Being Human in a LARPing World

PDF download: Being Human in a LARPing World

That’s a painting of Alexander the Great “untying” the Gordian Knot. You remember the story, right? While he was out conquering Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), Alexander entered a city where a knot of surpassing complexity had been tied in front of a temple. The prophecy, of course, was that whoever untied the knot would rule the world. But the knot was so complex, so dense, so self-reinforcing, that it was impossible to untie the knot on its own terms. So Alexander created new terms, external to the game that he had been told to play. He cut it with his sword.

That’s exactly how you get out of a bad equilibrium in game theory. You change the terms of the game by creating a larger game, a metagame. You add a new dimension to the game so that players choose to cooperate for a better payoff and a new equilibrium within the metagame.

That’s exactly how you solve the electoral polarization problem in political theory. You introduce a new, cross-cutting issue space that has a single-peaked distribution of political preferences. You add a new dimension to the game so that voters choose to cooperate for a better policy outcome within the larger issue space.

Or we can just keep LARPing our way from one human disaster to another, playing the game exactly as we are told.

LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role Play.

It’s what Civil War reenactors do when they dress up in Union and Confederate garb to fight a pretend battle, or what Dungeons & Dragons aficionados do when they dress up as wizards or paladins to fight a pretend monster. It’s also what the Uvalde police does when they dress up in tactical gear to be a pretend SWAT Team.

But, hey, they keep their index fingers straight and not on the trigger! That’s so cool.

The hardest part of writing this note was getting past the anger.

Anger at the deranged, violence-fantasist teenager who murdered children with a military-cartoonified rifle.

Anger at the LARPing, violence-fantasist adults who dressed up as a police SWAT team with military-cartoonified rifles and then hunkered down in a school hallway while children were being murdered.

And I’m not there yet – past the anger, I mean – but I want to talk now about what the Uvalde massacre is and what it isn’t, before this, too, gets autotuned into the memory hole oblivion of red vs. blue and the yakkety-yak-yak of Gun Reform! and Police Reform!.

Uvalde is not a symbol of anything.

Uvalde is not a catalyst of anything.

Uvalde IS.

Uvalde IS our American society, where gun culture and police culture have metastasized into a chronic, disabling illness. I don’t mean that the spread of gun culture and police culture is like a disease. I mean that our society is literally infected with the ideas of gun culture and police culture that live virus-like in the metaverse. I know that sounds weird, to say that ideas and narratives are as alive in their invisible world as viruses and bacteria are alive in theirs. But just … consider it, okay? Because once you see that the ideas and narratives of gun culture and police culture are as real and powerful (more so!) than guns and police themselves, I think you’ll more easily see the challenge before us.

And that challenge is this:

Uvalde IS an incredibly stable equilibrium of ideas and narratives where it is distinctively advantageous to the two dominant political parties and the two most powerful social institutions of the modern American age – public safety and public education – to preserve the conditions which made this massacre possible.

No one wants a Uvalde massacre. That is not what I am saying.

What I am saying is that the set of ideas and narratives that allow a Uvalde massacre are beneficial to the political interests of the Republican party AND the Democratic party, the public safety apparatus AND the public education apparatus. The ideas and narratives that allow a Uvalde massacre provide each of these institutions with an eternal, amorphous enemy, with a readymade set of rallying cries in the metaverse, with an inexhaustible set of LARPing opportunities for political and bureaucratic entrepreneurs. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

To be clear, I am all for policy reform around both guns and police. Here’s the article I wrote about all that two years ago: The Anti-Anarchist Cookbook. Defund the police? No. Demilitarize and deunionize the police? Oh my god yes. As for guns, of course I think we should prevent teenagers, criminals and mentally ill violence-fantasists from buying any firearm, much less ridiculous cartoon rifles like AR-15s that are specifically designed and marketed to appeal to violence-fantasists.

But I also know this: policy reform, of whatever degree and whatever type, is not enough.

It will never – by design – be enough.

American politics IS an equilibrium, where all of our social ideas and narratives – not just those around guns and policing – are intentionally constructed and molded to support an extremely stable system, such that LARPing and play-acting at all of our social practices – not just those around guns and policing – have become the path of least resistance and the best way to get a pat on the head from the Nudging Oligarchy and the Nudging State. Hey, I got retweeted by Don Jr/ AOC / Elon! I am part of an important social movement!

American politics IS a race to the metaversal bottom between Trumpism, Wall Streetism and Wokeism, with one horrible anti-human idea after another presented with greater and greater narrative sophistication and narrative weaponization. All three are just modalities of The Long Now, what Orwell described as “an endless present where the Party is always right”, manifesting in an American context of constant economic stimulus and equally constant political fear to maintain a profoundly anti-human and profoundly self-stabilizing status quo.

What do I mean by a self-stabilizing status quo? I mean that in exactly the same way that our reform ideas surrounding money have been coopted by Wall Street and Washington (Bitcoin becomes Bitcoin!™), so have our reform ideas surrounding politics been coopted to the same effect. The Long Now pulls forward the economic future through credit and leverage to make a present of constant economic stimulus, so that Bitcoin! becomes just another game in the Wall Street casino. Step right up and place your bets! The Long Now pulls forward the political future through narrative and social media to make a present of constant political fear, so that Reform! becomes just another battlefield in the red vs. blue war. Stay alert for the enemy!

I mean, look at this:

This is the result of a poll taken by the Pew Research Center about one month before the 2020 election. Only 22% of Trump voters believed that Biden voters share the same basic American values as they have. The flip side was even worse. Only 18% of Biden voters believed that Trump voters are “good Americans” like they are.

The American political equilibrium is a forever war. The other side, whatever that other side might be, is not just mistaken on this particular issue (say, gun control), they are Bad People. They cannot be trusted. There is no common ground. They are not true citizens of this country. The only “reform” that can be contemplated is the complete rout of the other side, and any sort of “compromise” is a temporary deal with the devil, to be abrogated whenever the pendulum of power swings your way.

This is intentional.

I don’t begrudge anyone’s efforts to “make a difference” by engaging directly with the anti-human status quo of the Long Now, whether that’s crypto true-believers engaging with the financial system or reformist true-believers engaging with the political system. I support your goals (most of them, anyway) and I wish you all the luck in the world.

My personal view, though, is that so long as these engagements are embedded within the forever war (and phony war!) of Libtards versus Magats, then there is no authentic engagement to be had.

There is only LARPing.

So that brings me to the second hardest part of writing this note – what can I say about Uvalde that is constructive? What can I say about Uvalde other than express my rage, other than point out that it’s all LARPing, all the way down, including earnest attempts at reform?

The answer, as always, can be found in an Old Story. In this case, I believe that the answer to our intractable, unsolvable problem of American politics is found in the story of Alexander and the Gordian Knot.

Just like Alexander, we will cut through the knot by creating a new set of terms, external to the game we have been told to play, and in so doing we will solve the unsolvable-on-its-own-terms Forever War + Phony War of modern American politics.

Not with a sword, but with a shared spirit of human autonomy and dignity.

The cure for the cancer of gun culture and police culture is not to be found in reform laws around guns and police, but in reform ideas around culture, ideas that create a new dimension of American society that rejects LARPing and LARPers alike.

What are these ideas? The ideas of being human. The ideas of Make / Protect / Teach.

What does it mean to Make?

It means you are an inventor. A manufacturer. An artist. A craftsman. A kid at a Maker Fair. A farmer. An engineer. A home builder. A coder. It’s the creation of something (doesn’t have to be a ‘thing’, though!) through the application of some creative IDEA.

What does it mean to Protect?

It means you are a soldier. A policeman. A fireman. An EMT. A nurse. A doctor. It’s a Neighborhood Watch. It’s a mechanic fixing a car. It’s also a unionization drive. It’s also a fiduciary managing a portfolio. It’s anything where you are prioritizing the safety and security of others.

What does it mean to Teach?

It means you are a teacher, of course. Or a writer. Or a researcher. Or a priest. Or a home-schooling mom. Or a little league coach. It can be an older person sharing experiences about the world-as-it-is with a younger person. And vice versa. It means you’ve got something to say to your Pack, and you’ve got the guts to say it.

Here’s the full note on Make / Protect / Teach:

And yes, I realize that the vast majority of people reading this note would not be practitioners of Make / Protect / Teach, at least not in their day job.

But it doesn’t have to be your day job. It just has to be your identity, how you choose to carry yourself in the world, how you choose to assign your attention and your inherent human autonomy regardless of your day job. Your day job is what you do. Make / Protect / Teach is who you are.

Being Human is the first principle of what it means to make or to protect or to teach, the first principle of what it means to have an identity based on human autonomy and dignity.

Being Human is a choice.

Being Human is where we stand our ground. Not on some national political scale where we are used as fodder and feed by the Grand LARPers. But on the personal scale. On the scale of our families and our communities. A scale where we can recognize ourselves once again, not as a mini-LARPer means to some Statist or Oligarchic end, but as fully human members of a clear-eyed and full-hearted Pack.

Here are three examples of what I mean by Being Human, one each for Make / Protect / Teach.

I’ll start with Protect, because it brings us full circle back to Uvalde.

The Human hero is on the right. This is the guy who actually went through the door, took a bullet across his scalp, and shot the murdering psychopath dead. Notice what the Human hero is not doing. He is not peacocking with a cartoon rifle. He is not wearing cartoon tactical gear. Hell, he’s wearing a baseball cap and jeans. An hour ago he was forty miles away, sitting down with his dad to eat lunch. And then he heard the call.

“They were done waiting for permission”

Being Human means that you do not wait for Incident Command to give the order to protect children from being murdered.

Being Human means that you do not wait for permission from the Nudging State or the Nudging Oligarchy to act constructively in the world.

“They continued even after one of them heard a command crackling in his ear piece”

This is the hardest part about Being Human: we all have commands crackling in our earpieces.

My examples for Make and Teach are not nearly so dramatic, and intentionally so.

Why? Because you don’t have to be a hero to be a Human. You don’t have to breach a door with an active shooter on the other side waiting to blow your head off. You just have to act where you see an urgent need. You just have to be brave enough to ignore those social commands crackling in your earpiece.

They’re also personal examples, because I’m anything but a hero.

My Make example is Frontline Heroes, a project that Rusty and I started in March 2020 with friends and family to source, purchase and distribute PPE – particularly N95 and equivalent masks – to the emergency responders and healthcare workers who were on the frontlines of the Covid war with nothing to protect themselves. Over the following year, we distributed more than 250,000 N95 and equivalent masks in packets of 100 to 200 at a time to more than 1,700 individual nurses and EMTs and docs and firefighters and cops in all 50 states, who in turn distributed them to their teams. We made a distribution network that got PPE directly into the hands of the human beings who in turn risked their lives for us every day as the pandemic raged.

A quick story about Frontline Heroes to demonstrate the power of Make / Protect / Teach …

In the early months, it wasn’t just that US supply chains for PPE were completely bollixed up, so were “normal” supply chains from China. There were no shipments or containers of N95s or equivalent masks to be had, period. I had half a dozen deals with Chinese suppliers go bad, always at the last moment. So working with a friend at Intel, we connected with individual Chinese citizens who – spending their own money and on their own time – would buy as many high quality masks as they could under the Chinese government’s personal allowance, and then mail them to my home. Ultimately we were able to reimburse them, but making that happen was another set of crazy stories. Why did these Chinese citizens, with zero connection to the US other than working for a US company, sacrifice so much and take such risks for Americans they did not know and would never meet? Because they are Humans. I often think of this when our LARPing political leaders and their LARPing political leaders tell us that China and the US are enemies.

When you engage with the real world on a project of urgent need … you are never alone. You will find other Humans from all over the world, and they will support you.

My Teach example is even more personal and even more mundane. It’s our decision to homeschool our kids.

From Clever Hans

I don’t talk about this very much in public, because most people assume that homeschoolers are either religious zealots or antisocial freaks, and we’re definitely not the former. Maybe a bit antisocial, but I wouldn’t call it “freakish” per se. We just don’t like seeing neighbors’ houses. Or neighbors. People, really … okay, maybe a little freakish after all. But that’s not why we homeschool.

We homeschool because we want to be more active participants in our children’s education. That’s not a knock on our local public schools, which are as good as they come. That’s not a knock on private schools in the area, many of which are world-renowned. We homeschool because most of the practices and structures of the modern school, public or private, exist for the benefit of the institution, not the child. There’s nothing evil or bad about this, it’s just inherent in the logistics and organization required for any effective institution responsible for hundreds or thousands of people. But it’s not just logistics. It’s not just the bus schedule. It’s also the curriculum. It’s also the homework and the testing. It’s also the social structures and social behaviors that are embedded in the modern school.

Modern education is a perfect example of the Industrially Necessary Egg — spotlessly clean and cool to the touch, not because that makes for a better tasting egg, but because the protein factories that supply mass society with mass quantities of eggs require chemical washes and refrigeration to turn a profit. That’s fine. I get it. We live in a big world where lots of people want eggs, and the protein factories satisfy that desire pretty effectively.

But what’s not fine is that we have all been nudged into believing that the Industrially Necessary Egg is the Best Egg, that a fresh egg, which isn’t scrubbed clean and never sees a refrigerator, is an Inferior Egg. We have all been nudged into believing that of course 13-year-olds should be grouped with other 13-year-olds during most waking hours, that of course there should be a clear delineation between home life and school life, that of course the school day should mirror the adult work day, that of course classroom lectures are the most effective pedagogy, that of course children can only be socialized by letting them roam free in a big flock from one semi-shepherded environment to another.

So yeah, we want to be active participants in our children’s lives, and that’s why we homeschool. Not to shield them or isolate them from reality, but to be there for them as counselors and teachers as they confront reality. And not just to be there for them when mass society allows us, when it’s our turn during the work week to take responsibility for our own kids, but to embrace that responsibility all of the time. Because it IS our responsibility all of the time, no matter how much mass society facilitates and nudges us into partially abdicating that responsibility so that we can work longer and longer hours in service to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.

Nudges are the commands crackling in our earpieces.

I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I know that homeschooling is impossible for most. I know that when I say “we homeschool” it is entirely a royal we, where my wife shoulders 99% of the burden. But I also know that you don’t have to homeschool outright to be a truly active and engaged participant in your child’s education. You don’t have to homeschool to show up every day for your child. You don’t have to homeschool to trust your gut – your human gut – about what is best for your child. You don’t have to homeschool to stop waiting for permission to engage actively with your child’s education. You don’t have to homeschool to stop listening to the commands crackling in your earpiece, telling you what’s ‘best’ for you and your family. Every Human can do that.

And that’s the point.

Being Human isn’t about a specific outcome, like “homeschool your kids”. It’s about making a choice to live a life of autonomy and active participation in the real world of the real people who mean the most to you. It’s not a chore! It’s about play. It’s about exploration. It’s about empathy. It’s about being a human.

I promise you this. Everything you give, you will receive ten-fold in return. Because that’s how being a human works. It doesn’t diminish in the spending. It grows.

The solution to the Long Now is not a political movement from the top down, but a social movement from the bottom up.

And that’s what Make / Protect / Teach is … a personal social movement that requires only the personal choice to act constructively and courageously in your everyday life.

It’s a personal social movement based on resistance and refusal. A refusal to vote for ridiculous candidates. A refusal to buy ridiculous securities. A refusal to take on ridiculous debts. A refusal to abdicate your identity and autonomy of mind.

It’s also a personal social movement based on more than refusal, more than turning the other cheek. There is also the action of being human, action in service to your Pack and your self-realization as a Human, not action in service to the Grand LARPers and their begrudging pats on your head.

Make / Protect / Teach and Being Human are revolutions. Not the revolutions that get televised and autotuned, but revolutions of the Human heart … which are the only revolutions that ever made a damn bit of difference anyway.

Everyone reading this note can adopt the principles of Make / Protect / Teach in whatever way works for them. It’s like homeschooling – there is no “right way” to do this, there is only the honest, human effort to BE a maker or a protector or a teacher. I have no idea what will come out of this call, no idea where you will go with this, but I can’t wait to find out. You can lurk. You can dabble. You can dive in. You can change your mind.

But if you can’t escape the nagging feeling that this LARPing world of political forever war is a false world, if you feel your humanity being sucked out of you one angry social media engagement at a time, if you want to find other actual human beings to explore ideas and projects of actual human meaning, know this:

You are not alone.

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  1. I love this Ben.

    In a world where somehow we are reduced to picking between a destructive anti-government/anti-rules libertarianism and equally problematic big-government/fiat politics, I would like to choose a bottom-up system based on our shared humanity. Where rules aren’t the enemy, but are recognized as the useful fictions they are.

    I believe we have reached a good old storage issue. Society has developed into something so complex that we can no longer see the duality between our useful fictions and our actual network of human beings. And like the time-poor Consumers!TM that we have become, we resort to reading only headlines instead of the stories the headlines were intended to symbolise.

    What a mess.

  2. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Beautiful Ben, this had me tearing up on the subway.

  3. LARPing
    Live Action Role Playing

    Unaware of the water in which we swim.
    Unaware of the narrative in which we live.

    Thank you Ben,
    Jim Handshaw

  4. Why is there no discussion here of what actually happened, and didn’t happen, in Uvalde on a macro level? Seems pretty clear that this whole event was stage managed, much as so many of the major events that have happened since like… the beginning of the twentieth (and I don’t mean 21st) century. Until we confront the demon head on, which means calling it out for what it is instead of hiding behind memes, we cannot even begin to make progress in defeating it – all the pray, eat, love, teach aside. What we are looking at is a Hydra whose sole desire is our complete capitulation, which is to say enslavement. Uvalde, clearly so, is just another operation designed to further their narrative. Can it possibly be seen in any other light? How many MK Ultras, Project Artichokes, et al. need to surface until it is understood what is being done to us? Good grief!

  5. Thank you Ben. I need to regularly hear your voice of sanity and reason, in this insane, unreasonable world. Your efforts are appreciated.

  6. Therapeutic. You have captured the despair so well.

  7. Ben, will you please take a few minutes to define what you mean by “gun culture”? It’s not clear to me what behaviors, actions, and attitudes you consider to be part of the cancer of gun culture versus those that are not. A little clarity may help advance the discussion.

  8. Excellent post!

    I can relate to the anger. I am so frustrated and weary from trying to be human in a LARPing world.
    I needed the reminder that I am not alone.

  9. So this article was what finally out me over the edge to become a member of the pack. Long overdue in retrospect but glad to be here. This is my first post.

    I read an article recently by Jonathan Haidt about the last decade of American Stupidity the other day and I thought he nailed the problem very effectively, but wasn’t very keen on his solution. Highly recommend taking the time to read the article. It’s in the Atlantic.

    Shortly after I read this article from Ben, and BAM! The solution crystal clear. A personal revolution has begun. Make. Teach. Protect. It starts with me.

    I’m excited to join the pack and support all the hard work Ben and Epsilon Theory is doing, and look forward to getting to know this community. I trust that perhaps this is a place that has not become an absolute dumpster fire of dart throwing entrenched ideologues.

    Hope Everyone has a wonderful day today!

  10. A gun is made for target sports or for mechanical injury, killing and threatening to.
    Collecting guns for historical and sentimental reasons sits outside of the scope of this post.
    A gun culture is a society that has cultivated their minds to see guns as part of everyday life not solely for the purposes stated above. The extra supposed utility is stuff like looking cool or feeling macho.
    I think that if you need a gun to feel virile there is probably an amount of compensating going on.
    The prevalence of them in tv shows and computer games, to raise the level of jeopardy for dramatic effect, demonstrates the addictive behaviour that excitement through fear is.
    If over-civilized life is dull perhaps we import needless danger purely for giggles. Mathematic probability dictates the existence of extreme unwanted outcomes.
    In the UK there is a proven case of murder by tampering with a fellow skydiver’s parachute. It was jilted lover’s jealousy.

  11. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I read this terrifying and sobering quote in the WSJ yesterday about the young man who was arrested outside of Judge Kavanaugh’s home:

    The man allegedly said he came to kill Justice Kavanaugh “thinking it would give his life purpose.”

    Culture is what determines purpose and we have built for ourselves a culture of LARPing.

    Being human versus LARPing - what a wonderful summary of the choice that lies before us all every moment of every day.

    My prayer - make me more fully human every moment of every day and let me breach the nudging oligarchy.

    Thank you @bhunt.

  12. Tom, I’m a 2A advocate who believes that there’s no logical way around a belief in a constitutional right to bear arms with meaningful destructive power for someone who starts from a natural law belief in the right to self-determination. As a result of that (and the fact that we work together), I’ve probably spent more time talking to @bhunt about this point than anyone. So while I can’t speak to precisely what he means, I can tell you what left me feeling comfortable with this construction.

    You should read “Gun Culture” on these pages as the industry-cultivated fetishization of guns as a mechanism to feel like a badass, to cause fear in fellow citizens and to demand effortless respect.

    For example, we who respect and are familiar with guns can roll our eyes at the media descriptions of the AR-15 platform, usually a more or less middle of the road .223 Remington / 5.56 NATO semi-automatic rifle. What we cannot do is ignore that the marketing of this and similar platforms and LARPy modifications, vests and other “tactical gear” is specifically designed to appeal to those who are caught up by elements of that Gun Culture in the same way that some semi-automatic handguns have been carefully marketed by their manufacturers and distributors to appeal to those who have accelerated gang violence in many US cities.

    For the more visual among us, you can find the confluence of what we mean by Gun Culture and Police Culture in the case of Philip Mitchell Brailsford, an Arizona police officer who shot a harmless, sobbing man with “you’re fucked” engraved on the ejection port dust cover of his rifle. If you like this, you can find all sorts of other ones on hundreds of websites like this one.

    To Ben’s point throughout, our resistance to arbitrary forms of infringement shouldn’t make us resistant to criticism of gun fetishists. Quite to the contrary, I think it means we have more of a responsibility than anyone to loudly call out the LARPers, to facilitate a culture change toward guns as an indispensable element of our self-determination and citizen sovereignty rather than a feature of some “badass dude” persona we wish to wear.

  13. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    100x this. Thank you, @rguinn!

  14. To the question “What can one person do in these crazy times?”, someone wise told me to create an island of sanity and love. Just that.
    Your post speaks to what such an “island” can be about. Thank you for offering and sharing your own island.

  15. I liked the Gordian knot story. Just riffing with thoughts/questions that came to mind since reading the note. I’m thinking about the goal of a transformation of today’s widening gyre political polarization axis that you discussed via the analogy with the Gordian knot. Imagine a future world where what you are attempting with Make Protect Teach has accomplished a significant transformation of those axes. How would we define the new axes? One way based on this note would be MPT vs LARPers but I am not sure this is enough. People know, in theory, whether they are left/right on today’s axis…do LARPers know they are LARPers? Are people who think they are MPT actually MPT? To drive the transformation, are ‘wedge issues’ a prerequisite and if so what are they? Thinking here of the political horseshoe concept…what are issues/policies that could drive a transformation along a new axis where current ‘moderates’ become relatively extreme on the new axis and leave those caught up in the widening gyre alone to define the other end of that new axis?

  16. Thanks, Rusty. I believe that’s an important term to define to avoid misunderstandings.

  17. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Where do we find “Gun Culture” in order to read it?

  18. Great piece @bhunt .

    I think that a ground up approach using M/P/T or something similar is the way to go.
    It really needs to go hand in hand with creating strong families, communities and ultimately nations. I suppose the two are intertwined.

    Otherwise as beneficial as it will be to those directly engaged in M/P/T, its going to be one hell of a job reaching out to the masses, trying to convince them to engage in behaviour that promotes M/P/T and that doesn’t reward them with some reletively instant gratification.

    Do we have the patience for such a slow burn? I’m not sure.

  19. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    I’ve searched the articles and the forum and I can’t find any article or forum topic named “Gun Culture.” @rguinn?

  20. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    Ah - never mind, I think I get it now. “Gun culture” isn’t a piece to be read but rather it is two words to be understood as meaning industry-cultivated fetishization of guns as a mechanism to feel like a badass, to cause fear in fellow citizens and to demand effortless respect.

    Sorry, I’m a little slow sometimes!

  21. Avatar for Pat_W Pat_W says:

    “If over-civilized life is dull perhaps we import needless danger purely for giggles. Mathematic probability dictates the existence of extreme unwanted outcomes.”

    This is a very useful thought.

    @drrms I have long thought that the idea of respect in this country has been turned on it’s head and dropped. “you disrespected me” became an opportunistic thought that allowed first young people, then everyone, to act out anger and violence, and to get high on the hormones that calls up. It may be that Ben’s reference to LARPing is appropriate here as well.

    I had my evening ruined the other night when I clicked on a local news explanation of the incident in Florida where a 10 year old shot and killed a woman who was physically fighting with her mother. The 2 adults had a history of duking it out over things as petty as a post on social media. They run into each other at a neighborhood BBQ and started up again. The mom handed her purse to her daughter to hold for her. In that purse both mother and daughter knew she kept a loaded, unsecured gun. Then the daughter pulled out the gun and said something like, “you can’t mess with my mom!” while firing a bullet into the woman’s head.

    No adults in this story- the authorities later announced the child would be looked after and given help in “anger management”. At 10 it’s a bit late for that.

    Probably most of us here were taught that respect must be earned. I certainly was.

  22. Brilliant. The fetishization of guns and the yuuuge amounts of gun violence we are fed in the media, LARPing it up, feeds on itself. As a Jew who knows, after many centuries of things going well for us…until they don’t (I was also crystallized and radicalized by the book People Love Dead Jews), I carry and own several, and ammo. I will not go down quietly and feel a special responsibility when carrying. If you have a gun, for self defense only consider using it if it’s a me or an xx/xy or more than one is going to die or be attacked. Otherwise I avoid Standing My Ground! as we can here in FL. Now the morons in the legislature are pushing for what is euphemistically called “Constitutional Carry.” No permit, no registration, nothing. I’m all for allowing people to carry a Brown Bess or Charleville Musket, as was carried in the times of our nation’s founding. The Founding Fathers never conceived of what is marketed today, and the liars on the Supreme Court who are supposedly interpreting the US Constitution as intended by the drafters would have never allowed the possession and use of such weapons. Just my wandering $.02

  23. Maybe personalized nuclear weapons (PNW) is The Answer and not ‘42’ ;() (Just kidding), but what happens when PNW are bearable?

  24. This is obviously sci-fi now, but sci-fi often runs deep on ET. The question is a typical generalization (in this case to the limit) of a mathematical consideration. Do I think PNW will eventually be real? Yes! Do I think acquisition of PNW needs to be regulated? Yes! And so therefore, I think it is totally reasonable that less destructive bearable arms could be regulated as well.

  25. Great Ben --I have heard these truths from you before , but some things we NEED to keep hearing!
    Make, Protect, Teach are among them!

  26. I am reading Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography now and one phrase he wrote seems consequential to me in helping “we the pack” to cut the Gordian Knot.

    “Hate the Sin, not the Sinner” Gandhi said he practiced.

    In our case, separate views of people from views on issues

    I think the “game” that we are being pushed to play is presented as if we differ on an issue, it is the people that are saying it are evil. It’s simple and of course divisive.
    Perhaps if we simply separated the people from the issue itself we can calm things down. Maybe come to some sort of compromise and solve problems.

    Anyway, I thought at the very least it is a different way of looking at the world and helps me navigate this unruly world

  27. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Finally distilling down my feelings on this, my initial reaction is something like what @rechraum said.

    I have two thoughts beyond just appreciating the beauty of Ben’s writing, which are quite possibly opposed to each other.
    The first is, if this is to be a bottom-up movement, “How do we bring this to the masses?”

    The other is, “If this movement is brought to the masses, how do we ensure that it is not co-opted for another, ‘conflicting’, cause?”.

    Or, is the point that people need to find this on their own? (Not implying that one should not suggest the Pack to those that are receptive.)

    Finally, since I believe comedy will somehow save the world, I love @Victor_K’s PNW comment, thank you for the literal LOL! (Even if it may have not been completely faceitious.)

  28. Tanya,

    I do agree that humor can unite us. It gets us to the same spot that abject humiliation also reaches but in a kinder, gentler and happier way.

    And to your comment on bottom up movement:
    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    -Margret Mead

    Jim, taking a morning break from LARPing.

  29. @bhunt Really enjoyed this note. I’m always impressed how you can read between the lines and grasp a concept or unseen observation that isn’t on the radar of most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  30. Instead of either-or maybe it’s both-and. I get encouragement and community from the Pack and I teach/mentor as an individual.

  31. Thank you Tanya! I’m so glad ET has many people like you who can see a ‘joke’! Of course I’m semi-serious (facetious), just as you surmised, but as may also be true, comedy often reveals some truths, usually hidden in the laughter.

  32. @Victor_K reminded me of an old Mad Magazine cartoon. A man with an artillery piece in his yard with the caption: “Be the only one on your block with a 155MM howitzer, then be the only one on your block!”

  33. I think this is spot on , I will add one more layer —not only are the people on the other side of the issue wrong and evil , they are a threat to democracy. They are a direct threat to the Republic itself. The volume of our political discourse is 10 ALL THE TIME , ON EVERY ISSUE.

    Rusty wrote about it here in a not so referenced note: (I miss Rusty’s notes) ALOT!

    The Elton/Hootie Line - Epsilon Theory

    It amazes me how often this is thrown around in the media , no wonder people are taking up arms.

  34. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I don’t know if that’s point, per se, Tanya, but I do think it’s the most effective way to make all this stick. We’ve been word of mouth from the very beginning, nine years ago. I can’t wait to see what the next nine years bring!

  35. 376 officers. Three hundred seventy six. That’s essentially two companies of soldiers. If that had been three guys they would have stormed in and ended it because otherwise nobody else would. But with what amounted to 80% of a battalion standing around it was a lot easier to think “well someone else here will do it”. Unconscionable.

  36. I feel like this entire thread has all the attention focused on guns, and rightly so because of the obvious tie-in to Uvalde. But I’d challenge all of you critical thinkers to go back and read this article and replace any mentions of police LARPers and their tools (guns), and change them to finance professionals and the tools of their trade. There are -plenty- of LARPers in Wall St. Many of whom are committing egregious acts of fraud and gross negligence while LARPing as fiduciaries.

    Well all know that. We all see that. It’s much less polarized than the gun and police example. There are no real libtards or magats controlled narrative in that space. Just an ishtload of fiduciaries that are getting privately rich creating the next big financial crisis and planning to socialize their losses when they bring it about.

    I think re-reading the article in that light might help dissolve the red/blue scales from our eyes like they once did for a dude in Damascus.

  37. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Yep! I think you could say that the core idea of the Long Now is that conditions are designed to make all of us LARPers just about all of the time in just about every facet of our engagement with our culture.

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