HWFO 2021 Year in Review
You can get anything you want
You know, if one person, just one person subscribes to HWFO they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people subscribe to HWFO, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people signing in to Substack and subscribing to HWFO? They may think it's an Organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day signing in to Substack and subscribing to HWFO. And friends they may think it's a movement.
On January 8th 2021, facing declining Medium traffic, looming censorship, and a full fusillade of The Purge of all non-narrative opinions from tech circles, Handwaving Freakoutery migrated to Substack. After one year, we are basically at the 1000 subscriber mark, which isn’t too bad for a hobby publication by a civil engineer who splits time between running a business and raising two kids on his own. Here’s the graph.
Also in that time, the Twitter account for the publication has grown to a following of approximately double that number. Not great but also not bad for a relatively new Twitter account.
HWFO’s growth is clearly linear and in no way exponential, so it does not appear I’ll be able to retire and become a writer until I was actually going to retire anyway. Alas, Scott Alexander I am not.
The most interesting and fun development from this Substack experiment has been off Substack. Substack content is free, but all subscribers gain access to a Slack server to shit off all day with each other. So here’s that.
107 active people yammering on with each other about HWFO topics, 89,000 messages, sealed away from the public eye. If that sort of thing sounds interesting to you, subscribe for 2022.
Here’s your monthly article index. There’s quite a lot of stuff here for one year I think.
Index by Topic
HWFO in Other Media – Podcasts, TV, other websites.
So Long Medium – the pivot from Medium to Substack.
Beautiful Death - thoughts on the passing of my father.
She Did Not Go Gently - thoughts on the passing of my wife. (via Quillette)
Things Jordan Peterson’s Rehab Taught Me - a comparison between how Jordan Peterson handled his wife’s cancer and how I handled mine.
The Economics of Being a Teacher, by State - some math on whether blue or red states are better for the teachers who work there.
Burn the Universities and Salt the Earth - where we explain the true nature of the student loan debt crisis and fix it in the most gruesome way possible.
The Gun Solution - where we fix the entire gun problem.
Everybody’s Lying about the Link Between Gun Ownership and Homicide – where we tear apart “more guns = more deaths” with mathematics.
The Left is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths – where we dive deep on male suicide and how we might fix it.
Geographic Evidence that Gun Deaths are Cultural – where we use GIS to show that “it’s the guns” is a very poor explanation of what’s going on.
The Gun Homicide Epidemic Isn’t – where we disprove the “epidemic of gun homicides” with math.
The Magic Gun Evaporation Fairy – a dive into the impossibility of gun buybacks or gun confiscation.
Gun Buybacks Don’t Work if you Believe in Math – where we calculate how many guns you’d have to buy back to avert a homicide.
Real Talk about School Shootings – where show how school shooting numbers are a terrible thing around which to craft policy.
Doctors are Wrong about Firearm Effectiveness in Mass Shootings – where we explain that magically replacing all rifles with pistols would probably get more people killed.
The “Sabika Sheikh Firearms Licensing and Registration Act” Fails Third Grade Math – where we perform some low effort mathematical dunking on a house rep.
The Gun Lane We Need Doctors In, and Government Out - where we talk about how doctors need to focus on gun suicide, and gun culture needs to do the same.
Analyzing the Ryan Thomas Balch Account of Kenosha - where we lay out the likely details of future anarchist insurgencies based on accounts from the ground at Kenosha.
Culture / Culture War
Memespace Egregores and Google Maps - where we tie together all HWFO concepts into a collected Culture War analysis tool for the virtual century.
We Are All Apes Behaving Like Ants - where we put humanity in it’s place, game theoretically speaking.
The Human Tool - where we explain how all cultures war, and how you are a tool of something larger.
The Many Flavors of Wokeness - where we opine on how mental cognitive filters create information silos and barriers to communication.
Osama Bin Laden’s Letter to America - a 20 Year Introspective - where we break down OBL’s manifesto line by line.
We Gave Them Everything They Needed to Defend Their Country Except a Country - where we explain why Afghanistan failed.
Weird Ideas About Afghanistan - where we talk about the sportsmanship of war and trash the idea of spreading feminism at gunpoint.
Playbook to Fight Woke School Board Takeovers - where we, yeah umm.
A Detailed Look at Woke Update Mechanics - where we use the Dolezal Affair and the cancellation of Richard Dawkins to explain the most unique element of the Woke program.
Social Justice is a Crowdsourced Religion - where we explain the Woke engine to nonwokes.
Game Theory on the Second Civil War - where we work towards a way to avoid violent conflict using math and stuff.
Real Talk About Meritocracy - where we break down the ways in which the USA is, and isn’t meritocratic, while also differentiating between “meritocratic” and “fair.”
Science Says Sam Harris is Alt-Right – where we take a deep dive into how all prior political axes are being collapsed into a purely woke/antiwoke band.
The Two Confusing Definitions of Racism – where we explain how difficult conversations about racism are literally impossible to have.
Explaining the Social Justice “Woke Anti-Semitism” Paradox – where show how woke shibboleths combine to create anti-Semitic results.
Spot the True Believer – where we use Eric Hoffer’s “mass movement” framework to explain MAGA and Woke.
Modeling the Socioeconomic Future with Dungeons and Dragons – where we use DND to explain bell curves, Charles Murray, and silicon valley’s obsession with UBI.
Conversations with Black Folks about Cops – where we examine the police brutality problem from the perspective of someone on the street.
Stop Calling it a “Coup” – where we show how the “capital insurrection” was nothing more than a continuation of 2020 behavior.
Deplatforming, Sargon, MAGA Hat Kids, and the Kulturkampf – where we compare our modern culture war to prior culture wars and discover this is new dog old tricks.
Rape Math – where we try to back-calculate the “not all men” discussion.
Don’t Read This – mid 2020 election prognostications which turned out to be on point.
The Purge Will End in Violence – where we discuss the early 2021 tech purge and what it portends in the long game.
Visualizing the Costs of Government in Border Walls - where we invent a new unit of measure.
Abolish the Federal Government and Realign the Nation Based on Football - where we use Colin Woodard’s 11 Nations Theory to map our “national divorce.”
An Outside Look at Election Fraud - where we do the math and figure that “the steal” couldn’t have possibly been enough to swing the election results.
No Uterus No Opinion? No Opinion No Obligation - where we spin contra-narrative abortion takes into a conclusion that the current framework is mostly right.
Explaining Systemic Racism to the Right, with Guns - where we make the general HWFO readership uncomfortable and lose a few subscriptions in the process.
Latinx is Done - where we make a bold prediction about the winds of wokeness for 2022.
A Case Study of Memetic Compression Rates - where we explain how much data fits in a meme and what that means.
Facebook is Shiri’s Scissor - how human social media is analogous to artificial neural networks, how someone evil might develop such a network in order to destabilize the world, and how we’ve basically already done that by accident.
The Social Media Catastrophe - where we explain how the media is trapped in a tragedy of the commons situation which forces them to drive smartphone users insane for clicks.
The Media Engine of Chaos – where we use HWFO gun article traffic numbers from Medium to explain the root cause of all these shitty gun articles in the media, and by extension, all the other shitty articles too.
I Just Made $100 off Some Dead Kids, and That’s the Problem – where we show how the media incentives for mass shooting coverage literally increase the odds of more mass shootings.
The Long Problem – where we use the Atlanta Spa Shooter as a case study about how flawed media incentives lead to incorrect narratives.
Can Fortnite Rescue Humanity from the Attention Economy War? - where we look at ways to undermine the current media race to the bottom by picking a different activity entirely.
Rittenhouse as a Litmus for Adult Disagreement - where we show not only who’s at fault for half the country being completely wrong about Kenosha, but why they’re at fault.
Memespace Egregores and the Covid-19 Sensemaking Crisis - where we use applied HWFO cultural theory to explain why your doctor won’t proscribe you monoclonal antibodies even though you ask for them.
The Covid-19 Sensemaking User Guide - where we show how to use HWFO media and culture analysis to make sense of the things in the Covid space that sure do seem like conspiracies.
Everyone is Wrong About Covid-19 For a Reason - where we apply “sensemaking apocalypse” mechanics to explain why nobody can seem to agree about anything going on with Covid-19.
Data From the Texas Prison Delta Outbreak Fits the Vax Narrative - where we use the prison system to show the “vax doesn’t stop Covid but keeps cases mild” narrative checks out.
The Covid-19 Red Ink Blue Ink Problem - where we show how Covid opinions are now just tribal signifiers, show how short term vaccines and mutations are going to make herd immunity impossible, and beg everyone to lose weight.
The Vaccine Might Kill You and That’s Fine - where we examine the case of undercounting in the VAERS system, make a statistical pro-vax case including that undercount, and talk about why the government wants to hide that anyway.
HWFO Covid-19 After Action Report - where we dunk on everyone because of how right we were.
Want a Vaccine? Elect a Nationalist - where we explain how “me first” nationalism beats globalist cooperation within the game theory of international relations.
Does the USA have the Worst Covid-19 Response? Not at All – where we compare the USA to other similar countries and discover we’re sort of middle of the road.
Covid-19 Stands to be Done by the Summer – where we use infection rates from prisons which achieved herd immunity the hard way to predict when we’ll be done with this stuff.
An Illustrated Guide to Plastic Straws - where we explain why not to recycle plastic.
Bezos is the Greenest Man Alive - where we show how Amazon is “mass transit for boxes.”