The Fourth Option

We always have three options.

  1. You can change it.
  2. You can accept it.
  3. You can leave it.

But, there’s a fourth option. 4. You can experience it.

Is experiencing something the same as accepting it? It isn’t.

The world is not static. Change is a constant. And, we are too busy reacting – choosing change, acceptance or escape – to be in the moment. We are choosing thinking about an experience over living it.

If we choose to experience a moment, then it means there is no room to try to change, agree or escape from it. All three are attempts to shape the experience to conform to our views and value judgments. When our minds, hearts and bodies are open to whatever that moment has to offer, there is no room for anything else. There is no room for thought.

The only thing that ever needs changing is our mind. Choose experiencing the moment over thinking about it, and you’ll change the world.

How To Celebrate In 2019: Modern Party Etiquette Rules

“But at the same time, this is yet another outgrowth of how starved for connection millennials are: ‘You have to be participatory to have a community,’ Dr. Carbino says. ‘All of these events are ways to create a sense of community. Because you don’t have that anymore in a traditional sense you have to do it another way.’ And if you’re not getting married or having a baby, you have to get even more creative: an over-the-top party on your birthday, or register for your housewarming, a bash to celebrate your cat’s adoption day.”

—Amelia Harnish. “How to Celebrate in 2019.” Refinery 29. June 10, 2019.

A comprehensive, six-part etiquette guide for Millennials desperately trying to fight off middle-aged loneliness in our modern world with its fractured communities. Good luck, kids!

Run Your Own Social Network

“I suppose I’ll repeat what I said multiple times in this document, which is that running a small social network site for your friends is hard work, but it’s worth it. It is first and foremost the work of community building, and only secondarily is it a technical endeavor. And it’s completely possible to do, today, though depending on who you are and what your resources are it’s going to be difficult in different ways.”

-Darius Kazemi, “Run Your Own Social Network.” July 8, 2019

The net: Get five friends together. Open a lightweight account at a hosting provider like for $100/year and see how it develops.

It is possible to meet the needs of a 5 person group in something like group chat in Signal or another messaging application. However, it is difficult to grow these groups without compromising the dynamic.

The advantage of hosting it on a Mastodon server is that is provides a scalable platform to grow up to 50 users. If you have a hosting provider, it cuts down on the technical skill necessary to run the server, but you will have to give up the ability to customize the software to your community’s needs. For most circumstances, this is a reasonable trade off.

Of course, you can roll your own on a virtual server or an old PC you have laying around. However, old PCs fail, as do old PC administrators. Do yourself a favor and outsource the work for $100.

The Story of Khantivadin, The Teacher of Patience

Note: khanti = patience, and vadin = teacher

The king of Kausala was a very rich king… [with] five hundred wives. One day the king decided he we wanted to go on a picnic and he let his wives know this. The cooks were alerted to prepare the food, the servants to get the elephants ready with seats and decorations and the soldiers to get ready in their best uniforms.

The next morning the whole palace, the royal servants and the royal wives, set out. They came to the forest and found a beautiful meadow for their picnic. The king ate and drank too much. Immediately after lunch he fell asleep and the wives said to each other, ‘Now’s our chance. We don’t often get to go out of the palace. Let’s look around.’ They all trooped off and looked at the butterflies, the greenery and the trees and enjoyed the beauty of the forest.

Very soon they came to a little bark hut in front of which sat a vert famous old sage whom they recognized as Khantivadin. All the women sat down in front of him, paid their respects and asked him to preach a sermon to them. He very willingly obliged and spoke about moral conduct, loving-kindness, and generosity.

Meanwhile the king woke up and their wasn’t a single wife to be seen anywhere. He was furious. He called the soldiers and said ‘Go! Get my wives back immediately.’ They obediently ran off into the forest and found the wives sitting in front of Khandivadin’s hut listening to a sermon.’ But the king was still under the influence of all that food and drink and couldn’t listen to reason. He told the soldiers to chase all the wives back to the meadow and then tie Khantivadin to the nearest tree. Since they were in the employ of the king, they could not do otherwise. They chased all the wives back to the meadow and tied up Khantivadin.

Then the king took a huge knife, ran up to Khantivadin in a great rage and said, ‘You old scoundrel, you. You’ve been trying to take my wives away from me.’ And he cut off one foot and said, ‘And where is your patience now?’ Khantivadin replied, ‘Not in my foot, your Majesty.” Then the king proceeded to cut the old sage to pieces while repeating the same question and each time getting the same answer, which increased his fury.

When Khantivadin was on the point of dying, the soliders who had witness the spectacle, said to Khantivadin, ‘Sir, please do not curse the whole kingdom. Just curse the king.’ And Khantivadin said, “I do not curse anyone. May the king live long and happily.’ And then he died. The story says that the earth then swallowed up the king.

The next day the Buddha was informed of this happening whereupon he said, ‘Who does not act in this way has not understood my teaching.’

-Ayya Khema, “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere.” London: Wisdom Publications, 1987. pgs. 66-68.

A Dead Cat Bomb on Google’s Dining Room Table

” A day after the dead cat was thrown on the table, [i.e., when Boris Johnson claimed he liked to make model buses out of old crates] twitter user @MrKennyCampbell realized that Johnson’s incoherent rambling about model buses was also a Google bomb. Previously, searches for “boris bus” on Google threw up that lie about how much the UK sent to the EU, and Johnson’s tacit agreement with it. Now the same search shows stories about Johnson’s passion for making model buses. References to the big red Brexit bus and its slogan have been pushed off the top Google hits, effectively consigning the story about Johnson to relative digital oblivion.

This is such a brilliant example of political search engine optimization that it’s hard to believe someone as buffoonish as Johnson would be capable of pulling it off intentionally. Nonetheless, whether it was fiendishly clever planning, or an unbelievably lucky improvisation, there’s no denying the episode stands as an object lesson in how to combine the dead cat strategy with a Google bomb to great effect.”

-Glyn Moody, “Boris Johnson, UK’s Answer To Trump, Offers A Masterclass In How To Use The Dead Cat Strategy Combined With A Google Bomb.” July 2nd, 2019.

Learn to Look at the Line

“When I was learning how to mountain bike, I was taught to look at the line. No matter how rocky or rooty or hairy or gnarly the trail was, you looked down it and found the path you wanted to follow, your line. And then—and this was key—you looked at the line. Not the obstacles, the line. Especially if you were a klutzy beginner like me, there were no promises that you’d be able to follow the line, but if you looked at the boulder in your path, you were pretty much guaranteed to run straight into it (and yes, I’ve done exactly that, with the tacoed wheel to show for it).

There are an infinite number of dystopian futures that we can fixate on, like rocks in our path. And there’s the lazy nihilism epitomized by ‘LOL we’re fucked’, like taking our bikes and going home.

Or we can, together, learn to look at the line. Because there absolutely is a path through to a better future for everyone, one that’s sustainable and resilient and equitable. But we have to learn to see it, to stay focused on it, and to follow it down. That’s the work.”

—Deb Chachra, “Terraforma Incognita.” Metafoundry, No. 72., June 24, 2019.

Also known as front-site focus. If you don’t focus on what is immediately in front of you, you will never hit what you are aiming at.

The Work of the Three Minds

“We have three minds, I reckon, one of which is the body, while the other two are forms of mentation: daylight consciousness and dreaming consciousness. If one of these is absent from a work, it isn’t complete; and if one or two of them are suppressed, kept out of sight, then the whole thing — whatever it is you’ve created — is in bad faith. Thinking in a fusion of our three minds is how humans do naturally think, at any level above the trivial. The questions to ask of any creation are: What’s the dream dimension in this? How good is the forebrain thinking, but also how good is the dream here? Where’s the dance in it, and how good is that? How well integrated are all three; or if there is dissonance, is that productive? And, finally, what larger poem is this one in? Who or what does it honor? Who does it want to kill?”

—Les Murray, “Les Murray, The Art of Poetry No. 89.The Paris Review. Spring 2005, quoted in Alan Jacobs, “The Work of Three Minds.” Snakes & Ladders. June 28, 2019.

More Confounders | Slate Star Codex

“So why did they get such different results from so many earlier studies? In their response to Kripke, they offer a clear answer:

They adjusted for three hundred confounders.

This is a totally unreasonable number of confounders to adjust for. I’ve never seen any other study do anything even close. Most other papers in this area have adjusted for ten or twenty confounders. Kripke’s study adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, marital status, BMI, alcohol use, smoking, and twelve diseases. Adjusting for nineteen things is impressive. It’s the sort of thing you do when you really want to cover your bases. Adjusting for 300 different confounders is totally above and beyond what anyone would normally consider.

Reading between the lines, one of the P&a co-authors was Robert Glynn, a Harvard professor of statistics who helped develop an algorithm that automatically identifies massive numbers of confounders to form a ‘propensity score’, then adjusts for it. The P&a study was one of the first applications of the algorithm on a controversial medical question. It looks like this study was partly intended to test it out. And it got the opposite result from almost every past study in this field.”

—Scott Alexander, “More Confounders.” Slate Star Codex. June 24, 2019.

Open question: Are sleep aids bad for you?

Open question: Are confounders one of the central problems of reproducibility in science?