Life 2007-06-16 01:37

“It’s always possible to find a reason to stay put, to skip an opportunity, or to decline an offer. And yet, in retrospect, it’s hard to remember why we said no and easy to wish that we had said yes.”

From Seth Godin’s Time to take action

His post is about business, but to me this point is just as important for life in general.


Life, Culture, Entrepreneurship 2007-03-02 12:42

Transparency is the future. I first glimpsed this in open source software; later, I found myself extending the same principles to business. I’m not alone: the new breed of companies place strong empahsis on openness and communication, a stark contrast to the cloak-and-dagger nonsense that is so pervasive in traditional business culture.

I’ve also learned to extend these principles to my personal life. This blog, for example, reveals thoughts and feelings that only a few years ago I might have only shared with a few trusted confidants. My new perspective has allowed me to share these things with the world, and I think that doing so has helped me grow as a person. (Not sure that it’s doing the world any good, but who knows.)

So. Having sought to extend the principles of openness, honesty, and transparency to these various realms, I am now much more aware of the lack of transparency that is so common in most people’s lives. For example, one episode of Polyamory Weekly interviewed someone who was the head of an activist organization for poly people. She stated that she was not even “out” to a significant portion of her family (i.e., mother, grandparents).

People think they are protecting friends & family by hiding parts of themselves. They are afraid that if their parents know they are gay or bisexual that they’ll freak out and disown them, or that if their friends knew their political views they might face disdain or even harassment. But something like sexual orientation is a pretty central element of a person’s identity. By not sharing it with those people you are supposedly close to, you’re doing both them and yourself a disservice. Or, more bluntly: you’re lying about who you are. How does that make you close, exactly? For myself, I don’t see the point in maintaining a relationship which requires such extensive deception.
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Invasion of the Meat Machines

Life, Health 2007-01-16 01:27

Modern medical science is all about fixing what’s broken. This is a good solution when you have a direct affliction or injury: a specific infectious disease, a broken bone, a deep cut. But this is only one small part of the overall picture of human health. Keeping the body sound and healthy is much more than just stitching up the occasional wound.

I think that most people sense this subconsciously, and that’s the appeal of all the folk healing and new age practices that people spend so much time and energy on: acupuncture, crystal healing, homeopathy, herbal remedies, etc. If you’ve read my blog much you probably already know that I think all that stuff is best described as somewhere between ineffective and an outright scam. But don’t worry, this post is not yet another debunking, or more critical thinker finger-wagging. No, today I’ve got something a little different on the menu.
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Projects, Life, and Happiness

Life 2006-12-09 04:57

As a teenager and in early adulthood, I threw myself into massive projects without a second thought. Create my own video game, doing all the design, programming and graphics? Check. Start my own company, with no business experience or outside capital investment? Check. Take on the status quo of the political system, to render sweeping changes to the legal code to make the world a better place? Oh yeah - check.

This worked out well, but not because I achieved these goals; but rather because, in trying to do so, I developed all sorts of useful skills and knowledge. If I had grasped the massive scale - and in fact, virtual impossibility - of these endeavours beforehand, I probably never would have even started. That would have been a shame, because I would have robbed myself of all the benefits of skill, experience, and wisdom I gained from the process.

Today I’m more jaded. I have a very good idea of just how hard it is to do something like the items mentioned above. I also have a very long list of things I’d like to do; long enough that there’s no way I can squeeze all of it into one lifetime. The weight of possibility weighs down on my shoulders, which sometimes has a paralyzing effect. I am now much more cautious about starting new projects, especially big ones.

But everything in life really worth doing is a challenging, time-and-energy consuming affair. If the wisdom to envisage a potential endeavor’s true cost in time and energy carries too much weight, then one will never do anything worth doing. I think I see this in many older people; without the exuberance and ambition of youth to drive them forward, they retreat to a path of lowest possible energy expenditure, where they only pleasure in life comes from simple comforts and luxuries. At least for me, that’s no kind of life.
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The Science of Happiness

Life 2006-10-25 10:47

The cover article of this month’s Free Inquiry’s was “God, Aristotle, and the New Science of Happiness.” The piece explores historic and current approaches to the attempted objective measurement of human happiness, and the mechanisms which tend to make people happy or unhappy with their lives.

First, the bad news: a good portion of each individual’s satisfaction in life appears to be genetic. Certain combinations of genes tend to produce people who are happy in any situation, and other combinations produce people who are perpetually dissatisfied. Not much one can do about that.

As for the rest of it:

“All else being equal, the happiest people with the greatest sense of satisfaction in their lives are people who consistently and persistently pursue self-chosen goals and make progress toward their attainment. [..] It helps if one chooses goals that are a good fit for one’s talents and inclinations. Equally important is to vary the goal, which not only gives practices at initiating and sustaining activity, but also helps to avoid the tendency to become bored with, and thus no longer take pleasure in, things that are done in a routine fashion. But changing goals must not be at the expense of making progress on those that are chosen. A great deal of work now suggest that the ongoing feeling of progress toward a goal provides at least as much of the sense of accomplishment, pleasure , and satisfaction that comes from an activity as does the attainment of the goal itself.”

The Hacker’s Diet

Life 2006-10-21 03:58

The Hacker’s Diet is a geek’s view of diet and exercise. I think this diagram sums up the feel of the book nicely:

Not only is it chalk full of practical advice, but plenty of funny turns of phase too. Like referring to the human body as a rubber bag (the metaphor is surprisingly apt). Or this one:

“After reaching that glorious stage in life when other people couldn’t make me do things I’d rather not, the case against exercising seemed straightforward and overwhelmingly persuasive.”

Circular Reference

Life 2006-09-19 01:09

The Youthful Mind

Psychedelia, Life 2006-08-05 11:39

“To my mind, the two golden, childlike properties of a brain are curiosity and creativity. Many adult activities (jobs, hobbies, pastimes) use one or the other of these properties, in particular the sciences (mainly curiosity) and the arts (mainly creativity).”

From Curtains Without Windows by Jim Loy

Most people, at some point in their life, cross a line. On one side of the line is carefree youth, when every day is a chance for new discovery and experience. On the other side is mature adulthood, when every day is just another in the endless grind, full of stress and worry and pain.
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Angry Man

Life 2006-08-05 11:33

The angry man rants. I find myself agreeing with the guy quite a bit, and either way it’s funny stuff.

“Since it’s been 30 years since anyone wore a ski mask to go skiing, can we finally face the facts? If you see someone in a ski mask, he’s not a Winter Olympian, he’s a goddammed burgler. Don’t congratulate him on his finish at Lillehammer - knock him the hell out. I’m not sure you could walk into a ski lodge wearing a ski mask without getting gunned down by the police. If not the real police, at least the fashion police - there may be no dumber looking piece of clothing than the ski mask. Why do they even sell ski masks anymore? They wouldn’t if we called them robber masks. If your store sells robber masks, you deserve to be robbed at least once a week.”

Dating Myths

Life, Dating 2006-07-07 04:37

Despite the bitter and slightly misogynistic tone of this piece, there are many nuggets of wisdom and some good advice to be found within.

“Myth: If only I could meet the right woman, my life would have meaning.

Truth: If your life doesn’t have meaning right now, when you’re single, then a relationship isn’t going to help. […]

The only way to have a happy life is to develop one for yourself, then leave an opening for someone else to come and share it with you. Neither of these two things is easy. In particular, it’s too easy once you’ve developed a life for yourself to end up with someone who was doing exactly what you were doing before — waiting for Prince Charming (or in your case Lady Love) — to come and rescue her life. People like this end up draining away all of that energy you’ve worked so hard to build up, leaving you exhausted and frustrated.”