Today, let me introduce you to a new post format.
Here’s the thing: the click-through “tile” design of the website encourages long-form writing.
This was a deliberate decision to keep the quality of posts high and discourage filler content, but it created a different problem – there was no place for content that’s shorter than a long-form essay and longer than a tweet. Which is most of it.
So here’s the idea: I’ll put a bunch of shorter “posts”, couple of paragraphs per topic, in something like a weekly revue. This is the first one.
We’ll see about the frequency – I could probably do one of these every day just by publishing about half the notes I take, but let’s start with once or twice a week.
An added advantage is that the variety of topics ensures there will always be something interesting to everyone.
The “Penisocratic Method” is a working title that may change. I think the pun vividly captures the ideal attitude of sharp rationality mixed with dick jokes, but we’ll see how popular it proves.
I also wouldn’t mind if it got syndicated into a braver traditional newspaper.
Here we go:
The Tesla Cybertruck is a good example of starting from first principles rather than convention. The reaction is a good example of how people react to such surprising solutions from first principles. After the initial shock at the subversion of expectations subsides and you got used to it, it’s the new normal and obvious thing to do, and everything else looks instantly outdated.
Most people go through three stages with regard to the design:
- “Hmm, actually…”
- “I want one”
I’m currently at 2.5. Probably will reach 3 when the black version is unveiled.
To estimate the Cybertruck’s prospects, I talked to several rural Americans – the target demographic – and they all said they want one. I’m starting to suspect it’s gonna be one of the best selling cars in history. It will probably also be the first to be driven on another planet.
Keep in mind pick-up trucks are the three best selling vehicles in the United States, so you can’t solve car emissions without solving them. For some reason, the “rednecks” love the design (It’s rugged? It reminds them of Reagan-era science fiction? It’s objectively good?). It will do well with them.
It is the ideal vehicle for all settings that aren’t dense metropolitan downtowns, where even a Fiat 500 is a pain in the ass to use anyway.
It’s also another example of Elon apocalypse-proofing civilization. Think about the full stack here: internet from space, decentralized power production, underground construction, electric cars – and now, bulletproof tanks one can practically live in, and which, with the optional solar cover, can do 15 miles a day without any external power source. Keep in mind his brother Kimbal is also working on indoor agriculture. Not terribly successfully, as LEDs and electricity need to get a lot cheaper for that to make sense, but working on it.
This is the car for a zombie apocalypse, or for the cyberpunk aftermath of a US government collapse and/or a second American civil-war.
The technology stack for settling other planets = the technology stack for surviving in most scenarios on this one = the technology stack for reducing the risk of any bad scenarios on this one.
Take me to Mars, Elon
The European Space Agency tweeted that there is no planet B.
Well, whose damn fault is that? That’s like a chef informing us that there is no lunch.
What are we paying them for? We only let them get away with endless weather satellites and high school experiments with peas and spiders in Low Earth Orbit on the tacit understanding we want cool spaceships and space colonies.
The problem is that, like all bureaucracies – especially francophone ones – ESA has become a jobs and welfare programme and industrial subsidy and redistribution scheme that performs its official role only incidentally. (A similar thing is happening with fusion power at ITER, which is a funding hog that probably delays commercial fusion. TLDR tokamaks are fundamentally flawed and kept alive by vested interest and sunk cost. Inertial confinement FTW.)
Of course there’s a planet B, and it’s right there for the taking. We can make life multiplanetary within a couple of decades. We can probably have a self-sustaining city on Mars by 2040.
First step: stop subsidizing the French with single-use Ariane and buy proper rockets from SpaceX.
The underbullying of the American mind
It’s fashionable to explain every social problem, gap in outcomes and individual underperformance by low self-esteem, insufficient encouragement, “negative stereotypes” or, in general, a lack of external positive reinforcement. It’s bullshit on multiple levels, but most importantly, it’s the exact opposite of the problem that many westerners in general and Americans in particular have. Whatever they lack, it certainly isn’t self-esteem.
If anything, people have been taught to hold themselves in a rather unrealistically high regard.
America is the promised land of overpromoted idiots, of midbrow galaxybrains teaching in colleges, of You Can Do Anything Honey, of talentless schmucks convinced they’re the best thing since sliced bread, of epic chips on shoulders and a sense of grievance nursed by people who are, in fact, already in far better places than they will ever deserve – typically at the expense of others.
No, the problem is the opposite – generations of Americans have been overencouraged, and one hesitates to say but has to say it, criminally underbullied.
You look at one of them purple haired mentally unwell manatees with a horseshoe through the septum and a made up sexuality, and you think, this is a person who has never been upside down in a bathroom stall, and it is their great pity.
I’m not saying bullying is good, but I’m saying many forms of healthy social feedback, some of them possibly wedgie-based, have been classed as “bullying’ and forbidden, and the result is an epidemic of people whose cringey self-concepts have simply not been checked by healthy ridicule and some character-building time stuffed in a locker.
Trump is the tip of the iceberg of the bipartisan national character.
They grew up in a narcissistic culture that hasn’t given them the chance for a minute’s honest reflection in their lives, indeed whose overriding focus has been to prevent honest reflection, and replace it – and their genuine selves – with constructed images.
It doesn’t help that the psychological theories underpinning western education and childrearing are, for the most part, nonsense. The problem of excessive self-esteem and collective narcissism will persist as long as psychologists and teachers are recruited from the same pool as astrologers and yoga instructors – obliviocratic derpinas.
He who would enkindle must himself be ablaze
There are well-intentioned calls that schools should teach creativity, critical thinking, mindfulness, scientific literacy and emotional wellbeing. The problem with that is that the average teacher has none of these things, and can therefore hardly teach them to others.
Perhaps schools should focus on facts first, and all the other stuff should come from a different source of personal betterment. Mentors, parents, peer groups, good books, edgy online writers, all that stuff the educational bureaucracy is trying to dismantle and replace without being able to provide an alternative.
Remember when Iran flew drones into Saudi Arabia’s largest refinery?
That refinery is surrounded by the best defense technology petrodollars can buy, as well as American and British military bases. Yet the drones slipped through unhindered.
Which means we found out that everybody is defenseless against relatively cheap drones that are well within the budget of many non-state actors. War just got a whole lot more assymetric.
Who pays the piper calls the tune
According to an UK official, the UK should demand more say at the World Bank, considering it is the largest contributor, and demand reform.
Thankfully, the name of the gentleman who said it is “Chakhrabarti”, so it has to be taken seriously rather than dismissed as white male imperialism.
The World Bank’s development model is essentially this: a petty official flies to an authoritarian shithole. The local warlord entertains him with 14 year old prostitutes, drugs and fistfuls of diamonds – or shares in a state enterprise. The petty official approves a favorable loan for the dictator, which keeps him in power while saddling the country with unsustainable long term liabilities.
So yes, you could say that the World Bank needs reform.
Cut from a better cloth
Christmas shopping brought me in intimate intercourse with the fashion industry. As industries go, it is by far one of the most rotten, parasitic, and ripe for disruption.
The traditional fashion industry – in which an elderly faggot in London designs things that are then made by child slaves in Asia and sold at an outrageous markup to women and children with other people’s credit cards – is thankfully dying.
The future: small manufactures much closer to the point of purchase, using local materials (cellulose is amazing) and mass customizability via online interfaces.
Related: research has shown that the average number of times a garment is worn is 5-6. That number is probably understated for dramatic effect, but in principle, disposability and frivolous, wasteful, socially irresponsible hobbyist shopping are real. Let’s be honest, there’s also a massive “gender gap”.
Public service announcement: shopping is not a personality, nor a hobby.
Here, as in other things, post-communist Europe is ahead. In the spirit of “waste not want not”, it is normal here to wear things until they start to fall apart, at which point they become pyjamas and homewear, and you wear them for another ten years.
If a retailer’s wares don’t last ten years, buy from a retailer whose wares do.
Scotland the stunning and brave
Scots will be able to choose from a boutique selection of 21 sexualities in the next census.
Which means Scotland now has more sexualities than successful companies.
Then again, it is a country where men have worn skirts since the 16th century.
Discipline me, Teddy
Teddy Roosevelt “repeatedly warned American men that they were becoming too office-bound, too complacent, too comfortable with physical ease and moral laxity, and were failing in their duties to propagate the race and exhibit masculine vigor.”
It is easy to see his point.
Sugar … honey honey
An investigation in the UK has found that Tesco honey is stuffed up with sugar. There are “concerns’ it might apply to other vendors”.
No shit. I thought it was common knowledge that supermarket honey is fake, and you need to buy from beekeepers. Or become a beekeeper.
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