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Culture

Day 1259 and Cooler Than Me

I was once (devastatingly) told by an ex-boyfriend that the song he associated with me was Mike Posner’s Cooler Than Me. He felt I cared too much about taste.

This wasn’t an unfair assessment as I was working in fashion at the time and maintained all the intellectual pretensions of being a antiquity obsessed fresh out of Chicago Austrian school economist devotee. A capitalist with taste isn’t really a likable figure.

Twitter mutual Tracing Woodgrains (himself a frequent commenter on the value of beauty and taste) suggested reading this essay in the American Mind about the cultural flaccidity of conservatism and their taste problems.

Reading the essay, I thought it a shame that the taste problem that clearly plagues the right goes on unabated. They tolerate losers with bad taste. And they carry on about how they are losers which further salts the wound. It’s not the kind of commentary that suggests their culture is worthy of dominance.

I am privy to the occasional conversation on this subject as I being crypto libertarian I am bit of a neutral in the culture and institutional wars between progressive and reactionaries. At a dinner of mostly internet dissident right wing types, the topic of being losers was aired.

The host, a clear winner from the ascendant investing and engineering autist culture, rightly pointed out if conservatives wanted to align their fortunes to winning cultures (it was implied like Silicon Valley was a winner culture) then the right wing too needed to become winners. I fear that advice fell on deaf ears. It’s hard to tell someone that being a loser is a skills issue.

Libertarians get a kind of drop out “smokers behind the bleachers” kind of cool in America. The lower case libertarian of the philosophical bent not whatever big L party apparatus that might exist. Those guys are all losers.

The “fuck the Fed” constitution carrying types have a lot that is likable and winning. Fighting civil asset forfeiture, and for marijuana decriminalization, first and second amendment protections, and bodily sovereignty are winner issues across different constituencies.

To go against the grain of big government pieties of both left and right is to resign yourself to being on the outs pretty regularly by disagreeing with both sides but to rest confidentially in the cool of knowing you hold your ground.

To be on the outs means you retain a crucial aspect of cool. You aren’t the mainstream even though you benefit from not being made its enemy no matter who is winning.

Casablanca is libertarian coded and undeniably cool. Seeing the fallen world as it is and having the balls (or backbone for those with delicate sensibilities) to live your own life is an act of bravery. To have own opinion amongst sinners and saints is fundamentally to cultivate and know your own taste.

That returns me to the essay by Spencer Klavan “A Matter of Taste” that kicked off my response.

If we’re serious about a revival, we are going to have to accept the inherent risk and unpredictability that comes from letting artists see the world before they judge it.

In turn, we are going to have to learn to suspend our own judgment long enough to see what the artists bring us for what it is. In other words, we will have to cultivate a little taste.

If we do not know our own taste we can hardly know the line at which we draw the boundaries of civilization. To know what we value is the point of cultivating taste. To hold on to the standards you’ve set for yourself is to hold yourself up to others. To live this way in action and through your own revealed preferences is to say “this is what I value” in my actual life. If you can’t do that, then you will always be in danger of having someone they are cooler than you. And a loser might care.

Categories
Media

Day 1235 and Spin Doctors

Anytime I am outside of the bubble of American media algorithms, I feel like I see more clearly. It’s easier to spot “spin” when you see multiple narratives from competing supranational actors. When I’m in Europe, it’s much easier to see competing angles from Russia, China, and competing industrial interests.

The term “spin doctor” emerged during the Reagan-Mondale debates in the 1984 election.

A spin doctor is a person, typically a political aide or publicist, whose role is to present information or events in a way that favors a particular perspective or interpretation. Their goal is to influence public opinion by putting a favorable “spin” on the narrative.

It combines the meanings of “spin” (a biased interpretation or slant) and “doctor” (someone who repairs or fine-tunes things). Spin doctors aim to control the media’s portrayal of events by providing their own analysis and framing the story in a way that benefits their side.

Perplexity’s “Spin Doctor”

I’ve not heard “spin doctor” used recently even as we’ve gone further into cultural obsessions with media and its role in shaping opinion across the Internet age.

We’ve never had more awareness of how the news sausage gets made and it only drives interest. Filter bubbles are now written up in listicles. Publicists are the subject of profile treatments their clients typically receive.

We are in the golden age of propaganda and every single one of us competes in shifting alliances of attention and affiliation. We are all spin doctors now for our causes.

Categories
Culture

Day 1234 and Intelligence

I’m reasonably intelligent as far as humans go. I’m probably in the top quartile or so of reasoning, processing & other measures of cognition. Not being insecure about my intelligence, I feel perfectly comfortable admitting that I’m an idiot. I’m only human.

Humans just aren’t a terribly bright species. But we are a curious one. We’ve built tools that extend our capabilities significantly. And each new upgrade in our tools helps us achieve more with our meager intelligence. L

We can quibble over whether intelligence is different than achievement but analytical, creative and practical capabilities are things you want to cultivate. We want to cultivate in ourselves and ideally we will want to cultivate in the things we build.

Two men are on a bus on a mountainside side. An sad anxious looking man is staring at the rock face on dark side of the bus side with a thought bubble “the AI took my job” while a smiling happy man on the bright side overlooks scenic views with a thought bubble “the AI took my job.”

Sure we as a species have fought these advances but eventually the benefits of developing ways to pass on and improve intelligence outweighs other fears. Material progress is good.

If you afraid of intelligence greater than your own I realize I have no way to talk you out of that fear. I can argue impartially about the benefits that intelligence has brought us in the past but humans are feeling animals not reasoning animals. The best I can hope for is to coax you to consider the bright side of the bus. Imagine feeling awesome about an AI taking your job. Go ahead and see if your curiosity can consider it.

Categories
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
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
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
Emotional Work

Day 1188 and Existential Stability

I’d like you to consider that our current culture of safetyism is not trying to provide you with any actual safety but rather a pantomime of one. Security theater. And this is why we see whole generations of existentially insecure “adults” trapped looking for more signs of stability.

People aren’t really looking to be economically stable before they start families; they’re looking to be existentially stable.

Luke Burgis

Luke Burgis rightly reminds us that the only existential stability that exists is one in which you make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences.

Yes, sometimes consequences can be quite dire. No, you cannot put off making decisions until you have 100% certainty though I hear the restaurant at the end of the universe has a great drinks menu. Try the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Douglas Adams “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” the sequel to The Hitchhikers’s Guide to The Galaxy.
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
Emotional Work

Day 1174 and Don’t Everybody All At Once

I have gone through a turbulent reentry into the timeline over the past week or so, and have been steadying into its depths. I’m sure you’ve noticed the pops, pings, hisses and howls of psychological re-pressurizing. We are now at a comfortable cruising altitude for Julie. You are free to roam about the psyche.

A lot of people have been asking me for things. It’s been in a way that is both jarring and seemingly unconnected while simultaneously hitting the apophenia like a thumber hits drumsand on Arrakis. Thump thump thump. Attention is drawn. It has rhythm. Walking without rhythm so as to not attract the worm doesn’t seem to be an option any longer. I recognize your footsteps old man.

I recognize your footsteps old man

Let me try again. Imagine a beautiful woman who may or may not be available is at home during a rainstorm. She’s on her phone but has no need to go out. Everyone who thinks they have a chance texts her. Too much trouble to go out and hunt in the rain but if you’ve got a number maybe. Then maybe you take the trouble. The woman she laughs or sighs depending on the overtures. Sometimes she even responds. Her motives may seem clear to you. The motivation of her suitors may similarly seem clear. Maybe you can even predict. And yet chaos still exists in the hearts of men and women.

I am closing my aperture just as many others are opening theirs back up. Many do not like they see. No matter how much advance warning you may give people about trouble on the horizon if they are trained to ignore they will. Until they can’t. And then in the rainstorm they communicate with the people they can reach. Beacons in the storm.

I myself am less troubled by the rain. It would seem that we are in a moment where any number of timelines have diverged completely. Many storms are raging. The sun shines elsewhere. We continue to have our dead.

We’ve put up fences to keep the sight out. We put up sand bags. But you can’t stop the smell from all the fires. Maybe you can’t outrun the rising tides. Maybe you are a civilization level smoker jumper going from one fire to the next. Maybe an actual one. Maybe there are no weather metaphors that can be tortured into a form that reaches across to you.

The beacons I am responding to, as per usual, are not the ones you’d expect. I wouldn’t be a very good node in the network if I were too programmable but neither can I be so unpredictable that “it” doesn’t reach out. It pings. It pings. It pings. It calls out. It reaches out.

Miller the Detective. It reaches out