One word

I find myself using the word “wish” when I’ve decided I don’t like something the way it is, yet I’m not actually doing anything about it. There’s no real reason to declare my wishes. Whenever I start a sentence with “I just wish…” feel free to ignore me, I’m only wasting your time. My whiny face has probably made you tune out anyway.

~ David Cain

Then I have to ask, what does it mean when we say, “I wish you well?”

It means exactly nothing.

If someone is sick, don’t send prayers or well wishes. Instead, tell them you will miss them when they are gone—oviously only in cases where Death is the elephant-in-the-room. In more mundane situations, why not tell someone how much you enjoyed this opportunity to spend time with them. …or how much you appreciate their simply calling to say hello. Don’t “wish” them well. Don’t “try” to keep in touch. (Those are just a few examples that spring immediately to mind.)

Avoiding “wishing” is not easy. I’ve been actively and intentionally working on it for many years. So far, I’ve managed only to become aware of it each time I “wish” or “try.”


Desperate to sign anything

They just assumed I must be just like all the other people they represent- hungry and desperate and willing to sign anything.

~ Jason Korman

People sometimes ask, when the Movers Mindset podcast isn’t available in their favorite podcast-player app, why not?

tl;dr: odious clauses in click-wrap contracts.

You should see some of the things! Obviously, there are “hold harmless” clauses obsolving them of any possible responsibility—sure, ok, that’s fine, I am deriving benefit from having our podcast distrbuted through your thing. But some of them want the right to insert ads—not just run ads before or after. Sure, ok, again, you need to pay for your thing; I get that. But insert ads in the middle? Or how about clauses that bind me to defend them in any lawsuit. Not even just related to the content we created—but any lawsuit. Or how about my not being allowed to mention in our advertising that we’re being carried by their thing . . .

i digress

These odious cases have arisen because it’s a lovers’ triangle: The thing/app convinces the users that everything is rosy. The users lean on me because they can’t hear the podcast, and then the thing/app extorts me. Which is all very closely related to Jaron Lanier’s comment about “our society cannot survive, if…” (And that’s a link to the web site where you can always listen to the podcast, for free, because we control our web site.)

Please—you reading right now—please start paying for things. Choose a podcast player app which is not free. That makes you the customer, and enables them to build a great app. Then they don’t have to strong-arm me. Choose a messaging system, choose a source of information, choose everything(!) by being part of a fair trade with another party.

If you find yourself in a position, where you’re thinking, “this is great and free!” please look around and try to figure out who is actually being taken advantage of… it’s clearly not you, but I assure you, it’s someone else.


On civility

If civility is a kind of claim to regulating, or governing our disagreements on the basis of something shared, then what really matters is, what exactly it is we’re claiming that we need to share in order to have a civil disagreement.

~ Teresa Bejan

I’ve heard discussion about “controlling the conversation.” The idea being that when there’s a power imbalance, one side can control what can be talked about, and what can be blocked or suppressed as “beyond the pale.” This discussion on Philosophy Bites explores what it means “to be civil.” In my interpretation, it may not be possible to be civil in cases where there is insufficient common ground upon which to build civil discourse.


Democracy and civic duty

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of not voting because they feel like they would then be forfeiting the only power they have over who governs. But your vote contains no power. It is a virtually inert token of your participation, which does carry some sentimental value to some people. But it has no election-swinging ability. There are plenty of actions that can make a difference but casting your vote isn’t one of them.

In the media, your vote is billed as a precious choice with resounding consequences, which means you should watch a lot of election coverage so that you don’t screw it up. Now think for a moment: who might have an interest in having you vastly overestimate the importance of your vote? The candidates, and the news organizations that talk about them 24 hours a day.

You’ve been had. They don’t want your choice to be logical, they want it to remain emotional.

~ David Cain

Next election, when you see me not wearing an “I Voted!” sticker, go ahead and ask me if I voted.

I’ve stopped looking at everyone’s lapels to see if they voted, and I’ve stopped asking people if they are going to vote. If and when politics comes up, I talk about topics that matter to me. My civic duty—and I believe it is a duty which I fulfill partly in exchange for reaping the benefits of living in a civil society—is to participate in the demoncratic process. That process includes a tiny, irrelevant show of theatre where some people see me at the local polling place. That democratic process also includes a much larger amount of other stuff; my working to understand the issues that interest me so I have an informed opinion. …and then using my brain to participate in the democratic process by browsing, negotiating, buying and selling in the Marketplace of Ideas. I hope to see you there here.

Thanks for browsing my wares!


Fear of failure

But, as it often turns out, author Oliver Burkeman argues for a much more sensible proposition — namely, that we’ve created a culture crippled by the fear of failure, and that the most important thing we can do to enhance our psychoemotional wellbeing is to embrace uncertainty.

~ Maria Papova

There’s been enough global discussion of the ‘fear of missing out’.  You understand what it means and why it is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  What are you going to do about it?

Are you going to talk to others about these ideas, (Maria’s above, Oliver’s being referenced, mine)?  Are you going to work to be the change you want to see in the world?

…AND WHEN YOU FAIL, what are you going to do then?


LOW oil prices are a problem too

In recent years, we have heard a great deal about the possibility of Peak Oil, including high oil prices. If the issue we are facing is really prices that are too low for producers, then there seems to be the possibility of a different limits issue, called Collapse. Many early economies seem to have collapsed as they reached resource limits. Collapse seems to be characterized by growing wealth disparity, inadequate wages for non-elite workers, failing governments, debt defaults, resource wars, and epidemics. Eventually, population associated with collapsed economies may fall very low or completely disappear. As Collapse approaches, commodity prices seem to be low, rather than high.

~ Gail Tverberg

The idea that there may no price where a buyer and seller can agree is patently obvious, right?

Suppose you can only afford to spend $1 on some thing you absolutely need, but I need $100 to cover the cost of producing the thing. No amount of haggling over price will solve this problem. The solution is to add some debt; you borrow some money and buy the thing at some price we can agree on.

What happens if you cannot take on more debt? You need the thing, you cannot afford the price, and you cannot leverage future payment (aka, debt) to purchase the thing…

What happens as more of the world can no longer afford to purchase oil at the price needed by the oil producers?

What happens as more of the world runs out of debt?

…and if you think running out of debt is not possible, please go read more of Gail’s writing.



I talked to Kelsey about some of the research for her article, and independently came to the same conclusion: despite the earlier studies of achievement being accurate, preschools (including the much-maligned Head Start) do seem to help children in subtler ways that only show up years later. Children who have been to preschool seem to stay in school longer, get better jobs, commit less crime, and require less welfare. The thing most of the early studies were looking for – academic ability – is one of the only things it doesn’t affect.

~ Scott Alexander

Presented without comment. Except of course for this comment where I confess that—for the umpteenth time—I’ve read something written by Scott Alexander and had my mind broadened (in a good way.)



We tend to think of home as a specific location — a defined physical space where we feel safe and entitled to be ourselves. But home, like so many other things that profess to be something more concrete, is really just an emotion. “Home” is the emotion of belonging you get from very familiar places.

~ David Cain

—not always, not often. I’m still a deeply flawed human being who is happy to be a work in progress.

But sometimes people tell me I’m “different” or “intense” because I move more slowly than most people, or I seem [they think I “seem”; I actually “am”] to be paying attention, or I seem [again, actually “am”] to be particularly considerate or thoughtful. Sometimes people find this really unsettling; I’ve had people physically twitch in the process of avoiding my glance. To those people, I’m sorry that a heartfelt glance was too much for you at that moment. (Not sarcasm.) But sometimes, a heartfelt “Hello! How are you today?” is just the thing people need.

—again here with the caveats.

But often I’m wondering why everyone seems to be in such a hurry. I believe I understand why they are; I’m assuming their reasons are the same as my reasons were. Often I sit down and feel perfectly at home. Often after a bit of post-just-sat-down day dreaming, I’ll have a brief moment of a sort of fully immersed realization that I’m not anywhere remotely near my geographic home. And that just makes it all the more enjoyable to feel at home.

Slow down. Relax.
If things are going badly, relax for they will not last.
If things are going well, relax for they will not last.


Entirely too much

There is entirely too much human judging, too much flippant criticism of the acts of others. Suspicion is permitted to displace evidence, cheap shrewdness to banish charity, prejudice to masquerade as judgment. We imagine, we guess, we speculate—then pass on through the medium of indiscreet speech and idle gossip what may bring bitterness, sorrow, heartache, and injustice to others. The very ones we condemn may be battling nobly under a hail of trial and temptation where we might fall faint in the trenches or, lowering our colors, drop back in hopeless surrender.

~ William George Jordan

Written ~1909, this is 100 years old and still pitch-perfect today. The more things change the more they stay the same.


The apocalypse is already here

We’re made increasingly miserable because connect-the-world imperialists are unleashing machine learning on our most vulnerable and base impulses. A constant loop of refinement that prods our psyche for weak spots, and then exploits them with maximal efficiency. All in the service of selling ads for cars, shampoo, or political discord.

~ David Hansson

Sometimes it’s nice to stop worrying about the existential threat of the rise of the machines…

…and to instead worry about the existential threat of people doing stupid things.