The Lindy Effect

“The Lindy effect is a theory that the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things like a technology or an idea is proportional to their current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy.[1] Where the Lindy effect applies, mortality rate decreases with time.

-Wikipedia contributors, “Lindy effect,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lindy_effect&oldid=935239146 (accessed January 12, 2020).

Ferming

Everything the body needs.

Open Questions: Will agriculture by fundamentally transformed in the next decade? And if so, what are the likely health implications?

We are on the cusp of the biggest economic transformation, of any kind, for 200 years. While arguments rage about plant- versus meat-based diets, new technologies will soon make them irrelevant. Before long, most of our food will come neither from animals nor plants, but from unicellular life. After 12,000 years of feeding humankind, all farming except fruit and veg production is likely to be replaced by ferming: brewing microbes through precision fermentation. This means multiplying particular micro-organisms, to produce particular products, in factories.”

-George Monbiot, “Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet.” The Guardian. January 8, 2020.

“We are on the cusp of the deepest, fastest, most consequential disruption in food and agricultural production since the first domestication of plants and animals ten thousand years ago. This is primarily a protein disruption driven by economics. The cost of proteins will be five times cheaper by 2030 and 10 times cheaper by 2035 than existing animal proteins, before ultimately approaching the cost of sugar. They will also be superior in every key attribute – more nutritious, healthier, better tasting, and more convenient, with almost unimaginable variety. This means that, by 2030, modern food products will be higher quality and cost less than half as much to produce as the animal-derived products they replace.”

-Catherine Tubb & Tony Seba, “Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030.” RethinkX. September 2019.

Hear My No

“‘No’ is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.”

-Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence, quoted in Mark Frauenfelder, “Protect yourself from violence.” Book Freak, No. 40. December 31, 2019.

“If you tell someone ten times that you don’t want to talk to him, you are talking to them—nine more times than you wanted to.”

—ibid.

Sucking Black Holes

“Avoid sucking black holes of negativity in your newsroom and your writing life. They will bring you down with them…

…”There will be some people in every newsroom who create a whirling vortex of negativity,” she told her students.

“They spend their time and energy (and yours) complaining, criticizing, blaming and spitting bile. Avoid them at all costs. Their cynical aura may at first seem seductive. But don’t be fooled. They will suck the life and energy out of you—like vampires. Stand back. Be warned. Run for your life. They are vampires. And once they suck you into their dark world, you become one, too. Twenty years from now, you’ll still be sitting in the corner of the same newsroom, spitting bile and looking for your own new recruits.”

—Christine Martin quoted in Chip Scanlon, “#15 A Page a Day, The Iceberg Theory of Writing, John Branch on Believing In What You Write, The Loneliness of Writing.” Chip in Your Inbox. January 3, 2020.

See also Hoodoos and Psychic Vampires.

A Page A Day = A Book A Year

“Lately, I’ve been following a dictum I first heard from writing coach Donald M. Murray. “A page a day,” he said, “is a book a year.”As the author of more than a dozen books, Murray knew what he was talking about. A double-spaced page of prose is 250 words. Multiply that by 365 days and you could produce 91,250 words in 2020. Give yourself vacation time and days off and you can still generate enough copy for the writing project you’ve been putting off, a body of work that you can revise.  A page a day is doable as I’ve learned over the past month, and it’s not uncommon to double that. My resolution is to keep it up. Perhaps it will work for you.”

—Donald M. Murray quoted in Chip Scanlon, “#15 A Page a Day, The Iceberg Theory of Writing, John Branch on Believing In What You Write, The Loneliness of Writing.” Chip in Your Inbox. January 3, 2020

Chip Scanlon’s newsletter is pure gold.

Abdiel's Party

“In my case, I found that my interest was most vividly caught by the meaning of the temptation-and-fall theme. Suppose that the prohibition on the knowledge of good and evil were an expression of jealous cruelty, and the gaining of such knowledge an act of virtue? Suppose the Fall should be celebrated and not deplored? As I played with it, my story resolved itself into an account of the necessity of growing up, and a refusal to lament the loss of innocence. The end of human life, I found myself saying, was not redemption by a non-existent Son of God, but the gaining and transmission of wisdom. Innocence is not wise, and wisdom cannot be innocent, and if we are going to do any good in the world we have to leave childhood behind.”

-Phillip Pullman, “The Sound and the Story Exploring the World of Paradise Lost.” The Public Domain Review. December 11, 2019.

I read Milton’s Paradise Lost over two decades ago. And while I loved it, my interest was most vividly caught by the scene of Abdiel, a single voice among the infinite host of the rebelling angels, who rose up to answer Satan’s arguments, and stood alone against him:

"Among the faithless, faithful only hee;
Among innumerable false, unmov'd,
Unshak'n, unseduc'd, unterrifi'd
His Loyaltie he kept, his Love, his Zeale;
Nor number, nor example with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind
Though single. From amidst them forth he passd,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he susteind
Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught;
And with retorted scorn his back he turn'd
On those proud Towrs to swift destruction doom'd."

Everyone imagines that they would stand up, as Abdiel did, against the mob in the cause of what is right. Everyone wants to believe that they are, or could be, the guy who refused to join in the Nazi salute:

But, maybe there can be only one. Or, they are only few and far between. Like the appearance of a Buddha or a Bodhisatva living in limbo, trying to save everyone.

I like to imagine that Abdiel, in a scene not in Paradise Lost, arguing against God, his Son and the heavenly Host about throwing Satan and the other rebelling angels into Hell, and just as he resisted the rebelling angels, he remained as the only rebelling angel in Heaven, a loyal Opposition.

Note: Standard Ebooks has a good epub edition of Paradise Lost. There is also a BBC Paradise Lost audio drama from 1993 available via Archive.org.

How to Play in Secret [or Not]

“If you’re somewhere with a lot of people around, chances are one of them is playing something secret. If that seems unlikely at first, just look through one of many threads where people share the weird little games they play in their heads.”

-Holly Gramazio, “How to Play in Secret.” Wellcome Collection. December 5, 2019.

I like the idea of playing games in public. One I read about awhile ago was trying to do reverse pick-pocketing, where you try to drop a quarter in someone else’s pocket without them noticing you doing it. And, of course, there’s playing games in public, such as a game of tag that can happen at any time and on your way to work. Check out some of the other suggestions of the Cacophony Society.