Friday, May 23, 2008

Jameson's law and making the right decision on a change

Some friends are wrestling with buying a house and moving far away. A big change, so a big tough decision. But Jameson casually made the most perspicacious statement I've ever heard on the subject:
If you want to be sure you're doing the right thing,
just keep on doing what you're doing
until you can't stand it any longer.
Read that several times. It's undeniably true: when your situation becomes sheer hell, the change won't be the wrong decision. You're probably nowhere near that point. But pondering what it would take to reach a state where the decision is obvious will help you realize either "Things aren't nearly that bad, I'll stay the course" or "Why wait for things to get that bad, I'll go for it". Read it again. Jameson is awesome.

Even more profound than SPage's law (any of the three so far).

It's sort of like my aphorism on marriage, “Welcome to the end of your life.” I've put that in a few wedding cards and gift tags, to the chagrin of the happy couple. If you can put a situation in a harsh light without sugar-coating and you still go for it, you're truly on the right track. It seems I love tough aphorisms, culminating in “Save the world, kill yourself.”


cars: posts, Prius, progress

There seems to be only one skierpage after endless registering to comment, so were you motivated to be my Boswell you could search for all the pearls I toss before swine all over the IntarWubwubwub-Dot-Tubes. Here's one I wrote more pearly than others, fighting the unwarranted hostility towards the Toyota Prius:
Meanwhile, the Prius is a mind-bending class of its own. The most fuel-efficient car in the USA (48 city/45 highway) isn't a two-person runabout, isn't a subcompact car, isn't a compact car, isn't priced out-of-reach. It's a midsize practical hatchback for $21,000. The mega-lame bunk is the other car companies and Toyota itself haven't tried to compete. The Prius has been number 1 for years (ever since Honda discontinued the Insight). In that time every month brought another car company relentlessly pushing 4-door sports sedans from 350 HP to 400 and now 500+ HP, but the Prius coasts unchallenged. Where's the equivalent parade of Prius-killers busting past 50mpg? Where's the Prius competitor that gets 40+ but is fun to drive? Why do Toyota's smaller cars get worse mileage? All we have is the promise of GM's Volt around 2010 2011, and nothing from other companies.
There are literally over a dozen Prius parked within a block of here, and I'm surprised there aren't even more. Once you want a more economical less-polluting car (here's the EPA's full list for 2008 (pdf) ), there-can-be-only-one. Why buy a Smart or a Mini that's smaller only to get worse mileage? Why buy any other hybrid? Do you really need a stupid tall SUV? Almost every decision process leads inexorably to the Prius. And none of my friends who've bought one is smug, they like the car but are smart enough to know it doesn't solve everything/anything.

Meanwhile my search for an all-wheel drive snow car may have a light at the end of the tunnel: there will supposedly be an Audi A3 2.0TFSI DSG quattro, and an AWD Mini Clubman in 2009. But the mileage of both will probably be nothing special. Where's the Prius of AWD cars? (the Ford Escape sure ain't it).

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

web: "where do they find the time?" exposed

This blogger gets the same response that I do when I tell people about Wikipedia editors, users supporting users, collaborative development, etc.:
Where do they [i.e. those losers] find the time?
First he figures out how much time we're talking about:
So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project--every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in--that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought.
Wow, that's a lot of time devoted by people whom the clueless majority accuse of needing to "get a life". But the key insight is that is dwarfed by TV viewing:
And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads. This is a pretty big surplus
How come TV watchers get a free pass? Then he goes on to talk about if only 1% of the time we waste on mass media (whose attitude is just "How much can you consume?") goes to participatory culture, the change will be dramatic. Do the math, it's 20 Wikipedia-sized projects, every year. So expect more great things!