Quotes, August 2013

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
-Jeff Bezos

“My books are always ground breaking. Then I have to write them.”
-Cal Newport

“Journalists feel a deep resentment for those who don’t fear them.”
-Nassim Taleb

“You always set out trying to make Citizen Kane. By the time you get to the editing room, you try just not to be humiliated.”
-Woody Allen

“Experiencing stories that tell the tale of protagonists for whom we can empathize gives us the courage to examine our own lives and change them. So if your story doesn’t change your lead character irrevocably from beginning to end, no one will really care about it. It may entertain them, but it will have little effect on them. It will be forgotten. We want characters in stories that take on the myriad challenges of changing their lives and somehow make it through, with invaluable experience. Stories give us the courage to act when we face confusing circumstances that require decisiveness.”
-Shawn Coyne

“Quality is not an absolute measure. It doesn’t mean ‘deluxeness’ or ‘perfection’. It means keeping the promise the customer wants you to make.”
-Seth Godin

“If you just ship for the sake of shipping, for example, you’re likely to end up producing an ever-growing mountain of mediocrity. You must push yourself to do something better. At the same time, if you become too entangled in your own hype, you’re likely to fall into perfectionism, letting years worth of opportunities pass as you ponder your masterpiece.”
-Cal Newport

“We are the stories we tell ourselves.”
-Joan Didion

“The classical virtues are all decision-making heuristics to make one optimize for the long term rather than for the short term.”
-Naval Ravikant

“All artists are willing to suffer for their work. But why are so few prepared to learn to draw?”

“People who want an honest test of their skills sell to markets; people who can’t handle an honest test of their skills go to school.”
-Jake Seliger

“It seems that political systems are stable more because they push folks to avoid discussing change than because they make people like the outcomes that such systems produce. Until we return to an era when there is strong military competition, or until some big cultural change somehow makes discussing political system change cool, the political systems that we will have will mostly be the ones that somehow make folks look or feel bad to discuss changes, instead of the systems that most make people happy via their outcomes. Today, we are mostly selecting mostly for political systems that tend to make discussing them seem weird.”
-Robin Hanson

“A formidable person is one who seems like they’ll get what they want, regardless of whatever obstacles are in the way.”
-Paul Graham

“If you are going to swim with the big sharks, you better not be a seal. If you are not really connected, you will simply be their dinner. Always know who the opponent is you intend to confront.”
-Martin Armstrong

“Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try.”
-Neil Patel

“Too many problems get seen as individual curses, for which therapy is the answer, not political problems, for which we need societal reform.”
-Alain de Botton

“The new political faultlines aren’t left v right, but authoritarian v self-determination, top down v bottom up, centralized v de-centralized.”
-Naval Ravikant

“We human beings are primates. We have a deeply ingrained set of cultural and interpersonal behavioural rules which we violate only at social cost. One of these rules, essential for a tribal organism, is bilaterality: loyalty is a two-way street. (Another is hierarchicality: yield to the boss.) Such rules are not iron-bound or immutable — we’re not robots — but our new hive superorganism employers don’t obey them instinctively, and apes and monkeys and hominids tend to revert to tit for tat quite easily when unsure of their relative status. Perceived slights result in retaliation, and blundering, human-blind organizations can slight or bruise an employee’s ego without even noticing. And slighted or bruised employees who lack instinctive loyalty because the culture they come from has spent generations systematically destroying social hierarchies and undermining their sense of belonging are much more likely to start thinking the unthinkable. Edward Snowden is 30: he was born in 1983. Generation Y started in 1980-82. I think he’s a sign of things to come. PS: Bradley Manning is 25.”
-Charles Stross