Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 31 and The Goal

I feel a real sense of accomplishment that I did what I set out to do; write one piece of long form content everyday for a month. Now of course having achieved my goal I would like to do it for two months straight but I’ll give myself a moment to enjoy the happy feelings that come from finishing what you set out to do.

On the first day my writing muscles felt atrophied. It has been sometime since I wrote regularly and here I was committing to do it every single night. But I was able to get into the habit and quickly found myself enjoying the routine.

The biggest change I’m noticing is a smoother less disjointed focus in my mental processes. Rather than needing to work myself up to writing or pick a topic and commit to a narrative, I now ease myself into the threads from the day and see where my imagination takes me. This mental fluidity (which requires non judgement which is a struggle sometimes) is slowly improving the quality of my thoughts. I look forwarded getting ideas on paper and tying together disparate thoughts now each day. To seeing what strange new connection might emerge from the day. Like limbic memory and crisis or the power of loosely organized crowds

I’ve also noticed a distinct uptick in the momentum of life. That a daily exercise of writing could push forward my focus shouldn’t be a surprise but nevertheless I’m seeing progress on ideas that may become a reality. Because I’m using this space to think about my investing, finance, and cultural chaos a daily writing habit means I am makings fast progress on a thesis. Writing is an excellent forcing function for seeing ideas more clearly but also for seeing if you may have the seeds for something bigger.

If you are considering a writing exercise like mine I highly recommend doing a month long commitment. Do it in public. You may be surprised by where you end up. I covered a lot of emotional ground which has been a really boost to my spirits.

Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 30 and Aesthetic Signals

I’ve been chewing on an investment thesis for a bit.

Any of the angel investing I’ve done has mapped back to some very obvious principles in hindsight, and while I’m not quite ready to put it all out there, I’ve been doing the work to formalize it. I even bought the domain

I bring all this up because I’ve been thinking a lot about how aesthetics layer up to telegraph intellectual principles as part of my thesis work. One of the directions I’d like to consider is frustratingly expensive. In most established upper or hipster class aesthetic trends, the difference between being top half and top decile is probably the matter of only a few thousand dollars and working with someone who has taste.

The difference between top 10% and top 1%? At least a hundred grand. To really be world class takes millions.

We like to think that style doesn’t cost a whole lot of money. We give lip service to taste as an intrinsic talent. But it’s closer to being a skill developed through work and study. The people that make culture for a living have an eye for the granular details that make an aesthetic coherent. They can spot the third derivative inspired byproduct at a glance, and give its genesis to you step by step. They don’t do this to be snobs necessarily (which those who are insecure in their tastes tend to think) but simply because they cannot unsee their own aesthetic insights.

The downside to taste being partially a function of study is that if you want to adopt an aesthetic that has history, you can’t really half ass it.

This inexorably leads to new aesthetics arising and evolving simply because those with some study know they cannot afford to pursue an established aesthetic. If they did pursue something with lineage and no budget, they would need to bring an order of magnitude more taste to the whole affair. Now this doesn’t matter if you are middle of the pack. A spit and polish will do you good. But if you want to go from top ten to top one you need to invest the money and talent to get that order of magnitude.

And if you can’t? Well you probably need to pick a fresh aesthetic direction less burdened by history. Harder to pick it apart by showing it’s full lineage for one. But more crucially it gives you the space to build your own.

Chronicle Media

Day 29 and Momentum

I haven’t felt so invigorated by the internet in a long time. I’ve had a week of joyful chaotic fun alongside my virtual friends (which during pandemic times includes my IRL friends too). Without the alt right and their mascot President Trump sucking all the air out of the room I’m seeing a lot of relief. The slight diminishing of the existential threat has lead to a lot of what I can only call silly season.

Just about everyone I’ve encountered has been filled with newfound creativity this week. Stonk mania is really only a piece of the goofy energy. To be sure I’ve been riding high on the wave of GameStop and the other meme stocks (though to be clear we actually made money with a well timed bet on volatility and only bought one share of $GME for the fun). But it’s more than that. The giddiness that comes from any kind of upcrash raises spirits in all adjacent fields.

And as I spend a lot of time in financial and social media circles it’s been a hell of a party. Granted most of us are waiting for a hangover to hit but more than a few of us are wondering if we’ve tilted into an entirely new chapter of chaos as the world grapples with the power of loosely organized crowds.

Whatever comes next a momentum is building from the energy. We’ve seen a possibility that chaos can be fun and not destructive. A sorely lacking feeling in the last few years when memetic armies only fought on one side. Now it’s a free for all. And that is potentially a lot more interesting.

Chronicle Finance Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 28 and Limbic Memory

Today I want to talk about how this past year has set in motion the next hundred years of human imagination. Yes, I think it’s that important.

Mental elasticity is an incredible thing. We humans learn quickly and have a seemingly endless capacity to adapt to impossible things once we’ve wrapped our minds around it. Sadly though, forgetting doesn’t come as naturally to us as learning. Once we’ve seen the impossible happen, we never forget. Instead of storing miracles and crisis in the front of our minds like new knowledge, to be reinterpreted as new and possibly ephemeral, it goes right to our limbic back brain.

The limbic system is set in the deep structure of the brain where it regulates autonomic or endocrine function in response to emotional stimuli. It’s part of our survival response encoding. Which is why trauma is so crucial to evolutionary pressure. Those that survived, generally did because they took an impossible situation seriously. It becomes a part of our reactive unconscious survival instinct. And boy is this going to have consequences for American millennials.

The last year has had its share of impossible things occur. And we’ve gone about our business adapting to things that couldn’t possibly happen before. Early doomers were dismissed on the pandemic, political Cassandras ignored until an insurrection occurred, and now a new kind of financial mania which Stalwart Joe at Bloomberg calls an “upcrash”. He explains the impossible inversion using 1987’s Black Monday 22% drop.

Once people became aware that such a severe crash in so short a time was even possible, the likelihood that it could happen again was never dismissed. The consequences aren’t as big, but in a sense, what we’ve seen in GameStop could be thought of as a Reverse 1987. Upcrash. A gain so fast and rapid, that it might previously have been thought to be impossible.

Why do I include a seemingly jokey memetic internet troll in a list of traumas? Because a positive memory is just as jarring to our limbic memory as a bad thing. We overweight good experiences just as heavily as bad. Once the impossible becomes real our bodies retain the memory.

We’ve now got sense memory for global pandemics, political instability and positive market manias in America. Things we haven’t had for three generations (or more in the case of political instability). And the consequences, most of which remain unknowable, for these visceral impossibilities won’t leave our bodies till we are dead. We are stuck with the paranoia and exuberance of this last year till our grandchildren are in charge.

So we’ve just tossed several intense traumatic evolutionary events onto American millennials that not a single institution can do shit about. And I’ve honestly never been more excited for what our chaotic future might bring.

Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 27 and The Short Squeeze

The speed at which we’ve transited from insurrectionist attack on the heart of democracy to every man strikes at the heart of corrupt Wall Start has captured my attention. The GameStop squeeze may possibly be the most interesting story of the modern social age. The first wisdom of crowds moment striking at an institution and doing enough damage to get the beast’s attention.

We’ve careened from institutional faith crisis to the next in the long trudge out of the 2010s. And doubled down in 2021. Because it’s fundamentally the same energy. Tearing down the capital to stop the deep state to rallying around GameStop against the man is a straight line. The age of the extremely online is here

Both events have strong kek energy to it. It starts as a joke. Some sophomoric humor on the message boards. It is hilarious and fun how we all cosplay hax0rs blowing up Big Hedge Fund. But it will not be funny joke when a pension fund implodes. Just as it wasn’t funny when we had a kek coup on January 6th. One sounds like a stretch. We could never find ourselves in a place where trolls blow up an essential financial instrument on which millions rely for their futures. But then no one thought a D list celerity pretending to be a businessman could ride a gold escalator into the White House either.

The GameStop happening is just the first instance of memetic market manipulation. Institutionals will get caught without realizing it. Because mimicry online lets idea evolution happen swiftly. The base reference materials quickly get widely diffused and most folks aren’t even aware of the source. Ideas get separated from the original context, for good or ill. Hence Trump and sedition being both serious and a joke. It’s funny till it’s a federal crime. You may not realize you are perpetuating something with source material that is meant to either redpill or push a grift or policy position. Which probably explains why there were so many confused Boomers who couldn’t figure out how they had accidentally committed treason.

I’d be surprised if we bring any politicians to justice in the capital attacks. But I don’t doubt the SEC finds a way to make internet mob pump and dumps illegal. Sure that would require that literally anyone in regulatory oversight roles understood how meme cults perpetuate. We can barely wrap our head around memes electing politicians. Moving markets is too much for the imagination. Except that it’s happening right now it just may threaten the powers that be. Fuck with democracy fine. Fuck with the capital markets. Now you’ve got our attention.

What worries me the most is despite seeing the straight line from danger to democracy to internet mobs throwing themselves at the markets, I am having so much fun watching it all unfold.


Day 26 and The Newsletter

I’ve been writing one piece of longer form content on every day since January 1st. It’s been a wonderful habit and I suspect I’ll maintain it for a long time to come. I asked what my next step should be and the majority suggested I cross post on both Substack and my personal domain. So I’ve gone ahead and done it. You can expect identical content but now in easy newsletter form if that is your user preference.

What can you expect? I talk about semiotics, startups, venture capital, finance, emotional growth, retail, libertarian nonsense and shit posting. I only occasionally write researched work (once a week would be a goal I haven’t yet reached) but do post extensively about the zeitgeist. I’m extremely online and am happy to share directionally where I see things headed and the bets I take with my time, energy and finances (both angel investing and public markets). If you like culture that’s of particular interest to me and you can expect a kind of moderate skepticism. I am also a prepper as a hobbiest as well as interested in back to the land work and homesteads.

Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 25 and Ease

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my self limiting beliefs lately. The ideas I hold about myself and the world that get in the way of me changing. And one I seem most attached to is the myth of hardship.

I’ve fetishized the idea that life should be hard. Working through tough problems is good. Sticking it out through bitter failure is worthy. That goodness, attention, wealth and status are achieved through a moral pain.

I’m fairly sure I got this ridiculous idea as some type of parasitic add-on from Calvinist thought. It’s also preposterously, comically untrue. Like objectively the wealth, status and power in human society do not come from anything even resembling moral good. It’s this annoying fact that gives socialists succor in an otherwise unforgiving climate of capitalism (an objectively true statement that equally frustrates adherents of communitarian philosophies.)

So somehow I’ve equated hard work with good. So instead of pursuing talents in life where I enjoy ease and facility I force myself into difficult pursuits. I rationalize this as noble. But my core self knows that it’s bullshit to keep me stuck in the mud

So I am trying to resolve to not poo-poo that in my life that flows smoothly. I can do well at life by being at ease. I can lean into my talents and enjoy where they go without judgment.

But in the immortal words of every thirst trap: feel cute…might delete later.

Chronic Disease Chronicle

Day 24 and Going Easy On Ourselves

I keep a daily journal with some terse observations. I found it a manageable habit over the course of several years. So I was disappointed to look back over January 24th’s 2020 log today. It seemed as if everything in my life had slightly better metrics.

I couldn’t quite figure this out as I think in general my life is going quite well. I’m happily living in Colorado. I’m near my parents (even if needed isolation has meant seeing a lot less of them than hoped). I’ve had some excellent health breakthroughs thanks to more holistic care available in Boulder. So why did it seem like I was struggling more year over year?

And then I realized, oh of course, I just got used to the pandemic. The stress is clearly more but I’ve acculturated. Last January it hadn’t hit daily life yet. The daily stress and turmoil of an uncontrolled disease was still in its “oh shit if this hits us it will be bad phase.” A year along and I’ve become accustomed to the little indignities and struggles of pandemic living. But even as I’m happy with the changes it’s brought to my life it has sadly lowered the quality of life in meaningful ways for everyone. I don’t like dwelling on this as I need the improvements to be meaningful too. And I’m sure they are in ways I’ll appreciate once (if?) this all goes back to normal. But I know it’s going to be another six months from here.

I’m generally optimistic about my preparedness for all types of outcomes. And I am thrilled for the four year reprieve that comes with not having to constantly hear about political news. But this is all still taking its toll. So maybe it’s ok if my medication load is a little higher. I’m alive and well. Who cares if I need a bit more support. If I don’t feel like I look and move as beautifully and easily as I hoped that’s alright in the face of a generational crisis. I can take it easy on myself. If it’s all frustration and pain that’s no way to live. I don’t need to fight for progress every inch of the way. Sometimes it’s alright just to be comfortable and alive.

Chronicle Preparedness

Day 23 and Learning Anxiety

It all started with basil. Buying those plastic clamshells filled with herbs felt like insult on every grocery bill. You pay a couple dollars for wilting produce to complete some elaborate recipe you got from the New York Times (because Bon Appetit would never do you wrong that way) and are subsequently bathed in a broth of guilt and regret over your ambitions and poor budgeting.

Now a normal person would probably start an herb garden and enjoy its seasonal bounty. No winter herbs for you but plenty of summertime basil. But I am a yuppie. A full David Brook’s hippie turned bohemian consumption machine.

So on Black Friday I bought an Aerogarden. It’s a good Boulder company so that felt nice. Until I learned that it’s owned by Scott Corporation otherwise known as the purveyors of Miracle-Gro. But because I’m a yuppie I can let that one go even if I’ll cry indignation in public. I want my easy year round herbs.

So fast forward a few months and this is the best consumer product I’ve purchased all year. Up there with the $14 stovetop espresso maker. So I’ve got stars in my eyes about how in our townhouse we can do more than herbs. We can grow tomatoes! We could get two Aerogarden and grow lettuce too. Imagine if we could stack them. And so my husband and I start a familiar cycle of manifestation wherein he and I churn our cycles on making something we want a reality. He handles the logistics. I handle the the desires outcome. Together we have both decent ideas and follow through. The trouble is when we try to switch rolls.

Oh honey there are Aerogarden subreddits. Check it out before you decide what we should do.”

That sounds innocent enough. I click in on the link. Cue instant panic. Post after post after post about optimizations. “I bought a pollinator” and “I pulled out seeds to improve lower light filtration” and honestly I can’t even type out anymore it’s giving me hives.

Why? I don’t learn this way. But my husband does. My husband learns by seeing. A bunch of questions, and a lot of show and tell, gives him the confidence to dive into a project. He is the master of the Subreddit. A king of the DIY Youtube tutorial. I on the other hand can only learn by doing. I take one step. I don’t milk myself. I gain confidence and then I take another step. I have done a lot in my life with this “one foot in front of the other” method. And I know it works for me. Because if I start seeing too many complex steps and tools or gadgets I immediately undercut myself. I assume it’s too complex for me. A hobbies forum assumes a degree of detail and devotion I believe I can’t ever muster. I’m too much of a dabbler for that.

So I panicked. I kept reading the threads and slowly convincing myself I could never handle this hydroponics shit. Look at how complex all these set ups were. Look at all these questions I never thought to ask before I just started doing it. This panic surfaced despite the fact I was reading posts by people about the identical device I have. Which all evidence suggests I have been using correctly for months without even once looking at a subreddit or forum for hacks.

A hydroponic garden made by Aerogarden with six different herbs growing

I very nearly talked myself out of getting an additional Aerogarden at all by attempting to learn the way my husband does.

And he didn’t mean to spook me. He got excited on the forums and wanted to share it with me. I thankfully caught myself in the emotion before I let it run away from me too much. But it was a valuable lesson in not judging yourself for not having the same style. My method of learning is more any better or worse than any other. It just happens to be the one that keeps me excited to keep going. And that’s half the battle with learning something new. If you get bummed out the fire dims and you won’t continue learning. And that’s really where you fail.


Day 22 and The Lull

I have two more parts to write in my public relations for normies series and I have a bunch of thoughts percolating through my mind from my first day of dopamine fasting. But nothing has coalesced into something worth writing about for the day.

I kept myself from intaking over saturated news. I had a couple fun social media interactions but otherwise have largely kept myself to topics and people that don’t make me feel reactive. This has has a bit of a creative dampening effect for the day. I don’t feel terribly inspired to say much as so much of my day was focused on internal priorities. Several of which don’t seem like topics for sharing, even if I have generally used the “write longer form every day” prompt to mine the personal. I’ve quite literally shared my regrets on fertility which is as personal as it gets.

But today was a day where I hiked, checked on loved ones, made yogurt, played some mobile games and had several doctors appointments. But I have little that seems cohesive to put on the page. So I’ll stay the course and see what tomorrow brings.