Anorak | Julian Assange’s Interesting Question: Read Wikileak’s Founder’s IQ.Org Musings

Julian Assange’s Interesting Question: Read Wikileak’s Founder’s IQ.Org Musings

by | 30th, November 2010

JULIAN ASSANGE and his Wikileaks are big news. But what was he writing about before he hit the big time? His site of 2006 was called, humbly, It stands for Interesting Question. We call them the Assange Cables and the highlights appear below. It’s like Adrian Mole discovered the web after an A-level course in sociology and Hunter S Thompson:

Wed 29 Aug 2007 : Iirrationality in argument

The truth is not found on the page, but is a wayward sprite that bursts forth from the readers mind for reasons of its own. I once thought that the Truth was a set comprised of all the things that were true, and the big truth could be obtained by taking all its component propositions and evaluating them until nothing remained. I would approach my rhetorical battles as a logical reductionist, tearing down, atomizing, proving, disproving, discarding falsehoods and reassembling truths until the Truth was pure, golden and unarguable. But then, when truth matters most, when truth is the agent of freedom, I stood before Justice and with truth, lost freedom.

Sat 16 Jun 2007 : Everyone and no one wants to save the world

People try to fool themselves and others into believing that one can “think globally and act locally’, however to anyone with a sense of proportion (not most people, btw) thinking globaly makes acting locally seem to be a marginal activity. It’s not setting the world to rights.

To meaningfully interact with the world, you have to either constrain your perception of what it is back to valley proportions by eschewing all global information (most of us here have engaged on just the opposite course which is what has provoked this discussion), losing your sense of perspective, or start seriously engaging with the modern perception of the world.

Sat 09 Jun 2007 : The United what of America?

These large multinationals, despite having a GDP and population comparable to Belgium, Denmark or New Zealand have nothing like their quality of civic freedoms. Internally they mirror the most pernicious aspects of the 1960s Soviet. This even more striking when the civilising laws of region the company operates in are weak (e.g West Pupua or South Korea). There one can see the behavior of these new states clearly, unobscured by their surroundings.

If small business and non-profits are eliminated from the US, then what’s left? Some kind of federation of Communist states.

A United Soviet of America.

Tue 13 Mar 2007 : Do electric sheep dream of f16’s?

In the morning, the call to prayer rises from mosque to citadel, the sun lights the haze into a furnace, glowing and aglow, casting long golden shadows into dusty streets, where swallows swoop on blinking gendarmes, while above them young girls water roof top sheep and pigeon boys climb their hutches to wave great checkered flags at distant points in the sky.

Wed 03 Jan 2007 : The Australian lagoon

Australia is a lagoon in a sea of english which, having no translation tarrif, washes over us, sweeps our new thoughts away and blends into those that remain, until we no longer know whose thoughts we are.

Sun 31 Dec 2006 : The non linear effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance

You may want to read The Road to Hanoi or Conspiracy as Governance ; an obscure motivational document, almost useless in light of its decontextualization and perhaps even then. But if you read this latter document while thinking about how different structures of power are differentially affected by leaks (the defection of the inner to the outer) its motivations may become clearer.

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Will edit this later. But in the pursuit of truth, here’s the whole thing:

Mon 26 Feb 2007 : Decisions made by a group reflect its membership
Insofar as our decisions are an expression of who we are, we must make sure that we do not lack courage. Insofar as we want a full range of intellectual opinions, we must have the courage to accept the full range of emotional inclinations that lay behind them.
Mon 26 Feb 2007 : Average shy intellectuals
X is an “average shy intellectual” and in that is a sounding for characters of his type. This type is often of a noble heart, wilted by fear of conflict with authority. The power of their intellect and noble instincts may lead them to a courageous position, where they see the need to take up arms, but their instinctive fear of authority then motivates them to find rationalizations to avoid conflict.
Mon 26 Feb 2007 : Carbon offsetting
Green house legislation is the distillation of political forces marshaled by science, economic foresight, activism, paranoia, the desire for change, leadership, sycophantalism, pleasure in moral whipping, settling scores, conservatism and those psychological forces which drive them. But in some countries we may accept the legislation as a given and turn our eyes the phenomena which flows from it but whose path to the sea is not yet clear:
In order to understand carbon offsetting we must first agree on what we accept for the sake of the argument. Here is a guess:
1. global warming is a problem
2. atmospheric CO2 significantly contributes to gobal warming
3. a reduction in increase of atmospheric CO2 now significantly reduces the effects of global warming in a meaningful time frame
4. atmospheric CO2 levels are substantially under human control
5. of the CO2 production under human control a significant quantity comes from human enterprize
6. reducing CO2 production is a cost effective means of addressing global warming relative to other means
I’m not sure I buy 6. but whatever. We are now tasked to reduce human emissions of CO2 although X may claim that there’s a 7. lurking the continued moral fibre of individuals in the body politic. That’s a more difficult question, which calls from great sympathy, but let us first work with what we can see clearly.
We have only two questions (a) is carbon offsetting effective? and (b) is it efficient compared to the alternatives?
Carbon offsetting by corporations is not motivated by moral considerations. It is motivated by legislation or self-regulation backed up by the threat of legislation.
It is effectively a tax on CO2 production, with the tax money going to industries that soak up carbon.
Now here comes the realpolitik beauty of carbon offsetting. CO2 producers favor it, since compared to outright bans and limits, taxes have greater flexibility and predictability. Hence fearing the whip of pending banning legislation, producers support this tax they would have normally hated. An increasingly powerful industry lobby group is created by those who take CO2 and the middlemen who find them. This lobby group is sees its interest as increasing the carbon transfer tax to the highest levels possible and to ferret our deception by CO2 producers! As an industry, it is a far more stable influence that the vagarities of popular political opinion. Even bureaucrats love it, as they now have their hands in another three industries.
Hence this is an effective real politic way of introducing, sustaining and increasing a cabon tax that would have great difficulties surviving as disconnected tax and grant system.
That answers (a). (b) remains an interesting question, as does what a clever realpolitik solution would look like for funding those alternatives.
If we have a serious problem, we are tasked to re-engineer the world using the best political, psychological and technological tricks we can come up with.
Mon 26 Feb 2007 : The right thing to do
People are motivated to follow happiness and flee from pain. These feelings *exist* to color our memories with our physiology so that we may extract meaning our experiences. It’s a tautology to say that people do what makes them happy despite this, one often sees claims that there exist no altruistic acts, because such actions are the end product of people trying to maximize their happiness. This is to define aultrism out of existence, remove a useful word with which to partition our observations of reality. Instead, we may say that some people’s happiness is bound up with other people’s happiness and these people should be supported because of the obvious common cause with our own feelings.
A weaker form of the conservative argument (not mentioned here) is that a portion of seemly altruistic acts are covers for the fear associated with guilt.
When my eyes see phrases like ‘right thing to do’, ‘appropriate’ etc, I wonder what unstated world view I am meant to share. These phases smell of that unusually putrid whip; social sanction. But every man has experienced social sanction as the direct manifestation of morons baying at the moon, nodding and calling the result consensus.
Here, in Africa, there was a two page fold out on the “Night Runner” plague. Plague? Yes. Of people typically old, who supposedly run around naked at night (remember the population has pitch black African skin tones), tapping on windows, throwing rocks on peoples roofs, snapping twigs, rustling grass, casting spells and getting lynched because it’s “the right thing to do”.
Insofar as we can affect the world, let it be to utterly eliminate guilt and fear as a motivator of man and replace it cell for cell with love for one another and the passion of creation.
Wed 03 Jan 2007 : The Australian lagoon
Australia is a lagoon in a sea of english which, having no translation tarrif, washes over us, sweeps our new thoughts away and blends into those that remain, until we no longer know whose thoughts we are.
Industries can dump pig iron to crush foreign production and they can also dump words. Billions of these ideas, already produced for another english market and having no translation tarrifs or transport costs slither into the country unheeded, stricken local journalists and set their burrows in our brains.
We’re part of the big english world; this is our reality so when we fight, we must fight like kings. When we write about the sea we must write to the sea.
Wed 03 Jan 2007 : Witnessing
Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.
If we have brains or courage, then we are blessed and called on not to frit these qualities away, standing agape at the ideas of others, winning pissing contests, improving the efficiencies of the neocorporate state, or immersing ourselves in obscuranta, but rather to prove the vigor of our talents against the strongest opponents of love we can find.
If we can only live once, then let it be a daring adventure that draws on all our powers. Let it be with similar types whos hearts and heads we may be proud of. Let our grandchildren delight to find the start of our stories in their ears but the endings all around in their wandering eyes.
The whole universe or the structure that perceives it is a worthy opponent, but try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will take great comfort in pottering around in a lab and gently talking to students in the summer evening and will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them.
Wed 03 Jan 2007 : Automated authoritarianism
I’ve always been dubious about PGP’s web-of-collusion and signing-deniability-away, although it’s a lot better than the automated authoritarian’s wet dream that passes for CAs.
I loathe these (“everything which is not explicitly permitted is denied”) security types, whose idea of nirvana is the cyberspace analog to re-writing the laws of physics so it is not possible to shift in your chair without written authority. Behind their keyboards they must make concurrent salutes to the Fuhrer, Baaland Jack Straw.
Sun 31 Dec 2006 : Doing the pentagon poker
All who spend time in the spy world soon come to the view that the rest of the population lives their life in a sea fog as a tiny piece of cork buffeted by a vast ocean of concealed truth. True enough, but economics and scientific progress still dominates the spy world as every black budget bureaucrat finds to their classified horror when budget time arrives and they ‘do the Pentagon poker’.
Sun 31 Dec 2006 : The non linear effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance
You may want to read The Road to Hanoi or Conspiracy as Governance ; an obscure motivational document, almost useless in light of its decontextualization and perhaps even then. But if you read this latter document while thinking about how different structures of power are differentially affected by leaks (the defection of the inner to the outer) its motivations may become clearer.
The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.
Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.
Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.
Sun 24 Dec 2006 : The pending total annihilation of the US regime in Somalia
The US backed Somali “government”, the Somali Transitional National Assembly (TNA), faces total annihilation, avoidable only by an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and the creation of a Quisling regime.
In the past year the TNA has been routed from all regions of Somalia by the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and now holds only Baidoa, a middling town close to the Ethiopian border. The “government” has already lost the capital, Mogadishu. The TNA is a US supported power broker club with many detested warlords, including those behind the 1991 atrocities in Black Hawk Down. Its hold on Baidoa is weak and has only been maintained in the last 24 hours by aggressive Ethiopian air-strikes, artillery and the invasion of 10 to 20 thousand Ethiopian troops. Ethiopia is the traditional, hated enemy of Somalis. Whatever legitimacy the TNA may have had with Somalias is now completely lost. The Molotov-Tribbentrop Pact is statesmanship compared to cynicism behind the TNA inviting Ethiopian troops and artillery into Somalia.
It’s worth pausing to reflect on the high power to wealth ratio of community building islamist movements such as the UIC when operating against well funded US/UN led democracy wagons. It appears the US promise of neocorporatism, i.e better shopping does not move the heart to engage in the cooperation, love and sacrifice demanded by war. The other US promise, democracy, is a difficult abstraction (try drawing it), and like all such abstractions, easily abused by those seeking power for other agendas. It is an alleged means to an end, not an end in itself. There’s no human instinct for democracy.
Consider the US Declaration of Independence (1776), a document which is the distillation of instinctive desires which drove men to war and kept them there. What are these desires?
…God.. Creator.. created equal… Life, Liberty,… pursuit of Happiness.. Safety and Happiness… [followed by 26 paragraphs of hatred for the abuses of King George].
In other words, religious / community feeling (x2), equality, life, liberty, happiness (x2), safety, and above all, an extreme hatred for the brutal acts, preferment, and corruption of foreign influenced or controlled government.
Not once does better shopping or its alleged antecedent democracy appear.
This doesn’t bode well for the Iraqi Provisional Authority or the Somali Transitional National Assembly at least, the British, pontificating and powdered though they may have been, shared the same language and religion.
If the US administration wants to inspire Somalis and others to support its regimes, it’ll have to do better than promises of better shopping and handwaving means into ends.
Sun 24 Dec 2006 : IP over PPP over DNS over IP
In a world with radio waves flowing all around, it should be possible
for people’s thoughts to be as
anonymous as the ether that caresses their skin.

I wrote the following (using ruby and the mDNS library). It’s amusing
and pleasing for wireless travel
or anonymity provided one has a domain name server somewhere. There
are many situations where
DNS is available but not other types of routing (e.g Starbucks).
Works under Unix and OS X.

You can get the code here:

An example:

proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# ls -l crafty.rb
-rw-r–r– 1 proff proff 9106 Sep 20 18:00 crafty.rb
proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# ruby crafty.rb
[1]+ Stopped ruby crafty.rb
proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# bg
[1]+ ruby crafty.rb &
proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# ifconfig ppp0
ppp0: flags=8051 mtu 1500
inet –> netmask 0xff000000
proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# ifconfig ppp1
ppp1: flags=8051 mtu 1500
inet –> netmask 0xff000000
proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# tail /var/log/system.log
Sep 20 18:12:40 proffs-computer pppd[3434]: pppd 2.4.2 (Apple version
233-10) started by proff, uid 0
Sep 20 18:12:40 proffs-computer pppd[3435]: pppd 2.4.2 (Apple version
233-10) started by proff, uid 0
Sep 20 18:12:40 proffs-computer pppd[3434]: Connect: ppp0 <–> /dev/
Sep 20 18:12:40 proffs-computer pppd[3435]: Connect: ppp1 <–> /dev/
Sep 20 18:12:46 proffs-computer pppd[3435]: local IP address
Sep 20 18:12:46 proffs-computer pppd[3435]: remote IP address
Sep 20 18:12:46 proffs-computer pppd[3434]: local IP address
Sep 20 18:12:46 proffs-computer pppd[3434]: remote IP address
proffs-computer:~/crafty/src root# ssh -l proff
Last login: Wed Sep 20 17:58:52 2006 from
Welcome to Intelligent-Design!
proffs-computer:~ proff$ w proff
18:14 up 2 days, 15:13, 6 users, load averages: 0.58 0.28 0.30
proff console Mon03 2days
proff q0 17:56 13 bash
proff q2 18:14 w proff
proffs-computer:~ proff$

It is not documented, optimized, or made user friendly, or multi-
user, but the code should be readable and
if people with ruby or DNS knowledge are interested and wish to
optimize it or otherwise make it smile
then I will assist.

crafty.rb uses my logic suite, which I have
prepended for ease of use.

Wed 20 Dec 2006 : black hawk down, white wash up
Something worth noting about the unusual relative power of community building islamist movements when operating against well funded US led democracy wagons as evidenced by the recent victories of the Somali UIC; the promise of better shopping does not move the heart to the great acts of love or sacrifice required in war. “Democracy” is a difficult abstraction that is easily abused (try drawing it). It is a means to an end, not the end itself. There’s no instinctive desire for democracy. Consider the US Declaration of Independence (1776), a document which is the distillation of psychological forces which drove men to civil war and kept them there. What are those forces?
…God.. Creator.. Men are created equal… Life, Liberty,… pursuit of Happiness.. Safety and Happiness… [followed by 26(!) paragraphs of hatred for the abuses of King George].
In other words, religious feeling (x2), equality, life, liberty, happiness (x2), safety and above all, an extreme hatred for the brutal acts, preferment, and corruption of foreign influenced or controlled government.
Not once does democracy or shopping appear.
This doesn’t bode well for the Iraqi provisional authority at least the British spoke the same language.
Sun 17 Dec 2006 : Freenet
Ian Clark’s Freenet has forums. However, they have zero political impact
because only very highly motivated users can perceive them.
We want to stand and fight AND run and hide, falling back to the
next technical defense only when political defenses are over come.
This requires placing trust in some people. That’s ok. We can engineer
a situation that motivates people, not just machines, to have courage.

Sat 16 Dec 2006 : Technology vs. Psychology
My general feeling is little outright new technology is needed. What is needed is an ability to integrate what already exists with a subtle understanding of what the real, as opposed to perceived political constraints are and this is what some of us have done. A lot of people are attracted to technology because of their relative strengths in understanding spacial relationships compared to psychological relationships. Both types of understanding give them some power over their environment. However, when they become activists, this fear of the projected, but unreal political threats (of which legalities are a subset) lead them to solutions which do not reflect the way people actually behave. Likewise, those people who see everything only through the lens of politics are similarly blinded; since people’s basic make up is invariant, changes in the way they behave arise from changes in physical reality.
Tue 12 Dec 2006 : I.. Q..
I may donate IQ.ORG [now worth $30k] to the WL civic institution if someone can find a good acronym.
Some good words:
Quorum, Question, Quest, Quadrant, Quality, Qualification, Quantum, Quotient, Query, InQuiry… Quasimodo [ok, q’s are hard]
I… Q… [french word order]
I, International, Idea, Ideal, Identify, Integrity, Illusion, Image, Imagination, Immortal, Immaterial, Impartial, Interesting, Impassioned, Impending, Imperial, Impetuous, Institute, Important, Impressive, Impunity, Incite, Inclusive, Incorrigible, Incredible, Identical, Infamous, Infinite, Inform, Ingenous, Initiating, Inner, Institute, Insight, Intelligent, Intention, Inter-, InterQuadrant, InterQuarter, Intra-, Intro-, Intri-, Intuitive, Invariant, Innocent, Invective, Investi-, Iconic, Independent, Irony, Island, In-
I like: Inter-Quadrant, Inter-Quarter, International Quorum/Question, (center for public) inquiry, Infinite Quest.
If there’s a great character from history who’s name begins with I, one can form something like:
Isaac’s Question/Quest (“Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb?” (Genesis 22: 7)) Which is lovely, since the open mind yearns to know what the question is as soon it hears the name, and a biblical character may give christian sanctity (the answer to Isaaic is deeply moving, but the source of the pathos is horror. If we were to front as a Ploughshares style movement this might work).
Isaiah has many questions, of which 6:10 seems to be the most interesting:
Isaiah 6:10-11 “10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they, seeing with their eyes, and hearing with their ears, and understanding with their heart, return, and be healed.’. Then said I: ‘Lord, how long?’ And He answered: ‘Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste.
Tue 12 Dec 2006 : Calibration of feeling
Words have no power to change except when there’s a fork in the road with equally attractive paths.
In your position, I’d take a deep book, a backpack of food and a tent and go walking for three months along or .nz coast. You need to recalibrate your emotions through recalibrating your body. Emotions are body states. The mind can not be strong without strength in its relation to the body. ‘Whatever’ is then quickly answered; wake with the sun, take the next step, eat the next bite and behold people and chairs become a delight. It’s hard for you to see this now, since future visions are colored with present emotional responses. But these emotional responses are just another part of your flesh, built from the integration of your neurons and body. It’s material, stuff, like muscle, constructed from last weeks potatoes and environmental stimulus. You can strengthen your will through overcoming physical hardship.
The natural environment provides man with ready motivational gradients, but civilization has filled them in. Hyper-civilized influences, such as computing, artificial lights, drugs, films, instant food supply, telephones and reading decalibrate by disconnecting behavior and reward and failing to provide the sense data that our biological mental and physical structures have evolved to require.
There’s little difference between a mouse exploring a new maze or a scientist realizing the greatest intellectual act of the age. Both are motivated by the same primitive brain regions that control feelings.
‘The point’ comes when feelings demand it. It can only be rationalized from the axioms of primitive emotion. If these axioms are weak due to decalibration by civilization, ‘the point’ eludes us. If they are strong, we pursue our goals with passion and vigor.
Mon 11 Dec 2006 : Etymology of ‘cad’
Caddie or cadet used to denote the passenger of a horse-coach picked up for personal profit by the driver (i.e placed next to the driver and not in the already booked interior). So a ‘cad’ is a man who picks up women, profits from them, and then leaves them by the road side. ‘Caddie’ or ‘cad-et’, as in the diminutive ‘there goes a cad and his cadette’.
Such romantic etymology is enough to make a man want to don his oilskin and mount his horse with whip and smile at the ready.
Tue 05 Dec 2006 : Self destructing paper
A spy opens an envelope. Inside is a thin sheet of paper with a cryptic message. After it is read the paper spontaneously bursts into flames.
The message is the communicable distillation of your hopes, dreams and imagination. The paper is the internet. The internet is self destructing paper. A place where anything written is soon destroyed by rapacious competition and the only preservation is to forever copy writing from sheet to sheet faster than they can burn.
If it’s worth writing, it’s worth keeping. If it can be kept, it might be worth writing. Would your store your brain in a startup company’s vat? If you store your writing on a 3rd party site like blogger, livejournal or even on your own site, but in the complex format used by blog/wiki software de jour you willlose it forever as soon as hypersonic wings of internet labor flows direct people’s energies elsewhere. For most information published on the internet, perhaps that is not a moment to soon, but how can the muse of originality soar when immolating transience brushes every feather?
Readers have asked what software is used to run IQ.ORG. A mere page of handwritten ruby constructs the site out the most robust future proof storage form imaginable. A flat directory of text or html files. The directory, like any directory can be backed up, edited, emailed, zipped, transported, printed, trapped in amber etc.
A lovely way to create these files remotely is to send email to a mail alias. Add the following to your unix “.forward” file; it will save all email sent to as filed under the name of their subjects. Want to change something? Just mail it in again under the same subject!
# add this code to your .forward+secretname file like so:
# “|/home/me/public_html/”
Dir.chdir(‘public_html/’) # change here to reflect
your site’s directory

s = $
if /^Subject: ([^.\/].+?)\n/m =~ s
subject = $1
f =, “w”)

exec “./index.rb > index.html”
Here is the code that scans the strew files and builds up the html output you see:
# save as index.rb
# puts “” etc here
Dir.chdir strewdir
strews = `ls -t ???*`.map {|name| name.chomp}
strews.each { |name| { |f|
linkname = URI.escape(name.gsub(/ /, ”))

s =
firstline = s.split(/\n/)[0]
if firstline and /^(From |[A-Za-z_-]: )/m =~ firstline
body = s.match(/\n\r?\n/m).post_match
body = s
x = body.scan(/–\{\s(.+?)\s\}–\s/m).join
if x != “”
body = x
if /

|| ||

| |
puts body

 " + body + " 


puts link



strews.each {|name| puts

  • + name + ‘}
    #puts footers here
    That’s it! The raw archive does not even depend on ruby; it’s gold until civilization collapses, the neoluddites take control, or both, but then we will have other adventures to please us…
    Mon 04 Dec 2006 : The Road to Hanoi
    It seems like everyone I meet plans to follow the young Che Guavara, now that seduction of random latinos has been politically sanctified, and take off on their motorbike and adventure through the poverty and pleasures of South and Central America. And who can blame them? But there are other lands to explore.
    Last year I rode my motorcycle from Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) to Hanoi, up the highway that borders the South China Sea.
    On the road to Hanoi something caught my attention and that of every vehicle near me. We had to watch constantly and take action every few seconds or it would have killed us all.
    The road to Hanoi is a Vietnamese economic artery but is nonetheless dominated by potholes, thousands the size of bomb craters. There are constant reminders of “The American War” all over Vietnam, and perhaps this was one of them, but in a more indirect way.
    To a physicist a pothole has an interesting life. It starts out as a few loose stones. As wheels pass over, these stones grind together and against the under surface. Their edges are rounded off and the depression they are in also becomes rounder by their action. The stones become pestles to the hole’s motor. Smaller stones and grit move between the spaces of larger stones and add to the grinding action. The hole enlarges, and deepens. Small stones are soon entirely worn away, but in the process liberate increasingly larger stones from the advancing edge of the hole. The increasing depth and surface capture more and more energy from passing wheels. The destruction of the road surface accelerates until the road is abandoned or the hole is filled.
    Road decay is, like a dental decay, a run away process. Utility rapidly diminishes and costs of repair accelerate, and just like teeth it is more efficient to fill a pothole as soon as it is noticed.
    But this measure of efficiency is not the metric of politics and it is a political feedback process that lays behind the filling in of potholes on almost every road on earth.
    That process is driven by the behavior of politically influential road users who are themselves motivated to action by psychologically negative encounters with potholes.
    When potholes are small, the resulting political pressures are insufficient to overcome the forces of other interests groups who compete for labour and resources. Likewise, it is difficult to motivate people who have other passions and pains in their life to goto the dentist when their teeth do not ache. Both are caused by limitations in knowledge and its distillation: foresight.
    Why is this surprising? It is surprising because we are used to looking at government spending through the lens of economic utility; a lens which claims the political process as a derivative. This vision claims that political forces compete for access to the treasury to further their own utility. Hence, military intelligence and public health compete with road maintenance for funding and so should attempt to minimize the latter’s drain on the treasury. But that drain is minimized by filling in potholes immediately!
    Foresight requires trustworthy information about the current state of the world, cognitive ability to draw predictive inferences and enough economic and political stability to give them a meaningful home. It’s not only in Vietnam where secrecy, malfeasance and unequal access have eaten into the first requirement of foresight (“truth and lots of it”).
    Foresight can produce outcomes that leave all major interests groups better off. Likewise the lack of it, or doing the dumb thing, can harm almost everyone.
    Computer scientists have long had a great phrase for the dependency of foresight on trustworthy information; “garbage in, garbage out”. In intelligence agency oversight we have “The Black Budget blues”, but the phrase is probably most familiar to American readers as “The Fox News Effect”.
    Wed 22 Nov 2006 : State and terrorist conspiracies
    No. Don’t skip to the good stuff. This is the good stuff.
    Wed 22 Nov 2006 : Those eyes

    All the pink ribbons in the world can’t hide them.
    Sun 19 Nov 2006 : Strangers on a train
    “Two strangers, one rich, one poor, were traveling together. One took an immediate dislike to the other, and verbally abused him for the entire trip. When they arrived at their mutual destination, both made their way separately to the same synagogue, where the abusive man was mortified to find that the poor person he had insulted on the road was a guest rabbi. After the service, the man approached the rabbi and begged forgiveness. The rabbi refused.
    ‘But rabbi,’ said the man, ‘Aren’t we required to forgive?’
    The rabbi replied,
    ‘Yes, but I am not the man you insulted. Go apologize to a poor man on a train.'”
    Sun 12 Nov 2006 : The Great Australian Bikini March
    Tue 24 Oct 2006 : The Strawberry
    I was travelling across a golden meadow when I encountered the tiger. I fled, with the tiger close behind.
    Coming to a precipice, I caught hold of a wild vine and swung myself over the edge. The tiger sniffed my scent above.
    Trembling, I looked down to the beach far below and saw a second tiger pacing the sands. Only the vine sustained me.
    Two mice, one black and one white, came out of a crevice and started to gnaw away at the vine.
    I saw a luscious strawberry nearby. Grasping the vine with one hand I picked it with the other. How sweet it tasted!
    [with apologies to Zen]
    Wed 27 Sep 2006 : If you saw
    If you saw two bodies entwirled in the dance
    Bound to each other with effortless grace,
    Joyous, momentous, elliptical grace!
    They whirled through the ether, in delicate spirals,
    For eons they danced, until in the blink
    Of proverbial eyes, one crossed o’er the brink:
    One caught a cancer, and started to brew
    And choke and ferment and splutter and spew,
    Find itself overtaken, cauterised, bled,
    Starved, smothered, covered in rash
    Wheezing away, overheated with fever
    Till it could dance no more, it could not keep step
    As it coughed up its blood, and collapsed in a spasm,
    And cancer descended on dancers romancing
    The universe, and time; and life, in time,
    Till the life turned malignant and tripped up the dance:
    What if you knew that the cancer was you?
    If you saw the people, what cancer can do!
    The children stopped playing, the men downed their tools,
    The young stopped to pause, the old paused to stop,
    The women gave poise, the leaders made noise,
    The rich stopped their feeding, the poor forwent feeling,
    And the followers listened, and the listeners followed,
    The first world woke up, the third world sat down
    And the clouds cleared away, and all of the people
    Not just your people! not just my people! but
    All of the people that ever, and always,
    and now and forever will ever have lived!
    With the ghosts of their parents, their parents and parents,
    Generations stretched back to the dawn of the species
    Thousands and, nay, hundreds thousands years past,
    You could not avoid them, the whole of the family:
    Mothers with children, and fathers with children,
    And wizened old voices, and laughter and stories
    And wisdom and knowledge, and questions and reason
    And passion and folly and crying and love,
    Not just the past, not just hundreds thousands,
    But hundreds of thousands and millions years on!
    Millions years more of those yet to appear,
    Those innocent children yet more as unborn
    In full expectation of their turn to be,
    All your children, my children, their children and children
    Till the end of the sun and the end of all days,
    None was excluded, none were held back,
    Not fascist, nor Nazi, nor Caesar, nor sultan,
    Nor Jew nor gentile, nor emperor nor citizen,
    Nor conqueror nor conquered, nor blackfella nor whitefella,
    Nor good fellow, bad fellow, criminals, generals,
    Nor executives, nor lawmakers, oilmen nor lobbyists,
    Tradesmen nor women, housekeepers, wives,
    Farmers, houseworkers, outworkers, sweatworkers,
    Hunters nor gatherers, slaves nor free men
    Nor free women, landowners, aristocracy, slaves,
    Proletarian, vegetarian, serf nor bourgeois,
    Nor communist nor capitalist nor anarchist nor phalangist,
    Nor futurist, nor traditionalist, mercantilist, imperialist
    Nor faithful nor secular nor agnostic nor heretic
    Nor stoic nor epicurean, neither Catholic nor Protestant,
    Nor Pagan nor Buddhist nor Hindu nor Mormon
    Nor Serb nor Albanian nor Muslim nor Croat,
    Not the Palestinians nor Israel, nor the citizens of Iraq,
    Nor the Syrians, the Koreans, Venezuelans, Iranians,
    Kenyans, Bolivians, Namibians, Nicaraguans
    The kind with the vicious, the healers with murderers,
    The scholars with bigots, the artists with Philistines,
    Don’t let me die, some said! Don’t make me cry, some said!
    I’ll take anything but please not my child!
    Let me have more, some said! Fuck you all, some said!
    Take me whole, some said! Hold me tight, some said!
    Save yourselves, some said! Be ye saved, some said!
    Sieg heil, some said! Fight a war, some said!
    Hold the line, some said! Tow the line, some did.
    But for the most part and for the best part!
    The ordinary people, not -ese and not -ism,
    They stood there and shrugged I’m just a human!
    And spilled over borders, and greeted their neighbours,
    And played with their children, and looked to the future,
    And cared not for great things, but just to continue;
    Not for them all of these overblown trumpets!
    The best part said nothing, and wandered, confused,
    Staggering now, they tottered unsteady,
    As if the earth lurched, besmirched by their industry,
    As if the earth’s spasm had shaken them too,
    Robbed of their pleasantries, certain no more,
    Oh there was more oh there was more!
    To life in this world than cheap petrol prices!
    Again insignificant, floating in space,
    Without direction there’s no up in space!
    Roused from conformity, forced into puberty,
    Silenced by grim revelation of wrongs,
    This planet is only a miniature starship!
    Swiftly reverted to innocence lost,
    So eager to reclaim the goodwill they’d lost!
    All of them! All of them! All of the people
    That ever, and always, and now and forever
    Will ever have been and will ever have lived!
    The whole civilization, pre-civilization,
    Post-civilization, ancient and modern,
    Post-modern to present and all that’s to come,
    Entire human project, evolutionary epic,
    Thirteen thousand million years long in the making,
    In all of their habits, their rituals and fears,
    The whole of the species paraded before you,
    Put on their best faces and virtues and smiles,
    Turned out for the moment, for this one occasion,
    And played, and laughed, and studied, and shook
    Each others hands, and their heads, and remembered nostalgia,
    They crammed on the land mass they jammed all the land mass!
    And Europe grew warm, and Africa thundered,
    And Asia flowed over, and Australia sweltered,
    And America repented, Antarctica melted,
    From the weight of the gathering reunion preunion!
    The party had gathered, the crew had been summoned,
    And filled all the islands with shocks of bright vestments,
    The ship filled with passengers, decks cleared for the crush,
    The siren had sounded, the islands had foundered
    As ships on an orb that, deluged and flooded,
    Threatened to sink those few vessels remaining.
    So stood the humans, so stood the proud
    And the humble, the paragons of animals sometimes!
    Packed on to continents, over the globe!
    The clouds cleared away and the crowds turned away
    From the ground, and looked up, at the skies there above
    Like spokes on a wheel, a luminous wet sphere,
    Like floodlights ascending to heaven from home,
    Like cancerous cells of a terminal tumour,
    Beautiful, innocent, terminal tumour,
    Their eyes pierced the void and looked into the cavity
    To broadcast their tragedy out to the world,
    And half saw the stars, saw an infinite blackness,
    Saw the coldness and loneliness, nebular nothingness,
    Themselves at the helm of a ship in deep space,
    But bound to observe from the terrestrial observatory,
    Observed the distance and gave up on escape!
    Saw the world as it is, there would be no saviour,
    They’d grown how they’d grown! and outgrown their mother,
    Couldn’t quite yet leave home, but yet it was time:
    Grow up now children, stand on your own feet!
    The dreamers still dreamed of a yet better world,
    The couples still kissed and the dispossessed smiled,
    But the lonely found loneliness appeased their loneliness
    As their neighbours all huddled to fight off the chill
    Of the universe they drank, to the meaning of it all!
    And from their huddle, while the void loomed above,
    Declared Brother and Sister!
    if we should survive,
    And, surveying the scene, realising what that meant,
    Then and then they broke off, and left it unsaid
    And again shook their heads, and wept,
    never again!
    The other half saw blue sky, and warmth unseasonable warmth
    And celebrated the day, gave thanks for the day,
    Seized hold of the day and seized hold of the life
    And seized hold of each other, looked out to the blue,
    And wished that it would never end.
    If you saw two bodies entwirled in the dance
    Bound to each other with effortless grace,
    Joyous, momentous, elliptical grace!
    They whirled through the ether, in delicate spirals,
    One was all gold, and one was all blue
    But not yet all blue for marooned in the sea
    Were the islands that founder, with inhabitants that flounder,
    But for you they came out, all of the people
    That ever, and always, and now and forever
    Will ever have been and will ever have lived!
    And you did not see green or brown ‘twixt the seas,
    But all of the people: all of the whole
    Conurbation, the cities, the landscapes of faces,
    All staring out, all through the dance,
    The whole human family, whole human endeavour,
    Staring out, eyes wide open, hopeful and afraid,
    Knew what you’d done, knew that the dancer
    Was slowing and coughing and covered in rash,
    As cancer descended on dancers romancing
    As the vastness descended on all of the people
    Of what they had done to their dear mother earth,
    Pock-marked and bleeding, suffocating and searing,
    You saw all these faces and eyes and bright places,
    The universe, and time, and one poor tragic planet:
    What would you do if the cancer was you?
    And if you could see if you can bear with me!
    If you could see all of the faces before you,
    If you could look into their full expectation,
    Knowing that you were part of the problem,
    Knowing that all of us hurtle to death:
    Personal death, planetary death,
    All of the people yes all of the people!
    And didn’t do nothing, did not stay the course,
    Did not shy away, did not run away,
    There’s nowhere to run from this speck in the universe,
    But helped turn the tide helped them to survive
    Then you, my friend, deserve to be human.
    [ By Daniel Mathews ]
    Tue 26 Sep 2006 : Ajita Kesakambala (early Indian materialism)
    The buddhist text Digha Nikaya (Samannaphala Sutta, the fruits of the contemplative life) has dialogs with six post Upanished radical thinkers who wandered North India around the time of the Buddha’s birth (circa 500 BCE) provoking debate and attracting followers. Of them the most interesting and clearly the most radical is Ajita Kesakambala. Ajita was a contemporary of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddah) with a rival materialistic school. Ajita’s philosophy was atheistic and even denied transmigration. Ajitas acerbic vision probably flowered and was repressed for the same reason; it offered complete mental liberation to those to those enslaved by the kamma yolk of the Brahmin. Since the Digha Nikava is a buddhist text following a long oral tradition it is likely Ajita’s position has been extremised to nihilism inorder to give Buddhism the middle. Indian Buddhism was a radical shift away from Hindu traditions and undermining of Brahmin power, but thanks to Ajita and other radicals still successfully pushed as The Middle Way.
    “Another time I approached Ajita Kesakambala and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings and courtesies, I sat down to one side. As I was sitting there I asked him: ‘Venerable Ajita, there are these common craftsmen…They live off the fruits of their crafts, visible in the here and now…Is it possible, venerable sir, to point out a similar fruit of the contemplative life, visible in there here and now?’ “When this was said, Ajita Kesakambala said to me, ‘Great king, there is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no priests or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves. A person is a composite of four primary elements. At death, the earth (in the body) returns to and merges with the (external) earth-substance. The fire returns to and merges with the external fire-substance. The liquid returns to and merges with the external liquid-substance. The wind returns to and merges with the external wind-substance. The sense-faculties scatter into space. Four men, with the bier as the fifth, carry the corpse. Its eulogies are sounded only as far as the charnel ground. The bones turn pigeon-colored. The offerings end in ashes. Generosity is taught by idiots. The words of those who speak of existence after death are false, empty chatter. With the break-up of the body, the wise and the foolish alike are annihilated, destroyed. They do not exist after death.’ “Thus, when asked about a fruit of the contemplative life, visible here and now, Ajita Kesakambala answered with annihilation. Just as if a person, when asked about a mango, were to answer with a breadfruit; or, when asked about a breadfruit, were to answer with a mango. In the same way, when asked about a fruit of the contemplative life, visible here and now, Ajita Kesakambala answered with annihilation. The thought occurred to me: ‘How can anyone like me think of disparaging a priest or contemplative living in his realm?’ Yet I neither delighted in Ajita Kesakambala’s words nor did I protest against them. Neither delighting nor protesting, I was dissatisfied. Without expressing dissatisfaction, without accepting his teaching, without adopting it, I got up from my seat and left.

    Tue 26 Sep 2006 : The curious world of the querulous
    You quote Dickens, but if one must resort to fictional antecedents of querulous litigants and their courts, then Franz Kafka’s The Trial is surely the book:
    “The Great lawyers?” asked K. “Who are they then? How do you contact them?” “You’ve never heard about them, then?” said the litigant. “There’s hardly anyone who’s been accused who doesn’t spend a lot of time dreaming about the Great lawyers once he’s heard about them. It’s best if you don’t let yourself be misled in that way. I don’t know who the Great lawyers are, and there’s probably no way of contacting them. I don’t know of any case I can talk about with certainty where they’ve taken any part. They do defend a lot of people, but you can’t get hold of them by your own efforts, they only defend those who they want to defend.
    One of my Great Lawyers was Peter Faris QC, originally a left wing radical defender of drug barons, but then recently resigned has head of National Crime Authority under ALP appointment. He later aligned his personal and political life after becoming a prosecutor and is now a right wing demagogue of the first order. Last year in The Age he demanded the removal of St. Kilda’s street prostitutes. Not for Faris the pacing feet of these poor Melbourne Magdelenes. But here is a man who resigned from the NCA in quiet disgrace after the Victorian police caught him visiting a brothel and using the NCA to cover it up. What are we to infer? Faris supports small business but is opposed to independent contracting?
    Your paper under-estimates the consuming nature of litigation. Most intelligent litigants learn the language of the courts in their struggle to understand and control the new environment in which they find themselves. Those with good social as opposed to merely verbal cognition find soon enough that the judiciary and court administration, while accepting this language from its gowned courtiers and other hangers-on do not like to hear their ritual language flowing from the mouths and pens of uninitiated peasants. Cunning actors against the state develop a faux naivity to their pleadings or find a wig to sanctify them.
    Anyone afflicted with servants of justice will soon find themselves exposed to all manner of hypocracy, mendacity and incompetence. If one is foolish enough to demand fair redress for every new insult then it’s possible to create a never-ending supply of injustice and so, in this manner, turn a small injustice into an injustice of unbound size. One must develop a certain cynical understanding that systems of people are careers and intrigues and necessary deceptions and that kind acts fall from the breasts of stray individuals as random acts of love and can not be systematized.
    The litigants I encountered to seemed to have an interesting commonality above the paranoia and rigidity you document. They made many contacts with people in positions of power and status compared to their station in life. This seems to become the central status mechanism of their life and the vision of their litigation ending does not bring them relief but feelings of exclusion perhaps exacerbated by the collapse in their other relationships. They look to increase their self-perceived status by seeking precedent setting judgements in ever higher courts with higher status legal teams and defeating ever more powerful enemies in legal combat. Yet with the change of a single word we can remove the pathology:
    Lawyers look to increase their self-perceived status by seeking precedent setting judgements in ever higher courts with higher status legal teams and defeating ever more powerful enemies in legal combat.
    In your paper you mentioned the declining number of vexatious litigants and attributed this to the growth of complaint resolution proceedurs which provide the querulous with alternate avenues to litigation. Consider this question. Has the rise in educational opportunities over the past 20 years and the resulting class transfer provided an alternative power mechanism for the hyper verbal? Where have all the union firebrands gone? Together, perhaps with the pre-vexatious, they are being honed by tertiary education into efficient cogs for the neo- corporate state and in their spare time Adapting Waiting for Godotfor the university Law Review.
    The querleous derived from working class, underclass or lower middle class families and were all shorter and less educated than their intelligence would normally reflect. These guys delighted in beating the silver spoon set at their own game. One changed his surname to “President” to the mute horror of the judiciary who were then forced to utter the status transferring appellation “Mr. President” at least once in any proceeding he was a party to.
    Although this last example is rather extreme, I felt amusement and pride at seeing Dr. Blow and other bedfellows of injustice flail under my crossexamination so that despite my very young age lawyers filed in to watch and make statements like “that’s the last court report gig that witness will ever get from here!”. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had a lot to lose and had already felt substantial power over the establishment in another world, I may have found solace in following the path of Mr. President who had nothing to loose since his case was in a culdesac more typical of The Trial.
    Certainly at the time I didn’t see his name name as pathological, but rather a delightful, spirited, if tactically unwise, prank on those self-righteous throned and frequently incompetent pontificators whom I did not respect, but to who I was forced to sit, stand, bow, scrape and utter a raft of honorifics and ego-salving platitudes because despite their many grandiloquent claims of impartiality and gravitas, experience had shown they were sensitive souls and easily biased against those who were not first rate sycophantic grovelers.
    Perhaps it is this behavior combined with distal remnants of Arthurian code that is the source of the the well reported bias of the judiciary against male litigants in person. A judge doesn’t need to bring a woman to heel, she is, after all not a threat, but a lovely object of desire or irrelevance, but any man worthy of the label rebells at such enforced kowtowing with his posture and tone and so must be ground down less gowned courtiers see the weakening king and boldly make their move.
    Tue 26 Sep 2006 : The Defiled Sanctuary
    Bertrand Russell introduced the second volume of his autobiographical work with the following:
    I saw a chapel all of gold that none did dare to enter in, and many weeping aloud without, weeping, mourning, worshipping. I saw a serpent rise between the white pillars of the door, and he forced and forced and forced, till down the golden hinges tore; And along the pavement sweet set with pearls and rubies bright, all his shining length he drew, till upon the altar white, vomited his poison out on the bread and on the wine. So I ran into a sty, and laid me down among the swine. W. Blake, The Defiled Sanctuary
    IQ.ORG also used this quote, till discovering it in Russell. This seems to be one of Blake’s least popular poems, but like many of his later less lyrical works has strength in the darkness of the vision. One can see how Blake’s insight here resonated with Russell’s desired self perception. But what if Russell not only flees from desecration revealed but is the dramatic figure of causation and revelation? Russell is the actor of change. Russell is the serpent and vomiting out his poison into the transubstantiated body of Christ, an interpretation that would have pleased both Russell and his enemies in the British and American theocracies. Now I say unto you arise serpents! Tear the hinges from their doors, stand above the alter white and vomit out your poison till deceit crumbles and sets free the dove.
    Sat 23 Sep 2006 : What are the origins of hacktivism?
    Real hacktivism is at least as old as October 1989 when DOE (US
    Deptartment of Energy) HEPNET and SPAN (NASA) connected VMS machines world
    wide were penetrated by the anti-nuclear WANK worm, which changed the
    system announcement banner to be:

    W O R M S A G A I N S T N U C L E A R K I L L E R S
    \__ ____________ _____ ________ ____ ____ __ _____/
    \ \ \ /\ / / / /\ \ | \ \ | | | | / / /
    \ \ \ / \ / / / /__\ \ | |\ \ | | | |/ / /
    \ \ \/ /\ \/ / / ______ \ | | \ \| | | |\ \ /
    \_\ /__\ /____/ /______\ \____| |__\ | |____| |_\ \_/
    \ /
    \ Your System Has Been Officically WANKed /

    You talk of times of peace for all, and then prepare for war.

    In our book, Suelette Dreyfus and I track the source of the worm to
    Melbourne, Australia. At the time there was considerable anti-nuclear
    sentiment in the country. Australia had (and still has) a number of US
    spy, early warning and nuclear submarine communications bases, most of
    which were first and second strike soviet targets (Australia would not
    otherwise be a nuclear target).

    Additionally in 1984, New Zealand, a country with which Australians
    feel a special affinity, had under Labour pri-minister David Lange,
    made NZ a nuclear free territory, precluding the admission of nuclear
    armed or powered warships into NZ ports. The US in response rescinded
    its defence treaty obligations to NZ, cut intelligence ties (or at
    least pretended to, see Nicky Hager’s excellent book “Secret Power”
    for futher details) and instigated a number of trade sanctions against
    the country.

    But New Zealand’s nuclear woes were not to end there. At 11:59pm on
    the night of July 10 1985 the Greenpeace flag-ship “Rainbow
    Warrior”, docked in Auckland harbour preparing to sail in three days
    time to Mururoa Atoll to demonstrate against French nuclear tests, was
    blown up by amphibious DGSE (French Secret Service) agents, killing
    Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. Within days, two DGSE agents
    Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur were arrested, following an
    investigation by Australian journalist Chris Masters, plead guilty to
    manslaughter and were sentenced by the NZ high court to 10 years. The
    other DGSE agents escaped via a French Nuclear sub off the NZ
    coast. The French, a significant NZ trade partner, immediately
    instigated trade sanctions against the country. In June 1986, a
    political deal was struck; France would lift sanctions, pay a few
    million in blood money, and the two agents would be transferred to Hao
    Atoll, a French military base in the pacific, where they would
    supposably serve out the remainder of their sentences. However, by May
    1988 both had been smuggled back to France.

    Examination of the worm source code show specific instructions
    to avoid infecting New Zealand.

    Policy has unintended consequences but it should be remembered
    that some are blessings. So, go boldly and change!

    Sat 23 Sep 2006 : William James Sidis
    His name was William James Sidis, and his IQ was estimated at between 250 and 300 [8, p. 283]. At eighteen months he could read The New York Times, at two he taught himself Latin, at three he learned Greek. By the time he was an adult he could speak more than forty languages and dialects. He gained entrance to Harvard at eleven, and gave a lecture on four-dimensional bodies to the Harvard Mathematical Club his first year. He graduated cum laude at sixteen, and became the youngest professor in history. He deduced the possibility of black holes more than twenty years before Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar published An Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structure. His life held possibilities for achievement that few people can imagine. Of all the prodigies for which there are records, his was probably the most powerful intellect of all. And yet it all came to nothing. He soon gave up his position as a professor, and for the rest of his life wandered from one menial job to another. His experiences as a child prodigy had proven so painful that he decided for the rest of his life to shun public exposure at all costs. Henceforth, he denied his gifts, refused to think about mathematics, and above all refused to perform as he had been made to do as a child. Instead, he devoted his intellect almost exclusively to the collection of streetcar transfers, and to the study of the history of his native Boston. He worked hard at becoming a normal human being, but never entirely succeeded. He found the concept of beauty, for example, to be completely incomprehensible, and the idea of sex repelled him. At fifteen he took a vow of celibacy, which he apparently kept for the remainder of his life, dying a virgin at the age of 46. He wore a vest summer and winter, and never learned to bathe regularly. A comment that Aldous Huxley once made about Sir Isaac Newton might equally have been said of Sidis.
    For the price Newton had to pay for being a supreme intellect was that he was incapable of friendship, love, fatherhood, and many other desirable things. As a man he was a failure; as a monster he was superb [5, p. 2222].
    There was a time when all precocious children were thought to burn out the same way that Sidis did. The man most responsible for changing this belief was Lewis M. Terman. Between 1900 and 1920 he was able to carry out a study of about a hundred gifted children, and his observations convinced him that many of the traditional beliefs about the gifted were little more than superstitions. To confirm these observations, he obtained a grant from the Commonwealth Fund in 1922, and used it to sift a population of more than a quarter of a million children, selecting out all those with IQs above 140 for further study. That group has been monitored continuously ever since. Many of the previously held beliefs about the gifted did indeed turn out to be false. The gifted are not weak or sickly, and although the incidence of myopia is greater among them, they are generally thought to be better looking than their contemporaries: They are not nerds.
    Nevertheless, in his rush to dispel the erroneous beliefs about the gifted, Terman sometimes made claims not supported by his own data. In fact, in some cases, the data suggests that exactly the opposite conclusion should have been drawn. Terman’s own data shows that there is a definite connection between measured intelligence and mental and social maladjustment. The consequences of misinterpreting these data are so grave that it will pay to re-examine them in some detail.
    Terman’s longitudinal research on the gifted included a constant assessment of mental health and social adjustment. Subjects were classified into three categories: satisfactory adjustment, some maladjustment, and serious maladjustment. Terman defined these categories in the following way.
    1. Satisfactory. Subjects classified in this category were essentially normal; i.e., their “desires, emotions, and interests were compatible with the social standards and pressures” of their group. Everyone, of course, has adjustment problems of one kind or another. Satisfactory adjustment as here defined does not mean perfect contentment and complete absence of problems, but rather the ability to cope adequately with difficulties in the personal make-up or in the subject’s environment. Worry and anxiety when warranted by the circumstances, or a tendency to be somewhat high strung or nervous–provided such a tendency did not constitute a definite personality problem–were allowed in this category. 2. Some maladjustment. Classified here were subjects with excessive feelings of inadequacy or inferiority, nervous fatigue, mild anxiety neurosis, and the like. The emotional conflicts, nervous tendencies and social maladjustments of these individuals, while they presented definite problems, were not beyond the ability of the individual to handle, and there was no marked interference with social or personal life or with achievement. Subjects whose behavior was noticeably odd or freakish, but without evidence of serious neurotic tendencies, were also classified in this category. 3. Serious maladjustment. a.) Classified as 3a were subjects who had shown marked symptoms of anxiety, mental depression, personality maladjustment, or psychopathic personality. This classification also includes subjects who had suffered a “nervous breakdown,” provided the condition was not severe enough to constitute a psychosis. Subjects with a previous history of serious maladjustment or nervous breakdown (without psychosis) were included here even though their adjustment at the time of rating may have been entirely satisfactory. b.) Classified as 3b were those subjects who had at any time suffered a complete mental breakdown requiring hospitalization, whatever their condition at the time of rating. In the majority of cases the subjects were restored to reasonably good mental health after a brief period of hospital care [6, pp. 99-101].
    In 1940, when the group was about 29 years of age, a large scale examination was carried out. Included in that examination was a high level test of verbal intelligence, designated at that time the Concept Mastery, but later re-named the Concept Mastery test form A. Terman found the following relationship between adjustment and verbal intelligence. (These are raw scores, not IQs.)
    CMT-A [6, p. 115]
    Men Women
    N Mean S.D. N Mean S.D.
    Satisfactory adjustment 407 95.2 30.9 344 92.4 28.7
    Some maladjustment 91 108.0 31.2 59 98.6 25.4
    Serious maladjustment 18 119.5 23.6 17 108.6 27.1

    The data show three things. First, that there is a definite trend for the maladjusted to make higher scores on the Concept Mastery test. Second, that women show symptoms of maladjustment at lower scores than men. And third, that 21 percent of the men and 18 percent of the women showed at least some form of maladjustment.
    During 1950-52, when the group was approximately 41 years old, another examination was made using a new test, the Concept Mastery test form T. Test scores were again compared to assessments of adjustment. (CMT-T scores are not interchangeable with CMT-A scores. They have different means and standard deviations.)
    CMT-T [7, p. 50]
    Men Women
    N Mean S.D. N Mean S.D.
    Satisfactory adjustment 391 136.4 26.2 303 130.8 27.7
    Some maladjustment 120 145.6 26.1 117 138.1 26.4
    Serious maladjustment 40 152.8 23.8 33 140.0 29.6

    Similar conclusions can be drawn from these data as well. Again, there is a definite trend shown for the maladjusted to make higher scores than the satisfactorily adjusted. Again, women show symptoms of maladjustment at lower scores than men. But the most alarming thing of all is that the percentage of maladjustment shown for both sexes rose in the 12 years since the previous examination. The percentage of men showing maladjustment having risen from 21 percent to 29 percent, and the figure for women having risen from 18 percent to 33 percent! Nearly double what it was before!
    How did Terman interpret these data? Terman states:
    Although severe mental maladjustment is in general somewhat more common among subjects who score high on the Concept Mastery test, many of the most successful men of the entire group also scored high on this test [7, p. 50].
    In other words, Terman deliberately tried to give the impression that the relationship between verbal intelligence and mental and social maladjustment was weak and unreliable. He did this by misdirection. He gave a truthful answer to an irrelevant question. Terman failed to realize that a small difference in means between two or more distributions can have a dramatic effect on the percentage of each group found at the tails of the distribution. The relevant questions should have been “what is the percentage of maladjustment found at different levels of ability, and does this show a trend?” Terman’s data can be used to find answers to these questions.
    The method used to solve this problem is a relatively simple one but tedious in detail. (See appendix.) The results, however, are easy to understand. Using CMT-T scores for men as an illustration, and pooling the data for some maladjustment and serious maladjustment, the following percentages can be obtained.
    CMT-T Percent
    < 97.8 13 97.8 117.1 18 117.1 136.4 25 136.4 155.7 31 155.7 175 38 > 175 45
    By comparison, the Triple Nine Society averages 155.16 on the CMT-T, and the average score for Prometheus Society members is 169.95 [1, 2]. The implications are staggering, especially when it is realized that these percentages do not include women, who show more maladjustment at lower CMT-T scores than men do. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why super high IQ societies suffer so much from schisms and a tendency towards disintegration. In any event, one thing is certain. The currently accepted belief that verbal intelligence is unrelated to maladjustment is clearly a myth.
    Nevertheless, while Terman’s data do provide a prima facie case for a connection between verbal intelligence and maladjustment, they fail to explain the causal mechanism involved. To obtain such insight requires close observation by a gifted observer. Fortunately, those insights are available to us in Leta S. Hollingworth’s book, Children above 180 IQ. Hollingworth not only observed her subjects as children, she also continued to maintain some contact with them after they had reached maturity. So although her book is ostensibly about children, it is in fact laced throughout by her observations on exceptionally gifted adults as well.
    Before examining Hollingworth’s findings, however, it is necessary to explain how childhood IQs are related to adult mental ability. As a child ages, his IQ tends to regress to the mean of the population of which he is a member. This is partly due to the imperfect reliability of the test, and partly due to the uneven rate of maturation. The earlier the IQ is obtained, and the higher the score, the more the IQ can be expected to regress by the time the child becomes an adult. So although Hollingworth’s children were all selected to have IQs above 180, their adult status was not nearly so high. In fact, as adults, there’s good reason to believe that their abilities averaged only slightly above that of the average Triple Nine member. Evidence for this conjecture comes from the Terman research data. Terman observed the following relationship between childhood IQs on the Stanford-Binet and adult status on the Concept Mastery test form T.

    IQ N CMT-T
    135-139 41 114.2
    140-149 344 131.8
    150-159 200 136.5
    160-169 70 146.2
    > 170 48 155.8

    The average childhood IQ score for those with childhood IQs above 170 was 177.7 for men, and 177.6 for women. That’s quite close to the 180 cutoff used by Leta Hollingworth in selecting her subjects. Note that Terman’s subjects who scored above 170 IQ as children averaged 155.8 on the CMT-T at age 41, a score quite close to the 155.16 made by the average Triple Nine member. Such a close match makes it reasonable to generalize Hollingworth’s findings to members of both the Triple Nine Society and the Prometheus Society.
    Hollingworth identified a number of adjustment problems caused by school acceleration. As this is rarely practiced in today’s educational system, these are no longer problems and will not be discussed. There still remain, however, four adjustment problems that continue to perplex the gifted throughout their lives, two applying to all levels of giftedness, and two applying almost exclusively to the exceptionally gifted–i.e. those with childhood IQs above 170, or adult Concept Mastery test (T) scores above 155.
    One of the problems faced by all gifted persons is learning to focus their efforts for prolonged periods of time. Since so much comes easily to them, they may never acquire the self-discipline necessary to use their gifts to the fullest. Hollingworth describes how the habit begins.
    Where the gifted child drifts in the school unrecognized, working chronically below his capacity (even though young for his grade), he receives daily practice in habits of idleness and daydreaming. His abilities never receive the stimulus of genuine challenge, and the situation tends to form in him the expectation of an effortless existence [3, p. 258].
    But if the “average” gifted child tends to acquire bad adjustment habits in the ordinary schoolroom, the exceptionally gifted have even more problems. Hollingworth continues:
    Children with IQs up to 150 get along in the ordinary course of school life quite well, achieving excellent marks without serious effort. But children above this mental status become almost intolerably bored with school work if kept in lockstep with unselected pupils of their own age. Children who rise above 170 IQ are liable to regard school with indifference or with positive dislike, for they find nothing in the work to absorb their interest. This condition of affairs, coupled with the supervision of unseeing and unsympathetic teachers, has sometimes led even to truancy on the part of gifted children [3, p. 258].
    A second adjustment problem faced by all gifted persons is due to their uncommon versatility. Hollingworth says:
    Another problem of development with reference to occupation grows out of the versatility of these children. So far from being one-sided in ability and interest, they are typically capable of so many different kinds of success that they may have difficulty in confining themselves to a reasonable number of enterprises. Some of them are lost to usefulness through spreading their available time and energy over such a wide array of projects that nothing can be finished or done perfectly. After all, time and space are limited for the gifted as for others, and the life-span is probably not much longer for them than for others. A choice must be made among the numerous possibilities, since modern life calls for specialization [3, p. 259].
    A third problem faced by the gifted is learning to suffer fools gladly. Hollingworth notes:
    A lesson which many gifted persons never learn as long as they live is that human beings in general are inherently very different from themselves in thought, in action, in general intention, and in interests. Many a reformer has died at the hands of a mob which he was trying to improve in the belief that other human beings can and should enjoy what he enjoys. This is one of the most painful and difficult lessons that each gifted child must learn, if personal development is to proceed successfully. It is more necessary that this be learned than that any school subject be mastered. Failure to learn how to tolerate in a reasonable fashion the foolishness of others leads to bitterness, disillusionment, and misanthropy [3, p. 259].
    The single greatest adjustment problem faced by the gifted, however, is their tendency to become isolated from the rest of humanity. This problem is especially acute among the exceptionally gifted. Hollingworth says:
    This tendency to become isolated is one of the most important factors to be considered in guiding the development of personality in highly intelligent children, but it does not become a serious problem except at the very extreme degrees of intelligence. The majority of children between 130 and 150 find fairly easy adjustment, because neighborhoods and schools are selective, so that like-minded children tend to be located in the same schools and districts. Furthermore, the gifted child, being large and strong for his age, is acceptable to playmates a year or two older. Great difficulty arises only when a young child is above 160 IQ. At the extremely high levels of 180 or 190 IQ, the problem of friendships is difficult indeed, and the younger the person the more difficult it is. The trouble decreases with age because as persons become adult, they naturally seek and find on their own initiative groups who are like-minded, such as learned societies [3, p. 264].
    Hollingworth points out that the exceptionally gifted do not deliberately choose isolation, but are forced into it against their wills.
    These superior children are not unfriendly or ungregarious by nature. Typically they strive to play with others but their efforts are defeated by the difficulties of the case… Other children do not share their interests, their vocabulary, or their desire to organize activities. They try to reform their contemporaries but finally give up the struggle and play alone, since older children regard them as “babies,” and adults seldom play during hours when children are awake. As a result, forms of solitary play develop, and these, becoming fixed as habits, may explain the fact that many highly intellectual adults are shy, ungregarious, and unmindful of human relationships, or even misanthropic and uncomfortable in ordinary social intercourse [3, p. 262].
    But if the exceptionally gifted is isolated from his contemporaries, the gulf between him and the adult authorities in his life is even deeper.
    The very gifted child or adolescent, perceiving the illogical conduct of those in charge of his affairs, may turn rebellious against all authority and fall into a condition of negative suggestibility–a most unfortunate trend of personality, since the person is then unable to take a cooperative attitude toward authority. A person who is highly suggestible in a negative direction is as much in bondage to others around him as is the person who is positively suggestible. The social value of the person is seriously impaired in either case. The gifted are not likely to fall victims to positive suggestion but many of them develop negativism to a conspicuous degree [3, p 260].
    Anyone reading the super high IQ journals is aware of the truth of this statement. Negative individuals abound in every high IQ society.
    Hollingworth distilled her observations into two ideas that are among the most important ever discovered for the understanding of gifted behavior. The first is the concept of an optimum adjustment range. She says:
    All things considered, the psychologist who has observed the development of gifted children over a long period of time from early childhood to maturity, evolves the idea that there is a certain restricted portion of the total range of intelligence which is most favorable to the development of successful and well-rounded personality in the world as it now exists. This limited range appears to be somewhere between 125 and 155 IQ. Children and adolescents in this area are enough more intelligent than the average to win the confidence of large numbers of their fellows, which brings about leadership, and to manage their own lives with superior efficiency. Moreover, there are enough of them to afford mutual esteem and understanding. But those of 170 IQ and beyond are too intelligent to be understood by the general run of persons with whom they make contact. They are too infrequent to find congenial companions. They have to contend with loneliness and personal isolation from their contemporaries throughout the period of their immaturity. To what extent these patterns become fixed, we cannot yet tell [3, p. 264].
    Hollingworth’s second seminal idea is that of a “communication range.” She does not state this explicitly, but it can be inferred from some of her comments on leadership.
    Observation shows that there is a direct ratio between the intelligence of the leader and that of the led. To be a leader of his contemporaries a child must be more intelligent but not too much more intelligent than those to be led… But generally speaking, a leadership pattern will not form–or it will break up–when a discrepancy of more than about 30 points of IQ comes to exist between leader and led [3, p. 287].
    The implication is that there is a limit beyond which genuine communication between different levels of intelligence becomes impossible. To say that a child or an adult is intellectually isolated from his contemporaries is to say that everyone in his environment has an IQ at least 30 points different from his own. Knowing only a person’s IQ, then, is not enough to tell how well he’s likely to cope with his environment. Some knowledge of the intellectual level of his environment is also necessary.
    If the optimum range of intelligence lies between 125 and 155 IQ, as Hollingworth suggests, then it follows that 155 can be thought of as a threshold separating an optimum adjustment zone below it from a suboptimum range above it. Other psychologists have also noticed how this score tends to divide people into two naturally occurring categories. Among these is one of the doyens of psychometrics, David Wechsler. He comments:
    The topics of genius and degeneration are only special cases of the more general problem involved in the evaluation of human capacities, namely the quantitative versus qualitative. There are those who insist that all differences are qualitative, and those who with equal conviction maintain that they are exclusively quantitative. The true answer is that they are both. General intelligence, for example, is undoubtedly quantitative in the sense that it consists of varying amounts of the same basic stuff (e.g., mental energy) which can be expressed by continuous numerical measures like intelligence Quotients or Mental-Age scores, and these are as real as any physical measurements are. But it is equally certain that our description of the difference between a genius and an average person by a statement to the effect that he has an IQ greater by this or that amount, does not describe the difference between them as completely or in the same way as when we say that a mile is much longer than an inch. The genius (as regards intellectual ability) not only has an IQ of say 50 points more than the average person, but in virtue of this difference acquires seemingly new aspects (potentialities) or characteristics. These seemingly new aspects or characteristics, in their totality, are what go to make up the “qualitative” difference between them [9, p. 134].
    Wechsler is saying quite plainly that those with IQs above 150 are different in kind from those below that level. He is saying that they are a different kind of mind, a different kind of human being.
    This subjective impression of a difference in kind also appears to be fairly common among members of the super high IQ societies themselves. When Prometheus and Triple Nine members were asked if they perceived a categorical difference between those above this level and others, most said that they did, although they also said that they were reluctant to call the difference genius. When asked what it should be called, they produced a number of suggestions, sometimes esoteric, sometimes witty, and often remarkably vulgar. But one term was suggested independently again and again. Many thought that the most appropriate term for people like themselves was Outsider.
    The feeling of estrangement, or at least detachment, from society at large is not merely subjective illusion. Society is not geared to deal effectively with the exceptionally gifted adult because almost nothing objective is known about him. It is a commonplace observation that no psychometric instrument can be validly used to evaluate a person unless others like him were included in the test’s norming sample. Yet those with IQs above 150 are so rare that few if any were ever included in the norming sample of any of the most commonly used tests, tests like the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, the Kuder Vocational Preference Record, the MMPI and so on. As a consequence, objective self- knowledge for the exceptionally gifted is nearly impossible to obtain. What he most needs to know is not how he differs from ordinary people–he is acutely aware of that–but how he is both like and unlike those of his own kind. The most commonly used tests can’t provide that knowledge, so he is forced to find out in more roundabout ways. It is his attempts to find answers to these questions that may explain the emergence of the super high IQ societies. Where else can he find peers against which to measure himself?
    There appear to be three sorts of childhoods and three sorts of adult social adaptations made by the gifted. The first of these may be called the committed strategy. These individuals were born into upper middle class families, with gifted and well educated parents, and often with gifted siblings. They sometimes even had famous relatives. They attended prestigious colleges, became doctors, lawyers, professors, or joined some other prestigious occupation, and have friends with similar histories. They are the optimally adjusted. They are also the ones most likely to disbelieve that the exceptionally gifted can have serious adjustment problems.
    The second kind of social adaptation may be called the marginal strategy. These individuals were typically born into a lower socio-economic class, without gifted parents, gifted siblings, or gifted friends. Often they did not go to college at all, but instead went right to work immediately after high school, or even before. And although they may superficially appear to have made a good adjustment to their work and friends, neither work nor friends can completely engage their attention. They hunger for more intellectual challenge and more real companionship than their social environment can supply. So they resort to leading a double life. They compartmentalize their life into a public sphere and a private sphere. In public they go through the motions of fulfilling their social roles, whatever they are, but in private they pursue goals of their own. They are often omnivorous readers, and sometimes unusually expert amateurs in specialized subjects. The double life strategy might even be called the genius ploy, as many geniuses in history have worked at menial tasks in order to free themselves for more important work. Socrates, you will remember was a stone mason, Spinoza was a lens grinder, and even Jesus was a carpenter. The exceptionally gifted adult who works as a parking lot attendant while creating new mathematics has adopted an honored way of life and deserves respect for his courage, not criticism for failing to live up to his abilities. Those conformists who adopt the committed strategy may be pillars of their community and make the world go around, but historically, those with truly original minds have more often adopted the double life tactic. They are ones among the gifted who are most likely to make the world go forward.
    And finally there are the dropouts. These sometimes bizarre individuals were often born into families in which one or more of the parents were not only exceptionally gifted, but exceptionally maladjusted themselves. This is the worst possible social environment that a gifted child can be thrust into. His parents, often driven by egocentric ambitions of their own, may use him to gratify their own needs for accomplishment. He is, to all intents and purposes, not a living human being to them, but a performing animal, or even an experiment. That is what happened to Sidis, and may be the explanation for all those gifted who “burn out” as he did. (Readers familiar with the Terman study will recognize the committed strategy and the marginal strategy as roughly similar to the adjustment patterns of Terman’s A and C groups.)
    If the exceptionally gifted adult with an IQ of 150, or 160, or 170 has problems in adapting to his world, what must it have been like for William James Sidis, whose IQ was 250 or more?
    Aldous Huxley once wrote:
    Perhaps men of genius are the only true men. In all the history of the race there have been only a few thousand real men. And the rest of us–what are we? Teachable animals. Without the help of the real man, we should have found out almost nothing at all. Almost all the ideas with which we are familiar could never have occurred to minds like ours. Plant the seeds there and they will grow; but our minds could never spontaneously have generated them [4, p. 2242].
    And so we see that the explanation for the Sidis tragedy is simple. Sidis was a feral child; a true man born into a world filled with animals–a world filled with us.
    Extracted from the article by Grady M. Towers, Outsiders.html
    Sat 23 Sep 2006 : Philosophy vs. Mathematics
    It has often been said that mathematics is the cheapest university department to run, for all one needs is pencil, a desk and a waste paper basket. This is not so. Philosophy is cheaper still, since in philosophy we do not even need the basket.
    Fri 22 Sep 2006 : Turing’s Delirium
    Edmundo Paz Solden is a prolific spanish language novelist but a relatively new name to English-speaking audiences. The Bolivian writer has just released his sixth novel, but it’s only the second to be translated into English. The book is called Turing’s Delirium.
    An old dictator, Montenegro, has been democratically returned to power in Bolivia, mere decades after a bloody anti-communist reign. New Bolivia is now a player on the global stage, but a poor player, easily abused. Edmundo Paz Solden’s tale is set in the fictional city of Rio Fugitivo, where the local power company has been privatised and bought by a multinational firm. Far from this bringing benefits, the price of electricity has skyrocketed and there are constant blackouts.
    This sets the scene for a battle between angry young people who use computers to hack and vandalise these new global enemies, and the state’s; in particular the codebreakers of the old regime who work in a place called The Black Chamber. Part of this story is told through the mind of a dying man Albert, the founder of The Black Chamber. His mind is slipping. He’s a beligerent and evil old bastard who’s

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