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The Future of AI is a Mundane Hellscape (from which none of us will escape)

So here’s a fun one. Many years ago, I started a YouTube channel to which I mostly uploaded videos of audio of my vinyl record collection and very occasionally personal projects. I haven’t uploaded anything in years and frankly forgot about it except that every so often someone will comment on a video—”Wow! Thanks, been looking for this!”—which would be emailed to my Google email. In case you don’t know, Google owns Youtube.

About a week ago, I got an email from something called Google AdSense that said they did an internal audit and owe me money. Wary of a scam, I Googled this and figured out that this was a monetization program for Google Youtube…so, not a scam. Turns out, that after about a decade, my Youtube channel had generated revenue and Google wanted to pay me.

The amount is not huge, but also not insignificant: about SG$400, or around US$350. Certainly, worth logging in to retrieve, which I did. Turns out I needed a PIN and Google snail-mailed me a new PIN since I didn’t have the old one. So far, so Google.

I logged in with the PIN then was asked to add my bank details…and now the fun started.

When I hit SAVE an error message popped up that read: “We couldn’t complete this action. Contact us. Learn more. [OR-BAIH-10]. Dismiss.”

The “Learn More” was a hyperlink that takes me to…Google Pay, Google’s money transfer service. Nice fella on their Live Chat function told me he couldn’t help with AdSense issues and sent me a link to the AdSense Help Center.

Despite the injunction in the pop-up error message, I quickly realized that there is literally no way to contact AdSense. No email. No phone. Instead, “Help” is provided by a “community forum.”

Multiple posts to this “community” either garnered no response or useless responses. I noted that people (are they?) who replied to my posts were awarded status levels based on precious metals: gold, silver, bronze, etc. In other words, getting “help” from Google is akin to participating in the Olympics. It’s a global sport in which the spectators are also the athletes. If the warrant underlying that system doesn’t scare you, it should.

A few days later, Google emailed again, via a “noreply” address, to remind me to “take action” so they can pay me. I went through all the steps again…and again had the same result.

I assume that if I can’t figure out the magic formula to unlock Error OR-BAIH-10, Google eventually will consider me either dead or uninterested and will simply absorb the funds it owes me back into its moist money maw.

Searching further for some sort of contact, I found a webpage that said Google AdSense used to have Managers for Accounts, but now uses AI to manage…I guess, everything? Do I get a silver medal for discovering this?

To underscore the situation, mega-corp Google has entered into a financial arrangement with me in which we both profit by advertisements appearing on A/V content that (for the most part) neither of us originated. As due course of this financial arrangement, Google refuses to provide any method to contact them when they owe me money.

Apparently, this is both legal and desirable. The future of frustration. The bold new world AI is going to provide to us peons who are silly enough to trust it.

So…the action I will take is to leave this account open until either I’m paid or Google steals the funds we created together out of a dubious copyright arrangement. Then I will delete my YouTube channel and all other relations I have with the Google ecosystem. That will be difficult since Google has, in many ways, simply become the public space of the Internet. But it’s a step I will take, at least to the greatest extent possible…hopefully after they pay me the four hundred bucks!

Hiroshima again

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

I wrote this article about it back in 2014 for

Inspiring words from Jess Franco

Take heart, we’re not alone…from the memoirs of Jess Franco…

Paralelamente, las grandes productoras se han lanzado a la producción de engendros enormes, donde las masas, las explosiones galácticas o las batallas por ordenador, pretenden sustituir a los sentimientos y hasta los nuevos actores más o menos humanos, como Ben Affleck o Ángelina Jolie parecen más salidos de un ordenador que del vientre de su madre. No creo que duren mucho tiempo. Hasta los niños van a renegar pronto de tal deshumanización, aunque a nuestros mandatarios globales les encantaría tenernos a todos inmersos en esas estupideces sin el menor soplo de vida.

New Black Scat fundraising drive

Black Scat, an independent publisher based in the US (and who has featured some of my work) is having a fundraising drive. Launched in 2012,  Black Scat Books not boasts 37 titles in the Absurdist series, as well as many full length novels, short fiction collections, visual art, plays, and various anthologies, as well as  numerous works in translation, including 10 titles by the great French humorist Alphonse Allais — all first publications in English! In addition they issue a free monthly digital magazine, Le Scat Noir.

Support independent publishing…check out the link here and give a little back to Scat:

Cycle Jakarta

My good pal the highly respected comic artist Sheila Rooswitha has a lovely new cartoon about riding bicycles in Jakarta (which is something that I love to do, too) in The Guardian newspaper The Illustrated City series. Check it out here!

My most recent ‘Opium Traces’ feature article

From my feature column ‘Opium Traces’, on…

Debut of ‘Opium Traces’, my new feature column at

I’m excited and honored to announce that my new column, ‘Opium Traces’, has debuted at

‘Opium Traces’ will meditate upon pop media about and from Southeast Asia (and slightly beyond) and will cover a range of subjects from film to books to music.

Check out the first article, an analysis of the psychedelic-noir style of Nicholas Refn’s 2013 film Only God Forgives:

More coming in June!!!


Treachery of Images

Search ‘this is not a pipe’ on google and this is what you get…

my new feature article on

My first feature article for the online magazine, ‘The Swollen Eye of the Man With No Name’.

Sub-head: ‘Kurosawa’s samurai, Stuart Heisler’s gangster, Sergio Leone’s cowboy, and George Miller’s misfit suffer a similar black eye, but with dramatically different effect.


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