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Small-Scale Question Sunday for February 25, 2024

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

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This is a total shot in a dark.

But, does anyone in the bay area want to start a reddit competitor ? I don't wanna talk much more about it.

If you are:

  • Senior+ level fullstack engineer
  • Could rebuilt old-reddit from scratch if they had to (at moderate scale)
  • Has strong intuitions & opinions about every part of the stack
  • Likes to mentor
  • At a FANG-ish/Unicorn and
  • In the SF/LA area
  • Moderately presentable

Then I would love to talk to you.

I have fleshed out a lot of it pretty well. But wanna see if there are people intersted in joining in.

I can do

  • most ML work (model building, model deployment, some pipelining, all prompt engineering),
  • soft-skill work (talking to people, finding investors, out reach, PR)
  • and L3 Google Engineer level programming (I can make reddit from scratch if I had to, but it would be an all python static website that is barebones like hackernews than reddit yknow. Good enough to be an engineer in a team, not to architect backend systems).

Some questions

  • Why this - I have a specific 'killer feature' in mind that sets it apart
  • Why now - I have a strong hypothesis for market opportunity
  • Why you - how many people care passionately about internet forums
  • Why AI - There is an AI component that makes it easier to get funding in this climate

Likely follow up questions

  • Have you validated the hypothesis with a large enough set of real customers - No
  • Do you have a demo yet - No
  • Is the proposal anything more than 'reddit but better'. Yes, yes yes. But I don't wanna puke it all out.

It isn't that small scale. But would love to talk to people if they're interested.

Fictional, but if you're interested in the concept, this is a novel based on the premise. I haven't read it, but I know the author from his podcast Game of Roses and book How to Win the Bachelor, and on the podcast he discussed the premise:

Karen finds herself accidentally pregnant. Instead of getting the abortion she’d always intended to get had this situation arise, she opts to conduct an experiment designed to test what she feels is the hypocrisy of the Christian right and pro-life movement. Figuring that there are about 157 million Christians in the country, she sets up a website announcing that if she receives $100 million dollars (approximately 64 cents per person) in donations by the end of her second trimester, she’ll have the baby and donate the money to a trust fund in its name. If not, she’ll have the abortion.

I haven't thought about this too much, but when reading

true virality, maximal offensiveness, absence of deliberation, and the ability to provoke endless discussion and debate

President Donald Trump was the first thought that came to mind.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for a smaller version from the other side.

Does anyone have direct experience mixing alcohol with SSRIs, or medical experience treating people who have?
I'm asking in SSQ rather than WW because it's tangential to a red hot culture war question circa 2015: drink spiking.

The percentage of women taking antidepressants has doubled or tripled in the last decade, but there's been no decrease in drinking to compensate. I think Scott may have briefly tangled with this during the feminism wars of the 10s when Vox and Jezebel revived earlier panics, but afaik nobody's actually looked at the likelihood that a lot of the self-reported symptoms you see on reddit are real, but caused by interactions with other drugs.

Apparently there was a recent hysteria in europe about men injecting women with drugged needles in bars which eventually died down after the claims got too wild. The wikipedia article is very carefully written not to call it a social panic, but the writer obviously wishes he could just say it.

I'm worried we're going to keep getting mass panics like this fueled by social media, activists, and a dysfunctional drinking and drug culture that people are unwilling to own up to. But since I don't have any experience with SSRIs, drinking, or european party culture, I'm probably not the right person to make an argument about it.

Apparently there was a recent hysteria in europe about men injecting women with drugged needles in bars which eventually died down after the claims got too wild.

This headline is very striking: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40792437.html

For ~6 months or so. I felt they made me a cheap date, in that I would feel the effects of alcohol quicker and more pronounced for a given volume of drink.

I have an EXTENSIVE experience with alcohol combined with SSRIs, and the only time it went into any WTF territory was with one particular one out of half a dozen, mixed with alcohol AND Xanax. Otherwise, alcohol plus SSRI is absolutely the same as alcohol on its own.

I have had plenty of drinks while on SSRIs, and I can't say it made a difference.

From what I'm aware of in the literature, the risk is minimal, and primarily due to alcohol worsening symptoms of depression rather than a significant interaction.

I do, however, lean towards it being hysteria that so many women confuse being "blackout drunk" with being roofied. Like, drink enough alcohol and that just happens, including waking up in an unfamiliar place feeling like shit. It's just not probably due to SSRIs making it worse, women have a lower alcohol tolerance in the first place.

I do, however, lean towards it being hysteria that so many women confuse being "blackout drunk" with being roofied. Like, drink enough alcohol and that just happens, including waking up in an unfamiliar place feeling like shit.

I've always been confused by the American tendency to conflate being blackout drunk with being passed out, completely helpless or doing things you'd otherwise never do even while drunk. All it means is that you drank enough for your brain to not store new memories (or store them very poorly) during that time (which could range anywhere from 30 minutes to many hours). There are many factors that can influence getting a blackout, such as how fast you get drunk (even if the level of drunkenness is the same), whether you ate anything, how tired you are, genetic factors etc, all without implying that you've lost control, are helpless or will pass out.

When I was much younger it wasn't that unusual for me to get blackouts when going out with friends to get properly drunk. It never worried me since I knew that my behavior didn't change all that much when drunk (other than being more talkative than usual and starting to tell really shitty jokes at some point) nor would I be any more helpless than normal. These days I skip the "getting very drunk" part and just progress to feeling like shit if I drink much. I guess that's age for you.

I had a bit hard time believing blackouts were a real thing rather than an excuse before experiencing one.

I don't seem to be able to get blackouts on alcohol alone, I can pass out but not blackout, I always remember everything regardless of whether I'm drunk or not. Then one night I had taken a combination of morphine, caffeine and a lot of alcohol and that made me both black out and act very out of character, not just lacking inhibition like when you're drunk but like a different person.

It made me have a bit more sympathy for people not remember things and acting out while drunk, but only a little. I was surprised and if that was the consequence of me getting drunk I wouldn't drink.

It really differs hugely on a person to person basis. I used to get blackouts quite easily but they would never last all that long - at the very least I'd have memory of finding myself at the entrance to my home. I've passed out exactly once in my life (some 20 years ago). I'd always puke my guts out much before I got that drunk (except for that one time). OTOH, I've never once felt drinker's remorse. Like sure, sometimes I felt slight embarrassed afterwards but that was always a rational reaction, never the kind of "OMG I want to kill myself because I was such an idiot" neurotransmitter imbalance that some people get from drinking (it probably helped that I learned in my late teens that no matter how much I drank, I never started acting much out of character).

It's not like being drunk and having patchy memories, or remembering the dumb things you did and wishing you couldn't remember, or needing to be prompted and then remembering. All three times it's happened to me the last thing I remember is taking my nth shot of vodka in x minutes on an empty stomach. Then waking up.

I've drunk the same amount of alcohol on an empty stomach many times, often much more. I think the critical factor is drinking high strength alcohol much too quickly. Much easier to do when it's just a little shot instead of a big glass of cold gassy beer.

I also used to think blue balls and jaw-dropping were merely colourful euphemisms for sexual frustration and surprise.

I think the critical factor is drinking high strength alcohol much too quickly.

From the few news clips I've read about the topic, I recall that how fast you got drunk is usually more important than how drunk you end up being when it comes to alcohol induced memory loss. Too fast and your brain can't keep up with the result that new memories aren't properly transferred from short term memory to longer term memory.

I think the problem is that people react differently to alcohol/drugs in general. I, for example, tend to get sleepy very fast from alcohol but never outright passed out, likewise I only threw up quite rarely, and by my own recollection and those of my friends I also never did anything I substantially regretted (and being religious country-side hicks, we drank A LOT). Which reflects my admittedly overall bias towards inaction. Other people seem to not get sleepy but quickly do stupid things they regret later, yet others seem mostly fine but throw up relatively quickly, and so on.

Though in agreement, I've seen quite a few cases where someone did something very much out of their own volition they later regretted, but being blackout drunk as well, they instead attributed it to another person taking advantage of them (it's a good way to conserve your own self-image, I admit).

You have summoned a crankier doctor than the one I think you are looking for but I'm sure he will chime in at some point.

Some thoughts:

-It's generally standard of care to recommend that patients on psychiatric medication (or just cross through that and make it just meds in general) abstain from alcohol use. This is for a variety of reasons, chronic and acute alcohol use both have impacts on certain kinds of drug metabolism. Some medications have specific interactions with alcohol (ex: Benzos). Alcohol and Marijuana appear to have a problematic effect on underlying conditions (no shit booze is a downer). This also applies to non-psych things. We are going to suggest you stop drinking.

-Just because it's standard of care doesn't mean it's mandatory, but again if we are speaking in official capacity we are going to tell you not to do it.

-SSRIs are (with some exceptions) pretty fucking safe. Older antidepressants have some issues. We have mostly switched for a reason.

-Alcohol is a poison with a very variable effect on the human body. Sick? Tired? Just worked out? Empty or full stomach? Haven't drank in a while? Random luck of the draw nonsense? You'll have a bad time. Easy to blame on the social boogieman if you do two doubles on an empty stomach.

-Personal anecdote: I've run into a "date rape" drug level alcohol response in settings where I know nobodies shit is tampered with, so I'm certain this class of thing exists, including one time where it was me and my own bottle of rum (and I later connected the dots that I recently had diarrhea and that may have been responsible for my bad time...).

-People are variable (duh) and have variable responses to things AND also variable awareness. There are a lot of people in this world who struggle to realize they are drunk until they are absolutely obliterated. You can easily see how those types (or other adjacent groups) might feel they were drugged if they got really drunk secondary to some other non-sketchy circumstance.

-Mixing uppers and downers is a huge problem and a lot of young people don't take the combination of stimulants (including all that Starbucks) and alcohol seriously. That combo can cause severe reactions and more people abuse those things now.

You have summoned a crankier doctor than the one I think you are looking for but I'm sure he will chime in at some point.

My general sunny disposition has been severely tarnished of late. The schadenfreude from seeing the nurses being chewed out after a patient lodged a formal complaint when they woke him up for his sleeping pills has yet to outweigh the far more numerous times I've been woken up to prescribe them to someone enjoying a far more restful night than I have.*

Personal anecdote: I've run into a "date rape" drug level alcohol response in settings where I know nobodies shit is tampered with, so I'm certain this class of thing exists, including one time where it was me and my own bottle of rum (and I later connected the dots that I recently had diarrhea and that may have been responsible for my bad time...).

I can handle an ungodly amount of liquor (a terrible thing for my bank balance if I were to indulge it), but I remember accepting a single shot of local moonshine at a girl's birthday party and then poof, total anterograde amnesia, with me waking up next morning with a pounding hangover in my knickers.

In her bed.

I'm told that I was uh, talked into crossdressing, and someone has a video of it, which I must figure out a way to delete. Then again, if I ever become cancel-worthy for my many online crimespeeches, it offers a convenient retreat into Protected Characteristic territory. I'm just grateful I didn't go blind, the fucking thing smelled like hand sanitizer and tasted like coconut.

*Urine output on an intensive care unit: case-control study :

Objective To compare urine output between junior doctors in an intensive care unit and the patients for whom they are responsible.

Design Case-control study.

Setting General intensive care unit in a tertiary referral hospital.

Participants 18 junior doctors responsible for clerking patients on weekday day shifts in the unit from 23 March to 23 April 2009 volunteered as “cases.” Controls were the patients in the unit clerked by those doctors. Exclusion criteria (for both groups) were pregnancy, baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate <15 ml/min/1.73 m2, and renal replacement therapy.

Main outcome measures Oliguria (defined as mean urine output <0.5 ml/kg/hour over six or more hours of measurement) and urine output (in ml/kg/hour) as a continuous variable.

Results Doctors were classed as oliguric and “at risk” of acute kidney injury on 19 (22%) of 87 shifts in which urine output was measured, and oliguric to the point of being “in injury” on one (1%) further shift. Data were available for 208 of 209 controls matched to cases in the data collection period; 13 of these were excluded because the control was receiving renal replacement therapy. Doctors were more likely to be oliguric than their patients (odds ratio 1.99, 95% confidence interval 1.08 to 3.68, P=0.03). For each additional 1 ml/kg/hour mean urine output, the odds ratio for being a case rather than a control was 0.27 (0.12 to 0.58, P=0.001). Mortality among doctors was astonishingly low, at 0% (0% to 18%).

Conclusions Managing our own fluid balance is more difficult than managing it in our patients. We should drink more water. Modifications to the criteria for acute kidney injury could be needed for the assessment of junior doctors in an intensive care unit.

(This is why I avoid ICU work like the plague, and if you think medical oncology discharges are bad..)

That is an amazing confidence interval.

At least you can be sure that you won't have more doctors at the end of the study!

It's both a numbers game in terms of having your own personal random bad experience and in terms of meeting people who have zero insight into and understanding of their drinking, but if you expand that to a whole population you are going to catch some weirdness.

It's okay to just ping @self_made_human; he's cool.

A brief search suggests that SSRIs are generally safe with alcohol (IANAMD; please update your will and assign medical power of attorney before mixing any drugs with alcohol based on my advice) but the combination can still "lead to more pronounced effects of drunkenness", which sounds like it could be enough all alone, especially to new users who think they know their limits. And with MAOIs (are these still used often?) interactions range from "you may become drowsy and dizzy" to "dangerous spikes in blood pressure that may require immediate medical attention".

There are far more senior and qualified doctors here, but if you want cheap free medical advice and random bullshit, I'm always on call heh. Anyone is free to ping me, it beats the nurses waking me up at 1 am to write a prescription for Xanax to a patient who is already asleep (this is not a joke, it legitimately happened to me on multiple occasions).

On the topic of MAOIs, can't recall seeing one prescribed recently but I'm not working in pscyh or neuro. My understanding is that, in India at least, they're used far more for Parkinsons than depression, and that seems to be true in the UK.

Can't remember the last time I saw an MAOI (for Psych use anyway, you see them in Neuro). I think Phenelzine is around a bunch still.

The TCA's have broader use, Doxepin is legitimately an excellent choice as a sleep aid.

It's important to keep in mind that SSRIs are safer but not necessarily better - it's a good guess that David Foster Wallace killed himself because his doc insisted on stopping his MAOI for "safety" reasons.

Thanks. I hate pinging people, and use the ol' "indirectly reference them and assume they must hate you forever if they don't reply to it right away."

I've had long periods of taking ssris, and have (and against explicit medical advice) consumed alcohol during those times. I don't know what symptoms you're talking about. SSRIs have not really made me sleepy, in my experience, only other, similar drugs, like SARIs (often presecribed off-label for insomnia) have done that. Maybe the hangovers have been worse. But I can't disentangle that from just the fact that I'm older now.

My gut-level guess has always been that there are theoretical interactions, but most of the "don't mix this with alcohol" advice is based on alcohol causing problems for depression anyway. But I'm also not a doctor, so I don't know what the possible interactions between alcohol and SSRIs are.

Are European women taking SSRIs at similar rates to American women?

Are European women taking SSRIs at similar rates to American women?

Good question. I've found some stats suggesting the increase in Sweden has been similar, but having trouble finding hard data outside the anglosphere.

Huh, I hadn't even considered interactions. That's entirely plausible to add in. My impression was that pretty much all cases of claimed "drink spiking" are basically just people that drank more than they realized and don't have the tolerance to hang. Even as a (too) experienced drinker, I have had mornings where I woke up and thought, "what the fuck, this hangover is bullshit, I didn't even drink that much", so it's entirely plausible to me that someone at a party having mixed drinks with unknown quantities of alcohol could wind up completely hammered and being genuinely surprised by it.

Even as a (too) experienced drinker, I have had mornings where I woke up and thought, "what the fuck, this hangover is bullshit, I didn't even drink that much"

This is the worst, particularly when you know for a fact that you were never even above the legal limit at any point the previous night.

A US Airman lit himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy.In the video while he walked to the gate, he explained that he is protesting the actions of Israel. As he burned, he yelled, "Free Palestine". He is now dead. Two questions from me about the incident:

  • Why would anyone expect these kinds of stunts work at all? I would expect that this only generates sympathy from people that are already on your side. For a neutral observer, I don't get how it generates sympathy. For a committed opponent, I don't understand being disappointed that your adversaries are literally killing themselves. Is the efficacy purely in generating pressure from international media that wanted to pick that side anyway?

  • How the hell do we have soldiers that are suicidally committed to opposing American allies? Seems bad.

It's depression and suicidal ideations first, rationalisations later.

They found his reddit account where he posted pretty heavily. From what I've read it's very standard reddit politics (ACAB, socialism, white privilege). Not sure if it would be against the rules to link it. He doesn't seem noticeably more extreme than anyone else on reddit, could be any of a million other people where you'd roll your eyes at their dumb take and move on. It's weird to read through the posts of somebody who just burned himself to death, he just seems so normal.

Not sure if it's against the rules to link it here but you can find it by googling "Aaron Bushnell reddit account". I assume they'll nuke it soon.

Honestly surprised me that somebody with his interests actually did something in the real world, especially something so grandiosely self-destructive. Big From Software game enthusiast.

Why the hell should it be against the rules? Username is acebush1.

I think you’re understating how radical this dude was.

Why would anyone expect these kinds of stunts work at all? I would expect that this only generates sympathy from people that are already on your side.

I've seen this comment about this incident a lot this week. While I agree it's extremely unlikely to achieve anything, and probably the product of a disordered and frustrated mind -- but there is one extraordinarily successful case study here. Mohammed Bouazizi's self-immolation in 2010 directly inspired the revolution in Tunisia, and then Egypt, and subsequently the entire Arab Spring. And within living memory.

I think this is just proving Matty Yglesias' point that a lot of these tactics are a product of cargo cult thinking., based on glamorous past wins.

There's a massive difference between a repressive dictatorship with a deep well of discontentment that needs a spark and a faraway democracy where many people don't care, and many only give a shit in terms of how it plays into their existing (narcissistic) culture war.

Imagine roasting yourself because of a basic category error.

Were those not people already on his side?

I guess the point is that it can be a trigger-point to activate people on your side. I'm just unclear what that's supposed to look like in this case. Were I an Israeli or anyone that has any sway over Israeli politics, I would be fine with Israel's enemies simply lighting themselves on fire.

I wouldn't say this airman's situation is anything like Bouazizi's. But the Tunisian example at least sets an upper bound for what's possible, which is quite a lot. And I would give self-immolation more of a chance of success than, say, standing on highways or throwing paint on the Mona Lisa.

He probably had that Buddhist monk who self-immolated in the 1960s in mind. This picture was in my high school history textbook, and I remember him being portrayed as stunning and brave.

He’s also not the only man to set himself on fire for dubious reasons recently. Some guy did it on SCOTUS’s front steps two years ago to protest climate change. It seems like the sort of thing that could be memed into greater popularity given the right conditions.

Well it was stunning and brave. That seems pretty inarguable.

God would it be nice if people just set themselves on fire instead of shooting up a Church.

I think he was crazy, disillusioned, and drank the complaints in the water.

Why would anyone expect these kinds of stunts work at all?

  1. Understanding pacifism without reference to religion makes it illogical, for fairly obvious reasons. The mahatma didn't tell WWII Jews to throw themselves on the butcher's knives or off of cliffs because it would be effective, he told them to do so because it was divinely ordained that it should be so and would reward them in the next life. It's quite likely that a man who chooses to light himself on fire is not doing so primarily in reference to the effectiveness of doing so on others, but out of a sense that his own virtue will only be satisfied by lighting himself on fire. He didn't do it for the win, he did it for his own soul.

  2. It sure got a lot of attention. I'm sure we could play with the utility numbers and say that the QALYs he lost lighting himself on fire achieved more media attention than twice the QALYs spent on sane protests by masses of people.

How the hell do we have soldiers that are suicidally committed to opposing American allies? Seems bad.

How the hell do we have allies that our soldiers are suicidally committed to opposing? Seems bad.

How the hell do we have allies that our soldiers are suicidally committed to opposing? Seems bad.

This seems much more explicable to me! If I thought our allies were so evil that it was virtuous to self-immolate in opposition to them, I would simply not join the American military. I don't understand the impulse to join the military if you think Israel needs to be opposed at the suicidal extreme.

I'm probably just overthinking it and the guy was simply suicidal though.

Unless he just enlisted I'm not sure your point holds. Sticking here with the view that Israel is Evil:

This time last year, Evil Israel was (at worst) the 90s LAPD from an NWA album with an air force. In Gaza, Evil Israel is (at best) killing civilians every single day. Things have changed significantly.

Evil Israel was (at worst) the 90s LAPD from an NWA album with an air force.

Pretty much all of the most serious anti-zionist claims were exactly the same this time last year.

Claims may have been similar, but they weren't, you know, actively doing it on TikTok every day.

Protip: to get your soldiers referred to as “murdered civilians” in the press, simply don’t have uniforms.

Israel is definitely killing civilians in Gaza. There's no evidence that they're killing more civilians than can be expected given the whole "ground invasion of a densely populated area" thing, but "none of the dead civilians has actually been civilians" is as delusional as "Israel is committing a genocide".

If you really think there's a day that goes by without Israel killing a civilian, I've got a bridge to sell you.

You can claim they're doing their very very best to avoid killing civilians, and that they're killing more militants than they are civilians, they still are very much killing civilians.

I have no doubt they’re killing civilians. What I dispute is that they’re murderists, a charge all too frequently leveled at Israel, and/or Jews generally, and always a subtle undercurrent when their self-defense actions happen due to circumstances they didn’t want and tried to avoid. They’re pulling the “kill one” trolley lever as fast as they can yank it, but the trolleys keep coming.

Also, enlist children so the enemy isn't merely killing civilians but children.

One can also play the "racists denying brown people their childhood" card when someone suggests that a 17-year-old freedom fighter is a noncentral example of a "child".

I'm guessing he read about the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves to protest Ngo Dinh Diem's regime and, maybe was depressed/suicidal already and decided that as long as he was putting an end to himself he might as well do it in a way that makes some kind of impact.

  1. Self-immolation draws attention. It's like tossing soup on a painting that's protected by glass. It doesn't do anything by itself, but it draws attention to the issue. It may also inspire comrades to action that does actually have impacts, like voting.

  2. We have soldiers who'd do that because the military is a very large place with lots of people. It's against the rules for soldiers to make political statements, especially ones that dramatic in uniform, but when you're the single largest employer in the USA, some of your employees will be mentally ill and break the rules.

Any of you guys own things purely because they are conversation starters (with rich people)? I thought expensive watches, designer clothes and supercars were the only ones.

Surprisingly, my friend owns a few JDM cars (worth 10-20k USD, nothing crazy) and is getting stopped all over town and appearing in Youtube videos with 1M+ subscriber youtubers. That seems like exceptional value for money. I'm on the edge of buying one myself. The people met along the way are probably worth more than 10-20k USD. This might be unique to my home city of Dubai though. I don't think common classic JDM's are the minor status symbol of the day in the US, any Tom, Dick and Harry can own one, and the upper classes have more "refined" tastes.

Among upper class people (including the nouveau-riche with a bare minimum of socialisation to upper class norms), anything that can be bought in a store is not an effective conversation starter. Admittedly Dubai is a magnet for rich people with no pretensions to class.

anything that can be bought in a store is not an effective conversation starter.

Well, it can be, if it’s something like “I just bought a very odd tasting jam from Daylesford last week”.

Being young + getting botox, boob job and some minor plastic surgery seems to be the way people do that here. Car is less invasive though.

You don’t need a ‘conversation starter’ to hang out with rich people. This is something I find very interesting. People assume it’s a rarified world, but in reality most rich people (not Musk-tier, although you can ‘associate’ with billionaires if you’re merely upper middle class and put a decent amount of effort into NYC/London/etc social climbing) are just happy to have someone to talk to, and showing up to not-particularly-cool-or-popular gallery openings, arts and culture events, wherever models and rich kids are partying and drinking now in said major city or bottle service clubs or, if you have a little more money, places like Aspen and St Barths at the appropriate time of year as @FiveHourMarathon said about ski bums is all sufficient.

What people don’t seem to understand is that you can be casual buddies with multiple bona fide billionaires and it will (most likely) make absolutely zero difference to your own socioeconomic status. I call this the “handshake meme”. A certain kind of popular fiction (Hollywood but also ‘hustle’ / influencer culture) suggests that the key ingredient in success is ‘who you know’, which is banal but sometimes true. But the same message is often extrapolated as suggesting that all you need to do is personally make casual acquaintances with wealthy and powerful people and this will somehow lead to wealth and power.

There are these ‘handshake guys’ everywhere now. You’ll be at a bar or a conference or something and there he is, some random hustle bro, coming up to shake the hand of the CEO or whoever you’re talking to, introducing himself, making some small talk, plugging his startup or whatever bullshit he’s doing. And it doesn’t work. They might like you, they might even go out drinking with you, but they are not going to give you a job or a few million or whatever else, unless it’s Peter Thiel maybe (and even then, plenty of his DR associates are still poor and unemployable, and maybe he’ll ask for a favor too).

Being friends with the super rich, unless you’re their childhood best friend or best bro from college, or you already run a successful grift (in, say, a specific type of government contracting) and know exactly what you want from them and know it’s plausible enough to sell them on, very rarely leads to wealth itself. You could have a half dozen billionaires in your Rolodex [on Linkedin] who see you as a great guy to go drinking with in Vegas and the second you ask one of them for a couple mil for your new startup idea or a nice job at their family business they’re gonna ghost. Tons of normal PMC journalists, academics, bankers, lawyers, accountants and so on who went to elite private schools are on first name terms with a substantial number of super rich people and yet derive no financial benefit from those relationships (often not for lack of desire to…). And these are by and large people who did graduate from prestigious colleges, mix in the right circles and have ‘good’ jobs!

If being friendly with the rich was sufficient to become rich oneself, Miami and Ibiza club promoters would all be billionaires. Social climbing is best and traditionally approached after a fortune is made, not before. Doing it before turns you into a grifter, and behind the glamour, the vast, vast majority of grifters fail.

Well I might be grade A delusional here but my justification for wanting to add more rich people to my collection is.. unlike those hustle bros and club promoters, I'm actually smart.

I'm employed because I knew my CEO from a hobby and called him up begging for a job. So it's been useful at the start of my career.

Maybe I won't make millions through networking alone, but I do believe in my heart it can get me far as a wage slave.

That's the disconnect. 2rafa is looking at it as a rich kid knowing it won't make you rich to know rich people. They won't get you to the top. But if you're just an average wagie, rich friends get you a long way up.

My brother just received a 30k € interest-free loan from his rich friend for one of his job projects and he didn't even ask, the guy just wanted to help a friend in difficulty. It may seem cold and utilitarian but I must say that, anecdotally, having rich friends that actually care about you can be life changing.

Purely? ...No. I'm skeptical that even your friend does. Anything acquired solely for its utility as a conversation starter underperforms, both as a conversation starter and in terms of opportunity cost. If you acquire things by virtue of special interest, they're going to provide more utility and you'll have more to say about them.

Conversation starters are useful, but I get plenty of mileage out of the fact that I rebuilt my glasses with K'nex the last time they broke. It just happens naturally. It does depend on which sorts of conversation you want to start of course. My interests are in engineering and building a less centralized society. If someone were taking interest in my car I would be doing my best to shut down and escape the conversation as quickly as possible- unless perhaps they're a mechanic going off about vehicle repair.

The dynamic you're seeing is a guy with more money than taste hanging out with a guy with more taste than money, to balance the books. The guy with a Ferrari or an AMG likes cars, and wants his cool car to say cool things about him, but everyone (including the man himself) kinda knows that he just bought an expensive car than any cheugy rich guy could buy. The guy who rices out his old WRX is the opposite: he clearly genuinely loves cars, knows something about them, not everyone can get that with money. They bask in each other's reflected glow: the ricer seems cooler when it gets approval from the Ferrari, the Ferrari seems less cheugy when it's understood in the same way as the ricer.

You see similar dynamics in the way PE guys traveling to Aspen will love ski bums, rich gumbies at the climbing gym love the setters who live out of their old Chevy Suburban, subscribers with a box at the Symphony Hall love a starving young artist, watch guys with a drawer full of Rolexes love the guy who collects cheap vintage Tissots and Vostoks. Hell, my fantasy if I ever really achieve my goals in finance is to take one of our rental units and have an Artist in Residence grant. That kind of thing has been around for decades, from an Austrian Nobleman Commissioning a Symphony in C to the ornamental hermit. It's about using another person, who has cache and taste, to make the things you buy with your money seem like more than just representations of your money, they become representations of your taste.

I've definitely seen this dynamic with watches. Guys with $15k Rolexes love to talk about my vintage Seamaster I bought for $50, or my indie brand watches. Which can be worth something in the corporate world I suppose. In general, seek to "participate" in rich people hobbies at a cheaper price point.

vintage Seamaster I bought for $50

WTF, how? Amazing find.

This was over a decade ago at this point, when those watches were less popular, and I got it second hand locally. It's also not in A+ condition.

If I wanted to hobnob with the rich, I'd either start paying dues at the local country club, or I'd enroll my children in their school districts.

What sports cars are you getting for $10-20k? Even a civic is more expensive than that now.

As conversation starters, I suggest jewelry and art. Art beautifies my home and reminds me of all the places I've been. (For anyone having a date over for drinks, talking about your art is an easy way to "win".)

But art wont get you stopped on the street. Jewelry will do that, and for men that primarily means watches. You cna spent $40k on a rolex, or whatever, and everyone will know what they're looking at. There are about a dozen brands below Rolex that the regular person won't know, but people in the know, know. (Many of them are actually better.) But once you go low enough, nobody cares. Most of the watch market is designed to look like a top brand without costing money -- you can buy a cheap "nice" watch for $40.

If it were me, I'd buy a Shinola, which has a very distinctive Detroit look, and is the closest we have to "Made In America". You can get one for a few hundred bucks, and nobody will turn their noses up at it. If money weren't a concern, I would get a MeisterSinger. And if money were really no object, I'd just get a Rolex, because nobody cares if a Patek Phillippe or Cartier is "better".

Clothing is probably the traditional answer for spending your money, but almost nobody is going to ask you about designer or expensive clothes. People only care if you dress well, which is a skill unto itself, and not quite a problem that can be solved by throwing money st it. (Though it helps!)

I can't give away the exact car name because that specific car has enough of a social media following to dox me (yes, the car itself), but it's nothing special. The fact it's nothing special and has a following is what's perplexing me. I literally was there when he bought the car, it's cheap. Anyone can buy the car. All of us, including him are majorly confused at this. There are 4-5 people taking pics on an average drive and people with millions of social media followers enquiring about it.

Shinola is an odd name for a watch company; before the stores opened I only knew it from the saying "doesn't know shit from Shinola" which refers to a brand of shoe polish that was discontinued around 1960.

The name "Shinola" was actually used by an earlier company, from whence the phrase "shit from shinola". The current Shinola in Detroit deliberately picked that name to acquire some of the gloss for marketing high-end manufacturing. It's part of a broader idea about restoring the glory of Detroit. Their watches are quite nice, stylistically, although they don't have the finer mechanics that watch afficianados care about. But they look nice, which is what most people care about. Technically, these watches are not "Made in America" as they source many components from abroad. But it's the closest America currently really has, and Shinola supposedly aims to eventually make everything in-house.

You cna spent $40k on a rolex, or whatever, and everyone will know what they're looking at. There are about a dozen brands below Rolex that the regular person won't know, but people in the know, know.

Not only that, but the watch nerds often have a pretty low opinion of Rolex as a choice, precisely because it's so strongly associated with people that have more money than taste. If you're going to spend $40K, A. Lange & Söhne carries more cultural cache with people that like watches. The only reason to select the Rolex is to make sure that people that don't care about watches know you spent a lot.

Running updates:

I've been running for 30-45 or so minutes after lifting for the last couple of weeks. At a speed of around 7.5 km/h It's great.

Running has this crazy property where you can keep on going even if your legs totally give in. This is super unusual to me. Once your muscles give in during lifting, the weights aren't moving. But you can make it through 1,2,10 waves of pain while running, there's a much bigger "mindset" component to it. I thought it was going to be like cycling, which is more like lifting than running imo.

I mean what can I say, nothing like pretending to be a hamster after a long day.

Isn't 7.5 kph more like jogging? The treadmill I used at the gym counted everything up to 7.2 kph as walking (it wouldn't scream at you if you held the heart rate handles, when it entered into the cooldown phase it would set the speed to min(speed/2, 7.2)).

Yes, but I don't even know where the threshold is. I think terminology wise, anything that isn't sprinting or walking is running ?

I’m thinking of learning to golf. I can borrow clubs, but not from someone who actually knows golf. What should I know to learn to actually play?

What should I know to learn to actually play?

To start, get private lessons to work on your grip and swing for putting, chipping, using irons, and driving.

Jack Nicklaus's Golf My Way instructional video is informative. Look up beginner videos on rules, etiquette, tips, and strategy.

Stick to the driving range until you feel comfortable. Alignment sticks are useful. I'd seek out videos of proper usage. Some folks use Dr. Scholl's Odor X Spray on the club face to see where the ball connects during your golf swing.

Good luck and have fun.

Rick Shiels will tell you all about it, in an enjoyable Mancunian accent.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKnkfgDBi62mkWMNmNipPUUep6vcj8nYm

Unfortunately, golf can only be learned from your dad. If your old man croaked or became physically incapable before passing on the skill, you're SOL.

Honestly, head to the driving range once or twice, then grab a friend and just go play. While golf has a very high skill ceiling and is notorious for expensive equipment, a handful of cheap loaner clubs and 15 minutes of youtube videos showing you basic driving form is more than enough to get started. You'll be terrible, but it takes surprisingly little practice to be able to knock a ball around your typical communtiy 3-par course while almost looking like you knoe what you're doing.

Don't bother keeping score, and if you find yourself getting stressed because you're holding other players up, feel free to pull off to the side and let them go ahead of you. This might not work for you if you're super competitive, but for me, golfing occupies the same space as fishing: an excuse to go hang out outside and drink beer with friends on a Sunday morning.

After a couple of months, if you're still into it, book a couple lessons and buy some cheap clubs so you can start getting good.

I'd argue that it's a good idea to go to the driving range a fair bit before playing a round. Having the ball not go where you want isn't very fun, especially when you're making a friend wait for you.

Going to a driving range with a friend is pretty fun as well, so it isn't too bad.

Better choice than trying to get it perfect before you even start.

So, what are you reading?

I'm still on McGilchrist. Picking up The Count of Monte Cristo again, from Dantes' escape.

Finally finished Moby-Dick, which I've been meaning to read since I was 15 or 16, and started reading mid-December. The ending was actually pretty cool, but my God did it take a long time to get there. The actual plot is a pretty engaging slice of proto-Lovecraft cosmic horror, but I must confess that I would love to see a condensed version of the novel which cuts out the pages and pages of cetological rambling. I sincerely think it would lose nothing in the process (especially given that many of the factual assertions made in these chapters are now known to be false).

After finally defeating my white whale, I cleansed my palate by reading another story from my Ted Chiang collection. This one was called "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom" (great title) and envisions a future in which you can communicate with "paraselves" - versions of yourself in a parallel universe in which a quantum coin flip landed heads rather than tails. Cracking story - not just thought-provoking in a speculative sense, but also engaging at the level of plot and character. The concept of multiple slightly different versions of the same person interacting with one another echoed some of the points in Age of Em.

My girlfriend and I play this game where we go into a bookshop together and each buys the other a book that they think the other would enjoy. Sort of as a joke, she bought me this Japanese YA novella called Idol, Burning. I'm about fifty pages in and I'm not exactly sure where it's going yet, it's about this teenage girl who's an obsessive stan of a J-pop idol (her "oshi"). UPDATE: didn't like it, didn't do anything for me.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. This is the perfect novel to reread. Short, not an ounce of fat, and I have a different interpretation every time. Haunting of Hill House casts a longer shadow culturally, but horror stories where the supernatural embodies secret trauma have been done to death since — heck, even in video game writing.

Castle's story of already isolated, broken people drawing into greater isolation and delusion when on the brink of opening up is really special. I've seen the novel described as a class commentary or a reflection on mental illness, but I think the act of stating an interpretation reduces it. Also, boy could Jackson spin a sentence together.

I read both of those novels, Jackson does not miss.

A Season in Time by Todd Denault, the story of the 1992–93 NHL season. It's pretty much an object lesson on why Americans can't stand Canadian sportswriters. It starts off with a preface where the author boldly proclaims that this was the greatest season in NHL history, and also lets it drop that this happened to be his senior year of high school and that he stopped following hockey as closely when he got to college. Okay, so there's some emotional attachment to the subject selection, but that's not too big a deal. That season did have a number of compelling storylines—Gretzky coming back from injury to make his only cup finals appearance with the Kings, Mario Lemieux's battle with cancer that saw him miss a month of the season and still win the scoring race, Teemu Selanne absolutely destroying Mike Bossy's rookie goal scoring record, the inaugural seasons of the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, and several others. It also happened to be the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup.

Unfortunately, if you knew nothing about the season when you started reading this you'd incorrectly assume that this team was the Toronto Maple Leafs, because Denault spends the first five chapters talking about them. They were a storied franchise in hockey's most important city that had been god awful for over a decade, and in 1993 they put together an unlikely playoff run. But they got eliminated in the Conference finals. Denault can't even talk about other teams without bringing the Leafs into the discussion; the Pittsburgh Penguins were an absolute juggernaut that year and were expected to cruise to a third straight championship before getting upset in the second round of the playoffs. That and Lemieux's story make the PEnguins a compelling team to talk about this season. But we have to hear about them in terms of how this was the team the Maple Leafs aspired to be, blah, blah, blah. We have an entire chapter about GM Cliff Fletcher's time with Calgary in the '80s. We have a chapter about coach Pat Burns's career as a police officer before entering coaching. If he wanted to write a book about the 92–93 Leafs, why not just do it?

The book is about as extensively researched as one can expect it to be, provided you don't expect the author to leave Toronto. When discussing media reaction to the events of the season, the quotes are almost exclusively from Toronto newspapers or The Hockey News. There's something disconcerting about discussing media reaction without bothering to see what people in the cities where the teams actually played were saying. After all, these are the guys who are covering one team full-time all season. He discusses the calls on Hockey Night in Canada Broadcasts as though they were the definitive icons of the game, even if the game involved two American teams. It's almost as if he lives in a solipsistic dreamland where the only real team is the Toronto Maple Leafs and all other teams exists solely to give them competition; they don't have their own struggles or fanbases or media. It's like they're all the Washington Generals going up against the Harlem Globetrotters, except the Globetrotters suck.

I could forgive all that, though, if the book were at least engaging. And it is, provided the author is giving background information and speaking in broad strokes. Unfortunately, most of the book is descriptions of games that mean little if you aren't actually watching them. It suffers from the same problem as war histories that try to provide overly detailed descriptions of actual battles. It doesn't matter how good the prose is if you don't have a lighted map to show you the troop movements. This isn't too much of a problem until we get to the playoffs, at which point it's nothing but this, over and over again. Even the interstitial bits between games aren't compelling since all he does is quote players and coaches giving meaningless quotes to the media like "We need to play better" after a loss. I get that there's not much to go with here, but Denault doesn't give his audience any credit and quotes this stuff as if it were genuinely insightful.

I've certainly read much worse things, but I'm pissed off that the book started off engaging enough but slowed to a crawl when the playoffs just became game after game after game. So I'm waaay too far into this to stop reading (over 300 pages) but I've still got a hundred to go and I can only read it in short sittings. It's frustrating. I hope Canadian teams lose and lose early for every year here on out because the Canadian media deserves it. I'd like to talk about how Canadian hockey fans suck and most Americans parrot the same bullshit because they assume the Canadians know better, but that's a rant for another day.

He discusses the calls on Hockey Night in Canada Broadcasts as though they were the definitive icons of the game, even if the game involved two American teams.

They were though. Don Cherry is a legend and the announcers were an order of magnitude better than any of the American ones who knew (and still to this day know) absolutely nothing about hockey. Like, lacking basic terminology about the game and substituting generic folksy expressions for their ignorant viewers. Then there was the FoxTrax glow puck debacle, because American sports fans were apparently incapable of keeping up with a game that wasn't 75% advertisements and breaks in play a la NFL/MLB.

Anyways, then Hockey Night in Canada they sold the trademark music to RDS and Don Cherry's dementia progressed to a point where Ron Mclean couldn't drag him through the weekly programs. RIP.

I hope Canadian teams lose and lose early for every year here on out because the Canadian media deserves it. I'd like to talk about how Canadian hockey fans suck and most Americans parrot the same bullshit because they assume the Canadians know better, but that's a rant for another day.

This is the year. McJesus is bringing Lord Stanley's cup home.

But yeah, fuck the Leafs.

Don Cherry's dementia progressed to a point where Ron Mclean couldn't drag him through the weekly programs.

Wat? In my timeline he was coherent enough to complain onair about 'you people' who won't wear a poppy on Remembrance day, resulting in rapid cancellation due to 'anti-immigrant dogwhistling'. I think he did a podcast or something for a while?

But yeah, fuck the Leafs.

Naturally -- I can agree that I don't want to read a book about the '93 Leafs; maybe I will go reread "The Game" instead, I think it's still in the basement.

Wat? In my timeline he was coherent enough to complain onair about 'you people' who won't wear a poppy on Remembrance day, resulting in rapid cancellation due to 'anti-immigrant dogwhistling'.

I don't know man. Things were pretty grim there at the end (the whole channel recommends itself). But man, was it great television.

You're going to have to cite your sources if you want to make blanket statements about American announcers being terrible, especially when Hockey Night in Canada featured the grating Jim Hughson for so many years. The series from the book I was particularly irritated about was the Pens-Isles series from that year. For the Pens you had Mike Lange, possibly the greatest hockey play-by-play man of all time (though I'm admittedly biased), who had a flow that was simply unparalleled. For the Isles you had Jiggs McDonald, who isn't my personal favorite but who you can't argue against personally since he, um, did games for HNIC. And for the national broadcast, such as it existed at the time, you had Gary Thorne, who also had a flow the Canadian guys just can't seem to match and had plenty of his own iconic calls as well, especially on ABC in the early 2000s. The larger point is that nobody who actually cared about the Pens or the Isles was watching the HNIC broadcast, except possibly Ray Ferraro's parents. I want my sports books to capture the emotion of being an actual fan, not the disinterest of someone watching what is essentially an out of market broadcast.

As for Fox and the glowing pucks, I wasn't a fan of them either, but it wasn't because they thought Americans were incapable of keeping up with the game. When Fox started getting major league sports packages in the mid 90s they experimented with a number of broadcasting ideas, some of which fared better than others. They were also the first network that thought fans of any sport were apparently incapable of keeping track of what the score was; now it's unthinkable that this information wouldn't be displayed on screen, along with the time and time left in the penalty and other information we used to just have to guess at. In this respect the NFL is actually worse, since they keep adding more shit on the screen every year, starting with the first down line and going from there. Glow pucks were an early attempt at doing the same thing that wasn't as well-received. There was also NBC's idea to show a football game with just a stadium announcer that everyone hated, and Fox's disastrous decision to put Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw together as two color guys. The idea was to see what it would be like to casually watch a game with two guys who knew a lot about football, but it didn't work out. These days, though, you have stuff like the Manning brothers broadcast and the Ryan Whitney broadcast so I guess the idea was just too far ahead of its time.

Edmonton won't win a cup in the foreseeable future because they haven't figured out that you can't put your superstars on the same line. Especially when one of them is a center. There's a reason the Pens won three cups — when you have Sid on line 1 and Geno on line 2, it doesn't matter if you're feeding the puck to Chris Kunitz or Ruslan Fedotenko or fucking Max Talbot. But no, they load up their first line with superstars and as soon as you run into a team with a first defensive pairing that can shut them down in the playoffs you're in trouble. And even if you can't shut them down, they can only play 20 minutes a game. Then they've got Nugent-Hopkins on line 2 who's fine by himself but by God why do you put him on your first PP too? To intentionally cut the PP scoring in half? The rest of the team is scrubs and has-beens. Defense and goaltending are decent but not stellar. They might make the conference final, but overreliance on offensive firepower killed many a team. This is why the Penguins traded John Cullen in '91 and Mark Recchi in '92.

You're going to have to cite your sources if you want to make blanket statements about American announcers being terrible, especially when Hockey Night in Canada featured the grating Jim Hughson for so many years.

Source: Me, after living and breathing hockey for a decade and a half growing up and then moving to America as an adult. Maybe things are different in Pittsburgh, but watching games for the local team in one of the smaller hockey markets (i.e. outside the original 6 and the midwest) was excruciating. Announcers were explaining relatively basic rules, clearly had no grasp on the strategy, positioning or how the game is played and just shoutcasted goals.

Even in Boston, if you go to a Bruins game the presumably CTE-riddled fanbase seems to operate on two principles: if a Bruins player has the puck, yell SHOOT THE PUCK at the top of your lungs. If the other team has the puck, yell HIT HIM. If the Bruins lost, it's probably because they didn't shoot the puck enough.

I grant that things may have been better in Pittsburgh.

As for Fox and the glowing pucks, I wasn't a fan of them either, but it wasn't because they thought Americans were incapable of keeping up with the game.

I mean, maybe I just fell for the Canadian 'hurr durr America dumb' propaganda, but it sure seems a lot of people talked about it that way:

In 1994, Fox won a contract to broadcast NHL games in the United States. David Hill, the head of Fox Sports at the time, believed that if viewers could easily follow the puck, the game would seem less confusing to newcomers, and hence become more appealing to a broader audience...The FoxTrax system was widely criticized by hockey fans, who felt that the graphics were distracting and meant to make the broadcasts cater towards casual viewers; sportswriter Greg Wyshynski stated that FoxTrax was "cheesy enough that it looked like hockey by way of a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers production budget",[5] and considered it "a sad commentary on what outsiders thought of both hockey and American hockey fans". Acknowledging that Canadian-born journalist Peter Jennings (who was interviewed as a guest during the 1996 All-Star Game that introduced the technology) stated on-air that Canadians would "probably hate it", Wyshynski suggested that FoxTrax was an admission that American viewers were "too hockey-stupid to follow the play" or "need to be distracted by shiny new toys in order to watch the sport."[2]

Edmonton won't win a cup in the foreseeable future because they haven't figured out that you can't put your superstars on the same line. Especially when one of them is a center.

I watch far from every Edmonton game, but I'm pretty sure they've experimented with splitting up Draisaitl and McDavid a few years back and I don't think it went well for them. At that point, you can trade Draisaitl for some depth I guess - but man would it take some massive balls to try and explain why you traded one of the top scorers in the league and one half of the most productive duo in the NHL for some solid second-line players.

Kane and Nugent-Hopkins should be able to match Geno on paper. But maybe I'm too deep in the hopium. Perhaps McJesus was the false prophet all along and Brock Boeser will bring Lord Stanley's cup back to the motherland.

There's a reason the Pens won three cups — when you have Sid on line 1 and Geno on line 2, it doesn't matter if you're feeding the puck to Chris Kunitz or Ruslan Fedotenko or fucking Max Talbot.

The Pens won three cups because they had a hell of a lot more than Crosby and Geno. Letang and Fleury were pretty damn good too, and Kessel was on an eldritch hot-dog fueled rampage just to spite the Leafs (which I fully approve of).

The rest of the team is scrubs and has-beens. Defense and goaltending are decent but not stellar. They might make the conference final, but overreliance on offensive firepower killed many a team. This is why the Penguins traded John Cullen in '91 and Mark Recchi in '92.

Dude, their defense and goaltending are ass. They averaged over 3 goals against this season with a franchise record winning streak. But they're also fucked by cap space; how are they going to improve their back end without trading their stars? See comment above about massive balls required to trade some of the best scorers in the league.

All that said, I'm just a meathead who played a lot of hockey growing up and beer leagues as an adult. I have no idea what makes a good NHL team, but thankfully, that seems to be fairly universally true. See the Golden Knights for the entirety of their existence, somehow this year's Canucks.

somehow this year's Canucks.

I know about 'fool me once' and 'fool me twice' -- who should be ashamed over 'fool me four times'?

Your recollections of the comet-puck and American announcers do match mine -- to this day there are radio play-by-plays of hockey games in Canada, I wonder if this leads to a better talent pool?

Also Cherry still seems to be putting out podcasts:

https://doncherrysgrapevine.podbean.com/

Not something I would normally listen to, but maybe I'll give one a try to see how demented he is! As far as I can remember he pretty much always talked like he does in your clips -- maybe it's a sort of Trumpy thing where you need to be on his wavelength?

Not something I would normally listen to, but maybe I'll give one a try to see how demented he is! As far as I can remember he pretty much always talked like he does in your clips -- maybe it's a sort of Trumpy thing where you need to be on his wavelength?

It's true, I played one for a minute and he didn't sound half bad.

My record of listening to Cherry is pretty sporadic. He seemed much more coherent in some of his older legendary rants I've listened to, but I definitely wasn't a tune-in-every-week kind of guy.

Huh, are you one of those rootless millenial types? Just that in my formative years, you were tuning in to Cherry every Saturday night whether you liked it or not. Something something neuroplasticity, foreign languages.

Huh, are you one of those rootless millenial types?

Not entirely sure what you mean by this, but my family and childhood social groups slowly scattered over the last decade or two as Quebec continues to hemorrhage anglos. I had to move a couple of times for grad school, but I have a family/house and I've been in the same city for the past five years or so.

Oddly enough I don't think anyone I knew growing up would watch Don Cherry or even hockey games that regularly. But then, I was also the only kid in the advanced class that played a sport, and I was never that close with any of my hockey teammates so could just be a function of my social circle.

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I'm still on War and Peace. I'm loving it so much this time around.

I'm loving it so much

Why?

The sheer subtle depth of the book is astounding. The philosophy of Tolstoy is deep and really beautifully played out through the novel. The book is four novels running at the same time. I'm seeing so much more of the depth of it in my 30s, with the knowledge to see the intricacies of how ethnicity is being formed, in many ways the novel is about the formation of a Russian nation in real time. I'm more attuned to the invisible, but intended interactions of class. The philosophy may also appeal to me more today than it once did, though it's always been an understanding.

It's also how I'm reading it. I'm taking margin notes and highlighting constantly, leaving all my thoughts, before I send it over to a close friend, who is going to read it and discuss it with me. It's like she's over my shoulder the whole time, and encourages me to really engage with the material.

Hm. It's been a while for me. Maybe I should re-read, too.

I started reading Purple Days, a Game of Thrones fanfiction about Joffrey going through a timeloop that restarts at the beginning of the books every time he dies. I've seen it recommended a lot in various fanfic/GoT communities I've participated in but so far I really don't see the hype. In canon, Joffrey is a sociopath that, while not smart, possesses some low cunning and is capable of deception. He has no remorse in how he treats other and takes pleasure in causing pain. Where as in the fanfic, he's just a total idiot that aggressively lashes out at anyone he's upset with, with no regards to possible consequences. And(GoT spoilers) his journey of moral growth starts with him being told there's something wrong with him by Ned, and later learning he's the product of incest(and therefore the traitors who tried to usurp his throne weren't actually traitors since he was never the rightful king).

I might read more because I do like both GoT and time loop stories, and I have seen so many recommendations for it, but it's quite disappointing so far.

I'm also on book 2 of Dune. I don't really get why Paul can't stop the Jihad in his name that he hates by just telling them to stop.

I'm also on book 2 of Dune. I don't really get why Paul can't stop the Jihad in his name that he hates by just telling them to stop.

It's been a while since I read it, but my recollection is that Paul believes that the Fremen would stop following him if he did that, and continue the jihad anyway. So he attempts to try to channel the Fremen as best he can, in order to lessen the damage they cause.

Seth Klarman's Margin of Safety, and Alexander Lowen's Narcissism.

Is there anything that you can only get from belonging to a religion that you can’t get from secular alternatives?

There are things that you can get from both religion and secular alternatives (such as moral guidance, community, solace). Is there something about religion that makes religion the better place to seek them?

Dunno about "belonging to a religion", but the truths discovered by the Buddha are very liberating.

I know it's an unpopular take here but the older i get the more convinced I've become that you cannot derive healthy morally upstanding behavior from materialism and self-interest (enlightened or otherwise) alone. A strictly "rational" worldview inevitably devolves into either nihilism, hedonism, or psychopathy.

Obligations.

It's impossible to achieve the same degree of community provided by religion without a sense of obligation to the community. Religion is an obligation because of the outside forces believed to require adherence to the principles. Secular alternatives have been speculated many times, they have all floundered on the rocks of the lack of obligation. They fall apart over time, people drift away.

It's very easy to build something that's church without the God bit, it's been tried over and over, it dies. The only examples of enduring community institutions that are cited as being non-religious generally drift so far towards religious and supernatural beliefs that they're closer to religions than not. They substitute the race or the nation or the Proletariat and its eventual triumph for God.

Religion is a universalizing force to provide a community for humans to exist.

You can just not do that. I have friend groups that have nothing to do with religion. We meet based on prior meetings, or tradition if you will.

Cool. Do we have a remindme bot for talking about this again 100 years from now?

One stop shopping for solace in one's current position, moral and political beliefs, community, learning (though the state has basically taken that one in a lot of the world) and all the other good shit mentioned below.

If you are discerning enough or have enough time you can find each of these things on your own and put together a bespoke bundle . But it's a lot of hassle. So some of us buy prebuilt.

Genuine belief is a built in placebo effect whenever you want it, for one thing.

Would I argue that you should belong to a religion(specifically, mine) because it is true? Yes(once I have it written up, I'm lazy). But I don't think you're asking for that. So instead I'll point out that communities founded on logic and reason have proven themselves singularly incapable of providing the same kind of community as religious communities do, and generally worse at providing moral guidance and solace.

You are correct I'm not asking if I should belong to a religion. I was pondering the concept of 'Religion of No Religion' that John Vervaeke talks about

...we need to do something like what religion used to do. We need a comprehensive set of psychotechnologies that are set within communities of practices that allow for the comprehensive transformations of consciousness, cognition, character, and culture in a way that is analogous to religion...

The closest things I’ve found are pop culture fandoms (which often involve fictional religions) and twelve-step recovery groups (which include expecting something with greater power than yourself to do the things you can’t).

The Fourth Step of the twelve is a mature psychotechnology which I personally recommend for anyone interested in altering their subconscious.

And without supernatural belief, you will not be able to do this.

Where exactly would you classify Confucianism in terms of "religion" vs. "not a religion"? I'm thinking both of Confucius's refusal to address supernatural matters, as well as atheist Confucians like Xunzi. Do you see Confucianism as having "worked" only to the extent is was a philosophical adjunct to traditional Chinese "folk religion"?

It seems like some belief in the not-strictly-material is pretty load bearing for Confucianism and Buddhism even if it’s not part of the religious doctrines, whether that’s practicing another religion alongside it or believing in some kind of ancestors and small gods mishmash that’s hard to distinguish from general superstitiousness.

Well, presumably, the religions that promise eternal rewards have a better shot at getting them than by not joining them.

The mindset? There is a sea of difference between honest to God believing that God exists and knowing it's all a meta community building cultural fitness maximizing ritual. The former is what actually enables all the moral guidance, community, solace, etc to be effective.

This is like asking what can you get from watching cooking videos other than eating. Well just about everything about eating.

This is not a small-scale question.

But anyway,

(1) An external motivation to act rightly. In the old internet-atheist days, there was lots of indignation at the perceived attitude of the religious that atheists can’t be good people. That was always a strawman, though. There are lots of good atheists. The question is why there should be. Penn Jilette famously protested that he doesn’t need religious belief to keep him in line, since he already rapes and murders everyone he wants to, it’s just that he never wants to. I admire his purity, and grant that in a society as decadent as ours rape and murder are less tempting than they might once have been. And maybe Penn Jilette has never reflexively blurted out a self-exculpatory fib, or fumed internally about some kid getting the last burger at a barbecue, but it would appear that a lot of people have, and it would be surprising if the rest of humanity had jumped straight to Einsatzgruppen and Congolese rape-battalions without passing through lower levels of immorality.

We can Euthyphro this all day but even setting aside questions of the One True Good, the loss of that external nudge has been disastrous. Law cannot fill the gap- there can be no law against selfishness or contempt, for example.

(2) A prescribed human identity. Religions tell people who they are. Muslim women know exactly what they are supposed to do. Orthodox Jewish men know exactly who they are supposed to be. Suicide bombers know. The vast majority of people are incapable of forming an identity from scratch. Religion offers/offered identities that had many drawbacks and did not adequately serve a lot of people, but they did the job for the vast majority. Among the truly religious, there is no self-expression-by-buying-tattoos, no retail therapy, no do-it-for-the-gram; indeed such narcissistic paroxysm is a sign that someone is on their way out of the religion. Religious people have/create lots of problems for themselves and others, but the defining problem of our age, lack of identity, is the result of the loss of religion. No such broadly effective alternative source of identity has yet appeared.

That seems like a kind of crazy way to look at it. Of course Penn hasn't wanted to do that. Because humans are by nature, compassionate tribal beings. It isn't because he is lucky enough to live in a time that allows him all nice things without killing children. It is because killing children doesn't feel good and serves no purpose. You don't need the pope to tell you that.

Humans are by nature animalistic tribal beings. Actually worse than animalistic, since animals don’t have the same imagination for creative evil that we do. No animal would come up with, “What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” Or if you think that’s unrealistically pessimistic, coming as it does from fiction, here’s a real quote: “Heaven brings forth innumerable things to nurture man. Man has nothing good with which to recompense Heaven. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.”

The only reason people rise above their baser instincts is that they’ve been trained and civilized otherwise (and note that the civilizing process has been a long one, and there’s plenty of evidence that most of its advances can be undone in a short amount of time).

As for Penn’s specific examples, every man has more of a proclivity toward some sins than others. Perhaps he and you are just not naturally wrathful people. Plenty of others are. I’ll say for myself, I do not want to murder anyone right now. I do not want to murder anyone 99.999% of the time. I have, however, been so furious in the past that I have absolutely wanted to murder someone, particularly when I was younger and presumably more testosterone-filled than I am now. I never acted on those feelings, of course, but they were there.

I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’s introduction to the Screwtape Letters, where wrote that all he had to do to come up with the book was spend some time in serious introspection, thinking about all the ways in which his thoughts, temptations, and natural proclivities tended toward evil. If you really think people are kind, compassionate, and fundamentally good by nature, I’d suggest you’re probably just not introspecting hard enough.

C. S. Lewis is a great author. If you are halfway to his level you can think of 1000 evil things that could be done to a person. Being creative and having the capacity to think of evil scenarios has nothing to do with being good or evil at all.

Your outlook is pretty dark considering the trajectory the human race is on towards actual physical transcendence. Maybe I am typical minding it. But people who grow up in happy and healthy environments and that don't have genetic or environmental brain damage are not screaming KILL KILL KILL. Having an intrusive thought you don't act on doesn't make you a murderer in waiting.

There is a mediocre book out there somewhere that I read 20 years ago on a plane, a large part of the plot was a nano/serum that cured all defects and disease and restored body and mind to perfect genetic baseline human health. One of the antagonist's hitmen was a sociopath that was deathly afraid of getting hit with it as it would rob him of his sociopathy by fixing his brain. All problems are physical in the end, if you can fix a damaged brain you will fix the damaged person.