Form and Void

"It says the existence of the glass and it’s ability to hold any amount of water are wonders enough."
The Light Wins—for now - Erik Adams, A.V. Club

A nice one sentence summary of Cohle’s final revelation after a season of soul-crushing nihilism on HBO’s True Detective.

During the 1960s and ’70s, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, followed up on Hebb’s intriguing observation with controlled experiments in the lab. The neuroscientist Mark Rosenzweig showed that, when compared with rat packs that roved in rodent McMansions filled with ladders, tunnels and toys, animals that languished in spartan, supermax-style cages had fewer connections between neurons and thinner cerebral cortexes. Marian Diamond, a colleague of Rosenzweig, showed that various types of enriched or impoverished environmental exposures could alter the dimensions and even the cellular content of the cortex at any age from newborn to elderly. Even four days of impoverished environment could have an impact on the physiology of the cortex and its ability to navigate the world.
Shruti Ravindran, Twilight in the Box

Ravindran applies this study to the lasting effects of prison’s solitary confinement, but I find it incredibly interesting as it may apply to work spaces, schools, homes and neighborhoods. I’d like to hear more about the “enriched environments” that can positively drive cellular development in the brain; certainly a case for architecture’s value and modern relevancy.

"When a state has deliberately created space for power to be exercised without accountability in the name of a higher good—that is, defeating terrorism—it’s only a matter of time before the monster turns on the state itself."

On the CIA sabotaging the congressional committee investigation on interrogation tactics.

Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light, but he left them a gift they had not conceived and he lifted darkness off the earth.

Howard Roark: In Praise of the Self
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

The First Follower

"A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it’s not about the leader anymore - it’s about them, plural. Notice he’s calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

The 2nd follower is a turning point: it’s proof the first has done well. Now it’s not a lone nut, and it’s not two nuts. Three is a crowd and a crowd is news.

A movement must be public. Make sure outsiders see more than just the leader. Everyone needs to see the followers, because new followers emulate followers - not the leader.

Now here come 2 more, then 3 more. Now we’ve got momentum. This is the tipping point! Now we’ve got a movement!

As more people jump in, it’s no longer risky. If they were on the fence before, there’s no reason not to join now. They won’t be ridiculed, they won’t stand out, and they will be part of the in-crowd, if they hurry. Over the next minute you’ll see the rest who prefer to be part of the crowd, because eventually they’d be ridiculed for not joining.

And ladies and gentlemen that is how a movement is made!”

-Derek Sivers, How to Start a Movement

This insight is as brilliant as the absurdity of it being based on a shirtless dancing man at a music festival.

"One reason colleges are able to indoctrinate students is that students enter college young and unworldly. It is very rare that adult students are convinced to abandon their values and become left-wing. Why? Because they have lived life and are much less naive. For example, someone with life experience is far more likely than a kid just out of high school to understand that the best formula for avoiding poverty is to take personal responsibility — get a job, get married and then have children — not government help.

Teenagers who spend a year before going to college working — in a restaurant, for a moving company, at an office — will mature far more than they would after a year at college. And maturity is an inoculation against leftism.”

"The left has essentially defined a good person as one who holds progressive social positions — on race, the environment, taxes, health care, etc…If your child recycles or walks five kilometers on behalf of breast cancer, that is lovely. But if your child refuses to cheat on tests or befriends an unpopular kid at school, that is character."

- Dennis Prager, If You Want a Conservative Child

Prager, an orthodox-jew turned conservative LA talk-radio host, is the type of in-your-face pundit with whom I wouldn’t typically expect to share many views. In fact our shared perspectives end with his implicit assertion that morality, responsibility and human goodness cannot prevail without being centered in religion. I resent being made to feel like a bad human by the progressive social agenda as much as by biblically motivated social conservatives. I feel that inherent integrity and moral judgement should guide people in the absence of legislation. General benevolence and equal rights are undeniably good things, but they should come from good people, not strong government - Although this may be the sort of idealism that gets libertarians in trouble. To Prager’s point, religion is at best one way to instill these values - but it is not the only way, and at worst it can be used negatively to promote inequality and unnecessary restrictions of freedom.

On education, it is worth noting that many leftists are not given the opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning - but regardless I have to agree that highly-paid, tenured academic-types do little to instill personal responsibility in students. A year or more of supporting oneself, paying income tax, getting a feel for the job market, or even traveling would do much to focus students on their way into college.

I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind—and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged