social vs. actual reality

Actual reality is always there, if you think for yourself.

Social reality tends to veer off in a predictable vector from actual reality, within a given social space.

Only nature forces corrections.  Capitalism has been so effective not because it’s so wonderful at managing production, but because it’s very good at continuously allowing nature to correct the system, though it still lags at times.

Social reality tends to stagnate, and entrench itself in predictable patterns, while actual reality tracks about in a smooth fashion.

This is not to say that social reality is irrelevant; it is merely one aspect of the overall framework of human life.  Much like a heat engine derives work from a thermal gradient, one can derive many things by interposing one’s machinations between social and actual reality.

Or, having abandoned personal ambition, and being weak and vulnerable in social situations, it is simply necessary to know where the herd is going before it decides to go there, lest one be trampled, without the slightest care or concern, beneath its weighty hooves.

people and clouds

When I was trying to figure out where stratospheric balloons would fly, I learned that the atmosphere was an incredibly complex system, even though it was driven by just a few basic components: air, water, and heat.

Rising, expanding parcels of air cool off.  Water vapor condenses when it gets cold, and precipitates.  The sun heating the earth stirs up the atmosphere like water in a cooking pan, from surface temperature, down to about -60F.  Heating, cooling, rising, falling, evaporating, condensing, expanding, contracting… churning, chaotically, seemingly forever.

People are like that, too.  They have only a few basic emotional prime movers, but from those, all manner of human drama plays out around us; loving and hating, seeking and avoiding, fighting and mating, testosterone and estrogen… we’re not so complicated, at our core.

At some point, I realized that understanding people, in a scientific manner, is probably the worst thing a person can possibly do to itself.  It’s quite maddening, in fact, when you realize you’re merely and inescapably a puppet; a pile of flesh and bone which serves only to propagate the code stored in the nucleus of every squishy cell of its body, which can neither escape the fundamental temperament of that code, or the nature of the environment used for calibration during its boot-up sequence.

Perhaps that’s why so many thinkers rebel against the very notion of being human, and aspire to become pure spirits; thought devoid of the base interference of mammalian emotion.

Maybe because it seems base.  Or maybe because it hurts too much to feel when you understand how ridiculous your feelings are, and you understand nature’s true intent behind those feelings.

Maybe that’s one fundamental difference between the sky and life: the clouds never have an agenda, but life always does, though it’s a very simple one:


casual conversation

I have a test for you!

I will start with a statement, which you must come up with an appropriate response for in less than a second, otherwise you fail.

The statement will not lend itself to any particular response, and may or may not be a question.  If the statement is a question, there’s only a slim chance that the correct response is to actually answer the question.

For any statement I give you, there’s a particular set of acceptable responses, but you don’t know what they are.    If you choose outside of that set of responses, you fail.

Should you answer correctly, I’ll give you another statement, and you must again respond correctly, within the 1 second time limit, or you fail.

The test ends once you fail.  You can’t pass, because I’ll keep giving you questions until you fail.

If anything, you’ll lose more points the further you get before you fail, because, if you answered all the preceding questions correctly, then failing a statement further on means you deliberately chose to be obstreperous, and are not merely incompetent(the only two possibilities).

Really, the best outcome for you is to pretend you didn’t hear my statement, in which case you may escape a bad grade on a technicality, though, the incident will probably come back to haunt you, anyways.


Hating categorically on a group of people is an emotional indulgence that denotes a lack of emotional and mental discipline and maturity.

To survive life comfortably, one should understand people as thoroughly as time permits.  Emotions cloud that understanding.  Emotions cause you to waste mental and physical effort better spent on more rational things.

Do not waste time; particularly in the present age, there is no time to waste.

I’m not sure there’s a knowledge-based route to understanding hate: the best lesson is to actually be hated, for non-personal reasons.  It’s tempting to hate back, but that would just be succumbing to human weakness.

You have to deeply empathize with the people that hate you for no particular reason, in order to understand the pointlessness of hate so deeply that you abandon it yourself.

It hurts. It hurts so much that, after awhile, you may notice your tolerance for physical pain becomes surprisingly high.

But pain in the best teacher.


Sometimes, she spoke to those around her, and they said various things in response, but they didn’t quite seem to get what she was saying.

Then, one day, she realized that when she thought she was talking, she was actually barking.

While this revelation was somewhat startling in and of itself, what it implied was far more problematic: if she’d missed something so basic as the difference between barking and talking, then the task of communicating with humans was as out of reach to her as abstract algebra was to a donkey.

Perhaps it was a missing library of common psycho-linguistic symbols, or perhaps communication was happening on side-bands.  Perhaps it was some bit of magic she’d lost, or some bits of magic she’d never had.

The wading pool she stood in still looked like just a little wading pool.  She felt the hard plastic on her feet, and saw the brightly colored designs around the edges.

But sometimes, while she gazes at it, just before her eyes close to blink, she sees the ocean.

Not an awareness of the distance.  Only a frightening awareness that her perception of the distance was completely unreliable, and that important bits of the universe were actually unfolding in a manner totally beyond her senses.

Certainly, should one find that one has sleepwalked onto a battlefield between advanced alien species wielding weaponry of unimaginable complexity, perhaps it’s best, then, to cede the ground to the aliens, and attempt to find a quiet hole to hide in, for the remainder of your earthly existence.


I don’t like to meddle in the affairs of humans.

I’ve discovered that even being friendly can turn them against you.  For example, if you start to make friends with someone, their existing friends may be dismayed.

So it’s probably best to befriend people who either have no other friends, have only acquaintances, or who do not presently have someone providing the particular functionality you may provide them with(at least, in the amount they require).

solitary mind

Individual Power

It is fairly easy to understand how someone primarily interested in solitary pursuits would become both better at them, and worse at social pursuits.

It is in everyone’s interest to appear as good as possible at everything one can, however.  Social people are just as keen to appear good at solitary pursuits as their less social cohorts.

However, social people are inherently superior at presenting themselves to people in whatever way is useful, in ways both conscious and unconscious.  If they can obtain the benefits of seeming good at things, without spending the time to actually be good at them, that’s a huge advantage.

But it’s not that it’s simply unfair, though: social skills have a rather large investment and maintenance cost, just like academic pursuits.  They seem to require many different areas of the brain to work together well, and this presumably requires vast amounts of time to both develop and maintain.

The Power of Civilization

In a world composed purely of social hierarchy, the situation for people not interested in social dominance is hopeless.

Civilizations, at the times and places in their lives where they advance, do so because they have some quirk about them that enables localized subversion of social hierarchy, such that a safe harbor exists for dedicated intellectuals.

As an example, the renaissance in Europe could be viewed as a competition between competing European heads of state over whose academics and artists produced the most powerful and interesting things.  The battlefield was sometimes figurative, and sometimes literal, as technological advancements, driven by the products of academia, took on ever more increasing importance in both warfare and economy.

Prior to the renaissance, the church at least provided a safe harbor for philosophers to spend their time deep in thought.  Perhaps an excessive amount of time was wasted trying to come up with proofs of the existence of god, but at least people were thinking about big things.

Any time non-competitive people have been given refuge to think in peace, their civilization has advanced.

The Conflict

It seems that, generally civilization is a sort of forced response to threats to survival.  Nothing much really matters, as long as no one is invading, and no one is starving.

That is the main resonance of civilization; rising in response to threats, falling in their absence.

The higher they rise, the harder they fall.  No one is in control of this process; it simply happens, and we are along for the ride.

To tie this all together, it is probably then in the best interest of academic individuals to align themselves with cultures that presently, and as far into the future as possible, must struggle, and have institutions that support that struggle, wherein safe harbor is given to those in purely academic pursuits.

If you are in a country where everything appears to be light and easy, and there seems to be no advantage to actually doing anything meaningful other than social posturing, it’s probably because that country is in economic free-fall.