Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   critical thinking skills in 2022
Monday, January 3 2022

location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY

This morning my brother Don called me from Creekside (south of Staunton, Virginia) to say he woke up this morning to find a foot of snow on the ground (according to, it was more like nine inches), which came as a complete surprise. (Don is not one to pay attention to the news or the weather.) Meanwhile here in Hurley, all the snow melted away over the weekend and there's been nothing to replace it. It's gotten colder, but it's nothing unexpected for January in the Catskills.

I had a bit of a setback over the weekend when my hosting provider terminated the server I use for bittorrenting. In the past they'd done this once due to copyright strikes (or so I suspect, though they never said), though this time it was supposedly because the tech stack the server was running (some sort of Linux) was supposedly no longer supported. So I created a new Linux server with the same hosting company, and today I began the process of migrating over the services that I depend on that server to do. The first of these was to set up the Transmission Dæmon, which headlessly downloads media using Bittorrent. This was surprisingly easy to get working, mostly because I'd taken excellent notes the last time I'd done this. The other service, though, was more problematic: forwarding my main email address to the Gmail account I now use. Godaddy used to provide POP3 services for the domain (along with web services), and when they wanted to start charging me $5/month for email, I decided to use my bittorrent server to forward those emails to the Gmail account. Part of the complexity of getting this to work is that the domain is registered at, its domain servers are at GoDaddy, the Bittorrent server is in a third place, and there are configuration challenges involved in getting the data to flow correctly. On top of all that, even once I get things working, sometimes it's hard to know due to propagation delays and overzealous spam filtering (which tends to filter quick and dirty test emails due to their garbage content).

My watching YouTube videos produced by anti-multilevel marketing (antiMLM) content producers has led directly into videos shining a spotlight on all manner of social-media-enabled scams, something I'd been fairly oblivious to because of my basic toolkit of critical thinking skills. Had I lacked that, I might've fallen for one of the many Facebook advertisements (nearly all of which seem to be for scams of various types) and been gradually separated from my money. (This actually happened to Powerful shortly before he was hospitalized; his survival skills in prison apparently didn't include resisting get-rich schemes based on day trading and cryptocurrencies.)
In watching Spencer Cornelia's YouTube channel, I've become aware of a whole world of scammy YouTube influencers willing to do anything to their audience to make a buck. Before they can do this, though, these influencers must first amass large audiences with whatever their hook happens to be. Often the hook is that the influencer is a sexy woman, though sometimes it's a musician. If it's the latter, they tend to be peacocks of over-the-top ornamentation, with brightly-colored hair and too many facial tattoos to ever hold down a respectable job. As for the music, it's usually rap. Based on the sheer number of such YouTubers, those characteristics seem to allow them to out-compete more understated artists.
Once these YouTubers have huge audiences, they're then approached by schemers who need large pools of suckers to work their schemes. If the influencer can get their audiences to fall for whatever the scheme is, then both the influencer and the schemers benefit. This surely has an impact on the ability of the influencer to continue influencing, but if Donald Trump has taught us anything, it's that there are vast pools of people who can be conned multiple times by the same person. And, as Spencer Cornelia points out, influencers are always quick to memory-hole their endorsements the moment the "rug-pull" happens, deleting their reputation-tainting endorsements from all their social media channels.
Many of the recent schemes have involved cryptocurrencies. The schemers create the currency, then pay an influencer to endorse it as the next big thing. (The influencer does not have to actually buy any of the "currency," but they always say that they have or that they will.) Then, within minutes or hours of the influencer endorsement, the schemers liquidate their holdings, which is the so-called "rug-pull." It immediately renders the cryptocurrency worthless, as at that point there is no further demand for it. It's a classic "pump & dump" scheme. I hadn't been aware of any of this when I learned about it last week on Spencer Cornelia's channel.
Today as I was making spaghetti for dinner, I was listening to Spencer Cornelia discuss the many "fake gurus" on YouTube. These people typically claim to be super rich, often showing themselves in the presence of Lamborghinis, Gucci bags, fat stacks of cash, Rolex watches, small jet airplanes, and other things that broke people think of when they picture rich people. The impression they're hoping to give is that they got rich due to some secret information that they alone possess, information they are willing to sell to a select few. If one actually buys this information (which typically takes the form of a video course), one gets basic information of much lower quality than what could've been found with a simple Google search. That's the whole scam. The "guru" often starts out not rich at all, posing in front of the trappings of wealth until the money starts flowing. And that money all comes not from following the advice given in the low-quality courses they sell, it comes from selling those courses. It's all kind of obvious when you think about it; if one could really make absurd amounts of money by following some secret scheme, there would be no reason to let anyone in on the secret.
This is especially true when the "guru" is a sexy woman with huge tits and a big ass who makes a point of showing these in her advertisements. Does it really make sense that an absurdly wealthy woman would humiliate herself on video if the source of her money were some sort of program unrelated to her sex appeal? It's obvious that it doesn't, but there's little fear of the critical thinking skills of the intended audience, especially if the more reptilian parts of their brains can be flooded with the desire to fulfill extremely basic needs.
I remember fake gurus and other scammers from well before there was social media or an accessible internet. But these technologies have removed all of the friction that used to stand between these people and their marks. As with everything, technology both giveth and taketh away. In so doing, it magnifies the advantage those with critical thinking skills have over the gullible.

In other news, Gretchen took Neville to work with her at the bookstore today for the first time in many weeks. And while there, Neville barked at a couple of people and freaked them out for no apparent reason. It's unlikely Neville can keep working at the bookstore if he's going to be doing that.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next