Culture Politics

Day 1296 and Mandate of Heaven

If you’ve been educated in the Western Cannon you are probably familiar with hubris. One does not defy the will of the gods.

The evolution of hubris from ancient Greece to modernity has extended our understanding of the prideful ego’s journey to arrogance. To be arrogant suggests a break with reality.

The term arrogance comes from the Latin adrogare, meaning “to feel that one has a right to demand certain attitudes and behaviors from other people”. To arrogate means “to claim or seize without justification… To make undue claims to having”

Who can claim the Mandate of Heaven? To even dare to do in many faiths suggests hubris. The breaching of limits and violations of the natural order suggest that Man should not suggest he knows the will of God.

And yet we push against the natural order all the time. Sometimes it is even demanded by the mythology of our moment. To make bold claims is to be sure you have a right to make them.

Watching the American mood witness invoking the will of any god is heady stuff. It is from the land of myths and those programs run on old operating systems. It’s not very hard to crash systemically when running on old programs. But I’d guess that is obvious to more than a few of us.

Emotional Work Politics

Day 1294 and Like Shit

I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that I’d been breaking down crying at regular intervals since the assassination attempt against Donald Trump.

I’m not a Trump supporter. I am and will remain a small government libertarian and I can’t see that changing short of fundamental shifts in material reality. Which is possible but human nature doesn’t change much.

I feel like absolute shit physically and emotionally about where we are at. The rapid changes that are proceeding in the wake of this violence cannot be undone. We are here.

I feel incredibly stupid saying this which is almost always a sign I should say it.
I’ve been breaking down into tears every couple of hours since the assassination attempt on Trump.
My emotional metabolism isn’t up to the acceleration unless I let myself feel it a

We are in a chaotic time and even I do not feel up to the rate of change. I’m afraid of what will happen no matter the outcome of the election.

I don’t think we should underestimate the trauma of political violence. A fellow citizen died for exercising his fundamental rights. He’s not the first and unlikely to be the last.

I want to feel less impacted emotionally but I can’t just stuff these feelings. I wish I could write more and at length about all of this but I’m simply not there. It’s all too painful.

Community Emotional Work

Day 1293 and Pollyanna

I’m a millennial who was mentored professionally by Generation X. Boomers rarely factored into my early work life. Even when I reported to the C suite and a board it was still mostly Gen X.

My Gen X mentors had a watercolor landscape of gentle layered cynicism that painted a picture I just didn’t quite see. I don’t have the temperament to see the worst in people and I still believe I could reshape institutions. I felt the biggest difference between myself and my mentors was that I was a bit of a Pollyanna. Many Millennials are earnestly optimistic.

That’s kind of a funny statement as I’m known amongst my social circle for my interest in what happens when things go wrong. I live in Montana in a small farmhouse with a solar grid. My husband who works in Bitcoin. I named my venture fund chaotic. My revealed prefences don’t scream “belief in the future” at first blush. I was taught that being prepared is how you end up with good outcomes.

Cynicism clashes with my belief that good outcomes are possible. Not only can we get wins but have to do so. There is no way out of our problems that is not through.

And I’d rather face that reality with a smile and a belief system in my fellow man. Better to endure regular disappointments than to never know the joy of things going well.

I want to approach the future as one that I can personally shape. Being allowed to contribute to a network that works collaboratively appeals to me because it’s fundamentally an optimistic vision. We can coordinate through all kinds of mechanisms for consensus.

Despite the cynicism of Gen X I am confident I wouldn’t have the dream of networked collaboration if their hackers and engineers hadn’t shown me we could build something better. Maybe that’s not cynicism but realism. And I hope that the realist camp contains lots of Pollyannas. Don’t stop believing and hold on to that feeling.


Day 1291 and Gabby, Steve, and Donald

I started getting coded as right wing sometime in the last four years. I found this confusing. I have significant public opposition to Republican policies and Donald Trump in particular.

I’ve been small “l” libertarian for most of my adult life. I’ve vote for quite a few Democrats as I opposed neoconservatism. I registered Republican as the Democrats went from embracing business and technological growth to opposing it. I didn’t see free enterprise as a threat but as the engine of our progress.

I vote for Biden as I sincerely thought it was the best choice after a tumultuous four years under the ostensibly Republican Trump where I saw nothing but a bigger government and frayed norms around containing that government’s authority.

I don’t like a large state apparatus in principle and feel America is the nation that most sincerely pursues the liberty of its citizens. The state has been granted the sole monopoly on violence. That monopoly must exist for civilization but necessarily must be constrained by the rights of the citizens who consented to be governed.

I’m proud of the American experiment as a citizen, a Christian (in particular a Protestant) and a capitalist. That may sound conservative to some but in practice tended to get me left coded as I support less government involvement in nearly everything.

Drugs, sex work, reproductive freedom, medical freedom (which ranges from vaccines to sex & gender choice), speech (which includes compute), religion freedom and commerce are liberties best decided upon by responsible adults of good conscience.

We have codified this in our constitution and democracy is the working progress of finding a way to agree to be governed together. Whether it leans left or right is hardly the point. Each generation reacts with the choices it inherited from the one before it.

The political fight is to remain a citizenship that consents to be governed. America isn’t a monolith. We respect the liberties of our fellow citizens who have agreed to respect each others rights. If we disagree we arbitrate that through the government we’ve consented to be governed by. That is only possible insofar as we respect each others fundamental rights.

Violence is not meted out by individuals. The state alone has that monopoly and it ends at our personal rights. No citizen should ever claim the mantle of irreversible violence. Violence against those who we choose to govern us considered the most unacceptable to all citizenry. Political violence is never acceptable.

When we discuss a crisis of democracy and invoke mortal or existential threats we override the bonds that make us Americans. My respect for my fellow citizens must be in equal measure their respect for me. We are responsible for ourselves so that we may be responsible amongst and to other.

When I think of the violence that we’ve seen in the political process of deciding who represents us in our state I am furious. It is unacceptable that any of our representatives have been subject to violence. Since 2011 we’ve had three attempts at deadly political violence against Gabby Giffords, Steve Scalise and Donald Trump. This is terrorism and untenable.

The shock I feel today after witnessing an attempt on Donald Trump’s life last night substantial. I probably should have felt it more intensely for our Congressional representatives. I have taken so much for granted as an American.

The liberty I’ve felt to articulate my own views is unprecedented. We as a nation have tremendous capacity for disagreements. The political is a negotiation and we all accept compromises. All three of those politicians have positions I find to be unacceptable infringements on my liberty. Which is why I speak my case and vote for my positions.

I’ve felt perhaps wrongly that living my own freedom was politics enough And that means I have to speak when I see unacceptable things. We cannot continue to escalate the stakes.

I want America to remain a United States. I recognize I hold positions others disagree with. I may disagree with you. I don’t know how I’ll be coded from here and I don’t care. I am committed to being an American. I remain committed to the protection of my fellow citizens full liberties.

That Americans would die for them has been made more than metaphor too many times. Let us do all we can to prevent that so we can continue to live together in freedom. Let the blood of patriots remain imagery so we can continue to live united.


Day 1289 and Gap Lounge Pant

My favorite item of clothing is a pair of cotton straight leg lounge pants from the Gap.

A light but body skimming 93% cotton to 7% elastane blend with a simple tie that never felt constrictive. It retailed for $29 and was sold under their “Love” which loosely merchandised with GapBody.

Gap Lounge Pant in Black

They were perfect. I bought two pairs every year and simply never worried about comfortable home wear. Which was a big deal as I had a few years of being quite sick so these pants were life savers.

Gap seems to have stopped selling them sometime in the past two or three years. The core product number is 539570 if you are curious. The last time I was able to buy any was November 2020 and I purchased four of them.

The holy grail of bought pants

If you click into the old product page you will see 1500 reviews. It was a popular item. People on Reddit are looking for them. Mutuals of mine gave them at friends gift events. Leigh was wearing them when she tweeted me that.

Leigh and her friends love them.

And so I’ve set off on a mission to find out why these very popular pants have stopped being made. I’d happily purchase the pattern from the Gap if I could find the vendor for the fabric. I’d put my own money into acquiring it from the brand if they aren’t interested in booting it back up. I want these pants back in my life. I even went so fair as to email the VP of Merchandising at Gap Inc today. Maybe I’ll get lucky and she emails me back.

I apologize for the intrusion but I thought perhaps as the leader of merchandising at Gap you may be the executive who can answer a strange question. 

What happened to the cotton Gap Lounge Pant? 

They were the best lounge pants on the market. I bought them for over a decade. And they are simply gone. The product number is 539570

I very much want to buy more of them as they are my daily wear and I will pay whatever it takes to get more.  And is there anything I can do to buy any remaining dead stock of it?
Can I help your team
make a case to to bring it back? Is it possible for me to acquire the pattern and fabric from the corporation so I can have them made myself? 

Aesthetics Culture

Day 1288 and Real Fake Girlbosses

All I wanted the first time I raised venture capital was to be able to make my business case. Once I’d done that I was sifted into into the wider cultural moment of girlbossism with everyone else in my cohort.

It quickly became the way to raise money because heaven forbid gender not be important. I was no Diane Green so I better get comfortable mugging for the cameras. I’d not so secretly hoped I’d be able to offload some of that lifestyle element to someone else. Someone more suitable.

At first I figured fine whatever it takes to get the money who cares embarrassing shit like becoming avatars for the zeitgeist doesn’t matter.

But now I think maybe it did. Every time a piece of social media goes viral with women messing around at the office I think what did we do? I’d envisioned that the difference between me in 2014 and the new younger, better, more ambitious versions of me 2024 to be, well, actually better?

Maybe they are. Media isn’t reality. But I had visions of women quietly running companies and venture funds competently and without concern for their gender. Surely in ten years more would have changed?

Instead we’ve got we’ve got the simulacra version of women like me filtered through Cosmopolitan features and glossy magazine spreads into TikTok dances for a company that makes pimple and acne treatments.

And it’s all grist for the mill. People want to blame feminism and gender studies. Pffft. Cute. It’s not gender studies or critical theory that got us here. For all the Baudrillard, Foucault and Judith Butler we all absorbed, the thing is just a representation of a reality that never existed.

Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation explores the concepts of simulacra, simulation, and hyperreality. Simulacra are copies or representations that become detached from their original reality, leading to a state where distinctions between reality and representation blur. Baudrillard identifies four stages of simulacra: the faithful copy, the perversion of reality, the absence of profound reality, and pure simulacrum, where the representation becomes reality itself

Perplexity’s Synopsis

If you want a crack in the timeline go decide what the Summer of 68 produced as a culture. Maybe they were just reactionaries. Maybe I’m just a reaction to them. These girls are a reaction to me.

If you want to be a cynic there is no shortage of commentary on how media showed us culture that didn’t serve us. Those Summer of 68 men turned into Yuppie midlife crisis dads who weren’t there for their children and wives. Feminism giving depressed stifled women a chance to not regret their choices. But the choices already exist.

Your cultural war mileage may vary. Now we have cowardly millenial man children and forever princess boss bitches and endless rounds of upset every time we see women in an office doing something silly.

You can rage at critical theory all you like but this just one elaborate morality play being accountable. And no one wants that. Real fake Girlbossism selling blemish cream.

Everyone deserves better than this. I deserved better than this. The horror of contortions required to simply pursue work means you must do what media and finance require of you to succeed. Go watch Margin Call and see if you think you’d fare better in making those choices.


Day 1287 and The Long Haul

Good things take time sounds like pablum.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Every time there is a boom cycle fools rush in. I don’t know why someone would expect that luck would be adequate to any large task. Luck is the default conditions to even get started.

Then you gotta get lucky a lot. Multiple times a year if you are aiming to lead any industry. And you have to keep doing it until one person who compounded so much effort and will that what looked like luck is simply habit and habit becomes process and process becomes results and results get sustained.

And yes decay sets in. And it gets harder. Every gain requires the energy that it requires. Leverage is often simply about being the one that makes it for the long haul. Maybe discretion is the better sort of valor but I’ve yet to meet a winner who was a coward.

Culture Politics

Day 1285 and Platform Changes

I don’t want to make this into a whole thing but the Republicans have posted the GOP party platform. The Silicon Diaspora is now such an important constituency we’ve got enough sway to move policy.

A network state of e/acc, crypto builders, Bitcoiners, El Segundo hardware startups, deep tech autists and white pilled Space dorks changed a political party’s platform.

And it wasn’t the one I expected. Scientific progress was something I’d come to associate with liberals. It would seem Democrats are not as certain about being technically progressive anymore. But the middle that builds is a constituency.

It’s such a small thing and I know politicians don’t have a track record of doing what they say. But the idea that a ragtag group of internet friends could get our issues given place of pride in a platform feels nice. A multimodal pro-social game yielded a positive sum.

We want more technology being built quickly by those with the agency to do so. We’ve got diseases to cure, climate change to adapt to, software to be coded, nuclear reactors to be spun up and a long path to space from there.

I hope the value of better medicine, better tools, and more ambition makes its way to everyone.

For now I think it’s cool that I can see where every line in this policy document came from. A very hodge podge group of internet weirdos in Discords, policy shops, Twitter communities, and group chats got politicians to agree with us. It feels kind of nice. I believe FreedomToCompute is a constitutional American right and we are proving our case

Media Politics

Day 1280 and Campaign Season

I am very much beginning to wish I had not watched the presidential debates. I want to say it’s been amusing to watch the different flavors of panic, but it makes me feel a bit gross.

Schadenfreude feels like a cousin to envy. It’s a dirty vice you shouldn’t be swift to cultivate in yourself even if it’s a very human response. I’d prefer to cultivate what virtues I can embody even if imperfectly.

I don’t want to lose my head just because everyone else seems to be doing so but it’s hard not pay attention to the politics when it’s the 4th of July week. I know I can’t do anything about national politics so I continue locally and on issues where we can have clear impact like housing and regulatory reform.

It’s possible that having more hands on experience with on community boards and with local permitting made the more tangible aspects of “Yes In My Neighborhood” campaigns clear to me.

I would prefer to be active in my contributions and focus on solutions. Am I angry and afraid when I see national politics and grand geopolitical news? Of course. If I thought about it too much I’d remember that everyone involved is human just like me. Then I’d worry even more. So I’ll try to focus on moving what I can.

Emotional Work Media

Day 1279 and Not The Whole Story

I have recently been prioritizing correcting mistaken impressions of the world. As the rationalist set say, I like to update my heuristics.

It’s just not all that uncommon to believe wrong things and for the wrong reasons. We find out with alarming about retracted studies, updates to long held beliefs about culture or politics, or simply something galling about reality. And so sometimes we have to adjust our priors. We never have the whole story.

I recently found myself comparing myself to another person only to get quickly reminded of a set of circumstances that made our situations basically incomparable. I simply didn’t have the whole picture.

My mother loved a hippie bumper sticker about the folly of sincere youthful knowledge.

Quick ask your teenage for advice while they still know everything

The best part of middle age is discovering just how little you know. It can feel paralyzing at times. I’m sure you can imagine how “I don’t know the whole story” can be interpreted in many ways. I hope to be on the sunny side of learning.

Two men sit on a bus. On the dark side facing a dark mountain we see scared sad man with a “I don’t know the whole story” thought bubble. On the bright side of the bus with a wide vista a man thinks “I don’t know the whole story!”