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November 21 2023

novelty, the !Kung San, drones in the X-Games

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Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life

Winifred Gallagher

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i think when i tell people i don't like traveling for fun because it ruins my routines, this is what i mean. chasing depth in the 'mundane' is where the secrets of life lie imo, not breadth first searching the globe for joy.

When your lifespan seems limited, as it does among elders, your attention sensibly shifts to emotional satisfaction in the here-and-now and to worthwhile “sure things” rather than novelty. Interestingly, when young people are thrust into situations that highlight life’s fragility, such as war or serious illness, they too tend to focus on fulfilling experiences in the present moment. As Carstensen puts it, “Age does not entail the relentless pursuit of happiness, but rather the satisfaction of emotionally meaningful goals, which involves far more than simply ‘feeling good.’”

garbage in, garbage out

WHATEVER YOUR TEMPERAMENT, living the focused life is not about trying to feel happy all the time, which would be both futile and grotesque. Rather, it’s about treating your mind as you would a private garden and being as careful as possible about what you introduce and allow to grow there.

Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

Christopher Ryan

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like that one time all bananas were almost wiped out because they are all genetically the same

A major facet of the optimism trumpeted by Ridley and other proponents of the NPP is that we’re “much better fed” today than people were in prehistoric times. This conclusion relies upon the neo-Hobbesian assumption that starvation was common until agriculture saved the day, which is approximately the opposite of true. The !Kung San foragers of the Kalahari desert, for example, eat an average of 2,140 calories per day, with ninety-three grams of protein. Because they rely on more than eighty wild plants, they are unlikely ever to face the starvation that strikes societies dependent upon just a few crops, which can and do fail. While foragers faced occasional food shortages, their mobility and varied diet allowed them to adapt to changing conditions in ways that modern populations simply cannot.

Our species has gone from a situation in which the norm was for everyone to be well fed, with occasional, brief periods of hunger, to one in which almost 2 billion of us are obese or overweight (and many of those also malnourished), while more than 800 million are chronically hungry or literally starving to death. In what sense, exactly, is this “progress”?

dead baby jokes were popular in my middle school too, some 40 years after the 1960s source

When I was a kid, dead baby jokes were all the rage at school for a year or two. I still remember a few of them. Although none was particularly funny, the “jokes” weren’t about humor so much as touching a nerve—the jokey equivalent of a pestering tongue on a loose tooth. (What’s the best Christmas gift for a dead baby? A dead puppy. Hilarious to a certain kind of ten-year-old.) Some scholars have argued that the dead baby joke phenomenon began in the 1960s in the United States in response to the legalization of abortion and disturbing images coming back from Vietnam. Few thoughts are as emotionally triggering to our species as the death of infants.

if you die at 0y/o, you drag down the curve the most, because no one lives to 140 to counterbalance

When Mark Twain famously said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics,” he could have been talking about the statistics commonly cited to argue that human longevity has doubled or tripled thanks to civilization. “Life expectancy” has increased primarily because so many more infants and children now survive into adulthood. When infant mortality goes down, average life expectancy at birth goes up. When you include these early deaths in your calculations, “average life span” amounts to somewhere between thirty and forty years. But a thirty- or forty-year-old human being has never been old. Specialists from the fields of anthropology, medicine, evolutionary biology, and primatology all agree that our species’ natural life span is around double that, and always has been.

i've always been of the opinion that you should keep count of your comorbidities, bc outside of random events, they are the strongest indicator of your imminent demise

In their comprehensive paper “Longevity Among Hunter-Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination,” anthropologists Michael Gurven and Hillard Kaplan discard slippery averages in favor of the modal age of death, which refers to “a peak in the distribution of deaths… the age at which most people experience sufficient physical decline such that if they do not die from one cause, they soon die from another.” The modal age of death, in other words, is the age at which individuals in any given species are coming to the end of their natural lives. And the modal age of death for our species? Gurven and Kaplan couldn’t be clearer: “The modal age of adult death is about seven decades, before which time humans remain vigorous producers, and after which senescence rapidly occurs and people die. We hypothesize that human bodies are designed to function well for about seven decades in the environment in which our species evolved.”

i agree with this, a good evidence point is our reliance on sitting in comfort, and how slowly this changes the physics of the spine and pressures the lungs. text neck, basically.

Misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the data on human longevity have caused generations of physicians and researchers to ignore overwhelming evidence that modern inactivity, stress levels, diets, and so on are pathogenic (disease causing). Many well-meaning physicians, for example, believe chronic back pain is the inevitable result of modern humans’ living twice as long as our ancestors. Medical students are told that the human body is breaking down because it is being pressed into service for a far longer life span than it was designed for, like a 1958 Chevy still rumbling through the streets of Havana. Framed by this ubiquitous, erroneous understanding of human evolution, chronic pain, failing joints, cognitive disorders, and many other health issues arising after forty may appear to be signs of progress—not what they are: evidence of how modern life makes us sick.

some say survival of the fittest is fair, but its not fair. its indifferent.

While a significantly greater percentage of infants died in prehistory than today, even that point isn’t as unambiguous as it seems. First, many of those deaths were cases of what might be called “postnatal abortion” of children born in times of resource depletion (during a severe drought, for example) or with congenital deformities or other disabilities that would now be detected during prenatal testing, often resulting in an abortion. Such infants would not have survived long in a world where it was crucial to be mobile, vigorous, and sharp-eyed.

or sparta!

Infanticide is hardly a practice relegated to foragers, having been so widespread in Europe that foundling hospitals were opened to address the plight of infants being left to die by the side of the road. In the early 1800s, roughly a third of the babies born in Paris were left at the foundling hospital. For most of the infants, foundling hospitals offered little hope of survival. Of the 4,779 babies admitted to a hospital in Paris in 1818, for example, 2,370 died within three months.

According to Chinese government records, about thirty-five thousand abortions are performed in that country every day. In China and India particularly, but not exclusively, healthy female fetuses are traditionally aborted because boys are preferred. My intention is not to debate the ethics of abortion, but to highlight the mathematical absurdity of including infant deaths in calculations of prehistoric life expectancy while excluding the many millions of abortions performed each year in estimations of contemporary life expectancy.


What Should You Work On? - David Perell


the pipeline of mediocrity tends to attract those who internalize risk portfolio averages. those who overcome it realize that even calculated risk misses most calculations.

Too many of our smartest minds are working on trivial tasks and spending their time in corporations where they feel invisible. The vast majority of my friends who work for big companies say they’re bored, unchallenged, and under-employed. They don’t see the tangible benefits of their hard work.

i have bad ideas all the time, but bad ideas sometimes re-bucket themselves. you can't know this until you game ideas out a bit in the real world.

“There’s a strange phenomenon in Silicon Valley where large levels of successful founders seem to have Asperger’s. You can turn that around as an indictment of society. What is it about society where if you don’t have Asperger’s, you’re talked out of ideas before they’re fully formed?”

that said it is easy to hide behind placards that you are an undiscovered genius and blah blah blah. realistically everyone who got into harvard self selected to be around peers who end up in a life that is comfortable and good. this rhetoric can be as toxic as the companies it deposes

Risk-averse parents and educators push children down conventional paths. Parents enroll their kids in the same schools and the same extracurriculars to help them get into the same colleges, so they can work for the same corporations. In 2007, more than half of Harvard graduates went to work in investment banking or management consulting. At Elon University, my alma mater, career advisors pushed us towards secure, but complacent careers at large corporations like three-letter media companies and the big-four accounting firms.

Broadly, there are five buckets that talented people should start companies around: energy, education, housing, healthcare, and transportation. That’s because the western world has stagnated on all five fronts. For every sector except energy and sometimes housing, costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation.

High-speed drones are revolutionizing how we watch winter sports

Sandy Thin


drone olympics inc 2028

“It requires an athlete’s performance to capture the athlete’s performance,” he explains.

wonder how ubiquitous vr training will be for hands on fields

Without a chance for practice runs down the course, the athletes prepare by using VR headsets to watch Kocher’s drone runs, in order to decide how best to tackle the mountain when it comes to competition.

Nepal bans TikTok and says it disrupts social harmony

AP News


call me totalitarian of w/e but i think this kind of thing is great. too often societies suffer from tragedy of the commons bc a small vocal class likes a thing (cigarettes, cars, etc.) or is afraid of snowballing into "dictatorship". it is a govt job to take a detached look at what a technology does to a society and pull the cord if its bad. i do the same thing on a local scale with apps like freedom. a good thing about apps (instead of cars, or guns) – is that you can merely yeet it from the app store, problem solved.

no one had an issue when apple was going to yeet uber for lying. its a govts job to "be the shared adult in the room", esp if the country is poor and susceptible to scams like axie infinity.

“The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary to regulate the use of the social media platform that was disrupting social harmony, goodwill and flow of indecent materials,” Saud said.

Nepal has banned all pornographic sites in 2018.

The Complex Personality of Genghis Khan

Andrew Szekler


got level shit here

It was during these years that an early sign of cruelty came to light when Genghis and one of his brothers murdered one of their half-brothers, who refused to share food with them. Although their half-brother's behaviour was horrible, especially considering their dire circumstances, the punishment he received for his crime was way out of line, and Genghis’s mother was horrified when she found out what his sons did, describing them as little better than beasts.

In return of him respecting the diplomats of other rulers, he expected them to respect his envoys in return. In hindsight, it is no surprise that the Great Khan was outraged when the Khwarezmian Shah executed and humiliated his diplomats, a move that doomed his own empire, which was destroyed by the Mongols to avenge the humiliation suffered by the Khan’s diplomats.

as the aphorism goes: keep your friends close, and the-people-who-shot-you-in-the-neck-with-an-arrow closer

One particular example of Genghis spotting a talented man was his general Jebe. Jebe initially was serving under an enemy of Genghis and nearly killed him in a battle by hitting the Khan in his neck with an arrow. The wound was terrible, and Genghis barely survived, but once he recovered sufficiently, he ordered the man who nearly killed him to be brought to him. Jebe pleaded that as a soldier of his tribe, he was only doing his duty, but if Genghis would enrol him into his own army, he would serve him as loyally as he did his previous commanders. The honesty of Jebe won over Genghis, who spared him and Jebe became one of his greatest commanders.

dude actually had a bridge four, holy shit

This sort of magnanimity was not limited to this single individual case, as Genghis’s empire grew, he made sure to spare the lives of talented craftsmen, administrators, engineers and soldiers, who were usually offered the chance to join him. Though it also has to be noted that oftentimes defeated enemies were also forcefully enrolled on the Mongol armies and used as meatshields in their battles or sieges when the Mongols sent these men into the vanguard to minimize their own losses.

Designing a New Old Home: Defining Constraints

Simon Sarris


to delay or not to delay a time consuming and pricey house remodel, that is the question

If there are features you’re on the fence about, or aren’t yet sure how to design, it can be ideal to delay if it’s not intrusive to add later. As you actually start to live in the space you can decide if its something you really need or not. And once you start using your home, you might see the design of some part in a totally different way. A simple example is the design of our kitchen island and shelves, which we took a year to think about while using the space. Even simpler: we wired the pantry with electricity for a microwave, but even after a few years we still never felt the need for one, so we could pass on that and keep the extra pantry space. Another example is in our closets as mentioned above, which we are happily doing without after almost four years, and feel no need to install any. We will probably add another mudroom someday, though, so the side entrance has more storage.

The downside of delaying are somewhat obvious: Any time you want to add a closet or a mud room later, you will have to call another contractor, make a new mess, and possibly get more building permits, which ultimately adds cost compared to doing it all at once. And some people may find the power of inertia holds them back from making too many changes once they live in the space. Having to move all your stuff out of a room to do some renovation in a lived-in area is its own kind of constraint.