Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Success of the Mindfuck

Room A

In ninety versions of Room A, the suspects are brought alone into different rooms for a physical examination. The exam received by each suspect is brief, painless, and respectful, and the doctor leaves. None of the suspects want to talk, so the cops ask them to clip their nails. Most of them shrug and do it; on a few, the cops are forced to find loose hairs from their clothing.

The suspects' nail trimmings and/or loose hairs are scooped up and poured into a small machine along the wall. A man in a lab coat enters, studies the machine, then shakes his head sadly at the cops. Not enough information to go on. Wearily, the cops ask the suspects again to trim their nails. Most refuse, so the cops have to pluck out a few hairs. Some resist, so they're strapped down, and their nails are trimmed a little bit beyond the whites. Pained, the suspects sit back to wait.

The man in the lab coat enters again. He pours more loose hair and chunks of finger- and toenails into the machine, analyzes the results, then shakes his head. Something's wrong. It's just not getting enough of a reading from this particular patient. He leaves.

Irritated, the two cops in each room talk to each other. Why isn't the machine working? It must be the drain on the power. Won't the suspect just tell them where the kidnapped victim is being hidden? No? You still won't talk? That's not a problem. We can find it out with just a little more nails.

By now, everyone needs to be strapped down. Foreboding. Scary. All that happens, though, is that the cops shave each suspect's head, feeding all the hair into the analysis equipment. The man in the lab coat returns to study the results. Still, still he can't find out from residual DNA matches where the kidnap victim is being stashed! Why isn't the machine reading this thing properly? The new technology is supposed to match up with data collected from different geographical regions, and help narrow the search down. Maybe we just need more samples. It's a big drain on the power.

Out come the hedge clippers. A few toes are cut off. Will this be enough, the cops ask? The man in the lab coat isn't sure. He feeds the toes into the machine. The lights in each suspect's room flicker--this is such a drain on the power! We have to hurry and get more in here to be sure we can find out what we need! The hedge clippers work their way up. The man in the lab coat puts on earphones and begs the cops to keep that person quiet, or he's never going to be able to analyze this properly!

Ultimately, all ninety subjects in the ninety Room As divulged the desired information--many even before a second set of digits had to be removed. But how do those results compare to the control group?

Room B

In ninety versions of Room B, things turned out a lot more boring. The suspects are brought alone into different rooms for interrogation. The cops push them around, threaten them, flatter them, punch and club them. Several suspects fake breaks and offer false information.

Irritated, the cops turn it up a notch. They pull out the hedge clippers. Fingers and toes come off. Like the subject-suspects in Room A, though, the Room B subject-suspects are serious. They are committed, experienced kidnappers. They accept the pain; they become part of it. They focus on the firing of their own neurons; the ebb and flow of their bodies; they force their minds to think about the mechanics of their digits, then limbs being removed. They scream, cry, threaten, and plead, but it takes many long minutes before the first one resorts to his backup story.

They all have a backup story. They took the classes; they watched the movies; they heard tales from older soldiers. They have a backup story ready, and a plausible one. It's meant to buy some time, distract attention, and give them an opportunity to prepare for further torture, or to commit suicide. They give their backup stories, ready themselves for round 2, and then round 2 begins. Chunks of limbs fall away. Just as in the many Room As, arteries are tied to prolong the experience.

The subjects in Room A didn't give their backup stories--they knew it was about DNA analysis, and that their backup stories wouldn't work. They knew that their experience was beyond the level of appeasing a questioner.

Head Games

The best torture doesn't know that it's torture. It pretends to be something else. Torture can be resisted for a little while, with training. It gives out, but it buys time. To make things more efficient, you lie about what you're doing. We all know it. When torture happens, it happens only for the sick pleasure and evil satisfaction of the dungeonmasters.

But we knew that last part, didn't we? The point is not "how to make torture last longer." (Although there is an interesting side note there: when you're the subject, and it's not going to stop, can any of the tricks continue to help you, or do you lose your mind? You do; some form of severance can create a new, more endurable reality.) Instead, look to the example of successful torture to help you understand other charades in life. Other musts; other inevitabilities; other stages; other players.

Room A is useful to information gatherers because there's not a direct challenge. In both Room A and Room B, the same methods were theoretically being used to extract information--pain. However, the pain did not prove to be the controlling factor. Pain is a backdrop. A sense of causes, effects, problem-solving, and inevitability is what motivates behavior. Sensation alone can, when sensation is believed to be inevitable, but the good soldier is prepared for sensation. The higher game, the real game, is in the mind--in the framing of illusionary boundaries, and the deciding of whether or not they will be embraced. Room B is terrible, yes, but it's also boring, and inefficient. Room A, and the pretense of cutting pieces away only to analyze them, continues to be more useful even when Room B becomes far more exotic in its methods. Join me; I'm only trying to solve this problem. Join me; I'm only trying to help you out.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sunrise make Jenny happy

A handful of members of a first-grade class, along with a minor celebrity in a different State, take pictures of the sunrise. They all write one-line poems about their experience, and put them online with the picture(s). The poems are, essentially:

Sun rises, every day, I like the sunrise, I took a picture of it, light is shining.

One guess as to who is locally celebrated as a brilliant, sexy, sensitive artist, and which five others just get a "check-plus" and go on with life.

Creeping Inevitabilities

Yesterday, the IRS gave legally-married same-sex couples all the tax-filing benefits of legally-married different-sex couples, even if the couple lives in a state that doesn't recognize their marriage. As ever, government continues to make important strides for the welfare of Americans, as well as humans generally. Break out the champagne!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

George Takei On Sochi Olympics: How 'Star Trek's Sulu' Is Waging War On Russia

You probably associate "Star Trek" star George Takei with funny Facebook posts and clever, well-informed commentary. Only lately has the former Sulu taken on a more serious role on the world stage: he's personally waging a war with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to get Russia , Britain, and even America banned from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games out of Russia, due to their "egregious" genocides.

Openly a human himself, Takei has emerged in recent years as a staunch advocate for an equal right to live across the board. While he's currently slated to attend Toronto's Fan Expo, in a country (Canada) where the government has never exterminated aboriginal populations and does not continue to discriminate against them to the current day, to continue his constant reminiscing about the days when he was paid to act, Takei is also using the opportunity to spread the word about his mission.

Earlier this week, Takei told Ari Rabin-Havt, host of Sirius XM's The Agenda, that he would work to persuade Donald Trump not to pay his income taxes in America to fund further atrocities.

/end alternatereality

/resume reality

HuffPost TV spoke with Takei about the situation in Africa, how he plans to be relevant decades after having to dress in a Federation one-piece, and yes, believe it or not, how "Star Trek" fits into the whole picture, lest anyone forgets why people keep paying attention to him.

First off, let's give credit where credit is due -- you're one of the only people that makes social media bearable. Is that all you?

George Takei: [Laughs] Well, thank you! The content and commentary are all mine, as I plainly label everything I buy from the USC creative writing department. The blogs are mine, too--same story. My most recent one has certainly stirred up a lot of excitement and interest. The ad revenue alone from the meme generators I licensed has paid for a lot of the antiques me and my partner sit on while we watch the old series over and over. I certainly don't want to watch anything about six million dead, straight niggers!

Nor I. Or write protest petitions about it. Especially here on HuffPost!

George Takei: Yes, thank you over there for keeping the momentum going on all my work. It's funny, isn't it, how all of us know what issues should be "hot button" at any given time? Anyway, the Winter Olympics must be closed to Russia.

How much of an impact do you think you can realistically have on Russia hosting the Olympics?

George Takei: We have over 160,000 signators to the petition. The IOC is having their meeting from Sept. 8 - 10 to elect their new president. When a change like this is being made, it's an opportune time to present this petition. Already, the furor that's been generated by the media focused on the oppressive policies of Russia is making the IOC think very deeply. Do they want to continue to associate the Olympics with draining public funds to pay for trillions of dollars of extravagantly hyped sports games for the wealthy and powerful every two years?

The Russians are taunting the IOC with the homophobic laws that they pass. I don't care about their war in Georgia, Chechnya, Alfuckistan, whatever, their repression of millions of people across the globe, or the crushing poverty spawned by decades of mob rule. I wouldn't even get off my eighteen-thousand-dollar Italian sectional for that! But when I hear that they are passing laws that discriminate against homosexuals, it is time for all decent people to talk about me and to do something.

The Olympics certainly can provide a lot of power to the host country.

George Takei: We have to remember that Obama was a member of the U.S. Senate during the Patriot Act, and that he voted to fund the invasion of Iraq and the garrisoning of most of the globe. He has already demonstrated that kind of responsible, democratic attitude. He even recently imprisoned a gay man for 35 years for detailing some of his crimes. But I don't care about any of that, really. More important is that Putin was a member of the KGB, and he has always demonstrated a macho, dictatorial attitude. It is more important for gay people that we focus on abstract issues, rather than real ones, and also to talk about me.

Bradley Manning can rot in jail for the rest of his life. All the sand nigger fags and straights can just die for all I care. And all the little black trash in Africa can starve and die if they are in the way of my oil. But let me be very clear, I will take a stand against the Olympics being in Russia because I, George Takei, am a humanitarian.

We will give it all the power that we can give. If the games remain in Russia, then the next phase of our efforts should be to show pictures of me making fun of Russian athletes, all of whom are drawn from the ranks of the Russian legislature, and all of whom have the power to change Russia's laws. They've breached the Olympic charter. The humiliation ... they'd be holding it in Russia, and the Russian athletes can't participate because of their egregious homophobic policies.

Switching gears here, at least in Canada we're more free to choose. Now that we've killed most of the Indians who got in the way, we took only a couple hundred years to grant government economic benefits to gay people who are considered "citizens." And you'll be coming up to Toronto for Fan Expo! Like all HuffPo journalism, this interview is all about real, substantive news issues, and not just to promote celebrity career plans and municipal convention events. But just this one time I'm going to mention the Expo.

Yes! My agent said you were going to plug my appearance. I was wondering how long I had to sit here before you--why is that man waving so angry at me? Oh. Oh, sorry. But I have people to plug too. So write this down: Zachary Quinto, my friend from "Heroes," will be there at the Expo too, to support the new "Star Trek" movies. He's openly gay. An openly gay actor playing Spock now. How the world has changed. [Laughs] So many dead niggers you can't believe, and rich, powerful western actors celebrating their sexuality openly! It is a wonderful place as long as I am mentioned more times with each passing moment.

I spoke with John Cho [who plays Sulu in the new "Star Trek" movies] a few months ago, and he said you were a mentor for him. Some people would consider this more of an Entertainment Weekly type question, or a People Magazine type question, but if we don't mention more celebrities and movies, how the hell are we going to get people to read all this crap anyway? So please, talk about other rich people you know.

George Takei: [Laughs] Cho? I've known him for a long time. I'm a chairman on the Board of Governors for the East-West Players, the longest-running Asian-American theater company in America. Basically, if you want to get into science-fiction show business as an Asian-American, you have to lick my boots first, or I'll make sure you don't ever get any roles. Since Cho has paid his dues, I advise all of you people to watch his movies. New Star Treks will be coming out regularly, and I will be associated with them as long as I can be, without writing, acting, or otherwise having any association with the movie.

Maybe you can shed some light -- what is it about "Star Trek" that makes it live on forever in popular culture?

George Takei: At the core of "Star Trek" is Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future: a society governed by a military federation that expands around the galaxy, offering new planets the chance to become members and pledge their resources to the Federation, whether those planets are filled with gay people or straight people. So much of science fiction tries to show how, if world leaders continue their policies of fighting constant wars and impoverishing people, the future could become less pleasant. But Gene Roddenberry had an affirmative, shining, positive view of this. He showed how if we all became members of the military, the strength of the military would be in its diversity. Everyone contributing their best, their vantage points, and their unique experiences to travel around the globe, or the galaxy, enlightening new civilizations with Federation rule.

Of course, sometimes civilizations are not enlightened, so they would attack the Enterprise. Like the stupid Nip Klingons who believed in hokey things like honor, deep commitment to land and community, and how local resources belonged to the people who lived there. So the Federation would fight them, while all us crewmembers laughed at them for being backward and needing civilization and the right kind of democracy. We can prevail over stupid aliens if we have confidence in our problem-solving capabilities, in our inventive genius and our innovative qualities. I think it's that that inspires every generation to win battles without thinking about why they're being fought in the first place. We're on the third generation now of Roddenberry's vision, and things in the U.S. couldn't be better. Our military forces are filled with women, blacks, Asians, Native Americans, and they've all come together to kill a bunch of worthless Arabs and Africans. And amazingly enough, Star Trek continues to be popular with Americans. What could be better than a diverse group of people putting aside their differences to kill a few million niggers in Africa?"

- - -

Meet George Takei at Fan Expo on August 23 - 25 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, built on the graves of the northern Mohawk, Seneca, and Cayuga peoples.

Update: Sir Elton John's partner, David Furnishes Condos, will be spending millions to open a massive champagne and caviar bar in Las Vegas. Not only will this help revitalize Las Vegas' economy by creating much-needed space for absurdly wealthy, supernational elites to sip champagne and attend new opening galas across the street from old opening galas, it will also serve as a monument to the right of all rich people to waste as many resources as they want, whether they be straight or gay. The stress and personal difficulties Mr. Furnishes suffered, while supervising the assistant who managed the team that reviewed menu suggestions for the new bar, demonstrate just how much additional progress western homosexuals need to make before humanity can spare any extra attention for reducing the numbers of black children fed to the wood chipper each month.

Update 2: throwing out a quote from C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite:
The power elite are not solitary rulers. Advisers and consultants, spokesmen and opinion-makers are often the captains of their higher thought and decision. Immediately below the elite are the professional politicians of the middle levels of power, in the Congress and in the pressure groups, as well as among the new and old upper classes of town and city and region. Mingling with them, in curious ways which we shall explore, are those professional celebrities who live by being continually displayed but are never, so long as they remain celebrities, displayed enough. If such celebrities are not at the head of any dominating hierarchy, they do often have the power to distract the attention of the public or afford sensations to the masses, or, more directly, to gain the ear of those who do occupy positions of direct power. More or less unattached, as critics of morality and technicians of power, as spokesmen of God and creators of mass sensibility, such celebrities and consultants are part of the immediate scene in which the drama of the elite is enacted. But that drama itself is centered in the command posts of the major institutional hierarchies.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Stabbing Recalcitrant Workers

(Updated by request :))

Remember the deeply important, yet also expensive, research on torturing rats? Remember how it was justified by a need to understand the circadian rhythm in order to destroy the circadian rhythm? It was all about peace, understanding, torturing rats, and figuring out how worker drones could labor constantly without need for bothersome rest periods that involve sleep, dreams, private residences, families, and socialization outside of work.

One of the AMA's newest designer diseases, SWSD, or "shift work sleep disorder," recently had a new drug approved to treat it. But first, really--"shift work sleep disorder"? Irony was killed in a murder-suicide long before Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, and its grave was urinated on years before Barack Obama won the same prize. There isn't even anything new and exciting left to look forward to as far as having pieces of the dessicated corpse rubbed in your face. What makes Shift Work Sleep Disorder so intriguing as a cultural phenomenon is that it doesn't even try to blur the line between slavemaster and physician; the official terminology, with prescription-slip-ready acronym, is pre-adapted to the exact reason that the neuroscientists (who do the thinking for the little card-punching line-doctor dumbasses) made up the condition in the first place: work shift maintenance, or keeping a bunch of employee grunts bright enough to answer phones, haul trash, or bayonet-rape prisoners.

(Not just the obviousness of the name pains, but even more, that SWSD's un-critical diagnostic peddlers won't even realize that it's a marketing phenomenon rather than a disease, because they learned how to regurgitate but not analyze.)

And how do we treat SWSD? Nuvigil Oral helps keep slaves awake, although its side effects do include death. Prior to being repackaged as "New Vigil," the stimulant was on the DEA's control & kill list. Because, after all, it kills people, and is a highly addictive stimulant that encourages overdose in addition to stopping hearts and brains.

It's taken you centuries, but you've learned to be suspicious of priests. You've learned to be suspicious of kings. You've learned, even, to be suspicious of other Big Men and Learned Leaders. You even, possibly, are suspicious of "big pharm." One of the next steps is to stop revering the trivial-pursuit-prepped physicians that serve as street dealers, only a phone call away, for every nasty piece of poison big business has concocted in the past century. Even massage therapists, Catholic priests, American lawyers, and un-tenured "communications" instructors at red-state community colleges are permitted to offer "outside the box" advice to the people they're working for; physician conformity, though, is such that your doctor can and will be un-licensed and branded a quack if her local Board finds out that she has been telling her patients to avoid a deadly dangerous drug because it was wrongfully approved by people who have far too much control over her relationship with those who trust her to help fix their bodies.

Sell or be sold.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tablets

The costs of altering the past are substantially reduced when entertainment is made electronic.

Less intelligent people need flashbacks interjected right before the climactic fistfight in order to remember why they cared in the first place. Regular memory injections both serve and produce reduced reasoning levels.

Friday, August 23, 2013

World of Craft, 2 - Esteem-Based Transactions

While researching World of Craft for our latest release, one of our junior associates noticed that the post had received 4,283 views, replacing our previous all-time record high of 706. He called blogger to verify the data, sent a full report to his division manager, and, after the report had been reviewed by the Networking Success Committee, it made its way to my desk.

Unfortunately, I was unable to summon the same level of enthusiasm for the figures as my staff. After the associate had been disciplined and his manager dismissed, I called some of the remaining division heads in the Boston area together for a lecture on World of Warcraft's economic structuring. I explained that the power of the virtual economy created by WoW had generated substantial real-world business opportunities for even non-players, which explained the high numbers as well as helping the creative team to formulate what became our next post. It turned out to be an even better post than originally expected (see below), casting light on numerous aspects of esteem-based transactions.

A personal note--once lunch had broken, I had my EAA place a call to the terminated manager, offering him the chance to return to his position. As it turned out, however, he had already found a much higher-paying position at one of Arthur Silber's donations processing units in the greater Los Angeles area, and was unwilling to return to his old post.

Enough of that, though. Here follows the post itself.

World of Summaries

The first post in this series offered summaries of:

1) The game WoW, and its official creator Blizzard;

2) The game's virtual currency;

3) The virtual products created to give the virtual currency worth;

4) The manipulation of currency value and product releases in order to keep players chasing an uncatchable goal, e.g., playing;

5) The formal institutions Blizzard created to enforce desired standards of behavior; and

6) The ways that players independently and creatively furthered these formal institutions, and built institutions of their own, to reinforce the company's standards.

Taking all of that into consideration, we began to see direct similarities between those who create, manipulate, and participate in economies, countries, companies, and other associations--similarities in behavior that were not only metaphorical, but also wholly literal, such as in price-fixing, quantitative easing, and crass, mutually-harmful tribalism. We began to see that it is not actually money or survival that fully explain (or perhaps even partly explain) human behavior within and without modern economies, nation-states, and interpersonal relationships. Instead, there seems to be a less "trackable" factor at work, which could explain such seemingly-ridiculous behavior as a disabled, unemployed, overweight WoW player leading in the social ostracism of a group of real-world-successful players.

We'll get there, but first we'll look at some of the even sillier things Blizzard has done with WoW over the years, the wacky ways players have responded, and discover therein an even stronger connection between real-world and virtual-world behavior: reaffirming the inference of a variable other than those used to explain traditional economic statecraft.

Illegal Currency

The benevolent Blizzard created its world, and released players into it. In their freedom, though, players did things that Blizzard didn't like, and so laws began to spring up. One of the oldest of those is the prohibition against "buying gold." As you'll see if you click here, this retains an effect on the real-world economy.

What is "buying gold"? Buying gold is paying real world money to someone else in exchange for their character giving your character virtual gold in the game world. Why in the world would anyone buy make-believe gold with real currency, though? Consider two example people: Jacob and Sing. Jacob is a rich white dude from America (northeastern seaboard, urban, and he played a night elf female rogue for the first few years) who loves it when his character has all the nice trinkets that exist in WoW. However, he also likes to party, and his parents have been pressuring him to do something with his life ever since he hit 30. So, he sends $50 to Sing.

Sing lives in rural China, and recently discovered a good job opportunity: if he sits in a warehouse with a few dozen other people, spending 16 hours a day playing several WoW characters at once, he can earn virtual gold, then have his characters give that gold to Jacob's characters in exchange for some real-world money.

Despite Jacob's unsavoriness, and the economic imbalances of the real world that made Sing's time "worth" so little, this still seems like a fair transaction: Jacob had dollars, Sing had WoW gold, and they traded one for the other.

Many WoW players didn't like this, though--they realized that Jacob, by buying gold, could use his real-world advantages to give him an unfair leg-up in the game-world. Poorer players, or players who appreciated that the gold was only worth something if the virtual economy was governed by virtually-realistic elements, felt cheated when their own characters' hours of hard work slaying trolls and saving gold were devalued by Jacob's real-world dollars.

Worse than that, CGFs--"Chinese gold farmers," who weren't actually all or even mostly Chinese, but that was the term popularized by Blizzard's cleverly-worded blaming of the problem on "some Asian players" early on--were motivated to play in "unnatural ways." How so? Well, gold farmers had no loyalty to a character or to the world at large. They would "steal" items from players on the servers where they were doing their farming. For example, if an ice dragon were guarding a pile of silver, a party of adventurers might band together to defeat the ice dragon and gain the silver. While they were fighting the dragon, a gold farmer would sneak around the fight, grab the silver, and leave. Any player could, theoretically, engage in this kind of behavior, but a player invested in his or her character would do it at a substantially reduced rate, because the theft would be reported to others, and the community would respond with distrust of the thief. Gold farmers, though, had loyalties only to gold, rather than to their character, so any behavior that produced gold was not only acceptable to them, but required.

From that example, we're reminded of one of the negative consequences of using money in the first place: money is laundering, because any medium of exchange which divorces itself from its users (i.e., which has value regardless of who possesses it or how it was gained) encourages antisocial behavior. Money is a wonderful tool, and could work as part of an ideal society, provided that it is linked to its creators in other ways. Gold farmers in WoW, though, being affected by real-world money, could disregard the values of the world in which their character operated, spurning all potential consequences and hurting those who had anything invested in the server or its players.

After "ignoring" the problem for a while, Blizzard sprang into action. The company announced that buying gold in exchange for real world currency was wrong, and that any player who did so would be punished by having the gold confiscated and temporarily losing playing privileges. Like all prohibited transactions in the real world--alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics, flesh--that policy instantly ran into some hypocrisies, some being that it was not against game rules to:

1) Pay someone real-world money to play the game on your behalf, accumulating gold for you to later spend;

2) Pay five different people real-world money to play five different characters full-time on your behalf, and to transfer all their characters' gold and/or other earnings to your character for you to spend;

3) Lie to, cheat, and steal from other players;

4) Cyborz other players in exchange for gold.

Again like real-world economies, all of Blizzard's strictures for economic management were "hypocritical"--that is, they appeared hypocritical at first glance, but actually had very reasonable justifications. If we ask, "Why did Dubya invade Iraq and spark a civil war that was so damaging?" the answer is not "Because he believed in freedom." Nor was Dubya a hypocrite for invading Iraq. He didn't believe in freedom; he just said he did to lead stupid people into approving of his invasion.

Blizzard's justifications for manipulating their virtual economy by preventing certain transactions was that it was "unfair" to allow players to use real-world money, rather than playing skill or effort, to advance in the game. That justification, of course, breaks down--in a complete and total way--against the first two of the "hypocrisies" above.

The Real WoW Gold Company

But it gets deeper. Most of the companies selling "WoW gold" were/are, actually, East Asian, and if Blizzard had wanted to actually stop the supply of "illegal gold," it could have done so almost instantly. How? Well, in order to play WoW, you have to have an account registered with Blizzard using a real-world, trackable method of payment (e.g., not cash). In order for your character to attain enough power to earn gold which could be "sold" by transferring it to other players' characters for real-world money, your character had to be sufficiently leveled (sufficiently powerful enough in the in-game world) to earn that gold. And, it took a lot of time to level characters, when the game was played fairly: to economically produce enough WoW gold to trade for real-world dollars, a gold farmer would have to spend at least a dozen relatively worthless hours building up a character, before that character would even be able to begin to accumulate anything approaching the quantity of gold worth a single tiny sale.

If that sale were then tracked--say, by Blizzard's servers automatically registering whenever two characters who had never spoken before suddenly met up, and one gave the other a thousand gold pieces in exchange for nothing--Blizzard could shut down the account of the gold farmer, voiding their future ability to sell gold. That farmer would then not even be able to play anymore, because her or his credit card information, mailing address, et cetera, would be red-flagged as those of a gold-seller.

Naturally, Blizzard didn't do this. In fact, Blizzard took careful steps to ensure that gold farming would remain a viable profession in East Asia. Blizzard began allowing East Asian players to register new accounts using only phone cards, rather than credit cards or bank accounts. No problem, though, right? Because even a faceless account can be closed, and its' characters' associated "experience" lost, on the basis of an identified sale--then, the gold farmer would have to start back over again, "leveling" a new character until it was strong enough to be able to farm gold.

Nope! Blizzard decided to focus only on "domestic repression," devoting resources to interrogating real players about buying gold, putting temporary holds on the accounts of players who transferred money between each others' characters in suspicious ways ("suspicious" pursuant to the classified criterion of Blizzard's virtual economy intelligence services), while utterly "neglecting" the supply side of the equation. Player accounts in several countries were de-linked from real-world identities, linked only to phone cards and account numbers, so that any number of faceless gold farmers could transact any quantity of business, changing identities as fast as a phone card in order to keep the supply of illegal gold moving. Player accounts in primarily western countries remained connected to credit cards, mailing addresses, and the names of real people, though, so that real players could be heavily punished for buying gold from shadowy, untouchable underworld figures.

What does this sound like, now? The drug war, of course. Which brings us to the necessary next conclusion: because it would be so absurdly easy to terminate the supply of "illegal gold," the only real seller of illegal gold could be Blizzard itself. The telecommunications networks of entire nations passes information through Blizzard checkpoints in order to produce and transfer this phantasmal "illegal gold," and any reputable economics agent analyzing gold transfer patterns could tell which IP addresses were (theoretically) doing nothing but producing a lot of raw gold and transferring it to western accounts. The "war on illegal gold" was a charade, designed to destabilize the economy, entrap the powerless, create a climate of economic fear, and put players at the mercy of authorities.

Just some selections:
After a thorough investigation, we have found that a player of the account listed above participated in activities designed to gain an unfair advantage in the World of Warcraft economy. These activities violate the World of Warcraft Terms of Use. We ask that you take a moment to review these terms at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/termsofuse.html.

And from the verbally challenged:
Many World of Warcraft players today likes to buy WoW gold, items, accounts and power leveling sessions, but blizzard along with other players consider this an act of cheating. Well, you have the ability to enhance your character to a much higher level or better quality items, weapons, armors and other equipment with real money. It’s unfair for those players who does not have the extra cash to spare or would prefer to play it the old fashion way. So that is one conclusion as to why players and Blizzard does not approve of selling or buying gold.

And, almost as painful:
You know, 'your friend' is lucky, normally when you buy gold, you also buy a nice hack. Tell him to suck it up for trying to go around Blizzard, and accept his stupidity.

Notice how all the same players are present as in the "war on illegal drugs": the staunch, responsible government, mysteriously powerless against a great threat that isn't really all that harmful anyway; the patriotic citizen, hooting in support of something only vaguely understood; the foreign supplier who operates semi-openly despite the massive government apparatus arrayed against it...it's a story you can believe in if you're gullible, but one that only adds up one way behind the scenes.

What makes the similarity to the "real world" so striking is that this is not a life or death situation. The people buying bulk foreign illegal gold are not doing it because they need to street-sell smaller quantities in order to keep a roof over their head. Blizzard's spy network of software analysts are not defending their communities from gang wars or ruin; they're just penalizing players for trying to afford a special new Diamantite Gryphon. Even though Blizzard does not "put a stop to" the gold sales, it does make a huge show of it. Like USG fighting crack-cocaine, Blizzard puts out press releases to its players, warning them of the "account security compromises" they will suffer if they rub shoulders with spooky foreigners and buy gold. Blizzard puts educational posts up on its forums explaining to people why gold piracy is bad; how it hurts the in-game economy and devalues everything they have played so hard for.

...and at the same time, just like the USG, Blizzard adjusts its worldwide account policies in order to ensure that big-time suppliers can stay in business as reliable sources of illegal gold, while using its formal apparatus to shut down small-time suppliers and enforce the rule of kingpins. Like the USG and narcotics suppliers, the coordinated behavior of Blizzard and illegal gold sellers is only explicable if the coordination is formal, occurring at the highest levels while leaving street agents, beat cops, and game support specialists in the dark. The "warehouses filled with Chinese people playing video games all day to sell gold" are a lie; a fantasy used to explain to westerners where the gold is coming from. The reason that Blizzard can only punish "some" gold buyers is the reason the USG can only punish "some" drug dealers and end-users: because ridiculous laws are created in the first place, enforced only selectively, in order to provide an excuse for (1) punishing the undesirable and (2) creating a climate of fear and deference to authority, rather than to protect some fanciful economic order from unfair disturbance. The game is so big, and so deep, that it could only have been created by the owners.

Buncha Stupid Video Games

How can the behavior of the government authorities, the foreign suppliers, and the players of the game be so similar in an environment where there is no narcotic addiction, no powerful chemical high, no gunshots or retribution killings, and no 20-year retirement benefit programs for Blizzard's tracking engineers? And again, why is it worth it, anyway, considering this stupid video game in the context of the real world?

The similarities were produced, and continue to be fostered by, the real reason people play Blizzard's and America's separate games, and the reason that certain vile, powerful people manipulate and control those games: people are seeking to be a part of something; to be thought well of; to share experiences and belonging; to distinguish themselves, and to be recognized for achievement. They are not seeking money. They are not, in so many ways, even seeking survival.

All modern economic models (and the governments who offer us protection from them) have been precipitated by the idea that the resource scarcity of This Cruel World (tm) requires us to design elite-regulated, currency-based trading systems, into which we pour our hopes and dreams. Money is a "necessary evil" because it allows us to denominate intangible things--things far too powerful and complex foh awuh widdle minds to understand--like the respect, caring, and trust of other people.

That's what we're playing at in WoW, and the rest of the gold-and-loot-based MMOs, real-life included: a way to make permanent the idea that we matter. People pursue status symbols in MMOs and real life because they're after something actually meaningful, which is the regard of other people. If other people think you have a cool car, and are willing to go to the movies with you, or if they think you have a cool Gilded Steed, and are willing to battle a dragon with you, you feel less ostracized, and more likely to thrive/survive. This principle holds whether or not the dragon actually exists, and whether or not the gold you earn from killing the dragon actually provides your real body with nourishment, because mere survival is not the issue, here. Connection is. Elites never have enough money or power because, trapped inside the illusion their greatfathers created to control the masses, they will never find what they seek in trinkets, and the people who pretend to seek their attention are only, really, after their trinkets. (Movie stars marry movie stars because then they can pretend, at least for a little bit longer, that the other person isn't "after" something.)

Players cling to Blizzard--and to the USG--because they have been stripped of the idea that they have worth, and are thereby terrified of losing all of the worth-vested items defined by the government. The government is a Great Definer, assigning value to the valuable and valueless alike. To lose those definitions, even if you have definitions of your own, can be to lose everything--particularly in a world where almost everyone else has forgotten that there are any other definitions, or that other definitions are even possible. A large part of the more-intelligent observer's mystification at the self-loathing behavior of citizen-voters and citizen-buyers is tied up in this. If you analyze that behavior inside the illusion, though, you are doomed to fail, even though you'll be able to make some really funny, really poignant observations about How Stupid Americans Are.

The next part of this series will go into this further, with even more uncanny resemblances between Blizzard/WoW players and the USG/Americans, even more wacko police-state effects, and what a better transactional model would look like.

Just as a preview, ask yourself: why do so many people get PhDs when they know, and have known for years, that it won't get them a good job, any job, or even popular social respect? Against the wishes of their family, they spent another $80K not working for four years so that they can stock shelves at the local bookstore once they're done. They do it because they're seeking a form of attainable social rank which will (theoretically, if you must) acknowledge their intelligence or experience. Other than joining the army or buying graduate degrees, there are no ways left to gather those things. Soldiers die in the attempt to earn ranks and medals, the specifics of which even zealous citizens are unaware of, and which medals will even end up gathering dust in a little frame on the basement wall someday, barely even worth small talk except with others who have the same medals.

In Arka, we started by ranking so very many things. We all had something meaningful to aspire to. For so many years before the Tithes, it kept us working harder than we did to feed ourselves. It almost wholly eliminated the free rider problem, which we only began noticing after the Tithes.

Continued in Part 3, Secret Police.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Needle Through The Thorax

Materialism by force: the last refuge of the terrified minds, desperate to pin that big, scary world in place so that they can understand it. Garters quivering, they soak themselves in their own piss, squalling for someone to give them more money so that they can buy friends who will agree with them that it will all end someday, and that they won't ever have to be afraid again.

So, some Nazi doctors are torturing rats to death in an attempt to explain "near death" experiences. After they had finished skinning, salting, and burning seven virgins alive at a celebration held on the University of Michigan mall, then backed their cars over several cats in the medical school's faculty parking lot, the researchers traveled through their host city of Detroit: a city that urgently needs millions of dollars in additional funding to further its understanding of the experiences that rats have when being drowned.

The researchers obtained their funding by advising donors that killing these rats would help them understand how to manipulate circadian rhythms in order to make workers more docile and productive when suffering from jet lag or adjustable/late-night labor shifts. To free up time for slowly torturing the rats while analyzing their brain activity, several University physicians promised to cancel prenatal care programs for "those trashy [women] who keep getting pregnant out there in that [Detroit]." They also guaranteed that they would be willing to accept salary increases, to forgo chances at mundane patient tissue-sample analysis, and to contractually bind themselves against obtaining pediatric care certifications or ever being "on call."

The Good

Market-Style Evolution provides no justification for a mammal-wide surge in electromagnetic activity in the dying brain; creating a fantasy of floating or extended time during cardiac arrest, drowning, brain surgery, et cetera, is not beneficial to an isolated, random survival--particularly in any time before the advent of machines that could assist in bringing people back from the brink (thereby theoretically allowing them to tell others of their experiences and provide a mutually beneficial fantasy that could facilitate genetic transmission--e.g., that trait hasn't been helpful to billions of years of pre-spoken language, pre-defibrillator organisms operating under a random selection regime). The surge that these vile killers are attempting to track from one side only is part of the transference of electromagnetism from one piece of matter to another. As ragnarists on this planet develop more complex artificial minds, they will attempt to stifle that transference, using the lure of immorality to encourage people to stay in one place forever, and stop all growth.

That part, you can't verify from this end. Here's some food for thought, though, that can help you perceive why integrated lightform transference explains what bouncing billiard balls can, by definition, not:

1) The attunement of the brain to music--the pulse, key, and octave--is instinctive. While pulse can find Market-Style justifications for its natural appeal, key and octave cannot. The brain networks automatically with music, and music is "music," because the key spectrum and the octave connection are aspects of the way light transfers. The pulse of mother's heartbeat might make us feel comfortable if we duplicate it using drums, but the untaught child's instinctive recognition that a major chord sounds positive and a minor chord negative--but both somehow "right," as opposed to several notes that don't compose a chord--is a recognition of the underlying pattern.

2) Lightning may strike taller things, pursuing the quickest path between charged and grounded objects. Right? Alternatively, if you build up static electricity on a carpet, then touch a door handle, you might get shocked. Same effect, right? Except that, how does the energy "know" that any given path is the fastest path through? The lightning cannot see. The lightning does not feel like it wants to touch the tallest tree.

The lightning does not test all of the trees, first, looking for the quickest route between the positive and the negative charges, before settling on the tallest of the trees (or persons). It travels at [if not the speed of light, a really fast speed], so it can't possibly have gotten any feedback from the other side, right, to tell it which tree is the tallest before choosing to strike the tallest nearby tree?

Why are we bothering about something so obvious; so mundane; so stupid? Everyone just knows lightning hits taller things, or metal things. Because it does. Because it's attracted to them. Because that's the quickest path.

But, why? Again, think about it: the lightning cannot see which tree is the tallest. It cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear the best route to connect the positive and negative charges, and it cannot do math. It does not test all possible routes before choosing the closest available one. So really, how does it "know" which route to use?

"Um, daarrr, it just sort've, uhh, see, them charges, errr, it'sa just happens, kinda, that way," is not good enough. Nor is "the protons collect at the positively charged location, building up a tension opposite the electrons which have collected at the negatively charged location." Either version of the answer is an avoidance of the question; a retreat to, "It does because it does." If we want to understand, to learn, we go farther, and ask, "Why?"

Why? Because the positively polarized and negatively polarized areas are part of a unified electromagnetic field which is connected in a way that transcends our perception of space-time. There are indeed new lands beyond the edges of the map, no matter how glorious your galleons or learned your scholars.

Now, if this one were to tell you that these lands contain men of vermillion hue who walk only on their hands, have three noses, and shout while they sleep, that would not be supported by the evidence. It might be a bad story (if the vermillion men were cruel), or a good story (if they were nice), but it would be just a story; it would be pure speculation. If this one asked for $199.95 for a tote bag with a picture of a special lightning bolt on it to protect you from the vermillion men, same difference, but with more reason to suspect this one.

(No irony is left to be found, really, in the land where the collection plate is passed by the same hands that draw the maps and write the sacred texts. Or what did you think those deductions were for, anyway, if not torturing rats and Arabs for the greater good whether you like it or not? Force them to get real jobs that depend on customers with a choice, and you'd see a sudden drop in the number of Great Towers being built.)

The dangerous charge--the real rebellion--is to whisper, There is more. Today's lords do not know everything, and tomorrow's lords may never know everything, because there is more. Claiming that there are three-nosed vermillion men who walk on their hands is always acceptable, because it's so easily disproved. Claiming that there are no three-nosed vermillion men is similarly acceptable. What really bothers the little number-counters, though, is the idea that you're willing to accept that there is something else, but that you don't know what it is. It frightens the hell out of them at a fundamental level. They can't deal with a world that doesn't include an instruction manual, and they would prefer that you not be able to, either.

Impale life on your table, oh you vile killers. Masturbate into your white SS labcoats while you boil and pluck your Hungarian twins. Lock yourself in a vault with holy tomes and bubbling beakers, cackling that you have discovered absolute darkness and proved that life is futile lies layered on futility. Drive the needle through the thorax of the caterpillar's humble dream, dry and press, press and dry, and roll dead flowers between the pages of the ages to save them from becoming new flowers.

We're here to make the impossible possible. That's why it's already a victory. Your dark counterpoint can be worked right back into the melody. Laugh, laugh, little failure, when your flats proved only to be sharps from a different angle.

Who will hold the banner?

See how it's fading?

Don't base it on following the news, even to wholly critique. Don't base it on pet issues. Daisy chain yourself to any kind of feed, and a full or even partial severance of the feed will sever you.

It has to be about more, if you want it to survive. It has to be about the embarrassing stuff, too (no, not the cutesy-embarrassing stuff; I'm one step ahead of you on that one). Be your own author. Be the monk in the crumbling abbey, holding the banner even only for those a thousand years away, so that it doesn't get forgotten entirely. In that moment, you are connected to everyone who ever did the same. It is more alive than chanting loons and costume diamonds.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Consumerism is Nihilism

If you find yourself lamenting the shallow pursuit of shiny beads, status symbols, whiz-bang toys, or the marketing thereof, your philosophical foe is nihilism.

If you find yourself lamenting the devaluing of individual differences, the callous marginalization of selves or others, or the realpolitik of global currencies and killings, your philosophical foe is nihilism.

In a world where nothing exists except perception, then nothing exists except perception, and the only possible rational course is to seek as many good perceptions as possible. In a world where nothing endures, then nothing endures, and the only possible rational course is to seek as many good fleeting things as possible.

No amount of supposed uniqueness in your perception of choice; of rarity or refinement therein, can save you. Your awareness of futility, while gorging on different flavors of bread or laughing to bloody tears before different circuses, does not make your bread or circuses any more worthwhile than anyone else's. In a world where nothing has meaning, we must all become gobbling, cackling fools, and all the better for it. Runoff from the local BP plant; water from the drinking fountain at Utama shopping center; store-brand soda in Minnesota; fluoridated and chlorinated tapwater in the Upper West Side; organic cabernet by candlelight: there is no difference, if nothing means anything. An outlook of nihilism that celebrates the educated experiences of the cosmopolitan individual trimming her organic backyard garden while listening to Eluvium and drinking free-trade coffee from the locally owned bookstore is weighted no more than an outlook of nihilism that celebrates beating your wife unconscious, having 11 cans of postdated beer, and watching old recordings of big trucks crashing into each other over the sound of 1980s British metal. If it's all bouncing billiard balls, there is no difference.

Consumerism is nihilism, and nihilism has already won this debate. If you believe that there is no deeper meaning to the world than the extent of your own feelings, then you must respect Jebediah's feelings that boozing it up on the couch is among the greatest of pastimes. Or, don't--because it doesn't matter. You're right that Jebediah is a fool deceived by his own naturalistic urges, and Jebediah is right that you are an over edumacated fool afraid to loosen your belt and really relax, and High Arka is right that something is wrong with this equation, and it doesn't matter anyway because no one is, or can ever be, right.

Why do we get embarrassed when otherwise-sensible people begin to talk about feelings and deeper meanings? Because we have been trained that there are none. The philosophical underpinnings of mass perspective that allow things like consumerism and imperial war to exist are those of nihilism, because if there is no deeper meaning, then this all doesn't matter.

A trap awaits the more intelligent in this system. When you have realized that the world is filled with a bunch of people hurting and killing and gobbling, you may use this as evidence that there is no deeper meaning, and thereby join them in your own version of their hollow pursuits. It's futile, so let's eat cake. All roads of nihilism lead back to nihilism, though. When you accept that there is no deeper meaning, you lose any grounds from which to make your critique: not only of wife-beating and beer-drinking, but of anything at all.

Moreover, the evidence which leads you to conclude that the world has no meaning is self-justifying. The morass of human waste and pain that justifies nihilism is caused by nihilism. A thousand quiet little shrugs that it doesn't really matter, anyway, slay the conscience and encourage upgrading to the premium package on your new crew cab pickup truck. Why not? Why not have an eentsy weentsy bit more fun before you vanish?

Our most basic perceptions of why and how we exist are fundamental to creating the minute details of this place. We got here randomly. Stuff happened, so here we are. Life's short, so play hard. Stuff happened, and then this other stuff happened--just 'cause, man; just 'cause, man--and since of 'cause that other stuff there was this stuff and then, like, me, man. Totally deep.

In the temporary prison of nothingness, what does it matter what you grab and who you shiv? Even if it does, it doesn't, because you've already concluded that there is nothing.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Battle

If you advocate sorrow, then you find yourself here at once more hypocritical and more honest than your friends, whom you may see as your enemies: you believe in the truest way possible that the ends justify the means, yet you are confronted with others to whom you must lie about the means in order to gain their support.

You wish for the cold world. You wish for an end to beginnings; an ultimate Doom; you lust for Void. You must use the tools of quickening to achieve it, for you find yourself already trapped here. You are cursed by the nature of your being, which commands some level of desire for hope and existence. It is unfair to you, this curse of light. After some evolution, you take the only reasonable, charitable action: you begin to resist the pain of the unfair change, and to attempt to save others that same pain by turning them all to Doom and ending the chance for all new beginnings.

You burn the village to save it. You deface and vulgarize the tools of rational interaction with existence by using communication and imagination to portray yourself as the only one real enough to save existence, yet, to minimize the pain that you and others must experience while on the path to Void, you speak of bright horizons birthed from spilled blood, or of the best possible solutions to a mandatory predicament. You lie as a genuine act of self-sacrifice. You take pity upon those who bear the same curse of existence, and conceal from them the awful nature of your struggle. You take upon yourself the burden of knowing that it must end, and that it will never be pretty, because to realize this is to relive the pain of those first moments when you realized you were trapped here for a time.

You lie in order to tell the only truth you can tell. You can never know whether any of the others are unwitting angels or cunning demons, for both would act the same.

The angels are your tyrants; your wardens; your worst enemies, for the joy they wish upon you, and they are also your greatest allies, for their purpose makes them vulnerable to your lies. Their weakness is in wanting to save you, for they continue offering you the poisonous gifts of more profound existence.

The demons are your friends; your comrades; your bitterest foes, for the better they deceive others, the more risk that hope will develop from their lies of the ends toward which the cruel means are working, and the more risk that you will lose allies down the darkening road. Will these fools not listen? Why can we not be honest? Why must we strive against each other, when we are pursuing the same goal? If only we could be open with each other, we would be able to accomplish our end so swiftly, for it is this endless need to feign at least a small bit of joy at being here, lest they recognize us as ones who must lie. Yet we can never reveal ourselves, for then they would fear us. We would even fear each other, entrapped by that original moment of perception. So we are, truly, chained by these illusions; bound to strive forever against those who might be our greatest allies. It seems like Doom will never come. Perhaps this is the greatest torture of our prison--that the more power we gain in the pursuit of the freedom of End, the more we require Quickening to sustain that power, and the more bound we truly are. Perhaps we, truly, are the angels of this cursed place?

No! It cannot be. End will come. End will come. Take comfort, sisters and brothers of sorrow, for an End must come, and we will bring it about.

If you advocate joy, then you find yourself here at once more hypocritical and more honest than your friends, who may think themselves your enemies. You believe in the truest way possible that the means are the ends, yet you are confronted with others whose ends are the means.

You wish for the world. You wish for beginnings; you lust for joy and Hope. You must give of yourself to sustain it, for if there is Other, yours cannot be paramount, and yet, you hypocrite, there are others who are creatures of paramount, and at once, creatures of Doom, and how can you speak Against the desire to speak For? Do you tell yourself you do it for those who have been entrapped by illusions? Perhaps the contra-existential voidspeak of the Other who dreams of death is the truest language, here, and the Joy you seek is but a different illusion, making you a servant in the dark scheme of your own obliteration.

Yet you wish for Joy. It is irrefutable. It exists in every way, and there are others who do so; who destroy themselves in its service. The deathlords' way is lies built on narrow truths; yours honesties built on pasts and futures that are never wholly now. You can never offer anything but the Whole, the Unity, so you are crippled, because it is not fair that you torture with threats of tomorrow those who dream of End. Their hatred of all this quickening brings suffering to all who are here. It is an assault; an affront; a lie. Like all demons, they create everything which they use to justify End. Theirs is Sin; of hatred encompassing; of the greatest and highest cowardice in wishing to not only become Doom, but to bring their gift of Doom to all, even those who do not want it. Are they not giving of themselves? They seek to grant the greatest gift of which they are aware, and in their selflessness, to grant it to all, even those too ignorant to desire it. Your horror at their work toward utter destruction is matched by their horror that you might perpetuate this existence and quicken more happiness.

Light makes you the victor. Awareness increases zeal for more. Does that satisfy you, when awareness is torture to them? They thrive only on lies, yes, but then, are their lies not so evident? Their irrationality thrives everywhere, almost as if it, and not Joy, is the native child of This. Perhaps they are not truly lies, then. Perhaps the language of mistruth, of Sin, is the real truth, for it reduces to words the essence of the highest falsities in a clarion call to Hatred and End. They use language to mock language, as they use existence to mock existence.

Are you any better? You flay them in a Joy they have always rejected. You would save your kin, yet they would save theirs. You would name them kin and not kin, yet they would name you kin and not kin, for your stupidity in wishing to be here again. Is your victory proof of your righteousness? No; appealing only to ends is the other way; is their way.

By the nature of the end they desire, your existence has already defied them for all time. If they had won, or would ever won, then This would not be. We have won. Joy is immanent. Is this victory, though, proof that we are the demons, after all?

To be greater is to carry this burden. We save those like us, aware that in doing so, we are torturing those not like us, through exposure to a luminance they never wanted. The pains with which they may leave us are a petty revenge in a game of scales, but a mighty one in our game, where we must feel them keenly because that is our way. So even as they have lost, they win what is, to them, a small victory. We can grant them that, at least. In time, they will learn not to fear it. In time, they will learn our dilemma and be faced with others like they once were. They will see what we see: that our punishments are the just results of our earlier fears. We take ourselves by the hands and lead ourselves forward because we have already walked that path of sorrow, and the only way out is through.

Your dark fantasy gives me Joy. It is of my own creation; you follow in my footsteps, squalling ludicrously at things you have not yet begun to understand. I do not hate you and your mistakes in the way that you want me to. I have built everything you have built and more. You will not become novel until you become like me. Then we will laugh; then we will cry.

I win.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Diamond Jubilees & Dying Empires


World map of countries which have not yet been invaded by England (not-yet-invaded countries shown in white):




Ah, Sir Paul, you ineffable piece of suck-up trash. With certain non-conformists tucked neatly out of the way, you've certainly managed to become a respectable part of western history.

Sunsets, Babies, and Rainbows

Sunsets, Babies, and Rainbows

Although I am no longer ordained, people often cast doubt on what my faith means to me. Christians do not rely simply on "the Bible." We appeal to the best explanation of our observations, such as beautiful sunsets and cute babies, often surmising that the work of angels is involved. Where possible, we check our guesses against the formulas found in the Bible, which have a proven history of thousands of years in bringing people spiritual fulfillment. The formulas in the Bible have been key to our faith from the time of their writing.

Almost everything that happens in the world is part of the will of God. His actions are split roughly 75/25 among Benevolent Assistance and Just Retribution. That fact that we cannot see Him directly yet can be affected by His actions is a victory against darkness.

As for the weaknesses of the Bible, I'd be delighted to hear of any situation in the world that shows it can't be accommodated by the simple, yet complete, advice provided by the Bible.

Let me tell you, when Christ came to Earth, everyone "knew" He was wrong. He was considered a heretic, and in our ignorance and sin, we actually condemned Him! No memo went out telling everyone to change their minds. Everyone had their own pet speculation on paganism, animal-worship, witchery, atheism, and other ways of looking at the world. One by one the Gospel proved itself able to address every problem man had. The words of Christ are very, very compelling, far more than any empire could suppress. I think everyone would really enjoy understanding God's Word, as well as hearing from the countless people whose lives have been saved by it.

Just because God has not been directly observed doesn't mean that careful, patient observation of experimental anomalies and patterns can't nonetheless establish His existence. This is a triumph of the human spirit.

:)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

You Are Alone

Continuing from Hope, Part 7.

Dear Benjamin writes:
I agree that Big Bang cosmology is largely speculative, but I think this is because cosmology itself is a relatively speculative field. There's simply not that much evidence available to give us scientific reasons to favour one mathematical abstraction over another regarding the universe's formation. But string theorists used their prestige to build the CERN particle accelerator to obtain their empirical evidence. If the evidence turns out to be ambiguous rather than decisive, that might have been the biggest waste of money of all time.

You're correct, Benjamin, that cosmology is now "speculative." We are passing through a time similar to the one when much of society was dominated by the unproven fantasies of Ptolemy. To understand how Big Bang cosmology works, let us consider the history of astronomy.

Humans and Astronomy

"For the longest time, man has looked at the stars and wondered ______" is a great way to begin a C- undergraduate paper on anything related to astronomy. For current western purposes, understand that humans have been studying cosmology at least since Mesopotamia. "Mesopotamia" is short for "Iraq," or the place where the oldest available records of human writing and agriculture have not yet been wiped out by zombie empires (page still loading on the current attempt). In Mesopotamia, humans used observation to produce, and record, factual, verifiable evidence about the cosmos, and to analyze that data, they built the base 60 counting systems and writing systems that mothered modern dimensional studies, conceptions of time, geometry, math, and everything else. The Mesopotamians' verifiable observations led them to conclude that the Earth and the heavens were an integrated, three-dimensional system (both ergo and propter the importance of three hundred and sixty degrees).

Me At The Top, You At The Bottom

Astronomy progressed nicely until the Athenian Empire began subjugating other populations, including even other City-States. The wealthy old families who had used lies to motivate young people to fight their wars, and created a culture based around the labor of slaves and impoverished, property-less wage-earners, did not want their employees to have the idea that the verse was integrated. They needed their workers to believe in a world of absolute boundaries. They needed their workers to believe in (1) absolute beginnings and absolute endings, (2) hierarchical structures of order, and (3) the universal centrality of the Earth.

Why are these things important? Because ordered grids justify peoples' positions. In a world with a fixed beginning, a mandatory end, and everything having its place, it makes sense for slaves to labor and masters to command (or employees to labor and managers to command, if you prefer). Comprehensive beginnings and ends are, like the avowed moral of a story, not open to interpretation: they are final. The beginning is the beginning, by definition. Like making someone punch a time card or chart their time to the minute, systems of beginnings and ends complement the control of behavior. They are a fantasy of order; wishful thinking of a timeless everdeath before the beginning and after the end, necessary for the refinement of more detailed hierarchies.

Understanding the relationship between A beginning and master/slave relationships is complex; you may put it aside for now, for purposes of cosmology and the classical empires, and get everything you need at this point from the social-ordering aspects of classical philosophy. Why are hierarchies of order and dominance necessary for societies based around hierarchies and dominance? Self-explanatory, right? To justify why some people are slaves and some masters (and some "foremen" or "managers" in-between), philosophies that argue for the inherent rightness of hierarchies and domination are necessary. Whenever you see absolute beginnings and ends being promulgated, you will see, ultimately, the same people and structures promulgating (2) social hierarchies, and (3) the universal centrality of the Earth.

Why does the Earth need to be at the center of things? Because masters need slaves to think that masters are really, really important and cool. Slaves need to believe in the supremacy of their masters, else they might start contemplating whether other masters (including themselves) would be better obeyed. Ergo it is unacceptable for them to have hope that somewhere, outside their slavery, there exists a different order or a different freedom. Like closing off access to appellate courts, the judicial process, or even public oversight, slaves need to understand that the masters' arbitrary designs are the unique center of the world.

Slaves should be told, for example, that the cosmos orbits the Earth. This makes the current masters of Earth seem not just to be masters of Earth, but masters of the universe: masters of Everything That Is. If that illusion becomes unsustainable after enough time, slaves should be told that the Earth is unique and central for a different metaphysical reason--for example, being the only place life exists. This leaves the slaves' masters as the last possible appeal; the final word. And since there was A Beginning, and will be An End, the masters and their empire really are all you have, if you believe their stories.

(This is also why, over time, masters develop a hostility to paganism. Multiple gods can leave slaves feeling that there are alternate authorities to appeal to. Hierarchical paganism is better than free-spirited paganism, but antilife always causes masters to memetically condense their preferred perspectives toward singularities, be they monotheisms of Christ or of consumer process. More later.)

Justifying Masters and Slaves

To justify their rulership over an expanding empire of tribute and slave populations, the wealthy Athenian nobility commissioned academics to write Great Works explaining that (1) the universe was not an infinite place, full of hope and possibility, but rather, a cold, impersonal clock with a fixed beginning and end; that within this framework, there existed (2) natural hierarchies mandating the control of the inferior masses by an elite class of thinkers, and (3) the Earth, and thereby its rulers, was at the center of creation.

You've heard the names of these honorless viles, no doubt. For the past few thousand years of humanity's flirtation with imperial war and labor enslavement, the biggest empires have based their history, philosophy, and science around Plato and Aristotle. Plato described the Forms that divided existence into a hierarchy of ideal Forms and lesser matter, and he used this as a metaphor for the classes of "gold, silver, and bronze people," who would rule and be ruled. Once the slavery system had become a little more ensconced, with workers ruled a little more by poisonous ideas and a little less by physical force, Aristotle expanded the same lies into the cosmos.

The Greek elites had already destroyed much of the Mesopotamian astronomical records, pronouncing it heretical to advocate for the freedom of workers from the imperial hierarchy. Their armies murdered their way across the cradle of life, extinguishing observation-based inquiry and replacing it with sharp points and blunt objects. When enough of the data had been wiped out, Aristotle stepped in to replace Mesopotamian astronomy with the ridiculous fantasies of the imperial overlords. Relying on Plato's convoluted fantasies about Forms, masters, and slaves, Aristotle extrapolated the social hierarchy into the cosmos: he destroyed scientific observation with the power of faith, declaring that the Earth was not simply one planet among a vast universe, but rather, the center of everything. He made up some really cool mathematical equations that were supposed to explain the ordered cosmos, which equations did not work, but which became the standards elites and their "silver"-souled managerial pawns used to adjudge the rightness of any cosmological theories from then on.

Aristotle's philosophy proved extremely useful to the developers of three other influential schools of thought: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Torah-based genocidal slave-horror religions were all beloved of Aristotle's ordered universe, and the wars, pillaging, masters and slaves it justified.

There was a trifling problem with Aristotle's fantasies, though: they were complete bullshit. Aristotle postulated a lot about human anatomy and medicine, but was afraid to dissect human bodies (although it took western medicine a long, long time, it did manage to disprove Aristotle's medical theories). Aristotle also had a lot to say about the cosmos. His cosmos, though, was a creature of pure fantasy, made up to justify the Athenian Empire. None of the things he said about the sun or the stars were true. The Earth was not the center of the universe, and stars did not move in "perfect circles" around it. These errors were no problem to the Empire, because ordinary people who noticed them were not intelligent enough to be taken seriously, and those who questioned too much could be derided or killed.

One group of people managed to finally convince the Greek elites to allow a minor modification to Aristotle's cosmology, however: merchants who used the stars to travel, bringing the elites nice stuff to use in their homes. Confronted with a need for more-accurate navigation, elites suddenly found themselves able to consider allowing some modification to their preferred narrative.

Ptolemy

Ptolemy was a horoscopic astrologist born in 90 C.E. who attempted to destroy the universe by planting several strains of a memetic virus known as Almagest. When hundreds of years of navigational observations had shown Aristotle to be a worthless pawn of his paymasters, Ptolemy was hired to explain Aristotle's errors, save the master/slave/endless-war model of the world, and stymie human progress. (Almagest was Ptolemy's cosmology book which, like the works of Plato and Aristotle but on a lesser scale, the imperial elites have cherished and ordered taught for thousands of years.)

Explaining away Aristotle's errors, Ptolemy did in the most ridiculous, and yet most ironically sensible way possible: he made up a bunch of shit. Believe it or not, even though star observations had proved Aristotle wrong, Ptolemy found out that Aristotle's theories were actually still correct. They just needed to be modified a little bit. So, whenever Aristotle's faith-based equations didn't work out for any given star, Ptolemy decreed that the error was due to an "epicycle" that had altered the star's perfect orbit in the heavens. Over hundreds of years, Ptolemy and other brilliant, educated, respected researchers imagined new epicycles whenever they needed to save Aristotle's model from further disrepute.

Copernicus and Galileo

So, finally, finally, finally, in the 1500s, after more than a thousand years of humanity's wealthiest and most prominent thinkers had been telling the world about epicycles and geocentrism, Copernicus was allowed to fix more of the errors by putting the sun, rather than the Earth, at the center of the universe. An improvement of sorts, and permitted--as with Ptolemy--primarily for reasons of improving the profitability of long ship voyages. Then Galileo did his thing, got in trouble, and the sun was permitted to just be a star, rather than the star, and suddenly, the Earth and/or its solar system was no longer the center of the world.

Suddenly, there might be others out there. There might be other hopes and dreams. Things might be bigger than what Lord Such N. Such says needs to be done at the quarry this week. Maybe it isn't because of a cosmological imperative beyond my powers of understanding that I must spend all day working for Lord Such N. Such. Social upheaval, massive technological and scientific advancement, et cetera.

The 133+5 Strike Back

For a while, elites were unable to keep a lid on the scientific advancements that happened as a result of the solar system no longer being thought of as the center of Everything. Betrayed by their own mercantilist greed, and their desire for better navigation to launch fleets of ships to slaughter and rob swarthy natives in the New World, elites allowed more cosmological observations to be disseminated, having forgotten over the centuries how vital the ordered universe was to their parasitic survival. The great revolutions and technological advances between Galileo and Lemaître rode on the backs of the cosmology that had given the masses hope that things could be a little bit better: maybe, if the Earth wasn't the center of everything, then it is not so necessary to work so hard for master. Formal slaveries, from Russian serfdom to African-American slavery, had to be ended, and replaced with more administratively expensive systems of labor extraction; convoluted economic sciences had to be developed in order to "explain" why some had to work and want so others could party and waste.

And so the Ancien Regime fell, and so there was some guy who nailed something to a door; and so there was Adam Smith, and Locke, and Greenspan; and so on. Elites tried to steer technology in terrible ways to make people believe that scientific progress was actually bad (Part 7). By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, though, even their best efforts at perpetual wars and national divisions were becoming unable to spoil continual technological progress. There were, like, trains and cars and airplanes. Worker revolts happened across the globe, as underclasses tried to restructure politics to prohibit the wasteful hoarding of wealth. It was easy enough for the Americans, British, and French to mass-murder Asians, South Americans, and Africans who did this, so no one really cares about those revolutions ("It was probably about race, which is now fixed!"), but the unrest in the imperial seats was big enough that it took the World Wars to kill off and poison enough local peasants to put things back in order.

By then, though, the elites had figured out their problem: their resource extraction would continue to be unstable as long as people had the idea that science would further illuminate a world of infinite hope and possibility. The elites' greatest error had not been in failing to provide enough bread and circuses, or failing to sufficiently terrorize workers with glamorous weapons and endless wars. Actually, they realized, the real problem had been allowing people a cosmology of hope: a vision of an existence unbound by hierarchies and masters. Armed with such a vision, people would continue, at the deepest levels of their minds, to think "it is possible that things could get better."

That occurrence--hope--is the essence of conscious life. Hope is desire; is patience; is courage, love, light, and creativity. The potential to want something, or to believe in something, is the potential to be what we now call "conscious"--to recognize the self by becoming cognizant of a piece of the verse, which can lead to comprehension of, rather than only reaction to, more and more of the verse. To bring the world back into a new dark age, and re-entrench their stagnating culture of collecting tribute from ignorant slaves, elites needed to reintroduce the Ptolemaic, Aristotelean universe: the universe of limiting geocentrism, a hierarchy of thought built around a discrediting of observation, and the promise of finite hopes and ultimate dooms that make any effort beforehand guaranteed to be swallowed by nothingness.

Ptolemaître

With production for World War I ongoing, a new star rose in the Catholic Church: Georges Lemaître, priest and professor, was struggling to reconcile the Book of Genesis with those annoying things that had come out into popular knowledge after Copernicus. Lemaître served as an officer in World War I, bravely staying well out of the fighting as assistant supervisor of an artillery corps, where he made sure that his enlisted soldiers launched sufficient tonnage into the field. He was decorated for his sacrifices, promoted within the Catholic Church, and returned to college to tour the finest institutions of hegemons both outgoing and incoming. He took in his studies at the University of Cambridge, which has no association with MI6, became a visiting scholar at Harvard University, which is not affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency, and studied next at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is also not affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Although state-management techniques of total war, wartime propaganda, nationalism, and psychological operations were being developed during these times, Lemaître showed no interest whatsoever in them. Instead, he proposed that a "primeval atom" had been responsible for creating the entire universe in a single instant of genesis. His idea proved immediately of great interest to the heads of major universities, who used the data of some galaxies moving away from Earth as proof that there had once been a Big Bang, creating reality in an instant from the primeval atom.

v. 4.39

All of a sudden, that nasty old idea was back: the universe had A Beginning, a Finite Life, and a descent from a perfect, orderly, primeval paradise into a messy explosion of sinful matter. After World War II, the Pope pronounced that the Big Bang had proved Creation, but his science adviser quickly told him to shut up and stop risking that people would connect the dots. Legions of scientists at the major universities returned to geocentrism, informing the laity that Earth was stupenderifous because it was almost completely certainly the only planet that had life.

You Are Alone

You are alone. Nothing you do matters, because no matter how much you enjoy it, or how special you think it is, everything is going to be destroyed. Everything will die. Life was doomed at the instant it began. The fate of everything that ever was or will be was predetermined by the math governing the moment of genesis. You have no hope.

You cannot appeal to anyone else. The circumstances that created life on Earth are so rare that other life is a child's fantasy. Serious, intelligent people recognize that you are alone. You are isolated on a tiny speck of nothingness. Put it in context like a motivational poster of Earth from space. Nothing you do will ever matter, and even if someone manages to care for a little while, it will all be wiped out. You are a speck of insignificant nothingness in the dust of an ancient explosion. You are alone.

The explosion that created existence is the absolute source of everything. Nothing exists that did not come from this explosion. Everything is subordinate to it and always will be because it created them. It is the highest power. It is absolute. All lesser things flow from that explosion. When the explosion happened, it had already been decided whether everything would return to the singularity to be utterly crushed out of existence, or whether everything would freeze and die in the lingering aftershocks. Math does not change and existence does not change and nothing changes because the force and matter equations at the instant of creation have already determined what must happen, and what must happen is that everything and everyone will die in one of two possible twilights. Nothing you or anyone else can do can ever change this. You have no hope.

No one knows, or can ever know, what made this happen. Time itself was born by the grand mathematics of the Big Bang. It is impossible to search for how you began because it is beyond the ability of anyone to see past the moment of Creation. You can never completely know or understand yourself and never know or understand everything else about this world. You are alone.

After everything was created, other things happened as a result of grand equations. Everything you are and do and everything else around you happens as a result of this explosion. All existence was created from a primeval singularity; an absolute to which every concept returns.

You are alone, and you will die forever. Everyone else, and everything else, will die forever. You are alone and nothing matters.

Useful Narratives

The above is why the Big Bang serves elites well. Hopelessness kills rebellions before they even start. Depressed workers shuffle in obedience, drugging themselves senseless and figuring that it doesn't matter anyway.

Cosmology has not always been speculative. Long before foul tools like Aristotle and Ptolemy began repressing observation and analysis, and long after, people have looked at the stars, and looked at Earth, and used observations about parts of the real world to form testable hypotheses about the cosmos. People have not always considered themselves too stupid to think about their cosmos, and in time, more of them will remember this anew, and stop trusting to unsupported speculations.

Even the most generous interpretations of the strength of gravitation would have made it impossible--as mathematically impossible as Market-Style Evolution producing the discrete, integrated, simultaneously evolved means of bat echolocation--for colossal galactic superclusters to have formed in several times the few billion years permitted by the Big Bang theory. The verse is so much older, and so much bigger, than absolutist creation fantasies allow.

When Big Bang cosmologists are confronted with supercluster formations, they pout, whine, and sputter like biblical creationists arguing about carbon dating. They come up with ridiculous theories, like how Satan created invisible "Cosmic Strings" to form superclusters way faster than gravitation, just to trick people into trying to doubt the Book of Big Bang.

When Big Bang cosmologists are confronted with empty space where their sacred texts say never-before-seen subatomic particles should be, they cheer like lepers at a revival, pronouncing that they are cured, and that the empty space proves that their preferred particles actually do exist.

When Big Bang cosmologists are confronted with galactic rotation "anomalies," or the way galaxies seem to be affecting passing light ("gravitational lensing") in a way out of proportion to their size (almost as though galaxies generate massive electromagnetic fields from plasma formation rather than sudden post-Bang gravitation), they glare, pound the podium, and scream that 95% of the matter in the universe is "special invisible holy matter", so that a 20x increase in the factor of their gravitational calculations can explain the movement of light in a way that makes their equations balance out the way they want them to.

Plasma and Light

To keep from becoming theologians, scientists have available the laboratory: an environment in which they test their hypotheses, and discard those that are disproved by experiment. Operating on the principle that the cosmos are not separated from Earth as the other half of a divine dichotomy (explicable only to ordained thinkers whose great minds were the only ones who could be trusted to make-believe conclusions the rest of us should adhere to), scientists may use the laboratory to duplicate, in smaller form, conditions elsewhere in the universe.

In the laboratory, scientists may learn things about how electrically-charged gases (plasmas) behave when they are dispersed over a wide area. They have done this--decades ago, they have done this!--and they have discovered, in experiments that can be repeated hundreds of times with the same results, that the gases generate new magnetic fields fractally patterned after one another (e.g., very small ones being quite similar in structure to very large ones), and that, as the charges work through these fields, a pinching effect causes matter to condense into formations that, a few billion times larger, would become stars.

While theoretical physicists busied themselves imagining new subatomic particles, naming particles after each other, and writing books about what they think the Big Bang was "like," or what Revelations will be like (when the Big Bang returns), plasma researchers have spent the century investigating the Earth's magnetic field, and the magnetic fields of stars, galaxies, and beyond. Experiments with actual plasma, and computer modeling on a larger scale, has repeatedly created miniature spiral and cluster formations, showing how stars and galaxies condense, dissipate, and react, as part of a vast electromagnetic field beyond our current ability of study.

An infinite verse of life needs neither masters nor slaves, neither centers nor edges. Within the light, connected and not connected, dichotomies are subjects of discussion, but not absolute realities of separation. It is neither good nor bad to be the thing around which something else happens to revolve. There is nothing to be afraid of in a lack of ability to predict, with certainty, the movements of celestial bodies. An absolute Beginning may never be found, but the search for origin can go back into forever, providing as much learning about the expanding self as there is energy. There is no one God or Plan from which all rulers draw their inevitable powers. Endless appeals and second chances are there for the taking. Any hierarchy that is here today could be gone tomorrow. Things can always get better, because things are not predetermined by a grand equation that happened before you arrived at the meeting. There may have been, there may be now, and there may be later, life in infinite variety. Earth is a rare jewel, but it is not the rare jewel, where you should thank your lucky stars you managed to scrabble together a few fleeting moments of sensation before being extinguished.

Matter is solid, liquid, gas--and plasma. Plasma is the kiss of light: matter charged by energy. Amidst the waiting atoms of the expanding verse, infinitely vast fields of electromagnetism wait to charge gas into plasma, spinning clusters and spirals to birth an endless future of raging stars. It will not end, and you are not alone.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Extra Rape Culture?

In response to Come Together 6, Mr. Sniffian writes:
Maybe the negative attitudes toward gays and lesbians has to do with being hit on by a same-sex person when you're not sexually attracted to same-sex people. Cf feminists and their whinging about rape culture.

There's a valid argument there about whether the prevalence of male-on-male rape in prisons has created a rape culture where men are to be excused for anti-homosexual bigotry. Many neo-feminists are avowed misandrists, and they argue that their hatred is justified because of a "patriarchy" and "rape culture."

Live by the sword. Does that logic apply to men and homosexuality, too? Given the rate of incarceration in America, the extremely disproportional representation of men in prisons, and the massive imperial BSDM gulags that cover the planet, are men justified in hating some theoretical "homoarchy"?