As I moved on from my stroke, as I went through the clinical trials, as I gritted my teeth and commanded my occasionally screaming brain to quiet itself, I was unprepared for how private and invisible all of this was and by how quickly almost everyone around me forgot what had happened to me. Stupidly, I hadn’t foreseen that one of the fruits of coping reasonably well was that people didn’t spot your efforts to do just that.

One was the repurposing of trauma or upset as a badge of honor, the turning of the statement “I can’t believe what I’m going through” from a complaint to a boast, from “I can’t believe what I’m being put through” to “I can’t believe what I’m managing to get through.”

It was never, ever the right time, and that’s because we were being spoiled and foolish and cavalier about time itself, which is neither predictable nor elastic nor infinite. Putting off experiences often means never having them.

My philosophy is live each day the best that you can. one day my meds might be off or I wake up super stiff or it just sucks in general for whatever reason. The day will pass. Everyone – diseased or not – has days that suck.

As our physical muscles grow weaker, our emotional muscles grow stronger, and we’re better at seeing the comedy in the tragedy, the advance in the setback, the good in the bad.

“Midlife” by Kieran Setiya

Is that all there is?

  • Mill: “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not a s a means, but as itself an ideal end.
  • Rule # 1 preventing midlife crisis: care about something other than yourself. If nothing matters to you but your own well-being, nothing much will make you happy.
  • Instrumental value: the value something has a means to an end, like the value of making money or visiting the dentist.
    • The paradox of altruism is that if nothing is important but that which has an effect on others, everything is instrumental; value is perpetually deferred and ends in nonsense since nobody can do anything of value unless it positively affects others, but that continues until there are no people left.
    • W.H. Auden: “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know.”
  • Activities of practical virtue – fighting wars, engaging in politics, working for social reform – are sustained by struggle and privation. Their worth depends on the existence of problems, difficulties, needs, which these activities aim to solve. In an ideal world, there would be no use for them. That is why it would be insane to make enemies of friends in order to create the opportunity for courage in battle.
    • All these values are called into question because it would be better to have a world where such actions were unnecessary
    • Aristotle’s answer is contemplation. “Final without qualification. Desirable in itself and never for the sake of something else.” You would want to contemplate in any type of world. It is non-instrumental.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer: “Work, worry, toil, and trouble are indeed the lot of almost all men their whole life long. ANd yet if every desire were satisfied as soon as it arose how would men occupy their lives, how would they pass the time.” Life can’t only be ameliorative.
  • Existential activities – art, swimming, whatever – may respond to difficulties in life, but each can be “a source of inward joy” unconnected with struggle and imperfection; a perennial ground of happiness when “the greater evils of life shall have been removed.”


“I think balance is for people who don’t know why they’re here.”

She considers that. In high school, in college, she was encouraged again and again to find her passion – a reason to get out of bed and breathe. In her experience, few people ever found that raison d’ etre.

What teachers and professors never told her was about the dark side of finding your purpose. The part where it consumes you. Where it becomes a destroyer of relationships and happiness. And still, she wouldn’t trade it. This is the only person she knows how to be.

There are so few things in our existence we can count on to give us the sense of permanence, of the ground beneath our feet. People fail us. Our bodies fail us. We fail ourselves. He’s experienced all of that. But what do you cling to, moment to moment, if memories can simply change? What, then, is real? And if the answer is nothing, where does that leave us?

That’s one of the great things about New YOrk – no one cares about your emotional state as long as there’s no blood involved. Crying on the sidewalk in the middle of the day is no less private than crying in your bedroom in the middle of the night. Maybe it’s because no one cares. Maybe it’s because it’s a brutal city, and they’ve all been there at one time or another.


In the same way that “we filter for people who are like us intellectually and politically,” he wrote, “we also filter for misery,” so that the suffering around us passes unheard and unseen.

To get sick and fail to get better is to realize the harsh truth of this insight. Human beings have a great capacity for kindness, empathy, and help, but we are more likely to rise to the occasion when it is clearly an occasion – a moment of crisis, a time-bound period of stress. In the aftermath of a hurricane, society doesn’t usually fragment; it comes together in solidarity and support. Likewise with families and individuals facing suffering at the moment that it descends, or when a terrible arc finally bottoms out: Not always, but very often, people behave well, with great generosity, in the face of a mortal diagnosis, a mental collapse, an addict’s nadir. Not least because in those circumstances there are things you can clearly do, from the prosaic – making frozen dinners for a suffering family – to the more dramatic and extreme, like flying across the country to help drag a friend into rehab.

But when the crisis simply continues without resolution, when the illness grinds on and on and on – well, then a curtain tends to fall, because there isn’t an obvious way to integrate that kind of struggle into the realm of everyday life. It’s not clear what the healthy person is supposed to give to a friend or family member who isn’t dying, who doesn’t have some need that you can fill with a discrete act of generosity, but who just has the same problems – terrible but also, let’s be a frank, a little boring – day after depressing day.

“Pain is always new to the sufferer, but loses its originality for those around him,” the 19th-century French writer Alphonse Daudet wrote of his experience of a different spirochetal infection, syphilis, whose pain could be managed ut in his case never cured. “Everyone will get used to it except me.”

Or alternatively, in an age of scattered friendships and virtual connections, everyone will forget about it except me.



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.