Happy People Tend to Stay That Way

* “[X], were you satisfied with your life before you met [Y]?”

* “[X], were you free from depression before you met [Y]?”

* “[X], did you have a positive affect before you met [Y]?”

Researchers have found that people who answered “yes” to questions such as these are significantly more likely to report being happy in their romantic relationship. In other words, a person who is happy outside their relationship is far more likely to be happy inside their relationship, as well…

…If I had to sum up, in one sentence, the most important finding in the field of relationship science, thanks to these Big Data studies, it would be something like this (call it the First Law of Love): In the dating market, people compete ferociously for mates with qualities that do not increase one’s chances of romantic happiness.

-Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, “People Are Dating All Wrong, According to Data Science.” Wired. May 10, 2022.

The net on this is that the qualities that people tend to look for in selecting mates are not the qualities that lead to happiness. But, the argument presented here is ultimately a bad one. Just because some approach is bad, does not make its opposite good.

If I had to sum up the lesson of this article, it is that people that are happy in their lives tend to also be happy in their relationships. If you want to be happy in a relationship, perhaps the secret is to be happy outside of one and look for someone who is also happy in their lives before they met you.

The Map by Venkatesh Rao

“If only, the argument went, you could discover the exact opposite territory — not literally; that was in the middle of the ocean, but some sort of training-data antonym in latent space — and the exact set of tweaks to make to the training code, the Antimap would emerge at the Antipode, and begin its own inexorable creep towards the Map. And through the ensuing battle of Map and Antimap, the final training epoch would be triggered, leading to the Final Convergence, and heaven on Earth.

It was widely derided as a profoundly stupid religion.

And yet, as the growth of heaven slowed to a crawl, the surreptitious search for hell began.”

-Venkatesh Rao, “The Map.” ribbonfarm.com. May 5, 2022.

Parable of the best possible outcome of a piece of technology, where its limits invariably bring humans to imagine its opposite, a kind of hell.

Online Techno-Polymath Guy

“I was discussing with Sam the “genre,” so to speak, of the Online Techno-Polymath Guy. You know this guy. He (and it’s usually a he) has his own website, probably hand-crafted in Kirby, Github, or WordPress, as well as a well-regarded, personable Twitter presence. 

He keeps track of everything he reads, writes pithy blog posts on esoteric subjects. His personal philosophy is progressive with a futurist bent.  He has worked in a variety of fields, though you are unsure what he actually currently does for a living. He is knowledgeable, authoritative, but eccentric, which you can tell by the fun colors he’s used to design his fun little homepage. 

You can have fun clicking around his carefully maintained archive, witnessing the dynamic interplay of his disparate areas of interest. You can ooh and ahh at his reading lists, his quirky, inventive stances on issues like quantum computing and social media moderation. 

It’s all very inspirational.”

-Allegra Rosenberg, “Fear of the Archive.” tchotchke.substack.com. July 29, 2020.

When I read this, I thought I’d probably met the definition of this archetype for this person. Then, he goes on to say this.

“Better to be inconstant in one’s archiving (or forgo it completely) than to constantly be faced with the dirty dishes, the nauseating, living ‘matter’ of one’s past interests, pasts opinions, past genius lying guilelessly buried under strata of increasing idiocy.”

The weird thing about keeping a daily blog like this one is it is a process and a bit of a discipline. Here it is on Saturday morning, and I’ve nothing on my blog for the day. What do I do?

I have a Wallabag list that I put everything interesting I came across – in newsletters, RSS feeds or from wherever. I just look for something especially interesting or that I’d like to make a short statement about or would like to remember. Curation, and sharing of the things you think are interesting in this moment is a kind of love, a sharing of oneself.

The audience for these blog posts is the future me. It’s capturing a moment, and in some future moment, stumbling across it while looking for something else, I don’t think past me is some brilliant standard I’m no longer living up to. More often than not, I’m looking at the flaws, mostly spelling and formatting mistakes, and correcting them.

You see, future me remembers some of what it was like to be past me. There are wisps of memory of that particular moment, where I wrote something or did something, but much of it gets lost. But, being able to read these bits helps me to remember. Helps me to see how I’ve grown and changed. Whereas without taking the moment to write the post, it would be forever lost, like salt in the ocean.

Memory flavors everything, but it is its own kind of experience. It is always flawed and incomplete, like trying to see ocean salt when you can only taste it.

When I look at this blog, I see a few really good things. But, most of it is very mediocre. But, Sturgeon’s Law reigns everywhere. It doesn’t have to be good. I’m allowed to say dumb things – past, present and future – because I’m a flawed human being. And, every once in awhile, there’s gold in this swill bucket. But, you never get a chance to find it if you don’t stir it on a regular basis.

Lower your standards. No effort is lost of wasted. It’s this kind of dialogue, mostly with ourselves, that makes blogging worthwhile. I recommend it to everyone.

Making Friends [on the Internet]

Summarized:

“[1.] follow people you resonate with.

[2.] engage with bigger accounts, support smaller accounts.

[3.] ask questions, offer suggestions, share learnings.

[4.] pay attention to who keeps popping up.

[5.] use the algorithms to your advantage.

[6.] attend virtual events. participate! 

[7.] attend offline events! Be adventerous.

[8.] send that dm / email / offer to connect.

[9.] if they don’t respond, try again in a few months.

[10.] put your thoughts out there.

-Jonathan Borichevskiy, “Making Friends on the Internet.” jon.bo. May 2, 2022.

Open question: How do you make new friends that will help you move in the direction you want your life to move and be fellow travelers?

The thrust is correct. If you want to make offline friends, you need to orient your online presence to make offline connections. However, there’s a bit of an age-bias. When you are 25 and single, it’s a lot easier to go to meeting on a lark. As you get older, it gets more difficult. You have to arrange a babysitter. There’s also the time to consider. Here’s a rough chart of time and quantities of friends a human brain tends to top out at:

  • 5 intimate friends (+200 hours)
  • 15 close friends (80-100 hours)
  • 50 general friends (40-60 hours)
  • 150 acquaintances (10-20 hours)

The problem, as you get older, is: how do you find those hours to spend with someone? The easiest method is some social institution, such as a church. Over a year, it should be possible to pick up a few friends and acquaintances from a church.

So, the above is how to make an initial connection with someone, and it assumes that you bridge these hours in some way. This is much harder, as you get older. But, perhaps something to think about when you start new chapters of your life.

Hypothes.is

“Hypothesis is a new effort to implement an old idea: A conversation layer over the entire web that works everywhere, without needing implementation by any underlying site.

https://web.hypothes.is/about/

I thought I had bookmarked this here before, but it looks like I did not. I thought I’d add for anyone who finds the idea interesting.

Art Is The Realm of the Problem

“I am troubled by how often people talk about likability when they talk about art.

I am troubled by how often our protagonists are supposed to live impeccable, sin-free lives, extolling the right virtues in the right order – when we, the audience, do not and never have, no matter what we perform for those around us.

I am troubled by the word “problematic,” mostly because of how fundamentally undescriptive it is. Tell me that something is xenophobic, condescending, clichéd, unspeakably stupid, or some other constellation of descriptors. Then I will decide whether I agree, based on the intersection of that thing with my particular set of values and aesthetics. But by saying it is problematic you are saying that it constitutes or presents a problem, to which my first instinct is to reply: I hope so.

Art is the realm of the problem. Art chews on problems, turns them over, examines them, breaks them open, breaks us open against them. Art contains a myriad of problems, dislocations, uncertainties. Doesn’t it? If not, then what?”

-Jen Silverman, “Swimming in It: Art and (Im)Morality.” macdowell.org. April 21, 2022.

Zuihitsu: 2022-04

Technically, zuihitsu are longer reflections than what I tend to collect. But, the general idea is right. Here’s this month’s installment. If you want the complete set, please download the fortune file.

1. I tell you: one must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.—Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
2. Build, test, and improve.
3. Apes vs. Gorillas, aka users vs. providers.
4. Find your own way of doing things, make your own rules.
5. If you’re thinking, but not writing, you only think that you are thinking.
6. Things are going to be alright, whatever happens.
7. r, the interest rate, is the rental rate for capital, and w is the rental rate (wage rate) for labor.
8. Parking lots are major revenue generators for airports. Storage is big business everywhere.
9. You can swim all day in the sea of knowledge and not get wet.–Norton Juster
10. Look at the world without euphemism.
11. Most arguments fail due to lack of imagination.
12. The Internet amplifies variance.
13. The puppet does not pull the strings of the puppet master.
14. You can print money but not oil to heat or wheat to eat.
15. All ESG roads eventually lead to international confrontation, nationalisation or protectionism.
16. You could not have wished to be born at a better time than this, when everything is lost.—Simone Weil
17. Don’t privilege privilege.
18. Love triangles are never equilateral.
19. It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.—Mark Twain
20. Many and small beats large and heavy.
21. Finding always beats flanking.
22. Swarming always beats surging.
23. I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.—Rabindranath Tagore
24. What makes you dance in the streets?
25. Some things are not meant to be.
26. You can’t unshit your pants.
27. Who brings more value, the producer or the reducer?
28. You can have all the ingredients and still not know the recipe.
29. Don’t be afraid of changing your mind.
30. Equality that penalizes productivity isn’t equality.
31. Don’t shitpost with your wallet.
32. Solve the mystery no one was wondering about.
33. You cannot get water from a book. But, a book might help you find it.
34. A boat should be in the water. But, the water shouldn’t be in the boat. Same with people and the world.
35. Time in a growth market > timing the market
36. Twitter is Uber for ideas.
37. If you are going to manage it, you first have to acknowledge it.
38. Progress, not perfection.
39. Doubt kills.
40. Change your world.
41. When you pray for rain, you have got to deal with the mud too.
42. Takes talent to make money, but brains to keep it.
43. Same mud, same blood.
44. Nothing is more expensive than free. Nothing harder than looking for the easy way.
45. Curating is an act of generosity—you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you.
46. Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.—Gustave Flaubert
47. Our past is never where we left it.
48. Nobody’s as deaf as those that don’t want to listen.
49. You cannot change where you come from, but you can change where you are going.
50. Imagination leads to emancipation.
51. Humans are more important than hardware.
52. Actions over credentials.
53. Every decline is surfable.
54. When nothing is happening, change what you are doing.
55. Vision, a positive attitude, and hard work can make a new reality.
56. Less furious, more curious.
57. Don’t be afraid to offend.
58. Social media are the fidget spinners of the soul.
59. Some tools can only be used to destroy.
60. Most of the disorder and dysfunction in the world is caused by lack of impulse control.—Dr. Andrew Huberman
61. Resistance or difficulty is necessary in order to understand the nature and depth of our own desires.
62. Few devices have done more to obscure the efforts of human labor than the smartphone.
63. Get it down there where the dogs can eat it.
64. Things that cannot go on forever, stop.