Issue № 76

Try steeper

“The obstacle is the way” is not a phrase from Art du Déplacement. It’s a two-thousand-year-old comment from a Stoic (writing in a personal journal to himself.) In a similar vein, he also wrote that, “nature turns all things to its own purpose.” Likewise the more modern “Rust never sleeps,” is equally pithy.

The real lesson is of course that there’s a season for everything. Sometimes more challenge is the key to progress, and sometimes simply being is the key. (Which is also something thoroughly covered in the Stoic philosophy. And please: Stoicism is not at all about suppressing one’s feelings.) I think I learned that seasons lesson early on from bicycling. I’m from Pennsylvania, from an area of rolling, often wooded, hills. Every bike ride ever was an endless repetition of “down a hill, ’round a corner, up a hill, round a corner, down a hill, …” In a very real sense, all parts of that were equally fun.

In a comfortable, prosperous country like ours, some of the built in tendencies of Human nature tend to work against us, saying, “Hey – I’ve noticed we have plenty of food and reasonable shelter and that’s good enough. So let’s just double down on the Netflix, comfort foods, and occasional luxury purchases and that will keep us safe.” Instead, I want you to set your life treadmill to just a bit of a steeper, healthier incline setting.

~ Peter Adeney from,

I’d like to mention that “Culdesac” in that linked URL is a town’s name; You can go read that article either for the life advice, or to learn about one of several towns in the U.S. now which are being built as people-first. (As opposed to basically every other town and city which is built as cars-first.)


The opposite of a true statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may be another profound truth.

~ Niels Bohr

The Internet

When I started really fiddling with the Internet in 1989 it was a twisting mazy of branching passages. It was entirely technical details and arcane (not to be confused with difficult to master) knowledge. It was fun and rewarding to figure things out—all I had to do was simply read and experiment. It was also very much social! There were people, both in-person and remote (as in, I don’t think I’ve ever met them in person), who I got to know through working on things and exploring and building. But at no point did I ever even wonder if what I was doing and building was going to change society. “This is interesting” and “I wonder if…” were my guiding philosophy.

Such prophesies might be dismissed as the prattle of overindulged rich guys, but for one thing: they’ve shaped public opinion. By spreading a utopian view of technology, a view that defines progress as essentially technological, they’ve encouraged people to switch off their critical faculties and give Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financiers free rein in remaking culture to fit their commercial interests. If, after all, the technologists are creating a world of superabundance, a world without work or want, their interests must be indistinguishable from society’s. To stand in their way, or even to question their motives and tactics, would be self-defeating. It would serve only to delay the wonderful inevitable.

~ Nicholas Carr from,

But an equally great quote is: “Technology promised to set us free. Instead it has trained us to withdraw from the world into distraction and dependency.”

Anyway. Looking back, I don’t see how I could actually have done anything differently. Looking back, I can clearly see how we—the world, society at large—got where we are.


To someone who asked Newton how he had managed to construct his theory, he could reply: ‘By thinking about it all the time.’ There is no greatness without a little stubbornness.

~ Albert Camus

Horror and systematic idiocy

Have you ever looked at your own writing and wondered: What author’s work might it resemble? And if you haven’t, I hope I didn’t just break writing for you.

All I can remember of these once indispensable arts is the intense boredom by which the practice of them was accompanied. Even today the sight of Dr. Smith’s Shorter Latin Dictionary, or of Liddell’s and Scott’s Greek Lexicon, has power to recall that ancient ennui. What dreary hours I have spent frantically turning those pages in search of a word for “cow” that could be scanned as a dactyl, or to make sure that my memory of the irregular verbs and the Greek accents was not at fault! I hate to think of all that wasted time. And yet, in view of the fact that most human beings are destined to pass most of their lives at jobs in which it is impossible for them to take the slightest interest, this old-fashioned training with the dictionary may have been extremely salutary. At least it taught one to know and expect the worst of life. Whereas the pupil in a progressive school, where everything is made to seem entertaining and significant, lives in a fool’s paradise. As a preparation for life, not as it ought to be, but as it actually is, the horrors of Greek grammar and the systematic idiocy of Latin verses were perfectly appropriate. On the other hand, it must be admitted that they tended to leave their victims with a quite irrational distaste for poor dear Dr. Smith.

~ Aldous Huxley from his essay, Doodles in a Dictionary from, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Other Essays

Lest you think that’s an overly long quote, I’ll point out it’s still only about half of the paragraph. Huxley can really unspool a sentence. Some of the writing in that book—Huxley’s, omg no not Smith’s dictionary—are overwrought. But some of them have a delicious tinkling of structure and grammar with an occasional punctuation of solid snark.


Whoever wants life must go softly towards life, softly as one would go towards a deer and fawn that are nestling under a tree. One gesture of violence, one violent assertion of self-will and life is gone. […] But with quietness, with an abandon of self-assertion and a fullness of the deep true self one can approach another human being, and know the delicate best of life, the touch.

~ D.H. Lawrence

White blood cells

If you had said that it’s possible to see white blood cells with the naked eye, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had somehow convinced me, I’d have then been impressed. But never would I have thought that it’s possible to see your own white blood cells in your own eye. Aye, ’tis true!

The blue field entoptic phenomenon is an entoptic phenomenon characterized by the appearance of tiny bright dots (nicknamed blue-sky sprites) moving quickly along undulating pathways in the visual field, especially when looking into bright blue light such as the sky.

~ Wikipedia from,

Is the takeaway here that you’ve just learned something? …or that wonders never cease? …or something else entirely?

Until next time, thanks for reading.



Leave a Reply