July 2017

Learning the basics

I think learning should be about learning the basics in all the fields and learning them really well over and over. Life is mostly about applying the basics and only doing the advanced stuff in the things that you truly love and where you understand the basics inside out. – Naval Ravikant When I taught […]

William Carlos Williams and Imagism

I’m enjoying the poetry of William Carlos Williams, credited as one of the leaders of the Imagist movement, which sought to rescue poetry from the vague and flowery language of Georgian Romanticism. My favorite is the funny and surprising “This Is Just To Say“, which is also great for parodies. (This is just to say) […]

The Fair Representation Act and ranked choice voting

There may be no perfect voting system, but the Fair Representation Act is trying to improve the biggest problems: Voters are currently incentivized to vote for “the best person they think can actually win”, rather than their actual favorite candidate Only a single person represents a group of often diverse interests Gerrymandering has created bizarre […]

Notes from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

This book surprised me by actually living up to its title. I expected a collection of “life hacks” and instead found a crisp new philosophy of focus and priority. The Big Idea The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: […]

Self-preventing prophecies

Nice explanation by David Brin of the role science fiction can play in preventing dystopia: More good “Previsions” episodes here.

Progressive conservatives

Political conservatives usually battle with political progressives. But there are a few interesting ways that conservative ideas could be used to accomplish progressive goals: A carbon tax that directly pays to individual citizens, and allows regulatory rollbacks due to the new financial incentives Allowing states to customize how they provide for health care (already written […]

Bourgeois Bias

As economic inequality grows, cultural differences are making the gap even harder to bridge, argues David Brooks: American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. […]

No more rock stars

This is a wonderful takedown of “rock stars” and stopping abuse–in the tech industry, but applicable to any field–by Leigh Honeywell. Some of my favorite points: Have explicit rules for conduct and enforce them for everyone (of course, you say! But you still have to do it) Insist on building a “deep bench” of talent […]