What are you doing now?

Because whatever it is, it’s training you for tomorrow. Anything we do is creating habits that will extend into the future. There’s no way around this.

So with that in mind, it’s helpful to think of this as an opportunity to slowly upgrade our habits. For example:

If I take breaks by watching videos, would I like to spend those breaks going for brief walks and stretching instead? Or reading a book if I’ve been meaning to read more?

I’ve been trying that approach lately, and it works well. Although the key is what happens when the practice lapses (like today, when it’s rainy outside).

There’s an entire list of ideas at the link.

Why you should get a hobby

Hobbies keep you sane, hobbies are the best way to relax, hobbies are how to meet people like you. You can start a hobby any time. If you don’t know how to start a hobby, just follow these steps:

  • Pick a hobby or two from this list that interests you. https://www.artofmanliness.com/living/leisure/hobbies-for-men/
  • Jump in without thinking about it too much – just get started.
  • Set a budget, and be confident in spending that budget. Believe it or not, some people don’t spend enough on their hobbies. Hobbies are what keep you alive and interesting. Just stay in your budget and learn to enjoy spending on yourself.
  • Bonus! Tell people you like the hobby, then invite people who are interested. This follows the principles laid out in Never Eat Lunch Alone, a very good book that tells you how to make friends.

I like this list for other reasons. They use photos from the 1950s and 1960s. Probably they do this to avoid stock photo costs, but I like seeing that people have always had hobbies. And some hobbies get a bad reputation, but that’s all it is, a reputation. Do they bring you joy?

In the days of old, leisure time was not thought of as a chance to “veg out,” but as an opportunity to pursue one’s passions and interests — an outlet for the sides of a man that were not stimulated in his professional vocation. Hobbies were deemed important for the way in which they can strengthen every part of a man’s life.

Looking at these old time pictures is a reminder that so many hobbies are today shaped by mass entertainment and marketing. There are constantly messages of what we should and shouldn’t like, and so often, what we’re supposed to like and consider “normal” is sitting on a couch and watching movies or TV?

No thank you! Find a hobby you enjoy and go after it.

Is the internet getting worse?

Reasonably Polymorphic describes why lately, so much of the Internet feels bland and generic:

The internet feels now like it consists of ten big sites, plus fifty auxiliary sites that come up whenever you search for something outside of the everyday ten. It feels like it’s harder to find amateur opinions on matters, except if you look on social media, where amateur opinions are shared, unsolicited, with much more enthusiasm than they deserve.

Back in the 90s, the Internet seemed like a collection of Internet forums filled with weird people and all sorts of threads worth discovering, with new revelations every day. I’ve often wondered if I only remember it that way because I was young, or if it really was different.

But the spirit of the early web isn’t gone: the bookmarks I’ve kept these long decades mostly still work, and many of them still receive new content. There’s still weird, amateur, passion-project stuff out there.

I’d really like to know what those links are. The author believes search engine optimization is the biggest problem, and makes an interesting observation:

Google isn’t the only search engine around. There are others, but it’s fascinating that none of them compete on the basis of providing better results

It seems like a hard problem to solve. Any search engine that promises great results will eventually be broken by a savvy marketer with SEO skills. What would be helpful is a return to the early 90s – a curated list of blogs, not a search engine, but an aggregator only serving up high quality content. Users could then search through the headlines – effectively building a walled garden within the larger internet. As long as the content exists, that would be an easy place to start.

Interesting People

  1. Dieter Meier – From “ohhh yeah” to a millionaire investor. The definition of interesting.
  2. Everette Maddox – House poet of the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans.
  3. Marvin Przyblek – Doctor and founder of a medical association who later founded a training company. He also wrote a series of cyberpunk novels that became a video game released in 2021.
  4. Rose Livingston – Saved up to 5000 women from sex slavery, was beaten, shot, had a contract on her life, continued. Hero.
  5. Gustav Meyrink. On the very edge of suicide, a pamphlet slipped under his door. From then, he became a dedicated student of the occult, eventually becoming Germany’s premier supernatural writer.

Forever Young

I’ve watched this clip of the 1993 Oscars repeatedly, and I don’t know why. Is it nostalgia? Sure, it’s that – certainly playing Forever Young over 30 year-old-video is going to contribute to nostalgia. Is it sadness at the people who are no longer with us? Yes, there is some of that.

But I think it’s really sadness at the passage of time. I know we’re supposed to understand it’s part of life and all that, but it’s really strange how it still just…happens to us. And these people, who were effectively considered immortals in 1993, are not exempt.

One of the most interesting things about our ability to access quality video is that it makes time much more obvious to us, the shortness of our lives much more obvious, and the overall patterns of humanity more clear. All these actors were young and ambitious, most starting out broke – a story that’s been told a thousand times before, except now we compare these young people in 1993 to young people today. Today’s young are always competing with past versions. And we see that it’s more of the same. We all follow the same impulses, generation after generation. But we capture it in video.

If we had video of Julius Caesar or George Washington, would they have seemed much different than today’s politicians? Even the best ones? We’re witnessing the flattening of time and of myth.

Quote of the Day

Our entire antiquated process of adversarially writing high-stakes laws on paper at the last minute, deploying them in production to hundreds of millions of people without any testing, and then getting them interpreted in unpredictable ways by regulators and solicitors will be seen as a bizarre relic of an older time. Paper laws will go the way of powdered wigs.

From Balajis Srinivasan’s The Network State.

Brain computer interfaces becoming real

Oxley is the founder and CEO of Synchron, a company creating a brain-computer interface, or BCI. ​​These devices work by eavesdropping on the signals emanating from your brain and converting them into commands that then enact a movement, like moving a robotic arm or a cursor on a screen. The implant essentially acts as an intermediary between mind and computer.

On July 6 of this year, the first Synchron was implanted in a patient, enabling him to control a computer mouse. It’s also much easier to put in than other types of devices. Apparently there are quite a few instances of this starting to happen. Seems like a really interesting space to follow.

Pray to be prolific

“Don’t pray to be a better writer. Pray to be a more prolific writer.” I’m not sure who said that, I think it was Neil Gaiman, but anyway the quote really stuck with me because the point it makes is just to keep creating – eventually greatness will emerge.

That’s why I liked this Letter to a Young Songwriter, which says essentially the same thing, but is filled with helpful mental models:

Trying to be original is exhausting, and it is impossible. Give up the pursuit altogether. There’s no such thing as original, everything is derivative. Everything is a remix. The artists who are held up as ‘original’ are simply much better at remixing than everybody else. They make familiar remixes with elements people don’t quite expect, or they make unfamiliar mixes with familiar elements

Some notes:

  1. Focus on being prolific, not being the best.
  2. Creativity is about connecting dots. So it’s important to consume wisely, so you have more dots to connect.
  3. You should spend more time creating than consuming.
  4. Focus less on creating your own style, that will come naturally with output.
  5. Read biographies to learn how artists talk about their creative processes (acquire mental models).
  6. There’s more at the link.

Crime in the United States is down

It doesn’t feel like it, but according to Wikipedia:

the quantity of overall crime is still far below the peak of crime seen in the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s, as other crimes such as rape, property crime and robbery continued to decline.

Data like this is critical and nearly always omitted from news reports. The problem with representing data without context is that there is nothing to contrast. It would be much more helpful to see a dashboard of crime data compared against historic rates. The storytelling which is shared by the media is designed to produce engagement, not educate on the facts, which is a larger issue.

Overall statistics of crime however don’t mean much because crime is so local. If crime is down in Utah but up in Detroit where you live, all that matters is the Detroit statistic. I’ve also heard that data on murders is suppressed because better medicine produces less deaths from gunshots, but that’s a rumor and I’m not sure if it’s true. More here.