Life Lessons from the Prisoner’s Dilemma

“​Axelrod attributed the success of TFT [Tit For Tat] to four properties. It is nice, meaning that it is never the first to defect. The eight nice entries in Axelrod’s tournament were the eight highest ranking strategies. It is retaliatory, making it difficult for it to be exploited by the rules that were not nice. It is forgiving, in the sense of being willing to cooperate even with those who have defected against it (provided their defection wasn’t in the immediately preceding round). An unforgiving rule is incapable of ever getting the reward payoff after its opponent has defected once. And it is clear, presumably making it easier for other strategies to predict its behavior so as to facilitate mutually beneficial interaction.”

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. s.v., “Prisoner’s Dilemma.”

Ben Grierson, Equinophobic U.S. Civil War Cavalry Hero 

“If you grew up in church, you get that story in a hot second: He was one of the Elect, horse-wise. God got him kicked, marked with the hoofprint to tell him he’d have to crawl to the ol’ rugged hoss, like it or not, and added the horse-phobia to make it more interesting. Although I’m not sure being scared of horses is even a phobia. It’s just common sense. Any animal with a tiny brain and an iron-tipped back leg cocked like a bear trap is a good thing to be scared of. I had some horsey relatives and every time they wanted to show us Gypsy or Joker, I’d be edging around trying to stay out of range of that twitchy back leg. I’d already read enough military history to know that horses killed and crippled a whole lot of soldiers. One thing I’ll say for cars: they may kill you but at least it won’t be personal. A horse can nurse a little grudge for weeks, then kick your brain out the back of your head.”

—Brecher, Gary. “Ben Grierson, Actual Hero.” The Exile: War Nerd.  October 16, 2011.

Not in the authoritative style of most history, but damn if it isn’t much more interesting to read.

How to Deal With Psychic Vampires

“Psychic vampires, also known as energy vampires, are emotionally immature individuals who drain the time and energy from those around them. They are usually highly self-interested and lack empathy. The relationships they form are largely self serving. You can deal with psychic vampires by identifying psychic vampires in your life, setting firm boundaries with these people, and working on your own sense of self esteem and self worth.”

How to Deal With Psychic Vampires. wikiHow. 

Understanding the basic concept is important if you have a psychic vampire in your life. However, the advice is much too passive. Identify them and cut them out. 

Dying Isn’t the End of the World

“‘Dying isn’t the end of the world,’ my mom liked to joke, after she was diagnosed as terminal. I didn’t really understand it until, suddenly, I did—when my breast cancer became metastatic and incurable. There are so many things that are worse than death: old grudges; a loveless life; insufficient self-awareness; severe constipation; a lack of curiosity; no sense of humor; this grim parking lot.”

—Riggs, Nina. “The Crematorium.”  Catapult. August 8, 2016

Nina Riggs died last month.