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September 07, 2021

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Friedman called it seasteading: “Homesteading the high seas,” a phrase borrowed from Wayne Gramlich, a software engineer with whom he’d founded the Seasteading Institute in 2008, helped by a $500,000 donation from Thiel.

Here is my new lebensplan:

I’m gonna make up random wacky impractical concepts that maximize personal freedom, even if at the expense of common sense and perhaps the laws of physics, and pitch them to Thiel.

Hey, we could buy a corner of the Sahara desert from Chad and establish the Free State of Thielistan! Clothing optional! All that would be missing is water, right?

There’s gotta be half a million in there somewhere for me.

Thiel is a dangerous individual, as is his publicly-traded software company.

Take your pick:

https://www.google.com/search?q=peter+thiel%27s+public+company+palantir+permits+goverments+to+spy+on+everyone&oq=peter+thiel%27s+public+company+palantir+permits+goverments+to+spy+on+everyone&aqs=chrome..69i57.54273j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Libertarian surveillance of everyone via gummint.

I expect Charles will be kicking Thiel out of the increasingly exclusive Libertarian Club for insufficient purity.

No word on whether Thiel can handle the noise generated by gunfire, though I expect his hired killers try to keep their distance from him when on the job.

No doubt Thiel's algorithms will enable, say, the fascist, rightwing government of Hungary under Orban to surveil, spy on, and discriminate against gay men and women like himself.

As an aside, I've never encountered a publicly-traded stock .... Palantir ... for which investor opinion is evenly divided between those who absolutely worship the company and those who hold it in utter contempt.

No middle ground.

A reflection of the piece of purist dogshit the conservative/libertarian movement has transformed from what was once America.

Hey, we could buy a corner of the Sahara desert from Chad and establish the Free State of Thielistan!

Along those lines...

"The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person "new city in America" and appointed a world-famous architect to design it.

Now, he just needs somewhere to build it -- and $400 billion in funding.

The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production, and a purportedly drought-resistant water system. A so-called "15-minute city design" will allow residents to access their workplaces, schools, and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes."
Plans for $400-billion new city in the American desert unveiled


"Próspera is the first project to gain approval from Honduras to start a privately governed charter city, under a national program started in 2013. It has its own constitution of sorts and a 3,500-page legal code with frameworks for political representation and the resolution of legal disputes, as well as minimum wage (higher than Honduras’s) and income taxes (lower in most cases). After nearly half a decade of development, the settlement will announce next week that it will begin considering applications from potential residents this summer."
A Private Tech City Opens for Business in Honduras: Prospera, a mini startup nation with its own set of laws, begins recruiting residents amid local controversy.

As so often with libertarian fantasies, the real world declined to cooperate. Turns out, there is a reason for all those rules and regulations. A few of them are doubtless unnecessary, or obsolete. But most of them have a basis other than regulation for regulation's sake.

Perhaps that's why nobody has yet established a libertarian paradise on earth.

the only problem with libertarianism is all of those other people.

Now, he just needs somewhere to build it -- and $400 billion in funding.

$400 billion?!?

my Sahara Desert idea is cheaper. like, two commas worth. six orders of magnitude, right?

Thiel, if you're reading, reach out to the kitty and the ObWi elves will put you in touch with me.

$500K is short money for a utopia, but I can work with it.

The libertarian seasteading idea is anything but new and got already satirized by Jules Verne in his novel Propeller Island.
To my knowledge it never got published in the US in a complete edition because of its less than enthusiastic presentation of the super-rich and their character at display.

It's just like Burning Man. We'll call it Burning Money.

Tempted to teach this in my Science Fiction class as an example of thinking in the science fiction mode.

Libertarian seasteading ended badly for the underwater city of Rapture in the Bioshock video game series.

I don't game as much as I used to so I may have missed it, but you'd think that these Silicon Vally techbros would come up with a libertarian game setting that's actually appealing at some point.

oh i miss good ol Bioshock

Libertarian seasteading ended badly for the underwater city of Rapture in the Bioshock video game series.

My exact thought as I read the story.

my Sahara Desert idea is cheaper. like, two commas worth. six orders of magnitude, right?

Although, by the time you address the water issue, your cost advantage may disappear. (Have you considered Somalia? Which at least has access to a sea coast for distillation.)

Greg Abbot is going to revolutionize government!

When asked why sex assault victims who get pregnant have to carry to term under TX law, first [Gov] Abbott says they have 6 weeks to get abortion, then says he is going to eliminate rape by arresting all future rapists.

Abbot is graduating from thoughtcrime to pre-crime.

I'm surprised no one thought to eliminate rape until now. What was everyone waiting for?

"arresting all future rapists."

You mean we've known who these creampuffs are all along, and we've done nothing to interdict .... not even a six-week waiting period before THEIR harassment begins.

What about the pre-born future rapists?

Oughten we be on the look-out for those too, if we really believe in freedom of choice for women?

Maybe we could hang a sign on them for future identification.

The Governor, considering how all-up-in-there in the female plumbing he has inserted his dirty little fascist prerogatives, seems well on his way to becoming a serial rapist.


Although, by the time you address the water issue, your cost advantage may disappear.

time to hit Thiel up for another mere billion or two!

I'm surprised no one thought to eliminate rape until now. What was everyone waiting for?

Maybe the problem was that they lacked Abbott's magical ability to identify future rapists. Think he can franchise it for other states? (At least the red ones.)

Hmmm, I wonder if his ability extends to identifying past rapists. Should Justice Kavanaugh be worried...?

I'm surprised no one thought to eliminate rape until now. What was everyone waiting for?

It used to be about redefining it away (remember the 'consensual rape' episode we had a few years ago?). There is no marital rape because a woman cedes all rights to her body to her husband. And almost all other cases* are of course women lying about their illicit lustful escapades (or their failed attempts). As we learned from a certain GOPster, the mere fact that a woman gets pregnant means that it could not have been rape in the first place because the female body knows what's going on and prevents conception. [/sarcasm]

*I assume excluding those of young black males forcing their animalistic lust on pure white virgins. That's why it is so easy to detect potential rapists: it corresponds with high levels of melanine in the skin.

This may seem like a minor detail compared to everything else, but a person would be "6 weeks pregnant" only 4 weeks after being raped. They now define the beginning of pregnancy from a notional last menstrual period. This lets them avoid philosophical questions of whether life begins when the egg is fertilized, or when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus a few days later. Often they calculate that notional date of the last period based on the size of the embryo, because 28-day menstrual cycles are so rare.

It's not entirely clear why we are spending time on details of whether or when abortion is acceptable. After all, "pro-life" is virtually always a red herring. The real point is about control of a) sex and b) women's behavior. Sure, "baby killing" makes a great propaganda sound byte. But that's all it is.

Anyone who wants to be taken seriously as actually concerned about life will have to be at least equally adamant about:
a) providing adequate nutrition for any and all expectant mothers. Married or not. Employed or not.
b) ditto for nursing mothers.
c) ditto for all children up until adulthood (however you care to define that).
d) providing adequate cradle to grave medical care for all. Again without reference to any qualification beyond humanity.
e) and, while we're at it, mandatory DNA testing to establish paternity of all children. With mandatory, no exceptions, forced child support from any father above the poverty line. (Maybe even graduated by his income, to avoid letting the rich buy their way out without feeling the pain.)

Needless to say, the chances of getting more than a microscopic fraction of the antiabortion crowd to sign on to any, let alone all, of those is vanishingly small.

I submit that the arguments over dates for legally allowed abortion, or over the acceptable grounds (rape or incest, etc.) amount to nothing more than letting the fanatics on one side set the terms of the debate.

End rant.

wj 1:45 am

This is a complete summary of bullshit Dem talking points built over the last 50 years.

They have simply reframed a straightforward discussion over when a baby begins to be protected as a human being to try to include every other tangential issue it can possibly throw in.

The fanatics want to deny the science that clearly says abortion is killing a child very easy in a pregnancy.

When it is reasonable to consider hat it becomes homicide and the reasons that make that a justifiable homicide are all that warrant a discussion.

All the rest of those things warrant discussion and consideration but not in the context of an abortion discussion.

Easy = early

They have simply reframed a straightforward discussion over when a baby begins to be protected as a human being to try to include every other tangential issue it can possibly throw in.

Straightforward or not (I lean toward "not"), most people (even Democrats!) agree that the life of a fetus increases as a moral consideration in tension with the rights of the woman carrying it when it comes to ending the pregnancy prior to live birth. Whether that should be a matter of law or not is another question, but only a tiny minority of people (even Democrats!) would favor something like aborting a viable fetus short of life-threatening circumstances.

We're so far from a "straightforward" discussion on that (maybe something like the one in the Roe decision) with people who support the Texas law that it's laughable to accuse Democrats of re-framing it to include tangential issues.

Motes, beams, yada yada.

Also, too, our comments fit better in another still-active thread under a post that's actually about the thing we're discussing.

it's laughable to accuse Democrats of re-framing it

Perhaps more so when it's a lifelong Republican making the (understandably unwelcome) pount about the hypocracy of the "pro-life" crowd.

Also, too, our comments fit better in another still-active thread under a post that's actually about the thing we're discussing.

Mea culpa! I put mine on the wrong thread. No idea if it's possible to shift them now.

Roe addresses, very specifically, the issues that Marty says ought to be the sole subjects of discussion. So why are still talking about it?

Because it's a fireproof strawman.

There are some extremists that deny any rights to the unborn unto the moment of birth (I know some of them personally) but they are a minority with no significant legislative support.
The same as we can ignore the religious extremists that oppose all abortions but consider infanticide to be greenlighted by the Bible under certain circumstances (if the kid is obstreperous. Also it's the father's decision only).

The vast majority could live with the criteria of pre-viability of the unborn or serious medical threat to the pregnant person.
The only serious question should be where to put the cut-off point.
It would need a real game changer to alter that (like a 100% workable and affordable synthetic external uterus and a safe way to transfer a live fetus at any stage from the woman to the machine). I doubt that this will happen in my lifetime.

The vast majority could live with the criteria of pre-viability of the unborn or serious medical threat to the pregnant person.

In Germany, perhaps. But apparently not in Texas. (Among other states.)

when a baby begins to be protected as a human being to try to include every other tangential issue it can possibly throw in.

The fanatics want to deny the science that clearly says abortion is killing a child very easy in a pregnancy.

Gee, sort of depends on the definition of "child," doesn't it?

Also, I wonder when a woman begins to be protected as a "human being" rather than just a vessel?

I also wonder what the people who take this view would think of a proposal that says that women can refuse sex at any and all times, including with her husband? (Leaving aside, of course, the impossible difficulties of protection of such a right.)

Or do men have a right to make babies regardless of the fact that they can't do it without a vessel, however unwilling she might be? I mean, the rape provision suggests that they do....

Women are erased. Marty is just fine with that.

Don't confuse the legislature with the population as a whole. To my knowlegde the extremist positions (both ends) have no majority in any state. The part that votes could be slightly different though.
Imo even many of those that cite abortion as a reason to vote GOP have just fallen for the lie that the alternative is legal infanticide or who have seen the fake 'documentaries' purporting to show early stage abortions but are late third trimester (with heavily manipulated images and sounds to create a torture p0rn atmosphere).

One could as well cite the Nuremberg laws to prove that fanatic antisemitism was a majority position in Germany (as Nazi leaders claimed when the laws got passed) let alone that the majority endorsed the holocaust. Hitler was very popular (at the time), his rabid hatred of Jews not necessarily.

Btw, I chose 'could live' deliberately. It is in the sense of 'can put up with it even if it is not seen as ideal'.

Don't confuse the legislature with the population as a whole. To my knowlegde the extremist positions (both ends) have no majority in any state. The part that votes could be slightly different though.

And you can't assume that polling on this issue translates into votes anyhow. My town voted for Democrats, from Biden on down to the lowest county position, by no less than a 7 percentage point gap in any race last fall. And also for Susan Collins by as great a margin (maybe more, I forget). Her scummy BS about Kavanaugh didn't even register on a lot of people's radar.

Don't confuse the legislature with the population as a whole. To my knowlegde the extremist positions (both ends) have no majority in any state. The part that votes could be slightly different though.

Abbot and the Texas GOP legislators aren't pushing this because they think nobody will care enough to vote against them. They're doing it because they see it as a net vote winner. And enough of one to stave off the way the political views of Texas' voters are otherwise trending.

They may be wrong on that, of course. But they do have significant experience figuring out what their voters care about.

russell, as I may have mentioned I support the current push to codify Roe by Pelosi. See how simple that discussion is?

"I also wonder what the people who take this view would think of a proposal that says that women can refuse sex at any and all times, including with her husband? (Leaving aside, of course, the impossible difficulties of protection of such a right.)"

I am confused, isn't this the law now? I support this 100%.

So legally a woman can refuse sex but can't refuse to bear to term the unwanted aftermath of sex she failed to fend off.

"So legally a woman can refuse sex but can't refuse to bear to term the unwanted aftermath of sex she failed to fend off."

That would be dumb, that's rape. Certainly should be covered. But under Roe she can get that terminated.

Progress in the abortion debate might be made if we came to see how much childbearing is like organ donation. Imagine a parent whose bone marrow, kidney or liver lobe is vital to the very survival of his or her own child. Some people think that some kinds of moral activities (e.g., self-sacrifice for children) are more appropriate to and obligatory for women than for men. In my opinion, no convincing case can be made for this sexist axiom. My argument rests on the premise that fathers and mothers mutually share both parental responsibilities and privileges. Therefore I would counter the pervasive influence of this misleading assumption by imaging this donor-parent to be a father.

There are many ways in which a father’s choice to donate an organ is like childbearing. Like pregnancy, organ donation is clearly a form of bodily life-support. While pregnancy can be associated with some maternal health benefits, pregnancy always involves some costs to maternal health and like organ donation, may indeed be quite risky.

The comparison of pregnancy with organ donation is especially generative for the abortion debate for four reasons. First, donor fathers are usually recognised as full persons, whose lives include but are not reducible to parenthood. Fathers are not usually viewed as life-support machines. Second, the child-recipient of an organ is recognised as extremely vulnerable and dependent, yet the serious and significant costs to the father's health and life are also illumined.

Third, the relationship between the donor- father and the child-recipient is understood to be a gift-relationship. To give a kidney, even to one's own child, is to go beyond the call of parental duty. No country legally requires that fathers give one of their kidneys or a lobe of their liver to their own child, even when it is known that this child will die from renal failure or advanced liver disease without it. At no point is donation mandatory; health care professionals routinely (re)confirm the donor's full, voluntary and informed consent to the process.

Communities may want to raise up people capable of such gift-giving, and may even want to establish public policies that help sustain such choices, but these goals are quite different from making organ donation obligatory.

In contrast, the continuation of pregnancy has been treated as obligatory in many places, whether through legislation, social demands or religious pronouncements. I contend that any such requirement on women violates the true character of the bodily life-support that pregnancy entails. From this point of view, pregnancy- like organ donation - should be seen as a gift-relationship.

In many countries it is recognised that dependent children have a legal right to a reasonable portion of their parent's property and wealth, as evidenced in child-support payment requirements. But such rights have not been (and I would contend ought not to be) extended to a parent's body. This is so because, as society recognises, bodies are not mere possessions. They are primordially personal. We do not have our bodies; we are our bodies. Sadly, this has been more widely recognised as true of men's bodies than women's. Because women's bodies are more frequently objectified, we fail to notice that anti-abortion legislation and pronouncements depersonalise pregnant women. By dictating what women can and cannot do with their bodies, claims are made by others to possession of women's bodies.

Patricia Beattie Jung (1993) “Abortion: An exercise in moral imagination.” Reproductive Health Matters, 1:2, 84-86 - https://www.jstor.org/stable/3775013

See how simple that discussion is?

great! then I guess we have resolved this thorny issue.

wj's comment was, if I'm not mistaken, an observation about the apparent cognitive dissonance demonstrated by folks who oppose abortion full stop because they are 'pro life', but who don't support other policies that foster the life and health of the child, born or unborn.

which is, to some eyes, striking, regardless of one's position on when a fertilized egg becomes a human for legal purposes.

is that something that is not worth remarking on?

This may seem like a minor detail compared to everything else, but a person would be "6 weeks pregnant" only 4 weeks after being raped.

True, but not directly relevant to the Texas Heartbeat Act, which doesn't explicitly limit abortion to up to six weeks of 'gestational age' (ie since LMP). Instead it forbids abortion if a 'fetal heartbeat' has been detected, or if no or insufficient attempt has been made to detect one.

It defines 'fetal heartbeat' to mean "cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac." and declares that "cardiac activity begins at a biologically identifiable moment in time, normally when the fetal heart is formed in the gestational sac."

Medically speaking, this is nonsense. The fetal stage is human development is conventionally deemed to start at nine weeks after fertilization (11 weeks after LMP). That's about the age that there's a heart with chambers which could be said to create a heartbeat in the usual sense of the word. However, the heart tube develops in the embryo and starts rhythmic contractions about three weeks after fertilization.

Whether these inaccuracies mean that the law fails to prohibit abortion as early as it seeks to, I do not know. I doubt that any doctor would want to find herself in court arguing the point.

The fanatics want to deny the science that clearly says abortion is killing a child very early in a pregnancy

Nonsense, Marty. When an embryo or fetus becomes a 'child' is not a scientific question.

wj, Abbott and accomplices have not only to think about the general election but also primaries. And at the moment GOPsters see outcrazying any potential challenger as important beyond anything else. Voter suppression laws can take care of the general election for the time being.
Also don't forget the presidential ambitions. de Santis is probably extremly angry at the moment that Abbott oudid him with the abortion coup and is in a hurry to get even.
Unfortunately, we have not yet reached the point where this strategy to win a GOP primary makes it safely impossible to win the generals afterwards. A few GOPsters have failed (barely) but that was in unreliable states in the first place.

the science that clearly says abortion is killing a child very early in a pregnancy

As far as I can tell, there is no consensus, scientific or otherwise, on when a fertilized human egg becomes a human person.

Opinions range from at the point of fertilization, to the moment of birth. Most people, by far, put it somewhere between those two extremes.

And that lack of consensus is why the issue is problematic.

Abortion, and especially abortion before quickening - typically occurring somewhere between 13 and 20 weeks - was generally legal in this country until the middle of the 19th C. Roe v Wade was not some plot instituted by godless liberals so they could murder babies. It was an attempt to adjudicate a difficult problem. Perhaps the SCOTUS should have declined to accept the case. They did not.

There are many ethical and religious traditions that condemn abortion, for varying definitions of “condemn”. And there are many ethical and religious traditions that do not. And many that do, or don’t, given certain conditions.

There is no consensus. And in the absence of anything resembling a consensus, and the absence of any scientific or other basis for claiming that human personhood begins at a particular point in time, it’s impossible to make public policy that satisfies everyone. Roe, with its attempt to balance the interests of the parent with those of the child, is probably the closest anyone is going to come to that.

Unfortunately, we have not yet reached the point where this strategy to win a GOP primary makes it safely impossible to win the generals afterwards. A few GOPsters have failed (barely) but that was in unreliable states in the first place.

However, the number of "unreliable states" is rising. And these tactics are part of what is driving that.

They are already planning the contingency plan of switching ballots for bullets.
Plus some candidates already try to litigate the results of general elections before they have even gotten through their own primaries.
Pressure is going up and they are busy to wedge the safety valves tight.

Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the voting public in the US has lost all faith in representative government as a system of building consensus and deciding collective action.

Representative government would be a good idea, if the US actually had one.

A system that not only permits, but makes a habit of, electing popular-vote losers to the presidency (a long as they're Republican) is not exactly representative.

A system that not only permits, but is founded on, the power of a minority of the population (as long as they don't live too close together) to elect more legislators than the majority, is not exquisitely representative.

A system that not only permits, but encourages, litigation (before politically-appointed judges) over practically all legislation, is not based on representative ideals.

Throw in the fact that legislators often get to pick their constituents, instead of the other way around, and people may be right to doubt the "representative" nature of governance in the US.

--TP

Representative government would be a good idea, if the US actually had one.

Hey, we are still running the Open Beta release. At least we managed to release the 0.13, 0.14, and 0.19 version patches to keep the legacy OS from crashing.

What Tony said.

Related to the OP, I was looking at possible readings for my science fiction class that exemplify thinking in the "science fiction mode" about current situations and I ran across these two stories from last year comparing Bandcamp and Spotify:

https://www.npr.org/2020/08/19/903547253/a-tale-of-two-ecosystems-on-bandcamp-spotify-and-the-wide-open-future

https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/how-much-more-money-artists-earn-from-bandcamp-compared-to-spotify-apple-music-youtube/

The first article, I think, uses a very powerful critical framework for thinking about current decisions - asking what sort of future we want to try to build and then monitoring what we are achieving with our systems and adjusting as we go. There is nothing new in this. It's basically Norbert Wiener's view of cybernetics that he outlined in The Human Use of Human Beings.

Basically, though, with this and all cybernetics and systems theory works, what it comes down to is figuring out what things to measure in order to make a system "learn" and then adjusting the feedback loops to make sure that the outcomes from the system's decisions are moving closer to the ideal outcomes we intended.

I think Weiner's book (recommended to me personally by Wolfgang Iser for my dissertation reading list) is at the heart of what I think about when I think about "systemic" anything. We are choosing feedback loops to guide our governing systems to make decisions that produce better outcomes.

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