Zuihitsu, 2023-02

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.

  • It is easier to make a bad habit impossible than to not do the possible.
  • Good thinking requires discomfort.
  • Let your mind wander.
  • Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.—David W. Augsburger
  • Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors.—Fred Rodgers
  • Never offer unsolicited advice. Even solicited, advice is a dangerous gift.
  • A man forgets his good luck the next day, but remembers his bad luck until next year.—E.W. Howe
  • Diplomacy and decisive action go hand in hand.
  • Unless the threat is immediate, observe and analyze.
  • Politics poison everything they touch.
  • Be last to judge and the first to embrace.
  • All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.—Blaise Pascal
  • Don’t give advice, do acknowledge reality.
  • On the utility to signal spectrum, the more the cost, the more signaling.
  • Better tools, better information.
  • The tall poppy gets cut down.
  • Rest is resistance.
  • Focus on making children string over fixing broken men.
  • We all have three voices: the one we think with, the one we speak with, and the one we write with. When you stutter, two of those are always at war.—John Hendrickson
  • Thought is formed in the mouth.—Tristan Tzara
  • Without mercy, there can be no mistakes.
  • Simple solutions in a complex world aren’t solutions.
  • Devalue effort and all that remains is morass.
  • Wonder is the helpmate of learning.
  • The best way to defeat the opposition is to lead it. 
  • Happy or smart. Choose one.
  • Always be willing to change your mind —especially if you’re smart.
  • We decide what to believe by deciding who to believe.
  • No need to separate the art from the artist, if the art is bad.
  • Social constructs, such as gender, race, etc. are picked up from our society. None of us escape them, except with conscious, courageous effort.
  • Peace is the product of clear boundaries.
  • It’s never going to be perfect. Do your best and let it go.
  • Conspiracy theories are the insecure person’s defense against a confusing world with too many competing narratives.
  • Specification is for guidance. Code is source of truth.
  • You don’t need to convince. Just do or be it.
  • I would never die for my beliefs, because I might be wrong.—Bertrand Russell
  • Truth is simple. Complexity is when truth is not understood or is there to obscure it.
  • The 10/10 Rule: it takes a decade to build a platform and another decade for it to reach mass adoption.
  • Fixing things you don’t like is where innovation begins.

Lowering Our Boggle Threshold

“Paranthropologist Dr Jack Hunter, editor of the newly released anthology Deep Weird: The Varieties of High Strangeness Experience, notes that psychical researcher Rene Haynes coined the concept of the ‘Boggle threshold’ to describe this phenomenon – “the point at which a researcher says ‘no I’m not taking that, I’m not accepting that any further, it’s too weird’.”

Hunter believes that we need to lower our ‘Boggle thresholds’ a little bit, and start paying paying attention to the more bizarre paranormal experiences – because “when we do that, we can start to look for parallels or patterns across experiences, and we see that there are striking similarities even between some of the most outrageous ‘high strangeness experiences’ and some of the most widely accepted transpersonal religious experiences.”

-Greg, “Deep Weird: The varieties of high strangeness experience.” DailyGrail.com. February 23, 2023.

A Taxonomy of Hate

I have been thinking about what distinguishes misanthropy from various forms of X-ism, whether racism, sexism, classism, or some other thing. Various X-isms seem like special cases of misanthropy. Sexism is a kind of hatred of women. Racism is a kind of hatred of one or other races.

When framed in that way, it occurs to me that misanthropy might also be a special case. It stands to reason that you could use the same construction of misanthropy, from the Greek μῖσος mīsos ‘hatred’ and ἄνθρωπος ānthropos ‘man, human’, and replace anthropos with βιο, the root of biology, or Ζωή ‘life’. If we were to construct these words, using the form of other English words, it might be misbiopic for hatred of all life. Or, you might use the way Ζωή appears as zoology to mean animals, and formulate as miszoopic.

When going through an exercise like this one, it’s interesting what shakes out. We don’t have words to describe hatred of all life. But, we do have words for hatred of human beings. We have words for hatred of women. But, we don’t talk about hatred as abstracted. It’s singular.

It reminds me of an old trope. It was said that people in the Northern United States loved blacks as a group and hated individuals. In the Southm it was the opposite. Blacks were hated as a group and loved individual people. I think there’s a step change that happens, when moving from hatred of an individual to a group.

Someone that hates a particular woman may also hate most women. But, do they hate them all? Are there environmental factors that come into play? Other considerations beyond merely being “female” that give rise to hatred?

And if we abstract out further, to the level of humanity, animals, or all living beings, doesn’t the universe of other considerations expand as well? With this expansion of confoundable variables, does it make sense to talk about hate in the context of a specific label, whether of humans, woman, or some other subgroup?

I guess where this line of thinking is taking me is that – while we can acknowledge that the prejudgments can be encoded into a social environment, reenforce it in individuals, over time, as culture is designed to do – it misses the confounding factors and gives less visibility into the problem. Your definitions shape your understanding as surely as your life experience (or lack thereof) shape it.

This is the difficult part. What is the source of the hatred? It’s because I’m a woman. It is a simple answer. But, it is also incomplete and wrong, on some level. Intersectionality is one thing. But one section being left off is in-group/out-group dynamics, which may sit above these aspects of identity informed by demographics.

For example, nationalism may drive a country to war. In war, women are raped. On what level is war a hatred of all living things? On what level is rape, in war, an issue of sexism rather than some other thing, such as projection of power?

It’s quite common for people to have hatred for others that are better off materially than themselves. Consider what happens to lottery winners. Is it hatred of those that win the lottery, or is it more abstracted, to anyone that is successful or had a windfall, such as an inheritance?

The reason I’m exploring this issue is I think that many of words, explanations and mental models are deficient to really capture what is going on. It may be that we cannot ever get to a model of reality where the map matches the territory. Maybe we don’t want such a map. But, it would be good to think through the maps we have and maybe make a conscious choice to pick ones that are more suited to our purposes.

Chicken With Green Dumplings

Based on the recipe from Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985. Pgs. 114, 117-118.


  • 1 chicken weighing 4 pounds (1800 g), poached
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 quarts (2 liters) of water

Wash the chicken and drain in colander. Combine the onion. celery and red pepper flakes, bay leaves, thyme salt, peppercorns and water in a stockpot. Bring to boil. Add chicken. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 90 minutes. When skin pulls from the joints, you are finished. Pull chicken from broth. Save broth. Wait for chicken to cool. Remove meat from bones.


  • 8 tablespoons of fat, chicken fat or butter
  • 1 cup (118 ml) chopped onion
  • 2 cups (275 ml) chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 9 tablespoons of flour
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 drops of hot sauce (optional)

Heat the fat over medium heat. Add onions. When onions are translucent, add mushrooms. Cook until moisture evaporates, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlice and cook for 2 minutes. Make a roux by adding the flour all at once and stir for continuously for 3 minutes. The flour will turn the color of mushrooms.

Pour in stock and cream. Stir continuously for 15 minutes. Roughly chop the chicken meat, add it to the stock, and cook for 15 more minutes. Season with salt pepper and hot sauce.


  • 1 1/2 cups (244 g) flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 egg well beaten, with enough milk to equal 7/8 of a cup (205 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped scallions

Stir flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together, Make well in center and add egg/milk mixture. If too wet add flour. If too dry, add a few drops of milk. Dough should be sticky but not wet. Fold in herbs and scallions. Drop by the spoonfuls into the broth. Dumplings can be very close together. Cover tightly, annd reduce heat so liquid bubbles but is not boiling. Close and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

To serve, put sauce in the center of a large serving platter and garnish with dumplings. Or, just scoop some in a bowl.


I saw this thread on Twitter on Inositol.

I think I’m going to give it a one month N of 1 trial and see if I find anything worthwhile. Even if I think it could be beneficial, I realize there could be confounding factors, such as placebo effect. But, I think it might be worth a try. Better mood, protection against metabolic syndromes seem to be good benefits relative to the small amount of risk involved. Adding to my series of inconclusive or untried trials: low-dose lithium, Hafnia alvei, and so forth.

Rucking was something I tried and feel I can recommend to anyone. Thirty pounds is good for anyone. More than that, you probably need to be an athlete with particular goals. If you are a smaller person, 100 pounds or so, try starting with ten pounds. This is the ruck sack I use.

Valentine’s Cookies

Over-the-top chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies.


  • 1 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon, baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light (or dark) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons, vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 sweet shredded coconut, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup, toasted nut of choice, such as pecans or cashews
  • 1 cup, semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup, white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup, toffee chips and/or golden raisins
  • 2 1/2 cups, old-fashioned rolled oats


  • 2 baking sheets
  • parchment paper
  • standing mixer
  • 3 mixing bowls
  • long wooden spoon
  • tablespoon
  • spatula
  • wire rack for cooling
  • air-tight containers


  1. Preheat oven to 350F (177C).
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Add eggs and beat until blended, about a minute.
  6. Add flour, 3 tablespoons at a time.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
  8. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper, with 1 inch separating them.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes (chewy) to 14 minutes (crisp).
  10. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removing to oven, then transfer to wire rack.
  11. Once cool, put in an air-tight container.

The Five Love Languages

According to Gary Chapman, the five love languages are:

  1. words of affirmation (compliments)
  2. quality time
  3. receiving gifts
  4. acts of service
  5. physical touch

This book, “The Five Love Languages,” was published 30 years ago. I think it is a good mental model for thinking about relationships, and it probably helps to think of them as a spectrum. It’s not that we don’t employ one or another, but we prefer to use some more than others, some of which may be context dependent.

Personally, I don’t emphasize words of affirmation. I consider that the job of each person to validate themselves. Other people complimenting us should largely not matter. I think looking for outside validation is one of the larger cultural biases that people create. So, this is probably where I am weakest. I can recognize that there can be value in compliments, but I also see them as problematic. I don’t particularly need them, although it is nice to be appreciated.

I probably emphasize “acts of service” the most. Love isn’t a feeling. Or, it is least not just a feeling. Love is a verb. If it doesn’t entail actually doing something different, often putting someone else’s interests above our own, then is it love?

Physical touch is probably second most important. Quality time and gifts follow in the third and fourth spots, respectively. It’s important to give good gifts in situations where they are appropriate. But, a relationship that has a focus on gifts can also be problematic. It’s a physical manifestation of the same kinds of issues as compliments. If it is severe enough it can lead to dependency and transactional relationships.

I haven’t read the book, but I intend to, at some point. When I do, I’ll add some notes to this entry or link to it from this post.