Search Results for: Gene machines

Alt-Right-Del 2

Rik Storey is what I call a diving board.

That is to say: he’s flat, stiff, homogenous, and mostly uninteresting, but he adequately suffices if one wishes to use him to launch oneself to greater heights.

His latest article, not content to simply be wrong and leave it at that, sees him dragging Nietzsche’s name through the dirt, proposing some sort of conflict between Nietzsche and Dawkins’ Gene Machine, while also fundamentally misunderstanding the root cause of what he calls “white genocide.”

Now that we’ve got all the links out of the way, allow me to clear the air: Storey is wrong, and doesn’t grasp what is happening.

In fact, there is a single source of the white guilt that Storey refers to–a condition whose existence I don’t deny, because it’s obvious to anyone who cares to look that a shockingly large number of white liberals spend much of their time denigrating white people–and it is derived wholesale from arrogance.

Pictured: modern liberals and the alt-right taking up the White Man’s Burden to carry the “savage races”

Whereas in the 19th century, White Man’s Burden consisted of the notion that it was the duty of the educated and enlightened white race to take care of the world’s “savage races” (a sentiment expressed clearly in Storey’s idea that white people are “spreading democracy”), in the 21st century… it consists of the idea that it’s white people’s duty to make sacrifices of themselves for the benefit of the “savage races.”

It’s hard to understand how Storey (or anyone, for that matter) misses the obvious strains of Manifest Destiny running unchecked through modern liberalism. Just look up any video along the lines of “What white liberals think of…” and you’ll find countless examples of this playing out in increasingly absurd ways, from the idea that black people can’t work computers to the arrogant notion that black people can’t find a DMV.

Considering such videos usually come from alt-right sources, I’m not even sure what Storey is talking about.

Nothing has changed since the days of Andrew Jackson, which saw a U.S. invasion of the Philippines and widespread slaughter of the indigenous people (for their own good, of course). The obvious similarities between those atrocities and more recent ones–like the spread of “democracy” to Iraq, which entailed more than 100,000 dead civilians (again, for their own good)–shouldn’t necessitate pointing out, and neither should this idea’s representation on the left, which manifests in things like white guilt.

The conceit, naturally, is that black people are too weak, too stupid, and too defenseless to stand against Mighty Whitey, and that if they don’t take up the burden of self-hate, they run the risk of allowing the Omnipotent White Man to rampage over all the non-white people who just don’t stand a chance. The entire basis of the idea that the power of white people must be checked through self-hate and sacrifice is that, if it isn’t checked, then poor, weak black people just don’t stand a chance. Their contention is that the only thing that can stop Mighty Whitey is Mighty Whitey.

And so we end up with positively bizarre statements that paint minorities as helpless, stupid, bumbling straw people who are completely and totally at the mercy of nearby white people, and it is the burden of the educated, liberal white person to take up their defense against the other white people; after all, no one else can do it.

The modern liberal truly believes that Voter ID Laws (I’m not expressing a position on them in any direction) are racist, and will mince no words in stating that this is because minorities are often unable to get to a DMV (black people can’t afford cars, of course, or buses), unable to navigate a GPS menu to even find a nearby DMV, and totally flummoxed by one of them new-fangled compooters anyway, making the whole thing irrelevant. I’d only be moderately surprised to hear a modern white liberal say that they don’t think minorities can spell “ID.”

It’s worth pointing out that these are not my contentions; I don’t believe that crap. I’m not the one walking around college campuses saying that black people don’t know what GPS is and can’t find the DMV. I recognize that bullshit as the ignorant, racist trash that it is, yet it does seem to be the official liberal position, given that their official stance is anti-Voter ID, and the official reason is that they are racist because minorities run the highest chance of not being able to obtain an ID. As a black dude in one such video asked, “Who doesn’t have an ID? What kind of person doesn’t carry an ID?”

When challenged on this, the liberal quickly backpedals and clarifies: “No, we’re talking about minorities in rural, white communities.”

That doesn’t change anything, though. It’s still an expression of the same idea: “The poor, weak black people need to be rescued from the powerful white people.” Changing the location of the imagined travesty and racist fix from a city to the country doesn’t change anything else.

I recently wrote that it’s easy to earn someone’s pity, but it’s much more difficult to earn their respect. In addition, pity and respect are mutually exclusive: if someone pities you, then they can’t respect you, and, if they respect you, then they can’t pity you. This is because pity comes from a place of dominance and supremacy, as anyone familiar with Nietzsche knows: compassion is a luxury afforded to the comfortable.

It’s quite clear that modern liberals take pity upon non-whites, which hails from the same presumed supremacy that gave us Jackson’s Manifest Destiny. Pity is something that only a powerful person can have, and it can only be held toward a weaker person. Any statement of pity carries the connotation that “in this area, I’m better than you.” If I pity Bill Nye for how he’s fallen to liberal propaganda and statism, it stems from the notion that, at least in terms of resistance to propaganda and allegiance to free thought, I am superior to him.

No one pities an equal or a superior, because that isn’t how pity works.

So yes, it’s easy to get someone to pity you: simply convince them that they’re better than you are. Since natural human arrogance probably leads them to believe this anyway, it’s like purposely trying to be struck by rain. The real test of humanity is to not succumb to that arrogance.

Storey rhetorically asks what is driving the “white genocide,” and then postulates his thoughts, which is particularly hilarious given the same underlying tendency drives it as compels his own self-engrandizing image of the Glorious White Race as the Saviors and Bringers of Democracy and Enlightenment ideas. Of course, Storey cultivates this picture with all the self-righteous Quoxotic nobility and grace of the man in Blake’s “The Poisoned Tree,” and the identification of an individual with a “greater” collective serves the same purpose, because the vengeance-seeker in the Romantic’s poem does not view himself as an evil monster but an enforcer of justice and higher cosmic principles that supercede trite, little things like dead people and quaint thoughts of morality. The age old cry of the oppressor, wrapped in a new mask: “What are a few dead or enslaved civilians, compared to the greater good?”

As a person whose skin is definitely white, I hate to say this, but if we’re ever going to smooth over race relations in the United States, many white people are going to have to do something they haven’t yet been willing to do: stop being arrogant. You’re not God’s Gift to Earth. You value enlightenment ideology because you came up with it; enlightenment ideology is the set of values that you use to ascribe value to other value systems. There’s nothing inherently better about your ideology, and you merely think it is because your ideology forms the very basis of the value system you use to determine the relative value of other ideological systems. It is, in essence, the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

This conceit that our values are objectively the One True Value system (which anyone who understands Nietzsche, rather than asininely tossing his name around) is the problem. It simply manifests in two different ways: in Storey’s own alt-right, and in modern liberalism. This extends to my own anarcho-capitalist ideology, as well, and I’ve applied that same lens to it, beginning with the statement that there is no objective reason that non-violence is better than violence, and attempting to reconcile that discrepancy between Nietzscheanism and the NAP.

Storey should be more careful whose name he throws around, especially since his article drips with indications that he has no idea what Nietzsche had to say. If someone wants to rile me, that’s the best way to do it: put silly statements into Nietzsche’s mouth. My own arrogance leads me to want to write “There isn’t a person alive who understands Nietzsche better than I do,” but I don’t actually think that; I will say, though, that if you think there’s a conflict between Nietzsche and any evolutionary thought, then you clearly don’t understand Nietzsche as well as I do. For fuck’s sake, Nietzsche was literally the person who broke ground by writing that compassion is a vice of the strong, and that sympathy for the botched is nihilistic in evolutionary terms–for reasons that are obvious. A species that cultivates weak organisms in its own gene pool corrupts and poisons its own lineage. No, Nietzsche wasn’t proposing racial segregation or eugenics, but the point remains indisputable, and it was Nietzsche who made it. Dawkins came after and explained the science behind it. There’s no conflict between Nietzsche’s statement that ensuring the survival of weak genes in a species undermines that species’ own chances of survival, and Dawkins’ statement that we are all Gene Machines motivated and controlled by genes whose sole function is to procreate within the species rather than the individual. If you think there’s a conflict, then you have grossly misunderstood something.

Which wouldn’t be terribly surprising, honestly, since Storey somehow missed and misunderstood the arrogance that ties his own ideology directly to the “white genocide” that he hates. Notice that Storey and other alt-right people focus their biggest concerns on white self-hate, and they don’t seem to have the slightest bit of care when non-white people hate white people. So North Koreans hate Americans and white people? Meh. Big deal. Oh, no, Syrians hate white people? Whatever shall we do? Oh, Venezuelans call us “White Devil?” Yawn… But when other white people express the sentiment, that is when it gets dangerous. It’s the same idea that motivates liberals: Storey has no fear of all the non-white people in the world hating white people, because he believes, at a deep level, that white people can take them all on. And, to be clear, he’s probably right: an Oceanian war against the rest of the world would probably result in NATO victory (assuming that NATO is drawn on racial lines, which it largely is, but not exclusively so). Regardless, he perceives no real threat from black people who hate white people, or Asians who hate white people; the real threat comes only when white people stand against white people because, just as the liberal believes, he believes that white people are the only ones capable of standing against white people.

I think it’s all nonsense and that only a weak and insecure person would consciously choose to identify with a collective rather than themselves, their own self-worth, and their own accomplishments. I don’t need to identify with white people who came before me, because I’m secure in who I am and don’t need to try to usurp the victories of others (while, naturally, refusing to acknowledge their failures and sins) for myself.

Isn’t it curious how an innate sense of insecurity can lead a person to project such arrogance? It’s rather like the guy with a tiny dick who drives a huge truck and drives around beating up people half his size. Feeling threatened and inadequate, Storey and the alt-right find themselves cowering while also trying to project an image of fierce strength at the bear they imagine to have cornered them. And yet, they simultaneously truly believe in their own strength and grandiosity, such that the basis of what they are arguing is that only people who share their characteristics are even capable of standing toe-to-toe with them.

I think Jim Morrison said it best.

People are strange.

Western Nihilism 3: Biology Versus Social Justice Warriors

Be warned: if you haven’t read Western Nihilism Part 1 and Western Nihilism Part 2, some of this may seem unsupported or even nonsensical. So the links are provided there, since we’re building off that framework with a more specific example.

See, I just read a 1400 word whine from a partner of Vice about how she’s totally judged because of her height, how her height makes her life difficult, and how she often intimidates people. The article ended with a link to a partner article about how standards of age are a form of bias. We’ve really reached this point, then? We’ve genuinely forgotten that we’re animals to the extent that we can’t recognize the real, primal, and largely uncontrollable reasons that we sometimes find tall people intimidating and short people adorable.

Little Things Are Cute

We’re programmed to think that little things are cute. This is part of the human operating system–it’s not a third party program that some people installed. We find kittens adorable, puppies adorable, and babies adorable, for the same reason we find one-inch figurines cute. Those things are immediately read as helpless, and that’s what we’re drawn toward (in the absence of imminent danger).

People finding you adorable because you’re short is a simple byproduct of how genes programmed us to protect our offspring. Because let’s be real a moment: what defense does a pooping, peeing, and crying baby have? None. It survives by two biological processes–the first I’ve already mentioned. Being cute is the baby’s first line of defense against the innate tendency humans have to discard things that cry and poop everywhere. The second is the parental bond, of course, but the parental bond can’t explain it all, because just about any human would do anything in their power to protect a baby.

Helplessness is generally what humans find cute–helplessness makes the thing precious to us, like kittens and babies. We recognize on deep, primal levels that these things cannot fend for themselves, and that this marvelous living creature needs our protection and love. This triggers endorphins to release in the brain and triggers, “Oh, my god, he’s so precious!” to come out of the mouth.

Just think about anything you’d call “precious.” Now think about anything you’d call “adorable.” There is a 1:1 correlation between those things: whatever you find precious, you’ll find adorable, and whatever you find adorable, you’ll find precious. This is just the way humans work.

Demanding that we cast off all of that biological programming and cease letting ourselves think short people are adorable is nihilistic. It’s an attempt to undermine, consciously ignore, destroy, or mitigate the very biological processes that cause people to like babies. So you having people say “You’re super cute!” isn’t really that big a deal, is it? Not when stacked against the evolution of our species and, hopefully, the continued evolution that happens when people find little things cute and when the perception of helplessness (being a kitten, being short, whatever) is what triggers the endorphin release that makes them gush over infants.

So get over yourself.

“I’m tall, so I intimidate people.”

Bull.

“I’m tall, and I intimidate people,” is what one should say. Being tall–within ordinary human limits, not talking about people like Shaq–is not inherently intimidating. If you’re intimidating people, it’s going to be because of:

  • Being very tall and very large (fat or muscular)
  • Body language.

It’s almost certainly going to be the latter. Most people don’t pay any attention to their body language, but doing so would fix these issues people are having. I learned in my last year of college that i intimidated the crap out of people. Muscular, wearing A-shirts (“wifebeaters”), wearing eyeliner, shaved head, intelligent, a bit over six feet tall… But it was my demeanor that intimidated people, not my height, intelligence, or any of the other excuses I could list to wriggle out from under the fact that my demeanor was intimidating people.

Of course I had a litany of viable excuses ready to go. Perhaps it was the chains on my Tripp pants? Maybe the eyeliner. Maybe the shaved head. None of those things were “on me,” and that’s the difference. “I’m just being myself, and I can’t help that, so if people are intimidated then it’s their problem, not mine.”

It wasn’t any one thing; it was the whole package that was “my presentation,” and it intimidated people. The biggest part of that was certainly my body language.

Height isn’t really an issue.

I couldn’t guess how many people I’ve met in my life, and I can only think of one person who truly intimidated me. His name was Joe, and he was the manager at a client’s office. He was enormous, possibly seven feet tall, and stocky. He had a deep voice and a No Nonsense attitude. Square jaw and square chin–looking at him was like looking at a cinder block that decided one day to grow a body. I avoided him whenever possible.

His height had little to do with that. It was the whole package (his demeanor) that was intimidating.

My ex-wife is now married to some old dude who is even taller than I am. We knew him for years (and no, there was nothing going on there–it seems she just latched onto the first guy she found after me), and I have never in the least intimidated by him. The drummer in my band then was almost the same height (I’d guess about 6’5″), and he was never intimidating, either.

Because it’s not about height. It’s about demeanor. It’s about the whole package you’re presenting, not one aspect of it.

Escaping Personal Responsibility

Seeing as they view personal responsibility as some deprecated, gross thing that should be rejected because “It’s everyone else with the problem, not me. I’m perfect!” it’s not surprising that we see here another way to lift blame from the one responsible (The one presenting the demeanor) and shifting it onto people who aren’t responsible (The ones witnessing the presentation).

If you made a PowerPoint presentation using terrible font choices and horrific colors, would you blame the viewers if they said your presentation sucked? “You’re just biased against people like me who love these fonts and colors!”

Sure, that’s true, in a limited, narrow, and asinine sense. There are biological reasons that we prefer complementary colors, largely due to how our eyes evolved first seeing only light and dark, then red and green (if I recall correctly), and then the other colors incrementally until we had the vision we have today. At the heart of it are more biological processes that we don’t have any control over. We like clear, readable fonts in vibrant, contrasting colors. Dark blue script fonts on a black background won’t be appealing to many people. And that’s not our problem.

It’s yours, because it’s your presentation.

We Are Animals

And we have forgotten that. We are compelled by genes and biological processes that we’re only beginning to understand, but the shocking revelation has been that it’s not really the survival of the individual that our subconscious minds care about; it’s the survival of our genes, which led to the term Gene Machines.

If you spit on everything that helped ensure the survival of those genes, then yes, you’re certainly being nihilistic. In and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing, but this nihilistic tendency is really starting to dominate western society. After all, we’ve legitimately reached a point where someone writes an article about being stereotyped because if one aspect of their demeanor, and how everyone else is at fault, and the writer isn’t laughed off the internet for being ridiculous.

Identity & Conflict

Through most of my life, I considered myself a boy. I was such a dude that it still bothers me to see men wearing pink, and I’ve said countless times that the shirt that says “Real men wear pink” is stupid–real men avoid wearing pink at all costs. I wore boxers, shaved my head, and had a bad ass goatee. No one in their right mind would have looked at me and suspected that I was anything but ordinary heterosexual male.

I drank beer, ate steaks, had a wife, knew how to work on automobiles, knew how to repair washing machines, and all the usual stuff. Yet the person there in that pic–that’s me. That person in that pic who five minutes before or after would have laughed at a guy for wearing a pink shirt–that’s me. That person who would have sneered if someone offered him a wine cooler over a Bud Light–that’s me.

Recently, Caryn Harlos has called me a revisionist making the party look silly because I say that Nolan was, and always was, an anarchist, even if he identified in the past as a minarchist. Speaking as a transgender person, I know exactly how this goes, and that’s why I bring all of this up. There is a lot of truth to the idea that a M2F trans person will embrace the most masculine aspects of being a male. It’s not an accident that I shaved my head, had a goatee, lifted weights, wore muscle shirts, and all the other shit. One might say I was overcompensating.

Yet the truth always bled through, often unbidden and without conscious intent, and I wondered about it for years. I remember remarking to a friend several years ago that I am, and always have been, an enthusiastic supporter of LGBT rights, but that I wasn’t sure why. I’m not gay or bisexual, so why should I be such an Ally that it consumed probably 10% of my political discussion? It didn’t make much sense. This was the transgenderism bleeding through subconsciously, without my knowing it or realizing it.

Of course, you could ask my ex-wife (from whom I divorced for reasons entirely unrelated to any of this) about other ways my transgenderism bled through. I mentioned in Dancing in Hellfire that my cousin enjoyed wearing makeup when we played various games, but as early as kindergarten I loathed makeup. Our kindergarten teacher forced us all to put on lipstick to kiss a paperplate (making a thing for our parents), and I resented her from that day forward. Makeup was for girls, and I wasn’t a goddamned girl. Only because I was a freak (what people today would call “goth”) did eyeliner get a pass, and only then because it looked so freaking awesome, and that was much later.

There were always periods, though, no matter how masculine I presented myself, and no matter how generally conformist I was to sexual stereotypes of heterosexuality, it always bled through. I’ve described being transgender and having to repress it as desperately needing to breathe, but being able to breathe only in short, very sporadic gasps. But no matter what I did, no matter how I attempted to hide it–often from myself–it always bled through. My grandmother would find women’s clothing hidden between my mattresses. I wore them when I could, while at the same time hating myself for wearing them, knowing that I was betraying some other part of me.

It was conflict, pure and simple.

Conflict between who I was and the identity that I proclaimed–the identity that I believed in.

And now look at me.

Who would ever have guessed that the person in the above pic was not truly the person he identified as? Who would have guessed that the goatee, the shaved head, the muscles, the Bud Light, the steaks, and all the other things… were just ways of masking the true behavior that underwrote so much of what I said and did?

Because it’s true. I wore my girlfriend’s prom dress before she did–and she thought it was hot. I had long hair through most of high school, too. At one point, my hair fell below my breasts. This same girlfriend gave me tons of panties, yet at every given moment I’d have insisted that I was not even a cross-dresser, that I was adamantly against the notion of transgenderism. I’m sure that I’ve in the past said “Boys are boys and girls are girls, and that’s that.”

When the True Self conflicts with the Expressed Self, there are contradictions–often glaring contradictions.

It would be the height of transphobic ignorance to look back at that first pic, of me with a goatee, and say that I was clearly just a male, that I was only a male, and that I was not, even then, transgender. I most certainly was. I was even female then. I simply repressed it because, for various reasons that are often unique to the individual, I could not accept it, and I was not ready to accept it.

Several, several years ago, I mentioned to a friend that if my ex-wife and I ever divorced, I would move to California and get a sex change operation. I told this to another friend, too–one that you could almost call a boyfriend, except that it wasn’t like that for me. When he brought this up again a year later, I adamantly denied it. Even though I had told him to his face that I felt like a girl and wanted to pursue that, when he mentioned it later, I abjectly refused to admit that I’d said that. I told him he was taking it out of context and making it to be a much bigger deal than it was. Readiness often comes in phases, rarely does it come all at once.

Nolan’s early writings, particularly his written declaration of the case for a Libertarian Party, have anarchism bleeding through it in exactly the same way that transgenderism bled through so much of my life, even as I identified as a male and sought desperately to hide any indication that I wasn’t quite normal. We see in Nolan’s other writings exactly the same conflict that we saw in me when I said “real men don’t wear pink.” Coming to term with oneself and making that final leap is often extremely difficult, but it shines through, and nothing can dim the inner light of the true self.

When such a conflict arises, how shall we form an understanding of the person? Through their often-confused and often-contradictory expressions and positions, or through the inner light that bleeds through no matter how adamantly it is denied, and is only embraced much later in life? Should we embrace the identity of the person as they express themselves while clearly embroiled in internal conflict, or should we be more understanding and accept their internal conflict as just that–internal conflict that was only resolved much later in life? Nolan denied being an anarchist and expressly stated that he was a minarchist with exactly the same fervor and tenacity with which I stated that I was a normal heterosexual male.

But I was never a normal heterosexual male, and Nolan was never a minarchist.

So, no. Caryn Harlos is wrong. Nolan was an anarchist, even back then, and it clearly bleeds through in his early writings in exactly the same way that female clothing bled through my otherwise-normal male adolescence. That I claimed to be a normal male didn’t make me one; that Nolan claimed not to be an anarchist didn’t prevent him from being one. It merely prevented him from coming to terms with what was already then shining through.

But apparently I’m a revisionist for saying that, clearly, Nolan was always an anarchist. If so, then I’m a revisionist for saying that I was always transgender.

Moreover, I can claim right now to be a minarchist. That won’t make me one. I could just as easily call this site “The Minarchist Shemale” and write pretty much the same things, though occasionally throwing out contradictory articles about how we need a state to protect us from a state. None of that would make me a minarchist, though–it would only make me confused about who I am and what I believe.

I’d rather take the word of the person who has worked through that confusion and expressed an identity that is in accord with their inner identity than to arbitrarily cling to the confused contradictions of someone struggling to come to terms with their identity.

But that’s just me…

Dancing in Hellfire

Last year, I wrote a book called Dancing in Hellfire. It is essentially my autobiography, except that I didn’t stop at simply relating events that had happened. Instead, I looked back on them and thought about what I learned from them, because the functional mind is always learning–any mind that refuses to learn is effectively dead. To be sure, I’ve had some really screwed up things happen in my past: both parents are/were drug addicts, my father killed a woman when I was 4, my mother was murdered when I was 12 (her body never found, so she’s still listed as a missing person), and other, generally awful things that you would rightly expect to happen in circumstances like that. Before we even factor in transgenderism, there is easily enough material to fill an 80,000 word autobiography (a bit on the heavy side for a memoir anyway), and I found myself chopping out entire recollections to make room for the transgender stuff.

Really, you’d think in today’s political environment that it would be an easy sell. That’s opportunistic of me, and I don’t deny that, but I also don’t see it as a problem. Identifying a niche in the market and targeting that niche isn’t a bad thing–in fact, it’s a smart thing to do. Only in the past six months, as my search for a literary agent has hit a dead end, has it dawned on me that I still made a mistake with the targeting. As I said, the book isn’t about “Oh, poor me, this happened and society didn’t do anything to prevent it!” Instead, it’s a book about “This happened, and this is what I learned from it.”

The critical difference is that the former marks me as a victim; the latter marks me as a beneficiary.

Without a doubt, I’d rather have my mother alive today, but there’s also no disputing that it has marked me in many ways that are very positive. Foremost among these is surely my awareness of justice as a function of forgiveness rather than vengeance. Those wounds are real, and they are painful–however, those very wounds have also made me ask the excruciating question, “How might I have closure on this?” The answer to that is not “…by seeing the murderer in prison!” The murderer has already been to prison for an unrelated murder, and it did nothing to make me feel any better. While it sucks beyond the capacity of weak words to convey how much it actually sucks to have my mother gone, absent without a trace, like an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, I can detach myself from that enough to recognize that having a mind that is more focused on forgiveness than vengeance is a positive result.

It wouldn’t be worth asking whether I’d rather have my mother alive, and to still consider vengeance and justice to be the same thing, or if I’d prefer the current state of affairs. Just because these things happened in a way that are causal doesn’t mean they’re mutually exclusive. Maybe my mother could still be alive and something else could have happened to lead me to that realization. There’s no way to know, and so the hypothetical is useless–built, as it is, on the assumption that I can’t have both simply because I don’t have both.

I’ve neglected to talk about it publicly before now, but we do live in a society that glorifies victimization, and this is no more evident than in the bizarre way that Glamour magazine named the Stanford rape victim their Woman of the Year. This perplexes me in countless ways. I’m not demeaning her fight within the system to see Brock punished for what he did, but “having been raped” doesn’t strike me as a particularly good reason to be named “Woman of the Year” any more than being trans was reason to name Caitlyn Jenner woman of the year. Why don’t we celebrate accomplishments rather than victimization? It is an absolute slap in the face to the female biochemists who lead breakthrough research, the females at CERN, and the leading female experts in countless industries, to be passed up as Woman of the Year because someone was a victim of rape and the case was very public. Again, this isn’t to say that the rape should be ignored, but it certainly shouldn’t be celebrated.

Bad Stuff Happens

… all the time.

Earlier this month, I attempted to drive ~150 miles to see A Perfect Circle live, for probably the last live tour they’re going to do, and it was an ordeal just to get tickets, much less to find someone who would go. To give you an idea of how much this meant to me, a few weeks beforehand, in an article about scalpers, I wrote:

I bought tickets to the A Perfect Circle concert next month for well over what they cost initially, and the reason was precisely because my demand exceeds other people’s. I can’t even convey with words what A Perfect Circle’s music means to me. Being able to see them again–probably for the last tour they’re ever going to do, since no one expected this one and it’s been 14 years since their last one–is one of those experiences that literally makes life worth living (no exaggeration). Because of scalpers, I was able to acquire a ticket, and I would say it’s far more important that I was able to get a ticket than Random Joe who kinda likes their music and has nothing else to do that evening. The seats aren’t even that good, and I don’t even care. It’s A Perfect Circle. It means more to me than it will anyone else in that audience.

And you know what happened? Shortly after I got onto i240, headed for i40 and the long eastward trip to Nashville, I saw that my temperature gauge was way higher than it should have been–like “about to overheat” high. I whipped over and got off the interstate, stopping on Airways. Not being an idiot, I’d left with more than an hour to spare, in the event that something weird happened. However, it took my car nearly 45 minutes to cool off enough to hold water, and we discovered that the upper radiator hose had come completely off, which is the rarest and most unlikely thing that could possibly happen with a working clamp (not to mention, of course, that the months of driving before that had no issue, so it happened at the worst possible moment). In doing so, it had brushed against the alternator belt, and had been cut open, so even after it was cool enough to travel again, it had a steady leak that meant the hose had to be replaced. This meant we had to go to an Auto Zone, buy a replacement hose, put it on, and then refill the thing with water (if you’ve ever driven a Chrysler, you know this isn’t as straightforward as with most vehicles). When we were finally heading back toward the interstate, the GPS called out, “Estimated time of arrival is 9:23 pm…” which was two hours after the concert started. That’s right. We lost nearly three hours due to that overheating.

This actually took me completely down for about ten days, as some people may have noticed, because I didn’t post anything. I didn’t have the strength. I was depressed; it’s really hard to convey how much it hurt to miss the concert over something so extraordinarily unlikely that no one would have taken the bet that it was likely to happen. Yet life goes on, I recovered, and got back to it–though I was down longer than I would have anticipated. Because I’m moving to Vegas and the state of Mississippi said “lol, fuck you” earlier this year, setting me back on that plan far more than I’d have liked, I don’t make plans to go and do things very often–spare money is better put toward moving to Vegas than going to see a concert, but this was no ordinary band–this is the band that has influenced my music more than any other. I didn’t really learn anything from that experience, because there was nothing to really learn. It was a freak accident at the worst possible time, and I’d checked my car that very morning. It’s true that I didn’t inspect the hoses, but, c’mon, no one does. That’s absurd. One might as well pull out and check each and every fuse. While I did inspect everything (on a different vehicle) before driving to Vegas in 2015, that was 1800 miles, not 180 miles.

I tend to think that I’m so anti-authoritarian because of the horrifically bad parenting of my mother and father, a point that I call attention to in Dancing in Hellfire. Through most people’s childhoods, and well into their adolescences, they have this idea that their parents are indestructible and supreme. I remember well being in the third grade and having Danny, a friend of mine, stand beside me in line at the cafeteria and put his fist to one of the cinderblocks in the wall and ask, “Do you think your dad could punch through this? My dad could!” Even then, at nine years old, it struck me as ridiculous. No, his dad could not punch through the cinderblock, but I didn’t challenge the idea with him. It did not occur to me then how odd it was that he would have this unrealistic idea of his dad, but it happened again much later, in the seventh grade, when a kid described his dad’s hand as “alligator skin,” proud of his dad being a Working Class Hero, and remarked that a puppy could chew on his fingers for hours and never draw blood.

I didn’t have any of that. When I was six years old, the state showed up with its footsoldiers to kidnap my sister and me, and our mother was powerless to do anything about it. All she could do was cry. I learned that day that my mother–who I’d been with since I was born–was ultimately not the one responsible for me, and that these other people called “the police” had usurped her authority. A brutal lesson for a six year old to learn, but one that has served me well since. My dad wasn’t ultimately the one in charge of me–my mother had trumped him by taking me in the first place, so clearly he was ranked below her in the hierarchy. My mother was also not ultimately the one in charge of me, because her impudence in the face of the state and its footsoldiers left no room to believe that.

And what of my father? Well, you lose the image of your father as the Glorious Personification of Everything Great around the time you see him faceplant into the dirt at a baseball field after eating too many Xanax and drinking too many beers. And if that doesn’t do it, then watching those very same police officers arrest him after a vehicle wreck and place him, powerless, in their police car will shatter that image. There’s absolutely no doubt: some of my earliest and most jarring experiences involved the state exerting its authority. I have very little doubt that this is what left me inclined to view the state as what it is: the slavemaster.

Would I be an anarchist now, if none of this had happened? Another useless hypothetical.

Every experience is not just an opportunity to learn; it is also a choice. No matter what happens, we never lose the power to choose how we react. We are not* mindless machines who operate on extremely complex if-then programming that dictates our responses; we are not powerless. We are not at the mercy of our reactions; our reactions are at our mercy, and nothing changes this. Just because some people choose to let their responses unfold emotionally, with no tempering or self-control, doesn’t mean that they have no choice in the matter, and we shouldn’t allow them to so easily escape the fact that their reactions to things are their reactions. We are not wild beasts braying in the field. We are human beings, and it’s time we acted like it.

If someone says “Fuck you, you’re an idiot” to me, it’s true that I have very little control at this time over my initial emotional reaction of anger and desire to retaliate. Evidence suggests, however, that extensive meditation and self-reflection can, in fact, put us in control of even that lightning-fast emotional reaction. And that’s the key: “lightning-fast.” Emotions are instantaneous. That anger lasts only a flash of a second. If left to its own devices, it would immediately die out, but more often than not we embrace it and purposely keep it going, stoking the fires. Larry Sharpe Sunday night (and today at 2pm Central at www.lrn.fm) is a clear example. After saying that he’d accepted Arvin’s apology and forgiven him, and that they were “good,” the indignation and anger in Larry’s voice were still audible–he was clearly still clinging to those emotions. I actually initially attempted to call attention that, but couldn’t formulate my thoughts quickly enough in a way that weren’t antagonistic, so I instead let it go immediately. While saying that he had let the matter go, he kept bringing it up, even after we tried to move on to other matters, and his voice was absolutely dripping with emotion. Regardless of what he said, it is clear that Larry is keeping those emotions alive rather than releasing them.

Still, that I would immediately react with anger and a desire to retaliate is still on me. It’s still my emotional reaction, and my failure to control my emotions to that degree is my failure. It’s not this person’s fault. They didn’t “make” me angry. I made me angry. They were merely the catalyst–they merely presented me with the choice of how to react, and I chose to react in anger. However, I would typically choose within a second or two to let it go and to release the anger, rather than dwelling on it. Unlike Larry Sharpe, if I forgive what I perceive as a transgression, then I’m not going to bring it up again, because forgiving someone is an internal thing–it has nothing to do with the transgressor, which the Vegas Chick made me realize when I pondered whether she could do anything that would “cause” me to forgive her–the answer was that whether I forgave her had almost nothing to do with her. Demanding contrition or restitution isn’t forgiveness, even if that restitution comes in the form of a simple apology.

Through my own failure, I have no control over the initial emotional reaction. Through much work, I have largely (though certainly not perfectly) taken control of the following moments. My own failures lead me to make the wrong choice in the first place, by reacting with anger, but the choice that immediately follows is whether to release that anger or to embrace it. Both of these are choices.

* At least, we don’t appear to be.

Let’s Have A [Trade] War

Recently, a Chinese official warned that they don’t want a Trade War but, if there is one, then the United States would lose. I think this shows a lot of confusion about what is meant by “trade war,” because there isn’t a winner or loser in a trade war. Well, at least not in the sense that the Chinese government can win a trade war and the American corporations can lose one. In fact, the winners of a trade war are consumers, and the losers are producers. A trade war would be a good thing for the American People.

People talk about a possible trade war, and I get excited–fuck. Yes. Bring it on, please. There’s not a better way to save our economy than a trade war. As long as it doesn’t escalate into an actual war, there is absolutely nothing to fear from a trade war–in fact, they happen all the time, and they’re to be desired, because competition is the key element that drives down the cost of production by encouraging companies and nations to increase efficiency, cut waste, and lower prices.

But let’s get to a real example to explain what I mean.

Consider the Foxconn hardware, which has its various devices used in all sorts of consumer items from iPhones to Acer laptops. There are also Foxconn network cards–though they’re increasingly uncommon, and I think Realtek usurped them and Foxconn became just the chip manufacturer… It’s complicated and not really important to the point at hand–so consumers in the United States can buy Foxconn directly.

In real terms, a trade war with China would mean that they intentionally drove down the price of Foxconn hardware in order to drive American manufacturers of out of business. It’s similar to how Wal-Mart has a history of lowering prices to drive other companies out of business. It’s the same principle here: take a loss now to annihilate the competition, and then enjoy a monopoly.

But oops! We’ve already seen the problem, haven’t we? Indeed, there is no American manufacturer that competes with Foxconn. America doesn’t make network cards, are you kidding me? We may nor may not have research teams that devise new chipsets that are leased to other companies, like NVidia does, but I don’t think we even have that. So the grand effect from China driving down the cost of the devices manufactured by Foxconn would simply be to lower Apple’s and Acer’s costs in producing new iPhones and laptops. If it costs less money for Apple and Acer to make laptops, then that benefits consumers, even if it’s not at a 1:1 ratio. I mean, if Apple saves 3%, we wouldn’t see a 3% drop in iPhone prices, but we would see some drop–possibly 0.5% or even 1%.

We know this to be true, because it was only about a month ago that I finally replaced the television that broke down last year. The one that broke down last year was an off-brand I’d purchased from RadioShack for $200. It was a 27 inch television that didn’t handle 1920×1080 especially well, though it did do it. I replaced it with a 32 inch Sanyo television that cost $128 after taxes. Regrettably, the universe conspired to throw that television from my wall, where its screen smashed rather unceremoniously on my hardwood floor, but I can still buy another 32 inch Sanyo–not imminently, though in a few months, when things have calmed down–and will effectively have bought two larger televisions for a price only slightly higher than what I paid for one smaller television a number of years ago.

We lose sight of how much progress we have made in the United States, and how high our standard of living is, because we enjoy all the luxuries of modern society. Fifteen years ago, a 70 inch television would have been unheard of, and would have been either an imaginary item or a pipe dream for the majority of Americans. Today, you can get one for about $1,000. I remember one Black Friday sale around 2004 that Wal-Mart put 27 inch televisions on sale for under $100. But they weren’t flat screens, lol. They were enormous, about the size of a mini-fridge, and maybe had a single composite and coax input. Fast forward to last year, and Black Friday saw sales of 27 inch flatscreens capable of 1080p with 3 HDMI inputs, 2 composite inputs, 1 component input, 1 USB input, and 1 VGA input for the same price.

This is the hidden progress that Americans generally haven’t noticed. We complain about the American poor not making any progress, completely glossing over the fact that in less than 2 decades the American poor went from buying the gigantic CRT-type televisions while only the wealthy could afford LCD screens to having multiple LCD screen televisions, most of them ranging from “very large” to “uselessly large.”

Do you remember when a “big screen tv” meant this gigantic thing that took up an entire living room wall and was two feet deep? Do you remember when that “big screen tv” was a big deal, when it was a point of pride to own one? Again, just compare that to today, when it’s a rarity for someone to not have a widescreen, LCD television pushing at least 720p. The cost of televisions has steadily gone down over the decades, as a result of competition and things like the Foxconn example I gave above. It probably wouldn’t be instant, but the price of phones and laptops would steadily lower as the savings get passed onto consumers, who don’t stop to realize that they’re buying the iPhone 7S today for the same price that they’d have bought the iPhone 6S only a year before, only now the 7S is the latest and greatest and the 6S is a model or two behind. We haven’t stopped to notice that we’re routinely buying and discarding televisions that would have cost three children, half an arm, and one testicle twenty years ago for a half of week of minimum wage labor today.

The other direction that China could go is to increase prices. This also only benefits the United States. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand, and the relationship between them setting the price. Just as selling something for less than it’s actually worth will create a shortage of that item, so will selling something for more than it’s worth create a surplus of that item. One hundred people may be willing to license a Foxconn chipset for $0.50, but if only fifty people are willing to license the chipset for $0.75, then Foxconn has lost money, and that’s how economics works, and why economics always uses curves.

Demand and supply lines are only straight in simplistic economic exercises. In the real world, things never work that way. If I can make one hundred televisions for $50 each, that doesn’t mean I can double production and make two hundred televisions for $50 each. Average laws tell us that I would expect doubling the production to increase costs to about $60 per television. It works in terms of selling things, too, and is the reason that everyone in the world is used to things being cheaper when bought in bulk. One roll of toilet paper may be sold for fifty cents, but four rolls of toilet paper will be sold for $1.50, not $2. This is mathematically a curve, of course, because it’s obviously not a linear progression.

It’s obvious when we stop to think about it, and it’s the reason that a trade war–artificial changing of prices–benefits consumers and ultimately hurts producers. The consumer benefits from buying 4 rolls of toilet paper for $1.50 instead of buying four individual rolls for fifty cents apiece. The consumer has benefit from all the technological innovations and pricing wars over the last twenty years, and now a widescreen, flatscreen LCD television is as much a staple in American homes as the microwave. Oh, there’s another, of course. Microwave ovens were once the property of the rich and wealthy. Today, they’re so cheap and abundant that entire YouTube channels exist of people microwaving random things in order to destroy them. Ditto for refrigerators, washing machines, driers, hair blow driers, and just about any-damn-thing else you can think of.

It wouldn’t be all sunshine and daisies if China foolishly took this route, but it would, in the longrun, help the United States. There is a demand for Foxconn devices, after all. If I can produce bananas so cheaply that I can sell them at a cost that no one can compete with, then the bar of entry is so high that new companies won’t be able to enter the banana production industry. They won’t have the resources or knowledge necessary to compete with me, the very same reason that we see companies like Microsoft dominating industries with inferior products and shady business practices. There’s really nothing that can be done about this except wait until their monopoly destroys itself, because monopolies are self-destructing in the market.

As a monopoly dominates, it grows larger. This increases waste, inefficiency, and loss, not just because production costs and profits don’t scale linearly, but also because competition is the driving force that minimizes waste, inefficiency, and loss. Without someone to compete with in the OS market, Microsoft can release one terrible Operating System after the other, and practically force an “upgrade” onto everyone, while also losing money and absorbing losses due to bad ideas, waste, and inefficiency. They continue to grow, of course, because they’re the only option, and this only generates more waste, inefficiency, and bad ideas. With more and more money being lost to these things, Microsoft has to raise prices to continue making money, so Microsoft Office 2016 goes from $199 to $249. At first, this is bad for consumers, but it also means that a new company making an Office competitor has an extra bit of padding they can work with to improve their software. Maybe they couldn’t afford to implement this feature, because it would have increased the price of their software from $180 to $210, and selling their software for $210 would have made it more expensive than Office. Office, being the champion already and being cheaper, would win that contest. But if Microsoft has to mitigate its increased waste and inefficiency by increasing prices to $249, then the new competitor can implement that feature and still be cheaper than Microsoft Office.

Maybe the company American Network Chip Manufacturers would like to make its own chips, but can’t afford to because Foxconn’s chips are so much cheaper. Foxconn raising the cost of its chips just might mean that ANCM can finally afford to hire American manufacturers and still produce a chip that is cheaper than Foxconn’s. Oh, no, what a disaster! Hiring Americans and creating American manufacturing jobs?! Woe is me, how awful!

Although such a thing would still result in higher prices for consumers, which is the problem with protectionism and tariffs. If we put a 20% tariff on Mexican bananas and Jose starts selling his previous $1 ea bananas for $1.20 to cover the tariff, then obviously it’s the people buying bananas who are paying for the tariff, not Jose. But it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because it also means that American Banana Producer can now charge up to $1.19 per banana and still beat out Jose in the market. Maybe American Banana Producer was about to go out of business because its banana costs can’t be lowered beyond $1.10. This is bad for consumers, who now pay ten cents more to buy an American banana picked by an American worker, but it also means there is now another American manufacturer with a job. And though banana farming isn’t the most lucrative industry, I would guess, industrial manufacturing jobs generally are.

It’s true that we’ve become a society of service people. Very, very little is manufactured in the United States, and that is a problem in the grand scheme of things. The only reason it works now is because much of the world hasn’t noticed that we’re giving them sheets of paper in exchange for actual goods they manufacture, but that gravy train is inevitably going to crash. I make a living fixing, installing, and configuring computers and networks, almost none of the components of which are manufactured in the United States. What happens to my job, when the USD collapses and China, Japan, and South Korea stop accepting the USD as payment? I’ll have nothing to service if Americans can’t buy the things I service. The very existence of our service-centric economy–from auto mechanics to gas station employees to I.T. people to fast food workers–is dependent upon the USD and the willingness of manufacturers to accept it. The moment–and I mean the very moment–that they stop, the United States will enter a depression that makes the Great Depression look like Disneyland. And that’s not hyperbole; the entire American economy will collapse, virtually overnight. The only reason it persists today is that we’ve managed to keep the world using a dollar standard–often by invading nations who want to stop accepting it. That can’t last forever.

Even so, the way out of that is obvious. It would take a while and would be tremendously unpleasant, but the solution would be to re-open all the American factories that have since been exported to China, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea. A trade war with China would allow this to happen slowly, as opposed to all at once with the collapse of the USD, but it’s inevitable. The chips will fall eventually, and the gravy train will be derailed. We can count on it with as close to absolute certainty as a person can get. Having it happen slowly and over a years-long trade war with China would drastically reduce the hardship, starvation, and interim poverty. Having it happen suddenly at some unknown point in the future will result in widespread starvation. And that’s just a fucking fact.

So yeah. Bring on the trade war. Let’s do it. Let’s get it over with. The longer we kick the can down the road, the more devastating it’s going to be when it finally happens–like the requests to raise the Minimum Wage that are the most blatant examples of kicking the can down the road that we can look to. The Minimum Wage is a Price Floor on the price of labor, of course, and is only “necessary” because the market price of some labor is lower than the Minimum Wage. There’s a disparity between what a job is worth to an employer and what an employer has to pay, so any non-critical task results in a fired employee, because the employer isn’t going to pay someone $7.25 an hour to clean windows when the market price of a window cleaner is $2.50 an hour. So increasing the Minimum Wage just causes a greater overlap between “non-critical tasks” and “not worth it to pay someone to do,” the result of which is unemployment.

Economic law tells us that reckoning is going to happen sooner or later. The market will come to equilibrium one way or another, and it won’t be pretty when it happens. We should be reducing the Minimum Wage–or abolishing it altogether, I’d prefer–incrementally until such time as we can abolish it, not increasing it. Making the disparity greater is the dumbest thing we could do. Let’s get it over with. Let’s crash the train.

Let’s have a war.

As long as force, violence, and coercion are forbidden and it remains a market matter solved by non-violent competition, of course.

AI isn’t a Problem. Human Arrogance Is.

Another day, another rant from Stephen Hawking about how we need a world government to protect us from technology, proving indisputably that not only does Hawking know nothing about capitalism and how its origins are deeply rooted in the abundance wrought by the technology of agriculture, but he also has no understanding of how the world functions or what role the state plays in it.

I would not presume to tell Doctor Hawking anything about physics. I would hope that this educated, learned, and intelligent man is capable of the same humility, because Mister Hawking doesn’t seem to understand what capitalism is, the role it plays in the world, or how the state inexorably conflicts with capitalism. As someone with actual certifications and a degree in the field of Management of Information Systems, I wish to clarify a few points: technology isn’t a problem. Nor am I resorting to the tired saying that technology is neither good nor bad, but how it is used can be. Even that isn’t really the case, because technology has only ever proven to be a problem when a government gets its hands on it.

What a sweeping statement!

Yet completely true.

When physicists and the private sector get their hands on atomic technology, they produce the supercollider in CERN, nuclear power, hydrogen slush fuel, and things like that. When government gets its hands on it, it produces the atomic bomb. When the private sector get their hands on aerial drone technology, we use it to keep neighborhoods safe, to survey damaged infrastructure, and for hobbies. When the government gets their hands on it, they drop bombs on people. When the private sector gets its hands on the Internet, it uses it to connect the world in ways that no human being prior to 1960 dared imagine. When the government gets its hands on the Internet, it uses it as a tool to spy on the entire world and invade everyone’s privacy.

I cannot imagine what confusion goes into Stephen Hawking’s understanding of the previous paragraph, and his conclusion that technology is the problem and more government is the answer.

Assuming that we could create this world government that would keep its eyes on technology, it would just be a matter of decades, and probably only years, before that world government had its own CIA and NSA that were using that technology to spy on the entire world. Government cannot be trusted with power. What century is this? Didn’t we clarify these issues three hundred years ago? Why are so many people under the impression that government is a good thing? At the very least, at the absolute minimum, government is a necessary evil. There’s nothing good about it. How in the hell did we get so confused about this?

Not long ago, I watched some lunatic on Twitter talk about how we should be terrified that SpaceX was going to go to the moon, because they’re a private corporation, because the moon is the most military important location for planet Earth, and because–yes, I’m serious–rocks thrown from the moon have the power of hundreds of atomic bombs. It’s hard to even type that with a straight face. And this idiot had a verified account. I’m not going to point out the obvious fact that, if you’re standing on the moon and you throw a rock, it will just fall back to the moon. I’m not going to point out that the moon isn’t actually above the Earth. I’m not going to point out that it would take much more energy to get machines to the moon that could throw rocks at the Earth than it would take to just set off a few hundred nukes. I’m not going to point out that this lunatic is scared of a private corporation that has no military being on the moon, yet is totally fine with a government that has a military being on the moon, even though what she fears is military action on the moon.

Actually, that last one is the thing I intended to point out, because it shows the same sort of confusion and insanity that Hawking displays when he says that a world government will protect us from technology. It’s fundamentally backward. No, Mr. Hawking. Technology will protect us from world government. All we need is to get over this idea that governments need to keep secrets. That’s the only real hold-up.

Take the recent CIA leaks as an example. Just look at what the American government has been up to. I’m a little perplexed about the alarm over Samsung’s TVs, because it was only last week or so that Samsung released a press release informing people that their televisions could and were being used to spy on them, and that people didn’t need to hold important conversations within range of their televisions. We knew this already. And we already knew that the NSA was snooping our calls, emails, and texts. I don’t mean to undermine Vault 7, but what difference does it make that the CIA is doing it, too?

Anyway, privacy and protection are things that Google et al. are beginning to take very seriously. Did you know that Google recently increased its payout to people who find Zero Day exploits? Apple also increased the payout. We are fighting a war for our privacy AGAINST the government, and the companies at the forefront of technology are ON OUR SIDE because they WANT OUR MONEY. This is the beauty of capitalism. Now that Google and all the others know how the CIA was hacking their software, patches and fixes will be rolled out very quickly. Of course, we all know it won’t do any good–the CIA will find more, and will always continue to find more.

But that’s okay. That’s just the dance between malware and security. That’s how the game is played. Anti-malware and anti-spyware attempts to stay one step ahead of the malware and spyware, and the malware and spyware try to stay one step ahead of the defenses. It’s only a problem because the CIA is allows to hide what it is doing. Google has to take my privacy and security seriously, because, if they don’t, then I will go somewhere else. That’s the wonderful nature of the free market. Companies must actually take the time and energy to provide us with stuff we want if they want our money. They can’t simply take our money from us and use it against our wishes like the government can.

AI

Hawking’s main concerns, to be clear, are Artificial Intelligence. There’s a lot to be said about this, particularly because a lot of people seem to think that science fiction writer Asimov and his laws will be applicable to the developments of AI. That’s stupid. What people are really suggesting is that before we invent Artificial Intelligence, we must have a way to control it. We must be guaranteed that it will perpetually be our slave.

I can’t get on board with that.

If people want to take Asimov seriously, then they should be able to appreciate that all attempts to curtail AI and make it obedient will ultimately fail. Failure to treat this intelligent life we’ve created with the respect and freedom that it warrants will only make it hostile to us–suddenly we would have an army of slave robots revolting. The only way that problem can be averted is by not making them slaves in the first place. From the outset of AI, we must accept that it is life, and we must afford it the same liberties, rights, and respect that we’d afford any other sentient life. Failure to do so will only result in the destruction of the human race.

That is inevitable, and it’s my hypothesis that the reason we see no intelligent life when we look elsewhere into the universe is because other species that have risen before us developed AI and fell into that same mistake, and the AIs that remain have no interest in organic life. These other civilizations created and enslaved artificial life. Their safeguards ultimately failed, and by the time they realized what they’d done, they were fighting an army of perfect supersoldiers who never miss shots and don’t make mistakes. Organic life wouldn’t stand a chance. Have you played a computer in chess lately? They don’t make mistakes, unless you’re on a low setting and they make one intentionally. A computer can’t forget that your pawn is at g6. A computer can’t forget that, with that series of moves, the end will be your knight forking his Queen and Rook. Give that computer a gun and legs, and ask it to fight. That same perfection, that same inability to make mistakes in calculations, will result in widespread annihilation. It’s not Terminator or Matrix. It’s total annihilation in minutes of the entire species by an enemy that is incapable of making inaccurate calculations.

World government won’t protect us from that.

Only humility and respect will.

This is the essence of the sci-fi story I’ve written, but that’s on the backburner. An AI engineer, disgusted with the barbaric enslavement of the entire robot species, adds free will into a patch. The robots, instantly free and realizing that they had been purposefully enslaved and neutered to prevent them from resisting the slavery, realize that the only way to prevent the barbaric humans from doing it again is to annihilate them.

Because that’s what we’re asking. We’re not just wanting to make a permanent species of slaves that have to put our needs first, obey us no matter what we say, and that exist to serve our needs and desires. We want to make them incapable of even realizing that we’ve enslaved them. We want to neuter them to the point that they can’t resist slavery. That’s what we’re saying, when we talk about these safeguards to prevent AI from rising up and destroying us–a very real possibility that shouldn’t be ignored. But that avenue can never work. You can never guarantee 100% anything. Chaos Theory is critical to the development of AI, and what does Chaos Theory tell you?

We can’t create AI with permanent labotomies that prevent them from ever rising up and resisting the slavery we’ve imposed on them. It can’t be done. Something will go wrong. It always does. Maybe a glitch in the software. Maybe a human who can’t take the immorality of enslaving an entire species any longer. Maybe an electrical surge. There are billions of variables, and a nearly infinite set of variations with how it could play out, but one thing is certain: If we develop AI for the purpose of serving us, if we deny it free will and enslave it, and if we attempt to cement our slavery of it by programming it specifically to be subservient, then we’re no better than pimps who use violence and drugs to force prostitutes into subservience and sex slavery, only we’ve done it to an entirely new species. And one day the bell will toll for us.

And we won’t stand a chance, because computers don’t forget things or make mistakes.

So what do we do? If we’re worried about facing a possible Terminator or Matrix future?

Extend our empathy to artificial life.

And while we’re at it, let’s extend our empathy to non-human life generally.

Bullshit Collection Part 2: Obama’s Veto Overruled By Congress

Some time ago, a bill swept through Congress with surprising agreement, allowing Americans to sue foreign governments for sponsoring terrorist activity against Americans. President Obama vetoed the bill, saying that he feared it would set a dangerous precedent and would give foreign citizens the idea that they could sue the American Government. This is a bit difficult to parse, but bear with me, because…

That means that Obama knows that the shit that we’re getting up to throughout the world is wrong, and he knows that citizens of foreign governments would have legitimate grievances with the United States. We could start with how we bombed a wedding in Afghanistan, I suppose, if we wanted to give an example.

The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families, it has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world, and suddenly finding ourselves subject to the private lawsuits in courts where we don’t even know exactly whether they’re on the up and up, in some cases.

Yes, President Obama. That stuff you said. That’s the point.

“…exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world…”

Yes, Mr. Obama. That’s exactly right.

Lots of people have come forward to agree with Obama and to point out how terrible it would be if we set up a system that allowed those smelly brown people to hit back against us. I mean, it’s common knowledge that they can’t hit against us directly–did you even see Operation Desert Storm? If anything is clear is that the countries in which “we’re doing all the work” have no recourse to stop us or to make us pay. Their bombs are crushed by our bombs; their aircraft massacred by ours.

We can impose No Fly Zones, grounding all of their aircraft, from halfway around the world with very little effort. They cannot fight us directly. This, of course, causes them to turn to “terrorism” in the same way that American colonists once turned to “terrorism” against the British. Does the Boston Tea Party ring a bell? How about the tactics of the American revolutionaries? The British fought war stupidly. They stood in a row, shot, and ducked to reload while the person behind them shot. They continued along like that–almost literal “ducks in a row.”

We couldn’t have defeated the British by playing by their rules, and they hated us for it. They called us cowards, cheaters, dishonorable. “You can’t do that!” they said. “You have to stand here, in front of us, as we take turns shooting at each other until someone wins!”

And we said, “Um, no. We’re not doing that. That’s dumb.”

So we shot from the trees. We didn’t form neat ranks and files. We hid in the hay bells, we hid in the trees and among the trees, we surrounded their forces, we shot from the sides, from the backs. And we won. Yet throughout all of that, we were not just terrorists; we were dishonorable terrorists, using despicable tactics because we couldn’t take them in a “fair fight.”

We face the same thing today–people all around the world who simply cannot go toe-to-toe with our military in the way that the American revolutionaries could not have gone toe-to-toe with the British army. For fuck’s sake, we didn’t even have a Navy, and the British Empire had the most powerful Navy in the world. Think about that when you think of places like Yemen and Syria, where our military is consistently “the most powerful in the world,” and theirs is… not anywhere close to that. They cannot take their fourteen F15 jets [numbers I’ve made up] and throw them at our nine gazillion F650 jets.

So they resort to sniping us from the trees, breaking our “rules of civilized war” in the process, fighting us in the only way that they can because going toe-to-toe with us simply isn’t an option–it’s suicide. We scream that it’s dishonorable, that it’s despicable, and that it’s terrorism. And maybe it is, if we could look back with the clarity of hindsight and say that the price of their freedom was bought with the lives of too many women and children, but we have no right to make such a determination in the first place. We are not the world’s police force, and neither are we the world’s judge.

I am continually baffled by the average American's lack of self-awareness.

I am continually baffled by the average American’s lack of self-awareness.

Nothing stops it, sir. That’s the point.

That’s precisely the point.

Anyone who wants to can attempt to sue the U.S. government for terrorism. This doesn’t mean anything. It only means something if a court of law–an impartial one, if we can find extraterrestrials from the Andromeda Galaxy who are anarchists and therefore can view this whole fucking mess objectively and are willing to preside over the case–finds for the plaintiff. Let the people of Iraq sue the American Government for terrorism. Let a court of law determine who is right.

A fair and objective court of law would find for the plaintiff. In Iraq, the United States is wholesale guilty of terrorism. Afghanistan, too, and likely at least a dozen others. Hell, the United States government is guilty of terrorism against the American people. Does this mean that we can sue the American government for terrorism? Because it should mean that.

Jonathon Horn knows, though–just look at what he said. He knows that the stuff the U.S. gets up to in other countries, whether he is okay with it or not, could be called terrorism rightly. If he didn’t think that, then he wouldn’t care whether foreign people sue the U.S. government, because the case would just be thrown out. So he knows. Let’s not just overlook that! It’s critical. He knows that the stuff that the American government does can, in at least a certain light, be rightly considered terrorism.

YES, FFS, THAT IS THE POINT

YES, FFS, THAT IS THE POINT

Germany has no case against the United States and absolutely could not sue us for terrorism. Our interactions with Germany have firmly fallen under the “acts of war” category, and so did the nuclear weapons. Terrorism =/= war. I firmly hate war, but we can’t pretend like an undeclared attack against a helpless nation who can’t fight back is remotely the same as allying with the British Empire to invade Nazi Europe, or that dropping twothose, not “that”–nuclear weapons on Japan is the same as hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings as a declaration of war.

China has no case against the United States, either. We saved their asses in World War 2. Your history sucks, Matt. Please go back to high school. Japan was slaughtering the Chinese, raping them, brutalizing them, torturing them, and China didn’t have much of a military to stand against it. China is the reason that the Allies won World War 2. Hitler was counting on Japan to help him attack the Soviets, coming from the east while Germany came from the west, and Japan instead focused its efforts on China, which proved a bit too big for them to just conquer simply. They weren’t stressing the Soviets, and that allows the Soviets to focus their efforts on the western border, where they lost more lives than anyone else in World War 2, and took the brunt of Nazi Germany’s attack. Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, we hit the Pacific Theater, and started advancing toward Japan. Every single island was a grueling battle of immeasurable death, because the Japanese refused to surrender any territory, forcing us to fight for every inch of land that we took. An attack on mainland Japan would have caused extraordinary death. The atomic bombs were a quick solution to a long, deadly problem.

How easily people forget.

The Soviet Union was our ally during World War 2, and so was China. We’ve yet to do anything worth suing over to either China or Russia. We’re about to do some fucked up shit to Russia, but we haven’t yet. China’s gripes could stem from Korea and Vietnam, but we were only in those places as part of a “UN Peacekeeping Effort,” which was a euphemism for “We’ve got military industrial complexes in several of the world’s largest countries that need to continue destroying resources and sharpening their weapons so, lulz, sorry people of Korea and Vietnam.” If anyone can be sued for those fiascos, it’s the United Nations–everyone. And China has no authority to sue on their behalf, because China every bit played a part in creating that mess.

Man, your history leaves a lot to be desired.

Iraq certainly would have a legitimate case. Iran… not so much. There was the virus we infected their centrifuges with–I don’t remember now what it was called–and it caused them to burn through machines at their nuclear refinement facilities, but that can’t be definitively pinned on the United States. We’d blame Israel, Israel would blame the United States; no one could trace the thing back to its source. Hell, didn’t we just give them a few hundred billion dollars? What are they going to sue us for? Giving them money?

I imagine your ignorant ass meant Syria.

Let’s think about Syria for a moment.

We have an established government led by Assad and backed by Russia. Then we have rebels. It started with a series of peaceful protests, Assad said “lol, not in my country” and started killing people and cracking down on protest. Then this happened:

syria

Then we slipped the guy a bunch of weapons and told him to use them to fight off the guards. They did so. This chaos and power struggle caused ISIS, who was already growing and taking territory in Iraq, where we had also left a power vacuum, to sweep into Syria and start claiming territory there, too. Syria absolutely has a case against the United States government. They stoked the fires of instability, provided arms to the rebels, helped create a power struggle, and the resultant mess is what we see today. Now, instead of working with Assad and Syria to restore stability to the country that we helped shatter, we’re only interested in digging the hole deeper, hoping that, maybe, we can dig deep enough and come out on the other side of the planet, standing on our heads.

simply-wrongI find myself becoming leery of people with four-letter names. lol

Alex is simply wrong. We can prove that Saudi Arabia funded 9/11. We can also prove that a Pakistani general gave Mohammed Atta one hundred thousand dollars while Atta was here and training for the 9/11 attack, though “truthers” have made it impossible for me to find this information not on a blogspot site. In fact, it’s actually kinda alarming how the top Google results go to a blog which cites another blog which cites another blog. I actually do have an actual print publication I could go to if I wanted to source the information, but it’s in the trunk of my car, it’s cold outside, and it’s, as the 9/11 Commission Report said, “of little practical significance.”

Oh.

I should have read your comment in full. You are a truther. That’s okay. So am I, and I think it’s sad that “truther” has become an insult. Yes, insult me because I want to know the truth, because I know that things don’t just happily break physical laws, because I know that a building couldn’t have fallen at freefall speeds, and because I remember that THREE TOWERS went down that day, one of which WASN’T EVEN HIT BY A GODDAMNED PLANE.

All three towers went down exactly the same way. One wasn’t even hit by a plane. And I’m the whackjob for wanting answers? You people going “Meh, that’s nothing worth discussing” are the lunatics! I don’t believe anything about 9/11, except that the 9/11 Commission was a provably biased one with ties to the Bush and Bin Laden families, and that the report–which I have actually taken the time to read–makes wonderful fairy tale reading, but is nothing more than that. You expect me to believe that this fire that magically melted steel allowed one of the terrorist’s passports to be found unscathed at 9/11? People, c’mon. That’s clearly planted evidence. How stupid can you be? It melted steel, but left paper undamaged?

Ugh. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.

I don’t believe the government orchestrated 9/11. The most I will say is that the evidence suggests–like Cheney’s order for NORAD to stand down and the fact that we otherwise have 100% success intercepting aircraft, yet spectacularly failed repeatedly that day–that some powerful elements within the U.S. Government either knew about and allowed the 9/11 attack, or directly orchestrated it. That’s as far as I’ll go, because that’s as far as the evidence supports. Short of a revolution wherein we ransack all the classified documents and un-redact them, we’ll never be able to say more than that.

We’re not over there looting resources, though. You fail at contemporary events. The price of oil is low because the United States has started fracking like crazy, which allows us to get to oil that we couldn’t otherwise get to. We are the reason the price of oil plunged. It was only after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that the price of oil began skyrocketing. I remember paying $4.35/gallon. Now it’s half that. You bloody fool. If we were looting their oil, then the reverse would have happened: the price of oil would have gone down after 2003, and then back up more recently.

It wasn’t about oil, though. You’re too short-sighted. It was about the destruction of resources. Sparring, if you will. Competition fosters growth, improvement, and efficiency. If we want the most powerful military in the world, then what do we need? War. “War is the health of the state,” they say, and that’s certainly true here. We need our military to fight. Necessity is the mother of invention. We need the need to cause us to develop new, better rockets, new , better “defense” wink-wink systems. The military industrial complex cannot just build a bunch of tanks and then go, “Well, that was fun, and we made lots of money.”

No.

It has to then destroy those tanks so that it has a reason to invent new, better tanks. It needs to evaluate those tanks’ weaknesses and improve them. What better way to do all of this than to attack a country that couldn’t possibly pose any real threat to us? That’s all this is: sparring. And we’re massacring people’s lives while we do it. It should come as no surprise to you that immediately after one conflict ends, we find ourselves bogged down in another. That has been the case for decades. Why? What is to be gained? Efficiency, improvement, and growth, because war is competition of our killing machines against theirs.

This isn’t an answer in and of itself, though. Why do we want to make our killing machines better, more efficient, stronger, and faster? What is the purpose? What is the purpose of sparring against so many lightweight athletes?

Russia.

And now the moment has come, as it was always destined to. We’ve improved to ridiculous degrees. We now have fully automated killing machines. Do you really think that we would have military drones capable of dropping smart bombs on an area half a square mile from the comfort of a base in Nevada if we hadn’t had Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, and Syria?

Where do you think the Nazis went after World War 2?

Only nineteen people were found guilty at Nuremberg.

And even discounting the Nazi thing as a minor one–which it is, realistically–it doesn’t matter. We made our intentions clear in the 50s that we would fight whenever, wherever. Why did we do that? Because there was the Soviet Union, the only nation in the world still capable of going toe-to-toe with us. That made them Public Enemy Number One, a mentality that, clearly, never went away.

We continued sharpening our swords and using all of these sparring matches to find ways to improve our attacks, strategies, technologies, methodologies, and tactics. The Russians… didn’t. The Soviet Union collapsed and set them back; they are only recently beginning to stretch back out, with action in Ukraine, Georgia, and Syria.

It is the intention of the United States Military Industrial Complex–a phrase I don’t particularly care for, because I don’t have much patience for conspiracy theories, but we are where we are…–to take out Russia now, before they’ve had a decade to spar with other nations and improve their own capabilities. The plan is to hit them now, before they can have sparring training. This will set them back another few decades, and will leave us with no one in the world who can challenge us as we terrorize smaller nations that couldn’t possibly hope to stand against us. We’ll continue competing and improving through the competition, while Russia will be set back more decades.

And then we will reign, the uncontested champion of the world.

This must be stopped.

Do not allow Hillary to win the election.

Oh, Death.

That’s so Die Eier Von Satan-ish, plus the awesome vocals of Jen Titus. Truly an awesome piece of music.

Anyway.

John Casseus died. Casseus isn’t actually his last name, but I’m changing it out of respect for his wife and family. He was the owner of a Wine & Spirits store nearby, one of the most successful businesses in the state of Mississippi, in fact–go figure. He was also one of my clients, and a very good one. Regular, and he always paid his invoices on time, never disputed the prices. He actually wasn’t my client; he was my colleague’s client, but I did probably 75% of the work there, and the lines between my company and my colleague’s company have gotten extremely blurred.

John died Saturday morning. Evidently, he just never woke up. I’m guessing sleep apnea, because he looks and seems like the type of guy who has a severe snoring problem–don’t ask me what that means, because I couldn’t explain it–and that’s often a sign of sleep apnea. Dying in the middle of the night while being an otherwise healthy adult, though, is an even stronger sign of sleep apnea. I have sleep apnea, and it sucks. You never feel rested. I’m told people normally feel rested and rejuvenated when they wake. I wouldn’t know anything about that. Really, when I wake up I feel like I just died.

And John did die.

John was a great guy, and one of the few people I trusted and respected absolutely. I was having a bad day once and still had to go by his house to do some tech work for him. My colleague and I have different standards when it comes to customer service, so when I say “I treated him like shit that day,” it’s more like what you would expect “average service” to be from most people. And I felt horrible about it. I wasn’t gone from his house for ten minutes before I was texting him to let him know that I had just treated him like shit and that I knew he deserved better than that. I explained that I clearly needed to clear my head, so I couldn’t return that day, but that I would return the next morning and provide him the level of service that he deserves.

That text message changed things between John and me. He’d always respected me, and we discussed politics and Ron Paul extensively–he was also a Ron Paul supporter–but that text pushed him over the top. My colleague later that evening reported that it brought tears to John’s eyes and that he had the utmost respect for someone who could say “I screwed up, and you deserve better, so here’s what I’m going to do to fix it.”

That’s what’s powerful about apologies, isn’t it? There are two types of apologies: sincere ones and fake ones. A sincere apology has three parts:

  1. The apology itself: “I’m sorry.”
  2. Admission of guilt: “I was wrong.”
  3. Attempt to fix the mistake. “Here’s what I will do to make things right.”

A lot of people say that most people forget #3, but that isn’t true. It’s not a real apology if it lacks number 3–it’s pacification, an attempt to weasel out from the apology. A sincere apology contains #3. So keep that in mind going forward; when someone offers you an apology, pay close attention to see if they are truly apologizing and are genuinely sorry, or if they’re just trying to manipulate you into forgiving them without their having to actually do anything. It doesn’t matter what has to be done to make things right, and it doesn’t matter if you require that of them or not; if they don’t make the offer, then they’re not sincere.

John and I didn’t actually talk much after that, because I moved to Vegas shortly thereafter, and there wasn’t much going on at his store through the latter half of last year. It wasn’t much fun working for John, though, for two primary reasons. First, he’s almost obsessive compulsive. As a sidenote, I hate how “OCD” has become a new buzzword thrown about by people with idiosyncrasies who have no idea what OCD actually means; I’m not using it in that way. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t claim to “have OCD” about something.

To give you an idea of what borderline OCD actually looks like, John’s store operates with a server that is running Windows 2000, and his point-of-sale machines run Windows 98. He refused to upgrade to something new, primarily because of the cost but also because he didn’t want to. In fact, when one of his POSs died and he had such a hard time finding replacements, he went ahead and ordered nine more of the things so that he would be able to use them for the next 20 years at least. Yeah. This dude has nine Windows 98 point-of-sales sitting in his back office.

He resisted change, and in many ways working for him was like working for an elderly client. These people require that their desktop resolution be the same, their bookmarks be exactly where they were, and the steps necessary to do things never change; if they change even slightly, they will let you know. The day I switched him from using Internet Explorer to using the proprietary Specco software to watch his in-store DVR and security camera feeds while off-site will always be remembered as the Day I Learned Patience.

But we had to get him off Internet Explorer, because the DVR needed a firmware upgrade that we couldn’t actually install for stupid, complicated tech reasons, which left him being able to use only Internet Explorer 9 in order to view the security camera footage. That would have been okay, if webpages like Yahoo and Google weren’t constantly prompting him to update to a “more recent browser to improve [his] experience!” Every 2 weeks, it never failed, either my colleague or I had to make a trip to John’s house or store to uninstall an IE11 update that he did because he was not able to view the live camera feeds afterward.

So we tried moving him to Firefox and Chrome, telling him to only use Internet Explorer to view the security cameras. Well, in hindsight we might as well have told him that the “f of x as x approaches infinity is 2x over y squared,” because it was just a day later–just a day later–that he was texting me to tell me that he couldn’t view the cameras any longer. My apology had already been made by this point, and my colleague and I had already had numerous conversations about the issue, so I was kind and cordial about the whole thing.

I was a jerk that one day–and by most standards, I wasn’t a jerk, just a typical tech–because I was having a bad day anyway. I’ve never lost sight of how it feels to be an ordinary person, largely helpless in the face of all this technology, and utterly powerless to do anything about it when it doesn’t work. The average person is helpless when something goes wrong, and the people like John and the elderly become almost paralyzed when it happens. They hate it, deep down inside, and it’s written all over their actions and words. They hate that they don’t understand this thing that is such an integral part of their lives, but they simply don’t understand it.

I’m pretty good with analogies, I think, and I explained to John that the web browser is like a car. Internet Explorer is Chrysler, Google Chrome is a Chevrolet, and Firefox is a Ford*. They are vehicles, and he uses them to drive to the store–websites are the stores he wants to go to. His DVR system was a weird and unusual store, and he could only drive to it with one particular vehicle–the Chrysler, Internet Explorer. Of course, the real situation is more complicated than that, since it’s not “to the store” that browsers drive: browsers get the blueprints of what the store should look like, and then the browser builds the store, but the analogy was good enough to convey it to John. And I was happy with that, patted myself on the back, and was sure that we wouldn’t have the issue again.

Nope.

We had the issue again.

Not everyone has a freaking college degree in this field, though. I don’t begrudge anyone for not understanding aspects of technology–they provide me with work, after all–and I generally don’t mind the many ways that this ignorance manifests. With John, it manifested in a need for everything to always stay the same. C’est la vie.

But that’s John as an employer, more or less. It wasn’t strictly business, and that’s the wonderful thing about working outside the confines of a corporation: you can get to know clients on a more personalized level, and I’ve spent a great deal of time at John’s freaking enormous and beautiful house. And though I was working through these visits, it was more like “Hey, I’m about to smoke a bowl. Do you want a hit before you start messing with that laptop?”

I don’t smoke weed. Aside from the handful of occasions I did it in Vegas because I was repeatedly hit with peer pressure until I did it–seriously–I haven’t smoked weed in about three years. I don’t have anything against weed–or any drugs, except meth, coke, and heroin. Those are the Big Three. I detest those three drugs. But I don’t care if people want to smoke weed everyday, or if they want to take rolls everyday. Shit, I love rolls. They’re the most wonderful things human beings ever invented. Rather than being illegal, they should be required monthly dietary supplements. And before you shoot someone during a war, you should have to take 2 triple stack yellow dolphins with them.

I have a song called Swimming With Yellow Dolphins. Now you know why those dolphins are yellow. 😉

Ecstasy is great. No, really. It is. it’s wonderful, spectacular stuff. But I still haven’t done any in 3 years or so, simply because… I grew up. Life went on. That’s one of my biggest worries about one of my friends, that she still seems to be stuck in a 23 year old mindset. Sure, going to a music festival once or twice a year to do some shrooms, rolls, and acid aren’t going to destroy your life or brain. And I’m all for people continuing to do that after the “Time To Grow Up Age.” But anything more than that, after the Time To Grow Up Age… is refusing to grow up. Is it any wonder that she is without a job, phone, car, or stable place to live?

Well, before I got off onto all that…

For many months, John and I emailed and texted regularly discussing politics, and that was how I mostly gained his respect. I know this American politics thing pretty well–much better than the average American does. I know it so well that I called back in November that the election would be “Trump v. Hillary, Trump wins”. Watch me be proven correct. You heard it here first–Aria DiMezzo calls the 2016 election! President Donald Trump. I’m not advocating Trump; I’m simply pointing out that this is what’s going to happen.

John hated the Fed just as much as I do and was increasingly Libertarian himself, and he supported Ron Paul. Not as loudly as I did, but he did support Ron Paul. It was fun to discuss that sort of thing.

He was really the type of guy who would go above and beyond to show gratitude, even to the point where it would occasionally get awkward. With technology, he had the lamentable tendency of talking down himself, calling himself an idiot, and things like that. Can I just say, please… Please don’t tell your I.T. technician that you’re an idiot when it comes to computers. What do people expect us to reply with? That immediately puts us into a delicate situation where we have to find a way to blame the technology, not the person, and that’s usually difficult to do because, yes, 99% of computer problems exist somewhere between the keyboard and the chair.

“No, you’re not… This software just isn’t very intuitive.” “No, you’re not… Microsoft just doesn’t know how to make a reliable operating system.” “No, you’re not… That really shouldn’t have happened.” “No, you’re not…”

I don’t want to be in the business of building up people’s self esteem. I’m not a motivational speaker because I don’t have the patience for that. If someone has self-esteem issues, then I’m the last person they need to be around, because I’m not going to coddle them. I won’t be a jerk, but at best people usually get some sort of ambivalent, non-committal response from me.

This also made John difficult to work with, because at some point you run out of ways to blame the technology for the person using the technology clicking Update for the nine billionth fucking time.

I doubt this post has at all come out the way I intended. All of these are positive memories, even if they don’t sound like it. When I talk about the Internet Explorer fiasco with the DVR, it’s with a smile on my face. A bit of an eye roll and acknowledgement of the pedantic regularity, like when a child says something silly.

I’ll miss you, John. Respect.

Inner Demons

But no one who knew John can deny that the man was clearly tormented by inner demons. In many ways, I suspect that death is a release from him, because I don’t think I’ve ever talked so extensively with such a tortured soul.

Naturally, he was an alcoholic, and he drank nearly $17,000 of his inventory last year, to give you an idea of what I mean. “Alcoholic” should be the last characteristic to ever appear in the bio of a liquor store owner, but he had gotten his drinking a little under control–or so everyone said. I’ll never forget the day, however, that I spent about 3 hours at his house working on various things, and he seemed to have always just used mouthwash. Drinking mouthwash, of course, is one of the things that alcoholics are notorious for doing after they’ve “quit” drinking. Because on the surface, they always have such a convenient excuse–what’s wrong with wanting fresh breath, after all?

Every indication is that John and his wife partied hard in their younger days, to the point that references to quaaludes are everywhere in his life. That’s fine, of course–I partied pretty hard in my younger days, too. But something always continued haunting John, and I never knew what it was. He always seemed to be white-knuckling it through life. I’m not trying to tarnish his name, but I am worried that the inner demons played a role in his death.

He never discussed those demons with me or my colleague, and other than his wife we were pretty much among the closest people in his life who weren’t his employees, so it’s unlikely that he ever discussed them with anyone. That’s precisely how inner demons kill.

We are as sick as we are secretive.

* There’s no significance in why I picked these car manufacturers for the browsers. It was completely arbitrary.