Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Think Tank Game

Would you pay for good little pieces of data?  Would you like to get paid for creating good little pieces of data?  My answer to both is YES, and I bet yours is too.  I will be reaching out to everyone I know because Brett Veinotte has inspired me.  We all share information all the time, and sometimes we thank each other for it.  If we set it up well, as I think Brett has done, we even, sometimes, pay each other for it.  I have, in fact, paid Brett a few times because of all the great information he has provided to me and everyone else who might benefit from it.

The goal of this blog post, I hope, will be met in one of the next few paragraphs.  It will be a few sentences that will catch your eye and uncork your mind.  You will look forward to sitting at your computer, or on your phone, just as you are now, reading and writing.  A seed will be planted in your subconscious driving you to research and brainstorm how you might benefit from or encourage the input of others.

One of my favorite things to do is respond to comments on the Internet. You can browse my comments on Disqus or what I've written on Quora to see what I have to say.  In my experience, most other people don't comment very much, if at all.  It makes me sad.  Most people are good, and that goodness would show up in comments if they were to make them.  Do you comment on the Internet much?

Of course, our foolishness also shows up if we are lazy when we write comments.  Because school teaches us to, we might parrot a claim we read somewhere but which we never bothered to examine, and a response might come back providing us with strong evidence that the claim is wrong.  That hurts because we have presented the claim as our own.

If you do examine my comments on Disqus, you'll see my strategies to avoid that pain.  Most folks who comment a lot follow such strategies, and they tend to improve critical thinking and communications skills.  Either you already know this, or else, since I've (hopefully) planted a seed, you will come to know it soon, and that will make you a great contributor to my "think tank game."

I will soon announce a date for the commencement of the "think tank game."  If all goes well, it will go on for a few days or, if it goes really well, indefinitely.  During that time, you'll visit memeracing.net every now and then to answer or ask questions and maybe invest a few dollars worth of bitcoin.  If you write something good, you'll get an email asking you to visit the site and check out what six other people had to say in the same context.  You'll put these six blurbs, along with your own, in order by quality.  Perhaps you will put yours first, even if you think someone else's was better, or perhaps you'll be more honest.  Either way, you and those six other people will combine your judgements to find the best of the seven things, and bitcoin will be redistributed as encouragement.

That's what I have to offer.  Well, one of the things I have to offer.  I look forward to your suggestions and ideas.

I have some more background information for those who decided to keep reading this far.  Many people, once they understand what memeracing.net is trying to do, say that it's a great idea.  The problem is that a "great idea" is only great until it's old, which takes a few days or weeks.  After that, it's either useful or forgotten.  Memeracing.net has been forgotten by many people who recognized its value.  One might say they are just waiting for it to become useful.  I'm pretty sure that the usefulness will come from the density of traffic, so I wanted to get a lot of people on board for a kind of event on memeracing.

Do you think I should identify some particular topic for this "think tank game" event?  I do.  The link above ("suggestions and ideas") goes to a page where you can enter whatever topic you think would work well.  One of the answers already has about $30 backing it, but it isn't the one I think is best.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to comments as well as input on memeracing.net.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Let's Educate the new IRS Agents

It seems to me that turnover at our favorite government entity is quite high.  In the interest of helping the newbies there learn how to navigate between the mistakes of their coworkers as well as the folks who need to pay taxes or receive refunds and the requirements of the law, I propose that we "in the know" leverage our experiences.

If you have ever gotten the IRS to correct its records regarding:
  1. Whether or not you qualify as an "employee" according to USC 26,
  2. Whether or not you earn "wages" according to USC 26,
  3. Whether or not you have received "income" as it is used in USC 26,
  4. Whether or not something you sent to the IRS was frivolous,
  5. Whether or not you sent something early enough according to whatever "statute of limitations" applies,
  6. Whether or not your submission has been received or processed, or ...

...then you might enjoy calling them back to chat about how it went.  You would do this in the interest of helping the IRS more efficiently administer the tax laws.  During your chat, you could bring up one, some, or even all of the following items for the benefit of myself and everyone else who understands what Peter Hendrickson's Cracking the Code teaches about the income tax laws of the United States:

  1. As someone who has found it necessary to contact the IRS, I am aware that some IRS employees are given verbal instructions, and that by following these instructions, they put themselves in danger of violating laws or people's rights, or even simple internal rules, so it's best for the employee to request that all instructions be provided in written form so that they can be passed on to any victim of such accidental violations.
  2. When folks call in, it is helpful to let them know that things do not always happen in the order one would expect.  For example, mailing something to the IRS may have no effect until the sender calls the IRS to find out whether or not the mailed item has been processed.
  3. Others who have called the IRS have learned that something they sent in was handled a certain way, but often the notes do not identify the something well enough for the caller to know what it was that was handled.  We urge IRS employees taking notes on items received in the mail to identify them in the notes with the date and title (if it has one) of the document for the convenience of anyone who reads those notes.  If the document was mailed with a tracking number, type that in too.
  4. It is often very helpful to ask up front if a person is a federal employee, or since the tax administered by the IRS falls only upon activities that involve the exercise of federal privilege, whether or not the caller uses any federal privilege to earn his or her living.
  5. Many in the "Tax Honesty" movement have found that employees of the IRS often don't understand nearly as much as those in the movement understand.  Thus, any efforts to narrow that gap would be very helpful.  Let's encourage IRS agents to examine Peter Hendrickson's website and discuss it among themselves.  Suggest that refutations of the material there be made in writing so that information can be vetted and anyone spreading misinformation can be stopped.

From the perspective of IRS employees, it may be the case that the IRS is collecting too much money, or too little.  There are, of course, cases on both sides.  Regardless of who believes it's too much and who believes it's too little, getting it closer to what congress designed it to be is in the best interested of everyone.  It is to that end that I make the suggestions above.  If our nation collected the correct amount of taxes, then we would see positive effects in many areas:

Public education would be significantly improved, not only because the "right" amount of money would be available to schools from the federal government, but also because people would be interested in following through on their promises and obligations, making sure those promises and obligations are clearly delineated, and recognizing and exposing all manner of deception that not only infects the pocketbooks of everyone involved, but also damages the minds of the young people who are exposed to the system.

The national defense apparatus would be resized to an ideal size, not too big, and not too small.  While some may argue that it is already too big and others may argue that it's still too small, the best path forward is for everyone to follow through on their promises and obligations, and make sure those promises and obligations are clearly delineated.

When the proper amount of tax is collected from the people of this country, the welfare of its inhabitants will be optimized.  This means that welfare programs that rest on the backs of the taxpayers would be lighter or heavier, whichever is the case according to what we get when everyone follows through on their promises and obligations, and makes sure those promises and obligations are clearly delineated.

U.S. Government Quotations

During "discovery" in the case where the United States Postal Inspection Service is attempting to steal my money from me (16-01166-DSF), the government had these things to say.  I figured it was important to publish them:
  1. "[The question] implies that the decisions of any United States District Judge or United States Magistrate Judge are influenced by the source of their salaries."  The question was "Do you pay the salaries of judges Dale S. Fischer and Kenly Kiya Kato?"
  2. "[T]he defendant in this action is currency and is not entitled to legal representation."
  3. "To the extent claimant asserts that he is an innocent owner of the defendant currency, the assertion is without merit because there is no evidence currently available to the government suggesting that claimant exercised due diligence in obtaining any information about the person to whom he sold the bitcoins, or in determining whether the defendant currency was derived from a legal or legitimate source."
  4. "[T]he burden of proof is on claimant in this action to establish that he is the innocent owner of the defendant currency."
I submit that there is a conflict of interest exposed in the first quotation.  Do you see that?  Would you be willing to provide me with a video of yourself stating that if #1 above is real, then you see a conflict of interest?

The government of the United States has admitted that it is using the term "defendant" to describe something that is not a person.  How do we solve that problem?

The government suggests that a person's assertion of innocence is without merit unless that person "obtains information about the person to whom they" are selling or "determines whether the payment was derived" legally or legitimately.  I submit that agents working for the U.S. government are guiltier than I am in this respect because of the corruption of that organization and those agents' sale of their own efforts to it.  I do not think it is fair to blame them, but the government is attempting to blame me.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Zero Days Spoiler Alert

The movie Zero Days answers a lot of questions, but it poses so many more, that I think any good review should be a spoiler.  We are left to wonder and search for what's next, how foolish people with power and financial resources will be, and how clever the better and worse technologists around the world will prove to be while struggling against each other to make things the way they want them to be.

Personally, I'd like to see Siemens spend a few million on a court case against the U.S. government to win a settlement that would pay for A) replacing all existing PLCs that are affected by Stuxnet so that they are not vulnerable to the malware as they currently are, and B) explicate the exploits that were used well enough for the creators of the software containing them to remove them.

My observations on the state of the audience and my personal desire for Siemens are not the reason I'm writing this post.  I wrote those paragraphs in order to provide a setting from which I can propose my theory and hopefully get some of the most important minds working on solving the problem of corruption (if they aren't already).

The ostensible goal of Stuxnet was to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program.  The effect was to release a kind of masterkey to infect and control a variable but very well defined set of Siemens PLCs in any way a programmer wants.  Anyone can get it because it's everywhere.  The idea of Siemens PLCs providing useful logical functions in a secure manner is no longer reasonable.  We are vulnerable to the madmen of the world who have the programming skills.

The madmen of the world generally do not have the programming skills because they are too busy getting elected, whispering in the ears of those who've already been elected, or both, and that is NOT their fault.  It's ours.  Well, not my fault because A) I don't vote, and B) I have no respect for fake (coercive) authority.  So it probably isn't your fault either, but there are loads of people who still believe that obedience to authority is a good thing, and it's entirely their fault. They suffer for it too, which is ok by me, but we suffer too, and that's what I'd like to stop.  I think it's up to us to stop it.

The people who do have the programming skills will be hired by those madmen because too many software engineers (yes, Jerry, I'm talking about you) do not peer deeply enough into their work to see whether or not it will be used for good or evil.  Einstein and Oppenheimer come to mind.  My theory is that the money to be paid to the engineers who can modify the Stuxnet to create grand problems will come from taxpayers and be funneled through black ops for that exact purpose: create grand problems.  Why?  Because that is how fake authority justifies itself.  Check out the Peace Revolution Podcast if you don't believe me.

How do we stop it?  The answer is to make people like Jerry aware of what they are doing so that they can request that more light be shone upon it.  The Jerry about whom I write offered me some work related to "smart meters" and, because it was a government contract, I declined.  Perhaps it was a mistake for me to decline.  Perhaps I would have been able to brighten the lights and scare away some of the development of "grand problems" that I believe is going on.

I don't know if Jerry will ever read this, but if he does, I hope he considers how much his work is related to the Siemens PLCs targeted by Stuxnet and whether or not he's helping create instability in a world that is very altered now that the CIA / NSA / FBI has released this masterkey into the wild.

We are not powerless.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Bitfinex Hack: Bitcoin versus Hubris

Bitcoin is threatening those who have lived parasitically off the rest of us through clever use of the financial system.  The best way I can think of to postpone the demise of these fiat parasites (by which I mean those who don't need to put much effort into earning money because they have de facto permission to print it from the governments they serve/control/sleep with) is to make the price very volatile.  There is a moral way to do this, but as recent research has shown, bankers don't generally limit themselves to moral means.

The moral way to do this is to allocate a large sum of money and buy up all the bitcoin that is available for sale.  This would take a few generations and make several families not affiliated with the bankers quite wealthy.  This is one of the reasons the bankers won't stick with the moral means: it spreads financial power to those who earn it.

The alphabet agencies of the United States (CIA, FBI, NSA, etc.) have been engaged in immoral projects since they were founded, usually relying on the shortsighted and nearsighted and (actually quite normal) functionaries who, if they could see the whole picture, would not help for the average salaries they earn.  This includes analysts, engineers, coders, couriers, spies, law enforcement, etc.  If you don't believe me, listen to the 91 episodes of The Peace Revolution Podcast.  It provides ample evidence, rather than just claims such as I am making. Do your own research.  It's good practice.

I believe I have identified the immoral method through which the price of bitcoin will be made so volatile that most people will shy away from it.  However, some, such as myself, will simply profit from the efforts, and use the profits to help rebuild things.  The method, or something quite similar, has been called "The Doublecross" and involves the cooperation of law enforcement to avoid enforcing the law in the cases where the criminal act benefits those at the top, such as the murder of that stooge, Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.  There is a warning in here for all of you who are close enough to the powerful to derive some benefit from them.  Aside from any bad karma, you'll eventually be a liability, and your life will end for that reason.  Just walk away, my friends.  Walk away.

Essentially, powerful spy agencies, including the UK's GCHQ and the US's CIA, FBI, and NSA (and even the Kremlin and whatever components of Kim Jong Il's government and China's government and all the rest are responsible for collecting information on people) gather dirt on people.  If you want to hold some power, you have to be dirty so that the power you hold is really under the control of those who have the dirt on you.  If you think about it, this explains why both Victoria Roberts and Nancy G. Edmunds worked (and continue to work) officially and on the record to suborn perjury from Doreen Hendrickson.

This dirt-collection scheme can be used to leverage a large number of insiders in just about every company on the planet.  That's a lot of work, and not feasible, but if you restrict that group of companies to "Bitcoin exchanges" then it's feasible.  The spy agencies, we can assume, have dirt on people like Nejc Kodric and/or several of his employees, along with the same sort of people at other exchanges.  In short, they have enough blackmail material to co-opt bitcoin exchanges, and force someone to provide them with the means to commit a heist such what happened to MtGox a while back, and what happened to Bitfinex a couple hours ago.

Consider all the evidence and history surrounding the biggest bitcoin heists (take that link with a grain of salt - the author says "Billions of Bitcoin are still "missing" in todays economy" which anyone who understands bitcoin knows is impossible), and see if it seems like there might be some kind of powerful (politically powerful, like spy-agency powerful) forces preventing rectification of what is clearly theft.  Where is Karpeles today?  I don't know.

In a nutshell, the strategy I see playing out is that governmental agencies, on behalf of the people who want to control everyone, are deploying their massive resources in black operations to amass bitcoins in ways that will not make honorable people rich so that they can manipulate the price more easily.  Will it work for them?  I don't think it will.  I will profit from their attempts, but since I think their attempts are a net negative for my species, I will spread my theory in the hope that more people will profit from their efforts (thus, defeating them) as I do.

In fact, profiting from their efforts simply means buying when the price goes down and selling when it goes up.  Since dollars are the easiest thing to use to value stuff, choose a dollar amount, and choose a number of valuable assets in which to store your savings, and split your savings up between them.  When the value of one goes up (or down), sell it (or buy it) and buy (or sell) whatever has gone down (or gone up less) with the proceeds.

If you or someone you know works for one of these spy agencies, consider carefully whether or not your efforts are making things worse or better.  Short term profit is fun and enjoyable, but life gets miserable when karma catches up, and no one knows how fast she is.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I used to be Afraid of the Dark

My older brother slept in a pitch black room.  I idolized him for that because I was afraid of the dark.  I idolized him enough to eventually develop the habit myself. Now I love the dark.  There are a couple ideas that helped me make the transition, and I want to help you make it too, though not in a literal sense.

One idea is that a lack of light is a disadvantage to a victim just as much as it is a disadvantage to an attacker.  I wasn't really afraid of real attackers though.

I was afraid of ghosts and wraiths and poltergeists.  No physical evidence has ever been produced showing that something supernatural was responsible for any kind of suffering.  I eventually mastered something I call "apophatic" reasoning, which is a term I got from Mark Passio.  The lack of physical evidence for supernatural causes of human suffering is powerful when you understand how quickly and forcefully such evidence would spread.

Supernatural causes, philosophically, are impossible.  "Supernatural" means beyond the nature of the universe.  "Cause" identifies a relationship in the nature of the universe.  Supernatural, philosophically, is a euphemism for "I don't know enough."  Roll a die and it will land on a number.  Can you predict the number?  No, you can't, not if you roll it properly, and it's balanced.  That doesn't make the number supernatural.  Maybe you'll roll three sixes in a row.  That also does not make it supernatural.  If you continue rolling sixes and you cannot get the die to land on another number, then you can pretend it's supernatural, but any decent physicist will offer to analyze your die to see if it's loaded.  Perhaps he will not find the reason.  Would you then call it supernatural?

I wouldn't.  To give up the hunt for the reason your die lands only on the number six is to abandon one of the best faculties human beings have, reason.  It takes a lot of humility to study such a die for weeks and continually admit that you're still "in the dark" about why it always lands on the same number.  Humility is valuable.  It stops us from believing fairy tales.

The non-literal sense in which I wish to help you not to be afraid of the dark is to encourage you to keep looking.  Whatever it is that makes the die always land on six is a metaphor for how we improve the world.  Most people give up, and that's a metaphor for accepting fake authority, also known as relying on government.  When authority is not fake, it does not use punishment.  It has no use for punishment.  It even encourages the kind of thing that fake authority punishes, because that kind of thing (going against the advice of authority) provides great learning experiences.

Governments and police are fake authorities, which is why they punish people for breaking their laws.  A law is a discovery about how the universe works.  Watch a dog with a bone.  If another creature approaches, the dog growls, "This is my bone.  Get away or I'll bite you."  Humans, well, sane humans, do this too.  Perhaps we don't bite (or growl), but we demand that our property rights be respected.  At least we make that demand to other humans whom we view as equals.  Some of us don't make that demand to fake authorities, and that is because we are, figuratively, afraid of the dark.

When we speak truth to power, we are insisting that a balanced die will land on random sides when "rolled properly," no matter how difficult it is to show why a particular die doesn't have this characteristic.  After listening to some lectures on physics by a guy name David Harriman, I blame Immanuel Kant for the idea that it makes sense to give up on finding a reason for the unexpected behavior of the die.  I also lay part of the blame on him for the legitimacy of fake authority.

People like Victoria Roberts and Nancy G Edmunds use fake authority to hurt people, either because they derive some benefit from it or because they don't know any better.  Either way, I wish I were closer to them (geographically) so that I could confront one or both of them.  I'm not afraid of the dark any more.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My MENSA Bio

I joined Mensa a few months ago.  I found a place where members can enter a bio, so here's what I put:

I have always wanted to be a teacher.  I went to UCSD's Teach Education Program (TEP) for one year and decided that there was too much red tape.  Years later, I read John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education, and then a few years after that, listened to his Ultimate History Lesson.  The knowledge I gained that way vindicated my abandonment of the TEP.
I ended up being a teacher anyway, though not in any official capacity.  I learn software (or write software) and then teach others how it works and how it fails.  I learned about bitcoin and now I explain it to anyone who is interested.  I buy bitcoin from those who need to sell it and sell it to those who need to buy it.

Jeff Schmidt wrote a book called "Disciplined Minds" in which he points out that most people who go through a higher education curriculum to get a degree, doctorate, or other credential start out with a view to doing the world some good, but the system through which they get that piece of paper degrades that view, slowly (though he doesn't say so, not inexorably) replacing that view with the brass ring of monetary gain, peer approval, and public stature.  I was lucky that I chose the humble path of becoming a teacher, wherein this trend is more obvious.  Had I pursued math, physics, chemistry, or something as complex (and continued living off my parents and inheritance, and perhaps even putting myself in debt), I imagine it would have taken me longer to feel this change.

As a software engineer after the dotcom bust, my ideals were intact and I started looking for tools that would leverage the Internet in the advancement of mankind.  The increasing density of communication provided by the Internet seemed to offer an excellent opportunity for individuals with great ideas to have their voices heard.  I researched the idea of what is now known as "crowdsourcing" the search for quality writing.  A friend of mine suggested taking a look at slashdot, since it allowed members to register their opinion of comments on news stories in a way the machine could use to identify what the group liked best.  On that site, I learned about Condorcet Voting, so I looked for a site that was using it and didn't find any.

I then started litmocracy.com.  With my writing site, I slowly learned something which is now, finally, gaining traction: There is rarely a single "best" choice for a large group, whether we're talking about candidates, pieces of writing, or things to do.  The ideal way to handle it is to allow the large group to break into smaller groups of people who share the same sensitivities.  That means politics is no good.

My friend Brian Gladish challenged me on using the Condorcet Method to elect public officials, pointing out that any political election involves forcing the minority to submit to decisions made by someone they don't agree with.  It's a lesson running Litmocracy for five years drove home for me.  During that time, I followed Brian's libertarian thinking to its natural conclusion, which is voluntaryism.  Now I am the volunteer webmaster for a site that existed for many years before I ever heard of it, called voluntaryist.com.

School was designed, as Gatto's work shows conclusively, to remove the unique features of children that make them difficult to control, but excellent and conscientious adults.  It's the same thing Schmidt was talking about: normalize and regulate the individual so that all the individuals going in come out roughly the same, prepared to do whatever an authority figure tells them to do.  Stanley Milgram studied that too, and found that it's a horrible scourge to the human race, but subtle enough that most people let it go.  Lord Acton put it this way: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  J.R.R. Tolkien turned it into a long saga in which two basically innocent people let it ultimately drag them into a pit of lava.

Tolkien's tale offers us hope.  The reason they both fell into that lava was because one of them knew that's where the ring belonged.  So who am I?  What am I?  I am, to most people, a meat suit, kind, intelligent, hopeful, cynical about authority, but optimistic about normal human beings.  To myself, I am the spirit of disclosure, an old soul working on a problem "The One" created for itself, which is this: How quickly can consciousness make an otherwise mechanistic universe identify and then maximize and realize the potential for joy?  I shine light in dark places, and encourage others to follow suit.