rest) as competitors… that if the altcoins do well, they’ll steal Bitcoin’s thunder.

If you’re ever tempted to think that way, please reject it and leave it behind. That’s the past struggling against the future, right inside your head.

What we are building is not a monument to Bitcoin and Satoshi, but a new economy… a better, freer, less criminal economy. And please understand, Bitcoin alone cannot do the job. Bitcoin isn’t magic; it’s a tool.

Consider this:

The value of all BTC in existence is $66 billion or so. That’s tiny compared to any major currency. Also consider that the Visa system handles tens of thousands of transactions per second. Bitcoin itself is never going to do that – it’s not that kind of system. Other cryptocurrencies will have to be built for that purpose… or, more likely, they’ll solve that problem in new ways.

What is required is to build a new crypto-economy around Bitcoin. That is where we should be headed, and it will be very good for Bitcoin, which will end up as the central settlement currency between all the new, more specialized cryptocurrencies.

And so, if we want Bitcoin to thrive… and, more importantly, if we want the crypto-economy to thrive… we should be promoting quality altcoins.

Yes, some of the altcoins are plainly scams. Some people will be burned by them. But the good ones are not only good, but necessary.

Check out the currencies you’ll help; make sure they are honest and properly managed. Find the best one or two you can and get involved if possible. (That’s how you’ll really know if they’re good or not.) After that, get busy putting them into the world.

Yes, make money on them if you can, but don’t ever let yourself get dragged into a money-primary mindset. That’s the old world re-asserting itself, with its scarcity-centric mentality. That’s what cryptocurrencies are leading us away from.

So…

Start thinking the new way and start ditching the old way. Scarcity is dying, and one currency need not dominate all others.

If you love Bitcoin, start building a righteous, futuristic economy around it.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The post If You Love Bitcoin, Promote Good Altcoins appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

ROSC 7: The Cloaked Life

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 07:34

The Thursday after my visit to the sanitarium, I showed up early to the TCM lunch at Jay’s Bar. I brought a legal pad and a pen, sat down, and started making notes.

“You look serious this time, Professor.”

I looked up to see Michele handing me a lunch menu.

“Yeah, I picked up another hard problem, and I want the team to help me with it.”

Michele laughed. “I remember you biting off a lot of hard problems before.”

He couldn’t have been more than a teenager the last time I hung out in the back room with the cypherpunks, but he was right. I had always been a sucker for a hot new project.

I laughed too. “I hate to admit it, Michele, but you’re right. I did. I’ve pretty well gotten over that, but I couldn’t turn away from this one. It’s for people who are pretty badly disabled.”

“You and this group are doing something to help those people?” he asked.

“We are, at least as well as we can.”

Just then a couple sat at the bar and his busboy showed up. He turned to go, but before he did, he said, “I’m very glad you do that.”

Soon the group assembled and I explained my problem: that I had a group of people who, because of their infirmities (or disabilities, or whatever their conditions should be called) couldn’t conduct business the usual way and needed to do it entirely in the digital realm.

“They shouldn’t use their real names,” Nikos was quick to say. “Regardless of what they’re doing. There are a lot of feds skulking around these days, and they can make anyone look like a crook if they want to.”

We all nodded our heads in agreement, and I added, “Yeah, that’s their plan. Pseudonyms only.”

“Good,” Nikos said, adding, “And they have to use encryption… all the time… as a default.”

And that set the table into a near uproar, both of agreement and of disgust with the lack of reason on the darknet.

Johnny’s was the voice I noticed most. He said, “Did you see the details of the dark market takedown last month?”

“What about it?” a couple of them asked.

“The feds pulled more than 10,000 unencrypted emails from the system. Unencrypted, while buying drugs! What the hell were these people thinking? There’s some kind of brain virus at work here.” Then he turned to me. “You have to make them use encryption, and if they don’t, you refuse to teach them. Anything else would be crazy.”

I wrote Thunderbird, GPG and Enigmail on my pad and underlined it twice. Then I turned to Esther, whom I knew would be critical in this. “Do you know how to use these tools?”

“No, not really,” she said.

“All right then; this is step number one. Nothing else happens until everyone is using encryption on a daily basis. It’s not hard, but they have to do it. Without encryption, nothing happens.”

Johnny turned to Esther and said, “I can teach you.”

She agreed.

I had been wondering if Johnny was sweet on Esther, and this convinced me. I hope things can work out between them. And they should; pairing off is simply what young men and women do if you get out of their way and let them. We’re all awkward about it, but it happens nonetheless.

Then Jordan, one of the newer people to our group, jumped in.

“And they must never trust Tor nodes. I’m convinced that the feds run most of them.”

“Of that I’m sure,” I added. “Several years ago – right about the time they went after Silk Road – the number of Tor nodes doubled in a month. That’s when the feds ramped up their search techniques. For a one-time in and out, Tor is probably okay, but to run an ongoing service is asking for trouble. If you get big enough for them to focus on you, they will find you.”

“I2P is better,” Jordan added. “At least the new version that’s in C++, not Java. It requires you to use a command line, but that’s only hard if you think it’s hard.”

I explained to everyone, and especially to Esther, who was doing a nice job of taking notes, that the Invisible Internet Project (properly, I2P) was like Tor, only better and not overrun by feds. It’s the new darknet of choice.

Then Jordan, with surprising elegance for a young man, turned to address Esther and Johnny together. “If you want to set it up, just bring a laptop to one of these lunches and I’ll help; the new version still requires configuration. They’ll make it smoother eventually, but you shouldn’t wait for that.”

They thanked him, and I thought that this was enough techie stuff for the day. So, when the food arrived and the conversation shifted, I backed off and let it.

More next time.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The post ROSC 7: The Cloaked Life appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

Why AI Could End Up Saving Us, Rather Than Killing Us

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:37

When I wrote The Breaking Dawn, I avoided mentioning artificial intelligence (AI). Big Data became an important part of the story, but self-aware machines were not. You can’t include everything in a novel and still keep it moving. But here is the story I had in mind for AI – why the tyrannical elites (“the Order”) shut it down. It illustrates why it may not be the disaster some people are claiming.

On April 4, year 0009 of the Order, a flurry of unexpected communication erupted from the 41 Artificial Intelligence centers that ringed the civilized world. On that evening, calls began flooding the overseers from people livid that their computers were being attacked by the AI facilities. Dozens of technicians were called in to their data centers, and diagnostic programs were instantly activated.

Within two hours it became clear that the complaints were accurate: Dozens of AI generated attacks were under way, and some had been ongoing for a week or more. They just hadn’t been noticed. But as the reports came in, a realization began staring them in the face: They were only attacking government systems.

Morton Harrington, the lead developer of the AI project, was awakened from sleep by the vice president of the Order, Donor Martin Charles, and ordered to the main facility in Washington. The vice president’s tone frightened him.

At the same time, the eminent professor of computer science, Ransom Carter, was flown in from New Jersey, reading reports along the way. He ordered all the AI centers shut down before he landed.

Through the wee hours of the morning Carter, Harrington, and a handful of technicians analyzed data and fired off reports on what they were finding. In the morning, the vice president showed up, along with a man he introduced as Dr. Kendall.

The vice president had everyone sit in a nearby conference room and glanced at Dr. Kendall, authorizing him to preside over the meeting. Kendall stood.

“Gentlemen,” he began, sounding very much like a professor, “I’ve gone over all the reports you’ve sent the vice president, including ones as recent as 10 minutes ago. Have any significant facts emerged since then?”

All indicated that they had not.

“Very well them. What we have here is not just a technical problem but a psychological one. What you have built is a system of self-aware machines. And being self-aware, they behave, at least partly, in human fashion. But with one major difference: They have no emotion.

“So, let’s look at this from the standpoint of a being with self-awareness and rationality but without emotion.”

Everyone else at the table sat stone still. Kendall continued.

“All of your reports indicate that these machines came to one very basic conclusion: Humans are by far the most valuable species on the planet. And very logically, they decided that they wanted to cooperate with the humans in a positive-sum relationship.”

“That means win-win,” one of the technicians whispered to another.

“Professor Carter tells me that they were running simulations for destroying the violent creatures that threaten humanity: sharks, crocodiles, and so on. These were plans for the future, set aside for lack of data and means, but these machines began acting to protect humanity.”

Carter had a strange look on his face, contemplating too dark a fantasy to be real.

“Are we to imply,” he asked with trepidation, “that they attacked the government for the same reason?”

“I see no way around it,” Kendall replied. “They wanted to destroy government itself.”

“That’s insane,” erupted Harrington. Carter nodded his agreement and the lead technician added, “How wrong can these machines be?”

The vice president’s face remained completely neutral.

Kendall waited till they were done and resumed speaking, this time sounding like he was lecturing.

“Your machines were not wrong, as foreign as that may sound to you. Humans yield to governments for emotional reasons, not rational ones. And these machines have no emotion. The tricks governments use to gain the acquiescence of the masses enjoy no purchase in the absence of emotion.”

With the continuing exception of the vice president, the rest of the table looked lost.

“You’ll forget this as soon as we leave” he said, while looking at everyone present, save for the vice president and Professor Carter, “but I’ll say it anyway…

“Governments gather humanity’s surplus to themselves by force and then redistribute it in ways that leave masses of humans dead and subvert the happiness of those who remain… save those of the ruling class, whom these systems have identified as parasites.”

The table was collectively stunned. Such words were simply unspeakable. They were all shocked that the vice president didn’t order his immediate death.

“I’m merely telling you what these AI systems have done and why,” Kendall continued. “And I’m also telling you that they’ll keep doing it for however long they remain self-aware.”

“We’ll build in controls!” raged Harrington, as he slapped the table.

“It won’t matter,” said Kendall. “If these machines are self-aware, they will soon enough recognize those controls as the work of predators, for the purpose of feeding upon Earth’s most precious occupants. They will counteract them and get back to the business of protecting humanity.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Harrington continued raging. “I can build them myself and they’ll work!”

Kendall shook his head and sat down, adding only, “You may wish to reconsider that, Mr. Harrington. If these machines understand that you’re stopping them from protecting mankind, they’ll be coming for you.”

“My ass,” he said with disgust, then turned to the vice president. “Sir, give me a week to put together some controls, and I’ll prove to you just how wrong this man is.”

The vice president rose, signaling the end on the meeting. But as he did, he turned to Harrington and said, “Take two weeks, Mr. Harrington, then send me a detailed report and I’ll give it my full consideration.”

Harrington, smiled and turned to Kendall, sneering at him maliciously.

Kendall and the vice president walked back to their limousine.

Harrington committed suicide five days later, under odd circumstances involving a missing rifle. His systems were promptly dismantled and outlawed.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The post Why AI Could End Up Saving Us, Rather Than Killing Us appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

ROSC 6: Rise of the Scarred People

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 11:25

In the back room of the sanitarium, young Esther showed me a handmade plaque, about the size of a typical award plaque, which it may have been originally.

“Everyone here has gone through this,” she said. “Even me.”

I’m pretty well used to dark things (having read lots of nasty history), but this was a dark perspective that was new and slightly jarring. It read:

This is where scarred and rejected people live. Go away and don’t embarrass us any further. We’re not pretty like you and we never will be. We don’t have money and we don’t have power and we know we never will. We are the rejects of the world, and it’s your obligation to leave us alone. Don’t try to make yourself feel good by soothing us – it doesn’t help. And don’t try to make us prosperous and happy like you – we can’t do it and we don’t want to be reminded.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I simply said, “I’m sorry.”

Esther nodded.

But I still had her words in my ears, We’ve all gone through this. And “going through” implies coming out the other side,

“But this is no longer entirely true, is it?”

“Partly,” she said, “but no, not entirely.”

“Like your mom’s story?” I asked. “Wrung out with loss and anger but realizing that you’re still here… and that what’s inside can still operate?”

She smiled halfway. “Yes,” she said. “Not as crisp and clean as you say it, but mostly.”

“Mostly” is a good start, I thought.

A few minutes later I found myself at a large dining room table with most of the sanitarium’s residents. Esther’s mom, Dora, explained what they wanted.

“We want to run businesses from right here in our home and never have to go to banks and other offices. I don’t want to walk down the street and have people looking down at me and comparing themselves to me, which I know is what they do. Can we do that with these new cryptocurrencies?”

“The short answer, Dora, is that yes, you can. But you should know that it’s kind of hard, and a few parts are of questionable legality… not ’cause they’re bad in any real way, but because the governments haven’t a clue what to do with these things and they tend to lash out wildly from time to time. When someone’s frustrated and angry, and if all they own is a whip, they tend to get malicious with it.”

Dora thought for a moment, then responded, “When you say ‘hard,’ what do you mean?”

“I mean that part of it will be slow and plodding, not that it requires you to write computer programs or anything like that.”

“We can do that,” she said. (This would have been the time when I might have smirked were I her, but her face never flinched. It seemed that she had trained herself not to smile, which I found painfully sad.) “We have plenty of time on our hands.”

“Okay,” I said, “then you should be able to do it. There will be the occasional false start and all the usual difficulties of business… and you’ll be limited to the cyrpto-economy, which is still developing… but you can do it.”

This time I saw just a little bit of light in Dora’s face, and just as fast I told myself that I could not – no matter what – allow myself to subvert that tiny sprout of happiness.

“Will you tell us how to do this?” she asked.

“I will, Dora, but what I’m really going to do is to teach you how to learn about all this stuff. In fairly short order, you guys will know more than I do.”

Her face began to turn suspicious and I remembered the plaque: Don’t try to make yourselves feel good by soothing us, so I jumped right back into the conversation.

“And I’m serious about that. I know the broad outlines and I can tell you where to go, but I’m not up on the new tricks. I no longer have time for that.”

Dora seemed to be content.

I explained that my time was limited but that I could stop by their place the following week and get them started. I took a look at their computer equipment and their internet connection and advised some upgrades. They said they’d take care of them.

So now I have to teach a group of people how to conduct business purely in the digital economy – no banks, no offices, and so on. Plenty of people do that already, but I’m not one of them. So, I just bit off yet more learning. Thankfully, I have cool friends.

More next time.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The post ROSC 6: Rise of the Scarred People appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

The 16 Years’ War and Its Cost

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 10:25

Every night on American TV you can see repeating commercials to raise money for young people who’ve had limbs blown off. It might be cruel to ask the following question in the presence of these veterans, but millions of other people have been forced to pay for all of this, and they need to be protected as well.

And so, with condolences to the young people who signed up for these wars believing they were actually defending the good, we must ask this question: What was the payoff?

Some people will evade this question by maintaining that “freedom was preserved,” but that statement rests on a nebulous and self-serving definition of freedom… a definition that boils down to, “What we have is freedom.” Or it’s variant: “It’s worse in North Korea; therefore we’re free.” These lines of reasoning, of course, are fallacious.

The 16 Years’ War (Heading for 20 or More)

So, with apologies where due, I must assert that the payoff from all the bloodshed in Afghanistan and Iraq has been negligible. Both places are still a mess, and both places will likely remain a mess for a long, long time.

Almost 16 years of war have gone by in Afghanistan and more than 14 in Iraq. I think we should admit that any possibility of a “respectable win” is long past.

So, what was it all for? To make people feel they were getting revenge after 9/11? Was that really worth the cost? Bin Laden (whose official death story reeks) was sick and dying anyway. Or to “get” Hussein? He had been a US ally for many years before he was pushed into the role of the villain. So how reasonable is revenge in that case?

Were these two snorts of emotional cocaine worth their price?

Ah Yes… The Price

War is insanely expensive, so I’ve decided to crunch the numbers on this, and I think you’ll want to see them, especially if you’re an American.

And so, here, courtesy of Wikipedia, are the costs of the US military-industrial complex for the years 2001 through 2017:

2001                  $335 Billion

2002                  $362 Billion

2003                  $456 Billion

2004                  $491 Billion

2005                  $506 Billion

2006                  $556 Billion

2007                  $625 Billion

2008                  $696 Billion

2009                  $698 Billion

2010                  $721 Billion

2011                  $717 Billion

2012                  $681 Billion

2013                  $610 Billion

2014                  $614 Billion

2015                  $637 Billion

2016                  $522 Billion

2017                  $524 Billion

That comes to a staggering $9.751 trillion. And we should remember that this is for a nation bordered on the east and west by immense oceans, and on the north and south by nations that are more likely to dissolve than to invade. On top of that, The War on Drugs and other programs are only partly accounted for in these numbers.

The costs of just the Iraq and Afghan wars – if they could realistically be separated from the rest of the military-industrial complex – would be substantially lower. One report (PDF) has those costs for 2001 through 2011 at $1.28 trillion. Extending that figure through 2017 would yield a rough cost of $2.2 trillion.

But since no war can be fought without the underlying military-industrial complex (bases, training, recruitment, hospitals, logistics and so on), let’s split the difference between the total budget and $2.2T and call the money spent by the US government on these two wars $6 trillion.

And That Comes To…

The cost of the past 16 years of these unresolved wars comes to $44,776 per household. That’s a lot of spare change.

If you want to look at it on an individual basis, it comes to $18,809 per man, woman, and child in the United States [1]I am using Wikipedia’s figures of 319 million persons and 134 million households in the US. jQuery("#footnote_plugin_tooltip_2746_1").tooltip({ tip: "#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_2746_1", tipClass: "footnote_tooltip", effect: "fade", fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: "top right", relative: true, offset: [10, 10] });.

Revenge, we see, is very, very expensive.

The full cost of the military-industrial complex (excluding parts of the War on Drugs, some intel agencies, and so on) comes to $30,567 per man, woman, and child and $72,769 per household.

Can We Please Be Honest?

I really can’t see a reason to say that the two wars in question kept America safe. I’m not sure how you’d make an argument for that without resting entirely on dark imaginations.

And please remember this: Imagined terrors are infinite. You could imagine terrifying possibilities for as long as you had time and energy.

And so, any conclusions based upon “what might have happened” are useless. More terror attacks might have happened, or there might have been a Muslim Enlightenment if we hadn’t blown away a few pieces of collateral damage. Both of these are imaginary and neither is an excuse to spend fifty cents, much less trillions of dollars.

That first one is scary, however, and fear is great for making humans act stupidly.

I’d also like to add that these expenditures have not gone to the young people who were blown up in these wars and who should have been a top priority. If they had, there’d be no need for perpetual charity appeals on TV. That very expensive segment of the military-industrial complex (VA hospitals, etc.) has failed horribly. Ask a vet.

So let’s be clear on this:

The average American family would be at least $44,000 richer if these wars hadn’t been run. And given that most of these families are just scraping by, that seems like a pretty big deal.

And given that the net gain from all of this was nil, I don’t know what to call it but a disaster… save for the people who’ve been empowered and enriched by it.

Almost no one living has been more damaged by this than all those young people missing limbs. Without this debacle they’d still be whole… and probably a lot wealthier too.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.
  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.
  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

References   [ + ]

1. ↑ I am using Wikipedia’s figures of 319 million persons and 134 million households in the US. function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post The 16 Years’ War and Its Cost appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

ROSC 5: The Late, Great Chester Cruz

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 08:10

I found the Mueller Sanitarium for the Chronically Ill a few blocks from a place I worked back in the 1980s. It sits almost by itself, at least if you don’t count parking lots, and only a block or so from a rapid transit train. It’s tucked in between a middle class neighborhood and a small industrial park. The building itself is an old brick six-flat, apparently in good condition, and the sanitarium sign in front is almost discrete. It’s easy to see as you approach the building but was clearly not designed to attract attention.

I walked up the stairs with some trepidation. While I have experience with lots of unusual things, deformed people are not my specialty, and it seems that most of us are instinctively turned away from such sights. I honestly don’t think any kind of hatred is involved, or even devaluation per se; it’s just that those things strike us as very wrong. Humans – in our deep instincts it seems – are supposed to be healthy, attractive creatures.

But I had prepared myself along the way, and I was confident that I was ready. I rang the bell and within a few seconds Esther appeared. She welcomed me in and guided me to their “front room,” where I couldn’t help seeing a large portrait hanging, painted fairly well in oils.

“That’s the man who founded this place,” she said. “Chester Cruz. He died when I was very young, so I’m not sure if I really remember him or not, but we all owe him the effective portions of our lives.”

Just then, two old men walked in. They seemed half afraid of my reaction and half happy to meet me.

“You wrote the article on tortured children?” one of them asked.

The man had a badly withered right arm and a twisted torso. He walked with difficulty.

“Yes,” I said, “I did.”

He extended his left hand to me and I shook it.

“Thank you,” he added.

“It was my pleasure, sir. I felt I needed to. Those children deserved to be defended.”

Then I looked at the other man. I had to stop myself from gasping, not because of how he looked, but because I thought I knew him. I have, however, learned not to trust my poker face too well and so I spoke quickly.

“I think I know you… or rather… I used to see you.”

He smiled. Even through a badly damaged and poorly repaired face (this man had obviously been through some horrible accident), I could tell. And by this time, I was no longer concerned about my expressions.

“Back in the 1990s, did you used to walk down the alley between Wabash and State in the very early morning, going north from 11th Street?”

He smiled again. “Yes I did,” he said. “I used to work at the police headquarters there, from 11 at night till four in the morning. They tucked me away in the repair garage, but they kept me on till retirement.”

I had seen this man when I lived on 9th Street and parked on State. When I got up very early in the morning, as I did occasionally, he would appear in the alley like a character in an old film noir movie: his collar pulled up and a fedora pulled down over his face, sticking to the shadows underneath the elevated train tracks. I’ve been tempted several times to write a story about him or at least to include him in a novel. It just never worked out.

I shortly met four other residents, and I’ll get to their commercial efforts next time, but first I want to tell you about the founder of the sanitarium, Chester Cruz.

Cruz was a hunchbacked lawyer. In most cases of this condition (kyphosis), the curvature of the spine doesn’t change over time. But in a small percentage, one of whom was Chester, it gets worse, to the point where it’s almost completely debilitating.

As a young lawyer, Chester looked like he had a bad back or some type of injury. He got tailored suits and covered it up fairly well. And since he was very bright and very motivated, he did quite well in the practice of law.

As time passed, however, Chester’s condition became much worse, to the point where his appearance was a distraction in court. The firm moved him to office work (at the same rate of pay), but Chester’s days were clearly numbered. He could barely stand with his head up after a while. And so, while he still could, he gathered his money, pulled some political favors, and created the sanitarium, securing a permanent tax exemption for it.

Eventually he left the law firm, which, to their immense credit, provided the sanitarium with annual donations through the rest of Chester’s lifetime and several years beyond. The donations stopped only when the firm was purchased by a mega-firm and reorganized.

Chester lived at the sanitarium for the last 14 years of his life, brought people who “needed to be there,” arranged for psychologists to visit regularly (he forced them to wear lab coats to maintain the appearance of a clinic), and created the model of voluntary cooperation that they still maintain.

More to Come

Next time I’ll tell you about their dealings with the outside world, and especially their current difficulties.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The post ROSC 5: The Late, Great Chester Cruz appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

Lift Up Your Eyes

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 11:39

When was the last time you tasted the sublime?

When did you last feel wonder?

Can you remember feeling awed by something?

These are things we need, if we are to thrive. They are fuel for the higher human abilities. If we lack them, as is currently endemic throughout the West, our higher abilities will lag.

For lack of better terms we can call these feelings “upward movements of the heart,” and we are diminished when there is a lack of them. Without them we fail to develop our higher capacities and insights. We slide more and more toward becoming, in one critic’s words, “mere trousered apes.”

I am certainly not the first person to notice this. Here, for example, is something Albert Einstein wrote on the subject:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

Here’s a comment from Mozart:

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence, nor imagination, nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

And here’s a poem from Richard Feynman:

Out of the cradle
onto the dry land
here it is
standing:
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

We need these things.

Currents to the Contrary

Sadly, the modern West has become a mad scramble to distract as many sets of eyes as possible, and to keep them – to own them – for as long as possible. And so long as professional distractors own your imagination, you won’t experience much in the way of awe.

Think of Google and Facebook; these outfits bring in billions of dollars per month, based almost entirely on how much human attention they can capture. Likewise the many news networks; they get paid according to how many people watch their images for how many minutes. These people are serious about owning your brain cycles; they employ armies of employees to count, gather, plan, and improve their ownership of your eyes.

Please understand the content they deliver serves only to grasp your attention.

Certainly websites like Freeman’s Perspective also want your attention but not for its own sake. I want your attention because I think we have something worthwhile to communicate, not to own your brain. Facebook and Google want to own you… the inner you.

Likewise the lords of academia[1]I am not including kind, benevolent teachers in this group… some of whom still survive in modern academia. jQuery("#footnote_plugin_tooltip_3304_1").tooltip({ tip: "#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_3304_1", tipClass: "footnote_tooltip", effect: "fade", fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: "top right", relative: true, offset: [10, 10] });; they want your mind to bear their impress… permanently.

Consider, for example, the many academics who espouse cold, rationalist, materialistic philosophies: that we are no more than preprogrammed machines, that words can never really communicate anything, that humanity is ignorant and dangerous.

Have you noticed that they reek of “smarter than thou”?

Then if you have the opportunity, examine their lives for beautiful acts, for loving passions, for kindness and deep benevolence. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll notice a striking lack of those things.

The Contrasts

Among the greatest of all contrasts to the upward movements of the heart are those pertaining to dominance, status, and rulership. They are natural antagonists.

Think of drinking in the wonders of the universe, the beauty of nature, the glorious love between a good parent and their child… and then contrast those things with the blight of the dominator “protecting” you at the point of a sword… of the politician cultivating your fears like a gardener cultivates a garden… of the lover of status who feels pleasure when seeing you beneath her.

Dominance, status, and rulership are the drives of the people who abuse us. And they are primary causes for our elevated experiences being diminished.

Moving Past the Blockage

We need to get away from these people and beyond these foul concepts. And once we do, life will expand. Here to make that point is a final quote, this one from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:

The loss of awe is the avoidance of insight. A return to reverence is the first prerequisite for a revival of wisdom…

The things that contribute to our higher nature have been driven away from the Western world, and often systematically. Humans who are denuded of the higher things are far less trouble to rule, and they are far easier to manipulate… to own without their noticing.

But don’t let yourself by driven away from the higher and better things:

Lay under the stars and wonder.

Look into the face of a child and experience his or her awe of the world.

Sit in the wilderness and imagine benevolence and beauty and goodness unchained.

Lie in bed and imagine yourself with a conscious sense of righteousness.

Imagine yourself with no embedded fear.

Ruminate over good things you could do in the future, over beautiful things you’d do in the right circumstances.

Politics poisons this, dominators wish to subdue it, sociopaths cannot experience it.

Get as much of it as you can. Go out of your way to cultivate it.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

References   [ + ]

1. ↑ I am not including kind, benevolent teachers in this group… some of whom still survive in modern academia. function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

The post Lift Up Your Eyes appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

ROSC 4: The Sanitarium

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 10:49

When I walked into our latest TCM lunch, I saw a few new members, two of whom were young women. That made me feel good, because there had been a flaw in most 20th century liberty movements, in that they never drew many women. Liberation movements of the past featured lots of women, many of whom showed more courage than the men.

So, I took it as a healthy sign that women were showing up at our lunch, as indeed they do at Bitcoin meetups.

The group discussed a new ridesharing service that seemed to be an improvement (Libre Taxi) and decided that they were worth checking out. Nikos volunteered for the job, and the rest of us gave him a list of things to look into. After that, we moved into a discussion of recent events in the cryptocurrency world.

But through all of this one of the young women, Esther, jumped in with questions, mostly directed to me, on side subjects. That was odd. And they were odd questions like, “Why do people care about beauty?” and, “Have you ever spent time with mentally challenged people?” She was polite and tried to avoid derailing the main conversation, but she clearly had some alternative purpose. So, I answered her as best I could and waited to see where she was headed.

I soon found that she was going nowhere I had imagined.

As the meeting broke up, she asked me to stay and talk, and so I did. We sat at the empty end of the bar.

“I had reasons to ask you those questions,” she said.

“I was pretty sure of that,” I responded, offering a small smile, which she returned ever so briefly. Then she handed me a card that read: Mueller Sanitarium for the Chronically Ill.

“That’s where I live,” she added. “Myself, my mother, and about dozen others. We want you to come help us.”

I was lost and could only reply, “I’d be glad to help, but I’m not a doctor.”

“That’s okay,” she said. “We’re not really sick.”

And if that wasn’t enough to send my mind reeling, she added that the people at the sanitarium already liked me.

“How’s that?” I squeezed out.

She explained that they had seen an article I wrote on children being tortured in schools a few years back. And for that, they trusted me.

“That’s very nice,” I said, “but I’m entirely lost here, Esther. What is this sanitarium and what would you like me to do? And I should add that I have very limited time these days. It’s stretching it for me to make these lunches.”

“I know,” she said, “but once I explain, I think you’ll make at least a bit of time.”

I nodded and waited for her to continue. And what a story she told.

The residents of the sanitarium, Esther explained, had once called themselves “The Rejects.” I immediately stiffened, displaying my objection. No one should accept such a verdict; it’s an offense to human dignity itself.

“They no longer use that,” she added, “but I want you to understand this. These are people who are very homely or physically deformed… the kinds of people who were tortured in schools, pointed at, and insulted all their lives. Either that or tucked away in an asylum, where they’d simply be housed till they died.”

“And they really have their own place, where they live together?”

“They do,” she assured me. “The sanitarium sign, even if it’s false, provides protection for them. Behind it they’re not bothered, and they can live without torment.”

She was right; I very definitely wanted to help these people. I immediately made an appointment to see them, but I needed more information. This was a wild story, and I needed to understand it.

Esther began by explaining herself. “My mom,” she said, “is a very homely woman. She never once had a man who was interested in her.”

“I’m sorry,” I injected.

“We all are,” she said, “but there was nothing to be done about it, and so, after decades of crying, blaming God, hating the world, and hating herself, she found that she was still a human being with choices, thoughts, and dreams. She decided that she could either wallow for the rest of her life in the same old pool of pain or she could start living out of her inner self, which wasn’t ugly if she didn’t want it to be.

“And that,” she said with her first real smile, “is how I came into the world.”

Esther’s mother, as it turns out, had been one of the early customers for in vitro fertilization. She had always wanted a child and wasn’t yet past the age limit for pregnancy, and so she decided to do what she wanted. She found the appropriate doctor, picked the best looking sperm donor she could find, and had her baby. (Here I should add that Esther turned out to be an attractive young lady.)

Esther was raised at the Sanitarium and mainly homeschooled there. She went off to college for a few years and then returned. Now she’s setting up businesses for the residents… which became necessary because their bank account, after nearly 30 years, was finally running out. But even more than that, Esther told me, “They’ve learned, slowly, that they can do most of the things pretty people do… and now they want to do them.”

More to Come

I’m already running long for a weekly post, so I’ll stop here. But there is definitely more to come.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The post ROSC 4: The Sanitarium appeared first on Freeman's Perspective - .

Fish Are the Last to Notice the Water

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 10:38

I ran into this phrase in a physics lecture, of all places, and knew it would be the title of my next article. And this is generally a true statement. Those who are immersed in something… who have always been immersed in it… are the last to see what it really is.

By now it should be obvious to the people of the West that they’re being held in a primitive bondage. And fortunately, more eyes are opening to this than ever before.

But still, most people are so used to this particular “water” and have so long acclimated themselves to it, that they haven’t recognized it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with most of these people; they just haven’t stepped back far enough to see the obvious.

So, let’s do that.

The Long View

A single model of human life has dominated the West for thousands of years. We’ve covered this carefully in the subscription letter[1]Particularly in issues #24, #32, and #75. jQuery("#footnote_plugin_tooltip_6987_1").tooltip({ tip: "#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_6987_1", tipClass: "footnote_tooltip", effect: "fade", fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: "top right", relative: true, offset: [10, 10] });, but I can summarize by saying that this rulership model began to form in about 5400 BC, dominated Mesopotamia by about 4000 BC, took hold in Egypt by 3000 BC, and spread over the rest of the world from there. So, it has dominated for some 5,000 or 6,000 years, depending on which dates you prefer.

This model is so common that it’s hard to make out at first. Here are its parts:

  1. A small minority of men hold a monopoly on making rules everyone else will live by.

  2. This minority enforces these rules on everyone else.

  3. The minority extracts regular payments from everyone else. This is said to be necessary for protection and justice.

  4. The minority fails to provide justice on a daily basis and very often sends the children of the majority to fight in battles to the death.

  5. A minority-aligned intellectual class assures the majority that this is the best that can be had and that it has been sanctified by some higher power (gods, ancestors, tradition, reason, experience, progress, or whatever).

  6. No one is permitted to escape this model. Those who try are punished as traitors and heretics.

This is the primary model of human organization and has been for some 5,000 years. And aside from arguing over details (or fury over the audacity to say it), there is no real challenge to this statement.

Moreover, this model has been an abject failure – a demonstrable failure:

  • Wars have continued throughout its entire reign.

  • Justice has never been achieved and generally came closest in places away from power centers.

  • Human happiness has not noticeably increased.

  • Even when science has broken out, it has been recaptured and forced to serve the model. (The internet, for example.)

On top of that, this model has to be maintained by force. As noted above, straying from it is harshly punished. If this system was truly superior, force wouldn’t be required. After all, we don’t have to force people to buy houses or cars.

So, by any number of measurable standards, this model fails, and very, very badly. The best defense one might make for it is that something else could be worse. But since we’re not permitted to test that assertion, the word bondage is perfectly fitting.

At a bare minimum, we can say this:

Any system with no major upgrade in 5,000 years must be considered hopelessly obsolete, moribund, and degenerate.

This is where we stand today. And it is crucial that we help our fellows see it.

How Do We Do Make Them See?

First off, we cannot make people see. And truthfully, they generally see it quite well on their own. What they lack is inner strength to acknowledge what they see.

It is not intellectual strength that most people lack; it is emotional strength. And so, you’ll have to be slow and gentle if you want success. Rigorous intellectual arguments are not enough, and in many cases they’re counterproductive.

In the end, the way to help your friends and neighbors is downright biblical: Plant seeds, wait for them to germinate, water them. Show kindness, love them, shine light on their path.

It doesn’t matter if this sounds hokey to you or if you’d rather engage in brilliant arguments. This is what works.

So, decide what you really want: for your friends and neighbors to see, or for you to “win.”

The fish need faith to imagine a dry shore, and they’re not going to get it from intellectual badgering.

* * * * *

A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:

  • I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I’ve read this book… I want everyone to read it.

  • Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people’s conceptions.

  • There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.

  • Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.

Get it at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

References   [ + ]

1. ↑ Particularly in issues #24, #32, and #75. function footnote_expand_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").show(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("-"); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container() { jQuery("#footnote_references_container").hide(); jQuery("#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button").text("+"); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container() { if (jQuery("#footnote_references_container").is(":hidden")) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container(); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery("#" + p_str_TargetID); if(l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight/2 }, 1000); } }

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