Talk about cascading consequences: when a few nerds wanted to get high and orchestrated a small exchange of cannabis, they kicked off the age of ecommerce. Now that online shopping and the technology supporting it have ramped up commercialization and supercharged consumerism, we’re facing existential crises. Exactly what nefarious internet innovation might lead Jason to unbox a trebuchet? Why would Asher consider having an Amazon truck deliver his kid to school? What’s the most efficient way for Rob to get his plastic packaging to the ocean so it can choke the most marine mammals? Get online, order a must-have product (perhaps that pair of fentanyl-laced blue jeans you’ve been eyeing), and take part in the end times of capitalism. Or consider canceling that Amazon Prime account, shutting off the computer for a spell, and getting busy prioritizing community over consumption. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website

Transcript

Jason Bradford

I’m Jason Bradford.

Asher Miller

I’m Asher Miller.

Rob Dietz

And I’m Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town where Amazon is having a two for one sale on scratch ‘n sniff rubber dog poop.

Melody Travers

This is producer Melody Travers. In this season of Crazy Town, Jason, Asher, and Rob are exploring the watershed moments in history that have led humanity into the cascading crises we face in the 21st century. Today’s episode is about online shopping and how it has put consumerism into hyperdrive while undermining communities. The watershed moment took place in 1972. At the time, the estimated carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 326 parts per million, and the global human population was 3.85 billion.

Asher Miller

Hey Rob and Jason, I’m not feeling to up for doing this recording day.

Jason Bradford

Whoa, what’s going on?

Asher Miller

I’m feeling stressed. You know, all this inflation stuff, it’s getting to me. I’m looking at the –

Rob Dietz

Your inflated ego or what?

Asher Miller

No, we’ve already hit the peak of that. No, just you know, worrying about the cost of everything. Stuff’s expensive. Worried about how to make ends meet. I was talking to my wife about that. So I was looking for ideas of how to just generate a little bit extra revenue. And I was thinking I still got, you know, one kid who’s still kind of relatively cute.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, one of them.

Asher Miller

Yeah, he’s younger.

Rob Dietz

They don’t they don’t listen to this, do they?

Asher Miller

Hopefully not.

Rob Dietz

Thank God.

Asher Miller

And I was just thinking, I don’t know if you guys have heard about these unboxing videos.

Jason Bradford

They’re great.

Asher Miller

So it’s just a way to make some money. I can put them on camera.

Jason Bradford

Oh, God.

Rob Dietz

So unboxing . . . Is this is the opposite of boxing? Like it’s not MMA.

Asher Miller

No, this is not like watching two people being peacefully together.

Rob Dietz

People not punching each other?

Asher Miller

You order some crap online, they probably give you money, you know, to hock their stuff. And then the kid opens it up, and they’re all excited.

Jason Bradford

I mean, you’re talking – this has got precedent. Like that kid, Ryan Kaji.

Asher Miller

Yeah, exactly. That’s why I was thinking about it.

Jason Bradford

I mean, you just need a fraction of his market, right? He started making money from ads on these unboxing videos. He now has 32 and a half million subscribers and has about 2,200 videos in his repertoire.

Asher Miller

Right. Yeah. I mean, I think a few years ago he made like 30 million bucks in one year. When he was eight years old. I’m not looking for that much necessarily.

Jason Bradford

No, no. You just want a little piece of that pie.

Asher Miller

Just a little bit.

Jason Bradford

Just a wedge.

Rob Dietz

Never have to worry about inflation again. You just inflate your bank account.

Jason Bradford

I mean, it’s quite a treasure trove there. My favorite are the videos where he’s collecting his own collectibles. He has a trademark line of toys and –

Asher Miller

Exactly.

Asher Miller

Yeah, that’s where a lot of his money comes from was actually. He’s licensing his name like Trump does basically.

Jason Bradford

Yes.

Rob Dietz

Collecting his own collectibles? That’s the circular economy at work.

Jason Bradford

It’s perfect. You know, he gets some from Target or Walmart and buys 100 of his own things to get. . . yeah.

Rob Dietz

Well in the quote/unquote “research” for this opening bit here, you showed me a video, Jason, called “Ryan goes camping with daddy pretend play.”

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Rob Dietz

And it shows them outside in a sort of plastic yellow tent on astroturf.

Asher Miller

That’s the best kind of camping.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, then he breaks out this plastic surprise cooler, and I say “surprise” because he’s got all these little drawers with extra plastic stuff. And they pull out a plastic box and rip the plastic off and it’s a plastic juice box.

Asher Miller

You know what? He would have been a great spokesperson for sugar bowl. I mean, you did a pretty good job, Jason, but I think he would have really sold it.

Rob Dietz

I can tell you who doesn’t do that good of a job is Ryan’s daddy and his acting — talk about plastic!

Asher Miller

You can make fun of the dude but he’s got a lot more money in the bank than you do.

Jason Bradford

He’s rolling on astroturf with a lot of greenbacks.

Rob Dietz

Okay, well, let’s take this accumulation of money and playing around on the Internet back a few years. I want to take you guys back 50 years ago. So this is way before Ryan’s time.

Asher Miller

This is back when I was wearing diapers maybe.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, this actually happened right around the time when I was born at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory or SAIL. for short. This is kind of a wonky place. As you might imagine you had computer scientists and students all working together at Stanford and creating this hacker culture, sort of anti-authoritarian. All the rooms are named after stuff from Lord of the Rings. You know, it’s about as nerdy as it can get. Well, so the thing that happened in this SAIL. place is basically the start of ecommerce or online shopping. So what these guys did, though, they arranged a purchase of marijuana with some students at MIT.

Jason Bradford

Across the country? How do they ship it? That’s dangerous.

Rob Dietz

I don’t know. But to me it’s awesome that basically the original incidence of ecommerce was a drug deal.

Jason Bradford

That is good.

Asher Miller

That’s the origin of the dark web right there.

Jason Bradford

Right. Well, okay. But how do you get this to the masses? Well, in 1984 everyone had color TV, right? And the remote control had been really perfected by then. Because I remember when I was a kid –

Asher Miller

You were the remote control.

Jason Bradford

I was the remote control. I would get beer.

Asher Miller

That’s why people had kids.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I would go get beer and I would change the channel. That was my relationship with my father.

Rob Dietz

You should not have been drinking beer at the age of six.

Jason Bradford

No, no, no. We watched ballgames, okay? I thought that was the greatest thing. Grabbed beer, changed the channel. I was so happy.

Asher Miller

You were so helpful.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, it was helpful. I had something to do. Anyhow, by 1984 I’m out of work on that because they’ve got remotes and everything.

Rob Dietz

Automation. This episode should maybe be about that instead of online shopping,

Jason Bradford

Right. But there’s a 72 year old grandmother in the United Kingdom named Jane Snowball. Great name.

Asher Miller

Snowball? She started the snowball of Ecommerce. Is that what you’re saying?

Jason Bradford

Well, there was a device called the Video Tex. T-E-X. And she could order groceries through her telephone, sorry, her television by pointing the remote at it and selecting on the system. So that’s pretty cool. She ordered margarine, eggs and cornflakes from her local grocery store.

Asher Miller

Wow. Yeah, that’s really cool. You know, they still have that in Europe as far as I know. They still have this system on your television where you could get like news, weather, whatever it is. I mean, I don’t know if anyone bothers using it anymore. But that functionality, I think, still exists.

Jason Bradford

Broadcast television?

Rob Dietz

Can we just talk for a sec about how innocent that was, too? Because I had read that it was the local town council that wanted to help elderly people, who are kind of stuck at home, be able to get the things they need.

Asher Miller

That’s still the spirit of online shopping. It’s embedded in the DNA of online shopping. Well, let’s fast forward another 10 years. Going from 1984 to 1994. You know, the internet is really just, I would say, starting to take off.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, early browsers now.

Asher Miller

Yeah, you got Netscape. Nobody knows, actually, maybe some of our listeners will know this stuff. Because they’re our age maybe. Yeah, yeah. So you know, you had Netscape. You had people doing some stuff on the on the internet. There’s a guy named Dan Cohn from New Hampshire and he sold a copy of a CD of his. I guess he was done doing the tantric sex thing and he didn’t need to listen to it. So he’s like, I’m gonna sell this. And he sold it to a friend of his, a guy named Phil Brandenburger, who lived in Philadelphia via this new website he started called, Net Market. Okay, his friend paid him I don’t know, like, a dozen bucks for the CD and shipping. And he sent his credit card number securely over the internet, which was a big part of this, right? Using good encryption software. And that event was covered actually, in the New York Times. The article was called, “Attention Shoppers: Internet is Open. And according Louis, it was the availability of that security that allowed Ecommerce, these transactions, to really happen. Which makes a lot of sense, right? You don’t want to give your credit card information online and God knows what happens.

Rob Dietz

Right.

Asher Miller

Suddenly you’re buying all of Ryan’s outdoor camping supplies.

Jason Bradford

Useless. Do not go outdoors camping with any of Ryan’s gear for crying out loud. Can’t buy worse stuff.

Rob Dietz

Can’t we just go camping?

Jason Bradford

I mean he’s in a backyard on astroturf.

Asher Miller

You guys don’t get this. He couldn’t do that because he had to make another 17 videos that day. He can’t go off on a trip. This kid’s got to work!

Rob Dietz

Yeah, you’ve got to be within WiFi range so you can put stuff online. Okay, so we’ve gone from the watershed moment in 1971 to 1984 to 1994. I think it’s one year later that’s kind of a banner year in the growth of online shopping. So in 1995, that’s when you get the founding of Amazon and eBay to have our cornerstone.

Asher Miller

That’s secondary to the fact that I met my wife in 1995. And Jerry Garcia, the late great Jerry Garcia.

Jason Bradford

Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.

Asher Miller

You just heard that for the first time?

Jason Bradford

No, I knew he was dead. I didn’t remember the year.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Okay. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Asher Miller

So it’s not all about me? What are you talking about?

Rob Dietz

Yeah. So of course, over time, this whole new industry has grown by leaps and bounds, I was able to find some stats that looked at the growth of online shopping from 2014 through to what it’s expected to be this year and 2022. So in 2014, there was a $1.3 trillion of business done through online shopping, but it’s been rising at an average of 20% a year since then. So talking about exponential growth, what’s the doubling time on that, Jason?

Jason Bradford

Oh. 3 and a half years.

Asher Miller

3 weeks.

Rob Dietz

Tomorrow? Yeah, like three and a half years, right? Yeah, it’s crazy. So it’s supposed to be five and a half trillion this year. And then worldwide, you’ve got over 2 billion online shoppers.

Jason Bradford

Well there’s almost 8 billion people. So there’s a growth potential.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, you could get three quarters more of the population buying shit online.

Asher Miller

So we’re talking in less than 30 years, basically, this just explosion?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I think one of the stats that I looked up that I think at least gives you a marker for the growth would be the stock price of amazon.com. So if you were back in 1997, I think that was the year they went public. You could have bought a share of Amazon stock for a $1.50.

Jason Bradford

I know, I should have bought 1000 shares, shouldn’t I?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, or even 10 for crying out loud. Because in 2021, it made it all the way up to $3,700 per share.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, but if I bought 1000 shares, then I’d have 3.7 million.

Rob Dietz

Well, you have more than that, because that stock split at several points in its history.

Jason Bradford

I could have done this if I had known. I didn’t buy Apple stock either.

Asher Miller

By the time this comes out, I don’t know where the stock’s gonna be. But it hasn’t been doing that well recently.

Jason Bradford

Alright. Well, you know, this show is a little hard for me to do because I feel complicit.

Asher Miller

We are complicit.

Jason Bradford

Yes, I’m the voice of Alexa.

Asher Miller

You are? You don’t need to do unboxing videos, you must have made a bunch of cash.

Jason Bradford

Oh my God, it’s incredible.

Asher Miller

You don’t sound quite like-

Jason Bradford

They use filters.

Rob Dietz

Anyway, look, all these stats and all this growth. That’s fine. We can document that. But I think the interesting thing is to figure out what are the things to share? You talked about the ability to have an online transaction with a credit card secure. Let’s delve into these a bit. Like what are the things that you need in order for this online shopping?

Jason Bradford

I can tell you what my favorite part is. This is the complicit part – It’s the comparison shopping options. Where you like — I did buy binoculars recently, okay. I’m admitting this was complicency. Complicency?

Rob Dietz

Complicicissitude.

Jason Bradford

Okay. Thank you. Okay. All right. So it was so compliciousnous for me that I I found some binoculars that were the right specs. And then it was like a compare button. And it pulled out other binoculars of similar specs. And I could see the different prices, availability features. That was sweet.

Asher Miller

Yeah, that was – I mean, look, you could comparison shop before that.

Rob Dietz

I remember as a kid, my mom driving us around all over Atlanta. Like, seriously, we’d drive 50 miles so we could save 18 cents on a pack of balloons for a birthday party.

Asher Miller

Is your family like Dutch lineage or something? This is a thing that the Dutch are actually known for and sort of laugh at themselves about if there’s a sale somewhere across the country people get on the train to go get it.

Jason Bradford

Well, I think this got started, this comparison shopping, in 1995. So pretty quickly, they’re on it, right?

Rob Dietz

That’s that banner year.

Jason Bradford

And so, one of the early ones was called Bargain Finder. You could shop for music CDs, and it would go find all the music stores that had these and then you’d have to go to that store independently though. So they were just kind of assembling where. Now, of course you just hit a button and. . . .

Rob Dietz

Yeah, but that’s the big tech innovation there, right? It’s that we’re gonna go out, look for you know, the different stores that can sell it in one website. You don’t have to do that. It’s called the shop bot.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, shop bot. So there was like a bunch of these out – Killer App. Price Watch, My Simon.

Asher Miller

These are all names I was thinking about naming my son, but yeah.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, yeah. Well, I want to get back to another piece of infrastructure technology that you’ve already hinted at, Asher, and I mentioned, again, is the security of online finance. And what I want to do here is bring up a regular character in Crazy Town, our good buddy, Elon Musk. Everybody knows that he made his money from Tesla and SpaceX, right? No, wrong. He made his money in this area that we’re talking about, among other things, too. But he was a founder of kind of an online banking company called x.com. Now, at the same time –

Asher Miller

He likes the letter X.

Rob Dietz

He does. Like Gen X, SpaceX. X.com. He likes X rated movies.

Asher Miller

We’re gonna get sued

Jason Bradford

Stop. He’s worth too much money to fool with him too much. Geez.

Asher Miller

I’m gonna get banned from Twitter now.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, there goes my two Twitter followers.

Jason Bradford

He’s a remarkable human being with a great heart.

Asher Miller

Hey Melody, can we edit that part out?

Rob Dietz

So while he founded that company, another good Crazy Town villain guy, by the name of Peter Thiel founded a company called Confinity. And what ended up happening in the year 2000: Confinity and X.com merged and became PayPal.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, they’re still around. They’re so big.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Elon Musk became the CEO of PayPal, and then they ended up selling the company to eBay in 2002, for $1.5 billion. So you know, you think about Musk and Tesla – nah, it’s really PayPal.

Asher Miller

Alright, I gotta share some things about Peter Thiel for a second. One thing is I’m gonna give the guy a compliment. Okay, so at the time, when they sold to eBay, they were gonna go public instead. So they were gonna have an IPO, and their valuation was going to be much higher basically, than I think they wanted up getting from eBay for being sold. But Thiel was prescient and saw the .com bust coming. And this was sort of the first iteration of a boom and bust cycle in the internet.

Jason Bradford

I think it was busting by 2002.

Asher Miller

This is probably when it was closed. This date that Rob shared. And he had to fight with the other folks in the company to convince them, we’ve gotta take this money.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Everybody wants an IPO. Right?

Asher Miller

But think about that, if they hadn’t done that, and they had gone public, and then their shares cratered. I mean, would we have Elon Musk?

Jason Bradford

All the wonderful things we have now.

Rob Dietz

No, we would have a utopian society that was sustainable and equitable.

Asher Miller

The other thing I wanted to say about Peter Thiel is I’ve actually spent some time with the guy a few times.

Rob Dietz

Oh, did you do backyard camping on some astroturf?

Asher Miller

Yes, that’s exactly what I did. No, I’ve actually had dinner at his house and met him at his office.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, Jason, so what do you think of our friend here consorting with billionaires

Asher Miller

Coming clean, PCI has actually gotten funding from Thiel, we got a grant from him once, And the reason is, and this is why this guy, to me, is a very fascinating character, who I am not a fan of, is that he was very peak oil. Not even aware, I would say incredibly knowledgeable. And in fact, his investment strategy, at least as he communicated it, his whole sort of worldview was really built around understanding the role that energy played in societies. Got to know him because his right hand guy was somebody who was really into this. And he was actually working on a book looking at World War I and the role that peak coal played in that for the UK.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, so just go down the authoritarian track.

Asher Miller

Well, that was how the connection was made. And he actually gave us some funding to support our work with David Hughes on looking at fracking production. So, sometimes strange bedfellows.

Rob Dietz

I know that he stopped giving us funding because you refuse to let him sell us to eBay.

Asher Miller

That’s the reason.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Well, the other thing that I look for, okay, when I’m daily doing my online shopping is customer reviews and ratings. And this is a big deal, right? We’re looking for those four and a half to five star products and services, aren’t we?

Asher Miller

This is why we have so many listeners to our podcast. People are looking at the ratings.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, we’re asking people to do this. We’re complicit is what I’m saying. We’re complicit.

Rob Dietz

Well, and you don’t really think of this as a technology, but it really is. Like 1999, prior to that, basically this wasn’t a thing. There were Siskel and Ebert movie reviews, right? They would give you four stars on your movie, but . . .

Jason Bradford

But to have public, like the actual verified user kind of thing.

Asher Miller

Or even before it’s verified users, right? It’s actually interesting, because you’re talking about movie reviews. That’s like going to somebody who maybe went to film school and studied film, and you’re like, “Oh, this is an expert opinion. I’m gonna listen to their opinion.” And now it’s like basically 10,000 yahoos who are as dumb as you are saying, “I like this.”

Jason Bradford

“I love the American Pie videos. They’re fantastic. They’re the greatest thing I’ve seen since I was in high school.”

Rob Dietz

So the wild thing to me is that the companies that did this, like a famous one at the time was called Epinions.

Jason Bradford

That’s a great name.

Rob Dietz

It’s a terrible name.

Jason Bradford

It’s a great name. Epinions. It’s fantastic.

Rob Dietz

You know, they didn’t buy or sell process anything. They didn’t do anything other than collect people’s ideas about products. And then if they could convince someone to click a button and go buy something, they’d get a little commission from the company whose website you went to.

Asher Miller

Rob, you gotta tell me the name of the character again.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Lloyd Dobler.

Asher Miller

Thank you. You knew exactly what I was thinking. I don’t want to work anywhere where I have to buy anything or sell anything…

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I had a whole Lloyd Dobler theory in a previous episode.

Jason Bradford

Well, I mean, one of the dominant ones now is Yelp. And that’s interesting because it about services, not just products, right. So actually there was a guy who was trying to find a local doctor, the guy who started Yelp.

Asher Miller

Is that why it’s called Yelp?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, right? Anyway, so he created a website.

Rob Dietz

We’ve got sound effects in this podcast.

Jason Bradford

And now of course, Amazon does this, Google does this, Facebook does this, TripAdvisor does this.

Asher Miller

So look, I’ll be honest. That’s what I look for. I go right to the reviews and the ratings. I mean, it’s an absolutely huge factor. And when I go to an actual local grocery store, I’m like, lost. I’m like who’s here to tell me which of these to buy?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, right. Which potato chip?

Asher Miller

I’m just grabbing people like, which one do you think?

Jason Bradford

Right. Opinion polling the store.

Asher Miller

And with COVID, it’s not working very well.

Rob Dietz

Man, this stuff just gets more and more nefarious as you look at different technology. So adding on to the ratings and reviews, you’ve also got the development in 1999 of the wish list.

Jason Bradford

That’s my favorite.

Rob Dietz

So this works like a wedding registry, where you make a list of what you want. And then that’s apparently telling your friends and family the actual things to buy for you, which seems a little bit forward.

Asher Miller

It’s the only reason I got married was I wanted to have a wish list.

Jason Bradford

Bed Bath and Beyond?

Asher Miller

Pottery Barn.

Rob Dietz

Crate and Barrel was actually an early purveyor of this technology. But what’s really insidious is that you are directly telling the retailer what products you’re interested in. So of course, that opens you up to this barrage of targeted advertising. But even worse is that you are giving these companies useful data about you and your preferences. Our researcher extraordinaire, Alana, she found this article on this terribly named website called Big Commerce that offers tips to Ecommerce providers once you’ve submitted a wish list. So Jason, let’s say you make a wish list. It’s got binoculars on it. It’s got a plastic hidden drawer cooler and a set of astroturf for your front yard.

Jason Bradford

Sure.

Rob Dietz

Now, this Big Commerce is telling ecommerce sites how to hook you, right? Because that’s on a wish list, but I haven’t bought it yet. So they say to do stuff like, send Jason a price drop alert. Or, let’s create urgency by telling him, “Oh, our astroturf supply is running low. Hurry up.” Right? Oh, it’s just horrendous.

Asher Miller

Yeah, I think it’s worth talking about some of the infrastructure that makes all this possible. I mean-

Jason Bradford

Electricity?

Asher Miller

Well, sure.

Rob Dietz

The human brain?

Asher Miller

A lot of this stuff really is about big data and being able to collect data on people in the case of ratings and reviews. And we didn’t really talk about the whole thing around, “people like you like this shit.” You know what I mean?  Which I think was a really, really instrumental and influential thing. You know, you go on Amazon, and you see what other people like have bought?

Rob Dietz

Oh yeah. We’re gonna get to that. That’s a huge one.

Asher Miller

A lot of that just has to do with the ability to collect all this data. But there’s other infrastructure I think that’s worth really talking about. And I’m a little bit familiar with some of this stuff, just because my dad who worked at Intel for a long time, and was sort of very involved in Intel’s growth strategy stuff. He helped start their venture capital fund.

Jason Bradford

They’re like a computer chip company, not like the NSA?

Asher Miller

Right.

Jason Bradford

Okay.

Asher Miller

Yes.

Jason Bradford

Just making sure

Asher Miller

Computer chip company.

Rob Dietz

It’s probably doing both really.

Asher Miller

I mean, part of his job was trying to actually stoke demand so that people would buy – because because Intel was putting out computer chips that are twice as fast every two years.  So you need to get people to have a need for that faster computation. So it’s about basically creating more demand for it, but also creating the infrastructure that support people to be on their computers.

Rob Dietz

So basically, what you’re trying to say is that-

Asher Miller

I blame my dad.

Rob Dietz

– the porn industry moving online probably created the demand for faster computers.

Asher Miller

Well, actually. . . Well, I think the porn industry has been innovative in a lot of areas around the internet. I mean, I think that’s no joke. But a big thing was actually just being able to go from dial up modems in the home to higher speed cable internet. And it was a big deal. Because do you remember, the very beginning of the internet, you got your first email account or whatever? Maybe you are, at our age, you’re at a university or something like that. Or for most people, they were working at a job and they got an email account at their job. And computers are actually at work. And some of those people would stay late.

Jason Bradford

I can’t remember when I finally had it at home. Because I was at the university or at the research institute. And you got this fast T1 connection, or whatever.

Asher Miller

So that was the thing. That infrastructure existed for you to get faster speed and connectivity at a large institution or whatever, company, university. People would actually stay late at work to whatever nascent form of online shopping there was. Reading stuff or whatever. It wasn’t until you went from dial up to DSL stuff that people could really do a lot of entertainment at home on their own personal computer. And it’s like, if that didn’t exist, we talked about this a lot with the Marvin Harris cultural materialism stuff, if that infrastructure didn’t exist, none of this other stuff would.

Jason Bradford

And it seems like that was early 2000s where the transition happened to be a lot of home availability.

Asher Miller

It was in the 90s really. But we don’t see this behind the scenes. But there’s a lot of stuff that happens. There was a big push to actually make televisions you talked about this earlier, Jason, to do online stuff on your TV. That was where most companies thought things were gonna go. It took a long time for them to realize it should be the personal computer. And then of course, mobile devices.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point, Asher. And there’s plenty of other infrastructure and technology that came along that supports this whole culture of online shopping you’ve got. I mean, how you’ve got stuff like warehousing. Then you’ve got the delivery companies. FedEx is incredible, right? FedEx was kind of a new company when we were kids. Now, you’ve got to Amazon competing with them for delivery. You have all this just in time shipping and the trucks being warehouses on wheels that Walmart does. You got other online consumption stuff, like the higher speed stuff has allowed for streaming video. You know, think about how much consumption of online video is done, especially in the pandemic years.

Jason Bradford

I mean, I’m just addicted to the unboxing stuff, right? That’s a discovery. It’s amazing,

Asher Miller

Wait until the metaverse, buddy. Unboxing in the metaverse. Wow.

Rob Dietz

One of the things that’s really noticeable is all of these technologies and all this infrastructure: if you’re gonna say one company embodies it, it’s got to be Amazon. I mean, they sort of can do all of it. They’re in all aspects of it. And we’re gonna hit on it.

Asher Miller

Thank God. Because it just makes it so much easier that way. I really appreciate it. Well, we should talk about why this even is a watershed. Why did we pick this as a watershed moment topic?

Jason Bradford

The marijuana sale across country?

Asher Miller

Yeah, that moment. Why was that so pivotal in the long arc of the survival of Crazy Town?

Rob Dietz

It’s because people started smoking so much they got hungry. The snack food industry went crazy.

Asher Miller

That was it.

Rob Dietz

Done.

Asher Miller

Story over. No. I mean, obviously, a big part of this has to do with modern capitalism, late stage sort of capitalism, consumerist, society, a consumerist economy, and how much that that online shopping has served to just ramp that way up. And you think about the ability for online shopping to in a sense, just take away all of the obstacles from being a consumer.

Jason Bradford

I do not like getting in my car, driving someplace and going into a store. I honestly don’t like it right now.

Asher Miller

Some of it is just ease. Some of it is actually just the manipulation. We talked about this with our advertising episode that we did. Just the ability to manipulate and understand the psychology of the human mind. But you couple that with  all the technology and then sort of the ease of use. You add these wish lists in, make it really easy for people like just to save their credit card information. It’s just a one click thing.

Rob Dietz

Oh, you don’t even have to click, right? You could just tell it.

Asher Miller

Just blink. Exactly. You could tell it now. Then they did things like, this stuff is so, it seems on the surface of it like, “Oh, we just care about the consumer. We’re just trying to make it easier for the consumer.” All the benefits you get for this is just so fucking nefarious.

Rob Dietz

There you go. I was waiting for you to drop your first F-bomb. You were so close and then. . .

Asher Miller

Was that the first one? Here’s the F-bomb. Free, right? So like free shipping, free returns, you know. Just again, removing all these barriers in life baby. We just make your experience so much easier, but really what it means is that you’re just gonna buy more shit. If you spend 50 bucks you’ll get free shipping, or if you get Amazon prime – Here I am marketing for them. They should pay us. Then, you know, you never have to pay for shipping.

Rob Dietz

Except I bet you the average Amazon Prime subscriber would pay a lot less than that subscription fee in their actual shipping fees if they just didn’t have prime. So screw you Bezos and Amazon.

Jason Bradford

Well, then Alexa is my favorite. You got a story about Alexa accidentally that made people buy stuff? What was that again?

Asher Miller

Yeah, I think maybe mentioned it on the podcast.

Jason Bradford

It’s worth saying again. It’s so good.

Asher Miller

Well, so there was this story of this girl who ordered like a dollhouse on Alexa. Right? Because  you know, Alexa fucking listens to you all the time. And she’s like, “Alexa, I want a Dollhouse.” This is exactly what she sounds like, I’m sure. And then a couple days later, all of a sudden, boom, this like $150 dollhouse shows up. I don’t know if that’s exactly how much it cost. And I think a local news station heard the story. And they’re like, “Oh, that’s a funny story.” So they went and visited the family and the quote-unquote journalist, the local media person was like talking interviewing the family and she kind of recreates the scene of, “Alexa, order this.” And all these people watching the local news with their own Alexas. Here, this woman talking through their television set, “Alexa order this,” and their Alexas order that product.

Jason Bradford

I love it. Genius

Asher Miller

It’s beautiful.

Jason Bradford

It’s the best.

Rob Dietz

Go back to our episode on positive feedback loops.

Asher Miller

It’s a quintessential modern-

Jason Bradford

We should repeat the story every season at least once.

Rob Dietz

So yeah, the whole idea of ramping up consumerism and modern capitalism that goes with the growth of online shopping is big. But I want to get on to another topic that you alluded to a little bit before, Asher. And that’s this whole, what I think of as, abuse of our personal data. So with online shopping, came this technology of recommendation engines and suggestion algorithms. You can go back again to Amazon, and in 1998, they came up with this idea for a book matcher where it would, based on what you browse and purchase, they can recommend books. And that thing morphed into something called instant recommendations, which of course went to all products. And the programmer who helped build this is a guy named Greg Lind. And it was really innocent at first, as it always is, right? He said something like, “We enjoyed helping people discover books that they probably wouldn’t have found.” And it was not about marketing. We just wanted people to find books they would love. Nice. But then he’s like, “Yeah, but it turns out that people do buy more when you help them find things that they like.”

Jason Bradford

Oh, totally. I ordered a simple, simple order. A broadsword and chainmail. And the next thing I know, I’m just down this rabbit hole and a trebuchet is showing up at the house. Oh my god. Kristin was upset.

Asher Miller

Was she? How many trucks did it take to deliver that?

Jason Bradford

Oh , it was just one flatbed. But I mean, a trebuchet. I had to admit it was a little over the top. Yeah, but unboxing that was fun as hell.

Asher Miller

There must have been quite a bit of plastic packaging that came with that.

Jason Bradford

Oh, no, no cardboard and straw.

Rob Dietz

So I’m gonna I’m gonna bring us back in again, just for a moment. Get off the trebuchet arc here. What’s crazy about this stuff, though, is the high technology that’s behind it. It’s not just like, okay, Jason, you ordered a broadsword, therefore you want a trebuchet. It’s more like, what did that guy who shares some personality traits with Jason order? You know, it compiles all this stuff.

Jason Bradford

A long bow.

Rob Dietz

You know, you’ve got things like collaborative filers, and fuzzy logic and real time engines behind all this. And suddenly, yeah, you’ve just got this thing that’s telling you what you need to buy and hitting you with it all the time.

Asher Miller

Well, and I mean, they’re pretty accurate. Yeah, Netflix uses this. They use it for like movie recommendations. And if it wasn’t accurate, it wouldn’t work. You know, it’s really what makes it accurate. The fact that they’re collecting all this data about all these people, and they could splice us up to all these little parts and mash them together and say, You’re like this person.”

Rob Dietz

You know what’s really sad though is that I’m now being sold products and advertised based on our Crazy Town season. I am not kidding. Because it’s what I’ve searched often. It’s what I’ve talked about. Like my latest one is I’m getting ads for some outfits that want to buy used refrigerants. They want to get my freon if I have any I guess so they can burn some more holes in the ozone.

Asher Miller

You getting Joel Osteen ads?

Rob Dietz

I still get some Joel Osteen inspiration cube things.

Jason Bradford

I got some great cheap tickets to the World’s Fair in Dubai. Well, you know, this frequently bought together thing can backfire. Because these are stupid AIs really. They’re just sort of following, like some sort of algorithm. And so this team of investigators for a British television station found that Amazon’s frequently bought together suggestions prompted customers to purchase a combination of items that can make a bomb.

Rob Dietz

Great. Yeah, yeah, that’s dandy.

Asher Miller

I gotta say, just as a little aside. Obviously, they developed this technology in order to get people to buy shit, but it’s also that same technology and that same approach has been applied on social media, for example. And there’s a dark side to that, too. I mean, there’s all these stories of when Facebook kind of changed their algorithm to really promote groups. They’re really trying to get people to join groups online on Facebook. And what they did was, and there’s an amazing story in New York Times with this woman who became a huge actually sort of pseudo celebrity in the QAnon space, who actually was a woman who was like an anti-GMO activist. She was really concerned about industrial ag and pollution, these kinds of things. And when Facebook was making this big push, they’re like, you might like this group, which was a QAnon group. Because she was outside of the norm right there. Like, she must like this shit, too. Right? She believes in the conspiracy theory that, you know, industrial ag is bad. Therefore, let’s give her this conspiracy theory.

Jason Bradford

Adrenachrome.

Rob Dietz

Well, we’re working outside the norm, too. Does that mean next season we’re going to be promoting QAnon shit?

Jason Bradford

We’re already doing – Come on. It’s in development. Don’t spoil it.

Asher Miller

Alright, well, I want to talk about the thing that really gets me pissed, or one of the things that really gets me pissed, and I’m just gonna focus on Amazon again on this one, okay. It’s the whole impact of online shopping and big buck stores as well on main street, on local economies, local communities. There’s been great work being done on this. I highly recommend people check out the work of Stacy Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self Reliance, for example. Michael Shuman and others who have done a lot of work looking at the impact of big box stores, large corporations. And online, Stacy has done a lot of work on Amazon, looking at the economic impacts on local communities, tax revenue to you know, local businesses being shut down. So I don’t want to even necessarily get into that. I just want to talk about the fact that Amazon took years and years to become profitable. They started in 1995. It wasn’t until the end of 2001 that they recorded their very first quarterly profit, right? And that was like a measly 5 million bucks in that six year period, or whatever it was. They lost $3 billion, right? They made $5 million in one quarter. It took them a while to actually become truly profitable.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, they hadn’t had a net return.

Asher Miller

And how did they do all that? They did that by basically undercutting. I mean, they undercut local booksellers first, they sort of cornered that market. Jeff Bezos started selling books out of his fucking garage, or whatever his origin story is. And then they slowly went in, they started basically attacking all these other industries or these retail areas. And they would be happy to lose money, they still lose money on a lot of things, right? Because their loss leaders for them, they lose money on this one thing, but they capture an audience, they capture a market, and then they can ratchet up the costs. And that’s what they did with bookselling. You know, that’s what they’ve done with a whole bunch of things. And the only way that they could do that was they basically had the asset class, the moneyed class. Whether it was venture capital, or when they went public, people who were invested can invest in the stock market, who could sort of ride this out. They didn’t need an immediate dividend on this investment. They could lose money on this for a while because they had plenty of money to begin with. So they could just put out mom and pop businesses, basically, undo the fabric of local economies.  And it was only because it was, in a sense, the rich getting richer. And that shit just, I guess it just drives me absolutely mad. And it led, not only to kind of the evisceration of local economies on some level, it led to the further outsourcing of labor and production of things and more cheap crap being made in other parts of the world and shipping it from far away and all that stuff.

Rob Dietz

Well, I think we should keep this thread going and see if we can make you really lose your shit, Asher. Because you’re talking about the rich getting richer? Well, this whole rise of online shopping also really helped with the rise of oligarchs. It’s the billionaires and the inequality. You know, you talked about Jeff Bezos and how he managed to get the billions that he’s got. We’ve also already mentioned Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. There are others to call in: Jing Huang, Jack Ma, Wang Jing, you know, all these guys that have, I mean, let’s be honest, as predators sucked away all of this money that they could never spend in dozens of lifetimes.

Jason Bradford

You just mentioned a bunch of folks I think were probably from China, which, of course, has Alibaba.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, Pinduoduo, Matewan, Dean Ping, JD. Yeah, there’s all these companies –

Jason Bradford

That I’ve never heard of.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, but they’re like the Amazons of China.

Asher Miller

But yeah, I think there’s a little subtlety there that we need to look at. I think some people would argue, look, these guys created new industries, they created a lot of jobs. I mean, Amazon is one of the biggest employers in the country in the United States. They’ve provided all these benefits to consumers by lowering prices, you know. These are the sort of pro-arguments for what these guys have done. Of course, when you look at the world through our lens, you see, well, that’s eviscerated the fabric of local communities of resilience of not only local communities, but our nation. Look at all the outsourcing.

Jason Bradford

Oh, the political disruption it’s causing.

Asher Miller

And the supply chain breakdowns, issues that we’ve had. These have all kind of resulted from all this stuff, and not to mention all the environmental consequences, the issues in terms of labor practices, and all that stuff. So you can call it a net positive, some people might. I think we would probably not see it that way.

Jason Bradford

And the pandemic, basically fed into all this too. So you have this infrastructure in place so you don’t have to go out your door. And anything you could possibly desire just shows up in a package. And consumers now spend an average, this is American consumers, I believe, $6.7 billion online each month for groceries, which is up from the $3.1 billion they spent pre-pandemic.

Rob Dietz

Yeah well, back in 2019, I remember spending only $2.8 billion on my grocery bill. And now, it’s almost seven. Ridiculous.

Asher Miller

But that’s just groceries. It’s true. The pandemic has changed a lot of people’s behavior. And Amazon, for example, made huge, enormous profits during the pandemic because people were shopping from home. I’m sure a lot of our listeners have seen this growth of Amazon trucks everywhere. Even here, I know that there’s a shortage of bus drivers.

Jason Bradford

For what?

Asher Miller

For school. Because people are getting hired instead to be drivers for Amazon.

Jason Bradford

Well, the school is like saying like, “Sorry, no kids are coming in.” So they’re out of work. So what else are they gonna do?

Asher Miller

No, but even when the kids went back to school, they couldn’t bus the kids. There were some days where kids were just waiting. My son was waiting outside.

Jason Bradford

Have the Amazon truck take your kid to school.

Asher Miller

Exactly. Package them up.

Rob Dietz

Put them in plastic wrap and boxes. Deliver them to their classrooms.

Asher Miller

If you wrap them enough, you don’t even need to slow down. Just toss them out the back.

Jason Bradford

They could even help load and unload on the way.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, you just glossed over another topic that we have to hit at least a little bit. And that’s how much all this online shopping has ramped up waste and pollution. I mean, the rise of amazon.com is directly correlated to the fall of the Amazon rainforest.

Asher Miller

We did a bit once, I think, on our show about products that were named after the things that they were destroying. Like the Denali . . .

Rob Dietz

Right. So just think about as you ramp up all of that buying and delivering and throwing away your cheap, crappy, meant-to-fail products, the waste streams are just incredible. There was a study by a group called Oceana that found that Amazon generated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2019.

Asher Miller

It’s not like plastic weighs that much, that plastic packaging. That’s a lot.

Rob Dietz

And of the 465 million pounds, 398 actually ended up choking marine mammals.  It was just right in their throats and their blow holes. They couldn’t breathe. It was terrible. One of these stats is brought to you by Amazon.

Asher Miller

That actually kind of hurts. I gotta say, on the wayside, I think that maybe there’s some public consciousness about this. I don’t know. But it was surprising to me to learn about this because I’m not a big fashionista. I don’t know if you guys . . .  I know. I know. You see me.

Rob Dietz

Wait a second. You are the only one of the three of us who isn’t wearing a hoodie. I think that puts you…

Asher Miller

I’m the only one who’s wearing pants.

Jason Bradford

All right. Oh, I got lederhosen. Come on.

Asher Miller

I’m not a big fashionista. So this is kind of surprising to me. But, you know, it’s estimated that the number of garments that are produced each year has more than doubled since 2000.

Jason Bradford

And the population has only gone from 6.1 billion to 7.8.

Rob Dietz

Only? We’ve “only” added?

Jason Bradford

We haven’t doubled the population.

Jason Bradford

And how much fun.

Asher Miller

A lot of this, I don’t know exactly what the what the percentage is, does have to do with — we talked about ease of use stuff before. Saving your credit card information, free shipping, all the things that they do to make it easier. One of the really evil sick fucking things that they do, under the guise of like, “Hey, this is so nice for you,” is free returns. You can return your stuff if it doesn’t fit. And they give you all the stuff that you need in order to do the return. So a lot of people, there actually there was a survey done of American shoppers and more than half of them basically said, yeah, when they order clothes, they order multiple sizes to see what fits. You can understand from the perspective of a consumer why that would be convenient. I mean, when go to the store, you try on three frickin’ sizes. It’s right there.

Asher Miller

But now you gotta get it sent to you. And then you’re like, “two of  these three don’t work,” you send them back. Well, people maybe assume “Oh, that just goes back on the virtual shelf.” It doesn’t. A lot of the stuff just goes right into the waste stream.

Rob Dietz

Right into that whale’s blowhole.

Asher Miller

Exactly. And only 15% of textiles are recycled. A lot more that could be recycled. And the other thing about garments, is that the rise of polyester, which is mind boggling if you actually look at the stats, it’s insane, right? I thought polyester, that’s like something some 70s dude wears with medallions. But no, polyester is like-

Jason Bradford

John Travolta’s pants.

Asher Miller

It’s in fucking everything now. You know, it’s in your jeans that you think are cotton. Because it’s so cheap.

Jason Bradford

I miss the old 501s. They start out as cardboard.

Asher Miller

They’re scratchy, dude. Now they’re soft and stretchy.

Jason Bradford

It took you two years to break them in.

Rob Dietz

The really good jeans are also laced with fentanyl these days.

Asher Miller

We’ll get there. I’m sure.

Jason Bradford

I know. Now you put jeans on and it’s like, wow, these are just silky. It’s nice.

Asher Miller

Yeah, you get that little contact high.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, and the estrogen disruptors, you know, shrink your testicles in half as soon as you put them on.

Asher Miller

And then they don’t fit anymore.

Jason Bradford

So well, the other thing that’s been going on, which is fascinating and horrific, is the commercialization of the quote unquote, sharing economy. Because a lot of you know – Let’s go back to the origin story, right? We’ve got hippie anarchists and stuff and they think they’re going to change the world because we’re going to connect the Global Mind. And you know, with great information and great conductivity we’re gonna . . .

Asher Miller

Send some skunky marijuana 3000 miles.

Jason Bradford

Yes. But there’s elements of this that are still around. There’s like relics on the internet of this kind of – Like Wikipedia, you know, is kind of. . .  But other things get co-opted, of course. So couchsurfing is a really good example of this. It was an incredibly successful travel social network. And in 1999, it was sort of invented by this guy from New Hampshire, who just sort of hacked into some University of Iceland database, and spammed a bunch of students at this university in Iceland. And within 24 hours, he had like 100 offers of like, “Yeah, you can stay in my place.”

Rob Dietz

Was that an Icelandic accent?

Jason Bradford

I don’t know. I don’t know. I tried to be like – I don’t know.

Asher Miller

Try New York instead.

Jason Bradford

See, I can’t do accents that well. I’m sorry.

Rob Dietz

I get nervous every time Jason goes into some kind of voice.

Jason Bradford

I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I apologize to our vast Icelandic audience. Well, there’s only like 600,00 of them.

Rob Dietz

Well, there were. Now we have two who weren’t offended.

Jason Bradford

So anyway, he has such a positive experience of people willing to let him go to just hang out in their living room that he started couchsurfing.com in 1999. And it was, you know, a movement more than a business. He was trying to just sort of connect people in this wonderful way. And of course, Airbnb took off in 2007.

Rob Dietz

Sorta commercialized the whole thing.

Jason Bradford

And ends up commercializing the whole thing. I mean, I’m not saying it’s all bad, but you see how it can get twisted, right? And now there’s people complaining about Airbnb, like, as an investor you can buy a house in Carmel, California for $3 million, and rent it out for $10,000 every weekend. So it kind of has taken over in many places.

Rob Dietz

Well, and you see the same thing happening in other areas, too. Like Craigslist would be your sort of non-commercial, idealistic, quasi-socialist sort of enterprise to help people find stuff they need. And then eBay comes along and figures out how to monetize all this and make boatloads of money, right? I don’t know what to do with it. You know, like every time you have that, as you said Jason, like sort of the high-minded, social, good enterprise, along comes the predatory money-making profit seeker to take away all the market share.

Asher Miller

It comes back to the systems — if we take a systems perspective on it. In some cases, it may be altruistic, but then you have a situation where it’s like you need to, if you’re successful, you need to grow that thing. You need to support it, then you have opportunities. People are throwing opportunities at you.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, it’s so tempting.

Asher Miller

It’s hard to say no to those things.

Jason Bradford

You can make billions if you just do this.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And it’s sad to say that the internet is one big pile of dog shit. I mean, no, it’s not. Postcarbon.org is on here.

Jason Bradford

It’s wonderful on here.

Asher Miller

It’s a little gem. Resilience.org.

Rob Dietz

But are you saying that’s like a piece of corn stuck in the giant internet?

Asher Miller

That’s not where I was thinking. But thanks for that visual. I really appreciate it. No, I’m just saying that there’s just something about the good intentions. I think this is true. Generally, with technology, you know, it’s like, the intentions are usually good. They’re usually there to try to solve a problem. Yeah, seize an opportunity. The early days of the Internet were, I think, really buoyed up by people who were idealists and then lo and behold, capital gets involved in egos and the desire of the short term interest that consumers have, you know, you just put this all this stuff together. And then what do you get? You get eight year old kids unboxing videos and making $30 million a year.

Rob Dietz

And all due to some guys that just wanted to score some weed.

Rob Dietz

Okay, listeners. You have heard a lot from us. And if we haven’t scared you away yet, you’ve got a chance to get a little more interactive with us. We’re gonna be staging one of our favorite events of the year. The Crazy Town Hall.

Jason Bradford

Is this like staging like the moon landing?

Rob Dietz

Kind of.

Jason Bradford

Okay, great. Well, the Crazy Town Hall is an interactive event that will take place on July 12, 2022 at 10am US Pacific Time. And you get to be in an online conference with the three of us and you can ask us questions. We’re gonna play fun games and get some insider dirt on the podcast. And maybe we’ll laugh.

Asher Miller

Twister, right? We’re gonna do Twister.

Jason Bradford

Okay. That’d be great.

Asher Miller

Yeah, so the Crazy Town Hall: it’s for real Crazy Townies, right?  People who want to support the podcast. So if you’d like an invitation to the townhall, we’re asking that you make a recurring monthly donation. It can be of any amount to the Post Carbon Institute. If you’re already a donor, we thank you so much for your support, you’re gonna automatically get an invite. And keep in mind your donations help us with things like buying enough duct tape to repair our microphones.

Jason Bradford

That’s important, isn’t it?

Rob Dietz

It is. But hell, if we get enough donations, maybe we can hire some decent hosts.

Jason Bradford

Oh my gosh, I would love that.

Asher Miller

You would love that? Our listeners would love it.

Rob Dietz

Seriously, please join us at the Crazy Town Hall on July 12, 2022. To sign up, go to post carbon.org/crazytown. That’s postcarbon.org/crazytown. Hope to see you there.

George  Costanza

Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.

Jerry Seinfeld

If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

Rob Dietz

So the easiest thing to say if you’re going to start doing the opposite would be just don’t buy shit online. But it’s kind of tough. I think you could start a little less draconian than that, which would be just go for the more minimalist technology, the ones that don’t have this predatory capitalist set of values behind them. So where they still exist, these are things like shopping on Craigslist instead of on Amazon. And you can tell these so easily because the websites look so simplistic and old school. Craigslist, there’s nothing modern looking.

Jason Bradford

No, it’s true.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And even with going back to the Amazon origin story about books, there are for profit businesses that you could support that are better than others. Right? So the alternative to buying your books on Amazon is to buy them on bookshop.org. They’ve brought together a bunch of independent bookstores so you can support them.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, our Powell’s, for our region is a big independent bookstore.

Asher Miller

Exactly. Now, the other thing you could do is get rid of some of the temptations that make it easy for you. That are constantly drilling shit in your head. So get rid of Amazon Prime, Alexa . . .
Rob Dietz

I like to actually picture them as a drill now. Like Alexa is a drill that’s drilling your head. It makes it easier to get rid of that stuff.

Asher Miller

Another cool side effect with that is less of your data will be compiled into this mysterious algorithm that will be then targeting you and people like you to buy more slowly.

Asher Miller

Just so much of this is about the ease of shopping. And if we were trying to live more simply on this earth, and to do it in better relationship with one another and the planet, it means maybe making it a little bit harder to do these consumeristic things. Well, and take away those some of those temptations that make it easy.

Jason Bradford

And if you still do have a downtown that has any local businesses, support them. Visit a coffee shop with actual walls. Yeah, I mean, it’d be great instead of instead of, not one of the things with disposable cups. It’s like a little kiosk maybe. But go in, have a real mug, ceramic, warm. Warm your hands with it, stroll down Main Street, if it’s called that still. If it has not been sold off by sponsors,

Asher Miller

And you definitely want to get there before climate change burns that downtown.

Jason Bradford

Right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, support your local cobbler, bookbinder and haberdasher.

Rob Dietz

Jason just went back to 1842.

Jason Bradford

If you need your chainmail stitched back together, if you’ve been in any broadsword battles.

Rob Dietz

I don’t think they stitched those together.

Jason Bradford

Or welded, or whatever. I don’t know.

Asher Miller

Visit your local blacksmith.

Jason Bradford

Your local blacksmith. Exactly, yeah.

Rob Dietz

And what amounts to a recurring theme to crazy town is see what you can do to just escape from consumerism generally. Like be really intentional about what you buy and look for quality and the less of a need to buy so much crap. And if you need a dopamine kick, don’t get it by just suddenly buying Ryan’s astroturf camping experience. Instead, maybe go to the library, check out a book, maybe give somebody a gift. Just so long as you don’t frickin. purchase it from Amazon.

Asher Miller

Okay, I agree with all of that. But can I just say, you could still go check out my son’s unboxing videos because I need those clicks. He needs that advertising.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, and make your trebuchet from local materials.

Rob Dietz

Welcome to Hypocrites-R-Us.

Melody Travers

Thanks for listening. We just gave you a whole bunch of do the opposite ideas so you can take action in your life and community. If that’s too much at this time in your life, do something real simple. Give us a five star rating on Spotify or any other podcast app and hit the share button and to let your friends know about Crazy Town.

Jason Bradford

Hey, guys, our show today clearly explores how we can get all our needs met online. It’s a fantastic world.

Asher Miller

That was the point of the show.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, open a browser talk to Alexa. She’s just sitting right next to you anyways.

Rob Dietz

That means talk to you if I recall your-

Jason Bradford

Yeah, right. More of us are going to be stepping into the metaverse. And it’s all there for us. All the time. No need to go anywhere, not even outside. Now, as humanity migrates fully into the virtual world, we do risk losing connection to our heritage in the universe. And that’s why today’s sponsor, The Universe Remembrance Foundation wants to remind everyone about where we came from. Perhaps we don’t want to completely forget about, you know, the laws of thermodynamics and gravity, the smell of a wet dog in the rain and the feeling of making love outside of a haptic suit. So I think these folks need support because the universe has been there for us for the last, I don’t know, 12 trillion years.

Asher Miller

Your math is a little off.

Jason Bradford

Something like that.

Rob Dietz

The best part is if you want a membership –

Jason Bradford

14 billion years. And it will be with us for the next 12 trillion if we can remember it.

Rob Dietz

The best part is to get a membership to the foundation we’ve got one-click ordering. You go in, one click, boom! And there’s currently a two for one deal.

Asher Miller

But it also comes free with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Jason Bradford

Oh, fantastic. Universe Remembrance Foundation. Sponsored by Amazon.