It is the Worry That Made the Work Good

“To write good software you must simultaneously keep two opposing ideas in your head. You need the young hacker’s naive faith in his abilities, and at the same time the veteran’s skepticism. You have to be able to think how hard can it be? with one half of your brain while thinking it will never work with the other.

The trick is to realize that there’s no real contradiction here. You want to be optimistic and skeptical about two different things. You have to be optimistic about the possibility of solving the problem, but skeptical about the value of whatever solution you’ve got so far.

People who do good work often think that whatever they’re working on is no good. Others see what they’ve done and are full of wonder, but the creator is full of worry. This pattern is no coincidence: it is the worry that made the work good.”

—Paul Graham. “Being Popular.” paulgraham.com. May 2001.

Optimism that a solution to whatever problem you are tackling can be solved, and skepticism in whatever solution you’ve managed to find or create, thus far, is perhaps one of the great lessons of how to approach life.

Epicurus and Epicurean Philosophy

“Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) founded one of the major philosophies of ancient Greece, helping to lay the intellectual foundations for modern science and for secular individualism. Many aspects of his thought are still highly relevant some twenty-three centuries after they were first taught in his school in Athens, called “the Garden.”

Epicurus’s philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships. His world-view is an optimistic one that stresses that philosophy can liberate one from fears of death and the supernatural, and can teach us how to find happiness in almost any situation. His practical insights into human psychology, as well as his science-friendly world-view, gives Epicureanism great contemporary signficance as well as a venerable role in the intellectual development of Western Civilization.”

http://www.epicurus.net/index.html

Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood

“This attack is accomplished by making you feel that your very existence is inimical to the Movement and that nothing can change this short of ceasing to exist. These feelings are reinforced when you are isolated from your friends as they become convinced that their association with-you is similarly inimical to the Movement and to themselves. Any support of you will taint them. Eventually all your colleagues join in a chorus of condemnation which cannot be silenced, and you are reduced to a mere parody of your previous self.”

—Jo Freeman. “Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood.” Ms. April 1976.

The problem with identity politics, in a nutshell. If your politics is a bloodsport and treats people as representations to be “called out” rather than real people with all their complexity and flaws, then you probably aren’t going to have much of a “Movement”.

Viv Albertine on Dating Again in Her 50s

“I had to retrain my eyes and brain to find older men attractive when I started dating again in my fifties. The last time I was single the men I was looking at were in their thirties and I still had that youthful image fixed in my head. It was depressing at first, choosing from a pool that’s not regarded as desirable or vital in your society. I was paddling around in that same pool myself. I’d walk down Oxford Street looking at bald men and men with grey hair and paunches and say to myself, He’s about my age, that’s the demographic I should be looking at. I realized I had a very small group to choose from: men over fifty who’d kept themselves vaguely together physically, were single, mentally stable, solvent and not gay were rare creatures. I managed to re-educate myself eventually. Now I’m only attracted to people my age. A young face looks like a blank page to me.”

—Viv Albertine, “Viv Albertine on Dating Again in Her 50s.” Longreads.com. May 2018.

It is so rare to see a frank account of some of the problems of growing older that it is a bit startling to see it in print.

Black Skinhead

“The skinhead subculture was originally tied to working-class youths in London, England in the 1960s. Considered the first wave, this iteration of the movement was an offshoot of another youth subculture called mod. Skinheads were categorized as such because of their close-cropped or bald heads, but their fashion was inspired by mod as well as the Jamaican rude boy subculture.”

—Elijah C. Watson. “Black Skinhead: Vic Mensa And The Distortion Of The Skinhead Subculture.” okayplayer.com. June 12, 2018.

Never heard about skinheads originally coming out of mod and rude boy subcultures and how it was commoditized to promote a fascist ideology. But, I find it interesting that the same tactics are in play with the attempt to create “Proud Boys” in the United States.