Exi action figures (was Re: DON'T JOIN THE EXI! IT'S A SCAM.)

From: Jeff Davis (jdavis@socketscience.com)
Date: Wed Nov 01 2000 - 19:05:14 MST

Ian Arcatling wrote:

> Hence, if you are thinking of applying for membership and sending
>money to ExI, DON'T DO IT!. Treat yourself to something nice for that money
>instead. You won't receive anything at all for your money if you send it to
>the ExI.

Gee, I feel bad that you didn't get your money's worth. You made no
mention of the set of ExI action figures and the accessories catalog. Boy,
if you missed out on that, I can see why you're pissed. I've enjoyed
untold hours of good clean fun with mine. It's highly extropic, and
educational as well. Of course I dropped a bundle on the accessories, but
it was worth every penny of it. Except maybe the Mike Lorrey accessory
kit, which I think was a bit much. I mean the F-16 is pretty cool, with
the nuclear payload in the weapons bay and all, but an entire aircraft
carrier to go with it? Then there's Mike's personal humvee, mechanized
quad fifty, and nuclear missile silo slash headquarters compound. If you
send the Mikey figure down the little elevator and then slide back the
little blast door on top, you can hear a little recorded action figure
voice echoing from deep within the silo saying: "You'll never take me
alive!" or "There's no such thing as a free lunch!" or "Die, collectivist
swine!" or other such Mikeyisms. Totally cool! And the little Mikey
figure drops right into the F-16 cockpit. Then you can fling it across the
room real neato. But you have to be careful, cause if the Spike Jones
figure is out of the box--and this is invariably the case--it will blast
off from the ground and knock Mikey and F-16 right out of the air. (It will
do the same thing if you just throw the nuclear payload, or even, in fact,
if you just throw little Mikey himself! When something dangerous goes
ballistic, I guess, the Spikester is just programmed to intercept.) And I
don't even want to tell you about Mikey's gun collection. Very extensive,
very costly. But if you buy the whole thing you get a miniature (2" x
1.25") complimentary copy of the Bill of Rights with a bullet resistant
polycarbonate front window and welded titanium frame, the Second Amendment
engraved around the periphery. (You have to use a magnifying glass to read
the tiny lettering. Way cool.)

The Natasha Vita-More action figure is quite beautiful. Natasha--as I like
to call her because, well, it's her name--Natasha comes with her own
extropic pleasure dome and aesthetic-energy nexus (which costs extra). It
looks kinda of like a lava lamp only spherical. When you power it up and
drop her into what the catalog describes as the "teardrop of Maya" she
morphs into "a fractal kaliedoscope of shapes, textures, and colors", "a
sensuous dance of light and form", "an iridescent celebration of a waking
dream". Very beautiful. When I put it in my green house, all the plants
turn their leaves to face it and bloom continuously.

The Anders Sandberg figure is truly remarkable. One of my favorites. It's
some sort of nootropic receiver and amplifier. Wherever you put it, the
nearby objects become more, ... er, ... evolved. I put it in my aquarium
and all the fish grew legs, climbed out of the water, and escaped into the
greenhouse. Last I saw they were basking in the glow of Natasha's light
and throbbing contentedly. I put it on top of my head and immediately felt
as if my consciensceness were expanding at light speed out into the
universe, the experience rapidly exceeding the ability of words to convey
it. But it was impossible--for me at least--to sustain the flow of
nootropic energy. According to the catalog, some sort of metered-feedback,
self-limiting feature, a kind of safety cut-off. Prevents unqualified
transcends. I would awaken to find myself in the greenhouse, beneath the
flowers, basking in Natasha's light, surrounded by lizard-fish, all of us
throbbing contentedly. Anders meanwhile, would be over in the corner with
the Buddha and the Max figure, the three of them surrounded by a halo of
what I guess to be uplifted and by-now-very-bright microorganisms.
Luckily, but logically, the 'Anders effect' is always benign.

The Robert Bradbury figure is quite dynamic. It comes complete with the
Crown of Bluntness at no extra charge, I suppose because you can't get it
off no matter how hard you try. If you do try, be prepared for some sparks
and a very nasty shock! In those moments when it seems quiescent, if you
get down real close and put your ear right up next to it, you can hear in
miniature--no, more like full size, but at a great distance--the sound of
vast engines and the rumbling crackle of megajoules of plasma energy
surging relentlessly. You jump back in fear and wonder at the impression
of so much energy in so small a space. When it goes kenetic it turns into
a semi-invisible blur, like the wings of a hummingbird.

On a cold winter's night, I like to arrange all of the action figures in a
little semicircle in front of the fire--it's in one of those fake gas
fireplaces. In place of the regular fake-fire items I put this special
ceramic model of the washington capitol building and the White House (from
the catalog; not too expensive). When I light 'er up, flames come out of
the little windows and doors. It's really neat, and all the action figures
start to sing: "The sun will come up tomorrow. Bet your bottom
dollar,...etc" You know, the song from "Annie". It's kinda cute.

When the set first came there was a message telling me that the Eugene
Leitel and Robin Hanson figures would be shipped separately. When that
package came however, it was empty, and a big hole torn in the side--it
looked like the box had been burst from inside. An accompanying message
said that they had been out of stock of the Robin Hanson units. I called
ExI's customer service and they said that the distributor has been told
repeatedly not to send Eugene out alone. He get's bored and refuses to
stay in the box.

By far the most impressive, bizarre, and perhaps even dangerous action
figure is the Eliezer Yudkowsky. In a pitcher of heavy water, it will
swell to fill the pitcher, the resulting protoplasmic 'gel' giving off an
eerie blue glow. Gradually, if left to stand, the water will evaporate and
the Eliezer figure will be restored. But whereas, if you put the other
action figures in water, in the freezer, they will eventually end up head
down, frozen in ice, if you attempt this with the Eliezer figure, the blue
gel will expand, absorbing first the pitcher, then filling the freezer and
absorbing everything inside; all the other action figures; everything.
Then, unless you act quickly and shut off the freezer, turn off the gas and
electric, shut off the heat, and pull down the shades, the blue gel will
absorb the freezer and a substantial portion of your kitchen as well. This
worries me, because, though everything will eventually return to normal,
all the action figures then give off this slight blue glow. And while
everything seems like it's back to normal, nevertheless it also seems
somehow, ... different.

I bet what happened to your set was that, since you're in Sweden, the
packeage was probably opened in customs. Big mistake. Extropians, like
the beasties from the Pandora story, never will go back in the box. Guess
you'll just have to come to the US, check out the next conference, and pick
up another set.

Worth the trip.

                        Best, Jeff Davis

           "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                                        Ray Charles

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