In this edition, you'll learn about:
- A new playbook for indie-publishing history books
- Why and how I’ve started supplementing for testosterone
- How to read the Bitcoin whitepaper
- Garden State Cybergothic: The underrated mystique of New Jersey
- Why nomads don't travel, contrary to popular opinion
- And more
Soviet Logos, Aesthetic Content, and Book Publishing
I recently encountered an Instagram account called Soviet Logos. They post logos from organizations that operated under the Soviet Union. A lot of them are pretty cool.
Many of the logos are pretty cool, sure, but the real reason I’m sharing them here is because the curatorial project is interesting from a content perspective. This is a great example of a hyper-niche, aesthetics-based content play that’s able to attract a large audience and spin off more sophisticated products.
With 40k followers interested in nothing other than Soviet Logos, they could self-publish a beautiful book—of Soviet logos.
This playbook is totally available to historians, art critics, etc. I think we’ll see more intellectuals building long-term projects this way.
I’ve started supplementing for testosterone
My wife’s due to have our first child on December 21. It’s well documented that babies decrease the testosterone of fathers, so I’m taking action to compensate for this expectation.
I’ve never measured my testosterone, in part because I’m not a big fan of needles, in part because I’ve never had any serious life problems related to drive (economic, sexual, or otherwise).
But I'm certainly not on the high side, either. And I remember my 20s well enough to know I’ve certainly lost a bit of the old mojo, which is completely natural, of course. If I had to guess, I'm probably around average for a man my age but we also know that the social average right now is historically low. So I don't need a big-ass needle in my arm to tell me that I could benefit from bumping the testosterone a bit.
On the other hand, I’d rather not start testosterone-replacement therapy quite yet. There’s still a lot of low-hanging fruit in my case, I just need to seize it. The baby feels like a good pretext for making this a top priority now.
I’m somewhat terrified of this baby turning me to mush, so for the next 20 days my top personal priority is training and protein and sleep. I’ve also started taking supplements specifically for my testosterone.
I’m taking 500mg of Tongkat Ali, and 600mg Fadogia Agrestis every morning now. The research looks very good, these seem to be efficacious and safe, natural compounds that should compensate for at least some of the T depletion the baby brings.
Obviously my sleep and fitness will get rekt in the first month after the baby, but if I can push my daily habits and biochemicals to a high level beforehand—I won’t fall quite as far. That’s the plan, anyway.
Latest from the Other Life podcast
- Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (Lecture). A lecture on Albert Hirschman's classic book from 1970.
- The Internet is a Schizophrenia Simulator with Paul Town. Paul Town is an author and a low-key star of the internet underground. He has a wild life story involving psychosis, alleged arson, and a ton of writing: In 2019 he wrote 3 books of more than 400 pages each. All of his books are self-published and quite underrated. We talked mostly about writing on the internet, indie publishing, and the internet-insanity nexus. This conversation was quite funny, interesting, and had some real insight around mindset, attitude, and how to live a creative life in the internet age.
A lot of you are not subscribed! You should take a second to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast player. We have a big year planned for 2022.
If you're a fan, we're always super grateful for reviews on Apple Podcasts: OtherLife.co/review.
Read the Bitcoin whitepaper with us
I'll give a short lecture (30-45 min) and we'll discuss for about an hour. Everyone is expected to read the paper. Afternoon of December 6, this Monday.
We'll try to secure a basic grasp of the technical aspects—especially the Double Spending Problem and the Byzantine Generals Problem—but mostly with an eye toward the philosophical and political implications of the Bitcoin system. One theoretical foil for the seminar will be Nick Land's short book Crypto-Current, though it's not required reading for this session.
Pay whatever, ~$25 suggested. Free for members. Register here.
Garden State Cybergothic
I grew up in New Jersey, but I got out as soon as I graduated high school. Never really did much site-seeing or interesting travel within NJ, I mostly just skateboarded in the Asbury Park area and left as soon as I could. But with a lot of time and distance, I’ve recently been appreciating some of the underrated aspects of New Jersey.
When you learn about the history of Bell Labs, the way that New Jersey has always been a suburb of NYC, a place where weird industrial and governmental stuff is always spilling over… One can start to appreciate a certain mystique I’d like to call Garden State Cybergothic.
For such a small state, New Jersey has a lot of spooky lore. I would bet it has one of the highest concentrations of spookiness, per square foot, in the union. The Pine Barrens are underrated more generally, and the myth of the New Jersey Devil is pretty interesting. The New Jersey Devil comes out of the Pine Barrens, in fact.
I don't believe in supernatural stuff but when there's a high concentration of myths and "haunted" things, sometimes this can reflect historical path-dependencies that accumulate into a weird kind of social energy within a particular locale. Not "energy" in a woo-woo sense, just...
Weird stuff happens in a place for explicable but exceptional empirical reasons, due to some exogenous influences unique to the area, then these factors enter into local symbolism, this symbolism shapes attitudes and expectations, which then cause certain rare, aberrant behaviors or tendencies, which are then interpreted as corroborating the lore, and so on… If this flywheel spins long enough, you could very well get bizarre regional pockets of behavioral-symbolic entrainments.
Supernatural-seeming myths become semi-real, through perfectly sensible social-psychological processes.
Garden State Cybergothic mainly reflects the spillover of projects that were too weird or sketchy for mainstream NYC real estate.
For instance, I grew up in a township near the city of Deal. The local park and recreation area was called the Deal Test Site. In retrospect, that’s a bizarre name for a kid’s playground, but I never thought twice about it as a kid. It was called that because they used to do testing of radio tech there, back in the day. The Bell Labs era, in fact, and before then too, as early as the 1920s I believe.
There was an old abandoned radio tower and office building in this park. Just a massive, creepy testing ground sitting there in the middle of a park.
One time when I was in middle school, my friends and I broke into the building and I remember it like a scene from a video game—maybe Resident Evil or Silent Hill. I remember it looking kind of like a 1950s Mad Men office building but covered in dust and garbage—post-apocalyptic zombie vibes.
They didn’t change the name of the park until 1998, so many years after the testing site went out of commission. That’s Garden State Cybergothic.
Nothing is more immobile than a nomad
"Nomads don't travel. Nomads, to the contrary, quite literally, they stay put completely [ils restent immobiles], all the specialists on nomads say this. It's because nomads don't want to leave, because they seize hold of the earth, their land. Their land becomes deserted and they seize hold of it, they can only nomadize on their land, and it's by dint of wanting to stay on their land that they nomadize. So in a sense, one can say that nothing is more immobile than a nomad, that nothing travels less than a nomad. It's because they don't want to leave that they are nomad. And that's why they are completely persecuted." —Deleuze