Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.~ Susan Ertz
Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.~ Susan Ertz
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.~ H. L. Mencken
Any sufficiently advanced negligence is indistinguishable from malice.~ Deb Chachra
The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.~ Warren Bennis
Once I learned how to be a good sport, I began to appreciate getting my delusions busted as the target of a well played, real life, condescending Wonka. I’m too often condescending, and being the recipient is potent medicine.
It is to my great pleasure that such a fine example of 18th-century punking is related to typography.~ Martin McClellan from https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/caslon-baskerville-and-franklin-revolutionary-types
Typography is a field which I find intriguing. People spent tremendous time and effort understanding readability and utility of little bits of lead type, printing presses, and optimizing everything. I find it sublime that someone so into type (go read the essay) was so oblivious about something they held so dear. Yes, do tell me more about that typography minutiae.
At which point I began doing that sort of squinting, glancing side to side, I’m feeling suspicious thing. I’m not a typography nerd, but there are a couple other fields where I could probably use a good punk’ing.
In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.~ Bill Watterson
Every day, computers are making people easier to use.~ David Temkin
I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.~ George Carlin
It was the briefest slice of light, a telltale shimmer, that revealed you. It glinted up your thread, running down from the ceiling to the lamp sitting incongruous in the middle of an unpacked living room. Did you stow away in that lamp, riding rough in the back of the moving van, those three long evening hours? I hope you did. You deserve this space as much as we do.~ Peter Welch from, http://stilldrinking.org/to-the-tiny-spider-that-came-with-us-from-brooklyn
I don’t want to say I aspire to write as well as Welch. (I do. Just don’t want to say it.) I stumbled on his stuff pretty late in his writing arc. This piece makes me happy. Go ahead, click, it’s not too long. Perambulate through it. The more you perambulate, the better will be the ending.
…unless you don’t like Welch’s writing. Then
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ move along. Nothing to see here.
Some people are highly motivated. They will curate their information sources and follow whoever provides the most value. That will likely include some independent writers (maybe “good” ones or maybe “bad” ones).
But most people aren’t all that motivated. They just want to get information quickly and go live their lives. So they get their information in three ways:~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/copypasta/
Whenever “the Internet” comes up (including discussion of anything that runs via the Internet, without the Internet itself getting a specific mention) I trot out this handy aphorism: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing us that anything related to the Internet was easy to understand. In this article, the anon-/epon-ymous “Dynomight” goes deep into why the mainstream (read: online media platforms that gets all the traffic) winds up being this solidly middling quality of content. To get there, there’s a deep dive involving tourists finding restaurants and a you-must-not-miss mention of Gell-Mann amnesia.
I first discovered sarcasm as a freshman in college, which I realize makes me a bit of a late bloomer as far as teenagers go. There were certain classmates who seemed to always come across as clever and funny no matter the topic. Over time I noticed there was a simple formula to their contributions and it was pretty easy to mimic.~ Andrew Bosworth from, https://liveboz.substack.com/p/on-sarcasm
One could say (anyone who knows me surely would) that I can be a tad sarcastic. I used to be sarcastic, not just to a fault, but well into the realm of, s’rsly bro’, stahp. Of course I got various amounts of pushback over many years against my being so sarcastic. I received a ton of positive reinforcement in the form of attention, too. Still, no one ever made the point clearly: The sarcasm I was deploying didn’t add anything.
Reading Bosworth’s short piece made wonder: The point he makes is so clear, and yet I never heard it put as such. So how did I move away from being entirely sarcastic (“snarky” to put a fine point on it)? Well, I didn’t move away from it. Over time, with increasing regularity I moved towards engaging creatively with others; Writing, building things with technology, moving in parkour spaces, etc. The more creative I was, the more fun I had while experiencing the virtuous cycle of positive reinforcement from others. I still delight in sarcasm’s occasional use. But now I find [hope? *grins nervously*] that when I use sarcasm it brings some insight.
Every once in a while, when someone finds out that I’m a writer who dabbles in programming, they’ll ask me: So, is programming hard? And I usually answer the same way. “‘Hard’ is the wrong word,” I’ll say. “It’s not so much that it’s hard. “It’s that it’s frustrating.”~ Clive Thompson from, https://levelup.gitconnected.com/programming-isnt-hard-but-it-s-frustrating-6cb740085243
This article is sublime.
Because Thompson isn’t a professional programmer, there are two more parts to programming which he hasn’t discovered: First, that your mistakes inevitably come back to bite you in the ass. Second, you will forever face the engineering dilemma of having to wrestle with balancing good execution (does the bridge carry the weight over the river, or do people die) with project parameters (the budget is $5, it has to be shiny, and we need it next week.)
The soul–sucking frustration which Thompson rightly identifies is very real. Also real: Shit catching fire (literally and/or figuratively) in the wee hours of the morning requiring one to fix one’s own mistakes made, or shortcuts taken, years earlier. After a decade of that, one grows tired of explaining one’s reasons and process (not that anyone would listen.) And after a few decades of all that, one will understand why I sometimes say, as I approach losing my temper: Please do not meddle in the ways of wizards, for we are quick to anger and you are tasty with ketchup. It’s nothing you did; It’s nothing personal. It’s simply that Programming is terrible and it has broken me.
I am an old man, and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.~ Mark Twain
After all, why do you want to marry someone hot? Evolution made you that way because hotness is a proxy for good genetics. Your genes want you to reproduce with someone hot so that you will produce lots of kids (who will have lots of kids). Your parents care who you marry because evolution tuned them to help you reproduce your genes (which are also their genes).~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/hotness/
I truly love when someone does the deep dive trying to figure out “people.” Or dating or marrying or mating… somewhere there’s a popcorn meme. You know, where something is about to happen, and you just know it’s going to be an entertaining train-wreck— wait, why would a train-wreck be entertaining. Let’s go with: …and you just know it’s going to be entertaining to see someone learn just how complicated people are.
Reminder: “Love ya’! You’re one in a million!” …implies there are 8,000 other, equally awesome people that are interchangeable. Although I’d argue you should probably cut that in half based on biological distribution of gender. So, yes, you’re one of 4,000 . . . fine. Fine! I’m heading for the guest room.
That’s not because Rudin did a bad job. It’s because there ain’t no way to re-write mathematical analysis as a “list”. When you do write a list, you are promising that you’ve figured out a way to cover the subject in that way without losing essential detail. Provided that you deliver on that promise, it’s a powerful thing.~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/lists/
Web pages which neglect to include two of the most important pieces of information: Who and When. Yes, all web pages. Thou shalt always list the author. (“Anonymous” is a legitimate answer to, “who?’) Thou shalt always list at least a general composition/publication date. Online, it is already difficult to place things into context. Having a Who and When gives that many more clues to place things into context.
This one’s for Mike, who’s been waiting very patiently after reading about the first time.
At any golf course there are people known as the greenskeepers. There are different roles, and it’s a massive undertaking. There’s one superintendent who oversees everything, with different people working on specialized tasks. There’s one person—or I suppose a team at a really important course—who is responsible for the pins.(more…)
Every obstacle that we normally think of as a problem to be fixed … every “flaw” in ourselves or others that we judge as something to be fixed … what if we can pause, find stillness, and get curious instead of trying to fix?~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/explore/
Any day that Babauta gets me thinking is a good day. (If that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.) I’ve gotten pretty durn good at the “pause”, and the “find stillness”, parts. I also believe I have the “wait but why” curiosity bit figured out, since it has always been with me. It’s that “trying to fix” part upon which I’m perpetually stuck. And I get “particularly stuck”— “particularly stuck” aren’t the right words… if I could find the right words or word, I would use it instead. “Ensnared” is close. Or, have you ever gotten caught by a single thorn while out walking or hiking? That one thorn isn’t going to do too much damage if you stop quickly. In an instant, that one thorn becomes the laser focus of all of my attention. I really feel like I should be able to find the right word to fix that sentence.
Well, that’s curious.
A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start it, but to end it requires considerable skill.~ Lord Mancroft
Conversations are difficult to end well. I’ve spent considerable time thinking about how to end them, and talking to people about how to end them. (I am aware it’s awfully meta to have conversations with people about how to end conversations.) As with anything (making toast for example), it’s good to first figure out common ways to horribly muck it up (try burning the toast), and learning to consistently not muck it up.
Here are three ways to muck up a conversation so as to avoid having a good ending.
First: Drag the conversation on until your conversation partner is exhausted. One might think it could make for a good ending—just the sheer relief of it ending! But alas (poor Yorick), it’s just an ending and not a good one.
Second: Get the last word in. If you’re the host (of the podcast, the dinner party, etc.), insisting on being the last one to touch the conversation baton is guaranteed to make a bad ending.
Third: If it’s going well, always keep going. That way, you only end when it’s not going well. In other words: Actively choose a bad place to end.
Never use a long word where a diminutive one would suffice. When you want to keep a story moving don’t spend a lot of time going on circuitous side trips when you could instead proceed directly to the most interesting, active parts. Like that time I was in the Antarctic with Ernie and we had to abandon the Endurance to the ice, it’s important to use good visuals to make your point in as few word as possible. Also, there are clear rules for writing, such as: One should only write authoritatively about that which one actually knows. Other rules include: Don’t overuse colons; It’s important to know how to use a semi-colon.
Not sure how I got on that train of thought. It simply struck me to try writing a paragraph which was maximally incorrect. I should probably exercise more restraint. But what started this post— What prompted my title selection was:
I’ve decided to stop tracking my waist measurement. It simplifies my crazy list of things I try to do every day, sure. It also eliminates the number of times I go to weigh/measure and have to double-back for reading glasses to see the tailor’s tape. I had started tracking it so that I could calculate my waist to weight ratio. After a few years I’ve learned that the ratio is telling. Not in a depressing way, but it’s a very interesting number—I can tell my level of fitness, how I’ll feel if I try to do something (say, go run, or boulder,) and it’s a great indicator. But having the data didn’t enable to do anything.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So, lest I go ever onward adding processes and things and systems and numbers— ahem. Dropped it.