Portable Wisdom

Intro to the Site

Let’s start with some definitions.

The goal of this site is to offer a collection of concise bits of text that quickly convey ideas of great value, often delivered in a memorable fashion.

The site is divided up into three sections.

Below you will find the latest additions to the site, although I encourage you to browse around as your interests take you.

The Latest Lists

Patterns of Human Cooperation

As humans it can be fairly said that our superpower is the ability to work cooperatively with others of our species.

But these seemingly simple ideas of cooperation and coordination turn out to be devilishly complex in practice, especially in large undertakings.

The Scientific Method

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science.

The Latest Models

Hierarchy of Needs

Whether we are considering individuals or groups, we tend to have some sorts of motivations that need to be satisfied before we turn our attention to others.

The Cynefin Framework

Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework offers a useful guide to differing approaches that are appropriate for situations with varying degrees of certainty.

The Latest Quotes

Muddled thinking and self-deception

Mr. Campion was shocked. There are some people to whom muddled thinking and self-deception are the two most unforgivable crimes in the world.

Change is the one constant when it comes to culture

Change, after all, is the one constant when it comes to culture. All peoples in all places at all times are always dancing with new possibilities for life.

When racial or religious lines are drawn by the State

When racial or religious lines are drawn by the State, the multi-racial, multi-religious communities that our Constitution seeks to weld together as one become separatist; antagonisms that relate to race or to religion, rather than to political issues, are generated; communities seek not the best representative, but the best racial or religious partisan.

Very large social units are imaginary

Very large social units are always, in a sense, imaginary. Or, to put it in a slightly different way, there is always a fundamental distinction between the way one relates to friends, family, neighbourhood, people and places that we actually know directly, and the way one relates to empires, nations and metropolises, phenomena that exist largely, or at least most of the time, in our heads.

Many humans just don't like their families

There is an obvious objection to evolutionary models which assume that our strongest social ties are based on close biological kinship: many humans just don’t like their families very much. And this appears to be just as true of present-day hunter-gatherers as anybody else. Many seem to find the prospect of living their entire lives surrounded by close relatives so unpleasant that they will travel very long distances just to get away from them.

I love and admire my species

I grow little of the food I eat, and of the little I do grow I did not breed or perfect the seeds.

I do not make any of my own clothing.

I speak a language I did not invent or refine.

I did not discover the mathematics I use.

I am protected by freedoms and laws I did not conceive of or legislate, and do not enforce or adjudicate.

I am moved by music I did not create myself.

When I needed medical attention, I was helpless to help myself survive.

I did not invent the transistor, the microprocessor, object oriented programming, or most of the technology I work with.

I love and admire my species, living and dead, and am totally dependent on them for my life and well being.

To distract the watchdog of the mind

Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the ‘content’ of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.

My brain felt hungry

That’s how my brain felt to me, too. Hungry. Needy. Itchy. Once it wanted information. But then it was distraction. And then, with social media, validation. A drumbeat of: You exist. You are seen.

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