Luke Allen


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Which, indeed, is why I categorized "certification" as Status or marketing: the product gains standing in the eyes of whoever believes the certification has merit, but gains negative status with whoever distrusts the certifier.

I have a very simple rule of thumb for evaluating the value of products and services: Agency, Resource, Status, and Experience. It reminds me that in everything I buy commercially, I'm paying for ARSE:

  • convenience (better Experience, and I keep more of my time Resource, but I trade away more of my money Resource)
  • customizability (more Agency with Burger King's "Have It Your Way!")
  • reputation in the marketplace by brand name and commercials, or with public or private quality checkers such as "Certified USDA Prime Beef!" "Underwriters Labs" "Consumer Reports Top Pick" (high Status), or buying store brands (lower Status and implied lower quality Resources, but I keep more of my money Resource)
  • higher quality or more versatile products (more useful Resource)

Aside from the pithy mnemonic, it's also helped me categorize when thinking of ways to improve the offerings of businesses or hobby groups I'm involved with, such as my local Toastmasters club. I haven't yet found a fifth category of value that I'd consider as primary as these, but I haven't looked much.

I was thinking about the various services and ministries provided by my small-city church, and to reconstruct its social impact, you'd have to have at least these things:

  • a community center where children are, weekly, taught morality and good behavior from nursery through high school, and then graduated into adult morality study classes
  • a social club where the members donate ten percent of their (sometimes not inconsiderable) income for the good of the community
  • a TV studio with live audience seating and up-to-date A/V equipment where professional speakers and singers can perform live for an audience, and have their content recorded and published to the web

Increasing its positive impact on the city would be easier without having to avoid certain rulings which would (especially in light of the narrowness of the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling) require us to host events for people antithetical to our core purpose as a church: pointing people to Jesus.  And because Cthulu swims left and Moloch consumes all, we're caught between the Charybdis of relaxing our standards and the Scylla of dying off before enough new members show up to repopulate the church.

I'm trying a live experiment: I'm going to see if I can match your erisology one-to-one as antagonists to the Elements of Harmony from My Little Pony:

  1. Prickly: Kindness
  2. Opaque: Honesty
  3. Nitpicky: Generosity
  4. Disengaged: Loyalty
  5. Shallow: Laughter

Interesting! They match up surprisingly well, and you've somehow also matched the order of 3 out of 5 of the corresponding "seeds of discord" from 1 Peter 2:1, CSB: "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander." If my pronouncement of success seems self-serving and opaque, I'll elaborate soon:

  1. Malice: Kindness
  2. Deceit: Honesty
  3. Hypocrisy: Loyalty
  4. Envy: Generosity
  5. Slander: Laughter

And now the reveal. I'm a generalist; I collect disparate lists of qualities (in the sense of "quality vs quantity"), and try to integrate all my knowledge into a comprehensive worldview. My world changed the day I first saw My Little Pony; it changed in a way I never expected, in a way many people claim to have been affected by HPMOR. I believed I'd seen a deep truth, and I've been subtly sharing it wherever I can.

The Elements of Harmony are the character qualities that, when present, result in a spark of something that brings people together. My hypothesis is that they point to a deep-seated human bond-testing instinct. The first time I noticed a match-up was when I heard a sermon on The Five Love Languages, which are presented in an entirely different order:

  1. Words of affirmation: Honesty
  2. Quality time: Laughter
  3. Receiving gifts: Generosity
  4. Acts of service: Loyalty
  5. Physical touch: Kindness

Well! In just doing the basic research to write this reply, it turns out I'm re-inventing the wheel! Someone else has already written a psychometric analysis of the Five Love Languages and found they do indeed match up with another relational maintenance typology.

Thank you for your post; you've helped open my eyes up to existing research I can use in my philosophical pursuits, and sparked thoughts of what "effective altruism" use I can put them to.

I posit four basic categories of value: resources, experiences, esteem, and agency. You've listed a group of esteem games.

In the first example, let's assume your spouse likes the other restaurant significantly better than the one you both like. You deny yourself a specific potential positive experience by using your agency to grant her a more positive experience, and in doing so, you obtain the esteem of the sacrificial as well as the esteem of the generous in your spouse's eyes.

If it's a healthy relationship, that esteem is a side benefit which gets folded into the gestalt benefit of relational harmony enhanced through generosity. But if the esteem is the main goal, the sacrificer is exhibiting unhealthy codependent behavior. Alternatively, if your spouse likes both restaurants equally well, the esteem is the only benefit; gaming that system is more obvious and may negate the granting of any esteem.

I won't go through the other examples, but in each case, your actions are a gamble, a statement about yourself that pays off with esteem from someone whose esteem you value.

I define SL4 in terms of a description I heard once of a summary of Baudrillard's work: a simulacrum is when a simulation breaks off and becomes its own thing, but still connected to the original. And whether or not that's how Baudrillard thought of SL4, it's a useful concept on its own. (My simulacrum of "simulacrum" as it were.)

For example, a smartphone is a miniature computer and video game console that also has telephone capabilities; it's a simulacrum of Bell's talk-over-telegraph-wires device.

The iPod Video is an almost identical piece of hardware and software minus the telephony, and even that can be simulated with the right VOIP app. I can imagine someone saying, "Well, it's still essentially a smartphone." But we don't say the same of a laptop computer using a VOIP app, or even a jailbroken Nintendo Switch or DSi. We've reached the edge of the simulacrum.

In the late 00's, I was made aware of the Hero's Journey memeplex, the sequence of all Western stories, based on Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces. At some point after that, I recognized that it's the same set of instincts as the Stages of Grief -- or rather, the stages of grief, when experienced as a Hero's Journey, lead to the successful end of a particular grieving.

The first stage of grief is denial, and the first step of the hero's journey is life in the "doomed village": things look normal and sound normal, but something's profoundly wrong in the world, and it's about to crash in on the hero.

What really spun my head around was realizing my emotional traumas were imposed on me by someone whose subconscious was abusing my Hero's Journey instinct to make me walk through his pain to slay his demons for him. After that, I was able to let go of his narrative thread and try to find where I'd dropped mine five years before.

The map is to the territory as the corporate media complex is to the Truth.

  • The media used to be history as it was being written, a level 1 simulacrum, a simple descriptor.
  • Then it was level 2, assumed to still be level 1 but from a reasonable perspective with obvious implications.
  • Then it was level 3, promoted as level 1 but known by insiders to be level 2 or 3.
  • Now it is level 4, known by most to be a tool, but still mistaken for level 1 or 2 by those not paying attention.

Why should I believe a level 4 simulacrum of the election results when all the superweapons are both at stake and in play?

Let's get our ontology correct. She used philosophical tools to approach philosophical problems, and wrote essays on the results in philosophical terminology. That makes her a philosopher. If her results were incorrect, at worst she's an incorrect philosopher like so many others throughout history who moved philosophy into "less wrong" territory.

The same is true of Buddhism, and Christianity too: in addition to being religions, they're philosophies, making ontological and ethical statements and explaining how those were reached. And atheism, while a philosophical viewpoint, also has had religious social structures built around it, such as taboos against self-coding as religious.

Exploring the philosophical "realm" and "mining" new seams of gold ore (or fools' gold) is what makes one a philosopher, whether one comes in with a pickaxe and mule like the '49'ers or a bulldozer and dynamite like the industrial strip-miners.

Agreed on tech change. We now expect a new generation of video game consoles every five years, a new version of Microsoft Office every three (but did NOT expect the name change to "Microsoft 365," an increasingly ominous claim of ubiquity), and new phones every other year.

The only real technological surprise I've had in a good long while was yesterday when I suddenly realized Notepad.exe now has a "New Window" menu option, which simply spawns another instance of Notepad. To me, this is cause for celebration, and I find myself wondering why there wasn't more fanfare for this superb productivity hack.

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