In this week’s episode of “The Gilded Age,” Agnes warns another character that a man who seems nice is actually an “adventurer.”

The meaning is clear enough from context: He’s no good. Watch out.

But I vaguely remembered that “adventurer” had a specific meaning in the Gilded Age, and it’s been bugging me since we watched the show Wednesday night. I finally looked it up on Merriam-Webster this morning, and found this as the second definition of adventurer: “somewhat old-fashioned : one who seeks unmerited wealth or position especially by playing on the credulity or prejudice of others.” Which is, clearly, exactly what Agnes intended to say.

The metaverse already exists, and it is very old

The metaverse has existed since the invention of language and art.

The metaverse is the universe of information the human race has been building for 200,000 years, beginning with the emergence of modern homo sapiens in Africa. Our ancestors began to make drawings by daubing red ochre on cave walls, and probably had language and other modern behavior too. They began to build the metaverse then, an information architecture that exists outside any individual mind, in illustrations or speech that was memorized and shared between people and from one generation to the next.

Writing accelerated the construction of the metaverse, emerging 5,000 years ago and providing a much improved means of preserving and communicating information. Writing started with financial records, records of transactions, and laws and administrative orders by political leaders. That is the principal form of the metaverse today.

Of course, computers accelerated the development of the metaverse even more. You exist both in the real world and the metaverse. The metaverse you is your financial, employment, and criminal history, the records of your interactions with governments and most businesses. If you’re stopped by the police, or try to take out a mortgage, or you need lifesaving medical care that costs as much as a new car or house, your metaverse version is as important to your life as your physical self.

Wars are primarily fought in the metaverse. “Amateurs talk tactics, professionals study logistics” has been attributed to Gen. Omar Bradley. (More quotes about military logistics here) Logistics is the science of getting bullets, uniforms, vehicles, guns, food, shelter, and all other essential equipment from the real echelons to the front, where soldiers can use them. Logistics require a whole lot of record-keeping. Logistics happen in the metaverse. It’s been said that World War II was won with the typewriter.

Those of us who work and socialize primarily through screens, and did so even before Covid, live much of our lives in the metaverse.

The recent talk about the metaverse, with virtual reality and avatars, is just the latest step in a journey that’s been going on for hundreds of thousands of years. Personally, I’m skeptical that people are going to want to live large parts of their lives with their eyes covered by screens. But it doesn’t matter. The metaverse is already here, and it’s nothing new.

“Words That Mean Nothing: Our political discourse is dominated by issues that don’t exist” — Hamilton Nolan

Our political discourse is dominated by terms like “woke,” “cancel culture,” “socialism,” and “critical race theory” that mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean.

This is a great essay, but it’s got one huge problem, which is Nolan says everybody’s doing it. Everybody isn’t doing it — Republicans and MAGAs do it.

On the other hand, yes to this:

… things like poverty and inequality and death and disease and climate change and war can all be easily quantified, defined and debated in a meaningful way. When someone instead spends all their time talking about things that seem undefinable, it is probably because they find reality to be an uncomfortable topic.

I started to write something here about why I have pronouns in my social media profile even though I also think pronouns are bullshit — and make progressives look foolish. But that’s a discussion for another time.