He was bad enough to desire a woman who wasn’t his wife, but he was also bad at being bad.

He should have borne it stoically, but on his bad days he was unable not to do things he would later regret. It was almost as if he did them because he would later regret them. Writhing with retrospective shame, abusing himself in solitude, was how he found his way back to God’s mercy.

What would it be like to live with a person capable of joy?

public display of emotion purchased overwhelming approval.

Becky took it as a reminder that her mother was better than her at writing, she herself better at nothing her mother valued.

Simply by trying to speak honestly, surrendering to emotion, supporting other people in their honesty and emotion, she experienced her first glimmering of spirituality.

the risk in risk-taking was stabbing pain

It was a mistake to say that. I don’t even know if it’s true. It’s like there are these words, they’re out there in the world, and you start wondering what it would be like to say them. Words have their own power – they create the feeling, just by the fact of your saying them. I’m so sorry I tried to make you say them. I love that you were honest with me. I love – oh, shit.” She slumped, crying again. “I am in love with you.” (more…)

He was someone who did things, who got things done. Life belonged to people like that.

A physician can only cure diseases meant to be cured; the Buddha can only save those meant to be saved.

If the future wished to pass judgment on our struggles, then at least it was now possible to send someone to the future to explain the misunderstandings brought about by the passage of time.

Yuor intuition is unreliable in space. If you must act on intuition, count from one to one hundred first. At least count from one to ten.

The body, when given an opportunity to make up for an absence, may do so excessively, and recover to the point where it has more of that quality than those who had never suffered such inadequacy.

But at some point, humanity began to develop the illusion that they’re entitled to life, that life can be taken for granted. This is the fundamental reason for your defeat. The fall of evolution will be raised once again on this world, and you will now fight for your survival.

Tianminq’s stories had now acquired a status akin to the Bible. Without realizing it, people were no longer searching for real strategic intelligence, but reassurance that they were already on the right course.

Not long ago on Pluto, Cheng XIn had experienced one of the most relaxed moments of her life. Indeed, it was easy to face the end of the world: All responsibilities were gone, as were all worries and anxieties. Life was as simple and pure as the moment when on first emerged from the mother’s womb. Cheng Xin just had to wait in peace for her poetic, artistic end, for her moment to join the giant painting of the Solar System.

Humanity chose you, which meant they chose to treat life and everything else with love, even if they had to pay a great price. You fulfilled the wish of the world, carried out their values, and executed their choice. You really didn’t do anything wrong.

The Solar System human spilled their last drop of blood to stay with their land – well, save for two drops: you and AA. But what was the point? They didn’t last, and neither did their land. Hundreds of millions of years have passed in the great universe, and do you think anyone remembers them? This obsession with home and land, this permanent adolescence where you’re no longer children but are afraid to leave home – this is the fundamental reason your race was annihilated.


For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the ma or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, they can be together. If not, they will split up. It’s as simple as that.

One of his key points was that the advantages of a large country were only truly advantageous in low-tech eras and would ultimately be weakened by the swift pace of tech progress.

No, you can’t say where it is! Once I know where I am, then the world becomes as narrow as a map. When I don’t know, the world feels unlimited.

It’s because someone who’s perfect in your mind isn’t necessarily perfect in the minds of others.

This is the biggest difference between you and me: I’m just someone who faithfully carries out orders. You, you’re someone who always has to ask why.

people who are sensitive to beauty are good by nature, and if they’re not good, then they can’t appreciate beauty.

Weapons? Money? No, no. What we need is far more precious. The organization doesn’t exist because of Seldon’s ambitious goals. You can’t get a sane, rational person to believe in and die for that. It exists because it possesses something, something that’s its air and blood, and without which the organization would wither away immediately.

What’s that?

Hatred. On one hand, thanks to our common enemy, our hatred of the West has faded. Ont he other, the human race that the Trisolarans want to wipe out includes the hated West, so to us, perishing together would be a joy. So we don’t hate the Trisolarans. You see, hatred is a treasure more precious than gold or diamonds, and a weapon keener than any in the world, but now it’s gone. It’s not yours to give back. SO the organization, like me, does not have long to live.

The layman always comes up with better names than the expert.

First, survival is the primary need of civilization. Second, civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter of the universe remains constant.

How often does it occur that information provided you on the morning radio or television, or in the morning newspaper, causes you to alter your plans for the day, or to take some action you would not otherwise have taken, or provides insight into some problem you are required to solve? … But most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action.

Prior to the age of telegraphy, the information-action ratio was sufficiently close so that most people had a sense of being able to control some of the contingencies in their lives. What people knew about had action-value. In the information world created by telegraphy, this sense of potency was lost, precisely because the whole world became the context for news. Everything became everyone’s business. For the first time, we were sent information which answered no question we had asked, and which, in any case, did not permit the right to reply.

We may say then that the contribution of the telgraph to public discourse was to dignify irrelevance and amplify impotence. But this was not all: Telegraphy also made public discourse essentially incoherent. It brought into being a world of broken time and broken attention. The principal strength of the telegraph was its capacity to move information, not collect it, explain it or analyze it.

The telegraph is suited only to flashing messages, each to be quickly replaced by a more up-to-date message. Facts push other facts into and then out of consciousness at speeds that neither permit nor require evaluation.

The telegraph introduced a kind of public conversation whose form had startling characteristics: Its language was the language of headline – sensational, fragmented, impersonal. News took the form of slogans, to be noted with excitement, to be forgotten with dispatch. Its language was also entirely discontinuous. One message had no connection to that which preceded or followed it.

But what I am claiming here is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience.


re: Housing

Ben Felix

  • Can’t compare rent to mortgage payments
  • Can compare unrecoverable costs: a cost you pay w/ no associated residual value
    • Rent: the rent
    • Buy: not mortgage payment, property taxes, maintenance cost, and cost of capital
  • Property taxes ~ 1%; generally higher in states w/o income taxes (like 2%)
  • Maintenance costs ~ 1% of the home’s value
  • Cost of capital
    • Cost of debt: interest costs ~ 3% (add with pt, mc = 5% rule)
    • Cost of equity capital: you put down 20% on real estate instead of an alternative asset.
      • Globally real estate returned 1.3% from 1900 – 2017; stocks returned 5.2% after 1.7% inflation. So a nominal return of 3% for real estate; 6.9% for stocks. Round it to 3% cost of equity capital in real estate.
  • 5% rule: take value of the home you are considering, multiply by 5%, and divide by 12. If you can rent for less than that, renting is sensible.
    • $500,000K home would have $25,000 in unrecoverable costs or $2,083 per month
    • Can go the other way. Rental of $3k, multiply by 12, and divide by 5 is $720k. SO renting for 3K is financially equivalent to buying a $720k home.
  • 5% rule becomes 4% if you are holding a less aggressive stock portfolio, if you are taxed harshly on those investments, etc.
  • Housing best investment ever?
    • Real estate return = net rental income + price increase in the home
    • If you live in the house, you don’t get the rental income
    • So really, if you are living in the house, you already aren’t the subject of most claims about real estate’s great returns
    • 1870-2015 for GLOBAL housing 7.05% compared to 6.89% for stocks
      • but that means that you had to invest in housing in ALL countries
      • plus, housing, unlike stock, is not homogenous
      • and if you could buy housing across the world, you still have to manage all the properties
      • investing in any one asset is not a compensated risk. uncompensated risks can usually be diversified away by investing in a whole asset class, but that is hard with real estate.
    • If your monthly housing cost is higher than what you could rent it for, that loss will decline over time assuming your mortgage is fixed and there exists some level of rent inflation
    • Missing a single month of rent per year crushes returns
    • You basically have to be perfect to match the stock market
    • And if you buy in a single locality, you are in a similar situation to buying a single stock: the idiosyncrasies of the locality profoundly affect you
  • Why rent instead of buy?
    • Less risk: Short-term (<10 yrs) price fluctuations can crush a buyer who has to move. Not to mention the risk of taking on debt.
    • Predictable cost: maintenance costs for homes that can be random
    • No investment illusion: homeowners will spend heavily on a variety of things under the guise of increasing the price of the home even though there is no such guarantee that such efforts will pay off
      • Buildings can never go up in value. Ever. Period. Only land can go up in value.
  • Homeowners also pay “rent”
    • Renting services from the city in the form of property taxes
    • Unrecoverable maintenance costs just to keep their house inhabitable
    • Renting money from the bank while they have a mortgage
  • What about once the mortgage is paid off?
    • $500k home. Could sell and keep $475. Could invest that money at 6% while the long-term expected return on real estate is only 3%. That difference is op cost or $14k per year. Plus you still have maintenance and taxes post-mortgage.
  • People think their homes are better investments than they actually were. Big numbers. Failing to understand compound returns and the costs along the way.  Not to mention inflation.


All Instapaper Notes

Our Teetotaling Elites | The American Conservative

That may come as a nasty shock to Christ Himself, who was known to serve wine at supper, and enjoyed the odd tipple with prostitutes and tax men.

Everything Is Broken

Anyone actually concerned with solving deep-rooted social and economic problems, or God forbid with creating something unique or beautiful—a process that is inevitably messy and often involves exploring heresies and making mistakes—will hit a wall. If they are young and remotely ambitious they will simply snuff out that part of themselves early on, strangling the voice that they know will get them in trouble before they’ve ever had the chance to really hear it sing.

Everything Is Broken

“You might not even realize you’re not where you started.” The machines trained us to accept, even chase, this high. Once we accepted it, we turned from willful individuals into parts of a mass that could move, or be moved, anywhere. Once people accepted the idea of an app, you could get them to pay for dozens of them—if not more. You could get people to send thousands of dollars to strangers in other countries to stay in homes they’d never seen in cities they’d never visited. You could train them to order in food—most of their food, even all of their food—from restaurants that they’d never been to, based on recommendations from people they’d never met. You could get them to understand their social world not as consisting of people whose families and faces one knew, which was literally the definition of social life for hundreds of thousands of years, but rather as composed of people who belonged to categories—“also followed by,” “friends in common,” “BIPOC”—that didn’t even exist 15 years ago. You could create a culture in which it was normal to have sex with someone whose two-dimensional picture you saw on a phone, once.

Everything Is Broken

The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.



(Had Vincent succeeded? She felt by any rational measure she was living an extraordinary life, but on the other hand she wasn’t sure what the goal had been. later she stood alone on the terrace, filming the Mediterranean, and thought, Maybe this could be enough. Maybe not everyone needs to have a specific ambition. ic ould be the sort of person who just goes to beautiful places and owns beautiful things. Maybe I could film five-minute videos of every sea and every ocean and perhaps there would be some meaning in that project, some kind of completion.)

It wasn’t the romance of the century, but it didn’t have to be; if you genuinely enjoy someone’s company, she’d been thinking lately, if you enjoy your life with them and don’t mind sleeping with them, isn’t that enough? Do you have to actually be in love for a relationship to be real, whatever real means, so long as there’s respect and something like a friendship?

Anyway, it wasn’t just that. I was having one of those moments, where you look at your life and think, Is this really it? I thought there’d be more.

What kept her in the kingdom was the previously unimaginable condition of not having to think about money, because that’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money. If you’ve never been without, then you won’t understand the profundity of this, how absolutely this changes your life.


My staff called it the family prayer. You have to thank another team for something that happened last week. You can’t thank yourself, and you can’t repeat what someone else said.

When a leader can get people past being passive-aggressive, then heated but honest arguments can happen.

… when it is called “debate” rather than “disagreement,” participants are more likely to share information.

When she was discussing a decision with her team, she always had to be the last person to speak. You may know the answer and you may be right, but when you just blurt it out, you have robbed the team of the chance to come together. Getting to the right answer is important, but having the whole team get there is just as important.

You tell the engineers the problem the consumer has. You give them the context of who the consumer is. Then let them figure out the features. They will provide you with a  far better solution than you’ll ever get by telling them what to build.

When you fire someone, you feel terrible for about a day, then you say to yourself that you should have done it sooner. No one ever succeeds at their third chance.

A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.

Often, when people ask for advice, all they are really asking for is approval.

Saying what you really think in a way that still lets people know you care.

It is often the highest-performing people who feel the most alone. They usually have more interdependent relationships but feel more independent and separate from others.

… power creates a subjective sense of separation and distinctiveness from others


One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It’s a nice day, or You’re very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right?

“Now it is such a bizarrely improbably coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God.”

“The argument goes something like this: ‘I refuse to prove that I exist’ says God, ‘for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'”

“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exists, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”

“Oh dear,” thought God. “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

“Oh that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

The main reason he had had such a wild and successful life was that he never really understood the significance of anything he did.

One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn’t be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn’t understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so – but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence the act. He preferred people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous. This above all appeared to Trillian to be genuinely stupid, but she could no longer be bothered to argue about it.

became increasingly obsessed with he problem of what had happened to all the ballpoints he’d bought over the past few years.

For particulars, as everyone knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils.

Ending is better than mending.

I’m thinking of a queer feeling I sometimes get, a feeling that I’ve got something important to say and the power to say it – only I don’t know what it is, and I can’t make any use of the power.

Bernard, by this time, was fast asleep and smiling at the private paradise of dreams. Smiling, smiling. But inexorably, every thirty seconds, the minute hand of the electric clock above his bed jumped forward with an almost imperceptible click. Click, click, click, click … And it was morning. Bernad was back among the miseries of space and time. It was in the lowest spirits that he taxied across to his work at the Conditioning Centre. The intoxication of success had evaporated; he was soberly his old self; and by contrast with the temporary balloon of these last weeks, the old self seemed unprecedently heavier than the surrounding atmosphere.