SRF #7: Theoretical currency, radical love, and dying presidents

Sometimes I just kinda don’t sleep. I’m more of a Wake Up, Stay Awake person than a Never Fall Asleep person, which is what I’d prefer anyway. It’s not great to be awake at 3:30am because my hips hurt and I can feel my body working on digestion, but I really love passing the eff out because my eyes won’t stay open at 9pm. I don’t know, I just really love it.

I’m tired but Not Tired Enough so I’m sure I’ll do a morning nap in a couple hours.

Meanwhile I’m at my standing desk again, and if I keep writing these posts from my standing desk, they will invariably have intros about my hip/back pain.

Maintenance of this site is a big part of its appeal for me, because I really just love internet puttering. Doing updates is fun. Honing the UI is fun. I’ve had opportunities to launch quite a few personal sites over my life now and I just don’t get tired of it.

Yesterday I noticed that I kept getting fraudulent account signups. I locked comments to accounts only in order to limit my reliance on comment spam filters, and because I’d rather not talk with people than moderate a comment section. But fake emails, I hadn’t done anything to prevent. I nearly broke the whole thing yesterday installing plugins on a live site (lol) but we made it through. So far the new CAPTCHA is stopping bot signups. My obscurity is stopping human signups, but human interaction isn’t always desirable anyway.


A fascinating read about currency from Noema. The opening salvo about childhood commerce is hilariously relatable, but from the perspective of a world-builder, accounts of historical currency habits is my favorite.

Lydia, a kingdom in modern-day Turkey, created what many historians consider the first coins: lumps of blended gold and silver stamped with a lion. The idea spread to Greece, where people started exchanging their goods for coins in public spaces called agoras. Money soon created alternatives to traditional labor systems. Now, instead of working on a wealthy landowner’s farm for a year in return for food, lodging and clothes, a person could be paid for short-term work. This gave people the freedom to leave a bad job, but also the insecurity of finding employment when they needed it.

Aristotle, for one, wasn’t convinced. He worried that Greeks were losing something important in their pursuit of coins. Suddenly, a person’s wealth wasn’t determined by their labor and ideas but also by their cunning. […]

He wasn’t alone in his distrust of commerce. In mythology, Hermes is both the god of merchants and of thieves. Meanwhile, the Bible tells the story of Jesus overturning the tables of moneychangers and merchants in a Jerusalem temple. In the early days, as is true today, commerce implied exploitation — of natural resources and of other people. (The Incans, on the other hand, built an entire civilization with no money at all, just a complex system of tributes and structured specialization of work.)

I love history framed to affirm my preexisting worldviews. Living in a currency-free post-scarcity society is currently not an issue of resource availability, but politics and logistics. We could handle the latter. The former remains an issue.

That’s also why we can’t have money which expires, but this suggestion from a 19th century economy autodidact did seem to have a clever idea.

Silvio Gesell proposed a radical reformation of the monetary system as we know it. He wanted to make money that decays over time. […] “Only money that goes out of date like a newspaper, rots like potatoes, rusts like iron, evaporates like ether,” Gesell wrote in his seminal work, “The Natural Economic Order,” published in 1915, “is capable of standing the test as an instrument for the exchange of potatoes, newspapers, iron and ether.” […]

In 1898, the Argentine government embarked on a deflationary policy to try to treat its economic ills. As a result, unemployment rose and uncertainty made people hoard their money. The economy ground to a halt. There was plenty of money to go around, Gesell realized. The problem was, it wasn’t going around. He argued that the properties of money — its durability and hoardability — impede its circulation: “When confidence exists, there is money in the market; when confidence is wanting, money withdraws.”

Money hoarding is absolutely an issue. In a fantasy society I developed, I removed any ability to pass wealth between generations of family, which is almost like expiring money on a longer scale. It wouldn’t be as economically stimulating on a short scale. It’s mostly meant to limit the growth of families with more power than others.

I like the expiry thought. You’d have to pair expiration of currency with vigorous regulations to ensure it doesn’t just mean poor people lose their money after a while, as rich people navigate laws required to easily refresh it (like spending money within the family to just circulate it). Money laundering would be so tempting, and it favors those with preexisting connections.

I’m not familiar with the magazine this article comes from, and I like to search for slant when I’m reading something new. Especially if I like it so much. This comes from the Berggruen Institute. Although I’m not going to be going through that wall of text right now, there are a lot of nonsense buzzwords on their Wiki article, and the apparent wealth of the organization makes me super skeptical of their influence. That doesn’t mean the article and/or magazine itself are entirely incredible; I’m just suspicious of any organization involving so much money. I’d take these conjectures more seriously from people who didn’t succeed at our current system.


Paywalled article here on Washington Post (but if you come across an eight foot wall, you should just search for a 12ft ladder) about the impact of losing affirmative action on two young students’ Ivy hopes: a boy who is white, and a boy who is Black.


NPR: One woman’s controversial fight to make America accept drug users for who they are

Harm reduction is a big deal and this is a wonderful cause to fight. Addicts are not Just Addicts; they are humans, our neighbors, the person writing this blog post, family members, friends. Although I have never gotten into hard drugs, my fight against alcohol and involvement in mental healthcare has given me nothing but love for addicts.

It is controversial, and I get why. The propaganda surrounding drugs in America is very strong. More than that, America has an incredibly punitive culture. Lots of the country thinks you may as well die if you can’t bootstrap.

Plus, drugs are scary. Losing people to drugs is a horrible tragedy. People aren’t prepared to handle it, much less approach it with open-hearted love, but that’s what we need: radical love for our neighbors. All of them.


Also NPR: As Democrats stay divided on Israel, Jewish voters face politically uncertain future

What about registered Democrats who believe that all the civilians involved in a conflict on both sides are being absolutely wrecked by a couple awful rich dudes in power? And absolutely nobody can possibly win in this war except for arms dealers and power brokers, which does not mean a win for people anywhere? So we have to start by stopping the war, period, and sorting out our fn priorities as a species? Please put me down as pro-human, anti-war, in every single conflict, no matter how glib it sounds.

Nobody dying in this has chosen the no-win scenario these groups have been locked in for generations. There are a couple people who could choose to stop the killing right now. Normal Folks versus Cruel Tiny Ruling Class are the sides I care about. The Democratic Party is such a massive institution that they couldn’t possibly care what I care about.

(Yesterday I wrote “speaking loudly against such asymmetric warfare seems obvious from where I stand” like symmetric warfare would be any better. Today I’m feeling spicier.)

A ceasefire does not look likely right now.


I guess I’m only rehashing NPR this morning: As Biden celebrates his birthday, candles on the cake are adding to the problem

I predict that they will replace Kamala Harris as his VP for the second term, but still lean on Joe Biden, and very quietly run on the idea that the VP could take over as president if Biden doesn’t see his 86th birthday. There hasn’t been public talk about the Dem VP, afaik, so I can’t begin to guess who they’d vet; I’m never good at guessing these things. Dreamy philosopher, yes. Smart analyst, no.

I kinda don’t care how old Biden is at this point because it feels like everyone in Washington is as old as he is and it doesn’t matter, they really don’t care about what people want, the system is not designed to give us what we need. I’m just slowly going crazy, don’t mind me.

I’ve been watching Old Animals die the last few years and I notice that natural death has a prodromal period of months or years. Dying of age is a PROCESS. Biden doesn’t look like he’s in prodromal death (falling over is a risk for everyone at this age) so if the doctors give his guts the all-clear, I’d reckon he’s fine. My great-grandma was great until a fall when she was ninety-two years old; my kids’ great-grandparents are still kicking through their nineties and have only started showing the age since maybe 2020.

Is anyone morbidly curious to see what it would look like to have a president die of age in office? What’s the funeral like for that?

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