Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Saturday, May 23, 2009

But What About The Game?!?!

So macromolecules bumped around for a few eons forming various interesting combinations. One day it made RNA. This RNA did something kind of funky. Sort of broke in half and based upon the various break points, perfect complementary molecules filled in to make it whole again. It kept happening over and over again.

Eventually one of these things made a cell for itself. This was handy. Couple of cells got together. Again, handy. Tissues, creatures, ecosystems... you get the drift. Handy little tricks got copied.

So we have agents pursuing self-interest. If combining with another self-interested agent is beneficial, then "laissez les bon temps roulez".

But, in what may seem to be a non-sequiter though it really isn't, what if the Production Manager gets paid an incentive based on number of widgets produced and the Quality Control Manager gets an incentive based on percentage of widgets without defects? Going to be some friction...

Squirrel is backing it goes up the tree. We'll have to keep working on the parameters of the game.


Cottonbloggin said...


Why do you think diversity would suffer if a new social contract were sketched out?

This is what i see: Currently there is a series of overlapping, top-down control structures; government, or corporations, etc. WITHIN these hosts there are parasites. These are the emergent control structures of the new media or social networking sites. These parasites have the potential to grow large enough to consume and kill their host, and replace them with a bottom up control structure identical to the Iroquois Confederacy that I harp on about.

I'll give you a very specific MODERN example: The music industry. It's a top down control structure, which has been weakened by various diseases (napster, myspace), and-- being sick-- is now battling for survival against a bottom up control structure called "Pandora".

blogs and new media have BEGUN to undermine dead tree media. Booklamp has the potential to undermine the publishing industry. Couchsurfing has sapped the walls of fortress Travel Industry. etc, etc.

This is revolution, and I'd like to see battle lines drawn (because they will be, eventually). But what's needed is a POLITICAL document sketching out the vision of a world controlled BY THE PEOPLE in a digital direct democracy. Think of it as a Declaration of Independence FROM Corporate governance. Change "all men are created equal" to "all individuals have evolved to be unique, yet equal in value". Change the "pursuit of happiness" to "the benefit of the commons". Etc. It's a document that would influence the future course of things to come by manipulating the culture and values of the emergent, bottom up society.


seems likely to succeed, since-- if you remember your evolutionary theory-- it is not the strongest who win, but those most willing (and able) to cooperate.

..and to answer your question, having a cultural outlook which values individuality and uniqueness INCREASES diversity by helping to nullify groupthink.

Dink said...


Hot Damn! You are the cyber Che Guevara!

I will reflect further upon your post, but I wanted to mention the "strength equals willingness to cooperate" concept immediately. I think the planet/ecosystem needs to be considered an entity to cooperate with, as well as other humans. Really, its more than an equal... can a boundary be an agent as well?

I'm rambling.... yes,SRC saloon was the right name...

Thai said...

Cotton, I wrote a long response and then deleted it when I realized I might not be understanding you correctly.

Can you clarify a little more what Dink is asking?

Where is the room in your view for a control structure that will appropriately destroy the diversity which will periodically threaten society as a whole? Does this come from the power of the document?

How is this different than our current bill of rights?

For remember, just like Hume, for me it has always been about BOTH, e.g. a freedom of individuality WITHIN certain boundaries that can be expanded over time, AND a control of that which serious threatens the boundaries boundaries forever (even if it breaks my heart to destroy that diversity and even if I know that one day society may be able to accept this new diversity without lethal fracture).

As Deb has correct recognized, though I am an atheist who has become even more so as I get older AND as someone who loves a good bottle of wine and crazy things like Burning Man, etc... still at some level I am a modern Puritan.

I wholly agree with their 5 main beliefs.

1. Depravity (some conservation is necessary)
2. Covenant (integrity/personal responsibility)
3. Election (not all ideas are equally valuable to the cooperative)
4. Grace (incredible awe and wonder of our universe)
5. Love (cooperation)

I have come to see these principles as a compass to steer my life by.

With this in mind, can you clarify "a world controlled BY THE PEOPLE in a digital direct democracy" a little more?

We may strongly agree.

Dink said...

If you send your e-mail addresses to I now know how to add you as a blog author so you can all post as well.

@Cotton, Thai:
So freedom of speech is critical for any democracy (especially a cyber one), but its a tricky thing, yes?

Its as if every statement (written or otherwise) should come with a "statement of author's intent". This way the author couldn't come up with a "War of the Worlds" presentation to panic everyone. And the author would have to have a tracking system so integrity could be monitored (Thai mentioned something like the eBay system for sellers and buyers).

Say an author claims that martians are landing in NJ. His "statement of intent" was "notify public of actual event" instead of "fiction to amuse reader". A reader could see whether this was the author's 1st and only post (very suspicious) or had years of posting (consistancy/investment to their cyber-persona). If there was a history of posting, the reader could review previous posts. If the previous posts were flaky, the reader could discount the martian landing and perhaps alert some sort of authority that the author was not being honest in his statement of intent.

Slander/libel only applies when the speaker/author knowingly say false things aobut a person. So as long as the author's statement of intent was "opinion" instead of "fact" they would be safe from persecution.

Certainly groups would evolve that would have a reputation for integrity for verifying claims factual events (like CNN used to).

In many ways, such a system would create more accountability than people who live in large, anonymous cities have. If there were a tracking system, people would have to work hard to create a reputation instead of getting a fresh start with every stranger they meet.

@ Thai,
I'm not sure I understand the Puritan belief of "Depravity". I've not heard the term used to mean a good thing before. How does it relate to conservation?

Cottonbloggin said...

ok, I have to go MIA for a minute, but here's a teaser to help answer your questions:

Thai, you posted a TED video the other day about data, and one of the first things he says (right after Swedish top students are sub-chimpanzee) is that our preconceived notions get in the way of rational decisionmaking... or something to that effect.

Now as an example of preconceived notions, Obama will soon nominate a justice for the supreme court soon and one side of America will yell "strict constitutionalist" at the top of their lungs. Why? Well because it's politically expedient, yes... but also because there was a flaw in the document-- it doesn't explicitly state HOW it should be read... so... we (as citizens) rely on our preconceived notions of these documents to form our opinions about this (and similar) issues.

I say, wipe the slate clean-ish, rework these documents to reflect what has worked and what hasn't worked (using the data), and then release it to the public for them to examine, modify and then sign on to.

That process of modification is the first step in "a world controlled BY THE PEOPLE in a digital direct democracy".

Instead of the founding documents being written and ratified in a smoky room filled with white guys... well, it's a constitution written and ratified BY THE PEOPLE in the digital commons. And... i suppose... it should be re-ratified every generation?

That and I'm NOT looking to destroy diversity... I'm looking to INCREASE diversity by giving all the power to individuals (more voices=more diversity), while at the same time setting up certain boundaries to protect the Commons... and, therefore the ecosystem.

so yes Dink, I suppose a boundary can be an agent.

Cottonbloggin said...


and so everyone knows, the reason i got on this kick was because IMHO, the only way to fix the economic problems that Hell speaks about is to FIRST change the value structure of the people living IN and making up that economy.

Debra said...

Yawn, stretch, I'm in my cat mode today...
I have just come back from a little jaunt across the border to a sleepy little suburb of Torino that is really delightful, and where my husband picked up an award for one of his poems.
My God, if the Italians didn't exist already, someone would have to invent them.
We arrived with NO agenda, no nothing, and played it by ear, being swept away in the (slow) movement for the following 7 hours or so.
At least two hours of long speeches in Italian, with beautiful, beautiful books (among which a book on Dante...) being awarded. Books made according to ancestral techniques of printing on beautiful paper.
I discovered that I can speak (limited) Italian, even though I have never taken any class whatsoever. Thank God for the Da Ponte Mozart operas, and Verdi, you know what I mean...
Life in a suburb of Torino is twenty years behind life in fast spinning Grenoble, which is itself twenty years behind already off on a tangent U.S...
You guys couldn't PAY me to live in the U.S. any more.
And I'm not interested in playing THE GAME, Thai.
It is too rationalist/Puritan for me. Still.
But I'm sure going to cultivate Alpigniano.
For its slow pace. Even if there are more Carrefour open in Italy on a Sunday in a Catholic country than in France, a laïc one...

Dink said...

@ Debra,
You are merciless! I suppose next weekend you'll be floating down the Loire river admiring 15th century castles and fields of lavender while eating brie on apples. MONSTER!

@ Che,
The more I ponder your post the more I like the idea of citizenship being an active process instead of a passive one. Immigrants to the US have to pass tests and swear an oath, why not native born 18 year olds? I mean, how about signing on to a few basic agreements such as "I'll never be party to violence unless in self-defense" and "I understand that rights are balanced with responsibilities"? Things one would really hope one's fellow citizens are on board with.

Also, here's an old commercial warning about the dangers of living in Spain"

Debra said...

Dink, count my two adult children out for the citizenship gigue...
Talk about Kafka. I will SPARE you on soil people the facts of expatriate life, they are just SO unbelievably sordid...
Fields of lavendar are in the south of France, closer to the Rhone than to the Loire.
No brie on apples. Brie is pretty much INDUSTRIAL these days.
Has to be, huh ? YOU GUYS have gotten hold of it.
Give me one of those little goat milk cheeses, so hard that you can break a tooth on it almost. With good bread, and olives.
Your mouths watering yet ?
Washed down with a nice local Côtes du Rhone, not too pricey, because the cheese will take the roof off your palate, and there's no sense ruining good wine in that kind of a combo...
Tune in next time for another gastronomic intercourse...

SS said...

@ Thai,

Finally catching up with you guys, excellent progress. I wanted to mention that your earlier link to the Sweedish Health Statistics Professor at TED is in the end very establishment. Play it again, especially the part which shows the GDP growth by country dot over time. Than watch the big China dot. It is driving the whole average curve to the right (increasing GDP0. Take it out and the curve goes back little moved from where it started. This is a message they, the establishment development specialists, don't want you to know. They were not instrumental in China's development, do not like the model and in a nutshell feel very left out and jealous - nothing they have done has really worked and is probably not meant to work.


Cottonbloggin said...


Dink, that's that's exactly what I wanted to get across when I wrote the tacit consent line (re: immigrants and tests). That and having to sign SOMETHING to become a full blown member of society seems logical to me.

Maybe that happens at age 18, when we confer all the rights and responsibilities on our citizens anyway?

I suppose that piggybacks off Dawkins idea that children shouldn't be called or considered Catholic, or Muslim (etc) children, unless they're old enough to decide for themselves what their religious (or in this case, political) views are, since children are like gullible, manipulatable sponges.


PISSED!!! President brie anywhere in Europe costs something like a euro fifty, but HERE?! The same mini wheel costs almost SEVEN DOLLARS!? I'm almost about ready to rent myself a milkable animal and start making my own bloody cheese!

That or we could work out a deal! you send me some stinky French cheeses, and i'll send you... something... good... from america?! Hmmmm?

Cottonbloggin said...

oh, and Dink, fifth image to the right is Romanesco BROCCOLI, believe it or not.

Thai said...


Enjoying the thread too much to intervene and ruin it.


Debra said...

Let's be a little "schizophrenic" here (HATE that word, it is SO stupid, and so STROUMPH that it doesn't even mean anything anymore...), and talk about WHY we have to SIGN anything to become ANYTHING hey, Cotton, I'm DISAPPOINTED in you because that is just so unbelievably CONTRACT MENTALITY, and take it from a sudden fan of Rousseau, CONTRACT MENTALITY is flushing itself down the toilet.
(I don't know Rousseau all that well, hey it just suddenly occurred to me that he is the author of the "contrat social", but he was an incredibly contradictory man you know, so I will try to have my cake and eat it too, thus imperviously discounting centuries of human wisdom...)
And Cotton, I thought that Romanesco was a form of cabbage, not broccoli, but then, broccoli is in the cabbage family, isn't it anyway ?
As for President Brie...
GOD you guys will be WASTING YOUR $$$$$$$ if you throw them away on that SHIT.
You could probably try making your own as Cotton is going to attempt. (Photos, please, Cotton, if you try)
I have heard tell of people smuggling FOOD like this into the mother country (saucisson gives hysterics to border guards, because it is "raw" (not really, but they think so) in tampax containers, for example.
But somehow I don't see you guys getting away with it...

Thai said...

@Dink re:depravity.

Words change meaning over the years.

Further, like all ideologies, there always arises those trying to prove superior "purity" to doctrine adherence- hence we see the legion of modern food purists (think "raw vegan", etc...) or extreme political ideologues such as Timothy McVeigh, etc...

I tend to put depravity in the category of "no pain, no gain".

But of course it always your own choice on how you want to interpret it. Obviously true puritans eventually took it to mean Christmas should be made officially illegal throughout New England until 1680 (and the kept it unofficially illegal until as late as the mid 1800s in some parts).

Word meaning always evolves over time, as Cotton remind us re: supreme court and the endless battle over over whether our constitution is a living document or not- which all but an idiot would recognize it clearly is.

Debra said...

Thai, one "little" comment on the Constitution, living or not...
If you open up Deuteronomy and start looking at the way Jewish law sees its texts, then you will invariably stumble over the "commandment" to not change ONE comma in the written text.
Of course, Deuteronomy is a Biblical (i.e. RELIGIOUS) text, right ?
Is the Constitution supposed to be a religious text or not ?
Isn't there always the possibility of "religious" whenever something is written down ? Aren't the two inseparable ?
In the knock down drag out that opposes "neoconservatives" and "liberals", almost everybody I have ever read seems to totally ignore the absolutely fundamental question of the nature of reading and interpreting written documents. There are different angles on it, you know... Depends on where you're coming from.
And make no mistake about it. These questions are essential metaphysical ones. It's not because Western society thinks that philosophy is worth diddly shit and has thus deprived itself of useful "tools" to examine human questions that are timeless that these questions magically go away.
They are just more difficult to get a handle on because we are SO SO IGNORANT, that's all...

Cottonbloggin said...


Were I to write "this is a living document subject to any and all future revision" at the top of the constitution, would it still be an "ESSENTIAL metaphysical" question whether or not it was a living document?

SS said...


I'm not sure how many of you are aware of it but the French are at their 6th Republican Constitution since the revolution. Talk about embracing change, that's the way to do it!


Dink said...

@ CB,
"fifth image to the right is Romanesco BROCCOLI"

That is seriously cool vegetation.

@ Thai,
So "deprive" and "depravity" are related terms. I hadn't realized that. Anyone know the etymology of the would "suffer"? (I don't, I will google later if you don't know). I was surprised when I learned that "passion" meant suffer (old Catholic passion plays, etc). Then I heard that Buddhist saying that "life is desire and desire is suffering". Transcedance is cool and all, but at some point you have to stop due to thermodynamic metabolic needs.

@ SS,

Do you see my rambling above? Ridiculous! You now have the power to post to move us along from such ravings;)

@ Debra,
"Western society thinks that philosophy is worth diddly "

I dunno. Maybe in the West we're oversaturated with more data and emotion than we were evolved to handle(coming to the rest of the globe real soon) so we tune out in self-defense. A link I saw recently suggested that autism may be a lack of normal info filtering. So autistics are just bombarded; sensory overload. An "amplified world" the speaker said. So the autistics have to dramatically retreat to get some peace in the noise. Maybe the US ought to mandate each citizen meditate in an empty, quiet room for 30 minutes each day...

SS said...

@ Dink

Actually I enjoy your posts. We have the most intellectual site on the web at Street Rat Crazy Saloon.

I e-mailed you a blog-post on Socialist Education. Hope you got it. Feel free to use it.


SS said...


Actually I do hope everybody can contribute to the lead blog posts, they and the discussions will be that much more interesting. Take some time to compose your contribution as they are the showpieces of the site and will hopefully guide its direction.

@ Dink

Have you been approached by advertisers yet? Given this is now the intellectual epi-center of the web I foresee a lot of interest. Advertisers like President's Camembert & Brie - "Made With American Tastes in Mind", The Anti Defamations League or Yarmulka's Are Us, and Trojan seem like good candidates given the prior topics.



Thai said...

Dink, thanks, you are correct and my careless error. I should have said "deprivation" (not sure why I didn't notice the difference till now).

Remember, it is my version of Puritanism and deprivation is so much more pleasant than depravity. I still get Christmas trees and Burning Man. (Depravity was the in original version, I changed the lyrics to my own tastes). ;-)

SS- Don't forget adds for Che Guevara T-shirts on a floral fractal background with inscribed lyrics to The Internationale on the back

Thai said...

@Deb re: ignorant and interpretations.


But that and a cappuccino is still only worth a cappuccino. ;-)

Thai said...

Oh, and Cotton.

Signing a document means nothing.

Haven't you ever changed your mind?

Debra said...

Sorry SS, this thread is just too much fun to resist.
Depravity/deprivation ?
Like the difference between le Marquis de Sade and...
I'm thinking, I'm thinking... Oliver Twist ?
Depravity is so much
Who wants to be a victim ?
Well, I for one definitely noticed all those Christian roots to suffering and passion. They are VERY IMPORTANT, specially since we STILL live in a society oh so influenced by Judeo-Christian ideologies.
Shhhh, dink, the oracular shrink SPEAKS... :
I don't BELIEVE IN autism.
I think it's just another...WORD that we have concocted to blow our minds.
As for attention deficit, when was the last time YOU hung out at the shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon before Mother's Day ?
See what I mean about attention deficit, and not being able to tune out overstimulation ?
I think that autists are sensitive (not oversensitive) people whose minds have not been dulled down by mindless video games, or seeing 20 people wearing the same Che Guevera T-Shirt at one whack.
That would boggle any SANE person's mind...

Thai said...

Deb, I was kind of thinking along the same lines. Here Marcus finally gets his chance to utterly humiliate me and he is no where to be found.

Ah, the irony!

PS- Though it is probably too much to ask, don't help him out ;-)

re: autism. It often manifests at age 3. You know it is way more complex than a messed up society.

Dink said...

@ Deb,

"I don't BELIEVE IN autism"

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. But it does remind me of a couple of stories from psych classes nearly 20 years ago.

1) An "Abnormal Psych" prof was describing the mania side of manic-depression. A student raises his hand and says that mania sounds like a healthy state of being, what with the energy and high self-esteem. The prof explains that its self-destructive joy where you don't sleep for days, empty your bank account, run for president, and make ill-advised romantic liasons. And the student answers something like "But that's awesome!".

2)A different prof was describing Prozac (which was fairly new to the market at the time). A student raises his hand to say that "a friend of his took Prozac and LSD at the same time and had a really scary trip". The prof calmly explains "I suspect that had to do with the LSD really".

@ Mr. Depravity,
"Che Guevara T-shirts on a floral fractal background with inscribed lyrics to The Internationale on the back"

But that's awesome!

Debra said...

Thai, re autism.
I think that everyone basically underestimates just how sophisticated our children ALREADY are at birth, and how much they have already absorbed of our mindsets when they are teeny tiny.
I think of human society more and more as a kind of...
school of fish.
Not very flattering to our individualist perceptions of ourselves, huh ?
But the NUMBERS OF US, Thai.
We have become like a giga school of fish, with numbers like that..

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits