Status symbols and communication of essence

I’ve been thinking about status symbols.

Initially, I’ve been questioning myself, thinking along the lines of “this is a shallow and superficial thing; why am I even considering it”, but after some thought it turned out to be a very profound matter.

But let’s not jump to the conclusion immediately; instead, I’ll guide you through my process of thinking, so that you may see how I came to my conclusion, and see whether it makes sense for you, too.

I was looking into mechanical watches, as I occasionally do, since they are a mystery to me. They are in essence obsolete technology. Their proponents talk about precision engineering and craftsmanship and what not, and I think to myself, are you fucking kidding me? Those things are Victorian iPhones. They are the only personal enhancement device one could wear on his person, and use it to show his elevation above the unwashed masses, by arriving for tea exactly on time. The unwashed masses had to rely on the church bells, which didn’t give you the ability to arrive accurately within seconds. To arrive accurately within seconds made you an upgraded human being, one that could tell time more accurately. The fact that they were expensive separated the gents from the serfs, so to speak, and people always wore them prominently, so that people knew you had a watch even when you didn’t have to use it to tell time. The fact that you had it elevated you in perceived status; the dirty peasants knew better than to mess with you, and the gents recognized you as one of their own. You were someone they could do business with, or at least share a cup of tea and get to know you, because by apparently belonging to their social circle, you were worth knowing.

I was taught to perceive this pattern as superficial, elitist and misleading, because basing your judgment on a superficial impression of a person is wrong, or so I was told. Don’t be superficial, you need to know someone better before passing judgment. Also, I was taught to perceive these things as materialistic, lacking any spiritual value or background, and as such essentially worthless.

But let’s return to the issue of watches. Today, having a watch is no longer a differentiating factor – they became so cheap, you can get an excellent one almost for free. It has a superbly accurate quartz movement that’s an order of magnitude more accurate than a mechanical watch, it’s reliable, cheap to maintain by changing the battery every few years, some look very good, and some are excellently made. I have a Casio Edifice chronograph, which is extremely well made, reliable and for some seven years or so that I abused it in all possible ways I think I changed the battery twice, and other than that I just put it on and did whatever. I paid $130 for it, or something in that ballpark, and I got the functionality that’s identical to the mechanical Omega Speedmaster Professional, which costs around $3500 for the base model. So, essentially, a mechanical watch is a 27 times more expensive way of getting the same functionality and looks. Who in his right mind would pay that much more? Well, it turns out, many people. If you pay 27 times more than you have to, it’s a statement. The first part of the statement is “I can afford it”, and the second part is, “I know better”. So basically, by buying a mechanical watch you’re saying that you have huge amounts of disposable income, basically you have money lying around in piles that you have no useful purpose for since you already solved all your material problems, and you can pursue hobbies such as haute horlogerie, which makes you not only a wealthy person, but one of refined taste and knowledge, essentially you’re making yourself known to people of similar status and inclinations, so that they can avoid the arduous task of getting to know and discarding masses of irrelevant people and get straight to you. It is very similar to the way in which animals use scent or scratch marks to make their presence known to other animals of the same species. It’s a very quick and efficient way of telling another tiger that you live there. It makes accidents avoidable, and if someone really wants to find you, it’s easy.

The human signals are not only about financial status. More often, they are a complicated thing, signaling your taste, level of education, personality, even spiritual depth. Those signals are sent by modifying one’s physical appearance and behavior. Examples:

So you see my point? It’s not that the person in the first picture doesn’t have money. The problem is, money can’t buy taste, and the more money you have, the more tasteless shit you can wear around your neck, signaling your lack of class. Let’s say those three sit in a pub and you can choose which one to approach and start a conversation. What you were previously likely willing to dismiss as superficial is now quite useful. It is useful if one wears symbols of his religion; if one wears a cross around his neck, you know what that person likely stands for, and how you can not insult him by accident. If one dresses like a Hare Krishna, you know that person is most likely vegetarian and you know what food not to offer him. Also, you already know everything there is to know about that person’s religious beliefs. You know what books he’s read, what he believes, what he practices, and based on your personal inclinations you can do with that information whatever you want, but you just cannot deny that it was effectively communicated. If a person introduces himself as a PhD or an MD, you know a great deal about that person already: you don’t have to talk to someone for hours in order to figure out that this person is smart. It can be communicated more quickly and easily, so that you can either start or avoid communication, to your preference. The looks can tell you much more than you might be willing to accept, and it’s not just looks, but the overall bearing of a person, the way he holds himself, the way he talks, and many other things you unconsciously take in, in order to form an impression.

By modifying your appearance, you signal your system of values. You choose whether to be approachable or isolated, whether you’re in the mood for work or fun, you communicate your ideas of work and your ideas of fun, you communicate your opinion on the situation you are in, and your level of control over the situation. By choosing your clothes, you also make certain choice of language and actions expected and acceptable – for instance, you expect perfect command of language from a well-dressed gentleman, and you expect slurred talk and poor command of language from someone who looks like a street thug. Also, from a well-dressed gentleman you expect to be ignored, because this choice of attire signals isolation and very specific focus. From someone who looks like a thug, you expect to be treated disrespectfully and invasively. Sure, those impressions can be deceptive, but if you’re honest with yourself, you will recognize that you remember those exceptions better because they are so rare it is shocking. In most cases, people really communicate so much about themselves, that if you understand their signals, you can tell what they want to communicate, you can see how they perceive desirable qualities, and you can use that to guesstimate much about themselves, all by the most superficial of impressions. People want to believe that they are deep and difficult to understand, but most are really not.

So, what watch would you wear? Whatever you choose is a signal. If you don’t wear one, it means you think you’re a modern person who has a smartphone with him and doesn’t need a watch (or, alternatively, that you are beyond material things). If you wear a cheap one, it means you just don’t give a shit, you use it to tell time quickly when you’re on your bike or running, or you don’t feel like getting your phone out just to check time. If you wear a fake one, you basically signal that you’re a pretentious, insecure and deceptive person, who wants to show off as better than he is, because he thinks if you knew the real him, you would loathe him. If you wear an expensive watch, you can choose one everybody will recognize as expensive, such as Rolex, or one that is possibly much more expensive, such as Vacheron Constantin, which very few will recognize, but those few are the only ones you want to target with your signal. You can choose a message you want to put out: “I’m someone who has money, taste and power. What I want from you is to recognize this, and either get out of my fucking way, or do business with me” is a message you communicate with a Rolex. “I am so incredibly wealthy, powerful and sophisticated, that everybody who needs to know who I am already does” is a message you communicate with a Patek Philippe or a Vacheron Constantin. However, there are other possibilities: “I have money, but I want people to think I’m not superficial, so I decide to send signals that are unrecognizable to most, if not all, because I’m not really sure what I’m trying to do here” is a message you will send with a Grand Seiko. And let me be quite clear with this: everybody will tell you they do things for themselves and they don’t care about how others perceive them, but that’s bullshit. People dress in a way that communicates their self-image, their values, their priorities, their understanding of themselves and their relationship with the wider universe. Even if you deliberately dress like shit, it’s to show others that you want them to think of you as a person who wants them to transcend the outward appearance and judge you on other qualities – essentially, it’s a call to get to know the deeper you. Whether there is anything there to know, is another matter.

The surprising thing is, this way of communicating your essence to others, it’s not restricted to the physical plane. In the spiritual plane of existence, it is even more important and pronounced, because the outward appearance tells you much more about the soul’s true nature than it does here. The souls clearly show their spiritual achievements and status in their appearance. If you can imagine one wearing his academic degrees in his appearance, as jewels or medals, you get the general picture: it’s like doctor in the hospital wearing a name tag with his title on his white coat. You immediately recognize him as a doctor. In the spiritual world, you don’t need a uniform or a name tag, because all of this is communicated from your appearance. Nobody would need to tell you that someone is a saint or an angel; it would be obvious the moment you see him. Much of our behavior in this world seems to be derived from our expectation that things should work the same way here as they do in the spiritual world, and so we put great weight on first impressions and outward appearance.

It’s certainly something to think about.

About computer security

Regarding this latest ransomeware attack, I’ve seen various responses online. Here are my thoughts.

First, the origin of the problem is the NSA-discovered vulnerability in Windows, apparently in versions ranging from XP to 10, which is weird in itself considering the differences introduced first in Vista, and then in 8. This makes it unlikely that Microsoft didn’t know about it; it looks like something that was deliberately left open, as a standard back door for NSA. Either that, or it means that they managed not to find a glaring vulnerability since 2001, which makes them incompetent. Having in mind that other platforms had similar issues, it wouldn’t be unheard of, but I will make my skepticism obvious – long-term-undiscovered glaring flaws indicate either intent or incredible levels of negligence.

The immediate manifestation of the problem, the WannaCry ransomeware worm, is a sophisticated product of the most dangerous kind, the one that apparently doesn’t require you to click on stupid shit in order to be infected. The malware sniffs your IP, detects vulnerabilities and, if found, executes code on your machine. The requirement for you to be infected is a poorly configured firewall, or an infected machine behind your firewall, combined with existence of vulnerable systems. The malware encrypts the victim’s files, sends the decryption key to the hackers, deletes it from the local machine and posts a ransom notice requiring bitcoin payment on the afflicted machine. It is my opinion that the obvious explanation (of it being a money-motivated hacker attack) is implausible. The reason for this is the low probability of actually collecting any money, combined with the type of attack. A more probable explanation is that this is a test, by a nation-state actor, checking out the NSA exploit that had been published by Wikileaks. The possible purpose of this test is most likely forcing the vulnerable machines out in the open so that they can be patched and the vulnerability permanently removed, or, alternatively, assessing the impact and response in case of a real attack. It is also a good way of permanently removing the NSA-installed malware from circulation by permanently disabling the vulnerable machines by encrypting their filesystem and thus forcing a hard-drive format. Essentially, it sterilizes the world against all NSA-installed malware using this exploit, and it is much more effective than trying to advertise patches and antivirus software, since people who are vulnerable are basically too lazy to upgrade from Windows XP, let alone install patches.

As for the future, an obvious conclusion would be that this is not the only vulnerability in existence, and that our systems remain vulnerable to other, undiscovered attack vectors. What are the solutions? Some recommend to install Linux or buy a Mac, forgetting the heartbleed bug in the OpenSSL, which was as bad if not worse. All Linux and Mac machines were vulnerable. Considering how long it took Apple to do anything, and how long it remained undetected, I remain skeptical regarding the security of either platform. They are less common than Windows, which makes them a less tempting target, but having in mind that this is the exact reason why potential targets of state-actor surveillance would use them, it actually makes them more of a target, not by individual hackers, but by potentially much more dangerous people. The fact that hacker-attacks on Linux and Mac OS are not taken seriously, the protective measures are usually weak and reliant on the assumed inherent security of the UNIX-based operating systems. When reality doesn’t match the assumptions, as in case of the heartbleed bug, there are usually no additional layers of protection to catch the exceptions. Furthermore, one cannot exclude a low-level vulnerability installed in the device’s firmware, since firmwares are proprietary and even less open to inspection than the operating systems themselves.

My recommendation, therefore, would be to assume that your system is at any point vulnerable to unauthorized access by state actors, regardless of your device type or protective measures. It is useful to implement a layered defense against non-state actors: a hardware firewall on the router, a software firewall on the device, limit the amount of things shared on the network to a minimum, close all open ports except those that you actively need, and protect those as if they were a commercial payment system; for instance, don’t allow password authentication on SSH, and instead use RSA certificates. Use encryption on all network communications. Always use the newest OS version with all the updates installed. Use an antivirus to check everything that arrives on your computer. Assume that the antivirus won’t catch zero-day exploits, which is the really dangerous stuff. Don’t click on stupid shit, don’t visit sites with hacking or porn-related content, unless you’re doing it from a specially protected device or a virtual machine. Have a Linux virtual machine as a sandbox for testing potentially harmful stuff, so that it can’t damage your main device. Don’t do stupid shit from a device that’s connected to your private network, so that the attack can’t spread to other connected devices. Don’t assume you’re safe because you use an obscure operating system. Obscure operating systems can use very widespread components, such as the OpenSSL, and if those are vulnerable, your obscurity is far less than you assume. However: a combination of several layers might be a sufficient shield. For instance, if your router shields you from one attack vector, firewall and antivirus on your Windows host machine shields you from another attack vector (for instance UNIX-related exploits), Linux architecture on your virtual machine shields you from the rest (the Windows-related exploits), and your common sense does the rest, you are highly unlikely to be a victim of a conventional hacker attack. However, don’t delude yourself, the state actors, especially the NSA, have access to your system on a far deeper level and you must assume that any system that is connected to the network is vulnerable. If you want a really secure machine, get a generic laptop, install Linux on it from a CD, never connect it to the network and store everything important on an encrypted memory card. However, the more secure measures you employ, the more attention your security is likely to receive, since where such measures are employed, there must be something worth looking at. Eventually, if you really do stupid shit, you will be vulnerable to the rubber hose method of cryptanalysis, which works every time. If you don’t believe me, ask the guys in Guantanamo.

Linux failed because capitalism rules

Let me tell you why I have been gradually migrating from Linux on all the machines in my household, from the point where everything ran on Ubuntu Jaunty, to the point where only the HTPC (media player in the living room) runs Ubuntu Mate Trusty, and everything else runs either Windows 10 or Mac OS.

A year ago I bought my younger kid a new PC, because his old Thinkpad T43 was behaving unreliably. Since he didn’t move the laptop from his desk anyway I decided to get him a desktop, a Bay Trail (J1900) motherboard with the integrated CPU. I love those CPUs, BTW. They are strong enough to run all normal tasks one would require from a computer, such as web browsing, playing all the video formats, light gaming and editing documents, they are cheap, they use very little electricity, and the motherboards themselves are tiny mini ITX format.

It’s efficient enough to have passive cooling, although that didn’t work so well in Universe Sandbox, so I mounted a big silent case fan in front of the CPU to keep the temperatures down. Basically, this looks like an ideal general purpose home computer, and is exactly what a huge number of people are getting their kids for doing homework. Also, a huge number of cheap laptops run Bay Trail CPUs, so the installed base is vast. Also, to keep the cost down, one would expect a large portion of users to put Linux on them, since all the non-specific applications such a machine would be expected to run work well on Linux.

Unfortunately, Intel fubared something with the CPU design, specifically, they seem to have messed up something with the power state regulation, so when the CPU changes its power state, there’s a high probability of hanging. Sure enough, a microcode update was issued and quickly implemented in Windows 10. On Linux, a bug report was posted in 2015. This is what happened:

This bug report was initially opened in January of 2015 about “full system freezes” and the original poster bisected it down to a bad commit within the i915 ValleyView code. There was more than 100 comments to this bug report without much action by Intel’s Linux graphics developers when finally in December they realized it might not be a bug in the Intel i915 DRM driver but rather a behavior change in the GPU driver that made a CPU cstates issue more pressing. The known workaround that came up in the year of bug reports is that booting a modern Linux kernel with intel_idle.max_cstate=1 will fix the system freezes. However, using that option will also cause your system’s power use to go up due to reduced power efficiency of the CPU.

In December when shifting the blame to the other part of the kernel, this bug report was opened and in the few months since has received more than 120 comments of the same issue occurring on many different Bay Trail systems.

As of right now and even with the many complaints about this bug on a multitude of systems and Linux 4.5 set to be released this weekend, this bug hasn’t been properly resolved yet.

That article was written in March 2016. It’s now May 2017, and the issue still hasn’t been resolved. Essentially, the problem with Linux is that the kernel development team apparently doesn’t have anyone competent and motivated enough to deal with this kind of a problem. It’s unclear whether they are simply unable to fix it, or they just don’t care about anything anymore, because there’s no ego-trip in it to motivate them. Let me show you what I’m talking about. There’s a huge thread where the users reported the bug, and tried to figure out solutions. One of the responses that looks very much like it came from a Linux developer, was this:

Well done on turning this into a forum thread. I wouldn’t touch this bug with a 10-foot pole and I’m sure the Intel developers feel the same.

Essentially, TL;DR. It was too long for him to read, because brainpower.

Another thing became apparent to me: they all live in an echo-chamber, where Linux is the best thing ever and it’s the only option. Linux is the most stable OS, it’s the best OS, it’s the greatest thing ever. Except it crashes on probably a third of all modern computers deployed, and Windows, which they treat with incredible contempt, works perfectly on those same machines. Let me make this very clear. I solved the Linux kernel problem with the Bay Trail CPUs by first trying all the recommended patches for Linux, seeing that they all failed, installing a BIOS update, which didn’t help, and then I installed Windows 10 on the machine, which permanently solved the problem. Not only that, it made the machine run perceivably faster, it boots more quickly, and it is stable as a rock, not a single hang in a year.

That’s why I gradually migrated from Linux to Windows and Mac. They are just better. They are faster, more stable, and cause me zero problems. The only places where I still run Linux are the HTPC, and a virtual machine on my desktop PC. Linux is so fucked up, it’s just incredible. It looks like you can only go so far on enthusiasm, without motivating developers with money. After a while, they stop caring and find something more rewarding to do, and that’s the point where Linux is right now. The parts that are maintained by people who are motivated by money work. Other parts, not so much. As a result, my estimate of stability of Linux on desktop at this time is that it is worse than Windows 98. It’s so bad, I don’t recommend it to anyone anymore, because it’s not just this one problem, it’s the whole atmosphere surrounding it. Nobody is even trying anymore, it’s a stale product that joined the army of the living dead. Since I used Linux as my daily driver for years, this pisses me off, but there’s nothing I can do about it but hope that Apple will make Mac OS support a wider range of hardware, and make it available as a commercial product one can install on anything, like Windows. That would make desktop Linux completely obsolete, and would be no more than it deserves, because its quality reveals its communist origins: it’s made like shit. It’s a Trabant, a Wartburg, a Yugo. Conceived on an ego-trip, and built by people who can’t be bothered with work. It’s proof that you can’t build a good thing on hatred of those evil capitalists. In order to get people to make really great things, you need to have a free market that rewards the winners with money. Huge, superabundant amounts of money. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs kinds of money.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. A conclusion of my project of installing Linux on an old Mac laptop. I gave the laptop to my kid. Within a month, it became so unstable, with so many different things breaking all at once, like dozens of packages reporting errors, mostly revolving around Python modules of this or that kind, with apt reporting mass breakage of packets, I gave up, backed up his data, formatted the drive and installed Mac OS Sierra on the machine. It’s slower than it should be because the machine lacks RAM (and I can’t add more because it’s soldered on), but everything works. Linux is so unreliable at the moment, it’s useless on desktop.

What is the fundamental nature of this world?

What is the fundamental nature of this world? What is it, in its essence?

I don’t care about convincing the materialists who believe it’s reality, whose building-blocks are particles and forces. It’s not that I think there are no particles and forces; I just think that this universe is virtual, and its forces and particles are arbitrary. They are a consequence of the design parameters. Essentially, when you make a simulation, you first need to clarify your purpose with it, then you need to formulate ways in which this purpose is to be realized, and then you look for the means. The way I think the whole thing was made is that someone stated what kind of a universe-type he wants, the way videogame creators sit down and decide whether they want to make Candy Crush, Crysis or Witcher. Then they design the “universe” as either cartoonish, realistic (emulating the physical world) or fantastic (with magic and weird laws). Only after that’s done, the coders figure out ways in which it can be done, basically by either writing or using an existing game engine. If the engine is well done, it can allow you to explore the in-game universe without constantly bumping into the limits. Bad engines in the 1990 showed heavy pixelation when you approached the walls and other surfaces. Modern engines no longer do that, they show you detailed textures. Eventually, you get to the subatomic particles in one direction, and stars in other, if the virtual reality engine is good enough. That’s why those don’t interest me all that much. Their existence tells you either that the VR engine is well made and that part of its purpose is to pretend to be the actual reality, or that it is the actual reality. I didn’t make my conclusion based on the knowledge of physics, or lack thereof. I made it by observing things that don’t fit neatly into physics, and trying to figure the necessary prerequisites for their existence. But that’s another story. Essentially, I studied physics in 1992, and when it clicked that this universe is software and not hardware, that it’s an arbitrary specific case of a simulation, of a virtual reality, I ended my study and started concerning myself with other things, such as “now what?”.

That this reality is not primary is actually a common theme in Hinduism. Buddhism formulates things in a somewhat different way but leans in the same direction, with its understanding that there are many world-types and that a soul can reincarnate in any of them, according to its karmic structure. Christianity understands the concept of world-types, defining two basic ones, the material and the spiritual, where spiritual is then further divided into heaven and hell, and sometimes purgatory. The way religions see those many different worlds varies; some understand them as separated spaces, and some understand them as overlapping realities, or dimensions of the same reality.

I have a much more intricate way of looking at it, because I have experience with computers and operating systems, which all provide good analogies of layered, complex systems. For instance you have UNIX, which gives you different views of the system depending on whether you’re a user or an administrator. Also, you have the filesystem with various directories, mountpoints and files, and you have the running processes. Only later do you have the graphical layer, the x-windows, and window-managers with themes that make it presentable to the user. So, in theory, on the same computer you can have different user-experiences, simultaneously, and one user can play a videogame, another can watch a movie, and another can edit a picture. There are common services running in the system-space with root permissions, which a user cannot change, and which form the basis for what is possible within the userspace. On the next layer, you have applications which have their own laws, and differ greatly from each other, for instance a word processor from a realistic universe-simulation or a cartoonish videogame. Today, with our modern computers, it’s quite easy to make those analogies and to explain the virtual-universe theory. However, the people who first figured this out thousands of years ago had nothing but dreams to explain it with; they pointed out how dreams can appear to be completely real once you’re dreaming, but once you wake up they look like an illusion and something else looks like reality. Once the Matrix movie came out, those analogies went into main-stream and became ubiquitous and overused, but this movie never really makes you think in the right direction or makes the proper implications.

Based on the way an application interfaces with the user, you can make conclusions about the intents of its designer. A simulated chess board has obvious intent – it’s a way for the user to play chess with the computer without using a physical board. A console-driven image resizing tool also has obvious intent; it is to be used either directly or within scripts in order to create smaller versions of larger images, for either thumbnails or web display. An interactive global map with satellite imagery also has obvious intent and purpose behind it. Same with a moderately realistic videogame.

However, with some applications the intent is not as clear. Witcher 3, for instance, is such a realistic, deep game, it’s more of a fantasy and an alternate life for the player, than merely a game. It’s a combination of a game, an interactive movie in which you decide how the plot goes, and a way to explore an alternative universe. The intent of the game is to connect you to the emotions of the fictional characters. It has intent very similar to the emotionally dramatic movies or music, only more immersive, because you are included in the plot and the decisions are yours, so you emotionally claim them. You can be loyal or betray friends. You can save one person or another. You can help strangers or ignore them. You can stay out of politics or participate in a plot to kill a mad king. You can marry a woman who constantly bosses you around and annoys you, or one who is willing to go through sewers with you. You can kill a witch who manipulated you or offer her sanctuary. Essentially, you can make the kind of decisions that determine the character and the course of one’s life. This makes it not-really-a-game, because the decisions you make there might actually be karmically formative.

The motive for the game designers seems to be to influence your emotions and provide a genuinely immersive experience. However, what if someone pushed that far enough? Let’s say someone wanted to create an experience so immersive, you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s not “real”, whatever “real” meant, because anything you can experience is real, in a way. Witcher is real, in a way, but you know it’s a game. It’s real because it influences your thoughts and emotions, it’s real because you can experience it and participate in it, but it’s not real the same way your computer is real. It’s easy to say that something is an illusion, but if something leaves tracks in the snow, it’s certainly real, regardless of its actual nature. But if you can’t tell it’s a game, it’s a whole different phenomenon. In order to make something appear to be the reality, you need to block someone from perceiving anything beyond the scope of the simulation. You need to block sensory inputs that contradict the illusion, and you need to block all memory of existence outside the simulation. You also need to provide a convincing and gradual explanation for the experience, in a sense of “how did I get here”. The way this world works can be explained in only two ways: it’s either the reality, or it is a simulation carefully designed with the intent of pretending to be the reality.

As I said, I had my reasons for concluding the latter, and I actually had spiritual experiences confirming it in various ways. The Hindu concept of maya wasn’t just pulled out of someone’s ass; yogis formulated this concept thousands of years ago as a result of similar spiritual experiences. It’s actually something that is verifiable, if only by people with sufficient training, or in special circumstances, such as being reanimated after clinical death. But that’s always so – travel to the Moon was also accessible only to the few, and in limited special circumstances. Higgs boson is only verifiable in special circumstances and in a very limited way. The concept that everyone is able to verify everything anytime in science is nonsense. Only a few specialists can verify each others’ claims, and the rest are in a position to choose whom to believe. You can believe the Apollo astronauts, or you can believe the conspiracy theorists. And regarding the nature of reality, the materialists are in the position of the conspiracy theorists, because they need to explain why the “astronauts” are either liars, or insane. I see complete equivalence; however, it’s beside the scope of this article. I’m not trying to explain the exact reasons why I believe this place is virtual. I’m also not trying to convince those who believe otherwise. I’m explaining my line of thinking after I established that this place is virtual, to those who might have similar understanding.

My problem was that it is very difficult to assume that the person designing this place had good intentions. It has all the qualities of a combination of a trap and a prison. What it does is limit you, wipe your memory, and throw you at the mercy of others. It forces you into a very limited tree of options, where most are fatal and you tend to avoid them, and those that are not fatal are spiritually corruptive. It’s very easy to see this as a result of bad intent, and quite difficult to see it as a result of good intent. In fact, I tried very very hard for years to find ways to interpret it as a result of good intent, because the alternative was emotionally unbearable. For instance, you can see this place as a gym, as a place where you lift artificial weights in a controlled environment with the intent of growing your muscles. However, this attempt fails on the inspection of the results. If this place is intended to produce spiritual growth, it fails miserably. In fact, the souls that come out of this place are in worse condition than when they went in. All are traumatized, most are damaged, some are even outright destroyed. Basically, this world teaches you that there is no God (at least not the kind that can help you in any tangible way), that it is more useful for accumulating power to persuade and coerce others than to work on magnifying your own resources. It teaches you limitation and separation from God. It doesn’t teach you to overcome those things, it teaches you that they cannot be overcome in any way, and that you need to simply assume them and work around them. Essentially, it’s similar to LSD, which inhibits your normal neural pathways and forces your brain to establish alternative ones, basically forcing you to see dragons and talk to garden gnomes while ignoring traffic on the street, and those new patterns very quickly supplant and replace the normal ones, turning you into an utterly dysfunctional individual completely incapable of functioning in the real world. So, essentially, the way LSD fucks you up in this world, this world fucks you up for functioning in any kind of a real world that I actually experienced. Essentially, it teaches you to treat social networking, control of resources, societal and natural laws as if they are of supreme importance for survival and prosperity, while at the same time reducing your personal connection with God to the level of religion, of something you can’t base technology on, something that doesn’t feed you, give you protection or provide knowledge and growth.

In the astral world-type, God is the source of light. God is the source of knowledge. God is the source of “technology”, the way of doing things, of making structures and artifacts and spiritual entities. God is the source of nourishment, energy that refreshes the being, gives it strength and focus and energy. In higher world-types, you already learned to see yourself as God, as an aspect of That Reality, because you progressed beyond astral constraints by understanding that God is within, and that it’s your more real self, and you ceased to see God as a source of energy for yourself and your endeavors, instead seeing yourself as a manifested aspect of God, so you no longer draw light from God, you are the light of God. So, this is where the idea about this world as a gym, as a place where you train under extreme load in order to be able to function better in the real world mater, falls flat on its face. If you train to rely on everything but God, your inner instincts grow deformed. You learn to do things the way it’s opposite from useful in the real world, where you find yourself after death. You learn to communicate wrong, you learn to judge things and people wrong, you get to have wrong ideas about what it takes to move forward, and you basically need to un-learn everything you learned here in order to get where you were before you were born in this place. It reminds me of trying to learn how to use rollerblades. Knowing how to walk or how to run doesn’t help. Knowing how to ride a bike doesn’t help. You basically have to pretend you’re walking on ice and learn a completely different way of moving, turning and stopping, and every time you rely on your reflexes, on your normal way of reacting to something, you are in danger of falling. So, you learn how to skate on those, and this skill is useful only for skating. It doesn’t help you walk better, it doesn’t help you do anything else, it’s not universal, and once you remove the skates you’re not much improved, and all that at a price of high probability of injury during practice.

This is a rather unpleasant line of thought, and opens some relevant questions, such as why does such an evil place exist, and who ordered its creation? What was the intent behind it, and why was it allowed? Essentially, why did God allow this abomination to be created, and why did he not put an end to it? There are actually several good explanations, one by the Cathari, and the other by a Christian psychic by the name of Katarina, and put forward by B.D.Benedikt. The Cathari explanation is that this world was created by Satan as an evil mockery, and that God created the Heaven as the real world, and Satan created this world to entrap souls and divert them from God. Katarina’s explanation is that Satan didn’t really create this world because he lacks the ability, but it was he who seduced the souls into following him here, away from God, by tricking them into believing that this world will provide them with the necessary kind of experiences due to which they will evolve and become like God. Also, there’s the Yazidi belief that this world is under the authority of the “Peacock Angel”, the Theosophical belief that this world is governed by Sanat Kumar, and Jesus’ belief that this world is given at least temporarily into the power of Satan, “the prince of this world”. Buddha said that this world is governed by Mara, a Satan-like entity that tries to entangle beings here and make them perpetual slaves. Essentially, I can’t really think of many religions that believe that this world is actually governed by God, and yet that’s the first thing people instinctively assume, that God made this place, that He’s in charge, and therefore that He’s ultimately responsible for all the horrible things that take place here.

I started making progress in my thinking once I allowed myself to stop assuming that God had to be ultimately responsible and in power over everything. Once I did that, I allowed myself to accept the possibility that something is really fucked up and wrong, without automatically blaming God for it. On the other hand, I literally saw God under the thin layer of illusion that is this world. I couldn’t pretend that this world is the reality, or that God had nothing to do with it. In fact, I could more easily argue that this world has no other existence, but as an idea within God’s mind. Yet, this world is a completely fucked up mockery. It’s as if it was designed by Satan, and yet it is maintained by God. This makes no sense unless you stop thinking about those things in religious terms, and start thinking about them in terms of software and operating systems. Someone created the computer. Someone else created the operating system. Someone else bought the computer, installed the operating system, and applies both to some super-crazy and harmful purpose. It’s wrong to ask whether the computers are evil, whether the designers of the hardware and the OS are evil, and why they allow it. Sometimes, things just happen because they can. You wouldn’t think that the result of all the smart and benevolent people inventing the computers, the software and the networking would be porn and hateful chats, but that’s how it got to be used by the end-users. You give them something, and the first thing they test is whether they can eat it, fuck it or whack someone with it.

So, what something ends up being used for is not necessarily by design, and it’s not necessarily condoned by those who made the system. Hell, if you host a botnet and use it to DDOS someone, it’s not necessarily even known by the owners of the actual machines that have the bots installed on them, and even if they knew about it, it’s questionable whether they could turn them off. So, we need to understand that some things can be the result of abuse, and that some form of abuse cannot be easily prevented or stopped by the people whom you expect to be in charge.

So, I gradually worked on disentangling this unholy mess and both figuring out how this came to be, and what could be done about it.

The results sound weird even to me, but here’s how the story goes. Metaphorically speaking, when God created all the relative existence, he wanted to allow the souls access to His creative ability, in cases where they would lack the power and knowledge to create a different world-type. Essentially, it’s like leaving a computer terminal accessible to those who are granted access by the librarian, so that they could access the books in the library. You assume that the librarian will be able to figure out who has honest intentions, and who is there only for mischief, and you assume that people are in the library for honest purposes, especially if nobody before did anything wrong. The security tends to be lax and superficial. So, let’s say this is a special library, and the computer terminal is more akin to the way David Bowman communicates with HAL 9000. You have some kind of an access point from which a superior intelligence interfaces with you and gets your orders. Let’s say this intelligence is merely a thin wrapper over God’s intent and power, directed to serve some specific purpose. Let’s say it’s designed and ordered by God to do what the people authorized by the librarian ordered it to do, without passing judgment. Let’s say this intelligence can create a new world-type as easily as you can open a text document on your computer, or, more precisely, it can be ordered to create a new application to process a new type of document, which is neither text nor music nor video, but for instance a web page containing all of the above. Let’s say it can be ordered to design a music player that inherits all the properties of a normal music player, but instead of playing sound on the speakers, it can print the waveform on a plotter. Or it can be designed to play movies as ASCII graphics. You get the picture. You don’t need to be much of a programmer in order to create apparently spectacular results. What you need is access to this power, an existing template to modify, and a few sentences of instructions. You can essentially be a very limited being, in both spiritual grasp and in power, and yet you can wield God’s power to create universes. Just imagine today’s kids with smartphones – they’re as stupid as rocks, to the point where some believe the Earth is flat, and yet they have a supercomputer in their pocket which triangulates their location from either the base stations or the geostationary satellites in high orbit, completely without their knowledge and completely beyond their intellectual scope, and what they perceive is their position on a map. Essentially, it is today possible to use tools that are both smarter and more capable than yourself, at least in some things, and so it shouldn’t be all that difficult to understand what I’m trying to describe.

So, in order for this nightmare to take place, several things needed to happen. First, God needed to assume that the beings would create other Universe-types in order to explore His infinite creativity, to experience things that would not be as easy in the worlds He created; and he needed to assume good intentions and good behavior, because obviously, according to the karmic law any abuse would have had grave consequences which nobody in his right mind would want to endure. Then, he had to appoint a guardian to limit access to such capability, and He had to trust his judgment and experience. There would then have to be a being which is seriously messed up spiritually, who wanted to prove some very psychotic theory, who is so crazy that he actually believes his theory to be the better way, something that is an improvement upon God’s ideas. Finally, the guardian needs not to take this shit seriously, and to agree on terms that seem OK to him, but which allow terrible things to take place, all the while locking out anyone else, preventing any interruption, or basically anything that’s not agreed with the abuser. And finally, there needs to be a way for the abuser to hide his true intent, and present his intent as noble and righteous, because otherwise the karmic law would break his plan.

So, it’s a death by thousand cuts – it wasn’t that anyone actually agreed for this place to be created. The intent was obscured by snipping it into smaller requests that seemed legitimate and were approved, and the perfect storm was created with the very assumptions that abuse could be detected and prevented by the guardian, that nobody would be crazy enough to abuse the system in the first place, and that nothing could seriously go wrong simply because nothing did ever go wrong before, and even if it did, it could be stopped and fixed.

And that’s how we ended up with a situation that a Universe is created and maintained by God, but designed by Satan, and the system cannot be shut down because Satan was actually given permission by the authorized person, so basically God gave His word to make something possible, and Satan defined “something” with only a few commands, quite basic and non-elaborate, having neither the knowledge nor power to create something like this. But, he could tell the Universe-spawning intelligence to take the astral universe-template, to modify certain parameters, such as limiting personal connection with God, capping personal power to a very narrow band, and forcing interpersonal interaction. “The Crystal”, as I call this Universe-engine, then took those parameters and created the set of necessary initial prerequisites for it to be set in motion; things like particles and forces, and the specific density modification on the astral template that was used. As such, this entire Universe was created in its final form, from beginning to end, the way you can have an entire movie in a file, from start to end, and it’s only connected with once someone watches it, and it could be connected in a certain way and from a certain time-interval; essentially, you cannot incarnate here at a timepoint where the stars haven’t yet formed, or the Earth is still liquid, or there is no life, or life is too primitive to be of interest. But, things can be set up at the control aperture, somewhere in the astral world, in a way that if you start thinking about this place and about ways in which you would live a life here, this is seen as acceptance of terms for incarnation, and as a request to find the closest-matching incarnation possible to live through your chosen experience. Essentially, it’s like a black hole that draws you in if you come close, where “coming close” is defined in terms of merely thinking about it. It’s a nightmare of the worst kind, and this was defined in the terms agreed upon in the beginning, where the “librarian” agreed that everybody must be allowed to join this world, and nothing must be done to prevent it. The librarian saw nothing wrong with the request, but he simply assumed that everybody will be allowed to leave at will, too, as it was always the case everywhere else. Which shows you how simple and reasonable assumptions can be the mothers of all fuckups.

So, how old is this Universe? I honestly don’t know. Time within it is irrelevant, since time as such would exist only as observer-time. You can’t say that a movie file on your hard drive is 3 hours long, you can say it’s 1.5GB big. You can say it has a potential for subjective time-expenditure of 3 hours, if the viewer connects with it and watches it at normal speed from start to end. Before the first souls connected with this Universe-type, its “age” was irrelevant, since it was probably created from start to end in its final form in an instant. From the position of The Crystal, it could observe it as something that exists completely beyond our in-Universe understanding of time and space. It was a movie file on a hard drive, which was created in an instant in its final form, and since it wasn’t yet watched by anyone, the notion of time related to it was meaningless. You could jump to the beginning, where you have a huge particle explosion from singularity, jump to the middle where you have the stars producing increasingly heavier elements, jump some more and you have the evolution of life, and who knows how it all ends; I know only that it ends, that a fixed ending was agreed upon as one of the terms that Satan had to accept in order to gain access.

So, what are the fundamental constituents of this Universe? Atoms, protons, quarks, bosons? Those are to this Universe what pixels are to a videogame. They are the tiniest parts you can see. The true fundamental constituents are a wish for God to stay away and not “interfere”, a wish to live a life without God, an to create an illusion that individual evolution towards God doesn’t matter.

Being forced into things that happen to you against your will is more of a fundamental property of this world than gravity. Gravity is here only because it was part of the solution-set required to create the world without God. It is incidental. But hatred towards God, that’s what this world is all about. It’s here to prove that God can create nothing so good, that Satan couldn’t fuck it up and turn it into its opposite.