Links November 2023

The Long Now has an insightful article about air quality [1].

Every country needs food labelling laws like Mexico has [2]. Also we need to abolish the investor state tribunals, companies should just accept local laws and obey them – or be treated in the same way as pirates on the high seas.

Ian Jackson wrote a good post about conference policies regarding Covid19 [3]. We really need to do more about this, conservatives like to imagine that it’s gone away but people are still getting sick and dying of it.

John Goerzen wrote an informative article about “air gaps” and ways they can be part of a useful and usable security system [4].

This YouTube video has a good introduction to LLMs (Large Languge Models) for machine learning [5].

This eye tracker is interesting technology [6]. The video shows it being used for MS Flight Simulator but it can be used for other things. Unfortunately the price of about $550 Australian puts it out of range of a lot of free software work. I think this would be good for tracking the user FOR THEIR BENEFIT so that notifications won’t be delivered when the user is concentrating.

This ABC article about the risk of a past Covid19 infection exacerbating or accelerating Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s is a worry [7].

Sam Hartman wrote an insightful blog post about AI safety, consent, and discussions of sex [8].

Links October 2023

The Daily Kos has an interesting article about a new more effective method of desalination [1].

Here is a video of a crazy guy zapping things with 100 car batteries [2]. This is sonmething you should avoid if you want to die of natural causes. Does dying while making a science video count for a Darwin Award?

A Hacker News comment has an interesting explanation of Unix signals [3].

Interesting documentary on the rise of mega corporations [4]. We need to split up Google, Facebook, and Amazon ASAP. Also every phone platform should have competing app stores.

Dave Taht gave an interesting LCA lecture about Internet congestion control [5]. He also referenced a web site about projects to alleviate the buffer bloat problem [6].

This tiny event based sensor is an interesting product [7]. It could lead to some interesting (but possibly invasive) technological developments in phones.

Tara Barnett’s Everything Open lecture Swiss Army GLAM had some interesting ideas for community software development [8]. Having lots of small programs communicating with APIs is an interesting way to get people into development.

Actually Hardcore Overclocking has an interesting youtube video about the differences between x8 and x14 DDR4 DIMMs [9].

Interesting YouTube video from someone who helped the Kurds defend against Turkey about how war tunnels work [10]. He makes a strong case that the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip won’t be easy or pleasant.

Hello Kitty

I’ve just discovered a new xterm replacement named Kitty [1]. It boasts about being faster due to threading and using the GPU and it does appear faster on some of my systems but that’s not why I like it.

A trend in terminal programs in recent years has been tabbed operation so you can have multiple sessions in one OS window, this is something I’ve never liked just as I’ve never liked using Screen to switch between sessions when I had the option of just having multiple sessions on screen. The feature that I like most about Kitty is the ability to have a grid based layout of sessions in one OS window. Instead of having 16 OS windows on my workstation or 4 OS windows on a laptop with different entries in the window list and the possibility of them getting messed up if the OS momentarily gets confused about the screen size (a common issue with laptop use) I can just have 1 Kitty window that has all the sessions running.

Kitty has “Kitten” processes that can do various things, one is icat which displays an image file to the terminal and leaves it in the scroll-back buffer. I put the following shell code in one of the scripts called from .bashrc to setup an alias for icat.

if [ "$TERM" == "xterm-kitty" ]; then
  alias icat='kitty +kitten icat'

The kitten interface can be supported by other programs. The version of the mpv video player in Debian/Unstable has a --vo=kitty option which is an interesting feature. However playing a video in a Kitty window that takes up 1/4 of the screen on my laptop takes a bit over 100% of a CPU core for mpv and about 10% to 20% for Kitty which gives a total of about 120% CPU use on my i5-6300U compared to about 20% for mpv using wayland directly. The option to make it talk to Kitty via shared memory doesn’t improve things.

Using this effectively requires installing the kitty-terminfo package on every system you might ssh to. But you can set the term type to xterm-256color when logged in to a system without the kitty terminfo installed. The fact that icat and presumably other advanced terminal functions work over ssh by default is a security concern, but this also works with Konsole and will presumably be added to other terminal emulators so it’s a widespread problem that needs attention.

There is support for desktop notifications in the Kitty terminal encoding [2]. One of the things I’m interested in at the moment is how to best manage notifications on converged systems (phone and desktop) so this is something I’ll have to investigate.

Overall Kitty has some great features and definitely has the potential to improve productivity for some work patterns. There are some security concerns that it raises through closer integration between systems and between programs, but many of them aren’t exclusive to Kitty.

Bluetooth Versions and PineTime

I’ve done some tests with the PineTime [1] on different Android phones. On a Huawei Mate 10 Pro (from 2017 with Bluetooth 4.2) it has very slow transfer speeds for updating the firmware (less than 1KB/s) and unreliable connection to the phone. On a Huawei Nova 7i (from 2020 with Bluetooth 4.2) it has slow transfer speeds (about 2KB/s) and a more reliable connection to the phone. On a Pixel 4 XL (from 2019 with Bluetooth 5.0) it has very fast speeds for updating the firmware and also a reliable link.

Version 5 of the Bluetooth standard [2] was released in 2016 so it’s a little disappointing that the Mate 10 Pro doesn’t support it and very disappointing that the Nova 7i doesn’t support it either. Bluetooth 5 adds higher speeds and longer range for LE (Low Energy) modes which are used for things like smart watches.

It’s extremely disappointing that the PinePhonePro [3] only supports Bluetooth 4.1. It’s a phone released in 2021 that doesn’t even have Bluetooth 4.2 which was released in 2014.

For laptops the Thinkpad X1 Carbon 7th Gen release in 2019 [4] was the first in the X1 Carbon series to have Bluetooth 5. So I will probably be limited in my ability to use my personal laptop or PinePhone for testing Linux software that talks to the PineTime and I’ll have to use a laptop borrowed from work.

Brother MFC-J4440DW Printer

I just had to setup a Brother MFC-J4440DW for a relative. They were replacing an old HP laser printer that mysteriously stopped printing as dark as it should, I don’t know whether the HP printer had worn out or if the HP firmware decided to hobble it to make them buy a new printer. In either case HP is well known for shady behaviour with their printer firmware and should be avoided.

The new Brother printer has problems when using wifi and auto DNS. I don’t know how much of that was due to the printer itself and how much was due to the wifi AP provided by Foxtel. Anyway it works better with Ethernet and a fixed address (the wifi AP didn’t allow me to set a fixed address). I think the main thing was configuring CUPS to connect via the IP address and not use Avahi etc.

One problem I had with printing was that programs like Chrome and LibreOffice would hang for about a minute before printing, that turned out to be due to /etc/cups/lpoptions having the old printer (which had been removed) listed as the default. It would be nice if the web configuration for cups would change that when I set the default printer.

CUPS doesn’t seem to support USB printing. If it is possible to get this printer to print via USB then I welcome a comment describing how to do it.

Scanning only seems to work on Ethernet not on USB, the command for scanning that I ended up with was “scanimage -d escl:“. Again I welcome comments from anyone who has had success in scanning via USB. There are probably some Linux users who would find it really inconvenient to setup a network interface specifically for printing. It’s easy for me as I have a pile of spare ethernet cards and a box of cables but some people would have to buy this. Also it’s disappointing that Brother didn’t include an Ethernet cable or a USB cable in the box. But if that makes it cheaper I can deal with that. The resolution for scanning is only 832*1163 and it’s black and white, I think that generally scanning in printers is a bad idea, taking a photo with a phone is a better way of scanning documents.

Generally this printer works well and is cheap at only $299, a price for disposable hardware by today’s standards.

There are Debian packages from Brother for the printer. The scanner package looks like it just configures scanimage, and I’m not sure whether the stock version of CUPS in Debian will do it without the Brother package. One thing I found interesting is that the package mfcj4440dwpdrv has the following shell code in the postinst to label for SE Linux:

if [ "$(which semanage 2> /dev/null)" != '' ];then
semanage fcontext -a -t cupsd_rw_etc_t '/opt/brother/Printers/mfcj4440dw/inf(/.*)?'
semanage fcontext -a -t bin_t          '/opt/brother/Printers/mfcj4440dw/lpd(/.*)?'
semanage fcontext -a -t bin_t          '/opt/brother/Printers/mfcj4440dw/cupswrapper(/.*)?'
if [ "$(which restorecon 2> /dev/null)" != '' ];then
restorecon -R /opt/brother/Printers/mfcj4440dw

This is the first time I’ve seen a Debian package from a hardware vendor with SE Linux specific code. I can’t just add those rules to the Debian policy as that would make the semanage commands fail to add an identical context spec will break the postinst.

In the latest policy I’m uploading to Debian/Unstable (version 2.20231010-1) there are the following 3 lines to deal with this, the first was already there for some time and the other 2 I just added:

/opt/brother/Printers/([^/]+/)?inf(/.*)?        gen_context(system_u:object_r:cupsd_rw_etc_t,s0)
/opt/brother/Printers/[^/]+/lpd(/.*)?   gen_context(system_u:object_r:bin_t,s0)
/opt/brother/Printers/[^/]+/cupswrapper(/.*)?   gen_context(system_u:object_r:bin_t,s0)

The Brother employee(s) who added the SE Linux code to their package are welcome to connect to me on LinkedIn.

More About the PineTime

Since my initial review of the PineTime 10 days ago [1] I’ve used it in more situations. My initial tests were done connecting to a Huawei Nova 7i [2], I am now using it with a Huawei Mate 10 Pro. I’ve also upgraded the PineTime from version 1.11 (from memory) of the Infinitime software that runs on the watch to version 1.13 [3]. To upgrade it I had to download the file to the Android phone and then use the File Installer option of the GadgetBridge Android app to upload it. The zip file does NOT need to be extracted first, I don’t know if GadgetBridge extracts it before upload or if the PineTime firmware has a copy of unzip, but it just works.

Version 1.13 is purported to take less battery, I haven’t directly verified this as I turned on the new feature of measuring my pulse 24*7 which significantly increases battery use. The end result is that the battery is being used up at about the same rate as before, overall adding a new battery-hungry feature while reducing battery use for other things to compensate is a good thing and strongly suggests that battery use has decreased overall.

I have noticed that now with a different phone and different version of the firmware it doesn’t reconnect as reliably. Sometimes I need to turn bluetooth on the watch off and on before it works (which indicates an issue with the firmware) and sometimes I need to turn bluetooth off and on on the phone which indicates a phone issue. Also I often unlock my phone to find the GadgetBridge notification saying that it’s disconnected and it usually connects fine, but I get the impression it’s often disconnected. Does the Mate 10 Pro have a problem that triggers a bug in the PineTime? Does the 1.13 version of InfiniTime have a problem that triggers a bug in the Mate 10 Pro? Are they both independently buggy? Is the new version of InfiniTime just disconnecting when it’s not doing stuff to save battery and triggering bugs that weren’t obvious before?

I’ve tested the media control which basically works, sometimes it gets out of sync and displays the name of the previous track which is annoying. The PineTime is IP67 rated and there are reports on Reddit of people wearing it in the shower and swimming pool. I wouldn’t recommend those things although it should work OK. It might be an option for controlling music when in the bath or when having a pool party.

When the watch is running normally and displays a new notification it’s not possible to swipe it away. You have to go to the notifications menu afterwards to swipe them which I find annoying. Also the notification of an inbound call remains in the notification list indefinitely while I think a more appropriate action is to have it disappear in an amount of time where it’s already been answered or gone to voicemail. Voicemail timeouts are as low as 15 seconds so having the notification disappear after 1 minute would be reasonable.

I have configured my PineTime to take 2 taps on the screen to wake up. I previously had it set to 1 tap and had problems with accidentally doing something it registered as a tap while in bed and waking me up. Also I found that if I want to turn the screen on when my hands are dirty so I don’t want to touch it with a finger then tapping it on my nose works well. Apparently it is programmed to ignore taps on large areas so I can’t wake it with my elbow.

I’ve setup a PineTime for an elderly relative who is greatly enjoying it. I don’t expect them to flash new firmware or do any other complex things, but they are doing well with using the device. They are considering getting a different band as they don’t like rubber. I’m sure their local jeweler has some leather and metal bands that could fit. There is a design on Thiniverse for a PineTime case [4], this could be used for making an adaptor to fit a PineTime to a greatly different type of band, an instrument console, etc.

Generally I think the PineTime is an OK smart watch for someone who’s not into FOSS for it’s own sake. My relative could have been happy with a slightly cheaper watch, but it’s still significantly cheaper than the Samsung and Apple options so it’s not particularly expensive. A benefit for them is that having the same type of SmartWatch as me they will get better tech support.

The PineTime

I have just got a PineTime smart watch [1] from Pine64. They cost $US27 each which ended up as $144.63 Australian for three including postage when I ordered on the 16th of September, it’s annoying that you can’t order more than 3 at a time to reduce postage costs.

The Australian online store Kogan has smart watches starting at about $15 [2] with Bluetooth and support for phone notifications so the $48.21 for a PineTime doesn’t compare well on just price and features. The watches Kogan sells start getting into high resolution at around the $25 price and many of them have features like 24*7 heart monitoring that the PineTime lacks (it just measures when you request it). No-one would order a PineTime for being cheap or having lots of features, you order it because you want open hardware that allows you to do things your way. Also the PineTime isn’t going to be orphaned while it’s likely that in a few years most of the cheap watches sold by Kogan etc won’t support the new phones running the latest version of Android.

The screen of the PineTime is 240*240 resolution (about 260dpi) with 64k colors. The screen resolution is lower than some high-end smart watches but higher than most phones and almost all monitors. I doubt that much benefit could be gained from higher resolution. Even on minimum brightness the screen is easy to read on all but the brightest sunny days. The compute capabilities are 4.5MB of flash storage, 64k of RAM, and a 64MHz CPU – this can’t run Linux and nothing like it will run Linux for a long time.

I’ve had the PineTime for 6 days now, I charged it once and it’s now at 55% battery. It looks like it will last close to 2 weeks on a single charge and it’s claimed that a newer firmware will make the battery last longer.


The main Android app for using with the PineTime is GadgetBridge which I installed from the f-droid repository. It had lots of click-through menus for allowing access to various Android features (contacts, bluetooth, draw over foreground, location, and more) but after that it was easy to setup. It was the first bluetooth device I’ve used which had a 6 digit PIN for connecting to a phone.

Initially I used the PineTime with my Huawei Nova 7i [3]. The aim is to eventually have it run from my PinePhonePro but my test of the PinePhonePro didn’t go as well as hoped [4]. Now I’m using it on my Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

It comes with InfiniTime [5] installed as the default firmware, mine had 1.11.0 which is a fairly recent version. I will probably upgrade it soon to get the better power optimisation and weather alerts in the watch face. I don’t have any plans to use different watch firmware and I don’t have any plans to contribute to firmware development – I just can’t hack on every FOSS project around it’s better to do big contributions to a small number of projects.

For people who don’t want the default firmware the Wasp-OS project seems interesting as it’s written in Python [6], I don’t like Python but it’s very popular. Python is particularly popular in ML development, it will be interesting to see if Wasp-OS becomes a preferred platform for smart watches that talk to GPT servers.

Generally the software works well, one annoyance is that when a notification goes away on the phone it remains on the PineTime and has to be manually dismissed. It would be nice if clearing notifications on the phone would clear them on the PineTime too.

The music control works with RocketPlayer on Android, it displays the track name and has options for pause/play and skipping forward and backward one track. Annoyingly the current firmware doesn’t allow configuring the main screens, from the primary screen you swipe down for notifications, right for settings, up for menus, and there’s nothing defined for swipe left. I’d like to make swipe left the command to get to music control.


It has a detachable band that appears to be within the common range of watch bands. According to the PineTime Wiki page [7] there are a selection of alternate bands that will fit it, but some don’t because the band is recessed into the watch.

It is IP67 rated which means you can probably wear it while swimming. The charging contacts are exposed on the bottom of the case which means that any chemicals left by pool water can be cleaned off and also as they are apparently not expected to be harmed by sweat and skin oil there shouldn’t be a problem charging it. I have significant experience using a Samsung Galaxy S5 Mini which is rated at IP67 in swimming pools. I had two problems with the S5 Mini when getting out of the pool, firstly water in the headphone socket made the phone consider that it was in headphone mode and turn off the speakers and secondly it took hours to become dry enough to charge and after many swims the charge rate dropped presumably due to oxide on the contacts. There are reports of success when swimming with a PineTime.

Generally it feels well made and appears more solid than the cheapest Kogan devices appear to be.


If I wanted monitoring for medical reasons then I would choose a different smart watch. I’ve read about people doing things like tracking their body stats 24*7 and trying to discover useful things, the PineTime is not a good option for BioHacking type use. However if I did have a need for such things I’d probably just buy a second smart watch and have one on each wrist.

The PineTime generally works well. It’s a pity it has fewer hardware features than closed devices that are cheaper. But having a firmware that can be continually improved by the community is good.

The continually expanding use of mobile phone technology devices for custom use in corporations (such as mobile phone in custom case for scanning prices etc in a supermarket) has some potential for use with this. I can imagine someone adding some custom features to a PineTime for such use. When a supermarket chain has 200,000 employees (as Woolworths in Australia does) then paying for a few months of software development work to make a smart watch do specific things for that company could provide significant value. There are probably some business opportunities for FOSS developers to hack on extra hardware on a PineTime and write software to support it.

I recommend that everyone who’s into FOSS buy one of these. Preferably make a deal with two friends to get the minimum postage cost.

PinePhone Status

4 months ago I got my PinePhonePro [1]. Since then I have got SE Linux working on it to the stage of allowing it to boot correctly with Debian/Unstable, login with the user_t domain (minimum privilege for the graphical user) and make and receive calls. I finished getting SE Linux working reasonably well 3 days ago and most (but not all) of the SE Linux policy is in Debian now. I’ve been getting good at Github PRs and I’m sending a lot of policy upstream, so the next version of Debian will have a much smaller diff from the upstream Refpolicy. I have been running the PinePhone with Plasma Mobile because I prefer KDE, I would run GNOME/Phoc if it gave significantly better functionality.

3 days ago I moved my main SIM (the one with the number that people call about work etc) to my PinePhone and tried running it as my main phone. Today I gave up on that.

My Android History

The last phone I had that did everything I needed was a Huawei Mate 10 Pro that I bought refurbished in June 2019 for $389. The Mate 10 Pro runs Android with the Google Play store and has been quite unremarkable which is presumably why I forgot to blog about it when I got it, it was a slight upgrade over the Huawei Mate 9 [2] that I had used for 2 years before that. In April 2022 I tried using a Huawei Nova 7i as my main phone without Google Play programs or services [3]. That experiment was a failure as I couldn’t get NextCloud to work for Calendaring and Contacts. It could be that I stuffed something up when trying that, but I put more skill and effort into trying to get it to work than most people ever would. The Nova 7i is a very slick phone, faster and nicer than the Mate 10 Pro (as expected being 2 years newer) while also having ridiculously long battery life. The Nova 7i when always on running the SchildiChat Matrix client and the Conversations Jabber client it will use less than 10% battery in a 8 hour work day.

As nice as the Nova 7i is for the core functions I still need to have Play Store apps for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Zoom, etc. Which meant connecting the Mate 10 Pro via Wifi. As slick as the Nova 7i is for non-Google stuff running it and the Mate 10 Pro is a medium amount of pain for a small amount of freedom.

So now I have for the moment abandoned the Nova 7i and gone back to the Mate 10 Pro. What I will try to do is to either forcibly install Google Play on the Nova 7i to make it my proprietary phone or to install an open distribution of Linux (IE not Android) to make it at least a small tablet which incidentally is much more powerful than a PinePhonePro.

Issues With the PinePhonePro

The battery charges very slowly (as much as 50 hours estimated charge time) and discharges fast. When used in a typical way in “Caffeine” mode to stop suspend so I can ssh to it etc it won’t come close to lasting an 8 hour day. Also it will only take 5V charging and ideally wants 5V 3A charging which most chargers won’t do. The charging speed over regular USB ports is very slow, sometimes stating it will take as much as 50 hours to charge. A phone that gets below 50% charge in less than 4 hours and can’t be charged at a reasonable speed from a USB port on a laptop or monitor is going to be a major pain to use in the office. I don’t think this can be fixed in software, we can alleviate it by making software more CPU efficient and by enabling various hardware sleep modes more effectively but the slow charging is a hardware issue that can’t be fixed.

The phone call quality is poor. Usually when on a call I hear static and sometimes the person at the other end appears to hear nothing. Also the UI for calls is different from Android which makes it take longer to answer a call and gives more missed calls. The UI issue is a combination of software and habits, both of which can be changed. But the call quality may be a hardware issue. I don’t know if it’s a hardware issue specific to my phone or something related to the PinePhonePro on the Telstra network.

Clicking on notification in the drop-down doesn’t take me to the app. I don’t know if this is regarded as a bug by the Plasma-Mobile developers. Also notifications aren’t displayed on the lock screen and there doesn’t seem to be a configuration option to enable this.

The Plasma-Mobile configuration for the wifi hotspot is difficult. There is no button for it in the drop-down menu (called Quicksettings in Plasma-Mobile) and no way of easily determining whether it’s in hotspot or wifi client mode. This isn’t an insurmountable problem and the worst-case is that I could write a script to do it, but it’s still annoying.

There is apparent support in the desktop version of KDE for syncing contacts from Google and I could probably get that working (although I failed last time I tried on the desktop), but it is a pain.


Most of the problems are software related and therefore I can get involved in solving them. I plan to keep working on these things. If all the software had worked in an ideal manner then I would have spent more time investigating the hardware issues of battery life and charge time and the quality of calls.

I now have my Librem5 [4] running Debian so I will be able to compare call quality with the PinePhonePro. If I’m unable to get the PinePhonePro working adequately then maybe making the Librem5 my main phone will be an option.

I hope that by early next year I will be able to make another test at using a FOSS phone my main phone. In the mean time I can still work on convergence and other things.

Links September 2023

Interesting article in Wired about adversarial attacks on ML systems to get them to do things that they are explicitely programmed not to do such as describe how to make illegal drugs [1]. The most interesting part of this is that the attacks work on most GPT systems which is probably due to the similar data used to train them.

Vice has an interesting article about the Danish “Synthetic Party”, a political partyled by an AI [2]. Citizens can vote for candidates who will try to get laws passed that match the AI generated goals, there is no option of voting for an AI character. The policies they are advocating for are designed to appeal to the 20% of Danes who don’t vote. They are also trying to inspire similar parties in other countries. I think this has the potential to improve democracy.

Vice reports that in 2021 a man tried to assasinate the Queen of England with inspiration from Star Wars and an AI chat bot [3]. While someone who wants to be a real-life Sith is probably going to end up doing something bad we still don’t want to have chat bots encourage it.

Bruce Schneier wrote an interesting article about milestones for AI involvement in the political process [4].

Sam Varghese wrote an interesting article about the allegations that India is following the example of Saudi Arabia and assasinating people in other countries who disagree with their government [5]. We need to stop this.

Ian Jackson wrote an interesting blog post advocating that DKIM PRIVATE keys be rotated and PUBLISHED [6]. The idea is that if a hostile party gets access to the mailbox of someone who received private email from you then in the normal DKIM setup of keys never changing they can prove that the email is authentic when they leak it. While if you mail server publishes the old keys as Ian advocates then the hostile party can’t prove that you sent the email in question as anyone could have forged a signature. Anything that involves publishing a private key gets an immediate negative reaction but I can’t fault the logic here.

Choosing Exclusion

There is an article The Inappropriately Excluded by the Polymath Archives [1] that gets cited a lot. Mainly by Mensa types who think that their lack of success is due to being too smart.

The Main Claim is Wrong

The main claim is:
The probability of entering and remaining in an intellectually elite profession such as Physician, Judge, Professor, Scientist, Corporate Executive, etc. increases with IQ to about 133. It then falls by about 1/3 at 140. By 150 IQ the probability has fallen from its peak by 97%!

The first thing to consider is whether taking those professions is a smart thing to do. These are the types of jobs that a school career adviser would tell you are good choices for well paying jobs, but really there’s lots of professional positions that get similar pay with less demanding work. Physicians have to deal with people who are sick and patients who die – including cases where the physician needs to make a recommendation on incomplete information where the wrong choice will result in serious injury or death, there are significant benefits to being a medical researcher or doing biological engineering. Being a Judge has a high public profile and has a reasonable amount of pressure, good for status but you can probably earn more money with less work as a corporate lawyer. Being a professor is a position that is respected but which in many countries is very poorly paid. In a mid-size company executives probably get about $300k compared to $220k for middle managers and $100k-$180k for senior professional roles in the same company.

There has been research on how much happyness is increased by having more money, here is one from CBS saying that income up to $500K can increase happiness[2] which contradicts previous research suggesting that income over $75K didn’t provide much benefit. I think that part of this is determined by the conditions that you live in, if you live in a country like Australia with cheap healthcare then you won’t feel as great a need to hoard money. Another part is whether you feel obliged to compete with other people for financial status, if driving an old car of a non-prestige brand while my neighbours have new BMWs concerned me then I might desire an executive position.

I think that the smart thing to do is to get work that is relatively enjoyable, pays enough for all the essentials and some reasonable luxury, and doesn’t require excessive effort or long hours. Unless you have a great need for attention from other people then for every job with a high profile there will be several with similar salaries but less attention.

The main point of the article is that people with high IQs all want to reach the pinnacle of their career path and don’t do so because they are excluded. It doesn’t consider the possibility that smart people might have chosen the option that’s best for them. For example I’ve seen what my manager and the CIO of my company do and it doesn’t look like fun for me. I’m happy to have them earn more than me as compensation for doing things I don’t want to do.

Why is This Happening?

This section of the article starts with “Because of the dearth of objective evidence, the cause of the exclusion cannot be determined directly” which is possibly where they should have given up. Also I could have concluded this blog post with “I’m not excluded from this list of jobs that suck”, but I will continue listing problems with the article.

One claim in the article is:
Garth Zietsman has said, referring to people with D15IQs over 152, ‘A common experience with people in this category or higher is that they are not wanted – the masses (including the professional classes) find them an affront of some sort.’

The question I have is whether it’s being smart or being a jerk that “the masses” find to be an affront, I’m guessing the latter. I don’t recall seeing evidence outside high school of people inherently disliking smarter people.

The article claims that “We have no reason to conclude that this upper limit on IQ differences changes in adulthood“. Schools don’t cater well to smart kids and it isn’t good for kids to have no intellectual peers. One benefit I’ve found in the Free Software community is that there are a lot of smart people.

Regarding leadership it claims “D.K. Simonton found that persuasiveness is at its maximum when the IQ differential between speaker and audience is about 20 points“. A good counter example is Julius Sumner Miller who successfully combined science education and advertising for children’s chocolate [3]. Maybe being a little smarter than other people makes it more difficult to communicate with them but being as smart as Julius Sumner Miller can outweigh that. The article goes on to claim that the intellectual elites have an average IQ of 125 because they have to convince people who have an average IQ of 105. I think that if that 20 point difference was really a thing then you would have politicians with an IQ of 125 appointing leaders of the public service with an IQ of 145 who would then hire scientific advisers with an IQ of 165. In a corporate environment a CEO with an IQ of 125 could hire a CIO with an IQ of 145 who could then hire IT staff with an IQ of 165. If people with 165 IQs wanted to be Prime Minister or CEO that might suck for them, but if they wanted to have the most senior technical roles in public service or corporations then it would work out well. For the work I do I almost never speak to a CEO and rarely speak to anyone who regularly speaks to them, if CEOs don’t like me and won’t hire people like me then it doesn’t matter to me as I won’t meet them.

Inappropriate Educational Options

The section on “Inappropriate Educational Options” is one where I almost agree with the author. I say almost because I don’t think that schools are good for anyone. Yes schools have some particular problems for smart kids, but they also have serious problems for kids who are below average IQ, kids who have problems at home, kids who are disabled, etc. Most schools fail so many groups of kids in so many ways that the overall culture of schools can’t be functional.

Social Isolation

The section on “Social Isolation” is another where I almost agree with the author. But as with schools I think that society overall is poorly structured to support people such that people on the entire range of IQs have more difficulty in finding friends and relationships than they should. One easy change to make would be to increase the minimum wage such that one minimum wage job can support a family without working more than 35 hours a week and to set the maximum work week to something less than 40 hours Atlassian has a good blog post about the data on working weeks [4]. Wired has an article suggesting that 5 hours a day is an ideal work time for some jobs [5].

We also need improvements in public transport and city design to have less wasted time and better options for socialising.


The blogspot site hosting the article in question also has a very complex plan for funding a magazine for such articles [6]. The problems with that funding model start with selling “advertising” that converts to shares in a Turks & Caicos company in an attempt to circumvent securities regulations (things don’t work that way). Then it goes in to some complex formulas for where money will go. This isn’t the smart way to start a company, the smart way is to run a kickstarter with fixed rewards for specific amounts of contributions and then possibly have an offer of profit sharing with people who donate extra or something. As a general rule when doing something that’s new to you it’s a good idea to look at how others have succeeded at it in the past. Devising an experimental new way of doing something is best reserved to people who have some experience withe the more common methods.

Mentioning this may seem like an ad hominem attack, but I think it’s relevant to consider this in the context of people who score well in IQ tests but don’t do so well in other things. Maybe someone who didn’t think that they were a lot smarter than everyone else would have tried to launch a magazine in a more common way and actually had some success at it.

In a more general sense I think that people who believe that they are suffering because of being too smart are in a similar category as incels. It’s more of a psychological problem than anything else and one that they could solve for themselves.