J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Month: February 2011

The Expensive Cheese Test (When The Happiness Curve Stops Rising)

The pinnacle of wealth-derived happiness.

The other day I read this post on Cal Newport’s Study Hacks blog.  Cal describes a pattern that can be observed among many twenty-somethings, the quixotic quest for the “perfect job” or career that, if found, will result in happiness and satisfaction.

Cal makes a convincing argument that the attitudinal and work habits of an individual are more closely related to happiness than finding one’s dream job or “following your passion.”  He contrasts himself to 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss, who he quotes as saying:

“But if it’s tolerable mediocrity, and you’re like, ‘Well, you know it could be worse. At least I’m getting paid.’ Then you wind up in a job that is slowly killing your soul.”

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Why Do Record Labels Still Exist? (Horse Poop and Easy Street)

These days you can sell the stuff.

Imagine that you are an entrepreneur in New York City in the early 1900’s.  Your company offers a single service — cleaning up horse poop.

Business is gangbusters.  There is no shortage of horse poop.  Every buggy needs a horse (or multiple horses) to drag it, and every horse poops multiple times a day.  You can’t hire horse poop shovelers fast enough to keep up with demand.  In fact, despite your best efforts, the entire city is covered in horse poop.  New York City’s 100,000 horses are producing 2.5 million pounds of poop every day.

One day, you notice a weird-looking contraption in the street.  It’s buggy, but it has no horse.  It’s a horseless-f*cking-carriage!

It’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen in your life.  It will never catch on.  You go back to counting your poop-shoveling money.

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To Bean Or Not To Bean, That Is The Question (Legumes, Lectins, and Human Health)

With apologies to Shakespeare.

These days, many people across the world are wondering if they should eat beans, or not.

Right now, this very minute, there are two powerful, but opposing, dietary trends speeding towards a potentially explosive head-on collision.

On the one side the paleolithic (or “Stone Age“) style of eating, a dietary/lifestyle system that eschews grains, legumes, sugar, and all processed foods in favor of quality meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit, and healthful fats.  This is the anti-bean side.

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How To Accumulate (Non-Coercive) Power, Part III

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and civilly disobedient bus rider Rosa Parks.

This post is a continuation of How To Accumulate (Non-Coercive) Power, Part II, in which I started to chip away at the non-trivial problem of how disempowered communities can regain power.

Certainly this qualifies as An Extremely Difficult Problem … in this case I’m taking the empirical approach.  What has worked in the past?  We can look to the specifics of Gandhi’s nonviolent revolution, MLK’s civil rights movement strategies, Nelson Mandela’s leadership in the anti-apartheid movement, how Cesar Chavez organized U.S. farm workers, and other examples of communities regaining power without the use of violence or other coercive tactics.  Are there generalities that apply to all of these cases?

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Great Health Posts from Berkhan, Sisson

Two great posts I’ve enjoyed recently:

1) How To Walk The Talk and Unlock Your True Potential
from leangains.com, by Martin Berkhan

Mr. Ripped, aka Martin Berkhan.

Martin Berkhan is an insanely fit Swede who writes about muscle-gain, fat-loss, and metabolic science.  He’s an entertaining, insightful writer who I admire for his critical thinking, skepticism, and intellectual independence.

In the post linked above, Martin discusses psychological issues specific to those of us who are  obsessed with health and nutrition information.  We don’t always practice the principles we preach to others.  Our addiction to health and fitness information can be counter-productive; we’re constantly “optimizing our systems” instead of just sticking with a simple plan that works.

I won’t give away Martin’s solution to this conundrum — read the post!

2) The Unconquerable Dave
from marksdailyapple.com by Mark Sisson and Dave Parsons

Readers of Mark Sisson’s “primal living” site (which features Sisson’s version of the paleolithic diet) often write in and share testimonials and before/after pictures.  I love these posts — it’s great to see the results from people who have given up on the low-fat, low-cholesterol standard diet advice and are taking the paleo path.

Primal Dave!

From the tone and content of Dave’s emails, it seemed like he jumped on the primal/paleo bandwagon and never looked back.  He just stuck with the plan, lost 100 pounds, and reverse-aged.  One can’t help but think “Go Dave!” while reading this post.

How To Accumulate (Non-Coercive) Power, Part II

One has led a successful non-violent revolution, the other is still trying.

In How To Accumulate (Non-Coercive) Power, Part I, I wrote about how individuals can become more powerful.  In this post I’ll write about how communities can become more powerful (including how communities can escape from the tyrannical, coercive control of oppressors).

A different kind of power grid.

When I write “accumulating power,” I’m referring to non-coercive, non-zero-sum power (which I explained in detail in my earlier post The Four Types of Power).  Non-coercive power allows us to do more; it increases our scope of action.  Coercive power, are on the other hand, is derived from controlling others, either through violence, the threat of violence, or withholding resources necessary for survival (like food or shelter).  I’m not interested in this kind of power — I don’t want to control others.  I would prefer to live in a world in which everyone who is capable of free choice can exercise it.

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