On reflections

Musings on mortality

True human strength doesn’t lie in bursts of energy but in indestructible calm. - Tolstoy

Some musings on mortality as I age yet another year. I write about health, wealth, and wisdom because these are core tenets to a life well lived. Below are ideas and minds that have helped me along the way as I too strive to lead a life imbued with health, wealth, and happiness.

1) It used to be a commonly held belief that family comes first. This has somewhat changed over the last few decades, but for me, family is first. I guess that makes me old school. Put your family, friends, or significant other high on your priority list. Choose a a handful of truly close friends to a hundred pseudo-anonymous entities.  Host parties, call your mom, and play with your kids.

2) One only gets one life to live (as far as we know)—this is probably it.  Make it count. Time is ones most valuable resource. Time is extremely limited and goes by fast.  Do what makes one happy and fulfilled—few people get remembered hundreds of years after they die anyway. A goal for many may be to be remembered by their great grandchildren. Are you doing anything that memorable? Avoid things that do not bring joy to ones life, either in the short term or the long term. Stress and negativity are not worth ones time. However, full hedonism is not the answer, one must jump off the hedonic treadmill at times and onto the real world assault bike.

3) How to succeed: pick the right thing to do (this is critical and usually ignored), focus, believe in oneself (especially when others tell you it’s not going to work), develop personal connections with people that will help, learn to identify talented people, and work hard.  It’s hard to identify what to work on because original thought is hard. Once one finds what to work on, be relentless.

4) On work: it’s difficult to do a great job on work one does not care about.  And it’s hard to be totally happy/fulfilled in life if one does not like what one does for work.  Work very hard—a surprising number of people will be offended that one chooses to work hard—but not so hard that the rest of ones life passes by.  Aim to be the best in the world at whatever ones does professionally.  Even if one misses, one will probably end up in a pretty good place.  Figure out ones productivity system—don’t waste time being unorganized, working at suboptimal times, etc.  Don’t be afraid to take some career risks, especially early on.  Most people pick their career fairly randomly—really think hard about what one likes, what fields are going to be successful, and try to talk to people in those fields.

5) On money: Whether or not money can buy happiness, it can buy freedom, and that’s a big deal.  Also, lack of money is very stressful.  In almost all ways, having enough money so that one does not stress about paying rent does more to change ones wellbeing than having enough money to buy a jet.  Making money is often more fun than spending it, though I personally have never regretted money I’ve spent on family, new ventures, saving time, and travel.

6) Talk to people more.  Read more long content and less tweets.  Watch less TV.  Spend less time on the Internet. Be a social animal in real life.

7) Don’t waste time.  Most people waste most of their time, especially in business. “Write like you are running out of time.”

8) Don’t let yourself get pushed around.  As one ascends ones career path one will come up against people that are tough to deal with. They can be jealous of ones success or fearful of losing ones own position. This is not a reason to stop pushing for success.

9) Have clear goals for yourself every day, every year, and every decade. One can use objectives and key results (OKR’s) if they are so inclined or a planning junkie.  Have a plan and execute against it.

10) However, as valuable as planning is, if a great opportunity comes along one should take it.  Don’t be afraid to do something slightly reckless.  One of the benefits of working hard is that good opportunities will come along, but it’s still up to one to jump on them when they do.

11) Go out of ones way to be around smart, interesting, ambitious people.  Work for them and hire them (in fact, one of the most satisfying parts of work is forging deep relationships with really good people).  Try to spend time with people who are either among the best in the world at what they do or extremely promising but totally unknown.  It really is true that one becomes an average of the people one spends the most time with.

12) Minimize ones own cognitive load from distracting things that don’t really matter.  It’s hard to overstate how important this is, and how bad most people are at it.  Get rid of distractions in ones life.  Develop very strong ways to avoid letting things one does not like doing pile up and take mental cycles, especially in ones work life.

13) The Machiavellian allure. Don’t chase status.  Status without substance doesn’t work for long and is unfulfilling. We live in a materialistic age so it makes sense for one to chase after things and prestige. This is a false path for one to traverse, rather one should seek true substance in the beautiful, noble, and heroic aspects of life. Stop worrying about the next pat on the back and focus on improving oneself and supporting ones family and friends.

14) Summers are the best. Double meaning, the summer season is splendid as one gets to experience the great outdoors in its apex form. One also has a remarkable time in the summer of ones life. The second epoch of ones life 25 years of age to 50 years of age are a time to mature and come into ones own. Building reputation, family, and legacy.

15) Seneca often said “Don’t worry so much”.  Things in life are rarely as risky as they seem.  Most people are too risk-averse, and so most advice is biased too much towards conservative paths.

16) Ask for what one wants.  

17) If one thinks one is going to regret not doing something, one should probably do it.  Regret is the worst, and most people regret far more things they didn’t do than things they did do.  When in doubt, jump in with two feet.

18) Exercise.  Eat well. Laugh. Sleep. Get out into nature with some regularity. Sun and steel.

19) Go out of ones way to help people.  Few things in life are as satisfying.  Be nice to strangers.  Be nice even when it doesn’t matter. One never knows where the person they are interacting with will end up in the future. Act accordingly.

20) Youth is a really great thing.  Don’t waste it.  In fact, in ones 20s, it’s ok to take a “Give me financial discipline, but not just yet” attitude.  All the money in the world will never get back time that passed one by.

21) Tell your parents one loves them more often.  Go home and visit as often as one can.

22) This too shall pass. The only thing in the universe that is constant is change.

23) Learn voraciously. And at all stages of ones life.

24) Do new things often.  This seems to be really important.  Not only does doing new things seem to slow down the perception of time, increase happiness, and keep life interesting, but it seems to prevent people from calcifying in the ways that they think.  Aim to do something big, new, and risky every year in your personal and professional life.

25) Remember how intensely one loved ones girlfriend when one was a teenager?  Love her that intensely now.  Remember how excited and happy one got about stuff as a kid?  Get that excited and happy now. Sustained intensity is a super power.

26) Don’t screw people and don’t burn bridges.  Pick ones battles wisely.

27) Forgive people. 

28) Keep ones personal burn rate low. Ie don’t live above ones means. This alone will give one a lot of opportunities in life.

29) Follow the Aristotelian Golden Mean. Most things are fine in moderation.  Almost nothing is fine in extreme amounts.

30) Heidegger writes that Existential angst is part of life.  It is particularly noticeable around major life events or just after major career milestones.  It seems to particularly affect smart, ambitious people.  I think one of the reasons some people work so hard is so they don’t have to spend too much time thinking about this.  Nothing is wrong with one for feeling this way; one is not alone.

31) Be grateful and keep problems in perspective.  Don’t complain too much.  Don’t hate other people’s success (but remember that some people will hate ones success, and one has to learn to ignore it). As the kids say haters gon hate…

32) Benjamin Franklin was famous for his activeness. Be a doer, not a talker.

33) Given enough time, it is possible to adjust to almost anything, good or bad.  Humans are remarkable at this.

34) Think for a few seconds before action.  Think for a few minutes if one is angry.

35) Don’t judge other people too quickly.  One never know their whole story and why they did or didn’t do something.  Be empathetic.

36) The minutes are long but the years are short. Anyone that has had or has children understands this pithy saying. Time with young children is warped as it feels both long and short. Truly the most beautiful time in ones life is to see ones children grow and blossom into sentient beings.

On transhumanism

Overman > Last man

Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Few realize that Nietzsche is father to myriad offspring which propagate modern thought. He is one of the pioneers of critical theory and transhumanism along with the inspiration for the superhero Superman.

When I first became familiar with the transhumanist movement, I immediately thought that there were many fundamental similarities between transhumanism and Nietzsche’s philosophy, especially concerning the concept of the posthuman and that of Nietzsche’s overman.

Nietzsche’s relationship to transhumanism has been debated for years, and one can find scholars on any point of the spectrum regarding Nietzsche’s affinity and or founding to this movement. In this essay I will explore this relationship and other issues that are central to Nietzsche’s thought and transhumanism. These issues include the overman (or the superman), the post-human, eternal recurrence, nihilism, evolution, education, asceticism, enhancement, bio-enhancement, morality, pain, suffering, longevity, and immortality. Nietachzes man was a treasure trove of brilliance.

For Nietzsche the Overman (superman) is needed to transcend the cultural malaise brought about by a vacuous feeling left behind form religion and God. If one does not have God to emulate, one needs to strive to become the Overman. This herculean task is not achievable by most, which is what causes much of the anxiety Nietzsche feels and what is causing rampant decay in Western society. Without God most people are devolving into a form of Hegel’s “Last Man”- nihilistic, shallow, weak, and immoral. When religion was more prevalent, last men existed, but they had religion to follow as a code and god(s) to emulate as an adult. Striving to better oneself is how a mortal traverses the path of the gods.

Will To Power

Nietzsche holds a dynamic will-to-power metaphysics, which implies that all things are permanently undergoing some change. Nietzsche admired the pre-socratics like Heraclitus. There is nothing which is eternally fixed. According to Nietzsche, human beings are organisms constituted out of individual power quanta or will to power constellations.

One can clarify his concept by reference to Leibniz’s monadology. A power quantum is a single entity like a monad. In contrast to the monad, it can interact with other power quanta, it can grow, it can nourish itself, and it has a perspective on the world. This perspective enables the quantum to decide what to do next, which depends upon its options and its conception of power whereby it employs an extremely wide and open notion of power. Every state, in which a power quantum is stronger, more capable, than another, and has the potential to dominate the other, represents a state of power.

According to Nietzsche, all entities are constituted out of such power constellations. The dynamics of power also underlie the process of evolution, which was responsible for bringing about the human species, animals, and plants. All organisms came into existence because the conditions were such that bringing about the respective organisms was the best possible means for realizing the striving for power of the preceding organisms.

Individual members of a species have only a certain limited potential, which is limited by their belonging to a specific species. Each species represents a species not only because it is a community whose members have the potential to reproduce themselves with one another, but also because its members have certain limits.

I want my lion and eagle around so that I can always have hints and forebodings to know how great or small my strength is. Must I look down on them today and fear them? And will the hour return when they look up at me - in fear? - Nietzsche

A human being as a human being has only a limited amount of potential and capacities, as he belongs to the human species, and any species is defined by its limits. It cannot go beyond that limit. If a human being has acquired special capacities, then he cannot pass them on to his descendants, Nietzsche holds. However, a certain kind of Lamarckism can also be found in Nietzsche, as he stresses that certain tendencies can get inherited.

Values

In addition to the ontological dynamics, which can be found both in transhumanisn and in Nietzsche’s philosophy, the same dynamics also applies to the level of values. He presents his interpretation of the evolution of values in his account of the “Genealogy of Morals”. Values undergo a change on various levels, on a social and cultural level as well as on a personal one. Nietzsche’s concept of power, to which the concept of value is closely related, can change given new experiences and insights. The content of the concept of power is perspectival. There are no absolute and unchanging values, as there is no Platonic realm of ideas in which something could remain fixed.

Both Nietzsche and transhumanists have an outlook on the world, which diverges significantly from the traditional Christian one, or one which has inherited many Christian values. As one can still find many elements of Christian thinking in the value system of many people today, both Nietzsche and transhumanists are in favor of bringing about a revaluation of values.

Technology

Nietzsche’s respect for critical thinking was immense – he is widely regarded as one of the harshest critics of morality and religion. Furthermore, he also values scientific inquiry immensely, even though his respect for science has often been underestimated. In various passages, he points out that the future age will be governed by a scientific spirit, which is why he thinks that many future people will regard his philosophy as plausible, as his way of thinking is supposed to appeal to scientifically minded people.

Nietzsche’s theory of the eternal recurrence is based upon premises, which have been held by many scientists. His will-to- power anthropology bears many similarities to scientific ones. Even though he is critical of Darwin, he also holds a theory of evolution. Nietzsche very often is most critical of thinkers who are closest to his own understanding of things. In Darwin’s case, Nietzsche’s critique is mainly rooted in his concept that human beings strive solely for power. Hence, a concept, which implies that a struggle for existence or a will to life is the fundamental human drive, is the one from which he feels the need to distinguish himself. Human beings strive for power. The struggle for existence represents only a marginal type of expression of the fundamental will-to-power.

If you will power, then it is in your interest to enhance yourself. Enhancement, however, is just what transhumanists aim for.

Transhumanism is in favor of technologies and other means which could be used for “enhancement of human intellectual, physical, and emotional capacities so that posthumous could come into existence - Bostrom

Courage is a significant virtue within Nietzsche’s favored morality. In addition, he stresses the importance of science for the forthcoming centuries, and does not reject that development. Given these two premises, I cannot exclude the possibility that Nietzsche would have been in favor of genetic engineering, even though he mainly stresses the importance of education for the occurrence of the evolutionary step towards the overman. If genetic engineering, or liberal eugenics, can actually be seen as a special type of education, which is what transhumanists seem to hold, then it is possible that this position would have been held by Nietzsche, too, as education played a significant role in his ethics. He affirmed science and was in favor of enhancement and the bringing about of the overman.

Perspective

Each power constellation, and hence each human being, according to Nietzsche, has a different perspective on the world and as each individual concept of power depends on who one is and which history one has had, each human being has a unique concept of power, and consequently a unique conception “of what their own perfection would consist in.” Nietzsche himself has a clear concept of power, and what he regards as the highest feeling of power, which is directly connected to the classical ideal. A similar ideal seems to be upheld by transhumanists.

Transhumanism imports from secular humanism the ideal of the fully- developed and well-rounded personality. We can’t all be renaissance geniuses, but we can strive to constantly refine ourselves and to broaden our intellectual horizons. - Bostrom

Not only the aspect of the “fully-developed and well-rounded personality” can be found in Nietzsche, but also the striving “to constantly refine ourselves and to broaden our intellectual horizons.” In Nietzsche, this aspect is called “overcoming”. Higher humans wish to permanently overcome themselves, to become stronger in the various aspects, which can be developed in a human being, so that finally the overman can come into existence. In transhumanist thought, Nietzsche’s overman is being referred to as “posthuman.”

Posthuman

Who is a posthuman? Which qualities does he have? I think that the only qualities, which all transhumanists can subscribe to, are the following: we lack the capacity to form a realistic intuitive understanding of what it would be like to be posthuman. We simply do not know, if humans will become cyborgs or ethereal minds in the cloud.

A new species that represents a further stage of evolution is referred to as the posthumans. Hence, transhumans and human beings have the capacity to reproduce themselves with each other, but posthumans would not, in the same way that we cannot reproduce ourselves with great apes, at least not in a sexual manner. It might even be the case that posthumans need to rely on technological means for reproduction. This might seem outlandish to some, but think of the current use of pharmaceuticals and surgeries for some couples to conceive children. This is a form of technological leverage being employed to propagate the human species - transhumanism in action.

It becomes clear that posthuman capacities cannot be identical to the qualities current human beings have. Both current human beings, as well as posthumans, belong to the species of human beings, which implies that they have the potential to reproduce themselves with another by means of sexual reproduction. Posthumans are not a separate species but a particular group of humans with capacities which cannot yet be imagined by us, but which can involve an enhancement in all human aspects including a physiological, emotional, or intellectual enhancement.

Let me clarify some options of general enhancement, whereby I will employ the notion of eugenics, but which I regard as appropriate. We have had examples of state regulated and liberal eugenics. State regulated eugenics is the type of eugenics present in the Third Reich, which is morally despicable, and which is regarded as something to avoid today by most, if not all serious, Western ethicists. Liberal eugenics, on the other hand, is being discussed today, as a morally legitimate possibility.

Transhumanists, as mentioned before, also regard liberal eugenics a morally legitimate way of enhancing human beings. Both state regulated and liberal eugenics, however, are heteronomous types of eugenics, which means that people decide about the enhancement of other people. In the case of state regulated eugenics, the state decides, whereas in the case of liberal eugenics, the parents have the right to decide what ought to be done to offspring. Transhumanists seem to identify a further type of eugenics, which I suggest could be called autonomous eugenics. People may decide for themselves whether they wish to be transformed into posthumans by technological means.

According to Nietzsche, individual members of the species of human beings have the capacity to develop only certain limited qualities. It is supposed to be characteristic of all species that their respective members can develop only within fixed limits. Given certain conditions, which Nietzsche does not specify, evolution can take place.

According to Nietzsche, evolution is not a gradual development from one species to another, but takes place in steps. If the conditions within one species are such that an evolutionary step can take place, various couples at the same time give birth to members of a new species. The couples, who give birth to the overman, must have qualities that Nietzsche would refer to as those of higher humans. One of the conditions necessary for an evolutionary step to occur is that many higher humans exist. Normally, a higher human cannot simply transfer his outstanding capacities to his descendants. However, if there are many higher humans and some other conditions are present too, such an evolutionary step can occur.

I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage. Nietzsche

Higher humans still belong to the human species, but have some special capacities, which an overman could also have. However, higher humans cannot pass on their special capacities to their descendants by means of sexual reproduction. By chance, higher humans have the potential they have and, in addition, they must put significant effort into developing their various capacities. According to Nietzsche, Goethe represents the best example of a higher human. Nietzsche’s higher humans are based upon a special nature that they have by chance. Their nature enables them to develop into higher humans, if they realize their potential by working hard at enhancing themselves. Hereby, he particularly stresses the development of intellectual capacities, the ability to interpret. Nietzsche does not refer to technological means of improvement. However, Nietzsche does not exclude the additional possibility of technological enhancement either.

The overman has a significantly different potential from that of higher humans. So far no overman has existed, but the normal capacities of an overman are beyond the capacities even of a higher human. Like every species, the species of the overman has limits, but their limits are different from the limits of the human species. The overman comes about via an evolutionary step, which originates from the group of higher humans.

Nietzsche does not exclude the possibility that technological means bring about the evolutionary step. His comments concerning the conditions for the evolutionary step toward the overman are rather vague in general, but in this respect his attitude is similar to that of transhumanists. However, he thinks that the scientific spirit will govern the forthcoming millennia and that this spirit will bring about the end of the domination of dualist concepts of God and metaphysics, and the beginning of a wider plausibility for his way of thinking.

As Nietzsche defends that the species of human beings has strict limits, it is rather unlikely that the concept of a type of human being with capacities, which have not yet existed, is consistent with his philosophy. Consequently, we can conclude that Nietzsche and the transhumanists share many aspects in their general anthropologies and their values, but Nietzsche’s concept of the overman does not correspond to the concept of the posthuman of all transhumanists. However, there are transhumanists whose concept of the posthuman bears many significant similarities to that of Nietzsche’s overman.

Worldview

Nietzsche explains the relevance of the overman for his philosophy. The overman may even be the ultimate foundation for his worldview.

Nietzsche sees philosophers as creators of values, which are ultimately founded in personal prejudices. He regards his own prejudices as those that they correspond to the spirit, which will govern the forthcoming centuries. “Spirit” here does not refer to an immaterial nous in the Platonic sense, or some ghostly spiritual substance. “Spirit” in Nietzsche’s writing refers to a bodily capacity of interpretation by means of language, which is based upon physiological strength. He distinguishes between a religious and a scientific spirit.

Weak reactive human beings, who cannot fulfill their wishes in the here and now, incorporate the religious spirit, which makes them long for a good afterlife. This spirit was dominant among human beings for a very long time. However, eventually human beings grew stronger and consequently more and more developed a scientific spirit. The importance of the scientific spirit has increased significantly, particularly since the Renaissance. Nietzsche expects this spirit to become even more dominant in the future. As his worldview is supposed to appeal to the scientific spirit, it is supposed to become more and more attractive to the people of the future.

Amor Fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely to bare what is necessary, still less conceal it – all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary – but love it. - Nietzsche

According to Nietzsche, Plato can be seen as a representative of a philosophy based on the religious spirit, Nietzsche as representative of a philosophy based on the scientific one. Christianity, which was dominant in Western countries for a very long time, has to be regarded as Platonism for the people. It is Nietzsche’s intention and need to turn Platonism upside down. He refers to his own philosophy as inverted Platonism. In the same way, as Christian thought has dominated many centuries, his scientific way of thinking is supposed to govern forthcoming centuries. Consequently, inverted versions of the main elements of Platonic- Christian thinking have to be found in Nietzsche’s thought.

On NFT's

the future must be decentralized

Few people have the imagination for reality. - Goethe

Whatever your thoughts on non-fungible tokens or NFT’s might be, you are probably wrong. Whether you are bullish on overall adoption or price appreciation or bearish on the idea of someone wanting to owning a JPEG they can display online.

The fact is, that this new form of tracking and displaying ownership has already changed the way we value things in both the digital world and the physical world. It goes both ways, one might ask how one can take a digital art piece and display it in a art gallery, while another person asks how they can take their physical art and tokenize it on a blockchain.

Damien Hirst has managed to do both with his The Currency collection. Owners of the 10,000 unique dip n dots esque pieces will eventually have to choose between taking physical possession of the artwork or keeping the tokenized version. The game theory employed in crypto would bring a tear to John Von Neumann’s eye.

I remember coming across BTC in 2013 and immediately being intrigued by the idea of a money that was native to the internet. Who likes paying more for things because sellers must pay transaction fees?  

It was not until November of 2013 in my apartment in SLC when I engaged, read the white paper, downloaded a node, bought sone BTC and traded on an online exchange.  Back then all these things felt like the new frontier of finance. One couldn’t simply login to Robinhood and swing trade Dogecoin.

It was an instant teleport to the future. But a very broad expansive future. Solving the Byzantine General's problem allowing for decentralized consensus is not a discovery that leads only to permissionless wire transfers or even digital gold or even un-censorable payments

All those things are vitally important and the Bitcoin decentralization maximalists with their full nodes and paper wallets are providing an invaluable public service, keeping a global independent payment rail open and running. These folks have earned the right to be draconian about how they operate in the world.

They are watchmen on our societal frontiers, but that is not the end of it. That is the beginning of it. Modern society runs on databases that are run by TTPs (Trusted Third Parties). Where are these TTPs? They are everywhere.

Citibank. Google. Facebook. New York City. Hilton. Delta. The Olive Garden. Time Warner Cable. Uber. Amazon. The Social Security Administration. Your employer. Your pension fund administrator. The IRS. The NSA.

For modern society to function at current scale and for *you* to function in it - to travel, to earn money, to vote, to get a cab, to eat, to not be jailed, requires thousands of databases to track you. The convenience is nice, but at what cost?

It is not evil, it is a function of "this is the only way we could do it". In that context, the TTP is who/what decides, in practice, your rights, from trivial to important. From if your hotel reservation is cancelled to whether you can wire more than $100,000 to your brokerage in a day to whether you are allowed to vote in the Presidential election

We take it for granted, because it has faded in the background of our lives, but databases run by TTPs rule everything around us. We are the fish swimming in an database ocean… Memes are the apex object of society, but the architecture and machinery of society in 2021 is an Oracle or Amazon database

So, what is the big deal with TTPs? There is a micro and macro problem with modern TTPs. The micro problem is that they trend to being anti-competitive. Computers lead to economics of scale in data and infrastructure, so firms tend to grow and as they grow, they build a huge installed base of data and data infrastructure that is the main competitive barrier to entry in any modern business.

This is why the antitrust regulators know there is something problematic with FAANG but can't find it. The answer isn't to force them to lower prices (anyway a lot of their products are free) or to try and tell them which products they are allowed to build or not. These are 19th century solutions to a 21st century problem.

If I was ever going to be a regulator and had to solve things in the traditional way, there is a simple solution to these issues. Force companies and governmental agencies to provide first class access to the underlying data. The market will solve the rest.

The macro problem with TTPs and the increasingly centralization they provide is that are increasingly creating easy chokeholds to hijack the whole of society. People have a hard time thinking about this in abstract terms, so here is an example.

Imagine taxis 10 years ago. A fully decentralized industry that effectively knew nothing about their customers. Uber was a revolution and convenient, but its convenience opens the door to a future dictator that can trivially ban someone from Uber/Lfyt/etc, but it would have been nearly impossible stopping them from getting a taxi. So, maybe you hail the taxi next time rather than logging into Uber and waiting for Jason to pick you up…

The same thing applies to Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. They are amazing businesses and I use their products daily. They have brought tens of trillions of dollars of utility into our lives. But they can be easily hijacked by people with centralized power. Centralized power has always led to oppression. When one has power, one NEVER wants to relinquish it.

Most people worry too much about day-to-day trivial risks and do not think enough about abstract consequential existential risks. Day-to-day risks: crime, drugs, money laundering, tax evasion, stepping off the curb.

Existential risks: dictators & tyranny

I'm sure there was crime and tax evasion in pre-Hitler Germany and in pre-Stalin Russia and in pre-Mao China and none of these things caused 1% of the deaths, economics and cultural destruction that was caused by hijacking the machinery of the state. But who will set the price of bread if the state does not have control?

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. - Benjamin Franklin


Is one of the most important things ever written on these matters, Benjamin Franklin was a thinker and a doer. All the American framers were. What happened?

It is of course important to try to reduce day to day societal ills. I am not in favor of crime, but these efforts are double-edged swords when they open the door for the edge risk of someone having the ability to hijack the whole system.

I worry that the world is sleepwalking into highly centralized systems with literally nobody pushing the other side of the equation. China is already over the skylight and sadly, the USA and EU are heading in the same direction. Once the chasm is crossed it will be very difficult to return.

Recap:

a) BTC solved decentralized consensus
b) Centralized consensus is everywhere
c) TTPs cause micro problems (anti-competitive) and macro problems (present existential risks)

What does any of this have to do with NFT’s?

I have been telling everyone I can that "we can now build decentralized social systems”. Yet, every year since then, I have been quite disappointed at what decentralized systems we have built. Sure, a crypto exchange is fun or the new token for video games, but those things do not fulfill the original vision of crypto and the liberty it will bring once fully manifested.

The reason has been that crypto has been highly financialized, incentives matter!

a) the infrastructure has become centralized (exchanges, etc)
b) good ideas are securities violations in the USA, including many ideas I would have done

So, what do our NFT’s have to do with this?

a) They are decentralized
b) They are constitutionally protected free speech 
c) They can represent the nuance of the world, which is non-fungible, not fungible
d) They can be used to build decentralized social organizations

The addressable market for NFTs is not "a subset of the art market", but, in the first phase, all societal intangibles. These represent tens of trillions of dollars and are the coordinating mechanism of society. It is obvious that NFTs are the "internet moment" for art.

The art establishment is going to get turned upside down because it is behaving exactly as conventionally as any other incumbent. It is amusing to see in this "creative" and "counter-cultural" field, but one massive mistake people make, including some of the people I know in crypto, including those who have been around the space for nearly a decade. The scope of NFT’s is not just art it is the world.

Art is just a subset of societal intangibles. The cutting-edge subset, but a subset. So, that will be the next phase, NFTs will be used by companies and decentralized organizations to organize their communities. Unlike customer databases, they are public, they are composable, they are un-censorable.

They solve both the micro and the macro problem with TTPs. If I want to go provide some service to the Crypto Punks, I do not have to ask permission of Larva Labs. I can just airdrop to the holders or use a platform to mint a piece.

This solves the micro problem with TTPs, no antitrust regulators needed. On the macro side, if I were a potential dictator, the same problem exists.

I cannot easily freeze the movement of Crypto Punks because they run on Ethereum, not in the customer database of Larva Labs. It is a vastly more difficult and impractical problem to chase down everyone individually.

We are currently in the intermediate stage.  In time our metaverse of persistent digital objects will become more and more real until it becomes our default reality. This will also run on NFTs and will be our default reality. It is critical to be decentralized

Then comes the things that are less interesting conceptually. This will we bring concert tickets, vacation rentals, hotel reservations, home sales and so on to NFT platforms. This of course will increase market efficiencies and remove many barriers.

But all off-chain assets will require a trusted third-party linkage to come on-chain. So, bringing your Las Vegas rental on-chain will solve economic efficiency problems in the normal way but not any fundamental problems of liberty and societal organization.

All this points to where the next angle of system attack will be on crypto and that is non-custodial wallets. Both the USA and the EU are floating different attacks on non-custodial wallets. This is a regulatory battle we MUST win as individuals. We can concede everything else and still win. 

Whether DeFi governance token Y is a security? Who cares? We simply need to maintain right to hold crypto directly, not in a TTP, and transact reasonably (without insane recordkeeping requirements).

If we can preserve this (which is not a 'won' fight, it is a fight that has just begun EVERYTHING at this specific topic), then NFT’s can take us the rest of the way to Valhalla.

We can absolutely organize decentralized orgs with NFT’s without violating any securities laws and if we can do it, then the magic of the network, of the collective intelligence of humanity will take us the rest of the way

This what I am here for. I enjoy art and I like engaging with friends and I like taking in beautiful art and I like it when the ETH value of my holdings rises, but I like those things in a simple way, like the way I enjoy going to a nice dinner. It is not enough.

The reason that I am laser-focused right now is that there is a narrow window, where we can bend the arc of history, where we can change the path of world history. Now is the time to act, be a Main Character not just an NPC.

On health

hodie mihi, cras tibi

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. - Epicurus

Time is a currency. Health is a currency. Currency is a currency… Things that one values are traded for other things of value, whether those things be physical, digital, or spiritual. Everyone wants infinite time, optimal health, and ample wealth.

Health, wealth, and wisdom is the name I have given my string of essays. I hope you enjoy the polymathic jumps between subjects. Over 20,000 people read these chaotic rants about health, wealth, and wisdom. Thank you all for meandering down the path of infinite ruminations. My mind is an empty vessel waiting to be filled by the infinite nectar of available knowledge within the universe(s).

Recently I have been receiving many notes from readers regarding various aspects of the things I cover in these essays. I enjoy when someone asks me about crypto, but I LOVE when someone shares what is going on with their health and has questions.

Tinkering with ones health is an endless game that can never be won. We are all complex adaptive ecosystems encapsulated in what we call a body. Ones entire being is constantly trying to adapt and evolve to be optimal in whatever environment it finds itself in.

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body. - Seneca

Ones health is the chief currency in existence. Time (youth) is great, but one can have years to live and feel terrible within every moment of those years. Wealth is outstanding, but one can have billions of dollars, yet wake up everyday and feel tired and achy.

HEALTH, dear readers is what we are after.

‘Health is wealth’ is a world-famous proverb that spans time and culture. A healthy body is defined as the overall ability of the body to function well. It includes the physical, mental, emotional, and social health of all individuals. When one maintains good health one opens the key to happiness.

Health

When maintaining health, it depends on multiple factors such as drinking water regularly, exercising, eating healthy foods, sleeping on time, etc. A healthy life also ranges from the people one spends time with to the air around that one breathes. All of the constituent parts of ones existence contribute to ones health and well being.

Health contains myriad essential components. If one of the components is missing, a person cannot remain as optimally healthy. The prime source of happiness and bliss is health. Its a constant struggle to maintain health. As time passes the rate in which one can lose health seems to increase exponentially.

Ah, to age. Aches and pains increase and last longer, stress seems constant, and energy decreases. This is just normal aging, right? NO. These are the symptoms of one leading an unhealthy life. There is no reason one should submit to Father Time in the first round. Nay! One should fight for all the health filled time one can get. Go the distance and let God decide who won the fight…

Components

A healthy body holds major components that aid the optimal functioning of the body. The first essential component is the state of physical health. Physical health refers to the state of being physically healthy devoid of any illnesses or diseases. When one maintains good physical fitness, they tend to have an extended lifespan. The best way to maintain physical well-being is through a prudent diet. The way one eats is imperative to ones overall health and wellness. A diet steeped in processed foods, sugar laden drinks, and industrial oils will cause detrimental effects to ones health no matter how hard one tries to exercise and reduce stressors. Intake of essential nutrients in appropriate quantities helps one manage physical health - plain and simple.

The next essential component is everyday exercise or movement. Not everyone needs to exercise daily per se, just move! To help the body maintain its physical fitness, one must never forget to exercise, even if it’s short intense bouts or long casual walks.

The next health component is mental health or mental well-being. Mental health refers to a state of emotional and psychological well-being of the individual. A person’s mental well-being impacts their emotions and behavior in handling situations. The best-recommended way to maintain mental health is by staying positive and meditating.

Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time. - Seneca

Subsequently, cognitive and social health add equal importance to a person’s overall well-being state. A person maintains their social well-being through effective communication with other people. A person who attends social gatherings and possesses a friendly nature is stated to be socially healthy. Similarly, one’s cognitive health refers to the regular performance of mental processes leading to an effective state of health. To achieve that, one must consume healthy food and play brain boosters such as puzzles, riddles, chess, etc. This helps one to sharpen their brains.

Lastly, try to get an adequate amount of sleep ( 7-8 hours) regularly. This one is not rocket science, turn off the electronics and get some sleep. It is best advised to not use electronics two hours before sleep. Thats right, grab an ol school book and READ IT.

Mens sana in corpore sano

A healthy body is a sign of a healthy mind, while unhealthy body weakens one’s ability to succeed and excel in life. A life of FLOURISHING is the goal. However, there is a stigma about mental health. To be healthy, one must also consider mental health. Psychological well-being is as equally important as physical well-being. When people criticize mental illness, it shows a lack of understanding on how the mind and body are truly connected.

Parents often concentrate only on their children’s physical needs. They dress up wounds and injuries and feed their kids with nutritious food. However, they often fail to notice the crumbling mental health of their child. This is because they do not think mental health is essential. Even among elders, one fails to see their psychological well-being. It is due to a lack of awareness. A strong mental state is a super power in modern times. If one possesses the ability to remain balanced throughout the day one can achieve anything. No distractions, no anxiety, no stress…

Therefore, one must be able to identify the signs regarding mental illness. A laughing person is not always a happy person. Never brush off mental illness as a taboo, instead pay attention and lean in on what is really going on inside your head and the heads of those around you. save people’s life.

Health is the real wealth, not gold and silver. - Mahatma Gandhi

Thus, a healthy person is a happy person. The proverb Health is wealth means that one’s health is the greatest wealth. The definition of health is a state of a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. Strive to achieve equanimity across these various domains to truly lead a life of health, wealth, and happiness.

On muscularity

virtus tentamine gaudet

A gentleman eats without stuffing his belly; chooses a dwelling without demanding comfort; is diligent in his office and prudent in speech; seeks the company of the virtuous in order to strengthen his own ways. (An. 1.14) - Confucius

Muscularity is attractive

Strength rejoices in challenge. The Romans knew what they were doing… on the one hand muscularity signals to women that one is healthy, on the other hand muscularity signals to men that one is formidable.

In a paper titled “Why Is Muscularity Sexy? Tests of the Fitness Indicator Hypothesis,” researchers Martie Haselton and David Frederick asked 141 women to rate different male body types.

Below are women’s average ratings for each male body type in terms of sexual attractiveness (on a scale of 1 to 9):

  • Built: 6.97

  • Toned: 6.87

  • Brawny: 6.37

  • Slender: 5.42

  • Typical: 4.28

  • Chubby: 2.95

In a separate study, women reported that their short-term sexual partners were more muscular than their other partners. The researchers suggest women have fewer requirements for muscular men.

They write, “women were more willing to have short-term relations with muscular men without the requirement that they demonstrate characteristics particularly desired in long-term mates (trustworthiness, emotional closeness, etc.), possibly because these men possessed physical indicators of genetic fitness.”

The researchers then asked a group of male participants about their sexual history. Controlling for age and body fat, muscular men reported greater numbers of sexual partners.

Interestingly, the researchers also asked men about their self-esteem. Maybe muscular men simply feel better about themselves. This higher-self esteem could explain their higher sexual success. But the evidence didn’t support this.

Muscular men, regardless of their self-esteem, had more sexual partners. Finally, researchers asked a different group of men, “How many times have you had sex with a woman who had a boyfriend or husband at the time you had sex with her?” Muscular men reported more affairs with women who were in committed relationships.

The strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must. - Thucydides, “History of the Peloponnesian War” (c. 400 BC)

Women fawn; men cower

Researchers have found that a man’s physical formidability is a better predictor than his attractiveness for how many partners he has had. So, looking tough is more valuable than being handsome all else being equal.

In the study, researchers recorded short videos of 157 different men. Next, another group of men watched these videos. Researchers asked them a question about each of the men in the videos: “How likely is it that this man would win a physical fight with another man?” They used a scale ranging from “extremely likely” to “extremely unlikely.”

A group of women also viewed the videos. They responded to a question about each of the men: “How sexually attractive is this man?” They used a scale ranging from “extremely unattractive” to “extremely attractive.”

Eighteen months later, the men in the videos completed a questionnaire asking about their sexual history over the 18 months. How tough a guy looked to men predicted his reported mating success better than how attractive he looked to women. The researchers concluded, “Men with higher physical dominance, but not sexual attractiveness, reported higher quantitative mating success.”

In fact, some evolutionary psychologists have argued that throughout human history, dominance has been more important than attractiveness for men’s mating success.

Take beards for example. Evidence is mixed about whether women find beards attractive. Some women like them, others don’t, and for others it’s a toss up. But there is clear evidence that men view other men with beards as more intimidating than clean-shaven men. Beard can often signal one being more free and less restrained than others.

Or take deep voices. Women are likely to think deep voices are attractive. But in comparison, men are even more likely to think deep voices are intimidating. A little Barry White anyone?

In a widely-cited paper titled, “Beauty and the beast: mechanisms of sexual selection in humans,” David Puts presents evidence suggesting that male competition has had a stronger effect than female selection on male physical traits.

Male competition has given rise to male traits like strong muscles, deep voices, and facial hair. Men evolved these traits not so much because women find them sexy, but more because other men find them intimidating.

Muscles = health

In a paper titled “Men’s Bodily Attractiveness: Muscles as Fitness Indicators,” researchers led by Patrick K. Durkee the University of Texas at Austin collected responses from 503 women and 942 men.

They wanted to estimate women’s and men’s size preferences for each muscle. They found that overall, men and women think bigger muscles are more attractive than smaller ones.

But some muscles are viewed as more important than others. The top five muscles in order of size preference, as rated by women, include:

  • Obliques

  • Glutes

  • Abs

  • Biceps

  • Shoulders

Researchers suggest, "women prefer muscles that are hard to build to be larger than muscles that are easier to build." Interestingly, men’s ratings of size preferences were larger than women’s. Said differently, men thought bigger muscles were better, while women didn’t have quite the same preferences. They wanted big muscles, but not too big.

This sex difference may be in part due to the findings above revealing that dominance (rated by men) is more important than attractiveness (rated by women) for sexual success. Bigger muscles might not be highly attractive to women, but they’re certainly intimidating to male sexual competitors.

Attention

Both women and men take greater notice of men who look strong. Researchers have found that, with all else equal, people spend more time looking at individuals who look more formidable (strong, able to impose physical costs).

They suggest that formidability may be a feature of others that the human mind has evolved to detect, in the same way that we have evolved to automatically encode people’s age and sex when we first meet them.

Furthermore, people can instantly and accurately assess the formidability of others. The same group of researchers collected photos of 64 men, as well as measures of their handgrip strength.

Next, they showed shirtless photos of these 64 men to 187 participants. The participants looked at the photos and then provided their ratings of how strong they thought the men were.

Researchers found that after viewing each image for only 33 milliseconds (about 0.03 seconds), participants’ ratings of how strong the men looked were correlated with how strong the men actually were, as revealed by their handgrip strength measures. People instantly and accurately estimated how strong the men were.

The researchers suggest, "formidability may begin to influence the course of social interactions almost as soon as they have begun.”

Strength

In a study on cardiovascular (heart) disease, researchers collected data from 1,104 male firefighters over the course of 10 years. They found that men who were able to do 40 push-ups or more had a 96 percent reduced risk of heart disease compared with men who could do less than 10 push-ups.

Perhaps more surprisingly, push-ups were a stronger predictor of whether a person would get cardiovascular disease than an aerobic treadmill test.

40 push-ups are much more than what the typical college-aged male can do. One study found the average male in college is capable of between 18 to 26 push-ups. The saying of drop down and give me 20 needs to really be drop down and give me 40!

Thus, one is able to grasp the idea that might is right. Women fawn over muscles because they signify strength, health, and safety. Men fear muscles because they signal ones strength, power, and vigor.

Muscularity isn’t a matter to over think. A man should strive to optimize muscularity to increase health and virility, while women should seek mates that display optimal musculature for protection and fecundity. Pumping up, pumping iron.

Loading more posts…