Author Archives: philw

Is Our Dirty Laundry Ready for Blockchain’s Disinfecting Sunlight?

The following piece first appeared on Steemit on December 27, 2017:

In the previous article we explored how blockchain, in finally holding The Powers That Be accountable for their crooked ways, might provoke an “empire strikes back” defensive response. Because indeed, corrupt industries that feed off taxpayers and destabilize nations will not give up the golden goose easily, and therefore we should prepare for a fight.

But assuming that the juggernaut of this public-ledger technology ultimately wins out against the monolith of military, government, and big banks, let’s consider how blockchain might affect us on the micro level. While digital developers are usually earnest, cerebral people who tend to come from a naively idealistic perspective, in an ironic twist it is the likes of pornographers and drug dealers that often first adopt and enhance their technological “gifts to the world.”

So the question is how will vice—not to mention people just trying to get by in an imperfect world—be affected by and react to the purifying sunlight of blockchain? Is our human essence endangered at this intersection of amorality, immorality, pragmatism, and idealism? Will we all forfeit the chance to grow or be forgiven when our every fault is hanging out on this figurative clothesline?

It’s as if blockchain by definition is on a collision course with human nature itself, where in making our every action public that last bit of wild animal is re-engineered out of us. Will such scrutiny cause us to lose the magic that edgy, non-conformists create? Will abstract mental leaps that we often make when intoxicated or uninhibited be stifled by self-consciousness imposed by the hyperlinked public spreadsheet?

In today’s global village, you might never see the same face at the grocery store, and you honk at other drivers because you don’t know any of them personally. But the ledger of the blockchain may force our psyches back into what life was like in the days of “The Scarlet Letter.” Or to paraphrase the Borg, “You will be moralized.”

Because blockchain could be seen on the micro level as a forced return to chaste, small town living where shame is the motivating factor in people’s behavior. Where everyone knows each other’s business and is judged for their smallest actions. However, in the past this was done for the greater good of the town’s survival—everything was interconnected, each craftsman and farmer was in business together, and there was no centralized power grid or foreign factory to rely on for goods and services.

So the danger now lies in the fact that while the ability to know our neighbors’ foibles increases—think online stalking times a hundred—since we don’t need to trust each other, we’re allowed to recoil in horror rather than empathize, forgive, or help them. If we’re not careful we might turn into monsters, ruthless and righteous toward each other without the context or personal connection that would soften such haughty judgments.

On the other end of the spectrum, this could all lead to a rebirth of the Ben Franklin Renaissance Man spirit and a return to eighteenth or nineteenth century style of local control. Where each town has a unique identity, its own currencies, its own beer and whiskey recipes. The ultimate form of decentralization and empowered communities as the human animal is unyoked and unleashed to create and share.

A final consideration: once we start turning over rocks high and low, there’s no telling where it will stop or what we will uncover. Just how dark is the dark web, and do we really have the stomach to look? Are we ready to know just how many foreigners are squatting across the country? Do we really want to try to rein in the various underground economies? What percentage of storefronts exist solely for money laundering purposes?

Hopefully open discussions about such implications will help us monitor blockchain technology’s impact on us, because I believe ultimately the takedown of large-scale corruption will be a net-positive resulting in a cornucopia for all. If we can manage the effects on our private lives to ensure human dignity, the bigger payday is a release from the compounding weight of corruption, debt, and hidden perversion that has us in a vise grip. Already trillions of dollars have been stolen, countless lives have been needlessly redirected and stunted by state power—imagine the possibilities if we are liberated from so many middle men, regulations, and the hundred ways our money is siphoned off.

Maybe the best way to use the blockchain revolution as a controlled burn against the old way of doing business is to offer blanket immunity on a national level. Amnesty from malfeasance and repudiation of all debts. A backdated reprieve for every pen we stole from our employer and every mansion a member of the Pentagon’s brass paid for with “black budget” funds. Everyone goes free for the sake of the future.

And if that’s what it takes to harness the clearer future that blockchain’s elegant simplicity promises, then we would be fools to waste years seeking righteous punitive measures. Everyone has skeletons in their closet, and if we are not biologically wired to live in an all-seeing, all-listening, all-storing surveillance state, then we are definitely not prepared to have our drawers and spreadsheets put under the public microscope.

The young generation of today seems fueled by a philosophy of specialized idealism that is so optimistic because they have flipped the power of the state on its head, personally empowering themselves with the same technological tools that were meant to enslave them. Can the rest of us find some of this fearless zest to overcome skeptical dread of the unknown? Because the next block on that chain truly is unwritten…

Blockchain Transparency Versus Establishment Corruption: The Coming Showdown

The following piece first appeared on Steemit on December 17, 2017:

Bitcoin’s recent surge in price to astronomical levels has launched blockchain awareness out of the shadows and onto the tip of everyone’s tongue. Beyond dreams of making a quick buck or developing new currencies not tied to central banking, this technology’s triple-entry bookkeeping concept is a revolution in accurate and trackable data management.

Whereas single-entry bookkeeping was naturally prone to error, the double-entry method which we have used for centuries still leaves ample room for malfeasance. Only now with the convergence of technology and worldwide internet connectivity is this new redundant and transparent method possible.

Today many people from all walks of life are bitter about how central banking and globalism have made a hell of the modern world, particularly when things seemed so promising at the turn of the century. In the wake of so much disillusionment, disruptive technologies such as blockchain and cryptos are seen by some as potential saviors enabling wealth extraction from a corrupt system as well as offering a people-first economic approach.

But this rebellious and idealistic dream may in fact open a Pandora’s Box of unintended consequences that few people have considered. Buckle up for a winding ride as we make some startling connections.

First consider what blockchain promises: transparency, accountability, security, a perpetual paper trail that is both easily accessible and which cannot be forged or altered. Ostensibly this is what everyone in society wants: realistic, accurate data so one is able to make confident decisions.

But looking back on the past fifteen-plus years of life in America, it seems as if the real-world playbook preaches the antithesis of this forthright philosophy. On September 10, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced in a press conference that the Pentagon could not account for $2.3 trillion dollars. And today that number exceeds $10 trillion, making a person wonder if our system is not only susceptible to corruption, but in fact deeply rooted in such obfuscation—and not simply to get ahead or even survive, but as an extension of its true identity.

Some other major events with shady overtones are: the 9/11 attack itself which resulted in a double insurance payout for the World Trade Center’s new owner Larry Silverstein. The subsequent 2003 invasion of Iraq led to billions of dollars being paid to private contractors, convoys to nowhere as chronicled in the 2007 documentary “No End in Sight,” and even pallets of cash totaling $12 billion being dropped all over Iraq—as if someone wanted to fund a new insurgency into existence, and which now haunts us to this day in the form of ISIS.

Also of interest is the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which explores how the late 90s General Motors EV1 was subsequently recalled and destroyed seemingly without cause. Yet only shortly afterward the hybrid revolution began with models like the Toyota Prius, and shortly followed by all-electric models from Tesla and the Chevy.

It’s as if the EV1’s only fault was in preempting the oil industry’s timetable for phasing out the combustion engine. It’s like some weird mishmash of the movies “The Formula” and “The Big Short.” In the former, George C. Scott tries to track down a WWII-era synthetic oil formulation, and in the latter Christian Bale finds that the big banks delay paying him off for his prescient gamble until they themselves have found a position to be able to also profit off the deal.

Which is a perfect segue to another dark moment of our time, the multi-trillion dollar bailouts for Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While millions of Americans lost retirement savings and homes to foreclosure, the government propped up “too big to fail” institutions by way of virtually unlimited funds with no oversight. Somehow the country has remained overtly functional for the last nine years, but the detritus and lingering resentment under the surface probably was one ingredient that led to the surprise election of political newbie Donald Trump last year.

The most recent macro lie of significance is the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, which has caused so much financial and mental aggravation in recent years—not to mention all the extra paperwork. Needless to say its failed launch, being upheld by the Supreme Court through the semantic loophole of calling its mandate “a tax,” and the pragmatic scrambling of health insurance carriers away from such a disaster, has left a nasty film of resentment across the land which is ignored only by the most enamored Obama supporters.

Bottom line on the ACA: mountains of money have been wasted, healthcare has diminished both in options and quality, and people are suffering and dying. No amount of catchy jingles or billboards full of happy hipsters can gloss over such a horrendously flawed program. We still await final reckoning for this debacle while many Americans come to grips with the fact that changing their diet and exercise habits is a more reliable fix than holding out for some single-payer system to replace the ACA.

Now, to bring this all back to blockchain, consider if any of these major events had been subjected to the honest accounting that this new technology promises. How would the American people have reacted to some Pentagon bureaucrat authorizing millions of dollars of hundred-dollar bills being loaded up onto pallets (as happened for a second time when Obama airdropped $400 million in cash to Iran in 2016)?

Consider the Red Cross, a charity so inefficient that it has drawn boycotts in the wake of recent disasters. And what if triple-entry accounting had been implemented while the Clinton Foundation operated in Haiti? Now are you starting to see the showdown that’s out on the horizon?

Let’s explore: several years ago I told a close friend that the upcoming young generation is a unique combination of selfish and altruistic values that may very well save us all. They’re so spoiled on a personal level yet aggressively seek equity for apparently every living person on Earth. I think the recent wave of racial advocacy and sexual harassment claims is but a raw expression of this core value which desires transparency and truth.

But what this generation doesn’t yet see is that beneath individual cases of perversion or the nebulous legacy of “white privilege,” is a monstrous wall of corruption which has ensnared this country at least since the end of WWII. And if they think they can just overturn every rock in the name of the fairness that blockchain promises, they are in for a brutal fight.

The “empire” is not going down just because some androgynous college students gather in the streets. If TPTB can’t first absorb you (by adopting, co-opting, or integrating Bitcoin, for example), they will attack you with all their might. Because we’re not just talking about charities that cook their books, or individual taxpayers who try to shave off a couple thousand dollars they owe each year.

We’re talking about major institutions that operate for decades and whose tentacles extend across the world. The web of incestuous DC insiders who siphon off billions of dollars from “flyover country” on an annual basis while they cycle through cushy government and private sector jobs. The nexus fromWall Street to Congress which creates the illusion of solvency, functionality, and even indignation when it makes good theater to keep the human livestock at work and paying taxes.

Bottom line, if the Idealistic Generation gets its way they may very well expose and undermine this smokescreen of prosperity and functionality to collapse the very paradigm itself. If programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and various pensions are revealed as indebted beyond redemption, then the currently accepted world construct where America is the central linchpin will be fractured. Chaos will ensue as the power vacuum seeks to be filled by the likes of China or Russia, or taken advantage of by rogue states or death-obsessed ideologues.

But if this is the real gambit that SJW activists are precipitating beneath their anti-Trump rhetoric, do they even realize it? How many of them have the vision to see where the momentum is headed, considering how immature, erroneous, and shortsighted their internal GPS seems to be?

So how does a person with the prescience to see blockchain’s value act or invest when the best-case scenario of the coming collision poses the danger of a soft civil war where one side seeks an undefined equity at all costs, and the Goliath in charge seeks not to just save its own skin but prevent a devastating worldview earthquake which could destabilize the present balance to the point of no recovery for centuries?

Considering the political climate both in DC and among the public, is it hyperbole to fear that America is on the precipice of losing its standing in the world? The DC swamp draining revelations may be so demoralizing as to be unrecoverable for our shocked nation.

And if blockchain actually threatens to reveal the entire global economy as nothing but an insolvent Ponzi scheme full of debt bubbles, skimming from the till, money laundering, drug running, and human trafficking—then is there even a strong enough bridge to get from the ugly status quo to that idealistic and transparent other side?

I foresee a lot of blood, lost fortunes, and collapsed infrastructure before that day ever comes. So invest in crypto all you want, but just be sure to have some canned food and loaded brass to protect your cold, hard wallets.

New Novel: Reparations USA

America, 2028. Reparations for the nation’s colonial past is the law of the land. A supercomputer processes historical documents to calculate each citizen’s Debit Score. This is the story of the people who live under the shadow of the Historical Reparations Administration.

“Reparations USA” is the shocking, inventive, and unpredictable future history of the United States that is filled with both heart and humor. Part action adventure, part ideology study, and part dystopian alarm call, this efficient novel takes you deep within the surveillance state where no deed—past or present—is innocent.

Philip Wyeth’s overwhelming vision creates an entire world within itself, and in taking inspiration from both satire and classic social commentary sci-fi, might even help readers better understand events taking place in the “current year.”

E-book available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

 

Sliding Back into a 1990s State of Mind

After revisiting several visionary movies from the late 90s I got the chilling sensation of how far we’ve been knocked off that era’s cerebral track. “The Matrix,” “Fight Club,” and “Office Space” are divergent films which start from essentially the same premise: that your reality is a prison but you can break free. The hysteria of 9/11 wrenched us out of these deep corners of the mind, then for years we endured the banality of a country at war grinding toward disillusionment.

An economic collapse washed away the last of the older generation’s motivation, and into the void desperate for “hope and change” stepped an inexperienced senator whose race was qualification enough to defeat numerous veteran politicians.

The wars continued during his two terms but the population fell into a stupor of addiction over the new vanity drug called social media. Like young children gleeful over a shiny new toy the American masses have completely given up their internal life for the potential of receiving unlimited praise from strangers around the world.

Simultaneously a strain of anti-thought fascism arose, hijacking words like tolerance, diversity, and human rights to browbeat a portion of the population into silence. The unspoken mantra of the New Left appears to be a perversion of the famous “we hold these truths to be self-evident” line where to disagree with them is the equivalent of saying that humans don’t breathe air.

The shocking victory by Donald Trump over their next would-be checkbox president has driven the Left into delirium. A month before the election I started telling people to prepare for “riots and tears” after Trump won—my only error being the order of these words. The Left was so blindsided that they wept first and only took to the streets after getting organized (i.e., making silly costumes and obtuse signs).

This brief history of the last 15 years relates to my initial thought on movies for two reasons. First, look at what Hollywood primarily makes today: either CGI-heavy, franchise action fluff or human degradation masquerading as savvy sex comedy. A far cry from the heady work that continued into the mid-2000s whose mantra could have read, “We’re all adults here, we can handle this challenging subject matter.”

Second, I am a creative writer heavily inspired by such classics as “Separate Tables,” “Save the Tiger,” and “Andrei Rublev.” When I think about what kind of movie I would write that’s relevant and forward-thinking in 2017, I choke on the conclusion that in this era characterized by neon-yoga-pant titillation and a refusal to let certain people even speak because their checkbox attributes are wrong—straight, white, male—the Left has abandoned common sense in its crusade to right every historical wrong.

Tragically, if artistic vision is not sufficient or even permitted to lead us then will have to do this the hard way and run a vicious gauntlet like Italy did during the 1930s. You should read Ignazio Silone’s “Fontamara” and watch the film “The Conformist” to experience what cost the human soul must pay when enduring fascism.

A part of me feels giddy thinking about that moment when the Left pokes one too many times and how when the shooting starts it will just mean we get to take out the trash. But then I recall how during our (first) Civil War Britain and France planned to aid the Confederacy and (in a tasty bit of historical irony) President Lincoln asked our allies Russia to send their fleet deter such an intervention.

The point is that no one on the Right actually wants real violence to break out because in war nothing ever goes according to plan. Opportunistic king-makers and amoral bankers are always waiting in the wings to parlay one empire into collapse while dangling the carrot of prosperity in front of the next group of yearning peasants. We do not want to risk America turning into Western Europe after the World Wars or Russia after their revolution.

The good news is that not everyone has been asleep. While Rip Van Liberal walks around in a pink pussy hat getting up to speed, those of us who did the unpopular work of skeptical intellectualism have broken through several of “truth’s protective layers” which Neil Armstrong cryptically alluded to. So much so that even the New Yorker just published an op-ed which touched on our manufactured reality by mashing together the Oscars’ Best Picture snafu, simulation theory, Trump’s election, and even video game “God mode” being responsible for the preposterous ending to the Super Bowl.

So maybe it’s all coming full circle and we’re getting back to where we were mentally nearly 20 years ago. Here’s hoping TPTB don’t try to derail us again with another false flag in the first year of a new president’s term like they pulled in 1993 and 2001, because today we’ve got the internet at our fingertips to instantly debunk and discredit them.

And of course there’s paper-mache Elon Musk now talking about going “back” to the Moon next year, but that’s a rant for another day!

Identity Breakdown

As men and women increasingly rely on indirect methods of communication and put more effort into creating social media personas than developing real relationships, is it any wonder we are experiencing such visceral alienation from each other?

Our inflated egos are quick to take offense as we jump to the next suitor who we hope will indulge our unleashed vanity. The hard work of forging a lasting connection gives way to the dream that the grass is always greener with the next swipe.

We are at the stage where we devote as much time to our avatars as to our physical bodies, but since these online characters have more fun than we do without ever having to defecate or feel pain there is an irresistible pull to live through them.

Short of a worldwide catastrophe we won’t willingly unplug and go back to the struggles of an isolated peasant farmer (“Been there, done that,” our DNA chirps), but as we lead the vanguard of humanity across this digital bridge would it not be a wise to ask where it leads?

My generation is living through the death throes of traditional human bonding and procreation, a deconstruction which is being meticulously documented and live-streamed for a future version of man to dissect.

Even when trying to put “change” in perspective by considering how much the physical world has changed over the past 100 years, I can’t help but wonder if we are crossing a taboo threshold where by losing our willingness or capacity to face the difficult stuff of life the question arises, “Why did we even sign up to come down here in the first place?”

The White Man Asleep in the Black Man’s Yard

I wrote the first draft of this short story in 2005 but for years I felt the underlying premise was too absurd for readers to go along with. Now, thanks to the Social Justice Warrior plague it turns out that my twisted mind is actually a crystal ball!

But politics is merely the starting off point here. “The White Man Asleep in the Black Man’s Yard” is one of my most zany, dark, heartfelt, and even hopeful stories. Also included is an afterward which offers insights into the story’s history and stylistic influences.

Read it below or download the PDF free here.

White_Man_Asleep_by_Philip_Wyeth

The Ten Million Club

Right now a lot of people are scratching their heads over the fact that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the presidential front runners, and asking themselves how we got here. I suggest it has something to do with how our society has spent the last 15 years:

We have filmed ten million hours of ourselves having sex. We have had ten million mortgages foreclosured on at home and created ten million refugees in the Middle East. So is it any wonder that a ruthless power seeker and an egomaniacal big-business blowhard would end up in the championship game to determine who represents us?

It simply wasn’t enough to get laid, or even to record ourselves having sex as a kinky spark for future romance at home–no, we needed to post it online for strangers around the world to see. Nor was it enough for responsible people to own their homes–this somehow became virtually a right for all Americans and a ravenous investment industry then sprang up to metastasize this bad idea.

And the greatest and most destructive delusion of all was that under the guise of loving freedom and eradicating terrorism, since 9/11 our military has destabilized a handful of Middle Eastern countries. That shock wave is now spilling over into Europe with a dramatic second act to follow.

The nasty place we are in 2016 is neither accident nor bad luck. It is a mile marker and referendum of how we as a country have made use of all the wonderful first-world advantages at our fingertips. Duck-lipped cell phone self-portraits by day, X-Tube titillation by night. Liar-loan-enabled property scooping one year, shameless GoFundMe begging campaigns the next. At sporting events highlighting the “service” of returned military veterans in attendance, the audience stands and claps but in true disconnected obliviousness never ruminates on the consequences of our wars.

Right now Whole Foods still stocks all our favorite flavors of kombucha and low gas prices have made driving affordable again, but I can’t help suspecting that eventually something in the real world has to give. Because in our hearts we have been rotten, blind, selfish, immature, and unworthy for quite some time, and as we saw during housing market collapse, eventually all bills come due.

Turning Dominoes into a Relay Race

Now that primary season has officially begun and a million breaths are being expended on the latest developments, I thought I’d distill it down for you as briefly and as cynically as possible.

Back in a 2007 interview General Wesley Clark related how shortly after the US’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan he was told that the military had further plans to “take out seven countries in five years.”

Of those countries—Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran—three have since either been invaded or fallen into civil war and disarray. And while the timetable may have been off, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because of that old adage “the best laid plans of mice and men,” the most important takeaway here is that the process has spanned across two presidential administrations which on paper are as different as one could find.

That neocon George W. Bush seamlessly handed off the baton to hope-filled upstart Barack Obama should dispel any prospective 2016 voter’s illusions that “his guy” has the power or ability to change the script being implemented by career world-shapers operating behind the scenes. The dominoes have continued to fall under Barry’s watch.

The anti-war sentiment stemming from Iraq War fatigue that helped fuel a Democrat win in 2008 has not stopped us from destabilizing both Libya and Syria, leading to hideous humanitarian disasters all justified by the need to get rid of “a bad guy.” In one respect we have so much blood on our hands that it would only be right if we are one day somehow held accountable, but the broader truth may be that through the centuries empires are simply used as enforcers by the stateless puppet masters behind the scenes—before of course also being discarded after having lost their vitality and power. Yesterday it was the European colonial powers, today it’s the United States, and tomorrow it will be someone else.

So in this futile light it seems as if the only purpose in voting at all is on social grounds, because during the last 7 years of the Obama administration we have surely seen some sweeping cultural shifts (which on the surface might indicate an increase of freedoms and human rights, but the keen observer senses early-stage moral decay and disintegration of our national identity, all under the watchful eye of the surveillance state which misses nothing and records everything).

For nearly 15 years we have let our might be used to steamroll innocent countries whose only sins were that of geography and being imperfect, and our collective reaction has been either to double down on blind jingoism or to revert to a tribalistic hedonism intent on sticking as much ink, drugs, and other body parts into every crevice of one’s own body. How can we possibly “make America great again” when half of the population thinks the last 30 years of industrial dismantling can magically be undone by building a few new domestic factories? Can we really expect much from the army of baristas with stretched earlobes and chestplate tattoos headed back to school at age 33?

It’s a surreal time where one’s thoughts echo with the words “this will not end well” but in any grocery store you can find organic food and craft beer. For a pittance you can buy devices which give you access to the entirety of human knowledge and artistic output, but they can also be used to track and incriminate you. We’re standing on the razor’s edge of a shift in history where in one breath we’re being exponentially wrenched forward but then still find ourselves checked by baked-in biological limitations and prey to that nagging sensation that despite our savvy ways we too are merely players—or was that pawns?—on life’s stage.