Questions About Technology Investment: CharaCorder

“The CharaChorder is a new kind of typing peripheral that promises to let people type at superhuman speeds. It’s so fast that the website Monkeytype, which lets users participate in typing challenges and maintains its own leaderboard, automatically flagged CharaChorder’s CEO as a cheater when he attempted to post his 500 WPM score on the its leaderboards.

It’s a strange looking device, the kind of thing Keanu Reeves would interface with in Johnny Mnemonic. Your palms rest on two black divots out of which rise nine different finger sized joysticks. These 18 sticks move in every direction and, its website claims, can hit every button you need on a regular keyboard. “CharaChorder switches detect motion in 3 dimensions so users have access to over 300 unique inputs without their fingers breaking contact with the device,” it said.”

-Matthew Gault, “This Keyboard Lets People Type So Fast It’s Banned From Typing Competitions.” Vice. January 6, 2022.

Open Question: What is a good “investment” in technology?

Let’s imagine you have a child that it at the age they are starting to use a computer and a QWERTY style keyboard. Do you spend $250 and get them this kind of peripheral knowing:

  • It’s a new technology that likely will not be around in 20 years
  • It seems likely that in 20 years or so that the main input with computing will be via voice and/or video
  • It is even possible that in 20 years everyone will have a brain-computer interface.

Personally, I think it is useful to learn how to use new devices, even if they turn out to be novelty devices. It’s easy to see that certain popular devices that became obsolete have paved the way for the evolution for the subsequent devices that come later. Examples:

  • Mainframe computing led to personal computing which led to mobile computing
  • Blackberry, PalmOS, iPods were the precursors to Android and iPhones
  • Every few years, someone makes a new chat app, from ICQ and IRC to Telegram and Discord.

Familiarity with the previous version can help you transition to new variants. So, it’s probably a good idea to get familiar with technologies, even if you don’t think they will last.

End The Conversation; Give Up the Last Word

One of the the things I like about the Internet is you’re going to encounter very different types of people. You’ll talk with them in some forum. At some point, you’ll come to the realization that a conversation you are engaged in isn’t worth having. There’s simply nowhere interesting for the conversation to go.

In most cases, you can simply stop. You don’t need to carry on to the end, as if you are on some kind of conversational Trail of Tears. There’s no one forcing you to continue. So, don’t. On the internet, all you have to do is direct your attention somewhere else.

Offline, it’s the same. You can stand up and any moment, and simply walk away. Slightly more considerate: excuse yourself, go to the bathroom and don’t come back. If it is someone you see regularly, you can say, “You make an interesting point. Let me think about it.” And then, change the discussion or go quiet and think about something else. if they try to start the conversation up again, you can tell them that your mind wandered off, thinking about other things and have nothing additional to say.

The problem is we want to convince people. We want to be right. We want to show them how smart and clever we are. We often want the last word.

Give up showing off. Give up the last word. Stop doing something that isn’t worth your time, particularly when it is no longer fun.

The United States, Incorporated

“I propose we do so by creating two positions within the executive branch that operate in tension with each other. The first would be the chief operating officer, charged with managing the administrative agencies. The second would be the chief auditor, charged with leading a watchdog agency that monitors the administrative state for effectiveness and abuses of authority. Both the president and Congress would oversee the balance of power between the two positions…

…With a COO in charge of managing government agencies, the roles of Congress and the president would adjust accordingly. Congress would act more like a board of directors with respect to the agencies, and the president would act more like a board chairman. The COO would assume the responsibility of presenting a plan and budget to Congress for approval, while the president would have the authority to hire and fire the COO at will. In a spirit of conservative incrementalism, we could first apply the COO model to one functional domain, such as domestic infrastructure, before extending it to the others.

The second new position — the chief auditor (CA) — would lead a powerful audit agency that provides independent evaluations of agency performance. One might think of this agency as a bulked-up version of the existing Government Accountability Office.”

-Arnold Kling, “Designing a Better Regulatory State.” National Affairs. Winter 2022.

What could possibly go wrong?

Let’s abstract out most of the power of the President and Cabinet into one unelected position and give them a free hand to reorganize the government as they see fit. Further, let’s abstract out the oversight function on Congress to a single auditor. The President turns into a figurehead. Congress can pass bills, but it has no power to determine whether those bills are being implemented according to their intent.

Presumably, to extend the metaphor, citizens would become the equivalent of stockholders, but they never have the opportunity to sell their stock and buy another. They have the power to elect the board, who can pass legislation, but who are not accountable for the results. What happens when the federal government starts doing something people don’t like? They can vote someone in that will appoint another COO? Without any input on who this person is? They can elect someone who will pass different bills? What exactly will the President and Congress do?

If it made sense to run government in this way, wouldn’t these kinds of qualities already be important for running for President or being appointed to the cabinet? I’d imagine positions like Deputy Secretary are filled with people with years of experience in the federal agency they are part of. Would it make sense to replace these people with other people with broad “industry” experience?

Is the organization of government the same as organization of corporations? Is it even the same skill set?

Some obvious problems. What happens when the COO and Auditor positions collude? What happens if the COO position is so powerful a President is unable to fire her? For example, it’s a billionaire that paid to get the President elected and act as a figurehead and now the billionaire plans to run the country?

The least of your problems is the government gaming the auditor’s metrics. But, it’s also not an insignificant problem.

There are so many reasons the argument provided in this article is bad. As bad as “democracy” or “representative democracy” is, the hot mess of it is surely better than this idea.

Timeline of the Human Condition

“Ages: following the big bang 13.8 billion years ago, time passed two-thirds of the way to the present before the formation of the Sun 4.57 billion years ago. Rescaled to a calendar year, starting with the big bang at 00:00:00 on 1 January, the Sun forms on 1 September, the Earth on 2 September, earliest signs of life appear on 13 September, earliest true mammals on 26 December, and humans just 2 hours before year’s end. For a year that starts with the earliest true mammals, the dinosaurs go extinct on 17 August, earliest primates appear on 9 September, and humans at dawn of 25 December. For a year that starts with the earliest humans, our own species appears on 19 November, the first built constructions on 8 December, and agricultural farming begins at midday on 29 December.

C. Patrick Doncaster, “Timeline of the human condition.” https://www.southampton.ac.uk/~cpd/history.html Accessed: January 5, 2022.

Stable Anchors & Financial Dominance

“The less dominant the U.S. economy is, the less the dollar can function as a stable anchor for the global financial system. It was still intact in 2008-10, when a global financial crisis sent capital flooding to the safe haven of U.S. government bonds. But in recent years, people have begun to question whether Bretton Woods 2 is finally on the way out. The share of U.S. dollars in global reserves has been falling for years, and this fall has accelerated since the start of the pandemic.

-Noah Smith, “Crypto and the global financial system.” noahpinion.substack.com. December 14, 2021.

True of the U.S. dollar. True of Bitcoin itself. As the ecosystems of alt-chains are built out, the center of gravity is going to move from Bitcoin and be distributed across a few major blockchains, which will, in turn, be supported by niche chains. The same thing will play out with the U.S. and world economy. It might happen a bit slower if the U.S. government manages to create a digital dollar.

Related:

“The prevailing consensus view has been that bitcoin is a risk asset. It has an inverse relationship with interest rates. When central banks and politicians manipulate interest rates lower, and pump trillions of dollars into the market, bitcoin should go higher…

This inverse relationship is not what we are seeing between bitcoin and Treasury yields though. We are actually seeing the exact opposite. Bitcoin’s price appears to be moving in lockstep with Treasury yields.

So if this short-term trend continues to play out, what would that mean for bitcoin? Again, no one knows for sure. But it would be very interesting if the prevailing consensus view is misplaced and bitcoin would actually benefit from increasing interest rates. That would violate the framework that many people have been viewing the digital currency through…

So why could this idea of bitcoin and yields increasing together potentially be true? Well…one idea is that some people actually deem bitcoin to be their reserve currency. They view cheap capital via low rates as a path to borrowing money and making investments that could earn them more bitcoin. If rates were to rise, risk assets would sell off and these people would go back into their safe haven asset — bitcoin.

This may sound insane to the legacy Wall Street crowd, but there is an increasing number of young people who see the digital currency as that safe haven asset in their portfolio. The entire point of investing in anything outside of bitcoin is to outperform bitcoin and eventually convert back into bitcoin. Obviously, if you’re a good investor than you can pick up more bitcoin. If you’re a bad investor, you end up with less bitcoin. This is the new risk-reward that many young people are evaluating.”

Anthony Pompliano, “Bitcoin Is Moving In Lockstep With Treasury Yields?!” pomp.substack.com. December 20, 2021

We’re about to find out if cryptocurrencies with a max supply can be used as an inflation hedge. I bet they can.

Words & Phrases, 2021

  • disaster voyeurism
  • Stakhanovites, model workers who produced higher than expectations
  • university, a synthesis of two words: “unity” and “diversity.”
  • collimination, adjusting the line of sight of a telescope
  • muhaha, evil laugh
  • Isekai, an anime genre of going to another world and having adventures
  • Zugzwang, worse position than if opponent’s turn to play
  • (R)azi Party, portmanteau of (R) Republican and Nazi Party
  • mad-eyed, staring at the undreamt thing
  • cronyism and connections
  • heart heat, emotional turmoil
  • grief’s lonely algorithm
  • manslipping — about the tendency of men to let their masks fall below their noses 
  • invincible ignorance
  • A far-right propaganda machine built atop a gaslight factory
  • enormous faff
  • the American nightmare of overpromise and underdelivery
  • slaved and saved for nothing
  • transmedia information war propping up a popularity contest for strongmen
  • Pandejos
  • Tempus Fugit, time flies.—Virgil
  • hover to discover
  • a self-motivated lickspittle
  • head-canon, the canon in your head that isn’t canon
  • Hungerstein, hunger stone
  • Gangster capitalism, unnecessary adjective?
  • gazing into the void of self-creation
  • runch, running lunch
  • future dreamscape
  • byzantine shitshow
  • mazuma, money
  • reflexivity, the feedback loop by which expectations or desires can shape reality
  • friya, free and beloved
  • niksen, the art of doing nothing
  • ground truth, might have origins in maps
  • gray bar motel, jail
  • subs or dubs, subtitles or …
  • economical with the actualité
  • data void
  • herd of independent minds
  • inscape plan, turning inward to find salvation
  • global weirdness
  • endless melting-snowflake background
  • agnotology, the academic study of ignorance
  • The Slenderman of cocktails
  • vetocracies, when too many actors have veto rights
  • Jimoto, japanese for “local area”
  • pernicious convergence, all roads lead to Rome
  • paroxysms of junkie violence
  • crumb de la crumb
  • symbiosis, from the Greek for “together” and “living.”
  • screechy and preachy
  • content cop providing free moderation labor
  • , αἰσθητής (aisthētḗs), one who perceives
  • reality testing
  • Transformation through Education program
  • howling cognitive vacuum
  • Dīwān, “record,” “compendium,” “collected works
  • America’s spiritual sewers
  • mise en abyme, a formal technique of placing a copy of an image within itself, often in a way that suggests an infinitely recurring sequence
  • hegemonic anxiety, the fear of losing global dominance.
  • pain lost in translation
  • petro-masculinity
  • wishful worries
  • ossan, rude Japanese word for middle-aged dudes
  • O.H. Krill, original hostage, alien’s name, part of UFO conspiracy lore
  • nooshijoon, Farsi, may it nourish your soul
  • full of LinkedIn hustle-goblins
  • quantum foam
  • sewer stories, where truth and false doesn’t apply
  • wokescolds
  • hysteresis effect, an event that happens whose effects continue after the event
  • a never-ending assembly line of death
  • psephologist, pollster?
  • shtum, British slang for silent
  • decorative statistics
  • Sisyphus spinning the wheels of a perpetual-motion Peloton
  • neijuan, Chinese, involution is the experience of being locked in competition that one ultimately knows is meaningless
  • Genizah — Hebrew meaning “to hide or put away” — refers to a storage place in a synagogue or a cemetery where old Jewish books go to die
  • occhiolino or little eye, Galileo’s word for microscope
  • hidden curriculum refers to the set of social norms and skills that autistic people have to learn explicitly, but that neurotypical people learn automatically
  • Degenerate gambler and chance king
  • Russlandversteher, a derogatory term for people who take a soft stance on Vladimir Putin’s Russia
  • chyron, a caption superimposed over usually the lower part of a video image (as during a news broadcast)
  • a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decline
  • Omne Ignotum Pro Mirifico; Wonderful, Because Mysterious.
  • Cirque du Subway
  • Smokey, sweet nuts
  • Scariants, scary variant portmanteau
  • low return world
  • paperback shaman
  • a counter-syllabus
  • fantasy cults
  • assabiya, group cohesion or solidarity
  • panopticoin
  • the human built world
  • death lottery
  • vetocracy, a system defined by how easy it is, and how many ways there are, to block action.
  • tangping (躺平) = Internet buzzword that refers to the choice of young people choosing to stop working overtime and rebel against overly competitive society.
  • silverback MD
  • mayhem man
  • a creeping charla­tanism
  • bucolic dystopia, impoverished and rundown
  • No pole fisherman; if you don’t fish ’em, you don’t eat ’em.
  • homo mimeticus
  • performative assholery
  • loosely connected, incoherent mishmash of militants, grifters, and attention merchants
  • thugs dam, in Tibetan, is an honorific meaning one engaged in meditation, applied to the dead
  • entropocene, an era of larger, quicker, less predictable, non-linear change
  • freaking in, freaking out on the inside
  • a dim, electrified jejunum
  • a cipher of misinformation and malaise
  • poop on the porch
  • Sideshadowing: unsettles simple causal explanations of human events, reminding us that what actually takes place is always one of numerous possibilities that could have occurred.
  • pace hurtling gravewards
  • tedious memoryhole preamble
  • Proustian signifier
  • Wu-wei (無為), literally translated as ‘no trying’ or ‘no doing’, but best translated as ‘effortless action’ or ‘spontaneous action’.
  • lifequakes
  • fatally tangled
  • ukeireru, acceptance (of who you are, what you do and what society does to you)
  • necessary surgery long put off
  • malinformation — facts taken out of context to support a false narrative
  • supermediated psychoscapes
  • ten percent world, what remains after people are done with it
  • Utopian dreams commingled with nightmares of terrible ruin.
  • quantum extremal surface
  • asymmetry (or convexity) of payoffs
  • an assortment of cranks and kooks
  • sheng nu, leftover women in Chinese
  • sphincter factor
  • our poisonous effluent
  • papier-mâché Mephistopheles
  • mukbang, eating broadcast
  • poop splash
  • chutney and cheese
  • buyout barons
  • globaloney
  • muddled median
  • crepuscular corners
  • a moral panic in search of an audience
  • agent of refusal
  • escalator to extinction
  • dark bargain
  • liangmianren, or two-faced people
  • kintsugi, treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
  • punctuated equilibrium
  • the marrow of the medium
  • wakanyeja, Lakota for the child is also holy
  • generated incapacities
  • Compersion is our wholehearted participation in the happiness of others.
  • expensive, interlocking failure
  • a liability bomb
  • the NPR set
  • ride new waves of ruin
  • Bentoism, BEyond Near Term Orientation
  • technosignatures
  • semi-irl Gen X boomerpost
  • future fascist fashion
  • a break in continuity
  • pushed up to the very edge of apocalypse
  • avoid the pyramiding catastrophe
  • horrorshows of humanity
  • micro-consumerist bollocks
  • limitarianism
  • fatal hatchouts
  • postprandial
  • a dorm room pass-the-bong puzzler
  • captivity of childhood
  • tatterdemalion
  • surface gravity
  • anger outlaw
  • the freedom of a shimmering anonymity
  • ludic element
  • isomer, mirror image, like hands
  • niugui sheshen, 牛鬼蛇神, evil monsters, bad political actors
  • desirable difficulties
  • Big Meat
  • Rush hour Rambo
  • heladeros, ice cream maker

cafebedouin.org: 2021 Year in Review

Top 10 Most Viewed in 2021

Posts That Deserve More Visibility

Reviewing the posts I wrote this year, I’m pretty happy with a lot of what I’ve written. I think the post Write: More Frequently, Less Long is a good thing to keep in mind for the coming year. I posted about the same as last year, 408 rather than 418 in 2019. However, the word count for the year went up to 89,691 from 58,705. It may be better to be briefer.

In the main, you can probably expect more of the same in the coming year.

Books in 2022, Plan vs. Reality

The Plan

Last year, I made a list of books for every week of the year. I hardly read anything from the list. I read things like N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, revisited some of the books of Iain M. Banks Culture series (currently reading Against a Dark Background), and basically, just read whatever I felt like and only looked at the list a few times. I did manage to read the first entry, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram, which I found worthwhile.

This year I’m going to try just one book a month.

  1. The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Robert Calasso
  2. Chicago by Brian Doyle
  3. Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit
  4. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
  5. Against Method by Paul Karl Feyerabend
  6. Building Stories by Chris Ware
  7. The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector
  8. The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
  9. Circe by Madeline Miller
  10. The Odyssey by Emily Wilson
  11. Ulysses by James Joyce (in conjunction with Stuart’s companion volume)
  12. Paradise Lost by John Milton

Beyond the list, I’ll make room for anything like the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, Ann Leckie, and any of the other usual suspects. Memory’s Legion, the final book in the Expanse series is coming out in March, isn’t it? Knowing me, I’ll want to reread the whole series again next year. Maybe as a fun corrective, I’ll keep a list of books actually read below.

The Reality

  1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  2. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  3. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Teens Are Not Soothsayers

“Teens are strange and magical. To us they seem a little like Precogs from Minority Report—soothsayers of a mysterious, social-media-powered hyperdrive future, because this is the realm they’re already living in. Who saw Facebook coming? Teens. Same with Twitter, Vine, and now Snapchat. This puts them in a curious position. It makes them one of the most inscrutable generations in history—to people who desperately want to scrutinize them.”

-Mary H.K. Choi, “Like. Flirt. Ghost: A Journey Into the Social Media Lives of Teens.” Wired. August 25, 2016.

It’s always a little fun to revisit these breathless pieces that start from the premise that the social dynamics of high school are somehow going to be the future we are all going to inhabit. The basic ideas that Paul Graham discusses in various essays serve as a counter to this bad argument. See these three essays as examples:

Read the above article after reading those three essays. Doesn’t the already dated article seem even more ridiculous in light of these essays? I would be interested in a follow-up article, one that showed how much things had changed, even in just five years. Are they still actively managing these accounts like they are all influencers?

Also, weird aside, the one thing I couldn’t help but notice was how the twins had their shoes on in their home. Not only were they wearing shoes, but they were on every piece of furniture. Strikes me as a great way to get most of what you own dirty.