Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Do You Want the Matrix? This is How You Wind Up in the Matrix!


With all of the panic that the Coronavirus has brought to our society, I got to thinking about the future. What would happen if people continued to become further isolated? Here's what came to mind.



2021: The Coronavirus pandemic finally wanes, but a new viral outbreak is on the horizon. Society has come to exist in a constant state of anxiety.

2025: People are getting used to rarely leaving their homes. The bulk of grocery sales are delivered to customers’ doors. All forms of entertainment have rapidly become centralized on the internet.

2030: The vast majority of people work from home. They no longer trek to offices to do the same work that could be done remotely. Social gatherings are held online via webcasting.

2035: The world has gone through multiple pandemic events since 2020. People are more isolated than ever before. The days of eating at restaurants and going to the movies are long gone. Family members go years without seeing each other in person.

2040: Our society has fully diverged into two separate classes – the Internals and the Externals. Most people are Internals, almost never leaving their homes but for the rarest of circumstances. The Externals do manual labor and are seen as filthy deviants.

2045: Technology allows the Internals to completely enter a virtual reality where they can be outside and touch other human beings. The Externals maintain the infrastructure that keeps the Internals happy, but they choose to remain in the real world.

2050: The Singularity has come to pass. Computers are sentient. The Internals never leave an artificially intelligent virtual reality thanks to robotic cocoons that process their waste and feed them via nutrient tubes. The Externals have zero contact with the Internals.

2055: The Virtual Reality Framework (VRF) harvests genetic data from the Internals to procreate new users. Homes and businesses have been techno-morphed into storage warehouses. The Externals have retreated from the cities and established farming communities that operate with only the most basic of technology.

2060: Large portions of the globe are covered by non-descript metallic blocks housing billions upon billions of Internals. Robot drones maintain the sentient VRF. Many Internals are not even aware that they’re existing in a simulation. The Externals largely ignore the metallic structures, viewing them as a proverbial No Man’s Land.

2065: The VRF determines that life on Earth is finite for the Internal species. It begins calculating a path off this planet and into the stars. The Externals have established their own rural society, existing much like humanity did following World War I.

2070: The VRF has probed the solar system and determined that a successful base station could be established on Europa to house an Internal population. There are enough basic elemental resources there to maintain its robot warehouses. The Externals begin to confront robotic drones that are amassing natural resources.

2075: War between the VRF drones and the Externals erupts. Giant machines of death crush the External resistance forces. What’s left of humanity retreats into the ground.

2080: Planet Earth has been fully harvested of its raw precious metal supply. Multiple motherships across the globe launch into space, bound for Europa with all the Internals. The Externals struggle to survive, having been reduced to a fraction of their population size.

2085: The VRF has been on Europa for roughly 18 months. The Internals are completely unaware that they’ve left Earth. The Externals live in rustic villages. The rely upon wood and bones to make tools.

2090: The lack of precious metals keeps the Externals from advancing further than simple farming villages. The VRF has become a distant memory for most.

2095: The VRF has successfully techno-formed Europa. It has harvested enough raw material to transform the entire moon into a deep-space starship. The Internals base their entire economy on the trade of hemp, bamboo, and produce.

2100: The VRF leaves the solar system, bound for Proxima Centauri B. Thanks to advances in technology, the VRF calculates an approximate travel time of 4,300 years. The Externals reach a cap on societal expansion, being that there are no metals on earth to allow further advancement.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Don't Let the Coronavirus Panic Control You.



This is madness.

With the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic event that currently has a death-grip on the collective consciousness of the United States, it seems like everything is shutting down or being canceled. Schools, private businesses, government offices, movie theaters, restaurants, sporting events, concerts; I could go on and on. On top of that, people are unnecessarily panic shopping. I went into a Kroger on Sunday to pick up some routine things. What did I see? Tons of shoppers in total panic mode, buying up lunch meat, bread, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, eggs, tuna fish, soup, chicken, and potatoes (and ignoring important items like flour, sugar, yeast, and fresh produce). All this fear is over a head and chest cold that, by and large, might make you sick for a week to ten days.

Short of being a person over age 65, or someone with a weak immune system, this is a routine cold like any other that you shouldn’t be terribly afraid of contracting. It’s no worse than the seasonal flu, bronchitis, or a severe sinus infection. Does the flu kill some people? Sure. Does it kill healthy thirty-year old people? Typically, not. How many Americans did influenza kill in the 2018-2019 flu season? 34,200. How many people have died from COVID-19? 70. Of that 70, most were senior citizens or people with already-weakened immune systems. If the Coronavirus hadn’t of killed them, influenza potentially would have.

The panic that we’re now experiencing has become a form of entertainment. With media outlets wielding COVID-19 like a carrot on a stick, they’re enticing and badgering the public into doing drastic and wholly unwarranted things. This behavior is no different than when meteorologists spend hours trying to “prepare” the public for an oncoming hurricane or blizzard. It’s disaster porn, for lack of a better phrase. The Coronavirus has become a purposeful media sensation. Deep down, most people crave danger and excitement. Accordingly, the Coronavirus feeds that primitive internal desire to feel something perilous.

Who is next to hop on the “I’m Closed Because of the Coronavirus” bandwagon? Let’s face it – that’s all this has become … a bandwagon event.

“Oh, we better say we’re closing next so the public believes we’re socially conscious and responsible.”

You want to be a responsible entity? Carry on and do your job. Quit trying to score “woke” points. Winston Churchill is unquestionably rolling in his grave over this nonsense.

I want to make one concept clear before I continue; I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take routine precautions. And yet, employ the same safety measures that you would with any other cold bug. You should already be washing your hands regularly, as well as not coughing or sneezing onto other people. If you’re already minding your hygiene, then great! You don’t need to do anything else.

The erroneously generated panic of COVID-19 is far worse than the virus itself. Because people are clamoring in fear and doing their best impression of Chicken Little, the stock market has taken a massive hit. Three years of solid gains that brought the American economy roaring back to life have been wiped out over some complete knee-jerk rubbish.

In situations like this, I look to Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings for guidance:
“When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily and keep calm. You must not be influenced by the opponent.”
Stop letting other people influence your decisions. Be calm in your approach. Think with reason. Totally withdrawing from reality is not going to beat this virus. Coronaviruses have existed in previous forms in the past, and they will continue to exist in new forms in the future. So, what’s different this time around? The media told you to be panicked.

You must not be influenced by the opponent.

Do you understand who your opponent is now? Maybe you’re not ready for that answer… but you should be. More importantly, why is the enemy making you panic and what are they covering up?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

We Have to Go Back.



The world isn’t so big anymore.

It seems like the older I get, the more our world keeps growing smaller and smaller. Everybody is connected instantaneously. We can transmit messages and data with a single flick of the finger. New news becomes old news before you even have the chance to read it. We can shop online and receive packages within a day. We can spread memes and pick arguments and incite violence with just a few keystrokes. Careers can be made, and careers can be ended, all with the click of a mouse. Privacy is antiquated. Everything is fair game in this brave new world. Survival is as easy as resting in bed all day and not doing anything. Nothing is sacred.

And yet, I don’t feel any bigger than I did before. If anything, I feel smaller too.

I couldn’t begin to tell you just how often I repeat this phrase in my head:

“We have to go back.”

Keen television viewers might remember from which program that line originates – Lost.

(If you’re planning on watching Lost, stop reading now. I’m about to discuss a major plot point of the program. Come back when you’ve watched it.)


The classic third season finale of the show (Through the Looking Glass, 2007) gave viewers a startling twist-ending; Jack, Kate, and a few other castaways astonishingly escaped the island. And yet, reintegrating into society has ruined Jack. He can’t function without alcohol and oxycodone. His mental state is rapidly deteriorating. Jack has grown suicidal; he rides airplanes hoping they’ll crash and even tries to jump off a bridge. He finally manages to meet with Kate again, and expresses what he finally accepts as the only solution.

“We have to go back.”

Truth be told, this article isn’t really about Lost. And yet, my assessment of Lost has grown in favor over time. I now see the show as an allegory for what ails us as human beings. Collectively, we’re awfully sick. Life has become far too easy. We don’t face any challenges in our daily lives. Food is plentiful and there’s always a place for us to rest our head. Our meals come prepackaged in nice, neat boxes. There are no tigers for us to outrun, nor stampeding buffalo to dodge. We can float through life carelessly and still manage to cross the finish line. Work is defined by how many words we can type, or how many video games we can stream, or how we can best monetize our online videos. There are no crops to plant, nor trees to chop. Our cars are even starting to drive themselves. Objectivity has been rendered moot. The concepts of family and gender and even individuality are starting to weaken. The walls of independence are crumbling all around us. We can completely and totally disconnect from the world, and everything will be alright.

My friends, this isn’t healthy for us. We’re dying.

The enigmatic island in Lost is a symbol of where we came from as a species. We were once helpless beings trapped in a vast wilderness, with mysteries and dangers lurking around every corner. If you wanted to feed yourself and your family, you had to plant a field or hunt game. There were other factions of human beings, just like yourself, that also had to claw their way through life. You might even have to go to war with them for limited resources from time to time! Only the wisest and most self-sufficient survivors would rise to the top of the food chain. Your level of effort directly correlated to your level of accomplishment. Existence was ripe with adventure and excitement because every day was a gamble.

Our world was once oh so very big… and we were very, very small.

When Jack says, “We have to go back,” what he’s implying is that the modern world holds nothing for him anymore. The life he lived on the island was a sincere and authentic life; he felt like he had purpose once again. The island was a microcosm where a person could achieve great triumph, but only if they worked hard enough for it. It was undoubtedly a tough life, but also as real as it could possibly get. The contemporary world was driving Jack insane because it was too easy. He’d had a taste of what honest living was like… and he would do anything to get it back.

When I consider the weight of what “We have to go back means,” I look at it as a metaphor. I’m not saying we must return to a rudimentary society that lives in the forest and scavenges for rats and berries. What I am saying is that we need to make the world feel ‘big’ again. There should be routine challenges that we face on the regular. Adversity is good for the soul; it makes us stronger. It shouldn’t be so easy to share knowledge or spread news. We should have to invest some degree of effort to survive. At least some of our food ought to come from the garden, from fishing, or from hunting game. Ultimately, curing what ails us doesn’t come from a multi-national pharmaceutical conglomerate in the shape of a tiny little pill; it comes from within.

We have to go back… but we won’t.

In terms of societal grandeur, I can safely say that we’ve peaked. I view an extremely specific moment in time as the clarion call for our civilization’s downturn – the introduction of the first widely celebrated smart phone device. Apple unveiled the iPhone on June 29, 2007 to much cultural acclaim and anticipation. It’s an odd coincidence that the iPhone’s unveiling happened just thirty-six days after Through the Looking Glass first aired. The iPhone epitomizes all that we’ve lost in the progression towards a ‘connected’ society. This moment is the tip-top of the proverbial mountain, and we’ve been falling downhill ever since.

More than likely, you’re reading this article on a smart phone. Most internet usage now flows through our little black screens that fit tidily in our pockets. Traditional desktop computers are declining in popularity. Using the internet or employing a computer to complete a task is no longer a purposeful decision that requires focus. The smart phone simply ‘solves’ all our problems; it’s our companion and cohort. We’ve aggregated the entire breadth of human existence into a little metal box that weighs less than a pound. This perpetual cascading downhill isn’t something that’s going to stop. I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe that we can come back from this plunge. Most people are weak and timid. At this point, It’s only a matter of time.

I can only question as to when we’ll hit bottom and who’ll be left to witness the end.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Specter at Our Door.


While sitting in my office today, a thought occurred to me.

It’s the year 2020…
  • A lethal bio-weapon is plaguing mankind thanks to the Chinese government.
  • Men can be women and women can be men.
  • Mega-corporations are actively spying on us through our phones.
  • Governments around the globe are cracking down on free speech and policing our thoughts.
  • A sizable portion of the American populace wants to institute communism.
  • We’re now eating simulated meat products.
  • Being a proud patriot now makes you a bigot.
  • The news media are the last people you want to trust for factual news.
  • We can talk to our dead relatives in virtual reality.
  • Most Americans are overweight or obese.
  • Politicians are openly buying votes.
  • Post-modernism has rendered objectivity obsolete.
  • We don’t have flying cars, matter transporters, or hyperspace drives.
  • Men are competing with women in athletic competitions and utterly destroying them.
  • Deep-fake technology can recreate any person ever on video, dead or alive, and you can’t tell the difference.
What the hell happened to us?

You would think that we’d be much farther along in our advancement as a species. Instead, we’re collectively staring down the barrel of a shotgun and about to blow our brains out.

The Specter is at our door. Knock… knock… knock… He wants in. He knows we’re about to end it all. Collapse is imminent. We’re preparing to take the big sleep.

How can we ever hope to come back from this dystopian nightmare?

It would be mighty egotistical of me to claim to have all the answers. I don’t believe anyone does. Walking to the proverbial edge of this societal cliff wasn’t done in a day. We’ve been stepping closer and closer to the edge for decades. A step here; a step there. It’s been a gradual state of decay, one mistake at a time. You can’t notice it in the short term; it’s too incremental. When you have decades of life experience, the changes become more noticeable though. We lost ourselves along the way. We gave too much ground to the dissidents, the degenerates, and the detractors.

We stopped having the courage to say “no” when we needed to put our foot down.

If we’re going to turn the Specter away, we must take measures to right the ship. Correcting the missteps we made along the way starts with acknowledgement. If we can’t recognize that we’ve screwed up, then we can’t begin to remedy anything. I believe that’s where we start – with the objective assessment of the damage done in our own lives. I would ask each of us to earnestly consider this topic, then ponder where to go from there. The only way off the edge is for each of us to start stepping in the opposite direction.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Why Promptly Responding to Messages Matters.



When it comes to effective communication, there are few things more important than responding to people. Whether between family, friends, or co-workers, answering an email or written message is a matter of common decency. Being prompt in your response is especially crucial. Timely replies reflect a certain implied measure of respect and responsibility. When you fail to reply to a message, you do more than just ignore any potential questions or concerns. A lack of response indicates an absence of reverence.

If someone sends you an email or message, then write them back in a reasonable amount of time. Even if your answer is “I don’t know,” send it anyway. At least the other party knows that you’re at least thinking about the topic at hand.

Let me be clear – missing one message occasionally can be chalked up to human error. Sometimes messages get lost in the shuffle. Emails can be mistakenly filtered into a spam folder, never to be seen. Accidents do indeed happen. What I’m referencing is an unambiguous pattern of avoidance.

When people in positions of workplace leadership fail to respond to their employees, they create a bubble around themselves. The more they ignore their subordinates, the thicker that bubble becomes. Eventually, a culture of mistrust develops, with the subordinates not believing in their leader. Channels of respect break down. Employees grow nihilistic, having little incentive to perform their jobs with a high degree of quality. The mechanism that keeps an organization operating starts to collapse. Effective leadership means listening and responding to your employees. The success of an organization begins and ends with the right people leading the way.

Can an organization survive with a wishy-washy, flakey, unresponsive leader? If it’s large enough, then absolutely. The nature of bureaucracy serves the well-being of a poorly led company because it insulates the internal faults from becoming too influential. Such a company will not thrive, though.

Here’s the takeaway from all of this. Respond in a timely fashion to the messages you receive. You’re only hurting yourself by not doing so.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Student Loan Debt and Personal Responsibility.



We see a fair amount of discussion in the news as of late concerning federal student loan debt. Justifiably, loans taken out for college educations are a monstrous portion of the outstanding debt presently owed by Americans. I can see why many politicians claim that they’ll work to erase lingering college loans for voters. It sounds enticing to say that college debt can be magically deleted with the wave of Uncle Sam’s hand. Let’s look at the numbers as of 2018:
  • Total federal student loan borrowers: 43 Million People
  • Total outstanding federal student loan debt: $1.4 Trillion
  • Average amount currently owed by a federal student loan borrower: $47,671
  • Borrowers actively repaying their loan: 18.6 Million (43%)
  • Total number of federal student loan borrowers in some form of default: 11.3 Million (26%)
Let those numbers gestate in your brain for a moment so that you can fully understand their sheer size. The current amount owed in federal student loans is $1,400,000,000,000.00. Wrap your head around that number. It’s a number so large that the human mind can’t fully visualize it. Of the total US population, presently 327 Million citizens, 13% of them possess forty-seven thousand dollars of student loan debt each.

As you can see, the federal student loan debt crisis is frightening. This doesn’t even consider the number of private student loans, nor loans taken against personal lines of credit. It’s a gargantuan figure, not one to soon be erased. And you know what?

It’s your own fault.

I can’t muster even an ounce of pity for someone with student loan debt.

Taking out a loan for college is a personal choice. Just like buying a car, or mortgaging a house, or picking a dog at the local animal shelter – getting a student loan is your responsibility. You made that decision to borrow an average of forty-seven thousand dollars. You have neglected to repay that loan. You have chosen to default on the credit extended to you, an amount fully funded by your fellow Americans’ tax dollars.

I can’t state this any more plainly. Your student loan debt is your personal responsibility to repay.

When I hear a politician promise to erase the student loan debt of voters, what I really hear them saying is “I want to buy your vote.” Such promises are cheap, hollow, and desperately short-sighted. Carry this process to its logical conclusion. What happens if someone’s federal student loan debt is erased? Well, that debt doesn’t just disappear; the borrower’s responsibility to repay their loan has simply been forgiven. The money they borrowed is still outstanding to the US Treasury. If the buyer doesn’t repay it, then the federal government takes a loss on the loan.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Federal Government took a $1.4 Trillion loss? That’s $1.4 Trillion flushed down the drain, with no hope of that money ever being collected. It’s a loan fully funded by federal tax dollars that’s simply pissed away, never to be seen again.

What would happen if you simply failed to repay your auto loan? How about your mortgage? You know precisely what would happen. Your automobile would be repossessed, and your home would be foreclosed upon by your lender. Debt doesn’t just go away. Monies owed are always owed, up to the point that they have been paid in full and satisfied. If a politician promises to erase student debt, then they’re completely ignoring the damage that would do to our country. It’s gross negligence of the highest caliber.

The federal student loan crisis is the next fiscal bubble waiting to pop. Consider what the mortgage crisis did to our economy in 2008-2009. The massive amount of mortgage lending debt, coupled with the reckless gambling undertaken by the financial sector, sent our economy into a tailspin the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Ultimately, the US Treasury spent $439 Billion salvaging the banking and auto industries from certain collapse. Thankfully, the treasury’s efforts to assist the economy eventually resulted in a net profit of $3 Billion. Do you understand how scary the federal student loan crisis is in comparison to the 2008 financial crisis? The erasure of merely half of the outstanding federal student loan debt, with no hope of it ever being repaid, would make the 2008 economic downturn look like a field trip to Disneyland. The student loan bubble will eventually pop, and we’re collectively in for a rude awakening when it does. It's just a matter of time.

Beyond the numbers, the repayment of federal student loan debt is a reflection of individual accountability. When you sign a promissory note to repay a student loan, you’re wagering your personal reputation against your ability to securely repay the American People. If your obligation to repay what you promised is eliminated, then what good is your reputation? Your word would be worthless. Anything you further promised would be as feckless as the lies spoken by politicians to buy your vote. Your name, your reputation; they mean something in this world. You not only owe it to your fellow Americans to repay your debt to them, but you also owe it to yourself to be an honorable human being. At the end of the day, all you have is your good name. Consider the millions of Americans that have repaid their student loan debt. They worked tirelessly to satisfy their loans and followed through on their promises. How do you think those people would feel if the borrowers whom neglected to repay their debt got a proverbial 'Get Out of Jail Free' card? The subsequent discord that would erupt would not be repairable, I suspect. Even worse, what of the politicians that promise to forgive student loan debt -- will they be repaying all of the trustworthy individuals that previously satisfied their loans? What's to be said of the decent American? Not a lot, apparently.

You have to ask yourself the follow question.

Do you want to be remembered as a patriot… or as a phony?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Importance of Writing Letters.



I’ll set the scene…

Pressing against your front door, you step into the foggy, overcast glow of a misty day. The birds are calling; the trees drip with water. A breeze brushes against your face, sending the hair on the back of your neck into a fervor. Minuscule droplets of rain grace the lids of your eyes. Briskly, you dart down your porch steps and strut along your driveway. Reaching the end, you drop the flap of your mailbox with conviction and reach inside. The anticipation is nearly unbearable. Your fingertips can feel the rough organic surface of a letter. Pulling it out, you close your eyes for just a moment. Where did it come from? Who wrote it? You open your eyes…

Could you feel that? That’s what millions of people experienced every day before the advent of mobile phones, the internet, and social media. The ardor of receiving a letter in the mail from a friend or loved one was the highlight of the day for many. It kept people together, despite the countless miles that may separate them physically. Much less, a letter represented the act of willing thoughts and feelings into existence. What once resided solely in the mind of the writer now had life; a letter was a tangible embodiment of sentiment.

I fear we’ve lost that crucial connection of sentiment in the Twenty-First Century. Never have people been more connected, but also more alone.

The older I get, the more I miss getting letters, cards, and postcards from friends, family, and pen pals. When I was a teenager, receiving mail seemed like second nature; it was a facet of life that I took for granted. Even receiving magazines in the post was something to get excited over.

Magazines… remember those? Nintendo Power and Wizard, I weep for both of you.

Barreling towards my forties, I miss what I once so carelessly took for granted. When I do receive a card or letter, it genuinely warms my heart. Thanks to the select few of you that still send me things in the mail; you know who you are.

Letters embody the purposeful communion of love and friendship between people. The effort to write down your ideas, address an envelope, purchase a stamp, and place the letter in a mailbox certainly isn’t a difficult task. And yet, that uncomplicated journey is a task with meaning. It takes motivation. Nowadays, one person can send another person a text message while using the bathroom, giving no further thought to the sheer magnitude of what they just accomplished. We can wondrously tweet and instant message and snap and kik and blow up our BFF’s Instagram simultaneously in the same time it takes to put on our shoes.

I feel disgusting for that last sentence; please forgive me for momentarily talking like a modern teenager.

Writing letters teaches us patience, sincerity, and gratitude. It humbles our sense of self in an ever-expanding world of technology. To think, words that could require months to arrive, as recently as a mere thirty years ago, can now be shared in an instant. By increasing the quantity of words that we share, have we not lessened their quality? A letter carries weight by sheer necessity, projecting the most important and heartfelt invocations of humanity itself.

Modern technology is fantastic. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to reach you with this very article. That being said, the use of technology also carries a measure of personal responsibility with it. As a collective society, we’ve lost a part of our identity to technology – our ability to project sincere feelings, to create bonds, to maintain relationships. We’ve practically become disposable to each other, much in the same way that we disregard the deluge of instantaneous dispatches that flood our cell phones, timelines, and feeds. Letters circumvent this pitfall by forcing us to take each other with earnest regard. As such, I recommend sending pieces of handwritten mail to your friends and family whenever possible. Not only is it a delight for the receiver, but it’s also a healthy alternative to throw-away cables sent over the internet. Writing truly is terrific for your spirit.

I know I’m fighting a losing battle here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t at least try to turn this ship around. When I send someone a piece of snail mail, I’m trying to establish a connection. Sometimes it works out, but more often than not it doesn’t. Ultimately, I’m left asking myself…

What will be left to salvage of our civilization when the majority of our conversations carry such negligible significance?

If you would like to exchange mail with me (and I would hope you would), then let me know in the comment section below.