The Cost of Clandestinity

I wonder what the world would be like with out any pervs looking at your every move, be it on your own computer screen or in a stall of a bathroom.

I had a very tall black man look over the stall of a Palo Alto library bathroom today. I was of course secretly doing something the details of which I wished no other would know. I asked him if he could respect my privacy, and he just giggled. I followed him to the parking lot and watch him drive away, not sure why I did that.

I wonder what the cost to normal citizens if all of these pervs who intrude on our privacy do not do that? Like would the world really fall apart?

Well, yes, all pervs includes foreign and commercially and differently aligned pervs too, if all of them just stopped.

Aside from the energy savings, what downside would there be? Can I get a tax cut? Will the labor force expand? Can we take all that intelligence and all those talents and try to cure cancer or go to space?

Just an idle thought after a very annoying encounter.


He drove away and then back. He’s now sitting in the library parking lot, in his green Rav Four with California plate 3TGT33I. Definitely smoking marijuana. Do secret police use marijuana while on the job? Like this dude should really be fired if he’s law enforcement! I guess this could be a garden variety perv, huh? Nobody would ever know under so much secrecy and disguises.

So, now, am I a snoop now typing this stuff down? I hope not because I’m publishing the information, right? But wait, he can become non-secretive by publishing the details of my activity on the toilet at the public bathroom. It seems my conundrum requires some formalization of information, actions and efforts, definition of considerations, and unified cost structure to continue a reasonable discussion of this matter.

Michael, I am Your Mother!

Wowah, did anybody experience a Star Wars flashback when Michaels mother came out of a mighty powerful masked suit just as Michael is near death? Like, “Luke, I am your father” moment?


I’m really glad they dumbed the show down a little bit and let us realize section 31 ship was an AI… so let’s see, the AI probably put Michael’s bio marker into that file, so that they would capture the red angel in the past, so that future AI can prevail.

Thinking a bit more, this Control AI suffer from some problems of today’s AI systems. It’s objective to control terror in the world, to analyze risk, is probably overly greedy and it failed to take into account all of our values, like existence, life, liberty, happiness, freedom from secretive manipulations of events of our lives, in its pursuit of control of interstellar power.

The way it happens is if one subscribe to extreme dogma, such as the fictional logic extremest. But the real sad part is that really, the problem is that politics, the political system, of this future, allowed this travesty to take place. I wonder what humans have thought about the power to manage entire populations. It’s kind of hard to see the where Trek is going with this? Do we expect some kind of revelation about how to fix this?

Anyways, did anybody notice that Saru welcomed Admiral Cornwell onboard? Seems this is usually reserved for the Capital or the most senior officer admitting the new arrival?! Man, Pike’s like, gotta be feeling the balls crushed here… admiral onboard running the mission, Saru, Burnham, Spock!, man… these are not a easy combination for a leader… like I wonder what kind of conversation Pike would have with Saru about this? “Oh, btw, usually the real captain welcomes esteemed guests, not the former acting captain.” Or “Saru, I’d like to be the one giving permission to come aboard and welcoming guests.” “But I’d just assumed the Admiral had permission to come aboard…” he’d answer defiantly.. post-evolution.


Yay for minority engineers!!! Inventor of the transporter, inventor of the red angel, all African Americans! This is heartwarming diversity for me to see in the 2010’s.

After watching the show for a third time, I finally caught the other theme of Federation versus section 31. It seems the show espouses two very very polar believes. Those that believe in the principals of Federation and those who believe in keeping Federation around by all means necessary.

The argument made most by the Federation people is that section 31 should not exist… because of small violations it takes liberties on: espionage, murder, sabotage, genocide, etc. for the purpose of keeping Federation alive.

The argument made by section 31 is that without it the Federation does not exist, and plus it’s kind of fun and sometimes advances Federation agendas too.

Personally, I think the good guys are fighting a losing battle. I mean section 31 has time traveling technology. Power struggles against section 31 have never and will never succeed. The failure, however, of personal persuasion to convert one person from section 31 adherent to Federation torch bearer is very concerning. Both in that Federation has nothing noteworthy to offer said person and that section 31 does have something to offer said person. It troubles me to see that even in our imagination of the achievable future utopia, we believe that there will just be those that do not fit in the whole society that they have to be in their own secret society. This idea disturbed me a lot.

Dual Tax-Free Taxes

Now, suppose you have two taxing bodies, how would you set tax for a system where income going into tax should be tax-free? F is nominal federal tax, S is the nominal state tax, and p is the proportion of income paid to either taxes and A is the income pretax. Let p_f be proportion paid to federal government, and p_s be amount paid to state.

If both governments refuse to tax money going towards government, then the effective tax rate as a function of the two taxes using the formula from the tax-free-tax system would be:

p= \frac{F+S}{1+F+S}

Let’s consider a bullying federal government that stipulates that California cannot tax its residents unless United States exists, therefore the federal tax takes priority. California still refuses to tax income paid to any government as tax. We apply the formula in the tax-free-tax system twice.

p_f = \frac{F}{1+F}

p_s*A = S(1-p_f)(1-p_s)A

p_s = S \frac{1-p_f}{1 +S - S*p_f}

Producing this expression:

p= p_f + (1-p_f)p_s

Finally, what happens when California retaliates by taxing the money paid into federal tax, but maintains that it does not tax income used to pay Californian income tax?

p_s = \frac{S}{1+S}

p_f = \frac{F}{1+F}

So the effective tax rate under inconsiderate governments will be:

p = p_s + p_f = \frac{S + F + 2SF}{1 + S + F + SF}

Understandably, the effective rate increases as the government ignore each other’s taxes.

There are, of course many other ways to skin this cat. We can consider one simplest one. Suppose California and USA disagree very strongly that California says it must have s of the incomes of individuals of the state. (The state income I, If we were doing VAT, in which case we tax the gdp) and the federal government demands f of that income. The argument proceeds until California decides that it is give me fair taxes or death and begins its secession from the union.

President Trump calculates that USA will save annually Y from not patrolling California coast, etc. Governor Newsom stipulate that California contributes to non-California USA income (again, easier if talking about GDP) by some Z. Trump then retorts, yeah but you spend \gamma of your state tax money on interstate commerce that you will not be spending. (This is arguable post facto assertion will stick, since all calculations are made not only to secess from union but also to dissolve California. In this case, there will be no \gamma or Y_{CA})

The loss USA stands to experience is fI - Y + fZ and the loss California stands to experience is s*I - \gamma + Y. So, dividing the saved loss in half, both side may agree to share loss \frac{(s(1-\gamma) + f)I + fZ }{2} of the tax money. This means

p = f+s(1-\gamma)

And federal government gives California fZ/2 of the taxes it collects from other states in addition to providing the existing Y services. But in reality, this type of analysis is complicated by the fact that the state and federal budget may both exceed tax revenue! And of course we’d never agree on what Y and \gamma are.

Discovery S2E9


Jonathan Frakes directs.


Did they just like step this TV show up by three notches or what? Wow the music, the conversation, the fight scene. Everything I complained about is like… really good now.

I have never ducked while watching a fight scene in any Star Trek Series until this one.

Pike looks real now. Spock’s sharp wit… the realistic groans from heavy punches… the tasteful use of wire-fu… Admiral Cornwell, the dialog flows so naturally and so believable. Like, I don’t know what effects director has, but it’s like they changed out all the actors for better ones, or something. Even Martin-Greene’s Burnham, already top-botch acting, now seem to blend in to the other great acting, accentuating it, feelings ebbing and flowing,

Airiam, dead… that longing music followed by silence, and no preview for next week… the end… the end to a sad series of unfortunate events… the tragedy of a lifetime wrapped up in a few supporting role scenes, but so central and so powerfully done.

Wow, what did just happen here. This is like really high quality Trek. Damn! It’s like, really high quality drama. Do they give oscars for tv series? I’m not too ashamed to nominate this show now, if only for this episode. Wow!

Now let’s see what they do with AI. As I always have, I doubt it will end well. I’ll end up hating Trek more for poor treatment of AI.

Alas, at least they’re getting humans and aliens right…

Trek Swagger

S2E4. I’m trying to dissect the #1 and pike scene. I just don’t get it… the conversation is a little off, like literally one actor waits for the other holding breadth and the responses come maybe 50-200ms too soon. Maybe they think and speak faster in a few centuries, but it feels wrong. Probably the most smoothly flowing dialog is Reno with Stamets and Tilly. And seriously, Stamets has the right swagger, confident, knowledgeable, collaborative, Tilly is very convincing, not that nervousness is hard, but her whole role, for some reason feel more realistic and she seem one of the most real person on the show. Reno, seem to be most experienced in delivery. Her lines are delivered without those odd synchronization problems. Phillipa, and her empress anti-self both are dutifully performed with the right swagger. Dignity, power, respect, Picard-like, comes to mind, ignoring her speech. You feel her expectation when she gives an order. Not so with pike.

Burnham and Saru are of course very convincing characters and their powerful scenes in this episode is very good. I wish the episode could have highlighted this aspect… some how with more plot…. I’m watching this scene for the third time and seeing their emotions more. (Also, kind of mumbling “eat it” when it fell off) but there are so much going on… btw, did the makeup for Saru change to make him look more muscular? He looks so much tougher after the ganglia are offed. Hear that biting speech, “knowing that my people were lied to…” the anger is so real, man, so good. Deliberate generational deceptions !! Wow! That’s awful!! And it all came through through a completely covered faces and hands.

Even data had swagger. Press of a button is accompanied with bodily followthrough sufficient to suggest the sheer massiveness in computation or energy transfer it caused. The actors eyes focuses on their screens and it takes time to look back and Picard. And all that human subtleties seem amiss in this episode.

The ensigns of Discovery doesn’t respond to orders firmly enough, with the military style–like they are usually akin to bark, “ayae, sir!” as if it is required to save their lives.

And at conclusion, one feel the need for euphoric “set the course for,…, engage” and even though they engage in warp… I mean c’mon, give us the warp-shot, and fade in music. The slow stretch, and let us stare at the star field, to wonder a bit… all these things, seem amiss. Do they know this series is really different from TNG and TOS?

But admittedly though, applause must be given for the giant leap in story telling. The intimate relationships of future human and aliens, and I don’t mean just physical intimacy, the personal growths, discovery of historical cultural fabrications that inhibited the growth of a whole civilization, techology, rules of law, diplomacy and espionage… These are powerful stuff, all packed in one hour. I mean, this story feels like The way I would write it. (Or I wish I could come up with all this really great plot) But, as I would have it, they packed everything in and demand viewer to be smart enough to keep up. And I kind of did, but my emotions are not agile enough to flip through the scenes and context switch to produce a good feeling at the end of the episode.

It sucks! Tilly is abducted. Like all that goodness, first/last contact, Saru, Spoke, #1, and I’m left concerned for Tully’s suffering. This sucks!