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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

a magnificent armchair of happiness
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:33 am EDT, Aug  5, 2014

Alexander Motyl:

War, unthinkable in Europe for so long, has truly come to the continent.

Dunya Mikhail:

How magnificent the war is!
How eager
and efficient!

The war works with unparalleled diligence!
Yet no one gives it
a word of praise.

Eliza Griswold:

Chris pointed across the table to Mike, a desert-scorched and silent operator whose oxford-cloth shirt seemed uncomfortably tight on his thick neck. "See how his tan lines are a little off?" Chris asked. "He doesn't wear a suit. He's out there with our partners across the desert, fighting a war that no one will ever know about if we win. How do you sell that to the American people?"

Shachar Mario Mordechai:

Someone will leave behind books and photos,
an old blanket, a magnificent armchair of happiness.
And someone he loves.
But he will not forget to take a coat.
With pockets. As long as he leaves in time
with his face. And with cash.


Before I came out, guys told me, 'The bees, sir, the bees, the bees.' I thought they'd made this stuff up. But it was true. You can hear them coming.

an invitation to the fantasy of the future
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:33 am EDT, Aug  5, 2014

John Lanchester:

The world is full of priesthoods. Incomprehension is a form of consent.

What's the story behind the evident story?

Ira Glass:

Don't wait till you're older, or in some better job than you have now. Don't wait for anything. Don't wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That's not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it'll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.

Michael Weber:

Magic is not about someone else sharing the newest secret. Magic is about working hard to discover a secret and making something out of it.

Roger Cohen:

Optimism is irrepressible in the human heart -- and best mistrusted. Our world of hyperconnectivity, and the strains and aspirations that accompany it, is not so novel after all. The ghosts of repetition reside alongside the prophets of progress.

Ben Thompson:

If all you want to do is develop and make something beautiful, then you need to get a job that will pay you to do that.

Ian Bogost:

MagicBands offer a kind of data tourism, an uncanny experience of a future in which we don't just tolerate surveillance but openly embrace it as fashion.

Dataland offers a space that invites us to wonder: what if more of our information relationships took place out in the open?

Perhaps this is all we really want: to participate in the fantasy of the future, to be invited to ponder and respond to it ourselves, rather than to be presented with it already formed.

Frank Chimero:

People don't have to leave what they know to start fixing what's wrong. They can start where they are.

surplus to requirements
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:31 am EDT, Jul 24, 2014

Arthur C. Brooks:

The Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues measured the "negative affect" (bad moods) that ordinary daily activities and interactions kick up. They found that the No. 1 unhappiness-provoking event in a typical day is spending time with one's boss.

Mike Huckabee:

In politics, there are three basic categories. There's campaigning, there's governing and there's talking about it. The easiest of the three is talking about it. It also pays the best.

Felix Salmon:

The problem, in general, is that managers reflexively attempt to pay their employees the minimum necessary to prevent them from leaving, while at the same time making every effort to maximize their own income.

Tim Dowling:

Deflation is only a problem if you're the one trying to sell the cheap thing, or if the incredibly cheap thing is your salary, and your boss can't decide between paying you peanuts and finding someone else who will do your job for even less.


At most large Japanese firms, around a third of permanent staff are surplus to requirements, yet cannot be fired due to the country's unclear labour rules.

Had lay-offs been easier, Panasonic, Sony and others would have had far greater financial flexibility to cope with changing market conditions. Instead, their limited voluntary severance packages, typically offering two to three years' pay, are cripplingly expensive. Those who accept them are often the most talented.

the worldly core of my humanity
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:31 am EDT, Jul 24, 2014

William Deresiewicz:

Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they're doing but with no idea why they're doing it.

Not being an entitled little shit is an admirable goal. But in the end, the deeper issue is the situation that makes it so hard to be anything else. The time has come, not simply to reform that system top to bottom, but to plot our exit to another kind of society altogether.

Robert Pogue Harrison:

There would be reason to applaud the would-be world-changers and start-up companies of Silicon Valley if they made it their business to resist or reverse this process of planetary upheaval, the way environmentalists seek to do with the wounds we have afflicted on nature. Sadly they have no such militancy in their souls, nor much thoughtfulness.

In truth Silicon Valley does not change the world as much as it changes my way of being in it, or better, of not being in it. It changes the way I think, the way I emote, and the way I interact with others. It corrodes the worldly core of my humanity, leaving me increasingly worldless.

how normal they all look
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:22 am EDT, Jul 15, 2014

Clare Malone:

It's funny to see how normal they all look, standing around in their Patagonia gear, these people who brought us now ubiquitous street maps and excellent e-mail design, and, however inadvertently, helped usher in a jarring new reality about privacy. They seem so nice, so trustworthy, as they work the ropes for their climbing friends perched on high precipices. And we have trusted them almost wholeheartedly up until recently, because they seem to have the best of intentions. But who's to say they always will?


Money for me, databases for you.

Jodi Quoidbach:

Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This "end of history illusion" had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.

Om Malik:

Did you know at the time of signing up for Strava, that lovable cycling and running activity tracker is sharing real time user data and selling that to municipalities for 80 cents a year. We, the citizens don't really know what these data-hoarding companies -- big and small -- are really going to do with all the data they have about us in their databases.

It is important for us to talk about the societal impact of what Google is doing or what Facebook can do with all the data. If it can influence emotions (for increased engagements), can it compromise the political process?

Sam Thielman:

Here's the short version: Everyone in advertising is buying exhaustive records of your purchases -- all your purchases -- and comparing them to your viewing habits so that they know which ads you saw and whether or not they changed your behavior.

If you feel like this is kind of invasive, that probably means you understand me so far.

open loops
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:26 am EDT, Jul 11, 2014

Wilfred M. McClay:

Our dignity derives not only from our relentless drive for mastery but also from our graceful acceptance of limits -- from how we come to terms with our defeats, failures, decay, and yielded territory. The conquest of the world will not change that, except to make it harder to understand, and harder to achieve.

Gary Taubes:

One lesson of science is that if the best you can do isn't good enough to establish reliable knowledge, first acknowledge it -- relentless honesty about what can and cannot be extrapolated from data is another core principle of science -- and then do more, or do something else.

Frank Chimero:

I think we often mischaracterize design as a practice of problem-solving, as if the problems go away. But closure, at least in my experience, is so rare in design. The loops stay open, because most problems are chronic and shift forms. They can be diminished, but they hardly ever entirely go away.

Protagonist of A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick:

I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.

myriad petty little unsexy ways
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:38 am EDT, Jul  9, 2014

Maya Angelou:

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Taylor Swift:

I'd like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they're buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone.

Alain de Botton:

There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. This is a truth chiselled indelibly into the script of life. Choosing who to marry or commit ourselves to is therefore merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for, rather than an occasion miraculously to escape from grief.

Emma Healey:

Our greatest contemporary inventions are all just new and more complicated ways to be lonely for and about each other, at speeds that once seemed unimaginable.

The only thing in this world more difficult than caring about other people is finding other people who genuinely care about you. It's hard enough to find a job that pays your rent and doesn't grind your soul down into a tiny sliver, never mind finding one where your experience and skills are valued, given weight or room to grow. It's hard enough to find peers who can stand to be around you, let alone friends who think the things you care about are important and worthy of attention.

David Foster Wallace:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the "rat race" -- the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

the flow of our habits
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:20 am EDT, Jun 24, 2014

Alain de Botton:

A flourishing life requires a capacity to recognize ... that we have our own priorities to honour in the brief time still allotted to us.

Elissa Bassist:

If someone died each time I checked my inbox, there would be no one left. How do you cancel the noise of social networking and get back down on the ground to produce?

Ian Bogost:

The shame of expecting an immediate reply to a text or a Gchat message after just having failed to provide one. The narcissism of urgency.

Jonathan Safran Foer:

Technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat. ... The flow of water carves rock, a little bit at a time. And our personhood is carved, too, by the flow of our habits.

Each step "forward" has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.

feel and follow
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:20 am EDT, Jun 24, 2014

Tasneem Raja:

As programmers will tell you, the building part is often not the hardest part: It's figuring out what to build.

Sister Corita Kent:

Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

Melinda Gates:

Let your heart break. It will change what you do with your optimism.

Maya Angelou:

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.


This is it. This is what matters.

The experience of a product. How it will make someone feel.


You may rarely look at it, but you'll always feel it.

This is our signature, and it means everything.

Miranda Lambert:

It's amazing, the amount of rejection
That I see in my reflection
And I can't get out of the way

Topic: Miscellaneous 7:20 am EDT, Jun 24, 2014

Steve Fishman, on Steve Cohen's dedication to trading:

When a friend asked, "Why do you keep doing it?," he responded, "What else is there to do?"

Chris Hayes:

36 percent of the 2010 Princeton class who had full-time jobs at graduation went into finance.

Thomas Piketty:

The richest 1 percent appropriated 60 percent of the increase in US national income between 1977 and 2007.

Michael Osinski:

When you're close to the money, you get the first cut. Oyster farmers eat lots of oysters, don't they?

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