Zuihitsu: 2021-03

Collecting these little ideas has become a major focus. Here’s this month’s installment.

  1. You can’t be what you can’t imagine, and imagination is often limited by our sight, or vision.
  2. He who cannot howl will not find his pack.—Charles Simic
  3. Most deliberate misinformation from authorities—especially in places that are mid-range in terms of institutional trust and strict licensing—comes from omission, not saying the truth, rather than outright lying.
  4. You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.”—Jeannette Rankin
  5. People are broken, technologies are broken, cosmologies are broken, gods are broken — everything is broken.
  6. The internet, like bureaucracies, homogenizes.
  7. A weak heart breaks more easily.
  8. Reality is a very subjective affair.—Vladimir Nabokov
  9. Asking for help is a great way of getting help. If you are unsure about how to help, start with little things.
  10. Thinking is not experiencing.
  11. Meditation is not about turning a human being into a stone. It is about turning a stone into a human being.
  12. Our emotions are not a problem. Our denial and misperception of them is what makes them look like problems.
  13. Secrets are things you (or others) don’t know. Mysteries are things nobody knows.
  14. We haven’t come anywhere close to scraping the bottom of the barrel yet.
  15. It is easier to meditate than be good.
  16. The better you know someone, in other words, the higher the stakes of your relationship, the harder it is to reveal the deepest and strangest things about yourself.
  17. It’s a large world, we’re never as solitary as we think, as unique or unprecedented, what we feel has always already been felt, again and again, without beginning or end.—Garth Greenwell
  18. I don’t know where we are going, but I know exactly how to get there.
  19. Science is being; philosophy is meaning.
  20. The difference between magical realism and science fiction might be whether you went to college and what you majored in.
  21. Life is a near-death experience.—George Carlin
  22. The heart of discrimination (against people) is dehumanization. The heart of discrimination (against ideas) is reality testing.
  23. Privilege is synonymous with apathy.
  24. Never make important decisions when you’re tired, emotional, distracted, or in a rush.
  25. Never let anyone define the problem for you.
  26. Seek out information from someone as close to the source as possible, because they’ve earned their knowledge and have an understanding that you don’t.
  27. Be less busy. Keep a learning journal. Reflect every day.
  28. Act as you would want an employee to act if you owned the company.
  29. Intimacy at scale is an oxymoron.
  30. Be faithfully present. Don’t ask for a lot; don’t demand attention; but be comfortingly, reassuringly there.
  31. Bureaucracies by their nature seek to standardize which fosters homogeneity.
  32. People are magicians and can self-hypnotize themselves into any delusion.
  33. “What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”―Ursula K. LeGuin
  34. Find ways to say yes to people that matter to you and no to those that don’t.
  35. Most systems get worse as they scale.
  36. How do you avoid emergent sclerosis in the mental models we build?
  37. We often forget that what we know of the world is entirely dependent on our view, our vision of the world, which is possible to evolve and transform into inspiring aliveness, or to stagnate and atrophy into sinkholes of cynicism.—Alex Grey
  38. autonomy, when you can decide both rules and exceptions.
  39. Price isn’t everything.
  40. To speak truth is to create falsehood.
  41. Our present era of decimated attention demands contraction and diminishment.
  42. Underneath your tattoos you’re still a mainstream cunt.
  43. This person was a deluge of words and a drizzle of thought.
  44. Be confident enough in your vision to commit to it.
  45. Pretending to be above and beyond politics is by itself a political position; in adopting it, one has aligned with the state and sided with the powerful.
  46. What is invisible might as well be dark.
  47. One can journey to the end of Earth and the edge of time, but never leave the narrow corridors of prejudice.
  48. When in doubt, nuke the whole thing and start over.
  49. America is a terrible place to be stupid.
  50. “Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.”—Pablo Picasso
  51. Make more and better with less.
  52. Never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform, and reuse.
  53. Trivialise what you do, or lower the stakes.
  54. Two out of three: 1) KNOWLEDGE: Will I learn something? 2) FUN: Is it fun? 3) MONEY: Is it financially worthwhile?
  55. Conflict provides information.
  56. When you have power, you don’t have to talk about what you can do. You do it.
  57. Who, or what, is laying eggs in your brain?
  58. Suffering less? Then, you’ll focus more on what remains.
  59. Never write when you can talk. Never talk when you can nod. And never put anything in an email.
  60. Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
  61. Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them.
  62. We all underestimate our ability to massively change our life when it’s gone off track. Do things differently. Do what scares you.
  63. There’s a benefit to being naïve to the norms of the world — deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.
  64. To say something means it’ll be misheard, misunderstood or misrepresented to others.
  65. Don’t drink poison in the hope the other guy gets sick.
  66. Few great performances happen without great audiences.
  67. Know how to win or know how to stop.

Zuihitsu: 2021-02

Collecting these little ideas has become a major focus. Here’s this month’s installment.

  1. Art allows us to see through the eyes of others.
  2. If you can’t be X all day, try being X for the next second, minute or hour.
  3. Understanding and believing are not the same thing.—Gertrude Stein
  4. Failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.”—Hank Aaron
  5. Figure out a way to take care of yourself, legal. Find somebody you can stand that can stand you. Pay your taxes. Take care of your teeth.—Duke Bootee
  6. What you think is boring now may become interesting in the future.
  7. Commit to something for life. It doesn’t matter what it is.
  8. Better felt than told.
  9. “If you absolutely can’t tolerate critics, then don’t do anything new or interesting.”—Jeff Bezos
  10. Think about the structure of choice, the Overton window of action.
  11. Carefully discern the cost and the calling.
  12. Average speed wins races.
  13. A good relationship means fighting fairly, strengthening yourself, then strengthening your relationship. Rinse, repeat. 
  14. A focus on the human, the person in front of you this moment — and if alone that person is you — is always what is needed.
  15. Listen to the stories of others at the edges.
  16. We need to pick the futures we want and advocate for them loudly and repeatedly, cf. Madeline Ashby.
  17. Reject the predetermined future.
  18. Can it be beautiful? Is it already but our eye isn’t trained to see it?
  19. Too many experts in the comment section? Or not any?
  20. True originality is rare.
  21. Every great truth has an opposite truth.
  22. Life is a beautiful dare.
  23. As soon as you start to go for ‘volume’ of chips in your mouth, instead of taste. Put away the bag.
  24. Talk, loudly and frequently and in detail, about the future you want. You can’t manifest what you don’t share.—Madeline Ashby
  25. Remember to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the ones you cannot live within.—Ruha Benjamin
  26. Progress isn’t complete until it is experienced by everyone.
  27. Be careful of words repurposed by their adversaries.
  28. Don’t build what you cannot maintain.
  29. Design for repair.
  30. Hope for the future is a reasonable and necessary prerequisite for action.—Emma Marris
  31. Look for a track record of improvement.
  32. Without community, there is no liberation.—Audre Lorde
  33. Do not do anything you do not fucking want to do.
  34. Let go of the desire to be right.
  35. The place in which you’ll fit will not exist until you make it.
  36. The problem with algos is they censor the tedious and routine.
  37. Every generation revolts against it fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.—Lewis Mumford
  38. Individuality in the United States is often toxic, creating barriers to deep connection and intimacy.
  39. Family can be built from shared experience and values.
  40. Accountability is a practice of the self, not of community.
  41. Reach for grace and weave it through your life and those around you; a person is a person through others.
  42. A dream is an imagined reality.
  43. Not queer like gay, queerlike escaping definition. Queer like some kind of fluidity and limitlessness all at once. Queer like freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love could look like, and to pursue it.—Brandon Wint
  44. We cannot fully know ourselves without other people.
  45. The power of the Government to spin, delay, hide and smudge is almost limitless.
  46. Synthesize charted territory.
  47. “Don’t forget to tell your favorite people that you love them.”—Shirley Temple
  48. Grace favors the well-trained mind.
  49. Doing hallucinations is like trying to fix a Swiss watch with a sledgehammer.
  50. Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.’—Erich Fromm
  51. Fret not after knowledge for I have none.
  52. Do you have any allegiances greater than knowledge and intelligence?
  53. Truth guarantees bad things will happen.
  54. Power plays a role in determining who gets to be an absolutist and who doesn’t. 
  55. True persuasion is difficult, rare, and incremental.
  56. Not everything needs to be permanently documented.
  57. Working capital murders excuses.
  58. At what scale do you want to operate?
  59. Better not to begin. Once begun, better to finish.
  60. Blame is a way to discharge anger.
  61. Do no harm.
  62. Keep your shit together.
  63. If all options are bad, look for more options.
  64. Follow instructions, and play well with others.
  65. You can’t let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones.”-Dale Earnhardt
  66. Don’t lead with the facts. Establish rapport. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.
  67. Instead of trying to enlighten someone else, start with your own blind spots.
  68. “I don’t expect you to understand anything I’m telling you. But I know you will remember this — that nothing good ever ends.”—William Saroyan
  69. Do it. Then, do it again. Then, do it again, ad infinitum.
  70. A teacher is never impressed by what we don’t know and is rarely impressed by what they don’t know.
  71. People care about how you treat them, how well you listen to them, the regard you give to their point of view, and if you are a good friend.
  72. Concentration and analysis aren’t the same thing.
  73. People are very open to suggestion, aka scripting.
  74. Wait 5 minutes. If hard, wait 500 days. Some things are so hard they require a lifetime, a generation, or an eon.
  75. Much can be learned by falling down and getting back up.
  76. The best way to predict your future is to create it.—Peter Drucker
  77. After every key decision or action, we should write down what we expect will happen. And some months later, compare the actual results with our expectations. 
  78. Find where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.
  79. If you have the emotional fortitude to last three years, you’ll succeed.
  80. For many, imitation is just as good as real.
  81. “Nothing we do is better than the work of handmind. When mind uses itself without the hands it runs the circle and may go too fast; even speech using the voice only may go too fast. The hand that shapes the mind into clay or written word slows thought to the gait of things and lets it be subject to accident and time.”—Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home
  82. “Do as little as needed, not as much as possible.”—Henk Kraaijenhof
  83. People that are happy over a long time scale have optimism, perseverance, a focus on relationships, and an appetite for risk. The last is key, it’s hard to develop deep held confidence that you’ll be okay in all circumstances if your appetite for risk isn’t high enough.—Ruth Grace Wong
  84. Noise might be signal we haven’t learned to process.
  85. There are different kinds of random.
  86. Interpretation is what matters.
  87. Grab your little joys and squeeze until you’ve throttled them between white-knuckled fingers.
  88. Ideas and the work are the easy problem. People are always the hard problem.
  89. Being right usually means someone else is wrong. People that are wrong usually either still think they are right. When they can acknowledge being wrong, they will generally dislike those that were right and think they suck, are arrogant, etc. Yin/Yang.
  90. Story’s are defined by therefore and but, not and then.
  91. Any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.
  92. The task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.―Erwin Schrödinger
  93. To be publicly and widely mocked suggests that you may be doing something right.At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.—Somerset Maugham

Zuihitsu: 2021-01

Collecting these little sayings has turned into a major focus of mine. I’m going to aim for a year of monthly posts of them.

  1. It’s always new and astonishing when it’s yours.
  2. The center defines something differently than the periphery.
  3. “Act with zest one day at a time, and never mind the rest.” –Ode 11 of Book I of Horace’s Odes
  4. Faction is integral to dissatisfaction. A life of us vs. them is a life at war with itself.
  5. What would it take to be contentment in this moment, just as it is? Changing our minds; both the hardest and easiest thing we can do.
  6. Always aspire to act in a way that cancels out someone else’s cruel or stupid behavior.
  7. Be an astute judge of character, and learn to judge quickly.
  8. The dreamer is in no position to judge what is real or who is awake.
  9. Fooling people only requires telling them what they want to hear, over and over again. People love hearing how right they are.
  10. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.—Norwegian saying
  11. Reality is a hard master.
  12. Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.—Teddy Roosevelt
  13. It’s not the action; it’s the reaction.
  14. Be a presence that comforts or transforms.
  15. Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.
  16. The wealthy play the stock market with each other, the middle class goes to the casinos, and the poor play the lottery.
  17. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. — Robin Jones Gunn
  18. A foreign accent is a sign of bravery. — Amy Chua
  19. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing. — Picasso
  20. The reward for good work is more work. — Tom Sachs
  21. The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck. — Paul Virilio
  22. If all I’d ever wanted to do was make money, I’d probably be really poor by now. — Brian Eno
  23. Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. — Rumi
  24. On average, bad things happen fast and good things happen slow. — Stewart Brand
  25. What I cannot create, I do not understand. — Richard Feynman
  26. Find out who you are and do it on purpose. — Dolly Parton
  27. There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.—Big Daddy
  28. Thinking about theories and concepts outside the mainstream can help us grow until we believe them. Belief is the death of intelligence and opposes growth.
  29. Pay attention to anomalies.
  30. “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”—Voltaire
  31. Eventually politics creeps into everything.
  32. The license never belongs to the licensed.
  33. The world doesn’t owe you happiness.
  34. Always look for the silver lining.
  35. What lessons are you refusing to learn?
  36. On some level, oppression requires cooperation.
  37. To believe is to know you believe and to know you believe is not to believe.
  38. Seriousness closes itself to open possibilities. Playfulness allows for possiblity at a cost to self.
  39. History must always be reforged in the present, and imagination expands the boundries of possible pathways of the future.
  40. Training prevents surprise; education is preparation to be transformed by it.
  41. Education is discovery. Training is definition.
  42. Die before ye die.
  43. Sometimes the key comes before the lock.
  44. The more you want, the more you get.
  45. You can control the conversation, and if you can’t, you can always walk away.
  46. Violence has a long tail.
  47. We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn.—Mary Catherine Bateson
  48. Bad performance isn’t self-correcting.
  49. Chunk book reading into 30 minutes or more.
  50. Things tend to get worse before they get better.
  51. Develop an epistemology that takes unusual ideas seriously without falling for them all.
  52. True expertise requires tight feedback loops and a close connection between the outcome we care about (e.g. “truth”) and the metric that generates prestige.
  53. The division of labour is limited by the extent of the market.—Adam Smith
  54. Comparison is futile, and it is the thief of happiness.
  55. “Focus on remedies, not faults.”—Jack Nicklaus
  56. Time is a checking mechanism on market activity.
  57. Too much and too little doubt leads to dysfunction; impotence to fanaticism.
  58. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you win. The main thing is to get up the next day and try again.
  59. Kindness multiplies and it increases the universe of the possible.
  60. What is the bounding scenario, i.e. the goals of the project, discussion, etc.? Creativity requires friction and limits.
  61. A future is a world, a timespace, and the human way of relating to space is exploration.
  62. Heaven is just another kind of hell, and hell can be a heaven, depending on your place in it.
  63. Learn how to plan strategically under a fixed set of rules. What makes game play educational is the game’s creation of stakes for decisions and not fidelity to reality.
  64. “No one wants a lecture. Everyone wants a story.”—Morgan Housel
  65. When you think: I’ll just do this and then I’ll stop, stop then and leave it as the first thing for next time.
  66. Fame is like a razor-sharp scalpel with no handle; it easily cuts both ways.
  67. “We are not to be saved by the captain, but by the crew.”—Frederick Douglass
  68. “A lie is a fiction made up to take away someone else’s power.”
  69. Don’t let past trauma’s control your life.
  70. Sometimes setting yourself on fire sheds light on the situation.
  71. Relevancy is the only currency.
  72. It’s easier to predict what will happen, it turns out, than when it will happen. —Ahmed Elbakari, Tom Macky, and Igor Vasilachi
  73. Save like a pessimist and invest like an optimist.—Morgan Housel
  74. Regret can be more painful than loss itself.—Phil Pearlman
  75. If pure collective will can create a valuable financial asset, without any reference to cash flows or fundamentals, then all you need is a collective and some will. 
  76. “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow.”—Mary Tyler Moore
  77. Slogans cloud the mind and sap the resolve.
  78. It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.—Paul “Bear” Bryant
  79. Given high enough stakes, no one is your friend. Best to know where those limits are.
  80. Assume positive intent.
  81. States win in the end.
  82. Is something special just because it is rare?
  83. Don’t get caught up in the sociology of the last five minutes, cf. Michael Mann.
  84. Mistrust is expensive.
  85. Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.—Feynman
  86. I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!
  87. Search for happiness where you are likely to find it.
  88. “The practices that carry the greatest potential for transformative change are usually counter-instinctual.”—Bruce Tift
  89. One way or another, change is going to feel bad.
  90. Have a high degree of tolerance for everyone’s nonsense.
  91. Don’t relish conflict, but confront it. Get it out in the open and reduce it.