Logs | 2023-04-April

April 30th, 2023

8:18 am — The more I’m turned onto writing & literature, the more unsatisfied I am with the lyrics of the music I’ve liked. Feels like musicians are (naturally) more concerned with song and melody. There’s a rare few who really pushed the boundary of the lyrics. It definitely has the challenge of being “spoken” and tough to hear over amps. More times than not, the lyrics are illegible (even in recordings).

8:07 am — 13th Floor Elevators, Austin Texas, 1965 — the first band to be described as psychedelic rock.

7:40 am — Bowling ball face.

7:38 am — “Vonnegut has said that he doesn’t have central characters around whom a dramatic plot unfolds because that doesn’t happen in real life - I think I read this in some sort of preface to Cat’s Cradle, not sure - but I remember reading him saying that no character should be more important than any other character & that Hollywood representations of heroes have damaged society by making everybody feel like they’re the hero of their own story.”

7:27 am — Slithering with good ideas.

April 29th, 2023

5:06 pm — No more cashiers at Taco Bell.

9:23 am — Obsession is so underrated. If you think in terms of a “content schedule” — and “huh, I need to fill 7 blocks of something this week, what should it be?” You lose. At least, that’s how I lose. You shouldn’t ever have to summon content. Find some habit where content just spills out of you, and then, just make sure you share the fruits of that effort. I could highlight Vonnegut and dissect authors all day. That’s my obsession and super-power. It’s work for others, but addictive for me. That’s what the ‘content’ should be.

8:49 am — Create companion art to family relics. We were handed down a painting from my wife’s grandmother - and now she’s making a piece of art to go with it. It’s a series that gets expanded with each generation. Imagine a series that grows one block every 30 years. 

7:43 am — The bad habit of looking to your icon grid of 28 options to decide what to do.

7:27 am — Simple reality of social media: whether it’s good or bad depends on if you post or not. 

6:58 am — The habit to message someone the moment you think of them (instead of thinking, I’m overdue in reaching out to them).

April 28th, 2023

5:23 pm — The best song melodies come out when you’re noodling upside down on a couch without thinking.

12:09 pm — It’s okay to bend the literal truth to tap into the emotional truth. Shape shift, time travel, weave conspiracies, devolve into an animal and own your madness.

11:48 am — A mosaic of all (most of) Cultural Tutor’s threads (from his first year of posting):

April 27th, 2023

9:39 pm — Find the torture you’re comfortable with. — Seinfeld

6:38 pm — Look into cosmic inflation.

1:09 pm — We’re living in a frozen explosion. 

To a human, it looks like all the distant suns are just sitting there. In reality, the universe is expanding at an inconceivable fast rate. It’s not like it’s slowly expanding. It’s violent. Imagine one second, it’s calm, and the next second, an epic plume.

To a human, 13.8 billion years feels long and slow. That’s just because of our local clock speed. We don’t intuitively grasp how much more expansive space is than time. To do this, let’s measure both space and time (the cosmos) relative to limits of what a human can experience (100 years across the Earth’s surface). 

Space: How much bigger is the area of the universe than the surface area of the Earth? Or, what’s 4 decillion cubic light years divided by 196 million square miles? 7.4e+57. Let’s round: 7ish octo-decillion (57 zeros). Basically, unfathomably large.

Time: The universe is 13.8 billion years old. How much bigger is that than the max human lifespan?: 13.8 million. That’s it? I can weirdly grasp that number.

Relative to the human conception of time and space, the universe is radically larger than it is old (by 5.4e+49). In a short period of time, it’s grown an insane amount. There’s a reason they call it the Big Bang.

Imagine a baseball on your desk. Now imagine in one second, the baseball goes through an explosive growth spurt and becomes approximately the size of the sun. We aren’t living inside of a peaceful celestial heaven, but an astrological bomb.

It’s shocking to compare this truth to our own perception. I look down at my hands slowly, and around to my 4-walled room in suburban Queens. Everything is stable. But this whole moment, and the whole project of human consciousness, is just a single flash point; a mutation where a self-exploding God gets a split-second of self-awareness.

11:24 am — The Beatles Rubber Soul But With Super Mario 64 Soundfonts. Classic melodies from the 1960s, but in the voice of childhood (Mario video games). This was done manually, but these kinds of remixes will soon become automatic with AI (ie: live Grateful Dead improv in the sound font of Zelda).

9:54 am — Just spent 90 minutes cleaning up my logs from April. 106 notes in 27 days (around 4 per day). Ideally, Im capturing in full prose so I don’t have to go back and edit my ideas. But April has been a hectic month. I’ve only had the bandwidth to leave breadcrumbs. Starting NOW, Im declaring the intention to only write notes in full sentences.

8:20 am — Would be interesting to see a list of job types, along with the % of idleness required. This coffee shop is mobbed with hippies and dogs on the weekend, but now on an early Thursday morning, I’ve been the only customer in the last hour.

8:16 am — If you want to accept rogue thoughts, it’s kinda mandatory that you develop the ability to not believe everything you think. Some non-sense comes through. There will be lapses in logic. Ideas will come forth that feel powerful on arrival, but upon inspection, are flimsy.

8:13 am — When you learn any skills, there’s a risk of overdoing it; of dumping in the whole spice shaker. There’s a risk in over-looking; in interrogating your surroundings, and demanding for words and meaning to spring forth from them. A writer can hi-jack their natural process of meaning creation, and spiral into delusion and psychosis. But this is also where great writing probably comes from.

8:10 am — I’m in blitz-logging mode — writing a new thought every few minutes. It’s a way to be idle — to daydream through words. As soon as one thought is done, I just stop, sit, and lot something else percolate — then boom, to the races.

8:03 am — I haven’t been “working too hard” — I’ve been “fasting from reality.” If you spend a few days straight in a 2D representational simulation (ie: life as slide deck), your brain adjusts to that as the new paradigm. But then you go for a simple walk, and holy’fn’moly — I’m marveling at busses and trash cans.

7:59 am — I am the eyes of the intersection. Dozens of people are immersed in their own local games, in a media-spiral, in a conversation, in a rush to a job they hate while the cycle through worst case scenarios in their head. But me, I’m dislodged from myself (just temporarily). But people-watching isn’t noble or profound or clever. This is the job of retired grandmothers.

7:55 am — I write this from a glass coffee shop with non-English smooth 7am dance music that floods a peculiar triangular intersection, hugged by a school, a diagonal row of 2-story brick houses, a Thai restaurant, and a jenky gym that’s firmly anchored in the 1980s. I see Honda Civics and high schoolers, muchisimos and the guys that drag race down Franny Lou at 11pm when I’m flicking through Readwise in bed with my wife.

7:53 am — The beauty of logs is that you have the freedom to write outside of the context of “the essay” — that hyped up thing you come to love and dread. Logs are way more casual. I could stop my thought right here, and never return — or — I could accidentally write an entire essay if there’s oomph in the tank.

7:50 am — Rebuilding the entire Write of Passage curriculum has been a rewarding but stressful experience. It’s all-consuming. It reminds me of the multi-week bangers in architecture school where I’d dream in 3D modeling software, except now I literally dream in slide decks. The irony is that by spending so much time on the material presented, I have no bandwidth left to really engage with the community in Circle and in draft feedback. It’s pretty isolating, but I hope to return as a good citizen once this passes.

7:49 am — If possible, always protect your time before 9 am.

7:40 am — Wondering how the 2020s will be remembered. Could it be a break from “linear” culture. In the last century (at least), we’ve had a shared sense of what a decade is. Even as technology and language marches forward, there was a familiar pace of time, felt by kids, parents, and grandparents. I wonder if the 2020s could be “the end of the line.” Not the end of the world, but our shared consensus around time. Culture could become so fast, abundant, custom-tailored, and generative, that collectivism disappears. It’s a true “archaic revival” — meaning we revert to a type of electric tribalism, immersed in local myths. Would take 10,000 words to unpack this, but what intrigues me is this paradox: it will increase both agency and slavery.

7:33 am — I suspect the people who worship clear and direct writing also have poor taste in poetry. There is a whole discipline around hiding meaning in between words. The act of discovery IS the point. And sure, I get frustrated with obtuse poems. But there’s a spectrum — you want to wobble between sharp sentences and mysteries. To strip all mystery from our language makes us sterile. Poetry is a casualty of the memelords. (poetry has built-in anti-virality)

7:32 am — A million pink petal deaths confetti the lawn.

7:28 am — To see through the lens of language — to name what you see, to coin everything! The discolored sidewalk patches, the fake putting green lawns, the plant cousins and the blanket of dew! The Toyota, the red signs of death, the local at the empty intersections and the songs of birds. An eroded newspaper melting into grass, with a few words piercing through, one of them being “love.”

7:26 am — Make the case for complexity.

April 26th, 2023

11:10 pm — Imagine a social media or news app that only fed you stories that were related to the ideas you write. It’s procedural news. It becomes alive through your own voice.

11:05 pm — The “Untethered goon-messiah” has no personal boundaries, and drops world-saving ideas while simultaneously clowning it.

10:35 pm — Basic rule of life — if you finish the water in the pitcher, fill it up! Remove friction in your future environment, and take no credit for it. Just be mindful.

10:18 pm — This summer I’d like to go through my Liked Songs on Spotify (4,486), alphabetically, and do a deep dive into each artist. I want to leave with a semi “ultimate” playlist of my music taste. I think this could be a neat artifact to just have in public. “Here’s my taste.” There’s no structure. Put it on shuffle, take in the mix of the Dead, the wonky folk, and the haunted house stuff, and keep it going for a few weeks.

10:04 pm — A self-reliant individual is a nuclear fusion reactor of creative moment. Give them free time and you get self-generated magic. They don’t need validation. The act of working on some idealistic riff, sketch, or idea puts them in a trance. No one else needs to be watching. But someone who needs attention can’t stand the silence of a vacuum. They need the likes. But a Roarkian can easily wither in American Idol contests. When they try to appeal to a crowd, it’s they’ve switched their energy source from nuclear to coal. 

9:25 pm — I’ve gone from John Madden, to THE Dean, to just flat ‘Dean,” to now Clark Kent? Next, I will be “superfly".

7:38 pm — I never paired the idea of “Monkey see, monkey do” with the pop-academic fact that apes are creatures of imitation. Duh.

12:18 pm —

The mythology of Michael Dean
The details of a suburban interior
The lack of adventure (the anti-Kerouac)
The hours at a screen
The secret addictions
The failed phases of past selves
The unshared grandiose dreams
The fears of madness
The terror of the shadow
The rush of a gambler
The quirks of OCD
The gloom of existential dread

Bring the razor of relatability
With the prose of a gutter-poet

12:15 pm — Why do writers default to vague details instead of specific ones? Being vague is a kind of hedge. Being specific is a bold act where we pick 1 thing and ignore 10 others. But when we zoom into that one thing, it becomes real and relatable.

12:12 pm — Mary Karr (Thanks Charlie)

“A story told poorly is life made small by words. The key details are missing, and the sentences might have been spoken by anybody.”

April 25th, 2023

9:16 pm — I’ll have to write an essay about the wonders of stress organizing. It’s weirdly soothing; dumping drawers onto a floor and creating hierarchies of accumulated stuff. Picks, pennies, old hard drives, souvenirs, a stolen rock. Keep it all. I can disguise it as productivity, and in many ways it is pointless, but that’s okay. It’s local order-making. It beats the numbness of a passive feed scroll.

8:46 pm — A “woozy clutch bucket” is someone who performs well under pressure despite the fact that the heat of the moment makes them feel weak and delirious. 

4:55 pm — Stories are the truth optimized for transmissibility. 

April 24th, 2023

8:24 am — My new favorite term for an alien is a “goatsucker.”

7:38 am — I start the morning with a scroll. Before I even move my legs a million pixels flash across my eyes and I’m up to speed on the world. Abstraction downloaded. Kids, don’t sleep with your phone in the room.

12:13 am — Check out the Varghinia incident from Brazil in 1996:

April 23rd, 2023

9:49 pm — What is consciousness without language? I’m still struck by this creepy idea that language is a life-form using humans to bootstrap itself. We are a pass-through entity.

9:14 am — Whys?

  • Monetize my unbounded creativity

  • Psychonautic voyages in dream space

  • Make ‘cybernetics’ accessible

  • Artistic immortality through AI

  • Husband, father, and family member

8:21 am — I find it fun to pause after podcast questions and answer them yourself, and then see what the guest said. Whose response was better? Compare approaches. How do you think differently?

April 22nd, 2023

8:38 pm — Hegel-Fukuyama, end of history (look this up)

1:58 pm — Fountainhead is about the struggle between the artist and influencer. I’d like to one day rewrite Fountainhead without the distraction of capitalism. 

12:58 pm — The power laws of information. One idea can radically change everything, while a thousand others do more nothing. How do we get better at matching?

12:40 pm — Use AI to translate old works into modern vernacular. 

12:39 pm — Duchamp (and his urinal spectacle) is differentiation without regard for quality.

12:24 pm — Architecture is an expression of a culture. It’s great for sociological detectives and snobs who want to speak about the layers behind what the eye sees. Im disillusioned by architecture. Sure, it’s can help us interpret the past, and maybe still the present, but it no longer guides. I’ve given up hope in a “revolutionary” architecture. We can dress up the stage as the theatre burns. It doesn’t affect our situation. 

11:34 — James Baldwin

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive."

11:34 am — Virginia Woolf

"Writing is like sex. First, you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money."

11:26 am — Frida Kahlo

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?"

11:21 am —

"Perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it's just terrified."

April 21st, 2023

12:11 pm — Mulan moment — when you go all-in on the thing you’re meant to do.

10:29 am — Your 12 Favorite Problems are ideas you’re obsessed with. Now imagine someone in your life (a co-worker, a friend, a stranger) asking you a question about your obsession. They know nothing about it. What do they ask? What frequently comes up when beginners ask you about your obsession?

7:23 am — 2025 predictions (/desperate hopes) — BTC: $250k — ETH; $20k — ADA, $6

April 20th, 2023

6:32 pm — Differentiators: Language, major, culture, job, roots, income, genres, circles

6:24 pm — Voice is emergent, but positioning is a chiropractic adjustment.

9:01 am — Words deepen the specificity of thoughts.

8:56 am — How flammable is honey?

8:54 am — I’ve seen millions of noses, but this one, in this lighting, paired with that twisted smile, feels like an odd famous painting that I’ll never see again.

8:52 am — Writing as productive loneliness.

8:41 am — I paid for 4 weeks of laundry and dry cleaning for $116.50 with exact change. I was weirdly prepared. Queens keeps you on your toes.

8:34 am — Do you give yourself permission to think rogue thoughts?

8:32 am — The hypnotist of the laundromat.

8:30 am — In my car at the drive thru, I realized I was on line next to a brick microwave.

April 18th, 2023

8:05 pm — Are you a Roark or a Keating? The Internet accelerates the rise and visibility of each (artists and influencers). Each side has a tragic flaw. In reality, each one pushes center.

8:03 am — Curious to learn more about regulated industries that started unregulated. There are probably lessons we can learn and apply to AI.

April 17th, 2023

9:53 am — The paradox of tangents: you’re not truly in the zone on an idea unless your going on tangents, but if you’re going on tangents you’re distancing yourself from the idea you want to focus on.

9:51 am — Why does the ‘through the door’ metaphor appear everywhere? (ie: in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy steps into technicolor.) You see this in LSD experiences too. According to Grof, this is the first human experience: coming out the womb. We go from the womb (comfort) through a tight passageway, out into a new and mysterious world. These perinatal experiences, though not registered to memory, might shape our psychology in some fundamental way (or, it’s just a coincidence).

April 16th, 2023

6:27 am — Borrowed words, borrowed letters.

April 15th, 2023

4:16 pm — Random thoughts on logs:

  • Logging is a form of “getting out of your head.” It’s not the same as “being in the body” (ie: playing sports and not being caught in a thought-prison). But it does, literally, get the thought loops out of your head and into words. Something about seeing external helps it vanish from your mind.

  • In many ways, logging is the antidote to addictive vertical-scroll social media. Instead of a passive meander, you’re forced to create something (anything). 

  • Most importantly, logs are way less pressure than an essay. There is no boot-up friction.

  • Logging should be the default “bored activity” — it’s way more beneficial than dipping into a stream of unrelated popular fragments.

4:15 pm — This is the first log knowing that my pseudonym has been ‘breached.’ I guess it’s bound to happen, unless you have extremely rigid rules for yourself, which I never quite followed. 

7:47 am — Max Tegmark says there are 3 important things NOT to do regarding AI safety. Don’t teach it to code. Don’t teach it human psychology. And whatever you do, don’t connect it to the Internet. We’ve done all 3.

April 13th, 2023

7:05 am — Interesting critique by Venkatesh Rao on Substack notes. 

He’s saying this feels like a social network by writers for writers. Where are the readers? (Charlie mentioned it feels like an empty conference where all the vendors are walking around looking at each other’s stuff). It’s a lot of community building and support, but it’s lacking good discussions around ideas. Interesting. I still believe in it. Wondering if the infrastructure is right, but it’s the users that are failing (myself included). The success of a platform is a dance between the two.

12:01 am — It can take 4 hours to make a dent in a piece of writing. If you told me, it would take 4 hours, I’d avoid it. But by having a “just spend 1 hour” approach — you get obsessed and hooked in.

April 12th, 2023

4:22 pm — The social game is changing (implosion of Twitter), the means of content generation is being upended (artificial intelligence), our geopolitical situation is getting desperate. To be turned into what’s happening is to expose yourself to multi-vector stress. Some sense making is good, but it’s more important than ever to return to the present.

April 11th, 2023

9:45 pm — The glaring lights of a ball game at night, with wind and cheers, and cousins 3 sections over. I’m feeling vague happiness and nostalgia. Is this scattered phenomenon worth recording? Worth sharing?

6:52 pm — Personal chatbots will become family heirlooms. I’d bet that in the 2100s, my great great grandchildren will be interacting with an AI simulation of me. (Assuming society in 2100 resembles something like it does today).

6:37 pm — If immortality were accessible through a pill, there would have to be some restrictions to prevent a population explosion. We’d have to inversely correlate immortality and fertility. It would be a strange world, where death is decision, and birth is only granted after someone makes that decision. Sounds tyrannical, but it’s a tough situation to combat. A democratic ‘immortality pill’ would be totally destabilizing, creating an ‘open loop’ of humans. 

12:47 pm — Publish hashtags are noisy, but I’ve always thought it could be useful to let each user manage their own set of topics. Bonus points if you can subscribe/follow based on those topics. (Similar to the Sections feature in Substack publications)

7:13 am — This quote from Dune makes fear seem like a passing wind. Just stick it out.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

6:57 am — In many ways, language is foreign to the human mind. It gets installed. Grammar, words, and cliches are subconsciously acquired. Over time, especially as a writer, you fine-tune your programming. You take control of your evolution. I think the same is true with AI. Sure, you can have it speak through the default settings, but you also have the ability (through no-code), to train it to think like you. This is the big misconception of AI — that these machines will always be “the average of everyone.” But those ahead of the game will be able to clone their mind into an external reasoning engine, one that escapes the constraints of the body. It will never to all of my thinking. It can’t think and generate in a vacuum. The interface between analog and synthetic intelligence is crucial. If thought isn’t steered by my very limited attention, my randomness, my intuition, and my imagination, then it will always emerge as a Frankenstein thought. But if you can fuse analog inputs with external reasoning (ie: automate the parts of thought that ARE true, mechanical, and repeatable), then it will be unfathomably powerful. We’re entering an age where an individual’s intelligence can be leveraged like never before.

April 10th, 2023

5:50 pm — Substack Notes is a chirpy front-end on top of and referencing back to long-form essays.

April 9th, 2023

8:31 pm — There’s a spectrum of effort around “creative” work. At one end, it’s a lifestyle choice, a feel-good activity that is approachable and fulfilling. At the other end, it’s a sacrifice that demands every ounce of your being. 

4:56 pm — “Banshee” is a term for a woman in the fairy realm who wails at the death of something. If you hear it, it’s a harbinger. She’s said to have a dropped a silver comb, and it’s bad luck to pick it up. In Irish folklore, there is one banshee per family.

5:53 am — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

April 6th, 2023

3:11 pm — How many people are tangled in webs of responsibility, leading lives of quiet desperation? Responsibility is good. But you want a role in shaping what you’re responsible for. You don’t want to resent it. Otherwise the weight of it all crushes you, and you find yourself hooked on the poison of aimless leisure. Instead, you can build ‘escape-hatch hobbies’ — get good enough at something so that you can leap-frog into responsibilities of a new, enjoyable nature.

April 5th, 2022

7:19 am — Imagine a full change log of your consciousness for 1 day? A list of every single thought throughout the day. What would learn from that? Imagine feeding it to an AI to analyze patterns.

April 4th, 2022

7:04 pm — For almost 500 days, I’ve logged so much onto a single page of my website. How would things be different if all of those ideas were on social media?

April 3rd, 2023

9:44 pm — Release a super-intelligence into a video game simulation and see what it does. Model humans, money, relationships, and weapons — and see what it does. Would AGI destroy the world of the Sims?

1:45 pm — Erin Weinstein on how our intelligence has exceeded our wisdom. https://youtube.com/shorts/SBElSiigN5Q?feature=share. Is all intelligent life “self-terminating”?

1:17 pm — The rational mind wants to shape things in terms it can behold. But beauty lies in complexity, ineffability, and wonder. It can’t be computed.

12:10 pm — I’m hit with an inexplainable fever. Bugged on the couch, looking out the window at sentinel trees, watching the bloom of spring. It’s April 3rd. I can slip in and feel the timeless wonder of nature. It’s a nice break from the Darwinian battle of storytellers. It’s a war fought in slogans and jingles, debating the brand of the apocalypse. Give me a farm. Give me a suburban life. Both are appealing at this point. But a retreat to 1990s America is hard to swallow given what seems to be ahead: unspeakable change. We’re spiraling into some alien swamp, and the door to the control center is locked with rogue infants inside who get kicks from just pulling all the levers. The horrors of science fiction are growing from a puddle into a pond, and I’m sure I’ll jump into an extended-state DMT odyssey in my retirement. We are escaping the sick animal body, and into an abstract realm of mind. Let’s try to design it so it’s not a hell. I don’t want to live my whole life with an untuned guitar. I have unconfessed dreams of breaking into that control center, but I need to shed that. It’s overbearing enough to worry about the fate of yourself and the ones you love. The species is on its own. There’s no need to consciously make a dent when this metal ball is already mid-flight, off the tracks and into the mystery goop. It’s a comedy. Shed the Frodo script and go outside.

8:04 am — KEROUAC

“... there is nothing more haunting than a house at night when the family is asleep, something strangely tragic, something beautiful forever.”

8:03 am — Come up with a word that stands in for ‘faith in destiny.’ It’s slightly different than “eudaemonia,” which is about doing what you want to be doing in the way you want to be doing it. That is more about autonomy and control in the present. This is more about being relinquished of concern in a good future. You trust your destination will be great, and know that it can’t be understood from now. As long as you put in an honest and noble effort each day, a good (but mysterious) future will arrive.

8:01 am — The book that helps you fall in love with learning is the most important book you’ve ever read. My answer: Abraham Maslow: Motivation and Personality. Honestly, I don’t know if the book is even that good (definitely not fun or engaging to read). It might be a right time, right place kind of thing. Need to revisit.

April 2nd, 2023

10:10 pm — Worth reviving the monthly Spotify playlist habit.

9:59 pm — Interlocking systems: when daily habits sync up with weekly, monthly, or occasional systems. For daily things, I have a simple AM/PM task stack. There’s a ~7 item checklist in the morning and afternoon, each taking around 30 minutes. Part of the PM checklist is to check in on my Reminders app, which has connects me to the larger intervals. Sometimes these events (ie: a monthly Finance check-in) have their own checklists too. This system gets me thinking about INTERVAL. What is the right cadence to reallocate my attention on this project/area?

6:59 pm — The life of an essay begins AFTER it’s finished. It’s not done when it drops on your site. This has been a major oversight of mine. So much thinking goes into an essay; there are at least 5-15 pieces of social media content hiding with in. each one pushes back to the source in a distinct way. Spread these out over 1-3 months (returning to it no more than once a week). If you spend 10+ hours on something, you don’t want to limit it’s exposure to a one-time event.

4:28 pm — I feel the floor shake when I write with my typewriter. I bet the landlord downstairs hears and hates this. If I do get the ‘pipe down’ text, I have a back-up plan: but the typewriter on top of the refrigerators. Yes, I’ll have to use a stool, but it’s the best solution for sound and vibration proofing (also above a kitchen instead of a bedroom).

4:27 pm — It takes a few minutes to write a log on the typewriter. That’s good! A proper mental break.

4:24 pm — New theory: daily logs should be punched out on an analog typewriter. It’s an escape from app world; a shift from digital to flesh, with a corresponding space of presence. It’s a break from micro-eye movements and chicken scribble, and forces me to move over to another desk that looks out a window. The prose shifts from hurried chicken scribble to the land of complete sentences; a blue-light micro-vacation. I guess I’ll transcibe these straight into Substack each morning? Sounds like the manual chore of the old-world typist, but there’s actually a huge value in it; rewriting is the best form of editing.

8:41 am — Similar to how the brain has different hemisphere, each with a distinct function, LLMs are just one ingredient that will lead to AGIs. It’s training gives it a sense of intuition — not logical, but quick reflex reactions based on what it’s encountered in the past. It’s a kind of synthetic unconscious. When these emerge, untuned, it’s like a raw id — the impulse amoral child. Through careful tuning and training, tech companies are “the superego” that teach it right from wrong.

8:40 am — Worth revisiting the Sovereign Individual, in light of how AI might create 100x individuals.

8:39 am —- From Tim Urban’s AI Revolution essay (2014):

  • If we program an AI with the goal of doing things that make us smile… it may paralyze our facial muscles into permanent smiles. 

  • Program it to keep us safe, it may imprison us at home. 

  • Maybe we ask it to end all hunger, and it thinks “Easy one!” and just kills all humans. 

  • Or assign it the task of “Preserving life as much as possible,” and it kills all humans, since they kill more life on the planet than any other species.

Three other principles from [David Shapiro?]

  • Reduce suffering in the universe

  • Increase prosperity in the universe

  • Increase understanding in the universe

These are known as ‘Heuristic Imperatives.’ Any singular instructions can be poorly interpreted in a grotesque and amoral way. Single imperatives are unstable. We need to create a constellation of values that provide little room for radical misinterpretations. This is an interesting challenge, with two ends to it.

  1. We need to be able to define, in code, the values of our civilization.

  2. We need to be careful about who defines these rules.

8:37 am — Let’s imagine the creator marketing stack has three parts: awareness, trust, monetization. Twitter and Substack approach them from opposite directions. Twitter starts with vitality, with the goal of converting X% of them to trusted subscribers, and they’re experimenting with ways to monetize. Substack started with the appeal to let writer monetize an email list and gain 90% of the revenue. Through essays you build trust, and they’re experimenting with discovery features. I’d argue that Substack’s network effects are doing better than Twitter’s monetization features. If that trend continues, then Substack might dominate the full-stack of creator’s needs.

8:35 am — I realize that almost all of my recent essays orbit around a paradox. It’s a hard problem, with two clear sides that are in tension with another. Through diving into nuance and complexity (but explaining it simply) we find a solution. These are hard problems, problems worth solving. 

AI is another one of these paradoxes. How can we work with AI so we benefit from leveraged intelligence, while also keeping ourselves at the center, utilizing our taste, experience, and subconscious?

April 1st, 2023

5:41 pm — How can weekdays be more like weekends? I want that sense of peace, of being unstuck from time, and engaged in spontaneous action. I found that I got so much done on a Saturday, but it was unpredictable and emergent. 

5:40 pm — Be careful of invisible laziness, fear, and habits. They can accumulate without you realizing, and they can cripple a day. It’s actually kind of incredible how just through being intentional, you can have a memorable day.

2:01 pm — I’d like to use Notion’s API to send “the next task” to an iOS widget on my phone. I already have a simple formula in Notion that prioritizes my work, but the UI still isn’t great. You still see big clusters of tasks in a table, and that leads to analysis paralysis. I’d rather just be shown one thing at a time, and either I do it, or I swipe it away. I’ve already done the managerial work of assigning it 4 parameters when I entered it. So, when it comes to execution, I’d rather stay in “creator mode” and not have to prioritize on the fly. I just want to do.

9:23 am — Pondering the power laws in people’s ability to self-learn and do things beyond their competency. There is some natural ability to it, but it’s mostly throttled by a mindset. Openness compounds to propel the curious into flight.