The Only Unpardonable Crime

Life 2009-07-28 03:37

“I am perhaps happier now than I have ever been and yet I cannot but recognise that I would trade all that I am to be you, the eternally unhappy, nervous, wild, wondering and despairing 16-year-old Stephen: angry, angst-ridden and awkward but alive. Because you know how to feel, and knowing how to feel is more important than how you feel. Deadness of soul is the only unpardonable crime, and if there is one thing happiness can do it is mask deadness of soul.”

From Steven Fry’s letter to himself, via Charles Miller


Life 2009-07-05 05:11

“Four different tests of 63 people found that those who kept their intentions private were more likely to achieve them than those who made them public and were acknowledged by others.”

From Shut up! Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them by Derek Sivers

Clockwork Fetish

Technology, Life 2009-05-17 12:36

Goodbye, Vehicle Ownership

Technology, Life 2009-05-03 10:57

I’ve owned a car my entire adult life. My parents purchased a car for me the moment I got my learner’s permit, at 15. It represented the same thing to me that it does to teenagers the world over: mobility, opportunity, a chance to pilot my own destiny. In short, freedom.

I’ve been through five cars (AMC Concord, Fiat Spyder, Mercury Mystique, Ford Mustang, Saturn VUE). Each one was one of those tools that, like my laptop or cell phone today, I reach for with such habit in my everyday life that it starts to feel like a part of me.

But this time I’ll be letting go of my vehicle, and not replacing it with another.
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Social Cushion

Psychedelia, Life 2009-04-21 10:08

Neal Stephenson on drug abuse:

“I’m remembering the advent of late ’60s/early ’70s drug culture when I was a kid. Authority figures would try to scare us away from drugs, and whether or not we were actually using drugs, we would just laugh at them because their threats and warnings seemed so overwrought. We all knew people who used various kinds of drugs but managed to stay healthy and out of trouble. Much later, it became obvious to me that the middle-class kids I tended to hang out with were cushioned from possible negative effects of drugs by their intellectual, financial, and social capital. Their parents and friends and neighbors kept an eye on them; Dad was always there to bail them out; they knew lawyers and doctors who could get them out of trouble. But that wasn’t true of lower-class drug users. Poor people and communities really did suffer terrible effects from drugs because they lacked that cushion.”

Hairstyles and Skull Exposure

Life, Genetics 2009-04-20 11:18

Hairstyle has a dramatic effect on how a person looks. I’ve been through 4 hairstyles in the last 18 months (long hair -> dreadlocks -> shaved head -> short hair) so I’ve gotten some direct experience with this. People respond to you very differently depending on your haircut.

One element of hairstyle that I find interesting is skull exposure. It’s like this: exposing the forehead (where the skull is most visible - no muscle or fat, just skin on bone) makes a person look fiercer. Covering the skull makes them appear soft and approachable.
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Crap I Don’t Need

Life 2009-02-12 11:47

Merlin Mann gives an alternate approach to wishlists:

“My file is called “crap I just don’t need.txt,” and I have fended off many ridiculous purchases just by parking the desired item there. Just viewing the long list of previous entries is an embarrassing exercise in aversion therapy. Not to say this always ensures a non-purchase — consumer lust has a permanent apartment in my heart — but at least it provides a satisfying speed bump on the race to the checkout screen.”

Man of Action

Life, Silly 2009-01-18 06:13

“The conversation was direct. Some would say brutal. [..] It is simply that he likes to accomplish things, preferrably with his own hands, and tends to view conversations as impediments. He would rather do something of an essentially stupid and pointless nature, than talk of something beautiful or momentous. He wants his servants to be like his hands, which which carry out his will immediately and without the tedium of verbal instructions - so much so that if a conversation extends beyond a few sentences, he will grow intolerably restless, his face will become disfigured by uncontrollable tics, and his will shoulder his interlocutor out of the way and take action himself.”

From The System of the World by Neal Stephenson

Daylight Saving

Technology, Life, Infinite Series 2008-11-19 04:36

Daylight saving day apparently occurred about two weeks ago. For the first time in my life, I didn’t notice.

The reason? All of my clocks are now smart; they know their timezone and the date, so they know when to display daylight saving-shifted times. (This in addition to keeping themselves synced to atomic clocks via the internet and NTP.) I have two smart clocks: one on my computer, and one on my phone. I’m very rarely more than 5 feet away from at least one of these.

I’ve removed all dumb clocks from my life. First, I don’t have any standalone clocks. Next, I don’t set the time on my microwave clock, leaving it showing “0″ when not cooking. And finally, I put a piece of electrical tape over the digital clock in my car’s stereo, so that its time display is not visible.

For the record: daylight saving time is stupid, and should be abolished. It already has been in some places. But until it is gone worldwide, smart clocks are a good workaround.

Death To Stuff, Part 2

Life 2008-08-08 01:19

Some other perspectives on stuff.

Merlinn Man tackles the topic:

“Ours is a culture based on the idea that whenever you run out of space, you should just pull up stakes and move five miles west. Then you can be happy. Is it any wonder that we seek organization rather than deletion as the solution to an overwhelming problem?”

Three cheers for deletion.

Paul Graham weighs in:

“Humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what’s around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts. A cluttered room is literally exhausting.”

Three cheers for minimalist decor - and closets and drawers, for hiding away the clutter.