Doescher’s Law

Ungoogleable was launched after a great, drunk argument I had with friends on the world’s gold supply.

BACKGROUND INFO:   Most people believe that gold is rare, the same way diamonds and oil are rare- meaning that, it is scarce and therefore valuable, yet still found all over the world, and pumped out of the Earth daily. This is not, however, true. Gold is unimaginably scarce. Every day, for example, we pull-out a volume of oil that is 300 times larger than all the gold ever mined (308 mil gals of oil each day / 1 mil gals of gold, ever). National Geographic once noted that all the gold on Earth could not fill two Olympic swimming pools.

There is no way to know (like everything at a bar) how we got started on this topic, but I made the following comment:

 

You know, in all those spy movies, they use a convoy of trucks to rob Fort Knox, but the truth is: you could empty it with a brief case.

“What?”

Sure. There can’t be more than a couple of bars there. It would be like stealing two very heavy VCRs.

“What are you talking about, Flannery? There are rooms, ten feet high, filled with gold at Fort Knox. It’s an entire base, of gold!”

No… there isn’t that much gold, in the world.

 

Hell, I could probably fit all the gold in the world, in my car.

People are now starting to become angry: “what kind of car do you drive?” / “Honda Civic”. Fury. Strangers join the argument:

  • “what about gold coins? Jewelry?”

           They’re diluted- not pure gold.

  • “they say the jewelry is all gold, in commercials”

           Impossible. Pure gold bends like warm chocolate- you wouldn’t even want it, as jewelry
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFO:   Unlike most people, when I encounter resistance during an argument, I actually increase the absurdity of my point, rather than tame it, in order to find a middle ground. People are normally so perplexed by this move –like a cop who just heard a driver insist on a harsher ticket– they drop all balance (dumbfounded, in fact), and the argument is then mine to close as I wish.
  • “what about the California Gold Rush?”

           I could fit all the gold found during that rush in my mouth.

No one was able to find a google query that settled the question, so the debate continued until closing time; the old fashion way: with us yelling at each other. And, say what you will about the bad facts that were probably being thrown around that night, but –by the end of the evening– every one at the bar knew each others name… and a rough idea of their thoughts on metallurgy

When I arrived home, I started this email chain (Time Stamp = 2 AM):

Thanks, to Prescott Tolk, Adam Burke, CJ Sullivan, Nick Vatterott and (my beautiful wife) Jessica for letting me reprint this exchange…

Ungoogleable

— Settling a Bar Room Argument —
Ten Years Ago

Today

I hate Google. I consider it an arch nemesis; a kill joy. Google is the dork in the back of a class, who –just as everyone is enjoying themselves– reminds the teacher that a quiz is scheduled. Google is a teacher’s pet.

Why do I hate Google so much?- well, in a way, I am a victim of habit destruction. Google has invaded bars. Now, when a man runs his mouth at a bar (as I love to do), some vanilla with an iPhone immediately disproves him: “ah, no Sean, I’ve just googled it and ‘Ben Hur’ did not cost more to film than all five space shuttles cost”.

They are bringing google into bars! We already work (as near drones) in a world of facts and forms, and dates and exact names- now they want to make bars that way. Bars –the last place where we can still have brassy, exaggerated conversations; even lie to each other– are under threat. Swagger is going the way of the dodo bird.

It was not, of course, always like this. Twenty years ago, every bar had a couple of men who were completely comfortable lying about their role in a war; drunks proposed solutions to the gas crisis based on half-memories of grade school physics; old men flat-out invented baseball stories- placing hitters inside stadiums that never existed during their career, hitting home runs that are impossible. And, best of all, disproving them was a social event.

Back then, the entire bar would join together –much like how the Amish build a house– to disprove a loud mouth. Almanacs were passed around; people introduced themselves after overhearing the argument; the bartender would even phone the library, for answers. You met people. You worked it out socially, spending the time laughing, talking. Now, some one types a dozen keys into a phone and shuts down the entire discussion, before it even started.

But, THERE IS HOPE. Just as the coyote now prospers (after changing its eating habits when its original habitat was lost), I too have adapted. I have moved beyond the world of exact dates and dollar figures, of country names and treaties, of public records and statistics, in my arguments. I have moved into the world of ungoogleable. I now combine real technologies, with unreal uses; I talk in quantities that are too big (or too small) to have been calculated; I put extinct animals into the present day, and current civilizations into the very far past. In short, I only argue –at bars– about things that can not easily be put into a a single google query.

I argue in the margins and shadows- where google can not find me. This blog chronicles that effort. One man’s journey, to argue in a world with google:

ungoogleable.info

In format, Month – Day – Year

Thanks to every one who wished me a happy birthday yesterday- my Earth Birthday, as we called it
on the Visitors Locker Room. As some of you noticed, these birthday wishes occurred on the wrong day last year: October 10th- my Facebook birthday. You see, I specified the wrong date of birth, when creating my Facebook profile over two years ago and –until correcting the error last week– I received birthday wishes on the wrong day. As it turns out (because I am such an idiot with dates), I have MySpace and youtube birthday as well (October 12th and 9th, respectively … …in fact, I’m not even born on the right year on youtube).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There is a famous adage: “history is written by the victors”. They were talking
about armies when they said that of course, but it is still true today- except the
victors are now
google and wikipedia. Anything put on to the Internet will, if returned by google
as the first result, become a fact within two years- it doesn’t matter how error-filled it is.

How do I know this is true: because my Facebook Birthday was not corrected to
my Earth Birthday until last week, when my wife over-heard me telling some one I was
born on October 10th and responded, “no, honey- you were born on October 5th”. In
other words, the facts of your own birthday become blurred, when the Internet tells
you some thing else.

My wife, of course, says, “No, this can only happen to you- no one else is
this stupid with dates”. But I disagree.   I believe, I am
actually the first modern man. The first person to so throughly outsource his memory to
computers
(the victors), that he trusts them for his own birthday above all intuition and
experience. I have put them in charge of managing my facts, and I question
nothing. In doing so, I am at least a generation ahead of my time.

(NOTE: final statement presumes I was born in 1947, which I’m not positive is true)

Everyone Knows That Fact

  The adjacent letter is being widely circulated online as hilarious
example of the stupidity in Kentucky (the lady doesn’t think “usury” –the
lending of money at an excessive interest rate– is a real word). User comments from the
original page include
(photobasement.com/jumble-too-hard/):


“Hahaha. Thank you, I needed that laugh.”

“stupid bitch needs to get a dictionary”

“*sigh* Kentucky. What can you do?”

“This person, the 9 year old, and the sister are idiots”

(nearly all users also include a link to the definition)

This letter, and the reaction to it, is the perfect summary of the modern world: skilless
intelligence. We are a world of on-demand knowledge, where every fact we cite was
learned ten seconds ago in a google search, yet we flaunt it like it’s been in our
head since childhood. In a bar, they call it “beer muscles”, when a drunk thinks he
has muscles that don’t truly exist. We have “google brains”. We think we are smart,
because we have access to so much information, but, in reality, we are just renting
facts from google, rather than building any actual intelligence. We are no different than
what would happen if you gave google to the Bronze Age.

I actually know the word “usury”, but only from the cliff notes to “The Merchant of
Venice”, where it appears more often than “plaintiff” would in a court
transcript. Meaning, I didn’t learn the word until college and even then it was
only because a teacher made me read Shakespeare Perhaps my vocabulary is just small,
but I have a difficult time believing that all the people forwarding this article
knew “usury” before reading it. I would love to see the internet reach a point
where it displayed a ‘fact history’, next
to each user comment- sort of like an ebay seller history, but, rather than past
sales, you’re seeing how long a fact has been in the user’s brain:

 

 

Ringing in the ears is usually just caused by
fluids. It’s not that common, but also nothing to worry about. I’d give it a day.


 

Dead wrong. Tinnitus (ringing of the ears) affects
over 70 million Americans, can have dramatic effects on health and can be a sign of
serious imbalances in the nervous system. Your answer is absurd.

FACT HISTORY: horns22 learned what “Tinnitus” is ten seconds ago. He didn’t
even know the ear had bones in it before running this google query and actually mispronounced “Latin”
when reading it to himself.


The Mind is the new Appendix

Last week, I googled, “what day of the week is it?”. I then walked into the other room and opened a bottle of champagne- a sort of retirement party for my mind. Its last functioning part has been shutdown. Google now tells me if I need to shower.
HOW I GOT TO THIS POINT: a history of my mind, in assorted time lines

With google, I no longer even absorb facts. Likewise, my memory –due to years of neglect– has actually atrophied to the point where I am publicly embarrassed when forced to use it- like a man standing on a leg that feel asleep. Last week, I estimated that the Pacific Ocean was ten million miles wide during a trivia game. I’m told (after ten minutes of straight laughter) that the Earth couldn’t fit in our solar system if that were true. I have turned-off my mind entirely with google, the same way lighthouses went dark after sonar was introduced.

CONFESSION: I had to google that fact about lighthouses. Also, I didn’t use a calculator to double that oatmeal recipe, as claimed in the timeline. In truth, I had to google it (I couldn’t remember if ounces were bigger than a tablespoon… …and I couldn’t find the calculator… …Separate Point: google has freed me from the hassle of remembering where I put the calculator)

How throughly have I refrigerated my mind with google?- I become enraged if some one asks me to cite a fact, from memory- like they are asking me to operate a textile loom, or help them move.

actual quote of mine, heard by entire bar while talking to friend last week:
 

“What time zone is Idaho in? <screaming> How the fuck should I know that- I don’t have a computer in front of me?!”.

 

More infuriating are the people who try to slip facts into my mind:

“Sean, let me just give you directions to my house”

What- no! Don’t try and store that shit over here, man! It’s like asking me to hold on to your couch. Why should I waste space within my mind, on those directions, when google can do it for me? Google will tell me where to turn. Google tells me when I will get there. It even tells me who declined your invitation. My mind has become a summer cottage, used purely to vacation. Everything of importance is stored upstate, at google.

CONFESSION #2: I plan to never use my memory again (unless google starts to require a password).

II

Do you remember the Y-2K bug? We were worried that if computers went offline, planes would crash, or the electrical grid would fail. Loosing computers –back then– would have been like the entire city going on strike: no infrastructure Now, I couldn’t even tell you my wife’s birthday if computers failed. Hell, I couldn’t even call off work (assuming the phones lines functioned) because my office number is stored on my computer (I couldn’t, from memory, even tell you how many digits are in a phone number any more). I wouldn’t even know what movie to watch without computers.

Bill Joy, one of the dozen or so men most responsible for the internet, believes that computers will eventually overtake humans, possibly making our race endangered or even extinct (for those not familiar with the history of computers, this assertion –coming from Joy– would be like Clinton saying the US government will destroy the world in his lifetime, in terms of gravity). Some leading researchers see computers attacking us by 2030, destroying the human race with alarming ease.

They are wrong, of course: computers have already attacked. They have sent a small, covert, expeditionary force to lay the groundwork for a full invasion (I believe this is technically described as “lasing targets so they look good on CNN”, if I remember Ed Harris from “The Rock”, correctly). The first wave was imdb, which –in a single swoop– eliminated all free time:

Time Tables:

  pre-imdb
2.24 PM:

“I’m just going to check my email real quickly, then we’ll get going”
2.29 PM:

“Tim isn’t coming this weekend- he just emailed.
OK- let’s get going”

 
 
  imdb
2.24 PM:

“I’m just going to check my email real quickly, then we’ll get going”
2.29 PM:

“Did you know Sean Penn was in “Footloose”?”
2.40 PM:

“There’s no way “Indiana Jones” was ever called ‘Ohio Bob'”
4.30 PM:

“They discovered plastic on accident”
6.00 PM:

“15 inches- that’s the most snow we ever got in one day.”
7.00 PM:

“You’re right- it was Chris Penn. OK, we should get going before- WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED? It’s 7 o clock.”

Cell phones were next and prepped us for having computers manage our relationships. I have dozens of good friends who are as equal as dead to me if I loose my cell phone. Hell, I’ve become so numb to computers managing me, I now allow them to suggest friends.

Google, however, was their final, ingenious wave (before the war). With google, we now refuse to think. Attacking us today –in 2008– would be easy enough, but imagine how stupid we are going to be after 20 years of google. In two decades, I won’t even be able to name a hobby of mine without a computer reminding me. A computer, at that point, can say “Neural Machine 1528 is your new president- you will be obey“, and I will accept that command like he was telling me to turn left at the next light. We envision a “Maxim Overdrive” moment when computers attack, with everything from blenders to tanks rising against us. In reality, computers will just triple every calculation and we will die from plain crashes, gas explosions, or just eating way too much salt. It will happen within 24 hours, and we won’t ask a single question.