Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, December 28, 2012

Entrepreneurial Scam and Skim Artists As Real Superheroes

I've grappled amusingly with a fellow who names himself "Mark Plus" a couple of times (for shits and giggles, please enjoy this and this). Part of what is interesting about this character is that he spent a long time as a Robot Cultist, but has become something of a vitriolic critic since he has grown quite a bit older and yet the whole techno-paradise check never seemed to get cashed. His writing has that special quality of pique one discerns in the anti-catholicism of lapsed Catholics in particular. (I would note that such anti-catholics are rather more than usually prone to death bed re-conversions.) He writes:
I've noticed from reading H+ literature over the decades that transhumanists tend to focus on superpowers based on athletic models, like super strength, stamina and agility; affective models, like super-empathy; and, of course, cognitive models, the usual super-intelligence fantasies. (This leaves out a really useful power, which I'll get to below.) Robert Ettinger published a book 40 years ago which explores many of those ideas, but the padawan transhumanists seem to have neglected it for the most part because they don't care about the history of this odd way of thinking about the human condition versus possible alternatives. My exasperation with the padawan transhumanists these days partly derives from my knowledge of H+ history and how the febrile visions from That '70's Transhumanism I grew up with haven't worked out.
I will note that it isn't always exactly clear if Mr., er, "Plus" is really a critic of Robot Cultism as such rather than really a kind of paleo-Robot Cult circa Ettinger/L5/Durk&Sandy dead-ender, but be that as it may he does make fairly withering observations about some of the nonsense the current crop of Robot Cultists characteristically spew. But what really interests me is that his ideological fall-back position from advocacy of Robot Cultism has been an advocacy of fairly straightforward right-wing white power and plutocracy politics.

Observe this curious formulation:
We already have people with apparent super-powers among us called "entrepreneurs," the most advanced of whom can make more money in a few years than most Americans can earn in several lifetimes. The U.S. government has an official policy of tracking and regulating the activities of such individuals because of the economic advantages they enjoy over ordinary mortals. We've already stepped onto the slippery slope to the outright persecution of such super-beings.
I do not think this is very far from what one hears from Ayn Rand, the same literal worship of plutocrats coupled to paranoid fantasies of the persecution of the most relentlessly pampered and privileged people in the history of the world (Rand actually wrote an unconsciously Swiftian number entitled "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business" howling about the tyranny of anti-trust laws in a world actually devoted to Too Big To Fail). I would note, as an aside, that the correlation goes both ways, once one recalls that the magical capitalist Bible Atlas Shrugged is stuffed with futurological conceits, John Galt's free-energy motor and hologram-hidden secret sooper-scientist base, Rearden's miracle metal, all the weird evopsycho crap about inherently subservient ladies aching for rape, and so on. But what seems revealing to me about Mark Plus's fallback from Robot Cultism into right-wing plutocratic white-power politics is that its intuitive plausibility as an ideological trajectory seems to me essentially facilitated by the extent to which the futurological is already deeply in service to corporate-military elite-incumbent interests rarely more than a hop, skip, and a jump away from white-racist plutocratic politics in the first place (one notes a correlate in the ultimate dependency of Movement Republicanism on the extreme Randroidal/ Friedmananian ideology and the fact that Randian pieties and Friedmanian libertarianism never had any autonomous political life except to the extent that they were imperfectly implemented in Movement Republican realpolitik):

It cannot be really that hard to grasp the extent to which futurological faith in techno-immortalism and nano-abundance and digital-utopia amounts to an amplification of consumer society's skin kreme/boner pill death-and-aging denialism and utterly fetishized gizmo-and-game-show acquiescence, or to grasp who benefits most from such aspirations and distractions. Neither can it really be that hard to grasp the extent to which futurological preoccupations with eugenic "enhancement" medicine, with the insistence on outsourcing politics to technocratic experts, with an "acceleration of acceleration" discourse that reframes neoliberal precarity as evidence of eternal triumphal civilizational progress in the direction of wordly paradise connect to racism, imperialism, manifest destiny, civilizing missions, western ethnocentrism. My point is not to declare Robot Cultists conscious and malignant white-racists and plutocrats (though there is more than enough of that to make sensible decent people profoundly uncomfortable), but to declare even those Robot Cultists who are avowed anti-racists and socialists are devoted to an ideological formation that structurally conduces to the benefit of corporate-military elite-incumbency in ways that should give even them pause, but which certainly render the whole enterprise hopefully reactionary for sensible people in general. Notice that this facet of the critique doesn't even touch on the inherent pseudo-scientificity and uncritically faith-based character of the belief system, both of which render Robot Cultism unacceptable for sensible people in general on entirely separate grounds.


Anonymous said...

There is another cyclic conversion dynamic in Transhumanism which involves oscillation between classical occultism and techo-fetishist utopianism. But this mixture of peanut butter and chocolate, once mixed is never completely separated again. There is strong overlap between something called a "chaos Magician Thelemite" and a good number of "rational" active Transhumanists. "A Nasty Mob" fits this type, and his once and future close associates. They both share a fascination with the pop philosopher Robert Anton Wilson, he is responsible for much of this muddle as he had a veneer of rationality.

Black guy from the future past said...

This guy Mark "Plus"(minus), Clearly is a racist piece of shit. And like most racist pieces of shit he clearly is an idiot. Buying into all types of nonsense like aristocracy, the usual right wing corporatism and racist nuttery and "cryonics". Oh well, when his old wrinkly white ass dies they will put him in the freeze tube aka "cryonics", where he will be mummified forever in ice. As all sane and rational people know, resurrection is in only in the bible. But these idiot cryonicists and transhumanist hucksters clearly haven't figured that out yet.

jimf said...

> There is strong overlap between something called a
> "chaos Magician[,]
> [ ]
> Thelemite"
> [ ]
> and a good number of "rational" active Transhumanists.

Well, the only place (after a desultory Google) I could
find the definitive statement "As a self-defined thelemic transhumanist. . ."
was in the comment thread of
though I suppose the association of occultism in one form
or another with either or both of "Terasem" and the
"Turing Church" wouldn't be too surprising -- these are both
more-or-less "mystical" branches of >Hism; "Terasem" declares
itself a "transreligion" (whatever that might be -- a religion
tailored for transhumanists, I suppose), and
Giulio Prisco's "Turing Church" is also a vehicle for annexing
>Hism to the religious impulses of the masses (something which Prisco has
written of as a **good** idea, rather than an association which
might be expected to increase sensible folks' skepticism about
>Hism). (And with a banner ad for
the "Kabbalah Center" in New York? Good grief! Well, maybe
Madonna can be recruited as a spokesperson for the Robot Cult.)

There is a similar flavor running through some of the
maunderings at "Khannea Suntzu's Nymious Mess
Quixotica Shamanica in the limbo of emerging memes"
which is also perhaps not too surprising.

There have also been allegations that various cryonicists
have flirted (whether seriously or not, who knows?) with
"Satanism" and/or an alleged "vampire cult".

L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Dianetics/Scientology) has also been
alleged to have had an association with occultist
Aleister Crowley (or one of his disciples)

And I had an aunt who was a Rosicrucian for a while. ;->

> "A Nasty Mob" fits this type, and his once and future close associates.

Hm. . . You wouldn't happen to be the same "Anon" who
offered up this remark in the comment thread of

"Michael Anissimov has taken up the occult as his area of focus
now. He is a self styled ‘chaos magician’ now and he puts on
“festivals” that focus on drugs, rave music and “art” covered
in classic occult symbols. The other people involved with him
are out and out, no bones occultists."

Well, I can help but wonder how "The Institute Formerly Known
As The Singularity Institute"
( cf.,c9346711 )
is going to react to having a publicity director (or outreach
director, or chief fundraiser, or whatever capacity he's in now --
hm. "Media Director" seems to be his current title )
who is an out-and-out occultist, if the allegation is

jollyspaniard said...

A lot of sucessful entrepenuers are lucky or crooked. You can tell this guy isn't an entrepeneur, since they don't tend to talk about each other in such fawning terms.

I speak from experience I made a fortune largely due to luck and charm and lost it due to crooked business partners (the flipside of my charm was gullibility. In all of my years of business I didn't witness any super powers. I did however observe a lot of unscrupulous behaviour. Folks who venerate the rich are browning their noses for no productive purpose.

jimf said...

> And like most racist pieces of shit he clearly is an idiot.

Sadly, he's clearly **not** an "idiot".

Be careful here, and do not fall into the seductive self-delusion
that people who are not "progressive" by one's own lights
cannot be very smart people indeed.

Just to give one example: William Shockley, a co-inventor of
the transistor (and one of the fathers of the still-continuing
microelectronics revolution) was a malignant racist (and a very
odd man -- often not in a nice way -- in more ways than one: ).

There are many, many example of people like that you
can find venting on the Web these days.

I used to be shocked (and not all that long ago) by my discovery,
as a result of coming into contact with the Internet, that
people can be brilliant and still be bigots of all kinds --
racists, anti-Semites, homophobes, and misogynists.

And a sadder fact is how apparent it is that such people cannot be
**talked** out their bigotry by "reason" or "argument".
They are often impervious to gentle persuasion -- and the
cleverer, the more so.

"Empathy" is orthogonal to "being smart" or "having a high
IQ". And for somebody low on empathy, being smart (and
**knowing** oneself to be smart) is yet another reason to
dismiss one's fellow human beings (or whole classes of
them) as not being worth the air they breathe.

Anonymous said...

A sizeable wing of the 'new young improved' transhumanists are self diagnosed "Asperger" "autistics" who rail at "neuro-typicals" and claim specifically that their lack of empathy, lack f ability to read social cues and specifically their sociopathy (they do indeed claim that specific word) makes them human+ and closer to the Great Robot. They make a lot of allusions to a "new evolution" of "mutant xmen" autistics as "homo superior." Brain damage makes a better (trans)human! whoda thunkit?

Dale Carrico said...

Etymologically interested word, "idiot" -- early 14C, "a person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning;" also in Middle English "simple man, uneducated person, layman" (late 14C), from O.Fr. idiote "uneducated or ignorant person" (12C), from L. idiota "ordinary person, layman; outsider," in L.L. "uneducated or ignorant person," from Gk. idiotes "layman, person lacking professional skill" (opposed to writer, soldier, skilled workman), lit. "private person (as opposed to one taking part in public affairs)," used patronizingly for "ignorant person," from idios "one's own" (see idiom).

While you are right to bristle against the suggestion that Mark Plus is demonstrated ineducable deficiency in any clinical sense, and very right to remind folks not to make the mistake of assigning stupidity either to ignorance or difference (a lesson we should all have learned by now), I do think there is an interesting suggestion in the word of the ways in which isolation from peers in the sense of seclusion or a lack of empathy can yield a kind of incapacity in perception and thought, a retreat from the world that yields dysfunction. I mean, I'm something a loner and not a joiner temperamentally and I certainly don't disdain independence of judgment, but I do think there are forms of isolation into pocket universes that produce a kind of idiocy worthy of the term.

Black guy from the future past said...

@jimf I know the world is far more complex than "us" vs "them", but in the context of his racism. The fact that he and many other individuals believe they are superior due to differences of melanin makes them quite clearly dumb. Just because I am calling them out on their idiocy doesn't mean I don't feel empathy toward them. Believe me I pity them. I pity that they would deny the equity of humanity over something so superficial as skin color.

Dale Carrico said...

Brain damage makes a better (trans)human!

I must say I do not sympathize with the suggestion that anybody who might be posited to be on the autism spectrum should be thought of as brain damaged. I do sympathize with a measure of the politics of differently enabled folks who refuse enforced morphological norming or neurotypicality in the name of eugenic "optimality" or even as homogenizing "ends in themselves."

Much of my problem here arises from my sense of the incredible looseness of the notion of autism spectrum especially given what seems to be its growing popularity as an explanatory/ justificatory figure in public discourse. I daresay self-identification with the spectrum re-framed as super-humanizing is a compensation for abusive assignments to the spectrum that are abjecting. Neither move seems to me particularly useful.

Equity-in-diversity is a democratic virtue, and a fraught one. I default to a generous sense of consent -- where legibly informed and nonduressed citizens affirm wanted lifeways that pose no harm I tend to support them, whether they are normal or not. The legibility of consent imposes some limits on diversity itself, beyond that I think we need to be awfully careful.

Anonymous said...

MRI and PET scans of firmly diagnosed autistic individuals show consistent patterns of brain damage - lesions and inactive areas.

Anonymous said...

Autistic Behavior Linked to Several Brain Areas in Children with Tuberous Sclerosis

St. Paul, Minn. – More than one area of the brain is responsible for autistic behavior in children with tuberous sclerosis and brain lesions, according to an article published in the October 9 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study included 26 children with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic disorder that causes benign lesions or tumors to form in many different organs, including the brain where the lesions are called "tubers." Autism is a common occurrence in children with TSC.

Researchers used MRI and PET exams to study how the brain lesions resulted in common behaviors of autism including difficulties in social interaction and communication, and narrow and repetitive stereotyped behavior.

"We wanted to know if where the tuber was located or what it was "doing" in the brain could predict behaviors of autism," said Diane C. Chugani, PhD, a researcher at the PET Center at Children''''s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan. "We found that in these children, autism results from a complex combination of events in different parts of the brain, rather than from one single source."

For example, Chugani said the study showed biochemical abnormalities in the brain''s outer layer (the cortex) had a major impact on the children''s communications skills. However, changes in the brain regions beneath the cortex (subcortical circuits) resulted in the development of stereotypical behaviors and lack of social interaction.

The study of autism in children with TSC and other specific genetic disorders will provide clues about the causes of autism in general, said Chugani.

Anonymous said...

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Brain scans done on groups of men with autism show distinct differences in both the volume of specific regions and the activity of cells that signal a possible immune response, two new studies suggest.

Scientists in England and Japan used MRI and PET (positron emission tomography) scans to examine brain-based anatomical and cellular variations in those with autism. But the disparities -- while offering a deeper glimpse into the little-understood developmental disorder -- raised more questions about its cause and treatment that only further research can answer.

"There's really strong evidence now that the immune system appears to be playing a role in autism, but we just don't know what that role is," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, who was not involved in either study. "There is such an urgent need for more research to understand the causes and more effective treatment for autism. Autism has really become a public health crisis, and we need to respond to this by greatly increasing the amount of research conducted so we can help families find answers."

The studies were published online in this week's issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

Affecting one in 88 children in the United States, autism is characterized by pervasive problems in social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive and restricted behavioral patterns and interests.

The Japanese study examined the brains of 20 men with autism using PET scans to focus on so-called microglia. These are cells that perform immune functions when the brain is exposed to "insults" such as trauma, infection or clots. The PET images indicated excessive activation of microglia in multiple brain regions among those with autism when compared to a group of people without the disorder.

"This really raised the question about what the role is of these abnormalities," said Dawson, who also is a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. "Is this something that could help us explain the causes of autism? Is it a reaction to autism, or the brain's response to developing in an unusual way?"

Dale Carrico said...

"Autism spectrum" is also a DISCOURSE, very loosely formulated and yet generating very real effects of stigma (or worse) in its assignment, arising out of a historical context in which medical diagnoses regularly function to police arbitrary bourgeois norms, playing out in a current American context in which hyper-individualism is asserted while conformity is ferociously enforced.

I do not deny the existence of the condition, I do not deny the utility of treatments, I am simply insisting on care in judgment in the face of ambiguity. But, to be clear, neither do I countenance another hysterical public health panic from Americans driven by a perfect storm of authoritarian predilection and media sensationalism.

It is interesting that you publish this wall of evidence as if my call to recognize context and some nuances here is tantamount to denialism about mental health problems. Quite to the contrary, I regard mental health problems as rampant, and their stigmatization and mischaracterization exacerbates these problems terribly -- almost as much as lack of funding for public support does, to the extent that these issues can even be disentangled.

Anonymous said...

I merely wanted to present a small bit of the hard evidence for autism having its origins in organic brain dysfunction and consistently observed patterns of damage.

Anonymous said...

yes, I have read my Thomas Szasz!


jimf said...

> "Autism spectrum" is also a DISCOURSE, very loosely formulated
> and yet generating very real effects of stigma (or worse) in
> its assignment. . .

Of course, for many people it's a **release** from stigma in
its "assignment".

Given certain distinctive (and often socially offensive)
behavioral manifestations -- the meltdown of
a child in a shopping mall or on an airplane or in a classroom,
for example -- it's a **defense** to be able to produce a (formal diagnosis
of) Autism Spectrum rather than to have to face the stigma
of being a bad parent or having a badly-disciplined child.
In some cases, having documentation of a formal diagnosis on hand
might even avoid serious trouble -- arrest and criminal prosecution --
after an unfortunate encounter between a family member and the police.

In the case of adults, for whom the "diagnosis" is not usually a
professionally-bestowed one but often a **self**-chosen one as
a result of having come into contact with either the popular
literature on Autism Spectrum or an on-line support group,
the label is often seen (by the self-diagnoser) as liberation from
a lifetime's burden of guilt and shame after many
years of never having fit in.

For married couples, the "realization" (the self-chosen labelling)
that a partner is on the Autism Spectrum can sometimes actually save
a marriage, where the alternative might have been the dismissal
of a partner as simply being selfish or insensitive.

In some cases, the formal label is the only way to obtain
social services to which a family may be legally entitled,
and the cooperative psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker doing
the "stigmatizing" may actually have to resort to "fudging"
the diagnosis (not outright lying, but gerrymandering
the admittedly ambiguous boundaries among competing classifications)
in order to meet the local legal criteria necessary to get the
desired services.

Of course this motivated labelling interacts with political
biases. Someone on the political left wing might well might resist
any labelling as "stigmatizing", while someone else on the left -- maybe
somebody closer to the actual day-to-day problems of people or families with
difficulties -- might welcome (or even demand) the labelling as a means of
diverting blame and punishment or as a strategy for getting help.

For the same reasons, a person on the political right might dismiss
all such "medicalizing" of "bad behavior" as a morally-bankrupt
means of evading personal responsibility. Those screaming kids don't
need taxpayer-funded social services! They just need
a swift kick in the pants!

And so it goes. I've heard that in the upcoming DSM V,
"Asperger's Syndrome" is going away, to be subsumed under
a formal diagnosis of "Autistic Spectrum Disorder" (which
has been floating around as a more-or-less informal
notion for a while now). That's another thing -- among
the professionals who come up with these schemata, the
choice between recognizing a "spectrum" disorder or
condition, versus postulating a discrete category (which
you either are or you ain't), is often hotly contested.

jimf said...

It is true that in the context of this blog, suggesting
that many (or most) transhumanists are on the Autism Spectrum
(something I find plausible enough myself ;-> ) could
be dismissed as an underhanded, ad hominem rhetorical
strategy intended to diminish the credibility of their
discourse by suggesting that it comes from a psychologically
defective source. While I wouldn't necessarily accept
that bald and naive version of such a dismissal, I think that
the psychology of the >Hists, whether one is talking
about Autism Spectrum or the Narcissistic Personality/
Sociopathic/Psychopathic "spectrum", is indeed pertinent
to an evaluation of their overall message. Of course,
self-identified >Hists can simply reverse this attack
(and have done so) by claiming that their prevalent aneurotypicality
frees them to partake of a superior cognition denied
to socially-enmeshed and emotion-driven "normals".
(As a matter of fact, I think the first time I ever
encountered the term "neurotypical" was in an article
about the Singularity from the 90s.)

Dale Carrico said...

Definitely I am not one to cast stones here, since I call Robot Cult arguments, assumptions, aspirations, conduct coo-coo bananas, crazytown, batshit crazy and so on all the time as a way of testifying to their nonsensicality by my lights. No doubt this is because I am a ve-r-r-r-y ba-a-a-a-d ma-a-a-n and so on and so forth, but I suppose it is worth noting that I do not mean these expressions of ridicule and exasperation to be read as clinical diagnoses, of a kind I am not qualified to make not being, you know, a psychologist or anything. Not to mention that one would surely want to have the individuals in question actually on the couch even if one were a psychologist to make such a diagnosis and the fact is that I don't really know any of these people as people, although I have met and conversed with more of them more often than you might think. Anyway, one would think all this could be taken for granted, but a-s-s out of u-and-me and all that, right? That diagnosis can function as de-stigmatizing and empowering as well is something I didn't mention in pointing out that it can be stigmatizing and disempowering, and it is a point well taken. These issues really are fraught, and it doesn't take long for me to get the worried feeling I am afield from my experience and training and apt to do more harm than good in working through the issues out loud.

jimf said...

> from my experience and training and apt to do more
> harm than good in working through the issues out loud.

This reminds me of an Op-Ed piece I saw in the NY Times
Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia
by Paul Steinberg
December 25, 2012
(Paul Steinberg is a psychiatrist in private practice.)

Too many pendulums have swung in the wrong directions
in the United States. I am not referring only to the
bizarre all-or-nothing rhetoric around gun control,
but to the swing in mental health care over the past
50 years: too little institutionalizing of teenagers
and young adults (particularly men, generally more
prone to violence) who have had a recent onset of
schizophrenia; too little education about the public
health impact of untreated mental illness; too few
psychiatrists to talk about and treat severe mental
disorders. . .

Instead we have too much concern about privacy, labeling
and stereotyping, about the civil liberties of people
who have horrifically distorted thinking. . .

People with schizophrenia are unaware of how strange their
thinking is and do not seek out treatment. At Virginia Tech,
where Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people in a rampage shooting
in 2007, professors knew something was terribly wrong,
but he was not hospitalized for long enough to get well.
The parents and community-college classmates of
Jared L. Loughner, who killed 6 people and shot and
injured 13 others (including a member of Congress) in
2011, did not know where to turn. We may never know
with certainty what demons tormented Adam Lanza,
who slaughtered 26 people at an elementary school in
Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, though his acts strongly
suggest undiagnosed schizophrenia.

I write this despite the so-called Goldwater Rule, an
ethical standard the American Psychiatric Association
adopted in the 1970s that directs psychiatrists not to
comment on someone’s mental state if they have not
examined him and gotten permission to discuss his case.
It has had a chilling effect. After mass murders,
our airwaves are filled with unfounded speculations about
video games, our culture of hedonism and our loss of
religious faith, while psychiatrists, the ones who know
the most about severe mental illness, are largely
marginalized. . .

jimf said...

Personality disorders and other conditions (such as
autism or bipolar disorder) that do not cross the line
into outright psychosis and that do not threaten incipient
violence (but can still be terrifically destructive to
people's lives and the lives of people around them)
are perhaps even more ethically fraught, as you
say, when it comes to careless speculation, than schizophrenia.
But I'd say there are **still** cases where the ordinary
layman would do well to know something about what
to watch out for when they're about to enter
the orbit of a new acquaintance.

For example, prospective parents of adoptive children would do
well to know something about the symptoms and
prognoses of kids who have failed to bond emotionally
with a primary caregiver. Better to read all the
horror stories and know the potential risks in advance than
to have your first lesson in attachment disorder come
when the house burns down, possibly with you and your
other kids in it.

Similarly, anybody finding themselves getting drawn into
a romantic attachment, or contemplating forming a
business partnership, or even contemplating taking a job,
would do well to know something about psychopathy,
borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality

And certainly ordinary folks, especially young people,
would do well to know something about cults and
the guru-follower dynamic.

I think books like the following are of use to the
general public. Other people may think they're just
nonfiction thrillers, selling titillation and paranoia.

jimf said...

> ". . .has taken up the occult as his area of focus
> now. He is a self styled ‘chaos magician’ now and he puts on
> “festivals” that focus on drugs, rave music and “art” covered
> in classic occult symbols. The other people involved with him
> are out and out, no bones occultists."

Not to beat a dead horse here, but I'm wondering if the
"chaos magic" connection isn't the very same Rachel Haywire we've
been hearing so much about recently.

The term occurs on
Is Transhuman Militance a Threat to H+?
By: Rachel Haywire
Published: March 8, 2011

. . .

Editor’s Postscript:

. . .

If you’re interested in more of Rachel Haywire’s ideas. . .,
for instance her writings about transhumanism and chaos magic in the
Disinformation anthology Generation hex. . .

> . . .“festivals” that focus on drugs, rave music and “art”. . .

Which might, I suppose, be a reference to
"Extreme Futurist Festival
December 21-22 ::: Los Angeles
. . .
XFF is organized by Rachel Haywire, Christopher Jannette,
Nicholas Carlough, and Sean Humphries."

There was also one the previous year:
"In the video above Rachel Haywire talks about her ideas for the
Extreme Futurist Festival. . . Her dream of bringing the intellectual
and artistic communities together in which the best minds
of science, technology, and alt-culture unite was brought
into reality through working with Michael Anissimov of the
Singularity Institute. After working on the Singularity Summit
Michael decided to give XFF his attention due to having a
similar vision for Transhumanism."

XFF 2011 is also mentioned at

which in turn leads to

I can believe that the kerfuffle about "Rachel Haywire"
(reflected in the recent puzzling spate of Anonymous postings
on **this** blog) has to do with more than Ms. Haywire's
allegedly having been "fired" as editor of h+ for publishing
a piece by Dale. Apart from the darker
allegations mentioned in some of these Anonymous posts, there
are associations here (the "chaos magic" stuff) that must
be setting off alarm bells among some of the >Hist higher

Let's hope our pal Michael Anissimov didn't get tarnished
too badly by getting mixed up in all this (at least, if he
didn't clearly know what he was getting into -- if he
**did**, that's another story).

Anyway. . . Ick.

jimf said...

> jollyspaniard said...
> A lot of sucessful entrepreneurs are lucky or crooked. . .
> I speak from experience I made a fortune largely due to
> luck and charm and lost it due to crooked business partners
> (the flipside of my charm was gullibility).

You must have loved _The Social Network_.

At least Eduardo Saverin eventually got some of his
(**how** much was never publicly disclosed)
back, in court, after having been screwed up down and sideways
by Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, and Peter Thiel. And even the
despised Winklevi got a hefty consolation prize in the end.
Though only Zuckerberg got to be "the world's youngest
billionaire." (Much good may it do him.) Of course
a true Randroid would say that Saverin and the Winklevi
were merely facilitated in parasitizing Zuckerberg's
well-deserved fortune by the big bad government.

From a Charlie Rose interview with Linus Torvalds
(Friday, May 18, 2001, following
the publication of _Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary_
by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond )
Charlie Rose: Let me just ask for some impressions, OK?
Um, one. . . a good friend of mine. . .
Bill Joy.

Linus Torvalds: Hm, hm.

Rose: What do you think of him?

. . .

Torvalds: [H]e's actually one of the few nice
guys I met [in Silicon Valley]. I mean, a lot of the,
like, high-powered. . . Maybe I shouldn't say this.

Rose: Oh yes you should.

Torvalds: A lot of the high-powered people aren't very

Rose: Really?

Torvalds: Yeah.

Rose: Well, name some names here. Who are we talking

Torvalds: No, I'm not going to name names.
Usually. . .

Rose: You weren't thrilled. . . didn't come away with
a great. . . when you met. . . When you met Steve Jobs,
you said "he's everything. . ."

Torvalds: . . . that people say he is.
But see, I kind of like that.

Rose: He's authentic to what his impression. . . his
initial. . .

Torvalds: Absolutely, and it's interesting meeting people
who are that driven and who live in their own world.
That's true of people like Richard Stallman too, who is
one of the "gods" of open-source programming. He's so driven,
he's so self-assured, just because he **knows** what he
does is right. And it's very interesting meeting people like
that. You may not **like** them, as people, but they're
Among successful entrepreneurs, for example, [Dominik Schwarzinger
and Matthias Kramer, who are researching the entrepreneurial personality]
see higher incidences of three particular traits: self-regard
and narcissism, manipulation and trickery (known as Machiavellianism)
and — perhaps most disturbingly — what they refer to as
“subclinical psychopathy”. This trio is what psychologists call
the “dark triad”.

See also:

"The New New Boss" by Michael Maccoby
Research Technology Management;
Volume 44. No. 1. January-February, 2001

"Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons"
by Michael Maccoby, _Harvard Business Review_, Jan-Feb 2000

jimf said...

> No doubt this is because I am a ve-r-r-r-y ba-a-a-a-d ma-a-a-n

No, my dear. You're just a very bad wizard. ;->