Wait wat?

Since around 2009, methamphetamines have been made with phenylacetone (P2P). Is there a chemical different causing schizophrenia?

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/p2p-meth/

As I was reading those two sentences, my world was just fine… until that very last word. I was ready for death, overdose, addiction, and there are probably a dozen more words that I don’t expect would fit there, but which wouldn’t make me go, “wait wat?” So i started reading…

I quickly realized this article is basically the science behind Breaking Bad. There’s also an enormous amount of “this is not good” information in there. For example, an apparently exponential-function graph of deaths is never a good thing. There’s also a bit of industrial chemistry, and a large scale sewerage treatment plant data collection . . . well, it’s worth the read.

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The only rule

What I learned from reading about writing…

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/2021/02/07/writing-as-a-craft/

This was a fun read and is mostly not the usual titles one sees suggested to read on writing. Among many things, I am a writer. I enjoy learning what appears—in others’ view—to be the right way to do things. The more I read, write, and read on writing, the more I’m convinced it’s just like any other mastery practice: The only rule is that there really are no real rules. Understand the best, accepted practices, (often labeled “rules” to get the newbies to start in the correct direction,) and then later move on to do whatever you please.

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Nonequilibrium?

I don’t know if you like parties. I don’t know if you’re organized or punctual. But I bet you don’t like rotting smells or long swims in freezing water. That is to say: People are different, but only in certain ways. What’s the difference?

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/better-personalities/

This article is about personality types, and it goes down the rabbit hole, (in a good way.) We’ve all learned about the theory of evolution, and there are countless examples where it’s used to explain—or at least to try to imagine—how some specific feature of ourselves came to be so.

Way down in that article he mentions in passing that we—us, the people—might not currently be in equilibrium with the current selection pressures. This was a startling thought for me. Evolution can be fast—a gene mutation leading to a significant change in one generation—but I’ve always had the impression that it is most often slow and steady. I’ve always imagined a big-ship with a small-rudder metaphor. And I’ve always had the impression that who we are genetically, (the big ship) has its rudder set for straight-ahead. I’ve imagined that at some point in our distant past, selection pressures made us who we are as a species, and that was then. This is now, when we’ve been on a stable, no-changes evolutionary course for all of recorded history.

What if, let’s say around the time of the invention of the transistor and computers, the social pressures changed drastically. That is to say: Suppose that introduced a major change in the rudder’s position? Suppose we, the big ship with the big pile of DNA-encoded information, are right in the middle of a slow course change. What if right now, important and noticeable features of our biology and psychology are being strongly differentially selected?

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Doing discourse better

Do conversations have known best practices? How much do they improve the odds of landing on the truth?

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/2020/09/29/doing-discourse-better-stuff-i-wish-i-knew/

I hate this terrific article. It’s completely stuffed with great ideas and great questions… and exactly zero answers. It starts talking about the particular type of conversation where two people acting benevolently are trying to find the truth about something under discussion. (Here I snicker at all of humanity, and myself, because we’ve been having conversations for like a gazillion years and we don’t yet know how to do it well.) It then narrows down to discussing just online conversations. Said narrowing feels like a great idea because there are a lot of online conversations and it feels like something we should be able to be good at. (Again here, snickering is warranted.) Anyway, at least some people are trying. Maybe, just maybe this is the epoch we get it sorted out?

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It’s the little things

That even though we evolved as ruthless replication machines, we’ve somehow risen out of the muck and we currently find ourselves running cultural software that’s way out of sync with what game theory would dictate, and perhaps we can seize the moment and build a civilization that can tame the brutal dynamics that created us.

~ Dynomight from, https://dynomight.net/about.html

Eliding a long explanation, I’ll just say: I hope that’s still accessible by the time you read this. Also, my normal routine is to bookmark stuff and to later—often much later—write a blog post around it. But not this time. This one caused me to drop what I was doing and blog about it… before even having finished reading it.

You’ll instantly see (once you go there… why are you still here?) why it appeals to me. You’ll be way ahead of the average level of science knowledge if you just skim the list. But the big take-away for me is: It’s not at all hard to find things to be thankful for, and I don’t just mean insanely technical things like that which are on that list. No, I mean…

All you have to do is look around, and start imagining changes. Completely realistic changes. Small changes even. And every single thing that we think, “oh, that’s nice,” becomes something to be thankful for.

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