How free markets fix problems

About a year ago, the piracy situation was dire. People were downloading copies of the latest Hollywood movies, free of charge, before they were in theatres.

The movie industry responded with a series of direct actions: it attempted to punish the wrongdoers in the courts; it tightened security around its product; it lobbied for harsher laws; and finally, it attempted to educate the population into avoiding the issue.

Much like software in the 1980s, which was expensive and hard to acquire, movies accrued pirates like open-air ordure attracts flies. In both cases, a product was rare, expensive and acquired through only a few channels, and then fell to a double assault: first, it was free, and second, it was more convenient through piracy.

With movies, the business model was similar: scarcity plus high demand meant huge profits. Piracy threatened that. And yet legal action didn’t seem to be working.

Now look:

In the States Netflix nearly doubled the number of new subscribers in the first quarter of 2010, from 1.7 to 3.3 million. In total, Netflix now has 22.8 million paid subscribers in the US, which generated a total revenue of $706 million in the first quarter of this year.

[…]

Movie piracy is not quite gone yet, but Netflix shows that people are willing to pay for access to movies online, even when plenty of pirated copies are available. The next step is to offer easy access to movies in the rest of the world, and get rid of the artificial delays in release dates. – Torrent Freak

The two ends of the problem — cost and convenience — converged. While not free like piracy, Netflix is cheaper than conventional DVD rental; it’s also cheaper in terms of time than spending a bunch of hours finding and downloading movies of uncertain picture quality and/or veracity.

The market restores equilibrium, as all natural forces do. True, the big profits may be gone from the movie business, but that’s what happens in every industry as it matures. Software is another example. Prices have fallen and profits are no longer as epic, and many tasks are now served by open source or shareware/freeware alternatives.

The next time someone makes fun of the libertarian or paleconservative in your life for preferring organic, granular, and emergent systems to rigid centralized rule, think of this. We could have had another 20 years of mind-blowingly expensive litigation instead.

Eugenics

In stable countries, eugenics is the tool which can be used to change the general traits and abilities of the general population. It does this by selecting desirable individuals to become a majority rather than a minority.

It’s a fact that some people will always be better than others, in varying qualities, and if we are sane, we will remove the criminally stupid and replace them with higher quality individuals who we can trust not to wreck the biosphere with overpopulation and wasting of natural resources on mundane consumerism.

It’s evident there is a shortage of intelligent people in any country we observe, and an abundance of dim witted people who look human enough to be intelligent, but are nothing of the sort. If this was spoken to a population now, it would be suicide because it is simply not popular to tell stupid people they are stupid and must reduce their breeding, they would riot, smash and stampede.

So instead of declaring out-right genocide against the stupid, in stable regions that need to evolve, they can zone off areas for higher quality people who contribute toward civilization and leave the lesser to fend for themselves, to which they would only form a mob of starving, stupid peasants – after all, they have the “human right” to eat, drink and be merry, and they’ll kill to prove it, so why shouldn’t God just give it to them?

It’s cheaper to kill the huge distances between worthwhile people rather than the majority of people themselves, instead zoning them into their own territories, trying to keep out of reach, allowing naturalized selection to do all the work (post peak-oil, convergence of catastrophes, civil war, AIDS, etc). The zoned area would attain total self sufficiency, a seed for a better future.

Then it’s only a matter of helping nature by chipping off their numbers, piece by piece, carefully expanding the zone of the higher quality to enclose the whole country. Nature repeats this pattern, so should we.

Toward the next epoch of civilization.

Once a population of higher quality is concentrated, they could then begin to advance toward the next epoch of civilization itself. This involves a migration toward an extreme environment leaving the rotten population behind to die of its own incompetence, especially if it is too big to simply replace at the time.

There are new varieties of civilization possible, because civilization so far has been focused on soil based agriculture as the main support for it. This can be changed in the future with the use of Closed Environment Agriculture and Closed Environmental Life Support Systems. What’s more, is whatever is achieved with these will help space settlement needs and can be developed thoroughly before even leaving the planet, both allowing more compacted, higher civilizations.

These greater civilizations can be created in ‘transnatural niches’ for an advanced population – these are new settlements deep underground, in the oceans – on the bedrock and in floating cities, leaving flat land (for wilderness) in preference of mountainous land where biodiversity is generally lower and finally to thrive in ice deserts like Antarctica and Greenland, Svalbard, even the Sahara as an interesting contrast.

This benefits us in a number of ways:

  • It prototypes technology which can be vital for colonizing the entire solar system and beyond.
  • It provides many safe zones in the event of mass extinction or death of the biosphere.
  • It frees up territory which is rich in biodiversity for wildlife to exist undisturbed, reducing our weight onto the biosphere.
  • It uses our creative abilities to exploit regions that have little biodiversity and are difficult for life to survive in.
  • Your tribe/ race will gain the higher ground dimensionally and will have a survival advantage over those who are still dependent on standard agriculture.
  • There is more depth than surface area of land and so nations gain another dimension toward their borders, there is also more to the surface area of our planet than simply land. The “land carrying capacity” is just that, limited to the available soil of the land for standard agriculture.

Rethinking individualism

Say you walk into a building at which you’re employed. You feel businesslike – coat, computer bag over shoulder, maybe a cup of coffee or tea in hand. Others look similar and climb into the elevator with you. Buttons are pressed.

Your eyes venture, but never into other eyes. Stainless steel walls in this contraption affirm your businesslike presence. At this point, are you not just an extension of these mechanisms with which you interact and rely on just to begin a day of productivity?

Then you salivate, swallow, cough. Others in the elevator pretend not to notice, but they do. Germs? Is that guy sick? Did he cover his mouth? Maybe you feel more human now.

Many of us leave the workplace each day only to catch up on television or hit a local bar. Either of those activities may make us feel alive but when the TV is turned off or the bar closed, most simply limp home to bed. This allows us to turn off further thought until the next morning, when the process repeats.

This type of “individualism” may ultimately lead to collectivism, because many of us want the same thing with different labels. For example, we believe the Polo socks, Banana Republic pants, and Claiborne shirt are enough to announce us as different, even while we herd into metal elevators and stroll over to our cubicle space.

From bodily functions to unplanned social interactions, we are human to the core. The lack of balance in our lives is embodied in that steel cage-like elevator and mindless job fit enough for a robot. We don’t try to fix what’s wrong with our processes – the ones that drive us each day to get up, shower, arrive at work dreary-eyed. That is human to a tee, and unfortunately it’s all too normal.

Most of the time we spend is on mindless work, and as a result, we lash out when we can in bursts – junk food, entertainment, the bar scene. It’s like an extension of modern-day education: you know you’re stuck in a building for eight hours (sound familiar?), but it doesn’t make you accept it any less because deep down, you feel passion in your life burning out.

Maybe when you’re young, you don’t feel it burning out in quite as pronounced a fashion, but there’s something off with eight hours of boredom day in, day out. That’s the reason children look forward to recess, and only resent authority more as they grow older and more intelligent. Even recess is regulated now. No physical contact was a big recess rule over twenty years ago; one hesitates to imagine what recess must be like in 2010.

In denying humanity from an early age, and over socializing the individual snowflakes we call our children, we create robots who are beaten into submission to do what they’re told, only to find that some of them are in fact individuals – more individual than we’ve planned.

These would be your shoot-em-up types, the ones that get sick of the mindless game and feel no opportunity at home or at school to lash out or be human – so if guns are nearby, why not end it in a blaze of glory? Unfortunately, options are limited at a young age, so lashing out involves a wide spectrum – not just conforming or shooting people.

Diagnoses of ADD and ADHD have skyrocketed in recent years, but when you think about how much more careful most people are with issues of reproduction – not drinking wine, not doing anything to damage a fetus – it’s unlikely these are new chemical imbalances in chlidren manifesting themselves in the classroom. Education hasn’t changed significantly in over 50 years. So what’s new?

Perhaps its our evolving methodology about how to deal with children. We think back to individualism actually leading to collectivism, and it makes some more sense. Modern kids go into a classroom, many from different backgrounds and no real common cultural thread. Some are more tolerant of eight-hour work days at the ripe age of six years old, some not so much. Those who are not are treated as the special snowflakes they are with specialized instruction, individual time with the teacher so they can catch up to everyone else – and be the same as everyone else. If they continue to resist, they are labeled problem children, or worse, assigned “special education”.

Never mind that the material doesn’t change to suit different needs – and never mind that would be more useful: find the strengths of people and focus on those strengths, while addressing weaknesses.

Instead, we do what’s easy and label it as pandering to the individual student mind. All this despite the widening disconnect between parents who want education to be day care and education, and educators who want to get through the next school year without having to stash whiskey in their desks.

A curveball in the recycling debate

In many towns, recycling is not only encouraged, it’s enforced. Some communities use a limited “toter” system where one has to pay more for additional bags if the toter is filled up each week. The flip side is, things like plastic bottles, metal cans, glass jars, and just about any paper product including junk mail can be tossed into recycling bins.

This is wonderful in a way – why let any idiot throw away however much trash he/she wants to each week when it’s clear there are reasonable limits a town can and should impose? But it also begs the question: what happens to all that paper, but moreso all those other products like glass, plastic, and metal once another truck using more gas and more manpower picks it up during a separate trip?

Recycling makes many people feel good, but feelings are not the best test of environmental soundness. When it makes more sense to recycle than to throw something away; government compulsion isn’t needed. And when recycling is a profligate use of natural and human resources, government mandates can’t change the fact. Big Brother can force you to recycle your garbage, but that doesn’t make garbage-recycling green.

[+] | Boston.com Editorial

Good point. If recycling really answered any tough questions, it wouldn’t be as easy as throwing would-be trash in a different bucket.

It’s nice and easy – and it massages the ol’ ego – to sort your garbage and feel good about how much stuff is in the recycle bin this week that could have gone to the trash instead. We just assume that since recycling is a feel-good activity and approved by just about everyone, that we should feel much better when we see the second truck pull up every week and collect a different set of trash from the one that came an hour before. We feel productive; the trash is still taken to a far-off site; everyone wins.

Unfortunately, the writer had the opportunity to take the point further and talk about the real problem – humanity itself – but opted not to:

Popular impressions to the contrary notwithstanding, we are not running out of places to dispose of garbage. Not only is US landfill capacity at an all-time high, but all of the country’s rubbish for the next 100 years could comfortably fit into a landfill measuring 10 miles square. Benjamin puts that in perspective: “Ted Turner’s Flying D ranch outside Bozeman, Mont., could handle all of America’s trash for the next century — with 50,000 acres left over for his bison.”

[+] | Boston.com Editorial

Let’s assume those facts are correct. What happens in a century? Does that calculation take into account population growth, and if so, how much?

Jacoby falls victim to the very thought process he’s calling out: he notes in the article that landfills are great because we get methane gas out of them and we frequently turn them into golf courses and parks, so everyone wins. Let’s just make tons of landfills since we have the space – out of sight, out of mind.

There’s no thought to why we need to recycle in the first place. Recycling came about as a solution to all the trash we produce in society. We produce lots of trash due to two factors: the number of people we have, and the amount of disposable stuff we consume, including McDonalds’ burger wrappings, disposable diapers, and styrofoam coffee cups.

So why no talk of solving the root problems? We can break them down pretty easily:

1. Amount of trash produced: we live in a throwaway culture, where tons of plastic is used to package products, where it’s encouraged to throw things away after only a few uses, and where people upgrade even laptops and cars every other year. As a result of insatiable consumer demand, many products are made to be disposable. Why would you build a car to last twenty years when people won’t keep it after ten, or even five?

Let’s also not forget that infrastructure has been set up to haul away garbage with minimal effort on the part of the consumer – whenever it’s easier to throw something away than keep it and fix it, that’s what people will do.

2. Number of people producing trash: Animals don’t produce non-biodegradable trash, unless you count housepets and their dog poop bags, toys, etc. So the amount of trash out there is mostly due to human activity.

How do we reduce the amount of trash a society produces? In part, by moving away from a consumer-driven culture, and in part by reducing the number of people who live within its borders.

You won’t see many newspapers – even editorials in newspapers – tackling those problems, because as daring as Jacoby seems to be when saying that greenism feels good but may not accomplish much, he’s only willing to touch the tip of the iceberg. The real problems remain buried, sort of like a golf course over a landfill.

Ignoring the patterns of nature

Modern life takes effort. Just getting through to the end of the day — fighting egos and layers of management at work, then ignoring family drama, then a few hours of TV before bed — can take all you’ve got. But the last thing you need is some idiot telling you that “life is precious,” as if he wanted to raise your blood pressure.

Almost everyone has a slightly different idea of what “life is precious” really means. Since everyone has a voice, we naturally take this to mean that life is precious because all of us are here, and we each have an equally valid opinion! The problem with this view is that it ignores the larger patterns of nature, in which we are participants but not “in control” as we like to assume we are.

Our entire society suffers from this illusion of control. When we think about it, life being precious means the exact opposite of catering to the individual ego. Life itself is precious, not our interpretation of what we want right now. Life is the bigger natural process, a pattern of nature more than a tangible thing, and if we don’t pay attention to it, it’ll slip right on past while we zone out.

Even twenty to thirty years ago, growing up in a suburb meant playing kickball with the neighborhood kids; parents didn’t even have to watch every move you made; before the busy-ness of full time school started a kid could wander into the woods and let his imagination run wild – with or without friends or supervision.  Those days are over in favor of two years of preschool so Mommy can get her hair done and “have a life.”

Think about a supermarket. Buy the raw ingredients that require someone to cook them, or just stock up on the convenient products of an industry conveniently based around the things cheapest to make, like grains and sugars? The vitality of nature is removed from a Twinkie, or from machines draining hormone-bloated cows or squeezing eggs out of debeaked GM chickens.

Yet it’s easy to space out and ignore all of this. There’s a nice cool breeze in the supermarket, and pleasantly vapid music, and people who are paid to smile when you greet them. So you pile all the crap in the cart, swipe the card and head off home — one more thing checked off the list! One fewer obligation! Now you’ve got time for yourself again, to do something you really want to do instead of have to do.

The alternative is not so easy. Instead of thinking about what you want, as if the world is an optional part of yourself, think about how you fit into the world. Think about the patterns of nature, which evolved over billions of years, and how you’d live harmoniously with them. If we look at the food industry, we can see how we’d do that.

Replace centralized food production with self-sufficient, smaller communities. Don’t eat peaches in the middle of winter; eat them in season, when they grow around you. Grow tomatoes in the summer and eat them in the summer. Then grow your squash, tubers, grains and fruit and store them for the winter. Squeeze yourself back into the patterns of nature.

In doing away with the idea of not having certain foods in certain seasons, we disengage ourselves from nature – and hence, reality.  We have used our technology to obliterate the patterns of nature  because it “seems like” the individual wants more convenience and more options, even if that individual has no idea what to do with all those options. But if you want peaches in winter, you’ll need a globalized economy and centralized food production.

Before we decided to replace reality with a fake reality, the summer solstice and winter solstice were celebrated precisely because the summer gave us bounty and the winter was a sign of prolonged sleep for most of the food that gives us life.  But everyone knew it was a cycle, and a few short months from winter we’d once again be celebrating longer, warmer days.

As part of local communities, we inherently understood how much the land could bear and kept our populations low. We didn’t need so many laws, because what should and should not be done was clearer. We followed the rhythm of the seasons, and were less manic about staying in touch or checking in with the news. We didn’t need to be told what was real or important — we lived it.

To people who were raised to ignore and even fear natural processes, these ideas are sacrilege. Following natural patterns means we need to give up the idea that we are in control. But if we ignore these natural patterns, we become a species that is more tumor or virus than animal, and our sense of detachment heightens as we wonder if we will ever find anything “real” again.

Save KTRU (91.7 FM)

Rice University plans to sell its radio station KTRU (91.7 FM). This would remove a rare source of local, independent, non-corporate radio programming. Secret negotiations excluded input from Rice students and alumni. KTRU, which was created independently of the university by students with alumni funding, was never funded by Rice and is only “owned” by the university through a technicality. Help us oppose this sale by following the simple steps on this page:

http://savektru.org/

The Death of Social Constructs

There are many arguments that like to point out that religion, tradition and cultures are all social constructs and therefore we should not believe in them, anyone who does is immediately a moron.

This is a piss poor argument which we are frequently confronting, many fool for this. It’s like pointing toward something saying ‘that’s a rock’ and because of this sudden revelation, everyone is immediately disgusted and stigmatised against it, it immediately becomes a taboo because nobody had dared call it simply a ‘rock’ before.

Now they lose all sense of sacredness toward this ‘rock’, unable to see what it symbolically represents and fail to see what it contained beyond the surface. It is now socially worthless and they destroy it to build a landfill, because hey, it’s just a stupid ‘rock’ and we’re modern now anyway so who cares?

Likewise, some halfwits choose to mock more recent beliefs because they are ‘beliefs’, not because they can philosophically underpin the argument and understanding with something greater and more complex – All atheists say God doesn’t exist, a few notice it as cultural expressions similar to those of ancient civilizations, yet most just will not acknowledge anything above the microbial level; but does that automatically defunct a civilization of its moral values? Of its social technology?

No, it means they continue to lie to themselves and follow the same morals with an egalitarian twist of fate where they feast on the carcass of the dead ‘God’ ripping out portions of Truths for their own self interest – However, they will be very ‘compassionate’ when spreading this infection until it consumes everything with their charitable biowarfare.

Slowly and steadily they tear it piece by piece until there is nothing but an emptiness and then the values are consumed, this liberates the flesh from the bones as they devour it in a crowd of microbial individualists. They redistribute these morals toward the lesser of society where they can all be ‘Gods’ in their own queer little ‘Right’ and thereby kill the host, the civilization is torn down in decline.

The argument of freedom fighters and liberals is like microbes, using their own tiny social constructs of passive nihilism together in a mob of individualists to deconstruct other more higher reaching social constructs of traditionalism.

They will obfuscate the definitions and the understanding because describing words do not contain profit for you, you poor little microbe, you. They burst the dam of civilization in their down-going materialism and utterly destroy, decay and disease its being.

But us of higher self interest have put that dam there for precisely that reason. The dam is no physical dam as such, but an order, a homeostasis which keeps a certain pressure within it rather than exploding this and dying.

Not only is it an immune system to prevent this decay and preserve homeostasis of civilization, but it also guides a more complex evolution into greater things. Therefore we are going to create God and damn you behind a wall of greater moralistic laws so that you cannot decay and destroy the healthier individuals.

The individuals will build up behind it and be forced through a social technology which will generate productive results out of the group which benefit the survival of civilization to reach into the impossible, into the future by combining multiple interests toward a similar goal. 

When you stop generating electricity through this dam, so will the creation of God cease and He will never exist to you – whatever was created will slowly rot as the individual cells rot off the limb and crawl back into the dirt of lower levels of evolution.

Many individuals fail by nature to realise the social constructs damn their counter-productive interests because they are destructive and are not healthy toward our goals.  Through its traditions it blocks the counter-productive undercastes and sequestrates their wealth and power to instead push it into long term interests beyond which they can comprehend – It is a technology of the immaterial, a creation, we created these deities for our own survival, we constructed the social deity like a technology underpinning all materialism, for the future reward of materialism in a higher dimension, in the cosmos.

If you’re not kicking and screaming with microbial vengeance by now, we can now appreciate such great social constructs such as;

  • Gods & Civilization

Gods appear as cultural esoteric expressions of social phenomena at first, local to each civilization. Each God can represent an element of social and various interactions with the environments we find ourselves within, in Ancient Greece you will find Gods of war, love, fear, terror, life and death. Far more interesting then modernity.

In theistic religions we find they converge and are alloyed into a whole, they are less expressive but still great for warfare and justifying greatness. The deities act as specialized abstractions for damnation of the counter-productive self interests and encouraging more desirable and more intelligent, thought-out interests.

With this it creates guilt towards lesser self interests and a higher sense of strength towards socially acceptable constructs which are (in aristocracies) economical for the survival of the civilization, which in turn fuels the growth of great architecture and art.

All Gods and social constructs are subject to change constantly yet preserve their form in formlessness, thereby existing in nothing – they do not exist in the material and explains matter from outside the box, all religions can reinforce properties of social reality.

  • The Biosphere & the Cosmos

These act to us as a source of creativity and vitality for creating life of our own as well as sustaining ourselves as biological organisms.

All ideas that are successful are secondhand from natural selection, a set of ideals comes from natural patterns which are proven to be successful through their million years of evolutionary heritage and are reliable.

If we destroy these because we think our technology is superior now, we will have lost an intellectual wealth to which nothing in a million years could successfully replace. Despite our technological prowess, we are primitives in this cosmos and must learn from those entities which have survived eons through it.

  • Communities, culture, race & tribe 

Because we’re modern now, we apparently don’t ‘need’ communities or families, or even to respect our own race – we can all be counter-productive and pursue miscegenation under the unholy empire of globalised economics.

It is evident that since the creation of money beyond barter economics it has allowed more atomised societies to exist on the social level, with this it has become possible to not care about other individuals and how they effect us except of course through the TV and media.

Weakened, enfeebled and corrupted are those rotting inside this vault, they are mutating their interpersonal relationships to the point that without some giant sludge monstrosity of mechanical credit they cannot form any bonds between each other the natural way.

Those who seek healthy relationships will notice the need for a form of empathy that can just as easily switch-blade itself into lack of it when the other individuals involved threaten the survival of something greater.

That means, yes care about roles in civilization, such as the masculine and feminine roles in nurturing the generations healthily, so that individuals get what they need – but not to the point of pity and altruism where we are counter-productively intervening with the irreconcilable faults of others and trying to tear down the healthy structures because they are oppressive towards the least helpful.

  • Social constructs, such as those above, combined in the right qualities provide an alloy of similar interests

These are stronger than they could ever be alone. For example, copper and tin are weak on their own yet smelted together they create the much tougher bronze – but that is only that they have bonds to make, some metals produces weaker alloys or simply do not mix. Appreciating the alloyed nature of things is perhaps a greater meaning toward such ideals of benevolence and compassion, yet they are rare in nature and do not mix well with all socializations.

Social constructs will always happen, we just don’t need the ones that halt evolution. The social values, they evolve into laws, a civil barricade against undesired evolutionary paths. The dam builds up the water, energy and discipline channels it elsewhere, somewhere more constructive toward goals.

Facebook = Racist

The group was not hateful (vague), did not threaten anyone, was not obscene, and attacked no individuals or groups. It was for the positive advocacy of Black Nationalism, African-American independence, African secession and autonomous self-rule for African-Americans and Africans.

It’s not just white people that Facebook discriminates against. If you stand up for nationalism, or the definition of nations by ethnicity, you are going to get shut down. Why? Probably because that idea offends our modern notion that with democracy, propaganda/education, and consumerism we’re all going to be OK. There’s no need to actually address problems like diversity or class warfare — just tolerate them. And keep buying stuff.

The entropy of Reddit

You’ll never find as good a metaphor for the modern time as social news aggregators (SNAs) like Digg, Reddit and Fark.

On these, news items are posted, and users vote on them — with the pretend-I’m-a-Roman-Emperor thumb up or down — and the most popular ones rise to the top of the homepage.

When first founded, these services at first attract people who want actual news and informative reading. They know that big media news panders to the dummy audience that wants bread and circuses. Instead, they want to be ahead of the curve.

If you’re starting a business, or just trying to stay interested in life, finding good news is important and a social news aggregator can do it for you — if the audience is game. But over time, as word spreads, entropy strikes.

What happens is familiar to anyone who knows our modern cycle of trend-product-decline-conform:

  1. A new idea rises and people like it;
  2. Since people liking it means it can be elected or sold, it soon is to great profit;
  3. In doing so, the people owning it dumb it down or otherwise kill its essence;
  4. Consequently, the audience leaves.

What happened at Reddit was the flip side of this: while the process was the same, it wasn’t done for dollars — in fact, it’s amazing Reddit is solvent. Instead, it was done for popularity, because there’s no use to having an SNA if your links aren’t popular.

Popular links means high Google rank, which means that indirectly, you influence the market by determining what comes up when Joe Consumer goes to a browser and types in keywords.

At some point, the Crowd found Reddit — and by the Crowd, I mean that large group of people who have no point in life but to please themselves. Smart people have a purpose, whether selfless or otherwise, but it generally involves achievement: inventing technologies, making music, painting art, climbing mountains, running non-profits, you name it.

The Crowd has nothing but their day jobs, a pattern of acting for their own pleasure only, and to compensate for how low that makes them feel, an axe to grind against society. They’re drones who like to find some reason to “be important,” which since they do nothing, is unrelated to what they produce. Instead, it’s related to the opinions they have, the memes they know, how clever they are and so on.

Douglas Haddow says it best in Adbusters:

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society. – Adbusters

In pursuit of popularity, Reddit went from being a community of leaders and smart people to a playground for the Crowd. The Crowd don’t want cutting-edge news; they want ideas that make them comfortable being themselves. A partial list:

  • Memes you can feel witty for repeating
  • Angry articles about how it’s not your fault you’re failing at society
  • Any rhetoric that tears down those who have risen above
  • Clever and trite documentaries about lifestyles of the failed
  • Emotional, tear-jerking or despondent articles
  • Calls to group revenge, such as against animal abusers

More specifically, the Crowd likes anything that is both inclusive and selective, meaning that you need to know the password to enter. Want to be cool in indie rock circles? Talk about Deerhoof. Want to be accepted on the far left? Talk about Alinsky. Want to have the guys like you at the local sports bar? Talk about how Roethlisberger is innocent.

In other words, the Crowd is like other in-groups in that it is a social group with implications beyond socialization between individuals. For example, people base their political, economic and personal lifestyle decisions on social influences, and these in turn have influences in the society at large.

Kuran begins with a simple, even mundane point: social pressures can make people say that they want and believe something that they really don’t want or believe. In a Communist regime, for example, almost everyone may talk about the enormous wisdom and virtue of the leaders of the Party, even though almost everyone thinks that the leaders are scoundrels and fools. In a small town in America, nearly everyone may attend and pray in church, even if many people are unsure whether they believe in God. The result of social pressures is to produce what Kuran calls “preference falsification,” a phenomenon that occurs when you make an inaccurate public statement about your actual preferences (or beliefs). Falsified preferences might be described more simply, of course, as lies; but they are a distinctive, and distinctly interesting, kind of lies, with particular social implications. – TNR

I don’t think this process is unique to Reddit. I think it’s human entropy, which is a subset of entropy, which is that over time organization is lost. Things decay and break down. In the case of human systems, we forget what our symbols mean, and start acting to gain symbolic power instead of achieve things in reality.

To demonstrate this, one Redditor did a did a little experiment.

He or she compared the replies to the exact same article with a four-year gap between submissions. The 2006 version of the thread could be compared side-by-side with the 2010 version. The result? The 2006 thread had insightful mathematics, historical comparisons and analysis; the 2010 version, a competition to repeat as many clever memes and familiar jokes as possible.

On Reddit, when people stopped caring about being an informative news source, the 4chan-style memes, lolcats, stupid preaching to the choir articles, and other chaff floated in, destroying what made Reddit a great resource.

Now what’s left is a Crowd of people who want to see things that confirm what they already believe. I call it the Reddit Hivemind Groupthink (RHG) because it has attributes of all of these buzzwords. It’s an in-group based not on who you know, but what opinions and likes/dislikes you have, geared toward the manchild or other dependent of the entertainment economy.

It’s sad because it eliminates a news source, but inevitable because once anything gets popular, it becomes a trend and then people get onboard who have no idea what made it originally valuable. They then make it into what is convenient for them, which since they lack direction and live in denial, is whatever doesn’t offend their lifestyles.

While today’s Redditors want you to think they’re enlightened savants bringing us the truth against the wishes of an oppressive right-wing government, the truth is that they have declined much like “Anonymous” did at 4chan. They lost their impetus because they became inward looking. On the internet, they’re superstars. In reality they’re boring people with boring jobs, selfish hobbies, inflated self image and an unquenchable anger toward anyone who has more than they do.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a community sink this way. In fact, it’s how all communities sink, barring getting outright confiscated by the FBI (as happened to several of the communities I frequented in the 1980s). They get crushed under their own weight, lose sight of what made them valuable, and become like every other played-out trend, more detritus of a society moving too fast for its own good.

Artificial life attacks!

Today it has just been announced that artificial life has been created and has been reproduced more than a billion times, sparking moral controversy:

Scientists have created artificial life. In a world-first, Craig Venter, a maverick biologist and billionaire entrepreneur, has made a designer microbe from scratch.

The creation of the new life form, nicknamed ‘Synthia’, paves the way for the way for customised bugs that could revolutionise healthcare and fuel production.

In future, bacterial ‘factories’ capable of pumping out vast quantities of vital medicines or producing clean fuels could be designed to order.

Synthetic biology could also be harnessed to create environmentally-friendly bugs, capable of mopping up carbon dioxide or toxic waste.

Dr Venter, a cowboy boot-wearing Vietnam War veteran known for his showman tendencies, proclaimed: ‘We are entering a new era where we’re limited mostly by our imaginations.’

‘limited by our imaginations’, yes, yes this species has proven that already with these eco surrogates and magic medicine to help retards control themselves from throwing poo at mental institute staff. Now man has the potential to, not only engineer viruses and plagues, but life itself. Amazing, let’s see what a couple of rich corporate oligarchs can do with this little nugget, those who want to socially engineer a money making utopia where they can control everything and tickle with the economy because they own everything anyway, so let’s see, what could happen with this then?

There are fears that the technology, detailed in the journal Science could be abused to create the ultimate biological weapon.

Or that one mistake in a lab could lead to millions being wiped out by a plague, in scenes reminiscent of the Will Smith film I Am Legend.

Dr Venter, who was instrumental in the sequencing of the human genome, had previously succeeded transplanting one bug’s genome – its entire cache of DNA – into another bacterium, effectively changing its species.

[…]

He said: ‘We have ended up with the first synthetic cell powered and controlled totally by a synthetic chromosome and made from four bottles of chemicals.

‘It is pretty stunning when you just replace the DNA software in a cell and the cell instantly starts reading that new software and starts making a whole new set of proteins and within a short while all the characteristics of the first species disappear and a new species emerges.

[…]

‘Scientists’ understanding of biology falls far short of their technical capabilities. We have already learnt to our cost the risks that gap brings, for the environment, animal welfare and human health.

Professor Julian Savulescu, an Oxford University ethicist, said: ‘Venter is creaking open the most profound door in humanity’s history, potentially peeking into its destiny.

‘He is not merely copying life artificially or modifying it radically by genetic engineering.  He is going towards the role of God: creating artificial life that could never have existed naturally.’

Daily Mail

Now we’re just that tiniest bit even closer to killing off the majority of our population, awesome. Some exotic consequences to our environment however, means that it is not such a brilliant idea. Given the growth of technology, our skills toward genetic engineering will only increase (unless the IQ of humanity permanently falls beneath 120) therefore having the potential to threaten and even completely overrun the biosphere.

Just remember how our ecosystem’s biodiversity has been almost completely destroyed by meagre little things as worms, rodents, squirrels and even insects, some insects can destroy entire forests. So if something biologically engineered is like a germ from another planet that is able and managed to tap into the genome – the consequences could be devastating, or very interesting, and are unknowable to modern man, it will only add more threats, and more competition to any organism alive causing natural selection as we know it to be poisoned yet again.

Things such as cyanobacteria are the basic building block of our ecosystem, if their genome was under threat by a similar but foreign bacteria, it could completely poison the atmosphere by converting it into an alien gas. The fact that we have cyanobacteria and not some of the thousands of other strand of bacteria means that our planet may have potentially given birth to ecosystems completely different in composition to ours.

But regardless of the consequences, possessed humanity continues to open pandora’s boxes and xboxes,we will find modern day humanity even more obsolete. Rapid changes can and will occur with the consequences of radical technology fiddling with biology and ecosystems – forget using it for ‘soaking up CO2′, we have trees for that, forget using it for magic ‘medicine’, whenever we overun a natural function we drown in excess of its ‘positive’ effect, we drown in people who really shoulden’t be alive and push the hierarchy of organization further inward on itself.

Although it isn’t just about whether a technology is ethical really, although restricting development will increase the lifespan of certain civilizations dramatically; the main problem is who gets to use them.