Landmine People

“Landmine people,” said Pyrrha, and when she say Nona’s brows cross in confusion, she said: “Some people were put into the universe to rig it to explode, then walk away … I always fell for that.”

-Tamsyn Muir, “Nona the Ninth.” New York: Tor Books, 2022.

Another name to add to my ongoing series: HoodoosSucking Black HolesPsychic VampiresThe Unhappy & The UnluckyToxic PeopleNarcissist’s Prayer, etc.

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.

Dru Riley’s 100 Rules

“3. “Not wanting something is as good as having it.” — If you don’t want something, you’re just as satisfied as someone who has it. Naval Ravikant says that “…desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”

42. “It’s easier to resist in the beginning than the end.” — Mistakes become harder to correct the longer they linger. Sunk costs play tricks on us. Suck it up and rip the bandaid off now. Toxic relationships, bad hires and tough conversations. It’s immediate pain versus chronic pain…

82. “Play long-term games. Compound returns.” — Focus on the long-term. Most benefits come from later stages of compounding. Pick up habits that you can see yourself sticking with. Jeff Bezos says to focus on what doesn’t change

90. “Live below your means for freedom and options.” — Establish a margin of safety to take more risks. James Clear says that ‘Your success depends on the risks you take. Your survival depends on the risks you avoid.

Dru Riley, “100 Rules — Personal Philosophy.” druriley.com. Accessed August 20, 2022

I might tweak some of these, such as 82 should be infinite games and build on the ideas of James Carse in Finite and Infinite Games. But, this is a good list.

Daniel Mendelsohn on the Odyssey

“…I always resist the “classics is impractical” line that people love to come up with when they are critical of the higher study of these fields. You can study accounting. It’s authentically practical in one way. But when your father dies, your accounting degree is not going to help you at all to process that experience. Homer will help you. The Odyssey will help you. Great literature will help you think about mortality and losing loved ones. That seems very practical to me.

A broad education in which you’re deeply read in literature, and history, and philosophy, and mathematics, and science: this teaches us how to be human beings and it teaches us also how to be citizens. I know that sounds very idealistic, but if the current social and political situation in this country is in any way a marker of what a generation spent focusing on STEM does, then I think clearly we need a different answer. The crude preoccupation with moneymaking as the only goal of a college education is giving us a citizenry that is extremely degraded, as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s only the crudest and least interesting practicality that has no time for the humanities.”

Daniel Mendelsohn, “Daniel Mendelsohn on the Odyssey.” The Octavian Report. August 12, 2022

Of course, an important question is which Odyssey do you read, Emily Wilson’s, Richmond Lattimore’s or someone else’s? Another think that I found interesting is how they talked about life being tragedy and comedy modes of viewing the world mentioned a few days ago.

DARVO

DARVO is an acronym for “deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender”. It refers to a reaction that alleged perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior.[1] Some researchers and advocates have indicated that it can be as a common manipulation strategy of psychological abusers.[2][3][4] An abuser (or alleged abuser) denies the abuse ever took place, attacks the person that alleged abuse (often the victim) for attempting to hold the abuser (or alleged abuser) accountable for their actions, and claims that they are actually the victim in the situation, thus reversing what may be a reality of victim and offender.[2][4] It often involves not just “playing the victim” but also victim blaming.[3]

-Wikipedia contributors, “DARVO,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=DARVO&oldid=1100548671 (accessed August 11, 2022).

Not a term I had heard before. h/t emptywheel. See also Identifying a Stupid Person.