the snail shell

about despair

happy month 12 of pandemic to you too

seriously, though: I’m re-forming my relationship to despair, slowly but surely. I think around 22-26 I was restless and bored; 27 was manic so the question didn’t come up, but 28-33 I’ve been more or less orbiting the attractor state of despair. 34, though, I’m out of that orbit! I’m careening all over emotional space. but some recent experiences have left me wondering what my relationship with despair is.

let me define a term. by “despair”, I’m probably not using the right word; the feeling I’m thinking of is more angry. it’s when you start feeling bad about X and respond by saying, well, who cares, X sucks anyway. it feels like a snotty punk rocker, or road rage, or maybe Walt towards the end of Breaking Bad. it’s feeling better never to have been1.

it’s a pretty coherent view of the world! and whenever I was feeling crummy, I could retreat into “well, the world sucks anyway.” problem is, it feels bad. and … maybe it’s not true? like, the world isn’t inherently bad to be in2.

so ok, I think that kind of despair is no longer my default attractor. that rules: it feels hopeful. it also feels like some responsibility: I can’t just say “this sucks and I didn’t ask to be born”; I have to make life worth living.

Sometimes that’s very hard! Sometimes I feel very run down and I’m not sure how this day can be part of a world that doesn’t suck. Or, how can I argue life is generally ok if right now I want to burn down everything in the world?

I don’t know, but my current hypothesis is: you can visit that despair planet and that’s fine and healthy, as long as you don’t get stuck in it. Take your time there, feel everything fully, and then when it’s all out, move on. If you don’t do that, then you’re restraining yourself from feeling feelings, and that rarely ends well.

  1. not saying that author is despairing; maybe he only thinks, not feels, better never to have been. ↩︎

  2. it’s not inherently good either, it’s just two wolves. ↩︎

Blog's Moved

hey friends! This site used to be at but now it’s here!

there’s still a little migration to be done, but I think it’s ready enough to go. please update your links (especially if you use RSS; should work but gosh who knows) and let me know if you have any issues!


this was a medium-large pain. most of the pain was:

more migration details may follow!

my crypto journey so far

First there were the sudokus that you can trade for heroin. So I bought a few tens of dollars worth, not because I wanted heroin, but like, I thought it might be a thing and I was in my techno-optimist days.

Then there was the one with a dog on it that funded a Nascar. So I bought a few tens of dollars of that, and pretty promptly lost it, even though the #1 rule of crypto money is don’t lose it, but y’know. It wasn’t the original heroin sudokus, so no big loss.

Then there was the free money (Stellar Lumens; I don’t even have a cute name for this one). I signed up for Keybase back in the day because I dunno doing PGP things is cool maybe? Keybase is not at all a cryptocurrency thing. Until they decided “we’re gonna give all our users some free Stellar Lumens”, in an attempt to maybe become a cryptocurrency thing. They started sending free money, and then quickly stopped because obviously if you’re sending out free money everyone’s gonna sign up, but I got like $100 before then. And despite the fact that printing money causes inflation, it… then went up to $400? ok man

Around this time I signed up for Coinbase, the company that wants their employees to be “not political” (obligatory reference), and despite such an odious farce of a position I kept my heroin sudokus and my free money in there and at least I don’t forget where I put em. (They also let you answer tedious 30-second quizzes about how Blurpcoin introduces disinstantiated intermediatory trustmongers which you can Stake by exchanging Blurpcoin for Blurptoken. If you do these quizzes they give you $3 in Blurpcoin that you can instantly exchange for *real* fake money like heroin sudokus or nascar dogs.)

But then GME happened and money became a meme again? and I was like, while everyone’s laughing about money being fake, I gotta buy more nascar dogs? So I traded all my other fake money for dog fake money and now I’m reading just absolute nonsense posts in comic sans on r/dogecoin and have already made a couple hundred dollars.

To the moon, my friends.

how does crypto gambling connect to our world more broadly

Some time ago I read the 3-ladder system of social class in the US. I was recently reintroduced to it by the Michael Scott theory of social class, which I think is just a summary of the Gervais Principle. My even shorter summary: in the US there’s the Labor ladder and the Gentry ladder, which we sorta knew (blue-collar vs white-collar), but there’s also the Elite ladder, which is not like the Gentry ladder. Elites value power and money, as opposed to the Gentry who value being cultured, smart, and interesting.

Risking money to make money (in a smart way) feels like an Elite thing. Say someone offered you a bet, once, where you risk $10k for a 52% chance at 20k. I think most Elites would do that, no question. I… probably wouldn’t. I’d be ok if I lost $10k, but losses loom larger than gains. I think “risking lots of money” is probably a skill that you’ve got to develop if you’re on the Elite ladder at all.

And it’s not really valued among Gentry. I can say “ehh I don’t have to Play the Game of gambling money to get rich; that’s just crass materialism” and a lot of my friends will be like “yep” but an Elite would be like “what? no, if you opt out of learning how to risk money smartly, you’re just being dumb.”

I’m kind of fine with this, the Gentry ladder sounds like it leads to a happier life, I’m so glad I’m a Beta, etc. But in the same way that it’s nice to enjoy dancing even if you’re not a dancer, maybe it’s nice to be able to do this skill even if you aren’t gonna do it most of the time. If I lose my hundreds of made-up dollars in stupid cryptocoins, maybe I’m gaining the experience of losing hundreds of dollars.

(also I’m aware how stupid this sounds; watch this post go super-viral and me be the main character on twitter one day :-P

how to buy Dogecoin yourself (if you’re as square as me)

This is still difficult and may take a couple days, so start setting it up if you’re interested. Buying Bitcoin is pretty easy; sign up for Coinbase (they’re big and well known despite their leadership being uh clueless about social impact), verify yourself via a photo of your driver’s license and proof of residence and who knows SSN and whatever else (yes I’m aware this might be hypocritical with the privacy side of me), and then buy Bitcoin.

But they don’t sell Doge, so you have to go elsewhere. A couple options that have worked for me:

1. Kraken seems to mostly work. also seems to mostly work. Both of these are pretty backed up and haven’t verified me enough to buy cryptos with cash.

2. set up a Doge wallet somewhere*, then use Changelly to trade one crypto for another. E.g. buy Bitcoin** on Coinbase, then make an order on Changelly to trade Bitcoin for Dogecoin. Give them your Dogecoin address, send them your Bitcoin, then they will send Dogecoin to your Doge address.

* A “wallet” is basically an account. You can set one up on some websites, like Binance or, or you can keep it yourself by installing a Wallet program on your computer or phone. Don’t use the “official” Dogecoin wallet by langerhans; it is super slow, like takes a day to do a transaction. Coinomi on my Mac seemed to work all right. I don’t know a good phone-based Dogecoin wallet.

I like Binance for now, because if you do keep a wallet on your computer, the money is literally all there; if you uninstall the wallet or reformat your HD or something, your coins are all lost. There are backup ways to get around this, but I’m not used to thinking of money in this way yet***.

** Actually I had better luck using Stellar Lumens for this, weirdly; transactions took minutes instead of hours. Probably other less-popular coins would also be easier.

*** This makes me think of new rituals; we’ve grown accustomed to “forgot password” links and stuff, but like with crypto wallets, there is no “forgot password” link. Somehow we need to make it super clear that “this is a password you better not forget ever.” People are trying this, but it’s hard. (there is more value to rituals than UI ease of use, but that’s a longer topic for another time.)