Categories
Culture

Day 686 and Code Switch

The social contract in America is breaking down but none of us have agreed on the new rules yet. Of course, some populations have never lived within the consensus social contract in America.

And yes there are a lot of Americans that don’t live inside our social contract. Being black or queer (or god forbid both) even in 2022 means speaking a foreign language in your own land. If you aren’t familiar with the term code switching I’d encourage you to look it up.

I’ve almost always lived within consensus norms. At least appearance wise. I pass as a nice white lady with a nice seems white husband. He’s Jewish so only the incredibly woke or the incredibly racist disagree. Though eventually even that protection may give way if we don’t have children.

Code switching isn’t cost free. You’ve got to think about your audience constantly. You adjust who you are based on the acceptable norms of discourse. And it’s an exhausting exercise if you’ve never had to do it.

One of the reasons Twitter has been such a combustible place is that people code switch all the time. If you get caught in a context collapse situation where what you said is fine in one community and heresy in a another you might find yourself getting canceled. Speech norms have always been context dependent.

I’ve recently become more aware of how much code switching I do because I’ve been trying to solve a problem that isn’t considered polite to have in rich stable white American society. If you follow me closely you know it’s related to immigration.

I really need to fix this problem so I’ve been asking around quietly and obliquely trying to sense my way around adjacent communities with rules that won’t turn me into a pariah. And it’s a ton of work. It requires the kind of sensitivity and social graces I’ve previously prided myself on only to discover it’s just the rules for the Western upper class whites. Everyone else knows justice isn’t for them.

As you might imagine plenty of people live with entirely different contexts and social graces than the Eurocentric worldview. And they are all fully and completely aware of the indignities of my problem and the varied ways in which one solves for it. And no one is judging me for it. But it’s been a bit shocking to me. I fully believed playing by the rules would eventually reward me. And of course that’s the real reasonable we code switch. Because different rules apply to different people.

Categories
Emotional Work Finance

Day 683 and Goverance

I’m not a big fan of early stage venture investors meddling too much in the day to day of their portfolio companies. Asking for too much reporting and too frequent board meetings can be a huge source of momentum friction.

But I am a big fan of corporate governance. Even right from the very start. You should have agreed upon avenues for settling issues and disputes from the moment you have assets bigger than an Ikea couch let alone a 32 billion dollar valuation company. A lack of governance structures can lead to deeply destructive behavior even if you aren’t a sociopathic rich kid bent on committing fraud.

As much as it may seem irritating to set up formalities like a full board and agreed upon voting rights structures, you will regret not having it if something goes wrong. And something will go wrong. I’d go so far as to say Murphy’s law is an immutable law of the universe. What can go wrong will go wrong.

The intense pressure of a startup is what turns the lump of coal that is your vision into the diamond that will be worth something in the open market. And pressure is often destructive. People who otherwise respect and trust each other can slowly find themselves deeply at odds.

Just think of your worst breakup and imagine that intensity playing out in ways that impact everything you’ve worked to build. If you’ve ever gone through a divorce I’m sure you understand. Let me tell you a little story about one of my breakups to illustrate why you should set up governance right form the start.

My easiest personal breakup was also one of my worst. We’d moved in together and devised an elaborate set of budgets and savings protocols. We’d combined belongings. We even set up a shared bank account. He was a corporate governance lawyer at a very aggressive firm. I was working a lucrative corporate job but preparing to go back to startups.

While he wasn’t a contract lawyer, he did have enough common sense to suggest we write up a relationship contract complete with dissolution protocols. I thought this was absolutely brilliant which I’m sure tells you a lot about how I operate. Absolutely all of our friends thought we were nuts. Including a colleague and friend who would go on to be one of my board members down the road.

I was in Colorado for my mother’s wedding. I’d expected my boyfriend to join me. But we’d been discovering that all our good faith attempts to arrange the perfect relationship structure was nothing in the face of widely disparate personalities and risk tolerance. No amount of mitigating structure could overcome those differences.

When I came home he’d triggered our breakup clauses and moved out. Everything was done by the governance protocols we’d set out. If I’m absolutely honest I was relieved. My biggest annoyance was losing the Vitamix blender that was his property. As furious and heartbroken as I was at the time, I didn’t have any avenue to engage in my worst most defensive reactionary emotions. Neither did he. Which was extremely valuable as I hadn’t at age 26 gone through the therapy that helps me productively channel negative emotions now.

My ex-boyfriend and I are still friends to this day. Sure it took a few years for us to come around but we’d avoided a scorched earth situation despite the significant risks we’d engaged in by moving in and combining our lives and fortunes after a relatively a brief period. The damage was mitigated by a shared understanding of how we’d manage downside protection and whose rules we’d consider binding.

While I’m sure this sounds a bit weird, I do think it’s a helpful illustration of why even the most optimistic scenarios benefit from guardrails and mutually agreed upon avenues for pursuing a dissolution or change in status.

No matter how calm and rational you think you are, there will be scenarios that trigger deep emotional patterns. If you vomit up those childhood coping mechanism emotions, you need to clean it up even if it feels shameful and embarrassing.

I’d also say it probably tells you a lot that I’m telling you a deeply personal story about a breakup in a personal relationship and not my actual board experiences. There are some secrets you take to the grave and how you failed your business partners tends to be one of them. How they failed you is another. I’ve had reason to be grateful for corporate governance guardrails at all of my companies. Because that is human nature.

So no matter how early it is in your startup journey you should be considering how you’d handle tough times. Set up a board to help you work through and arbitrate disputes. I know you cannot imagine it now but you won’t regret it.

No one is ever fully immune from disagreement (or even disaster) and you owe it to yourself and your partners to set up fair resolution issues from the start. Plus if you happen to have partnered with a sociopath you will appreciate the modicum of protection offered by binding contract law or consensus mechanism contract execution. And if you really want a Vitamix make sure you put that in the contract.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 675 and Muddled Ideologies

Some neu-feminine viral thread arguing women are not meant to work structured 9-5 jobs because of our reproductive cycle hit my Twitter feed today. The author argued menstrual hormonal cycles represents an innate biological need for longer creative and restorative cycles in women. Or something. I am not here to argue biological essentialism.

The thread itself wasn’t all that weird just a bit of a throwback. I am all about working with your normal cycles and not against them but I just can’t get to “this is why raising children and the home is our natural environment.” Normally I’d view this sort of thread as standard natalist “be proud of being a woman” stuff and move on. I even kind of agree that we have ignored women’s hormones to our detriment.

But the way it came into my feed was a bit wilder than your usual retvrn dork. A Christian Nationalist personality that I keep tabs on had retweeted a Nazi larper (no really his avatar is the Gigachad with a Swastika chest tattoo) who had commentary about the biological inferiority of women based on this thread. He made some lewd jokes about how any attempt to live beyond the home and our children was clearly a lie.

This whole mess of muddled ideologies hit my feed just as I was enjoying a bout of PMS anger and I strongly debated responding with a well actually “we also hot chip and twerk” but I wasn’t entirely sure I needed to give them the attention of an outdated meme format. Which is also why I’m not linking to any of it. Sorry you have to take my word for it but you can probably search for it with these details.

The constant thrum of reactionary throwback accounts is pretty typical on Twitter. The casual disdain for anyone outside of your immediate in-group (which in this case was so small it literally excluded all women) has become so normalized it’s honestly not a shocker I’m seeing natalists, dominionists and Gigachad Nazis on my Twitter feed advocating for increasingly wild viewpoints.

Muddled hate is part of the appeal of the internet. But also damn if it’s not also the worst part. But if you ignore and block all of the worst bits you might be surprised to discover that actually people still believe all kinds of wildly hateful shit. And I’d rather know so I can stay ahead of any pogroms. But that’s just me. Don’t forget to vote in the mid -terms!

Categories
Culture Politics

Day 662 and Immobility & Gender

Americans are incapable of getting things done. Such is the popular sentiment of the moment. We are immobilized in some form of national endocrine collapse brought about by too many years of chaos and accelerating change. Our problems aren’t getting fixed and we are all too demoralized to do anything seems to be a popular consensus.

Some folks blame democracy. Some blame the degradation of the balance of power as our executive branch overtakes the legislative. Much ink and chatter is being dedicated to the upwelling of populism and it’s charismatic authoritarians as the solution to our stagnation and immobility globally. Or maybe it’s because we cannot imagine a better future.

I’m chewing on a new theory. What if it’s got nothing to do with democracy or a return to monarchy, or even lie inability to cope with chaos at all? What if history isn’t repeating but rather history has come to a crossroads and women are smack in the middle.

What if we can’t get anything done, because we’ve not come to terms with what power and authority women wield? What if this is mostly a reactionary period about what to do with women? What if the crisis of men is actually a crisis about women? What if all of the insecurities about modernity boil down to we changed gender dynamics quite a bit in the last century?

Populists and neo-monarchists are fucking themselves because they aren’t quite sure how to deal with the middle ground in which they find women. Women are neither fully in charge of the home, hearth and children (single earner households having become unaffordable) nor are they treated as equal actors in the public stage. The answer the throwbacks give is we should return to traditional gender roles. Except that’s not actually an option even if it would help.

Powerful women are at best mediocre ciphers (Liz Truss comes to mind) or one in a million talents (Indra Noyi for instance) such that gender is far beside the point. The middle ground of most American women is a mess of confusion about demographic collapse, loneliness, and the good life.

The Dominionists, Christian Nationalists and various flavors of neo-patriarchal traditionalists believe the solution is simple. Bring women back into the home and to the elbow of their menfolk. Men are obligated to the public sphere unlike their women for whom it shouldn’t be a concern at all. Which seems like a strange approach to problem solving. Return to only half the planet having authority.

This is a bit like putting the genie back in the bottle as we’ve got a full century of women’s suffrage under our belt and two generations of women working outside the home. Capitalism in particular loves women workers.

Combine that with the degradation of men in modernity and you start to see some of the challenges. All of our status markers suggest it is better to be unmarried as a woman than married to a loser. That didn’t used to be true but birth control and third wave feminism probably made it so. And in late stage capitalism most men are being framed as losers, lacking the soft skills to navigate corporate politics and higher education.

I frankly haven’t the slightest idea what anyone is supposed to do about this. Accordingly to the viral Female Delusion Calculator (funny how there isn’t a reverse option) my husband doesn’t exist at all demographically. But then neither do I.

So one can’t really be looking to some globalist asshole white Americans to solve this problem. We are the problem according to a large swathe of people. Unless we are the ones capable of overcoming immobility as we’ve got the spare capacity. But I think rich folks running the show been the default state for most of history so fuck if I know. But I do think I’m onto something with gender being at the center of a lot of our issues.

Categories
Medical Politics

Day 656 and Genetic Material Storage

What feels like a lifetime ago, my husband and I pursued fertility treatments. I didn’t have any known issues but we wanted to freeze eggs and embryos while I was still young. At the time we didn’t feel stable or wealthy enough to predict when having children would be feasible. It seemed like the responsible choice to have a backup plan. Everyone we knew was doing it too.

I remember a gynecologist telling me off for considering freezing eggs as she managed medical school with a toddler so surely an easier career like startup CEO would have no trouble with resources for becoming a mother. I never saw her again after that incident. But knowing me the shame I felt from her judgement simply cemented my decision to free my eggs.

But I was equally poorly served by the fancy fertility clinic that glossed over risks and side effects. In hindsight I wish I’d been more concerned about ramifications. I also which I’d listened to my gut which was screaming that this felt more like a luxury shopping experience than a major life decision. The ease with which I was being sold a life where I could buy an insurance policy about a decision that I was ambivalent is almost shocking.

Now I’m faced with another choice. The genetic material needs to be moved to a safe state. In the wake of Roe v Wade being overturned, there is concern that fertilized eggs (embryos) might not be fully under our control as red states pursue stricter and stricter control policies. No one is quite sure how embryos will be treated. And frankly no one wants to find out.

Embryos that were stored in states like Texas and Florida are on the move. Clinics and storage facilities cannot guarantee their safety and usage as too much is still uncertain. Of the storage options we have, only two are in safe states unlikely to be impacted. Minnesota and Connecticut.

We picked Connecticut. Even if Republicans take it over we are banking they will be of the WASPy moderate types who see value in family planning for nice white married couples. Our privilege is at maximum there and that’s worth a premium.

I am so conflicted on even addressing the issue of what we are supposed to do with our generic material. Is this the moment we give up and admit it’s not a life path that we want? The chances of Alex and I have children together are getting slimmer. It’s not impossible but it’s also not looking likely.

My health is stable but I use several pharmaceuticals that shouldn’t be used during a pregnancy. I’d need to be on bed rest and dosed off everything to proceed with a pregnancy. I’ve been warned I could lose my progress on controlling my autoimmune disorder, the worst case scenario is I’d have to repeat the last four years of stabilizing treatment. I would be in a lot pain that couldn’t be treated for the duration.

Needless to say I’d not be able to work during the pregnancy and possibly for an extended time after. It feels perilously close to a choice between living my life and organizing my entire life and healthcare for a child I don’t even know if I want. It might be a permanent off ramp from work as the recovery would be significant. Everyone says you will regret not having children but I’ve only ever met people who regret having children.

At which point I have to admit to myself I don’t want children so badly that I am willing to be physically debilitated for another five years. I am so excited to be living a semi-normal life where I can pursue my personal and professional goals. The last few were hard. Perhaps we could pursue surrogacy but that suggests a level of wanting children that I just don’t think either Alex or I have. Because neither one of us strongly desires children this additional effort and cost simply to preserve our own genetic material isn’t under consideration. If later on in life we find our preferences changed we are both comfortable adopting or raising children not related to us genetically.

Perhaps the problem was that we never strongly wanted children in the first place. Maybe that shitty gynecologist was right. If we’d wanted kids we would have found a way. Instead we bought an insurance policy. And now that insurance policy is a scary liability with an uncertain political future.

With the way America is headed if we don’t move the embryos to a safe state now it’s entirely possible the government will decide we actually already have children. Unborn children. Who might have more right to life than I do. To be honest that’s an ethical question I don’t have an answer to. All I know is that I am absolutely not willing to let the government decide if it is my life or the embryos. That’s between Alex, myself and God.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 637 and Loyalty

I was discussing with a friend their planned to trip to London to capitalize on sterling parity. The pound and the dollar being worth the same amount is an opportunity for American travelers. The conversation turned to optimizing for travel points structures, maintaining status, and other loyalty programs. I suppose anyone who finds traveling opportunities during a currency crisis almost certainly enjoys a good deal and being rewarded for consumption during hard times.

The pandemic upset so many consumer patterns that it’s a little bit hard to remember why we bought some of the things we did in the past. We’ve got vague positive memories and we are attempting to recreate them. Travel is inarguably one of the most confused spaces in the wake of those upheavals. Status got rolled over so when travel opened back up stuff got weird. Lounges got more crowded just as business travelers were being removed from the financial base of the space. It led to a lot of chaos this summer as the economics got reliance’s.

The most loyal travelers got back on the proverbial road in the aftermath and were met with materially worse products despite paying just as much as the remembered in the past. For all of the rich yuppies who showed up to say Italy or other Mediterranean vacations, they were reminded that travel wasn’t so glamorous without the perks. And it certainly made more than a few of us consider the economics of being on the road.

There are other industries where loyalty is being rewarded with worse producers and shittier user experiences. I’ve been experiencing quite a bit of disappointment with the offerings in cosmetics recently. I’ve complained endlessly about shittier packaging and lower grade formulations even though I haven’t really cut down my spending any. Like the loyal travelers, I am putting up with less quality as I don’t really want to simply stop a hobby I enjoy.

But how long will residual loyalty and affection remain? If travel to London must be combined with currency debasement and travel rewards perhaps our loyalty is not endless. Consumers often underestimate our power with industry because it takes them some time to adapt. But if we don’t change our behaviors in response to dwindling quality or service the incentive structures don’t force improvements. The balance is cost of loyalty.

Categories
Aesthetics Community Preparedness

Day 628 and Intensity

If my brain is a sponge I think I’ve been sopping up more than I am designed to handle. But I am holding on and facing a lot of new information and acting on it quickly.

I’m at a wilderness medical first responder class. And I’m the odd duck out on the class. Everyone else is living with much harder realities than I do. They are the ones that fight our wars. Provide our security. Fight our fires. They keep up with where our most vulnerable live. It’s an on the margin make your best call world.

My body can feel that this reality is very different from what I live with and on different class and wealth bands. People that are more buffered from harsh realities often don’t want to face the costs of our lifestyles. But we are not in a morally neutral systems. And a lot of violence still happens on the margins.

I feel somewhat invigorated by the immediacy of decision making in these chaotic environments. If you are in a natural disaster like a wildfire your capacity to react calmly under extreme conditions is a given. So naturally we arm these people with more agency and skills as it’s a set of problems with a lot of nuance and grey areas too.

I am frankly exhausted even though I didn’t do anything that intense. I did some traumatic brain injury drills. And I worked on how to properly stint and secure broken bones if you are in the back country and need to hobble back in to society. I learned a lot about agency and context and the need for high emotional intelligence as you cope with those who are in need or duress.

I suppose with that in mind, it’s no surprise that I’d like to enjoy a good long night of sleep and a big breakfast in the morning. One has got to enjoy living when you have the chance.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 599 and The Lamentations of Their Women

A bunch of people asked me about what happened to me on Twitter over the weekend. I’d been hitting a bunch of different niche communities like startup Twitter, finance Twitter, doomer Twitter, and discourse Twitter with a thread that has a bunch of extremely extra and occasionally outright hostile weirdos saying reactionary shit.

I think it all started when my friend Ashley wrote a post about the commodification of women’s bodies. She was responding to another piece of discourse and found herself getting dog piled by one of the most irritating but unavoidable portions of the the internet; reactionary angry young men.

I didn’t like that Ashley was getting ripped for functionally agreeing with right coded, socially conservative men. I thought “damn, you can’t win with them”.

Entering the Fray

I decided to jump in and tease some of these boys. My inner child loves to shitpost as she finds humor and playfulness protective. I promptly got blocked. I went about my business. Now that I live on our homestead in Montana, I’ve got a lot of chores.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I kept discussing the damn discourse. I expressed my concern that we’ve got such an intense population of reactionary young men who act as if they are perpetually victimized. I expressed empathy for how men are getting screwed and mostly got told it is women’s fault. It did some numbers but it wasn’t going into a context collapse situation just yet. Basically another day on Twitter.

The thread started out with all of the empathy and good faith I’ve come to expect from niche Twitter. We avoided purity politics. Tucker graciously discussed his own journey and how he let go of anger and began taking responsibility for himself and his family. Jack made some jokes. A number of internet friends discussed the varied ways they handled the systemic discrimination that some masculine virtues experience in modernity. Much wisdom was shared about how different they had grown up to be men.

Later that night I wrote a throwaway post about how we’ve got a crisis of masculinity and maybe only other men can get through to angry young boys? I suggested that perhaps right coded men who discuss modern masculinity would have an easier time reaching them. I tagged Tucker Max and Jack Murphy as men who seem to have done a good job taking responsibility for their own lives.

I basically went to bed with a sense that people had been good to each other. And I didn’t really notice being quote tweeted by a niche main character in groyper Twitter or what it would mean for my tomorrow.

It Escalates

His thread contained the following:

  • A very intense discussion of the ethics of doing butt stuff and posting about your experience with polyamory and cuckcolding.
  • The ethics of charging for coaching and clubs and whether one can have masculine virtue if your wife sleeps with other men.
  • A surprising amount of hysterics about what constitutes hypocrisy if one claims to be masculine.

Basically a bunch of people who haven’t figured out their own shadow lives told me exactly how uncomfortable they were with other people’s sex lives.

But honestly it was just so much fucking butt stuff.

Unfortunately that visibility of discourse meant I suddenly got flooded with harassment. A coordinated re-tweeting campaign began. People started digging into back posts and old news headlines. My direct messages got flooded with threats against me and my husband. It was definitely enough that we started thinking about security around the homestead.

I can only assume someone’s group chat or some message board was like “look at the phenotype on this bitch”. And to be fair, some people came with good jokes about venture capitalists moving to Montana. But then there was the graphically racist, as in, “oh we still have Nazis” plot twist. I realized I might need to actually start blocking people. I felt modestly disappointed as I hadn’t been dogpiled in a long time. But protecting myself was more important.

Why

Now you can ask why am I even stepping into these spaces if they contain this kind of abuse? What can I say there is a part of me who enjoys a frisson of danger. The feminine urge to protect our menfolk often runs head long into the reality that they can be dangerous. Walking into male spaces has inherent risks if you take up space in public life.

I have to be honest honest with myself that there is a breed of men who considers all public spaces to be male. I am an offense to them even if I am in the process of lamentation for our men. The space I take up by existing with different preferences is proof enough I am an enemy to be subjugated.

So I guess I owe anyone I teased about blocking on Twitter an apology. There are some people in too much pain out there. And I am not in anyway responsible for their emotional health. Only they can choose to let go of the pain.

Categories
Politics

Day 598 and Reactionaries

I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to engage with a bunch of disposed reactionary young men on Twitter this weekend but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I took some pleasure in it. Cognitive dissonance and copium can feel like an amusing game if you don’t think too hard about the pain behind it. And I saw a lot of pain in the responses to me.

My husband asked me if we should increase security at the homestead. I told him I wasn’t sure if these boys were up to more than larping but in truth I’m not sure if teasing groypers and trolls is dangerous or not. The real danger is civilizational. We’ve got angry, disaffected, and emotionally violent men with nowhere to go and nothing constructive to do. Our politics reflects it but only barely.

What happens when the reactionaries go beyond Roe v Wade and clip the wings of democracy? Will the 19th amendment be up for discussion? You’d be surprised at what the discourse is considering at the moment. For all the whining about cancel culture, we’ve never had so much open consideration of rolling back modern liberalism.

I guess I’m glad that we are having conversations about the success of our current political and civilizational social contracts and whether or not some of our choices were failures. But if any of these boys thinks I’m giving up even an iota of the freedom to be responsible for my own life, well, they have got a surprise coming in.

Categories
Politics

Day 594 and Feminine Mystique

I spent my morning desperately trying to distract myself from the pain of menstrual cramps. It’s my first period being without the luxury of living on a city sewer and I am modestly grossed out by having to roll up my tampons in toilet paper and toss them in a tiny trash can.

If you haven’t had your own private septic system, well here is a lesson in rural living. You can’t be putting big globs of cotton into them. Technically you shouldn’t be flushing tampons into any kind of plumbing anywhere. But who amongst us hasn’t done so. Flushable wipes are a lie that big butt wipe has put a lot of marketing dollars into.

Were you uncomfortable reading that? I bet you were. The indignities of embodied life are plentiful but we especially dislike hearing about women and their reproductive system. Don’t trust an animal that can bleed for three days and not die amirite?! Something super mundane that is the reality for half the planet is treated as incredibly foreign and disgusting. I totally love how it makes me feel like a monster just for being human.

I am feeling this particularly acutely because the discourse around women and their rights is at a nasty place in America. We are barely a month out from Roe v Wade being overturned in America and the horror stories are pouring in. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal some unattractive realities.

And I’m not even talking about just abortion. A whole slew of reactionary positions are being floated by the Moldbug crowd and spun up into adjacent meme spaces by feral readers of Bronze Age Pervert. They are happily chatting away about the failures of liberalism and chief amongst them is women’s right to vote. It’s not at all shocking to hear open discussion about how the franchise should only be open to land owning heads of family. So naturally sorry women. It just follows.

I’m getting a lot of pushback from more progressive men (and by that I mean anyone who thinks women voting isn’t up for debate) on my feeds absolutely confident this isn’t happening. No one could possibly believe this they assure me. It seems so shocking to them. But I’m here to stare back into your soul and say “honey please.” It’s all up for debate when people are hungry and angry.

But since you need convincing. I’m telling you that regular people with normalcy bias have already decided I have less bodily autonomy than you. What makes you think these reactionaries have any respect for my franchise if you didn’t even notice the right to chose mattered.

It’s offensive to say this as women have never had more rights but also I’m still a second class citizen. And I’m a white married lady so I know how fragile my perch is and how very high in this delicate dénouement of the battle of the sexes. Progress is fragile. Branches can snap.