“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.”
At their best, O&A had a sense of nastiness and cruelty that was cathartic. Opie once said that he didn’t give a fuck if guests on the show cried, all he cared about was the ticking clock on the wall. He had to fill four hours per day with funny material, and if you weren’t entertaining, he’d make you entertaining, god save your soul. Countless guests fell prey to that clock. They’d screw up, get slow and boring, and then the knives would come out. Whether you were a Hollywood A-lister or a no-name author with a book to promote, Opie and Anthony had one law. “Bring us food, or become food yourself.”
…But that was at their peak (2005). In 1997, they were mostly doing stupid fucking hack (they themselves admit it. As they grew more sophisticated, they spent a lot of hours riffing on their WAAF era). “100 Grand” pretty much sets the tone. An eye-rollingly fake prank call where they trick some guy into thinking he won $100,000. The big reveal: he actually won a 100 Grand candy bar. Hahaha! KERR-RAY-ZEE!!!
Sometimes its nostalgic, in a rotary telephone kind of way. This kind of radio was almost like the internet before there was an internet: sliced-up, rapidly consumable “content kibble” that can be enjoyed with little thought or effort. Sometimes its just embarassing and cringeworthy. All you can say about early O&A is that, by the standards of the time, they were not an exceptionally bad radio show.
Let’s talk about the term “shock jock”. In computer programming, it’s usually bad practice to name files “new” or “latest”. The code will eventually become obsolete, you’ll probably forget to change the name, and soon you’ll have a file called LATEST-NEW-UPDATED25314.c that was created during the K-T extinction event and has been replaced ten times.
Likewise, it’s probably a bad idea to call yourself “shocking”. The waterline of shock rises higher each year, and a person raised on the internet will only be “shocked” to the extent that this stuff was once considered edgy. Prank calls. Parody songs. Bra bombing. How old would you have to be to find this stuff offensive? Are there even that many years on a calendar?
Opie’s voice is disturbingly different – he sounds like he’s been huffing helium. Anthony is far quicker and more energetic than he is now – firing off lines like rabbit punches instead of drawling them out. This is years before meaty-breasted third mic Jim Norton entered the picture, and you really feel his absence. All those little pauses really cry to have Jim filling them with lines.
It’s fascinating relic for the hardcore O&A fan. But honestly, nearly everything O&A did in their “classic” period is unlistenable in 2016. Partly it’s the lack of Jim. Partly it’s the FCC’s jackboot on their neck (this stuff should be way filthier than it is). Mostly it’s just that 1997 was twenty years ago, and that zany 90s vibe now seem like transmissions from a distant planet.
Although a modern day O&A fan will hardly recognise the b-b-boys, it’s an interesting look back at the days when radio was ruled by Howard Stern. Speaking of obsolete terms, here’s another one…”the king of all media.”
“Back in the year 960, Christian missionaries invaded Scandinavia and threatened the Vikings: if you persist in your pagan customs you will end up in hell where eternal fires burn. The Vikings welcomed the good news. They trembled from cold, not fear.” – Eduardo Galeano
“They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven’t proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing” – Bill Hicks
“Secondly, what unites the liberals attempting to demonise Bruenig – Sady Doyle, Joshua Foust, Jordan Kay, and others you’re probably very lucky to have never heard of – is their total uselessness at good, vicious political invective. It’s just not their natural terrain. […] Case in point is Doyle, who once wrote that ‘trying to parse Hillary Clinton without also parsing Hillary hate is like trying to drink water without touching the glass,’ apparently having never heard of the popular invention known as a ‘straw.’” – Sam Kriss
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” – Adam Smith
“The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.” – Adam Smith
“Fascism no longer exists. It’s as dead as Odinism. You can reinvent Odinism, but it’s not Odinism, it’s fake Odinism. Unless it’s a joke (and don’t get me wrong, Nazi Microsoft chatbots are funny), it’s pathetic. Actually, the fact that /pol has made Hitler funny is the best possible evidence that Hitler is completely dead. What’s alive is the ideological system that defeated fascism — which committed plenty of atrocities of its own. Of our own. When we think about crimes from the last century, it seems more relevant to think about the crimes we committed, not those they committed.” – Curtis Yarvin/Mencius Moldbug
“No Vietcong ever called me a nigger.” – Muhammad Ali
“Space echoes like an immense tomb, yet the stars still burn. Why does the sun take so long to die?” – Nick Land
April 22 1993. The 37th President of the United State, Richard Milhous Nixon, passed away. He was carried by motorcade to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, was then buried Yorba Linda, a suburban city in Orange County, California. You might be thinking this is boring and useless information. You’re right. It is.
What’s interesting is that he was buried within a few feet of the place he was born, giving his life an almost palindromic quality. From birth to death, his planetary displacement was almost zero.
“Almost palindromic” describes many things about Nixon. His surname isn’t a palindrome, but it clearly wants to be. Five letters. An N at beginning and end. A pivotal X in the middle. Vowels in the spaces between. “Nixon” means “Son of Nicholas”, and “Nicholas” contracts to “Nick”, evocative of how “Richard” contracts to “Rick.”
He was born on January 1913. If he’d been born a few months later or died a few months earlier, he would have been exactly eighty years old. Eighty is a nice, symmetrical number, easy to derive as a product and palindromic in base 3(22223), 6(2126), and 9 (889.)
The situation is almost poetic, which is to say, it’s truly and deeply aggravating. I can handle the universe not making sense. What I can’t handle is when the universe almost makes sense…and then doesn’t. It’s as infuriating as a basketball shot that scrapes the rim and misses.
Imagine a more poetic and elegant universe, where Nixon/Noxin’s life truly was a palindrome: the second half a reversal of the first half.
Let’s call 1952 the midway point. Nixon was suffering the first major scandal of his career: an investigation on the misuse of Republican party funds. He looked uncomfortable, and guilty. Some women have resting bitch face. Nixon had resting guilt face. The poor guy could have said “I’m the devil” and make everyone wonder what he was really hiding.
During the speech, he told an awkward anecdote about a black-and-white dog called Checkers.
In my universe, Nixon closes those guilty eyes, the universe crunches and inverts like the X in his name…and Noxin opens them. And begins to talk.
“…As it happens, I also own a white-and-black cat called Chess.”
From there, the rest of his life plays out like falling dominoes. Or perhaps someone re-setting dominoes that have already fallen.
1954: expelled from the US Senate.
1960: fails to win California’s 12th congressional district against a Democrat challenger. Tragically loses his daughter in an unexplained accident. Noxin feels nothing. Whatever grief a man would normally feel is expressed only in negatives.
1960: returns to military service in the US Navy.
1962: War. Massive US deployment of soldiers in Vietnam. The Cuban Missile Crisis occurs – the United States enters DEFCON 2. Noxin is now part of a new form of war: one that might see nobody surviving to be a winner or a loser – a war fought by the hawks of plutonium and uranium, with humanity as their inept and feeble falconer.
1965: The Tet Offensive overruns key US positions. Vietnamization is failing, and detente is no longer possible. Behind the Iron Curtain, the USSR marshalls its strength like Zeus gathering up thunderbolts.
1966: While overseas, Noxin realises that his wife Pat has left him. He doesn’t understand why, but he also doesn’t understand why he married in the first place. It seems like something that happened to a different person.
1968: all storms break. Europe is under attack. The nukes start to fly. Noxin serves, until the point where he doesn’t. He doesn’t need to see Germany or Poland get taken, added to the Soviet urheimat. He wants to see the rot take hold in his own country. He arranges an honorable discharge, and returns to law.
1973: Noxin watches as the US implodes inwards. This is fundamentally satisfying for him. The stock market crashes. Nuclear fallout terminates the bread basket forever.
1993: Noxin returns to his place of birth, his life a blind-ended worm: no differentiation possible between one end or the other. Then he’s buried in Yorba Linda. The last men of the United States shovel irradiated dirt into this second womb.
This is a 24,000 word horror novella about a morbid fascination: self-help.
It’s one of the 21st century’s phenomenons. It’s corruptible linguistically. One letter away from “sell-help”. Another letter away from “self-hell”. It’s corruptible in other ways, too. Scientology. James Arthur Ray. Jonestown. History is full of charismatic sociopaths with the solution to all your problems, so long as those problems are a heavy wallet, your sanity, and your life.
This book takes that idea, turns the dial to 11, and tears it off. Review copies are available. Hit me up at mail @ this website URL, with “Gateless Gate, Skyless Sky” as the subject line.
“…Welcome to the program, Mr Zhang.”
What would you do to change your life?
What if you said ‘anything’…and meant it?
Jiro Zhang is a small-time criminal, steadily circling the drain. Then he meets Makassar, psychologist and founder of the Gateless Gate, Skyless Sky method.
This method is like nothing that has ever existed before. Its techniques are terrifying, illegal, and perhaps deadly. It can cure you of anything, even your humanity. It’s Zen Buddhism on steroids, crack cocaine, and Zyklon B. Jiro just has to sign the dotted line.
Under the guidance of the sinister Makassar, Jiro will walk a path to the edge of sanity, and then far, far beyond. He’s on the ultimate self-help journey…but he might look inside and find there’s no “self” left at the end.
Gateless Gate is a horror novella that mixes Buddhism, transhumanism, and ultra-violence. It’s the tale of a man who tears out the darkness in his soul and replaces it with something a thousand shades blacker.
If Metallica’s career was a movie narrated by Morgan Freeman, here’s where he’d say “…and that’s when it all started to go wrong.” It was a bold move: they took all their signature elements and shot them behind the woodshed. A few long songs became lots of short ones. Furious speed became a uptempo bounce. Droning slowness became a downtempo plod. Everything was smoothed out, graded even – this is an album so flat you can iron your clothes on it. Pick out something you liked about 80s Metallica. Odds are, that element is now either gone or greatly reduced.
It could have been career suicide, but unknown to everyone, they were positioned ride one of the biggest waves in popular music.
Nevermind by Nirvana was sliding out the bomb bay doors, and soon rock music would be destroyed and rebuilt in a new, “alternative” image. Soon, rock concerts would be the place to get bored out of your skull. With the scent of flannel and stonewashed jeans wafting south from Seattle, Metallica was seen as a heavier alternative to the grunge rock craze. People seemed to dig their new lack of pretension. Unfortunately, The Black Album’s overall effect is one of musical homogeneity.
Sometimes, The Black Album hits home. Sometimes my finger hits home, on the skip button. “Sad but True” is pedestrian and lacks energy. Hetfield’s riffs are weak and Ulrich’s drumming has a mechanical, overproduced quality. It almost seems to flop out of your speakers. “Enter Sandman…chronic overplay is an interesting phenomenon. Some songs survive it, other songs don’t. This one didn’t.
“Nothing Else Matters” is either the most commercial Metallica song ever or an fascinating fusion of genres. Apparently Hetfield wrote the first few bars while on the phone with his girlfriend, which is why the opening arpeggios can be played with one hand.
“Holier than Thou”, “Through the Never”, and “The Struggle Within” all rock fairly hard and pull things back a bit towards a thrash metal sound. “Through” is the strongest, featuring one of Hetfield’s better vocal performances and a powerful set of riffs.
Most of the rest of the album is a crapshoot of commercial-sounding metal made with the intention of not scaring Pearl Jam fans. Tracks like “Don’t Tread on Me” and “My Friend in Misery” are now heavily dated, especially if you believe metal should push against a boundary somewhere. None of it is offensive, but you want something more – more speed, more heaviness, more hooks, better developed ideas. Instead, these songs just show up, punch a clock, do their job, then leave. They’re the Teamsters of the metal world.
For all its failings, The Black Album is not grunge rock. But it’s infected with the grunge rock disease, a pretentious lack of pretension.
Sound contradictory? Welcome to the 90s. Rockstars pretending to be tortured, introverted loners while making millions of dollars. Pantera and Ministry conducting Stalinesque purges of their back catalog, lest anybody suspect they were capable of laughing or having fun. The whole decade sucked. Phony, fake wrist-slashing garbage. Lyrically, Hetfield bows to changing times only once, writing a sob story about his upbringing in “The God that Failed”. Musically, he bent so much he turned into a pretzel.
I wish there was more contrast. It seems like it was written so that every song could be a potential radio hit, and it comes off like a plate of mashed potato – some hills and some valleys, but it’s still pile of mashed spud.
In zoology, you’re not supposed to anthropomorphosize animal behavior. For example, a dog doesn’t “laugh”, it “vocalises”. The idea is that you keep a bit of daylight between human emotions and animal emotions, because they’re not the same thing.
But people are fine with anthropormophisizing other things. We talk about nations, states, churches, backyard mud wrestling federations, etc as if they’re people. Reagan described the USSR as an “evil empire”. Can an empire be evil? Any more than an empire can have a favourite basketball team?
(All adjectives are behavioral. “Evil empire” = “an empire that does evil things”)
Ayn Rand once said “don’t ask me about my family, my childhood, my friends or my feelings. Ask me about the things I think.” But the things she thought were caused by her family, her childhood, her friends, and her feelings. There isn’t some “Ayn Rand” homunculus issuing orders from on high. It seems to me more likely that Rand’s feeling of free will emerged from lots of little incidents, both inside her mind and in the world outside, and they composited to form her personality. And if they created her personality, maybe they deserve the credit or blame for her actions.
Like Rand, The Soviet Union was a very large emergent froth coming from many subunits, which themselves were made up of many subunits, etc. What level of the apparatus bears the mark of Cain? Which level is “evil”? When talking about, say, a massive artificial famine like Holodomor, who do you blame?
The USSR itself? No, it only acted the way it did because of the smaller gears ticking inside. The NKVD, or the People’s Commissariat of Land Cultivation? No, same problem.
What about the minions who enacted the policies? Were they to blame? They would have claimed they were following orders.
So we can blame Stalin. He was the irreducible evil. Hopefully he won’t claim that he acted ideologically, otherwise blame for the Ukrainian famine gets passed back to Vladimir Lenin, then to Karl Marx, then to Adam Smith, then to John Ball, then to Jesus (and then to…). But hey, at least we’ve found the ultimate source of the Holodomor…
…No, we we haven’t. We’re still horsefucked. A nation is very complicated and elaborate, and if we’re withholding judgement on the USSR for this reason, we need to realise that Joseph Stalin’s mind was even more complicated and elaborate. There were 100 billion neurons in his brain. Each hemisphere had 400 to 500 distinct brain areas. His genome encompassed 20,000 genes, 84% of which were expressed in the brain. He was an incredibly sophisticated thinking machine.
Even if we understood a normal person’s brain, I don’t think we could have understood Stalin’s. Everyone who knew him or his works commented on how unusual he seemed, how cold and cruel. No more a human being than HAL9000. Adolf Hitler, although he owned a dog, strikes me as a stereotypical “cat person” – anxious, neurotic, sensitive, and artistically-minded. Benito Mussolini is more like a stereotypical “dog person” – a gregarious backslapping Il Duce, prone to self-aggrandisement and egotism. Stalin strikes me as a person who would have brooked no pets at all. Although maybe he considered Lavrentiy Beria a kind of pet.
So what in this confusing mare’s nest can we “blame”? Stalin’s neurons? They have to fire together in elaborate Hebbian patterns, and no one neuron is responsible for anything. His genes? All behavioural traits are heavily polygenic, there wasn’t any one “evil gene” in Stalin’s mind. And these genes were gifts from his parents, so we’re almost back to blaming cavemen again. “What caused the Holodomor?” It seems the answer might be…everything.
Homer Simpson’s method for getting out of trouble is to say “It was like that when I got here”, and so is mine.
“Say what you will about pre-modern European society, no peasant was under any pathetic illusion the monarch would enjoy a beer with them” – @Trilburne
“Our ignorance can be divided into problems and mysteries. When we face a problem, we may not know its solution, but we have insight, increasing knowledge, and an inkling of what we are looking for. When we face a mystery, however, we can only stare in wonder and bewilderment, not knowing what an explanation would even look like.” – Noam Chomsky
“I read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia.” – Woody Allen on speed-readers
“Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.” -Unknown
“What would your good do if evil didn’t exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and living beings. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You’re stupid.” – Mikhail Bulgakov
“You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style” – Vladimir Nabokov
“If a mosquito has a soul, it is mostly evil. So I don’t have too many qualms about putting a mosquito out of its misery. I’m a little more respectful of ants.” – Douglas Hofstadter
“Hey Hef, how do you get so many bitches?” “Well, for starters, I don’t call them bitches” – Hugh Hefner
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.” -Arthur Schopenhauer
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint
“My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system… I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.” – Charles Manson
“There is no such thing as a former KGB man.” – Vladimir Putin
From his snowbound manse in Portland, Maine, Stephen King has unleashed his most horrifying work yet. A terrifying look at man’s inner heart, a raw and beating extrusion of pure horror.
I refer, of course, to his Twitter account, which is just the drizzling shits.
Imagine a hacky 1930s vaudeville comic with buck teeth, a spinning bow-tie, and a lapel flower that squirts water. Imagine “topical” humor that was growing only slightly musty in the early years of the Bush presidency. Imagine forwards from your grandma that are forwards from her grandma. Welcome to the Stephen King twitter feed.
The handful of pity retweets/favs renew one’s faith in humanity. Some people are taking a stand against this abomination. But there’s no time to relax, the assault has only just begun.
His jokes are best read with a trombone player supply the “waah waah waah” at each punch line.
What the fuck is this happy horseshit? I want to take the Twitter social media platform to a rape crisis center of some kind, whispering reassurances in its ear. “Everything will be OK. You’re being very brave right now. Just remember…it’s not your fault.”
I had a small Mogutu-style breakdown when I saw this. How’s this funny or clever? He just took a famous quote and changed it so it’s about Twitter. Yeah, and Gandhi would be like “be the RT you wish to see in the world.” Scary funny!
But there’s more! Are you a fan of low-effort dumbfuck political pandering? Especially of the left-wing variety? Stevie’s got you covered, my friend.
Somewhere, there is a politburo meeting in secret. They are compiling evidence, and building a case. Their thesis is nothing more than this: Twitter must be destroyed.
Obviously, if they rise to power they’ll close Twitter, bulldoze the corporate headquarters, imprison everyone involve, and grind the hard drives into a fine metal powder. But what will happen to the people who use Twitter? They’re the real problem. Final solution: lobotomies all around. They’ll insert a sharp metal rod under your eyelid, gently (or not) insert it past the sphenoid structure, and sever your frontal brain lobe. Not too far, though, or it might be fatal, and we still need people to drive lorries and empty rubbish bins and things. I’m not saying I support this plan. All I’m saying is that it’s real, it’s happening, and right now @StephenKing’s tweets are in the prosecution’s brief.
Is it too much to ask for some entertaining cornball, such as “The man in black created a Twitter account, and the gunslinger followed”?
“You know, it was always a big thing in my life when I was a kid, because I thought Muppets were cool. Now, I’m not talking about the ones that had their own show, I’m talking the Sesame Street ones. I was one of the people that felt that Kermit was a sell-out when he started his own show. I was never really into it. Fozzie Bear is just a wannabe Grover. I always thought there should have been war between the East Coast and West Coast Muppets. That’s just me.” – Joss Whedon
“Some people heard Johnny Rotten’s cry of “get pissed… destroy!” and took this as a call to set up left-wing youth community theatre projects. I set out to get pissed and destroy”
– Ashley Pomeroy
“That tiger didn’t go crazy. That tiger went tiger.”
– Chris Rock
“A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.”
– WH Auden
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”
“Fingers scratching blackboards makes cowards of the brave” – Ronnie James Dio
“When you’re taught to love everyone, to love your enemies, then what value does that place on love?”
– Marilyn Manson
“My favorite joke of his occurred when George was telling me about the joys of grandfatherhood. “If I could have figured out how to have grandchildren without having children first, I would have done so.” Later on, I knew just what he meant – high relatedness, no work. Or as Melvin Newton (Huey’s brother) once put it, “You can serve them ice cream for breakfast, what do you care?”
– Robert Trivers
“I hate when a director says to me ‘Here’s how I envision this scene’…excuse me? It’s right here in the script – I ‘envisioned’ it FOR you. Do what I wrote. If you want to ‘envision’, you should become a writer. Where the fuck were you when the page was blank?”
– Harlan Ellison
“Never underestimate the determination of a kid who is time-rich and cash-poor.”
– Corey Doctorow