The Modern Prison State

One of the unexpected consequences of the information age is that we have less reliable information, despite have vastly more data. We have facts about the world now that were unimaginable a generation ago. The facts of our society are stashed in massive searchable databases that are accessible to most everyone. You may need some skill to access them, but the data is there. Even data that should be private is available if you are willing to pay for it.

In contrast, the information about our world that we can trust has collapsed into the set of things we can verify on our own. Information is not the same as data, which is a collection of facts. How many miles you drive to work every day is a fact. Information is what we can derive from those facts. If your commute takes an hour and it is 50 miles, we can conclude that you mostly use the highway to get to work, based on some simple math using those two data points.

In theory, information should be value free, as it is facts plus testable logic, with the result being subject to comparisons with the reality. If the information you derive from someone’s driving data indicates he is breaking the speed of sound on his way to work, we know your facts or logic are wrong. The trouble here is that information is not readily testable against reality. We tend to rely on the reputation of the person providing the information and how it fits within our own observations.

That’s the other important distinction between data and information, at least regarding the way in which these words are used in popular discourse. While they are often used interchangeably, data is an objectively true fact, while information is true according to a set of logical rules. Since those rules can be conditional, information can be valid and invalid, depending upon those conditions. “All bachelors are unmarried” is true as long as the word “bachelor” is defined to mean “a man who has not married.”

This may seem a bit esoteric, but it gets to the heart of the crisis in the West. For most of human history and all of Western history, the relationship between data and information was different than we see today. For medieval man, there was never a lot of data about the world, but he could trust the information about it. This was not just the natural world. He could trust the truths about his society, his gods, the people in charge of his society and the sources of his information.

In the modern age, and really just in the last generation, this relationship has flipped around the other way. We have all the data we need for any question. We know more about world than we really want or need to know. What we lack is information and more important, trustworthy sources of information. Medieval man could rely on the Church or the local lord to maintain the rules of society. The only thing modern man can know about his sources of information is they are wrong.

Modern man is now awash in both misinformation and disinformation, in addition to false information. Misinformation is deliberately inaccurate information, which is intended to deceive. Disinformation is deliberately inaccurate information, but from an institution like the state or the media. Of course, false information is information that is inaccurate due to bad data or logic. Compounding this is the current campaign against misinformation and disinformation.

The first thing you should notice is the people most responsible for the tsunami of disinformation are claiming to be at war with disinformation. Unless this results in mass suicide by media and entertainment, it means they are lying. Note also the use of the term “expert” in that piece. There is no such thing as a disinformation expert, outside of the institutions promulgating disinformation. One cannot be an expert at doing something unless you are actually doing that thing.

Note also how the primary sources of both misinformation and disinformation talk about this phenomenon as if they are the victims of it. The managerial class is the single source for the flood of false information. Pranksters may post gags on line to fool people, but the practical joke has been a part of life since the stone age. The online version is just an extension of the flaming bag of dog poo. What the managerial class is doing is a firehose of falsehoods with the stamp of authority.

Put another way, the new phase of the misinformation/disinformation tsunami is the managerial state crying out in pain as it strikes the society over which it rules. The next front in the crisis will be agents of the state arresting people on trumped up charges, for imaginary crimes against the state. This is the Douglas Mackey case. An entirely powerless person is arrested for a crime that does not exist, because the disinformation system says he was passing misinformation on-line.

Since the first humans began to settle into large communities, human organization has relied upon social trust, enforced by a code. Social trust worked in two directions, vertically and horizontally. People could trust their neighbors because they were like them and accepted the same codes of conduct. People trusted their rulers because those rulers enforced the code and attained their positions based on the logic in that code of society. Trust was side-to-side and up-and-down.

Modern economics is turning the horizontal trust of American society into cash equivalents and hauling it away to the pirate coves of finance capital. Americans are living in a world of strangers. The disinformation campaigns intended to distract from this realty are eating away at the vertical trust. Americans no longer trust the people in charge of their society. That distrust is quickly morphing into a distrust of and contempt for the system itself.

Smart people look at the economic model of America and wonder how it can keep going on as it is. The fact that it does go on suggests it can keep going on, but it seems to be violating the rules of the universe. The same can be said for the collapse of social trust and the growing contempt for the system. How long can the people in charge expect to remain in charge when the people over whom they rule are increasingly convinced the rulers and their system are evil and corrupt?

Perhaps that is the final trick of financialization. The first trick was to subvert the basic rules of exchange between people. All of those rules we learned from economics no longer make any sense. The final trick is to subvert the rules of logic themselves, making it so no one can believe or trust anything or anyone. The disinformation age is the final part of the modern prison. Everyone is alone, no one can trust anything, even the laws of the universe. You just have to do what you are told.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


The Ongoing Panic

Depending upon when you mark the start of the Covid mass hysteria, we are either coming up on the one year anniversary or have just past it. Panic was setting in as early as January, but that was mostly with people who saw a profit in it. It was in February when the mass media started picking up on it. For example, no one was wearing a mask at CPAC 2020, which was in February. By March you could not buy a mask anywhere, along with toiletries and paper products.

A year on, we are getting a better picture of what happened in what may go down as one of the great mass panics in human history. Given that the panic is still with us, the picture that is emerging is blurry and incomplete. In parts of the US and Europe, Covid has turned into a weird religion. It is not just a public health issue to be managed and navigated, but a stand-in for Old Scratch. The faithful are not only vigilant, they are Covid vigilantes, minding everyone’s business about it.

One thing we are seeing is a collapse in the number of confirmed cases. This is in line with what we know about past pandemics. The number of cases is slow at first, often because we have no way of testing for the new bug. Then the number of cases rises quickly, partly due to awareness and partly due to panic. In the mass media age, the need for attention surely drove the case count. Contrary to media narratives, the drop in cases has nothing to do with government efforts.

In fact, there is no evidence that any of the measures, public or private, had any impact on the spread of Covid. The fact is the only way to slow the spread of a virus like this is what the Chinese did and that is lock everyone in their homes. Even the Chinese found this to be close to impossible. What the West could do and is doing is theater. It is about protecting the political health of the ruling class, by convincing enough people that the government is doing something about the virus.

Political theater is an essential element of liberal democracy. We live in the modern version of a Dionysian age. All public acts are public performances, and all public performances are part of the larger morality play of politics. Facts and the discourse upon facts is purely a private affair. It is why everything about Covid has been politicized and only came to our attention when it could be politicized. For a year we have been watching Covid theater, rather than a public health response.

Once the drama runs its course on the big stage, and it seems to be reaching that point now that Mumbly Joe is staggering around the White House, it will go off-Broadway and then close up shop entirely. The mass roll out of vaccines with highly questionable claims to effectiveness looks like the way out for government. Once the old people are vaccinated, they can then claim herd immunity has been reached and the rest of the public can get the jab at their leisure.

One caveat to that prediction is that the Covidians are getting worked up over the new strain of Covid. This is the super-Covid that the oracles prophesied back in the before times when this all started. This one is “armed with enhanced capabilities.” Apparently it has infrared vision and portable drones. Additionally, the Nth wave people will be with us forever, it seems. Then you have the Covid industrial complex that has invested heavily in lockdowns and all that surrounds it.

Assuming that the panic does end, and this drama moves off the stage this year, we will also start to get a sense of the degree of madness we have witnesses. For example, we are already getting a hint in the annual flu numbers. In Britain, the number of influenza cases was zero this flu season. Maybe we have witnessed a miracle or maybe Covid kills the influenza virus. Most likely, the flu numbers have been re-classed as Covid, which appears to be the case in the US.

The truth is most cases we call the flu are caused by unknown pathogens. In fact, only about 20% of flu cases treated by the medical system are known to be the flu. The rest are from something else. Since the medicines for treating the symptoms do the job, no one really cares what caused the symptoms. It is why we do not mandate testing for the flu or the common cold. Up until the past year, we just accepted the fact that people get sick in winter and sometimes need to be treated for it.

Once the dust settles and the sober minded can begin to look at the data, what we will find is that the number of deaths was wildly exaggerated. Similarly, the number of people needing hospitalization was also exaggerated. This is common to all pandemics in the modern age. Even the Spanish Flu was exaggerated. A lot of the deaths attributed to it were from other factors, like poor hospital conditions, poorly trained doctors, bad nutrition, and other pathogens.

Another lesson will be that modern government is not capable of managing a genuine crisis, even a mild one like Covid. The story emerging from New York shows that the people making the decisions not only lacked the basic skills to manage a crisis, but they were obsessed with the politics of the moment. Like everything about partisan politics, everyone chose sides. The left-wing states chose first, so the right-wing states were left with the right answer by default. That is no way to run a country.

It is not just a partisan political problem. It is a systemic one. This paper examining the political economy of this panic looks at the role of mass media. The initial reality of the virus was amplified by the mass media, which the decision makers in government rely upon as their primary information source. They acted on the exaggerated claims, which had the effect of confirming those claims to the public. This was picked up and magnified by the media and we had a vicious cycle.

The interesting bit in that paper is the parallel between how a virus spreading faster in a dense population and how panic spreads in a media dense population. Before the mass media age, most people were outside the media environment, in the same way most people were outside urban areas in agrarian times. Just as a pathogen needs a network of people, bad information needs a way to pass from person to person. Our connected age is now a breeding ground for informational pandemics.

Another aspect to this is a growing number of people seem to need the emotional energy that comes from crisis. We saw this in the early days of Covid. The auxiliary volunteer army of scolds were suddenly swarming the public square. That energy eventually transferred to fighting the virus that they call Trump supporters and insurrectionists but is now looking for a new host. They will need another panic this spring and you can be sure one will be supplied.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


Media Man

There are many things that one can point to in the current age as the cause of what we are experiencing. Social crisis is always the result of many factors. There is never one single cause. Even so, examining the individual causes has some utility. It helps provide a little sanity for those living through it. If nothing else, it is like the band playing on the Titanic in that if provides those who are condemned to live through the crisis with a bit of dignity as they sink into the abyss.

Anyway, one of the things that has made modern life such a mess is the vast chorus of nitwits who fill our lives with their voices. They repeat whatever has been placed in their hymnals by people with agendas. One person says something that gets them some attention and then everyone repeats it. The thing is, these people position themselves as authorities on various topics, so when they repeat what they hear, they inevitably lend authority to it. The fact is, they know not what they say.

A good example is this post at the ironically named American Conservative. The post is the generic libertarian boilerplate about the creative destruction and how this means retail will go the way of the buggy whip. In this case, the writer argues that GameStop, the company at the heart of the short squeeze initiated by a gang of retail investors, is a dead company that has no future. He thinks the run up in their shares was due to nostalgia for a bygone era of retail.

The post is complete nonsense, but it is popular nonsense repeated by these sorts of people on many different platforms. In this case, the writer is Addison Del Mastro and he is, according to his bio, the assistant editor and social media manager of The American Conservative. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and writes on urbanism, place, and popular and cultural history. According to his resume, he has never worked in the private sector.

That last bit is typical. Few people in any type of media job have ever worked in the dreaded private sector. Mr. Del Mastro is probably a great guy who does a bang-up job as the social media manager, but he is wholly unqualified to have an opinion on this topic or anything related to it. Maybe he can offer an informed opinion about the social media aspect, but otherwise, the cleaning lady at American Conservative is better qualified to discuss business and finance.

The great conservative philosopher Joseph de Maistre observed that “False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.” This is exactly what we see with the mass media. The public square is flooded with the sound of the ignorant repeating falsehoods they heard from one another. It is a cacophony of half-truths, distortions and outright lies repeated by the unqualified.

The fact is, if you want to understand the GameStop story, you need to know a little about finance and have some experience as a day trader. You should also know how to read a financial statement. At the minimum, that lets you examine the facts and sort the truth from the fiction. Unless you are inside the group that pushed the stock or on the other end of it, you know you are only getting some of the story. That would be the basis for good media analysis or responsible commentary on the story.

That sort of humility is not what we get from managerial man, the type of person who takes up space in the media. Knowing practical things like how to read an income statement is for prols. The managerial man does not have time for that. That is why the media is stocked to the gills with people who know nothing. They spent all of their time accumulating esoteric credentials that they can wear as moral signifiers. These impress the other managerial types. The result is a class of know-nothings.

This is not a new phenomenon. Last year First Things published an interesting article on the Russian intelligentsia prior to and during the revolution. The intelligent was a member of the intelligentsia. Unlike an intellectual, who is a curious and educated person, the intelligent was its opposite. The art of not knowing practical things was a big part of the life of a Russian intelligent. They took pride in not having practical skills or having a useful occupation.

This is close to what we see with managerial man. At all levels, even those who see themselves as critics, they have made sure to never learn anything useful. At the bottom layer, where the media exists, the result is a vast collection of chattering skulls with no useful knowledge of their own. Above them is a vast army of people with no idea how anything works. They crash about from crisis to crisis, hoping the big machine they inherited rights itself before something bad happens.

The remarkable thing about the media is their confidence. These people repeat things with total conviction and certainty. They don’t seem to notice that they are just channeling what they heard from other chattering skulls or what was fed to them by people with an obvious agenda. These hyper-confident morons fill the public space with whatever idiotic thing they heard last. The result is we are inundated by the blather of people who have turned ignorance into a virtue.

The thing that has prevented our ruling class from bringing the roof down on all of us is the system they inherited was very strong. It evolved over many generations of struggle by a competent people with a good foundation. But even the toughest structure will eventually succumb to the wrecking ball of incompetency. Eventually, the collection of jabbering airheads we see in charge of society will push the wrong combination of buttons the end times are upon us.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


 

Nashville

It appears that 2020 will go out with one last bit of madness in the form of what appears to be a random bombing in Nashville. On Christmas morning, according to the police and media, a camper van exploded on an empty downtown street. Supposedly, the police were warned there was a bomb in the area, so they cleared the streets and nearby buildings before the bomb went off. As unlikely as that sounds, it is the story they are currently pushing through the official media organs.

Obviously, the point of the bombing is the story. In a case like this, you have several possible motivations. One is political. The bomber is trying to make a political point that will eventually be revealed. Given the location, it seems unlikely. There is no government facility at the bombing sight. Nashville has not been a hotbed of radical unrest like Portland or Seattle. There has been little in the way of BLM activity or any made-up claims of right-wing activity.

That does not rule out politics, but it probably means the bomber or bombers are well outside the mainstream. In other words, they are crazies who found a reason to be crazy in this way. A lot of what gets classified as terrorism is in fact crazy people acting on something they picked up from the media. Dylann Roof is the media’s favorite terrorist, but in reality, he is a kid with severe psychological problems. Ted Kaczynski is probably the most famous case of crazy man politics.

You also have the more mundane explanations. The bomber could have been in a dispute with the owner of the building. He may have been romantically involved with someone that works in the building. The man responsible for the worst school shooting in American history was a guy who snapped after a local election. Andrew Kehoe went bonkers, killed his wife, burned down his farm and then went to the local school and killed 38 people before blowing himself up in a truck bomb.

Of course, the usual suspects will be flooding the internet with claims that the bomber is part of some wide-ranging secret conspiracy. He was sent by the deep state or maybe he was sent by Q to attack the deep state. This type of event is catnip for the sorts of people into conspiracy theories. Since it fits in well with the Q-grift and the plan-trusting grift, it will draw in the usual crowd. In fairness, the constant lying by people in authority is driving the rise in conspiracy mongering.

That is not to say there is no conspiracy behind this event. We still have no idea what really happened with the Las Vegas shooting. The assassination of Seth Rich on the streets of DC has never been explained. The truth of the FBI conspiracy to overturn the 2016 election has never been explained. You can make a long list of events over the last decade that have been covered up by the government or explained in a way that strains credulity. People are right to be skeptical.

This is the fruit of ruling class corruption. They refuse to abide by the rules and adequately enforce the rules. This lowers public trust. Then the ruling class tolerates an army of incompetents in the bureaucracy, which only makes the public more skeptical of their institutions. To remedy that problem, the media manufactures lies to explain it all, but those lies are rather easy to disprove. Our authoritarian overclass is a toxic blend of mendacity and mediocrity. They can no longer be trusted on anything.

The thing is it could very well be a sign of things to come. Make enough of the people miserable and some of them will respond. Unlike the old Soviet Union or modern China, the American ruling class is fully exposed. They do not live in guarded compounds surrounded by armed guards. They also rely on a managerial class to implement their rules and policies. Those credentialed managers live in easily accessed neighborhoods and travel around in public, totally unprotected.

Then you have the fact that America has tens of millions of people capable of making a decent truck bomb with common materials. How many people walking around in America have been trained by the military on the basics of this stuff? Think about how many guys saw how IED’s and car bombs were used in the Middle East. You do not even have to have had direct experience with these tactics. The use of car bombs and IED’s has been a staple of the mass media for a generation now.

It may seem farfetched but think about what has been normalized this year that was considered crazy talk in 2019. We have widescale lock downs of the population and official talk of internal passports and social credit systems. As America lurches into a high-tech prison state, expect the inmates to respond accordingly. The IRA made war on the support system of the British occupation this way. They used bombs to tell those people that the British could not protect them. It could happen here.


Promotions: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte.

How Fake Is It?

An old expression in the collectibles world is that anything that has value will eventually be faked or stolen. Art is faked so often that certain types of art have lost all value, because no one can tell the fakes from the genuine items. It’s not just crooks trying to beat the rules of the game. The people responsible for policing the fraud are often the people perpetrating the fraud. The truth is, anything that does not have objective value, but relies on insiders, will be subject to fraud and theft.

It is something to keep mind when thinking about the future of internet properties like the big socials and media sites. They rely on traffic to generate revenues from advertisers and those interested in their traffic data. Twitter does not make much from actual ads on the platform, but they sell user information to those interested in tracking your whereabouts on-line and in the real world. That traffic data is essentially what makes it possible for internet properties to thrive.

That brings up that old maxim of the collectibles business. Who is authenticating the data and appraising its value? There are sites that claim to measure web traffic. Like the ratings services for radio and television, they claim to have a secret way to sample traffic and then estimate over all traffic. Obviously, the sites themselves have their traffic, which they use to pitch advertisers, investors and in the case of politics, the donors that keep these operations running.

Of course, the ratings systems for radio and television have been subject to shenanigans for the same reason art is faked. Those ratings have value, so if you can fake those ratings, it’s like having free access to the bank vault. The ratings themselves are published so the unscrupulous can make bold claims. “We’re number one among left-handed Korean midgets” becomes “we’re number one in our segment.” It is a bandit market and the ratings help facilitate it.

In the internet world, capturing web traffic is a bit more complex. That’s where services like SimilarWeb and Alexa step in to provide hard data. Well, it is supposed to be hard data, but where they get their data is not easy to know. They are a bit cagey about how they arrive at their numbers. Alexa claims to rely on a browser plugin and site owners installing their script. SimilarWeb claims to get data from a panel of hundreds of millions of web users, as well as a sample of websites.

How accurate is the data? Probably not very accurate at all. Consider the British political site Unherd. The Alexa rankings don’t give us overall traffic, but the SimilarWeb ratings tell us they get 1.6 million visitors per month. Is that real? There’s no way to know based on the data provided. It looks like a lot of their traffic comes from aggregators, rather than real people. Then again, how many of their readers would install an Alexa browser plugin? Probably very few.

For small sites that deal in politics, traffic is not that big of an issue, as their donors are not targeting a mass audience. What about other types of data like YouTube views or Twitter followers? If that data real? It’s clear that Twitter is loaded with fake accounts, but how many are their fake accounts? It could be millions by now. How many are used by Twitter to boost users they like? No one can know, but it is not hard to see how that would be something they do for public relations reasons.

Think about it. Twitter is the preferred social media platform of the establishment media, so it is Twitter’s interest to make them happy. That is, in part, why they are feverishly scrubbing anything that vexes the gentle souls in the press corps. How hard would it be for them to ramp up the follower counts and likes on those same media accounts with their army of robot user accounts? Follower counts have value, so it is a safe bet those follower counts are being faked by all interested parties.

It is not just fraud, which is probably rampant in all of these measures of internet activity, but incompetence plays a role. YouTube views will go backwards, because thousands of accounts have been purged. This happens on Twitter as well. Of course, Google breaking its own search algorithm to prevent you from seeing what you like has probably crippled the view counts on YouTube. In other words, One type of deception is colliding with another type of deception.

The big players who make up the bulk of ad buying are starting to figure out that web traffic is not all it is claimed to be. Placing ads on a social media platform is worse than a waste of money. If a company made a video of the executive burning piles of their cash and then posted it on YouTube, they would get more sales from that video than running a regular YouTube ad. Eventually, this becomes obvious to everyone and the ad market on-line begins to dry up for these sites.

The real value in these internet properties, obviously, is in the data they steal from users and sell to governments and corporations. Like the ad business, the fraud in this data will eventually become an issue. We very well may be seeing the high water point for the big social media players. Like the market for certain types of art, the inability to tell the real thing from the fakes will collapse the market. In the end, it will not be public contempt but their own shenanigans that ends their reign of terror.

Promotions: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than ha

The Rhythms Of Revolution

People who work with large complex systems understand that you don’t always know what will result from even the smallest change in the system. Usually this lesson is learned the hard way, by making some small change that seems simple, only to find out it caused serious downstream problems. Large complex systems are often highly dependent on initial conditions. Those small changes to the initial state, after they branch through the system, can have a huge impact.

This was a point wiser heads made about the Covid panic. The American economy is a wildly complex nonlinear system. The people in charge of it, the Federal Reserve, have mastered just one small set of inputs. This is why they are so cautious about tinkering with the money supply. They understand that beyond small changes in interest rates, they really don’t know what will happen. Through necessity they have figured out how to buy up distressed assets to keep the asset bubble inflated.

Otherwise, no one understands what is happening in the American economy, outside of their very narrow focus. It’s why the lock downs were an insane idea. What local governments have done is not dissimilar to what the Bolsheviks did to the Russian economy after they gained power. This massive reorganization will not fully play-out for years, maybe decades. Even at this point, no one seems to know how many people are out of work or how many businesses survived.

Something similar may be happening with the culture. Up until this year, the sports entertainment complex was the great distraction. Every type of sporting event enjoyed wide following on television and on-line. It’s always hard to know, given how our ruling class lies about everything, but television ratings for the professional sports leagues were strong enough to keep raising ad rates. The revenues of the sports leagues kept growing, despite decades of growth.

That brings us to now, when the ratings for sports entertainment have suddenly collapsed, even for the marquee events. The NBA, which is the blackest of black sports, cannot draw flies. Keep in mind that the television industry routinely inflates their ratings in their press releases used by the media. The endless celebration of all things black for the last five months seems to not have had the effect they expected. All of the other sports have also seen their ratings collapse.

It is tempting to blame this on the anti-white pogrom that has been foolishly embraced by all the sports leagues. There is certainly part of it. That said, the NFL has tried very hard to minimize this in their presentation. Even the players have realized that it is bad for business. The NHL made the required gestures, but otherwise just operated their business as usual and their ratings were immeasurably small. In other words, it’s not just the anti-white pogrom killing the circus.

The problems facing sports entertainment all of a sudden are an example of the large complex system problem. It turns out that the audience for sport is not just about interest in the product and the quality of the performance. Sports operates within the larger culture, which is a highly complex system. There are rhythms to the culture, which carry things like entertainment through the culture. The lock downs and resulting insanity have broken those rhythms.

It is not just sports entertainment that have seen their model upended by the sudden change in the social rhythms. The first debate show also saw a ratings dip. It was not as big as with sports, but given the amount of pre-game hype, the gap between reality and expectations is every bit as large. For six months the people in charge have been blasting us with anti-Trump agit-prop. Of course, everyone knows Biden is suffering from the early stages of dementia. Yet, not a lot of interest.

The American culture had evolved since the Cold War ended to provide the public with lots of things to keep them busy. For example, the entertainment rackets grew like a weed starting in the 1990’s. People forget that sellouts for sporting events were rare into the 1980’s, then all of a sudden, they were common. There was a time, within living memory, when people had three television channels. Of course, the internet of mass entertainment evolved in this time.

Easily forgotten is that politics as entertainment also grew in this period. In the 1980’s, for example, political junkies had to get by with magazines, the opinion section of the newspaper and the Sunday talk shows. People struggled with the idea of an actor running for political office. Imagine that. The political entertainment complex that evolved since the Cold War has probably been a bigger distraction for the American public than sports or Hollywood.

What seems to have happened is the Covid panic and now the color revolution has broken that system. People are not paying as much attention to these things as they did just a year ago. That means they are not being pulled along by the rhythms of that old system. Think about how many apolitical people that have suddenly been made aware of the reality of race and ethnicity. Put another way, the revolution of 2020 has changed the initial state of the American system.

How this ripples through the system is unknown. The current chaos may not be random at all, but determined by the evolving initial state of white America. In other words, this pogrom we are experiencing may, in fact, be a reaction to the changing attitudes sensed by the ruling class. The woke revolution is about restoring the old initial state, but has instead accelerated the evolution of it. The lock downs provided a better medium in which this evolution can occur.

At this point, the one safe conclusion we can draw is we have passed through a strange chaotic barrier on our way to a new normal. The old order, those old rhythms, are gone for good. That means the social controls that nudged people along toward the results desired by the ruling class are no longer working. All the make-believe excitement the media can generate is not getting people to watch the NBA finals, because it was never about the hype. It was the social structures, those rhythms.

In a complex system like a large human society, when the initial conditions change sufficiently, a new dynamic ensues. The unexpected downstream effects loop back and inform the evolution of those initial conditions. The feedback loop between downstream effects and those evolving initial conditions becomes fuel for the changing state of those initial conditions. This is the revolutionary dynamic. Change fuels more change, until the system collapses in on itself.

When the rulers broke the old rhythms with their lock downs, they started a revolution in the minds of the people over whom they rule. As those minds now evolve, seeing the reality of the world created by their betters, the ruling class is desperately trying to contain the process. Like all radicals, they remain supremely confident they will be the vanguard of this revolution. Like all revolutionaries, they will end up swinging from trees as that is the rhythm of every revolution.

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For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte

The Echo Chamber

For generations now, the mass media has referred to itself as the echo chamber or the media echo chamber, at least with regards to politics. A favorite politician or pundit says something pithy or useful and the media repeats it verbatim until everyone is sick of hearing it. After the 2010 midterms, Barak Obama used the word “shellacked” as in his team was “shellacked”, and the media repeated it every hour for days as if it was wisdom sent down from the heavens.

This was an incite the Clinton crime syndicate figured out how to use to their advantage back in the 1990’s. They would come up with some slogan they wanted to get the media repeating. They would then have their mouth pieces repeat the line over and over in their media appearances. The media would get the hint and then start repeating the slogan over and over. What they essentially did is weaponize the natural conformity of the mass media and use it as a propaganda organ.

The best example of this is the Russian conspiracy stuff from 2016. For weeks DNC e-mails had been leaked on various forums. The media had been instructed to ignore them, but people were reading them anyway. Eventually, Team Clinton came up with the idea of blaming it on Russian hackers. They sent out someone to brief the press on the campaign plane. It was like she had a strange form of Tourette’s. She just kept saying “Russian hacking” like a lunatic.

The fact that it works says a lot of about this age. There are people in the media and in charge of the media operations that understand this ploy. You would think someone would call shenanigans on this once in a while, but it never happens. That’s because the handful of people who control these big media operations think it benefits their long-term project. The people working as reporters are just carny-folk now, willing to say and do anything to keep their acting gig.

Another way the media echo chamber is used to attack the well-being of the public is through the use of manufactured evidence and phony experts. The “gun show loophole” is a perfect example. There is no such thing as a gun show loophole in our gun laws, but the media repeats the lie, anyway. The reason is the Left supplies so-called experts to repeat the lie and wave around fake data in support of it. As a result, we have a label for something that does not actually exist.

The fictional threat of this moment is white supremacy, which no one bothers to define, but the media is sure exists. The echo chamber is regularly fed nonsense stuff like this from so-called think tanks. In the first sentence we see several obvious lies, but they will be echoed by the media. The expectation is that the Biden campaign will program their candidate to repeat some of this stuff, so the media will then repeat it for a few weeks after, to drive home the message.

This is not an accident. This particular scheme is a highly coordinated effort orchestrated by the usual suspects. Not only do we have Daniel Byman at Brookings, but there is his old friend Joshua Geltzer from the Obama administration, now working for a “New America.” Mentioned by Brookings as an expert in support of their claim is Heidi Beirich of the SPLC. She claims to be an expert in extremism, but presumably not extreme fitness, some other kinds of extremism.

Putting aside the obvious fact that none of the people behind the white supremacy propaganda campaign were altar boys, they also all have that weird obsession with Russia that keeps turning up. In this case, they are making the claim that the imaginary white supremacists are in league with the invisible army of Russian agents called the Russian Imperialist Movement. The absurdity of calling them white supremacist is apparently lost on these people.

Stand back and look at this as a whole and we have paranoia over white supremacy, which is entirely fictional. Then you have all the Russian conspiracy stuff, which is mostly fictional. Russia, like every country on earth, has an active interest in the empire, so they try to lobby for their interests. They are not bribing American politicians or planting listening devices outside the White House, but they have their espionage services like every country.

While the media echo chamber is useful in promoting the narrow interests of groups like the Clinton crime syndicate, it is highly susceptible to subversion by people with agendas at odds with the usual suspects. That’s the real reason behind these spasmodic efforts to censure right-wing voices. It is not hard for clever right-wing groups to use social media to meme their ideas into the echo chamber and have them rocket around the internet.

That is the weakness of the media echo chamber. It works when it appears to be organic and natural. If it looks contrived, it actually works against the people trying to influence the public. Leaving it open makes it more effective for the people in charge, but it also makes it useful for their opponents. Closing it off makes the tool useless to the owner, as well as the opponents. There is no middle ground that works for the usual suspects, but not for their enemies.

What this means is the efforts to censure the public square will become less overt in the coming years. Banning people and manipulating search results is too ham-fisted to work in the modern age. Instead, contrived terror campaigns like the “white supremacy” stuff or the Russia paranoia will become the norm. The echo chamber will be flooded with this stuff, in an effort to drown out dissent. The echo chamber is about to be a bell rung by the same people all day every day.

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For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Media Revolution

In 2016, the Left was super confident they had the election in the bag. So confident, in fact, they got sloppy. It was around this time that the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign, assuming President Clinton would be cool with it. They are just as confident this time, but they probably don’t have the FBI and CIA spying for them. Given what happened in 2016, you would think they would be cautious, but instead they are overflowing with certainty. They know they will win.

One reason for this is they have purged almost all dissenting voices from their preferred media platforms. The Drudge Report is so over-the-top in his anti-Trump antics it feels like a parody site now. There is some speculation that he sold out to Silicon Valley grifters, but Drudge was always a creation of Neo-Conservative Inc. His sources and sympathies were always in that world. That whole scene has fired up the NeverTrump clown car for one more ride through the public square.

Twitter is just a far-left echo chamber. They have been purging so many people from the platform, even the most determined of trouble makers has grown bored with the effort it takes to get back on and stay on the site. Sites like Reddit and 4chan are muted for fear of being shut down like 8chan. That site was shuttered by the usual suspects and had to re-spawn as a weaker version of itself. Other than Gab and semi-private platforms, the internet is tumbleweeds and left-wing cranks.

One result seems to be a soaring confidence of the Left. They are carrying on like Dementia Joe will win every state twice in November. His vote will be so strong it will change the results of the last election. That’s an amusing exaggeration, but it is at the heart of their world view. Installing Biden in the White House will allow them to memory hole the 2016 election, as if it never happened. They will probably instruct textbook makers to skip the last four years of history.

Another result is some former enthusiasts of the Trump campaign are very depressed, certain that their guy will lose and that he deserves to lose. The anti-Semites, for example, are sure everyone is abandoning Trump, because the anti-Semites have been purged from the internet. It’s really weird how those guys on the one hand claim our greatest ally controls the media, but on the other hand they intensely follow the media and accept what they see at face value.

It is a good example of how the intensely on-line can lose perspective. When all of your inputs are from on-line media sources and people who agree with you, often two sets with great overlap, you get a warped view of the world. That’s the irony in what we are seeing right now. The former Trump fans who now hate Trump look at the media and see confirmation, while the people who hate those former Trump enthusiasts see the same media and also see confirmation.

The thing is, normal white people are getting really sick of the hate whitey stuff all over the media. During the last few months, whitey has been finding refuge in watching movies and television shows. Now they are being bombarded with explicit hatred of white people. If you circulate around normal people, it comes up a lot. When it does come up, the intensity is plain as day. These are people who would be Trump voters, so it is not as if this is changing minds, but it is pissing them off.

The puzzle is, with the lack of confirmation, will these people act on their anger and frustration this November. They don’t have anyone but Tucker in the media addressing their anger. They can’t get confirmation on-line, even from dissidents, as they have either been purged from social media, toned it down or now operate in semi-private venues like this one. Tucker having record numbers, however, suggests there is a deep reserve of pissed off Trump voters.

An important tenet of modern mass media is that these big social media platforms dictate public sentiment. The Left used to say, in the before times, that their control of the media was worth as much as 4-5 points in an election. That was probably an exaggeration, but it did seem to matter. They controlled what was discussed, thus always giving the Democrats home field advantage. They are now sure their control of social media is driving public sentiment.

Is the same true of modern media? The 2016 election could be used to argue both sides of that debate. Trump used Twitter to get around and control the media, by forcing them to respond to him, rather than the other way around. On the other hand, he was confronted by a wall of sound from the Left, but won anyway. It is easy to forget, but the Left was every bit as triumphant and nasty four years ago as they are right now, but the voters did not follow along as predicted.

He also had his rallies, which had to be covered by the media. This confirmed to his supporters that they were not alone. They saw lots of normal people enjoying the rallies and they saw the cranks in the media mocking those fellow normies. It was both confirming and infuriating. That’s the thing he needs to work around this time. He needs to let his voters see that normal people are just as angry at the revolution and that the way to express it is to support Trump.

One thing that has always been true about the American Left is they think rhetoric that works once will work forever and in all situations. The word “Nazi’ has been so overused that only far-left cranks respond to it with something other than laughter. Racist is heading in the same direction, as most normal white just laugh at it now. We may be seeing something like this with mass media. The Left has so abused their control of the media that it now amplifies sentiment, rather than alters it.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Naked Eye

Imagine you are kidnapped off the streets and after a period blindfolded isolation transported to a small coastal village. instead of being chased by a balloon-like automaton, you find yourself constantly watched by cameras. You begin to notice that everywhere you go, there is a camera. You even discoverer them in the bathroom and in your sleeping quarters. Further, these cameras are beaming your activities to a large screen in the middle of the village in real-time.

Once you discovered the reality in which you were now living, you would begin to mull over the consequences. For example, escape would no longer be a possibility, as the cameras would be broadcasting your efforts in real-time. You could not try to plot with others in the village, as that would be broadcast to the whole village as well. Of course, things you may do in private, but never in public, would suddenly become public, once you forgot about the camera and did them as usual.

This is a good plot for a sci-fin story, but it is pretty close to reality now for cops in the United States. They don’t have to deal with cameras in the toilet yet, but they are recorded constantly as they go about their jobs. Often, they are recorded without their knowledge, so they now must assume they are always performing in front of an audience that is hostile to them. They get called to handle a misbehaving black and there will be an army of militant millennials holding up cellphones.

It is not just cameras on the street. The use of selective editing, which has become a feature of these hoaxes, means the cops wear body cams. Remember back to the O.J. Simpson trial and the cops had to deal with secret audio recordings of themselves long before Simpson murdered his wife. Mark Furman’s life was ruined by recordings of himself using colorful metaphors in an interview years prior. Cops are fired now for private communications that become public.

One thing these latest batch of riots seem to be revealing is that conventional policing is impossible in the Synopticon. The Panopticon is a situation where the few watch the man, like in a prison or an authoritarian state. The Synopticon is where the many watch the few, like a theater. The crowd watches the actors on the stage. In modern America, we have a combination of both. The state and its technology patterns watch us, while the masses and their cameras watch the police.

Most of the debate about the emerging surveillance state focuses on the state and its private collaborators spying on citizens. So far, we have not had a riot over Apple harvesting your metadata. We have been convulsed by video of cops beating blacks turning up on social media. Just wait until deep fakes make it possible for people to post realistic fake videos of cops abusing blacks. What happens when activists can use technology to identify the cops and that gets posted on-line?

If you are a cop, unless you are a rage-head moron, you have to realize that your range of motion is increasingly restricted. In these riots, the cops have been mostly useless, because there is no way for them to be effective. Even if they are following direct orders to end the violence, they know their bosses will not back them if a video of them getting rough with a hooligan shows up on-line. If a rioter captures one of them using colorful language in a melee with rioters, the cop is fired.

We think of privacy as just the area of our life that is off-limits to the public, but in reality, privacy is a spectrum. There are things that exist only in our head or perhaps with a few people in our lives. Then there are things known to family and close friends. Out further and there are things that are known to the community or maybe the workplace. The most distant belt is where we are supposed to find the things available to anyone interested enough to discover them, like an address or phone number.

Technology is collapsing the normal structure of privacy. There are things that get done in public that should not be broadcast to the world, just as there are things done in private that should not be made public. Those cops who took down the Gentle Giant did not spring from nothing. They were operating in the context of a career dealing with these sorts of people. The bit of the event we see is not the entirety of the event, It is devoid of context that would change how we view it.

This is happening all over. An academic, for example, discussing speech laws at a conference, could be secretly recorded. The recording is then edited to only include his recitation of prohibited words and phrases. All of a sudden, he is being forced into a struggle session by the mob. Alternatively, we have the situation of a jilted lover releasing private information about a public man. Things said in the heat of the moment, assumed to be private, suddenly become public.

There are some inevitable results of this. One is what we see with the cops. They can no longer do their job without personal risk, so they will evolve to avoid any situation where they could be shown in a bad light. We will no doubt see laws passed that ban the filming of rich people and politicians. They will not want to be subjected to what is happening with the cops. We’re already seeing signs in public buildings banning the use of cellphone cameras, Soon, phones will be banned entirely.

The more important change will be the contraction of the public space. On the one hand, those with nothing to lose will feel liberated in the public space. On the other hand, the auxiliary volunteer army of ideological enforcers will be emboldened to go crazy recording and reporting everyone. Those with anything thoughtful or controversial to say will flee the scene entirely. Even private conversation will collapse, as you cannot trust anyone to respect the ancient rules governing privacy.

Another consequence will be the collapse of what remains of trust. If you are a dissident, for example, you will no longer speak with anyone in possession of a mobile phone, even if you know them. In fact, the new tracking laws will mean all dissident will meet without phones. Not only will they fear recording; they must fear tracking, as the tech companies share this data with Antifa now. To voice a controversial idea now means living in a world closer to organized crime than politics.

Even apolitical people will have to assume that even their closest friends will be tempted to fink on them. Think of the “leaked” video of stars or ballplayers at private events or in private phone calls. These are all leaked by people close to the subject, so everyone now must distrust even their closest friends. The Synopticon will accelerate us into the no-trust society. The only place trust will exist is in secret societies that enforce their codes of silence the old-fashioned way.

In a world of a million leering eyeballs following your every move, lots of necessary things will simply stop happening. They will have to retreat to the world of intimate thought, but even there, coded to make it impossible to publicize. Outside, in the outer rings of the public-private spectrum, life will become simultaneously more intolerant and more vulgar. It will be a riot of uninhibited vulgarians and reckless scolds, where no useful work necessary for society can be done.

It remains to be seen if such a world can function. The riots suggest there is a point where the machine just stops. On the other hand, within living memory, people thought the current state was beyond the pale. Maybe people in the Synopticon will quickly evolve to become the uninhibited vulgarian or the reckless scold. Or maybe as we see in these cities, we stagger from one crisis to the next until finally the people are exhausted. We collapse while livestreaming it to the world.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Digital Opiate

Imagine a science fiction scenario in which you and your crew discover a planet inhabited by intelligent beings that possess no written or spoken language. This strange species communicates entirely with facial movements, eye contact, and other non-verbal gestures. Perhaps in addition to an astonishingly complex set of facial muscles, they have additional limbs used for signaling complex ideas. Whatever sounds they make are more like mood music than spoken language.

It is a crazy image, but it is a useful way of thinking about language. While it is possible such a communication could work, the one obvious problem is that initially all knowledge would have to be communicated in person. If you wanted to pass on information to the guy in the next village, you would either have to go to his village or have someone do it for you. It would also mean information could die with the holder, so the culture would need lots of redundancy to retain its knowledge.

Most likely, such a communication system would be so costly, whole categories of information would be eliminated. History would have to be truncated. Imagine the effort required to pantomime the history of the Peloponnesian War. Communicating advanced math would be impossible. Imagine describing a Lorentzian manifold with hand gestures and facial movements. Even a highly advanced visual communication system would rule out large swaths of information.

It’s not just that the categories would be constrained. The concept of history, for example, may not exist at all. If it did, it would be highly personalized, since all communication would be personal. Without a writing system or some other way to record information that is independent of the sender, the concept of a fact-based history would be improbable. This species could conceive of the past, but only in the most personal sense of it and as related to the present.

There would be something else about such a communication system. Because the lack of efficiency, time would have to be compressed. That is, the highest priority would be on the events of the present time, then those in the very near future and then the immediate past. The further events, ideas or concepts got from the present in either direction, the less important they would be to the society. The species with only a visual communication system would live almost entirely in the moment.

In the 1984 book, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Neil Postman argued that a particular medium can only sustain a particular level of ideas. The written word requires the intellectual involvement of the reader. The information presented can be tested and contemplated as it is consumed. Oral communication is more immediate, as the listener cannot playback what was just said, unless it is recorded. Video is the most superficial, as the viewer is a passive participant.

The thesis was that the superficial nature of video communication was removing facts and reason from public discourse and replacing them with emotion. People will take one side or another of an issue, because they favor the people making the argument, not because they think about the facts. Politics ceases to be about facts and arguments and becomes a sales pitch, like an ad for a product. No one thinks about the claims made in the presentation, just how they feel about the presenter.

Postman was writing before the internet. He could not contemplate how that would change public communication. The internet has immediacy. In addition to the superficiality of visual communication, it now comes as a steady stream through the wide array of screens in our lives. Even if you are not on social media, you will still absorb a steady stream of small bits of information. These are intended to elicit an emotional response regarding some pubic issue.

For older people, the legacy mediums still play a large role. Old people still read physical newspapers. Radio talk shows and television still have an audience, but the audience is generally those who came of age before the internet. Old people are on-line, but they experience it as a digital form of the legacy media. At the other end of the age curve, kids get all of the information on-line. Social media, YouTube and live streams are their exclusive sources of information.

Think about the last two months of virus panic. First the stream was intended to frighten everyone with images of overwhelmed hospitals and morgues. The factual content of the presentation was nonsensical. We did not see actual hospitals or people staggering around suffering from the virus. Instead it was models and people pitching the panic, like salesman in an infomercial. Postman’s framing of television news as infotainment has now been supercharged in the internet age.

We have moved beyond the three mediums of written, oral and visual, by adding the element of time. The rapid stream of information coming to us in mostly visual formats, or at least as superficial as the visual, amplifies the emotional aspect that was always central to visual presentations. People are bombarded with inputs that are evaluated in the moment and the appropriate emotion is generated. It is why people get so angry at contradiction on-line. That’s the point of the experience.

Our modern media environment is now something like “the feelies” in Huxley’s Brave New World. This was a popular form of entertainment that combined the senses of smell and touch in a movie format. The “movie” lacks the normal content of a movie, but instead stimulates the viewer into certain emotional states. The responses created in the viewer, combine with images, reinforce the social order. It is a form of propaganda that circumvents the rational mind and appeals to the emotions.

The live stream phenomenon is similar. These are often ad hoc, with the streamer starting his stream when the spirit moves. Some are more regimented in their schedule, but they rarely start on time and they go as long as they like. The people tuning in are not looking for facts and reasoned arguments. Instead they want reassurance and confirmation. These streams have communities that exist around the live streamer. It’s virtual information and a virtual community.

This brings us back to that civilization of aliens. They would inevitably be trapped in the present, because of the limitations of their communications medium. Their information would also be highly personal, as there would be no way to communicate without the idiosyncrasies of the sender getting tangled in the message. Part of the information the receiver would get is the particulars of the sender. Information could no longer stand outside the person. It would be defined by the sender and receiver.

We are seeing this today. Live streamers are making a living by talking and playing games as a type of performance. Their community sends them money in order to get mentioned or have their comment mentioned. In fact, the community becomes a part of the performance, a sort of codependency. The streamer interacts with the community in order to move the show along, but the community interacts with the streamer in order to tailor the experience to their desires in the moment.

Of course, it also means our public discourse must be even more shallow and superficial than what existed in the peak of the television era. It also must be even more intensely present tense. The old written information stream was an interconnected collection of facts and logic. The new information stream is a constant series of highly personalized, but disconnected bits of data intended to elicit an emotion. The digital opiate keeps the sender and receiver in a constant present.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!