My programming language is better than yours 

Realizing I prefer javascript (despite it being slow!) because it carries a "promethean fire" esthetic. It's designed to make it really easy for a beginner and then lack of a rich standard library encourages a "everybody build a piece" attitude.

This is a deep philosophical question: If we're improving every day, then Prometheus is a hero (but so is the snake), if we're degenerating (Plato, Bannon) then Promethius is a Sorcerers' Apprentice.

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd Unfortunately, people keep building the same pieces over and over. And they build tiny pieces, stick them into NPM, then use a weak password, get phished, sell their account, or get angry and delete their package, breaking everything else.

To say nothing of the joy of dependencies that suddenly develop conflicting dependencies.

My programming language is better than yours 

@freakazoid
I get it, I personally really like libraries written in C because I know the programmer passed a minimum bar of entry... But without JavaScript the majority of js developers would not suddenly become excellent Haskell programmers, they would probably not be developers at all. So from the perspective of the whole industry (or society at large) I think more developers are better, even if they're worse πŸ˜‰

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd @freakazoid
Only if those mediocre developers don't create negative externalities.

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl @freakazoid
That's basically the fundamental question. Prometheus stole fire from the gods to help humans, who certainly were worse at using it than the gods.

So is Prometheus a hero or a villain ?

If Prometheus is a hero, it's hard to avoid concluding that the snake in the genesis story is also the hero.

But if Prometheus is the villain then it's hard not to reason yourself into Anarcho-Primitivism.

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd @freakazoid
IMO, you're generalizing too much.

Each of those cases is different, and it might be quite possible that giving people fire is ok, but giving them asbestos isn't. Where does JS lie on the fire-asbestos spectrum?

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd @freakazoid
Also, I don't understand why you equate what the snake did with what Prometheus did.

The snake gave people freedom. It pushed them out of choicelessness. Made them realize that things don't have to be the way they are, and that everything has a reason. That it makes sense to ask "why".

The snake is clearly a hero (or a tool in God's hands, whichever you prefer).

Well ok, if you are an anarcho-primitivism you may argue that choicelessness is a good thing and the snake is a villain, but otherwise, I don't see why you couldn't have a choiceless fire-using society which worships Prometheus and hates Snake, or a society in systematic mode which doesn't use fire or any higher technology.

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl @cjd Couple of things: first, I think it's instructive to view these stories in terms of the goals the people teaching them had through the ages. It's not like people started with Prometheus and the snake and then decided how to interpret them; they had the thing they wanted to teach and then came up with (originally) or decided to use the stories to get across whatever they wanted to get across.

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd @Wolf480pl Second, (and now I'm doing exactly the opposite of what I just said), fire (or more to the point cooking) dates back to H. erectus, and it's almost certain that H. sapiens never could have evolved without it. Any hypothetical society without fire would have had to discard it and would need to live in a pretty favorable location to be able to obtain sufficient nutrition without cooking.

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl @cjd In other words, Prometheus pre-dates not just Snake but the Garden of Eden, if you think the Garden of Eden was populated by H. sapiens.

It's possible the hunting of big game (and thus war, since big game hunting doesn't seem otherwise beneficial) started with H. sapiens, which would point to the Garden of Eden being populated by H. erectus and Prometheus preceding it.

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd @Wolf480pl Actually big game hunting was probably precipitated by an ice age, then continued afterward because groups that stayed good at it were better able to kill other people as well, so anyone who went back to small game as soon as they could got killed or joined the groups (potentially involuntarily) who hunted big game.

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl @cjd Hmm, I guess that assertion obliterates anarcho-primitivism, doesn't it? If H. sapiens is defined by big game hunting and war, then there was never a time that didn't have organized violence.

Which is not to say we shouldn't abandon war, just that link between war and civilization doesn't go the direction anarcho-primitivists think it does. In fact, agriculture and civilization would have *reduced* violence.

My programming language is better than yours 

@cjd @Wolf480pl Since human history shows a long term, steady decline in death by violence in concert with the growth of agriculture, industry, urbanization, and technology generally, I'd say anarcho-primitivism has it exactly backward.

My programming language is better than yours 

@freakazoid @cjd
I wonder how Mongol Hordes fit into this picture.

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl

Not sure about how this picture is framed.

Why does hunting big game = war

Also I dont think agricultural societies = peaceful societies.
Theres been very violent societies that practiced agriculture also hunter/gatherers that weren't aggressive. Also, as suggested, the inverse.
@freakazoid @cjd

My programming language is better than yours 

@dazinism @cjd @Wolf480pl It's just a theory I once read as to why humans have hunted big game for so long even when it was not the most efficient way to get protein that was available to them. The tools and techniques of big game hunting also work well for killing people. It could certainly be wrong, but nomadic hunter-gatherer groups that came in contact would have been competitors more than, say, nomadic herders.

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism And agrarians aren't nomadic, so they would only run into other agrarians if they were trying to expand their territory or had to move for whatever reason.

Of course, agriculture was a prerequisite for large scale war, but I think the scale of such wars was more than offset by the much reduced frequency. On average, of course.

My programming language is better than yours 

@dazinism @cjd @Wolf480pl Agriculture also created the surplus necessary to have a ruling class, and the dominance that came with that, of course. I just had that long monologue thread about agriculture and feudalism. But it also created the surplus necessary for trade.

My programming language is better than yours 

@freakazoid
All sounds like a rather bleak theory of the human condition, where out of group interactions are driven only by harsh utility

Is this theory based primarily on one thing you read, (do you recall what?)

I like to think that theres always been more possible reasons/options for interaction than just trade or war- certainly for me this is the case.
I think that theres evidence that this has also been the case historically
@cjd @Wolf480pl

My programming language is better than yours 

@dazinism @freakazoid @cjd

I think by Occam's Razor, there's no reason to think there are other reasons for interaction, until shown an example that can't be explained by "harsh" utility.

Can you enumerate some of those other possible reasons?

My programming language is better than yours 

@Wolf480pl @dazinism @freakazoid
This same question arrives again and again. Did we fall from grace or are we better every day ?
Plato clearly believed that we fell from grace, from the perfect republic with the perfect Philosopher King.
Lots of lore around this belief of fall from grace. The innocent and peaceful hunter-gatherers wiped out by the cruel and mechanistic Europeans is a really common belief system.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @freakazoid
it's funny how ideas like "it used to be better" and "don't change things, you're making everything worse" are usually ascribed to right wing, while left wing is all about progress... yet these days what appears to be a left wing group also says it used to be better in the past, but it means much further past.

Is it all because we only remember the good parts of what it was like in the past?

re: [thread], pol 

@Wolf480pl
@dazinism @freakazoid
I think the difference of belief between "fall from grace" and "better every day" is at least as important a spectrum as right vs left. You see fall from grace thinking in leftist ethnic guilt and also in rightist traditional family. On the better every day side the left has scientific socialism and the managed society and the right has ethnic pride.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @Wolf480pl I don't know anything about "managed society", but people are terrible at science and even if they weren't, the economic calculation problem is not solvable even in theory, so "scientific socialism" as I understand it is not achievable, and there are all kinds of ways that pursuing such a thing could get us into a really bad place.

Left libertarians are also "better every day" folks.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @dazinism
My personal opinion of "scientific socialism" can be summed up in James C. Scott's Seeing Like a State. But that ideology continues to exist and I would argue that lots of "lets just pass a law" ideas (for which the Left is known) are rooted in this thinking.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @Wolf480pl Oh yes absolutely. This is a common issue with people who pride themselves on being intellectual - they tend to overestimate the capacity of intellect to overcome problems. At least when it fits with their worldview. For things that don't they're perfectly happy to point out all the problems with human arrogance.

re: [thread], pol 

@Wolf480pl @dazinism @cjd This is why I like the idea of keeping interventions simple, transparent, and as measurable as possible rather than either avoiding them entirely or allowing unlimited intervention for any purpose. Try something. If it works, great. If it doesn't, get rid of it and do something else. When the sum total of interventions in any given area becomes complex, replace them with something simpler.

re: [thread], pol 

@Wolf480pl @dazinism @cjd It's science in that it acknowledges the limits of our ability to actually measure or fine-tune the effect of interventions in society. It can easily depart from being science depending on what we call "measurable". I do not believe economics, for the most part. In particular macroeconomics is unfalsifiable, and things like GDP include economic activity we know is bad like cleaning up after Deepwater Horizon.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @Wolf480pl (Not that they shouldn't have cleaned up, just that there's no way that should increase GDP. The total damage of the spill, which is not actually measurable, needed to be subtracted out.)

re: [thread], pol 

@Wolf480pl @dazinism @cjd I think you're probably better off not even trying to make it scientific, or even measuring except in the case of easily measurable things like prison populations, birth rate, etc. I considered not even including the term "measurable" since they really don't need to be as long as they're simple and transparent. Then people can just decide if they're happy with it because they understand it.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @Wolf480pl What you can do is have "evidence-based" interventions. Again, provided they're simple and transparent. UBI and EITC are obvious ones. We don't know the impact of EITC on employment but since there's no cliff and it increases at the beginning we can guess it probably encourages it (which may or may not be good, but it's better to debate about that than about what effect it even has).

re: [thread], pol 

@Wolf480pl @dazinism @cjd Another example is a carbon tax. We know a carbon tax will encourage switching to alternatives. We don't know how much or how fast, so we can just ratchet it up gradually until we get what we want. We may have no idea how much was due to the tax, but who cares?

Cap and trade, on the other hand, requires setting caps and measuring emissions, and it gets gamed to hell and misses all kinds of other emissions.

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re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @cjd @dazinism
how do you carbon tax without measuring emissions?

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re: [thread], pol 

@Wolf480pl @dazinism @cjd @freakazoid You can do it to an extent by measuring inputs, although it's quite possible that inputs aren't accurate!

(For instance, if a process generates methane, its carbon footprint is vastly higher than its inputs would indicate. The inputs could even be carbon neutral, and the emissions are positive...)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism Right. You tax the carbon at the point it enters the market, whether by being imported or pumped from the ground. The underlying assumption is that all carbon eventually becomes CO2.

Some can become methane, which lasts long enough and has a potent enough effect to be worth taxing or regulating as a pollutant in its own right. But there are far fewer methane sources than CO2.

...

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr One could have a tax credit for sequestration, but deciding what should count as sequestration will probably be challenging.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism
One problem with climate change is there's really no incentive to deal with it. If a democratic state starts to tax carbon, as soon as it begins to actually harm the economy people will vote that government out of power. Clean air is different because people in the cities directly feel the pain, climate change is always Someone Else's Problem.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @freakazoid @Wolf480pl @dazinism Depends on how you use the carbon tax, though. If you never harm the economy, or you even help the economy with the revenue from it, you might not get voted out.

Which is why most carbon tax proposals fall into two categories: use the carbon tax revenue to fund carbon reductions elsewhere (mass transit development and operation, EV subsidies, densification), and/or redistribute carbon tax revenue to the poor (either to offset the regressive effects of their having to pay carbon tax, or even to explicitly redistribute wealth towards them (which increases velocity of money in the economy, helping the economy)).

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism
Today in absolute condemnations of capitalism: " One problem with climate change is there's really no incentive to deal with it." This may be a hint.

re: [thread], pol 

@zeh
I don't care what kind of economic system you have, when people start to have difficulty putting food on the table, they're going to vote you out, and quality of life is unfortunately highly correlated with energy consumption.
@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd
That makes no sense. You're mistaking your experience for what is possible, when the first is a tiny subset of the second. Voting inside "economic systems" that constrict your options to what is profitable is a travesty of freedom and there could be as many ways to live well as there are people, correlated to energy spending or not.

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism

re: [thread], pol 

@zeh @dazinism @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr @cjd Well, sure, unspecified hypothetical modes of organization will always win out over real world implementations.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid
Not what I did. I just pointed out that taking this shit as inevitable is a mistake. But if you want to go that way, you may take hunter-gatherer tribes as a counter-example of both of those claims (which are also referred to as a system of primitive communism, actually).
@cjd @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism

re: [thread], pol 

@zeh @dazinism @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr @cjd I don't take it as inevitable. But unless we have strong confidence both that a particular solution is better than that a particular set of actions is likely to get us there and not to an even worse state that's even harder to get out of, we're limited to incremental changes that are either easily reversible or that we at least have reasonable confidence won't make us worse off without a decent way out.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism @zeh And there's plenty of obvious low-hanging fruit *today* that for some reason people ignore because it isn't perfect, or because it benefits people they don't like, or because they don't want to be called "moderates", or whatever.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid
Low hanging fruit? to address climate apocalipse, which was the case in point? Such as? Short of reorganizing the system of production and eliminating profit as the number one priority, what would you suggest
@dazinism @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr @cjd

re: [thread], pol 

@zeh @dazinism @Wolf480pl @freakazoid @cjd Even a socialist autarky uninterested in profit can easily run into situations where, if carbon taxation starts impacting quality of life for the masses (that is, it artificially causes scarcity that does not otherwise exist), they'll attempt to depose the government (whether it's democratic or not), unless you have effective suppression of information flow.

Which is why you need to make alternatives to carbon emission and make them attractive enough that quality of life doesn't degrade, or at least make it such that you can blame degradation on someone else.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Interestingly enough, this seems to be something that entrepreneurship is fairly good at. I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish it, and entrepreneurship (at least when funded by intellectual property) is obviously bad at certain kinds of invention, like certain types of drugs and medical treatments, but nonprofit foundations seem to do the best job there, not government grants.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl I think there's a difference between R&D and deployment, though.

Private organizations do seem to be very good at throwing ideas at the wall and proving that they work... but getting them to the masses is extremely inefficient due to how capital allocation works in the private markets.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism @zeh (Just look at, say, Tesla as an example, and how rocky their ramp is. We know the technology works and can be cost-effective as fuck, at this point. The capital markets can't divorce that from the vagaries of a slow-building startup that isn't designed for an "exit". Meanwhile, China's state capitalism is subsidizing them massively (presumably partially to get access to their IP, but still) and in under a year they'll be from farmland in Shanghai, to a factory there. I don't think this is the *best* approach either, but it seems to work better than whatever we're doing in the west...)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Tesla is an interesting example. Elon Musk has as much money as he does because of the factors I mentioned, but Tesla itself is in many ways a charity; VCs and angels would never have financed such an endeavor out of a profit motive. It's going to take a very long time to even come close to paying Musk back, much less making him more money than he's put in.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr And the current pattern of bringing new technologies to "early adopters", who tend to be wealthy, first means that those early adopters are the ones paying for the research. One can imagine ways to accelerate this process, but most new products that aren't just minor iterations on old ones end up failing, so most of the time you'd just make failure more costly in total.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Making failure more costly is bad, because the process of invention is mostly a random search, so failure should be fast, cheap, and plentiful.

This is a major problem with the current way the markets are allocating capital. Uber has essentially been treated as if the investors are certain it will succeed if only it gets enough money and grows large enough.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr In a way this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because that money is getting spent on lobbying and driving competition out of the market. But it's also extremely costly, because to make an above-market return on their investment, the investors are betting on the irrational exuberance of the public after it IPOs.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism IOW, their plan is to build this thing that looks like the "next Facebook" and dump it on the public. And the public will suck it up because with enough VC money almost any idea can be made to look good.

So raise interest rates, shift more money into debt financing which requires actual profits, and actual savings accounts (or treasuries and CDs), and make companies grow more slowly and fail more quickly.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr (Those latter things were consequences of raising interest rates, not additional actions that need to be taken.)

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @dazinism
I would really really like to know how the monetary policy would work in the Federated Republic of Sean.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @dazinism
Because these issues are things I've wrestled with in my mind and I never found any decent conclusions, nor even really proper understanding for some of the phenomenon.

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re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Addressing the other points in your post, while it's true that we know the technology works, the problem is that we also know there are a bunch of alternative technologies that are likely to be even better, so going "all in" now has a decent chance of producing a worse outcome (possibly much worse) than an approach that puts the decisionmaking and risk in the same (preferably distributed) hands.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr In my view the best approach by far is to push *away* from the thing we know for sure is bad and let people decide on their own what they think the best alternative is. The best way to do that is with a carbon tax.

...

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re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism The structure of capital markets is driven largely by the specifics of regulation and taxation and by monetary and fiscal policy. The single largest driver is monetary policy, because interest rates decide the balance between debt and equity as a source of financing. Low interest rates drive large market capitalizations, demand for fast growth of individual companies, and an appetite for risk.

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