Archive for June, 2018

My Thoughts on the Systemic Scam Underlying Tesla Motors: 2

June 30, 2018 37 comments

In my previous post in this series, I made the point that there many similarities between the overall career trajectories of Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk than most want to acknowledge. Based on the comments section of that post, it appears that some of you think that comparing a now-disgraced con artist with your favorite secular prophet du jour is unfair. Some of you might also think that Theranos, unlike SpaceX or Tesla Motors, was a complete con-job based on an unsound idea and totally fabricated results. The reality, however, is far more complex and nuanced.

But before we go there, let us talk about another facet of the almost uniquely american scam known as a technology based startup based in, or around, Silly Valley. To be more specific, let us focus on the type of people who start or are the public face of such corporations. I recently came across an interesting article which made an argument about entrepreneurship in USA that I also made in the past. To summarize, the article says that all entrepreneurs who achieve any lasting level of success in USA are scammers and con-artists who just got really lucky.

In other words, all those Silly Valley entrepreneurs constantly promoting their “disruptive” and “innovative” product or service “which will change the world” are just scam artists who have found the right elevator pitch, facial mannerisms and organisational image to sell to gullible fanboys and cynical banksters who will lend them other people’s money. Being a successful entrepreneur in USA is now almost exclusively about having the right image and sales pitch in addition to pushing emotional buttons in rubes rather than delivering even a fraction of what was promised.

To be fair, none of this is really new and american rubes have been enthusiastically buying snake oil of all types since the nation was founded. What is, however, different now is that real world technological progress (as in improvement) has stalled for at least a decade (and more) in many fields. Don’t believe me? Look at trends in life-expectancy (even for the super-rich), increasingly crappy quality of your smartphone and laptop, the almost complete lack of any major medical advance (to treat common diseases) for well over a decade.. I could keep go on.

This combination of very obvious (if largely unspoken) technological stagnation combined with sequelae of 2008 financial crisis has drained public faith from most american institutions. It is also partially the reason why Trump was elected in 2016. Another consequence of this (richly deserved) loss of faith in traditional institutions is that any slick con-man or con-woman with some TED-Talker skills can successfully start a new corporate cult. Even recycled scam sellers, such as Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich, can make tons of money and gather an army of “followers”. And those two are not even the worst offenders of their sub-genre.

So how is the scam perpetrated by somebody like Elizabeth Holmes, Elon Musk or any other Silly Valley CEO different from the dietary supplements and self-help books hawked by Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich. Well.. for starters, Silly Valley scams are based around a core of truth or plausibility. For example, lithium-ion battery based electric cars with decent performance have been feasible since late 1990s, United Launch Alliance (ULA) was abusing its rocket launch monopoly in USA by charging outrageous rates and advancements in medical diagnostic technology have reduced the specimen size necessary conducting each test.

It is therefore reasonable to start corporations to explore development and commercialization of better electric cars, cheaper rocket launchers and diagnostic tests which are faster and can use a smaller specimen size (or volume). So what makes Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Theranos scams rather than somewhat respectable businesses? Well.. as I have said in previous posts, it comes down to the dreams they are selling to their fanboys and investors. For example, SpaceX would be a perfectly normal business if it promoted itself as a launch company with cost-competitive rocket launchers. But that is not what its public image and market valuation are based on.

Instead the market valuation of SpaceX is based on believing their hilarious claims about lunar tourism, colonization of mars and monopolizing the global space launch market. To put it another way, they are selling a series of highly implausible dreams. Similarly, as I mentioned in previous post of this series that, Tesla Motors public image in USA and stock valuation are based on the belief that it will displace Toyota, GM, Hyundai etc as the premier and other dominant automobile manufacturer in the world. It also presupposes that electric cars will somehow magically replace gasoline/diesel cars throughout the world, within the next 15 years. If you don’t believe me, have a look at market valuation of automobile manufacturers (including Tesla Motors) versus the number of vehicles they sell per year.

But what does any of this have to do with the saga of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. As it turn out.. a lot. The idea underlying Theranos, namely miniaturizing medical diagnostic tests such that they require very small amounts of blood or other bodily fluids, is fairly reasonable. In fact, some technologies that it was trying to incorporate into its own system has been previously shown to work well- perhaps not well enough or with very small volumes- but work well enough to merit further development. The problem with Elizabeth Holmes, her ‎Svengali (Ramesh Balwani), and the upper management of that company was that they over-promised to the point where they could not deliver anything close to what they promised.

It did not help that they apparently had an insufficient grasp of the technological aspects of whatever they were trying to promote. To make matters worse, they tried to scam their way out of this self-inflicted disaster by doing a variety of illegal things- from using diagnostic systems from other manufacturers to make it appear that their own system worked, abusing and threatening their employees and a whole lot more. But more importantly, through all of this Elizabeth Holmes continued peddling the scam under the guise of “female empowerment”, dressing like the next Steve Jobs, speaking in a fake voice and much more.

Curiously (or not), she had no trouble finding tons of rich, famous and allegedly smart people who were willing to invest millions and billions in her scam. Theranos started to implode only after it became too obvious that she pulling an enormous scam. Even then, many of her rich financial backers kept expressing confidence in her abilities. So what was the reason behind the now divergent fates of Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk. Well.. in my opinion, Elon Musk got lucky because he built his companies around ideas which could survive a quick back-of envelope calculation.

Electric cars with decent performance and relatively inexpensive RP-1/LOX rocket launchers were either already feasible or mature technology for at least a few years before he started Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Elizabeth Holmes, on the other hand, tried to pull of a scam in an area which lacked a similar base of proven technology. She chose poorly and was unlucky. But make no mistake- their main business model was, and still is, selling people and investors on their dreams of “technological disruption, “unlimited profits” and “market monopolization”. And that is why Elizabeth Holmes is an unlucky female version of Elon Musk.

What do you think? Comments?

NSFW Links: Jun 28, 2018

June 28, 2018 Leave a comment

These links are NSFW. Will post something more intellectual tomorrow.

Beach Cuties with Sunglasses: Jun 28, 2018 – Cuties on the beach, wearing only sunglasses.

Doggystyled Amateur Cuties: Jun 28, 2018 – Amateur cuties taking it, doggystyle.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized

My Thoughts on the Systemic Scam Underlying Tesla Motors: 1

June 23, 2018 41 comments

As regular readers know, I have previously written a couple of posts (link 1, link 2) on the fraud underling SpaceX’s claims of “disrupting” and “revolutionizing” the space launcher industry. To summarize the gist of both posts, my issues with their business model are largely centered on the hilariously optimistic claims made by them about future prospects for basically unlimited growth and market monopolization. While becoming yet another boring but reliable player in the international launch market is feasible for them, it is clear that they selling far bigger dreams without being honest about it.

Now, if you thought that this post would make a similar case against Telsa motors, you guessed right! As you will soon see, my issues with the business model of Tesla Motors and its borderline hypomaniac CEO, Elon Musk, have nothing to do with the feasibility of building an electric car with acceptable performance and mileage. Even a brief overview of the history of technological developments (especially rechargeable lithium batteries) as they relate to building viable electric automobiles shows that viable electric cars were possible anytime after the late 1990s.

But before we go any further, let us talk a bit more about what has historically been the single largest obstacle to developing viable and competitive electric cars. Yes.. I am talking about the energy density of rechargeable batteries, aka the source of energy for such vehicles. As some of you might know, electric cars and conventional gasoline powered cars came onto the market at around the same time, over a hundred years ago. Even more interestingly, early electrical cars were quite competitive with their contemporary gasoline-powered competitors.

What ultimately doomed electric cars by the late 1910s was that their range on single charge just could not keep up with the steadily improving performance of gasoline powered cars. Also, the extent of electrification necessary to make such short-range cars viable was simply not there till after WW2. In contrast to that, gasoline was easy to transport, store and cars using it had much better range, speed in addition to being much less expensive to drive per mile or kilometer. Lead acid batteries, you see, have a pretty shitty energy density (as in almost 70-80 times lower) when compared to gasoline and an equivalent amount of electric energy was (and still is) more expensive than gasoline or diesel.

The energy density of modern lithium-ion batteries is now only 10-20 times lower than gasoline, which while still being sorta shitty, is good enough to power cars with decent performance and range- largely because electric motors are lighter than equivalent internal-combustion engines and the former do not require conventional transmissions. Problems related to the speed of recharging such vehicles and storing electricity cheaply on a large-scale do however still remain, as do issues related to using them in less populated areas without a reliable electrical grid. In other words, electric cars are still a niche product.

To make matters worse for electric cars, their gasoline (and diesel) powered competitors have benefited from over a century of continuous improvements. The technology behind them is mature and very well understood, as is the ability to produce them at very high quality levels on ginormous scales. There is a reason why you can buy a new Toyota Corolla for a fairly affordable price and expect it to run almost half a million kilometers with basic maintenance and relatively inexpensive repairs. The real competition for Tesla cars are not other electric- or luxury gasoline- powered cars but your humble Toyota Corollas, Honda Accords and Hyundai Sonatas.

Which brings us to the first problem specific to Tesla Motors. Simply put, they motors has yet to produce, or even demonstrate the technological wherewithal for making, cars which can directly compete against their highly optimized mass-market gasoline powered competitors. If you don’t believe me, compare the price of a fully loaded Toyota Corolla and a Tesla 3. Did I mention that you can buy a Corolla right now, while the status of full-scale Tesla 3 production is still up in the air. Did I mention that they have been having these problems for over a year now, unexpected departure of many senior executives and issues ranging from the poor product quality to thoughtless design choices. I could go.. but you get the point.

Even worse, the Chevy Volt which has specs very similar to a base level Tesla 3 has proven to a poor seller. To put it another way, the real reason Tesla Motors still has a (now rapidly shrinking) waiting list for their cars is largely due to the cache of owning a Tesla car, rather than electric cars being competitive with gasoline powered ones. This is somewhat like there being a prestige market for rabbit droppings if rabbits suddenly went extinct. But what happens once the prestige market for Tesla cars get tapped out?

As readers might know only too well, most people buy cars to use them as appliances. It certainly helps if a car looks good or is considered cool, but as even a quick glance will demonstrate, most people are quite happy to drive mediocre-looking beige boxes as long as they are reliable and affordable to own. The unpleasant fact is that there are simply not enough customers for quirky prestige cars for Tesla Motors to cause any real “disruption” in the automobile manufacture business. And we have not even started talking about Tesla cars being especially susceptible to malicious hacking, safety issues resulting from lack of physical controls for many basic functions, finding raw materials to manufacture lithium-ion batteries on the scale they are talking about.

In the next part of this series, I will talk about the rather peculiar similarities between the overall career profile of Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk. Yes.. she is the CEO of that now disgraced company which was able to fool investors, bankers and other “experts” for almost 15 years. As I will show you in the next post, both Elon Musk and that woman are purveyors of what I call the “Silicon Valley Scam”, which is largely based on making highly exaggerated claims based on a kernel of reality and appealing to the “optimism” of clever idiots in Silly Valley with empty lives to part with their money. But there is much more to that scam as you will find about in the next part of this series.

What do you think? comments?

Blowback to ‘MeToo’ Movement in Entertainment Industry is Inevitable

June 18, 2018 28 comments

In the past few months, we have seen a number of famous and not-so-famous people in the entertainment industry (almost exclusively men) being accused of sexual harassment by often previously unknown accusers (almost exclusively women) resulting in the former losing their jobs or careers. More relevantly for the rest of this post, many of these accusations are based on accepting woman accuser’s word as the truth and lack of due process for accused. Even being a bit allegedly “mean” to women is now sufficient for femfists and their dickless ‘male allies’ to act like lynch mobs on social media platforms.

The list of men in the entertainment industry who have been accused of sexual harassment or just being too “mean” and “disrespectful” to women is long and ever-growing. Curiously, many of those accused were once big supporters of the same feminist bullshit which has now screwed them over. It is, therefore, hard to feel much sympathy for guys who once enthusiastic supported really bad ideas such as “women can do no wrong or lie” or “women are always morally superior to men”. Perhaps they thought that mouthing platitudes about, and expressing support for, feminism would somehow protect them from such accusations. Guess what.. it did not!

Moving on.. we have now reached the point where basically any women can accuse any male celebrity she interacted, or had repeated consensual sex, with anything from sexual harassment, emotional abuse, sexual assault or pretty much anything else even if she had zero proof that her allegations are true. The recent examples of some starfucker accusing Aziz Ansari of sexual assault and Chris Hardwick being accused of sexual assault and emotional cruelty by his ex-girlfriend (who is quite the headcase) are particularly instructive since they show that feminists are striving for a ‘brave new world’ where consent can be revoked after the fact.

So here is a somewhat unpleasant, but realistic, prediction of the type of blowback we might soon see in response to men losing their livelihoods and careers over accusations which could not have been successfully prosecuted in a court of law. Spoiler.. the term ‘blowback’ will assume a whole new meaning in this context. Faced with the destruction of their career and lack of due process, a small percentage of men accused in this manner might decide that killing their accuser is the most appropriate response to such accusations. To be clear, I neither condone, nor condemn such a response- just pointing out that sooner or later, something along these lines is inevitable.

And there are a couple of well-known precedents for this sort of reaction. Most of you must have heard or read about at least a few cases of men killing their ex-wives or ex-partners because of a perception that civil court system was very unfair to them during their divorce or child-custody hearings. Well.. what is the real difference between a guy who lost his house during a divorce which he did not initiate and an actor losing his career because of accusations which cannot be proven in a court of law? Not much, and the later example is potentially worse than the former.

Another precedent for such reactions comes from looking at the profile of mass shooters in USA. With a few exceptions, mass shooters tend to chronically single or functionally incel men with poor job and career prospects for the future. The corporate media and every other discredited institutions can blame ‘mental health’ all they want, but the fact that some men who would rather go on rampage shootings or overdose themselves with opioids says far more about that society than the men. To summarize, we have seen violent blowback from men in similar situations and under similar constraints.

The psychological profile of those who work in entertainment industry tends towards higher levels of risk taking and emotional responses than average. I mean.. look at the incidence of addiction, overdosing, risky sexual behavior etc prevalent in that group versus the general population. It would therefore be not surprising if we started seeing a few men subject to such kangaroo court trials by social media decide to make their accuser pay for her accusations. While it hard to predict when such a trend will become public, everything we know about human behavior and responses makes it almost inevitable.

What do you think? Comments?

More Thoughts on the Snake Oil Salesman du jour, Jordan Peterson: 3

June 16, 2018 24 comments

In my previous post about this snake oil salesman, I made the point that his sudden rise to fame was due to lack of competition in combination with a rapidly growing number of disillusioned, young and mostly white men. And this brings us to the question as to how so many young white men lost faith in the status quo. Well.. the detailed answer to that question is long and complex.

The most compact version goes something like this: post-WW2 prosperity in the west and the resultant false equilibrium favoring white men kept alive an older belief that white men were somehow inherently superior and the “chosen people”. As the course of events within the last two decades have shown, that particular belief turned out to be erroneous.

So what do people of average-ish intelligence do after being faced with the reality that they are not special or chosen? Historically speaking, they double down on their beliefs and seek clever charismatic people who are happy to tell them what they want to hear for the right price. That is how Mussolini, Hitler and other fascistic leaders got into power in the post-WW1 era. That is also why various “holy men” in ridiculous costumes command the devotion of millions in India.

Even before the rise of Jordan Peterson, signs of this problem were plainly visible to anyone who was willing to see them. Ever wonder why there were so many american cop and detective shows in the 1990-2010 era in which they were portrayed as smart and fair? What about all those TV shows and movies from that same era where the american army was portrayed as invincible? Or the current obsession with superhero movies?

Sadly, there is always a market for material which makes defeated rubes feel relevant and good about themselves. But there is more to snake oil than simply reassuring people that things will be all right or the previous status quo will magically return. All successful snake oil salesmen also peddle hope under the guise of “self-improvement”. To be clear, I am not against the concept of providing people help to improve the quality of their lives.

My issue with “self-improvement” material comes down to laughably fraudulent claims made by its purveyors. Reading a book on how to become a millionaire might help you make a few better financial decisions, but it is unlikely to make you rich. Similarly trying to become a venture capital funded entrepreneur or working for a startup is unlikely to make you rich, though it may make you more cynical about humanity and less likely to make bad career decisions in your future.

But that is not how most defeated rubes see the world. They actually believe that following the instructions in some book, podcast or YouTube channel will make them super rich, sexually irresistible or whatever else is being peddled. The cleverest snake oil salesman sell contemporary fantasies and can thus enter a new market. There is a reason why books about ‘game’ sold like hot cakes in the last decade, but would not have had that success in previous decades.

As I said in my previous post, Jordan Peterson is peddling a particular fantasy which appeals to kind of people who, in a previous era, would have held CONservative beliefs. The problem with the fantasy he is selling are twofold. Firstly- his empty platitudes and appeals to traditional authority allow his followers to believe that the corpse of traditional CONservatism can be resurrected. He is thus setting up his followers for a huge disappointment in the future, but that won’t matter to him as he will have moved to another scam by then.

The second, and even more problematic part of his scam, is that he is putting the responsibility of failure on his followers- why is another hallmark of a cult. You see, cult-leaders never “fail”. It is always their less-than-enthusiastic followers who fail themselves. Your CONservative utopia did not materialize because you weren’t enthusiastic enough. And yes, that is very reminiscent of MLM marketing scams because they are, after all, secular cults.

Peterson does not explain, or glosses over, the parts on how his followers newfound devotion to CONservative values will translate into more stable jobs, more traditional wives and all the other old-timey CONservative goodies he is implicitly promising. I mean.. how will having traditional values stop your job from being made precarious by rampant financialization? How will your having traditional values affect the fact that you wife wants to be fucked like a ragdoll by some alpha guy? How will men believing in traditional values affect the fact that most divorces are initiated by women? My point is that he is selling non-solutions to real problems.

The problems which drive rubes to people like Peterson are due to primary and secondary structural changes in the socio-economic order. Some, such as the rise of feminism (in all its forms) are almost inevitable. However many others such as rampant income and wealth inequality, poor job and career security, laws and rules which preferentially penalize men to benefit women and the overall nihilistic zeitgeist caused by late-stage capitalism are not inevitable. Changing those things however requires approaches that are quite different and far more radical than the secularized CONservatism preached by Peterson.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Thoughts on the Ongoing Epidemic of ‘Cuckface’ aka ‘Soyface’

June 13, 2018 15 comments

This is one of those delayed posts which I started writing a few weeks ago but never managed to finish at that time. So I guess you will have to wait for more of my thoughts on Jordan Peterson and Incels for a day or two. Anyway.. I first thought writing a post about this phenomena about a year ago, when I noticed that a lot of young and mostly white men appeared to be posing for the camera with almost identical and highly unnatural expressions. Have a look at the attached graphic (below) based on a collage found on twitter to understand what I am talking about.

Initially, I found such photos and selfies to be darkly humorous. I mean.. what kind of idiot would deliberately pose with such a ridiculous facial expression? To be clear, I am not suggesting that posing with a dour and humorless expression is a mark of self-respect or even desirable. But the cartoonish facial expression uniformly displayed by men in a large percentage of photos posed on social media is clearly at (or beyond) the other end. In many ways, this expression is way more cringe-worthy than the fake smile commonly seen in photos from anglo-american societies.

The fake smile is, at least, a shitty simulacra of a real emotional response. Could anyone tell me what this open mouth, bulging eyes, looking straight at camera “expression” is supposed to a simulacra of? Is it surprise? Being held at gunpoint? T human version of chimpanzee fear-face? Stretching their mouth before giving head to an extra-large penis? What exactly are these “men” signalling with that expression? Are they are happy, sad, angry, surprised, ready to suck off another guy? Also why are multiple “men” in these photos adopting the same facial expression?

Over the last few months, I have increasingly seen this peculiar facial expression referred to as “cuckface” or “soyface”. And you what.. those who given these nicknames to this expression have a point, since it is most commonly seen in photos of beta-orbiters of women, male “feminists” and basically men who will go along with whatever women say- regardless of how irrational, stupid or dangerous it might be. To put it another way, this facial expression does exhibit a very high correlation with the subject being a spineless man who will say and do anything to please some woman who does not care for this abject act of submission.

Some say this forced facial expression indicates low testosterone levels. I think that it exhibits a far better correlation with having zero self-respect and ability for introspection. Think about it.. how often do you see this ridiculous facial expression in posed photos of women? Why not? Could it be because most women have higher levels of self-respect and capability for introspective thought than these “men”? And this brings us to the question of what is going on inside the minds of those who adopt pose this facial expression in photos.

Short answer- not that much, because they would not be posing like that if there was much going on there. The somewhat longer answer is these are truly mediocre and spineless men, who might have gotten a bit lucky by being born white in USA. They clearly lack a normal sense of self or personality and fill that void by enthusiastically adopting whatever opinions and mannerisms are allegedly in fashion. To summarize- these men are truly pathetic and beta-en specimens of humanity whose photos and selfies do, however, have some entertainment value and offer a cautionary note about the horrors of being a person without self-respect or capability for introspective thinking.

What do you think? Comments?

NSFW Links: Jun 12, 2018

June 12, 2018 Leave a comment

These links are NSFW. Will post something more intellectual tomorrow.

Amateur Doggystyled Cuties: May 29, 2018 – Amateur cuties getting doggystyled.

Beach Cuties: Jun 9, 2018 – Mostly amateur cuties hanging on the beach.

Enjoy! Comments?

Categories: Uncategorized