Categories
Aesthetics

Day 485 and Reality Shows

I’ve been watching Netflix’s reality dating shows this past week. I’m absolutely obsessed with the Nick and Vanessa Lachey properties in which twenty and thirty somethings do preposterous social experiments because they want to be married that badly. I’ve now watched Love is Blind and the Ultimatum.

I’m not typically a reality show person. I’m a yuppie startup bro living in the golden age of prestige tv. I like expensive scripted dramas and the media has provided me with ample options. But I’ve often wondered how much I’m missing out on popular culture by avoiding reality television.

I’ve got girlfriends who are obsessed with the Bachelor but I’ll be honest I’ve never been able to focus on unscripted tv. I admire the hell out of the product empire the Kardashians have built but I’ve never actually watched their anchor television show. There is clearly a deep cultural cross current that reality television has in America and I’ve largely let it pass me by. Well except for having to live through the Trump administration.

I’m particularly interested in how these reality shows reflect our cultural desires. I wrote this week about how the vibe shift is showing an emerging camp of right wing counter culture. The single minded obsession with marriage and traditional family structures in both Love is Blind and the Ultimatum make me think they both reflect the cultural power of traditionalism. Twenty five year olds offering ultimatums to their partners that they must get married now is a bit wild to me as a geriatric millennial. It was considered a bit retro to be married before 30 during the Girlboss new left Obama years. That’s clearly changed.

I’m curious what else is changing culturally that will be reflected in reality television. Love is the most universal so perhaps I’m projecting a bit on the medium. Maybe marriage is easier to transpose onto unscripted television. But I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of other traditionalist vibe camps that will arise on America’s favorite entertainment genre.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 482 and Vibe Shift

A month or so ago a piece written by a New York marketing executive titled Vibe Shift went viral among the chattering classes. The premise is that we are on the precipice of a cultural change that is upending everything from politics to fashion. And depending on your perspective, this shift might include crumbling dystopian decay or vibrant fuck it optimism. Or in the case of web3 absolutely both.

I think the Vanity Fair piece on the New Right is chronicling one of the first emergent vibe camps to emerge from the vibe shift. The article is a look at the art, intellectual environment and personalities of the “not quite conservative” new right. And it’s a largely positive even glowing send up.

If you believe the Citadel is a corrupt institution and moral moral crisis then the Vanity Fair piece should have been negative. It’s a surprise that it wasn’t. Not long ago we were subjected to intense narratives about the dangers of nRX neo-reactionaries and it’s infiltration of Silicon Valley. It was a real and urgent issue that the center of so much money and power might doesn’t align with the cultural values of media or academia. If you don’t speak this language the Citadel is code for the left leaning creative and cultural institutions like Hollywood, academia and media.

So why isn’t it a crisis any more that there is a new breed of influential “not quite” conservatives? If anything the right in America has shown itself to be capable of so much more than just boat parades and goofy hats. Some of these fuckers were expanding the Overton window on peaceful transitions of democratic power on January. It might actually be getting worse.

Except now the left fucking sucks too. Now I’m not justifying fascists. These Christian Nationalists are trying to roll back modernity and pluralism. Fuck them. They fuckers don’t even have a demographic majority. So it pains when I say the vibe shift is showing the left as the worst version of themselves while the right is showing a new cultural ascension.

To a lot of normal moderate people the left looks controlling, scolding, frigid, and conformist. Everything from mask politics to gender relations has started to make the left look insane. It’s entirely rational people would be seeking a vibe shift for something more welcoming.

My theory is we are about to see a massive resurgence of affection for all kinds of conservative hobby horses. Especially of vibes that used to be the province of the traditional left. Everyone is sick of being shamed while they go about living their lives. And whoever wins that vibe war will win America.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 481 and The Mood

There is a scene in Dune where heir apparent Paul Atreides is dismissing the danger he is in from the Harkonnens. He tells his instructor he is “not in the mood” to train.

It proceeds to be a standard issue coming of age issue. Paul realized being responsible means finding the mood if the need arises. The circle of manhood. You’ve read Joseph Campbell too so you can fill in the hero’s journey.

But I’ve recently noticed an uptick of people not being in the mood. This isn’t for lack of desire to build and and will manifest. People are exhausted by the increasing chaos. The entropy pulling on all of our lives is weighing on us. People have let big life decisions go by as the uncertainty plays out. We want to stop to attend to those problems. We’ve got health issues we’ve not checked out. We’ve got family members who are struggling. We’ve put off buying homes and making trips and investing in things b

But we cannot let the pace and uncertainty of the now prevent us from setting the foundations for our future. We may not be in the mood. We may be tired and scared and overwhelmed. But the occasions that require action do not care for our moods.

Categories
Internet Culture Startups

Day 479 and High Agency

A corner of startup Twitter was discussing the relative ease of getting connected to power brokers in different industries today. The debate? Does good talent eventually finds its way to resources? The contention from Roon, otherwise known as Mr. Wordcel vs Shape Rotator, is that networking is less crucial in technology than in any other industry because it’s easier to find a way in.

While one can quibble with how true this is for all populations, it is truer than it’s ever been. A large swath of the startup ecosystem is readily available to anyone on social media. We are less constrained by geography and credentialism than we’ve ever been. This is partially because much of the wealth in the current generation came from building social networks or software that benefits from openness. An excellent overview of this is why good angel investing ecosystems prioritize welcoming newcomers by Alex Danco. Most investors want to be available.

But it’s still a challenge to find high agency and high talent people and there are far fewer of them than you’d imagine. And proving you are high agency and high talent isn’t always an intuitive process. Being able to assess if someone has the capacity to build is one of the hardest job a capital allocator will ever have. Judging markets and products and roadmaps is much easier than discerning if someone has the capacity to execute on their dream.

I personally use follow up as my first heuristic. This is partially because I maintain open DMs so literally anyone can and does reach out to me. If someone is able to regularly show up and engage with me and show progress they are better than 90% of people. Honestly go ahead and try! I really am here to help.

You’d be shocked at how often someone pitches me and then I never ever hear from them again. And it’s not because I missed the boat (this happened once to me this year). It’s generally because people are waiting for someone else to act. And this is where people fail. The first rule of startups is figuring out how to create momentum. If you are waiting for me to cut a check you’ve already lost.

I’d like to do a whole post on this topic but I’ve been struggling to get the bulk of it on paper as I’ve got a migraine coming on. But rather than put the post off, I organized an introduction of the subject and put down my first heuristic. Which is ironically exactly what I look for in founders and builders. Did you make some visible amount of progress no matter how bad? Did you put it out into the world? That’s better than most people!

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
Medical Politics

Day 475 and 4/20

Last year on April 20th aka 4/20 aka the day America celebrates weed culture, I wrote an post on using medical marijuana for my ankylosing spondylitis. It’s a thorough look at how I incorporated THC & CBD into a pain control regimen for an inflammatory autoimmune disease. I’ll recap some of it here as my views haven’t changed at all in the intervening year.

As a libertarian I’m pro-legalization but I likely wouldn’t have chosen to use THC recreationally except that it happens to be a drug that has demonstrated benefits for my condition and is comparatively less dangerous than other pharmaceuticals I am also proscribed (namely opioids and high dose NSAIDS). For some context, despite being a native Coloradan I had never smoked weed till this year. As a kid it just didn’t seem appealing (that’s what hippie boomers do), and to be candid as I got older I didn’t love the idea of tying a health need to something that wasn’t legal everywhere.

I spent months testing everything from bud and regular joints to elaborate butter and shatter concoctions in an expensive Pax vape. None of it achieved the desired effect which was pain mitigation and minimal head highs. It was expensive and demoralizing. It was hard to manage dosing and consistency and I was unsure if it would remain a part of my medical regimen. I wasn’t sure weed was ready for prime time but I did feel it was important to document it all both for my own biohacking purposes but in case it could help others.

After all of that experimenting, I settled into regularly using patches. It’s one of the least celebrated formats and, because that’s how it works, the last format I tried before settled into a routine. I use a brand called Mary’s Medicinals that makes an excellent 50-50 THC to CBD blend. It is completely reliable on dosing and effect. It has little to no head high. And it lasts for eight to nine hours. Basically as close as I can get to a pharmaceutical. Turns out I wasn’t kidding when I said I really was in it for the pain relief.

I genuinely hope that THC continues to cement its place in American culture and medicine. It’s a cheap easy and effective drug that replaces a lot of expensive and potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals. Of course we’d have powerful interests working to ban that. It’s a a national shame and I’m glad Americans have fought back. I’d rather weed replace alcohol and tobacco. Why get drunk and wake up feeling shitty when you can get calmly high and feel better in the morning. But it’s a long path and sadly it’s still viewed negatively by some. I hope to do my part on 4/20 to encourage folks to see it’s benefits.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 473 and Technical Difficulty

I have a long-standing appointment on Monday. It’s had the same Zoom link for almost two years now. A function of pandemic necessity has made this link one of the anchors of my calendar.

It wasn’t working today. I got on at 415pm and was faced with a “host is in other meeting” sign. I thought ok whatever I’ll wait. But then I started to blame myself. Maybe I got the link wrong? I went back to my calendar and clicked in. Still wasn’t working. Let me reboot the application. Still isn’t working.

Needless to say my mind kept winding itself up about all the ways in which this minor technical hangup was obviously my fault. This despite any significant amount of evidence that it was in fact a mistake or error on my part.

And it’s just a fascinating thing to see how much I’m willing to accept all of the blame for something. Even in an instance where I bear no responsibility at all for the outcome. I suspect I’m not alone in this. The feminine urge to apologize is a punch line. Hell it just made it into Saturday Night Live joke this week. Ironic as Lizzo was hosting and she is one of the least apologetic woman I’ve ever seen.

I’d like to think it’s a kind of small narcissism that drives these obsessions with being at fault. To think that we have so much power everything that has gone wrong must be directly attributable to our actions. Except women being gluttons for punishment couldn’t ever enjoy the fun kind of narcissism where everything is a function of your genius. I’d love that on the next lifetime if I’m honest.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 471 and Masculinity

Much as I cannot stand Tucker Carlson, the man has a gift for getting attention. I came across a truly marvelous advertisement for a new special he produced called “the end of men.” Which, sure, well trod territory if you are extremely online but probably new to his older Fox News audience. The ad is being mercilessly mocked on social media for being homoerotic.

I spent probably an hour this morning discussing the semiotics of this video. It’s just a fascinating cultural artifact of based extremely online masculinity. It claims to be about the decline of testosterone. But what it’s really selling me is an aesthetic about what makes a man.

It’s got the back to the land postlapsarian agrarianism. It’s got raw milk. It’s got meat. It’s got raw eggs being chugged. It’s got blacksmithing and lifting tires. There are ice baths. There are infrared saunas. There is infrared on dicks! Ok that last one was aesthetically out of left field, but it makes for a stunning Messiah image where a guy appears to be charging his dick. He is RISEN! Happy Easter folks.

All of these subculture callouts are speaking to specific niches of men online. There are men who promote raw egg. There are men who promote raw milk. There are the biohackers. There are the Stoics. There are the sun on balls advocates. Being based and pilled is actually an extremely complex signaling exercise.

Much of it in service to reclaiming and owning modern manhood in the face of a feminized world. Testosterone loss is it’s defining through line. I’m sure it could be argued that this obsession is part of the wider discourse on gender identity and the fight between it’s cultural and it’s sexual basis. I just don’t really care because men being pussies is kind of endemic and it’s not a partisan issue.

I myself am sympathetic to the based trad masculinity types. Their aesthetics often overlap in groups in which I’m an enthusiastic participant. The voice over in the ad is discussing hard times that are nearing, giving a little call out to doomer culture. I also believe traditional skills will be necessary in a more chaotic world. I think being prepared is a social good.

I am also a big fan of localism in food and am a drinker of raw milk and eater of pasture raised steak. I use cold therapy to manage my inflammation, which yes sometimes means ice baths. I schedule time in the sun to set my circadian rhythm. And yes I care about my own hormonal balance and rhythms.

I’m not a big fan of fascist curious fan boys like Tucker owning some of my spaces. It’s amusing that back to the land homesteaders have gone from being coded leftist hippies to now being coded as conservative and right wing. Rural living is now contested space. So is healthy living. And honestly that’s really fucked up. Health should be for everyone. But sure let’s laugh at how the video is gay.

Categories
Startups

Day 470 and Social Skills

Startups are just as much about social hacking as they are hacking something technical. We worship the archetypal “coding nerd” who is brilliant but awkward, but in reality building shit requires an awful lot of social finesse.

I meet with a pretty wide range of founders. A lot of them are clever but relatively normal people. But many founders are fucking beyond weird. I see a lot of neurodivergence. But it’s not all towards the awkwardly autistic. Plenty of founders, especially in web3, are almost supernaturally charismatic. No literally it’s magic.

And that magic is good for making something new. The ability to empathize and listen is hugely prized in leadership. Being present and able to socialize in any social context is key to bring diverse groups together. We are much more willing to throw in our resources behind a founder who can rally us together. And this is just objectively good for the startup. Of course investors want to back that kind of person.

I think some people are offended by this reality. We see endless pop culture depictions of narcissistic sociopaths raising shit tons of money and then destroying their companies. I’m honestly a little sick of it. It’s no secret that Silicon Valley, but capitalism on the whole, occasionally rewards charlatans. I don’t think it’s particularly indicative of anything but human nature. Like Fox Mulder I too want to believe.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 469 and the Discourse

On the one hand, the discourse today is horrible. Elon Musk threatening to buy Twitter is breaking people’s fucking minds. On the other hand, it’s the height of culture to be so singularly obsessed with a topic of such little consequence. The zeitgeist is full on psychotic.

This isn’t about free speech. Fuck that. No one gives that much of a shit about corporate governance that they’d super impose a civilizational problem like free speech onto securities law. This isn’t an episode of Billions. In except that both make me want to scream “that’s not how this works, not how any of it works” into the void.

This is all an elaborate publicity stunt to feed the narcissism driven logic of markets obsessed with celebrity and personality. Because everyone knows what everyone knows, pricing discovery is a function of lurching forward a narrative for the vox popli. Except everyone is convinced they are uniquely brilliant so they can’t possibly also be manipulated by the transparent agitprop. Yeah yeah sure I’m a galaxy brain too. We’re all playing 4D chess. Everyone is winning and the markets only go up.