Categories
Aesthetics

Day 1262 and Cost Per Wear

Many years ago I maintained a spreadsheet of my wardrobe so I could calculate out my “cost per wear” because I am that sort of nerd.

Fast fashion was coming into its own in that era but I did work for retail luxury so with employee discounts and access to sample sales I acquired the occasional $900 Italian leather good. Keep in mind these were late aughts prices.

It comforted me somewhat to see that I got so much use out of those boots (getting the cost per wear into cents) but that the H&M trend item got work a handful of times. I felt a need for my style to work for me which is a design preference many a working aesthete can appreciate. It helped to see what integrated into my life laid bare.

The irony being fashion I got from Zara in 2010 and some of the older collaborations from fast fashion retailers remain better quality than what you could get from an LVMH luxury house now. We’ve had quite a bit of price inflation while any pretense to quality has gone a bit to the wayside.

Much of the work of looking stylish can be defrayed with simply spending more but taste is the sort of thing can be cultivated through experience with limits. Having a budget and an understanding of what you are trying to achieve can be a valuable tool in almost any domain.

Categories
Culture

Day 1259 and Cooler Than Me

I was once (devastatingly) told by an ex-boyfriend that the song he associated with me was Mike Posner’s Cooler Than Me. He felt I cared too much about taste.

This wasn’t an unfair assessment as I was working in fashion at the time and maintained all the intellectual pretensions of being a antiquity obsessed fresh out of Chicago Austrian school economist devotee. A capitalist with taste isn’t really a likable figure.

Twitter mutual Tracing Woodgrains (himself a frequent commenter on the value of beauty and taste) suggested reading this essay in the American Mind about the cultural flaccidity of conservatism and their taste problems.

Reading the essay, I thought it a shame that the taste problem that clearly plagues the right goes on unabated. They tolerate losers with bad taste. And they carry on about how they are losers which further salts the wound. It’s not the kind of commentary that suggests their culture is worthy of dominance.

I am privy to the occasional conversation on this subject as I being crypto libertarian I am bit of a neutral in the culture and institutional wars between progressive and reactionaries. At a dinner of mostly internet dissident right wing types, the topic of being losers was aired.

The host, a clear winner from the ascendant investing and engineering autist culture, rightly pointed out if conservatives wanted to align their fortunes to winning cultures (it was implied like Silicon Valley was a winner culture) then the right wing too needed to become winners. I fear that advice fell on deaf ears. It’s hard to tell someone that being a loser is a skills issue.

Libertarians get a kind of drop out “smokers behind the bleachers” kind of cool in America. The lower case libertarian of the philosophical bent not whatever big L party apparatus that might exist. Those guys are all losers.

The “fuck the Fed” constitution carrying types have a lot that is likable and winning. Fighting civil asset forfeiture, and for marijuana decriminalization, first and second amendment protections, and bodily sovereignty are winner issues across different constituencies.

To go against the grain of big government pieties of both left and right is to resign yourself to being on the outs pretty regularly by disagreeing with both sides but to rest confidentially in the cool of knowing you hold your ground.

To be on the outs means you retain a crucial aspect of cool. You aren’t the mainstream even though you benefit from not being made its enemy no matter who is winning.

Casablanca is libertarian coded and undeniably cool. Seeing the fallen world as it is and having the balls (or backbone for those with delicate sensibilities) to live your own life is an act of bravery. To have own opinion amongst sinners and saints is fundamentally to cultivate and know your own taste.

That returns me to the essay by Spencer Klavan “A Matter of Taste” that kicked off my response.

If we’re serious about a revival, we are going to have to accept the inherent risk and unpredictability that comes from letting artists see the world before they judge it.

In turn, we are going to have to learn to suspend our own judgment long enough to see what the artists bring us for what it is. In other words, we will have to cultivate a little taste.

If we do not know our own taste we can hardly know the line at which we draw the boundaries of civilization. To know what we value is the point of cultivating taste. To hold on to the standards you’ve set for yourself is to hold yourself up to others. To live this way in action and through your own revealed preferences is to say “this is what I value” in my actual life. If you can’t do that, then you will always be in danger of having someone they are cooler than you. And a loser might care.

Categories
Startups

Day 1255 and Venture Nurture

I sometimes wonder why venture capital hasn’t coded more feminine. The cynic in me say because it makes money and money accords status. Where there is status there are men competing for it. Which is a good thing in my book.

I just happen to find the kind of investing I do to be so feminine in character. I’d never really thought of my gender when I got into startups simply because I was a founder with a problem and technology solved it for me. I was a nerd about a few very specific things and the market agreed with me.

But now as the wider world has forced me reconsider gender and how my identity gets used by others in how I do business. And I do see that I approach my investing in traditionally feminine terms. I wasn’t that kind of founder. But I am that kind of investor. 

I nurture. I love finding a weirdo working on something in a weird corner of the internet. Nothing makes me happier than telegraphing out that I am weird and getting back other weirdos. I like to listen. I like to learn. I don’t mind unpolished or outlandish or even absolutely crazy. My best deals all started in DMs

Nerds aren’t a polished people. They may lack all kinds of social graces. They will often not care about anything but the thing they are obsessing over. And I happen to find this to be a good thing.

Not everyone agrees that we should work with their lack of graces. Ruxandra Teslo discussed how weird nerds are being pushed from institutions like academia.

Weird Nerds are being driven out of academia by the so-called Failed Corporatist phenotype”

Ruxandra Teslo

I am just absolutely here for the weird nerds. They are my tribe and I see it as part of my path to help bring more of them up behind me. To nurture is a feminine virtue. I am happy to bring it to my founders. They should all feel safe coming to me because they know that I am one of them and my goal is to see them thrive.

Categories
Culture Reading

Day 1249 and Storytelling

I’ve never written fiction as I’ve always presumed it was a different skill set to write a story than it is to write an essay.

You’ve got to manage plot, pacing, character, and dialogue to write a story. In an essay you’ve only got to worry about plot and pacing. Many will argue that it’s all storytelling and I’m sure they are right. It’s just that when the story I am telling is my own it’s a lot simpler.

I don’t know if this is true. It may a thing I tell myself because I’m so comfortable now telling my own stories. Having twelve hundred days of writing under my belt on here puts me Scheherazade territory.

Fun fact, she managed to have four kids during her thousand and one nights. She never took a day off either. Thought it seems like she got a lot further on the fertility front than me.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 1243 and Majesty

I love flying over mountain ranges. One of the highlights of living in the western Rocky Mountain Range is flying over peaks you’d never see any other way but by air. Air travel remains the most magic aspect of modern living.

Over the Austrian Alps

I’m transitioning through Munich on my way to Houston and eventually Austin for Consensus 2024. My window seat gave me an incredible view of the Austrian Alps along the way.

The river of clouds in the valley between peaks felt like something out of a fantasy novel. Even as spring turns to summer the peaks are still snow capped. My home mountains the Bridgers are looking bald this time of year generally.

As I sit on a layover in a Lufthansa lounge charging four separate devices while I take in Financial Times is much less awe inspiring aesthetics.

I am joyfully playing the persona of the technology brother. I see words that suggest my tribe is winning in the pink paper. SoftBank is accelerating its most radical transformation to date. AI hype cycles clash with geopolitical turmoil.

How many ways can I track my biometrics only to discover through AI that I am “tired and experiencing physiological stress”

While I enjoy the lounge, my espresso and my instant access to information I see Russians playing footsie with Estonian maritime border markers. I see long reads on how propaganda bubbles fight each other in spheres of influence. Americans are so smug but I see the other bubbles.

I am excited living in this timeline. What get to witness is beyond miracles. I suppose it’s only fair to see the rest of the human condition alongside it. It certainly makes me happy to be traveling to support the cause of decentralized compute.

Categories
Travel

Day 1238 and Come As You Are

Sometimes a thing goes so sideways you find yourself on a gridlocked country road listening to whatever music had the good fortune to be dowloaded to your device.

In another era maybe my device would be a car radio and tape cassette but in my elder millennial era it’s now your smartphone. I wonder what will happen to the interoperability of CarPlay as we go into the age of subscription services in your Mercedes.

There was some kind of road race that a local municipality didn’t prepare adequately to host blocking the way. Lithe men on expensive bicycles racing are at least a bit more interesting than the retirees in padded spandex puffing away.

Cycling is the sport of the healthy elderly. I appreciate in some dim way their contributions to tourist economies and also keeping down the cost of medical care. But I’ll admit professional road racing is beyond my understanding. Tour de what now?

As I waited for the racers to pass and the traffic on road to clear, I tuned into the music. I’ve never been much of a Nirvana fan but somehow some playlist had been synced through Spotify and I had “Come As You Are” on my phone.

Gen X music had a lot of angst but I appreciated their attempts to warn us. I am coming as I am today and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 1237 and Having

“Having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true”

Spock “Time AmokStar Trek The Original Series. 1967

Longing, yearning, pining, wishing…such is the romance of wanting . A simple verb “to want” has many beautiful words associated with its fantasies.

Perhaps this is why it’s helpful to remember that self improvement doesn’t work. We get something tangible from the fantasy of wanting. Our pop culture science fiction avatar alien humanity Mr Spock sees the illogic in wanting being more pleasing than having.

I recall being introduced by Sascha Chapin to Existential Kink as adjacent of this truism. We get pleasure out of resisting. The romance of wanting can give us too much joy to let go.

I enjoy the many spaces in my life where wanting has to is power. It gives me more space to enjoy having. I have so much right now. I feel it’s wealth every day in my life. The love of my husband. The safety in my family. The freedom of the position I occupy. The opportunities in front of me. I can yearn but it’s up against the power of having.

Categories
Culture

Day 1228 and Fabric of Our Lives

I love cotton. In my Waldorf third grade, our year long class project was to plant, grow, harvest, gin, card, spin & dye cotton. Along with a similar wool project, this childhood experience instilled a love of fibers, fabrics & textiles in me.

Early in my career I crashed textile trade shows like Premiere Vision which is where I fell for the extra long stable fibers of American grown Pima cotton. Cotton remains a big business in America. We’ve got trademarked cotton like Supima is sold as a luxury fabric.

From the Supima cotton website

You’ve probably seen the work of organizations like Cotton Incorporated. Catchy campaigns like “the fabric of our lives market cotton with the United States Department of Agriculture’s commodity check off program.

The Agriculture Marketing Service of the USDA oversees efforts to improve the position of various commodities produced in America. Other campaigns include Got Milk, Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner, and Pork: The Other White Meat

All commodity producers & farmers must pay into the check off program and it amounts to almost a billion dollars of mandatory spending. As you might imagine this system has had its share of controversy and corruption.

It’s not all sloganeering according to Cotton Incorporated.

We work to make cotton the best it can be through research, textile innovations (like water- and wind-resistant cotton apparel and moisture-wicking, wrinkle- and stain-resistant cotton), and sustainable advancements like finding new uses for cotton and cotton byproducts, reducing land and water usage, and modernizing agricultural processes.

We make sure you know about all of cotton’s amazing benefits through advertising, retail and influencer collaborations.

You might be annoyed to find that American cotton growers are obligated to pay into a government marketing program which underwrites social media influencers.

Cotton is the most popular natural fiber in the world with 25 million tons a year produced so it’s perhaps not unexpected American has an incentive to promote it as one of our commodities.

Cotton is crucial natural fiber which means it has its share of a controversies as commodity for things like its water & pesticide use and genetic engineering to withstand the herbicide glyphosate.

If you’d like to learn more about cotton and its history Empire of Cotton and Cotton: The Fabrice That Made the Modern World are both comprehensive. I personally recommend Virginia Postrel’s The Fabric of Civilization for a broader appreciation on how textiles drove crucial technological innovation of our species.

In The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel synthesizes groundbreaking research from archaeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. The cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code.

This thesis suggests to me that fashion bitches are one of the original tribes of technology brothers. To care this much about the feature sets of a base layer clearly marks us as nerds. So I’ll finish this up with a personal anecdote.

I am furious at a brand of upper market cotton basics called Splendid. I’ve been buying the same long sleeve classic tee-shirt from them for at least a decade. It claims to be a 50% blend of Pima cotton and Modal. Both are considered premium fabrics with long fibers. Modal is a semi-synthetic developed in Japan made from beech trees. There are many grades of both fibers Splendid could source and in the past I’ve found the tee to wear extremely well. I’ve got a half dozen that never pilled, held its color & shape, and gave me years of wear.

Last month I bought three new Splendid tees as I becoming fearful of the downward trend in quality of manufactured goods. I’ve been trying to stock up on basics I’ve relied on in the past. Alas it would seem my most reliable shirt in my favorite fabrics has come to an ignoble end.

Splendid no longer manufactures with premium extra long cotton fibers as a new shirt pilled & caught onto other fibers in my tee shirt drawer.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 1227 and Storm

I’ve been following NOAA Space Weather forecasts as there is an extreme geomagnetic storm. Scientific research stations and news media have been reporting avidly on the solar storm as it’s producing aurora in areas which typically don’t see northern lights.

G5 Geomagnetic Storm Message from NOAA

It’s fun to have another shared social astronomical event to enjoy across the planet. This year’s solar maximum has delivered us space watchers some incredible coronal mass ejections. You might recall some folks seeing them during the solar eclipse totality event

If you’d search social media for pictures of the aurora borealis you will be in for a treat as many photographers captured so many different colors and patterns.

Axios shared this British Columbia image

I’m always in awe of how much social media facilitates these types of natural phenomena. I find joy seeing different types of people sharing natural beauty and scientific knowledge across our networks. Our shared human experiences connecting us. And the good news is that it’s continuing over the weekend so if clouds cooperate we might all see more tonight.

Categories
Culture

Day 1213 and Acedia

Seat me not anywise upon a chair, O thou fostered of Zeus, so long as Hector lieth uncared-for amid the huts


Homer, Iliad, Book 14, line 427

I’d check the citations on this translation of the Iliad but the old internet is dying so several clicks later I’m still unsure what florid Englishman gave us this version of the Illiad.

While Wikipedia is load bearing for civilization our middle tier universities who host classics departments are….not? I know, I’m as shocked as the rest of you. So how about those Trojans for Israel. Sheesh what an awkward thing to be named right now. Rough time for universities all around.

Anyways, I was going down a translation hole to learn about the seven deadly sins and got stuck on Acedia. Which is how I’ve bumped this quote into our shared history. I hope it aids your journey.

It would seem being depressed is an insult to the gods because you don’t have any right to question their creation of you. I myself find this to be weird mix of Christian moralism and honor culture.

In Ancient Greece acedia originally meant indifference or carelessness along the lines of its etymological meaning of lack of care. Thus Homer in the Iliad uses it to both mean soldiers heedless of a comrade (τῶν δ᾽ ἄλλων οὔ τίς εὑ ἀκήδεσεν, “and none of the other [soldiers] was heedless of him.[3]“) and the body of Hector lying unburied and dishonored in the camp of the Acheans (μή πω μ᾽ ἐς θρόνον ἵζε διοτρεφὲς ὄφρά κεν Ἕκτωρ κεῖται ἐνὶ κλισίῃσιν ἀκηδής

Naturally we’ve demonstrated this lesson of heedlessness in the Anglosphere through the Iliad. Two dudes who seemed pretty horny for each other despite being on a mission to save some hot chick named Helen is a hell of a way to train the young on moralism but you do you.

My Greek isn’t what it used to be but if you literally have to die to get your boyfriend to pay attention I think he might not be that into you.

Who knew self help and the Iliad could so easily be filed together in a mental library. Anyways, it’s a sin to be joyless and you should be heedful of the Hectors in your life before they are gone. It’s what Zeus the old horny bastard would have wanted.