On the relative strangeness of common WWI courage to the modern mind

I like this anecdote because of just how alien the attitude is.

Before I had ever been under fire I was walking up the Lille road from Armentières after the light had gone when the Boche turned a machine gun on to the road; my companion subsided into a ditch before I realized what was happening. At Ypres six months later walking behind him along a path that was being shelled I could not detect a tremor; he might have been on parade.

A man may duck his head when a bullet pings past his ear because he has not learnt to take charge of himself. I can remember the cold douche to my self-respect when first I found myself at the mercy of my instincts. But these antics are not in our control; it is too late to try to suppress them when at a stroke they take us by surprise. Only by the birth of a proper attitude to danger can we hope to discipline the frailty of the flesh. Ducking comes from a morbid alertness. The poor fellow is obsessed with a desire to come through. It does not happen when all alternatives have been put away. At Ypres my friend had won his secret battle with fear, he no longer thought of an alternative.

A form of fatalism was common especially in the ranks. There was a runner attached to Headquarters, a tight-lipped, silent fellow who when he was told that he could go on leave replied he did not want to go, he had no friends. He was always taking messages up unhealthy roads out of his turn. One day, while he accompanied me to the trenches, I spoke of a man in ‘A’ Company who was not wearing well. ‘It ain’t no use, sir, if you’re for it, you’re for it.’ I looked at him quickly, being windy myself at that time, but if he had suspected me he would have said nothing. Time had stilled his suspicion of me as a mere civilian. Presently the Boche turned a machine gun on the road. I had the liveliest desire to step into the ditch but was checked by the presence of this fellow at my elbow. After that I was not much bothered. Perhaps too I came to think with Tolstoy that every bullet has a billet. ‘We are all fatalists now,’ I wrote about that time. But was the renunciation complete?

From time to time the desire to live surged up in our hearts…

McMoran, Baron Charles Wilson Moran. The Anatomy of Courage (Kindle Locations 967-980). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.

It’s impossible to comprehend the difference of 100 years of dysgenics has wrought on the white man. Here, Lord Moran is scourging himself for a coward at the hint of an idea that one time he considered taking cover from machine gun fire. Nowadays we’d call him a cuck and the modern officer would remind him that his training was very expensive to the taxpayers and he needs to wear his helmet. But imagine living among a race of men for whom this suicidal espirit de corps was the commonsense opinion.

As at most times, there’s merit in the R-selected, fast life history strategy, dark triad perspective that not being machine-gunned is preferable to being machine-gunned. I even suspect that the tragedies of the early 20th century had something to do with the consequences of out of control eugenics producing men of such physical courage that they outpaced the wisdom necessary to direct their courage toward appropriate outlets.

But these days, the mere desire to live is so rare that it’s the mark of a superior man, much less the higher desires which may override it. Imagine a world where people have such an overflow of asabiyyah that it’s declasse to even think for a moment about taking cover from machine gun fire. “Ey lads, look at mistah special over ‘ere takin’ covah, typical lieutenant roight outta nursery, am I roight lads, wot wot.”

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Inattention

I’ve been slipping gradually into a depression for the last couple of months and it’s beginning to degrade my ability to focus. I don’t like that, so I’m putting some analytical effort toward root cause analysis.

The basic problem is that, in most areas of my life, I’m stuck in a cycle of being graded on attendance and being frustrated at any attempt to do something constructive or meaningful. I actually track my time, so aside from basic life maintenance tasks (these take a lot more time than you’d expect, about 4 hours average per day) there are four areas where I spend most of my time:

  • My day job (20 hrs/wk)
  • School (15 hrs/wk)
  • Exercise (10-15 hrs/wk)
  • My side job (10 hrs/wk)

Three of those are frustrating in the extreme. I gave my three weeks’ notice for latter on Thursday (but I’ll also pick up twice that in classwork after that three-week period). So I spend the vast majority of my time watching the meager products of my effort get disassembled in front of me in exchange for money. According to this study we should expect this state of affairs to drain my sense of intrinsic motivation over time:

Now, I put myself in this situation on purpose in pursuit of a higher goal (software engineering career, financial independence) with the expectation that the process would be demoralizing and that I would have to fight it with psychological trickery. Such trickery is the prerogative of old men, among whom I’ve counted myself since 25 years of age. I think the problem is that I’ve slowed the sense of progress down too much by taking fewer classes to accommodate the extended internship and trying to turn it into a permanent position.

There’s also been an enormous acceleration of the sense that things are being disassembled around me, not just my work but the work of the good and great men of the past. Part of that is the fact that corporate is cannibalizing the infrastructure faster than academia, and part of it is the fact that everyone is accelerating their cannibalism. Failing a major goal this summer because of my part-time boss, not because of my own failings, was also a blow. I was spending maybe half an hour a week on it (nowhere near enough) and he seemed excited, so I thought “what’s the worst that can happen” and let him help, and he flew that plane nose-first into the ground. 100% failure, as in $0 out of a target of $3,000, which was already a piddling revenue target for a real business.

In the Ariely study the difference between the meaningful work group and the meaningless work group was 11 bionicle assemblies versus 7 bionicle assemblies. I’m an extreme outlier in terms of intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic*, hence the historical antipathy with higher education, but I’ve also developed unusually good coping skills, hence the 4.1 GPA in a STEM degree at a decent state school. Note: that’s not as impressive as it appears for someone with a 140 IQ, it’s pretty common for head girl types with 125 IQs to pull off similar grades even in hard science subjects. Most of my advantage over my classmates comes from applying ruthlessness to the foresight my intelligence affords. AKA I’m always looking for the easiest, fastest path from A to B and I’m a very good guesser with a lot of experience doing the college thing. All this is to justify the belief that I’m probably about average for how much impact demotivation has on my work output, i.e. 7 bionicles instead of 11, or running at 64% of normal capacity. Not ideal, supercharged capacity, just a normal, boring TPS reports job where you don’t see a mob of detached mouths from beyond eating away at the fabric of reality.

So the question is whether my current course is wiser than changing it. What if I can’t rebuild my sense of meaning, continue to deteriorate, and eventually lose my ability to show up and get paid for negative accomplishments while getting worse at coding? This is, after all, what k-selection looks like. You find an evolutionary niche in the politburo and hold on to it for dear life while the peasants sell each other their children’s limbs for meat. (That’s a Bible story too if you aren’t big on 20th century history.)

And of course, the worst part is I haven’t been doing anything creative lately. Now we get down to brass tacks. I’m basically an addict who only wants to be alive to get that next fix, and the fix is the feeling that I answered a big question that nobody else bothered to ask. The question that’s always in the back of my mind is whether to quit everything and die young in a flurry of brilliant but economically unsustainable work, or extend my life and make marginal gains a couple times a week over five decades. The deal was to pursue the career and make Blockheads comics later. But the frustration feeds the creative impulse and that’s pushing it to the front. I’m losing the ability to exist IRL not make Blockheads comics about the blockheads IRL. The career thing isn’t viable when you can’t read a job description without thinking up a comic about it and then you realize you’ve been looking out the window for half an hour.

I’m not sure what I’ll do but I’m glad to have framed the question properly.


*Ref: Drive by Daniel Pink and the subdivision ego strength by Paul Cooijmans.

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Paleophrenology rabbithole

H/T Ken:

In paleoneurology, all we have is the form of the brain, as molded and imprinted in the neurocranial morphology. Minor correlation between brain geometry and cognition has been recently evidenced, which may have been more relevant at evolutionary level when considering the largest differences between species (Bruner et al., 2011a).

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Extending-mind,-visuospatial-integration,-and-the-Bruner-Iriki/cfd7305ce8eff9790d0b116c6a127f1d6f23f0b6

Useful reference. No mention of melonheads though. This Bruner fellow has a lot of papers that would go into an “Intro to Edenism” e-book.

You know, that Figueredo guy is also at Arizona University. I wonder if they know each other. You’d figure interesting people would tend to become friends if they ever ran into each other, and interesting academic work isn’t as common of a thing as you’d think at a university. The existence of two of them in the same place almost makes me want to go there.

Almost.

In recent years, genetic and neurological research has expanded the study of the emergence of religion. In 2018, the cultural anthropologist Margaret Boone Rappaport published her analysis of the sensory, neurological, and genetic differences between the great apes, Neanderthals, H. s. sapiens, and H. s. idaltu. She interprets the H. s. sapiens brain and genome as having a unique capacity for religion through characteristics such as expanded parietal lobes, greater cognitive flexibility, and an unusually broad capacity for both altruism and aggression. In Rappaport’s framework, only H. s. sapiens of the hominins is capable of religion for much the same reason as the tools and artworks of prehistoric H. s. sapiens are finer and more detailed than those of their Neanderthal contemporaries; all are products of a unique cognition.[16]

The development of religious capacity is reflected physically in the geometric manner of the final expansion of human parietal lobes, especially the precuneus (Bruner and Iriki 2016; Bruner et al. 2017)

https://repository.arizona.edu/bitstream/handle/10150/628191/Rappaport_Corbally_2018_Paper_One.pdf?sequence=1

Yes, I’m aware that Neanderthal tools and artwork were better than they’re portrayed here. I’m the guy who argued that Neanderthals were engineers, plz no bully.

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C.S. Lewis, Holocaust denier

I’m surprised too, you’d think this would have come up by now.

In the last few years I have spent a great many hours in third-class railway carriages (or corridors) crowded with servicemen. I have shared, to some extent, the shock. I found that nearly all these men disbelieved without hesitation everything that the newspapers said about German cruelties in Poland. They did not think the matter worth discussion: they said the one word “Propaganda” and passed on. This did not shock me: what shocked me was the complete absence of indignation. They believe that their rulers are doing what I take to be the most wicked of all actions—sowing the seeds of future cruelties by telling lies about cruelties that were never committed. But they feel no indignation: it seems to them the sort of procedure one would expect.

This, I think, is disheartening. But the picture as a whole is not disheartening. It demands a drastic revision of our beliefs. We must get rid of our arrogant assumption that it is the masses who can be led by the nose. As far as I can make out, the shoe is on the other foot. The only people who are really the dupes of their favourite newspapers are the intelligentsia. It is they who read leading articles: the poor read the sporting news, which is mostly true. Whether you like this situation or not depends on your views. It is certainly hard on you if you are a Planner or a man with any panacea that demands a nation of united enthusiasts.

– C.S. Lewis, Private Bates

It’s hard to overstate the importance of C.S. Lewis to modern Christians. It’s comparable to MLK for Americans.

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Initial foray into superforecasting power grid reliability for a particular region (Owl convo)

Ref: https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2022/01/11/superforecasting-the-itz-owl-convo/


Superforecast loss of power for example region <- this would be a hard one but very important

any regions on your mind?

Something useful for prepping, because that’s the purpose of the exercise.
And I doubt many of these analyses will be done, because even with a template to follow it’s a lot of work.
That means somewhere rural.
Preppers be like “Hurr durr collapse is gonna be candy and unicorns for me, gonna show those DEMONRATS what for, hurr durr,” and I’d like to disabuse them of that notion also.
California is the future, and it will soon be distributed. And the normies aren’t going to wake up, they’re going to lie down and take it like good little bitches.
We are all Northern Californians now.
I want to end up in Western Michigan, let’s do a rural place 60 minutes outside one of the cities.

Ok. I know basically nothing about the area but let’s see what we can draw up

I was thinking yesterday there may be studies out there for this kind of thing, so it may pay to be a bit opportunistic here.
I.e. We should look for work that’s already been done on the subject and see if any of the selected regions fits the bill.

So…economic case studies, analysis of demographics, that sort of thing?

Yeah, and it just now occurs to me these would be especially prevalent in safety-critical situations like hospitals and nursing homes.
Hospitals have backup power, but there will be risk analyses for situations where the outage outlasts the generators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879211/
“The results of the study shows that most weaknesses of the preparedness of hospitals are represented by inadequately addressed reserves of fuel for the main backup power supply, poor knowledge of employees who are insufficiently retrained, and old backup power supplies (even 35 years in some cases)”

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319673628_Approach_to_Assessing_the_Preparedness_of_Hospitals_to_Power_Outages

This is good
And, of course, you would want to look at the power grid in general

https://www.nerc.com/Pages/default.aspx

Yep
So power, food, demographics, ability to withstand disruptions (this will be key)
What else do we need to consider?

Are we only talking about risk factors for power outages?
Shit, that’s a good Google search term.

no, was thinking more broadly
yeah, let’s focus just on risk factors for power outages

https://www.ijert.org/research/analysis-of-methodologies-for-the-evaluation-of-power-outage-costs-IJERTV4IS051044.pdf
Good references section in that one.
This may also be a good “phone a friend” situation.
My sister’s friend’s fiance is an electrical power distribution engineer.

I’d stick that sort of thing into the “preparation” aspect, not the forecasting aspect, but it’s relevant
It’s the “what to do in context” as opposed to the “context”

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/357366009_A_Comprehensive_Review_on_the_Modern_Power_System_Reliability_Assessment
That one is the holy grail.

Yeha, definitely going to have to dig into this a bit later
Big picture, it would be interesting to get numbers on trends in electricians and similar fields, maybe even closures of small businesses
Nah, that’s probably chasing castles n the sky on this

https://www.mcssl.com/store/powersmiths/electric-power-system-reliability

ECEI = European Critical Electricity Infrastructure
Taken from http://library.lol/main/5B2A7C5C324A16B14523A8CA21F17DB1

Little late for saving Europe at this point

Well yeah, but it was the only hit on libgen for “electric power system reliability

Oh hang on, small changes to the search terms bring up other books.

Was being a bit facetious lol
Yeha, i think this is a “return to later after research topic”

“According to the overview of recent electric power blackouts and near
misses in Appendix 1, the following factors may pose risks to system
security:
x Technical failure of critical grid components. The unanticipated outage
of critical infrastructure components such as generators, transmission
lines or transformers (due to causes such as e.g. ageing, overheating,
extreme duty) may put the system into emergency conditions.
x Inadequate inspection / maintenance practices. Inadequate maintenance
may lead to an increase in equipment failure.
x Adverse operation of line protection devices. The automatic
disconnection of one or more critical transmission network components
due to an apparent fault may accelerate the geographic spread of a
failure and reduce the available time for intervention by an operator.
x Too sensitive settings of generator protection devices. The “early”
disconnection of generators because of protection devices settings,
which are more sensitive than required by the grid connection rules
regarding frequency and voltage disturbances, adversely affects voltage
and frequency control.
x Inefficient Load Shedding. Inadequate automatic or manual load
shedding can actually contribute to the development of a blackout.
x Insufficient cooperation and communication between operators.
Inadequate joint emergency procedures and data exchange among the
involved TSOs, and between the TSOs and the distribution and
generation operators respectively, can be a critical factor in case of a
contingency.
x Insufficient system overview by operators. Insufficient real-time
informat- ion about the power system may lead to inadequate
assessments of the situation followed by inadequate countermeasures
after a contingency.
x Adverse behaviour of the operator. Unanticipated human failure by
operators (generation, transmission or distribution) can influence the
extent of a power failure.
The following factors were identified to complicate and delay the
restoration after a widespread blackout:
x inability of generators to switch on the house-load operation,
x insufficient generators with black-start capabilities, and
x failure of electricity-dependent telecommunication.”

Still not finding much in the way of quantified risk factors…
But I’m convinced it’s out there.

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How IT decisions happen

I’m not saying this is every single time, just every single time that I’ve seen.

  1. The tech people give their recommendation for the $50 million German product that works.
  2. The business people take embarrassingly small bribes (often sexual favors) from the company with the $25 million New Jersey product that only pretends to work but the sales guy was a clean, articulate negro.
  3. The tech people roll over like wet noodles because “it’s not our job to make value judgments hurr durr”.
  4. The business people pound the table like five-year-olds demanding ice cream for dinner.
  5. The project runs way over time and ends up costing $100 million.
  6. The business people are like “This looks bad for accounting we need to go live IMMEDIATELY.”
  7. The tech people are like “That will cause the loss of literally all our core business functions.” Please refer to the burn-down chart*.
  8. The business people are like “Fuck it, we’re doin’ it LIVE yee-haw!” (This must be what the NASA engineers felt like when they made shuttle launch decisions on cocaine and Xanax!)
  9. The business grinds to a complete halt for 1-6 weeks. The fiasco hits local news and the CEO has to fly home early from her green energy conference in Jamaica with her hair still in cornrows to tell everyone that everything is normal and fine. (In the rush she forgets to delete sexually compromising pictures and videos from her company phone,, which leak a couple of years later.)
  10. The business people pound the table like five-year-olds because nothing works anymore (because the demo was faked, imagine my shock). They don’t have any other life skills because you don’t get a business degree unless your goal in life is to not work hard and not understand how anything works (i.e. regress to a five-year-old).
  11. Only half the functionality can be rebuilt from scratch because it’s all proprietary and only the vendor can make changes, and their customer service is as good as their product. They’re too busy to support old sales because they’re out making new sales and new fake products with fake demos.
  12. Half the business’s functions disappear forever because rolling things back would be admitting failure.
  13. The business people quit, add “Launched $100 million software project” to their resumes, and move to jobs with bigger responsibilities.

In conclusion, technical professionals need to learn the negotiating value of throwing a shit-fit and stop pretending to be disinterested moderates. Oh, and if there are any dominatrixes out there, you could be making a lot more per hour by “selling” corporate software on commission to the sorts of guys who have “launched $100 million software project” on their resumes, because they have this strange desire to be treated like five-year-olds.


*This is a real-life example burn-down chart at the tail-end of a 3-year, $100 million software installation project:

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Climate change as Probihition for fossil fuels

Basically, the point of making alcohol illegal was to consolidate the supply to just organized crime. Then the Jewish mafia used the money to take over the government, RICO the Italian mafia, exterminate the Irish mafia, and the rest is post-JFK history. The whole Puritan moral outrage thing was probably just a ploy at the time, nobody actually cared about what church ladies think just like nobody actually cares what Greta Thunberg thinks. This global warming thing is probably just an attempt to build on that success and do it bigger by restricting fossil fuels to the virtue signaling hypocrite class and its try-hard acolytes.

This idea doesn’t require any more explanation than that, it’s all in the title. I’m surprised I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

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Midterm predictions

This is actually really good: https://www.state.gov/briefings-foreign-press-centers/understanding-the-american-voter-in-2022

Predictions:

  • Democrats maintain majority in the Senate.
  • Republicans pick up a very slight majority in the House. I.e. Not more than 30 seats.

Should do a turnout prediction…All right, I’m guessing turnout is between 2014 and 2018 numbers. Higher than 2014, lower than 2018. My reasoning for this is conspiratorial: there’s a massive marketing push for artificial political engagement among Republicans with things like the abortion ban, and this will actually increase Democrat turnout somewhat. But it’s not genuine rage and engagement like in 2018, which was in response to Trump. Marketing to Republicans will increase turnout among Democrats because Republicans vote as a matter of conscientiousness, whereas young progressives vote as personal expression. So if you imagine the election had been the day after the abortion ban, Republicans would have voted at the same rates because “it’s what you do” but you’d have the alarmingly large demographic of feral young women out baying for blood. Whereas normally, right now, with these young people not at all engaged, you’d expect them to be conked out on Xanax on election day.

The trouble for TPTB is that even though Republicans are voting dutifully, they’re very discontented. Something like 85% of them think Biden stole the election. I don’t think that’s legitimately dangerous because these people are orderly uber alles, but TPTB are scared to death of this. So they’re running a fake and gay marketing campaign to get Republicans bought into the system again. I don’t think it’s going to work because the “faith and flag” group is already bought in (i.e. Q-tards), the “committed conservatives” are becoming vaguely aware from financial market manipulation that the system is rigged, the populist right isn’t going to budge, and the ambivalent right isn’t activated by partisan issues like the abortion ban.

The only big question that might be worth thinking through is whether TPTB will throw some red meat to the disengaged Republicans by prosecuting some of the Democrat voter fraud machine. I think no, because it’s too…what am I looking for here…That would be striking at the actual business of the thing. But it’s not impossible. Sometimes you gotta make drastic moves and hurt the feelings of the managerial class. But they’ve been so reliant on pure gaslighting for so long (e.g. the “Ghost of Kiev” Marvel movie) that I think they’ve overspecialized and the golden hammer is all they know and trust.

Another possibility is the Republicans industrialize their voter fraud machine. But you need the right kind of personalities in large numbers for that, so I see it being a very localized phenomenon. GOP voter fraud machine might be possible somewhere with a large number of Peter Thiel’s smart homosexual Republicans. Anyway, the most likely scenario is everyone continues to double-down on their preferred brand of self-delusion. I think we’re riding the 2021 train to the end without any turns. 2020 was the end of plausible deniability, so it’s all Schelling points from here on out.

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Gamers are bad people

Gamers are the worst people on the planet as a direct result of taking games seriously, because without fail they latch on to the most retarded aspects of games and demand more of the retardation from game developers.

An example of this is “juggling” in fighting games. A normal person playing a fighting game who’s being “juggled” by a competitive player will have a common sense response that “that’s basically cheating, it looks retarded, it’s exploiting game mechanics that clearly weren’t intended to be there, it’s stupid, and I don’t want to play this game anymore.” But a GAMER is someone who takes their GAMING seriously, so they’ll respond by GAMING the system and taking this little glitch in the game mechanics as far as it will go. Because it’s COMPETITIVE and they’re IN IT TO WIN IT. And then they’ll demand balanced juggling mechanics in the next iteration of the fighting game and get butthurt if the glitch is taken out of the game because now it’s a TRADITIONAL COMPETITIVE GAME MECHANIC. So the result is that games get more and more retarded over time and, more importantly, less immersive.

I’ll take a moment in this rant to mention that I think video games are generally a good thing. But market demand from GAMERS ruins them at every opportunity. That’s why triple-A games all suck, it’s because they have to respond to market demand. Indie games are allowed to be good because they have their own ideas about what makes games good, and they tell the gamers to go fuck themselves, and the gamers love it.

As I mentioned at the beginning, gamers are bad people as a direct result of being useless people. It’s because they identify with a useless hobby so they want it to be SERIOUS as a way of compensating. I often complain that modern video games feel like white collar job simulators. That’s because GAMERS demand features that turn their games SERIOUS so they can think SERIOUSLY about things like optimizing their builds and all kinds of bullshit like that. The more an action RPG is like trading financial derivatives, the more they praise it for its complex combat mechanics.

These people all need to shut up and fucking die. If they were doing anything moderately useful with their lives they wouldn’t want to have a part-time job studying the mechanics of Elden Ring so they can optimize a wisdom build. Fuck that shit, when I play a fantasy RPG it’s not because I want to stream it to other people who are taking notes so they can optimize their own playstyles, it’s because I want to immerse myself in a fairy tale for half an hour and make normal life seem a little less shitty by association. But no, we have this sick society full of Peter Pan syndrome retards who want to stack poison effects on their burn effects so they can trade mana for dext at 13% above crit and auto-generate the cover sheets on the TPS reports for their SPEEDRUN GAMER STREAM.

I forget, am I playing an anime adventure with a children’s toy or investing in real estate? Either way we gotta grind bro, we gotta leverage these family units and get into hotels bro. Watch this Grant Cardone video, this dude had his epic mount at the age of 25, it’s fuckin’ crazy bro.

Speaking of speed runs, there’s absolutely no better way to squander the immersion of any world than speedrunning. Naturally, gamers DEMAND MORE. They’re like “I don’t have time for your opera scene, one of the most beloved and iconic scenes in video game history, because I’m trying to shave MILLISECONDS off my SPEEDRUN to generate views on my GAMER STREAM.”

So now we have these credit swap derivative financial instrument game mechanic systems, and of course that means you need to have little tooltips popping up at the most immersion-breaking moments for the first three hours of any game, because God forbid the dialogue writers have a spare moment to draw you in. I call this initial three hours of modern games “tooltip hell”.

So you have the scene of Sephiroth stabbing Aeris and Cloud holding her dying body in his arms and then you get a popup that says “Use the right shoulder button to swap dildos in your butthole skill slot so you can stack derivatives for status effect combos on your timesheet!” And there will be a little animated gif of Cloud doing a spin attack with Disney particle effects from the burn/poison stack on his modified fierce attack. Is this an e-learning simulator? Am I doing e-learnings for my bullshit office job right now?

This is all because gamers want to be SERIOUS about something that doesn’t matter at all because they’ve spent their adult lives being UNSERIOUS about everything in life that matters. They have no concept of self-sacrifice, so their suppressed desire to be serious people can only be expressed through a dopaminergic consumer experience that reminds them of childhood, a time when they could actually enjoy games because no one cared about their demands for SERIOUS games that would suck all the vitality out of the experience. Because, as my thesis stated, they are the worst people on the planet.

I actually like video games. I think they’re a great idea and have more potential than any other art form because of the feedback mechanism. But I HATE gamers. They compulsively seek out beautiful things and destroy them with their God-damned uselessness. They’re worse than anime people. They’re worse than furries.

Anyway, that was a good rant. I’ve had that on the brain for a while.

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Guestboner: On debt as a social construct

Giant guestpost by Boneflour.

The Magic Goblin Godfairies of the Modern Economy

I.

Biden announced today that he was canceling $10,000 in debt for most people with federal loans:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/24/biden-expected-to-cancel-10000-in-federal-student-loan-debt-for-most-borrowers.html

For me, this was an inevitable occurrence that had been in the works for at least two years. If you Google “date of first student loan suspension”, Google will tell you that the first suspension of student loan payments was in March 20, 2020. Somewhere between that date and when they extended it through August of that year, I started telling family members with student loans to stop paying anything on those loans.

“No payments, 0% interest, no collections on defaulted loans? Look, take your student loan payment, put it into something that says ‘Blackrock’ or ‘Vanguard’, and wait till they turn payments back on or forgive the debt. Pay off credit cards. Get it in the bank even. Just don’t spend it.”

But when I showed the headline about the debt cancellation to Aeoli, I got suspicion and disbelief:

“I’ll believe it when I see the potential for grift in loan forgiveness.

If they’re doing something nice for people due to economic factors then the apocalypse is approaching faster than I’ve been predicting, but I don’t think that’s it.

This looks like an election-year headline that’s designed to be walked back to small one-time checks for blacks.”

The reaction made me do a double-take. On the one hand, I have been on the money/budget train for a while. This was looking like a ‘when, not if’ event for years now. On the other hand, Aeoli has been relatively better on political predictions. Pretty sure I lost money betting against him at least once.

Fortunately, Aeoli saw the opportunity for grift after a couple minutes. Itz happening, probably. Whew. It’d be silly to write something like this and be wrong about THE central fact of the post in a week or something.

But hang on. Why was this thing that was obvious to me something that looked like fake news to Aeoli? Is the apocalypse approaching faster after all? What was the missing grift that stood in between the news of the headline, and acceptance? (I really probably should have asked!)

Then again, it wasn’t just news about politics, but news about money. And there is a Shadow that stands behind our modern life. Behind its buildings, behind its people, behind everything we see in this world, even the physical dollar bill itself. A place that most people don’t like to think about, that seems to the uninitiated to flicker in and out of existence… Yet the powerful use its realm to create the reality we are bound by.

And the logic of that place made it inevitable that this day would come.

II.

What even is debt, anyway?

One thing that debt is, a thing that makes it… strange, is that debt is very much a social construct. Even the balance of a loan is subject to change based on who owes the debt, and to whom the debt is owed. What people believe about a social construct IS the construct, in a very real sense.

For instance, take a loan for ten thousand dollars. $10,000… or 10k, depending on who you are. Even the representation of the thing shifts in front of us. How much is that debt worth?

If you say $10,000, you probably at least tried to pay your student loans. “Ok, fine, it’s probably closer to $10,000 plus whatever the interest is.” That’s what it’s worth to you, but even then you would be wrong. Why? Because you tried to pay it off.

$10,000 – $10,000 = $0, AKA You Might Be A Member Of The Middle Class If…

A relative sent me this story floating around their corner of the internet. I think this is as close as you can get to the prototypical middle class conception of debt:

Via https://twitter.com/lackingceremony/status/1364052684223913988

Here is how credit cards work:

Imagine stumbling into a fairy ring that belongs to the fairy mafia. An enchanting being appears, smile wide enough to reveal rows of sharp and glistening teeth, and it remarks, “Why, traveler, you look positively destitute! I have just the thing!”

It turns its palms up, revealing fistfuls of gold coins. Gold coins falling to the moss below. Gold coins all around you.

“Borrow whatever you’d like! Just bring it back by the next full moon, alright, my sweet?”

That’s when you notice its necklace of withered human fingers.

You take a handful of gold coins, because you really do need the money. As long as you pay this strange creature back before the next full moon, nothing bad will come of it.

Now, obviously the fairy is trying to trick you. You know that! But you’re confident you can outwit it.

You borrow what you need, and you return it to that magical forest place before the moon fills. All is well. Better than well! The fairy grows fond of you, leaving you larger and larger piles of gold to borrow.

Other fairies begin to make offerings to you as you walk the woods.

One month, life is particularly cruel to you. You can’t pay back the gold you borrowed.

On the night of the full moon, the being appears. “Don’t worry, my sweet. I am merciful. Just give me what you have today, and pay the rest by next moon.” It strokes its gruesome necklace.

“I’m sorry,” you say. “I’ll earn the money. I’ll pay back the debt!”

“Don’t worry at all, precious darling! All in due time. Things have a way of working themselves out.” And then, before disappearing in a puff of smoke, whispered under its breath: “that’s the first finger.”

The fairy keeps leaving you bigger piles of gold. The temptation grows stronger. Eventually, you come to think of it as your gold.

You borrow too much sometimes, and can’t pay it back. “Two fingers,” it whispers without sound. Then three. It keeps letting you take more money.

One day, you realize that regardless of whether you make good on your debts, you can’t stop borrowing more gold. Not only because you’ve built your life around it, but also because if you ever stopped borrowing it would make the fairies very angry. Not just this one. All of them.

You look around you at the world. Your fellow villagers have all fallen under the sway of the fairies. Borrowed fairy gold runs your whole town. People only do business with others if they are known to be in the favour of the fairies. Every day, more hands with missing fingers.

The savvy villager knows just what to do: borrow small amounts of gold regularly, to attract the attention and good graces of the fairies, and always repay it in full before the next moon, knowing it is not their gold. Get charmed and keep their fingers.

Few villagers are savvy.

Anyways, “sinister temptations from the fairy mafia, who will love you dearly if you play their game right” is the framework that helps me make my best credit decisions. Maybe it will be helpful to someone else out there too.”

I think this is, by and large, the “I worked hard and did the right thing” person’s view of debt.

It was my view of debt, once upon a time. The ideal version of this looks like the Standard Life Script, where you go to college, get a job, buy a house, and make payments on things till you die or retire.

For people slipping down the ladder, it looks like leasing a sectional couch, making payments until you run out of money to maintain appearances, and then Aaron’s sends a repo guy your way. You lose a couple fingers to the goblin fairies, but it’s a fair cop. That was the agreement, after all.

But then! THE STATE walks over and bails out the most irresponsible people a normal, hard working son of a gun can think of!

(Besides the banks, of course. They’re always bailing out the banks. And the corporations, but what are you going to do? And the various countries we ladle aid dollars on, but we gotta Stand By Ukraine™. And of course we need More For Israel™.)

Tons of irresponsible borrowers, the people that didn’t even try to pay off their loans, who probably got a degree in Gender Studies, they suddenly get $10,000 off the top, just… vaporized. Won’t someone send a stern warning about responsibility? Won’t someone think of the middle class?

III.

As fate would have it, we do have someone willing to give Stern Warnings about Responsibility and Potential Consequences. We have The Man From The GOP.

What is the net result of this messaging?

The middle class, the people too poor to print money from assets, but who make too much to be “Government Poor”. What happens to them?

They learn that it is somehow not right to use the various government programs. Any legal breaks they could qualify for, any government check-boxes that give boosts based purely on self-identification? To benefit from the system as it is would mean they stop being Real Americans.

After all, Real Americans pay back their loans. Period. Real Congressmen, of course, get their PPP loans forgiven:

How does the lower class think about debt? Let’s ask the question again, changing the who and whom. Take a loan for $10,000. How much is that debt worth?

If you’re a hospital system, it’s worth maybe $200 when you bundle it up and sell it to a collections agency. It’s a lot of work to chase people around and shake them down for whatever they got, and the hospital is busy billing Medicaid anyway. So they sell their right to collect the debt to a collections agency. Whoever the hospital treated that didn’t pay, that person now owes the collections agency.

I read an interview with a rural hospital CEO who estimated that over 50% of their bills from people without insurance went to collections. You know the medical debt that can threaten to wipe out anyone with a hint of assets? A person that gets found knocked out from overdosing in a dumpster is legally required to get the same expensive, life saving treatment as someone else who has insurance… or at least a car to repo.

To the druggie, it’s effectively free money. They got the expensive medical care and are gone.

If you’re a little bit higher up the ladder? Being $10,000 in debt and below the federal poverty line makes you Government Poor. Your social worker will figure out if that means you qualify for six government programs or eight. All you have to do is say you’re too tired to follow the call in procedure. If anything, $10,000 could be worth more than the original sum, especially if, as a ‘distressed borrower’ if, as a distressed borrower, you qualify for emergency financing or can negotiate down the debt.

As an aside, of course, (of course!), THE JEWS would be in on this scheme up to their eyeballs. While Real America is working hard to pay back those debts, THE JEWS are building entire towns out of Section 8 money: https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-jersey-orthodox-20170923-story.html

All of those people have become invisible, because now we’re talking about Gender Studies graduates getting a $10,000 debt writeoff. It’s Hipsters On Food Stamps again: https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/11/hipsters_on_food_stamps.html

I had forgotten about even the idea of Welfare Queens until doing background for this post. So many things have happened so fast it’s hard to keep track. Biden bumped food stamp benefits 27% last August. And what do you know, boxes got smaller, prices got bigger. Well, Real Americans are just going to have to dig deeper. For everyone else, there’s Free Money™

What about them, Jim? 800 billion in Coronavirus loans, 200 billion for student loans, 54 billion for Ukraine, and the GOP response amounts to:

  1. Highlighting the Democrats successfully rewarding their demographics with government money
  2. Disqualifying their own constituencies from getting anything!

IV.

If you want to understand how people on the incline use debt, I like this Real Estate Twitter guy:

This is a guy who understands the meaning of ‘leverage’ – that is, debt as a lever to increase the value of his personal assets and labor.

What is debt? Debt is money… so long as you don’t pay it back. The people at the top get to run the money printer, or have a pile of assets that works much the same way. The people at the bottom get handouts and program benefits.

The people in between get slowly lowered into the gaping chasm of poverty- whoops, I mean a constant erosion of purchasing power- ah, uh. I of course mean the quiet dignity of being Real Americans.

I remember this old story from Weimar Germany, right near the beginning of the hyperinflation. A salaried professional was decently into the stock market, and was almost nervously watching the numbers go up. I mean, prices were going up too, but the guy wasn’t noticing as much because his assets were rising at the same time.

He went to the market to buy produce, and an older man came up to him in line.

“How much are these apples today, do you know?” the old man said.

“Looks like about 17 marks per apple, today”, the salaryman replied.

The old man looked deflated. “I can’t afford 17 marks per apple on my pension.”

Anyone on a fixed income in Weimar Germany got obliterated. Hyperinflation destroyed the purchasing power of money so fast that prices were changing multiple times a day. Yesterday it was a million marks to buy a loaf of bread. So you pull out two million marks to buy some bread, just in case. Whoops, tough luck, it’s six million marks for a loaf, now.

We’re lucky enough to just have regular inflation here.

When you have inflation, you can go two ways. (Hypersimplified, no financial advice, it’s illegal to have opinions on this stuff so I certainly don’t claim to)

-You can raise interest rates, which makes people on debt have a hard time, and rewards anyone with cash in the bank.

OR

-You can just keep inflating, which makes it easy for anyone on debt to pay it all off in inflated dollars and/or keep borrowing more.

Who has debt? And who has cash in the bank? Turns out everyone on top is loaded with debt. Debt is how they pay for things without paying taxes. Like the only rich people that don’t like debt are Steve Jobs and Dave Ramsey, and one of those guys is dead. Coincidentally, Apple is now near 300 billion dollars in debt. This is great for them, because they don’t pay tax on their cash, and interest rates are low.

If these gigacorps were too big to fail over a decade ago, you think we’re going to endure that pain today? And ruin Nanci Pelosi’s stock portfolio?

Who has cash in the bank? The middle class, some of them. For now. And when that runs out, I’m sure they can get some emergency financing at a reasonable monthly payment. Don’t worry, they’ll be too proud for bankruptcy or programs.

You can see a glimpse of the future in what’s happening in the UK right now. How are they dealing with house prices so high that no one can afford to live? Restricting foreign investment? Reducing financialization?

Hell no. They’re seeing if you want to sell your kids into debt:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-07-01/johnson-weighs-50-year-mortgages-that-children-can-inherit#xj4y7vzkg

Last story. I remember reading some random news article from the early 2000s about some reporter doing people watching while on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The part I remember went something like:

“Despite working as a janitor at the New York Stock Exchange, he said he never learned to invest. On the one hand, you have the traders on the floor, staving off the declining purchasing power of the dollar by working to make more of those inflated dollars. On the other hand, you have the janitor, getting poorer despite making the same wage… never bothering to become interested in the opportunities happening literally feet away from him.”

“For those who are aware of where we’re heading, this is going to be the golden age of inflection and Event-Driven investing. For everyone else, it will be absolutely miserable.”

https://adventuresincapitalism.com/2022/08/22/the-pause/

Don’t get me wrong, credit card debt will wipe you out like the story of ye olde faerie mafia warned about. I wouldn’t recommend anyone start off learning about finances by borrowing money, for sure.

But remaining ignorant of one of the main ways our rulers maintain their power is losing by default. If ‘money stuff’ makes your eyes glaze over, you will be ruled by the Shadow looming behind the world we live in.

Might have to assimilate that sheeit: https://aeolipera.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/of-swords-and-shadows/

Get a budget. Learn a new marketable skill. Change jobs for a pay bump. Take this last window of cheapish loans to buy a house you can comfortably make payments on. Hell, buy a couple used cars and resell them to Californians in a few years. Apply for government grants, anything to get out of the quicksand pit that is The Economy.

Just don’t be surprised when the people that run it ‘vote’ themselves more money.

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