What Late Stage Capitalism Can’t Sell You

I’ve heard the argument that free trade via a money supply allows the market to quickly signal through price of products what goods and services are needed. And this is true to an extent— for goods and services that are saleable and *can* be priced.

But this leaves out a vast portion of our lives which cannot so easily have bar code price stickers affixed or encased in hard clear plastic— friendship, love, civic duty, honesty, community spirit, genuine dialog and so much more.

Individuals offer those things freely to the society because people intuitively understand that they’ll receive likewise in return from their trusted friends and family. However, such an economy of these necessities in life is like a black market that is entirely outside of the “normal” economy. People who have found “their people”, whomever those people might be, are saved from the emptiness that is the life promised to them in “The American Dream”— which is an entirely materialistic one.

But in a society that values only those services and products which can command a price tag and a profit by producing a surplus, these other essential holistic elements for a satisfying human life are conspicuously absent from the marketplace, with only cheap substitutes sold in their stead.

And so, the symptoms that we see are casualties of despair due to the failure of capitalism to provide the most basic nutrients to sustain a healthy and happy human life. It is implicit in this “free market utopia” that each individual seek and satisfy the remainder of their human non-material needs through their own means. That is part of the contract of a “free society”. But people don’t always realize that and also don’t always know where to fulfill the remainder of their needs.

The problem is that the society that uses the free market as the foundation of its entire construct provides no guidance as to how and what further is necessary to obtain for a satisfying life. The recommendations that ARE given are intended for the producers to extract a profit from the people seeking something more in life. That is the nature of the foundation of this market-centric society.

In the absence of this guidance of what more to seek out in life, people have sought more meaning in their lives through the products and services that have been advertised to them. It is unsurprising that such products and services that don’t fill the holes in their souls. And when those things sold as promises fall short, people turn to other false promises from a variety of other charlatans in religion, politics, or other temporary snake-oil salves.

There is no doubt in my mind that all that is happening is a crisis of late-stage capitalism. The flaw isn’t that capitalism is terrible. It has served its part quite well— to relieve society of scarcity of material goods and services. However, it has not and cannot relieve society of the scarcity of immaterial things such as love, friendship, civic duty, respect, honesty, and so many other things that we inherently value as a social species.

We must find those things ourselves. But it’s difficult for people who are accustomed to using money to find solutions to all of their problems. When that currency is not accepted by the providers of these other immaterial needs, the people who are accustomed to being “valued customers” grow angry that their money is no good here.

That disconnect is what I see most often between people who have bought into the “material goods” worldview and the “immaterial goods” worldview. The two economies use different currencies, and there is rightfully a rejection of money being used to buy goods and services from the “immaterial goods” economy. When someone with money tries to buy from the “immaterial goods economy” without earning the currency first, there is indignation and offense, and often times rejection of their attempted purchase. And there is indignation and offense in return that their money, that they’ve worked hard for, has no value in this economy that is foreign to them.

You have to find your people, whomever they may be. That’s the missing ingredient. And for each person, that ingredient is different. So, it’s hard for capitalism to produce a surplus to satisfy this particular demand, though they certainly have no qualms about trying and profiting from it anyway.


How I dropped Out of Society Into a Fourth Social Class

There are three social classes in America. I have chosen to be in none of them. This is not a choice normally available to people. Let me explain a little bit why I dropped out and how I’m basically classless now.

First, let me define the three classes.

There is a worker class who produces material goods. Then, secondly, there is a capitalist class who creates an organization to collect the surplus value of the workers after paying the workers. The market decides what the workers get paid. In America, we rely on the market to balance many things, and worker wages is one of these things. However, when only a single class (the capitalist class) competes in the market for workers, it is difficult for the workers to receive full value for the product of their work whose labor surplus is inevitably skimmed for profit by the capitalist class. What capitalists are competing for in “the market” is this labor surplus. However, competition for this surplus never causes the surplus to go to zero, otherwise, the capitalist has no incentive to start the company at all. Thus, by the very nature of the system of capitalism, it is guaranteed that the worker class can never receive the full total of their labors, for by nature, the capitalist must be incentivized by equity in order to risk his capital to receive the surplus.
The worker’s only choice is which capitalist they choose to skim their profits. Occasionally, workers may band together in a start-up company in hopes that their skills and labor allow them to become elevated to the capitalist class themselves. Ironically, such a gamble requires selling a significant share of their labor to the capitalist class in the form of equity to angel investors, venture capitalists, or Wall Street investors.

Aside from the worker class and the capitalist class, there is one other class that I am not a part of. That class is the incarcerated class. That is the class you fall into by design if you choose not to be a worker for the capitalist class. As a person who has chosen not to be in any of those three classes, I am constantly in danger of falling into the incarcerated class due the laws which rig it that way.

An example of a law which would put me into the incarcerated class is the law which bans sleeping in vehicles. Although you can eat in your vehicle or do just about anything else in your vehicle, many cities have outlawed sleeping in your vehicle because they don’t want homeless people living in their cars.

Our society purposely doesn’t want homeless people because they fall into a non-category of peoples who have rejected the rat-race of being a worker who has her surplus value skimmed by profiteering capitalists. Once you have decided you don’t need a home, then you certainly don’t need a job and thus you don’t need to enter the job market for various capitalists to choose how to exploit you. This is very bad for a society of capitalists. So, it is discouraged. And one way it is discouraged is to arrest you and fine you so that you remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and incarceration so that you will want to join the worker class to escape your spiraling predicament.

I have to be very careful while skirting the fringes of society not to accidentally fall into the incarcerated class. Once one tendril of poverty has grabbed you, it won’t let go until you are trapped in the incarcerated class. So far, I have managed to avoid it with previous wealth accumulated when I was a worker and by continually disguising myself as a “decent” worker class citizen.

Worker class people are afforded certain privileges in society that we take for granted, and I know how to act and present myself as a worker having been one myself for decades. Fortunately, many well-to-do technologists look poverty-stricken and disheveled; so a crazy homeless van dweller, a wealthy start-up app creator, and a math professor at Berkeley are indistinguishable to a police officer.
It is this guise of normalcy which affords my safety in society. It is not the laws which protect me. It is the disheveled appearance of my fellow Silicon Valley workers which affords me the most security.

Let me make this clear. It is not the laws which make me safe from imprisonment and harassment from police. It is my old CodeWarrior and OpenGL t-shirts from 10 years ago that allow me a disguise to slip past laws intended for homeless people. These old clothes are mostly still stored in my storage area. Ten years ago, I could not have known that they would serve me as a uniform of the worker class that I dropped out of and be as valuable as a literal license to participate in society.

There have been many times I have been told to move or threatened with a ticket or various anti-homeless measures that I have been able to thwart by convincing the police that I was “programming” or “visiting someone” in my obviously expensive van and then hastily moving away. I have had the privilege of select enforcement of the law because of the privilege or illusion of wealth, I am not ashamed to admit. I am truly sorry for the treatment that less wealthy citizens would receive due to these laws, but that is not something I am prepared to go to jail for and fight a civil liberties battle over at this point. Such a move would certainly put me into the incarceration class for good. And these laws will remain precisely because no one who is ever put into that legal position could afford to fight those laws.

One of the “solutions” to the homeless problem is to put people to work. I see this as problematic for various reasons. For one, some people may have chosen to drop out of the rigged game of workers and capitalists. I know that we in the worker class believe in the stigma of being homeless as being mentally ill or having substance abuse problems. I don’t know enough about the topic to determine whether this stigma is one of causation or correlation or whether the stigma serves more as a warning to the worker class to not become homeless and to keep maintaining a steady pace on the treadmill for their capitalist of choice.

For me, I tried to get out of the worker class by starting my own company and joining many various start ups. I didn’t quite succeed. I’m not sure I have what it takes to be a capitalist anyway. So, now, I’m adrift neither here nor there.

What I want to do is just create stories and experiences for people to enjoy using the skills that I’ve learned over a couple of decades. I think I can do that without spiraling into the incarcerated class.
But I’ve also chosen to do that without attempting to join the capitalist class or to beg them for help. This is not really a rational thing to do because what I would like to do requires resources beyond what I can muster myself.

And so, things are going slow. That’s okay. I don’t care about deadlines, and I don’t care about milestones, and I don’t care about making money. I’ll let things sort out on its own. Maybe I’ll make money, but I’m certainly not counting on it. And if I don’t count on it, I think I can properly enjoy the process of creating. I think the journey of creation is what matters to me now. Once I strip away all of the stress of starting a company that has to balance income with expenses and has to hit a market window and has to choose the right people, choose the right platform, and choose the right moment, I can truly enjoy what I always wanted to do when I first played Space Invaders in 1977 as a 7 year-old kid— to make his own game.

I only need to get back a fraction of the value of work that I put into my own game to make it worth my while. After all, I’m only getting paid a fraction of my value by any capitalist that’s making a profit anyway. So, for now, I’m not going to worry about what that fraction is going to be. I must accept that that fraction is exactly zero and go on doing what I want to do anyway. It’s not worth worrying about at this point. I’m too far from completion on any of the projects to even think that far ahead anyway.

And so I’m hoping there is a fourth social class in America that joins me. Perhaps there will be enough wealth from an automated and nearly workerless society that a fourth social class can emerge and can simply create art, literature, and entertainment while sustaining themselves with occasional gifts or purchases from the worker and capitalist classes.

This class, like me, will leverage the skills gained from years in the worker class to create novel things that could never be commercially successful enough for the capitalist class to want to exploit.

There are many small things too specific and niche and weird to ever be mass market and thus never be commercially viable to a capitalist class. Such things can be created by a mature post-worker artisan class simply because artisans love to create things and such crafts were not allowed to even be attempted when under the yoke of a capitalist.

And so that’s what I’m going to be doing— sometimes. I hope I can succeed, not so much to make money, but as to serve as an example to others that it is possible to be done. If freedom affords you this luxury, I hope you can take it as I have. I don’t think you have to be brave or anything to do this.

You have to realize that being in the worker class is merely a more comfy kind of incarcerated class. I think Fight Club touched on this a little bit. But you don’t have to be violent or disruptive to break free of the seeming stranglehold of the worker class. The prison is an illusion.

You can live just fine and be happy with less. You can be happy with your relationships without your things. It’s a matter of elevating your most important values to the top of the priority list and then shedding the rest. Once you’re accustomed to not dealing with the rest anyway, it becomes easy to focus on only the necessities.

It’s simpler and less complicated and more fun to focus only on what matters to you, even if it’s trivial or not understood by others. In fact, not being understood by others is what makes it special and enjoyable to you and only you. People might ask, “won’t you get tired of it?” I don’t think you can ever get tired of being a kid every day. Besides, if you miss any aspects of worker society, you can always put on a uniform and blend in and experience a taste every now and again.

Now, granted, I have built myself a bit of a cushion in finances in order to do this, and not everyone will have the same flexibility. But I think the fundamental concept is sound. We are really much more wealthy and capable than we think we are. We’re under an illusion that running out of money will result in homelessness or mental illness or substance abuse as if all of the latter were one thing.

I’m amazed at people who grow up poor but wind up having a huge number of kids anyway. Well, if they can do , then anybody who works in tech in Silicon Valley can also. People working tech jobs in Silicon Valley have a tremendous amount of wealth compared to people in other parts of the United States and other parts of the world. Yet, they’re always comparing themselves with each other and their neighbors which makes them feel poor.

So rather than bemoaning that you can’t buy a house in Silicon Valley, be grateful that you can do things that many people in the world cannot even begin to comprehend, like spending $5 for a cup of coffee and then not even finishing it.

Because wealth is relative like this, I have chosen to focus on how wealthy I am compared to the rest of America even though I’m not working, and to change my perspective on life to appreciate the luxuries that that wealth affords me. And what it really affords me is time. I can have time to do the things that I want to do without worrying about spiraling down into the incarcerated class. I see the danger in that for those who are closer to poverty. Perhaps I am skirting a bit close to the edge of poverty, but I have chosen to not be afraid of it and to be confident in my ability to stay out of the trap of poverty.

So, maybe for this part, you do have to be a little brave. If you or your family has fought hard to come out of poverty, I can see how this part would be scary. However, if you’ve made it into the worker class and saved up some money, have confidence in yourself that you can re-enter the worker class at some level if you so choose. It may be at a lower level than you were accustomed to, but just accept that that was part of the cost for chasing your dreams and experiencing real freedom in your life.

I understand. You don’t want to lose your place on the ladder. You’ve worked very hard to get to that rung and you don’t want to lose it, so you grip tightly. I get that. But don’t cling to the ladder just for the sake of the ladder’s position itself. Remember that you got to that rung for some reason. What was that reason? Do you still remember? You had something else you wanted to do and climbing that ladder was the way to achieve it. It’s not too late to try to achieve it. Even though you haven’t reached the top of the ladder, maybe you’ve reached a high enough rung that you can simply let go and try and achieve the original goal you had in mind. Climbing the ladder certainly wasn’t your only goal until you got onto the first rung, right? The ladder was meant to lead somewhere. Maybe you don’t need to climb the rest of the ladder to get there right now. That’s what is worth considering.


Lament of the Rhetorician

Many of you may not know what rhetorician means. Many of you may not know what “trolling” means or what mansplaining means or what “literally” means. Mansplaining has drifted in meaning into something like this. But it’s original meaning was perfect and useful. This article laments the loss of this word, like a rare beautiful bird that flew too briefly in our language ecosystem.

Many people literally don’t know what literally means. They literally misuse it every time they use the word.

See what I did there? What I did was be a rhetorician which according to the link to dictionary.com, means “A person given to verbal extravagance” which has a negative connotation. Do we have a word for someone who uses language and rhetoric precisely and expertly. We do, and that word is “rhetorician”. However, that word is also used to mean “a person given to verbal extravagance.” These are important distinctions in meaning and connotation in a single word. The true rhetorician would lament the conflation of these two meanings into a single word for she could not deliver her precise meaning whether to insult or not to insult without using other words that may not exist.

In our language in which the meaning of words is determined by the tyranny of the masses, we cannot be proud to be precise and accurate in our words and be called a rhetorician. We will also suffer the negative connotations of being a rhetorician. And thus, that is the lament of the rhetorician. Her very attention to detail and precision of language is mocked by those who cause the drift in meaning in the very word “rhetorician” itself.

I would like to be proud to be called a rhetorician or a liberal or socialist. But as a rhetorician, I must recognize that most people are not as precise in their usage of words as I am. And thus, they use the popular determined meanings of those words in whatever social circle they happen to be in. And in many circles, those words are insults and labels which are synonymous with other tribe. That’s all you need to know about the definition of the word. It means other tribe. It doesn’t mean liberal or socialist or even rhetorician. It simply means not us. The original meanings of those words are lost and replaced with the meaning of other tribe.

If that is what they mean, I propose that they simply use the words other tribe when they mean to denigrate by using a single word. Why dance around the meaning, when the true meaning in the context of the sentence and diatribe is “other tribe.” There is absolutely nothing in the person’s context which requires the actual meaning of liberal to be used. Thus, let’s just substitute all of that kind of speech with “other tribe” to clarify the meaning. And because I don’t want to unfairly target one group, let us just say that the words Republican and Democrat can also be replaced by the word “other tribe” with absolutely no loss in meaning.

So, this is the lament of the rhetorician. That because of the ease of written communication and the paucity of characters in formats such as Twitter, people use shortcuts and meaning drift of words to deliver their tribal inclusion or exclusion messages. And because of their incorrect usage, these connotations are stuck in people’s minds. People, especially politicians and polemicists, do this because it works. It is a language that signals that this is your tribe talking to you about the other tribe. These are keywords to signal for the choir to listen up because the pastor’s preaching has begun.

I lament this trend, not just because of its blatant appeal to tribal loyalties inherent in the language strategy, but because it legitimately dilutes and crowds out and eliminates the original meaning of the words and reduces the signal in actual discourse.

It becomes difficult to have a meaningful dialogue using the words liberal and Democrat and Republican when each word is rife with tribal connotation. Even saying Bernie and Hillary this election cycle is tinged with danger because of the connotations carried with each name.

And so, the thing that is important to the rhetorician, communicating meaning and discourse accurately and precisely is made difficult by the dilution of words.

And what makes it worse is that the dilution of these words due to their tribal connotations contributes further to the lack of communication between the tribes and accentuates differences rather than similarities between tribes. And furthermore, communication is made more difficult because there are no words to replace the meanings that were lost. Thus, the entire ecosystem of communication is forever damaged.

This is the lament of the rhetorician.


Non-Organic Facts: The New Reality

Mark 2016 as the year that fiction supplanted reality. It’s the year that Pokemon GO introduced the idea that physically doing something in the real world enables you to accomplish something in the virtual world. It introduces the idea that doing something in the real world which accomplishes nothing in the real world, but accomplishes and advances your virtual world status is a perfectly reasonable and socially acceptable way of spending your time.

Sometimes, you may also accomplish real world tasks while simultaneously playing Pokemon GO such as walking your dog, going for a walk, or simply shopping. But the idea that simply walking your dog has merit on its own without also advancing your status in a virtual world is now beginning to become an outdated concept. Simply walking your dog for its own sake of enjoyment will be an old person thing. This is culturally what’s happening. Doing things in the real world for its own sake for its own satisfaction will soon be incompatible with the rest of society. This is 2016. What will it be in 10 years? In 20? In 50? In 100?

Right now, in 2016, doing something in the virtual world has value and perhaps more value than doing something in the real world. Fiction is greater than reality. At some point, a virtual economy game will certainly supplant Pokemon GO as the augmented reality game of choice. Maybe within 10 years, we will see such a game that will be an extension to normal life as we now know it.

At some point in this development, we will begin to see activities online as being more valuable than doing things in the real world. You will prefer to walk a virtual dog than a real one. The virtual dog will provide the same benefits— companionship and virtual love— as a real dog without the messy poop and reliance on being fed. You will work online in the virtual world to generate virtual money to spend on your virtual things. You will create virtual things for other people. You are adding to the virtual economy by creating virtual dogs with clever virtual dog AI. Almost everyone will be doing this in the information age economy. As a side benefit, the virtual economy will be hooked into your real world economy so that you can trade what you’ve earned in the virtual world for real world money.

But you don’t really need that much real world money because you are sufficient in your tiny home with your only connection to your friends and family through your virtual world. Your virtual world endeavors sufficiently cover your expenses of keeping you fed and keeping a tiny home roof over your head.
You don’t participate in real life politics. That is for old people who pound a sign into their vast water-wasteful yards. You don’t run for office yourself. Your Pokemons and virtual dog would certainly starve if you spent so much time away from the virtual world to cultivate your campaign.

But you participate in politics online. You choose and select which communities you belong to. Because you can opt out and even remove people from these communities, you don’t have to learn to listen to other people’s ideas that differ from your own and your own carefully chosen friends. You never see the face of disagreement and learn from their point of view. All you see is text online that you disagree with and you can choose not to read it or you can choose a link that confirms you are correct.

It is 2016 and we are seeing fiction winning in politics. Does the truth matter anymore? What is the truth anyway? Politics is too far from me personally for me to experience it directly. So, I experience the truth through fiction written by people I agree with. If it’s something I disagree with, there is an immediate rebuttal by someone else I agree with. I can easily dismiss all ideas that do not match my world view. People see what they want to see. When I wrote “fiction winning in politics” above, you thought of a specific person. But I did not mention any person by name. I don’t want to belabor my point because I know you have the option to stop reading at any time if you don’t like what I’m saying. I’m just going to point out that I never mentioned a name, yet someone very specific probably popped into your head. Why is that?

I have a lens through which I see the world. It is a lens through which I am scornful because it is easy for people to sell me that scornful story for their own purposes. It works because I respond to it and others like me respond to it because it fits nicely in our world view.  It is much harder to sell me on a positive story that doesn’t match the world view shaped by those scornful stories. The only positive stories I hear are ones which support my side. But the opposing side cynically distorts my side’s story and so I am distrustful of anything they say.
My tribe is the correct tribe. The other tribe is not only wrong, but stupid. Their tribe lies. Our tribe tells the truth or at least tells it like it is. I know my side is the truth because of everything I’ve read from my friends who I’ve carefully chosen to add or remove based on how much they agree with me. My friends are good. I am good. My side is good. That’s all there is to it.

I love my tribe and my tribe loves me. The other tribe hates me and I hate the other tribe. Our tribe tells the truth about the other tribe, but they won’t listen. Instead, they keep passing these lies about our tribe. Why are they so hateful? Why are they such liars? It’s why I can never be friends with anyone in that other tribe. Because my tribe is the truth.

Reality is eroding away and being replaced by a new land mass. Our minds and our souls are reality. They exist and we seek like-minded souls to fill our lives. And these online people can become the majority and the whole and the entire in our lives because the internet allows us to transcend the limitations of time and space which prevented our ancient ancestors to form tribes with people on the other side of the continent. You may come to this post 10 years from now and welcome me into your tribe because you agree with what I’m now saying. I can connect with you who are from the future 10 years from now. This was not so easy back in the old days, but it is trivial now. I would have had to have been a great author to reach out beyond my immediate circle of friends at a particular time and place. But now, anyone can do it. We all travel through four dimensions trivially every day, like this post. Time and place are abstracted away from the message this post carries.

But now, we can form ideas and morals and judgements and even hatred of other tribes without ever having to meet or know anyone physically. First, we can choose our own neighbors through social media. And also, we can choose to enter various communities where we can meet like-minded people online.

These new land masses that are formed informally by social media and communities are rapidly changing as people friend and unfriend on social media due to polarizing opinions. Existing land masses get bigger and then fracture into smaller, more specific land masses. Then some of those land masses grow bigger over time, too.

Sometimes, these new land masses spill over into the real world. But because the virtual world is more real than the real world, that spill over doesn’t cause dramatic social change. Dramatic social change requires reality to be more real than fiction. And it isn’t. Reality doesn’t have a link to tell you that it is a lie perpetuated by that other tribe. Reality is inconvenient. You cannot unfriend reality. Therefore, reality sucks. And so, you unfriend reality anyway by going online which is your real reality anyway. Actual reality is not really reality, anyway. Reality is the inconvenient domain of your meat body, not your soul, not your spirit, not your humanity. Your true self is beautiful and shining and pure in its online form. Your physical self is just a container for your true soul which you reveal from time to time to your true friends. There are people who live in physical proximity to you, but they are not your true friends. They do not understand you in the same way. They are prejudiced and have had a different experience growing up which taints them. They cannot understand you.

You have carefully cultivated and collected your true friends as careful and precise as any good Pokemon trainer would. These are people who *get* you. They have suffered as you’ve suffered. They have experienced the same virtual experiences and same virtual arguments as you have and have agreed with you! They are indistinguishable from the real you in oh so many ways.

Mark 2016 as the year where various untruths have propelled candidates towards the presidency, yet no one gets up to do anything about it other than trade links back and forth to other articles online. Oh, I’m writing about it. Isn’t that enough? Here I am, pointing out that the other side lies. That should be enough, right? I mean, the other tribe must be *stupid* if they can’t see the truth laid bare before them. Right? I’ve done my part. I’ve shed light on the *truth*. I cut and paste a link. What else more can I possibly do?

It is 2016 and I’m guilty of consuming non-organic facts. I have consumed mostly processed facts because there is no fact labeling that will allow me to distinguish between genuine experiences and non-organic experiences that echo my world view.

It is 2016, and in this year, our poor old dog Gracie died. I miss the genuine experience of petting her and her joy at everything in life. However, sharing that with you is also a genuine experience even though it is not the same kind of experience as petting a dog. It is still real, however.

It is 2016, and the definition of reality is changing. This post is real. Fiction may become even more real as time goes on. It’s something we need to recognize as real. It is strange when fiction becomes reality. When the waters on the beach recede before a tsunami, you get the first sign that something is going to happen. 2016 is the year that the water first began to recede from the beach.

There is a different reality coming. The information age has yet to really have its impact felt on society and culture. We are still products of the industrial age. But the industrial age people are going away. We have exported the industrial age to other countries for cheap labor. We do information age work now. And information age work is a different new reality. It’s a reality propped up by fictions and infinite choices and communities.

What will happen? Who can say? All I can say is that things are very different. I can say that because I am both old and new. I am an old industrial age person who has worked in the new information age and consumed many non-organic experiences. Some could say I helped bring on the new fiction through technology. That would be a generous assessment of my contribution.

Maybe calling the new reality a fiction or lies is too harsh. Perhaps a more neutral term could be “non-organic experiences.” But perhaps that is just another fiction and another lie to hide the truth— that words and communities can form a new reality around you and that you can be forever tainted by those beliefs and ideas to the point where you are resistant against opposing views and ideas.
When I grew up in the 70’s, parents were very concerned about children creating fictional worlds and inhabiting them with fictional characters in role playing games. Perhaps, instinctively, they understood the danger of becoming addicted to non-reality and living in a world of non-organic experiences that eclipse any real experiences they could possibly have. Maybe those parents were a last hold out to reality against the incoming age of information and age of fiction. Maybe they saw reality differently as communism and fascism swept the real world only a few decades earlier. Perhaps they foresaw a dangerous echo chamber trap of media and imagination in a self-contained fictional bubble long before such a thing was possible with cable news networks and social media.

Maybe when we grow up in a post-industrial age filled with abundance, our concerns and stresses can be magnified by non-organic experiences and we call those experiences fun because we have never had to struggle against the real world constraints of war, hunger, and famine. Struggling and achieving something is fun. We can do that safely in the virtual world. It is fun to capture Pokemon and have them grow and evolve. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is just as real a feeling as me reaching out to you through this blog entry.

I’m just pointing out that the world is changing. What you want to do with that information is up to you. How much importance you place on the real world versus the virtual world is also up to you.

For me, the virtual world is of utmost importance. It is my livelihood and my social connections and my entertainment. I suspect the same will be true of more and more people as time passes. I suspect some people will resist against this, just as any broad social change brought on by technology is resisted. But to what avail? We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, can we?

If we choose, we can have more organic experiences. I predict there will be more pet ownership in the next 50 years due to our reliance on the virtual world. Pets provide a wonderful organic experience. So, if you’re a stock market or business person, investing in pets as a consequence of virtual reality might be a smart thing to do.

Let’s Get Meta-Physical


Lets Get MetaPhysical, Meta… Physical. Let me hear your body talk… literally hear your body because your mind must send signals to your nervous system to contract meat and make your meat parts vibrate which makes the air vibrate which makes tiny meat parts and bone parts in my ear vibrate which sends more electrical signals to my mind which is also made of meat that was recently pushed from its normal place by an imbalance of blood and fluids inside my skull causing ICP. Let me hear your body talk because it is the only way that your mind can communicate with my mind.

There is not yet a way that technology has figured out to directly connect your mind’s electrical impulses directly to my mind so that I don’t have to go through this round about physical and meat-flapping way of hearing your body talk. I want to hear your mind talk directly to my mind.

Actually, I’m wrong! There has been invented a technology to do just that— directly connect our minds without using our bodies to vibrate meat. We’re doing that right now, through some amazing invention called writing that another rotted meat brain long ago had figured out. We will never know the names of those meat brains, but their idea of writing will carry on forever because it is such a good idea. In that way, those anonymous and unknown meat brains will always be with us and be a part of us.

And so, don’t mourn for me if I should pass away which might happen at any time now for me, but may happen to any one of us, even you. Perhaps the odds of it happening to me are slightly higher for me than for you. But know that it is still non-zero for you. That is what I now know to be true for myself. Even though unlikely, it could still happen to you all the same. You should learn that sobering fact for yourself and act accordingly. If you’ve played any poker, you’ll know that the odds defy what you think should happen all of the time. It is quite common, at least exactly as common as its exact probability.

Think of this weird fact. Even though I have a somewhat higher chance of dying before you do, if enough people read this blog, then there is a greater chance of one of my readers will die before I do. What are the chances that reader is you? I don’t know. That depends on the other readers and how many there are and their individual probabilities. But bottom line; it could be you. Are you feeling metaphysical yet? Are you thinking about yourself as a non-physical entity who could simply cease to be right now at this very moment? That’s what I have been going through for the last few weeks since the “event”— I still think that is a dumb word for it. There was no post-event like burning man decompression or nearly dead man decompression. There was a lot of physical therapy which is not the same as mental therapy or decompression. There was a lot of physically getting my brain retrained to do things a normal adult human being should be able do. But there was not much explaining or soothing of the mind. I suppose that is what religion is for.

But religion, for me, or I should say, for my mind, is not my favorite thing. It is not suited to my tastes. However, I have met some wonderful older people at my time at the adult care facility for whom religion is a wonderful thing. I will write about them later. But for now, I want to focus on my metaphysical experiences so that if you’re like me, and religion has not latched onto to your brain like a vicious schnauzer for whatever reason, then maybe you need something else. It is not as soothing as various metaphysical concepts in a well-established religion, but it is at least an explanation of what’s happening. And when you’re very confused and are obstinately refusing to adhere to any religion’s explanation of what’s happening, then maybe you will find a somewhat plausible explanation soothing. I think that I myself would have, but I had to come find this route by myself. If you find yourself in similiar circumstances in unknown territory knowing that you will soon cease to exist, then maybe it could be comforting to remember this route and perhaps it may offer some understanding and hence some comfort to a naturally skeptical, but logical and otherwise open mind. Note that I am not proclaiming this to be the answer to life, the universe, and everything. It is simply a result that my meat brain produced given the inputs it has received thus far. I’m very skeptical of how our meat brains do their jobs, and so
I’d prefer an explanation of what’s happening to me in terms that I already understand. And those terms are reliant upon things that I already know well, namely science and computing. And so, in the next few paragraphs and posts, I will be giving you a first hand account of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything from a fractured mind. Given the flaws inherent in a piece of meat, much less a known-to-be broken piece of meat, take what I’m about to “say” with a healthy dose of skepticism.

I like that I can “say” this to you without causing my meat flaps to vibrate the air to vibrate your ear’s meat parts. In this way, I inhabit your meat brain. Now that you have read these words, I have created the same stimulus in your brain as if your ear parts had actually been vibrated by the air. It is an amazing feat of technology greater than all of the recent advances in virtual reality, although to be fair, virtual reality does in fact have technology to vibrate the air near your ears to vibrate the meat in your ears. In fact, if you know me personally and know my voice and demeanor, then perhaps I am now currently inside your meat brain creating images and sounds by manipulating signals in your brain to create a localized personal facsimile of my image and voice. What an amazing technology! Writing is the original virtual reality.

And so, even if I should cease to be right now as you’re reading this, I live on as a simulation in your brain. Just like the original meat brains who invented writing, my idea will continue through you and on and on perhaps for as long as there are meat brains and perhaps even beyond meat brains if the meat brains ever figure out how consciousness works and creates an “artificial” one… “artificial” being a most meat-biased kind of word to mean non-biological consciousness. If all of the meat brains die out as mine shall, if not sooner then later, I could perhaps still live as a voice or simulation in non-biological minds. This very sentence is infecting your fertile meat brain space right now and could further infect other consciousnesses until the end of time. If that happens, what does being alive really mean? What does it mean to die to expire to cease to exist? Did I really cease to exist if these words echo and echo forever throughout all of the meat space now and on into the future and on and on through other “artificial” consciousnesses and on to other advanced forms of networked consciousnesses that we cannot even fathom at this
point in our primitive development.

I suppose it means that “I”, the current biological entity will no longer be able to produce new ideas and react to them. The current me will have its connections severed from my body. I can still think of moving my body parts, but they won’t respond. And stimulus from the meat will no longer reach my mind. Vibrations from my ear cannot become words and ideas in my mind. Any copies of me will be connected to a /different sensory organ. Future versions of me could be simulations or replications, but won’t be exactly me. However, there is an even stranger possibility.

And that is that the current “I” is in fact a simulation of me… a me that once existed as a
physical being long long ago. And the current “I” is an echo of that. It is a copy of the original or a copy of another simulation such that “I” can react to newly created ideas and create new ideas based on those new ideas, although perhaps with different sensory appartus. Who would go to such elaborate lengths to produce such a simulation? Well, you could just as well say, why does humanity go to such lengths to make more babies and teach them reading and writing? It is just something they do. They have created a fertile meat-mind space in which reading and writing can spread and prosper forever. In the same way, these minds may create future non-biological minds that reproduce and prosper for the mere purpose of doing that and simply existing as a mind which is a wonderful thing to be. And all of us today, could be “ideas” or “words” inside of those vastly more capable minds. It is simply that we are more refined and more accurate in our simulation than mere words. Although my words created a simulation in your own hardware in your own mind, it was perhaps not as accurate as it could be. My voice and intonation are not directly carried with mere words on a blog.
What would it take to make it more accurate? More data? More technology? More ideas? More mind- space? Perhaps minds in the future, or even more strangely, in the past, have figured it out. And what we are as minds and entities is that we’re actually some ideas that have been propagated through time and space for a very long time from a long dead civilization that had reached a point of creating consciousnesses that could reproduce and were self-sustainable.

However, don’t think of yourself as a simulation. You are possibly a word in a great conversation or a movie or a political debate in a group of individuals’ minds. You are being exchanged between minds more powerful and more different than we could possibly imagine with our limited simulation abilities. You will live on forever in this manner, though you will no longer be able to interact and react in your current mind which we call our “world” any longer. In religions, we call this sort of existing beyond the material world, a soul or a spirit. In Dawkins’ book, he called such a thing a meme, which is a word that has taken on a different meaning in the age of the internet. But he meant it as a self-replicating chunk of information and made a biological parallel to a gene.

I think this is the right direction, but that perhaps there are still other explanations that can go further. I don’t think that our simulations are memes in the Dawkins’ sense which fight out an evolutionary battle to survive. I think the answer is simpler. If we are simulations, we are more akin to words on a blog page than to genes in a biological entity. There is no need to fight and compete with others for survival. All of the blog pages can exist and be ready to be read just as all of the information currently now contained in computers can easily be entire contained in many human-like minds or greater. We can extract all of reading and writing from human minds without considering how much memory space that takes. A copy of me now exists in you after you’ve read this far. It is a sublimated and simplified copy of me, but it is a copy of my ideas, and if that is what is important about me, then it is effectively me anyway. If what is relevant about me is my mind and how it interacts with yours, then this interaction through writing is not that much different than talking with me which is what I often prefer to do when in the physical presence of others anyway.

Now, a few of you may miss the physical presence of me for physical reasons. But really, I am a somewhat average chunk of meat and you can find a suitable physical replacement of me to wrap your meat arms around. If you cannot find a suitable person, I would suggest a dog because they are nice things to wrap your meat arms around if you are still able. However, a dog cannot have my mind within its meat brain. And so, even with a dog, you will not be able to replicate the significant thing about me which is my mind. But, that is not true, because it is within all of our minds’ power to reproduce any other mind and imagine its existence and predict its actions. And therefore, as simple and as flawed as that simulation of me might be, it is still there, and for that reason, I will always be with you and will continue to affect you in ways that you cannot understand today.

But you may also take comfort that perhaps we never existed at all. That physical reality is an illusion anyway. We are all words in a great conversation or composition of ideas or a movie or a play or a poem or a song. It doesn’t matter exactly what. We are all important parts of a dialog. People who come from a religious background can sometimes feel a greater purpose to things. Perhaps they know that they are a crucial word that is a turning point in a movie. Perhaps they do have a greater purpose. Perhaps their lives are conveying a greater idea in a language that we as creatures are too simplistic to ever understand. But perhaps we can still sense the context in our word and our purpose in the greater conversation. Perhaps we will never find other intelligent creatures because we are a language and not a universe at all.

So, with that concept, we can derive a few ideas that can offer some satisfaction in life without a religious explanation.

One, it is important that you do what you do. You are a precise simulation in a precise language in a precise dialog. You keep being you, whatever that means. Be yourself and be true to yourself. You are your own word in the great dialog. Your actions have meaning to more than the other actors near you. Their thoughts on what you do are not relevant to the meaning of the dialog. They are also a part of the dialog. But perhaps they are supporting actors and you are main actor making the main point. You are the noun and the verb and they are the adjectives and adverbs to help describe you. They are necessary for that purpose and provide extra meaning to you. But if you change yourself, you change the whole meaning of the sentence. In fact, if they succeed in changing you, then perhaps you are a pun or some sort of play on words meant to amuse the audience. If that’s so, that’s okay too because that was your purpose in the great dialog. Are you funny or sad or crazy? That is part of the emotion that you are conveying in the subtext of the great dialog. It is perhaps unfortunate for you personally. but it is of great import to the listeners of the great dialog to sense your emotions. It is all a part of the communications and an art greater than what we could understand. Maybe you are part of a dialog. Maybe you are a part of a song. If you changed or disappeared, you will be missed by the listeners. Maybe that’s why quantum mechanics is so sensitive to whether there are listeners or observers to actions. It is a part of the structure of the language.

Later on, I’ll described what actually happened to me that I remember that led me to this conclusion. It is perhaps as fascinating, if not more, than this blog post, because it is based on an actual experience. So, all of the above is speculation, but the experiences I had previously in this incident which for now I’ll call “Atheist hell” led me to the insights above, and those previous experiences are true and not speculation. And I can describe how the experiences led me to the speculation above and you can see the logic in the train of thought, which I think is important for people to inspect, especially logically minded people who work with computers and need to inspect how things work in order to verify the truth of some fundamental thing that does not work in order to fix it. In order to fix something, we must understand its chain of causality which I will provide later in case some other person has a similar experience. Then, we can match up data with events and provide a more accurate picture of what an objective reality is. For now, I provide my description as a single data point around which new data points and new speculation may attach itself. The data I will provide in that future post will loosely correlate with actual events happening to my physical brain at the time. It is my hope that others in my situation can provide more data to add to the expanse of knowledge so that we may gain a fuller picture of human biological consciousness. It is a fascinating topic on which there has been much speculation and thought, but little data. I am offering a little of speculation and a little data to go with it. Maybe this can be of use to somebody and can help further the ideas in this area.



What Figuratively Happened?

Well, my last post was what literally and physically happened. Now, I’m going to explore some other things that happened, such as what figuratively, humoristically, and metaphysically happened? I’ll go through variations of these in a few upcoming posts. I hope that you find them interesting musings of a fractured, yet continually healing mind.

I’m going to start with the silly. Because all of this is heady difficult stuff. It’s difficult to face our own mortalities, so I think silly is the right tone to start us off.

The way I understand human beings now is of a much more fragile type of physical concoction.

Have you ever gone to a festival or concert or New Orleans where they served those excessively tall drinks in a playful tall plastic or glass tower? Sometimes, it has multiple colors of alcohol or mixed drinks in the concoction. I call this thing “the silly drink.”

And in the end, we are all silly drinks because our meat is finely balanced in the cup at the top of the silly drink and if we should accidentally fall and drop our silly drink on the ground, we are done for. All of our balance and functions that allow us to write ridiculous blog posts and sick twitter burns are floating inside a bit of meat in the cup of that silly drink. Protect that silly drink well. That is you. Or at the very least, if you break the silly drink, you will cease to be you. That almost happened to me. I almost broke my silly drink.

The care centers I was at was so concerned about me breaking my silly drink again after they put it all back together and refilled my cup, that they were insistent on me pushing the giant red button next to my bed that summoned a silly drink enforcement agent every time I had to go pee. This silly drink enforcement agent was assigned the important task of watching me pee and making sure I didn’t spill my silly drink. That is, making sure that, in my state of damaged silly drink, I didn’t lose my balance and fall over and spill the rest of my already half damaged silly drink onto the ground.

It was quite crucial that I summon the pee-Watcher and they were quite insistent that I push the button. Yet, many a time, I recall illegally peeing on my own without pushing the button. I, in my impaired silly drink state, thought it was perfectly fine to get up and pee by myself as I had done many times before. In my mind at that time, I felt perfectly fine just as I’m sure you do right now reading this. So, you, just as I was then, would be appalled at being ordered to push a button to summon a Pee Watcher to watch you pee right now.

Even knowing that I was impaired didn’t stop me from getting up to pee on my own. And thus, my judgment in this matter was also impaired. Sure, I did accomplish this many times on my own without spilling my silly drink. But maybe I was lucky I didn’t have a catastrophic error or make the poor judgment in the same way as not pushing the button in the first place.

I still struggle with this. Knowing that I have impaired judgment, yet absolutely feeling I’m not impaired, but having everyone tell me that I am impaired. Being a confident person who used to get shit done, this is difficult to get used to. I know what I can do. Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I think many self-confident and accomplished people would feel the same way. But let me tell you, it’s an illusion. Fortunately, I haven’t suffered too greatly from such an illusion, but I have to be careful. Because it’s a very seductive and comfortable illusion. We’re only used to what we were before the brain injury. We’re used to being masters of our own agency. We’re used to keeping that silly drink safe automatically. Why can’t I be trusted to continue to do that? Do we have to have a safety mechanism for everything? Do I have to rub on tiger repellent because there might be tigers lurking to ambush me? Well, better safe than sorry they say. Maybe. But maybe we’re being overly cautious. What’s the harm in being safe than sorry? It’s a fair argument.

But by nature, I’m a risk taker in a way. Not in the same way as sky-diving, but more in the way of calculating my risks at a poker table or investing in real estate or with life choices such as quitting my job and moving to California. So, it’s against my nature to play the better safe than sorry route. I’m an explorer, a risk taker, and an adapter. I react and adapt to unforseen circumstances and form reactions and plans quickly. It’s what makes me good at my job and at playing games.I enjoy exercising this aspect of myself. I grow frustrated at jobs and situations where I’m not allowed to run freely with this aspect of myself. So, most companies like to mitigate or limit their risk. I tend not to do well in those kinds of companies. I do much better at companies who have no choice but to take risk and place the burden of that risk on its personel, namely and chiefly me. But it’s a risky move since I could literally die of a stroke the next day.

So for me, it’s weird not only to have to push a button to have someone watch me pee, but it’s even weirder to have to worry about the risk. It’s just something that I have never don’t and perhaps even can’t get in the habit of worrying about. Adapting to worsening circumstances and making the best of the situation is what my character is about. It’s hard to change that so late in life, even when my entire mind is wiped and begun anew. Perhaps there is something hard-wired. I don’t think so, because I’m writing this now, and I didn’t re-learn how to do that. So, I must have retained that character trait after my accident just as I have retained the ability to read, write, and speak and communicate and snark.

Anyway, until next post, I hope you all take care of you silly drinks, but only to the extent which makes you comfortable. Don’t go out of your way to avoid risks just because this post made you realize how fragile your silly drinks were. But acknowledge the risks and know that they exist. And acknowledge that by smoking, or not wearing a seat belt, or not wearing condoms with a new partner, that you are incurring a risk to your silly drink. But it’s your choice, just know what you’re getting yourself into and what your odds are.

Here are some stories of people who have dropped their silly drinks. It’s hard to deal with, and it’s fascinating how people adjust to it. Louis Theroux – A Different Brain.




On the Nature of Freedom

FREEDOM!! We all want it… whatever it is. People in movies will die for it. So it must be pretty good. No one dies for CARAMEL ICE CREAM, though maybe they should.

I scream for ice cream, but maybe it’s not worth dying for.

But freedom is.


Have you wondered what freedom is? Well, I have thought about it a little bit after being a nomad. Nomading around means finding a new place to stay every night. Every night, I have to make a decision. I have to make a choice. What are the risks staying here? How much will it cost me to move from here to where I want to go tomorrow? Will I need to visit my storage area, PO box, my friends, or a gym where I can take a shower? Is it legal to stay here? Will the police knock on my van? Will taggers graffiti up the van while I’m asleep?

I weigh up the pros and cons and make a decision about where to stay… mostly a different place every night. Those of you who stay in the same place every night don’t have to make this decision. Those of you who have a mortgage or rent have made a decision to remove this choice from your every day life. For you non-nomads, this one long-term decision to rent or buy a house is safe and free of consequences. There are no variables in cost, safety, access to wifi or showers, or many numerous considerations that you wouldn’t want to be bothered with.

But there is a subtle difference of thinking when you do this. When I make a choice, I’m aware of the consequences. I’m aware of when I’m in a high crime area. I’m aware of when I’ve commuted kinda far from my friends. I’m aware of many kinds of risks of having my entire home with me and possibly losing it at any time to an accident or to crime. I’ve already damaged the van a few times in my travels, but I accept that is a consequence and cost to this kind of lifestyle. I accept the consequences because I made a conscious choice which weighed those risks.

I find this in contrast to my pre-nomadic lifestyle which removed choice and decision from my life so that I could follow a pattern. A lot of self-help books and blogs write about success. And a lot of those writings suggest following a routine in order to be more efficient. Einstein and Steve Jobs famously had a closet full of the same shirt so that they wouldn’t have to think about what to wear each day. Removing this decision, this choice, allowed a little more time each day for their other activities. Every day they wear the same shirt, they have made an unconscious choice to do so. It’s still a choice. They can still choose a different shirt on any day. But mostly, they don’t because they no longer consider it a choice that can be made.

But how many of you would go as far as to have only one outfit? How many of you enjoy the small choice of something different to wear each day. How many of you enjoy eliciting compliments or showing off your personal style? That small amount of choice is freedom. And what that freedom grants us is a little bit of joy. A little bit of human connection every day. Relinquishing that freedom and sending it into the unconscious means you’re giving up on a small amount of joy in order to be efficient!

Now, what I’ve discovered after nomading around is that I had to stop many patterns of living a typical silicon valley lifestyle that had taken away the joy that I never knew existed underneath! Today, I feel more connected, present, and aware. I have far fewer patterns and thus am far less robotic. And less robotic means more human.

Freedom. It’s worth dying for because it is the same as choice. And choice is the same as joy and happiness.

But you don’t have to die for it. We all are privileged enough to live in a time and place that has an enormous capacity for personal freedom. But we constrain ourselves from ever coming close to realizing the potential freedom that our lives grant us. We are constrained by our own patterns in order to make our lives efficient and regimented and structured and safe.

But I challenge you to break those patterns every so often. Try the opposite of all of the above: Less efficient, less regimented, less structured, less safe. Going on vacation is a good break in the pattern. Make conscious choices about things that have seemingly already been decided. If you find yourself saying, “I keep doing this, but I’m not even sure I like it,” then stop. I found that was easy with video games. They have an addictive nature. But once I stopped, I didn’t feel the need to start again.

Ask yourself what percentage of your life could be reproduced by a computer program? Are you that consistent that you are running a loop that is the same from day to day? If the percentage of routine is how much of a robot you are, then the remaining percentage of non-routine is how human you are. Now, there is a purpose to the robotic regimented side of us, which is to buy more time for us when we are doing the human things in life. But, it’s easy for us to get carried away and take too much joy away from our day-to-day lives by regimenting it so strictly.

Einstein and Steve Jobs were each free to choose not to wear that same shirt on each day. Mostly, they chose not to exercise that particular freedom. What particular freedom are you choosing not to exercise today?