Feb 05 2012

The Wizard Way of Bro Science: Racking Steel and Getting Shredded in the Pursuit of the More-Than-Human



About six months before turning thirty, I had one of those moments where you realize “damn, I gotta get my shit together.”

Devastated from a cycle of working twenty-hour days for months, all of that time spent at the computer — , like some freakish latter-day Jeremy Bentham — I was unable to properly climb the stairs without getting completely winded. I’d spent almost eight months unable to get out of bed. You know how it is: You feel like your mind is a machine made for shifting the building blocks of matter around with the power of the Internets and you get to it to the exclusion of all else. Unfortunately, the price is steep.

And so I decided to embrace my antithesis. To meld with the Other. To transcend high school Manicheanism and unify all opposites.

I decided to become a Bro. I decided to join the gym and get jacked. It had to be done. And, so entering upon the Path of the Bro, through that door that had been locked and barred for me all my life by my own blind prejudice and delusive belief in a mind/body split, I found it to be not only well-lit and maintained by all manner of helpful and cheery Bros but also to be a path of human development more demanding, more continually life-affirming and potentially even more satisfying than many of the higher consciousness change techniques I had immersed myself in while in my twenties.

Enough with the endless RSS feeds, the “I just had Red Bull to eat today,” the Assangemode… Here was my new grimoire:! Here was my new god: Zyzz! (More on this later.)

Cracking the Bro Code

To enter the path, I began with a few months of severing my bad habits. I switched to only pure unprocessed food and cut the chemicals out of my diet. Then I humbled myself before the Pylons of Brodom. I joined the gym, signed up for about thirty personal training sessions, and got the basics down. For the first three weeks, I couldn’t even do the simplest exercises without having to sit down about three times a session feeling like I was going to pass out. It was totally weak. There I sat, with a girl who weighed about a hundred pounds smirking at my out-of-shape ass. I did about a month of this, interspersed with daily hour-long cardio sessions to shock my system back into realizing it existed and that I would be needing it. Soon I wasn’t near-fainting or feeling like a scarecrow. I felt… damn… I felt fucking excellent.

From there I shifted into bodybuilding. I calculated how many calories I was burning a day, and then maxed out my macronutrients to the point where I was consuming more than I was burning — in my case about 3,500 calories a day. Daunting, especially as a vegetarian—but with a few trips to Costco and Trader Joe’s, I actually found that my new diet could be cheaper and easier than what I’d been getting before. A cup of Trader Joe’s instant steel-cut oats with two tablespoons of honey? Costs about forty to fifty cents and gives you 800 calories of slow-burning carbs and protein with no fat, and cuts out your heart disease risk to boot. A can of kidney beans from Costco when bought in bulk? About a dollar, and another 850 calories of carbs, protein and no fat. Dig it. Throw in a good low-fat protein powder, some veggies and fruit, and eight glasses of water a day and you’re good to go, and don’t even have to cook your meals or deal with looking around for places to eat every day. Hacked!

Then I hit the weights. After four months of working out four to five times a week for an hour each, favoring compound exercises and free weights, I’d put on twenty pounds, in a good way. Now, I felt, I could see the path for the first time. I’d only taken a few steps on it. I was still just barely past the starting line. But I was on the path.

There I was, an out-of-place geek in the place I’d been trying to avoid with all my willpower since I talked my junior high school into letting me out of gym class so that I could sit in the library reading H. P. Lovecraft and Frank Herbert. A latecomer to the party, but a sincere one.

And there, all around me, were all the freaky people. Bros, juicers and lugheads of all ages. Beast-women who looked like they could savage you in three seconds and take your carotid artery as a prize. Ungodly Hot Girls and their professional killer boyfriends. Friendly personal trainers. New Year’s resolution cardio warriors. And they were all kind of cool, I realized as soon as I got over my initial disorientation. They were all there to push their personal limits in a supportive environment, one big congregation in the Flesh Temple. What could be better?

After my initial four months, the Bros signaled that their conscious hive mind had noticed my continual presence, dedication and growth with a simple gesture: While doing concentration curls one day while that show The Big Bang played silently on the gym TVs, a huge powerlifter on my right said, simply, “Only nerds like this show, huh?”

Wait, I realized. Waaaaiit… he just said that like he was talking about people who aren’t me.

It was like the proverbial Diamond Bullet to the Forehead.

Some Considerations on Bro Transhumanism

Once you start really getting into this stuff, you find yourself in a maze of data that you’d need a Master’s in exercise physiology and the chemistry knowledge of the average Pfizer grunt to comprehend. What to eat. When to eat. How to manipulate anabolic and catabolic states. Bulking and cutting. Endless supplements to sort through. Sleep habits. And then we get into the realm of Bro Science, a mix of legitimate physiology knowledge and superstition that produces dubious body hacks like:

“Drink a ton of dextrose with your post-workout protein and creatine shake to spike your insulin and help your muscles absorb it.”

“If you do tons of squats and deadlifts it will release extra testosterone that will help your arms grow.”

Or even oddities like the infamous GOMAD diet—GOMAD standing for Gallon of Milk a Day, which has you doing heavy compound lifting while carrying around crates of whole milk to chug all day long.

How much of it is real and how much isn’t? It’s anybody’s guess. To find out, you’re going to have to do your own testing, and you’re going to have to machete through the overgrown thicket of online bodybuilder sites populated largely by teenagers looking to turn themselves into Hulk Hogan by prom.

After researching supplements for a while, I settled on the basics: high quality whey protein with a dextrose chaser, slow-burning casein protein to drink before bed to absorb while sleeping, a weightlifter-oriented multivitamin, DHA and EPA-inclusive flax oil, and creatine (a nitrogenous organic acid which naturally occurs in muscle and which you get from eating meat; if you supplement with it, it tends to put on muscle mass pretty quick by adding water weight. Opinions are divided on it, but I decided to cycle it since I’m a vegetarian and not getting it in my diet).

There’s all kinds of crazy gear beyond that: BCAAs (branch-chain amino acids) to boost muscle growth (if your protein’s good it’ll have enough BCAAs anyway); L-Glutamine to aid recovery (should also be in your protein if it’s good); ZMA (Zinc Magnesium Aspartate) to aid sleep and recovery; pre-workout Nitric Oxide boosters; Beta Alanine; HMA; thermogenics; various weird creatine modifications; waxy maize, glycomaize, maltrodextrin and other instant carbs; and on and on. Most of this stuff is overpriced and dubious. (Pro-tip: Never go to GNC to buy supplements. Those guys make commission and will run sales game on you to try to get you to buy obscenely priced placebo supplements full of fake-sounding chemicals that might as well be powdered unicorn horn. For my money, the best deals on supplements are all on Amazon. I mostly buy the stuff put out by Optimum Nutrition; they make top-reviewed, reliable gear.)

Beyond that, of course, there’s steroids and human growth hormone. That stuff fucks you up and you can spot the dudes on it pretty easily. Example: Changing in the locker room, I watched a jacked guy with bloodshot eyes and a beady-sweaty forehead maniacally staring at himself in the mirror while slowly and precisely pulling every hair out of his chin with a pair of tweezers. An hour later, after my workout, he was still at it. Hmmm… in retrospect, that might have been crystal. But you get the idea.

The more I found my way into the strange world of bodybuilding, the more I was exposed to the online bodybuilding subculture, a dedicated pod of transhumanists if I’ve ever seen one, who devote daily physical and mental effort to pushing the limits of the human form, consistently obsessing over how they can overcome the barriers of time, genetics and aging to reach a physical perfection that they may have been told was impossible for them to aspire to every day of their lives until they decided to ignore all that and go for it.

The Bros have been at this for a long time, steadily working out the physical hacks it takes to turn a normal Joe into one of those guys from 300. These guys, and girls, obsessively pursue the transcendence of the flesh through the flesh, like the reverse of Indian fakirs. It is a religion, a path through and beyond the confines of human, a path to an inhuman pinnacle of godly aesthetic glory that will look really good with a spray tan.

And if bodybuilding is a religion, it has a god: Zyzz, a personality so prominent and crucial that he deserves his own section.

How Do I Unlock Zyzzmode Brah?

Aziz Sergeyevich Shavershian, or Zyzz to his countless fans, was an aesthetically-oriented Australian Russian bodybuilder who went from a stick-bundle teenager to a shredded orange perfection of the male form in the short space of four years, and then proceeded to go shirtless to a lot of clubs and Australian music festivals with his Aesthetics Crew bros and pick up girls in quantities that mere mortals can only dream of, becoming a national celebrity in the process. Along with his brother Said Shavershian (a.k.a. Chestbrah), he also spent a lot of time on 4chan’s /fit/ forum, where he was revered as the aspirational archetype by every single weightlifter on that board. Last August, at the age of 22, shortly after Chestbrah was arrested for possession of anabolic steroids, Zyzz collapsed and died in a sauna in Bangkok. His death has been attributed to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.

Already a hero of the subculture, Zyzz has now ascended to the status of a minor god, a benevolent force that looks down over the striving /fit/izens and encourages them to push out just one more rep, so that the girls will be ‘mirin and the other bros will be jelly, his trademarked spiked hair and mirrored aviator sunglasses surrounding a glowing, magnanimous smile.

For the younger generation, Zyzz is a symbol of human aspiration; for concerned parents and sundry authority figures, he is a symbol of the growing dangers of steroid abuse and of social pressure on teenage boys to meet appearance standards that can be just as unrealistic and damaging as the expectations on teenage girls, often leading to eating disorders (manorexia) and body dysmorphic disorder. But the revelation that Zyzz was “bicycling” (Zyzz and Chestbrah’s slang for cycling anabolic steroids) has seemingly done little to tarnish his posthumous reputation. (One poster I just saw on /fit/ has this to say about Zyzz: “R.I.P. Bro you died for our sins. Every scoop of whey is in your name.”)

He is, perhaps, an evolutionary marker, one of those oft-cited “outliers” who point a way forward for self-willed human change.

Eat Right, Sleep Well, Train Hard

Am I an inhuman jacked monster yet? No, I’m just a mere beginner, still figuring it all out. But in a few months I’ve deeply shifted my personality profile, listening to hard dance music (?!?) instead of the same old eighties post-punk records, and rearranged my mental outlook from seeing life as something that is happening to me and instead into something I’m aggressively surmounting through self-discipline, a mindset that has spilled over into and improved every other area of my life, even if I hit the bed so tired I’m almost unable to move every night. In a world of vagueness and open-ended tasks,  racking steel at the gym gives me the satisfaction of a win every day, something that I can say I did right and did for myself.

Tripping hard and straight into the dense matter of the physical world is a weird ride, brah. But it’s a great one.

And I know that maybe, just maybe, somewhere up there… Zyzz is smiling on me.

Jason Louv is the author of Queen Valentine and editor of Generation Hex, Ultraculture and Thee Psychick Bible.

Jan 16 2012

Le Future According To Val, Part One: When Technologies Meet, Interact, and Things Go Boom.


So here we are in the year 2012, which far too many people predict will be the year the world ends. Some believe in cosmic disaster; some believe aliens will make contact; some believe “God” will “return” and magically wipe away everyone who doesn’t believe “the right things”. All of them share a single common problem — a complete lack of evidence of any sort.

Yet even among those who dismiss these “doomsdagry predictions,” you find those who proclaim dooms of a different sort, such as claims that we are fast approaching the “death of innovation” or even the “death of advanced civilization.” Even these predictions are hindered by a lack of any provable evidence, and joined by a single common theme — fear of the future.

There is a reason for this. The future is a very scary place. Not because we have reached an ending, which in reality, we certainly have, but because so few people can see beyond that ending to the birth that will follow. This isn’t a unique situation, as we’ve been through similar processes previously, most notably following the invention of the printing press that lead to the end of the Catholic Church’s monolithic existence by sparking the protestant revolution; made reading a common skill and enabled the Renaissance. More recently, we experienced the industrial revolution that has lead to our current world. It’s this “world” that is reaching its end. But this is neither doom, nor a disaster, even though it will most certainly be chaotic and sadly cost far too many lives as we make a transition from our present reality into an entirely new and different one.

It’s this new and different reality that I see coming that underlies everything I have written, and that has caused some to call me all sorts of names — from wild eyed optimist to certified lunatic. The names are pretty meaningless, because they simply reflect the inability of many to grasp the connections and implications of the various technologies I report on. For this, I must apologize, since there are so many interconnections that it is hard to give a complete picture. That is, however, the purpose of this two part article — to give a brief overview of the connections and describe how those connections interact to produce the end result that I perceive.

To begin, I view the human animal as driven primarily by two instincts, which in combination produce the overwhelming majority of the complex behaviors of the human race. The first instinct is survival. We are genetically programmed to survive. And as part of this instinct, we form collectives, because collectives are a mechanism that promotes our survival. The second instinct is reproduction. We are genetically programmed to compete for sex. Note I specifically say sex because for the majority of history, mankind has been seeking ways to get more sex without the reproductive aspect coming into play. Sex is the universal drive. Actual reproduction is secondary.

It is the interplay of these two drives that leads us to form collectives to promote our common survival, and then to compete within those collectives for sex, which leads to the creation of Pecking Orders. I discuss this far more fully in my blog post, On Government, which also discusses the interplay of these instincts to create the “Status Game” that underlies much of human activity. The “Status Game” is one of the primary drivers that I look at for analyzing any given technology. In essence, I ask myself “how will this technology be used to increase or decrease an individual’s status, and how will this affect the pecking order.” Almost any technology will have an effect on the pecking order, though that effect is not always immediately apparent. There are many other aspects I examine as well, many of them I covered in my H+ article, “A Peek into the Demoness’s Mind,” but my primary focus is always “how will this affect the status quo” Why? Because it’s the social aspects of technology that truly dictate how a technology will be used, how it will spread through society, and ultimately determine what impact that technology has on our world.

And it’s that social impact that primarily determines what technologies I report on, because certain technologies have the long term effect of being what I call “Great Levelers” in that, regardless what of their immediate short term effects are, in the long term they all show the extreme likelihood of “leveling the field” and effectively removing many of the “Pillars” that support the near vertical pecking order of our current era, and will cause that pecking order to essentially collapse into a nearly horizontal one in the not too distant future, which will directly result in a world in which the overwhelming majority of causes of human suffering, war, crime, and injustice will no longer exist.

So with that clarified, let’s see where it all goes, shall we?

In my initial articles on H+, I opened up with a discussion on VR, and how we have arrived at the stage of “good enough VR,” then proceeded to discuss the “Metaverse” — the combined worldspace of augmented reality, virtual reality and the mirror reality. And then, I finished discussing how I saw VR as the “Gateway” to the “Big Three” of Genetics, Nanotech, and Robotics.) Since then I’ve written on the numerous advances in graphene, 3D printers, and the possibility of extreme body modification. Looked at singly, these each have extremely large potential for disruptive upheaval, which I discuss in the relevant article and their commentary, but their largest effects will happen at the intersection where all of these technologies will synergistically magnify their effects on the pecking order. In short, they meet, interact, and things go boom.

You are likely all aware of Moore’s Law and the exponential increase in computing power it has successfully predicted for decades. What you might not be aware of is that once we begin incorporating graphene and CNTs into advanced processors, that law is going to be obsolete because the rate of increasing computing power will likely leap several orders of magnitude almost overnight. That massive increase in computing power in and of itself may not seem that significant until you begin to realize many of the other potentials inherent in the use of graphene electronics, some of which I covered here in “Here Comes Film Computing.” Graphene is not merely useful for making processors, but displays, cameras, lidars, solar cells, and basically nearly every single form of electronic device we currently have figured out how to make. But beyond its uses in electronics, graphene has amazing structural properties. A sheet the thinness of cellophane would be strong enough to support the weight of an elephant while still retaining near perfect optical transparency. As such, it has the potential to replace nearly every material we currently use to construct almost every manufactured product from knick-knacks to skyscrapers. When you combine both of these uses, you might begin grasping some of the massive impact graphene will begin having in the very near future as we begin manufacturing massive quantities of it. Carbon is only the single most abundant element in the world and roll-to-roll manufacturing of massive sheets of graphene has already been accomplished.

So to truly understand the impact that graphene will have requires looking at it from several directions at once, most of which many people find brain bending in the extreme. Imagine a world in which nearly every single manufactured product is not only constructed from graphene, but incorporates graphene electronics, and in which nearly every single visual characteristic is controllable, and likely many non-visual ones as well. Imagine a toothbrush that has bristles you can make soft or stiff as you please, clothes that change their fit and appearance depending on whether you are at work or at the bar. Imagine a world in which all these things are available for minimal cost because they are all made from carbon; and produced on demand using fractions of ounces of actual material. A world in which everything is programmable, customizable, and interactive. Imagine cars that you have to place weights in to keep from blowing away in a strong wind, but which can bounce like rubber when you somehow manage to crash head on into another car, absorbing almost all of the force of impact without harming the passenger while taking no damage from impact. A world in which nothing ever needs a repair because if something malfunctions, you toss it into the recycler and print out a new one. A world in which no product of a material nature has any value at all because it can be instantly reproduced, copied endlessly, and improved upon by anyone, where any product manufactured out of iron or wood or stone is considered junk because it is such an inferior, clunky, and unintelligent material to build from.

Then I would like you to consider the next layer. Add to this world of ultracheap carbon based products, a “Mirror” of reality, a cyber universe that merges the virtual and the real, in which the very world you move through is an interactive computer interface. A world where every person you look at, talk to, or interact with is just as programmable, customizable and interactive as the scenery around you. Where your “personal space” is as malleable as a dreamscape. Imagine a world in which a combination of prosthetics, bioprinters, and even mere virtual costumes could make it possible for every single person in the world to be their own personal “perfect” self, regardless of what that self might be, or even if that self changes from day to day. Imagine a world in which you record your every moment of existence to enable you to possess perfect recall; where even the very sensations you experience could be recorded and replayed whenever you desire. Visualize a world wherein the entirety of all human knowledge is available; in which everyone from adult to child has access to the finest professors of every subject at a mere inquiry. Visualize a world in which science itself is no longer the play-toy of a few; where knowledge is no longer a commodity available to only those who can pay; but free for every single human being on the planet to pursue to their hearts content. Think about a world in which every single desire and fantasy can be fulfilled, in which all the darkest, most secret fantasies you ever masturbated to could be simulated.

That last one probably threw you for a loop, didn’t it? But it really shouldn’t have, because I did say at the beginning of this article that sex is one of the primary drivers of human behavior. Seriously, I am a succubus precisely because that fact. I assure you, sex will be a major factor at play in the creation of “perfect selves,” regardless of if that self is merely a perfected version of your basic appearance or if you choose such a radically different appearance such as myself. And this is where the social aspects of all of this technology really begin that synergistic mixing that leads to boom.

Consider a reality in which everyone is Superman. One in which everyone is a “hottie;” in which every single person in the world looks like a porno model, regardless of race sex or species. Because with the combination of graphene processors, 3d printed carbon based “smart materials”, VR, and biomodification via stemcells, that is the inevitable direction I see things progressing.

If you are like many people, you are probably screaming no at the top of your lungs; certain that a world so very radically different than the one you are used to will ever be possible. The problem here is that you don’t truly understand how the “status game” works.  The pecking order exists to enable our DNA to merge “the best” (itself) with “the best” (a mate with superior DNA).  How this drive manifests itself differs in each gender, as well as in how strongly it manifests from person to person, but that is meaningless to the “pecking order,” which is how we decide “superior” from “inferior.” We compete to determine who is “better.” Wealth, power, good looks, and a thousand other “markers” have been created merely to allow our DNA to find and merge with the best other human DNA it can find. That’s it. Everything else is complications we’ve invented as smart apes to hide from each other the fact that all we really want to do is get into each other’s pants. Even us geeks want our chosen mates to desire us for our “big brains” so that we can bump uglies as often as we can. You might want to deny this fact, but I’ll lay you odds that the reason why you want to deny it will be because you will be afraid admitting this truth could lead to less nookie.

So, now that you are suitably outraged, let me direct your attention to an H+ article by my friend Hank Pellissier on Sexbots.

I particularly recommend reading all of the comments, and yes, I am aware it is a very long read since there are a lot of them, because they cover an enormous set of issues, not the least of which is the depth to which people will lie to themselves about sex and gender roles. However, to save time for those of you doing the tl;dr thing, I will quote the original point I made in response, which is far down the page.

“Sex is everywhere. No-one in our culture can avoid being exposed to it. But at the same time, we deny it constantly. Its okay for a kid to watch the cold blooded killing of a hundred people in an action movie, but heaven’s forbid he watches Debbie Does Dallas. Go online, and well, as everyone knows, the internet is for porn.

And even that isn’t the craziest thing we do. Our teens are raised to view dating as a war between a girl trying to stay a virgin, and the boys trying to get her to put out by any means possible. Any girl who fails to stay a virgin is a slut, and any boy who fails to get laid is a faggot.

We worship action heroes who treat the opposite sex as momentary pleasures, and who’s ability to get between their co-stars legs is taken for granted. We tell our kids in every single way possible SEX IS GOOD, while hypocritically trying to tell them it’s bad.

Second Life is often times ridiculed as a “pornoverse” but to be brutally honest about things, SL has sex poses, fetish gear, and everything else you can think of to appeal to the pervert in you for one reason, and one reason alone.


Released from the restraints of public hypocrisy people want to release their pent up libidos.

And now we are going to be entering the age of VR. As Joe Quirk said in the latest issue of H+, we’re looking at a future where clothes are going to be a joke. Between those sext messages you sent on your phone, scanning technology that will map your body to the nanometer of accuracy for 3d modeling, and AR that can put those two together to create an “X-ray” app, your modesty will cease to exist.

Sexbots? As controversial as they may sound now. we probably won’t even notice them growing more popular. To many VR people like me will be busy breaking down social taboos and inhibitions to make sexbots seem like much of anything.

And when those sexbots can act as surrogates? XDDDDDD

Needless to say, every last bit of tech applied to sexbots will also end up as a cybernetic enhancement option as well. Can we say the end of erectile dysfunction and the death of K-Y?

So, as a succubus, you could just say I’m simply preparing for the inevitable, and definitely highly sexual, future.”

I am making this point because the ability of all of this emerging technology to create such a “leveling” effect as I discussed earlier is tied into this basic driver of the “Status Game.” Personal appearance is a marker because it determines “sexiness” on one level and “genetic superiority” on another. Wealth is a marker because it is another sign of “genetic superiority”. At every level, the higher up the “pecking order” you are, the more our genetically driven instincts make us want to have sex with you. Additionally, the higher up the pecking order you are, the greater the demands you make for tribute as a reward for being “superior” and the greater the number of people you find to be undeserving “inferior” beings. We are programmed to desire greater status and instinctively embrace anything we perceive as granting it. It’s a pied piper we have chased for all our existence, equaled by only one other desire… immortality.

And it’s the lure that will pull us inevitably towards faster computers, better VR, greater ability to manipulate our own bodies, and better sex. And that is where the consequences come in.

To be continued.