Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Existential nihilism

You can read more about it here or here (or a number of other places).

I am somewhat of a nihilist. Sometimes I state I believe in something (such as values, morals) but then in the next moment I don't like to believe it at all. I mean, what use are they? I just go on living day to day and don't have to deal with that stuff anyway.

Existentialism basically means to me, that in the middle of the process of going about your day to day activities, that you basically come to the question: what is the point?

And then combine both existentialism and nihilism and there really is no point. Anything you can come up with would be totally arbitrary. As Jean Paul Satre said - "existence precedes essence".

But ultimately I think you have to reject nihilism as a whole because you have to give the universe meaning otherwise there is no point in doing anything. So the search for meaning is an endless quest that will lead you down many false roads, but it has to be done anyway.

US researchers have built a proto-prototype nano assembler

Read article.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The world's shortest political quiz

I try to avoid discussing politics anymore. Politics is largely irrelevant. There's no use worrying about it, the only thing you can really do is concentrate on gaining your own freedom. And ignore politicians.

Anyway, this quiz is the best as it shows what everything really boils down to. There really is no 'political spectrum' to speak of. Politics is really just about one thing.

Here is the quiz.

3 ways to make money online

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bicameral theory of mind

The Bicameral theory of mind was developed by Dr. Julian Jaynes (1920-1997).

A good summary of the different stages is written here:

1. Pre-conscious; Bicameral stage 1:
Automatic visions and voices tell you what to do. You automatically obey the "voices of authority." You think and speak like a slave. Obedience is paramount.

2. Proto-conscious; Bicameral stage 2:
Automatic feelings and thoughts tell you what to do. You behave like: (a) A true believer (sometimes a fanatic fighter for a "great cause"); or (b) A helpless wimp (languishing in apathy, sometimes complaining); or (c) A self-righteous preacher (making self "right" and others "wrong"); or (d) A macho rebel (compulsively fighting "the system," "the IRS," "the government"). Being "right" is paramount.

3. Conscious; Conscious stage:
You have largely mastered your feelings and emotions. You have the ability to critically examine every concept, every thought, every action. You strive to increase your competence in every aspect of your life. You carefully observe the results you produce, using that as feedback to improve your concepts, thoughts, communications, and actions. You live free and creatively - you are a Freeperson. Producing results is paramount.

Rest of article:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Social entropy

Basic definition:

A measure of the natural decay of the structure or of the disappearance of distinctions within a social system. Much of the energy consumed by a social organization is spent to maintain its structure, counteracting social entropy, e.g., through legal institutions, education, the normative consequences or television. anomie is the maximum state of social entropy.

I also found an interesting paper on it and how it relates to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Employee leasing

One of the better ideas I've come across:

A Modest Proposal for Freedom in Our Time
By L. Reichard White
Exclusive to _The Libertarian Enterprise_

Suppose a company, called perhaps "Liberty Leasing" (L.L.), couldapproach an employer with the following proposition: "I can take overyour legal liability for employing your worker, John Freeman, and yourtotal cost of employing him will be 5% less than it is now." At thesame time, suppose Liberty Leasing (L.L.) could give John Freeman a 15%increase in take-home pay --- and could make 10% for itself as well.

Full article here.

I'm not sure if this is possible in most areas, however, as the state may create/already have created a lot of legal hurdles to prevent this from happening.

The closest thing I've experienced to the above concept is sub-contracting, where you work for a company or companies but no taxes are taken out of your pay (as you are expected to pay them yourself), the state gives you a business number and you are expected to comply with alot of their regulations on business. I would not really call sub-contracting something like operating a business, though.

However, as a small time operator you may get away with not telling the state anything or having to pay any taxes on your wage. Many sub-contractors or 'sole-traders' do this as the taxes they would have to pay are too burdensome (as they don't get any of the legal protections that an employee would).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This site proports to give users a range of medical diagnoses based on the information given in a lengthy questionnaire.

I did the questionnaire and it took me about an hour. I told them almost every little health problem I/'ve had. It gave me a long list of possible conditions I could have, and the probability I have them based on the information I gave them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This site I found has user-submitted news relating to interesting technological developments. It is like the newsfeed on except this site is more like a blog.

Other good sites to check out are:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Moore's law and Kurzweil's law of accelerating returns

Moore's law was founded by Gordon Moore, who co-founded Intel. It is based on his observation that computing power seems to be doubling every two years or so. However, initially this only described the number of transistors on an integrated circuit, but eventually this law was expanded to include other significant trends as well (describing the growth in computer power in terms of price/performance).

This law is important as it can be used, with the law of accelerating returns, to predict the singularity.

The law of accelerating returns describes that systems that evolve will do so exponentially until it 'hits a wall' (ie. biological evolution) unless it goes through a paradigm shift in which case the exponential growth can continue (ie. vacuum tube computers to microprocessors).

With this knowledge - some futurists can predict the future very accurately, within a certain standard deviation of a point of time in the future, given that such trends will continue unabated.


The Law of Accelerating Returns -

Moore's Law -

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

On demand manufacturing

Manufacture and Sell Anything — in Minutes
By Ian Mount
03.24.08 6:00 PM

Jeffrey Wegesin is a furniture maker. His most popular creation is a curvaceous side table, and even though he has sold only two copies of it, he has already turned a profit. He did it without so much as setting foot in a wood shop. And he is not alone. Wegesin is one of 5,000 merchants who have established accounts with Ponoko, a year-old on-demand manufacturing service in New Zealand. Designers upload their blueprints to Ponoko's servers; when a customer places an order, Ponoko's laser cutters automatically trim wood and plastic to create the product on the spot. Wegesin, a Web designer, sells the tables through the site for $250, not including shipping. He then pays Ponoko $124 for each table to cover the cost of materials and cutting fees. The $252 he's brought in so far may not be much, but because he incurred no up-front costs it comes as pure profit.

Welcome to the age of the instapreneur. With nothing more than a design, amateurs can manufacture jewelry, robots, T-shirts, furniture — anything. No warehouses. No minimum orders. And no money down. The digital economy isn't just digital; the same market forces that allowed midlist musicians to make a living distributing their songs online now give amateur clothiers the chance to sell their wares without having to persuade Barney's buyers to carry them.

Thousands are launching instant businesses. Zazzle, of Redwood City, California, offers a dizzying array of user-designed products from posters to tennis shoes. StyleShake, a custom-clothing site in London, received 25,000 dress designs in its first three months. Spreadshirt, founded in Leipzig, Germany, hosts 500,000 individual T-shirt shops. "These companies significantly lower the threshold for someone to bring anything to market," says Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms. "There's an industrial-age bias that you need volume to support a factory; but with this, much-more-creative low-volume businesses become viable."

These are not just CaféPress-style in-jokes — T-shirts and mugs meant to appeal to a small circle of friends. According to Spreadshirt CEO Jana Eggers, her site saw a 30 percent increase last year in the number of North American shop partners that sold more than 1,000 shirts annually. Even CaféPress has become a bona fide business platform. Jim Gamble, a Bay Area entrepreneur, uses the site to sell 50,000 of his T-shirts and bumper stickers — all emblazoned with conservative political slogans — every year, giving him an income "well into the six figures," he says.

Large brands are starting to see the appeal of manufacturing-as-a-service, too. Lexus recently used Blurb, an on-demand publisher, to print 1,800 copies of a book promoting the automaker's green practices. Franchises from Dilbert to the Discovery Channel sell licensed merchandise on CaféPress. Disney has uploaded more than 3,500 of its designs to Zazzle, allowing the company to sell a wider range of products than just the blockbuster Mickey Mouse T-shirts favored by conventional retailers. The service also gives the Disney machine unprecedented agility. "Here, I can see that Hannah Montana is taking off, we can upload a design right into Zazzle's system, and in a day or two it's a product," says Patrick Haley, senior manager of customization for

As everyone gains the ability to create and sell anything, the long tail will apply to making things as well as to selling them. may be able to offer near-infinite inventory, but only as long as the products exist. On-demand manufacturing could eliminate that constraint, leading to a world where products are always available, nothing ever gets discontinued, and the virtual shelves are always stocked.