Shut Out or Shut In

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.”

—C.G. Jung

People like to tell the same stories, over and over again. The truth of those stories is changed, imperceptibly, in each telling. Our identities are a lacquer, painted on by the stories we tell ourselves and others.

Identity accrual and world building are our principal occupations. I’m this and that, signaling to society my tribe and allegiances. One thing that seems less common is people capable of admitting that they were wrong or made a mistake. It’s partly because doing so means we are open to change. Or, our connections with the rest of the world are open to reconfiguration. And people really don’t want that from themselves, or from others.

People want consistency. They want to be right. It’s difficult to be these things in a world that is always changing and where we make decisions with imperfect information.

Easier to misremember that we were right all the time, adding on another layer of our identity. Brittle, but bright.

World Views & Alternative Realities

I keep seeing a disconnect between how I view and how other people view the world. For example, there are members of Republican Party in the state and local governments that think that the coronavirus pandemic is largely over and that we are about to see a huge economic resurgence that is going to sweep President Trump, and by extension the Republican Party into office.

Another is the speed in which a vaccine will be produced for the pandemic. The historical rate for vaccines is roughly ten years. The fastest it has ever been done is for Ebola, which still took five years. However, there are people that think that a coronavirus vaccine will be available inside of one year, in addition to those that think is is gone already.

I, on the other hand, think that the pandemic will last two years, at minimum. We may have a few treatments that reduce the severity at some point in the disease progression, but it’ll cut the infection fatality rate from 1% to no less than 0.5%. And while it continues, there is going to be Great Depression impacts on the economies of the vast majority of the world’s economies, >90%. Obviously, this has important implications in the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections. With one view, Trump has re-election in the bag. In my view, he’s already toast.

We have roughly six months, and we will see whose world view was the correct one.

The Primary Human Problem

Note: This is why I published the Zuihitsu post yesterday. Trying to pack these ideas into a coherent essay is something I’m going to have to work on before it takes on a useful shape.

At the center of human problems are two facts:

  1. Most people are good.
  2. Most people are also self-centered, lazy and stubborn.

It’s difficult to think. It’s difficult to do the right thing, when it isn’t obvious. It’s difficult to be anything, when there is nothing to strive for.

What the world lacks in meaning, it makes up for in alienation. What cannot be understood is cursed with incomprehension. The incomprehsible is invisibile, nonexistent. Our thoughts are abbreviated versions of the totality of our being.

But, our thoughts both rarely change and are constantly changing. Cycling through the well-worn pathways, but the routes are static, nuchanging. Societies break these chains, evolve only as a function of generational replacement. New ideas gain currency as they are embraced by new generations creating new pathways. But, the new isn’t necessarily worse than the old. It’s just that no one is worse than the people we were yesterday, or the generation before.

No one wants advice. They want corraboration. Advice is useless. The wise won’t need it, and fools won’t heed it. And, even for the wise, when under stress, everyone will regress. Easier to judge, since changing patterns of thinking is difficult, and in the wrong light anyone can look like a villian. And, in the wrong environment, anyone can be the villian.

Look at the miscalculation. Mistakes are often as revealing as the answers. They reveal the limits and heirarchies of our social environment and of our vision, of what was and what could of been. But, who’s to blame?

If you are looking for absolution, you are going to have to forgive yourself. No one can do it for you. Sometimes, it’s impossible. There are some arenas so corrupt that the only good act is to burn them to the ground. Some problems require surgery. People are gods of ruins and disfigurement.

Find nourishment where you can. Tell the truth, without shame, with heart. Focus on nourishment over poison. Live on the precipice. You can still love something and see its flaws. You cannot dichotomize things that are deeply connected, and often, the flawed part is what makes love possible. It provides the vulnerability that leads to intimacy.

We are all here for our own reasons. What’s important is that we came.

Zuihitsu: 2017-01-01 to 2020-06-15

I’ve been collecting little ideas and sayings for the last few years. It’s turned into a fairly large list. I’ve wanted to incorporate them into a series of essays on various topics, but it is an unruly mass of ideas.

However, today, I was reading Warren Ellis’ newsletter that referred to a blog post on Zuihitsu:

Zuihitsu is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings. The name is derived from two Kanji meaning “at will” and “pen.” The provenance of the term is ultimately Chinese… the native reading of which is fude ni shitagau (“follow the brush”). Thus works of the genre should be considered not as traditionally planned literary pieces but rather as casual or randomly recorded thoughts by the authors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuihitsu

“I have long had the notion that zuihitsu is, in fact, the sort of writing that weblog software best enables. That these are not diaries but fragments. Zuihitsu and fragment writing has fascinated me for a long time. I created the jotter category here to try and give myself permission for ‘casual or randomly recorded thoughts.'”

-Warren Ellis, “Zuihitsu: Or, Follow The Brush.” WarrenEllis.ltd. August 6, 2019

And, it occurs to me that these really should have been a large part of this blog, all along: a little snippet with some commentary in response. So, in interest of clearing the decks, here’s a list of what could have been.

  • The 90% Rule: Sturgeon’s law that 90% of everything is crap
  • The 40% Rule: When you think you are done, you are only 40% done. -David Goggins
  • Over tea, Jiro Ono, the sushi master, told him that he had remained doubtful of his own skills up until he was 50. Redzepi said that the conversation made him realize that “everything is a stepping stone. I need to continue to learn like I’m a nobody, because I know we have had success, but I still feel like a phony.”-Rene Redzipi of Noma
  • “When people can’t control their own emotions, they have to control someone else’s behavior.” -John Cleese quoting Robyn Skynner
  • All we have to do is choose between pleasant sense contacts and the end of dukkha. That one choice determines our lives. —Ayya Khema, Be an Island, pg. 29.
  • Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.
  • Be first. Move and a way will open. Follow the accident; fear the set plan.
  • Evolution is defined by small changes.
  • Choose: hard over easy, more options over less, action over planning, small over large, strange over the familiar, puzzles over facts.
  • Find a way to make it interesting.
  • Know the difference between important and unimportant. Give in on the unimportant.
  • No effort is lost or wasted.
  • Start by assuming it’s not true.
  • The 90% Rule: 90% of everything is crap
  • No one owes you anything.
  • *Never apologize. Never explain. Never complain.
  • Autonomy before all else.
  • Avoid learning too many lessons.
  • Don’t go through life wanting to be liked.
  • Demons hate fresh air.
  • Avoid politics and the multitude of irrelevant struggles designed to channel your energies into someone else’s agenda.
  • “Look into the future and imagine the worst-case scenarios you may have to deal with. From there, do what you can to prevent your nightmarish visions from becoming a reality.”
  • “It is the man who creates the principles,” he wrote. “The principles shouldn’t kill the man.” —Frantz Fanoz
  • My problems are my problems, other people’s problems are their problems.
  • An investment is something that has intrinsic value – that is, it would be worth owning from a financial perspective, even if you could never sell it.
  • Experience the familiar in new ways.
  • Trying is lying.
  • Anything sufficiently weird is fishy.
  • You can start the fire, but you cannot control how it burns.
  • Reason is a slave to the passions.
  • People / places, twenty-five.
  • Selective ignorance is necessary if we wish to improve.
  • Avoid psychic vampires, the stupid, and the unlucky.
  • I’m like Keith Richards, happy to be anywhere.
  • If you are open and perceptive, there’s just an incredible mystery behind every little thing.
  • Find a balance between survival and the sublime.
  • Once revealed, never concealed.
  • …a life without explanation.
  • Finish every day and be done with it.
  • Relentlessly prune bullshit, don’t wait to do things that matter, and savor the time you have.
  • …the first step towards becoming a writer is becoming a reader, but the next step is becoming a reader with a pencil.
  • …everything is political. Choose a side or get out of the game. Do the latter.
  • Pole pole, slowly in Swahili
  • I don’t do X.
  • ..we come to understand a place by wanting to escape it.
  • …before and after is just another false binary.
  • Everything seems stupid when it fails.
  • It is the nature of bad news to spread, and once it was out, it was out forever.
  • It was always dangerous when the universe fell down in a pattern where the thing you wanted and the wise path were the same.
  • Power requires neither permission nor forgiveness.
  • Recognition, no condemnation and change.
  • Eat the frog first. Do the thing you don’t want to do before anything else.
  • The law of the jungle appeals most to people that don’t live in the jungle.
  • If you want to swim in the river, you need to learn to live with the crocodiles.
  • One and one sometimes make eleven.
  • Certainty is for people with nothing on the line.
  • There’s no happily ever afters, just new battles.
  • When people show you who they are, believe them.
  • Control information, control the world.
  • Categorizing a continuum blinds you to how similar or different two things are. Boundaries segment a complete picture.
  • As long as your learning you’re not failing.
  • Being bored is repetition, when what we are doing offers no surprise.
  • Better to be the only than the best.
  • The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.
  • Do the harder thing when it’s the right thing to do.
  • A millionaire is made ten bucks at a time.
  • Emotions are best checked with antecedent reappraisal, the essence of cognitive behavior therapy.
  • Habituate yourself to less.
  • “Maybe” can be a powerful motivator, if it seems like a good risk.
  • Never identify with your virtue.
  • Words have power.
  • Paradox of tolerance.
  • Trust individuals, not organizations.
  • Water will wear away stone, but it won’t cook supper. Everything has its own strengths.
  • Either control yourself or control other people. The first is easier.
  • Faulty assumptions lead to faulty actions.
  • Control the controllable.
  • Politeness isn’t the same as being respectful, or being kind.
  • The point is, there is no point. Choose your own.
  • The playground for madness is vast.
  • The personal cost of power is peace and integrity. For those without either, it’s an easy exchange.
  • Tough on self, easy on others.
  • Lose your views.
  • Don’t rush to judgment.
  • Believe in your ability to follow through, especially when you don’t feel like it.
  • Be the mother of the world.
  • Treat everyone with respect.
  • Laugh at yourself.
  • Be able to apologize.
  • The real is never ideal.
  • Play the long game.
  • Ideas travel in packs.
  • Escape is the purest form of resistance.
  • The internet makes dumb people dumber and smart people smarter.
  • Choosing the right X for the job is part of the art of Y.
  • The past is a foreign country.
  • Powerful, flexible, or easy. Pick one.
  • Pain is our teacher.
  • Now is all we have. —Deleen, Babylon 5
  • Finish it.
  • There is a time and a place for everything and its called: localhost.
  • It’s the hard part that gets in the way.
  • Worry is preposterous. We don’t know enough to worry.
  • Surface, deep, or murky middle. Choose one.
  • It takes great courage to keep your softness in a hard world.
  • The world is more interesting with x in it.
  • “Why don’t you just x for 30 days and see if your life gets better?
  • Broken heart + empty pocket + failures = success.
  • Most people will go their entire lives without anyone ever asking them what they think about something. Ask and listen.
  • Clear writing reflects clear thinking.
  • Meaning, mastery and autonomy.
  • Transience is what makes human life or the moment precious.
  • The lightly burdened shall be saved.
  • At the narrow passage, there is no brother and no friend.
  • …sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.
  • Happiness = Reality – Expectations
  • Comparison is a thief.
  • Rehearse a refusal to be harsh. Kindness is a language too.
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • “[K]eep your critical path as small and independent as possible.
  • [R]each out, touch a hand, make a friend if you can.
  • Encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere.”
  • The market can stay insane longer than you can stay solvent.
  •  Be where being right, rather than being approved of, is rewarded. 
  • Keep it yours, clearly and directly.
  • Professionals produce.
  • 90-90-1 rule, first 90 minutes for 90 days on your most important project
  • You pays your money, you takes your choice.
  • There is a price tag for everything.
  • Don’t look for good or bad guys, there aren’t any.
  • When considering a new technology, “ask of every piece of technology a single question: What problem was it solving?”
  • Less faith in stuff and more faith in yourself.
  • Equality is the basis for a free society. —Elizabeth Anderson
  • If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask: Why can’t I do this in 6 months? —Peter Thiel
  • The World runs on categorizations that reduce reality to acceptable representations.
  • To fight injustice anywhere is to fight injustice everywhere. —Kung fu
  • When a man has nothing, then it is easiest to pull himself up. —Kung fu
  • Seek not to understand the answers but to understand the questions. —Kung fu
  • The undiscerning mind is like the root of the tree, it absorbs equally everything it touches, even the poison that would kill it. —Kung fu
  • Error is the price we pay for progress. —Alfred North Whitehead
  • It is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true…But of course a true proposition is more apt to be interesting than a false one. —Alfred North Whitehead
  • Evil can not be conquered within this world. It can only be resisted in oneself. —Kung fu, Master Po
  • Time is carving you…Let yourself be shaped according to your true nature.—Kung fu
  • No man knows fear until fear comes to him.—Kung fu
  • Being puzzled is the beginning of the path of wisdom.—Kung fu
  • The way to do is to be.—Kung fu
  • Do you seek love or barter? If I love others and they do not love me, I will feel great pain. That is what you risk grasshopper, great pain or great joy.—Kung fu
  • Doesn’t tomorrow begin now?—Kung fu
  • Each act can be an act of improvement.—Kung fu
  • Victory or defeat. Isn’t the true value what one does with either?—Kung Fu
  • A person in three things: what he thinks he is, what others think he is and what he really is. —Kung Fu
  • Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything.
  • To be violent is to be weak. Violence has no mind. Isn’t it wiser to seek a man’s love than to desire his defeat? —Kung Fu
  • The more we learn to shut our mind-door to the negativities that disturb our inner peace, the easier our life becomes. —Ayya Khema in Be an Island, chapter, “Controlling one’s mind.”
  • Reinvent yourself.
  • Look beyond yourself to what is real, in yourself and others.—Kung Fu
  • Perfection is an illusion, as are the standards by which we measure it.—Kung Fu
  • He who attacks must vanquish. He who defends must merely survive.—Kung Fu
  • People have the right to choose their enemies and their friends.—Kung Fu
  • Honor dies where interests lie. —Kung Fu
  • Evil is part of us trying to get what we need. All we need to do is turn to face it and choose.—Kung Fu
  • Life is long.—Kung Fu
  • No man can give himself away.—Kung Fu
  • Sometimes it is necessary to lose to win.—Kung Fu
  • Every person has his yes and his no.—Kung Fu
  • Not to understand another person’s purpose does not make them confused.—Kung Fu
  • The mind is free to create its own demons or guardians.—Kung Fu
  • Worrying is not preparation.—Jeffrey Tambor
  • “You wanna have a good life? Work, love, and thrive with people who get you.”—Jeffrey Tambor
  • “If you’re any good, you’re going to be fired.”—Jeffrey Tambor
  • “Take what you need and leave the rest.”—A.A and The Band
  • Failure fortifies us. It moves us forward.—Nick Cave
  • Constraints can foster creativity.
  • Look for the idea after the idea.
  • Most people die of adrenaline poisoning.
  • You cannot do good until you feel good. —Timothy Leary
  • Who is the one who is living me now?
  • Keep the lasagna flying.—RAW
  • “You can change yourself as easily as you change the channel on a TV.”—Timothy Leary
  • Nobody knows enough to be 100% wrong.
  • There is merit in withholding information as well as disclosing it.—Ted Chiang, The Merchant and the Alchemist Gate
  • Four things do not come back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life and the neglected opportunity.—Ted Chiang, The Merchant and the Alchemist Gate
  • Coincidence and intention are two sides of a tapestry, my lord. You may find one more agreeable to look at, but you cannot say one is true and the other false.—Ted Chiang, The Merchant and the Alchemist Gate
  • Art is anything that’s better than it needs to be.”—Frank Chimero
  • “Culture is everything we don’t have to do.”—Brian Eno
  • Look for the Beauty Within the Most Frightening
  • Adversity presents itself in many forms; and that if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.—A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • [I]magining what might happen if one’s circumstances were different [is] the only sure route to madness.—A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • The wise man celebrates what he can.—A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • There’s virtue in withholding judgment.
  • By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration— and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.
  • Trust that life will find you, in time. For eventually, it finds us all.
  • A person should attend closely to life and should not attend too closely to the clock.
  • Unlike adults, children want to be happy.
  • When Fate hands something down to posterity, it does so behind its back.
  • One must make ends meet or meet one’s end.
  • In the end, it is the inconveniences that matter most.
  • The surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness.
  • Our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of supreme lucidity—a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of a bold new life that we had been meant to lead all along.
  • The opposite of spiritual is egotistical.
  • The only real apology is corrected behavior.
  • Connect with and subjectify The Other.
  • Have a greater fear of not living life than of anything you might encounter.
  • Every decision you make in life sends you off down a path that could turn out to be the wrong one.
  • Forcing something, whether a shit, song or a relationship, never gets the best results.
  • Let a person be who they are. If they do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or doesn’t work for you, tell them. If they don’t or can’t adjust, and it doesn’t bother you too much, ignore it. If it does bother you, leave.
  • Finding another person to love is finding another person to lose.
  • Sometimes the key arrives before the lock.
  • The worst four words in the English language are, “We need to talk.”
  • Love is in the eye of the beholder.
  • You should always call a person when you think of them.
  • You shall know the truth and the truth will make you odd.
  • Sometimes life needs a bit of a nudge to live up to our expectations.
  • No one comes through life clean.
  • Truth is splintered.
  • Autonomy or intimacy. Pick one.
  • You cannot put sight into blind eyes.
  • Average individuals are ill-equipped to decide for themselves.
  • When you enter 50 you begin turning the carpets of your life in order to finish.
  • Go to church because it is beautiful, not to pray.
  • Words may not carry weapons, but they wound the heart.
  • Meditation means to become familiar with.
  • If we have a good heart and helpful intentions toward others, we will find happiness.
  • The more attached we are to our possessions and relationships in the world, the more important and necessary we think they are, the more pain we experience when they cease to be.
  • Spiritual practice doesn’t require austere conditions, only a good heart and an understanding of impermanence. This will lead to progress.
  • An effective way to uphold good heart in our daily interactions is to repeatedly remind ourselves that every being has, at some time in our many lifetimes been our parent.
  • Wake and be thankful for another day. Resolve to help others. Before going to bed, evaluate. Ask, “How did I do?”
  • There is no place where prayer is not heard.
  • Opportunity, impermanence.
  • Human beings, viewed as behaving systems, are quite simple. The apparent complexity of our behavior over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves.
  • A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.
  • Early refusal creates lasting desire.
  • Consumer preferences at scale mean that only the most average things are produced.
  • Boundary-breaking art is rarely appreciated in its own time.
  • Whatever comes together must fall apart, what was once gathered must separate, whoever was born must die. Continuous and relentless change defines our world.
  • Reformulate existing theories. It’s by finding new ways of describing known phenomena that you can escape the trap of provisional or limited belief.
  • No mourners, no funerals.
  • When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.
  • You can’t train a falcon, and expect it not to hunt.
  • There’s always more to lose.
  • It doesn’t matter how big the gun is if they don’t know where to point it.
  • Little can be achieved without considerable investment of effort.
  • Give it five minutes.
  • Unauthorized views are punished with incomprehension.
  • Humans have a hypertrophic instinct for consensus.
  • We deal daily with a wild torrent of what claims to be information but is often nonsense.
  • When we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend to substitute emotions for thoughts.—T.S.Eliot
  • To think, to dig into the foundations of our beliefs, is a risk, and perhaps a tragic risk. There are no guarantees that it will makes us happy or even give us satisfaction.
  • Scoring a discussion by counting in converts.
  • Be willing to be broken on the floor, i.e., change your mind in the moment of discussion.
  • True loyalty between individuals is possible only in a loose and relatively free society.
  • Genuine community is open to questioning from people of good will.
  • Speak your heart’s truth.
  • Do what you want, just know what you’re doing.
  • Change can only come from within.
  • The life of the mind always requires triage, the sorting of the valuable from the less valuable, the usable from the unusable, and in conditions of information overload we start looking for reasons to rule things out.
  • Less pressure + hard choices = Max delay.
  • We cannot make progress intellectually or socially until some issues are no longer up for grabs.
  • If you cannot imagine changing your mind about some topic, you are a fanatic about it.
  • Navigating social worlds requires an ability to code switch.
  • The same rules apply to self-examination as apply to auricular confession: Be brief, be blunt, be gone.”
  • One can be singular among the plural and plural among the singular.
  • A lot of human behaviors are—to be blunt—moronic.
  • Ask if a statement is unkind, unfair, or untrue.
  • We’ll ever only be as strong as our biggest fool.
  • Work like a scientist but present like a snake-charmer. —Mike Monteiro
  • Fuck you. Pay me. —Mike Monteiro
  • Don’t shout or yell at small children…With little kids, you often think they’re pushing your buttons, but that’s not what’s going on. They’re upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is.
  • Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones?
  • Do the people you care about love you back?
  • Tell the truth, without shame, and with heart.
  • Art is the inventory of the missing.
  • Life only avails, not the having lived.
  • Don’t learn to code, learn to automate.
  • True creativity starts where language ends.
  • The meaning of life is that it ends.
  • All photographs are momento mori.
  • Lies are a precious currency—you have to be careful of where and how to spend them.
  • Think twice, write once.
  • Sometimes the lie is kinder than the truth.
  • “Let truth reign, even if the world should perish.” —Schopenhauer
  • A messy mortal is my friend. Come walk with me in the mud. —Hugh Prather
  • Reality is blobby. It refuses to be systematized.
  • Make sure bad actions have no echo. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t do it again.
  • You can love something and still see its flaws.
  • Longing for something you cannot have will destroy you.
  • Wring magic from the ordinary.
  • Antisociality encourages self-sufficiency.
  • Secrets are psychic poison.
  • The gospel is, in many ways, whatever gets people into the door to receive whatever blessings you have to offer.
  • Chicago is a city that never lets you walk alone.
  • There isn’t a place for people like us. We’ll have to make our own.
  • Who is going to be brave enough to ask where home is, and seek out something else if they don’t like the answer?
  • Nothing dehumanizes you like having your pain dismissed.
  • It’s OK to be a headache, never a bore.
  • There are few sins greater than the ones we commit against ourselves in the name of others.
  • Set your own standards.
  • Paranoid attention to detail, both up and downside.
  • If, I’m fucked.
  • There are few people more objectionable than the person you were until recently.
  • Write your goals down on paper.
  • “What do you despise? By this are you truly known.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune
  • Getting what you want fucks you up.
  • One data point is the same as none.
  • We are all here for our own reasons. What they are isn’t as important as the fact that we came.
  • *You always have three options. You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it.
  • You take care of your tools, and your tools take care of you.
  • Similar pressures yield similar solutions.
  • No input, no output.
  • We carry all of our fears in our luggage.
  • Prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised.
  • Wars don’t end in defeat but reconciliation.
  • Life is risk.
  • Make an agenda for yourself and no one else.
  • Don’t make decisions out of fear or shame.
  • Judge by actions, not words.
  • Power means policy.
  • When you go too far too fast, your soul takes time to catch up.
  • Slide the slide.
  • Keep the feedback loops loose, i.e., give it time to sit.
  • Assholes will use subversive tactics to gain a competitive advantage. Don’t be an asshole.
  • People are generally not inclined, or well equipped, to cede power and influence.
  • Quick to give credit and slow to place blame.
  • Replace criticism with your feelings.
  • Replace you always /never with I always / never.
  • Own your mistakes.
  • Complement and defend those who aren’t in the room.
  • Find small ways to set yourself up for incremental success.
  • Know your exits.
  • Everybody wants to rule the herd.
  • You cannot see anything clearly when you are inside it.
  • Sell what you would buy.
  • There’s no love like affectionate love.
  • Wisdom acquisition is a moral duty.
  • Flip the script. Try the inverse.
  • Don’t drift into extreme ideology.
  • Avoid self-serving bias.
  • Avoid envy, resentment, revenge and self-pity are disastrous modes of thought.
  • If you want to persuade, appeal to interest not to reason.
  • Look for disconfirming evidence.
  • Checklists help to avoid errors.
  • If you are behind in your commitments to other people, work 14 hour days until caught up.
  • Every missed chance is an opportunity to behave well and learn something.
  • Relationships should be based on a seamless web of deserved trust.
  • “Luck” is the point where preparation meets opportunity.
  • Soften self-judgment.
  • A good knife wants to cut you.
  • You don’t get to hate it unless you love it.
  • The psychotic drowns where the mystic swims.
  • Go from fuck me to fuck you.
  • Details layer.
  • If your ark is about to sink, look to the elephants first. —Vilfredo Pareto
  • The job of the writer is not to solve the problem, but to state the problem correctly.—Chekhov
  • People do not engage in rhetoric to change their own ideas, but to build coalitions with other people.
  • You never lie (except when necessary.)
  • Don’t repeat yourself.
  • Do whatever seems like the intuitive next thing and see what happens.
  • * Don’t litigate the obvious.
  • The secret to success really is making a plan and sticking to it.
  • Slow people must turn out.
  • Search for ordinary people affected by it and to bear witness to their experiences.
  • Make it seem hard, but not be hard.
  • Talk is cheap, but listening is expensive.
  • One person’s offcut is another person’s revealing nugget.
  • A shrug is often the more appropriate response than a howl.
  • Divert and subvert.
  • Everything looks different depending on the distance from which you are viewing.
  • Specificity overrides vagueness.
  • The other side of alienation is freedom.
  • Happiness can be an escape.
  • Tight is right, long is wrong.
  • Be minimalist, multilateral and Machiavellian. 
  • Write the script beforehand.
  • Try easier.
  • I was clowning then, I’m still clowning now.
  • Learn to think before you learn to fight.
  • Etiquette/courtesy is cheap.
  • Life is a tragedy, left behind by those that pass away, not able to change anything at all.
  • Evidence outweighs testimony.
  • Disasters are the fevers of the world.
  • There’s little profit in doing difficult technical work!
  • Meaning is more important than fun.
  • Forgetting is the greatest source of freedom a person can have.
  • * You don’t need internet shit, and you don’t need crazytown.
  • Don’t have friends who are cowards.
  • Easier to protect your feet with slippers than carpet the whole earth.
  • Universal acceptance exists when imagination fails.
  • Utopia spawns few warriors.
  • Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
  • Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
  • Be generous.
  • Build pockets of stillness into your life.
  • When people tell you who they are, believe them. When people tell you who you are, don’t believe them.
  • Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
  • Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.
  • Seek out what magnifies the spirit.
  • Don’t be afraid to be an idealist.
  • Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively.
  • Question your maps and models of the universe, both inner and outer, and continually test them against the raw input of reality.
  • There are infinity many kinds of beautiful lives.
  • In any bond of depth and significance, forgive, forgive, and forgive. And then forgive again.
  • Memories are interpretations, not truth.
  • It’s the bad gods who always have the most beautiful faces and softest voices.
  • People overvalue argument because they like to hear themselves talk.
  • There is never a scarcity of idiots.
  • A guilty system recognizes no innocents.
  • Better to try and fail than not to try.
  • A mind that is not baffled is not employed.
  • You don’t need to light yourself on fire to keep others warm.
  • A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only expressing his opinion.
  • Real wealth is never having to spend time with assholes. —John Waters
  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should and just because it’s comfortable, doesn’t meant it’s good.
  • Sucking at something is the first step at being kinda sorta good at something. —Jake the dog.
  • The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shall not give up.
  • Ignore evidence-free arguments.
  • Embrace discomfort.
  • You only learn by doing.
  • Infinite options are the same as none.
  • Polling is astrology for nerds.
  • Too much honesty is the haven for idoicy.
  • Things quickly decay and become useless.
  • Whatever you hate will hate you back.
  • Yelling makes it worse.
  • We make our own problems.
  • We’re amongst strangers, all alone in the darkness.
  • Art without engineering is dreaming. Engineering without art is calculating.
  • Repetition legitimizes.
  • Growth happens in darkness, in the new and unknown.
  • Common sense is acting on a worldview held in common.
  • Where there is muck, there is brass, i.e., unpleasant work pays.
  • Make something people want.
  • Make things you can keep in your pocket.
  • A jester is not incapable of praise.
  • The only way people change is in relation to somebody who loves them.
  • Know what the other person brings to the table.
  • Secret and private are not the same.
  • Act on principles, own the assets and do it on your own authority.
  • Stupidity is often having too few ideas rather than the wrong ones.
  • All you need is two weirdos and a plan.
  • Planning is overrated.
  • Beat down conformist reflexes and embrace your inner weirdo.
  • Leave the world a weirder place.
  • Remove the bulge in the carpet.
  • Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.
  • Burn before reading.
  • Witness is not meaning-making so much as it is meaning-receiving.
  • Discovery, not recovery.
  • There’s a lid for every strange pot.
  • If your enemy’s strategy is hope, you don’t need good tactics.
  • The deeply obscure has its uses.
  • Value is execution dependent.
  • “It is a joy to be hidden, but a disaster not to be found.” —D.W. Winnicott
  • The only thing that is healthy is to be afraid of failure—not afraid of your instincts.
  • Vertical relationships are bad relationships.
  • Rules don’t make good people, but people can make good rules.
  • Eye candy is fashion; eye protein is intrinsic.
  • Once the choice is made, it’s a meaningful choice.
  • We don’t need great governments; we need great citizens.
  • Perfection is a completely suffocating, destructive principle.
  • There’s no such thing as hatred that doesn’t start with the self.
  • Be at piece with everybody’s darkness.
  • The true monsters are human always.
  • Rigidity is the essence of death and suppleness is the essence of life.
  • If you talk but don’t listen, you’re probably a monster.
  • The essential instruments of communication right now are a cell phone, an iPad, and a pitchfork.
  • Information without emotion is useless.
  • Modern culture is all pipeline and content, like oil and sewage.
  • The essence of life is choice, the thing that makes us human is choice. A choice is not to miss, a choice in to embrace; a choice is to enshrine what you want to be. What you want to leave behind.
  • I have two families. I have the family I was born into and gave birth to, and the other family I have is a family of monsters.
  • While we are alive, we are painting. And when we die, death is the curator of our exhibit.
  • Never a good as the dailies, never as bad as the first cut.
  • Every perspective is impoverished in that it is only one among many.
  • Only completed acts have meaning.
  • What is good for tho old monk may not be good for the young novice.
  • Answer to any question: Too early to tell.
  • Make it personal, get (sh)it done, and know why it matters.—Kim Scott in Radical Candor
  • Subvert our own and other people’s shopworn personal realities.
  • Sooner or later, authoritarians will go too far.
  • The most economically powerful thing you can do is to buy something for your own enjoyment that also improves the world.
  • If you are wholly predictable, people learn to hack you.
  • In a spreadsheet, the difference between wrong and early isn’t that big a deal. In an executive summary, it’s enormous.
  • Every system has glitches.
  • Don’t ignore data.
  • Generational replacement is what shifts societial opinion. —​Planck’s Principle
  • What the world lacks in meaning it makes up for in alienation.
  • New uses need old buildings. —Jane Jacobs
  • Slipping schedules rarely change direction.
  • New ideas are fragile, since they originate in the messy madness of intuition and the fringes of society.
  • Golf: drive for show; putt for dough.
  • The child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.
  • Use the day before the day.
  • You cannot revise what has not been written.
  • Unafraid to be bad and willing to make it better.
  • Be generous, be kind, be respectful of people’s time.
  • Take risks to grow.
  • Who loves the apex predator?
  • Wisdom is fungible.
  • Wild is the way.
  • Insist on your right to feel.
  • If you are looking for absolution, you are going to have to forgive yourself.
  • Keep peeling for the pentimento.
  • Full stomach: 1/3 food, 1/3 liquid, and 1/3 air.
  • It’s difficult to be anything when there’s nothing to strive for.
  • An algorithm is just a story we tell ourselves about how we envisage the process in our minds.
  • …to make an end is to make a beginning.—T.S. Eliot
  • Don’t worry about anything, and you’ll be ready for it.
  • Write every email as if it will someday be read back to you in a deposition.
  • What are the symptoms of your sickness?
  • Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge. —Carl Jung
  • Intimacy is inseparable from violation.
  • Objective rules break hearts.
  • Assume good faith until proven otherwise.
  • The problem — the primary human problem — is that people are susceptible, prideful, bullheaded, egotistic, dumbstruck and lazy.
  • The defenders of straight lines and hierarchies and the status quo are everywhere.
  • Be what you are.
  • Just as oral culture privileges honor, digital culture privileges shamelessness.
  • …the content machine is like a blob that eats up more and more of reality. 
  • Polanyi’s Paradox: We can know more than we can tell.
  • …there are a lot of highly educated people who don’t know how to think at all.
  • Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it.
  • Defeat your desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing.
  • Media is just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself.
  • Work hard on something long enough, and you will eventually love it.
  • What’s in work is the opportunity to find yourself.
  • Receivers add value.
  • Walk barefoot through the fields of the mind.
  • Shikinen Sengū, rebuilding something every 20 years to ensure skill transfer.
  • What you are will show in what you do. —Thomas Davidson
  • To be educated by the Internet, you first need to be educated by something other than the Internet.
  • Don’t like, don’t read.
  • Regulation favours the large. 
  • We live in an era of shit floods and chaos tornados.
  • “Don’t attribute to stupidity what can be explained by incentives.” — Mike Elias
  • One does not need to state the obvious.
  • In the wrong light anyone can look like a darkness.
  • There comes a time when you get out of the way and let the future come flooding in.
  • Only those who are privileged to the point of being blind to their own world view can see stories as being (a)political.
  • You can live among giants without being one.
  • In the digital age, all information is misinformation.
  • We need to trust in order to know.
  • Tech isn’t a catalyst; it makes processes more legible.
  • Regulation is sometimes not a sufficient response.
  • Unless it’s absolutely critical, you can leave it and pick it up later.
  • If you don’t like the laws, go where they cannot be enforced.
  • Find out the nature of the task before you choose your tools.
  • Don’t fall for the weakness of weapons.
  • Ontology is crucial to methodology.
  • No universal ever fits the particulars. Corollary: The real world is a special case.
  • You can’t have ethical consumption under capitalism.
  • It’s harder to be kind than clever.
  • Are you resilient enough?
  • Evolution is not an intelligent process.
  • The best way to contribute to a brand-new environment is to try to have a neutral impact, to observe and learn from those who are already there, and to pitch in with grunt work wherever possible.
  • A fresh hand brings hope, and a weak hand doesn’t.
  • Bad bets are part of life.
  • Money doesn’t mean taste.
  • When evading, pop as much junk as possible without breaking pace.
  • There are some arenas so corrupt that the only good act is to burn them to the ground.
  • Take what is offered.
  • There is nothing but flux.
  • Don’t swallow belief patterns whole.
  • The “curse of knowledge” is not being able to imagine not knowing something.
  • If you think you understand something, you don’t.
  • All of us are on borrowed time. There are no refunds, and there are no guarantees.
  • Silence leads to paralysis, and fear bears no fruit.
  • If you pay protection money, you become a mafioso yourself.
  • Every weapon is a hate item.
  • Emphasize with stupidity, and you’re halfway towards thinking like an idiot. —Iain M. Banks, Consider Phelbas
  • Small slips are often the difference between success or failure.
  • If you hear footsteps, assume it’s horses, not zebras.
  • The hazards of power are corruption and complacency.
  • An index is not the text.
  • You aren’t a failure until you start to blame; blaming stops learning.
  • A lot of the time it’s just easier for people to do the thing that’s best for them in some easy-to-conceive-of time frame.
  • Delusion is a necessary tool.
  • Your time and attention is a gift, stop giving it to people who abuse it.
  • The internet incites verbal violence.
  •  “A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.” —Rumi
  • “If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room.”
  • “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
  • Regularize the trivial to cope with the significant.
  • Denial is the ultimate comfort zone.
  • Don’t make habitual, self-limiting choices.
  • Out of 100, 10 shouldn’t be there, 80 are targets, 9 are fighters and 1 is a warrior.
  • Change through study, habit and stories.
  • Doing things, even small things, that make you uncomfortable will help you to become strong.
  • Root your utopia in your experience.
  • Living outside expectations means a lot more work.
  • Always try to understand someone else’s perspective, even if that person is antagonistic, especially if you are at the heart of the conflict.
  • Prove it’s possible and it’s useful.
  • Develop an emotional vocabulary.
  • Minor consequences for failure; major consequences for not trying.
  • All bad things end.
  • Feelings are just feelings.
  • Know why you’re fighting.
  • Suffering is our guru.
  • Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
  • Every failure plants seeds of success.
  • After awhile there’s nothing there but the bottom, all the way down.
  • Love is a lesson in courage.
  • Love, true love, makes possible what was previously impossible.
  • The passing of one to two is a revolution.
  • Love is a creation.
  • If we give up when something gets hard, then we settle for an uninteresting life.
  • All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare. —Baruch Spinoza
  • Push past your normal stopping point.
  • Heart and hard work.
  • Analyze your schedule, kill your empty habits, burn out the bullshit and see what is left.
  • Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.
  • Reduce unknown factors.
  • Be confident in the heart, mind and dialogue of your companions.
  • There is no bigger gift than failure.
  • Entitlement is the enemy.
  • Nothing is more practical than theory.
  • Thinking is led by doing.
  • Freedom for freedom’s sake is just another type of bondage.
  • Take a deep breath, and open your mind a little wider.
  • We have all the time we need.
  • Expand your temporal bandwidth, i.e., the length of time you care about things.
  • Simulations anesthetize people from a hostile world.
  • Talent, ideas and talk are cheap, but discipline, execution, and action are expensive. Choose wisely.
  • The path down the rabbit hole is greased.
  • People also have the right not to know, and it is a much more valuable right than the right to know.
  • Invent the ship; invent the shipwreck.
  • The accident implies a status quo of human control.
  • Say, “No.”
  • Pigeonholes are a substitute for engagement.
  • Character is more important than skills and history.
  • There are two types of people in this world: those that do what they say they are going to do, and everyone else.
  • Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
  • Never conflate your imagination with someone else’s reality.
  • Excellence is its own reward.
  • Loyalty is for the companions who endured and did the right thing.
  • All complex systems have parasites.
  • Image making is sociopathic magic.
  • Anything can happen, but it usually doesn’t. — Robert Benchley
  • The Street finds its own uses for things.
  • Certain events are like a flash of lightning across a landscape.
  • The best of everything emerges from the gaps.
  • You shall know the truth, and it will make you odd. — Flannery O’Connor
  • Coordination may be illusory.
  • We cannot and will not live in and be hogtied by a society which not only has not faith in the things we have faith in, but which reviles and damns that faith with practically every breath it draws.—Jane Vonnegut
  • People are gods of ruins.
  • Wrong answers are worse than no answers.
  • Hope is patience with the lamp lit.—Tertullian
  • All models are wrong, but some are useful. —George Box
  • We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.— Anaïs Nin
  • Conformity is driven by interactions.
  • Question received wisdom; seek and respect sound information.
  • All logical arguments can be defeated by the simple refusal to reason logically.— Steven Weinberg
  • It’s hard to be both famous and good.
  • Understanding is optional; acclimatization is the real necessity.
  • For most questions, a good answer is probably a suggestion, probability or a list — something that does a good job of deferring the why, and not a statement of fact.
  • There is not a theory of everything.
  • Human experience, in general, is prehistory.
  • Our awareness exceeds our empathy.
  • Humans inhabit time.
  • Make sure to leave the party while it is still fun.
  • Don’t bend. Stay strange.—David Bowie
  • Some problems require surgery.
  • If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company. —Jean-Paul Sartre
  • True faith is risk.
  • No one wants advice — only corroboration. —John Steinbeck
  • Never complain. Never explain.
  • Dress for the job; squared away gear, squares your intent too.
  • More intelligence, more doubt.
  • Under stress, people regress.
  • Fetch your mental bolt cutters and escape.
  • Anger is temporary madness.
  • Defining reality for others is a master/slave relationship.
  • Cito, longe, tarde. Leave quickly, go far away, come back slowly.
  • Logic, philosophy and rationality starve the best part of the mind. —William Butler Yeats
  • Read critically, write consciously, speak clearly, and tell your truth.
  • Foresight is imagining possible futures.
  • Disneyland is the American Dream.
  • Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of another’s growth.—Erich Fromm, paraphrased
  • Roll with the gales, get your balance and take another step forward. 
  • The stars are better off without us.
  • What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
  • Be aware of the inevitable limitations of any single epistemic position.
  • Emotions cannot be contractualized.
  • Relationships are founded on personal recognition.
  • Love requires norms and conventions.
  • The best test of a person’s intelligence is their capacity for making a summary.
  • Quit before starting. Avoid projects with no long term value. When starting, decide, in advance, when to quit. Before quitting, make sure to salvage anything of value. In short, know when to say no, and yes.
  • Listen and look around.
  • No problems, no progress.
  • Change is easy after it’s over. The only easy day was yesterday.
  • Adversity reveals character.
  • The right way is the hard way.
  • Paradox reveals psychological truth.
  • Simple and direct gives rise to intelligent behavior. Complex systems give rise to stupid behavior.
  • Laser or general illumination, pick the one right for the job.
  • Privilege feeling over intellect.
  • Be the praying atheist; hope despite your disbelief.
  • The story is not in your head but in your heart.
  • Be quick, but don’t hurry.
  • There is no one right way. But there is a wrong way: not doing anything.
  • An X is someone who Xes.
  • “Talent is a long patience, and originality an effort of will and intense observation.” —Gustave Flaubert
  • Do it every day. Set time to do the thing or do nothing. You’ll want to fill that slot with something else. Don’t.
  • Don’t settle for the first opportunity, first thought, or first anything. It’s rare for the first to be the best.
  • Inside every con man is a mark.
  • Rabbit holes are greased. Check the odds it’s worth exploring.
  • Transhumanism is post-Christian fan fiction.
  • Be for community.
  • Life is best lived on the precipice.
  • The fog of the hyperreal clouds The Real.
  • Moving on means the experience has been mediated.
  • Use tools that promote the interests of those people and communities that use them.
  • Freedom is not doing whatever one pleases without regard for the consequences.
  • Magic lies between fantasy and exact knowledge, drama and technology.
  • Conform the soul to reality, with knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.
  • Follow the path that a decent person inevitably takes.
  • Devices make things easier while simultaneously making them harder to understand. Focal things demand something from you and cultivate skill and mastery. Radio vs. Guitar.
  • Transaction costs and opportunity costs matter.
  • Better to wonder than to know.
  • Ideas of progress and the urge the urge to predict the future both share a common trait, the refusal to accept responsibility for time.
  • Science finds, industry applies, man conforms.—the slogan of the 1933 Chicago fair
  • Crisis and suffering are part and parcel of living, so, be kind.
  • Don’t be the cause of suffering or a savior, just be who you can be.
  • You don’t have creative power over something unless you can destroy it.
  • Nothing comes in many different flavors.
  • You don’t have to be weird to be weird; you don’t have to be strange to be strange.— Mark E. Smith
  • Never give advice for the wise won’t need it and the fool won’t heed it.
  • On the Internet of Things, people are the things.
  • Look for the correct miscalculation, because mistakes are often as revealing as correct answers.
  • Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.—C.G. Jung
  • Hate, in the long run, is about as nourishing as cyanide.—Kurt Vonnegut
  • Don’t give your detractors an audience.
  • Creativity is the child of knowledge.
  • All knowledge degenerates into probability.— David Hume
  • You can refute 40 claims with one fact, but you can’t beat one idiot with 40 facts.
  • A riot is the language of the unheard.—MLK
  • “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”—C.S. Lewis
  • In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas.”—Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Life is hardly more than a fraction of a second. Such a little time to prepare oneself for eternity!—Paul Gauguin
  • Be fundamentally more invested in finding nourishment rather than identifying poison.
  • Mutual dependency makes good relationships.
  • Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety.—James Baldwin
  • Everybody has their 18 wheeler day.
  • Blessed are the dehumanized for they have nothing to lose but their patience. —Keorapetse Kgositsile (2002)
  • You cannot dichotomize things that are deeply connected.
  • It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
  • Zeigarnik effect: Open tasks tend to occupy our short-term memory – until they are done.
  • Selection is the very keel on which our mental ship is built.
  • All good ideas need time.

How to Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

The central idea of this book is that a system of note taking can help us incorporate our reading into a process of engaged learning. This involves three levels of note taking:

  1. Inspiration: quick notes on ideas that occur to us in a flash of insight
  2. Reading: reading highlights from books and articles that capture the gist of the content
  3. Permanent: Relating our inspired and reading notes into a body of work that reflects our worldview

The keys are to put our inspired and reading notes into a slip box to help us develop unique insights and to interrelate the permanent work so they remain singular and discete, but at the same time serve as part of a network of relationships that can feed into projects, or specific pieces of writing designed for some purpose.

The thrust of this effort is to develop a note taking process that invites us to build and learn as part of an integrated process. It reminded me a bit of the text based social science and two computer revolutions I mentioned previously. (I’ll put the links in later.)

Time to Mitigate, Not Contain

“We have long needed a Plan B for the scenario where a big fraction of everyone gets exposed to Covid19, and for this plan I’ve explored variolation and other forms of deliberate exposure. To be ready, variolation just needs a small (~100) short (1-2mo.) trial to verify the quite likely (>75%) case that it works (cuts harm by 3-30x), but alas, while funding and volunteers can be found, med ethics panels have consistently disapproved. (Months later, they haven’t even allowed the widely praised human challenge trials for vaccines, some of which would include variolation trials.)

-Robin Hanson, “Time to Mitigate, Not Contain.” OvercomingBias.com. May 28, 2020

I’m thinking an intervention that involving volunteering to get COVID-19, when there are no effective treatments and with a fatality rate somewhere between 0.5-1% is going to be a hard sell. If herd immunity is at 60%, this means a death toll of almost 1 million in the United States, on the low end.

Chances of a COVID-19 Vaccine

“The objective is to calculate risk profiles for vaccines targeting human infectious diseases. A database was actively compiled to include all vaccine projects in development from 1998 to 2009 in the pre-clinical development phase, clinical trials phase I, II and III up to Market Registration. The average vaccine, taken from the preclinical phase, requires a development timeline of 10.71 years and has a market entry probability of 6%.”

-Pronker ES, Weenen TC, Commandeur H, Claassen EHJHM, Osterhaus ADME (2013) Risk in Vaccine Research and Development Quantified. PLoS ONE 8(3): e57755. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057755

A pandemic changes the risk profile in the sense that figuring out whether a vaccine is profitable is no longer the key consideration. However, it is worth noting that the current record for vaccine development is for Ebola, which took five years. And what about the original SARS? We still don’t have a vaccine for it, or for any coronavirus.

But, what about the recent news about Moderna’s vaccine? It’s based on mRNA. Let’s see what the CEO of one of the largest vaccine manufacturers in the world had to say on the topic, over a month ago:

“[GSK CEO Emma Walmsley] noted that mRNA vaccine candidates, such as the vaccine Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) is developing, have gotten into clinical trials more rapidly than those based on more conventional approaches, but there is some uncertainty about mRNA technologies.

“We are seeing several mRNA candidates coming forward,” Walmsley noted. “They may get earlier visibility of results. These are new technologies that haven’t been manufactured at scale.”

“Messenger RNA is a promising technology; it’s very versatile and it can produce candidates relatively quickly,” Loew said. “It has, however, never been tested in large Phase III trials and there is also no registered vaccine available today using that technology. It remains to be seen what this technology can really deliver.”

-Steve Usdin, “As COVID-19 vaccines progress, science and policy questions become more urgent.” BioCentury. April 15, 2020.

There are many coronavirus vaccine prospects, with frontrunners and others. Many different approaches are being tried to develop a vaccine. But, the target of getting one that works, is safe, can be manufactured and distributed at scale, and is available before the pandemic has run its course is not something that is likely to happen. Even if it were, it won’t be this year. Odds aren’t good for next year either.

Let’s hope a vaccine can be developed in time. But, let’s also be clear-eyed about the chances of that happening. They aren’t good.

20th Century Women

20th Century Women is such a lovely little movie. Part coming of age story. Part a story about aging. Part a story about male/female relationships that explores how difficult these are to navigate, particularly given our collective idiosyncrasies and brokenness. Recommended.