Monkey Logic no.3 – The New Abnormal

As lock-down lifts, many of us find ourselves non-specifically uneasy at the thought of returning to the world. A search for the root cause of our discomfort will yield a confusion of confabulated yarns, but I suspect monkey inside has just gotten used to lurking in his cave. He wants us to stay isolated in our pajamas because if there is one thing Monkey doesn’t like—and believe me there are many!—it is change…

…read the rest on Medium:

Or get the newsletter in your inbox every week:

Post AV. My Neo-Luddite Utopia


We bought a new Microwave oven. The dials broke on the old one and it became impossible to accurately time the heating of the macchiato for my espresso. Having super-heated the milk into a frothy explosion-then painstakingly sponged the inside of the microwave clean again-one too many times, I sighed, gathered my Extra-Vehicular Activity equipment and prepared to suit-up for an excursion beyond the safety of our habitation pod.
…by the way, on the subject of biological hazard protection, I have a stash of vintage t-shirts that I have never gotten around to throwing out. Many sport amusing and/or iconic motifs. Opinions may differ here, so I will not make any claims to objective coolness, but a Darth Vader cartoon on a face mask should look at least as cool as it once did on a t-shirt. I have persuaded my wife to add these bespoke, handmade, vintage items to her burgeoning end-times, lifestyle-accessories store.

So, microwaves. My amplifier broke. It was a monster; 7.1 surround sound, multiple zones, pain in the arse to install, far too many settings. I bought it because it could play music from iTunes, not that the single feature I bought it for ever actually worked.

When it died, I braced myself for an excursion into the HiFi zone and down amongst the seething Youtube reviews and editorials, I stumbled across a whole new segment: ‘Post AV’.

Apparently, ‘Post AV’ means simple, beautiful devices targeting a demographic tired of dicking around with tangles of cables, unwanted features, and endless menu items. They claim to do everything a complicated multi-channel AV receiver can do… only with friendly old-school Stereo instead of dozens of speaker boxes which all require power and space in your living room.

Two speakers, a couple of nobs, works pretty much out of the box…
 …Take My Damn Money!!!

I am prone to interpret things as signs. This is a sign. People are fed up with products that do things they don’t need while smuggling in features they don’t want.

Anyone for a TV that has Disney+ permanently cemented into first place on your channel list and listens to everything you say?
Then we are not going to let you have HDCP2
Don’t want HDCP2?
Don’t even know what HDCP2 is?
Tough. You need it to watch Netflix
Now shut up and buy it!

This Bundled-Crapware outbreak spread from its patient-zero-the dodgy PC manufacturers of the 2000s-to become a raging pandemic infesting our entire economy.

It doesn’t even matter to the big boys if you fight back and protest by buying an overpriced niche alternative from one of their competitors. As soon as this plucky challenger gains any appreciable market share, they will be gobbled up and your beloved product line discontinued. That will teach you!

The customer is always wrong
You get what you are given

Look, I don’t want to go off-topic and get too ranty here, but society has become numb to the incessant badgering government and big business uses to push us things we don’t want. Numb and beaten down, we became resigned to just taking it. This only empowered them to push harder and ignore our pleas to stop shoving that junk in our faces. It’s the Harvey Weinstein economy.

You don’t want it?
Tough. Take it and stop complaining!

They are not all bad, the big companies. Elon seems to be ahead of the curve again. His cars do what people want. He focuses on making them safe, fast, cheap to run, and, well, bulletproof. He doesn’t spend money on advertising. Imagine that, people buy his cars because they want them?!? It almost sounds quaint and old fashioned.

Perhaps as sales plateau and consumer’s belts tighten, we will witness more nascent stirrings of this radical idea. Others might get in on the trend of offering people what they actually want to buy, rather than what big monopoly power can force them to swallow.

Don’t force people to take what they don’t want
Respect for the freedom of others begins with little things

The microwave we ended up choosing has two nobs: power and a timer. It’s a ‘Post AV’ Microwave. Tech for Neo-Luddites. We love it.
Okay, sure, it probably has Siri and Alexa built-in to spy on me, but baby steps, right?

Monkey Logic is a weekly column to help us through these unhinged times.

Why are people so angry?
Why are people so stupid?
Why the hell did she/he/it just do that?

The answer is Monkey Logic. We are not sanguine sages or intellectual titans. We are messily evolved amalgamations of ad-hoc fixes collected over Billions of years of hard-knocks trial and error. We have high expectations for the world, but Sanity and Rationalism are human inventions. Truth does not equal Beauty. Madness, money, and monogamy are our own psycho-cultural inventions; emergent tokens; semiotic short-hand heuristics for the recurring patterns of reality—

One man’s sanity is another man’s bat-shit crazy.


Covid19 — Fast Forwarding us to Utopia

It’s way too early for any optimism or searching for a silver lining in all this, but I wrote this (Medium Link)  anyway:

(Also as a video on Youtube.)

As a sci-fi author, I always have at least one foot in the future. It’s not a choice, my brain can’t help looking for signs of what is coming next. The day-to-day patterns of the world are my I Ching sticks.

At the moment, I’m thinking a lot about purpose —

For most of human existence, aligning against adversity has given us clear purpose. Once our defining enemies were lions, glaciers, storms, or the monsters in the next village. For much of recent history, we derived purpose from banding together against worshipers of Gods who didn’t see eye to eye with our own [Gods]; but the last century saw a new great battle of good versus evil: Capitalism versus Communism. For two generations, we pitted ourselves against the great enemy. Working in a corporation made you a holy warrior. CEOs were generals; warlords of capitalism. Money was munitions. Going to work, you were not just earning ‘TV tokens’, at a primal level you were strapping on a shield and sword and doing battle.

Suddenly, quite unexpectedly, in the early 90s we found that we had won. The enemy was routed; the foe was vanquished. Our battle-weary hordes did what triumphant conquering armies always do, they sacked the place and helped themselves to all the plunder.

Post-conflict, those trained killers continued the fight. The ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ paladins of Capitalism, knowing only war, became thugs terrorizing their societies, it was all they knew.

The Big Bang of the 90s; Thatcherism, Reaganism, and the self-delusional absurdity of trickle-down economics.


Naked greed became the highest purpose. ‘Increasing shareholder value’ an unassailable right that excuses all. It has been used as a justification for screwing the poor out of their health-care, the rainforest out of its trees, and the Millennials out of a chance at ever owning assets.

I chose to start one of my books with this quote by Antonio Gramsci:

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

This image of an interregnum between epochs captures the spirit of these times. We can see a better future; but we are stuck here infested with pathogenic mind virusescucked and emasculated by computational propaganda, and addicted to genosadistic patterns of consumption. We are frozen, led by a generation of battle-scarred warriors so impaired by corporate PTSD that their minds are unable to conceive of another way.

Let’s talk about Corvid 19… (Wait don’t go! Keep reading, it’s time for some optimism!)

I am writing this on day one of the Lockdown. Already both my kids are doing lessons over video conferencing. Who knows how society will have changed in the year and a half it may take for this storm to pass? But there is no chance the status quo of our current interregnum will maintain.

The economy we know is going to fall apart. Governments will have to take extreme measures to avoid a full-on slide into the “Great Contraction” because they know very well what will follow if they don’t.

What measures will they take?

1) No redundancies allowed…
People will be paid to stay home, regardless of whether this makes sense for their jobs. Companies won’t complain because the government will loan them payroll at attractive 0% interest. The optics of this will certainly be politically much less controversial than having starving homeless hordes wandering the streets smashing windows and burning cars or, heaven forbid, the far more terrifying prospect of expanding the social security safety nets.

2) Free Healthcare
Any developed society that is so psychopathically tone-deaf to human suffering that it doesn’t already have universal health care will be adopting it pretty soon. (Yes, I’m looking at you!) Millions of your people who don’t have health insurance are about to need intensive care treatment, and then shortly after they will be voting for their next government. I don’t see how it will be politically expedient to let these people die, go bankrupt, or both. This will necessitate another twist of the magic money taps (MMT).

3) Education for All
Online education is going to be the norm from now on. As I write this, my kids are already getting their lessons at home via zoom. University courses are already freely available online. The only missing piece of the jigsaw is remote accreditation, and that will come. Gen-Z is not going to have to worry about crippling student loans the way their older sibs did. Millennials will kick up a fuss, but they’ll settle down once their student debt is forgiven. …and why not have an amnesty? So much money is going to be printed for the retired boomers, sick poor people, and out-of-work Gen Xers, that we might as well print a bit more for the millennials while we are at it.

Coronavirus will deliver universal basic income, universal healthcare, and universal education; perhaps it’s some massive communist plot in disguise?

Where will the money come from?
Simple, out of nowhere like it always does. Money is not real like Gold or Bitcoin is <troll/>. It is made-up. It is what Yuval Noah Harari calls an intersubjective phenomenon; it only exists because we all agree it does.

I don’t know how this will play out over a decade or more. Will we have—

Modern Monetary Theory?
Fully Automated Luxury Communism?
Fiat collapse?
…all of the above?

I just don’t know, but I suspect that money in its current form is on the way out. Money is made up and ‘negative interest’ is the unmissable nudity that will set off a wave of contagious tittering in a crowd who until very recently was happily admiring the emperor’s new clothes…

What about moral hazard?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nobody really works anymore anyway. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but a lot of middle-class jobs feel like fake-work to keep people off the streets where they might cause trouble. Automation is coming; when robots are driving cars, robots are building cars, robots are styling cars, and robots are managing the few human unicorn engineers left still designing cars, there is going to be a lot less demand for non-digital people (aka version 1.0 humans). Too few jobs, too many humans, and free money everywhere — from Universal Basic Income, either backdoor or overt — will change our relationship to work. I see the economy bifurcating into:

1) Zombie organisations paying people to fake-work so governments don’t need to publically implement contentious decisions like helicopter money.

2) Exponential organisations with bold purpose and inspiring vision drawing Gen-Z talent into their orbits because these energetic idealists are bored and disillusioned with the naked orange emperor and want to do fun stuff instead.

In this new world — just a few months away now — there will be purpose again; a species mission statement more inspirational than ‘increasing shareholder value’. In this utopia, billionaires will be ridiculed and reviled, their mega-yachts — once supernormal phallic stimuli — will be nothing more than the silly red-noses on clowns. Robots will do the unpleasant manual work; the talented will build our future out among the stars; and everybody else will complain and whine while supping sweet nectar from the Magic Money Tree.