Bigsley the Oaf

Common Knowledge Catastrophe

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on December 25, 2013

This continues on the earlier post.

For society to “discover something about itself” means that some large portion of its population knows something true about it. E.g. society “discovered” its approximate population at some point. Right? Right now, “most people” know that the population of earth is ~7 billion. Maybe 20 years ago most people knew what the population was. Who knows? But if you go back far enough, very few people knew the population. This means that at some point, society “discovered” it.


So, it stands to reason that at some point, society is going to “discover” other things about itself. Look, I’m not even saying that the things that it’ll discover are right, but merely that at some point it’ll be true that the majority of people know something, and know that everyone else knows it, too. [1]

What if what it discovers is that something very bad is going to happen. This is the stuff of boring sci-fi – but it’s often the case that boring sci-fi turns into interesting reality.


[1] I’ve talked about this a lot – the idea of “common knowledge completeness” – often, it matters more what people think about what other people know than what they know, themselves. This is the idea behind bank runs and whatnot.


Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on December 25, 2013

One night my eyelashes were falling out like crazy.

The first two I wasted.

The third one made

all the difference.

Peak Oil & Common Knowledge Catastrophe

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on December 24, 2013

I’m writing this post because I was reading this article and the thought occurred to me that I have never been afraid of the apocalypse so much as acutely aware that it would happen someday.

We are living on the edge of calamity. The way we structure our lives, emotionally and psychologically, relies on the way we structure them, materially. Our dependencies are many. We are now living with a number of aged dependents far greater than we have at any other point in history. We mostly live in cities, which means that we are now more dependent on our transportation infrastructure than ever before. We are reliant on psychiatric medicines, antibiotics, GMOs, and all other manner of technology. But at the root of it all is oil. And oil will someday run out.

Oil may run out before we understand how to deal with the fact that it may run out. War might be coming. Not war as some sort of abstract possibility, and not necessarily war as we expect it. The war might take the form of genocide, of mass-extermination, of totalitarian control. The war may be us against our government.


The point I want to make is one about common knowledge. Right now the economy and the world is functioning because people do not believe what I said above. People don’t believe we’re running out of oil – or if they do, they think that it won’t cause war, famine, and strife on a world-wide scale. Once that belief is common, the world will stop functioning. Our infrastructure will shut down, crime will explode, and there will be war.

What happens once the belief that oil is running out becomes common? My claim is that it is at that point that calamity will occur, and that that point may be long before oil actually runs out. Once the common man/woman believes that the apocalypse is coming it has come. Nothing can control the world if no one believes it is controllable.

Thus, it behooves us (us being me + you all reading this blog) to predict the point at which people will believe en masse that peak oil is hereThat is the inflection point of history. That is the point that we must act or escape.


what what

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on December 24, 2013

I had these sources of inspiration – Rumi, some tumblrs, some buddhist texts, some sufist texts, some math, some poetry – which I wove together into a coherent vision of the everything. I felt like I was stumbling out of Plato’s cave; the shadows becoming clearer, I could see how they were flowing forth from the sun, tumbling one over another into the depths.

The feeling was one of unexpectedly and inexplicably finding familiarity in what should be the unfamiliar. I would read a poem and recognize it instantly, though I had never seen it before – or hear some new music and know it, deeply. But now nothing speaks, the world is quiet, all art is merely indifferent, unfamiliar pattern.

But now it is what what – now it has become a mess – and I’m not sure how or why this happened. I think it might be work, and stress, and the commute. I’m terribly worried and I miss the feeling very much.

It feels like a horrible loss.

Towards a Moral Vision for the San Francisco Bay Area

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on December 2, 2013

Required Reading: Inequality the Biggest Issue of Our Time

I have been slightly emboldened, recently, by the combination of facts that Pope Francis’s political and humanitarian beliefs are strikingly similar to my own, and that his popularity is large enough to be palpable. Articles such as this (look at the kindness in that man’s face) bring me to the point of tears and fill me with hope for the future.

My deepest hope is for a world of justice and peace. One in which our social and political institutions are made to serve us, rather than the other way around. One in which class difference is eradicated. One in which we can all slow down, enjoy our lives, and live in the bounty which exists on earth.

The Bay Area is tremendously powerful. We hold the keys to the nation’s information. Collectively, we understand how humans communicate better than any group of humans that has ever lived. Yet…

We revel in our meritocracy, while we forget that we are no more the basis of our merits than a tree is its own seed. We revel in our material success, forgetting our responsibility to our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and sisters. Instead of spending our time tending to the world’s most pressing and blatant issue – that of combatting inequality wherever it rears its head – we waste our time building gadgets and toys for ourselves. Instead of working to help empower and heal the population of the world, to raise our fellow man and woman to a higher plane of material, spiritual, and intellectual existence, we find new ways to entertain, advertise to, market to, sell to, capitalize on. We find new ways to use. We find new ways to extract value from the weak and vulnerable.


I search and pray for a vision of how the Bay Area may renounce its collective immoral and unjust tendencies.

I see the use of information technology to create, for the first time in the history of the world, a completely transparent government. One which has no secrets, no room for corruption. A government which is a tool of the people. A government which does not incarcerate almost 1% of its population. A government which does not punish non-violent offenders beyond the point of reason. A government which is not beholden to the most despicable and low of corporate interests. A government which does not allow for discrimination by race, creed, or any other superficial trait – which helps each equally. A government which does not bleed its citizens of their wealth.

I see a population enabled to hold real, meaningful political discussion in which the sentiments of the people are distilled and displayed for all to see. Our minds are dominated by a media which doesn’t care what we think, who we are, how we suffer. Ours is a media which mollifies, placates, appeases. One which does little more than entertain. One which trains us to fear our sisters and brothers. Our political rhetoric is dominated by diversions, appeals to false dichotomies. As Pope Francis said:

How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?

We control the internet, and the internet is identically the means by which news is disseminated. Why do we continue to allow the pedaling of bullshit as truth, ignorance as reason? Why do we continue to allow the media to ignore inequality as the primary moral, social, and political problem of our time?

There was a point in silicon valley’s history at which it was beholden to old, entrenched, economic powers. We are now at a point in our evolution at which we can wrest our reins out of the hands of the oppressing class and use our collective intellectual, social, and material power to change the world in a truly positive direction.

The center of my hope for a new moral vision in the Bay lies in a belief that we have great and untapped potential for reflection and self-criticism. Let us be wary of recapitulating the moral mistakes of those who would strive to rise above their fellow human. Let us be gracious. Let us be humble. Let us serve.


Bless the name of Pope Francis, born Jorge Maria Bergoglio. May he live long and bring hope to the many lost Children of this world.