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Smashing

Todd and I hang out a lot, which breeds a sort of familiarity that leads to every phrase being shortened as much as possible. For example, if one's laptop batteries were very low, the word "critbatts" might be invoked. So when we found ourselves standing outside of the VIP area of the X Games in LA, and Todd said, "Dude, let's just smash it", I knew exactly what he was talking about: the Gaijin Smash.

The Gaijin Smash is a term used to describe a certain way of operating as a foreigner in Japan. The Japanese are extremely polite and sometimes nervous around foreigners (Gaijin), so as a foreigner you tend to get your way. I think the phrase came about from some guy smashing his way through the subway barriers without paying, and not being stopped. Todd and I mostly used it to ride our hilarious fold-up bikes like maniacs.

Anyway, back to the X-Games. Thanks to my brother and his good friend Chase Hawk, Todd and I had passes to this year's event in LA. But our passes were weird: they were only meant to give us access to the skate park section of the course, because Chase was only riding the park. But we also had friends competing in the street course, so we found ourselves standing outside the entrance to the VIP area of the street course, wanting to watch them.

World Government Challenge

On Isaac Lewis

Here's a challenge for you. The leaders of the world have decided that they're not going to get better at working together any time soon, and that they need a better global political framework to solve the many existential threats facing humanity (global warming, nuclear war, runaway nanotechnology, etc). They want you to design that framework. This means that you are (temporarily) the most powerful being in history.

If you want to declare yourself world dictator for life and that all mortals must tremble before you, you can do that. Though for this thought experiment I'll assume you want to use your powers to better humanity.

You could, of course, declare yourself to be a benevolent dictator. This works in the short-term but it's not a robust solution - what happens when you die? Like the founders of the United States, you want to design a system that doesn't rely on any one individual. You want to avoid the risk that your successor is corrupted by power, turns evil, and then genetically engineers himself to be the Immortal Emperor of Earth. More generally, you want to take into account that whatever system you design, it will be maintained and operated by apes, not angels.

One thing we should consider is whether a single global government is actually the answer. Any form of political centralisation is in itself a major risk: you might end up with a worldwide authoritarian police state that can never be defeated.

Maybe instead of one world government you should have two? One to rule the western hemisphere, one to rule the eastern, for example. If one of the superpowers turns evil, the other can invade and sort it out. Some flaws of this plan are obvious: the evil superpower might win, in which case we're stuck with an evil worldwide dictatorship again. Alternatively, the two superpowers might end up locked in an eternal cold war, or blow each other up.

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