Quotebag #113

Paul Lambie:
Aaron [Renn] says that the government shouldn’t try to sign “gotcha” deals with private parties, but does anyone believe that the aim of private entities is not to take advantage of government officials with such deals?
Here’s the thing. Wealth is not a number of dollars. It is not a number of material possessions. It’s having options and the ability to take on risk.
Cynthia Kaufman:
The idea that human nature is unchangeable and that it is basically selfish or anti-social is used over and over again to discourage people from challenging our current social order. It is one of the mechanisms used to promote cynicism and destroy hope.
I have to: (shoot this Rhino / suck this dick / deal this crack / rob this house / mug this person / run this racket / flip this cheeseburger / add micro transactions to this game / deny this claim / drill this deep ocean well / keep working for this !@#$%ing company / …(List_1))
In order to: (aquire money / feed my children / attract a relationship / give myself and my family a decent quality of life / …(List_2))
[Universal basic income] raises the “temperature” of the collective economic body. The barrier for people getting together and doing grassroots and idealistic work, anywhere — all the work we already have been brewing for decades — suddenly lowers from a 100 ft brick wall to a cute 1ft white wooden fence.
Cathy O’Neil:
I’m a sucker for reverse-engineering powerful algorithms, even when there are major caveats.
Sometimes you have to take a job that you know will be a bad fit because you would prefer eating to not eating. Never, and I mean never, feel like you have to defend or justify that choice.
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Is Value Network relevant to Angel Economics?

I suspect the architects of Value Network (“ERP for networks”) have stumbled into some of the same concepts that I did when expanding on Angel Economics:

My first suggestion was to start with a simple production process; organized around one person or some other small number. Identify the inputs and outputs of that process. This activity should be simple, step-by-step and replicable.

In Value Network there is a data schema for modeling economic activity.  What stands out to me is that they refer to one of the basic units of economic activity as recipes.  Combine that with Value Network being about networks of economic actors, and it becomes clear that Value Network and Angel Economics have much in common.  I want to connect with this community, and it looks like their Github presence might be a venue for that, but I don’t know how to approach them.  (Hell, I don’t even know how to approach Github, and I understand that’s a common gripe…)  Suggestions (or even introductions) would be welcome.

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What is a “foundup?”

I saw this mandala-like Venn diagram on Facebook:

The Venn Diagram partitions the plane into 14 regions. There are of course 16 possible subsets of the four elements. The two are excluded from the diagram (but hopefully not excluded as possibilities) are

  • You are great at it
  • The world needs it
  • You don’t love it
  • You aren’t paid for it

and the complementary scenario:

  • You are not great at it
  • The world doesn’t need it
  • You love it
  • You are paid for it

The first of these scenarios identifies by the Venn Diagram as “impossible” might apply to a soldier, probably not in the modern world in which it’s assumed in all but the most tragic countries that soldiers should be paid, but perhaps the “warrior saints” of early Christian history would be historical examples. Maybe the Guardian Angels would be a contemporary example, but I don’t know. The second unacknowledged combination is the territory occupied by a large percentage of those people known as celebrities.

Certain regions of the diagram are associated with certain qualities:

  • greatness+love=passion
  • love+necessity=mission
  • necessity+remuneration=vocation
  • greatness+remuneration=profession

I suppose we could add

  • necessity+love=dedication
  • love+promotion=promotion

As for foundups, I’m not sure. I don’t know whether to think it’s just a well-intentioned pyramid scheme, or something far-reaching and VACIMET-like.

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Moving the goalposts is not a victimless crime

As we contemplate the slow, painful, but hopefully forward progress from the merely voluntary to the snarkily-defended “euvoluntary,” to the thickly voluntary, to the actually palatable, let’s re-visit a concept introduced by the labor movement: the scab. The scab is someone who crosses a picket line. By doing so, they make thing worse for everyone by lowering the standards to which an employer can realistically be held. Yet another example of how the “any job is better than no job” “ethic” is at best an inducement for good people to do bad things.

The word “scab” comes to my mind in reference to a vast array of human actions in addition to people crossing picket lines. Sometimes I’m so expansive in my definition of scab that it means “doing something I wouldn’t do,” or even “doing something I wouldn’t be proud of doing.”

As an agitator for radical social change, my biggest frustration in life is a basically passive attitude toward private and public institutions on the part of a sizable share (normally a majority) of the population.

The gravity of these random acts of scabbiness ranges from petty annoyances like people who gripe about each Facebook policy change but don’t leave Facebook, to the mere existence of people literally working for pennies via Mechanical Turk. Just creating proof of concept for a race to a point that close to the bottom seems to me to cross the line from scabbiness into outright class treason.

Lest I be too judgmental…

Like probably everyone, I am guilty of many instances of shameful, scabby conduct. Since my own life expectations have largely been a case study in moving the goalposts, my excuses are likewise pathetic. Instead of the Yuppie Nuremberg Principle (“I’ve got a mortgage”) I’ve been whittled down to the Precariat Nuremberg Principle (“I need the experience”).

Funny how experience gets treated as a scarce commodity regardless of whether you’re buying or selling.

Solidarity, folks. Solidarity.

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Quotebag #112

There is no article of faith more fancifully supernatural than belief in a natural free market.

Dale Carrico

Because when people are living on the bleeding edge, at the absolute lowest cost of existence in this society, then occasionally things are going to go wrong and the person is going to run out of money.

Marshall Brain

The elite is composed of generally smart people with servants who are either useful idiots or who have narrowly circumscribed interests/intelligence. But they are not geniuses. Elite machinations seem complex and hard to think about because the vast majority of the public is not involved in them, is not aware of the details and calculations made. Elites simply know their own business and interests and we generally do not.


The division between the commercial sector and the public sector might be a convenient rhetorical choice, but it is incoherent as an analytical framework through which to understand the politics of a surveillance society.

Matt Stoller

Nobody gets to decide who’s being poor correctly.

Zacqary Adam Xeper

Education, skills and experience cannot compete with the network.


In their article, Taylor and Appel wonder if it is “time to ask whether education alone can really move people up the class ladder.” With all due respect, that is the wrong question. It is time to ask whether or not there should be a ladder. And the answer is no.


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Police is a verb

Privatizing the police does not constitute abolishing the police. Anarchy refers to an unpoliced population, not a privately policed one. If anything, the accountability-in-theory of a local police department to the community at large is a lesser evil (though still of course an evil) than the accountability-in-practice of a security firm to its paying customers.

Unrestrained human nature is basically safe, or it is not, in which case you are a statist.

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