Happy_Shredder's recent activity

  1. Comment on Multi-format text editor with chain-of-command processing in ~comp

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    Mmm, I see. Any solution that's simple for non devs but still more powerful than s/.../.../g is challenging. Working with pandoc seems sensible, and lua is nice too. With pandoc you have the ast...

    Mmm, I see. Any solution that's simple for non devs but still more powerful than s/.../.../g is challenging.

    Working with pandoc seems sensible, and lua is nice too. With pandoc you have the ast so you can do anything, although details may be difficult.

    Because Lisps have very little syntax you can get creative and strip out a lot of complexity. For example, $(foo) could be for a simple find and replace. $(foo > bar > baz) could access children in the input/ast. $(fn (foo)) could further process foo with fn. Maybe it's useful to be able to set and reference variables in the document? I think some structured input makes more sense. Key value pairs, flow control, and hierarchy (or namespaces) should go most of the way. So you could invent a dsl for this, but with a nice grammar you can now take yaml, toml whatever defining variables and have a really slick structured interpolation system.

    It's certainly the sort of thing where I'd want a corpus of examples to influence and constrain design. It's hard for me to imagine any serious details. (e.g. Keep everything in one doc and process that vs combining arbitrary input with a template.)

    2 votes
  2. Comment on Multi-format text editor with chain-of-command processing in ~comp

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    Mmm, ok I see what you mean. In principle you could extend pandoc to do that sort of thing, as the pandoc-moustache example does, but I think what you want is quite a different tool. pandoc simply...

    Mmm, ok I see what you mean. In principle you could extend pandoc to do that sort of thing, as the pandoc-moustache example does, but I think what you want is quite a different tool. pandoc simply translates text from one format to another based on templates (already a serious task) which is actually quite different to interpolation. I'm not aware of any tools which do this perfectly generically.

    Having put no thought into this, the direction I would go for would be to just embed lisp phrases in my documents and then write a small compiler to process everything. This keeps everything integrated in my text-based workflow. And as a lisp, I can do everything. One approach would be a header defining global variables and various metaprocessing characteristics. Each lisp phrase would accept some input, process it as required, and return a string. Tie it all together by defining how each phrase interacts and how to pass input to each phrase and the whole thing could fall it fairly neatly.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Multi-format text editor with chain-of-command processing in ~comp

    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    May not be quite what you're looking for, but I get a lot out of vim+pandoc 1. Pandoc is a little bit magic and handles transforming text with templates and variables etc very cleanly. I just like...

    May not be quite what you're looking for, but I get a lot out of vim+pandoc 1. Pandoc is a little bit magic and handles transforming text with templates and variables etc very cleanly. I just like vim and a few choice plugins go a long way.

    Plus I like separating out editing from processing; it's more intuitive to me, and allows a great deal of flexibility.

    If you do want to go down this path, consider Qt. The QTextArea widget can display html and rich text.

    1 Vim config here.

    3 votes
  4. Comment on Wind turbine blades can’t be recycled, so they’re piling up in landfills - Companies are searching for ways to deal with the tens of thousands of blades that have reached the end of their lives in ~enviro

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    I think several different ideas are getting conflated here (I don't want to talk about communalism i.e. how do you get everyone to help and share work is a whole thing on its own). Let me try and...

    I think several different ideas are getting conflated here (I don't want to talk about communalism i.e. how do you get everyone to help and share work is a whole thing on its own). Let me try and tease them apart, and bring it back to how dealing with the profit motive can help reduce environmental costs without effecting innovation or production (apologies, this might be a bit long).

    First, consider a socialist critique of capitalism:

    • All businesses, whether sole trader, small, company, or corporate, must be profitable. (Profit here is tangible i.e. capital).
    • All businesses must have enough income to cover the cost of doing business. This includes various goods and services (e.g. raw materials and legal), general costs (e.g. stationary), and wages & salaries.
    • All businesses must make a profit above this to cover debts, and, in the case of publically tradeable businesses, generate profit for shareholders.
    • Some businesses may try and generate profit beyond this, because under capitalist idealogy accumulation of personal wealth is associated with personal value and morality (i.e. some people just want to be millionaires).
    • The pursuit of profit is not the same thing public good. Almost anything can be profitable, especially if you have a monopoly, or capture the market in some fashion. Optimal allocation and public good are ill-defined because they depend on some value system.
    • Hence, we expect to see (and do indeed see) some humanitarian and environmental cost in the process of seeking profit. Standard examples include the exploitation of workers and pollution.1
    • By rearranging society so people don't have to seek profit these humanitarian and environmental effects go away. (Strictly speaking, the effects caused by profit seeking go away. They can still arise from other mechanisms; there is no utopia, no panacea, no easy solutions. Any proposed socialist system which still encourages e.g. exploitation and pollution is a failed solution). 2

    In considering socialist realisations, one needs to consider timescales. We can imagine post-scarcity societies e.g. The Culture, The Federation, but these are technologically unattainable in the near future. It's easy to state a goal i.e. we want a free and fair and equal society, with no exploitation and no pollution and so on. But figuring out the specifics of these hypothetical societies is essentially impossible because (1) we don't have the prerequisite technology and (2) people and systems are complicated; it's difficult to accurately predict the consequences of some change, and to theorise in detail on how to transition from one system to another. The idea "society would be better without profit" (as per above) is an aspirational idea. It's not an idea that can be interrogated in detail, it's too vague. Maybe it's possible, maybe it's not.

    Instead, it's more useful to consider what we can do right here and now that respects the vision, and moves us towards the goal. I personally reject revolution, and instead am interested in evolutionary changes. Each change should be atomic i.e. helpful in its own right, but when taken together could change society significantly.

    Now, while the above critique in principle applies to all businesses, in practice most of the humanitarian and environmental cost comes from large businesses and in particular corporations.3 Because of the scale and scope of e.g. Rio Tinto, Coca Cola, Facebook these sort of companies can inflict massive amounts of damage, far beyond say, your local fish and chippery.4 So I'm interested in (1) limiting the power of large corporations and (2) improving the quality of communities and the agency of individuals.

    Consider, for example:

    • the controlled shutdown of the fossil fuel industry
    • wealth taxes
    • limiting the number of employees + contractors
    • limiting mergers and aquisitions of other businesses
    • limiting executive pay + bonuses
    • transitioning to worker owned businesses (e.g. start by mandating 30% of workers on the board, increase this over several years; introduce worker owned business structures and give tax incentives to register as such, then slowly phase out the corporate structure)
    • actually enforcing taxes
    • weighting fines by wealth (for both individuals and corporations)
    • meaningful enforcement of environmental regulations
    • heavy investment in distributed power production
    • heavy investment in urban, suburban, and community farming
    • phasing out complicated welfare systems in favour if some style of UBI (e.g. one payment+extras for kids, initially income tested, then transition for everyone)
    • expanding available government startup funds
    • a federal ICAC

    And so on. I don't want to talk about any of these in detail, they are all huge topics in their own right.

    Anyway, bringing this back to profit, consider that the claim 'profit is good for society' is really several claims:

    • profit is the best way to encourage workers
    • profit is the best way to encourage starting businesses
    • profit is just in general the best motivation (or more strongly, capital profit is the only motivation)
    • profit is the best way to allocate resources (i.e. the market is the best way to allocate resources) 5
    • profit is the best way to make decisions

    We've discussed aspects of this; hopefully I've been able to suggest that we don't necessarily have to rely on profit for motivation, nor is profit really related to the best decisions for society (and yes, horrible things can happen without the profit motive). Further, and I don't know how to argue this more clearly, I don't think that good ideas or innovations have anything to do with profit directly, simply because the world is full of people making interesting things and sharing interesting ideas without directly making a profit. And so maybe the full radical vision is possible. For the moment, we are stuck with a market and any practical socialist proposal needs to work with this. There's no way to instantly change society, there must be a transitional period. I think it's quite reasonable to wind down the profit motive a bit at a time, particularly at scale. 6 Transitioning away from the profit motive doesn't mean instantly dropping wages and salaries. 7

    To conclude, consider a hypothetical wind turbine manufacturer. They're worker owned, minimising worker exploitation. They're privately held, with a strict tiered wage structure (like in academia), so don't need to pursue tremendous profits or growth.8 They have a government contract, so have a guaranteed demand. They have a legal mandate to produce minimal waste, and so engineer in an environmentally friendly way, as best they can. Similarly, they are buying resources from other businesses arranged in a similar fashion. So resources move around, wages get paid, and the cost to the planet is minimised; they are free to innovate as interested or otherwise motivated. 9

    1 Pursuit of endless growth is a significant issue too; it's entirely unsustainable (assuming nonasymptotic growth).
    2 The environmental cost comes from direct profit seeking, not indirect.
    3 Of course, if your local businesses are using slavery, or burning down forests for land, this is problematic and could be dealt with. There's always exceptions when it comes to people!
    4 There are other issues related to the nature of the corporate structure, and the share system.
    5 Arguably, the market doesn't know what the most optimal allocation of resources is. Whether or not researching carbon sequestration is more profitable than recycling turbine blades is kind of irrelevant because optimal allocation isn't necessarily well defined. What the market does is make a decision, and likely much more rapidly than some central planning comittee. Consider too that most R&D comes from universities and government labs; good ideas will still arise without profit (but may need to be developed by private industry).
    6 I'd like to argue the transition should be as fast as possible, before we run out of planet.
    7 Dropping wages and salaries implies some post-scarcity AGI run society.
    8 We don't need billion dollar companies; arguably any organisation that big should be community or government run (and not-for-profit!).
    9 To reiterate: because this hypothetical business cannot grow endlessly and cannot seek enormous profits, they don't need to cut costs or try and produce as cheaply as possible or heavily market utter crap or whatever. The standard sorts of environmental and humanitarian costs go away. Researching better recycling and carbon sequestration (or whatever) is still going to happen in the public sector, and can still be developed in the private. It becomes a matter of (a) is there funding, (b) is it interesting, (c) is it useful, (d) are there rewards, (e) are there tax breaks, (f) does it make the world a better place, (g) do we have to, to meet government environmental requirements (consider waste credits; if you produce x waste you need to make up for it with y innovations), (h) will this help us pivot, and so on. There are so many more motivations than just profit.

  5. Comment on Wind turbine blades can’t be recycled, so they’re piling up in landfills - Companies are searching for ways to deal with the tens of thousands of blades that have reached the end of their lives in ~enviro

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    For profit =/= socially beneficial either. Slavery is profitable. Burning down forests is profitable. The fossil fuel industry is profitable. Surveillance is profitable. And so on; in our current...

    For profit =/= socially beneficial either. Slavery is profitable. Burning down forests is profitable. The fossil fuel industry is profitable. Surveillance is profitable. And so on; in our current system all life is subordinate to profit. We can throw environmental and worker protection regulations around (and we should, it's better than laissez-faire) but laws are reactionary and specific. I'd rather try and fix the problem at the fundamentals.

    Yes, in transitioning to a new system we still have to pay people. I'd like to see progress towards universal guaranteed survival, so people don't have to work to survive. There's enough food and land to share.

    So what if some people don't want to work? There's more people than there is work anyway, and the disparity gets worse as more menial labour is automated away. And social obligations are powerful; a fairly standard approach for dealing with getting dirty work done in a community is to have everyone do it. And if you persistently refuse, well then you're not welcome in the community anymore.

  6. Comment on Wind turbine blades can’t be recycled, so they’re piling up in landfills - Companies are searching for ways to deal with the tens of thousands of blades that have reached the end of their lives in ~enviro

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    I'm not convinced the profit motive's so important in innovation. Sure, if you want to make something you need initial capital; this can self funded, bank loans, government grants, or private...

    I'm not convinced the profit motive's so important in innovation. Sure, if you want to make something you need initial capital; this can self funded, bank loans, government grants, or private investment. Only in the last case is the profit motive important: rich people invest some of their wealth in a startup in the hope of making more money (and there's a whole complicated apparatus supporting this) .

    But the profit motive has also given us the climate crisis, every oil spill, Bopal, enormous amounts of plastic waste, and so on. 1 There's a litany of human and environmental cost, arising essentially because companies have to make money, to pay off debts, to pay shareholders, to profit their investors, and for personal gain. Given this cost I see real motivation trying to find another way to run society.

    The world is full of people doing interesting things for no profit (artists, scientists, hobbyists...). There's all sorts of reasons outside of profit someone might start a small business: to develop an interesting idea, dignity in work, freedom in work etc.

    Do you think the profit motive is really that important? Is the human and environmental cost justified? Can you imagine other ways to fund startups?

    1 There's a whole extra discussion here about whether markets really do provide the most efficient distribution of resources. And also how socialist ideas fit in; can we make the market work better for people?

  7. Comment on What's good about nationalism? in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    In general I'm critical of nation states as a concept and so am critical of nationalism. However, there are two obvious, positive examples of nationalism: Sinn Fean and Nelson Mandela. These...

    In general I'm critical of nation states as a concept and so am critical of nationalism. However, there are two obvious, positive examples of nationalism: Sinn Fean and Nelson Mandela. These people have and continue to fight for an autonomous nation because they want to see their people free from oppression. Self determination is something I value highly.

    In contrast, fascists and Tories and the Republican party and Bolsinaro and so on advocate nationalism for personal advancement and power. These groups use the nation for oppression, not liberty.

    I don't think we have a huge problem with nationalism here in Aus today. There are white nationalists in Parliament; I think the core political problem here is more how disconnected Parliament is from the people and reality. Historically European white nationalists commited genocide, executed pogroms, systematically prevented "undesirables " from entering the country, and stole thousands of children from their parents. More recently, first peoples have been made criminals on their own land and hundreds of refugees have been dumped in concentration camps for the mistake of being brown and poor. Pretty horrible all round.

    3 votes
  8. Comment on What's a widely criticized thing that you feel is worth defending? in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    Sure, that's all fair. Transitioning from one system to another, and scaling are certainly outstanding issues. I'm optimistic that a class free society is possible, and would suggest that a multi...

    Sure, that's all fair. Transitioning from one system to another, and scaling are certainly outstanding issues.

    I'm optimistic that a class free society is possible, and would suggest that a multi generational shift is necessary. I'm not sure I could argue it formally.

    Similarly, I don't have a clear vision of scaling. It's possible that interconnected small communities is sufficient.

    3 votes
  9. Comment on What's a widely criticized thing that you feel is worth defending? in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    The "no true socialism" argument is worth inspecting a little more closely, I feel. Consider the central principle of socialism --- that a social economy will lead to a society based on universal...

    The "no true socialism" argument is worth inspecting a little more closely, I feel. Consider the central principle of socialism --- that a social economy will lead to a society based on universal liberty and justice --- follows from the central criticism of capitalism: that capitalism has a tremendous humanitarian and environmental cost.

    (i) Just because socialism fails (by some measure) doesn't invalidate the criticism.

    Now, this principle is very general, vague enough to be useless by itself. The next step is to construct a realisation. Socialism is then some principles, and a set of economies.

    (ii) If we propose a realisation of socialism, and try to implement it, and do not get a class-free, just, and liberal society, then the proposed realisation has failed. The capitalist criticism still stands, and other realisations can be investigated.

    Lenin's proposal --- central market planning and the dictatorship of the proletariat --- didn't come from nowhere. Lenin really believed that this would result in communism. There was strong theory from the 19th century supporting these ideas. And, of course, much criticism. That criticism continued after the revolution; Kropotkon and Orwell are popular examples. Leninism devolved into Stalinism, which in turn yielded Maoism, which then gave us Juche. Criticism of these societies abounds: the atrocities are of course indefensible. And on a theoretical level they failed to realise socialism and should be considered as state capitalism, or something similar.

    Why did the Soviet Union fail? People write enormous books answering this question. In short, externalities and inherent flaws combined. This question really does deserve a deep analysis, and we should not rely on paltry excuses, as you say.

    More interesting are the successful examples. Without going into details, consider:

    • Australia's Medicare system relies on central market planning.
    • Exarchia, an anarchist community in Greece responsible for saving many refugees that's been around for a century.
    • East Wind, an income sharing agricultural community in the Ozarks, around since the 70s.
    • Free software, as a principle and in practice reflects socialism.
    • Rojava, in northern Syria, an autonomous region since 2012, run along direct democracy and socialist lines.
    • Catalonia has a rich history in this space e.g. the anarchist and Marxist militia which fought the fascists in 1937, as well as various small communities.

    In general, I agree, we shouldn't be too quick to laud our preferred politics, or to rely on glib answers to criticism. Unfortunately, online it is difficult to take the time and space to really dig into serious issues and discussion. But if you are interested, there is a huge body of literature on the history, successes, and failures of socialism. It might be worth engaging with.

    14 votes
  10. Comment on Is sex work bad? in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    What's the difference between sex work and other labour? Clearly rape and forced labour are different economically; rape is a particular kind of extreme personal violation and harm, it's unrelated...

    What's the difference between sex work and other labour?

    Clearly rape and forced labour are different economically; rape is a particular kind of extreme personal violation and harm, it's unrelated to class struggle etc. Prison labour and sex slavery are certainly related: both are slavery and involve gross exploitation, abuse, and oppression, although for the latter there's a greater degree of trauma.

    (noting that yes there is a practical difference between labour for service and labour for goods production, but the general principle of exploitation applies widely)

    2 votes
  11. Comment on Is sex work bad? in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    All work is exploitative. Everyone 1 sells themselves. They sell their hands, their minds, their body, their skills. There's nothing unique about sex work. The only issue is that in places with...

    All work is exploitative. Everyone 1 sells themselves. They sell their hands, their minds, their body, their skills. There's nothing unique about sex work. The only issue is that in places with poor regulation/protections for sex workers many are are trafficked, which is a form of modern slavery 2.

    In principle sex work businesses could be worker owned, which would eliminate exploitation.

    Porn's interesting cos there's a huge amount of amateur production, i.e. voluntary and self produced, potentially with no profit involved at all. So again there may be no exploitation at all.

    Also, if you haven't seen it philosophy tube has an interesting video on this topic.

    1 Aside from the capitalist class, academics, and self-employed people.

    2 And a stronger form of slavery than the wage slavery of other exploited workers.

    7 votes
  12. Comment on What are your unpopular game opinions? in ~games

    Happy_Shredder
    Link Parent
    Yeah you need to try and decide for yourself. (but still it's just so broken)

    Yeah you need to try and decide for yourself. (but still it's just so broken)

  13. Comment on On Vice in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    Vice as a criminal law category doesn't really exist in Aus. Some drugs are illegal; gambling, alcohol, and sex work1 are legal and regulated. I don't like gambling, but the other vices are...

    Vice as a criminal law category doesn't really exist in Aus. Some drugs are illegal; gambling, alcohol, and sex work1 are legal and regulated.

    I don't like gambling, but the other vices are awesome. As far as I'm concerned, all vices should be legal and sensibly regulated.

    1 for completeness, note that the law and specific status (legal vs decriminalised) varies by state.

    4 votes
  14. Comment on What are your unpopular game opinions? in ~games

    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    Dark Souls isn't hard. It's just badly broken. Broken controls, broken camera, broken movement, broken combat. The game punishes you just for trying to move around and interact with the world....

    Dark Souls isn't hard. It's just badly broken. Broken controls, broken camera, broken movement, broken combat. The game punishes you just for trying to move around and interact with the world. Difficulty should come from level design, interesting enemies, coöperating enemies, clever enemies.

    20 votes
  15. Comment on How do you people at universities handle your notes? in ~talk

    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    What I ended up doing (after trying many digital/analogue options) was simply taking by hand rough notes in lectures, then rewriting in another notebook in detail, especially filling in gaps and...

    What I ended up doing (after trying many digital/analogue options) was simply taking by hand rough notes in lectures, then rewriting in another notebook in detail, especially filling in gaps and details. In the rewriting step I could take the time to ensure I actually understood the material, assumptions and approximations, and how to work with it. Kind of ended up with mini handwritten textbooks.

    2 votes
  16. Comment on Recommend me a song based just on one line (or couplet) in its lyrics. in ~music

  17. Comment on Recommend me a song based just on one line (or couplet) in its lyrics. in ~music