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San Francisco and phpBB

…startups are popular now. And popular things attract smart-but-very-normal people. People who didn’t grow up on weird forums.

There’s nothing wrong with normal people. Normal makes our banks function, our taxes get filed, and our military strong. It also seems that real, non-linear progress often comes from the fringe. From outsiders on weird forums.

…Silicon Valley used to be a weird website, but it’s since become Reddit. Everyone knows about it, and everyone wants to visit.

It used to be easy to find obscure cities on the web, but now it requires effort. Some small cryptocurrency Telegram groups, esoteric programming languages on IRC, and a few mailing lists that are interesting. But it’s not as plentiful as it was before.

It’s not just that the Internet is flooded with normal people, it’s also the standardization. Imagine every city was built by one company to the same spec. All houses look exactly the same. All stores look exactly the same…

Facebook Groups and Subreddits have limited expression of personality. For all the security and usability flaws in Flash, it made the Internet visually weird. I’m hoping someone can bring some of that back, because I think the small stuff matters. Comic sans and blink tags are to a website what skylines and street signs are to a city.

Visual weirdness is only way to be unique. Topical weirdness is another…


What Voltaire meant by One must cultivate one’s own Garden

We melancholics know that humans – ourselves foremost among them – are beyond redemption. We melancholics have given up on dreams of complete purity and unblemished happiness. We know that this world is, for the most part, hellish and heartbreakingly vicious. We know that our minds are full of demons that will not leave us alone for long. Nevertheless, we are committed to not slipping into despondency. We remain deeply interested in kindness, in friendship, in art, in family life – and in spending some very quiet local afternoons gardening.


Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Do the things external which fall upon thee distract thee? Give thyself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be whirled around. But then thou must also avoid being carried about the other way. For those too are triflers who have wearied themselves in life by their activity, and yet have no object to which to direct every movement, and, in a word, all their thoughts.


Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was the model of what we call a philosopher-king. Though his rule was troubled by war and conflict, he remained a thoughtful and even-handed ruler.

One of my reports at the job I just left after seven years called me a “philosopher-king” (or maybe it was “philosopher-CTO”). This was the most flattering of all the positive feedback I received in my final days there. I didn’t capture as much of that feedback as I wanted to, but I might try to recall some of it in the coming days and weeks.


My final daily post title this week was:

No Stone Left Unturned

This is what I wrote:

To someone this week, I described my last job–at least what it had become–as a batting cage.

…from meeting to meeting, email to email, Slack ping to Slack ping…

This week felt more like a walk along a stony beach…where each stone was its own little world.

I’m reminded of the concept of Shoshin, the “beginner’s mind”, “an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.” I think I will try to focus on better adopting a posture of shoshin.

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