No Comment: Cow Dung Capitalism

“Unadulterated cow urine and dung have always been procured from cow-shelters by the traditional for use at home and in temple pujas. What’s recent is the array of therapeutic and beauty products flooding the market that use these as ingredients. There are face packs, bath scrubbers, mosquito coils and incense sticks that contain cow dung. There are creams, cough syrups, body oils, health tonics, weight-loss tonics, and floor disinfectants that contain distilled cow urine. You name it, they have it. And the names of gau mutra or gau arka (cow urine) or cow dung are not hidden away in long lists of fine print on the packages. It is star-lighted right up front as the chief ingredient in bold letters. You can go to a neighbourhood shop and buy it, or drop by a fancy mall and have it bar-code billed before it’s popped into your shopping bag. And, if you so wish, you can even go online and click—or finger tap—yourself a delivery…

….When Laxmi Rao, a 63-year-old corporate trainer in Delhi, first raised a glass filled one- fourth with a mixture of one drop of gau ark (distilled cow urine) and water to her lips, she didn’t feel the slightest twinge of nausea. She has an interest in alternate forms of therapy and had been suffering from knee pain and acidity for several years. A recommendation from a friend and some quick online research on the medicinal attributes of cow urine led her to give the mixture a shot. “I wasn’t queasy at all,” she says. “I was more like, ‘What the hell, let me give this a try’.” She knocked back the concoction in almost one whole gulp.”

-Lhendup G Bhutia, “Cow Dung Capitalism.” Open. September 16, 2016

Sociology/Psychology of the Last Five Minutes

I used this in conversation, and I had forgotten where I had seen it. I think this might be the original source for me:

Of all the prejudices of pundits, presentism is the strongest. It is the assumption that what is happening now is going to keep on happening, without anything happening to stop it. If the West has broken down the Berlin Wall and McDonald’s opens in St. Petersburg, then history is over and Thomas Friedman is content. If, by a margin so small that in a voice vote you would have no idea who won, Brexit happens; or if, by a trick of an antique electoral system designed to give country people more power than city people, a Donald Trump is elected, then pluralist constitutional democracy is finished. The liberal millennium was upon us as the year 2000 dawned; fifteen years later, the autocratic apocalypse is at hand. Thomas Friedman is concerned.

You would think that people who think for a living would pause and reflect that whatever is happening usually does stop happening, and something else happens in its place; a baby who is crying now will stop crying sooner or later. Exhaustion, or a change of mood, or a passing sound, or a bright light, something, always happens next. But for the parents the wait can feel the same as forever, and for many pundits, too, now is the only time worth knowing, for now is when the baby is crying and now is when they’re selling your books.

And so the death-of-liberalism tomes and eulogies are having their day, with the publishers who bet on apocalypse rubbing their hands with pleasure and the ones who gambled on more of the same weeping like, well, babies.”

-Adam Gopnick, “Are Liberals on the Wrong Side of History?” The New Yorker. March 20, 2017

I probably came across the reference in John Naughton’s online diary, which is excellent and worth using an RSS reader for.

Zuihitsu, 2022-08

Technically, zuihitsu are longer reflections than what I tend to collect. But, the general idea is right. Here’s this month’s installment. If you want the complete set, please download the fortune file.

  1. Something doesn’t have to last forever for it to be successful.
  2. Perfect happiness is the privilege of deciding when things end.—Sarah Manguso
  3. If you really want to see why you do things, then don’t do them and see what happens.—Michael A. Singer
  4. The simpler the message, the sharper the razor.
  5. Figure out the what before the how.
  6. There is no problem without a solution. If there is no solution, it’s just something you need to live with.
  7. Don’t let your intellectual horizons narrow to fit your politics.
  8. History is shaped by the tools we use to disseminate ideas, not the ideas themselves.
  9. More time invested in choosing leads to better choices but also less satisfaction with them.
  10. Don’t apologize for being unavailable.
  11. Celebrity endorsements in new technologies happen at peaks.
  12. The ego is not master in its own house.—Sigmund Freud
  13. Life is full of alternatives but no choice.—Patrick White
  14. Reality is what is seen, counted, and quantified.—Jacques Ellul
  15. Aggregating demand is key to success.
  16. Who’s in charge?—YOU ARE
  17. The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.—Albert Einstein
  18. Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.—Benny Hill
  19. Tinkerbell Effect describes things that are thought to exist only because people believe in them.
  20. Trading and prediction are not the same thing.
  21. Live with your choices and learn.
  22. If you lead with fear, you will find something to fear.
  23. Only a vision of the whole, like that of a saint, a madman or a mystic, will permit us to decipher the true organizing principles of the universe.—Karl Schwarzschild
  24. Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.—Honore de Balzac
  25. All subcultures are, in a sense, status Ponzi schemes.—Scott Alexander
  26. A society grows great when old [people] plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.
  27. Self report is bullshit.
  28. It is not certain that everything is uncertain.—Blaise Pascal
  29. When the time is ripe for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in the early spring.-Father of Jànos Bolyai, who discovered non-Euclidean geometry.
  30. You can recognize the people who live for others by the haunted look on the faces of the others.-Katharine White Horn
  31. Do whatever brings you life, then. Follow your own fascinations,  obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever creates revolution in the heart.
  32. It ain’t what they call you it’s what you answer to.-W.C. Fields
  33. What is beyond our grasp is neither the future nor the past, but the present itself.
  34. There aren’t any bad crowds, just wrong choices.
  35. Harbor the wolf, and you may find your sheep missing.
  36. Don’t tinkle on my twinkle.
  37. The real mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, it is a reality to be experienced. —A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael S. Schneider
  38. People carry worlds within them.—Neil Gaiman
  39. First bite is free.
  40. No darkness lasts forever. And even there, there are stars.—Ursula K. Le Guin
  41. When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.—Abraham Lincoln
  42. Life is thick sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.—attributed to Voltaire
  43. It takes three years of working on something to make good money and seven years to generate wealth.—hosts of The TMBA Podcast
  44. Iron sharpens iron.
  45. Listening is the heart of learning.
  46. Tolerance is a peace treaty, not a suicide pact.
  47. Disrespect is earned.
  48. The secret of happiness is not doing what we like but in liking what we do.—J.M. Coetzee
  49. The apocalypse has arrived, but it is not evenly distributed yet.
  50. Your library should contain as much of what you don’t know as you can afford.
  51. Denarrate, insulate yourself from the other people’s narratives.
  52. Nature is not a temple, but a ruin.
  53. Defer decisions, learn along the way and trust in iteration.
  54. All good things must begin.—Octavia E. Butler
  55. On this topic, who has good taste?
  56. It doesn’t rain every day.
  57. There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?—George Bernard Shaw
  58. Truth builds trust.
  59. The decisions you make add up.
  60. Recency is dramatically overvalued.
  61. Empathize with stupidity, and you are halfway to thinking like an idiot.
  62. It is often the small things that determine success or failure.

Sudowrite: Writing with Artificial Intelligence

Robin Sloan described a process for “writing with the machine” back in 2016 that I tried in 2019. The interesting part of doing it yourself is that you could select the corpus that the A.I. was trained on and get writing in that style of subspecialty. But, it took a bit of work to set-up correctly, and these text generative models have gotten a lot better with GPT and other efforts.

So, if you have never tried writing with A.I., and it will likely become a standard feature in word processors and text editors within five years or so, you can try Sudowrite, which makes the whole process easy to set-up and try out.