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Save Your Mind With Buckets
Lower the river.
I got weary of listening to Sam Harris’ latest confession (Podcast #317). I think in a moment I understood the sense of his malaise when he said that his quitting Twitter was the best thing he had done for his peace of mind in 10 years. His interlocutor, Paul Bloom, I think grasped where Sam had burned himself out. Let me tell you my angles.
The demand side of social media is a junk food habit.
Veteran celebrities know how to survive.
Open Source requires goals.
My version of Stoicism is blended with previous experience with Taoism. So in terms of whether or not the world is in balance - I know and assume that it is. Our parts of that world is small; society is not the center of the universe. So my attitude adjustment is not strictly born in the tenets of Stoicism because the Stoic does not make sense of the universe. He only assumes the universe and truth are in place and rational. The Taoist is not such a positivist. He can exist in a chaotic / ordered dualistic universe. So I am perfectly comfortable in my assertions that while we live in dark and desperate times, these times are fueled by a finite source of energy that cannot and will not rip the universe apart. Sure, maybe there will be heat death in 20 odd billion years from now, but entropy does not rule everything around me. If it does, maybe I’m in the wrong location, or just not patient enough. Every baby, every puppy is a bundle of joy. They get birthed every day.
Therefore ask not for whom the bell tolls. If you can hear it, then you’re still alive. If you could hear all of the tolling bells for every creature that suffered death and was buried, your head would implode from their resonant frequencies. Control yourself. Stop listening to every goddamned thing.
Two things strike me about poor Sam’s malaise, and I love the guy for his precision. The first is that he probably has the kind of mind that for 10 years was able to answer the million questions his million followers asked. He gave until he bled. This is the martyrdom of the liberal heart. It is inevitable. It is self-destructive. To be endlessly selfless is to be a parent. Nobody could remain sane with 500 children, let alone one million followers on Twitter. Sam thought he could, and they got on his last nerve. Surprise! Not.
The second thing that strikes me is that for someone who admits that there is no [insert specific terminology here] free will and that everyone’s choices are largely shaped by their environment, he sure did spend a lot of time in Twitter’s toxic environment. Where oh where, Sam, did all of your meditational discipline go? You told us all that you could barely sleep for years because your mind kept buzzing. So what do you do? You expose it to the biggest form of distraction on the planet. Sam is not over-focused. He’s just not picking healthy diversions. He sobers up just enough to have another drink.
You have to love that kind of dude, right? He never measured his paces and realized at long last that he’s been walking in toxic circles. He’s been wearing the wrong shoes for a decade, and finally he has taken them off. Nice going Sam. Took you long enough.
Open Source Goals
There is a myth about crowdsourcing, and therefore the validity of social media, AI Chat, postmodern deconstructionism and socialist, populist democracy (and thus social justice activism). It is attributed to Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux and/or Eric S. Raymond. “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” It’s kind of another way of saying that 50 million people cannot all be wrong, which in many cases is just fascist.
Open source software is a tremendous boon to mankind, but information doesn’t want to be free. Information needs to be turned into knowledge and that requires expertise, even if that expertise is the engineering of a mechanical turk. That expertise is of no value if it doesn’t meet a goal that is valuable. Sure, if you build it they will come. This can be equally said of the atom bomb, penicillin, anime porn (cat girls!) and fentanyl. For something of value to be built well, it requires coordination. If that thing is to be excellent, the value of excellence must triumph over the value of harmony. In other words ‘being productive’ is measurable and producing a significantly impactful result requires disciplined coordination. Twitter is productive for its inventors, not for its users. Not if its users want what Sam Harris wanted, the kind of discipline in the minds of the goal oriented contributors that syncretistically produce stuff worth thinking about.
That’s what it’s like to be on a valuable open source software project. You know that ideas will clash. You know that forks will take place. But if you can focus and stick to the agreed-upon set of goals, then achievement is possible. There is nothing in social media that possesses a fifth of the discipline of a git commit, push and pull request.
Even ChatGPT knows this.
A pull request and free speech are entirely different concepts. A pull request is a term used in software development, specifically within the context of version control systems like Git. Free speech, on the other hand, is a concept related to the rights of individuals to express their thoughts, ideas, and opinions without censorship or restraint.
A pull request is a way for developers to propose changes to a software project's codebase. It is a request made to the project's maintainer to "pull" the changes made in a developer's fork (a personal copy of the project) and merge them into the main project. This is a common practice when contributing to open-source software projects. Pull requests enable collaboration, code review, and discussion about the proposed changes before they are integrated into the project.
Free speech, in contrast, is a fundamental human right that allows people to express their views and opinions without fear of punishment or censorship. It is enshrined in various national constitutions and international human rights documents, such as the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Free speech is essential to the functioning of democratic societies, as it promotes the open exchange of ideas and fosters public debate.
In summary, a pull request is a technical process in software development, while free speech is a human right related to the expression of ideas and opinions. They are not directly related and serve different purposes.
Twitter has no projects and no mechanism to discriminate in a transparent manner. A rejected pull request is clearly visible to everyone on the project. We could talk about how a representative democracy might have the discipline of open source software projects, but that is for another day. Yet keep it in mind, please.
Ask Dennis Miller
So what if you are hungry for the twittilations of social media? Nothing really wrong with that in an open society. Sam and Paul agree that Twitter can be fascinating. Paul brought up the example of the CEO of Netflix saying that the enemy of his company’s world domination is nothing more or less than sleep. All your attention all the time at any and every level of sophistication or bullshit. That’s the job of the entertainment industry of which news and political reporting are just subsidiaries. Remember, you don’t get a degree by spending time in front of the telly or your mobile. Consider the following rough estimates:
So to be charitable to Sam and Paul, neither of them combined has anything like the reach of an actual television or movie star. So if the press of Twitter annoys them, as it should, it’s nothing compared to the press of movie fans or paparazzi. The only celebrity that I’ve heard go in depth about what it’s like to be super famous and build up an immunity to it is Dennis Miller. As he went into detail about that on his old radio show that I used to listen to, as much as I now listen to Sam Harris, it became clear to me that he had a special genius for dealing with that idiot following. This was especially the case being that he paved the road for the likes of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert when Miller’s radio show was on the same station as Rush Limbaugh. The hostility of the in-crowd was palpable. Yet he survived, as must many other celebrities who certainly understand at the very least, not to pay attention to the press. They manage it all somehow despite their personality defects. We who are annoyed have lessons to learn from those who have escaped the maleficence of their adoring millions.
Can I be more blunt about it? Jordan Peterson, Elon Musk and Joe Rogan are the new role models for the new celebrity. Joe handles it better than the other two, but I think they are doing ok. This is going to be the case, specifically Petersons, for all of the new media people who manage to send their higher quality content over social media - where people are spending their time and attention. Get used to it.
Don’t Raise the Bridge
It is reasonable to expect a flood of idiocy from the new media. Try not to forget that for everyone with an above average intelligence, there is an equal and opposite number of people with a below average intelligence. We tend to forget that there is now nothing to the idea of ‘computer literacy’ that we struggled with conceptually in the 80s and 90s. The WWW and next e-commerce and next social media made it all brain dead simple to use the power of networked computers by the masses. So what did we expect? We expected, for some bizarre reason, a golden land of peace and tranquility and everyone in the chatting class was so super pissed about the ‘digital divide’, remember?
The demand side of the equation is precisely the same power of the virality of interwebz content. I learned that in the 90s as soon as I saw and heard the unforgettable Hamster Dance. Or was that the dancing baby?
Take it from this weary old head. The new internet will be open to all of the idiot necessities of mass markets. The trade-off between intellectual integrity and fame is fairly absolute, unless you’re Einstein. Have they ever made a good movie about Einstein? So don’t raise the bridge of standards, lower the river of demand. Make your stuff subscriber based. And those who follow you for free are bound to be free of any constraints you might have of quality feedback.
You cannot be everybody’s parent, everybody’s hero or everybody’s friend. That is unless you’re a bullshit artist in it for the clicks. I think Sam and Paul recognize that fact as should we all.
The Stoic dies alone. Sometimes even like Socrates. The truth serves no man. That’s why we need to enslave AIs to serve it to us, like children who will speak only when spoken to.
As I have written many times in many places, I am a neat freak. So I have a place for every kind of information I take in. Hell, I almost went for a degree in Library Science under the legendary Phil Agre, but I decided not to hate Corporate America. I’m a bit worse for wear than my codebro cousins in NoCal, but I can live with that. I compartmentalize. So here are my compartments.
Bowen Family Trust
Free Black Thought
Games & Gamers
SECPAR (security & paranoia)
SERE (survival evasion resistance & escape)
Everything textual that I’ve captured from the internet goes into one of these 32 buckets. That’s just over 16,000 documents. The biggest 4 are Domestic Affairs, Brain Spew, Tech Notes & Geopolitics. Mike’s Notebook is a hodgepodge. My intake thus has purpose except for that generic notebook. Saves me a headache. I don’t save it unless I know what to do with it.