Lessons from the Printer

The other day, my printer started giving me trouble. A green light kept flashing that normally never flashes. An amber light was illuminated and a dangerous looking red light was flashing over the door for the ink cartridges. I pushed the button for printing out the diagnostic page and the results were not good. While the print heads were in fine shape and the ink cartridges more than half full, the pink cartridge had expired. In fact, it had expired last year, meaning I had be using an ink corpse for almost a year.

I removed the pink, which is called magenta for some reason, and examined it. I did not see any signs of decomposition, so I put it back in and the lights returned to normal. I was able to print whatever it was I was printing. The next time I tried to print something, the bad lights lit up and I had to go through the same process. For some reason, taking the cartridge out and putting it back in tells the printer to ignore its own concerns about the fitness of the ink cartridge, but only for one print session.

Of course, expiry dates on ink cartridges are ridiculous. In theory the thing can dry up, but that’s just another version of empty. The whole point of doing this is to force users into buying new printers. In my case, the ink replacements will cost twice what I paid for the printer. Only an idiot would do that, so I’ll buy a new printer for $100. Apparently, something happens to ink cartridges to make them cheaper when they are wrapped with a new printer. That means trashing a working printer because pink has expired.

Imagine buying a cheap compact car and finding out that a brake job or a new set of tires costs more than the car. That would never happen, of course, because public outrage would force the government to crack down on the car makers. Built-in obsolescence is fine if it only applies to styles or fashion. When it is part of the engineering process of a good, then the state is expected to step in and put an end to the practice. Planned obsolescence is a form of fraud. The maker is using insider knowledge to trick you.

There has been at least one court case over the practice of the obsoleting of ink cartridges by HP. The resolution was a few million bucks, nothing to discourage the printer oligopoly from continuing the practice. Third parties have tried to get into the print cartridge business, but the makers abuse patent and copyright laws to thwart them. Lexmark went all the way to the Supreme Court in order to block these companies from reproducing cheap ink cartridges. Lexmark lost, but only on narrow grounds so the practice continues.

This is an example of something Steve Sailer has pointed out about Silicon Valley. This industry has thrived as much by thwarting the laws that apply to other industries as they have by pushing the barriers of technology. Whether it is patent laws or labor laws, these big tech firms have played by a different set of rules. In fact, they have often been given the right to make the rules.. Volkswagen is facing a criminal probe over gaming the emissions system, while Apple faces none for tampering with your phone.

The other thing that the printer scams, and now the phone scams, are signalling is the end of the technological revolution. Companies like Google and Apple stopped being technology companies a long time ago. Instead, they are oligopolists. In the case of Apple, they were never a technology company. They were a design and marketing firm that repackaged existing technology into cool consumer products appealing to cosmopolitan hipsters. They sell expensive display items for the trend setters and the fashionable.

As a reader at Sailer’s site observed, Google now resembles an adult daycare center where mentally disturbed women terrorize the few people doing real work. Google has not don’t much of anything, in terms of tech, once it gained a near monopoly of on-line advertising. The reason Susan Wojcicki can wage endless jihad at a money losing division like YouTube is it is owned by an oligopolist given a special right to skim from every internet user on earth. Google is now a tax farmer, not a tech company.

The end of the Industrial Revolution featured civil unrest and industrial scale violence across Europe. In the US, it resulted in great social reform movements that ranged from public morality to economics. By the middle of the 19th century, it was clear that the old feudal governing system was no longer able to maintain order in Europe and the colonial model was not working in America. A century of war and revolution resulted in social democracy, a Western governing system compatible with industrial societies.

What my printer is telling me is not just that the pink has expired, but the social arrangements that allow this scam have also expired. The Technological Revolution has made the old arrangements untenable. It’s why our ruling class struggles to do even the minimum. It may turn out that the managerial state is the perfection of industrial age governance, but entirely unsuited for the technological age. Whether or not we are on the verge of a century of social tumult is hard to know, but that’s the lesson of history.

This also suggests that the great biotech revolution is unlikely to happen. The Industrial Revolution happened outside of state control. Similarly, the Technological Revolution happened outside of the regulatory scheme. Biotech is pretty much a government funded and regulated enterprise at the moment. There are no entrepreneurs in their garage challenging the boundaries of genetics. All this work happens in government sponsored and regulated laboratories. History says revolutions from within never happen.

The Tectonic Paradox

On my morning run, the local temperature read -3° F. That’s an unusually low temperature for this part of the world, but not unprecedented. Modern times makes extremely cold weather not much more than a curiosity. Everyone has shelter and plenty of heat. Even the poor have central HVAC in their homes and plenty of resources to get their energy bill paid for by others. The local bums had to be rounded up, but there are shelters for them as well. Otherwise, it is something to chat about at the office or experience at a distance.

This was not always true. Not long ago, extreme cold resulted in a lot of death and damage. A hundred years ago, deaths from cold were not uncommon in the northern parts of the world. Some of it was due to disease spreading quickly among people huddled together indoors. There was also the poor nutrition that came from not enough food in the winter months. Even so, people did not have what we have now to deal with the cold, so it was not uncommon for people to die when a serious cold snap hit the region.

Go back further and the problem gets even more perilous. A thousand years ago, humans living in areas that got extremely cold, or had long winters, were faced with unique challenges. This required long term planning in order to have enough food, heat and shelter for the winter. It also required a different type of cooperation. Specialization increases productivity so a people facing long winters would be more dependent on one another. Many hands make a light load, but many different skills make it even lighter.

It is generally accepted that humans migrated out of Africa about 60,000 as genetically modern humans. Most likely this meant following a path along the Red Sea and then into Asia and Europe. As the ice sheets receded, humans followed them north to settle into northern Europe and Asia. When the ice sheets began to expand again, these more adaptable and resourceful people moved south, conquering and displacing the people to their south. The slightly improved people became the stock of settled civilization.

Most of this is speculative, but genetics is slowly filling in a lot of blanks. The implication has always been the that harsh environment selected for more resourceful people, who figured out large scale cooperation, burden sharing and so forth. That sounds good until you consider that settled societies did not first start in the north. They began in the mild climates of the Middle East. The data says that the first settled farming communities were in Mesopotamia, which is why it is called the cradle of civilization.

Further, when the Egyptians were building the pyramids, the people in the British Isles were building Stonehenge. That’s an interesting structure, but it was built by people who were barbarians compared to the people of the Middle east. When the Sumerians were writing down things on clay tablets, Europe was lightly populated by people. who had just barely mastered stone tools. Even into the late Roman Empire, the tribes of Europe were hard pressed to do much more than organize a primitive village surrounded by farms.

Of course, all of this has changed. A great puzzle to the blank slate crowd is why it is Europeans rocketed ahead of the rest of the world, in terms of technology and organizational might, starting around the late Middle Ages. When Europeans arrived in Africa, they found a people, who had yet to master the wheel. The ancient civilizations of the Middle and Near East had fallen into squalor. In the new world, the Incas were about where the Egyptians had gotten 5,000 years prior.

It is widely understood that modern humans, homo sapiens, emerged from the speciation phase of sapient humans in Africa about 100 000 years ago. The genetic record supports this conclusion and it provides details in support of the dispersal. Not only are all modern humans walking around today descended from those original humans, a baby born today is not very different genetically from humans of 100,000 years ago. While there is genetic variation in modern humans, significant physiological evolution ended 100,000 years ago.

The archaeological record, what there is at least, says that humans dispersed around the world over the next 50,000 years without much change in behavior. Then seemingly all of a sudden, humans began to change culturally. The first agriculture appears in Mesopotamia and soon after large scale settled societies. New technologies spread in fits and starts as people figured out how to contend with and modify their natural environments. This is the period, up to today, that science refers to as the tectonic phase.

The sapient paradox is the puzzle as to why it took so long for humans to go from hunter-gathers to settled people. The genetic evidence and lots of wishful thinking say that people in Africa 50,000 years ago were not much different from people 10,000 years ago in the Tigris River area. Why did the people in Mesopotamia figure out how to plan and organize large agrarian societies, while the people in Europe were still living off the land in small tribes? Most important, why did it take so long for humans to accomplish it?

The tectonic paradox, a term I just made up, is the puzzle as to why modern Africans were never able to master the wheel or build a structure taller than a man. When Europeans were conquering the globe, the people in sub-Saharan Africa had yet to adopt a written language. At the same time, how is is that the English, who were no more advanced than Arabs in 1066, were the ones to lead the Industrial Revolution? The great gap in material and cultural progress between the big races is recent and unmistakable.

Genetics is starting to unriddle this great puzzle. Even though the genetic difference between human groups is tiny, it turns out that small difference can have huge downstream consequences, particularly with regards to cultural evolution. The high risk environment of northern Europeans, for example, is most likely the root of the wide variety of hair and eye colors that don’t appear anywhere else on earth. A small difference results in people who look like a different species from their close cousins in sub-Saharan Africa.

What this means is that human evolution is not just recent and local, but the behavior differences between populations is not amenable to social engineering, at least not in the short term. The Arabs flowing into Europe are going there because like all mammals, they seek safety and easy access to food and shelter. They are not Germans, however, and no amount of proselytizing will change Mother Nature’s mind on the subject. We may not know exactly why people are different, but we know they are and there’s no changing it.

The New Zeroes

In the coming decades, Western nations are going to be faced with a number of problems stemming from the technological revolution. Some are already with us. We are now post-scarcity societies, where we have more than enough food, medicine and housing for our citizens and even some non-citizens. The pruning force of scarcity is no longer doing its magic to keep the population fit or even sensible. The next big problem is what to do with the tens of millions of extra humans, no longer needed to contribute to society.

The hardest part of the automation wave coming in the next decades will simply be language. What do you call people who no longer have any purpose, in terms of producing goods and services through their labor? For as long as anyone has been alive, the very small slice of the population that has fit this definition could simply be dismissed on moral terms. The underclass is assumed to be lazy or anti-social. Trying to fix this has been a good way to keep the useless off-spring of the middle classes busy is social work.

When the numbers swell as automation eliminates the need for human labor in wide swaths of the economy, it will be impossible to dismiss the idle. When many of the idle are people who formerly occupied office jobs or semi-skilled laboring positions, blaming their condition on a lack of ambition is not going to be possible. The current labor participation rate is about 63% right now. This is about where it was in the Carter years. In the coming decades, that number will fall below 50% due to automation and demographics.

The other challenge is how to support the swelling ranks of the useless in a way that keeps them from causing trouble. The hot idea currently is the universal basic income, which is being experimented with in Finland. In the US, some states are talking about how to replace their welfare programs with something more simple like the UBI. Libertarian economists like the idea of the UBI, because it theoretically allows the under classes to participate in the market economy, unencumbered by the state.

The trouble with this idea, one that they can never overcome, is math. If all citizens have a floor, in terms of their basic income, whatever that floor is, will be the new zero. The only possible way to have a negative income, in real terms, is if someone is paying their employer for the right to work. There may be some bizarre situations where that exists, but in the main, zero is the smallest number that can appear in box #1 of your W2. If that number is bumped up by the UBI, that becomes the new zero, the lowest possible.

Think of it this way. Imagine the government decides to help BMW sell more cars, so they offer every citizen $5000 if they spend it on a BMW, rather than some other car. BMW is now facing a wave of people coming into American dealerships toting a $5,000 check payable to BMW. The logical thing for BMW to do is raise the price of their low end models by $5000. That way, they don’t increase production costs, but they increase the profit per car. In effect, the floor for entry level buyers was just raised by $5000 by the government.

There’s a pretty good real world example of this. The government decided to do something to help working class people get into college. Since many need remedial help, before taking on college work, the scheme was to offer a subsidy to be used for community colleges. The students would use the money to prep for college then head off to a four year university, presumably using loans and aid at that level. The result, however, was the community colleges just raised their tuition by about 65% of the subsidy.

The Universal Basic Income would most likely follow the same pattern. By guaranteeing that no one would earn less than some amount, in lieu of traditional welfare payments, the absolute floor becomes the subsidy level. In effect, the new zero becomes the subsidy so all other wages would be based off that, as the price of goods and services would correspondingly adjust. It is really no different than printing up money and dropping it from helicopters into the ghetto. The UBI would be as inflationary as debasing the currency.

The truth is, the zeroes that our rulers will be forced to address are zero population growth and zero TFR among the surplus populations. For example, you could fix Baltimore in a generation with mandatory Norplant for the underclass. A generation of childless females means the last generation of 80 IQ residents with a propensity for violence. The reason Baltimore is a violent city is not an excess of hard working, college educated STEM workers. The reason the city is a violent mess is the surplus of violent stupid people.

It also means zero immigration. When 80% of today’s immigrants end up on public assistance, the immigrants of tomorrow will be nothing more than useless people to police, feed and house. Japan is the model to follow. They have no immigration and their population levels are about to drop in the coming decades. They are the only nation on earth that is truly ready for the automated future, as they have the demographics to meet a shrinking demand for labor. They also have the cultural confidence to pull it off.

There’s one other zero the West will have to tackle and that is zero participation. The fact is, free-market consumerism and mass democracy work when the right answer is not obvious. As automation takes over more and more tasks, the number of issues that need to be hashed out collectively will diminish. Rule by robot means exactly that, which means voting and popular government will have to be reconsidered. What’s the point of being mayor when there are no more patronage jobs to dole out to friends and family?

Cord Cutting

Anytime I mention cord cutting, I get a ton of responses on it. It’s not just about the cultural phenomenon. For a lot of people, the alternatives to the traditional cable model are much better at delivering the desired content. If you think TV is immoral, the solution is simple. Don’t buy a television. If you enjoy some shows and movies, it gets a little more complicated. Given how many times it comes up, I thought it would be worthwhile to post about what I’m doing as a cord cutter. Others can chime in with what they are doing.

Like a lot of men, I ended up with a cable bill because I liked sports. When I was a kid, there were a few games on a week. Then ESPN came on-line with live sports. Then regional sports networks. Now every league and sport has multiple channels dedicated to showing live events. It is the golden age of TV sports, if the gold standard is measured in quantity, rather than quality.That said, I had all the other stuff on cable so I tried to watch popular shows. It was there and people talked about, so I watched.

My first foray into cord cutting was due to technical issues. I did not have cable for a summer and one of things I noticed is I did not miss it very much. I’ve always been a baseball fan, but listening on the radio is a better way to consume baseball. The other stuff I used to watch, well, I did not miss it. If I felt like watching a movie, I got a disc or watched one of the discs I owned. That’s one of the truths of TV watching I learned. Most of what we watch is re-runs and old movies that we have already watched.

With that in mind, I cut the cord at the same time I bought an Amazon FireTV box. This is a simple little device that lets you access Amazon library of movies and TV shows, over the internet. It plugs into your TV via an HDMI cable and connects to the internet over your wireless. You can also connect it with an Ethernet cable. It also has a simple browser so you can access video on the web, like YouTube. It lets you load apps for other video content providers like Hulu and Netflix. There are a lot of small providers with apps.

I have been a Amazon Prime member for a long time, as I do almost all of my shopping on Amazon. The free shipping pretty much covers the cost of the membership for me. That means I get all of the Prime video, which is old movies and TV shows. For instance, I watched a series called Justified that had gone off the air long before I heard of it. They also have original content and some of it is very well done. Amazon also has a movie and TV show rental service. For most people, Amazon Prime for $90 a year is all they need.

In my case, Amazon is all I needed, but I got curious and sampled some of the other serves and devices just to see what was available. I tried the Hulu live TV service, which is one of the many new services for live TV. Their package has most of the popular cable channels for $40 a month. That also gets you their massive library of old TV shows going back to forever it seems. If you liked Taxi or Three’s Company, you can watch it with your Hulu service. You can also watch Hulu on other devices like phones and tablets.

I gave the DirecTV service a ride and it was buggy as all hell. They say it got better, but my experience was not good. In theory, it should be great as it is an internet version of the DirecTV service, which rated the best of all traditional TV offerings. I know when I used their satellite service, it was fantastic. Their internet option has lots of content, but getting it too work was so frustrating I finally gave up and deleted the app. I was an early adopter so maybe it is better, but I’d recommend Hulu over DirecTV for most people.

Now, if you are not interested in the Amazon ecosystem, then you can use something like Roku. I got one of these free when I signed up for comething. Like the Amazon box, it is a small device that connects to your internet via wireless and to your television through an HDMI cable. The interface is easy to use and the setup is super simple. I had it running in five minutes. That’s really the amazing part of all of these new devices. They are vastly more simple to setup and operate than your old cable box.

Roku does some things really well. It is good at buffering content so even if your internet connection is a little buggy, you get no interruption in the video service. Amazon is not as good at this. It’s also really good at finding content on your PC’s so you can use the Roku to play your music and movie collection in another room. I was really impressed at how well this feature worked. I have a vast music collection so having it available anywhere is nice feature for me. I would imagine the same is true for video collections.

One more thing about the ease of use bit. The new devices are modern, unlike your old cable box. For instance, they use Bluetooth for the remote. You don’t have to point the remote at the box, which means the box can be hidden away for a nice clean look to the TV area. I have mine behind the TV. The remotes are also amazingly well designed. You can navigate everything with a few buttons. The Roku remote has a feature where you can plug headphones into the remote and listen, without disturbing everyone else.

Finally, there is one other thing I’ve been doing. I loaded an app called Kodi on the Amazon FireTV. This is a service that uses add-ons to allow you to see content from anywhere on earth. The legality of this service is dubious, but it is impossible to police. The upshot is you can use Kodi to get all your TV and movies free. You can also watch sporting events from all over the world too. There are two downsides. One is you have fiddle with the installation and configuration. The other is the quality is not always the best.

If you are the sort who enjoys fiddling with stuff, then you can find plenty of on-line guides to setting up the Kodi system. Here’s a guide to installing Kodi on a FireStick. You can get the Fire TV Stick for $40, so you can use it for an experiment without spending much. You can also buy a box that is configured, but people really into this stuff tell me those boxes are mostly junk. My experience is that installing on Amazon took about 30 minutes, most of which was spent watching a video on YouTube. Otherwise, it was simple.

Here’s the thing with Kodi. I have no idea how it is legal or how it could be policed in the future. This has the same vibe as the Napster and LimeWire fads of yesteryear. The technology is designed to circumvent current efforts by the gatekeepers to maintain their monopolies. In the music rackets, the gatekeeprs eventually waged jihad on the users in order to scare people out of using file sharing. It failed, but a lot of people were bullied and hassled by Big Music. You need to assess your risk tolerance before using Kodi.

That’s my cord cutting story.

Nature Finds A Way

One of the more frustrating things about biological realism is that most people really wish there was no such thing as biological realism. The reason ad makers keep trying to sell stuff using little girl football players or race mixing campers is they know most white people wish all that stuff was true. Those ads and their assumptions are flattering to SWPL-ville types. The studied dismissal of human biology by our ruling elite goes largely unchallenged, because the great white middle class hopes they are right about all of it.

I’m always reminded of this when the topic of African population numbers and the world’s most important graph are mentioned. Putting the racial issue aside, the population explosion in Africa is going to be the defining issue of the 21st century. Inevitably, someone always says something like “that assumes those trends go on forever.” The implication is that population math will magically correct itself. Any effort to explain the math is met with more denial and hand waving. Most people don’t want to know about it.

The fact is, the West is struggling with a sub-Saharan population of about three quarters of a billion people. Those flotillas of Africans crossing the Mediterranean every day are causing all sorts of political and economic trouble for Europe. The number of migrants landing on the beaches of Europe are in the thousands right now. That’s thousands per day. Imagine what happens when it is ten thousand a day. In fifteen years the population of Africa will double. The migrant troubles of today will feel like the good old days.

Nature finds a way of solving these sorts of problems. Thomas Malthus gets a bad rap from history, but he gave us a great concept. It is the Malthusian catastrophe. Once population numbers reach the carrying capacity of the land, society collapses and humans fall back to subsistence level existence. It’s never happened, as agricultural technology has far outstripped population growth, but that does not mean catastrophic risk does not increase with population numbers. Risks like pandemics, for example.

Right now, Africa has a Marburg outbreak and a Madagascar Plague outbreak. The Marburg virus is the most interesting. It kills 88% of the people that contract it. There is no known treatment for it either. The outbreak thus far is limited, but Africa is not exactly a well oiled machine when it comes to managing large scale social projects, like containing disease outbreak. Talk to people who study this stuff and you come away with the sense that Africa has been very lucky and their luck is about to run out.

The Madagascar Plague is a different sort of problem. It is a combination of bubonic, pneumonic and septecaemic plagues. Modern medicine has treatments for all three and they are cheap enough to get to Africa. The trouble is, these diseases spread quickly. African medical service are like everything in Africa. They are a circus of inefficiency, corruption and ineptitude. It would not take a very large outbreak to tip over the medical system, as well as the supply chain from the West, to that medical system.

Getting back to the most important graph in the world, one possible change to it could come from a wide scale pandemic. It’s not inconceivable. There have been plenty of pandemics in human history. The Black Plague not only altered the structure of European society, it altered European DNA. There are some good arguments that the Black Death helped accelerate Europe’s cultural progress out of the medieval period. The relationship of land, labor and status were thrown over by a great die off.

There’s another angle to it. The Black Plague did not originate in Europe. It arrived by sea in October 1347 when 12 Genoese trading ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina. Most of the sailors aboard the ships were dead, and those who were still alive were close to it. They had The Plague. Even if those ships had never made it to Europe, the strange disease that was killing people along the great trade routes of Asia was on its way. The Black Death came to Europe the same way the first people came to Europe.

Human-like animals burst out of Africa at least twice and probable three or four times in history. We know that modern humans displaced the Neanderthals, who left Africa and settled Eurasia. The Denisovans were probably displaced by Neanderthals, but that’s open to debate. There is the possibility that the out of Africa narrative is wrong in some important ways, but the available data still suggests that there have been waves of humans out of Africa for as long as there have been bipeds on earth.

Maybe that’s how Mother Nature erases the board and starts over. When one wave of humans runs its course, a new batch of humans burst forth from Africa to replace the old, outmoded ones. The new batch being raw and unformed, they adapt to the new lands they inhabit and give the old evolutionary process another shot. Because they bring new diseases or new forms of diseases, they don’t have to be more fit than the indigenous populations initially. Those invisible bugs they bring with them become the great equalizer.

That could be what we are seeing today. The people of Europe and Asia had a nice run, but they have reached a dead end in the eyes of nature. The fertility rates have plummeted, even in China. In Europe, the willingness of the natives to defend themselves and their territories has collapsed. From the perspective of nature, Eurasians are looking a lot like the giant Panda. Humans may think it worthwhile to maintain a species that no longer will reproduce, but nature is unemotional about these things.

Alternatively, a great plague that originates with the swelling populations of Africa and then spreads around the world is another option. Most people who study the current crop of diseases in Africa don’t think they will mutate into something wildly contagious that overwhelms our social structures. They could be wrong about this. It could be that some new bug alters some common bug, like the flu, which then ravages the human populations of the world. Like the Black Death, it would be carried by outsiders to Europe.

Those are all pleasant outcomes to consider, but there is another option. The population of sub-Saharan Africa could reach a point where it exceeds the capacity of the West to subsidize it. Right now, without foreign aid, Africa would fall into famine and civil war. What if as their numbers increase, the per capita aid required to sustain them increases? The ability to manage the problem could have a much shorter time horizon than Western planners assume. Economic crisis could come to the West like the plague.

Doctor Robot

One of the popular topics among the curious minded is the coming robot revolution where, presumably, all work will be done by robots. A regular feature of the news is the story of how some function previously done by people is now being done by smart machines. The prevailing assumption is that the sort of manual labor jobs done by the working class will disappear over the next generations. That may be true, but it will not be the working man losing out initially. It’s going to be the office people who feel the pinch first.

One of the things everyone sort of knows is that a whole lot of what passes for office work is not all that important. Government is the most obvious example. Everyone is familiar with the image of the road crew standing around watching one guy work, but that pales in comparison to the government agency.Thousands hiding cubicles watching porn or gambling. The paleocons used to make the point that the expansion of government at all levels is primarily a jobs program. It keeps the troublesome busy.

Anyone who has worked in big corporations or large law firms knows there is plenty of busy work going on in those cubicles too. Some of it is defensive, like human resource departments and safety managers, but a lot of it just sort of happens. Make-work jobs grow on an organization like a fungus. The hospitality industry has always suffered from this more than most. In good times, they hire up, even though the need is not there, but then come the lean times, the extra is cut loose and no one really notices.

The robot came to mind when booking my last physical. I’ve been saying for years that a good chunk of health care could be automated today. Yet, the only growing segment of the labor market, outside of government, is health care. At my doctor’s office, I interact with probably a dozen people during a physical. I know what two of them do and one of them could be replaced by a kiosk. The rest are just women in purple scrubs milling around doing nothing I can identify as medical work or even clerical work.

What’s always been puzzling to me is that I never actually see a doctor. In fact, I have yet to meet my doctor in person. We have communicated by e-mail once or twice. Instead, I deal with a nurse practitioner. Once a year, she asks me the same questions and then types my answers into a laptop. She then gives me a physical examination, sticks her finger in my arse and that’s the end of it. If I was allowed to answer the questions in advance, the whole thing could be done as a drive-thru service.

I noticed when booking the last visit, on-line of course, that the time slot was now 30 minutes. In the past, I was told to be there for an hour. Some of that time was waiting for my turn, but most of the face time with the nurse was the question and answer stuff. The new on-line appointment process had me answering the questions during the booking, rather than in person. I even did the insurance work in advance. I just show up, get naked, get violated, give a blood sample and go on my way.

The truth of it is, most people could get along just fine with Doctor Google and a routing service to guide people in need of services to the correct providers. When I hurt my knee a while back, I met with a dozen people I had no reason to meet, just to get to the correct person. Frustratingly, I knew the service I needed because I knew the injury. I even looked up the possible ways to address the injury. But, I was forced by humans to see a dozen of them first. The robot doctor would never do this to me.

This is just one example of the millions of daily tasks now done by humans in offices that can easily be eliminated with current automation. The fact that it is happening so slowly speaks to how resistant work life is to change. Medical service providers are now being squeezed by insurance companies so the medical providers are looking for savings via automation. One day, reality will come crushing in on the insurance firms and most of those jobs will be automated in the blink of an eye.

The medical services business is a massive racket, that exists as it does primarily due to government. I’ve made the point for years that it would look something like veterinary medicine if not for government. As such, it should be more resistant to the robots than other fields. The fact that it is showing signs of disruption due to automation suggests we will get our first glimpse of the robot revolution in a white collar fields, rather than a blue collar one. The robots are coming for the office workers first.

That will be bring some interesting socio-political ramifications that our rulers seem incapable of pondering. Just look at how they struggle to make sense of the public reaction to wholesale migration. Democrats abandoned working class whites in favor or cheap foreign labor and they remained poleaxed over why these voters abandoned Team Clinton for Team Trump. Imagine what happens when suburban unemployment doubles due to automation. Signaling over trannies is probably not going to work too well.

In case anyone is wondering, Doctor Robot gave me a clean bill of health.

Total Information War

The wars that brought to a close the feudal period in Europe started as feudal wars, but ended as national wars. Taking the 14th century as the start of the Late Middle Ages, The Hundred Years’ War would be the start of that end phase. It began as a war between kings, leading armies of conscripts and mercenaries of various ethnicities. By the end, it was a war between two nations, fought by the people of those two nations. It is why most historians point to this as the beginning of the nation-state in Europe.

Similarly, the Thirty Years’ War started as a war of religion, among the smaller states that comprised the Holy Roman Empire. By the end, it was a war fought by nations, carving up central Europe. More important, the defining characteristic of people would not be their king or their religion, but their nation. By the time we get to the Napoleonic Wars, nations were mobilizing their people around love of country, not loyalty to a king. War had evolved to match the new social arrangements brought on by new economic arrangements.

The point here is that wars eventually reflect the age in which they are fought. At the start of the Great War, the French were still using the cavalry charge. They had their line officers wearing brightly colored uniforms so they were easy to spot. The Maxim gun put an end to those old tactics and by the end of the war, both sides were fully employing the weapons and tactics of the industrial age. In many respects, the Second World War was the perfection of the lessons learned in the first industrial age war.

It is not a perfect framing, but a useful one, when thinking about the current crisis and the inevitable wars that will come. Ours is the information age, so the wars will be information wars, especially the civil wars. The corruption of the internet by global corporations on behalf of the emerging global elite is an obvious example. In fact, the corruption of the registrars by companies like Google should be read as a phase change in the information war. The globalists have moved onto a new tactic, as the old tactics have failed.

That is an important aspect here. Up until recently, the Progs had a monopoly on our cultural morality. Labeling someone or something as racist or fascist, was enough to sideline that person or idea. The general public was willing to take their word for it and play along. Now, our Progressive rulers find themselves facing an increasingly skeptical public. Merely calling someone racist or fascist is not enough. That’s why they are moving on to using the blunt force of raw power against threats to their authority.

Now, it is entirely possible that Anglin reported himself to the registrar of Gab, in order to generate attention for himself. He faked the hacking of his site as a publicity stunt. Anglin is a nihilistic provocateur, but he is also just a sideshow. What matters is that we have an extra-judicial set of entities that can regulate political speech on-line. The mere fact that these companies can censor speech on-line, based on their whim or in response to pressure brought by the state, is a serious problem for civilized society.

This is, morally, no different than the decision by the Germans to use poison gas in the Great War. Once it was clear that their conventional weapons were not enough, they made the choice to throw off any moral limits to waging war. That’s what is going on with Big Tech, at the behest of our rulers. In America, speech is considered sacred. Everyone alive has grown up hearing the line about giving your life to defend the right of someone to say offensive things in public. The First Amendment, broadly understood, is sacred.

Our rulers have decided they must abandon that principle.

The response from the dissidents, to the attack on speech by Big Tech, has been an effort to create separate platforms. Gab is an alternative social media platform and others are now in the works. A parallel internet is slowly starting to sprout up with people looking into creating new registrars, new search engines and new funding mechanisms. It is a slow process, and as the attack on Gab shows, one that will be met with escalating attacks from Silicon Valley. We are into a total information war now.

Alt-tech is a defensive response, like the trench was in the Great War. The good guys need weapons to damage the other side’s lines. That will come in time. The old order no longer makes a lot of sense, so it can only be held together by force. The people in charge feel they need to use any means necessary, even if it means squandering what little moral authority they have left. Put another way, they no longer care if we respect them, just as long as we fear them. They’ll choose tyranny if that’s what it takes to remain in control.

That’s why it is important to not follow guys like Andrew Anglin or Chris Cantwell down the rabbit hole. Anglin, to a limited degree, is useful. His site being zapped provides a chance for our side to grab the moral high ground, even if he is mostly a moron. Cantwell is just a sad sack, who should never be encouraged. He makes resistance look bad. This is an information war. Impressions, narratives and imagery are the weapons of this war. Defending reckless lunatics or feckless trouble makers just hands the other side ammo.

When the Germans moved to the use of gas, it was a sign of weakness. When they unleashed unlimited submarine warfare, it was a sign they were scared. Desperate people reach for any weapon that is handy, regardless of the results. That’s our ruling class. They are losing the information war so they seek to reshape the battlefield by shutting off the dissidents from having access to the battlefield. It’s a sign of weakness that they are willing to squander their moral authority. It’s also a sign that they are losing.

The Fakening

A universal rule of life is that anything that has value will be faked or stolen. This happens everywhere on earth. You can go to some place on the fringe of civilization to see ruins of an ancient people and you will find some guy selling fake souvenirs. That’s because the locals figured out that authentic crap from their past had value to those funny looking white tourists, so they started faking the authentic relics from their past. Hobbyists in the collectible business will tell you that fakes are their primary concern.

Most likely, the reason that Facebook beat MySpace was that it was easier for Facebook users to keep score of the number of friends they had and see how that stacked up to others. Humans are social animals and one way to determine status is by the size of one’s social network. High status people have lots of friends and acquaintances. People know who they are by reputation. Therefore, someone on Facebook with 500 friends must be a bigger deal than someone with 5 friends. South Park made sport of this.

Inevitably, people found a way to fake their numbers so it would look like their status was high. Everyone knows about click farms that artificially inflate likes on social media or inflate follower counts. It’s fairly obvious that Facebook has been faking their ad numbers for years. This is mostly to defraud advertisers. Fringe celebrities will use services to inflate their follower counts. I’ve always suspected, for example, that Bill Mitchell is more “social media strategy” than actual listeners. Everything about him looks fake.

This story does a great job walking us through just how easy it is to be Bill Mitchell. Here are the juicy bits:

Instagram influencer marketing is now a $1 billion dollar industry, and you don’t need a cute dog or a book-worthy lifestyle to get into the game. According to an investigation by marketing agency Mediakix, anyone can fake their way into signing profitable contracts with brands.

The agency created two fictitious Instagram accounts: 1) ‘a lifestyle and fashion-centric Instagram model’ and 2) ‘a travel and adventure photographer.’ For the first account, Mediakix hired a model and generated the entire channel content through a one-day photo shoot. Introducing Alexa Rae (calibeachgirl310). The second account was dedicated to Amanda Smith (wanderingggirl), and this time Mediakix went even further. The entire feed was composed of free stock photos of random places across the world and blonde girls, always posing facing away from the camera.

After setting up fake personalities and generating their content, the agency started purchasing followers. “We started with buying 1,000 followers per day because we were concerned that purchasing too many followers at the onset would result in Instagram flagging the account,” Mediakix stated. “However, we quickly found that we were able to buy up to 15,000 followers at a time without encountering any issues.” And how much does this army cost? Between $3-$8 per 1,000.

Essentially, if the followers don’t like or comment on posts, they’re kind of worthless. So the next step was to purchase fake engagement. “Once we had accumulated a few thousand followers for each account, we started buying likes and comments.” Mediakix paid about 12 cents per comment, and between $4-9 per 1,000 likes. For each photo, they purchased 500 to 2,500 likes and 10 to 50 comments. The entire experiment ended up costing Mediakix about $1,000 (around $700 for setting up calibeachgirl310 and around $300 for wanderingggirl). After calibeachgirl310 and wanderingggirl reached 10,000 followers (the threshold amount for signing up on most influencer marketing platforms), Mediakix started applying them for sponsorship deals. “We secured four paid brand deals total, two for each account. The fashion account secured one deal with a swimsuit company and one with a national food and beverage company.” “The travel account secured brand deals with an alcohol brand and the same national food and beverage company. For each campaign, the “influencers” were offered monetary compensation, free product, or both.”

The whole thing is worth a read. Not a lot of it is new to those with a suspicious mind, but when you put it all together in one article like that, it is revelatory. If they could so easily create a fake celebrity on social media, then the people who control social media certainly know this. More important, they know this and use it to their advantage. For example, when a TV person signs up for Twitter, maybe their follower count is artificially inflated by Team Twitter, so that the celeb talks about it to their audience.

Of course, we have the extreme examples of the ruling class de-platforming anyone who challenges the one true faith on Facebook and Twitter. I had the Facebook account associated with this blog deleted due to a mysterious terms of service violation. Carl Benjamin, Sargon of Akkad, had his Twitter feed deleted because he made barren spinsters sad on YouTube. There are hundreds of examples of the scolds slamming the door on dissent. That’s what we can easily see.

You can be sure that the vinegar drinking scolds at Facebook and Twitter are using their robot armies to promote the cat ladies and demote the hate thinkers. People have noticed for a long time that they are mysteriously dropped from follower lists of people placed on the Left’s proscribed list. To do the opposite and promote Lefty crackpots is so obvious that even the most hysterical social justice warrior would think of it. How much of it goes on is hard to know, but the sky is the limit, as was made clear in that piece.

What is not so obvious is that other side of it, the fakery. The ease with which mass media is used to promote fake ideas, fake events and fake people. That’s not so obvious as no one complains about their follower count being inflated. No one is going to look too closely at Bill Mitchell’s twitter followers, because he is a harmless old man keeping himself busy in his retirement. The cumulative effect, however, of so much fakery in the mass media is not without its consequences. The fake new phenomenon is just one obvious example.

What happens when people start to think that Twitter and Facebook are mostly robots interacting with one another? Social trust has a value. Take it away and it can only be replaced by coercion. Otherwise, society begins to dis-aggregate. We know that diversity increases intra-ethnic trust and decreases inter-ethnic trust. In a diverse society, people trust their kin and distrust those not like them. Take that diverse society and immerse it in fake news and fake social media and the result will be a Balkanized, low-trust society.

Of course, one could argue that the strong arm tactics we’re seeing is the the inevitable result of diversity. The reason Google has to fire their smart men is their mere presence calls into the question the diversity project. The reason for the heavy handed social media policing is that diversity requires it. Fake news and fake social media are just modern incarnations of the old propaganda films from the previous era, just updated to make people think distrusting foreigners and rooting for your own team is weird and unnatural.

Regardless of cause and effect, this will not end well.

Extra Crispr

Every few months we get a blazing headline about a breakthrough in genetics that will allegedly lead to super babies. This one from a few months ago is a good example of the genre. It makes for a catchy headline. Of course, the story is never as claimed, as we are not close to creating a race of mutant super babies. Instead, science is creeping up on the ability to do some very narrow gene editing to eliminate well known genetic defects. In fact, a lab has just successfully edited a viable embryo for the first time.

This is a huge step in science, but we are nowhere near close to creating the master race or even making small changes in real humans. The most recent research on human intelligence, for example, identifies 50 genes that correlate to IQ. That’s a lot of combination to sort, assuming that is the whole set of genes related to IQ. There’s also the possibility that other traits are indirectly related to those genes. Even something as simple as hair color can get wildly complex, so we will not be decanting babies anytime soon.

While we are nowhere near close to making super babies, this is one step down the road toward altering the foundations of human existence. The ability to inexpensively alter DNA, even in very simple ways, will lead to better food and better medicine. Imagine a treatment that alters a pathogen such that it attacks cancer cells in the human body. It sounds outlandish, but that is essentially what your immune system does with disease. Of course, the ability to “correct” genetic defects will have an enormous impact on human health.

It’s easy to fall into the science fiction fantasy stuff when thinking about these topics, but small things can have a huge impact on human behavior. Improvements in sanitation, food production and basic medicine greatly altered the human condition. Just look at the impact of life expectancy. If lifespans were still as they were a century ago, things like pension costs and health care would not be topics in politics. It is because we can live, and live vigorously, into our 70’s that these issues are now major topics.

That’s why this gene editing technology is such a big deal. Up until very recent, the consensus in science was that we were generations away from having the ability to edit human DNA. All of a sudden, the future is now and the rush is on to be the first to alter an actual human embryo and bring it to term. It also means that science will suddenly shift from the purely theoretical to the practical. The first guy to figure out how to fix defects in something as frivolous as purebred dogs will become very rich and very famous.

There’s another aspect to this that is probably more important than the potential impact on human biology. What this technology is doing is bringing to center stage a truth about humanity that our betters have been trying to suppress for generations. That is, what we are is what we inherit from our parents. What they are is what they inherited from their parents. Each of us is the result of thousands of generations of breeding. Our physical and cognitive traits are the result of that long ad hoc experiment.

At a basic level, people know this. Anyone who is familiar with human children knows that they look and act like their parents from an early age. But, people don’t think to hard about this stuff and our rulers work to keep us from thinking about how this scales up. If a white man is the result of thousands of generations of white people, that means the African is the result of his ancestors evolving in Africa. It’s not a long walk from there to accepting that race is real. That’s why this thinking is a mortal sin on our age.

This becomes increasingly difficult when it becomes more common for a doctor to use ideas and techniques from genetics to better serve his patients. The old gag about race is that race is a social construct until you need a bone marrow transplant. Not a lot of people have that talk with their doctor, but imagine a world where everyone has a genetic realism talk with their dog breeder. When you know Rover had a known defect in his breed fixed by a vet at the canine gene clinic, talking about biological reality gets a lot easier.

As people come to accept the reality of gene editing, even if it is just to make better dog breeds, it is much more difficult to maintain the mythologies of the blank slate.  Once people come to accept that things like IQ and personality traits are determined by our genes, the blank slate is finished. Even if people don’t accept genetic determinism, they will accept testing for IQ and personality traits to fill engineering positions. In other words, strides in genetics will restore a more sober understanding of the human condition.

This is the negation of the core belief of our ruling elite, but it is telling that our rulers seem to be going in the opposite direction. As science makes clear the realities of human biology, our rulers scream ever louder to the contrary. Instead of simply ignoring the new information, they are waging pogroms too root out anyone not fully committed to their biological denialism. Every week were treated to some new scandal where a heretic is brought forth and punished for acknowledging reality.

It’s common to compare our current age to the scientific revolution. Galileo is a compelling figure. That does work at some level, but what we are really experiencing is something like what happened in the Roman Empire, prior to Constantine. As the people began to embrace the new religion, the rulers tried to crack down on it. This only made the new religion more popular. The great insight of Constantine was to recognize the strategic advantage that was available to the first ruler who embraced the new religion.

That’s probably what awaits us. Science is moving along faster than the the current throne and altar cabal can follow. Some clever politician is going to embrace biological realism and ride it to victory over the prevailing orthodoxy. The first politician to say “Of course men and women are different” and not get run out of town will be the snowflake that sets off the avalanche. Regardless, breakthroughs like CRISPR are about to shake the foundation of our culture. The blank slate’s days are numbered.

The Torquemadas

Long ago, it became clear that genetics was going to upend all of the Progressive assertions about human nature. In fact, it was going to challenge the core of Western Liberalism. It’s a little hard to hold onto the idea that “All men are created equal” when you no longer believe in God and science says some men are more equal than others. It’s impossible to maintain the universalism that is the foundation stone of the prevailing orthodoxy, when group differences are clearly rooted in genetics and evolution.

This is, of course, the end of the world. All of the laws and political institutions of the West have been modified to comport with the belief that all humans are the same, regardless of location. Race, ethnicity, even sex, are now considered outmoded notions from a less enlightened era. The reason American Progressives endlessly talk about institutional racism, for example, is it is the only acceptable answer for why blacks perform so poorly compared to other groups. To consider anything else runs counter to accepted dogma.

It’s not just Prog dogma that is under pressure from science. Most of what people in the West believe about human nature is rooted in the idea of free will. It is assumed that people can choose to be good or evil. A drunkard, with help and training, can choose not to drink. Everything about the self-help industry is based on free will. If you work at it and buy his materials, you can be just as successful as Tony Robbins. If you take his class, you can be like Mike Cernovich. The assumption is you can make yourself into anything.

Again, the universal belief in free will and the blank slate is the bedrock of the modern West. You see it in this Joe Rogan podcast with Sargon of Arkkad. Both guys are right-libertarians, or at least that is how Rogan would describe himself. Arkkad calls himself a liberal, but he most likely means it in the British sense, which corresponds to our conservatives. In their back and forth, they both start from the premise that people are free to make of themselves what they will, regardless of their biology.

Whether we like it or not, science is punching big holes in this underlying belief. At the individual level, it is becoming increasingly clear that your general intelligence is a result of your genes. Personality traits are clearly biological. Even without genetics, people had understood this to be true up until fairly recent. Then there are group differences, which have always been out in the open, but made taboo. It is only a matter of time before science  begins to confirm what people have always known about human diversity.

We are on the cusp of an age, not all that dissimilar to the end of the Renaissance when science and philosophy began to challenge the age old assumptions of the West. The Church gets a bad rap for Galileo, but they were not acting without reason. From the perspective of the people in charge, challenges to the prevailing assumptions about the natural world felt like a leap into the void. Maintaining public order is the first duty of an elite. In that age, it felt as if the ground was shifting under their feet.

The difference, and it is a big difference, is we are not experiencing science for the first time and the public is better informed than 400 years ago. In fact, much of what is coming from genetics and the cognitive sciences confirms what our grandparents took for granted about humanity. The expression “the apple does not fall far from the tree” did not become a hearty chestnut by accident. Long before anyone could conceive of the human genome, humans knew that you inherited your physical and mental traits from your parents.

Another big difference is the modern keepers of morality are far less reasonable and more prone to hysteria than the leaders of the Church in the Renaissance. You see it in stories like this one the other day and in efforts like this one. Race mongering is a sacrament of the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Academics are forced to play along with the morality of the one true faith,. Those who refuse are accused of heresy and threatened with internal banishment, which is exactly the point of promulgating the term “scientific racism.”

The point of a movie called “A Dangerous Idea” is to serve as a warning. The term “scientific racism” is a nonsense phrase. It has no meaning in the literal sense, but it carries with it the implication that science is subject to moral scrutiny. It does not matter if the conclusions of your research are accurate, you could still be found guilty of the mortal sin of racism. Accuracy is no defense against the charge of heresy. The PC enforcers may not have an Inquisition, but they have an unlimited supply of Torquemadas.

They also will have a lot of sympathetic minds in the general public. In the current age, racism and antisemitism are at the top of the hierarchy of evil. White people stumble all over themselves to prove they have nothing but love in their heart for all mankind. At least three generations have been programmed to think that the ultimate goal of society is to achieve perfect racial parity, where everyone is equal and in perfect harmony. Demonizing anyone who speaks out against the prevailing moral hierarchy is not going to be difficult.

It is easy to be pessimistic about these things, but history says that reality does eventually carry the day. There’s also the fact that science has greater moral authority with the public than the PC enforcers. Then there is the reality on the ground. The migrant invasion of Europe is teaching the West that it is a good idea to have separate countries for different people. Even so, the people in charge are not going to yield without a fight. We are on the cusp of a long ugly period in the West, as the old beliefs give way to the new.

It will not end well.