Snowcrash in 2018: A hopelessly optimistic dystopia

Neal Stephenson’s breakout ‘post-cyberpunk’ novel, Snowcrash, injected a heaping dose of realistic hard science fiction to slap down the more fanciful mind-uploading cyberpunk worlds of vague geometric ‘data’. Instead, Stephenson imagined a video-game like ‘Metaverse’ very much like many virtual worlds and massively-online games that exist today.

“Didn’t anybody tell you that I was a hacker?” Hiro tells an opponent after hacking him to pieces in an online sword fight. In 1992, this didn’t mean that he was a cheater, it just meant that he was a skilled computer programmer.

Snowcrash “Gargoyles” are nerds who wear bulky computers on their body, too immersed in an augmented reality to carry on a decent conversation. Today, high powered pocket computers, ‘smartphones,’ make nearly everyone a gargoyle.

Time has revealed this seemingly cynical novel’s boundless optimism, and it’s not just a handful of small ‘jetpack’ moments like these. Stephenson’s antagonist, L. Bob Rife, is the stereotypical bad guy depicted by Silicon Valley monopolists even today. His plot to control the ‘technological priesthood’ through ancient religion is foiled by Hiro’s swashbuckling antics. But the telecoms who handle the internet’s hardware aren’t controlling anybody’s minds or forming vast unaccountable monopolies that have any influence except over the bottom line at YouTube and Netflix. This is, in fact, the same antagonist that Silicon Valley has forced onto the world through so-called “Net Neutrality” campaigns even as their libertarian-individualist-disruptive monopolies usher in a disturbing and terrible age of right wing mind-control that makes the mind-control dystopia of Snowcrash look like the Hundred Acre Wood. The hacker elites are not the target of mind-control. If only. They are the hapless and often red-handed purveyors of ‘fake news’ propaganda, anti-semitism, and other horrors out of last century, rather than ancient Sumeria.

Hiro Protagonist works for the CIC, a privatized CIA, which pays good money to internet users for uploading videos and other content. If only neoliberalization ate the military intelligence institutions and turned them into some entertainment apparatus like YouTube, except with fair pay! The one important thing Snowden’s revelations have shown the public is how privatized military intelligence is only opening up possibility for more and more abuses. In Snowcrash, the relics of the US government are depicted as the bad guys, colluding with the unregulated mind-controlling L. Bob Rife. It is more than a bit curious that one of L. Bob Rife’s central missions is importing vicious criminal refugees to the US, and chief among them is a Native American sexual predator.

While still a bit edgier and more fun than its bland and shitty counterpart, Ready Player One, Snowcrash has aged very poorly over just the last few years. If it predicted anything, it was only the narrow and terrible world that Silicon Valley and their heroic hackers have built for us today.

“YouTube Homesteader” Jesse Stafford Dead after Construction Accident

Jesse of Pure Living for Life died Friday in a tragic home building lifestyle decision gone wrong.

INTERNET — Jesse Stafford of Pure Living For Life passed following a tragic construction accident, Friday evening after trying to repair his new home’s leaking roof.

Pure Living For Life recently drew controversy from the YouTube Homesteader community after Jesse went “on-the-grid,” rigging a 300 amp line directly into his garage’s bedroom.

“The first snowfall ripped all the screws right out of our house,” Jesse uttered in this fateful last video, titled Is this THE END of JESSE on Pure Living for Life?!? The video, which includes graphic footage of Jesse’s death, has received over 10,000,000 views, earning his surviving partner, Alyssa, a Platinum YouTube button.

“Yeah, I’m not so sure about these products,” Jesse moaned, “We doublescrewed the whole house and they still didn’t hold. Everyone said they were good screws but I guess what does the internet know.”

The house’s famous Structural Insulation Panels, buckled and dangling into the badly cracked foundation, funneled a stream of water directly into the exposed 300 amp electrical box.

“Now I know a lot of YouTube safety people are going to say this isn’t safe, but I’m going to install a bigger ridgecap, which should finally be big enough, put the glue down first this time, and see if another 7 cans of foam will fill in the extra gap. THAT should solve our little ‘electrical’ problem.”

Climbing up a hand-made wooden ladder, Jesse howled into the wind as Alyssa tried to stabilize the drone. “Now this will get some clicks! Woooo!!!” Fans noticed this was the first time Jesse had ever worn a toolbelt, but instead of tools he had filled each pouch with cans of insulating foam and clipped even more cans to the back.

Fans noticed that the timber frame structure of the house, which was attached to the foundation only with a few toenail screws, is shown totally detached earlier in the video. Moments after removing the first piece of the leaking ridgecap, an immense creaking can be heard as several of the Shelter Institute’s joints give way and another corner of the timberframe slips off the foundation. As the Structural Insulation Panels are shorn across the splitting roof, a cloud of sytrofoam obscures the view of the cameras. Several minutes pass, and the drone footage shows a scene that only gradually becomes clear. Alyssa is standing in her garden next to a ball of foam that has engulfed Jesse. A hundred jars of Verde Salsa are embedded in the surface of the foam.

Jesse’s cause of death has not been determined, but Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador of the Bonner’s Ferry Hospital told reporters, “All seven of the cans of foam split open within a second, and because there were two different brands with just the right catalysts, the foam expanded almost explosively and set up before he even hit the ground. Whether he was squeezed to death, suffocated, cooked by the immense heat, or was somehow poisoned by the toxic gases remains to be seen. It was likely some combination of all of these, but it looks like the foam at least shielded him from the worst of the fall from the roof.”

Alyssa has retreated from the public eye for the moment and there is no word on the future of Pure Living for Life.

Michio Kaku: “Aliens have infiltrated our internet”

“Aliens have already begun psyops and largescale infiltration of the internet to turn humanity against itself so that a small scale invasion across interstellar distances will be possible.”

INTERNET — Theoretical Physicist Dr. Michio Kaku told reporters Sunday that he thinks an advanced alien species may have infiltrated the earth’s internet to sow discord and soften up humanity for a potential invasion.

Dr. Kaku, speaking at an event held by former Blink 182 musician Tom Delonge told reporters, “The only truly credible reports of UFOs have followed a very troubling pattern. Always they are tracking our fighter jets or interfering with nuclear weapons systems — and these stories show a coherent and disturbing pattern that is very consistent from person to person and from nation to nation.”

Tom Delonge slouched and his eyes teared up as he gripped his mic, trying to settle the conference room. “We’ll take your questions later. And no, this isn’t a joke — not a prank.”

Dr. Kaku continued, “Thank you Tom. Imagine, for a moment, if a group of chimpanzees suddenly learned to make stone-tipped spears or started crafting bows and arrows. This might not be a major threat to our civilization, but it certainly would draw our attention, especially the attention of people who live nearby. Even worse, imagine if they discovered fire.”

Delonge waved his hand dismissively at the cries from the conference room, “In the end, I know we’d kill them. Chimps setting fires all over the place would just be too dangerous. Whatever scientists think, the people living in the area would not be very tolerant for very long, and look: We’re the chimps with nukes — it’s a situation that no advanced species in our vicinity can tolerate.”

Judging by the strange, scripted, and fictional feel of events lately I’d say that our goose is likely already cooked.

Dr. Kaku looked stern and spoke with incredible clarity, “When humanity deployed its first nuclear weapons, this must have instantly drawn the attention of anyone in our galactic neighborhood. The gamma burst would create an unmistakable signature that would be easily detected at a great distance. These accounts of nuclear weapons being disabled by strange lights in the sky are credible evidence of an advanced species displaying total military superiority. The strange craft that zip around fighter jets, changing direction and accelerating at unbelievable speed, even apparently surviving blasts from machine guns, this is the aliens making their presence known, as I predicted earlier this year.”

Tom Delonge, ashen and emotionless, announced, “Our cyberspace is totally defenseless against such an advanced threat. There is no encryption that can keep them out, no fake news filters that can stop their influence, and no sense in resisting. It’s already too late. Look around you. Everyone is at everyone else’s throats and we’re on the brink of a third world war. How can we resist psyops from such an advanced threat?”

Dr. Kaku shook his head, “It doesn’t look good. But I have been looking long and hard at the encounter between Europeans and the civilizations in the Americas. In that case, there wasn’t a very large technological gap, at least compared with what we’re facing now. But on the optimistic side, the technological advantage, in itself, wasn’t the determining factor. Rather, the Spanish were able to play groups against each other and take advantage of a civilization that was in disarray, turning factions against one another. It was just so expensive and time consuming to move resources and men across the ocean, and a major invasion was just not possible. But by turning factions against each other, a very small group of about five hundred men were able to take over a civilization of millions. I believe any spacefaring conquerors will almost surely follow this pattern. So it is a major challenge for humanity to suddenly transform itself into a Level I civilization, to settle our differences peacefully. Judging by the strange, scripted, and fictional feel of events lately I’d say that our goose is likely already cooked. But if we wise up suddenly, there is a very good chance we can resist them. They may be very advanced, but we have the home field advantage. We don’t need to move our weaponry across interstellar space.”

“There are so many other scenarios we’ve worked out with the Pentagon,” Delonge said. “For instance, there are, likely as not, several competitors for power over Earth, each of them using one nation or another as a proxy. Think of it, if an alien species asked to ally with your nation and said it could disable the nukes of a much bigger country that was threatening you, putting sanctions on you, and making your life miserable, you’d probably make that deal. It’s obvious. And this is why a lot of people at the Pentagon don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to be seen as puppets of a more advanced species.”