Damn near everyone is cracking. Smart and dumb, black and white, religious and atheistic, rich and poor: there seems no discernible pattern to the great moral failing of our time. Before cracking, though, they were all convinced they never would, that their own moral rectitude would allow them to correctly determine right from wrong when the screws were tightened.

In even the best-designed system, there will be incentives to cheat, lie, and steal. When it comes to areas where the legal system has no say, society must hope that members have been imbued with some form of Kant’s categorical imperative: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. If you merely follow that directive, systemic weakness can remain unexploited. Which sounds so simple and seems so obvious during 2:30AM dorm-room trolley-problem debates but becomes quite another thing entirely when one must actually choose his community over self-interest. This is why your alignment between stated ethics and practiced ethics is so commendable.


You think Bob is terrible. This is so incandescently obvious that you can’t help but view disagreers as delusional.

What is most confusing are people who agree with your reasons for hating Bob – he never shows up on time, he fails to pay off debts, he cheated on five girlfriends – and yet who still support Bob. That is, they aren’t so far gone to deny the reality of Bob’s transgressions, but rather they reach a different conclusion from the same set of facts.

The notion of a “same set of facts” can still be true when we consider the matter of Bob’s positives. Everyone – yes, everyone – has positives. The same goes for news sources, politicians, public intellectuals, corporations, etc. To be disqualified, the bad has to so outweigh the good. And in the case of Bob, you’ve run the numbers and there should be no debate. Yet there is. How?


Far Too Detailed Review

Why you like art is never solely about the art but also about what is happening in your life during its consumption. Read a book in a certain mood, in a certain life phase and it does nothing. Read it again in a different mood, in a different life phase and it profoundly moves you.

So it is that your card hit me at just the right time that I woke up today and the idea appeared to respond with a hilariously not-normal 2020 review. By not-normal, I mean that reviews of any sort between friends who see each other infrequently rarely touch the most interesting parts of human experience. Usually, you spend all the time retelling all things you’ve been up to, happenings your friend genuinely wants to hear and that you genuinely want to tell, that the clock runs out before emotion, philosophy, and messiness is revealed.


Culture Creation

Oh my God did you see … is a phrase that’s carving out ever more conversational real estate. And yea, there are some crazy, disturbing things happening at the moment. So, paying attention and “getting educated” seems like a noble use of time. But however well-intentioned this enterprise may be, and even however productive it may be, its hamartia is obvious: what we are mostly doing is feeling good about ourselves by complaining about things we do not control and which have so very little actual effect on our day-to-day experiences. The flip side being that in a world that is infinitely vast and filled with nonsense, there remains much that we – specs of sand and soon to be forgotten – can still do to actually improve our lived experiences not in some far-off time, but today. And no, this is not about turning hyper-selfish per se; this is about a real appreciation that the “culture” you exist within is almost entirely not some thing out there controlled by the idiots in Oh my God did you see, but rather a tangible ethos that you are tasked with managing.


One to Ten: 2020

How did I do that? I don’t really know what happened. I’m scared I’ll never be able to repeat that again.

Kai Lenny

With nonpayside activity, there’s no immediate gain, but neither is there immediate risk, and this is tempting to us.

Jim Camp

The general precautionary principle delineates conditions where actions mus e taken to reduce risk of ruin, and traditional cost benefit analyses must not be used. These are ruin problem where, over time, expose to fail events lead to certain eventual extinction. While there is a very high probablity for humanity survivng a single such event, over time, there is eventually zero probability of surving repeated exposures to such event. While repeated risks can be taken by individuals w/ limited life expectancy, ruin exposures must never taken at the systemic/collective level.

Nassim Taleb


Boredom’s Texture

Blank page so blank. Where do ideas go? Where do they come from? How can I be brimming w/ them in one moment, and then empty in the next? What do you do when you have nothing to do? Being alone with options is quite different than the state w/o options. People are always an option. Sitting with someone is something in a way that sitting alone never can be.

There’s so much time. So much. Hilariously much. How do we ever think there isn’t enough? We schedule our lives so we don’t have to confront that truth. Be alone w/ no options and you are forced to confront it.

Whenever you feel like you have no options, there’s always a lower level to reach, but the level where you are cold, without electricity, and without the ability to anywhere to change those facts is a rather low level indeed.

Suffering is infinitely more bearable when you know the expiration date. 


Cracking (redux)

i thought i could endlessly amuse myself in isolation. i thought that the gospel of self-improvement was enough. i thought if humanity needed a single brave soul to check out, say, jupiter’s moons, i could be such a soul.

i was wrong.

for here i am on an innocent saturday cracking. this is it? this is all existence offers? really?

guitar: too hard
food: too repetitive
reading: am i even paying attention?
fitness: for what?
writing: i have no ideas
exploring: it’s 28 degrees
driving: ice owns all
friends: i have none who aren’t (a) petrified of covid or (b) officially in a life stage where the tv and its attached streaming services are more enjoyable than hanging with a cracked-out crazy person like me

i can’t even go to my usual oasis of coffee ’cause just like the type of person who would hubristically think he could solo through the universe, i decided to give it up and expunge the last bit of fun from daily life.

i want to do drugs. that would solve this. d::::::r:::::::u::::::g:::::::::s so it’s no longer this day=that day=yesterday=tomorrow.

but wait. xxxxxxxxx. it stares at me on the venom-injection precipice. and not just xxxxxxxxx, but xxxxxxxxx+guest. there is this girl that maybe i like {though maybe it’s just loneliness}, who maybe is interested in me {though who knows because part of her charm is her mystery in such matters}, who maybe would let me touch her {just the clavicle is all i’m asking for}, and then all would be well enough to obviate future “interventions.” hope’s power is destructive in taking us out of this here moment, but sometimes this here moment is maybe worth destroying.

Not a Champ

Champ? To some, sure. I hiked 3hrs yesterday to a friend who had power … only to have him lose it hrs later. I did hundreds of pushups, jumping jacks, and laps around the inside of his house. I read for hrs & have written several pages on this trusty legal pad. I even mounted his Peloton and broke a sweat. That all sounds kind of impressive when I write it out, but I assure you it is not. I’m bored in an unprecedented way; time is moving at the speed it moves for a child on Xmas morning as he counts down to 7AM when presents can be unwrapped. The major difference is I have nothing to look forward to. “It’s only XPM?!?!??!” FUCK. I hate the practice of “killing time,” and yet I’m struggling to break its mind grip. There’s something important to be learned in these tragic mental depths…

Was I Wrong?

Hahah. What’s come in handy is my propensity to make up stupid little games for my own amusement. Still, I’m bored in what feels like an unprecedented way. It makes me wonder if I’ve overrated my ability to thrive “alone.” This is not to say my preference ever has been infinite bachelorhood, just that I feel I’d never need to desperately settle for a woman since the alternative (i.e., being alone) is more than fine. Though, hopefully, life alone/coupled will not ever again be lived in a 40-degree apartment w/o electricity or food, and so any conclusions drawn from such an experience are probably none too relevant for 21st-century living. TBD.

Red Bull

It will not “solve” it, but it will reduce the suffering. For the energized self is often the best self, the one most likely to charge into laughter instead of anger, creativity instead of frustration, and compassion instead of egocentricity. It’s these probabilities, far more than any long-term health benefits, that should motivate us to *actually* prioritize sleep instead of merely rehearsing incantations about blue light, caffeine, and bedtime consistency without ever enacting the required dramatic behavior changes. 

“Does this mean I can’t …?” YES, that’s exactly what “dramatic” means. You thought you could transform into your best self without some serious sacrifices?

“Well, how about I just drink some Red Bull and obviate these unpleasant sounding ‘dramatic’ changes?” Because you might end up powerless in the blistering cold with no plausible access to Red Bull. Having trained your body to rely so heavily on a foreign substance that now may as well be discontinued forever, your FML quotient will be 4x your peers’. Which maybe you think doesn’t matter much, “I mean, it’s only, like, four days,” but once in it, that time will be indistinguishable from eternity. 

tl;dr No, Red Bull will not solve this problem.