Monthly Archives: March 2015

Exponentially Growing Cooperatives

Random idea:

What if you did the following: start an organization to help workers buy out their employers. Workers write in if they’re interested, the organization reviews applications, and then uses the funds available to help the workers with the most viable proposals. This doesn’t come in the form of a loan; instead they just buy the business outright and let the cooperative get started without the workers needing to raise capital, and without any debt.

The twist is this: they have to write into their charter that the business will never back off from worker control, and that it will permanently set aside a portion of its profits to go back into the cooperative buying fund. I’m thinking it would have to be net profits, so that if a cooperative is struggling to make ends meet they’re exempt. Don’t want to drive allies out of business after all. This would mean that it would take a while to start actually recouping the money given to a business. However, the plus side is that once a cooperative does get going, it’s a long-term income stream. So while you’d have to start out with a decent amount of capital, once the system got rolling there would be a steady funding stream available. The more cooperatives you helped start, the more money would be coming in.

This is analogous to the recent proposal to reform public universities in Oregon: instead of making students take out loans to pay for their education as they receive it, they sign up to give a certain percentage of their income to their alma mater over a longer period. Thus students who are struggling aren’t burdened by debt, while students who do very well can subsidize the next generation’s education. It moves away from a simple transactional arrangement, where a student or a cooperative is given a loan that they eventually have to pay back, and towards a social contract type arrangement, where resources are simply transferred from those who have them to those who don’t, with the expectation (contractually enforced) that if the have-nots become haves, they will pay it forward.

This gets around one of the big problems with trying to change the economy using cooperatives: they don’t tend to expand very much. While a conventional business has the incentive to expand forever so long as each expansion adds marginal profit, a cooperative only has the incentive to expand as long as they’re increasing, or at least maintaining, their average productivity per worker. This is because if gains are spread reasonably evenly among a cooperative’s employee-owners, any expansion that decreases average productivity would tend to decrease the gains per each existing worker. So unless workers are devoted to expansion for non-financial reasons, there is a tendency for cooperatives to stay small and focus on promoting the interests of people already involved, rather than pushing for wider change. This is great for members of those cooperatives, but less helpful for society at large.

This model could start benefiting workers by creating new cooperatives almost immediately, and would automatically be on track to grow indefinitely; first slowly, and then ever more quickly as more cooperatives begin paying back into the fund.

Thoughts? Reasons this would be a disaster? Tweaks (or major overhauls)? Offers to give me a million bucks to get started on this?

PS Additional Co-op resources:

http://www.co-oplaw.org/

http://www.theworkingworld.org/us/


Sunshine Rainbow Explosion

image


Release your burdens

image


Objective Morality

In response to this: http://merechristianitystudyguide.blogspot.com/2008/12/c-s-lewiss-three-arguments-for-moral.html

They make good points about how human morality, as we observe it, doesn’t seem to be just totally subjective. Their problem is that they jump right from morality not being totally subjective, to there being an objective morality baked into the universe.

There is no objective standard for morality.

However, there are plenty of objective standards for human well being. As long as we can agree on those, we’re set morality-wise.

So let’s try to give people as much life, health, and happiness as possible.

If you’re on board with that, I’m happy. If you’re not even in theory on board with the idea that giving people longer, healthier, happier lives is what we should be striving for, then I’m not happy, and my assumption is you’re a bad person. If anyone disagrees please let me know, and I’d be fascinated to discuss what morality means if separated from that goal.

So while there’s no objective standard of morality baked into the universe, clearly there are objectively better and worse ways to produce the outcomes we want. Firing a machine gun into a crowd of people is morally wrong in the sense that it is a really stupid way to produce those outcomes. Feeding starving people is morally right, in the sense that it’s likely to produce more life, health, and happiness than if you didn’t do it.

So we define “good” as “what’s good for people’ and “bad” as “what’s bad for people”. Of course if you just don’t care about people, this won’t mean anything to you, but that’s just the way it is. Obviously it’s at least possible for there to be minds that have very different morality from us. Maybe convergent evolution towards certain kinds of social norms would make our kind of morality understandable to an alien intelligence, but there’s no guarantee. And why should there be? What if the species was solitary and had the same relation to it’s children as a tree does: just blasting out seeds and figuring some will make it. There’s no reason it would develop love or compassion or altruism (the question is how it would have developed intelligence at all other than the intellectual arms race of living in complex social groups that gave rise to our intelligence).

So if you care about people, do some research and try to figure out what sort of thing objectively promotes human flourishing. That’s the closest you’re going to get to objective morality. Use that knowledge to advocate for the social order you prefer, and if others accept the basic premise that human flourishing is good, you should all be speaking the same language.

Most moral thought seems to be about trying to figure out a good justification for why we should care about people / people other than ourselves. This can come in the form of religion (“because god says so!”), or Kantian ethics, or whatever, but none of those do anything but push the problem back a little bit. Everything has to be justified in terms of something, and if you don’t have a moral sense, moral reasoning will be lost on you. My solution is to push it back to the moral axiom of “as humans, we want good things to happen to humans”, and accepting that I simply live in a different moral universe from anything that doesn’t agree.


Celebrating Spring

My last few trips I’ve been suffering from the weather being cold. March 12th was the first beautiful spring day that I had totally free, and so it became a celebratory acid trip.

I've thought a lot about these owls

I thought these fence posts looked like owls talking to each other.

The seasons are so complex. I’m feeling the warm spring sun through the cold winter air. It’s subtly different from feeling the cold winter sun through the warm autumn air, even if the temperatures are technically the same.

10:37 AM

One thing this journal is doing is keeping track of how much acid I’ve been taking: a lot. But I’m pretty convinced by the research that there aren’t any physical of psychological side effects, so what the hell.

10:41 AM

Imagine if we had automatic laser bug zappers we could put them everywhere! There would just never be any gross bugs around, it would be utopia! That capability is right around the corner!

You could leave your windows open all the time in the nice parts of the year!

-Sometime after 11 (I’m boycotting clocks for a bit)

I’ve unconsciously ended up in what I’d describe as a monk-like position, sitting on my crossed feet, out of an attempt to get off the wet ground.

-later still

Hahaha I have come up more since the last time I saw this bench – it’s pretty great!

-late 11’s

... and be free

This was an interesting thing to stumble upon while tripping.

Release your burdens and be free.

Release your burdens and be free.

In “the Godfather” you initially hear the line “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse” said and explained in a story about how Vito got his singer godson out of a contract, with the story being told to another character to demonstrate what kind of guy Vito is. And then after discussion, he says it about someone else, and it’s sort of an “oh shit” moment that neither gets nor needs any follow up, but demonstrates the way they talk about going and threatening people.

-Soon after noon

The difference between treating the floor of your house like it’s the floor outside, or treating it like it’s part of your bed. Not taking off shoes when you go inside, sitting down directly on the floor at times, it something that seems sort of alien to a westerner, used to furniture. But remember your house is your furniture, it should all just be built of a piece to not need such things.

-Phone broken o’clock

The sun is high in the sky

It skewers us under it’s pitiless gaze.

My phone spasms,

Turning off and on again

Uselessly

The life going out of it

This started as a timestamp, it became so much more

How will I present this most effectively to my internet readers?

Hi guys!

Time frozen at phone broken o’clock

Just had a chat with Hillary – done

This thought seemed unfinished but I didn’t have anything more to say.

I can list all the 7 vices because I read those Garth Nix books

Keys to the Kingdom. Spoiler Alert: it’s about this kid who finds out he’s the messiah, overthrows the current regime in the supernatural world that controls everything, and ultimately becomes god.

7 deadly sins what I mean.

Sitcom idea: family that embodies the 7 sins:

Pride – father, bumbling dad

Envy – mother, with her eye on the father’s more successful brother

Lust – oldest daughter, nympho sex positive but actually surprisingly responsible and chill

Wrath – oldest son, will cut someone up, involved in gang or something

Gluttony – third child, daughter, fat and introverted, nerdy

Greed – fourth child, son, most successful in the family, slimeball like his uncle

Sloth – youngest child, daughter, smart but lazy, viewpoint character

It would have to be a dark sitcom. It could be called “Sinful” maybe.

I’m sorry you had to get mixed up in this, I said to my remaining nice green weed about to be mixed up with the already been vaped.

Okay I may have overexplained that one

I’m experimenting with new places to sit. I’ve never lived in this apartment in the Spring or Summer, and really only briefly in the Fall. I’m so glad to be back on the balcony. My latest innovation is that you can just take a cushion out.

What’s today’s date?

The… 12th? Yes

3/12/15

I’m experiencing gastric distress that won’t go away unless I write it down because it feels like I’m lying to the journal.

-mid to late afternoon

-the sun is lowering in the sky

some random long Rare Earth song plays (auto-repeated after the classic “I Just Want to Celebrate”)

5:25 PM

Let’s see – I started at 9:45 AM, now it’s 5:45 PM

So I’m 8 hour in. It is definitely nice to have the sun still shining at this stage of the trip.

What’s going on with the Republican Party these days is what you’d expect where there’s a fixed set of policies you need to support for the money to like you and so politicians…

I forget

6:52 PM

I made these videos on my computer. Let’s check them out.

I like them! They inspired me to make more in the back!

I talked into the camera a lot. Not sure if I should put my image out on this blog. Maybe I’ll do a podcast.

7:32 PM

Hello Spring! I missed you so much!

Hello Spring! I missed you so much!


Mysterious Eyes

Huh?

Was walking down U Street and saw this firmly attached to the side of a building.

Wider Shot

Wider Shot

So any theories on what the hell this is?


The National Botanical Garden is so great I can’t even stand it

I’ve been going around tripping at cool locations in DC while tripping on LSD. First I went to the zoo, then to the art gallery, and yesterday I took a nice trip to the National Botanical Gardens. It was pretty awesome. Italics represent later annotations, plain text is notes I took at the time:

It’s 11:35, acid is under my tongue.

Primitive culture probably has a lot of valuable things to say about nature, especially if psychedelics do produce useful insights, but unless they’ve at the very least grappled with the realities of evolution, I can’t take their ideology seriously.

1:37 PM

The botanical gardens made me think a lot about evolution. I really recommend reading The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, back when he was more focused on biology than on atheism. Really digging into that stuff is SO important for understanding how life works and why the world is the way it is.

OMG so I’m at the botanical garden and it’s just so indescribably wonderful. It’s like someone knew exactly what I was missing in this long, cold winter, and gave it to me.

1:39 PM

I get a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD – best acronym ever) and the botanical gardens were great for it. Warm temperature, lots of plant smells, humid air, bright light, it was glorious.

It is what I’d hope gardens on spaceships would be like

Squeezing a ton of really nice living space into a small 3-D volume. Nice smells, nice place to chill, medicine production, food production even

1:42 PM

If you’re living long term in space you’d want to keep a nice garden / park, and would want to preserve useful plant in it. The botanical gardens have a lot of interlocking paths all through this big cube of space, going in and out of some other nearby rooms, that creates the illusion of a lot of space to wander in a relatively small area.

I’m going to start taking photos for analysis later

1:46 PM

And so I did:

I got really into this plant:

20150302_13470920150302_134715 20150302_134724 20150302_134735

It’s one of those really soft ones, the leaves feel like velvet.

20150302_135855

I thought these flowers were unrealistically blue. They’re some sort of crossbreed super-flower it seems.

20150302_135938

Heh heh, Orlando.

20150302_135942

I was very curious how these would taste.20150302_140853 20150302_140902 20150302_140919

I thought this would be a very disturbing illusion if you lived within that painting, like a two dimensional creature.

20150302_141209 20150302_141230

I salute you Quinine, noble soldier against Malaria.

20150302_141405

Being a plant explorer would be a cool job.

20150302_141632

Spoken like a person who looks at a lot of flowers and is rarely hungry.

20150302_141725

Unsurprisingly, no one was interested in the room with the fake plants.

20150302_142018

I was unbelievably blown away by how these plants hung down.

20150302_142250 20150302_142410

Is there a word for things that have been faked to look like evidence of a real thing? Check out the photo above: it’s made to look like Hawaii, with the land made of multiple layers of lava flows. 

20150302_144159 20150302_144334

20150302_144731

I went out side briefly so when I came back I would appreciate the warmth more20150302_144920

Did you know this is what coffee trees look like? I did not. Apparently practically nothing that we call a bean really is a bean: coffee beans, vanilla, at least one other kind of bean.

Okay

Writing here

Switched to writing stuff on my phone at this point.

I don’t know what level people are expected to enjoy looking at flowers on, but I feel like I am enjoying them on at least that many levels.
2:01pm

Okay unconsidered wrinkle: don’t empathize too much with the plants, or else it really becomes some body horror shit.

2:06pm

I feel like I’m in a starship. There are a couple hippies. I took their picture.

2:56 pm

On acid I always feel like people are giving me weird looks / mugging for the camera like Parks and Rec

3:00 pm

Which I then ended up watching for like 6 hours after I got home. I appreciated what a good message it has for young women.

I just took an hour-ish long tour of the garden. Endlessly fascinating! If you want to learn about life on Earth, this is where to come. Screw zoos and museums and all that shit with having a nervous system. We’ll see if it’s a fad.

The tour guide was really great. She was this nice old lady who was volunteering at the garden. She had an accent like Frank Underwood in House of Cards, but in all other ways was the opposite of him.

Botanical gardens are basically zoos for plants. I find it’s much easier to understand adaptation and evolution when looking at plants than animals. It lets you just think about what the genes are ‘trying’ to do without getting distracted by the somewhat different goal structure of an animal’s mind. Genes build brains to accomplish certain tasks, but sometimes the brains get ideas of their own and feel like they’re in charge.

3:49 PM

Where do flowers come from? Apparently they don’t know they didn’t exist in dinosaur times. They’re an adaptation to animals being a thing. Some plant realized you can manipulate animals ON PURPOSE, get them to choose the best flower, best fruit, spread your genes for you. We are all just helping plants have sex with each other.

3:55 PM

What if speaking a language made you think in a certain way?

Shit it totally does.

But what if that way had to do with how it makes you hold your face, and so it just makes you feel happy or sad to use those words?

Do linguists take that sort of thing into consideration? Because it really does seem like

Got distracted at this point. Think about the fact that your facial expression effects your mood. Not only do you smile when you’re happy, smiling makes you happy, since your brain apparently notices the smile, and figures it must be happy about something. This works for other, subtler, things as well, like squinting puts people in a bad mood. Anyway, I’d assume different languages make you hold and move your mouth in different ways. So what does that do to your mood, or indeed to your personality over the course of a lifetime?

Shit a kid came through acting like he was hurting the plants and I was very upset.

It’s funny comparing this to the art gallery or the zoo. It sort of has aspects of both. Old people, small children, stuff to look at…. social class or something… I will do that analysis later

The classiness of a place is determined by what kind of people like to go there. Zoos are low class because any idiot / small child can get a kick out of seeing cool animals. Art Museums are higher class because they’re less universally appealing – they appeal to people who are into art, which I imagine correlates pretty highly with education level. The botanical garden is sort of in between. 

The main thing I end up watching is other people

That’s still the social environment I’m in.

Is the real reason we have sexual taboos just so that people don’t think too hard about their own goal structure?
4:05pm

Your mind was designed to be an effective tool for your genes to produce copies of themselves back on the savanna. Everything else it does is just a side effect. 

Why is my number in my phone under someone else’s name?

I started typing it so I could text something to myself, and a contact popped up with my number but a different name. Very strange.

My Mind, My Digestive Tract: Two Complicated Systems I Know Little About

I feel sort of bloated, and I feel like I feel that way a lot. I don’t really know what it is.

I keep switching positions and whatnot, but nothing seems to help for that long. It helps to burp sometimes.

And sometimes things that I wouldn’t expect to help, do, in ways that makes me think that it’s psychological? But then other things like the burping make me realize that that’s probably not the case?

Idk, the human body and mind and whatnot are complicated.

4:21 PM

A flower implies an audience

4:25 PM

I’m now realizing all my Facebook posts and shit exist in a format only accessible through facebook. That sucks!

4:26 PM

I have a lot of feelings. Some of them are inside me trying to get out, some of them are outside me and they seem to want to come in.

4:49 PM

I didn’t really think anything that made me think that.

4:50pm

Still feeliand;kjfnaknvkjan kuanvk;uandvkjnadk;jvnajgha;lnvkj;afvkjaf;hkjnajf,nbkjfenb

Just visited the botanical gardens which were really great. Blalh albhalhbkjahbl;ka

Haha, I was getting annoyed at the process of writing at this point.

5:02 PM

I stumbled across this comic and it really spoke to me: http://dresdencodak.com/2010/05/10/evan-guest-comic/

5:10 PM

I cannot recommend Dresden Codak highly enough. The current Dark Science arc works as a standalone, and I reread the whole thing yesterday. It starts a couple pages forward from the comic I linked to. Do yourself a favor and go read it. It’s a great trippy transhumanist alternate reality webcomic. The art is great, and the whole thing warrants careful examination. Tripping was a great state to look at it, both because of the attention to detail it gave me, and the fact that it slowed my reading speed and made me spend more time on each page.

I read about how Huxley or somebody first did a psychedelic drug and went on some rant about drapery, and what a great art form it was.

So definitely my thoughts about bloating shouldn’t be taken uncritically (when they come in a couple hours)

7:31 PM

I had an incredible trip to the botanical gardens. They are just so wonderful. And my house is so lame by comparison. Whenever I trip I come back to the house and feel sort of trapped.

I keep thinking I should just wait until it’s nice out, but then I keep thinking of fun things to do like this. This time for sure though: no more trips until it’s comfortable to chill outside all day!

7:33 PM

Rereading what I just wrote, maybe I should use footnotes? My paragraphs all seem to trail off into parentheticals.

7:49 PM

I think I’ve been having an issue with bloating.

Now if you’re a guy you may not even know what this is.

If you’re a girl you’re rolling your eyes at the existence of guys like that.

I’ve been feeling it on and off lately, and have been fairly annoyed by it, but didn’t really make an effort to do anything about it.

LSD seems to usually make it worse, but mainly in the sense of being hyper-aware, and thus obsessing over any discomfort.

Anyway, so my first revelation was basically just the above: that I should be looking into it at all.

I’ve had a whole interesting experience looking up remedies, because what I discovered was that bloating is a symptom women get during their periods. So I’m looking through all these websites for which I’m not the target demographic. There was plenty of helpful advice. Also I saw things that horrified me.

Think about what an awful feeling bloating is for women in our society: for any guys who aren’t familiar, it makes you feel like your stomach is overinflated, like a balloon with too much air in it (not a bad analogy for the whole gross situation). It seems like it’s not a feeling you’d want to have if you were already having any body image issues, since you just feel fat and overinflated, and well bloated (which makes sense, because how I made this connection in the first place was me googling my symptoms that I “felt bloated” and then realizing that that was already an incredibly common term for the symptom I was trying to describe.)

So this leads to me thinking “Oh hey, maybe I should drink tea instead of coffee today, and oh, I guess I’ll use my (female) roommate’s non-caffeinated peppermint tea, since more caffeine is not needed on acid day (by the way, did you realize that the word “caffeine” derives from the word “coffee”? Me neither, I just made that statement up, but I bet it’s true!)

Turns out it’s from “café”, the French word for coffee.

But then I got distracted (see above) and was looking up bloating remedies again, and the top thing being recommended was peppermint tea.

So clearly this is my roommate’s anti-bloating tea for when she has her period, and equally clearly, I’m not going to talk to her about this.

Anyway, the conclusion of my bloating story was that after looking at the risk factors, I think my issue is that I eat a lot in the evening and then go to sleep with a full stomach. Most likely a consequence of my getting high a lot in the evening. So yeah, cut down in on the munchies, eat a better breakfast to balance it out, onwards and upwards.

7:52 PM

I hate closing tabs on my computer. If I go to check what that tab was, then that page has to load up, and it takes forever. And it takes so long loading that I can’t just go and ex out

When I do LSD what I really get into is well craftedness – like being able to see the intentionality in something, and having it work. I can’t stop seeing the media rather than the substance, so what works is where they complement each other well.

Examples of things that have been great on LSD: Dresden Codak (above), Jurassic Park, Alien, Parks and Recreation.

I live in a row of houses, I always hear people going up and down stairs and whatnot next door, and when on acid it seems like they’re somewhere in my house.

The problem with centaurs is I don’t think they could be born with that spine shape. Just try to imagine it. Or better, don’t.

10:37 PM

How much of our sex culture is driven by getting hangovers the next morning? You’re much more likely to feel regretful. I wonder about the sexual cultures of different subcultures.

And that’s where it trailed off into the allure of my Parks and Rec marathon. Thanks for reading all the way through (or skipping to the end)!