Random insight from Jerry Seinfeld

A couple of insights from Jerry Seinfeld

  1. He still practices his craft every day – at the age of 64
  2. This excert on comedy vs rhetoric

    Are you grateful these days that your comedic muse didn’t lead you down a more political path?
    I like to pursue my own idiosyncratic avenues. If I thought I could do something there that the average comedian can’t do — but I watch Bill Maher or Seth Meyers and I go, I can’t do that well with that; they’re great at it. But I can talk about raisins in ways other people can’t.

    That’s important too.
    I hate the presumption of importance. I don’t like when comedians think what they’re doing is important. That’s not a comedic perspective, for me. I was watching some W.C. Fields with a friend the other day. We could not believe the timing, the material, the performances. Perfect. We wouldn’t change a thing. That’s how eternal comedy is. What political material from 15, 20 years ago do you want to hear? None of it, really. The content of it isn’t, largely, comedic. It’s rhetoric.

Expertise vs Scholarship

I came across this article on Ars Technica “First, Kill All The Experts” and I was reminded of the importance of language.

The gist of the article is that people distrust experts leaving us vulnerable to the dangers of global warming, privatized health care, etc.  The confusion is that of scholarship vs expertise.  Seemingly if you can’t run tests or repeat the same experiments over and over you’re just well versed in the theories and literature.  Seemingly one would give more credence the the predictions of a structural engineer about a structure than a climatologists about the climate (or a macro-economist about the economy) .

Morning Williamson on Puritanism

From this column

That was the basic cultural theory of America: that our Anglo-Protestant forebears were so deep-dipped in the Protestant work ethic — and so constantly mindful that they might be called before their Maker at any moment to make an accounting of their lives — that they didn’t need a king bossing them around. They bossed themselves around, like enlightened people do — that’s classical liberalism in a nutshell.

It’s a real problem for people, but – the first Atlanta Slate Star Codex Meeting was a success

“It’s a real problem for people, but…” was the one-liner of the day, spoken by Nathan about the incentives faced by hospitals.

The first Atlanta Slate Star Codex meetup (that I’ve been to) was a smashing success.  We had one RSVP (who did not show) and seven attendees, which makes for a wonderful meetup.  The number was right (and the SSC readership  behaves quite well in groups) for everyone to be in on the conversation with no need for direction.

The topics of the day included

  • Brain chemistry and optimization
  • Melatonin (but not sleep in general, I found interesting)
  • Sleep in particular (particularly sleep paralysis and lucid dreaming)
  • Guns (group consensus – they’re awesome – (that surprised me))
  • Niche groups
  • Self-Selection
  • Ingroup/outgroup (a lot)
  • Mental illness
  • Optimizing credit card usage/gaming the system of rewards, bonuses
  • Machine learning/AI (of course)
  • Books (of course – Kolmya Stories  and American Hippopotamus were the ones I was talking about)
  • A couple others I’ve forgotten about

The meeting had no structure or set topics and the conversation just drifted happily.  I am setting up another meetup for next month, probably at the same place.

Speaking truth into the world

One of my happier discoveries of parenting is being able to read and revisit the classic works of literature for my daughter’s bedtime stories and see the wonder of timeless stories on someone new.  A secondary source of happiness is being able to read them out loud to her – there is an altogether different enjoyment in reading aloud compared to reading silently.  I’m reminded of something in Jordan Peterson’s book, namely that the spoken word has power that the written word does not.  In the beginning there was the word, and so forth…

Word Salad – the term for the times

I heard the closing moments of the Kennedy Nixon debates on Radio Free Bernstein a few weeks ago and was struck by how novel it seemed. – they both seemed genuinely smart, and off the cuff, not rehearsed.  The most striking thing was that there were almost no pauses for emphasis, which meant that the listener has to actually listen (any modern speech you can do the auditory equivalent of skimming, thanks to the pauses).

Word Salad seems to be the most apt phrase for modern political speech.

The perfect metaphor for l’affaire de Kavanaugh

Is the Iraq war – with the sides reversed – consider

  1.  People similar to him have done horrible things (those people being violent drunken men)
  2. There is very little real evidence actually presented at this point (no one besides Kavanaugh has testified yet) – damning or otherwise – it’s pretty much all Facebook conjecture
  3. One side of the aisle has an interest in hyping the matter
  4. The call is to BELIEVE, or BELIEVE IN the people telling the story, and not the evidence they have

Happily this should be able to be resolved a bit better either way than that.

On another note, many years ago I remember talking with someone who grew up in the fifties – she said that (when she was growing up) her mom did not let her go to parties if any Irish (maybe she said Catholics, I don’t remember exactly, but I think she said Irish) kids would be there, as they would just get drunk and assault-ty.  The more things change…