Monthly Archives: September 2016

Pavlok: The Human Shock Bracelet


If you can’t already tell, we live in a dystopia. The technology we’ve spent decades to harness and refine now controls what we see via black-box algorithms. Whether it’s training us to view and like sponsored content, or simply catching us in a novelty-seeking loop to increase interaction and time-on-site for shareholders, we’ve slowly allowed the promise of the open internet to narrow and centralize until it mostly serves the needs of private investors.

The Pavlok delivers an electric shock to your wrist when it detects you are engaging in a self-declared bad habit. It connects to your phone, where you enter your bad habits. This may work (users report it breaks soon, sometimes before its first use) but it’s a short leap from masochistic lifehacking to companies offering bonuses to employees who wear Pavlok to increase their productivity at work. Then, the companies require use of Pavlok during work hours for all employees, to make it “more fair.” On-call employees have to wear them at all times outside of work, for obvious reasons.

Then, a study shows that schoolchildren show a 6% increase in test scores when equipped with Pavlok. The superintendent describes the electric shock as a “fun tickle” in the assembly where the devices are distributed.

You receive your Time-Warner Pavlok along with a pamphlet that compliance will earn you $20 off your monthly cable bill. All you have to do is remain in the room during commercial blocks. (The electric shock will warn you that you are out of compliance.)

Below is a real illustration from Sony patent 8246454 B2 from 2009. Our dystopia is real. This is what we got instead of the equality, leisure time, and freedom we could have had if the greed of the ruling class hadn’t condemned us to this living hell.


The Chalkboard Fantasy


These wall-chalkboards always exist in a fantasy land I think of as DreamEurope. You’re going to write farm-restaurant stuff on them in cursive, and your basket of fresh baguettes is obviously going to be right there, because you took your wicker basket to the fucking market, because this is DreamEurope. Your avocados are always in the imaginary stage between rock-hard and rotten, your berries never get moldy in the time it takes you to drive home from the grocery, and you always wash your dishes the day you use them, never going for weeks or even months eating hot dogs on paper plates because the thought of doing anything else makes your body feel so heavy you can’t move. The sun always shines, no one ever Brexits, and everyone speaks fluent English with a light French accent. I love DreamEurope.

Quotations From Chairman Trump



The only way this works as satire is if all you know about communism is that “it’s bad” and that the red book is “the bad book.” Then again, we’re so far into the worst election season of our lives that we’re all grasping at some way to explain what’s happening, trying to construct a logical explanation for our nation in 2016 other than “democracy has failed us.”

(An English translation of the original “little red book”, Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, is still in print.)  

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