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Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 1222 and No Exit

Even the most niche corner of the Internet can deliver fame instantly and irrevocably. I don’t think your average person is aware of just how much fame can be delivered by algorithm and how impossible it can be to shed it once you’ve gotten it.

If Andy Warhol could revise his “15 minutes of fame” conceit for the Internet age he’d probably have to grapple with how extended the event horizon of Internet fame can be.

The best you can hope for with algorithmic fame is that it fully dissipates into the background radiation of other people’s more concerted efforts to acquire fame for themselves. There is alas no exit.

Internet fame is mostly about being legible to other people and if you project something that makes sense into the wide abyss you will be known by someone.

If this doesn’t make any sense to you I’d recommend picking up some Satre. The ending isn’t very satisfying but it does repeat. So don’t worry too much about getting it right away

Eh bien, continuons…” 

Categories
Media

Day 1220 and Four Lights

There is an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Picard is captured and tortured by an alien species called the Cardassians. It is called Chain of Command and is a two part episode.

It’s become a touchstone episode because of a famous scene in which Picard is tortured by a Cardassians Gul using an interrogation technique with lights.

Gul Madred attempts another tactic to break Picard’s will: he shows his captive four bright lights, and demands that Picard answer that there are five, inflicting intense pain on Picard if he does not agree.

Picard withstands the torture but is saved. Later it is revealed he would have broken. His defiance is shown in this popular image macro.

There are four lights.

Variations on meme are a stable of social media. It’s popularity has a meme format has extended beyond just Trekkies.

This is all a long winded set up for my own meme. I was being subjected to Kardashian style torture today. Similar to the Cardassians, the Kardashiam methods and brutal and efficient means of controlling female prisoners

I went to a spa to get waxed. Dramatic right? As I looked up at the bright migraine inducing industrial lights I thought of Picard and saw four lights. Honestly four would have been better. Five in this light arrangement seemed to invite a migraine.

Kardashians torture techniques including dribbling hot wax onto hair and ripping follicles out in one hard movement.
Categories
Politics

Day 1219 and Right To Cause Chaos

There is a lot of noise at the moment. But occasionally a single event is so loud you can’t help but overhear it. America’s President Joe Biden caught my attention with this rather singular statement.

“There’s the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos”

I am not well informed on this current situation as the last week or so I’ve been outside of the American news media bubble. I am not so sure I wanted to become well informed given that is what has reached me.

Chaos is more appealing in the abstract than the particulars. I say this as someone who views the word with more positive valence than is probably accurate to its general meaning and certainly than current public perception.

I believe chaos is increasing and rather than accept its effects as inevitable we must actively investment in our capacity to adapt to it. Building resilience has proven to be a very good investment thesis.

I don’t endorse causing chaos deliberately. Friction its place in the world. So does disruption. I’ll even advocate for creative destruction. But being destructive deliberately has been rightfully called an agitator.

Do we much we need additional agitation in a world already filled with chaos? I don’t get to make that decision on my own but I personally think it’s better to build fixes to the chaos we’ve already got. I don’t need to give entropy any help.

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Emotional Work

Day 1217 and Triggered

I deliberately put myself into an exercise today where I gave another person permission to trigger me. I mean trigger in the emotional sense.

caused to feel an intense and usually negative emotional reaction affected by an emotional trigger

Merriam Webster

I very much recommend the experience. If we workout our bodies and our minds surely we should consider the value in working our emotions over.

Openly welcoming emotional punches may seem about as sane as welcoming an actual punch but like in all things practice makes perfect. It’s good to prepare with the relevant skills for all kinds of things.

I am not a boxer or martial artist myself but I appreciate fight metaphors and their applications in the power dynamics of life. Much of living feels like a conflict to even the most level headed of us. Which I’m not sure is a title I can claim honestly but I do try to follow the maxim in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Don’t panic”

Douglas Adams

Even if we opted into some level of being available in the rituals of being alive we can find ourselves surprised to be considered fair game in the agendas and power struggles of others.

We are all civilians in our own mind. Sometimes we’ve stepped conflict without even knowing and you’d best keep your wits about you. Consequences for actions have a tendency to come back around for even the most cautious.

So if you’ve got the opportunity to be put into “fight or flight” you might find the opportunity worth the while. After all, everyone’s got a plan till they are punched in the face. So stay safe everyone!

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.

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Biohacking Media

Day 1204 and Moral Panics

I do not care for podcasts but I listen to a Bloomberg podcast called Odd Lots for entertainment. I’m an avid participant in the niche in-group you might have once called Financial Twitter. The hosts of the podcast Joe and Tracy are part of this community as well.

Usually I listen to it for the fun expert guests who come to do commentary on their corner of the markets. Today’s episode was titled how the American workforce got hooked on adderall. Which I personally think is a very provocative title.

Over the last few years, users of the popular ADHD drug Adderall have been frustrated by regular shortages in getting their prescriptions filled. Various regulatory and supply chain factors have contributed to the inability of producers to keep up with demand. But this raises the question: why is there so much demand in the first place? How did a significant chunk of the labor force — from tech workers to Wall Streeters — begin using the drug as an aid for their work and everyday lives? On this episode of the podcast, we speak with Danielle Carr, an assistant professor at the Institute for Society and Genetics at UCLA, who studies the history of politics of neuroscience and psychology. We discuss the history of this medicine and related medicines, what it does for the people who take it, and how market forces opened the drug up to almost anyone.

Odd Lots “Hooked on Adderall”

My impression of Danielle Carr was of a nuanced thinker with a lot of historical insight who happened to have haplessly taken on some academic moralizing about whether the wrong class of person might be abusing stimulants. I’m perhaps the wrong class of person to be commenting as I don’t use any stimulants stronger than a cup of coffee in the morning.

I was struck how the narrative eventually came to demonizing market demands in contrast to the I’m sure completely neutral national health systems. The theory being we might keep better track of the vulnerable in such a system struck me as classist. Adderall may be an American healthcare market issue only because those poor London bankers have another go to black market stimulant. We just don’t mind because they make money.

Moral panics around pharmacological intervention seem to be a flavor of the decade sort of thing. Prohibitions catch on when the wrong kind of person gets themselves into trouble of abusing something that was otherwise contained to social sanctioned consumption.

Perhaps in less inclined to judge on these things because I don’t witness the abuse but I also think paternalism is the excuse schoolmarms and aristocrats love in equal measure.

Categories
Internet Culture Media Politics

1196 and Reality Crazed

Just when I think shit cannot get any crazier reality absolutely fucking mogs me.

“Surely” I say to myself. “It cannot get more weird, more brazen, more chaotic, more fucked up, more absolutely unreal.”

And then it absolutely fucking does.

What if I told you there was a funny movie about dysfunctional airlines?

Getting second passports is normal don’t you know? I guess us regular professional class moves to Montana because we stupidly believe in America but everyone else is splitsville.

But don’t worry Italy welcomes digital nomads. I’d personally go to Tallinn though. But if you like Riveras hit up Albania. Thank me later. Never too early to think about where you might find yourself as a refuge.

Looking for something a little more exotic? I got you. How about some drugs. No really.

Hack the planet! Hack the gut biome! Hack your cavities? It’s possible the effective altruists saving us from bad teeth with polyamorous sex parties? I learned about an experimental probiotic from a sex worked based Austin. No I am not kidding. Her name is Aella. Iff you don’t know what this means I’ll spare you. But I’ll leave you with this.

Unless you are an investor like Yishan here, the way to get it is to pay $5000 for an appointment at a clinic in Prospera, the libertarian-run ZEDE on the island of Roatan currently suing the Honduran government for a third of the countries GDP

True Anon Pod

Now to be fair this is excellent affinity marketing. Who else would know more mouth bacteria than a hooker right? Well actually you’d be more likely to get gets thrush from that sort of extracurricular which requires an anti-fungal not an antibiotic but I’m quibbling.

In even stupider news, control of the senate might be up for grabs and the control hinges on a dude who might have lied about shooting himself for reasons? I don’t fucking know. I’m not a mercenary. But I hear Erik Prince is a dope podcast interview.

Anyway, the Gen Xer didn’t shit about reality biting. But the rest of us might be getting an idea.

Categories
Culture

Day 1195 and Responsibility

No one seems to be responsible for anything anymore. To take on a duty seems almost quaint in a world where honor has become a historical oddity. To have responsibility means you have an obligation to do something. And sadly many seem to be saying who wants that?

And yet we can’t substitute liability for responsibility. At best a liability has a specific meaning in financial and legal realms.

To be liable for something means there are repercussions if something bad happens. We’ve got whole professions dedicated to avoiding liability.

Browsing for insight on the difference yields interesting Reddit threads. If you want to get into international law you can really get tied into intellectual and moral knots.

The interplay between the obligation to prevent harm and the prohibition to cause harm, the question of cessation and the procedural treatment at the International Court of Justice of the issues of injury, causality and reparation owed

International Responsibility of Public Institutions

This is on my mind because Norfolk Southern reached a 600 million dollar settlement for the train derailment in East Palestine Ohio.

What we owe each other seems to only ever resolve itself when money changes hands. And perhaps that’s simply not good enough. If we only look to reduce liabilities because duty is simply too much to ask (or too dangerous a commitment) then is it any wonder no one wants to be bond to one another?