Your app makes me fat

BLOG — Serious Pony:

And that’s all awesome and fabulous and social and 3.0ish except for one, small, inconvenient fact: zero sum. What you consume here, you take from there. Not just their attention, not just their time, but their ability to be the person they are when they are at their best. When they have ample cognitive resources. When they can think, solve-problems, and exercise self-control. When they can create, make connections, and stay focused. 

Is that “content” worth it?  Maybe. But instead of “Is this useful?” perhaps we should raise the bar and ask “Will they use it?” (and so, yeah, I’m more than a little self-conscious about typing that as I consume your cognitive resources. But I didn’t start Serious Pony to save your cognitive resources; I want to help save the cognitive resources of your users).

[I complain about various bits of cognitive drain to my wife all the time. No doubt a self fulfilling prophecy for her… I’ll have to work on that. On the upside, I bother my team at work about reducing it for others all the time. It’s zero sum game at every level.]

Fast Time and the Aging Mind

Fast Time and the Aging Mind –

The question and the possibility it presents put me in mind of my father, who died a few years ago at age 86. An engineer by training, he read constantly after he retired. His range was enormous; he read about everything from astronomy to natural history, travel and gardening. I remember once discovering dozens of magazines and journals in the house and was convinced that my parents had become the victims of a mail-order scam.

Thinking I’d help with the clutter, I began to bundle up the magazines for recycling when my father angrily confronted me, demanding to know what the hell I was doing. “I read all of these,” he said.

And then it dawned on me. I cannot recall his ever having remarked on how fast or slow his life seemed to be going. He was constantly learning, always alive to new ideas and experience. Maybe that’s why he never seemed to notice that time was passing.

So what, you might say, if we have an illusion about time speeding up? But it matters, I think, because the distortion signals that we might squeeze more out of life.

It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller when you’re sitting on the beach and break out a book on evolutionary theory or Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it.

[All the excuse I need to always continue programming, music, woodworking, photography, and everything else. One should never stop learning.]

Good enough

I rode away from everyone and everything early in the morning on a hill that leveled to a faintly breezy ridge that opens to a blurry river at the farthest border of useful vision. Shortly, in the shelter of a piney forest, my cadence, such as it was, slacked to a stop. I took a drink, and enjoyed the bird song and quiet as my own breathing fell to less of an uproar. Thankful, I rolled around and nosed into the descent. The thick wall of trees and the piles of fallen needles absorbed the sound of my passing. The enchantment would vanish, the way it always does for riders like me, when the road would turn up again. I’d shatter and fail in a vain attempt to ride the hills with grace and panache. No easy and endless energy. No elegant spin and position.

I found an imperceptible furrow in the wind and gained speed. I traced it for a few more minutes, down that hill and up others and across some brief false flats. I rode like me. And for a brief while that too was good enough.


The dopers roll merrily on

Zabel: Nobody Forced Me To Take EPO:

He confessed six years ago to having tried EPO one time, in 1996, but now in light of the positive test a year later, he has finally admitted to having doped from 1996 through at least 2003.

Zabel added, “I never had a structured doping plan, never had any experts around me, and so never saw myself as a superdoper. I only had recommendations.”

[Now we have the birth of the “superdoper”? “I was just a simple lad dosing myself with EPO. No structured plan, and the needles were uphill both ways!” Of course. The disease that causes doping is a lack of honesty. To allow someone to draw a line between themselves as dopers and the newly incarnated “superdoper” is to allow the disease to continue to perpetuate.]