cynicism   389

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Wernher von Braun’s Record on Civil Rights | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
Famously, Huntsville became significantly less reactionary when a lot of old Nazis showed up. it went further than that - von Braun let off a goddamn Saturn V first stage to flex on George Wallace, although only for typically cynical reasons
vonbraun  space  msfc  huntsville  history  cynicism  racism  wallace 
5 weeks ago by yorksranter
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw== on Twitter: "i don't really want to suggest that japan is somehow the inevitable destiny of the west or whatever, and i come close to saying that a lot. but its hard not to when the parallels are so strong."
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

kitada's chapter in fandom unbound is exceptionally good and maybe worth price of book alone
2 replies 0 retweets 9 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

it confirms a suspicion i've long had that heightened meta-awareness tends to breed increased cynicism, and that a culture that increasingly emphasizes insidership is going to eventually eat itself alive
2 replies 0 retweets 7 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

like a lot of the things i read these days its very difficult to concisely summarize but there is also a striking part where he discusses 2chan and its increasing obsession with right-wing politics.
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

the original ironic spirit of 2chan becomes dominated by an monomaniacal obsession with exposing the hypocrisy and faithlessness of reporters and left-wing politicians, and draws in more pedestrian and partisan users as a result.
1 reply 0 retweets 4 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

some of these users became so comically obsessed with asahi shimbun that they would invent pizzagate-esque theories for why it would do even trivial things
1 reply 0 retweets 4 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

at the end, kitada concludes that this is actually a logical conclusion of irony itself. irony is ultimately about differences between content of information and the form in which it is delivered. hence 2chan users often obsessively focus on hypocrisy and moralizing.
1 reply 0 retweets 7 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

but at a certain point this diverges from any kind of meaningful critique and becomes an end in and of itself. people from different backgrounds maintain a shared connection because they are cynical about the same things (such as asahi shimbum's motivations for publishing x or y)
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

moreover, the charges of hypocrisy or bad faith become not so much candor as much as just ritualized displays of what the online community considers to be truth-telling. in other words, cynicism becomes romanticism.
1 reply 0 retweets 7 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

kitada, interestingly enough, locates the origin of this cynical style in a "cynical intimacy" with mass media. this is distinguished by (1) tv shows where viewers are supposed to be familiar more with meta-text than text and (2) increasingly tabloid-like "normal" media
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
5h5 hours ago

the first is a kind of japanese precursor to tv shows like 'family guy', where viewers bond over prior 'sincere' tropes that then become fodder for parody. communities are built around endless dissection of cliches and gimmicks.
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

the second is a simultaneous dissociation between content and form of 'serious' media: japanese media post-1980s becomes more clickbait-like and incapable of being taken seriously. so viewers begin to treat it like they do the parodic cliches and tropes in the comedy shows.
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

the genius of kitada's analysis is really that he suggests that forums like 2chan are communities built around an holden caulfield-like rage against 'phonies' that is, surprisingly, the product of an ironic detachment induced by media exposure.
1 reply 0 retweets 7 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

at first that ironic detachment manifests as just the application of tvtropes-like logic to mass media. but then real life itself becomes fodder for the ironic style, as users take random incidents between nobodies and make them fodder for culture war-ish dissection.
2 replies 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

all of this is just kitada's description of events in japan that occurred 15-20 years ago. but much of it feels oddly current at least as descriptions of how social media in the US works.
1 reply 0 retweets 6 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

perhaps what is best about this is that kitada takes an opinionated but also sober perspective. he does not moralize about 2chan. but at the same time he also refuses to buy into their own self-constructed mythology.
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

he sees 2chan as just the leading edge of what 'net culture in japan ultimately becomes as a product of a more 'cynical' era. and that this cynicism, which ultimately mutates into a search for community and emotional stimuli, is an adaptive response to media consumption.
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

the scary thing for me is really how much this mirrors the cultural environment of my generation, roughly speaking.
1 reply 0 retweets 6 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

by my mid to late teens popular entertainment mostly was based on ironic consumption of various sorts, from the jon stewart show to napoleon dynamite. all of it based in some way on mocking of tropes or cliches rather than original content.
2 replies 0 retweets 6 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

today of course its difficult to take much in the news seriously because similarly of a mass tabloidization and willful lowering of standards . and we react to that increasingly the same way we do tropes and cliches elsewhere.
1 reply 0 retweets 3 likes

QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus

i don't really want to suggest that japan is somehow the inevitable destiny of the west or whatever, and i come close to saying that a lot. but its hard not to when the parallels are so strong.
6:49 AM - 29 Apr 2019

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Jamie Pastore
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Innacurately-Sized Liopleurodon

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New conversation
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

if there is any reason for optimism in that, its that all of the problems that interested people like azuma and kitada mostly became less severe as otaku aged and the country faced different challenges and opportunities.
1 reply 0 retweets 6 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

as a last note this is also a reason why speaking and reading foreign languages matters. i'm just sketching out notes i took on an english-language chapter. that chapter is a subset of longer material that has not been translated. it cites material that mostly is not translated.
2 replies 1 retweet 14 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

for all you know, there very well be something else someone wrote in a different country that totally speaks to some problem you are having or feeling you are going through. and you may never be able to read it because you aren't fluent.
1 reply 2 retweets 9 likes
QWRhbSBFbGt1cw==
‏ @Aelkus
4h4 hours ago

one of my mutuals said at one point that books are the closest thing we have to a video game strategy guide for real life. lack of foreign language proficiency is like only being able to look up 1% of the walkthroughs
elk  media  cynicism  fans  fakenews  twitter  society  japan 
11 weeks ago by yorksranter
The Problem with Cynicism - The Book of LifeThe Book of Life
Cynics may look like people trying very hard to see the facts as they are; in fact, they are trying even harder to insulate themselves against pain. The origin of their stance is not worldly experience and insight; it is – rather more poignantly – psychological trauma. Somewhere in the past, there will probably have been a blow to their hopes that felt too powerful to handle.
psychology  debotton  bookoflife  defense  cynicism  schooloflife 
march 2019 by emmacarlson
‘The Inventor’ Review: The High Price of Good Intentions| Sundance 2019
It may be a Silicon Valley ethos to “fake it till you make it” but Holmes lacked the humility and the honesty to say, “We haven’t made it and it will take an unspecified amount of time until we do. Hard things are hard and revolutionary technology doesn’t happen overnight.” Instead, she constantly worked to further her deceit and cover up her company’s inability to fulfill its promises.

However, it’s also difficult to see The Inventor as a story about Silicon Valley since Holmes largely got her money from private investors who didn’t look at her books rather than venture capitalists who would demand a full accounting. There are certainly stories to tell about the toxic culture of Silicon Valley and how it facilitates fraud, but The Inventor never seems like the best vehicle for it.

Instead, The Inventor is at its best when it looks at how Holmes conned respectable figures who bought into her narrative rather than taking a hard look at the data. The cautionary tale at the heart of the movie isn’t about self-delusion in service of noble ambitions, but how smart people can be hoodwinked by those noble ambitions. No one wanted to look too closely at Theranos because Theranos was aiming to do something good.

It would be nice to think that victims of con artists are simply greedy. But as The Inventor shows, it’s just as easy to be conned by someone pushing good intentions. And perhaps that’s a darker con because rather than preying on our avarice, it preys on our conscience.
Theranos  Elizabeth  Holmes  Silicon  Valley  Con  Grift  Cynicism  Business  CA  Tech  Blood 
january 2019 by dbourn
Sam Byers on Twitter: "Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating."
[referenced thread:
https://twitter.com/jack/status/1071575088695140353 ]

"Jack’s thread on Vipassana meditation is fascinating.

It’s significant, I think, that he sees it as a practice that is of value primarily when he returns to work. He likes it because it enables him to refresh and then return to doing more of what he did before.

There is no suggestion, in his thread, that he regards his personal practice as being part of any wider, more selfless contribution to life and the world. It’s simply a method of personal betterment, a hack.

He’s also, it seems, unable to let go of metrics. He wore his Apple Watch and thingummyjig ring throughout and regards the data he gleans from those devices as objectively significant - more significant, in fact, than any inner insight he might have achieved.

Throughout, there’s a distinctly macho emphasis on discomfort. He emphasises the pain of sitting, the mosquito bites, the tough guy willpower and endurance he had to summon.

He’s at pains to labour the point that this is not easy, or gentle, or something anyone can do. It’s tough, it’s gritty, it’s for the hard core.

And then he returns unchanged, determined to do even more work and, one presumes, keep getting richer.

I find this intriguing because I think it’s indicative of a very specific cultural and economic moment in which very old and very traditional belief systems are effectively ransacked for anything they can contribute to the modern cult of productivity.

No emphasis here on empathy or compassion, for example.

This doesn’t tell us a great deal about Vipassana meditation, but it tells us a huge amount about the belief system that is Silicon Valley tech-bro capitalism.

It is closed, highly individual, inward-looking, metric-driven, proud of itself.

It’s easy to see how the practice of meditation, which seems so solitary, even solipsistic, when poorly framed and understood, might be appealing as an adjunct to this world view, but the way these ideologies and practices intersect merits a lot of unpicking, in my view.

I would also say that the replies are pretty fascinating too. People are extraordinarily proud of their cynicism, and their ability to communicate that cynicism with wild hostility, as if this in itself is part of some kind of holistic world view.

When in fact those replies are just the *same* solipsistic, cynical, and very western mindset redoubled and reflected back.

So the whole exchange becomes a kind of pissing contest to see who can be most sure of themselves.

We’re right at the toxic intersection, here, of co-opted “eastern spirituality” and vapidly unquestioning capitalistic self-certainty and the result is frankly wild - just a total shitshow of confusion and anger.

Nothing new of course. Post sixties hippie capitalism is by now so entrenched as to be the norm, but the whole thing is hugely illustrative on all sides and merits a great deal more thought than, ironically, Jack’s medium will allow.

It’s also important to remember that Vipassana meditation doesn’t “belong” to Jack - it’s an ancient and significant tradition. Using that as a means to ridicule him actually just winds up ridiculing a whole big chunk of culture as an unintended consequence.

Short version: it *might not* be possible to interrogate spiritual materialism using... non-spiritual materialism."

[full text of referenced thread:

"For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar 🇲🇲. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th. Here’s what I know 👇🏼

Vipassana is a technique and practice to “know thyself.” Understanding the inner nature as a way to understand…everything. It was rediscovered by Gautama the Buddha 2,500 years ago through rigorous scientific self-experimentation to answer the question: how do I stop suffering?

Vipassana’s singular objective is to hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it: instead of unconsciously reacting to feelings of pain or pleasure, consciously observe that all pain and pleasure aren’t permanent, and will ultimately pass and dissolve away.

Most meditation methods end with a goal of strengthening concentration: focus on the breath. This was not Gautama’s goal. He wanted to end his attachment to craving (of pleasure) and aversion (of pain) by experiencing it directly. His theory was ending attachment ends his misery.

Imagine sitting on a concrete floor cross-legged for an hour without moving. Pain arises in the legs in about 30-45 minutes. One’s natural reaction is to change posture to avoid the pain. What if, instead of moving, one observed the pain and decided to remain still through it?

Vipassana would likely be good for those suffering chronic pain to help manage it. That’s not the goal of course, but definitely a simple practice to help. Being able to sit without moving at all for over an hour through pain definitely teaches you a lot about your potential.

Meditation is often thought of as calming, relaxing, and a detox of all the noise in the world. That’s not vipassana. It’s extremely painful and demanding physical and mental work. I wasn’t expecting any of that my first time last year. Even tougher this year as I went deeper.

I did my meditation at Dhamma Mahimã in Pyin Oo Lwin. This is my room. Basic. During the 10 days: no devices, reading, writing, physical excercise, music, intoxicants, meat, talking, or even eye contact with others. It’s free: everything is given to meditators by charity.

I woke up at 4 am every day, and we meditated until 9 pm. There were breaks for breakfast, lunch, and walking. No dinner. Here’s the sidewalk I walked for 45 minutes every day.

The 2nd day was my best. I was able to focus entirely on my breath, without thoughts, for over an hour. The most I could do before that was 5 minutes. Day 6 was my worst as I caught a nasty cold going around the center. Couldn’t sleep from then on but pushed through til the end.

On day 11, all I wanted to do was listen to music, and I again turned to my favorite poet, @kendricklamar and his album DAMN. The greatest effect coming out of silence is the clarity one has in listening. Every note stands alone.

Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country.

The highlight of my trip was serving monks and nuns food, and donating sandals and umbrellas. This group of young nuns in Mandalay and their chanting was breathtaking and chilling.

We also meditated in a cave in Mandalay one evening. In the first 10 minutes I got bit 117 times by mosquitoes 🦟 They left me alone when the light blew a fuse, which you can see in my heart rate lowering.

I also wore my Apple Watch and Oura ring, both in airplane mode. My best meditations always had the least variation in heart rate. When I wasn’t focused, it would jump around a lot. Here’s a night of sleep on the 10th night (my resting heart rate was consistently below 40).

Vipassana is not for everyone, but if any of this resonates with you even in the slightest, I’d encourage you to give it a try. If in the US, this center in Texas is a great start: https://siri.dhamma.org/

And if you’re willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar: https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schmahimar

Thanks for reading! Always happy to answer any questions about my experience. Will track responses to this thread. I’ll continue to do this every year, and hopefully do longer and longer each time. The time I take away to do this gives so much back to me and my work. 🇲🇲🙏🏼🧘🏻‍♂️

I’ve been meditating for 20 years, with the last 2 years focused on vipassana. After experiencing it in Texas last year, I wanted to go to the region that maintained the practice in its original form. That led me to Myanmar.

I took this time with a singular objective of working on myself. I shared my experience with the world with the singular objective of encouraging others to consider a similar practice. Simply because it’s the best thing I’ve found to help me every day.

I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.

This was a purely personal trip for me focused on only one dimension: meditation practice. That said, I know people are asking about what Twitter is doing around the situation, so I’ll share our current state.

Twitter is a way for people to share news and information about events in Myanmar as well as to bear witness to the plight of the Rohingya and other peoples and communities. We’re actively working to address emerging issues. This includes violent extremism and hateful conduct.

We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region. I had no conversations with the government or NGOs during my trip. We’re always open to feedback on how to best improve.

Will keep following the conversation and sharing what I learn here. 🙏🏼"]
jackdorsey  buddhism  religion  meditation  compassion  empathy  metrics  gamification  spirituality  quantification  vipassana  sambyers  individualism  materialism  capitalism  us  self-certainty  solipsism  cynicism  siliconvalley  californianideology  ideology 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Why boring government matters
November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages.

John MacWilliams is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who becomes the risk manager for the department of energy. He regales Lewis with a horrific catalogue of all the things that can go wrong if a government takes its eye off the ball, and provides the book with its title. Asked to name the five things that worry him the most, he lists the usual risks that one would expect — accidents, the North Koreans, Iran — but adds that the “fifth risk” is “project management”.

Lewis explains that “this is the risk society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.” In other words, America will suffer if it stops caring about the unsung but vital programmes that decontaminate billions of tonnes of nuclear waste, fund basic scientific research and gather weather data.

That trap, he makes clear with instance after instance of the Trump administration failing to heed or even meet with his heroic bureaucrats, is what America is falling into now.

We should all be frightened.
books  book_reviews  boring  bureaucracy  bureaucrats  cynicism  government  Michael_Lewis  public_servants  risks  technocrats  unglamorous  writers  short-term_thinking  competence  sovereign-risk  civics  risk-management 
november 2018 by jerryking
Electronic Dance Music is not for rebels – it’s for tyrants and drones | The Spectator
Stop the presses! Conservative magazine hates the beep boop!

There's a bit of juice here that shouldn't be ignored, however:
The corrupting influence of money.
Requirement of drugs to enjoy the scene. (aka "making a good time of the terrible time you're really having.")
Emphasis of dj-as-celebrity and not music and scene culture.

Most of these have been cited by Ishkur as toxic influences in EDM 15+ years ago.
I think it's strange that only now other people are noticing.
Perhaps it takes people dying for people to notice.
djing  edm  dance  sad  music  scenes  feminism  sexism  cynicism  marketing  drugs  ishkur 
september 2018 by po
I Worked With Avital Ronell. I Believe Her Accuser. - The Chronicle of Higher Education
A culture of critics in name only, where genuine criticism is undertaken at the risk of ostracism, marginalization, retribution — this is where abuses like Avital’s grow like moss, or mold. Graduate students know this intuitively; it is written on their bones. They’ve watched as their professors play favorites, as their colleagues get punished for citing an adviser’s rival, as funding, jobs, and prestige are doled out to the most obedient and obsequious. The American university knows only the language of extortion. “Tell,” it purrs, curling its fingers around your IV drip, “and we’ll eat you alive.”
cynicism  sloterdijk 
august 2018 by oncomouse

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