BART, Americans, and Attitudes, vs The East

This is what the best BART station looks like.

Yesterday I had my only trip on American public transportation in recent memory and it was even more disappointing than I expected. I love trains, I love cities built around trains, I love being able to go places without having to lug around a huge metal box, but now that I’ve bothered paying attention to it, Bay Area Rapid Transit does not run a metro. It’s not a heavy rail system. It’s not even a light rail system. It will never be a heavy or a light rail system. Comparing my experience riding BART to the one riding Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway and it became instantly obvious that BART is just a glorified parking lot shuttle that just happens to run on the rubberless kind of wheels.

But this isn’t only the BART’s fault. Even if by some hand of god all the people in the administration on down were removed and replaced with perfect candidates to fill every conceivable need, including the contracted union construction workers who are the mafia in all but name and the Department of Transportation guys who are all bought out, BART would still be garbage – because it doesn’t go anywhere by itself. If your destination is Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco, fine. If you’re going anywhere else, you take BART, you get off at your final station and then what?

Walk the rest of the way?

BART… and I’m back in a parking lot.

“But the population density is too low! We’re not crowded like Hong Kong!” is the common response and until now I grudingly accepted it as the truth, the reason why everything is shitty. If only we had more people in the San Francisco Bay Area, if only more people wanted to come to Silicon Valley, home to the most valuable companies in the world, everything would be fixed!

Then I realized that it’s exactly backwards. Low density isn’t the reason for lack of results, low density is itself the intended result – among a bunch of other intended results. Sure, the people want a fast high quality public transportation system. They probably want it to be free too. But god have mercy if it comes at the cost of their backyard, or if it causes buildings with more than 3 stories to pop up anywhere before the horizon. If someone really wants something they know they can’t have everything and can usually come to some sort of compromise. But the public, uneducated on little and sold on everything, compromises for nothing. So, as a result, we pay a few billion dollars every few years to keep it afloat, and otherwise keep it out of sight out of mind, ignoring that the system was outdated when it was introduced almost half a century ago, and with all the money poured into it has essentially never updated since.

Everyone who’s gotten to highschool has this figured out, even if they only believe it’s true of people they disagree with. This is all fairly common knowledge:

The people will accept politicians being stupid and wasting billions of dollars on pork barrel projects, so long as the people get to sit comfortably in their sofas at home calling politicians stupid for wasting billions of dollars on pork barrel projects.

Now what’s not common knowledge is that it’s wrong – specifically, it’s not “the people”. It’s not a function of homo sapiens, it’s somewhat a function of masses and democracy, but there’s something more accurate we can say, that no one will ever say:

The American people will accept politicians being stupid and wasting billions of dollars on pork barrel projects, so long as the American people get to sit comfortably in their sofas at home calling politicians stupid for wasting billions of dollars on pork barrel projects.

BART sucks because Americans suck.

I don’t mean this in the ‘you allow people in power to screw you!!!’ sense; democracy is a sham, and it’s unreasonable to say that unorganized masses are “allowing” organized interests to do whatever they want. I mean this in the sense that the American pasttime of schadenfreude against their political leaders is an attitude they take everywhere. There are the big problems which, fairly, only a very select few with power can do anything about this moment. Then there’s ten thousand little ones which everyone can do something about. Things which add up and eventually make the world a better place.

Things which Americans won’t do, and will defend to the death not only are they right in not doing it, but that you’re wrong and weak in wanting it done to begin with. It’s not important if you’re actually wrong or weak. It’s not important if they’re wrong either.

What’s important is they get to call you the names, and being comfortable while doing it.


This is what one of my rides on BART looked like. I don’t have pictures of the other ride, but there were a bunch of really dirty people “teens” in really dirty clothes each taking up a whole bench, and empty boxes and bottles here and there.

I suddenly don’t like software engineers.

Two doors per side per car, seats are arranged front/back except for doors, which have one side-bench per. Not shown in picture is the map of the system, which is either once per side or once per car.

This is what an older MTR car looks like.

Some of them have TVs mounted on top of the central bars too. 2 per car.

4 doors per side, all seats are arranged as sides, no padding, bunch of things to hold onto.

All these differences aren’t so important. Lower density system, you can afford put in wider comfier seats. Comfy is good. Makes sense. What is important is that BART had a paper printout of the system occurring 1 or 2 times per car, while MTR had 8 of these:


Does Silicon Valley not have that because of lower population density too? We can’t scrounge up enough money because lower ridership, and who cares it’s just an unnecessarily fancy display that only has one purpose anyways?

How about the audio announcement then? I could never make out what the operator was saying on BART, partly because half the time riding BART is louder than flying turboprop, but also because the PA system was trash and the operator didn’t enunciate. MTR I could hear everything just fine, even if I had to wait for the English version of it. It was also all prerecorded. I guess the population density isn’t high enough to justify prerecording. It isn’t high enough to justify the operator saying the name of the station before the train arrives either. Or sometimes, saying the name of the station at all!

Man low population density causes a lot of problems.

This was at the Kam Sheung Road MTR station, effectively about as backwater as you can get in Hong Kong. It is on the inside door of the restroom. The restroom at the time had the janitor chilling in his utility closet; in Hong Kong public areas in general you can often see janitors and other custodials doing their work.

Oh, thanks for reminding me.

I’d show you a picture of what the inside door of a restroom in a BART station looks like, but there are no restrooms in BART. Apparently though the janitors which I’ve never seen and which think trash littered cars are fine are paid 270k a year (USD not HKD). Because they deserve a living wage. Or something. Overworked understaffed? Maybe throw a little bit of higher cost of living in there too.

Now, on the BART website, they claim certain stations actually do have bathrooms. Supposing they bathrooms do physically exist in the stations as they say, they don’t fit the definition of public. What kind of restroom is it if a member of the public who wants to use it can’t find it?

Someone who alighted at my station on a train before mine asked where the exit was. I can’t blame him, because this is what an aboveground BART deck looks like:

The far side actually does have its exit in-frame.

This is what the Tin Shui Wai deck looks like. I specify because they’re all obviously visibly different in some way. If you memorize the colors on the walls or pillars, you can tell where you are in the line. BART is the same concrete wherever you go.

There is no exit in this picture.

Both of the above depicted stations have their exits below their current floor. One of them is significantly easier to find than the other. Are exits easier to find if it’s higher population density? An inch of glass is more expensive than another foot (thick!) of concrete?  I’ll admit the sign isn’t particularly helpful but that’s one error out of a hundred corrections. Why are there two decks instead of one, anyways? If someone mistakenly missed their stop and got off at the next one, one of these stations would fuck them if the return train arrived at the same time, and the other wouldn’t.

Obviously, the American one is the better one.

Am I just salty? Y I Mad Doe? No, it’s impossible that I might be right on top of that. Everyone claims debates and discussions are about truth but most people jump to pointing and laughing at the other guy the first chance they get and declare victory after that. Sorry – most Americans. Call someone salty or anti-American or any number of names and it doesn’t matter what they say anymore. Am I anti-kid if I don’t give a fat kid candy? These are the same kind of people who will recoil and put their hands up if you start calling them imbeciles, but we’ll get into that topic another time.

American attitudes toward everything is can be summarized in

  1. Fuck you got mine” and
  2. I’m/We’re the best“.

Must be because I’m not AMERICAn enough.

Who cares about the rest of the world when you have AMERICA?

To begin with the state of public transportation is mostly an afterthought because when it’s brought up it’s simply written off. Who cares about public transportation? I have a car. I can get where I want to when I want to. What, too poor to have a car? None of my business. Don’t ask me to pay taxes to fund someone else’s life. Then they’ll turn around and complain about how traffic is so bad lately and they have to get up earlier and earlier so the freeway moves at the actual speed limit rather than at 10mph.

It simply doesn’t occur to them that everyone else thinks the same thing and cars have geometries and physics which cause certain effects. It isn’t some economist rational actors model where everyone’s carefully and quantitatively measured out how much they value each thing and voila, now we have a shitty public transportation system as well as a shitty private transportation, but all of this is okay because we value detached single family homes so much. None of that goes through their head. It’s literally just “I don’t care, I don’t see a problem, why are you yelling at me? I was promised owning my own home in the American Dream! If you say I shouldn’t have one then fuck you!”

Why do aboveground BART stations have two decks instead of one?
Because if you miss your stop then it’s your fault you’re an idiot.

Why aren’t there bathrooms in BART stations, or if they exist, why can’t they be found?
Because you didn’t look hard enough, or if they don’t exist, why didn’t you just take care of business before leaving the house?

Why doesn’t BART have a clear announcement system or a display that shows where in the system you are at all times?
Because you should know which stop you’re stopping at anyways.

Why does BART allow trash on its trains?

Are you saying you saw trash and didn’t clean it up? Why aren’t you doing your part? If you did, why are you complaining? The problem got solved, didn’t it?

If you’ve heard the line “You didn’t get the job because you just weren’t passionate enough”, this is the same thing. Every systemic problem that’s brought up turns out to be the result of a lack of individual responsibility, effort, and faith – until they also happen to have a problem with it, then it’s always a call for somebody to do something, as long as it doesn’t turn out that “somebody” includes them. Not my tax money. Not my car. Not my backyard.

Or in case of BART employees, Not my job.

Hong Kong Central Library, not MTR.
I don’t want to talk about the state of American libraries.

Whose job was it to put this label up? Did it need to be put up?

Do you think he was paid more or less than 270k a year (USD not HKD)?

Considering it’s some text on laminated paper secured by tape, it was probably decided and put up by someone lower down the chain than whoever put up this other one:

This is on a pedestrian path on the side of a mountain.

These little things put life into what’s otherwise an environment that just happens to have other people in it and is just somewhere you have to be in order to get to the next place. It’s not just some path, it’s a paved path with clean railings and cleaned plates that have a contact number on them indicating someone is involved in maintaining it and they care about their work. It’s not just an elevator to the library, it’s one whose surfaces are cleaned every hour and someone decided it was important to let people know it’s clean – clearly not someone at the top but someone much further down.

Meanwhile, BART operators could care less if you heard them or if you know where you are. BART police could care less if you’re getting robbed by 50 “teens”. Or murder, which I won’t bother linking because it happens so often none of them are worth noting anymore. Everywhere you go in America you feel that people are basically just showing up for the paycheck. Nothing is improved, nothing gets better over time, and if really terrible things happen as a result of ten thousand little things not having been done and not building up to anything larger, hey, I was just collecting my check. That wasn’t in the job description. Hell if I’m going to let you add things to it. Better pay me more next year though. I have a union.

And this attitude goes all the way up.

A high-speed railway connecting Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, railway was brought up in the late 1990s by the Government of Hong Kong. This Regional Express Railway (RER) proposal was developed in the 1994 “Railway Development Study”(RDS); it foresaw a continual growth of Hong Kong’s population over the next two decades and strong demand for cross-border passenger traffic. The Hong Kong (SAR) Government commissioned a second Railway Development Study in March 1998. The Study went further on the British proposal of connecting Hong Kong and China from Kowloon. […] Since the typical timeframe for rail projects, from conception to completion phase, would take eight or nine years, the Railway Development Study recommended that the Hong Kong (SAR) Government should commence as soon as possible, so that the new express railway could be constructed in time to meet capacity demands.

This sort of talk of foresight seems fairly common among public planners.

Wow, 2040! They’re planning 20 years ahead!

But you look at the past 20 years and for BART it’s taken 15 years to still not completely build a single new station 5 miles away from the current terminal. They’ve been using the same train cars since the system was built in the 1970s, and the technology was outdated even back then, and they have the gall to talk about 20 years in the future.

America has the best people in the world though right? Immigration land of opportunity diversity is strength blah blah blah wow, train stations must be the hardest thing ever to build if it takes them 15 years. Maybe we should get Elon Musk to build them.

Meanwhile in China:

“But Chinese stuff always breaks and they always break regulations” Should I compare how often MTR or Shanghai trains are delayed or broken down, to how often BART trains are delayed or have murders? I’ll be the first to preach mainlanders are terrible but there’s things that are objectively better and things which are objectively worse.

“But China is communist and uses eminent domain” what’s wrong with eminent domain?

Let me repeat that: What’s wrong with eminent domain?

In broader terms and different words:

Why do cities exist, and what would an ideal city look like?

Rich peopleville.

This is the BART station in Walnut Creek. Out of all the stations, this is probably the one where most Americans would ideally want to live next to. San Francisco has rent out the nose for a tiny box, Berkeley same idea, Oakland has “teens”… This, on the other hand, is perfect. Single family homes, short distance to highway, to public transit, to shopping malls, to DMV, and if there’s parties or events in the bigger cities, there’s no need to haul a car there to find or pay ridiculous prices for parking. All you’d need to do is

I think I figured out where the creator of this tagline lives.

The problem is Walnut Creek can only be true for a very small number of people. Works fine for people who already lives there, Fuck you, got mine, doesn’t work for everyone else. And unless some Lee Kuan Yew appears, the land divisions set in that image will always remain. There will never be any development into higher density housing on the left side of the freeway because people will always hold onto their house, and if they let go they aren’t going to let go at the same time. And the city planners will never go against The Will Of The People because democracy.

But, also because of democracy, they do want to create more business and more jobs so they can make more money, which means more people will have to come from elsewhere to do the work or at least be customers and pay the bills, and they will come via… cars.  There’s only so much BART parking space, which at most stations is always full, and it’s not like it’s that close anyways once you get there. A train that’s louder than a plane, doesn’t run on time, only comes every once in a while, has trash lying around like it belongs there, and when I get there I have to see this?

Closest buildings on one side of Walnut Creek station.

I have to walk through parking lots where I as a pedestrian am clearly an afterthought? You want me to use this train, which means leaving my car, but at the destination I have to wait 10~30 minutes for a bus, there’s no taxis, no light rail no pedestrian paths with any nice scenery, all of which put me right next to with no barriers inbetween, one or two ton cars going by at 30+mph? I have to deal with this as I walk 10~30 minutes just to see how many shops? And I have to carry everything with me the whole time because coin and baggage lockers don’t exist, because it’s just expected everyone has a car?

Closest buildings on the other side.

Might as well just take my own car the whole way then.

So then we have clogged freeways. And the attitude towards this is “oh well”.

So are you going to tell city councilors off? Or is it not a journalist’s job description to do that?

The American people will accept losing extra hours of their life 250/365 days a year waiting in line to go to work, so long as they get to sit comfortably in their own little metal boxes with speaker systems tuned to their favorite radio stations playing their favorite music, and read some journalist on some website say “Ouch” about their daily experience.

The average person can’t do anything about traffic or how cities are set up. They want their own things, live their own life, and that’s about it. Having a place to live, being able to get to work, being able to shop at nice places, and being able to visit a lot of friends, without a lot of time – these are all things I think everyone wants.

In other words, these things are why cities exist.

This is the equivalent of Walnut Creek station in Hong Kong:

Station is underground. Park on roof. Lots of residential + 1 commercial building on top.

A mall of 3 floors and 123 shops awaits you the moment you step out of the paid area.

A whole grocery store without having to step outside.

I should’ve taken more pictures.

The park on top.

Ignoring the cost: How many people live in those buildings? How many people can get basically whatever they want, see the sights, go to work, without ever having to leave this complex?

One article estimates that there’s 70,000 residents, hotel guests, and office workers occupying this space: about 0.14 square kilometers.

The population of Walnut Creek in 2014 was 67,673 and its square kilometers is 51.

Imagine how much parking/road space 70,000 cars takes.

Kowloon Station/Elements/Union Square is a really nice place and I’m sure a lot of people around HK come here for various reasons. And they get there by… train. Buses are frequent, pedestrians get elevated and undeground walkways to not have to walk on sidewalks all the time, where there are sidewalks there’s rails so it feels safer, light rail connects to heavy rail, heavy rail comes so frequently they don’t print schedules, and, even though there are backwater places in Hong Kong, new developments aren’t spread out single property divisions anymore. The MTR corporation with the assistance of the Hong Kong government gets land and develops it as a single vision, Kowloon Station being the current newest and largest one completed.What we currently see wasn’t even developed all at once; the station was done 94~98, the current mall opened in 07, and the buildings on top opened in years from 00~10. But it was all done under one architect, one corporation, one government.

This isn’t the only way to do things, the Japanese do it much more organically, but in both cases there is no “NIMBYism”. The Japanese accept it when someone decides the land is worth enough to start building higher than all the surrounding buildings. The Hong Kong government opens up or claims lands and decides that certain things need to happen, and is generally effective at it. I’m sure HK and Japanese residents more informed on the details will have their valid complaints, but overall, the major desires are met for a very large number of people.

Compared to what BART did over about the same period (1997~2011):

The invisible station in the center under the highways, a parking lot north and south. Maybe a few of the apartment blocks starting with the inverted triangle? I don’t know where exactly BART-owned land begins or ends here but it doesn’t really matter. No matter how you cut it this 15 years had, to say the least, a lot less accomplished.

It’s not so much that there’s not a Kowloon Walled City v2: 2 American Boogaloo popping up near/in Silicon Valley (though it should).

It’s that there’s nothing.

You built a dinky station… and like a building or three?

Are you serious?

What have these fuckers done with 15 years of their life? Remember when you were still in diapers and daddy showed you a highway and a field and said there’d be a train station? Well now that you’ve finished highschool and college degrees are worthless, daddy can get you a job at that station! Nevermind that its floorspace is about 3 minutes long. It was really hard! Kids these days don’t understand hard work.

While doing a bit more research on dates I found this image on wikipedia. It’s the newest station, which started construction in 2009, currently in 2017 is half operational, and was supposed to open in 2014. This is what it looked like in 2014

The rails shown aren’t BART rails, they’re national freight rails.
In other words, they’re unrelated.

It took five (5) (V) (五) years to build the amount shown in the above image.

Okay whatever no use shedding tears over lost idioms. Now that it’s built, next to old NUMMI new Tesla factory. Great! Finally BART serves a purpose other than being a glorified parking lot shuttle for San Francisco. People all over SF Bay Silicon Valley can now work for Tesla and not have to drive! Saving the planet is awesome! Insert more boomer marketing taglines here. Maybe we have to drive to a BART station first, but BART… and we’re there! Just hop off the train and walk the rest of the way to work!

See that T-shape above “Tesla Delivery Center”? That’s the factory entrance.

All 2 miles of it. Pop quiz, what’s the average human walking speed?

Given that number, would you spend that amount of time walking to work? After spending the probably 10 minutes or so to drive to the station, assuming you can find parking and get on the train just as it arrives (trains are every 15 minutes during rush hour) the probably 30 minutes on the BART ride itself, after all that – would you walk the amount of time you calculated on a path that looks like this?

This is a 45mph road. It’s also half the walk. No, the other side has no sidewalk either.

“But Tesla looks good on a resume”

Yes… Tesla’s the best. If you’re really passionate about helping mother Earth, you’d do it. America’s the best, if you really treasure your freedom, you’ll put up with 60 minutes every day each way to go 20 miles, a distance which might as well be in the middle of nowhere because it’s all single family detached residential around here. Stop complaining already. Everyone else has to deal with it too. If you don’t like it why don’t you leave? I just suck it up like a real man. I’m proud of my country. I don’t like it either,

but look at me,

I don’t complain.

This attitude is why I hate Americans. “My country, right or wrong” – except worse, because it’s not about foreign vs domestic, it’s about “Fuck you, got mine“. There’s no reasoning going on, there’s no considering of alternatives, there’s no constant seeking for improvement, it’s “eh, who cares, fuck you, got mine”. American gamers say those who are better than them “have no life”, and say those who are worse than them “casuals”. Americans who are more successful than them are “lucky or “talented”, but when they taste success themselves it’s because they have “passion” and achieved it through “hard work”. It’s so prevalent everywhere it’s would almost be funny, except they get really serious when the shit hits the fan and still refuse to believe that any of this is related.

People want housing to be close to jobs and shopping. Higher population density means more people are closer to the same amount of things. Metro systems, which have guaranteed right-of-way on their rails, connect speedily and reliably even more people to the same amount of things. This speed simultaneously connects those people to more areas than before, meaning there’s more areas competing with each other, driving the price down of, among other things, rent. All of these things are objectively desirable. All of these things are required in an ideal city.

But the people don’t care. And the city planners don’t care. The public transportation workers don’t care. The public transportation leaders don’t care. No one cares, until it looks like it might be time for them to get their cut. Then it’s not in my backyard, not my job, sorry the project was more complicated than expected, it’ll cost twice as much and take three times as long, man that janitor worked really hard this year, he deserves a raise. And then it’s back to not caring. Maybe once every five years we’ll do a week’s worth of work. Maybe once every four years they’ll pay attention. And we’re the world police superpower anyways, it’s always going to be better to live here. If those slanty eyed chinks start getting uppity we’ll just nuke them. Time for a nap.

“That’s just how America works, you have to learn how to play politics”

Americans are so far up their own ass in marketing they can’t see what’s real anymore.

I say “they” because I don’t identify with any of what I described. I say “Americans” because that’s the largest and most accurate group for which I can see these traits. They appear in idiots everywhere, but in America they appear in general from bottom to top.

I also know, from bottom to top, it’s not true in Hong Kong, and from what I’ve heard it’s also not true in Japan. It’s not a “people” thing, it’s not genetic or inherent in human nature. It can be changed, it can be fixed. Hong Kong has problems with their attitude toward society, and so does Japan, but there are always imperfections, and the attitude towards that is “we will fix them“. Whatever the actual distribution, the rule of culture is to do your part. Society there naturally pushes people to contribute more and more.

Thanks to the isolation of suburbia, I’m not fully AMERICAn.

What does society in America tell its people? How do Americans treat each other? Not just the hello how are you nice weather today, but the actual systemic results?

BART… and I’m…

What does America think about anything that happens outside of America?

What do Americans think of anyone who has ideas about how the world could be?

Because fuck you, that’s why.

On Free Marketers’ Free Marketing of Free Markets

“The Free Market creates higher quality products at lower prices” is a tagline masquerading as an explanation, a simplification of a relationship of opposing parties down to one constant result. Any time something odd happens, libertarians et. all will say “it wasn’t a true free market”, “capitalism != corporatism”, or any number of words they define at that moment purely for rallying purposes.

These are the three parties that marketists marketers will talk about:

  1. The seller,
  2. The buyer, and
  3. The other sellers.

Supposing, for the duration of this post, that other parties and factors from government to culture and infrastruture to topography are as irrelevant as they say, they are still wrong about the balance of these three, and will basically be wrong about the balance everywhere even if the model was a neighborhood garage sale, a simulation run by a class of college students, or the same simulation run by children. Communists don’t understand human nature, and Marketers don’t understand it either. Libertarians are often pointed out as having a very high population of autists, which makes sense if we look into how they see the world: “I want it, therefore I will be given it”.

Let’s start with the seller.

People driven by profit are inclined to take as much money as they can while putting in minimum effort. Wherever it can, it will attempt to maximize in these two directions: it will sell down to whatever people are willing to accept, up to whatever price they are willing to pay. The best situation is for people to give them any amount of money they want for nothing. People have heard famously about 100$ Nike shoes costing 1$ to make, but their measly 11.25% profit margin isn’t the holy grail. “Rent-seeking” isn’t it either, they barely do much better at 12%, and were only at 2% before the start of the second great depression. No, the holy grail is much higher than that. The holy grail is 100%.

They are not your friends. Their best interests are not and will never be your best interests. They’ll try to be your friends. Just like how the street hustler with the cards will tell you you’re such a pretty girl, aw thanks you’re so nice. But if they can rig the cards while making you believe you can follow them, they will. And if they can make you feel at home while getting some of their actual friends to pick your pocket, they’ll do that too. Which they of course do, in whatever form it takes for their industry.

“People aren’t that mean!”

You’re paying for a product which is 97% profit.

Unless my blog is so great someone printed it out, you used it to read this post.

No need to disagree about how “the people would never stand for that”. They do. They have been for 20 years. It’s probably true in a number of other places too. So let’s talk instead about how it works and see if we can’t find out something that might predict where profit can be made, rather than waiting for libertarians marketers to complain afterwards about how something or other wasn’t a real free market.

The reason why they believe things shouldn’t happen this way is because of the buyer. Sellers can sell for whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean anything without the buyer, and the buyer will always want higher quality at a lower price.

…”And therefore the higher quality will appear at a lower price” would be golden, maybe someday a libertarian will actually say it and then I’ll have another permanent pet toy, but that’s basically what they believe and espouse without irony or further explanation. Tell this to a child and they’d know that something’s up. How is it possible that, when two people with opposing goals negotiate, one just always wins, and wins everything they want at the cost of the other guy? No middle ground? No give-and-take? Just a “And I would’ve gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids”?

It should be obvious that if the buyer wants something that the seller doesn’t it won’t happen either, and marketers will recognize this logic when presented with their favorite S&D graph, but completely forget it otherwise. Outside it they use quotes like

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

which is surprising, or unsurprising, because they don’t realize the meaning of it being a well-publicized quote about consumers, from someone who didn’t make a name for themselves on consumer advocacy, but the exact opposite. The customer can fire everyone? Really? Can someone name the last time something like that happened? Everyone hates Comcast and EA, when’s the last time something substantial happened at those companies in any direction the customer wanted? Anyone?

The biggest problem in the model is that there isn’t one customer.

Every individual transaction may be one seller and one buyer but the vast majority of transactions only exist because there’s one seller and many buyers. Only a very few businesses can be made off of only one buyer, like being an artist in the Renaissance, or being Boeing, Bechtel, Raytheon, or Tesla today. Everyone else needs a bunch of customers. It’s basically true to say “the seller”, it’s basically untrue to say “the customer”.

And these customers don’t know each other – meaning if one guy is screwed the others won’t know, and if they do, they won’t care. Even if they do know, does it mean anything beyond an Angry reaction on Facebook? Does it affect the seller in any significant way?

A big thing happened a little while back; United Airlines beat up a customer to unreasonably get him off a flight, all recorded and known around the world minutes after it happened thanks to the wonder and ubiquity of smartphones. Reddit’s subforum for cat videos had nothing but pages and pages of stuff on UA, and apparently UA’s stock dropped by more than $1 Billion USD. Stock market being, we’re told, a reflection of consumer opinion.

Here’s a graph of UA stock. Can you tell me when the incident happened?

Are you looking for the biggest drop? It’s not so obvious is it. It’s somewhere in these last three months. Here’s the graph for the last year, which won’t help either.

The other problem is buyers generally don’t know anything about the product. It’s easy to say people want a higher quality product at a lower price, which is how you know it’s just a marketing line. Chasing the words will only lead you into the predetermined holes. In abortion you’re “pro-choice” or “pro-life”, but how can you say you’re against choice or against life?

Let’s ask an answerable question: How does a buyer know something is higher quality?

When you think of an average person looking up products to buy to fulfill a particular need, and they’re not simply buying the same thing they’ve bought before, they’re not just doing whatever their friends said, and they’re out looking for whatever is the best actual thing for the job, what do you think of?

That’s right. Reviews. Or if it’s Amazon/Yelp, not even the reviews, just the rating distribution. It better be mostly 5/5’s and have 100+ reviews or forget about it. The other routes would be it’d be whatever the bigger review magazines said, or if in a physical store whatever the Sales Associate™ said, or some brand with trustworthy-looking graphic design.

People don’t know what they’re buying and are buying only because they’re told to.

“Well what else could it be?”

Reading specsheets. i.e. Looking at the actual thing money is being paid for.

The reviews part is important too but we’ll get back to that in a bit.

When switching to a new case a while back I bought fans for my computer, a few Fractal Design Venturi HF-14s. Aside from positive reviews, I bought it because I knew a bit about what the product would actually do based off of what it said. Rubber corners means fan vibration doesnt lead to noise. Multi-size means I can use a larger fan i.e. push more air through my smaller components. It’s not a sleeve bearing so it’ll last longer. There’s a number for how many dB’s of noise it’ll make. There’s a lot of other stuff too which I don’t know how to read, but of what I do know, and I know some, it looked pretty good. Here’s their page on the product (backup link).

I also got a new fan recently because it’s summer and it’s hot, a Honeywell 7″ Power Air Circulator, but only because my mom had one too and I fiddled with it beforehand: quiet, small, high airflow, and the rotation is stiff rather than flimsy. But if I hadn’t had this experience, I wouldn’t have gotten it, because there’s nothing about it I can find beforehand that makes any sense. There’s no specsheets on it from Honeywell. On a Venturi box most of the specs are listed on the back. On the Honeywell box are:

  • 7″
  • 3 Powerful Speeds
  • Turbo FORCE Power
  • 25% Quieter
  • SAVE up to 20% on Energy Bills

and that’s it for specs. The back is in Spanish.

7″ and 3 speeds are the only specs on the box, everything else, including the stuff I did bother to list, is nonsense. I can tell you how much noise a Venturi makes, says right on the box, 26.5dB. I wouldn’t know if it makes 25 or 27, but I know what 20, 30, and 40dB are so it gives me a rough idea. “25% quieter” doesn’t tell me anything. Quieter than what?

25% quieter claim is based on internal sound test (#08-017) comparing model HT-900 to another similar sized air circulator, HT-800.

What’s the problem with listing the number on the box?

What’s that supposed to mean anyways? I need to buy your HT-800 first? Wouldn’t be the worst thing ever if I could access this “internal sound test #08-017”, but that’s also not public information. And what’s with the rest of it? “Turbo FORCE Power“? Graphic design from the 90’s doesn’t keep the hot air away. Do I need to go to the dollar store to pull examples of big bang words in fancy fonts and colors paired with products that aren’t worth the time spent in the drive over? Again, the fan isn’t actually so bad, but how would I know? Or, in obverse, I don’t know if there’s actually significantly better fans out I could’ve gotten instead of this one, because all of the stuff any of them list in their advertising is complete hot garbage.

Sure, Fractal Design could be lying to me, maybe the fan actually produces a louder 40dB instead, but Honeywell could’ve given me a trash fan and I wouldn’t be able to say anything about it because Turbo FORCE Power doesn’t mean jack squat. With the Venturi I know there’s certain other fans out there that are better at this or that, but for the size I had, and a price range I was willing to pay, it was the best in terms of airflow and noise level. I don’t know anything about the Honeywell except that I turn it on when it’s hot.

The same holds true for most people about anything they’re buying. They want something to fulfill a need, they look up what people have been saying about various products that claim to fulfill that need, they get one, and that’s it. It could be better, it could be worse. They don’t know. They don’t have a clue. And they don’t care; if they’re told it’s 5/5 stars and it doesn’t have any obvious problems for 6mo~1yr (depending on the person), it’s perfect by them. It just so happens there’s quite a lot of perfect products on Amazon and restaurants on Yelp waiting for everyone. God Bless America.

I’m not saying this way of doing things is wrong. If you can’t tell the difference in quality and you think it’s fine then for you it probably is. Let the people who care about what you see as minutiae deal with whatever they think the problem is. People only have so much time in a day anyways, no one person can be expected to be educated and perfectly informed on everything. Just recognize that you basically don’t know what you’re doing for most of the things you’re buying, you most likely aren’t getting the best, and are making decisions based off of pretty pictures and silver words.

For libertarians though:

This is supposed to be the grand ultimate force which is supposed to oppose money.

Certainly in some fields “the” customer holds more power than not, but it’s never, ever due to any populist reasoning. It’s more that a few powerful buyers with very strong opinions and very specific goals saying to the seller “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse”, and less of everyone else absentmindedly reciting “The meek shall inherit the earth”. Buyers who only buy a product once or otherwise only think about it and then go on with their lives have no power in any field. Buyers who are recognized as informed and thus guide others opinions on the matter – those have power. They make the changes, everyone else is just the tool. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people; you don’t fire everybody in the company the chairman on down, popular reviewers do. Maybe. I haven’t seen it ever happen. But if it happens, it’ll be because of them, not because of any stupid Hollywood-tier Power To The People crap.

The more a seller relies on buyers with opinions, the more the balance shifts towards the buyers. The less a seller can be influenced by other people in power, the more the power shifts toward the seller. For higher quality lower cost product to exist, there must be powerful buyers whose desire is higher quality lower cost products. This is the full logic chain, not “if: competition, then: better cheaper stuff”.

There’s also plenty of powerful buyers whose desire is something other than higher quality lower cost products, a topic which I won’t get into in this post. Suffice to say, shilling is a thing. A really big thing.

Read a handful of Amazon Vine reviews, and tell me how many of them you think were written by a real person. Expand to big reviewers in general. Remember, they get free products from the company and make their living off of them. See also “Sponsored Content” and “Native Advertising”. Or just look at Starbucks.

The final party is the other sellers. There’s generally not a lot of other sellers. Certainly if there’s more of them, then it’s more likely that there’s going to be variances.

But even then it’s not like it’s all competition all the time. Even amateur markets like Artist’s Alley at anime and comic conventions have organizations. However many of them there are, there’s always lot more of you. Why is it that basically every stall you go to and every poster or charm you see, they’re all selling at about the same price? It’s not like some kind of reverse auction where they’re all scouting around the place all the time, starting at various different prices and all cut down over the course of a convention so they could cut into the profits of whoever was selling cheaper.

Because you’re faceless, and they’re not.

Even before the internet and “price-matching”, look on any older box, you’ll find that the price was already on the product. “MSRP”: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. And basically, unless it was Christmas Shopping Season or some other special event, that was the price for that thing, everywhere. That number can’t come to exist if we accept the libertarian individualist state of nature explanation of the world, where the manufacturer simple ships the product to a distributor, who cares who actually sells it in the end, let them figure out the price themselves I already got my cut.

No, obviously there’s a supply chain, distributors and retailers which have stayed in business, have connections, and use general agreed-upon practices and markups. They talk to each other and come to agreements. They don’t just roll over and say the customer wants higher quality at lower prices, whats my competitor got, time to offer higher quality at lower prices. Unlike you, they have to deal with the other guy tomorrow, probably the day after too, and potentially ten years from now. And the other guy has a lot more impact on them then literally who. Listed MSRP hard to find these days, but its existence and disappearance suggests certain structures, structures which generally haven’t changed, structures which show more cooperation with each other than with you.

Even if they only have one meeting with each other a year, it’s probably between a couple of their bigwigs, making a deal of some sort, setting up information sharing. What’s your connection to any of these manufacturers or retailers? One purchase? Maybe one review whose star rating is seen by 50 people? A call to customer service?

And then what? You got a higher quality product at a lower price from a competitor?

And that’s why this whole system is the best, thank god we aren’t communists?

If we assume it’s an average buyer with an average product, then it comes back to the same problem as before: There’s no knowledge that it’s actually a better product. What was better was the final opinion, because of the product not breaking or reading more shining reviews or friendly customer service that happened to resolve the problem this time rather than with the nonresolution with the other company, or who knows what else; whatever it is: not the product. “The free market provides higher quality products at lower prices” is literally completely unrelated to the actual experience, to most anyone’s actual experiences, yet it’s chanted at anything and everything nonstop all the time.

What sellers actually do: Sell poorer products at higher prices.
What buyers actually do: Look at whatever has the most positive/popular reviews.
What sellers actually do: Pay well-known reviewers to review positively.
What buyers actually do: Buy anyways.

This is the actual result.

“But it’s wrong and probably illegal for them to do some of the things they’re doing, let me try and find some law that supports my argument, then I’ll show you why it isn’t actually a free market” is not relevant. Sellers in a market want to make more money while having spent less to do it, and buyers in most markets, who number in magnitudes larger than the sellers, have no clue what they’re doing, put those two together and whatever fancy jargon you make up aside, the cards always fall this way. Maybe the details differ. Nike makes 10 cents per dollar rather than 97. Whatever. But 97 is possible, is happening, and the more companies do it the happier the people are.

That’s right: The more companies profit, the happier people are to buy from them. If the marketers’ ideology was true you’d expect to see the opposite. If people were actually so concerned about lower prices then there’d be info spread around about companies producing whatever product and compare all their profits to see who made the least. Assuming all their products cost the same, this should approximately mean that whoever is profiting the least put the most money into doing the work, therefore a better quality product. What we actually see is everyone wanting to wear Nikes driving Teslas drinking Starbucks while using their iPhone.

People want to spend money on expensive things that they’re told everyone else likes. They don’t need to know what’s in it as long as it doesn’t obviously break, they just need it to have the best reviews and be on the top of all the lists and the tip of everyone’s tongue. Nevermind if it actually breaks, or how it breaks, or how soon it breaks, technology is really complicated these days doncha know? The customer service guy was nice and I like the font and logo the brand uses. I’m proud to continue to support a company that says it’s the leader of innovation into the future. Nevermind if they do or not, who cares anyways, looking at numbers and comparing stats is for nerds.

This is supposed to be the grand ultimate force which is supposed to oppose money.

It opposes with as much resistance as you’d expect.

On Libertarian Morality

Economic Inequality Is Just A Cover For Anti-Rich Prejudice

by Don Watkins, for The Federalist, 2016 April 14

Regarding businessmen, for example, we should condemn those who lie, cheat, and steal. But we should condemn them as individuals for their dishonest and predatory actions.

Universally, all white collar crime gets punished multiple degrees of magnitude less than hood crime. Condemning one businessman and not all of them is a concession that a couple of years in a comfy cell for frauding millions of people out of billions of dollars is approximately the right response.

There’s value in condemning a dishonest businessman over a dishonest person. A person’s role matters. A negligent student is nothing, a negligent mother should mean something extremely serious but doesn’t thanks to a certain demographic in tandem with a certain political structure, a negligent father has a special derogatory word made up just for him. Businessmen of today are lords of the past. It’s one thing to say they should be able to get away with more – maybe they should? But that’s not the argument libertarians make. “They’re just the same as everyone else!”

Replace “the rich” with “Hispanics” or “women” or “Jews” in that sentence, and ask yourself: isn’t this precisely the sort of prejudice we object to when it is targeted at other groups?

Good thing this isn’t a problem then.

Actually being against prejudice is even more stupid than buying Hanlon’s Razor, which I’m pretty confident was created to cover for corruption. You are prejudiced that your key will turn on your car, the switch will turn on the light, the food you buy isn’t rotten, and that you won’t get assaulted just walking down a street, unless you’re in South Africa, Detroit, Berlin, Paris, or London, then maybe you would. And why would that be reasonable? Is it because of ley lines? Some miasma? Special ghosts haunting those areas? Some other magic? Maybe it’s global warming? But we’re all “just” people right?

Equality is just for show. Your ten fingers are all different lengths and your two eyeballs have different strengths, you treat your mother differently than you do your wife but we pretend we’re all equal because as a public narrative repeated ad naseum at no one in particular and only believed by initiates, “it’s good for business”.

That’s why libertarianism exists. “It’s good for business”. Full sentence: It’s good for millionaires’ business in screwing over fresh cheap labor. And, on occasion, it’s good for businesses screwing over other businesses. Full sentence: It’s good for some bigger businesses screwing over other smaller businesses. And there’s no world outside of business. Nevermind that there are other narratives which are better for everyones’ business. “It’s good for business”.

Everywhere outside America immigration is primarily a cultural issue, but here it’s terrible to think about closing borders because startups might suffer. You know, those small businesses whose entire purpose is to sell out so that its owners can strike it big and always results in all its employees getting laid off because the buyout was for purposes of obtaining patents and the “brand”? Forget any other discussions, forget the state of demographics in this country, or unemployment, how the current generation of young adults have no future except grinding a life of poverty living in a truck at the parking lot of their dream job. If we limit immigration, startups might suffer.

Oh. No. Not the startups. Anything but the startups.

Prejudice encourages dehumanization – it encourages demonizing “the other” so they are seen as less than human and therefore unworthy of respect.

Whose problem is this? Is this an appeal to me to be a better person at any cost to me all for the benefit of someone else? Come back with a billion dollars and a sentence to few years in jail and then we’ll talk about “dehumanization of the rich” or whatever you want. Of course, the billion has to come first.

Should have plenty of billions laying around. You did seize all those assets right?

No?

We need to ask ourselves: Do we really think of rich individuals as human beings?

I can tell you how rich people in this country think of poor people.

No, I don’t have any citations. No reputable sources. I guess I’m just making shit up.

Making shit up that’s just magically on the mark every time.

Do we ever so much as ask: Did they honestly earn their money?

Considering most people quit their bosses and not their jobs?

Did they gain it by dealing voluntarily with other people, through an incalculable number of win-win trades?

Inside systems with many involuntary parts that favor them.

Remember: Libertarians think taxation is coercion and theft.

This is prejudice, plain and simple.

Repeat after me: The end goal of knowledge is prejudice.

What’s worse, it is not directed toward traits that have no bearing on a person’s character, it is directed at something that is in fact a moral achievement.

A literal statement straight from the mouth of a libertarian that having more money is a “moral achievement“, and that this moral achievement also, simultaneously, has “no bearing on a person’s character“.

Cult of Entropy.

This wasn’t a waste of my time after all.

When I discuss unfair treatment of successful businessmen, I almost always hear comments like, “Oh, boohoo. What do the rich have to complain about? Look at everything they have!” This reflects a crass materialism, which amounts to the notion that money solves everything, and that no one can be hurt by or object to mistreatment unless he’s poor.

We live in an advanced technological society, and enjoy a level of wealth, health, comfort, and opportunity that our ancestors could not have dreamed of. What made it possible? The effort of producers, on every level of ability, but with the most credit going to the men and women of extraordinary ability: the inventors, entrepreneurs, and investors who drive progress – and earn a fortune in the process.

Materialism is good or bad depending on the intent of the author in that particular paragraph. Or maybe the author wants it both ways; insults people for being materialistic but believes that they probably still believe it anyways, why not use that too for a little extra cha-ching I mean, impact? Maybe the author doesn’t think of his audience as human beings.

Or maybe this is all “human being” means to him.

originally discovered and commented on Facebook, 2017 April 17
edited and added upon for better flow as standalone

IFLS is an intended result of Science

LAX: What is that supposed to mean
REZ: whats what supposed to mean
LAX: “objectivity is a big fucking meme, just like science”
REZ: it’s the same group of people and same mentality
REZ: IFLS is effectively a religion
REZ: or if you’re a bit more highbrow, the Rationality Community e.g. Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex et. all
LAX: Are you saying you’re opposed to science?
LAX: Science and being objective are appropriate in certain situations
REZ: I am opposed to both science and IFLSers, though they’re two slightly different topics
REZ: well, i suppose it could be seen as two slightly different ways of being the same thing
LAX: How can you be opposed to science yet use a computer?
REZ: my using a computer has nothing to do with science
LAX: It’s a byproduct of science
REZ: i will give you 5 more arguments until i stop this line because it’s base as fuck and wastes my time
LAX: I get being opposed to the IFLS shitlords
REZ: it’s a byproduct of a bunch of things which aren’t science too; doesn’t mean anything
REZ: it’s like saying haha aren’t communists funny they complain about capitalism but they still buy things
REZ: communists are idiots but that’s not a legitimate argument to level against them
REZ: they have about as much choice to not buy things as they do to evade taxes or not drive cars or not speak english
REZ: there’s one great thing that everyone touts about science and it’s that it’s self correcting
REZ: which is completely nonunique since every way of thinking has methods of self correcting
REZ: religions have priests who interpret their holy books, science has scientists who interpret their experimental results
REZ: i forget the number but something came out recently showing that something like 1/2 or 2/3 of scientific papers in recent years have experiments which aren’t reproducible
REZ: in english that means “most of recent science is effectively made up shit and not science”
LAX: I know of this
REZ: science isn’t so great that i have to acknowledge tribute to it by using something i have to use in order to live
REZ: science sticks its name in a bunch of things just because it’s only ever so marginally related
REZ: like a college claiming “oh yeah that famous guy? he went here.”
REZ: whereas the vast majority of people who’ve actually been to college can tell you, it really isn’t that special.
REZ: except for the partying.
REZ: when colleges start saying “oh yeah that famous guy? he partied here. and that’s why he’s famous” instead of pretending it’s some great knowledge or insight he gained through hard work and education, i’ll take another look.
REZ: same with science.
REZ: but if they do that, then their credibility goes out the window, so i won’t have to.
LAX: So you’re not actually opposed to the scientific method, just the way people use science to “seem smart”?
LAX: like people using science to publish a paper that’s just total bullshit?
REZ: why would the difference between what something is and how it manifests matter to me?
REZ: we had this conversation like yesterday
REZ: my brother COULD be something that ISNT a complete literal retard
REZ: but unless it’s demonstrated who cares?
REZ: science COULD be the greatest thing ever but if the big people who are so much smarter and so much more productive than me are 1/2~2/3 LYING about their SHIT then why do i care?
REZ: i don’t have any personal investment in the word or ideology of “science”
REZ: i see its leaders being shit, as far as i’m concerned, it’s shit
REZ: if i remember high school science and youtube atheism from pre-2010 correctly this is the scientific response too
REZ: god COULD exist
REZ: but if we can’t detect him then he’s not in this universe, i.e. he doesn’t exist
REZ: that’s the big problem
REZ: the other problem which is somewhat related is science is one of the mainstream religions
REZ: anything which is NOT “proven by science” is “pseudoscience”
REZ: things which have long existed before science are deemed “immoral” or “wrong”, even if they are accurate predictions and have demonstrable effects, up until the moment some “scientist” records it in an experiment and presents his conclusions to a “scientific community”
REZ: at which point it becomes truth, oh look we were wrong this whole time, isn’t it great we have science to correct our ways?
REZ: like literally go fuck yourself
REZ: the point, anywhere in any field of human activity, is to be “correct” or to get a job “done”
REZ: whether it’s “scientific” or not is secondary
REZ: and the more i see and hear about science it’s the modern day equivalent of religion in the sense that they’re the gatekeepers of knowledge
REZ: just like media
REZ: “if we say its true its true, if we say its false its false”
REZ: media has eroded a bit thanks to internet and smartphone video but people just keep lapping up whatever they hear when they also hear the word “science” or whatever
REZ: it’s all related
REZ: IFLS is not a mistake, it’s an intended consequence of how science is portrayed and how their people work in our system
LAX: Okay I’m with you now
REZ: good
REZ: laxeris was not an idiot today
LAX: I don’t know about not an idiot.
LAX: But I wasn’t totally retarded
LAX: :3
REZ: yes, which is why i said “today”.
LAX: Sometimes I forget the way you view things and it makes it really hard to comprehend how you come to conclusions
LAX: Like how you put science and science people in the same category. Which makes sense, but not the way I do it.
REZ: people like to recite that one line from v for vendetta, ‘you can’t kill an idea’
REZ: but you can kill people, and you can censor books, and if there are no people to espouse an idea and no one to hear the tree fall in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound
LAX: I dislike that line, it’s pretty stupid
REZ: in obverse: an idea is only as much as its people
REZ: i could take the conventional stance, “those guys weren’t real scientists, how horrible they abused our system!”
REZ: but why would i do that?
REZ: people generally don’t reach that question because they just accept that science is correct
REZ: which it might or might not be
REZ: if we’re to believe the great message of science, that we’re always learning and 90% of what we knew 100 years is wrong today and 90% of what we know today will be wrong 100 years from now
REZ: it’s pretty plausible what we think of as “the scientific method” today will look fucking stupid in 100 years
REZ: in which case the only thing retained is the name
REZ: the brand
REZ: the marketing.
REZ: the religion.
REZ: and i don’t care about marketing that brand for free.
REZ: i’m gonna need to get paid.
LAX: I think it’s fair to assume that science is correct a decent amount of the time. But to place one’s entire faith into the results of science and accept it as fact, I completely disagree with too
REZ: i’m not going to assume science is correct even a decent amount of the time
LAX: I think the baseline of what science would change into (should) still remain the same
LAX: To compare them to computers, in 100 years our computers will be slow and basically useless
REZ: first of all stuff we actually operate on day to day doesnt rely on science
REZ: science today is string theory or other nonsense
LAX: But at their cores they’d still be the same fundamental idea
REZ: yes… a same fundamental brand.
REZ: an idea in your head and not related to anything that’s actually done.
LAX: The methods used to “extract data” would still remain fairly the same
REZ: you say this without any knowledge of how university researchers do things today or how university researchers did thing in the enlightenment.
LAX: I don’t need to know the tiny details of how they find things, like what equation they use, or what material etc
LAX: Those things will obviously change
LAX: The core of having an idea, then testing the idea, then retesting the idea should remain the same
LAX: Which is the core of what science is built on
LAX: If that were to change, and it still remained “science” that would be a problem
LAX: But if the catalyst in which science is preformed is changed that doesn’t really affect anything.
REZ: clearly it doesn’t exist anymore then, because 300 years ago a majority of experiments were actually done to retest other people’s ideas, these days everyone’s trying to do their own because that’s what gets published
REZ: which is why you hear about all these studies being done on some really specific super obscure shit that doesn’t matter
REZ: it’s “still science”
REZ: just like how people living in california can “still own a gun”
REZ: have fun marketing pointless research no one’s interested in for grant money and not being able to buy a rifle with a detachable magazine in the current year
LAX: Plenty of people still test old ideas with new variables to see if it still holds ups
LAX: Obiviously not a lot of people though
REZ: undergrads in chem 02a and that’s it.
REZ: you’re right though
REZ: chem 02a is mandatory, so “plenty of people” is an accurate statement.
LAX: Until someone finds a new variable to test the old things with, what would be the point of testing them with the same variables?
LAX: Thus people look for new variables and have to go through the bullshit procedure of getting funding
REZ: “what would be the point of testing them with the same variables”
REZ: well lets see
REZ: lets see if i cant find some textbook-like description of the pillars of science
REZ: actually i dont have to
REZ: you already conceded that the 1/2~2/3 story was true
LAX: Mhm
REZ: the only reason why that story matters is because reproducibility matters
REZ: if i do an experiment and you can’t reproduce it, that means, in science world, that something is wrong
REZ: whether you can’t won’t or don’t is irrelevant
REZ: that it isn’t means science either is dying or isn’t happening

Marketing, ideas, and sorting

I wonder how much can actually be paraded due to a combination of lack of expertise and trust in authority on the side of the audience and social shaming tactics on the side of the deliverer.

Seeing through solar roadways needs some understanding of engineering. Seeing through hyper-realistic portraits needs some understanding of drawing. Seeing through No Man’s Sky needed some understanding of programming or video game design.

Mass Effect Andromeda claims to not be able to make white characters because of the “textures” they used. The new Scorpio console says it’ll be better than the best PCs at the cost of one top-of-the-line PC component. Trump’s Syria attack is defended on the grounds that the president has more “intel”.

No one can be an expert on everything, but neither can one not trust in anything nor not care about others’ opinions. “Fuck haters” and “Question everything” are worse-than-nothing statements because the questions should be directed towards critical points.

I think analyzing people’s backgrounds, connections, and objectives bypasses these problems to a reasonable extent. These should be the baseline, with the “facts and evidence” on the “actual” issues as secondary, because the “actual facts” are more easily fabricated by quite a few orders of magnitude. There are people that lie about their work history, but at some point they leave a trail, and people even in the age of their internet for one reason or another generally don’t change names. Generally speaking peoples’ history of actions are hidden or missing rather than fabricated – the opposite of “actual facts”.

The people most worth looking into demonstrate this principle. Executives are the most powerful and their backgrounds generally aren’t in any “field” – Sooner will an executive of groceries become an executive of pharmaceuticals than a pharmacist, even though their degree might’ve been in partying sociology, or maybe never had a degree at all. Arguing a pharmaceutical executive’s, whether a CEO’s or a politician’s, decisions primarily on basis of biology or chemistry or medicine – or worse, morals – is the discussion level of peons.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Any person can expound about ideas. Even when talking about celebrity gossip and keeping up with the Joneses they’re basically talking about ideas. We even have a grammatically correct form of the word for personification: idols.

Expounding on people though is different. Beyond saying she likes cake or he goes weightlifting, can just any person accurately and effortlessly predict what some other person is going to do or say? They can’t. They can’t even fathom where to begin. Of course not, they can’t even understand the people they’ve spent years with!

“I thought you were going to do X.”
“Why in the hell would I do X? That never even occurred to me.”
“I dunno. Maybe you might’ve.”

But he sure does know what’s moral and what’s not or what’s the right thing to do in a certain situation of a field he only heard about two days ago! Just look at all these links and quotes from reputable sources he found on Google.

If only Google could predict what his friends were going to do too, then he could be just as confident and correct with people as he was with ideas. Such a lookup exists, it’s just not available at http://www.google.com, and is only available to advertisers, politicians running for head of state, and other big dollarydoo clients.

But it’s okay, because only small minds discuss people anyways.

Hit Detection

I stopped drawing to masturbate. I opened up Honey Select cause that’s what I wanted.

I proceeded to spend the next half a day in HS… not masturbating.

The “half day” part isn’t particularly important, even if I had paid closer attention to the time I probably still would’ve spent 30~60 minutes in HS before realizing I wasn’t doing what I stopped drawing for. Or to put it another way, I could’ve continued drawing for 30~60 more minutes, stopped, go instead to my porn folder, masturbated, then have the rest of the day to do whatever and it would’ve been more productive. I did learn some things in HS, but it’s not how I intended to spend my day[1].

What’s important is that I intended to do one thing and did something else instead. Today it was HS and masturbation. Past couple of months it’s been WOT and having fun. Past two decades it’s been school and happiness in life. In several memorable instances, it’s been humiliating acts and social acceptance.

If the effects of something couldn’t have been predicted it’s one thing, but I think this applies quite frequently to stuff that could have been known too.

I wanted to see what a certain gym was like once, and they did this hour-long spiel-plus-tour and revealed the rates and the existence of both a safety and an advance deposit almost after-the-fact, buried in a sea of text. And I signed it! Even if I couldn’t predict what sales tactics they’d use, I’d been to a different gym before which, within 10 seconds of me walking in the door and asking the front desk what the rates were, was shown a laminated single sheet with big numbers how much it’d cost if paid per 1mo, 3mo, 6mo, 1yr. No fancy ~lifestyle~ names about what this plan is called or that plan’s benefits are; this is the table of costs for a membership, if you want yoga classes it’s a separate charge. Unfortunately that gym is also basically bankrupt, even though it’s cheaper and in a better location. I don’t doubt the addition of predatory sales tactics and red-orange-green marketing strategies would up their numbers; in any case this sample size of 2 tells me that the majority of people go to a gym for reasons other than actually getting fit[2].

How can these occurrences be countered?

The more I revisit this the more things seem to come down to awareness and reactivity.

“Reactivity” is a word I made up which happens to exist; what I mean is to have decided on things beforehand and not budging from it after the decision. There is never a time where there is something to be gained from pondering new material in the moment – there’s no shame in losing, but if it happens, you are “at a loss”, and you should strive to avoid it in the future. An expectation should be set concretely, and results checked within a matter of minutes or seconds. If things have deviated from expectations, react strongly and reject any “alternatives”. Your expectation should have included them if they were reasonable, and if you were wrong, then better you learn later than be taken advantage of in the moment.

I walked into that gym thinking “it’d be nice” if they had a simple sheet like the other gym. I did ask what the prices were, but they asked me to sit down until they could have some [associate?] “walk me through” “the process”. Different companies have different naming conventions and slightly different ways of doing things… which is fine, so long as that “different” is still within the range of “stuff I’m okay with”, which should’ve stopped when the first thing the [associate?] gave me wasn’t a price table. At that point I should’ve interrupted him, stood up, literally why should I give a fuck about what they think of me it’s not like they’ll call my mother, they fail for one reason or another to present me the thing I want so the relationship is over. But no, because “I didn’t want to be a dick”[3], so I let him go on his spiel… wasting an hour of my life.

Opened HS thinking I’d get my dick wet then get back to work; didn’t have a day left when I was done. In this instance no one was there to exploit the weak point, so it probably could’ve gone a whole lot worse[4], but it still could’ve gone a whole lot better.

“Awareness”, other than the usual meaning, can primarily be augmented with some amount of other priorities. If you only have one thing to do and you’re actively trying to do something else that’s “temporary”, something not a major task and therefore lacks an “importance” value to it, “temporary” can become dangerously long. It’s clearer how important one thing is when there’s a handful (but not an overwhelming amount) of other things to serve as contrast. More rigidly, this means a schedule. Nothing is truly “scheduled” if there’s only one thing to do, but if multiple things have to be done within a certain timeframe then any “break” from one of them affects all of them.

In terms of training these two things videogames are probably terrible. Videogames will always automatically and without fail tell you whether something has or hasn’t happened. If you fire a bullet at an enemy you know if you did damage within a fraction of a second; if you fire a resume at an application you won’t know when you’ll know if it’s ever seen by human eyeballs again. Physics has instant hit detection but with people and ideas it exists sporadically. People even actively attempt to make it disappear by training themselves with ritual magic they call “politeness” and “professionalism”. Their actions generally reveal their intentions, but it can be difficult to see them if their words are marching the other way. In the end you have to decide where the cutoffs are, then follow your own instructions “blindly” until the event has passed. “Can’t bluff someone who isn’t paying attention”.

Upon browsing my old posts, it looks like I’ve written about this before on multiple occasions. At least the “decide for yourself beforehand” part. As for the other part, I have an ancient draft with a bunch of different ideas titled “What’s In A Name?”. Recently and unrelatedly, I’ve also collected in a txt a bunch of ideas under “what’s in a word”.

 

The mechanics of verbal deception is evidently my enduring topic.

 


[4] This “weak point” is probably how a lot of Free To Play games make their money.

[3] Read a bunch of ‘horror stories’ about commissioning amateur artists recently; this phrase was surprisingly common on a lot of them. One of them had an expected turnaround of about three months and let the thing go on for five years. This wasn’t some ten-dollar throwaway sketch either, it was a deposit of two grand USD.

I ended up getting my shit refunded from the gym the next morning. The internet has thankfully trained me to be pretty nitpicky stringent, but there are some really simple tricks I’ve noticed which completely undo my tendencies. Things which can be trained against but probably will always retain some power. Having to interact with people face-to-face is one. Lots of paperwork is another…

[2] I don’t have the numbers, but assuming what’s said about gyms right after New Year’s is true, I think it’s safe to say most people don’t actually get fitter after starting to go to the gym. Which is what you’d expect from people who aren’t going to the gym to get fit.

[1] For the curious, HS is a game which allows you to pose characters into sex positions.

But what will the idiots think?

The ability to sustain a disagreement is one of the qualities of power.

If you cede power to idiots, you will be ruled by idiots. Since idiots in power don’t exist: If you cede power to people determined to hold their opinion over yours, you will be ruled by people determined to hold their opinion over yours.

The idiots are just a convenient excuse which exploit the easiest chokepoint of human psychology. Oh no, we can’t offend nice little Billy Bob down the street! What will he think of us? What will he say to his friends? Until you say “fuck Billy Bob” you’re stuck whatever Billy Bob thinks. “Thinks” is generous; you really think Billy Bob thinks? He votes one way one year and the other way the next! Of course he has reputable sources. Of course he has arguments. But you get what you pay for, and reputable sources with analysis and evidence these days comes pretty cheap. Is that all it takes?

How cheap is it to stop you?

Why does the West feel the need to filter the fuck out of Japanese games before introducing them to the market?

Because they fear an uninformed consumer ,like a soccer mom or whatever, getting the game for themselves or possibly some kiddo like their child or whatever. And then if something objectionable, saucy, or even edgy that offends or bothers them they would shit up a dumb ignorant storm. So they get what they deemed is the worst and easiest things that would offend the uninformed dumb consumer soccer mom type person.

so dumb people essentially the remove/censor shit cause of dumb people and to avoid a stink that the dumbest of people tend to cause all to often.