Logs | 2023-02-February

February 27th, 2023

9:05 pm — Chords on piano — G — 1/3 <> 5 .. G# b5 .. C — 4/b7 <> 3/5 .. F — 2/5 <> 3 .. Eb .. Bb .. C

8:35 pm — The ‘junkiness’ of social media is a combination of the platform and how the user customizes it. Sometimes the user has no control. I don’t think there’s way to make Instagram feel less greasy. Twitter’s different. Lists can change the nature of the whole experience. It is a bummer that you can’t hide the home feed and exclusively see your list when you open the app. It’s also probably important to keep your lists clean.

7:10 pm — Stupid idea — A VR ping pong podcast: it’s a conversation over a game of ping pong. The huge bottleneck is that the guest base is limited to those who have headsets (unless I decide to buy, configure, and mail headsets around). There also is no sense of ‘face’ or avatar customization in the app.

4:20pm — A phrase for the universality of paranoid quirks, like people forgetting if they locked their car, so they raise their key in the air and furiously click until they hear the honk-lock.

February 26, 2023

10:46 am — A syncretic mix in religions; Ancient Greek rituals, Christian in symbology, Jewish in theology, Muslim in fasting, Shamanistic direct experience, and Jungian interpretations.

10:19 am — Religion has been conflated with theology, and so the richer parts of religions have been discarded alongside it. We’ve lost practices of psychological cultivation, of tuning our operating system that engages with reality, of resting.

9:52 am — Food is the ultimate key to program your psyche. There’s a reason to pray before eating, though it’s often a tradition disconnected from a transformed headspace. The sip and the bite are common triggers. They might as well be associated with something good, like being grateful. This sounds so obvious. My lesson here is that religion can feel stale and meaningless when it’s derived and handed down, but powerful if you re-dervie rituals yourself.

9:03 am — The ouroboros is almost the ultimate pallindrome.

8:22 am — A chain of self-awareness triggers as I’m scrolling my inbox. 1) I question a subject line and how someone could think it’s compelling. 2) Who is this person, and why are they inbox? 3) Why am I even checking my inbox right now? The act of questioning purpose starts at the detail and escalates up to the system.

8:05 am — Mantra for lent:

  • Always attentive (mindfulness, up)

  • Faith in destiny (perspective, down)

  • Conduit for the mystery (creativity, left)

  • Commit to what matters (discipline, right)

8:01 am — I can get into lucid visualizations if I just switch from my bed to couch in the early morning. I’d bet a sleep hacker would log this as ‘interrupted sleep.’ In any case, I had a dream where I was in that same living room (has to a word for when dreams occur in the same physical space of your body). I was looking into my TV and ‘trying’ to render a map of the world. It wasn’t coming through. It was cartoonish and out of proportion. Some voice emerged and told me to relax (basically, “use the force.”) I did, and then a fully detailed map of the world started drawing itself in front of me. Felt like a ‘holy’ confrontation with the subconscious. The power locked inside us is kind of nuts. There might be perfect replicas of everything you’ve ever seen, but in ordinary states we lack the means to access and visualize them. Maybe this is the power of the mystic.

7:38 am — Mindfulness can be external and internal. It’s an awareness of the environment, and the stream of thoughts running by. Most importantly though, it’s a parallel process. It’s not too hard to jolt out of an activity, and then be aware. The challenge is retaining a sense of self-awareness as work, conversation, and media come through. It’s a muscle to build. Capturing helps. If you have a capture habit, a compulsion to render the ideas in your mind, then your more likely to stay tapped into that state. “Always attentive.”

7:37 am — Sunday is the day to purge Newtonian time. No clocks or tasks. No ambition. A proper Sabbath. It’s not just ‘rest’ though. It’s not about cheap leisure, but deep joy. And deep joy should be easy, so that it frees your mind to rewrap it’s tentacles around some life-force. It’s a chance to reprogram / reconnect.

February 25th, 2023

8:06 pm — The difference between hope and optimism is neediness. The hopeful’s end-state depends on an outcome. An optimist is faithful and requires no conditions.

7:29 pm — Bricolage, the French term for assembling something new from unused parts. (not, the word for micro-refinements)

6:48 pm — From Visa’s talk: Greatness is deviance. It’s about hitting the target no else can see. When no one can see it, it causes confusion and frustration. There are no models to compare it to. To have sustained conviction in this invisible target requires weirdness, callousness, and most importantly, friends tha are equally weird. After stretches of solitude, the weirdo will bring back artifacts that only their fellow weirdos can interpret.

6:39 pm — Writing is the highest form of agency kids can learn with the lowest form of friction. It’s hard to be creative in science, math, or social studies in the early phases of the craft. But writing requires word by word assembly. Every letter is a decision that can spiral into its own reality. It’s inherently divergent from the moment it’s learned. It’s the medium for deviance.

6:00 pm - I don’t get how ‘daily word count’ is a metric for progress. A first draft word is different from an edited word, one that’s been through iterations. Input and output words are way different. The ratio should be at least 3:1 — 6,000 words for 2,000 published words. It’s often 10:1, and in Ken Burns documentaries, his rate of footage to final is 50:1.

5;09 pm — Ailice on Instagram is a fake person; a cyber-model. The images of her (and captions?) are AI-generated. Bots and trolls are about to undergo a phase change.

4:51 pm — Why AI makes quality important

There’s faulty logic in the assumption that “Internet drove disruption to zero, and AI will drive content to zero, therefore if your work involves a keyboard (code, email, words, images, you should be nervous).”

The Internet makes distribution cheap, but not irrelevant. If anything, the whole Great Online Game, is based on, ‘which solo creators can setup great distribution systems.’ Those mastered it built huge audiences, regardless if the content was great or okay.

Similarly, AI won’t make content irrelevant. If anything, it makes your perspective around ‘content’ more important than ever.

Now, anyone with distribution can use AI to generate an endless stream of babble. High touch, but is it too much? We’re growing increasingly numb to mediocre content.

AI devours the quantity game. Endless, instant content. You can’t compete in that vector, so you have to compete in quality (which is a good thing!) I think the goal is to get distribution functioning and stable, and set a quality bar above what anyone else is doing. Maybe AI can be an assistant to improve your quality, or maybe AI can help distribute your naturally-produced essay.

4:46 pm — Deep dive essay into the “creator middle class.”

4:41 pm — In the past 6 months, the technology around AI might have gone 2x, but the narrative went 100x. The two aren’t connected. It’s always understanding the zeitgeist and the memeability around different ideas.

4:29 pm — 3 Writing Lessons from Screenwriting

  • Where is the camera?
    Don’t show back-to-back ideas from the same point of view (A>A). Shift the perspective, show something else (A>B), and let the reader connect the dots. Use implicit context.

  • What do you tell actors?
    True character is revealed when they make decisions under pressure. It shows their desires. Use the format of objective > action > obstacle > change.

  • What’s it about?
    A film usually has a super-objective (a high-concept), and it’s okay for scenes to deviate. You can zoom into the nails of a house. Develop the characters in scenes, so that it’s believable when that character returns to the super-objective.

4:14 pm — The prodigal return of natural language

When we invented computers, we started communicating in abstract computer languages. We had to program the machines. Now the machines are getting so intelligent, that we can speak to them in natural English, and it can automatically program for us. We’ve come full-circle. From English, to coding, back to English.

2;15 pm — 72nd street; high-speed metal is directed through 200 little red dots; we’ve built machines that can sustain illusions; pixels emerge through digital pores, and erect meaning that guides our nervous systems.

2:14 pm — Prime the pump, logging is awkward until it’s visionary. Permission to fire duds. This is off Twitter. You can render chatter in prose. Make the mundane beautiful, so that when you come across the whale, you are conscious, warmed up, and ready to catch a ‘transcendental object.’

2;13 pm — Cliches are the bastards of syntax.

2:12 pm — Isolation breed cognitive freedom, but it leaves social scripts untouched. There are so many root-level behaviors that lead to timid interactions and being strandoffish. I wonder if there’s a single meme to digest that lets you see everyone as a ‘sibbling-universe’ to yoke with? What is the smallest idea that leads to the biggest change in your social wiring? (or, maybe just go out more)

2:10 pm — A phrase for when you recall your old epiphanies and they feel lackluster. Epiphany feels profound because of the shock of realization. It’s ‘noetic lighting,’ a surge of linguistic novelty. But when you think back, it’s just “obvious.” It’s the same form, but it’s been light for so long that the brigthness has dimmed.

1:42 pm — “Time brings odd mutations.” (Joan Didion)

12:24 pm — The universe might work like a game of Pacman. When you go off one edge, you end up on the other side. If you could zoom out to grasp the full boundaries of the cosmos, you might just end up back in your own head.

9:22 am — Just generated 30 weeks of newsletter cover art in 30 minutes.

8:34 am — ALL CAPITAL LETTERS — no one write like this.. No one serious at least. What if I learned to do this well? It’s volume without the exclamation point (it elevates the WORD, not the sentence!). It’s a way to raise your voice. What is the difference between CAPS and ITALIC CAPS? When it’s italic, I’m SERIOUS.

February 24, 2023

11:35 am — AI evolution of woman’s fashion

10:41 am — If Mr. Beast were a writer:

  • $1 million essay competition

  • 24 hour writing livestream

  • Building an AI of myself

  • Bitcoin password encrypted in an essay

9:57 am — Idea to curate Substack categories.

February 16th, 2023

11:20 pm [from Dan] — “There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.”

– Jack London - The Call of the Wild

10:33 pm — Napoleon Dynamite & Rocky are the same story — some Disney movie & Moonrise Kingdom

8:05 am — Building an algorithm to help prioritize which essays to work on 

  • Ideal publish date

  • Excitement

  • Progress

  • Quality (title, hook, shiny dime, stories, research)

February 15, 2023

7:03 pm — “Praying Mantis Mode: A Jarring Approach to Self Development”

6:48 pm — Why Motion didn’t work out.

6:39 pm — Brown water

February 14th, 2023

4:34 pm — I forgot to wear my glasses when I picked up flowers for Valentine’s Day. There’s a quick and passing sadness, that this moment is forever evaporated. My memories of past holidays all blur together into nothing.

4:23 pm — What is your source of ambition? It shouldn’t be “to do cool things” or “to appear cool” to someone, but for mastery. Roark was status-blind. Actually, he wasn’t blind, but he saw it for what it was, and didn’t desire it.

February 13th, 2023

11:17 pm — I now understand how mindless video games (ie: Mario Kart) go well with intense podcasts.

11:09 pm — The 1990s were a time of both the rise in fame and the distrust in fame.

February 12th, 2023

1:21 pm — Why water is 680x more toxic than marijuana

The ‘LD-50’ is the dose of a substance it takes to kill half of the population. A drug is dangerous when it’s ‘effective dose’ is close to the LD-50. Alcohol is 4x, Cocaine is 2x, and Heroin can be under 2x (and Fentanyl can be 10x more potent). Water is around 12x (36 liters in a day is dangerous). 75-100 cups of coffee could lead to a caffeine overdose. The LD-50 of Marijuana is 68,000x. You’d have to smoke 1,500 pounds (almost an entire ton) in 15 minutes for it to kill you. The LD-50 for LSD is still unknown (there might be no lethal dose — which is strange — it’s simultaneously the most powerful hallucinogen per gram, and yet, the least toxic).

8:05 am — An artist is someone who rebels against the constraints of reality.

February 11th, 2023

10:53 pm — Pale Blue Dot speech

But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, ever king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

2:44 pm — AI could bring the death of manager mode. We’ll have algorithms that will prioritize our tasks for us. You’ll be able to design the architecture of your life. As you input tasks, you’ll enter the key parameters. And then, you surrender to the flow.

9:41 am — Jack Kerouac on Charlie Parker

February 10th, 2023

4:32 — ChatGPT reverse engineered my writing voice:

  • Conversational and informal language: The author writes in a conversational and informal tone, using words and expressions that are easy to understand and relatable. This creates an intimate connection with the reader.

  • Personal reflections: The author reflects on their own experiences with books, reading, and technology, creating a personal and introspective tone. They share their thoughts and emotions, making the writing more engaging.

  • Nostalgic and melancholic tone: The author expresses a sense of longing for the past and regret for the books they haven't read yet. This creates a melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere that resonates with the reader.

  • Forward-thinking and passionate: Despite the melancholic tone, the author is also forward-thinking and passionate about the potential of technology to enhance their reading and writing experience. They have a sense of excitement and anticipation for the future.

  • Mix of technical and creative language: The author uses a mix of technical and creative language, blending elements of tech-speak and imaginative writing. This creates a unique and dynamic style that reflects the author's diverse interests and perspectives.

February 9th, 2023

10:37 am — "Third-world countries are not 'underdeveloped', they are, by design, overexploited" - Michael Parenti — 15,000 people in a cobalt mine.

February 8th, 2023

6:34 am — Process for shooting video takes:

  • Shoot a take, then only listen to it — revise words & tone

  • Shoot a take, then watch it on mute — revise body language

  • Shoot a take, then watch it in full — do one last take

7:29 am — Kerouac documentary

7:21 am — What happened to the friendship between Kerouac and Ginsberg?

7:06 am — The Hermit Fantasy

February 7th, 2023

9:05 pm — An Ed Sanders impression: “Here comes the tank huckster! With smooth uncle moves, he greets and swoons the army of wigged-up wind-up clappers. A stale and senile ritual for a showman who still gets it. The great speaker! These skeletons stand up on every occasion.“

6:49 — Quality writing leads to [outcomes] — high website traffic, conversion, reader faith.

5:47 pm — Infant humans are more dependent on their parents than other species, and through technology we’re prolonging infantilization more and more. We retreat into the home, and get sucked into the global myths of media. We escape the myths and responsibilities to our towns.

3:29 pm — Scattered notes from Kerouac on the Buckley interview:

Buckley and a Rutgers sociologist who wrote ‘the Hippy trip’ — outside looking in — Kerouac, eyes. Loses, scratching head. Kerouac: A virtue out of restlessness. .. beef between Sanders and Kerouac— classical (vs dope and street sex) gutter explorative/ a magazine of the arts — word limited by media and journalist, a bad term, a label foisted by those with power — beat generation title, beatific, good title — Kerouac muttering insults under his breathe — “get your question over with” — the Atom/the Adam —  Kerouac at odds with Ferlinghetti, mutiny, insurrection — but he’s a Catholic (order, tenderness, piety).. Native American ethos, but also meth and lsd— “pshhhh,”  .. withdrawn from politics, cosmic consciousness instead — tasted the best of American goodies, turned off, plastic society, loss of hope, a disconnect in — the power of writing and journalism, hope, resistance — broke, homeless, and exhausted— Orlando 56-62.. whole career transformed. On the road, 51-58 — reluctant spokesman.. Big Sur — didn’t like fame and media attention — spiritual enlightenment- king of the beats— credited forerunner of the counter.cultural — a conservative Catholic— living with his mom in the suburbs of Florida… 22-69, 47 yo death— bohemians beards and sandals, marveled, they didn’t work, action, love , Lsd generation 

2:55 pm — Metaphors done right carry the power of rare birds and solar eclipses; they’re once in a lifetime kind of things, never before seen. But when analogies are done for the sake of an association, they lose their magic; like a vinyl printout vs. the real thing.

2:06 pm — Order Slack channels by priority (not alphabetically)

9:16 am — We have a revolution in distribution, with no visionary consciousness to pipe into it.

8:32 am — Fuck You Press Archive

In 1962, Ed Sanders published a version of “Fuck You Press” that included Gary Snyder, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Full archive here. I want to better understand the Mimeo Revolution in the 1960s-1970s, when the mimeograph (a low cost copy machine made with ink stencils), led to a spasm of underground literary magazines. Feels like part of the history of publishing; perhaps one of the last waves before the Internet flipped the paradigm.

Thought experiment; imagine explaining Twitter to artists in the 1960s.

8:27am — Surprised to learn that The Fugs album is in Bowie’s top 25.

February 6th, 2023

10:29 pm — Just watched in horror as my wife batch-closed 85 tabs in one swoop. Who knows what was in there. Forever wiped. “No, it’s in my history.” True, but will you ever go back? Who ever goes back? The process of investigating and smothering tabs, one by one, with a task manager in hand, is a kind of ritual to help me catch loose ends. Where did I go astray? What’s left? Maybe it’s a form of OCD.

8:41 pm — A phrase for when you get mail from an old tenant and have the urge to reach out to know why they moved. Was it voluntary? Was there a ghost? Are there roaches in the walls?

6:15 pm — Leadership is about seeking confrontation while being pleasant and approachable.

5:32 pm — Bill Hicks binge, 1, 2, 3

7:35 am — What do you call meditation with your eyes open? I’m not talking about mindfulness, where your maintaining a presence as you do things with your hands. Imagine not moving, not thinking, with eyes open. It’s resting the mind, despite a high stimulus environment.

February 5th, 2023

6:49 pm — The Dusting Rituals of Walter McKenzie

An idea for a short story called “The Dusting Rituals of Walter McKenzie” (name pending). It starts with a mechanistic monklike man who has no tolerance for dust. His cleaning rituals are like military drills. He inspects every corner at the same time every day, usually eradicating dust, but sometimes he catches himself marveling at an accidental composition of dirt. We soon learn that Mr. Dimwacker also has a computer ‘game,’ one that consistently regenerates life on a simulated Earth. We learn he has a daily ritual of ‘dusting’ the planet — destroying life so new simulations can come in. Spoiler: we live in Mr. Dimwacker’s simulation.

11:36 am — Rules for a Good Wifi Password

If possible, wifi passwords should be short, memorable, rhythmic, easy to share, expressions of your personality, containing alliterations and palindromes, and enough variance to protect you from hackers. (also don’t put them on your website)

Example: BirdBalloon11.

9:49 am — If you’re brainstorming a podcast name with two hosts, “Third Wheel” will naturally come up. It will seem clever for a moment, until you Google it and realize how insanely obvious it is. Be careful with idioms.

9:37 am — Setting up a Wayfarer night stand with cheap screws and a broken screwdriver is analog pain, but every facet of the Spectrum customer experience is psychological torture (aside from their loading animation, which could be the best thing about the company).

9:05 am — On starting a 1st-person Vlog

Still tempted by the idea of starting a first-person vlog with my new spectacles. Capturing footage is insanely easy, but I’ve had no bandwidth to process anything other than the auto-generated montages. Conceptually, it fascinates me. It removes all of the recording friction. I don’t ever need to consciously decide, ‘it’s time to make the vlog.’ The camera is anchored to my face. The quality isn’t amazing, but that’s not the point. It’s a secret glimpse. You get to be a fly on the wall, and experience reality from my precise vantage point. It flips the notion of the formal top-quality podcast studio. Instead, the world is the stage. And the creator in unhinged from equipment.

7:44 am — The coldest day of winter strikes New York — a Siberian chill — and of course, it’s the day I’ve scheduled a move. In and out all day, and I woke up the next morning with rubber lips and callused nose.

7:43 am — This new apartment feels like a combination of the last 3 places I’ve lived. One bedroom from the 29th Street, another from 37th Street. The closet layouts are identical. Furniture pieces which struggled to find a proper home in Big Finger suddenly come alive in a new setting. The stairs are like Manorville too. It’s all deja vu. A melting pot of past spatial experiences, now coagulated in a new spot. Patterns are firing.

7:42 am — Cawing birds, one 2am cat fight, a 10” roach (not inside, but just outside the front door), and a flight path overhead — this feels like the right amount of NYC wildlife.

February 4th, 2023

11:02 pm — After you move somewhere new, you’re ripe for positive feedback loops. There are no habits in this place. New environments, paired with intent, let you etch in new behavior.

3:25 pm — What kinds of ideas can you ‘weaponize’ through earworms? Usually earworms are in the domain of pop music, and the philosophy within is flat. They’re hollow candy. The jingles loop, but nothing of substance sticks. (Or, maybe they subconsciously enforce tasteless desires). But the Fugs.. the Fugs are heavy. One of the lines repeated in their chorus is, “Ashes and shrieks, ashes
Ashes and grieving, ashes and moaning, Eyes with a vision of torture, Fright with a feeling for death.” The phrasing is so irregular that I find myself humming it, but without rationally processing what they’re saying.

February 2nd, 20223

5:31 pm — AI advances through bigger language models, better labeling, and more tasteful ranking of responses. So while there is a race to train AIs on more and more raw text, there’s also a bottleneck of humans ‘parenting’ this monster. We explain apples from oranges, and right from wrong. The difference is: leverage. You make one parental decision, and the AI’s model updates for the entire planet.

4:53 pm — On hearing music in your head

Sometimes I hear music vividly in my head, as if there’s some internal speaker and I can make out lush orchestras. I’m not composing, it’s more like an automatic torrent of sound. If I were classically trained in music, I could probably transcribe it, but I’m not. It comes in fevers, with marijuana, and sometimes in dreams. It comes in sober states too, but only when I pair it with an imagined visual. If I can pair a daydreamed image with a strong emotion, somehow music emerges (triangulation?). In any case, it just happened, and I took some notes on the nature of the raw sound that sometimes emerges from my imagination.

  • It’s free of tempo. It speeds up and slows down, and sometimes takes radical right turns in tempo.

  • It’s fragmentary and untamed. Rarely does it return to a motif or a chorus to repeat itself. That stuff is the stuff of order and logic. This comes as a sequence of 5-30 impulses. Sometimes they transition and warp, and sometimes they just change.

  • The EQs are wonky. There are all sorts of timbers and tones. It’s not just about identifying, “that noise is a C#," but “that C# went from 2,000 to 200 HZ, rotated around my ears, and turned from a piano into a kazoo.” Just a silly example, but there aren’t clear or consistent ‘instruments’ that produce the sounds.

It ranges from random to alien beautiful, but it mostly haunts me how it’s trapped in my head. As soon as I try to analyze it and bring it into the world, it breaks down and loses its allure. Hopefully I can one day figure out how to harness this.

4:16 pm — In a moment of peak logistical, psychological, and emotional turmoil, catching COVID is a cosmic joke. Hit him while he’s down! Whatever dim flame of energy I had left was sacked, and I became lead on a mattress. With no muscular or mental willpower, I found myself cycling through the different feeds: Twitter, Readwise, Gmail, Slack. Scroll and archive. Scroll and archive. It’s the work of defensive surveillance.

4:04 pm — Nat Eliason said you only need to make four big decisions per year. What if you make them all at once?