6 People You’ve Never Heard Of (Who Secretly Rule The World)

Technically, monopolies are illegal — it’s why you go to jail every time you play it. And yet, despite antitrust ruling after antitrust ruling, the world is still run by 1 percent of the 1 percent. These select few people have more money and more power than a trillion Tony Montanas, and absolutely nobody is trying to stop them. And unlike Microsoft, Standard Oil, and AT&T, virtually nobody knows they even exist.

#6. Almost All Of The Porn On The Internet (Even The Illegally Downloaded Porn) Is Controlled By One Company

Despite a website that paints them as the blandest, most inoffensive corporation since Staples (they bill themselves as “a leader in web design, IT, web development, and SEO”), the nigh-invisible Internet conglomerate MindGeek runs all of the porn on the Internet. Even the pirated stuff. Considering that roughly 35 percent of all downloads are deposits into the stroke bank, it can be truly said that MindGeek holds the keys to the online kingdom.

There’s a very good reason their offices are all white.

Since 2007, MindGeek (then called Manwin) has established an absolute foothold in the pirated porn business, allowing any anonymous dick to upload any anonymous dick they want to any website in the MindGeek dugout. And they own a LOT of them. Have you ever fired a few potential heirs into a sock while watching YouPorn, PornHub, Xtube, Redtube, Extremetube, or SpankWire? You just made MindGeek even richer, because they own all those sites, plus about a hundred more.

All of which are tabbed on your computer, right now.

So how is it that MindGeek has avoided the fates of Napster and Pirate Bay, despite basing a huge part of their fortune on the distribution of copyrighted material? Well, the answer is pretty simple — MindGeek also owns the movies people are pirating. See, in addition to a nine-figure loan they got from some shadowy Wall Street investor, the company grew so rich hosting ill-gotten porn that they went out and purchased every actual porn studio they could get their hands on. Brazzers, Digital Playground, Mofos, MyDirtyHobby, Twistys, Reality Kings — all of those brands that you’re pretending not to recognize are directly owned by MindGeek. They even had a working relationship with Playboy, back when that actually mattered. So they profit off the movies being filmed, and then profit off the films being pirated. It’s a double penetration of profit.

Unfortunately, this arrangement isn’t so great for the people actually making the porn, since their videos are all owned by the same company pirating their content (and thus getting around that pesky little problem of having to pay them anything). But they can’t say a goddamn thing about it, because to do so would risk angering their bosses and lose them any chance of making any money for their videos. So any actors and actresses under the MindGeek umbrella basically have two choices — keep their mouths shut and hope that Vivid Video signs them, or go back to serving mozzarella sticks at T.G.I. Friday’s for less money than it costs to drive to work.

T.G.I. Friday’s: where even the buildings look like they’re ready to screw you.

So, why aren’t any officials speaking out about what sounds suspiciously like a monopoly? Presumably because … it’s porn. Nobody wants to touch it. No presidential candidate is going to start yelling about how the hardcore porn industry needs more regulation, although there is no denying it would be a pretty bold platform.

#5. The NSA Is Run By A Special Court Full Of Secretly Appointed Judges Who Don’t Answer To Anyone

The NSA is one of the most controversial government organizations in existence. This is because, among other things, their surveillance tactics have been ruled unconstitutional, but they get to continue doing whatever they want, because terrorism. You see, despite what some knee-knocking appeals court says, every bit of electronic surveillance the NSA conducts on private citizens is totally legal in the name of protecting this great nation from secret threats. Just ask their bosses at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, if you can find them. And trust us: You can’t.

And if you ask the NSA, they suddenly uncover a hundred different reasons to waterboard you.

The FISC was founded in 1978 to combat the rash of illegal Russian spies who were making it hard for illegal American spies to do their job properly. But after 9/11 made suspected terrorists of us all, the FISC quickly became the most powerful organization you’ve never heard of. It operates from a small office — there are 11 judges, and their terms of service in the FISC last for seven years. And each one of them is appointed to their position by no less than the chief justice of the Supreme Court. He hires these judges all on his own, without any supervision or fellow justices getting in the way to ensure he doesn’t accidentally appoint a violent sadist.

The main job of the FISC is to hear requests from the government for permission to wiretap, monitor, bug, or otherwise snoop on whatever target they deem sufficiently shady. So if anyone’s going to stop the NSA from pilfering through your DMs, it’s them. Except they probably won’t — out of the 33,900 requests to spy that the FISC received from 1979 (the year of its inception) to 2012, they rejected 11 of them. ELEVEN. Reality stars hear the word “no” more than the government does. It is equally important to note that there have not been 33,889 cases of espionage and organized terrorism in the past 30 years, so either the net they are casting is far too wide or they’ve successfully prevented 33,889 9/11s.

Those minuscule upticks in 2003 and 2007 are when the FISC put their foot down
and made the agencies eat their vegetables a whole eight times.

Thanks to the “I’m drunk, do whatever you want” parenting style of the FISC, the NSA has total power to pull flagrantly unconstitutional bullshit, such as keeping and using information that was “inadvertently” acquired. Basically, if the NSA happens to accidentally record a conversation that they didn’t have legal permission to record, they have the right to hang on to that conversation anyway and use it as evidence, which is basically the worst thing to happen to warrants since Nirvana. They can also hold on to information obtained during attorney-client conversations, which kind of makes having a lawyer seem completely pointless if anything you tell them can be recorded and used against you in your trial. And best of all, the FISC has allowed the NSA to select their surveillance targets without having to report to anybody first. That’s like asking for a warrant after you’ve already started searching someone’s house.

Furthermore, none of their rulings are published — they just make their decrees and scurry back into the darkness. One FISC judge defended this practice by explaining, “It’s difficult for a judge to summarize the work of another judge.” It is totally understandable to be confused by this statement, because the Supreme Court has had absolutely no problem publishing extensive writing for every single decision they’ve made over the past 225 years.

“All this time, we could’ve just said ‘cuz’ and moved straight on to the orgies? That’s way easier!”

For those having trouble deciding whether this whole thing sounds way too Kafkaesque to be true, here’s a fun quiz you can take. All you have to do is choose whether a court action/quote is taken from the FISC or Franz Kafka’s The Trial, where a man gets tried, convicted, and executed despite never being told why he was on trial. It’s a way harder quiz than it should be.

#4. One Tiny Company Decides What Shows Get To Stay On Television

You’ve likely never heard of the Media Rating Council, but they’re the reason all your favorite shows keep getting canceled, while Chuck Lorre gets to keep ice skating across fields of cocaine into giant piles of money. Founded in 1963 by the federal government to combat the rash of crooked TV quiz shows, the MRC is currently composed of five people who have total power to determine what gets to stay on television, and all they care about are the goddamn Nielsen ratings.

“Dear diary: Went to work and accidentally left the TV on during a Big Bang Theory marathon. God help us all …”

With each passing Netflix subscription, the once-revolutionary Nielsen ratings system — which monitors 25,000 random TVs via a laughably archaic control box to decide what the other 116,275,000 TVs in the U.S. are probably watching — increasingly comes across as disorganized and useless, because holy shit look at this fucking thing:

She’s either single-handedly deciding the future of our entertainment or opening a garage door.

Nielsen doesn’t take into account streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku, iTunes, or other types of tablet and smartphone streaming, even though Netflix alone would almost certainly crush every other major network in a ratings war. Meanwhile, the other major ratings guideline, Rentrak, tracks the same areas as Nielsen and often arrives at vastly different numbers. How is that possible? Well, one reason could be that Nielsen has been found to report incorrect figures and has been accused of accepting bribes to do so.

So, even though Nielsen numbers are potentially meaningless, the MRC still considers them the gold standard, spending 20,000 hours a year mercilessly auditing them. Rentrak, meanwhile, directly studies more homes (19 million boxes versus Nielsen’s 25K) and likely arrives at a more accurate conclusion. But they’re not accredited by the MRC, so their conclusions are taken about as seriously as an investment diversification proposal from a man in a Batman costume.

It’s not like they’re literally the only reason we know if movies make money or anything.

Currently, the MRC is in the midst of growing up by finally working to establish standards in online viewability — primarily so companies can know how many people are seeing their ads. Of course, a company needs MRC accreditation for their ad counts to count, and as of now only a handful of companies have passed muster. But as far as ratings are concerned, those companies’ ads are officially the only ones that exist, because five people in a tiny room said so.

Technically, monopolies are illegal — it’s why you go to jail every time you play it. And yet, despite antitrust ruling after antitrust ruling, the world is still run by 1 percent of the 1 percent. These select few people have more money and more power than a trillion Tony Montanas, and absolutely nobody is trying to stop them. And unlike Microsoft, Standard Oil, and AT&T, virtually nobody knows they even exist.

#6. Almost All Of The Porn On The Internet (Even The Illegally Downloaded Porn) Is Controlled By One Company

Despite a website that paints them as the blandest, most inoffensive corporation since Staples (they bill themselves as “a leader in web design, IT, web development, and SEO”), the nigh-invisible Internet conglomerate MindGeek runs all of the porn on the Internet. Even the pirated stuff. Considering that roughly 35 percent of all downloads are deposits into the stroke bank, it can be truly said that MindGeek holds the keys to the online kingdom.

There’s a very good reason their offices are all white.

Since 2007, MindGeek (then called Manwin) has established an absolute foothold in the pirated porn business, allowing any anonymous dick to upload any anonymous dick they want to any website in the MindGeek dugout. And they own a LOT of them. Have you ever fired a few potential heirs into a sock while watching YouPorn, PornHub, Xtube, Redtube, Extremetube, or SpankWire? You just made MindGeek even richer, because they own all those sites, plus about a hundred more.

All of which are tabbed on your computer, right now.

So how is it that MindGeek has avoided the fates of Napster and Pirate Bay, despite basing a huge part of their fortune on the distribution of copyrighted material? Well, the answer is pretty simple — MindGeek also owns the movies people are pirating. See, in addition to a nine-figure loan they got from some shadowy Wall Street investor, the company grew so rich hosting ill-gotten porn that they went out and purchased every actual porn studio they could get their hands on. Brazzers, Digital Playground, Mofos, MyDirtyHobby, Twistys, Reality Kings — all of those brands that you’re pretending not to recognize are directly owned by MindGeek. They even had a working relationship with Playboy, back when that actually mattered. So they profit off the movies being filmed, and then profit off the films being pirated. It’s a double penetration of profit.

Unfortunately, this arrangement isn’t so great for the people actually making the porn, since their videos are all owned by the same company pirating their content (and thus getting around that pesky little problem of having to pay them anything). But they can’t say a goddamn thing about it, because to do so would risk angering their bosses and lose them any chance of making any money for their videos. So any actors and actresses under the MindGeek umbrella basically have two choices — keep their mouths shut and hope that Vivid Video signs them, or go back to serving mozzarella sticks at T.G.I. Friday’s for less money than it costs to drive to work.

T.G.I. Friday’s: where even the buildings look like they’re ready to screw you.

So, why aren’t any officials speaking out about what sounds suspiciously like a monopoly? Presumably because … it’s porn. Nobody wants to touch it. No presidential candidate is going to start yelling about how the hardcore porn industry needs more regulation, although there is no denying it would be a pretty bold platform.

#5. The NSA Is Run By A Special Court Full Of Secretly Appointed Judges Who Don’t Answer To Anyone

The NSA is one of the most controversial government organizations in existence. This is because, among other things, their surveillance tactics have been ruled unconstitutional, but they get to continue doing whatever they want, because terrorism. You see, despite what some knee-knocking appeals court says, every bit of electronic surveillance the NSA conducts on private citizens is totally legal in the name of protecting this great nation from secret threats. Just ask their bosses at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, if you can find them. And trust us: You can’t.

And if you ask the NSA, they suddenly uncover a hundred different reasons to waterboard you.

The FISC was founded in 1978 to combat the rash of illegal Russian spies who were making it hard for illegal American spies to do their job properly. But after 9/11 made suspected terrorists of us all, the FISC quickly became the most powerful organization you’ve never heard of. It operates from a small office — there are 11 judges, and their terms of service in the FISC last for seven years. And each one of them is appointed to their position by no less than the chief justice of the Supreme Court. He hires these judges all on his own, without any supervision or fellow justices getting in the way to ensure he doesn’t accidentally appoint a violent sadist.

The main job of the FISC is to hear requests from the government for permission to wiretap, monitor, bug, or otherwise snoop on whatever target they deem sufficiently shady. So if anyone’s going to stop the NSA from pilfering through your DMs, it’s them. Except they probably won’t — out of the 33,900 requests to spy that the FISC received from 1979 (the year of its inception) to 2012, they rejected 11 of them. ELEVEN. Reality stars hear the word “no” more than the government does. It is equally important to note that there have not been 33,889 cases of espionage and organized terrorism in the past 30 years, so either the net they are casting is far too wide or they’ve successfully prevented 33,889 9/11s.

Those minuscule upticks in 2003 and 2007 are when the FISC put their foot down
and made the agencies eat their vegetables a whole eight times.

Thanks to the “I’m drunk, do whatever you want” parenting style of the FISC, the NSA has total power to pull flagrantly unconstitutional bullshit, such as keeping and using information that was “inadvertently” acquired. Basically, if the NSA happens to accidentally record a conversation that they didn’t have legal permission to record, they have the right to hang on to that conversation anyway and use it as evidence, which is basically the worst thing to happen to warrants since Nirvana. They can also hold on to information obtained during attorney-client conversations, which kind of makes having a lawyer seem completely pointless if anything you tell them can be recorded and used against you in your trial. And best of all, the FISC has allowed the NSA to select their surveillance targets without having to report to anybody first. That’s like asking for a warrant after you’ve already started searching someone’s house.

Furthermore, none of their rulings are published — they just make their decrees and scurry back into the darkness. One FISC judge defended this practice by explaining, “It’s difficult for a judge to summarize the work of another judge.” It is totally understandable to be confused by this statement, because the Supreme Court has had absolutely no problem publishing extensive writing for every single decision they’ve made over the past 225 years.

“All this time, we could’ve just said ‘cuz’ and moved straight on to the orgies? That’s way easier!”

For those having trouble deciding whether this whole thing sounds way too Kafkaesque to be true, here’s a fun quiz you can take. All you have to do is choose whether a court action/quote is taken from the FISC or Franz Kafka’s The Trial, where a man gets tried, convicted, and executed despite never being told why he was on trial. It’s a way harder quiz than it should be.

#4. One Tiny Company Decides What Shows Get To Stay On Television

You’ve likely never heard of the Media Rating Council, but they’re the reason all your favorite shows keep getting canceled, while Chuck Lorre gets to keep ice skating across fields of cocaine into giant piles of money. Founded in 1963 by the federal government to combat the rash of crooked TV quiz shows, the MRC is currently composed of five people who have total power to determine what gets to stay on television, and all they care about are the goddamn Nielsen ratings.

“Dear diary: Went to work and accidentally left the TV on during a Big Bang Theory marathon. God help us all …”

With each passing Netflix subscription, the once-revolutionary Nielsen ratings system — which monitors 25,000 random TVs via a laughably archaic control box to decide what the other 116,275,000 TVs in the U.S. are probably watching — increasingly comes across as disorganized and useless, because holy shit look at this fucking thing:

She’s either single-handedly deciding the future of our entertainment or opening a garage door.

Nielsen doesn’t take into account streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku, iTunes, or other types of tablet and smartphone streaming, even though Netflix alone would almost certainly crush every other major network in a ratings war. Meanwhile, the other major ratings guideline, Rentrak, tracks the same areas as Nielsen and often arrives at vastly different numbers. How is that possible? Well, one reason could be that Nielsen has been found to report incorrect figures and has been accused of accepting bribes to do so.

So, even though Nielsen numbers are potentially meaningless, the MRC still considers them the gold standard, spending 20,000 hours a year mercilessly auditing them. Rentrak, meanwhile, directly studies more homes (19 million boxes versus Nielsen’s 25K) and likely arrives at a more accurate conclusion. But they’re not accredited by the MRC, so their conclusions are taken about as seriously as an investment diversification proposal from a man in a Batman costume.

It’s not like they’re literally the only reason we know if movies make money or anything.

Currently, the MRC is in the midst of growing up by finally working to establish standards in online viewability — primarily so companies can know how many people are seeing their ads. Of course, a company needs MRC accreditation for their ad counts to count, and as of now only a handful of companies have passed muster. But as far as ratings are concerned, those companies’ ads are officially the only ones that exist, because five people in a tiny room said so.

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