Gists XI


Daniel Lanciana
16 min readJan 29, 2023


  • Studies show 3rd grade competencies have a pivotal influence on life outcomes
  • Depressed people are fixated on the past, while anxious people are consumed by the future.
  • A sabine is a unit of sound absorption named after the physics professor, Wallace Sabine who studied acustics
  • The US working and middle classes have been left behind; hollowed out. The growing anger has led to right-wing populism and xenophobia. The US is making the most wealth in human history; they can afford to change.
  • saudade — an inexpressible state of longing for something that is gone.
  • Two seconds is a geological time in Formula 1. Valleys form.
  • Never excuse immoral behavior, but be aware of the risks of judging the ideas of the past by the standards of the 21st century. The moral standards of 2022 are already different from those of 2019.
  • Unit of measurement: scaramuccis (1 = 10 days, number of days Anthony Scaramucci lasted in the White House before being fired)
  • The Prix Goncourt is France’s biggest literary honour. The winner gets 10 euros!
  • Jack Welch, former GE CEO, has likely fired the most people (over 100,000) of any corporate executive — firing the bottom performing 10% and selling any business not first or second in its category. GE exploited a regulatory loophole that allowed it to lend money to clients as if they were a bank — without bank regulations — which it did with GE Capital; collapsing during the GFC (turns out that non-banks are every bit as risky as real banks).
  • Historically, an apology is a justification — a defence — not a confession. The word in English didn’t suggest regret until 16th century Shakespeare. The apology phenomenon of the 1990s.
  • In 1665, rain diverted a Dutch invasion fleet of Massachusetts. The legislature appointed November 8th for “solemn thanksgiving”
  • Artist Meret Oppenheim died at the age of 72 — just as she’d foreseen in a dream at age 36
  • President Hoover was probably gay (no evidence). Never married and without a serious romantic relationship with a woman. Did not live with Clyde Tolson, but they took a car to work together every morning; lunched every day; went to clubs and shows; and vacationed together. Even so, Hoover played his part in the “lavender scare” of the 1950s that targeted homosexuals in government. He also resisted protecting Civil Rights demonstrators and refused to inform MLK of credible death threats.
  • “gm” (good morning) is a web3 expression (e.g. replying to a post) of content-free positivity
  • netizen. citizen of the internet.
  • Paris has committed to banning most cars from the city centre by 2024 — “the squandering of scarce, public space to store private property (cars)”
  • Franz Kafka. Most of his work was published posthumously — against his dying wish to have his drafts destroyed. He finished none of the three novels he started; The Castle leaves abruptly finishes mid-sentence. Follower of Lebensreform — a health fad that promoted vegetarianism, airflow through open windows, and chewing food until liquified.
  • On Black Friday 2022, 166 million Americans spent a record-breaking $9 billion online!
  • The term “woke” dates back nearly a century and was initially used in Black communities to describe raising of consciousness; since becoming a catch-all for social justice awareness.


“I often paint fakes.” — Picasso

“Enthusiasm is the engine that drives the universe.” — Marius Kociejowski

“Birth and death are extraordinary experiences. Life is a fleeting pleasure.” — Gaspar Noé (Climax)

“Sports have a monopoly on team-building through ritualized suffering”

“Children are bringers of change and agents of chaos.”

“The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” — William Gibson

“Only the jester can speak truth to the King.”

Cancel Culture

  • It’s helpful to avoid moral pronouncements on the past — instead viewing them as artifacts of history. Unfair to hold people from the past up to modern standards.
  • In the future climate deniers, obfuscators and pacifists will be canceled — just like those affiliated with slavery. People living in a ruined world will not look back favourably.

To Boldly Go

“Routine is more dangerous than adventure.” “An adventure is a crisis you accept.” — Bertrand Picard

  • In 1931, Auguste Picard and a co-pilot were the first to fly to the stratosphere and see the curvature of the Earth. The pressurized capsule lifted by the balloon paved the way for commercial air travel. They lost control of the balloon and were unable to land — instead drifting until nightfall when the balloon slammed down in the snow; they hiked in through the Alps until running into a search party! Tintin’s Professor Calculus is modelled after him. His twin brother inspired NASA spaceship design.
  • In 1960, Auguste’s son Jacques, went to the deepest point on Earth. While waiting to be deployed a telegram was sent to the project director to cancel the dive, but was ignored. Jacques asserted he saw a flatfish on the bottom (past the theoretical limit for fish to exist without their cells imploding), which contributed to a worldwide ban on dumping radioactive waste in trenches.
  • In 1999, Jacques’ son Bertrand, completed the first successful non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the globe. In 2016, the first circumnavigation of the globe with the solar-powered aircraft.
  • Star Trek’s Captain Picard is a tribute to the family.

You Can’t Have It All

  • From 20th century philosopher, Isiah Berlin
  • In any weighty societal matter, worthwhile values inevitably clash: liberty and equality, justice and mercy, impartiality and love. Such collisions are “an intrinsic, irremovable element in human life, [and] must inevitably involve the sacrifice of others.”
  • The aim should be to “maintain a precarious equilibrium that will prevent the occurrence of desperate situations, of intolerable choices — that is the first requirement for a decent society.”

Rudy Giuliani

  • The mayor during New York’s rebound (near bankrupt in 1975; almost 2,000 murders annually; dangerous and seedy public spaces; 155,000 people jumping subway turnstiles each day!). Implemented the “broken windows” policy that dropped the crime rate and cleaned up public spaces. Implemented “stop-and-frisk” policy that — in just over a year — frisked 175,000 people; half of them black.
  • His handling of 9/11 was exemplary — stepping into the leadership vacuum and keeping his nerve (he was on the scene after the first tower and had to run for his life when the second collapsed). Oprah Winfrey called him America’s mayor. Named Person of the Year by Time. Honorary knighthood by the Queen.
  • In response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, constructed a high-tech emergency response bunker — on the 23rd floor of the WTC, which was obviously useless during 9/11. Issues discovered during the bombing (radios not working, no syncronization between police and fire crews) were not fixed during the eight years between attacks.

“His descent was the result of a series of moral compromises dame over the years as the temptations of power and money grew.”

  • The dripping hair dye, parking-lot press conference next to a sex store (one witness turned out to be a convicted sex offender), on-air screaming matches, getting punked by Sascha Baren Cohen, hosted a Russian agent, and sang Bad to the Bone in a rooster costume on The Masked Singer! “At the end of the day, Rudy Giuliani is a lawyer whose counsel has led to his clients being impeached twice.”
  • He appointed a police commissioner who never finished high school — who was later indicted on 16 counts of corruption and served three years in prison; worked for the government of Qatar, who gave haven to the principal architect of 9/11; used government budget (some from disability agencies) to cover travel expenses to the Hamptons to cheat on his then second wife; gave a 30 minute interview for Russian state television the night of the 2020 election; and called for “trial by combat” on January 6th.
  • Had his first marriage annulled on the grounds they were second cousins . Cheated on his second wife with his third wife, then announced the separation at a press conference without telling her first (she kicked him out of Gracie Mansion)! The third wife was apparently loathed by everyone for being “deeply manipulative and obsessed with status and money” and his children didn’t speak to him for years.
  • In 2020 had his law license suspended, is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems (for claims it was invented for Hugo Chavez to steal elections), and he may well be indicted for the Capitol riots.
  • In 2007 he was worth an estimated $30 million. Trump has reportedly brought him to the brink of bankruptcy by not paying him.


  • “Secrecy keeps mistakes secret.”
  • The US has 18 secret agencies! 4 million people have security clearances.
  • In 1947, Harry Truman signed the National Security Act that established the CIA and Department of Defense. In 1952, the NSA was established in response to a series of cryptography failures.
  • Around 1973, senior CIA officials produced a report of things the agency had done that might be unlawful — known in-house as “The Family Jewels” — it was almost 700 pages long!


“I don’t give a fuck, ‘case Twitter’s not a real place.” — Dave Chappelle

  • Some very angry people very loudly demanding apologies, while other people demand the denunciation of those demanding apologies
  • The split is becoming partisan. The fracture widens.

“New” Foods

  • Tomatoes. Native to South America (Aztec “tomatl”) and brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s. The earliest recipe for tomato sauce was published in 1694 by a Neapolitan chef. Perceived as a bad food (cold fruit, cultivated close to the dirt) it wasn’t widely adopted until the 19th century.
  • Ramen. Nankinsoba is considered to be the oldest iteration of the modern day ramen, and it was first documented in 1859. A Toyko noodle shop called Rai Rai Ken popularized the dish in 1910.



“The clock does not measure time; it produces it.”

  • Time is change, as Aristotle thought — what is changeless is timeless.
  • The clock has become time itself.
  • Daylight savings is an arbitrary thing. So is the seven-day week. There is no master clock anywhere “it’s calculated. There is no clock on Earth that gives the correct time.”
  • The Earth is not a perfect sphere. It does not rotate in exactly 24 hours each day or orbit the sun in exactly 365 days each year.
  • Clocks began in the monasteries of Northern and Central Europe, where pious monks built crude iron objects that automatically struck intervals to help bellringers keep track of canonical hours of prayer.
  • By 1656, the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented the first pendulum clock, which delivered homogenous and regular slices of a small unit of time: seconds. Shortly after the British astronomer John Flamsteed and others developed “mean time” — an average calculation of the Earth’s rotation — producing a quantifiable and consistent unit that became known as Greenwich Mean Time.
  • Every city, town and village in Britain used to set its clocks to its own local solar time (i.e. noon was when the sun was highest, no matter what the time in London was). Railways brought standardized timetables and by 1855, nearly all public clocks were set to GMT, or “London time,” and the country became one time zone. Bristol was one of the last to agree to standardised time — the main town clock on the Corn Exchange still has a third hand to denote “Bristol time.”
  • The 1884 International Meridian Conference is often framed as the moment clock time took over the world. The globe was sliced into 24 time zones declaring different clock times, all synchronized to the time of the most powerful empire, the British and their GMT.
  • Colonialisism and Enlightenment values and ideals were about man’s transcendence and domination over nature.
  • In the 1950s atomic clocks were judged to be better timekeepers than the Earth itself. The second, as a unit of time, was redefined not as a fraction of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, but as a specific number of oscillations of cesium atoms inside an atomic clock.
  • Over 400 atomic clocks in laboratories around the world count time using the atomic second as their standard. A weighted average of these times is used to create International Atomic Time, which forms the basis of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
  • The division of time into identical units established a useful infrastructure allowed Capitalism to control time as a commodity that can be spent or wasted; to coordinate the exploitation and conversion of bodies, labor and goods into value. Time is money.
  • Time is required for scheduling.
  • The novel Einstein’s Dreams explores different interpretations of time: a reality where events are triggered by other events, not by time (trains leave the station when the cars are filled with passengers); another reality time is measured by “the rhythms of drowsiness and sleep, the recurrence of hunger, the menstrual cycles of women, the duration of loneliness.”
  • Certain religions maintain a connection to time that is rooted in nature, like salat in Islam and zmanim in Judaism, in which prayer times are defined by natural phenomena like dawn, dusk and the positioning of stars. In Xinjiang, nearly 2,000 miles west of Beijing, where the sun sometimes sets at midnight according to BST, many Uighur communities use their own form of local solar time. And Indigenous communities around the world still use ecological calendars.

Climate Change


  • In the past thirty years, humans have added as much CO2 to the atmosphere as they did in the previous thirty thousand. Arctic ice cap has shrunk by two-fifths. Greenland has shed some four trillion metric tons of ice, and mountain glaciers have lost six trillion tons. Heat waves are now hotter, droughts deeper, and storms more intense.
  • In the first quarter of 2022, twenty-five of the world’s largest oil-and-gas producers announced profits of close to a hundred billion dollars. Last year, the oil-and-gas industry reportedly spent a hundred and twenty million dollars lobbying Washington.
  • The 2005 British government Stern Review reported climate change “is the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen.”
  • Climate change can’t be dealt with using the tools of capitalism, because it is a product of capitalism.
  • In 2021, some thirty billion tons of concrete were produced worldwide, almost four tons for every single person on the planet. The associated carbon emissions accounted for roughly eight per cent of the global total — more than aviation and shipping combined.

“The history of climate change is one of compounding injustices.”

  • The figure comes to about eighty thousand kilowatt hours. Toss in the energy used to manufacture the goods imported into the U.S., and the number rises to almost a hundred thousand kilowatt hours. To put this in terms of power, Americans are consuming roughly eleven thousand watts every moment of every day. A string of incandescent Christmas lights uses about forty watts. It’s as if each of us had two hundred and seventy-five of these strings draped around our homes, burning 24/7.
  • The annual emissions in the U.S. run to sixteen metric tons of CO2 per person. An American household of four is responsible for the same emissions as sixteen Argentineans, six hundred Ugandans, or a Somali village of sixteen hundred. It represents yet another way the Global North has exploited the Global South; call it atmospheric imperialism.
  • The U.S., with less than a twentieth of the globe’s population, accounts for a quarter of aggregate emissions. Europe, with about six per cent of the world’s population, is responsible for another fifth.
  • The North grew wealthy by burning fossil fuels. It could use that wealth to help other nations leapfrog to renewables. One of climate change’s many compounding injustices is that the highest costs will be borne by those who have contributed the least to the problem.
  • China is currently the world’s biggest emitter on an annual basis. It has said that it will reach net zero by 2060. In the early months of 2022, Beijing approved five enormous new coal-fired generating plants.
  • India, which is now the world’s third-biggest emitter — one rung behind the U.S. — has declared that it will reach net zero by 2070. Meanwhile, its emissions are rising fast.
  • Russia is the world’s fourth-largest emitter. It is aiming, on paper at least, to reach net zero by 2060. But it has taken almost no action to rein in its emissions.
  • The European Union’s pledge to hit net-zero emissions by 2050 is written into E.U. law. But, after Russia cut gas deliveries to the bloc, several countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, announced plans to fire up old coal plants or extend the lives of plants that had been slated to close. “The war in Ukraine is putting climate action on the back burner.”
  • The hundred billion dollars a year promised in Copenhagen to developing nations have yet to materialize.
  • Some parts of the world, particularly in South Asia and around the Persian Gulf, are already experiencing temperatures close to the human “survivability limit.” This past summer, heat record after heat record fell. In Portugal, temperatures topped 117 degrees; California 116 degrees; China 111; Texas 110; and London 104.
  • Problems arise when people become dehydrated, or their hearts get overtaxed, or it’s just so sweltering that they can’t dissipate enough heat. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to heat stress because they sweat less than young people, and their hearts don’t pump as efficiently. (Humidity impedes the evaporation of sweat, which is why extreme humid heat is so dangerous.) One consequence of prolonged heat exposure can be a kind of blood poisoning.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tracks weather-related disasters in the U.S. that cause more than a billion dollars’ worth of damage. In the nineteen-eighties the U.S. saw an average of three such disasters per year. In the nineteen-nineties, the average was five per year; in the two-thousands, it was six; and in the twenty-tens it jumped to twelve. In 2020, a record-shattering twenty-two disasters costing more than a billion dollars struck the country.
  • Some places — large swaths of Miami, for instance — may prove impossible to defend, meaning that real estate now valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars will have to be written off.
  • If we were to burn through all known fossil-fuel reserves, global temperatures could rise by as much as eleven degrees Celsius, or twenty degrees Fahrenheit!


  • US counter-intelligence program that had MLK wiretapped and extorted (sending him a tape of his affair), spreading false rumours (actress pregnant by a member of the Black Panthers), collaborating with Chicago police on a raid that killed the Black Panthers leader in his bed
  • Secretly authorised by Nixon and codenamed the Plumbers


  • Received only two years of formal education before apprenticing to his opium-chewing brother-in law. Assistant surgeon on a Royal Navy ship, whose voyage to Australia and New Guinea lasted four years!
  • With Darwin in bad health, Thomas Huxley was evolution’s champion; “Darwin’s Bulldog.” Darwinism was dangerous — it threatened to destabilise Christianity — by for Thomas evolution meant religion’s reconstruction.
  • Legendary face-off with the Bishop of Oxford over evolution. When asked “whether he would prefer a monkey for a grandfather” he replied “If then the question is put to me whether I would rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet employs these faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.”
  • Coined the term “agnostic” in 1869
  • Refused racist pseudoscience, but “for the sake of the white man,” and was a eugenicist who agreed with population sterilisation
  • At the turn of the 1900s, natural selection was close to being abandoned due to some mistakes by Darwin — such as inheritance being a blend of traits (rather than discrete units)
  • His grandson, Julian, co-authored The Science of Life with H.G. Wells (and his son) along with around 40 other books; won an Academy Award; ran the London Zoo; helped found the World Wildlife Fund; UNESCO’s first director-general; and popularised the term “transhumanism”

We are the children of a cosmic process that produces ever-greater intelligence and complexity. There can be no more important common aim than to take control of that process — to overcome our individual and tribal identities and achieve the more advanced mode of collective existence. (Transhumanism)

  • Another grandson, Aldous, wrote Brave New World.
  • Julian saw industrial progress and scientific discovery as progress; for Aldous they foreshadowed tyranny. Julian pushed for transhumanism; Aldous for the pursuit of enlightened consciousness through secular mysticism.


  • Sales of NFTs in the first half of 2021 reached $2.5 billion
  • The most popular category was the ProFile Pic (PFP), a generated digital portrait used as a social media avatar. The most famous being Bored Ape Yacht Club, which earned $7 million in the first week, and CryptoPunk.
  • An artwork from Beeple sold for $69 million
  • World of Women (WoW) sold out at $1.5 million. Purchasers include Reeve Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Gwyneth Paltrow. Chrities auctioned one of for $750,000. Followed-up by WoW Galaxy and even a Monopoly set!
  • Andreesen Horowiz led a $50 million round of funding for Gary Vee’s Vee-Friends — hand-drawn pictures with titles such as “Logical Lion” and “Gratitude Gorilla
  • From January to November 2021, NFT trading volume had fallen over 90%


  • Drove out from California and were living in a run-down practice space in Jamaica, Queens — with no heat, hot water, showers, or beds! They did share the recording space with Anthrax and recorded Kill ’Em All there.
  • A show at Felt Forum at MSG, the crowd ripped off every cushion and the instead of getting paid the band had to pay damages
  • While touring in Europe, the bus skidded off the road and the bassist, Cliff Burton (age 24), was tossed out the window and crushed by the bus! The other band members stood with the bus until dawn when help came.
  • At a show in Montreal, Hetfield suffered third-degree burns on his hand and arm after stepping into a pyrotechnic flame. The next band, Guns N’ Roses went on late and left the stage early. Riots broke out.
  • Lars Ulrich filed a lawsuit against Napster in 2000 — the most high-profile band to do so

Qatar World Cup

Born in corruption, paid for with hydrocarbons.

  • Fifteen of the twenty-one FIFA voters were later indicted by American or Swiss prosecutors, banned, charged, or expelled.
  • It cost over $200 billion dollars in “sportswashing” — using sports to launder (or gain) a reputation
  • Before oil, Qatar had pearls. Many of the divers were African slaves; and slavery was only abolished in 1952.
  • Qataris have free electricity, free healthcare, free education, free land, eternal job security, and interest-free loans.
  • Qatar struggles between the duality between playing global but staying local.


  • 67% of all American teens use the app, with the average user spending 95 minutes (almost twice as much as Instagram)
  • On track to earn $10 billion in revenue in 2022 — mostly by selling ads against (essentially) free programming from user-generated content.
  • Michael Pelchat made Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road go viral. Lil Nas X said “Thank youu man, for chaning my life, here’s $500.”
  • As many as 100,000 new tracks are released every day

Quantum Computing

What Einstein considered a grotesque affront to human intuition was merely the way the universe works.

  • Y2Q — using quantum computers to decrypt current-day encrypted data. Spy agencies are warehousing encrypted internet traffic for future (a decade or two) decrypting.
  • Quantum physics disturbed Einstein, who spent his later years fighting it. In the early 1960s, John Stewart Bell — working alone — reformulated Einstein’s thought experiment. In 1967, John Clauster — against the advice of his professors — tried to vindicate Einstein by proving quantum mechanics was incomplete by, with almost no budget, created the first entangled pair of protons; to his disappointment it proved Einstein wrong.
  • Entangled particles function as one system existing in two parts of the universe at once; called nonlocality.
  • Infeasible to communicate faster than the speed of light, which would allow sending message backward through time. A time machine.
  • Researchers created a new phase of matter called a “time crystal.” Just as a crystal’s structure repeats in space, a time crystal repeats in time and, importantly, does so infinitely and without any further input of energy — like a clock that runs forever without any batteries.