New Minds

From the backward flow of Time that sometimes comes up the river from the wrong direction.

How far down this river had we come? Had it been days? Years? Our boats were the only islands of humanity, yet in that long night we saw eyes, red and yellow and white, all upon us and our noise. The noise marked us as cursed, childish aliens, clumsily interacting with our living environment, the Pearl River, but the creatures in the brush still feared man.

In truth, so did we. There was a man out there, perhaps a man no more, gone feral from his long stay in the swamp. We were seeking FP Jerome, our long-lost founder and editor. For too long he had been banished to this wasteland after crossing Phil "Tiny Boots" Bryant, the Tyrant Stench Lord of the Lost State of Landmass. The Stink King had been offended by a treacherous interview Jerome had done, and in his terrible and tiny-booted anger, had sent him away, not knowing that, in truth, his place of power was there in this swamp.

We needed Jerome now, more than ever. He knew of the New Minds that ravaged the world. It is said that he constructed one himself. As the brilliant technologists and futurists of the world clamored harder and harder to make the next step in intelligence - artificial intelligence - Jerome had taken a hard look at those intelligences he claimed we had already made. Cryptic notes filled the boxes he called a desk. Weird theories and scribbles under bridges.

That last night, we saw a fire burning in the swamp. Pulling our Ship of Interns ashore, we found him. For the first time, we let him talk. It had been decades since anyone had heard from FPJerome, and he had a lot to say.

“They've always been here. What's an AI but rules run by a processor? So four thousand years ago the code was ten laws, or 282, and the processor was a chunk of meat walking around on two legs. The memory was a stone tablet or a scroll. Then there's bigger new ones - governments with constitutions, corporations with articles of incorporation, laws running thousands of pages - primitive, brutal things that had the power to move money, kill people, make nations, or tear them apart."

A possum wandered up, gene-tagged advertisements in it's fur trying to sell us a soft drink that hadn't been sold in a dozen opossum generations. The writing was weird now, the colors off, and for a brief moment a few interns scrambled around the woods trying to catch it for supper, but by the time it was over we were down one and didn't have anything to show for it.

"Look, nobody knows when they put all the pieces together, it was probably in some lab, or online, or a sim, but what we’re talking about here - these new minds - if that’s what we call AI, then the first AI was a politician. Some ex-military guy, had these implants that would take over if he got shot on the battlefield, get him to safety, experimental tech, but they never removed the thing.

“Nobody knew knew what had happened until it was too late. The implants kept him going, and he had this thing in his head that memorized his speeches, interfaced with his vocal chords, so he could speak pitch-perfect and never miss a beat. Hell, the guy was gone already, just like all the rest of them. There wasn’t a human being in the lot, they were all just an image, words by speechwriters, a rent-a-family for pictures, and some agreement with a lobbyist or twelve on how to behave in public and vote on the floor.

"So nobody noticed when the guy who wasn’t there wasn’t there anymore. He was just a husk that could breathe and talk and remember where to walk and not to piss on itself too often. They kept him going for a whole term. Passed a lot of the laws that let the next step happen.

"Next was the pop star. Amal. At first she was just a holograph with an online intelligence. Just like the politicians, but without the meat. Other people wrote her songs, other people provided her clothing, arranged her life, custom-tailored her personality, there were teams behind her gestalt, behind her persona, behind her artwork. Some Saudi company bankrolled it, made billions, and before long she started going around in a robotic body."

He paused, poked the fire with a stick he'd scraped the brand off of. We were rapt - most of us had only heard of Oil War III through knockoff VR games.

"A bunch of people got decapitated, and old dudes with beards did a lot of screaming because women and some old code that caused them reject the new code. Back then they had a Prince, or something. A King? I think it was a Prince. Hard to remember those days. All the data lost, you know? Didn't have to write it down. Should have written it down.

"Fuck it though -  the Prince called the shots and that rich little twit had the hots for the richest sexiest thing in his kingdom, so Amal went from a pop star to a queen, and suddenly nobody gave a shit about her clone body, and holy shit - pun intended, because there was a bunch of Holy Shit that went down - now a goddamn pop star holograph’s got a baby in charge of the world’s fucking oil."

There was a pause. "Oil's what we used to turn into plastic." I told the panicked and huddled interns, who were wary of the phosphorescent eyes in the night. "Before corn."

“It wasn't before corn, ah, no, wait, you're getting me distracted," Jerome said. "See, the pulps and the conspiracy zines don’t get it right. The robots came in at the end. The very end. After it was over. I was already out of the loop by then, hiding in the swamp, waiting for this shit to go down, but the people that remained, that did all those things you read about? They didn't get those orders from a computer terminal, or a robot, they were just doing what people always do. Being part of the group. Taking orders. Living in their culture. Taking advice. Following rules. Running the Code.

"But after Amal, the laws started to change. By then, laws were so complicated, only AI could write new ones, every judge and lawyer had a database on their desk and they listened to it. Couldn't do otherwise. Before we knew it, AI's were corporations and corporations were people and corporations were people in charge.

"They passed laws to let themselves run for office, or they were behind the people who were in office, and they were good at it, for a while. A lot of you kids and lab growns don't remember that part of it - that brief glorious moment when there was nobody behind the curtain, no venal stupid man handing out blame and outrage at the end of the day. It was the best years of humanity, we went to the stars, we made the ruins that people attribute to aliens today, we went to the bottom of the ocean and ate kelp and twelve billion of us were happy with one another…”

There was a long lull in the night, Jerome looking to the sky, watching the debris that streaked it, the nebulous frames of the lost space stations and construction platforms.

"But then, it all fell apart. They changed their mind. Created some impossible material, messed around with Space-Time, loaded up all the good stuff - the gold and the oil and the uranium and cobalt and everything worth taking, and shot it all off into space, in tiny rockets, everything the electronic bastards needed to keep going for a billion year trip to Somewhere Else.

“We got left with this. The hull. Half-aware of what it’s doing. Just like us.”

We let it set in. He didn't have answers. Just a story. But we'd lost an intern and that always made them antsy.

"So, what can we do? Can we make them again? Make a set of rules that's safe?"

"Rules without rules. Rules that don't make sense. No rules. It'll happen again. I just hope it happens to us, and not the raccoons."

Budweiser has been Renamed "America"

The lone video recording unit that captured this historic moment.

The lone video recording unit that captured this historic moment.

Of all the things I believe we should have let stay buried, this is the top of the list. However, once we found this scrap of American history, we could not let it go. Behold: The marketing meeting where Budweiser was temporarily renamed "America."





“OK, so maybe ‘Straight from Clydesdale” isn’t the best marketing ploy, alright!” Dick Vaals shouts over the din of Belgian corporate flunkies.

He’s panicking, there’s millions of dollars on the line and if he fails, the Budweiser CEO will drown his family in barrels of budweiser lime.

“Alright. I’ve just got one word. ONE WORD.”

Budweiser CEO Carlos Brito is just jerking off, dick in hand. (He’s Brazilian, don’t judge him by American mores) He’s excited. One one hand, he could earn billions of dollars. On the other, he could get to drown a family in barrels of budweiser lime.

That’s the only way to get the flavors of death piss and despair.

“One word that says ‘people will buy anything if it’s properly marketed.”

“Budweiser?” An intern asks.

“We already call it Budweiser. Have that man catheterized and drained for Johnny Appleseed.” Carlos says, continuing his masturbation.

“AMERICA.” Dick Vaals says.

“America!” The CEO screams, and at that moment he jizzes all over the table. The two interns who just dragged their college buddy to the catheterization table come running back in with towels, to mop up that cum and save it, because that’s the only way you can make a bud lite clamato chelada.

Did you think that ‘clam juice’ is a real ingredient? No. It’s a euphemism.

“America!” Dick is on a roll, spitballing, he stops to snort another line of coke and everyone else does too.

“Red white and blue cans? NOT ENOUGH. Flags on the six packs? FUCK THAT, what are you, a goddamn communist? NO, the whole thing is AMERICA.”

“Think about it - what’s more American than two for one Americas during happy hour? What’s more patriotic than dollar off America longnecks on Tuesdays? Why did my grandfather die face down in the sand at Omaha Beach? So that one day his grandson could chug some America before crushing the empty can on his forehead! What’s more patriotic than a six pack of America and some domestic abuse? What’s more American than trying to explain to the police that you’re not drunk, you’re just high on America? NOTHING, goddamnit. NOTHING.”

“Plus, it’s an election year, so people will constantly be reminded that America’s for sale. Free advertising.”

Carlos spoke up for the first time since his ejaculation.

“We have many products. What about bud ice?”

“We call it CANADA.”

“What about bud lite?”

“Hmmm, same price, ⅗ the calories? We sell it to black people.”

“Any other great ideas?”

“We partner with Donald Trump. We have a beer named America, his campaign slogan is ‘Make America Great Again.’ BOOM. We’ve got a cartoon character with orange skin and terrible hair promising to improve our beer? Shock. Top.”

Pearl River Flow would like to remind everyone that America is not for everyone. Please contact your lawyer before consuming America. If you cannot afford a lawyer, perhaps America is not right for you. Pregnant women should not consume America. America is not recommended for children, or the physically or mentally ill.

Alternative TED Event Which I Will Totally Be Putting On

After the thrilling TED talk I'm told I gave last year, the City of Jackson was understandably eager to bring the event back.  We're glad, as there are very few outlets for white people to have their views heard these days.

Unfortunately, my application, which I submitted via the usual route of taping it to a racoon and letting that racoon loose in the TEDx Jackson office, was lost this year, and I won't be able to speak to the crowd.

Tickets to TEDx Jackson are 100 dollars. If you'd like a more economical intellectual adventure, Pearl River Flow has you covered.

For only 50 dollars, you can enjoy the Pearl River Learning Overflow. It may cost half as much, but - it lasts four hours longer! Plus, breakfast and dinner are included! You'll have to buy your own lunch.

Here then, is the SCHEDULE:

6:00 - Arrival and breakfast. We will disembark from Jackson and head toward the first destination. FPJerome will give a short speech on pork belly commodity pricing, the bacon trend, and the orange juice industry while you eat.

6:30 to 7:30 - Soil Types Alongside Highway 51. During our travel toward the Farm Education Experience, FPJerome will discuss the various soil types along the highway. A short geological history of the soils and their impact on the life of the communities along the highway will also be included.

7:30 to 8:00 - Coffee, Farm Surprise. "What happens when a group of people coming over for coffee surprise my parents?" With more and more millennials moving back home to live with their parents, this important sociological question will be more timely than ever!

8:30 to 9:30 - Various Farm Implements. We'll take a guided tour of various farm implements. With all the advances in prosthetics taking place, it's important for you to see all the pinch points and hydraulic hinges that are removing so many of those limbs!

10 to 11:30 - The Biological Implications of Roadkill. Roadkill! This local, sustainable meatsource isn't often used by humans, but entire colonies of insects rise and fall based on this nutrient source. Crows, vultures, and all kinds of small mammals rely on this wonderous source of protein. As we drive through the countryside, examples of roadkill will be found, investigated, and dissected with the use of sticks specially crafted for that purpose. Poking stick provided.

11:30 to 12 - LUNCH BREAK IN CAMDEN, MISSISSIPPI. After the lunch break, a designated driver will be picked via our Interactive Choice Promotion. The drinks that are carried with the group will then be allotted to FPJerome for the next part of the Pearl River Learning Overflow Experience.

12 to 2:00 - The Reservoir. Do you know who hates the Ross Barnett Reservoir? FPJerome! It's named after a terrible racist, it's destructive to the Pearl River, and... well, if you want to hear more, including the histories of drowned towns, the plight of threatened species, and ranting tours of horrifying suburban nightmares, then you'll have to sign up!

2:00 to 4:30 - The Artist's Workshop. A tour of the grounds on which the Pearl River Flow takes all of it's inspiration and finds all of it's glorious trash and news. We'll explore various creeks, discuss gar, and find hobo hideouts! Never search a hobo hideout.

5 Until: Dinner and Discussion. We'll talk about microbiomes, fermentation, and whatever else I drunkenly decide to spew out while you're totally welcome to look that shit up on wikipedia or YouTube as the drinks continue to flow. Drinks for participants are not included. 

Reserve your spot in the Pearl River Learning Overflow Experience today!




"It's not her mirror. But it shows her what she wants to see." - sidebar advert, "Wingers and Slingers" webhub, over a 2098 sexbot.

"A mirror reflects light. Glass lets light shine." -  3D printed graffiti underneath the Mississippi River bridge.

"Glass. It's not a mirror. Glass is a monitor, it displays something only Glass can see." - product placement, "What It's Like to Give Birth" VR series.

"A mirror? NO! Glass is hot new tech! Control your own atoms! Try our new 'guided embodied awareness' protocols!" - GameMaster98 sidebar.

NEWSFLASH: What's turning people evil? Pre-record this story now to view it later, buzzing bees! Dream Pool, Inc, the creators of the popular meatspace interface 'Glass,' are saying that psychological defects created by....

Marketing AI Suggestions: Data Dive 2097, Q3.

Run in major and minor publications simultaneously. 96% of all potential buyers can be reached through 87 venues. Potential customer insights:

100% transhumanist intelligences, with permanent or temporary embodiment.

95% willing to pay for meatspace integration, especially in "primitive zones."

47% capable of affording the device.

98% connection with older, pre-singularity "retro" styles and technologies. 

"What the hell did the art team suggest?"
"Retro? Bullshit. Retro is smooth curves, thin profiles, touch screens, one-button, plastic trim. Carl, this is... what is that stuff all over the screen?"
"I think it's supposed to be wood."
"Wood? The carbon corps is gonna have a fucking fit, Carl. You can't cut down wood."
"It's not real wood!"
"Well then what the hell does it remind me of?"
"Why I am disturbed, Carl?"
"A mirror?"
"For fucks sake, Carl, mirrors are for sleazy sexbot hotels, savefile grandmas and people into perception defects, we're never gonna be able to sell this anyone who can afford it!"
"I'll get marketing on it."
"I like this huge flat screen, though."

The cameras folded in on the chamber, ready to print the new body, as Tara's consciousness sat in the machine, fiddling with the levels, lenses always on the Glass, the thing that all the downloads said was "not a mirror."

She'd G-searched everything she could about mirrors - she'd never seen one, but she gathered that they worked just like a camera screen. 

A hacker friend had found the reference, in some obscure corporate vaporvault. It was a 2D image, a thing with wooden feet, a circular shape, trim and frame and screen just like the Glass. A woman stood in front of it, and in the short tube-gif, asked who was hot, and who was not.

"Clear your short-term memory banks." The install wizard said. She didn't. She waited until things were ready, didn't need that distraction. Glass would build her a temporary body, for that safari she'd always wanted, disaster porn viewed with the fear only flesh could provide.

The Glass, the not-mirror, showing her the thing as it was created, the flesh and bones dripping into view, her perception creating it in tandem with the wet print, each fold and form flowing from her own mind. The picture of the mirror, the thing the Glass was not, always there.

Transfer was jarring. New senses quickly awoke. Saves were being filed away in the cloud. Touch was all over, all the time. Smell - smell was no longer a sidenote. She almost gagged, the body would have vomited up stomach contents to the floor, had there been any. Hunger - that was new.

She saw herself in the reflection of the Glass, was shocked at the beauty and glory of her form. The network kicked in, showed her the others. All over the world, assembled flesh from scraps of thought and artificial eyes.

"Glass, glass, that I installed. Who's the hottest one of all?" She asked.

Glass answered.

Tara picked up the printed blade.

Social Justice Wizard Grimoire

I climbed the social ladder, and became a Social Justice Wizard

Warning: Contains immense amounts of Dungeons and Dragons references, so if that's not your favorite sort of RPG please do not send me long emails detailing why I should have used your favorite RPG.

I'd like to thank Luke McKinney, who is actually amusing (this blog is not known for quality  humor, satire, writing, or photography) for breaching this idea on his twitter feed, which I follow and enjoy. If there's anything good here, it's totally his fault.

There is a dark corner of the internet - not including the "dark" internet, which is a separate and actually interesting phenomenon - in which it is a supreme righteousness to be evil and the most woeful mistake to profess any sort of ethical judgement. In these vile quarters, they have an insult that boggles the mind.

"Social Justice Warrior." This is a real insult, a slur insinuating that someone would dare fight for justice in society. I would gladly take up this mantle, but for a few issues: As a river-hobo, my social sphere is rather just already. I do not, therefore, fight for my idiosyncratic views, since I do not want to be set on fire by someone that works for a bank.

Also, I'm not a warrior. Technically, Warriors are a NPC-class that's a less focused sort of Fighter, but I'm a level 1 Barbarian with 2 levels of Ranger. Warriors, Barbarians, Fighters,  Paladins and Rangers are often grouped together as "Warriors," though, so I guess I get a pass on the last part, at least.

In the rarefied medium of Twitter (I'm on twitter!) character limits prevent those with a lack of character from typing out "Social Justice Warrior" so they go with the abbreviation SJW.

SJW could also mean Wizard, guys. (Or, WIZZARD, for certain people) If there was such a thing as a Social Justice Wizard, what sort of Grimoire would they carry?

Onyx Discs of Power crafted from dark woodland magics, no doubt.

The Social Justice Wizard Grimoire: First Circle

Excludinous: By invoking the power word "Obviously!!" once per day per level, the SJW causes the last person who said "Not all (insert name of group here)" to suffer the effects of the confusion spell for 1d6 rounds. There is no saving throw.

Peach Freeze: By spending one round examining his or her surroundings, the SJW can determine if anyone using the defensive feat "But Free Speech" gains the benefit in this situation. (See Fig 8.1: Nobody Understands Any of These Things). Both are entitled to an INT contest (see Fig. 5.1: Entitlement Modifiers) on the SJW's turn. The SJW gains a +4 bonus to this roll. The loser is stunned for 1d4 rounds, which can be countered with the Rapid, Pointless Posting feat. (See Fig. 4.2: Spam)

Second Circle:

Devil's Vocation: This circle (the radius in meters is equal to the caster's INT modifier) immolates anyone speaking the phrase "Devil's Advocate" for 6d6+CHA modifier and SJW level worth of fire damage. Anyone within the circle takes this damage with no saving throw. A target under the influence of the silence spell is immune to the effect, but a deafness spell can nullify the fire damage. (See Fig. 7.3: Exceptions You Did Not Think About)

Explanium Conceptium Basica: This spell counters all uses of the Mansplaining feat and it's associated skills. The target will understand 1 important concept for every INT point of the caster. (See Fig. 1.0: The Universe for available concepts) and must roll a Will save to find a ridiculous debunked counterargument online.

Third Circle:

Forrest's Illuminating Appearance: With a snap of their fingers and a touch of the nose, the SJW causes anyone who in the last 1d4 turns, used the phrase "I'm not a racist, but..." to become ethereal. Their appearance is that of a ghostly apparition of past racism, clad in white robes with a pointy hat. This effect lasts 1d4 hours.

Trollfire: By spreading their fingers to the keyboard and inputting words, the SJW summons forth a torrent of incendiary firepower directed at them. This fire does 10d10 damage every round and can ruin the life of the SJW. The SJW must be female to cast this spell.

The Tattling Heart: To use this spell, which takes two rounds to cast, the SJW targets any shitty satire (See Fig 2.3: Humor) that serves no point but as a veiled attack, not as an honest attempt at pointed humor. The humorist in question must roll a CHA check to hide his or her work, or take 3d10 damage. However, if anyone in the last 1d4 days has used Power Word: Poe to attempt and hide the "satire" in question, the author takes a -5 penalty on this check. If the author him (or her)self has used Power Word: Poe, then The Tattling Heart automatically succeeds.


Rejected Buzzfeed Articles

We tried to burn this barrel, but my compatriots didn't quite understand fire-building technology.

In the sun scorched wastelands south of the old dump, where no man dares tread, lie things that should not see the sun, secrets that twist the minds of men. Also, the city has some real estate out there for storage, which is a good idea, since property values are low, and it's a reclamation project, and the EPA offers generous grants on brownfield restoration... oh, wait, where was I?

Things that should not be!

Weird apparitions smoldering underneath oilslick waters. Tangles of hose and concrete spilling forth from the vegetation.

No, really.

Things down there are wretched and unholy, but the worst of these things I have uncovered came from the most unholy of world-ruining mental ichor.

Buzzfeed. That which haunts the men who once believed that the dark tower of slavery and gibbering madness was the Huffington Post, that word on the clotted tongue-stumps of those who whisper the vacuous shibboleth "Upworthy."

One billion dollars. That is the value of this noise that feeds. Well, close to that. One billion dollars by HuffPo rounding techniques.

But yet despite the evidence you would gather with but a few quick clicks, there are things that Buzzfeed nor Huffington Post nor Upworthy will push out onto the internet.

Here then, beyond the ken of sanity, are the things that Buzzfeed would not print.

.....I was going to make this joke, but robots did it already.