The Future of The Civilized World vs. Those Pesky Birthrates

(this article originally appeared December 5, 2014 in Stepkid Magazine)

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One recurring theme you hear in both mainstream media and alternate right narratives is how the birthrates of native born populations of Europe, the US and places like Japan are below replacement levels and that we need to either import more immigrants or start having more children if we want to survive. I say, no we don’t. At the very least, we can’t know yet if we do or don’t.

Are we committing suicide or preserving ourselves?

The reason why intelligent people have less children is that they recognize how much of a responsibility taking care of a child is and think ahead about how they can pay for it. Other demographics seem to have a shorter time horizon and less impulse control(see the lollipop time horizon study.) They don’t think about any of that “down the road” stuff. They just pop out babies and let the chips fall where they may while society is left to clean up the mess. We don’t know what the long term future holds. It could be that breakthroughs in medical technology will lead to humans having much longer lifespans, and thus there would be less of a need to increase birthrates. Encouraging responsible people just to start primitively pumping out babies indiscriminately whether they can afford them or not just to get their numbers up, is not forward thinking. If you want to encourage them to have more children, work to provide an environment where having and raising children is seen as affordable and logical, and not as a liability. Our present society isn’t it.

In the early 70’s, capable working class guys could get a factory job right out of high school that paid 30 to 35k per year. plenty of money to start a family on in those days, and so they did. 40 years later, those jobs are gone and salaries haven’t increased much, while the cost of living has. Having a child can be a financial disaster for a person who cares enough to be responsible for them. I have a friend who got his girlfriend pregnant and now pays $1000 a month in child support(even though he doesn’t even have visitation rights,) which amounts to nearly half of his take home pay check.

As far as a culture that views children as a liability as “committing suicide,” I would urge you to take a look at what happens in the wild when populations of animals grow wildly. It often leads to mass starvation and disease and ends up destroying the whole herd. Or you can just take a look at Africa to see the result of people living on pure “id” and how it
affects a civilization.

There’s no way to know what the long term future holds based on present birthrates. There are too many variables involved. In the 60’s and 70’s people were convinced there would be massive overpopulation(Soylent Green, The Population Bomb, etc.) Those projections didn’t pan out. Just because birthrates are declining below replacement level(a favorite topic of Pat Buchanan) among certain demographics, doesn’t mean the population will decline all the way down to zero. It could be that we have way too may people right now, so after it gets down to the point where we are once again running around freely in the open spaces of the post apocalyptic frontier or merely mining the underground caverns of mars, babyfever could return in some form.

It’s not defeatist to believe so either. Defeatism would be having a bunch of children you can’t afford and then thinking the resulting generation of poorly raised, dysfunctional, meth addicted white trash would be somehow be a step forward for civilization(but we got the birthrates up!)

For one thing, it’s irrelevant whether sperm counts are reduced, as in the near future they won’t be required for reproduction. Advanced scientific intelligence is more of an evolutionary advantage in the long term than just pumping out babies. Through medicine, eradication of diseases which had wiped out entire populations of primitive people put us way ahead of “build huts and hump” crowd. The real question is not whether we can reproduce at the same rate, but whether we can be smart enough to separate ourselves from the overbreeders to create an environment where we can thrive. The technological advances I’m talking about aren’t “pie in the sky” Heinleinian dreams. They’re in the works. No one is talking about Highlander style “immortality,” but there’s little question that in the future people will be living much longer than they do now. Most likely, people in the distant future will look back and think how short and miserable our lives must have been, the same way we look back at the days before people had electricity, cars, running water, etc.

It’s cool though. Some people would rather we all live in trailers and bone down all day to create kids we can’t afford, because you know “we’ll have more Caucasian and Japanese people!” They advocate going down to the level of backward peoples so we can reproduce irresponsibly like they do and keep up with them. I’d rather us climb to a higher level entirely, one that man has not yet reached. While the others are out there in their wife beaters, smoking overtaxed Winston cigs, juggling their 8 kids(that they won’t be able to see because they can’t make the child support payments) trying to outbreed mobs of barbarians and battle it out with them on the streets, we’ll be off in our own homeland putting up a force field to keep out the riff raff, so they can’t interrupt us while we’re interacting with virtual reality porn and trying to watch marathons of Battlestar Galactica(upbeat 70’s version, not the bleak and castrated remake.)

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Cherry 2015 – If Loving A Fembot Is Artificial, I Don’t Want To Be Genuine

(this article originally appeared Nov 22, 2014 in Stepkid Magazine)

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One of the most prescient dystopian science fiction films of the 1980’s turned out to be the (direct to video?) 1987 movie, “Cherry 2000.”

The future depicted in Cherry 2000 is one where sexual encounters and relationships with real women have become complicated legal transactions requiring lawyers, and have been reduced to merely emotionless business arrangements. The women are typically aggressive, masculine, demanding and shrill. It leads to an environment where the rare romantic guy, who still longs for a traditional loving relationship, would actually find a courtship with a female android more emotionally fulfilling than one with a real live organic woman. It’s sort of a more sympathetic, less horrific spin on “The Stepford Wives” theme. In Stepford, the men killed their loving yet sassy wives in exchange for robot sex slaves who would do the dishes and clean the house without giving them any grief. They were portrayed unmistakably as as evil pricks. In contrast, the physically human women are the ones who display the robotic behavior in Cherry 2000, while the romantic men are forced to seek out the loving emulation of androids for any “meaningful” companionship. Of course the film sells out in the end, as the main character who sacrifices everything in a dangerous quest to replace his beloved, short circuited fembot(Cherry, played by Pamela Gidley) with the identical discontinued model, ultimately falls for the crass and bitchy, tomboyish tracker, “Edith”(Melanie Griffith) whom he’s hired to help locate the robot.

With the advent of “yes means yes” laws it doesn’t seem like it will be long before men will be required to get some type of verbally recorded or written consent to engage in sexual activity with a seemingly “turned on” girl, to shield themselves from litigation or criminal prosecution if she turns on them later. As if getting a girl pregnant or contracting an STD wasn’t enough to worry about, now we have bigger fish to fry. Indeed, there is already a phone app for sexual consent, called Good2Go.

cherry2000

Recent developments over the past two decades have lead me to conclude we’re headed towards Cherry 2000 style dating in America. Indeed, I’ve started to notice that the crudely annoying spambots on Tinder and Okcupid have been getting more sophisticated in their programming to the point where interacting with them can be more romantically stimulating than talking to actual chicks(which, if you’ve ever had an unfortunate exchange with one of these Tinderbots you would realize is more of a knock on the sorry state of the 21st century female conversational experience than it is one marveling in wonder at the advancements in artificial intelligence spam.)

Then there are video game characters. Back in a particularly isolated time period of my life in 2001 and 2002, when all I did was drink diet pepsi, eat microwave popcorn and play old Super Nintendo RPGs in my studio apartment, I would occasionally develop what I guess you could call “crushes” on some of the female sprites in the games(such as Rydia from Final Fantasy IV, Marle and Schala from Chrono Trigger, Paula from Earthbound, etc.) even to where I began to curiously research the technological possibilities of transferring human consciousness to a computer. I was thinking of course that if i could somehow hack a sprite that resembled me into the game’s ROM, that it might be possible to get something going. Yeah, it’s crazy but so what? Realized dreams are the work of madmen. I also saw Tron in the theater when I was a kid so perhaps it left a subconscious impression on me.

In any case, if that kind of emotion was possible to evoke in the days of 16 bit SNES pixelation, I can only imagine how real a romance could be in the context of modern video games which are now much more advanced in their elaborate overworlds, roleplays and simulations. Thousands if not millions of men and women find the virtual experience of video games more appealing than going outside and playing. It would be naive to think that organic human love would be any less vulnerable to competition from artificial intelligence than other components of our earthly existence.

Dust off your 1980’s JC Penney catalog and get your fembots on order, men! This scene is coming to a nightclub or campus near you.

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How to Recognize the Signs That You Work For a Corporate Cult (and Still Enjoy the Free Snacks!)

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There’s a mildly disturbing trend that’s been developing over the last decade or two. Many corporations are becoming more like cults insofar as the indoctrination, motivational, and recruitment methods they employ on their workers. I’ve personally encountered this first hand through working for such companies, interviewing with many more of them, as well as from experience of dating girls who were employed/captivated by such institutions. It is no longer sufficient to merely put forth the effort and achieve solid results in a given job and expect a paycheck. Companies now seem to require you to be a devoted disciple of their brand as well as adhere to their “new agey” pseudo corporate philosophies in all aspects of your life. “We all live and breathe Such and Such Internet Company Inc” an interviewer recently told me without even a hint of understated sarcasm. “We want someone 100 percent dedicated to our brand, 24/7.” Well, it’s not me, pal. You might have some useful products, and I’d be happy to promote them for you, maybe even exaggerate their value a bit if I have to, in exchange for some steady cash, but I don’t live life solely for the ideals of pimping someone’s goods and services that people don’t truly need(and they don’t.) In other words, my workplace does not equal my identity.

It’s one thing to slightly overemphasize the quality of the services and pretend your business is doing really amazing things for the sake of making a buck.. yet these companies are filled with true believers. Millennials(particularly of the female variety) seem to be the most hardcore cult followers. They often possess a passion for the internet companies they work for not unlike the cheerful enthusiasm of Kim Cattrall’s character in the religious training camps portrayed in the 1981 film “Ticket to Heaven.” Truthfully though, I’ve seen office “bros,” sorority sluts, and even Hillary Clinton pantsuit rocking business women get emotional to the point of tears when speaking about their love and devotion to the social media marketing firm they slave for. “Umm, excuse me, you know this is just a place that sells ads and stuff, right?” is the heretic thought that immediately pops into a free mind, which dares not be spoken aloud. “We don’t sell things here. We provide solutions that are going to save small businesses.”

Like cults, many modern businesses have their own unique lingo and bizarre euphemistic terminology for internal processes and hierarchies. The Moonies “love bombed” people. Corporations have “fuel calls,” “culture committees,” seemingly urgent commands like “so and so needs to be sparked,” as well as hundreds of other phrases, acronyms and code words which usually make little sense to anyone outside the particular organization. All of the pep talks, the slogans, the videos, the motivational team building activities, the chanting, the charismatic guru CEO’s(whom often look like they could have doubled as 70’s porn stars in another life) and their henchmen can leave a relatively sane person feeling pretty isolated working at one of these places.

Notice how managers increasingly stress the importance of someone being a “good culture fit,” when discussing the recruitment of prospective employees. This has typically been a weasely code for age discrimination against older applicants, people with merely annoying idiosyncrasies, or even those possessing wack fashion styles. Basically, they want someone who is on the same page as everyone else…someone who isn’t going to make waves or stir the pot. I’ve also heard of the “culture fit” copout being used to discriminate against women, but in my experience girls tend to be the most likely to benefit(at least the attractive ones,) and they are typically those most obsessed with promoting/developing company culture in general. Perhaps it is just ugly people who are not a good culture fit, and gender is irrelevant. Pseudo-scientific “predictive index” styled psychological tests and assessments are given to screen hopeful applicants(sometimes even before initial human interviews) in an attempt to weed out potential agitators and those that might be a “bad fit” for the position and the company. If you play the game without rolling your eyes in front of them, manage to maneuver through their psychological assessments, “gotcha” roleplay scenarios and are lucky enough to be chosen, they expect you to live your life as an unquestioning extension, a tentacle of their brand, even outside of work. How you conduct yourself in private can indeed reflect negatively on their business, but that’s precisely because of the increasingly pervading mindset that you = your job. These same companies often creepily describe employees as being “part of our family.” Now that actual families are typically smaller and likely to be separated geographically, many young people are on their own without any support structure, and these money making entities are filling the void. It’s nice to be taken care of when you’re struggling in a lonely big city, but it sucks balls to have to give up your soul and individuality in return. After all, the People’s Temple provided for their followers’ needs as well(just don’t drink the Flavor-Aid.) Indeed, some large internet companies are starting to build onsite housing for their workers. With all their needs met and a happy environment employees will no longer have to be concerned with anything in life except being productive.

There is a positive side to all this of course. Anyone who has ever worked in a boiler room call center knows what a truly  shitty work environment is like: Are you hungry? Cool, dude. There’s a vending machine in the break room, but the candy bars are close to being expired, and you sometimes have to shake it or it will eat your quarters. I usually just get a hot dog from the 7-11 across the street.” The uncomfortable chairs with mystery stains on them, the manager who screams at you if you’re two minutes late back from break, the disgusting, obnoxious, trashy, fatass coworkers who talk while eating Hot Cheetos and chew with their mouth open, etc. Such are the traumatic memories of workplaces in our previous lives, pre “do not call list” era, telemarketing shitholes of the 1990s, “engrams” needing to be wiped out in auditing sessions. To that extent these new companies with their catered lunches, on site massage therapists, “work hard play hard” mentality, and serene, smiley face ambiance are a very welcome change. There was undeniably a silver lining to hating a horrible job environment though. It drove us to seek out genuine fulfillment in other areas of our lives and to dream. Whether it was through having children, writing a science fiction novel, or even just sitting around watching reruns of Charlie’s Angels and The Rockford Files, it was something in the outside world that had nothing to do with work, whereby our minds could detach and deprogram. I’ll admit it’s tough to reconcile libertarian free market economic views with the cynical reality of how big companies actually operate these days, the way they manipulate people and turn them into walking commercials… zombies with high resolution logos. In fact, I don’t think I can do it, and I certainly don’t enough care enough to try. At least for now you can still choose which cult you want to join though, or whether you want to join at all.

So, if you’re looking for a job, get with the program and join a team today. By all means, work for one of these 21st century corporate cults. Enjoy every excess they offer. Everyone is so happy! You’ll love coming to work every day. Just remember though, during the morning meeting when they lead the “energy chant,” make sure(while maintaining a shit eating grin on your face) to mutter your own unique version under your breath. Give them your talents, but keep your soul. Oh, and unlike some cults, if you try to leave these ones, you can actually walk right out the door. Good luck out in the streets of San Francisco(or Austin or Brooklyn or wherever – insert yuppie white liberal metro area here -.) Michael Douglas and the late Karl Malden won’t be there to save you from the mobs of the violently schizophrenic homeless people or assist you with the area’s astronomical rent costs. Anyhow, you probably won’t really want to leave any company in this job market, but unlike a real life biological family, if they ever decide you’re not useful anymore to their cause, your smiling brothers and sisters in commerce will “offload” your ass in a heartbeat. Enjoy those catered team lunches while they’re hot, but beware of wolves in hipster millennial CEO clothing.

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