brute update

An irregular newsletter of what JC's doing, thinking, and appreciating. 

Rainier in the distance, overlooking Ruston, Washington

By the time you read this, I will be settled into my new home. Ruston sits on the Puget Sound slightly south of Seattle. It is a beautiful, quiet, and wooded city--an exceptional blend of historic, modern, wild, and inviting. I'm grateful to have a place here as I enter this next chapter of my life.

So much has transpired in the past five years that I am at a loss for where to begin. I graduated from the new stage of adolescence–the American university–dived headlong in the madness of Silicon Valley, and even tried to make the world slightly healthier. Suffice it to say I've been tested, humbled, and tempered along the way.

My chief aim for this newsletter is selfish. The network of friends and extended family I developed in California (and beyond) is every bit as valuable to me as the air I breath (and the wifi at this cafe). I want to nurture, explore, and expand this community in the times ahead. There's so much more available to us, to enjoy and accomplish, in the spaces we inhabit together. I hope this channel serves as a periodic invitation for continued connectedness and mutual support between us.

Since we are all friends here, there is a lot of freaky weird shit we can get into. My goal is to provoke and delight you with this newsletter. Some issues will include small updates as to my philanderings and whereabouts in the form of blurbs (like this). A few issues will include invitations to accompany me on adventures in the intellectual and-or material planes. Almost all will include links to content–books, journalism, essays, poems, podcasts, art, film, music, academic research–all of which I consider especially revealing or unique in some measure. I hope you find yourself occasionally inspired, tickled, and challenged.

The best thing that could come out of this project would be a growth of interactions between us. Please don't hesitate to respond with commentary, thoughts, or recommendations of your own. That would be one of the best ways for us to improve our collective capacity for growth, imagination, and love.

Let's get on with it,

Juan-Carlos Foust

PS: If you're receiving this letter unexpectedly, well, surprise (!) I like you. We might not have corresponded in a while, but that's part of what I'm aiming to rectify here. You can get off this crazy ride, right now, but I hope you stick around.

PPS: I promise to share more substantive updates, photos, and video from my life... soon. I'm just getting warmed up here.

A simple, common sense approach for dieting (and losing weight if that's the goal). Eat like a boxer. Link

🗞 News

Sean Parker is spearheading a project (already passed into law) that offers investors a mega tax break when they invest capital gains into "Opportunity Zones," low-income areas in the United States. Fucking awesome. Link

Interview with Mike Cook, AI researcher and game designer, on OpenAI's Dota bots. Video games are the new litmus test for AI's capabilities, and performance in this area is comparable in significance to the contest in chess between IBM's Deep Blue and Kasparov in 1996 and Google's DeepMind vs Go world champion Lee Sedol in 2016. Many human activities can be readily construed as games so AI's progress in this area is especially revealing, especially when the machine learning algorithms are given virtually no input on how the games work (e.g. rules) before learning to play by competing against themselves in virtual environments. Link

📃 Writing

Esther Dyson, To Carne Ross (in response to Eno's question of what "intellectual machinery" are we lacking). I sincerely agree with Dyson's interest in refocusing our political energy away from the national towards the state and local level. Stewart Brand's 2013 contribution which questions how to responsibly forecast the future in light of the human tendency to prefer fiction over fact is also worth reading. Link

Slow Thought: a manifesto. Link

Beautiful synthesis of ideas around goal setting, cognition, and philosophy of mind. Part essay, part book review. Link

How Silicon Valley Fuels an Informal Caste System Link

Why the Luddites Matter. "The Luddites were not “anti-technology.” They were skilled craft workers who believed that the new machinery being deployed by factory owners would impoverish, disempower, and immiserate them. They were right. They didn’t want “zero technology,” they wanted to feed their families. If they had their way we wouldn’t be living in a world with “no technology,” we’d be living in a world where communities have a say in the technological decisions that will impact them." Link

Francis Fukuyama on the harm and necessity of identity politics. Link

🎧 Podcasts

On Being with Krista Tippet. Link

Where Should We Begin – Esther Perel. Link

One of my favorite podcasts has decided to focus in on the topic of fake news. This is the first episode of the series, in which they attempt to define what fake news is and go into a fascinating discussion of the 1938 radio broadcast of Welles's War of the Worlds. Link

Entertaining and sober conversation on the utility and risks of a United States Space Force. Link

Sam Harris interviews Andrew Yang, 2020 Presidential candidate who is running a platform centered around UBI or what he calls the Freedom Dividend. Link


Kulning – Ancient Swedish herding call. Link

1911 – A Trip through New York City. Link

Can't Help Falling in Love on a Kalimba. Link

Banjo lovers of the world unite. Link

Deep in the heart of Louisiana, people are dressing up like horses and really enjoying themselves. Link 

😲 Cool stuff 

I've gotten into podcasts and audiobooks lately–to the point I prefer being read to than actually reading a fair amount. Voice Dream Reader is a text to speech app that can read the Internet at you. On the whole, impressed with the app and voice quality. Major downside is you have to sync with some other content provider (e.g. pocket) Link

🎵 Music

"Talk to Me" by hip-hop duo, Run the Jewels. Link

Lewis Del Mar. New favorite experimental, alt-rock group; can't get enough of it. Collecting similar tunes on this playlistLink

Vitamin String Quartet. Link 

Evening Ritual. A playlist I use to relax and decompress at the end of the day. Link

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

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