- jeffscouted1 week ago
It may seem strange that the DoD is telling Americans to distrust all official narratives in a bid to bolster its popularity. Yet we’ve entered the age of “psyop realism,” as Günseli Yalcinkaya writes in Dazed, in which we are all “targeted individuals under the shadowy control of the Influencing Machine.”
A riff on Mark Fisher’s capitalist realism, “the widespread acceptance that there is no alternative to capitalism,” psyop realism affirms its conditions of possibility by acceding to the ontological crisis of our post-truth era, a time where the terms of reality are interminably up for grabs.
I love reading about this stuff.
Lujan popped up in my YouTube feed a few days ago and I was captivated immediately. In an appropriately meta fashion I first saw a video about her before then being recommended videos from her own channel. The original video was called "On The E-Girl Army Psyop Phenomenon." How could anyone not click on that?
There's obviously a lot to unpack about all this, so in true post-truth fashion I'll just share some of my initial reactions without trying to make sense of everything or frame it in terms of right and wrong:
- Lujan's a talented content creator and the aesthetics of her videos are peak internet culture/psyop realism.
- It's probably a good thing for more people to be thinking and talking about propaganda in general.
- I'm honestly impressed that the army allows and/or encourages her to do what she's doing. It seems risky but smart. Edgy, even. Not exactly the kind of thing one would usually expect from a large, conservative institution.
- I guess that means the psyop has worked on me.
- jeffscouted1 month ago
This was a frustrating read but I think it's a worthwhile topic. I also really like Sapolsky but completely agree with Tse:
“However, a person can be both brilliant and utterly wrong.”
First off, I don't think most people who believe we have free will would assert that we're in complete control over how we respond emotionally to a movie or that we operate independently of our environment. The question is whether or not, or to what extent we have any agency over our own actions. Saying that we have none whatsoever requires a much better argument than the ones put forth in this article or any other that I've read.
Actually instead of a better argument, how about some evidence? What I find truly astounding is how quick some brilliant neuroscientists are to draw conclusions about large, complex topics like consciousness and free will from small, simple studies looking at individual neurons. Brains are not computers or any other kind of machine that we understand and I think it's absurd to make such big proclamations about something we know so little about.
- jeffcommented2 months ago
This article was published 10 years ago but is still relevant and a super interesting read. The open web lives on but I'd say that gauging its health is difficult and the advent of AI systems built on large language models poses yet another threat to it.
Many of the trends away from the decentralized web towards apps, walled gardens, and subscriptions continues, but at the same time it's also easier than ever to buy your own domain name, setup your own website, and create your own content. Getting paid for that content isn't a solved problem but I don't expect it ever will be.
Even the largest centralized services like YouTube and Spotify offer both ad-based and subscription-based products. There's a fundamental tension between wanting your content to be both discoverable so that people find it and restricted so that people have to pay for it. It's difficult to find the right mix and consumer demands and tastes change over time.
Overall I'm optimistic for the future of the web. Chaos might not be a business model but it breeds novelty; something we all crave that I don't think any one product or company can supply indefinitely.
- jeffcommented4 months ago
Really great article that I thought presented both sides of a difficult and controversial topic very well. I sympathize with Gaudiani and I'm sure she has come across cases of anorexia that were "terminal" in the way she describes it, but overall I strongly agree with her critics that her methodology would do more harm than good and establish a dangerous precedent. I don't mean to liken those suffering with anorexia to criminals, but I feel like Blackstone's ratio somehow applies here:
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.
I think the knowledge that even a few people who might otherwise have eventually recovered will instead be labeled "terminal" and killed by their doctor is just completely unacceptable. As with the death penalty it is unavoidable that mistakes will be made and I feel that the consequences of those mistakes completely outweigh any potential benefits of the practice.
- jeffscouted4 months ago
Fantastic article! It kind of feels like a spoiler to quote the final words of the piece but I think it sums it up perfectly and doesn't take away at all from what is a highly engaging read:
We’ve let health-care systems provide us with the equivalent of greasy-spoon fare at four-star prices, and the results have been ruinous. The Cheesecake Factory model represents our best prospect for change. Some will see danger in this. Many will see hope. And that’s probably the way it should be.
I've only been to a Cheesecake Factory one time over 10 years ago. I had never heard of the place and went with a group of friends and it was a great experience. I wouldn't hesitate to go again but the closest one is 45 min. away and they're always packed by design so you need to get reservations or risk a long wait time.
I'm sure there are some areas of medicine where such tradeoffs would be desirable but there does seem to be a limit to how much you can scale and replicate a good model before the qualify starts to suffer. When that happens you're then stuck with a giant centralized monopoly that's impossible to change and might be worse than what you started with.
- jeffscouted4 months ago
Interesting interview! Some of the responses seemed a bit overly-diplomatic, but I suppose that's going to be the case when you're constantly being attacked on all sides by all sides. Sulzberger clearly has both an impossible and immensely important job.
One of my favorite parts of the exchange was about how journalists now spend their working days and how that has impacted their perspectives and reporting:
Are you saying that’s changed? That reporters are just sitting in rooms in front of a screen? I don’t think that’s the case.
Of course it’s the case! It’s the least talked-about and most insidious result of the collapse of the business model that historically supported quality journalism.
- jeffcommented5 months ago
I'm not convinced that the "plutocracy vs. democracy" distinction is relevant and to be a bit controversial I'll add that I think it might even be unproductive. I also don't think the Citizens United case was that big of a deal. Let's pretend for a moment though that it was possible to get money out of politics. What are the laws and policies that low and middle class voters would want to have implemented?
I agree that the shrinking middle class is a big problem but I think a lot of it can be explained by the offshoring and automating of manufacturing and other low-skilled jobs. The only options I see for dealing with those realities are to either re-shore those jobs through tariffs or get better at producing more highly skilled workers.
I feel like the conversation should be centered around those kinds of tangible issues rather than more abstract concepts such as plutocracy and modern day serfdom. On a macro level trade and education policies have real impacts and real tradeoffs that need to be discussed so that difficult compromises can be reached. On an individual level believing that you are powerless and cannot improve your life because the country is run by a cadre of elites conspiring against you will only decrease your chances of success.
- jeffscouted5 months ago
A good thought for the weekend!
Great write-up! This starts out as a fawning review of the technology which is definitely super impressive but Thompson gets real at the end about some of the drawbacks.
I’ll be honest: what this looked like to me was a divorced dad, alone at home with his Vision Pro, perhaps because his wife was irritated at the extent to which he got lost in his own virtual experience.
That part stuck out to me too in a negative way. I'm surprised Apple kept it in the presentation. The only use case I found interesting was using the headset to watch a movie or get work done on a flight which seems way too niche for the price tag.
Everything else to me seemed like a step back. FaceTime is worse for everyone you're talking to because they can't see your actual face. Getting work done on a computer requires ergonomic input devices and I couldn't imagine not being able to look out a window every now and then to give my eyes a break from the screens. Am I really going to want to strap this thing to my face just to swipe through some pictures or browse the web?
The court-side sports experience sounded interesting at first but is that really better than sitting on a couch watching the game with your friends? The whole thing just seems so isolating and unnecessary and I don't think Meta's cartoon Facebook alternative is any better. Even though we're growing more isolated as a society I don't think these devices will ever take off and may (hopefully) instead become a turning point where we realize the value of real human connection instead.
Interesting perspective and worth the read. I'm squarely on the sidelines in this fight but I find myself nodding along with Sullivan as I usually do. I know he makes a living stirring things up on the Internet but I appreciate his generally pragmatic/grounded/centrist point of view.
I hope this article is right! The supposed national security risks are not "self-evident" to me at all. The threats of misinformation and manipulation go far beyond TikTok or any other single platform or information channel. It's something we need to learn to live with and navigate. Pretending it can be banned is foolish and only makes us more susceptible.
Extremely important research and findings! Also, I learned a new word today.
A growing body of quantitative research indicates that some school-based mental health interventions can cause iatrogenic harm (adverse effects from the treatment approach itself).
It's a good thing that researchers are studying this since on the surface level the idea of promoting mental health initiatives in schools probably sounds like wholly good idea to many people.
I also appreciated that the researches highlighted the opportunity cost of programs that are merely ineffective. Mental health care is a big topic but as with all aspects of health it seems to me that investing in prevention should at the very least always be part of the conversation.
Time is taken away from other activities that could potentially be more enjoyable or more conducive to better mental health for adolescents, such as physical exercise, extra time to sleep in the morning or free time to socialise. We should be very cautious about the idea that providing any mental health intervention in a school is always better than not providing one at all.
Great read! This was published last year and provides a lot of important context and recent history leading up to the invasion.
- jeffcommented8 months ago
Hands down one of the best things I've ever read. There's so much depth and so many layers to this story that I feel like a proper response would have to be an entire article in itself. That said, I think I'm generally pro Remem but I'm not sure exactly how I'd use it.
We don’t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.
- jeffscouted9 months ago
Really great article and interview! Rushdie's backstory is super interesting. Plenty of great quotes from him as well.
Many years ago, he recalled, there were people who seemed to grow tired of his persistent existence. “People didn’t like it. Because I should have died. Now that I’ve almost died, everybody loves me. . . . That was my mistake, back then. Not only did I live but I tried to live well. Bad mistake. Get fifteen stab wounds, much better.”
- jeffscouted10 months ago
Super interesting article! It's nice to read such a nuanced take from the French point of view.
Many of the debates here take place as if in a parallel universe, eerily familiar but with several illuminating differences. They are a useful prism for contemplating the excesses and limitations, as well as the merits, of the social-justice fervor that has gripped the United States.
Not great news for software engineers! The numbers for job openings was worse than I was expecting but I thought the layoff percentages would be higher. It seems like this could point to a faster recovery when some of the big companies lift their hiring freezes, but who knows when that will happen.
I have mixed feelings about this. Definitely a worthwhile read and something that is good to at least be peripherally informed about. I think it's generally good to apply public pressure to governments to treat their citizens (or in this case migrant workers) better but certainly no country has anything even close to absolute moral authority.
An incredible story about a truly remarkable individual.
According to other mathematicians, Zhang is working on his incomplete result for the Landau-Siegel zeros conjecture. “If he succeeds, it would be much more dramatic,” Peter Sarnak said.
This article was written in 2015 and Zhang just published a mysterious paper on the topic a few weeks ago: Number theorist may have proposed a solution to the Landau-Siegel zeros conjecture
Great reporting! This is some scary stuff.
So much stranger than fiction. I am kind of curious what the pillows feel like.
Dark is an understatement!
A disturbing glimpse into the insane internal politics of the documentary film industry. The levels of ignorance and cowardice on display by industry professionals is sickening, as is the complete lack of respect that the filmmakers who are protesting the documentary have for the viewer.
This might sound like an overreaction but I'd encourage everyone to listen to Sam Harris's interview with Meg Smacker for more context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rec9wVWa1IA
- Update (10/19/2022):
Happy to see that she set up a gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-unredacted-jihad-rehab
- Update (10/19/2022):
Super interesting read!
Seems like pretty solid advice in this context!
One of the most horrifying diseases on the planet.