Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mathematics of Local Optimism

Mathematics of Local Optimism

The theory of Local Optimism assumes that there are many possible worlds; most are virtual, not lasting long enough to be observed; a few last long enough to be observed, and are called real.
          Local optimism states that any real world is a local optimum; it is the best of all sufficiently similar possible worlds. Call such a possibility-neighborhood the “circumstances”; meaning “that which stands around”; then local optimism says that this is the best possible world, under the circumstances.
          This resembles Leibnitzian Optimism, which states that this is the best possible world of all. Leibnitz says that this world is a global optimum; whereas Local Optimism says that this is a local optimum.
 According to local optimism, there may be many local optima, some better than ours, some worse. This leaves open the question of what is being optimized. Call any system of world-evaluation a “value field”. Real worlds exist at peaks in the value field.
          Local optimization is a proven principle in physics and biology. Biological systems naturally evolve to maximize reproductive fitness; and physical systems obey the law of least action; so optimization can be a maximization or a minimization.
 Local optimism has these mathematical consequences:
          Let the rate of change of value be called ‘progress’, and the rate of change of progress be called ‘uplift’. Then at any local optimum, in every direction, progress is zero, and uplift is negative. That is the “Frown at the Peak”.
 Any path from one local optimum to another must at first decline.
          Any path from one local optimum to another must meet a Path Pessimum; the worst of all possible worlds along the path.
 At any path pessimum, progress is zero, and uplift is positive. That is the “Smile in the Valley”.
          A world ceases to be a local optimum when an ascending path appears, leading to a sufficiently different world. Such paths can appear or disappear when the value-field changes. Therefore revaluation can create and destroy local optima.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Well-Regulated Militia Act

The Well-Regulated Militia Act
A modest proposal
by Nathaniel Hellerstein

I propose the following as legislation before Congress. I call it the Well-Regulated Militia Act, and it goes as follows:
1. The right of the people to keep and bear arms in a well-regulated militia shall not be infringed.
2. Well-regulated militias shall not arm those under adult age, nor arm those found guilty of treason as defined by the Constitution.
3. States have the right to enforce additional regulation of their militias.

Compare and contrast sentence 1 of the Well-Regulated Militia Act with the original 2nd Amendment:
“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.”
Alas, poor Amendment! The sentence lies there, broken into four fragments, as if someone had dropped it on the floor. My critique of the 2nd Amendment is both literary and political; for its shattered incoherence is due to an unresolved political dispute. Washington insisted on good regulation of Jefferson’s popular militias; his objection was jammed on as a subordinate clause given top billing.

Sentence 1 of the Well-Regulated Militia Act fixes the grammar of the 2nd Amendment. It’s a single coherent clause; that prevents partisans from exaggerating one clause and ignoring another. The original had well-regulation as an explanation for the need for the right to bear arms; here well-regulation is part of the right itself. This makes explicit the necessary link between rights (arms) and responsibilities (well-regulated). Sentence 1 is as much about gun control as about gun rights.
This re-emphasis on regulation empowers sentence 2. No children in arms, nor traitors; that’s necessary. If the militia is well-regulated, then it may not arm children or adolescents, who are not well-regulated people; and if the militia is of the state, then it may not arm those levying war upon the states. I choose these two regulations for the sake of clarity. Age is a matter of public record; and treason is defined in the Constitution. (Article 3, section 3.)
          Sentence 3 establishes that the militias belong to the states, which they may regulate as they see fit, as a matter of state’s rights.
          This proposal is very conservative - in the non-Orwellian sense of the word ‘conservative’. It makes few changes in the original text, beyond rewriting it for clarity. This rewriting explicitly mandates both gun rights and gun control. Such rewriting is necessary because of the 2nd Amendment’s fragmented condition.
          Since the 70s, we have been living with a partial interpretation of the shattered 2nd Amendment, one that ignores the first two fragments and fetishizes the next two. So for over forty years the 2nd Amendment has been half-repealed, to malign effect now self-evident.
I say that we repair it, and reinstate it, whole.