John Green on making his internet better

“I know that it’s fashionable these days to say that the internet is a festering cesspool of toxicity, and you know, it is, but the internet is also many other things, including one of the primary drivers of humanity’s improved performance at a 29 year old video game. Really there is no THE internet, especially in the era of personalized feeds, there is only for each of us OUR internet. I don’t labor under the delusion that I can make THE internet better, but I do want to make MY internet better, and on that front I think Tetris has a lot to teach me.”

-From Why Are Humans Suddenly Getting Better at Tetris?

Spirituality @Corey

As you may remember, after I broke up with sarah I was feeling like I’d lost too much magic in my life and had burned away anything that wasn’t cold steel rationalism. And that was a big part of why i got involved with the crystal healer. to bring some sprituality and romance and magic back to my worldview and experience of life

Over the last few months though I’ve been super head down writing code and burning fear and rage as fuel to get me through it

Then a couple weeks ago my grandfather died. And like before he did my parents told me to call him so I could say goodbye. So I called his wife and she held the phone up to his ear while I said some nice bs about how much I loved him and appreciated him and stuff, and then I talked to her a little bit

She’s an absolute sweetheart. tbh I kinda love her more than him, he was much more of a gruff asshole. Although I learned at his funeral that he apparently had like a huge philanthropic side that I knew nothing about. But anyway

The point is, in opening myself up like that, going from a really fear/rage driven focus on code writing to a very emotional moment of love and connection, I was able to very tangibly feel this part of my psyche that I’ve been eating around the edges of in meditation recently

You could desribe it as like, “love” or “connection to other people”, but I feel like that’s the blind man who thinks the elephant’s trunk means an elephant is a big snake

There’s some place inside me (and I’m pretty sure everyone else too but obviously idk), that is able to tap in to some thing that feels much bigger and deeper and more powerful than just like interpersonal love

It’s the feeling of thinking back on all the evolution that led to you, all the different ancestors who had to fight to get you here. The great unbroken chain of life that stretches back to the first single celled organisms. Or even of all the energy and matter in the universe going back to the big bang

it is something that cannot really be grasped rationally or expressed in words except as a shadow, because it is something that exists outside the cerebral cortex and the language processing parts of your brains. It’s something you kinda have to just feel

So when you say you want to “take back” the meaning of the word sacred, to be about a rational, secular humanist idea of like, politeness and respect and humility and graciousness… I’m on the opposite side of that

I’m trying to find a deeper spirtualism that is NOT rational, is NOT personal. A sacredness that is bigger than me and isn’t about like, what’s best for me

That’s why I asked about dualism. Because I think it’s really what’s at play here. You’re thinking of sacredness from the perspective of the mind, playing by the mind’s rules within the mind’s framework. But I think to talk about it properly you have to see it from the spirit’s perspective, within that framework

So when you say things like [“that’s why i said the ’emotional timbre’. I think there is something very satisfying (maybe necessary) to the human condition and i want to hijack it without producing the problems that irrationality/metaphysics creates”], it feels like you’re talking about how Yellowstone actually makes the workers who visit it 12% more productive. You want to hijack it without producing the irrational/metaphysical response? But the irrational/metaphysical response is the whole point. To just feel that connection to the greater universe beyond ourselves. That is a good in itself. An absolutely essential good that you can’t feel complete without

I’ve actually really been digging Russell Brand’s instagram recently. He’s promoting a book he wrote about recovering from addiction, and he’s been making basically the Rat Park point (that the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety, it’s connectedness), but framing it in this way that’s much more about the hole in your spirit that you try to fill with whatever substance

Modern life refuses to acknowledge the existence of the spirit and the need to connect with the universe, and instead subverts that drive and hijacks it on behalf of Sinek-ian Whys controlled by companies and charlatans, and so we all feel empty and alone and purposeless, and we chase a million different substances and escapes to try to fill the void

But they won’t. Because the thing that is missing is spiritual, not material, and we in the Secular Modern community have no ability to understand things on that level

Democratic Messaging

The entire point of Democratic party messaging is to let college graduates feel morally superior when their team loses.

If you want to protect trans people’s rights, you don’t campaign on transgender issues. You campaign on issues that actually affect enough people to build a majority coalition (like, say, the fact that most tax money goes to old people and military contractors, or that you only get healthcare in America if your grandfather invented something rich people can use), and then once that coalition votes you into power, you use your power to protect trans people.

All this discussion of trans rights (and the constant drumbeat of “Go VOTE!”) feels frighteningly similar to the virtue signalling that went on in the Hillary campaign. A lot of people just out there trying to show that they’re Good, Caring People instead of offering any kind of substantive, structural critique of the broken system that grinds down the vast majority of people who can’t be assed to vote for identity politics issues that won’t actually help make their own lives any easier.

My current prediction is that Dems fail to take the senate, and get like, a 1 or two vote majority in the house. Unfortunately, those one or two votes will be from center-right dems who don’t actually help out on most key issues, and nothing is really gained.

Voting in the 2018 Midterms

Voting in the midterms this year is like blowing your nose when you have a cold. It’s not gonna fix any problems, but it’ll make things a little less disgusting and it’s pretty easy so you might as well do it.

History of the Venezuelan Oil Industry

-Didn’t have gold so the spanish didn’t really care about it
-Had tons of oil seeping out of the ground, but nobody cared at first
-1908 Juan Vincente Gomez becomes president and grants several concessions to explore, produce, and refine oil to his closest friends, who then sell them to foreign oil companies
-1914 The foreign oil companies pretty quickly realize that there is a TON of oil in Venezuela. Caribbean Oil Company (which gets acquired later by Shell) is the first big one.
-Things develop slowly during WWI
-1922 The blowout of the Barroso No. 2 well in Cabimas really gets everyone’s attention
-1928 Venezuela becomes the world’s leading oil exporter, 2nd producer after US. Now Venezuela is someplace people actually care about
-By the end of the 1930s the Soviet Union overtook Venezuela in production, making it #3, but it was still #1 exporter
-In the 20s, agriculture was 1/3 of economy, by the 50s it was 1/10th. Got a serious case of Dutch Disease and most other industries collapsed.
-All of this pretty understandably created a deep distrust of the foreigners, some dude called them “The New Spaniards”
-From a 1927 novel: “The workers asked for a miserable salary increase and those blond, blue-eyed men who own millions of dollars, pounds and gulden in European and U.S. banks, refused.”

-1941 “Isaías Medina Angarita, a former army general from the Venezuelan Andes, was indirectly elected president.”
-1943 Angarita enacts the Hydrocarbons Law, which demanded 50% of oil profits for the government. Stayed in place until nationalization of the industry in 1976
-WWII ramps up the demand for oil, and Venezuela grants more concessions which leads to further development of new fields. They supplied the Allies

-Post-war oil demand continues to rise due to consumer automobiles,
-1950s Middle Eastern countries started exporting more, US institutes import quotas, world has an over-supply of oil, and prices plummet
-1960 Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait start OPEC

1973 Oil Crisis
-1970s Persian Gulf oil exporters start pushing to get an ownership share of oil companies.
-By 1973 they had a 60% share (this is so vague, need to read that article up there for more info). Then they raise their prices 70% and embargoed countries friendly to Israel. This is great for Venezuela, between 72 and 74 government revenue from oil quadrupled
-Rest of the 70s president Carlos Andrés Pérez promises to use all that money to do awesome stuff
-But then in the 80s the price drops again because the OPEC countries were violating their quotas, and Venezuela ends up in a bunch of debt

-August 1971 president Rafael Caldera passes law nationalizing the country’s natural gas industry.
-Also in 1971 the law of reversion passed, says “all the assets, plant, and equipment belonging to concessionaires within or outside the concession areas would revert to the nation without compensation upon the expiration of the concession.” (quote from wiki, not necessarily the law)
-Decree 832 says all exploration, production, refining, and sales programs of the oil companies had to be approved in advance by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons.
-January 1 1976 oil industry officially nationalized under Carlos Andres Perez, creates Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., the national oil company.
-In 1980 PDVSA bought refineries in USA and Europe as the American Citgo, became 3rd largest oil company in the world.
-Between 1990-99, Venezuela’s industrial production declined from 50 percent to 24 percent of GDP, compared to decrease from 36 to 29 for rest of Latin America, even though production kept rising until 1998
-From 1976–1992, 29% of PDVSA’s income went towards the company’s costs, leaving 71 percent for the government. From 1993 to 2000, 64 percent of PDVSA’s income was kept by PDVSA, leaving 36 percent for the government

-1999 Chavez takes power. PDVSA kinda falls apart. Doesn’t bring any new fields onstream, and generally business kind of falls apart
-Chavez tries to reinvigorate OPEC and goes on a big tour and holds a big conference trying to get everyone to stick to their quotas again. Prices do go up, but this was probably because of the Iraq war and the rise of China
-2000 Chavez gets a huge boos in his authority from the national assembly, and he uses it to make a lot of changes to the oil industry. He enacted a new Hydrocarbons Law in 2002, but no info on what it did. Wikipedia says everyone was mad about everything he did though. One thing it says is he mandated 10% of PDVSA’s investment budget be spent on social programs.
-2002 there’s a strike by oil workers that leads to a big shutdown and subsequent price increase. Strikers wanted Chavez to resign. But they all get fired and replaced by loyalists. There were lots of protests against Chavez though, and there was even a coup attempt
-After the failure of the coup, combination of labor unions and business groups called for an “indefinite national strike” which, in many places, turned out to be a forced “bosses lock out” where the employees were prevented from working.[citation needed] When the strike ended, unemployment was up by 5 percent to over 20 percent in March 2003.
-2005 PDVSA opens first office in China and announced it would triple its fleet of tankers in the region. Chavez had been saying for a while that he wanted to sell more to China so he could be independent of the USA.
-2007 Chavez makes deal with Brazil to refine some oil there, and with Ecuador to refine some of Ecuador’s oil in Venezuela. Also a deal with Cuba to trade medical treatment for cheap oil
-State income from oil revenue grew “from 51% of total income in 2000 to 56% 2006”; oil exports increased “from 77% in 1997 to 89% in 2006”
-2012 “96% of the country’s exports and nearly half of its fiscal revenue” relied on oil production.

A nation outside the nation

“The Nation of Islam was by no means the first group to advocate for a separate nation, with calls to leave America tracing back at least to emancipation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, after being granted so-called freedom, ‘there is little evidence that for Blacks in general, being American was considered desirable, even if attainable, until well into the nineteenth century.'”

“Desire for separation has typically been seen as the radical alternative to integration into the existing society. However, advocating emigration from a Western nation state is not necessarily radical, because it does not always involve an overturning of the existing social order.”

“America itself is not the problem here; the issue is that because of prejudice Black people will never be accepted. Therefore it becomes necessary to leave America and replicate “modern civilized life” but with Black faces. The structure of the existing society is maintained, but Black people are given the chance to replicate its success, just elsewhere. It is for this reason that emigration was a popular solution of White politicians to the problem caused by emancipation.”

“It is no coincidence that the word colony was used; they [the white politicians] were attempting to create a colonial relationship such as existed with European countries and their territories.”

Weak Nationalism

He’s been talking about the ways the idea of Black Nationalism has been perverted and diluted. Then he mentions how Italians faced discrimination, so they created a community of Italian businesses which got strong enough that they were eventually integrated into “mainstream American society.” The idea here is a “nation within a nation”, which he calls “weak Black nationalism” or “community nationalism.”

Anyway, then we get to this quote from Carmichael and Hamilton’s book Black Power:

“Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralist society… by building Irish Power, Italian Power, Polish Power, or Jewish Power, these groups got themselves together and operated from positions of strength.”

Then later, from Andrews:
“From a radical perspective, the fundamental problem with the idea of the nation within a nation is that it leaves the regressive structure of the nation state intact.”

Liberalism vs Radicalism

Liberalism: MLK and the civil rights movement as its generally considered. “Liberals acknowledge the problems of racial inequality but put them down to a lack of access to the system.” Black people are poor because they’re not treated fairly in the job market, laws are unfair because they’re underrepresented in the legislature, etc. “The system is not the problem in this analysis, just the fact that we are not fully part o fit. If Black faces were in high places then of course a different set of decisions would be made and equality would emerge.”

Radicalism: Malcolm X, who had no interest in being part of the “American nightmare.” “In the radical tradition, the system is the problem. There can be no reform, no adjustments, and we as Black people should not waste time daydreaming of equality.” … “the battle is not to get good jobs or to be elected, but to end the system of oppression and create the world in a new image.”

Malcolm on Martin

“At on time the Whites in the United States called him a racialist, and extremist, and a communist. Then the Black Muslims came along and the Whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King.”

Later, when Martin was mad that Malcolm had come to Selma right before Martin’s planned visit:

“I want Dr. King to know that I didn’t come to Selma to make his job difficult. I really did come thinking I could make it easier. If the White people realize what the alternative is, perhapst hey will be more willing to hear Dr. King.”

The plight of the Ghanian rice farmer

-“Rice farming was one of the successes of the post-independence economy, because it was supported by government subsidies and there was a ban on foreign imports.”
-In the 80s they wanted to improve rice production by developing irrigation systems, so they got loans from the IMF and World Bank on the condition it liberalize their markets. This meant ending the subsidies and allowing foreign imports
-Surprise! Cheap foreign rice now flooded the market, mostly from American farmers. Which is cool because guess what? America subsidizes its rice farmers.
-So now everyone buys the “cheaper, higher quality” rice from America and the Ghanian rice industry has collapsed.