Categories
Politics

Day 1256 and Nothing Ever Happens

I enjoy that “nothing ever happens” has become something of an in-joke about how the end of history thesis was very right/wrong (apparently this depends on your reading). I find altogether too much to be happening.

I was quite surprised to see France’s Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron decide to dissolve France’s parliament and call for elections after the European Parliament elections showed his unpopularity rather starkly.

If he’s calling the French electorate on their bluff it’s a ballsy move in the middle of a tense continental climate. He must really think the Paris Olympics is going to go well.

It wasn’t the only coalition crisis for a government today. It is a sensitive time for institutional distrust and the will of the people move history forward (or backwards) as something is always happening. I expect it will be an interesting summer in Europe.

Categories
Startups

Day 1246 and Slightly Disappointed

I am a bit tired so this could all be jet lag speaking but I’m feeling slightly disappointed. While I’ve found great inspiration in the work of my peers, I see the failures and venality too.

I am at Consensus and I’m unsure if I feel like we’ve got enough people building the future I want to see. I fear for the unraveling of the old powers and what the transition looks like. It seems like a lot of people will be voting for a convicted felon for commander in chief.

And yet there is hope. The conference coincides with the annual Coincenter dinner which is an industry wide non profit effort to work towards policy goals for decentralized computing like Bitcoin & Ethereum and the wider cryptocurrency.

Our mission is to defend the rights of individuals to build and use free and open cryptocurrency networks: the right to write and publish code – to read and to run it. The right to assemble into peer-to-peer networks. And the right to do all this privately.

Erik Vorhees delivered an incredible moving keynote address and I found myself with tears in my eyes as I considered the long history of fighting to become your own master. We separated church and state. We are fighting to separate money and state. I feel these philosophical lineages across my entire life.

And so I am slightly disappointed at this point. But I’ll try to sleep and it will pass.

Categories
Culture Emotional Work Uncategorized

Day 1232 and Crab Bucket

As I age from maiden into crone (many millennials missed mother) I find myself uncovering emotions I missed during the forced march through corporate feminism & Girlbossism. The meritocracy takes its pound of flesh.

I climbed the chaos ladder & am grateful for my perch but I did not understand what I sacrificed to participate in this climb. I doubt your average person does.

American Millennials intuited that we had an opportunity to class jump through the meritocracy of institutional human capital games & were encouraged to do so if we showed capacity. Largely that meant raw intelligence & affinity for playing by unwritten social rules. If you could get out you were told to do so. Social mobility is one of America’s great strengths.

It is not without costs. I sacrificed family & place. To climb above the station of my origin & “achieve” the American dream of education & assets you leave behind a lot. To go from the lower rungs to prosperity and security we leave behind parts of ourselves.

I do not regret this. Many millennials come from dysfunctional families. Boomer can read as slur to some because future shock & greed hurt so many of that generation. The narcissism of the new age experimentation with new cultures and expectations gave us divorce & rootlessness. Those insecure circumstances bred flexible performative children who adapted to incentives.

If I had not leapt onto the ladder of meritocracy I’d be struggling like many in my cohort and I’d still be without a people. The Millennial wealth gap is tearing social fabric because the divergence between our outcomes is so clear. Atomizing is part of assimilating.

I am now in a position in which I inhabit the lower rungs of the very top of the ladder. I have access & assets & a reputation for work in the infinite game of playing for leverage. There is security here to be had. But a Damocles blade hangs over us all.

American success isn’t cheap. And you may not always understand the costs at the outset.

If you’d like to read more about the millennial wealth gap I’d encourage you to look. I am lucky to be one of the “self made” in my cohort in that I picked work that ended up being well remunerated. I started from a decent place but we were poor for portions of my childhood. Startup life isn’t a smooth ride and Silicon Valley produces very uneven outcomes.

I will not however be a millennial heir. I’ll inherit debt. The great wealth transfer will not be coming my way. I’m grateful to have helped my family but equally grateful when they manage to take care of themselves. I am so sad so many of our elders spent so much that their heirs felt the best option was a race to climb out of the crab bucket of the meritocracy. I am glad I made it. But it hurt.

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
Culture

Day 1212 and Being One of Many

Quick. Without overthinking it, pick one.

Words or Numbers.

I can’t predict your choice, but I’ll admit my “rational” conscience mind desperately wants me to pick numbers.

Alas my emotional subconscious intelligence quickly goes intuitive, lurching my feelings to a grabby place with “words.” That the right answer. I’d be hard pressed to correct my gut.

Humans love a good story. Even a single word can contain centuries of meaning. Just ask someone to define “woman” if you don’t believe me.

In the battle between numeracy and literacy, the bell has long ago been rung on the fight. Cave paintings transitioned to runes. Runes became alphabets. Literacy won before numbers got beyond accounting for the treasures of a king.

Priesthoods may have hated man understanding “the Word” but human minds were already on board with incantations of auspicious words before we got formal symbolic systems.

Probably understandably attempts to introduce topics like algebra were was a bit of stretch. Even simple arithmetic proved to be a contentious abstraction for many humans.

Ideas like property are a not a long haul from understanding “mine” and “yours” but it’s quite a leap to understand “how much” and “in what ways across different time and organizational schemas” which gets humans upset over specific collection of things.

Look at your hands and you understand that base ten allows you to calculate simple transactions for resources within your life.

Beyond that good luck. Got an abacus? Understanding that zero and one can communicate a universe’s worth of information is an even further leap. Attention wanders quickly without a computer.

And yet, as I enjoy the aesthetics of my own numeric symmetry in my 1212 days of consecutive writing, I know it’s my private counting mechanism.

“The need for numeracy today is enormous. Business requires people who have grasped the principles of reducing chaos of information to some kind of order.”

The Economist 1966

The narrative overlay of what numbers mean matters more than the numbers. So I’ll ask again. Which would you pick? Words or numbers?

Categories
Culture Finance

Day 1211 and Price of Civilization

Whenever I travel I am reminded of just how good a life I have be virtue of being born American.

I’m kept alive, fed, clothed and connected by a vast web of abstractions undergirding modern civilization thanks to the value of my passport and the exorbitant privilege of the dollar.

Constructs like private property have given rise to elaborate norms of obligation, honors, debts and expectations that enable coordination mechanisms like markets. This seems like a good thing from

All of this feels so astonishingly fragile. We listen when our bankers fret about “rules based western civilization” being under siege because we know those rules are what enables the niceties of our lives.

All it takes are a few assholes breaking the rules and the fabric frays a little more. Blessedly capitalism has its own immune system that is happy to attack all types of hostility.

If you are not integrated into the body politic of the dominant civilization you generally know it. I’ve found those outside of it generally wish they could be assimilated from simple envy. If you want these benefits be prepared to be assimilated to the rules and values of civilization.

Your alternative is struggle to hold yourself apart by your own rules and cultural values and insist others abide by them. This has generally required coercion, violence or shame in the past.

You can say “no” to civilizational benefits simply by opting out. To be left alone is to accept your status and stay outside of the great game of civilization. But to accept the benefits is to in some sense accept to accept that there are rules. You can’t break rules if you don’t know their importance. If you know the rules and break them however you can’t be surprised when it’s viewed as a thread.

Categories
Community Emotional Work

1197 and Experiencing Excellence

I was lucky enough to take Jonny Miller’s course “Nervous System Mastery” course year. If it wasn’t for me I wouldn’t have had an exceptional experience today with Joe Hudson.

There are many networked subcultures on the internet. I myself participate in many on Twitter dedicated to working on what I’d loosely term as “the human experience.” It’s a diverse flourishing ecosystem of seekers.

I myself have many posts tagged under “emotional work” which is the overarching theme of most of how I do this work. Under it you will find family therapy therapy, nervous system regulation work, somatic practices, and even a few hints the spiritual and metaphysical.

There are many footpaths to follow if you are part of the “Pathless Path” contingent looking to find your own way through the forest. There are many more walking through this forest in 2024. The many dislocations of the Great Weirding and The Pandemic break many narratives.

I see no one true path. The dharma bro jhana mediators are next door to the existential kink women. The cultural of revivalism has delivered neo-shakers and animists alike.

The many nodes of seekers has led to a network strengthening that has given me the strength to continue on this path.

I began this reflection with Jonny Miller for a reason. Last night he retweeted a public question and answer session and “rapid fire coaching” with Joe Hudson for the next morning.

Jonny had spoken so highly of the Joe’s coaching. I wanted to go. But I was also afraid. Joe said in his tweet “it gets intense” and I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough for it. And yet I showed up.

I thought I’d watch, listen and learn. And then suddenly I found myself in the presence of excellence participating myself with vulnerability. Such is the magic of a true master. My fear was no more. In just ten minutes. Such is the depth of his gift. It’s a gift to experience excellence in others.

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
Aesthetics

Day 1144 and Parsifal

I’m just going to ramble this one as the synthesis on it isn’t worth the energy to me tonight. I’ll work on that another day if I get around to it.

My mother’s interpretation of the legend of Parsifal is that we cannot succeed at our quest if we do not ask the right questions. I suspect it has something to do with the innocence of a pure heart asking the right questions but frankly this is a bit beyond my own experience of the Waldorf Steiner system.

Parsifal (or Sir Percival) was a Knight of King Arthur. His story is told by the troubadours of France and Germany, notably Chrétien de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach. The Parsifal story stands between the past age that looked for secrets of the spirit and the coming age that was going to search for the secrets of matter.

In this engaging retelling of the legend of Parsifal, Charles Kovacs’s critical commentary offers Steiner-Waldorf educators an unrivalled insight into teaching the story of Parsifal and will aid in lesson planning

Parsifal and the Search for The Grail

This feels relevant to me in the context of artificial intelligence making computer programming more accessible. Prompt engineering is simply asking the right question. Enabling more people to specify exactly what they want is terrifying because it might enable more people to ask the right questions and get an answer.

If you depend on people not being able to ask the right questions without your guidance you’d probably oppose it too. I believe that there is a religious aspect to our entire approach to artificial intelligence and we must grapple with it as surely as the Reformation shook the Catholic Church.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture Politics

Day 1142 and Come See The Violence Inherent in the System

While parked in gridlock caused by the American state department delegation snarling traffic in Tirana, I shared a classic British comedic sketch from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail with a friend who resides part time in the Balkans.

King Arthur is riding through his lands and is asked to contemplate anarcho-syndicalism and the constitutional arrangement most equitable to an offended peasant named Dennis.

Help! Help! I’m being repressed

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Feeling moderately repressed ourselves by the various bureaucrats, politicians, and general institutional disarrays that was in our way, the joke hit home. No matter your station in life, we are all a repressed in someone else’s system.

We can make jokes about staying above the API layer all we like, but the nudging organizational state is finding ways to reduce us to variables. Many of us have become spreadsheet brained. Will it be a gradient descent into the madness of a jackbooted local minima?

Perhaps it better to become the disassociating trader acted by Paul Bettany in Margin Call who simply can’t stomach that level of hypocrisy. He knows we want to play innocent about the violence hidden underneath the abstractions.

“Listen, if you really wanna do this with your life you have to believe you’re necessary and you are. People wanna live like this in their cars and big fuckin’ houses they can’t even pay for, then you’re necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is cause we got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off and then the whole world gets really fuckin’ fair really fuckin’ quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don’t. They want what we have to give them but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. Well, thats more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow, so fuck em. Fuck normal peopl

Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) Margin Call

We are all experiencing some level of abstraction from the base layers of reality. Some of us are more academic about it. Some of us are simply more or less unwilling to accept the hypocrisy of it. None of us can opt out completely. Plenty of professions let you get closer to the visceral base reality and then you too can see the violent inherent in the system.

And so we argued over resources and raw power. How abstract can we get? The paleoconomists say “go back to the gold standard” but we can’t. Can we go forward though?

Most of us see that entirely detaching the exchange value of goods from material items and their underlying value is a huge struggle for most people. We wouldn’t have endless discussions about the cost of groceries if it was clear to folks how the market priced physical goods.

Financial markets are fictions where we negotiate material needs like food, shelter, clean water, bodily integrity, and property ownership claims. All need to be priced in. It isn’t fun when the exchange value mechanism completely detaches from that reality. It makes us uneasy. Shrinkflation makes humans feel gaslit.

Humans are physical beings who abstracted our physical needs into an elaborate market system of exchange values. And like that Monty Python sketch, sure it’s a fun joke, a meme if you prefer, but that meme is a reminder to see the violence inherent in the system.

Anyways, I hope Antony Blinken enjoyed his time in Albania and that everyone has a productive weekend in Munich for the neutral ground security conference. Our diplomats have never needed a neutral ground weekend more amirite? The financial engineers will concede that reality. Maybe.