A bunch of rich people thought a huge amount of people were as dumb as themselves.
All the smart transhumanists and futurists are really into cryonics. If you’re rich, it seems kind of like a no-risk situation to have your body frozen after death, with the hope that scientists will figure out a way to bring you back to life eventually. Worst case scenario, the power grid goes out for an extended period of time, your body thaws out, and roving bands of wolves eat you, right? Maybe not. I mean, that’s pretty bad, I don’t want to get eaten by wolves, even if I’m already dead, but I have another problem here. I’m going to go into it in a minute, but let me just say, I didn’t live my whole life just to wind up wolf food. There’s lots of animals out there the wolves can eat, I don’t care how hungry they are. I wish a wolf was reading this so I could yell at them, but I accept that only humans and spambots are reading this, so let me get back to cryonics.
Okay, so let’s say you’re a rich guy and you want to get your body frozen after you die, and you set it all up. First of all, I have to admit, I have no clue how it works, but I assume you probably need some special equipment. I’m specifically picturing a huge Coleman cooler shaped like a coffin, filled with ice.
This is an illustration I made to show how I picture it. I wasn’t sure who to photoshop into the cooler, so I asked on Twitter who was the person most famous for being dead. Joel Potischman said Archduke Ferdinand, and I immediately decided to use him, and I definitely didn’t have to look up his Wikipedia to remind myself who he was. I’d also like to point out that I was only able to find a painting of him with no lower half, so I photoshopped a sensible pair of brown khakis onto him.
Okay, so picture you’re this guy, dead and in a huge cooler. First of all, I assume that once you get old you’re going to have to hang around the cooler all the time, probably keep it filled with ice, so already the flaws in the cryonics plan are showing up.
But my main problem is that, okay, let’s say you get frozen up really hard, and you last for 50 years in some cryonics facility. One day, they cure death, and they figure out how to fix all your cells and bring you back to life. Here is my concern: Isn’t it perfectly logical that the people who work at the cryonics facility are probably going to just use you as a slave or something? You don’t have any money and they have a business that suddenly had to spend a whole bunch of money regenerating a bunch of old dead guys. This is how the conversation will go:
You: Guys, nooooo, I don’t want to be your slave”, you’ll say, “I thought you cared about life extension and science!
Cryonics guy: That was my great-grandfather, I just inherited this place. This place sucks ass, my cousin inherited a gas station.
You: What about my family?
Cryonics guy: Oh good point, hold on, let me phone them.. Hey guys, your rich great-great-grandfather woke up and he’s probably going to want all his money that got passed down to you guys? What’s that, I should keep him as a slave, and also have sex with him? Okay thanks, bye.
You: Did you actually call them, I don’t know what a phone looks like now.
I’m tired of writing this blog post. I really burned myself out with that incredible Photoshop work.
I think I wrote about Simulation Theory a while ago on here (oh yeah here it is, I forget what I said). Basically, it’s the idea that maybe our whole world is a simulation,and it’s been getting so much press for the last year or two. One thing I love about it is just how corny it would be if it turned out to be true. Guess what guys, the meaning of the Universe and life and everything? It’s a plot twist that you already saw in some of crappy-ass science fiction a while ago.
There is one really great thing about simulation theory though: There was a New Yorker write-up on Sam Altman (young woke VC) a while ago that just casually mentioned “two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation” as an afterthought. That wasn’t even the whole sentence, it was the end of a sentence; there were 26 words that came first. It’s like if one of my regular boring posts here was like “So I bought one of the ketchup bottles that hotdog stands use, and it really does make a difference, I know there should be no difference, but I swear I can taste the difference when I eat the hot dog; I’m in a consensual relationship with a talking frog” and then just dropped the subject.
Last year, I met Nick Bostrom, who popularized simulation theory, but I only talked to him about superintelligent AI and totally forgot to ask him about the billionaire thing. I still remember the exact place I was, twenty minutes later, when I suddenly remembered it and went “FUCK” on a (fairly deserted) sidewalk.
Marc Andreessen, who is quoted in the New Yorker article, follows me on Twitter, and I’m so curious about this billionaire thing that I did something I almost never do, and Direct-Messaged him a question, despite having never actually chatted with him on there previously. I’m always wary of bugging famous/popular people who follow me, because I don’t want them unfollowing; I figure it looks good if someone comes across my profile and sees the “these people follow Andrew” bit and it’s a bunch of good tweeters. Anyway, Andreessen didn’t give me any info, he just said that a credible reporter had told him that, but he had no knowledge of it. I assumed that’d be his answer, but I had to check.
I think the general consensus of who the billionaires are tends to include Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. Both are billionaires, and closely connected to Altman. Musk is is a founder of OpenAI, along with Altman, and became rich as a founder of Paypal, along with Thiel.
Peter Thiel is basically the Darth Vader figure to Sam Altman’s Luke Skywalker. Altman was Thiel’s protege, and they both became unimaginably wealthy and powerful, but one turned to the bright side (Altman fighting to save humanity) and one went bad (Thiel spending millions of dollars to stop us from ever seeing the full Hulk Hogan sex tape). They weren’t brothers like Vader and Skywalker, but listen, this analogy is falling apart, I totally lost focus on this one, I’m honestly concentrating most on just saying shit about Star Wars so I get more comments on my blog. Anyhow, those guys know each other, so people assume it’s him.
There’s definitely a movie script in this whole thing. Here’s how I picture it, and for the sake of clarity, instead of saying “John Smith (a Sam Altman type character)”, I’m just going to use real names. But if you’re a producer, director or studio executive reading this, and you want me to make it into a real movie, just get in touch, and I can change the names to fake names and write the full script, in return for like a million dollars or something. Also, I’m going to put the actor name after the character name, but if you see “John Smith (Ed Norton)”, it doesn’t mean that the character is named John Smith Ed Norton and has brackets around his last name.
BREAKIN’ OUT (SIMULATION GAMES) script outline
The movie opens with Nick Bostrom (Samuel L. Jackson) giving a talk at an unspecified TED Talk-like conference. The camera pans across the crowd and we see two men nodding along: Peter Thiel (Danny Glover) and Sam Altman (Donald Glover).
Cut to the hallway after the talk. A reporter (Taye Diggs) approaches Bostrom and asks whether he really believes we live in a simulation. Bostrom adjusts his Kangol and smiles. “Listen Smales, I read your blog. I like your blog. We all like Benicetobears, but you got to stop asking me these tough questions”. The reporter, Andrew Smales (again, played by Taye Diggs) winks and says “can’t stop, the truth is in my blood”.
Bostrom begins walking down the hallway, and is approached by Thiel and Altman. “Bostrom, just ze man we were looking for” Altman says in a thick German accent (is this correct?). Bostrom looks puzzled. “Can you break us out of the simulation?” asks Thiel. Bostrom chuckles, and adjusts his Kangol. “Hell no motherfucker. Nobody can break us out of the simulation, hell, you’d have just as much chance asking me as you would..” he looks around randomly “.. as you would asking this janitor here” he points to a janitor and as the scene fades out, we see a close up of the janitor (Kevin Hart) cocking his head, as if he just thought up a cool plan.
Next scene: We’re in the fancy office of a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Peter Thiel is having lunch with Elon Musk (Dwayne Johnson). A secretary knocks at the door and says “There are two scientists who want to see you, but they don’t have an appointment”. Thiel says “Send them away” but Musk raises his hand.. “No, no, wait a minute Pete, this might be a laugh, let’s have a little fun with these guys, really give them the business!” A wry look crosses both their their faces as the secretary exits and says “The guys will see you now”.
The janitor (Kevin Hart) enters along with another man (J.B. Smoove). They’re carrying large folders.
Actually, I’m going to cut this off right here. This is what they call “a taster” in Hollywood, and I don’t want to give the whole thing away. Suffice it to say, the janitors turned con men quickly pull one on the billionaires, and wind up living high on the hog, pretending to work on breaking us out of the simulation, while having all sorts of hijinks. Little do they know that one tenacious blogger – who looks a lot like Taye Diggs – is on to them, and will stop at nothing to figure out JUST WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON!
Breakin’ Out! In theatres………………………….. soon??????????????????????
Sometimes I remember I should be posting and I feel bad, but then I think about all the really terrible posts I don’t tweet, and I feel better, responsible even. That’s me, a good, responsible blogger, not posting a bunch of crap just to put in hours.
Now however, having just said that, I did save a photo in Photoshop, and I wanted to call it “egg-life-hack.jpg” but some weird muscle memory made me type “egg-like-hack.jpg“.
I started thinking “Egg like hack? No, egg like crack”, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I guess I am imagining an egg who can’t talk very well saying that he likes being cracked.
Okay anyway, I’ll try to post soon, but as I said, I’m not going to just post garbage for the sake of it. Only the top quality stuff.
I’m starting a new business, it’s not totally internet. I’ll be doing posts about it really soon. Maybe endless posts, I don’t know – everyone always thinks they’ll do that, but then they don’t, but I do envision lots of posts.
I’m gonna close that Patreon if I can figure out how, it was a hilarious, hilarious failure, but I don’t care, I love trying out every little angle and cool web thing, etc. I do think that if I had it running when I had the couple of really popular posts, I could be making like $8/month right now hahaha.
Also, I think I was emboldened by being SUPER RIGHT about a certain Patreon thing: I don’t wanna name it, but many people might know what podcast I’m talking about – the hosts follows me on Twitter and vice versa, and I listen to it, and a major theme over the years has been how the podcast doesn’t make him any money. I really like the show and the guy and the other guy, and about 2 years ago, I did something I never do, I sent unsolicited advice to him. I’d never even talked to him on Twitter, I think we’ve both retweeted each other that’s about it, but I wrote saying heeeey listen, I really think Patreon is the best thing, and if you guys did it, I think you’d have a record breaking campaign, I really think you’d make so much. I seriously never write to people like this, I am 100% uncomfortable doing that kind of thing, and I’m never really that sure that I have any clue as to what is going on with anything, but I felt strongly about it.
Long story short, that was a year or two ago, they finally did a Patreon in 2017 and it’s a huge success, making $22,000/month right now. I think hundreds of people probably told them to use Patreon, and I wasn’t exactly an old wise blind guy on a hill or anything, but listen… I was right about something – to me that’s notable. It’s too bad I was also right that I would launch a Patreon, run it for 3 weeks and close it due to stunning lack of interest.
Sorry, this title is probably misleading or sounds clickbaity. I’m not trying to do a clickbait – I’m actually trying to save all my clickbait karma for when I need it. My plan is that this blog is going to be thousands of posts about uhh.. whatever the point of this blog is (?), but then one day you’ll open it up and see some article like “The 11 Big Lessons You Learn When You Buy a Vespa”. When you see that post, guess what: I just opened a Vespa dealership. Hope you like blog posts about how to finance a Vespa purchase, and interesting facts about Vespa ownership, because that’s all you’re getting from then on.
Have you ever heard of a Vespa with three wheels? Well if someone has ever made one, I bet there’s a really interesting story behind it, and that’s the exact kind of stuff I’ll be blogging all the time once I open a Vespa dealership. I bet someone hacked together an amphibious Vespa at some point, which would make for a great blog post. This is the kind of stuff I will start researching when I began planning my Vespa dealership, but right now I have to admit I don’t know anything at all about Vespas. I don’t own a Vespa dealership, and that’s the sad part of this whole thing.
Oh yeah, so this post has nothing to do with a Vespa dealership. I was just going to talk about a web page I found. I’m not going to link it, but it was titled something like “How To Start a Blog, the Ultimate Guide”. Now, I myself am a blogger (you are reading my blog right now), and I thought I’d give the post a wee little skimjob to see what it said. Sorry, “wee little skimjob” was supposed to be something you read in maybe a Scottish accent, but I’m having serious, serious doubts over using that phrase. I’m not going to edit it, because I’m not a sellout, but I am going to apologize for it.
The blog post about starting a blog was boring, but it did have one amazing line. The writer said he would help you to avoid making expensive mistakes when starting a blog.
At first, this sounded laughable. Creating a blog is something you can easily do for free, but if you really want to do things the fanciest way, you can maybe pay up to $10/month, if you kind of try hard. It sounded like the guy was just being ridiculous and trying to sell his post way too hard.
But then I started thinking about all the expensive mistakes I’ve made over the years when it comes to starting blogs. I’ve started a lot of them, and I’m not perfect (this is called humility – I am perfect). So I thought I’d make a big list of all the expensive mistakes I’ve made:
- I have an Amazon Web Services account once and I backed up a bunch of encrypted backup data from Diaryland (blog hosting site I have) to it, but I was using one of their services (Glacier) that charged you for how much data you stored, but also per 1000 files you upload and I uploaded a file for each Diaryland user, and they charged me like $400 or something. I phoned them in a big panic and was like “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t got no $400!” they were nice and reversed the charges though. This was almost an expensive mistake and it involved blogs.
- I bought this domain (benicetobears.com) in 1997, when domains cost $35/year. Later on, when prices came down, I was lazy and didn’t switch to a $15/year domain place for several years.
- I don’t know if it quite counts, but back in 1997, when I could have registered so, so many really good, short domain names that would have been worth lots of money later, I chose “be nice to bears dot com”. Opportunity cost-wise, I missed out on some good dough here.
- I paid Michael Bierut from the famous Pentagram design studio $500,000 to make a logo for this site, but when he delivered it I forgot to upload it, and then I stored it on a dollar store CD-R when i was freeing up HD space to store some MIDI files. The CD-R got scratched and won’t open and now I’m too embarrassed to email them for another copy.
- I wanted to write a blog post about African Penguin ownership, so I had several birds flown over, which cost $20,000, but it just didn’t pan out. One of the penguins bit off part of my finger.
- Same thing as mistake #5, but with a tiger. That’s right, I had a tiger imported over to Canada from Africa, and it cost $20,000. It sounds dumb, but guys, you just can’t make this stuff up. This tiger also bit off part of a finger. I’ve only got 8 full fingers left.
Hey let’s get back to the Vespa thing for a second. Do you know the main advantage of owning a Vespa over something like a Smart Car? I don’t either, but does it sound interesting, is this something I should write up once I start up my Vespa dealership? And what’s the difference between a Vespa and an electric bike? I don’t know! I can’t wait to start my Vespa dealership, it’s going to rule.
I just remembered a sort of weird thing. For those who don’t know, I’m in Canada. You can order almost any American item, and find most of them in stores too, but now and then you run into a brick wall. For various reasons (some dumb, some logical), you just can’t get certain things shipped to Canada.
The one that’s really annoyed me in the past is that Blue Diamond Almonds only sell a limited amount of their flavours in Canada – basically just the boring ones. I’ve tried the fancier ones while visiting the US, and I love them, especially toasted coconut and salt and vinegar. I think just due to bad luck, the only businesses that ship these to Canada charge a ridiculous amount, so you would wind up paying maybe triple the correct price, or more.
Luckily, I found a place in Mississauga that lets you buy stuff on American websites, and enter an address in Niagara Falls, USA. This company receives the packages, then drives them to to Canada, and you go pick them up and pay an extra fee. I’ve used this to buy a dozen cans of almonds a couple of times now, and it’s so nice. I think the fee was $7 or $10, and in the end, I wound up paying less than if I bought almonds (even the plain flavors) in a local store.
So I’ve gotten way off course here with the almond talk. Listen, I like almonds, and I love flavoured almonds. I think I’ve somehow become desensitized to them a little now, but the first few times that I bought the toasted coconut ones, I just couldn’t control myself, they were the greatest thing I’d ever tasted. I brought a couple of cans home from the US a couple of times, and I’d tell myself that I’d only eat a few per day, and make them last for a while, but then I’d open a can and demolish it in a day. Maybe two days. It was exhilarating. Maybe exhilarating is just slightly too strong a word. It was good. They tasted so good. I loved the taste. Such a nice taste.
Sorry, I got off track again, let me get back to this tidbit. The last time I went to this cross-border place, I could see into the back, and there were hundreds of packages there. This place is doing a lot of business, and I got really curious about what everyone is bringing in. I mean, I’d guess that I’m probably the only guy importing dozens of almonds cans on a regular basis, but who knows!
I asked the guy who worked there what people brought, but I was pretty sure he’d just say it was random, so I worded it sort of like “Heeey, I know it’s probably kind of random, but what do most people bring in, are there certain things that are really popular?” I was surprised when he listed the two most popular items, without even pausing: Car tires, and Funko Pops.I understand the car tires. I don’t know anything about it, but there are a lot of items like that which cost way less in the US, and I understand people shipping them in. But Funko Pops?
If you sat me in a room and told me I couldn’t leave until I listed the 5000 most popular import products at this place, there’s zero chance I’d include Funko Pops. You could stick a Funko Pop on the desk so that I remembered they existed, and I still wouldn’t list them. Even if I got really stuck at product number 4998 or something, and I noticed the Funko Pops posters you’d put all around the room, I know I wouldn’t list it, it’s too dumb. I’d just go “What’s with this guy who locked me in this room, why did he put all the Funko Pops posters all over? This guy is a huge spaz”. I mean of course you’re a spaz if you lock me in a room and make me list 5000 things, unless you’re some sort of university researcher or something. Anyhow Funko Pops. How about that. It’s weird.
I watched a great movie last week. Sign Painters is a 2014 documentary, directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, about the hand painted sign industry.
Levine and Macon interview a number of people across the U.S. about all aspects of the business. A lot of the interviewees are artists who started painting back when the industry was booming, but there are a decent amount of young guys in there too.
Obviously, hand painted signs are not very common these days, and a common theme in the documentary is how computerized printers and sign cutters changed the industry (for the worse). From what I could tell from the movie, it seems like most of the work being done these days is for businesses who want a beautiful, hip sign – coffeeshops, tattoo places, theaters, restaurants, etc.
There’s a decent amount of stylistic diversity though. I was surprised to see that one guy, Nick Barber, still paints car dealership windows all over Southern California, in that really familiar 1970s/1980s sort of style you see in period movies and whatnot. And while everyone involved seems genuinely into the artistic side of it, Stephen Powers of NYC is the only guy interviewed who doesn’t do traditional client work, and instead does public art installations. His stuff is amazing, and it’s well worth visiting his website and checking out his shop, the couple of Tumblr pages he has (fine art, icysigns, marksurface) and his Instagram account. I love his fine art page so much, and I’ve put it on my shortlist of places I need to remember to visit when I’m a rich art collector.
Also interviewed is Ken Barber from House Industries, who I used to be completely obsessed with in the late 1990s and early 2000s (and I still love). House make a number of terrific fonts, but the most relevant to this movie is of course their Sign Painter font (which I am 99% sure predates the movie by at least a few years).
I loved the movie, and recommend you consider watching it. It was only $3 to rent on Google Play Movies, but it’s available on a number of Video On Demand services, best to just check out the official website for links. I know I’m going to want to watch it again, so I’m going to go back and buy the deluxe edition soon – it looks like they use VHX.tv, and you can get lifetime streaming of the movie, plus 30 minutes of bonus interviews that way, for 10 bucks.
But wait, I forgot to mention the book, which you’ve already seen at the top of this post! That’s right, there’s a whole darn book that’s just as good as the movie. One of the main characteristics of the hand painted signs throughout the movie are that they’re just so filled with great colors, and they’re so dynamic. It’s a style that translates so, so well to print, and the book is just page after page of eye candy. Do not buy the e-book version of this, don’t even consider it, pay the extra 4 bucks for the paper copy, trust me.
Guys I seem to have walking pneumonia, and I feel like I will re-read this post one day and cringe at the text being terrible and boring, so forgive me. To make up for it, I’m going to paste in a few photos of the book, so you can see how great it looks. (By the way, this is just a little tiny taster, and I picked these pages at random, this isn’t me cherry-picking the best stuff or anything.)
So my Patreon campaign is going about about how I expected, not incredible, but it’s early days. The way I figure it, if you’re going to make it to 1 million patrons/month, you have to start at the very bottom. I was thinking of a few ideas to pump up the campaign, here are a couple:
- I was thinking it’d be funny if as a reward, I sent a package to anyone who donated $1/month, every 3 months. And that package would contain $5. I’m really considering this.
- The other idea, which would cost me about the same, would be if every 3 months, I sent everyone a photo of $5. This way, I would keep the money. But printing and mailing a photo would cost a couple of bucks probably.
UPDATE: I just added a $1 tier for the second option. I know I will regret this.
Okay that’s all I’m going to write now, I have an actual post to finish for later today or this evening.
A friend of mine sent me a question about backing up personal files. She said this:
What is the best way to buy long-term cloud storage that is private, secure, resistant to destruction? Archival storage for personal files… maybe 1TB total, more if it’s affordable
I don’t think I’ve written about this much, but this is actually something I care about a lot, and I did a fair bit of research on this a couple of years ago.
The main tool I use is Arq, which is a desktop app for Mac and Windows. I’m going to go over the main points of this software:
When you set up Arq, you choose which folders you want to have backed up. I just have back up my Photos folder, and the Developer folder where I keep all my code stuff. Arq runs in the background on my computer, and whenever I add anything to these folders, or edit something, it backs up the new file. In my experience, it’s extremely convenient, and doesn’t require any work after the initial setup (which is obviously vitally important to keeping regular backups).
Possibly the most important thing about Arq is that it lets you choose where your files are stored. You can send your files to Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, AWS, OneDrive, an SFTP server, or an NAS. More importantly, you can set up multiple services, and you can decide what goes where. So maybe you want your most important files to be backed up to both Dropbox and Google Drive, but since your photos take so much space, you just want them to go to Amazon – that’s easy to set up. This redundancy accomplishes the resistant to destruction part of the request.
These storage choices have similar prices, and most of them have free levels. Google Drive, for example, comes with 15GB of free storage and then costs $10/month for 1TB. Arq has a chart on this page that you can use to compare.
Arq encrypts all your data on your computer before it ever reaches any of the cloud servers. This is why it’s safe to send your data to a bunch of servers. You do need to set a passphrase, and always remember that phrase, or else your backups will be useless to you.
Arq costs $50. I’ve been using it since late 2014 and there’s been 1 major upgrade (to version 5) that cost $25. I was happy to pay that.
In my opinion, buying Arq is completely worth it, and a great deal. I tried a couple of backup services before Arq, like Crashplan for instance, and I hated them. Their software was extremely, extremely crappy, and the upload speeds were terrible. I never had to download backups from them, but I have a strong feeling it would have been a nightmare. Arq just feels like a modern, good piece of software.
On top of what you pay for Arq, you need to pay a monthly fee to the cloud server places, as mentioned above. If you have a small amount of data to back up, this might be free, or close to free, but otherwise it’ll probably cost between $7 and $10/month per terabyte.
I like the possibility of setting up a cheap VPS (virtual private server) somewhere like Digital Ocean or Chunkhost and running an SFTP server on it. Pricing for a setup like that is going to start at $5/month for 20GB of space though (as of this writing at both those companies), so it’s not the most economical choice. This option would be a good add-on if you have a small amount of data to store. It’d also be good for someone who doesn’t want to use Google, Amazon, Dropbox or Microsoft.
As I mentioned earlier, I tried a couple of other services before settling on Arq. I forget which ones I tried exactly, but I know I tried Crashplan for a month and it was horrible. The software was some terrible Java garbage that ran insanely slow, and was confusing to use. Their network was also extremely slow, and to upload all my photos, it said it was going to take literally several months hahaha. Holy moly. I think it wound up taking a few days using Arq and Google Drive.
I actually just searched to see if Crashplan still gets a lot of complaints for being slow, and judging from the “CrashPlan is Slow” twitter account, it’s just as bad as it was when I used them. This is off-topic, but wow, if you want to see some horror stories, read through all the stuff that account retweets, yikes.
Photos and Videos
If you have a lot of photos or videos to back up, I would highly recommend using Google Photos in addition to Arq. I don’t think there’s any downloading tool, so I wouldn’t use it as my only backup tool, but it’s free, and it makes a nice last-ditch backup choice. It’s an incredibly well designed product, which makes sorting, searching and browsing your photos very easy, and I can’t say enough good things about it.
Worth noting is that anything you upload to Google Photos is a lot less private and secure than what you upload using Arq, since theoretically, Google could look at your photos/movies at will (or anyone who broke into your Google account). So obviously avoid this choice for any photos you wouldn’t want the public to see.
So I hope this is useful information. If you have any feedback, or other suggestions, leave a comment. This might sound like an ad for Arq or something, but it’s not, I don’t even have a lowly affiliate code to paste in (although I did with the Digital Ocean link above). If there are newer, better options, I’d love to hear them.