This blog is work in progress. Much like its author.

Why are you here?

That’s up to you. As of now, my posts fall into a few rough categories, which might tell you where to look for things you’re interested in:

  • Life Lessons, where I write about abstract philosophical ideas, mostly focusing on self-improvement and ethical living (e.g. Hide, Fight, or Let Them In);
  • Science!, where I write about either interesting scientific ideas, about patterns of thinking we can derive from scientific methods and apply to life, or try out different styles of communicating difficult ideas (e.g. my Guide to Drinking);
  • The Real World, where I occasionally write about some current-events-type thing, like politics or whatever (e.g. Everything Is A Spectrum);
  • I Did It For Me, where I write more personally about what’s going on in my own life and what I’m doing to be a better person (this category name is based on a poem);
  • And finally, Uncategorized, for stuff that doesn’t quite fit.

Feedback is welcome, always. Thanks for coming; hope you’ll stay and find something useful here.

In case you want to know, I can also describe the answer to another question:

Why am I here?

In terms of day-to-day goals, an analogy: There’s an old Zen parable in which the master says to his arrogant student: “You are like this cup — so full of ideas that nothing more will fit in. Come back to me with an empty cup.” I see my mind this way. Ideas bounce around in my head sometimes for weeks, and they won’t leave me alone unless I get them out one way or another. One must dump out (or better: consume, integrate) the old before pouring in anything new.

In terms of long-term goals, I’m trying to understand my own mind, and one way to do that is to talk (or write) about it. When thoughts arise, I tend to identify myself with them, and it becomes difficult to think critically. When I hear myself say something, or read my own words on a page, it provides a better vantage point from which to figure things out.

In terms of content, I get bored with object-level discussions about this or that political or social event, whatever happened yesterday that got everyone riled up. It’s important, but commenting on this is not my comparative advantage, I think.

Robert Pirsig put it best:

“What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?”

I strongly believe that most of what is interesting in life is found at least one Meta Level above the Real World. The Real World is messy, complicated, and distracting; it’s hard to get anywhere through the slog. But from a higher vantage point, things can start to make sense; not only can we understand the object level better, but also sharpen our tools for further discussion of all kinds. In this way, maybe we can all MetaLevelUp.

(I like wordplay. Get used to it.)

A couple of rules

These, I’ll use to guide what I write here:

  1. The fun happens above the object level, so I won’t spend much time on the lower level. Maybe I’ll stop by and say “hello” to the Real World once in a while. We’ll see.
  2. Analogies are powerful, and I don’t see enough good analogies based on science. The way we think about physical systems, I conjecture, can inform how we think about our minds. My day job is as a physicist, so I’ll probably lean heavily on that.
  3. This might sometimes get personal, but I won’t drag unwitting friends and family into my investigations. If I do tell a real-life story, all names will be changed and identities kept anonymous.

Essentially: I want to write about what I’m thinking about, what’s interesting to me, and maybe a little bit that is specifically about science that I understand very well. If that sounds good, then welcome.