On Writing

nickzed:

“I go to the library, and I open my laptop, and I sit there, regardless of whether or not I feel like it. I gave a reading at a high school the other day, and one of the students asked, ‘what do you do when you don’t feel inspired?’, and I said ‘I’ve never in my life felt inspired, it’s not a question of inspiration.’ It’s a question of this mundane, or this seemingly mundane act of will. I just go, and I’ve committed myself to this project of trying to be honest, and it’s not like a glorious revelation, it’s an incredibly difficult, frustrating, self-deprecating act.”

— Jonathan Safran Foer (interviewed by Charlie Rose)


posted : Sunday, May 17th, 2009

tags : reblog

reblogged from : Nick Zarzycki

A chapter of accidents

TO UNDERSTAND the personal baggage that Pope Benedict XVI brought to the Holy Land this week, it is worth looking at his most accessible book, “Jesus of Nazareth”, published two years ago. With a mixture of intense piety and arcane scholarship, he reflects on the Jewish origins of Christianity’s dogmas and rites in a way that shows deep interest in the religion of ancient Israel—yet total conviction that the older faith’s true meaning is to be found only in Christ. Both in its rigour and in its devotion, the pope’s writing reflects the enclosed places in which he has spent most of his 82 years. First, the formal atmosphere of German academia, where charisma is a dirty word; and then the upper echelons of the Vatican, a world whose ethos, reasoning and vocabulary are utterly remote from the lives of most lay Catholics, let alone everyone else. more

posted : Sunday, May 17th, 2009

tags :

Interesting

Joking about airline security

What two American magicians think of metal detectors.

posted : Sunday, May 17th, 2009

tags :

Neighbor

nickzed:

There is this very troubled kid who lives in the apartment beneath my apartment in the room which is directly beneath my room who enjoys listening to rap music. I find him to be particularly troubled because his definition of ‘listening’ exceeds mine in every way. He plays his music using what I can only guess is a sound system whose subwoofer alone consumes at least a quarter of my apartment building’s electricity. His very primitive and tedious music shakes the walls of my family’s apartment and makes it impossible for anyone to concentrate.

The great thing is that this troubled kid is the child of the divorced and single apartment supervisor and is thus impossible to get rid of. I have heard that he has been in rehab twice, and I know that he is currently on parole. He is seventeen years old. I do not think he is very intelligent or good at remembering things, because he continues playing his music (sometimes) even when threatened with jail time.

Anyway, today I imagined what would happen if I could somehow hire a bunch of very tough and scary-looking people to threaten this person with violence and maybe buy him a pair of headphones. Then I realized that he has probably already met plenty of scary people in jail, and that his memory is probably not good enough to keep even the most basic threats suspended in the damaged thing that is his consciousness.

I then imagined what it would be like to scare the shit out of him by way of speaker-hijacking – say, by hooking up some very loud and scary music/sounds to his sound system and waking him up in the middle of the night. This scenario satisfied my imagination until I realized that this kid might be so troubled and damaged that anything out of the ordinary could make him kill himself.


posted : Sunday, May 17th, 2009

tags : reblog

reblogged from : Nick Zarzycki

Influence

nickzed:

The rabbit looked at himself in the mirror and inhaled and told himself that he could do it. This was the time and the place and this was his time.

The rabbit could hear the schizophrenic human living in the apartment above the rabbit’s whose bathroom’s plumbing carried sounds made in the bathroom above down to the rabbit’s apartment’s bathroom murmuring “maybe you perhaps you maybe you might be are.”


posted : Thursday, May 14th, 2009

tags : reblog

reblogged from : Nick Zarzycki

Roger Federer Not Winning Depresses Me

nickzed:

When you yawn, the pitch of whatever you’re listening to goes down.

A majority of the people who read this will yawn within the next minute.


posted : Thursday, May 14th, 2009

tags : reblog

reblogged from : Nick Zarzycki

Racism

nickzed:

“It especially annoys me when racists are accused of ‘discrimination.’ The ability to discriminate is a precious faculty; by judging all members of one ‘race’ to be the same, the racist precisely shows himself incapable of discrimination.”

— Christopher Hitchens


posted : Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

tags : reblog

reblogged from : Nick Zarzycki

The Pursuit of Happiness

nickzed:

When we graph happiness as a function of economic output, we notice a positive but weakening relationship (imagine a line of best fit going through the points below):

Looking at this, we might very crudely conclude that as output per person increases from 0 to 5000, happiness increases tremendously. I’m sure there have been books written about this first part of the curve, so the most I’ll try to say is this. Economic expansion/develpment is tremendously valuable to low-output economies as it represents, for a majority of these economies’ participants, the difference between life and starvation, health and sickness, no education and some education, instability and peace, and lifelong shame and pride.

But of course every macroeconomist and cosmopolitan utilitarian is aware of this. Both groups have expressed tremendous support for efforts aimed at raising that first part of the curve. For people interested in maximizing the amount of good they ‘do’ during their lifetimes, this seems to be very promising territory.

What’s a little bit ironic, then, at least in my mind, is that an overwhelming number of very intelligent and creative people are focusing their lives on that other part of the graph - the approaching-horizontal flat bit - despite the fact that every problem inherent to raising the first bit will require an intelligent and creative solution (regardless of what you think the problem(s) is/are.) The only excuse provided by this group (namely, authors and philosophers) that I find mildly convincing is that the upper half, though more conducive to natural health and well-being, is no more healthy, mentally speaking, than the bottom half. The people that are saying this are obviously magnitudes more insighful than I am, so the most I can respond with might be: let the first part of the curve - who, by the way, thanks the current members of the 5000+ club for the social, political, philosophical, economic, entrepreneurial and financial lessons they’ve provided - figure that out on its own.


posted : Monday, May 11th, 2009

tags : reblog

reblogged from : Nick Zarzycki

Mayor Bloomberg Is Stalking Me

The phone has been ringing off the hook lately, and it’s always the wrong number. After a telltale pause, the caller asks for “Tom Packer” or “Richard Packer” or “Hillary Packer,” none of whom exists at my house. Turns out it’s Mayor Bloomberg calling—or his campaign, or a telemarketing company hired by his campaign, whose callers refuse to identify themselves other than to say they’re calling on behalf of the mayor. more

posted : Monday, May 11th, 2009

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If you can’t beat him, join him

THE White House received a welcome piece of mail today: a letter from six leading health-care firms proposing cost savings in line with the administration’s proposals. more

posted : Monday, May 11th, 2009

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