Antibiotics are Anti-Life

It’s right there in the name! And that’s only ONE of the reasons people should avoid antibiotics:

  1. Anti-Life, as mentioned
  2. You need to be careful what you put in your body.
  3. Antibiotics have directly caused a higher percentage of the US population to be infertile.*
  4. Antibiotics contain sunspots, just like vaccines do.
  5. Amoxycillin has G6 microchips in it. Way worse than G5!
  6. Some nut job on the Internet says that antibiotics are just a way for THEM to control you.
  7. People give cows antibiotics, and just look at them. Fuckin’ herd animals!
  8. I AM that nut job. And I’m telling the truth, God as my Witness. Well, at least about #3. That’s true.
  9. Don’t listen to me; do your own research. Only don’t listen to THEM. They’re all liars.
  10. Snarglmuffins.

There is the part of me that says, “Jerry, discouraging people from taking life-saving medicine is BAD! Capital B-A-D!” But maybe I’m saving lives here. The sooner people who act with no regard for the safety of their fellow citizens die off, the safer the rest of us will be.

So fuck it. I’m all about aiming an anti-antibiotic campaign tailored straight for the anti-vaxers. Use their words, make them imagine themselves heroes set upon in an egregious age, and let them die of a routine infection. Not so much murder as assisted suicide, and for the greater good.

* By massively increasing the average human life expectancy, antibiotics have increased the percentage of people past child-bearing age.

5

The Trump Premium

I’ve been going to a Web site fairly regularly to check on the movements in the price of Bitcoin and other crypto tokens. This has exposed me to a lot of advertisements to invest in precious metals.

Most of those ads are for coins that are either one ounce of silver or one ounce of gold. Not coins in the “legal tender” sort of way, but round things made of pure metal that are struck with some sort of decoration.

While silver currently shows trading at $19.86 per ounce, I can buy a handsome silver coin for $24.27. The coin will have a picture on each side. Maybe liberty or the ol’ “Don’t Tread on Me” snake. That picture is apparently worth about four and a half bucks.

Unless that is, you want your coin stamped with the image of Donald Trump. In that case, the coin will cost you $25.78. Same amount of silver. Just a bigger markup because the buyer is making a value judgement with his testicles, rather than his brain. (I used the male pronoun intentionally, which now I see is a disservice to all the idiots who identify with different pronouns. But I’m leaving it, so I can keep this parenthetical comment.)

So.

There is a significant market in which people will pay extra for any random shit if it has Trump’s picture on it. I picture running a booth in a flea market, and buying shit from all the other booths, putting a Trump sticker on all that stuff, and selling it for 30% more. (Note: this blog episode is NOT filed under get-poor-quick.)

The idea scales. GMC Tundra Trump Edition. (Note to self: research what model of truck was used to commit murder by the “good people” in Charlotte.)

But in between those extremes is where the real money is. I’m sure most of this stuff already exists: Trump beach chairs. Trump shoes. Trump lamp shades. All that shit. Doorknobs, dildos, drapes. Trump condoms that are actually morning-after pills.

As I type this, I realize that all that shit is out there already. I’m not going to think of a new place to sell Trump’s face to his idiot idolizers that hasn’t been exploited already. But that won’t stop me from trying.

Froot Loops! Now with more Trump!

4

The Bitcoin Plunge is not a Market Correction

It drives me batty to read respected people in national publications talk about the nosedive of Bitcoin and other crypto as a “market correction.”

A market correction happens when the price of a security or a general market of securities overruns any sort of historical baseline for value. When you talk about stocks, there are the simple metrics of how much money a company makes or the value of that company’s assets. There are metrics like that for real estate, municipal bonds, and even manufacturing.

A correction comes when the market realizes that the price has been bid up far past what the underlying value of the asset is. This happens fairly often: people buy stock based on what they expect the performance of the company to be. Sometimes people get excited.

When people say that crypto is no different than the stock market, they are either lying to you or to themselves. There is no P/E report on Bitcoin. No debt-to-asset report on Etherium. Because there is nothing there. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, supporting the value of those tokens.

The price is based on blind faith, sell-shaming, and billionaires spinning a story that ends with them having your money.

The tower is crumbling now; we have been on a roughly monthly cadence hearing about the failure of some sham company that banked everything on crypto always going up. The market plunges, then holds steady for a while, cryptobros in their executive suites sweating as the scam crumbles until they rush for the doors calling back over their shoulders “#HODL!” and another crypto company based on the “always-up” model craters, unable to even tolerate the market that is merely steady.

A true market correction would reduce Bitcoin to just a little bit over zero. I will grant the little bit because Bitcoin is just a little bit useful for things besides being a store of value. Oligarchs have to shift their cash, after all.

4

The Cult of Crypto

The price of Bitcoin is about 30% of what it was a few months ago. The other cryptocurrencies (note: they are not currencies) have been similarly battered. Crypto-based businesses are starting to fail. But if you read what the people still clinging to their vapor-money are saying, you will see #HODL, over and over again.

It is simply a typo for “hold”, that feels more insider-y. Like a secret handshake. The purpose of #HODL is simple: to prevent people from selling their crypto stakes. In itself, this could just be construed as financial advice. “This is a volatile asset, and if you panic you will lose.” And that’s good advice for all investors!

But #HODL and the community behind it use the phrase differently. Consider the company MicroStrategies. They have bought into Bitcoin in a big way, and are now using every resource they have to evangelize — to bring new, naïve money into the market. They know that the price of Bitcoin will only go up if they can convince more people to buy it.

Over the last couple of years, companies like MicroStrategies have succeeded in convincing the business press and the impatient segment of the investment population that Here be Riches.

Step 1: get the suckers to buy, to drive up the value of your holdings.

Step 2: prevent the suckers from selling even when it’s in their best interest to do so.

Consider kraken.com. They are a crypto exchange, meaning they make money when people sell or buy tokens through their service*. They recently declared, in the aftermath of the latest crypto price plunge (I’m paraphrasing): Bear markets weed out the weak. The strong will #HODL. We will also spend the money we take from you to lobby the government on behalf of our singular devotion to our mission, even if that means hurting others. And yay guns.” I cannot find articulated on their Web site what the mission is, but it must be important!

There is, from corporate communications right down to reddit, a culture of sell-shaming. The faithful shall come through adversity and inherit the wealth they deserve. Any so timid as to sell shall die in poverty and shame. This intimidation was necessary to keep the crypto bulge alive. In fact, the believers honestly thought that if they could keep people from selling, the price of their favorite crypto token would go up forever.

They believed, simply, that buying Bitcoin was buying into a sacred trust. That anyone who bought crypto was implicitly obligated to #HODL. For the common good.

But the buyers (I will not call them investors) those crypto-pushers needed to inflate the value of their coins diluted their cult. The new wave of buyers saw the historic rise of crypto, and didn’t understand their own role in causing it. But they weren’t part of #HODL; they bought at the worst time and sold at the worst time (until tomorrow), and broke the damn cult.

#HODL! #HODL! #HODL! the cultists cry as the crypto market spirals down. #HODL! These are the true believers, the ones who will #HODL into the ground, but I wonder how the ranks are holding up as airship Bitcoin plunges toward the 20,000 level after being at 69,000 a few months ago. How many people are crying #HODL as they strap on their own parachutes?

* One of the key features of cryptocurrencies is that theoretically there is no central authority. Yet almost everyone buys and sells their tokens through a trusted central exchange.

1

Facebook Project Canceled Due to Sadness (and Facebook)

For a few days I was posting regularly on Facebook. Each night, I would look at the Gun Violence Archive, and then post on Facebook:

Days since a well regulated Militia mass shooting in the United States: 0

El Paso, Texas
Phoenix, Arizona

The typography of “well regulated Militia” is to mirror exactly the way it is written in the Second Amendment. The cities are the places that had a mass shooting that day.

Had I posted a similar message yesterday, it would have listed seven cities. The day before, five.

The definition of “mass shooting” is one I’ve seen here and there: at least four victims, not counting the shooter. This includes those injured, not just killed. Their suffering in many cases is only starting.

There was actually a day when there was not one dang mass shooting in the whole country! Now there’s something to celebrate! It was a Monday. Today, also a Monday, no mass shootings have been recorded so far. Let’s hear it for Mondays!

I thought I might keep it up for a while, to maybe make the whole thing harder to ignore, to maybe open eyes to just how ordinary a mass shooting is in this country. I imagined myself making a difference by showing what the Second Amendment is actually accomplishing.

But I stopped, after only a few days. Tabulating the activities of well regulated Militias is not something to do at bedtime. Not if you want to sleep. Also, it meant I had to be on Facebook, which is unpleasant in it own right.

As a side note, the number of notifications I get when I visit Facebook has dropped dramatically. I wonder if a bunch of people unfriended me because of those posts. I hope so, but I don’t know how to figure that out.

twiliight

It seems the Twilight series is out on a new print run, with a new covers. The covers are striking and pretentious and silly, and I am here to mock them. You don’t have to thank me; it’s what I do.

I had not planned on going to the trouble to find an actual image of this thing, relying instead on my near-mystical abilities of description, but let’s face it, images get the clicks. Here’s the cover:

They did this on purpose

Full disclosure here; I have never read twiliight (apparently) and it’s pretty unlikely I ever will. I have read and enjoyed many things similar to this, even written for a similar demographic, but this whole thing seems pretty awful.

BUT! You will find millions of readers who disagree with me, and the last time I wrote something millions of people liked was never. So my hat is off to the writer of this yarn.

Who is that again?

STEPHENIE MEYER
AUTHOR OF THE #1 BESTSELLING TWILIGHT SAGA

In other words, “Author of the book you are holding in your hands right now.” Which… I figure is kind of implied already. If you decide to read twiliight because it’s written by the person who wrote Twilight— you know what? You’re perfect for this story.

4

Harden the Schools! (And Increase the Body Count)

Let’s spend gigantic dollars making it so every school in our country has only one way in or out, and let’s put people who aren’t actually cowards guarding that one door.

Where I went to fourth grade, it’s hard to imagine how one would even do that. I guess you could put up chain link and razor wire, so that the killer would have to buy both an AR-15, and another AR-15, and hundreds of rounds of ammo — and a bolt cutter! Terrorism deterred! And then I think of recess surrounded by chain link and razor wire.

The place I went to elementary school was not built for security. It was built in an irrational time when threats to society were handled as threats to society.

But for giggles let’s imagine if they could make a single point of entry at my old school. All those kids and parents hovering around that gate would be what the military calls a “target-rich theatre”. A golden opportunity. There is no amount of money you could spend to make schools safe in a world where some asshole can spray a crowd with bullets. Any crowd, anywhere. It might be your grocery store next.

The kickstand of the “well-regulated militia is everyone with gun” crowd is that these killers are a failure of the mental health system, and not an indictment of the industry that sells these people massively powerful tools of destruction. Yet, those same people will block any attempt to keep those same mentally-ill (by their own definition) people from owning guns.

The reason for this is actually pretty simple. Those mentally-ill kids are their children, and they’ve been fed the illness since before they could speak. Those kids slaughtering other children, that man spraying bullets around an Amazon warehouse, have one thing in common. They have unlimited access to extremely powerful weapons.

And while our gun pals would like to say this is a failure of the mental health system, this is exactly the system they prevent from ever being applied.

To get specific: if a kid comes into your gun store and arms up for a massacre, and you sell all that shit to him and also don’t maybe nudge the authorities — you sir, are guilty too, by the very logic of the NRA. Hang that arms dealer up for the buzzards to enjoy. Nothing is going to change until the people that sell these weapons are held accountable.

I’m not saying that all gun dealers are bad, but Jesus Fuck didn’t this dealer have the slightest impulse for social good? Was there not the least little warning sign flashing in the back of their head? Or is that gun salesman just a product of our time — cash the check and fuck the consequences?

And that guy is the true driver behind all this nonsense. That guy is making a lot of money off the second-amendment debate. His candidates and representatives are getting rich, too. Ultimately, there is a simple truth: there is big money in keeping America armed. If those same people could make money turning schools, hospitals, theaters, casinos, stadiums, bus terminals, taxi stands, restaurants, pharmacies, and sidewalks into “hardened” targets, then they will send out a few extra shooters to make sure we spend from fear.

Already we have that it was the school’s fault for not being ready for an armed assault. We have Ted Cruz saying it was a crazy person and simultaneously blocking any attempt to keep crazy people from having access to massively lethal weapons.

FUCK Ted Cruz. FUCK All the motherfuckers taking money from the NRA and bathing in the blood of their own constituents. FUCK the Democrats for not having the liver to face down these motherfuckers. FUCK the Democrats again for saying “vote for us and we will change this” when even when they have the fucking majority in every chamber they don’t change SHIT. FUCK especially Joe Manchin and his fucking fuckbuddy Mitch McConnel. FUCK the fucking filibuster, which used to require effort, but now even when you try to put it back to the way is was When America Was Great, all you get is diaper-shit hand-wringing. And, fuck the GOP especially.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the only time things get better is when people light things on fire.

4

People Should Listen to Me More Often

You can look at every major financial crash since tulip bulbs and find the underlying fiction that created paper wealth without any value behind it. Handshakes and winks and it’s fun while it lasts.

In April of 2021, I wrote that Bitcoin was a terrible solution to an interesting problem. It is called a cryptocurrency, but it does not match any previous definition of the word “currency”. As an investment it is, in fact, slightly below “bag of magic beans that aren’t actually magic”. At least with those you could make a nice soup. Soon after that episode, the price of a Bitcoin tumbled, then briefly rose to new dramatic heights in November of the same year, and has since steadily eroded.

It is late and rather than sleep I thought tonight I’d read about the latest crypto disaster. Roughly One Trillion Dollars vanished this week. Poof. Gone. Retirements destroyed, hedge funds cratered. Those investors should have listened to me.

Time magazine (wow has that brand been dragged into the dumpster) included this in an article about crypto volatility:

Given that crypto derives some of its value from people’s belief in it, markets can be rattled by surrounding skepticism or policy changes.

Time.com

So, close, yet so far. In fact, crypto derives all of its value from people’s belief in it. There is absolutely no other source of value. If you were to buy gold, and then suddenly everyone decided gold had no value, you could at least make something pretty out of it.

What drove this week’s meltdown is complicated on the surface, and simple in substance. There was a cryptocurrency that was, through elaborate mechanisms including game theory, always supposed to be worth a dollar. While my first question is “why would anyone buy that shit instead of just buying dollars,” apparently plenty of people thought that was a good idea.

So how do the people flogging this investment plan to control the value of the tokens they sell? Part of it is by holding investors hostage – people with a vested interest in maintaining this dollar parity will buy up other people’s tokens to maintain their value. But you can’t always rely on that, so these companies also keep reserves so they can maintain the price by buying up tokens when there is a bunch of people selling.

But… whoops! What if your reserves are in other crypto tokens? What if you need to sell all your Bitcoin ($1.7 billion worth, maybe), but Bitcoin is also falling because someone is trying to sell a shit-ton of it, and even when you’re done, it’s just not enough? Everything goes to shit, is what happens.

It’s a regular cycle. Someone finds a way to create an illusion of value where no value exists. Before crypto, it was weird real estate loan guarentee instruments that created an entire market unto themselves, and led to a near-collapse of our banking system in 2008. That was done by bankers who should have known better, and there were (for a little while) regulations in place to keep it from happening again. In 1929 it was shell companies that all owned each other but not any company that actually made a profit.

Crypto, on the other hand, is a much more egalitarian fraud. Anyone can play! Elon Musk used the power of his twitter account to rob countless less-wealthy people through Bitcoin price manipulation (he claims he was not being corrupt, just stupid – but both can be true).

One thing that none of the press I read tonight mentions – Bitcoin uses lots and lots of electricity. When the cost of power goes up, ultimately that has to effect the value of their tokens.

Universally the press has treated the crypto crater just like they would any other investment issue. Treating crypto with the same words they would use for something that has intrinsic value. That’s simply not right. None of them are saying “This is all fake! Get out while you still can!”

I could create a crypto tonight, call it “eco-coin” and vaguely suggest that we only accept electricity from windmills, or at least I’ve seen some pretty bitchin’ windmills, windmills are cool, so you should invest in eco-coin. If I could catch the ear of the Master Influencer at Credulous Weekly, eco-coin would be off to the races.

In terms of actual value, my new crypto would be worth exactly the same as Bitcoin: zero. I’ll finish this episode with the same words I used to start it: You can look at every major financial crash since tulip bulbs and find the underlying fiction that created paper wealth without any value behind it. Handshakes and winks and it’s fun while it lasts.

1

A Message I Wrote Tonight to Dev Davis, who Wants to be My Mayor, about Tough Love

Edit for context: Dev Davis wants more cops as part of her solution for homelessness – although saying that finding shelter for the homeless is a county problem.

This whole ‘tough love’ thing is based on some pretty shaky premises. Underneath it all, you are saying it’s a county problem, solved by county programs. Not your budget, and if the county falls short of helping these people then lets get some more cops to move them out.

Your assumption is that if the county safety net misses someone, they WANT TO BE HOMELESS. They want to live each day without running water, or shelter, a good meal, or even the protection of the police you want more of to protect US from THEM. They must not want access to health care. So your “love” is to kick them around until… what? What even is your ideal outcome?

The entire idea that withholding services from people who have NOTHING will make things better is laughable.

Go down to the river, Dev. Meet those people. Children, elderly, purple-heart vets. Tell them to their faces about your tough love.

1

Donald Trump Accepts the Presidency of Ukraine

First of all, I’d like to say — and you know who I’m talking to — that elections should always have tanks. They’re so cool! And Black Lives matters doesn’t drive tanks. And if you defund the police they won’t have tanks either.

But Ukraine is a place I know. I love Ukraine. I sent my best pal Rudy over to make sure the country was “secure”, and “paying me.” Ukraine loves me right back. So when they asked me to be their president I had to say yes. I couldn’t let them down, not after what they’ve been through the last few years, with the nazi president who is jewish and all.

All of Ukraine is thanking my best friend Vlad! And they should! Because he is a genius to think of invading a country saying it was a peace-keeping mission! It blew my mind what genius stuff that was! No one has ever done that before in the history of mankind! So then Vlad said, “You know what, Ukraine? You deserve the best president in the world. You deserve Donald J. Trump.” I was flattered, a little bit, but not too much, because I am the best president and I have never lost an election without tanks and I will make Ukraine special.

When Vlad asked me I wasn’t sure at first, because America needs me too, but the women here are completely hot. At my reception there was one woman and I thought looks like I’m getting divorced again but even better I think she won’t tell.

Also, while I’m the president of something, I can’t be tried for the countless instances of fraud I’m being investigated for.

When I was American President I knew all about that Ukraine place. My buddy Vlad explained it all to me. They stole Hillary’s emails, did you know that? Ukraine did that. Vlad said so himself. Despicable. Russia would never do something like that. Vlad told me, and he’s a genius.

But now I am president here and I promise this country, if it’s really is a country, will not be the Mexico of Russia. Because we all know what Mexico is like, and I’d never be president of something like that. There will be no taco stands in my Ukraine.

There are people who say I should not be president of Russia Ukraine who think this is bad but it can’t be bad because I will be president and I am almost a big a genius as Vlad. Some days I am! and Vlad says “Donald you are such a smart man” and I know it’s true because he is a genius.

I am a genius too, and now I will make everything better here in Ukraine. Somebody told me I tried to extort this country once, but I don’t remember anything like that, and if I did it was because of Crooked Hillary or that Vlad told me to. It is time now to:

MAKE UKRAINE GREAT AGAIN

2

A Reminder

These are gravestones for soldiers who fought for the United States of America. These are “the troops” that everyone is so eager to support. These soldiers lived through conditions that no modern US soldier has ever known. They were as likely to die in a friendly camp as during battle.

What were they fighting for? They fought and starved and marched and died to keep idiot hooligans from waving confederate battle flags in the halls of Congress. You are looking at the graves of soldiers of the United States Army who gave everything to preserve this nation, and anyone who glorifies the slavers whom they fought is a traitor as well.

Happy belated January 6th, my friends.

3

Mired

I occasion Discord, a chat-oriented social media platform that allows you to hang with people with whom you have some connection. I am part of three groups there, by far the most significant the Kansas Bunch — a very small community of writers anchored around some brilliant people in Lawrence, Kansas. They don’t actually know that we are the Kansas Bunch.

My membership in that group seems at times to be honorary; I celebrate the achievements of others while I struggle to restructure my novel once more. But I love those guys and I love hanging out with them.

But things got gnarly at work as they sometimes do (I am well-compensated for these times), and I posted a desperate message to my Kansas Pals saying “please give me an anchor at least once in a while.” Since I wrote that, I have not opened the Discord app on my laptop.

Actually I should say I’ve not successfully logged in. Maybe a month ago I tried to log in, failed, tried again on my phone, failed again, went through tech support, found where I had hidden my secret unlock-in-case-of-emergency keys, and then hesitated.

I still haven’t logged in.

When I do, there may or may not be answers to my plea from months ago. There may or may not be any messages at all. Probably there are friends of mine pushing forward as writers, working on great things. Things you may read someday. There’s no shortage of talent in the Kansas Bunch.

But I’m actually behind where I was when I last communicated with The Bunch. My project is less structured, more vapor than ever. I’ve been working the last few days to put some sort of parameters on the first book, with a tight focus on providing a great beginning, middle, and end, while accepting that this is just the first stone to hop to get across the river.

There’s a bunch of people on Discord who would love to help. But the last few weeks I’ve just been stuck. NaNoWriMo was awesome this year, but when it was over I just flopped and stopped writing entirely. I also stopped riding my bike. I just stopped pretty much everything except work.

None of this conforms to my idea of who I am. Well, that’s not true — I hold more than one idea of who I am in my head, and fat, lazy, slob is one of those images. I’m fitting that one pretty well.

So I guess I am who I imagine myself to be, just not the best version. I even know exactly what to do to break out of this quicksand. But part of the quicksand is sapping your will to escape.

13

My Chat With Aptera (updated a second time)

Update March 2022: I got a response from Aprera more than three months ago, and it is frankly as open and honest as you could hope a small company to be. It is on me that it has taken this long for me to publish it I have put it in a new episode just so it gets the attention it deserves.

Update November 18, 2021: I got a response after I sent the link to this article. The full response is below, but to summarize, it said “Dude, you’re asking the wrong people.” Hm. Fair enough. But I have some thoughts on that as well, which I have added to this episode.

Please note there is a second update at the foot of this episode, where all the efforts of Tom and Jess to do their jobs turned out to be futile.

For background, there is a company that is trying to introduce an ultra-light electric vehicle covered with solar panels. I am, without reservation, the exact profile of the financially-secure boomer-hippie driver they are catering to.

I have read all the words on their Web site. For 100 clams I can hold a place in line for the privilege of buying one of these things some time in the future. But not that distant of a future! they plan to start serious production in 2022. Or, at least they planned to. Do they still?

The thing is, we here at Muddled HQ already have more cars than we strictly need. Even before the plague, the times when both cars weren’t in the garage was vanishingly rare. So even if one of our cars is retired, the replacement is more likely to be a workbench than something with wheels. (Although I did see a sweet workbench that was on wheels, so you never really know.)

Here’s the split between me wanting to own something and me very much wanting that thing to exist. Rather than hand them $100 for a place in line, I could simply invest in the company. They make it easy (minimum investment $1000).

So here was a chance to help make this whole thing happen, without ending up with a vehicle I don’t need. I was excited enough to start reading the SEC filings about the offering. Those things require the company to list pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong, and all the ways the board of the company could legally dick you over later.

I’m not an expert on those filings, but the few I’ve perused have all been pretty scary. Investing in an under-capitalized car company is top of the scary heap, however.

But back to my motivation: I want cars like this to exist. If I can pitch in a bit of cash to increase the odds of success (or, prolong failure to improve the chances for the next attempt), I’m willing to consider it. So I kept reading, and eventually I contacted the company with some questions (some formatting lost to WordPress suckyness:

Congratulations on the full-media press release in The Washington Post! I found the coverage exciting but pretty dang credulous.

I am intrigued by this vehicle, and I think the world will be better when something like this is real. Should I ever buy another car, I’d like it to be one like this.

So I’m more of a crazy-eyed hippie investor than a sound financial decider of things. I try to put some of my money into companies that I think should succeed, while worrying less about whether they will. I don’t tell my investment professional about these.

Having said that, and having spent some time with the offering circular, one thing jumps out at me: The circular mentions targets for Q3 and Q4 2021. Perhaps there is an addendum to the circular I lacked the patience to uncover, but it seems like some measurable milestones have passed since that circular was drafted.

Specifically:

• Have the “Betas vehicles” been built?

• How is test validation going?

• Strangely, the Gamma body was due in Q3, and supply chain sorting-out for Q3 and Q4.

• Gamma production in Q4.

It goes on, but you get the idea. I get a feeling that one of the other lessons you learned from Tesla is an optimistic timeline. Falling behind on this schedule is not a blocker to my investing, but I do need to know that the executive level of the company is setting its own expectations realistically.

Also, I’ve seen it a dozen times now, where a startup electric vehicle company comes out with a planned price point and ultimately they just can’t hit it. You don’t need me to go down the list. How is that part of the plan holding up?

Potentially your friend,

Jerry Seeger

The third bullet point was mainly due to me misreading something in the circular, realizing my error, then botching the editing of the question. But those were my questions. Specific, lifted from their own filing, and ripe for the answering. In response, I got this from Jess (Aptera Motors’ Reg A Offering Support):

Hi Jerry,

Thank you for contacting Aptera Motors Investor Support.

Unfortunately, we can only answer questions related to the investment process.

For questions regarding the product, please contact [email protected] so the team can best assist you.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions regarding the offering or investment process & we will be happy to assist!

Best, 

Aptera Motors Investor Support

Huh. If you ask “did you hit your targets?” and the answer is “I can’t discuss that,” you’re not talking to a company that takes transparency with its investors as a core value. It starts to feel more like a company looking for money that doesn’t ask questions, and Wall Street is looking the other way so they’re turning to crowdfunding.

Which sucks. As much as I’d like to see a solar-electric vehicle, I’d also like to see a startup that embraces the true community feel of crowdfunding. But that means you have to treat all those little investors like they matter, like they’re part of something, and that means being ready to tell them the truth.

So I wrote this back:

I hate to be pushy, but I was asking for concrete information about the performance of Aptera and whether it was hitting its goals as a prelude to investing. Granted, that is not the “investment process”, but it is completely normal due diligence. The questions I asked were not product questions.

So I guess, yes, I do have “questions regarding the offering”. Those questions are listed in my original message. I am interested in investing, but I would be an idiot to invest in a startup based on months-old projections that have come and gone without any review.

I am just a small investor, and whether or not I buy in to your company will not make or break you. I get that. But you are courting the small investor, and honestly you should be more ready to answer questions from people who have read the SEC filings. Some of them might be bigger than me.

Jerry Seeger

You will not be surprised to learn that I have not heard back.

Edit to add: After I informed them of this episode, Tom (Aptera Motors’ Reg A Offering Support) sent a reply which just said in much clearer (to me) terms what Jess had said previously:

Hello Jerry, 

Aptera Investor Support has no comment on your blog post. 

Keep in mind we are agents working on behalf of Aptera therefore we don’t have the “insight” on the company you are looking for. You need to contact the Aptera Team directly for questions related to the product which was iterated by the past agent. 

Please let us know if you have any additional questions regarding the offering or investment process & we will be happy to assist!

Best,

Aptera Motors Investor Support

So the tenor of the response was more “we don’t know” than “we don’t want to discuss it”. To be honest, I may have taken the phrase “questions about the product” in the first response too literally – I have questions about the company.

Also I was kind of assuming that as agents working on behalf of Aptera on an investment offering, that questions about company performance would be anticipated and prepared for, and that a process would be in place to unite questions with the people who can answer them.

So it’s clear that Jess and Tom and any other agents working on behalf of Aptera are just doing what they can. But it would have been so much better if the response had been “we can’t answer, but we have forwarded your query to the people who can.” Aptera should anticipate questions like this, and therefore should have a resource allocated for handling them. Then it would be simple to instruct their agents where to redirect questions.

While my ire was certainly misdirected, there is still a gap in this whole process that demonstrates failure by Aptera to embrace the small investor. Still, I hope they succeed.

Another update: I sent a very dry and businesslike message to the address “iterated” by Jess. Just asking for who to talk to about performance against stated milestones. As of November 28, 2021, a full week after sending the inquiry, I have been met with stone cold silence. If I ever do get a response, I’ll add my full query and their full response.

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The Future of Plague

I came down with a cold yesterday, and used one of the COVID testing kits I have on my desk to make sure I wasn’t a threat to others. Yeah, that’s a thing now. And while they aren’t that common yet (I don’t think they are, anyway, but I could be wrong), it’s easy to imagine them becoming common as this whole pandemic thing drags on.

I write Science Fiction stories, but now is there any future that does not include tests like this as a part of everyday life? Will the kids born today ever know a time without ready tests for the latest plague?

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Get-Poor-Quick, Done Wrong

Or done right. It’s hard to tell.

Recently I read about a high-tech venture called Juicero. It failed. Big.

I haven’t contributed to the get-poor-quick category here at MR&HBI for quite some time, so if you’re not familiar with it, that’s OK. The conceit of this category is that I get an idea that seems good on the surface, and might actually be good, but that building a business on it would certainly lead to failure.

But all these years, I failed to recognize one simple fact: You can fail and still get rich. You just have to fail with someone else’s money.

Juicero: a high-tech device controlled from your phone, connected to the internet for some reason. After you paid a few hundred dollars for this machine, you could subscribe to a service to get sent bags of stuff. Fruit, specially-prepared veggies and whatnot, and you could put the bags into this high-tech machine and it would… squeeze them. And then you could drink juice.

Were I a venture capitalist listening to this pitch, the first axiom I would apply is “give them the razors, sell the blades.” But I am not a venture capitalist, and before long Juicero had attracted millions of dollars of VC money, presumably on the promise that Juicero would disrupt something. Because disrupting is sexy.

Eventually it came down that consumers realized they could just squeeze the packets with their bare hands, and the ridiculous WiFi-Internet-Bluetooth app-controlled machine could easily be replaced with an iron device with a lever. And the business cratered.

The venture capitalists expressed dismay, saying (I’m paraphrasing) “We expected the ridiculous ripoff to be less easily exposed.”

That is not the lesson I take away from this. See my razor/blade statement above. They thought they were selling squeezing machines, but they were selling juice packets. The high-tech device with needless configuration steps was not the product. Sell a cast-iron enameled device with a lever on the side. Sell a kitchenaid accessory. Shit, give them away. Sell the juice.

I have digressed from my original intent in this episode. I started by using Juicero as an example of failing but getting rich — I promise the techbros who invented Juicero managed to pocket plenty of the idiot investment money — and instead I turned to how to have succeeded at Juicero.

But there are literally a dozen ideas on this blog that eclipse Juicero. Some have, in the intervening years, been implemented to great profit for others. But even if the idea is a bad one, that doesn’t mean you can’t get rich from it. Just ask the folks at Juicero.

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