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I figured I would pass along some info I have collected while playing around over on the free services of Amazon AWS. One of the nifty things about AWS is that they offer a number of ‘free tier‘ services for trying out what they offer as well as getting familiar with the environment.  (Other services can be used with minimal expense for low-level usage – just pennies per month)

On such free tier service is the EC2 virtual server environment, which supports a number of operating systems including Amazon’s linux, Ubuntu, Windows, and other operating systems on a 1Gb memory, 8Gb storage* virtual server. (free services can also add elastic storage to increase the 8Gb if needed)

One problem you’ll run into right away is that 1Gb of memory is a small amount when using some modern tools. No problem, you can create virtual memory with a swap file using some of that free tier storage space. However, the instructions on the AWS documentation pages assumes a system larger than the free tier and won’t work as written.
The first problem will be encountered right off the bat. As with most other static-swapfile implementations, they create a static file using dd in conjunction with /dev/zero to create the initial file. The problem is, their example uses a blocksize equal to (1Gb) the total memory of the EC2 free tier instance. So instead use a smaller blocksize and a bigger count.  I used 128M which uses a count of 8 for 1Gb in size. So for example, to create a 1 1/2 Gb swap file:

$ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=128M count=12

The rest can be done as documented: How do I allocate memory to work as swap space in an Amazon EC2 instance by using a swap file?

Another useful diddy is the ability to mount an S3 bucket as a local fuse device. This is made possible with >s3fs. Follow their instructions then you can even mount the device using an fstab entry. Example:

s3fs#mybucket /media/mybucket fuse _netdev,use_cache=/tmp,allow_other,default_acl=public-read,endpoint=us-east-2,dbglevel=info,uid=33,gid=33,mp_umask=002,multireq_max=5,url=https://s3-us-east-2.amazonaws.com 0 0

Replace ‘mybucket’ with the name of your bucket after the s3fs# and pick your own mount point as the second option. A few notes on some of the other options. You can exclude the default_acl if you want to use the bucket default. In this case I use ‘public-read’ to mark any newly created files as publicly readable. The combination of the endpoint and the url options makes sure you are accessing a region-specific bucket without error. uid and gid can be set to whatever user you wish. (in this case I am setting both to www-data). mp_umask is a reverse mask of the file permissions when mounted. You can also vary the debugging level as needed when troubleshooting. (be sure to read the instructions on setting up the /etc/passwd-s3fs file)

One thing to note is that you will need to assign permissions (likely an IAM role) to your EC2 instance that has access to S3 or at least your S3 bucket depending on what specific functions you want to do over the virtual-fuse connection. (e.g. give S3 createObject/delObject permissions if you want write access, getObject to read, etc – one easy way to do this at first is to add the S3FullAccess policy until you learn specifically what you need)

If you plan on playing with lambda, especially with custom runtime environments, the EC2 free tier is also useful as you can create an Amazon linux instance to compile the runtime environments to work on lambda. (NOTE: lambda uses the original version of Amazon linux, not Amazon linux 2. You’ll get GLIBC errors if you don’t downgrade the gcc environment on other platforms to match the libraries used on the original amazon linux)

It should be noted that the free tier servers on EC2 give you 32 days per month total. So this is more than enough to run a single free-tier-eligible instance non-stop all month, or to run multiple instances intermittently in so long as the combined usage does not exceed 32 hours. For example, I run an Ubuntu non-stop, but have an amazon linux instance for creating the runtime configurations that I only power up when needed. That gives me 24-48 hours of usage per month on the second instance without exceeding the total usage. (bonus time in February!)

The claim of global warming/climate change is not as simple as ‘it is happening’. The assertion involves over 8 different premises, and none of them (beyond the first) are proven conclusively while many of them aren’t even addressed or acknowledged by anyone claiming to be pro-change. Furthermore, each subsequent claim relies on ALL* of the prior ones already having been proven to even be relevant.
*(at least one variant of in regard to #6)

1) the climate is changing (This is a given. The climate changes all the time. This is not a cause to action. Getting worked up because the climate changes is like getting worked up because the sun sets every evening or because the sky may cloud over occasionally. The only reason it is included in this list at all is because this is the primary reason being given by those suggesting such political and social changes.)

2a) the change is atypical (i.e. not part of a short term trend or long-term cycle, effects of the sun, etc.)
&
2b) the change is on-going and not simply local/transient in nature

3) The earth (which has survived on it’s own for 4 billion years, a living biome for at least 3.5 billion of that time) will not or will not fully compensate, repair or re-adjust for anything ongoing or unnatural on it’s own

4) the effects of said change are going to be predominantly bad (and/or will not include positive effects)

5) human activity is a primary cause

6a) ceasing or changing said activity will reverse said cause and/or minimize the predominantly bad effects in #4
…. or (if 5 is all or part bullshit)
6b) There is something/anything humanity can do about it (whether we are a cause, an active contributor, a passive contributor or have nothing to do with it what-so-ever)

7) those telling us what to cease or change in regard to our behavior are [the most] correct in knowing what to cease or change

8) the things we are told to change or alter will not ultimately make things worse in the long run

NASA-Carbon-Dioxide-2

(originally published May 26, 2009 @16:12 EST)

All day long yesterday for Memorial day I found myself recalling various men I have felt proud to know in my lifetime and the stories they would tell; at fishing camp, at hunting camp, around campfires, over beers, among friends. Stories of their time in the service and in some rare cases of their times on the front lines. (although those recollections were more frequent in the old timers, and even then generally focused on things that had happened only to them)
It didn’t occur to me to pass any of them along until this morning, so I thought I would go over some of them in brief to share their tales (as I recall them) and pass them along.

So here’s to Reese from Sheep’s Pasture, to the stories he would tell of a bunch of young marines trained in Florida deep in the everglades running on unseen boards made to resemble walkways in rice paddies, feeling their way with sticks and risking splashing down with not only the murky waters, but the gators hiding within.

US Marine Patrol

US Marine Patrol

To stories of young leathernecks going on first leave after having it drilled in their heads for weeks that they were the meanest, roughest, toughest, baddest sons of bitches to ever walk the face of the earth – and to the stories of the fist fights and timely flights (from authorities) that soon ensued.
Here’s to the young marine finally coming home after his tours in Viet Nam in a full leg cast who got off the plane to see his family across the tarmac and becoming delighted, only to be confronted head on by two dirty, long haired protesters who spat in his face screaming baby killer.
And here’s to the two cops who scooped him up after he busted the first one’s face open while balancing on his crutches and was already going after the second, who in spite of the screams from the activists to “arrest him!”, brought him through the security entrance, smiled and said “semper fi brother, now get the hell out of here or we ‘will’ have to arrest you”
(Reese told no stories of the time between basic and coming home – Rest in Peace)

Here’s to Smitty, also from fish camp at Sheep’s pasture, a thin older gent who told us of the time he was brought before his superiors for a samurai sword he had found. It turned out to be an officers sword that he had picked up after entering a cave to see a smiling Japanese soldier holding his hands up in the air saying in broken English “I surrender” – and here’s to the fellow soldier behind Smitty that caused him to look down only to see the tip of a Thompson open fire from where it had been inserted under his arm, and to the hand that grabbed the back of his neck to fling him back out of the mouth of the cave just as the grenade the Japanese officer was holding in his upraised hand fell free and detonated.

Okinawa Beachhead

Okinawa Beachhead

To the story he told of when the zeros buzzed the Okinawa beachhead and he took (he thought) two shots in his arm, to the medic that bandaged him up and secured his arm to his side so he could, with the help of another soldier that was wounded in the opposite arm, still manage to assist in moving wounded on stretchers for the remainder of the hours of fighting that ensued. Only after which did he think to seek out a field surgeon to actually get treatment, where they discovered the third shot that had gone right through his lower abdomen.
Upon hearing the shot was more than 4 hours old and seeing where it passed, the triage nurse pronounced him essentially ‘already dead’ and went to attend to other ‘more hopeful’ patients. Obviously he was not about to settle for this and had to argue considerably to even be treated due to all the other wounded on the beach. He was made to wait even longer and eventually wheeled in to a dirty side room, given no anesthesia, cut the length of his side and ‘sloshed back and forth’ with a liquid poured into the incision that he described as having the look and smell of urine. (it wasn’t, but was some low-frills antiseptic that they could justify ‘sparing’ on a ‘dying man’)
He showed us the scars including the marks where they had sewn him back up with wire staples, as they didn’t want to waste any sinew on him either, hoping to spare it for men they actually thought could be saved.
And here’s to that stubborn man who passed out only to wake up 3 hours later in a hospice wing of a makeshift tent, damned them for leaving him to die and walked back into the OR where he finally received proper sutures and ultimately got a real bed in intensive care to continue his recovery.
(rest in peace Smitty! And thanks for the hand made net, it’s still one of my most prized possessions)

And here’s to Kenny from Spud farm who told us of how he was on board the USS Franklin when a Japanese Kamikaze nearly broke her in two.

USS Franklin listing

How he and some of his shipmates had to navigate a catwalk on the backside of the control tower to avoid the flames, suspended on nothing but a 6″ ledge more than 4 stories above the ocean. About how he turned just in time to see one of his best friends for the very last time falling to the ocean below after a secondary explosion shook the whole ship.
Here’s to the three hours he spent in near freezing waters after the second kamikaze hit sent him into the frigid waters as well. And to the simple apple that helped keep him alive – as when he would grow tired and almost give up, he would see the apple bobbing 2-3 wave crests away, just briefly enough to give him something to keep swimming after.
Here’s to the guys that eventually showed up to scoop up the dead bodies onto their already overflowing flatboat, only to tell Ken that they would send a crew back for him as they had no room. And here’s to them agreeing to pick him up after hearing him say “if you do that, you’ll be picking me up instead along with the rest of the dead!” (try to imagine that ride back, where the only room is on top of the bodies!)

Here’s to Mike who’s story I almost didn’t want to include as I didn’t want to make him look bad, but the state of mind it details I doubt anyone reading could imagine doing otherwise.
Still trying to shake off the experiences of combat, he decided to accept an invitation to ‘relax’ by going hunting on a friend’s private property. As he walked to his blind, some ‘slob’ who was trespassing and poaching on this friends private land, apparently thought it was a good idea to shoot at any sound of movement.
Being fresh out of the service, Mike told us (trying to be funny but still showing in his face how much it disturbed him) the sound of the shell hissing by his head caused instinct to take over and the next thing he knew, he was hiding behind a 5″ ball of dirt and had emptied his shotgun in the direction of the fired ‘near miss’. (fortunately enough missing as well)

US Marine Escort near Baghdad

US Marine Escort near Baghdad

(thank you Mike for teaching me your variant of Darwin’s rule, “people that are prone to do stupid, dangerous or self-destructive things…. should!”)

Here’s to my cousin Jim who also didn’t go into a lot of detail about his experience in Iraq, but did comment on the frustration he and his other marines had when coming within sight of Baghdad during Desert Storm – only to be pulled back at the last minute. I still remember the certainty in your words back then that “we should have been allowed to finish, we’ll only end up having to come back”.

To my namesake Webster Abial Wood who dodged musket fire and cannon balls at Gettysburg in the war to preserve our union. Who at first I wondered about his ‘bravery’ as he was a member of the drum core and played the fife in the 24th Michigan band.

Thomas Nasts Drummer Boys

Thomas Nast’s Drummer Boys

That is until I read more on the civil war… about the battles on fields covered in white smoke from black powder muskets and cannons. Story after story where men wrote in their diaries of looking to their immediately left and immediately right to barely make out just one of their fellow soldiers through the smoke and to hear the pace of the drum to match their steps as they had been trained. The drums marking the pace to keep the line in step, the steady beat as a heart to the line signifying their ranks had not been broken. And the stories of returning fire where the sounds of the ‘enemy’ drums and the bugles on the other side of the field often gave you the only point of aim through opaque clouds of smoke.
To stories of friends, neighbors and brothers meeting as opponents in our nations bloodiest war, but still being civil enough to pass letters, foodstuffs and other token items in small boats across the blood stained rivers separating their lines after the sun set and fighting subsided for the night.
And to the knowledge of Webster leading the army band for the melancholy honor of playing for an assassinated president’s funeral procession in Illinois.

Here’s to my grandfather ‘Woody’ who also didn’t speak to much around me about his time in the first world war while in the Navy. But who raised my father and consequently passed on to me an understanding of the values that made this country great and an appreciation for the men that helped make it that way.

—-

You may have noticed by now what I already eluded to. These men would tell stories of the good times, of the times before the war or immediately after. Of things that happened only to them where they got out alive in spite of adversity. But many of such a story would bring up a name, or refer to a person and the story would finish, the men would either bow their heads or stare off into space and go silent for a long time. After which they would turn to one another as only their fellow veterans could understand, raise their glasses “To them!”

There was yet another theme that ran through the stories as well. I ran across an interesting quote yesterday from none other than George Orwell:

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

All the men I named believe in their country, treasure their freedom and would fight for it with their lives. Some of them signed up voluntarily out of a sense of duty and honor, others out of little more than need and no where else to go, and still others were drafted and answered the call. None wanted to repeat their ‘unspoken’ experiences, but I have no doubt any one of them would join up with such a cause again if the need arose and our country was threatened.

But don’t be mistaken!

The only man standing is in a wheelchairAs every one of them told their stories, it was easily understood. When they were in the line of fire, on the front lines and in the middle of a firefight, they no more fought for ideals of freedom or country then they did out of a sense of duty or honor. No, they fought for their fellow soldiers – their friends, and for the hope that someday soon they would be home with people they loved.

So most of all, here’s to the men I never met, to the stories I never heard, to the laughs we never made about the good times. Here’s to the horrors I never learned from those that did return, from the stories they kept to themselves and their sleepless nights. Here’s to the silent moments, the hung heads and the solemn toasts. Here’s to the old man in his dress uniform shedding a tear over some memory only he holds – always trying to keep it out of his mind but making sure he never forgets. Here’s to the unknown soldiers in the unmarked graves on battlefields far away, and to the events that never made best sellers or Hollywood movies.

I never met any of you, never heard your stories but be damn sure, I will never forget you!
unknown_1777892b

I was having a little fun on facebook last night, pondering what I would do if I ever have to set up password protected systems at work, that I would have a little fun with the passwords and names I pick…..


abbot-costello
co-worker: Hey, how do I get into that file share you set up?
me: Just type in the password.
cw: ok, what’s the password?
me: “I dunno”
cw: Huh? Then how do you get into it?
me: what do you mean?
cw: when you need to get into the share you set up, how do you connect to it?
me: I type in the password.
cw: but you just said you don’t know the password.
me: No, you asked me what the password was, and I told you… “I dunno”!

*long sigh*
cw: ok, ok – is there any other way I can access the files?
me: Sure, I threw them on a memory stick.
*hands over USB drive*
me: it’s in an encrypted file container. You just need to stick it in your computer and type in the pass phrase.
cw: Passphrase?
me: yeah, it’s like a password, but it’s a whole sentence complete with spaces. It’s more secure that way.
cw: Oh ok. That makes sense. So what is the pass phrase?
me: “I don’t know what the passphrase is”
cw: what? Then why in the hell did you give me the memory stick?
me: what do you mean? You asked me if there was another way to access the files, so I gave it to you.
cw: Yeah, and you said it needs a passphrase.
me: Yes, just type it in.
cw: Well, ok – then what is it?
me: “I don’t know what the passphrase is”

me: Look… It’s easy, just look for the file on the memory stick.
cw: and the filename for it is?
me: “what”
cw: The file container
me: yes
cw: What is the file container’s name?
me: correct.
cw: The file container is called correct?
me. No, it’s called “what”
cw: I dunno!
me: No that’s the password.
cw: What password?
me: No, “what” has a passphrase…..

cw: So how do I know if I have the right memory stick. Did you give it a label?
me: Yes, “ItsOnTheStick”
cw: What is on the stick?
me: Yes, it is.
cw: so what is the label?
me: no, “what” is the file container.
cw: I dunno
me: That’s the password.
cw: What password?
me: “what” has a passphrase.
cw: I don’t know what the passphrase is.
me: yes, exactly.

cw: *AAAAHHHHGGR* Alright, already. I’ll try to figure it out myself on the network. How do I find the share?
me: Just type in it’s netbios id after two slashes
cw: ok, and that is?
me: “TheName”
cw: yes
me: of course
cw: huh?
me: just type in ‘\\’ then ‘TheName’
cw: and what is the name?
me: No, what is the filecontainer
cw: I dunno!!
me: No that’s the password.
*coworker just shakes head and stares up at the ceiling*

me: I’ll tell you what, I’ll make it easier. I wrote up a wiki page. Just go onto the wiki and look for the words “if you want to access the file share”
cw: OK, and the words I’m looking for are what?
me: No what is on the memory stick!
cw: FORGET ABOUT THE MEMORY STICK FOR A SECOND. I go onto the wiki and search for the words….. *spreads out hands expectantly*
me: “If you want to access the file share”
cw: yes!!!!
me: well there you go!
cw: There I go what??????
me: *points at the USB stick again*

(a true story within a true story)

During my college years, I helped earn a little extra money as a lead singer with a couple of local bands. The first regular working band I had the good fortune to become front man for was a long-standing local band that rose to local fame in the 60s with the same guitarist, Jeff Williams and a band of his namesake known as Jeff & the Atlantics. Jeff was an everyday sort of guy who had no problem not taking himself too seriously.

One night as we were enjoying a few drinks an hour or so before our gig was scheduled to start, Jeff told a story of something that had happened to him a few weeks before. He said he went out to his mailbox and there was a package waiting for him there. He wasn’t expecting anything, so he took it in the house and opened it up to find an LP of ‘Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits’.

415MQPCG5ZL

Now, nothing against Ray Stevens.  I happen to like some of his stuff, and have even been known to post a couple of them on Facebook – both the old stuff and the new stuff. It is also important to point out that this story occurred in the 90s – well between Stevens’ earlier days of fame in the 60’s and 70’s and well before he made a resurgence with patriotic parody songs in the 2000’s.

Needless to say, Jeff was confused and thought that perhaps someone was playing a joke on him or bought him the gift as a gag. But despite asking around, no one wanted to own up to buying it. A week or so passed, and Jeff got his credit card statement only to find a charge for the album.

At first he was ready to get angry because he had been charged for the album. But then he went on to tell us that with some thinking back, he vaguely recalled coming back home after a night that involved some considerable drinking and not being able to get to sleep. So he turned on one of the local UHF television channels and also vaguely recalled seeing an ad for ‘Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits’ and then thinking that ordering a copy might be a great idea!

As Jeff finished telling the story and we all had a good laugh, I proposed a toast. I raised a glass and said:

“Here’s to never having your career depend on the late night buying decisions of people too drunk to remember them!”

Before we could start drinking, Jeff in his typical humble fashion added:

“And here’s to never having your career end up with you being so drunk that forgot you were the buyer!”

 


Epilogue:

As an aside, despite Jeff settling into his local-legend status and focusing on making a living instead of a starry-eyed pursuit of fame, among the songs he became known for locally included a song called ‘Gino is a Coward’ where he and his [all-white] band backed a well known local [black] artist by the name of Gino Washington.
Gino ended up gaining more notoriety for himself and Jeff by continuing to promote his former hits such that they had a resurgence both locally and in Europe again in the late 90s and early 2000’s on the oldies and nostalgia charts.

Here are a few Jeff & the Atlantic’s links:

(YouTube)

(I compiled all I could find currently on youtube into a single playist)

(other)

The meaning of the Second Amendment becomes clear and obvious when you become familiar with a little bit of grammatical history. At the time of the writing of the Bill of Rights, there was a rather common abuse of the use of the comma by people who were not strict followers of proper grammar. (I know, it sounds silly, but go look it up yourself)

Bill of RightsThe version of the Bill of Rights that was published for re-distribution included three commas in the text, splitting the amendment into four separate parts — and this version is the one that is often seen today:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

However, the author of the Bill of Rights, James Madison, was not such a person as to abuse grammar rules and, like his predecessors in Jefferson and Franklin, he was rather specific and exercised practiced intent in how he phrased his statements — especially for documents of such import.

The actual text that was was read and approved and signed into law by the House of Representatives and the Senate, only included a single comma:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Mind you, at the time of it’s writing, the term militia meant any body of armed men so-assembled to fight on behalf of the state. This is important and the placement of the single comma in the original text is extremely important when you also understand the nature of how such statements of intent were assembled at that time.

American_militia_firing_at_the_British_infantry_from_behind_a_split_rail_fence_during_the_Battle_of_Guilford_Courthouse,_March_15,_1781The first part before the comma is what is referred to as a dependent clause. A dependent clause is a phrase which cannot stand on it’s own. As such, it is included as a qualifier to a second independent’ clause and is included as reason for said independent clause. A ‘preamble‘ clause such as this is utilized to give (at least one, deemed most relevant or important) cause for the existence of the second, independent clause. The second half (after the comma) is in fact such an independent clause — one which stands on it’s own even without the pre-amble. (these are also referred to as a ‘prefactory’ and an ‘operative’ clause)

When you understand the nature of the language used and the manner in which it was written in the official, signed-into-law version, the original intent of this amendment is very clear. “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Nothing more needs to be said. But, the supporting clause given as the most relevant and important reason for this being so recognized is that the existence or formation of a militia is necessary to the security of a free state.

This is not ambiguous when you properly understand the language.

Discussions leading up to the drafting of the Bill of Rights included discussions of things such as individual self-defense against other individuals, and hunting, and shooting sports — the same as they do today. But the reason that was decided upon as the most relevant and important imperative cause to recognize and protect the individual right to keep and bear arms was the fact that it was also necessary for the state to have access to armies.

The purpose of the second amendment was NOT placed there for the purpose of having able bodied men who owned guns in the event the government needed to assemble such a militia. The second amendment was placed there BECAUSE the state would ultimately and necessarily always have access to such military force.

James Madison

James Madison, author of The Bill of Rights

The Machinery of Freedom?

Lately I have engaged in a number of arguments with people supporting anarcho-capitalist notions. Many of the most extreme of these not only will throw out ambiguous desires for no government, but some of them have stumbled upon a few obfuscatory references to support their claims – or so it appears. Many those immediately point to the same video on youtube (The Machinery of Freedom).

mof

I’m reluctant to post a link to that post, because it’s a bunch of nice sounding rhetoric that makes the ideas of the Anarcho Capitalists seem workable – or at least sound more appealing. From what I understand, it’s an excerpt from a book (?) of the same name. I will admit I have not read the book, as of yet, I see no compelling reason to do so, especially if this excerpt is a representative example of the kinds of arguments the book attempts to make. The video in particular is talking about how police and courts can be handled by private ‘agencies’ like insurance agencies but with policing powers.

My take on ‘Anarchistic’ (non) government

Let me take an aside for a moment and speak to my own opinions of Anarchistic systems I have heard proposed and what I assert the consequences would be. In general, any time in history an anarchistic system is either established intentionally or results consequentially anywhere that a prior existing ‘government’ system (tyrannical or representative), the inevitable result in virtually all cases is for the society or region to fall quickly into tyranny. About the only exception to this is ‘frontier’ states where a migration of people are in the process of moving in, and the government they came from eventually moves in with them. (in other words, the desire is to bring not only themselves, but their culture and the means to maintain it with them)
As a result, I assert that the only time an anarchistic system can exist is when any other form of government is impracticable. Namely when the population is so low and the people are so spread out that a formal government is not only something that would be unfeasible, but is mostly unnecessary.

Some banter around words like ‘anarcho-socialism’ which is even more of an absurdity. A pseudo-marxist voluntary system where everyone just gets along and shares out of their love of the common good. (Whenever I hear this one, I start looking to see if the person is wearing Ruby slippers and chanting “There’s no place like social utopia… There’s no place like social utopia…”)

The basic conclusions that I arrive at whenever I examine suggested ‘anarchistic’ systems is that they will degrade into uncontrolled in fighting between ‘factions’ that spring up – aka ‘tribalism’ and ad-hoc governments will start to spring up despite any desire forbid governments (or certain types of them) to exist. Ultimately, the most brazen and charismatic leaders of these tribal factions will begin to gain a power base which will cause others in less powerful factions to side with the few remaining. The more brutal and irrational, without a basis of rules, will be the one that wins and it will either be beholden too or have to outright attack those with the most wealth first in order to achieve it’s ends. And those ends are tyranny rampant with brutality.

To the credit of the ‘anarchist’ thinkers, I am prone to agree with them that government based systems are also prone to a slow creep to tyranny regardless. But I’m also prone to think that a properly formed government will last far longer and produce better results than any ad-hoc system which is what ultimately results from any anarcho-based system. The best argument I ever heard in favor of anarchy was someone that didn’t describe it as lack of organized government, but a lack of ‘rulers’ – based on the original etymology of the word. At least the view is honest. (although the individual that communicated this to me was one of the ones that forwarded me the link to the video mentioned above)

So what about these Agencies?

In regard to the system outlined in the video itself (and any closely related to it), upon watching the whole thing, my most immediate questions are:

  1. how is that not going to continually erupt into conflict when two (or more) ‘competing’ agencies are marketing their ‘services’ to different groups with different interests and goals?
    and
  2. what is going to prevent that from eroding into serving primarily the ‘clients’ with the biggest pockets and/or most friends?

posseI used to bring up examples of the old west, and while I understand that the stories of the shootouts were more the exception than the norm, the nature of the law being somewhat ‘flexible’ based on whoever had the most gumption and the biggest posse was the only ‘working’ example of what they were talking about that I was aware of. And there were enough examples in the old west of that system failing to reach proper ‘justice’ and thus not being as ‘peachy’ as they describe it. So i always challenge people supporting such ideas to give a ‘working example’.

The honest ones will try to suggest, that just like the minarchism (which is what I support) in the US, it’s a bold, new idea that has never been tried but should be. The less honest will try to point to places where the anarchistic nature of the (lack of) government was simply a consequence of the nomadic or spread out population involved. One such example someone raised was Greenland – I looked it up. As soon as the population started to rise, the imperial influences in Europe came in and enacted a totalitarian regime.

Has it really never been tried?

But as I watched that video, something about what they were describing sounded familiar. And not from the old west. But at first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I ended up watching some portions of it a couple of times and finally it hit me. It has been tried. A lot. The thing that I couldn’t hit on is that I had this impression in my head – it came initially as just a hunch, but once I realized the nature of what they were describing, I realized there were examples of it – that the only way there can be ‘multiple agencies’ in a single region is if the agencies have very similar goals and if those agencies have formal agreements (i.e. “government”) between one another not only as to how they will pursue those goals to mutual benefit, but to address what to do when their goals come into conflict.

Any other instance of multiple agencies with competing goals being in the same geographical region, as I was inclined to think, break down into endless conflict or results in the multiple agencies drawing lines in the sand based on whatever geography each of them can secure and defend. And even then, the feelings of resentment from their ‘customers’ carry on for years, even decades and centuries and conflicts at their borders generally continue with that resentment. People who used to live on one side of the line want back what they had. People who were moved against their will want to strike back.

Then the money and influence is also exemplified over and over again. Agencies as they describe, do in fact pander and cater to specific desires of the ‘customers’ they claim to represent. If those in charge of an agency, once confined to a given set of geography, feel bold enough, they will even turn on their customers and use the power they have amassed for their own ends. And even when this doesn’t happen, money and influence constantly peck at the doors and convince some running or working for the agencies to suit their needs above the needs of the rest of the ‘customers’.

History is the evidence

No, the anarcho-capitalist’s “agency” approach isn’t anything new at all. They just fail to see how the mixing of opposed ‘customers’ does turn into an endless shootout. It’s happened. In Israel. In Ireland. In Rowanda. In Korea. In Viet Nam. In Cambodia. In Eastern Europe.

If you haven’t figured it out yet yourself, the corollary is international politics. And ask anyone if they want a system that mirrors the one that spawned holy wars, inquisitions, imperial conquests, world wars, nuclear cold wars, etc. I have a feeling, anyone with a brain will say ‘NO’!

international