Consider artistic obscenity. Even the United States’ famously permissive free speech laws have vague, ominous carve-outs where speech can be disallowed for things such as affronting “contemporary community standards” You can look up guys like Mike Diana and Peter Sotos in your own time. Suffice to say, are people who have gone to prison for lines on paper.
This, in the words of John Locke, is “a bummer, man.” Why can’t we stop it? Nobody wants to live in a world where art is criminalized. You can almost hear the clocks striking thirteen. This should be the sort of thing that attracts huge public support.
There’s one problem: you’ll be waving picket signs alongside pedophiles.
Child pornographers consider their work to be art. Or even if they don’t, that’s their cover story. I don’t have any particular opinion on whether child pornography should be considered free expression (yes I do!), but this is a burr in the saddle of the radical free speechist: his position puts him in confederacy with some of the most reviled (and Savile’d) people on earth. Remember when someone launched voat as an “anything goes” competitor to reddit? And they were naive enough to think that reddit limited speech because they were mean old jerks? Then they lost their Paypal account due to all the pedophiles using the site. The gay rights movement had/has a similar problem – pedophiles hijacking “free love” for their own NAMBLAtastic ends.
I feel like a lot of groups end up with this problem.
Punk rock. “Fuck the system, burn it all down” = a pheremone for Nazis.
Men’s rights activism. “Stop screwing men in court” = a pheremone for rapists and domestic abusers.
Communism, of course, is a pheremone for communists.
It’s ubiquitous, and unavoidable. Any public stance other than “pie is good” will attract some element of socially undesirable people to your side, and this is the sort of thing that can permanently discredit your cause. Years ago, there was a “anti-speutering” movement, which opposed the spaying/neutering of dogs over health concerns. Were they a well-intentioned group at the start? We’ll never know, because, zoophiles require intact animals for their purposes, and soon this movement became a rallying cry for people who want to fuck their housepets. For example, James Greathouse. “I advocate close, even sexual, relationships between human and non-human animals, so long as they are honest, mutually enjoyed acts of love.” Now, nobody really remembers them for anything else.
This is kind of why I feel like there should be a pro rapist lobby, and a pro pedophile lobby, and a pro-Cthulhu lobby. Why? Because it might keep jerks safely isolated away from all the sane groups. Forget inclusion. Sometimes you just need quarantine.
There was a journalist called Malcolm Muggeridge, whose parents belonged to a commune of socialists. One day, in a fit of working class spirit, they tore apart the deeds to their property. No chains on me! Viva la revolution! Unfortunately, this noble gesture soon meant that squatters started settling on their land, and they now lacked the means to remove them. Excess freeloaders made the project unworkable, and eventually they ended up resorting to capitalistic oppression (throwing the squatters out by force).
Bat signals are great for attracting Batman. Unfortunately, in real life they usually just attract actual bats.
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Imagine you have a friend who tells you a joke about their prolapsed rectum. You laugh. It was sort of funny, and also they’re your friend. Their eyes light up, and the next day they come back with an entire notebook full of prolapsed rectum jokes, and the expectation that you will listen to and enjoy all of them. At what point do you stop laughing? At one point do you say “look, I’m at saturation point. Enough about your stupid rectum. I liked the first one but I don’t want to hear them for infinity.”
This is how I feel about Sabaton.
It’s a mistake to think this band makes music. That would be like saying Adam Sandler makes movies. This project is just Joakim Broden, pulling a lever over and over and over, until his fucking hand falls off. It’s cynical. It’s formulaic. It’s artless. And it’s all our fault. We rewarded laughed along with the joke once, and now we get to listen to Sabaton forever.
You know what’s coming. The Last Stand is another plastic collection of charmless Nuclear Blast Metal, filled with horrible forced-catchy singalong choruses, and the band buried underneath a mountain of choirs and keyboards. If you’re wearing a Pewdiepie shirt and need a score for your next gaming marathon, go and make your day. If you have a brain in your head, you’ll hate this with every fiber of your being.
This album has some of the worst choruses I’ve ever heard – we’re talking Dream Evil shitty. Lead-off song “Sparta” has Broden singing (which is obviously a Platonic bad idea) and a stupid “HOO-HA” gang shout that gives me douche chills. Several songs like “Rorke’s Drift” and “Hill 3234″ don’t even have chorus melodies, just Broden belting some lines in that staccato manner of his (nice to see Sabaton writing double-bass songs, though). “The Last Battle” is just irritating AOR gloop. Battle Beast does this better. Battle Beast does everything Sabaton does better.
The production is slick and clean. The songs are hobbled around the three minute mark. The album is short, and padded with bonus tracks nobody gives half a fuck about. The military theme is hampered by the fact that they’re running out of good battles to write about: on their next album they’ll be down to writing about the time Gene LeBell choked out Steven Seagal and made him shit his pants.
This review is dogshit, but there’s just so little to talk about. It feels like trying to analyse elevator music. Listening to The Last Stand just makes me feel sad and empty. The music’s a nonevent, but did they have to steal Tommy Johansson? Forget getting a new Reinxeed album any time soon.
The Last Stand will keep Sabaton on the festival circuit a little while longer, and all the critics listen to a few songs then copy+paste their “7/10, gives the fans what they want” review from the last album, and meanwhile, the genre keeps spinning its wheels. Power metal isn’t a magical unicorn. It’s a rotting donkey carcass with a novelty dildo glued to its head, and every day, the stench becomes harder and harder to disguise. There’s going to be a shakeup soon. This is exactly the sort of stagnation that led to the overthrow of metal by grunge rock in the 90s. Until then, enjoy the rectum jokes.
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Is “Who is ‘Nobody’?” a reasonable answer, Mr Trebek? Genres of popular fiction usually evolve like animals – very slowly, in increments. Elizabethan theatre becoming romantic fiction, romantic becoming gothic, gothic becoming horror, etc, each one marked by a poorly-defended border with lots of works escaping on either side.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is often cited as the first one. The hero is a scientist, he uses a laboratory, he has to deal with the ramifications of his actions. It’s the archetype of the “monkey brain + futuristic tools + disaster” story.
There’s earlier works that I’d consider science fiction. But how earlier?
Various ancient works sometimes get “grandfathered in” as SF or proto-SF: similar to how Los Sarcos is an incongruous punk rock band ten years before the genre existed. Ezekiel 1:16 in the Bible is sometimes interpreted as a UFO visitation, largely due to the imagery of crystalline, intersecting wheels:
“This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel”
The Hindu text The Mahabharata contains vivid descriptions that adumbrate nuclear war.
“Gurkha, flying a swift and powerful vimana / hurled a single projectile / charged with the power of the Universe / An incandescent column of smoke and flame, / as bright as ten thousand suns, rose with all its splendour. / It was an unknown weapon, / an iron thunderbolt, / a gigantic messenger of death, / which reduced to ashes / the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas. / The corpses were so burned /
as to be unrecognizable. / Hair and nails fell out; / Pottery broke without apparent cause, / and the birds turned white. / …After a few hours / all foodstuffs were infected… / …to escape from this fire / the soldiers threw themselves in streams”
The last part is striking – it reminds me of the firebombing of Tokyo, where the air grew so hot that people threw themselves into the canals.
More recent examples include Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), particularly the third book (which was actually the one written first). Gulliver journeys to the floating island of Laputia, and various other places. He meets learned men who busy themselves with strange tinkering and experiments, eg:
“At the Grand Academy of Lagado, great resources and manpower are employed on researching completely preposterous schemes such as extracting sunbeams from cucumbers, softening marble for use in pillows, learning how to mix paint by smell, and uncovering political conspiracies by examining the excrement of suspicious persons”
Swift is obviously making fun of scientists here, but I’ve always thought scientists in books are too dignified and successful – fuck Jubal Harshaw, we need more works starring Dr Oz.
The earliest work I know of with an unambiguous ring of SF is Voyage to the Moon (1657) by Cyrano de Bergerac. The hero eventually reaches the moon via fireworks, but the interesting part is in chapter 2, where he creates some sort of apparatus or carriage powered by the sun.
“I planted my self in the middle of a great many Glasses full of Dew, tied fast about me; 6 upon which the Sun so violently darted his Rays, that the Heat, which attracted them, as it does the thickest Clouds, carried me up so high, that at length I found my self above the middle Region of the Air. But seeing that Attraction hurried me up with so much rapidity that instead of drawing near the Moon, as I intended, she seem’d to me to be more distant than at my first setting out; I broke several of my Vials, until I found my weight exceed the force of the Attraction, and that I began to descend again towards the Earth.”
May all our journeys into space have that ending.
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Humans, as viewing agents, experience something called “perspective.” Close things look big, and distant things look small. If you don’t understand, get someone to whack you across the face with a baseball bat. The part where the bat looks big is bad.
In my childhood, I had moments where these lanes got scrambled: close things would sometimes look small and distant things would look big. Dust motes would momentarily seem like passing asteroids. Apparently I was suffering from Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. I had a mild case. Other people experience terrifying feelings with regard to their own bodies: their tongues will swell up in their mouths, grotesquely huge, threatening to burst past their lips like a slippery red anaconda. Or they’ll look down, to see a massive body balanced precariously on feet the size of thimbles. I’ve since recovered from that, but now suffer from Alice Through the Looking Glass Syndrome, which is where everyone ignores me for my more interesting and famous father.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is an illusion. But of course, normal perspective is an illusion, too. The baseball bat stays exactly the same size – it only appears bigger because it’s reflecting more photons into your retinas. It might seem scarier, and not unreasonably – a close-up baseball bat has more potential to harm you than one across the room: but it’s objectively still the same bat.
Chronology follows a similar kind of perspective: time gets bigger or smaller depending on how close it is. The day before and after this one are massive: I can remember lots of stuff I did yesterday, and can predict lots of stuff I will probably do tomorrow. Today is the biggest day of all. But further away, the days drastically resize, until eventually they’re invisibly small. I struggle to remember ten days ago. A hundred days ago I remember not at all. What’s the difference between the 1st of March, 663AD and the 2nd of March, 663AD? From my perspective, nothing. From the perspective of someone who lived on those two days, everything.
(Do people suffer from a chronological Alice in Wonderland Syndrome? Some old people have strong memories of events that happened years ago, but can’t remember yesterday. I’ve heard Catholic women say they strongly identify with Mary the Blessed Virgin, and feel more connected to her struggles than to those of their friends.)
Everyone understands that spatial perspective isn’t a real thing, independent of an observer. I wish more people would realise the same thing about time: that all days are exactly 24 hours long, and the events of one are not more important than the events of any other, except insofar as they affect our lives. You can make money when you see through the illusion.
Brian Caplan is an economist who likes to make bets. That sounds reasonable: even required. An economist who doesn’t make bets would be like a chaos theorist who does. The interest thing is…he wins all his bets. Code red, something isn’t right. Isn’t economics supposed to be a stupid black box that nobody understands? (“Economists were created to make weather forecasters look good.” – Rupert Murdoch)
Some are accusing him of “bum-hunting” – only making bets against crackpots with ridiculous viewpoints. Kind of like a boxer building a perfect record by beating up 10 year olds. But he wins even when he bets against intelligent people, like Tyler Cowen. Caplan insists that his “secret sauce” is refusing to privilege the short term.
“I take the “outside view.” When predicting, I start with long-run averages, and presume the “latest news” is distracting trivia. For example, when I made my unemployment bet with Tyler, I looked at all the unemployment data for 1948 to the present, and assumed the future would resemble the past. As usual, it did.”
In other words, the news is the enemy. To understand the world, you’ve got to zoom back from the distraction of recent events, and adjust all days to the same size. I’ve always noticed this, although I didn’t know how to put it. People complain about how America is a police state, and as soon as a shocking crime occurs, the cry becomes “WE NEED MORE COPS!!!”
I guess there’s practical consequences to treating the recent past and recent future (oxymoron) as more important, just as you might spend more time keeping in contact with geographically close relatives. It makes your life easier. But there’s more to life than making it easy – sometimes you need to understand things.
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To begin, find a source of static. Static is everywhere. To look is to find.
The sanity wallpapering the world is thin and grows thinner every day. Everywhere there are little holes where order has broken down. So put an eye or ear to a hole and witness the storm gathering beyond. Turn the static up as loud as you can endure and listen.
The hive is listening back. The thing. The space in the middle. The forgotten. The overlooked. The nameless, constantly grasping towards a name and a shape. And above all, a home.
You might find you like static. You might find you like chaos. That means the hive is building its home in you.
[$0.99. Have posted some already. Might post more.]
A massive gray glacier, moving slowly while pulverising everything.
Every day, Jules felt the creeping pressure of the glacier. The soreness in his muscles after a soccer game took three days to fade instead of two. Every glance in the mirror revealed a new gray hair and a new line on his face. All of his faculties were in decline. He guessed his eyesight would be the first to go. Already, he was having trouble reading books, which was a shame, because the one he was working on was damned interesting.
He’d found the book at the library, a tiny volume of only ten pages. No title. No author. He’d taken it to the counter, only to be told that that it did not exist in the library’s system.
“Can I keep it?” He felt tugging pity for the little lost dog of a book.
“If you like.”
He’d opened it up on the bus and found that the volume’s slim length was still greatly deceiving. The majority of the pages were blank. Only one had writing on it.
It was just a single long run-on thought that smothered the page in dark ink.
A RIVER OF SILVER FISH, EACH WITH A MAN’S FACE. A MEADOW OF BLUEBELLS, SUMMER FLOWERING, WINTER CRYING. A PLACID SEA OF TOMORROW, FED BY A BABBLING STREAM OF YESTERDAY.
He struggled through the entire page, feeling like a man wading waist-deep through treacle. The words were very close together. It verged on being unreadable. Sometimes, his brain would mistakenly join two words together, like Siamese twins. Other times, his brain would mistakenly separate a single perfectly good word, like Solomon’s baby.
Then at the end of the page, the writing stopped abruptly, seemingly in the middle of a word.
A WAND AND A CUP OF PROVIDENCE, SPITTING AND EXTRUDING DAMNATI
Or did it really stop? Did the story continue somewhere else? He had page 1. Was there some other library, perhaps in this town, perhaps on another continent, that held page 2? And still another that had page 3?
The bus shuddered to a stop. Unease had settled over him like the shadow of a preying bird. Jules knew he was missing something. Something very obvious.
- Sample from “Book”
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Donald Duck chops down a tree. Pluto goes for a swim at the beach. Most Disney shorts sound like absolutely nothing when you describe them. But when you see those bare vapours animated at 24 frames per second in bright Technicolor, something incredible happens. The Disney magic emerges, like a Golem shambling from mud (Walt wasn’t crazy about Jews, so a very goyish Golem). No piston does much on its own, but put four of them together and they move a car.
Kami no Kodomo “Child of God” is a manga that achieves extreme effects with simple ingredients: in this case, a simple Kafka-esque monologue from a serial killer. It was written and illustrated by Nishioka Kyoudai a brother-sister manga team who sometimes write as “Nishioka Brosis”.
This is pretty underground. Their art is so stylised it’s barely recognisable as manga: it looks like Klasky-Csupo mixed with Picasso and spliced with dangerous recessive genes from that “Worker and Parasite” short that was on the Simpsons. I think I will credit Nishioka Brosis as inventors of a new style: Worker and Parasite Manga.
The narrative a little confusing. At times it’s surrealist nonsense (the story begins with the protagonist being born from a woman’s asshole), at other times a cohesive and naturalistic plot unfolds. Kami no Kodomo is a little like ice at that critical moment when it starts to freeze: hard parts bobbing awkwardly in yielding water. I think this is an intentional effect, with parallels to Bret Easton Ellis’s America Psycho, where you start to wonder at the end whether the whole thing isn’t a bunch of crazy fantasies.
The main character grows up (I forget if he has a name), and goes to school. He’s pretty different. Is he even a he? The art style forces androgyny on everyone. Soon he gets to partake in a few crimes, both as onlooker and participant, and sort of falls into the habit of killing people. It’s like scratching an itch.
He attracts followers, all of which are sorta-maybe-pseudoboys, and they start their own little Manson family. There’s a homoerotic subtext at first, and soon it’s more of a supertext – tons of gay sex decorates the margins of the mass murders. The final few chapters of Kami no Kodomo are consumed by a tragic love arc worthy of a yaoi fanfic: I’d complain that it was out of place in the story, but that would require me to specify exactly what would be in place…
The manga is fascinatingly dark, and carries a real sense of shock and revulsion. Serial killers are usually boring, both in fiction and real life. This one isn’t, and not through any obvious gimmicks except the oldest one in the book: unity of effect. You can make a Golem from mud, but in case you don’t have the time or inclination, Nishioka Brosis have provided one ready-made.
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Internet marketers have infested the internet for so long that they’re part of the ecosystem. They’re like your brother who keeps trying to cadge rent money and sell you loosies. You don’t exactly like him, but the idea of him gone…
We’re now entering a world where all that shit is just no longer viable. Aaron Wall says it here. The internet is changing, consolidating, and getting harder and harder for little guys. Once, you could register a new domain, spend zero money, and actually rank on Google for stuff. These days, you can sink five figures into a website and attract a number of organic searches closely bounded around “zero”. Search Engine Optimisation was always a bit mysterious. Nobody knew the algorithm by which Google ranked Site A above Site B – but at least we had some decent guesses. Now? It’s fucking impossible.
The three benefits of the internet (from a marketer’s perspective) were: 1) speed, 2) little overhead, 3) potentially viral transmission of messages. All those things come with strings attached. The “speed” aspect means that conditions change too rapidly to be predicted. Having long term plans is impossible, and any success is transient and can vanish overnight. A tailwind that can take you around the world can also sink your ship.
Remember EZineArticles and eHow? It’s been a while since you’ve heard of those sites, hasn’t it? Back when they were ranking on Google, online marketers would write hundreds of spammy articles for those sites, and use the traffic to drive subscribers to their personal lists. Then Google rolled out Panda in 2011, summarily delisted the article farms, and countless online marketers had their income streams obliterated overnight. I still remember the long night of sorrows on the Warrior Forums. One guy actually ended up destitute and selling his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure collection to survive. No kidding.
2) The internet has less overhead, but that means nobody has much of a motive to make things favourable for you or your company. Paying customers get respect. Tire-kickers get shown the door. Anyone who’s ever lost a social media account understands this. Hell, back in the day you could click a copyright claim button on a Youtube video, the video would get taken down with no questions asked, and it would be up to the VIDEO MAKER to prove their innocence! Maybe it’s still that way, for all I know. Unless you’re the guy writing the checks, you’re a shnook.
Is virality on the internet still a thing? This is a much misunderstood term. Virality implies a classic “R > 1″ model where content is passed ad-hoc from user to user, gaining strength as it spreads. This does NOT describe the majority of “viral content” on the internet. The main way content gets spread is by famous people sharing it with their followers (there was a study on this, I think). Your best case scenario isn’t “my content will spread like an unstoppable virus!” Think “Ricky Gervais will share my stuff with his 12 million twitter followers!” Yeah, it’s not virality so much as finding someone with a megaphone to shout about your stuff…just like the traditional media the internet was supposed to replace. New boss! Same as the old boss!
Internet marketing itself is a hat with no rabbit. They promote themselves as freewheeling entrepeneurs, brave mavericks thumbing their nose at the nine to five workaday world. In reality, they’re more like hackers. They lucked their way into a glitch in the Matrix, and have earned a pitiful, transient source of income that might vanish at any time…and that time is now. SEO was a glitch. Glitches get fixed. And if there are a few cockroaches hiding inside them, too bad.
Obviously, IMers have to look like paragons of wealth and success to their followers (“fake it till you make it!”), so I doubt you’ll see many of them admit that their cash flow has disappeared. And it’s safe to say that 90% of “make money on the internet” guides should be retitled “stuff that kinda worked back in 2007″.
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Running Wild is known as “that band with pirate-themed lyrics”, but that’s the least interesting thing about them. One of the early German power metal bands, they’re a striking case of musical taxidermy. They got their sound figured out in 1986, or dunked it in a tank of preservatives, and thirty years later they’re still playing it. No new ideas allowed!
No other band has hewn to a sound this hard or this long. Helloween went through a Beatles period. Accept went through a hair metal period. Rage has played every single metal genre under the sun. But Running Wild now has a streak of thirteen albums that, on a sonic level, all pretty much sound the same. When Otto the school bus driver complains about bands ripping off Priest, this is the one he’s talking about.
Sadly, the quality level started dropping around 1995 or so. You can only photocopy your ass cheeks so many times before the printouts get all faded and weak, and that seems to be happening to Running Wild. Depending on who you ask, 2000′s Victory is either “the last vaguely good album” or “the first legitimately bad one.”
Myself, I like it. It lacks the epic, exploratory quality of their early 90s work, but it’s has a disciplined, martial aesthetic. The songs are short, punchy, and to the point, like parade drills. Part of it is songwriting. Part of it is the ultra-mechanical production, bolstered by a drum machine (Rolf Kasparek had the chutzpah to claim that the drumming was a friend who didn’t want to be credited).
Obviously there’s enough filler for a Tempurpedic mattress. I don’t know if I needed a Beatles cover. “The Fall of Dorkas”, “Silent Killer”, “Into the Fire”…boring, boring, boring. Running Wild has a unique talent for writing songs that induce narcolepsy without actually coming off as bad, and that side of the band is on full display here.
But I don’t care, because there’s enough highlights to wake you back up again. “When Time Runs Out” has an evocative main lead melody that reminds me of “Rock Hard, Ride Free”. “Return of the Gods” could be titled “Return of the Goods”.
The album’s two greatest cuts are “Hussar”, taking us from the Spanish main to a couple hundred miles inland, and “Victory”, where Rolf Kasparek displays his penchant for snaking, pentatonic alt-picking. Running Wild has an interesting conflict at its heart: they are generic as they come and unapologetic 80s revivalists, but they have a singular sound that’s entirely their own – nobody writes riffs like Running Wild, unless they’re trying to sound like Running Wild (and usually not even then.)
Don’t let a Beatles cover and a nonexistent drummer put you off. This is unequivocally one for the “good RW” table, and it’s not seated at the foot, either.
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The Matrix, unlike Keanu Reeves, hasn’t aged well. It wants to be both timeless and futuristic, but that’s impossible, and now it comes off as steampunk: a comical chiaroscuro of old and new. Hackers who share files using compact discs. People who “jack in” using public phone booths. It’s as if a 1997 college kid and a post-singularity wireheader got into a head-on collision and their possessions got mixed together as they were strewn over the highway.
For a while, people joked that we actually do live in the Matrix, and the dwindling numbers of phone booths means Machine City is finally catching on to our means of escape. Imagine it were so. Imagine being a redpilled human inside the Matrix, and knowing that your only escape rests in your masters leaving the door open. No glorious Colditzian escapes. If you want out of the Matrix, you must rely on the most ignoble method of victory imaginable: the enemy making a mistake.
Welcome to internet marketing, where there are fewer phone booths by the day.
When the internet appeared, so did new opportunities to make money. This was not a goose that laid golden eggs. You need products to sell, or services to sell, and most people have neither. “Get rich quick” will never exist on the internet, and for most people, neither will “get rich slow.” Very few people are capable of functioning as entrepeneurs, online or off, even a matter Even if you have a marketable skill, . Someone selling novelty keychains on eBay might make money, but he’s never going to scale that into “fuck you” money.
But you know what does scale? Infoproducts. Get rich quick. It wasn’t the gold miners who made the money during the Yukon gold rush, it was suppliers, the people who made the shovels, the pickaxes, the dynamite. There was only so much gold in the ground, far less than the number of poor schmucks looking for gold. Likewise, it’s been well known for years that the easiest way to get rich from a self-help book is to write one.
Corporate America’s informercial culture soon invaded the internet, flooding the internet with sales pages for shoddy ebooks promising secrets to fantastic wealth and success. A man called Frank Irwin Kern was one of the early ones: his Instant Internet Empires product cost $47.77, and he promised that buyers could make more than $115,000 a year. How? Well, that’s the trick. You were actually buying the right to re-sell the Instant Internet Empires product. To achieve the promised $115,000 year, you’d have to sell the product to 2,400 people. The third generation of the scheme would need to sell the product to 13,829,760,000 people to each make $115,000. This isn’t a pyramid scheme. It’s a four-dimensional hypertetrahedron.
This stuff has been infesting the internet for years, and it’s as much a part of online mythos as the tone of a dialling modem. It’s the fuel of every sales letter (“Are you SURE you want to close this page and miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime?”), the accelerant of every spam email, the catalyst of every Craigslist Herbalife “job opportunity”. Kern was smacked down with an FTC judgement. He had disciples eager to replace him.
And it’s all a glitch in the Matrix. No more phone booths.
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“This comment section is the high-achieving son of Silver Blaze. It’s not as long, but it’s attracting equally crazy people. Hopefully we’ll get some more Nazis showing up, there’s been disappointingly few this time around.
The argument I keep hearing is that we can fix humanity’s problem du jour…by breeding our way out of it.
Essentially, that the Arab world could get back on track by banning cousin marriage, or importing European/Chinese women. That we could make Western women have children again by axing the welfare state (or whatever the argument is. Coherency is a good thing, guys. Clarity of thought, too). I see this idea everywhere on this blog. “Breeding got us into this mess, and breeding will get us out!”
But selection is very slow.
A eugenic solution would take decades or hundreds of years (if it works). Evolution is faster than Gould believed, but it’s absolutely NOT a solution to any short term geopolitical or demographic issue. You might as well propose a solution to the PNG/Indonesia border dispute that relies on continental drift. I don’t plan on living that long. Do you?
Furthermore, where are the examples of planned, controlled eugenics actually working? What cultures in human history have consciously said “hey, we’re selecting ourselves for something bad, let’s turn this around and select for something good…” and succeeded?
Yes, we’ve accidentally selected ourselves for various things. But every attempt I’ve seen to “put chlorine in the gene pool” (as a friend says) has turned into a horrifying clownfuck of a disaster. Egypt’s dynasties wed brother to sister to preserve the royal bloodline – they got King Tut. The Habsburgs let recessive alleles pile up until they looked like Halloween masks. In 1934, Germany’s schizophrenia rate was 2.0 per 1000. The Nazis came to power and sterilized and/or killed nearly every schizophrenic in the country. Forty years later, Germany’s schizophrenia rate was re-tested. 1.5. D’oh!.
I’m able to take a lesson: we are not good at doing this.
A third fly in the ointment: do we really have much time left? I’m not some hardcore lesswrongfag who thinks the Singularity’s five minutes away, but the 10,000 year explosion never stopped happening, and soon accelerating technology (CRSPR/Cas, etc) might make the process of breeding obsolete. There’s no reason to rely on traditional methods for creating smart people. Greg has some ideas here. Or perhaps you want to get on Stephen Hsu’s crazy train. What’s the point of shuffling around recombinant DNA in the hopes lucking into a few IQ points when we could isolate all the variants involved in higher IQ, and then stack the deck? Are we really sure this won’t happen in the next hundred years or so (a paltry 3-4 generations away?)
We spend lots of time kicking around nurturists. Ironically, this might be an area where they have us by the balls. If you want to fix any kind of short term disaster hanging over our heads, it HAS to be through environmental measures. Selection just doesn’t work fast enough.
What if no environmental measures are possible? What if we’re just screwed?
Well, has anyone seen Star Trek: TNG, specifically “The Lower Decks”? Worf challenges Sito Jaxa to pass an ancient Klingon test. He blindfolds her, and they spar. She gropes in the dark, while he pummels her defenseless body. It’s hopeless. How can you fight a person you can’t see?
Eventually, Sito gets frustrated, pulls off the blindfold, and refuses to fight any more. Worf tells her she’s passed the test.”
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