Issue № 19

You don’t say

I first discovered sarcasm as a freshman in college, which I realize makes me a bit of a late bloomer as far as teenagers go. There were certain classmates who seemed to always come across as clever and funny no matter the topic. Over time I noticed there was a simple formula to their contributions and it was pretty easy to mimic.

~ Andrew Bosworth from,

One could say (anyone who knows me surely would) that I can be a tad sarcastic. I used to be sarcastic, not just to a fault, but well into the realm of, s’rsly bro’, stahp. Of course I got various amounts of pushback over many years against my being so sarcastic. I received a ton of positive reinforcement in the form of attention, too. Still, no one ever made the point clearly: The sarcasm I was deploying didn’t add anything.

Reading Bosworth’s short piece made wonder: The point he makes is so clear, and yet I never heard it put as such. So how did I move away from being entirely sarcastic (“snarky” to put a fine point on it)? Well, I didn’t move away from it. Over time, with increasing regularity I moved towards engaging creatively with others; Writing, building things with technology, moving in parkour spaces, etc. The more creative I was, the more fun I had while experiencing the virtuous cycle of positive reinforcement from others. I still delight in sarcasm’s occasional use. But now I find [hope? grins nervously] that when I use sarcasm it brings some insight.


The world is this continually unfolding set of possibilities and opportunities, and the tricky thing about life is, on the one hand having the courage to enter into things that are unfamiliar, but also having the wisdom to stop exploring when you’ve found something worth sticking around for. That is true of a place, of a person, of a vocation. Balancing those two things—the courage of exploration and the commitment to staying—and getting the ratio right is very hard.

~ Sebastian Junger

Everyone’s talking about AI

The tool was called Sudowrite. Designed by developers turned sci-fi authors Amit Gupta and James Yu, it’s one of many AI writing programs built on OpenAI’s language model GPT-3 that have launched since it was opened to developers last year. But where most of these tools are meant to write company emails and marketing copy, Sudowrite is designed for fiction writers.

~ Josh Dzieza from,

Okay, fine, there have a pull-quote from an article about AI!

Today we have really amazing tools which are Large Language Models (LLMs). And today they have already changed the world. I’m not exaggerating. Today it’s possible to use LLMs to do astounding things. That’s awesome. But it’s not yet intelligence. 110% clarity here: All the stuff everyone is talking about today is freakin’ awesome.

I’m saying (I know it doesn’t matter what I say) we should save the term “Artificial Intelligence” for things which are actually intelligent. Words don’t inherently have meaning, but it’s vastly better if we don’t use “intelligence” to mean one thing when we talk about a person, and to mean something entirely different when we talk about today’s LLMs. Today’s LLMs are not [yet] intelligent.

Why this quibble today? Because when artificial intelligence appears, shit’s gonna get real. People who think a lot about AI want to talk about ensuring AI’s morals and goals are in reasonable alignment with humans’ (lest the AI end up misaligned and, perhaps, optimize for paperclip creation and wipe us out.)

My opinion: To be considered intelligent, one must demonstrate agency. Some amount of agency is necessary for something to be intelligent. Agency is not sufficient. Let’s start talking about AGENCY.

The tools we see today (LLMs so far) do not have agency. Contrast that with, say, elephants and dogs which do have agency. I believe the highest moral crimes involve taking someone’s (a word reserved for people) or something’s agency away. All the horrid crimes which we can imagine, each involve the victims’ loss of agency.

So what are we going to do when AIs appear? Prediction: We’re going to do what we humans have always done, historically to each other, elephants and dogs. As individuals we’re all over the moral map. Let’s start more conversations about agency before we have a new sort of intelligence that decides the issue and then explains the answer to us.


I think people want things that are really passionate, and often, the best version they could be is not for everybody… The best art divides the audience. If you put out a record, and half the people who hear it absolutely love it, and half the people who hear it absolutely hate it, you’ve done well, because it’s pushing that boundary.

~ Rick Rubin

Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush—head of military research during WW2, author of “As We May Think” and “Science, the Endless Frontier”—wrote a memoir late in life, Pieces of the Action. It was out of print and hard to obtain for a long time, but Stripe Press has brought it back in a new edition with a foreword from Ben Reinhardt. […] Here are some of my favorite quotes from the original edition:

~ Jason Crawford from,

There’s a sort of incredulous-eyes, slight shaking of the head, expression that I make when I want to emphasize just how amazing I find it to be when I gape into the maw of All Human Knowledge. Sometimes I find something like this which is so blindingly important to so much of the society and culture upon which I find myself standing, that I’m drawn up short. I feel like I’ve heard the name “Vannevar Bush” but I couldn’t have told you a thing about that person. Then I look at the hundreds of unread books, and the hundreds of digital, read-later things I’ve collected, and I smile, because I think I get it.

I smile when I manage to remember that there’s no goal. The point isn’t to accomplish anything in particular (fix something big in the world, follow every thread of interest, learn the question whose answer is 42.) The point isn’t even to enjoy the ride. The point is, how you answer the question life asks you.


Let the impermanence of all life-forms sink in. The stability and solidity of the things we see are mere illusions. We must not be afraid of the pangs of sadness that ensue from this perception. The tightness of our emotions, usually so wound up around our own needs and concerns, is now opening up to the world and to the piognancy of life itself, and we should welcome this.

~ Robert Greene


Looking back, I think I went through a really intense period of burnout last year (in many aspects of my life, not just training). As a result, I found that the second I encountered meaningful challenge in my training – whether that be psychologically or physically – my body would just shut down, and kill the session dead. The best way I find to describe it is that my ‘spare emotional bandwidth’ is severely reduced, and things I would normally take in stride or even relish the challenge of instead boil me over into stress and anxiety much quicker. Consequently I’ve had to curtail the intensity of my training to the point that my criteria for success for a day will sometimes be as as little as “did a single push up” or “went for a walk”.

~ James Adams from,

Last year I had a conversation with Adams for the Movers Mindset podcast. I had found this article (in July 2022) as I was doing my prep-work for the conversation and have only just gotten around to reading it. I really appreciate (both “hey, thanks for writing that” and “yes, I too have burnout”) him sharing the reality of burnout from pushing oneself.

Most of my days’ activity is no more than, “went for a walk.” Unrelated, last week I strained a muscle in my lower back—one of the lateral ones that’s connected to your pelvis and is involved when you twist and bend-forward. I was sitting, improperly with my lower back “collapsed”, turned my torso to my left and twang To be honest, it’s simply where the stress and burnout “came out”. It’s taken me a week of careful recovery work and today I’m back to: I can bend over, very nervously, with no pain but wondering at which instant it will hurt. Injury and recovery; I’ve done that countless times. But the real problem started in my head.

Until next time, thanks for reading.



Leave a Reply