Culture Politics Preparedness

Day 943 and Glimmers

I find myself filled with optimism today, even as I’m quite sure we are ramping quickly into the era of chaos I’ve been prattling on about for nearly a thousand days. Everything feels a bit “hold on to your hats” as we collectively experience the fear and joy of an illegible moment without any dominant narratives.

And yet today inside this chaos without clarity, the internet is filled with enthusiasm as a small niche of enthusiasts try to replicate the results of a chemistry paper that claims to have made a superconducting at room temperature material LK-99 produced with common materials like lead and red phosphorus.

Add that on top of fervor over Congressional investigations “aliens” program whistleblowers while we all collectively wonder at the potential for artificial general intelligence to be accelerated and the zeitgeist is a fever pitch of vibe shifts from doom to foom.

All of these glimmers of joyful uncertainty and hopeful chaos are emerging from a youth culture that is quite sure it has been abandoned by its own past as it is bombarded by a dystopian future by its own geriatric elite. Is it any wonder it feels like the social contract is hanging on by a thread?

Historian Peter Turchin is taking a victory lap with the accuracy of his theory of cliodynamics

When the equilibrium between ruling elites and the majority tips too far in favor of elites, political instability is all but inevitable. As income inequality surges and prosperity flows disproportionately into the hands of the elites, the common people suffer, and society-wide efforts to become an elite grow ever more frenzied. He calls this process the wealth pump; it’s a world of the damned and the saved.

Peter Turchin “End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration

The broader popular rediscovery of historians Neil Howe and William Strauss is no coincidence. They wrote the The Forth Turning twenty five years ago.

Looking back at the last 500 years, they’d uncovered a distinct pattern: modern history moves in cycles, each one lasting roughly eighty to one hundred years, the length of a long human life, with each cycle composed of four eras—or “turnings”—that always arrive in the same order and each last about twenty years. The last of these eras—the fourth turning—was always the most perilous.

The Fourth Turning Is Here

Clever Simon and Schuster realized it was an opportune moment to point out that the fourth turning had arrived with a new book from Howe.

So perhaps these glimmers are here to show us that the churn is here, the fourth turning is now, and Turchin’s race to become an elite to outrun the effects of dislocation may already have its winners.

Amidst all of that there are those of us seeking to believe that we might find a way forward. I’d rather be looking for the glimmers of hope. I’ve already done what I can to warn about the need to prepare for hard times. If you haven’t yet come to terms with the doom then I certainly won’t convince you of the need for optimism either.

Community Politics Preparedness

Day 939 and Culture Wins Not Culture Wars

You could be forgiven for losing faith in the American Dream. We’ve had a rough couple of years with bad vibes and culture wars. The Great Weirdening era was not easy.

I’ve been encouraging people to consider preparedness in the face of unrelenting uncertainty for a decade now. It’s time for us to move on from the “what if” of our current geopolitical, economic & climate dislocations to the “what now?”

I’m pleased and saddened to say the future is here. My revealed preferences tell you most of what you need to know. I live in an off grid capable homestead with well water and solar in Montana. I own Bitcoin. I think we are in for a bumpy decade or two.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful. I am optimistic about what a very different future will look like. I invest in technologies as varied as open source vector database software, multi sig wallets for DAO governance & network states, and psychedelic clinics for mental health. I clearly believe we can do future in the future. Orders of magnitude better. If you believe in the same you future you can become an LP in my fund

Change is the only inevitable thing in life. I’m proud to have been raised in the Rocky Mountains because our history has been so crucial in the formation of the American mythos of a better future. We are the frontier. The future is a frontier just as surely as Star Trek was about space cowboys.

And on the frontier you have the freedom to make choices of your own. How things used to be done doesn’t matter as much here because “how things used to be” is barely more than century or two for most of us.

We take what works from our heritage and we use it to inform a better future. Because a frontier represents a better future for your family. That the next generation will have it better. It’s a commitment to our heirs.

We’ve seen what happens when people don’t believe the future will be better. The pandemic years were bleak. I’ve seen the despair in people’s eyes when I discuss the problems we have in front of us. I’ve happily worn the doomer mantle as I do not wish to convey that success is assured nor that the problems all have solutions. As without clear eyes we will remain in denial forever. But after accepting that we have problems we cannot remain frozen, we must act.

I’d like us all to wake up to our reality and resolve on the good we can achieve by believing the future can be improved by what we do in the now.

We need culture wins not culture wars.

The desire for clean and livable environment, a functional state, and the dignity of our life’s pursuits remain common cause for all humans. Resilience and adaptability remain our tools.

If you are one of my neighbors in Montana, I am hosting a get together on August 16th. I believe that America has a “dissident” middle who are tired of culture wars. We want the freedom to pursue the American dream without government interference. A dynamic future with growth and choice for everyone is the best path forward. And I like to walk that path with you. If you’d like that please come on by my place.

Culture Media Politics

Day 932 and Schisms

Most of my social circle is caught up in various internecine dramas. This is really saying something as I have a lot of people in a lot of different demographics across every continent except Antarctica. Which is a pity as I’d love a friend down there.

I am convinced that everyone is losing their fucking minds because we are in the middle of what I believe will end up being recognized as an information war. Maybe one day we persecute memetic crimes against humanity at The Hague.

I realize this sounds modestly hysterical but really you probably don’t appreciate how much your opinions are being courted to different interests groups. It’s not even particularly menacing. We want others to see our humanity and we leverage every tool we have from Twitter to the New York Times.

And it’s important that we fight these wars. You are probably right about a lot of things and I am wrong about them. It’s important that you and I provide participation and consensus to the rest of society so we can come to some form of agreement. If you think something should change own up to it.

I genuinely think it’s a mistake for anyone to pull away from these obligations to society and by extension political and social opinion. I have watched Silicon Valley pull back from participation in its own self advocacy in the wake of the American media coming down so hard on it. I think this is a mistake.

I believe that the technology industry and startups in particular owe it to ourselves and to the rest of the world to remain engaged. I promise it’s not that hard to speak to the media or the general public. If you are a founder or someone participating in this community and need help just send me a DM on Twitter. Consider me a diplomat to the fourth estate.


Day 922 and Inconveniencing Americans

I’m enjoying a tiny moment of schadenfreude as I hear more stories of Americans being inconvenienced by our systemically fucked federal bureaucracies.

Every time a reasonable person encounters a petty injustice in the renewal of their passport I see hope. Because our immigration, visa, State department sundry consular services are so fucked. Like if you haven’t experienced the cruelty with which Uncle Sam treats it’s least favored citizens consider your luck. Well you must have a lot going for you.

And I’m grateful for your faith in American systems. We need to aspire to treat everyone as well as we have treated our most favored citizens. Our most privileged are an aspiration for us all. The American dream is working towards allowing a fragile peace of mutual freedom.

But you’ve got to remember that in big enough groups everyone is fighting to preserve their status. And that always comes at a cost. And until that cost occurs to more people with power we tend to let it slide. So I hope we inconvenience more Americans soon so we can get back to the business if welcoming the world to our aspirational ideals.

Culture Politics

Day 914 and Unsucked Dick

If you have spent time on this blog, you likely have some familiarity with my usage of crude language to get across a wider point. Sometimes being rude or lewd is simply the most effective manner of communicating a difficult truth.

While I have an overused forced metaphor tag given for my tendency to write in overwrought imagery, I’ve only just realized that I have written a trilogy of crude metaphors in service of explaining power as simply as possible. Those crude metaphors include shitposting, dickriding and now unsucked dick.

Without attention-grabbing taboo cursing, these topics can otherwise might seem too complex or academic. If you have read critical theory texts you know what I mean.

Overly formal language is alienating and tends to entrench us in our priors. With that context out of the way, I shall now get into today’s crude metaphor.

An unsucked dick is someone who is willfully giving up their own power to victimhood through refusing to act for what they want. And everyone wants their dick sucked. Metaphorically, at least a little. Those that don’t want power are usually loathe to admit it.

This turn of phrase is NOT intended to be gendered. Unlicked cunt doesn’t work as well for a host of sociopolitical reasons on sexual status and power. Don’t get too worked up about it. See the bigger truth.

You will find unsucked dick when the hard work of getting what someone wants is either is too much effort on their own, or otherwise requiring collective action & leadership on behalf of a group that is in disfavor from those currently in power.

Let me illustrate with a shitpost. Perhaps you too have had to organize a group of activists who would rather squabble and in-fight than win power.

My ambitions are bigger than running the internal politics of dozens of tiny activist groups that can’t see beyond their own unsucked dicks but this isn’t very polite to say.

A dick that is unsucked is the inversion of the dick that is ridden. You may recall that dickriding occurs when a group surrounds it’s most powerful member with praise and flattery. The leader has the sucked dick.

The one whose dick is ridden sucks up (pun intended) a lot of the energy of collective often at the detriment of their followers. The example I used in my previous post is Elon Musk.

You can use tactics like shitposting to attract some of a groups’ energy away from the ridden dick. Shitposting is deliberate act of soliciting a response online. It’s traditionally used as a lower energy way to shape engagement and conversation away from the traditional or current power holders, particularly when you know no other method will break through the noise and narrative.

The collective action problem in the many disenfranchised groups in modern society can often be boiled down to unsucked dicks desperately shitposting as dickriders. They want power but either cannot or will not find ways to gain it.

I don’t strive to organize unsucked dick into powerful constituencies and I’d bet you don’t either. It’s exhausting to control others. Politicians and celebrities have their simps but it’s often a complicated and unstable relationship. Audience capture by your simps tends to turn you into the New York Times or Andrew Tate.

Everyone needs to be responsible for their own dicks (gender neutral I swear) and get on with achieving their bigger goals. If you are not actively getting beyond purity politics and activist in-group fighting you are not serious about winning the thing you claim to want.

If having is evidence of wanting a lot of you simply do not want power. And that’s OK, if that’s actually what you want. Just be damn sure your actions are true to want you want. And if you want something go fucking get it. I’m happy to help.

Emotional Work Politics

Day 910 and The Chessboard

You can feel it. I know you can. The chessboard is being reset. Pieces are being moved. Gambits are unfolding. Absolutely everyone you know is going a little bit nuts.

I would not be surprised if these small informational disruptions will be recognized as part of a global conflict in a hundred years. I hope my heirs recognize that their mother fought as an information resistance fighters in The Great Dislocation Wars. Or World War 3. Just spitballing.

It’s humorous to me to talk in such a grandiose fashion because the reality on the ground is much of life is just a little bit harder and a little bit worse. But we still presume the world is basically still abiding by the same rules as yesterday.

I often forget how much people don’t want to hold power. The current moment shows a strange ambivalence about wielding anything yourself. Anyone with power is bad right? Well, it’s nuanced.

I want to assure you that your instincts in this matter is largely correct. You should distrust anyone that wants power. Be skeptical of the impulse.

Because being in charge sucks. It’s a shitty job. Anyone who has wielded any power from parenting a toddler to being a CEO probably intuitively knows this.

But once you have been given any legitimate form of authority, choosing to ignore that you wield power is a dereliction of duty.

The trouble with all reactionaries is that they assume once they take over, that their experience of power will somehow be different from the current horrors in charge. If they had bothered to crack open their minds while reading Shakespeare (or Thucydides or the Artashastra or literally any Great Book) they would know all men are subjected to the laws of power.

We lie to ourselves about how power functions because it’s very energetically easy to hand over your power to someone else. To be aggrieved is to have power over those you hold in contempt for exercising their power over you. Don’t be tempted by this trap no matter how righteous your cause.

Once you have picked up the mantle of power you must see through. If your people have given you authority you must see it through or hand it off to someone who will.

It’s very hard to own power. You most likely will not enjoy it. And you will be tempted to shunt off your agency. Just remember that you never carry power alone. It is always in concert with those who have consented to give it to you. Good luck on the great chessboard of life.


Day 907 and Unaccountable Bureaucrats

We’ve reached a point in America where the consular visa services (for tourism, business & academic visits) as well as the wider immigration services (for people intending to work here, become permanent residents or citizens) have made finding a clear legal path for any type of visa non-viable. The Cato Institute describes it as nearly impossible.

I haven’t been able to get so much as a tourist visa granted in 2 years despite guarantees that I’d be financially and legally liable for the actions of my people. Even when we agree on bringing people in via our refuge system has become an opaque unaccountable path.

Just today the Wall Street Journal reported that we are headed multiple crisis points in health care because there is no way to get into the country legally for nurses. We want nurses.

Our systems feels petty and vindictive to anyone that encounters it including American citizens like me. We treat people who aspire to American life’s like shit. And it appears as if the only paths that work are a system of bribes, fixers, scams, and favors as our immigration systems are opaque and deliberately obscured.

An unaccountable bureaucracy is breeding a system in which only the criminals are rewarded because the only way in is to go around the system.

We have two immigration systems that operate under the same “legal regime” but have totally different administrative regimes and authorities which further confuses the issue.

I can’t believe that I’m the one saying this loudly but a good start to a policy position is simple clear rules based immigration and visa policies that operate with consistently reviewed inputs and yield consistent outputs so both American businesses and its workforce is capable of planning for growth instead.

The doctrine of consular nonreviewability needs to be replaced with a standard of reviews that is clear, legible, and subject to open review so visa applicants and their stakeholders (families, employers, & lawyers) can understand and take action on consistently enforced norms.

Clear judicial review is the basis of any free market economy. This doctrine leaves our economy & families at the mercy of an unquestionable black box capable of life altering irreparable decisions which no one is obligated to explain or even disclose. And it’s not the fault of the consular officers. We are putting folks with little training into situations with unimaginable power (while being tied to confusing criteria which only leads them to cover their ass and reject more people. We can’t have a system of immigration where an unaccountable low level bureaucrat is able to reject an application based on vibes with no recourse.

– A visa for entrepreneurs. Currently we have imperfect workarounds that encourage people to go elsewhere (as it’s now clear the costs are enormous & the timeframes extend into multiple decades) meaning if you want to start a business, even one with funding, there is no clear reviewable path to getting the entrepreneur legal status to run the company in America.

The idea that our economy can’t handle more immigrants. tourists, business or academic travelers from non ESTA countries is simply not based in any reality. We have record low employment and shortages in crucial industries like healthcare which is fueling inflation.

Canada and Australia are letting in 2.5-3x the number of immigrants per capita per year as America. We could easily be smarter and more generous about how we recruit talent instead of encouraging a black market of border crossings for the desperate and ruined.

And we should absolutely be allowing in more visitors for the benefit of our tourism industry as well as our educational and business institutions.

I’ve had people denied entry for family reunions and conference keynotes. Startups now hosts all hands company meet ups in Mexico as they cannot guarantee that their employees can safely get in and out of America. That neither political party wants to address this in a meaningful way is appalling. We are pissing away our lead for partisanship and we can do better.

Internet Culture Politics

Day 904 and War Dogging on Mobile

I was busy working for most of the day on an investor update for It’s really dope and I’d love to have any prospective LPs read it to see how we are navigating the moment. Chaotic is my humble pre-seed fund for weirdos building shit to survive the current planet wide disjunction. The general sense of history restarting from its fuck Fukuyama slumber is a clear and there is stuff to build.

When I do deep work I try to give myself some space between me and information feeds. But I find it hard to entirely shut for more than a few hours. I monitor many threads across many interest groups with vastly different interests. I flow it back to me and my investments.

As I sit comfortably in my Montana home on the edge of the American empire, I obviously can’t help but worry I’m a Cassandra doomed to know horrible truths. But this becoming a bit of a hobby for all of us isn’t it? We all watch nervously as history unfolds with little influence on the broader strokes.

My fear is that we’ve all become armchair war dogs cheering on whatever professional grade propaganda works for the current moment. And we must be careful not to let ourselves be controlled by that chaos nor amuse that we know what is happening.

I firmly believe in having a locus of control and acting within it. Today I wrote up the current state of all the vibes I’ve seen and synthesized in my market status report. I then named the bets I’ve taken with our capital. I explained why I think have the greatest chance at resilience in a world that is more and more chaotic by the hour. And then I showed the work on how I found the deals and made connections for my portfolio that was unique to me.

After I’d wrapped it up and got my operating partner Alex to be sure all the operational work was settled I opened up my feeds. It was Swan Lake time. The head of mercenary organization Wagner Group was maybe, or maybe not, declaring a coup against the Russian Defense Minister. Who knows what’s going on! Certainly not me.

Cue the rampant speculations. My Telegrams are going wild. Signal is on fire. I am scrolling through sick jokes and CIA theories and extremely funny memes. Everyone is rushing to exert influence and partisan narratives on top of what looks like a Tom Clancy novel. And even he’d agree this week was a bit on the nose with the submarines and the Soviet comebacks. So let’s all remember the world is complex and we know so very little so let’s keep taking responsibility for the moves we can make and helping others do the same.


Day 890 and Millennial Heads of State

America is being strangled by a gerontocracy as our Boomer and Silent Generation leaders resolutely refuse to get the fuck out of the way. I guess they can’t really enjoy life with their grandkids since so many of us failed to reproduce. Did mass social acceptance of divorce have consequences? Who can say! Meanwhile Saudi Arabia and North Korea are being run by millennials.

It was brought to my attention today that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is 37 years old. And while I probably realized he was in his thirties I really don’t think I’d clocked that it meant anything till today.

Isn’t it astonishing that this geriatric millennial convinced his daddy (who is a fucking King I might add) to step aside and let him run the empire?

Meanwhile in America, Hunter and Don Jr are maiming themselves with cocaine and dating Gavin Newsom’s ex-wife respectively. MBS on the other hand killed a Washington Post journalist and got away with it. The only thing American failsons have managed to kill is some Yellowstone wolves. Succession not looking so glamorous now is it?

Not that you should kill journalists obviously (the fourth estate is important for social trust) but is killing your offspring’s future ethically more sound? I don’t think so. A suicidal youth reflects poorly on the nation. Especially when those “youth” are like in their forties and fifties. It’s fucking embarrassing.

And yet the American gerontocracy sure seems to be in favor of letting their youth slowly suicide themselves. I get it, their kids suck, and they don’t want to risk even an iota of their housing wealth. And they are still butthurt their Greatest Generation parents didn’t respect their failures in Vietnam. The Soviet Union collapsing was a win though so there is that!

Community Politics

Day 871 and Collaboration in the Time of Cultural Cholera

Perhaps its a function of being an American abroad in Germany, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the social contract and the expectations we have for free association and collaboration.

Germany’s democratic socialism is abutting against the challenges of global market capitalism and cultural pluralism. And the strain is evident. Frankfurt is expensive and there are many competing populations from refugees to globo-homo cosmopolitans

I think only one in five people I’ve encountered appear to be native born German. It’s almost enough to make me feel like I’m in America. Which is to say I see the in-group and out-group competition clearly.

Different expectations for a civic polity can range wildly depending on the goal. We enable everything from humanity wide medical breakthroughs to individual physical health through incentives both individual and collective. And yes because I’m American I notice shit like who pays for parks and recreation. I also notice soda taxes. Choices are all around us and the incentives make it look like no choice at all.

Humans live at varying degrees of abstraction. Our capacity to go from whole to parts, and parts to whole, depends on education, temperament, intellect, emotional capacity and preferences.

And that diversity of views is what makes it so hard for us to infer what “chunk” of reality our fellow humans see. No wonder we struggle with collaboration as a species. Your fellow man is as sensitive to elite semiotics as they are to casual racism.

Where our new living history takes us is going to depend a lot on how we design incentives for collaboration that provides benefits to participants that are transparent. Otherwise I’d be strapping in for more civilizational struggles.

My aspirations include us finding ways to collaborate across much wider destinies with as much freedom for all can be managed. I’m hoping AI and crypto go hand in hand. High trust and no-trust are our only options at this scale. But like any reformation it threatens the current powers and worldviews.