...after one has met a man a million times in the newspapers
it is always a complete shock and reversal to meet him in real life.

G. K. Chesterton
Entropy Gradient

Clues You Can Lose

Valued Readers:

Are you sick of hearing about the cluetrain manifesto yet? Well, I am. Nonetheless, here comes more of it in the form of an interview clocke did a week or so ago with Amy Gahran of the zine Contentious:


"It's possible to sound human and sound stupid at the same time. The trick is to really communicate -- and that means having something worthwhile to say, as well as having a real ability to write."

What a self-serving buttwipe this guy is! Who does he think he's kidding? Oh, excuse me: whom. Have you checked out any of his puerile EGR spew lately? I don't know what your definition of "worthwhile" is, but c'mon! Only the lowest form of bottom-feeder net scum would ever read that garbage.

Locke and his pals are clearly out to fucking lunch on this whole thing. We don't need to "speak with a human voice" or some other nicey-nice ever-so-Nineties New-Age nonsense. What we need is for some advanced off-world sentience to carpet nuke planet Earth from high orbit. Call it Equal Opportunity Ethnic Cleansing. I mean, racism is so petty. Why play favorites? I say take em all out! No more spam, no more useless debate, no more "Honey, could you take the trash out?"

No one has bothered to ask me what I think about all this. So yes kids, it's time once again to conjure up an interviewer with the jumbo cahones necessary to confront RB on the real issues. Ready? Dubious at best, but here you go anyway.

Really Concerned Thoughtful Journalist: So about this cluetrain thing, RB... By the way, do you mind if I call you RB?

RageBoy®: On my home planet I am traditionally addressed as Your Exalted High Holiness, Keeper of the Scrolls of Gonzo Immortality, but sure whatever. RB's close enough.

RCTJ: Well, uh... OK then RB, what do you make of this cluetrain manifesto? Is it having any real impact out there?

RB: Impact? Yeah sure, lotsa impact [yawns]. As an example of drive-by semiotics, it's first rate. Woulda made a great post to some newsgroup like alt.effluvia.extralarge.boxershorts -- in fact, it's generated quite a bit of discussion there.

RCTJ: Oh? And what are they saying?

RB: Basically, the whole thing has devolved into a debate about the relative merits of PowerPoint. Some say -- following cluetrain's suggestion -- that we should burn all such presentations. Others argue that it's OK to use them as long as you're wearing mismatched argyle socks during a new moon.

RCTJ: And what do you say?

RB: Well, I think we need to ask ourselves what the socks are made of, and where they were made. Cotton, maybe OK. Synthetics, I'd have to demur. Akron Ohio, fine. Some slave-labor sweatshop in Kuala Lumpur... well, you see where I'm coming from on this I'm sure...

RCTJ: Certainly, yes. And would these socks be one-size-fits-all or sized for specific individuals? Are there gender issues to consider?

RB: Yes, yes, now we're getting somewhere! That's the heart of the problem really. We have all these companies sending us commercial messages online, but how many fully realize that our feet are different sizes? Or that some of us have athlete's foot?

RCTJ: Cluetrain has been criticized for not including examples of good and bad business practice.

RB: And rightly so. As I see it, the fault is mostly Locke's. He thinks in abstractions to the point that he's not... how shall I put this... let's say there's a question of whether he's um... living among us, if you take my meaning.

RCTJ: A little light in his intellectual loafers, could we say?

RB: Something like that. Have you ever talked to the guy?

RCTJ: I tried calling but he said he was on the other line with the Wall Street Journal and could I call back next year.

RB: Typical. He's a total media whore. And those pals of his, who are they? Dr. Weimeraner? Rick Leviticus? Doc Martin? Did anyone ever hear of these guys? Sounds to me like Locke bought into a Yiddish shoe store.

RCTJ: I know you have strong feelings on this RB, but let's veer away from the ad hominem, shall we? I want to ask about the notion that online markets are getting smarter faster than corporations.

RB: Well, yes, that's true. As far as it goes.

RCTJ: How far does it go?

RB: Well look, ants are also smarter than thumbtacks, but what does that prove? You can't use an ant to pin up a postcard of your adulterous fling in Bimini, now can you?

RCTJ: I've never tried.

RB: What, to score?

RCTJ: No, I mean, like you said about using an ant...

RB: Oh that. Well, just try it sometime. They bend when you try to force their heads into the corkboard. This is something the clue boys obviously never thought about.

RCTJ: So is Bionomics relevant here, would you say?

RB: Of course. Thumbtacks not only work better, they're cheaper too. Have you priced Ant Farms lately? I mean, it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this shit out.

RCTJ: And how would that work in with the sock thing?

RB: Well, you've had ants in your pants before, I assume, so you know what that's like. Socks represent a closely analogous case. There are just so many questions cluetrain begs -- and weasels out of, I must say -- one hardly knows where to begin...

RCTJ: Let's turn to cluetrain's focus on discourse. What point is the manifesto actually trying to make about the "human voice"?

RB: 'the fuck would I know? I mean 95 Theses? How many people do you know who think that's even normal, much less human? And "discourse"? Give me a break! Nobody talks that way. Except maybe academics, and they can hardly be classed among the standard hominids... Which reminds me, I have a paper coming out soon on Barbie Doll dentition. Fascinating study actually.

RCTJ: Yes, that's all very interesting, I'm sure. But getting back to your main point, you're saying you don't agree with the idea that we should all number our sentences?

RB: I think you need to look at the issue on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes numbering is useful. Like say you're ticking off the various medications you're currently taking. In my case:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Tylenol
  3. Heroin
  4. Psilocybin
  5. NyQuil
  6. Viagra
  7. LSD-25
  8. Prozac
  9. Jack Daniels
  10. Vick's Vap-o-Rub
  11. Vicodin
  12. Dimethyltryptamine
  13. Tums
    ...and so on.
RCTJ: That's quite a list, and I can see how you'd need the numbers to keep straight, so to speak. But in other cases not?

RB: Of course not! If you were Julia Child, would you say:

  1. Carrots are vegetables.
  2. Vegetables grow in the ground.
  3. The ground is basically dirt.
  4. People get dirty when they pull up carrots.
  5. What has a carrot ever done to you?
  6. Leave those carrots alone you dirty fucker!

RCTJ: Good example. But what about conversations as such, forgetting about the numbering scheme for a moment? Are online person-to-person conversations any more informative, really, than reading the tag on a mattress?

RB: You mean the ones that say you can't remove them under penalty of law?

RCTJ: Right.

RB: Is that really true? How do they actually know if you take them off?

RCTJ: There's a tracking device keyed to the UPC barcode they scan when you buy the mattress. They know where you live from your credit records and if you take it off, you get a little visit.

RB: I've heard about disappearances. Anything to that, you think?

RCTJ: Well, funny you should ask. I was just reading something in alt.mattress.tags.no.no.no that said the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has put tiny nanotech cameras in those tags and they can see right up your asshole!

RB: Wouldn't surprise me one bit.

RCTJ: But companies just don't get this, do they?

RB: About our assholes?

RCTJ: Well, that, yes, but more the whole cluetrain thing that says we're onto them and they can no longer get away with this sort of thing.

RB: I doubt many Fortune 500 companies are even selling mattresses any more. Now they're mostly using them internally.

RCTJ: How do you use a mattress internally? Seems to me it would be hard to eat the whole thing.

RB: No, no, I meant: using them inside the company. To take little naps on and such.

RCTJ: Ah, I see. Sorry I misunderstood you.

RB: Well there you go. That's part of the "human voice" too. All these morons playing Telegraph out there -- no offense to you. How is this supposed to add up to greater knowledge? Locke knows all this, of course, but he also knows a good media play when he sees it. The guy has no integrity whatsoever.

RCTJ: But so many seem to agree with the cluetrain ringleaders, as they call themselves. Could they all be wrong?

RB: Are you kidding? Of course they could all be wrong! Cluetrain has had an effect, no doubt about it. But let's put this in perspective for a moment. I suspect cluetrain amounts to no more than .00002% of the cognitive impact of, say, a single Sprite ad on daytime TV.

RCTJ: So perhaps we should be having a conversation about Sprite...

RB: If it's all the same to you, let's not. Obey your thirst.

RCTJ: You're basically saying that the entire notion of smart networked markets is suspect, is that correct?

RB: It's utter bullshit! Look, on my home planet, a human being would not be able to carry on a coherent conversation with a doorknob.

RCTJ: The doorknobs talk?

RB: It's actually more of a psi thing. I was just back there recently for debriefing, and as I was entering a room, one delivered quite an impressive disquisition on free will and predetermination. I had to totally revise my entire Weltanschauung.

RCTJ: That must have been painful.

RB: They have surgery for it now. A sort of spiritual liposuction.

RCTJ: OK, well that's about all we have time for, but thanks so much for sharing your views on cluetrain. I'm sure they'll add much to the ongoing discussion.

RB: Christ, I hope not.

RCTJ: Why do you say that?

RB: If it's not already obvious, then I guess there's no way to explain it. Uh, say look, Locke is due back here any minute, so if he like, finds us talking, you pretend to be the Orkin Man, OK?

RCTJ: The Orkin Man?


CLOCKE: [entering] RB, what are you doing at the terminal!? And who is this fellow?

RCTJ: Who me? I'm the Orkin Man.

RB: Yeah, he's like the Orkin Man, man.

CLOCKE: I wasn't aware we needed an exterminator.

RB: It turns out you had a rat... in your, uh, operation...

CLOCKE: Get out of here, both of you!

RB: OK, OK. Touchy, touchy!

RCTJ: Well, I better go now.

RB: Yes, er, goodbye and thanks for smoking out the rat.

CLOCKE: By the way, what did you do with it?

RB: Hung it out to dry. You'll see.

CLOCKE: RB, that doesn't sound good. What've you really been up to?

RB: [looks innocently blank]

CLOCKE: Oh, nevermind. Go back to your dungeon immediately!

RB: Yeah, boss. Pickin it up here, boss...

CLOCKE: Damn, it's always so hard to know how to end these things. OK, what the hell. Cut. Print it.

"colonel mustard?
in the library?
with the lead pipe?"


Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time


Nothing to disclaim at this time.


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          Entropy Gradient Reversals
          CopyLeft Christopher Locke


"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon

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