Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Killing Donald Trump Part Five - The OODA Loop & Agree and Amplify

[Previous: Killing Donald Trump Part Four - Really, Guys? Really?]

This is the OODA Loop. The OODA Loop is your friend.

If you want all of the nitty-gritty details on the history of the OODA loop and its creator, click the link and read the Wikipedia page. We've got a lot of territory to cover today.

The "OODA" loop refers to a repeating four-step process for decision making:


As the theory goes, in any confrontation (two pilots dog-fighting, two boxers punching up, two debaters debating), the party who can complete the OODA loop the fastest and most often will win (all other things being equal).

In this style of thinking, one of the most important things to do is to "get inside" your opponent's OODA loop so that they are responding to your actions instead of making true decisions. Forcing your opponent to respond to your actions guarantees that your always one or two steps ahead. They're still responding to your last Act, and you're already on your next Orient (or whatever).

Now, I doubt that Donald Trump has ever heard of the OODA loop, but his debate performances provide an excellent example of the principle in action. Why? Because he always forces his opponent to fight one step behind by dropping ridiculous statements.

Take the "bring back tariffs" exchange from a few debates back. Honestly speaking, were you expecting tariffs to be an issue in the 2016 election? I sure as hell wasn't. And that's why it was effective. I guarantee you that Bush and Rubio's campaigns spent zero hours prepping them to discuss tariffs, and I guarantee you that that's why Trump brought it up.

This in part explains why Trump drops bombshells like this (and it's not because he's crazy). It puts his opponent in a defensive stance - trapping them in the Observe/Orient phases of the OODA loop. Even if tariffs are as legitimately insane as most people say (I'm no economist), it doesn't matter for the duration of the debate. Trump can drop argument after argument in favor of tariffs, while his opponents are stuck with "uh, tariffs are bad? Right?"

Trump: "Tariffs! Yuge beautiful tariffs!" 
Bush: "Really? Are we really talking about tariffs? Tariffs are bad. We tried tariffs, didn't work"
Trump: "China is kicking our butts! Bring Apple back to America! Tariffs have worked, and they'll make America great again!"
Bush: "But Adam Smith clearly-"
Trump: *Macho Man Randy Savage 'Whooo!'*

Short version: Trump says something crazy, forcing his opponents to Observe/Orient. Meanwhile, Trump can move forward with Decide/Act, getting inside his opponent's loop and dictating the terms of the discussion.

So. How do you break out of the Don's loops and restore control?

I'm going to suggest a technique from sales/PUA circles known as "Agree and Amplify." Simply speaking, you grab on whatever your opponent says, agree, and then build on it. In this case, you should take the arguments to obviously ridiculous extremes:

Trump: "Tariffs! Yuge beautiful tariffs!"
Bush: "Sure, tariffs. Sounds great. Then you can start selling opium to China, because Donald Trump obviously lives in 1839."
Trump: "China is kicking our butts! Bring Apple back to America! Tariffs have worked, and they'll make America great again!"
Bush: "I love it. I love Donald's plan! Let's make smartphones 1,000 times more expensive. Let's make cars 1,000 times more expensive. Let's make clothing 1,000 times more expensive. Tariffs are great." 
Trump: "Won't happen. We can make tariffs work."
Bush: "Sure you can, buddy."

Would tariffs actually make smartphones 1,000 times more expensive? Who knows? Who cares? It's probably impossible to perfectly predict how tariffs would work in 2016. The point isn't to prove how smart and correct you are about the totally vital issue of tariffs, it's to stop reacting to your opponent.

Technically, Agree and Amplify is still reacting to your opponent. But the beautiful thing about Agree and Amplify is that it allows you to change how the audience perceives your opponent's words. Similar to Qualify and Attack, it allows you to move in close to your opponent. By putting their words in your mouth and exaggerating them to ridiculous proportions, you wipe the original statement out of the audience's mind.

The challenge is to create a sufficiently ridiculous image. Maybe Opium and 1,000 times more expensive smartphones doesn't stick in your mind - but you can think of something even more ridiculous as an exercise.

The rest of this post will be dedicated to spit-balling ridiculous Agree and Amplifies.

Trump: "Mexico is sending us their criminals and rapists!"

"Absolutely. In a few years, Mexico is going to have an absolute rape deficit."

"Look, I know a lot of people are upset about our rapist exchange program, but..."

"I, like Donald Trump, am very concerned about illegal aliens taking all of our good criminal jobs/ But don't worry Donald, you'll always be the best when it comes to fraud."

Trump: "We're building the wall!"

"Sure, we're building the wall. And if Donald builds it, the wall will be bankrupt in two years."

"Yes, absolutely. And we're going to build it all along the coasts and across the border with Canada too."

"Yes, and then we're going to shoot the entire country into space so that no non-Americans can ever get in again."

"We're going to build a wall, we're going to set up guard towers, and we're going to tattoo your Social Security Number on your arm."

"We're going to build the wall, and we're also going to shoot down incoming Mexicans aircraft."

Trump: "No more Muslim immigrants!"

"I agree with Donald Trump. And next, we're going to deport all the Catholics."

"Yes, yes, this is so important. We're also going to put all American Muslims in camps. For security."\

"Exactly! Then we're going to ban all Christians from leaving the country."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Killing Donald Trump Part Four - Really, Guys? Really?

[Previous: Killing Donald Trump Part Three - Rainbow Polka-Dot Ops]

I'll freely admit, we haven't discussed rallies or riots in this series before. We definitely haven't discussed shutting down a major city in response to a peaceful political rally. Then again, who would have thought that we needed to?

This shouldn't be necessary, but I'll lay it out anyway. Shutting down a major city in response to a peaceful, lawful political rally and physically intimidating/attacking fellow citizens is as stupid as shit. Don't do it. Also, do not physically attack presidential candidates. Just...come on, guys. We shouldn't have to review this material.

I mean, you've basically just given Trump the nomination, if not the presidency.

We're going to veer away from normal procedure so I can share a personal anecdote.

I'm from an extremely evangelical conservative pocket of an extremely evangelical conservative region of the US. You know the evangelicals who hate Trump because he's a multiple divorcee who runs casinos and strip clubs? Yeah, that's them. My Facebook feeds has been full up for months with Christians talking about what a sleezebag Trump is and how they want anyone but him.

I went home for a visit last weekend, when the Chicago riot hit. Guess what? Now they're okay with Trump. Now, they haven't jumped on the Trump Train yet and they still prefer Cruz, but they've gone from #NeverTrump to #IGuessIfTrumpIsTheNomineeThat'sOkay (which is, admittedly, an absurdly long hashtag).

You've got to, got to, got to think about the akido of public discourse. By publicly attacking Trump with the forces of chaos, you make him look like an agent of order. They feel sorry for him now. He's no longer the most Hitlery element in the picture. The most Hitlery element is the fuckers attacking people in the streets for their political beliefs. YOU JUST LOST THE HITLER HIGH GROUND.

Bonus warning: no one feels bad for you if you try to disrupt a political rally and someone makes you sit down and shut up. You're not the victim in that scenario, you're the dickhead.

Now granted, that's anecdotal evidence from one small corner of the nation. But these are also the Republicans who I thought were least likely to ever vote for a person who has some nice things to say about Planned Parenthood.

Here's the falsifiable bit: expect Trumps poll numbers among evangelicals to improve in the next few weeks, and up to the election assuming he doesn't say anything stupid about Jesus. Specifically, look for the number of evangelicals who strongly disapprove of Trump to start dropping.

My anecdotal evidence and gut feeling will be incorrect if the number of evangelicals who strongly disapprove of Trump to remain the same or increase (again, assuming that Trump doesn't say his daughter is the second coming of Christ or something equally offensive).

You can also call me an idiot if Trump says his daughter is the second coming of Christ and still improves his favorability among evangelicals.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Reduxing Vox Day: Best Novelette

I thought Vox had already achieved Top Kek by recommending File 770 for a Best Fanzine Hugo. But alas, even greater Kek was in store.

"We have been repeatedly informed that homophobia and the lack of diversity is a serious problem in science fiction, and speaking as the leader of Rabid Puppies, I could not agree more. The decades of discrimination against gay dinosaurs in space by the science fiction community stops now, and it stops here!"

 - Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Novelette

Yes, Space Raptor Butt Invasion is a Rabid Puppy nomination for Best Novelette. I say this as a genderless entity who usually can, but this time even I can't even.

I think everyone's initial reaction will be that this is just trolling. But let's look at it from the lens of 4GW and the lens of Distributed Thoughtware.

On the moral level of 4GW, Vox risks nothing. Some Sad Puppies might turn up their nose at it, but he played by the Sad's rules last year. Anti-Puppies already consider him (and the Puppies) the Anti-Christ. People who already hate him and want to destroy him will continue in that position. Oh no.

As a destabilizing move, this has potential to be Vox's ultimate kill-shot. If, somehow, SRBI makes it onto the ballot, the Hugos will lose all pretense of credibility. Let me make this clear: if you care about the Hugos, then your number one priority this year is ensuring that Space Raptor Butt Invasion does not make it onto the ballot.

Again, that might horrify some Sad Puppies (the only group Vox could potentially lose moral ground with), but for the Rabids, this is the stretch goal.

So the ultimate potential good is razing the Hugo's credibility and the ultimate potential bad is alienating a few Sad Puppies and neutrals. Not a bad trade-off, considering.

Even if SRBI doesn't make it on the ballot, the lulz will be good for Rabid Puppy morale. It's pretty funny and it's a great talking point ("why are you afraid of homosexual sci-fi erotica?") that allows for mass trolling. For a throw-away in a minor category, that's a pretty good stack of outcomes.

Shifting more towards Distributed Thoughtware, I expect Gay Raptor Gate to gain the most traction of any manufactured controversy at the 2016 Hugos. File 770 refusing to turn down a nomination? Humorous, but not damning. Nominating Video Games for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long-Form)? Intriguing, but not controversial enough. Dinosaur Sodomy in Space? Now that grabs headlines.

I mean, it did get me to start blogging about Vox again. I'm going to guess that other people aren't going to be able to let this one go either.

Frankly, it's almost a Rainbow Polka-Dot Flag Op (one of the openly political ones). Think of it as a "Mexicans are rapist and murders, but I guess some are fine" moment. It's going to suck all of the oxygen in the room away from everything else, and towards this (and hence, Vox).

There's one last way that this works for Vox, and that's the rhetorical level. First, it will be used to argue that the Rabids are a powerful voting block or to argue that the Rabids aren't block voters. Think about it:

SRBI Gets the Nomination: "We are legion! We are strong! We can get Gay Space Dinosaurs on the ballot!"

SRBI Doesn't Get the Nomination: "What block voting? If we were block voting, Gay Space Dinosaurs would be on the ballot!"

Either outcome can be effortlessly rolled into a Rapid Puppy talking point.

More importantly, this allows Rabid Puppies to build a mental link between diverse, transgressive Sci-Fi and Space Raptor Butt Invasion. I expect to see many people being asked why their favorite homosexual Sci-Fi novel isn't like SRBI. The point isn't that they're actually the same (we can all see that, right?), the point is that the question is even being (will even be being) asked.

Pre-Posting Update

Vox has conceded that Space Raptor Butt Invasion is less than 5,000 words and thus not eligible for the Novelette category. After the announcement picked up traction on File 770, that is:

Khitty Hawk
Not sure what VD’s goal is since "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" isn’t even a novelette. The thing’s less than 5000 words. No one could No Award it since it’d get disqualified beforehand.

Call me a psychotic Vox apologist, but this was an intentional error. Think about it this way: what's the best way to get more people talking about Space Raptor Butt Invasion? Other than the title, naturally. Why, by making a Tar Baby error. "Oh no, mister File 770, please don't talk about my nomination! That would be ever so dreadful! Please don't shout about how silly I am to nominate Space Raptor Butt Invasion to the wrong category! Especially not when I still have plenty of time to switch its category!"

And lest you think I have fully succumbed to Vox-induced paranoid ravings, I was on the original Best Novelette thread yesterday, and comments mentioning SRBI's length kept mysteriously disappearing. Why? Because the gambit wasn't complete until the Anti-Puppies started talking about SRBI, and a chance to talk about how dumb Vox is is something Anti-Puppies never passed up.

Granted, that's a theory that rests on something that I subjectively noticed and didn't screen-cap. Maybe Vox did just poop the bed on this one. Take it with a grain of salt, but either way, this "mistake" costs him nothing and gets more people talking about Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Whether the win was intentional or a side effect of his systems is largely academic.

I'm calling it here. This is my falsifiable statement: if the 2016 Hugos are the Year of the Gay Space Raptor (ie, the biggest talking point and what people remember it for), Vox knows what he's doing.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Killing Donald Trump Part Three - Rainbow Polka-Dot Ops

[Previous: Killing Donald Trump Part Two - The Qualify and Attack]

A "False Flag Op" (or "Black Flag") is an operation under a false identity. For example, every time there's a mass shooting, pro-gun advocates claim that it was set up by the Federal Government. Why? So that the Federal Government has an excuse to take everyone's guns!

Conspiracy advocates love the idea of Black Flags - Bush did 9/11 (or allowed it to happen), Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor in advance and let it happen, etc. And Black Flag operations have been used throughout history to great effect.

We've already seen stirrings of Black Flags in this campaign against Trump. For example, do you really believe these guys were members of the KKK?

The Black Hand of the KKK reaches far and wide

Or this guy?

Sheriff KKK endorses Trump!
Note that this all happened before the whole "David Duke supports Trump" thing. There's no way to know if any of these people were acting in concert or were feeding off of each other's energy, but the timing and build up are obvious.

Now, the David Duke thing gained some traction, but it also gave  Trump an even bigger (even YUGE-er) piece of our Distributed Thoughtware. Up until Super Tuesday, it was "Donald Trump" this and "Donald Trump" that and "Is Donald Trump" etc.

I think we can do better. It's time for Rainbow Polka-Dot Flag Ops.

The Donald Trump Paradox is that every time someone talks about him, he gets bigger. He says something racist? Bigger. He says something sexist? Bigger. He walks out on a debate? Everyone talks about it, he gets bigger.

The Distributed Thoughtware is caught in a processing loop. All available mental resources are dedicated to Trump, whether trying to figure him out, trying to tear him down, or trying to point out why someone else is a better candidate than him. The only way to break the loop, the only way to crash the program, is to do something so ridiculously ludicrous that it seizes every person's processing power.

The only thing that can stop Trump is something so huge, so unbelievably ridiculous, that it sucks the air away from him just as effectively as he sucks the air away from other candidates.

The Rainbow Polka-Dot Flag Op would not be recognizably political. We don't need Rubio donning a feather boa and running around Miami - that puts the ball back in Trump's court. We need someone to announce free Fusion energy and for the media to talk about nothing but that. We need someone to drape the Eiffel tower with a floral pattern. We need 500 gallons of Jello to spill onto downtown LA. 

We need a series of coordinated, non-political strikes of ridiculousness to snap us all out of the political mindset. We need ridiculous distractions so huge that no one thinks about Trump, or even the presidential race.

Alternately, we could attempt to shift the narrative from Donald Trump to Fascism. Not by directly calling Trump a fascist (oh man, has that not worked). I'm talking about fleets of Zeppelins bearing the Iron Cross floating above major cities. I'm talking about mailing out fake 'Deportation Notices' mailed out from the 'Committee on Un-American Activities.' Simply calling Trump Hitler 2.0 won't work because it is demonstrably false. Giving the masses a sense of creeping Fascism - that "It Could Happen Here!" might tip the balance.

SuperPacs, I'm looking at you. Any candidate who did this directly would be torpedoed, but a SuperPac who did this "totally without the knowledge of Senator Cruz" while giving him advanced knowledge could pull it off.

Rainbow Polka-Dot Ops. Think about it.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Killing Donald Trump Part Two - Qualify and Attack

[Previous: Killing Donald Trump Part One -  Ultionem in Nigroque Cygno]

I took a jab at John Oliver in the last post, but his Last Week Tonight segment on Trump was one of the few bits of anti-Trump media to pick up significant footing in my personal slice of the Distributed Thoughtware. A quick search for "John Oliver" on YouTube or "Drumpf" on Google indicates that it probably gained traction in yours too.

You may or may not have viewed his attack as effective. But I'm guessing more than one person in your personal network went nuts for it.

I'm going to argue it's because he used a variant of the "Disqualify & Dismiss" tactic - the "Qualify & Attack."

"Disqualify & dismiss" works as such:

"That guy's a racist! Now I can say whatever I want about him while ignoring anything said in his defense because he is a racist!"

The exact nature of the disqualification differs from group to group ("That guy's a Socialist! Now I can..." "That guy's a heterosexual! Now I can..." etc.), but the tactic itself remains the same. It has been pointed out that the Left  in particular likes using this tactic, and has used it quite effectively up until recently.

Just think of the list of -ists and -phobes that have been minted in recent memory. We kept minting new cards because the tactic kept working. But overuse is diminishing their value, particularly outside of Leftist bubbles.

John Oliver took pains at the beginning of his assault, not to disqualify Trump, but to qualify him. 'Look, I get it, I get why Trump is popular and I find him personally very entertaining,' and so on. He doesn't start with the assumption that no right-thinking person would support Trump. This allowed him to bypass a lot of knee-jerk defenses.

Think of it as throwing your left arm around someone and pulling them in tight so that your right arm can come into gutting distance.

This, but more British

Usually you want to avoid stepping into your opponent's frame. If you can avoid it, absolutely avoid it. But when you're up against a frame that cannot be entirely avoided, step inside quickly and stab, stab, stab.

Now I doubt John Oliver is going to change the minds of any Trump supporters. But there's a good chance that he helped harden the opposition. The way people reacted to it - it's the first attack in a while that people perceived as landing.

There are still things to criticize here. Trump supporters were able to swing it around as evidence that John Oliver was anti-immigrant or immigration-shaming or whatever. Worse, it did nothing to shake Trump's hold on the Distributed Thoughtware. All things said, however, it was a solid move that will stick far longer than cries of "Racist! Sexist! Homophobe!"

Qualify and attack. Look for more of it in the future.

[Killing Donald Trump Part Two: The Rainbow Polka-Dot Flag Op]

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Killing Donald Trump Part One: Ultionem in Nigroque Cygno

"What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes.

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme 'impact'. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme 'impact', and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explains almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives.

- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

So we all see that Donald Trump is a Black Swan, right?

1). Donald Trump's success most definitely "lies outside the realm of regular expectation." Sure, there were a few unusual people preaching the Gospel of Trump from relatively early in the election cycle, but that it itself is not that unusual. You're always going to have a few people riding a hobby-horse candidate. If Ben Carson was crushing the primaries, I guarantee you that some fringe pundit would be crowing about how they 'called it.'

2). Trump's success indisputably has "extreme 'impact.'" At the minimum, we're talking about overthrowing one of the two political parties of the world's sole superpower. At the maximum, we're talking about a permanent shift in the global balance of power. That's impact to an extreme.

3). Everyone and their mother now has a theory on why Trump was inevitable. It doesn't matter if anyone is right, what matters is that we're already engaging in the inevitable stage three of a Black Swan event. When only the prophets and madmen could have called it in advance, it does not have prospective predictability. 

By every predictive mechanism available, Trump will take the White House in November. But of course, Trump has already smashed every predictive mechanism available. Can we use mechanisms based on "regular expectation" to predict the course of a Black Swan? Probably not. It's hard to say. It's a Black Swan.

Let's look at a quick list of the things that have not stopped Donald Trump that have stopped other candidates in the past:

1). "Racist!"
2). "Sexist!"
3). "Unelectable!"
4). "Degenerate!"
5). "Psychotic!"
6). "Extremist!"
7). "Fake conservative!"
8). "Etc.!"

Obviously, the usual playbook of disqualification is having no effect, other than giving Donald Trump an impressive hold of our Distributed Thoughtware.

Since this first script has failed, people are looking for other options. Here's a list of common knee-jerk strategies I've seen floated around:

1). Shouting the above phrases even louder
2). Shout everything even louder
3). Assassination
4). Voter fraud 
5). Back-room political shenanigans

Despite accusations that Microsoft rigged the Iowa vote for Rubio, there's no evidence of vote tampering beyond the usual levels. Outright fraud is probably not going to happen.

Back-room political shenanigans are still on the table, and may be enough to prevent Trump from getting the Republican nomination. This option will also likely permanently destroy the Republican party, so the establishment isn't going to use it unless absolutely necessary. Of course, Republican establishment figures are already talking about voting for Hilary instead of Trump, so...let's call this one a "maybe."

Shouting "racist" et. all even louder seems least likely to work, and where anti-Trump figures are pooling most of their chips. *cough* John Oliver *cough*.

Shouting EVERYTHING EVEN LOUDER means stooping to (more accurately, stepping up to) Trump's level. It means the other candidates committing to full retard mode to make Trump less special. Unfortunately, I can't see the other campaigns seriously considering this - for the reason that they seriously consider things. They'd do it less effectively than Trump and lend him legitimacy (more accurately, make questioning his legitimacy even less effective).

Assassination has been mentioned (in a "I'm joking, but not really" sort of way), but would likely require cooperation from a figure inside the Secret Service. It would also likely destroy any shred of faith Americans have left in the political process. I won't rule it out as a possible thing that could happen, but I am ruling it out as a thing that anyone should ever consider a good idea.

Conventional wisdom says that the most likely thing to stop Trump at this point is a brokered convention or similar back-room shenanigans. But you didn't come here for conventional wisdom.

Let's go deeper.

[Next: Killing Donald Trump Part Two: Qualify and Attack]