It’s all about energy

The economy runs on energy, far more than it operates on growing debt. Our energy problems don’t appear to be fixable in the near term, such as six months or a year. Instead, the economy seems to be headed for a collapse of its debt bubble. Eventually, we may see a reset of the world financial system leading to fewer interchangeable currencies, far less international trade and falling production of goods and services. Some governments may collapse.

~ Gail Tverberg from,

I’ve been reading, and tagging here on my blog, Tverberg’s commentary for years. I don’t link to these things because I fancy myself Chicken Little. Rather, I link because she has really interesting and insightful things to say about energy.


Deciding is the easy part

So recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use it less. About how to get the benefits from the technology without all the downsides.

~ Ryan Holiday from,

Hey, thanks for deciding to receive this not-so-little email from me each week.

Did you notice how easy it was to decide to get this additional, new interruption? My web site is friendly, the form is friendly, dear Friend all you have to do is put your email in this form . . . But if you decide to leave this weekly email? Well, first you have to have one of the emails in front of you, then scroll down and find the unsubscribe link at the bottom, click that, etc. It’s not much harder than joining, but it is just a little bit harder.

Let’s say you decide—after reading Holiday’s post or this post or that post—to clear the home screen of your phone, (not the lock screen, but the first screen you see after unlocking.) Have you tried to do that? It’s difficult. First you have to manually move those apps, one by one, to other pages… Then you have to keep up with that if your phone throws new apps on that nice clean screen. You have to change how you launch apps; If you simply swipe and find the app, well, that’s going to become a new default habit: Unlock-phone-and-swipe-right will be muscle-memory in a day. To make the blank home-screen useful, you have to also get in the habit of using your phone’s search to launch exactly the app you opened the phone for in the first place. But that is quickly learned by your phone. You have to go in and adjust search settings so that when the search input is blank, it doesn’t suggest the apps you often use. Otherwise the search screen will become just another screen of app icons you’ll tap on via muscle-memory. The phone is designed to try to help, so it’ll feed you a new habit. Then a notification pops up. And you want to disable those, so you have to dive into settings… And get used to telling apps, “no notifications” when they first ask. And then something will break… like suddenly Google Maps can’t use “Siri” so it doesn’t work in Car Play. (Me: “Wait. Wat?”)

It’s not just with fiddly phones. Decide you don’t want to watch Netflix. …but, movie date-night with the spouse is a legit thing we want to do now and then. Decide you want to only own one car. Decide you want to grow some food in a garden. Decide you want to make a few new friends. Decide you don’t want your phone ringing.

My friends, deciding is the easy part. The hard part is doing the really complicated, detail-oriented, 57-step planning, and 2 hours of fiddling, (or days of labor or thousands of dollars in expense,) figuring out how to make the change, how to keep the change in place, and even how to figure out in advance what things depend on the thing you’re deciding to change.



Predicting the behaviour of a sigmoid-like process is not fitting the parameters of a logistic curve. Instead, it’s trying to estimate the strength of the dampening term – a term that might be actually invisible in the initial data.

~ Stuart Armstrong from,

Wait! Don’t flee!

It’s a great explanation of sigmoids—you know what those are, but you [probably] didn’t know they have a general name. People toss up sigmoid curves as explanations and evidence all. the. time.

Ever make that slightly squinting face? The one where you turn your head slightly to one side and look dubiously, literally askance at someone? …that face that says, “you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means.” After you read that little article about sigmoids, you’re going to make that face every time some talking-head tosses up a sigmoid as evidence for a prediction.


Anything of consequence

Creating anything of consequence or magnitude requires deliberate, incremental and consistent work. At the beginning, these efforts might not look like they are amounting to much. But with time, they accumulate and then compound on each other. Whether it’s a book or a business or an anthill or a stalagmite, from humble beginnings come impressive outcomes.

~ Ryan Holiday from,

Sometimes I manage to remember that lesson.

…usually that my remembering happens during my morning routine. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but: I regularly read things which spur the sorts of thinking I’d like to do more of; I spend time writing in, and re-reading, my journals; time reading good-old printed-on-dead-trees books; time thinking about how to create some thing I’m building; lots of thinking and jotting in outlines.

Things take me vastly more time and work than it appears from the outside.


How to refuse

One of life’s great lessons lies in knowing how to refuse, and it is even more important to refuse yourself, both to business and to others. There are certain inessential activities—moths of precious time—and it is worse to busy yourself with the trivial than to do nothing. To be prudent, it isn’t enough not to meddle in other people’s business: You must also keep them from meddling in yours. Don’t belong so much to others that you stop belonging to yourself.

~ Baltasar Gracián


Lifelong learning

Your education shouldn’t end when your schooling does. If you want to get an edge in life, you must be constantly learning, not coasting along on what you already know. Lifelong learning requires the ability to reflect on your mistakes, a lot of reading, and testing what you know.

~ Farnam Street from,

This is one of the too-rare times when, upon reading something, I want to leap to my feet knocking my chair over behind me while shouting, “Hear! Hear!”

It’s true that there is some learning which I prefer to observe, rather than directly experience. In such cases “conceptual” learning, rather than experiential learning, is just fine by me. (eg, )

In general however, ain’t nothing finer than reading something, making a new connection, writing a blog post about that… or spending weeks figuring out how to bend some javascript-DOM-AJAX thing to do what I want… digging in the innards of an automobile to make a new stereo-unit work… digesting some tome from the anti-library… running a year-plus experiment just to see what happens… just generally being all like, “I’m wondering . . .” And then find out where that curiosity leads.

What’ve you been up to in the learning department lately?



Of course, Odysseus isn’t unique. He is us. He’s the human condition in a nutshell. As Blaise Pascal put it, “all of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room.” Because we cannot be happy, because we can’t just be, we waste years of our life.

~ Ryan Holiday from,

Holiday puts forward an interesting theory, (and, in my opinion a correct one,) that Odysseus is a tragic figure. Odysseus is doomed by his inability to see his own fatal flaw.

Given that I can be tenacious when tenacity seems needed… Enduring when endurance seems needed… Focused… I’ve been wondering: Can I be still? Quiescent? Tranquil, even, when those would be appropriate?