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Community

Day 639 and Act Local

I grew up in a hippie college town that was fond of bumper sticker activism. Showing off your sense of humor and your political priorities was a fun thing to do with your Subaru Outback in the late nineties and early aughts before Facebook and the rise of social media.

A classic of the genre was “Think Global, Act Local.” I found this example on Etsy. And no I’ve got no idea what charity it ties back into.

Think Globally, Act Locally Bumpersticker

Maybe it was just less cringe to have this sort of thing on your car before we all spent half of our days yelling at strangers on the internet. I personally remember thinking Visualize Whirled Peas (a band from Austin) was a hilarious way to protest American war mongering as a teen. Of course, I still wrote Amnesty International letters at the time.

Now I’m not even sure who to donate money to at the end of the year as institutional trust continues to break down. Thinking globally is often the source of much anxiety. Currency collapses and the threat of nuclear war from Russia might be throw backs, but doomscrolling and feeling helpless is too modern. What is old is new again but in more potent anxiety inducing form.

So it was a bit of a relief to enjoy the “act locally” part of the classic bumper sticker this morning. Our local volunteer fire department had a pancake breakfast. Now as an adult my husband and I live outside of a completely different college town in the wider surrounding Gallatin Valley.

The rural (as opposed to city) county fire departments operate with a lot of local good will. They have a professionally trained but all volunteer force and cooperate with other districts through mutual aid frameworks. Practically, that meant a lot of college students taking advantage of living at the fire station to offset their costs while deepening ties to the community. A pretty ideal set up for a tight knit rural community. We get talent and they get skills and housing during their college years.

But calling them volunteers makes it sound less professionally run than the reality. I was impressed with not only the depth of knowledge of the entire department but also just how well maintained all of the equipment clearly was. Sure they probably cleaned stuff before letting their neighbors come in for a visit but everything was so shiny and new. I came away feeling a lot more secure about making a 911 call.

Now maybe that’s just function of meeting the fire chief and chatting with EMTS. And that’s probably exactly why they host these pancake breakfasts. But after two hours of touring equipment, and talking to everyone from the Medivac helicopter pilot to the youngest college kid on the squad, I felt like this was a team that has its shit together.

Now I’m actually excited to vote for a bond issue to get another fire truck or two! But in the meantime we dropped a few twenties into the boot on the table.

Pancakes and a fire boot for donations to the county fire department.

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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.

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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.

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Internet Culture

Day 614 and Cuckservative

At the risk of scandalizing any of my relatives, I learned about a sexual kink today called cuckholding. I was not, sadly, enjoying kink SubReddits. I learned about this term from a bunch of Trump acolytes. Apparently cuckholding means watching another man have sex with your partner (usually wife). So now you know.

For those that are not terminally online, the context is that in a lot of right coded spaces terms like cucking, beta cucking, and cuckservative get used to describe humiliation but also insufficient purity to the cause. The cause usually being some Platonic ideal of conservatism right up until it becomes indistinguishable from authoritarianism.

Now I’d not given a lot of thought to the term and it’s apparent intense fascination to conservatism men. But it keeps showing up in even ancillary spaces like gun culture and even Wall Street Bets. Every humiliation is cucking. Every instance of not holding perfectly pure in-group signifiers and adherence is cucking. The beta cuck is in a an internal battle with the alpha Chad. And frankly it got so prevalent I finally had a “lady doth protest too much” moment and asked wtf is the obsession with cucking.

Can anyone explain to me why the right is so obsessed with cucking?

I honestly didn’t expect to learn as much as I did about the anxieties of our age, the particular traumas of living with ego preservation needs from our childhood, and the sheer raging reaction formation that is American masculinity. Honestly I’m starting to spend a little more time there than feel safe.

I quite feel don’t feel up for analyzing the whole mess of reactions but it largely seems to boil down to a Slate or Salon article said this was the hot liberal fetish. This got percolated through forums culture and whipped into a frenzy by Trump meme magic. But because the internet gives you brain worms this turned into an actual thing people got sexually turned onto and now it’s maybe impossible to untangle what is fetish and what is meme. But there is definitely some wild sexual politics around power and property in America and who counts as a full person with agency. I’m including some screen shots for posterity as it might be helpful for later research as I fear this will end up being useful as some internet ethnography.

Categories
Politics

Day 609 and Dark Brandon Rising

I really don’t know why I’m commenting at all on it except that capturing some of immediate sentiment of the moment has some value. But I watched Joe Biden’s Soul of America speech.

I wasn’t planning to but the siren call of the Twitter feed sucked me in. Like the rest of America, I feel the call of the discourse. And I have to say I’m surprised yet again at how divergent it feels.

I saw Dark Brandon Rising memes come to life. Our usually stumbling gaff prone president was on fire. Literally as the background was red. I want to know what they pumped him up with. And I don’t think it was a playlist. But he seemed passionate and he made as decent a play for the values of democratic norms as I’ve ever heard. But he also did it on a red lit stage with marines and the imagery of the presidency and norms means pearl clutching from all sides.

I don’t think it’s bad to call out that Trumpism involves election denialism. January 6th has a clear message even if it lacked finesse. It’s not like we are seeing Americans at their best after two years of pandemic. I suppose I recognize that it’s insulting and maybe insidious to say that some people are worse than others. But differences of opinions become a bit less valid when one wants representative democracy and one acts like brute power is fine if it serves their interests.

I felt like it came across decently and relatively unifying and I’m sad that this is a position that is contrarian or in dispute. I’m no fan of the man but I also don’t want to become Argentina or Albania. America is supposed to be better.

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Internet Culture

Day 599 and The Lamentations of Their Women

A bunch of people asked me about what happened to me on Twitter over the weekend. I’d been hitting a bunch of different niche communities like startup Twitter, finance Twitter, doomer Twitter, and discourse Twitter with a thread that has a bunch of extremely extra and occasionally outright hostile weirdos saying reactionary shit.

I think it all started when my friend Ashley wrote a post about the commodification of women’s bodies. She was responding to another piece of discourse and found herself getting dog piled by one of the most irritating but unavoidable portions of the the internet; reactionary angry young men.

I didn’t like that Ashley was getting ripped for functionally agreeing with right coded, socially conservative men. I thought “damn, you can’t win with them”.

Entering the Fray

I decided to jump in and tease some of these boys. My inner child loves to shitpost as she finds humor and playfulness protective. I promptly got blocked. I went about my business. Now that I live on our homestead in Montana, I’ve got a lot of chores.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I kept discussing the damn discourse. I expressed my concern that we’ve got such an intense population of reactionary young men who act as if they are perpetually victimized. I expressed empathy for how men are getting screwed and mostly got told it is women’s fault. It did some numbers but it wasn’t going into a context collapse situation just yet. Basically another day on Twitter.

The thread started out with all of the empathy and good faith I’ve come to expect from niche Twitter. We avoided purity politics. Tucker graciously discussed his own journey and how he let go of anger and began taking responsibility for himself and his family. Jack made some jokes. A number of internet friends discussed the varied ways they handled the systemic discrimination that some masculine virtues experience in modernity. Much wisdom was shared about how different they had grown up to be men.

Later that night I wrote a throwaway post about how we’ve got a crisis of masculinity and maybe only other men can get through to angry young boys? I suggested that perhaps right coded men who discuss modern masculinity would have an easier time reaching them. I tagged Tucker Max and Jack Murphy as men who seem to have done a good job taking responsibility for their own lives.

I basically went to bed with a sense that people had been good to each other. And I didn’t really notice being quote tweeted by a niche main character in groyper Twitter or what it would mean for my tomorrow.

It Escalates

His thread contained the following:

  • A very intense discussion of the ethics of doing butt stuff and posting about your experience with polyamory and cuckcolding.
  • The ethics of charging for coaching and clubs and whether one can have masculine virtue if your wife sleeps with other men.
  • A surprising amount of hysterics about what constitutes hypocrisy if one claims to be masculine.

Basically a bunch of people who haven’t figured out their own shadow lives told me exactly how uncomfortable they were with other people’s sex lives.

But honestly it was just so much fucking butt stuff.

Unfortunately that visibility of discourse meant I suddenly got flooded with harassment. A coordinated re-tweeting campaign began. People started digging into back posts and old news headlines. My direct messages got flooded with threats against me and my husband. It was definitely enough that we started thinking about security around the homestead.

I can only assume someone’s group chat or some message board was like “look at the phenotype on this bitch”. And to be fair, some people came with good jokes about venture capitalists moving to Montana. But then there was the graphically racist, as in, “oh we still have Nazis” plot twist. I realized I might need to actually start blocking people. I felt modestly disappointed as I hadn’t been dogpiled in a long time. But protecting myself was more important.

Why

Now you can ask why am I even stepping into these spaces if they contain this kind of abuse? What can I say there is a part of me who enjoys a frisson of danger. The feminine urge to protect our menfolk often runs head long into the reality that they can be dangerous. Walking into male spaces has inherent risks if you take up space in public life.

I have to be honest honest with myself that there is a breed of men who considers all public spaces to be male. I am an offense to them even if I am in the process of lamentation for our men. The space I take up by existing with different preferences is proof enough I am an enemy to be subjugated.

So I guess I owe anyone I teased about blocking on Twitter an apology. There are some people in too much pain out there. And I am not in anyway responsible for their emotional health. Only they can choose to let go of the pain.

Categories
Politics

Day 598 and Reactionaries

I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to engage with a bunch of disposed reactionary young men on Twitter this weekend but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I took some pleasure in it. Cognitive dissonance and copium can feel like an amusing game if you don’t think too hard about the pain behind it. And I saw a lot of pain in the responses to me.

My husband asked me if we should increase security at the homestead. I told him I wasn’t sure if these boys were up to more than larping but in truth I’m not sure if teasing groypers and trolls is dangerous or not. The real danger is civilizational. We’ve got angry, disaffected, and emotionally violent men with nowhere to go and nothing constructive to do. Our politics reflects it but only barely.

What happens when the reactionaries go beyond Roe v Wade and clip the wings of democracy? Will the 19th amendment be up for discussion? You’d be surprised at what the discourse is considering at the moment. For all the whining about cancel culture, we’ve never had so much open consideration of rolling back modern liberalism.

I guess I’m glad that we are having conversations about the success of our current political and civilizational social contracts and whether or not some of our choices were failures. But if any of these boys thinks I’m giving up even an iota of the freedom to be responsible for my own life, well, they have got a surprise coming in.

Categories
Politics

Day 594 and Feminine Mystique

I spent my morning desperately trying to distract myself from the pain of menstrual cramps. It’s my first period being without the luxury of living on a city sewer and I am modestly grossed out by having to roll up my tampons in toilet paper and toss them in a tiny trash can.

If you haven’t had your own private septic system, well here is a lesson in rural living. You can’t be putting big globs of cotton into them. Technically you shouldn’t be flushing tampons into any kind of plumbing anywhere. But who amongst us hasn’t done so. Flushable wipes are a lie that big butt wipe has put a lot of marketing dollars into.

Were you uncomfortable reading that? I bet you were. The indignities of embodied life are plentiful but we especially dislike hearing about women and their reproductive system. Don’t trust an animal that can bleed for three days and not die amirite?! Something super mundane that is the reality for half the planet is treated as incredibly foreign and disgusting. I totally love how it makes me feel like a monster just for being human.

I am feeling this particularly acutely because the discourse around women and their rights is at a nasty place in America. We are barely a month out from Roe v Wade being overturned in America and the horror stories are pouring in. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal some unattractive realities.

And I’m not even talking about just abortion. A whole slew of reactionary positions are being floated by the Moldbug crowd and spun up into adjacent meme spaces by feral readers of Bronze Age Pervert. They are happily chatting away about the failures of liberalism and chief amongst them is women’s right to vote. It’s not at all shocking to hear open discussion about how the franchise should only be open to land owning heads of family. So naturally sorry women. It just follows.

I’m getting a lot of pushback from more progressive men (and by that I mean anyone who thinks women voting isn’t up for debate) on my feeds absolutely confident this isn’t happening. No one could possibly believe this they assure me. It seems so shocking to them. But I’m here to stare back into your soul and say “honey please.” It’s all up for debate when people are hungry and angry.

But since you need convincing. I’m telling you that regular people with normalcy bias have already decided I have less bodily autonomy than you. What makes you think these reactionaries have any respect for my franchise if you didn’t even notice the right to chose mattered.

It’s offensive to say this as women have never had more rights but also I’m still a second class citizen. And I’m a white married lady so I know how fragile my perch is and how very high in this delicate dénouement of the battle of the sexes. Progress is fragile. Branches can snap.

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Politics

Day 592 and Politicians

We say we want accountable politicians but then we punish them when they hold firm positions. Principled politicians are begging ravages right now. Of course, they reward our fickleness with their own. It makes political discourse a conduit for performing accountability instead of doing it.

If a politician cannot hold a viewpoint or position that you disagree with but still holds your generation support, we’ve stopped having a civic body and instead developed into rabid fandoms. And we wonder why the leading lights of both parties only pay respects to their most radical members. Everyone gets abandoned in that situation. Your only options are bad ones.

I say this because I think it is time we started endorsing politicians for who they are as people, even if their policy positions might not align with yours. Trusting someone because they have demonstrated good faith is a social good. We should strive to be accountable to each other even in total opposition. That’s the only way anyone will ever build systems in which any of us are free. Otherwise it’s coercion anyway you slice it. And what’s fucked up is you probably know it but are ready to argue me on the technicals.

We have to expect others to have principles in order have them respect our own. That’s always been the fundamentally libertarian platform. That others have the freedom to hold firm in their own version of the good life and we should have our good life respected as well. Live and let live.

If just coercing someone to your side is enough for you, if mere compulsion is an adequate civilizational goal, then by all means reconsider if you are American. It’s an imperfect union.

Me having a line means that you can have a line too. Our respect for boundaries is what allows us to interact as adults capable of ring responsible for our own actions. Maybe it’s not ways to our advantage. But having a line means you can be trusted. And being trust worthy is safety.

Categories
Finance

Day 590 and Demography

User acquisition is my little niche in the startup world. While all founders are generalists my super power has always been getting the attention of customers. So I often enjoy little illustrative moments where basic principles of finding and speaking to your audience go awry.

I have tweeted extensively about my concern in the rising cost of core agriculture commodities in the face of shitstorm in the fertilizer markets. This isn’t that novel if you work in finance but it’s probably not a large group of people that are actively discussing fertilizer costs. I do not however buy fertilizer personally. I don’t finance it.

In the face of rising interest rates, partnering with Nutrien Financial™ can help you prepare for the future with confidence. Our latest blog post explores why financing your input purchases may be beneficial to your operation:🔗 nutrienagsolutions.com/blog/5-Reasons… #AgFinancing

I was served a tweet for Nutrien Financial. They would like me to consider financing my crop inputs. In fairness to this promoted tweet the final demographic detail Twitter may know about me is that I live on rural land with agricultural use zoning. I see how I got targeted. And I am delighted to be served this piece of thought leadership from them. But I’m not in anyway their customers base even though I mimic a lot that matches them.

Let’s compare this to another group of advertisements that targeted me this week. I got several pieces of direct mail in my physical USPS post. These folks knew that I had recently purchased a forwarding service from the USPS to make sure old post from my former Colorado address would reach my new one in Montana. Let’s take a look at what they advertised to me based on that piece of information.

A spread of several catalogs and promotional mailers for home furniture, blinds and window treatments and rural road paving services.

It looks likes advertisers who want to reach married couples that have recently forwarded their mail to a new address might be in the market for furniture, window treatments and also I guess rural road paving services. That one might be a rural Montana thing so slightly more niche.

Advertisers argue a lot about high intent audiences. That basically means someone who is likely to buy your product or service. Lots of people can fall into the typical demographic of what you sell but judging if if they are likely to be persuaded to make a purchase can save you a lot of money. Don’t sell to someone who isn’t buying.

Sure you can convince someone they want something with aspirations and glamour but you have to be able to be convinced. It’s a lot easier to do that for a lipstick than a couch. Significantly harder to do for rural road paving I imagine (though I’ve never done it so I can’t be sure). The hardest has got to be financial products for large scale industrial agriculture purchases. Finding people with high intent to buy fertilizer seems pretty specific.

Marketers can and do try to gussy up these facts with fancy languages but getting attention and selling to people that want to pay attention are basic. I’m not the tactics aren’t complex and the work can’t get extremely technical but at least we know we are working with human desires. And I think it’s important to think through that when planning a campaign. Don’t want to overspend on convincing someone who isn’t even in the market to be convinced.