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July/August Tidbits: Psilocybin, Survival, Starfield

Newsletter - July, August, 2022
Pangas Beach Club near Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Buenos días from Tamarindo, Costa Rica! Our nomading continues abroad this month and then it's to Austin, Texas (not the other Austin), for most of September/October.

Well, right after developing a plan in June to publish a monthly roundup of good internet finds, I missed July. My excuse: We decided to buy a house in Idaho next to the Teton range and that's been fairly time intensive. So, here's a twofer.

Good stuff from the last month (and a half)

  • I made some short vids about the Tetons, Ziplining in Costa Rica, and summiting Mt. Superior.
  • Mormons on mushrooms.
  • The Royal United Services Institute July report on how Ukraine might go on the offensive.
  • From ACX: A very deep thread on this photo of a very heavy supposed Russian general that went viral but turned out to be bogus:
  • Earlier in August I binged the show Alone, of which season 8 is on Netflix. It's addictive because you bond with these random survivalists talking into GoPros like confessionals. As time goes on, you can feel their hunger and suffering build. It gave me so much anxiety on their behalves that I started cheering out loud when contestants found food.
  • Short video from Outside about Bryan Gregson, who photographs the beauty of fly fishing on Henry's Fork, near my new house in Idaho.
  • A strange website dedicated to taxonimizing the artificial world, down to the little plastic things that hold your bread loaf wrappers closed.
  • Generally, I like to stay out of this stuff, but I thought this piece perfectly articulated a set of problems (and some solutions) that I've noticed for years now, but couldn't express very well:
Opinion | The Seven Deadly Sins of Politi-Speak
If we want to bridge political divides, we can start by being mindful of the words we use.
  • I wish I was at this wedding:
  • I've been following the development of a Bethesda game called Starfield. I lock onto very specific types of open-world (open universe?), exploratory titles like this. I'll never forget the acute sense of wonder/terror playing through Elder Scrolls: Skyrim on Xbox in 2011. I've never been as immersed as that in any other game. The level of depth and reward in playing Skyrim is still staggering (and it's 11 years old). I'm a tad late to this video (which dropped early June), but it looks exactly like "Skyrim meets space" which makes me very hopeful:
  • I've been afflicted these past two days with a stomach bug I picked up here in Costa Rica. I go through bouts of fatigue where all I can do is lay down in bed and look at my phone. So, speaking of Bethesda and Skyrim, I started playing Elder Scrolls: Blades on my phone to take my mind off of the intestinal discomfort. I'm not really a mobile gamer, but it's alright! I can't believe how good it looks on my iPhone. But, after a couple hours, the game falls into a kind of predictable rhythm because the quests start to feel similar and a little grindy. It's also, markedly, not open world. Instead, you flip between movement-restricted dungeon levels or your hometown. I called mine Taintstead, in honor of my character, Fecalius Poopius. Last complaint is that there's no ranged combat or sneaking about. But for all this, it's very graphically impressive and does the job of passing sick time well.
  • After climbing the Grand Teton, I'm developing grander visions for my amateur mountaineering career. I've been reading Ed Viesturs' No Shortcuts to the Top along those lines. Viesturs was the first American to climb all 14 8,000 meter peaks and he did so without bottled oxygen on any of 'em! He's also happened to be present for events like the 1996 Everest disaster, to which he dedicates a large section. No Shortcuts is often a gut-wrenching read, and puts high-risk, high-altitude alpinism into perspective. It's easy to think of the summit glories, but all those big mountains are littered with bodies.
  • I like following blogrolls down rabbitholes since it's a good way to expand your known-smart-person constellation on the internet. After a good rabbitholing session the other day, I ended up on the sites of Gwern Branwen (interesting perspectives on psychology, machine learning, etc.) and Alexey Guzey (interesting perspectives on sleep and other topics).