Russell Conjugation

“Sentence 1: I am firm.

Sentence 2: You are obstinate.

Sentence 3: He/She/It is pigheaded.

-Bertrand Russell, quoted in David Perell, “News in the Age of Abundance.” Perell.com. February 4, 2020.

“Most people will have a positive emotion to the first sentence, a mild reaction to the second, and a negative reaction to the third. Likewise, writers can vary the meaning of their words by changing the length or structure of their sentences. Once their words are set in print, they can enhance their messaging with images that manipulate the reader’s emotions.”

ibid.

Many if not most people form their opinions based solely on whatever [Emotive] Conjugation is presented to them and not on the underlying facts.

Most words and phrases are actually defined not by a single dictionary description, but rather two distinct attributes:

 1. The factual content of the word or phrase.

2. The emotional content of the construction.

-Eric Weinstein, ibid.

Books as Time Capsules

“Saving clippings this way turns each book into a time capsule. The next time I open one of these books, a paper treasure will fall out. A little surprise for my future self. (Or whoever else cracks it open.)”

Austin Kleon, “How to turn your books into time capsules.” AustinKleon.com. January 29, 2020.

Strangely, this even works when the time capsules are part of the creative product. I remember enjoying Ship of Theseus, largely for the meta-story and ephemera in the margins and added to the book. And, it also works when reading my own marginalia, years later. Adding clippings seems like a natural extension to capture the cultural moment.

The Internet of Beefs

“We are not beefing endlessly because we do not desire peace or because we do not know how to engineer peace. We are beefing because we no longer know who we are, each of us individually, and collectively as a species. Knight and mook alike are faced with the terrifying possibility that if there is no history in the future, there is nobody in particular to be once the beefing stops.

And the only way to reboot history is to figure out new beings to be. Because that’s ultimately what beefing is about: a way to avoid being, without allowing time itself to end.

Venkatesh Rao, “The Internet of Beefs.” ribbonfarm.com. January 16, 2020.

I found this to be a very interesting touchstone for understanding the cultural moment.

Xenobots | Living Robots

“Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam…’They are living, programmable organisms.’…Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls, the scientists say.”

—Ian Sample, “Researchers foresee myriad benefits for humanity, but also acknowledge ethical issues.” The Guardian. January 13, 2020.

What could possibly go wrong? Also: xenobots.

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.