Collective Collapse

Why are people how they are?

Theory of mind is hard and just when you think you’re getting okay at it, life humbles you. This is a great post by Dave Bailey on what you are really dealing with when you’re dealing with someone’s negative emotions or reactions. A couple examples:

Overreaction is often a sign that something else might be going on that you aren’t aware of. Perhaps they didn’t get enough sleep or recently had a fight with a friend. Maybe something about the situation is triggering an unresolved trauma from their childhood — a phenomenon called transference.

When you notice someone overreacting, broaden your focus and get curious about what else might be going on.


In Marshall Rosenberg’s book Nonviolent Communication, he explains that every negative emotion is the result of an unmet need. However, few of us actually know how to put that need into words. Rosenberg suggests that labelling the universal human need can be therapeutic, or even transformational.

Clear thinking

This Lex Fridman podcast with Joscha Bach is expansive:

Along the same lines, another of my favorite Lex Fridman guests is Daniel Schmachtenberger.

Both of them, from everything I can tell, are well furnished in the g department. You’re guaranteed to come out of the listens with lots of new ideas and ways of thinking.


China reduced the amount of time kids under 18 can play video games to 3 hours a week on Fri, Sat, Sun from 8-9pm. As much as I dislike authoritarianism… it does seem like their description of video games as the opium of the masses isn’t totally off. Don’t get me wrong, I like video games too, but the balance is way off.

Also on the China front, Dan Wong’s annual letter, if you haven’t read it yet, is well worth it.


We have no real reason to write/think about collapse… not in 2021, but this article may be worth bookmarking for the future. It explores dispositions towards collapse, types of collapse, and even the aesthetics of collapse.


Creative robots, transpilers, & carnivorous plants

Can Artificial Intelligence truly be creative? It’s starting to seem like it. Some of the recent GPT-3 demos feel like they’ve moved beyond being derivative and into the realm of actual creativity. Marcus du Sautoy wrote The Creativity Code to explore the question and its existential implications. He calls the test of whether an AI is creative “The Lovelace Test” in reference to the Turing Test and in homage to Ada Lovelace. Check out Michael Harris’ review of the book here.

Languages that compile to Javascript seem to be here to stay. I spent a lot of time in the past writing Coffeescript, but if I were to do it again, I’d probably start with either Elm, here’s a recent write up on it, or Imba. Both make web programs less error prone and ostensibly more fun to write.

No-code platforms and languages are also still going strong. I’m very skeptical about these because in the past they’ve almost never seemed to amount to much and always fizzled out after not too long leaving their users to start over writing code. Even so, some of the more promising ones I’ve come across are Bubble as a general purpose no-code environment, Judo for mobile apps, and Retool for internal tools. Whether they can surpass their predecessors remains to be seen.

Edward de Bono, the famous creative thinker and the man who coined the term “lateral thinking” recently passed away. Here’s a great obit with many of his life’s achievements.

It’s no secret that China has been tough on its own tech companies recently. Why? Here’s an article by Noah Smith arguing that rather than focusing on distracting social media and shopping, China is instead concerned with doing real things in the world. An interesting and very plausible take.

Instead of simply letting local governments throw resources at whatever they think will produce rapid growth (the strategy in the 90s and early 00s), China’s top leaders are now trying to direct the country’s industrial mix toward what they think will serve the nation as a whole.

Recently, here in the Pacific Northwest, a plant was newly discovered to be carnivorous. The western false asphodel captures bugs on its sticky stem rather than in its leaves. Hopefully I’ll find one of these plants out yonder some day.

And, to finish it off, here’s a picture of what’s universally considered by everyone to be The Best Duck on the planet. The Bufflehead.