Published: 2022-03-31   Last modified: 2022-03-31

Introduction: Axis of Primeval

Back in my time, I’d been fascinated by the texts of the magnificent teachers of the past—​Buddha, Laozi and Zhuangzi, ancient Greeks…​ I had then rather poorly concept of the human history timeline, but one day I was struck by the discovery that the greatest teachers—​the founders—​lived in the same time period (around 5th-6th century BCE). You see, in my perception back then those founders were somewhat mythical figures, each one living in his own spiritual world. The fact that they walked the earth simultaneously, made them more real, more human, and by that—​paradoxically—​even more awe-inspiring. Since if they were flesh and blood like myself, how the hell could they come with such amazing discoveries about the world and the human nature two and a half millennia ago?

Years later, I found that I wasn’t the only one who was stunned by this historical fact. Although some scholars noticed that at least as far back as in the 18th century, the most prominent treatise was made about seventy years ago by Karl Jaspers who coined the term Axial Age (Achsenzeit in German) which refers to quite a broad time range to include Greeks from Homer to Archimedes, Buddhists from the Buddha up till Ashoka, all the Hundred Schools of Thought of China, as well as Zoroaster, Mahavira, and the Hebrew prophets.

While Jaspers and others emphasized the common denominator of the Axial Age teachings, wondering how the similar shifts in humans' worldview were made at the same time in all major Eurasian civilizations, I want to take a different path and to discuss the distinctive ideas which were introduced by the Achsenzeit thinkers, and which, I daresay, shape not only our present worldview, but, to some extent, even the future one. By worldview I mean the deepest set of ideas and conceptualizations that define our perception of all the things around and inside us. Some similar notions are Weltanschauung, root memeplex, assemblage point, reality tunnel.

Each of the three thinkers presented here contributed to (not to say founded) one of the three pillars of the worldview (the order is according to the order of presentation):

  • The View of/on the External (Physical) World/Reality

  • The View of/on the Human Society and its Organization

  • The View of/on the Human Internal World, the Selfdom

I start with the thinker who introduced the most powerful current worldview-shaping idea—​Pythagoras. One may be surprised by my choice, especially if one’s primary, if not the only, association with the name Pythagoras is the eponymous theorem, which is as justified as associating Plato chiefly with the featherless biped definition. The genius of Pythagoras was so unique that it may even explain the Fermi paradox.

Then we will look into Confucius. For many people Confucius is associated with boring rituals and banal maxims e.g. respect to parents etc. Nothing to compare with the exciting ideas of Taoists, Chan-Buddhists, "The Art of War" and so on. As a matter of fact, however, Confucius was onto something amazing, an idea (a set of interconnected ideas, actually) that, although only partially implemented in our modern society, changed it drastically.

The last but not least is the Buddha. Everyone knows Buddha. But does everyone know what was/is his main point? And if everyone does know, how is that that virtually all the people think and act completely contrariwise? After all, if Buddha’s main point was false, why would he be so famous? Implementing Buddha’s main point would turn our life into something totally different.

There is an interesting pattern: the popularity of each of these three thinkers is inversely proportional to the degree of the implementation of their ideas in the life of an average human being today.

Although the uniqueness of each of the three is of the interest of this post, there is one common feature that worth to be mentioned. Time and again, people put Buddhism, Confucianism, and Pythagoreanism in the religion category, together with e.g. Abrahamic religions and Hinduism. However, there is a critical difference. The three thinkers were not prophets, in the sense that they did not speak in the name of god(s). While their followers (especially those of Buddha) have created some rituals and institutions similar to those of "proper" (gods-based) religions, the original ideas and their substantiations were entirely human.

Published: 2022-02-17   Last modified: 2022-03-11

Futurists warning about the threats of AI are looking in the wrong place. Humanity is already facing an existential threat from an artificial intelligence we created hundreds of years ago. It’s called the Corporation.[1]

— Jeremy Lent

They Live

Welcome to the Megamachine

Never send a human to do a machine’s job.

— Agent Smith
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[W]hat economists lately termed the Machine Age or the Power Age, had its origin, not in the so-called Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century, but at the very outset in the organization of an archetypal machine composed of human parts.
This extraordinary invention proved in fact to be the earliest working model for all later complex machines, though the emphasis slowly shifted from the human operatives to the more reliable mechanical parts. <…​> As a result of this invention, huge engineering tasks were accomplished five thousand years ago that match the best present performances in mass production, standardization, and meticulous design.

This machine escaped notice and so naturally remained unnamed until our own day, when a far more powerful and up-to-date type, utilizing a congeries of subordinate machines, came into existence.
Because the components of the machine, even when it functioned as a completely integrated whole, were necessarily separate in space, I shall for certain purposes call it the 'invisible machine': when utilized to perform work on highly organized collective enterprises, I shall call it the 'labor machine': when applied to acts of collective coercion and destruction, it deserves the title, used even today, the 'military machine.' But when all the components <…​> must be included, I shall usually refer to the 'megamachine': in plain words, the Big Machine. <…​> [A]n invisible structure composed of living, but rigid, human parts, each assigned to his special office, role, and task, to make possible the immense work-output and grand designs of this great collective organization.
That invention was the supreme feat of early civilization: a technological exploit which served as a model [which] was transmitted, sometimes with all its parts in good working condition, sometimes in a makeshift form, through purely human agents, for some five thousand years, before it was done over in a material structure that corresponded more closely to its own specifications, and was embodied in a comprehensive institutional pattern that covered every aspect of life.
With the energies available through the royal machine, the dimensions of space and time were vastly enlarged: operations that once could hardly have been finished in centuries were now accomplished in less than a generation. On the level plains, man-made mountains of stone or baked clay, pyramids and ziggurats, arose in response to royal command: in fact the whole landscape was transformed, and bore in its strict boundaries and geometric shapes the impress of both a cosmic order and an inflexible human will. No complex power machines at all comparable to this mechanism were utilized on any scale until clocks and watermills and windmills swept over Western Europe from the fourteenth century of our era on.
Now to call these collective entities machines is no idle play on words. If a machine be defined <…​> as a combination of resistant parts, each specialized in function <…​> to utilize energy and to perform work, then the great labor machine was in every aspect a genuine machine: all the more because its components, though made of human bone, nerve, and muscle, were reduced to their bare mechanical elements and rigidly standardized for the performance of their limited tasks. The taskmaster’s lash ensured conformity. Such machines had already been assembled if not invented by kings in the early part of the Pyramid Age, from the end of the Fourth Millennium on.
Capitalism <…​> relied on the method of conditioning used successfully by animal trainers to ensure obedience to orders, and to secure the performance of difficult feats. And whereas kingship had emphasized punishment, a method that has a definite limit in the death of the individual too severely punished, there was no limit under early capitalism to the possibility of reward. Moreover, this new motive did not appeal only to a single class: it theoretically held out a promise and a hope to the humblest individual who would strictly apply himself to business.
Money, as the nexus in all human relations and as the main motivation in all social effort, replaced the reciprocal obligations and duties of families, neighbors, citizens, friends. And as other moral and esthetic considerations diminished, the dynamics of money power increased. Money was the only form of power which, through its very abstraction from all other realities, knew no limits—though finally this indifference to concrete realities would meet its nemesis in the progressive inflations of an 'expanding economy.'[2]
[The invention of] the joint stock company, with limited liability, <…​> widened the number of possible investors and relieved them of the burden of individual responsibility for bankruptcy that single ownership or partnership entailed. These changes completed the depersonalization of the whole industrial process. After the seventeenth century an increasing number of anonymous workers were exploited for the benefit of equally anonymous and invisible and morally indifferent absentee owners.

Thus the various components of mechanized industry conspired to remove the traditional valuations and the human aims that had kept the economy under control and caused it to pursue other goals than power. Absentee ownership, the cash nexus, managerial organization, military discipline, were from the beginning the social accompaniments of large-scale mechanization <…​> based on <…​> contracting or expanding or diverting human needs to those that are required to keep such an economy in operation. Warfare <…​> in turn contributed further to mechanization by reverting in industry to a military discipline and daily drill, in order to ensure uniform operations and uniform results. This reciprocal interplay between warfare <…​> and mechanization was ultimately responsible for some of the most vexatious problems that must now be faced.
The process of automation has produced imprisoned minds that have no capacity for appraising the results of their process, except by the archaic criteria of power and prestige, property, productivity and profit, segregated from any more vital human goals. The Pentagon of Power. By its own logic automation is dedicated to the installation of a system of total control over every natural process, and ultimately over every organic function and human purpose. Not strangely, the one part of this civilization that escapes the principle of total control is—automation itself! The country in which this mode of collective servitude has been carried furthest has been taught by its information-manipulators (public relations specialists) to call this system ‘Free Enterprise.’
Hitler demonstrated his understanding of the ancient malpractices and misuses of the megamachine far better than its positive potentialities. <…​> To ensure undeviating uniformity, writers, artists, musicians, psychologists were <…​> obliged to wear the same mental uniform. <…​> Meanwhile, the military spirit of brutal drill and mindless obedience was carried into the schools and universities, where, <…​> it had never been entirely absent. In short, the Germans not merely enlarged the dimensions of the ancient megamachine, but made important innovations in the techniques of mass control: innovations that later corporate megamachines are now perfecting with the aid of spying devices, opinion polls, market research, and computerized dossiers on private life.
Fortunately there already are many indications, though scattered, faint, and often contradictory, that a fresh cultural transformation is in the making: one which will recognize that the money economy is bankrupt, and the power complex has become, through its very excesses and exaggerations, impotent. <…​> [I]f mankind overcomes the myth of the machine, one thing may be safely predicted: <…​> present megatechnic institutions and structures will be reduced to human proportions and brought under direct human control. Should this prove true, the present canvass of the existing society, its technological miscarriages and its human misdemeanors, should by implication give valid positive directions for working out a life-economy.[3]

2. Mumford, L. (1970). The myth of the machine. 1: Technics and human development. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
3. Mumford, L. (1970). The myth of the machine. 2: The pentagon of power (1. ed). Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

  Bash   Web

Published: 2020-10-28   Last modified: 2022-02-27

Why another SSG and why this post?

  • I couldn’t find a ready-made SSG for my site. I wanted it to be small and simple while having all the features I needed, FOSS and secure, well documented.

  • I don’t write software, however do have some background in IT, so I decided to build one myself. It’s a fun exercise after all.

  • In this post I attempt to expound why and how it works for the non-programmers such as myself. A prerequisite is some basic understanding of: Bash, regex, HTML.

1. Main features

The first step in building a SSG is to decide what features it should have. I decided for the following ones:

1.1. For the reader (how the website looks and feels)

  • Responsive layout;

  • Tags;

  • Syndication feed (Atom),

    Because feeds are the right way to surf the webs. And because Atom > RSS;

  • No JavaScript; HTML5/CSS only,

  • No external resources (CDN, fonts etc., except search);

  • Absolutely no cookies not even gluten-free;

  • History of posts;

  • Search (by external search engine);

  • SEO-friendly web pages filenames;

  • Pure HTML math formulae.

1.2. For the author (me or you if you choose to adopt this tool)

  • Writing posts in AsciiDoctor markup with live preview,[1]

    Since AsciiDoc > Markdown and AsciiDoctor > AsciiDoc (AsciiDoc uses JS for TOC smh), by transitivity AsciiDoctor > Markdown;

  • Fully automatic workflow, incl. management of tags, "published" and "last modified" dates. Zero manual tinkering with files (after the initial setup);

  • Drafts, with one-key-press option to publish;

  • Option for "read more" line to cut long posts for syndication and homepage;

  • Global tag renaming;

  • Simple listing of all posts/drafts/tags;

  • Fuzzy search for a post to edit (no need to type full title);

  • Local offline writing, simple one-folder rsync-ing to the Web Server;

  • Math notation in KaTeX.

1. There are some IDE/editors that provide live preview, but they will show only the edited file. In the setup provided here, all the website is shown. Moreover, I’m not sure the preview that those IDE/editors provide is perfectly equal to the final result. In my setup, it sure is, because it shows the .html file itself. Finally, they are not FOSS and/or not in my distro.

  Android   Bash

Published: 2022-02-07   Last modified: 2022-02-07

What problem this solution solves?

  • Suppose you have a rooted Android phone with a custom ROM without G. You don’t need to sync your calendar and contacts with other devices, but you want to backup them. Secure and automatically. With no loss of deep sleep % or battery drainage. You use only F-Droid apps.

  • Surprisingly, I didn’t find any existing suitable solution.[1] The closest to my needs was EteSync app, but unfortunately lately it stopped to work, and the future of the project isn’t clear.

This setup could be quite easily adopted for backuping other apps data.
This post is quite long, as it is intended for people, who, like me, while have some experience with command line and Bash in Linux, are less acquainted with the Android internals and Termux abilities, thus each step is well (I hope) explained and documented.

1. There are some syncing apps, like DecSync CC or DAVx5, but syncing is different from a backup. Also, the first app has some issues, while the second needs a server, paid or self-hosting. After some testing I decided I need something more simple, reliable, and with no need for a server.

  Qubes   Bash

Published: 2022-02-07   Last modified: 2022-02-07

Ever wondered why two similar VMs behave differently, for example one VM may access some network resource while for the other the access is denied?

There are five commands one can run in dom0 which provide VM configuration info:

qvm-tags, qvm-service, qvm-prefs, qvm-features, and, last but not least, qvm-firewall.

But to run all of them manually and to compare the results for different VMs is a bit tedious. The following Bash function automatizes this task.

Usage example (run in dom0)
~$ qubes-vm-diff home-VM work-VM
Put this in dom0 ~/.bashrc
qubes-vm-diff() {
    [[ $# -eq 2 ]] || { echo "need 2 arguments (VM names)"; exit; }

    # check that the arguments are indeed VM names
    for arg in $1 $2; do
	    qvm-ls --raw-list | grep -qx "$arg" || { echo "No such VM: '$arg'"; exit; }

    echo "comparing $1 and $2"

    # loop through all the relevant 'qvm-<command>' commands and diff the outputs
    for command in {tags,service,prefs,features,firewall}; do

	    echo "diff $(tput setaf 2) qvm-$command $(tput sgr0) of $1 and $2:" (1)

	    diff <(qvm-$command $1|sort)  <(qvm-$command $2|sort)

1 $(tput …​) commands added for visibility. $(tput setaf 2) sets the font color to green, $(tput sgr0) reverts it back to default. See man tput and man terminfo. If you are still suspicious, remove those commands, so the line simply become echo "diff qvm-$command of $1 and $2:".

Published: 2020-11-12   Last modified: 2020-11-21

What is this site about?

Considering existence precedes essence, I need a few years to be able to answer this.

Who the author is?

I’m Gerasim Dulit from the planet Earth. I think.

How to contact the author?

My email address is <my first name>.<my last name>@<this site domain name>, in lower-case.

What tool the site is built with?

I couldn’t find a ready-made solution that I liked so I made my own Static Site Generator: NoPress.

Why the artsy-craftsy colors?

“The medium is the massage”

  Qubes   Bash

Published: 2020-11-04   Last modified: 2020-11-21


From Thunderbird 78 onwards, Qubes addon for Thunderbird doesn’t work due to changes in the API.

Now to move an attachment to another VM one needs to save it in the Thunderbird VM, to open console, to type qvm-move, or, more securely, qvm-copy and then to shred the file.

There are some solutions proposed in the corresponding Qubes Issue thread, but no one replicates the original mechanism.



The idea is simple:

  1. make a designated folder the attachments will be saved into,

  2. have a process watching that folder for new files,

  3. whenever a file (or files) lands in the folder, the watchdog launches qvm-copy, then shreds the file(s).

In such a workflow, all the user needs to do is to click "save" in Thunderbird, then to choose to which VM to send the file(s).