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The Carcer Principle

Let me tell you one of the most important lessons my favorite author ever taught me. In Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, the main villain is a thief, murderer, and all-around bastard named Carcer. He’s the very picture of a psychopath—he has no conscious, feels no guilt, and doesn’t even understand the idea of right or wrong. He’s egotistical, volatile, constantly smiling, and he always has an extra knife. In a basically well-run city where the rule of law is kept, he...

Fire, further

It’s not just capitalism that’s like fire. It’s the internet, it’s advertising, it’s lawyers, it’s video games, it’s beer. Where there’s power, there’s almost always danger. That the world’s filled with fire shouldn’t be cause for despair. It is a good cause for vigilance, though. “We didn’t start the fire It was always burning Since the world’s been turning” -Billy Joel Feel free to use the fire, in all of its forms. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s your friend....

Fire

Two things are undeniable about fire: it’s useful, and it’s dangerous. Anyone who’s been burned by a match or gotten too close to a campfire knows the latter for a fact. Yet it’s true that fire is useful as well. From cooking our food to warming our homes to powering the entire industrial revolution (and many of our cities today), fire has been at the center of much of human progress. Fire is powerful. Yet it’s still dangerous, as even children know. So we pin...

Daily 7: Why you should go to bars

I love going to bars, and I appreciate that my day job (selling beer for a craft brewery) requires that I go to bars, because it forces me to do something that’s not always comfortable: go to social places alone and talk to strangers. The benefits of this are larger than you think. It’s undeniable that beer and other alcoholic beverages do damage. They’re drugs, and they can be abused. But they also do good, because a delicious beverage and a slight buzz...

Understanding catcalling via beer

Gentlemen, if you want to understand why women hate catcalling, or think you understand it but want to experience it yourself, I have a suggestion: take a job delivering beer. There’s something about wheeling a full keg of beer into a restaurant that makes people feel like they just have to comment. “You can put that in the car over there!” “Wheel that down a couple blocks, to the house on the right!” “You can leave that here with me!” It’s...

What happens when you work 80+ hrs a week

If you want to understand why it’s so hard to rise out of poverty, work 80+ hrs/wk for not a lot of pay. Even if you’re (mostly) doing work you enjoy, as I am now, it’s illuminating. What I’m being brutally reminded of is that it takes time and effort to save money. That seems obvious, and the typical rejoinder is “If it’s important, you’ll make the time!” But what if there isn’t a lot of time to make? I can manage all...

Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?

Continuing my tradition of being way behind on popular culture, I only recently saw Inside Out. I finally watched it because one of my friends, who has good taste, kept berating me until I did. I should probably listen to his advice more often, ’cause this movie was amazing. I can hear him clambering with more suggestions. Down boy, down! Stephen has to write sometime. I want to talk about two of the way emotions were treated in Inside Out changed my perception...

Look to the one before

Returning to what I said in my Star Wars: The Force Awakens posts, you may have a question: How do I square my analysis with the nearly universal acclaim the movie is receiving from professional critics? I’m glad you asked, hypothetical question-asker. The answer is simple: Our reaction to a piece of art has less to do with its absolute quality than we like to admit. It has far more to do with our expectations going in. I realized this while working on the year-end Best of posts...

It depends

I was having a discussion at Random Curiosity the other day about whether happy or tragic endings were better. It depends. If someone asked me the number one food they should eat, or the number one exercise they should do, there can be only one answer. It depends. If someone wanted to know the one book they most need to read, you know the answer. Wage Slave Rebellion. At least until my next book comes out. I’m kidding, of course. It depends....

What are your two skills?

I was listening to an episode of the Tim Ferriss Show podcast (which I finally started, even though I’ve been following Tim for years. Highly recommended), and one of the guests mentioned something in passing that I found quite interesting. From the episode with Dr. Justin Mager and Kelly Starrett, one of them mentioned that, if you asked his wife what his “two skills” are, she would say: He can mimic anyone. That allows him to understand how you move and why you move, and...