What is the point of non-profits?

“To escape the logic of this system you have to give up the part of yourself that says you can change the world. You cannot change the world. Mass consumption, mass media, and individualism have rendered the world primitive again, a social vacuum in which there is, paradoxically, no individual. And because there is no individual there is no accountability, no rights, and certainly no social contract. The dream of liberal democracy is dead. All that exists is the global oppressors and the globally oppressed.”

-https://popula.com/2018/11/18/a-way-out/

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?

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.”

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.”

Rise of Extremism

“In many ways the rise of extremism is in direct correlation to the decline of truly radical alternatives to Western domination. Once you give up on overthrowing the unjust social order it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to find spiritual salvation.”

For context, he’s been discussing Islamic Extremism, and this point seems to be mostly with regard to that.

Common attributes of sector bubbles

“In a 2016 paper called Bubbles for Fama, economists Robin Greenwood, Andrei Schleifer, and Yang You identified a set of common attributes across 41 different sector bubbles in U.S. stocks going back to 1928. Among the recurring themes: A sharp increase in volatility, a sharp increase in share issuance, a preference among investors for new firms and an accelerating slope of the rally.”

-From Joe’s note in the Bloomberg Open email

Against Forecasting

“And in that strange profession of people who work with volatility, there were two types. First category, academics, report-writers, and commentators who study future events and write books and papers; and, second category, practitioners who, instead of studying future events, try to understand how things react to volatility (but practitioners are usually too busy practitioning to write books, articles, papers, speeches, equations, theories and get honored by Highly Constipated and Honorable Members of Academies). The difference between the two categories is central: as we saw, it is much easier to understand if something is harmed by volatility– hence fragile– than try to forecast harmful events, such as these oversized Black Swans. But only practitioners (or people who do things) tend to spontaneously get the point.”

p. 12-13

Heuristics

“Heuristics are simplified rules of thumb that make things simple and easy to implement. But their main advantage is that the user knows that they are not perfect, just expedient, and is therefore less fooled by their powers. They become dangerous when we forget that.”

p. 11

Fragilistas

“he defaults to thinking that what he doesn’t see is not there, or what he does not understand does not exist. At the core, he tends to mistake the unknown for the nonexistent.

The fragilista falls for the Soviet-Harvard delustion, the (unscientific) overestimation of the reach of scientific knowledge. Because of such delusion, he is what is called a naive rationalist, a rationalizer, or sometimes just a rationalist, in the sense that he believes that the reasons behind things are automatically accessible to him. And let us not confuse rationalizing with rational– the two are almost always exact opposites. Outside of physics, and generally in complex domains, the reasons behind things have had a tendency to make themselves less obvious to us, and even less to the fragilista. This property of natural things not to advertise themselves in a user’s manual is, alas, not much of a hindrance: some fragilistas will get together to write the user’s manual themselves, thanks to their definition of “science.”

So thanks to the fragilista, modern culture has been increasingly building blindness tot he mysterious, the impenetrable, what Nietzsche called the Dionysian, in life.

Or to translate Nietzsche into the less poetic but no less insightful Brooklyn vernacular, this is what our character Fat Tony calls a “sucker game.”

In short, the fragilista (medical, economic, social planning) is one who makes you engage in policies and actions, all artificial, in which the benefits are small and visible, and the side effects potentially severe and invisible.”

p. 9-10

Neomania

“Now for reasons that have to do with the increase of the artificial, the move away from ancestral and natural models, and the loss in robustness owing to complications in the design of everything, the role of Black Swans is increasing. Further, we are victims to a new disease, called in this book neomania, that makes us build Black Swan-vulnerable systems– “progress.””