Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 768 and Memory

I’ve not ever read Proust in its entirety because what am I an eternal being who exists outside of linear time? But, thanks to Wikipedia and university survey courses, I am familiar with its basic themes of memory and it’s frustrating insufficiency.

Anyways, when not pondering madeleines, I am often confronted by how resilient the mind is in protecting us from the horrors of the world. Memory is a very funny thing. As good a reason as any to maintain diaries or personal hagiography is that you’d be surprised at what you forget.

A doctor asked me to get a pelvic ultrasound. I surprised myself by saying absolutely not unless it’s an emergency life or death situation I am not doing that. And she, in sincere surprise, asked me why not.

And, because I guess therapy works, I recalled a pelvic ultrasound from maybe 10-12 years ago. I’d been referred in to a specialist as there was concern about a uterine cyst. This doctor, a gentleman over 50 in the kindly white gentleman archetype, who I did not know know, proceeds to tell me this won’t hurt.

But it does hurt. I am screaming bloody murder. It hurts so much I cannot stop. He tells me he will call security unless I quiet down. I cannot and I am in tears hysterically trying to convey the pain. I pass out.

I had utterly suppressed the memory till today. It happened to coincide with my husband mentioning a think piece in New York Magazine about women who empathized with the Clare Danes character from Fleishman Is In Trouble. There is a profoundly violating scene around reproductive health and consent.

And of course, because it’s happening to a striving insecure aspirant white bitch it totally doesn’t count right? Fucking Karens. It’s super cringe to consider where the system hurts you, because you dumb bitch, you benefit more than anyone else.

So I guess I am not surprised I had banished the experience of something bad but you know not so bad you are allowed to complain about it. And that is how the patriarchy perpetuates itself.

What I’m saying is that maybe you need to remember who it is that benefits from you not remembering the pain. Who benefits from forgetting? And trust me they are very scared when you realize that you remember.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics

Day 764 and Natalism

There are a number of cultural streams in American life that have all aligned around being natalist. You want your country to have babies because it’s good for the economy. And presumably also good for national security.

This fairly basic insight means everyone from techno-libertarians to Catholic homesteaders believes that Americans should be having more babies. It is not just the Quiver-full types having six babies anymore, so are our wealthiest aristocratic titans of industry.

But this alliance is missing some crucial basics. Like for instance the fundamental civilization level things we need to do to make it desirable and affordable to have children. It’s expensive to be pregnant, it’s expensive to raise children, it’s expensive all around to be parents. I spent $40,000 on IVF and it ruined my health. If I counted lost wages and being forced to sell my startup I’m the total costs is seven figures.

I don’t know if you’ve looked at just the costs around having a baby but it will shock you every time you turn a new corner in the fertility space. I learned today you will spend between $100,000 to $200,000 to hire a surrogate. It’s a person’s salary and a lot of medical care so sure that seems right but damn.

I guess I am interested in the math of Natalism to see if I could afford it. I am one of those “tech elites” that thinks we have to have children to drive the innovation of tomorrow. Our future is based on an optimistic hope that maybe we can push for a better future. Humanity won’t continue without children.

But I don’t have a body that is all that healthy without medical intervention. I live a normal life now and can work full time again because I take some exceptional medicine.

But it’s not medicinal regime that can be combined with pregnancy. So if I want to carry a child I have to go off what amounts to life saving medicine. Without it I’d be on bed rest. You can imagine the math I’m doing in my head? Do I want to pour another million into having a family?

So what’s a girl like me to do? Surrogacy right? But I’ve got 10 eggs and 2 embryos so assuming a third of them make it, that’s nearly half a million dollars in surrogacy fees. To get three kids. That’s a heavy price tag on the future. If more of them take it gets even wilder.

Now ok sure I’d rather we encourage a world where younger healthy folks do things naturally but don’t we want everyone going at maximum effort for a better tomorrow? Shouldn’t we want technology to solve this? Where are my artificial wombs at?

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 760 and Beginner’s Mindset

I recently decided to boot back up my Instagram account. I’d let it lay dormant for almost five years. A lot has changed since I stopped using it. I’ll withhold judgement on whether it is for the worse or not. Right now it’s mostly just modestly confusing. I feel like a beginner again.

Amusingly one of the first genres of advertisements I got was for Instagram editing tools. There is a whole cottage industry of paid applications that help you put together Reels and Stories.

Many of them are relatively sophisticated with templates that help you overlay text, audio, music and advanced video techniques. Being a creator these days requires a fair amount of sophistication so I’m not surprised to find $10 a month editing applications.

I am struggling to find to find the joy in the experience. It feels like like a lot more work to make visual content than written. Now, I grant that it didn’t feel easy writing at first either. Twitter was stop and go for me for years.

But Instagram is a more natural place for some of my interests like cosmetics and shopping. I want to give it a fair shake. And maybe I’ll find joy in the space with some time. But becoming fluent in the language of Instagram’s visual literacy makes me feel stupid. But I guess that’s what it feels like to be a beginner again.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 758 and Two Sides

I somehow missed watching the Mandalorian when it came out. My husband isn’t really into Star Wars and I’m a Star Trek person so as just missed it. I started watching it today for the first time and I’m experiencing it somewhat fresh of its original release context.

But I’ve got a vague memory of the culture war issues that it triggered at the time. Somehow Gina Carano got coded to team red and champion of the downtrodden right wing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why except I think she mouthed off on Twitter. She sacrificed her career as a main character on prestige Disney tv show for shitposting. She thought she had social latitude that she just didn’t when working for Big Mouse. Shockingly naive if I’m honest.

That somehow everything has a side in the culture wars is a real tragedy of our time. Because a couple years pass and whatever dumb stunt that got you put on team red or team blue probably gets forgotten. Normal people have moved on and the discourse gets digested eventually into common knowledge. Memory is a fickle thing. Madeleines and Proust or something in that direction.

If you are team red you go into an alternate universe where apparently being a dick with a right wing slant on YouTube gets you 50 million dollar media deals. I assume there are as many opportunities as now being on team red is a real badge of honor and whole media ecosystems arise because it’s an actual demographic. Shocking somehow to some people but I guess I’ve always lived adjacent to team red. I’ve be always known you could make money on that audience.

I suppose the real tell is that if you are team blue you don’t really change ecosystems at all if you pick their side in the culture war. You get to maintain your plum gig at Disney. You do not have Ron DeSantis gunning for you. I hear that woke mobs come to get you but I’ve never actually seen it in action. The worst part of my chaotic evil leftist Twitter bubble stops at Taylor Lorenz though I am aware that a murky left exists beyond Chapo Trap House and I know about Tankies.

It just seems so strange to take sides in any of this nonsense if your aim is to make a living as a performer. Sure maybe you can cater to one niche or another. But really isn’t the whole point finding the things that bind us all in the human experience? I always assumed art was meant to transcend whatever petty shit happened while making it.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 750 and Interstitial

If you have ever stayed in an airport hotel or a particularly standardized corporate hotel, you’ve encountered the grand global homogeneity of acceptable hospitality.

Airwave bedroom at a Marriot in Prague

This aesthetic owes a debt to Silicon Valley and the way we’ve sanded off peculiar edges and smoothed over individual characters to make the real world’s brand book as consistent as our virtual ones. It’s called Airwave.

If you enjoyed the silky sameness of a WeWork or a perfect Airbnb or the reclaimed wood counter at a third wave coffee shop in Prague or Frankfurt, you’ve enjoyed Airwave.

If you travel enough, you find the aesthetics comforting eventually. As if your entire palette or taste profile was subtly sifted into the window of preferences set by an art director at an advertising agency in Brooklyn or Amsterdam.

Soothing sameness

Sure you seek out newness and novelty, but also you are glad for the suite at the just nice enough Marriot which delivers you a club sandwich with a request to room service. Remember when Jonny Mnemonic screamed for room service? If you are of a certain age I bet you do.

Ah the height of luxury for a data currier criminal of cyberpunk legend is now the expected outcome for the rootless cosmopolitans. Who is to stay which of us as a worse dystopia?

Categories
Preparedness

Day 738 and Little Things

I’ve come to appreciate the little luxuries in life in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Great Weirdening was in full bloom just as the world shut down into a global viral pandemic. The things I took for granted from 2015 are now treasured joys to be relished privately and also on social media. Dooming for the clout.

We are all performing elaborate acts about how we are flourishing, but in reality we’ve all had a number of rebirths and realizations. A lot of people suddenly stopped giving as many fucks and the downstream effects have been a calamity.

Everyone knows this has happened but pet theories as to why and it’s implications are rampant. We’ve fractured into conspiracies depending on what media ecosystem we spend the most time in. I know a lot of extremely online shit because I spend time on Twitter. We all have different scapegoats.

This is also all colliding with the great Jankening. All those people giving fewer fucks. Well, it shows up in what we make. And a lot of products and services got worse. Sometimes subtly. It tugs at your mind that so many little things don’t work like they used to work.

I am happy to fight for what’s mine. But I am fighting harder to get the experience I want. So I notice it when something goes right. When a meal is a bit better than you expected. And quality of service was better than it has a right to be. When maybe something is a throwback to a simpler time. When shit worked. I cherish the things that are genuinely good. I don’t want to lose them.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 717 and Walled Garden

The walled garden debate is back in Silicon Valley. What is a walled garden you ask? It’s a closed ecosystem in which your entry, exit and experience in the garden are controlled by a central entity. While modern social media has very centralized ownership structures, we’ve basically aligned on allowing sharing of content and interactions across and between platforms. We’ve homestead the modern social internet by tilling our profiles and tending our communities.

But people are straining at the compromises we’ve made over the years. Elon Musk is attempting a rather heavy handed walled garden strategy on Twitter by banning linking and promotion of competing websites.

It’s unclear if it will last at the moment as within hours Elon apologized for making a massive change without a vote. Whatever that means. It’s been six hours of chaos as people reactively extremely negative to being told you cannot link to your Instagram or Facebook accounts. A few dickriders attempted to defend it by saying it was freeloading but it isn’t really tragedy of the commons that Twitter can’t make money off my hard work.

I’m old enough to remember the sheer indignation of Linux dorks had for the all encompassing closed systems that is Apple. Jailbreaking was a pastime for a whole generation of nerds. Sure the money folks kept trying to contain their ecosystems giving us nonsense like America Online, but information wanted to be free right? Well Stewart Brand fans know that isn’t the whole quote

Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.

Stewart Brand Whole Earth Catalog

Whatever is going on inside Twitter and Elon Musk’s mind is unclear. But the basic tension of the internet has not changed. We built tools to network together whole worlds and that has been fucking with ideas of ownership and who gets paid since day one. Capitalism usually finds a way to ride on top of these issues of ownership and value but the technological progress came out space old norms quite quickly.

And we are in a moment where skepticism of these norms is being challenged. Why shouldn’t we get to chose how we engage with our own property online? Maybe we don’t own the land but we definitely homestead our little plots of internet land.

Because the nature of the internet is wild and untamed. It takes work to make it usable. And most of us don’t mind paying a fee to keep the grass trimmed. A few of us might even prefer a country club experience. But the trouble with any commons starts when enclosure starts.

And Elon seems to be going for something that’s more heavy handed HOA than parcel of land outside of county lines. And like your average president of the homeowners association, he seems to be taking concerns and criticisms quite personally.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 711 and Excession

So Elon, this isn’t likely to actually make it to you, but this is my blog, I write every day for myself, so why not, I can give it a try and pretend. If it turns out this is any good I’ll ask a mutual friend to send it to you.

tldr: I feel a (parasocial) connection with you & I want more from you (and maybe also for you). I know it feels cool and edgy to wink at taboos but you’re getting rekt by fuck bois, sycophants and opportunists.

I know we are all Galileo in our own mind shouting “and yet it moves” to narrow minded Papists but you realize being a martyr requires your death right? I don’t want you to die.

You certainly don’t remember this, but we met a number of times in the mid-teens. Times like when a friend of mine hosted a blow out birthday party in New York. We sat next to each other in some awful club and discussed chess with a small group. The same friend had a big wedding. I remember goofy dancing. Your sons made snow angels in the confetti. It was nice.

You seemed as uncomfortable as the rest of us nerds. Your autism didn’t seem any worse than mine though. I remember finding that comforting at the time. It has curdled into alienation over time as your fame far outstripped your origins. And I’m sad to have lost the feeling of love I had for you.

Before we “met” I had slight case of hero worship. I remember thinking here is someone just like me. He likes the same science fiction. He dreams about the singularity. He’s neurodivergent. And he wants to get us off this damn rock. And he’s got more money and power than I do so maybe he is worth admiring. I was young and stupid and hadn’t yet gone to real therapy.

I would tell my friends I wanted to die outside the earth’s gravity well. I thought perhaps you might be the man that got us there. Had I not had a chance to see how much you were just like me, perhaps I’d still be a stan.

Never meet your heroes. Everyone is just people. Now I’m worried I’ll die here on Earth filled with grief like Captain Kirk. There are no dicks left to ride once you realize we are all just humans.

What I see now from you isn’t power and happiness, it’s isolation and sadness. But I want you to know it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to listen to the flattering dick riders. They want shit from you. They want their agendas and they see your money and power as a way to achieve it. I know you know this.

It makes me angry to see you coddle the parasites. I’m shocked your mother hasn’t told you to knock it off. She seems like a cold bitch who gets shit done. I’m sure she’s told you that you are better than them. The nerds and autists did not inherit this Earth just to squander it for the roar of the crowd. If it is all bread and circus, remember you are a king and not a clown.

Maybe you think their slavish slobbering attention is a fair trade for some of your magic, I used to be emotionally slutty like that too.

Being an attention whore isn’t unusual for someone with distant parents. Shitposters gotta post right? Once again, I feel a kinship to you on the compulsion to post and roast. I’m addicted to Twitter too. We are all filling up the holes leftover from our childhood. I’ve got daddy issues so I’m sure you get it.

And yes, I am projecting my own insecurities. But maybe I can tell you a story that will comfort you in the big wide universe. Maybe it will comfort someone else. Maybe it’s just to comfort myself.

I read you named your family office Excession. I’m also a fan of Ian M. Banks. Since 2008 or so, I carry around a paperback of Excession with me whenever I vacation. Which isn’t a lot. I normally use a Kindle to read but this paperback has become a kind of totem. It signals to my hindbrain that I am in a sympathetic state of rest and digest. I reread it over and over in 20-30 page chunks. It bounces me out of fight or flight now after much repetition, it’s my comfort book.

A picture from September 2014 in Miami. We seem to have come full circle on Ukraine
Here is a picture of you with the same copy in 2015 while in Sun Valley.

Your love for Ian M. Banks all felt very relatable to me as I’ve been dreaming of a post-scarcity world where my AI space ship friends shuttle me around as they pursue their inscrutable intentions. I want to sublime. Maybe not for a few thousand more years though. But I want to make it through the singularity to the other side, or at very least avoid dying in William Gibson’s jackpot. I feel like you get what apocalypses preoccupied my mind.

Most of my fantasies and fears have been touched by my love for science fiction. I saw in you someone who saw the same possibilities as me. You were very much one of us.

I also see someone being used for their dreams. They are harnessing you and your power to drive the rest of us to focus on their nightmares. Don’t let them steer you.

But your posting is reaching people. It’s annoying to some, but it hits. Maybe it hits too hard. But the isolation I imagine you feel isn’t necessary. Power laws can separate just as effectively as they bring us together. You don’t have to be surrounded by reply guys. There is a path to connection even for the most singular among us.

Now of course, I want something from you too. I want you to get us off this rock before it’s too late. I know it’s a big ask.

My best is advice is to go reread Excession and get yourself out of this persistent “fight or flight” cortisol pump. Get focused back on the shit that matters. Maybe find yourself a nice autistic sociopath who will love you for you. Maybe she can protect you from some of the pain. I’m sure you will figure it out.

I want you go to therapy. Mine is pretty good if you’d like an introduction. She’s an aristocratic 80 something Swedish woman, so you might like her. She’s perfect for working through attachment issues. She’s quite good at dealing with poor little rich kids with mommy and daddy issues. Her neighbors are all billionaires so she won’t be impressed by your bullshit. She has a sub-specialty in sex so she can probably help with that dick riding problem too.

And most importantly, she’ll be the only person who doesn’t want anything from you. And you need that more than anything.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 705 and Impressed

I haven’t bought a new handbag for nearly a decade. While I like fashion I have never been a hardcore accessories person. One generally been of the mind that those are anchor pieces that you keep for years and years. I didn’t see much point in acquiring trends as it just seemed so expensive. I buy more for longevity.

The last handbag I bought was a camel Masur Gavriel bag. I think it was sometime in 2013 but it may have been earlier. I found a photograph dating it no later than 2014 but I can’t be sure. I’d seen a small piece of press about it as it being a kind of super minimalist brand by these two bicoastal pretty girls. I loved the clean look of the tote with a long full leather panel and a bright yellow sunny interior. I found a boutique that stocked it in Los Angeles. I think I paid less than $300 for it.

I’d talked it up to a girlfriend in finance and she bought one. She then talked it up to her friend who happened to be Lauren Santo Domingo and then next thing I knew the nag was absolutely everywhere. It subsequently raided a large private equity round. It’s brand book became so popular a fast casual yuppie food brand called Digg Inn ripped them off. The brand was a genuine hit.

Being ahead on a handbag like that is the fashion equivalent of being in the best series A round in Silicon Valley as the new angel investor. It means a lot but only after it’s been proven out to the IPO. I haven’t felt that kind of kinship with a brand in a while. And certainly not with a handbag. The high conviction I had with Mansur Gavriel should have made me pursue the two designers as I just knew in my gut this bag was fucking it. Really the one that got away for me.

So I am excited that I got a new handbag today. The first one I have purchased since my Mansur camel tote. I’ve literally not purchased a single handbag in that entire time though I did buy a backpack and a suitcase.

I saw this across it across a bunch of fashion blogs over the year. It has hit a lot of mainstream fashion news. So fashionistas are definitely well and truly ahead of me. I am not a market editor or an influencer being sold by fifteen different publicity firms. Though I’d absolutely like to be. There was absolutely a time when I was very much in the scene but let’s be real now I’m an eccentric investor in Montana. I’m cool just in a different way.

Polène Numero Uno Mini in Black Lizard with dust bag.

The bag is called Numero Uno Mini from a French label called Polène. It’s a clean bag. But it’s got a little personality in it’s shape. There were smooth calfskin options but I’d been searching for a modestly dressier bag that would be a bit of a statement for day but also formal enough it could accompany a cocktail dress or make due at a wedding. It works up until you need a clutch because it’s a gala or an awards ceremony.

Polène Numero Uno Mini in Black Lizard with dust bag.

I feel like it’s a bit louder than the bag it’s replacing which was a black calfskin envelope clutch with a gold chain that is bought from Barney’s. I’d got it on sale for like $150 bucks as well it was a house brand I guess. But it was just so damn versatile I used the fuck out of it. I haven’t seen it since we moved to Montana and I’m a bit concerned it’s gone for good. So perhaps this new Mini will find a home in my routine.

I’m very impressed by its quality. The stitching is tight and lean. The hardware is bright and sturdy. The logo is very discretely etched into corners of the hardware and on the feet of the bag. Which is just a nice touch at a $350 price point. Recently it’s felt like everything is a bit shittier and more expensive. So it’s a joy to get something that feels like a great value and genuinely nice. I hadn’t made some dirty compromises with a direct to consumer business. So yeah I’m impressed with a handbag.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 704 and Nothing Is Real

One of my favorite science fiction series is Ian M Bank’s Culture series. Attempting to give a basic premise is a bit of a disservice to the sweeping space opera, but the TLDR is advanced artificial intelligence has spread humanity’s descendants to the stars in a massive pan-galactic utopian civilizational diaspora.

This future transhuman utopia has finally reconciled humanity’s inherent lack of cognitive processing power and set about flourishing in other ways, while our various AI friends, the Minds, make sure we are kept fed, watered and sheltered in sundry starships, megastructures and planets.

The Culture regularly engages in wars and espionage as it absorbs new species and civilizations, sees others off to the enlightenment (called the Sublimed) and generally gets up to batshittery because sometimes AI is inscrutable. It very fun and if you’ve not read them there is no real order just grab a book and start. If you need a starting place go with Use of Weapons.

The Culture has been on my mind has we are enjoying something of a Cambrian explosion of artificial intelligence generative art tools including the open source Stable Diffusion, OpenAI’s DALL E, and Mid Journey. People have been having a blast creating all kinds of wild imagery. Our tools are rapidly outpacing us in their ability to generate reality.

But I’ll fully admit I didn’t think it was personally that fun to fuck around with until we got a text generator from OpenAI called GPTChat. Surprise surprise I’m more interested in the written word than I am in generative art. I made all kinds of dumb prompts.

And I’m definitely having a bit of a Neo in the Matrix whoa moment with the possibilities. Imagine how much gets automated when our basic communication mechanics are freed from squishy meat space. It’s a long way to a Culture Mind but I definitely had a moment where I thought oh fuck some of us baseline humans are going to struggle to adapt to a manufactured world that isn’t created primarily by other humans. What a fucking trip!

And now I cannot get the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields out of my head. The creative realities emerging from our human minds might not be the dominant ones within my lifetime. I won’t have a clue what is real or what is a fantasy created entirely by machine. And doesn’t that just demand a reassessment of how real is our reality in the first place.

Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Strawberry Fields

Now the the Beatles were in an LSD phase but most of us are familiar with the glimpses of different realities that underline the shared sentiment that what if in fact nothing is real. But is it such a big deal? Our egos don’t need to get hung up about another tool to remake reality.

But we should be prepared to find out that our world and all our creations might be sharing space with some very strange new ways to mould reality. I cannot wait for the mind fuck personally. I hope I get adopted by a Culture ship with a name like Extentuating Circumstances or Nervous Disposition