Categories
Travel

Day 1064 and Faster San Francisco

I am energized by my day. Any residual pain from the challenges of travel have been mitigated by rest, exercise, meditation and lots of medication.

If I could to give only one argument in favor of acceleration, it would be our capacity to improve medicine. I’d like to find a cure to my ankylosis personally, but it’s bigger than all that. I believe we should do everything we can to improve the health and well being of humanity.

I do so much to balance my own health and wellbeing just so I can keep working and contributing to the startups I love so much. Often I miss so much of life that others take for granted like socializing together. Hobbies, socializing and much of the tapestry of living together is off limits to me as energy budget is too high.

I’d like more capacity in life so I can chose not only to work, but to go to meetups, dinners and whatever else folks get up to in their leisure and community hours.

I am not one for FOMO while I’m in bed recovering, but on the occasional day where I get to do leisure activities I am reminded that I could have more of life if we agreed to prioritize the acceleration of medicine. My energy budget is only limited by the state of our healthcare.

On that note I’ll be at an e/acc meetup tonight in San Francisco. If you think you see me do please come up and say hello. I’d love to meet you. I’ll be wearing the leopard dress I have come to think of as the “spot me in the wild” outfit as well as three distinct wearables.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 1053 and Revivalism

You’ve gotta have faith.

I am a little surprised to find myself discussing what appears to be a genuine revivalist movement from all walks of life.

“This particular corner of Twitter” is neo-Shakerism. The singularity is always coming is coming for the computer nerds. The rationalists are pitted against futurists. Steely realists admit to having woo sensibilities about the nature of reality.

But we are also being subjected to surprisingly archetypal forms of the hero’s journey in every single news story and social media narrative at alarmingly rapid rate. A rational man is going to want to wag the dog. We do a little kayfabe. The crowd cheers its hero.

But also mere men are elevated to strange statuses. You can believe in a cause but be unsure of the martyrs and mercenaries that fight for it. I feel like if you were really that horny for the Roman Empire you’d have more dates handy on Caesars and the savior and be a little less focused on the Gladiators and the bread and circus.

But we’ve got people who can conjure fire and this time it’s not priests but machine learning engineers who write fan fiction about British Boarding schools that are in charge. The biggest dork you know gets to summon God. It’s not that irrational to worry we’ve summoned elder gods isn’t the of the divine right? Folk stories have some meaning right?

And like sure Bayesian inferences says maybe you should worship a Flying Spaghetti Monster. I say watch out for those Babylon death culture memetics because we didn’t have the right inference field about the sun for most of history. The trickster god can be summoned as sure as the devil. Lets remember information hygiene was not good for most of history so it paid to have some prejudices.

Nevertheless the worship of men has gods has generally been iffy. And so, and I can’t entirely explain it as evidenced by the rambling writing in doing this weekend, but the hive mine of the Internet feels like a real team effort at controlling popular opinion about the arrival of the promised land.

And sure I have recency bias. While I was in Amsterdam for the Network State Conference I was missing a gathering of what amounts to Christian hippie revivalists. Another node of my network that m feels adjacent to both technology and culture was at a Catholic divinity school in Washington D.C. Meanwhile my feed makes whisper jokes of mystery cults and computational power. Worship is powerful. I’ve talked to all sorts of rationalists into new forms of woo and, magic. We speak of queens and divas and witches. Everyone is sure that something is coming and they feel the divine.

It’s within these networks of social organization and belief where I see clashes of power and organization. There are political theorists and economists contending with what a centralized higher authority might do make for more efficient resource allocation. Appeal to authority! We have any number of radical thinkers who are essentially rogue elements of human consensus who are if they seized with a little bit of “agreed on common good” we can revolutionize how we do resource allocation. Central planning is so scientific. Tith!

I feel a little bit like the drama of everyone having access to social media has made us all participate in elaborate fan fictions about who moves the world. I see all over my timeline Zoomers staning over Schopenhauer and Heidegger and Kant as if they were secret movers of history. And they are.

We’ve got a genre of signalling on the internet where if you find a theorist whose mother wrote a nasty letter to him for being socially awkward you’d get people discussing general trauma dumping. Did you understand that? I’m sorry to say you have brain worms and you’ve been trained on a steady diet of rebellion and empire. Be safe out there.

Categories
Culture Politics

Day 1025 and Petit Aristocracy

A swirling milieu of discourse has brought a renewed focus in my inbox & timeline on what constitutes the pursuit of excellence; that old Socratic dichotomy of the individual human’s personal virtues and his role as citizen in the wider communal project of civilization. The tensions have never felt so taut to me.

Please forgive my focus on revanchist populism, but the good of the many versus the singular hero is a subject of fascination for both fascists and socialists alike. Costin Alamariu has set the warrior master return traditionalists on fire as he’s come out from under his nom de plume Bronze Age Pervert with a complex overview of the tyrannical Athenian philosopher kings and their cultivation (yes he means eugenics) of antiquity’s aristocracy.

The Marxists are just as loud. We’ve got authoritarian leaning proletarian sympathizers assessing a Marxist history of “progressive” American Wilsonian industrial fascism. And yes you will believe its philosophical impact on German National socialist ideology.

Everywhere I look, we are all debating whose rules matter, from Nature to God to man, and how we should use that authority to determine how we organize. It’s a bit surprising to see intelligentsia overcome with fervor for the proletariat and the aristocracy when you’d imagine both classes look back with disdain at the academic class.

It’s a ping ponging back and forth between the individual and his wider group responsibilities to his people from every ideological direction.

I see it in Luke Burgis and Freddie DeBoer’s concern with mimetic collapse and the recursive artistic malaise. If our system produces no truly novel art is it a failure of our elites to pursue excellence? Is it among our elites where genius and high culture produced? Or is it the opposite? Do we seek out frontiers when pushed from the boundaries of those who build and work?

Noah Smith weighed in on the extropian enthusiasm of our technical class for acceleration. The bourgeoise middle class of mercantilism has evolved to engineering and information technology to drive resource allocation.

As a post enlightenment matter, a petit aristocracy of the technical bourgeois is the most balanced of the positions between the masses yearning to be free and recognition of a desire for leadership earned through meritocracy lending a guiding hand.

As a journalist, Noah Smith is coming from a more intelligentsia orientation but the message of progressive futurism is coming from the patrician side as well. A venture capitalist like Marc Andreessen might not see himself as an elite aristocrat, coming as he did from humble beginnings, but he’s the standard barer for the titan class advocating for technological accelerationism.

I’ll fully admit to a personal bias for techno-optimism and effective accelerationism. But it could simply be self serving. Venkatash Rao thinks this mass discourse on individual versus collective responsibility is simply a whole new cope for an entangled world in disequilibrium.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 1001 and Circumstances Change, People Do Not

“The last sustainable edge in markets is arbitraging human nature.”

I had the good fortune to spend an hour and a half with an iconic Wall Street investor last week. I was invited to be a guest on Jim O’Shaughessy’s podcast Infinite Loops. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

I’m blessed to have Jim as one of my “Twitter mutuals” where I’ve come to appreciate his endless curiosity, deep empathy and kind friendship for the players of the “infinite game” of life. Plus he’s got the strongest gif game in the business. You should follow him if you don’t already.

I’ve been privileged to work with Jim and the OSV team as one of my LPs in chaotic.capital. Being entrusted with capital from some of finest minds in investing has been as intimidating as it is inspiring.

My fund is an early stage pre-seed venture fund that backs weirdos. Our thesis is simple. The world is increasingly complex, chaotic if you will, and only the most agile will win. We look for those that have the agency to adapt to the one true constant; change. Circumstances changed by the moment but humans remain reassuringly the same.

Obviously it’s hard to imagine a better LP than OSV for chaotic.capital. We are deeply aligned in our thinking on agency, agility, and adaptability. As much as I’d love to prattle on here, I’d recommend you check out the very wide ranging conversations between Jim and I. We cover a lot of ground practically and philosophically. I hope you enjoy it.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture Media

Day 954 and Frame Jacking

It’s a war of all against all on the internet. And I don’t recall being conscripted into any kind of war but here I am up to my neck in ontological shock and crisis of meanings as I read the news.

Language is a virus. And we are all infected. I’ll let Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory illustrate.

It’s our autonomy of mind that is threatened by this unholy troika of smartphones, social media and linguistic weaponization, and there is no more important struggle today than to defend ourselves against that threat.

Humans have nervous systems that are easily hijacked. You give us something to imitate and within a few weeks we’ve learned a new way to get a social advantage. And so we have massive social cataclysms as the rules change. And the rules are changing fast.

This TikTok about a woman accepting an engagement proposal because the vision of the future scares her? It might actually be an anti-natalist campaign by degrowthers or maybe even Chinese propaganda? Who knows.

It’s not as if America gives a shit about maternal health or women but hey here is a podcast about a porn star who specializes in anime’s less savory fetishes. Is your teenage boy an Andrew Tate fan? It’s time to enjoy a reactionary period.

Obviously this has anyone older than forty asking if the western world under attack. Is questioning liberalism actually the psy-op? Are we fighting amongst ourselves? Do you even know what memetic agents you are infected by?

I sure don’t what brain works in carrying but I don’t think animated porn is for me. But I also got taken in by lots of questionable narratives on modern medicine, fertility and children too. Untangling yourself from the desires you were given is exhausting. Good luck unpacking who jacked your frame!

Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 910 and The Chessboard

You can feel it. I know you can. The chessboard is being reset. Pieces are being moved. Gambits are unfolding. Absolutely everyone you know is going a little bit nuts.

I would not be surprised if these small informational disruptions will be recognized as part of a global conflict in a hundred years. I hope my heirs recognize that their mother fought as an information resistance fighters in The Great Dislocation Wars. Or World War 3. Just spitballing.

It’s humorous to me to talk in such a grandiose fashion because the reality on the ground is much of life is just a little bit harder and a little bit worse. But we still presume the world is basically still abiding by the same rules as yesterday.

I often forget how much people don’t want to hold power. The current moment shows a strange ambivalence about wielding anything yourself. Anyone with power is bad right? Well, it’s nuanced.

I want to assure you that your instincts in this matter is largely correct. You should distrust anyone that wants power. Be skeptical of the impulse.

Because being in charge sucks. It’s a shitty job. Anyone who has wielded any power from parenting a toddler to being a CEO probably intuitively knows this.

But once you have been given any legitimate form of authority, choosing to ignore that you wield power is a dereliction of duty.

The trouble with all reactionaries is that they assume once they take over, that their experience of power will somehow be different from the current horrors in charge. If they had bothered to crack open their minds while reading Shakespeare (or Thucydides or the Artashastra or literally any Great Book) they would know all men are subjected to the laws of power.

We lie to ourselves about how power functions because it’s very energetically easy to hand over your power to someone else. To be aggrieved is to have power over those you hold in contempt for exercising their power over you. Don’t be tempted by this trap no matter how righteous your cause.

Once you have picked up the mantle of power you must see through. If your people have given you authority you must see it through or hand it off to someone who will.

It’s very hard to own power. You most likely will not enjoy it. And you will be tempted to shunt off your agency. Just remember that you never carry power alone. It is always in concert with those who have consented to give it to you. Good luck on the great chessboard of life.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 876 and Americana

Americans have a tendency to think of themselves as the cultural norm. The default setting of media and movies and magazines has been the American empire. The world’s taste orbited our empire during nearly all television and cinema. I hear we Americans make our problems everyone else’s problems too.

It’s also a fantasy. Uncle Sam is a marketing gimmick. There is a propaganda machine even if it’s not organized by a sub committee of party loyalists. The vox populi push on our taste and our media industry will show them what is worth mimicking. Marketing works.

So it’s always amusing to see a bit of Americana marketed back to yourself. I saw this street advertisement for what appears to be a sincere sort of western show?

The Bosshoss Electric

I’m consuming an entirely different genre of Americana than someone in Frankfurt. Which I admit I’m not sure I fully understand as I think it’s maybe a sincere musical that has a western sparkly rodeo theme? Again the semiotics on it would require a critical theory degree. Which I guess you could get in the city of Schopenhauer.

Momma don’t let your boys grow up to be cowboys. Rodeo seems like a brutal pastime in a country with no social safety net or functioning medical systems. Maybe that’s why it can be romantic here in Germany. Maybe you’d get medical care if you ever came in contact with a bull.

Speaking of semiotics, I’m rewatching Yellowstone while in Frankfurt. Yes it’s amusing that the yuppie woman reclaiming her lost Western upbringing by moving to Montana is watching a soap opera about land barons outside of Bozeman. Simulacrum. Something that replaces reality with it’s representation. I knew Foucault would come in handy.

Dicke Butz authentic American cuisine
Categories
Community Politics

Day 871 and Collaboration in the Time of Cultural Cholera

Perhaps its a function of being an American abroad in Germany, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the social contract and the expectations we have for free association and collaboration.

Germany’s democratic socialism is abutting against the challenges of global market capitalism and cultural pluralism. And the strain is evident. Frankfurt is expensive and there are many competing populations from refugees to globo-homo cosmopolitans

I think only one in five people I’ve encountered appear to be native born German. It’s almost enough to make me feel like I’m in America. Which is to say I see the in-group and out-group competition clearly.

Different expectations for a civic polity can range wildly depending on the goal. We enable everything from humanity wide medical breakthroughs to individual physical health through incentives both individual and collective. And yes because I’m American I notice shit like who pays for parks and recreation. I also notice soda taxes. Choices are all around us and the incentives make it look like no choice at all.

Humans live at varying degrees of abstraction. Our capacity to go from whole to parts, and parts to whole, depends on education, temperament, intellect, emotional capacity and preferences.

And that diversity of views is what makes it so hard for us to infer what “chunk” of reality our fellow humans see. No wonder we struggle with collaboration as a species. Your fellow man is as sensitive to elite semiotics as they are to casual racism.

Where our new living history takes us is going to depend a lot on how we design incentives for collaboration that provides benefits to participants that are transparent. Otherwise I’d be strapping in for more civilizational struggles.

My aspirations include us finding ways to collaborate across much wider destinies with as much freedom for all can be managed. I’m hoping AI and crypto go hand in hand. High trust and no-trust are our only options at this scale. But like any reformation it threatens the current powers and worldviews.

Categories
Aesthetics Community Finance

Day 863 Abstract The Pain Away

When I was a small child I attended meditation retreats with my parents. Hippies amirite? The particular branch practiced was some variant of Kashmir Shivaism, but I’ve got to imagine it was heavily edited for the consumption of white Boomers.

Who else would take a vacation to sit in silence, chant the Bhagavata Gita at 5am and practice sevā, all while having six year old children? Silicon Valley’s syncretic culture produces some weird hybrids. Seventies counter culture gave us some of the best religious revivals in American history.

If you didn’t catch the word sevā earlier it’s actually going to be the anchor of the post. Sevā as it was explained to me as a child at the ashram is selfless service. It’s work you do without expectation of reward. It is a dedication to others.

Practically it meant that anytime we lived at the ashram everyone contributed some set of work, mostly unskilled labor but not always, in the form of sevā. I did everything from food preparation and dish washing (working a commercial kitchen dishwasher is actually fun) to caring for some donated horses. I had fun summers as a child.

But the point was that everyone participated in some way to the functions of the ashram no matter who you were. And we did have some weird celebrities but that’s not the point. Sevā applied to us all. Though I’m sure glad I never looked too hard at the politics of finances of these ashtrays. Childhood innocence. As a child I just thought it was fun to contribute to the adult world.

But what I remember now is a sense of connection. That no aspect of these retreats was ever abstracted to far from me. The service was meant to bond you to an experience of a world bigger than yourself. And by recognizing that, you’d somehow connect more with others.

I try to remember that now when I am in lonely cities where every aspect of living with others is transaction. A food delivery service whisks you a meal in an hour in a country where you are an outsider without ties, bonds or service beyond the basic civilizational contract of capital markets.

The global cosmopolitan gloss of mobile applications have abstracted service away to the point where we can have an entire day of discourse about a man being sad a house cleaner washed a cast iron skillet but we can’t admit that we all pay for service as it cracks the facade.

We’ve got no sevā because that’s an expectation too great to hear. We can barely manage to pay a fee for service anymore. Imagine if we had to operate without intangibles. We can barely make Uber Eats function with taxes, tips, and services fees. Bless the markets for this freedom and curse it in the same breath.

Fuck the pain away? No, we abstract the pain away. No need to see who contributes anything. You can complain to a faceless chatbot cum customer service artificial intelligence about how some man on a bicycle didn’t deliver your order on time. The service lives below the machine now and has patience for frailty.

And yes I’m writing this because my Korean fried chicken and kimchi order got lost in a side street in Frankfurt for an hour or two.

Don’t worry the corporate entities that intermediated between me, the restaurant and the courier decided in my favor. The customer is always right as long as they have paid the fees to pretend that are lords.

All pain in the above transaction was abstracted away into some governance structure that decided it was worth 25 euro or so. One presumes some public market agreed on the price. I guess I did too. We all did.

Categories
Chronic Disease Internet Culture

Day 851 and May Day

My husband Alex is currently being main charactered on Twitter for posting his distress that the cleaning service we use once or twice a month put his cast iron skillet in the dishwasher.

Spent a year seasoning this guy and a cleaner ran it through the dishwasher

As you will learn from a perusal of the 650 or so quote tweets, this Tweet is horror of privilege, class tensions and social inequality. Division of labor is bad and paying people to do a service you could do yourself is also (inexplicably) bad. It’s my opinion that this response is mostly fear that our capacity to earn a living through labor is diminishing. Happy International Workers Day!

Twitter has been so broken that it’s been a while since I’ve seen a context collapse happen to someone close to me. It’s been pretty fun. I’d almost forgot how ridiculous Twitter can be.

Now, of course, it’s impolite to drag someone on Twitter. But being upset that a professional fucked up a paid service is however kind of Twitter’s whole vibe. Being a cleaner is skilled work. You don’t put cast iron in a dishwasher anymore than you’d toss a wool suit in a dryer. But you can’t take knowledge for granted and Alex fucked up by leaving the pan on the stove.

Alex is sad for to have lost something he values. He is a talented chef and treats his tools with care. The seasoning came from a year of cooking. The skillet can be repaired but a year of cooking only gets replaced by a year of cooking. Loss is part of life.

But as this May Day viral Tweet indicates, any public display or experience that suggests you have privilege of any kind can quickly turn into a dim witted undergraduate seminar where it everyone is failing basic critical theory. Power is complicated.

I’m particularly amused by the jealousy on display as the reason we have a cleaner come once or twice a month is because I’m disabled. I have a chronic inflammatory spinal condition and my husband is my primary care giver. Typically disability is recognized in the wider pantheon of intersectionality as a disadvantage.

But intersectionality isn’t nearly as fun for dunking as inchoate rage. Much better to enjoy a little consequence free social opprobrium by laughing at those awful wealthy startup shitheads who pay for services. Fuck us!

I don’t desire any pity for my disability. But it would be silly to pretend that simply because we came into some money that I don’t have any problems.

Without treatment I was bedridden and unable to walk. So when we had some startup investments exit it was an relief to feel like we wouldn’t be in lifelong medical debt. We hire services as it allows us both to work. And I work because our medical bills are insane. Fun loop right?

Whatever you take away from this, I’d argue it’s good to care about power, community, skills, disability, labor and ending the culture wars. I’m glad this happened on May Day. We will continue pay a living wage to our skilled service providers. We are lucky it’s within our means. We pay $150 for three hours and we will continue to put our money into our community because that’s the whole point of rich assholes. Now go watch some Downtown Abbey.