Categories
Culture Politics

Day 644 and Status Equivalence and DAO Leadership

Capitalism has largely been a triumph of hierarchy as an organizing mechanism. As we evolved from mercantilism into corporatism, appointing and holding accountable a single point of failure in a chief executive officer has become an effective shortcut for managing complexity when deploying capital. Leadership is responsible for the outcome.

The aphorism “failure is an orphan but success has many fathers” abuts against the reality that while we love to lavish praise upon executives, monarchs and other singular nexuses of responsibility it’s often not reflected in reality. Our bias in the post-industrial revolution has been towards leadership via individual even as post Enlightenment values valorize democracy and community participation. It’s been a tension for since the Industrial Revolution. America exemplifies this as the country most committed to both participatory federalism and corporate capitalism.

I am particularly interested in this tension as I believe we may be on the crux of larger organizational needs and are seeing them begin to coalesce in crypto. As decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, make an attempt to become the new corporate governance structure in Web3, it seems worth studying the question of whether leadership is a singular or collective exercise for humans.

What does the historical and anthropological record have to say about how we organize? What are we evolved to prefer and are we capable of evolving further?

The bias we operate with now is great man theory. But what if that is not just wrong but not even the predominant form of human organization through history? Critics of cooperation might do well to explore this in particular.

I came across a Rob Henderson blog post which is an extended overview of a piece of sociology Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior by the UCLA anthropologist Christopher Boehm. According to Rob’s post, the main question of this work is whether humans are by nature hierarchical or egalitarian. And it turns out our hunter gatherer forefathers were mostly egalitarian. The bulk of our history is egalitarian.

The anthropological record along with research on extant modern hunter-gatherers suggests that for most of human history we have been egalitarian, defined as “status equivalency among the decision-makers of a group.”

Rob Henderson reviews Hierarchy in the Forest

If you extrapolate this into a modern corporate context, the C-Suite or executive team, or perhaps even the founding team, are roughly the status equivalent decision makers. Maybe there is a first among equals in the CEO or founder but they can, in theory, be replaced by a board. But what if instead of a C-corporation you are managing a cooperative like a DAO? What then?

Apparently we humans are rather good at maintaining status equivalence. Richard Wrangham’s Goodness Paradox discusses how humans have self domesticated to avoid too much resource and power aggregation.

Over time, early humans eliminated those who were overtly aggressive. They killed or ostracized upstarts hungry for power; men with aggressive political ambitions. Other men would quietly organize to commit collective murder of troublesome male

Rob Henderson on Goodness Paradox

Moral communities evolve and punish those who deviate from acceptable standards. If you are too ambitious as an individual we swoop in as a species. It seems a bit miraculous in that light that we live in an era of kleptocracy and power consolidation given our tendency to murder upstarts. Great man theory isn’t all that sustainable. Or is it? Perhaps it’s that we asset influence obliquely. I’d wager any woman would agree.

Oftentimes, headmen display “self-effacing” behavior. Headmen and informal leaders usually obtained their roles through talent in hunting or warfare, storytelling ability, or congeniality. They rarely assert direct authority.

Rob Henderson on Boehm

If indirect authority is a sustainable organizational preference in the anthropological record, perhaps corporations are more amenable to reconstruction as DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) through the principle of status equivalence.

The autonomous part seems the trickiest, but decentralized authority inside tribal organizations are at least recognizably human. If as a group we disliked a status or resource hungry “great man” we leaned on the leadership preferences of status equivalent equals and forced you out.

I see no reason we can’t write in similar parameters into a smart contract as an experiment. At the first hint of a rug pull let the burning begin! We are already seeing political battles for resource allocation inside bigger organizations like MakerDAO. Crypto may be a worthy space for experienced leadership to show that figureheads like CEOs or founders are not the crucial lynchpin for progress and stability we believe.

Which would be quite a balm to me personally as I’m deeply skeptical of authoritarianism as a solution for our technical and social problems. I’d much rather we explore the wisdom of past tribal knowledge to guide us than look to a mythical great man to save me.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 641 and Recovery

This might sound a little shocking but I sleep at least 9 hours a night. Sleep is one of the obsessions of the biohacker. If I’m lucky I might be able to get to ten. It’s always a sign of me doing poorly if I am not sleeping a TON.

It’s usually the first sign I am not adequately reserving time to bring down my central nervous system into rest and digest. I’ll stay up till 11pm and then it’s a hop skip and a jump to only sleeping seven hours.

The best combination of effort and exertion for me is only adding in specific necessary stressors during the day and give ample time to recovery. Much of my work requires focus and information processing and synthesis. And that isn’t improved by overwork and exhaustion.

Nevertheless I am still carting around a lot of lessons from my childhood about the value of hard work. More is better. More hours is best. And this is a fine and noble thing if you do work intelligently with your goals in mind. Simple exertion is sometimes the best option. But not always.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 633 and Hospitality

One of the things my husband Alex and I were most excited by when we bought our homestead in Montana is inviting our friends and family to stay with us. We have an entire floor of the house dedicated to guests and have plans to turn part of our barn into a separate guest house as well.

We’ve begun the process of designing and furnishing our guest floor. We have two rooms, a bathroom and a separate living room. The furniture is slowing turning up. Which means it is time to work on the details of making it as comfortable and hospitable as possible. Naturally we asked Twitter to weigh in on what makes people feel at home in someone else’s house. And you did not disappoint.

Toiletries

Traveling with full toiletries and skincare can be a challenge especially when flying. Here is a list of the most requested grooming items and toiletries

  • Hairdryer
  • Roundbrush & Styling Tools
  • Shampoo & Conditioner & Body Wash
  • Lotion & Body Moisturizer
  • Skincare Basics (SPF, Face Creams)
  • Skincare single use masks for face & under eye bags
  • Dental Care (Brush, Paste, Floss)
  • Small Individually Wrapped Soap
  • Q-Tips & Cotton Rounds
  • Tampons & Pads
  • Tissues
  • Bandaids & Pimple Patches
  • First Aid Items (Headache, Allergy)

Bathroom Comfort

Grooming items isn’t the only thing that you need in the bathroom. Personal hygiene requires some thought.

  • Trash Bin
  • Dark Towel for Makeup Removal
  • Plenty of Extra Bath Towels
  • Wash Cloths
  • Hair Towel & Turban
  • Extra Towel Hooks
  • Plunger & Brush
  • Bidet and Squatty Potty
  • Septic Care Sign
  • Cleaning Items
  • Extra Toilet Paper
  • Tissues
  • Poo-pouri or matches to mask smells

Organization

Keeping your personal items from overflowing can help make a guest room feel more comfortable. Remember power strips & plugs! Some of the most requested items include:

  • Pens & Notepad & Scissors
  • Desk Power Station
  • Bedside Power and USB
  • Hangers (including pant & skirt)
  • Trays/Landing Zones for small items
  • Coat Hook
  • Dresser & Closet Space
  • Full Length Mirror

Bedding and Sleeping

Getting a good night sleep in a new place can be very challenging. Providing for your guest’s sleep and relaxing needs was a top request.

  • Extra Pillows
  • Hypoallergenic Options
  • Duvet Cover
  • Robes & Slippers
  • Dirty Clothing Bins & Laundry
  • Dimmer & Good Bedroom Lighting (not too bright, preferably lamps)
  • Books & Reading Materials
  • Nightstand Space (w/ power & USB strips)
  • Eye Masks & Earplugs (ideally also blackout curtains)
  • Water Glasses & Jugs
  • Wifi QR Codes
  • Speakers or White Noise Machine

Other requests including desks and working areas. Our current plans are to have adjustable standing desks and ergonomic work chairs in each bedroom. Plenty of landing spaces and areas to keep your items visible but not cluttered (including luggage stands) is also commonly requested. Separate sitting, sleeping and working areas is best. Also a surprisingly large number of people suggested a white board. So clearly our friends like to brainstorm on the road. External monitors and keyboard were also mentioned.

We have plans to write a basic FAQ document that includes things how the house works. We will include details on water filtration (we have an expensive filtering system so you can drink from any tap in the house), where food is kept and expectations on hours and interaction. Also details on things like heating and cooling are crucial for comfort. People should be able to maintain their ideal temperatures for sleeping and working.

We are also planning to outfit the guest common areas (private to guests and separate from the house common areas) with a mini-fridge stocked with favorite beverages and snacks. Having a coffee maker and tea service was a popular request as well. We are also considering extra boots and outdoor gear for city guests that do not have country gear or simply cannot travel with Wellingtons and barn coats.

Another huge area of interest was maintaining health and fitness. We have a full gym including squat rack, pull up bar, treadmill and a Pilates reformer along with mats for stretching and yoga. We’ve got a Theragun, medicine balls & foam rollers. I am also keen to have supplements for basics to keep your immune system happy like Vitamin D, C and Zinc. We also have a hot tub and have plans for an infrared sauna (might even include a cold plunge).

If you’ve got hospitality suggestions we’d love to hear them. And of course if you are one of our many virtual friends we’d be delighted if you’d consider becoming an “IRL” or in-real-life friend by coming to visit us. We are booked through October but would be thrilled to have you come for ski season!

Categories
Politics Travel

Day 631 and Reunion

I normally spend a lot of time my husband. During the pandemic we got very accustomed to being around each other twenty four seven. We quite enjoy each other’s company so it’s been a life upgrade.

But occasionally we take longer chunks of time apart. It started as a deliberate effort, but now as the post pandemic world works itself out travel is starting to happen naturally again. We haven’t seen each other for two weeks. And completely organically.

And we couldn’t have had more diverse life experiences and seen more varied cross sections of America if we’d planned it. Alex was at an investment firm’s CEO summit in Santa Barbara while I was in Billings Montana taking wilderness medical incident first responder training. He was hobnobing with bankers while I was doing “stop the bleed” with wildfire fighters and EMTS.

When we reunited this evening after being apart, and for such disparate types of experiences, it was so much fun to compare notes. The types of concerns and the expectations for the good life couldn’t be more divergent for the two poles of people. And I am modestly afraid that as America polarizes and different industries code for different versions of America that it will be rare for different classes to intersect.

And that’s a real problem if bankers are so far removed from paramedics as to have entirely different interests and ideals for their shared country of America. It’s clearly possible to encounter all types of Americans across all classes but I’m not sure I’m optimistic about enough people making the effort to bring us all together.

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
Preparedness

Day 626 and Learning

I’ve been slowly making my way through a Korean show on Netflix called Extraordinary Attorney Woo. It’s about a young woman with autism who has a gift for the law. It’s warm hearted and charming and a bit of a relief to watch if you have autism or are on the spectrum. I highly recommend it.

The show really pulls on my heartstrings. The episode I am currently watching features the struggles of 10 and 11 year old kids who are at after school academic centers. I won’t ruin the plot but a young man sets out to “liberate” the kids by letting them play. I found myself tearing up the show went about discussing the need for healthy playtime.

I hated going to school even though I love learning. I found so much of the pressures of school upsetting. Being inside, being around lots of people and loud noises, and just generally being obligated to things like homework and deadlines to be exhausting and anxiety inducing. I found myself tearing up watching these Korean kids in similar situations.

I was quite lucky to have a mother who sent me to Waldorf schools and even the occasional home school year. When I could pace myself I’d would rapidly out run the curriculum. I just needed breaks and playtime and my own opportunities to self direct. I hated discipline from the outside but had plenty of my own if given the chance to be self directed.

I’m still an autodidactic type as an adult. This week I am taking a wilderness medical incident certification course. I’ve got some strong sense that this is meant to wrap around some wider learning experience about the practicalities of living in a more chaotic world. It’s a bit of learning by doing. Some perspectives have to be unraveled first hand.

Categories
Emotional Work Uncategorized

Day 623 and Pausing

I am feeling a bit anxious about back to work season. I’ve traditionally had a terrible relationship with work. I’m a workaholic and struggle to pace myself effectively. I particularly love riding on the zeitgeist of a season like the fall as “everyone” is back at the grind and I like to ride the energy of the moment.

But I also need more frequent and shorter pauses than the American work week or season has ever allowed. I’ve always been afraid to take them because I fear being seen as lazy. “Only the morally weak rest” is a truism of English and Germanic lineage well prior to the Reformation. Though that’s kind of an aristocracy needs the serfs working thing.

But Protestant Work Ethic aside, I’m not really cut out for hustle culture. Being disabled, even modestly with something my spondylitis, is like the double whammy of being weak and lazy. I need to maintain a different schedule because I cannot overcome the foibles of my own body? That’s an affront! I’ve got a lot of self talk that basically goes like this

You soft feminine pathetic weak bitch get your ass back to work.

Me to myself. Sadly.

Does someone have internalized issues with feminine cycles? Oh yes she does! I guess it’s not just being lazy but it’s being female and a waste of productive worker all in one body. Super fun! And yet here I am a libertarian and I work in finance. Square that circle my friends.

Capitalism has enjoyed patriarchal structuring because it allows us to categorize the inconveniences of bodies that are harder to regulate. Women in the workforce was a pain in the ass until we figured out chemical birth control I’ve got to assume.

But all these legacies of who is worthy and who is strong and who is valued are kind of bullshit constructs. I can take what serves me. I don’t need to get all up in my head about having a less productive body because who even set the damn standard right?

So I am reminded I can pause without crashing. I choose to pause at my own leisure. I can choose to self nurture so I operate from my own point of maximum strength. I have to chose to pause. A pause is not is weakness.

A pause is like the ocean cresting before the wave breaks. And I can choose to ride that momentum. This is all a part of my own work on not just surviving the current moment but thriving with optimism. It’s peace from strength. While I recognize and even ride the chaos outside, I do not feel chaotic inside.

Categories
Culture

Day 622 and Uneven Bars

I’m not very temperamentally even. I run hot and excited and passionate and I’ve got a mean streak a mile wide. I can only assume the reason I’m so popular with some men is they love a bitch. Everyone does.

It’s not the most appreciated trait in popular culture but it does seem to be the dominate preference of a lot of very intelligent people. At least these days plenty of people both conservative and progressive appreciate the necessity of a ball buster. It’s a status object too. We don’t trust men with weak wives. It makes them look weak.

But I’m not sure anyone thinks it’s a particular good thing for the majority of women to act forcefully. If you hold your ground it can bring out howls of ostentatious victimhood. Which if you point out, they quickly gender the tactic a dark feminine trait of less less powerful that they learned from you.

It’s a really stupid party trick that somehow works well past the age of reason. After about 21 you should have really learned men tell you are weak because they know you are powerful over them. But honestly I still get caught flat footed by it. It’s a fickle power to be wielded without assurance or trust. But it is still a power and it’s insulting women women don’t claim it.

Women deciding to dismiss the uneven hold of their power makes balancing power for everyone a bit of a mess. The default switches from human manufacturing got reset.

Gender essentialism is pretty deep. It’s very jarring for the literal minded mainstream of society in particular. And unfortunately for everyone the world is run by the mainstream and they are prone to revanchist sentiment. Just look at everyone simpering for monarchy. Even if you are above that sort of thing no you are not. And so the uneven bars of progress continue. If you aren’t a realist about it you might get screwed.

Categories
Chronic Disease Politics

Day 618 and Personal Politics

I hesitate to share too much detail about this but, I’m an opioid user.

Actually I’m not hesitant to share that at all, it’s in fact the core salient point I want to make today. I have a chronic disease and sometimes, blessedly more and more infrequently, it can only be effectively treated with pain medication.

Why am I talking about this? And in public no less? Because unless powerful people that have a degree of social, personal and political capital discuss things we deem unsavory we never make any damn progress on humanizing our inhumane responses. And our response to the opioid epidemic is inhumane.

The backlash to the crisis, a mash up of intense scrutiny, government intervention and rigid rules, has now reached a point where it is doing as much harm as the original crisis of overprescribing. And I hope my personal story allows you to see why.

My spinal condition (ankylosing spondylitis) can be so debilitating that the only way I can get out of bed to accomplish basic tasks is by taking a mild opioid called Tramadol. It’s not in the same category as OxyContin or Percocet but it’s not risk free either.

I’m lucky that my condition is relatively well controlled. I don’t need pain medicine all the time and I work very hard on alternative treatments in the hopes that I won’t need it at all in the future. I spent a small fortune making sure I don’t need a core useful medicine. Let that sink in.

I’m not an addict. I am monitored by a team of professionals. Every step of the way is in fact monitored extensively by state and federal systems along with massive insurance and hospital system oversight. It’s the closest I’ve come to experiencing the Panopticon. It’s life altering in its scope. My entire life by necessity has to revolve around when the system deems it safe for me to get a prescription. Not when my doctor thinks I need it. When Uncle Sam does.

I fucking hate relying on something so dangerous and so demonized but also so regulated. I hate that my entire private medical life is so closely monitored by the state. I hate all of it. But, on very bad days, the choice is immobilization or Tramadol. And I’m not at all ashamed to say I pick Tramadol. I want to be a working productive member of society and that’s hard to do when you are unable to move from the pain.

There is no grace in suffering but what it teaches us. And I’ve learned we use pain as a cudgel to control people in our society. That it is so effective is why I am both a libertarian and fiercely against the carceral state. One day it might be you suffering and you won’t deserve it either. And I pray that you will be shown grace in your personal circumstances.

But I’m lucky. I’ve got other pharmaceuticals, like biologic injections which treat inflammatory conditions, that I can rely on. I’ve got THC and CBD for their anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve got good old fashioned steroids like Prednisone. Which interestingly, my physicians universally believe is more dangerous than my Tramadol usage and did actually require an extended titration down as I was physically dependent on it, as your body stops producing the necessary hormones. They’d rather I use Tramadol for flares.

But you notice the government isn’t up in your face with a massive publicity campaign showing cops busting down Prednisone rings. There are no political advertisements showing how an opponent supports big steroid. Even though if you saw Donald Trump after he got Dexamethasone during his fight with Covid it was pretty clear he felt pretty good. Steroids have gotten me far more fucked up and also higher than any opioid ever has. But no massive surveillance program has ever come down on anyone for anti-inflammatory drugs.

Because that would be fucking ridiculous even though it’s just as addictive in driving physical dependencies , just as debilitating and depending on your body chemistry, just as “fun” as narcotics. Fun fact about me, I don’t have whatever chemical makeup that allows an opioid to give me a high. Which as I’ve learned is a saving grace. Not everyone does. That’s kind of the rub. The risk profile on opioids is a bit worse because some pharmaceutical executives lied about the percentages of people who get addicted. Or who found it’s side effects pleasurable in the absence of symptoms. They did not lie about the benefit of not being in pain.

And that ought to give you a good sense of the problem at hand. The iron law of prohibition strikes again. A massive bureaucracy imposing a fix that intervened in crude and inflexible ways is causing more suffering than it fixes. It wasn’t the intent but it is the outcome.

The iron law of prohibition is a term coined by Richard Cowan in 1986 which posits that as law enforcement becomes more intense, the potency of prohibited substances increases. Cowan put it this way: “the harder the enforcement, the harder the drugs.”

Because doctors were lied to about the risk profile of certain types of opioids in the first place, the backlash is now as bad as the original sin the pharmaceutical companies committed.

Regular law abiding people are getting fucked in their treatment plans because hard enforcement is making it harder to get the low dose drugs. We treat Tramadol users with arthritis with the same tools as as criminals addicted to illegal fentanyl. I know shocker that the American federal government can be as evil as Purdue.

But also historically you know it’s true. And now a huge portion of normal people like me, who just want the benefits of not being in constant pain, are being turned into an over surveilled over controlled population. And I’m not saying there are no risks. But who do you want deciding that? A doctor who knows you well? Or the government? Yeah I’d pick the doctor too.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 615 and Look Back

I recommend having habits from which one doesn’t deviate. I’ve come to appreciate how much the daily exercise of writing has come to provide a kind of scaffolding on which I hang the rest of my day.

But it can be easy to get lost in a habit too. I had originally started the act of daily writing as the habit. But I sometimes forget that there is more I can do on top of the foundation I have laid over these past eighteen months. I could integrate more of my past writing into the daily writing. I could do more to make it visible. I could do more to make it accessible. I could do more to make it durable. Perhaps now that writing every day is a firm habit I can expand on it.

In that spirit I am doing a little link round up on what might warrant a look back. A few posts that I thought were particularly good. A few posts that reflect some of the zeitgeist that I am digesting. And a throwback that some of my internet friends reminded were worth while.

The Thursday Styles Problem is probably one of my favorite essays. It’s about who knows what when and how that power flows.

I did a few write ups about masculinity and the internet. Two are about groypers. One is about cucking in the imagination of the American conservative. Or be careful as you can absolutely get brain worms from the internet.

I also had an essay on doing errands and the reality of living your daily life in a time of collapse. It pairs well with this bit about shrinkflation and consumer packaged goods.