Category Archives: Society

Vitalik’s Wrong, Cryptocurrency’s Real Problem, by Allan Stevo

Before there is mass public acceptance of cryptocurrencies, somebody is going to have to figure out something that will make cryptocurrencies useful to the masses. From Allan Stevo at lewrockwell.com:

Vitalik Buterin, a powerhouse in crypto, the mastermind behind the Ethereum network, effectively denounced those obsessed with the price of crypto and its possibility for breeding derivative financial instruments, tweeting recently “I think there’s too much emphasis on BTC/ETH/whatever ETFs, and not enough emphasis on making it easier for people to buy $5 to $100 in cryptocurrency via cards at corner stores. The former is better for pumping price, but the latter is much better for actual adoption.”

But this too misses the point.

Crypto provides no value to the average Westerner. Making crypto more accessible is not enough.

There’s no reason for the average Westerner – my aunt and uncle for example – to care, because crypto brings no additional functionality to their lives. They ask me about it practically every time we talk. When they ask me what to do with it, despite my five years of involvement in the industry, I have no answer.

All crypto, Bitcoin included, is a speculative play at this stage. Like any early stage technology, we have yet to figure out many uses in which Bitcoin beats the legacy competition in functionality.

As an example, for payments, credit cards are better than crypto. So is PayPal. Cash is better too, if only for the network effects, but in reality for far more. That’s why more people use those methods for payments than Bitcoin.

Cheering on or otherwise attempting to rush the price movements of Bitcoin is futile. Praying for its movements is futile. Pitching its potential with slick marketing is more than futile, such marketing is in fact most likely counterproductive as it will leave early adopters disillusioned.

A curse of Bitcoin is that it is a currency and it is unable to be far removed in people’s minds from its very volatile price. Of course, the beauty of Bitcoin as well is that it is a currency. Through it and similar technologies, we will come to know the folly of applying natural monopoly theory to currency.

To continue reading: Vitalik’s Wrong, Cryptocurrency’s Real Problem

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Doug Casey on Virtual Girlfriends

There’s nothing like true love with a humanoid. Sex and you don’t need to lie the next morning. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Justin: Doug, I recently read an article about a U.S. company that’s offering a digital “girlfriend experience.”

3D Hologroup has created an app that allows you to download virtual girlfriends. And you can interact with these girls if you own an augmented reality device.

So, I visited the company’s website. I discovered that you can choose which model of girl you’d like, just like you would a pair of shoes.

It reminded me of the hologram girlfriend that Ryan Gosling’s character had in Blade Runner 2049, which came out last year.

What do you make of this? Are you surprised that you can now buy a digital girlfriend with just a few clicks of a mouse?

Doug: It’s a vision of things to come. I don’t think most people know that this is happening. But it’s an inevitable implication of Moore’s Law, the observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore that computer power would double about every two years. But it’s not just computers; technology is advancing at that rate in a number of areas. Augmented reality is just one example. Artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech are also advancing extremely rapidly.

It seems to me that we’re likely to see the Singularity within the next generation, just as Ray Kurzweil predicted. Among many other strange things, we’ll have humanoids and androids that will be increasingly hard to distinguish from actual people.

You’ll also be able to have your own Mr. (or Miss) Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Albeit a relatively low-functioning version. This will have immense societal implications on how society will function, and how people relate to each other.

Of course, that’s 20 or 25 years from now, and there will be many steps along the way. But one thing you won’t have to wait long for is artificial reality suits. You’ll be able to step into one and experience an alternate reality: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and even taste I suppose. It will be vastly more involving than watching a movie…

To continue reading: Doug Casey on Virtual Girlfriends

Here’s What We’ve Lost in the Past Decade, by Charles Hugh Smith

There’s no arguing with Charles Hugh Smith on his list; life in the US has gotten much uglier the last ten years. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

The confidence and hubris of those directing the rest of us to race off the cliff while they watch from a safe distance is off the charts.
The past decade of “recovery” and “growth” has actually been a decade of catastrophic losses for our society and nation. Here’s a short list of what we’ve lost:
1. Functioning markets. Free markets discover price and assess risk. What passes for markets now are little more than signaling devices to convince us the economy is doing spectacularly well. It is doing spectacularly well, but only for the top .1% of 1% and the class of managerial/technocrat flunkies and apologists who serve the interests of the top .1%.
2. Genuine Virtue. Parading around a slogan or online accusation, “liking” others in whatever echo-chamber tribe the virtue-signaler is seeking validation in, and other cost-free gestures–now signals virtue. Genuine virtue–sacrificing the support of one’s tribe for principles that require skin in the game–has disappeared from the public sphere and the culture.
3. Civility. As Scientific American reported in its February issue (The Tribalism of Truth), the incentive structure of largely digital “tribes” rewards the most virulent, the most outrageous, the least reasonable and the most vindictive of the tribe with “likes” while offering little to no encouragement of restraint, caution, learning rather than shouting, etc.
The cost of gaining tribal encouragement is essentially zero, while the risk of ostracism from the tribe is high. In a society with so few positive social structures, the self-referentially toxic digital tribe may be the primary social structure for atomized “consumers” in a dysfunctional system dominated by a rigged “market” and a central state that no longer needs the consent of the governed.
Common ground, civility, the willingness to listen and learn–all lost.
4. Trust. Few find reason to trust corporations, the corporate media, the tech monopolies or the government. This distrust is reasonable, given these institutions have squandered the public trust to protect the swag being skimmed by insiders and elites.
Rather than earn our trust with true transparency and accurate reporting of data, these institutions spew a false form of transparency that’s doubly opaque, as it’s rigged to mask the skims of the insiders. Transparency: lost. Accountability: lost.
Do you really trust Facebook, Google, and the agencies that are supposed to provide oversight of these monopolies? If you said, “yes,” you’re joking, right?

Is the End of Facebook Nigh? by Tom Luongo

If Facebook contacts are a big part of your life, condolences are in order. Are people figuring out that social media is not particularly social, especially compared to what used to be called socializing pre-social media? From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Last fall I warned you Facebook has a fundamental problem.

More and more people were realizing it and it would have an effect on the company’s business going forward.

Here’s the jist of it:

…the biggest problem with Facebook is it’s all fake intimacy; a pale simulacra of real life interactions with people you are supposed to care about.

But, I don’t care about 99% of the people I went to high school with.  I went to college 1100 miles from those people and barely looked back.  The people I truly value from that part of my life mostly feel about Facebook the way I do.

That’s what makes them people I value.

They value the value of their closely-held opinions and don’t dilute it by publicly sharing their banality.  They realize that being friends is more than dropping political stink bombs in someone’s digital living room and saying, “I dare you to not breathe.”

So, here you are on a platform that is supposed to be all about you and the last thing anyone really wants to be on Facebook is … themselves.

In the November 2017 issue of the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter I led off that issue with this criticism of Facebook as a reason the company would soon hit the proverbial customer wall:

Facebook was built on the false premise that we want to be in contact with all of the people we ever met ALL THE TIME.  But no, we really don’t.  We all, as T.S. Eliot put it, “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

We are all different people depending on our venue.  Public social networks force us to adopt one persona or face the wrath of the self-righteous.

A billion plus people who are all wrong on the internet.  In real time.  Lovely!

Social media is taxing.  It’s fundamentally poor quality social interaction.  It’s either endless moral preening and virtue signaling or a time-wasting diversion.

That’s not to say I don’t love a good cat video, because I do.

To continue reading: Is the End of Facebook Nigh?

How to Destroy Society

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/07/23/how-to-destroy-society/

Who Stole Our Culture? by William S. Lind

Everything you ever wanted to know about cultural Marxism. From William S. Lind at lewrockwell.com:

Sometime during the last half-century, someone stole our culture. Just 50 years ago, in the 1950s, America was a great place. It was safe. It was decent. Children got good educations in the public schools. Even blue-collar fathers brought home middle-class incomes, so moms could stay home with the kids. Television shows reflected sound, traditional values.

Where did it all go? How did that America become the sleazy, decadent place we live in today – so different that those who grew up prior to the ’60s feel like it’s a foreign country? Did it just “happen”?

It didn’t just “happen.” In fact, a deliberate agenda was followed to steal our culture and leave a new and very different one in its place. The story of how and why is one of the most important parts of our nation’s history – and it is a story almost no one knows. The people behind it wanted it that way.

What happened, in short, is that America’s traditional culture, which had grown up over generations from our Western, Judeo-Christian roots, was swept aside by an ideology. We know that ideology best as “political correctness” or “multi-culturalism.” It really is cultural Marxism, Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms in an effort that goes back not to the 1960s, but to World War I. Incredible as it may seem, just as the old economic Marxism of the Soviet Union has faded away, a new cultural Marxism has become the ruling ideology of America’s elites. The No. 1 goal of that cultural Marxism, since its creation, has been the destruction of Western culture and the Christian religion.

To understand anything, we have to know its history. To understand who stole our culture, we need to take a look at the history of “political correctness.”

Early Marxist theory

Before World War I, Marxist theory said that if Europe ever erupted in war, the working classes in every European country would rise in revolt, overthrow their governments and create a new Communist Europe. But when war broke out in the summer of 1914, that didn’t happen. Instead, the workers in every European country lined up by the millions to fight their country’s enemies. Finally, in 1917, a Communist revolution did occur, in Russia. But attempts to spread that revolution to other countries failed because the workers did not support it.

To continue reading: Who Stole Our Culture?

Outsourcing Morality, by Robert Gore

Ron Brown and Bill Clinton

All the benefits of virtue without the costs.

Remember when you had to do something virtuous to signal your virtue? Some of the virtuous way back when did virtuous acts and didn’t even tell anyone else about them. If you go into older museums and other civic monuments and look at donors’ names on plaques, you’ll find anonymous donors. They didn’t get a wing named after them, there were no press releases, they just gave to a good cause and that was its own reward. If they were alive today, they wouldn’t have Twitter feeds. Private virtue and public anonymity—incomprehensible!

At least plutocrats who plaster their names where they donate are donating their own money. Perhaps the most odious form of virtue signaling demands everyone’s taxes fund a chosen cause, then claims the same moral stature as the plutocrats. Strictly speaking this can’t be virtue signaling. There’s no virtue, only coercion and theft. The merit, if any, of the cause never justifies the immoral means used to fund it.

Gresham’s law of virtue: phony virtue drives out the real thing. It’s partly mathematical—what the government steals cannot be donated—but it goes much deeper.

There’s an intergenerational understanding rooted in biology: parents take care of children when they’re young; children take of parents when they’re old. Rearing children and caring for aging parents impose inconvenient burdens, but for most of history people had little choice, the only alternative was neglect and abandonment. Enter the state. In most Western countries responsibility for both child rearing and elder care has in whole or in part shifted to it.

Any respectable list of progressive “demands” includes access to day care, either funded or provided by the government. In truly advanced welfare states, day care is already an “entitlement,” like unemployment support or medical care. It’s a comforting sophistry that turning children over to third party caregivers in their formative years doesn’t attenuate the bond between parents and children. Two or three hours a day—always labelled quality time—is not ten or twelve hours a day. Day care personnel attending a group of children cannot devote the time and attention to one child as that child’s stay-at-home parent could.

The flip side of taking care of the young is taking care of the old. Social Security and Medicare are pay-as-you-go transfer schemes masquerading as funded pensions and medical plans. They have, judging by so many aging baby boomers’ lack of assets, nominally relieved individuals of the responsibility to provide for their own golden years. It’s fair to assume that such provision also attenuates for many boomers’ children any obligation they may feel regarding their parents’ support. In fact, the obligation often seems to run the other way, children demanding their boomer parents support them well into adulthood.

People outsource responsibility. but they want to feel virtuous. One way to do so is become an advocate. You may be dropping your own children off at day care, but you can advocate for children’s causes; children at the border is currently fashionable. You personally don’t have to do anything or spend a penny, just advocate that the government do something. You’ll acquire—among the circles you care about—the moral sheen that in days gone by required that you actually do something and spend your own pennies.

That moral sheen is worth less than nothing. Government Programs That Made the Problem Worse is a multi-volume set, each volume over a thousand pages. That’s not a problem for their promoters, what counts is their self-credited good intentions. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then hell fire itself is stoked by self-credited good intentions. The cynics—right about politics more often than anyone else—suggest good intentions often cloak a ruthless drive for votes, payola, and power.

Political funerals are revolting spectacles, the guilty living paying tribute to the guilty dead. It’s a toss-up which is more revolting. The “Humanitarian” epitaph for those who spent other people’s money “helping” the downtrodden of various stripes. Or the “Patriot” epitaph for those who blessed waging war on people and countries that pose no threat to the US. Surely the gates of hell open wide for hybrid Humanitarian Patriots. The Lyndon Johnsons, Bills and Hillarys, and John McCains of the world are alway loathsome creatures who unsurprisingly treat real life humans like shit.

Taken to its logical extreme, a government so big and powerful that it’s responsible for everything leaves everyone else responsible for nothing. If you aren’t responsible for anything, you can’t be virtuous or evil…or human. You can, however, signal your faux virtue: the government actions you advocate; the politicians and media figures you admire; the bumper stickers or lapel pins you sport.

Government has subsumed individual choice, responsibility, and thought at a historical juncture that will require individuals to make choices, take responsibility, and think as they’ve never thought before. Based as they are on coercion and their unsustainable ability to extract resources from their subject populations through force and fraud, governments are dominoes, and they’ve already begun to fall. Only ideologically induced analytical myopia accounts for the failure to recognize the fall of the most statist institution ever erected—the government of the USSR—as the beginning of the end of current statist arrangements, including welfare statism (it’s giving humanity too much credit to believe such arrangements will ever be wholly eradicated).

The energy required to maintain statist control is rising exponentially as information technology and weaponry become ever-cheaper and more widely diffused. Governments have plunged into an abyss of debt and welfare state promises. Soon they’ll lack the resources to keep either themselves or their recipients alive. Those that “contribute” recognize governments as their enemy, and most acknowledge no duty to the recipients. They’re on strike in myriad ways and economic growth rates continue their inexorable descent. Soon those rates will be less than zero. They may already be there, a reality obscured by rising debt and phony government statistics and accounting.

The world was caught by surprise when the USSR fell. It will be caught by surprise when the welfare states go, but in neither case is the surprise justified. Stupid is as stupid does: actions have consequences. The writing is on the wall.

The consequences will be especially severe for those who have outsourced their morality, brains, and very souls to politics and the state. If separated babies or kneeling football players can trigger “vitriolic outrage,” then there is no single phrase that describes the anger, frustration, desperation, hate, violence, lunacy, and outright insanity that will reign when politics and states fail. The resulting entropic atomization will force the atomized to fall back on precisely what many don’t have: their own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual resources.

Within a society, no matter how insane, there are pockets of rationality, true virtue, and wisdom. The wise see what’s coming and have prepared accordingly, to the best of their abilities. The rest will navigate the chaos to the best of their abilities, not an optimistic prospect.

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