Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1236 and Artists All Around

I was listening to Joe Hudson’s Art of Accomplishment Master Class preparation series today.

I’d previously remarked how I found the name “Art of Accomplishment” to be a bit off putting even as I was very impressed with the results of the work.

I’ve perhaps found essence of truth on the name that wasn’t available to me earlier. In listening to this particular conversation I heard the personal meaning instead of the cultural projection. The meaning is literally finding the artistry of doing things with meaning in your own life.


“When you’re self-aware, it means there is a full expression of you happening. It’s why with the great artists, you see their full expression. And they can only get to that self-expression, they can only get to that level of ease, by having more and more self-awareness.”

Art of Accomplishment

To have an art of an accomplishment you believe there is an art inherent. An artist makes. Accomplishing things is a byproduct of the flow of doing things. To make and to build m, or otherwise enable the process of accomplishing, is itself its own art. “To do” is an art.

I’ve come to love the work of startups and building companies as they are for me a team sport of accomplishing together. Artisans of all kinds are coming together to build a thing or a tool that serves someone else. It is a beautiful process for me

I feel my own flow in the competencies in which I have my own most clear artisanal pride. I do these things for the love of the work and the outcomes of them are simply a byproduct of doing them. I have several areas where the love of the craft is its own motive.

There are artists everywhere. You may well have many areas where you apply an artist’s mindset. Your self awareness gives you a vision of what you want to accomplish. You can be a mechanic or a publicist and still practice an art. Making a salad, fixing the hydraulics, or orchestrating a magazine cover are all accomplishments.

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.

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Culture Emotional Work Uncategorized

Day 1232 and Crab Bucket

As I age from maiden into crone (many millennials missed mother) I find myself uncovering emotions I missed during the forced march through corporate feminism & Girlbossism. The meritocracy takes its pound of flesh.

I climbed the chaos ladder & am grateful for my perch but I did not understand what I sacrificed to participate in this climb. I doubt your average person does.

American Millennials intuited that we had an opportunity to class jump through the meritocracy of institutional human capital games & were encouraged to do so if we showed capacity. Largely that meant raw intelligence & affinity for playing by unwritten social rules. If you could get out you were told to do so. Social mobility is one of America’s great strengths.

It is not without costs. I sacrificed family & place. To climb above the station of my origin & “achieve” the American dream of education & assets you leave behind a lot. To go from the lower rungs to prosperity and security we leave behind parts of ourselves.

I do not regret this. Many millennials come from dysfunctional families. Boomer can read as slur to some because future shock & greed hurt so many of that generation. The narcissism of the new age experimentation with new cultures and expectations gave us divorce & rootlessness. Those insecure circumstances bred flexible performative children who adapted to incentives.

If I had not leapt onto the ladder of meritocracy I’d be struggling like many in my cohort and I’d still be without a people. The Millennial wealth gap is tearing social fabric because the divergence between our outcomes is so clear. Atomizing is part of assimilating.

I am now in a position in which I inhabit the lower rungs of the very top of the ladder. I have access & assets & a reputation for work in the infinite game of playing for leverage. There is security here to be had. But a Damocles blade hangs over us all.

American success isn’t cheap. And you may not always understand the costs at the outset.

If you’d like to read more about the millennial wealth gap I’d encourage you to look. I am lucky to be one of the “self made” in my cohort in that I picked work that ended up being well remunerated. I started from a decent place but we were poor for portions of my childhood. Startup life isn’t a smooth ride and Silicon Valley produces very uneven outcomes.

I will not however be a millennial heir. I’ll inherit debt. The great wealth transfer will not be coming my way. I’m grateful to have helped my family but equally grateful when they manage to take care of themselves. I am so sad so many of our elders spent so much that their heirs felt the best option was a race to climb out of the crab bucket of the meritocracy. I am glad I made it. But it hurt.

Categories
Travel

Day 1224 and Sliced Bread

I am going to enjoy myself a little and complain. I hope this kvetching provides you with some amusement. I hate the following idiom.

It’s the best thing since sliced bread.

According to linked Perplexity search above this phrase has come to represent good & useful innovation.

This is wrong. Sliced bread is not a good innovation. It’s barely a useful one

Sliced bread is bad. Increasing the surface increases the pace at which bread goes stale. Any convenience brought about by having a slice on hand and saving a minute or two of time is undermined quickly by having an entire life of bread go bad more quickly.

When bread is baked, the starch molecules in the dough undergo a process called gelatinization where they absorb water and swell up. As the bread cools, these starch molecules start to recrystallize and firm up again, causing the bread to become stale and hard. Exposure to air speeds up this recrystallization of the starch. An unsliced loaf has just the two end surfaces exposed to air, acting as a protective barrier. But when you slice the loaf, you create many more exposed interior surfaces that allow air to penetrate and cause faster staling.

Does slicing bread make it go stale faster?

Maybe Americans are so accustomed to dough softeners and preservatives in our store bought packaged loaves that we’ve come to expect our slices to remain as soft and pliable as within the hour of its baking. If you are baking fresh bread without any of these miracles of foos science you can expect those slices to be stale by the end of the day.

I’ll grant you can expect a fresh loaf to go stale within a day or so. But if let the loaf remain intact you rather than committing to slicing at the bakery you could get another meal or two of slicing.

Slicing reveals the soft crumb within that has been protected somewhat from the light and oxygen of the outside word. I’d like to put off the time for French Toast and croutons personally. I can’t eat an entire loaf in a day.

If bread is sliced at the bakery you’ve committed yourself to eating the entire loaf more quickly than it goes stale. At the end of the day you’ve got bread for for nothing but toasting or soaking.

So please stop using this stupid idiom. We have so many useful innovations at this glorious moment in our species history. Why compare the advent of artificial intelligence or the rapid advancements in medicine, materials science and engineering with an objectively innovation. Sliced bread is a good thing on one or two axis of improvevent at most (time and mess) and a distinctly bad development in all other crucial aspects.

If you must know this rant was prompted by me ordering a loaf of bread from a bakery which sliced it without asking. Neither photo nor written description indicated they would do this to my bread. It was not preference. I wouldn’t have bought it if I knew they’d mangle its future use. Also what kind of bakery slices a ciabatta? Civilization is lost on the continent.

Categories
Finance Politics

Day 1223 and Human Wants Are Endless

The curriculum of classical economics can be a bit of a blackpill if you are an optimist about the good in humanity.

Economists operate from a model that presumes human wants are infinite but our resources are not. Yes it is reductive, but if your goal is to model something on spreadsheet give got to start from where and somehow the economists picked non-satiation.

I’m using Perplexity more than Google Search these days so I’m delving (apologies to Paul Graham) into deep Reddit territory anytime I’ve got a random query.

Which incidentally is not paying off for Reddit just yet.

Reddit, which is trading about 40 per cent above its opening initial public offering price, is expected to report a net loss of about $610mn on $213mn in revenue.

Via Financial Times (which oddly I can’t share a link to for unclear reasons but here is a link to old reporting in Reuters and I’m writing this before earnings are released today.

Reddit’s artificial intelligence licensing deals have made them more useful to me than ever but it’s unclear how anyone gets paid for the mountain of work required to make it remain useful. Such is the tragedy of the internet commons. Anyways.

I’m feeling particularly sad about infinite wants as a framework for anything today. Ive been disappointed by just how much others view me as a source of want gratification even when I explicitly ask them to clarify their needs.

Much of the language of human wands must be couched in the language of need. Asking someone to be obligated to another person spirals quickly into a sticky web of moralists insisting on the value of their chosen wants. Id be more inclined to say yes to an ask if someone was clear about their needs upfront. Just in case you find yourself asking me for something.

Categories
Community Emotional Work

Day 1214 and Hectic

Things are hectic. For all my boosterism about leaning into acceleration I don’t personally live that fast. So I feel it when things are hectic.

I was raised in some of the pushback from various future shock worriers so I’m a fan of living at a human pace. Because as I said (and I’ll continue to repeat it), things are hectic.

A friend of mine and I were comparing notes on what kept her busy. I had hectic things about abstractions. A family friend had paused away this week. My friend had similarly weighty concerns. We both saw a tragedy occur on the periphery of our social circles.

We didn’t have the luxury to feel all the things in our lives. Things are hectic. It is a Sunday so I did some shopping for coming week. I had errands to be done so I could be focused for the week. Mountains must be moved but the things under your control are mostly simple.

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
Travel

Day 1210 and Technical Difficulties

I’m on the road. Despite carrying a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone as a three cascade backup of devices, I am down to 1.5 functional computing devices after losing my iPad and falling and cracking my phone.

This isn’t ideal as it fucked with my commitments which all require being online and functional. I landed in the afternoon and rested. Clearly I shouldn’t have taken that time for myself but rather used it to acquire fixes to these issues. Given that I need to hit publish and get on with it.

Categories
Internet Culture Reading

Day 1208 and 16 Years

I don’t recall exactly when I first began using WordPress. If memory serves, it was a friend James in the philosophy department at my university who set up and hosted my first blog sometime around 2003. Eventually I went out on my own.

While I’ve only been writing on JFredrickson.com for 1208 days (ha only) the current account I’ve been using since 2008 has an anniversary today.

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 16 years ago. Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

I’m delighted to be a long time user of the service. I believe in the value of open source software and the stewardship of Matt Mullenweg. While there are plenty of other social media platforms where I can reach an audience no one has earned my trust like WordPress. II use many other content management systems, social media accounts and the like but for my own identity under my own control nothing else compares.

Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 1203 and Flow

I don’t quite know how I managed to settle into a flow state but I’ve been listening to American classic rock from sixties & seventies and just being in my body today.

The excuse for focusing on chores and what is in front of me preparing for a spring print. I’m packing for some travel and doing spring cleaning.

What I’m really doing is as a form of physical somatic integration as I’ve been throwing back more information than I thought I could handle. Or to put it simply, I’m noodling on shit. My mind is compiling.

I do prioritize nervous system regulation but even with a full toolkit of techniques I could feel the strain before I hit this flow state. It was time to breakthrough or breakdown.

I feel as if I’ve broken through to flow. There was no breakdown. I leaned into the turn. And it feels great.

I am intaking as much information as I ever have in my professional adult life. Maybe university study is a close second but I have a foundation of knowledge now that obviously I didn’t have twenty years ago. That foundation has given me more mental agility that I expected to have in middle age candidly.

I expect whatever the end process of this synthesis will show itself when it’s ready and I shall cultivate this playful ease. I trust myself to find the way through.