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Beautifully written!

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"Bigness is inherently ugly. There’s never been a beautiful skyscraper. Every single one of them is an atrocity. The fact that people still pretend otherwise tells you how conditioned we’ve become to disregard our own nature and our own natural longings." -Tucker Carlson, January 5, 2022

Very silly stuff. Skyscrapers are badass dude

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An oblique maybe congratulations here if I’m reading between lines.

If it is of any consolation that may or may not be needed, there has always been darkness and there has always been courage rising up to throw it back.

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Love your bit along these lines:

"Come on, children, you’re acting like children

"Every generation thinks it’s the end of the world"

https://www.mattball.org/2023/02/greta-thunbergs-misery-is-result-of.html

Happy first day of spring, everyone. If you're reading this blog, your future will be be good compared to 99.9...% of all sentient beings in history.

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if this is how good you are at writing cyberpunk, pls kindly switch to that ~entirely

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I’ve been feeling down about the SF real estate market for months. This is the reassurance I’ve been looking for. Thank you!

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*hugs* Hope you feel better.

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Mar 20, 2023·edited Mar 20, 2023

"I once thought about naming my daughter Saffron in its honor."

Are you and your wife expecting? If so, congrats!

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Thank you.

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What's the pulse here now, is Kurzweil early or late with 2029 for the singularity/AGI/the end of the world?

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Very unsong like

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"...certainly they’re not so real that if you inscribe every word ever written onto a piece of glass then the glass comes to life and kills you. That’s just an urban legend." Loved this line.

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This is my favorite thing I've read in a good while. And I genuinely cannot believe that no one on the internet has used the phrase "Chicxulub or bust" before.

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I also had some poetic thoughts while walking around before dawn this morning:

“Man, what a shithole. Why did I move here? Is that a shantytown under that bridge? Jesus christ why doesn’t anyone pick up after their dogs in this city. Oh great a crackhead is trying to talk to me. He’s pretty industrious to be doing this at 5:30am. I should stop procrastinating on that concealed carry application.”

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This is the opposite of Nick Land's Meltdown.

And such a fitting text for the coming ends or rebirths.

Thank you so much.

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S+F also means saf, Hebrew for threshold. The implications are clear.

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This is making me miss San Francisco. I can understand not liking the skyscrapers of downtown and finding them alien, but for me it's the first place that ever felt like home. Maybe because it was so strange and alien nobody really belongs, so it's okay to be a bit weird and out of place there.

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Mar 20, 2023·edited Mar 20, 2023

"We have walked this path for too long, and everything else has faded away. We have to continue in wicked deeds [...] or we would have to deny ourselves.”

Of course an Alpha Centauri player would be a fan of Fall From Heaven too..! The faction it is quoted from was no coincidence either, I'd wager: https://fallfromheaven.fandom.com/wiki/Sheaim

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This is a tremendously beautiful sentence: “We pay rents that would bankrupt a medieval principality to get front-row seats for the hinge of history.” It sings. I would also buy a book called The Hinge of History that works backward tracing the huge, grotesque cities where the trajectory of the world was decided. As much as cities can be distasteful, there aren’t a lot of epochal technologies or works of art being forged in the Rococo gardens of the world.

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I find it notable the worst example Scott could find for participating in social decay is porn. We had porn since before we had writing, I am sure. If only porn were our worst problem... At least we could nominate fentanyl? Though it of course is a symptom as much as porn is, but at least the harm is obvious here.

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This feels very much like it was NOT written by GPT

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Splendidly Gibsonian (Blue Ant era).

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...what the heck did I just read?

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Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaah, more Kabbalah Stuff.

That’s the ticket

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You know, I was wondering when Scott was gonna write about Silicon Valley Bank!

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> So the esoteric meaning of 86 is “to produce an heir by unnatural means and have it go badly for everyone, because you rejected Eliezer”

But that isn't what happened in the original story. Abraham planned to make Eliezer the heir, but God had other ideas. Wouldn't that turn the esoteric meaning into "to produce an heir by unnatural means and have it go badly for everyone, because *God* rejected Eliezer"?

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The foggy gateway hid from ships of old

But priests built missions north along the sea

When Santa Anna lost they found the gold

Then came mechanics, commerce, industry

The hills convulsed, the houses burnt, yet still

The city prospered, bridge and bay and port

But in the postwar glow there was a chill

The Beats foresaw. The hippies’ reign was short

While towers rose society hollowed out

The drugs, the plague, drove love out from the Haight

The rich gained and the poor could only shout

A generation failed to generate

The streets are toilets, birds screech in the grime

Those who remain await the fire next time

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A beautiful text, thanks a lot!

Your take on skyscrapers reminded me of something I saw the last time I was in L.A., in the canyons of downtown. It was morning: I was there for a conference, and went to grab some breakfast before heading for the convention centre. Found a small diner, sat down to have my coffee, and observed the comings and goings outside, in that inhumane technical landscape of man-made cliffs of steel and glass that loom over the by comparison ridiculously small sidewalks around them. A lady walked past in the morning light, with her dog on a leash. The mid-sized shaggy dog loyally following her, at her side.

Somehow that scene was as absurd as anything Hieronymus Bosch ever came up with, at least from the viewpoint of the wolf that went near the campfire a few thousand years ago, for some scraps and morsels. That dog in the hazy L.A. morning light seeping through the streets was as removed from its roots as anything can ever be, short of flying to Mars and starting a colony there. Yet it was loyally at her side, pattering along in that abyss of reflecting surfaces. It probably never saw anything much else in its life anyway.

As always with L.A., the conference and the visit were nice - but I was also very glad that I could get on a plane back to Europe afterwards. Europe has its own share of issues (in particular, its own brands of atrocious modern architecture) - but most of it is still less of a nightmare than modern U.S. cities.

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We sure do live, laugh, and love™ in interesting times..

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Everyone who has read their Fritz Leiber ("Our Lady of Darkness") knows that the Transamerica Pyramid is the focus of all the occult energy in the hemisphere and that the city is a living. breathing, utterly nonhuman, unfathomably evil entity.

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Thoroughly enjoyed.

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As a fan of creeping horror and cosmic writings I'd like to compliment you on an excellent conveyance of eschatological dread but as a fellow human I feel obligated to ask if you're doing okay

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Nice, I was expecting some mention of the spring equinox. (A day of turning)

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Loved this post. Maybe Joanna Baillie's "London" is apt?

"...Viewed thus, a goodly sight! but when surveyed

Through denser air when moistened winds prevail,

In her grand panoply of smoke arrayed,

While clouds aloft in heavy volumes sail,

She is sublime. She seems a curtained gloom

Connecting heaven and earth,—a threatening sign of doom."

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SF thinks it seeks the illusive unicorn but the White Whale is what it will find. CALL ME. ISHMAEL. 1-800-THE-DOOM

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There's something about when Scott writes like this that feels like coming home to an old friend in the place you belong.

"We pay rents that would bankrupt a medieval principality to get front-row seats for the hinge of history. It will be the best investment we ever make." Immediately went into my notes to look back at later.

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If you inscribe every word ever written on a piece of glass, it turns into a monster -- a fabulous creature, a being ripped from myth. Write the world you want to see.

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Wonderful!

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Unfortunately, only the Progressive fear is groundless.

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Ah, but "sof" is not end as in End, but end as in the demarcation between the old and the new - Sof Pasuk as opposed to keitz hayamim.

Thus, San Francisco is merely a period, a pause between the previous way and the next.

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Bravo, magnificent writing. The turn at the end seems masterfully calculated to sink the hook: playing it straight all the way through would invite a version of the criticism of AI non-kill-everyoneism that says "Sounds like it could be from sci-fi (or in this case, horror)!". Turning it humorous leaves the conclusion within the reader's psyche, as he has no reason to reject it. (See Zizek on "Kung Fu Panda" for a more amusing example of this.)

Since we're doing Poe, here are two things from his admirers (Charles Baudelaire and Clark Ashton Smith, with the latter the translator for the former, here):

-

Alchemy of Sorrow

Charles Baudelaire

One with his fervor shall inform

The world, and one with all his sorrow:

One sees a glad, unsetting morrow,

One hears the whisper of the worm.

Hermes unknown, whose hand assists

My toil, and fills my dreams with fear,

Through thee I am the mournful peer

Of Midas, first of alchemists.

Fine gold to iron corruptible

I turn, and paradise to hell;

In winding-sheets of cloud and levin

A dear cadaver I descry;

And build upon the shores of heaven

Towering proud sarcophagi

-

A Vision of Lucifer

Clark Ashton Smith

I saw a shape with human form and face,

If such should in apotheosis stand:

Deep in the shadows of a desolate land

His burning feet obtained colossal base,

And spheral on the lonely arc of space,

His head, a menace unto heavens unspanned,

Arose with towered eyes that might command

The sunless, blank horizon of that place.

And straight I knew him for the mystic one

That is the brother, born of human dream,

Of man rebellious at an unknown rod;

The mind's ideal, and the spirit's sun;

A column of clear flame, in lands extreme,

Set opposite the darkness that is God.

-

[Note: the conceit in "alchemy" is that grief makes us turn everything dark: a cloud in the sky appears to a man who has lost his wife as her corpse shrouded in white cloth. That describes Scott's process feeling melancholic before dawn, but also serves up a powerful phrase for describing the massive dead structures: 'towering proud sarcophagi'.]

[Further note: rather than a shoggoth, we can think of the LLMs as something essentially human-shaped, like Smith's Lucifer, but made into a deity. From an atheist futurist's perspective, such a being would indeed be a 'column of pure flame [...] set opposite the darkness that is god'; i.e. as in Scott's older essay about killing Gnon.]

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Marvelous.

Yer a writer, Harry.

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that’s just a coincidence, everyone knows words aren’t real. Or maybe I phrased that awkwardly, but certainly they’re not so real that if you inscribe every word ever written onto a piece of glass then the glass comes to life and kills you. That’s just an urban legend.

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KEEP GOING

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Hang in there, it's going to be over soon one way or another.

And to think my biggest fear was this bullshit, boring society continuing on unchanged until I die of old age. I am told it is not, in fact, a Chinese curse, but either way we seem to be living in the most interesting times of all.

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> So the esoteric meaning of 86 is “to produce an heir by unnatural means and have it go badly for everyone, because you rejected Eliezer”.

Uh, did you just compare Arabs to hostile AIs?

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Mar 20, 2023·edited Mar 20, 2023

The sense of immanetized eschaton and/or doom does hang heavy in the air, these days.

Also,

> The few visible human commuters pump thick black Arabian hydrocarbons into their vehicles

Gasoline is a very pale yellow (think a very light white wine), and lighter and thinner than water.

edit: I suppose I didn't consider that these people may be commuting via container ship and are loading up on bunker fuel, in which case, please disregard

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Adrift on a Sea of Misery is increasing.....

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"Everyone here thinks the world will end soon. Climate change for the Democrats, social decay for the GOP, AI if you’re a techbro."

And I think they're all ridiculous for believing that. Every generation has its doomsayers, and they've been wrong 100% of the time so far. Statistically, of course, one of them will eventually be right, because nothing lasts forever. But I'm 99.999% certain that won't be for a very long time. And the remaining 0.001% is because there's a very slim chance we get wiped out by some cataclysmic natural phenomenon like an asteroid impact or a supervolcanic eruption; the odds of us wiping ourselves out are even lower.

Don't get me wrong. All the problems you mentioned are serious issues. Climate change will kill a lot of people if left unchecked. AI might kill a lot of people too, if we make too many of our critical systems dependent on it and then it malfunctions (though the realistic scenario is less Skynet or Paperclip Maximizer, and more "oh shit, the AI we put in control of air traffic bugged out and now planes are crashing everywhere"). Social decay might also cause some deaths - due to increases in suicides and drug overdoses, and maybe violent crimes, or just due to a general decline in infrastructure and living standards - though probably nowhere near as many as the other two would. But none of those things will come anywhere near causing the literal extinction of humanity, nor the collapse of modern technological civilization.

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Interesting piece -- and one that has led me to become a subscriber.

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The tech sector of San Francisco is called Soma. The esoteric meaning of this is left as an exercise for the reader.

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That's damn fine writing.

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"There is seduction in apocalyptic thinking. If one lives in the Last Days, one's action, one's very life, take on historical meaning and no small measure of poignance."

Eric Zencey

Just maybe.

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Three cheers for Poe! But what is this quotation from?

"“We have walked for this path for too long, and everything else has faded away. We have to continue in wicked deeds [...] or we would have to deny ourselves.”

Searches only bring up vague biblical references to paths of wickedness, etc. The quote definitely isn't biblical but sounds like T.S. Eliot or Khalil Gibran.

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I have a three month old son. I too am excited to have him experience, optimistically, sixteen years of life.

From where I sit, being close to the specific pane of glass seems not to produce a better view, for after all there are long long rivers of the stuff strung up all throughout this world, under the oceans, or across the heavens.

I'd have stayed in Michigan. But, you know, as our fallible human hearts might enjoin one another: you do you.

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Can whatever’s playing you

Advance beyond your self without

Whatever’s unfit for Level Two?

Garbage time is running out.

-Machine Elf Adage

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I had a nightmare a couple of months ago about apocalyptic flooding where I live in Los Angeles. Then, a week later, I heard the words "atmospheric river" for the first time, and saw more rain fall in this city than I ever had before. For days, I couldn't stop looking out the window, afraid that I'd see water rolling in to drown the cars in their covered spaces.

My city hasn't flooded the way it did in my nightmare, but there was bad enough flooding nearby that a handful of people died. And I realized that while it might not have turned out to be an apocalypse for me, it was certainly an apocalypse for them.

Death is the end of the world for everyone who dies, regardless of when. In another sense, people who live in fear of climate change/social decay/AI is self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling. Because if you believe your world is ending, aren't you sort of right by default?

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>> Everyone here thinks the world will end soon. Climate change for the Democrats, social decay for the GOP, AI if you’re a techbro. Everyone here is complicit in their chosen ending - plane flights, porn

Let me quote myself, writing in THE RED QUEST,

>>Watching pr0n is easy, making it is hard. Which is more meaning? In the GAME OF THRONES books, the warrior culture of the Iron Islands has a rule about jewelry, at least for men... if a man wears a bauble, did he pay the iron price for it (he took it off the corpse of an enemy), or the gold price (he bought it)? For pr0n, a similar principle applies... gold price, or iron price?

If a man makes it himself, with a woman, then it's good... if he is passively consuming it, then maybe it isn't.

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I have never understood why anyone would want to live in, or even close to, a large city, except the economic benefits. Like, if they offer you a really high paying job and your other prospects are bad, then I can see it being worth it. Or if your goal is to build up a large nest egg and then go retire in Florida or something, it might be worthwhile as a temporary sacrifice.

But if you work on the internet, writing a blog and doing virtual psychiatry, you should be able to move and not change your income at all? I'm not completely sure of the specifics regarding how you have stuff set up. But if you can manage to get out, I highly recommend it, it will do wonders for your mental health and quality of life.

And from an altruistic perspective, it will marginally help with the housing crisis. One less person taking up space, meaning room for one more person at existing housing levels. I don't think it would completely solve the problem, but if all of the people who didn't need to live in cities for their jobs got up and moved somewhere else it would put a heavy dent in the issue (and the excessive cost of living and other issues caused by too many people in too small of a space).

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<i>Imagine living on Earth in 65,000,000 BC, and being anywhere except Chicxulub.</i>

See

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/08/the-day-the-dinosaurs-died

or

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-days-of-the-dinosaurs-riley-black/1139212016

Unless you could get below ground (or deep enough underwater) you would have been toast anywhere on the planet.

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Yah, it feels that way to me, too. And I'm in Boston. Probably...not far enough for safety.

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Scott, did you ever get a chance to see the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Art? They came to mind as I read this.

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> Saffron Siskind the San Franciscan

This was the best <3<3.

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founding

I've been thinking for a while that if all the AI people lived in Singapore instead of SF, we'd get markedly better odds of aligning AGI with human values. SF is one of the least aligned cities I know.

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"The doomed summoning-city at the end of time seethes with palpable impatience."

True - though at Trinity Site when Gadget attained critical mass, it seemed an end of time too - but, in retrospect, it wasn't.

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This kind of stuff leaves me stunned by how much Baghdad by the Bay has changed since I knew it in graduate school. Forty years ago SF was none of these things: it was a funky languid slightly amused city, which wouldn't dream of taking itself all that seriously. I recall once stepping into the tulip graden in GG Park, on my way to meet my girl for Irish coffee, and sitting down to enjoy a respite from the wind. A black man who looked like he slept in a shelter arrived with a battered guitar and a tiny amp, set it down, and began playing a talented stream of classical improvisations -- Bach, mostly, with some Mozart and Handel. On the electric guitar. It was that kind of place

Now...I dunno, every time I visit, it's like SF is determined to out-Manhattan Manhattan, and it seems further sunk in bitter brittle unvoiced recriminations. Where did we go wrong? That so many of her talented denizens brood over psychedelic zombie apocalypses does not surprise, sadly.

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I must dissent.

The sparkling city you detest is more than it's glittering buildings ...

It's a big heart beating, gushing really, with a big belly. A living surging mess. Its incredible beauty punches you up and down its soaring streets. It's like there was a cultural spasm that sprayed the city with the colors of every country - along with their cuisine. There's a kitchen puffing up aromas from Nepal, another from North Africa, another from Tuscany. In an alley, someone is serving a meal as delicious as any in the world. At that shop, people wait, patiently, smiling. knowing the coffee they about to get is inspiring. Sorry Seattle. SF is like a collection of visions, of smells and sounds, condensed as molecules and spread around for our senses to experience. And from Victorian windows - each ornately framed and painted - light glows and laughter tumbles out to the street. In this city, we are each a part of an enormous web of self-aware neurons triggered by a tremendous light that constantly fights its way through fog and structure. It's so easy to be drunkened by it all. Yes, there's a seedy side and some nutty politicians. Entertainment value when you think about it. The ingredients of the whole. And if you're not gobsmacked by the sheer daring that is SF .. the other evidence should convince you. Just ask yourself, how can a smidgen of a dwelling be worth more than the wealth of Mansa Mula.

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The Lulu blurb for Unsong mentions, "[I] would recommend waiting a little while before purchasing this book, as I'm going to experiment with a couple of different paper/printing settings." Is this advice still applicable?

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Ah, so you're saying that kabbalah predicts we have all the way until GPT-86 before things get really bad? Good to know, I'm updating accordingly in favour of slow takeoff. We get what we deserve for rejecting Yudkowsky.

Skyscrapers: marvelous technological achievement, one of my favourite symbols of Progress. They don't have to be dragon's teeth either - have you seen what they're doing with wood these days? I honestly get a kick out of the feeling of being dwarfed by something much bigger than I am, built by innumerable human hands combining sundry fields of expertise. Yeah, maybe it's not the Coliseum or Versailles or whatever, but it's current_year and the monuments should reflect the times. I will grant that I wouldn't want to raise a family or retire in one...but those seem increasingly impossible anyway, and not cause the world will end Real Soon Now. It's just really expensive to live in Sullen Futarchy as one of the <s>serfs</s> <s>sharecroppers</s> retail grunts. "Who would want to raise a child here?"

Also, I can't remember the last time I saw any mere commuter pumping diesel. Unless the colour of gasoline changed recently? Could have made the joke go the other way, mildly-jaundiced carbons to match watered-down Americanos and their Sugar-Festooned cousins. Does that come with almond milk?

(If it wasn't clear, I liked this a lot - your nonfictional travelogues are about as fun as a Bay Area House Party.)

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The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists puts us at 90 seconds until midnight.

Scott puts us at half an hour until dawn.

Rejoice, ye daughters of Zion.

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“ Imagine living on Earth in 65,000,000 BC, and being anywhere except Chicxulub.”

Imagine being gifted the full lushness of the late cretaceous and fixating instead on its destruction!

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SOF-Special Operations Forces-Are also an end, the sharp end at the end of the logistical spear and the end of the enemies of the state that wields them.

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Great great piece! Really. I loved it. Compliments. Above all an excellent language creativity and property. When you read such well written pieces, you receive good impulses that "summons" creating

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Waoooh, so evocative! You transported me in another world by describing your dawn so vividly and so originally! I hope that you write another volumne of fiction at some point!

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> if you inscribe every word ever written onto a piece of glass then the glass comes to life and kills you. That’s just an urban legend

If it’s really an urban legend, I’d like to read more about it. Not looking likely, though, because GPT-4 says:

> I cannot definitively determine if the urban legend you mentioned was created by the author or if it has existed prior to their writing. [... It] is not a widely known or documented urban legend that I can find in my database.

Still figured I’d check

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I guess that it could be seen as good news that american cities were in total decay in the 70s and 80s too and made it out.

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Mar 21, 2023·edited Mar 21, 2023

If this is what we get when you end up alone in SF, I'll upgrade to Founding membership or whatever the higher level was named, if you start going more often.

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And I saw it lying there upon its hills, and I wanted to curse it; but I could not do it, for a

great splendour of the Lord lay over Jerusholayim in the light of the morning.

(Stefan Heym, King David Report)

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I spent every sunlit moment deep in the North Florida woods yesterday. It was one of those very special events, when you get a glorious winter day late in spring when you no longer expect it. I'm not articulate enough to describe the beauty of such a place and time, so I'm not going to demonstrate that by trying.

What urbanites have going for them is that they don't know what they're missing. They will say that they do because they once spent a week in Yosemite. But the truth is, if they knew what they were missing, they wouldn't be urbanites.

But thanks to them for not understanding, because if they did, the Garden of Eden places I inhabit would all look like Disney Land.

So, please ignore this post. It's all wrong and completely full of crap. The North Florida woods is just a bunch of weeds full of annoying little insects that fly up your nose. You might step on snake, be eaten by wild coyotes, or crushed in a stampede of nervous hogs.

Yup, nature sucks. It's complete waste of time. It's better just to avoid it altogether. Just find the closest coffee shop, sit down next to some guy who has been living on the street for 18 years, and eat your donut. That's the best policy.

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This is pure poetry.

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Is it something about San Francisco's skyscrapers in particular that makes people see them as horrific concrete monoliths?

I live in Cincinnati, and it's not exactly a vast urban hub, but when I look at the skyscrapers we do have, I generally don't feel awe or horror, more "oh, that's a nice background." They can be pretty, they add a distinctive look to the skyline and can have an impressive weight up close, but they're not some sort of all-encompassing icon. Does it change when your city gets to a certain level of density, or are San Franciscans just naturally inclined to see omens of doom in the world around them?

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We pay rents that would bankrupt a medieval principality to get the Preffered plan for the Hinge of history.

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Immanentizing the eschaton!

But I have also noted in my commonplace book: "The doctrine of the imminent end of the world is clearly true, as it has been endorsed by eminent authorities through all recorded ages."

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"and a place that serves almost-but-not-quite-perfect Detroit pizza."

*shudders in horror*

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"skyscrapers as symbols"

Yes, skyscrapers are symbols, not practical buildings. The Statue of Liberty is also a symbol, but how many monumental statues do you need in each city?

And what do they symbolize? They remind us of the technological progress that builds them, but they also remind me of the political regress and corruption that concentrates construction in small lots, rather than the large expanses of five story buildings of Manhattan or Paris. They remind me of their tenants, that seem to be buying positional goods. Their concentration in the finance district reminds me that actually existing "techno-capital" is not the free market.

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My favorite pre-dawn SF is pre-dawn SF from a distance.

I was last in SF circa 2014 with my wife and circa 2yo daughter, whose circadian rhythm stubbornly remained on EST the whole time. So despite not having spent much time in SF overall I have spent a lot of time in pre-dawn SF. My daughter would wake up around 3am and in order to give my wife a few extra hours of sleep (she was there for a work conference, the peanut and I were just tagging along), I would strap my little one to my chest and hit the streets. Our hotel was in Chinatown, and each morning I set off in a different cardinal direction. Once we found a 24/7 diner and I drank coffee as she nommed stale breadsticks and ogled the decor. Early morning Telegraph Hill had its charms. One morning we found ourselves in a grimy warehouse district where workers were powerwashing the sidewalks in front of their one-story brick boxes.

It was all underwhelming compared to my view of the city from the week prior. Before arriving in SF we were in Marin County, where one morning my little one and I caught the sunrise from the top of Mount Tam. Watching San Francisco emerge out of the night, from silhouetted ghost towers with a few dots of light to a tight cluster of proud, vibrant structures that I knew were home to so much of the most world's creative energy at that time was an electric experience. If circumstances had permitted I would have moved my family to the Bay Area then and there. A few days later, sipping bland coffee in a 24/7 diner on the outskirts of Chinatown, I realized my prior impression was an illusion. But it was a glorious illusion! That is my favorite San Francisco.

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So it looks at least partially intentional, but I'm still going to point out that, not knowing what methylxanthine is, it's defaulting to 'penis'.

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I love finding myself looking down one of the Manhattan avenues, especially at night, lined with tall buildings and feeling insignificant against the endless corridor of towering steel and cement. It's practically a numinous experience for me. Even skyscrapers and high-rises I'd hate in isolation (I like the art deco ones though) are still beautiful as part of the gestalt. I find nature both less impressive and less consoling than a great human city.

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Mar 22, 2023·edited Mar 22, 2023

On the subject of morbid thoughts, let hope there won't be someone in 2600AD scrambling over the remains of San Francisco like the Saxon in c. 600AD gloomily reflecting on the ruins of Aquae Sulis:

Well-wrought this wall: Wierds broke it.

The stronghold burst ...

Snapped rooftrees, towers fallen,

the work of the Giants, the stonesmiths,

mouldereth.

Rime scoureth gate-towers

rime on mortar

Shattered the shower-shields, roofs ruined,

age under-ate them.

And the wielders and wrights?

Earthgrip holds them - gone, long gone,

fast in graves-grasp while fifty fathers

and sons have passed.

Walls stood,

grey lichen, red stone,

stood under storms, high arch crashed -

stands yet the wall-stone, hacked by weapons,

by files grim-ground ..

.. shone the old skilled work

.. sank to loam-crust.

Mood quickened mind, and a man of wit,

cunning in rings, bound bravely the wall-base

with iron, a wonder.

Bright were the buildings, halls where springs ran,

high, horn-gabled, much throng-noise;

these many meadhalls men filled

with loud cheerfulness: Wierd changed that

Came days of pestilence, on all sides men fell dead,

death fetched off the flower of the people;

where they stood to fight, waste places

and on the acropolis ruins.

Hosts who would build again

shrank to the earth. Therefore are these courts dreary

and that red arch twisteth tiles.

wryeth from roof-ridge, reacheth groundwards ..

Broken blocks ..

(The dots indicate where the words are unreadable, due to scorch marks on the sole surviving manuscript of the poem.)

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Man, I miss the bay area. Wish it wasn't so expensive. Maybe after the world ends I'll be able to afford to go back and be around what's left of my family

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It seems off that meanings of the number 86 are discussed and its use as English slang ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/86_(term) ) isn't worked in somehow.

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Mar 22, 2023·edited Mar 22, 2023

This doomsday mindset is reminiscent of Europe in 1910, so much so that it seems like history repeating itself. The intellectuals of Europe despised "bourgeois" European culture, and with better justification than we have today. Jack London's 1903 /The People of the Abyss/ showed a London where starvation, malnutrition, exposure, and dangerous workplaces were major causes of death. All of educated Europe was tingling in anticipation of its own liberating doomsday, hoping for a repeat of the French Revolution. The 1910 return of Halley’s Comet sparked these doomsday premonitions into a panic.

Every intellectual in Europe had a Utopia to peddle: anarchists, reactionary fascists and Catholics, communists and socialists, and machine-obsessed futurists. They saw liberal democracy as a failure, and were champing at the bit for a world-wide devastation that would sweep civilization away, theoretically leaving clear, pure ground on which to build Utopia.

Modernists have created a myth that the modern arts developed as a reaction against World War 1; but as anyone who's studied modern art for more than a day knows, all of its major branches were fully-developed by 1914. The truth is the opposite: the modern arts were developed in order to ignite a world war.

The authors of the modern art manifestos written around that time were explicit about this. Even the Dada Manifesto, written in 1917 long after it was clear that the war in no way revolutionary, was still shouting, "there is a great negative work of destruction to be accomplished. We must sweep and clean."

What they got, of course, was World War 1. It did sweep away the Kaiser and the Tsar, only to replace them with, respectively, a weak democracy that the people hated so much they elected Hitler, and a totalitarian government far more bloody-minded than any Tsar. And the intellectuals of Europe immediately began choosing sides, communist or fascist, for the next great war.

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Viscerally horrifying. California is really not good for anyone's well-being.

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Michigan is still okay.

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Love it.

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🙄 the doomerism, the smug self-obsession, the complete ignorance of the lived reality or pertinence of literally everywhere else.

Like, yes, it’s pretty prose, and artful. Well-written, indeed. But the mood, the felt sense, is just so… helpless? Unhelpable. Why would anyone want that? Why, especially, would someone who deals with helping people wrestle with unhelpful mental patterns *choose* a place that generates, sustains, emanates these feelings?

Scott, please tell me this is just art. I’m worried about you. And any of the rest of the millions of you over there who are harboring a similar need for… green grass, sunshine, and digging bare toes into the earth. Good luck man.

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> “We have walked this path for too long, and everything else has faded away. We have to continue in wicked deeds [...] or we would have to deny ourselves.”

Where is this quote from?

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Very Neal Stephenson; with a hint of William Gibson

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Uhh I enjoy living here. It’s not all doom and gloom.

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Beautifully written.

"Unreal City/Under the brown fog of a winter dawn"...

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Dont let em take your balls, bro.

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