Fetterman Unplugged, and Other Horror Stories
Autumn — Wk 6: Fetterman Unplugged | The Unabomber Hate Hoax | Our First Cyborg Candidate | Federally Funded Transhumanism
“Hi, good night, everybody.” So began the historic debate between the stroke-addled senatorial candidate John Fetterman and the TV savvy Dr. Oz.
Again and again, Fetterman lapsed into long pauses and erupted with weird, disjointed sentences. His supporters continue to defend him, claiming this pitiful display has nothing to do with compromised cognition.
“It’s an auditory processing issue,” they say. “He’s still recovering from his stroke. To call it a cognitive issue is ableist.”
Even if we grant that Fetterman’s gears might be whirring at maximum speed—trapped behind sensory distortions and verbal blocks—how could we ever know? Our primary window into his cognitive ability is through his utterances, which pretty much everyone agrees are scattered and nonsensical.
There’s something perverse about listening to a man with brain damage and waiting for the next glitch—whether to seize upon it as evidence of his inability, or to prepare lame excuses for him. To my mind, the entire spectacle is evidence of our inexorable cultural decline. We are entering an advanced stage of Idiocracy, where the few remaining normal people jeer at the mentally disabled, convinced that they themselves are geniuses.
People are cruel and always have been. One of the functions of civilization is to push our natural cruelty out to the margins, to suppress these tendencies or sublimate them.
With the rise of literally brain-damaged politicians, human cruelty is now center stage. It’s cruel for Fetterman’s supporters to pretend everything is normal. It’s cruel to make honest observations about him. It’s cruel to joke about it.
It’s cruel to put a stroke victim behind a podium, urge the public to elect him to the Senate, and then condemn people for noticing how fucked up this entire situation is.
Politicians tend to be idiotic. Making fun of their dumb faces and stupid statements is a hallmark of American culture. Even when a politician is bright, if he fumbles for words or spits out a string of nonsense—even just once—his enemies will use that to define him. In a show-biz democracy, that’s how the game is played.
Think of George Dubya, for instance, whose Bushisms are still quoted to this day. There’s the classic: “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”
And of course, the ultimate bumpkin phrase-mangling: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.”
As a Tennesseean who’s mangled more than a few phrases—occasionally on live TV—these Bushisms fill me with the sort of disdain a judgmental alcoholic feels in the company of heroin addicts.
Or consider our current commander-in-chief, Creepy Joe, whose eyeball exploded on television, whose brain is now melting in public, and whose penchant for hair-sniffing is rivaled only by his infantile obsession with ice cream. These two idiots are living archetypes of the Puddin’ Head politician.
John Fetterman is just the current expression of a deep cultural rot. We poke fun at him as our first official cyborg candidate. And it’s true. The man requires a machine to comprehend the spoken word. But as I write this on an iBorg, and as you read it with smartphone in hand, it can’t be denied that Fetterman represents America to an alarming degree.
There are many indicators the developed world is undergoing a transhumanist revolution. From North America to Southeast Asia, the lines between humans and machines are blurring. Nothing makes this more obvious than the mind meld occurring through smartphone symbiosis.
As transhumanists love to point out, these digital devices function as external mental organs. They answer our questions, store our memories, orient us to our physical and social environments, filter our information, simulate sexual encounters, perform our calculations, influence our direction, convey our prayer requests, and in many cases, they have become a primary mode of communication.
Digital devices augment our cognition. All the while, they hoover up the details of our deepest selves for further analysis. In turn, this perpetual data-mining augments the cognition of the technocratic powers that be, providing a direct window into any one person’s mind or a population’s collective soul.
Take away their smartphones, and many people feel as if their brains are naked. That’s because they are. We have become, quite literally, cybernetic organisms—smartphone dependent cyborgs. The contents of our consciousness, both public and private, has been digitized.
It’s only natural to feel revulsion as we watch John Fetterman’s brain get scrambled onstage, or when we see Joe Biden shuffle around the White House like a busted up android whose batteries are so run down, he can’t manage to find an outlet to recharge.
It’s only natural to crack jokes and be cruel. It’s prime material for stand-up acts and sketch comedy.
But as we tweet these hilarious insults back and forth, reveling in our intellectual superiority, keep in mind that we are all characters in this dark comedy, with prowling AI bots and their technocratic masters watching silently from the darkened auditorium.
If anyone’s gonna laugh last at this twisted performance, it’s them.
My latest at Chronicles:
The hate crime hoax is an underappreciated genre of performance art. There have been well over a hundred in the past decade—from Muslims setting fire to their own mosques, to LGBTQ-types baking their own hate cakes, and the black actor Jussie Smollett duping the entire news media with his fake MAGA-hat beat down. Yet half the country pretends these hoaxes don’t exist.
Recently we saw what appears to be a new, anti-tech variation of this art form with the arrest of Jason Duhaime. On Sept. 13, the Northeastern University virtual reality lab director allegedly called in a fake bomb threat to police. Authorities shut down half the school while response teams investigated.
Had a disciple of Ted Kaczynski resumed the attack on industrial society? Not quite.
At the time, Duhaime told Boston police and federal agents a remarkably stupid story about an exploding hard-shell case—without even bothering to fake the explosion. He also provided a frantic letter, supposedly contained in the case, which called for the university’s virtual reality lab to be closed. Unsurprisingly, federal authorities found digital copies of the letter on Duhaime’s personal computer, leading to his arrest on Oct. 4.
In a stroke of demented genius, Duhaime allegedly combined that ruse with another underappreciated genre—the crazy uncle email. Typically forwarded from an anonymous source, it is marked by hysterical capitalization, amusing typos, and an apocalyptic sense of urgency. Duhaime’s apparently phony letter is a decent satire of this style.
“It has come to our attention that this VR lab is trying to change us as a world!” it read. “Trying to get us to live in a world that we only communicate through headsets and live in a called the METAVERSE! … You are trying to change the fabric of the ideology of a peoplee [sic].”
“You are not the creator!!!!!!!! You think you are!!!” it continues. “We know you are the anti-christ sent to this world to change everything!!! We will stop you!!!”
Read the rest at Chronicles
My latest at The Federalist:
After suffering a severe stroke in May, Pennsylvania senatorial candidate John Fetterman now relies on speech-to-text software to understand the spoken word. The digital interface has become a part of him. In a recent NBC interview, Fetterman can be seen gazing at his desktop screen, struggling to comprehend the questions asked. The Democratic nominee will even be allowed to use this software in the Oct. 25 debate with his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
In a healthy society, Fetterman’s own party would urge him to resign for the common good. This situation is beyond the polarized arguments over immigration, crime, or nuclear war. Cognitive fitness is crucial for political leaders. Their job is to engage the public, project competency abroad, and go toe-to-toe with rivals. But we do not live in a healthy society.
Rather than acknowledge the danger of electing a U.S. senator who, tragically, has been forced to merge with a machine, Fetterman’s supporters are framing this as an “equity” issue. The normal desire to have leaders of sound mind and body is being denounced as “ableism” — i.e., the expectation that people are able to do their jobs. In a culture that rewards virtue-signaling, even compromised cognition is exalted as a virtue.
Our new normal is not inclusive of MAGA or the unvaccinated, but it undoubtedly includes cyborgs. And now, riding a wave of “diversity and inclusion,” Fetterman is America’s first official cyborg candidate.
Read the rest at The Federalist
My next-to-latest at The Federalist:
The future of evolution is now in our hands. Or rather, the godlike power to alter biology rests in a few scientists’ hands, and we’re all going to pay for it, one way or another. The U.S. government is pouring billions of dollars into understanding genetics and the human brain, and most consequentially, how to manipulate those systems.
Last week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched its “BRAIN 2.0”initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnology), ramping up an existing program started eight years ago. Comparable to the Human Genome Project in scope and scale, BRAIN 2.0 grants $600 million to fully map our 86 billion neurons and their uncounted connections. The project is expected to reach a grand total cost of $5 billion by 2026.
In theory, once scientists have created this detailed brain atlas in silico, they can directly alter neural function using digital devices. The director of the BRAIN Initiative, John Ngai, exhibits a troubling fixation on this method.
In a recent interview with Stat News, Ngai noted two concrete results of his current neuro-mapping efforts. One is an advanced brain-computer interface — implanted last year at the University of California, San Francisco — that allows for astounding thought-to-text communication. The other is a major breakthrough in deep brain stimulation at Baylor University, where electrodes are implanted to alter mood and behavior, relieving depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Ngai’s cyborg obsession is shared by his close government partner, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where “man-computer symbiosis”has been a longstanding paradigm. The defense agency’s involvement in the BRAIN Initiative is open and well documented. However, beyond the NIH’s declared mission to heal, our top military minds also have a deep interest in human enhancement.
“DARPA has been a pioneer in brain-machine interface technology since the 1970s, but we began investing heavily in the early 2000s,” boasted Justin Sanchez, the director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office. “We’ve laid the groundwork for a future in which advanced brain interface technologies will transform how people live and work.”
This transformation involves neural implants, to an extent, but also non-invasive devices, such as wearable neuro-bands or skull caps. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics,” said DARPA program manager Phillip Alvelda, whose goals include “Bridging the Bio-Electronic Divide” and developing a “High-Resolution, Implantable Neural Interface.”
If successful, the atlas created by BRAIN 2.0 will be a crucial bridge across this “bio-electronic divide.” The neural territory will be mapped and ready to conquer.
Read the rest at The Federalist
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