Categories
Preparedness

Day 498 and Safety

The reality is sinking in that my husband and I are actually moving to Montana. And it’s unleashing all kinds of powerful emotions and realizations.

Alex told me he’s much more willing to honestly look at unpleasant political realities in America. He’d been ignoring the news for fear it would distract him. But even if Trump wins another term, the populist wing of the GOP sweeps and Roe is overturned, at least we are safely in the demilitarized zone of the inter-mountain west. Want to fuck with us? You are armed. We are armed. Let’s keep it polite. Our libertarian preferences might still have a chance out here and if not it’s awfully hard to subdue gun toting mountain people.

That libertarian zone means business gets done. The important work of capitalism doesn’t stop because of conflict or silly culture wars. The companies that will do the best will be the ones that can get away with ignoring culture wars and focus on making stuff people need to keep their lives afloat.

We also feel safer about our personal resilience. We will be less reliant on failing electrical grids with backup power from both solar and fuel generators. Considering the warnings being issued for this summer’s black outs and I suspect we will be glad to be less dependent on the grid. I’ll be glad to be somewhere cool where my air conditioner won’t be going out. And in the winter I’ll have a wood burning stove. I’m excited for having a stream on the property along with a pond and a well that does 25 gallons a minute. I look forward to making it a home that has backups for any emergency.

I’m also a big believer in traditional skills. Having a close relationship to the land benefits our bodies and souls. Putting time into the natural rhythms of the planet keeps us healthier. I want my circadian cycle to be nurtured. And if I am ever so lucky to grow some of my own food not only is that good preparedness but it’s certainly next level wellness shit. I want that kind of power for me.

The kind of safety and sense of security we are accessing with a homestead will help us access our deep talents. There are no excuses anymore to ignore the instabilities in our dusky lives. The crumbles have arrived. And I’m so deeply relieved we are finally taking the right steps to live with them.

Categories
Politics

Day 488 and Life

I woke up today feeling betrayed. I’ve never been concerned that my reproductive health would be decided by anyone but me. It’s been a luxury not to fear my own body knowing I had a right to chose for myself. It was my belief my family would do it’s own planning.

And we did plan. We did fertility treatments and it went catastrophically badly. Four years later I’m just barely stabilized from the attempt to extract eggs and freeze eggs and embryos. The vast majority of people have to cope with our reproductive health in some capacity. Having a family is pretty standard issue. Mine just happened to be a little more dramatic than average. But I never had to worry if it was my life or my unborn child. Or who would get to chose. I never got that far and now I’m a bit afraid I never will. I’m afraid to be pregnant in a world where my health decisions are not my own.

In case you missed the news, last night someone decided to leak a draft opinion from Justice Alito (supported by the conservative justices but without any indication where Roberts stands) that would overturn Roe vs Wade. Abortion would no longer be a federal question but devolve to state authority if Roe is overturned. After 49 years it looks like a major reversal is possible. To be clear it is a draft and while Chief Justice Roberts confirmed it’s authenticity, he said it’s not final or representative of any current justices or the courts final authority.

But it didn’t fucking matter what anyone intended. Chaos has absolutely ensued as various parties look to assign blame for such a massive breach of judicial norms. Everyone is jockeying for position and speculation is rampant. A topic like when life begins is guaranteed to generate strong emotional response. Who gets to decide is a big question. But I’ve generally fallen onto the side that the woman has autonomy over her own body. A fuck ton of other people felt about the same as I did. I’ve seen social media erupt in fear and hurt.

I’ve got very complex feelings on abortion. I’m against it in principle (and I’m deeply grateful I’ve never been faced with that choice) but I am not convinced a fetus is a person. Lord knows if an embryo is a person I know I’d have a very different opinion. I’m not even sure I would have been comfortable doing IVF if I thought an embryo was a person.

This is all complicated by the fact that I don’t think any of society’s crucial issues should be legislated by courts. They enforce laws they don’t make them. We have a legislative body for a reason. Why won’t we try passing federal legislation for anything? Like honestly I’m sick of the courts having to be a backstop. I think most people are. I just don’t get it.

I don’t fully understand how we build out laws to enumerate natural rights but I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be an amendment. We have sucked at this amendment thing traditionally and I don’t really grasp why.

I failed Constitutional Law so my opinion maybe doesn’t count. In my defense, I took it with Will Baude as a fellow classmate as an undergraduate and well now he is is famously a world class constitutional scholar. He absolutely wrecked the curve for my class of twenty. But maybe I understand the issue marginally better than I imagine. Just not as well as say someone tapped to regularly review how the court operates. I don’t know! But at a certain point the contentious shit is going to be an amendment right?

I don’t have a tidy summary to any of this except to say I know this is hard for everyone. I wrote this post because I’m scared and hurting. I can now imagine a world where if I’m faced with crisis like an ectopic pregnancy it’s not clear that the choice to terminate to save the geriatric mother would be in my hands. And I don’t think that’s right.

Categories
Politics

Day 478 and Extremists

Over the past twenty four hours I have spent time in two communities known for attracting extremist viewpoints; immigration reform and education. And I feel a bit demoralized by the level of discourse that I’m having in person.

I attended an event on Friday for an organization I’m excited about as I wrap my head around why the American immigration system is so broken. I wrongly labored under the assumption that our system was flawed and inefficient, but still had the occasional success story. Now I realize it’s a hopelessly broken set of incentives wrapped inside heavy emotional baggage.

I don’t think the average American can conceive of how bad it is until dealing with it personally. And it’s crushing our competitiveness as a country. In twenty years when our population continues to age we will regret not fixing it. It’s actually an existential problem for our country’s future.

But somehow the entire debate centers around comical battleground partisan issues where they argue for the least relatable shit. We will never find common ground if we leave it to the extremes on either side. We are letting a crucial issue get sidelined.

I experienced something similar on the education front as well. Families are arguing over truly crazy shit that you cannot imagine any same adult bringing to a classroom of children. But this manifests in small ways too. We fixate on the purist forms of educational pedagogy instead of being pragmatists about protecting our children’s sense of self.

I only bring this up because sometimes I assume that real life must be better than whatever discourse is happening online. That social media must be reflecting some unnatural tendencies we only see thanks to access. But alas I’m seeing these fights happen in person. In communities that know each other. But we are adopting some of the tenor and habits of “the discourse” with our neighbors. And that worries me a little.

Categories
Travel

Day 447 and For Others

Yesterday I reminded myself that I write for me. The choice to write is one I’ve prioritized day in and day out. Today I organized my entire day for someone else. I regret it.

My Airbnb was supposed to be cleaned today. The owner texted me as reminder to be out of the apartment from 12-4pm for the cleaning crew. I moved my calls and meetings to tomorrow. I decided I’d go to the Zoo for the day.

I rushed to be out of the house before the cleaners arrived. There are still Covid protocols. I felt stressed by the obligation. I have a tendency to clean for the cleaners. Eventually I left and decided I’d go to the Frankfurt Zoo.

I made a bit of a day if it. I took pictures. I browsed. I watched penguins and spider monkeys play games. I saw the tigers. I had a beer and pretzel. As the zoo closed down I headed home sure I’d done my duty for my Airbnb host and the cleaning crew.

The apartment was untouched. Nothing has been cleaned. No one was ever there. Seems my rescheduling my entire work day for someone else’s workday has been in vain. Some excuses were given about sick family members and no one was able to tell anyone what was happening.

I expressed that I wouldn’t be able to rework my schedule again for someone else. That I needed to have my work day. That I just couldn’t live my schedule on someone else’s tomorrow or the next day. I have to mice for myself.

Categories
Travel

Day 436 and Got A Guy

“I have a guy” was the most reassuring phrase my godfather could say to me as a child. I’d be trying to get something done or get access to something and he’d tell me a story about “his guy” and how we’d fix the problem. I decided when I grew up I wanted to be someone that “had a guy” for everything just like my godfather.

Before I give the impression that my godfather is a mafioso I should probably clarify he’s a nice Irish boy from Long Island and is a music agent. But agents do have to solve all kinds of weird problems. Heck, I went to him when I was thinking of getting married but wasn’t sure if I was emotionally prepared and he said “I’ve got a therapist” and well I’ve been seeing Dagmar for seven years now.

Needless to say I’ve prioritized networking as a life skill. Not the grimy kind you associate with parties or LinkedIn, but the sort where I take time to meet new people and shoot the shit. If you spend any time on Twitter you’ve probably noticed my greatest joy is just talking with folks. I follow all kinds. And I’m pretty hooked up because of it. I’m usually only one or two people removed from the person I’m trying to reach. Maybe that’s why venture capital has worked out so well as a career for me. I’m a master of the warm introduction.

But after the last 48 hours or so I’ve finally found an institution that I cannot seem to crack. I’m running headfirst into the limits of what my “I’ve got a guy” skills can do. And that system is the United States Immigration System. Apparently I am just not good enough to get an appointments for a tourist visa. I cannot even imagine how hard an actually immigration or work visa would be.

And I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried my Congressman. I tried my Governor. I tried people that have worked for the state department. I’ve tried folks that work in foreign affairs. I’ve tried rich folks that are immigrants. And holy shit I’m getting absolutely no where. I feel pretty fucking defeated. I’m not giving up but I’m starting to realize that Americans have no idea just how broken our immigration system actually is in the wake of 9/11 and the Trump years. We can’t even get tourist visas done. And frankly I’m angry about it. But mark my words I’m going to find a guy.

Categories
Politics Travel

Day 435 and Coming to America

I’ve had occasion to try to get an appointment at the consulate in Frankfurt. I’m helping someone with a visa situation. And holy fucking shit I had no idea how how hard it was to get a hold of someone, literally anyone, at the state department. Now I grant maybe they are a little busy at the moment but I’ve spent over 10 hours over the past 24 trying to get ahold of a person.

First I tried calling the consulate. I got lost in the phone tree several times. After finally learning the proper branches (it’s four steps in) I was able to get to an operator line. It rang. And rang. And rang. And rang. I let it ring for ten minutes. Nothing.

I decided to try another tactic. I went back into the phone tree to see if there was another number. I kept trying permutations. I hit dead end after dead end. Finally I got lucky. They provided a phone number. I took it down. I asked someone else to listen to it to be sure I hadn’t misheard. Our numbers matched. I called. “Your call cannot be completed as dialed.” Ok weird. Maybe let’s try with another country code. Nothing. If anyone can figure out what 032221093243 is supposed to be I’d very very grateful.

So the phone was a dead end. I began emailing. I was able to find a basic visa email for the consulate. The auto response said it was deleted.

In the meantime I had emailed constituent services at my Congressman’s office. I live in Colorado’s Second Congressional District so I am represented by Joe Neguse. They asked for proof of my address and my social security number. I had no idea if the website was secure but fuck it I hit submit. I got a response from a constituent services person. She said she would reach out to the consulate. Amazing! I felt like I was on a path to victory.

Ok….so now what? I emailed the consul again with a different format on a tip from an internet friend. This auto response had a link to a google sheet explaining how to write an email with the proper code to get a response! I sent in an email with the correct formatting to prevent automatic deletion. This generated an automated response. But that email had a a link to a live chat! Fuck yes! I opened the live chat. A bot responded. I answered a series of questions. The bot decided it was time to send me to a live operator. Please hold for a live operator.

I waited. And I waited. And I waited. After 48 minutes in the live chat box a human arrived. Fuck yes! I explained the situation. He said he would check on appointments. Please hold. I waited for another ten minutes. There were no appointments at all. He explained that this meant there were no available appointments. That sadly 999 days till the next appointment meant that there were no appointments. There was nothing he could do.

The next day my congressional support person emailed back saying she had heard from the consulate. So clearly constituent services works great! Alas the news from the consulate was bad. They confirmed what the live chat had said. There was no appointments to be had. They included the same live chat link. The best advice they had was to keep checking back for appointments but it was unlikely to open up. We could check other cities but most of them also listed no available appointments. And they issued a warning. You cannot reschedule too often as after more than two changes to the system you are forced into a six month waiting period before you are allow to try again.

So that’s the end of my Kafkaesque twenty four hours. With no resolution in sight. If any of my friends have friend at the state department that can figure out how to schedule an appointment for visa services at the consulate in Frankfurt (though we will happily travel to any other German city too) hit me up. Until then I think I’ll be lobbying Congress for a bigger budget for our consular services. Maybe even try my hand at immigration reform.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 421 and Disassociated

My scheduled was packed today. I took several pitches. I spoke with an internet friend about some mutual interests. I did some travel arrangements for a real estate transaction I’m hoping will go my way.

I really felt the need to be busy today. For once I didn’t want to be too immersed in the zeitgeist. I somewhat dreaded checking Twitter. I actually listened to a whole podcast and went for an hour long walk in the freezing winter cold. I spent some time organizing my calendar for next week.

I’m rarely this task oriented. I generally need spaces that are open where I can lay down and soak up the current moment. I’m usually calmed by the drumbeat of information. I thrive on input.

But I couldn’t bring myself to be online. The Russian invasion of the Ukraine is too unsettling. The implications it has for a changing world order. The instability it represents. The second and third order impacts my mind can only grasp out but not fully see.

So I’m going to order some takeout. Maybe something fried. And I’ll watch Netflix. And I’m pretend that I’m comfortable in this consumption mediated disassociation. And I’m going to assume that it’s normal. Because my life is absolutely fine but I’m bearing witness to a tragedy being played live online.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture Startups

Day 414 and Empire’s End

Being at a crypto convention in 2022 is something else. It’s full jubilee at the end of the world shit. You are surrounded by millennials and gen-zers who know in their gut that their future has been stolen from them. And instead of being pissed they decided to build. And they decided to gamble. And it’s not clear which one is which sometimes.

You’d be forgiven being a nihilist right now. Capitalism looks like an excuse for the oligarchs to consolidate state and private power to enrich themselves. Everyone is soaking in student debt and working shitty interchangeable jobs for corporations owned by private equity. No one can afford a house. No one is stable enough for a marriage and children. Our fucking parents won’t retire and won’t listen to reason when we say their neighborhood needs more housing density.

But if you are in crypto the future looks pretty rosy. You are discussing real estate for your second home and the tax advantages of different jurisdictions. Swapping stories about your friend who accidentally didn’t set up estate planning and his company had a big exit and now he’s got to pay full rate to some expensive Democratic run city and state. If you are at the nice cocktail parties you are building the future and the venture capital is flowing and it’s possible that this is the next big wave of innovation. It’s time to fuck around and find out.

But not everyone in crypto is part of the smart money. Not everyone has institutional backing and the professionalization of long time startup operators coming to build real value. Right right below that success is a teeming horde of brutalized and completely marginalized people who are praying they hit it big on some new coin or hot new NFT project. They saw Bitcoin and then Ethereum go to the moon. So now they are praying to the full moon and hoping they ape into the next big thing.

But what’s scarier is that the prevailing attitude is who cares if it’s risky because no one believes they are going to have a future anyway so you might as well gamble. They might get lucky and build the next Google if they join the right DAO and buidl. Yes I typed buidl. I’m a degen too. I’m a doomer that isn’t convinced the empire is going to hold for much longer. And if I’m going to watch it all crash down I want to be a part of building something better for all of us. Maybe we get lucky and innovative faster than the apocalypse. To be fair, humanity always has in the past.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 403 and Hurt

It’s ok if someone hates me. It’s ok if someone thinks I’m bitchy, stupid, obnoxious and self serving. Hell I’m ok if people think I’m a lesser human being. Which judging by Twitter could be a multitude of reasons ranging from “I’m a woman” to “I’ve got bad taste in tv.”

I am alright with you not being alright with me. My existence is not threatened by your philosophy or personal preferences. My existence is only threatened if you literally threaten me. Call me evil if you like. I’m not offended. Until you take an action against me it’s alright that we disagree. Even if the disagreements are existential.

It’s quite possible this is wrong. I’m open to debate on what constitutes harm. In fact, my entire philosophy centers on that debate being fine. I can take it. I actually pay someone to cuss me out for being stupid and then I pay again to spend time in a group where we regularly tell each other how much the group members anger us. It’s called therapy.

So take that as context when I say I wasn’t particularly personally hurt by Brantly Milligan, aka Brantly.eth aka one of the ENS Foundation cofounders, suggesting women who use contraception are perverts. I’d probably be a lot more hurt if I was a gay trans woman who had an abortion though. But I figure that demo might be used to being called evil by Catholics at this point. Like maybe it’s more of an annoyance than existential threat if you are wealthy and privileged enough to be working in crypto. We aren’t really a population that is hurting

Brantley.eth “homosexual acts are evil. Transgenderism doesn’t exist. Abortion is murder. Contraception is a perversion. So is masturbation and porn.”

The Ethereum community is experiencing this speech with a lot of pain, hurt and anger. Brantley was voted out of his contract with True Names Limited the foundation that manages ENS Domains. But he remains one of the largest holders of tokens and will obviously have plenty of influence over the future of the platform. The debate has become one of cancel culture versus DAO governance working as intended. But the split on that is not clean and it’s not always clear where people will fall. An informal poll on my timeline is pretty evenly split.

Twitter poll asking if Brantley termination is governance working or cancel culture.

I’m tempted to assign him my tokens as a delegate to be honest. Though I won’t because I think he’s unprofessional. But I want to because I don’t love how any of it played out. Brantly doubled down on telling folks to fuck off compounding the feeling of being hurt. That’s unprofessional and not the kind of behavior I’d expect out of my management team. But I also don’t know that simply holding unpleasant or intolerant beliefs is enough. And it shouldn’t be in a decentralized system. I respect that the right voting and governance may have happened here but I’d argue we all want more control spread out over more people for exactly these scenarios.

I think Brantly basically Shrekli’d himself by doubling down on asshole antisocial shit and the DAO equivalent of the Feds coming for you happened. You can’t attract negative attention and be shocked when bad shit happens to you. But I don’t think being a retrograde weirdo is enough on it’s own to get you booted from an ecosystem.

The entire reason I’m walking you through this sensitive topic today is that I am committing my year to self love. And you might think how does self love and DAO governance overlap. But I really do feel empathy to everyone involved in ENS and the ethereum ecosystem right now. The pain of feeling like you are not seen and loved for who you are is primal shit. This is core human nature “do I belong” to my tribe stuff.

If you don’t love yourself than you are going to have a reactive stance to something that questions your morality and worth. And I’m guessing a lot of people are reactive judging by the uproar. But the thing about self love is that you just won’t be as hurt by assholes being assholes. Because you’ve taken care of yourself first. So whatever the right and just outcome of this ENS governance issue, I think it’s important we all check in on ourselves and why we reacted in the first place. Only then can we get on with the business of design the future and it’s technology.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 393 and Red Pilled

Maybe three years ago William Gibson was promoting his new book. It was the last event I attended in a pre-pandemic world so it stands out to me. He gave an interview where he mentioned reading a novel by Hari Kunzru called “Red Pilled” and that he found the plot as a plausible near future.

I immediately bought a copy as I’m heavily influenced by the prescient near future work of @GreatDismal. The book was about a member of the blue check media class slowly going stark raving mad because of an elaborate right wing alt-reich troll farming operation. It was uncomfortably clear on the kind of elaborate cultural war tactics that goes into pilling normies. Dank memes and slowly you are accepting the aesthetics and touchstones of former Reich minutiae or Nordic runes or pick your mythical volk white mythology. Memes are dangerous gateway ideology kids.

I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. Then I lived through the pandemic becoming an elaborate death cult ritual with totemic significance for both warring sides. I realized we are in the middle of a massive meme war for the soul of internet culture and most of us don’t know we are victims yet.

Walk down one wrong hobby hole on Reddit and suddenly you have become friends with folks with more than passing fascinations with authoritarian culture. Honestly it’s freaky as shit and I’m absolutely socially friendly with people who don’t think I’m a fully autonomous sovereign individual. And yes I mean both socialist Soviet apologist Tankies and TradCath beach fascists.

The latest example of mass hyper object cultural murmurations might be the Bored Ape Yacht Club. And not in the way you think! It was brought to my attention by Venkatesh Rao and he clicked together some signs I’d registered but not processed. It’s entirely possible someone pulled a QAnon semiotic culture jacking with everyone’s favorite NFT project and made it so we all consumed a bunch of Nazis culture.

Which sounds like a deranged conspiracy theory by woke activists but might actually be true. Someone did quite a bit of homework on the BAYC aesthetic history and it’s connection to racist reactionary political traditions, but it’s inherently unreliable as the story is being told by another elaborate culture artist. Who the fuck knows? Are there even sides to this kind of culture war? Can I be a conscientious objector?

If even a fraction of the wild associative leaps are premeditated it would be a kind of aesthetic scandal on par with the country electing a reality show host. A couple nRX message-board fascists cosplaying as Zombie Nazis grift 4 billion dollars in market place from venture capitalists and gullible celebrities. What a collective failure to repudiate literal Nazis! Lol. Maybe this means our unconscious might think some of this is right? Oh god maybe we did read a human biodiversity essay that made a convincing point. We seem to be a lot closer to black pilled. Fuck. Is this psychological warfare?

Honestly I hate this fantasy so much I hope it ends up being the largest milkshake ducking in history. Except at the end a whole bunch of us end up simping for the technical value of a bunch of Hitler memes. Fuck I’d die if this is how we all got pilled on antique fascist aesthetics. I’d love it even more if Peter Thiel were involved so the left wing conspiracy types could build their own QAnon metaverse. Already we’ve been warned about meme magic and the spiritual traditionalism that is animating a global new right. And I’ve got to be honest some of the threads going around have some elaborate research and narrative work. It’s propaganda level and designed to be compelling and confusing.

BAYC is of the most intricate hidden trolling campaigns in history created by very intelligent 4chan-related trolls who have hidden lots of nazi and alt-right innuendoes across the collection I’ve gathered enough proof to confirm it.

I honestly have no idea who is playing who in this saga. I’m think @vgr is probably right that even the terminally online struggle to make sensible or legible this level of signaling. So we brush it off. But it’s going to be an inception vector. So be careful when you react to an event. You might be primed to respond to their propaganda and not even know it.