Information Is Broken

Humanity is informed as never before; nothing in the historical record compares. This, unfortunately, is not a particularly good thing.

The provision of information, if it is to bless mankind, must have quality control built into it… it must have a feedback mechanism with teeth. Barring that, it can spiral out of control, as, indeed, it has.

Consider that almost everyone in the modern world is flooded with information. Even the poorest people walk around with phones beeping at them a dozen times per day, delivering little packets of it. And for active people the info-delivery is far greater. Even the delivery devices themselves, smart phones, have become status symbols. Continue reading “Information Is Broken”

Earned Knowledge, L3, P3

Late Mesopotamia

As we’ll see in other rigid, stratified civilizations, Sumer began to fall apart after about 1,900 BC, and was taken over by nearby rulers by 1,750 BC. The Sumerian people had remained where they were, and lived as they had lived, through many changes of rulership. This time, however, the “reason to obey” promoted by the rulers changed, and the farmers didn’t take to the change. Continue reading “Earned Knowledge, L3, P3”

Bourgeois And Proud

Even if you’re not exactly sure what bourgeois means, you’ve almost certainly noticed that it refers to something bad or embarrassing. In a moment I’ll explain its actual meaning, but first I want to turn the tables on it: I will maintain that bourgeois is good. For most of us, the bourgeois way of life is something to be sought, and hopefully to be attained.

Now, let’s get back to the proper meaning of the term. Continue reading “Bourgeois And Proud”

Earned Knowledge, L3, P2

Daily life in Egypt was much the same as for Sumerians, save that it was more restrictive and less prosperous. Sumerians owned the land they farmed, or at least their family as a group owned it. Egyptian farmers did not; the king owned their land. They were watched and controlled very closely as well. That’s what is illustrated in this drawing, which was found in the tomb of an overseer: Continue reading “Earned Knowledge, L3, P2”

The Angel of The Year: 2022

The Angel of The Year award is given to, “that person or entity who has been praised, lauded and publicly adored more than any other being on our planet over the past year.” To be awarded this honor, the recipient must have attained exalted status in more human minds than anyone else. 

The words “publicly adored” are a central criterion. The opinions of individuals vary widely, and counting them is all but impossible. But what appears in the public square is definable and even measurable. That allows the Angel of The Year award to be based upon more than personal opinions. Continue reading “The Angel of The Year: 2022”

Is It True That Only Moral People Can Be Free?

People sometimes talk about freedom requiring morality and even religion. The famous quote along these lines is from John Adams, who wrote that the US constitution was made for “a moral and religious people,” going on to say that it’s unfit for any other kind.

Nothing against Mr. Adams, but that passage is a mere assertion. It says nothing about why it might be true that freedom requires a moral populace. Such assertions really ought to be supported, and so far as I’ve seen, they haven’t been.

And so today I’ll address that void. Continue reading “Is It True That Only Moral People Can Be Free?”

Earned Knowledge, L3, P1

Variations And The End of The Model

As we mentioned in Lesson #2, once hard and aggressive people in other places knew that kingship worked so well in Mesopotamia, they began to copy it. And so the “kingship from Eridu” model began to spread all through the ancient Near East. But while all of them copied Mesopotamia, they weren’t entirely the same.

The largest and most successful of these variations of Mesopotamian kingship occurred in Egypt. And there was a very strong reason for that: People living in Egypt had almost no way to leave. Continue reading “Earned Knowledge, L3, P1”

Demon of The Year: 2022

The Demon of The Year award is given to, “that person or entity who has terrified more children, raised more blood pressure and/or been more reflexively hated than any other being on our planet over the past year.”

How grounded in reality any of the above may be is not an issue in determining the Demon of The Year; what matters is that the recipient personifies the image of the demon in the collective mind of the public. Continue reading “Demon of The Year: 2022”

What About Environmental Concerns Over Crypto Mining?

I learned long ago that when institutions decide to ride a subject, they can do so mercilessly. By endless repetition people are worn down into compliance… and then into defense of their compliance. I’ve seen it too many times.

And so, seeing them harping on “Bitcoin isn’t environmentally friendly,” I feel a need to defend reality, before it’s overrun yet again.

Let’s start with some basic engineering, so you can see that it isn’t people on my side who are making wild assertions, but people on the institutional side. Continue reading “What About Environmental Concerns Over Crypto Mining?”

Earned Knowledge L2, P4

What Happened Over Time

Mesopotamia, at 7,000 BC, even at 5,000 BC, was mostly a wide open place. But as rulership grew and spread, life there was progressively choked. By 3,000 BC, the entire area was controlled by centralized power… by a vast network of kings, overseen by a “king of kings.”

More than 100 factors of daily life were said to be ordained by the gods, and enforced by their representatives. And so life became stratified, which means that people were held in place: farmers and their children remained farmers, temple officials and their children remained temple officials, and so on. Continue reading “Earned Knowledge L2, P4”