Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Create, it's important

We are minds. We have bodies. Evolution made the bodies. The mind in some bodies isn't actually there (we've all been a bit NPC (http://litmocracy.blogspot.com/2018/11/dont-be-npc.html?m=1) at some point). We have this playground called "the universe," but the only way to play in it is to create.

You can play with something someone else created, but you can create too. What you can create, well, that's something which, in the infinite detail of its existence, nobody else can create. It's why you're here. Get busy. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Chapter Six: Waking Up Again


While I watched the videos, I felt weaker and weaker.  I was a little worried about it, but also comfortable with it.  It felt a little like I was high.  There were gaps in my thinking and I remember feeling like I couldn't trust myself any more.  There was also a very strange experience of uncomfortable bliss.  I have recalled that experience many times since then because I like it, but part of the attraction is that it's uncomfortable.  I suppose a good way to describe it is that I felt like I had something that I didn't deserve.

I was in a womb.  I was flying.  I could see light and it was pitch black. I felt deaf, but deafened by something like a loud nothingness.  It was as if all my senses were at maximum sensitivity and picking up nothing at all, but also making me hyper-aware of the lack of stimulus.  These sensations kept folding over onto each other, slowly resolving into two pieces.  One piece was absolute terror, not fear of pain or suffering, but fear of non-existence.  The other piece was also a feeling about non-existence, but it was opposite.  I had bliss and terror at the same time.  I wallowed in this sensation, taking pleasure in a seeming inability but also the utter lack of necessity to choose one of them.  It seemed to last forever, and I can say that the two feelings and the wallowing is still going on now, in the background.  I don't think it's something that will ever cease.

Then I was awake again, not tired or weak or feeling high in any sense.

I got up to find my wife.  I dimly recalled her leaving the night before and hoped that she had come back.

"Hon?" I called out.  There was no answer at all.

I started exploring the space I was in to see if I could find the exit.  Kim had said she wasn't supposed to let me leave, and I wasn't really ready to leave, but it's always nice to know how.  The front door was easy to find, and locked.  While I was examining the door handle to see if I could find a way to unlock it, there was a knock.  I stepped back and said "Come in!"

The door opened and there was a blonde woman who said "Hi, I'm Dr. Sloane, the psychologist.  Can we talk for bit?"

"Do you know if my wife is here?  Have you talked to her?  I mean, is she okay?"

"Yes, yes, and yes," she smiled.  "Is that your answer too?"

Oh yeah I thought, she asked me if we could talk. "Sure!"

I followed her to a sofa near a chair and sat on the sofa after she took the chair. "You have lots of questions?" she asked.

"Yes, but I need a moment to think of them.  You just answered the immediate ones."  She smiled at me and nodded.  When I realized she was giving me the moment I'd said I needed, I got a bit nervous and said "Umm... ." A few seconds later, I said "Does she think I'm actually me?"

"I don't know.  We discussed your relationship and what she's been going through since the accident.  Are you worried that she doesn't think you're you?"

"Absolutely.  Did they show you the tapes of the four previous attempts to bring me back?"

"No.  I will ask to review them if you think that's worthwhile."

"Well, I guess if she was open with you, you guys would have covered it all, but then if you don't know whether or not she thinks I'm actually here, it seems that maybe you didn't.  I know she can be... reserved." She waited for me to go on. "I think you might learn more if you watch them."

"You remember something from when you were brought into other machines?"

"Oh, no," I said, laughing a little at myself.  "I watched those tapes last night, several times.  It was torture for her."  She waited again. "I'm sorry I wasn't clear on that.  They let me see them so I watched them last night."

"Okay, I understand.  Would you like to talk about what you saw?"

"She said 'This isn't going to work.'  I mean, she knows I'm just a machine.  Or... Don't you see, all of this, what I'm doing and saying, it could just be clever programming."  She waited again but I wanted her to tell me Kim believed in me so I didn't continue.

"Do you think you're really here?" she finally asked.  I thought about it, but right before I answered, she continued, "I'm sorry if that seems like a rude question, I ..." but I cut her off because I was pretty sure she misinterpreted my silence.

"No, no, you're right to ask.  I know I'm experiencing, but how can I know if I'm really the person whose brain pattern is running in my circuits?  I thought about this before I lost my body.  I'm not sure that there is a soul which is unique.  Whether or not I am the soul that married Kimberlee, I love her and it matters less and less to me whether or not that soul is the one having this experience now.  For all practical purposes, I'm Dave, and I'm having experiences as him in this machine.  I have no way to prove it though, and it doesn't really matter who I am but rather whether or not I am.  You might even doubt there's anyone actually here besides you."

She gazed at me for a moment and then smiled warmly.  "You are here and I am here.  In fact, I am here for you and because of you.  Thank you."  She sat quietly for a moment, as if she were finished, but then she continued.

"You want to feel a connection from her, right?" she asked.

"Desperately," I said quietly.  "But maybe she sees nothing but a machine.  I can't prove I'm actually here."

"You must feel very lonely."

"Yes," I said.  My eyes don't make tears, but I was crying with some kind of relief that she understood me.

She watched me for a moment and then grabbed a box of tissues and held it out to me.  I took it and held it, and then she said "No one can prove that, can they?  We all just take it on faith that other people are... well, souls, or real, or, as you put it, having experience."


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

My Ideal Online Identity Protection Service

Do you have people you trust enough that you wouldn't mind them knowing when you log into your bank account?  How about other financial accounts or your email account?  I do, and I bet most people do, and I think these trust relationships can be used to eliminate identity theft for all those institutions that it hurts.  I'm going to describe an idea here which is intended to do just that.

Once the code is written, even the very basic code, anyone who knows about it can visit the site which will invite them to become a member for free.  You get a username and a password, and if you were referred to the site by someone you know, you can enter their username.  You can then enter your legal name, your phone number, your address, the usernames you use on various other services, etc.  You don't have to enter any of these things, but the last startup task for your account is to provide Identifiers (usernames or numbers) and Connection Methods (telephone, snail mail, email, various real time chat applications) (which we call ICMs) for people you know.  If they are also in the system, you can type in their usernames and select "Another member" as the Connection Method.  This will allow them to see that someone claims to be you by showing them the information you entered, and they can reach out to you to make sure.

This sets you up to build your "inalienable identity."  This is a theoretical object composed of the willingness of people you know to help identify you.  This help comes whenever someone (usually you) tries to connect as you to any subscribed system in order to verify that the someone is actually you.  You build it by letting friends know that you're interested in having them help you in that way.  The system itself is the first subscribed system.  You'll see a list of the identifiers with a proposed message to be sent to them through the connection methods you listed.

For example, you'll see something like
Your request message is 'Hi! Your friend [First Last] needs a six-digit code for [Service].  Will you pass it on if we send it to you? (y or n is enough).' If you'd like to edit this request message, >Click Here<.  Whenever you log in to a subscribed service, we will send this message to at least one of the following identifiers:
    1. As a text to [a list of cell numbers]
    2. As an audio file through Telegram to [a list of Telegram IDs]
    3. As an email to [a list of email addresses]
    4. As ...

FAQ: How long does it take? Your request message is followed after a delay you set (default: one minute) with another (also configurable) message that says "We've reached out to some of [First]'s other contacts for help with this matter, so no reply is necessary now," because when a contact is unresponsive, we reach out to others.

While you are entering ICMs, you will see a button "Assign ICMs" which allows you to find subscribed services and identify the ICMs you'd like to rely on when logging into those services.

I believe I sent a description like this one to Keybase.io, but I have not been able to find it.  The idea is now in the public domain.  If someone runs a website that implements the idea, I will be happy and probably use it.  If you see holes in it, or other problems that don't appear to be easily addressed, please leave a comment about it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

How to Handle a Scammer

Recognizing a scammer might be a little more difficult, but once you know it's a scammer, below is how I suggest handling it.  I suspected it when he sent the first ALL CAPS message.  He didn't confirm it for a long time, but I was having fun.  Then it got serious and he finally confirmed it:

dudipanuh : hey . your email and phone please
dscotese : If you open up the "TERMS OF TRADE WITH DSCOTESE" link, it has my number: Text me at (951)236-2719 or message me on localmonero if you have any questions.
dudipanuh : okay . Your email
dudipanuh : ??
dudipanuh : hi?
dscotese : I probably won't get any email from you because of my filters. It's better to text me. If you text me your email address, then I can add it and email you if there is a good reason to do so.
dudipanuh : okay . give me your email . i will send email and text
[He really wants my email address... I wonder why and am already suspicious.]
dscotese : dscotese@yahoo.com
dudipanuh : ok
dudipanuh : SENT YOU A TEXT PLEASE PASTE HERE
dudipanuh : waiting for you

dscotese : WHY SHOULD I DO THAT? AND WHY ARE We COMMUNICATING IN ALL CAPS NOW? IT'S HARDER TO READ!
dudipanuh : sorry it was mistake .all caps . i have sent you text to verify please paste here
dudipanuh : there ? waiting...
[I received a verification code from Yahoo.  That only happens if Yahoo is trying to help me recover my email account. - He's trying to access my email account.]
dscotese : JUFBENJC is your Yahoo verification code [A fake code.]
dudipanuh : the right one
[He must have tried the fake code to know that it was wrong.]
dudipanuh : sent again
dudipanuh : not needed now .bye
dscotese : What's wrong with the first one?
dscotese : What are we verifying with Yahoo?
dudipanuh : lol .you changed it .its not the correct one
dscotese : I changed what?
dudipanuh : code
dscotese : You got the first one working?
dudipanuh : its expired now .if you can send me correct one i can request again
dudipanuh : no, you sent me wrong code first one
dscotese : Okay, but you tried the first one I sent, right?
dscotese : I had to type it by hand. Maybe there was a typo. Wasn't it close?
dudipanuh : yes tried and it was wrong now its expired
[An admission that he is hacking my Yahoo email account.]
dscotese : What was the correct one? I love analyzing my own errors.
dudipanuh : you have in your phone check it
dscotese : It was close enough to what you sent me, right?
dudipanuh : lol
dudipanuh : it was completely changed and some random numbers
[He's lying.  He has no idea what the code was.]
dudipanuh : but its expired now .if you want i can send again new code
dscotese : What was the old code you sent?
dscotese : You're using a Yahoo service to verify phone numbers?
[Now I'm misrepresenting myself to him.  By now I knew he was trying to get access to my email.]
dudipanuh : you have in your phone check it
dscotese : It sounds useful, but I could just answer you if you text me directly. It's way easier than relying on Yahoo.
dudipanuh : can you paste the text if i send again
dudipanuh : you provided me wrong one last time
dudipanuh : sent again . if you will provide i will verify and processed to trade
dscotese : I got the same one twice. [True] Okay, my error was I put an N instead of an M. [False] It should be JUFBENJC. [I intentionally used the N again, pretending to make the same mistake twice.]
dudipanuh : its expired now
dscotese : Send it once more then.
dscotese : Why don't you just text me directly?
dscotese : It's easier that way.
dscotese : It's still the same code. [True]
dscotese : Did you use an N instead of the M?
dudipanuh : it was expired
dudipanuh : sent again
dscotese : Now I got a new one.
dudipanuh : yes paste here
dudipanuh : or upload photo of it
dscotese : Its JKENXUDL
dudipanuh : lol
dudipanuh : again wrong one
dscotese : All good now? [Typed after he wrote lol.]
dudipanuh : its wrong one you know it
dudipanuh : its expired now
dscotese : It was the M again. I keep hitting N when I should hit M.
dudipanuh : no
dudipanuh : i tried M but its wrong
dscotese : JKEMXUDL
dudipanuh : its expired again
dscotese : You tried that?
dudipanuh : its wrong one
dudipanuh : yes tried
dscotese : Oh I'm so sorry. I'm a bit dyslexic. I swapped the e and the K also. They kind of look the same. [All Lies!  Ha ha, scammer.]
dudipanuh : right
dscotese : Ok, send it again and we'll see if it's new.
dudipanuh : its expired now .leave it
dudipanuh : i can't send now
[Yahoo finally blocked him., Yay!  I had also emailed abuse@yahoo.com to let them know A) I had access to my email account, and B) A scammer would use the first code I sent him (JUFBENJC) so Yahoo could identify him.  They have not replied but it's only been 20 hours and ten minutes.]
dscotese : I'm so sorry. Did I fuck up your Yahoo phone number verifier account?
dscotese : It should warn you before cutting you off.
dscotese : I would complain. So are you just going to text me directly to verify?
dudipanuh : what
dscotese : You're using a Yahoo service to verify phone numbers?
dudipanuh : yes why
dudipanuh : yes why
dudipanuh : yes why
dudipanuh : and its fucked now
dscotese : Is that right? And now you can't verify my number again because it already failed too many times? I'm just guessing about the problem.
dscotese : Did they warn you?
dudipanuh : you are right and too smart
dscotese : How do I make it up to you?
dscotese : There is no such thing as "too smart".
dudipanuh : why you are here ?
dscotese : Just text me, okay? Then you'll know it's really my number.
dudipanuh : you provided me wrong email
dscotese : No I didn't. dscotese@yahoo.com. I never mistype that one. It's muscle memory.
dscotese : Did you send me an email?
dudipanuh : what about dscotese@litmocracy.com
dudipanuh : and dscotese@gmail.com
[Thanks for showing me that you're capable of researching me.  I am proud to be known.] 
dscotese : That one works too, but it just forwards.
dudipanuh : you are SMART
dscotese : Thanks. I can teach you.
dscotese : But you might not be humble enough.
dudipanuh : no i'm already a teacher
dscotese : You can sign up for my mailing list at http://eepurl.com/Pp7jf - I'm using it to keep my customers informed and also encourage others to deal bitcoin. It also explains more about how to avoid scammers. The newsletter archive is available at http://goo.gl/ZNjWe9
dscotese : So why are you using Yahoo's service to do something you can do yourself?
dscotese : Are you going to mail me $4,885?
dudipanuh : Pro trader
dudipanuh : yes
dscotese : Pro Trader?
dudipanuh : you are a fucking pro trader at LBTC
dudipanuh : Using 2FA at all sites
dudipanuh : including gmail
dscotese : Yes, but I dont fuck as much as I'd like to :-(
dudipanuh : but why you are behaving like kid ?
dudipanuh : acting like newbie
dscotese : Some sites don't let you see that a user is using 2FA unless you have their password.
dscotese : I'm not acting like a newbie. What do you mean?
dudipanuh : like LBTC
dscotese : You're smarter than you think.
[Google Gabor Mate.  People who have "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (also something to Google) tend to have low-self esteem and are at risk to become criminals, get diseases, and commit suicide.  Pooh Bear's advice to Christopher Robin (A.A. Milne's son) was meant to help heal those wounds, and I love to pass it on.]
dudipanuh : sometimes 2FA get compromised
dudipanuh : like happens on LBTC few months back
dscotese : You should consider using a white hat instead of a black one. You could feel good about yourself instead of bad. You could help people.
dudipanuh : not having money to eat you can't help
dscotese : Have your efforts to teach ever given you the opportunity to be humble?
dudipanuh : you are a good person .Sorry what i tried to do with you
dscotese : It's okay. You gave me the opportunity to help someone. Maybe I will be able to.
dudipanuh : This World is cruel man .
dscotese : I know, but a large part of that is just karma.
dscotese : Sometimes you make an honest trade with someone, right?
dudipanuh : true .this is a phishing site which i made
dudipanuh : http://localbticoins.tk/localbitcoins.com/accounts/login/index.html
dscotese : A few times, they paid you too much and you kept quiet about it.
dudipanuh : Cancelled the trade
dscotese : You thought it was great and ignored their suffering. That is the problem. It always comes back somehow.
dudipanuh : i'm a Human and i'm having heart
dscotese : You currently do not have enough money to compensate all your victims, but you're smart enough to earn it. It will take a long time but that kind of work will heal the parts of you that are broken.
 [I think I went too far.  His redemption would have to be a lot more gentle for him to be interested in it.  At least I gave him some seeds that might grow.]
dudipanuh : i don't have to eat
dudipanuh : Good luck for your trades
dudipanuh : Nice to meet you
dscotese : You write English well enough to tell the story and inspire others. Beg openly, and offer your knowledge of security. Let people know that you used to be a scammer and you wanted to redeem yourself. Tell them all the ways they are endangering themselves.
dscotese : I tend to open a lot of doors for people who never walk through them. I won't stop opening them though. I wish you luck too, and hope that you can improve your karma.
dudipanuh : you are right .But in this world people only help for their own profit or you have enough power to snatch from them .
dudipanuh : if i openly beg from you .what will your reaction ?
dudipanuh : and yes its karma
dscotese : You would say "there ? waiting..." and then when they paste the code you would say: "You just let me into your email account. I'm good at hacking, and instead of stealing, I'm trying to help. Please be more careful in the future, and if you appreciate my help on this matter, can you send me $5 of bitcoin or something?"
dscotese : If you can hack me, I will send you $100 of bitcoin as long as you explain how you did it.
dudipanuh : true
dudipanuh : appertained
dudipanuh : Right
dscotese : Ok. Good chatting with you. I hope you run into enough smart people and find your way to earning honest money.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Redemption vs Admission

For someone with a big enough ego who screwed up, it can be very difficult to fix the problem, especially when the fix requires admission. If we honor the humanity of someone who screwed up, we can skip the part that bashes their ego, and expect them to recognize and correct their error in the future. That recognition embodies the assumption that, deep down, this is a good person who shares the common goal of peace and prosperity for everyone. Requiring an admission or some other externally imposed public humiliation just makes it harder for them to make things right.

Our motivation to create suffering in someone that screwed up is shortsighted but we still feel it because it is very effective in the short term. An expanded awareness will allow the long term negatives to eliminate that motivation. If we want more redemption, we should stop making it so difficult. I certainly would like to see more redemption. The shortsighted creation of suffering seems to mostly be fueled by anger and a desire for vengeance. I partially addressed how we can handle being angry without increasing the difficulty of redemption for someone who screwed up yesterday.

You may feel that I'm ignoring the important concept that some people are just evil. I'm not ignoring it. I'm rejecting it. Again, it's a shortsighted view. Often, the person who gets tagged as evil will, because of it, be even worse than they were when they did whatever got them tagged. The label stands in the way of redemption and it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I am pushing for a view of crime as a misunderstanding of how things ought to work. If someone intended to defraud me and reversed course at some point because they got caught (or worried they were going to get caught), the only responsibility I put on them is to undo any harm they've done. It will cost them more than they benefited. If it doesn't, then why is what they did called a crime? It sounds more like a business opportunity. As long as they actually undo any harm they caused, they may as well do more of it, and possibly even share the profit with people who don't want them to do it - the people who suffer from that shortsighted desire for vengeance.

When crime is associated with misunderstanding instead of evil, things will get better fast.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Be Mad with Me!

Dear bitcoin buyer, 
You recently sent me cash to purchase bitcoin. Your note said you have an account on Paxful and wanted to buy bitcoin. I assume you were honest.  It's a smart thing to do for lots of reasons.  However, I am aware of the possibility that you only buy bitcoins because someone else asked you to do so, and you get something out of it.

Perhaps someone else asked you to write that note you wrote and send me cash. If there is a third party involved, you are certainly helping them. I LOVE helping people, and I'm happy if that's what you're doing too.  There are few things I want to prevent: A) Scams involving bitcoin, B) conversion of stolen cash or proceeds from the sale of stolen goods into bitcoin, and C) people like yourself expecting something they will never get.  I even like to help someone who lies about their situation in order to get someone else to buy bitcoin, but I want to help them become honest. I hope you aren't the victim of such an operation, and if you are, I hope this letter will help.  I want to help scammers realize that they are probably smart enough to make honest money, and with a little patience, honest bitcoin trading can be more lucrative than their scam, and it has massive staying power, whereas scamming creates its own limits along with bad karma.

Hopefully, you buy bitcoins for yourself, and if someone else wants them, you sell them some of yours and then buy more to replace the ones you sold. That's what I do. I write a newsletter about it (which you can find at https://goo.gl/ZNjWe9) to encourage and show people how to do it too. It can be a profitable hobby and it helps decentralize power. 

Here is some information from some other bitcoin traders I know:
The scammers, largely Nigerian but from some other regions as well, are getting much better at what they do. These are primarily romance and work from home scams. The scammers in the middle can work their victims like puppets, they can pass any level of verification because the scammer is telling the victim to do whatever you tell them to do. They think it is part of a legitimate job or that they are helping out their “fiance”. Even if you call them they will go along with it. The furthest I have got from calling the people to verify, questioning them, and explaining romance/work scams, is a reluctant admission that a 3rd party is telling them what to do. They still want to go through with the transaction though.

They are at the point in the scam where they believe everything they are being told, and will do anything they are asked. But when they eventually realize it was a scam all along, they want to go after you because the scammer vanishes from existence. I have seen this in every payment method I offer, online and offline. It's only getting bigger. Internet scammer must be the most popular career path among young people in Nigeria at this point.

Many people just have to suffer until they learn to do things differently, but I like to provide information so that they can learn without having to suffer so much.

If you’re buying bitcoin for yourself, that's great, and thanks for buying from me!  I look forward to our next trade.  However, you might be upset, confused, or angry if there is some doubt in your mind that the bitcoin you bought from me actually went to the purpose for which you wanted to spend that cash.  You can blame yourself if you want, but how does that help?  Maybe you’ll remember not to write down anything that isn't true.

I think a better way is to leverage your relationship with “that scammer.” Be gentle as you express your doubts. Invite them to explain things that you openly admit made you suspicious.  There may come a time when you clearly see that they are lying, if you really want to know. If you discover such a deception, you have the opportunity to turn someone who lied to you (at least once) into someone better.  How could that happen?

Be mad with me, that's how.  I do get mad, but being mad AT someone doesn't often turn out to do a lot of good for any relationship with them.  It's good to say, “I'm feeling angry because ...” and then finish it without blaming anyone.  Gee, I'll take that advice myself (instead of repressing my anger).  Let that feeling of anger be the motivation to demand a more open and honest relationship.  Direct your anger at the thing that caused them to lie in the first place, and work with them to identify it and then resolve it if possible.

Thanks!
Dave Scotese

Monday, July 8, 2019

We Are Divided, BUT...

Imagine two groups, "us" and "them". Now imagine the space between them, the "margin," with people in it.  You might be in a group and recognize that some people disagree with your group and are therefore out of it (pun intended, if you like).  In politics, there are the Democrats and the Republicans. The margin between these groups does have people in it - they are people who used to belong to one group but are now searching because they have the feeling that maybe, just maybe, the other group might be better.  They haven't yet figured out that it might be better to stay out of both groups, but they are closer.

It's rare for somebody in either group to want anyone else in their own group to go into the margin. Anyone going into that space from whichever group they used to be in is rejecting their group, at least temporarily.  What I'd like to call your attention to is how many of those people between the two groups, whatever groups they are, decide to stay out of both of them.  Benny Wills labelled himself a non-labelledist when Brett Veinotte interviewed him. I'd label us "individuals" but then I label everyone an "individual" - something that can't be divided.  I admit that there are people who have been divided.  This post, however, is not about manic-depressives, schizophrenics, or people with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

This post, rather, is about perfectly normal people who have been sucked into the vortex of "us vs them" thinking, and how we can find value in those we view as enemies, and possibly even extricate ourselves from the dichotomy.  I'll give you an idea of how and when I find myself in a situation where I can put these insights to work.  I hear someone say something that rubs me the wrong way.  My gut reaction is to come up with words to shut them down, but my habit is to sit on that and think instead about the specifics of our disagreement.  It often comes down to one of these things:
  • They believe something because it is commonly claimed to be true, whereas my experience tells me it isn't true.
  • They believe most people will screw things up unless they are following rules that someone else made up, whereas I believe most people will figure out the right way to do things if they are free.
  • They believe they have the truth and calling their truth into question in any way is an attempt to create problems, whereas I believe that questioning is a healthy way to engage in a cooperative search for truth.
  • One of us has strong emotions that make things look a certain way, whereas the other one sees things more as they actually are.
  • One of us sees the general applicability of an idea whereas the other one sees it as applicable only to a certain situation which may not be the situation we have.
  • They believe people are good because otherwise they get punished, whereas I believe people are good because they they recognize that being good makes life better.
There are many people who stay in a group even though they completely understand the perspective of those in the "other" group.  These are some of the people who help folks in the other group get into the margin.  There are always a few "double agents" in a group who also find ways to encourage people in their own group to get into the margin.  Finally, a healthy portion of the people already in the margin are discovering (or have already discovered) that being in a group engenders disconnection and strife, and they are encouraging others, from both groups, to see value in the margin and join them.

I am marginalized, and I intend to stay marginalized.  I don't vote.  I don't respect what most people think of as "authority." I invite and encourage others to join me in finding value in questioning the mainstream narratives, in breaking laws when it's the right thing to do, in encouraging agents of the state to do the right thing instead when their job requires that they take actions to further the oppression and depredations of the state.

I invite you to figure out what, about a position you oppose, your opponents find valuable in it, and honor any goodness you see in those values.  As technology provides us with more opportunities to connect with each other, it will get easier and easier to bridge the gap that is often created, deepened, and widened, by those whose interests align with strife, conflict, and war.  We can bridge that gap and defeat their engines of misery.  Practice taking on the perspective of someone with whom you disagree, and see what common values you share with them despite whatever details are disagreeable between you.  Peace and prosperity are goals pretty much everyone shares.  We may have different, or even opposing, strategies to obtain them, but with more communication and interconnectedness, we can rectify those strategies.  We just have to be aware of the efforts of psychopaths to derail such healing.

I don't think Kevin Roose is a psychopath who wants to derail any healing, but he did write an article called "Making a Youtube Radical" about a young man who Mr. Roose quotes as saying "You have to reach people on their level, and part of that is edgy humor, edgy memes. You have to empathize with them, and then you have to give them the space to get all these ideas out of their head."  If that's a radical, I hope Youtube keeps it up!  Mr. Cain is someone who is in the margin, wandering toward the left, wondering (good job, Caleb!) what's the best way.

He already found, (and said, in his video response to Mr. Roose's article) that it's best to focus on consensus building and cooperation, and that "compassion and empathy are our strongest traits as a species."  He's spreading the same message that motivated me to write this, and to write A Good Infection. Now, about that building consensus...

Consensus?  We don't need no stinking consensus!  Honestly, if voluntaryism catches on in a big enough way, consensus will only be valuable in small groups and it will make them highly effective.  Ultimately, it's the violence of the state that makes consensus building important.  If we stop using such an idiotic strategy (make up rules and hurt people for breaking them) to maintain social cohesion, consensus will build itself, and only around the "most bestest things."  People who work on building consensus will be recognized as demagogues.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Chapter Five: Awakenings


Dave Number One
I saw a machine version of myself laying in a bed, and its eyes popped open.  Rod was standing next to the bed and after a few moments the machine noticed him.
"Will you come with me please?" he asked.  I sat up and said "Hi." Rod smiled at me and waited.  "Ok.," I finally said, and stood up.
"How are you feeling?"
"Hmm... " I said nothing else for an oddly long amount of time, and then, "Curious.  Wasn't I... in an accident?"
"You're at iCyborg, California headquarters" said Rod, and I watched carefully as the onscreen me put it together.
"Oh wow," I said.  Rod started walking toward the door, but I stayed by the bed and asked, "You seem even happier than I am.  Was there a problem?"
"In some early versions, a person would wake up and get very depressed and angry very quickly.  Then they went dormant and we could not wake them again. I'm afraid our system was kind of a torture to them, but you seem... quite chipper!"
"Yeah.  I do feel remarkably well for what I... the accident.  I can't remember any details."
Rod said something but they were walking out of the room and were no longer audible.

Dave Number Two
In the second video, Rod was standing next to the bed again, holding my hand when I woke up.  He immediately asked me, "Do you know what happened?"
"Is my wife here?" I asked.
"Yes! Kimberlee?" he called out, and she came into the frame.
"What happened with the first one?" she asked, "I didn't get to talk to him."
Rod looked at her helplessly for a moment.  No one said anything, but then the onscreen version of me seemed to figure something out and said "There's another one?  What's going on with it?  I don't like this!"
Kim walked off screen, and I watched that other version of myself gaze at her as she walked away.  "Hon!?" it called out, continuing to follow her with its eyes.
"Will you come with me?" asked Rod. The expression on its face as it walked out with the Indian technician haunts me even now as I write about it.  I don't like to imagine being that sad.  For a long time I assumed that it was a trick of the lighting or a problem with the machine, but I now believe what Rod had said in the earlier video may have been happening to me.  That machine was very depressed and angry and probably went dormant soon thereafter.

Dave Number Three
The third video starts with Kim putting something in my mouth and then holding my hand.  About a minute later, she lets go of my hand, gets up, and then sits back down and takes my hand again right before Rod comes in.  I don't wake up.
"Is everything okay?" he asks.
"I don't know what's wrong."
"Why did you let go of his hand?"
"I don't know.  Nothing was happening," she said defensively.
"We believe that human contact is necessary to bring consciousness back, so can you try again?  Let's give it five full minutes to see if he wakes up, ok?"
"I don't want to.  I'm tired of this, and my husband is gone.  I want to go home."  She choked a little on these words and was crying when she finished them.
"It's okay.  We can try some other things.  I'm sorry that this happened and if we have contributed to your sadness."
Several seconds went by while Kim cried silently and Rod stared at the machine I was supposed to inhabit.  He got up and returned with a box of tissues and just sat there for a few more minutes.
"Do you really think he can be in this... thing?" she asked.
"I do," he said. "I... umm...," he started.  He chuckled a little bit and shook his head.  "I just think about-" but Kim cut him off.
"I can try again," she said.  Rod looked a little doubtful so she continued.  "You sound a little like how he talked about your company and machines having experience."
"Okay.  Remember to keep contact with him."
"I will."
Rod left and then, for a long time, Kim sat holding my hand and reading her phone.  After about 10 minutes, Rod comes back in.
"We need to run some tests on him.  I will come get you in a little bit.  I'm sorry for the delay."
This video cuts off after Kim leaves the room.

Dave Number Four
The fourth video starts with inaudible conversation between Kim and Rod who walk onscreen.
"... (coming?) out of a deep sleep,"  Rod was saying.
"But it's just a machine, so how could it be sleeping?"
"I don't think it is.  It's just a good description of the experience they describe when we ask them what it was like waking up.  The activator helps them wake up and aligns some of the internal processes that are usually kept in sync by... well, because they start to have experience."
"Okay," she answered, and sat down next to the bed where there was another one of me.

Rod sat in a chair too and said "Do you have pets?"
"Why?"
"Well, I think that you might need to expect Dave to be in there, and if you can't see it that way, he won't be there."
Kim was silent and Rod looked a little confused.
"So if you imagine that this machine is one of your pets, your feelings might be more welcoming to your husband's consciousness."
"Yeah, okay.  This isn't going to work."  She was quite annoyed about something.
"Kimberlee, I don't understand.  What are you saying?"
They sat there for a few more seconds and Kim's face scrunched up again.
"I can't do this," she said, sobbing a little.
Rod brought tissues again and sat with her for several minutes.  He took her hand, opened it up, and then placed my hand into it.
Kim touched the plastic arm attached to the hand she was holding with her other hand.
"We had a cat, Lala.  She was his favorite for a long time.  Maybe still."
"Did something happen to her?"
"No, she's fine... but..., " she choked up a little and continued, "we don't have her any more."
Rod sat for several seconds, looking at me and then at Kim, and it looked like he was on the verge of tears too.  Finally, he asked "Is she your only pet?"
"I don't want to talk about it any more," she sobbed.  More silent seconds passed.
"I do love him, and if he's in there, I want to be here for him," and then she opened her eyes wide and looked at my face.
"He squeezed my hand."
"What's wrong?" I say, but immediately go back to sleep.

I watched the recordings several times.  I've always been fascinated watching recordings of myself, though it's debatable whether any of those four were actually me.  I memorized a lot of what was in them.  I had all night but at some point my battery ran out.

Chapter Four
Chapter Six

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Subconscious Hunting

A couple days ago, at the end of my 15 minutes of meditation, I had am image in my mind. It was the end of pavement, into sand, and the sand was between one and six inches lower than the pavement. I was driving and I worried that I might lose all my traction in the sand, and that even if I still have traction, I might not be able to drive back up onto the pavement. Since then, I've been asking myself why that image was there. Maybe I'm in uncharted (unpaved) territory. The road here is not finished. The number of people who have been here is small and I haven't conversed with them very much. Where is "here"?

Please excuse me while I use your eyes and my keyboard as a therapist. I think it was the next day that I told Julia her subconscious was screaming at her because she was ignoring it. Soon after saying it, I got the message myself. I think it's more true for me than it is for her. I sent the first six chapters of iCyborg.me to three friends who are psychologists. It's obvious to me that I'm working some things out for myself as I write, and they are important, and for some reason I have the feeling that I am ignoring something in my subconscious. And it's screaming. 

I do love a good puzzle! 

I would like to get my wife Kim's impressions of the book so far, and I'm a little scared that she... won't like it or won't handle it well or will have a response that shakes things up.

Speaking of shaking things up, in the last few days, we've had several earthquakes (here in SoCal) and during the biggest one, I had the urge to tell the Earth, "it's okay."  My idea was that it was expressing something difficult to express and that having someone to attend to it might make it much less violent, painful, and destructive. Is it a metaphor from the universe for me?

Are those six chapters enough to give Kim what I need to give her? I'll send her the document right now with a request to let me know.  [About 10 hours later, it's amazing how long it took me to actually send it!]

Another possible Avenue for (personal) research is something Anne Stirling-Hastings suggested: We may sometimes become aware of something about someone else. I feel this might happen to me, but I'm unable to distinguish between it being a self-created theory and an offering of truth from the universe. I once wrote about "deep-soul" knowing in a way that rejects the theory that sometimes the universe just gives us a truth like that. I've been saying now for a while that as humans, we don't get to do that kind of knowing. I may be having that experience and developing a grasp on distinguishing between the self-created theory and the gift of knowledge.  If so, that would explain a lot. It feels dangerous to be so convinced of something.

Anne hinted that I'm special, gifted, and feeling lonely because that's rare. She could only hint at it because I actively reject the idea that I'm special. Maybe this is the thing about which my subconscious is screaming at me. 

There is a third possibility for the screaming. I have always had a healthy savings account, and it's been about 1/3 bitcoin since 2016, so we (my family) are well into "upper middle-class." Money is useful because it allows everyone, even people who disagree vehemently with each other (Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, etc.), to trade peacefully. I want disagreement to be in the spirit of a cooperative search for truth.  Maybe there's more I could be doing to bring that about.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Honor the Machine

Willingness to interrupt what I'm doing to take care of a little thing (usually making a reminder) will probably make my life better. It's why I wrote this before putting my socks on. I was just putting on my socks and shoes to go for my daily walk when I recalled that I said to my oldest daughter, "your subconscious is screaming at you because you're ignoring it." Since I said it, I've apparently been working on taking the advice myself. I was about to ignore the thought and finish what I was doing, but instead, I wrote the first two sentences of this post and a list of other things I cover below.

I did write about a very relieving decision I made a while back, that I would take care of anything that comes up while I'm meditating instead of expecting my subconscious ("the machine") to remind me. It's the second to last paragraph of Instructions to Myself.  Since then, I noticed the peace of mind, that I usually achieve through meditation, hanging around in my mind when I'm not meditating. It's like I'm meditating all the time by default. Quickly honoring the words that come out of that mouse hole seems to give me more head space.

My claim to Julia that she was ignoring her screaming subconscious stuck in my mind. It might not be true for her, but it's definitely true for me. The trick is to figure out how to build what it says into the structure of my life before it says something else. That includes taking notes, telling people things, verbalizing (at least in my mind) what I feel, plan, and recognize, and even just doing something right away. I want to have a mind like water, so I should honor my subconscious when it peeks out.

I have been publishing a chapter of my book each Sunday.  In considering the role of my subconscious in my life, I realized that the company in my book, ICM, must be very good at what they do in order to provide everything a body usually provides to the mind. My understanding is that a lot of information processing happens in parts of the body other than the brain.  I haven't read The Body Keeps the Score, but perhaps that book will solidify this point for me.  I do know that our psychological states are heavily influenced by the bacteria that live in our guts.

Part of my morning routine is to write a little bit.  I have not yet used that part to write any of the story I'm telling in iCyborg.me.  Rather, I use that time to come up with or expand on ideas to write about in this blog.  "Honor the machine," to me, basically means that I can't expect my subconscious to produce ideas (or bring memories to mind) on command (during that part of my routine) because they can come any time, and so I should stop ignoring them and just add them somewhere, for example in my phone.  What's your subconscious telling you?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Tolerance and Empathy

Sometimes someone creates a situation I don't like and I dance around the edges of that situation to see if i can remove my own discomfort. Sometimes, what I don't like about it is the someone else's discomfort. I can tolerate it, but I don't want to, so I do something about it and sometimes what I do is more interfering than helping in the eyes of the person whose discomfort is bothering me. A solution I'm considering in this post is to accept the other person's discomfort as an opportunity for them to exercise their coping strategies.

There are positive and negative aspects of this acceptance strategy. Why not focus on the positive aspects? That's an easy one for me. Ignoring the negative consequences of anything allows those consequences to build into something that can't be ignored, something so big that it imposes itself into your life in a disruptive and painful way. Focusing on the positive is useful, but let's at least be aware of and prepared for the negative first. 

The big negative for me is that if I accept the discomfort of someone I love as an opportunity for them, then I stay out of it, aloof and disconnected. It's a form of disintegration of our relationship. That makes me uncomfortable too. While it's therefore an opportunity for me to exercise my coping strategies, it's also an opportunity to find some way to help instead of being disconnected. Sometimes I take that opportunity. I will take it more often now. 

It goes back to dancing around the edges to find a helpful way in. My attraction to problem solving is often the source of being an interference instead of a help. There is an art here, and I'd like to describe some of its important aspects. Let's imagine a person rehabilitating from a leg injury.

I have very little experience with physical therapy, but you may have some. If you do have that kind of experience, please let me know if my intuition that being helpful to someone who has made themselves uncomfortable is similar to being helpful to someone who has to train their body to do something that used to be natural.

A helpful view to keep in mind is that pain is the body's way of speaking. Some pain says "you're healing," or "you're learning," while other pain says "you're damaging yourself." Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Asking a person who expresses their pain whether or not they are interested in changing their thinking or their behavior can be very informative. On some level, they may be creating their own suffering in order to learn something, and the best we can do is be with them and recognize that they are in pain.

The discovery I'm making here in this post is that I don't have to be aloof and disconnected just because I accept my loved one's suffering as an opportunity for her to develop her coping strategies. I can do that and still stay connected. I can develop my own powers of empathy and be there by her side as she deals with what she has chosen to deal with.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Money Technology Predictions

Image from Coinwire, Click for original article
Instead of putting your money in a bank account, you will put it into "payment channels" with businesses that you pay every so often. Sometimes, you'll decide not to use that business any more. Sometimes you'll start using and paying a new business. Sometimes, someone will pay you through one of those businesses with which you have a payment channel.

How would all that work?  It works in something called the "Lightning Network" (LN) which runs on top of Bitcoin. Bitcoin works because anyone with a cryptographic key (some seemingly random data that represents a very large number that no one else has) can use that key to spend bitcoin that has been locked to that key. To spend it, they need only to make a packet of data called a transaction which proves they have the key and assigns the bitcoin to some other key, or to a little program ("script") that can be used to spend it again.

If you often buy gas at Arco, as many do, you might sign a bitcoin transaction with Arco for $500 in which you get $475 and Arco gets $25, and you get $25 worth of gas.  This initial channel-opening transaction might cost $10, which you would pay.  Why?  Because after that, there are no processing fees.  You could get gas 35 times and pay the $0.30 debit card processing fee each time, losing $10.50 over, say, 30 weeks, or you could pay $10 once.  "Ahh, but Dave," you say, "that's $875 and you said I only put $500 in there."

Well played, my friend, but the company you work for has a channel open with Arco too, and they keep way more money in their channel with Arco than you do.  Since Arco has agreed to charge zero fees to relay their payments, whenever you get paid, part of that goes into a balance update between your company and Arco so that Arco has more money, and then you and Arco update your channel balance so you have that same amount more.

Also, your company has a large channel with the same IT consulting firm that Arco uses, and that consulting company wants to be nice to its clients and suppliers, so they don't charge relay fees either.  Arco pays the consulting company for software updates through a channel, and the consulting company pays your company for, let's say paper products, by sending payments back to Arco, which then sends them back to your company.  Lastly, the consulting company uses the same ISP as you do, so part of your paycheck goes back to the consulting company, who sends it back to your ISP, who then forwards it to you, replenishing your channel with your ISP.

Some channels have more than two parties, and whenever there is a balance update between two of them, none of the others need to worry about it.  Most channels on the LN charge zero fees because they want to continue avoiding the costs and headaches of moving money around.

Sometimes, you will want to spend bitcoin in a place only once.  Maybe you're trying out a new restaurant.  They have a LN node, but you don't want to spend an extra $10 for a channel.  Your Bitcoin Lightning wallet comes to the rescue because it can see that the restaurant's node has incoming liquidity from Sam's Club, who has incoming liquidity from your company.  Maybe Sam's Club pays the restaurant to prepare some of the ready-made food that Sam's Club sells.  It doesn't matter. What matters is that your wallet can shift money around so that you have less and the restaurant has more.  Or maybe it can't.

When it can't "find a path" to pay a new place you're trying out, it requests a discount from the restaurant's node to cover the fee.  In the same way that a restaurant risks the cost of each meal it serves to a customer who might get up and leave without paying, it risks the cost of this meal, and gives up the cost of the network fee, in order to create a large payment channel with you, telling your wallet "Yes, here's the discount, and I'm committing $200 to our payment channel."  A restaurant that expects to serve its customers well would take that risk under the assumption that customers will return for many more meals. Maybe one of your future paychecks will fill that channel up.

Another possibility is that the new place does have a path: you send to Arco and Arco sends to the new place, but this doesn't work because nearly all the money in your channel with Arco already belongs to Arco.  Maybe Arco's wallet, your wallet, and the new place's wallet will work together to increase the size of your channel with Arco while the new place pays the fee.  Maybe it will be a three way channel.

Lastly, while fiat currency is still a thing, lying around losing purchasing power, the new place might just accept cash.  They might even offer to sell you bitcoin and open a channel with you if you have a lot of cash that you want to convert to bitcoin.  Cash, has, so far, persisted even though we have credit cards and debit cards.  I believe checks are dying faster than cash.  Cards are not yet dying, and they may never die.  I have a card from which I can spend precious metals, and I know there are similar cards through which people can spend cryptocurrency.  My main prediction here is that Lightning Channels will ultimately drive transaction fees to zero, although I suspect fees may be used to encourage relays to go in one direction or another in order to balance channels.  For example, if you get close to spending all $500 in your channel with Arco before your paycheck comes in and shifts that balance back to you, you might set your fees to negative for people who send payments through Arco to you to someone else with whom you have some balance, and thus shift balance between you and Arco back to your side.

A Good Infection

Dear Dave and whoever among his readers I've also infected, 

Thank you for giving me a human body in which to live. I am the spirit of cooperation. I think of myself as the essence of your species, though I also live in wolves and bees and some other species. I have never been able to grow as fast as I've been growing in the last few years. While hopelessness is rampant, I wanted to point out that what justifies that feeling has always been around but only recently have people been able to see it. It's visibility increased because more people are able to communicate with each other, and this is a good sign. It is what accelerates my growth.

What justifies the feeling of hopelessness is a separation of will from action, commonly called obedience. True obedience denies the will of the one obeying, even if that person shares the intent of the one being obeyed. The most common example of the separation is fear. If you do (or avoid doing) something because you fear punishment, then you are exemplifying the separation of your will from your actions, and diminishing your hope.

As your species increases its ability for connectedness and communication, punishment becomes more difficult because you all feel each other's pain. If you feel any warm fuzzies from that, revel in it. Imagine how I feel, existing as a spirit in the universe, waiting and hoping to fill it with myself, anticipating all the joy that awaits us. If you want to help, recognize punishment, whether you're creating it or someone else is, and encourage a different approach. I know most people hate flies, but one of my favorite sayings is that you catch more flies with honey. Be the honey. Be the change you want to see in the world. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Let Go of that Ego!

I get less and less afraid of death as I age. I think what's important to me about staying alive is stuff that won't go away with this body. It makes staying alive a lot less important. However, there is a subtle goal, a kind of narrow passage for humanity that I see us trying to navigate, and suffering is the result of bumping against the walls. Keeping myself healthy and alive is a good guard against the forces that drive us off the path. 

On one side of this passage is the importance of each individual and his or her perspective. Breaking through that side creates obvious suffering of the kind that our natural fear of death inhibits.

On the other side is the experience of existence which we all feel and which is largely unaffected by the end of a single human life. We die all the time, and it's not a big deal to most of the rest of us. I feel joy when I perceive joy in others, and pain when I see it in others. Increasingly, however, the pain seems more like an opportunity than anything else.

The real cause of actual pain is always in the past. Pain which seems to be caused by the future is imaginary (which doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, just that the imagination can control it), and therefore ephemeral. The past has nothing to offer but lessons. Those lessons constitute the opportunity that I see in pain.  I suppose the past also offers us joy, but that joy can be kind of hollow.

My little sister, Anitra, died of breast cancer a few years ago. There are bits of her mind still living in mine. My mom died a few years before that, and the are much larger pieces of her mind still living in mine. There is a lot there in which I can wallow if I want to cry, but I prefer the joy I can get from honoring those pieces of them that are still alive in me.

Maybe the function of the ego is to motivate the body to stay alive long enough to show the rest of the universe that this body is useful for creating and experiencing joy. That seems to happen for most of us.  The result is that there are a bunch of people who will attend our funeral and honor our memory when we die. Before we die, but after that group of loved ones has formed, for the most part, the ego becomes a liability and just messes things up.  Thinking of those people in your life might make it easier to shrink your own ego.

If you share with me the idea that the universe exists for the specific purpose of enjoying its own beauty from as many different perspectives as possible, then you see the importance of actually enjoying that beauty yourself.  Just don't let your ego ruin things, for yourself or for others.