Jonathan Swift on DDoS

Jonathan Swift in the "Drapier's Letters" back in 1724, writing on what is now called distributed denial of service:

It is true, indeed, that, within the memory of man, the parliaments of England have sometimes assumed the power of binding this kingdom [Ireland] by laws enacted there; wherein they were at first openly opposed (as far as truth, reason, and justice are capable of opposing) by the famous Mr. Molyneux, an English gentleman born here, as well as by several of the greatest patriots and best whigs in England; but the love and torrent of power prevailed.

Indeed the arguments on both sides were invincible. For, in reason, all government without the consent of the governed, is the very definition of slavery: but, in fact, eleven men well armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. But I have done; for those who have used power to cramp liberty, have gone so far as to resent even the liberty of complaining: although a man upon the rack was never known to be refused the liberty of roaring as loud as he thought fit.

Historical note: it was on this precedent that the American colonies founded their claim not to be governed by the English Parliament; they gave evidence of their refusal by dumping taxable tea into Boston Harbor.

North American Federation

First, go read Tim Bray's post. What follows will make no sense without it. (I originally sent it as an email to Tim.)

Hey, wonderful! I'm all for it.

It got me to thinking about symbolism for the Federation. How 'bout we use the Maple Leaf Flag, but with the red bars changed to blue? This would keep the "red, white, and blue" symbolism important to Unitedstatesians, but the outline would be that of Canada's flag.

Then we could use America the Beautiful as the national anthem (far better than either official anthem both in lyrics and melody, in my opinion). I think verses 1, 2, 7, and 4 of the final 1913 version, in that order, are the keepers, and the blue bars in the new flag would resonate with "from sea to shining sea".

Politically, the Federation keeps a prime-ministerial system with an elected but ceremonial head of state, like all sensible democratic countries. We'd have 16 states, 10 provinces, 2 commonwealths (Massachusetts and Pennsylvania), 3 territories, and one free city (Washington City). We'd also of course have New York City, the financial capital of the planet Earth.

As for the Republic wanting access to the Pacific, let them buy a border province or two from Mexico. "How many Texans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" "Texans don't screw in lightbulbs; they go to Mexico."

On a more serious note, this map is interesting. Back in 1981, a Washington Post writer named Joel Garreau (of Quebecker descent) wrote a fascinating book called The Nine Nations of North America, showing how the continent naturally fell into nine distinct regions (with a few outliers like Manhattan, D.C., and Hawai'i). There's a main web site where the whole book is available online; it's back in print, too.


The Heinlein Index

The Heinlein Index is the answer to the question:

For how many minutes must a journeyman carpenter [that is, neither an apprentice nor a master] labor in order to be able to buy one additional kilogram of the local standard bread?

For the United States, 2000 data (the most recent I can easily find) shows the median hourly wage of a journeyman carpenter as USD 17.28, and a loaf of bread (approx. 1 lb = 1/2.2 kg) costing USD 2.50. That leads to a current HI of about 19.

The neat thing about the HI is that it represents the marginal relative value of labor, and thus neatly compensates for not only the varying cost of living, but the varying standard of living. We all have to eat, though some of us live in caves and others in high-rises.

The Internet Oracle

The Internet Oracle is, well, it's hard to say what it is: a game, a service, an outlet for the imagination, a virtual personality? But anyhow, you submit a question to it, and you get back an answer, typically a humorous and creative one. There are traditions about how you formulate questions (by groveling, in short) and how the answer is worded (it always ends by telling you what you owe the Oracle). In fact, though, what you owe is an answer to someone else's question which the Oracle will send you one day.

Here's a reply I just got:

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply. Your question was:

O sagaciousest and perspicaciousest of Oracles, it's little I know of the duties of men of the sea, but I'll eat my hand if I understand however the Narrator can be at once the cook, and the Captain bold, and the mate of the Nancy brig, and the bosun tite, and the midshipmite, and the crew of the Captain's gig. Can you please explicate this matter for the future benefit of your unworthy slave?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

I was musing over this with some... contacts of mine, who received this piece of intelligence with great interest. Turns out Mr N. Arrator has been claiming paychecks on behalf of at least six different people, none of whom were legally entitled to work in this country. Rest assured Mr Arrator will be spending a long time paying for this.

Oh, and thanks to this tip-off, I negotiated my way out of some rather nasty audit proceedings regarding my tribute, so you owe the Oracle nothing. This time.

Internal evidence shows that the crew of the Captain's gig in fact numbered four.


Sorry to be a pain about this

Sorry to be a pain about this, but I'm enabling Blogger's CAPTCHA feature, so you are going to have to type in the string of letters and numbers you see in a graphic in order to comment. I'm tired of deleting comment spam, especially since Blogger doesn't seem to notify me when people post comments.