27.1: The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull pre-read w/ Lydia: Alien invasion and a history of capitalism & colonialism. 

We're back? We're back. Mostly.

This month Matt is still out, and Adrian is joined by Lydia, a childhood
friend of his from Homer, Alaska, to talk about the post-colonial alien
invasion story _The Lesson_ by Cadwell Turnbull

It's about life on the US Virgin Islands after an alien sp...


The world is everything that is the case 

![Ludwig started scowling early and never

Ludwig Wittgenstein as a child, 1890s. Plus: the world.

The oldest, simplest theory says you have a list of sentences in your head.
Each is labeled with whether you believe it is true or false. Separately, each
is actually true or false in the world.


Lockdown Review of Books 

This is the list of books I've read so far during the lockdown, although it
includes a few entries from just before things got serious. In fact the first
two I remember reading on my last BART commutes back in February, which seems
like the distant past now.

It's kind of all over the place, for better or worse. I'd like to say it
represents my wide-ranging intellect but it could also just be randomness. But
if you think...


Positive and logical 

![Bertrand Russell in

Bertrand Russell, leader of logical positivism

The great thing about math is that it’s certain. If something is
mathematically true, you can be absolutely sure of it, because a mathematical
proof is unarguably correct.

The set of rules for mathematical proofs is predicate logic, which guarantees
absolute truth, so—some [rationalis...


Elderblog Sutra: 11 

When I started the blogchain experiment in January 2019, I had in mind a
metaphor of a new system of tunnels under an old landscape of skyscrapers,
creating a feel of what I called infratextuality. The decade's worth of
archives from the Rust Age (2007-12) and Snowflake Age (2013-18) would be the
skyscrapers. The blogchains […]


Rationalism’s responses to trouble 

![Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg’s self-operating napkin, colored by [Todd Van

[Rationalism](eggplant/rationalism-definitions#rationalism "Rationalisms are
ideologies that claim that there is some way of thinking that is the correct
one, and you should always use it. Some rationa...


From elements to components 

Last week, I compared the elements of stories to the elements of product
management. Character, world, events, narration and authorial intent vs
business analysis, UI / UX, software engineering / development, project
management and interfacing & integrating. Now, my intention is to further
examine the elements and their makeup and document my exploration using a …
[Continue reading From elements to components


Rationality, rationalism, and alternatives 

This chapter defines some key terms of [In the Cells of the
Eggplant](/eggplant): rationality, rationalism, reasonableness, and meta-


Part One: Taking rationalism seriously 

[In the Cells of the Eggplant](/eggplant) aims to level up
[rationality](eggplant/rationalism-definitions#rationality "Meaningness and
The Eggplant use the word rationality specifically for more-or-less formal,
systematic rationality \(and therefore not as including informal
reasonableness\). Rational methods are explicit, technical, abstract,
atypical, non-obvious ways of thinking and acting, which have some d...


Elements of product management 

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one
wants, and the other is getting it.” I’ve been considering this in the context
of product management. Why do I want to be a PM? Am I playing the wrong game,
for the wrong reasons? I don’t think so. This led … [Continue reading Elements
of product management ->](swellandcut.com/2020/07/24/ele



A blogging collaboration with the machine that will replace me.


To Attack and Dethrone Gods 

Borges was introduced to the original terrorist somewhere between Sir Thomas
Browne and Marcel Schwob. He had no face and a name like a resonance chamber:
Herostratus, arsonist of the second Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; punished
with Oblivion, redeemed by Spectacle. His subsistence, despite his damnatio
memoriae, means Spectacle is not beholden to its […]



Yesterday, I received a surprise in the mail: a pack of Sonya Mann's zines! In
the aftermath, two things struck me. One: I couldn't create something like
this and I'm glad there are people like Sonya who can. Really glad. Two: I
don't really know how to appreciate something like this. The first point
reminds … [Continue reading Tolerance


Why I Write Under My Real Name 

Some reasons why I use my real name online, both personal and with regard to
the truth.


The structure of The Eggplant 

![Structure and function of the

[In the Cells of the Eggplant](/eggplant) is a book in five Parts. They cover:


All-context controls 

Way back when, a tweet from Tiago Forte stuck in my mind (alas, I can't find
it right now). It talked of "critical controls". He definitely listed four:
TIME ACTIONS KNOWLEDGE OUTPUT He may have listed five and included…
COMMUNICATION I added a sixth… SECURITY Because of my forays into product
management, some reading around … [Continue reading All-context controls


Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool 

The uneasy Web 2.0 truce between social networks, legacy media, and brands is
falling apart. Once it was held together by ad tech. But advertising spends
keep going up, brand content is at peak saturation, and audiences are slowly
but surely evacuating the big social media companies. Can the three forces —
social media, content, and commerce — find a new way relate to each other?

Here enters the question of communit...


Notes — Freedom’s Forge by Arthur Herman 

My second deep dive pandemic read is Freedom's Forge by Arthur Herman,
covering the history of the United States' industrial mobilization for World
War 2. There is a good deal of resemblance between the mobilization to beat
Covid (and coming soon: climate) and WW2 mobilization, so it's a good history
to have in your back […]


How can electrons be “topological”? 

The following text is an excerpt from a draft of an article that I co-wrote
for the magazine Physics Today, together with Prof. Art Ramirez at UC Santa
Cruz. The article will appear (edited, and with more professional figures) in
the magazine in September. It attempts to give some intuition about the
concept of "topological" […]

Brian Skinner

A credibility revolution in the post-truth era 

Society is unraveling in the postmodern, post-truth era. Systemic institutions
have lost their credibility and effectiveness. Material progress has slowed.
The science replication crisis and the scarcity of exciting new technologies
are symptoms.


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