Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is advertising the solution to useless people?

When I say useless people, I do not mean those who are incapable of being productive, but are instead unnecessary.

Let's start with the idea that technology has made humanity more productive. We are so productive that we do not need to work an average of 40 hours a week. Much less would be sufficient for survival or even for a moderate standard of living. We could work 20 hour weeks instead. Or have 50% of the employable population not working and redistribute their wages and production to the unemployed 50%. The latter would clearly cause major social problems.

What about 20 hour weeks? Those would be less efficient. Why educate and train people just as much as currently when each works only half as much? It would be more efficient to go with 50% unemployed and not working.

Neither of these happen.

Instead we have persuasive advertising. This causes people to buy products which cause only marginal increases in happiness. In fact, studies have found that there are very rapid diminishing returns on happiness such that there comes a point when more work for more pay for more material goods results in lower happiness.

Someone makes these products: The excess 50%. That's right, 50% of people are actively employed doing little more than burning oil and making you less happy. BTW, you work more hours to buy their crap.

This leads to the inevitable happiness economics:
1) Work the same amount and get half hour effort taken away. Be angry about this.
2) Work the same amount and waste half your money. Be less happy due to the extra work.
Which of these is worse? And no, 3) kill 50% is not an option because that still leaves an excess 50%. Percentages don't play nicely with mass-murder.
There is always 4) Everyone works 40 hours and we burn off the excess by bombing each other.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Who are you?

Strange as it may sound, this name, Klepsacovic, is the one I identify with most. My first name in real life sounds strange to me. I suspect it's because I didn't choose it, it was given to me. It's a common, boring sort of name. I don't blame my parents for it; they picked a good Catholic name, and another for my middle name, and then I took a third at confirmation. But none of these are truly independent creations by me. This is a name I've used for years. At least eight years, probably closer to nine or ten.

In real life I am 22. I go to an engineering school though I major in psychology. I have red hair which I have grown very long and plan to donate. My friends are all nerds. Sometimes we play D&D together and talk about nerdy stuff. I grew up near Chicago, IL. So what?

Much of real life is given to us. A great deal of it is not earned or wanted. It's just there. Race, name, age, location of birth are all just there. These can constrain us, pushing us into identities which we don't much care for.

A friend of mine is a girl. She claims to be male. In other words, physical sex and identified gender do not match in her mind. Her solution is to become male. This strikes me as rather stupid. She a dozen other problems to worry about. In other words, if this was an experiment, there are a whole hell of a lot of confounding variables. Maybe identity isn't the problem and very likely a physical change isn't the solution.

But perhaps I am a hypocrite to say this. We all try to change ourselves, to remake ourselves into something we want to be. I've made an online self which doesn't quite match my real life self. There's a lot of overlap, but I suspect much of that is from my online self moving into real life. It's almost as if it were a testing ground for selves and if I find one I like, I implement it.

I believe it is different though. We will naturally be different online. It is a freer place. People are fluid and will match the container they are in. It shouldn't be surprising that people would make other selves. We do it in real life too, changing who we are to fit the circumstance.

All this changing, shifting, adapting, it brings back the question: who are you? Are you your physical self, your mental self in the physical self, or possibly are you most yourself when unbounded by reality? Or maybe that's just being delusional.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bush was the new Hitler

If you bring him up in an argument it means you lost. Obama has taken up the mantle now.

Or to generalize it, just because someone bad did something doesn't mean it is also bad. Bush did some good stuff. I can't think of much off the top of my head, but it's pretty dumb to pretend "Bush did it" is an accurate test for if something is a bad idea.

To take it even further, it's a bad idea to take some words or ideas to be innately bad. A few things are. I can't think of any good circumstances for torturing infants. But words get thrown around too much. People call Obama a socialist, as if that is a bad word, when it's not even a particularly descriptive word. Or people called Bush a fascist (other say the same about Obama, and pretty much every president ever). Was that an accurate label? Nope. But it's something that we take to be innately evil. We associate it with the Holocaust and mass murder. But is fascism innately evil? Did Italians in the 30s and 40s rally around evil? This isn't a fantasy universe where death cults have political parties.

Now Obama is the new Hitler. People are being Hitlerized constantly these days. It's a useful tactic for crushing someone, but for productive debate? It's useless.

Once Obama is Hitler you can't reason with him anymore; who would try to reason with Hitler? But he's still President. It's not as if he vanishes once he's had a mustache photoshopped onto his upper lip. The only result is the disabling of government and the inability to make any progress.

I wish we could have a time when bringing up Hitler wasn't an automatic loss. Imagine if we said things like "This seems like a good idea, but it does have some fascist tendencies, so we should be very cautious in how we apply it." That would be good. We should do that more often: look at worst case scenarios and take steps to avoid them. But this doesn't happen. Instead the slightest step in any unwanted direction is thrown to the extreme and debate is made impossible.

I tried to explain this to the LaRouchians last week. They didn't seem to understand. I explained that the mustache isn't easy to take off once its been put on. I don't think they cared.

The irony is that Hitlerizing wrecks democracy, it wrecks freedom of expression, it shoots down any dissenting opinion. Hitlerizing is something Hitler would do. Oh damn, I just did it too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Today I ran into some an Obama Hitler. This is my term for people who put Hitler mustaches on Obama pictures. To be fair, I really should have been talking about Bush Hitlers years ago as well, but hindsight does not allow us to travel through time.

My initial reaction to the Obama Hitler was racism. I yelled at the woman at the booth for misusing the image of a man who was trying to save her (and my) race. I said he was trying to save us from *points at Jewish friend* but she disgraces his memory by associating Hitler with him *points at friend of ambiguous race but clearly not Caucasian*. She said I wasn't be serious and had no interest in talking to me. In reality, I was being quite serious, I just had different methods. I intended to demonstrate the absurdity by acting a mirror for it. Sadly, it was only after the fact that I thought of calling her close-minded for not giving Hitler a chance.

My trolling complete, I moved on to logic, or at least tried given the circumstances. I attempted to figure out exactly what she was trying to say. I still am not quite sure. I did pick up a few things though.

She was pushing the beliefs of an American named LaRouche and kept calling him an economist. The last time I heard of him was in 2000 when a van of supporters drove around and indirectly called my aunt a whore.

The general idea was this: The British Empire is destroying America, put Hilter in power to destroy Germany, and also Obama. He is a Nazi who wants to kill humanity to save the environment. He wrote the healthcare 'reform' to kill old people. His Nazi friends write books about killing old people and will be on the death panel. Nazis either started or destroyed space exploration. We can only save the economy and develop fusion desalinization by going to Mars. From what I heard from other people, the British killed Lincoln so they could put Teddy Roosevelt in office as a Confederate spy. And Hitler Obama.

There were two groups on campus. The first group was rude and condescending, talking only when people agreed and ignored even suggestions. I tried to explain that their message appeared convoluted to people passing by; they said they didn't care about popular opinion. I tried to explain the problem with Hitler Obama; they said they don't care about advertising, they care about reality. One of them also said she doesn't care about truth.

The second group was much more polite. We talked for a while, getting nowhere. I was a skeptic, trying to figure out their positions and maybe get some sense from them. Though I did manage to get one to support rationing healthcare, right after I said Hitler rationed healthcare, but I don't think he noticed. Overall they were polite, but seemingly immune to facts and with strange logical skills (or lack thereof). At the end I thanked them for being able to talk with those with whom they disagree.

Also one claimed the the Kennedys only supported the space program because Eleanor Roosevelt called Robert Kennedy a Nazi. This was not an unusual statement for the group.

I got a bit off track I guess. I'll cover Hitlerizing some other day, which was my original intention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is advertising really free?

Why do companies pay for advertising? Assuming they are rational, it is because they think that they can generate enough profit to at least offset the cost of advertising. Where does this profit come from? Us of course. It comes from us buying more of their product.

This can be a good thing, a win-win situation. There may be a new product that we don't know about, but which we'd love to have. For example, I am glad to know of the existence of an upcoming Star Wars MMO. By advertising it to me, the company is increasing its profits and helping me to, eventually, find an awesome new game*.

On the other hand, it can be a win-lose. Or actually a win-win-lose. The first winner is the seller who gets more business. The second is the credit card company. The loser is the person who is caught up in a whirlwind of advertising, consumerism, and disregard for the idea that credit runs out eventually.

This actually works quite well for me. I get a lot of online content for free because of advertising. For me it is free since I either see something I want or it's some consumerist shit that I ignore. My free content is subsidized by those who are more apt to spend their money, and that of someone else as well. Oh sure, sometimes I don't like seeing ads, but that's what NoScript and ad blockers are for. It's great: I get free stuff without seeing many adds. Other people who I don't know wreck their lives. To top it off, their interest payments are what make it possible for credit card companies to offer things like airline miles or cash back.

So I suppose to answer the question: yes, no, no. For me it is free. For someone else it is not. For society overall, it is not. Or to be more accurate: no, no, no. I don't benefit much when people go on credit binges and support a wasteful economy, which then crashes when the card companies realize they can't milk much more and dump the person.

* This sounds like viral advertising, doesn't it? Oops. TBH, I couldn't think of many good examples. Maybe a surprise 8th Harry Potter? Or a remake of Episodes 1-3 that don't make me want to cry? I'm out of ideas.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Young Social Conservatives Ruin America

To start off, I must clarify and explain that young is relative. Go back 100 years and I'm not going to be talking about 18-25 year old people. I'll be more looking at 30-40 with 60+ being the old ones. It's only recently (as far as history goes) that us younguns became active voters and started smoking pot and dropping acid and yelling about peace while listening to what to sober ears is terrible music. Also I must confess that I don't use any drugs, I'm not a fan of yelling. Maybe this means I'm actually a young social conservative destroying America.

I must also emphasize the social part. Fiscal conservatives are badly needed at all age levels, since it seems that currently there are none.

As we all know, today's revolutionary is tomorrow's conservative. He's made the world into what he wants and now he wants to keep it that way. This applies to society as well. It creates a cycle of discontent and change, moderated by yesterday's revolutionaries, which has made the Western world way better than everywhere else.

Here's how it goes: Young person matures enough to start seeing that the world can be different than it current is and therefore it can be better. He then plays a part in changing society and law. Meanwhile people 40 years older yell at him and block everything he does. After 40 years they die and he takes their place. The result is gradual improvement of society.

Demographics are critical to this process. The old people cannot be reform-minded, or else society will move too fast and destabilize. Just as importantly, the young cannot be conservative or there will be no progress.

Fortunately the old are unlikely to be progressives. They know the world they're in, for the most part they have made it into what they want, and they're not eager to change everything and confuse themselves.

But the young, they can be conservatives. Sometimes they are. And when they are, the country goes to shit, both at the time and inevitably, 40 years down the line.

In light of this, I urge you to explain to any young conservatives you meet that they are unpatriotic and un-American and should feel bad.