Rules for Sane Living in a World of Constant Outrage

Posted on July 22, 2016

Turn it all off.

I’ve deleted the twitter apps from my phone and computer, I don’t log into Facebook anymore, and I’m limiting when I read news outside of the tech news to once a week. It just became too much, I started feeling angry all the time, and reading more news wasn’t making me feel any better about it. There was nothing I could do about how I felt, there were no actions I could take to assuage the pain. The constant flow of new events across the world to be outraged about is too much for anyone to handle.

So, I’ve started myself on a strict information diet. Unless the news is related to Apple or the tech industry, or any of my hobbies,1 I’m leaving it till Saturday morning after I’ve gone on a long run.

There is plenty of evidence that binging on news is detrimental to your health. In the past few months I’ve noticed my mental state has grown significantly more pessimistic about the state of the world, when in truth my personal circumstances have never been better.2

That’s not to say that the issues in the world right now are not serious, or that I don’t care about the many, many problems affecting our society. I do. I care enormously. I simply can’t let how much I care dictate how I feel about everything else. I’m not cutting myself off completely, I’m simply making a decision for myself about when and how much of the news I’ll allow in. When the time comes for action, I’ll take it.3 I just don’t need to be reminded about what I already know over, and over, and over.

Sometimes the best thing to do for your own mental health is to log off.

  1. Reading, writing, gardening, running, and general travel and hiking.

  2. I work from home, in a good job, with a company that I respect and love working for. Raising four kids will always bring times of hardship and doubt, but overall we are ok.

  3. By taking action I mean writing a letter to my senator, or participating in a march, or voting for who I feel will make the world a better place. I abhor violence.

James Gowans

Posted on July 21, 2016

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Have you ever noticed that the secret to all the secrets is that it’s never the easy path?

The Motivation Toolkit

Posted on July 21, 2016

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One key to mastery is what Florida State University psychology professor Anders Ericsson calls deliberate practice – a ‘lifelong period of… effort to improve performance in a specific domain.’ Deliberate practice isn’t running a few miles each day or banging on the piano for twenty minutes each morning. It’s much more purposeful, focused, and, yes painful. Follow these steps – over and over again for a decade – and you just might become a master:

Focus and mastery of your chosen craft are topics that I’m deeply interested in, so this article checked all the right boxes for me. In the age of distraction that we live in, where any hint of boredom can be quickly and easily erased by Twitter or Buzzfeed, I believe that the ability to focus, and focus intently for extended periods of time is only going to become more valuable for people who work primarily with their minds.

Each day is an opportunity to either sharpen your saw, or let it rust. Taking action to ensure that you are focusing on the right things at the right time gives you an advantage.

I’d be remiss not to mention Shawn Blanc’s “The Power of a Focused Life” course. I’ve not taken the course yet, it’s a bit pricey, but I’ve followed his work for long enough that I understand where he’s coming from. To do your best work consistently, and to always be pressing the boundaries of your capability, to always be making yourself just a little bit better every day, these are the traits of a master craftsman.

Master Plan, Part Deux - Tesla Motors

Posted on July 20, 2016

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However, the main reason was to explain how our actions fit into a larger picture, so that they would seem less random. The point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good. That’s what “sustainable” means. It’s not some silly, hippy thing – it matters for everyone.

By definition, we must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse. Given that we must get off fossil fuels anyway and that virtually all scientists agree that dramatically increasing atmospheric and oceanic carbon levels is insane, the faster we achieve sustainability, the better.

Here is what we plan to do to make that day come sooner:

Tesla is the most interesting company in America today.

BBEdit and Python Tags

Posted on July 19, 2016

I’m in the process, a very long process, of switching from Vim to BBEdit as my primary editor. The reasons are long and varied, but boil down to me being tired of screwing around with Vim’s configuration. I do a lot of work in Python now, and I’m using the experience of building and maintaining cloudchain to learn how to navigate BBEdit. Hopefully, someday I’ll be as good here as I was with Vim.

Today I learned that BBEdit ships with support for ctags, best defined by the documentation:

Ctags generates an index (or tag) file of language objects found in source files that allows these items to be quickly and easily located by a text editor or other utility. A tag signifies a language object for which an index entry is available (or, alternatively, the index entry created for that object).

The tag file serves two purposes. First, BBEdit will use the tags to allow you to jump to the point in your project where the selected function was defined. Second, if you copy the tags file to a specific spot, BBEdit will use that file for code autocompletion.

  • ⌘- -> Find the definition of the selected function.
  • ⌘⎇[ -> Jump back to the point you were at in the previous file (if the function was defined elsewhere).

To generate the tags file, open your project directory in Terminal and run bbedit --maketags. Then copy the resulting tags file to ~/Application Support/BBEdit/Completion Sources/Python/tags. Quit and restart BBEdit and autocompletion and function definition should both work.


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