Hate on a Plane

Here’s an article about the rise in hate crimes on airplanes, and I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be getting mad at the racists or the airlines. Now that we’re down to 31 inches of leg room, it’s all but impossible to physically assault the person next to me when getting out of my seat.

Last year there were 350 reported cases of “inappropriate touching”. No surprise there. Ever see two passengers try to move past each other in the aisle? It’s like a Nelly rap video, except gross.

Last year I was on a United flight, and two flight attendants were discussing their new policy for booting uncooperative passengers in the wake of the David Dao incident. Instead of dragging a middle-aged doctor out of his seat and knocking his teeth out, flight attendants were to announce that *all* passengers need to deplane. That way, customers can direct their rage at each other, rather than at the airline for their shitty policy.

It occurs to me that Western Democracy works much the same way: Keep the citizenry permanently divided and popular dissatisfaction safely channeled into meaningless dead-ends. And that’s why this headline specifically calls out “racist passengers” rather than, you know, rude and grumpy passengers who just spent 12 hours packed into a cattle slot.

My Favorite Twitter People

I’ve gotten lazy in my old age, and find that Twitter is a good way to let others do my thinking for me. Those who think particularly profound thoughts get hearts as endorsements. Out of curiosity, I wrote a script that tallied my tweet “likes” and ranked the recipients.

In order of likes-received, here are my 10 favorite Twitter people from the past year:

  1. @NickSzabo4
  2. @pierre_rochard
  3. @DontPanicBurns
  4. @saifedean
  5. @bitstein
  6. @nic__carter
  7. @interfluidity
  8. @Ragnarly
  9. @sonyaellenmann
  10. @WahWhoWah

Looks like my favorite tweets are 90% crypto-anarchist, 10% neoliberal. But who cares about me, let’s look at who Silicon Valley thought leaders are favoriting!

Elon Musk is always entertaining. He gets a lot of grief for the time he spends on Twitter, but it looks like his Twitter activity is largely related to work. @elonmusk‘s most ❤️ed accounts:

  1. @Tesla
  2. @SpaceX
  3. @TheOnion
  4. @ElectrekCo
  5. @cleantechnica
  6. @fermatslibrary
  7. @Teslarati
  8. @mayemusk
  9. @InsideEVs
  10. @kimbal

Here’s Twitter founder @jack’s top ten likes:

  1. @kanyewest
  2. @sza
  3. @elonmusk
  4. @leslieberland
  5. @freialobo
  6. @sriramk
  7. @Larakate
  8. @marciadorsey
  9. @chancetherapper
  10. @michaelmontano

@pmarca used to be one of my favorite twitter personalities, until the PC police drove him off the platform. These days he still interacts using ❤️s. Marc Andreessen’s top ten:

  1. @ComfortablySmug
  2. @BaldingsWorld
  3. @jessesingal
  4. @clairlemon
  5. @ProperOpinion
  6. @St_Rev
  7. @rivatez
  8. @webdevMason
  9. @ne0liberal
  10. @iowahawkblog

The investigative journalists at The Outline already jumped on this case and identified Andreessen as a closet neo-Nazi.

Why do we even use this feature? ❤️s are a good source of data for targeted ads, or for Twitter to rearrange your timeline in a way that confirms existing bias. There’s zero benefit conferred to the user, but we keep clicking it anyway. Maybe the Like button is just a digital version of the close-door button in an elevator: A meaningless form element that provides symmetry in the user interface and helps us feel like we’re doing something productive, while we slowly relinquish control to the machines, one button-press at a time.

Don’t Hate Her Because She Commissioned Opposition Research on George Soros

Why is everyone hating on Sheryl Sandberg all of a sudden? I get that Facebook is evil and enables #FakeNews and allowed Putin to subvert American Democracy – but why is Sheryl Sandberg catching the flak? She was always an Unassailable Good, a champion for social justice! This is the Patron Saint of Feminism we’re talking about!

It’s clear that the tide has turned: Sheryl’s stock photos used to be consistently fabulous; now all the header images are beady-eyed and bitchfaced.

Sandberg inquiring about George Soros is a nonstory. Execs want to know whether outspoken billionaires have a financial interest in their demise. This is the guy who broke the British pound, after all. NYTimes editors aren’t complete idiots – I mean, they are, but even they should know that this is a complete nothingburger.

The real story is why the media is so intent on blowing this up. And why now?

Facebook has MSM on a tight leash. Facebook is a gatekeeper; it’s where people go to get the news. They (along with Google) control the flow of ad dollars. There’s been speculation that Facebook’s PR team leans on the NY Times to send any unfavorable Sandberg coverage down the memory hole.

Conspiracy Theory #1: Sheryl Sandberg lost her position of influence within Facebook.

It’s like the Harvey Weinstein story. Journalists overlooked Weinstein’s hiring practices for thirty years because he owned important media properties and controlled a lot of ad dollars. But when social media destroyed the news industry, Weinstein’s influence waned and muckrakers had a field day.

Conspiracy Theory #2: The Sheryl Sandberg/Soros story is a smokescreen for something else.

The events in question took place over a year ago. Why did the story not go to press until the day after Amazon announced their HQ2 locations?

I don’t know. But when a billionaire with outsized media influence and a world-class PR team gets a pile-on, something’s up.

A flashback to better days:

A Bitcoin is Forever

I’m in the market for an exterior door. Wood warps over time, stuff happens, now that it’s cold and rainy I realize I need a new front door.

The doors at Home Depot come with a lifetime warranty. What does that even mean? The median duration of homeownership is only 8.7 years, and by the time the new door needs replacing, its history will be long forgotten. The warranty is a marketing gimmick — A door is not a store of value.

Craftsman tools come with an unlimited lifetime warranty. Sears stood by this warranty for 90 years, but now Sears is dead. I still have several socket sets that belonged to my father. You never actually own a Craftsman, you merely look after it for the next generation.

Someday son, this will all be yours.
I get to have a boat?
No, I’m talking about my watch.
I’d rather have the boat.
Bad choice. If it flies, floats, or fornicates, it’s cheaper to rent.
Mom says you’re three months behind on child support payments.

Just kidding, that’s a Patek Philippe ad slogan. The ad campaign does not reflect the durability of the product: Unlike a chrome-plated crescent wrench, precision timekeeping devices do wear out over time. Worse yet, Patek Philippe offers only a two-year warranty, and it’s not transferable to the next owner!

Patek Philippe does get one thing right: When something is both expensive and utterly useless, advertise it as means of wealth transfer! This helps consumers ignore the terrible resale value.

Diamonds are forever. That six-figure wristwatch is your son’s inheritance.

Which brings me to Bitcoin. Bear market got you down? Don’t worry about it. You never actually own a Bitcoin, you merely look after it for the next generation.

Saudi Money (part 2)

The previous post was getting long-winded, but I wanted to add one more quote from the Network movie.

After news anchor Howard Beale goes on air to rail against his TV station selling out to Saudi investors, the chairman of the board sits him down for a chat.


    CHAIRMAN ARTHUR JENSEN: The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity, it is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs! There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars!, Reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and shekels! It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today!
    ...
    You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen, and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state -- Karl Marx? They pull out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories and minimax solutions and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business.

The world is flat. Long live the corporatocracy!