Each Sunday I compose a list of the most worthwhile content I’ve consumed during the past week. Primarily as a way to keep inventory of material that influenced me and my way of thinking.
What Is It Like to Be a Bat (1974) by Thomas Nagel. Re-visit.
”To the extent that I could look and behave like a wasp or a bat without changing my fundamental structure, my experiences would not be anything like the experiences of those animals. On the other hand, it is doubtful that any meaning can be attached to the supposition that I should possess the internal neurophysiological constitution of a bat. Even if I could by gradual degrees be transformed into a bat, nothing in my present constitution enables me to imagine what the experiences of such a future stage of myself thus metamorphosed would be like. The best evidence would come from the experiences of bats, if we only knew what they were like.”
”It is difficult to understand what could be meant by the objective character of an experience, apart from the particular point of view from which its subject apprehends it. After all, what would be left of what it was like to be a bat if one removed the viewpoint of the bat? But if experience does not have, in addition to its subjective character, an objective nature that can be apprehended from many different points of view, then how can it be supposed that a Martian investigating my brain might be observing physical processes which were my mental processes (as he might observe physical processes which were bolts of lightning), only from a different point of view? How, for that matter, could a human physiologist observe them from another point of view?”
”Imagine being a fly on the wall for that (relating to a poker game Chevy Chase featured in), you wouldn’t understand anything, you’d be worried about spiders and shit.” – Preeminent philosopher Norm Macdonald
Can ‘Eugenics’ Be Defended? (2021) by Peter Singer, Francesca Minerva et al. As far as academic discourse is concerned I agree with Singer even though I abhor most of what he and his utilitarian ilk espouses.
”In a recent paper by Yeh et al. (2020), researchers found a potential pathway towards a cure of some forms of deafness by using the gene-editing tool called CRISPR. By replacing cochlear implants with an even earlier genetic intervention the two epithets of genocide and eugenics merge. Instead of asking whether we should use such technologies, much of the debate seems to have devolved into a discussion about semantics on whether such approaches to disabilities and diseases should be considered ‘eugenics’ or ‘genocide’ thus reducing a complex moral problem into an apparently easy one by merely having to determine whether these technologies and practices fit into these supposedly evil categories.”
We are Nature by Beth Lord.
”For decades, Lovelock has warned of the global heating that will permanently alter human and nonhuman ways of life. His recent publications reveal an understanding, shared with Spinoza, that these natural transformations are profoundly amoral. Gaia strives to preserve itself, to preserve life as such: Gaia, God or nature doesn’t have any interest in preserving this or that species, or any particular configuration of the Earth. Lovelock also shares with Spinoza the understanding that human transformations of the Earth are part of nature, however much we might think of certain actions as harming or destroying nature. By seeking our own advantage and transforming our environment, human beings don’t destroy nature: we are nature, transforming itself. The effects of these activities are, from nature’s point of view, neither good nor bad.”
”We should strive to support the flourishing of other animals and natural things not out of pity or guilt or fondness, but because their flourishing is essential for our flourishing. Recall that for Spinoza, ‘good’ is what we certainly know to be useful to us: we certainly know the utility of the ice caps remaining frozen, of the Amazon remaining intact, and of bees and butterflies continuing to thrive. According to Spinoza, this certain knowledge should determine us to strive for those ends. Given that we know that the flourishing of other beings on Earth is instrumental to our own, what prevents us from striving for it? Spinoza argues that passions and inadequate ideas can derail us from affirming and acting on what we know to be good. In these cases, we need laws to make us act well: laws that are determined by a state that agrees on shared goals. Laws tell us how to act when we don’t know, or can’t remember, what is good for us.”
The Triumph of the Lack of Will would’ve made for a more apt title. I agree with the general presupposition that any action taken to combat climate change finds its motivation in Man’s in-direct self interest. Nature has no preferred state of being and to the extent one assumes a reciprocal relationship between Man and his environment, I believe the assumption is only legitimate as far as it informs conduct compatible with an otherwise assumed state of ignorance (an Earth which allows for human flourishing is more useful than an Earth which doesn’t). Where Lord via Spinoza emphasizes what we know to be good, I believe it’s more sensible and more within Man’s reach to identify what we know to be bad. This mode of epistemic humility expresses itself in a deontological ethic that dictates conduct with bounded downside in the unlikely (but >0) event assumptions of good conduct is based in falsehood. By keeping consequences local and allowing for a distribution per ensemble this disposition informs conduct in perfect accordance with an a priori assumption of a reciprocal relationship between Man and his surroundings.
How Michel Foucault Lost the Left and Won the Right by Ross Douthat. Anyone who claims to be a woman is a woman. Anyone who claims to have the largest inaugural crowd ever has the largest inaugural crowd ever. Rationalization occurs ex-post.
”The impulse to establish legitimacy and order informs a lot of action on the left these days. The idea that the left is relativistic belongs to an era when progressives were primarily defining themselves against white heteronormative Christian patriarchy, with Foucauldian acid as a solvent for the old regime. Nobody watching today’s progressivism at work would call it relativistic: Instead, the goal is increasingly to find new rules, new hierarchies, new moral categories to govern the post-Christian, post-patriarchal, post-cis-het world.”
Kubrick’s Human Comedy by Andrew Delbanco.
”Kubrick once remarked that ‘representing a broad panorama of history has always proved to be the undoing of film makers.’ In 2001, he did the undoable with a jump-cut that was among the most dazzling cinematic ideas since Chaplin’s dance of the rolls in The Gold Rush: the alpha man-ape, exulting in the killing power of his bone-club, flings it toward the sky, drawing our eyes upward as we follow it out of prehistory to twenty-first-century spaceships drifting, spinning, dancing to the fantastically apt ‘Blue Danube’ waltz.”
How I Misapplied My Trader Mindset to Investing by Kris Abdelmessih.
The Greatest Geometric Balancers: Renaissance Technologies, Part II by Breaking The Market.
Interview with Tad Rivelle by Christoph Gisiger.
”There is a lot of complacency. Even the European Central Bank made reference to it in a recent report. Critics have said for a long time that the central banks will support asset prices, and then they criticize capital markets for pricing in a speculative structure and warn about the risks. One pundit called it quite accurately: Central banks simultaneously play the role of arsonist and firefighter.”
Taylor’s Machete by Taylor Pearson. ”Don’t attribute to incompetence, that which can adequately be explained by poorly structured incentives.”
Robert Bogucki, Co-Head of Global Trading and Head of Derivatives Trading at Galaxy Digital Holdings, Alpha Exchange. This conversation reminded me a lot of the one Corey Hoffstein had with Jeffrey Baird. Rubs me the right way.
”When an option is trading so low that it’s worth 10bps it can be one of two things; it can be because it’s worth 10bps, maybe it’s worth 9, maybe it’s worth 11, we don’t know. It can also mean that there’s a 99% chance it’s worth 0 and there’s a 1% chance it’s worth a boat load. And unless you can quantify for me what a ‘boat load’ is, how big a boat load could be, and what the boundary condition is on a boat load, I don’t really like to be short convexity where I don’t know the boundaries of how much I’m risking.”
Freddie deBoer: Let’s Kill the ‘Cult of Smart’ and Legacy Media, The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie.
Zero Never Wins with Jim Leitner, Market Huddle.