Language is a Virus: Mike Pence edition

The bizarro bondage-clown-violinists are from a Laurie Anderson show called “Language is a Virus”, which is a line she got from William S. Burroughs and I am now totally stealing. I doubt that Mike Pence has ever heard of Laurie Anderson, much less William S. Burroughs, but I’d like to think this would be his reaction to seeing bizarro bondage-clown-violinists. Anyway, I thought this was a funny juxtaposition of photos that have no reason to ever be found together in nature, and the Mike Pence reference is just the vehicle for the punch line.

Ditto for this note.

Ditto for this tweet.

I posted this on Twitter (or X or whatever you want to call the platform) the other day, mostly just to see what would happen. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I believe every word that I wrote.

I believe that if a Trump stooge had been Vice President or if Trump stooge lawyers were in senior White House counsel or DOJ positions on January 6th, then a) the election would NOT have been certified, b) Trump would have remained in the White House post-January 20th, c) massive protests against Trump would have broken out in every major American city, and d) Trump and his stooges were fully prepared to use the Insurrection Act to quell those protests.

I believe that Donald Trump and his stooges conspired in a putsch – an attempt to seize political power by illegal and extralegal means – and that a tiny handful of Republican lawyers and officials, most prominently Mike Pence, torpedoed that conspiracy at enormous personal and professional cost.

Now you may disagree with any or all of those statements I just made. And that’s fine! I’m not looking for ‘engagement’ on this. I’m not going to ‘debate’ you on this. I don’t think you’re a bad person or a stupid person if you disagree with me on this. The only reason I’m telling you all this is so that we can now take what I believe about Mike Pence and January 6th and what you believe about Mike Pence and January 6th and we can put ALL OF THAT in a little box waaaay over there for an in-person one-on-one conversation with lots of alcohol at some point in the future. Or not. Not is perfectly fine, too.

I believe every word that I wrote, but that’s not why I wrote it.

This is not a note about Mike Pence.

This is a note about language.

Now speaking of language, you may have noticed the brutal engagement metrics of my original tweet.

This, ladies and gentleman, is a ratioed tweet.

A tweet is ‘ratioed’ when you have more comments than retweets (in my case 3x more comments than retweets), which is a sure sign that the mobs of Elon-world hate your post and feel compelled to inform you that you’re an idiot. I figured that this tweet would be hated by both the MAGA tribe and the Good Leftie Soldier tribe because both tribes despise Mike Pence, and I was not disappointed.

One of these replies is from a Trump true-believer and the other is from a Trump hater, but you’d have to look at their profiles and tweet history to tell.

But again, that’s okay! In fact, it’s extremely helpful that both Team Red and Team Blue agree that I’m an idiot and that Mike Pence is no hero.

Because, once again with feeling, this is not a note about Mike Pence.

Or Donald Trump. Or January 6th. Or any other political person or issue or whatever.

This is a note about how our brains become infected with specific words and grammatical constructions and how these words change the way we SPEAK about and THINK about Mike Pence and Donald Trump and January 6th and any other political person or issue or whatever.

And you can see this in the replies to my tweet.

Not in whether the replies agreed or disagreed with me, but in the linguistic patterns used in the replies.

Here, let’s start with my Democrat-leaning friends.

Words of therapy have infected blue tribe brains.

How does this linguistic infection happen?

On the left it happens through the intentional choice of purposefully vague, therapy-speak words by left-mobilizing political entrepreneurs as they tell you how to think about the world. Not what to think. HOW to think.

Words like enable and empower.

Political entrepreneurs like Mike Madrid, long-time Republican political consultant and co-founder of The Lincoln Project, a grift PAC that has raised more than $100 million from Democrat-leaning voters and funneled the vast majority of that money directly into the co-founders’ affiliated consulting firms.

Mike Madrid is – to use the Epsilon Theory lingo – a raccoon.

And this raccoon took the bait.

This is the opposite of ratioed! More than 11x retweets versus comments, and more than 50x likes versus comments. 4,700 likes! I’ve never gotten that many likes on anything I’ve ever tweeted, and I have more followers (168k vs. 143k).

Mike Madrid’s blue tribe audience LOVES this tweet. Why? Because he gives his audience the words by which they can FEEL GOOD about maintaining their intense dislike of Mike Pence and their even more intense dislike of Donald Trump even in the face of a psychologically jarring event like Mike Pence almost singlehandedly defeating Trump’s putsch, words that are immediately familiar within this tribe as the sort of thing that good, sensitive, right-thinking people say to each other.

Ah, sweet dopamine.

Words like ‘enable’ and ’empower’ nudge listeners with a positive neural reaction to those words into a very specific story arc of HOW to think about Mike Pence’s actions on January 6th. If words like ‘enable’ and ’empower’ sound good to you, then the story of Mike Pence isn’t a political thriller, it’s not a sweeping tale of a brave Constitutional officer of the United States resisting the awesome power of a corrupt Executive branch and saving the Republic. No, the story of Mike Pence is a psychological drama, a very personal story where Pence enabled and empowered Trump, as if the President of the United States were the mean, crazy uncle of the country. Sure, Pence took the knife away from crazy uncle Donald at the last minute, but we were only in danger of being stabbed in the first place because of all those years of enabling and empowering, whatever the hell that means.

It’s a powerful story. We love our psychological dramas!

It’s exactly the same thing on the other side, of course. Just a different sort of powerful story.

The political entrepreneurs of the red tribe don’t use words that nudge you into thinking about January 6th as a psychological drama. No, they absolutely want you to understand these events as a political thriller, as a sweeping tale of a brave Constitutional officer of the United States resisting the awesome power of a corrupt Executive branch and saving the Republic.

But the brave officer in this story is Donald Trump! Mike Pence? He’s either a witting or unwitting stooge of the Deep State / DOJ / FBI that Trump is battling.

Sadly, my original tweet wasn’t picked up by a raccoon political entrepreneur on the MAGA side like it was by Mike Madrid on Team Blue. All the same, you can see the outlines of the linguistic infection I’m talking about here in the wild strain of red tribe replies.

Words of war and conflict have infected red tribe brains.

What’s absolutely fascinating to me about these red tribe replies is that they see the words in my original post – words like insurrection and civil war and riots – and they apply them to a completely different story than I am telling!

The insurrection and riots and civil war I am describing are NOT the events of January 6th.

Everything I am describing in my tweet is what comes after January 6th if Trump had been successful in his putsch to invalidate the Electoral College vote and remain in office. The riots in this tweet are the riots against Trump. The civil war in this tweet is a civil war against Trump. The false claims of insurrection in this tweet are the false claims of insurrection by Trump.

And yet the vast majority of red tribe replies to my tweet read these words and mistakenly understood them as applying to their story of January 6th, where there was no riot on behalf of Trump, where there was no civil conflict called for by Trump, and where false claims of insurrection were made against the Trump supporters who entered the Capitol. They saw the words of war and conflict, and their thinking shunted immediately into an entirely different perception of what was written on the page!

It’s pretty wild, right?

The words that we use change the way we see the world. The words that we use change the way we speak to the world. The words that we use change the way we think.

And I’m pretty sure that’s what William S. Burroughs and Laurie Anderson meant when they said that language is a virus.

But what’s different today, I think, is the scale and scope with which these viral words are arrayed against us, the degree to which political entrepreneurs and raccoons of all sorts and sizes intentionally weaponize these viral words to edit our thoughts into a frame that’s advantageous for their interests. Put that effort together with the ubiquitous always-on dopamine machines that we call smartphones, put that effort together with the willing abdication of our time and attention to social media and ‘content’ … and you have what I think is the greatest threat to human liberty in human history.

Our liberty is not only or even primarily our autonomy of action.

Our most fundamental liberty is our autonomy of mind.

It’s our autonomy of mind that is threatened by this unholy troika of smartphones, social media and linguistic weaponization, and there is no more important struggle today than to defend ourselves against that threat.

How do we do that? Well, let me ask you this:

Do you see yourself in these replies?

Because I sure do!

I’m as infected as any of these repliers. I’m as infected as any of you. But now I can see where the infection is coming from. Now I can make a conscious effort to resist. Now I can make a conscious effort to get better.

And that conscious effort is Epsilon Theory.

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  1. Ha great note and I’m only halfway through!

    that have no reason to ever be found together in nature

    :joy: Definition of art?! Love your selfish motivation for the photo juxtaposition.

    The meta reason why Language is a Virus in this note is that we now have to spend half our time explaining what a thought is NOT about in order to utilize an auto tuned model or narrative. I’ve noticed this a lot lately where the choice of framework immediately compels prejudgements on the part of listeners. I’m sure I do it more often than I notice as well, but I expect it’s a twig in my eye vs a log in others kind of thing.

  2. I am saddened that my reply didn’t make the cut Ben. :expressionless:

    Otherwise, it is an interesting post. But specifically I do wonder if your intention is to point that a therapeutic tone coming from the left is a bad thing? Or do you intentionally leave it as a point of reminder with no leaning?

  3. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    In and of itself, it’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It simply is.

    To the degree it’s an intentionally constructed weaponization of viral language for the economic and political gain of the virus spreaders - which I believe it 100% is - then it’s absolutely a bad thing.

  4. The languages of peace and understanding being weaponised against others for an agenda is truly ironic and truly a bad thing.

    But I’m not surprised that they are finding it effective using psychobabble speak against Trump. Maybe you sit on one side or the other on an issue to Trump (I’m pretty sure I sit opposite in nearly everything), but one thing about near everyone can agree is that Trump is a verifiably a narcissist. Maybe the word “enable” is to trigger the memory of other enablers and narcissists.

    In the same vein, maybe the “civil war” narrative is to trigger the amygdala and the fear response, which again is ironic because in this context the appropriate response in this war is to downplay that there even was a war.

    But in either case, the narrative/language virus is triggering those strong responses by borrowing associated memories with those words.

    Or maybe I’m writing a bunch of bullshit. Who knows?

    Anyway I appreciate the troll on twitter. It’s really the best way to be. Elon in that sense has mastered it the most though probably.

  5. Now I’ve finished it and I think this note is in excellent addition to mogcom for the summer.

    Rusty’s work gave me new awareness of a mode by which memes propagate themselves in the metaverse. This note has done something similar. Seems obvious in hindsight but I don’t think I had appreciated how much the types of words we use signal the viruses that we are infected by at the same time that our adoption of them is a mode which spreads the virus further. And this is our intention in selecting them because it worked for us.

    I assume that the social media algorithms already take this into account in some form. Whatever signal is there in our own words choices would be measurable by something like the fiat index. As I think about it I can’t decide how much I think social media algorithms capture this or if there are some other dimensions to what you are talking about.

    I commented on mogcom about the viruses I realize I’ve been infected with that have most dominated my thinking in life, which have naturally changed and gotten to be a more complex milieu over time. Reading your note I realized how prominently my word choices reflect these infections. The worst one is the Trust the Science virus, or whatever you prefer to call it. Academic, sciency words really do it for me lmao (intentionally done here a time or two for kicks…did you catch it?). Somewhere more distant is still the Charismatic Revival Fury virus. I expect if the algorithm runs on me that it’d find I still like to use religious language. Which others?? :joy: You’ve added another layer to my narrative hypersensitivity! Have to police my own language now for high load viral infections.

    Adding to my first comment on the sense that much caveating is required, you can just feel the difficulty in our minds keeping the topic on the story about the story, and not the story itself. I think this is what you are struggling with on climate change discussions also and…yea that one will be maybe even tougher than Jan 6th to keep the attention on the story about the story.

    I had more thoughts from your note that were epimemetics related but they’ll have to wait. Thanks for the fun and insightful piece.

  6. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Right? It’s literally like fighting a fever.

  7. I’m a little surprised to find that while I thought I leaned a little towards one team on the red/blue spectrum, I’m actually infected by the virus on the other side of the spectrum.

  8. Hi Ben - thanks for the post. Our neural pathways create associations, linking related things or experiences. Those associations can sure act like a virus, contaminating our thoughts with feelings instead of facts. Your post made me think about how I think.

  9. This note is a brief explanation of why ET has held my attention. I was introduced to ET though Narrative and Metaverse Part 1 and have continually experienced ET notes, effectively, as a mirror. I quit my Twitter account 5 weeks ago and my life is significantly better. I’m less irritable with my fiance, I’m less prone to impulsively, and inappropriately, vent about the culture war with friends/family. And I’m more at peace with my emotions, more focused on pursuing my goals. Everything seems to be better. Twitter had a way of infecting my mind with thought patterns, powerfully tied to emotions (primarily of outrage and a false self-righteousness), that I have now come to know as ‘narratives’. Things are trending in the right direction and the wisdom here is much appreciated! :pray:

  10. Having never been much a Twitter user I can’t attest to the infection, but I definitely felt a sense of nauseation with it as soon as I’ve started using it. I think the best way to innoculate yourself to the virus is first always asking yourself why? Even personally ET is a masterclass in that specific thing; it’s not about understanding how but always trying to get at why?

    The how is usually pretty boring and almost always mundane, but the why? If nothing else, is always entertaining. Or sometimes horrifying.

  11. Avatar for kimmel kimmel says:

    Thought-provoking note, thanks. I agree with the premise that language is a virus and that the replies to your tweet support that point. However, I observed a couple other things in those replies:

    1. In both the quoted Team Blue and Team Red replies to your tweet, it seems that you triggered established reflexes rather than thoughts responsive to what you actually said or meant. Blue showed its Pence reflex, and Red its J6 reflex. I don’t think they reflect a full reading of your tweet, let alone the pictured document. You just brushed live nerves. Thus I don’t find your points about how you were misinterpreted particularly potent.

    2. While I see that both sets of replies reflect viral language, I also observe an asymmetry that you didn’t mention: Both sets use viral language/ideas planted by the left. Specifically, the Blue replies adopted “enablement” language (very uniformly), whereas the Red replies attack “insurrection” language (and ideas, less uniformly). I find this an important distinction. Of course, there are many examples of viral language planted by the right, e.g. “steal.” But the left’s talking point and viral language producers seem to be far more effective at controlling their tribe, both in its consistent use of their planted terms and in avoiding its use of the right’s planted terms.

  12. Interesting observation and I think a large part of the response from the right is that they have a varying level of agreement and dissociation with the act of Jan 6. Some deny it happened. Some deny it was bad. Some deny it should have been stopped. Some think it’s still happening.

    In the left’s argument, I think it seems to be self evident that Trump was a narcissist and he had enablers. There is no need to question that narrative and they are happy to be in lock step with it because that’s the unified belief system that was either manufactured or maybe naturally arose.

  13. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:


    The note isn’t about Twitter or Jan 6th or how the right or the left thinks about the issue. The note is about the susceptibility of our minds to narratives, narratives that infect us like viruses.

    I was at the Laurie Anderson show where that picture was taken. She also has a movie called Home of the Brave where she riffs on the same themes. And its not a new thought for the world, this is captured many times over in zen buddhism for example where words are considered distinct and separate from ideas (the whole point of Koans is to make you see words as a trap).

    The most important message to focus on is that we are not immune and just because you ain’t seeing the water in which you swim, don’t mean its not there.

  14. I think the note does a fine job on that and there’s nothing to expand on there. I only thought it would be of interest to discuss the “how” and the homework to be the "why*.

    The water is always there and it’s not going away just because I’m discussing the currents. To miss the forest because of the tree is a shame, to miss the tree because of the forest is also a shame.

  15. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I know exactly what you mean! The therapy-speak words don’t resonate with me at all, and I’m left-leaning (at least relative to financial world and relative to my demographic) on most other things. Probably explains why I’m so uncomfortable in modern left-leaning politics.

  16. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    So true, Joey, and congrats on cutting the dopamine/norepinephrine habit!!

  17. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Huh? The fact that the replies don’t reflect a full reading of my original tweet is the ENTIRE point.

  18. One thing I want to ask though Ben, with the advances in AI and already prior accusations of twitter bots, how much engagement are we certain is a human being? :thinking:

    Is it truly that it’s human being acting like bots, or is it bots acting like human beings on twitter?

  19. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Let’s talk about this on Office Hours today!

    For my content, it’s almost entirely the former.

  20. Avatar for drrms drrms says:

    It sure seems clear to me that that, whatever it was initially meant to be, social media has become something that is optimized for bots - to nudge humans towards behaving like bots and to allow bots to impersonate humans. The built-in incentives for bot-behavior just seem to grow stronger with every passing year.

  21. Living in Australia I don’t always have good timing on these office hours. Is there any recordings I could sparse through?

  22. There is definitely that perverse incentives for likes through the cheap dopamine hits. I counter act this by being acutely aware of my own failings and putting my self in situations or thoughts which makes me actively disliked or appear disagreeable. :joy:

  23. Huh. Rusty’s work gave me new awareness of memes propagating themselves in a meatverse, - charismatics - one with which I was only proximally familiar. Having once attended what became Liberty University I’m much more familiar with (and am recovering from) the narrative thread that arose via Falwell and the Moral Majority. Raccoons all.

    In my estimation the most important additions to modern language are “virtue signalling” and “dog whistle”… Important because they inhabit and describe the polarized narrative space we live in. With a wide range of meatspace friends and acquaintances I moved a bit from being a deliberate bull in their narrative china shop to listening more carefully.

    “…put that effort together with the willing abdication of our time and attention to social media and ‘content’ … and you have what I think is the greatest threat to human liberty in human history.”

    Abdication of our time and attention… indeed. Time to step away.

  24. Kaiser,
    I have also found that asking “why” can be very helpful. And, also, for me, not intuitive.

  25. Avatar for TyB TyB says:

    I think the “enabled” from the left is a reflection of their own election denial that Trump was legitimately elected in 2016. The lie of the 2016 “stolen” election is somehow more acceptable, and stickier, than the lie of the stolen 2020 election.

    “Enabled” justifies condemning and continuing to attack anyone who served in Trump’s administration, as if those individuals were responsible for every lie that freely flowed from Trump’s mouth. There has even been a group that has been trying to disbar any attorney who represents Trump in court. That is a meaningful escalation in the stakes of the game.

    Unfortunately, we may get a repeat of the 2020 election in 2024. Regardless of who wins, and I intend to vote for neither, I want men and women of character willing to represent the nation to the best of their ability. Either Biden or Trump will need a phalanx of men and women of character surrounding them, willing to say “No” (in Biden’s case, simply while trying to cross a stage). “Enabled” is the language of communal guilt, and I have no doubt is coming to Republican’s posts re. the Biden administration, heaven knows there is smoke. Accordingly, I fear that rardless of who the American’s elect, the virus will leave the next administration with less virtue than Americans deserve, and that is bad news indeed.

    p.s. Finally, Ben, your piece makes me feel a little guilty that when Pence comes on TV, I dive for the remote the same way a Labrador retriever goes after a tennis ball. I have always heard/found him a good man; I am grateful for his living up to that reputation for integrity.

  26. This makes me wonder about how much of viral language is constructed versus coopted, or simply used.

    The word constructed projects an image of racoons sitting around a room, like Mad Men copywriters, thinking of the next great tidbit of viral language. But, I suspect that 99%+ of the time their talent lies in simply sensing, intuiting, and discovering (analytically, or otherwise) which viral language trends are already taking place and which aren’t. Perhaps someone like Trump falls into the intuiting camp, and someone like Mike Madrid into the analytic discovery camp (in fact, it’s part of his job description).

    However, once we depart from construction into the less nefarious usage, combined with the assumption of all of us being infected, what then separates us from the raccoons? Is it that they have more money? More social capital? Is it that raccoons are smarter, and they know the sins they are committing, while the rest of us are just viral victims?

    If we limit the definition of raccoons to those who construct narratives, then there is a solid distinction. However, I am often uncomfortable with the image of powers-that-be constructing narratives. Of course, there are the standard wag the dog type narratives that are, indeed, constructed by the political class. But they are rarely so competent. Anyway, in the fast moving world of the zeitgeist troika, construction is an inferior tactic.

    Ben uses another word - weaponization. This fits better into my ‘coopting and usage versus construction’ thread. Initially, weaponization seems to offer a path for differentiation. “Viral language doesn’t kill people, people who use viral language kill people.” But even here, the conflict is not resolved, because we all use viral language (knowingly and unknowingly) and most of us like to win (knowingly and unknowingly). We might not be throwing Twitter bombs, but maybe just family dinner hand-granades.

    In our current world, even pre-troika, how many professions had construction and effective use of viral narratives as a core OKR? Are those professionals raccoons? Is it the case that the troika simply activated our latent raccoon tendencies? In which case, it is highly corruptive but also slightly more egalitarian (how much more or less is difficult to measure) in that raccoonery is no longer the purview of the elite.

    Before the Nudge Fiat, there was the Fiat Fiat — one God, yes WMDs, no WMDs. It was constructed by the elite and consumed by the us, affording us a relative humility and the freedom to bake cookies for our neighbors. Today, with the lines being redrawn, how much of raccoonery is tied to the size of the individual’s megaphone — an amplifier function. One who previously used weaponized viral narratives at home, with wife and kids, in order to get what one wanted, now can do so on a larger stage. Same raccoon or different?

    So, I’m still not sure how to resolve this conflict. I have said things like “we are all x% raccoons” — and I am inclined to stick to this resolution. I suspect this may make many uncomfortable so I welcome a clearer red line differentiation.

  27. It’s interesting that you communicate your view phrasing it in this way.

    It brings to mind a moment in my mid to late twenties when a homosexual male person informed me for the first time about something called the Kinsey Scale (Kinsey scale - Wikipedia) informs us that ‘we are all x% gay’. Much to the disappointment of said homosexual friend, intoxicated as he was, I informed him my [still] clear assertion that I am at zero on his scale.

    This episode occurred more than 1,000 miles away from where I and said homosexual friend grew up as next door neighbors. We grew up together in the 70’s and 80’s in Fredericton, NB when homophobic was not a term, and fag-bashing literally meant people beating up gay people on Saturday night by drunkenly storming their known hang outs and physically assaulting them.

    Three points here: (1) I think you brought up the Kinsey Scale because you are x% racoon, and you’re trying to square this side of yourself with ET grounded philosophy, and there’s no shame in that. You’re among community here, among your Pack. (2) Looking at my own social-demographic cohort, on average the one’s who pursued a raccoon path fared much better financially and socioeconomically than those like me who simply didn’t have the stomach for racoonery. (3) I had originally hoped that this Pack’s actions would include the racoon equivalent of ‘fag-bashing’ as it existed in my childhood day in Fredericton. I would be down for some real racoon-bashing. lol.

    The way I see it is that I could no more be a racoon then I could be a homosexual, simply because that’s not what I am, and I’ve never been a person to have society force me to become something that I’m not. Of all that Ben has talked about and written about, the red-line for racoonery the concepts that I suggest using are Honor and Shame. Raccoons are able to disregard the concepts of honor and shame act with ease, and in our present human social state that is the course offering the greatest reward, and therefore the greatest stability and economic freedom for your family and future descendants. That means that raccoons have the greater adaptive capacity to the present human-social environment. So if you’re a raccoon, or part racoon, good for you and your family and descendants because you sure have opportunities to prosper in this environment. Myself, by nature,

    I’m not comfortable with racoonery and I consciously made that choice as a person and professional years ago, and ever since then I have suffered professionally and financially for that decision. Anybody whose nature led them to make a different decision, no judgement from me, and good for you and your family. I’ll continue with my nature, and with the concepts of Honor and Shame in exactly the context that my ancestors for all their centuries of sacrifices asked me to uphold, because that’s my nature and to my death I’ll face it’s consequences with irrepressible alacrity. And without judgement to those who chose a different path.

    Edit: Underlying all decisions to racoon or to not racoon is the foundational assertion of that human conscious is symbols all the way down, and the symbols and stories you imbibe into your being will make you what you are - raccoon or not - and it’s best to own and operate whatever you are with ease and purpose.

  28. @TyB
    “I dive for the remote the same way a Labrador retriever goes after a tennis ball.”
    My first good laugh today.

  29. Deep, man.

    I started writing a note and it got so scary deep that I questioned whether anyone here would be able to follow it.

    So the simpler version:

    Humans are habitual critters. Every habit takes a conscious thought process and makes it an unconscious action.

    There’s a layer about our habits of thought that should be clarified. How we think absolutely determines what we think, and the language we choose shapes what is possible to consider.

    Our goal, therefore, is clarity of thought.

    That requires a regular practice of that least habitual effort: introspection.

    Both Ben Franklin and St. Ignatius Loyola promoted a 3x/day practice of introspection, of weeding out our reflexive/habitual ways of thinking and acting.

    Which, of course, nearly no-one actually does, because that requires willingness to change, and change is hard.

    Because we’re habitual critters.

  30. Thank you for the thoughtful response.

    To quote a legendary raccoon:

    “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

    I don’t mean this to relativize your response. As much as I may question my own levels of raccoonery, I was really trying to get towards a more stable definition of raccoon. Much like if you and I were to continue discussing this, I would ask you ad nauseam to define “honor” and “shame” and “exactly the context that my ancestors for all their centuries of sacrifices asked me to uphold”. Without that sort of very long (perhaps endlessly Borgesian) discussion, I may struggle to know the difference between the viral meaning of those words, and your meaning of them.

    As a side note on personal responses to raccoonery:

    I’m currently sequestered to our tiny house with my first bout with COVID. This has made for my first opportunity since my son was born (16 months ago) to binge TV shows. Since I don’t watch on my own anything I would enjoy together with my wife on the big screen, I ended up watching this quasi-reality show called Jury Duty — “chronicling the inner workings of an American jury trial through the eyes of juror Ronald Gladden, who doesn’t realize that everyone, except him, is an actor.”

    The show was quite entertaining and funny… and I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that there’s a “reveal” scene at the end, when he finds out the whole thing was fake — after several weeks of living and interacting with these people (the jury was sequestered).

    Anyway, during this reveal I found myself crying, almost sobbing. I’m not much of a cryer, but I do tear up at weddings, funerals, some movies… And in this case, I’m pretty sure I know why I’m crying. I am crying because of the pain associated with the idea of being lied to so profusely for so long. My empathy with this non-actor was very strong (although he himself wasn’t crying and he didn’t seem upset — so it was not an accurate empathy).

    So I went online to find out if I was the only one. And indeed, many others cried, but according to their comments, none cried for my reason. They cried because of the climax of him being hailed a hero.

    This was a show about honor and shame, much of it fake and some of it real. Was it also a show about raccoonery? I guess I thought so.

  31. Thank you Ben,

    @bhunt “It’s exactly the same thing on the other side, of course. Just a different sort of powerful story.

    Our most fundamental liberty is our autonomy of mind.

    It’s our autonomy of mind that is threatened by this unholy troika of smartphones, social media and linguistic weaponization, and there is no more important struggle today than to defend ourselves against that threat.”

    Your original quote had mind and spirit.

    “Our core freedom – our autonomy of mind and spirit – is not granted to us by the State or the Oligarchs. It is not theirs to give. It is not a reward for good behavior or an allocation from a central pot. It is, as Kant writes, our birthright. It has always been our birthright. It cannot be taken away.”

    But we can give it away.
    -Ben Hunt

    Rita Mae Brown said it this way,

    A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.
    -Rita Mae Brown

    Most of us have given this autonomy away a long time ago.

    We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.

  32. 100% agree with you. That’s what I mean that it’s all symbols and stories. All of it. All of mine and yours and everybody else’s on here whether we recognize it or not.

  33. To take that a step further in a little thought exercise, this post of Language is a Virus … conveys a fine example of how everybody’s individual human consciousness can be stimulated to achieve network effects by strategically presenting symbols and stories tailored to the condition of the audience.

    There are two parts to human existence; 1) consciousness, 2) interaction with you environment, most particularly the other ~8 billion conscious people on the planet. Both of these are covered well by ET.

    I think it’s safe to say that all people on this forum, thanks to Ben, Rusty, and all other ET contributors, our the symbols (such as Racoon) and stories (such as Magical Thinking), are among the most well equipped people in our respective societies in terms of symbol and story as a tool for interacting with others.

    Truly, in my view, each individual should be aware or their symbols/stories and guided by their objectives, aided hopefully by the wise principles conveyed by ET.

    But in my opinion, nobody should allow the fear of being labelled a racoon stop them from doing what’s in the best interest of their family, or community. Each person, each of us here on ET, should seek the best ways of enhancing our human consciousness toward achievement of what we individually come to view and decide upon as our ‘purpose of human existence’. (to borrow an E.O. Wilson title phrase)

  34. I think “raccoon” in the personal context could be just be the manifestation with how optimistic your personal self image is. If you perfectly in love with yourself- a narcissist- they would be one more likely to label themselves as not a raccoon. If you perfectly hate yourself- depressed, self hate- you are more likely to label your self as a raccoon.

    The truthful answer probably would not fall in either ends, but the person answering could never be able to evaluate themselves without personal bias.

    So thus I think the answer of where you put yourself on the scale of raccoonery is not important because it’s mostly wrong, but it is however indicative of how positive/negative your self image is.

  35. Nothing like a little “raccoon roadkill” to spice up the Saturday night Jumbaliah!
    Pass the hot sauce and rice, please.

    More on topic, Your framing of the big idea of words came through clearly for me - finally!
    You also played me like a fish! Thanks.

  36. A tweet is to Twitter as a ______ is to X.

    I’m infected with the idea of getting others (except Ben!) to put Twitter/X in the rear view mirror like @joeymoore9324. So…X… as in ex….as in “former”….hmm (insert mind-virus here).

    Dang it, I’m nudging! (used to refer to it as selling an idea). Oh well:

    The above link is another favorite Calvin and Hobbes piece. (For you @Em_Lofgren )

    I accept that posting this is some (small) % raccoonery, but the fun kind (ah, sweet dopamine).

  37. Ed, just to be clear since I probably wasn’t, my use of ‘metaverse’ here is Ben’s ‘living metaverse’. I find this a bit awkward to write out. [Aside: this means to me that ‘living metaverse’ doesn’t have the virality to it that we need to find in order for the new language we create to take up residence in the meatspace metaverses of human brains.] Reminder to those who forgot that Ben has taken a big swing here in the past…the ‘living metaverse’ in his view is an actual living entity composed of memes and language that has a symbiotic (at best) relationship with symbolism-capable consciousnesses such as our own.

    There is some potential of a nasty loop here it seems like. When we make an ‘estimation of the most important’ this is a function of our own living metaverse no different than our choice of language when we speak/write…this estimation might tell you more about yourself Ed than it tells your readers about the polarized narrative space you tried to comment upon!

    I think there is a deeper source than the 2016 election…in my thinking the dominant mind viruses on the left are born from wokeism and the powerful narratives of victimhood and oppression. These narratives lead naturally to the therapeutic language that Ben points out have found fertile ground in the LMs of those on the left.

    I feel confident that in the vast majority of humans, the state of being a racoon required a process rather than being an original sin. And this process is heavily tied to scale as we’ve talked about so much. Racoons are people for whom scale & Moloch got the better of them. Success/power/attention/money…something went well for them and little by little their actions were driven from motivation via ‘clear eyes full hearts’ to motivation via “what do I need to be true”. The potential to be a racoon is in all of us but there is a sure path to avoid becoming one…avoid having ‘what do I need to be true’ become a question of scale. But of course this thinking limits one’s potential impact mightily and I think this is the great conundrum of our times.

  38. I had this shower thought today:

    There are two kinds of dishonesty: empathetic and egocentric (not suggesting that the empathetic one is better). Empathetic is one where a narrative is constructed based on a model of the receiving party – what they think, want, need, etc. Egocentric is constructing a narrative based on one’s own model and pushing it out to others. Both can be effective, but the dynamics underlying them, both internal and interpersonal are very very different.

    I think that “what do I need to be true” fits squarely into the egocentric category. But, generally, there’s more of an innocence (in my opinion) to the egocentric category. Those people often believe their narrative. Empathetic dishonesty I think tends to be more intentional/devious.

  39. Intentionality and knowingly committing sin can be worse. But when the threshold is breached into criminality I’m not usually going to be caring about the exact extent either is wrong, just that they are appropriately penalised.

  40. Excellent article Ben.

    I spend very little time on social media but still see myself as infected. I was talking with a friend today about language and how the meaning of so many words are changing and how those changes affect how we think about things. The example of war you used in an old article is a great example.

    Being a person who spent much time working in the recovery industry, I do know something of enabling and that word is being misused in those posts —the similarity of language is quite staggering——we really are being told what to think. I must also admit, I did think you were referencing Jan 6 in your post.

    You have any penicillin?

  41. The long process of removing the stigma of therapy has, in a vacuum, been an unimpeachable good. The problem is it has lead to the rise of the kind of therapy culture that pervades American society today. It’s as if all at once millions of people were told (and believed) that going to therapy once a week was a substitute for having a personality.

    Annie: Oh, you see an analyst?
    Alvy: Yeah, just for fifteen years.
    Annie: Fifteen years?
    Ally: Yeah, I’m gonna give him one more year, and then I’m goin’ to Lourdes.

  42. I think therapy isn’t necessarily bad, it just gives voice to the inner feelings of most people have trouble voicing. It’s just that when that feelings is voiced, it tends to have more similar linguistic ties. In this case, “enable” is the word that is most associated with what they are feeling. It just means lots of people probably feel similarly this way and due to being exposed to others voicing it a particular way, it all ends up blending together.

    A similar sort of thing from the right was, “critical race theory”, “let’s go Brandon”, “thanks Obama”. It’s kinda funny because everyone seems to wake up one day and choose the same flavour of ice-cream.

  43. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Haha! I wish I did, Lawrence. Constant vigilance and self-questioning is the only thing that works for me, and even then I have good days and bad days!

  44. Kaiser I hope you don’t mind if I pick on you. Here is the strong pull of the story itself. To the degree we started talking about whether ‘therapy is good or bad’ we have lost focus on the story about the story. (I know your comment went beyond this, as I said just picking on you a bit).

    Therapy-related language is a gain-of-function mutation that the Living Metaverse has acquired. It acquired this mutation because the mutation afforded it success in today’s epimemetic environment.

    This claim has essentially nothing to do with therapy itself! This is important because it means that, for example, criticism (like my own above) about WokeismTM and its appropriation and cartoonification of the language of victimhood and oppression will often badly misfire the reader’s own local install of the Living Metaverse IF they forget that we are talking about the story about the story.

    I’ll try out another strong claim. Humans going to therapy is not what led to the rise of therapy culture! Missionaries did that - people who are professionals at iteratively building and distributing a message in order to see what has impact. It’s their job to seek out and employ these gain of function mutations. Cartoonification-at-scale is a Top Down process everywhere and always, not the result of Bottom Up human behaviors.

  45. This is the claim I was really referring to when I stated that it was pretty strong. I think I can define and caveat my way to it being a true statement, but in general I’m not usually sure of much at all lol.

    The abstractions we constantly do in our brains to be able to operate and agree on reality with other beings is definitely reminiscent of cartoonification but it is not cartoonification-at-scale (my careful caveat I added for basically the reason you brought up). Similar to the TM version of things vs the real version. I think true cartoonification is a process that requires the existence of institutions and their missionaries.

  46. Thank you for your breakdown. I don’t mind that you picked on the part of my language that could be interpreted as wanting to explore unintentionally.

    But to clarify, by saying therapy isn’t bad, I wasn’t necessarily saying that @Desperate_Yuppie was saying it. I guess if we were arguing you could say I was strawmanning. But we are not arguing or debating, I was providing additional context so that people do not fall into the trap of thinking therapy is bad.

    Because as you have explained in your post, people fall into the habit of thinking in terms of good and bad and miss the point of the story about the story! In that frame of mind, I applied a counter balance to the story about the story.

    But yes, I could have framed it better. Maybe a better way to discuss my point is that therapy as a virus is apex in finding a host because on some level it speaks to people better than “let’s go Brandon”. Why is that the case?

    If you wanted to think of it like religion, why did the mono gods replace the pantheons? Because the mono gods touch upon the divine a bit more clearly than the pantheonic representation of human nature ever did. Maybe the language of therapy has replaced the older songs of religion and patriotism, red vs blue a bit better in that same vein.

    I guess one of the advantages it has over religion or patriotism is that it targets the individual and is adapt at extricating them from the communal. Which works better in our modern society made up of very individualistic people. Therapy is very good at giving a voice to these individuals. I find none of religion/patriotism/politics is as good anymore. They rely on institutions that have lost the trust of the people. But therapy can still connect with these souls.

    But the language of therapy is expressed in very specific ways. Those ways are effective, but they also narrow and condition the responses from the recipient. You can’t just go to therapy and come out swearing like a sailor, “I’m fucked in the head!”, You have to come out and say, “I’m having some mentally challenging situations now.”

    But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just generally the most appropriate response to promote healing.

    Having said that, I’m still one of the few who would probably like to shout, “I’m fucked in the head!” :wink:

    If nothing else because I see the humour in the shock value of it. Sorry it became a ramble slightly.

  47. For somewhat related discussion of what is happening with language on the left, see Freddie Deboer’s writings about “affirmational ideology.”

    Currently, an inescapable American cultural mode, particularly among the educated, is one of mandatory therapeutic maximalism and an attendant tyranny of affirmation. The therapeutic/affirmational mode assumes

    • Wanting and not getting is disordered and a kind of identity crime

    • Human life is meant to be spent in a ceaseless state of feeling “valid,” which is to say, affirmed and respected and paid attention to and liked; any deviation from this state is pathological and a vestige of injustice

    • Good people spend a great deal of their time categorically and uncritically affirming others - telling friends and strangers alike that their desires are all legitimate, their instincts always correct, their perceptions of their own needs never mistaken or misguided, their self-conception compelling

    • Correspondingly, we should all assume that anyone who is not affirming us is necessarily doing so out of a particular kind of politicized wickedness, that they are likely motivated by racism, sexism, homophobia, or other kinds of bigotry, and if these specific accusations are not plausible, then by simple evil

    • The job of society is to enable every individual to achieve every desire they believe that they’re entitled to, and the fundamental sin of our present order is not poverty or inequality or exploitation but the serial denial of the dreams of some individuals

    • Society writ large has the ability, the right, and the duty to manage the psychiatric health of every individual

    • Psychiatric health entails all elements of a person’s inner life, including basic aspects of the human condition like sadness, shyness, irritation, fear, disappointment, and the various other permutations of unhappiness, all of which are inherently pathological and disordered; there is no such thing as an appropriate negative emotion

    • The ratchet of expanding the number of conditions that are seen as falling under the broad umbrella of mental illness goes only in one direction - we add things to the DSM, we never subtract; the necessary and correct evolution of mental health mores over time is for more and more people to find themselves diagnosed with more and more conditions, and it’s cruel and bigoted to suggest that there is an overdiagnosis problem

    • The actual provisioning of medical care for genuinely pathological mental conditions is and should remain ancillary to the social conversation about mental health, which must instead stay fixated on the task of proscribing behaviors that might result in the psychic unease or unhappiness of anyone, rather than focusing on treating and curing medical conditions

    • Claims of psychiatric need are a special kind of claim which can override the wants and needs of others, and simultaneously, everyone is free to make a claim of psychiatric need at any time; the obvious contradictions and destructive consequences of this combination are not to be explored

    • We do the best for others by affirming what they already believe and validating what they already want; people are happiest and healthiest when they are encouraged to think that vulnerability is more valuable than resilience and that their pain is more beautiful than their strength.

    See also his attempt at coming up with a clear definition of “wokeness”, in which absolutist moral rectitude through use of politically appropriate progressive language is taken as both the means and goal of political engagement. The Emotionalism point is particularly useful for this discussion:

    1. Academic - the terminology of woke politics is an academic terminology, which is unsurprising given its origins in humanities departments of elite universities. Central to woke discourse is the substitution of older and less complicated versions of socially liberal perspectives with more willfully complex academic versions. So civil rights are out, “anti-racism” is in. Community is out, intersectionality is in. Equality is out, equity is in. Homelessness is out, unhousedness is in… This has the advantage of making political engagement available only to a priestly caste that has enjoyed the benefits of elite university education…
    1. Immaterial - woke politics are overwhelmingly concerned with the linguistic, the symbolic, and the emotional to the detriment of the material, the economic, and the real. Woke politics are famously obsessive about language, developing literal language policies that are endlessly long and exacting. Utterances are mined for potential offense with pitiless focus, such that statements that were entirely anodyne a few years ago become unspeakable today. Being politically pure is seen as a matter of speaking correctly rather than of acting morally. The woke fixation on language and symbol makes sense when you realize that the developers of the ideology are almost entirely people whose profession involves the immaterial and the symbolic - professors, writers, reporters, artists, pundits. They retreat to the linguistic because they feel that words are their only source of power. …
    1. Structural in analysis, individual in action - the woke perspective is one that tends to see the world’s problems as structural in nature rather than the product of individual actors or actions. … The fundamental unit of politics is not the masses but the enlightened person, in the social justice mindset, and the enlightened person is one who has attained a state of moral cleanliness, particularly as expressed in language… The only real political project is the struggle against the self; the only real political victory is the mastery of one’s thoughts. The distinction between the effective political actor and the morally hygienic thinker is collapsed. …
    1. Emotionalist - “emotionalist” rather than emotional, meaning not necessarily inappropriately emotional but concerned fundamentally with emotions as the currency of politics. In woke circles, political problems are regularly diagnosed as a matter of the wrong emotions being inspired in someone. Someone feeling “invalid” is no longer an irrelevant matter of personal psychology best left to a therapist but instead a political problem to be solved, and anyone who provoked that feeling is someone who has committed a political crime no matter what the context or pretext. Good political action makes people feel better. To the extent that material victories like feeding the hungry are celebrated, they are celebrated because they inspire good feelings rather than solve corporeal problems. The famous woke antipathy towards the concept of civil liberties and personal freedoms stems from the triumph of emotions; things like rights are no match for the claims of any individual of psychic distress. Economic, legal, and political inequality are all relevant only to the extent that they make people from minority identities sad. The fixation on emotions fits snugly in the assumption of the individual as the basic unit of politics. It also ensures that woke politics assume the possibility of a frictionless universe in which everyone feels good all the time.

    This is from

  48. I love reading all of that but in this particular instance, I think he underestimates the power of linguistic virus. He says the word choices are “immaterial”, but I think ET forum especially understands the power of words and language as a powerful force which can change people’s minds, or at the very least reinforce them to a certain narrative.

    So in this case I think he misses the mark. The reason those words were adapted not solely because it’s so that academics can act like the priest of yore who were the only ones able to read Latin and thus the word of God, it’s because linguistically refining those words seeking an engineered perfection of word choice so that it is “more inclusive” makes it a more effective linguistic virus. If “inflammatory” rhetoric seeks to provoke strong impulsive visceral reaction from people’s world view, (and I’m starting to enjoy & realise how so much of emotive languages are centred around health and homeostasis), then “therapeutic” languages aim to fundamentally change your epigenesis by infecting you.

    The influence “feels” minimal but the impact is profound.

  49. "Rocky didn’t like that
    He said, “I’m gonna get that boy”
    So one day he walked into town
    Booked himself a room in the local saloon

    Rocky Raccoon, checked into his room
    Only to find Gideon’s Bible
    Rocky had come equipped with a gun
    To shoot off the legs of his rival

    Now, the doctor came in stinking of gin
    And proceeded to lie on the table
    He said, “Rocky, you met your match”
    And Rocky said, “Doc, it’s only a scratch
    And I’ll be better, I’ll be better, Doc, as soon as I am able”

    And now Rocky Raccoon, he fell back in his room
    Only to find Gideon’s Bible
    Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
    To help with good Rocky’s revival, oh, ooh, yeah, yeah"

  50. The song is beyond my comprehension. May need handholding in this one. :joy:

  51. My 8th grade teacher, Mr. Morrison, would be so pleased that his teaching efforts have reached ET Forum. This song by the Beatles is based on a poem by Robert W. Service whose work is known to all Canadians, in this case The Shooting of Dan McGrew (The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W. Service | Poetry Foundation) which Mr. Morrison taught us as a sister poem to The Cremation of Sam McGee (The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service | Poetry Foundation). Rocky Racoon was the Beatles pop culture replication (sort of a “racoonization” of Robert Service, depending on how one chooses to look at it.)

    These are the stories from a time when people lived a real life. Stories from another time and place from where we live now. Mr. Morrison, being the genuine hippy spirit and good old lad that he was, wanted us 14 year olds to realize that these stories capture a real time not that long ago when life was what you had right in front of you. Want to own some frontier land? Kill the people on their now and show proof that you did and claim title. The world in which we grew up had even then long become a place where everything is done through petitioning the government, or the courts, and lobbying for by-laws or exemptions to by-laws, etc. As we swim in this water, and develop concepts, perhaps even labels such as “Racoon” it’s important to remember our human identities and the fact that our human nature (collective and individual) is inherited from our forefathers who lived in the real world, where family and community means so much more then it means in our waters today, because we live such a state-dependent and oligarchy-dependent existence.

    It can be argued that what we in ET call Racoon is the manifestation of an adaptive survival strategy that allows the racooning party to thrive in today’s waters (social, political and economic ecosystems). Imo, the clear success of the “Racoon” strategy, whether or not it meets our individual or collective standards for ethical or acceptable behavior, should be respected as producing real tangible results in Rocky Racoon world.

    So it’s important to remember the notion of the real world and the real fact that we all have the opportunity to protect the people and advance the interests that are most important to us by whatever means are available at the time. We owe it to ourselves, our ancestors and our heirs/descendants to keep clear heads during times like the present and not fail to distinguish the real from the conceptual. The concept of “Racoon” is meant to be helpful to us in our assessments and decision making. I certainly hope Ben would agree that it’s not meant to hold rigid laws of what does or does not make one all or part Racoon.

    Edit: Lol. I can still hear Mr. Morrison relentlessly teaching us the proper way to deliver that opening:

    “A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
    The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
    Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
    And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.”

  52. I believe he is using “immaterial” in a different sense. Not immaterial meaning irrelevant, he means something more like “abstract”, “intangible” or “noncorporeal” - that is, since all they know how to do is build, analyze, and manipulate narratives and abstract concepts (rather than solve tangible problems in the real world), they think every political and social issue boils down to matter of how to characterize people and things linguistically. You are right and Deboer would agree - word choice absolutely affects how people think, although the mistake I think woke ideologues would be that they seem to think that correct word choice is in some sense equivalent to political success - which is why their policy efforts and solutions, when they bother to produce any, are incoherent, unworkable or absurd.

    edit: Also to your second point, I wouldn’t disagree with it. But Deboer is not making this description/definition in an ET context, so he is not thinking in terms of how the “virus” propagates. He is merely trying to describe what the term wokeness objectively refers to, since people - the woke in particular - keep claiming it is a meaningless term:

    As I have said many times, I don’t like using the term “woke” myself, not without qualification or quotation marks. It’s too much of a culture war pinball and now deemed too pejorative to be useful. I much, much prefer the term “social justice politics” to refer to the school of politics that is typically referred to as woke, out of a desire to be neutral in terminology. However: there is such a school of politics, it’s absurd that so many people pretend not to know what woke means, and the problem could be easily solved if people who support woke politics would adopt a name for others to use. No to woke, no to identity politics, no to political correctness, fine: PICK SOMETHING. The fact that they steadfastly refuse to do so is a function of their feeling that they shouldn’t have to do politics like everyone else. But they do. And their resistance to doing politics is why, three years after a supposed “reckoning,” nothing has really changed.

    I.e., though one might not like the term “woke”, and not everybody always uses it in exactly the same way, it does in fact refer to distinct ideology with certain characteristics, so people should stop pretending that it doesn’t.

  53. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    This Twitter experiment struck me as being along the same lines as this note (I promise, no apparently pointless survey this time, I got the dumbass award of the week on that one, lol!):

    I’m trying to wrap my mind around quite how this fits into the language/narrative theme, but I have a strong feeling it’s there, the puzzle pieces just haven’t joined yet.

  54. Avatar for Zenzei Zenzei says:

    Not so fast, missy. You got stiff competition on that from me.

  55. Great note as always, Ben. I very much appreciate the self reflection at the end because as I was reading it I thought to myself, “I do that!” and “so do my friends/wife/loved ones!”

    In reality, I’ve noted this exact thing in conversations and life, but not in a fully aware and articulated “we should be more aware of the words we have been taught to use and respond to” kind of way. More like when Neo notices something is off in the first act of The Matrix but can’t/doesn’t acknowledge it.

    Bottom line: you do a superb job of naming the gentle nudges! Keep it up!

  56. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Thank you, Davis! I will.

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