Afternoon Browsing Story: From Mr.Thiel to BioShock’s Andrew Ryan

It was a hectic afternoon at work and I was quite burnt out. So I took a voluntary activity which might not impact my productivity in a positive way directly or benefiting the company in the short-term but I believe would preserve my sanity for that day; I took a break. I filled my break time with clandestine internet browsing operation; browsing activity with high level of effort in ensuring that everyone around are unaware of the activity.

I stumbled upon an interesting article by Economist headlined “The Evolution of Mr Thiel“. I never heard of him before, but the subtitle of that article -“the tech billionaire has morphed from a libertarian into a corporate Nietzschean”- piqued my interest. Mr.Thiel was one of the earliest investor of Facebook and he is currently a tech tycoon of Silicon Valley. The article discussed an interesting method of private war which are legal and frighteningly effective, if you can afford the price tag.

Done is the day when you can duel or send your mercenary to hurt someone, but do not think the possibility of achieving similar goal is nonexistent. At least in modern USA, another means has emerged at the court of law in the form of legal battle proxy. The concept is quite simple; anonymously (or openly) finance your soldiers, people who are having or potentially will have litigation against your target, to increase your soldiers prospect in winning the battle and ensuring that your target will have to pay an impoverishing amount of fund in settlement. So far, no law is broken in the utilization of this method. That is exactly what Mr.Thiel has been doing. Mr.Thiel “philanthropically”funded Hulk Hogan (a famous wrestling celebrity) and many other parties in their litigation against Gawker, an infotainment website focused on Silicon Valley and technopreneur gossips. In the case of Mr.Hogan, the court has ordered Gawker to pay $140M, and that is just one of many battles Mr.Thiel expect. Judging from the current development, it appears that Gawker, which thoughtlessly publicized Mr.Thiel’s sexual orientation in the past without his consent and sparking this war, will have to admit defeat before eventually dragged to a complete annihilation. Mr.Thiel is patient and ready for a long war to drain Gawker until its last drip of blood.

The article then further discussed the evolution of Mr.Thiel (hence the title); from a sharp minded libertarian businessman into a delegate for Donald Trump. And evolution that went in an odd direction. It also mentioned a book written by Ayn Rand titled “Atlas Shrugged” in relation to Mr.Thiel’s current perspective. The title suggests that Atlas, who holds the world in his shoulder, may “shrug” and let the world, which keeps weighing him down, fall helplessly, and it serves as a metaphor to the story of a world where all the bright people voluntarily left the society to its collapse since the society keeps pressing them.

Stop there! Ayn Rand? Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds similar to Andrew Ryan, a central character in the first Bioshock game. Moreover, the new society pined by the bright minds in the novel sounds similar to Rapture. Atlas is present in the game, though I am not sure he resembles anyone in the novel. I found out that the game took a lot of reference from the novel. What a precious knowledge!

And that, my friend, is my afternoon browsing story before I went back to serve my capitalist master.

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