Treasure Hunting and Mining

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My first ambition as a young girl was to be an archaeologist. I was very lucky to spend a lot of time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art among the mummies and the temple of Dendur. I abandoned that interest to something equally stimulating but perhaps more lucrative and flexible – computer science.

I am doing a deep dive into Egypt this week, as a way to connect with the things that I enjoyed as a child. Early archaeology was treasure hunting, plunder, it was not necessarily about reconstructing a vanished culture. Treasure hunting did logically connect with detective work.

The idea that I would go and find some buried treasure was never even a thought in my head. Although I now fnd that very exciting. I imagine what it would be like to be with Howard Carter when he first entered Tutankhamun’s tomb, and how exciting that must have been, or to have been someone from the middle ages and coming upon buried treasure. I imagine the search for treasure, analogous to the philosopher’s stone of the alchemist, as inspired many explorations and experiments.

People still treasure hunt. I suppose that is what antique road show is about. There are also treasure hunting forums online as I just discovered. However now I think about mining. Space X is not going to outer space to treasure hunt but to mine.

What is mining? Mining is perhaps as old as treasure hunting. There are 4000 year old flint mines. Mining involves work, it sounds unpleasant, harmful to the miners and the environment. Mining is extractive. Perhaps there is no such thing as treasure. Perhaps treasure hunting is really about circular economies. Perhaps treasure is trash and trash is treasure. Treasure is not extractive in the same way as mining. There is a publicly traded treasure hunting company – odyssey marine exploration. They first started looking for treasure on sunken ships. They have moved into mining. Perhaps Mining is more repeatable than hunting for treasure. The first being calculated risk, the second being more akin to playing the lotto. But really… is that really the case.

There are video games about mining and video games about treasure hunting.

Why am I talking about this? Mining / treasure hunting. Two sides of the same coin. To impulses to action. I think about Goonies, pirates of the caribbean, I think of adventure and intrigue. Mining makes me think of misery. Reading timeloops, there is the idea that when you remember a past prophecy you are creating meaning. Finding treasure works in a similar way. You are some how engaged in history or narrative.

Thats it – back to the egyptians.

The American Book of the Dead

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I have been having a bit of the dark night of the soul. I will tell you the things I have been on my mind:

I have been interacting with a lot of media about the dead. And inside myself I am coming to terms with an unsettledness and an anxiety about my personal history, my ancestry, my cultural heritage… and this anxiety comes from not looking at it. In America there is so much that is dead and it is not at rest. Racial injustice and violence, economic injustice and violence, gender/sexuality injustice and violence… and so forth. This is the dead that has not been honored. How do we honor the dead? Retributive Justice is a way of honoring the dead. That in order to maintain the equilibrium of the cosmos (from greek meaning order), some actions need to be done – i order to honor the dead. The action can be attention, or focus, or it can be punishment. Over the weekend I read Lament of the Dead, a discussion of Jung’s Red Book between James Hillman and Sonu Shamdasani.

Thinking about the penal system in the context of notion of honoring the dead makes us rethink who we should be punishing and what are the historical imbalances that are contributing to the overriding sense of injustice in our society and the industrial-prison complex. Our society is out of balance but the legal system will not fix it. In order to fix it we have to connect with the dead.

What I am thinking about right now:

what is my heart (versus a something that I am inspired by that I deceive myself into thinking it comes from my heart)

the/my ancestors

community (what is it, how it is formed) / education

intention vs expectation

what are my gifts

commitment

Time Loops!

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When something comes across my past three times I pay attention. Granted I even sometimes pay attention when something crosses my path once, but really three times.

The week of woo began with Psychic Literacy by Ingo Swann…. and just reached a denouement with Time Loops by Eric Wargo. I was recommended this book three times. The third time this week, and now I just read it. Although it is woo woo sounding, there is some fascinating science in there… What if the future is the hidden in quantum theory? What if our intuitions are future memories? Do great thinkers and artists have a greater impact on the past than the future?

This book blew my mind on many levels. I always think of de morgan’s law and that conditionals can be reduced to and/or/not. Is time really one way? What is behind organization and sense making. Meaning is what happens when the future and the past collide into a narrative. Why does meaning matter?

If there are time loops it seems like there is no free will. I was walking around the room thinking about this. What is effort if things are just going to happen? Then I looked at my guitar. This week I have been practicing in earnest Dove Son Quei Fieri Occhi?. It is an Italian Renaissance dance originally intended for the lute, but transcribed for classical guitar (my instrument).

This is a beautiful song, please listen. This morning during my hour of personal growth I queued up a bunch of different renditions of this song on Spotify. So many different ways to play this, not only just tempo, volume, and where you play the notes, but how you play the chords.

Say life is like a dance, like Alan Watts says. Life is a timeloop. How do you play that timeloop? How do you dance the dance, how do you play the notes? It feels so good to play the guitar, even if I know the notes written out ahead of time. Does the fact that I am following a score mean that I have no free will? The way I play the notes have a feeling to me, a physical feeling, an emotional feeling. A current note I play has the opportunity to act as a resolution, to give meaning to a past musical structure – this is really true with Bach. Maybe we cannot change the structure of time, the structure of future events, but we can change how it feels and how it sounds. Maybe if we all do this, we will be playing in harmony together.

Even if I have a few missteps I end up at the same place… the A major chord. It’s a happy chord.

Mental Health and Community

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I have written about this before. There is this tension between the transformation of the self and the transformation of society. If everyone was able to live in accordance with their highest self, then the problems of society would disappear. But how can people live in accordance with their highest self when society makes it structurally impossible to achieve this via scarcity of basic resources, oppression, injustice and so forth?

So on the one had we have the self and the psychological makeup of the self, and on the other hand we have society and community. I am reminded of classes that I had to take in college as part of the common core. Many of them had three names: wealth, power, and virtue/ self, culture, and society. There were a few with one name like POWER. But I cannot remember what are the dyads. What is the triad in self and society. To me culture is like the psychological structure of society. We would need a four fold, self, mind, society, culture …. or something. What I am interested in those is sort of ways that the self and the society interact and influence one another – perhaps that is culture.

Anyway, I read an article on the USV blog this week … not sure how I ended up there… and I sent it to my brother who is getting his phd in psychology. Last year we did a mental health game together. The article was about Mental Health 3.0. My take away.. 1.0 would be in person therapy or institutionalization. Something that is very hands on, non-repeatable/idiosyncratic, and unscalable. 2.0 would remote therapy, or group therapy or the unbundling of therapy (meditation apps for example), a market place model (people can find therapists and patients on the amazon of healthcare or something). Something that is scalable, accessible, repeatable, and commodifiable (perhaps zero marginal cost). 3.0 is personalized, adaptive, free, and changes with scale (network effects), a 3.0 company has phase transitions. 3.0 is the flywheel of the devops loop. I would say we need to think 4.0 now but let stay on 3.0 for a moment. I would say 3.0 is the cyborg or post-human.

So my brother said, what do you think this means. I said I dont think it means we are going to have AI therapists. Although perhaps AI is better than a 90% of therapists. This was actually an early computer program called Eliza. Putting that out there. There still needs to be some radical rethinking in the education of everyone including our healthcare professionals and including therapists.

If we think of 3.0 therapy as really web 2.0 user generated therapy then I think there are interesting things to be said about AA, Microsolidarity, Family Constellation Work, The Work, The Game of Gifts (just learned about that one today), there are a bunch. Here the group gets together and does exercises. What is the tech? Maybe the platform, maybe the AI suggests a particular modality based on your work and exercises you do between classes. Psychology is very territorial and not interested in syncretic solutions – so there is that

I am really influenced by Microsolidarity right now. I do feel that a transformative society can arise from a network of care. That when we learn how to care better than we can learn how to act more meaningfully. I am not sure, but lets start with caring. I also love this from the microsolidarity website: “I believe courage is developed when we _en_courage each other.” I also am interested in the way money and care are related. how can we turn emotional care or psychological safety into economic safety.

Also Emotional Anarchism – I like the sound of that.

Anyway my first experience with this sort of care was probably at the recurse center and the weekly feelings check in. I had never experienced it before and I only went once or twice but it is one of the most vivid and impactful memories of my time there.

Also I am watching Untangling the Worldknot of Consciousness #1 with Gregg Henriques – The Cognitive Science Show. I went down a little Gregg Henriques rabbit hole – and the tree of knowledge system. I would love to read this or go through the slides. It is thought provoking… but why is this space filled with scruffy white cis dudes – much love to them but still.

I feel like to solve the meaning crisis if there is a meaning crisis I want other voices.

This week in Meredith’s Browser

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I am loving the light phone. I started building the build your own phone – I forget what that is called -at the recurse center. I am not done yet. I should probably get to that. And I also like the website. There is this tension between minimalism and maximalism. I feel it, you may feel it- did the romans feel it? Who knows. We can probably see the jewish christian split as a tension between maximalism (judiasm and all the rules.. as someone raised jewish this is what it feels like), and then minimalism (christianity and love thy brother as thy self … although there are now a lot of rules in christianity it seems).

I also like the sustainability report of the company that makes the light phone. This is fascinating. As someone that works on a bunch of random projects using servers – I dont take into consideration the energy requirements of said projects only my personal time requirements. I like the related idea of a circular economy report – like … and am somewhat obsessed with ITP’s trash club.

I am listening to a bunch of new podcasts this week all around sense making. How many sense-making communities are there? Quite a bit as it turns out. All these communities and podcasts are run by cis white dudes – and I love them all – but I am actively seeking out other voices.

I’m listening to this about the Enneagram.

I am listening to this which does not have a spotify link:

https://newexplorations.net/

Big take away, we have lost our autonomy (or something) of our mind. This feels true. But we have not lost our bodies (yet -perhaps this will happen with VR or haptic suits or something). So this is perhaps why we have this somatic revolution now. Or perhaps we dont really have a somatic revolution – perhaps I am having a somatic revolution.

I am fascinated by mystical marriages and sexuality and someone in one of my discord chats posted this:

Reading through this I am finally rewarded with a reference to the Sabbatian heresy. For some reason I was fascinated by Sabbatai Zevi since I first heard about him in Hebrew school. At this point all I knew was that he thought he was the messiah and then it turned out he was not and converted to Islam. The story is more complicated and really fascinating in my opinion. One of my many project desires is to make a film about Sabbatai Zevi. But moving on…

Next I have an article on Blake from Aeon – What we can learn from William Blake’s Visionary Imagination

This is actually a great article when you get to the four fold imagination. There are three types of imagination: a single vision, generative vision, emotional vision (or sensitive/relational vision, or ethical vision), , the universal or eternal vision. The article speaks about this much more poetically than I do. BUT this article jailbreaks Blake’s world building for me… If Tolkien uses language to build his world if it is the linguistic turn, then Blake uses these forces as his world’s metaphysics. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

And this from the Aeon article:

I think Virginia Woolf was on to a similar realisation in A Room of One’s Own (1929), when she ponders the genius of William Shakespeare’s mind, how it is ‘resonant and porous’, ‘creative, incandescent and undivided’. That could happen because ‘All desire to protest, to preach, to proclaim an injury, to pay off a score, to make the world the witness of some hardship or grievance was fired out of him and consumed.’

This is sort of my goal. My current path is to completely act from myself from my own conscious desires that come from myself and not society or other people, and from acting completely in alignment with myself to act universally and transcendently.

But visionary creative work inspires me. I had a conversation over the weekend with someone and we discussed “wisdom games” … games that cultivate wisdom. Perhaps we can create a new category … visionary games. There is a relationship between wisdom and the visionary if wisdom is the combination of the effable and ineffable (visionary).

What would visionary games look like?

I have some other things, like this repo from github on animating vector illustrations. I did a deep dive into integrating js with SVG last week and it was rewarding and bloating on the browser.

Thats about it – I now have to take my kids for a COVID test because pandemics will pandemic

My so called midlife crisis

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A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend. He said I should write about my midlife crisis because then we could go on a book tour together and party. I have done things for less noble aims, and really many of my most important decisions in life has been made around parties, what parties I want to go to, what do I want to do when I get to said parties, and who will be at the parties. Similar to the line in Lawerence of Arabia:

Mr. Dryden: Lawrence, only two kinds of creature get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.
T.E. Lawrence: No, Dryden, it’s going to be fun.
Mr. Dryden: It is recognized that you have a funny sense of fun.

I have a particularly definition of fun… it does not align with the majority definition of fun. Most people would not want to go to my parties… and at this stage of my (mid) life crisis. I am really ok with that. I find that as a type of self selection that makes my life easier in determining and and with whom I want to spend my time.

Anyway … I pondered this notion of writing about my midlife crises and the subsequent book tour debauchery. My midlife crisis has gone internal somewhat because of covid, although bubbles up now and again and not terribly narratively exciting ways. But I was not super excited about the idea of writing about my midlife crisis.

At first friends sympathetically assumed that it was because it was too painful. But really it was because it was too boring. I mean I have lived through my midlife crisis. For me it is done. I was saying if I was writing something I want to live in some fantastic world of my imagination or beautiful poetry not in like reinterpreted realism. This to me is boring.

To which my friend said that I should write about my midlife crisis as a fantasy novel. I actually think this is brilliant and hilarious. Granted, probably the readership of fantasy novels (or perhaps sci fi novels) are not interested in reading about this … it is not without precedent. Woman on the Edge of Time by Margie Piercy although not really about a midlife crisis is about a woman in middlish age.

Anyway I love this idea. Rather than a roman a clef fantasy story which seems so common (and also so masculine), what would it look like if a fantasy novel was about someone in a midlife crisis. What if Gandalf turning from grey to white was about individuation. What about Voldemort? Was the mists of avalon about this – I read it so long ago I don’t remember.

Thats it

The Market and The Equation

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I am doing a daily newsletter experiment where each newsletter is a rewrite of a past newsletter.

I use the term rewrite loosely….

Yesterday the rewrite was about economics and I started writing about a distinction that bubbled up in me between the equation and the market.

The equation like F=MA (force = mass * acceleration) is about equality. It is about making sure that the variables on both sides of the equation are equal. This is also about equivalence or mapping. mass * acceleration is equivalent to Force. We can replace one for the other.

The market is about freedom. If we look at the market, like for instance the stock market, we can come up with all sorts of reasons for why a certain stock is valued at a certain price. Perhaps that is the discounted cashflow, perhaps it is in anticipation of growth, perhaps it has some sort of mystique or fetish quality. But at the end of the day a stock price only has value when someone exchanges it at that price. That is why it has that value. There are no equivalences. There is no one to one mapping, there are only a web of interpretations and explanations. What there is is freedom. Actors in the market have the freedom to try buy or sell an item at any price they want, provided they find a willing participant. No one is forcing an actor to buy or sell at a price, the limiting agent is access to capital that powers the buying or selling.

How are Markets and Equations even related – epistemology. They are both ways to know things.

Well if I want to know if I throw a ball where it will land I can use the appropriate equation. If I want to know how much my antique cabinet is worth I can try and sell it in the market. We can broaden the market and call it the arena. An arena is any closed system where agents interact according to rules. The rules of the market are that when a buyer and seller agree on a price ownership changes hands – an exchange happens. If we have an arena like a football game or even a theatrical performance there are other sets of rules that solve other epistemological questions.

Equations we can also think of as goals or targets. My goal may be to act in a certain why that certain qualities are equivalent and I can optimize my actions so that I reduce the error term on my equation.

Agile Sensemaking

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I am giving a talk in a few weeks at it is about sense making and devops.

Sense making is not a new activity but perhaps a new buzz word. Sense making is how we understand the world in order. We can look at this in relation to say Fordist production. The assembly line worker does not have to understand the world. the assembly line worker does to have to understand anything beyond her own task. She does not even have to understand how this fits into the world. The decisions involved in optimizing a Fordist production line have to do with optimization and efficiency. It is an operations research problem. It does not have to make sense of the production line in relation to issues outside the production line, such as sourcing of rare earth elements, pollution caused by finished products, physical issues such as carpal tunnel caused by the products from the assembly line or even physical issues caused by working on the assembly line.

I am going to mention three types of decision making, top down, peer to peer and self-organized (self-soverign). Top down would be traditional hierarchical decision making. These sorts laws remind me of the deontological ethics or value ethics. There is a rule and then people have to follow the rule. Peer to peer decision making, or collective decision making, is sort of what we have in a democracy. However, in its nefarious moments it is like Bentham’s panopticon. These are the laws according to optimization… Mill’s greatest good for the greatest number. Self-soverign is that people make their own decisions that suit them. This is not a law, like Kant’s notion of the Kingdom of ends, where individuals are both subjects and rulers of themselves. For self-organization or self-sovereignty there is no ruling or subjectification – there is only acting with integrity. Every action is the right action. Self-sovereign could also be called agent based decision making. Since each agent is making a decision

How do we become self sovereign? Good Question.

But also what happens if we run processes that used be run according to ideas of hierarchy or peer-to-peer organization shift.

a) What are the benefits

b) What are the organizational shifts

The benefits would be a less fragile system. A hierarchy is fragile, a hierarchy also has a large infrastructure to support it so it is expensive, a hierarchy moves slowly it is not nimble. A peer-to-peer system is more resilient, but it too requires infrastructure, and the peer-to-peer nature does presuppose an architecture, a pipeline that has to be maintained. In an agent or self-organizing, there is no architecture, only the orientation of the agent.

How does this apply to something like a DevOps pipeline or DevOps operations. Well if we imagine the organization of a k8 cluster as either hierarchical or peer-to-peer, what would be an example of self-organizing. What would be an example of a software application that could sense make, as opposed to decision making?

I’ve been thinking about this today in related to this piece by Bonnitta Roy.

What Capital City Are You?

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I have been engaging in a daily newsletter experiment for the last 10 days. I wrote a new newsletter for 7 days and now every day I rewrite the newsletter from 7 days ago. I will probably do this for a month… at least. It is exhausting but it is transformative and becoming less exhausting.

But I still love blogging and I am trying to understand what is the difference between blogging and newslettering. I do enjoy the feedback aspect of the newsletter. Every day I see people read the newsletter, or at least open it, and some people even click on random links.

Today I had my weekly discussion on John V’s the meaning crisis. The facilitator this morning asked what capital city describes your emotional state today.

I loved this question. At first I drew a blank, but then I felt Athens! In my memories it is sun kissed and dry, filled with ruins looking back towards prior greatness, but with confidence in current potential, vitality and beauty. Athens is a city that is filled with meaning. Whatever it is that meaning is… For me it is the triumph of quality over quantity. What does every moment feel like, how is each brick its own singular brick, how is this “ruin” beautiful and singular in its on going “decay” how it is qualitatively different today, than yesterday, different from 100 years ago, 1000 years ago.

Some people said, Helsinki, Buenos Aires, Barcelona… All of these cities bring up a quality for me. They have an emotion, a personality, a singularity. I feel November in Helsinki, dark, cold and bright, blue black. I feel Buenos Aires, music and flow and broad streets, narrow streets, hidden squares and spaces, I feel Barcelona gaudi and the mediterranean and parks filled with pigeons.

In each of these feelings I feel people.

old wine in new bottles

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I think I took this line from an online sensemaking community I am part of. More on sensemaking communities in a later post. Instead I want to talk today about creating knowledge vs maintaining knowledge. This also came up in the aforementioned sensemaking community.

How important is it to be a creator versus a maintainer. There are many ways to look at this, a creator versus an audience, or a creator of open source software, versus a maintainer of open source software, versus a user. A creator of a musical piece (composer), versus an interpreter of a musical piece (musician), versus a listener (audience member).

Notice I started out with a dyad creator vs maintainer and then I moved into a trinity of creator / maintainer / participant. I did not plan that. I almost said consumer but that is really some capitalist logic and I dont like it one bit. It feels passive. It feels less important some how. There is a problem with hierarchy in this culture, perhaps in all cultures. In my job I am a consultant, most of the other people I work with are highly capable and knowledgable technicians and the roles are divided into account principals, that manage the account, technical principals that manage the delivery, and consultants that manage the implementation or execution. I see these roles as equals, and quite frankly at this point in my career I want to work with equals.

Participant I consider in terms of participatory knowing – like going to a night club or rave. You have the dancers (the party goers), the dj, and the promoter or the night club owner (the producer). The different members undergo different transformations according to their participation. Their sensations are activated differently, their bodies are engaged differently. Ok what was my point.

Ahhh, now I remember.

I am starting a new experiment some what related to this. I am writing a newsletter every day for maybe (at least) a month. Every 7 days my newsletter will be a rewrite of the newsletter I sent 7 days prior. The idea is that I am at first creating and then maintaining, not sure how I am participating, but I suppose every rewrite involves a re-read… Or perhaps a future experiment is that someone rewrites my email and I rewrite theirs. The inspiration for this newsletter will be in the first newsletter – you can signup here.