Helsinki Bus Station Theory

“…the secret to a creatively fulfilling career lies in understanding the operations of Helsinki’s main bus station…There are two dozen platforms, Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops. “Each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer,” Minkkinen says. You pick a career direction…Three stops later, you’ve got a nascent body of work…[but because it is nascent it will be similar to someone else’s body of work, and you’ll be tempted to go back to the main station and set out in a new direction. Three years later, it happens again.]…’This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others.’ What’s the answer? ‘It’s simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus.'”

—Oliver Burkeman, “This column will change your life: Helsinki Bus Station Theory.” The Guardian. September 23, 2013.

Stephen Jay Gould

“But, as we consider the totality of similarly broad and fundamental aspects of life, we cannot defend division by two as a natural principle of objective order. Indeed, the ‘stuff’ of the universe often strikes our senses as complex and shaded continua, admittedly with faster and slower moments, and bigger and smaller steps, along the way. Nature does not dictate dualities, trinities, quarterings, or any ‘objective’ basis for human taxonomies; most of our chosen schemes, and our designated numbers of categories, record human choices from a cornucopia of possibilities offered by natural variation from place to place, and permitted by the flexibility of our mental capacities. How many seasons (if we wish to divide by seasons at all) does a year contain? How many stages shall we recognize in a human life?”

—Stephen Jay Gould, “The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox: Mending the Gap between Science and the Humanities.” New York: Harmony, 2003, p. 82, quoted in s.v. Stephen Jay Gould, Wikiquote.

Problems of Post Hoc Analysis

“Misuse of statistical testing often involves post hoc analyses of data already collected, making it seem as though statistically significant results provide evidence against the null hypothesis, when in fact they may have a high probability of being false positives…. A study from the late-1980s gives a striking example of how such post hoc analysis can be misleading. The International Study of Infarct Survival was a large-scale, international, randomized trial that examined the potential benefit of aspirin for patients who had had a heart attack. After data collection and analysis were complete, the publishing journal asked the researchers to do additional analysis to see if certain subgroups of patients benefited more or less from aspirin. Richard Peto, one of the researchers, refused to do so because of the risk of finding invalid but seemingly significant associations. In the end, Peto relented and performed the analysis, but with a twist: he also included a post hoc analysis that divided the patients into the twelve astrological signs, and found that Geminis and Libras did not benefit from aspirin, while Capricorns benefited the most (Peto, 2011). This obviously spurious relationship illustrates the dangers of analyzing data with hypotheses and subgroups that were not prespecified (p.97).”

—Mayo, quoting
National Academies of Science “Consensus Study” Reproducibility and Replicability in Science 2019 in “National Academies of Science: Please Correct Your Definitions of P-values.” Statsblogs. September 30, 2019.

Reading Harry Potter as a Sacred Text

“What if we take this seriously? What gifts is it going to give us if we love something, and we love it with rigor, and we love it with commitment?”

Reading Harry Potter as a Sacred Text

Strikes me as an important question for many things in our lives that we trivialize because they aren’t “important” enough. What happens when we choose to love something, whether it deserves it or not, and how does it change it/them/us in the process?

The only caveat is to try to love wisely. It’s impossible to know where love will lead us, but if the chances are good a love will lead us down a bad path, perhaps it would be better to choose a different one.

What Really Happens When You Become an Overnight Millionaire?

“‘With some people an event like this would change them,’ says Shah, his Chicago friend. ‘And suddenly Peter’s life has changed — he went through a divorce, in every way Peter’s life has changed — but I feel like he is what he is.’”

—Stephanie Clifford, “What Really Happens When You Become an Overnight Millionaire?Medium.com. September 30, 2019.

The answer, apparently, is you start making bad life decisions because having heaps of money distorts your reality. Obligatory link to Reddit post on why winning the lottery is one of the most unfortunate things that can happen to you.

Scratch: Hip Hop Turntablism Documentary

The important thing to remember is that this basement isn’t packed with treasure. It’s packed with junk. You have to spend the time to sort through the junk to find the treasure. There is no shortcut. There is no algorithm. There is only time, attention, noticing — digging…I like to try to apply this spirit of crate-digging to everyday life. The only way to find the good stuff, the special stuff, the genuine moments and the true inspiration, is to first engage with the everyday, the mundane, the seemingly useless, the things nobody else seems to care about. So engage. There is no shortcut; there is no algorithm. If all you do is track what’s trending, then all you’ll ever know is exactly what everyone else already knew. To discover, you have to dig.”

—Rob Walker, “Crate-Dig Reality.” The Art of Noticing. No. 29. September 29, 2019.

This could serve as a mission statement for cafebedouin.org.

Dunning-Kruger Effect = Satisfaction

“…people with the biggest gap between their abilities and their view of [themselves] say they have the highest levels of satisfaction with their life, career and relationships. “People who report being more adjusted are those who have a combination of relatively lower true abilities and actual higher views of themselves,” says Stéphane Côté, a social psychologistat the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and an author of the paper.”

—Lydia Denworth, “New Insights into Self-Insight: More Might Not Be Better.” Scientific American. August 27, 2019.

Hour of the Wolf

“[B]ecause I am a romantic, I still believe that we have the potential to be nobler than we know and better than we think. […] So I urge you to keep your heart’s compass on the true north of your dreams. Be free to be romantics, to reject cynicism, to believe that good will prevail and that those who do wrong will be punished, because, when the hour of the wolf comes, as it comes to all of us sooner or later, those are the things that sustain us.”

—J. Micheal Straczynski wrote that speech 20 years ago for Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher, the protagonist of Murder, She Wrote, quoted in Cord Brooks, “‘Writing Superficially Is Easy’: An Interview with J. Michael Straczynski.” Los Angeles Review of Books. September 21, 2019.

Also:

…”it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you endured or what your resources were or who didn’t believe in you. Your success is the result of your talent, your dreams and the degree to which you are — or are not — prepared to fight for them…

…What mattered to me in the telling was to illustrate that we have choices about how we react to the things that happen to us, that we can choose differently than others would have us choose, and that we can break the cycle of violence or abuse or alcoholism by taking responsibility for ourselves instead of blaming others or indulging in victimhood. If it can help some people understand that there is a way out of the darkness that does not require doing unto someone else as was done unto them, then the book has been worth the effort.”

ibid.