The heaviness of fame and fans

A lot of people, especially younger people who haven’t quite figured out what they’re good at yet, want to be famous and have lots of admiring fans. Me, I’ve been famous, and I still have a lot of admiring fans. I’m here today to talk about why a thoughtful person might want to avoid this, and outline some risk-mitigation strategies if you want or need to play the fame game.

Why now? Let’s just say I’ve had some interactions recently that reminded me of my responsibilities. “With great power comes great responsibility”, and oh, yeah, fame is a kind of power.

For purposes of thinking about fame-as-power, there are two different kinds with two different weights. There’s fame for what you do, and there’s fame for what you are,

The two people I’ve most recently become a fan of are instructive examples. One is a brilliant musician/composer/bandleader named Simon Phillips. I wrote about him in Finding jazz again.

I admire Simon Phillips tremendously for what he does – jazz fusion with a combination of sophistication and drive that I’ve desperately missed since the 1970s/1980s halcyon days of that style. The fact that he seems to be a pleasant, thoughtful, down-to-earth person who I think I’d get along well with is nice but incidental to his appeal. He could be a pretty awful human being and I’d still respect his ability to make interesting music a whole lot.

On the other hand, Jordan B. Peterson is a big thinker, a psychologist and mythographer and synthesist who may be – or at least be becoming – the most important moral critic of our time. But it is not merely the breadth and brilliance of Peterson’s thought that is impressive, it is the personal qualities that shine through in his lectures – a foundation of intellectual courage and humility that underpins his thought. What he is is an important part of the persuasion for what he thinks.

Simon’s what-you-do fame probably doesn’t weigh on him a lot; all he has to do to justify the expectations his fans have is be a workaholic creative genius, which seems to be a role he has learned to occupy as easily as he walks or breathes.

Peterson’s fame probably does weigh on him – because Peterson aims at nothing less than transforming humanity’s understanding of itself, and his effectiveness depends in part on being seen to be worthy to exert moral leadership.

What-you-do fame doesn’t really have to lose sleep wondering about anything larger than its own career. What-you-are fame is heavier, especially when what-you-are represents a kind of aspiration for your fans. If Peterson isn’t a stone sociopath or a delusional nutter (and I’m certain he is neither) part of his response to fame has to have been occasionally losing sleep over the possibility that he might be wrong – an inadvertent Pied Piper leading his fans and possibly civilization in general over a cliff.

I have some what-you-are fame myself, and I’ve lost sleep to that kind of worry. Not often, and not recently – but then my goals aren’t quite as ambitious as Peterson’s, and the community in which I’ve been famous is narrower and more sharply defined than the entire intellectual world Peterson is trying to make over.

Peterson’s tackling a really big problem: why is humanity afflicted by radical evil, and what can we do about that? My own ambitions have been more modest – to fix some things that were broken about software engineering and bootstrap the hacker culture up to being more effective. Yeah, OK, I’d like society to draw some larger libertarian lessons from what I demonstrated, but I don’t stress about that; if I’m right, history will unfold that consequence.

What Peterson and I have in common is the power that comes from having fans and the implicit pressure of having to live up to what our fans expect of us, not just in skill and creativity but in character – which is much more wearing on a person.

When you’re what-you-are famous, a million people might want to be like you when they grow up, or at least follow you around because you’re cool. And man, that pressure can be brutal. Simon Phillips has dodged it, possibly deliberately. I think the musicians who don’t dodge it are at least a large subset of the ones we lose to drugs or suicide.

The difference is, if your fans only expect you to be a brilliant instrumentalist/composer, the pressure is mostly off when you’re not playing. But if what your fans expect of you is to be virtuous and worthy of emulation, a prophet who gives form to their individual and cultural aspirations to become more than they are – you’re never ever off that hot-seat.

You can’t let them down. You can never allow yourself to let them down. Because if you’re Peterson, or even if you’re just me, you know that your prophecy shapes culture – you can all too easily grasp how letting your fans down might be a crime against the future, rippling forward to failures with unimaginably large consequences.

Every parent and teacher feels this a little. Now scale that up by a million! Despite the potentially larger scope of his influence, I may in present time feel this pressure worse than Peterson does; I’ve already done a few things that I’m pretty sure have had historical-scale effects, whereas he may not have yet – or, if he has, he may not yet be sure of the scale and thus not yet fully have the weight on him yet.

If you don’t think you can or want to handle the pressure of all those fan aspirations and the responsibility to the future, you should stay the hell away from what-you-are fame. You might want to stay away from what-you-do fame too, because sometimes it’ll twist on you into the other kind. (More generally, once you reach a certain level in either they do tend to start feeding back into each other.)

That’s close to what happened to me, but not quite. I started with what-you-do fame; to some extent I took on what-you-are-fame as a mission requirement to sell the open-source vision. I knew the risks, and they frightened me considerably, but I accepted them as my duty. I’ll return to that point later on.

I’ve described about one kind of risk, that you might fail those you inspire, and the dread that comes of that. There are at least two others.

If you’re an extrovert with the dopamine/acetylcholine-driven personality of a stand-up comic (think Robin Williams) or a revival speaker, you can actually feed on the energy of crowds. I’m like that, I have that brain chemistry, and it’s like a high – the crowd’s desire for you to be larger than life makes you larger than life, which excites them, and it’s positive-feedback time.

The effect seems to scale with crowd size. People who are really good at working this kind of loop on large crowds can start riots or mass religious conversions. I don’t actually know if I’m that good – my mission never required me to find out. But there have been times, especially addressing crowds of over a thousand people, that I felt like I was close to inducing mob cathexis, and that if I’d pushed harder, I might have done it.

If you have a big ego and a small brain, that would be an exhilarating feeling; for me it was more like ‘frightening’. I don’t feel like anyone (including me), should have that kind of power – it corrupts. The subtler downside that goes with that capability is that it is dangerously easy for people who have it to become adulation addicts.

When I was deciding whether to step up and be Mr. Famous Guy back in ’98, this is the possibility that viscerally frightened me. Rationally perhaps I should have been more worried about failing the future (which made the top of my worry list later on) and maybe about another risk I’ll get to in a bit, but the possibility that I might slide into adulation addiction was what made me sweat and nearly run offstage.

Jordan Peterson probably doesn’t have to worry about that trap – different brain chemistry, insofar as I can judge from a distance. He does have to worry, possibly more than I do, about a third kind of risk.

Every public presentation of the self is a mask that partly expresses your model of your audience’s expectations and partly hides from them your private self. You show them what they want to see and what you want them to see. For people who put a lot of intention into this sort of masking over a long period of time, there’s a risk, subtler than adulation addiction, that your mask will eat your face.

When your mask eats your face, you lose the ability to tell the public myths about yourself from the reality of who you were before people invented them around you. Steve Jobs was a famous case of this.

I’ve written before about haterboys and fanboys. What I didn’t explain then is why people with what-you-are fame find can fanboys irritating. It’s because fanboy behavior is implicitly a demand: never fail me, do the adulation loop with me, be the mask I need to see, walk on the water for me.

At an extreme, you can find yourself surrounded by fanboys and starved for actual friendship – for people who see your feet of clay and like you anyway, people you can drop the mask with. Fortunately, this one of the easiest risks to mitigate.

Which brings us neatly to the general topic of how you avoid these various traps.

The most basic mistake to avoid is having fame as a terminal or near-terminal goal. A Simon Phillips doesn’t become what he is by having a goal of being the world’s most famous drummer, he becomes famous by wanting to be the best drummer in the world.

One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten in the course of being Mr. Famous Guy was from a photographer for People magazine who came to my home to do a spread on me. So we spend almost twelve hours planning shots, doing them…and near the end he said “It’s nice to work with somebody who isn’t a face person.”

I said “Huh? What’s a face person?”

He said “Face people are all those shiny pretty people you see in magazines [‘like People‘ hung there unsaid] who are sort of vaguely famous for being famous.”

And I understood. No. No, I’m not a face person, nor do I want to be. And, oh gentle reader, it is a condition you would be well advised to avoid. Unless, that is, you have a positive craving for the kinds of damage I’ve been writing about. Face people as a group have a reputation for self-destruction, often oscillating between short marriages and drug/alchohol rehab; only some of that is due to tabloid oversampling. They’re vulnerable to the exact extent that achieving and maintaining fame is the only drive of their lives. It hollows them out.

More generally, I strongly advise dodging out of the way of fame unless you have a specific terminal goal other than fame – something you’re about when the crowd isn’t roaring.

You may decide you have a mission requirement to become famous. I did, because it’s hard to talk people into changing their behavior or beliefs if nobody knows you’re there or cares who you are. I felt a duty to succeed at that persuasion.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I have some harm-mitigation strategies to recommend.

One: Hold on to the friends you had before you were famous. They’re anchors. If they’re really friends, they’ll call you on your bullshit.

Two: To avoid being surrounded and isolated by fanboys, do not hang out socially where your fans are. Instead, make friends where peoples’ interactions with you are not heavily distorted by your fame.

I know of two ways to do this. One is a vertical move; hang out with other famous people, not excluding people in the same field or subculture as your fans. The other is horizontal; do your socializing in some community or subculture where your fanboys aren’t.

Actually, the most satisfying horizontal move can be to hang out in an adjacent subculture where enough of your cred leaks through to earn you some status, but not enough of it to induce frequent fanboyism. This is me and competitive strategy gaming or SF fandom. I strongly suspect it’s Linus Torvalds and scuba diving.

Three: you can keep the mask from eating your face by cultivating some ironic distance between yourself and your public persona. When I talk about being “Mr. Famous Guy” as though it’s a kind of hat I put on and take off, this is what I’m doing. You’re supposed to read “Mr. Famous Guy” and think of some vaguely Dr.-Seuss-like cartoon character, or those parodic “Real American Heroes” beer commercials.

Try saying this to yourself in a cheesy TV-announcer voice just before you walk onto a stage: “And now…it’s Mister…Famous…Guy!” If someone overhears you and laughs, you’re doing it right.

Four: Duty is a really excellent brace against the snares of fame and fans; keep yourself reminded of what you owe the future. Make this self-reminder a mental ritual every time you put on your Mr. Famous Guy hat. I think this habit is a particularly good preventative against adulation addiction.

Five: Cultivate Stoic indifference. Believe neither the fanboys when they praise you nor the haterboys when they mock and attack you. Neither kind can see much past its own preconceptions and needs.

Six: You’ll be tempted to find even your non-rabid fans a bit silly for projecting all over you, but don’t despise them for it. Instead, respect the fact that they’re aspiring, trying to improve themselves by mimesis. Try to actually befriend them as equals; that’ll be good for them, and for you.

Finally, a sober warning: if you seek fame and fans, you will know pain. The stresses that often ruin face people will have a go at you, too. You will get scars that are no less real for being intangible. This is not just me – I can see traces of it in the behavior of other people who are or have been famous. I’m not a combat veteran, but I sense among them a similar community of old trauma and mutual knowledge that I’m part of too, and that is very difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there.

So don’t go there unless you know what you want from being famous, have your eyes open, and are ready to pay a high cost. Whatever mission success you’re after can be worth it – it has been for me – but it sure won’t come for free.

103 thoughts on “The heaviness of fame and fans

  1. “Five: Cultivate Stoic indifference. Believe neither the fanboys when they praise you nor the haterboys when they mock and attack you. Neither kind can see much past its own preconceptions and needs.”

    I really like this one. It gels with a conclusion I reached some time ago when I heard a ‘golly you’re smart’ compliment for the 97,423rd time. It dawned on me that I might some day be reasonably famous, and the best way I could avoid having the mask eat my face was to make damn sure my commitment was always to the truth, not to fans or adulation.

    So I’ve striven to not be giddy when someone tells me I’m a genius, nor to worry overmuch on those occasions when someone informs me of how stupid they think I am.

  2. Supposing your ultimate goal is to encourage people to engage with the actual universe as well as possible rather than to engage with their version of your version of the universe, what do you do?

    • >Supposing your ultimate goal is to encourage people to engage with the actual universe as well as possible rather than to engage with their version of your version of the universe, what do you do?

      Try to be as transparent to truth as possible. And live with the high likelihood that you will partially fail.

      • Maxim 70: Failure is not an option – it is mandatory. The option is whether or not to let failure be the last thing you do.

  3. I’ve only recently come across Jordan Peterson myself. Only through youtube though, as I haven’t yet had time to check out his published material. He is second on a list of people, behind Nassim Taleb, whose works I need to spend more time with. They both seem to be at the forefront of pushing back against today’s monolithic academic orthodoxy.

    Regarding “haterboys”, you seem to have at least one mouth-breathing type over at rationalwiki. Ah, the perils of fame.

    • Regarding “haterboys”, you seem to have at least one mouth-breathing type over at rationalwiki. Ah, the perils of fame.

      rationalwiki

      Found the problem.

        • Take your worst stereotype of a religious nutter: speaking in tongues, believes 30 contradictions before breakfast, holy rolling, “miracles” in every sermon, the works.

          Now imagine that person’s stereotype of someone who calls themselves a “rationalist”.

          That is rationalwiki.

          • I’m always suspicious of groups/entities that label themselves in a way that implies some form of qualification.

            And I’m pretty much always right.

  4. All of these with adjustments make for good advice to people with exceptional talent/skills regardless of fame status. Not least because exceptional ability is an on-ramp to fame, if only locally.

    A strategy not mentioned here is simple denial as a form of false or insecure humility. This is a tempting strategy which should never be used as it is brittle; eventually Reality will impinge sufficiently to break through the denial. When this happens it can go well; the person develops an accurate view of what they can do and uses the appropriate levels of arrogance and humility. But it can also fail; the person gets high off of their new found status and sees everyone around them as inferior cretins who are irrelevant.

  5. Or just be an introvert. That’ll keep you out of trouble.

    On a few occasions, I’ve been ON and held small groups of people absolutely rapt for at least a short time. One person later told me, that she never suspected I was so… warm. (Yes, I got the unmistakable sense I had a romantic window of opportunity with her I’d never had before. Shame I was not then, and hadn’t been, interested.) Usually I’m not.

    Thing is, at the time it felt great, powerful, connected, euphoric. And also like I was burning my soul like a candle. It’s really exhausting.

    • It’s the closest thing to a sense of ‘magic’ that I’ve ever experienced.

      I like your “burning my soul like a candle” simile…that resonated :)

    • >Does this reflection relate to a future plan? Are you planning to leverage your fame again?

      No. The only other cause I’m reasonably well-positioned to do that for would be firearms rights, and it has turned out Alan Gura has that covered.

      • I’d love to see a book on programming/designing with security in mind, and you seem well-positioned for such a thing after your rewrite of NTP. It isn’t political, of course, though it could be an entry point to talking about the politics of security after you’re published the book. Ideally the book would focus on C, but in such a way that at least some of the examples could be exported to Python, Ruby, or Java.

        In terms of politics, it would nice to see a Libertarianism that’s focused on the current Russian threat rather than Stalin – The Russian’s may be good oligarchical capitalists, but truth be told, The Russian Bear is still a Russian Bear. Their philosophy has changed but their methodology has not, and I’d love to see that getting addressed. The current Russian system is no more a friend to the American Right than they were to the American Left 40-80 years ago.

        I think you’d be doing the whole U.S. a great favor if you’d update your research on Russian influence operations to take in the present day and publish them. If you started with Gramsci and the Verona papers and took it forward to Russian operations leading up to Trump’s election that would be a very useful history, and it would put the continuing Russian menace into a very sharp perspective. You’ve got the anti-communist credentials to convince the right and the Open Source credentials to convince the left.*

        BTW, have you ever read a Science Fiction book called “The Moon Goddess and the Son?” It goes very deeply into the history of Russia and how they got that way. It was a big help in understanding the enemy.

        * If, by some wild chance you decide to write this history, consult with me. I’ll show you how to make your points about communist influence on the left without alienating people.

        • Jesus Jumping Christ on a pogo stick, get fucking real. The Communist threat to America comes from DC, not Moscow.

          • I didn’t say “Communist.” I said “Russian.” My argument would be that both as Communists and Capitalists the Russians are first, very suspicious of the U.S. and Europe, and second, unchanged in their methods* of attacking the U.S. and Europe.

            * The Russian method essentially comes down to attacking the social and tribal weak points of the U.S. and Europe via financing their allies-of-the-moment. When Russia was Communist, they funded the left, now that they are Capitalists, they fund the far-right.

            • Just to put things in perspective, I’d rather see the book on programming for security. The rest was mainly musing.

              • OK, delete the word “Communist” from my prior comment. The point still stands, beaucoup. It may be just “musing” for you, but for way too many [your choice of epithet] in DC, it’s justification for risking World War III. As for “Russians [being] very suspicious of the U.S. and Europe”, they certainly now (and arguably often in the past – Lenin in Germany ring any bells? Ever heard of a guy name of Bonaparte?) have (or had) far more rational cause to be suspicious than the reverse.

            • If you think the Russians are primarily funding the Far Right in the US, you aren’t paying attention.

              The single largest recipient of Russian money in the US today is the Clinton Foundation, via various means like the Uranium One deal. Their primary funding targets today are the old Democrat machine, who has seen their funding wither in favour of the new Progressive Left.

              They throw some money to the isolationist right, solely to cover the basics, but fundamentally the Russians fear the US right, and especially the US far right because they don’t understand the inherent difference between these groups and their Russian equivalents (the hardline Nationalists, of which Putin actually isn’t a fellow traveller).

        • Ideally the book would focus on C

          Are you mad? Chapter zero of any book on securely programming in C would be “if you care about security, don’t program in C.” Or, to quote Adam Jackson of Red Hat: “C is a terrible language, please stop writing code in it.” There wouldn’t be any further chapters because C is a minefield and the long, long list of CVEs in code written by people following best security practice in C, even to this very day, is proof of that.

          A book on secure code would be better off focusing on Rust, Python, Haskell, Go, possibly Ada, or another “safe” language. Once the basics have been established, perhaps a section (or a really, really long appendix) on legacy C code and all the various gotchas that inhere to the language — such as code which looks to the programmer semantically obvious is capable of doing literally anything because of a hard-to-spot integer overflow or other undefined behavior.

          New systems-level development should take place in Rust. Even Google is using Rust for this purpose now. (Yes, Eric, no select(2) in the standard lib, but neither C nor C++ nor Ada have that either and mission-critical code ships in those every day. If you are worried about the I/O library’s API changing on you, vendor the library in and get on with it.)

          • As much as I might be tempted to agree that C should be replaced, I don’t consider mini-rants like one which seem to amount to, “C is bad m’kay!” to be helpful. I’d rather see attempts to actually understand why people still program in C, especially those who would agree with you that C is Bad. Actually getting Rust and other “safe” languages to meet the needs of those programmers would probably go a lot further.

            To be honest, at some point, you’re going to have to touch the metal directly, and I don’t think it’s possible to be “safe” at that boundary. I’d agree that going for safety every level above is a good idea. but if our “safe” languages are more painful to use at that point than “unsafe” languages like C, you’re going to have a hard time eliminating C.

            Failing to address this, IMO, risks a reaction similar to the one I had as a child when how an adult proclaimed things should be did not match my direct observations of how things actually were: “This person is lying and/or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Therefore, everything they say can and should be disregarded.” Whether it’s children disregarding the direction of adults, or systems programmers disregarding safety advocates, Trouble is invited.

            • >I’d rather see attempts to actually understand why people still program in C, especially those who would agree with you that C is Bad.

              Generally it’s because the volume and ubiquity of C code out there leaves us little choice. I expect to be maintaining C code for the rest of my life, not because I want to but because it’s going to take many decades to move entirely beyond C.

              On the other hand, I doubt I will ever do a clean-slate implementation of an entire program in C again. Take that turning-away seriously because this is 35 years of C experience talking! There wouldn’t be any point in it really – I don’t do hard realtime and between Python and Go I now have languages quite sufficient for pretty much anything else.

              • I have to confess to a sense of having missed something rather important by coming into programming about when those experienced with C are advocating or heralding its twilight. It’s like an opportunity for wisdom, or at the very least, fun, has been lost. “The problems of systems programming have been solved; we’re done making those mistakes now.” Well damnit, I think I would have enjoyed trying to solve those problems or making those same mistakes. At least, I hope I’d be a better programmer for it.

                I suppose if I want to scratch a nostalgic itch for dancing naked with wild pointers while screaming “Cthulhu fhtagn!”, there will be a safe niche for it if I look hard enough. Like retro home brew video games for the Super Nintendo or something.

                • >“The problems of systems programming have been solved; we’re done making those mistakes now.”

                  Oh hell no. What moving to better languages allows us to do is engage those problems at a more interesting level – more about the algorithms, less about low-level resource management.

                  >It’s like an opportunity for wisdom, or at the very least, fun, has been lost.

                  There are people who express that worry every time our tools get better. There are, for example, probably still a handful of diehards who would say you’re not a real real programmer unless you’ve coded assembler.

                  Me? Been there, done that, don’t miss it.

                  There’s too much hard work waiting to get nostalgic about weak tools. I’d rather do interesting things with stronger ones as soon as I can get my hands on them. You’re not going to hear any old-fart “Back in my day…” rambling from this hacker.

                  In sum: I won’t miss C when it’s gone because I’ll be using something better. Until the something better has proven itself. C won’t be gone. Q.E.D.

                  • RE: Assembler:
                    > Me? Been there, done that, don’t miss it.

                    I did it in college. For one semester. I was REALLY bad at it (Fine Art major at the time. There was one business major and 19 EE/CEs).

                    I still think it was HORRIBLE useful to really understand what the processor was doing way down there. I know SQL people–good ones–who basically have no idea how computers work. Met a few Admins (both Windows and Unix) who have no idea how that stuff works.

                  • The key reason why software engineers should write assembly code is so that they develop an understanding of what happens at the machine level. Without that understanding, their ability to debug their own code, spot a bug in a compiler, or troubleshoot performance, concurrency, or power wasting issues are all seriously limited.

                    • >Where could someone go these days to get a class in assembler?

                      Har de har har. No school teaches that anymore. Not in the U.S., anyway; I found one hit in Israel. There’s a Udemy video course.

                      Or you can learn it the way I did back in the 1970s – by reading instruction-set manuals and hacking. That’ll put hair on your chest, boy. *waves cane like the geezer in “Up”* Uphill! Both ways! In the snow!

                    • > Where could someone go these days to get a class in assembler?

                      > Or you can learn it the way I did back in the 1970s – by reading instruction-set manuals and hacking.

                      If you’re not set on x86/x86_64 assembly, I’ll additionally suggest checking out the various homebrew communities for various classic game consoles and the reverse engineering they’ve done. Many of those were programmed in in assembly up until the 5th gen systems (PS1/Saturn/N64).

                      I personally still want to write a C compiler for the SNES, but I already knew that I was weird.

                    • ESR:

                      Virtually any Embedded Systems course will start off with Assembly, especially if it’s focused on small-scale hardware.

                      Did that a few years (2011) ago while doing my B. E..Eng at Ryerson in Toronto (had a little fun, because I learned Assembly on Zilog Z80’s in around 1991 and the HCs12’s had gobs of resources in comparison)

                    • >Virtually any Embedded Systems course will start off with Assembly, especially if it’s focused on small-scale hardware.

                      Sure. What the schools no longer do is teach assembler as part of programming instruction. Nobody learns to build standalone tools in it anymore – it’s all critical sections for OS-level stuff.

              • Dude, “we” are still maintaining freaking COBOL.

                Your (well, my) grandchildren will still be fighting with C.

                • >Dude, “we” are still maintaining freaking COBOL.

                  Point.

                  On the other hand…I think the legacy C codebase won’t persist as long as COBOl’s has. The economic pressures are different, technology turnover in the C world is faster, and the institutional users are less conservative. I think it will go more the way the transition out of assembler did, which really only took 10-15 years.

                  But it’s hard to predict when that clock will start. Is Go good enough? Dunno. Is Rust good enough? Dunno…and don’t expect to know for at least another five years. Go might prove out sooner.

                  • Then a book on secure programming with Rust or Go would be nice, particularly with examples that might roll over to Python, Java, or Ruby once in awhile.

            • To be honest, at some point, you’re going to have to touch the metal directly, and I don’t think it’s possible to be “safe” at that boundary. I’d agree that going for safety every level above is a good idea. but if our “safe” languages are more painful to use at that point than “unsafe” languages like C, you’re going to have a hard time eliminating C.

              Rust lets you write unsafe code in specially marked unsafe blocks. Theoretically you could write a whole OS in unsafe Rust, and still come out ahead of the curve compared to C because Rust defines a lot of the things C leaves undefined.

        • No one in the American Right thinks that Putin is a friend of the USA, Troutwaxer. And the only people in US politics who are known to have acted to Putin’s advantage worked for Obama in high offices – look up the Uranium One deal, and who exactly signed off on it.

          • I don’t want to rathole this thread, but I will note that right now America needs neither a left nor a right, but instead a serious anti-corruption campaign, complete with public hangings very long jail terms. If the campaign finds a couple politicians who have accepted aid from foreign governments, I’m sure we can find nooses cells for them too!

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  7. Wealth by association or wealth by luck/circumstances feel like a different-but-related problem. I’ve heard both of rich recluses and rich people who nobody knows are rich.

    Some run in circles with enough rich people adjacent to them to observe and learn from them or get advice, but from what I see, life changes some others. I’m given to think of people entering into the music industry, shaped by it as they grow older and successful, fed by sycophants and changed by an engine that molds them into something it wants/needs. I’ve read the very rare bits and pieces from artists who “made it out” and it’s given me some notions to understand what’s happens with for superstars, like, say, Michael Jackson. He wouldn’t have been like that in the end without the fame. He was fed and appeased and changed.

    I think it isn’t just power/fame that corrupts, but others surrounding that person who are active participants.

    Anyhow, I’m glad you know about Peterson enough to have watched his lectures. It’s unfortunate he’s already failed in the opening efforts against C-16. If he pushes, he’ll either be actively made un-famous (somehow), or infamous with character assassination. It will be interesting to see ideas he’s explored attached to his person, in an attempt to have them sink with the attempt to sink him.

    Last anyhow, it’s nice to read this sort of content from you. I always like the shamanism.

    • WRT your example of the music industry (and I think the same is true for film & fashion), I often think of these ‘starlets’ as thoroughbred racehorses. Bear with me on this ;)

      These singers/musicians/actors/models have a gift that is valued in a marketplace – be it their voice, good looks or whatever. They are rare in the human population (hence the racehorse analogy) and are recognized for their value by a swarm of enablers.

      These enablers understand that they can profit handsomely from a parasitic relationship with the starlet, yet must do so in a way that convinces the starlet that they are the center of the universe.

      The starlet is kept fenced into a paddock of luxury and adulation, primped and pampered, while being milked of their generated value.

      The enablers continue to siphon wealth until, in the end, the racehorse is drained and only fit for the knacker’s yard.

      Open the paddock gates, and trot in another racehorse, stat!

      • Given that the alternative is to struggle to make ends meet doing what you love, and in the end devote less and less time to your craft and more and more time doing something else to put food on the table, don’t be surprised if virtually every musician or actor you know would opt for the paddock, primping, and pampering if they could — even knowing everything that it entails and knowing that all the accumulated toxicity might send them to an early grave. As they say, half as long, twice as bright.

        • I daresay you are right…but maybe those that are aware enough to make such a conscious choice are the ones best suited to surviving the paddock ?

          • The NFL player who plays out a multi-million dollar contract then quits at 28 – before his knees go – and enjoys his interest payments.

            • Sure. Good example. Good luck to him :)

              I’d also highlight the example of smoking hot exotic/erotic dancers that pull in > 150K and have fine houses, private education for their kids…

              Use it while you’ve got it, bank the coin and GTFO while you’re still healthy.

  8. > I’ve already done a few things that I’m pretty sure have had historical-scale effects

    This should be linked from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandiose_delusions

    Seriously, go see a shrink before it’s too late – this “I’m an elder of this tribe” motto is way too frequent on your blog as of late. Some people just don’t get along with aging when it’s combined with ever increasing number of “Eric who?” questions.

    • Some people just don’t get along with aging when it’s combined with ever increasing number of “Eric who?” questions.

      It’s not quite at “Eric who?” levels in the circles I travel in. More like “Oh, ESR — the guy with the batshit insane politics.” That is the exact phrase I most commonly hear used — “batshit insane”.

      • Everyone in your bubble thinking X doesn’t say much.

        Or perhaps you agree with whatever ramblings JAD spouts because all his friends think the same?

      • While I disagree with Eric a lot, I think “batshit insane” is probably unfair, though he does give that impression sometimes (as I’ve noted more than once.) His real problem is his lack of breadth in reading/observing and a very narrow focus. But he isn’t insane.

        For example, Eric is very clueful regarding the role of Russian Communism in leftwing politics, but in so far as I can tell, he can’t tell you anything about how Cointelpro, Ghandism, Unionism (which was well-underway by the time of the Russian Revolution,) Progressivism, Feminism, various racial liberation movements, or Liberal Christianity affected leftwing politics, and some of them, particularly Cointelpro and Liberal Christianity are HUGE influences. And Eric’s ability to characterize those influences and compare them to how Communism influenced the left… it just isn’t there, but that’s probably something he could educate himself away from.

        The problem is not “insanity” as such, but an extreme narrowness of focus. He isn’t aware of what he doesn’t know, and that makes him look bad when he gets outside of programming and computer issues.

        • His real problem is his lack of breadth in reading/observing and a very narrow focus. But he isn’t insane.

          His views on race, gender, American foreign policy, and the environment all raise dire red “alt-right” flags in myself and nearly every other hacker I know both face to face and online. And, in fact, every time one of these blog posts makes it to Hackernews, there is at least one top-level comment reminding the readership that this is ESR and his politics are “batshit insane”.

          For example, Eric is very clueful regarding the role of Russian Communism in leftwing politics, but in so far as I can tell, he can’t tell you anything about how Cointelpro, Ghandism, Unionism (which was well-underway by the time of the Russian Revolution,) Progressivism, Feminism, various racial liberation movements, or Liberal Christianity affected leftwing politics, and some of them, particularly Cointelpro and Liberal Christianity are HUGE influences.

          Are you a fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels? I am — the way that some people are fans of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. I simply do not understand their popularity given how badly they’re written, with detestable characters and little regard paid to pacing. But in the USA The Big Bang Theory is the #1 sitcom, so go figure. Anyway, ol’ Stieg was a far left winger — even by Swedish standards — and he firmly believed that literal, actual Nazis had insinuated their way into the highest echelons of Swedish society and were secretly pulling the levers of power, all to kill more Jews and rape more women. This informed his writing, both fictional and nonfictional, to the point of being a central theme. Eric is kind of the same way — but instead of Nazis hiding in every corner it’s Communists. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t an element of truth behind either man’s views — but, as you say, it’s far from the whole story.

          • “…there is at least one top-level comment reminding the readership that this is ESR and his politics are “batshit insane” …”

            There’s your clue staring you in the face.

            If your ‘circle’ needs top-level comments to remind them what they should be thinking…you’re probably not in a high-quality group.

          • There’s a huge difference between Stieg and ESR.

            For a short time during the Glasnost period “we” had access to the archives from the former Soviet Union. We *know* they were giving money to the American Communist party.

            We have documentation. We also have people in various institutions, from Bernie Sanders in the Senate to goofballs like Maxine Waters and Sheila Jackson Lee in the house, to VAST numbers of Academentians who either admit to being communist (or socialists, which is communism lite–all you ever wanted in a political movement and less) or who parrot the party line so closely they might as well have marx (or Mao’s) hand up their arses.

            Hell, we have the New York Times writing haigographic paeans to life under communism THIS FUCKING YEAR.

            Oh, and Newsweaks (no, no “sic”) “We’re All Socialists Now” cover.

            There is a LOT more evidence for communist influence in America than there is for any sort of National Socialist takeover of Sweden…At least as far as the killing of Jews and the raping of women. Well, the raping of women part anyway. By white men. Although that could be why they’re importing Arabs–to do the jobs white men don’t want to do any more. Europeans have been putting Jews to death for 100s of years. It was practically a national sport in Spain for a while.

            Anyway, yeah, there’s LOTS of hard evidence of Russian International Communist influence in the US.

            Oh, and as far as bat-shit-insane, ESR believes that having the government run the economy is a bad idea, generally because they are incompetent to do so (among other reasons). You believe that the government should run, or at least control almost every aspect of economic life (which is to say almost every aspect of life).

            Given US, and in fact most governments records of efficiency and integrity, who, in fact, is bat shit insane?

        • And I forgot Judaism.

          And if you want to know how a Liberal gets made, imagine the great-grandfather on the mother’s side. He’s from a Christian tradition that rejected slavery and believed in peace to the point that all of my maternal uncles got draft deferments from WWII. They were also among the first American churches to ordain Blacks and women.

          The great-grandfather on the other side was a Jewish curmudgeon who left Russia because he didn’t want to “get with the pogrom.” He had an American Communist Party card with a three-digit ID number.

          Poltically speaking, my parents lived a life of extreme harmony.

          • So basically you’re from a long line of people who reject the world as it is and rely on others to keep them safe from the people who could kill them.

            Yup. Makes sense.

            • “So basically you’re from a long line of people who reject the world as it is and rely on others to keep them safe from the people who could kill them.”

              Live by the sword, die by the sword. That is what Christians have been taught.

              We cannot fault those on the bottom rungs of the SES to believe that all those guns are not protecting them. Their experience teaches them this message early in life.

              It is rather comical to read here, of all places, that we should take comfort in the government’s armed forces protecting us.

            • My politics are a little different than my great-grandfathers on either side. On the one side, I reject communism.* On the other side, I am willing to go to war, but I have no intention of letting some idiot politician with a nonsensical agenda pick my war for me… there have been three wars in the last century which I regarded as “good” wars. One was small enough that it was clearly going to be over before I could finish training, and other two were before my time.

              * The one thing that made communism tolerable is that it kept the capitalists honest.

    • Has ESR cured cancer? No.

      Has ESR led the human race to peace and prosperity? No.

      Has ESR had a role of significance in shaping a culture that has revolutionized the development of an ecosystem that empowers modern civilization? Hell yeah.

      Sitting on the sidelines being douchey is for the birds.

  9. Knowing that people whose opinions I’ve found valuable find each other valuable makes me feel very good. Especially given JBP works so heavily in religious metaphors with a particularly Christian emphasis. I had reason to fear ESR would reflexively oppose him because of the whole “suffer not a witch to live” thing.

    I think JBP has a better handle on Gramscian Damage than about anyone else I’ve run across, perhaps because he approaches it literally as a psychosis that needs to be treated.

    My biggest concern with him is that he will find himself physically ill due to the insane stress he’s under. (Some videos he made not quite a year ago made me wonder if he were about to lose it.) I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that he feels like he’s trying to single-handedly diagnose and treat millions of sick people, who have been deliberately infected with memetic toxins that are destroying them individually, and threatening to tear apart civilization down and plunge the world into a new Dark Age.

    • >I had reason to fear ESR would reflexively oppose him because of the whole “suffer not a witch to live” thing.

      You haven’t read Peterson’s book; I have. He uses Christian metaphors because he thinks they’re important to understanding the foundations of our culture, but Peterson himself is nowhere near as simple or predictable in his beliefs as that might suggest.

      Peterson is…not a pan-religious mystic exactly, but he is a man on whom profound mystical experience has left a mark. I can hear echoes of it in the way he talks and writes about certain things – I even have a pretty firm idea what cast him into the kind of night from which one only recovers with a mystical breakthrough.

      I think Peterson might be a philosophical atheist, and wouldn’t be surprised to hear him answer the question “What is your religion?” with “Jungian.”. He addresses Buddhism with more than superficial knowledge.

      • My fear was that you wouldn’t have read the book. Anyone who gets that far would get that he isn’t afraid to talk about Egyptian religious stories, etc. as well.

      • Fan of Jordan Peterson and watched many of his vids.

        And yet…… there is something terrifying about him.

        • >And yet…… there is something terrifying about him.

          Of course there is. He has the unsettling charisma of a man who has faced the mysterium tremendum and come back to speak visions.

          I have some of that myself; any mystic who isn’t a fake talking complete shit gets at least a touch of it. (In fact, the trait or its absence is one of the more effective ways to tell the non-fakes from the fakes.) Peterson has it quite a bit more strongly than I do.

      • BTW what are the currently cool books about experimental mysticism, paganism and suchlike? I began digging into Paul Waggener’s “vitki” (Taufr of Awakening) stuff, because it intriguied me that someone with such a power lifting & heavy metal warrior ethos would write about something like that. So far it actually doesn’t look like anything special but maybe I am reading it too superficially or something. I don’t really like the sit around and breathe and visualize stuff at all, I did that too much when I was into Buddhism and it was always too boring to notice anything happening. Frankly I would prefer someone (re)inventing some kind of very dynamic meditation, like dancing in extasy until complete exhaustion. ADHD compatible meditation :) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34743111-vakandibok—a-taufr-of-awakening

        • Sounds like the shamanistic side of things is more your alley. The altered states of consciousness where spiritual experiences happen can be hit from different angles. Instead of the singularity of focus b eing upon the subtle energies on the breath, it can instead be on chant and dance and the energy of a group situation.

          This sort of thing is hard to practice in solitary. You’d likely want to seek a group/coven/lodge/whatever

  10. @esr (popping out of deep nesting) –

    > > Where could someone go these days to get a class in assembler?

    > Har de har har. No school teaches that anymore.

    Au contraire, mon frère! My school (The University of Toledo) teaches a sophmore-level course entitled “Computer Architecture and Organization”, whose curriculum includes “Fundamentals of computer architecture, computer arithmetic, memory systems, interfacing and communication, device subsystems, processor design, cpu organization, assembly programming, performance, distributed models and multiprocessing.” (Emphasis added.)

    Here’s the actual catalog entry. (I don’t know if this is visible off-campus, or to non-members of the Uni.)

    I think this is actually pretty standard stuff for a degree in “Computer Engineering”. Do they teach a useful amount of assembler, or teach it in a way that corresponds to modern software engineering usage? Doubt it.
    (Of course, that last doubt extends to most of the formal curriculum ;-} )

    • >Do they teach a useful amount of assembler, or teach it in a way that corresponds to modern software engineering usage? Doubt it. (Of course, that last doubt extends to most of the formal curriculum ;-} )

      This is why I don’t blame the kids today for being ignorant, with shallow skills – the curricula are designed so very damn badly! The good ones to go on to self-teach; it takes more geezerspite (word I just made up) than I am capable of mustering to blame them for taking 5 or 10 years out of college to get decently skilled.

    • Can confirm here: I got assembler as a minority component of a course for a CE degree, that otherwise included a lot of sticking wires in breadboards. But there was nothing about using it competently to do software engineering with; I had to pull in prior knowledge from higher-level programming stuff.

  11. Popping out…

    Where could someone go these days to get a class in assembler?

    Considering the remarkably consistent anecdotes I’ve heard which all add up to “Most CS students know zilch” I don’t know why you would go to take a class in the first place.

    • Some people learn better when they are given a curriculum and lesson plan, and have someone supervising and grading their work.

      Other people can motivate to learn what they need on their own, from books and/or the web.

      YMMV.

      • >Other people can motivate to learn what they need on their own, from books and/or the web.

        What is this “web” you speak of? Back when *I* was learning my chops, we didn’t have no steenking web.

        Damn few books, either. I’m not kidding about that; the publishing explosion in pop programming titles since the late ’80s makes it difficult to remember how thin on the ground useful material used to be. Back in the day we used to have to read technical manuals when we could get them and do a fuck-ton of inspired guessing when we couldn’t.

        And we crimped plugboards with our teeth, while the machine was running, too! I’ve still got the burn scars on me fookin’ lips!

        As much fun as it is to do a geek take on the Four Yorkshiremen, things are better now. Vastly better hardware – I learned to program on machines way less powerful and with less storage than a Raspberry Pi – and an information-rich environment. In order to use the Web we had to invent it first. Some of us would have killed relatives, back then, for the display technology we have now.

        • Heck, all but the youngest of kids-these-days grew up with machines that underperformed a Raspberry Pi. As far as “less storage”, the Pi doesn’t really have fixed storage (though AFAIK the available OSes all assume you won’t be removing the SD card in operation), so arguably it’s not accurate to say that something like a PDP-10 had less storage than a Pi, but I have an old retrogaming junker in my room that I had to downgrade the HDD on because I wanted to to try out OS/2, which choked on any drive bigger than 8 GiB, which is the smallest SD I’ve put in a Pi.

        • Wait a tick. Colleges don’t offer classes in assembly anymore? Fucking serious? Like I keep hearing about how bad the American education system has gotten but the details are staggeringly horrendous. Virtually no kid takes “industrial arts” in school anymore. When I was a kid it was required. (For you Europeans this is roughly the equivalent of slöjd in Swedish schools. You learned how to make things out of wood, metal, and stuff. Also called “shop class”.) Music and art classes are also frequently on the chopping block. And when I was in college, we needed to take two courses in the basics of CPU architecture and design, the second of which had assembly language programming as a major component, just to graduate with a BS in CS.

          Anyone looking to learn assembly should — absolutely — not start with x86 but with something simple and beautiful like 6502 or 68000 assembly. In addition to game console homebrew, there exist emulators for old Commodore, Apple, and Atari systems using these chips which are good enough to run real programs with remarkable accuracy. Nothing beats actual hardware, of course.

          It’s a shame that these beautiful architectures have faded into memory while the horrendous x86 lives on. Oh well, at least we still have ARM.

          Damn few books, either. I’m not kidding about that; the publishing explosion in pop programming titles since the late ’80s makes it difficult to remember how thin on the ground useful material used to be.

          Your larval phase predates mine considerably, but when I was growing up, in the early 80s, there were plenty of books available from both manufacturers and third parties on how to program the various models of bitty box then available — usually in BASIC or assembly. It was also the era of the magazine “type-in program”. No internet, and certainly no Google, in those days, but sometimes l33t kidz would put text filez with valuable info on a BBS. There were also programming fora on the likes of CompuServe where you could ask questions.

          Things are better now. I think it’s fan-dabby-dozy that I can go to the store and, for $35, pick up a real actual computer that is just about as powerful as a PC from ten years ago. But back in the day, computers — like spaceships — captured the public imagination. So there was incentive to go to great lengths to pore through technical manuals — just for the pleasure of making the wonderful machine do what you want. Today, the vast majority of people who have computers know how to Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram but are flummoxed when it comes to anything about the physical machine in front of them — what it does and how it works. And among those who are not so daunted, we also have people entering the workforce as “developers” but they’ve only ever learned JavaScript — and they wonder why they should have to learn anything else. Gamers seem to be the exception; part of PC gaming lore is knowing how to build your own rig, much like Jedi build their own lightsabers, and people interested in writing games understand that JavaScript can only carry them so far so are at least willing to entertain the likes of C++ and C#.

          • >when I was growing up, in the early 80s, there were plenty of books available from both manufacturers and third parties on how to program the various models of bitty box then available

            I guess there were, at that. But none of those were what people doing serious stuff on TOPS-10 and VMS and Unix on minis and workstations needed. That market stayed underserved until O’Reilly.

          • > Like I keep hearing about how bad the American
            > education system has gotten but the details are
            > staggeringly horrendous. Virtually no kid takes
            > “industrial arts” in school anymore.

            It’s not needed. Everyone is going to go to college, get better educated and get white collar jobs.

            When I was in Jr. High we had a GREAT shop class. In highschool it was a place where kids who needed passing grades when to do nothing for an hour. The teacher was apathetic and did nothing. This school was within (barely) walking distance of the major state university campus.

            > Anyone looking to learn assembly should — absolutely —
            > not start with x86 but with something simple and
            > beautiful like 6502 or 68000

            First off, wimp.

            Secondly x86 is actually useful today.

            > Oh well, at least we still have ARM.

            MIPS isn’t dead yet. Well, not completely.

  12. @ESR don’t worry much, it is not like it is going to happen anytime again with people like you. I have realized a fairly astonishing thing:

    For example, today people who push for trans acceptance get a lot of cred out of it. Like Playboy having a trans PlayMate. But of course the whole thing would not have been possible without some doctors, researchers inventing hormone therapy. Without that all you have is ugly people in drag, not PlayMates. The technological, medical aspect seems very important. The technological, medical aspect, which was invented by “geeks” like you. And just how much cred they are getting out of it?

    The answer is an astonoshing NONE. No one is giving a standing ovation to geeks in white lab coats who made the whole thing possible. The humanities types who merely pushed for its acceptance get ALL the cred.

    How the hell did this happen? This is absolutely not how the 20th century looked like. Take any other cause that is considered socially progressive, like feeding poverty stricken hungry populations of the world. The humanities side was to push for global redistribution. The geek, STEM side was to improve agricultural technologies. And Borlaug, the main geek behind it, got about as much cred out of it as the other side.

    This is seriously weird and I realized it only, like, 10 minutes ago, thinking about the SSC article about how New Atheism lost its popularity, wondering if it is a symptom of a generic cred loss of geeks. Maybe geeks should go back to fixing the physical world, as they are very succesful at that, not society, philosophy or economics, where their ideas seem to often run out of popularity. Then I realized that all this trans stuff is a prime example of geeks ACTUALLY doing that, i.e. made trans people as they know them today possible via hormone therapy, not just people in drag, and nobody is thanking them. And everybody who writes an approving article of a particularly succesful looking example of applying that technology on a person gets a lot of cred for being super progressive and all that. Indeed, the articles are always about the person, their personal struggles and social acceptance and all that. The technology is pretty much just taken for granted. Weird.

    I still don’t really get it why. One thing seems sure, for the time being, few geeks have to worry about getting too popular.

    • Well, as far as I know, doctors largely aren’t risking their lives by either developing or prescribing HRT for trans people. (Or GCS, for that matter.) Whereas the trans people themselves bear a lot of the physical risk involved. For proof, look at Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we remember our sisters and brothers–hundreds per year!–that are murdered for no other crime than being who and what they are. So I think it’s a little understandable that the media focus is on the trans people themselves.

      I’m more fortunate than most; I present well, and I’m surrounded by supportive people and institutions. In fact, I’m probably in the top 0.1% of trans women in that respect. I don’t have the same privilege (and I really, really hate using that word, but there’s really not a better way of expressing it) as, say, Caitlyn Jenner, but our vectors point the same direction, even if mine has a magnitude almost infinitesimal by comparison.

      I have other trans women on Facebook all the time telling me how much I inspire them. I’m not entirely comfortable with that situation, and I suspect that this kind of ties into ESR’s notions of wanting to avoid fame. I didn’t transition to inspire other people; I transitioned, first and foremost, for me, and wanting to be the best woman I can be. If others draw inspiration from that, then that’s their lookout. I tell my story to try and push back the boundaries of ignorance for everyone, because ignorance breeds fear and anger. I may wind up doing as several of my friends have done, writing a book about my transition experience, but the goal would not be to make me famous, but to help the rest of the world learn that we are not to be feared.

  13. I have just trashed several comments that were off-topic for this thread. No more general politics discussion on this one. I will continue doing this, as I am fed up with asking people to stay on topic and being ignored.

  14. Acknowledging my part in taking one thread of this discussion astray, I’d like to get back to the original topic.

    What I’m wondering is what fans are like. As far as I know, I haven’t had any fans. The closest I think I ever came to that is having a little brother.

    When I was coming into and during my adolescence, my brother adored me. I swear, he was trying to be just like his big brother when he grew older, doing the same cool things his brother did, have the same cool toys his brother did, and so on. This, combined with him constantly entering my room to see what I was doing, or trying to get involved in my activities annoyed me to no end. It felt like a constant invasion of privacy, like there was no time to be myself or pursue my own interests. And the constant praise, deserved or not, became grating. And most vexing of all, he continued to adore me despite me constantly being a dick to him to make him go away.

    In hindsight, it probably wasn’t as bad as I thought it was at the time, nor was the constant dickitude the right way to handle it. But we both get along just fine now, so there’s that.

    As far as fans go, I’m imagining they’re like how I perceived my brother when I was younger. Only worse, as it’s not just one person, but a bunch of them?

    • What I’m wondering is what fans are like. As far as I know, I haven’t had any fans. The closest I think I ever came to that is having a little brother.

      Based on my own limited experience, I’d say you’re pretty close. I’ve had workmates say things like “I look forward to learning a lot from you” and while I appreciate the sentiment, it’s made me very uncomfortable because it puts an implicit onus on me to serve as an example for the person, rather than to just get shit done my own way.

      • See, I don’t have that problem.

        I spent my 18th birthday in the Marine Corps, and amoung the lessons on raping, killing babies and general pillaging and burning one thing that they tried to drill into us was that you ALWAYS were an example to those around you.

        Doesn’t take on everyone, but it took on me. Always be passing knowledge around, always be receiving it. Teach up, teach down, and learn from both.

  15. You kids . . . / technical satori true story (hey, at least it’s not politics):

    Once upon a time, I took a college class in assembler. System/360 assembler. For the first assignments, it took me literally dozens of attempts to make them even assemble without errors. It got better, slowly, but with each attempt comprised of presenting a stack of punch cards (What? Speak up, sonny . . . I said punch cards. Go use that newfangled web search thingy and stop interrupting me) to an acolyte behind the glass, waiting for said acolyte to tear the result off the line printer – I said don’t interrupt me – and deliver it to the supplicant’s bin, it was a tedious process, to say the least. Nevertheless, awareness was dawning, gradually. Still, the next to last assignment required a couple tries to get right. The final assignment, an inventory accounting program for a liquor store (things were, in many ways, considerably more relaxed in those days) was about an order of magnitude more complex than any of the prior ones. It assembled and ran perfectly the very first time I submitted it.

  16. From the OP:

    Six: You’ll be tempted to find even your non-rabid fans a bit silly for projecting all over you, but don’t despise them for it. Instead, respect the fact that they’re aspiring, trying to improve themselves by mimesis. Try to actually befriend them as equals; that’ll be good for them, and for you.

    Thanks for understanding us. :-)

  17. When I read this, I think of Ayn Rand, who acquired a coterie of devoted admirers many years younger than she was between The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, led by Nathaniel Branden, who was in effect the high priest of her cult. It did her no good at all. It resulted in her cutting off ties with people her own age whom she respected and who could disagree with her (Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Ludwig von Mises); it left her without critics; and it may well have wrecked her marriage and left her vulnerable to lasting depression. She needed to remember Nietzsche’s warning: “You seek followers? seek zeroes!”

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