brute update

An irregular newsletter of what Juan-Carlos is doing, thinking, and appreciating. 

Each rivet of an Airstream is (still) put in by hand. That's a good amount of time spent looking in the mirror.

And we're back, after an unexpectedly long delay. Tangibly not much has transpired––although I have gone back and forth entertaining more than a few threads of interest. I'm content with the renewed sense of clarity at the expense of (what appears to be) concrete progress.

So what's actually gone down? I survived another year in the desert. I have the photographs on my website to prove it. Also, I have a website. This was a special burn for me: Heather and I shared it together, it was my first year being involved with an art project, it was my first year as a Black Rock Ranger, and it followed a particularly difficult period of my life. Shout out to Kaitlin, my coach during the preceding months of said strugfest: she's incredible and I can't recommend her and coaching enough.

This burn helped me tune in to some recurring, long neglected interests that I'm beginning to explore more seriously. It remains a fuzzy cloud that touches economics, AI, foreign policy, climate change, electronics, and affordable housing but seems to converge around solar, energy storage, and building shit with my hands; so I'm beginning to take concrete steps towards educating myself along those dimensions. There's so much overlap in these areas (not to mention with Burning Man art and the organization itself) I can't help but be excited at the moment. Yet I'm content with taking time to figure things out and enjoy the journey. In the short term, I'm picking up practical skills with friends of mine who are restoring a vintage trailer on a farm in Monterey. More long term, I'm hoping to embark on a tiny house project of my own... I'm hesitant to share a lot of detail but it will probably involve a simple van conversion to begin with. Let's just say, I'm pretty inspired by the Herlockers.  

To that end, to ease the pressure a bit I'm planning on picking up some software contracts in the new year. I'll eventually get all the details on my website but I'm hoping to work remotely for 2-6 weeks at a time. I have a list of potential clients to reach out to but I'm welcome to new ideas for projects or folks to work with. 

That's all for now. As always, I'd love to hear from you in response to any of the above, below, or beyond!

Take care or at least take drugs. ;)

📖 Poetry

Essential Bukowski. Link

Tell Me by Kim Addonizio (based in Oakland). Published 2013. Link

Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork by Richard Brautigan. Published 1976. PreviewLink

🎵 Music

Love is All by Tallest Man on Earth. Link

Old Pine by Ben Howard. Link

Jolene by Great Caesar. Link

Confused (Acoustic One Take) by Kid Cudi. Link

Flugufrelsarinn by Kronos Quartet. Link

"A beautiful french juggler did this to me." Link

"In the night." Link


Unmute this. Link

Feminism: in conversation with Camille Paglia. Link

Static stretching for couples. Link

Turtles having sex (important if you haven't seen already). Link

How to write an Alt-J song. Link

Hayao Miyazaki - The Essence of Humanity. Link


Jason Ellis. Link

Claudia Fontes. Link

Tobias Tovera. Link

🎧 Podcasts

The Energy Gang - How to Fly a Solar Airplane Around the World. One of the most inspiring conversations I've heard in a long time. Also check out their most recent live episode on the theme "Are we making progress?" Link

Area 45 - Learning from Experience: George P. Shultz is one of only two individuals in U.S. history to have held four federal cabinet posts. He's 97 years old and can remember more faces, names, and stories from his 75 years of public service than I can probably ever expect to meet in my lifetime. He was a child of the Great Depression, an artillery officer in the Marine Corps, a professor of economics at MIT and U Chicago (with his buddy Milton Friedman), the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury under Nixon, and the Secretary of State under Reagan. He's like the old grandfather who always has interesting stories to tell except his stories are about ending the Cold War with the help of Nancy Reagan, ending racial segregation of schools, and abolishing the gold standard. In this interview he goes more in depth on personal relationships, work life balance, and life principles. Link

The Kevin Rose Show - Kevin interviews Michael Pollan author of How to Change Your Mind. Link

Scott Young Podcast - Book Review: The Wizard and the Prophet. Link

Scott Young Podcast - Book Review: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Link

How I Built This - WeWork: Miguel McKelvey. Link

How I Built This - Lululemon Athletica: Chip Wilson. Link

Intelligence Squared - Blockchain: Quantum leap forward or digital snake oil? Great podcast that hosts debates centered on pressing topics. Mostly a London production so added bonus if UK accents get you off. Link

The Knowledge Project - Thinking About Thinking: Shane interviews Tyler Cowen, economics professor and founder of Marginal Revolution. Link

Waking Up - Digital Humanism: Sam interviews Jaron Lanier. Link

Waking Up - The Edge of Humanity: Sam interviews Yuval Noah Harari Link

🐥 Twitter

"Everything old is new again." Link

"Suck my dick and balls I'm working at NASA" Link


Safest level of alcohol consumption is none according to global survey. Link

Book recommendation - Becoming a Supple Leopard. Link

🌡 Climate change

Our models for predicting extreme weather are breaking. Link

Hothouse Earth, here we come. Link

The Courage to be Afraid. Link

Raising My Child in a Doomed World. Link

🤔 Things I've been pondering lately

Did you know that the Economist, Monocle, and Mercer rank cities all over the world every year for overall quality of life based on measures such as safety, sanitation, education, social environment, and housing to name just a few. Turns out that San Francisco–according to Mercer–is the highest city in the U.S. but #30 when ranked globally. Vienna has topped pretty much every list for the past decade. Why the fuck have I never been to Vienna? More seriously, I think the idea of ranking cities is a powerful one and likely to become increasingly relevant as self-driving vehicles and other destabilizing effects of the automation revolution and climate change kick in. Link

Games Worth Playing. Reminiscent of the magnificent book Finite and Infinite GamesLink

How to Retire in Your 30s With $1 Million in the Bank “The rule books our parents have given us is advice that’s perfect for 1970,” Ms. Shen said. “We have to throw out that rule book and write a new one.” Link

Google just gave control over data center cooling to an AI. Link

How Artificial Intelligence Will Reshape the Global Order. Link

A Dream Ended on a Mountain Road: The Cyclists and the ISIS Militants. Link

Tesla, software and disruption. Link

🗞 Other newsletters

Gwern - Independent researcher who shares interesting and penetrative writing on a broad array of topics. Link

Ryan Holiday Reading List - Good reccs here with minimal promotional material. Mostly history, biography, sport, politics, philosophy. Link

Kevin Rose Newsletter - Health. Nerdom. Tech. Minimalism. Link

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Fototropik · 5310 N Pearl St · Ruston, Washington 98407 · USA

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