How frog gets cooked in the cloud

How much computer power do we actually need for normal tasks? Does the difference in computational power influence the end-result? Can you tell a difference between an article written on a desktop or a laptop? The last question sounds incredibly silly, I know, and yet when I watch the tech YouTube videos there’s an impression that if you’re a “real pro” or a “power user”, you’ll need “MO PAWAH”. The poor-people tech made for the plebs just won’t cut it, you’ll need the shiny new thingy to keep up with the times. Only the 7nm node size will cut it.

Several things happened recently. First, a new Intel bug was discovered, possibly rendering modern Intel CPU machines vulnerable to attack unless you cripple the CPU by disabling almost everything on it. Second, America embargoed China by limiting access to all kinds of software and hardware technologies, from Android and Windows to x86 and ARM. If we add that to things that are already known, such as the Intel kill switch, and all kinds of technologies that make it theoretically possible for the manufacturer to brick the motherboard of your device remotely, on a low-level of access through the onboard networking hardware, BIOS and the chipset, because America put you on a list of “sanctioned” individuals, for whatever reason.

Microsoft is introducing a “politically correct” spelling-checker into Word. Online censorship is rampant. Witch hunts are out of control. I can easily imagine some AI identifying “politically incorrect” people online, through their cloud service logins, and I can easily imagine hardware and software manufacturers full of “social justice warriors” performing acts of “social activism”, for instance triggering a “stolen device kill switch” on your motherboard remotely if you write too much “right wing” or “racist” content online. If you think this is paranoid, imagine being Snowden or Assange, and imagine what can be done to their computers if they are identified remotely, and if it’s done by someone really powerful, like NSA, or Google, or Microsoft. Now imagine this being automated, delegated to an AI system that will check your login against a list, and then simply “deplatform” you by bricking your PC, because after all, Nazis can’t be allowed to speak.

All of this made me think: what would I do if I was targeted by something like that? Using a web browser made by a huge corporation is a vulnerability. Using cloud services is a vulnerability. Using an operating system made by a company that’s BFF with NSA is a vulnerability. Using Intel, and possibly even AMD CPU is a vulnerability. Using a motherboard with a chipset and a BIOS that isn’t made transparently is a vulnerability. So, if someone decided to brick my computers that run Windows and Mac OS on Intel, and my iPhone and iPad stop working, or at least stop connecting to the Internet and accepting my login into Apple services, what would I use to get online?

It turned out that I have one machine that is most likely to remain working: a Raspberry Pi 3B+ that I have under my desk running Linux, a machine I manually hardened and which runs 24/7 hosting mysql, ssh and apache. However, that’s not all. It also runs a LXDE GUI, with a complement of Office tools. But this is an extremely weak machine. Its CPU is a rounding error between two geekbench measurements of my main desktop PC, and I’m not even exaggerating much. Its “disk drive” is a micro SD card, and the entire computer can fit on my palm. However, there’s a catch. It is basically Android smartphone hardware converted to serve a different purpose and run a different OS. People use Android smartphones to do things online every day and don’t give it a second thought. But can you plug a smartphone board into a monitor, keyboard and mouse, run Linux and do normal tasks, like researching things online, taking screenshots, writing and article in OpenOffice, logging into a CMS and posting the article on your blog? Yes, you can.

In fact, it turns out that this small tiny computer is more powerful than the machines I used to write most of my books on. And I edited them in OpenOffice, printed them as PDF, and then used Linux command line tools to split the PDF into PNG images of individual pages, and then publish those on my website in the online reader form. I did all that on an IBM T43 laptop, which was less powerful than this Raspberry Pi thingy. Of course you can do it, and in fact that’s how I wrote this article; I connected the Raspberry Pi instead of my desktop computer, and used it to drive my usual peripherals. It doesn’t feel slower when you write the document; you can do most things just fine. I used computers with less power and memory for most of my career, because that’s what we had then. It’s actually quite smooth; I installed Gimp from the terminal while writing this article and not even a hiccough. Then I used Gimp to crop a screenshot and save it. It did it just fine. I just got used to computers that do the same things faster, that’s all. Using this thing didn’t degrade me into stone age. I could even plug my external HDD into it and process raw photos from my camera if I had to. I would use dcraw, rawtherapee and gimp instead of lightroom, the way I did for years, and guess what, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, because I did it exactly that way for five years and nobody could tell the difference between that and lightroom anyway. I just got suckered into using tools for lazy people, tools that make it very easy, but that don’t actually do anything I couldn’t do manually with some more effort. I could also do just fine without the online cloud services, and guess how I know? Because I was here before they were. I was on the Internet and finding my way around quite well before Google was a twinkle in its authors’ eyes. Some of those tools made things easier, but the price might be too great. Ease and comfort, apparently, can be weaponized as a vector of attack. You make it easy for people to access the same file from several devices and they don’t stop to think that their files are stored on someone else’s computer in unencrypted form. You make it easy for people to connect to other people online and they don’t stop to think and realize that their entire social life is now owned by a company whose primary motive is to sell you to the advertisers, and to control the entire experience as to be more presentable to the advertisers. Also, that they hire fuckwits who studied feminism and social justice and who want to change the world to be more like an American college: meaning, that it requires less thinking, more feeling good about yourself, and excluding everything that gets in the way of feeling good and not having to do any thinking.

However, someone bricking your PC might actually be a lesser concern. A greater concern might be someone blocking your Visa card because you’re on some political list. Also, the banks might not allow you to open an account. You might not be able to get a loan for a house or a car despite your stellar credit rating. Police might track your whereabouts using your phone, because you’re on a list of “extremists”. You might be stopped from boarding a plane. You might be taken off a plane in an islamic country that has you on some shitlist, because you criticised Islam online. Those threats are actually more real, and I’m actually not making those up; that shit actually happens now, as we speak. It’s just far less common than it could be, once the technology proliferates. So, sure, I used a PC made from a phone chip to write an article on the Web, big deal. I can maintain the same kind of online presence with rudimentary technology, and nobody would notice the difference. However, that proves one interesting point: that the advancement of technology in the last two decades was actually much less drammatic than one would think. We just got used to the fat and expensive tools that do basically the same job as the old lightweight free ones. Also, it means that America can cut the rest of the world from their technology, and the rest of the world could do just fine with Raspberry Pi boards made in China for $1, and they would actually be forced to get more creative with resources and possibly find better ways of doing things. Being reduced to simpler computers wouldn’t actually degrade life much, because faster and better computers didn’t upgrade it much. They just made it easier for stupid and incompetent people to think they are advanced, smart, trendy and techy, while in reality they are just stupid consumers.

So, what am I going to do now; continue using Raspberry Pi as my main PC? Hell no. It can only display a 1080p image on my 4K monitor, which makes everything blurry. Also, I have to pay attention to memory use because it only has one gig of ram, and so on. But I know one thing. If America does cut me off from American technology, I will find whatever piece of junk that runs Linux and connect to Russian-Chinese Internet, and I will do just fine. I used to write code on a potato when Web was an experiment on Tim Berners-Lee’s Next cube, I wrote books on computers that couldn’t walk and fart at the same time, and I can do it again if necessary. The only thing that’s actually scary for me is thinking how easy it was for me to get used to the idea of giving up privacy and security just to make things a tiny bit easier and more comfortable. Because of this, I might actually start intentionally giving up various online service that make things unnecessarily easy, but at a hidden cost. I will also give Linux a second chance.

However, if that is scary to me, there’s another thing that should be scary to the Americans, and that’s the idea of a smart person that’s comfortable using Linux tools on a Raspberry Pi instead of a Macbook. Because that person might understand that he can do just fine without all sorts of things that make him a slave. For instance, he might understand that the AGC computer that got people to the Moon was computationally much weaker than the toy I’m writing this article on, and that St. Augustine and Isaac Newton used ink and parchment.

How to improve civilization

The first thing I would do is order everybody by level of victimhood, descending, which means the biggest most whining and pathetic victims on top, and then I would take the top 10% out on some meadow and shoot them. Alternatively, confiscate all their property, sell them on a slave market and ridicule them endlessly.

That would put an end to all that victimhood bullshit and whining and everybody would be permanently and powerfully motivated to get their shit together and improve their position from a position of agency and personal responsibility. Essentially, delete from mankind order by victimhood desc limit 10%;

There is a very old custom in Croatia where all sins of the past year are put on some puppet called “Princ Fašnik”, and it is then ritually burned. If the greatest victim and whiner in every village was identified every year and ritually burned on a stake in a public square, that would be the most effective possible instrument in ridding civilization of victim mentality and social parasites. He who is the most pathetic dies. Each year. The prize for whining is shame and death. That’s my solution.

A fig leaf

There has been lots of talk lately about the need to embrace the gold standard for currency again because of America abusing the dollar. There are two issues that need to be separated, and the answers are not as simple as it might seem.

The reason why gold functioned as currency for the majority of history is that mankind had a solar powered economy. This means it was restricted by the amount of agricultural land that was used to convert solar energy into carbohydrates. Also, solar power was used for energy, in form of wood and coal. This made the total supply of energy available to mankind more-less constant. Also, technology was primitive and constant. This made the economy constrained, and its volume could be represented by another constrained resource, gold. Essentially, you could dig out just enough new gold to match the eventual growth of the economy. However, the problems started with the industrial revolution, where new inventions could multiply the size of the economy, and the monetary supply remained constricted. When petroleum use freed mankind from solar restrictions on energy by tapping into a huge energy buffer of oil reserves, invention of electricity broke all restrictions wide open, and Haber-Bosch method of synthesizing artificial fertilizers allowed for a huge increase in food supply, the economy and population started growing exponentially, and the monetary supply needed to be expanded far beyond the constraints of any single constrained resource. So, having in mind that the supply of gold couldn’t successfully cover the expanding economy even in the times of Tesla, Westinghouse and Rockefeller, and needed to be supplanted and eventually replaced by mechanisms based on mortgage loans and BDP calculations, suggesting an introduction of a currency backed by gold at this point reveals lack of understanding of the constrictive effect that would have on mankind. With gold, the totality of everybody’s wealth always equals the totality of gold in supply. With a gold standard, if you invent something that grows the economy by 30%, the supply of gold doesn’t grow by 30% to match, which causes a shortage of money in circulation and artificial appreciation of gold, favouring those who already hold the most gold, instead of giving power to the inventors and “new money”. Of course, if gold-backed paper money is used, the state will print more money in order to keep up with the economy, but then this money will lose convertibility into gold. This is the reason why gold standard was removed: it was a problem rather than a solution. When economy grew, for instance by the size of petroleum reserves, it was much better to use petroleum reserves as basis for currency than to try and dig out enough gold to represent the value of all the oil in the world, or to artificially inflate the value of gold to the comic proportions. Also, when someone came to the bank to request a loan, the bank could either say “sorry, but there’s not enough money in circulation to give you a loan, because we didn’t dig out enough gold this month”, or they could say “we can take the mortgage papers as backing for a low-interest loan we can get from the central bank, which will use this guarantee as backing and create new money which we will then sell you at increased interest”. Guess which turned out to be more acceptable for a growing economy.

However, when you allow someone to print papers saying “this paper represents a gold coin”, you will inevitably get more papers than gold coins, because the position where you can create money out of thin air is incredibly tempting. The first experiment with paper money in ancient China ended for exactly those reasons. But that is a separate matter: you can’t say that abuses of the fiat currency system justify returning to the gold standard, if the gold standard was not viable even in the 1930s, due to its restricting hold on economy. You can only make a currency that is required to be backed by actual physical resources, such as metals, petroleum, electric currency production, foreign currency reserves, and mortgages on physical assets. You can require solid backing for all newly printed money, but gold, there’s just not enough of it in existence to cover the value of our economy. It can’t even cover a minute fraction. And even if there were enough gold, it would work only if our economy remained constant. For a 5% growth in economy, you would need to have 5% of increase in total supply of gold, which is utterly unrealistic.

There is that other matter of dollar being an instrument of pressure and abuse, which warrants its removal from the position it presently holds. This would require the United States to relinquish a position where they can print new money out of thin air, and have the rest of the world pay for it; essentially, that’s what you get when everybody is forced to pay for petroleum in dollars. Instead of the normal inflatory effects you would get from increasing the supply of money in circulation, you get the situation where the rest of the world is artificially impoverished and American economy is artificially boosted. If you think America would relinquish this position without a very ugly world war, I have some real estate on the Moon to sell you.

However, there is a reason why America might actually find it preferable to have dollar crash and burn, despite all its obvious benefits. You see, all American debt is denominated in dollars. Also, American debt is so huge, it approaches the point of being unserviceable. There is a very easy and tempting solution for this: America can just print trillions of new dollars without any backing, and use them to cover their debts and thus reset their situation. Of course, that wouldn’t sit well with all the nations that hold American state bonds denominated in dollars, and would basically crash the world economy and monetary system in an instant, producing an avalanche of consequences, and that’s the reason why other great powers have been diversifying their assets, from US bonds to gold, rare earth minerals, etc.; because they see this coming. Either America will cause a world war to cover its naked butt, or remove any semblance of a fig leaf by simply resetting its debt to zero using the aforementioned method. Of course, having in mind that this would wipe out all retirement funds and personal savings of their citizens, this method would be hugely unpopular and would need to be covered up by some fabricated external factor. This is why I find a war to be much more likely. They will stir the pot so much, nobody will pay any attention to the little man behind a curtain pulling the levers and pressing the buttons. The plan seems to be to provoke Russia and China into a war, suffer a limited nuclear strike, introduce martial law, and then reset their debt and thus hide their plan behind some external villainous force, playing the poor victim of evil in the world. There is too much propaganda to that effect already in place for me to have any confidence in the possibility that I might be wrong.

What to do

In the previous article I explained what the Western “democratic governments” have in store for their population in case of a major disaster. The worldview behind their planning can best be described as “pragmatic materialism”, which BTW is how Satanists would describe themselves if asked. However, I can easily anticipate readers’ questions: if shit does indeed hit the fan that hard, what, if anything, can we do?

Well, I’ve been studying disasters and the answer doesn’t conform to this “pragmatic materialist” paradigm, to put it mildly.

The “conventional wisdom”, if you listen to the American “prepper” community, is that one needs to stock up on food, water purifying equipment, guns and ammo, and in case of a disaster, defend one’s property against intruders. Essentially, they sort people into three major groups: the hapless unprepared victims, the predatory criminals and the prepared homeowners. When I listen to their theories, I try to envision the world they are describing, and my conclusion is that there are unlikely to be any survivors.

Let’s say the supply of food, water and electricity is disrupted. There is no rule of law. Follow the Maslow hierarchy of needs combined with the game theory in order to figure out what’s going to happen. The most prized assets will be the off-grid farms that have private water sources and can grow food. Also, those places will have food and medicine caches. The most desirable assets will be taken over by the most powerful forces, those most likely to resort to murder and robbery. They will take over the farms, kill the owners, and allow everything to go to ruin because they don’t know shit about farming. So, the theory that the ones best prepared for a post-civilization life will survive is very implausible; a much more likely scenario is that they will be the prime targets of undisciplined, panic-driven violence, which will further disrupt the supply of resources. Once the predators run out of food, they will resort to predatory cannibalism, because humans will be the most abundant remaining source of protein. After that, everybody dies. The scenario is very similar to that of the extinction of the dinosaurs: in the initial chaos, the carnivores and the vultures wipe out the remaining herbivores, and then they die off as this short-term food buffer is exhausted.

However, regardless of what the Americans might believe in their satanic worldview, my study of limited disasters shows a different pattern. You see, when shit hits the fan, the course of action that is most likely to result in survival is not self-centered predation, but cooperation. You don’t try to hog resources, because you understand that you are always going to lack something someone else has. Eventually, the resources are going to run out. The sociopaths do exist, but they are immediately treated as a foreign entity and killed off. The non-sociopathic armed gangs will trade protection for food, essentially becoming the paramilitary force that will guard the farms against attackers. The farmers will accept this as preferable to being killed, and will become the new serfs. The armed forces will become the new lords of the realm, and will form a hierarchy among themselves, resulting in new feudalism. How do I know this? Because that is what happens every time there is a major civilization-ending crisis. The armed thugs divide the food-production resources (farmland with serfs) among themselves. The serfs get to survive, the armed “knights” and “lords” survive. The sophisticated intellectual part of the civilization is wiped out. Nothing unrelated to food production and fighting has great chances for survival. In essence, civilization is reduced to a territory under control of a mafia gang: people get to mind their own business and have some semblance of normal life, but the price of this is paying for protection by the well armed militia. The territory is divided into areas controlled by different militias, which wage turf wars, until at some point they decide to merge, and then you get a state with “police forces”, and you even get “democracy” where you are periodically asked to choose which gang gets its turn in exploiting you for resources. As the baseline of violence is reduced and commerce is established between territories, there is need for high-level products and technology, which gives birth to sophisticated trades, and later to science and technology. The more connected the world, the more abstract structures it can support, until you get the global civilization that veers so far into the abstract it ends up destroying itself, and you get a reset into barbarism, feudalism etc., ad nauseam. That’s history of civilization for you.

Of course, we are talking about a civilization-ending event, not a species-ending one, but the irony is, in a species-ending event, the best you can do is try to preserve your spiritual integrity by cooperating with others from the position of kindness, trading for resources, offering services in exchange for resources, being helpful and protective, and simply continuing to do the best you can until everybody eventually dies. This would be very hard for the materialists, who believe this life to be all there is, but for the religious and spiritually inclined people it would be quite easy: in fact, it would be just another day in life, where you’re supposed to do the best you can in the available circumstances, and thus show God that you’re a worthy person who will remain faithful even in the darkest of times. You see, for the best people life isn’t about surviving, or having your family survive. It’s about being faithful to God by doing the best you can until the very end. And that is what you should do when shit hits the fan. Be the best version of yourself you can be, and you will leave this world as a winner. Choose to desperately fight for scraps, trying to survive at all cost, and you will lose everything, and still die.

Zombie apocalypse

In the recent years it became popular for governments to train against the “zombie apocalypse” scenario, where hordes of the living dead threaten the living, who must quarantine and defend themselves at all cost. The zombies are, of course, completely dehumanized, depersonalized enemies; generic targets nobody feels any compunction in destroying. What you might not understand in this picture, is that they mean you.

In a major disaster scenario, regardless of the actual cause which might vary between disease, nuclear war or a volcanic super-eruption, people will be divided in two groups. There will be those who have underground bunkers with abundant storage of food, water, filtered air, medical supplies, and armed guards, and there will be you. You will live your normal daily lives, going to work, having a home with no more than a few cans of food storage, drinking tap water with no water reserves other than the tank for flushing your toilet, no energy reserves because you use gas and electricity from the grid, and no cash reserves because you live from pay check to pay check, and, in the majority of cases, you are in debt anyway.

In case of any serious disaster, you are the living dead. Your process of dying starts once the utilities of civilization, which you take for granted, stop. At this point, your death is a matter of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: is the air safe to breathe? Is the water available and safe to drink? Is there food? Is there warmth? Are there men with guns and clubs who want to take your stuff? Can you detect and avoid radiation? Do you have antibiotics with which to treat minor wounds? Do you need medication in order to function?

If you need medication, you will quickly run out. You will have to drink contaminated water and likely get diarrhoea. Food is not your most pressing concern, because you will most likely be injured during the disaster, and you will be in some state of shock, with open wounds that will get infected. You will be either irradiated, infected by disease, inhale volcanic ash, or simply lost and without any idea what to do, surrounded by other injured, shocked, lost people. In a state of shock, you will initially do all the wrong things – get out and watch the nuclear blast, drink some water of unknown state of contamination because you’re thirsty, act as if things are normal for far too long. However, that would only matter in a limited disaster scenario. In case of anything serious, it’s not a matter of what you need to avoid in order to survive, but a matter of conditions that need to be met in order for you to survive. You need to have an underground bunker with non-perishable supplies, huge tanks of pure water, air filtration, medical supplies, and safety. If you don’t have those, you are at this point the living dead. Your process of dying already started, and you are doomed; you just don’t know it yet. Not knowing that you’re doomed, you will attempt to survive. You will seek access of supplies and shelter. You will be ready to use force if you are denied, because you will desperately need things. Those who have things will have a choice: give you things and thus decrease their own already slim chances of riding through the disaster, or defend against you, the living dead. You doomed yourself by not being prepared, by believing in the fiction of perpetually available tap water and electricity if only you pay your bills, and now you are a factor of the chain reaction of doom: in order to live one more day, you need to eat somebody else’s food, drink somebody else’s water, and use up somebody else’s antibiotics, taking them down with you in your hopeless downward spiral.

The government, whom you usually look to for help, will perform triage: who lives, who can be helped, and who dies. In normal circumstances, if you are wounded or sick, you expect to be helped. In these circumstances, those who are sick or wounded are a fatal drain on the resources, and are cut off, sentenced to death. The most likely people to survive are the armed soldiers protecting the underground bunkers. If you are armed and in the position of power, this power will be further cemented; if you are vulnerable, you will not only lose everything, you will be a danger that needs to be guarded against. You, the living dead, will be shot on sight if you try to approach government installations looking for help. You watched disaster recovery videos and you expect there to be distribution centres where you can get food, water and medical assistance, but that expectation is only valid in a limited disaster, where one area is impacted and others are not. When everybody is impacted, aid is no longer provided to those in need, because the resources need to be stretched out for as long as possible, in order to give at least some, the ones most likely to survive, some chance. There is no longer a “government”, only people with guns and food in protected installations, and the hordes of the “living dead” who want to get in. And at this point, they have been training for years to see you as nothing but inhuman targets, in order to be able to kill you without any compassion whatsoever, guarding their bosses, their personal safety, and their stocks of supplies. Have you stopped to consider why “zombies” are depicted as dirty, bloody and wounded? Because that’s what you, the normal people, are expected to look like when shit hits the fan. Read the descriptions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki aftermath; the “living dead” were walking around bloody, dirty, wounded, in shock, dying. You expect your government to be making plans for helping you, if that happens, but you are wrong. They are training their soldiers and personnel to see you as an inhuman threat, to guard against you and to shoot you on sight. What they are planning to do is stay in the position of power, use up all the resources for themselves, and stay safe from you, who paid for all of their power with taxes, and believed in the human rights and democracy bullshit they’ve been selling you.