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Links for July 2022

Things I've recently found interesting

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Dr. Michael Levin on Cell Intelligence

This video is incredible, and I’m shocked I’d never heard of Levin before. He’s a Tufts professor researching morphology—i.e. how do clumps of cells, all carrying the same genome, self-organize into complex structures. He’s working on some crazy moonshot applications, including regrowing human limbs. The “xenobots” he shows off in the video at 1:13:00 are bonkers.


Too often, Westerners think of Buddhism as a blanched philosophy, devoid of the sort of superstition and mythology that we’ve come to associate with the Abrahamic religions. The Wikipedia article on the Buddhist conception of hell serves as a good counterweight, and a reminder that Eastern religions too utilize powerful memes to propagate themselves.

What Louis C.K. Has Really Lost

I have a deep admiration for the self-awareness and candor of Louis C.K.’s comedy, and was shocked by his masturbation scandal—seeing your hero’s dark side can create a huge amount of cognitive dissonance.

In the years that followed, I found myself defending him (though not his actions) in private discussions, and tended to paint him as both villain and victim. I really hoped that in his “comeback” specials he’d address what happened with the candid self-deprecation he’s always brought to his work.

I finally watched pieces of Sincerely, Louis C.K. this week, and was disappointed by the self-centered non-apology we got instead. Lili Loofbourow’s criticism in Slate echoes my feelings perfectly.

JrEg on Levels of Irony

I stumbled into the strange, terrifying rabbit hole that is JrEg’s YouTube channel through a comment on Hacker News. His strange brand of irony epitomizes everything I don’t understand about the Internet-steeped generation currently coming of age. He does a fairly poor job of summarizing his philosophy in this video, but it seems to be one of the few sincere things he’s posted, and for me it contained a key to unlocking the enigma that is 2022 twenty-somethings.

If you want a less audio-visually grating intro to JrEg and his weird brand of neo-humor, this Medium article is a decent place to start.

How Satanism Conquered America

If you can look past the moralizing in this essay by Mary Harrington, it highlights an interesting phenomenon that I’ve been wrestling for a while: as American Christianity became a religion of intolerance, Satan became seen as the good guy, defender of reproductive rights and the dignity of LGBT folks. But a full 180 from Christian to Satanist values—which focus heavily individualism and hedonism—would be deeply destructive.

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