Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Intelligent Design

Reuters"A judge on Tuesday barred the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution at a Pennsylvania school, saying in a scathing rebuke to the school board that it violated a constitutional ban on teaching religion in public schools."They still don’t get it.
They’ll never get it.

Whether Intelligent Design is good theory or bad (and I say that there’s an important kernel of sense at least related to it) is irrelevant:
The state should have no say whatsoever in what’s taught
to whom:
Not when, not where, not how.

Thus sayeth the founder of FLEX.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Teacher Dependence

The (ahem) higher the organism, the better capable of learning from experience. Kleptocracies don’t want citizens learning from experience on their own, and the kleptocracy’s solution is a state-run school system: learn what the state-appointed teacher says when the state-appointed teacher says it.

Not learning what the state-appointed teacher says when the state-appointed teacher says it gets penalized: you may be left back, you may not be promoted. But no left-back is punished like a drop out; and no drop out is punished like an opt-out.

But the individual most severely punished may be the one who learned something before the teacher gave the command.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Today's first scribble:
Institutions structure and channel a society's illusions, especially its self-deceptions. We have laws, therefore we must be lawful. We have a Justice Department, therefore we must be just. Having a Defense Department proves that we're safe.

Churches prove that we're spiritual, schools that we are learned.

They prove it: if the proved-to are as naive as a typical audience at a typical magic show. But the magician said that the box the coin disappeared into was an ordinary box, he said he had nothing up his sleeves ...

See? If we're fooled by our own lies, then God must be fooled too. If we tell God we're innocent, he has to believe us, doesn't he? And if we say we're sorry, he has to forgive us. So we can all get into heaven: whole, with our stolen ideas, deeding our stolen lands.

The museum is very careful to show the provenance of the Van Gogh: donated by Mrs. Eli Watkins. The scholar at the university cites his college at the other university. Still: God knows, and we all know: Van Gogh didn't get paid. Mrs. Watkinds can't have owned it. And it doesn't matter if Professor Smith credits Professor Jones if both are hoarding water that nature gave to everything.

Institutions PS

Second Draft:
Institutions magnify our natural tendency to confuse map with territory. We think the word is the thing, the actor is the character. On top of that old established and bloated institutions can milk the confusion. Gathering together for hymns, the church encourages our deception that we're godly, spiritual; not thieves living on stolen land with the royalties for our ideas largely unpaid.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

School's Purpose

School's Purpose: Pogrom from the Populace

The more words that go up at InfoAll.org, at Knatz.com, at Macroinformation.org [all pk domains censored, deleted, destroyed in 2007], the more embarrassed I become at how incomplete it all is. It isn’t just that the zoo is never the environment, the terrarium never the forest; I leap to start first tier ideas, then leap to jot stuff for the second, third ... tenth tier. The nth tier is a lot easier to write for than the top. The top is so complex, so full of uncertainties, so embarrassing. And dealing with it at all, even thinking of dealing with it gets one into so much trouble. Isn’t it bad enough that I’ve already been ignored, fired, beat up, shunned, misunderstood, lied about ... for most of the past half century?

I posted a section to gather thoughts on the purpose of school soon after posting a home page. Most important, it mentions Lauter and Howe’s 1969 analysis. Equally important it mentions Illich’s 1970 analysis. It mentions that Lauter and Howe quickened my receptivity to Illich. I have never doubted that Illich knew the Lauter and How material: they all published in the NYR. But my own additions quickly became, and remain, a mess: despite numerous starts at improvement. Indeed, one of my thoughts in starting this blog was to provide an easy place to straighten out my School’s Purpose section.

Women proposed Ms. to replace Mrs. and Miss, but instead of one title they wound up with three. Here I intend to simplify, to coordinate, but at the moment it’s just another damn file.

I want to emphasize two points, to blend them, to relate them to all else. I don’t have the time to see where I’ve already made these points or to coordinate them all. There is no final variorum edition of human learning; just ever more rubble. Yet understanding, learning, even wisdom, is possible. But you have to do some of the work.

No culture will allow political leaders to be chosen by a robot simply selecting the highest IQ, the most compendious learning. Schools, including universities, express a culture’s homeostasis: we want to nourish these ideas and starve those, we want to reward this behavior and punish that. At no point are the standards objective. A scientist can scarf public funds and get tenure falsifying obscure technical theories, but not popular beliefs. The public will tolerate the honing of technique -- build bigger bombs, seek bigger, quicker profits -- but will tar and feather any individual or group that threatens to become too wise for the entire group’s comfort or convenience.

We say that schools pursue excellence: we leave out the necessary qualifiers: in some things.

And that’s why unemployable, never rewarded pk (what more can you do to me?), more and more inventories well know exceptions: from Jesus to Abelard to Galileo ... to Reich, Leary ... Illich, pk.
If the group sandbags you, you’re in elite company.

Any university can display a stack of geniuses it honored. What we need to see, next to its list, is an inventory of genius it was blind to. Who did it ignore? Who did it fire? Whose work got subverted, smeared, invidiously caricatured? Ditto any institution. Oh goody, Olympia published Lolita when no one else would (one of the great modern novels, THE quintessential Twentieth-century love story); what DIDN’T Olympia publish? Oh, goody, the MLA published this and that, supported him and her; but the MLA rejected Henry Adam’s Mont Saint Michel et Chartres!

Some network is currently featuring "good news" on the news: common people "trying to make a difference." In 2005 no news organ has yet given honest coverage to 1970’s FLEX!

Everyone pretends not to notice the fart at the wedding. When Illich’s work got near the heart of our dilemmas, suddenly his fortunes reversed: the world’s most famous priest disappeared, right before our eyes: a conspiracy of the craven. The public can doubt the Warren Commission, but the public must never doubt itself: no matter what crimes its commiting. We’ll die of stupidity before we’ll admit to stupidity.

Driving a couple of students to go skiing back in 1968 they were grousing about the college interfering with their liberty to smoke dope, to fuck in the hallways. I assured them that the in loco parentis the-hell-with-due-process administration was the only thing keeping the whole campus from getting burned to the ground by the good witch-hunters of Salem. The college knows how slippery its foundation is. A little bit of flouting the culture is OK, so long as the students are branded as YOUNG, so long as they’re unemployed, so long as they’re cloistered. But the privileged-to-be-useless Mandarin larvae had better leave their Saturnalias -- and their thinking -- far short of the threshold that will trigger a pogrom from the populace.


A Michael Crichton character says, "Third world countries can leapfrog. They skip telephone lines and go right to cellular."
True. And so 1960s Ivan Illich.

I remember Illich saying that in the future developed countries would have to call on undeveloped countries for aid.
I remember Illich saying that Third World countries shouldn’t try any new drugs until the First World had had several decades in which to fail to kill themselves with them.
1970s Illich didn’t seem to go in so facilely for dramatic prophecy: safer, wiser in a way, but I still have a soft spot for futurist balderdash: much of which DOES come to pass.
Early on in his deschooling, like 1970, I remember Illich saying that children would have to discipline their parents.

Yes, yes.
That’s a cartoon of evolution. It’s 1984 though when the kids report dad and mom to the AUTHORITIES!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Illich on Cultural Imperialism

Just minutes ago I posed comments at my Iona Arc blog (that I look forward to icorporating into Knatz.com and into InfoAll.org [both now censored]) detailing some of what Ivan Illich was up to before he devised deschooling (thereby inventing 50-90% of the internet).
You can see the raw stuff at IonaArc.

[My five domains as of 2006 were censored by a federal court, 2007 Feb. 21. This 2008, 2009 I'm trying to recreate some of the roughly 3,000 files as blog posts: like painting 4D in 2D.]

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Meretricious Internet

I’ve said it before, everywhere, but I must say it again today: Illich’s design for networking public information offered anyone, everyone, an ad, as many ads as they wanted; but no ad would be highlighted. My implementation at FLEX, my plans for further implementation as FIX, had no place for popup ads.

Just now I was doing some of my daily my.Yahoo.com browsing and an animated ad for some current TV shows intruded right into the news coverage. I’d asked for selected Reuters sports stories, and an ad flashes under my nose telling me that Las Vegas is America’s Most Outrageous City: see it on some channel.

Any institution, even ideally, is supposed to channel human behavior somewhat. Imagine the bride coming down the aisle of the church. Guys are not supposed to be hitting on her as she walks. No whores are supposed to solicit the groom as he waits by the altar. Once they’re back out on the street, they’re on their own. But the church is supposed to give them a few moments peace.

In my offered internet of 1970 -- FLEX was in NYC, but I offered to coordinate all the world’s FLEXes, expecting of course for NYC and the world to pay me. My habits were scholarly (as well as dissolute, indulgent). When I roamed the stacks at Columbia, at NYU, I took protection from whores, blaring radios, billboards, assault by TV ads ... for granted. Sure, somebody could try to move in on you: more likely some queer than a chick, but mostly it was peaceful, quite: distractions absent. When I moved into the Shakespeare section, the contents of the books on the shelves were by Shakespeare. Nearby were books about Shakespeare: his period, the plays, etc. No porn ads flashed among the Tragedies. If there was porn, it was by Shakespeare, and in the plays. Nothing jumped out at me from the Comedies caterwauling about Ford trucks.

Do you see what I mean? You could have had an internet as quiet, as cheap, as non-intrusive as a nice dictionary. You look up the word "man." There it is: alphabetically ordered, there for you, but minding its own business. No links blink at you for the word "woman," or "dyke," or "faggot." What words there are are to the point, the point you’ve chosen, and merely in black and white. You don’t have such an internet; because you didn’t support it when it was offered.

Hell, I still offer it; but it’s too late now. And I’m so pissed off that if you did suddenly support it, I might just sell central, loud space on it to Las Vegas. I’m so pissed off, I might give it to Caesar’s Palace.

I wrote that before I was arrested! (2006) Before my online writing was censored! (2007) Imagine how pissed off I am now!

I add new comments today, 2009 04 10.

Monday, November 07, 2005

School mot

School isn’t just where we imprison and brainwash children (brainwash immigrants, retro-fit adults ...), it’s also HOW we do it.

Like viruses injecting their DNA into other organisms.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


ReutersThe prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology said on Thursday it had fired a professor who admitted to falsifying research data in several manuscripts, grant applications and a research report.Cheating and science are incompatible. Where cheating occurs, any science had already evaporated (to reappear: any elsewhere, any elsewhen).

Cheating and institutions go together like ham and eggs, like man and society.

Why do we even have an MIT in 2005: when I offered FLEX in 1970. With learning deregulated, with certification taboo, cheating would still take place; but it would be uncertified, have no Imprimatur.

Why do we still have an MIT? Because the public chose not to liberate itself. And now we’re where we belong: mortal, godless, clueless ... governed by cheating.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Governed Ceilings

Low bridge, everybody down.

Schools (modern, coerced, state-run) are politically empowered to educate. That word is associated with intelligence, knowledgeability, skill ... But a ceiling is (silently) set: one pleasing to the propertied (those in their majority), and acceptable (that is, something short of inciting revolution) to the (minimally propertied to unpropertied) numerical majority.

One ceiling that nearly everyone approves is that the school epistemology remain primitive: so that the majorities (of nearly all kinds) can be fooled that their institutions are in fact performing as idealized: the church is getting us into heaven, the doctors are making us immortal, the economists are making us richer, the military is making life safe, the schools are turning sows-ears into silk purses.

And those who don’t approve? We don’t count.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Mama, Papa, the State ... School

Context: School's Purpose:

Jesus spoke of the left hand not knowing what the right hand does. Complex species get compartmentalized. So too complex societies. One professor at Harvard may know what some other professor at Harvard -- in his own department -- is doing, but does he know what some other professor at Harvard is doing in some other department? Does anyone at Harvard know what some professor is doing with Koba’s funding in Siberia?
The kids sit in the living room watching TV: what are mama and papa doing lingering in their bedroom? Mama and papa sit in the living room watching TV: what is young Missy doing at that party? in her date’s jalopy?

Mama and papa sit at the dining table: what is the school doing with Missy and with Buddy? What is the army doing with their older son, Ted: far off in the desert?

Females bear the babies: that’s written not only into the species but into the Genus, the Family ... much of the Order. Neither mama and papa nor congress has anything to do with it. On average among our sort of mammal, papa is bigger than mama. But mama is much bigger than baby: and baby knows it. Baby is for the time being helpless. Trust is the only choice. Same with contemporary citizens and their states. Most mamas are trustworthy: at least with their own babies, most of the time. Uh, states ...?

One doesn’t need to know much anthropology to recognize that in some societies the men band together and take every boy of a certain age away from mama. Until he’s seven or eight, the boy is with mama (and his sisters) nearly all the time. Then suddenly he’s with the men: all the time. Sometimes the men go off somewhere: how well does mama (with her daughters) know what the men are doing?

Not always, not often, but sometimes, someone notices something: detects a significant difference. Gregory Bateson was studying the latmul people of Papua New Guinea. Bateson used a camera as well as his mind, paper, and pencil (and a little funding). Bateson photographed the latmul women nursing their babies. He photographed them routinely, systematically, frustrating the infant’s lust for the nipple, for its milk. Photographs and text were published in 1938: Naven. (Naven is hard to come by. It’s the one Bateson book I have never held, let alone read.)

Notice: the latmul people are not known for producing any Alexanders, Napoleons ... Newtons.

I am not Bateson. And I presume that you are not either. Neither are either of us Margaret Mead. But it’s vital that we notice some things about our different hands, our pockets, the different rooms ... and institutions in our society: especially those institutions that coerce our thoughts, and our children, away from us.

A primary purpose of school is to remove the child from its biological family, to separate it from its cultural matrix. In the Soviet, Koba was your daddy, he took you from mommy. In the free kleptocracies, the school, not the church, the school, becomes your mommy: and your daddy: your Koba.

In primitive societies, where the men took the boy, to make a man of him, those societies actually endured: from then till recently. The tenure of schooled societies is recent. It’s a little early to say much: regarding time, becoming, endurance. The societies where the men took the boys endured, evolved, over many millennia. Still, their populations sum merely in the millions. The populations of developed or developing kleptocracies number in the billions, with more and more all the time. By one measure that makes them already more successful than everything that went before put together. But can it last? Should it last?

My school took me from my matrix. That in itself was the main lesson. But there were many other lessons as well. Very early my school taught me that Western culture was good: very good; and that the things I was passionate about, Louis Armstrong, the Benny Goodman band, were merely amusing distractions, not worth mention in the schools. By the time I was twelve my school had taught us that democracy meant inventing a Republican Party and a Democratic Party: and no other parties!
My university seemed more liberal: until I tried to express new blends of perception. If my perception matched the curriculum, I was wonderful; if it wasn’t recognizable as a rewash of the old agenda, my liberal professors were stone deaf. Blind, and proud of it, rewarded, funded.

If we all live on and on, if it turns out that we never really needed air, water, wilderness, variety ... a random, why then we’ll be vastly more successful, by biology’s only measure, than the societies that took the boy away, or the even older societies that didn’t (or did, but less so). Maybe, if we find other planets to colonize, other masses to terraform, we’ll be successful indefinitely. Maybe we never really needed real intelligence, real freedom, real markets. Maybe centralized management, by morons, is what God wants for us.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Order without authority.
Is that a paradox? A teasing question.

FLEX offered to gather and make available voluntary information on the society's resources. That's an order. But it didn't tell anybody what they must then do with it. That's non-authoritarian.

Thirty-five years after vainly offering this service I'm still tickled by the contrast between the anarchist nature of FLEX and the autocratic rigidity necessary for its administration. The director must cleave to the ideal: entirely undemocratically; but then the public could use it however they wished.


Order: that's what we have (with or without civilization).
Authority: that's what we also have (under ciilization become kleptocracy).


That's what I'm for!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Public Coordinations

By now everyone knows how General Motors made sure that good public transportation would never materialize in any foreseeable, practical future. For the city developing fastest in the early 20th Century, Los Angeles, the city that needed current sensible design the most, GM bought up huge lots of key land. The corporation could bring its full power to resist any claims of eminent domain. By comparison, seeding DC with lobbyists to talk down efficiency and public interests was chicken feed.
Still had the public any mind in its own interests, GM and DC could have been gotten around, if not defeated.

How about TV? How come the public didn't march on DC to demand that TV be paid for by those interested in watching TV? A paying audience has a big say, even if it's an indirect say, a delayed say, in what it's fed. Coke was a nickel. Pay a nickel for a Coke, send a nickel to the network: I want Shakespeare! I want Dickens! I want naked girls! Coke would still be a nickel, and for a dime we'd have a Coke, and with it, Shakespeare, Dickens, naked girls ... And no commercials! (Look at the price of Coke now! And look at all the commercials!)
Did the networks seed DC with lobbyists? Notice how it's escalated. Ad allotments encroach further and further into the entertainment. (pk has elsewhere commented on how the "entertainment" is itself largely advertising: for the network, for the culture, for the nation ...) I know of no Spooners or Thoreaus or pks running around agitating for politically free TV ("free" meaning you pay for it, pay for what you want) while the networks were sinking their tap roots deep into the economy; but that doesn't mean there weren't a dozen of them: the dominants control the lighting – and otherwise, shadow is our natural condition.

My life in the early 1970s was devoted to offering the public a cheap, government-free internet. Since 1995 my life has been devoted to broadcasting the public's many missed opportunities: none more important that the public remaining asleep until the Pentagon, a few universities, and CERN foisted an expensive internet on us instead. Don't get me wrong: the internet on which you read this is certainly better than none; but it's a far cry short of what nearly all ignored in 1970, 1971, 1972 ... (I know that I'm a pariah, I can't know, I don't know that anyone can know, quite how many actual sabotages were involved: plain inertia can explain most if not all of it.)

Perhaps in seventy years everyone will know how pk and his cheap, free internet were sabotaged.
Hey, that would mean that we're very lucky! That there would actually be people in seventy years to believe anything: anything at all!
(Jared Diamond sees cultures like the United States lasting that long and longer: and he's studied it closely. And he's smart as hell. Still, I'm not so sure.) (Partly a Christian hangover, partly hope.) (A desire for revenge.)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Experience versus Theater

I want to establish two basic pictures, then overlap them, jiggle them, get new patterns.

Bees spend most of their time in the hive: a bee-made environment. Honey bees are social creatures. The busiest worker, the farthest ranging forager, still spends a great deal of time lounging around the hive, while other workers work. One-third of the time the forager ranges the hive's environment; two-thirds of the time the bee is surrounded by BeeCity. Wolf pups spend their most helpless days in the den: a natural environment modified by mother wolf: at least to the extent of her warmth, her fur, her tits ... her licking up their crap after them. But the pack of wolves work much of the whole of their land environment. They may tred lanes but they don't pave highways, erect structures, legislate laws. New paths are seldom trod: and when they are, they'r'e cut by the alpha wolf: alone. Man as a baby lives in a totally artificial environment: and as an adult worker still encounters only managed environments. "Reality" for TV means a carefully managed cast wearing scripted costumes on some "island": surrounded by producers, directors, coaches ... cameras ...
The alpha buck may blaze a new trail; some young buck who hasn't won a confrontation yet may go off into the woods all withershis; the tenured professor 99% of the time covers ground already well mapped, and generally by others.
Even our language, though it resists management, is perpetually tampered at. (I just wrote a piece for example on societies, with political motivation, forever recasting the meaning of

That's one picture, sketched briefly. The other is that any thing, any institution for example, is potentially ambiguous. That is, a school may be used to train engineers, as well as possible, as fast as possible; or a school, even the same school, may be used prevent learning, to govern and stunt it. If the student is doing math twelve hours a day, then the student is not likely to be also reading Wittgenstein, or writing manifestos. The society may send a young man to West Point hoping for a follower who can also lead, technically proficient at war, to be put in harm's way; or, if Eisenhower's White House hears of imminent attack, grandson David could be sent to West Point to keep him out of harm's way.

We live not on earth but in a world, a social artifact. The Jew who resides at 112 West 112th Street, apartment 3A, does not live in the same world as the Baptist who resides at 112 West 112th Street, apartment 3B. The kid who goes to Friends Academy does not learn of the same world as the kid who attends PS 189. The guy who digs ditches for a living does not work in the same world as David at West Point.
And our managed environments are managed for shifting agendas in a society of ever-shifting powers. One senator is committed to oil: finding it any where, any way; another is committed is keeping water for the cattlemen; down the hall is a senator committed to getting water for the sheep herders. All the talk is of the people ... whatever the hell that means. One upon a time all the talk was about God, or about the Church. Before that, all the talk was about rain magic.

Eden is not Nature; though Eden is palmed on us as though it were nature. This and that world is palmed on us as though it were the earth. This and that culture palms itself onto its (not typically voluntary) members as though it were life. Man is a subset of life, one of many. Confusion however is to the advantage of the managers.I joined the navy to see the world
And what did I see? I saw the sea.
That was a funny gag in 1946. Though as we grow up and die off, fewer and fewer people will remember what the song was about. Navy recruiters advertised See the world. Hell, people had come home from WWI and they had seen Gay Paree.I pause to interject a Tolstoyism. Few people, including the educated, have a clue what their motives are: until they read about them in the paper, or are told by some priest, or some Freudian. After the priest, you can say, "The devil made me do it." After the Freudian, you can say, "I couldn't help myself."
In all cases, our managers, would-be and actual, want us all to be in the same story.
Any of these points can be expanded indefinitely. I intend to expand some. But I quote the post-war musical to bring the concept of synecdoche into our weave. Synecdoche is the figure by which we say Behold a sail when we mean Look at the boat. We symbolize a whole by a part. As I have argued nature was already using synecdoche when it programmed caterpillars to climb toward the light in order to find food. Leaves are not a part of light, but they are generally found, by caterpillars, in the direction of light. The association has worked, keeping caterpillars alive, for many a year. And, you see, my point is that cultures also use synecdoches, associations: sometimes to enlighten; more often to confuse.

I'll go on about schools when I return.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Medium : Message

The medium is the message. That's what Marshall McLuhan said in the 1960s. Of course he was already a smart dude, but it was in the '60s that more of us noticed.

That is, at least, more of us noticed that he had become famous. How many people who can say his name can then also give an intelligible account of two or three of the many smart things he said? Take that title statement for example: what does it mean?

I vote that ivan Illich was one person who got at least part of it. Around 1970 he applied the McLuhan principle to schooling: what is the fundamental lesson of schooling? (of modern schools, of state-coordinated, compulsory (ahem) education? Simple: that you have to be there!inserted: doesn't quite scan with what follows, but this is a first draft, complexifying into a second.
That is in perfect keeping with the fundamental message of a government: monopoly! this is your government, you have no other. Preferences are treason. Has there ever been a society that allowed a choice of governments?
Has there ever been a society that allowed a choice of cultures? (Long before the stork is summoned, could there be a way station in heaven where the incipient soul is asked if it prefers to be a headhunter or a cannibal? a Christian or a Jew? a Communist or a Capitalist?)
What's the basic message of society? Whoa! Society is complexity personified: surely it betrays a host of fundamental messages. Indeed I bet that the bulk of them are contradictory! Still I'll pick one: a few judge the behavior of many.

Thus, schools will tend to be a distillation of the society displaying the school: a committee gangs up on the larger public. In some cases, in graduate oral examination, for example, the committee gangs up on an individual. The medium is the message: beyond this committee, there is no appeal. The decision of the judges is final.

That's the fundamental message of the Supreme Court as well, isn't it? What else does "supreme" mean? There's no god here, folks. We (the secular) are supreme.

Now in theism, it's God who's supreme. The decision of God is final. This is the final analysis.

But in time, nothing is final: time keeps ticking!

Science trumps God by not being final!

Wait for more evidence. Wait forever.

That's just a start. Not that I haven't said each part before. Maybe I've even coordinated them. But not quite this way.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Macro Differences

Any society preserves some records. Once the preservation was oral, now preservation comes in a range of media, including digital, including web archives. But the ideal of pk's Free Learning Exchange is still nowhere near being met.
George Bernard Shaw in Man and Superman imagined heaven as a state of being stripped of illusions: not a nice place at all. In hell things were as you wished them to be; in heaven things were as they were. Imagine Judgment Day as an event where man presents his version(s) of things: then God puts a chill on it by telling the truth.
In society we can read the Times's list of best sellers. We can buy, we can even read, the best sellers. Annually we can read the Times's announcement of the issuing of Nobel Prizes. We can read about Pulitzer Prizes. We can follow the Academy Awards. Much will be on TV. After the Awards we can anticipate reruns of some winners at local theaters.
Had pk's FLEX (Free Learning EXchange) been supported, had it been cloned into every community, had the communities cooperated in being coordinated, anyone, anywhere, anytime, could have also looked up books that didn't get a Pulitzer, movies that didn't win an Oscar ... Provided that the authors submitted them, you could have looked up digital transforms of manuscripts that didn't get published, scripts that never found a sponsor, patent applications that weren't granted ...
You can go to an old university and read theses going back centuries. At FLEX you could research those (if submitted) and (if submitted) papers that didn't earn a Ph.D., papers that were rejected. What about what the kid tried to say to the teacher but was prevented? Yes, if the kid writes it out and submits it.
What if the kid was lying? What if the kid writes it out badly? That's tough: raw data is the game.
What about God and his chilling voice of truth? Ah, with Flex anyone and everyone could try his own hand at judgment. 24/7.
Chaos? or revelation? That would depend on the judgments.I expect that some portion of visitors would know that Einstein's high school physics teacher went out of his way to sabotage Relativity, to prevent Einstein's paper from being published. How many also know that Suskind's paper first elucidating string theory was in fact rejected? Schwartz's was ridiculed. But even before that, Einstein himself delayed the publication of Kaluza's paper on dimensions for two years!
(If that's how scientists behave, what about the rest of us?)
Science depends on the recognition of peers. What if you have no peers?
Under institutional management, possible peers may be impossible to locate.

If he says, "No, I didn't," and she says, "Yes, you did," that's a difference. If we say, "Aren't we wonderful?" and God says, "Here's the truth!" that's a macro-difference. The difference is not only orthogonal, it changes the temperature, changes the season.
If the Nineteenth Century says, "Wordsworth and Byron are our best poets," and the Twentieth Century says "Shelley and Keats and Blake were just as good," the one age puts a chill on the judgment of the other age. If some other age says, "Wha'? Who cares?" that too is a macro-difference.
The macro-difference that pk imagines, and seems to imagine alone, prompts the question, How can people stand to have their information managed, packaged, edited?

Selection is fine: so long as it clearly bears the name of the selectors: These are Lefty's picks for Hialeah. This is Bob Costas's Short List of Great Sports Moments. This is Professor Moriarty's reading list for detective fiction. Here's who The NASCREEP wants you to vote for. FLEX would have made available all such submitted lists. NBC could submit a list of programs it wants you to watch tonight. FLEX, supported by NBC and by the public, would make the list available.

As FLEX coordinator, pk would say nothing. As a FLEX user, pk could say, "Ooo, I like Lefty's picks."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Institutional versus Individual Filters

Has there ever been a society that could levelly countenance any subject? I mean ANY subject? Has there ever been such an individual? Could any institution within any society ever possibly be even-handed or level-headed about any (x) or all (x-inclusive) challenges?
I don't think so.
And pk specializes in probing the margins.

Mythology is handy: it provides recognizable SYMBOLIC examples:
Could any group of Jews level-headedly consider whether or not a particular group of rabbis two millennia ago unfairly flushed away a prophet with candidacy for Messiah?
Could any group of Catholics level-headedly consider whether or not any particular heresy deserved the harsh treatment it in fact received from their ancestors' hands?
Could any group of Americans level-headedly consider whether or not any particular parcel of their most-prime real estate was legally acquired?

Ask any religion: How many messengers of truth have you homeostatically but wrongly tortured as a heretic?
How many will answer none? if they deign to answer at all?

Ask any state: How many would-be reformers have you homeostatically but wrongly censored, imprisoned, blackballed ... as a radical? a trouble-maker?
How many will answer none? if they deign to answer at all?

Ask any university: How many messengers of truth have you homeostatically but wrongly mis-identified and mis-labeled? And in how many cases did you abridge your own rules in order to dismiss them, not understand them, blackball them, give them no fair hearing?
How many will answer none? if they deign to answer at all?

just starting, more coming
the context being initiation of a conversation with a professor about pk's repressed Shakespeare thesis

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Teacher Speak

It was Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough that lodged clearest in my mind the culture-politics component of sub-languages within a language. Frazer cited a tribe in Africa where the peers spoke the culture's language while the tribe's women were restricted to a women-speak of seriously reduced vocabulary, all the more taboos, and an imperative toward euphemism. In women-speak for example the dead could not be named: therefore the woman had to exercise considerable ingenuity to come up with a new euphemism each time a departed had to be referred to. A guy named Like-a-Lion, once dead, would have to be called, say, Fierce-One in one mention, Yellow-Mane in another ...
(Don't think for a moment that pk doesn't recognize a biological component to culture-politics, particularly as regards gender; but let's tip our hat to it, then leave it alone, at least for the moment: we don't know nearly well enough what we're talking about to get too fussy.)
In the movie Girlfight we meet the female students in the Michelle Rodriguez' character's school (Diana Guzman) more than the males. Taboos once thought to apply in our own culture, especially to females, are not strictly operative in the Girlfight world. Diana and her fat ugly friend walk down the street. They pass a slender girl who's clearly looked in the mirror while dressing. Diana mocks her and her ilk to the amusement of the fat girl: Oh, let me put my lipstick on just perfect before I give you a blow job: which is all I'm good for.
In the school hallway Diana hauls off and clobbers that mannequin (or a clone, who knows?)
"Fuckin' bitch," they scream.
Teachers arrive and separate them.
(I remember from my own highschool days the shortest of all possible male teachers plucking the football hero from a melee by the scruff of his neck. There's something to being thirty over being eighteen.)
Now here's my point. As suddenly as crossing into Florida from Georgia, or from Switzerland into France, or from Kansas into Oz, the diction changes. The teachers speak; but they say neither "fucking" nor "bitch." Neither does the principal once Diana is once again there: fighter, trouble-maker.
Soon we have a scene at Diana's home: Dad, Diana, brother. The diction is of the same base as we saw among the girls in the school hallway.
It's the teachers – and this part is utterly real – who speak teacher-speak.
And we can imagine them speaking teacher-speak in the teacher's lounge as well. What they speak once they're home though may well be the same as the general language.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Gresham's Law: Beyond Economics

pk makes little study of economics, but even pk had heard of Gresham's Law:
Bad money drives out good.

bk's recent interest has had some impact on pk's ignorance, especially with bk supplying the library, but pk's skepticism that economics could possibly be a real science has been inveterate. Nevertheless one point really hits home for me. I quote from Section 7 of Murray N. Rothbard's What Has Government Done to Our Money?: [In a common view]
... the free market cannot be trusted to serve the pubic in supplying good money. But this formulation rests on a misinterpretation of Gresham's famous law. The law really says that "money overvalued artificially by government will drive out of circulation artificially undervalued money." Suppose, for example, there are one-ounce gold coins in circulation. After a few years of wear and tear, let us say that some coins weigh only .9 ounces. Obviously, on the free market, the worn coins would circulate at only ninety percent of the value of the full-bodied coins, and the nominal face-value of the former would have to be repudiated. If anything, it will be the "bad" coins that will be driven from the market. But suppose the government decrees that everyone must treat the worn coins as equal to new, fresh coins, and must accept them equally in payment of debts. What has the government really done? It has imposed price controls by coercion on the "exchange rate" between the two types of coin. By insisting on the par-ratio when the worn coins should exchange at ten percent discount, it artificially overvalues the worn coins and undervalues new coins. Consequently, everyone will circulate the worn coins, and hoard or export the new. "Bad money drives out good money," then, not on the free-market, but as the direct result of governmental intervention in the market.
Government monopolizes more things than money. Government mints dollars by fiat, controls values artificially. Government mints lots of things by fiat, artificially controlling more and more values: a school system, a postal system, justice, medicine ... We have to accept dolt after schmuck by government label: as quality leeches from the society: exported or hoarded (or, just as likely, extinct).
I post this at the InfoAll blog (as I develop it) because the first area I want to extend it to is education: schooling.
2005 03 09 insert: I think I started this well enough, but just as I arrived at my real start, here, other things drained my momentum. So, it doesn't get well done all at once. Life can be like that.
More Trust Misplaced: Gresham's Law in Education
Scholars got together, put their personal libraries relating to their profession onto a common table. Thus was Yale founded. The scholars were of course self-appointed, but the market ratified them: more than one, more than two persons who wanted to learn went to Yale. They gained thereby access both to the scholars' books and to the scholars. Graduates prospered, more people went to Yale. That's as free a market as was possible in Eli Yale's time. Other scholars had already gathered around precious manuscripts at Cambridge, at the Sorbonne. The more books there are, the more disciplines, the more important universities became.
Those earliest and early universities were based on a natural kind of gold standard for learning: the good scholars know who they are, tend to know each other; the government doesn't know who they are, except second hand.
Once upon a time gold and money were (not quite) interchangeable. Once upon a time quality and universities had some mutual acquaintance. But then government got into the game of mining education: by fiat of course.
The good scholars didn't leave Yale when the University of Connecticut was founded. One or two might have been lured, but not the bulk. No: new scholars had to be printed. Lots and lots of them.
With the population increasing, with leisure on the upswing, naturally, the number of scholars would have waxed; but not at the rate that fiat scholars were hired.
Metal coins wear naturally. Metal coins can also be clipped. The minting of coins can also be fraudulent, whether private or municipal.
Those thoughts I shall develop further (especially I wish to iterate the theme of goods and qualities overvalued artificially by government), but for the moment I want another tack in mind as well: no university has ever gathered all the best scholars. The most free marketplace has never contained all goods. Homeostasis operates in scholarship as it operates in all complex systems. Astronomers ganged up on Galileo. Physicists ganged up on Einstein. Doctors ganged up on Walter Reed ... Then they were converted. When Jesus visited Jerusalem for Passover the priests of the Temple were highly learned men. As a group they did not take to Jesus' teaching, refused to be wowed by the stories that accompanied him. The best university may represent in general the best scholarship, but may reject the very best scholar: or some percentage of the very best. The list of geniuses that Harvard didn't hire, or hired only to bounce is staggering. (That list of course can never be up to date: we, as a group, will never know who today's VanGogh is.) (That's why VanGoghs, the Gospels ..., become so valuable once they are reassessed.)

Additional scrap: Any society influences its consituent families in the education of the young. Necessity must influence learning in a society: so does culture. This culture insists on the teaching of the Torah, that culture insistes on the Koran, the other culture insists on the New Testament. One culture might prescribe martial arts for all males, another for all youthful members. Churches have evolved to insist all the more strongly on some aspects of curriculum. Having colonized morality, one religion might further try to colonize say agricultural techniques. Institutions tend to spread. The Jews’ Sabbath limits business to six of seven days.
Modern states colonize the secular, but there’s no stopping.
Money emerged from the complexification of markets. Then governments took over the money. Private coinage predates government issue. Schools too are older than government, but government mints its own version.

See my related piece on Inflation [link will have to be restored]. This all needs further exposition, but there’s a start.

Monday, February 28, 2005


Schools, including universities, are a major finger in the hand(s) that control markets. Schools, including universities, are used to sort who goes where and at what pace in our society.
Where the society is comprised of human beings, schools can help recognize and promote talent. Where the society had been body- and mind-snatched, automata replacing humans, other criteria apply. If I were a robot I too would probably prefer C3PO to John Donne or John Milton.

pk has been through all that again and again, but here's a new tack: actually, a side track.

Once upon a time someone cultivated a potato in order to harvest and eat it: or at least to sell it. In modern markets all sorts of other considerations come into play. One may cultivate a million bushels of potatoes, and harvest them, only to dump them off a cliff: keep the price up: maybe to spite somebody ...

Of course Bucky Fuller said that the basic purpose of higher education was to keep young bucks out of circulation, so the old bucks didn't have to fight them.
So I just have to repeat a story told at Knatz.com in a different connection:
The Philadelphia lawyer I first did art tax shelters with in 1978 got antsy about art shelters for 1979. Instead of just financing graphic multiples that few expected to sell or oil wells where no one expected to find oil (neither would they try very hard), or indy movies with budgets that assured the films' non-completion, Mr. Solomon Liberty, Esq. sold time shares in a railroad freight car permanently parked on a rusty side railing not even connected to the system of railroad tracks. A thirty minute share would lose the reluctant tax payer a quick $30,000.
When I went to graduate school, I was using its rusty labyrinth for my own purposes. I was in no great hurry to butt heads with the old stags.
But once I was ready – anxious, had something to say, something important – I couldn't find a single old stag willing to take on a real challenge.

Had the robots been switched in while I wasn't looking? Or had the switch been completed before I arrived? I'm not sure, but 1968 ... early 1970s really was a time when the fed put the screws to the open-beaked begging institutions, processing only establishment orthodoxy. The old stags have no idea how to battle: their puissance has been bestowed on them by magic, by fiat. No fake society can risk injury to its expensive stage properties, its fake faculty.

The labyrinth, despite its low top, was bottomless.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

All Information

The universe contains all the information in the universe, but not by a system conveniently accessible to sentiences. A human information storage system, to hold all the information in the universe, would have to be bigger than the universe, significantly bigger: but we are not competent to perceive, let alone gather, such information.
A sentience's information storage system can only deal with part of the information, and even so it must select.
Yet, have the information storage systems used thus far by civilizations been wise in their selections?
I think not.
What pk opposes is politically determined selections. That is, institutions promote orthodoxy, ignore (or burn) dissent, label it heresy.

In church my attempts to see universality in religion were harshly discouraged by the adults in charge. Was my thesis "true"? I don't think so now. Nevertheless, the church was cutting off inquiry at its roots.
In school my attempts to celebrate jazz were rudely cut off. Without apology, the teacher who'd given me permission to play a recording for the class, scraped the needle across the grooves, ruining my record, in her haste to censor the "jungle music" once it had commenced. My high school agreed to allow a jazz concert for charity, then violated contract after contract with its arbitrary powers. In college I didn't dare say what I thought. Despite these experiences, my desire to be one of those who monopolized the head of the class, that is, a teacher, prompted me to endure graduate school. The graduate school took my money but wouldn't listen if I had anything interesting to say: and by "interesting," I mean non-standard perception. My vision of Shakespeare's sonnets as warring meta-oxymora which recapitulated the dynamic conflict between Christian orthodoxy and the epistemological heresy of nominalism was interrupted and insulted: unheard: undiscussed: still awaiting analysis or legitimate challenge.

But, through Ivan Illich's design for Learning Webs, I'd already found, had already offered, the solution.
Deregulate information. Disestablish the information regulators: the schools, the universities, the media ... Replace them with a free market place for information.

Would all viable information flourish in a free market? I didn't think so. People are seldom ready for innovative perceptions or solutions: we're so used to our problems as they are: and we're addicted to our failed remedies. Still, let the public itself be responsible for its failings: fire the keepers.

Thus, in simple:
List public resources (and by public I mean volunteered)

List volunteered interests (so people can match themselves)
Publish feedback
from the resources
from the consumers

In 1970 when I offered to be the public librarian for all public information, there were no PCs. There was no internet (just my offer of one). But there were mainframes, and time could be rented. For a pittance (compared to managed information budgets, the public could have freed itself, first of the monopoly of schools, then of all restricted markets: Time-Life, the AMA, the fed ...


Monday, February 21, 2005

To School Or Not to School

In 1970 Ivan Illich began publishing his design for Learning Webs: a set of information repositories by which a society could map its resources: bottom-up. A Learning Web was to list the community's tools available for learning: both human and inanimate. The web would also list information volunteered by individuals so that people could know with whom they might form their own learning circles: bull sessions, practice or discussion groups ... see who they might want to see a movie with or join in a walk. The Learning Web must also publish feedback both from the resources and from the users of the Web: "teachers," "experts" ... may evaluate fellow experts; students, consumers ... may evaluate the resources. If you hire a math teacher, and you say she raped you, the community should have an opportunity to know that you say so.
The Learning Web would not endorse its content: merely list it. Users should do their own evaluating via the Feedback option. Thus, incompetence as well as dangerous behavior would be exposed.

In 1970 pk got very excited by Illich's design. Here was the perfect mechanism for the global village I'd by then seen forecast for a decade. I told Illich that I'd actually do it: become the librarian for the bottom-up community. Anyone who would listen, few as they were, I told that the same design naturally extended to all possible kinds of free markets: doctors, farmers, mechanics ...

Three by five cards could begin the record keeping. With increasing traffic, time on a main frame would be necessary. Star IBM programmers were ready for a pittance to write the software.

By 1975 we should have been in Nirvana. The Web of any community should link with the Webs of any other communities.
Instead what we had was the same-old same-old: politics, wars, elections ... top-down, managed markets, no modern possibly able to figure out the real price any anything from food to shelter to medicine to roads and gas.

By 1975 pk was barely able to stay alive, barely able to keep issuing the message. In 1995 my views on many things had changed; but not my view that the public should be told of the window of opportunity that had closed forever by the mid-1970s. PCs are private, not public: and expensive: especially where the industry is coordinated with planned obsolescence. Hardware and software prices may come down but the budget for them goes up and up. Mainframe time would merely have come down and down: and a community could have subsidized the resourceless with little effort (so long as the population doesn't explode out of bounds).

Ten years of such online scribbling have made my directories a mess, and few people seem to understand the message any better in 2005 than did in 1970. Any god at any judgment should have an easy time showing the public that it has never heard key messages in time for salvation of any sort. I'd rather be a fifteen thousand and sixth unpublished Jesus than Pope of any funded church. (The Church had thrown Illich out before he had designed his Web, lending credence to my conviction that the message was indeed divine.)

Anyway, as awful as the internet that the magicians palmed onto us is, blogging may just solve some of my scribbling problems. Launching an InfoAll.org module takes minutes; posting a blog entry can be accomplished in seconds. Then, I can worry about better ordering InfoAll.org.

Illich Learning Webs

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Illich, Wall, pk

LewRockwell.com recently published an article on Ivan Illich by Richard Wall. That in itself is important enough. But in addition
pk drawing and the author have subsequently been corresponding, and a most welcome correspondence it is.

2011 09 09 This all has a complex history which must be added: after I move everything to pKnatz blog, attempting to reconstruct the censored Knatz.com (and other pk domains).