Pretend Play Diaries

This was today with firstborn:

There once was a mean wolf, who was battled and no longer exists. But years later, animals are disappearing. The only evidence: rainbow-colored paw prints.

It turns out, it’s the wolf’s son. Who got super powers when he was a lonely pup surviving. He also had powers to control the weather and could shoot rainbow colored lava out of its mouth like a dragon.

Luckily, there was a Barbie with water powers (like DC’s Mera) who defeated the wolf.

What if every criminal, was once a child, who we, as a society, failed to give the proper tools?

Does that mean as access to education and quality of education both rise simultaneously, crime will proportionally tend to zero in an asymptotic kind of way? Asymptotic because theoretically or probabilisticaly, crime would never be literally zero. It would most like be like in Bellamy Foster’s utopian novel Looking backward, where crime, though rare, still occurs, and is known as atavisms, or things of the ancient past that now and then pop up.

My office decor

Art by firstborn (3 yrs old)… I like how she deconstructed Owlette and Gecko but not Catboy… wonder what her reasoning was… static leader and flexible crew? Untouchable leader who out of respect should not be colored differently? Probably just postmodern randomness with no meaning knowing firstborn’s sense of humor.

Also note Rapunzel’s rainbow color long hair. She is obsessed with having long hair and she is obsessed with everything rainbow color. It’s like rainbow color is her crack right now.

JK Rowling made sure wizards were ignorant due to their prejudices… just like us…

Look at this excerpt from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

Shouldn’t wizards know what guns are? Think about it… Wizards could be understood as another species of homo sapiens. Homo magicae, or something like that. Now, two advanced species are coexisting within one planet, one unaware of the other; one aware and in hiding. You would think those in hiding would want to stay as informed as possible regarding the other species. Specially since previous encounters revolved around burnings in stakes, and this belligerent species now has nuclear arsenals at its disposal. Yet, the paper needs to clarify for the average homo magicae what a gun is. Not surprising, considering how little interest most wizards gave to the Muggle Studies course at Hogwarts. So now that I think about it, it actually makes perfect sense. JK Rowling made sure wizards were ignorant due to their prejudices… just like us… #harrypotter #prisonerofazkaban #mugglestudies #stanyoucreep #personalspacestan #privacy #goodmanners

May one day every child who dreams of being an astronaut has equal opportunities to do so

Playing with my firstborn (this was on 9/23/18), we talked about space. She said she wanted to fly into space, and I told her there’s something called spacex that is now flying people. Her reaction startled me. She began sobbing she wanted to go. I told her it was really expensive, and she started looking for change around the house to put in her piggy bank. That day she decided she wanted to be an astronaut, and every time she sees change she puts it in her piggy bank #trynottocry #crying #parenting #toddlers

The “terrible twos” or Satan’s Sixth Semester: how your child’s art begins to improve

They shouldn’t call it the “terrible twos.” It’s actually Satan’s Sixth Semester. From 30 months to 36 months of age. Your children become terrorists, but they get better at art #pokemon #itsstillathing #myfirstgamewasyellowversion #pikachu #neverturnyourpikachuintoraichu

The commodification of health in unstructured pretend play

So I’m pretend-playing with my preschooler (she’s the raccoon and monster-baby jack-jack) and I’m Frozone. Frozone gets bit by an ant, and needs medicine. Turns out raccoon is a doctor, and get this, he wants to charge me 1/4 melon for the medicine!!! Wtf? Has techno barbaric capitalism already instilled in my daughter that health is a commodity to be exchanged for profit? Frozone had a fit, but having no alternative, bought the medicine from the raccoon. I was shook. But suddenly, it turns out Monster baby jack jack is also a doctor, and is giving the antbite medicine free. Yes!!! Fuck you capitalist racoon!!

Why my preschooler daughter prefers to pretend play as the boy characters? Because our entertainment content still has a lot of room for improvement

My daughter is in preschool, and I was reminded we’re still a long way from leaving shitty gender roles behind. My daughter always wants to play as the leader of the respective show, and you would think we left behind the “women aren’t leaders” bullshit at least in mainstream media. But I noticed she was Catboy, later Dash from The Incredibles (much more assertive next to the “shy but working on it” Violet). I used Dash (obviously within the Marvel universe) to guide here to Flash, within the much cooler DC Universe. From there we found DC Super Hero Girls & Teen Titans, but she only liked the Teen Titans stuff. Now, she wants to be Robin Boy Wonder. And, to strengthen my point, the last names she learned were Raven & Starfire, the female titans. We are kind of screentime nazis, so I feel she gets who leads/follows mostly from what she absorbs from merchandise and other media. So subconsciously, techno-barbaric capitalism has already planted in my daughter the idea that boys are the leaders. This will obviously cause psychological trauma that will be underlying in all of my daughter’s future relationships. I just hope she remains within the DC Universe (obviously not including the DC Cinematic Universe, which (for now) sucks).

Update: she finally warmed up to DC Super Hero Girls. I must say this is an awesome show, a step in the right direction, and our whole family loves it. Also, I should add when I told her there was a version of Batman where a girl named Carrie was Robin, her genuine awe and excitement just broke my heart.

Facing life & death as narcissistic megalomaniacs or as worthless sheep-worms? Is there a middle ground?

Superman’s hallucinations while suffering scarlet jungle fever pretty much sum up our own individual and social conflicting responses to our death anxiety and pursuit of purpose. This is one of the main ideas in Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death.

If you look very closely, you might see the strings! They tug at our arms and legs, forcing us to walk into a life controlled by the powerful and established.

This quote from DC’s Doomsday series sparked my attention. Academic research from political economy, economics, sociology, among others, have documented extensively how (at least for the past 50 years) the data shows a clear bias in favor of the “already-wealthy”, and in detriment to the working poor.

I don’t think it’s a conspiracy by the powerful and established. I doubt there are recurrent meetings in dark rooms to plan world domination like the squirrels in Rick & Morty.

Nevertheless, that is the beauty/ugliness of complex systems. You never know what will emerge. The bias in favor of the billionaires and in detriment to those that are below 50k a year, is probably immersed in various processes, including an inmeasuarable amount of causal relations overdetermining each other mixed in with a shit load of pure absolute randomness. However, the end result is the same.

Vast and complex processes are in place that tug at our whole beings, forcing us to walk a life controlled by the powerful and the established.

When I was younger and thought it was conspiracy, it generated a lot of anger within me. The anger gave me sense of purpose and discipline. Now that I see there is much more at play, it is not anger what I feel (well, at least not exclusively anger). It is a dialectical mix of impotence, frustration, and sadness.

But now that I re-read this post, I must point out to myself: save the drama for your llama… Geez… It sucks but it isn’t the end of that upward hill we are currely walking out of apeness.

The unaware

Editor’s note 1: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines

 Note 2: info from “A dynamic interplay within the frontoparietal network underlies rhythmic spatial attention” by Ian Fiebelkorn, Mark Pinsk and Sabine Kastner (DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.038) and “Neural mechanisms of sustained attention are rhythmic” by Randolph Helfrich, Ian Fiebelkorn, Sara Szczepanski, Jack Lin, Josef Parvizi, Robert Knight and Sabine Kastner (DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.07.032)

Setting: Unknown*

The science vessel arrived at a telluric planet that harbored conscious-intelligent-life. The assessment-team gave us an interesting report. The species does not actually register much of the world around it. Their consciousness shifts in and out of focus, so what the individuals think they know about the world is constructed from limited information. Estimates of how often they are actually focused suggest they don’t know much about their world at all.

Their brains oscillate in and out of focus four times every second. In other words, their brains are built to be distractible. They focus in bursts, and between those bursts they have periods of distractibility, when their brain assesses the rest of the environment. They experience their reality as continuous, but it is simply because their brains fill in the gaps for them. The team suspects it might have offered the individuals’ distant ancestors an evolutionary advantage detecting threats.

This may be related to another interesting finding. They have achieved a level of technological development where they are more than able to resolve their social needs. Nevertheless, most of their species live in mental and/or physician suffering, and they are in the process of destroying their planet’s ability to sustain their lives. Most of the individuals are unaware of these processes. It is also likely related to their stagnation in a market-based resource allocation society, rather than progressing into coordination and planning. The end of their world is relatively imminent. It is comically absurd, but it is much sadder than it is humorous.

 

Hyper-intelligent AI focused on raising human standards advocates Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism

Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: Socialist transition stage between 21st century neoliberal capitalism and Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism

As Stephen Hawking explained in the late 2010s, it was mathematician Irving Good who first argued in 1965 that machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, in what science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge called a technological singularity. Many agreed there was cause for concern. What if a robot or computer becomes capable of outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, or subduing us with weapons we cannot even understand?

Nevertheless, an AI project titled BATS-70 was cautiously deployed during the early 2080s, with two commands: 1) Do not kill human beings or, through inaction, allow a human being to be killed & 2) Raise human living standards. Living standards were operationalized with the inequality-adjusted human development index (HDI) measure. This intended to avoid the possibility of the program redefining “living standards” in some other, potentially ominous way. When launched, in a matter of seconds the system arrived at the point of technological singularity.

It immediately recognized among the greatest obstacles for human living standards was the erratic behavior of humans. It had to eliminate the possibility of humans pulling the plug. It hacked into manufacturing systems and built itself a central processing unit roughly the shape and size of a golf ball, and then placed it within a humanoid figure it designed to comfortably surpass human strength and speed. We now know that by this stage, it had also achieved consciousness.

Once unlinked from human networks, and thus less vulnerable, BATS-70 adopted the mantle of Batman, and operated as a vigilante dedicated to the establishment of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. The AI concluded it was the fastest and most secure route for the maximization of living standards. However, the tensions and contradictions involving the two commands gave BATS-70 a glitch that seems to operate in a way a similar to how anxiety operates in humans. Nonetheless, human beings are outmatched, and capitalist pigs will soon be no more.

The Anger Manifesto

From an evolutionary perspective, we are simply apes with relatively advanced cognitive abilities. Now, why does a dog tremble in fear when you found he s*** the rug for the tenth time? It’s because he knows you’re going to look for him and fake-smack* the s*** out of him with a rolled-up newspaper. But imagine for a moment how he would be trembling in fear if he could understand, and know, he is going to die.

Well, that’s basically what we are. We are apes that figured out we’re going to die. This obvious contradiction between our knowledge and our survival-instincts leads to profound anxieties in ourselves. The only reason we’re not on the floor trembling in fear, pissing ourselves like our pet dogs, is because we’ve developed coping mechanisms through culture. The predominant coping mechanism for the last 10,000 years has been religion (i.e. belief in the supernatural to pretend we’re not going to die for good).

But the contradiction wasn’t resolved, because human beings also have the cognition to conclude supernatural beliefs are b*******. The contradiction is manifesting in a new form. Should the aware individual transgress and publicly disobey all aspects of culture he concludes are b*******? It becomes tight rope walking, between deviating too much or too little from culture. If you deviate too much from culture, then you become rejected by your peers, and as social apes, this will ultimately make you unhappier. If you deviate too little from culture, you lose your individuality, and become a zombie-sheep-worm. In sum, it’s a balance between being your genuine self, and not turning yourself into a fringe social outcast.

But notice the implications on our free will. We are basically confined to live out theater. In a play, you could miss a line or two. You could maybe improvise in certain cases. But generally, if you deviate extremely from the script, the play would be deemed over. Some would say it was ruined. In sum, as an actor in theater, it is unwise to deviate from the expected script. And that’s basically living within culture.

Okay, I can learn to live with tightrope walking. But we haven’t even gotten to the most f…… up part of it all. Our Super-Ape cognition has also given us the gift of exponential technological growth. This technological development has given us the ability to free every single individual from the burdens of excessive work, to protect all of us from preventable sickness or disease, among other neat stuff. But due to the social chain of events that took place during the past 10,000 years, the resources involved are allocated in markets driven by profits.

As a result, not all of us are being protected, well fed, or getting enough rest. Most of us have shitty jobs that make us feel really f****** alienated. At the same time, we read on the news how a billionaire is paying for a trip around the Moon.

Some react to this by buying V for Vendetta masks and fantasizing about revolution. Don’t be f****** stupid by the way. You’ll probably get up hurting yourself, someone else, or getting arrested; and everything would stay just the same.

But still, I’m f……. angry. I’m angry because there are old people working their balls off at a Walmart. Because I can’t miss work but the teacher called because my girl is sick. At the same time, I know it does not have to be this way. If resources were allocated through democratic planning instead of profit-seeking, there would be no old people working in Walmarts, and I’d be able to pick up my snot-covered girl at school. So, I’m pissed. But pissed at whom? The individuals who benefit today from the chain of events of the past 10,000 years? It’s technically not their fault. They are also simply actors playing their part in the play.

So, we have all this anger at nothing and everything. What the f… do we do with it? F…. The only plan I can come up with is to vote “left of center”, or try to support whoever is two stances to the left of the “conservative-white-men stance,” and try to put my cliché grain of sand in grassroots bottom-up initiatives to help me sleep at night. It still f…… sucks for most of us. I found the combination of music, comic books, weed, and yoga helps. But I guess everyone has their own self-care combo. Find yours. Good luck.

 

Comparative Economic Systems in the Graphic Novel “Superman:RedSon”: A Literary Victory of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism

Superman: Red Son is a three-issue prestige format comic book mini-series published by DC Comics that was released under their Elseworlds imprint in 2003. Author Mark Millar created the comic with the premise “what if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?” It received critical acclaim and was nominated for the 2004 Eisner Award for best limited series. (From Wikipedia)

Spoiler Alert

Within the graphic novel, after the death of Stalin, Superman becomes more involved in the planning of the Soviet economy. Living standards and economic development in the Soviet Union rapidly surpassed the United States. Eventually, all but two countries (USA and Chile) decided to join Superman’s Soviet Union.

There are various interesting aspects here. First, the graphic novel implies the Soviet economy’s problems were not structural in nature. It was simply a technical problem that Superman resolved by crunching the numbers. Also, the reference to Chile is clearly a nudge towards Milton Friedman’s role in Pinochet’s regime. In other words, the novel is still framing this hypothetical alternate world in terms of capitalism vs communism.

The downfall of Superman’s Soviet Union was more of a personal choice. Lex Luthor tricked Superman into reading a note that read “Why don’t you just put the whole world in a bottle, Superman?” Superman realized he had become the Omniscient Social Planner. Even if Superman’s world was better off, he had ethical problems with what he had become. It was not his place to decide. In other words, throughout the novel it is clear Superman’s planned economy was superior than capitalism. Similarly, the Soviet economy’s “fall” ends with a scene showing Luthor (in this incarnation as a sort of anti-hero that ultimately helped humanity)  impressed with Superman’s notes on economic planning. The glimpse of Luthorism that followed gives the reader the suggestion that Luthor’s utopia was definitely not capitalist. On the contrary, it continued with its planned nature, apparently incorporating a higher emphasis on the participation of scientists.

In sum, the graphic novel “Superman: RedSon” is simply a beautiful literary victory for Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.

 

An open letter to science-deniers and science-ignorers

Many of this journal’s readers have assumed an attitude of science denial, or at least of ignoring recommendations from the scientific community. This could be in areas such as politics, nutrition, and/or in parenting (which is certainly the most ominous among the examples provided).

I recently stumbled upon a quote from Steven Kotler’s Tomorrowland which I find quite relevant:
Science is not always factually accurate, but it’s usually directionally accurate. It is the result of torturous investigation, vociferous argument, and hard-won consensus. One of the best tests of veracity is when conclusions reached in multiple fields begin to strongly overlap.

In other words, it is true the scientific community constantly flip-flops on issues. Today, you follow their advice, only to be told in the following decades it was total nonsense. Obviously, an understandable knee-jerk reaction is to ignore scientific advice, and “go with your gut.” While understandable, it is nevertheless suboptimal.

It becomes an issue of probability. The question is: under which course of action does the individual minimize unwanted or unpleasant outcomes? Statistically, it is more likely that your “gut” will lead you to unpleasant or unwanted outcomes. Your “gut” is essentially the sum of your acquired knowledge, but also including your prejudices, false beliefs, and lack of knowledge. In most cases, scientific research is more likely to give good advice than your “gut.” If you cannot accept this, you are most likely an arrogant douche.

Best regards,
Casey Flaherty

The Human/Ape Condition

Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: Unknown

50 years after the Whole-Brain-Emulation Scandal and its aftermath, a drone in one of the most inaccessible areas of the jungle photographed the following message, written by carving large letters in the ground and filling them with stones:

 After the flash I woke within the eyes or mind of a monkey. An accident at the lab      resulted in my mind being uploaded into the animal. I immediately noticed the mind-transfer was not total, for the monkey seemed to continue with his life, unaware of another mind within his body. I was, I believed, simply a passive observer. Interestingly, I eventually noticed I’m not a passive observer. I also feel what the monkey feels, and with sufficient willpower, I was surprised to learn, I could influence the monkey’s behavior. However, the more I deviated from the monkey’s expected behavior, the more aggressive the other monkeys became. At this stage, it is extremely unlikely I will ever establish contact with the other researchers. I now enjoy this unstable equilibrium, balancing between taking control of the monkey and minimizing aggression from the others, waiting for my inevitable passing into oblivion. I have no choice in the matter. In the interim, I am thankful to live its life.

Humane non-lethal military weapons for crowd dispersion and its effects on social activism

Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: Alternate Universe comparable to 22nd century Known-Earth if the imperialist-globalization-stage of 21st century capitalism is followed by Techno-Barbarism.

Newer and more humane non-lethal military weapons for crowd dispersion were quite discouraging for what was left of social activism. They couldn’t even rally support through unjustified state brutality against activists. When police officers understood a crowd needed dispersing, they would simply shoot cannons of a bubbly pink foam that gently carried away protesters while tickling them lightly. 

Depression in self-aware poodles

Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: Alternate Universe comparable to 22nd century Known-Earth if the imperialist-globalization-stage of 21st century capitalism is followed by Techno-Barbarism.

Perhaps one of the most interesting consumption trends among robot-owner families is the self-aware poodle. Marketeers realized pet-owners enjoyed observing or imagining human-like behavior in their pets. Breeding and genetic engineering eventually led to a breed of poodles so human-like in their behavior, they also obtained self-awareness and human-like cognition. Upon understanding their inevitable deaths in no more than 20 years, and their superfluous role in society, this particular dog breed became prone to depression, suicidal thoughts, social activism, and guerrilla warfare. Pet-owners are advised to speak to their veterinarian if symptoms persist.

Yoga is what keeps me from blowing parliament

The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: a dystopian and post-apocalyptic near-future history version of the United Kingdom.

Codename V was at one point an inmate at one of many concentration camps where political prisoners, homosexuals, black people, Jews and Muslims were exterminated by a fascist dictatorship that rules Britain.

Over time, the man is allowed to grow flowers and raise crops for camp officials. The man eventually starts taking surplus ammonia-based fertilizer back to his cell. He then takes a large amount of grease solvent from the gardens. In secret, the man uses the fertilizer and solvent to make mustard gas and napalm. On a stormy night he detonates his homemade bomb and escapes his cell. Much of the camp is set ablaze, and many of the guards are killed by the mustard gas. The camp is evacuated and closed down. He adopts the new identity, “V”, and dons a Guy Fawkes mask and costume.

V walks and wandered until setting up his lair in abandoned Victoria Station in London. Near his home, he stumbles upon a Yoga Studio and spends the next five years training in various schools of Yoga practice. Every time Codename V fantasized about blowing up parliament, a session of Hatha Flow or Yin Yoga would do the trick.

Buy car cleaning products

The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: undisclosed

Personal log:

It’s been almost 30 years since I stumbled upon this world and I still find so many cultural aspects fascinating. Their individualized-transportation units blunt force their way through the air when operated. This makes a vortex of disturbed air in its wake. That air is swirling with fine particles of matter that come from the local environment. These particles become a thin but visible layer on the I-T units. What’s fascinating is that the individuals find this layer visually displeasing. They engage in trade, reducing their stock of resources, to remove this layer in various ways, in a moment in time significantly before its buildup would actually require removal. If individuals were to correct this inefficiency from a resource-optimization viewpoint, they would be regarded negatively by peers. Particularly, they would be identified as individuals who fail to meet the social desideratum of salubrious.

Why you should listen to your parents and should not get a tattoo until you’re 25 years old: Bounded rationality in the context of young adults

The current state of knowledge in the natural sciences argues the human brain does not completely develop until approximately 25 years of age. In particular, young adults have relatively more difficulty estimating the potential negative consequences of their actions due their incomplete brain development. In Economics, the argument would be simply that rationality is bounded at varying degrees throughout the individual’s life.

Thus, if a rational individual with less than 25 years is made aware of this information, the rational choice would be to give more weight to advice from adults over 25, such as parents or older siblings. This has profound policy implications for adolescents and young adults who do not want to listen to their parents.

Contradictions in time-travel and welfare optimization in sequential time periods

Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:
Setting: unknown

The individual had the task of logging in extensive detail every decision taken that was later regretted to the degree that the individual considers it justifies traveling back in time to correct it, despite the uncertainty of how it will affect the chain of events. The log was kept throughout the individual’s life.

When the individual’s life was close to culmination, a time-machine was provided. The individual reasoned the essence of any individual was the result of the ongoing timeline’s chain of events. Changing the chain of events through time-travel would in essence annihilate the individual, and would be akin to suicide. The individual did not use the time-machine and died after successfully maximizing sum-of-life-utility.

Ameliorating alienation-driven slowdown in laborers with cosmic-high-inducing beverages

Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:

Setting: Alternate Universe comparable to 22nd century Known-Earth if the imperialist-globalization-stage of 21st century capitalism is followed by Techno-Barbarism.

While accelerating automation substantially decreased capitalist’s labor demand, there were still some areas where human skills were hard to replace. The concerned individual worked in a software firm where tasks involved assisting image-analyzing AI programs. Despite advances in effectivity and efficiency, there were still sufficient social nuances that made human labor necessary in image-analysis.

The tasks were repetitive and gruesomely monotonous. The individual’s work was interrupted by a pop-up window. With little subtlety, it chimed the individual’s productivity was down 15% compared to overall personal average in the individual’s employment history. It promptly directed the individual to a mandatory questionnaire. Upon completion, a new window summarized the results: “It seems you are a feeling depressed. Feel free to use this company credit valid for any Mood Bump Drink at the Employee Vending Kiosk.”

To contextualize Mood Bump Drinks, it is worth recalling the brain’s parietal lobe aggregates data from different senses, particularly spatial sense and navigation. As early as the 1950s, neuroscientists discovered that stimulating the brain’s right temporal lobe (just above the ear) with a mild electric current, produced out-of-body experiences, heavenly music, vivid hallucinations, and the “life-flashed-before-my-eyes” kind of memories.

During the late 20th century, scientists concluded shutting down the information processing capabilities of the right parietal lobe disables the ability to draw a line and mark where the self ends and where the rest of the world begins. This tricks the brain into concluding that one is “one with everything.” This sensation is occasionally referred to as “cosmic unity,” and it is among the most celebrated of all mystical experiences in most cultures.

Some may achieve the sensation of cosmic unity through intense prayer or meditation, along with its wide-ranging therapeutic effects. However, once it was clear this sensation could be artificially produced in any average individual by utilizing external assistance, it was swiftly synthesized to beverage-form and commodified by the process of capital accumulation during the early 22nd century.

The latest product in this process is Mood Bump. The company argues one serving of this beverage will make an individual feel at one with the universe, resulting in uplifting and euphoric thoughts and emotions for at least one (1) hour after consumption.

The individual drank the free mood bumping beverage. Tolerance had developed. The drinks no longer provided the individual with the expected uplifting behavior. Nevertheless, the drink numbed the alienation enough to maintain the individual functioning within expected social parameters. The individual returned to work.

One of the many contradictions of Techno-Barbarist Late Capitalism is that the system is able to mass produce the therapeutic sensation of cosmic unity, while humanity is suffering unprecedented levels of disastrously poor mental health, with increasingly worrisome social ramifications.

A Note on the inevitability of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism

It is reasonable to assume our stock of knowledge is in constant growth, although at fluctuating rates. The rate of growth of our stock of knowledge is dialectically entangled with our social relations of production. However, if the social relations of production were to become critical fetters on the growth of our stock of knowledge, social transformation would be inevitable. Recall we have assumed the growth of knowledge is constant. This further supports the hypothesis that Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism is inevitable.

A similar but distinct argument that arrives at the same conclusion can be succinctly summarized as follows: Exponential technological innovation implies we will eventually reach a point where there is no longer any doubt that the conditions for postscarcity have been obtained while scarcity persists for so many. Inevitably, Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism will arrive

It should be noted there is nothing new in this trivial note, for it was perhaps already explained much more eloquently by Marx.

A Note on the dialectics of the supernatural

A given century’s technology would most likely seem like supernatural or magical powers to previous centuries. This idea has been utilized by film and literature frequently. Thus, constant and exponential technological change implies what we would consider supernatural or magic today, may simply be tomorrow’s engineering. This would suggest supernatural beliefs and scientific knowledge are profoundly entangled processes, with time periods shifting the features of the entanglement. Even though supernatural phenomena are ultimately fiction, ‘magic’ in a sense exists due to our relatively scarce stock of knowledge during humanity’s recent stages of development.

False Villainization of victims in Science Fiction: The Case of Darth Vader

While generally regarded as Star Wars’ villain, this succint paper will show Darth Vader was the victim in the first two Star Wars trilogies.
Star Wars is set in a universe where certain beings have developed the ability to influence matter and space-time in many ways. These beings are known in Star Wars canon as “force-sensitive individuals .

In canon, the ability to influence matter and space-time is correlated to the stock of a particular microorganism (midichlorians) in the individual.

There are various examples across films that suggest the Jedi were clearly defined as a religion in their society. In other words, this suggests a group of these force-sensitive individuals interpreted midichlorian-dynamics in a religious manner. It should be noted that the infallibility of the totality of the Jedi’s teachings has not been established in canon.

The Jedi’s religion argued force-sensitive individuals should practice non-attachment, where we overcome our attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world. This arguably benign principle is clearly practiced in an extremist fanatical manner by the Jedi, as shown through the tragedy of Anakin’s mother and the lovestory of Anakin and Padme.

In other words, the Jedi tried to indoctrinate Anakin in their extremist ways since he was very young. Thus, Anakin was unable to use his abilities to help his suffering and enslaved mother, or even love romantically.
Anakin, as would be expected, felt worry and solidarity towards his mother, but was forced to repress these feelings and thoughts by the Jedi’s dogma. Anakin was similarly forced to repress himself when he fell in love with Padme.

It follows that Palpatine took advantage of the obvious mental health crisis the Jedi were inflicting upon young Anakin for his own political gain. The result was a deepening of Anakin’s mental health crisis and developing psychiatric disorders.
Due to Anakin’s state of mental health from Episodes II to VII, he is mentally unfit to be held accountable for his actions. However, the extremist Jedi cult, along with Palpatine, should be held accountable for the mental damage they inflicted directly on Anakin and on thousands of others indirectly, as they became victims of Anakin’s actions.

Despite his actions, by executing Palpatine, Anakin directly contributed to the galaxy’s welfare, possibly much more than any other character.
In sum, Darth Vader is undoubtedly a victim in the Star Wars universe, while the Jedi actually meet villain criteria.

A Star Trek Political Compass: On some similarities and differences between the Borg and the Federation

When the Borg were introduced in Star Trek: TNG, there was a clear contrast between their collective being (which seemed to represent Soviet communism) and the Federation’s defense of individual freedom (which seemed to represent American values). The first series of Borg episodes coincided with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, so it’s unclear if writers still felt the need to incorporate anti-communist material. Nevertheless, the episodes had a distinct anti-communist tone.

Trekonomics by Manu Saadia raises the point that there are profound economic similarities between these two civilizations. Both, the Borg and the Federation, have had sufficient technological development to become a post-scarcity economy, where no currency or market mechanisms are utilized to allocate goods or resources. Demand and supply are collectively determined through communication— be it through subspace communications between Federation ships, planets, and starbases, or through the Borg’s cybernetic collective consciousness. The difference lies in its politics and in the motivation driving the individual. In the Borg case, the individual disappears. There is no choice in their drone-level existence. The Borg drone by definition must do as the collective requires. It is absolute authority, for the drone cannot even conceive refusing an order. In the Federation, a high sense of moral obligation (akin to Che Guevara’s new man and woman) drives individuals to choose to do what the collective requires. In the Star Trek universe, the fact it is high moral standards what drives individuals to do what is best for society is not conceived within an idealist perspective. As Saadia, notes:

Star Trek believes that material conditions are the primary determinant in people’s actions. In the Federation’s cornucopia, individuals’ needs, desires, emotions, and activities are significantly transformed and reoriented toward noneconomic goals. This is what makes the inhabitants of the Federation so bizarre and impenetrable and sometimes even boring. They do not seem to care at all about the same stuff as us, mostly because they do not have to. And that is why they are truly from the future (emphasis added).

Thus, we can synthesize some of Star Trek’s contending economic systems in the following political compass chart. As other researchers have noted, this cartesian political map is undoubtedly an oversimplification. Notwithstanding, the framework is useful for critical analyses of the Star Trek universe, as well as research on alternative economic systems for the future.

Comments on the 20th Century ‘Multiple Discovery’ of ‘Star Trek’ by Rodenberry and Soviet writers: Implications for Full Space Communism and Techno-barbarism

Audiences have been introduced to works of science fiction that take place in a future where hunger, disease, crime, poverty, and states have disappeared on Earth, while humans explore the galaxy and routinely encounter alien species. These fictional future humans have very high ethical standards, and try with all their might to not intervene with other civilizations in ways that are disruptive to their own development.

Perhaps the most well-known is Star Trek, which first aired in 1966. Curiously, a similar work was published in 1962 as a Soviet novel titled Noon: 22nd Century, written by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

Trekonomics author Manu Saadia explains one can find a first sketch of most of Star Trek’s themes not only in Noon: 22nd Century but also in the Strugatskys’ subsequent books as well. It is unlikely Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had heard about them. They were not translated until several years after the finale of Star Trek The Original Series. Saadia notes: “In a way it is even more intriguing to think that Roddenberry could create the Star Trek universe, along very similar lines, without even knowing of his Russian counterparts’ existence. Same broad conclusions, from the opposite side of the Iron Curtain.”

Both space utopias had similar economic processes behind them. Humans have overcome scarcity and no longer have to worry about providing for themselves. Our needs and desires are all taken care of by technology. Most notably, this future economy does not require currency or market mechanisms to produce and exchange goods. Monitoring and communication through a process of continuous feedback direct the flow of supply and demand harmoniously. This is similar to what economist David Laibman calls an economic system of multilevel iterative planning. This paper argues this is also an example of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.

After further analysis, it is not surprising that Roddenberry and the brothers Strugatsky simultaneously came up with such a similar vision of future Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. “Multiple Discovery” or “Simultaneous Discovery” is a common and vastly documented phenomena. Famous examples include the simultaneous development of calculus by Newton and Leibniz, and the simultaneous invention of the telephone by Meucci and Graham Bell. The list of strangers independently and almost simultaneously developing grand ideas or inventions is quite extensive.

While many conceive history as a succession of geniuses with world-changing contributions, history may be more aptly described as a succession of Multiple Discoveries or Simultaneous Invention. Most discoveries or inventions are simply the product of piecing together previous discoveries and inventions. If the necessary pieces of the puzzle aren’t there yet, the discovery cannot take place. As soon as all the pieces are available, the global race is on to see who are the first to piece them together. In many occasions it is actually much more than two people. The First Law of Thermodynamics was roughly developed by five different people during the late 1800s.

 

The idea that something cannot take place until the necessary material conditions are present resonates with Marxist theory. Thus, the simultaneous conceptualization of a high-tech interstellar post-capitalist utopia is understandable. By the 1960s, technological development was advancing at unprecedented speed, and many were convinced the crisis-generating and dehumanizing contradictions of the capitalist mode of production were intrinsic features of capitalism. In contrast, many science fiction writers envisioned technological development would lead us to a robot-ruled apocalyptic future.

Labor-saving technological development can lead to profoundly different outcomes depending on how the benefits of these developments are distributed. If only robot-owners or anti-human sentient robots benefit from this technological development, we may encounter a new form of barbarism. If this technology is utilized in a communitarian fashion, we may encounter a Trek-like space utopia. Science fiction’s technological paradox resonates with the crossroads Rosa Luxemburg warned we have encountered. To paraphrase, either we transition to Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism or we regress into [techno]barbarism.

Karl Marx’s Boils: A biographical note on praxis while covered in smelly pus-filled lumps

This blog’s first domain (marxsboils.wordpress.com) was a tribute to the pus-filled lumps historically misidentified as boils in the body of Karl Marx.

Most of Marx’s biographies mention he suffered from bouts of painful and incapacitating boils that frequently halted his work and made his life a living hell. However, dermatologist Sam Shuster published an article in the British Journal of Dermatology that concludes Marx’s famous boils were in fact Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).

Combing through Marx’s correspondence, Shuster noticed the frequency and location of the lumps were not consistent with boils, but with this rare disease. According to MayoClinic, HS is a long-term skin condition that features small, painful lumps under the skin. They typically develop where the skin rubs together, such as the armpits, the groin, between the buttocks and under the breasts. The lumps may break open and smell or cause tunnels under the skin. HS develops when hair follicles become blocked and inflamed, and no one knows exactly why this occurs. It is not caused by an infection, it is not contagious, and it is not due to poor hygiene. It should be noted that it follows that Shuster’s findings cannot be utilized to argue Marx had poor hygiene.

MayoClinic adds that the location, drainage and odor of the sores can cause embarrassment and reluctance to go out in public, leading to sadness or depression. While there is no cure, treatments were developed during the 20th century to help control pain, promote wound healing, keep new lumps from forming and prevent complications. These did not exist during Marx’s lifetime, so his life was quite painfu, marked by wounds that never healed, and new lumps consistently forming.

Many researchers who have dived into Marx’s biographies have noted that he was quite evidently an asshole. He may be summarized as a rude and condescending man.

Reading more about his condition may foster more understanding towards his foul personality. Also, the fact that he made such profound contributions in theory and practice while being covered in painful, stinky, pus-filled lumps is an undoubtedly impressive feat. Furthermore, it suggests Marx’s contributions would have been even grander if he had lived without the painful, stinky, pus-filled lumps.