There are two kinds of karmic retribution.

The first kind is intrinsic. Every choice has consequences. Choices of kindness, love, beauty, creativity, reality and consciousness have a harmonizing effect on the spiritual body. They make the spiritual substance coherent, regular, organized and compact. Every kind of spiritual understanding, the kind that is relevant and meaningful, removes gaps and lower-energy inclusions from the spiritual body. Every sin creates fractures and reduces specific energy of segments that are involved in the decision. Sufficient amount of weakening can result in fragmentation of the entire structure and, after the end of physical continuity, independent reincarnation of the fragments. There is only one worse form of spiritual degradation, and that is loss of inner cohesion of the soul to the point of complete disintegration, where none of the resulting fragments is capable of forming a consciousness. This is the final, true death of the soul, which is possible only if a soul violates the fundamental principles that made its existence possible in the first place.

This first kind is mostly unknown outside the expert circles; the advanced practitioners of yoga and vipassana know of it, because both the inner-space kriya of the Kundalini-yoga-sadhana and vipassana work at reconstruction of the soul-substance with intelligent effort, with the goal of transforming the soul into something of a much higher order. Outside of those circles, the inner workings of karma on soul-structure are mostly unknown, and soul is wrongly considered to be a constant and unchangeable entity surrounded by a layer of past karma. This is the second kind of karma, and it is both easier and more difficult to understand.

It’s easier to understand because everybody and their dog talk about it. It’s more difficult to understand because everyone and their dog are wrong, but something along those lines still exists. It doesn’t exist as an outside layer of karmic filth that needs to be worked out. It doesn’t exist as a page in God’s book of one’s past deeds. It does exist, however, although the actual mechanics are a bit difficult to understand without an analogy.

You see, your existence as a soul rests upon certain foundations. One of those foundations is your relationship with sat-cit-ananda, with brahman. The second foundation is the relationship between individual kalapas, the spiritual particles that make your soul. If the particles “love” each other, there is cohesion between them; the attractive forces prevail. If they “hate” each other, if they are in intrinsic conflict because of some action that cannot be internally reconciled, the repulsive forces prevail and the substance fractures. Also, if inclusions form within the substance that are of significantly lower energy than the rest of the material, it behaves like a strong rock with weak inclusions, or bricks connected with weak adhesive. It’s not that it necessarily falls apart, but the total structural integrity of the soul is weaker than its maximum potential. In order for the maximum potential of the soul to be realized, the weak inclusions need to be transformed, and that is accomplished by attaining higher understanding that removes spiritual weakness.

The extrinsic karma might actually be God’s reaction to your form of existence, but it’s more formal and mathematical than that. It’s as if we compress coiled springs with our actions, and they are released when the entire span of consequences of our actions is completed. Let’s say you promised to meet someone at 4 PM. If you lied and never had an intention of meeting him, this already influences your soul, but has no extrinsic consequences. You can also change your mind, and as long as it is possible for you to do so and fulfill your promise, the act isn’t final. However, when the window of opportunity passes, the act is final and the effect on your soul is complete. You suffered an intrinsic karmic reaction. The extrinsic karmic reaction is a more complex one, and I’m not actually sure how it all works, I only know what it does. The effect your actions had on other souls are important. It’s not just about you and your relationship to yourself; others matter. When you harm someone he gets a claim on you, your natural spiritual protections are weakened towards that person, and that person can hurt you, can basically influence your spiritual fate to a degree to which the harm you inflicted upon that person was serious and intentional. As you influence the world around you, you incur debts as well as obligations. Debts are usually repaid with pain, and obligations with kindness. You don’t live in a vacuum. Your actions that concern others can leave you in debt, and therefore at someone’s mercy. This can occasionally become so important, that your relationship with yourself and God becomes secondary; if you harmed others gravely and maliciously, they can completely determine your destiny. People think that murder is the worst kind of crime or a karmic offense, but that is not so; there are worse, more damaging things. Personal betrayals result in grave debts. Offending a worthy person is usually such a bad spiritual crime, that even one such action can completely doom you, unless you recanted and made reparations, and those reparations were accepted. Also, torture, defined as intentional malicious use of the limitations that physical plane inflicts upon a soul, in order to maximize suffering of the soul, is a much worse offense than murder, and the punishments are grave. The same goes for rape, defined as using physical limitations imposed upon a soul to inflict sexual humiliation and involuntary submission. In any case where you use the opportunities, presented by the limitations imposed by physical incarnation, to harm, humiliate, offend, restrict or deceive a soul, instead of spreading knowledge and joy and truth, and acting with kindness in order to ease the pain of others and point them towards the light of God, every time you choose darkness over light, you increase the power of darkness over yourself, you reduce the ability of light to save you, and you give yourself into the power of your victims, to do with you as they see fit.

The problem with this aspect of karma is that it’s automatic, it’s stupid, it doesn’t recognize complexity and sophistication of actions. You suffer a karmic backlash even for the pain inflicted with the purpose of doing good and helping. You do, however, obtain a karmic benefit for doing the good that you intended. As I said, it’s stupid, it’s automatic, and good intentions don’t justify harm. There are no excuses, there are no exceptions, and the rules are universal. It works on you regardless of whether you’re a God or an ordinary soul. This stupid aspect of karma is dangerous as hell and you don’t want to fuck with it. I know quite well how it works since I had to suffer severe karmic backlashes in the process of helping some people in the only way that I knew would work, and regardless of how thankful they were when it worked. I still had to take a serious karmic blow. There’s no amnesty, no forgiveness, no mercy, nothing. It’s as automatic as gravity. It doesn’t think, it doesn’t judge, it doesn’t deliberate. It’s a formula that works, always, without exceptions, on anyone.

You can fuck with it if you’re suicidal enough, though. I know of a spiritual entity who did just that. You see, there are tricks for postponing reactive karma of this kind, and I’m not about to teach you those, and as a warning, the only person who tried this kind of a dance was very successful; he kept it going for millennia, and slipped only once. The backlash was swift, immediate and deadly and he no longer exists as a spiritual entity, the backlash completely extinguished his spiritual continuity and ability to form consciousness. He was powerful to the point of calling himself immortal and eternal, he committed unspeakable acts against innumerable souls and he thought he was untouchable, and yet it was a fraction of a second between a slip and final death for him. I watched. It took me quite a while to be able to believe he’s actually gone.

So, be kind to other beings, and don’t think you can ever justify harsh actions. Nobody is listening to your justifications, the punishment is administered automatically and without appeal. Every time I had to resort to harshness I was aware that there would be a price for me to pay, and I went into it with full awareness of the consequences and with my entire skill. Every bad thought has a price, every harsh word has a price, every evil deed has a price, and there is no way to weasel out, there is no forgiveness, there is no consideration of intent. It simply doesn’t care, and it doesn’t care whether you knew about it or not. It’s like jumping out of a window. Gravity works and the impact hurts you regardless of your motives for jumping, and regardless of your understanding of gravity. Intrinsic karma is a bitch, but it’s a bitch with brains. Extrinsic karma is a sledge hammer. It’s pure momentum, unthinking, inevitable, merciless. Never, ever fuck with it. God might forgive you but karma will crush you regardless, and if you think you can justify your acts before God, you’re barking at the wrong tree, because God can’t really forgive you. If He forgave you, karma would crush Him instantly. Why do you think Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross if God is above karma? If God was above karma He could wave his finger and forgive everyone. No, he had to have flesh stripped off his bones with whips and he had to die humiliated and ridiculed, powerless, in order to produce significant but limited karmic effect. That’s the problem with karma: in order to forgive someone you need to pay his debts. It’s not some touchy-feely bullshit where you forgive your enemies and everybody is happy and hugs trees. No, if you forgive your enemies you get to be crucified for their sins, while they laugh at you and spit at you and enjoy your apparent demise.

Don’t fuck with karma. Not if you don’t know what you’re doing, and especially if you think you do.

About Donald Trump’s campaign

The cornerstone argument of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is that open borders, and especially free trade agreements, are harming America and weakening its economic position.

When a country that has dominant economic position, in a sense that it has internal markets sufficiently big as to reduce the costs of manufacturing goods to the point where no other power can compete with it fairly because they can’t produce goods cheaply enough to make a profit selling them competitively, this country will benefit from advocating open borders and free trade agreements, because open borders mean that their industry will destroy the weaker countries’ industries, and opening borders to the free flow of people, goods and services only benefits them because they will get the best migrant workers from abroad (because, since the free market industry is competitive, there simply isn’t room for anyone who isn’t up to par), and foreign products cannot compete with theirs on either price or quality, so that isn’t a danger either.

A weaker country needs to close its borders to imported goods and services because a stronger country will always be able to leverage its greater markets in order to reduce manufacturing costs and will always be able to destroy economies of weaker countries and essentially turn them into colonies that need to import everything and finance it with debt.

You can recognize a strong country by the fact that it doesn’t need to introduce tariffs on imported goods, that it advocates open borders and that it issues credit to others in order for them to be able to buy imported goods.


If we take a look at the general trends of American economy, it has been financing its expenditures by debt, it’s been artificially inflating its GDP by issuing cheap credit to the venture capital firms who have been investing heavily into technology startups and inflating their market value far beyond any reality, and the purpose of that is to use the inflated GDP as backing for printing its fractional reserve currency. This means the Dollar is overstretched and maintained by artificial means. Also, the debt has been growing out of control. Debt to GDP ratio has exceeded 1, which would be worrying by itself, but since debt is real and GDP is artificially inflated, this is especially bad.

What it all actually shows is that America has been consistently spending more than it was making, and that’s been going on for the last few decades. In fact, since the debt graph looks like a good approximation of the exponential curve, the causes seem to be systemic.

But the greatest indicator, to me, is that a candidate advocating against free international trade seems to be winning the elections. So far, all CIA policy recommendations that advocated open borders and free trade came with a disclaimer which stated that such recommendations rest upon the assumption that America is the world’s strongest economy.

More than anything, Trump’s stated policy, its validity in the current state of the global economy, and its support by the disenfranchised citizens of USA, show that this implicit assumption is no longer valid.

Let’s assume that Trump does indeed win the presidency. Let’s assume that he implements his stated policies; he closes the borders, he stops immigration, he imposes obstacles to imports of goods and services into the USA. The USA companies are forced to concentrate on the domestic markets.

My quick-and-dirty simulation of the effects indicates that this will deflate the stock market bubble that maintains the fiction of the huge GDP. This will collapse the Dollar. USA will default on its debts since they are unserviceable in any case, and the entire economy will collapse into a stable state that reflects the actual market conditions. And this doesn’t even attempt to deal with the international fallout of such a huge disruption.

But this has nothing to do with Trump. If anything, he might actually make the transition more abrupt, but eventually less destructive. The current policies, that attempt to create some kind of a soft landing for America, are doomed and are only making the problem worse. In both cases, America will collapse. The indicators for that are overwhelming. However, with Trump America actually has a chance of achieving a stable state as an industrial, free-market country. With the socialists in power, it will achieve a stable state as a military dictatorship. People who see Trump as Hitler are wrong. Hitler was someone who was nothing without the power of the state behind him. As a free entrepreneur, he was nothing. Trump is the opposite of that. His entire power stems from his success in the free market. He doesn’t need the state to attain power, and is therefore not likely to start relying on the state as an end-all solution to all problems, as Hitler did. He’s going to rely on the real economy, on the healthy tissue. Hitler relied on the megalomaniacal fantasies of the state to compensate for his personal failures. Essentially, they are the opposites, and all similarities are actually fabrications designed by the socialist media in order to slander him, because they cannot stand his reality-based thinking.

The problem with Trump is that he relies too much on brute strength in solving problems. His attitude regarding torture and encryption shows that: Apple should yield to state authority and agree to break the encryption wall that protects its customers, torture should be used to extract data because America is in the position of strength there, and should use it in order to attain its goals. The problem is, the primary goal of America isn’t being strong. The primary goal of America is to be America. The primary goal is liberty and freedom and possibility, the primary goal is to abolish tyranny. The primary goal is to have a country in which those in power cannot imprison you without a trial and a due process, the primary goal is to limit the authority of the state over an individual, to make one’s property sacrosanct, to enable the individual to use force to defend his own, even against the state, because a state can become tyrannical. So the problem with making America great by Trump’s means is that it will no longer be America if it tramples on all the precepts set by its founders. Not using all means to achieve its ends, and not using the power of the state to pressure companies and individuals is what made America different from tyrannical superpowers like the Soviet Union or the Third Reich. What made America better than the Third Reich wasn’t technological supremacy. In fact, the Nazis had that. What made America better is that it was a place worth living in, as an individual. It had habeas corpus, it had The Bill of Rights, it had prohibition against unlawful detention, it had prohibition against cruel or unusual punishment, and it didn’t have the all-powerful state police.

So, what Trump should learn is that wielding a big stick can be a problem if you stumble and poke your eye out with it. Big sticks are not only a danger to others. There’s nothing wrong with the concept of making America great again, as long as you remember what made it America, and what made it great.

War as a thermodynamic phenomenon

When people think about hurricanes, they think of them in context of bad weather. I, however, think of them as a thermodynamic phenomenon of cooling the ocean, which accumulated too much energy from the Sun and, in context of seasonal change, releases the excess via entropy into the atmosphere until thermodynamic equilibrium is established.

People also think of war in terms of bloodshed and conflict of nations and ideologies and interests, but the more I think of it, I think of war in terms of a sociological hurricane – a thermodynamic phenomenon of equalizing energy potential (wealth and control of resources) of different groups of people in a situation when current distribution of resources doesn’t match the balance of power between the groups.

Let’s test my hypothesis on the example of two world wars. I am yet to see the satisfactory explanation of the First World War. Nobody seems to be able to tell the root cause. They can tell you the unimportant stuff, they can tell you how the events themselves unfolded, but none of it explains why the great colonial powers felt such a strong itch to go into war, jumping on the first casus belli that presented itself as if war promised more than peace. None of it makes sense – the Austro-Hungarian empire, for instance, was seriously itching to go into war, for which it was the least well prepared of all great powers. Germany was better prepared, and it too itched to go into battle against Russia before it grew unstoppably powerful due to its ongoing industrialization, and yet the end result of the war was a near-destruction and humiliation of Germany. Austro-Hungary didn’t survive the war – it broke apart and its constituents started their independent lives as unstable, immature states, whose erratic behavior seems to have boiled over into the second world war, and the process doesn’t seem finished even now. What are we seeing here, since it doesn’t seem to be motivated by obvious self-interest? We have a war that transformed the society and yet none of the parties involved seems to have benefited from it; all seem to have been disrupted and brought out of balance as a result.

As an alternative explanation, I came up with modernity. You see, the most significant aspect of modernity is change of the entire energy-structure of society. Prior to the explosion of science and technology, the entire society was solar-powered, in a sense that you had land on which you could grow plants, and domesticated animals which fed on those plants, and the amount of resources available to the society was more-less constant and determined by the amount of people who worked on the available land with primitive agricultural technology. Those people were treated as a basic resource that came with the land, and were divided among the warrior class which used force to conquer and dominate. Political power was measurable through the amount of agricultural land populated by serfs, that a nobleman controlled. Each nobleman could directly control only as much land, and the pyramid of power was established, with lower-tier noblemen who directly controlled the serfs who in turn controlled the land, and higher-tier noblemen who had lower-tier noblemen as underlings. The higher-tier noblemen were subjects to a king, who in turn was subject to the highest entity of civilizational cohesion, for instance the Pope. As long as the basic energy source of the civilization remained constant, this was a stable system.

However, with the ascent of technology, industry and free market, the energy structure of society changed, and it became possible to acquire wealth by means other than top-down distribution of force-acquired solar-powered resources. Inventors, industrialists and bankers acquired wealth that rivaled and soon greatly surpassed that of feudal solar-powered structures; the social leverage, essentially wealth, that was created with the invention of the steam engine or the mass-production of high quality steel, or fractional distillation of petroleum, or electricity, or artificial fertilizers, changed the entire energy structure of the society, while the entire social system relied upon an obsolete hierarchy that was established in the pre-industrial age and was ill-suited to handle the needs and challenges of modernity. This is why the entire society boiled over in order to establish a new thermodynamic equilibrium, a political and economic structure that was better suited for the open-ended energy model. One example of that is the abandonment of the gold standard of currency and adoption of the fractional reserve fiat currency, which is able to create new money based on GDP in order not to artificially constrict the economy of the state. This is absolutely necessary when you have a situation where a Rockefeller or a Tesla can invent an entirely new open-ended energy model which creates an extreme amount of new wealth that is not covered by the gold reserves. Unless you want to artificially appreciate gold and thus give the owners of gold reserves an unfair and undeserved amount of wealth, you need to grow the monetary supply by the amount that at least equals the growth of the real economy, and in fact anticipates further growth. Furthermore, you need to acknowledge that nobility no longer controls significant enough portion of the economy to warrant their special status, and political control of the country must take the new balance of power into account.

I see the two world wars as hurricane 1 and hurricane 2 of the same season, where the second one continued where the first one failed to finish the process of achieving thermodynamic balance. Whenever a group of people controls too much resources for the amount of actual power their wield in the current state of affairs, there will be a violent conflict that will establish the real state of affairs. An example of this is the conflict between the Europeans and the native Americans, who controlled too much land for their state of technological and military power, and were therefore wiped out in order to establish a thermodynamic equilibrium.

The Second World War and its aftermath allowed modernity to run its course and try to fulfill its promise, and when it mostly failed, it resulted in profound soul-searching and often destructive self-criticism within the Western civilization, which is now trying to figure out its fundamental guiding principles and its reason for being; essentially, it is trying to figure out whether it has a mandate, and has for the most part relinquished its dominant role, with inferior savages such as Muslims trying to fill the vacuum created by the Euro-American civilization’s unwillingness to assert itself in ways it previously did. Establishing “life”, without any further elaboration, as the supreme value, is indicative of this abdication of mandate.

To me, all the elements of a social thermodynamic storm are ready to produce an outward phenomenon that will redistribute energy across the system according to the new realities that are yet to fully establish themselves.

The long-term prospects

I’m going to let you in on a little secret about a doomsday device that threatens with mass extinction of the vast majority of all species on Earth, including mankind. This device has been created 41 million years ago and has been steadily working on cooling the planet down, reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, increasing the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator. It has cooled the planet down so much that the existence of permanent ice sheets on the poles has become the norm for the last few millions of years. Lately, it rendered the climate so fatally unstable, that the Milankovitch cycles, the small variations in orbital eccentricity, axial tilt and precession, have become sufficient to plunge the planet into ice ages – or, considering that we are in an ongoing ice age, we should call those the “glacial maximums”. Inevitably, as the process of global cooling progresses, those small variations will at one point cease to be sufficient for bringing the planet out from a glacial maximum, and further on, it will cause a global glaciation, also known as “snowball Earth”.

This doomsday device is known in geography as the Drake Passage.


To quote Wikipedia, “There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the latitudes of Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which carries a huge volume of water (about 600 times the flow of the Amazon River) through the Passage and around Antarctica.”

Some 65 MY ago, due to plate tectonics things started taking place, that gradually rearranged the flow of sea currents around the continents. The Drake Passage was opened 41 MY ago, separating South America from Antarctica. This created a steady Antarctic circumpolar current which is basically a Coriolis-effect-driven heat pump, and you can understand how that works if you imagine a rotating cold vessel filled with liquid, where rotation of the vessel helps the exchange of heat between the two, only in this case the liquid flows outside the “vessel”. The liquid spins inside the vessel due to inertia. It essentially cools warm seawater by exchanging its heat with the edges of the polar continent where it dissipates into space. The effectiveness of this circumpolar current in dissipating the energy from Earth is such that it creates a net-negative energy balance, although a slight one, and creates a long-term trend.

This long-term cooling trend is what drove the evolutionary forces that created our kind of mammalian life, and it’s the trend that will eventually result in a complete global freeze that will produce the final extinction of our kind of mammalian life. This is the reason why there are no longer any large ectothermic creatures around, such as the Titanoboa, why the birds needed to evolve the ability to migrate seasonally in order to avoid the freezing cold of the north hemisphere winter, and why the mammals needed to evolve in order to hibernate. Closer to our time, the formation of the isthmus of Panama some 5 MY ago impeded the equatorial sea currents, forcing them to circumnavigate the continents and thus bring more equatorial heat into the southern circumpolar current. This had the “immediate” effect of throwing us into a Pleistocene ice age, since the global temperature and the amount of CO2 buffering plummeted to the point where Milankovitch cycles could actually have a significant effect on the climate.

long-term temperature trend

The temperature graph of the last 65 MY has a long-term downward trend, and everything else is merely a blip.

The formation of the Antarctic circumpolar current started the long process of climate change that produced us, the creatures of the Ice Age, and it will also produce the end-result of freezing Earth so completely, that it will stay there for hundreds of millions of years, until plate tectonics eventually rearrange the continents in such a way as to produce a net-positive global energy balance and cause a gradual thaw, at which point every form of life we know and are will be long extinct.

It happened already, several times, and every time the continental masses were arranged in such a way as to enable free circulation of sea water around at least one pole. The only time such circulation was inhibited we had the Cambrian explosion of life, and when it was re-established 41 MY ago we had the acceleration of the process of global cooling that started 65 MY ago when the continents rearranged themselves in a way that creates a net-negative long-term global energy balance.

One of the problems with global cooling is that CO2 is more readily absorbed in cold water, and this long-term global trend sinks our atmospheric CO2 into the oceans and thus removes the buffer that would otherwise reduce the thermal gradient between the equator and the poles and also moderate the slight effects that Milankovitch cycles have on global climate. That’s why Milankovitch cycles are of consequence only in the Pleistocene, which is what got me interested in the first place, leading to very interesting findings that I’m describing here.

This short-term increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration that we managed to produce with our high-energy civilization might have bought us some time, by temporarily increasing the climate buffers and reducing the impact of the orbital and axial variations on the climate, but since Earth is a very complex thermodynamic system, where circulation of 3 mediums (magma in the mantle, water and air) and entropy within and between them, solid impediments to circulation, plus solar input and albedo, plus thermal buffers (methane, CO2, water vapour) and accumulators (ice, methane hydrate), produce effects that are impossible predict without a very demanding computer simulation, we currently don’t know what exactly to expect, and as far as I’m concerned, the CO2 input could influence some mechanism in such a way that it actually causes a sudden ice age, for instance by introducing too much fresh water from ice melt into the oceans and thus disrupting the thermohaline circulation. When I watched the movie “Day after tomorrow”, the events described seemed implausible, but after I did some research I actually think it’s one of the most likely scenarios I’ve seen described. The thing is, we don’t know, because it isn’t about logic, it’s about thermodynamics, and you need to know all the variables in order to be able to predict, and one single thing can decide between radically different outcomes.

But this is all short term. Long term, the sentence is death by cold. How long term? In Pleistocene, the climate became unstable. These are in fact the death throes of climate that precede the global glaciation, where Milankovitch cycles are no longer sufficient to produce a glacial minimum, and you get a runaway glaciation. What exactly are the conditions in which this takes place, in respect to oceanic and atmospheric temperature, albedo and CO2 concentration, I don’t know, because that would require a computer simulation. What I do know is what the long-term temperature graph looks like, I understand the underlying mechanism, and I can predict that within a few million years we will have frozen oceans on the equator. But for all I know, there’s another interesting trend, which shows that the dominant Homo species goes extinct in the glacial maximum – Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis and others. I don’t see great odds of our industrial civilization surviving an event as disruptive as a glacial maximum, and without industry, and having killed off all the Pleistocene megafauna that would allow at least a moderate number of humans to live off the land if the industrial agriculture fails, I’m not giving us the odds of survival greater than 1% in the timeframe of 50 KY. But of course, for a species to which 1 KY is “eternity” and which no longer has any kind of historical recollection of the last glacial maximum, even those prospects are incredibly long-term.


Impact of Antarctic Circumpolar Current Development on Late Paleogene Ocean Structure, Miriam E. Katz, Benjamin S. Cramer, J. R. Toggweiler, Gar Esmay, Chengjie Liu, Kenneth G. Miller, Yair Rosenthal, Bridget S. Wade, James D. Wright
Science 27 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6033, pp. 1076-1079
DOI: 10.1126/science.1202122

Role of the isthmus of Panama in global cooling by Gerald H. Haug, Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam (GFZ), Germany; Ralf Tiedemann, Forschungszentrum fur Marine Geowissenschaften, Germany; and Lloyd D. Keigwin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

65 MY trend of cooling, David Lappi

The Physics of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, Worth D. Nowlin, Jr., and John M. Klinck, REVIEWS OF GEOPHYSICS, VOL. 24, NO. 3, PAGES 469-491, AUGUST 1986, Department of Oceanooraphy, Texas A&M University, College Station

Why walk when you can teleport?

I’ve been watching Youtube videos with people restoring old computers to full functionality and using outdated equipment to perform tasks, and it’s been bothering me for non-obvious reasons, and I was thinking why that is.

Why use a i7-6700K when a Q8200 will do? Why use a modern smartphone when a 5 year old device will do?

It will do exactly what? Just now, I took an old netbook from my “outdated shit bin”, installed a modern version of Linux on it together with all essential apps in order to test whether it will “do”. The touchpad is shit, the display is shit, it is slow and although it does perform basic functions, like writing documents, answering mail, watching videos and playing music, it does everything poorly and with delays. So yes, it will “do” if you can’t afford a modern well made device, but if you can, by all means do because it’s worth it. Elimination of all those delays and nagging flaws has a very liberating psychological effect akin to removing painfully tight clothes or shoes; you don’t know how much it was bothering you until it stops. So one thing that was bothering me with the concept of reusing outdated equipment was the concept of deliberately putting up with bad things that can be avoided simple because you rationalized the good thing as “too expensive to be worth it”. It’s too expensive to be worth it if it gives you no actual benefit (like a gold-plated phone), but this excuse seems to be overused in order to rationalize not being able to afford things that are quantifiably better. I’m often not able to afford things, but I try not to resort to a “sour grapes” excuse. Instead I usually say something like “yes, x would be better but I can’t afford it so I use y, which is cheaper, not so good but I can get the basic functionality out of it”.

The other concept that’s bothering me is that I can recognize some urge to use minimalistic tools, the worst possible stuff that still gets the job done, in order to avoid the trap of the law of diminished returns that always rears its ugly head when you try to use the best possible tools to do the job. That makes sense when you just need a good hammer, not the best hammer in the world, because you occasionally need to hammer some nails, not do it all day, every day, for a whole year. But the problem with this is that when you try to buy the least expensive tools, they occasionally fail, and they always fail when you need them. Even if they don’t fail, they usually do a shitty job. I have a pair of cheap water pump pliers that keep slipping and performing poorly, and I never get to actually replace them because the good ones are more expensive and I’m not sure they will perform better. But I use those twice a year on average so it’s not a big deal, it’s just evidence that there indeed are bad tools and that being cheap can bite you.

There’s more, of course. There’s also a question of “why try to be rich when you can do everything with less money”, as a rationalization for staying poor. There is a limit, of course, where additional money doesn’t really get you any additional real quality of life, because you simply run out of useful things to buy. This amount of money, however, is huge; it’s probably in a billion-dollar range, and even in the open-ended range you can use the money to influence the entire civilization, by financing things that would otherwise make no economical sense, like spaceflight or pure science.

It comes down to “why would you need a car when you have your feet”, or “why would you need a forklift when you have your arms”, and, essentially, to “why do you need power”.

You need power because being limitless is better than being limited, because being powerful is better than being powerless, being great is better than being small, and a wonderful thing is better than a shitty thing, although a shitty thing is often better than nothing at all.

People love fast cars not because they couldn’t do everything with a slower and cheaper vehicle, but because a fast car gives you the feeling of unrestrained freedom that reminds you of the state in which you existed before you were born in this limiting existence. People love power because it reminds them of freedom and the joy of not being restrained in everything you attempt. That’s why settling for the inferior things disturbs me – because it looks like giving up on ever being able to see God again, and be free and unrestrained and powerful. It looks like the final acceptance of defeat. Of course, things will not give you that which you lost, but once you start giving up on greatness, you might actually mindscrew yourself into ultimate spiritual failure.