Autobiography

The vast majority of humanity–imagine every person who has come into and passed out of existence–will never write an autobiography. Not for wont of literacy, not because their lives are boring, but for one reason only. They are _ashamed_. We are terrified to tell the truth, choosing in its place–desperately, at all turns–a convenient narrative.

Not that we are capable of telling anything close to the truth about ourselves–we are our own worst critics. Rather, we are embarrassed to even try. This is absurd. What is there to be ashamed of? We are born, we live, we will die. What advantage is gained by dissemblance or silence? Are we worried about the stories others will tell about us? Why do we take comfort in the knowledge that those stories will be lies? This is a kind of insanity.

Permanent Record

I’m only 62 pages into Snowden’s book, enough to hate the self-adulation at almost every turn. Nevertheless, he’s right. You should always let people underestimate you.

Ironically, as much as I dislike his style, it is precisely his love of–and deep understanding of–literature, that sets him apart from too many computer scientists. He understands how not to think in binary.

The internet is not only bigger than, but the opposite of, hashtags and likes. Host your own site and link to those you love. This is the definition of canon–not what a committee, council or company decrees. Rather, what _endures_, what we freely _preserve_.

¬2A.1

If Kropotkin is right, and I believe he is, there is a limit to freedom in the thin, misunderstood Darwinian (and Hobbesian) sense. It is not a right to wantonly kill your fellow man–no species ever has or would survive like that.

The irony is that we, in the American context, see it as precisely that. No limits to weaponry. Each man should have access to the most powerful device. This secures mutual deterrence and safety.

Until the day one–and by definition, only one–person, with access to the most powerful weapon, or at least one more powerful than those around him, decides to use it, thus ending the lives of those who also had access but chose not to use it preemptively against their neighbors, the fellow members of their species.

The flaw with the second amendment is its premise. Man does not have the right to bear arms. He takes up arms to attack those who are weaker, to oppress and control them. This is not a right any species would accept and survive. Few people have the courage to fight with their bare hands, and rightly so. We are under no obligation to make it easier for them to take another’s life, especially not simply by pulling a trigger, or pushing a button.

¬2A

There is no right to bear arms. You take them up at your peril.


A right is an abstract concept, granted neither by a god or law of nature but other men. Should you take up a weapon they deem too dangerous they are right to take it from you, or take your life, whichever you choose.

I’m reading a 1977 MIT dissertation on Non-Discretionary Access Control for Decentralized Computing Systems. As much as I loathe any binary model of language, I was struck by his brilliant insight into the nature of communication in terms of read vs read/write. It is one thing for processes to execute read only commands on a database, in which the rules for success can be defined ahead of time. It is another for processes to communicate with other processes. Any message requires a response, a confirmation, which requires write access on the part of the other.

Even you, computers, are based on _trust_?

Every moment of every day is a battle to be present. Why is it so hard to accept things as they are instead of looking behind and beyond them?

On desks

One of my earliest memories of happiness is my childhood desk. It was whatever the IKEA version would have been back in the early 80’s, complete with a unit containing three shelves that attached to the back. I loved sitting at it, arranging the books and boom box as well as the contents of the drawers. It was a place where things were organized and _ready_. I’m not sure I ever accomplished much beyond that, though.

Here I am forty years later at a desk I made by hand doing exactly the same thing, with the same joy, accomplishing just as little. Perhaps my calling is system administration after all.