Attention Span

Everything is faster today. I am one of those people that has a hard time with attention span. I am easily distracted. It’s hard to sit still for more than a few minutes. I also have a hard time in disordered situations — too much stimulus drives me crazy. Loud music, things out of order, clutter, chaos of any sort makes it nearly impossible for me to concentrate. All of these little factors have manifested as very real problems in life. For nearly a decade after college, I barely read books at all — I just couldn’t get through a chapter before putting it down, getting distracted by something shiny, and never picking it up again. For the first ten… 

Goalposts & Relativism

Last week, Q2’s economic numbers confirmed that we are not in a recession. Sure, it’s a recession by how the dictionary defines it (two consecutive quarters of negative GDP) and how the Harvard Business School defines it (two quarters of negative GDP growth) and by all other visible means (waves of layoffs, high inflation, crashing home sales) but no, it’s not a recession. We were assured of this by a torrent of ivory-towered journalists letting loose a preemptive wave of opinion articles declaring that there is nothing to see here. We were additionally assured that all is fine by a Wikipedia editor who changed the article on recession to say “the definition of a recession varies between different countries and… 

The precedence of comfort

In the absence of critical analysis, comfort takes precedence over anything else. Without a long-term approach, without delaying gratification in the now for better results in the future, humanity always defaults towards comfort. Comfort can mean different things, but the tangible basics are the same. At some level, it involves basic human needs, but it doesn’t stop there. It starts with the necessities of survival like food and shelter, and it spans a massive spectrum of needs and wants until it ends with things like feeling important or being special. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with comfort. I’d argue that a huge part of a productive, practical life is forging towards new levels of comfort for you and your family.… 

Safety is for dupes

You’ve been duped. They told you that safety is the most important thing in life, and you believed them. So you took the safe choice in everything. You followed the advice of the college career counselor, you invested according to what some washed-up Northwestern Mutual advisor said, you passed on some risky opportunities, you bought the cheapest car, you used software to create your budget, you sent your kids to a mediocre school because it was free, you stayed home for a year because someone told you to. And look at you now. You drive a depreciating, dangerous new minivan. Your slim 401(k) can’t be withdrawn for another thirty years. You work a boring, stable, dead-end job with a mediocre… 

The lost art of doing whatever you want

Our civilization, as we have progressed towards an ambiguous perfection, has lost some of the dirt along the way. I don’t mean bad dirt. I mean good dirt. Near total freedom and independence is almost impossible to achieve in an interconnected, bureaucratic, streamlined world. You really start to wonder if the Luddites saw something of an actual prophecy in the steam-powered machines they sabotaged. There used to be a frontier. Wherever you were in the world, you could go a little bit further and find total independence. You might have had to raise your own cattle and shoot your own deer with a flintlock, maybe fend off a few wild bears, but you would have been pretty damn free. The… 

Good attempts

If a fellow in a ‘97 Civic challenges a dude in a ‘20 Porsche to a race, we’re not going to blame him for the loss. Getting to sixty miles an hour in a 1997 Honda Civic takes about 9.6 seconds. The 2020 Porsche GT3 RS takes around 2.9 seconds.

In this case, we don’t critique the loss. We critique the attempt. A terrible Civic driver who dumps the clutch and gives up with a pout before even finishing the run? Not worth our accolades.

Rules of the road

The other day, I met a nice guy. Solid dude. But he had an obsession with rules and fairness. Sort of a self-designated class monitor. The type of guy who, given a mortgage and middle age, would campaign to be in charge of his neighborhood watch organization and spend his weekends putting those signs up all over the place. You know, those signs showing the devious gangster holding a cloak over his face like Dracula. Fairness. Equity. Rules. No loitering after 10pm! He read through the entire rulebook for the board game before we started. Called “Time!” every time it was time. Debated the existence of loopholes. Negated sudden twists of chance. And jubilantly exulted upon a win. He won… 

The demonization of normality

When faced with problems, as humans we like to knee-jerk a hundred eighty degrees in the opposite direction. Faced with vanity and self-obsession, we like to condemn good looks. Faced with greed and hedonism, we like to condemn financial success. Faced with sloth and incompetence, we like to condemn relaxation. Faced with overwork and exhaustion, we like to condemn work. Of course, this doesn’t really make any sense. It’s never accurate to judge one swing of the pendulum by the extent of the counter-swing. In this maelstrom of polarities and counterpoints, society has developed into relying almost entirely upon ad hominem attacks. We are no longer judging the usefulness of a thing by the thing itself, but by who does… 

Failure disguised as caution

I knew a girl in college who was paralyzed by fear. She’d see a fire truck drive by and start worrying that her dorm was on fire. She’d hear about a robbery and ask people to walk her to her car. She’d study for weeks for mid-terms and literally shake in fear as she was leaving them, thinking she’d missed some crucial question. She would use hand sanitizer every few minutes.

Abby was a very bright girl. She got a good job and ended up with a great life. But despite a healthy intellect and marketable skills, she was fighting an uphill battle of risk avoidance. She was afraid of something — anything — going wrong. It’s hard to blame her. A lot of things go wrong.

universal basic mug

Money helps people.

Due to many factors – decreased violence, technological advancements, increased education, charitable aid, foreign investment – the amount of poverty in the developing world has decreased drastically over the past few decades. In 1990, over 36% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. By 2015, that figure was under 10%.

Regardless of how the folks got the money, having it is clearly positive.