Notes On The Collapse

Abrams To Ukraine: Pros and Cons

(photo courtesy defense.gov)

There are general arguments with respect to whether the United States ought to be supplying Ukraine with weapons of war during their present conflict with Russia. Moral purists will even argue, and not without justification, that a proverbially free democracy like the U.S.A. should not be in the business of weapons supply at all, even with close allies. Libertarians say that it’s unreasonable to engage in any overseas warfare whatsoever for any reason but self defense. Finally, there are specific objections to permitting the Abrams to be deployed on any modern battlefield where the vital interests of the United States are not at issue.

Much of this can be simplified to the single question: Does the United States have any reason at all for involvement with the Ukraine war?

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What is it to be “Woke”?

Not long ago, I read a piece in Forbes advising white people to stop using the word “woke”, since to do so is an act of cultural appropriation. I could hardly have been more amazed. To think that a concept espoused by Diogenes and Socrates, the Golden Dawn, and the whole school of the Stoics could become the sole property of members of the unwilling African diaspora beggars belief. And yet, the writer, evidently well-educated, seemed completely sincere.

And so the question naturally arises: What is it to be “Woke”?

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$3.50?! Let’s Shoot For Ten!

EDITORIAL

Just in time for every domestic air flight to get canceled or delayed, we now have gas prices dropping below $3.50. You may think this is a good thing. I do not.

A while ago, I wrote about the glories of $10 gas, and a lot of you didn’t take me seriously. Well, you asked, and I’m answering: $10 a gallon is an idea whose time has come. Here’s some facts to back me up:

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Truth To Power

“Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it”.

Elon Musk, paraphrasing Plato

Even his worst detractors, if they’re being honest, are forced to grant that Elon Musk has a certain genius for problem-solving. In truth, he has a brilliant mind, enormous energy, and is possessed of grand visions for the future. Along with this come a host of flaws; who among us is not human?

His statement on power is subtly incorrect. I fully understand he’ll never read it; my signal here is buried in the noise. Who has the time to read 50,000+ replies anyway? But it’s important that the truth about power isn’t misrepresented without explanation.

Besides: YOU are reading, and that’s enough.

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ChatGPT: Brilliant, Dangerous… Or Both?

The world has been amazed of late by the advances shown in human-taught artificial intelligence that resulted in ChatGPT. For those few of you still unaware, it is a seamlessly interactive virtual assistant capable of near-perfect responses. It can interact conversationally, using the same questions and responses we would see from a reasonably intelligent human; from such prompts, it is capable of followup, discovering some of its own errors, and even challenging incorrect input.

The advances are astounding, the potential even more so — not merely for this application, but for the sister app InstructGPT and the architecture behind it. And yet, there are those who would warn us rather of its dangers, and of a humanity that is not yet ready for the tools becoming available.

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Merchant of Death Exchanged

This week’s prisoner exchange with Russia saw notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout swapped to Russia for WNBA star Brittney Griner. Bout was arrested for attempting to supply Colombian FARC terrorists with antiaircraft missiles, millions of rounds of ammunition, and modern military weaponry, and has since served eleven years in a federal prison; Griner was caught with two empty vape canisters which held traces of cannabis oil and was imprisoned in a penal colony for four months of a nine year sentence following her August conviction.

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Election Update Explainer: Senate

There’s a lot of loose gossip going around about the slow vote counts that are delaying the final results in the Senate. Most of the conspiracy theories are patently false; there’s no reason to expect malfeasance anywhere, but for different reasons in each state. Having said that, there’s always the possibility of a challenge that would impact the final results regardless of the cause or the truth of any given conspiracy theory. The eventual determination, however, is always definitive for Senate races.

Let’s look at things state by state:

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Voting Against

Some of my friends have been asking people to not vote, as a protest against the corrupt system. It won’t work.

Don’t misunderstand me: I agree that the system is corrupt. Elections are regularly fixed — NOT, as the conspiracy theorists would suggest, by stuffed ballot boxes and voter farming, but rather by the simpler method of limiting the pool of candidates to those Wall Street and the Establishment would find acceptable. We have a choice between terrible and worse.

Which is why I intend to vote against.

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