JAQing Off, Concerns, Memes & Related

High score!

Are you just asking questions, a.k.a., JAQing off? Do you have concerns about X? Do you use rote ideas and thinking to communicate? For example, are you invested in cryptocurrencies and like to use jargon like hodl, hopium, and so forth? Or, do you like to follow “influencers” who spend time explaining things they barely understand themselves or acting in some exceptionally horrible way, trying to top whatever horrible thing they did last time?

I’ve recently started using Reddit somewhat regularly, and it is reminding me why I have left social media and also what I have missed. For what I use it for, it’s a great source of information that I’d be unable to get otherwise. But, the price for that information is coming into contact with people that who don’t want to be informed, who need things explained to them and are unwilling to do their own research, who are looking for justification for their worldview from some authority, who are looking to proselytize or share their opinions with the world, who want to find some tribe to belong to, who want to waste the time of people that don’t belong to their tribe or share their opinions, who seem to principally concerned with entertaining themselves, and so forth.

At bottom, there’s a lot of people performing for an audience. People trying to program other people with their ideas, packaged in pictures, audio and video. Almost all of it is either related to making money, making someone famous or making some person or group more powerful.

A major challenge is not to get wrapped up in this nonsense, even if it is in opposition to it. But, here I am writing about it, ffs.

I have hope that, over time, new kinds of communities will evolve that avoid these kinds of problems. Or, perhaps a self-selection process occurs where people opt-out of performative exchanges and tribal miming.

I don’t know how to live this kind of change. But, I hope I can figure out a solution that works for me, which I suspect will largely amount to ignoring most commentary and avoiding interactions with the vast majority of people online. Of course, just not using Reddit would be the easiest path. And, then, others questions beg to be asked. Why continue writing a blog? Why use the Internet at all? It’s just me and my Linux box air-gapped from the world, which sounds both utopian and like a really dumb idea.

People are truly both the worst and the best. How to get more of the latter though? Do you smell that? Is it introversion or is it just me?

Live Long & Prosper

“Behavioral scientists have spent a lot of time studying what makes us happy (and what doesn’t). We know happiness can predict health and longevity, and happiness scales can be used to measure social progress and the success of public policies. But happiness isn’t something that just happens to you. Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life.”

-Tara Parker-Pope, “How To Be Happy.” The New York Times.

Open Question: What does it mean to be “happy”?

In brief, the author seems to take the ideas of Blue Zones:, i.e., places where people tend to be exceptionally long lived, and flesh these concepts out with “happiness” research. The nine key ideas of Blue Zones:

  1. Move naturally, or have a lifestyle that incorporates movement without doing movement for movement’s sake, a.k.a. as exercise.
  2. Have a purpose.
  3. Downshift, take time every day, week, month and year to do nothing or be contemplative.
  4. The 80% Rule for eating. Eat until you are 80% full.
  5. Eat mostly plants.
  6. Drink alcohol in moderation, 1-2 servings a day.
  7. Belong to a community.
  8. Prioritize your relationships.
  9. Make sure the relationships are with good people.

The New York TimesHow to Be Happy” reframes these into categories: Mind, Home, Relationships, Work & Money & Happy Life. Then, it attempts to provide more detailed advice.

Mind

  1. Become acquainted with cognitive behavioral therapy, i.e., become proficient at managing negative thinking.
  2. Boxed breathing for acute situations and breath focused meditation to cultivate a more equanimical disposition.
  3. Rewrite your personal story, positive without the pedestal.
  4. Exercise.
  5. Make an effort to look for the positive in any situation.

Home

  1. Find a good place to live and a good community within it to be part of.
  2. Be out in a natural setting.
  3. Keep what you need, discard the rest.

Relationships

  1. Spend time with happy people. Conversely, avoid the unhappy and the unlucky, the stupid, Hoodoos, toxic people, psychic vampires, and associated others. Obviously, the negative formulation is a hot topic here at cafebedouin.org.
  2. Get a pet. [Editors note: Pets, children and other people aren’t going to make you happy, save you, etc.]
  3. Learn to enjoy being alone. In this historical moment, with fewer communities and relationships mediated through the Internet, it’s an important skill. If you can’t manage it, find ways around it, e.g., join an intentional community. If you are turning on the radio or television to hear human voices and escape your own thoughts, you might want to think about finding ways of being better company to yourself.

Work and Money

  1. Money isn’t going to make you happy. The more money you have past a certain threshold, the more problems you will have. But, being poor is no virtue and is its own source of suffering. Try to avoid the material extremes.
  2. The New York Times wants you to find your purpose at work. Right livelihood is important, but defining ourselves through our work is a major issue post-industrial age. When surnames became necessary, people chose their occupation. Think of all the occupational last names: Smith, Miller, Cooper, etc. The problem with finding purpose at work is it often turns into our life’s purpose. Our life should be about more than work.
  3. Find ways to reclaim your time, which I interpret to mean work less.

Happy Life

  1. Be generous. Show gratitude.
  2. Do things for other people.
  3. Stop being a judgmental prick to yourself and others.

Conclusion

Something about The New York Times presentation leaves much to be desired. Is it the focus on work? Is it because much of it seems like platitudes? I’m not entirely sure. The ideas aren’t bad, particularly the ones that stem directly from Blue Zone suggestions. But, the focus on “nesting” in the bedroom, volunteering (with the implication that it be the modern form and involve some kind of institution) and so forth managed to rub me the wrong way. But, most of this is good advice, when you get down to the nut of it.

Disco Elysium

“This is why I love Disco Elysium. Why I think it is one of the most shit-stained, beautiful, and hopeful games I have ever played. Throughout its entire length it never fails to give testimony to the pain and splendor of Revachol and of life. I have thought about it every day for the last year and a half because it was the game that helped me learn what to do with my own bullets.

Tell stories and never stop, even when it hurts. Reach into the holes and pull out lead. Plant seeds in the wounds, and then watch them bloom.”

-Renata Price, “A Year Later, I Still Can’t Stop Thinking About Disco Elysium.” Kotaku.com. August 30, 2021..

The article above has spoilers. The main thing you need to know is that it is highly recommended. To confirm, I checked in with Steam’s reviews. This is the top recommended review on Steam over the last 30 days by someone with over 80 hours in game:

“Masterpiece.

Best RPG I have played in the past years. It is a very strong title. Like Heavy Rain, Dishonored, SOMA, Dragon Age: Origins, Walking Dead, Last of Us, Witcher.

It is like an interactive book. With decisions. With consequences. With unique skills. Memorable characters. Story that is more deep than you can imagine even in the middle of the playthrough.

It is a comedy. It is a drama. It is a world with grey colors in everything: characters, choices, outcomes.

At one moment you will be laughing at great jokes, idiotic situations, main character, somebody else. At the next moment you will be depressed because of some outcomes.

Beware that gameplay mostly consists of reading and choosing the options, so if you are not into this, you may not like it.

Disco Elysium deserves even more than it’s regular price.

This is truly a gem in modern gaming market. Such a pity it happens so rarely.”

WilliamRockwell on Steam

Bookmarketing so I can pick this up in a few years when it is on sale for $10, which is how I buy video games that are not on Linux.

Villeneuve’s Dune

Empire’s Ben Travis, who gave another five-star review, said that for fans of the Dune books, the latest and best film adaptation had been well worth the wait.

He wrote: “For science-fiction devotees, especially those who have long-worshipped Frank Herbert’s dense tome and waited decades for it to be brought to the screen in a more successful incarnation than previous filmmakers have managed, make no mistake: Villeneuve’s Dune is the adaptation you always dreamed of.”

-“Dune: Critics largely lavish praise on epic sci-fi remake.” BBC. September 7, 2021.

It isn’t a surprise to anyone that I plan on watching Villeneuve’s Dune when it comes out. I’m also take the opportunity to point to The Secret History of Dune.

The Four Reading Levels

  1. Elementary: What does the text say? Literacy.
  2. Inspectual: What is this article/book about? Superficial, skimming.
  3. Analytical: Is the information / argument good? Meaning, perspective and use.
  4. Synoptic: Comparative. Trying to incorporate multiple points of view into our own view.

Nothing I want to quote from the article by Bruno Boksic on this topic. But, I thought it was a useful mental model.

When Reality Leads to Legal Realism

“If courts don’t have to defend their decisions, then they’re just acts of will, of power.”

—Adam Liptak, “Missing From Supreme Court’s Election Cases: Reasons for Its Rulings.” The New York Times. October 26, 2020.

At base, Legal Realism, when you get past all the philosophical talk about natural science, is simple, “The law is what judges say it is.” There need be no consistency, for power need not offer explanations. The problem with the above quote is not a problem of shadow rulings, it points to something people don’t want to accept is a feature of the legal system as a whole. It’s more or less arbitrary. But, we need a method to resolve disputes. Every human society has judges.

The common law tradition has the advantage of trying to reach agreement among judges over time, a.k.a., stare decisis, but it still is based on granting the power to resolve disputes to certain people because it is convenient. As members of the country’s elite, judges will tend to align with elite interests. Everything else, such as the notions of positivism or “originalism” is just rationalizing “acts of will, of power.” See also: Exhibit A.