behold! the optimalists

the optimalist mindset can be difficult to understand sometimes if you're just not built that way. fortunately for us anthropologists studying optimalists (and other miscelleneous gawkers), they are often more than happy to take time out of their busy days being super productive and efficient and rich and stuff to share with us the secrets of their success and give us glimpses of their glamorous lives, perhaps out of some misguided paternalistic or prophetic instinct. maybe they're just bragging, who knows. in any case, lately i've made sure to make a note of any particularly egregious examples i happen to come across on the internet, which i will be collecting on this page.


UPDATE: in the months since i've written this, it seems that BryJo has become significantly higher profile (i hesitate to say "more popular"). i don't know if he suddenly decided he wanted more attention and hired a good publicist or something, or maybe he wanted attention all along and only realized just recently that every tabloid will scramble to write articles about him if he provides them with juicy material, like talking about how his teenage son is his "blood boy", or that he has de-aged his penis by decades and has the nightly erections of hormonal teen (they measured!). i have to respect him at least a little bit though because his x formerly twitter reply game is absolutely untouchable, even the most seasoned trolls tempered by years in the fires of "Hell Site" and so ironically detached that they have ascended (descended?) from this plane of existence cannot get anything to stick to the guy. maybe all those skin treatments really have turned his skin into teflon. anyways, i guess i could update what i've written here with all the outrageous new developments, but now there's a lot more people on the BryJo beat so you can just go read about them in the daily mail or business insider if you're curious. don't forget, though, who covered this before it got big (me).

after selling venmo to paypal for nearly a billion dollars, you end up with a lot of free time (and money!) to dedicate to passion projects like saving the world (through starting futuristic tech companies). but one day, you realize you've been so dedicated to saving the world that you forgot to save... yourself. really, if you're the one who's going to save the world, then saving yourself is basically the same as saving the world. logic along these lines is why i assume bryan johnson has embarked on one of the most ambitious optimalist projects i've ever had the pleasure to stumble upon.

the project has a snappy name ("blueprint"), a whole "team" working on it that johnson constantly references, a massive budget (more than lebron spends on his health annually, so over $1.5 million), and a big claim: according to their scientific measurement process (that they came up with), in just 7 months johnson's body has shaved 5 (epigenetic) years off his 45 chronological ones. to get familiar with blueprint, i watched a half-hour video (most of it at 2x speed) johnson had shot of a "typical blueprint morning". he is shirtless throughout the entire video so that you are constantly aware of how ripped he is (to be fair, if i was in his position i would never wear a shirt either). there is also an absolutely relentless obsession with numbers and measurement. a cut-down version of the video could easily serve as the introductory portion of an american psycho spinoff or spoof entitled "american autist"."in the morning if my face is a little puffy, i'll put on the light therapy helmet while doing my meditation and hrv training. i can do a thousand now."

the video starts with johnson waking up at 5:30 am since nobody who wakes up late has ever amounted to anything (case in point: me). thus begins his four-hour daily morning routine into which he manages to cram almost every possible "healthy" thing you can imagine, both well-known and esoteric but all "evidence-based" and researched by his team, apparently. can you tell which one is bryan's?sometimes this entails doing several at once to fit it all in, like in the beginning where he meditates (something Everyone Knows is Very Good for you) while putting an "hrv training" (whatever that is) band over his stomach, all underneath a "light therapy" dome surrounding his head that looks like it came out of the skymall catalog (rip). then it's time for the pre-workout "concoction", where he dumps approximately 20 different powders into a glass of water in a scene very reminiscent of the "how to make tap water" sketch from "world peace". when the elixir of immortality pre-workout concoction is finally finished, he also uses it to wash down several additional supplement pills.
from the faq on his website
there's not much to say about the actual workout except that the regimen seems to have been designed by his teenage son, in a rare departure from reliance on expert recommendations. however his son is also ripped which is pretty much all the credibility you need when it comes to fitness.

incidentally his son also brings the green goop to school for lunchafter the workout, it's time for breakfast, which is pulled out of the fridge apportioned in neat metal tins and ready to cook. oh yes, he does meal prep too of course. the dish is something called "super veggie", a big blob of green goop that's probably the healthiest thing ever made (although it probably tastes rancid). while it cooks, he goes upstairs and applies enough skin cream to form an impenetrable outer shield to defend himself from the ravages of radiation from the sun and hopefully even time itself. once he returns to the kitchen, he puts the finishing touches on breakfast. recall how a couple years ago there were all those news stories about studies showing how dark chocolate and red wine is good for you? johnson remembers, of course, and shows off a bottle of red wine in his fridge briefly, although he explains that he had to stop drinking it because it was staining his teeth. those bad boys need to be good to go for another hundred years at least, so that won't do at all. luckily they are now working on a supplement that should recreate the effects of drinking red wine. then he makes another, less-involved concoction that is mostly cocoa powder (aha, there's the chocolate!). apparently he has also heard of the research into the longevity of those on the "mediterranean diet", which he attempts to replicate by taking a shot of pure extra virgin olive oil. finally, he sits down to eat everything in front of a big "10000 lux" light therapy lamp, and also attaches some kind of house-arrest ankle monitor -looking thing to his ankle which i guess is special intense light therapy for tendons or joints or something.

while he eats breakfast, there's a fascinating final segment where he discusses the philosophy behind the whole project, which he has been touching on occasionally throughout the whole video. it seems to be primarily based upon a strange modern evolution of mind-body dualism, except in this case the conscious mind is constantly sabotaging the body by always making poor impulsive decisions like eating candy and skipping workouts. in turn these poor decisions end up hurting the mind by impacting the physical brain, which is part of the body. the conscious mind can't be trusted, so the solution is to stop giving your conscious mind control and turn yourself over to a rigid routine, determined only by what your body needs. obviously your body can't actually say what it needs, so that is all decided by evidence-based research and a barrage of medical tests (that is to say, mostly a lot of guesswork). then, as johnson says, now that his routine is established, he just goes through the whole thing without thinking, which according to him is the ideal. this is a common theme among the optimalists, trying to turn yourself into a robot. stop thinking and turn yourself over to the tyranny of the numbers. a new type of faustian bargain, if it actually works.

I'm 32 and spent $200k on biohacking. Became calmer, thinner, extroverted, healthier & happier.

"part of the pills I take every day"my god, this one is incredible. i'm not sure i could even come up with a parody who's in deeper than this guy, a self-described "cliche Silicon Valley techie" who started several successful companies. he has that particular strain of optimalism largely targeted towards living as long as possible. among other things, this manifests in him taking like a hundred pills PER DAY. if anything, that's actually an underestimate. he might be the first man to live to be 1000. the whole article is also cut with delightful boomer memes illustrating his points, including one that just straight up says people are robots. extraordinary.

some standout gems:

People think of medicine as "healing the sick." But actually because who is sick is subjective, medicine can also upgrade healthy people on key dimensions. Simple example: I use nearly-invisible hearing aids despite having ok hearing. They boost my hearing to levels significantly above the average human. This can help formulate better responses in conversation, be more persuasive because you hear voice tones better, and many other things that give the user social advantages over others.

this next one is actually from a related article by the same guy, which is simply too incredible not to include:

Key points: Sex = good for you. Humans = not monogamous. When not in a relationship, I just hire fashion models to have sex with in order to save time on dating and focus on other priorities. Great sex = biochemistry.

I think of sex as something similar to exercise, meditation, or food. Another physiological need to be addressed in a time-efficient way; another tool to enhance health (talking about safe sex obviously) and intelligence. There are many reasons why sex is useful for intelligence:

  • -If we do not get it, we spend a lot of time thinking about it. Pursuing it, watching porn etc. Useless distractions.
  • -Society is sexualized and ties the male ego to having sex. Doing so makes the ego content and easier to control.
  • -Sex leads to favorable hormone profile changes that enhance mood, and reduce stress and even help sleep. Funnily enough I even noticed a very clear correlation between sex and my own deep sleep levels, and anything that improves deep sleep is very valuable.
  • -There is evidence that sex boosts our neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

Getting great sex takes too much time and energy:

-Dating takes a lot of time. Much of that time is wasted. On people who are not a good fit. On idiotic things like swiping on Tinder or going to clubs (screws with sleep). Casual dating = trading our time and energy for sex and reassuring our ego that we are desirable.

How I Eat For Free in NYC Using Python, Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Instagram

everyone thought they would use AI for stuff like self-driving, but as it turns out the real world is (still?) a bit too complicated. so instead, the AI guys let their fearsome power loose on the internet, where at the end of the day you can reduce just about everything to nice friendly numbers that machine learning algorithms can comprehend. in this case, this dude used python automation and machine learning to launch a fully automated instagram account reposting pictures of new york city scraped from other accounts posting pictures of new york (who may or may not be doing the same thing) with a random "call to action" engagement-boosting-type caption selected from a huge list, like "comment if you know where this is!". oh yeah, then 30 hashtags chosen at random from a list of 100 nyc-related hashtags are appended to the end of the post. the point of all this is, of course, to grow the account big enough that he becomes an "influencer" and can convince restaurants to let him eat for free in exchange for "promotion", since as we all know new york is very expensive to live in but has so many delicious restaurants. it really wouldn't have been that hard to contact the restaurants individually, but naturally he automated that part as well. the staggering power of modern technology...

How is Felix Today

it turns out there is a whole "quantified self" community/fandom out there of people absolutely obsessed with tracking and measuring everything about themselves that they can. this guy, using his tech skills and possibly a mild case of autism or ocd, has taken this the furthest out of anyone i've seen and tried to put his "whole life into a database", which you can have a peek at on his website. interestingly, he also seems to work on and write about internet privacy stuff. anyways, if you manage to scroll past everything all the way to the bottom, you'll find this paragraph in the conclusion:

Overall, having spent a significant amount of time building this project, scaling it up to the size it's at now, as well as analysing the data, the main conclusion is that it is not worth building your own solution, and investing this much time. When I first started building this project 3 years ago, I expected to learn way more surprising and interesting facts. There were some, and it's super interesting to look through those graphs, however retrospectively, it did not justify the hundreds of hours I invested in this project.

Is it possible to work 22-hour days? Danielle Steel says it is the secret of her success

danielle steel is probably one of the most prolific modern writers, over the past couple of decades she's apparently crapped out nearly 200 formulaic romance novels, all without the assistance of ghostwriters like the other airport book authors. she is now freaking 71 and still cranking out several books a year, which results in the brutal 20+ hour work days from the title. a description of them from the article:

Steel has given that 20-22 hour figure when describing her "exhausting" process in the past: "I start the book and don't leave my desk until the first draft is finished." She goes from bed, to desk, to bath, to bed, eschewing all contact aside from phone calls with her nine children; "I do not comb my hair for weeks," she says. Meals are brought to her desk, where she types until her fingers swell, her nails often bleed and "every muscle is shrieking".

but i suppose this absurd work ethic has made her a success, at least in terms of raking in cash in the notably-perilous field of writing. her books, however, aren't winning any admiration from critics or other appreciators of literature. no, it seems like the only ones singing her praises are business insider and quartz, marvelling at her wealth and dedication to the grindset.