Categories
Politics

Day 1219 and Right To Cause Chaos

There is a lot of noise at the moment. But occasionally a single event is so loud you can’t help but overhear it. America’s President Joe Biden caught my attention with this rather singular statement.

“There’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos”

I am not well informed on this current situation as the last week or so I’ve been outside of the American news media bubble. I am not so sure I wanted to become well informed given that is what has reached me.

Chaos is more appealing in the abstract than the particulars. I say this as someone who views the word with more positive valence than is probably accurate to its general meaning and certainly than current public perception.

I believe chaos is increasing and rather than accept its effects as inevitable we must actively investment in our capacity to adapt to it. Building resilience has proven to be a very good investment thesis.

I don’t endorse causing chaos deliberately. Friction its place in the world. So does disruption. I’ll even advocate for creative destruction. But being destructive deliberately has been rightfully called an agitator.

Do we much we need additional agitation in a world already filled with chaos? I don’t get to make that decision on my own but I personally think it’s better to build fixes to the chaos we’ve already got. I don’t need to give entropy any help.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1217 and Triggered

I deliberately put myself into an exercise today where I gave another person permission to trigger me. I mean trigger in the emotional sense.

caused to feel an intense and usually negative emotional reaction affected by an emotional trigger

Merriam Webster

I very much recommend the experience. If we workout our bodies and our minds surely we should consider the value in working our emotions over.

Openly welcoming emotional punches may seem about as sane as welcoming an actual punch but like in all things practice makes perfect. It’s good to prepare with the relevant skills for all kinds of things.

I am not a boxer or martial artist myself but I appreciate fight metaphors and their applications in the power dynamics of life. Much of living feels like a conflict to even the most level headed of us. Which I’m not sure is a title I can claim honestly but I do try to follow the maxim in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Don’t panic”

Douglas Adams

Even if we opted into some level of being available in the rituals of being alive we can find ourselves surprised to be considered fair game in the agendas and power struggles of others.

We are all civilians in our own mind. Sometimes we’ve stepped conflict without even knowing and you’d best keep your wits about you. Consequences for actions have a tendency to come back around for even the most cautious.

So if you’ve got the opportunity to be put into “fight or flight” you might find the opportunity worth the while. After all, everyone’s got a plan till they are punched in the face. So stay safe everyone!

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.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1201 and It Shows On Your Face

I was at the dermatologist today. Despite my age (I am forty) I don’t have much in the way of wrinkles. I don’t have anything deep that can’t be managed with retinol and sunscreen.

I started Botox this year only because I was literally the only one I knew in my age and social cohort that wasn’t doing it. I thought this was a good thing.

But it has recently struck me as sad that I don’t have laugh lines. You’d be hard pressed to find me smiling in any pictures. The thing with tamping down on emotions is that it works in both directions. I don’t get that angry either. I don’t have any laugh lines but I don’t know how to scowl either.

I had to be moved and instructed into position today to get Botox as I couldn’t scowl. What kind of person doesn’t know how to scowl? Isn’t the joke that resting bitch face is the default for white women?

If I don’t smile I won’t get laugh lines. But I’m not angry and so I’m not scowling either. When cut down on variance you cut out the highs and the lows. You lose the good and the bad. And that’s its own form of nihilism. Which we’d do all well to remember. To be shielded from life showing on your face requires quite a bit of resources.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1190 and Fantasy Family

“Do as I say not as I do”

The value of an involved family versus the value of an independent life are not being well reconciled for middle aged millennials and their aging Boomers parents. And it seems to be the source of much hurt.

The sadness of misaligned values

Fantasies of a good family life that the elder generations did not prioritize when parenting their own children are now cropping up everywhere in culture.

“Do what we want you to do not what we wanted to do”

Nowhere is this potent than on the topic of grandchildren. I’ve never had a a lowly reply go as viral as this one.

I understand how much it hurts to have family tell you they value something when they have acted completely contrary to that.

The biggest mismatch I’ve seen with my friends and their parents has been the hope that their parents would take grandparenting more seriously and being devastated when they simply don’t have any interest.

Now guilt & shame over past failures can be overwhelming as someone approaches the end of their time on this earth. Maybe the freedom at the end of life is more important than time with the next generation. Maybe those grandparents don’t want to be close to their grandchildren. Maybe they didn’t want closeness with their children in the first place. Or maybe some people only want relationships on their terms. I don’t know everyone’s personal values.

If a family didn’t live their values with their children when growing up then it’s hard to expect alignment on preferences that were never shown but only told.

I know it hurts to look at these issues in the face. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise millennials that not everyone in our parent’s generation wanted families and children. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise the elderly generation their values have to come with actions.

But coming to terms with failures in our own past is inevitable. And it’s wise to see them, own them and move on. I’ve now seen the values misalignments in every type of family. Married for 40 years, thrice divorced, mixed modern families, upper class, lower class, working class. All families have self deception on what they actually value versus what they say they value.

Families can claim something is important but don’t act like it. Acting like something is important makes all the difference. If you feel misalignment in your own relationships remember both parties have to change and find the relationship that they actually want.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics

Day 1177 and Binge Monomyths

I spent the day on binging a monomyth in service of focusing some attention on where we might be going if this is in fact a Cambrian explosion era. If you need a synopsis I’ll extract it from Twitter if I can find the toolsets. If you know the toolset please share them.

The fellowship of the ring will not doom the hobbits to torment and death

My assumption that property rights underlined some of this still stands. If you’ve been holed up in Middle Earth (me too nice place unclear though unclear if I’m a Hobbit or an elf or a dwarf or a wizard or an orc Or Tom Bombadil) everyone thinks Mordor somehow their pet theory or sin. It is industrialism or fascism or some combination of horrors because history becomes legend and legend becomes myth. I don’t know. Ask an autist.

Hug a hippie. Be kind to a hipster. But fight to the death for the hackers. Or pick a princess who likes trade disputes in the galactic empire. I can’t translate all the monomyths in one day.

Categories
Finance Startups

Day 1147 and Balkan Crypto

I’m in the Balkans for a few weeks doing some scouting and visiting with friends and colleagues. The western Balkans including Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro are known for their occasionally colorful participation in cryptocurrencies.

The region has experienced currency volatility, struggles with central banking and even in Albania a civil war stemming from a financial crisis over government Ponzi schemes.

These negative experience with currency instability, government corruption and sociopolitical unrest has led to a desire to experiment with transparency and decentralization amongst the region’s youth.

The ecosystem is host to serious projects has a talented base of engineers. Ripple is experimenting with a national stable coin in Montenegro. Zuzalu, the two-month invite-only gathering that Ethereum blockchain co-founder Vitalik Buterin led in Montenegro has been a regional hub. And it has inspired a new grants program Zu- villages that strikes me as a cross between network state and a DAO with Gitcoin.

In an editorial in Bitcoin Magazine the founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub summed up the “why”

As a result of years of unfulfilled promises from regional politicians, people of the Balkans are hard to convince about the long-term benefits that can be realized by adopting Bitcoin in one’s life. A low time preference way of life to most people in this region is associated with disappointment and the lowered standards of living that have happened many times before.

Plumski founder of the Belgrade Bitcoin Hub.

Categories
Travel

Day 1140 and Gridlock

I got myself stuck in downtown city gridlock today. Abs boy am I glad I rarely have to navigate the kind of bumper to bumper traffic of an overbuilt city without a grid. It is no picnic.

There is a category of city that has little in the way of urban planning. They may have legacy of a time with much fewer cars when only a small portion of the citizens could afford to drive.

As cosmopolitan creative classes become wealthier they too want to be able to drive in their city. The money pours in to invest in newer developments and more modern amenities get built. But they never really solve the lack of a grid or roads built for driving.

A lack of proper investment in public transportation only compounds the issue.

Attempting to criss-cross a mess of cars, motorbikes, scooters, and couriers all competing against each other with few clear routes is a slog. I hope I don’t have to repeat it again but I fear this is a permanent feature of some cities.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1080 and Hard Feedback

Ego protection is innate. Humans have quite the capacity for engaging in defense mechanisms. As I do my end of year reviews to see what I have accomplished and where I have failed I see my ego everywhere.

The types of ego protection that plague me tend to be with those all too human relationships that are closest to me.

I had to admit to myself that I’d been engaging in entirely unproductive approaches in a close partnership. I wanted more from my partner and I’d express it again and again, but I didn’t seem capable of demanding the outcomes I needed. This was unproductive obviously.

Hard feedback was given to my partner. I had to look into my own motivations for enabling a cycle of letting outcomes that didn’t match our goals occur. My own part in it mattered. We had enforced errors, self doubt, fear and all the other typical buggaboos you might expect in a hard situation.

It can be hard to simply address the hard things head on.

Emotional reactivity is part of our autonomic nervous system. It’s not always right. It’s only sometimes right. And learning to tune it is part of the fun. You want to improve your heuristics over time. You will get more clarity on the world and your place in it. If you wish to persist in feeling anxious and uncertain being passive will have that effect. It literally hurts you. You have agency in deciding to address how you feel head on.

Day 1072 Head-on

Categories
Aesthetics Politics

Day 1052 and Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

My mother is a real free thinker hippie iconoclast type. I’ve written extensively about my hippie Whole Earth Catalog meets Silicon Valley progressive technologist upbringing if you’d like to get a taste.

Her generation’s history of counter culture and inevitable rise to power has many cautionary tales we’d do well to review. The limits of starry eyed optimism and the cold hard calculations of power play out in every generation, especially as they age.

I recall her support of Ross Perot in the 92 election only to find us swept up as a country in the Clinton victory. The Clinton repurposing of a 1977 Fleetwood Mac song as its campaign anthem remains a vivid aesthetic memory from my young childhood.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop”

The oddest element of this memory is that while the Clinton victory song may have won as core memory, the deeper aesthetics of the losers have a more visceral hold. My mother’s favorite song was actually used as Ross Perot’s campaign song.

The two must have shared some kind of fatalist streak about America as both chose Patsy Cline’s love ballad Crazy.

My mother can really belt out the pain and agony of Cline’s lyricscrazy for trying and crazy for crying and I’m crazy for loving you.” I can sing it too thanks to the mimicry of childhood.

Maybe I’m crazy too. Maybe we all are. Because Perot, Patsy and my mother got to the punch of the Clinton victory and America’s love affair with thinking about tomorrow.

I knew you’d love me as long as you wanted
And then someday you’d leave me for somebody new

“Crazy” Patsy Cline (written by Willie Nelson)