Showing posts from December, 2015

Transaction ethics as root of social/libertarian disagreement

In order for two parties to enter a transaction, both have to benefit from it. However, the benefit can be distributed unequally. A potential transaction has a minimum price where it's still acceptable for the seller, and a maximum price where it's still acceptable for the buyer. The total value gained from a transaction is the spread between the maximum and the minimum.

An unfair, but still voluntary, transaction is one where the negotiated price is closest to one of the extremes, instead of closer to the middle. The result is that one party gains most of the benefit from the transaction. A transaction where one person gets 90% of the value, and the other gets 10%, is frequently seen as unethical by many people, and is described as "robbing" the other person.

You can see that people consider such transactions unethical in ultimatum games, such as the dictator game. In experiments, most people will accept a reward with a 40-60 split. But when offered a 10-90 split, a…

Janez Janša

Those outside observers who even know about the existence of Slovenia may be wondering:
Why Slovenia saw it fit to hold a referendum about whether people should have equal rights, after a law had already been passed to make rights equal.Why those who voted saw it fit to overwhelmingly vote against equal rights.The reason is that there are political points to be gained from undoing a law backed by a currently unpopular government.

For decades, Slovenia has had a prominent but divisive political figure, Janez Janša, who has been Prime Minister at one point but is now in opposition. Mr. Janša builds support for himself by fomenting division. He has surmised that, if properly cultivated, Slovenia can be divided into two groups of people. On the one hand are the secularists: left-leaning – socially liberal, economically statist descendants of people who were privileged when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia until 1990. On the other hand are the Catholics: socially conservative, economically l…

Survey of SSL/TLS use in SMTP mail exchangers

Some eight years ago, I made a logic error. Last month, I discovered it, proceeded to slap my forehead, and fixed it. We prepared new releases containing the fix, and began the process of notifying our users.

I now, therefore, have rough statistics about the prevalence and availability of TLS/SSL when sending email. Our notifications went to tens of thousands of unique addresses, with the following rough results. Percentages are based on the number of unique addresses in each category, so large email services (Google, Outlook, Yahoo) are represented according to their size. However, the results are filtered through the self-selected lens that is our users:

16%NoTlsThe SMTP server did not offer STARTTLS (large majority), or TLS handshake failed due to protocol error (small fraction; errors encountered were SEC_E_INVALID_TOKEN and SEC_E_ILLEGAL_MESSAGE).20%Tls_NoHostAuthThe SMTP server offered TLS, but could not be authenticated. By far the most common reason was SEC_E_WRONG_PRINCIPAL, f…

Republicanism is fascism

US Republicanism is not just "like" fascism. It is fascism. It fits criteria of Umberto Eco's 1995 definition.

Based on Wikipedia:
The Cult of Tradition, combining cultural syncretism with a rejection of modernism.The Cult of Action for Action's Sake, which dictates that action is of value in itself, and should be taken without intellectual reflection. This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.Disagreement Is Treason - fascism devalues intellectual discourse and critical reasoning as barriers to action.Fear of Difference, which fascism seeks to exploit and exacerbate, often in the form of racism or an appeal against foreigners and immigrants.Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class, fearing economic pressure from the demands and aspirations of lower social groups.Obsession with a Plot and the hyping-up of an enemy threat; this often involves an appeal to xenophobia with an identif…