What in the heck is going on?? #1

James Titchener / @mistertitchener

Trying something new this week. I don't think I've been giving my writing the attention it deserves. I've committed myself to publishing something every week (at least for this year), so I often feel a bit rushed to just get something out the door. I too often find myself cutting half of what I've outlined to touch on in, simply for not wanting to spend more than a few hours a week on this.

I think the quality of my writing would increase if I were to spend a couple weeks going deeper and writing something more akin to an essay than some loosely strung together thoughts and experiences. It'd give me more time to digest the subject matter and collect my thoughts, and it'd maybe give me an opportunity to seek feedback on a piece before I send it out.

That said, I still want to stick to my once-a-week cadence. And I don't want to make essay writing a part-time job. My back-of-the-napkin-math says I've made $0.01 per word so far. $0.00 per word if you don't count what was basically the first thing I published. I've got one business to try to keep afloat, and I'm working on a side project in the decision making space that might turn into another. The point being, I'm not writing 5,000 word essays every week.

So, rather than writing something every week that's half-baked, and rather than dedicating more time than I want to by writing something that's full-baked, I'm going to try writing something every week that's no-baked. And maybe now and again pushing out a longer essay that I spend more time on.

Hey... what's going on?

The idea is to sum up what the heck is going on over the last week. Or at least pose the question. I'll try to hit both what's happening in the world and what's happening in my world. I'll admit straight away that I'm pretty conscious about what I'm consuming. I don't know about you, but the news and social media make me genuinely unhappy. So I really don't spend a lot of time in these spaces. When I do, I'm trying to get in, grab the signal, and get the fuck out before the noise sucks me into it's black hole.

And frankly, I just think that much of what's trending today will be forgotten tomorrow. So I'm going to try best to touch on the bits that at are rooted in an issue that's fundamental to human nature. Something that won't be completely irrelevant once the next news cycle arrives.

I also think the news and social media are playing the game of headlines. Eric Weinstein touched on this in his podcast this week. It's all just optics—substance is besides the point, because not many people put in the work to read the articles or pause to think through what's actually being claimed. And I get it. Time is money, baby. But if I'm going to dedicate some time to learning what the heck's going on, I'd rather listen to a 2 hour conversation with really smart people who's intentions I trust in the form of a podcast, than scroll through headlines in my newsfeed from sources I increasingly trust less and less. Especially when the social media algorithms deciding what gets put in front of my eyeballs have been trained to play for polarization and enragement over nuance and honesty.

So, here's my attempt to sort out some of the signal from the noise from the past week along with whatever else is on my mind or happening around me. Let me know if this is something you think I should stick with.

Bye bye Tik Tok

It looks like Trump plans to ban Tik Tok from the US. There's some millions of users in the US, and over 1500 Tik Tok employees working here. But I think it's a move that we simply have to take. We're in a cold war with China. Or at least they've been in a cold war with us, and it finally looks like we're going to make a stand. Facebook and Google are banned from their market of 1.4 billion people, so why should we give the Chinese Communist Party free access to our market? Especially when they've made it clear that they will and have been spying on Americans through companies like Zoom that share headquarters in the US and China.

We've got to put cultural relativism aside and recognize that the CCP have the intention to spread ideas that are not conducive to our own, and we need to do more about it. The illegal and obviously unethical imprisonment of somewhere between 1-3 million Muslims in China is news that has basically flown under the radar. There's recent evidence that the women in these camps are being forcibly sterilized. If something like this were happening in the US, the societal outrage would be fucking massive. And yet, this issue seems to have been lost in the noise.

China will shortly become the biggest economy in the world. And even now I wonder if they're not already the most powerful. Technology is increasingly becoming the arena in which wars are played, and the US leadership are still in 1999. China is playing by different rules. President Xi Jinping has unilateral power and intentions to acquire more of it. What he says goes, and there are some advantages to being able to act swiftly without checks and balances. Xi Jinping can literally force an entire country to stay inside with the flip of a switch. It's taken Trump four months to decide that wearing masks are a good idea, and even his own supporters still aren't so sure.

So I hope Trump isn't talking out of his ass this time and follows through on the Tik Tok ban. They will steal American data and manipulate their algorithms to be pro-CCP if they haven't already. We are at war with China, and my hope is that we've finally come around to realizing it.

What else??

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