Fixpoint

2020-01-11

What's on my mind

Filed under: Ego, Politikos — Jacob Welsh @ 20:46

As I continue shaking off the grogginess of a deep holiday blogging slumber,(i) it's time for a tack away from the recent technical series, fascinating as it is, to make room for some other thoughts that have been occupying my head the past couple days.

There were the occurrences of Mr. Ragavan dropping out of our academy and Mr. Datskovskiy reversing his previous confidence in its Master, based on an alleged lack of capacity for independent judgement. The matter was explored quite nicely I thought by Will Haack and commenters; all I really have to add is my own perspective, a narrow selection from the many available facts that I found most relevant, that I may shed light on myself as well as the subject.

I agree with Diana Coman's comment, as I understand it. MP asked her to stop advertising for the #asciilifeform channel; Datskovskiy took this as a demand to tune him out altogether, seemingly so he could consider his prediction fulfilled and sustain his view of MP as an unreasonable and overreaching madman. I'm not presently sure how I should interpret the invitation to leave, though I wasn't especially tuned in to begin with based on time constraints; I'm not inclined to contribute to building a Berlin Wall, as he puts it, if I don't have to, but at minimum it would give me pause about signing up for his ISP service knowing that I could be kicked out on such grounds.

The specimen of deductive reasoning that Datskovskiy took for finding a spine: it's not because it's not; I don't see the need; I'm not convinced; I don't think it conforms to idea. I'm not too surprised by Ragavan's attitude after how he spoke in our own main interaction. I will note that I don't hold it against anyone for having doubts. I know my own grasp of philosophy and what TMSR is really about remains limited; I've been wrong about plenty of ideological things; and we're all limited beings striving to navigate a complex world. As far as I can see, if he had wanted to avoid getting quite so tied up in knots, his best bet would have been to communicate more, or more clearly. This is a point that I still quite need to keep in mind myself.(ii)

What's been more on my mind though are some different relationships altogether. To be continued...

  1. I see myself as having been something of a compressed spring; once released, I overshot the neutral state, doing no writing at all, and am now having to pick back up the habits of time-sensitive existence. [^]
  2. As for instance about my getting stuck on drafting this article. [^]

2019-11-27

Early history of me, part 6

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Paidagogia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 18:22

Continued from part 5

Another eventually-successful parental negotiation involved my music studies. While my violin skills had advanced substantially from ages six to twelve, both solo and in orchestra, and I enjoyed performing, I had never quite accepted the burden internally, and the rigors of daily practice continued to grate. It probably didn't help that my parents weren't demonstrating much musical discipline themselves. If you want to raise a Wolfgang Mozart, it helps to be a Leopold Mozart, y'know?

At the same time, I'd dabbled a bit with the piano, because it was there, and it called out to be tackled properly. I convinced them to let me switch; we found a local teacher (at greater expense, if I recall, for having to look outside the organization) and I pursued the study with vigor. Unfortunately this only lasted about two years until we couldn't seem to make time for it among the increasing demands of school.

Some words about extended family would seem in order to round out an overview of my childhood. There was one set of grandparents surviving, my mother's side, who had retired about an hour north (a seemingly interminable drive at that age) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.(i) We'd visit every month or two. I liked them better than my parents did, probably due to less historical baggage on one hand and their inclination to spoil me on the other. When I slept over I'd be able to watch cartoons and play with Grandpa's Mac (with color display!) for hours. They had an affinity for the Arab world, having spent their careers as professors at the American University of Beirut. "Sittou" as we called her was the only churchgoer (Lutheran) in the clan, while Grandpa was a kind of tolerant non-believer. There was an uncle with family that I'd usually see at the grandparents' place.

On my father's side there was an elder aunt and family in Maine; due to the distance we'd see them yearly, at least in the good years when we could afford the vacation. They had picked up the tab on a coastal summer cottage that had been in the family a few generations; I remember with great fondness the change of scenery, climate and pace afforded by these trips; the smell of pine forests and ocean.

While all sorts of details could be relevant to the story of childhood, I will close this series with one that made a distinct mark on me and my generation: the events of the morning of September 11, 2001 and subsequent descent into war on an emotion. It was a school day in the sixth grade. The administration's first reaction was to say nothing, but by lunchtime a growing list of names was being called to report for early pickup, and rumor spread: "the country is under attack!" The superficial facts became clear soon enough, if not the interpretation. Following my parents I was skeptical of the official narrative; LaRouche had even spoken of the possibility of a "Reichstag fire" i.e. false flag event, before it happened. Whatever the Bush/Cheney administration's negligence or even complicity may have been, things played right into their hands. There was an upswell of patriotic fervor, with the songs, "United We Stand" posters and "Fight Terrorism" bumper stickers. I noted the blue skies vacant of contrails as civilian flight was suspended in the following weeks, and the later conversion of airport "security" from this quaint thing with X-ray machines to the complete exercise in humiliation that the inmates now take for granted. As the war whoops escalated, the average low-information voter didn't seem to perceive a difference between supposed Saudi hijackers, Taliban, or Saddam Hussein. Someone had to pay and it didn't much matter who. It marked the beginning of an end of innocence, both in the culture as a whole and my relationship to it.

  1. Perhaps most famous for its battlefield, regarded as the turning point of the American Civil War. [^]

2019-11-26

Early history of me, part 5

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Paidagogia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 17:13

Continued from part 4

Lest I paint too bleak a picture of a flat landscape in the public school system, special-needs options started to be offered around the fourth grade for those afflicted by working brains, namely honors classes and once-weekly programs with pompous acronyms whose meaning nobody remembered like FUTURA and SPECTRUM. These provided welcome relief, but remaining surrounded by a crowd that was none too interested in that whole learning thing, and probably resentful of being subjected to it, was still draining. And even in the honors classes, I found the ever-expanding homework burden full of silly, pointless or repetitive drudgery. Around the eighth grade I chose to drop my "straight-A" record to make more time for my interests outside school, which by that time had gravitated toward computer programming.

I sometimes complained to my parents about the situation. Why not the local private school where my friends from the organization went (by financial support from extended family)? Why not home-school? Such entreaties would be dismissed in the "yes, but" style.(i) While they did help pressure teachers and administrators into better supporting me, questioning the system itself was off the table. I see it as a kind of passivity from assumption of helplessness, lacking adequate consideration of what might have been possible or weighing of longer-term costs among proximate ones. When high school came around, there was finally a more serious option of a full-time magnet school;(ii) the proximate cost was being in the next county over with a lengthy bus commute. They rejected this on the first pass, hoping the local situation would improve. To their credit, they came around once it clearly wasn't improving and I got in as a sophomore transfer; unfortunately this meant having missed out on a number of freshman bonding experiences.

To be continued

  1. That "well, yes, but..." was a phrase often cited by LaRouche regarding the avoidances of potential recruits. [^]
  2. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. [^]

2019-11-25

Early history of me, part 4

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Paidagogia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 17:31

Continued from part 3

There was none of that IV drip of brain sugar known as television in the household. My parents were quite concerned with the developmental effects of screen time, especially of that aimless and passive sort; movies and video games were fairly restricted as well. As intended, this directed my entertainment desires to books. My father's reading to me became a cherished evening tradition, and I eagerly took up reading myself as I became able, with interests tending toward fantasy adventure and a bit of science fiction.

While I loved the family time, a sore spot for me is the amount of time spent being not-raised by not-them. Like many - I'd venture to say most - American kids of this era I was "institutionalized", with daycare from an early age (around one year, if I recall) feeding right into preschool, kindergarten, then school proper. I'm not too clear on how this compares to global or historical norms, but my understanding is that the crowded environment makes individual attention difficult and the constant change in caregivers disrupts bonding. "Because I said so" and "life's not fair" are the typical explanations I remember from the preschool authorities. While the unfairness point is perfectly true, I see its usage more as code for "I feel overworked and underpaid and can't be bothered to help you think through your kiddie problems." Not that solving one's own problems isn't important either, but I don't know... how much reflection or social finesse can you really expect from four-year-olds, especially if it hasn't been well modeled? The typical justification for this outsourcing is Money; the only difference in my case is that it was the Mission.

I don't well recall if or how I expressed myself about the preschool environment at the time, but as time went on the deficiencies of the cookie-cutter approach of the school system became evident. One story (handed down as I didn't recall it myself) was the third grade teacher asking, "What solid has the same shape on every side?" An eager me: "Actually, there are five:", proceeding to rattle off the 'hedrons with correct pronunciation that my eighth grade geometry teacher later wouldn't manage. Teacher: "Yes Jacob; but the third grade answer is the cube." Peer: "That's right Jacob, this is third grade!!11" Me: "That's right. Third grade, not kindergarten." Then in the sixth grade, there was that "science" teacher who earnestly believed the moon orbited the earth every 28 hours and criticized me as "argumentative" (something my parents were delighted to hear).

To be continued

2019-11-24

Early history of me, part 3

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Philosophia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 17:16

Continued from part 2

The kids were all sent to conventional schooling of one sort or another, I suppose to be properly socialized in the "outside" world, which I've been starting to see as nothing but the inside of the larger cult of 'Merica - the more nefarious one for its scale and pervasiveness in the environment.

The organization hosted a day camp in the summers between school sessions. I remember these fondly for the most part; there was instruction in music, visual arts, drama, and some hands-on variety of math or science, punctuated by lightly organized sport, swimming, and at least some time for unstructured outdoor play.(i)

Not all was rosy, to be sure. The idea of an inner spark of goodness present in every human,(ii) that just needs the right sort of love and attention to kindle, played out bitterly in at least one way. Many families had put off childbearing well past their prime years for the sake of fighting the war, and realized too late either that they wanted kids or that the "about to win, any minute now" wasn't working out. Some, such as my own parents, made it work; others not so lucky turned to adoption, generally from the offerings of more-dysfunctional countries.(iii) Of these, some worked out fine, at least as far as the naked eye could tell; others did not. The camps were plagued by severe behavior problems from these, who would seek attention of any kind by being maximally disruptive and wasting everyone's time. And why shouldn't they anyway, with the "adults" perceiving themselves to have no options and nobody taking a serious stand to put a stop to it?

For my part, I thought of myself as a good kid and was eager to please. My home life, in continuation of my parents' own upbringings, was non-violent; I hesitate to say "peaceful" because there's always conflict of some sort, naturally. Voices were almost never raised, and disagreements generally worked out through discussion (though not always free of emotional "reasoning"). In my case conflicts centered around things I actively disliked doing, such as chores, trying new foods, and setting toys aside when the time called for it.(iv) My mother was the disciplinarian of the household, while I felt I could count on my father more for cooler evaluations of difficult topics.

To be continued

  1. Something I gather has been almost entirely disappearing from modern childhood in this not-so-brave new world of "safetyism" and touchscreen entertainment from the earliest years. [^]
  2. Possibly originating from LaRouche's high regard for Christianity (though he didn't require any particular religion or non-religion of members). [^]
  3. For reasons I'm unsure of but suspect to be ideological. [^]
  4. Things I still sometimes struggle with - go figure! [^]

2019-11-23

Early history of me, part 2

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Philosophia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 17:29

Continued from part 1

While I lacked the knowledge to grasp the teachings or follow the affairs of "the organization" at a deep level, I loved the community and intellectually lively culture it provided, and engaged as best I could. We were at the "national center", which in the 1980s had fled the New York City rents to the then-small town of Leesburg, Virginia,(i) and provided a "critical mass" with other kids to befriend and helpful grown-ups who could teach on a variety of topics.

Like any good religion, music played a major part of daily life, regarded as a focused activity to train the mind and also providing pleasure and bonding. The focus was heavily on Classical music, with its emphasis on beauty and sophisticated harmonies (counterpoint) rather than the repetitive chord progressions of popular music. In fact, music was regarded to have healing powers, at least in a spiritual sense; there was no soul so lost that a sufficient application of Bach couldn't lift it back up, or so the theory went. There was a weekly chorus for the children, though the coaching didn't get much past the elementary; I had a good sense of pitch but never quite got the hang of projection and vibrato, and was fairly self-conscious about singing solo. I was also subjected to enriched by violin lessons, a more difficult and correspondingly rewarding pursuit.

Outside these mandatory activities, my interests got me into a geometry class with the adults; they used it as practice of what I gather to be their Platonic views, such as the process of creative discovery conceived as the mind becoming aware of something it already contained, and superiority of the "mind's eye" to direct sensory perception. "Accept nothing that you have not constructively proven for yourself" was one teaching. I also received private tutoring from a fellow who liked building things, reading classical physics texts and reproducing experiments. Among other projects we managed to build a working demonstration of magnetic levitation. As with music solving inner problems, it was believed that advanced technology could solve all economic problems, if only it were given proper respect and state financing of course.

To be continued

  1. Not so small anymore after the huge growth of the Washington, DC area, fueled as I understand by growth of the Federal bureaucracy and decay of industry elsewhere. [^]

2019-11-22

Early history of me, part 1

Filed under: Ego, Historia, Vita — Jacob Welsh @ 17:06

A principal authority in my early years, until somewhere around age 14, through the natural channel of parental involvement, was the American self-styled philosopher and statesman Lyndon LaRouche (1922-2019) and his organization.(i)

They used various names for different branches of their efforts, from the ever so Soviet sounding "National Caucus of Labor Committees" for the activist core, to the "Schiller Institute"(ii) for larger philosophical, artistic and political outreach. It was a high-pressure environment for members, with promises of immanent collapse of the global monetary-financial system on the one hand, and a new renaissance uplifting the world from poverty and realizing the glorious potential of mankind on the other. Once committed, one was expected to give everything one had, and then some, to the cause. It was effective at least in terms of putting out vast volumes of printed material, attracting a sizable audience, running numerous election campaigns (though not especially successful), and keeping the operation more-or-less afloat for decades.

At least to my young self, the man was impressive in speech as in writing. He hailed from an earlier era, before the generations raised by television with 45-second attention span, could hold forth for hours on a wide range of topics with deep vocabulary and historical knowledge, and would expect you to keep up.

To be continued(iii)

  1. The "attempt to predicate the meaning on an authority predicated on the meaning" description would seem to fit. [^]
  2. After 18th century German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller. [^]
  3. As before, I'm on a daily deadline in order to keep the pen moving. [^]

2019-11-21

Analysis of "The road to Ossasepia" series

Filed under: Ego, Writing — Jacob Welsh @ 18:41

diana_coman: anyways, it's easy then: do a re-reading tomorrow and extract theme, structure and scope for the road to ossasepia series,(i) write them analytically bullet-point style and then see what you can say about them

The overall themes I see in the series are the journey, the internal struggle, relationships, and vulnerability.

The attempted scope was the events of my time in the channel from joining to acceptance with enough context to make sense of them.

The overall structure was narrative, starting with exposition on background concepts then proceeding to my initial state, my interactions in and out of channel, and ending with results. In detail:

Part 1:

  • Opens with a quote from my entry to the channel, representing the beginning of this journey and middle of larger one.
  • Sets up for explaining the meaning and context of the quote and the events to follow.
  • Introduces TMSR through a summary of what I understand it to be about.
  • Introduces the concept of the forum through a summary and reference.
  • Hints at the structure of the hierarchy.
  • Introduces Diana Coman in this context, though not much is said about who she is otherwise.

Part 2:

  • Turns the focus to me, and in particular where and how I'd gotten myself stuck, by my present understanding and with reference to some TMSR terms of art.
  • Introduces Robinson, somewhat obliquely.
  • States the dissonance, the decision, the plan, and early steps (without much detail)

Part 3:

  • Describes my heading to the castles, learning about YHC and deciding to focus my attention there.

Part 4:

  • Describes my struggle with the reading and decision making.
  • Illustrates some interactions in channel and privately.

Part 5:

  • Analyzes causes for my hesitation and how they were dealt with.

Part 6:

  • States my next steps upon applying.
  • States the criticism of unbalance in the form of weakness or avoidance in talking about myself.
  • Itself comes across as a reversion to this pattern, presenting a rather dry account of events without shedding light on my own experience of them.(ii)
  1. Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [^]
  2. And indeed I wasn't all that enthused to dig back into it now, which precisely shows that it's an important exercise. [^]

2019-11-13

The road to Ossasepia, part 6

Filed under: Ego — Jacob Welsh @ 09:02

Continued from part 5.

With my worries put to rest as best they could be, I ended up following Robinson in applying. Since I had a number of articles to write already, which I had thought to be chiefly my technical backlog, I first wrote a plan to list and briefly summarize them. The plan itself took longer than anticipated, and the content raised alarms: it painted a picture of unbalance, like a man with one arm much stronger than the other, in a similarity to asciilifeform's case. The Marquess further emphasized the connection of technology and politics, in particular, that just publishing code and documentation would not suffice due to the large unknown of who I am. To start to address this she proposed an interview, which was completed; as I wrote afterwards,

giving a high-level view of my life story, with some back-and-forth, then answering questions for which my reading and mulling had at least somewhat prepared me. After over three hours of conversation, I found myself with a new Master and, not to waste any time, a blogging assignment drawn from my own plans to recount my steps in setting up the blog, a subsequent one to reflect on my month in the channel, and advice on the writing process.

2019-11-12

My present understanding of the WoT, part 2

Filed under: Philosophia, Politikos — Jacob Welsh @ 09:00

Continued from part 1

In the envisioned society in which all parties one might want to do business with participate in the WoT, there are many ways to gather deeper information from it beyond merely what is said in the ratings; for instance, how well connected a subject is to the evaluator's own network, relative to how that subject ought to be connected based on his claimed history. Or one might draw completely different conclusions about the subject from what a rater claims, based on knowledge of the rater. To not be present in the WoT at all, once of a sufficient maturity to protect one's key, is to be an un-person, an outcast, perhaps even more so than today's "undocumented" or "stateless" persons.

Even in its present form, many of the benefits of the WoT are already available; it has enabled substantial volumes of online commerce, and indeed it serves as a kind of filter for people who are both sufficiently intelligent and aware to find out about it, and who seek to accept the burdens and reap the rewards of a world of personal responsibility. If the concept works as well as is claimed and participants use it diligently, along with the other elements of economy, then it's not a stretch to imagine WoT-society continuing to grow in wealth and power until it's the only game in town.

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