1. 19
    Urbit in 2017 distributed urbit.org
  1.  

  2. 53

    Ha ha, it’s funny because a white supremacist hid a Nazi joke in a pop culture reference.

    1. 10

      I didn’t see that, was it in the article?

      1. 89

        Early in the article:

        What is an app, anyway? It’s shared computing. Everyone’s data is one data structure, in one program, on one server, owned by one corporation.

        This is a callout to the Nazi slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.

        And then the only other time “shared computing” appears in the document:

        To paraphrase Walter Sobchak: say what you want about the tenets of shared computing, but at least it’s an ethos.

        In the movie The Big Lebowski, the protagonists are harassed by by nihilists that the sort-of militantly Jewish Walter initially assumes are Nazis. When it finally gets through to him, he says, stunned, “Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos.”

        Yarvin is a deliberate, meticulous writer who prides himself on his references. This is not a coincidence, this is a white supremacist laughing at programmers not recognizing that he’s calling competing software Nazis. Well, I happen to be reading up on Yavin’s buddies and I understood that reference.

        He’s laughing at programmers because he knows the technical and political are inseparable, and the longer programmers think so the longer he gets to use them to gain power.

        1. 13

          Fantastic explanation, thank you. I totally understand that the technical and political are inseparable. But one thing still doesn’t make sense to me: Urbit is designed to be “eventually-distributed”, meaning there is no central company (like Facebook or Google) that can control it (ofc Yarvin’s company, Tlon, owns a large part of the Urbit network, but for the sake of argument let’s give the benefit of the doubt and assume Tlon won’t be evil). As such, Yarvin believes he is fighting against technical fascism. And yet he is (or we believe him to be) a white supremacist; white supremacy as an ideology includes the idea of one race “ruling over” or being superior to another race – which is also a form of fascism. So even though Yarvin is building a product to subvert fascism, he also believes in fascist ideals? How do these two things make sense? I figure either

          1. he’s lying about the “eventually-distributed” goal of Urbit, and actually he intends to use Tlon to enact some kind of elitism in the Urbit network. I’m thinking analogously to institutionalized racism, where gerrymandering and obscure laws can be (and have been) enacted to suppress votes from certain demographics.
          2. his ideology is more nuanced than we give him credit for - perhaps what we read as “white supremacy” is something closer to “population genetics”.
          3. he has compartmentalized his white supremacy so as to focus on the less controversial part of his ideology: fighting technical fascism.

          That’s all I can think of. Not sure how much time I want to spend analyzing this stuff. Urbit is technically interesting, but politically confusing, so is it worth investigating? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. 63

            He’s not subverting fascism, he’s enacting a fuedalist fascism. The Nazism references are a winking joke.

            Look back at early docs before he’d invented all the jargon obscuring it. He’s not building a flat, distributed system, he’s building a hierarchy where he and his handpicked buddies literally own the world. Everything else (like the crowdsale) is just a noisy distraction.

            Yarvin believes that some humans exist to be ruled and that historical racial oppressions should be regarded as the normal, desirable expressions of this state of affairs. He also knows that a lot of this is outside the Overton window, so he dances around how he expresses things, burying it under tens of thousands of words of historical references and smirking “but of course I never actually said that” when someone summarizes it or he accidentally says something a little too on the nose.

            Urbit’s fundamental technical structure is an expression of Yarvin’s political philosophy. Urbit exists to create a new serfdom.

            1. 12

              That’s a pretty solidly damning link to that design doc, and it makes the rest of your argument seem a lot sounder to me.

              1. 5

                And yet, from the same doc he goes on to talk about how to avoid monopoly ownership.

                Therefore, the solution to decentralization is to distribute rootkeys as broadly as possible, in such a way that it is as unlikely as possible that they will coalesce.

                1. 3

                  I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn a metaphor. Feudalism isn’t necessarily fascist, although certain feudal lords could certainly employ fascist devices like taking people’s wages or limiting speech. The question should be: is specifically Urbit fascist? I’m not convinced either way (yet).

                  1. 21

                    I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn a metaphor.

                    Programming is metaphor reified.

                    1. -5

                      As long as we are condemning metaphors, why are so many OSS projects named after women? Cassandra, MariaDB, Apache Jena. I always thought it was creepy the way we name databases especially - you know that place we inject our data into - after women. Freud would have a heyday with the OSS community.

                    2. 4

                      He’s not building a flat, distributed system, he’s building a hierarchy where he and his handpicked buddies literally own the world. Everything else (like the crowdsale) is just a noisy distraction.

                      That’s the bit I agree with–I’m not fascism is the correct term either. But the feudal aspect is pretty undeniable.

                      Yarvin justifies it as:

                      My answer is simple. The dukes are the developers of Urbit. They created it - they get to own it. This is standard Lockean libertarian homesteading theory. Lend a hand - earn a slice. Thus Urbit, unlike most open-source projects, offers a rational motivation for contribution. For starters, everyone invited to the urbit-dukes mailing list is, if he accepts, a duke. One may decline this honor, of course.

                      1. 38

                        Yarvin on feudalism:

                        Someday I will read all of Froude’s twelve-volume history of England from Henry VIII through Elizabeth I, but I have only read a bit of the first volume. That bit was so impressive and stunning that I thought I might want to wait a year or two before taking in any more.

                        Froude describes a Tudor society which is completely ordered - which consists, from top to bottom, king to knave, of these relationships of mutual obligation. They are relationships of family, of feudalism, of guild traditions such as apprenticeship, of the Church, of political patronage, of commercial patronage and monopoly, and of course of law and government. It was impossible to live a normal human life outside this tapestry, and nor is it at all clear why anyone would have wanted to.

                        This dazzling idea has been seen recently and is why I also use the term “fascist”. To quote from “They Thought They Were Free”, a 1955 book on the lives of the unexceptional civilians who enabled Nazi Germany:

                        Herr Kessler went on after a pause, “it was not just a matter of how it would look for the Party. There was something else. You ask why the hospitals would call the Party office when a soldier died who had left the Church. It was because people called the Party in all difficulties arising from the reconstruction of the country, and the Party always helped. This pattern was established from the first, long before the war. It was what made the Party so strong–it would always help. In religious matters, in domestic problems, in everything. It really watched over the lives of the people, not spying on them, but caring about them.

                        “You know, Herr Professor, we are told that not a sparrow falls without God’s care; I am not being light when I say this– thhat not a person ‘fell,’ fell ill or in need, lost his job or his house, without the Party’s caring. No organization had ever done this before in Germany, maybe nowhere else. Believe me, such an organiztion is irresistible to men. No one in Germany was alone in his troubles–”

                        Yarvin says “feudal” because he expects a multipolar world, but the system he describes is a fascist one. A place for everyone, and everyone in their place. Not a “place”, really, but the lowest-order bits of a variable-length bitfield encoded as syllables to form the address of a node in an internet-overlaying virtual network running code distributed hierarchically and written in a mostly-punctuation programming language compiled down through an intermediate language to an abstract lambda-calculus-like core language with every single thing given a new name and defined only with reference to their own lower-level terminology until you’re so overwhelmed you can’t see the shape of the whole thing is that he gets to be king and you get to be a serf.

                        And then when it’s boiled down, Yarvin smirks “but I never said that” and anyone who skimmed one technical document goes, “well, let’s not be hasty here”.

                        I challenge anyone who thinks I’m mischaracterizing the system to find Yarvin describing what it means for the namespace to be “hierarchical” in standard technical language. What specific power does a “duke” (I think this is “galaxy” in the current branding) have over their vassals? I don’t think you can find such a document. That’s the con. Everything else exists to distract you from the power he wants to wield over you.

                        1. 13

                          Someday I will read all of Froude’s twelve-volume history of England from Henry VIII through Elizabeth I, but I have only read a bit of the first volume.

                          snip

                          It was impossible to live a normal human life outside this tapestry, and nor is it at all clear why anyone would have wanted to.

                          Lord. “I read an overview of the organizational structure of feudal England, skipped all the messy parts where it was an increasingly intolerable mess, and so I have trouble understanding the impulse to reform it”.

                          1. 7

                            What specific power does a “duke” (I think this is “galaxy” in the current branding) have over their vassals?

                            It’s an address-space.. The owner of an address-space can grant a piece of it to you, and take it away again. This has been an explicit & core idea of Urbit since the first incomprehensible blog posts.

                            1. 24

                              Revocation is not actually listed in this article. I have no charity left for this project or author, so I don’t believe this is the only omission.

                              1. 6

                                I oversimplified the rules, but they’re spelled out in detail in the whitepaper that page links to - the deed to a moon belongs to its parent, but planets, stars & galaxies are self-owned and can change parents.

                                “I haven’t read the documentation but this is definitely a sinister Trojan horse in some way that I can’t specify” is not much of an argument.

                                1. 18

                                  My actual argument is “I have read way too much of his smirking bullshit and believe the author when he says he wants to recreate feudalism.”

                                  1. 4

                                    I agree! But I also think that Urbit is interesting, and “it’s dangerous, don’t look at it!” is a unsatisfying & ineffective response to it.

                                    1. 11

                                      Then you should keep an eye out for people who have made that claim.

                          2. 0

                            Well, what is so bad about feudalism? From a historical perspective, feudalism was great at distributing a region’s economic/agricultural risk across smaller fiefdoms. With nation-states and globalism, all the risk is centralized, so one error between e.g. Russia and the US could lead to disastrous consequences for the rest of the world. In feudalism, two fiefs warring will not affect the entire world or even country. (This argument has been made by many historians, I recently found it in DeLanda’s 1000 Years of Nonlinear History, which I highly recommend, it’s an exciting read.)

                            As for the second block quote, this sounds much like what we have now. For the most part, the people controlling the development of Linux are Linus and his lieutenants, the people that own most of the IPs are some governments and companies that got in when the internet was just starting. Of course new ones come along but they don’t have as large of a slice. But Urbit isn’t competing with Linux, it’s competing with Facebook and Google, which is about as centralized and dictatorial as you get. Feudalism could be an improvement over a Facebook dictatorship.

                            1. 23

                              Well, what is so bad about feudalism?

                              Well, from a historical perspective, it was an absolute dogshit deal for the 99.99999% of humanity who wasn’t king or at best lord. Zero freedom of movement, no possessions, no say in governance, your station in life determined entirely by the accident of your birth, wild inequality in legal treatment, zero freedom of religious belief, etc, etc. It’s rather well documented in all those things societies wrote while they were in the midst of overthrowing these systems. Those French peasants were certainly rather powerfully mad about something.

                              The “region’s” (aka, the one guy who owns everything) risk is well distributed? Hard to care about that.

                              In feudalism, two fiefs warring will not affect the entire world or even country.

                              Because they were fighting with pointy pieces of metal and not nuclear warheads. Feudalism had nothing to do with the limited scope of the conflict. If Russia and the US wanted to go to war with broadswords it would be a lot less dangerous, too.

                              1. 1

                                Yes but you’re comparing it with the improvements that came after. Was feudalism not an improvement on what came before it? Anyway, the French peasants revolted against monarchy, not feudalism.

                                Perhaps it’d be best to avoid the medieval baggage by simple arguing in favor of federalism, something that’s easier to agree with.

                                1. 17

                                  Yes but you’re comparing it with the improvements that came after. Was feudalism not an improvement on what came before it?

                                  Sure, just like amputating a limb because of a broken bone was better than dying of sepsis. There’s still rather a lot bad about needlessly cutting off limbs, though.

                                  And since we’re discussing Yarvin’s political theories for the modern world it’s also a wee bit important to consider how much worse it is than the current state of affairs.

                                  Anyway, the French peasants revolted against monarchy, not feudalism.

                                  Both, actually. They coexisted in various forms until 1789 when the revolutionary National Assembly passed a set of Manorial reforms that put a final end to vassalage (theoretically the peasants were supposed to pay out the seigneuriage, but they refused, so that theory didn’t last long and by 1800 it was well and truly dead)

                                  1. 5

                                    And since we’re discussing Yarvin’s political theories for the modern world it’s also a wee bit important to consider how much worse it is than the current state of affairs.

                                    The current state of affairs is Google and Facebook own most of the trust w.r.t. user identities and data, thus they own most of the users' computing abilities. This makes a Muslim registry very easy to create, for example. It’s not as easy to do under Urbit’s identity model because its decentralized.

                                    1. 3

                                      Thanks for the history lesson!

                                      Anyway, I was just rereading the Urbit page on address space, and all the references are to republicanism, not feudalism.

                                      In either case, the emphasis is on decentralized federation.

                        2. 6

                          You wanna get even more freaked out? They have custom phonetic representations for all the punctuation (runes) their language uses. This includes ‘~’, pronounced ‘sig’. So what is their logo? A sig rune…!

                          (Personally I don’t give a shit about the politics and find these stupid edgy jokes almost hilarious. I wouldn’t take it too seriously, given that this stuff is probably less likely to help and more likely to harm their prospects in the long run…)

                          1. 22

                            Personally I don’t give a shit about the politics and find these stupid edgy jokes almost hilarious.

                            I don’t know you from Adam, but maybe give some thought to the idea that it’s possible to be a little too uncaring about politics when you’ve reached the point where “we need to overthrow democracy and return to the good ol' days of feudalist monarchy” merits just another “yeah whatever politics is politics” shrug.

                            Some things are legitimately crazy enough that they should cause almost anyone to raise an eyebrow.

                            1. 6

                              You’re right, I shouldn’t be so flippant.

                              I’ve actually thought about Urbit quite a bit. I believe the federated system could potentially offer a lot more freedom than the current web.

                              A lot of my feminist friends are incensed by the idea that Facebook bans female nipples - they believe they have the right to freedom of expression, but on Facebook, there’s nowhere else to go. We’re all serfs to Facebook.

                              If these people had, say, planets on a star which started revoking the right to post nipples, everybody would have the freedom to up sticks and move to a star more amenable to freedom of expression.

                              At least, that’s how it should work in theory. I like to believe that despite Yarvin’s political leanings, one can put together a libertarian, or even a progressivist argument for Urbit’s architecture - we all want roughly the same thing, freedom. And this is why I am willing to overlook his politics.

                              1. 3

                                If these people had, say, planets on a star which started revoking the right to post nipples, everybody would have the freedom to up sticks and move to a star more amenable to freedom of expression.

                                Isn’t that like up and leaving Facebook for a social network you control or have influence over - or at least one that’s friendlier to the content you want to express? I’m sure there are examples of websites where the users can post with more autonomy than Facebook without having to invent a new paradigm for computing.

                                1. 2

                                  You really don’t remember what the web used to be do you? It used to be decentralized. Our ISP uses to be run by some guy down the street with a closet full of computers. Our email was run by that guy or our university, or ourselves. Social networks were links across websites and web rings. It became decentralized when all the corporations decided they wanted to own the internet and the web. The future isn’t decentralized, the past was. We forget what we lost.

                                2. 3

                                  Eh, they’re just words. Words will never, ever, get more than a shrug from me, no matter what they are (c.f. “sticks and stones…”). I’m willing to at least half entertain almost any notion, and bounce it around in my head for a bit, even if I disagree.

                                  I’ll believe Moldbug wants to “overthrow democracy” when I see him leading a crowd of people with guns.

                                  1. 12

                                    I’ll believe Moldbug wants to overthrow the government when I see him leading a crowd of people with guns.

                                    Do you also turn up your nose at preventative healthcare? Is there no benefit in nipping fascism in the bud, or do people have to die before we take action?

                              2. 2

                                He’s not subverting fascism, he’s enacting a feudalist fascism.

                                I’m not sure whether you can have feudalism (lords controlling independent fiefs) and fascism (authoritarian nationalism) at the same time, since feudalism is federated and fascism is centralized.

                                I do think you’re on to something with the feudalism label… but that could actually be an improvement for the internet, though it would be a regression in real life.

                                The internet is currently a wild-west that relies on trust. We’re bumping up against the limits of that now. Spam, sibyl attacks, centralized DNS (which can and does have outages)… Urbit provides a more robust, federated structure.

                                1. 6

                                  I’m not sure whether you can have feudalism (lords controlling independent fiefs) and fascism (authoritarian nationalism) at the same time, since feudalism is federated and fascism is centralized.

                                  Feudalism was historically widespread because it enabled taxation and control in ways that were otherwise uneconomical. It was created and promulgated to support centralization, and began to fall away once centralization could exist without it.

                                  1. 3

                                    What’s a more decentralized alternative to federation? Other than complete non-communication.

                                    1. 3

                                      Fully automated luxury space communism

                                      1. 1

                                        I wonder what that would look like manifested as internet architecture :) resource-sharing of some kind?

                                      2. 2

                                        polycentric law

                                    2. 4

                                      Urbit provides a more robust, federated structure.

                                      In what meaningful sense of the word “robust” is a niche project dealing with less than one one-millionth (one-billionth, even) of the traffic, issues, or attacks the DNS system currently withstands “more robust”?

                                      1. 9

                                        Architecturally and conceptually robust. Admittedly their system is not under heavy load so I have no idea how much traffic they can actually handle, but that’s not what I was driving at.

                                        Let’s face it, the architecture of the internet is broken. There are so many systems which rely on trust to operate.

                                        • BGP requires a router to trust its neighbors, and is easily spoofed. Accidental spoofing can cause massive outages.
                                        • DNS relies on you to trust your provider, and is trivially middle-manned by any network operator. Public wifi does this all the time in order to force you to accept a EULA. There is a whole host of issues listed on Wikipedia. DnsSec is a band-aid.
                                        • TLS helps solve the problem of cryptographically asserting a website’s identity, but relies on centralized certificate authorities who (until the advent of LetsEncrypt) charged thousands of dollars per year for a certificate. Certificate authorities are open to government subversion.
                                        • TCP’s complete lack of cryptography allows injection/spoofing attacks, replay attacks, SYN flooding, etc.
                                        • Rogue DHCP servers are able to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on the network they are plugged into.

                                        There’s almost no end to the ways in which the current internet is totally busted. We keep trying to paper over the flaws, but the system simply was not designed for security from the beginning.

                                        In contrast, Urbit:

                                        • Uses a functional and minimal base language Nock, which is useful for doing proofs.
                                        • Cryptographic identity means you know you’re communicating with the intended target.
                                        • Scarce identity (32-bit “planets”) helps to prevent sibyl attacks, and reputation helps to prevent spam.
                                        • The address space is an interesting middle-ground between raw IP addresses, which are hard to memorize, and DNS names, which are human readable but require lookup.
                                        1. 1

                                          The Internet is not broken. It worked the day it was turned on an has never been turned off. What’s broken is our governments, economies, and laws.

                                    3. 1

                                      Thank you, great detective work. So many things pissed me off about Unit’s network model. I learned more and decided it was created by fascists. This is the final nail and damning proof for me.

                                  2. 8

                                    great analysis… ugh. deep crap there. Did you see Politico mention that Bannon and Yarvin chat: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/steve-bannon-books-reading-list-214745 followed by this denial: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/7/14533876/mencius-moldbug-steve-bannon-neoreactionary-curtis-yarvin I was more afraid that urbit.gov was in the works.

                                    That said technically it’s interesting… kind of like the V2 I suppose.

                                    Not even sure how we got to this point of Godwin’s Law becoming Godwin’s Presidency. The ‘ethos’ of National Socialism was so half baked (and then fully baked in firebombing hue hue hue) that I don’t really understand how people could dig it up when there’s so much new and classical thinking that supports fair and just treatment of all humans. These blips of self imagined superiority always get stomped by unified diversity, yet here we are watching one pop up like a case of idea acne here in 21st century.

                                    1. 4

                                      When I heard about Urbit and learned the network structure, I was like “what is this neo fudalist bullshit. I thought this was p2p”. Then read Yarvins work and was like “oh, how cute, a fascist. That makes sense”. Nope, won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

                                      1. 5

                                        I think you might be reading too much into this.

                                        1. 42

                                          You have accurately identified the point of his rhetorical style: unambiguous to supporters but subtle enough to deny publicly. Maybe when he starts talking about 14-word network packets or 88-bit computing.

                                          1. 10

                                            Hah!

                                            To be fair, I generally disagree with dogwhistling as a concept (because it’s waaaay too convenient as an argument for arbitrarily unpersoning somebody or creating an outgroup), but given the other evidence you’ve linked as well as reading more of his stuff myself I’m inclined to agree with your assessment.

                                            Edit: Why was this downvoted “troll”? I agreed with @pushcx, and did so politely.

                                        2. 2

                                          He’s not wrong, though, is he? Some companies are better about exporting data, but everyone’s Facebook emails and messages are in one data structure, shuffled by proprietary source code, in one company’s control, and restricted from access via anything but the interfaces they create & permit. Last I checked, Facebook isn’t run by a democratically elected leader, either…

                                          1. -1

                                            He’s clearly describing the “one"s of apps as undesirable qualities.

                                            That bit from The Big Lebowski is a pretty standard joke.

                                            There’s plenty to object to in his writings, you don’t need to stretch like this.

                                        3. 9

                                          I think this is the first time we’ve had a slayed dragon (see “2017-02-09 19:44:02” entry). Kudos to @pushcx, @angersock, @bsima, @matt, @bsima, @ChadSki and others for pulling it back from the brink :)

                                          1. 3

                                            I have no idea what’s that supposed to mean.

                                            1. 4

                                              Contentious threads are flagged as “dragons”. This one was briefly a dragon before being unflagged (see the moderation log).

                                          2. [Comment removed by author]

                                            1. [Comment removed by author]

                                              1. 5

                                                Curtis Yarvin (whose alter ego is Mencius Moldbug) has been discussed a fair amount here before - just search for his name to get a taste.

                                            2. 1

                                              Attack the work, not the man. Cmon dude.

                                              1. 41

                                                It’s totally reasonable to reject someone’s work if they’re using it to propel an agenda of dividing the community. The idea that we should blindly accept contributions independent of social consequences is a bit half baked. It’s one thing if someone is just a dick, it’s another entirely if they are actively trying to divide the community arbitrarily for the sake of personal gain. This is after all what ________ supremacists do, and to overlook it is genuinely harmful to the progress of open source. In short, if someone isn’t willing to listen or respect others, they don’t get to demand respect.

                                                1. 8

                                                  If we’re willing to abandon tools and techniques because the people who came up with them don’t agree with our ideology, we’re doing ourselves a disservice and we will be surpassed by people who do not use such a subjective metric.

                                                  To bring out some old examples…should we have ignored rocketry because von Braun was an actual Nazi (a Major in the SS)? Should we have given up synthetic fertilizers because Haber basically invented chemical warfare?

                                                  Or on the other side, should Turing’s work been disowned because he was a homosexual and his existence divided the (nominally God-fearing, straight) English community? Should English and German banks have avoided the practice of interest-bearing loans pioneered by the Jews that they viewed as an other (which is actually a fascinating bit of history into itself)?

                                                  Only somebody who lives with either extreme luxury or extreme fundamentalism that can afford the position you’re advocating.

                                                  1. 5

                                                    It depends how much of the repellent ideology is encoded into the tools, and how much ‘not giving it up’ helps the repellent causes.

                                                    Also, your counterfactual is kind of weird, as through various points in history English and German financial instruments did (and many Islamic financial instruments still do) avoid interest as a mechanism for deriving profit, and Turing’s work was stopped (through the mechanism of Turing dying) due to the state disliking his sexuality, and I would argue that operation paperclip (and other similar efforts) were disastrous for the world - we should have executed all the Nazis, and just potentially taken longer to build rockets.

                                                    So, this is more akin to rejecting (say) credit default obligations - an invention that encoded the repellent idea of the traders call and byzantification, while claiming to produce miraculous wealth decoupled from the underlying economy.

                                                    1. 8

                                                      This is a ridiculous mischaracterization. Try to engage in good faith here.

                                                      should we have ignored rocketry because von Braun was an actual Nazi

                                                      He didn’t have a monopoly on the idea of rocketry. We could have courtmartialed him for war crimes instead of celebrating him.

                                                      Should we have given up synthetic fertilizers because Haber basically invented chemical warfare?

                                                      Haber didn’t have a monopoly on fertilizer ideas. We should give up chemical warfare, and refuse to support Haber personally for his crimes.

                                                      Urbit is owned by moldbug and his mates. Contributing to it is contributing to his prosperity.

                                                      1. 4

                                                        We could have courtmartialed him for war crimes […]

                                                        I don’t these some of those words mean what you think they mean.

                                                        We should give up chemical warfare, and refuse to support Haber personally for his crimes.

                                                        If you’re replying to @angersock, I think you need to engage in good faith. We aren’t going to give up chemical warfare because other groups who want power aren’t going to give it up.

                                                        And your revisionist history isn’t helpful. Other people were working on rockets, chemical warfare, nukes, cryptography, modern financial instruments, and hell probably agriculture; but, when the race is on for power, societies back winning teams. Operation Paperclip wasn’t a one-time thing, it’s happened numerous times throughout history.

                                                        “Bad” people have, time and time again, made “bad” things for “good” people.

                                                        (I note that you didn’t even touch @angersocks' “on the other side” examples. Goddamn, have I been trolled?)

                                                        1. 1

                                                          I don’t these some of those words mean what you think they mean.

                                                          Good spot - tried would be more appropriate (and very kind of you to soften the blow by reordering your words)

                                                          We aren’t going to give up chemical warfare because other groups who want power aren’t going to give it up.

                                                          Most major powers have agreed to give up the proliferation of weapons that cause excessive collateral damage.

                                                          “Bad” people have, time and time again, made “bad” things for “good” people.

                                                          Yep - and I don’t have a problem with using the things - but I do have a problem with supporting their creators.

                                                          (I note that you didn’t even touch @angersocks' “on the other side” examples. Goddamn, have I been trolled?)

                                                          My time isn’t unlimited; the principles in my response extend just fine to the rest of his examples.

                                                          If you have a moral problem with homosexuality it’s follows naturally that you would not want to support Turing.

                                                        2. 4

                                                          Haber didn’t have a monopoly on fertilizer ideas.

                                                          Yeah he actually kinda did. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the Haber Process. It was fucking huge.

                                                          We could have courtmartialed him for war crimes instead of celebrating him.

                                                          And then the Apollo program never would’ve happened, because he and the rest of the Operation Paperclip scientists were instrumental in the United States being able to catch up with the Soviets who had both the German rockets and tooling and the engineering talent to reverse and improve them.

                                                          You know, this in turn resulting in the free world losing to a USSR with functional theater and ballistic missles.

                                                          Urbit is owned by moldbug and his mates. Contributing to it is contributing to his prosperity.

                                                          But the architecture and source is open-source, and so anybody is free to improve on it and use it for their own gain. Yarvin himself even says as much.

                                                          ~

                                                          To quote a certain movie:

                                                          Forget it, Donny, you’re out of your element!

                                                          1. 2

                                                            Haber didn’t have a monopoly on fertilizer ideas.

                                                            Yeah he actually kinda did. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the Haber Process.

                                                            That is just one of many processes. In fact, it’s predated by the Ostwald Process. The Haber Process was a great idea, but it wasn’t the only idea.

                                                            1. 4

                                                              You’ve mixed up the two processes as interchangable–they’re not.

                                                              The Ostwald produces nitric acid from ammonia–the ammonia is made by the Haber process.

                                                              From your link:

                                                              Frank-Caro process and Ostwald process dominated the industrial fixation of nitrogen until the discovery of the Haber process in 1909.

                                                              The Haber process was markedly more efficient than the Frank-Caro process.You probably mean to compare it with the Frank-Caro or similar cyanamide methods for producing ammonia. All those methods are not similar at all in yield to the Haber process, and require a lot more energy and, I believe, material.

                                                            2. 1

                                                              Yes, some free world we seem to have here. I bet we can do better

                                                              1. 1

                                                                Yeah he actually kinda did. There’s a reason it’s referred to as the Haber Process. It was fucking huge.

                                                                He also invented it before doing any work at all on chemical weapons.

                                                                And then the Apollo program never would’ve happened, because he and the rest of the Operation Paperclip scientists were instrumental in the United States being able to catch up with the Soviets who had both the German rockets and tooling and the engineering talent to reverse and improve them.

                                                                Just so I’m clear here: is your argument that the US should pardon anyone who is likely to prove useful to national security, regardless of their crimes? (I don’t think they should, but that’s at least a coherent, self-consistent argument).

                                                                But the architecture and source is open-source, and so anybody is free to improve on it and use it for their own gain. Yarvin himself even says as much.

                                                                I have no problem with a forked universe. I’m calling on you not to support Yarvin.

                                                                To quote a certain movie:

                                                                I am indeed - ad hominem attacks have never been my strong suit.

                                                            3. 2

                                                              That’s not what I said, but cool argument against whatever ghost it is you’re fighting.

                                                            4. 3

                                                              I am unable to find any indication anywhere that Urbit is being used to propel an agenda of dividing the community. There are indeed things he says that I find disagreeable but Urbit has nothing nothing to do with any of them.

                                                            5. 21

                                                              Clever Nazi references are now part of the work.

                                                              1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                1. 19

                                                                  Yep: https://lobste.rs/s/z5j1hq/urbit_2017/comments/n4bfai#c_n4bfai

                                                                  I should’ve done it in the original comment, I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to be exclusive. It reached out and poked me in the eye. It honestly didn’t occur to me that someone else would miss it.

                                                                  1. [Comment removed by author]

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      And to read tealeaves and viscera!

                                                          2. 11

                                                            Despite having little patience, spending little time, and bearing severe prejudice against Yarvin, the last time I dug through urbit-related docs and descriptions I was impressed by the ideas and the parts of the system design that I understood. My previous comments (with a strong “you can’t be serious” flavor to them) seem ill-considered to me.

                                                            (edit) Having just re-read the set of c3 integer types and

                                                            Some of these need explanation. A loobean is a Nock boolean - Nock, for mysterious reasons, uses 0 as true (always say “yes”) and 1 as false (always say “no”).

                                                            it’s hard to say that urbit devs couldn’t be trying to fuck with people, just a bit.

                                                            1. 2

                                                              it’s hard to say that urbit devs couldn’t be trying to fuck with people, just a bit.

                                                              If I remember correctly, Yarvin regrets this decision. He wanted to get outside of a given dev’s comfort zone to make them pay attention, but this one was a little too much.

                                                              1. 7

                                                                I think the criticism here (despite being written in terms of humans, sapient horse-like beings, and Martians) is good, both in these quotes and elsewhere.

                                                                Still, [“Martians,” the Urbit developers] fail their public every time they use esoteric terms that make it harder […] to understand [Urbit]. The excuse given for using esoteric terms is that using terms familiar to Human programmers would come with the wrong connotations, and would lead Humans to an incorrect conceptual map that doesn’t fit the delineations relevant to Martians. But that’s a cop out. Beginners will start with an incorrect map anyway, and experts will have a correct map anyway, whichever terms are chosen. Using familiar terms would speed up learning and would crucially make it easier to pin point the similarities as well as dissimilarities in the two approaches, as you reuse a familiar term then explain how the usage differs.

                                                                [T]he Urbit authors are not trying to be understood, trying their best not to be, and that’s a shame, because whatever good and bad ideas exist in their paradigm deserve to be debated, which first requires that they should be understood. Instead they lock themselves into their own autistic planet.

                                                                Good thing that nobody cares whether I flip or flop because I’m back to “some useful clever ideas thoroughly embedded in a mountain of impractical clever ideas explained in a deliberately hard-to-understand mess promising many things that will never be delivered”.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  I was hoping someone would post the arguments from the Houyhnhnm perspective.

                                                                2. 3

                                                                  To play devil’s advocate, that’s how it works in shell… there is only one way to succeed, but there are multiple ways to fail.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    That’s not how it works in shell since shell has integers and not booleans.

                                                                    1. 2

                                                                      Shell has an if statement and && and || constructs. The 0 integer is true, and 1 and non-zero values are false.

                                                                3. 1

                                                                  It wasn’t for mysterious reasons. Way back when, the first versions of Nock and Hoon had chosen this specifically because it was different and they wanted to buck norms.

                                                                4. 4

                                                                  Like most Urbit articles, this is so heavily compressed that I’m not sure I really understand what they’re getting at, but it has an interesting re-examination of textual interfaces.

                                                                  I’m fond of the idea that some technologies which are considered completely unusable could be vastly improved with small UI changes (e.g. QR codes, HTTP Authentication). It will be worth a few minutes to poke at this once it’s more than just screenshots.