humans

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.

excessive intellect

Reproduction always wins, in the long-run, over non-reproduction, regardless of the unsavory other traits which may be associated with particular bands of fecund individuals.

When your people become too smart and sophisticated for having children, you  die off.

Meanwhile, less sophisticated people are reproducing rapidly.  And there probably will come a time in their future when many of them will be killed off.  But that’s okay, because there will be a lot of smart ones surviving, and their survival prowess will then be evident to their potential mates.

The people who found children too tedious, as a whole, will have been marginalized by then.

I wish nature had better taste, but nature really, really doesn’t care.

appearances

I dress strange, and my overall appearance is certainly peculiar.

But it’s not exactly that I don’t care; I would certainly like an aesthetically-pleasing,  confidence-inspiring appearance, that would put the hearts and minds of those around me(during those unfortunate moments I have no choice but to subject them to me) at ease.

Though I’d prefer to simply be invisible.

However, my time is already heavily over-committed with other things either more important to me, or more interesting.  So I dress for maximal functionality and minimal upkeep.

I have to work as a programmer.  It really doesn’t matter what I look like for that, as long as I’m not either an HR or a safety hazard.  That takes a lot of time and focus.

I am also slowly learning Japanese.  That takes a huge amount of time, and I enjoy it quite a bit more than trying to maintain a wardrobe.

I am also maintaining and adding various computer-related skills that are not even in the same category as what I program for work, so that takes additional time and attention.

So I am a little embarrassing to myself.  But once I’ve crossed over into “extremely embarrassed”, I dissociate and feel no anxiety whatsoever, so it’s actually more comfortable to be really weird than a little weird.

So, I go for it.

Apologies, in advance…

The Nintendo Generation

The mid-1970’s have proven to be quite an interesting moment to be born.

I grew up with books and computers, but without Internet, and certainly without mobile.  Yet I landed in college precisely as the commercial Internet was being born.

I think my generation, being quite narrowly defined within perhaps 3 to 4 years of my birth(due to rapid technological change), has, in recent years, often wondered where it belongs.

Being highly technically competent in computer and Internet technology, steeped in the fantasy worlds written in long novels, but lacking the connection with either the preceding non-digital culture, or the following Internet or mobile cultures.

Particularly the nerds among us are truly, as proclaimed by one of the drill sergeants who greeted my flight in 1994, “The Nintendo Generation.”  (In reference to the first generation NES).

Probably the most isolated generation in the history of globalized humanity, and probably the most isolated that will ever be.

the future

It’s really deeply unclear to me how the model we’ve been living in since the industrial revolution will work now.

If I were to recommend a strategy for the nations of the world, it would be to continue to preserve international strength, but to de-tune the domestic economy in ways that make the entire course of life more human.

While humans are remarkably adaptable, I think adapting to a world where nothing needs to be done is a bit of a stretch.

I would heavily pursue de-centralization of all matter of production to keep people involved and busy.  It seems this is somewhat the case already, as YouTube follower count seems to be emerging as a fundamental social status symbol.

Perhaps the cultures that will thrive in this century, are ones that understand how to mitigate the corrosive impact of Internet culture, and how to impose an alternative rule-set, to keep people functional, and buy us time to evolve our cultures and ourselves, to handle this new reality.

please let the devs in

H1-B system is all rogered up.  Silicon Valley is imploding.

Local companies are trying crazy things, like offices in the mid-west.

Because they can’t outspend Google on hiring, and leased office space here is so expensive, we’re sitting on each other’s laps.

In a way though, that’s how America works.  That’s how America stays in business: by mindlessly creating disaster after disaster, we continuously generate economic activity.  We have enough space to write off entire cities due to planning mistakes, and everyone who can move, just goes somewhere else.

The poor people stay until the place becomes enough of a gang-infested hell-hole that it becomes trendy to move back in.  Then they have to move somewhere else, because they can’t afford the rent any more.

But… seriously though, please let the people in that want to program.