Monday, January 27, 2020

What no man can suffer

We hired a sailboat and a guide and made an excursion to one of the small islands in the harbor to visit the Castle d'If.

This ancient fortress has a melancholy history. It has been used as a prison for political offenders for two or three hundred years, and its dungeon walls are scarred with the rudely carved names of many and many a captive who fretted his life away here and left no record of himself but these sad epitaphs wrought with his own hands.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Love > power

Perfectly following a list of punctuation rules may grant me some kinds of power, but it won’t grant me love.

Love doesn’t come from a list of rules—it emerges from the spaces between us, when we pay attention to each other and care about the effect that we have on each other.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Unsettling findings about happiness

In the 1990s, the two big findings of happiness research (strong relation to genes, weak relation to environment) hit the psychological community hard, because they applied not just to happiness but to most aspects of personality.

Psychologists since Freud had shared a nearly religious devotion to the idea that personality is shaped primarily by childhood environment. This axiom was taken on faith: The evidence for it consisted almost entirely of correlations—usually small ones—between what parents did and how their children turned out, and anyone who suggested that these correlations were caused by genes was dismissed as a reductionist.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The danger of democracy

The danger of democracy is not anarchy but convention.

There is even a sort of double meaning in the word 'convention'; for it is also used for the most informal and popular sort of parliament; a parliament not summoned by any king.

The Americans come together very easily without any king; but their coming together is in every sense a convention, and even a very conventional convention.

In a democracy riot is rather the exception and respectability certainly the rule. And though a superficial sight-seer should hesitate about all such generalisations, and certainly should allow for enormous exceptions to them, he does receive a general impression of unity verging on uniformity.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The arguments against Citizens United are weak


The glory of the Greeks

The Greeks have their great glory because they were the first to set Mind above Strength. In Athens the orator and philosopher were more revered than the warrior.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, January 20, 2020

Where few dared to be rich

There is no regular system of taxation, but when the Emperor or the Bashaw want money, they levy on some rich man, and he has to furnish the cash or go to prison.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Turning AI's opaqueness transparent

IBM experimented with adding Urban Dictionary data to its artificial intelligence system Watson, only to scrub it all out again when the computer started swearing at them.
Source: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

I find this quote to be far more interesting than what McCulloch intended. Artificial intelligence is frequently portrayed as a “black box” into which humans have no way to directly peer. That is, computers have exceeded human at least in terms of being able to handle the data it used to come to its conclusions. Apparently there's more to the story.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Unexpected sources of life satisfaction

The young have so much more to look forward to than the elderly, yet ratings of life satisfaction actually rise slightly with age, up to age sixty-five, and, in some studies, well beyond.

People are often surprised to hear that the old are happier than the young because the old have so many more health problems, yet people adapt to most chronic health problems…

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The last medieval monarchy

All good Americans wish to fight the representatives they have chosen.

All good Englishmen wish to forget the representatives they have chosen.

This difference, deep and perhaps ineradicable in the temperaments of the two peoples, explains a thousand things in their literature and their laws.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Who am I, and what am I to be?

They to whom a boy comes asking, Who am I, and what am I to be? have need of ever so much care. Each word in answer may prove to the after-life what each finger-touch of the artist is to the clay he is modelling.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

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You don't launch a popular blog,
you build one.
Seth Godin