The missile knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn’t. By subtracting where it is from where it isn’t, or where it isn’t from where it is (whichever is greater), it obtains a difference, or deviation. The guidance subsystem uses deviations to generate corrective commands to drive the missile from a position where it is to a position where it isn’t, and arriving at a position where it wasn’t, it now is. Consequently, the position where it is, is now the position that it wasn’t, and it follows that the position that it was, is now the position that it isn’t.
In the event that the position that it is in is not the position that it wasn’t, the system has acquired a variation, the variation being the difference between where the missile is, and where it wasn’t. If variation is considered to be a significant factor, it too may be corrected by the GEA. However, the missile must also know where it was.
The missile guidance computer scenario works as follows. Because a variation has modified some of the information the missile has obtained, it is not sure just where it is. However, it is sure where it isn’t, within reason, and it knows where it was. It now subtracts where it should be from where it wasn’t, or vice-versa, and by differentiating this from the algebraic sum of where it shouldn’t be, and where it was, it is able to obtain the deviation and its variation, which is called error.
Peter Watts penned a short note roughly a year ago and ended it on this hopeful note:
The world will burn, though. Or enough of it, at least. If Trump gets in, there are gonna be a lot of screaming toddlers with scorched hands. Shouldn’t take him more than one term to bring that whole damn country down around his ears.
And once the pot has well and truly boiled over— when even the Guccis of the one-percenters are slick with the blood in the streets; when Flint-level infrastructure has spread to every corner of the fifty states; when those damned Mexicans finally build Trump’s wall for him, but along the original Mexican/US boundary— why, the Land of the Free will be just begging for someone like Elizabeth Warren to take the helm.
It might be the only way to return sanity to the US political process, in a world where the Overton Window has moved so far to the right that yesterday’s centrism is today’s radical loony tune. In order to reset the scale to the point where workable solutions are even visible, you might have to shatter that window entirely and start over. Or—if you prefer pendulum metaphors—pushing the bob all the way over to Trump might be the only way to build enough energy to reach Warren/Sanders territory on the return swing.
It sounds grim, but at heart this is a hopeful message. True democracy might yet play a constructive role, even if its voice is dominated by toddlers who thus far have refused to accept the danger posed by stove-tops. So let them prevail, I say. Let them burn. Let them learn the hard way, and the sooner the better.
There’s a nice fringe benefit for the rest of us, too. Once those burns have been sustained, perhaps the toddlers will be so busy trying to stamp out the fires within their own borders that they’ll be less inclined to keep starting them elsewhere in the world. Wouldn’t that be nice.
Maybe I’ll head down south after all, in a few more years. Hang out with some old friends I haven’t been able to visit in a while.
In the meantime I’ll keep playing Fallout 4. Just to get ready.
He should have played Fallout 3.
good night, and thank you.
Fascist Nations Shortly after the war of 1914-1918 the first fascist nations emerged in Europe In those nations the sun rose and set at the usual time shedding light on homestead roofs and hills' green slopes Cattle mooed gently in cowsheds Mothers kissed their children's foreheads to wake them at dawn Fathers returning from work with cheerful weariness in their bones smelled the smoke from their hearths and after dinner fell asleep in armchairs or tinkered intrepidly or practiced their music with a passion Children played at stickball at hopscotch and hide-and-seek Little girls sprouted breasts and overnight little girls turned into big girls filled with whisper and murmur like trees in the woods and sudden giggles the sound of which made boys' throats go dry On summer evenings curtains lit from within showed shadows meeting parting and meeting again tenderly Whereas in winter lovers inhaled the steam of each other's breath in snowy gardens And one might also mention cats arching their backs sparrows soaring up above the pavement old women on their porches flowers cut and potted nurses taking patients' temperatures people sweeping streets with brooms One might mention drying wood wind in a thicket damp furrows in a field And one might also call to mind many particulars bearing Witness that For there were no signs on the sky mournful comets burning bushes water turned to blood For life went on as always Hence there truly were in those nations many ordinary people and good people and people who knew nothing and to whom it never occurred and who didn't consider themselves accessories and who had nothing to do with it and who didn't even read the papers or read them carelessly caught up in thoughts of what they had to get done fix the leaking roof get the shoes repaired propose have a beer mix the paint light a candle and who really didn't see the fear in a neighbor's eyes didn't hear the trembling in travelers' voices asking the way didn't see the difference didn't hear an inner voice or if they had their doubts there was nothing they could do and they took comfort saying At least we aren't doing anything wrong we live the way we always did Which was true And yet these were fascist nations
– Wiktor Woroszylski, “Fascist nations”, 1969, translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States
from civilwar.org, quoted without comments
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers. Recent events have fully dissipated all such hopes and demonstrated the necessity of separation.
Our Northern confederates, after a full and calm hearing of all the facts, after a fair warning of our purpose not to submit to the rule of the authors of all these wrongs and injuries, have by a large majority committed the Government of the United States into their hands. The people of Georgia, after an equally full and fair and deliberate hearing of the case, have declared with equal firmness that they shall not rule over them. A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia. The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution.
While the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African race was fully conceded by all, it was plainly apparent that slavery would soon disappear from what are now the non-slave-holding States of the original thirteen. The opposition to slavery was then, as now, general in those States and the Constitution was made with direct reference to that fact. But a distinct abolition party was not formed in the United States for more than half a century after the Government went into operation. The main reason was that the North, even if united, could not control both branches of the Legislature during any portion of that time. Therefore such an organization must have resulted either in utter failure or in the total overthrow of the Government. The material prosperity of the North was greatly dependent on the Federal Government; that of the South not at all. In the first years of the Republic the navigating, commercial, and manufacturing interests of the North began to seek profit and aggrandizement at the expense of the agricultural interests. Even the owners of fishing smacks sought and obtained bounties for pursuing their own business (which yet continue), and $500,000 is now paid them annually out of the Treasury. The navigating interests begged for protection against foreign shipbuilders and against competition in the coasting trade.
Why, all our art treasures of to-day are only the dug-up commonplaces of three or four hundred years ago. I wonder if there is real intrinsic beauty in the old soup-plates, beer-mugs, and candle-snuffers that we prize so now, or if it is only the halo of age glowing around them that gives them their charms in our eyes. The “old blue” that we hang about our walls as ornaments were the common every-day household utensils of a few centuries ago; and the pink shepherds and the yellow shepherdesses that we hand round now for all our friends to gush over, and pretend they understand, were the unvalued mantel-ornaments that the mother of the eighteenth century would have given the baby to suck when he cried.
Will it be the same in the future? Will the prized treasures of to-day always be the cheap trifles of the day before? Will rows of our willow-pattern dinner-plates be ranged above the chimneypieces of the great in the years 2000 and odd? Will the white cups with the gold rim and the beautiful gold flower inside (species unknown), that our Sarah Janes now break in sheer light-heartedness of spirit, be carefully mended, and stood upon a bracket, and dusted only by the lady of the house?
That china dog that ornaments the bedroom of my furnished lodgings. It is a white dog. Its eyes blue. Its nose is a delicate red, with spots. Its head is painfully erect, its expression is amiability carried to verge of imbecility. I do not admire it myself. Considered as a work of art, I may say it irritates me. Thoughtless friends jeer at it, and even my landlady herself has no admiration for it, and excuses its presence by the circumstance that her aunt gave it to her.
But in 200 years’ time it is more than probable that that dog will be dug up from somewhere or other, minus its legs, and with its tail broken, and will be sold for old china, and put in a glass cabinet. And people will pass it round, and admire it. They will be struck by the wonderful depth of the colour on the nose, and speculate as to how beautiful the bit of the tail that is lost no doubt was.
We, in this age, do not see the beauty of that dog. We are too familiar with it. It is like the sunset and the stars: we are not awed by their loveliness because they are common to our eyes. So it is with that china dog. In 2288 people will gush over it. The making of such dogs will have become a lost art. Our descendants will wonder how we did it, and say how clever we were. We shall be referred to lovingly as “those grand old artists that flourished in the nineteenth century, and produced those china dogs.”
The “sampler” that the eldest daughter did at school will be spoken of as “tapestry of the Victorian era,” and be almost priceless. The blue-and- white mugs of the present-day roadside inn will be hunted up, all cracked and chipped, and sold for their weight in gold, and rich people will use them for claret cups; and travellers from Japan will buy up all the “Presents from Ramsgate,” and “Souvenirs of Margate,” that may have escaped destruction, and take them back to Jedo as ancient English curios.
— Jerome in “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)”
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
— Douglas Adams
Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.