2016-02-29

The rats' race and the pie in the sky

Capitalism empowers the effective and destroys the ineffective. Socialism uses the results to help everyone.

Capitalism inflates inequalities. Socialism makes them not matter.

Capitalism builds an efficient economy; yet it is without a goal. Socialism gives it meaning: it is to serve everyone.

Without socialism, capitalism is a cruel rats' race. Without capitalism, socialism is a dream of a pie in the sky.

The two are made for each other. Yet, like two lovers, they fight.

We will have a solution when we see it's not capitalism vs. socialism. It's capitalism + socialism. Together.

2016-02-10

Masters don't need

When I was younger – at the time this happened, I must have been 23 – I felt this drive to become a "master". It was this mystical need to become accomplished. Not a master of any one particular thing, but to be in some way ultimately wise and effective. Not to impose or dominate, but to personify wisdom and ability, and live it. I felt a burning drive, a need for this.

One day, I was waking up, just starting to regain my senses, when I heard a clear voice speak:

"Masters don't need."

Those three words caused a profound change in me. I realized I'm not even close to being a master. Not only that, but – I cannot get there by wanting to be. In order to get there, I have to learn to not need. Which includes not needing to be a master – or anything more than I already am – to begin with.

So I let go of that drive. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't have let it go previously. But now, it was as natural as shedding a skin; something peeled away I no longer needed. I realized it's okay to just be me. I may yet become a master one day – but that will be whenever I'm ready.

2016-02-05

Limited empathy and large out-groups

I'm a reluctant and somewhat hypocritical meat eater. I hate the abhorrent way in which our society produces meat. However, I don't hate it enough to deprive myself of the experience. If lab-grown meat comes to the grocery store one day soon, I will be an enthusiastic customer. Until then, however, I post about the need for change, and grumble while I buy chicken.

I've made posts, here and there, about our cruelty to animals on Reddit. I find that:
  • Just pointing out that the way we treat animals is horrendous – is tolerated. Saying this alone can be upvoted.
  • However: comparing the suffering we inflict on animals; to any type suffering we inflict on fellow humans; is a one-way ticket for the downvote train. No type of animal suffering, no matter how horrendous, may be compared to human suffering. Ever.
It seems most folks will empathize that animals ought to be treated better. However, if this comes at any cost to humans; almost any cost at all; then people think the suffering by animals is justified, because they are different species.

It is unpopular to point out that this type of morality is compromised, and fundamentally no better than allowing suffering by foreigners because they're foreigners; or suffering by another race, because they are another race; or suffering by the other sex, because they are the other sex.

It's an arbitrary line where everyone outside is treated as part of an "out group", and has the moral standing of an object.

You don't even have to go as far as animal suffering to see this moral compromise in action. A large proportion of people actually act and believe as though suffering by foreigners is okay because they're foreigners.

You can see that right now in Europe, in the positions people take against refugees. Theoretically, everyone agrees it would be nice if war-stricken people did not suffer. However, half the population is actively against helping, if this would mean accepting any cost.

It can be seen similarly starkly in the media treatment of deaths resulting from US invasions. The ratio of US deaths to Arab deaths has been something like 1:20, but foreigner deaths only ever matter if there are no American deaths at all. Theoretically, everyone agrees it would be nice if there weren't as many civilian casualties among foreigners. However, half the population is completely fine with 90% civilian casualties being routine, as long as it seems safer for Americans.

Half the people, generally speaking, seem to have no empathy beyond their closest in-group. There seems to be little understanding that this is how Hell-on-Earth comes about.

2016-02-02

Crappy gaming laptops recap

Jana and I have been through a number of gaming laptops over the years. Just recently, Jana got a new MSI GT-80 TITAN SLI-253. Only 4 months later, it's already showing signs of a hardware issue. After the laptop has been off for a while, the NVIDIA driver will keep crashing and recovering. After it's "warmed up", a Windows reboot fixes it. Whatever the issue might be, if it's hardware, it is hard to fix in Costa Rica.

This seems to be as good a time as any to recap our experience with the various laptop brands so far:
  • Toshiba Qosmio #1 - purchased August 2009, for denis: Worked well for 2 years. At the end of its useful life, started freezing when graphics are in use. The rest of it continues to work even today, after abuse from our 2-year old son. Screen remains uncracked after he has walked on it.
  • Toshiba Qosmio #2 - purchased March 2010, for Jana: Worked well for 3.5 years, then began having occasional issues. We would buy this again, but it now seems to be hard to get.
  • Alienware #1 - purchased December 2011, for denis: Worked well for 1 year and 9 months; then motherboard died, apparently. Would no longer wake up.
  • MSI GT70 - purchased September 2013, for denis: Problems from day of delivery. Would only ever boot 50% of the time. Worked fine when it did boot.
  • Alienware #2 - purchased September 2013, for Jana: Worked well for 2 years, then screen cracked spontaneously from normal use. The rest of it works, and the screen could be replaced, but a repair is hard to arrange in Costa Rica.
  • Alienware #3 - purchased July 2014, for denis: Obtained to replace the MSI GT70 and its continuous booting problem. Shipped with non-functional battery, which had to be replaced at significant cost. Since then, it continues to work well at the time of this writing. (Here's to hoping!)
  • MSI GT80 - purchased September 2015, for Jana: Worked well for 4 months, then repeated problems with graphics began – graphics driver crashing and restarting.
Overall:
  • Toshiba was great, but hard to get now. We'd keep buying Qosmios if they were available.
  • Alienware has issues, but when it runs, it runs well. Time between issues could be better.
  • MSI seems prone to issues where the laptop kinda runs, but not dependably.