Monday, October 31, 2022
...........from Oliver Burkeman's 4000 Weeks:
The struggle for certainty is an intrinsically hopeless one—which means you have permission to stop engaging in it.
. . . our expectations are forever running up against the stubborn reality that time isn't in our possession and can't be brought under our control.
You only ever get to feel certain about the future once it's already turned into the past.
There is a very down-to-earth kind of liberation in grasping that there are certain truths about being a limited human from which you'll never be liberated. You don't get to dictate the course of events. And the paradoxical reward for accepting reality's constraints is that they no long feel so constraining.
We treat our plans as though they are a lasso, thrown from the present around the future, in order to bring it under our command. But all a plan is—all it could ever possibly be—is a present-moment statement of intent. It's an expression of your current thoughts about how you'd ideally like to deploy your modest influence over the future. The future, of course, is under no obligation to comply.
To treat all these moments solely as stepping-stones to some future moment is to demonstrate a level of obliviousness to our real situation that would be jaw-dropping if it weren't for the fact that we all do it, all the time.
Our obsession with extracting the greatest future value out of our time blinds us to the reality that, in fact, the moment of truth is always now—that life is nothing but a succession of present moments, culminating in death, and that you'll probably never get to a point where you feel you have things in perfect working order. And that therefore you had better stop postponing the "real meaning" of your existence into the future, and throw yourself into life now.
As geological time goes, it is but a moment since the human race began and only the twinkling of an eye since the arts of civilization were first invented. In spite of some alarmists, it is hardly likely that our species will completely exterminate itself. And so long as man continues to exist, we may be pretty sure that, whatever he may suffer for a time, and whatever brightness may be eclipsed, he will emerge sooner or later, perhaps strengthened and reinvigorated by a period of mental sleep. The universe is vast and men are but tiny specks on an insignificant planet. But the more we realize our minuteness and our impotence in the face of cosmic forces, the more astonishing becomes what human beings have achieved.
It is to the possible achievements of man that our ultimate loyalty is due, and in that thought the brief troubles of our unquiet epoch become endurable. Much wisdom remains to be learned, and if it is only to be learned through adversity, we must endeavour to endure adversity with what fortitude we can command. But if we can acquire wisdom soon enough, adversity may not be necessary and the future of man may be happier than any part of his past.
-Bertrand Russell (9/3/1950)
My father did a lot of instructing, but we did not always take away the lesson he intended. He taught us in both ways: by example and by counterexample. The most helpful instruction might come via a side remark or gesture, the slouch of his shoulders or a smile that started in his eyes and spread across his face. If a certain song, Frank Sinatra's "There Used to Be a Ballpark," say, struck him as profound, he'd say "Listen to the words! It's not about a ballpark! It's about life!" If a movie made him cry, Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, for example, he'd say, "It's not about a hayseed from Mandrake Falls. It's about everyone."
Sunday, October 30, 2022
If you view "do what you love" as a guide to a happier life, it sounds like empty fortune cookie advice. If you view it as the thing providing the endurance necessary to put the quantifiable odds of success in your favor, you realize it should be the most important part of any financial strategy.
-Morgan Housel, as culled from The Psychology of Money
This brings us to my third aim, which is to reveal what's unique about the success of givers. Let me be clear that givers, takers, and matchers all can—and do—achieve success. But there is something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades. When takers win, there is usually someone else who loses. Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when givers like David Hornik win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them. You'll see that the difference lies in how giver success creates value, instead of just claiming it.
-Adam Grant, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
So this was what springtime in London was like: the women in knee-length dresses of blue-and-white hoops; the men with dark jackets over sweaters in pastel shades. Both sexes carried shoulder bags with more flaps and fastenings than necessary, the females' either red or black, the males' a healthy, masculine buff-colour, and caps made an occasional appearance too, alongside headbands—let's not forget the headbands. Headbands, in rainbow stripes, lent the women an over-eager look, as if they grasped too keenly at the fashion of their youth, though the genuinely youthful sported the same accessory with apparent unconcern. Feet wore sandals or flipflops, faces wore wide-eyed content, and body language was at once mute and expressive, capturing a single moment of wellbeing and beaming it everywhere. They were both uplit and downlit, those plastic springtime celebrants, as a piano tinkled melodious background nonsense for their pleasure, and a miniature waterfall drummed an unwavering beat, and Samit Catterjee watched all of it through narrowed eyes, his thin features alert and suspicious.
-Mick Herron, Spook Street
Pronoia: The opposite of paranoia. As defined in a quote attributed to psychologist Brian Little, it is "the delusional belief that other people are plotting your well-being, or saying nice things about you behind your back."
Of course they are.
This, then, is a story of Lincoln’s political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates, to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his growing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidential prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing. His success in dealing with the strong egos of the men in his cabinet suggests that in the hands of a truly great politician the qualities we generally associate with decency and morality – kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty, and empathy – can also be impressive political resources.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, from the Introduction to Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
But there’s a problem: despite more than $2 trillion in spending on renewables over the past three decades, there is scant evidencethat an energy transition is underway. Last year, according to data from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, in both the US, and the world as a whole, the growth in hydrocarbons—oil, natural gas, and coal—far exceeded the growth of wind and solar by huge margins.