Issue № 69


Today, 7 rhetorical questions for Sunday…

What is necessary for something to continue existing?
Is autonomy necessary?
Is physical integrity (as opposed to “physical dispersion”) necessary?
Does dignity require privacy, which requires autonomy and physical integrity?

Privacy is the key that unlocks the aspects of yourself that are most intimate and personal, that make you most you, and most vulnerable. Your naked body. Your sexual history and fantasies. Your past, present and possible future diseases. Your fears, your losses, your failures. The worst thing you have ever done, said, and thought. Your inadequacies, your mistakes, your traumas. The moment in which you have felt most ashamed. That family relation you wish you didn’t have. Your most drunken night.

~ Carissa Véliz from,

When one violates another’s privacy, is that only attacking their dignity?
Is that also diminishing their autonomy?
Is that also attacking their physical integrity?

“But,” some say, “it’s just data.”


No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.

~ Carl Jung

The pendulum

Late in 2023 I started working on paper to create simple mind–maps around the individual ideas that go into my writing here. Call it nostalgia if you wish, but there’s something delightful about a nice pen and nice paper. I find I have a flurry of bat-like ideas around the central idea. Not all of them make it to the paper; Some are left to flutter right back out of the belfry.

After a while, the remaining bats settle down to roost as my scribbling sputters to a halt. Then there’s a bit of time where I pause (exactly how much varies greatly, sometimes I even surrender, get up and move away from the tablet) before I feel I can shift to the digital realm to begin the writing. That period of pause though is a straight-up struggle. Every time.

“Divergence” refers to opening up your senses and taking in new sources of information from the outside world, such as at the start of a new project. “Convergence” refers to shutting off sources of distraction and narrowing your focus to arrive at an end result.

Together, these two stages form the backbone of creative work going back millennia. In any field, we move like a pendulum back and forth between these two states of mind. Once you learn to see the pattern in your own work, you’ll understand how to flow with the tide of information rather than swim against it.

~ Tiago Forte from,

It’s not clear to me that— Actually, no, I’m sure that I cannot intentionally switch from the divergent part of the work to the convergent. I just try to stay in the pause. Eventually, assuming I don’t give up and walk away, the writing feels easier than continuing to think about it. I often wonder why I keep writing on a schedule. It’s torturous. But now I’m thinking that I may have stumbled backwards into a way to push myself more quickly through to the convergent part of writing: If it has a due-date, then there’s a built-in increasing urgency to shut up, sit down… and wait, until the writing is the easiest path.


If you fall in love with a machine there is something wrong with your love-life. If you worship a machine there is something wrong with your religion.

~ Lewis Mumford

Talking to myself

The other day I read a one-year-ago journal entry, and had a strong impression of having a long-distance conversation. Although I had not the slightest memory of writing the entry, it was clearly me. In fact, the me writing in those moments past, had something striking to say to the me reading a year later. Something insightful. Nearly poetic. Definitely useful.

The entry wasn’t from a depressed past–me. It wasn’t from a hopeful past–me. It was from someone who clearly had insight, who had thoughtfully crafted some phrasing, and who had included quotations for thematic punctuation. This happens to me a lot— nearly daily. I’m so glad that past me took the time (for it really does take prodigious amounts of time) to write that entry. And so I keep writing to myself in my journal.

Other times I find things in my journal that were clearly important—way too important—at the time, but I can’t recall the feeling. Sometimes I can’t even recall the event or project.

All of which serves to provide me with perspective and guidance on the faux urgencies and importanties of my todays.


Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.

~ William James

Two perspectives

Everything is fun, until one’s expectations are crushed. I thought I was getting the convenience of online shopping for things that were previously literally unavailable; Instead, the local stores closed and I’ve lost the convenience of local purchasing. I thought I was getting expanded communication via email; Instead, I’ve been overrun by people taking advantage of the ease of access. In 1989 I was excited by what we could all do with the Internet. So excited, that in 1994 I quit a funded research position and dropped out of graduate school.

Today’s internet is largely shaped by a dialog between two ideas. One position considers personal data as a form of property, the opposing position considers personal data as an extension of the self. The latter grants inalienable rights because a person’s dignity – traditionally manifested in our bodies or certain rights of expression and privacy – cannot be negotiated, bought, or sold.

~ David Schmudde from,

There’s nothing wrong with the Internet. There’s nothing wrong with people. There’s nothing wrong with government. The problem is in everyone’s failure to think things through. “Can” and “should” are very different animals. Until a plurality of people think things through—until a plurality of people stop delivering themselves into the power of ideas they do not know they have accepted—there will be nothing new under the sun.

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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