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.


On blame

What I like about that phrase, “I hate the person who invented Mondays,” is that it reveals the absurdity of one of our very human habits. We have a tendency to find some part of our environment to scold — a person or thing — whenever we run into some kind of problem in our lives. Something unpleasant happens unexpectedly, and the emotion of blame arises. We search for a source to our suffering, and fix our dislike on it and align ourselves against it, as if our sheer, bitter ill-will can transmute a part of life we hate into something we like.

~ David Cain

It’s important for me to distinguish between cause and blame. Cause—it seems to me—is something I can work at picking apart. It’s unlikely I’d have a full understanding of cause-and-effect in any random situation, (“why exactly did that guy just spill his beer on me,” is pretty complicated after all,) but picking at the threads of the seemingly unknowable knot-that-is-the-cause… That tends to lead me to a more thoughtful view of the world. And a more thoughtful view invariably leads me to a more optimistic view of the world.

Here’s a tangential thought as an example: Is it “Western Civilization” that is taking over the world? Or is it “Best Civilization” is taking over, and the areas we label “western” have just gotten to the ideas [all, some, or just one in particular under discussion] first? If I ditch, “who’s to blame,” for the specific changes in civilization which I dislike [think: social media] and instead ask, “what is causing that change?”… well, that changes my view of things significantly.



Here’s the thing: from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary. The money has gone to the top. The wages have gone to the top. The recovery has gone to the top. And what’s worst of all, everybody who matters seems basically pretty okay with that. The new bright sparks, cheerfully referred to as “Young Gods” believe themselves to be the honest winners in a new invent-or-die economy, and are busily planning to escape into space or acquire superpowers, and instead of worrying about this, the talking heads on TV tell you its all a good thing- don’t worry, the recession’s over and everything’s better now, and technology is TOTES AMAZEBALLS!

~ Anne Amnesia

This is a long read… wait, ok no, this is not a long read. That was just me being pessimistic and assuming people can’t read. Sorry.

This is an excellent read from a point of view very different from my own. I mean that literally: A view from a very different place than I am accustomed. I am just old enough to remember the AIDS epidemic. But I am also white and middle-class and was dutifully sheltered from it all by my pie-slice of society.


The malady of content

When there is communication without need for communication, merely so that someone may earn the social and intellectual prestige of becoming a priest of communication, the quality and communicative value of the message drop like a plummet.

~ Maria Papova

I find “creative culture” an alluring idea. What have I wrought with my own two hands? I find most competition pointless. I find observing others compete unequivically pointless. But creating—or even just watching others create, or observing the fruits of their labor—provides me endless pleasure and opportunity for growth.


Sources of Existential Angst

Consequently, we are surrounded by a jarring cacophony of comments, feedback, and opinions — little of which has been vetted, researched, or thoughtfully considered prior to being released. Instead it is the product of emotional responses and knee-jerk reactions. It is the product of our id, rather than our ego.

~ Brett McKay

Once I realized the full breadth of what was being created, I went through a long phase of revulsion which validated his analysis.

It was important that I went to that depth of derision to understand the nature of our current, Western society. In the end, I came out the other side with a renewed appreciation for technology, society, and people. The old, great stuff is still out there, more readily-avilable than ever, and new, great stuff is still being produced. (See, for example, this.) I now appreciate the new, good stuff even more because I see the full breadth of what is being done, created and shared.