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N+1

How many fountain pens are the right number to own? Seems like a silly, first-world kind of question. The inside joke with pen collectors is, “Just one more.” I’ve heard the same answer from people who are into motorcycles, cameras, lenses, carving knives, and lots more. The same idea shows up in our daily activities. […]

Our Models (Easily) go Haywire When our Chemistry Rages.

Decisions we think daft in the cold light of day make perfect sense when we’re sexually aroused or angry. The same is true when we become fixated on achieving a goal we associate with some basic emotion. The amygdala (reptile brain) is not a friend of rational thought. Big decisions are like operating heavy equipment: […]

We (Easily) Assume the Future Will be Like the Past

We take the same route to work every day without thought, and usually, it works just fine. We do this because of a specific mental model that says, “What worked in the past will work the same way in the future.” If traffic is bad, the consequences aren’t usually enough to cause us to change. […]

We (Easily) See Patterns Where There Aren’t Any

Our mental models help us until they don’t. Then they’re “thinking traps.” We see patterns and make meaning where there are none. When we describe something as “good” or “bad”, we give it meaning. When we mentally order or arrange events, we create a pattern. In both cases, we are “personalizing our experience”—making everything about […]

We (Easily) Focus on the Wrong Things

Our mental models help us until they don’t. Then they’re “thinking traps.” We live overstimulated lives, which we attempt to process through a working memory that can deal with about seven things (plus or minus three). As a result, we are easily impressed with whatever happened most recently, with vivid memories and experiences, and with […]

Making a Deal with the AI Devil

Someone I regard highly recommended Perplexity.ai as a search engine replacement. I headed straight there and signed up. I even bought the pro package (I believe in paying to use other people’s IP). And then . . . my wife sent me an article in Wired Magazine called Perplexity is a Bullshit Machine.  Ooooof.  It’s pretty damning. Basically, […]

All The Best Words

German is a pretty rich language.  Depending on how and what you count, there are about 500,000 words . . . though others place it at 1 million or even 5 million. Like I said, it depends on the counting. English is less complex but still hefty. Call it 600,000 words with room to the […]

Throw Out That Anchor

Question . . . The price of this car is $30,000. Is that a good deal? Different Question . . . The retail price of this (same) car is $35,000. I’ll sell it to you for $30,000. Is that a good deal? Different Question . . . This (same) car retails for $29,000 but has […]

We Suffer from Lack of Curation and Signposts

The Pali Canon is the collected wisdom of Theravada Buddhism. It contains about 1.5 million words. All Buddhists know the Four Noble Truths. That’s fewer than 100 words and gives you a lifetime of things to work on. The King James Bible is about 780,000 words. If all you did every day was live the […]

Bricks, Walls, and Cathedrals

A man sits by the road beneath a tree, enjoying a mid-afternoon snack.  A man walks by with a load of bricks. Our friend calls out to the worker, “Good afternoon, what are you doing?” The worker replies, “I’m carrying bricks.” Soon, another worker walks by, also carrying bricks. Our friend calls out to the […]