Blaming the victim

Blaming the victimA few days ago, French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed. The decent part of French society condemned the terrorist attack and offered its help. Even Prime Minister François Fillon, who is politically diametrically opposed to the journal, had some nice words of support.

The picture should be very clear: we have on the one side a legitimate press organization doing its job, freely expressing opinions and thoughts. On the other hand, we have despicable terrorists who are trying to silence people through violence and fear. I for one stand with the press, against the terrorists. Sounds easy, right?

Well, apparently not. Some people got confused as to who the bad guys were. In an astounding move, a blogger at Time Magazine had these words for the journal:

do you stillthink the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring […]

not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy.

How can someone who poses as a journalist even say that? What's this guy's problem? What are we supposed to do? Let the terrorists tell us how we should live and what we're allowed to say or not say? I usually avoid swearing on these pages, but the only thing I feel like saying is: "fuck you, Bruce Crumley, you are a disgrace to your profession."

I really can't stand this revolting habit of blaming the victim. In the same way that a woman has a right to dress any way she wants without legitimizing one bit a rapist's horrendous crime, a journalist has a right to publish any opinion he holds without legitimizing any form of violence against him.

Let's also not lose sight of what Charlie Hebdo was making fun of. The "attack" (graphic and verbal, which is different from physical violence by the way) was blasphemy, which is a victimless crime. It is a foundation of our societies that we respect people more than ideas. The ideas that people should submit to a tyrant in the sky, that you can never get out of his grip under penalty of death, that little girls should be mutilated lest they later enjoy sex, or that women are worth less than men, those ideas are revolting and deserve no respect. What they deserve is precisely what Charlie Hebdo delivered: ridicule and spite.

Speaking of which:


Collaboration vs. Competition: why our Future is Open Source

Fig. 135Two Neanderthals need a bow and some arrows. Grrmt can build a bow in 5 hours and arrows in 4 hours. Aaaargl can build a bow in 2 hours and arrows in 3 hours. Thus, in order to build what they need, Grrmt will take 5+ 4 = 9 hours, and Aaaargl will take 2 + 3 = 5  hours. 14 hours total will be spent by the both of them.

Now what happens if our primitive friends talk to each other, specialize in what they do best, and trade? Something extraordinary. Aaaargl should have no interest doing that, as he's faster than Grrmt in everything, right? Right?

Wrong. If they each specialize on what they do best, Grrmt will have to build two sets of arrows in 8 hours, and Aaaargl will have to build two bows in 4 hours. Grrmt and Aaaargl both saved one hour. Both of them, even "faster at everything" Grrmt, because he was allowed to focus on what he's fastest at being faster.

If they compete, Grrmt and Aaaargl both lose. If they collaborate with each other, they both win. Competition can be detrimental to everyone? Who would have known? And this is without even taking into account that by specializing, one naturally gets better, and one can industrialize processes.

Of course, competition comes with its own dynamics of supply and demand that we've all been taught. But is competition really beneficial and stable? The supplier's interest is in the prices being as high as possible. He can achieve that by organizing scarcity. But how does he organize scarcity if he's competing in a free market? Why, by eliminating competition and becoming a monopoly of course... In other words, we have one agent in each transaction whose best interest is to eliminate competition, and the other whose interest is to maximize competition but that has practically no means of doing that, except for the collective control of governmental anti-trust laws. If left to evolve on its own, a competitive system spontaneously decays into the elimination of competition.

Every single year that I've attended the Microsoft company meeting, I've seen Ballmer jumping around the stage and getting borderline hysterical about being number one of this, becoming number one of that, and generally poo-poo-ing the competition. It's only natural: suppliers want to become monopolies, they want to control the market so that they can impose their prices.

Now look at a farmer's market. Do the cheese sellers there want to crush each other and dominate the world market of Gouda? Most of them don't, but they still do fine because they act locally, without excessive greed and in a collaborative environment. In this sense, it's not between the cathedral and the bazaar that there is a contention, it's between the bazaar and Wal-Mart.

One often talks about "competitive advantage". But there is also a collaborative advantage! Competition makes losers, that's inevitable, but collaboration makes it possible for everybody to win.

Open Source, by its very nature, is the ultimate collaborative mechanism. It eliminates competition, not by crushing it, but by replacing it with sharing and emulation. It makes sure that there is always a way out of monopolistic situations. It replaces the advantage of exclusive assets with the advantage of know-how.

Above all, it replaces top-down innovation with network innovation. What we are finding out is that many connected small structures are often better at innovating than a few big ones.

If Apple comes up with something brilliantly designed (as it often does), Microsoft's first reaction is fear, and then it is to move a few hundred engineers to the project of reproducing and improving on the idea, which usually takes at least two years, and gives mixed results. This is a reactive, sluggish and inefficient approach to innovation.

In Open Source, when a new innovation appears, it's never met with fear but rather with enthusiasm. Reactions vary from "wow, that's neat, and it solves my problem exactly, I'll just use it" to "wait a minute, that gives me a great idea". When an improvement is made, it's contributed back, and everybody wins. It's a much saner, productive and efficient way to innovate.

Of course, Open Source has its lot of problems, but it's nothing that good engineers can't work with.

It started with software, but it's spreading fast. The Maker and Open Source Hardware movement are another step, but we also see forms of crowd sourcing appearing everywhere in society: health, news, literature, encyclopedias, science have already jumped on that train. but I think there is another domain where this wind of freedom and collaboration must spread, and that is democracy. I don't expect that to appear first in the old Western democracies, but rather in all those countries that are awakening from the deep nightmare of dictatorship, and where everything remains to be invented.


That thing about contingency

AquinasOne version of the cosmological argument relies, among other assumptions, on the following:

Every contingent being has a cause.

Leaving aside the necessity of defining what we mean by "cause", and of explaining how such an inductive statement could reasonably apply to a unique object such as the universe, I want to focus in this post on the concept of contingency.

How do we know that anything is contingent? How do we know that anything could have turned out to be different?

Like free will, contingency is useful, and even essential to our human experience. The idea that we can make choices, and that these choices may result in different outcomes is how we survived and evolved. Without it, the notion of probability seems to become absurd, and human experience seems to lose its meaning. This is in itself an interesting discussion, but what we would like or perceive reality to be is not what determines it.

As far as we know, and given the laws of physics as we know them, if we know the state of a system at a given time, we can in principle derive its state at all times. There is no room for contingency, except for those so-called initial conditions. I'm saying "so-called" because those are only initial if one extrapolates to the future: if one extrapolates to the past, those conditions are final rather than initial. Even in quantum mechanics, the wave function is deterministic, and the wave function might be all there is.

In light of this, we are left to wonder how contingent those initial conditions and the laws of physics can be. Many scientists, until the end of the 20th century, thought we would eventually be able to understand why the physical constants have the values they have. Today, more and more are agreeing with Leonard Susskind that we might never know because there is nothing to know.

Does this mean that science now points to a contingent universe after all? Not at all. In fact, it's quite the reverse: the idea of a multiverse, which comes out quite naturally of string theory and inflation, indicates that the physical constants are only locally constant, and that there is a landscape of universes where all the possible values can be taken. Locally, within a universe, all that can be seen looks contingent or arbitrary, but the whole landscape possibly contains all that is possible. This is similar to the idea that the solutions to a symmetrical problem may not be symmetrical, but the set of solutions always is.

And here is the interesting idea: if all that is possible by virtue of being consistent exists, contingency disappears. This constitutes a unification between the sort of necessary existence that mathematical entities enjoy (the only kind of necessary existence that we know for sure is valid, by the way), and empirical, "contingent" existence.

Of course, this all doesn't seem falsifiable, and it probably isn't. But here is my point: the mere possibility that contingency might not actually exist is enough to kill the premise of a cosmological argument for god that "every contingent being has a cause". In order to use that premise, you first have to prove that there are contingent beings, and that may end up being a lot more difficult than one may have thought at first. And that is the problem with most of metaphysics: it holds as self-evident what in subtle ways isn't.


Can God appear in a puff of logic?

Saint AnselmLogic is a tricky thing. Any sound argument must rely on it, but it is easy to build seemingly sound and logical arguments that are still wrong or fail to apply to the real world. Fuzzy or wrong premises, shortcuts in reasoning, as well as plain fallacies such as circular reasoning, are easy to obfuscate, and apologists are kings at this game. It's what they do: take the conclusion they want to reach, and then build the rationalization for it. A prime example of this is the age-old ontological argument for the existence of God, that I will be looking at in details in this post.

The argument is that because we can conceive of a perfect being (defined by the impossibility to improve it), then it must exist for surely existing is better than not existing. Really? We'll see.

But first, let me quote Douglas Adams...

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

What Douglas Adams articulates so brilliantly here is that with badly defined premises and "pure logic", you can prove anything and its opposite, and that therefore you can prove nothing. There is no such thing as a puff of logic of course, as puffs are physical, and logic is mathematical, independent of the physical world, and therefore utterly unable to puff. Of course, I could have quoted Hume and Kant to pretty much the same effect, but this is a lot more fun, isn't it?

To drive the point home, let me paraphrase a reverse formulation of the argument I found in the comments of Ambrose's recent post on the subject:

We can conceive of maximal evil, for which one cannot possibly imagine anything more evil. Surely, it must exist, as something maximally evil would be quite benign if it didn't exist, and would assuredly be more evil if it existed. Therefore, it exists.

Oops. Putting empirical credibility aside, it doesn't look any more or less logically sound than the original argument. So where's the flaw?

What most people call "pure logic" is actually much trickier to define than they may think. I learned that in France a little more than 20 years ago when I was preparing the entry contest for college. One of the students in my class was an orthodox Jew, convinced that the world was 6000 years old, but also a genius, who had already explored Mathematics way farther than any of us. What he taught me was that words are not appropriate to do mathematics. One must be absolutely formal in order to avoid talking nonsense. Here is the example he used, also known as Russel's paradox:

A mathematical set is a pretty simple entity, right? It is defined by its elements. OK, so now consider the set of  non-auto-inclusive sets, defined as the set of all sets that do not contain themselves. Well, that set cannot include itself, by definition, because all its elements are non-auto-inclusive. Therefore, it must include itself since it doesn't.

Uh? Yeah, exactly. Mathematics don't have paradoxes, they only have reductio ad absurdum. This so-called paradox only proves that the naïve concept of set we used here is inconsistent. In particular, the notion of a set of all sets can't be rigorously defined, although an English formulation of it seems to present no challenge. This is known as the naïve set theory, and it had to be replaced by something much more rigorous, which eventually led to a re-foundation of all of Mathematics by the Bourbaki group. This is an eminently modern idea that  Anselm of Canterbury, Kant, Leibniz, Descartes or Plantinga could not possibly have known. We need to apply formal logic in order to determine what in the ontological argument is valid formal logic and what constitutes its premises and hidden assumptions.

Several people have done exactly that with varying success, but the attempt that I find the most interesting consisted in feeding the argument into a computer algorithm that automatically proves mathematical theorems. If that wasn't awesome enough, the good news is that the algorithm not only showed the logical soundness of the argument, it was actually able to simplify it and reduce the assumptions to a single one. The bad news is that this remaining assumption is not trivial. Here it is:

If the conceivable thing than which nothing greater
is conceivable fails to exist, then something greater than it is conceivable.

Makes sense? Suffice it to say that this still needs independent justification that cannot be reduced to formal logic. Back to square one are we? You can still argue one way or the other, but you are outside of the realm of logic doing so, which pretty much means that the argument, while quite subtle and logically sound, is not a complete proof of the existence of God.

Before I conclude this post, I'd like to point out that such attempts to make God appear in a puff of logic are not only doomed logically, they also constitute poor theology (assuming for a second there is such a thing as good theology). For really, doesn't it degrade the idea of God to reduce it to something that can be described and constrained by mathematical expressions? Doesn't that bring him down to the realm of the natural?


Metaphorical? But why?

Dürer: the fall of manMost modern believers interpret their sacred texts as mostly metaphorical. Only the most hard-core fundamentalists maintain that Genesis for example is an accurate historical account of the origin of Humanity.

In order to maintain such a hard stance, they must reject most of what the modern world has to offer, in particular empirical science and its discoveries.

The myth of Adam and Eve as the two ultimate ancestors for the whole of humanity for instance has been destroyed by genetic evidence and by population genetics in general.

It is unfortunately an extremely important myth as without it there is no original sin, and without original sin there is no need for a universal redeemer.

Faced with the evidence, believers resort to a number of techniques to salvage their faith. Some reject empirical science as a whole, some misrepresent the evidence and twist it to fit their pre-established conclusions, and some revise their interpretation of the text by declaring it "metaphorical".

I'm not too interested about the first two, which have willingly moved beyond reason. The third is more intriguing, but I think not much more consistent.

If the god of the Bible exists, he had the power of making the world exactly as it is described in the books he supposedly inspired. Why didn't he then?


I care that everyone can get married

Holy MatrimonyThis post started as a comment on my friend Ambrose's blog but it was getting long enough to justify a post. Check it out for context.

Let's start with this: marriage cannot be defined by the biological prospect of having children, because that would rule out sterile couples and menopausal women. As simple as that.

On adoption, Ambrose said:

"it seems likely that the child raised by a homosexual couple will have at least some issues similar to other children who are raised without a mother or without a father"

What are those issues? Is there evidence of that? Rigorous studies on those problems exist, we don't have to guess.

I'm glad that Ambrose does mention that:

"It is [commitment] not infatuation, not sex, not even children--that is essential to marriage and is also its primary joy."

That I can agree with if we are speaking of marriage in our time and regions, but we should also not forget that in the past, and in many regions of the world, marriage has been and still is mostly arranged and more a matter of business than consensual commitment. But let's pass on that.

Then Ambrose says:

"it must be understood that this is an unbreakable, unquestionable lifetime commitment that no one, not even those who enter into it, can break".

That, I must say, sounds to me like an archaic and patriarchal vision of things. Surely Ambrose would agree that if a woman is routinely beaten by her husband, that marriage should be broken? I agree on the commitment, but I also think that a commitment can only be meaningful if it is consensual and if there is a way out. Otherwise, you have built a prison, not a marriage. At least not a modern one (oh, yes, I do think these concepts must evolve as our understanding of ethics does (and it does)). That does not mean it's subject to the "whims of passion" as Ambrose says. Actually, I find this slightly insulting: I do not remain my wife's partner because we're married. That's backwards. I am married to my wife because we have had and continue to have an adult relationship based on love, trust and shared values. That marriage will last because we don't see an end to these things, not because marriage is sacred. That commitment that Ambrose speaks of is not coming out of nowhere. It's not marriage that is creating it, marriage is only the representation and consequence of it, it existed before.

I would go so far as attributing the higher rate of divorces in the most religious parts of the US to sexual repression (if you can't experiment freely with sex, you are more likely to confuse lust with love), silly notions about contraception and an archaic notion of ownership of women by men that still permeates religious thought (but that I'm not accusing Ambrose of personally, of course).

Back on topic: even if Ambrose was right that marriage is fundamentally a granting of privilege and not a right (and I don't think he is), there exists a right to this privilege, and I don't think any privileges should be granted on anything that does not boil down to merit. He did not show why these privileges should be granted only to some. Gay people can commit to each other and adopt children just as well as, say, a sterile couple.

I also do not share his view that marriage should be translated into quasi-economic terms of cost and benefit to society. The state does guarantee all kind of rights on their own merits (plus it's quite tricky to define the "common good"). Reading the Declaration of Human Rights or the Bill of Rights should convince anyone of that.

Finally, if those civil unions that religious people so generously grant gay people (after having fought them), if those civil unions were enough, why does the gay community still insist that they aren't? Simply because the recognition they provide is not enough, yes.

Looping back to Ambrose's original point, yes, it's about recognition, the recognition that gay people are just as capable of commitment and love as anybody. Anything less is insulting and discriminatory.

Let's not forget that it's also about the happy couple being able to show their commitment to friends and family. We haven't talked about the ceremony and the celebration, but they are essential. You *can* do them with a civil union contract, of course, but it's clearly not the same thing to celebrate the "civil union" of Pierre and Paul or of Susan and Amy as it is to celebrate their marriage. There is a symbol here for which no substitute will do.

There are privileges associated with marriage for sure, but that's only one more reason why it should be a universal right.


More Extreme Close-up

The law of refraction as understood by Ibn SahlThe previous post showed how magnification changes with various lengths of extension tube, using a simple inexpensive fixed focal lens. Today, I want to show how changing other factors can affect your pictures, and for this I'm going to use a much more expensive lens, a 70-200mm telephoto lens.

Here's the maximum magnification we got yesterday with the 50mm lens:

50mm lens with 90mm of tube

Here is the best magnification we can get with the 70-200mm lens without tubes:

200mm focal length, without tube

Now, all photos from now on are with 90mm of tube behind the lens. It's kind of a monster really:

The Monster

With a 200mm focal length and the tubes, here is the closest focus you can get:

70mm with 90mm of tube

Notice the great depth of field. The same lens at 70mm, with the tubes, gives this result:

The lens believes it's shooting at 1.2m

If you find it weird that a shorter focal gives greater magnification, you have to understand that the distance between the lens and the subject needed to be shortened between the two shots. So in effect, you'll get greater magnification for shorter focal lengths, all things being equal, as is confirmed by the 50mm shot at the start of the post.

Now we can play with the manual focus ring of the lens to see if it makes a big difference. All the above shots were made with the ring at 1.2m. The following shot is identical except that the ring is at infinity, and the distance to the subject has been modified accordingly:

As you can see, it makes little difference. The magnification is a little greater by not by much, and depth of field seems to be a little shorter.

Now let's play with one setting that does make a difference: aperture. The following shot is taken at f/4 (the maximum aperture for this lens):


Now here is the exact same shot with f/32:


I really like this, because the depth of field is phenomenal when compared to the previous ones. The photo looks very natural. There is a price to this, though, as very little light is getting to the CCD, because of the very small aperture and the tubes. This is almost pinhole photography. Because of this, I had to pause for 15s to get this shot. Still, worth the result.

Using what we just learned, we can go back to the 50mm lens and try again with its minimal aperture (f/22):

50mm lens with 90mm of tube, at f/22 and 15s pause

Great magnification without the field being so thin that almost no details are in focus, like was the case with the first picture of this post.

Bottom-line: use more tube and a small focal for greater magnification, and use minimal aperture for usable depth of field. Finally, use a tripod as you're going to wait a long time for your shots.


Extreme close-up!

Sir Isaac NewtonMacro lenses are expensive. There is a cheap alternative, though, that can transform a regular lens into a macro lens: extension tubes. Extension tubes are simply hollow tubes that you put between the lens and the body of the camera. Optically inert, they shorten the focal distance and depth of field and bump up magnification, at the price of a loss of light.

An extension tube can be hacked from any tube of the right size but the more comfortable and still affordable option is commercial tubes with electrical contacts. I bought a new set of tubes for $76 last week, in addition to the one I already owned. Having a good set of various lengths enables me to adapt to a wide variety of situations. The neat thing about having a set is that you can combine them to reach amazingly short focal lengths and magnifications:

A series of tubes

To illustrate the effect, I shot the same subject (a Lego minifig) with different lengths of tube and a fixed 50mm lens. Here are the results...

First, here is a shot without an extension tube:

Without a tube

Then, with 13mm of tube:








34mm (13+21):


37mm (13+25):


44mm (13+31):


And finally, all in and diminishing returns with 90mm of tube (13+21+25+31):


In that last shot, the subject is very close to the lens.


The Many Tribes Society

King DavidIf I told you that the emergence of blogs, Twitter and Facebook have changed our societies in more profound ways than we imagine, you’d be justified in telling me that I’m being neither original nor very pertinent. There is certainly something to be said about the amplification effect those services have on self-centeredness and gossip, and how those are sometimes more powerful than the few examples we have of new media spreading freedom, truth and democracy. Still, I think we are seeing the first signs of a profound revolution, one that is remodeling society in a way that is more in tune with our evolutionary origins. One where the notion of tribe makes a comeback, but with a couple of twists.

We all belong to many tribes.

I belong to a small tribe of French people living in the Pacific Northwest. That tribe is defined by geography, friendship and a shared cultural heritage.

I belong to a tribe of godless liberals. This one is also circumscribed by geographical proximity. It values debate, evidence and a certain willingness to show the finger to bigots and conservatives. It is brought closer together by what we perceive to be the radicalization of the USA towards religious conservatism.

I belong to the tribe of my family. This one is defined by genetics, not at all by geography. Common values are almost non-existent in this tribe, but still it exists.

I belong to the tribe that is building an open-source content management platform with Microsoft. Work, a commitment to open software and some ideas around software design are what keeps us together.

I belong to the tribe of people I follow and people who follow me on Twitter. The only thing these people have in common is... me.

This last example is troubling: the borders of this community are well-defined but still it seems fuzzy, because it is just one in a cloud of many millions of others like it. Nothing about it is particularly extraordinary or interesting: it is only valuable as a part of a complex network of similar entities.

To understand why this is new and worth noticing, we need to take ourselves back in time to the society of our parents or grandparents, the society of nations, the centralized hierarchical society. Every aspect of public life was then structured as a tree, with a supreme authority on top.  Government is most obviously an example of that. Whether our ancestors lived in a theocracy, a monarchy or a democracy, there was an authority on top, and everybody else spread in a pyramid of authority beneath it. Democracy’s saving grace is that it allows people on the bottom to choose who’s on top, but the structure remains essentially unchanged.

Hierarchical models are being challenged today by the idea that a network is more efficient that a pyramid. By the idea that talent, ideas and leadership can emerge from any point in the network and maybe also the thought that no authority should be permanent.

Beyond this, what interests me in blogs, Twitter and Facebook is that they leverage a powerful instinct of our kind: tribalism. Instead of bringing a small group of primates together around a dominant male and against neighboring tribes, like tribes of old were doing, they make us all the patriarchs and matriarchs of our own local tribe. In such a model, there are no frontiers, no wars to wage: the limits of your personal kingdom overlap those of everyone else’s around you. There is a continuum of tribes that now covers the world (or at least, the industrialized world).

That brings us to the second fundamental change: connectedness. Bacon’s six degrees of separation have become a cliché, but they are also outdated. They have very much become no degrees of separation. I can now have a direct connection –if one-directional– to all the living people that I admire. That rich connectedness is far from meaningless. In the same way that our brains use local and global connections to function, there is a fundamentally new society that can emerge from social networks that feature both local and global connections. It takes only a few hours for a brilliant idea to conquer the world today.

Think about that: a few centuries ago, when no global communication existed, an idea had to spread organically in concentric circles, and was often stopped by geographical constraints (seas, mountains), or political ones (frontiers, confessions). That’s a most inefficient system.

Then with the sort of global hierarchical societies that were characteristic of our more recent history, ideas had to make their way to the top from the branch where they emerged, before trickling down from there to the other branches. In this configuration the reach of your idea is determined by how far up you can take it. This model gives a disproportional amount of power to authorities, as they can whimsically stop anything in its tracks.

In a networked society, ideas start locally and spread globally. They seduce nearest neighbors first, then get picked up by more distant nodes that start spreading them in their own neighborhoods, and this repeats until it dies down or it has covered the whole world, which happens with exponential acceleration instead of a linear pace.

There is a selection mechanism at play here, that amplifies some signals and dampens down others. It’s not just dumb transmission of a signal, unchanged. The signal is modified and reformulated as it moves. When it’s factual news being communicated, that’s a problem (a.k.a. the grapevine). But when it’s a concept, a pure idea, something marvelous happens: the concept can be enriched by each person it transits through. It can adapt to new environments. That is an essential difference with, say, genetic information, for which the substrate is purely mechanical. Because the substrate of ideas is brains, they can get smarter as they gather the thinking power of hundreds along its path, instead of having to wait for random mutations.

This is why I don’t believe in the old concept of intellectual property anymore. What ideas we have we should share freely with our tribe. Think local. Don’t attempt to bastardize your thoughts by attempting to make them universal. Know you can count on the rest of the network to adopt the good ones, massage them and adapt them to their needs. For that to work, we need to let go of ownership and accept to give and receive. Open Source software and hardware is of course in perfect tune with this worldview. As is scientific thought.

Today you need to think locally if you are going to have global reach. Centralized, feudal systems are but the remnants of old societies that should lose pertinence over the next few decades.

Even democracy should reinvent itself to adapt to these lighter-weight and decentralized networks. Rules and decisions could one day be made within diffuse entities that bear little resemblance to the political structures of today that were determined in a large part by the arbitrary rules of geography.

That’s what I hope for.


Left behind

The RaptureThe date and time have come and gone and you are still here. As we are waiting for the rationalization from Harold Camping, it is time to ponder what this means for you. A few possibilities:

  • You are not a True Christian. You should probably enjoy life while you still can.
  • Rapture is postponed to another date. Redo Harold Camping's calculations and prepare new signs for whatever date you come up with.
  • The whole thing was the crazy ravings of a religious nut. What else could turn out to be a house of cards built on extremely bad premises without any regard for reality?