Gists IV


Daniel Lanciana
23 min readDec 27, 2020



  • Camp is Costume
  • “Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic becomes more divisive” (when debating)
  • Ongoing success becomes mediocrity. You need failure to give you the alone time for introspection and improvement.
  • Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. This is an imagined reality. Unlike lying, an imagined reality is something that everyone believes in, and as long as this communal belief persists, the imagined reality exerts force in the world.
  • Romanticism tells us that in order to make the most of our human potential we must have as many different experiences as we can.
  • Brexit. Contradictory moods of the pleasure of self-pity (at being hard done by) and exceptionally grand — between superiority and inferiority.
  • 140 character-or-less punchlines. The internet has killed the joke, humor is all punchline now that the setup of the joke is assumed to be common knowledge thanks to Google.
  • A strong sense that the world was run for, by and on behalf of a very small proportion of its population. This is perhaps the whole problem with globalization and its dark side — kleptocracy. The people harmed by it don’t get to vote in the same elections as those who benefit from it: politicians who drive out the dirty money receive no electoral boost for doing so, rather the reverse.
  • What is progress? Tech advancement? Equal opportunity? Health? Understanding? Moving away from animalistic behavior? Caring?
  • “Worlds of scarcity are made out of things. Worlds of abundance are made out of dependencies. The delta in performance is irresistible, and dependencies are a compelling building block: they seem like just a piece of logic, with no cost and no friction. But they absolutely have a cost: the cost is complexity, outsourced agency, and brittleness.”
  • “I think of our own early human iterations, our lost selves as nomadic tribes crossing fields and forests, now living in cages of concrete, rebar, and plastic, crumbling governance, touch-screens, in a vast warming pot.”
  • “The celebrity selfie is the new autograph.”
  • “A near-obsessive “rage to master” tasks.”
  • Today’s social media-induced “age of outrage.”


  • Candy flip (acid for 5 hours, then MDMA)
  • Bad tables at fancy restaurants nicknamed “Siberia” or the “gulag”
  • Spicy jail (ate something too spicy)


Smart enough.

  • In the early 20th century American psychologist Leta Hollingworth talked about “socially optimal intelligence”, which she associated with an IQ of between 125 and 155.
  • Boyond 155 a “pathology of superiority” can creep in — the dominance of one bit of the brain can affect the development of other parts.

Healthy Habits

  • Sleep. Be consistent — go to bed and wake up the same time daily. Blue light-blocking glasses within 2 hours of sleep. Before bed magnesium to relax, low-dose melatonin, tea.
  • Exercise. 30 minutes of HIIT at least three times a week.
  • Breakfast. 2 large glasses of water each morning (with a pinch of Celtic sea salt) followed by 1g NMN and 1g reveratrol in tablespoon of organic yogurt. No snacking throughout the day.
  • Lunch. Low carb, no sugar. Skip twice a week. Coffee cutoff 8 hours before bed.
  • Dinner. Low carb during the week. Collagen every second day. Stop eating 1.5 hours before bed (time-restricted eating has many benefits).
  • Mind. Meditation / silent reflection, gratitude (e.g. 3 good things happened today), spirituality, eat together and multi-generational connection
  • Misc. End showers with cold water. Don’t sit or stand all day (both unhealthy), frequent breaks to move (e.g. FitBit 250 steps). Sauna after work (if possible). Red light panel each evening. Remove toxic things. Track progress (e.g. FitBit, apps).

Outgrowing God (Book)

  • There is a utilitarian value in faith. Helps bond a tribe, set rules, stability, comfort, community. Also a mean of control.
  • The word “fan” has Latin roots as temple servant or devotee; Christians are just fans of the bible.
  • Darwin required courage to even consider the possibility everything wasn’t created by God. It’s more likely we invented God, than God invented us.
  • Once it was obvious that God created the earth, the earth was flat, and the sun revolves around earth. Never bet against science for truth-finding.
  • Yahweh is derived from the Canaanite storm god
  • Children are evolutionarily wired to believe their parents for survival, which applies to religion. Parents should let children choose their own religion.
  • There is a human bias towards seeing agents for survival, leading to superstition (e.g. weather gods, gods affecting harvest). Pavlovian responses, false positives, pattern seeking.
  • More violent/aggressive religions prosper through conquest
  • The Bible was written over 300 years after the death of Jesus, with the Kind James version compiled from many sources from a larger corpus. Ordinary, fallible humans (i.e. preachers) cherry-picked what to include meaning the text is manmade, not completely divine.
  • West Wing Bible lesson


Every creature alive can make the proud claim that not one of its ancestors died young (i.e. before procreating).

  • Alfred Wallace and Patrick Matthew discovered evolution independently slightly after Darwin. Society reached a point where the discovery was able to be made.
  • Bottom-up evolution manifests as top-down design (e.g. flock flying patterns)
  • The smaller the evolution, the more likely it will be a slight improvement and therefore successful. Improvement is equipment for survival. A long arms race.
  • Evidence against grand design: human eye receptors are wired backwards, hence a blind spot; secondary larynx goes from brain, around heart, then back up — a relic from fish, which is even found in giraffes.
  • A lot of the maximized procreation of the past assumed that food was an extremely limited resource. Hence, energy had to be conserved so you wouldn’t waste energy on things like repair — especially after you reproduced. Not the case for many today.
  • Humans are the only mammals prone to heart attacks!


  • Every time you drink a glass of water there is a high chance at least one molecule passed through the bladder of Julius Caesar!
  • Matter flows from place to place is is momentarily you — but not a single atom in your body is the same as you in the past!
  • Most matter is empty space. Electrons are far too small to matter (pun intended).
  • Every day 50–70 billion cells in your body die. Your body is full of incredible molecular machines!
  • Crystals are 3D jigsaw puzzles bumping into one another. Enzymes are molecule helpers, forming protein knots. Amino acids are a chain of jigsaw pieces folded in a very specific self-assembly way.
  • Smell sensation from molecule crevices in the nose
  • Bottom-up cell division based on simple rules; when cells divide incorrectly it leads to cancer. The body is constantly producing (and removing) cancers in the body.
  • Gene therapy cognitive enhancement (i.e. augmentation) in adults (7+ billion people) to combat aging and for space faring (e.g. radiation and osteoporosis resistance)
  • Rise of psychedelics in Silicon Valley (micro-dosing). Neuro-diversity.
  • New microscope technology allows us to see cells and tissues in greater detail.


  • Weightlessness on the ISS is not because there is no gravity — instead it is because the ISS is falling around the Earth! The moon is also continually falling around the Earth!
  • Earth is relatively smooth. If shrunk to the size of a ping pong ball, Mt. Everest would feel like a fine grain of sand.
  • Given enough time, solid ground behaves like a liquid. This led to spherical planets.
  • More than a dozen physical constants are not understood, but if any were even slightly different the universe will be radically different! Is ours a goldilocks universe that just happens to have the right conditions? A computer simulation?
  • Traveling closer to the speed of light time slows down — a sort of stasis. A future where patients enter stasis to wait for cures to diseases? Time-space tourism (i.e. visit the future)?

Tech Thoughts

  • AI is a business intelligence arms race racing towards human obsoletion
  • Ambient computing. The cloud and moves with you as an ever-present periphery.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) will produce ghosts only you can see. The phone produces voices only you can hear.
  • MaaS (Mobility as a Service) — self-driving cars
  • Future advertising will show you wearing the clothes (“Mirror mirror on the wall”)
  • Machine Learning (ML) bots acting on your behalf on social media obligations (e.g. liking, happy birthday comment) that are indistinguishable from your own behavior (e.g. random delays) — devaluing (breaking) the entire ecosystem.
  • Wikipedia is a consensus mechanism
  • Blockchain is the intersection of math and sociology
  • The network is both the medium and the environment at once
  • Future systems will be decentralized (fault-tolerant, online/offline), fully sandboxed (secure), fully interoperable, have adaptive UI for any format (watch, tablet, billboard) based on rules, be built from mod composition (bottom-up) on widget-like APIs.
  • “People who spend their lives trying to identify all the ways they can extract money from others without quite going to jail. They’re people who are convinced that they are too special for rules, and too smart for education. They don’t regard themselves as inhabiting the world the way other people do; they’re secret royalty, detached from society’s expectations and unfailingly outraged when faced with normal consequences for bad decisions. Society, and especially economics, is a logic puzzle where you just have to find the right set of loopholes to win the game. Rules are made to be slipped past, never stopping to consider why someone might have made those rules to start with. Silicon Valley has an ethics problem, and Hacker News is where it’s easiest to see.”
  • An internet forum that doesn’t suck requires a patient supply of correct information by people who actually know about a topic

OSX Gripes

  • Delete key does not delete in Finder
  • Copy paste in finder doesn’t move files (clones). No easy cut / paste.

Social Media


“People follow for the self-harm, to pick at the longing and thwarted desires until they bleed shame.”

“And following people who appear to do this with ease, who make a talent and a virtue out of being lucky, creates an unbearable feeling of cognitive dissonance in the beholder. It feels like gaslighting. It makes Instagram look like a giant, continually updated portrait of Dorian Gray, stashed in our collective closet, getting prettier and prettier as the world becomes increasingly grotesque.”

“But it enables a false intimacy, too, and a lack of accountability. You can delete someone. You can disappear. The community is a shared illusion that’s real, until it’s not.”


“Marxism and Buddhism are doing the same thing, but at different levels.” — Claude Lévi-Strauss (1955)

  • Buddhist metaphysics can complement Marxist socioeconomic philosophy. Central to both is a schema of diagnosis (life is suffering) and treatment.
  • For Marx, the chief catalyst of suffering is capitalism. In Buddhism suffering is death, loss, attachment (things, people), health, and pain.
  • There is this socioeconomic system that fosters a mechanism of competition between individuals in the quest for accumulated wealth to which the people that produce it have only limited access or no access at all. Through this process, the majority of people are abused, controlled and mistreated, alienated from their human essence — not to mention the exploitation of nature and its resources.
  • Marx saw that capitalism generates an extra amount of unnecessary duḥkha: it keeps people in poverty (relative to the value of their labour), it keeps people unemployed (to nurture competition and to tie the workers to the capitalist), it plays with the health of people (by forcing them to work under harmful circumstances, having to fear pecuniary injury when medical care is necessary) and, above all, it alienates people from the essence of their human existence (by the division of labour and long working hours).
  • Social inequality and horrendous living conditions lead to crime, violence and hatred — this is no surprise. Crime, poverty, alienation and exploitation cause suffering, but not exclusively on the side of the exploited workers. Capitalists live in constant fear of losing their status and their money, so they have to work hard to protect it — what you own, in the end, owns you.
  • Capitalism evolved around the human desire for a meaningful existence, but it offers only short-term happiness. A “Western Buddhist” meditative stance is arguably the most efficient way for us to fully participate in capitalist dynamics while retaining the appearance of mental sanity.
  • Buddhists do not want to eliminate the self once and for all (nihilism), and neither did Marx. Denying that there is a substance to the self, in a deep metaphysical sense, does not imply that there is no such thing that functions as a self. Without anything that functions as the self, there would be nothing that suffers. The notion of emptiness includes the notion of self. The self, too, is empty in that it is exclusively defined by its relations, not some underlying substance. This is the idea of no-self.
  • The realization of inter-being and emptiness (two sides of one coin) generates compassion according to the Buddhists. I am in inter-being with the people around me, I would rather abstain from harming them. Otherwise, I would end up harming myself though the mediate effects of my actions. Capitalism obfuscates this interdependence by fostering a reckless, and mythical, individuality, but in Marxist thought interdependence is omnipresent.
  • Stanford prison experiment both suggested that we live under the tyranny of capitalism because we are either inherently tyrannical beings or because we simply obey. The capitalist system just suits our nature. All signs indicate that we don’t have the capacities for universal benevolent compassion, uncontaminated by a proclivity to evil, hatred and competition. We cannot all live like monks, even if this would ensure that one’s basic material needs would be looked after by the community.


  • William Stanley Jevons explained the problems with barter, and how money solved them, in his 1875 book Money and the Mechanism of Exchange.
  • Jevons outlined four separate roles that money can play. First, money is a medium of exchange, something that everyone accepts and that “lubricates the action of exchange”. Second, it is a “measure” — the way that prices are set out today. Third, it is a “standard” by which future prices may be set. Finally, it is a way to “store” value — it can transport economic value over distances or through time.

Counterfeit Capitalism

  • Predatory pricing enables competition purely based on access to capital to obtain market power. WeWork and SoftBank, with celebrated leaders like Adam Neumann.
  • Bird, the scooter company, is not making money. Uber and Lyft are similarly and systemically unprofitable. This model is catastrophic not just for individual companies, but for their competitors who have to *make* money. Amazon and Walmart have created a much less competitive and brittle retail sector. Netflix’s money-losing business is ruining Hollywood.

“Bad money drives out good.” — Gresham’s Law

  • Endless money-losing is a form of counterfeiting (i.e. deceptive), eventually taking over the entire market and driving out the real commodity. In the 1990s, Worldcom forced the rest of the US telecom sector to over-invest in broadband to compete. Subprime is another example.
  • The politics of money creation is a murky world of extremely confident lunatics. If you are close to power you can get free capital with which you can gamble.

Counterfeit Knowledge

“Incompetent people cannot recognize just how incompetent they are.” — The Dunning-Kruger effect

  • For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. They fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.
  • In many cases incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.
  • An ignorant mind is filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. We are all engines of misbelief.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” — Josh Billings

  • Humans are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous — especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power.
  • Each of us possesses certain foundational beliefs — narratives about the self, ideas about the social order — that essentially cannot be violated. To contradict them would call into question our very self-worth. Any information that we glean from the world is amended, distorted, diminished, or forgotten in order to make sure that these sacrosanct beliefs remain whole and unharmed. Even warping logical or factual beliefs so much that they come into direct contradiction with one another. Calling a sacrosanct belief into question calls the entire self into question, and people will actively defend views they hold dear. These notions can’t be changed unless people are given the chance to shore up their identity elsewhere.
  • People tend to sort ideologically into cultural worldviews diverging along a couple of axes: They are either individualist (favoring autonomy, freedom, and self-reliance) or communitarian (giving more weight to benefits and costs borne by the entire community); and they are either hierarchist (favoring the distribution of social duties and resources along a fixed ranking of status) or egalitarian (dismissing the very idea of ranking people according to status).
  • According to the theory of cultural cognition, humans process information in a way that not only reflects these organizing principles, but also reinforces them.
  • Ignorance is traditionally viewed as the absence of knowledge, with education is the antidote, but some of best techniques for disarming misconceptions are essentially variations on the Socratic method: start with misbeliefs and show the explanatory gaps those misbeliefs leave yawning or the implausible conclusions they lead to.
  • To successfully eradicate a misbelief requires not only removing the misbelief, but filling the void left behind. If repeating the misbelief is absolutely necessary, it helps to provide clear and repeated warnings that the misbelief is false. I repeat, false.
  • How can we learn to recognize our own ignorance and misbeliefs? Be your own devil’s advocate and seek outside perspectives.


  • Corruption in the government contracting world caused by the 1990s Clinton “shrinking government” initiative to transfer large amounts of government work to overpaid private contractors.
  • Building a slothful, incompetent, and highly corrupt shadow government in place of the relatively functional public system they took over.
  • Twenty five years later we’re dealing with a government that can’t govern
  • Trend of offshoring at the federal and state levels
  • Leaner, more efficient, Just In Time (JIT) supply chains under ideal conditions. Fragile. Pooled risk hidden under the appearance of profit.

Immanuel Kant


  • For Moses Mendelssohn enlightenment was the education of our understanding or theoretical faculty aiming at knowledge, in contrast to culture, which is the education of our practical faculty aiming at virtue.
  • For Kant “enlightenment is the human being’s release from self-incurred minority.” We must learn to think for ourselves rather than deferring to the authority.
  • Minority is the condition of children, who do not govern or take responsibility for their own lives but must be guided by others. Minority is “self-incurred” when it is due not (as with children) to the incapacity to direct one’s own life, but instead to a lack of courage and resolution.
  • A culture of enlightenment is a public culture in which people learn to take responsibility for themselves by becoming cautiously confident of their capacities as they also become aware of their limitations.



“Java was simply chock full of clever people who have clever ideas working in an absolutely terrible development environment — liberate them from the environment. I feel the same way about sort of statically type languages — I just don’t like it!

I’m a fan of ideology in many ways. I’m a fan about having values and practices and beliefs that underpin your paths for life. But you gotta recognize the fact that when you adopt an ideology, the trap is that it puts blinders on your head.

And you start thinking that the values that you hold dear are these universal truths. That are true for everyone rather than just your personal truths. I’m very comfortable accepting just the personal truths of Ruby for me. I don’t need everyone in the world to believe those same truth. They’re true for me.

It’s just that for the vast, vast, vast majority of applications that point is so far out into the future or so imagined as it might as well be a fairy tale. There literally are people who deal with a million requests per second, but you need to do different things. You can’t use off the shelf software. But that was always true. Even in the Java days. You can’t use standardized tools to deal with extraordinary circumstances. You need extraordinary tools. If you look at everyone from Facebook to Google they’ve built their entire tool chain internally. Facebook build a new interpreter for PHP. The constraints and challenges that Google face at Webscale are just utterly irrelevant to what the 99% are dealing with. Everything that comes out of, say, Facebook or Google is not. Automatically just thought to be the greatest thing ever.

I think microservices and the hype around it is probably one of the most damaging trends that has hit web development in the last 10 years. Very few things have done more damage to sort of the integrity and the productivity of software development teams. I’m a stout and proud supporter of the majestic monolith example of an organizational tech pattern. It’s not actually a programming tech pattern. Microservices is what you do when you have teams so large that they essentially need dominion over their own domain. Turning method calls into network service calls…and it was a shit show then too!

I think that the single page application front end is a horrifically overused pattern. The crimes against programming humanities that have been done in the service of single page applications are far worse than the ones that have been done in the service of microservices. But then of course, lots of people combine the two. So it’s a fleet of microservices serving a single page application and my head explodes — I would rather retire and fucking make weaved baskets than deal with that shit!

I would say people make things too complicated, period. And it’s tragic, period.

I think that programmers in particular are susceptible to the siren song of complexity and they get this kick out of being able to master and wield that complexity, whether it’s appropriate or not. A sense of intellectual accomplishment that you can figure out the most gnarly shit in the universe.

I call TDD the greatest diet fad that the software development world has ever seen. I love automated testing, but what I don’t love is to drive my development through my tests. I don’t love writing my tests first and then writing my code afterwards. I don’t love having my tests dictate the inner workings off my classes and in my methods to serve some sort of testability purpose.

We usually have about half as much test code as we have production code, and that’s been a ratio that has been surprisingly stable across all the applications that we’ve done.

Instead of stand up a far better use of time it to let developers read updates at their leisure when it fits into their schedule of the day, and then asynchronously communication back and forth if there are blockers. I think sprints and the whole sprint language is absolutely a travesty and a harm to the software development community at large.

We do these synchronizations at base camp every six to eight weeks during a cool downtime where you consider what you do next. And it is in that time when we sync up and we have a chat face to face.

Chat (i.e. slack) it’s a terrible way of working and you don’t realize it until you take a step back and look at how your day is spent and how it’s broken up and the cognitive harm that happens through interruptions. You can’t seem to get two, three, four hours of uninterrupted time without someone pinging and interrupting you.

Instead use write-ups of cohesive, full thoughts, people using actual goddamn fucking paragraphs to describe ideas and proposals, and they put those paragraphs together into form entire, cohesive thoughts. Then letting someone take that in, sit back for more than fucking five minutes, ponder, then respond.

That is all lost. Once you move your collaboration to chat, every person now thinks on a line by line staccato basis and the quality of that thinking is low.

It has all sorts of cognitive consequences to interrupt people constantly during the day to get them to reply to this or reply to that. I think chat has really done tremendous harm in that regards and in some ways we’re still healing our organization from the harm the chat has influenced.

Once you pick up the habit of pinging someone, it is so fucking addictive. You’re, you’re stuck for 30 seconds. Oh, let me pick the Sam because Sam knows the answer, right? With no consideration about whether Sam is in the zone trying to solve a real hard problem. Can you solve it for me? You have no consideration about the cost of that interruption. And because Sam wasn’t just pinged by you, he was also pinged by a bunch of other people, right? Before you know it, Sam has spent his entire day just answering other people’s questions, trying to get into his groove, into his loop, and he has nothing to show for it.

We have a concept called office hours. Let’s say you have someone like Sam who’s the expert in some domain, and a lot of people have questions they want to post up. Sam decides the Thursdays from 10 to noon, you can reserve time with Sam to ask him questions. And do you know what? Most of the time you’ll solve your own problems sooner and you’ll learn more and you’ll be better. You’ll have taught yourself how to fish before it’s Thursday.

To me it’s an absolute insanity that anyone can interrupt anyone else in entire company at their leisure with no warning and no consent.Like you need to set up procedures and protocols for this to be effective.

The fact that people can’t go work done at work that so many people think like I have to show up early in the morning, stay late at night or work weekends cause that’s the only time I can get my actual work done. Well, what happened to my time is I had to spend half of it paying attention to some rolling conveyor belt of chat.

Browser Wars

“The original Internet Explorer team was just five or six people. By the time Silverberg and others decided to rewrite the browser almost completely for version 3.0, released in 1996, the team had grown to 100. By 1999, it was more than 1,000.”

  • XHR tactfully slipped in as part of XML library, even though it’s not tied to XML. Named AJAX 6 years later
  • XMLHttpRequest has inconsistent capitalization that causes headaches in a case-sensitive language like JavaScript; a misnomer as the message does not need to be XML; and built using ActiveX, which only worked in IE on Windows!
  • Despite creating XMLHttpRequest, Microsoft was slow to take advantage of it — hesitating to use it in Hotmail — loosing advantage to Google who used it in Gmail (2004) and Google Maps (2005). A true glimpse of the Holy Grail: web-based programs that ran with the responsiveness of desktop applications.
  • Scott Isaac also invented the iframe HTML tag. It has been speculated that the tag name stands for the Isaacs’ Frame, although Scott has denied this.
  • If your technology has superior reach, it doesn’t need to start out being the best. All you need is good enough.

When It Comes to Security, We’re Back to Feudalism


“Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals. We might refuse to pledge allegiance to all of them — or to a particular one we don’t like. Or we can spread our allegiance around. But either way, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to not pledge allegiance to at least one of them.

Feudalism provides security. Classical medieval feudalism depended on overlapping, complex, hierarchical relationships. There were oaths and obligations: a series of rights and privileges. A critical aspect of this system was protection: vassals would pledge their allegiance to a lord, and in return, that lord would protect them from harm.

Users must trust the security of these hardware manufacturers, software vendors, and cloud providers. Users choose to do it because of the convenience, redundancy, automation, and shareability.

Trust is our only option. Users have no control over the security provided by our feudal lords. We don’t know what sort of security methods they’re using, or how they’re configured. We mostly can’t install our own security products on iPhones or Android phones; we certainly can’t install them on Facebook, Gmail, or Twitter.

Feudalism is good for the individual, for small startups, and for medium-sized businesses that can’t afford to hire their own in-house or specialized expertise. Being a vassal has its advantages, after all. For large organizations, however, it’s more of a mixed bag. IT regulations often require audits. Our lords don’t allow vassals to audit them, even if those vassals are themselves large and powerful.

They tether us like serfs; just try to take data from one digital lord to another. Ultimately, they will always act in their own self-interest, as companies do when they mine our data in order to sell more advertising and make more money. These companies own us, so they can sell us off — again, like serfs.

Today’s internet feudalism, however, is ad hoc and one-sided. We give companies our data and trust them with our security, but we receive very few assurances of protection in return, and those companies have very few restrictions on what they can do.

This needs to change. There should be limitations on what cloud vendors can do with our data; rights, like the requirement that they delete our data when we want them to; and liabilities when vendors mishandle our data. But these days, government has largely abdicated its role in cyberspace, and the result is a return to the feudal relationships of yore.”

Open Democracy


Decentralized democracy, cognitive diversity.

  • Money distortions in America are very problematic, politically and economically. On a social level, people behave that openness of institutions doesn’t matter.
  • In complex societies, the interests of self-preserving individuals and the interests of big, varied groups aren’t always aligned.
  • Model of “mini-publics” — assemblies of a hundred and fifty to a thousand people — which do the work of governing. Members are selected “lottocratically,” (jury-duty fashion) to reflect the range of public interest.
  • The goal is to involve as much of the public organically in as many decisions as possible. This open-democratic process also builds in crowdsourced feedback loops and occasional referendums (direct public votes on choices) so that people who aren’t currently governing don’t feel shut out. Citizens are well compensated for their time in service; they step away from their normal work, as in the model of parental leave.
  • Citizens are free to tune out completely when not in government — but for some period are forced to learn the political process from the inside; compelled to think through influential political decisions in collaboration with random Americans who disagree.
  • An added incentive to not have poorly educated or undiagnosed (and untreated) mentally ill people in society, for they will be selected to server — casting bad decisions.

“The Nordic model deserves admiration but isn’t translatable to the U.S.: doing so would require redefining American liberalism in a way that would alarm many.”

  • In Iceland a small assembly of twenty-five elected non-professional representatives (“liquid” democracy where people bestow their vote to representatives) drafted a document and released it for public scrutiny. Citizens posted online comments, the document was revised, and a final version submitted to the whole country in referendum. Similar to the Singapore democracy or a RFC (Request For Comments) proposal.
  • Bringing hundreds of random citizens together to discuss an issue — comparing their opinions before and after this process. The result is often a convergence of views rather than the polarization that one might expect.
  • Accountability (not anonymous, people’s reputation, bans) to combat trolling. Corruption avoided through large-enough sample sizes from diverse backgrounds. After each decision a vote for appeal, for which a certain threshold percentage of overall voters must vote for to proceed.
  • Government by the people requires institutional development such as civic education and expert consultation (a jury needs to be informed by lawyers and experts). All sides represented backed by independent non-biased fact-checkers (financially incentivized for finding flaws).

“It’s striking that, with all the things that are going wrong in the United States, there’s no mass rebellion here. In France, there were strikes for a pension reform that’s needed. Here, there is such apathy — a sense in which people don’t even trust one another, or themselves, to do anything. So, creating a sense of empowerment, possibility, and self-confidence as citizens? It would be a good place to start.”

IDE (Integrated Development Environment) Wish List

  1. Start coding in 5 seconds (web-version? bundled config?)
  2. Fully featured, ML suggestions
  3. Extensions-oriented, big plugin community
  4. Open source
  5. Run local (i.e. offline mode)
  6. Integrations (Git, languages, build tools, testing, debugging, submitting)
  7. Smart debugging breakpoints
  8. Good examples: IntelliJ, VSCode

Weaponized Narratives

  • Manipulation of cultural narratives to attack shared beliefs and values, sow discord, and create political and social schisms.
  • Unlike physical weapons information is self-propagating, has a global blast radius, and can’t be kept out by a concrete bunker.
  • Successive bombardment overcomes whatever cognitive resistance we can muster and narratives are tailored to exploit our inbuilt biases.
  • Forget the Russians, our media feeds have been conquered by a never-ending barrage of negativity. Instead of imparting wisdom, they dish out compulsive content that plays on our negativity bias.
  • Totally addictive and spreads like a virus, which is great for business, but terrible for balance or perspective. Bad news is a killer product; good news doesn’t sell.

Magic Apps

“Turn your phone from an attention grabbing black hole vortex of anxiety into the magical pocket sized slab of genie glass it was originally meant to be.”

  • You should only what I call “magic apps” on your phone — things that would have seemed like a miracle to someone 20 years ago.
  • The ability to predict the weather, take great photos, summon a taxi, check your bank account, transfer money, call your family overseas, listen to podcasts, get personalized workouts or meditation sessions.