J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Month: August 2012

Dan's Plan Total Health Infographic

As regular readers of this blog already know, I often recommend Dan’s Plan as a system for weight loss, fitness, and all-around health. If you’re in the process of creating your own health system, the infographic below is a great resource. It’s complete, clear, and well-balanced.

The philosophy behind the Dan’s Plan health system is the same as my own — in general try to be more paleolithic, while also embracing the benefits of modern civilization and information technology.

The original post is here.

Good health to you!

New Music Videos from Momu, Grimes

A couple more music videos to share today. One of our own (Momu – Rising), directed by Kia Simon. We got up at 3am to make that first sunrise shot. There was a French guy sleeping in the bushes when we got there (Muir Beach). He had a really nice bicycle and full camping gear … some kind of “explore America on a budget” trip I guess. You can buy the album over there on the right (cover art by LEBO).

The second video is by Canadian artist Grimes (Claire Boucher). I like it — mostly because it has lots of medieval weapons in it. Musically, there are incredibly interesting production elements. Stylistically there is a visual melange of Burning Man, hipster-homeless, Britney Spears, Ren Faire, and general LA trashiness. But Grimes is for real. She sailed down the Mississippi on a houseboat, with chickens and a typewriter, reading Mark Twain. Eating only potatoes. Cheers to Grimes.

The Natural End of Capitalism

The bull’s run is over.

Capitalism, as we know it, is reaching the natural end of its global life cycle.

Human beings will retain some of the better aspects of capitalism, including the right to private property, competition in well-regulated markets, robust trade, reasonable compensation for intellectual property, and a modified corporate structure.

The aspects of capitalism that are not long for this world include:

  1. Ayn Rand/Gordon Gecko-style individualism, “greed is good,” disdain for cooperative efforts and collectivist values.
  2. Crass materialism and consumerism as acceptable social norms.
  3. Acceptance of worker exploitation, dehumanizing working conditions, extreme poverty, homelessness, poor nutrition, limited access to healthcare, and substandard education as “necessary costs” in a “free” market economy.
  4. The “predator/sociopathic” corporate charter model, under which corporations are legally obligated to prioritize profit-making over the environment, public health, worker health and safety, research and innovation, public and community wealth, and everything else.

In short, we’re moving towards humane markets (providing for each other) and away from human markets (exploiting each other).

Why is predatory, consumeristic capitalism on its way out? A number of factors are simultaneously converging:

  1. Human population growth is tapering off. Many people alive today will be alive to witness the most significant moment in our collective history — the human population peak. Capitalism is based on perpetual growth, which is not compatible with permanent population decline. Some of the challenges related to population decline will include abandoned cities, rewilding, and permanent economic shrinkage.
  2. We are running into severe environmental limitations. We have triggered the Anthropocene, a geological age characterized by mass extinctions, radical changes in local climates, overall global warming, acidification of oceans from excess CO2 absorption (which will result in almost no fish or coral reefs, but lots of jellyfish and algae), rising sea levels (and massive floods), endless droughts (resulting in the current Dustbowlification of the central US), deforestation, chemical pollution, gargantuan gyres of plastic detritus, and overall ecological shittiness. These problems are a direct result of a devouring capitalist system that sidelines such considerations as “externalities.”
  3. We are in the midst of a radical reorganization of production methods. More and more things are essentially free to produce and distribute, and can be shared/co-created via networks and decentralized production centers (home workshops, personal computers, 3D printers). Open-source production methods, freeware, and peer-to-peer distribution methods directly threaten top-down, strictly controlled capitalistic profit-generation models. Open-source is upending capitalism. Edit – as a commenter on Facebook pointed out, automation (scripting) is doing the same thing for services as peer-to-peer, open source, and 3D printing are doing for products. Humans optional.
  4. Attitudes toward capitalism are changing. The United States, the world’s glowing beacon of capitalistic success, is no longer so shiny. Vast regions of our country display decrepit infrastructure. Cities are going bankrupt. Unemployment is high and underemployment is rampant. Millions go without access to professional healthcare. Our educational system produces only middling results. Wealth inequality is extremely high, and the tax-dodging, politically manipulating plutocrats are fighting tooth and nail to maintain their ill-gotten gains and privileges. Meanwhile, nations that lean more towards social democracy sport better infrastructure, better educated kids, nicer looking cities, cleaner environments, and healthier, happier citizens.

In summary, the 10,000-year pyramid scheme that has been generating wealth at the expense of non-renewable planetary resources has reached its limit. We have exhausted, in order, mega-fauna, pristine virgin forests, fossil fuels, free food from the ocean, fresh water sources, and an atmosphere that regulates temperature, rainfall, and local weather patterns. We have even used up some elements (like helium, which permanently escapes into outer space), and destroyed entire landscapes to extract gold, silver, copper, and rare metals.

The free ride is over, and now we begin a slow, painful deleveraging (both ecological and financial/economic) as we attempt to repair ecological systems and weather our own population peak (in other words, taper off, and not collapse).

So what do we do now? Is all hope lost?

The alternatives to consumeristic predatory capitalism are not mysterious, nebulous, or theoretical. They are already operating and established in many ways, on both large and small scales. Some examples include:

  1. Dozens of countries (including most European countries, but also Canada and Japan) operate more or less as social democracies, and manage to provide healthcare, education, public safety, and other benefits to all of their citizens. Taxes are higher, but income and social inequality are lower. Social trust and happiness tend to be higher in functioning social democracies, which has a lot to do with more income equality.
  2. Large-scale cooperatives such as the Mondragon Corporation provides models for how to simultaneously achieve business excellence and social responsibility.
  3. Open-Source Ecology and their audacious Global Village Construction Set project provide a window into the future of open-source production and distribution methods (beyond information products and into the realm of functioning machines).

Some citizens of the United States are slavishly dedicated to right-wing “winner take all” capitalism, and are outrageously fearful of the lefty pinko “welfare state.” What is really threatening the wealth of our country is not worker benefits, food stamps, public schools, and national healthcare, but rather unfunded long-term invasions of foreign countries, Wall Street bailouts, and ultra-rich tax dodgers.

The Way Forward

Globally, we’ve already explored the consequences of extreme collectivism. We’re not going back. Reasonably regulated free markets are more efficient and generate more wealth than markets that are owned and operated by the state, with no private incentives. I’m not arguing for communism, an end to private ownership, or for “all information to be free” (no intellectual property rights).

What I’m pointing out is that the unstoppable trends of human population peak, the Anthropocene, and open-source production and distribution leave us no choice but to provide for each other during the big deleveraging. Nations that prioritize the health and wealth of citizens over the health and wealth of corporations will fare better during the approaching epoch of restoration, repair, and rewilding.

Is the future of humanity bright? I think it is, especially in terms of scientific and technological progress.

Is consumeristic “winner take all” capitalism the best system for ushering in a bright future for humanity? The Libertarian Space Men think so. I’m placing my bets with the Gaia Collective.

Porter Robinson

Porter Robinson’s first music video is fantastic — check it out:

Porter Robinson is a young producer from North Carolina. Among his musical influences he lists the Japanese version of Dance Dance Revolution. A large number of the Konami DDR tracks were written by Jondi & Spesh, so I’ll take a little credit for influencing the next generation of U.S. electronic music artists. 😉

Momu VHP (Very Helpful People) List

Surprisingly, the new Momu album “Rising” has already hit #20 in the Beatport Chill-Out charts, and is featured on Beatport’s Chill-Out home page.

If you purchase (or have already purchased) the new Momu album from Beatport, send me an email (jd[at]thisismomu.com) with a proof of purchase (Beatport order receipt), and I’ll add you to my MOMU VHP (Very Helpful People) List. I’ll keep this offer open for the entire month of August.

You can buy the new album on Beatport here.

For the rest of this year and all of next year, you’ll receive an email with me with a download link to every Momu release, high quality 320 mp3 or better, at least four weeks prior to the release date.

This isn’t a contest — everyone who does it gets on the list.

Thanks for listening!

Quality of Consciousness

It’s about the quality.

Three personal values, or metaprograms:

  1. Maintain a high quality of consciousness.
  2. Take radical responsibility for every aspect of your life.
  3. Design and implement a system of functional vitality.

The three are interdependent and intertwined, but this post focuses on the first.

Everything we do, we do to alter our state of mind. The motivation behind every external gain (both selfish and altruistic) is the feeling we expect to get from the result. We do things because we expect the result to be happiness, satisfaction, cessation of pain, euphoria, contentment, peace, or some other desirable sensation, emotion, or state of mind.

I call this the psychedelic realization. It’s what Timothy Leary was getting at when he said “tune in, turn on, and drop out.” You don’t have to follow society’s implicit and explicit “live this way” rules (ie. the “rat race”) in order to receive the feel-good rewards of high-status, wealth, etc. Instead, you can engage your neural circuitry more directly. In Leary’s own words (from Flashbacks):

‘Turn on’ meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. ‘Tune in’ meant interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. ‘Drop out’ suggested an elective, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. ‘Drop Out’ meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Unhappily my explanations of this sequence of personal development were often misinterpreted to mean ‘Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity’.

So how do we maintain a high quality of consciousness? How do we feel good (and fully awake, aware, and alive), directly and immediately?

Like Leary, I don’t think that taking consciousness as the primary consideration necessarily leads to navel-gazing, inactivity, self-obsession, substance abuse, or disengagement. If we really take our own state of mind seriously, then the more likely result is proactive behavior, including getting stuff done, taking charge of our lives, planning, being more engaged with the world, being conscious in our relationships, and generally being more real, alive, intelligent, aware, and powerful.

In regards to mind-altering substances, there’s a fine line between better-living-through-chemistry, and numbing out. If we’re experiencing negative fall-out (hangovers, sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, etc.) from any chemicals we’re using, then what we’re getting is crappy-living-through-chemistry. I like my coffee, but I don’t want to be the caffeine spider.

Web spinning – no drugs vs. caffeine.

For what it’s worth, here my own list of how to maintain a high quality of consciousness. Despite my total atheism, this list cribs heavily from religious texts and teachings (mostly Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism — the three traditions I’m somewhat familiar with). None of the concepts are complicated or secretive, but they’re all difficult to implement consistently. That’s why I have a list in the first place.

1. Open Heart

What does it mean to keep your heart open? It means that you’re vulnerable to pain and hurt, as well and pleasure and joy. Opening your heart means increasing your emotional bandwidth. You can’t have a symphony of feeling if only one note is available to you.

Living with an open heart is an emotional force multiplier. By practicing compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, and courage, we remove roadblocks to our own energy, vitality, motivation, love of life, and power.

Living with an open heart also means we’re more vulnerable emotionally. When we increase the bandwidth, we also let in anger, fear, disappointment, loss, grief, shame, envy, and all the “bad stuff.”

These “negative” emotions are debugging tools for our brain. If we don’t let them in, we have no idea what’s wrong inside. It’s better to fully experience and process your emotions than to be numb. Numbness (narrow bandwidth) results in a dull affect, no joy, and inertia when it comes to action. Emotional repression can also lead to muscle pain (John Sarno’s theory is that repressed emotions leads to chronic muscle tension which leads to reduced blood flow which leads to chronic pain — I’ve personally experienced major pain relief from simply allowing myself to feel my own feelings).

Emotional processing can mean talking it out, doing therapy, journal writing, and the like, but it can also mean taking action in the world. How can you fight injustice if you can’t experience anger? How can you be a better person if you can’t allow yourself to feel shame for your past wrongs?

2. Mind Like Water

Having a tranquil mind doesn’t mean being sleepy or spaced out. It means effectively controlling your attention, keeping your conscience clear, managing distractions, and processing information effectively.

David Lynch compares meditation to tooth-brushing. If I’m willing to dedicate a few minutes each day to keeping my teeth clean, why not do the same thing for my mind? Mental hygiene.

Another part of “mind like water” is having and consistently using an organizational system that fits your personality. There’s no one-size-fits-all, but David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a great starting point.

Reams have been written about managing distractions. Some are people are capable of truly simultaneous multi-tasking, but most of us are just deluding ourselves. In practice, for myself, managing distractions means 1) picking just a few priority items to get done each each day, 2) thinking ahead in terms of childcare and other family obligations, and 3) using LeechBlock to make sure I don’t fall down the social media sinkhole.

Is my conscience clear? Never perfectly. There’s always some crappy thing I’ve done, some way I could have treated someone better. But for the most part I try to be decent to other people, and to apologize and make it right when I do mess up. When my conscience is mostly clear is when I’m most effective and focused.

What else? Non-attachment. My peace of mind shouldn’t depend on external conditions or outcomes. I can’t control everything (nor would I want to — a single agent game would be boring). I can’t totally control other people’s perceptions, feelings, or actions (unless I use coercion, which is too costly in almost all cases). So in some cases I surrender to things I can’t control. This isn’t passivity or fatalism — it’s just realism and picking my battles. We aren’t gods and puppet-masters, we are limited agents with limited powers. To attempt total control is pathological.

3. Empowerment

Most people vastly underestimate their own capacity to determine their own lives and to change the world. Most of us are eager to give up our power to others. This is reasonable. It requires tremendous effort to actually visualize a better life for yourself, and a better world. There are too many variables. It hurts the brain. Inertia is much easier!

Still, empowerment is a crucial part of quality of consciousness. Even if our striving comes to nothing, the neurogenesis is worth it.

You could call it radical self reliance. You could call it living your best possible life. Not settling for what others are willing to give you, but instead creating exactly what you think is worth creating. Not coasting through with what you already know, but straining to learn (and use) new knowledge and new skills. It takes enormous effort, it involves multiple failures, and there’s no guarantee of any success whatsoever.

Is self-empowerment worth it? Is it too much bother?

It’s worth it because it keeps your brain fresh. It’s worth it because it gives you something to push against, and to know you’re there in the world.

Take Away

I don’t think just deciding to be happy works very well. We might just end up with forced cheeriness, which is creepy. And if we’re depressed, meditation or a to-do list system isn’t going to instantly snap us out of it (there are many effective approaches to treating depression — personally I like the “become more paleolithic” method).

But I do think we can decide to prioritize quality of consciousness, and take both internal and external actions to do so. It’s not necessarily the path to happiness (that has more to do with friendships, community, and marriage — in other words happiness is almost entirely about social interaction [TED talk]). But if we focus on quality of consciousness, our relationships (both personal and community) will improve, quickly and radically.

Unrelated News

In other news, my group Momu has a new album out. It’s only available on Beatport at the moment, which is a little pricey. If you like the music but can’t afford the Beatport price, the general release date is August 15. The iTunes version will be cheaper, and it will be available on Spotify as well (free).

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