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The Quincy Jones Vulture Interview

This Quincy Jones interview is great, super entertaining. There is one thing I wanted to write about though, and since I wound up writing a lot of it out in a message, I figured I’d do it here:

In the interview, Jones talks about a bunch of stuff like who actually killed JFK (Sam Giancana) and casually throws out totally wild claims (Marlon Brando slept with Marvin Gaye and Richard Pryor) in between more lightweight showbiz stuff (Ringo Starr sucks at drums, T-Pain is not good at music).

I think a lot of people are taking it all as gospel, but it’s too good for it all to be true. Like, the thing about who killed JFK is kind of boilerplate JFK conspiracy, and just because he was friends with Sinatra doesn’t mean he knows anything.

the part that kills it for me is like, the exact same way he talks about JFK or Brando, he ALSO talks about Hillary Clinton having secrets, and he hints like he knows secrets about her that he can’t mention. In my opinion, there is NO way he knows actual secrets, he wasn’t hanging out with the Clintons and they said “Hey remember Vince Foster, we killed him”.

What I think the deal is, is that he knows these people, but he ALSO happens to read conspiracy shit, or people talk to him about theories they’ve read and believe, and has the type of personality that believes conspiracy theories easily.

My friend summarized it really well with this: “I would believe that the Clintons are in charge of a satanic coven, but I wouldn’t believe anyone who said they knew about it. Does that makes sense???” To me, this is exactly right. I don’t think that a bunch of world leaders are part of any weird owl cult in Bohemian Grove or anything, but maybe I’d say there’s some super, super tiny chance. But one thing I do 1000% know that if they are, nobody is going up to Quincy Jones and telling him about it. Probably the first rule of being in any Illuminati cult thing would be something like “for fuck’s sake do not tell Quincy Jones, he’s a cool guy but he knows everyone and he can not keep a secret”.

Anyway that’s all, I’m a killjoy.

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I Tried Cryptokitties and Also Some Other Thoughts

So I had this idea a couple of years ago that I could never really figure out: I wanted to just give away 49% of Castmate to anyone who wanted a piece. Divide it up into a billion shares and give out 100 or 1000 to anyone who asked or filled out a form. A few reasons:

  1. Seems like a fun experiment, just to see what would happen.
  2. Having more people invested in the business, even in some miniscule way, might lead to it becoming bigger (sort of tied into point 1 maybe), and there’d be a possibility of people contributing to the success of the site in noticeable ways (and then they could be given more ownership as appreciation)
  3. Mostly, I know from experience that it’s soooo fun to be running a website that is hopping and has tons of people using it and talking about it and doing things, and it’s sooooo boring to run a website that is quiet.

Anyway, I discussed this with a couple of people briefly, but I could never figure out how to just dole out shares in a way that wasn’t going to somehow involve securities law, and I couldn’t really find any precedent of a company just giving ownership away to unlimited people. I figured that it would probably cost thousands in lawyers fees to even remotely get a handle on how this might work.

A few months before Christmas, I did realize that this was the exact type of thing that crypto tokens can handle. It’d be trivial to create a billion tokens on the Ethereum network (or some other way) and then just give them out. I’m still not positive about whether it would constitute a public stock offering or what though.

I was reminded of this for a few reasons tonight. I just saw a tweet where some guy was talking about some kind of new cryptocurrency and they mentioned an “airdrop”, which sounded like this idea. I don’t know what currency they’re talking about and I don’t care. I read a few of the replies in case someone mentioned details, but it’s the usual thing where 200 people are really, really sloppily kissing the ass of some rich guy. I seriously don’t understand this, has there ever been an instance where someone got a company funded because he replied to a bunch of investors on Twitter with some vague hype about his app idea? It’s so fucking out of control, the replies are so brutally bad.

Anyhow back to crypto things: So I don’t know, I’m thinking about this again, but I don’t want to do anything remotely grey area legally.

So very related to this: This weekend, I had an idea for what I think would be a pretty great crypto-related app, running on the Ethereum network. I thought it through during a long car ride I had on Sunday and I’ve been pretty excited about it since, but I ran into what I think might be a pretty big problem, and now I’m annoyed.

The problem is fees. The app I have in mind would require (I think) me to create 2 types of tokens on the Ethereum network, and the app would involve people using these, moving them between addresses, etc. I decided to try out that game Cryptokitties to get a feel for how all this stuff actually works in practice, because I’ve read tons about it but never really used Ethereum. (btw my thing is nothing like Cryptokitties, which there are tons of things copying I believe).

So I bought about $15 US of Ether (the currency needed to buy and sell Cryptokitties) and installed the necessary software, and I went to their site and picked out a virtual cat to buy with my “money”.

The cheapest cats cost something like $4 or $5. To me, it’s weird since they don’t do anything. People call it a game, but it’s not like buying a game that has uhh.. anything game-like (like maybe game mechanics to begin with). But whatever, who cares, I was fine with paying $4 to try this out. But when I went to do it, I found out that there would be $4.80 USD in recommended extra fees, just to do the transaction. Whhaaaaaaat.

I knew that Bitcoin has insanely high fees now that make it unusable, but I hadn’t even thought about it for other currencies (the only other one I know is Bitcoin Cash, which has very low fees).

I ended up trying to send a lower fee, but I believe that my payment got refunded, but I lost the $2 in fees I attempted to send (you can try to send lower fees, but there’s less chance your transaction will go through I guess).

The other problem was that the UX of actually using Cryptokitties and Metamask (the browser plug-in you need to have running) was unbearably bad. I mean sooooo bad. The Cryptokitties site is confusing, doesn’t really explain much, and the Metamask plug-in is very confusing. As an example, if you choose to buy a certain cat, you click a button that says “OK, but this cat” and, for me anyway, nothing happens 90% of the time. Literally, I kept clicking it, waiting, going away for a few minutes, reloading the page, etc, and nothing happened until FINALLY it just randomly decided to kick into action and I saw this amazing dialog:

GAS LIMIT. GWEI. GAS PRICE. UNITS.

I don’t think you should ever have “UNITS” in your interface for any product. It sounds like a bad science fiction movie. CAPTAIN, SHALL I TRADE 125815 CREDIT FOR A SONIC BLASTER.

But forget that stuff, because even if you generally understand those terms, the most hilarious and appalling design element here are those colourful circles at the top. Are they.. graphs? Representations of uhhh… something? Are they just randomly generated images they’ve assigned to the Ether addresses? Who knows – I don’t.

The UX bar is so insanely low for any sort of Cryptocurrency or Blockchain-related software, it’s soooo crazy.

Look at those 3 buttons on the bottom there: RESET, SUBMIT, REJECT. First off, why do they say REJECT instead of CANCEL? And I think the RESET button needs to be left-justified. But just overall like.. come on what the hell, this shit sucks. I still bought a stupid cryptokitty though halfway through writing this blog post, and I feel horrible about it, HORRIBLE. Instant buyer’s remorse. I own nothing, I am not going to derive any enjoyment from it, and I am positive I won’t be able to resell it (or if I do, fees will make it so I still lose most of my money).

UPDATE: After posting this, I went to try and sell the dumb virtual cat I bought. I am not sure what happened, but when I clicked “SELL THIS STUPID CAT” (or whatever it said), a pop-up came up, I submitted it, and it turned out I BOUGHT ANOTHER STUPID CRYPTOKITTY. Which one? Why the exact one in the screenshot I took earlier.

You see, that screenshot was of some random cryptokitty I did not intend to buy. I just pulled up that dialog for a screenshot. Then I closed it but I guess.. the plug-in just remembers what you put in it, and doesn’t put in the new info when you click “SELL THIS CAT”.

I don’t honestly want to say for sure that’s what happened, but Jesus, this is some horrible UI and confusing UX. I can’t believe people think cryptocurrency could be useful when you can decide to buy something and then the network can just go “Uhh know what, we’re not gonna recognize that purchase, but we’re going to keep the fee anyway”. It’s like Amazon cancelling an order on you, but keeping the shipping fee. Maybe it’s not exactly the same, I don’t care, please don’t correct me if you’re a Bitcoin person.

So now I have 2 cats, I listed one for sale (or as they call it, I put it up for a.. SIRING AUCTION?)., I just named the second one MURDERCAT and I’m putting it up for sale too. God help me.

Jesus, seriously, look at this screenshot, look at the form fields, read it carefully and try to count along with me as I enumerate the 20 ways in which it doesn’t make sense.

 

“Kitty auctions can go up or down in price” – that’s not an auction. Google the word AUCTION.

There’s a 2 day duration but I must… cancel the auction for it to end? WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS MEAN FUCK THIS STUPID WORLD WE LIVE IN

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My Biggest Mistakes of 2017 Series – I Took a Knife to an Arcade Fire Concert

I bought a little jackknife a few years ago, and I love it. It’s small enough to fit in the the little mini-pocket that many pants have, and it’s strong and sharp enough to do all sorts of cutting tasks.

After I bought it, I was constantly surprised at how often it came in handy. Now only do I have a lot of things to cut or slash at every day for some reason, but other people do too. The only problem with my knife is that it’s very small, so I lose track of it a lot. Sometimes it falls out when I take off my pants at night, and I don’t find it for months.

In the summer of 2017, I got cheap tickets to an Arcade Fire concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The concert wasn’t until November, so I didn’t think about it much. I’ve only gone to the ACC one other time for a concert, and as we were walking up to it, I realized that they might have us go through metal detectors. I felt like I had read this when I bought the tickets.

I got very worried because I had my nice little knife in my pocket. I thought about putting it inside my wallet, but then I thought that if they put wallets/etc. through an x-ray machine, it’d show up and look very suspicious. I decided to attach the knife to my keychain, thinking it would look inconspicuous, and that I could say something like “Ohh, yeah, I forgot that was there, it’s my little tiny knife and it’s not even sharp” if they even noticed it.

At the door, they had us put any metal things in little plastic bins. The guy saw my knife immediately, which surprised me. I said “Ohh, yeah, I forgot that was there, it’s my little tiny knife and it’s not even sharp” but the guy didn’t care, and said I couldn’t bring it in. I said that I couldn’t throw it away because I paid $30 for it, and wasn’t there any way I could bring it or they could hold it or something.

He said no, and that I could either throw it out, or go outside and hide it somewhere. I actually talked to him for a while about this, because it struck me as really crazy to go and hide something in one of the busiest places in a large city. He said that people did it all the time when they were in situations like mine. I asked him if it worked and they found their stuff later, and he said he had no clue, because he wasn’t around for that part. Fair enough.

He also said that there was another entrance to the ACC where you could check items. I asked “Even a knife?” and he said he didn’t know if they’d take it. I knew, but I went to that entrance anyway, just in case I was wrong.

I was not wrong, and they would not check a knife. I tried to bribe the guy who I talked to there into just letting me into the concert with the knife (I had my ticket with me still), and he paused, but said no. He paused long enough that I think if I had started talking numbers, it might have been possible to sway him, but that would only be if I really did a serious bribe. I was thinking more like $10, maybe $15 tops – just a baby bribe.

I went back outside and looked for a place to hide the knife. The Air Canada Centre seems like a nice building, but the architects didn’t seem to care about hiding knives around it at all, there was nowhere. The employee who had suggested hiding it had mentioned that people would hide stuff in the parking lot across the street, but I didn’t love the idea of crossing the street, digging a little hole, putting a knife in, and then covering it, with dozens of people loitering about outside the arena.

The only spot I could see to hide the knife was a pay phone on the side of the building. I went over and pretended to make a phone call, which, in 2017, was probably much more suspicious-looking than if I had just yelled “I’m hiding a knife over here!”

While I was pretending to make a call, I dropped the knife in the thin area where the phone was connected to the wall. I heard it fall and was instantly positive I would never see my cool, small knife again.

I went inside and tried to enjoy the concert, but the seats were terrible, so it was incredibly hard to see or hear the band clearly, and I kept thinking about how I was going to try and get the knife out from behind the pay phone, which stressed me out a bit and took away from me really getting into the show. We skipped the encore, and I went to all the concession stands inside the arena to try and get something I could stick behind the pay phone to knock my knife out. I grabbed probably 20 plastic forks and knives, and some paper towels.

Amazingly, when I stuck a couple of utensils behind the pay phone on one side, my knife popped right out the other, and fell gently into my hand. It was incredibly surprising, and I was super happy. I talked about it for about 3 days. Stuff like “I can’t believe I got my knife back” and “I still can’t believe I got my knife out of that pay phone” and things like that. Everyone I know got extremely tired of hearing about it very quickly, but I kept going – it’s my way.

So that was a big mistake, but it turned out well. I love that cool, small knife.

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My Eggpost Newsletter Is Now Available Only by Mail

Since maybe 1999, I’ve run an email newsletter named Eggpost. I think it topped out at about 3200 subscribers or so, but sending it became so much work – keeping the mailing list clean, trying to get mailing list software that works but isn’t expensive, etc.

I’ve decided to start writing to it regularly again, and I’ve figured out a fun way: I’m just sending it by mail. It costs money because sending letters actually costs a lot these days it seems.

You can subscribe here. The first newsletter just went out, but if you subscribe before the next one goes, I’ll send this one too. They’re a good length for a newsletter I think.

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Twitter: Still a White Supremacist Website

From what I can tell, “Krang T Nelson”, a left wing non-nazi normal person who wrote funny, obviously jokey tweets got in a fight with a racist, Daily-Stormer-quoting, muslim-hating, Sandy Hook/Heather Hayer truther lady, who got a bunch of other racists worked up, so Twitter suspended him.

Just going to dump in a bunch of screenshots. Try to imagine you’re running a 15 BILLION dollar website that’s doing terribly, and everyone keeps saying that the main problem is that it’s infested with racists and trolls. Now try to figure out which of these people seems like a problem. Now do the same thing but imagine you for some reason want to preserve and maintain a white supremacist website.

 

Krang:

Even the people complaining about this tweet didn't think it was serious, they just pretended to be upset. The only people dumb enough to think this was serious are Twitter, the worst website on earth.
Even the people complaining about this tweet didn’t think it was serious, they just pretended to be upset. The only people dumb enough to think this was serious are Twitter, the worst website on earth.

 

Other person:

 

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Why Stephen Paddock Killed

It’s a pretty amazing thing that 3+ weeks after Stephen Paddock murdered 58 people in Las Vegas, people are still acting like it’s a big mystery. I keep expecting it to come out, and I haven’t bothered even tweeting about it, because it seems pointless, but I figured I’d get it down for the record.

I’ve read a bunch of articles about this, and the template basically seems to be: This guy was a successful real estate investor, he loved to high stakes gamble all night, he had a girlfriend, and it’s a mystery. Seems like a lot of articles say “maybe he had a mental illness, he was on some prescription drugs, it’s all very unclear”.

You read further details, and the one thing that people just sort of breeze by is this idea that he was a high stakes video poker player, betting tens of thousands of dollars every night at casinos. I think there’s some weird sort of belief out there that this is something you can just do if you’re a rich guy, and it’s fine, you can afford it. The gambling industry works very hard at keeping up a “hey some nights you win, some nights you lose” sort of narrative, and people seem to believe this, but if you gamble every night, for a prolonged period of time, you will lose all the money you gamble. If you show up to the casino with $100, and you don’t stop gambling, you will lose that $100, it’s guaranteed. Show up with $1,000,000, so you can play at higher stakes, and guess what, you’ll lose it almost as fast.

My theory is that Stephen Paddock almost certainly lost most of his money after gambling constantly for years, and then he developed some sort of psychological attitude that I’m not going to try and figure out. Bitterness, depression, hatred, I don’t know, but his life was probably a huge misery, and he probably blamed it on.. someone or other. And so he sent away his girlfriend to another country so she wouldn’t be implicated, he sent her $100,000 to buy a house (presumably this was most of the money he had left – if he knew he was going to end his life in some form or another, it makes no sense that he would just give her a small amount of his supposed fortune), and then did the murders.

This was already my theory when I read this article on CNN.com about a slip-and-fall lawsuit he brought against a casino in 2013. It goes through his testimony in that case, and he says that he was gambling huge amounts of money – supposedly he cycled through a million dollars a night. You would imagine this is probably true, since the casinos involved could easily prove that he didn’t gamble that much if they wanted, all serious casino players have their activity tracked so they can get perks (which he is quoted as talking about in the embedded video).

More interesting though is that if you watch the video on that page, and look at the actual slip-and-fall that was captured on security camera, even at the horrible resolution and video quality, it looks so fake and bad. Maybe I’m just assuming it’s fake because it’s a slip-and-fall lawsuit, but it really looks bad. And to me, scammy lawsuits like that are basically the cliched thing that desperate Las Vegas losers in books do when they’re in desperation mode or something.

Anyway, so that’s all, I just want to stick this down for the record so I can act smug in 2 years when some casino’s email system is hacked and leaked, and we see a bunch of casino executives spending most of October 2017 colluding to destroy all the records that show this guy losing 95% of his net worth, which would be pretty brutal advertising for Vegas.

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Twitter Is Literally a White Supremacist Website

I know that most people understand what Twitter is at this point, but first, indulge me with a little background on the site:

Twitter is literally a white supremacist website. For its entire life, it has ignored mountains of racism (and every other form of abuse), because to kick off all the Nazis and hysterical racists would lower its engagement statistics in the short term.

They don’t just let people stay on the platform though, they verify tons of racists. The “verification system” has never really been just about verifying that people are using their real identity, but has always been about giving a special status to interesting/special people. That’s why Twitter stripped Milo Yhateverhisnameis of his verification as a punishment, and why you can’t just get verified by proving to them that you are posting under your real identity. Verified users also get special features added to their accounts.

So who do they choose to verify? People like this Youtube guy:

But weirdly enough, not just him, but even literal no-names, like this lady (username: a purposefulwife) who doesn’t have any identity listed on Twitter other than “Wife With A Purpose”. Her main claim to fame seems to be doing 5000 tweets about “preserving the white race and culture”, and also creating the white baby challenge. I don’t know what that was, I’m assuming it was like the ice bucket thing, except you poured buckets of white babies on your head.

Twitter has taken a lot of heat about all the racist (not to mention sexist, etc.) abuse on the platform. When Leslie Jones was chased off Twitter by a bunch of psychos, the site got a lot of heat, and Jack Dorsey reassured people that they were working on it.

But what can a site do to identify and remove users who constantly out-think the system and come up with tricky ways to evade even the most sophisticated early warning systems? Twitter paid $150M in 2016 to acquire an AI startup, so they’re probably at least using the machine learning experts from that company to come up with very advanced classifiers to spot even the trickiest of abusers right? After all, they must have hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of abuse reports to train a system like this with. Seems like this would be an easy fix right?

Just kidding, they haven’t tried at all, and here’s how I know: I searched “Lebron” and the n-word the day that Lebron James called Trump a bum, and there were a lot of tweets. I mean a lot. I actually took screencaps of a ton, but decided not to post them here, but I mean, how on Earth is this something Twitter hasn’t even bothered to deal with? Is it too hard to put in a small block of code saying “Ohhh hey if someone calls someone the n-word, how about uhh.. that gets maybe uhhh… flagged?”. Personally, I think every tweet like that should at least get flagged, but I’d say there’s about a 0.01% chance that a tweet with that word, and the name of a celebrity turns out to not be abusive, so uh.. Twitter has an index of celebrities, they verified them all.

I’m not really an expert on white supremacy , but I know it’s a system. As an example, my understanding is basically that if a restaurant opens up, and then half its customers are neo-Nazis, and they constantly yell the n-word at the other customers, and the restaurant refuses to do anything about it, and then also the restaurant has some sort of special status system like “best customer club” and they give that to a bunch of the neo-nazis, seems like you might actually say that was a white supremacist restaurant. Seems about right I think, right? So that’s why I say that Twitter is literally a white supremacist website, and everyone who makes any decisions there, especially Jack Dorsey, is a white supremacist. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, and I know he loves tweeting about rap music and stuff, but the way it works is that actually, he’s a huge white supremacist, because he literally controls an entire system and refuses to fix all the racist shit.

Okay, so enough about the background, back to the news: White supremacist social networking site Twitter is going to let some people do 280 character tweets.

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Does Bacon Come From a Pig?

Yesterday, I did an Instagram story for my online store. At one point, for no real reason, I put a pack of bacon in front of the camera, and I said “I don’t know if I should eat this bacon, it was 3 packs for $7, which seems too cheap, but I mean, it all comes from the same cows, how bad can it be”. I didn’t even realize that I said cow, and then 2 people messaged me saying something like “Bacon comes from a pig right?”

I thought something like: Wow, what kind of weirdos are these guys, they don’t know where bacon comes from? But then I thought “Ohhh wait.. maybe they’re from some country where nobody eats bacon or something like that, I better be polite to them”. So I sent both of them messages where I was trying to be really nice, and explain what bacon is, but I also didn’t want to be too verbose, since I figured they might not be great at English. So my messages back to them were basically “Yes, that’s right, bacon comes from a pig! It’s very popular where I live. I love the taste!” Unsure whether I’m going to receive any orders from these guys.