Cybernetics and General Systems Theory

Foundational authors of Cybernetics and Systems theory:

Talcott Parsons
Niklas Luhmann
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Warren McCulloch
Jay Forrester
Gordon Brown
Jose Verela
Norbert Weiner
Claude Shannon
Ross Ashby
Alan Turing
James Maxwell
John von Neumann
Heinz von Forester
Anthony Wilden
Humberto Maturana
Ilya Prigogine
Gregory Bateson

These are a few names… but there are so many more that branched off into domain specific fields, though the origins of their ideas began with this complex systems background

It’s such a interdisciplinary subject. I’m constantly astonished how far reaching the topic is, and yet how completely unknown it is. As in, you discover that so many great minds contributed to it topic, and yet, it’s hardly known or understood. It’s like the ultimate platonic form.

Continue reading “Cybernetics and General Systems Theory”

Market Value Divergence

I’m trying to do a thought experiment and model a scenario, maybe a betting situation, where there are 100 people, and 10 people have 90% the chips, and the 90 remaining people have 10% of the chips, and all 100 sit around a table and must play a few hands and place bets every day.

If one of the 90 people is feeling lucky they’ll convince one of the high rollers to lend a stack of chips to play a hand. If they win that hand, they pay back the high roller and now will have a seat next to the high rollers.

But mostly 90% of low rolling players have to shine the shoes and clean the houses of the people with all the chips, just so they can get a few chips of their own to have a seat at the table to play.

And every day all 100 come and sit around the betting table, and place bets. The poor can only afford to place the ante.

If you took a median sampling of the players, you’d think this was a pretty sad situation.

Everyone is poor, or owes the high rollers some chips. They all work for the high rollers, since they have all the chips that are required to play a bet every day.

But for some reason the pot is always so big!

So strange.

It’s like. How can a pot be so high priced, when everyone else is so poor? The only explanation is that we’re are a handful of people who are placing bets and competing with each owner

Trying to understand how the fuckin stock market is increasing

Despite 33 million unemployed

Despite GDP contracting 30% 2nd qtr.

Despite estimated -5% GDP growth in 2020
Like what would cause the stocks to unhinge so dramatically.

I can only conclude this stimulus basically just went straight to people who have money already, who just decided to keep that money in the market, since they had excess cash on hand.
So this artificially inflated market values
What happens when we see earnings reports?
And all these companies are overvalued?

Will that even matter?

Probably not. Not to the people with money.
It’s just a betting game between the wealthy

Value is relative to the player

They’re taking a winner take all game

That’s the only corollary to this situation
They’re playing a winner take all game*
At some point yes, the bets are outrageous. They’re unhinged, to the median player.

After 90% of the players are essentially eliminated, the rest are relegated to simply placing an “ante”. It’s just to make it seem like there is a competitive playing field.

I’m trying to rationalize this surreal market divergence from the economy.

I just think it’s obvious that there is a separate game being played
The market is not public
It’s a private game
They just take our ante
It’s unsettling

Death and Stars

Can I tell you, my friend? I feel death in my bones. It makes me want to cry.

Not death of body, death of spirit. Though there’s certainly the feeling that my body is wasting away with every passing year.

I’m reading an essay titled Of Peace of Mind by Seneca. It’s my bedtime reading. Or perhaps daily meditation. I can’t adequately express how much that essay speaks to me.

I’m in this prolonged changeless season. Some years feel like months, and some months like years. These past years have felt like decades. So much has transpired, and yet so little. Moves, jobs, living arrangements, lifestyle changes, and the like.

Throughout it all, there has been a growing pressure, as if I have no where else to go. My aspirational visions have withered to attend to more present things: fulfill my current duties to the best of my ability, and derive a sense of pleasure and accomplishment for their fulfillment. This has made me fulfilled. Being responsible is satisfying, on some level.

The daily routines of mechanical habit give a sense of structure and meaning to my otherwise turbulent thoughts. This rigidity provides security, my daily bread.

But I feel malnourished.

Bread is not enough.

These daily disciplines act as gates that guard against the vacuous abyss that siphon whatever pleasure I can wring from life.

I’d like to tear down the gates, and jump into the abyss, race to the bottom, rather than fight to escape. I want to feel the center of its crushing gravity, and let it tear me apart and unfurl my spirit like an exploding star.

Gatekeepers

Talent is not enough.

There are gatekeepers of the world, and these gatekeepers define value.

They define value by making sense of the noise, of the cacophony of competing voices.

They implement systems to channel and distribute chosen voices.

They select what is worth seeing and hearing, what is worthy of public attention, of admiration and praise, and they categorize it for the people. They tell people what it is, and what it means.

The values they pick are always self serving. Gatekeepers select voices that reinforce their authority and position the most. This is natural, this is survival.

The systems they implement are often pay to play. They capitalize on the desire to be the voice. You must pay to play.

Sometimes there is a voice that the gatekeepers have overlooked, or ignored. These voices emerge out of revolution, out of defiance. They are non conformist that grow in influence in proportion to their rejection by the gatekeepers.

Eventually an outside gatekeepers sees the fire inside this voice, and builds its own channel and systems around it.

Sometimes it is the voice that builds these systems and channels for itself, and in time becomes a gatekeeper for other voices.
This is how it works, I believe. Roughly.
Any voice:

Actors, musicians, writers, comics, playwrights, dancers, academics, choreographers, artists, etc.

These gatekeepers are necessary. They are byproducts of society need to be lead, to provide a heuristic to aid judgement. The public chooses them to be guardians of public values, to represent what the public desires, what it avers.

But in time these gatekeepers stop serving the public, and start serving themselves. They preserve the status quo.

And a divergence occurs, and this creates opportunity for new voices.

The public is hungry for something different, that it’s not being fed.

You don’t need talent to succeed, you just need to serve the gatekeeper.

If you will not serve, you need talent, as well as resilient defiance, and an ability to endure solitary rejection, and sing with the same vigor, even if to an empty room.

Propaganda

I purchased Jacques Elull’s book Propaganda in 2012, but read it briskly, savoring the deep insights into humanity’s mechanical madness, and the sad susceptibility that each forgetful generation falls to soothsaying demagogues who program the populous with a prose which incites blind obedience that cost them their lives. I’ve recently began turning over the pages again to uncover these sage gems, which seem to reflect the tides of current times.

“To the extent that propaganda is based on current news, it cannot permit time for thought or reflection. A man caught up in the news must remain on the surface of the event; be is carried along in the current, and can at no time take a respite to judge and appreciate; he can never stop to reflect. There is never any awareness — of himself, of his condition, of his society — for the man who lives by current events. Such a man never stops to investigate any one point, any more than he will tie together a series of news events. We already have mentioned man’s inability to consider several facts or events simultaneously and to make a synthesis of them in order to face or to oppose them. One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones. Under these conditions there can be no thought. And, in fact, modern man does not think about current problems; he feels them. He reacts, but be does not understand them any more than he takes responsibility for them. He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man’s capacity to forget is unlimited. This is one of the most important and useful points for the propagandist, who can always be sure that a particular propaganda theme, statement, or event will be forgotten within a few weeks. Moreover, there is a spontaneous defensive reaction in the individual against an excess of information and — to the extent that he clings (unconsciously) to the unity of his own person — against inconsistencies. The best defense here is to forget the preceding event. In so doing, man denies his own continuity; to the same extent that he lives on the surface of events and makes today’s events his life by obliterating yesterday’s news, he refuses to see the contradictions in his own life and condemns himself to a life of successive moments, discontinuous and fragmented. This situation makes the “current-events man” a ready target for propaganda. Indeed, such a man is highly sensitive to the influence of present-day currents; lacking landmarks, he follows all currents. He is unstable because he runs after what happened today; he relates to the event, and therefore cannot resist any impulse coming from that event. Because he is immersed in current affairs, this man has a psychological weakness that puts him at the mercy of the propagandist. No confrontation ever occurs between the event and the truth; no relationship ever exists between the event and the person. Real information never concerns such a person. What could be more striking, more distressing, more decisive than the splitting of the atom, apart from the bomb itself? And yet this great development is kept in the background, behind the fleeting and spectacular result of some catastrophe or sports event because that is the superficial news the average man wants. Propaganda addresses itself to that man; like him, it can relate only to the most superficial aspect of a spectacular event, which alone can interest man and lead him to make a certain decision or adopt a certain attitude. But here we must make an important qualification. The news event may be a real fact, existing objectively, or it may be only an item of information, the dissemination of a supposed fact. What makes it news is its dissemination, not its objective reality.” —Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes

“Those who read the press of their group and listen to the radio of their group are constantly reinforced in their allegiance. They learn more and more that their group is right, that its actions are justified; thus their beliefs are strengthened. At the same time, such propaganda contains elements of criticism and refutation of other groups, which will never be read or heard by a member of another group…Thus we see before our eyes how a world of closed minds establishes itself, a world in which everybody talks to himself, everybody constantly views his own certainty about himself and the wrongs done him by the Others – a world in which nobody listens to anybody else.” —Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (1962)


“People used to think that learning to read evidenced human progress; they still celebrate the decline of illiteracy as a great victory; they condemn countries with a large proportion of illiterates; they think that reading is a road to freedom. All this is debatable, for the important thing is not to be able to read, but to understand what one reads, to reflect on and judge what one reads. Outside of that, reading has no meaning (and even destroys certain automatic qualities of memory and observation). But to talk about critical faculties and discernment is to talk about something far above primary education and to consider a very small minority. The vast majority of people, perhaps 90 percent, know how to read, but do not exercise their intelligence beyond this. They attribute authority and eminent value to the printed word, or, conversely, reject it altogether. As these people do not possess enough knowledge to reflect and discern, they believe—or disbelieve—in toto what they read. And as such people, moreover, will select the easiest, not the hardest, reading matter, they are precisely on the level at which the printed word can seize and convince them without opposition. They are perfectly adapted to propaganda.” —Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes

Thin Film Battery Technology: Leveraging Semiconductor Science to Build Better Batteries

The energy storage and battery industry needs to learn more from the semiconductor industry. Lots of talk about current battery science progress revolves around battery chemistry, the chemical mix and crystal structure and construction of the anode/cathode/electrolyte composition.

I feel like battery tech is 20 years behind where semiconductor is. Why?

No idea why battery science appears so far behind current semiconductor technology. I attribute the lag to economic incentives: we’re always near a power grid, and oil and gas are already stable stored energy sources.

When you look at the technology, battery technology would benefit immensely from incorporating the science of semiconductors. It’s weird that it’s not.

Essentially battery manufacturing is a less refined process, but extremely similar steps, involving coating/deposition.

I feel battery technologists and manufacturers would benefit from incorporating semiconductor processes, specifically thin film deposition techniques (depositing atomic layers to build circuits, gates, etc via vapor deposition or epitaxial processes etc)

I just googled to see if this was a thing, and it is. Albeit, not commercial, yet.

Thin Film Batteries seem extremely promising.

The recent “single crystal cathode” patent by Tesla to eliminate structural cracks within the crystal structure made me think about water fabrication equipment OEMs who specialize in building atomic structures an atom or two thin with various deposition techniques.

Battery Cell Manufacturing Processes

  1. Receiving (warehouse/logistics)
  2. Electrode
    A. Mixing (slurry coating)
    B. Coating (extrusion booths coat metal (copper or aluminum) substrate with electrode slurry)
    C. Drying (electrode web dries in big ovens)
    D. Press (presses web to desired thickness)
    E. Sun Bake (cures electrode)
    Splitting (cuts from giant roll into pancakes)
    F. Stock Room (stores before winding)
  3. Winding (wind anode & cathode into a jelly roll and tab weld for cannister insertion/cell assembly- highly automated)
  4. Assembly
    A. Jelly Roll Inspection
    B. Bottom insulator inspection
    C. Can feeder
    D. Positioning Jig Turntable
    E. Can and Tab Cleaning
    F. Jelly Roll Insertion
    G. Anode Tab Welding
    H. Anode Weld Inspection
    I. Cathode Tab positioning
    J. Cab Tapering
    K. Tap inspector inspection
    L. Pre-treatment
    M. Grooving
    N. Internal Sealant Coat and Dry
    O. High voltage inspection
    P. Top Cap Welding
    Q. Electrolyte Filling and Sealing
    R. Wash and Dry
    S. Wash Jig Buffer
    T. Height adjustment/IR inspection
    U. Resin Coating
    V. Appearance Inspection/2D W. Barcode printing
    X. Tray Packing
    Y. Pre-charge inspection
  5. Formation
    A. Room Temp Aging (24 hrs)
    B. Charge/Discharge formation
    NG Removal Machine
    C. High Temp for 24 hours
    D. Charge/Discharge – cells discharged
    E. OCV/UIR for internal inspection
    F. High Temp (48 hrs)
    G. Room Temp (cool down)
    H. Delta V 1 – inspection (voltage reading from cells)
    I. Room temp aging (48 hrs)
    J. Delta V 2 – NG Cells removed/ NG gets pulled
    K. Straight to Cell Warehouse
    Visual Inspection
    L. Destacking
    M. Check cells for alignment
    N. Unloading
    I. Redo Section
    P. 2D barcode check
    Q. Side check
    R. Top/bottom check
    S. Loading arm back to trays
  6. Battery Pack Assembly

The recent “single crystal cathode” patent by Tesla to eliminate structural cracks within the crystal structure made me think about water fabrication equipment OEMs who specialize in building atomic structures an atom or two thin with various deposition techniques.

Semiconductor science began in the 1960’s and never stopped. It exploded in the 1980’s once deposition and etch and photolithography techniques began to streamline. Once they learned how to etch transistors into metal, they only limiting factor was manipulating light waves, and the size of those waves.

We had 130nm gates in 2000.

Now we have gates 3nm.

A silicon atom is .3nm.

I say this because the efficiency of computing and microprocessing is directly related to the precision of depositing and manipulating layers of atoms….

And this is exactly the same challenges that battery is dealing with now.

Except battery science appears to be in the Stone Age.

They are just painting atoms onto foil substrates with imprecise extrusion machines.

They are not precise, and they aren’t manipulating atoms. They aren’t building atomic crystal structures with the precision they desire, and which is currently being achieved by the semiconductor industry.

The crystal structure is critical for efficiency and power density.

Maxwells proposed Dry Cell is a big step in this direction, eliminating solvents and liquid electrolytes.

But they are still depositing these materials with gross imprecision.

Battery science and manufacturing need to leverage the established deposition techniques of the semiconductor process.

The integrity of the crystal structure is critical for electrical efficiency, power density, etc.

Predictions

Within the next year:

  • Unemployment will increase, perhaps to +30%
  • Demand will shift from brick and mortar retail to online.
  • Restaurants will continue to suffer, and grocery will improve. More people will eat at home. Demand for “Cloud kitchens” may increase, but cash strapped consumers may not demand this higher premium service.
  • Automotive will be hit hard. No demand for new cars. People will travel and commute less. Cars will be less of a status symbol.
  • Oil is cheap, so demand for EV will decline.
  • Tesla will declare bankruptcy.*
  • Governments will struggle with budgets with no tax revenue. This will have cascading effects for gov employees, teachers, pensions, etc.
  • Short term rental industry will collapse. Airbnb will likely collapse. Lack of short term rental demand and outstanding mortgages will result in increase of home sales.
  • Home prices will fall as supply increases.
  • Travel and tourism will struggle. Cities and business in this industry will struggle.
  • Airlines will continue struggling.
  • Commercial businesses will see remote work success and increasingly move to remote work model. Decreasing need for commutes and expensive office space.
  • Home electronics demand will increase.
  • Lab automation will increase, with increase demand for mass testing and lab diagnostics.
  • Current food production outstripped demand. Food producers over supplied. Decreased restaurant demand will mean less food waste, further decrease in food demand. This will further impact food production, increasing need for gov subsidization, or increasing consolidation/monopolization of food industry.
  • Local farms will likely flourish as people are spending less at restaurants, and will spend more on high quality groceries.

The stock markets will reverse their bullish course soon, likely this month, and continue to decline as these economic realities begin settling in.

As much as I genuinely love Musk, I have been bearish on him for a long time.

I’m not trying to be a hater or non conformist, or any of that.

I just see two things as flags:

  1. He’s financed his growth, and when he stops getting finance, that’ll be a bad day.
  2. He’s got a bad reputation with suppliers. Doesn’t pay his bills so he can show positives on balance sheet for shareholders. Treats his suppliers like trash.

His model could work if he had infinite runway I suppose. Like Amazon, ramp and scale up revenue streams then flip some switches and turn on profits. But automotive supply chain is not like distribution or software. Very complex. And lots and lots of overhead. He thought this could be automated away, but he learned it could not.

So I think this is the year that Tesla has its reckoning. I think auto sales will be crushed. I think Tesla will have very low car sales. I think they will bleed out until their debt obligations hit, which between 2021 and 2023 are $4.2 billion.

There are a lot of variables still. They have this China factory building Model Y and some batteries. Cost is his biggest barrier to mass consumer, and batteries are a significant portion of total vehicle cost. His China plant should reduce cost significantly, thanks to cheap labor.

I’m curious how this relationship with China will pan out. I think it will reduce his costs significantly— China has cheap labor, almost slave labor (Uyghars). But then also have massive government intervention. This could be good or bad. In many ways Elon and China has lots in common: they do whatever necessary to get the job done. However, I wonder what arrangements were made. Did Elon sell his soul to the devil? Does Elon know that his entire IP will be stolen? Or will this be a saving grace, and will China bail him out to save face and use Elon as a propaganda tool?

I dunno.

But either way Elon needs to sell cars to stay afloat. And will definitely will not this year.

Teslas cash reserves will stave off the inevitable for awhile, but his salesmanship won’t work if there is no liquidity, or if there’s no one willing to bet on an auto EV company that no ones buying.

Elon knows all this. I think he’s worried, definitely.

Working at the Gigafactory revealed that there is a bearish sentiment regarding Tesla. Panasonic executives don’t want to continue working with Tesla. That’s a flag. Everyone at the factory supports his mission. Sustainability. Electric vehicles.

But he doesn’t run his business like he should. He doesn’t treat employees well, and he doesn’t treat suppliers well.

No one works for Elon. They work for his dream.

I don’t think there will be the demand he needs, not this year. With oil prices, with lack of commuting and traveling, with unemployment, etc. No way will Tesla, who has never had a profitable year in its 12 years as a company, somehow emerge unscathed.

The battery tech will be interesting. The most exciting part is combining Maxwell’s super capacitive technology with Lithium ion, which will increase battery life significantly, and also boost performance. Adding supercapacitive will reduce cost as well. We’ll see how this pans out.

Panasonic is launching its Tech6 battery in a few months. I believe this is unrelated. But Panasonic’s battery technology is leap years ahead of its competition. It’s worth noting that this technology is not owned by Tesla.

But Tesla actually doesn’t produce any batteries, and has never mass produced batteries. Building batteries in a lab is different than mass manufacturing. So no one knows whether Tesla’s batteries are just concept or will work in practice.

At the moment Panasonic is the sole supplier of Tesla batteries, and they produce double what the next largest supplier produces CATL, Teslas future China parter.

I think there’s a big risk China will likely steal whatever battery technology Tesla develops. Or just any technology period. This could be problematic for Tesla, assuming it’s better and less costly to manufacture than current batteries. China has 486 EV car manufacturers that would benefit from this.

At the end of the day, Elon is a showman. He tells half-truths. He’s not honest or transparent about the whole picture. About anything really. This may be well and fine, and business as usual. But there is a lot hiding that people don’t see. He only lets people see what he wants them to see.

People forget about all of his straight out lies, and only seem to remember the things he pulls through on.

I can list all the things he promised and never came through on, but it’d be exhausting.

He has indeed done remarkable things. Maybe unconventionally. Maybe with too much risk. But he’s done it.

I think as long as he has cash/liquidity on hand he can afford mistakes. Make 10 bets, one pays off, people forget the rest, he gets more funding, drives up share prices, etc.

I just thinks there is more than meets the eye with his Tesla business. I’m not convinced he’s got a sound business model yet. It feels like he’s constantly flailing, always desperate.

My intuition is that when cash/funding/liquidity dries up, these cracks will expose bigger problems.

Done.

I think I’m done being this version of myself.

That’s what I wish to say. But what that requires is discarding my current life, and reinventing myself, or perhaps embracing a version that’s been there all along, perhaps an authentic version, the real me, until I realize that I’m no good at being that person either.

Developmental Systems and Information Ontogenesis

Susan Oyama has some fascinating insights into developmental systems and biological evolution, specifically looking at genetic programming and the ontogenesis of information.

She explores the reflexive interactive relationship between organism and environment, such as how environmental features become embedded in genetic information and “manifest” as genes, and reciprocal selectivity between environment and organism, relating to both inherited and acquired characteristics, ie information/ programs.

Lots of interesting thoughts on the fundamental processes of life: constancy, change, and variability. And their evolutionary/developmental role.

She also explores the how biological constraints “generate” information, controls, and regulatory systems, rather than there being a guiding genetic principle to their development.

And much more.
Relating to our conversation about energy manifesting in forms of matter,

“The gene is a vehicle of constancy.”

Gene is information, information is order, order is pattern, pattern is repetition, repetition is constancy

Design is pattern. In-formation as shaping or animating.

Constructive to think of information as a manifestation of physical form, of shape.

Which, at its essence, is geometric.

Geometry is spatial,

And spatial is relational.

When I think of information, I think of syntax, of order, which determines a sequence of value-point, the meaning of which is determined by the sum of these values, as well as the order of the points, and the relationships between any one point.

When i think of syntax, I think of statements strung together.

Then I think of how that statement can be further reduced to abstract symbolic logic, while retaining the intention.

The logic of the statement is determined by the total symbols, as well as the order in which they appear in a sequence.

We can further abstract these symbols to on and off, 1 and 0.

01001001 00100000 01100001 01101101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01101101 01100001 01101110 00101110

The information contained relates to the total characters/points, and the relationship to all other characters. The sum and order.

But the “rules” are what result in the pattern. This could be random numbers. The only thing that makes it information is that we apply a set of rules to translate into something meaningful.

The rules require us to perform repetitive actions. Every time I was to refer to “man”, i must use the characters “m-a-n” in that order/sequence.

By using different combinations, i am not preserving the integrity of the pattern, and not creating structure, or order.

Something like that
As it relates to genetic information,

You can see the energy manifesting in matter. You can see the vibrations, the wave form, the repeating geometric structure.

The environment is buzzing with energy, with an energy force.

The constancy of that force manifests as repetition, as frequency, as Hertz.

This repetition is order. In the same way that a sine wave is repeating. Or a transmission signal has a repetition to the communication protocol, be it Morse Code or something more complex, such as UDP or TCP etc.

A crystal’s geometric form is determined by the repetition of relationships between its atomic parts.

The environmental energy force that’s acting on physical matter requires a constancy to impress and form and shape.

This constancy is an equilibrium
It’s a resonance
I just think it’s interesting…

How does information make its way into DNA.

How are genes encoded? What is the rhyme?

I know it’s a vastly complex biochemical process…. but it’s not random.
The environment impresses itself into the organisms DNA. Nature leaves her trace in every organism, and it never leaves. The environment of our ancestors is embedded in our DNA as information.


It’s not random in the sense that, chaos does not generate information.

The Almond Trees

“We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as [humans] is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks [we] take a long time to accomplish, that’s all.

Let us know our aims then, holding fast to the mind, even if force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. “Tragedy,” [D.H.] Lawrence said, “ought to be a great kick at misery.” This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are many things today deserving such a kick.”

—Albert Camus, The Almond Trees (1940) [Les’Amandiers]

Modernity

I was telling a friend how out of touch I feel recently, not just this past month, but over the years.

Of course I attribute this to a projection of my own circumstance, and I’m skeptical to assume that this is a malady facing society in general.

But I also feel that this narrative isn’t uncommon.

I wonder how many people feel increasingly out of touch with the world, but perhaps can’t put their finger on what they’re feeling.

I attribute it to my age, the consequence of growing older, to the my personal career choices, to my relationship choices.

But perhaps these choices are not unique to me, and the feelings they produce are not unique to me.

I wonder if my generation, if modern society, is feeling increasingly out of reach from one another, from life, from meaning.

I observe my daily habits, and remove the personalized importance I give them.

I observe the routines, not as a part of this meaningful lifestyle, but as a series of actions on inanimate objects.

I am a body of energized mass hurling through iterative routines, colliding with other masses is the environment, and these collisions comprise my relationships. I am a pinball bouncing from one place to another, in varying time and intensity.

My relationships, my interactions with the inanimate, or through the inanimate, has increased: Computers. Media streams. Emails. Apps.

The world comes to me, at my solitary convenience: Movies, groceries, mail, people, clothing, and the like.

In order for this post-physical community world to thrive and grow, solitude becomes even more important. Independence increases our dependency on the technologies that bring the world to us.

We do not choose what we know. It is chosen for us. The options are given. The prices are fixed. The system does the thinking for us.

The less we depend on others, the more we depend on the system, and the more our participation can be monetized, our labor, our thoughts, our preferences, our time.

There is a technological system that is replacing the function of physical community. Community was a dynamic system, capable of handling change.

Historically, community, the physical community, and the forum and neighborhoods it inhabited, promoted freedom of ideas, of thought.

It was as uncensored, and unregulated. We speak, and people heard.

We could speak to and negotiate and physically touch one another, and this visceral connection kept us anchored to each other, in a way that strengthen social ties.

Today that relationship is mediated by a system that taxes our participation. The mediation is a form of censorship. Advertising. Search results.

The tax is the price of accessing resources. Pay to play. We do not depend on the goodwill of people, but of technological systems, private or public. Platforms than aggregate all the demand, and control all the supply. These are the great regulators.

I’ve been feeling increasingly out of touch. As if there is an arbitrariness to the choices and the potential resulting outcomes.

Everything seems mundane. Trivial. The outcomes seem insignificant. The future seems to be arbitrary ideals pregnant with hope, but hope for what? I’m not sure.

I often wonder how much of my generation feels out of touch, and if they do, what they attribute this to. I’m curious if this is an isolated feeling, or if this is a signal from the collective unconscious that something is not well, and that the current path forward m is untenable, unsustainable. That the world we’re building, that we’re hoping for, is the exact opposite of what we truly want.

Which is, quality, meaningful, local physical relationships that we mutually depend on for nourishment of the soul. What we need is sustenance, and the ability to help one another.

And perhaps that exists for many people. But I wonder if the world we’re building is encouraging more of that, or less, and whether that’s something to look forward to and participate in, or revolt against.

Exceptional

“If you could be exceptional at ONE thing, but no better than average at everything else, what would it be?”

I think I’d want to be an exceptional artist. Probably a writer.

I was thinking mathematician.

But then I was thinking of the lives of mathematicians and their work, how narrow and niche and inaccessible it is to most people, yet how influential. Their contributions inspire almost every field, from engineering to physics to computers to design etc. And math seems to be timeless, crossing cultural divides and epochs.

But then, physics seems to be a bit more relatable. At least it deals the with the relationships of entities inhabiting the phenomenal world, rather than abstract expressions and relationships.

And yet, engineering seems a bit more creative, a way to utilize these mathematical relationships and create something unique from them, to solve problems and satisfy needs from the material of the world, via technology.

However, artists have this universally accessible and timeless quality to their work. It’s inspiring in some universally accessible way.

And within art there is writing, which seems to be this timeless artistic medium. Words seem to change the world. Books can program the mind. Writing seems to be the very basis of civilization. Words move men to action, to feeling, transcending the temporal, reaching out over generations, crossing all kinds of boundaries.

I think I’d love the ability to be an exceptional writer.

It’d be better to be versed in many languages, and possess the ability to borrow from the history and perspective and culture and meaning from all languages, and writing in all languages would be a tremendous skill. I’m sure it improves writing ability quite a bit.

So, art and creation.

The difference between instruments seems so arbitrary.

It’s difficult to choose between the instruments of mathematical symbols and linguistic symbols and colors and melodies. All these instruments of expression to manifest the intention of a man.

What does the world need? I feel like that determines the value of anything. But I’m not sure who decides it, if it’s the world, or if it’s the individual for the world. And so you just need to pick one thing and decide to do your part.

Uncertainty

The older I get, the less certain I am of everything and anything.

I expected the opposite effect growing up.

When I was younger, I was so certain about my decisions, about the world. Even if I knew that I didn’t know everything, I was confident.

Each passing year, I feel less and less confident about what I know, and more and more confident about what I don’t know.

And I don’t say that as a virtue.

I say that as a feeling of unraveling. As if life is not something that can be figured out, that’s it’s a cumulation of choice mixed with chance, and there’s no hedge to it.

G and I

Yea. G is not happy about it
Even tho she wanted to break up

She really wanted for me to object and fight for us. I just don’t have the energy anymore. Hoping one day things will work out and I’ll be able to convince myself that I knew what was doing all along

49% of me wants to work it out
51% of me doesn’t care enough

It’s tough
I don’t like hurting her
And i don’t love the idea of being alone
But i also have a verrrry strong intuition that I’m putting off the inevitable
So it’s like, do I “settle”, and avoid it, only to undermine happiness and satisfaction, just because I don’t want to deal with the discomfort and pain?
Yea. Who knows. We really don’t know. I don’t know. We don’t know what we’re doing
But I don’t have much to say
She cries
I just stare
I don’t want to argue
I love her and care for her and if things were different, this would be different
But they’re not
So I’m sorry
By comforting her I’ll just be lying to myself and her

So I just resist saying anything, other than we both agree it’s not working. I know you love me and I know you want to work it out, but that all depends on me being different, which I really can’t be. I’m me. And I know you think I’m consciously not being who you want me to be, but the reality is, this is me. And you don’t like it, and it’s frustrating, and it hurts you, and you know I’m not intentionally trying to hurt you, you know I love you. You just think I’m selfish, and not willing to put in the work. But I do… but i also just… am worn down. I feel like I am not myself
And I want to reclaim that

So this is apart of that
Letting go
Somehow

But it’s possible we become what the other person is looking for, or our expectations change
Because I’m aware that I’m more more attracted to the idea of her than her. And they are such different realities.

I mean this realization hits me when I become aware that this is not the kind of interactions I wish to have with people…

Like, why are we arguing? I don’t want to argue. I don’t want this conflict. I just want understanding. Can we give that to each other?

Why are certain issues so persistent and recurring? Why can’t they just be resolved.

Like, I definitely don’t share that attitude.

I definitely don’t share that perspective.

That’s definitely not how I see things.

So like. What the heck am I doing this with you?

Okay, it builds character. Patience. Empathy.

Fast forward 3 years. Nope. Not feeling like a better person. Quite the contrary. Kinda feel the same, or like I’ve just been making compromises this whole time, which makes me feel like I’m settling.

It’s like love and passion and romancy, interrupted by jolts of erratic discomfort.

I don’t want to live in some fairytale, only to be electrified awake by some very real conflict.

The conflict is we are not compatible.

We can’t wish that away.

I am me, you are you.

So I can’t keep clinging to some unreality, some dream that is how it “could be” and just temporarily suspend the real conflicts that interfere with the life goals that are embedded into my character, which I really can’t change, because that’s who I am or who I want to be, or at the very least, who I need to be to survive. To get by. To cope. To flourish within the circumstances that are my life

I often wonder how I’ll feel different when she’s not around, if the discomfort will remain, and just materialize by some other cause I project it onto.

Or if it will intensify, because I’m alone, and don’t have this partner, and then I realize that these feelings are my own doing, and running from them only amplifies their power

Or if the discomfort will diminish, and fade…. and as I center myself, and expand responsibility for choosing my happiness, by choosing my influences and activities and relationships, the stress dissipates and the peace of being returns…. and I find myself free, open, optimistic, empowered…. and energized with an attitude to seize life, knowing the only person in my way is me.

And i wonder if the latter, if this will only make me more selfish and independent, and more incapable of cultivating a healthy compatible selfless relationship

Or if it will lead to the happiness most healthy relationship of my life. The relationship is taxing. On these weird levels that require emotional and cognitive resources to cope with, which I’m looking forward will return.

It’s a big reason I’d like to end things. To free up this tax. This weird burden I feel like I have to contend with to maintain the relationship. The feeling that I’m responsible for her happiness, her states of being.

Advances

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.
—Alfred North Whitehead

I’ve been thinking about this quote.

The corollary of these civilization advances leads to inertia, or path dependency.

I.e., performing important operations without thinking of them.

The other risk is these operations become so unconscious, we forget why we do them, or why they’re important.

Or an operational structure develops from these iterative performances, and if one process is forced to change, the entire system undergoes a shock due to the systemic dependencies.

Though, I suppose this happens on any scale.

And I suppose these these operations can include adaptive mechanisms as well, so it’s not like we’re just mindlessly performing extended operations.

Functional Programming is the Future of all Computational Technology

Programming is just an abstract list of instructions.

Most programs are not functional, and so they break.

Functional programming (and the Lambda Calculus which formalizes computational relationships) essentially applies the laws of mathematical logic to computer programs.

Functional programming is difficult to implement, apparently, because semantics are not necessary concrete. Many programming languages allow for all kinds of logical inconsistencies responsible for crashes and technical debt.

But functional programming makes a program durable forever, as durable as a mathematical equation.

The benefit of moving towards a paradigm of functional programming is when you begin applying these programs to big data, when you begin migrating data and programs from one context to another, when you begin writing programs for programs…. the integrity of the program remains intact.

Functional programs remain modularized, and fungible for other functional programs to use.

Not so with current programming paradigms.

API’s try to translate, but it’s extremely limits, especially if you want to apply AI to the system. Each API is different for every program, so the syntactical integrity is lost through semantic translation.

Where I see this being critical is applying systems Artificial Intelligence to a network of programs.

In the same way a neural net works by computing the inputs within layers of mathematical functions, which get processed and weighted and moved into another layer, until there is a judgement output.

This only produces coherent outputs if the functions are all working from the same syntax.

If your functions all have different syntax, as a result of different semantics, your outputs will not be coherent.

If you apply a neural net to a system of programs, if they are not functional, they will not produce coherent logical outputs.

Functional programming is the future. It ensures mathematical integrity to computation of complex systems.

On another note, within functional programming context is critical. Therefore, all variables should be ordinal, because all variables need to account for temporality. This ordinality should be indexed to time, according to their present state within the program, and the functional dependencies of the variable related to their critical use.

Hygiene and Economy and God: How Bacteria, Fungus, Virus Steal Time

When you’re born (typically) your body inherits the microbiome of the mother. This only happens through natural birth. C-Sections prevent the baby from bathing in critical bacteria to culture it’s own microbiome for immune and digestion etc.

Viral infections are not passed to the baby. Viruses (99% of the time) do not pass the placenta barrier, and infect the baby.

So we know that most bacteria, good or bad, if untreated, is passed onto the babies. Fungus too.

So what’s interesting is that viruses do not pass onto child via birth. They can be transmitted in other ways, but the baby is virus free typically.

What’s fascinating is the babies are born “pure”.

As we go throughout life, we accumulate viruses.

They never leave us. They just exist in a dormant state. They also have the ability to change our DNA forever, or at least parts of our DNA through Viral transformation.

So we are born pure, then we accumulate all these bugs throughout our life. Some are treatable and can be eradicated (like bacteria), some are kinda treatable and kinda eradicated (fungus), and others are kinda treatable and never eradicated (virus).

As we age, we accumulate these bits of parasitic material.

Some we pass on, others we don’t (or at least not at first).

As you age and contract these parasitic bits, they change you.

It’s a weird thought.

We are never as pure as the day we are born.

Makes me think of the importance of hygiene and cleanliness— “Cleanliness is next to godliness”— and what hygiene and cleanliness says about a lifestyle, or even a culture.

How battling disease is so disruptive to everyday functioning, to economy.

And how the discipline of being hygienic and clean, though time consuming in the daily rituals, creates a net increase in free time not coping with disease.

Hello World

It’s Wednesday, a little after 10am, and I’m laying in bed, still in my boxers, laptop on my microfiber blanket situated on my lap. My upper torso and head is propped up by two pillows pressed against my fabric headboard. My girlfriend is conducting a ballet class online in the living room.

The Coronavirus lockdown is into its fourth week, and they extended until end of April, so another four weeks.

I’ve been struggling with motivation. We can’t leave our homes. Restaurants are closed. Retail is closed. Only a handful of “essential” businesses remain open.

It all began in February. There was vague reports of a virus in China, but that wasn’t entirely uncommon. It wasn’t until our motor factory suddenly went off the map, and production and delivery updates ceased that we became concerned. Then the Chinese New Year happened, then we find out that China is on lockdown, and less than 10% of employees showed up to the factory. This continued for several weeks, and it wasn’t until a month later than workforce production was at 90%. Meanwhile the virus seemed to began spreading globally, with reports in Italy and Iran, and in the USA with Washington State, Bay Area, New York City, New Jersey, and others. Since then it’s spread throughout the globe. Interestingly, it seems to effect developed nations, almost exclusively. Although, we shall see how India, who just instituted mass lockdown, and simultaneous mass chaos, fairs in this whole situation. I’m also curious to see if Africa is impacted, and to what extent. It could be catastrophic.

From middle of February to middle of March, the stock market dropped 35%, a historical decline. It rallied the past week and a half with news of a $2 trillion stimulus plan, but growing COVID cases and a reported expected death toll of over 200,000 over the next several weeks has slowed the rally, which appeared to me as nothing more than a bull trap or dead cat bounce. There was 3.3 million jobless claims filed last month, and economists expect over 30% unemployment by the time this is said and down. The supply chain shocks will be massive. I don’t think our economy will come out of this for years to come.

Meanwhile, my customers are providing some updates to their forecasts by pushing some orders out a bit due to sub supplier issues, but other than that everything seems eerily okay. I just don’t think the economic impacts have really set in.

I imagine the entire economy will collapse this year, at least for the USA. The government downplayed the virus since day one, minimizing and marginalizing it, no thanks for China’s propaganda which seemed to indicate it wasn’t as bad as inititally thought. I believe at the moment China is reporting just over a 100,000 people with the virus, and a few thousand dead. But there are stories of the cremation urn industry selling more than 40,000 urns… and we know China is keen to censor and distort narratives.

So now the USA, with its lethargic response, and complete ignorant disorganization, is facing an unprecedented experiment.

We shall see how it all unfolds.

Work has been okay, though my motivation has been struggling. Like I said, this is the fourth week of being trapped in an apartment. I went to Land’s End with my girlfriend on Sunday, the first time I really spent time out doors in over three weeks. It was so nice, so refreshing, to hear the ocean waves, to smell fresh blooming flowered, to observe the birds soaring in the breeze, and bathing in placid pools. The flowers were the biggest rush. The ocean breeze, its salty smell, mixed with seaweed and brine, blew over the shoreline, up the hillside where we walked, and filtered through the lush vegetation, wisping the scent of nectar along with it, right into my nose, filling my lungs, invigorating my being.

 

Labels are Lazy and Dangerous

I don’t think labeling people is helpful for critical thinking. I don’t like to label myself, I don’t like when people label me, and I don’t like labeling others. People are more than a political persuasion.

Liberal? Conservative? Democrat? Republican? These dichotomies are not helpful for exploring nuance and gaining new perspective.

Labels are not helpful for evaluating the quality of contents or substance of a person’s words and ideas and actions.

If someone is a “liberal” and I happen to agree with some of their ideas, that doesn’t make me a liberal.

If someone is a “conservative” and I happen to agree with some of their ideas, that doesn’t make me a conservative.

Labels are an easy way to navigate the world. They’re a convenient heuristic which allow our preconceived snap judgements to be projected onto others in an effort to control what they mean to us.

But it’s intellectually lazy. Calling someone by a label prevents us from engaging with new perspective and fresh ideas. The label allows us to have to figured out already. It’s a form of prejudice. We don’t have to engage when we label people or ideas.

The world is not black and white. It’s full of depth, of gray, of color. People are not good or bad. People are not liberal or conservative. People are not smart or dumb. People are not lazy or hardworking. There is context, there is nuance, there are idiosyncrasies.

People don’t belong in a box. You don’t. I don’t. Populations of individuals don’t. It’s dangerous to label an entire population of individuals to a single descriptive label. It’s dangerous, it’s dehumanizing, it’s lazy. It’s a tool of control. It’s undemocratic. Individual humans, constituting their lived experience, their personal history, their self-generated ideas, their unique relationships embedded within a network of other humans, cannot be generalized by some crude categorization and reduced to a mere label.

That is the most dehumanizing tool of all.

Invest

I hope you’re ready to invest this year.

Property/stocks/equities will be cheaper than ever

The market bubble is popping and the markets are deleveraging

No idea when it’ll hit bottom, but could be another year or more

As more people lose their jobs, people will sell off more and more of their property— stocks, homes, businesses— to get cash to make up for lost cash flow.

This sell off will flood the market and drive down the prices of most investments

It’s a great time to have cash on hand

COVID Quiet

Night and day there are continual streams of people and cars mobilizing all around, perpetually pulsing with noises.

And now…. quiet.

I never would have thought the city vibrates…. but now that there are no people, no one going anywhere, no rush, no hurry, all that remains is absence.

It’s not just an audible stillness, but a physical stillness.

It’s a stillness that emanates through the streets, into the buildings and walls, and settles in your core.

As if nature, that perfect harmonic peace, has visited the city for the first time, and graces you with her presence.

The people walking below appear lost, or lonely, as if they are wandering a place they don’t belong.

Life Will Never be the Same: Corona Virus

You ever get seriously injured, like impaled by something, or break something, and in the proceeding minutes you’re totally cool?

Like yea, that just happened. This is horribly bad. And you’re looking at the accident and see the gaping wound, still totally cool and composed as if it was someone else’s body.

You mentally register the gravity of the accident. But somehow you feel like everything is okay. Like, yea my limb is half severed, or my bone is broken and dangling before my eyes, or yea I’m missing a significant region of flesh on my body from a brutal scrape, or like, yea there’s a giant stick impaling my leg.

Or whatever.

But like. You know things are bad.

You know they will never be the same.

But somehow, it doesn’t seem real. Not immediately.

You see the flaming world trade center tower on TV and you passively think, yea that sucks. But everything will be okay. Then you see the other plane. Whoa. This is worse than i thought. Still, we will get through this.

You watch humans engulfed in flames jump from the smoke bellowing windows 100 stories high, and imagine the horror as they decided to leap to their death, rather than burn alive.

Then, as if time had stopped, the towers come down.

The general attitude is astonishment. Just head scratching “wow”.

It’s only weeks or months or years later than we realize life is much different, that it will never be the same.

That this appearance of a horrific wound that feels otherwise innocuous will change how we live forever.

We fail to grasp how it will change our lives. It’s not real. Despite our imaginative abilities, it’s impossible to conceive a world any other way than the way we’ve known and live it.

Despite this, despite the accompanying denial, the disbelief that we’re witnessing deep trauma that will forever scar the psyche of society, we know, deep inside, that life will never be the same, will not return to normal.

Our lifestyle will be different. The general public attitude will change. Work will change. Economics will change. Security will change.

In some ways life will be the same, but we won’t know in what ways until we have the ample vantage point of looking back, with enough distance to see the change.

I suspect the deterioration we’re witnessing will be worse than we can imagine.

And I don’t wish for suffering, I don’t want the drama of disaster. There is no satisfaction in death and dying and suffering.

But I feel if we appreciate the gravity of the situation, we will be more vigilant to take advantage of the opportunities that this adversity will inevitably present.

The public reaction, hysteria, panic, whatever you want to label it, is a symptom of something deeper.

There is fear, there is unrest.

You may be right, this Virus may, in the final estimation, be a relatively harmless strain that simply accelerates the inevitable demise of the old and week, a natural evolutionary wave to thin the population and strengthen the species.

But our psychosocial reaction to it is more telling.

We literally cannot conceive of how life will be when this situation finally plays itself out, when it’s finally over.

But when it that? Years?Some people think it’ll resume back to normal in weeks. I find that laughable.

Months? Unlikely.

Years? Almost certainly.

2007 mortgage collapse took 6+ years to gain the 50% market value loss.

There’s the hysteria.

There’s the actual virus.

There’s security measures.

There’s surveillance.

There’s economic impacts.


It’s unprecedented.

The 30% of stock market capitalization evaporated in 30 days.

Like, that’s pretty radical.

Like, $4 trillion disappeared.


$4,000,000,000,000. Nbd.

Herro? I guess everything will be back to normal in two weeks 🤪

Does anyone think the market will just do an about face and zoom back up?

Does anyone think that mass quarantine won’t have reverberating impacts on consumer demand?

On unemployment?

Less demand, less businesses making money, less need for workers, more layoffs, meaning less consumers, meaning less demand, more layoffs, less consumers, round and round until we hit some sort of bottom.

This fear…. does anyone here feel like spending, or making any luxury purchases, given all the uncertainty?

I doubt people will be spending freely anytime soon. The market just lost 30%, and its not slowing down.

I imagine everyone will be very conservative…. job security is uncertain. Market demand is weak.

Does anyone think there will be market growth this year? Nah.

JP Morgan, a bank who like others has a lot to lose in this fiasco, and A LOT to gain by giving the market confidence, estimates GDP for 2020 will be…. -1.1.

What a vote of confidence.

And this is just a speculative collapse.

Nothing happened yet.

We’re only a month in.

The sell off happened in sheer anticipation.

10% of the population owns 81% of the stock market capitalization.

We haven’t even seen the impacts.

From Feb 19 to Feb 28 the market dropped 15.5%, when there was only 63 cases in the USA.

We have not even experienced the impacts.

Can you imagine once shit starts hitting the fan?

Once business have mass layoffs?

Let’s assume the virus is mild.

The economic situation is irreversible.

I feel like the COVID is a convenient scape goat for financial market restructuring.

The wealthy have been feeling the pressure for years… the only thing that incentivized them to keep their money in the market was the Fed’s policies, monetary policy, excellent interest rates, incredible tax cuts, government subsidies.

But everyone knew it was a house of cards.

The Virus is simply a convenient mechanism to blame for the run.

That’s what it is.

The wealthy sold off. They ran.

And the impacts of the sell off haven’t even begun.

I’ve always read about these crazy historical events and wondered what it was like to live through it….

Like, what the hell was it like during the Great Depression?

What was is like during the Spanish flu? The Black Plague?

What was it like during the rise of Nazism?

These events are always framed and contextualized retroactively.

At the moment they begin unfolding, there is no frame of reference.

I’ve always wondered what people were thinking as thee events began unfolding.

Were they remotely aware of what was happening?

Could anyone had possibly anticipated the magnitude of the situation? Not just locally, but globally?

If people possessed an awareness of the gravity, would they have behaved differently? Would that have changed their lived outcome?

What is the risk of thinking that life will go on like before? That it will resembled anything remotely similar to before the event?

Reading

You know what I love?

I love reading.

No.

I love the feeling of reading a work that transports you, abducts your senses and listless thoughts to another world, with characters and landscapes that fill the theater behind the eye.

Reading is like exercise.

Sometimes it feels nice to go outside, to stretch your legs and jump and hop and run through beautiful fields and forests, meander through trails and hilly passages and breath the blooming air and spacious views from lofty ledges.

Other times it’s nice to set your mind to a place, with a metered plan to take you there.

Whatever the case, this physical exercise of the body, no matter how it’s scheduled or what the anticipation might be, whether we look forward to the exercise or not, it always leaves us feeling better thereafter.

Immediately afterwords, we feel more alive. In the proceeding days, our body is oxygenated, the muscles ache and hunger for nutrients, the body slips into deep restful sleep, and energy seems to abound where lethargy once was.

Reading is the same way, but it’s rare we think so.

I can read the same way I can escape into the streets and run into the fields with no destination in mind, just to gasp the fresh air and extend my legs and uncoil my body in open space. This is liberating, the same way picking up an interesting book is liberating, with no destination in mind. Just the joy of letting the mind run.

But applying myself to a book is equally satisfying, saying this is where I want to go, and when. And focusing on the story or facts or theme until I catch a second wind, and an hour turns to hours and this is repeated until a book is complete, and the marathon of reading is done.

But the most marvelous byproduct of reading, of allowing my mind to engage in text, is the same effect that physical exercise has on my body.

It’s hard to imagine that reading has such an invigorating effect on the mind, but it literally produces a vitality that creates a more fluid imagination, more accessible words, more nimble acuity. After lots of earnest reading, the mind has an energy in the way of thoughts that it didn’t have before. The reservoir of ideas is fuller than ever, ready to spill into any fertile garden of attention and provide the right words and logic to cultivate fruitful ideas.

Reading has a marvelous effect on the mind, but it’s often overlooked as a chore. No time for reading. Just like no time for exercise. But the benefits are life giving.

Weekend Rest

I love sleeping in on the weekends, sleeping in on Sunday, after sleeping in on Saturday, and drinking glassfulls of wine throughout the day, while cooking dinner, and during dinner, long into the night, until I’m laying satisfied on the couch, glass in hand, book in the other, reading until the words on the page seem to tumble right out of the book, and I can barely see straight, and everything is fuzzy, but there’s a warm glow that fills the hazy drunkenness with euphoria, and the ends of my mouth curl in a pleasing smile as I slowly doze off, only to wake several hours later with the lights on, empty glass balancing precariously in hand, book open on my chest in the other, and I shuffle around to shut the lights while undressing on my way to the bedroom where my girlfriend sleeps, hearing her half conscious cooing in the dark as I slip under the covers, and waking at noon the next day with the weight of the night still gripping my eyelids, lips stained red, but feeling refreshed from the twelve hours of sleep.

I love waking up on Monday morning with these twelve hours charging me, rising at 5am to begin the work week, to prepare for the day.

And having the stamina to work all day without fatigue, because of that long luxurious weekend of rest.

The Pursuit of Wisdom: Devotion to God in Truth

Excerpts from Plato’s Apology

Socrates speaking on the eve of his execution…

“Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess.

If you ask me what kind of wisdom, I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained by man, for to that extent I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman wisdom which I may fail to describe, because I have it not myself; and he who says that I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character….

For the word which I will speak is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that witness shall be the God of Delphi—he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is.

You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you.

Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether—as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt—he asked the oracle to tell him whether anyone was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will confirm the truth of what I am saying.”

“Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you why I have such an evil name.

When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? and what is the interpretation of his riddle? for I know that I have no wisdom, small or great.

What then can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men?

And yet he is a god, and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After long consideration, I thought of a method of trying the question.

I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, ‘Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest.’

Accordingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed him—his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination—and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me.

So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away:

Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is,—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.

In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him.

Then I went to another who had still higher pretensions to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same. Whereupon I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him.”

“And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others:

but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing;

he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustration, as if he said,

He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing.

And so I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise;

and my occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my devotion to the god.”

My Life’s Aspiration

I want to build a school.
Like a giant monastery. The way universities were intended.
I think that’s my life’s aspiration
It will be named,

“The Academy”

And it will have two branches

“The Lyceum”
and
“The Gymnasium “

A throwback to the first schools of philosophy, the first academic institutions of higher learning, and the emphasis on mind AND body
It will not have grades
It will be a school of purely exercise
Mental and physical exercise
Grades will be on effort
Not outcome
Tests will evaluate the ability to generate questions to problems, not answers
Class will have no curriculum.

It will only be subjects. Objects of observation. General domains of perception.

There will be no classrooms.

No class.

There will be no class schedule.

Everyone is a student and a teacher.

Dialog is ongoing throughout the day and night.

Learning is all the time.

Sometimes there will be lots of meetings for dialogue, all day day days.

Other times individuals cloister in self reflective study, in solitude, for days or weeks if necessary.

Regrouping for continuing dialog is organic.
Everything is optional
Everyone must work to run the school.

Chores are rotated. Cooking cleaning laundry.
That’s the price for attendance
No internet.

Only a local area network.

The school’s values will be Virtue Ethics.

It will be a purely philosophical school.

Truth and Pain

What’s the saying… Something like everyone is a nihilist until their finger gets smashed by a hammer?

Regarding this nihilistic statement about the hammer, I was thinking about the relationship between pain and truth.

I actually think about this relationship a lot, as you might imagine. And how it fits into my earnest conviction that struggle is the ultimate teacher.

I also think about Sam Harris. This is one point that always resonated with me. Pain is the realest real. It is a guiding force. You can deny ideas all day long so long as you’re insulated from their denouement, so long as you don’t feel the weight of their logical conclusion. This makes relativism a viable philosophy. It makes everything nihilistic.

When there is no “consequential force” to expose the ignorance of ideas, they persist.

I feel this is much like our current culture.

The talking heads are full of opinions about the way it is. Social media, mainstream media, icons, experts, Authorities.

They live in comfort. Our entire society does, even the lowliest stratum rarely if even know starvation, no exposure to harsh elements, to hard manual labor that tears the skin and breaks the back, to wonton death.

At the end of the day, pain and suffering are the only thing that is real.

Struggle reveals the world. Pain illuminates consequences. It reveals the physical forces that reinforce the value of ideas, that aid in our survival, our flourishing.
In pain, there is truth.
Struggle is the greatest teacher.
It reveals the essence of what it, devoid of illusion.