Thursday, December 22, 2022

The science of unfection

 We currently have things called 'infections'. As we harness the science of this, I propose we create a new term for viral vectors used to aid correcting disease -- Unfections.

Misdirecting the disenfranchised

 Socialism has practically become a meaningless term. To the extent that it involves collectivism, all modern societies are 'socialist'. It is just a question of how well they do it. The historical context within which these concepts grew is no longer applicable. It is pointless to define the class struggle around the means of production when that is no longer the point of control.

You can access every bit of the world's knowledge online for essentially nothing. The only thing stopping you is the artificial construct of 'copyright'. It allows some to claim 'ownership' of the right to say who can access what things. As automation spreads, the same type of situation will apply for tangible things like electronic devices. Already, as of now, only about a fifth of the selling price of a smart phone is required to make them. More than half of the rest is captured by the entity 'owning' the right to have them made. 

The cost to create goods will eventually seek the level of the energy and materials used to make them. At that point, the equivalent of hereditary kings and queens will hold all the rights to make them, and they will charge whatever they wish. We know from experience that they will charge whatever the traffic will bear. 

The class struggle is ongoing and after a brief period of success, it seems we are losing again.


Canada should be much better than it is.

This was prompted by a (closed) call for public input into Canada's federal budget. The people at the top in government seem to be way in over their heads. Crucial things that affect us all seem almost entirely ignored or bungled in ways that are hard to believe. Below is a list of observations in response. 

A lot of people and entities profited handsomely from our COVID pandemic. We should investigate how and why they did so. We should reverse gouging that is too outrageous, and otherwise put them on a 'naughty list'. Encourage entities that pitched in to help, rather than those who did so just for profit.

It may be impossible, but I would like to see an effort to identify and remove harmful narcissistic sociopaths from positions of power. They cannot work in our interest because they do not nearly understand our needs, nor do they care to.

Those in power that care should realize that struggling citizens do not have the time to represent their interests like lobbyists do. Discount any argument from lobbyists that takes money from us and gives it to them. Also, note that lack of trust has reduced participation by citizens.

As much as possible, the government of Canada needs to get serious about making itself beyond the reach of powerful private entities. Critical infrastructure needs to be in Canada and controlled by Canadians with security clearances.

Most of the people in the civil service want to do their absolute best job. I doubt that very many have the opportunity. Some areas should be scrapped. Others can be trimmed. Areas that do not even exist, should exist. Free the civil service to reorganize.

Entities like Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon silenced the Commander in Chief of the largest military in the history of the world, partly by also shutting down a competitor (Parler). Whatever you feel about that decision, it is too much control by far.

Canada should take a leadership position to negotiate the elimination of copyrights and patents. This would instantly put enormous wealth into the Canadian economy, and fuel more growth as well. We should not be taking advice from people who profit from copyrights and patents.

As part of UBI, you need to pass legislation that makes UBI money beyond the reach of creditors. Debt should not allow creditors to take food off people's tables.

Let us work to fix the environment. We have ongoing pollution, mountains of garbage, depleted fisheries, badly misused land, toxic perils waiting to happen, and more. Instead of saying well, all the kids have a carbon tax, let us do some genuine holistic environmental research.

Start pulling some educated technical people who do not have conflicts of interest into your decision-making process. Do it early. The people at the top look like they are randomly stabbing at things, none of which they understand. We have experts. Let us use them.

Special interests will present you with flashy presentations, tempt you with career advancement, and make veiled threats that you ignore them at your peril. Recognize they promote themselves, not us. Make nice with them but take what they say with a heavy grain of salt.

Our education system is a mess. Rather than just dumping more money on the system, let us analyze what we have and how to fix it. There are massive savings there. [Broken Education System] So much human misery could be eliminated in short order.

We have a lot of 'mission critical' stuff like computers, cell phones, and network infrastructure entirely out of our control. That is a national security nightmare. Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter(!) have more control over us than the federal government. Bad.

Get a bunch of bright co-op students in from good universities like Waterloo to help you make sense of it all. They are cheaper and better than most consultants, and they genuinely want to do their best work.

Note: I say Waterloo because I have supervised students from Waterloo a few times and they have all been excellent. They have been pleasant to work with, and radically exceeded expectations. They work so fast and well it is a challenge feeding them tasks.

UBI will create ubiquitous liquidity. That alone might be enough to bump the economy enough to cancel out new inflation. If not, there are other measures that can be taken to correct it.

There are so many things that could stand improvement in Canada. It is a great country, but it could and should be so much more. We need leadership that can take initiative and lead, not reactive politicos looking only to the next election and their political career. We need real plans.

If UBI is in place, even restaurant owners who were entirely wiped out would be able to reopen without worrying about their basic needs.

COVID spread exponentially. You need someone near the top that can recognize that and understand what it means. In this case, quickly implemented hard lockdowns would have made a world of difference. I could have told you what an exponential curve means when I was in high school.

UBI should not just be on the table. It should be in effect now. Many of its beneficial effects could be had within minutes of reading this. It takes only an announcement by the PM that it is happening. Money could be in many accounts by tomorrow.

UBI -- Where will we get the money? FFS. Get somebody who understands fiat currency to explain MMT, so people know that this is not the issue. The feds do not get their money from taxes. They create it from nothing. The issue is inflation/devaluation.

Say I am a baker. The government gives me $1 for ingredients to make a $2 donut. When there is a buyer for that donut, I have taken a dollar from the economy and made $2 for a net of $1. The government can create wealth from nothing by supplying the $1.

We gave away our industrial infrastructure. It is a done deal. We need to get the capability back. We should review what fundamentals need to be in place to support manufacturing and get busy putting them back in place.

We have an opportunity in that since we no longer effectively have a legacy industrial infrastructure, we can start over with the most advanced equipment to build the new infrastructure. Canadian goods could be and should be the finest in the world.

Manufacturers of chips and chipsets control what is 'baked in'. If they 'bake in' a back door allowing them to take over your system, you are unacceptably vulnerable. You must assume this is the case. We need to be able to create our own chips.

We have all the raw materials we need to manufacture anything. We need to develop our industrial infrastructure, so it can supply everything we need on up to producing computers and networks. Canada effectively does not have national security.

We desperately need true leadership in government, not career politicians. I am alive today because Tommy Douglas was a true leader who spearheaded, proved, and pushed through public healthcare. He led this move long before it was popular. That is leadership. 

As a parting shot (for now,) -- UBI is absolutely the best fix to a whole host of problems. It is a slam dunk to implement now. It will be effective. It will help NOW, when it is most needed. It will get all Canadians busy putting things right. It will make things better.


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Suicide as an adaptation

As I was driving home one day, it occurred to me that suicide might be adaptive. I was surprised to find that this has been investigated and the answer is "yes, suicide can be adaptive". Notice that I say, "can be" rather than "is". Being an evolutionary dead end is extreme. It is a bad idea all-round.

Two related things appear to motivate suicide in terms of inclusive fitness:

1) Ideation that reproductive success is negligibly probable.

2) Ideation that one's continued existence is a burden on kin and negatively impacts their reproductive fitness.

The first can come from isolation, few friends, and no partner. Likely depression is both cause and effect. 

The second is about resources and the impact of the individual on those resources. As above, a link to depression is likely. People feel ‘useless’ to kin, that they are just taking up space, and they are, or will come to be, a burden to kin.

In genetically related groups, self-removal may increase overall reproductive success. Natural selection favors genes without remorse.

This is not an argument in favor of suicide. It is, rather, a model to understand what motivates suicidal ideation in individuals. We can use that to identify those at risk and plan effective intervention. Suicidal ideation and attempted suicidal behavior are a serious indicator of risk. It is not just a stunt to gain attention. It may well be to gain attention, but that is because attention, investigation and intervention are necessary to save the individual. We should see this as a cry for help, and then help.

Suicide prevention services can be ineffective and sometimes, it would seem, negligent. They advertise to call a help line but when people do, they are left on hold or calls are abandoned. “One out of six calls made to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline between 2016 and 2021 didn't reach a counselor” --  1.5 Million Calls to Suicide Hotline Were Abandoned

In Canada and the United States, a new three-digit number, 988, has been mandated for mental health crisis and suicide prevention services. [https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2022/2022-234.htm]

Hopefully, this new number will do better than those before. However, the fact that people are isolated, uncared for and hopeless to the point of ending their own lives is a problem that requires more than a new phone number and congratulations all around. Pretending to help is cruel. It can become a way to blame the victim. It is worse than no help at all.

Here are some references if you wish to know a little more. 

Evolutionary limits to self- preservation






Saturday, December 3, 2022

Signing a Virtual Appliance (.OVA)

I was working on VirtualBox VMs to publish as virtual appliances (.OVA files). When I was testing the import into VirtualBox, I found that there was a warning message that the appliance is not signed:

 I was able to muddle through a work-around. The workaround involves getting a tool from VMWare (ovftool.exe), which seems a bit strange. It allows the import of the OVA, showing the certificate and marking it as 'safe'. It still has a couple of issues. One is an annoying warning message issued while creating the signed file, for which I was unable to find a cure. The other is that it does not seem to contact a time server to timestamp the file. Presumably that means that when the signing certificate expires, you get warnings again when loading. 

I would still like to know how you are supposed to do it properly according to Oracle. Surely Oracle is not using VMWare's software to sign their Virtual Appliances. 

This is my journey under Windows 10. At the end, I have publishable appliance. 

 - You need a virtual appliance (*.ova)

 - You need a signing certificate.

 - You need to have OpenSSL installed. 

 - You need the program ovftool.exe from VMWare

To get the .ova file, you need to export one of your VMs as a virtual appliance:

Open the export virtual appliance dialog:

File->Export Appliance [Alternatively <CTRL>E]

Choose the virtual machine to export. Fill in whatever Virtual system settings apply (in my case, just the name)

For appliance settings, set the Format to Open Virtualization Format 1.0

The 'Write Manifest file' checkbox should be checked.

Click on the <Export> button to write file.

The signing certificate should have been installed in the certificate store. How this is done depends on your certificate provider. 

To get the signing certificate in a usable form, you have to jump through a few hoops to get a .pem file. 

Open the Certificate Manager:

Run certmgr.msc

Open Personal->Certificates and right-click on your signing certificate

Open the All tasks menu and choose Export

This should open the Certificate Export Wizard

Click <Next>

Choose Yes, export the private key 

Click <Next>

Choose Personal Information Exchange - PKCS (.PFX)

Check include all certificates in the certification path

Check Export all extended properties

Check Enable certificate privacy

Click <Next>

Check the Password checkbox and enter and confirm a password [using "IMPPass" in this example]

Change the Encryption dropdown to AES256-SHA256

Click <Next>

Assign the filename and path for the exported certificate. In this example I called it 'MyCert'. Note that you don't put the file extension on the name here. It is added by the Certificate Export Wizard. You should save it on the path where your OVA file was saved. 

Click <Next>

Review settings and Click <Finish>

It should pop up a message box saying the export was successful. Dismiss that.

The next steps are done on the console, so open a console window. Change to the directory where you have saved your OVA and PFX files. 

You now need to convert the certificate to a form that can be used (.pem). To do this, you need to use OpenSSL. Here is the form of the command:

openssl pkcs12 -in MyCert.pfx -out MyCert.pem

Respond to the prompts for Import Password and PEM pass phrase

    Enter Import Password: IMPPass

    Enter PEM pass phrase: PEMPass

    Verifying - Enter PEM pass phrase: PEMPass

Finally, you can sign the exported OVA with ovftool with a command like this:

ovftool --privateKey=MyCert.pem --shaAlgorithm=SHA1 DamnSmall.ova DSL.ova

Opening OVA source: DamnSmall.ova

Opening OVA target: DSL.ova

Writing OVA package: DSL.ova

Transfer Completed

The manifest validates

Enter passphrase for MyCert.pem: PEMPass

Warning:

 - No supported manifest(sha1, sha256, sha512) entry found for: 'DamnSmall-disk001.vmdk'.Completed successfully

At this point, there should be a signed file called DSL.ova. It will indicate that when imported in VirtualBox.

To test, import the newly created and signed OVA file. Open the import dialog:

File->Import Appliance or alternatively I

Enter the path and name of the signed Virtual Appliance. Click [Next]

The Appliance settings dialog should have text in the bottom left corner indicating that you have signed the appliance, and that it is trusted.

Appliance is signed

Abolish copyrights. Make the world a better place overnight

Abolishing copyrights will create billions of dollars of wealth overnight. Without copyrights standing in the way, every one of the (soon to be) eight billion people on earth will be able to access all the media we have. Abolishing patents will ultimately reduce the cost of material wealth to the cost of energy and materials. As with copyrights denying media access to all but a few who will pay, patents will arbitrarily deny the creation of material wealth that would otherwise be available.

The entire patent and copyright systems are net destructive and need to be scrapped. 

I am in a situation where I communicated privately to a company a technique from my research. Without my knowledge, they patented it. I can prove that I communicated that precise technique to them prior to their patenting of it. I am now in a position where I would be sued if I publish the thing I invented -- a fundamental part of a body of research started thirty years ago. I can definitely prove that they patented my idea, and that it was me they got it from. I have no recourse as I could not afford to press a case to invalidate their patent. 

I did not pursue a patent for the thing myself because I am an open-source author and I want the world to benefit from my work. Copyrights and patents are evil. 

BTW -- most of the creations upon which the world is built were created without an aim to financial gain by the actual creator. Real creators are generally not dirt-bags trying to ransom otherwise freely accessible wealth. Some well-known (and lucky) creators have made a handsome living. Some have made money well beyond anything equal to their contribution. 

The rationale for why the public should allow patents and copyrights is to encourage the creation of new things such that they are of net benefit to us, the people. 

The people who promoted those concepts were not inventors and authors. They were, and are, parasites that interfere with the creation of new things. Patents have stymied me a couple of times in my career where I had to build on something patented or give it up. I gave it up. 

The current trajectory of patents is to go to where copyrights are now. They will prevent the majority of the world's people from enjoying the benefits of things already long since bought and paid for. 

It takes energy, material and knowhow to make things. Robber Barons sewed up most of the control of the first two things long ago. The cost of energy and material are relatively low and somewhat inflexible. Once things are nearly all automated, knowhow is the only thing in the way. The creation of knowhow is being automated as I write this.

It is evil to deny people access to things that are otherwise freely had. As automation matures, only the people claiming control through patents and copyrights will enjoy the benefits we all have taken part in creating or have inherited from those who came before. 

Most inventors and artists are starving precisely because of the system whose only legitimate purpose was to help them. They generally don't get paid for the work they do. Unless we make it otherwise, the future holds extremities of poverty for all but the tiny few whose claimed ownership is enforced by the apparatus of the state. 

This grotesque situation is not new. It was ever thus. What is new is the extent to which fundamental rights to access the commons are being stripped away. What is new is the sweeping power to surveil of those in charge and their puppet states. We are approaching a time where essentially unlimited abundance is withheld from most of us. Poverty and want are mean-spirited policy decisions made on behalf of those illegitimately in power.

"The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit- and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains. And the smell of rot fills the country. Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs and bury them and let the putrescence drip down into the earth.

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate- died of malnutrition- because the food must rot, must be forced to rot. The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed. And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze; and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage." -- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath.

 


Using older people as a guide

Someone was giving sage advice that you should look at older people and how they got where they are and take their path if you want what they have. 

They got this backwards. You should look at people a decade or two older to get an idea of what an older person wants. You will be that older person one day. As you should have noticed by now, your tastes and priorities change over time. My kids do not sport tattoos. It was all the rage when they were younger. It is still a thing now. I cautioned them that as an adult they would not likely want a child to choose a permanent mark on their skin. If you still think it is a promising idea to get that cartoon character on your ankle or still have an infatuation with that boy band guy when you are in your thirties, then you can still get it. You might be able to get it changed or alter your skin, but you cannot un-get a tattoo. 

If you make a long-term commitment to pay for that thing you want now, you commit your future self to living with the consequences. 

Live for today but be mindful of the person you will be tomorrow. 


ASCII Table

Putting ASCII table here because ugh copyright Bob Trower -- License: Copy and use as you please 
Image here, but text below.
 

ASCII Table

Non-Printing Characters

Printing Characters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name

Ctrl char

 Dec

 Hex

 Char

Dec

 Hex

 Char

Dec

 Hex

 Char

Dec

 Hex

 Char

null

ctrl-@

0

0

NUL

32

20

Space

64

40

@

96

60

`

start of heading

ctrl-A

1

1

SOH

33

21

!

65

41

A

97

61

a

start of text

ctrl-B

2

2

STX

34

22

"

66

42

B

98

62

b

end of text

ctrl-C

3

3

ETX

35

23

#

67

43

C

99

63

c

end of xmit

ctrl-D

4

4

EOT

36

24

$

68

44

D

100

64

d

enquiry

ctrl-E

5

5

ENQ

37

25

%

69

45

E

101

65

e

acknowledge

ctrl-F

6

6

ACK

38

26

&

70

46

F

102

66

f

bell

ctrl-G

7

7

BEL

39

27

'

71

47

G

103

67

g

backspace

ctrl-H

8

8

BS

40

28

(

72

48

H

104

68

h

horizontal tab

ctrl-I

9

9

HT

41

29

)

73

49

I

105

69

i

line feed

ctrl-J

10

0A

LF

42

2A

*

74

4A

J

106

6A

j

vertical tab

ctrl-K

11

0B

VT

43

2B

+

75

4B

K

107

6B

k

form feed

ctrl-L

12

0C

FF

44

2C

,

76

4C

L

108

6C

l

carriage feed

ctrl-M

13

0D

CR

45

2D

-

77

4D

M

109

6D

m

shift out

ctrl-N

14

0E

SO

46

2E

.

78

4E

N

110

6E

n

shift in

ctrl-O

15

0F

SI

47

2F

/

79

4F

O

111

6F

o

data line escape

ctrl-P

16

10

DLE

48

30

0

80

50

P

112

70

p

Xon (Xmit on)

ctrl-Q

17

11

DC1

49

31

1

81

51

Q

113

71

q

device control 2

ctrl-R

18

12

DC2

50

32

2

82

52

R

114

72

r

Xoff (Xmit Off)

ctrl-S

19

13

DC3

51

33

3

83

53

S

115

73

s

device control 4

ctrl-T

20

14

DC4

52

34

4

84

54

T

116

74

t

neg acknowledge

ctrl-U

21

15

NAK

53

35

5

85

55

U

117

75

u

synchronous idel

ctrl-V

22

16

SYN

54

36

6

86

56

V

118

76

v

end of xmit block

 ctrl-W

23

17

ETB

55

37

7

87

57

W

119

77

w

cancel

ctrl-X

24

18

CAN

56

38

8

88

58

X

120

78

x

end of medium

ctrl-Y

25

19

EM

57

39

9

89

59

Y

121

79

y

substitute

ctrl-Z

26

1A

SUB

58

3A

:

90

5A

Z

122

7A

z

escape

ctrl-[

27

1B

ESC

59

3B

;

91

5B

[

123

7B

{

file separator

ctrl-\

28

1C

FS

60

3C

<

92

5C

\

124

7C

|

group separator

ctrl-]

29

1D

GS

61

3D

'=

'93

'5D

']

'125

'7D

'}

record separator

'ctrl-^

'30

'1E

'RS

'62

'3E

'>

'94

'5E

'^

'126

'7E

'~

unit separator

'ctrl-_

'31

'1F

'US

'63

'3F

'?

'95

'5F

'_

'127

'7F

'DEL

 

AI Alignment and Security Now!

As far as I know, people charged with 'Alignment' at AI companies are not convinced things are safe enough and some have quit becaus...