The Diamond Hands Principle

I’ve followed Reddit investing drama and memes for a while now, and I think it’s time I articulate my understanding. This has the potential to change the course of the economy, and will continue to influence the rise and fall of stocks going forwards if more are adopting it. I will state the “not financial advice” legal disclaimer, but I’m not going to name you specific securities anyway. Let’s talk about what it means to have diamond hands.

Does Diamond beat Paper?

I’ve been through all kinds of investing educational materials, but every time it’s the same things. Set stop orders to lock in profits. Look for analysts you trust. Diversify using ETFs (stocks someone else picked). Invest on margin to get better returns. What if I think debt and loans are a bad idea? What if I think my money choices should be my conscious decision? What if I (someone paid to automate things) think we should be suspicious of automation as a substitute for moral action? What if I think the best choices in life are the ones that require personal sacrifice and only my own skin in the game?

The New Old-Fashioned Way

In the bedrock under the “diamond hands” meme are some pretty old views. What’s funny is the principles most “new” phenomena are based upon aren’t new ideas, they’re just the new way of expressing them. Value Investing is the idea that you should invest in what you deem is empirically worth investing in. In practice it’s the anti-establishment approach to the economy. Good value investors generally follow neither the conventional wisdom nor each other. In the words of early 2021 Redditors, they like the stock. They do their own “due diligence” (or DD) and report and debate each other’s findings. They are skeptical of analysts, who are other humans with their own biases.

Warren Buffet is the name everyone knows when it comes to value investing. But of course, the next thought people have is to grab everything he has said and try to emulate him. That’s the wrong approach. See, here’s the catch: when it comes to value investing – to do it properly philosophically, you can’t just rely on someone else. By the time you know what Buffet invested in you’ve missed the window. You need to think like he did 50 years ago. You have to do your own research, and put money on what you think merits it. You need to own the decision. It’s not a less risky gamble to expect other people to make money for you. It only eliminates effort on your part, oddly in an area of your life you value highly.

Paper Hands

When you trace economic decisions influencing markets, a large share of them are made on the basis of other people’s analysis. This extends to such a large degree that the market will go down merely because society thinks it will, and it will go up because society thinks it will go up. The opposite ordering should be true. People should be able to predict it well based on how companies are performing, not based on public perception of people who don’t even invest. Politicians and activists and other wealthy public figures appear to accrue wealth in conjunction with this influence. To the extent it’s true, it’s punishment of the masses for lack of faith in themselves and for giving their personal power away to people all-too-willing to take charge of it.

Similarly, the modern way of investing money on a day-trading or frequent basis is to sell stocks when they drop a certain percentage from all time highs, or to buy ones when they cross a certain percentage over certain lows. To sell going low, buy going high. It is not an insensible strategy to lock in profits and minimize loss. But it functions as if you are relying on letting the market to decide how you will buy and sell. You are being reactive on your investments, instead of proactive. I, along with some others, think there’s a better way.

The 💎👐 Principle

I equate the principle of diamond hands to what a well-versed religious person calls faith, what a philosopher may call integrity, or trust.

This is the Diamond Hands Principle:

If you like the stock, buy the stock. If the stock skyrockets, do not sell the stock. If the stock drops, do not sell the stock; consider buying more instead.

You have to decide why it is you want to make an investment. You have to decide if the future of a company is bright, if it is innovating, if it is making the right decisions internally. But if you decide it is undervalued and you like the stock, act like it. Have some faith and trust in yourself.

Is it risky or foolish? Those looking mainly to lock in profits the old ways will say yes. I’m not looking to lock in profits immediately. I like the stock. The things I invest in are things I think should succeed.

Buy low, sell high. Hold. HOLD. HODL. Maybe sell a little when it’s high to cut your losses. If you do this wisely, you can eventually remove the amount of money you have invested, and having broken even, hold a good amount with diamond hands until the end of time. But the general rule is to hold, and buy or sell only in rare circumstances. So much so that the typo “HODL” has become an in-joke; some go by the affectionate term “hodlers”.

How to Have Diamond Hands

You can’t simply adopt the principle out of mere wanting to. There’s a reason the Reddit and 4chan frequenters refer to themselves as autistic or as crazed animals. It’s about defying the odds. It’s about staring in the face of losing a lot of money and not blinking. It takes a large amount of courage and some would say a measure of stupidity.

I’ll always laugh at this tragedy from Isaac Newton’s finances. You should read The Intelligent Investor yourself. Buffet did. It’s ancient, you can find a PDF.

Back in the spring of 1720, Sir Isaac Newton owned shares in
the South Sea Company, the hottest stock in England. Sensing that
the market was getting out of hand, the great physicist muttered that he “could calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of the people.” Newton dumped his South Sea shares, pocketing a 100% profit totaling £7,000. But just months later, swept up in the wild enthusiasm of the market, Newton jumped back in at a much higher price—and lost £20,000 (or more than $3 million in today’s money). For the rest of his life, he forbade anyone to speak the words “South Sea” in his presence.

Jason Zweig, commentary on the introduction to Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor

If you want to have 💎👐 and not 🧻👐, it will help to decide what it is you are willing to lose. Don’t invest money that you can’t throw away. I also refuse to trade on margin, which essentially means using your investment as backing to take out a loan to invest more. I believe debt is an evil seldom necessary, and loans to increase gains seems like a deal with the devil for greed’s sake. Personally, I also agree with Elon Musk that shorting (the process of borrowing stock you hate to sell, to own a “negative” amount), should be illegal. It offers infinite risk for rewards.

Those who hold out on an investment seemingly beyond its prime are referred to as the “bag holders”, a term as old as Thomas Jefferson’s usage in 1793. You don’t want to be the person left with the dregs of your collective effort while others run off with the valuables. So what do you do when someone challenges or mocks you? Return to the principle itself. Do you like the stock? Revisit or do more analysis. Go take another look at a company’s big three documents: Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow. If you’re confident in your decision, stick to it. Time will tell. The only true bag holder is the person who sells at a loss. I’ve seen many who sold a stock that collapsed and then rose again, to become bag holders of a stock that was doing well, holding a bag of their own making, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Don’t let other people tell you what you’ve seen and decided. Don’t let other people tell you what to buy or sell until you’ve gone and verified what they say yourself. Trust your own judgement work on improving your own judgement.

Concluding Personal Disclaimer

I recently turned more than a 1000% profit off of one investment in 3 months. That’s mainly what urged me to write this. I knew I would, few else who had the money did, and I couldn’t afford to put forward much at the time. Had I seized another earlier opportunity it would have been a 10,000% or even 100,000% profit. But hindsight is too late, so I look forward to the next good thing.

I am down a little from decline of one heavy speculative investment. The fact of the matter is, I don’t feel I’ve lost that one because I still think that investment is seriously undervalued. I’ve made substantial gains everywhere else so far, and the one “loss” I expect a massive return on soon. It’s not a loss until you sell. I’m willing to live and die by that sword.

My investments are new, and still modest in the 4 digits, but I’ve found they outperform the market whenever it turns down, and keep up when it does well. I am concerned about the value of the U.S. dollar like many other Americans, I suspect an economic downturn soon, and then possibly an upturn after that. Everything comes and goes, but one needn’t be blown about by the short term winds.

There’s nothing constant in life but change, and I plan to have diamond hands in the face of it.

3D Printing: Now What?

So you’re taking the plunge into the strange new world of 3D Printing. You got a new Ender series, or a Prusa, or an Ultimaker, or maybe Makerbot.

Now what? Maybe you got an Ender 3 Pro like me and it’s a bunch of parts that look like they were stolen from a NASA lab, with terrible assembly instructions somewhere between IKEA and a Chinese scam email in clarity.
What do you need to get your first dream pulled down from the ether?

I’m going to try and give you a cheat sheet here for when you get stuck. I can’t cover everything but I can get you the basics I wish I knew going in blind.
It’s all a matter of practice and experience, so seek people on YouTube for answers like Maker’s Muse or whatever comes up in search. Once you’ve watched a few videos the magic of Google will kick in and the recommended videos will have the other things you’re looking for.

Getting Started Then Into It

  1. Assemble it. If your 3D printer requires assembly, do that. Figure it out, be careful, and don’t give up. I did mine for a few minutes late at night over a few days. Being able to sleep on a problem you’re stuck on is a useful tactic in tech, and because prints take hours, you’ll have time. There is no rush in science. If you have an Ender series, you can bug me on social media like Reddit or Twitter. But I think you can figure it out.
  2. Calibrate it. Do your first print bed leveling, and you need to install a slicer on your computer. Find a simple .stl file to print off of Thingiverse and download a program like Cura or use the one that comes with your printer (Prusa has their own) and output a .gcode for your printer. I’ll talk about slicers more below. <Hey you, tighten your X axis belt. It’s too loose> Reddit will help you tweak your printer if you ask for assistance nicely.
  3. Test it. You will have noob problems. Once you get it figured out, the initial wear on your bed will give you more problems. Once you solve those, you’ll have occasional goofing with supports, but once you have experience with each scenario and have opinions on your filaments, you’ll be an expert. I no longer cuss out my derpy black filament for liking a cooler bed. There are several types of test print .stls you’ll find, easily available online.
  4. Design. Once you can print other people’s things online without issues, you’re ready to create your own stuff. There are many programs out there. They are like Gimp versus Adobe, where the free stuff has a high learning curve and the professional licenses want you to sell both your kidneys every year. I was using Blender but switched to the free personal Autodesk Fusion 360 license since the cool kids are using it, and I’m learning that.
  5. Mod. By the time you are comfortable with 3D printing, you’ll have seen people bragging they added drawers and gizmos to theirs that they 3D printed. This is one of the joys of 3D printing – printing things for your printing. You’ll see airflow ducts, levelers, bigger knobs, covers, and so on. I have a few planned myself. Some people replace the whole printing head with stuff bought online.

For the uninitiated, the process to print a thing from start to finish is:

  1. Design or download the .stl file, and edit it as needed (some people add supports and other tricks before the slicer!)
  2. Open the .stl file in the slicer (for me, always Cura) and hit “slice” (after many minutes of fiddling with “ooo what does this do” in profile if it takes too long (2 DAYS AND 14 HOURS WHAT DID YOU CLICK ON) or needs supports) and save a .gcode file. You’ll want to choose quality here. It’s a time/niceness tradeoff. If you cut the size in half, it’ll take 1/8th the time because that’s how mafi-I mean three dimensions works. Try 75% or 80% if size doesn’t matter, to save time. I prefer my medium sized things not much over 4 hours if I have a choice. For small prints, if I could want a lot I like to bring it low at least to see what Cura can do. I made a 2-piece spinning bracelet charm in 2 min once hahaha.
  3. Put the file on the printer and prep the printer (clean? level?). You can eventually set up an Octoprint server on a Raspberry Pi to let you send files to the printer remotely. I’m still moving the microSD card back and forth like a pleb (but hey, Cura auto-detects and then ejects for you!).
  4. Tell it to print.
  5. Panic as you watch in awe and terror as the mystery of creation begins.

This is a workflow, but it’s not a complicated process once you’re doing it. You can go from I WANT THAT to I OWN THIS in 60 sec of download and warm up, then a 2 hour print.

Post-Assembly: Things You Might Need

There’s a number of things you’ll want at some point. You don’t have to have all of them, but you’ll want something from each category if you want to polish off imperfections and debug prints sticking.

  1. Filament. You’ll always want more filament. It’s sold in kg wheels so try not to go too crazy buying because one will last you a long time. They should be $20 to $30. If you can get to the 3D Printing Filament tag kinda hidden under Industrial and Scientific on Amazon you can just check type and size (e.g., PLA, 1.75mm) and then type in only a color name.
  2. A Jewelry Kit. I have this one from Walmart. Specifically, strong needle nose pliers and clippers, and a beam reamer. A bead reamer makes small bead holes bigger, and is like sandpaper and an awl had a evil metal sandpaper baby. Also, get an awl. These are for pulling and cutting and cleaning any supports that don’t come off well, and for poking little ones out of holes.
  3. A misc pack of sandpaper. This is nice to have if a tip is rough.
  4. Cleaning/rubbing isopropyl alcohol. Some say to seek 90%+ but my expired 70% works just fine.
  5. Glue Stick.
  6. Hairspray. These are suggestions by different people to improve bed adhesion. I used to use hairspray but I’m rapidly a glue stick fan.
  7. Paper towels for the above, and maybe some cardstock for leveling.
  8. New plates. Some people use a glass plate to print on and swear by it. I use a golden (fancy plastic) PEI plate now, and it’s really, really nice. It’s magnetic one for my Ender 3.
  9. Calipers. You don’t need them to print a little statue, but if you’re going to print interlocking parts, you can’t afford to be 2mm off. Having this accurate tiny ruler is useful for calibration.
  10. A desk, trash a workspace. 3D printing has a lot of fun and small misc output you’ll toss aside, and you’ll want a place to fiddle. I have an IKEA desk organized for this purpose. I decided to keep all my “interesting garbage” from the beginning in a tiny box, and it’s a fun show and tell bag full of stories to tell.

Calibration and Testing: Problems You Might Have

Not sticking. (Filament go BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR)
Stringing.
Bubbling.
Elephant foot.
Not sticking.
Melty tips.
Warping.
Why the $#!+ isn’t it sticking.

You’re going to have one of these happen. It’s only a matter of time, and you don’t really have a good feel for how to easily avoid them until each happens.

Don’t despair! 99% of print failures happen on the first layer. What this means is most of the time, if you can watch it and make it to layer 2 or 3, you’re in the clear. Only a few min wasted ’til you get it right. The exception is in supports, which you’ll learn how to do over time. So here is all of my advice on various printing problems.
You may not need to remember any of this. It’s here in case you get stuck.

  1. Level your print bed. Every couple prints or when you do a really tall one, you’ll want to check this. You should be able to slide a piece of cardstock paper (like a business card) under the head without the paper being scored and/or demolished by it. Watch people do it on YouTube. Closely. You’ll get it with practice. Don’t go too far down or it’ll tear up your bed.
  2. Clean and (re?)sticky-fy your print bed. Apparently finger grease really reduces grip. I use alcohol and then a glue stick mixed with it like Maker’s Muse taught me. I’m a good boy.
  3. Get your head temperature right. Start with expected default temperature, but you can run a common tower print with labels where you adjust it to see what looks prettiest. Stringing happens when it’s too hot and you get a little spider webbing.
  4. Get your BED temperature right. If your bed is too cold, the prints won’t stick. If it is too hot, they will start to stick and then be ripped off soon after. I had the latter at 60C and for some small prints I turn it down to 55 or 50. The lower you can safely turn this, the less elephant foot you get on the bottom, if your bed is level and not too low.
  5. Don’t hold in one spot. A slicer may not be smart enough to not do this, so if you’re doing a sharp upward point that goes blobby try printing a thin cylinder nearby to force it to move the head away for a second. You can’t always just turn the head colder while it’s printing. Too cold and you get another problem. I solved a serious problem with a pair of earrings I made (printed upright for quality) simply by printing both at once! hahaha
  6. Regulate air flow. Warping happens if the bed isn’t sticky on the ends and the bed is hot and the air above is cold. If the bottom of the print is hot and the top is cold, it might bend up off the plate and disappear that part of the print. If still you really struggle, try buying an enclosure for your printer. Warping on long skinny things is the hardest to fix.
  7. Retraction and Z-Hop. Now we’re getting into slicer setting territory. If you tell it to suck in (retraction) before it travels more, it will not drag strings as much. If you enable a z-hop, it will move up a hair before going over, and not rip tiny prints off the plate.
  8. Rafts. Slicers can print thin little platforms around your print to FIRMLY GRASP the plate. Try this if you’re printing something skinny and tall that barely touches the plate, like a kazoo for your undeserving toddlers.

Design Stuff

I’m just now beginning this so I don’t have a lot of professional advice other than take the time to learn new tools. I’ve already printed things I made in Blender and have a very crisp STL from Fusion 360 I’m waiting to print, but my advice is “pick a tool and learn how to model”. Computer modelling is and endless rabbit hole of stuff that you don’t need for printing. Look up video tutorials like this Fusion 360 playlist I’m following. You just need to know how to make something geometrically and put it in an STL. If you’ve printed things before trying to design like I’ve suggested, that’s all there is to it.
It’s no different than slicing any other STL, as long as you cleaned up your vertices and didn’t make a mess of your faces if you’re using a less smart tool.

Tools in the wild right now include Blender, TinkerCAD, FreeCAD, Fusion 360, a bunch of expensive corporate products for metal shop machining, and a bunch of 3D animation and game modelers like Blender and Maya. If you can make a 3D model, you can print a 3D object. Worst case using one of those, import it into Blender and make Blender do the conversion to an STL. Preferably without Adob- I mean Autodesk stealing all your money, yet the snots are still in this paragraph three times somehow.

Internet On Your Side

If you want to get into modding or participate in the community, you can check out some of these.

Maker’s Muse on YouTube. At this point I deserve a sponsorship deal. But seriously there’s nothing you’ll ever ask that he hasn’t answered. (Unless it’s an absurd question in which case see CNC Kitchen lol)
Major Hardware on YouTube. He’s a dork. Look for a playlist of his ongoing custom CPU fan showdown.
CNC Kitchen on YouTube for crazy experiment entertainment.
You’ll also see Modbot, Make Anything, Integza, Let’s Print, Stuff Made Here, and all the other somewhat clickbaity channels, take whatever inspiration from them you will. 3D printing is a place where the amount of potential vastly exceeds the ideas people have had, so feel free to wander best-prints clickbait looking for ideas and you won’t be disappointed.
https://www.reddit.com/r/3Dprinting/ for a community to lurk on and imitate. They made a Getting Started wiki for you too!
I lurk on https://www.reddit.com/r/ender3/. I’m sure there’s more forums like it for other printers.

Actual Algorithms (Are Fun)

As a computer scientist, I get pretty annoyed with the constant cultural usage of the term algorithm. There seems to be an unwritten rule that whenever a technical concept is brought into the mainstream cultural discussion, it will be bastardized into the void away from its original meaning. Nowadays it’s used to denote “that internet code.” People talk about the YouTube algorithms, the Facebook algorithm, the Google algorithm, the Amazon algorithms, the Twitter trending algorithm.

I hate these people. Ha, I try not to hate the people, just the behavior. Yet that is certainly one of my pet peeves – people using technical words without conveying what the words actually mean, commonly because they themselves don’t actually know. Poor usage spreads and the word loses meaning. To contrast, you can check wikipedia on algorithms. It’s dry reading and believe me, that’s a feature and not a bug.

To those who are always talking about “the algorithms”, kindly be a little more wary. Most of your online experience nowadays is governed by machine learning statistical engines with very big tables and very fancy heuristics, but it’s really arcane and not very algorithm-y, which is near the root of many of the controversies. For instance, a trainable neural network that you can teach to recognize written numbers is easy enough to do but no expert doing it knows how, and it only works most of the time. If we did, we’d have much cooler algorithms. We don’t, so Google uses their I’m-not-a-robot CAPTCHA to force you to help them train their bots by labeling crosswalks and stop signs. Algorithms are an actual thing, not fancy models that work most of the time.

Precise definitions of the word algorithm can convey to someone educated on relevant subjects a whole rainbow of ideas, thoughts, and worlds. The word algorithm should be like the word library, a word that can connote the Dewey Decimal System, that crazy lady you feared when your books were overdue in school, or rows and rows of books above your head, and that lovely smell of old books – there really is nothing quite like it. Algorithms, similarly, should connote to people titans of technology, pioneers like Turing or Knuth, magical answers to age-old problems, famous puzzles and thought experiments, and math tricks to solve the unsolvable.

Let’s make a definition, what should be denoted:

Algorithm – a finite sequence of well-defined instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation, in a finite amount of space and time, in a well-defined formal language.

This is my own definition, contrived from that wikipedia article I told you to look at. There isn’t an agreed upon precise definition philosophically, partly because of its extremely meta-abstract (even the abstractions are abstract!) nature. (See arcane bickering here).
I’ll emphasize a few things here then we’ll move on:

1. It’s finite. That means it can be complicated but not infinite.
2. well-defined. A good one is like 2+2, there’s no nuances.
3. “instructions” is a great almost-synonym.
4. it’s instructions to compute or solve a problem.
5. it’s useless unless it uses finite (not-infinite) space and time. This is a big attribute I’ll detail in a bit.
6. “in well-defined formal language” they are somehow logically defined, and Spock must approve on the minutia.

If math is mostly playing with nouns, algorithms are mostly verbs. In some sense, algorithms are the playing.


How is this fun? I hear you. I want to talk about what the word should connote, rather than denote. I want to give you a feel, not a definition. Let’s talk about the most fun and easy introduction to algorithms: sorting.

Sorting problems are every computer science nerd’s first fun project. Given a list of random items, like socks or numbers or people of different height, what’s the fastest way to put them in order?

Simple problem, right? WRONG. As it turns out, which way is faster depends on the data set and what ways of shuffling them around you have available. Some of the fastest ways of sorting are actually terrible if they’re already almost in order. And then if you have extra space to make copies or take notes as you sort, you might be able to sort faster in less steps. That’s called a space-time trade-off. Towers of Hanoi is an old puzzle game that on the other extreme makes you sort with as little space as possible. It can be converted into binary because it literally can’t be smaller. (More on Towers of Hanoi and math)
More variables and options is more space, and more steps is more time, and you might decrease one by increasing the other.

Here is a brief introduction to sorting algorithms. I’ll summarize a few classics and have a link for more info. Gifs will make them fun. Wheeeee.

Bubble Sort
Are we done moving yet?

Bubble sort is the sort almost everybody thinks of first. If you haven’t read ahead, come up with your own sort first and see if it’s this one. It sucks, but don’t be ashamed. It’s a start.
Step 1: pick a pair of things and swap them so they’re in order.
Step 2: repeat moving groups around until they’re in order.
It sucks because it’s O(n2), which is math talk for saying twice as many things to sort will take 4 times as long. You want your sort to take O(n log(n)) or O(n) if you can manage it (and the O(n) ones are usually theoretical or complicated).

Insertion Sort
Brrrrrrrrrrrr

Insertion sort also sucks (O(n2)) and is like another flavor of bubble sort with its simplicity.
Step 1: Grab the first two items and sort them
Step 2: Repeat adding the next item and putting it where it goes

This might be the other one you thought of. It’s not that bad IRL. Very little to keep track of if you don’t struggle making room each time.

Selection Sort
And the next one, …

Selection sort sucks even worse than the above because it’s O(n2) in the best case. The other ones can be more like O(n) if you’re lucky.
This is the first one I think of.
Step 1: grab the biggest or smallest thing and put it on the end
Step 2: grab the next biggest or smallest thing.

The problem is you have to spend your time looking at everything for the next one, every time. It’s a good one to think about however, because if you managed to keep track of what you found as you compared them the first time, you might be able to make a space-time tradeoff.

Quicksort
Kids in the front! Smile Timmy!

Enter Quicksort. The name is a dead giveaway. This is the not-so-humble “hahaha rekt” sort that kicks butt most of the time. Don’t think of it as the fastest sort. Think of it as the arrogant sort that has weaknesses but is usually so good it makes other sorts mad. It divides and conquers.
Step 1: pick one thing. call it the “pivot”. Pick the middle or randomly, people argue over how to pick a pivot.
Step 2: move smaller ones to the left and bigger ones to the right.
Step 3: Take each half and repeat, going deeper. When you only have 2 left, put them in the right order and you’re done with those.

It’s a devilishly elegant O(n log(n)), but can take O(n2) if unlucky. Sometimes the hare takes a nap and oversleeps.

Mergesort
Alright gang, let’s split up!

Mergesort can go almost as fast as Quicksort, but it doesn’t trip at the finish line at random. The idea is divide and conquer O(n log(n)) like Quicksort, but from the other direction where you combine and conquer.
Step 1: Split in half, then repeat until it’s all groups of one.
Step 2: Go backwards to the last step and combine those two sorted, then three or four, until you’re done and it’s sorted.

It requires you to keep track of a bit more, but I’ve heard it said operating systems can do it fast with files. Notice it may use more space, and takes less time! I’m sure I could make a Fullmetal Alchemist joke here about the law equivalent exchange.

Heapsort
Like I said, complicated.

Remember when I noted some faster ones were more complicated? Heapsort is a last one I’ll mention. Remember when I said Selection Sort was good to think about because it’s easy to improve? This is where you can end up if you chased that white rabbit (wild goose?) of keeping track of what’s sorted. It can compete with Quicksort and Mergesort.
Step 1: Build a heap.
Step 2: Sort it by swapping one not sorted with the top and trickling down
.
What’s a heap? It’s a binary tree like you’ll see in the gif. You build this tree and then sort them so the big ones are at the bottom, by finding a little one compared to its parent and then swapping it with the top one and bubbling it down. The secret is mathematically the number of changes you have to do is O(n log(n)) once you’ve built the heap, because as you move each new one down into its right spot, you only have to look at a few, you forget about the other branches. Do some more research if this is the only one that confuses you. There are several ways of doing it.

Takeaway

Learning algorithms is a lot like taking a ride through a series of thought experiments and seeing how fast or high the roller coaster is. It’s educational to realize how many different ways you can solve a simple problem, and that crucially, not all ways of solving problems are remotely equal. And if you find a better way than anyone else, you’ve added to humanity’s genius.

Let me know what you think because if I can get people interested in the subject I’d love to do a series on algorithms. Searching graphs and hard problems and puzzles and riddles that if you solved unlock secrets of the universe are worthy of talking about. Algorithms are at the heart of our best known ways of solving problems. It’s a good mental exercise to answer a question correctly multiple different ways. It might even make you smarter.

Be Quiet.

Peace, be still. Listen. Hush. Shush. Breathe. Be quiet. There’s a lot of us online who spend way too much time speaking or spectating. Don’t be one of them all the time. You don’t have to reply to every post or even acknowledge every reply to you. Sometimes the hardest path and one less traveled is to not take the journey others do at all.

We live in a very noisy world – literally and figuratively. I spent the weekend at our state’s aquarium and it had awkward soundproofing triangles on the side because of the noisy roads nearby. (Easier to see in this ancient pic below)

SHELBY DOBSON / LOVELAND LIVING PLANET AQUARIUM

What kind of metaphorical soundproofing do you have in your life? We’re constantly barraged by advertisements online and streams of posts from our friends and peers, and news articles are always fighting to be as psychologically loud as possible. What do you think this is doing to us? We’re getting louder and louder. We’re becoming less able to hear good things that are quieter. Truth of the matter is, we’ve been in this deafening noise for so long that some of us seem to have forgotten what it’s like to step outside of it.

Step outside of it. Every day in this tough year I see another acquaintance snap and make a drastic negative life change because they can’t take it anymore. Divorce and breakups, quitting a career, torching a project, permanently cutting off friends, suicide. People “can’t take it anymore.” The only way you’re going to be able to survive and succeed in a perpetually negative noisy world is to manage to get outside it and know the opposite exists, and what it looks like. A lot of still-successful celebs and commentators I’ve noticed will do so once a year with some kind of “break”. Even they need to be quiet sometimes.

I want to examine just three simple things you can do to bring more peace and balance in your life if you’re roped into tumultuous news and entertainment. (I have more but let’s narrow it down to a few you’ll remember)

1. Take a Sabbath

The word comes from Shabbat, the Hebrew origin that dates at least back to Moses’ 10 Commandments. For practicing Jews that’s Saturday. For most Christians, it’s Sunday. But you don’t have to be religious. It’s a generic principle. You need to take time to mentally rest from the crap you have to put up with every other day of the week.

Decide what that would look like to you. Maybe your phone is always turned off all day on the first day of each month. Maybe you refuse to open certain social media apps on a certain day of the week. Whatever you do, you need to define it as a law that you live by, one nearly as big as “don’t kill people”. One public figure takes an entire month away from being online, with assistance from peers to find out what was missed. What matters is that you take a well-defined regular quiet break. Do what fits into your own work schedule.

2. Meditate

Do you know how hard it is to do nothing on purpose? For some of us, it’s boring. For others, it’s a nightmare that lets our inner demons have a voice. Many of us don’t want to be left alone with our thoughts. For those and many more, to go meditate on purpose about their life and problems is a terrifying idea that takes legitimate courage to face a little introspection.

Introspect. Take time to sit on the floor quietly with your eyes closed for 10 or 15 minutes. Set an alarm if you have to. You can hum or empty your mind and think of nothing and see what bubbles up. You could have paper and pencil ready. You could only focus on your breathing. You don’t even have to call it meditation if you think it’s silly. But we don’t get enough of it. You may even find time to meditate on the go, if you go running without music like I do. But if you don’t give yourself time to introspect, you forego one of the only ways to course-correct your life and improve where you’re headed. And maybe if you faced those demons they’d leave and take some anxiety and stress with them.

3. Write

This is one of the reasons I have this blog now, but I write elsewhere too. Writing has a deeply therapeutic effect on a cluttered soul. When you write down what’s on your mind, it suddenly doesn’t have to be on your mind anymore. You can clear and quiet your mind. I’ve encountered this numerous times, where I finally write down a list of things that have been secretly plaguing me and then suddenly I can think and breath again.

I can’t overstate the value of coping with stress, anxiety, and possibly depression by writing. Barf your mind onto a page. Make it a note document you can conceal from everyone. Spill it. Start a journal or diary. Let it all out and see how it affects you. You’ll feel better once you realize you can have a paper therapist. It might help you become aware of things you keep forgetting, and you’ll be able to look back a few weeks later and see what ended up mattering versus what didn’t age well.

Takeaway

It doesn’t matter how you go about it, but if you can’t give your subconscious some ways to participate in your life, you’ll go crazy. We’re seeing it happen to all kinds of people this year. If it means you have to start hiking into the mountains, do it. It’s one of the reasons people find various vacations alluring. You need one around once a week. There was a time in our culture where that’s what weekends were for, but we rush into them so hard or work on those days now and we’re less sane and less mentally healthy than ever. If you haven’t, start doing something for your present or future self. Turn down the signals. Find time to be quiet.

Among Us: 2020 Sus

If you aren’t familiar with the trending game Among Us, I think it’s worth finding out more about, because I think its viral-ity comes at this particular time (summer 2020) for specific reasons in the collective unconscious. It is an indie game made by a small creator, not a big gaming company. It has been around for a few years, but only now went super viral. I wanna look at why it exploded so huge they cancelled a sequel.

In Among Us, you play in a self-explanatory group game of ten people. You are astronauts arriving at an abandoned space ship and fixing it back up. Each of you has a set of trivial tasks to do. They’re tiny minigames like connecting 4 pairs of dots or swiping a card through a reader. If you do, you win. But there’s a catch: one of you is an Imposter, an assassin bent on killing everyone. Each time a dead body is found or an emergency button is pressed, a meeting is called and somebody is voted off the ship and thrown into space.

Simple enough? It’s a digital variant of a game many of us played when we were young called something like “assassin”, where heads would go down, an assassin would pick somebody to die, and the group had to identify who it was.

Why now? The game has been around but few played it. Suspend your disbelief and assume for a moment my frame of reference: I like to think there are almost no coincidences like this in the world, only complex patterns we fail to identify. I tend to think at least most viral things go viral for a reason, and that reason has to do with the online humanity at the time, even if we never do discover why a thing gets popular.

Right now Americans are roped in the drama of another political election, a massive high stakes game of deciding who to trust. We’ve had a terrible year, with members of society reporting each other and covering their faces with masks. We have had violent riots and a breakdown in many formerly-civil public discourses. After a rough summer, many people are looking for something to settle down and tune out even while paying attention to the news. Perhaps they’ve already decided who they’ll vote for and put it out of mind. 2020 has been a long year filled with looking for who to blame, and it has torn down our ability to trust each other and anything, and we have been desperate for a way to cope with it.

Enter Among Us. Twitch streamers started playing it in the early phase of 2020 but critical mass was hit right as the summer was ending and all of a sudden almost everybody I know online is playing this little 5 dollar game. It’s FUN, but so are a lot of games. Seriously go play it some. If you like, you can try playing with friends! It’s a barrel full of laughs. Go look up YouTubers playing it if you’re coming totally from the outside.

I think Among Us is what we needed. We needed a childhood game to serve as a simulator of being betrayed or literally back-stabbed. Those worth their salt in the psychological professions will tell you that exposure therapy is one of the most effective ways at helping people overcome their mental challenges – their fears and phobias. We’re SO TIRED of 2020 we don’t want to think about it anymore. And yet, we’re looking for a “new normal”, a new way to look at the world that isn’t discouraging and can help us move forward in spite of the fears. Having a videogame where you do it is a good way to practice.

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I like to think Among Us is going to have a massive positive dampening effect on the culture. I think in time there will be less incentive to protest in the streets. Maybe we can’t ignore the challenges of trusting other people in news and media any longer, and need an easy way to start doing it. Maybe we need to practice working together in spite of things we fear. Maybe we need to bond with friends or even total strangers as we take turns in a group being a devious monster and then laughing about it.

It’s Time for You to 3D Print

Everyone I talk to seems interested in 3D printing but hasn’t pulled the trigger on buying one yet. Why? They’re getting stupidly cheap.

Every decade or so a new technology comes along that changes the way society functions. This has been true for almost a century. One of the problems I’m noticing in recent years is that there’s a decline or split in this cycle. People seem to be declining opportunities to try something new. Maybe they look at the new thing as an oddity, or a fad. Maybe times are tough, maybe they’re skeptical that it’s for them. It’s new, it’s too complicated, or something like that. Then they go and get the next gaming console that’s not noticeably better than the last one, or sit in front of [latest B-quality show] on [streaming service].

We’ve had virtual reality and 3D printing for years now but they haven’t had the success that home paper printers or walkmans and iPods did long ago. I don’t see all the cool kids on the internet doing things like VR for more than a single video for clicks. It’s a lot of fun, and should be the wave of the future if more of the average people signed on to be a part of it. But it remains only a gimmick.

I feel like we’ve fallen into a cynical postmodern age, where we no longer believe in the new and the modern. I really think it’s going to hurt us if we don’t find a way to break free. You can’t have hope for the future if it’s not something you want to participate in! If I can’t get you to write software, at least maybe I can get you to learn to make things this way. More fun for less effort.

I guess what I want people to hear from me this fall season of a dismal 2020 is that the future is for you. What’s mainly stopping us from moving forward personally and as a civilization is ourselves, far as I can tell. We aren’t daring to dream of what could be anymore. Too many of us are so caught up in worries about what’s in the news that we don’t have a vision anymore.

Remember when the internet was new? Remember when the whole world opened up before us? That’s what 3D printing is. If you’re in technology, the combination it with Arduino and Raspberry Pi allow you to make virtually anything you can dream of. The world is opening up to those getting into this and I see too many standing on the sidelines still. Go make an army of robots! Nothing’s stopping you anymore.

It’s time to start dreaming again. I’m still a novice at 3D printing but I already have a lot to show for it, and I haven’t even started designing yet! I’m just pouring excellent creations out of Thingiverse. GO TAKE A LOOK please. (The search is a little clunky with how they use URLs so navigate back to the home before doing another search, but there’s cool stuff everywhere.)

Right now you can get a popular (well supported by the community!) 3D printer called the Ender 3 Pro for a little over $200. Rolls of filament are all over Amazon for $20-$30 for a massive 1kg wheel. I don’t think i’ve used half my first wheel and now I’m stockpiling a bunch of new types. Look at some of this stuff! Color changing, glow in the dark, clear, metallic, even red ones with glitter inside you could make ornaments with! For those getting better at it, some printers and filament allow you to print wood. They have sawdust as the main component. Sounds like work to deal with its issues, but the products are gorgeous, just l0ok up some YouTube videos.

I think we’re long overdue for everyone, and I do mean everyone, to own a 3D printer. Long, long overdue. This is bigger than AOL or iPods. I don’t know why it took me so long. It’s time for you to dive in when you have a weekend to toy with it. There’s a lot of things you can make with 3D printing that are hard to make with traditional plastic molding used for the stuff you see in toy aisles. I’ll be making one of those zip cord helicopter disk launchers in the next week or so. I’ve just been printing whatever looks good, and soon i’ll be coming up with my own things.

We’re living in an era of game-changers that many of us are letting blow right by us as we work our day jobs and then waste time talking about events on social media. The darkness of winter is coming and it’s time for you to add something to your spirit and mental health if you haven’t, and it’s never been easier to learn to do something more exciting. Do yourself a favor and make a flexi rex, and giggle as it wiggles. Be able to say I made this.

Material Design: Meta-Aesthetic for Noobs

I’m still stuck on a problem with my React Native code handling events, so for now let’s…talk about something else. Design.

One of the skills everyone who has modern dreams of making things needs to have is design. Unfortunately, too many artistic people get so wrapped up in their own aesthetic they make things horrifically unwieldy. Incidentally, the same problem happens with scientific and rational people, who get so caught up with abstract functionality they too can bury it in plain sight.

Google decided the world needed to merge the arts and the techs into something that made sense in all resolutions, so they started a project that I still revisit again and again, and it’s called Material Design.

You’ve seen it before. It’s an attempt to make user interfaces on apps for desktop, web, mobile, tablets, … pick your screen, to not be terrible. Apple are the only big holdouts trying to do their own thing, but if you use anything else, you’ve seen it. Windows 8 onward uses parts of it. It’s not the only design system. What’s important to understand is that it is a very good system that gives the average person an easy go-to for making something usable.

I highly recommend, if you have any desire for taste at all, that you spend some time with it (if you haven’t heard of it). You don’t need to be in my line of work. It’s about learning how to convey a brand or identity. Start here. They offer seven studies they did, seven comprehensive thought through examples across industries and products, to design fictional apps to show what it would look like.

Seven Designy Samples

Basil is a cooking and recipe example with an eye to food. It’s green and orange on yellow scheme is one that would make little sense anywhere else. It’s all in on evoking something memorable and showing off a list-making app of ingredients and instructions with pictures. It’s a catalog architecture, like a library.

Crane is a travel and booking example. If anything it shows that even purple can be made professional. It’s a great education on calendaring, communicating options with locations, outings, and availability. They show off picking an airline seat and timetables, and then cover doing a checkout or browsing resorts. It relies on a flow architecture, the pattern of having a linear process of steps for the user to walk through.

Fortnightly is a news example. Simple enough. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if you’re more familiar with apps designed like this. It’s all about content, content, content. Articles everywhere, a search, and readability maxed a user can get through what’s being said. I think it’s a good way to show having a memorable brand while still being super mininal, and out-of-the-way “read-friendly”. It’s also a catalog structure like Basil.

Owl is an education example. It goes hard for vibrant primary colors. The spirit of it is to have totally different main colors depending on what you’re doing, giving you a way to have multiple aesthetics within your one aesthetic. They use yellow for customizing, blue for browsing, and a red/magenta accent for the learning process, which shows a plain white or dark mode for learning/reading and watching videos. The architecture is hub and spoke, where each section has a hub, and each hub has leaf nodes – the “spokes” are the lessons in a course hub. Think of it as a tree structure, but designed as if it’s just a couple tiny ones, each root is the hub, with a bunch of immediate leaves.

Rally is a money example. It takes night mode and runs with it. The color emphasis is subtle gray variants, with a rainbow of thinly used palettes, using one accent here, and another there. The focus of this one is data representation. Bars, pie charts, graphs, wheels, goals, up/down fluctuations, and transaction listings. It also focuses on doing good warnings and other notifications. It’s a hierarchical structure.

Reply is a communication example. It’s modeled after an inbox and smells like GMail (gee, i wonder why /s). Man if only GMail was as nice as this however. It’s plain like Fortnightly, but picks excellent accents. This one shows off a text-with-pics communication medium. It shows a way to cram people into an interface with nice little avatars or “to:” fields.It has an inbox-like architecture, we’ve all used one. You have inbox,trash,drafts, etc.

Shrine is a retail example. Kinda has an Etsy or Pinterest vibe, but soft pink. It puts emphasis on how to give each image maximum attention, with some very unusual organization approaches. It does color and size selection components, but the primary goal is to give way to the products themselves, to make whatever image is placed on it pop. One pattern it shows is having a cart. As you might guess, it’s a catalog architecture.


Each of them gives you a different example of how to take a very particular kind of data and make it do its job. Basil is recipes(lists+instructions), Crane is linear signup, Fortnightly is journalism, Owl is schooling, Rally is number crunching, Reply is socializing, Shrine is sales. The seven can show a how-to, plan, read, learn, calculate, correspond, or buy design setup, respectfully.

One of the most painful parts of seeing good design studies is you’ll wish you could use these very apps that are pretend. I love Fortnightly’s aesthetic so much I’d wish to see it repurposed for something bigger than mail. I would have to put Shrine as least impressive myself, but it’s not meant for people like me so maybe I’m biased. Which one is your favorite? Least? Which one do you think does its job best?

Thinking in 4D

I want to mention of one of my favorite mental exercises: thinking in higher dimensions. I find it’s useful to expand your ability to visualize difficult things. (I should do a list of brain workouts!) These nerd kings will take you on a journey, and I want to go over the 4D part. (You might watch it more than once when you have time, until you can grasp it!)

Try conceptualizing 4D objects. It’s not easy to handle higher dimensions, but I encourage you to try the fourth specifically. One of the common ways of describing the fourth dimension is to use time as another axis. This has the benefit of showing you an animation of something changing shape to describe all the 3D “slices”, showing you the whole thing. The problem is it introduces a bit of a crutch, in that it feels a lot more like regular 3D, hiding the nature of that extra dimension.

If you are going to imagine something changing shape over time, you need to also imagine that all of the vertices on the object are connected through time to each other. You have to imagine that a certain subset of the frames, even if just the first and last, are all connected by lines you can’t see. See the problem? That’s why it’s easier to imagine the fourth as something like scale instead, when introducing it. Just pretend you can go smaller forever like you can go bigger.

Here is what a 4D rotation looks like on its fourth axis. It’s fun.

A 4D cube, a tesseract, rotating on the fourth axis. Rotation on other axes look normal.

Make sure you remember that 4D objects are built out of 3D objects. You need to think of the tesseract as 6 squished cubes connecting the inner and outer cubes. Those 8 cubes are what a tesseract is made of. Don’t think about it as points and lines too much, or you’ll miss what you’re trying to visualize. Here’s a way to fold and unfold it that might help.

See all 8 cubes.

I really think that’s the one you ought to have down by now. Now go back and watch the first Avengers movie and you might look at the blue cube different. If you’re religious, you can go see Salvador Dalí’s Corpus Hypercubus.

Once you have that down, you can begin to think about the other five regular convex polytopes. You might know that the platonic solids mentioned in the video are the D&D dice (minus the d10 diamond). Well, you can think of these as the main six 4D dice.

What fun are 4D dice if you don’t roll them?

Nobody would expect you to grasp 120 squishy dodecahedrons. I still recommend trying to study the first four to expand your mind. The first three should be reasonably within reach. For fun, we’ll end with the 120-cell from the inside.

Post Better Memes

Let’s talk about making better memes, shall we?
Let this be the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Memes for Dummies.

One of the biggest problems people who mature past age 12 have with the world is other people with a cringy sense of humor. Quite often it begins with dad jokes of a relative, or an annoying kid at school.
Were you that kid? Are you that cringy annoying family member to people on the internet today? Is your family on Facebook secretly wishing you’d leave the internet in peace? Now that I’ve made you paranoid, let’s talk about what makes for good memes.

Humor for many is difficult to define. The categories are a bit easier. Generally, good memes are referential humor, as opposed to taboo or slapstick humor, where the former is often frowned on and the latter relegated to AFV and terribly unfunny laugh tracks. I won’t claim to be an expert or define humor for you, but there’s a certain easier aspect of humor with memes I want to highlight: context. One of the factors that makes a joke or a meme successful is it’s ability to resonate. This means that it has to: 1) Connect with your target audience and 2) Not have to explain itself.

Most people aren’t that witty and are very bad at context, so their “memes” will be too explanatory in a way that isn’t funny. In fact, many of them will lead with the punchline as title, to the tune of crickets. I’m here to address that and other pitfalls by example.

The key challenge is that you want the joke to be reasonably obscure so it dawns on the audience, but not esoteric as possible. You’re going to have to learn to walk the line; it’s a spectrum where you’re going to have to make a choice. An introverted joke for a few friends is most likely to get the best laughs, but only from these few. An extroverted joke for the whole world can get the most small laughs, but in the larger pool you have terrible odds that anybody cares at all. Personally, my recommendation is to avoid attention-seeking memes altogether. They are a time waste, just as casinos are a money waste. If you do get your 5 seconds of fame you’ll be forgotten. Be the kind of person who makes a meme intended to make just 1 or 2 buddies laugh, without being terribly obscure.

Show, don’t tell.
I had a friend, famous for a particular post, pass on a “see what people say you’re known for” conversation starter. Rather than referencing the obvious post, I think I got a few smiles by referencing another one. My response? SCHLORP

SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP SCHLORP

As a timeless example of subtlety in a joke, the better you understand Shakespeare, the more you may appreciate his cleverness. He embeds ironic or subtle jokes! They too frequently go over people’s heads, like this one:

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.

Polonius, Hamlet

The following are some rules to get you thinking about how you can improve your social media meme posts.

Rule 1:
DON’T crop off comic artist handles; try hard to credit them
DO avoid illegitimate watermarking sites or even crop them off
Stay away from iFunny, 9GAG, r/funny, and other mills that spew mindless content for half-laughs, with watermarks. They’re soul rot.
See this artist’s frustration. He is articulate and demonstrates the problem.
Trust me when I say anything of value you find there, the same can be found closer to its source in the telephone chain; you aren’t missing anything. They post many very old memes mixed with the new, which some of your peers saw many years ago. I’ve even seen them post ones from 90s chain emails your grandma may have seen. Look up your favorite comics’ artists and follow THEM on social media instead.

Rule 2:
DON’T attach text or title to a picture needlessly
DO come up with your own caption or crop off whatever text you can
Stop putting the punchline in the title. Most importantly STOP putting laugh tracks on your pictures. Nothing kills a joke more than “HAHA THIS IS SO FUNNY 🤣🤣🤣” or “THIS IS SO ME” or “I CAN HEAR” or “RELATABLE” doesn’t matter the format, stop introducing your “meme” to death. An article title is (only?) ok if it is the meme.

Rule 3:
DO use text that is easy to read
DON’T use IMPACT FONT.
For the love of Kilroy make it stop. Have some basic typographic sense. People are getting really tired of random pictures with nonsense in big letters.

Rule 4:
DO find the most original sources and templates you can
DON’T use terribly jpeg-artifacted images

1683: Digital Data, from Randall Munroe’s XKCD

Rule 5:
DON’T try to make a point
DO aim to make people laugh
Ideologues can’t meme. I want that to stick in your brain.
So we’re clear, ideologues are people who belong to cults of an idea (activists). Politics is always a mixed bag when it comes to humor, but it’s always ruined by “comedians” attempting to persuade people to their side or disparaging their perceived enemy. Ironically, politicos who put the most effort into memes have the least success. I’m writing this in an election year and we will continue to see a lot of very not funny “memes” with entire manifestos injected into a picture. There will be exceptions that are funny, but they are most likely to be by people making jokes at the expense of their own “side”. This is often somewhat rare in that environment.

Takeaway

As long as your goal is to do anything other than to evoke a recognition and smile or laugh out of an audience you genuinely care about, you’re probably not going to have a lot of success.
If your goal is to get the most friends and approval and lots of little hearts, you’re not only going to fail but you’re wasting your time. The few people who don’t fail at that tend to sell their moral character and principles to maintain the attention, too. There are plenty of ways to make content your peers will enjoy, and maybe even grow your own brand, without removing credits or adding/keeping laugh text. Have faith in your own memes enough to not give or keep their explanation. Learn to crop, do so respectfully, and maybe learn some basic image editing apps. A little less laziness goes a long way.

Since you made it to the bottom, here’s my current most viral tweet of all time.

Don’t be a POTP

Part of the problem with being part of the problem is that you cause part of the problem and that’s problematic.

Ears bleeding yet? Good. (unless you still like the words, in which case I’ll spam it some more until you don’t. Surely this is a good way to acquire a readership!)

Politics ruins everything, and it’s all the other side’s fault. We hate them, and we’re justified in it because everything that’s going wrong is their fault. Believe us, we’re on your side so obviously we’re credible. If only us reasonable people had more power surely we’d finally be able to deal with POTP (P*rt of the Pr*bl*m). So buy our product, support our creators, subscribe to our news, boycott all of theirs, and vote for our guy (again?), and you can have hope that there will finally be a change for the better.
Hey now, don’t be cynical! If you’re not with us you’re against us.
Don’t be a POTP.


Right now there’s a lot of quiet consensus that something in the United States of America has gone wrong. There’s a lot of debate and disagreement as to what it might be, but everybody is looking for a pattern. You’ll find there are a couple themes among the different theories, just waiting to seduce you. You’ll also find the pattern isn’t new, and that instances of the pattern crop up in every industry, niche, and subculture. Almost independent of which theme seduces you, you’ll have PROOF* your theory is correct.
*which many people will totally reject

I have a theory that everything will be okay. Eventually.
If you’re capable of suspending disbelief, you might agree with me, and you might understand people a little bit better. You might find there are a few things you didn’t yet know about what you knew. But you’re gonna have to trust me, and we’ll get to why.

Let’s start from the beginning.
Things in life are complicated, man. I mean really, really, no-word-suffices complicated. Like there are so many things you and I don’t know, and don’t know we don’t know about, that it’s existentially frightening. That’s like the whole premise of Lovecraftian horror. Dungeons and Dragons finally went mainstream the year after that genre was injected into it, so there’s undeniably gotta be something to it. I’m sorry to say it, but many of those who aren’t bothered by it probably naively haven’t thought about it enough. But it can be OK once you’ve been spooked, we just have to learn how to process that reality day to day.

It’s just an example, you don’t have to read At the Mountains of Madness to appreciate horror movies or the dread of something equivalent to having left the stove on. Humorously, if you actually did leave the stove on, it might actually be ok and not cost you the house. That’s actually pretty close to what I’m getting at here. It’s a bit like we’re living in a time where everyone is so obsessed with whether the stove is on that they are neglecting the other crucial things in life and becoming mentally unstable and scaring people away by screaming at their friends, and making the few not scared away just as crazed. Some threats are real, but the personal threat is likely not, and inability to distinguish between your life and another place results in a distorted worldview that blindsides us constantly.

This wouldn’t be a huge pr*bl*m but for so many bad actors legitimizing scary worldviews for their own benefit at the expense of listeners. It’s an easier path to notoriety to scare other people than actually providing something positive, and too many of us exploit fear, unconsciously or otherwise. (it’s not simply “media”!) It’s all of us, making us spiral downward if we don’t resist it. Try going viral on social media by being optimistic. It’s harder.

Our bodies are divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems; I’ve touched on this before. We’re driven by forces of fear away from things and pleasure towards things. If you’re not posting outrage or porn your luck going viral will be harder. One of things everyone needs to remain mentally healthy, which nobody seems to be getting, is a workout and balance of these systems. In some sense, courage tends to be an outgrowth of mental health, and cowardice the opposite. We need restraint on our concerns much like restraint on our desires. We need to have a fear to face – were it not so we’d avoid all discomfort and wouldn’t consume horror as an entertainment genre. Yet we’re living lives too comfortable at home and letting world news be our horror, which is unwise because it’s not a book you can close. Somebody in another state tragically died of [terrible avoidable thing]! You know people in other states, what if it happened to them!?

So what is to be done? If we’re going to move to a better place, we have to stop spreading fear in each other and start spreading faith in each other. This takes courage to make more courage. One of the ways to establish trust is to risk being the first to lower your weapons. It’s that risk taking in order to “prove oneself” that defines the brave and heroes. We have to start giving people who hate us (read: are afraid) reasons to trust us.

Too often we are afraid to lower our weapons because we feel that’s surrender or that opens ourselves to being shot. What i’m trying to convey is it does. It wouldn’t be brave if there wasn’t a real risk. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So try sending friendly private messages to your enemies seeking common ground. I’ve done so and often they return their own compliment and suddenly we can talk. This is the way forward and I strongly advise you to try it. Whenever you are in a conflict and people are putting up walls or talking past each other, don’t block or mute. DM or follow. Lean in, step forward into no-man’s-land, and see what happens. Maybe you’ll step on a figurative landmine. But there’s a much higher chance you’ll cause a ceasefire. In time you might even dispel the riots and mobs.

Takeaway

We need more heroes. It starts with me and it starts with you. It isn’t simply naive to try, it’s focusing on the light on the other side of darkness. We must first recognize that people begin in naive ignorance, and understand the evils of the world, and then make a gamble and act with a positive outlook anyway. The cynical and “blackpilled” don’t see a difference, but it’s not naive to be optimistic when you know the world is burning. That takes paying attention first, then inner strength to gamble yourself second.

We need to increase trust. We need to be as honest as we can be, give our adversaries credit for what they get right, and talk to them one-on-one. We must discourage inflammatory behavior in our peers and risk losing them.
If we can do this, we’ll find others like us or braver, who we can trust. We’ll find more opportunities to build something, we’ll decrease hate and anger, and we’ll be able to root out rot in our systems. We’ll win friends and begin to form growing, merging, and solidifying bubbles of peace.

Also, if you don’t share this article, you’re part of the problem. *wink*