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Home » Products » Podcast » Season 9 » S09 E06 – Charcuterie of Asshattery

S09 E06 – Charcuterie of Asshattery

This episode features a conversation between Doug Belshaw and Laura Hilliger, with the key points of discussion being Laura’s anger over a minor incident (hence the episode title), poetry, yoga, electric scooters, book recommendations, and ‘debogging yourself’.




Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:22] Hello and welcome to the Tao of WAO, a podcast about the intersection of technology, society, and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. I’m Doug Belshaw.

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:33] And I’m Laura Hilliger. This podcast season is currently partially unfunded. You can support this podcast and other we are open projects and products at

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:46] Now. Laura, you um, working with you and I think this is fair to say is sometimes a bit of an emotional roller coaster. And I say that knowing that the same is true for you, of me. Um, so this week there have been different emotions in play. For example, I remember on Tuesday you were full of energy and stuff, but over the last 24 hours I have detected some some anger. Yes. That’d be that’d be fair to say. Well, I’ve got a strategy for you. And I put this on thought shrapnel. Um, and this hasn’t just come from this isn’t just like some random dude on the internet saying some stuff. This comes from the esteemed publication nature. Oh, it’s got it’s got charts and graphs and stuff. So this new paper suggests that writing down your feelings of anger and then, like, shredding that bit of paper or disposing of it can actually rid you of the angry feelings.

Laura Hilliger: [00:01:43] So what you’re saying is I should go away and write down my angry and then catch it on fire because I feel like burning. It would be more fun than tearing it up.

Doug Belshaw: [00:01:55] Well, yeah, basically something like that.

Laura Hilliger: [00:01:57] I could tear it up and set it on fire.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:00] You could, you could. And basically by shredding it and then saying on fire, it’s effectively kindling. So you could start a bonfire.

Laura Hilliger: [00:02:08] That’s a good idea. So I got to go. I’m going to go, uh, write some stuff down and burn some stuff up. It’s weird, I don’t. I’m a. I find myself a little bit angry at myself for being angry because it’s meta anger. I’ve been angry, uh, for a good, I’d say, about 20 hours of anger. And what I don’t really understand is why I’m so angry. Because I had a I had a trigger. Something made me angry, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. But I’ve just been angry ever since. But it was like, you know, I mean, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It was like one. It was two words that somebody wrote to me that really pissed me off. And now I’ve been carrying around anger for like 20 hours. And it’s like, why? Because I don’t care about that person. I don’t care what that person thinks. That person is an incompetent. So why am I still like holding the anger?

Doug Belshaw: [00:03:10] I was talking to my parents last night about like, nature versus nurture went over. Um, there was some stuff that we’ve moved house since we last recorded the since we recorded the most recent episode before this one. And I was I went over to pick up some stuff, and for some reason, our conversation went into nature versus nurture. Um, and I was talking about the idea of emotional temperature and whether different people have different baseline emotional temperatures. So, for example, my son Ben, who is editing the the transcript for this recording. So hi, Ben, as you’re editing the transcript of this recording, um, he his I would say his emotional temperature is lower than mine. He starts off from not such a heated situation, unlike me. Or maybe you who it doesn’t take a lot to get going. Really. Like goes from zero to angry quite quickly. And I wonder what whether that is nature or nurture or a little bit of both. And like you said, the meta anger thing is interesting because you reflect on the fact that you’re angry and angry at yourself for being angry. Or let’s flip it the other way, like you’re depressed about the fact that you’re depressed, like there’s lots of different. And how do you get out of that? Because you can read as much stoic philosophy as you want. You can, you know, immerse yourself in the teachings of Epictetus and say that there’s things you can control and things you can’t control. But that’s sometimes very difficult to control. The feelings that seem to kind of just jump out of you, you know?

Laura Hilliger: [00:04:45] Yeah, I mean, I’ve been doing yoga for like 20 years, not regularly. I’m not, you know, all, um, hopped up on the esoteric side of yoga or the religious side of yoga or any side of yoga. I just do it to kind of help with. Back issues and being old or whatever. Um, but I meditate and also, again, I’m, you know, not regular. Um, but, you know, I’ve learned over 20 years how to actually, like, observe what you’re feeling and not react to it. Um, and that’s how I’ve been feeling since yesterday with this anger. Like I’m observing the anger. I’m feeling the meta anger and feeling myself being angry at myself for being angry, which is ridiculous. Um, but I’m I find myself looking at it from, like, a third. Like a third perspective, like higher mind perspective. But I still feel the emotions. So it’s like, I don’t know, I’m definitely inside.

Doug Belshaw: [00:05:46] Well, just the difficulty in separating out the the bodily response to stuff. One of the other things I was talking about with my parents, because we have very like, there’s definitely like a lineage in the family tree between like levels of anxiety, like my mother’s side has lots of that which goes into me and my sister, whereas my dad’s side has none of that. Like, so it’s it’s really quite fascinating. Um, one of the things I want to make sure I mentioned, though, was a message that you put on slack where you summed up the incompetence, as you mentioned, of the person who was emailing you as a charcuterie of asshattery, which was just the most delightful phrase. So I feel like we should call this podcast episode a charcuterie of Asshattery.

Laura Hilliger: [00:06:33] I think we should. I had another good one. Um, that our friend Stephen Downes commented on in my newsletter last week. I used the phrase um, high thread count concepts, and apparently I was talking about I was talking about saviorism and, uh, I don’t know, you know, the kinds of sort of high bearing kinds of things. And I said something about how while I’m busy, uh, you know, with these high thread count concepts, other people are just kind of getting on with it. And I was kind of. You know, I mean, offhandedly commenting on my overthinking. Uh, and now this week, with the charcuterie of Asshattery, I feel like I’m, you know, maybe that’s what I should do is I should just write down, like, these, these little ways to describe things that seem to, um, people get it, like asshattery on a charcuterie. You know exactly what that means. It’s like a lot of different flavours.

Doug Belshaw: [00:07:34] Yeah. If you can’t be careful. Otherwise you’re going to end up as a poet.

Laura Hilliger: [00:07:37] Oh.

Doug Belshaw: [00:07:39] So.

Laura Hilliger: [00:07:41] Yes. Sure. Why not? I, uh, for months I’ve been every couple of days reading one poem, um, from a woman whose name I can’t pronounce. But she. She’s a Polish author, and she started writing poetry when she was in her 60s. And that’s actually what she’s what she’s known for. And now I have to look up her name and then butcher it. Hold on.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:06] Well, once you’ve pushed it, it can be part of the charcuterie, so that’s okay.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:09] Oh, it is Wislawa Szymborska.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:15] I can only apologise to our Polish listeners.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:18] Um, sorry about that, guys. Yes.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:21] Well, it does remind me, like, I don’t know, many Polish authors. Um, there’s the one who did the thing about the tractors.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:29] The tractors? Yes.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:31] Polish author and tractors. What?

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:34] What about the tractors?

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:36] It is the name of the book. Oh.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:38] Come on. Oh, that’s the name of the book about the tractors?

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:41] Yes, like.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:44] Field tractors. I do like, you know, driving a tractor is a way to get rid of anger. I think, as is driving an electric scooter. I went to the dentist today. I took my electric scooter to the dentist. And I swear that thing is a happy happiness maker. It’s so quiet and it’s a little cold still for scooting around. But scooters are. They’re also good for anger, so I should probably just scoot around more.

Doug Belshaw: [00:09:13] Well, while we’re talking about Polish authors, I might have mentioned this before. I don’t know if you’ve read it yet. I’ve recommended to you several times, but Drive your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk I have.

Laura Hilliger: [00:09:27] Not read it. It’s on. It’s on very high up on the list of all the things I haven’t been reading a lot lately. I’ve been reading some short form stuff I read. Um, I just finished a book of essays from David Sedaris, um, who I read a lot of his work years ago. It’s just funny, like every day commentary on the things that we put up with as, uh, thinking and feeling humans.

Doug Belshaw: [00:09:53] I did see that actually on Literal Dog Club. Um, I went to update a book that I had finished, and I saw that you’d finished that book and the review that you gave. And the interesting thing is it comes up with other people’s reviews, and those reviews were all over the place for that book. Like there were five stars, there were one stars. There were all kinds of stuff. Yeah, yeah. Um, in the same vein as all of this is something which you came across on The Paris Review, which was a disgruntled federal employees 1980s desk calendar.

Laura Hilliger: [00:10:23] Yeah, I spent a little bit of time with this, um, a few days ago. So basically what happened is somebody found a desk calendar, one of those calendars with the really big squares that every month it’s like, I don’t know, 18 by 20 or something. It’s like, fits the whole desk. And it has a big squares, so you can write a bunch of stuff in them. I remember them from the 80s. In any case, a guy working at the Department of Defence during the Cold War poured his emotions into this desk calendar, and it’s now been sold at a rare book auction. Um, and I’ll put a link in the show notes. Um, but if you kind of get into it, you can. It’s just like this. The range of human emotion, the range of like, human engagement and interaction that’s displayed on this calendar is it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s weird. Um, and it’s just, you know, basically an entire year’s worth from, I don’t know, the 1982 or 81 all the way up until 83 or 84 every day, filled with little drawings about what he was experiencing at work, but also personally. So there’s things on there, like, I went to a wedding and this is my anniversary. Um, and there’s just there’s a lot going on, and I kind of rabbit hold on it. To be honest.

Doug Belshaw: [00:11:48] I miss all of this from this kind of stuff, this kind of cultural stuff, because not to this extent, but my mother tried to have something that happened in the life of our family for every single day of the year. And so it would take her a long time to transfer all of these from from desk calendar to desk calendar each year. And eventually she, um, typed them out so that she could type them out and print them and then add to them and stuff. But it would be like anything, it’ll be like someone’s wedding would also be like, Doug voluntarily took an apple to school for the first time, aw, um.

Laura Hilliger: [00:12:21] I have um, so years ago, Anna gave me a calendar. That’s all index cards. And every index card has the date on like a date. So one index card, one date. And they’re slightly like the bigger format. Um, and as you go through the year, I kind of use it as my happiness calendar. So when I have a really good day, when something really nice happens, like gratitude journal style, I write the year and like one sentence about what’s happened and I use the calendar every year. So then next year, um, you know, like on today, I can grab the card from, you know, April 25th, and if I flip it over on the back, if I had a really good day sometime in the past five years or so, it’ll have the year and it’ll have what happened. And I’m able to spark these memories of pretty mundane things like, you know, we made a really awesome, uh, dinner and talked all night or went on a, went on a bike ride and found a happy bunny or whatever it is. And and it’s really interesting because I only remember some of I mean, some of them are bigger memories, but some of them are so small and so like everyday daily life that having it written down is so like it’s a very joyful. It’s unfortunate that there are not a lot of nice, happy memories on the backs of these cards for the months from like November to February. It’s like, yeah, so it’s gone holiday.

Doug Belshaw: [00:13:52] I so I used to write a diary, so my, my aim was to write to record my entire adult life. So I did it on and off and I was a bit younger, but from when I was 18, I used to write a lot, like all the way through university, and then I stopped. And then the only way I got started again a few years ago was I, um, I think someone gave me a hashtag diary, which for every day you just have a tweet size, the original tweet size kind of amount. But I cram in a bit more to say something. And you’re supposed to sum up your day with a hashtag kind of thing. Um, and I find that interesting because I feel like I just record quite boring stuff. Like I did some work, went to the gym, did whatever. But then when you read it back, you’re like, oh, that’s how my life was then. Like, that’s not how I live my life now. Like it’s very different either because. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:14:48] Yeah, no, I was just gonna say between the holidays last year between, um, Christmas and New Year’s, I started doing a doodle a day, and I kept it up for the first couple of months of the year. I’m not doing it every day anymore, but for probably three months or so, every single day, I was doodling one thing a day and it became a visual diary. So if I flip back to middle of February and then I’ll see that I, you know, in the middle of February, I drew a thing that has something to do with whatever I was doing that day. And so. And sparking memories through this visual format as well. Um, but I’m not very good at I’m not very good at taking on daily tasks and then managing to do them daily. Although I am on almost two exactly one year streak on Duolingo. So just to say.

Doug Belshaw: [00:15:42] Very good.

Laura Hilliger: [00:15:43] But that’s like, you know, I had a I have a couple of streak streak freezes, but um.

Doug Belshaw: [00:15:48] I’ve had a lot of streak freezes. To be fair. This reminds me, uh, which I’ve just put on a pad and which I’ll put in the show notes, something that you might have seen on Recently. So this guy, Chris Silverman, he draws a small artwork using only the notes app on his iPhone. And it’s like creative constraints. It’s the size of a three by five card, he says. Really? The drawing tools were designed for annotating documents, not for making artwork. And his website. You can see his progression in terms of how he’s used the constraint of just the very simple tools, which are again, supposed to be used for annotation to create these weird and wonderful images. And again, he’s just been doing this every day for a very long time.

Laura Hilliger: [00:16:35] Cool. How does he do that on the notes app? That’s crazy.

Doug Belshaw: [00:16:38] So on his website, it tells you how he does it. He has to kind of like prepare it a little way, and he has to be really careful because if it gets over, it doesn’t tell you how big the note is in terms of size, but if it gets over a certain file size, it just doesn’t work anymore. So he has to keep taking snapshots. And also he’s learned that doing lots of little lines is all well and good, but takes a lot of space. Mhm. Mhm. So one of the things I think we want to talk about was debugging yourself.

Laura Hilliger: [00:17:09] Yeah. How did you, um, stumble across this post? Are you subscribing to this newsletter or.

Doug Belshaw: [00:17:17] So this is a guy called Adam Mastroianni who writes a Substack. I guess it is called Experimental History, which I’ve come across before. I’m a subscriber now, but I wasn’t at the time, and I forget how I came across it. It could have been Hacker News, it could have been Mastodon, could have been somewhere else. But he starts this off. I came across it recently. He published this on the 2nd of January 2024. And he starts this off by saying, like, people ask me for advice, which is great, but I don’t really know much about what works for me. And so he talks about debugging yourself, as in when you’re stuck. Why is it that you’re stuck? And how can you stop being stuck? And it’s a taxonomy of. It’s a taxonomy of how different people get stuck. So for example, he gave he gives the examples of um gutter balling. So like. People will sometimes approach me with products projects I don’t really want to do, but people smile and shake my hand and say nice things and I end up doing it. And he calls his gutter balling. And so he’s like doing a good job, but it’s in the wrong direction from the stuff he wants to do. He talks about waiting for the jackpot. So like instead of doing this small thing which might be successful, he holds out for a bigger thing.

Doug Belshaw: [00:18:38] Or the third one, um, is declining the dragon, so he knows exactly what he needs to do in order to leave the bog of being stuck, but he’s too afraid to do it. Yeah, he’s afraid to tell the truth or make someone mad or take a risk. Then another one is the mediocrity trap. So lots of people hate their jobs or moderately unhappy or, you know, don’t want to be in a relationship but are too like it’s not bad enough for them to leave. Then the fifth one in this category, and I’ll talk about the category in a moment, is stroking the problem. And it’s like keeping on talking about the problem. Oh boy, what a problem. A real whopper, I’d say massive even get a load of this problem. Where do you wowsers and people just talk about the problem rather than doing anything about it? So he puts all five of those. Into a category called insufficient activation energy. And then he’s got a few more categories, like Bad Escape Plan, which has like different subcategories in there, and a bog of one one’s own. Um, and I just thought it was fascinating because some of these I’ve never experienced before in my life, but other ones are really common to me.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:51] Which ones are really common to you?

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:54] The try harder fallacy.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:57] Yeah. Mhm.

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:59] So like oh this hasn’t worked for the last 25 times in a row. Maybe I just need to try harder. Mhm. To any of these speak to you.

Laura Hilliger: [00:20:16] Um, yeah, I mean, I when I read it, uh, last week or the week before or whenever it was that you posted this, um, I definitely read it closely and was like, oh, yeah, I do that all the time or. Oh, what? Huh. Um, but I there’s a.

Doug Belshaw: [00:20:32] Great there’s a great one in here called Hedgehoging about halfway down. Um, I’m just going to read it out because he describes it so well. He says sometimes I get this feeling like nothing will ever work out for me. I will always be unhappy. The rest of my life will be sort of a wandering twilight, punctuated with periods of misery. And my wife will go, you’re hungry, and I’ll go, no, no, this is true. And happiness. It comes to me unadulterated from hell itself. It lives inside my bones. I’m persecuted by God. You could not possibly know what it’s like to be me. And then I’ll eat a burrito and be like, never mind, I’m fine. This is Hedgehog refusing to be influenced by others even when you should.

Laura Hilliger: [00:21:08] That is definitely I think you shared before, uh, or somebody, I don’t know, somewhere on the internet, somebody was probably probably you, um, shared something where where it said if you’re if you’re down, if you’re feeling unhappy in any way, then the first thing you should do is ask yourself whether you’re hungry. The second is ask yourself whether you’re tired. And I forget what the.

Doug Belshaw: [00:21:34] Third one this was. This was with, um, again, my son Ben, who like boys when they’re little, are really hard to deal with because they’ve got so much energy. Right. Um, and then they the flip side of that is they’re really difficult to deal with when they’ve just got no energy and they’re just being grumpy and tired and crying and stuff, especially Ben. Um, so and he’s a wonderful kid, but like when he, when he was up, he was fantastic. When he was down, he was terrible. So the three things were was he tired? Was he hungry? Did he need the toilet? And it was those three things. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:22:13] Yeah. So yeah, I think that also on this, uh, debugging post, I think the I noticed this in other people a lot the personal problems growth. Ray. Um, where and I do it too, you know, where I’ll, I’ll have some sort of a problem and for me, it’ll feel just massive. And then somebody will just be like, why do you care? That doesn’t matter at all. Mostly it’s you. And then I get pissed off and then I’m like, I care because I care. Gah! Um, but the, you know, making small problems really big. And I try to like with self-talk, I try to remember this like making your own problems bigger, but also by by essentially telling myself when you know, when my self-criticism is getting a little heavy, I will tell myself, is that what you would say to your best friend? Is that how you would react to this situation? Is this the advice that you would give because you’re actually being like a huge arsehole to yourself, and you would never say that to anybody else. So maybe you should rein it in my little and just.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:20] Just assuming that and assuming that anybody else cares is the thing. So like. A number of times I’ve thought it was super important. So I had this with my MSC. Right. I have literally never ever asked for an extension until I did this module on any academic work that I’ve ever done, and I was like, I was like really torn as to whether asked for an extension and asked. And I end up asking for one really reluctantly. And they’re like, yeah, that’s fine. I thought, hang on a minute. Nobody cares whether I do it this week or next week, and it’s just making life hard for myself. I don’t do it next week.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:58] I had that. I had that kind of experience in a hotel once where I was very unhappy with the room, like the room that I paid for, and the amount of money that I paid was just like did not sink up in my brain. And it was like, you know, behind the utility closet, kind of horrible room for way too much money at night. And I was so unhappy that I got took all of the anxiety, packed it way down and went downstairs and was like, I’m sorry, but could I have another room? And the guy was like, oh, of course, yes. Oh the utility. Yeah, everybody always asks for a different room. And I was like, why did I? It took me so much time to like, gather up the energy to like and the customer as well.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:42] Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I’m wondering whether this this list. So there’s, there’s three main categories. Like I said before insufficient activation energy. Like there’s just not enough reason to do anything but escape plan where it’s like you’re trying to get out the situation, but you’re planning to do so is terrible. And the third one is like imaginary bogs where like, you know, the floor isn’t isn’t really lava. You’ve just made that up or, you know, super surveillance, as in, people aren’t really watching your every move. Like we’ve just said, people don’t care. And also like you should take other people’s advice. Those three things, I wonder whether we could actually. Help people at work who are stuck in those situations to get out of them.

Laura Hilliger: [00:25:30] Yeah, I was I was just highlighting on the page, uh, to remind myself I wanted to talk to the two more two down, the obsessing over tiny predictors. I think that this is something that we do more than more than a little, uh, and I think that this is something that’s pretty common at work where people, you know, we don’t have all of the information on a particular situation, but we immediately jumped to the conclusion about what those tiny predictors mean. Um, and, you know, like, I, I, I know that in, like in correspondence with clients, for example, a client will say something that’s very offhand and then we will read into it and then, you know, go and actually talk to the person. And they’re like completely different perspective. Like that’s happened several times. And so I think maybe just being aware of these kinds of things and maybe it would be a like fun to do. It’s a CC license probably. Maybe. I don’t know, uh, it might be fun to like make a, an overview graphic of these various ways to get stuck, uh, to help people diagnose what they you know, what what exactly they’re kind of going through.

Doug Belshaw: [00:26:47] People get stuck for all different kinds of reasons, and I think that there’s ways to get out of that. Some of it is just helping people realise that that is a bog of your own, like it’s an imaginary bog. It doesn’t really exist in helping them work through it. Others, and if it’s to do with activation energy, is helping them have the energy to get out of the like, mediocre situation or whatever it is, and then the the bad escape plan, like helping them realise that just trying harder isn’t going to work, and maybe using some stories from our own lives to be able to to do that. The the one with the like insufficient activation energy is interesting. So I’ve never really had a problem with. There’s been times in my life, to be fair, when I’ve been. I’ve struggled, but in general I don’t have a problem with activation energy or motivation to do stuff. Um, and I’ve been reading Co-intelligence Living and Working with I by Ethan Mollick recently I pre-ordered it, so it came to my house on the day it came out, and he was saying that the number one reason for using I like ChatGPT and stuff for him is that like activation energy to like get over the the writer’s block or to like just keep on going, you know, in a bit, a bit like Ernest Hemingway used to finish sentences halfway through. So he had something to come back to a bit like that, but like with AI, to kind of like get out of the oh, I’m just stuck and I can’t get past this bit here. Getting them to just finish that bit off so you can come back to it later and move on to the next bit or something like that.

Laura Hilliger: [00:28:31] Yeah. I don’t really have, uh, hard time with activation energy specifically. Like, if I have an idea, it’s really easy to start. You know, I don’t like. I just know how to get ideas out of myself for me. And I don’t know if this falls into. Actually any of these three. Um. But it’s less less about the the activation energy and more about the creative energy. Like it’s not hard to get started, but sometimes I’m just not feeling creative. So for example, I will see a thing that I know needs to be done. I’ll have an idea for it, but just not the energy to like, do it. Kind of. And it’s not exactly activation because the ideas are already there. And I find that if I just like, put it in the back of my head and don’t worry about it, then when the activation energy does come, it comes all in full force, like on Tuesday. I mean, like crazy dear listener. Crazy Laura on Tuesday had all of the energy in the room and we’re just pouring it out in 16 different places. And I mean, the thing that I was working on has been in the back of my head for a month.

Doug Belshaw: [00:29:47] I wonder whether that’s like, that’s less that you were stuck. Yeah. Which is the it’s more like, you know, that there’s a I mean, I know for a fact that you’re sick of me referencing that Buster Benson post, um, about the different, you know, different modes that you’re in and stuff.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:06] We should put it in the show notes in case somebody hasn’t ever seen.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:08] We should.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:09] Do. Yeah, and we should just talk about it. Go on. I’m not sick of it, Buster Benson.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:13] Live like a hydra. Yes, I’ll put that in. Anyway, scrolling down on that post takes you to a bit, which talks about seven modes for seven heads, and he talks about there’s different modes in which we find ourselves, and it’s okay to be in like novelty mode. It’s okay to be in recovery mode. We’re not always in like gold mode all the time. But yeah, I wonder whether it’s it’s not to do with you being stuck. It’s more it’s more to do with, you know, that there’s a more creative mode of yourself.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:41] Mhm. That’s exactly what it is you’re.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:43] Waiting for that exactly.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:44] What it is. I know, I know that I could start a thing, but I am aware enough of the kind of creative energy that I have that it would be more valuable to do nothing and wait until, you know, flow mode is upon me or creative mode or whatever it is. That’s exactly what it is. I know that there’s a better mode for it, and and then I wait until the mode hits. But sometimes the better mode doesn’t hit for a very long time or like weeks.

Doug Belshaw: [00:31:15] Yeah. And I guess that that would go back to in that case, you might actually be stuck in that case. Going back to the debugging post, that would be the kind of, um, waiting for jackpot version of insufficient activation energy you’re waiting for, like the absolute best time to do this work when actually that might not exist.

Laura Hilliger: [00:31:38] Oh, I mean, the declining the dragon is kind of it. I mean, he says, sometimes I know exactly what I need to do in order to leave the bog, but I’m too afraid to do it. Um, I think that sometimes I know exactly what I need to do to activate or be unstuck. And it’s not fear that keeps me from doing it, but rather the knowledge that there is that it’ll be easier. Maybe if I do it when I have the right energy level. Well, it’s.

Doug Belshaw: [00:32:05] It’s waiting for the muse, isn’t it? That kind of thing. Yeah. Um, this reminds me of a post which was written by Ash Newman, and it’s just a short post which talks about they’ve entitled the post Stop Acting Like You’re Famous. Um, and.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:23] I read this one. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:32:24] Yeah. So what did you think they’re saying? Like, why are you acting like you’re famous? Like, anything you do or create will probably receive little to no attention. So stop optimising for a non-existing audience, nonexistent audience, and instead focus on what makes you enjoy the activity. So if you’re doing a craft or artistic hobby, like you’re not trying to build a brand out of it, if you’re doing photography, you’re not Ansel Adams like so if you have different styles, who cares? You have to create an Instagram thing just for your photos. Like you can just get on with it and do it. You can have hobbies.

Laura Hilliger: [00:32:56] I mean, so I completely agree with that. You can have hobbies. You don’t have to share everything. You don’t have to put post everything that you’ve, you know, read, watched, done in the past 24 hours on some social media network. Um, I do plenty of things that never make it to the internet at all. Um, there’s something here about the way that we’ve been conditioned to see our hobbies and like the, you know, state of the world. I think that a lot of people overshare and share everything with the hope of being able to have a more sustainable work life, not work life balance, but just work. Um, like, I think that there are a lot of people who they do the hobby. And it’s not that they’re trying to be famous, it’s just that they would like to be able to do the hobby professionally. And so they think that the only way that they can do that is, you know, by basically becoming famous so that they can do the hobby so that they’re funded to do the hobby. And I think, I mean. Yeah, I think I think that’s I don’t know, there’s some nuance here because I think that there’s also like plenty of people in the world who really are just trying to be famous.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:10] Like, yeah, for sure.

Laura Hilliger: [00:34:12] Um, but like, I don’t know, I. I think of some like arty, crafty people I know who either do or do not sell their stuff online. You know, and like I know one, I know at least one person, for example, that makes, uh, ceramics and puts them online because otherwise her basement gets filled up with ceramics and she just needs to get rid of them. And she told me she’s like, I hate being like, I hate having to sell. I hate taking pictures. I hate posting this stuff online. I just want to make pots. But having that many ceramics in your basement is like actually pretty hard. So I need I need to sell them to get rid of them.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:55] So Jay Springett blog is currently loading really slowly, but this reminds me of something that he wrote about recently about where interests take you, which I thought was interesting. So he’s spending a lot more time away from social media. In fact, he might have given up social media, I think, and he’s saying that it means that his media diet is way more, um, diverse and it’s taking him in different directions than maybe the algorithm would take him or what other people’s interests are. And I’ve talked about this before about like when I worked at HMV, what, 20 over 20 years ago now when I was a student, I was importing stuff from Japan, um, like going on proper, like rabbit holes around a particular artist or musical style and like, they’re the b side of the B side of the B side, the rare thing, whatever. Becoming like a collector, doing all that kind of stuff. They never do anything like that now, because I’ve got access to everything on Spotify, but I haven’t really got access to everything on Spotify. I know I haven’t, because I’ve got some stuff on CD that you can’t get on Spotify, and it’s it’s just like you end up replacing one thing with another. There’s another thing which I wanted to share actually, about, um, people not reading anymore. Maybe I haven’t put that on here, but people just this there’s always like moral panic about people not reading anymore, but they’re just doing different kinds of stuff. Anyway, that blog post isn’t particularly loading quickly, so maybe we’ll just stick in the show notes for for later. Um.

Laura Hilliger: [00:36:33] Are you talking about the where interests take you post because.

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:36] Yeah. Is it loading for you?

Laura Hilliger: [00:36:38] No. I actually opened up a private browser because sometimes my my security and privacy plugins interfere with things. Uh, but no, it will not load.

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:50] Well, just have a look at the one entitled Book Reading and Secondary Orality. So, as anyone who’s. Listen to me speak. Over the years, this thing called the Gutenberg parenthesis. So if you think about the time in which the printing press was invented in the 15th century, since then to now kind of time the the printed word, the book has absolutely dominated. But human history in terms of human history, that’s a very small amount of time. And now we’re in a world of lost and mixed media, uh, a time when you can share videos and audio like we’re doing now around the world. And so the given that we’re all about telling stories, this secondary orality. So the primary orality was before literate culture. The secondary orality is this post Gutenberg phase where we can talk to each other at distance and make videos and do all things which aren’t written, but they still depends on literate culture, if that makes sense. So all of this stuff in this really weird Rumble post, which was in the New Yorker about, you know, whether it’s good or not that people are reading books, like, objectively speaking, is it better that someone reads Dostoyevsky than watches a lot of TikTok videos? I don’t know, like from my point of view, I very much enjoy reading. I find it much more information dense. Um, I could read the transcript of this podcast about ten times faster than listening to it. Uh, but yeah, it’s weird when people take a moral position on something when actually they don’t perhaps know the wider context. Right?

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:34] I mean, this is a moral position on the advent of mass media is like well documented. I mean, when the Gutenberg press was invented and they started printing the written word, um, there was a lot of upheaval in society at that time, because at the time it was the church that thought that they should be the arbiters of knowledge. And the more the people learned how to read, and the more the people became literate, the more they were able to have an opinion. Actually, um, and, you know, at the very, at the very beginning, it was only religious texts that should, should be printed. And as the quote unquote masses, uh, started to, you know, print other things than those other things were immediately blasphemous. And there was moral panic around. Oh, no, people are printing anything they want. What do we do? Um, and like I, I have another article that I saw recently which was about the moral panic around beepers in the 90s. Oh, yeah, I saw that. Um, you saw that one? Yeah. And it’s like, anytime there there’s a new technology, a new way to communicate with more people, different people in multimedia ways. Then there’s always going to be some kind of panic around it. And how is it affecting society? So and I think the historical context of mass media is actually really interesting in that regard, because the internet was the first thing that brought together all of our, most of our senses. Um, so it wasn’t just reading, it wasn’t just watching. It wasn’t just listening as former mass media, uh, inventions were it was all of those things together. Um, so, yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:40:20] Well, talking about moral panics and being a bit shocked about stuff, did you see the thing about real time deepfakes and romance scams?

Laura Hilliger: [00:40:30] Uh, no, but I’ve been for the last couple of years, been reading a lot about, like. I’ve been reading a lot. I’m weirdly and darkly fascinated with scams and am kind of paranoid about them. Um, just because, like, they affect all of us and like at the regular and it’s just getting harder and harder to see them. And as somebody who works in technology, I feel better equipped to spot a scam like that. You know, people text me and I don’t know who they are. Then, like, I’m immediately suspicious and I don’t care what the story is. And and I’ve been called paranoid for this. Yeah. Uh, which I think is, is funny. Um, but no, I haven’t. Uh. Yeah. I think the real time deepfake videos, um, real time deepfake audio, all of that stuff I find, uh, terrifying on the one hand, but also quite fascinating at how just how far technology has come in my lifetime, I guess.

Doug Belshaw: [00:41:28] So this is this is a wired article talking about the Yahoo boys who are primarily based in Nigeria, although they share their tips on telegram channels and provide scripts for anyone to be able to do this. And they talk about in this article, they talk about two different live deepfake calls. So I’ll just quote in the first, the scammers use a setup of two phones and a face swapping app. The scammer holds the phone they’re calling their victim with their mostly seen using zoom um, and uses its rear camera to record the screen of a second phone. The second phone has its camera pointing at the scammers face and is running a face swapping app. They often place the two phones on stands to ensure they don’t move, and use ring lights to improve conditions for real time face swap video show. So basically one phone point to another phone. The second phone is running a face swapping app, and that second phone is pointing at the scammers face. And in the example, you’ve got literally a black guy with a beard. And on the video, which is going to the person who’s, you know, being conned, you’ve got a white guy without a beard.

Doug Belshaw: [00:42:32] It’s absolutely mental. The second common tactic uses a laptop instead of a phone. Um, and here the scammer uses a webcam to capture their face, and software running on the laptop changes their appearance. Videos of the setup show scammers are able to see their own face alongside the altered deepfake, with just the manipulated image being displayed over the live video call. Exactly. And what they’re saying in this article is that, um, because it’s like a long con of the romance scam, you know, how you get sucked into something, there might be like, little glitches that happen where if you or I or someone else that. But because they’ve built up trust, they can talk them away. And they’re saying as these things get better, instead of them being part of a long con of a romance scam, they’ll be part of like everyday, quick kind of scams, you know? But yeah, interesting stuff. Let’s let’s finish with something a bit lighter. Um.

Laura Hilliger: [00:43:35] Yeah, we started with, like, emotional regulation and went down into the depths of, you know, gratitude and memory. And now we’re and now we’ve come all the way to deep fakes and scamming people. So this is actually the last episode of this season of the Dao of. Wow. Which means that, um, the ramble chat season is almost an end.

Doug Belshaw: [00:44:03] So the four links that we’ve prepared, which I’ve kind of just taken from things I’ve written on Thought Shrapnel over the last few weeks. They’re not necessarily very positive. So, for example, the three that I’m going to suggest we reject are, um, basically nobody buys books anymore. And the book publishers are a bit like venture capitalists in that they’re they’re funding lots of different things, just in case one absolutely smashes it, like how we bought it. The second one is about, um, like social media with no audience. And how many people are streaming live to Twitch and writing blog posts that just like no one is paying any attention to. And they liken it to warming your hands over an oil drum bonfire in an abandoned city which is just dark and depressing. Then I was going to talk about, um, Saudi Arabia’s plan for the line and how that was always just bullshit. And they never planned to build that, and it was just a distraction from their lack of progress on climate change. So instead, I guess the only one left is about this French philosopher called Bernard Stiegler, who owned a jazz club which was shut down for illegal prostitution and developed his philosophy of technics whilst he was in prison for armed robbery.

Laura Hilliger: [00:45:14] Um.

Doug Belshaw: [00:45:17] So we know what pharmacology is. Yeah. So it’s the impact of drugs on the human body. And he talks about a pharmacology of digital tools. So he says instead of tools instead of us just using digital tools. Instead they enter and pharmacologically changes like medicinal drugs. Um, and just to quote uh, today we can take this analogy even further. The internet presents us with a massive archive of formatted, readily accessible information. Sites such as Wikipedia contain terabytes of knowledge accumulated and passed down over millennia. At the same time, this exchange of unprecedented amounts of information enables the dissemination of an unprecedented amount of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and other harmful content. The digital is both a poison and a cure, as Derrida would say.

Laura Hilliger: [00:46:07] And this is the one that you’re choosing as the light.

Doug Belshaw: [00:46:11] It’s the lightest. What can I say?

Laura Hilliger: [00:46:14] The light is option. Okay.

Doug Belshaw: [00:46:16] I just thought was absolutely fascinating to think about technology like that. And also his life, like the fact that he owned a jazz club which was said, which was shut down for illegal prostitution, and that he basically became a philosopher by reading books in a prison library while he was in there for armed robbery.

Laura Hilliger: [00:46:38] Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s light and fluffy for sure. Like that. That story and his life, it’s all light and fluffy and talking about how digital tools are changing the chemical makeup of our bodies, which is something that’s being studied in particular with the, you know, the way the the progress that the scientific community has made around, uh, neurology, neurostimulation neural pathway and so on. But the only.

Doug Belshaw: [00:47:06] Other things I’ve got, Laura, are, um, a robo dog which has a flame, which has a flame thrower attached to it, which isn’t exactly very light and fluffy.

Laura Hilliger: [00:47:16] That’s lighter and fluffier than us. Uh, contemplate contemplating how our pharmacology has changed because of the internetting that we’ve done over the past 30 years.

Doug Belshaw: [00:47:27] Well, okay. But like, I find.

Laura Hilliger: [00:47:30] That story about the dog.

Doug Belshaw: [00:47:31] Come on. Right. So this is the.

Laura Hilliger: [00:47:32] Readers are with me. I mean, the listeners, if they’re all with me. Dog, flamethrower. Yes. Right.

Doug Belshaw: [00:47:38] So I put the link in the show notes. So you’ve seen those Boston Dynamics dogs? Yeah. The ones that can go over different ground and chase you and do all that kind of stuff. Now they’re saying that this flamethrower wielding robot dog, which is now available for purchase at $9,420, which seems like a scandalously low amount, one hour battery, 30 foot flame throwing range, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Laura Hilliger: [00:48:04] Gasoline or napalm.

Doug Belshaw: [00:48:07] That’s right. So it’s got whoa, it’s got lidar for mapping and obstacle avoidance, laser sighting, and first person view through an on board camera. Um, anyway, it’s saying that this could be used for clearing snow from your drive or potentially like doing controlled burn. And you’re like, no, this is a military. This is a military object anyway. It is dystopian. Watch the video. It is dystopian as hell. It really is.

Laura Hilliger: [00:48:42] Wow.

Doug Belshaw: [00:48:43] It’s called the Therminator.

Laura Hilliger: [00:48:46] So if I buy one of these, is anybody out there want to fund me buying one of these? I can’t imagine it’s legal in my country, but apparently it’s legal in 48 US states.

Doug Belshaw: [00:49:02] Because of course it is.

Laura Hilliger: [00:49:03] Because. Of course it is. Yeah. Um, okay. Well, I’m going to watch the video. I am terrified by the image and the fact that it is I mean, you know, just under 10,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s not that much money. I mean, it can literally buy a flame throwing dog. Why can’t we have jetpacks or matter transporters? You know, like you.

Doug Belshaw: [00:49:31] Should scroll down to the comment. You should scroll down to the comments. Right?

Laura Hilliger: [00:49:33] Oh good.

Doug Belshaw: [00:49:34] Right. So one person’s put a link into a flamethrower drone kit. Someone else has said that this is my emotional support animal. Now another person. Another person said that they’ve prematurely stamped the gender reveal party flamethrower robot dog accident square on their 2024 wildfires bingo card. And then they’re saying they’re nervously eyeing the machine learning autonomy upgrade version. Um, for 2025.

Laura Hilliger: [00:50:10] Okay, well. What could possibly go wrong? So that.

Doug Belshaw: [00:50:16] Was fluffy and light and airy, wasn’t.

Laura Hilliger: [00:50:18] It? Definitely fluffy and light. Yeah. If we end with flame throwers, everybody is kept warm. So, dear listener, thank you.

Doug Belshaw: [00:50:28] Can I, can I, can I say, can I say here end of season nine.

Laura Hilliger: [00:50:33] Yes. I think that should be the last clip. Can you do it in like a very low like really. Bassy kind of voice.

Doug Belshaw: [00:50:42] Here endth season nine.