Category Archives: Technology and Society

The Rise And Fall

of a great something.

Adding more money will not fix the problem; it may even make it worse because things have just gone over their heads. The expansion of private activity into outer space will create a still bigger challenge for the 20th-century state. Latencies in communication imposed by the limited speed of light mean that real-time control from the center will become impossible in principle. Even the Mars copter is largely autonomous.

Taken together, these developments suggest that the collapse we may be feeling — if one is in fact occurring — is not the fall of a hegemon but the crumbling of hegemony itself. It is probably driven by the drastic increase of complexity in the 21st century, represented by an ever-lengthening flood of bits which, if not understood, is psychologically indistinguishable from entropy. The world, like a team of wild horses, may have gotten away from the UN, Xi, Vladimir, and Joe because it’s gotten too dang complicated to control. Going back to historical metaphors, humanity may be reliving, not the fall of Rome but the fall of Babel.

Vernor Vinge, Neil Stephenson, and others saw this coming.

Computer Woes Continue

OK, things get worse and worse. I got the MSI motherboard, and installed it yesterday. The build went fine, except it still refuses to issue video output. Fans are running, no debug LEDs are lit, but I’m in the same situation I was with the ASUS board.

I tried swapping out video cards again, with no joy. I swapped memory with my own desktop, and not only did it not work, but when I put the stick back in the computer, it gave me a DRAM error, so somehow I managed to damage half of my 32G of RAM. Plus, now my computer won’t boot. It just dumps me into rescue mode, and I don’t see anything obvious in the journal.

I’d be pulling hair if I had any to spare.

[Friday-afternoon update]

So we had a power failure in the middle of the night, when a high-speed police chase through the neighborhood resulted in the perp crashing a stolen BMW into an Edison pole and breaking it (both the pole and the car, apparently). It lasted almost twelve hours, and just came back up (I wandered over around the block a couple times and watched SoCal Edison replacing the pole and reattaching lines).

No status update on the computer. At this point, I’m just going to load it all in the car and take it to Colorado with us, because I’m out of time to fix it before we leave tomorrow. I’ll be there until next weekend, but it was intended to go and be left there anyway. Worst case is I’ll take it to Best Buy (since I got the motherboard there) and see if they can figure it out.

[Thanksgiving Eve update]

So I took it to the Geek Squad yesterday (because I bought the replacement mobo at Best Buy), and with their test GPU, we determined that it was in fact the video card, so the original mobo was probably OK. I went to Micro Center to get another one, and the machine is finally running.

Now I’m trying to install Windows on it (I know, I know, but it’s not my machine…).

It booted into Linux with the SSD that I use to boot into my laptop, so I made a boot disk from a Windows 10 ISO on a USB stick. But it won’t boot from that stick. I just get a message to put in a proper boot device and hit return, but there is no way to do that. And when I hit return, I just keep getting the same message. I’ve booted back into Linux whence I am updating this post.