Midas Hear

- 22/10/16 News

clipboard01Music is a form of art, and although there are many ways to define art, one definition is “intentional specialness”. We live in a universe ruled by randomness and chaos, and things that aren’t chaotic (meaning they have elements of planning, intention, predictability, uniqueness, etc underpinning them) register in our minds as interesting.

Put another way: the universe is a random series of numbers (1, 4, 2, 7, 9, 3, 6, 4, 1, 2) while art is a non-random series (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4).

Art is a man-made island of reason in an ocean of stochastic chaos. Even works of art that seem chaotic (like a Jackson Pollock painting) have “intentionality” behind them. Pollock wants his paintings to look that way. It’s not an accident.

Listen to the sounds around you. Bird chirps. The humming of an air conditioner. A passing car. All of it’s just a boring canvas of random noise. But then, consider music: a series of frequencies carefully arranged in time by a composer. A steady beat. A steady rhythm. An E superimposed over a C# to create a sad minor third. A submediant (VI) resolving back to the tonic (I). All of it planned, all of it deliberate.

The power of music isn’t that it sounds pleasant (noise rock, death metal, etc). It’s that it’s special!

So why does music sound empty to you?

Assuming your brain is neurologically undamaged, my guess is that you’ve listened to so much of it that the “specialness” has gone away. That it’s been a part of your life for so long that your brain has totally habituated to it and you no longer perceive it as distinct or different to the rest of the background noise in the world.

William S Burroughs said that the new addicts shoot smack to feel good, while old addicts shoot smack to feel normal. And eventually you stop feeling anything at all.

We rely on specialness to give our lives meaning, but it’s short lived and easily destroyed. The first act of sexual intercourse on a movie screen was a transgressive, outrageous statement. The 2,436,734th act of sexual intercourse was just lazy button-pushing.

But people still keep trying. Much of our lives are spent shuffling around in the dark, trying to recapture the ghost of specialness that was exorcised long ago.


The lone and level sands stretch far away…

- 17/10/16 News

200px-maddoxtacomaPercy Shelley’s “Ozymandias” is usually interpreted as a poem about the decay of empires, and the inbound annihilation of the present. But there are other interpretations.

An internet celebrity would probably read the poem and think Ozymandias had it easy. He lost his empire, but at least he left behind two trunkless legs of stone and an inscription. A Vine star can disappear entirely. There are no low and level sands: the internet in 2016 is more like an ocean of quicksand in 9-magnitude earthquake riding a subducting tectonic plate straight into the asthenosphere. Changing trends, changing media, nobody having any clear idea what works and what doesn’t…Fame achieved on the internet is only slightly longer-lasting than fame achieved by starring in an ISIS beheading video.

Time for my quarterly Maddox check-in. Yep, still alive.

I’ve written before about how I obsessively check everyone I’ve ever heard of to make sure they haven’t died. In Maddox’s case, I check to make sure he hasn’t committed suicide. He just seems like he’s on that road. He updates his website with bitter rants with zero jokes. He alienates friends and business partners. He actively repudiates much of his early writings – you get the vibe of an aging musician insulting the hits that brought him fame. His last book failed. His next one will probably do the same. Everything I see from him depresses me.

When I first found him in 2004, he was at the top of his game. He had a hilarious shtick (which I’d describe as “smart person pretending to be stupid person pretending to be a smart person”…read his stuff and you’ll get it), a series of wildly popular viral articles, and rabbit ears for internet culture of the time (SomethingAwful, bash.org, etc). His site was getting monstrous amounts of traffic, with zero promotion. He inspired countless imitators.

Around 2005, gaps between articles started going from weeks to months. From September 2007 to September 2010 he published a whopping six articles. And this was around the point where you could no longer afford to do that – the internet was changing, and it went from “charismatic writers with loyal followings” to “clickbait writers dangling shiny objects in front of your face, and hoping you weren’t distracted by an even shinier object”. By the time Maddox finally came “back” (sorta), he’d lost all the momentum he’d built up. His articles now get tens of thousands of hits. It used to be millions.

He’s still an interesting person. Not so much for the content he’s putting out (which is sporadic and shitty), but for the brief glimpses behind the curtain.

He seems to be trying to rebrand, to “pivot”, as political wonks are saying now. This video has been edited to include a grovelling “explanation” of why he used the word “gay”. His rejection of his first book is a calculated move to deflect blowback from a passage that appears to recommend sexual assault (if you’re an idiot with no understanding of satire or humor). I don’t know why he even bothers. The people who are offended by such things are intractable to apologies. They don’t want him to grovel, they just want him destroyed.

To be fair, he’s always been a conflicted guy. What I liked about his occasional forays into politics was that he’d be so unpredictable in his stances. On some topics he’d lean left, on others right, on still others he’d take a view shared by no political ideology I’m aware of.

But now he’s virtually repudiating his edgelord past. It’s a shame, but it’s not surprising. People get older, and people change. Tucker Max is now an entrepreneur. Thilo Savage took down his site after it apparently caused problems for his professional career. Robert Hamburger…god, I don’t even know. If I think too much about him I’ll read Real Ultimate Power one last time.

A shattered visage.


Haute-ations – Graham’s Number

- 12/10/16 News

images-2“Microsoft isn’t evil, they just make really crappy operating systems.” – Linus Torvalds

“Nothing taught by force stays in the soul.” Plato

“Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” Samuel Johnson

“According to a rule of thumb among engineers, any tenfold quantitative change is a qualitative change, a fundamentally new situation rather than a simple extrapolation. ‘More is different.'” –Philip Warren Anderson

“I remember asking a wise man, once . . . ‘Why do Men fear the dark?’ . . . ‘Because darkness’ he told me, ‘is ignorance made visable.’ ‘And do Men despise ignorance?’ I asked. ‘No,’ he said, ‘they prize it above all things–all things!–but only so long as it remains invisible.” ? R. Scott Bakker, The Judging Eye

“The cognitive functioning of a human brain depends on a delicate orchestration of many factors, especially during the critical stages of embryo development—and it is much more likely that this self-organizing structure, to be enhanced, needs to be carefully balanced, tuned, and cultivated rather than simply flooded with some extraneous potion.”
? Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence

“The original is unfaithful to the translation.”
? Jorge Luis Borges

“Was it you that killed me, or did I kill you?” Abel answered. “I don’t remember anymore; here we are, together, like before.”

“Now I know that you have truly forgiven me,” Cain said, “because forgetting is forgiving. I, too, will try to forget.”
? Jorge Luis Borges

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
? Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

“It reminds me of a story that Ulysses S. Grant tells in his memoirs about a night he spent on the wild prairies of East Texas. He and a fellow officer were near Goliad when they heard “the most unearthly howling of wolves” directly in front of them. They couldn’t see the wolves through the tall prairie grass, but the men knew they were near. The other officer asked Grant how many wolves he thought were in the pack. Grant, not wanting to seem afraid, tried to lowball the number at twenty […] The men arrived to find just two lone wolves sitting on their haunches. These were the sole animals who had made all the noise that had scared Grant so badly, that had convinced him he was overwhelmingly outnumbered. Four decades later, after a full life in public service and politics, Grant would relate that he often thought of this incident when he heard of a group changing course due to criticism or someone giving up because they were deterred by an unseen enemy. The lesson in such situations, he concluded, was this: “There are always more of them before they are counted.” – Ryan Holiday


Rock music is suffering from a pedostache infestation

- 09/09/16 News

 

cuomo

Contemplate Rivers Cuomo, of Weezer used-to-be-fame. Does this look like a man who diligently checks his groupies’ IDs before letting them on the tour bus? It’s doubtful.

kiedis

RHCP’s Anthony Kiedis was recently sighted sporting a combo of pedostache + pedoglasses (or “molestacles”, as they are sometimes called – check your Funk & Wagnalls). In the 90s, RHCP had a hit with “Love Rollercoaster”. Be advised: Kiedis’s own Love Rollercoaster is conspicuously missing the “You Must Be This Tall To Ride” sign.

taylor

Slipknot’s vocalist Corey Taylor has also gotten on to the trend of hanging a “free candy” sign on the tour bus. The truly disturbing part about this man is that sometimes he can be heard performing vocals for Slipknot.


Love in the Time of Zika

- 04/09/16 News

prostitutes_0People who fight social change do so for two reasons. The first is that sometimes society changes in a bad direction. The second is that sometimes society changes in a good direction. Yeah, think about it. How terrible would it be to spend your life fighting eugenics or whatever, have society adopt eugenics anyway…and then society doesn’t collapse. Wouldn’t that just be the pits and the shits? Why were you even alive?

On a related jag: lots of famous men use prostitutes.

Charlie Sheen. Tiger Woods. A-Rod. These are wealthy, high-status men. They could have consensual sex with any number of women. Yet they choose prostitutes.

I think it’s because sex prostitutes is explicitly transactional. You fuck them, you pay them, and they leave. They don’t expect you to talk or be entertaining, they don’t gab about you to their friends or the tabloids, they don’t try to move into your house or poke holes in your condoms. THEY LEAVE.

Economists talk about revealed preferences, where peoples’ true desires can be triangulated through their buying habits. If men, given unlimited money and status, choose prostitutes, does this mean that this represents some kind of…ideal preference? I heard someone say that a communist sees a mansion and thinks “nobody should have this much” while a capitalist thinks “everyone should have this much.” Are prostitutes the mansion in this scenario? In the future, will there be social welfare so that every man can afford prostitutes?

I think there’s more to famous men using prostitutes than it just being more convenient. It’s an upgraded form of love, love made efficient.

Love is traditionally haphazard, rambling, impenetrable, irrational, awkward, and (to an extent) based on deception. From the male end, it looks like this. Make yourself attractive. Approach women. Hope they don’t write blog posts about how creepy you are. Court a woman over months or years. At any stage in the proceedings, things can fall apart for any reason at all, or even no reason at all, and you’ve just wasted four whole years putting the toilet seat up and pretending to like Michael Bublé.

In its natural form, love is like crude oil, filled with grit and sand and byproducts. Sometimes it’s still usable. When the Japanese occupied Tarakan island they found that the crude was light enough to pump directly into their ships’ boilers. But why not refine it? Why not strip out all the stuff you don’t need?

Prostitution is refined love.

A working lady can fulfill any need you can possibly have, whether you want carnal knowledge, emotional intimacy, or even just someone to hug. Is it fake? Yes. For a whole lot of us, fakeness is all we need. I don’t need to actually IRL kill people in Battlefield 4. I don’t need rappers in music videos to actually own those expensive cars. All that matters is that the illusion is real enough, and thanks to technology, it either is or soon will be.

Soon, we might be looking at people who get married the way we look at people who churn their own butter. It will be a bucolic hipster lifestyle choice.

There’s nothing wrong with living in the past. Look at the NES gaming console, and how people fondly remember it. Some people build shrines to the NES. We have to do this, because the console can’t speak. It lacks a voice, so we commemorate it.

The human race is in a similar but different predicament. We’re coming obsolete…but unlike every other product in history, we can talk about our own obsolescence.


Bad Guy Bat Signals

- 25/08/16 News

sotosSociety is full of noble ideals that nobody can defend because they attract assholes.

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.


First Words on the Moon

- 22/08/16 News

hqdefaultWho created the science fiction genre?

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.


Daze of Days

- 20/08/16 News

71ccdc1b59f35ce73cc9ba6f39d463a6Humans, 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.


Taking the Red Ink Pill

- 09/08/16 News

circle-688917_960_720Internet 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”.


A Sucker Born Every Clock Cycle

- 07/08/16 News

empiresThe 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.

More soon.


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