A cough is lingering but otherwise I'm healthy again. Thanks for all the recipes sent from last time, I can't wait to try them.
- (twice) staying up til 7am playing an old version of Pokemon (hello nostalgia...)
- attending volunteer training with SunWork to install solar panels
- making dumplings from scratch with new friends
- quality time with my sister and mom
I finished a few projects:
- two blog posts (one, two) for a volunteer group teaching programming to academics
- a tech audit for a local chapter of a non-profit repairing homes
- cleanup on my website. It can be hard to get thoughts out via HTML, so now I write everything in plain text and convert with pandoc (more details here).
Last week, I reviewed code changes and released an update for an open-source project. I maintain the project but I get busy and neglect it, and it's easy to get burned out.
Between this, and perpetual multitasking at work, I've been feeling overwhelmed (and taking it out on others ). I'm mitigating by "having some focus time":
Take 15+ minutes with no stimulus (computer, other people, activity). Let yourself focus on your body and surroundings. Try to notice details you usually ignore.
I stare at a wall, and try to notice the patterns in the cracks. My mind is clean, yet blank, whirring along smoothly.
The general idea of "no stimulus" is similar to "meditation" or plain old "relaxing", but I gave it a new name to reduce its cultural associations. It's working to calm me down and collect my thoughts.
I've had time to read and think, reflecting on less conventional critiques of our technological society. I dove into the eco-terrorist Ted Kaczynski's writings and interviews (linked below). I'm still formulating my thoughts, but I might be what Kaczynski refers to as a "crypto-leftist" (paragraph 230):
However, the most dangerous leftists of all may be certain oversocialized types who avoid irritating displays of aggressiveness and refrain from advertising their leftism, but work quietly and unobtrusively to promote collectivist values, "enlightened" psychological techniques for socializing children, dependence of the individual on the system, and so forth. These crypto-leftists (as we may call them) approximate certain bourgeois types as far as practical action is concerned, but differ from them in psychology, ideology and motivation.
He seems fascinated by survivalism and by individualism (at least, autonomy via small-groups). Technology makes us more connected, more unified, and more globalized; reducing individual autonomy and freedom to be "wild".
Most engineering problems (bridges and dams, power lines, transportation and shipping, communication technologies) involve shaping and servicing large societies, not individuals. Maybe this is "unnatural"; at least, unusual for a species. Still, I don't see a future with less technology than the present.
Nonetheless, I find his writing clear, coherent, and nuanced. Give some of these a try, if you'd like. Let me know what you think.
- An interview about life in Montana, and a letter to a friend.
- His thoughts on anarcho-primitivism, self-propagating systems, and effective revolution.
I like questions that reveal our motives and philosophy on the world. On my mind now:
Where (and how much) does your empathy extend? Who's in your in-group? Family? City? Country? Ethnicity? Species?
How much do we treat others like we treat ourselves? Who is "other"? When is a "what" a "who"? I don't see clear boundaries here, but it's easy to make them ("these are my people"; "this is my city"). See also Katie Booth's short piece about disability, infanticide, and Peter Singer.
Or maybe we cheer for the bacteria. Remember, being human is a team effort.
Things I've liked or thought about recently:
- magicians in communism: http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/your-card
- reasons for everything: http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/humans-are-special
- moral relativity: http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/moral-relativity
- Nietzsche as HR: http://existentialcomics.com/comic/161
- from my friend Erica: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2011-04-23
- my real philosophy: http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-consolation-of-philosophy
- do you Google your secrets?: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/09/everybody-lies-how-google-reveals-darkest-secrets-seth-stephens-davidowitz
- great talk on confirmation bias: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_R4eG-b4Tg
- do you know your science?: https://play.howstuffworks.com/quiz/bad-science-quiz
- the future of locally-grown meat: https://massivesci.com/reports/cellular-agriculture/rethinking-our-diets/
- the FAO's (voluntary) standards on so much!: http://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/codex-texts/list-standards/en/
- Lots of short videos on medicine: https://youtu.be/dyOnCu3l7uA
- christmas lights are in this shape: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catenary
- remember that you are radiant: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/6725/if-both-radio-waves-and-gamma-rays-can-travel-through-walls
- Charles Mingus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__OSyznVDOY
- Bill Laurance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6lB35y7y8E
- Rediscovering the immersive, psychedelic https://spaz.org/
- Snarky Puppy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_XJ_s5IsQc
- Damien Erskine: https://www.pandora.com/artist/damian-erskine/so-to-speak/kaluanui/TRm77KVtVb2hzKJ
- My friend Beti's new EP is out! https://www.cloudhatsmusic.com/our-songs
Send me what's on your mind!