Monday, November 16, 2015

Send in the Actuaries aka Rule of Law

I walked past a guy having an angry rant against muslims on the street today. We're screwed. Really.

I actually don't really know what went down in Paris, the details I know is roughly 130 people dead, the assailants showed up at a concert, a restaurant and several other civilian targets. And one of them said something to do with Syria.

That's as much as I know, and more detail I earnestly don't care about.

I'm sure conspiracy theories already exist, and that is but one extreme of stupidity. The far more normal stupidity committed en masse and abetted by our news cycle, is confirmation bias. Those looking for proof that ISIS and Islam, Terrorism in general is out to destroy the western world for whatever fiendish general inherent badness that causes these acts.

And like a belief that vaccination causes autism, sense is much harder to reastablish than whooping cough, polio etc.

And I wouldn't blame the media, because they are a business. They are under pressure to deliver news people want to hear. News that maintains interest and switches viewers on. I feel the major deficit is in our leadership. And I imagine leadership everywhere has been hearing 'we have to respond to this.'

I would like to see my leadership take a response that is not so much humane as simply human. To say 'we've been hurt and we need to grieve' coming from our leaders, with reassurances that the police, and not civilians on the street are the ones under pressure to deal with the crime committed.

And here I possibly get harsh, maybe even sound psychotically dispassionate. But not only do I want terrorism to be dealt with by police (rather than state vs state warfare, with drone bombs etc) but I'd like the leadership to consult with people who cost terrorism right. Because the problem with public opinion is that it's the same minds that can't figure out the odds of Deal or No Deal, the average person gets tricked out by shit all the time, simple shit.

Like in Thinking Fast And Slow - their example was that a ball and a bat together cost $1.10 and the bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? 10c right? Wrong, 5c. But that 10c is the quick and instant intuitive wrong answer that crops up first in most people's minds. And while people have the capacity to smell the trap and quickly correct themselves before blurting out the first (wrong) answer that comes into their mind, we routinely make mistakes like this without picking it up.

Which is why I want somebody in the leadership circle saying '129 people were killed. By comparison, a lone gunman in Norway in 2011 killed 67 people. The 2004 Madrid train bombings killed 191 people. The 2001 September 11 attacks killed 2977 civilians. The 2002 Bali Bombings killed 202 people.' and just lay down the numbers.

Then some actuary to way up the costs, both human, and financial in the 'classic' response to these attacks. Particularly on the human side, the number of civilian casualties in Iraq alone, from 2004-2011 is more than all the fatalities from terrorist attacks in the west put together by a margin of 100,000.

And I understand the reasons that the fact that civilian deaths at weddings as the result of drone strikes authorised on insultingly minimal intelligence are not reported to the public on a daily basis. But if the world is 'to change forever' in the wake of Paris' attacks, I for one can only hope that it changes in the notion that it's much harder for the powerful to attack the weak now, without it coming back on us.

Regardless of who started it, or what noble cause. The simple fact of the matter is, that if a nation state cant reasonably hit back against the west (indeed the only chance an Afghani or Iraqi combatant has to kill a US or European soldier is if we ship our soldiers over to them). What the weak can do, is attack us where we are weak. And it takes a tremendous amount of effort and coordination for a terror cell to kill a number of civilians that is easily inflicted on whichever nation they represent by drone strikes with monotonous regularity.

And the fact is that the more effective we get at 'fighting' terrorism, the worse terrorism gets. This is one where we need to stop struggling. Because all the decision makers, all the active players win. Civilians pick up the tab.

Civilians don't need to pay for a problem to get worse. They need to grieve, they need to be told to grieve. To sit at home and just cry their heart out.

Remember that scene in Inglorious Basterds? Where the good guys get found out because the British German-Speaker holds three fingers up the English way, rather than the German way? We don't live in that world anymore, where one can so easily be convicted based on foreigness. Those fucking days are gone and they aren't coming back.

The Paris attacks are to a leader, a decision maker, ultimately negligible in terms of the real costs. The psychological costs are what are hard to deal with. Just as it is more likely that your daughter will be killed in your friends pool, than it is to get killed by your friends gun. The former is tragic where the later causes outrage. And civilians getting killed going about their day in the west is outrageous. It breaks a social contract that simply doesn't exist for most people in the world.

A nation that gets outraged about this breaking of a social contract, or 'the sanctity of the theatre' as Nolan described the shootings at an opening of The Dark Knight Rises. Anyway, nations that find this outrageous can't have it both ways. As in, you can't be enjoying the economic benefits of subjecting other nations to these outrages.

Independent agents, furthermore should not be the decision makers for which states go to war with which states. Some ISIS members should not be able to trigger enough wrath to bring down on the nation of Syria and its people.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Visualisation Epiphany

The work doesn't come out like I envision, because I can't actually envision it. This is an expansion of my earlier revelation (by a couple of years) that I don't know what anybody looks like. Which isn't to say I can't recognise people I know. I'm not face blind, but when you sit down without photo reference and try and draw somebody, it exposes that your mind doesn't actually keep a photo in it of a person's face or better yet a 3d model. Instead there's some mental shortcut of a few features and maybe some measurements of how far apart.

In the same way, an idea is not a picture in your head. Just a few floating elements in space.

It's not bad, it's just that you sometimes need to work shit out on the page, 3 or 4 times before it comes together.