What’s the Profit (কি লাভ)?

Why do it? I keep thinking about the differences in how people account for value. One dichotomy that comes up is people that want to talk and think about other people, and people that want to talk and think about ideas, without reference to people.

I remember once, on a trip to Italy, I was with a group that had hired a local guide. While the group was taking pictures of themselves and other people in the group, I was mostly taking pictures of the architecture, the sculpture, the paintings and so forth. Generally, I was not taking pictures of people. The guide stopped me and said something like, “If you were to come back, years from now, many of these things will still be here, but the people won’t be.”

He was right. I’ll probably never have that opportunity to take a trip like that with my dad again. This is true of everything, the moment will never return. It’s a variation on the theory of visitors.

It goes deeper than that, though. There’s the phrase: there are people that know the price of everything and the value of nothing. There’s a certain kind of cook who thinks it is a greater virtue to get the best price on ingredients or use all of something rather than have waste than to make food that tastes good and that people will enjoy. We do not live with such scarcity that we need to maximize calories per dollar. Yet, some people insist on it.

Culturally, you can see these kinds of values as well. For example, I make certain recipes, such as spiced maple caramels, caramel-filled butter pecan cake, idli, bread cooked in the kubaneh-style, home-made chili pickles, etc. The maple syrup in the spiced maple caramels alone would make it difficult to sell the caramels at a profit, particularly if much cheaper substitutes will be had. But, most people have never eaten anything like them.

The caramel cake takes about 6 hours to make. Idli requires at least two days of fermentation to develop interesting flavors. Bread cooked in the kubaneh style is slow cooked over 8-12 hours. Chilies can take months, even years, to fully pickle.

Some products that take a long time can make a profit. There are +20 year old ports, cheeses decades old, and so forth. But, I wonder how much is lost in a world that cannot afford to wait, that is more concerned about turning over the product and selling it than the quality, or uniqueness of the product itself.

When you start looking, you can see this everywhere. in cryptocurrency circles, people ask why the price isn’t going up, as if a cryptocurrency developed on a time line of a few years is going to generate value that quickly.

But, it seems the environment has us looking for profit. We know the price of everything and know the value of nothing. And, there is much that has value that is discarded, out of hand. Beauty, value and everything else being in the eye of the beholder.

Lowering Our Boggle Threshold

“Paranthropologist Dr Jack Hunter, editor of the newly released anthology Deep Weird: The Varieties of High Strangeness Experience, notes that psychical researcher Rene Haynes coined the concept of the ‘Boggle threshold’ to describe this phenomenon – “the point at which a researcher says ‘no I’m not taking that, I’m not accepting that any further, it’s too weird’.”

Hunter believes that we need to lower our ‘Boggle thresholds’ a little bit, and start paying paying attention to the more bizarre paranormal experiences – because “when we do that, we can start to look for parallels or patterns across experiences, and we see that there are striking similarities even between some of the most outrageous ‘high strangeness experiences’ and some of the most widely accepted transpersonal religious experiences.”

-Greg, “Deep Weird: The varieties of high strangeness experience.” DailyGrail.com. February 23, 2023.

Words & Phrases, 2022

  • no fixed address, homeless
  • asphodel, Greek land of the dead
  • bioreactor meat
  • food’s comforting inner cuddle
  • pay-triots, money-grubbing grifters exploiting a nationalist cause
  • the death of nuance
  • axolotls, Mexican salamander
  • mononymous
  • moral holiday
  • the holiday from history
  • call of the void, wanting to jump from a high place, hit a guard rail
  • det stora oväsendet, “The Great Noise”, witch trials in Sweden
  • metaworse
  • defecation on doorsteps
  • digital context collapse
  • torment nexus, propose a new technology and people will go to great lengths to create it
  • X accelerationism, or the belief that mainstream industries can be pressured or provoked into adopting X as a way to protect their assets from being ripped off by people coopting their IP for X
  • full recluse and cottagecore
  • …a part of eternity lies in reach of those capable of staring, unblinking, at the sea’s deranging expanses
  • COVID Casablanca
  • the election of the unfavorables
  • the dark throat of seeds
  • tourist investors
  • a little whalesong in the yoga studio
  • incipient knuckleheadism
  • dorveille, or wakesleep
  • HVEs, homegrown violent extremists.
  • DVEs, domestic violent extremists
  • songlines, divine pathways
  • Metamates
  • behavioral activation, the theory that your actions can influence your mood
  • bitter-enders, people who sit all the way through the credits of movies
  • crystallized in your chrysalis.
  • definitional collapse
  • anticipatory self-censorship
  • res ipsa loquitur, negligence can be determined from the nature of the injury in the absence of direct evidence
  • Debts to be paid: once for a simple trade, twice for free-given aid, and thrice for the insult made.
  • pluralistic ignorance, something no one believes, but everyone thinks that the vast majority believes
  • shitpost diplomacy
  • the fandomification of global conflict
  • geometric progression
  • riding-crop belief
  • the faces at the bottom of the well
  • a different slice off the same loaf
  • an endless chain of half-built houses
  • ambisextrous
  • a digital iron curtain
  • signs in the sewage
  • the stone that stirs the avalanche
  • cyberapocalypse
  • a personalist regime
  • the opportunity set, like the Overton window but for opportunity
  • convergent evolution
  • context collapse
  • revanchism, from the French, revenge
  • a dog’s breakfast of contradictions
  • a meaningless farrago of fragments
  • a hard school of danger
  • writing in a language that is at the corners of change
  • an arc of implication
  • cowboy economics: driven by the spirit of the limitless frontier, where we shoot (or drill) first and ask about consequences later
  • Risk cannot be destroyed, it can only be shifted through time and redistributed in form.—Christopher Cole
  • algospeak, changing the words you’re using the circumvent automated platform censorship
  • technowashing, the growing obsession with technological solutions to climate change
  • a dead link, a sign of ruin in an otherwise living space
  • Jammern auf hohem Niveau, high level whining
  • phlogiston, a hypothetical substance once believed to be present in all combustible materials and to be released during burning
  • prelude to the poop
  • the agency of the virtual, that which acts without physically existing
  • рашизм, “ruscism” or Russian fascism
  • jerk-light internet
  • left of launch, peripheral processes before things happen
  • right of launch, is addressing the present
  • hipshitical
  • blasts of complete batshittery
  • the wealthy, the pale and the male
  • endless struggle sessions
  • te voya decir la neta, let me give the truth to you straight
  • farkakte, Yiddish for covered in excrement
  • Mamahuhu, literally horse-horse, tiger-tiger in Chinese but means careless person or so-so.
  • a man of desires and grudges
  • buzzsaw of fandom
  • The devil wears Pravda
  • wicing, Old English for pirate
  • almost a Belter—antisocial, independent and intolerant
  • a kind of beautiful madness
  • bagualu, alchemist’s pot
  • Zeitenwende, end of an era
  • cyborg locust brains
  • Incertus, not sure of himself
  • ungatz, nothing
  • timeless turtle
  • grizzled geezers
  • The reality of the naive
  • metastasizing mind worms
  • ceteris paribus, all things being equal
  • pareidolia, assigning meaning to seemingly random patterns
  • siloviki, Russian literally people of force
  • No hoper
  • a Barbie that burped
  • [pills] a thousand tiny promises
  • Lashes to ashes. Bust to dust.
  • mingle-mangle
  • damned by dollars
  • epistemically foraging
  • umwelt, the perspective of the world and environment unique to a particular organism
  • mahraganat—meaning festivals, a style of music in Egypt
  • getihu, Chinese, individual businesses or sole proprietorships
  • eucatastrophe, Tolkien, the crash of good fortune.
  • subterranean secrets
  • lingxiu, Chinese, leader
  • deli bal, Turkish, mad honey
  • honey hunter
  • a black hole of charisma
  • dickle, dill pickle
  • forget-me-nazis
  • crypto-coven
  • KTLO, Keep The Lights On
  • plein, French, full
  • chicken of the underpass, rats
  • incel retirement community
  • asabiyyah, group consciousness or solidarity
  • counterelite, a heresiarch
  • Kalb al-Akrab, the heart of the scorpion
  • autoptic, based on one’s own observation
  • involution, reduction in size, increased complexity
  • eudaimonia, well-daemoned
  • ankang, Chinese, police-run psychiatric hospitals
  • proliferating varieties of absence
  • bezzle, when prices rise faster than real value.—paraphrasing John Kenneth Galbraith 
  • paralysed by choice
  • baizuo, woke educated liberal
  • legal cynicism, losing confidence in police leads people to resolve conflicts through their own means
  • abattoir, slaughterhoise
  • roué, debauched old man
  • wantrepreneurs
  • China’s final warning, when China warned Russia many times about the Taiwan Straight
  • graveyard of stars
  • Sokushinbutsu, living mummification
  • opportunity neglect, a tendency to reject opportunities with low probability of success even when they come with little or no objective cost (e.g., time, money, reputation)
  • dullahan, or gan ceann, Irish, a headless fairy carrying a swollen, greenish head with large eyes under one arm, and rides a black horse.
  • twindemic, flu and COVID-19
  • narrative creation overdrive
  • crosswalk cock
  • chumbox
  • kaiju eiga, monster-movie
  • inceligence
  • fertig lustig, ready/finalized and funny
  • ихтамнеты, in Russian, they are not there
  • fail whale
  • errorphants
  • randy reindeer
  • kurashi, hygge
  • vaca flaca, skinny cow, hunger times
  • shiterative
  • algospeak — vocabulary meant to skirt content moderation
  • Orang-Pedek, Indonesian, short person
  • wodewose, huge hairy wild men
  • Eyedropper of gravy
  • Less than mediocre
  • kalsarikännit, Finnish, pantsdrinking, drinking in underwear
  • feces thesis
  • JAG, Just A Guy, average
  • turd bird
  • Quintero, town in Chile that makes concrete and is so polluted it is called the sacrifice zone
  • peregrinations, wandering to different countries
  • Iblis, a Muslim name for the devil
  • VVVVVV, Vilket Var Vad Vi Ville Visa, roughly “Which was what we wanted to show” in Swedish
  • полный пиздец, Russian,completely fucked up
  • apanthropy: the desire to be away from other people.
  • sympathy grift
  • the daily death march of sorrow
  • ideology over evidence
  • melon felons
  • pyramid of skulls
  • anomaly cluster

Creative Immiseration

“These tools represent the complete corporate capture of the imagination, that most private and unpredictable part of the human mind. Professional artists aren’t a cause for worry. They’ll likely soon lose interest in a tool that makes all the important decisions for them. The concern is for everyone else. When tinkerers and hobbyists, doodlers and scribblers—not to mention kids just starting to perceive and explore the world—have this kind of instant gratification at their disposal, their curiosity is hijacked and extracted. For all the surrealism of these tools’ outputs, there’s a banal uniformity to the results. When people’s imaginative energy is replaced by the drop-down menu “creativity” of big tech platforms, on a mass scale, we are facing a particularly dire form of immiseration.

By immiseration, I’m thinking of the late philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s coinage, “symbolic misery”—the disaffection produced by a life that has been packaged for, and sold to, us by commercial superpowers. When industrial technology is applied to aesthetics, “conditioning,” as Stiegler writes, “substitutes for experience.” That’s bad not just because of the dulling sameness of a world of infinite but meaningless variety (in shades of teal and orange). It’s bad because a person who lives in the malaise of symbolic misery is, like political philosopher Hannah Arendt’s lonely subject who has forgotten how to think, incapable of forming an inner life. Loneliness, Arendt writes, feels like “not belonging to the world at all, which is among the most radical and desperate experiences of man.” Art should be a bulwark against that loneliness, nourishing and cultivating our connections to each other and to ourselves—both for those who experience it and those who make it.”

-Annie Dorson, “AI is plundering the imagination and replacing it with a slot machine.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. October 27, 2022

Strikes me as another example of the two computing revolutions. One is to make things easy with a touch interface. The other requires having deep knowledge of a complicated topic, such as building machine learning models – not to mention having the resources to do so at the highest level.

The point I would make is that creativity by proxy is still creativity. You may not understand how the A.I. generates its content, but we still can have an aesthetic sense about what is good and what isn’t that the A.I. doesn’t provide.

Xi Jinping Studies

“The Fourteen Imperatives are shorter. They all include the phrase ‘adhere to’ and are essentially a list of what party members must do to implement XJPXSDZGTSSHZYSX. Party members must adhere to: 1. party leadership over all endeavours; 2. people-centred development; 3. comprehensive and in-depth reform; 4. a new vision for development; 5. the people running the country; 6. socialist law-based governance; 7. core socialist values; 8. improvement of people’s lives through development; 9. harmony between humanity and nature; 10. a holistic approach to national security; 11. absolute party leadership over the people’s army; 12. the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ for national reunification; 13. the building of a global community with a common destiny; 14. the full and rigorous implementation of party discipline.”

-Long Ling, “Xi Jingping Studies.” London Review of Books. October 20, 2022

Probably the most interesting thing I’ve read about China in awhile. Maybe something to pair with this discussion with Diana Choyleva. Or if you prefer text, try this piece, also from her, “Xi Jinping Wins Big at China’s 20th Party Congress.”

Matt Levine’s The Crypto Story

“There was a moment not so long ago when I thought, “What if I’ve had this crypto thing all wrong?” I’m a doubting normie who, if I’m being honest, hasn’t always understood this alternate universe that’s been percolating and expanding for more than a decade now. If you’re a disciple, this new dimension is the future. If you’re a skeptic, this upside-down world is just a modern Ponzi scheme that’s going to end badly—and the recent “crypto winter” is evidence of its long-overdue ending. But crypto has dug itself into finance, into technology, and into our heads. And if crypto isn’t going away, we’d better attempt to understand it. Which is why we asked the finest finance writer around, Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion, to write a cover-to-cover issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, something a single author has done only one other time in the magazine’s 93-year history (“What Is Code?,” by Paul Ford). What follows is his brilliant explanation of what this maddening, often absurd, and always fascinating technology means, and where it might go.

—Joel Weber, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek introducing Matt Levine, “The Crypto Story.” Businessweek. October 25, 2022

Probably the most lucid discussion on cryptocurrencies you can read, right now.

Reality vs. Dualism: Raw or Pasteurized Dairy

“There exists a tendency to see all dairy foods as being either raw or pasteurized.  Like most dualistic concepts, this is a oversimplification, and there exists a rainbow between black and white.  If we want to move beyond what is actually a legal definition, to understand how different ways of processing milk impact the microbiology and nutritional value of dairy foods, we need to transcend this dichotomy.  Drawing hard lines and fighting over which side one is on, is the task of fools.  There is hyperbole, ignorance, sectarian childishness, and misinformation from both Pasteurian proselytizers and raw milk renegades.  I hope to show that there is a spectrum of levels of heating applied to milk that alter its microbiology in various ways. This microbiology is never static, and after the heating process, microbial communities continue to evolve and have new members join….

….My whole point is that placing cheese into a binary definition denies the complexity of microbiology, of life.  Maybe instead of trying to simplify everything and imposing a false sense of order on the world, we can embrace complexity and uncertainty, and humble ourselves in the process.  While simultaneously seeking knowledge, quantifiable data, and learning from other ways of knowing, of working with microbes to preserve food.”

-Trevor Warmedah, “Beyond the Raw/Pasteurized divide.” milktrekker.substack.com. September 18, 2022

Learned a lot about cheese and microbes in this brief blog post, but I think I like the larger philosophical point more. What’s true of cheese is true of pretty much every dualism. Dualism is the stripping away of nuance. You’re either for us or against us. Sociologically, it’s fine, I suppose. Dualism is creating a sense of group cohesion. But, as epistemology? Dualism isn’t truth. It’s fiction. And, this fiction has a tendency to shape our reality beyond our social ties.