Shave and a Haircut

  • Merkur Classic (daily) / Merkur Progress (weekly), razor: ~$60
  • Tinkle Hair Cutter, a razor comb: ~$6
  • Personna Israeli Platinum Reds, Double Edge Razors, blades: 100 for ~$20

For over a decade, I’ve used a Merkur Classic Razor with Personna blades for shaving. It takes me a few years to use a 100 blades. Before, I used to use a Gillette Mach 3. But, I’d spend about $60 dollars a year using Gillette. With a Merkur, the cost of shaving goes down to less than $20.

With the pandemic and the closing of barber shops, I started using a Tinkle razor comb. It uses the same blades as a Merkur. Like the transition to Merkur, there is a bit of a learning curve. I learned the basics from this YouTube video:

But, if you have short hair and aren’t too particular, a razor comb does a decent job. Considering a haircut and tip can cost $25 and if you get one once a month, that’s a $300 annual expense. It more than paid for itself on the first cut, although it took me three days to get it looking the way I wanted. I probably will continue using it, even once the pandemic is over. Recommended.

Highlights of Kevin Kelly’s Unsolicited Advice

“* Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more…

* The more you are interested in others, the more interesting they find you. To be interesting, be interested…

* To make something good, just do it. To make something great, just re-do it, re-do it, re-do it. The secret to making fine things is in remaking them…

* To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is…

* If you are not falling down occasionally, you are just coasting…

* Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In so many ways a friend with a boat is better than owning a boat…

* Hatred is a curse that does not affect the hated. It only poisons the hater. Release a grudge as if it was a poison…

* For every dollar you spend purchasing something substantial, expect to pay a dollar in repairs, maintenance, or disposal by the end of its life…

* Anything real begins with the fiction of what could be. Imagination is therefore the most potent force in the universe, and a skill you can get better at. It’s the one skill in life that benefits from ignoring what everyone else knows…

* When crisis and disaster strike, don’t waste them. No problems, no progress…

* When you get an invitation to do something in the future, ask yourself: would you accept this if it was scheduled for tomorrow? Not too many promises will pass that immediacy filter…

* Rule of 7 in research. You can find out anything if you are willing to go seven levels. If the first source you ask doesn’t know, ask them who you should ask next, and so on down the line. If you are willing to go to the 7th source, you’ll almost always get your answer…

* How to apologize: Quickly, specifically, sincerely.

* When someone is nasty, rude, hateful, or mean with you, pretend they have a disease. That makes it easier to have empathy toward them which can soften the conflict…

* Buying tools: Start by buying the absolute cheapest tools you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot. If you wind up using some tool for a job, buy the very best you can afford…

* The universe is conspiring behind your back to make you a success. This will be much easier to do if you embrace this pronoia.”

-Kevin Kelly, “68 Bits of of Unsolicited Advice.The Technium. April 28, 2020.

Brought to Light

“In 1989, at the very end of the Cold War, a group of four prominent mainstream and alternative comic book writers and artists created a double volume graphic novel exposing the rampant injustices, assassinations, and terrorism facilitated by the CIA and its creatures worldwide, ostensibly to fight global communism in the years following World War II. This pair of books, sold under the shared title Brought To Light, came courtesy of one of the only justice movements since the Church Committee to successfully take on the American deep state and confront the CIA’s historical criminal behavior.”

-Brought to Light is a graphic novel of two parts: Shadowplay — The Secret Team and Flashpoint — The La Penca Bombing

Shadowplay is by Alan Moore and “centers on an avatar of the CIA and American imperialism in the form of a maniacal, drunken bald eagle who ‘represent[s] the Company,’ the common sobriquet for the CIA, and who explains American intelligence interference abroad in terms of the brutality and murder necessary to protect American (business) interests.” Flashpoint provides the details of an assassination of a former Sandinista who has switched sides to join the Contras. However, he found the CIA’s involvement with the Contras troubling, and he was assassinated before he could reveal too much about the CIA and what became known as the “Iran-Contra affair” in the United States.

h/t We Are The Mutants.

Marginalization and Being Weird

“One thing I think this illustrates is how non-transferable experiences of marginalisation are. bell hooks obviously has more experience of marginalisation than I do – she is a black woman in the US, while I am in most regards a fairly privileged white man. But I am also a queer neurodivergent person, and the experience of small towns for people like me is literally the worst.

If you’re sufficiently “weird” and live or go to school in a small town, chances are pretty good you know almost nobody like you, and it’s awful. In a large city you may still struggle to find people like you, but those people are at least there and once you’ve found a few you will find more through them. It is possible to build a community of people like you, and to build a love ethic within that community, in a way that I don’t think people like me are ever going to really find in a small town.”

-David R. MacIver, “The conditional love of a small town.” DRMacIver’s Notebook. April 27, 2020.

Recommend David’s blog in general. Personally, I find I agree with much of what he says. I’ve been “weird” to other people my whole life, but I’ve never identified as being “neurodivergent”, a term I’ve only come to know in the last few years. However, it is a useful way to understand being out of step with the world and helps bring a sense of normality to being different.

We Are All Confident Idiots

“An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge. This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers. Often, our theories are good enough to get us through the day, or at least to an age when we can procreate. But our genius for creative storytelling, combined with our inability to detect our own ignorance, can sometimes lead to situations that are embarrassing, unfortunate, or downright dangerous—especially in a technologically advanced, complex democratic society that occasionally invests mistaken popular beliefs with immense destructive power (See: crisis, financial; war, Iraq). As the humorist Josh Billings once put it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Ironically, one thing many people “know” about this quote is that it was first uttered by Mark Twain or Will Rogers—which just ain’t so.)

-David Dunning, “We are all confident idiots.” Pacific Standard. October 27, 2014.

The Three Equations for a Happy Life

  1. Subjective Well-being = Genes + Circumstances + Habits
  2. Habits = Faith + Family + Friends + Work
  3. Satisfaction = What you have ÷ What you want

“Think of these three equations as the first class in the mechanics of building a life. But there is much, much more where all that comes from.”

-Arthur C. Brooks, “The Three Equations for a Happy Life, Even During a Pandemic.” The Atlantic. April 9, 2020

It seems like a strange argument. I would think that this is a classic nature vs. nurture argument, or in the terms of these equations, Genes vs. Circumstances. Genes are what they are, but with some plasticity depending on the adaptation response. Circumstances are the environment we are born into, which would include family and material possessions and to some extent childhood friends.

Habits I would think more in terms of mental models and fields of action. You can pick your friends. You have choice in what you want. Our selection of work and how hard he work at it is largely up to us. These choices can change our circumstances, in some cases.

So, maybe: Genes / (Circumstances / (Positive Change – Negative Change))

However, I can see how this formulation lacks the aesthetics for a general audience.

See also: Authentic Happiness for other test measures.