The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
— Niels Bohr
“There is an old debate,” Erdos liked to say, “about whether you create mathematics or just discover it. In other words, are the truths already there, even if we don’t yet know them?”
Erdos had a clear answer to this question: Mathematical truths are there among the list of absolute truths, and we just rediscover them. Random graph theory, so elegant and simple, seemed to him to belong to the eternal truths. Yet today we know that random networks played little role in assembling our universe. […]
Not privy to nature’s laws in creating the brain and society, Erdos hazarded his best guess in assuming that God enjoys playing dice. His friend Albert Einstein, at Princeton, was convinced of the opposite: “God does not play dice with the universe.”— Albert-László Barabási in Linked
“In essence, no hands climbing is a pointless thing to do. As is rock climbing. As is most things we do.” — Johnny Dawes
(Here’s a direct link if the embed doesn’t work.)
“I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave ma a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence or some secret power.”― Charles Bukowski, Factotum
Heard this one on the radio, T.J. Miller talking about his time in NYC. As a Londoner I find it highly relatable. (Transcript by me, from memory, hey ho.)
The thing about New York is that everybody is trying to make rent.
Everybody. So there is this respect in New York, which is, if you couldn’t make rent you would not be here.
And even feel sorry for the super rich trust fund kids because they’re not really in New York — when they get on the subway they’re not in the same hurry as when you and I are in a hurry, so that we can make rent.
New York will crush a man’s spirit in two weeks.
In a recent New Yorker article “Have Aliens found us?”, there is a reference to cargo cults. The magazine doesn’t go into detail, but cargo cults are super interesting in their own right, so here’s a little post about them.
When military bases popped up in the Pacific, they met islanders who were isolated from technology until then. And from the locals’ perspective, they got introduced to a lot of new stuff all the sudden. They’ve also seen the stationed military personnel engage in weird rituals on the island.
Islanders observed as Westerners went on to turn on some lights, then climbed a tower to make funny moves. In a short while an aircraft flew over to drop crates of weapons, food and other interesting stuff.
Islanders didn’t know what a factory or an aircraft was, what a radio is for. But the need to find out how things work is only human. So they quickly drew the wrong conclusion that it was God sending cargo to whoever asked for it, and Western people know a way to talk to God.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic — the third law of Arthur C. Clarke.
Anybody who has to work hard to get stuff, but learns how to get even better stuff with magic, would do what they did next.
When the military eventually left the island after World War II, islanders started duplicating the observed behaviors. They’ve built fake wooden airplanes, created a “radio” with headphones made of coconut halves, recreated military uniforms and flags. They climbed the tower, made the hand signals and waited.
Waiting ever since.
I hold the unpopular opinion that Radiohead is a pop band. Because, I say, you can’t realistically be called alternative when half the world knows and loves every song you’ve ever published.
Nothing against Radiohead of course. But, let me show you a bunch of songs that I dug up throughout the years. Chances are you haven’t heard them yet.
These songs each have <1000 listens on Spotify. And under 10 views on Youtube, hey ho!
And if you’re reading this blog as a teenager, with an ambition to be really alternative, this is gold. You get the point. Because if all your friends are “different” in the exact same way, then none of them really is. You will be. You’re the person who discovered the goods.
Without further ado, my three favorites from the list:
- Otik: Blasphemy
- Foundhim / Ponette: I’m Alone (Youtube link — with the exclusive opportunity to be one of their 21 monthly listeners!)
- Yuuki Sakai: Pol Gaso (Youtube link)
Go ahead and support the artists with your attention!
“The willingness to keep trying new things — different methods, uncomfortable tasks — when you are already an expert at something is what separates good from great. Focusing on your strengths is required for peak performance, but improving your weaknesses has the potential for the greatest gains. This is true for athletes, executives, and entire companies.
— Garry Kasparov in Deep Thinking
Now, who’s limited? Whenever you say “We will not do this”, then you lose. If you say “I’m going to do it when I feel like it, and when I don’t feel like it, I’m not going to do it”, then you’ve got choice and you’ve got some basis on which to be in control.
— Bandler & Grinder in REFRAMING: Neuro Linguistic Programming And The Transformation Of Meaning
“Living in New York City gives people real incentives to want things that nobody else wants – to want all the left-over things. There are so many people here to compete with that changing your tastes to what other people don’t want is your only hope of getting anything. For instance, on beautiful, sunny days in New York, it gets so crowded outside you can’t even see Central Park through all the bodies. But very early on Sunday mornings in horrible rainy weather, when no one wants to get up and no one wants to get out even if they are up, you can go out and walk all over and have the streets to yourself and it’s wonderful.”
– Andy Warhol, in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol