Archive for May, 2008

27
May
08

Transhumanism part 2

Alright, so I have been taking reservatol for a week now (read my last post for details). The effects have actually been pretty pronounced. I have stamina like I did a decade ago… lack of sleep doesn’t seem to be a big deal, drinking is something I recover from in minutes, I can stay up all night and then go to work the next day, no problems.

As I am doing this, there has been a study which has actually confirmed (scientifically) the effects of reservatol on human beings. Basically the study confirmed extended lifespan and improved mental faculties (especially memory).

Unfortunately I seem to be working on more testing of recovery time (a little bit more to drink with supper than I had intended), so I am going to sign off for now.

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21
May
08

Transhumanism

I’m trying an experiment right now. I started taking reservatol yesterday. For those who don’t know what it is, reservatol is a substance found on the skin of red grapes. It looks like it might be the key to transhumanism… or maybe not. It’s early to tell yet. What we do know, is that reservatol is the ingredient in red wine that makes it good for your heart, and that when you give mice a lot of it they actually get younger, healthier and smarter. In fact, they are kind of the ultimate expression of what a mouse could be… they live so much longer that none of the mice in the experiment have died yet (already they have more than doubled their life span) and none of them is even looking old. When you take a mouse off of reservatol it simply starts aging normally from the point it had achieved on reservatol, which is biologically younger than when it started (up to a point, basically it can only bring a mouse back to its biological peak). So far, there have been no negative effects.

I am not doing the kind of dosage that the mice are doing, so I don’t expect anywhere near as dramatic effects. If I could afford it, I would mega dose (I believe the equivalent amount would be around 1200 mg’s a day, I am doing more like 200) just to see the effect (several researchers are doing this right now with no reported ill effects).

I will continue to update the results of my little reservatol experiment here, and if I can afford it I will massively up the dose at some point in the future. Stay tuned (if you feel like it).

20
May
08

Mises

Mises is a brand more than anything, a brand spread through http://www.mises.org. Like all good brands, those that are familiar with Mises (or the austrian school of economics as it is sometimes known) have certain associations with the name… most of us just think they are wack jobs. Basically, Mises is the school of thought that if you just completely remove government intervention from society everything will be magically better. They like to say things like “Taxation is force”. They are, in a word, idiots.

The theory falls apart under even the most casual scrutiny. Even the Mises folks mostly agree that providing police and defense is the job of the government, but they don’t want to pay taxes. They also want to have private roads that you pay a toll to drive (or not, at the owners discretion), private fire services, private healthcare, private education, private everything. It has even taken me some effort to get a few of them to agree to publicly funded police forces. In short, they believe in the power of the “Invisible Hand” of market forces and when anyone refutes them they claim ideal conditions weren’t achieved (for instance: if you claim that privatization of power infrastructure didnt work, they claim it’s because the government was still invovled and if true de-regulation had happened it would have worked, and besides, that’s not the point… it’s my goddamned money and no good for nothing lazy immigrant welfare case is going to get any benefit from it).

They fail to realize that almost universally the privatization of large scale utilities has failed, no matter how you try to do it. The one example everyone on the right likes to trot out is water privatization, a dismal failure by any regards. Oddly enough, big utility projects tend not to turn a profit, and don’t have any chance of turning a profit for a very, very long time after the intial infrastructure investment. Of course, the mises people I have talked to have an answer for that, force the utilities who built the infrastructure to lease their infrastructure to other companies via regulation…

The closest to home example I have of this is power. When I was a child, winters in Nova Scotia were pretty harsh. Lots of storms and snow, very few power outages. The power lines were maintained stringently. Since then Nova Scotia Power was privatized. The first thing they did was to cut back on maintenance crews, since crews are an expense. Last year several thousand people were without power due to heavy fog. Heavy fog! This is Nova Scotia, where there is fog almost every morning. At the same time, Nova Scotia Power is losing money hand over fist. They just aren’t that efficient and costs are going up. Of course, there has been talk about opening up the market, but the problem is that you would have to use Nova Scotia Powers infrastructure, and they make more money without leasing it out, after all, right now they are using all of the capacity and making money off all of it. In a free market situation, NSP becomes a natural monopoly because no-one else can make money in the same arena. This applies to roads (to have an even moderately efficient roadway you need central planning, and that means that for it to scale you need to have the kind of money that only government has), air travel (I know, there is a myth that air travel is a success of privatization, but all airlines are subsidized and airports tend to be government projects), power, water, telephone (again, a hell of a lot of government money went into developing the infrastructure… and privatization has just been so good for all of us right?), police, military, firefighting, space travel, scientific research (name a single innovation that came out of private industry… not a drug that treats a symptom, a real innovation). Private industry has its place, but to think it is the ultimate example of human achievment is simply naive.

15
May
08

Identifying your tribe

Most marketing comes down to simple tribal identification. Once upon a time marketing was targeted at spreading knowledge of a products price & features. That time is pretty much dead. The public honestly doesn’t know enough about most of what they buy to decide which features are even desirable, let alone how much each one is worth (this is especially true for cars). Instead, advertisement is based on who you identify with. Are you like the folks in the Nike commercials? Maybe you identify with the asshole in the coat in the book of truck ads by Toyota (if so, we probably aren’t compatible human beings).

That same impulse explains the success of reality tv, sports (the original reality tv), patriotism and wars, so of course it works, it is the underpinning of the baser parts of human nature and it is the core of the marketing industry. You don’t even have to be like the group you identify with, you probably aren’t a peak athlete in the prime of human condition but that doesn’t mean you don’t aspire to be one. So you buy the gatorade (unless you actually do the research and realize that it isn’t in any way good for you), because it has electrolytes (their what plants crave).

Of course, the whole idea of appealing to peoples higher mind, the best of us, well that way lies low sales figures according to conventional wisdom (oh, and major losses in the west virginia democratic primary).

If you don’t believe that our worst is all we can achieve, then try to find out for yourself. Buy the shoes that do what you want (and according to the latest research, that means the least shoe you can get). Find out about car safety and then decide which one to buy based on logical criteria. Discover some basic facts about nutrition and buy food according to those facts (hint: everything you believe is probably wrong). If we all do that, eventually marketing will be forced to address information, not our baser instincts.

09
May
08

Why things are screwed and why marketing is dying.

How does wealth happen in a society? Really there are only two types of real wealth… raw materials and manufactured goods. Any other types of wealth are illusions. This is at the root of the current problems in the United States, they stopped having either one.

Basically it worked like this: a long time ago the United States was the new world, and was very rich in natural resources. A great deal of wealth was created because of this, and at the time natural resources were the only way to get wealth. After a bit (a paltry few hundred years) Henry Ford came up with a new way to handle manufacturing. All of a sudden manufacturing could scale. For quite a while that was working for the US. In fact, it worked so well that the US started importing most of the raw materials it uses. Production was scaled back, mining towns became ghost towns, and in the third world people got paid an incredibly small wage to risk their lives and compromise their future. In the meantime American companies sold manufactured goods to the countries that supplied the raw materials and made a profit on each transaction.

Until the eighties that kind of just ticked along fine. However, starting in the eighties and really into the nineties the whole idea of a knowledge economy and an attention economy started to take hold. “Why?” the heads of corporations started to ask themselves “are we paying big bucks to factory workers when we could just move the factory to the third world, pay them a tenth to a hundredth of the wage and get around all of those pesky human rights and environmental laws.”. So, they started to do just that, exporting manufacturing to other countries at a phenomenal rate secure in the knowledge that the value they added by having consumers who could buy stuff and smart people who could manage stuff would mean that the third world would still need America. Unfortunately, Americans aren’t really smarter than everyone else on the planet, they just used to have more money. Now that the money is starting to go away there really isn’t much incentive for the third world to prop up the people who once exploited them. America no longer harvests much in the way of natural resources (and third world countries are better set up to do so anyway, since the US neglected the infrastructure it needed in order to keep resource harvesting up), and it no longer makes much of anything… the savings have run out, and now it is simply borrowing money to keep afloat based on a reputation that is no longer valid.

The attention economy is the biggest farce of all. It assumes that your attention is worth money and then rewards you for it, not with cash in hand, but with knowledge (Google) and entertainment (television, the drug of the nation. Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation). The problem is that your attention is only worth anything if that attention can be converted into sales for the company getting the attention, and since the US is pretty much about to be broke, the attention economy is worth exactly nothing (or soon will be), at least within the United States. The irony is that the left (the real left, of the international variety, not the slightly watered down free market corporatists that the American political system calls the left) has been saying this will happen for years and been decried as traitors, communists, evil socialists.

Marketing is worthless if you are marketing to an audience that has no money to buy stuff with and that is where the US will be very soon.

Of course, sedition is Canadian so it might just get built anyway.