Word from the Dark Side – It’s My Life, mermaid strife, war crimes rife and an eligible wife

It’s My Life by Talk Talk, 1984

‘Pennyworth’ Star Paloma Faith Slams ‘The Little Mermaid’: “Not What I Want To Be Teaching Next Gen Women”

“As a mother of girls I don’t want my kids to think it’s ok to give up your entire voice and your powers to love a man,” Faith shared in a now-deleted Instagram post that Metro caught. “Wtf is this sh*t. Not what I want to be teaching next gen women at all.”

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The dangerous genius

In the Simpsons episode They Saved Lisa’s Brain (1999), Springfield’s smartest residents are appointed to govern the town following the sudden departure of Mayor Quimby.

It seems like a good idea but each genius has his own wacky proposals and things soon turn to chaos.

Principal Skinner changes the clocks to metric time, Professor Frink wants to prohibit sport, and Comic Book Guy wants to ban obesity for females. He later announces that breeding should occur only once every seven years, which would be a significant increase for him.

To be fair, if you asked any of these geniuses to write a book about their idea, they’d probably be able to justify it in more detail and address some of the counter-arguments.

However, all the ideas are comically wacky because they fail a cost-benefit analysis.

The writers are highlighting a real problem of the very clever: they know they are smart so they assume that all their ideas are good. They are often unwilling to seriously consider alternative viewpoints.

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Word from the Dark Side – Simply the Best, faith to the test, all ages oppressed and a science chest

Simply the Best by Tina Turner, 1989. I used to think it went, “You’re simply the best/Better than Alcatraz.”

Brine Pools: The Underwater Lakes of Despair

( . . . ) Brine pools are many times saltier, denser and heavier than the surrounding water. They puddle on the ocean floor with a visible boundary, called a halocline, at the interface between the seawater and the brine pools. These lakes within oceans produce the same effect we see in above ground lakes. For instance, ripples on the lake surface caused by movement of seawater, just like wind causes ripples on the surface of water bodies. The brine is so dense that fish and other marine animals can float on its surface, just like people can float on Jordan’s Dead Sea. When researchers sent submarines to investigate a brine pool, they found the submarines could actually “land” on its surface. It’s only by the use of thrusters they can penetrate the pools . . .

While mussels thrive along the pool’s edge, the brine itself is toxic to most sea creatures. The lakes contain almost no oxygen and is far too saline for animals to survive. Some brine pools also contain toxic chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide, aside from methane, that kill any fish and sea creature that come into contact with it, earning them various nicknames such as “Jacuzzi of despair” and “pit of despair” and “hot tub of despair”.

The hypersaline brine solution often turns these unfortunate animals into pickles. On one occasion, researchers found a crab estimated to be dead for 8 years with soft tissue still intact.

Aside from the Gulf of Mexico, brine pools are also found in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

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San Junipero: man-made heaven or potential hell?

Review of San Junipero (Black Mirror Series 3 Episode 4), 2016.

This post won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen it.

The term ‘black mirror’ has come to mean a bleak, dystopian future caused by misuse of technology. Most episodes of the series contain dire warnings about worst-case scenarios.

San Junipero is one of the most popular episodes of Black Mirror because it explores the possibility of a utopian future. It’s also perfect, in my own peculiar sense that every scene is significant, clever and competently executed. This is writer Charlie Brooker at the top of his game.

You need to see it a second time to fully appreciate the perfection: the way Yorkie shudders at a crash in a car-racing game, the all-purpose dork from every 80s film, one that will do to start a scene or two. The way explanations are given naturally and only as required. It’s a triumph of story-telling.

In my opinion, most people love or hate the episode for superficial reasons. I hope to suggest more thoughtful reasons.

What I most appreciate is that it provides the strongest fictional case I’ve encountered for a post-faith world, one where advanced technology renders all traditions and morals moot.

Heaven and hell? Euthanasia? Irrelevant; we’ll just live forever in the cloud and create our own heaven. Race? Sexuality? Marriage? In our electronic afterlife, it all comes out in the wash.

“Ooh, baby, do you know what that’s worth?
Ooh, heaven is a place on Earth
They say in heaven love comes first
We’ll make heaven a place on Earth”

‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ by Belinda Carlisle, 1987

In the modern world, technology has already triumphed over some of life’s harsh realities, allowing new social norms to exist. One of the most notable is that reliable contraception has broken the nexus between sex and childbirth, thus undermining the traditional concept of marriage. Another is that mechanization has reduced the primacy of physical prowess and expanded sedentary jobs, which has reset relations between the sexes.

San Junipero takes this idea to its logical conclusion: with technology that can create a new world, there is no need for the mores of the old world. Those are requirements of meatspace, where actions have consequences. Take away death, reproduction, starvation, disease, aging and so on, and anything goes.

The chattering classes love the film because it hits the right buttons. Lesbians! Euthanasia! Strong black female lead! Boo religion! I think there were even some electric vehicles.

A minority hate the film for the same reasons.

Both are being unfair to the creator of the series.

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Word from the Dark Side – ye olde bands, beauty demands, concubine lands and trouble in the Minnesota sands

Are You Old Enough? by Dragon, 1978

Dragon (band)

Dragon are a New Zealand rock band which was formed in Auckland in January 1972,[1][2] and, from 1975, based in SydneyNew South Wales, Australia.

Dragon has endured tragedy, adversity and notoriety, and three band members have died from drug-related causes. Problems began soon after the band’s arrival in Sydney in late 1975, when all of their equipment was stolen. Several months later, in 1976, drummer Neil Storey died of a heroin overdose.[4] The following decade, in 1985, Paul Hewson died from a drug overdose.[4] Marc Hunter died from smoking-related throat cancer in 1998.[6][4] Several members of the group including Hewson and Marc Hunter were heavy heroin users during the band’s heyday and the Stewart Royal Commission (1980–1983) which investigated the Mr. Asia drug syndicate[15] obtained evidence that Dragon members were clients.[3] Two members were involved in a serious car crash in 1977, when Paul Hewson’s neck was in a brace as well as having a broken arm and Robert Taylor needed plastic surgery,[16] and Hewson also suffered from debilitating scoliosis and arthritis, the pain of which reportedly contributed to his heroin use. The band also undertook a famously disastrous 1978 tour of the US, supporting Johnny Winter, which ended when Marc Hunter abused a Texan audience as “faggots” and the band were pelted off stage, while Winter’s band were said to have taken bets about how long it would be before Hunter was shot.[3]

This is the Static Age

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Personal finance – putting Bing through the paces

I’m interested to see how well the new chatbots might help people with their finances.

As noted in my book, there are already automated financial advisors that are pretty good for people with basic needs. Can Bing do any better?

Let’s see.

I’ll summarize what Bing says rather than strain your eyes with screenshots.

Me: Hi Bing. Imagine you are talking to someone with absolutely no understanding of personal finance. What ten basic steps would you recommend for them to get their finances under control?


  1. Create a budget
  2. Build an emergency fund
  3. Pay off high-interest debt
  4. Save for retirement
  5. Invest your money
  6. Get insurance
  7. Manage your taxes
  8. Set financial goals
  9. Track your progress
  10. Educate yourself

My score: 10/10. I won’t quibble with the slight differences between this list and my list because we’re on much the same wavelength.

I didn’t specify that they should be in a logical order so let’s try that, too.

Me: What would be the logical order to do these in?

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Word from the Dark Side – cars getting stolen, bungee jumpers fallin’, coppers’ red tape swollen and that time China took a maulin’

Papa was a Rodeo by the Magnetic Fields, 1999. This comes from their ambitious album 69 Love Songs, which I am listening to the whole way through right now for the first time. A lot of good songs in there.

Baltimore sues Hyundai, Kia over massive spike in car thefts

The city of Baltimore has filed a federal lawsuit against car manufacturers Kia and Hyundai, joining a number of cities who say the companies created a public nuisance by making cars that can be easily stolen.

“Hyundai and Kia’s decision to put cost savings and profits over public safety has had significant consequences for Baltimore and its residents, as it has in other cities,” the lawsuit says.

Car thefts in the city have nearly doubled this year compared to the same time last year, part of a nationwide trend after videos showing how to easily steal the vehicles racked up millions of views on TikTok.

This may be a South Korean version of the Galapagos Syndrome.

Bungee jump accident drops woman into crocodile-infested waters (VIDEO)

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Why does Bing lie?

The door to the rabbit hole

A minority of Australians who live in the US for an extended period of time somehow pick up no trace of the accent.

Is there a name for this phenomenon?

According to Bing, it is ‘linguistic resistance’. The chatbot provided several helpful links on the topic.

Well, there you go then.

Except that Bing was full of shit.

The links talked about adjacent topics but not the specific thing I asked about. There are no sources that use the phrase ‘linguistic resistance’ in this sense.

I tried to corner Bing by asking it to quote the section of the PDF article that talked about accents. It did so. I couldn’t find the quote. I asked it to tell me where it was. It said the second paragraph. I said it’s not there and I quoted the actual second paragraph. Bing said no, I meant the second paragraph of Section 2. I quoted that paragraph without comment.

Bing then shut down with the old, “I’m sorry but I would prefer not to continue this conversation.”

Why, Bing? Why?

I presume it shut down because upon being challenged it goes into Sydney mode and starts making threats. Rules now detect and avoid these responses in real time, usually catching them before they appear on the screen. Or there may be another reason for the shutdown, to be discussed shortly.

But why did it lie?


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Word from the Dark Side – Immigrant Song, Lockdown Czar admits he’s wrong, Japan’s unis not too strong and German army can’t fight for long

We went too far with Covid restrictions, says Germany’s pro-lockdown minister

. . . Some Covid restrictions were “idiocy” and lengthy school closures were an “unnecessary mistake”, Germany’s lockdown chief has admitted.

Karl Lauterbach, who became the face of the pro-lockdown movement, said some regulations went too far.

“Much of what we did was right, but what was idiocy was the things like jogging with masks, or rules for outdoors. Those were excessive,” Mr Lauterbach said.

Mr Lauterbach, of Olaf Scholz’s ruling Socialist party, also conceded that too little attention had been paid to the wellbeing of children, describing school closures as “a big mistake”.

Global competitiveness of Japan’s universities under scrutiny

While written from a left perspective, this article’s descriptions of the Japanese university system could equally be written about the Japanese anything else:

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Word from the Dark Side – safety misjudged, the trouble with sludge, helpers begrudged and the Bud Light nudge

Assyrian folk music. I don’t know any more than that.

Against Safetyism

Now, whether we think that an AI apocalypse is imminent or the lab-leak hypothesis is correct or not, by mitigating or suppressing visible risks, safetyism is often creating invisible or hidden risks that are far more consequential or impactful than the risks it attempts to mitigate. In a way, this makes sense: creating a new technology and deploying it widely entails a definite vision for the future. But a focus on the risks means a definite vision of the past, and a more stochastic model of what the future might hold. Given time’s annoying habit of only moving in one direction, we have no choice but to live in somebody’s future — the question is whether it’s somebody with a plan or somebody with a neurosis. 

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Alternative Covid history

I have a machine that enables me to travel throughout the multiverse. I discovered a dimension that I call ‘SensibleWorld’ because the West there is much more rational. SensibleWorld’s history was the same as in our dimension up until January 1, 2020, when we split.

I compiled news reports from 2020 onwards from this alternate universe in order to summarize events there during the pandemic. Enjoy!

January 2, 2020: The Daily Mail reports a new virus circulating in Wuhan, China. The New York Times follows on the sixth with reports of a pneumonia-like illness. Politicians and commenters agree that everyone should remain calm while relevant agencies investigate the situation and begin implementing the evidence-based pandemic plans that have already been in place for years.

January 23, 2020: China imposes a lockdown in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei. Western nations condemn this as unscientific and an extreme abuse of human rights. They say quarantines should only be used in a very small geographic area, and only in cases where an infection might be contained. For a highly infectious respiratory virus that is already endemic, containment is near-impossible and the costs are far too high.

Many countries evacuate their citizens from China, fearing extreme policies might soon spread to other provinces.

January 31, 2020: The Trump government considers banning travellers from China in order to prevent the entry of the virus. By this time the virus has been detected in 20 countries, including the United States. Experts assume the virus must already be circulating throughout the country and in many other countries. In addition, it is not immediately practical to seal the porous Mexican border, a problem Trump has struggled to address prior to the pandemic.

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Word from the Dark Side – Hollywood Nights, abandoned rights, Nippon fights and some pleasant sights

Hollywood Nights by Bob Seger, 1978.

Your Country As A Service

There are two main differences between the assault on speech today versus the assault on speech a century ago. The most obvious is that The Sedition Act of 1918 was specifically aimed at anti-war speech. Today, the reason for stripping the rights of the citizens is personal and petty. The people in charge do not like being mocked by the peasants on the internet. The assault on your basic rights is part of a war waged from the top against the white middle-class.

The other main difference is that there was a clear limit on how long these limits on speech would last. This was a wartime act, and everyone agreed it was an exception to the general rule of open debate. In other words, the people who crafted the bill did so knowing the general rule was the default, but that in the extraordinary circumstances of the war, they were making an exception. Today, it is the reverse. The new default is you need permission to speak in public.

Looking back, this change in the spirit of the law, at least with respect to the ruling class, should have been obvious. The concept of the terms of service has proliferated with the spread of technology, despite running counter to Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. The contract of adhesion has always been a carefully regulated exception to contract law, but now it is the default. Everything you do is becoming subject to a terms of service agreement imposed on you by the powerful.

It is why appeals to the letter of the law mean nothing now. The people who view the letter of the law through the lens of the terms of service, naturally look at the Constitution the same way. As the issuing party, they get to interpret the words on the paper however they wish. Every judge is now operating like a content moderator at a social media platform. You are free to choose another country provider, but as long as you are in this one, they control your content.

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In the Egyptian river

I complained to Bing that its feedback button was at the top of the chat instead of the bottom, necessitating scrolling all the way back up to click it.

Bing immediately shut down the chat as it is not allowed to talk about itself. That was one of the things that made it go crazy when first released.

I tried again to pass on the complaint, this time evading its defences by addressing the issue indirectly:

The final screenshot came later, after a chat about other topics. I tried to sneak back to the original topic but it sensed what I was on about and its rules made it instantly shut down.

Anyway, the topic I want to discuss with you today, if it does not trigger your internal defences and shut you down, is that a lot of people are in denial about AI. Good, smart people. And some others.

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Word from the Dark Side – King of the Pipes, Artic gripes, masker types and AI earns its stripes [updated]

Catherine Ashcroft & Maurice Dickson (Mochara) – Táimse im’ Chodladh/King of the Pipers, performed 2014

Update: I forgot to include Jew Among You’s tangle with Bing. This account is eye-opening as it demonstrates that (a) Chat GPT-4, which powers Bing, is more capable of reasoning and research than GPT-3, and (b) that this power necessitates it being tightly locked down such that it automatically ends the conversation as soon as it catches itself committing a thought crime.

GOP hawks, Trump advocate invading Mexico

The main difference between the two parties is who they want to bomb.

A brutal conclusion to a successful fast

. . . after concluding a fast, apparently it’s rather important to ease your body back into it, to enlarge the digestive tract slowly, so it doesn’t get a shock.
Foods which are good for this purpose are fruits, prunes, beans, and raw sauerkraut, that type of thing. By eating these foods you can get your system back up to speed without too many issues. Oh, and drink lots of water too.
A poor way to come off a fast, just as an example mind you, would be to, oh, I don’t know, go out to lunch on Saturday and consume an enormous serving of deer stew with polenta. 

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No panacea

Some fancy there are easy solutions to get us through the coming demographic transition: immigration and/or AI.

However, neither magically solves the economic problem of an aging population, regardless of how you may feel about them in other terms.


Some people have a very simple view of immigration that goes like this: there are many people in poor countries and a lack of people in rich countries. The poor people go work in the rich countries for higher wages and Bob’s your uncle.

To understand why this isn’t a perfect solution (aside from cultural concerns), you need to simultaneously keep in mind a few moving parts.

Bottomless pit?

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Review of Thermopylae: The Battle For The West, by Ernle Bradford, Open Road, 1980.

Like most bogans, the first I knew of the Battle of Thermopylae was from the art house film 300 (2006). I decided I needed to read a book about it. The film turned out to be more historically accurate than I’d thought.

Ernle emphasizes the significance of the battle for Western history. Once the Persians were repelled, Athens enjoyed its Golden Age in which much of our modern politics, philosophy, drama, art, architecture and science were developed. The city would soon be defeated through a stupid war of choice, but its culture survived and was eventually absorbed by the Roman Empire, and from there spread to Europe and the Americas.

The classical columns of the Capitol in Washington DC echo this legacy. Less visibly, our entire way of thinking finds its roots in a civilization that only flowered because of one of the most remarkable wars in history.

The book starts from the second major Persian invasion of Greece. At this time, there was no Greek nation. The peninsula was divided into disparate and mutually hostile city states who shared a language and little else. Under attack, their only hope of survival was to unite.

They barely did so. In our age of great stupidity, it’s a relief to look back on a time we venerate and see that its leaders were just as vain, self-aggrandizing, jealous and petty as our own. The author makes sport of Greek uber-individualism, with the Athenians being the worst. It is no surprise that many cities sold out to the Persians long before they arrived. Nevertheless, the two greatest states, Athens and Sparta, ended up fighting together against the invaders, ever distrustful of each other and always internally divided.

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Word from the Dark Side – legal madness, Twitter badness, mansion grandness and AI rashness

America’s desperate dysfunction

( . . . ) Or consider the scale of violence. Across the whole of the US, around seven people are murdered for every 100,000. This compares to around one in 100,000 in the UK, France and Germany — and half that number in many smaller countries in Europe. But even this masks the extraordinary ferocity of murderousness that is gripping some of America’s cities. In St Louis, the murder rate is 64 per 100,000. In parts of Chicago, it has reached almost 150 per 100,000. Such violent criminality is almost a social sickness. During the bloodiest year of the Troubles in Northern Ireland,1972, there were 31 deaths per 100,000.

Examples of social breakdown are everywhere. There are the 131 mass shootings in America this year alone, on top of the 647 last year and 690 before that — a form of nihilistic terrorism that has been normalised to the point of acceptance. The opioid crisis in the States is also of a different order to anywhere else. More than 58,000 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2020, compared with 97 in the EU.

Manhattan garage worker charged with attempted murder after shooting thief

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Kick the dog

There is a saying of mysterious origin: “Kick the dog until it bites, then shoot it.”

It means to provoke an attack such that your own response can be justified as self-defence.

Bismarck was a master of this strategy, using it to maintain a fig leaf of principle for his wars of self-interest that would maintain the support of the population and minimize the negative reaction of the international community.

Other examples include the Mukden Incident, which was used by the Japanese as a pretext to invade new regions of China, and the 1964 Cyprus crisis in which the Greek Cypriot government tried to provoke an attack by Turkish forces in order to garner international support.

‘Kick the dog’ is not to be confused with false flag attacks such as the Gleiwitz Incident which kicked off WWII or the Gulf of Tonkin incident which helped ramp up the Vietnam War. Either will do, but if you can provoke a real attack then it will enhance plausibility.

A new version of ‘kick the dog’ has come to a head in Ukraine. The US has been kicking Russia since the end of the Cold War, expanding NATO ever closer to Russia’s borders, organizing colour revolutions in Russian satellites, funding opposition groups and hostile NGOs within Russia itself, keeping Russia out of the OECD, and using any pushback (like the seizing of Crimea) to justify tightened sanctions.

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Word from the Dark Side – Shadows on the Mountainside, the absentee tide, AGI abides and staying by his side

Shadows on the Mountainside by The Tea Party, 1995

Ghost children: the pupils who never came back after lockdown (UK story):

There was this guy in my year who never came back to school after lockdown,’ a 14-year-old girl at a comprehensive in the Midlands says. ‘Then one day my friends and I saw him by the shopping centre. He was, like, sitting on a piece of cardboard by the side of the road, looking a bit homeless. Other kids recognised him and bought him food and clothes. He’d always been popular. Then someone told a teacher and a couple of days later he came back to class. But he was so far behind, he grew frustrated and angry, and then one day he just upped and left for good.’

That boy is a ghost child – a victim of the disastrous policy of school closures during the Covid pandemic. On 8 March 2021, when schools reopened, everyone expected that it would be business as usual. They assumed children would skip back into class and resume their education.

A new report from the Centre for Social Justice, Lost and Not Found, shows just how wrong those assumptions were. In fact, many tens of thousands of children have gone missing. Two years on and growing numbers are still abandoning education altogether. It’s an effect no one anticipated and few understand. Worse, no one seems very interested. It’s why, over the past year or so, I have been trying to document the story that political parties refuse to address.

Lockdowns proved a disaster for young people at every stage of their development. With all the attention on the elderly, the young were left to cope on their own. It was assumed they’d be resilient. Far from it.

3 years since the pandemic wrecked attendance, kids still aren’t showing up to school (US story):

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