Wait but why. Introducing the Dinner Table. A content site is like a piece of internet fly paper. The internet is swarming with billions of people, and when one of them ends up on a content site, it’s like a fly landing for a second on a piece of fly paper. But internet fly paper isn’t like normal fly paper, which catches every fly that touches it. Internet fly paper is only sticky for certain types of people, depending on the type of content it puts out there and how useful or enjoyable that content is. When someone ends up on a content site for the first time, reads something, and likes it enough to remember to come back later, bookmark the page, subscribe by email or follow on social media, they stick to the paper. If you took a close look at the fly paper of any content site and who’s stuck to it, you’d see a group of people who are a reflection of what the site is putting out there, whether in their interests, needs, sense of humor, general wavelength, or any other way a person can connect to content.
Um— We agree. Topics Rules. 10 Types of 30-Year-Old Single Guys. 30-year-old guys are a curious bunch. Find me a group of 30-year-old men and I’ll pick out one overgrown frat dude living with roommates, another guy who just dropped his two kids off at school, a few who are well into their careers and a couple soul-searchers looking for work. Some will tell you that they’ve finally figured it all out and some more will say they feel hopeless for the first time in their lives. It’s a motley crew. But perhaps the motliest part of this crowd is the ever-growing group of 30-year-old single guys. 1) The Total Package The Total Package is smart—he went to a top college. The Total Package has a hell of a career going, but don’t you for a second suggest that The Total Package would be a workaholic—The Total Package is a family man. There’s just one thing The Total Package seems to be having a hard time finding—a girl worthy of his greatness. Yes, the woman fit for The Total Package will be the ultimate icing on his cake of perfection. 4) The Misogynist.
A Religion for the Nonreligious. The mind…can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. ― John Milton The mind is certainly its own cosmos. — Alan Lightman You go to school, study hard, get a degree, and you’re pleased with yourself. But are you wiser? You get a job, achieve things at the job, gain responsibility, get paid more, move to a better company, gain even more responsibility, get paid even more, rent an apartment with a parking spot, stop doing your own laundry, and you buy one of those $9 juices where the stuff settles down to the bottom. But as you do these things day after day and year after year, are you improving as a human in a meaningful way? In the last post, I described the way my own path had led me to be an atheist—but how in my satisfaction with being proudly nonreligious, I never gave serious thought to an active approach to internal improvement—hindering my own evolution in the process.
This wasn’t just my own naiveté at work. The Goal Wisdom. How Do We Get to the Goal? By being aware of the truth. How Religion Got in the Way. For all those readers frustrated with the late posts, Why I Can’t Post On Time. “Wash your face before bed so the angels will come down and kiss you while you sleep.” That’s what my grandmother told me when I was a child staying over at her house. I was about five years old, and not only did this information from a trusted authority not faze me, it was a very standard sort of thing for someone to tell me. I was the first child in a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too Reform Jewish family who also did Christmas and Easter. Being born into that situation set me up to be told the following: So flying people breaking into my room to molest me while I slept because I washed my face?
All this information came as part of the same orientation that taught me English, told me what shapes and colors were and how to poop, and explained that it’s bad to stare at really short adults. It was a lot of information, but I was handling it well, when suddenly I was hit with a disturbing twist. What Is Spirituality? Putting Time In Perspective. Humans are good at a lot of things, but putting time in perspective is not one of them. It’s not our fault—the spans of time in human history, and even more so in natural history, are so vast compared to the span of our life and recent history that it’s almost impossible to get a handle on it. If the Earth formed at midnight and the present moment is the next midnight, 24 hours later, modern humans have been around since 11:59:59pm—1 second. And if human history itself spans 24 hours from one midnight to the next, 14 minutes represents the time since Christ.
To try to grasp some perspective, I mapped out the history of time as a series of growing timelines—each timeline contains all the previous timelines (colors will help you see which timelines are which). A note on dates: When it comes to the far-back past, most of the dates we know are the subject of ongoing debate. For teachers and parents and people who hate cursing: here’s a clean, Rated G version. Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think. We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. Part 1: Meet Your Mammoth The first day I was in second grade, I came to school and noticed that there was a new, very pretty girl in the class—someone who hadn’t been there the previous two years. Her name was Alana and within an hour, she was everything to me.
When you’re seven, there aren’t really any actionable steps you can take when you’re in love with someone. But for me, it became suddenly relevant a few months later, when during recess one day, one of the girls in the class started asking each of the boys, “Who do youuu want to marry?” Disaster. I was still new to being a human and didn’t realize that the only socially acceptable answer was, “No one.” The second I answered, the heinous girl ran toward other students, telling each one, “Tim said he wants to marry Alana!” The news quickly got back to Alana herself, who stayed as far away from me as possible for days after. Part 2: Taming the Mammoth No. The AI Revolution: Road to Superintelligence.
PDF: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. (Or see a preview.) Note: The reason this post took three weeks to finish is that as I dug into research on Artificial Intelligence, I could not believe what I was reading. It hit me pretty quickly that what’s happening in the world of AI is not just an important topic, but by far THE most important topic for our future. We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. — Vernor Vinge What does it feel like to stand here?
It seems like a pretty intense place to be standing—but then you have to remember something about what it’s like to stand on a time graph: you can’t see what’s to your right. Which probably feels pretty normal… The Far Future—Coming Soon Imagine taking a time machine back to 1750—a time when the world was in a permanent power outage, long-distance communication meant either yelling loudly or firing a cannon in the air, and all transportation ran on hay. 1. Speed. The Battle to Lose the Independent Vote. Meh… Independent just seems to be another way of saying you either a) aren’t smart enough to think about the issues and make a determination of where you stand, or b) don’t give a shit about any of it. However, the glaring truth is that there is no material difference between Republicans and Democrats, and probably hasn’t been for over a 100 years.
Independent or “center-center” is still squarely in the middle of the statist camp. With Reps and Dems essentially the same, the opposing 2nd party should be a free-market society group, but unfortunately, the ideas of this group have been marginalized and snuffed out of the conversation. The Dark Secrets of the Bird World. 66 million years ago, a large asteroid about six miles in diameter smashed into what is present-day Mexico. It was the most unpleasant thing you can imagine for everyone here at the time, and it ended up causing the extinction of over 75% of species, including all the dinosaurs. Right? It killed off all the dinosaurs—that’s how the story goes.
Right? The thing is, when we picture dinosaurs, we picture large, reptile-looking guys tramping about on land being dicks. And yes, those guys you’re picturing went extinct. But there were also a lot of other kinds of dinosaurs, including some with feathers who could fly. Birds aren’t just the descendants of dinosaurs, they are dinosaurs. Birds are close relatives of the notorious Velociraptor—they share a common ancestor with it from the Jurassic period. But what about our planet’s flying dinosaurs over on the sideline?
This week, I decided to pull back the curtain on the bird world and see what was happening there. It’s just not working: Rank Racism. The Fermi Paradox. PDF: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing. Buy it here. (Or see a preview.) Everyone feels something when they’re in a really good starry place on a really good starry night and they look up and see this: Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something. Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”
A really starry sky seems vast—but all we’re looking at is our very local neighborhood. Galaxy image: Nick Risinger When confronted with the topic of stars and galaxies, a question that tantalizes most humans is, “Is there other intelligent life out there?” The science world isn’t in total agreement about what percentage of those stars are “sun-like” (similar in size, temperature, and luminosity)—opinions typically range from 5% to 20%. 1. 2. 3. Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy.
Say hi to Lucy. Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s. She’s also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y. I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group—I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs. A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story. So Lucy’s enjoying her GYPSY life, and she’s very pleased to be Lucy. Only issue is this one thing: Lucy’s kind of unhappy. To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place. It’s pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone’s life is better than they had expected, they’re happy. To provide some context, let’s start by bringing Lucy’s parents into the discussion: Lucy’s parents were born in the 50s—they’re Baby Boomers.
After graduating from being insufferable hippies, Lucy’s parents embarked on their careers. GYPSYs Are Wildly Ambitious. Elon Musk: The World's Raddest Man. This is Part 1 of a four-part series on Elon Musk’s companies. PDF and ebook options: We made a fancy PDF of this post for printing and offline viewing (see a preview here), and an ebook containing the whole four-part Elon Musk series: Last month, I got a surprising phone call. Elon Musk, for those unfamiliar, is the world’s raddest man. I’ll use this post to explore how he became a self-made billionaire and the real-life inspiration for Iron Man’s Tony Stark, but for the moment, I’ll let Richard Branson explain things briefly: Whatever skeptics have said can’t be done, Elon has gone out and made real. So no, that was not a phone call I had been expecting.
A few days later, I found myself in pajama pants, pacing frantically around my apartment, on the phone with Elon Musk. For me, this project was one of the biggest no-brainers in history. . – “electric vs hybrid vs gas cars, deal with tesla, sustainable energy” – “spacex, musk, mars?? So it was on. Zeus would have been less stressful. Mm hm. The Deal With Solar. In the Tesla post, we established what would need to happen for us to get to a totally sustainable future world: 1) We need almost everything we use to be running on electricity. 2) We need almost all of our electricity to be produced from sustainable sources. We’ve talked about #1 a lot already in the Tesla post. There are other parts of #1 beyond cars—think of what still works in your house when there’s a blackout.
For many people, that’s their car, their heat, their stove, and their water. Water faucets are usually powered by gravity, so they’re off the hook, but the other three things should all eventually end up running on electricity. Musk is so optimistic about the future of #1 that he thinks all transportation except space-bound rockets will go electric in the future. But how about #2? To conquer #2, we’ll need to pour money and innovation into sustainable energy production the same way we’ve poured ourselves into coming up with creative new ways to extract fossil fuels. Odd Things in Odd Places: Intro. A couple months ago, May Tim got inspired. “You know what would be cool?” May Tim thought to himself, “To send June Tim, July Tim, and August Tim, alone, to a bunch of places where they don’t know anyone and can’t speak to anyone, and they can do a big awesome blog series about it!”
May Tim could hardly contain himself. There were some obvious questions—what will June, July, and August Tim actually do in these places, what will the blog posts be about, how will those Tims feel about living out of a bag for the whole summer, how will they answer emails and keep up with normal things while frantically trying to keep May Tim’s promises to readers and live up to the hype May Tim created? Luckily, those questions weren’t May Tim’s problem. The only question that did need to be addressed was where exactly he was going to send those other Tims. May Tim bought tickets, arranged visas, got some shots, and moved on with his life, wiping his hands clean of the whole thing. So that’s the plan. Russia: What You Didn't Know You Don't Know.
If you’re not sure what Odd Things in Odd Places is and why I’m wandering around Russia by myself, you can learn here. When given the choice of Russia, Latvia, and Poland for where to send me on the first leg of the Odd Things in Odd Places series, it wasn’t that surprising that WBW readers chose Russia. Russia is funny. And they knew that. And of countries in the world, certain of them are just really a “thing.” The US is a thing. Japan is a thing. But with its czars and its Soviet flag and its writers and composers and its vodka and its И’s and Я’s and its KGB and its Siberia and its Lenin and Stalin and Gorbachev and Putin, Russia may just be the thingiest country in the world.
Prior to this trip, I had never been to Russia, and my most notable prior experience with Russian culture did not go well. So I had little idea what to expect. Part 1) About Russia Part 2) Highlights Part 3) Being a Russian Person: The Day I Was Mustafa the Illegal Uzbek Immigrant Who Wears a Bear Suit 1. 2. 3. 4. Japan, and How I Failed to Figure it Out. 19 Things I Learned in Nigeria. From Muhammad to ISIS: Iraq's Full Story. But What About Greenland? Why Procrastinators Procrastinate. How to Beat Procrastination.