J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Month: January 2011

How to Accumulate (Non-Coercive) Power, Part I

As it turns out, the door to power isn’t even locked.

This post is a follow up to The Four Types of Power, in which I described different types of power, as follows:

  1. Tyrannical (Coercive, Zero-Sum)
    Ex. monopolies, unregulated financial markets
  2. Diabolical (Coercive, Non-Zero-Sum)
    Ex. slavery, colonialism, human trafficking, illegal tax havens, cons
  3. Competitive (Non-Coercive, Zero-Sum)
    Ex. sports, reasonably regulated economies, marketing/advertising
  4. Progressive (Non-Coercive, Non-Zero-Sum)
    Ex. invention, innovation, infrastructure, education, exploration, creating new markets, connectivity, information sharing

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The Four Types of Power

By the power of Crom!

There are at least four words missing from the English language; words that could more accurately describe the general concept of “power.”  There are different types of power, and they are radically different.

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How and Why to Balance Fat-Soluble Vitamins

She’s probably not deficient in vitamin D.

I admit it, I’ve jumped on the vitamin D “bandwagon.”  I’ve been a part of the “vitamin D craze,” recommending larger-than-RDA doses of vitamin D to my friends and family.  Why?

  • The majority of Americans have low to borderline-low vitamin D levels, due to lack of sun exposure, overuse of sunscreen, overuse of soap (I’ll explain this in a minute), and extremely low consumption of dietary vitamin D.
  • Though most of the evidence is low quality (correlative rather than causative), there is still a great deal of evidence that points to lower risks of heart disease, many cancers, and depression when physiological vitamin D levels are on the high side.

So should every adult be taking 5000IU of supplemental D3 every day?  Absolutely not.

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The Game-Changing Algorithm Nobody Is Looking For (Part III — The Objects)

Micro/macro.

In my first post in this series, I wrote about the idea that reality is comprised of various “layers,” and I raised the question of how, in an evolutionary sense, do we “get” from one layer of reality to another. How did the molecular layer emerge from a universe that (at an early stage) included only atomic elements?  How does the biological layer arise from the molecular/chemical layer?

We know many of the specifics of each “layer jump.”  For example, we know that a type of chemical bond, the covalent bond (electron sharing) allows different elements to bind to each other and create molecules.  In terms of how biological life started on Earth, we have some idea that it had to do with the evolution of self-replicating chains of nucleotides.

Is there a way to model these “layer jumps” in a general sense?  If we could, we could make some incredibly interesting computer simulations.  Perhaps we could model the emergence of biological life, of somatic forms, of social interaction networks, and eventually perhaps even intelligent entities.  With sufficient processing power (maybe driven by quantum computing), we might be able to model an entire universe, including everything from the creation of galaxies and solar systems to the evolution of biological life to the development of culture.

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Distillation — Figuring Out The One Thing That Matters

Distilling Japanese whisky (not what this post is about).

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea that in every field, art form, or “area of life,” there is ONE thing that matters above all else.  One thing, that if you get it right, success in that area is inevitable.

I’m naturally a detail oriented person, so it’s a constant challenge for me to zoom out and see the big picture.  I know from experience that focusing on the wrong details is just a waste of time.  I easily fall victim to the “all tactics, no strategy” trap.  I’ll make myself long lists of things to do to achieve my goals, without taking the time to deeply consider my overall strategy and approach.  I’ll endlessly try to fix things that should just be discarded.  I’ll make judgment calls based on details that I personally appreciate, instead of details that are truly important.

In order to hone my “big picture” skills, I’ve been conducting the following thought experiment: pick one field, art form, or “life area” and try to distill all my knowledge and experience of that area into a single simple idea, the one thing that matters more than anything else in terms of effectiveness, fulfillment, and success by any measure.

The experiment has yielded a number of “Aha!” moments.  I don’t expect you to agree with my results (or care about the same areas), but conducting the same experiment yourself might yield an epiphany or two.

Here are some of my questions and results, in areas that are relevant to my own life:

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2010 Blog Recap, and Why I Blog

Zooming out on 2010.

I started this blog in December of 2009, so I’ve just completed my first full year of blogging (or, as I prefer to think of it, writing and self-publishing essays).  I prefer “essayist” over “blogger” not out of pretension, but because I think it more accurately describes what I’ve been doing; writing about specific topics that I find interesting, in a way that I hope will be interesting, entertaining, and/or useful to others.  Not much personal, day to day stuff.  No recipes.  There’s nothing wrong with that style of blog, it’s just not for me.

So far this site has had about 30,000 unique views.  That’s not a lot, but it’s much more than the “just family and friends” traffic that I expected.  It’s gratifying to know that a wide range of people have enjoyed reading at least some of my posts.  So, thank you readers!

The biggest traffic day was about 4,000 views, from a link someone posted on reddit.com.

I don’t make any money from blogging, nor do I expect to.  I pay WordPress a small amount to host the site, and small additional fees to display the URL as jdmoyer.com (without “wordpress” in the URL) and to suppress advertising (which is how WordPress makes money from the blogs it hosts).  I’m happy to pay these fees so I don’t have to deal with the technical hassles of blog hosting, comment management, etc.  The hosted WordPress tools are great.

Haven't written about this yet, but I will.

Why do I it?  Since I started this site, my mind has been overflowing with ideas for new essays and posts.  I have a spreadsheet going with ideas for about fifty entries … some of which I’ll probably never get to.  I don’t know how long this particular vein of abundant inspiration will continue, but I’m enjoying the ride while it lasts.

The world “outlet” comes to mind.  Not so much creative outlet, but rather persuasive outlet.  I can try to convince others that my opinion is worth paying attention to, without cornering them at a party and lecturing their ear off.  Readers can stop reading whenever they want, without any social awkwardness.  They (you) can freely lurk, or comment.

It’s interesting to watch the stats and see which posts people find interesting.  Some topics that interest me greatly don’t seem to interest other people much at all (or the people who might be interested haven’t yet found this site), and some posts that I wrote quickly and without much thought have been read many times.  For what it’s worth, here are the top five posts (out of about sixty) of 2010 (by number of views).

1. Sleep Experiment – A Month With No Artificial Light
(candle wax, bimodal sleep, feeling unreasonably happy)

2. How I Cured My Asthma With One Simple Lifestyle Change
(a diet change turned around my health and fixed my breathing problems)

3. Minecraft — It’s in Your Head
(a low-res videogame that took over my life for awhile)

4. A Meta-analysis of Kooky Diets, Part III — PALEO!
(3 very fit guys telling you why you’re better off without grains)

5. The Singularity Already Happened – Part I
(my thoughts on the nerd rapture)

 

Or maybe it happened thousands of years ago?

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