Do Cool Stuff

Somehow, someway I experience minimal material wanting or pressure. Oh sure, I’ll see a catchy advert and be momentarily tossed into a cycle of thinking how much better my life would be if I had, say, that freshest cell phone. But I’m good at catching myself and accepting that winning these mental battles is a necessary part of a modern existence bursting with advertising. It’s also bursting with nudges, big and small, conveying the message that my happiness is contingent on upping my neighbor purchase-wise. Again, I reject the proposal and experience zero jealousy as the girl-next-door piles up the latest and greatest.

But don’t see me as some moral hero totally divorced from the interpersonal competition; I’m simply competing on a different metric. I was in Milwaukee a few weeks ago at a nice dinner with some nice people. One of these people was regaling the crowd with tales of his adventures from three years in Shanghai. The more, more, more impulse flowed through me. He has done cooler stuff than me. I need to do some cooler stuff. Maybe I should move to Tokyo or Singapore.

I have very few goals in life. At the top of that short list is “Be Wise.” The high correlation coefficient (~.8) between age and wisdom can hide the fact that it’s experience, not time, “causing” wisdom. Thus, if one does not make wisdom-maximizing choices, he may well end up a sheltered 70-year-old bested by an unusually intrepid teenager.


generally do not.

No Lie No Movie

Something close to 100% of romantic comedies would be DOA without a protagonist telling a dumb lie. By dumb, I mean a lie that will clearly, obviously, certainly be revealed in time. A lie that people may bizarrely utter, but which they can quickly undo: Don’t know why I said that. Sorry. I am in a relationship. 

I can appreciate not revealing secrets under the belief that with more time together you’ll be insulated from the downside that’s present on date one – get a partner to the “sunk cost” phase for increased safety. But this doesn’t work with outright lies. Quite the opposite, actually. The more time that goes on, the more appalling the lie. So that whole year you were actually… is far more damning than So that whole week you were actually…

Stress and anxiety can be mighty tough opponents with no clear answers. That’s not the case in romantic comedy lies: as quickly as possible, tell the truth to both increase the chance of relationship success and of your own tranquility.


Congratulations! Not an easy thing to do. But if you are simply jumping from one “certain” view to another, I fear you haven’t learned the most important point: your certainty was clearly misguided before, not solely because the idea was wrong but because you are flawed and susceptible to a type of black/white thinking that places you and your ilk (you never truly have a unique thought) as wise carriers of truth in a world where such a thing doesn’t actually exist.

And yet you think you’ve done it again! Somehow admitting being so terribly wrong did so very little to deflate the confidence in your own thinking. Which, ok, I buy that your thinking can get better over time, that you are more likely to, say, fall for a sending-money-from-Africa-please-oh-please-help-me-out scam as a teen, but you didn’t fall for a scam or a dumb idea merely because you were young or naive or poorly read; no, you fell for it because there is something within you that craves knowing the “secret” truth, to having it all figured out, to being in on something big or cool or smart or whatever. Until you realize this and are actually humbled in way where you absorb some real complicity, you’ll bounce around always sure you are better than people who, deep down, aren’t thinking all that differently from you, despite wildly different conclusions. 



A Reason to Go Hard

If you want to rapidly increase wisdom, you must be willing to jump from one thing to something totally different. This only works, though, if you truly commit to the first thing before switching. For if the knowledge that you’ll never be anywhere for all that long leads to ambivalence, so many of the gains from doing a bunch of things is lost: you never, actually, did anything. Not all that well, at least.

There are benefits to long-term commitment, to being a “sticker.” A skilled “jumper” accepts this reality and attempts to close the gap by going so very hard while in any one thing. Instead of ambivalence, he realizes how fleeting it all is (by choice, sure), and doubles down efforts to suck as much value before it ends.

It’s much easier to live every day as if it’s your last if you know tomorrow will be totally different.

7.3.2021 Rule GT6432

While you’ll find existence is a cornucopia of lovely experiences, you’ll also find that the current iteration of human is spending an outsized share of his time mired in frivolity and hate. Not that these states are necessarily bad or unproductive, just that creativity is dulled by residing in these states for too long.

And it is through creativity and the accompanying excitement it so often births that a population can become problem-solvers of the highest order. This is not only good for the advancement of society but also for the individuals themselves, or so King World XVIII believes.

See, instead of 4.15.20 Rule HJ8945 offering King World XVIII a respite from circling thoughts about free will, his thoughts merely morphed into an offshoot problem the Free Will Battles rarely cover. That is: why do humans use their free will in ways that reliably hurt their long-term self-interests? Yea, yea, yea, there’s the whole immediate satisfaction bit and evolution in a world of scarcity and blah blah blah, but none of that reasonableness offers a path forward. King World XVIII wanted a path forward.


You think it’s hard to eat healthy when poor? Try being rich. For when you are rich, the enemy has maximal incentive to manically temp you. When you are poor, the upside of such efforts is necessarily limited by your minimal disposable income, so there’s a reasonable hope that you, dear poor person, can prevail.

Choice is so much of the problem. Rich people have too many choices and thus too many temptations. You can say “no” to the first fake-healthy restaurant, but can you resist the 12th? Poor people say “no” once to the single Chuch’s Chicken and the questions end.

Oh wait, are you one of those people who gullibly believes there’s a place with a lot of consumers and no grocery store? People would love to shop at the grocery store armed with no less than hundreds of food stamp dollars if only some generous businessman would build such a place? You realize this makes zero sense. If a confluence of people with any amount of money desperately want something, that need will be met.

And no, you don’t need to be rich to eat healthily. $175 pmpm from food stamps is more than enough to purchase pounds of frozen vegetables, chicken, and potatoes.

But of course we arrive back at a lesser version of the challenge rich people face: choosing healthy is harder than choosing unhealthy. Perhaps the contrasts are uglier for poor people with a single we-fry-everything “restaurant” competing against a dust-ridden yellow-lit grocery store. Still, temptation not yet being absolutely everywhere makes the poor person’s battle, all else being equal, easier.

I just have to tell someone

about new love used to be the irrepressible conversational topic. Now it’s politics. Sad.

It’s Too Tempting

Unless you are in the 99th percentile of discipline and self-control you will fall. Such excellence shouldn’t be required to make it through a day, but it now is in our casino-like modern world. If some pleasure is good, more is better. If some money is good, more is better. And so, 5 grams becomes 50. The limiting principle is, presumably, an amount that’s so high it’s no longer pleasurable, but then we will just fall back to 50 – an amount nearly impossible to resist. Or maybe the limit will be an efficacy loss from repeated exposure? You suck down 50g so many times the rush is gone and you look for the next high. And then we get to a place where all the highs have been tapped and the board suggests selling lows as the “the new high”?

Those hypothetical limits are only hypothetical in our current trap of convenient pleasure.

What a splendid pie, pizza-pizza pie
Every minute, every second, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy
What a splendid pie, pizza-pizza pie
Every minute, every second, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy
Pepperoni and green peppers, mushrooms, olive, chives
Pepperoni and green peppers, mushrooms, olive, chives
Need therapy, therapy, advertising causes
Need therapy, therapy, advertising causes
Need therapy, therapy, advertising causes
Therapy, therapy, advertising causes

You really think with billions spent selling pleasure you can resist? You think with c-corps hiring the very best to manipulate your mind, a la casinos, you can just try a little? You think your “free will” matters in this? Ha. Lay’s told you the truth in 1983: NO ONE CAN EAT JUST ONE. And just think how much more sophisticated the salesmen have become in the intervening years.

I once thought Stan was so correct:

Dad, you like to drink. So have a drink every once in a while. Have two. If you devote your whole life to completely avoiding something you like, then that thing still controls your life and you’ve never learned any discipline at all … All or nothing is easy. But learning to drink a little bit responsibly, that’s a discipline. 

Sure, I still think moderation is possible, but I think the number who can do it well is rapidly diminishing as more and more and more stuff is tossed in the “Requires Discipline” bucket. Because while you may properly control your impulses with drinking, you have to fight that same battle on the tv, phone, porn, gambling, and food fronts as well. A safe haven simply doesn’t exist in 2022. Thus it’s a minor miracle if you only capitulate a few times in a day.

You’ll rebrand these capitulations as “moderation,” as if some amount of a bad thing is ok. Make no mistake, by taking cheap pleasures, your ability to capture real, sustaining pleasures, ones that are only accessible from extreme resistance to the present self’s desires, are greatly diminished. So diminished, in fact, you may well forget they exist. That is what the c-corps want, after all. They want you to think the highest form of pleasure is, indeed, eating a chip. And if you do still see that as the lie it is, can you muster the massive effort required to end the surrenders? That effort requires an understanding that the very notion of moderation is being aggressively sold by those same c-corps so you don’t ask whether nothing may well be the better choice.

I’m increasingly thinking nothing is.

Right Things vs. Wrong Things

I think our society too often celebrates the wrong things. And because of this, we humans are too often pursuing the wrong things. By wrong, I simply mean stuff that will not maximize flourishing, and may, in fact, militate against it. Which all leads to my appearance here today: I want to celebrate your candor, a vital right thing that you have demonstrated since the first day I met you.

Now, most everyone will nod their heads in agreement, Oh yes, being honest is so important. Crucial. Gotta do it. But then they will proceed to behave quite counter to this “obvious” ideal. Aside from a few truly malevolent actors, I think this discrepancy between words and actions is due to an incorrect prioritization, not actual falseness in supporting the value of truth.

Take a meet-up with a friend that begins the same way all such meet-ups begin, “How are you doing?” Let’s pretend this isn’t merely small talk, that the friend has infinite time and truly craves a real answer. You can (a) highlight (with perhaps some truth shading) the things that seem to enhance your status – Damn, she is smart! Damn, she is cool! Damn, she is impressive! – or (b) nakedly highlight the things that might reduce your status. Now, being smart, cool, or impressive isn’t a wrong thing, but the pursuit of status over all else is. It’s this attitude of more, more, more just because it looks good that drives (a) over (b). Nearly everyone wants to be truthful, but only about certain types of truths.