State of Society, 2017 (Part 1)

Writ large, what’s happening in the United States? How did we get from Roosevelt and Eisenhower to Trump? What’s going wrong, what’s going right; and how can we fix it?

The Disappointment

There’s been progress, for sure. We elected a black President, we’ve legalized gay marriage, and the computers we use for phones are superior to mainframes not long ago.

In terms of economic life, though, the 21st century has been one of disappointment. The poor are getting poorer. The middle-class is getting less upwardly mobile. The upper-middle-class is growing out of touch, so much that the lower middle-class hate-voted for a rich psychopath to spite us. The rich are not just getting richer, but greedier and stupider.

In the 1960s, the world economy grew at 5-6 percent per year, and U.S. research and development was a major reason for this. We led. After winning a war in the 1940s, we rebuilt the vanquished countries, instead of exploiting their position of weakness for some short-sighted, zero-sum gain. That approach worked so well that the countries disallowed (by the Soviet Union) from participating are still suffering for it. In truth, the main reason Eastern Europe is poor is not that “communism didn’t work” but, more specifically, that those countries weren’t allowed to participate in the Marshall Plan.

Yet, our country ran off the rails. It’s hard to say if it’s even capitalistic anymore. The Capitalist Party, the boardroom elite, seems no more devoted to capitalism and free markets than the Communist Party of Stalin’s Russia. They, in the Capitalist Party, collude with each other, they vote up each others’ “executive incentive plans” (and golden parachutes), and they generally have the system rigged so a social elite wins, irrespective of market forces or the decidedly middle-class notion of “merit”.

Subtly, in the 1970s, old-style Gilded Age elitism came back, with more force in the 1980s and ’90s, and now it dominates the business environment outright. In my view, this had not much to do with traditional left-right politics; Reagan didn’t cause it, Clinton didn’t slow it, the Bushes were oblivious, and Obama couldn’t stop it.

Trump’s America wasn’t born overnight. Like Trump, it’s been around for decades, and it never really hid.

The Satanic Trinity

For now, let’s ignore the big cultural issues. Plenty of people do. The story of the failing American middle-class comes down to the Satanic Trinity: housing, healthcare, and education costs. No one really gets to avoid what’s happening on these fronts. They affect everyone. So, we’ll talk about all three.

Healthcare costs are spiraling for a simple reason: people want not to be in pain, not to die before their time, and not to inflict sadness and misery on people who depend on them. We have this fiction in mind of efficient markets where fair prices are discovered based on abstract principles: supply (how hard is it to make widgets?) and demand (what value can people extract from widgets?). Often, this works. In many cases, markets are the best solution to the pricing problem.

Here’s an issue, though: in bad times, value becomes binary. What’s the value of water? If you’re fifteen minutes away from dying of thirst, it’s infinite. If you’re healthy and live in normal conditions, it’s practically free. I’d argue that this applies even to money itself. When people feel they have enough, they spend it without much thought. When money’s tight, they watch every cent.

For most commodities, including money itself, the marginal value is either nearly zero or nearly infinite; and, it’s never good to be in the latter situation.

What fuels the hospital-industrial complex? Fear, obviously. People who can afford it will pay whatever it costs not to die in pain of a tooth infection that leads to sepsis. It’s hard to put a number on not dying in the streets of a preventable illness. Moreover, it functions as a middle-class inheritance tax. The rich, who bequeath $10-million estates to their heirs, are largely unaffected by medical bills. Middle-class people who die with $250,000 to $2 million in net worth? Often, their finances are wiped out by end-of-life medical bills. Their kids are too deep in grief to care about money right then; so, that’s the best time for the hospital-industrial complex to strike.

The hospital-industrial complex is, financially, not very different from another, much older and more nakedly barbaric, wealth transfer from semi-rich old people to unscrupulous young people: witch hunting. I don’t believe for a second that educated people in the 17th century actually believed that these old women were hanging out with Satan in the forests of Massachusetts or Bavaria. Witch hunting existed not because everyone believed in that nonsense, but because it was so profitable for the hunter (and the church) to seize the wealth of a person who’d amassed significant money, but who lacked the vigor (and, in a time when a woman’s testimony was given little value, male gender) to defend it.

The medical-industrial complex exists for one reason: old people have money they can’t use and that they have neither the vigor nor reason to defend.

Let’s go to tuition next.

First, let’s admit that college education always had an economic purpose. High-minded ideals? Bullshit. We might wish it were otherwise, but less than 1 percent of people can afford to take four years off from the subtle, gray-beige oppression of economic life.

What differentiated colleges from trade schools is the obliquity of the approach to the individual economic problem. Trade schools provide knowledge that’s profitable now. So long as the trade stays strong, the tradesman is well-off. That’s always been true and it’s still true. There are probably more six-figure plumbers than six-figure art history professors. The issue is that no one can predict which trades will be strong, 20 years out. Trucking is a solid middle-class job that might be automated out of existence in a decade. So-called “blue-collar” jobs are commodity work and no one pretends otherwise. Wages are at the mercy of the market.

The selling point of a college degree is insurance against the vicissitudes of commodity values. Officer of a horse-carriage company, in 1902? Well, you might lose that job soon; but, thanks to your college degree, you have all the upper-middle-class skills necessary to run a car company.

We’re now at a point where there are so many college degrees, and the quality of graduated students is so variable, that college degrees bring very little. Largely, their job-winning purpose is to wash off the negative social signal of not having one.

To be fair in this assessment, the quality of education that’s available has probably never been higher. Just as a $5 bottle of wine today is superior to what Napoleon drank, someone who attends a no-name school and actually does the work will get a better education, in most ways, than someone who went to Harvard in 1980. The Internet has changed so much; it makes the smart, smarter, and the dumb, dumber. (That’s a topic for another time.) I’d even argue that the objective differences between colleges have shrunk– the difference in quality between the elite colleges and the next tier, which was never all that much, is one-third of what it used to be– but the social ramifications have spread out.

I work in the technology industry. In Silicon Valley, there are three schools that matter: Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. It has nothing to do with lay prestige (“Ivy League”) nor with the quality of the schools themselves. In venture-funded software, even Yale (or Princeton, or Dartmouth) is indistinguishable from the University of Michigan, which is indistinguishable from Northern Illinois University in De Kalb, which is indistinguishable from a community college, which is indistinguishable from nine weeks at a “code boot camp”. It’s not about the quality of the educational programs. It’s about venture capital and it’s about connections. If you want to raise a $2,000,000 seed round at 22, go to Stanford and not Yale; in the tech industry, Yale is Siberia.

These prejudices vary by industry. Consider traditional publishing. (I mean, don’t consider it as a career, unless your uncle is a power agent; but let’s examine it.) Yale and Princeton have incredible pull, whereas Stanford is openly mocked; MIT might get you a 6-figure advance, but only if you’re writing science fiction. If you want the New York Times to review your memoir, I Took Classes, then go to Yale and not Stanford; in trade publishing, Stanford is Siberia.

I’m sure that Stanford’s English program is excellent… and, besides, one doesn’t become a great writer by taking classes, but by reading and writing, which you can do anywhere. I’m sure that Yale’s undergraduate computer science is very good. You can get a rock-solid education at a state flagship college, a top-50 or so liberal arts college, et cetera. If you have the work ethic, you don’t necessarily need to go to college; there’s plenty of excellent material online. It’s probably no surprise that the tuition bubble is about that. It’s about connections. It’s about extracting personal benefit from the low-level corruption that exists in almost any society.

So why are tuitions rising? Why do people pay $65,000 per year to go to college, in addition to hundreds of thousands spent on elite boarding schools, private admissions consultants,  and donations? It’s not like connections “weren’t a thing” back in the 1980s. Small-scale corruption has always existed and always will. So what changed? Why is there a market for private college admissions counseling, to the tune of $50,000 per head?

It’s the panic purchase of credibility and connections, as the U.S. middle class dies.

We’ve covered two items of the Satanic Trinity: healthcare and tuition.

I suppose that there is some good news in both. With healthcare, the costs are usually exacted when we have no personal use for the money. There are exceptions. People get cancer at 47 (whoops!) but it’s rare. Just as most people in Vichy France didn’t die in camps, after all; the majority of people won’t suffer egregiously from the U.S. medical-industrial complex and its extortive billing practices. Relax, you’ll be fine… well, 95 percent of you.

People live in terror that if they don’t toe the line and stay employed and insured, they’ll be left to die on a hospital doorstep. That happens but, statistically, it’s far more likely that a person will suffer the opposite: being kept alive longer than, if they had their full faculties aforethought, they would want.

What about tuition? I suppose we can take solace in the fact that the spending is self-limiting to a degree. Colleges will still admit low- and middle-income students– it helps the rich feel better about themselves, and they can self-segregate by social class once behind the gates– and offer price reductions (to what people can actually just-barely afford) under the guise of “financial aid”. The prices will be calibrated to drain, but not break, the parents.

Behind healthcare billing, the soothing whisper is, “You don’t need this; you’re going to die soon.” Behind tuition, it’s, “Relax, this is what a good parent does; pay out, today, and your kids will be set for life.”

What about housing? Housing is… much more complex.

If you took an unweighted geographic average, you’d find that houses in the U.S. are reasonably priced. Cheap, even. There isn’t even anything wrong, either, with most of the places where one can find affordable houses. I’d rather live in the mountains of North Carolina than some overpriced, depressing suburb in the Bay Area that’s three hours (accounting for traffic) from anything worth looking at (i.e. the parts of California that are actually beautiful). Houses are only obnoxiously expensive… where there are jobs.

Oops. This country wasn’t supposed to have a Jobless Interior.

This is where it gets super touchy. It brings in gender and race and politics– why do people in so-called “red” versus “blue” states seem to live in different realities?– and there’s no easy solution to it. I’m about to get into trouble here.

Let’s take a break. We’ll talk about housing in the next installment.



31 thoughts on “State of Society, 2017 (Part 1)

  1. No, it wasn’t Reagan, it was the people who hired a third-rate actor to pitch their can o’ beans, his main talent being only to keep its glossy label toward the camera. But he did kick the snowball of anti-democracy down The Hill, and no one has been able to stop it since.

  2. I wish you would republish your “3 Ladders” post. That stuck me as one of the pieces I read that changed my world view. It explains so much of what is going on in the country now.

    • I’ll probably update it. I think it’s 85% correct. That said, it needs an update. For one thing, the class I called “the Gentry” is collapsing in on itself. What the stereotypical Trump voters (tier 1, 2 Labor) are angry about, largely doesn’t exist. There is no “liberal elite”. Nor is there a conservative elite. There is a go-fuck-yourself-everyone-else elite that will use leftist or rightist sentiments to its advantage.

  3. > In truth, the main reason Eastern Europe is poor is not that “communism didn’t work” but, more specifically, that those countries weren’t allowed to participate in the Marshall Plan.

    It’s always funny when Americans play right into the stereotype of amerocentric view of the world. Have you heard of Yugoslavia? It broke precisely for political / ideological reasons. Our economy was perfect.

    • Yougoslavia was destroyed by USA in order to install American base there (Bondsteel in Kosovo Serbia, former Yugoslavia). You cannot install a military base just like that somewhere. You first have to create some kind of turmoil, disturbance, like “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

      Why military base in Yugoslavia?

      Because US policy states that the biggest enemy of US is Russia. So the goal is to have military bases as close to Russia as possible.

      In the same fashion though, Russia will again install its military base in Cuba and Argentina, close to USA.

  4. > People live in terror that if they don’t toe the line and stay employed and insured, they’ll be left to die on a hospital doorstep. That happens but, statistically, it’s far more likely that a person will suffer the opposite: being kept alive longer than, if they had their full faculties aforethought, they would want.

    What do you mean by being kept alive longer than they would want? Experiencing slowly failing body with a fully capable mind for decades? Or, do most people not want to live more than 100 years?

    I suspect most people would rather want to live “at least” a few hundred years if they could stay healthy for most of their lifespans. I, myself, want to live at least a million years to understand what life is and experience various things in the universe. There is so much to learn and understand. I even want to extend my brain’s capacity with artificial intelligence. But, I’m a sample of size one. If you watched ray kurzweil’s videos, you would understand what it means to extend brain with artificial intelligence.

    I can understand that many terminally ill people(e.g., cancer develops again, …) may want to end their lives in an orderly manner by euthanasia rather than degrade slowly over several years or months. Pieter hintjens, one of my online friends, chose euthanasia over slow degradation by cancer. He probably intended to avoid giving more money to medical industry and destroying inheritance. He managed to hand over a little sum of money to his wife and children.

    I doubt that people will choose to end their lives within 100 years if they could live at least a few hundred years in perfect bodily conditions.

    • So, I agree that most people, if they could be healthy for the whole span, would want to live more than the 70-110 years most of us get. It might create societal problems. I’d argue that a more pressing concern is how badly we use the years we’ve got… chasing money and status in games that are rigged against us… but that’s another topic. Still, I could see an undesirable 400-year existence as a possibility (although a remote one). The question is: when we have the technology to overcome death, will we also overcome scarcity? Because, if we continue to live in a with-scarcity world where people have to subordinate to the rich in order to survive, I honestly don’t want 300 more years of this shit.

      What I mean, though, is that right now, doctors often choose to die earlier in the course of terminal illness than patients. They sign DNRs, they don’t ask for heroic measures that’ll cause agony but are unlikely to work, et cetera.

      I’ve seen enough people grapple with terminal illness to know that a lot of them are ready to go days, weeks, sometimes months before they actually die. The scary one for me is Alzheimer’s… there’s an event-horizon nature to it… it starts off mild enough that one might want to live for a while, and by the time you’d want to die, you’ve lost enough cognition that you’re not deemed competent enough to make the call.

      • I’d like to make a point that scarcity is not the same thing as finite. Air on earth is finite but not scarce. It’s practically limitless as long as humans don’t reproduce out of control.

        The same thing applies to unconditional basic income(UBI). With enough amount of UBI, people will have finite access to money, but financial scarcity will become mild enough that people won’t have to worry about being forcefully subordinated to the rich as long as they don’t blow money on gambles or they want to buy an expensive car every month.

        • Right. We’re going to have to move, globally speaking, into something between a command economy (bad) and a market economy (better, but with failure modes)… a sort of “designed economy” where market forces are permitted, but abuses are corrected and bad players punished.

          Imagine an MMORPG where a level-60 player goes around kicking the shit out of level-1 players just to piss them off. Eventually, the game runners will step in.

          Corporate capitalism doesn’t have that.

      • > Still, I could see an undesirable 400-year existence as a possibility (although a remote one). The question is: when we have the technology to overcome death, will we also overcome scarcity? Because, if we continue to live in a with-scarcity world where people have to subordinate to the rich in order to survive, I honestly don’t want 300 more years of this shit.

        I hate subordinating to the rich in order to survive. The very idea makes me queasy(thanks for teaching me a new word, queasy).
        While working long hours for one of Elon Musk’s companies would certainly advance humanity, I still work unsustainably long hours and work for someone else’s goals.
        Sure, working to advance the state of art in the fields of rocket science and electric car is good but it is not everyone’s personal passion. Hell, most people would be even lucky to work for companies pursuing worthwhile goals.

        If unconditional basic income was paid, then we wouldn’t need to wait for someone like Elon Musk to task big personal financial risks just to advance space engineering.

  5. In order to understand global stupidity, one should first start by reading about Porter Hypothesis. PH is a mathematical proof of the current state global stupidity. Predictably, one of the earlier researchers of global stupidity was George Orwell. He’s written a not very well known essay that is the introduction of his famous book Animal Farm. It’s not known because it wasn’t published – it was found decades later in his unpublished papers, but it is now available. In this essay he points out that Animal Farm is obviously a satire on the totalitarian enemy; but he urges people in free England to not feel too self-righteous about that, because as he puts it, in England, unpopular ideas can be suppressed without the use of force. He goes on to give examples of what he means.

    One reason, he says, is that the press is owned by wealthy men who have every interest in not having certain ideas expressed. His second is a interesting point: a good education. If you go to the best schools you have instilled into you the understanding that there are certain things it just wouldn’t do to say. That, Orwell claims, is a powerful hook that goes well beyond the influence of the media.

    Stupidity comes in many forms. I’d like to say a few words on one particular form that I think may be the most troubling of all. We might call it ‘institutional stupidity’. It’s a kind of stupidity that’s entirely rational within the framework within which it operates: but the framework itself ranges from grotesque to virtual insanity. Instead of trying to explain it, it may be more helpful to mention a couple of examples. For instance, a recent issue of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists presents a study of false alarms from the automatic detection systems the US and others use to detect incoming missile attacks and other threats that could be perceived as nuclear attack. The study ran from 1977 to 1983, and it estimates that during this period there were a minimum of about 50 such false alarms, and a maximum of about 255. These were alarms aborted by human intervention, preventing disaster by a matter of a few minutes.

    It’s plausible to assume that nothing substantial has changed since then. But it actually gets much worse. In 1983, there was a major war scare. This was in part due to what George Kennan, the eminent diplomat, at the time called “the unfailing characteristics of the march towards war – that, and nothing else.” It was initiated by programs the Reagan administration undertook as soon as Reagan came into office. They were interested in probing Russian defences, so they simulated air and naval attacks on Russia.

    This was a time of great tension. US Pershing missiles had been installed in Western Europe, with a flight time of about five to ten minutes to Moscow. Reagan also announced his ‘Star Wars’ program, understood by strategists on both sides to be a first strike weapon. In 1983, Operation Able Archer included a practice that “took Nato forces through a full-scale simulated release of nuclear weapons.” The KGB, we have learnt from recent archival material, concluded that armed American forces had been placed on alert, and might even have begun the countdown to war.

    The world has not quite reached the edge of the nuclear abyss; but during 1983, it had, without realizing it, come frighteningly close – certainly closer than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Russian leadership believed that the US was preparing a first strike, and might well have launched a preemptive strike. I am actually quoting from a recent US high-level intelligence analysis, which concludes that the war scare was for real. The analysis points out that in the background was the Russians’ enduring memory of Operation Barbarossa, the German code-name for Hitler’s 1941 attack on the Soviet Union, which was the worst military disaster in Russian history, and came very close to destroying the country. The US analysis says that was exactly what the Russians were comparing the situation to.

    That’s bad enough, but it gets still worse. About a year ago we learned that right in the midst of these world-threatening developments, Russia’s early-warning system – similar to the West’s, but much more inefficient – detected an incoming missile strike from the US and sent off the highest-level alert. The protocol for the Soviet military was to retaliate with a nuclear strike. But the order has to pass through a human being. The duty officer, a man named Stanislav Petrov, decided to disobey orders and not to report the warning to his superiors. He received an official reprimand. But thanks to his dereliction of duty, we’re now alive to talk about it.

    We know of a huge number of false alarms on the US side. The Soviet systems were far worse. Now nuclear systems are being modernised.

    The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have a famous Doomsday Clock, and they recently advanced it two minutes. They explain that the clock “ticks now at three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty, ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilisation.”

    Individually, these international leaders are certainly not stupid. However, in their institutional capacity their stupidity is lethal in its implications. Looking over the record since the first – and so far only – atomic attack, it’s a miracle that we’ve escaped.

    Nuclear destruction is one of the two major threats to survival, and a very real one. The second, of course, is environmental catastrophe, which is the focus of PH.

    There’s a well-known professional services group at PricewaterhouseCoopers who have just released their annual study of the priorities of CEOs. At the top of the list is over-regulation. The report says that climate change did not make it into the top nineteen. Again, the CEOs are doubtless not stupid individuals. Presumably they run their businesses intelligently. But the institutional stupidity is colossal, literally life-threatening for the species.

    Individual stupidity can be remedied, but institutional stupidity is much more resistant to change. At this stage of human society, it truly endangers our survival. Encased in utopian ideology of neoliberalism, the absurd idea that markets should dictate all aspects of human society, institutional stupidity has been a prime concern for the last 50 years. Disastrous consequences of neoliberal ideology for our society, culture, and politics can be seen in how corporations indoctrinated the public, academia, and the mass media to sign on for a project that has devastated the lives of working men and women and obliterated the common good. Every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie. Its power to write its own laws and regulations has ultimately created a mafia economic system and a mafia political system, whether one calls it Clinton, or Bush, or Trump, or whatever. This System of Global Stupidity and oligarchic capitalism was put into motion with Trilateral Commission and Carter administration back in the 70s.

      • Wrong. Porter was American, Jevons (“Jevons Paradox”) as well. Noam Chomsky (“Requiem for American Dream”, “On Institutional Stupidity”) also American. Deming (“14 principles of optimal economy”, creator of TQM), American as well, was expelled from USA after WWII. He found job in Post-war Japan, which he helped recover. Deming was inventor of the theory of optimal solutions. Practically, he created Japan post-war economic miracle and got the highest medal of honour of Japan by tzar Hirohito in 1961.
        Later on, under the influence of global stupidity (led by USA neoliberal oligarchs), Japan too abandoned some o Deming’s principles.

        Deming’s Fourteen Points for optimal economy:

        1 Create constancy of purpose for improvement of product and services
        2 Adopt the new philosophy
        3 Cease dependence on mass inspection
        4 End the practice of awarding business on price tag alone
        5 Constantly and forever improve the systems of production and services
        6 Institute modern methods of training on the job
        7 Institute modern methods of supervision and leadership
        8 Drive out fear
        9 Break down barriers between departments
        10 Eliminate numerical goals for the work force
        11 Eliminate work standards and numerical quotas
        12 Remove barriers to pride of workmanship
        13 Institute a vigorous programme of education and training for everyone
        14 Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the above 13 points.

  6. I wonder if the suckitude of tech as a profession relates to the downfall of Lisp.

    I spent the last two days hacking together a hard AI problem (language generation) using gcl. It was largely a desperation move – Python was just too clumsy and tedious. It was my first experience using a functional language, and I was struck by (a) how easy it was to pick up, (b) how easy it was to propagate changes through the code, (c) how quickly one could go from ideas to results, and (d) how easy it was to iterate to the best result. Not only that, but it was much easier to keep my code clean. I am thunderstruck. Why did I not try this before? Why was I wasting my time with Java and C++?

    And yet if I went out to the job market saying I was a Lisp or Clojure programmer, most of the “serious” salaries would be out of reach – it’s not like JP Morgan is going to shell out 250k for Clojure chops. Even though a project that would have taken me 2 weeks now shrunk to a day, meaning that now I can do 14x as much work as I could even with Python.

    And then, my mind began to drift back in time. I look back to the early 2000’s – when I mentioned I wanted to do something in Lisp (which I didn’t know but wanted to learn), my manager just scoffed and said “uh … no”. I got shit on the job for using Perl, even – Java was the “real” language.

    Then, I go back to the 70’s and 80’s – then, a Lisp programmer making a decent salary was not an anomaly. There were whole operating systems built to run it. And I read this article (, about a guy who joined a Lisp shop, the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, even using the REPL to debug a Mars rover! But then, managers decided to switch over to C++. The guy left for Google, but they were equally hostile to his Lisp-fluency. This seemed to happen everywhere, and it was middle and upper management who pulled the trigger.

    I’m wondering if C++ and Java – using bastardized OOP – were more appealing because the practice of doing this reflected the noise, slowness, tediousness, and brutal hierarchy of corporate life. Using them was less productive, but it was something management could understand and, more importantly, control. Reading this JPL story, and doing this project, has convinced me that, in corporate life, control trumps productivity every time. I want to be productive, I must wage a private war.

    • What you’re writing is spot on.

      I don’t think that fixing “the language problem” works. Anti-intellectuals won the war; pro-intellectuals lost it. Even if you get to use a high-productivity tool, you still have to continually justify it to mouth-breathers.

      Lisp fell because tech fell; tech fell because our government fell. Our government fell because, rather than a true conservative party, Republicans became a “government doesn’t work” party in the 1980s, and because our ultra-rich were more than happy to dismantle civil society. They were able to pull this off because of deep-seated racism… and an animosity between racist extremists and the federal government that goes back to the 19th century.

      • An addendum – when I was at MIT, I remember using this expensive piece of signals processing hardware from the 70’s. The code for it was written by a Professor then in his 80’s using – you guessed it – Lisp. Today, the serious “metal” stuff happens in C++ – back then, it could be done with Lisp, just like the higher-order stuff like logical inferencing. There’s an alterbate universe where the good guys won, and people are using the best language for the job, and we already have condos on the moon.

        • There are languages which claim C-like performance with much better type safety and expressiveness. Rust is one.

          But everyone just pushes forward with C or maybe C++ if they are doing that “perfesser rocket-surgery stuff”.

      • I have yet to read books on hatred, but hating random people is illogical, and it’s not practical for individuals. I hate individuals who damage me, but I don’t hate random people, based on their race or anything else.

        I only have to guess people were manipulated into hating each other by psychopaths or other kinds of people who like to tinker with other people, using social engineering.

        Nowdays, it is considered cool for women to hate men in korea. If you read about womad of south korea, it would make you sick. Actually, womad has connections with korean feminism which in turn is entrenched in the government. When I read their statements, their psychopathy chills my neck.

    • Aren’t you tired of this “my dic^H^H^H language is bigger than your language” straw man? For starters you’re speaking a retarded language, English that is. We should all be speaking Latin and we’re only not doing it because retards like you bring us to the lowest common denominator which is English. And by the way, in Latin you’re not just 14x more productive than English but 23.7 times! It took poor bearded old guy 7 years to write Game of Thrones only because he had to struggle with this assembly level idiots thing which is English, it would have taken him roughly 4 months to express the same concepts in a much more expressive form in the perl of a language which is Latin. And don’t get me started about Klingonian, you’re talking days there!

      So again, when are you going to cut the bullshit and just show results? The variance in results is so big and accounts for so much more factors than the retarded language argument which stupid nerds rediscover when they hit puberty that it’s effectively irrelevant in what language you’re writing. Think LISP as a mean of 0.1 with a standard deviation of 20 and your favorite horse to beat, Java, with a horrific mean of -1! But a standard deviation of 18. Same. Fucking. Shit.

      Talented and capable guys will pick one language, get better at it and just write the fucking novel. By the way Michael, your Farissa sucks big time. The reason, obviously coze it’s English. I suggest you start studying Swahili, they’ve got some very nice invariants there that don’t allow you to shoot yourself in the foot like your stupid English does.

      • Wow ok. I was just talking about results of a 2 day experiment with gcl, but I must have struck a nerve. I’m not going to apologize because I didn’t say anything offensive, but I’m not going to argue either.

        • Apologizing is for weaklings. As one wise character once said, “say or don’t say, there’s no apologizing” 😛

    • The key thing in the industry was “machine independence”. Back in the 80s, somebody wrote an article “Forth – the language of machine independence”, and Forth was taught at American graduate CS schools. But the technology was lagging, and Forth never took off. Fast forward to late 90s. Somebody (an inventor of Java) probably had the above article at his desk, and realized hey, we can now really create a language of machine independence (implement so called “stack-machine”). And so Java was born. That is what industry wanted. Industry did not want Prolog, nor Medusa, nor who know what. Industry wanted machine independence, and they got it in Java. Prolog btw was much more expressive than Lisp (which had its origins in Algol). Prolog was a true AI language, and just like Smalltalk, a true OO language, it did not succeed as AI language of choice.

      • Again, a 2 day experiment in seeing how much moving to a functional language would improve my productivity. And then writing about the observations. Nothing more. And to be honest, gcl isn’t all flowers and daffodils:

        * I wasn’t too enamoured with gcl’s iteration structures – tail recursion is easier to implement – but you blow up the stack if the compiler isn’t optimized for it.
        * I find it irritating how basic functionality like server-client interaction (which Python has) just isn’t in the cards.
        * hash tables, but no sets?
        * lists aren’t random access, it seems, so things like accessing the nth element of a list is O(n). Python made the smart choice by embedding linked lists in vectors, and making this the go-to data structure.
        * vectors are limited to 1024 elements. So that leaves out any serious math you want to do.
        * statistical machine learning? spacy? scikit-learn? forget it. I have to build a Python microservice to call those libraries.

        This being said, I still hold by my initial observations.

        I chose gcl because I have an old copy of PG’s book about it – sorry MOC, I know you dislike the man, but it is a good book. But again, it seems like the language is frozen where it was 20 years ago – when setting up servers, websites, API’s, was serious work. Maybe I’ll switch to Clojure.

        Luckily, my employers don’t really care about language so I didn’t have to ask for permission to use anything.

  7. >> There’s been progress, for sure. We elected a black President, we’ve legalized gay marriage, and the computers we use for phones are superior to mainframes not long ago.

    You’re mixing potatoes with oranges here but hey, two out of three is not that bad 😛

  8. By the way, I’m feeling chatty tonight so why not all of us here:

    1) State some memory of them.
    2) Propose a direction in the future.

    No obligatory relation between #1 and #2, that’s the fun part!! 🙂

  9. Michael, fuck your system.

    You’re the Trotsky of the 21’st century and should feel at least a little bit of conscious for not sending my dogs to kill you, as the other guys would.

    By the way, I’m a guy who never existed as far as official history sustains. I was Beria:


    1) Is it true there are wolves and sheep in this word?
    2) Is it true you’ve seen (countless) wolves wearing a sheep coat?
    3) Do you at least logically recognize us as sheep wearing a wolf skin?
    4) ??? (Profit!!)

  10. >> Trucking is a solid middle-class job that might be automated out of existence in a decade. So-called “blue-collar” jobs are commodity work and no one pretends otherwise. Wages are at the mercy of the market

    I’m working for, guess what, exactly that company. Cheers, truck divers.

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