Ran Prieur

"The bigger you build the bonfire, the more darkness is revealed."

- Terence McKenna

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July 30. Christian Rudder's wonderful OkCupid blog is back after a three year absence in which he was writing a book. The new post, We Experiment On Human Beings!, is full of hard data about human shallowness. In the first experiment, OkCupid removed all photos for seven hours:

People responded to first messages 44% more often, conversations went deeper, contact details were exchanged more quickly, in short OkCupid worked better. When the photos were restored at 4PM, 2200 people were in the middle of conversations that had started blind. Those conversations melted away.

In the second experiment, OkCupid allowed users to rate each other separately on looks and personality, but in practice, everyone just judged each other on looks and assumed personality was the same. On the depressing graph, not a single data point is high in one and low in the other. Similarly, profiles with the text temporarily hidden were rated basically the same as with the text visible, meaning that "the text is less than 10% of what people think of you."

In the third experiment, they lied to people about how good a match other people were, and the power of suggestion turned out to be just as strong as actual compatibility in predicting how far people would go with messaging.

New subject: Adam Curtis has a big new post, The rise of the hidden systems that are stopping us changing the world. What's missing is actual evidence that these systems are slowing the pace of change, but it's a nice story, with creepy details about surveillance. And at the end is the incredible story of the daughter of the guy who invented Boolean logic, who wrote a novel that inspired the Russian revolution, and married the guy who the Voynich manuscript is named after.

Another new subject: two reddit comments trashing popular writers. A historian argues in detail how Chapter 3 of Guns, Germs, and Steel is bullshit. And someone who used to know the author of Fifty Shades of Grey argues that Erika Leonard is not a creator, she is a marketer, who copied all the best Twilight fanfic and cashed in through aggressive self-promotion.

July 28. The last Monday of every month is Finger Pointing Day. This month I'm just going to post part of a group email from a reader about finally paying off undergraduate college loans.

I'm sending this partly out of relief, but partly because its the best chance I'll get to rant and reinforce David Graeber's point that there is nothing moral about debt obligations. In a just world, anyone originating a loan would be accepting a risk that the debtor might default, or die, or the real value of the currency-denominated loan might collapse, and would attempt to cover that risk by securing collateral, charging interest, and seeking insurance.

In fact, however, student loans operate in a realm of moral hazard - although banks charge interest and, in some cases, secure collateral, they are backed by the US federal government, both through federal guarantees and interest subsidies, and indirectly through a set of draconian enforcement laws that include garnishing wages, tax returns, and entitlements, including Social Security, as well as rescinding licenses including in some states a driver's license. Under no circumstance are banks left holding the bag.

In fact, student loans aren't even held by the banks that originate them. Sallie Mae resells them on the secondary market as "student loan asset backed securities" - basically the right to collect the income stream from me or other graduates of my generation.

I would feel less bad about this were I to simply be paying highly trained professionals to educate me, but that is not what's been happening. The explosion in tuition (and debt) has coincided with a collapse in pay for educators. Individual professors have not been earning less, but increasingly they have been replaced with near-minimum-wage non-tenure-track adjunct faculty. Tenure-track hiring has dropped off so precipitously that a newly minted PhD has a 1:350 chance of finding a full-time position.

Instead the increase in tuition has gone towards facilities and administrator salaries. Administrator positions have grown at 10x the rate of faculty positions since I graduated high school, and every year the number of administrators making more than one million dollars per year doubles. To put that in perspective, adjuncts are making $5000 per semester per course, and their pay has remained essentially static.

There are people who think, and I am becoming one of them, that student loans are a way of liquifying a previously untapped resource, specifically the future lifetime incomes of people not born lucky enough to have parents who could pay cash for tuition. "The economy" loves an untapped resource, and has been maximizing the rate of return by upping tuition and decreasing eligibility requirements. To a lot of people, this looks like a bubble.

I wanted to end this rant by encouraging everyone to send $20-$100 to Rolling Jubilee or some other debt abolition group. They buy debts on the secondary (collections) market and, instead of collecting them, abolish them entirely. Unfortunately, for reasons I don't understand, RJ has stopped accepting donations.

I'm just curious how this is going to end. My guess is, eventually Americans with unpayable debt will be a political majority, but because they don't understand that the debt was amoral in the first place, they will not be ambitious enough to force a mass cancellation of personal debt, and instead they'll pass some tame laws to protect debtors from starving or going to prison, and to keep debts from being passed on to family members. The deeper problem is the popular American belief that all income is deserved. Can you give me a non-circular definition of "deserve"? In practice, high income is normally just a sleight of hand to turn power into more power.

July 25. Went up to the land today. A few days ago we had a huge windstorm, and two big trees have fallen across the access road, just a few hundred feet from the edge of the property. I'm thinking of leaving them there to keep people out. I'm also thinking, since the land only costs me $250 a year in taxes, I'll hold onto it, still sell my truck, and just only go up there when I have visitors.

Some happy links for the weekend. A month ago there was a great reddit thread, What's a joke so clever I probably won't get it? My favorite: Kurt Gödel walks into a bar and says, because we're inside the joke we have no way of knowing how funny it is.

Also on reddit, two days ago Jeff Bridges did an AMA, one of the nicest ones I've seen. Someone asked for some wisdom and he said this:

Open at your own speed, but open.

Dig what's happening to you.

By "dig" I mean get into it. There are lessons for you there. And when it gets uncomfortable, that's an important time to open and dig.

Here's a short, inspiring article about GoG.com, a company that makes old games work on new machines and is committed to never using digital rights management, and never forcing you to be online to play them. By the way, today a reader asked if I'm ever going to make a page about my favorite games. I don't know, but I can tell you that my favorites on GoG are Heroes of Might and Magic 2 and Lords of the Realm 2, and I have Ascendancy on my wishlist. And I haven't played it in a while, but I continue to be excited about the development of Starsector.

Finally, check out these geometric beehive sculptures:

The artist first builds transparent polyhedrons and cubes with an inner framework of wooden dowels, at the center of which he places the queen. After introducing the rest of the hive, he then rotates the sculpture every seventh day based on the roll of a die.

July 23. Related to Monday's subject, I got this email:

We are Tim and Noah Hussin, documentary filmmakers who are presently developing a television show concept for a major network. The show focuses on 'backcountry philosophers,' and we are looking for potential subjects who live away from the urban and suburban expanse of the United States who offer provocative perspectives on life and whose perspectives are expressed through their daily motions.

I probably won't end up on the show since I live in the city, but they wonder if I know anyone who would be a good subject. If any of you are interested, or know anyone who seems like a good fit, you can email Noah Hussin at his name (first and last names as one word, including both h's) at gmail.

Also here's a trailer for their previous project, a movie coming out next spring called America Recycled, where they ride bikes across the country talking to people living on the fringes of society. The message seems pretty close to what I was thinking ten years ago. Now I think, however you choose to live, you should do it because it's enjoyable on its own terms, because it makes you feel alive, not because you think it's necessary for survival, or because you think you're on the vanguard of a revolution.

On a similar subject, there's a new subreddit post by a guy who was convinced by reading Quinn and Jensen to turn his life away from what he felt like doing, to what he thought he should do. I hope my writing has never had that effect. Probably, worst case, I convinced someone to do something they felt like doing that ended badly. But it occurs to me, if Quinn and Jensen were truly radical, they would never line up with should. Only when an ideology becomes dominant (if not in popular culture then in a subculture) will it have the moral force to stifle excitement.

July 21. The other day on the subreddit, in a thread called Talking down to Ran, a reader said that I don't always practice what I preach. This is an interesting subject, because I've never even tried to practice what I preach. Instead I try to preach what I practice: I figure out how to live through methods that are mostly intuitive and non-verbal, and then I use words to describe it, explain it, or -- a big mistake -- justify it. To justify yourself requires a surrender to dominant value systems: your unfamiliar and unfashionable behavior must be presented as familiar and fashionable, which means presenting it as myth.

One of my college professors used to say that you make more noise blowing into the narrow end of the trumpet, and this holds for both fiction and non-fiction: it's more effective to write about the honest experience of particular people, and allow that to resonate with many readers, than to start with universal ideas and work to particulars. I'm not sure if I ever actually said that society is bad so we should all live outside it, and I certainly never said that living inside the system is immoral, or that living well is about avoiding guilt, because those ideas are repellent to me. But those ideas are part of the popular myth of the counterculture. If you draw the lines a certain way, people will subconsciously fill in other lines that aren't there, unless you specifically prevent it. The popular myth that is closest to your actual lifestyle is your worst enemy, and my mistake was not actively contradicting lifestyle puritanism from the very beginning.

This issue reminds me of two different Ribbonfarm posts. Acting Dead, Trading Up and Leaving the Middle Class explains Bruce Sterling's dead great-grandfather test: that you're wasting your life trying to use fewer resources or do anything that your dead great-grandfather, in the grave, can do better than you. A better post, The Quality of Life, explains the concept of fuck-you money: the most important way that money buys happiness, is to free you from the demands of people who want to pay you to live their way.

For the record, here's what I practice and preach: 1) Make money the easiest way available to you, short of crime. 2) If you radically reduce your spending, you will not have to make as much money, and you might find that the sacrifices of low spending are more meaningful and empowering than the sacrifices of high earning. 3) The most valuable use of money, after basic survival, is to carve out a small space where you can pursue quality of life on your own terms.

July 18. A theoretical phyisicist explains why science is not about certainty. You probably knew that, but he also makes a subtler point: scientific revolutions do not come from changing theories, but "changing something in the conceptual structure we use to grasp reality." His first example is Anaximander discarding the idea that things fall from up to down, and replacing it with the idea that things fall toward the Earth. His second example, not as well explained, is Einstein changing how we think about time. This reinforces something I've believed for a while: when we talk about "paradigm shifts", we are not being nearly ambitious enough.

On a whole other subject, a good psychology article, How we end up marrying the wrong people. It's mostly about our lack of awareness of ourselves and others, and how marriage flipped from 100% practical to 100% passionate and we need to find balance. This is my favorite bit, condensed:

We recreate in adult relationships some of the feelings we knew in childhood. But the love we knew as children may have come entwined with other dynamics: being controlled, feeling humiliated, being abandoned, never communicating. As adults, we may then reject candidates, not because they are wrong, but because they are too well-balanced (too mature, too understanding, too reliable) and this rightness feels unfamiliar and alien. We head instead to candidates whom our unconscious is drawn to, not because they will please us, but because they will frustrate us in familiar ways.

Related, a reddit comment about why people stay in abusive relationships. It's all worth reading, but this is the core of it:

From the victim's point of view they are with a person who loves them so, so much, and wants them to be happy, and wants to be good to them, but they (the victim) are such a bad, useless, stupid, worthless, annoying person that their loving partner can't help but get angry and abuse them.

Wow, that's depressing. I have to end with something happy for the weekend: Camper Van Beethoven - Good Guys and Bad Guys.

July 16. A couple weeks ago Gabriel sent this link to the Clover Food Lab blog. That's the first post six years ago, and if you're interested, it's followed by about a thousand more posts (no joke) about how this guy started a food truck business and built it up into a chain of healthy restaurants. To navigate them one by one, start at that page, find the grey link that says "Puddle of sunlight", then the link that says "Why the name Clover?" and so on.

My thoughts are on a different tangent: How does he have the time and energy to not only do all the blogging, but all the work that the blogging is about? And I know we're nowhere near being able to genetically engineer more people like him, but if it ever becomes possible, won't every parent want to do it for every child? And what will these billions of uber-achievers do with all their energy and drive? Not many of them will do something as benign as starting healthy restaurants. It reminds me of this quote from Masanobu Fukuoka: "The increasing desolation of nature, the exhaustion of resources, the uneasiness and disintegration of the human spirit, all have been brought about by humanity's trying to accomplish something."

July 14. Stray links. On reddit, a game designer comments on the dangers of virtual reality, basically that companies like Facebook will try to hold us in addictive virtual worlds where they drain our money. Farther down the comment thread, someone argues that the real action is not in virtual reality but augmented reality. And someone else points out that immersiveness is not the same as addictiveness. For example, I remember being addicted to the non-immersive Mattel football, and at the other extreme you could have a non-addictive world that seems completely real.

Related? Human props stay in luxury homes but live like ghosts. It took me a while to figure out why this is so interesting: it's like a metaphor for the entire upper middle class universe. People who romanticize the lifestyle of the wealthy, but can't afford it, can hollowly simulate it by hiding all evidence of their aliveness:

All surfaces must be regularly cleaned; weeds eradicated, car oil spots removed. Clothes in closets are to be organized by color, and contestable items - heavily religious books, personal photos - must be removed or neutralized. Every item has a rule, and everything must be exact: the rotation of pillows, the fold of towels, the positioning of toothbrushes. Even the stacks of novels casually left on the bookshelf are placed and angled with pinpoint detail.

One of my favorite themes is how a skilled person using low tech can outperform an unskilled person using high tech. How to Write 225 Words Per Minute With a Pen is about a 19th century writing system called Gregg shorthand.

A seemingly fair overview of the latest Israel-Palestinian conflict, posted by an Israeli on the Arabs subreddit.

This article, Why It's Worth Paying More for Legal Pot, describes the unprecedented detail in the labeling, including the strain name, the genetic background of the strain, where it was grown, how it was grown, when it was harvested, and the percentage of five different cannabinoids. Personally I'm not going to buy any until the outdoor harvest comes in and the price drops. But I can't think of any other product that gives this much information to consumers. One of my utopian visions is that every time you buy food, you can see a live video feed of the farm.

By the way, after a three week break, Saturday night I took nine vaporizer hits of Jack Herer and spent a few hours thinking about hypotrochoids as models for intersecting parallel worlds, something that did not seem nearly as profound the next day. My most valuable insight was that the Main Title Theme from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is damn near Bob Dylan's best song.

July 11. The other day I mentioned that people were writing about me like I was a teenager and they were my dad. It occurs to me that it's my fault, for an honest mistake I made ten years ago. Why does your dad, when you're a teenager, mistrust and second-guess your lifestyle decisions? It's because he has an emotional investment in you living a certain way. If I could go back in time and give myself one piece of writing advice, it would be: "Never write about your lifestyle in a way that makes anyone feel inspired." It's not just that people will get an emotional investment in the way you actually live -- it's even worse: they get invested in a mythologized version of the way you live. For example, Thoreau gets a lot of crap for accepting food and money from his family, but that doesn't contradict anything he wrote or actually stood for -- it just contradicts the unrealistic lifestyle puritanism that modern middle class people project on him.

Anyway, moving on, some culture for the weekend. I know that musical taste is largely subjective, but to the extent that it's objective, my girlfriend has the best musical taste in the world. She's been repeatedly playing this crazy experimental one man band song, which sounds better as you repeatedly play it, and the video is great too: ICHI - Go Gagambo. And my favorite recent discovery, White 4, is a brilliant Arabic-sounding psychedelic jam by a Polish band called Innercity Ensemble. The rest of their stuff is more jazzy but still pretty good.

We've also been watching Twin Peaks on Netflix. I remember when it came out in 1990 it seemed like the best thing ever. All previous continuing-story TV shows were trashy, and in comparison Twin Peaks was high art. Rewatching it now, the characters are more weird than deep, the narrative is clunky, and the sets and costumes are both ugly and too clean.

That's because fictional television has continued to get better and better. We've just watched season one of Orphan Black, and I can hardly believe how good it is. Even the best American TV shows, like Fringe and Grimm, have a lot of one-shot episodes that do little or nothing to advance the continuing story. In Orphan Black, made by the BBC in Canada, there are only ten episodes per season, and every one is top-notch and moves the story significantly forward. Tatiana Maslany gives an almost impossible performance as a bunch of clones who have such different and sharply-defined personalities that you forget they're all played by the same person.

July 9. My favorite blog, The View from Hell, typically has a burst of posts a few times a year. Sunday there was a new post, Why People Used to Have Children, and yesterday a follow-up, Children, Education, and Status. As always, the writing is impeccable, and both posts are full of great stuff about the changing role of children and why it has led to lower birth rates. Basically, education has turned children from slaves who produce resources, into people who consume resources. You should read it all, but here's the conclusion of the second post:

Education, specifically Western education promoting democratic values, interferes with children's work and their parents' expectations for their work. It makes them more dependent on their parents, and makes them less likely to be servile and submissive to parents. And education itself provides an alternate means of achieving adult status other than having children. In the presence of these conditions, the demand for children is apparently low.

Also, the end of the first post has a great bit about the transition from the study, the room in the house that used to be the patriarch's seat of power, to "the lowly and shameful man cave", where the man takes refuge from the woman's otherwise total control. If you're curious about my house, Leigh Ann and I have separate bedrooms where we each do what we want, and in the common areas I have the final say, but I usually defer to her superior aesthetic judgment.

Continuing Monday's subject, there's a thread on the subreddit, titled "Ran's next adventure", in which several readers are talking like I'm a teenager and they're my dad. [July 10 update: there's some good stuff there now.] And big thanks to moderator puck2 for styling the subreddit to match the blog.

July 7. I've been waiting for a slow week to announce this. Ten years ago (and twenty) my goal in life was to have meaningful responsibility: have some land, have a house, build stuff, grow food, learn practical skills. I was lucky that I've been able to do all that. Now, looking forward, my goal is to have zero responsibility.

My dream is to live like Paul Erdos, the mathematician who just traveled around staying with other mathematicians, and in exchange for helping them think about math, they took care of almost all his practical needs. A more realistic goal is to sell almost everything, get a modest apartment in a city with good public transportation, and mostly hang out there but be free to do lots of traveling.

I cannot yet afford that. Right now I'm living in a house that's paid for, and still slowly depleting my savings. And even if I had more income, I'd like to stay here long enough to get some big fruit tree harvests and finish fixing the house up, maybe five more years.

But there's no reason to hold onto my land. I'm not in a hurry to sell it, but I would sell it immediately if I had a good offer or found a good buyer. So I'm mentioning it here first in case one of you is interested. The perfect buyer would be a mature permaculturist or a conservation trust. More likely would be a group of enthusiastic 20-somethings who would learn that homesteading means tedious labor, social isolation, and lots of driving, and then sell it to developers. Except it's too remote to be worth anything to developers, and I wouldn't deny anyone that opportunity for learning. Anything "back to nature" is likely to be a good transitional goal: you're not going to do it your whole life, but by doing it, you get a better sense of what you really want.

Anyway, it's ten acres with a year-round spring, an hour drive from Spokane, 2700 feet elevation, and you can read all about it in the landblog archives from 2004-2011. If you're interested, you can find my email address on the about me page.

July 4. Loose ends and stray links. The other day when I picked on Bangladesh, it was because it's the place most vulnerable to climate change, and it's also poor and densely populated. But a reader who lives there reports that the culture and politics are relatively healthy, and it's becoming steadily more prosperous. If Bangladesh doesn't get a dieoff, maybe no one will.

Cool article on Low Tech Magazine, Well-Tended Fires Outperform Modern Cooking Stoves, including lots of data on different kinds of stoves.

On reddit, kinderdemon defends postmodernism:

Postmodern thought is dismissive of high-minded notions of true beauty and ultimate meaning and such, but it pretty much embraces the trickster, free play, the willingness to survive and outmaneuver the terrible monolithic forces hedging our lives, to be a gadfly and a libertine and a force of and for pleasure.

Modernist absolute truth often came with a demand for heroism or sacrifice, while the postmodern absence of absolute truth comes with an injunction to make your own contingent but consistent meanings. Both are related models for existential validation in an uncaring universe, but one seeks to correct the other by minimizing the coersive and authoritarian elements implicit in its modeling of "truth".

Finally, an email from Chanita who hosted me in NYC on my last tour:

There is this guy in Kentucky who is trying to establish a free permaculture teaching space, Earth Tribe Trust. He says it's like trying to run a hospital where all these patients are pouring in and he's supposed to be helping them, but he's just like this crazy janitor. I think he's being a bit humble and has a lot of hard work and some better than decent permie building skills and experience. But anyway, he's looking to have more people come down and teach whatever they feel like teaching, pretty much.

He's a rainbow -- it seems like the space is quite inclusive and chugging along. They have built themselves a very pretty outdoor kitchen, rocket stoves, earthship in progress, etc. Very open, tendency toward dictatorship negligible. Appreciation of anarchism and cooperation high. Accepting of trans persons without discussion or pause. Anyway, I know he needs some other folks to be there to teach, especially because he will be working on a project abroad for a while in the fall and I thought you might know folks into his model.

July 2. On the subreddit, two responses to Monday's theme of civilization as human zoo. First, HTG464 describes how modern humans are better off than zoo animals, and suggests that adaptation could make large complex society the new normal. I tend to agree, but I think human extinction through superstimuli is also a strong possibility. And I think we still have a long way to go to fully adapt, and to build a society worth adapting to. So the zoo metaphor is not perfect but useful.

In the newer post, itsyaboyaccountt1234 attempts to argue that we will return to forager-hunter tribes, but only provides evidence that civilization as we know it is causing many catastrophes. The rest of the argument is not explicitly stated, but it would have to include a premise like "There are only two possible ways for humans to live, as forager-hunter tribes or as industrial civilization." Which is unlikely and unimaginative. I think we have both the ability and the desire to adapt large complex societies to muddle through the ongoing economic and ecological collapses. There might be a 90% dieoff in Bangladesh, but you will still have to pay taxes.

If we do return to forager-hunter tribes, I think the most likely path is through something like the subject of this 1998 article, The Last American Man. It's about Eustace Conway, who has lived in the woods for most of his life, and is generally awesome. He says everyone can live like him, but he's wrong. He can live that way and you can't, because from the moment he could walk, his parents let him wander the woods unsupervised, and your parents didn't. But if that ever becomes fashionable, even in one region, it could spread globally as we see how well it works. And early wilderness immersion doesn't even force you to live primitively -- it just gives you the option.

June 30. The last Monday of every month is Finger Pointing Day. (If more people were into Enneagram, I would call it 6w5 day.) Good stuff this month. First, on reddit, AlexFromOmaha explains why American health care is so expensive. 1) The battle between hospitals and insurers creates a vast medical billing industry that adds nothing to the value of health care. 2) Executives are way overpaid. 3) There is rampant price gouging, especially in prescription drugs and high tech equipment. 4) Insurance insulates consumers from costs, so there is no incentive to compete on prices. And in the final paragraph, a great rant:

Outside the US, "preventative care" means a nice sit-down with a dietitian and a daily stroll. In the US, this $2500 test can make a disease cost $6000 to treat instead of $150,000! Great deal! So let's get fifteen million people to get this test every year to prevent two thousand cases for a net savings of negative thirty-seven billion dollars.

America's booze laws: Worse than you thought. Basically, large distillers, large wholesalers, and entrenched retailers are shaping the laws so they can keep sucking up all the money instead of allowing newer and smaller businesses to give a better deal to consumers.

Zoos Drive Animals Crazy. All through the article, I keep wondering how much of this also applies to humans: forced to live in an environment radically different from the one we're biologically adapted to, including being socially isolated, physically enclosed, constantly watched, with little opportunity to take exciting risks or make interesting choices. And to live like this without totally flipping out, we use "repetitive behavior that serves no obvious purpose", "distracting toys or puzzles", and pharmaceuticals. I no longer think it's realistic for humans to return to forager-hunter tribes, but we could change our culture and laws to trade some safety for freedom, some quantity of life for quality of life.

And this reddit comment speculates that processed food is causing colorectal cancer because everything is absorbed by our upper intestines, so our lower intestines have nothing to do and sort of die off. I'm sure he's simplifying and exaggerating, but it's a scary story that is already motivating me to eat more salad.

June 27. If you've been following the World Cup, here's a funny video by John Oliver on FIFA corruption. He correctly compares it to the corruption of large organized religions, and I would be more specific and look at Medieval Europe, where everyone knew the church was corrupt for hundreds of years, but they couldn't do anything about it because the church held a monopoly on religion. One difference is that modern nation states are much stronger than FIFA, so maybe they'll eventually step in.

Here's a long reddit comment on why there can never be a drug that makes you feel good with no bad effects: because feeling good artificially, rather than from doing valuable things in the real world, is a bad effect. Of course I don't agree with his conclusion that no drugs should be legal. I think we should be working toward full legalization, but we have to do it gradually because doing it too fast would be catastrophic. Our goal as a species should not be to protect ourselves from temptation, but to learn to face it.

Personally I don't want to try the harder drugs even once. I'm lucky that I don't get any euphoria from alcohol, and it's a challenge to limit my cannabis use to one night every two weeks. When I crave that mental state, I try to generate it internally. My biggest vice is video games, and my latest dark accomplishment is scoring under 200 in minesweeper.

June 25. Loose end from Monday: I didn't even notice that the decline of trust image page links to the source article, The Decline of Trust in the United States. The conclusion is that there's no easy way to reverse the decline, and my best guess is that the USA (and eventually most of the world) will fragment into different cultures, linked by social technology rather than geography, with trust within cultures but not so much between them.

On a new subject, Music Changes the Way You Think. Basically, one pitch gap between notes, the tritone, makes you see the forest, and another pitch gap, the perfect fifth, makes you see the trees.

And completely off the usual subjects, How to Name a Baby is a smart blog post with lots of fascinating stuff about baby names, including a discussion of fad names that define generations, this surprising list of current fad names and the traditional and older fad names that are now less popular, and a strange discovery that Utah is often ahead of other states on new names.

June 23. This blog post, Anti-Tesla sentiment and the death of optimism, laments the cynical reaction to Tesla releasing a bunch of patents, and uses game theory to argue that a society works much better if people trust each other.

When someone like Elon Musk comes along, someone who is clearly is working very hard toward Pareto optimal outcomes (watch or red about his personal history), we simply cannot fathom that his actions can't be explained outside a traditional Nash-equilibrium, dog-eat-dog model of capitalism.

Closely related: 17 images showing The Decline of Trust in the United States.

I don't do an RSS feed, but Patrick has written a script that creates a feed based on the way I format my entries. It's at http://ranprieur.com/feed.php. You might also try Page2RSS.

Posts will stay on this page about a month, and then mostly drop off the edge. A reader has set up an independent archive that saves the page every day or so, and I save my own favorite bits in these archives:

January - May 2005
June - August 2005
September - October 2005
November - December 2005
January - February 2006
March - April 2006
May - July 2006
August - September 2006
October - November 2006
December 2006 - January 2007
February - March 2007
April - May 2007
June - August 2007
September - October 2007
November - December 2007
January - February 2008
March - April 2008
May - June 2008
July - August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November - December 2008
January - February 2009
March - April 2009
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July - August 2009
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December 2009 - January 2010
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June - October 2010
November - December 2010
January - March 2011
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October - November 2011
December 2011 - February 2012
March - April 2012
May - July 2012
August - October 2012
November 2012 - February 2013
March - June 2013
July - December 2013
January - March 2014
April 2014 - ?