Categories
Chronicle Preparedness

Day 934 and Planning Ahead

I have been doing a short “season of no” over the last few weeks. I’m pruning my calendar and letting go of some projects, people and attention hogs. I’ve reoriented myself to obligations that give me as much as I give them.

The upside of saying no is that many obligations I’d assumed were set in stone are now blissfully gone. You can say no to more shit than you think as it turns out. I had a death in my extended family that provided me with clarity.

I do however feel as if it’s going to be hard to make plans too far out into the future for a while. A lot is happening and schisms in every community make it hard to see how some things could turn out. I’m keeping flexibility in my life so I can be mentally and physically prepared for rapidly changing conditions.

Especially as we come to grips with a world that is more chaotic, and a future that is less predictable, planning becomes the kind of exercise you hold gently. I’ve got goals and ambitions for the near term but I’ll play it as it lays.

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Medical Preparedness Travel

Day 884 and Who Hurts First

I spend time in Europe for professional reasons. Some of my founders are unable to reach the United States as our visa program has become untenable. So I spend time in places founders can reach me. Trade crossed all borders.

Just in the last two, I’ve had Nigerian, Indian, Albanian, and Russian Jewish founders years find themselves unable to secure visas to visit America, not even for professional conferences or tourism. It is much worse with HB1 or O1 visas. You may not think this problem doesn’t affect you, or may even benefit you, but can I assure you one day it will affect you negatively. American industry was built by immigrants.

At first I thought I could simply work around America’s travel restrictions. Capitalism will overcome the inequalities our states have wrongly thrown up to divide us.

But I am learning that climate change and failures in sustainable energy policy is making it much harder to travel with a disability or chronic medical condition. Heat is a strain some bodies can’t take. And mine is one of those bodies. Migraine sufferers are too. So are the elderly. It’s quite common.

Last year I briefly did that American thing where we pretend we the Mediterranean lifestyle is aspirational by spending two weeks on the Ioan Sea. Utter disaster. I am not calling White Lotus a liar, but I couldn’t possibly imagine how hell could be worse than a heatwave in Sicily in July.

Watching the Germans treat air conditioning use like some sort of criminal shameful behavior was a vivid reminder that society always chooses who we hurt first. A policy that is for the common good may find uncommon hurt delivered to those we didn’t consider. It’s not deliberate but it may as well be.

If you paid attention during the pandemic you probably learned a lot about how we treat the sick and weak. Now imagine yourself as an one of them. It’s almost enough to make you consider becoming a reader of Rawls.

The end result for me is that I don’t believe I’ll be traveling to Europe except in the winters going forward. I can’t risk the lost days of productivity to something stupid like a default hotel setting for 72 degrees. I feel a bit robbed by this. Grief even that even late May is too risky to be on the road.

It’s a small thing to have your travel be restricted in a world of bigger sorrows, but the feeling of having your opportunities narrowed hurts. I’m sad because a utilitarian neoliberal wonk decided that most people would be perfectly comfortable with slightly warmer rooms. The finance teams at the hotels agreed. It’s not so bad. It doesn’t bother them. I wonder what other decisions won’t bother them. And whether they will hurt me unintentionally.

Categories
Culture Preparedness

Day 883 and Ride the Edge

If you aren’t comfortably with the current standards of living on average, I’d consider shoring up your resources now. As our planetary resource situation doesn’t appear to be getting better.

As more first world countries come to terms with slowing growth (perhaps even degrowth), resource scarcity is going to affect daily life in uncomfortable and visible ways we can’t smooth over with shrinkflation. If you aren’t prepared to live life on a harder setting, you should begin as soon as you are able to prepare for that reality.

I’d like to think about this problem with a bit of distance. What if we have a coercive state and social consensus for something you’d consider a personal preference or choice, but civil society views as as deviant? You will need to find ways to look like you are conforming even if in private, you are not. So how do you do so?

You may find it helpful to not stick out. In that situation there are two ways to survive an attack. Being protected and in the middle of the herd. Or be as far away from the herd as you can be.

Anyone on the edges of the herd of social consensus, but still within the second or third standard deviation from the norm may get hurt. Forced metaphor of the brutal blue curve but you get what I mean. Better to be a true outlier, as the secondary standard deviation will be forced by a brutal bell curve to fit in better.

If we add in artificial intelligence to the equation, we’ve got even more effective tools for monitoring and surveillance of out-group behavior and even easier mechanisms to deploy social shaming force at scale to insure social adherence. The panopticon is us. An army of Karens armed with the probability you will deviate waiting to pounce.

See for instance a social shaming quote tweet campaign. Now imagine it’s state sponsored propaganda but organized, through the seemingly spontaneous egregores of populism, add a dash of rule by authoritarianism and you’ve got yourself quite a problem. The wisdom of crowds can look like mania.

I got a small taste of being shamed yesterday by my neighbors in a Frankfurt Airbnb. Air conditioning use is frowned on in Germany now for both social reasons and also failing energy policy. Shutting down the nuclear power was a bad idea.

I’ve been suffering from an autoimmune issue, exacerbated by allergies and pollen, so I’ve used the air conditioning on 80 degree days. This was enough to get my neighbors to complain to me twice. I attempted to comply by going to a hotel but quickly found that no hotel would let me turn the thermostat below 72 degrees.

I decided to brave the noisy neighbors and run the air conditioning at the Airbnb in the end, but I didn’t appreciate having to lay our personal health problems to justify a private decision. Now extrapolate this out to genuinely serious situations. The disability issues are often an early lens into wider social attitudes on freedom, choice, value and worth.

You have to decide now if you want to hide in the middle of the herd. Can you pass? Are you able to fit in or do you have some deviance in your life? If you aren’t sure you can pull off average, you must ride the edges. Be as far outside the herd as you can. Maybe on the edge you can find a pack that will defend you.

Categories
Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 844 and Blooming

Spring is in the air. Not in Montana so much as it’s still mud season, but metaphorically. Life is blooming and blossoming all around me after what feels like a lifetime of winter. Everyone in my orbit is flourishing and optimistic about how they are choosing to live their own lives. Which is wild as I’m friends with a lot of doomers.

The cost of an exceptional springtime was quite high. The flourishing is happening amongst those in my ecosystem who addressed their suffering head on in deep dark winters of soul and body. Between the pandemic and the financial calamities in the following polycrisis, people had it rough.

I’m not saying any of that is over so much as I’m seeing people reconcile that life is just going to be bumpy for the foreseeable future. Maybe it was always this bumpy. I gather that Americans are the ones experiencing the most dissonance on a changing world because we had it pretty good for a long while.

But it’s a choice to come to terms with a fallen world. Both in the Christian sense and in the wider “shit is crazy” sense. We still need to be housed and fed and educated and kept safe. Especially if times bad. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs still applies. But if you take care of your own needs you can blossom even in hard times. Maybe even especially. Spring follows winters.

Categories
Politics Preparedness

Day 808 and Left Eye

I’m literally sick to my stomach. I’ve got a twitch in my left eye. We’ve got dozens of competing factions in a massive narrative war online gunning for total social collapse and I’ve got multiple actual real live friends I care about deeply who think that THIS IS IT. Lemmings off a cliff would not be too far off as a metaphor.

There are multiple state, corporate, private entities working on a narrative collapse. Every single one of us needs to push back and say no. My only advice is to simply ignore them if you have already done basic preparations for your own life. If you haven’t it’s probably too late to do much more than treat this like a snowstorm.

Maybe Trump gets arrested. Maybe the money printer goes brrr. But you should assess your own risks as a responsible adult. Get out cash, buy some bottled water and get groceries for the week and keep calm. If it is indeed times for guns and butter the price of Bitcoin won’t matter.

I know I committed to a daily discipline of writing and I am doing it but I want to get off the internet and sleep for a thousand years. I’ll never get any work done or maintain my health and sanity if I don’t. So I am writing this and going to go about my life. You should too. And please nobody flee to El Salvador. I’ll write again tomorrow but if I’m quiet it’s because I am refusing to add any more fuel to this narrative fire.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 807 and Hyperinflation

Everyone calm the fuck down and stop panicking while we consider the most dreaded phrase in Silicon Valley: “Balaji was right”.

Sometimes people use a method of persuading you from the extremes. Remember “he means it seriously but not literally?” It works, it nudges the new position into your frame of reference and anything else feels moderate by comparison. But you get to choose what you adopt. You can be optimistic, you can chose new ways of being, you control yourself. But warning: it takes so much energy and effort, which I know because I did a lot of work to adjust my life to tail risks while still believing that you have to live your life.

Also, I’m not going to censor anything, so if you’ve got an inclination to cuss me out for not being on your “side”, I’d ask you to remind you that I’m human and winging it just as much as you are. Let’s all remember our humanity.

So are we going into hyperinflation in the next 90 days with Bitcoin going to $1,000,000?

The Next 90 Days

I mean, an apocalyptic scenario is pretty hard to do in ninety days no matter what is happening. Because life finds a way and as my husband Alex likes to say, people revert to the mean. So while I don’t fucking know and neither do you, I don’t think on balance the physics of hyperinflation in 90 days works from where we are now, when talking about the US in particular.

I’m not doing elaborate math though I’ve read the materials. I can make some good guesses based on logical observations of my available data and on human nature. And I think a shock of that magnitude is basically the end of the world. And as much as I think we’ve got to end denialism about how bad shit is for a lot of people, I’m also not sure it’s going to go sideways that fast. Maybe I’m over indexing on having read Gibbon’s “Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire”.

And to the idea that “it’s ok, we’ll all just move to a Bitcoin economy: we’ve got a so much work ahead of us to make crypto and in particular Bitcoin work as a viable alternative for a practical economy it’s not even funny. I think I’m reasonably active in crypto (though probably not as much as you think on a day to day basis). I participate in some DAOs, I have bags with Bitcoin. I believe we can build a better future. But we are small and the problem is big and we need more of you to come in and build it with us if you want an alternative economy that’s actually usable by everyone.

I think this is a good thing because I have had some good experiences with how American capitalism works but I think we can do better. I have some money but I’m not .01%. I like capitalism but I’ve experienced the deep lows of navigating a chronic illness in America before everyone became obsessed with fragility. I’m not saying the systems works.

So while I think a change is ultimately coming (and I’ve made plenty of bets to that effect), I’m not so sure I want the apocalypse to come just to further that end.

After all we can’t build software if it’s the end of the world. Which isn’t a huge leap to make if the dollar hegemony collapses before August. Literally nobody wants that. But a lot of people want more options and it’s our jobs to convince them we can provide it.

So we can use Bitcoin but again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Changing Systems

But I want to be transparent about what I am weighing. I believe we have some negative trends that haven’t been addressed in fractional reserve banking. I believe our world has strained trust about state run capital and currency feels inherently political.

We aren’t that far off the church and state separation, historically speaking. And it took a long time for the separation to hold. But even if time moves faster now, I’d be surprised (though not shocked) if we took down money and state in a quarter. Maybe I’m underestimating dramatically on the exponential. I clearly don’t think it’s impossible because I live in Montana and my revealed preferences tell you something. But I also live near a yuppie city and I make investments in a market economy. I’m torn.

So do I think it takes more time to unwind an empire? Yeah I do.

Do the network affects at play impact monetary policy? You tell me.

We poured a lot of cash into a lot of hands and we have the option of gossiping at scale in public. It feels like no one learned anything from GameStop but I can assure you I did. We don’t totally understand emergent behaviors. Egregores are real and we can summon demons, though we probably shouldn’t and I think it’s a little weird to do so because I’m not confident it won’t kill me.

And there’s a lot of new ground to cover. More deeply tied financial systems, and networks magnified 1000x. Last time around we barely had a functional Twitter and now we have, well ok it’s barely functional now (jk but not).

So we shouldn’t in fact continue to do that by building credibility through showing our work and support and investing in that future?I think so. It’s astonishing it’s as cheap as it is now given how much opportunity it provides. But again we have to keep building it out.

Opening the Window

Finally, one tactical issue I want to address is that Balaji may simply be trying to expand our minds on the possible in front of us and how fast we can do it. I believe the most pejorative way of describing it is manifesting but you can in fact apply energy to making a system move in your favor.

One way you do that is by opening the Overton Window on what is possible and seeing if people step up to the plate to build norms and tools that further your cultural view of the world.

So if you really believe that a change is coming and that people need to prepare for it, yes you push even farther than you might think is actually going to happen. That way, even if someone only comes halfway there, they’ve landed right where you think they need to be.

All this to say: chill out everyone – we’re living in the fastest, craziest times there have ever been and it’s damn easy to get sucked into the vortex. So take a step back, breathe, and make your decisions from a place of calm, not panic.

Categories
Finance Politics Preparedness

Day 800 and Small Potatoes

It’s nice when a round number crops up in my daily journey of writing every single day. It’s even better when it’s colliding with the wider narratives of humans. If you aren’t paying attention to the news, Silicon Valley bank had a run on Thursday and was taken over by FDIC on Friday. Now the powers that be decide our fates. On day 800 we wait to see if anything has changed about capitalism.

I’m small potatoes so I’m scrambling for survival as much as anyone. But I’ve got a reasonably good head on me and I’ve seen this movie before. Literally. I watched Margin Call a dozen times this year. My family also went bankrupt in the 2001 crash and I was working in startup land during the 2008 crash. So this isn’t exactly my first ride on the roller coaster. I still get sick to my stomach though.

I think we are all about to have a significant conversation in America about trust and who is looking out for whom. I have my theories on how it plays out and over what time horizon. Very few of those scenarios and involves actually letting the american economy implode. But some heads will need to roll it’s just going to depend on the fates.

I really don’t feel like writing through some of this as it’s both personally traumatic because I’m a human being but also because I don’t know where this lands any more than you do. A lot depends on who blinks and who we want to scapegoat and how much we want to tolerate the unpleasant realities of who matters most. Not to be dramatic but every empire rests on a pile of skulls. It’s the degree to which this is literally true that changes over the years.

Categories
Politics Preparedness Startups

Day 799 and Black Friday

I suppose it’s now quite clear why I felt like I was driving through a snowblind yesterday. For someone who spent the year telling everyone to watch Margin Call you’d think I’d be pretty prepared for the inevitability of pricing affecting risk.

I am, of course, discussing the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. We’d discussed in our household scenario planning around what would happen if we saw banks forced to compete on better interest rates. Perhaps the same old story of mis-pricing your risk would play out. Discussions of contingency planning and multiple accounts and insurance policies both personal and professional. I really didn’t expect for any of the emergency use cases to manifest as to even contemplate it is simply too horrifying.

But horrible things happen every day and I am skeptical of my capacity to judge my own need for a comfort in a situation in which there is none to be found. I do however believe that in the wake of the Great Recession we’ve come to believe that money always gets bailed out. And why would Janet Yellen (of all people) hang out the singular shining star industry that keeps the lights on in the hollowed out shell of post-industrial American capitalism.

That said humans have been known to do spitefully stupid things that hurt themselves so long as it also hurts someone they dislike. Cut off your nose to spite your face. I don’t know if the drive for vengeance is strong enough for some populist reactionary spill over. I’d want to at least offer up a scapegoat and I’ll be curious to see who has this fate.

This seems like the crumbles to me. The logic of the Jankening is that we cannot always predict the downstream effects because this is a complex system. All I know is that to let a large chunk of the wider technology ecosystem fail would be catastrophic.

However, we have now effectively put in the minds of a new generation that banks do stupidly silly things occasionally (Lmao) and you have to be careful who you trust with risk. Everyone is running to the big banks and that will have its own consequences. I am curious to see what the downstream consequences will be.

Be careful who you trust, use some common sense and don’t be overly sure of the value of powerful people telling you want to think. They might not have your best interest at heart.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 798 and Snowblind

I’m a big believer in working from your gut. I will qualify that your “gut” is only helpful if you have a good information diet, a grounded worldview and some amount of actual experience. But I’d wager if you are intelligent and have common sense, your instincts are, on average, telling you something worthwhile.

So I’m a bit concerned that today my gut is going just absolutely haywire. I don’t have any rational inputs that would warrant any alarm, either specific or generalized. I’m already a Doomer with a capital D but I’m an optimist about it as we muddle through most things. So I would share if I felt like I had something actionable. I don’t. The storms have to be weathered and we can merely batten down the hatches.

But I’ve got a migraine that cannot seem to be tamped down with even a double dose of Imitrax and I’ve got the unverified and unnerving sense that it’s because my entire input system is overloaded with garbage. Which is modestly weird as I’ve torn out a huge amount of inputs in order to prevent that from occurring.

I feel as if, in my attempts to not overload my meat space system, I may be shutting out a bigger warning. But my sense making capacity is lost in the day. I am flying without instruments. It feels like I’m in a snowblind.

Usually this is not problem as I’m a good pilot of my own psyche. But my autonomic nervous system is still pretending like the existing inputs are offering relevant or useful information. I can’t turn it off despite having turned down every possible source of volume.

And I don’t know what that means. Is something about to happen? Because no matter how hard I tamp down the inputs I’m still getting a read on my instruments. It feels like the point in the disaster movie that the sensors go haywire and the birds start dropping from the sky. But I’ve honestly got no idea what’s going on. EDITORS NOTE: SVB collapsed.

I’ve written this out early today just in case I need to further ramp down my sensory inputs and cannot write later. Take this as a single fuzzy reference on the ground background of cosmic radiation noise. Maybe put on a tinfoil hat or something.

Categories
Homesteading Politics Preparedness Uncategorized

Day 783 and The Alliance

Yesterday was a bit of a busy day for me. A splashy wandering “state of culture in America” piece in a glossy cultural firmament like Vanity Fair is the ultimate validation of one’s thesis. I am taking a little bit of a bow on it. I’ve been on about this chaotic future and here are my receipts.

And it’s potentially a good thing that so many people are seeing the alignment that a muddy middle ground of chaos means “the rest of us” have to get on with building whatever the chaotic future looks like. We’ve got families, jobs, and health problems. Life goes on even during times of contested authority. Honestly it’s usually where fortunes are made.

Because it’s a surprisingly large cultural alliance. It has a key truly America things in common. That thing? It’s the most American a shared value as I can imagine. We believe the frontier can be tamed and that civilization is a good thing. Americans have always had a pragmatic streak to them thanks to our Protestant work ethic fetish.

“Preppers, techies, hippies, and yuppies are converging on the American West, the safest place to “exit” a society gone haywire.”

The Dissident Fringe

Because look, nobody asked for a million stupid cultural schisms and endless battles over basic human rights and who shares in the spoils of civilization. Just find a damn common ground. Because right now we’ve got problems to fix. Nobody is sharing in anything unless we build shit. Building shit is the beginning of shared prosperity.

If we cannot align on that fact, then yes of course we are going to continue fighting in the grey zone politics of civilizational values. Because you know what progressives have going for them? A shared legal framework on which to resolve disputes is always better than vigilance. Everyone should want that. Sorry accelerationists.

I don’t know what systems will evolve. But if we don’t start investing in them now we are in serious trouble. I’ve been investing in solutions that are venture scale for sometime. Ifyou want to join me on this journey, DM me on Twitter or join as an LP.