Gists XII


Daniel Lanciana
18 min readJun 13, 2023


“When you’re Godzilla, every city is a walkable city.”

“Financial markets are full of very clever, very aggressive people, and if there’s a flaw in your reasoning they will find it.”

“All I do is eat, sleep, drink, and be negligent.” — John of Dalyatha (eighth century monk)

“I began to see life differently. Chores and routines I’d thought tedious have a sanctity on a deathbed. Everything I took for granted — the school run, the weekly shop, an unexpected soaking in a rainstorm — seemed a gift to those no longer able to experience it.”

“The arc of the moral universe, although long, is bending towards justice.” — MLK Jr.

“Be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.” — MLK Jr.

“Something middle-aged men and teenage girls have in common is the act of finding yourself.” — Phoebe Bridgers

“I would never read a book.” — Sam Bankman-Fried


  • Spots card junk slab era. Junk parallel era (57 in Prizm). Junk sticker auto era (lazy). Junk patch era (“The material is not associated with any specific player”).
  • If the world identified and nurtured talent for something other than football (i.e. soccer), the world would be a better place. Imagine a worldwide network of scouts and academies for…music, art, science!
  • Between the fourth and ninth centuries, Christians donated a third of all the land in Western Europe — more than a 100,000,000 acres — to monasteries and churches!
  • Depression. The noonday demon. A spiritual ennui (a kind of sloth).
  • Cappuccino is named after the colour of the robes of Capuchin friars. The first cappuccino was served in New York (Caffe Reggio) in 1927.
  • South African mines have produced over 40% of all the world’s gold. Johannesburg gold rush of 1886.
  • George Santos false claims: worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup; target of an assassination; starred on a College volleyball team; four of his employees were killed at the Pulse nightclub shooting; is Jewish; his grandparents survived the Holocaust; his mother died in 9/11!
  • According to The Post, Trump lied 30,573 times during his Presidency.
  • Basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) should be taught in school. A useful life skill that applies to almost everyone.
  • Social progress is imperfect, but forward-inching.
  • 1984 Brighton Grand Hotel bombing by the IRA that almost wiped out the British government. Margaret Thatcher left the bathroom of her suite two minutes before the explosion — if she was in the bathroom there’s a good chance she would have died!
  • MLK Jr. and his father were both named Michael; his father renamed both of them in honour of the German theologian. His house was bombed; punched in the face by an American Nazi Party member; charged with perjury; stabbed in the chest by a “demented” woman; attempted suicide as a teenager; hospitalised a number of times for “exhaustion” (depression); his mother was shot and killed in church by a deranged worshiper.
  • American artist Chris Burden fired a pistol at a 747 taking off from LAX; spent five days in a locker with two plastic bottles (one for drinking, one for pissing); and was shot in the arm by a friend (in the name of art).
  • Mysteries are the un-knowable, studied by theologists, and give salvation. Facts are proven by observation, collected by scientists, and find the truth. Numbers are anything that can be counted, gathered by statisticians, and drive decisions. Data is provided by computers, fed data, and offer prediction.
  • According to the Bible Africans were descendent from Canaan, grandson of Noah who had an ambiguous encounter with a drunk and naked Noah — who was then punished with a generational affliction.
  • The film Trading Places resulted in “Section 136 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Transparency and Accountability Reform and Consumer Protection Act, under Section 746” — commonly referred to as “the Eddie Murphy rule” — that prohibits the misuse of internal government information for the purpose of trading in the commodities markets.
  • Around 2% of US babies are through IVF — a $23 billion industry. The vast majority of mammals — including chimpanzees — can get pregnant for most of their lives. New techniques can create a fertilised embryos from two males, formed from the DNA of four people, or even a “unibaby” — the result of a person reproducing with herself!
  • Fast food is assembly, not cooking. Components arrive frozen or dehydrated: avocado paste made in giant vats in Mexico; ground beef arrives spiced and cooked in vaccum-sealed bags; beans are dehydrated and resemble cornflakes. In America, food habits shaped by Puritan values of food as fuel rather than an experience.
  • “The industrial food chain obscures the histories of food it produces by processing them to such an extent that they appear as pure products of culture rather than nature.”
  • Some visions of how to live well in America are inextricably linked to owning a gun. Estimated 400 million guns — with over 95% in civilian hands. The US has more guns and gun deaths per capita than any other wealthy nation; one in every three gun suicides in the world!
  • Earth has lost about a third of its forest — most in the past 300 years. As much has been lost in the past 100 years than the previous 9,000!
  • Julius Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian, trapped and murdered Caesar’s biological son, Caesarion. The Ottomans had mute executioners known as the Tongueless. Suleiman the Magnificient’s father killed 3 brothers, 7 nephews, and had many of his sons strangled. Kim Jong Un murdered his half brother.
  • The word neposism comes from the Papal practice of promoting their nephews — nipote — to positions of authority.
  • The First World War was a family feud, bringing three first cousins into conflict and ultimately destroyed the Hasburg and Ottoman dynasties.

Russian War

“Russia is isolated from much of the world, undermining its reputation, it’s economy, and its prospects.”

“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” — 1984

  • Over 250,000 dead
  • US has sent nearly $30 billion in assistance
  • Hundreds of thousands of the best and brightest have left the country
  • The top-selling book in 2022 was George Orwell’s 1984



“Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.”

  • Platforms sit between buyers and sellers — each holding the other hostage (e.g. can’t leave if all your friends use it) — raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.
  • When a platform starts it needs users, so it makes itself valuable to users (e.g. free, operating at a loss, no ads, good content, big money or views for certain users). A great deal for customers.

“But Tiktok is not in the business of giving away giant teddy bears…Tiktok is only going to funnel free attention to the people it wants to entrap until they are entrapped, then it will withdraw that attention and begin to monetize it.”

  • Once enough users are locked into the platform, it makes itself valuable to business customers (e.g. low fees, less competition, big campaigns for certain businesses). Content suffers (good-faith recommendations are eroded) as business content is promoted (e.g. ads, newsfeed) to entice more businesses. Existing markets (e.g. brick and mortar stores) die off. An ok deal for customers and a great deal for companies.

“I just handed Twitter $8 for Twitter Blue, because the company has strongly implied that it will only show the things I post to the people who asked to see them if I pay ransom money.”

  • Once both users and business are locked in and dependent, the platform makes itself valuable to shareholders (e.g. more ads, raising fees, suppressing external content, reduce interoperability, forcing businesses to pay-to-boost, undercut the business with it’s own product). A bad deal for customers, bad deal for companies, and great deal for shareholders.
  • Once that happens, the platform becomes a useless pile of shit.
  • Facebook is terminally enshittified, a terrible place to be whether you’re a user, a media company, or an advertiser. It’s a company that deliberately demolished a huge fraction of the publishers it relied on.

“Advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of consumers.” — Larry Page and Sergey Brin

  • Even with that foundational understanding of enshittification, Google has been unable to resist its siren song. Today’s Google results are an increasingly useless morass of self-preferencing links to its own products, ads for products that aren’t good enough to float to the top of the list on its own, and parasitic SEO junk piggybacking on the former.
  • It’s hard to see how Google will be able to design a non-enshittified AI search, given the strong incentives to enshittify results to the precise threshold at which users are nearly pissed off enough to leave, but not quite.
  • Enshittification exerts a nearly irresistible gravity on platform capitalism. It’s just too easy to turn the enshittification dial up to eleven.
  • Individual product managers, executives, and activist shareholders all give preference to quick returns at the cost of sustainability, and are in a race to see who can eat their seed-corn first.
  • Better alternatives don’t pop up and lure us away, and if they do, the monopolists just buy them out and integrate them (e.g. Instagram, YouTube).
  • Even the most locked-in user eventually reaches a breaking-point and walks away, or gets pushed. Enshittification kills and that’s ok. We don’t need eternal rulers of the internet. Nature finds a way.
  • Policies should no focus on saving platforms — but rather minimising the cost (e.g. interoperable transfer of data, ability to erase data, open and unrestrictive APIs) to users when platforms die.
  • Also mentioned in The Junkification of Amazon

24h Work Week

Imagine every weekend being a three day weekend and having an extra two hours on days you do work to either tend to your home or yourself.

  • I’m pretty sure a huge part of the reason that burnout is so common among the general population is that the 40 hour work week was fully designed around the idea that one person would spend those 40 hours earning money for the household, and one person would stay at home, spending that money and maintaining the household.
  • Now, everybody needs to spend those 40 hours earning money, and then spend another significant chunk of their time spending that money and maintaining the household. Leading to more work for everyone and less free time to recharge.
  • It’s good that society doesn’t expect men to work and women to stay at home, it’s just that the idea of the 40 hour work week hasn’t evolved alongside that cultural change.
  • Few employees are productive for 40 hours a week.
  • 24 is flexible as it’s divisible by a lot of different numbers: two 12-hour days, three 8s, four 6s, five 5s (technically 4.8).

NBA Inflation Era

  • NBA rules have progressively made scoring easier, but the game less appealing. Defending is less effective.
  • Moreyball” style of play that generates threes (worth 50% more points) and layups (high-percentage shots) — with midrange as a last option.
  • In 2022-23 teams are averaging 112.4 points, up from 105.8 through the same number of games in 2017–18 and up from 106.3 for all last season. On pace to be the highest scoring per game average since 1970–71.
  • Games are glorified three-point shooting contests — which are also highly volatile depending on made shots.
  • Too much ambiguity and room for interpretation in the rules. Hard to tell the difference between a charge and blocking foul. Moving screens? Contact? Freedom of movement?
  • Comedian Bill Burr on why the NBA is rigged — with refs “massaging” calls to make it a close game. Watch the first quarter; then midway from the third.

“This season’s All-Stars missed 370 of a possible 1,944 games (19%), the highest percentage in a season in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. They missed an average of 13.7 regular-season [non-Covid] games each this year.”

  • The NBA doesn’t care about the fans during the regular season. Too many games. High ticket prices. Stars absent from too many games (either by injury or game management).
  • Magic and Bird > Jordan > Kobe and Shaq > Lebron and Curry > ???. No natural successor for the face of the league. Giannis? Luka? Ja? Tatum?
  • Many of the top players in the league are not from the US: Giannis, Luka, Embiid, Jokic. Future #1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama.

Gender Gaps

  • Girls outperform boys in school. The top 10% high school students in the US are twice as likely to be female. Women earn roughly 3/5ths of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Women now constitute a third of STEM graduates.
  • Boys are twice as likely to be attention-deficit and/or suspended; dropouts are higher, too.
  • Young men are four times as likely to die from suicide.
  • Women earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by a man (up from 60 cents in 1980). One in ten Fortune 500 CEOs is a female (up 26x since 2000).
  • In 1960, 97% of men between 25 and 54 worked. Today 1 in 9 are neither working or seeking work; a third of these men claim a disability and nearly half take pain medication (e.g. opioids).
  • Idea to “redshirt” boys with an extra year of kindergarten to compensate for their slower rates of adolescent brain development may (unproven) have positive results.

American Fortunes

“In exchange for the love I didn’t receive in my life, I got money.” — Sarah Getty

It taints everything.

  • Acquire it, inherit it, destroy it. How fortunes are squandered in three generations.
  • In 1978, the top 0.1% of Americans owned approximately 7% of the nation’s wealth; today it’s 18%! 0.1% owns nearly a fifth!!
  • The average tax rate on the top 0.01% has fallen more than half to around 30%; the rate for the bottom 90% climbed slightly to 25%.
  • The current era is the golden age of tax avoidance. The Treasury Department estimated the top 1% is responsible for 28% of the nation’s unpaid taxes — more than $160 billion. Contributing factor to political turbulence and eroding America’s mythology of fairness.
  • The concept of a trust was developed by landowners called up during the Crusades — since women were restricted from owning land — for relatives to temporarily hold land. Since taxes were only due when the owner died, they allowed tax dodging.
  • In 1916, a 10% estate tax. In 1941, the top rate was 77%. In 1976, around 140,000 American households were eligible for estate tax; by 2000 there were so many exemptions that only 1,275 household had to pay. “Only morons pay the estate tax.”
  • The simplest way to avoid income taxes is to avoid income. Earn a $1 salary, get a loan against your collateral (e.g. stock) that requires no taxes, when you die no capital gains taxes are payable. If Jeff Bezos died tomorrow, $100 billion of his stock gains would go untaxed.
  • In 1983, South Dakota became the first state to abolish inheritance tax paving the way for “dynasty trusts” that can last for centuries.

“[Inherited wealth was] as certain a death to ambition as cocaine is to morality.” — William K. Vanderbilt

  • The Getty oil fortune has a “family office” (i.e. in-house financial team) called Vallejo Investments that controls and estimated $6 trillion — more than all the world’s hedge funds! Financial teams are “wealth-defence industries.” Through the Freedom of Information Act they can get a copy of the IRS playbook to determine thresholds.
  • J. Paul Getty was a millionaire by 23, retired, un-retired, bet on Saudi and Kuwait oil, and within 50 years was worth $4 billion (the first US billionaire). Five divorces, five sons (attended none of the weddings), installed a pay phone at his 72-room mansion to avoid paying long-distance phone calls. Didn’t visit a son being treated for a brain tumour. JFK personally leaked his taxes, which showed only $504 in federal tax. Lived in England but avoided taxes by claiming to reside in California (he had not visited in 25 years). He was afraid to travel by air or sea. Responded “I have fourteen other grandchildren” when his 16-year-old grandson was kidnapped in Italy; they had to cut off his right ear before Getty made payment — and even then only $2.2 million, which was the maximum tax deduction (!); the rest was given as a 4% interest loan!! After his death his family feuded in court and sold to Texaco.
  • “You can start to see the whole story of American power and suffering as a function of the simple arithmetic of compounding — of money making money, of lobbyists layering on new exemptions each decade, of the cultural amnesia that makes ideas about wealth come to seem normal, honourable, inevitable.”
  • What motivates the ultra-wealthy to gain more? Greed? Power? Nihilistic triumph (smartness)? Fear of losing it? Appetite for status?

Robert Opel

  • Streaked during the 1974 Academy Awards
  • Afterwards was hired for parties wearing only a stiff collar
  • Streaked the LA City Council. Tried for indecent exposure, where he dressed as Uncle Sam at the trial; received four months.
  • Formed the Nude Lib Party and announced his candidacy for President on the platform of “I’ve got nothing to hide!”
  • Debuted Mr. Penis — a cousin of Mr. Peanut — along with Virginia Vagina
  • Opened the Fey-Way gallery in SF, which featured little-known Robert Mapplethorpe. Exhibited Tom of Finland. Interviewed John Waters and Divine.
  • Sold speed and angel dust on the side to make things meet.
  • Harvel Milk was assassinated by colleague Dan White, who used the “Twinkie defence” (junk food affected his behaviou) and got a light sentence (7 years 8 months).
  • Shot dead in his home during an armed robbery.


“It’s hard to be objective and sell news at the same time.”

  • In 1976, 72% of the US public trusted news media. Today it’s 34%; 14% of Republicans.
  • The idea of nonpartisan, un-opinionated journalism as being good emerged during the start of the 20th century.
  • Journalism is not a profession. You don’t need a licence or academic credential.
  • TV news is not a loss leader. 60 Minutes ranked in the top 10 for 23 years in a row.
  • The Gridiron Club (1885), which lampooned the suffrage movement, performed blackface into the 1950s, club’s signature tune was “The Watermelon Song.” The National Press Club (1908), no Black member or women allowed until 1955, first woman member in 1971. The Times first Black reporter in 1966.


  • Italian doctor and educator Maria Montessori designed her famous principles (child-sized learning materials that appeal to all senses, children allowed to move freely, teachers guide without coercion or control), which encouraged children to develop autonomy from a young age. First school opened in 1907.
  • Julia Child, Gabriel García Márquez, Taylor Swift, Larry Page and Sergey Brin attended Montessori schools as young children. Gandhi was an admirer. 60,000 schools across the world.
  • Children of different ages are taught in the same classroom, there are no tests or grades to avoid competition between pupils. Each session is three hours long. The learning materials are designed for being handled and explored with all the senses.
  • Children with unstructured time, in which they are allowed to get on with their own activities without too much interference from an adult, does lead to greater independence and self-direction.
  • Children who attend Montessori schools tend to have greater creativity.
  • Many schools today bear Maria Montessori’s name while only loosely adhering to her methods. This is because the word is not trademarked. While there are official Montessori institutions in different countries providing teacher training and accreditation, this is not necessary for schools to use the term in their advertising.

AI + Therapy

  • In the 1960s, MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbraum created Eliza, which was designed to simulate Rogerian therapy (i.e. therapist repeats back to patient). Named after Eliza Doolittle, the heroine of Pygmalion. Created as satire, Weizenbraum was alarmed when people found it useful and captivating. His own secretary asked him to leave the room!
  • Weizenbraum became an outspoken critic against artificial intelligence.
  • A few years later, Stanford psychiatrist Kenneth Colby created Parry — which simulated paranoid schizophrenia. In 1972, Parry and Eliza connected for a therapy session.
  • Other programs include Jabberwacky, Dr. Sbaitso, and ALICE.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is best done in small quantities over and over again.
  • Roughly 20% of American adults have a mental illness; 5% has a serious mental illness. Since the 1990s, suicide rates have fallen around the world — except in America where they have risen by about a third.
  • American Association of Suicidology has the world’s largest collection of suicide notes.


  • Agriculture emerged around ten thousand years ago.
  • Crops need nutrients to grow but harvesting removes there nutrients, leaving the soil unfit for future harvests. Peru’s indigenous had collected guano (bird shit, from the Quechua word wanu) for centuries; it contains nitrogen and phosphorus that replenished the soil.
  • In 1856, William Henry Seward — New York senator and future orchestrator for the purchase of Alaska — proposed the Guano Islands Act deputised US citizens to claim any poop-covered island. Within three years the US staked claim to nearly fifty new islands.
  • Guano exports from Peru peaked in 1870s with the cumulative output of millions of birds over hundreds of generations exhausted. Other sources were discovered or invented (nitrogen).
  • Phorporous is critical to crop yields, but also holds DNA together. It can cause brain and liver damage. It promotes algae growth in lakes and streams — sucking the oxygen out of the water creating dead zones where almost nothing can survive.
  • Since the 1960s Green Revolution, global consumption of phorporous fertilisers has quadrupled. Morocco has around 70% of the planet’s known phorporous reserves, but it’s relatively scarce. China holds the second-largest (1/10th the size) reserves. US reserves will run out within the next thirty years.
  • A phosphorus mining operation in Bou Craa in Western Sahara has the world’s longest (61 miles) conveyor belt. It can even be seen from space!
  • “Peecycling” captures phorporous, nitrogen and potassium.


  • David Koresh was born Vernon Wayne Howell. The name was taken from another prophet from the early 1900s.
  • He failed first grade twice, was nicknamed “Mister Retardo”; dropped out of ninth grade; at 18 got his 16-year-old pregnant; crushed when she got an abortion; kicked out of home; kicked out of his church for seducing a church elder’s 15-year-old daughter.
  • Joined the Mount Carmel commune of the Branch Davidians — a small Seventh-day Adventist offshoot. Had an affair with their leader (in her 60s); abandoned her and married a 14-year-old church member; then took her 12-year-old sister as an additional wife!
  • Talked the men in the commune into celibacy, but had up to 17 children with many women.
  • The ATF applied for a search warrant based on the Mount Carmel arsenal (they sold weapons at gun shows) and the implausible claim of a meth lab. They decided on a surprise raid instead of arresting Koresh (he left the commune regularly) or announcing their approach.
  • Four ATF agents and six Davidians died in the initial shoot-out. Koresh was shot twice, but lived. The FBI brought 16 tanks.
  • The only way the Davidians could communicate was by writing messages on bedsheets (“FLAMES AWAIT”). They had a .50 caliber sniper rifle, automatic weapons, and more than a million rounds of ammunition.
  • 51 days later all was left was a pile of charred corpses. Many died from gunshots, not burns. Koresh was shot in the forehead.
  • By law, military weapons can’t be used for domestic policing — but many loopholes (e.g. drugs are concerned). Between 1987 and 1993, firearm sales nearly doubled. Between 1993 and 1995, over 800 militias and Patriot groups formed.
  • Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, drove to Waco. The bombing (168 killed, wounded 500, inspired by The Turner Diaries) was on the second anniversary of the Waco fire. The Columbine school shooting was planned for the sixth anniversary (delayed by trouble securing ammunition, planted bombs that failed to detonate). Alex Jones raised funds for the Branch Dividians, started InfoWars.


  • Movement during the Great Depression — the application of science to the social order.
  • No money, no names (numbers instead), dressed in grey suits and drove grey cars.
  • Elon Musk’s grandfather was a leader of the Technocracy movement in Canada. Elon’s child was named X Æ A-12.

Christian Nationalism

“Christian nationalism gives divine sanction to ethnocentrism and nativism.”

  • An minority movement with the ideology that America is, and should remain, a Christian nation that advocates Christian values such as prayer in school.
  • Often served white-identity movements. Firmly within mainstream American conservatism. Hostility towards socialists.
  • The 1950s was the most pious period of American history. In 1954, “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1956, “In God we trust” was adopted as the national motto.
  • In 1999, 70% of Americans belonged to a religious organisation; in 2020, 47%. Churches will keep emptying out. Christianity will become a more tribal identity. For the first time, worshipper are the minority. In 2020, Trump won 84% of the white evangelical vote.

Preaching what their compatriots practice.

  • Christian refers less to theology than to heritage — similar to Jewish as an ancestral identity, even if you don’t keep the faith. Christianity (like many religions) works best when there is a strong non-Christian force to organise against.
  • Frederick Douglas argued that America is not truly Christian enough. Would Jesus be racist? Let the poor suffer?


“It was the nineteenth-century manure problem — only with sterile spaces rather than smelly piles.”

  • Huge quantities of urban space have been devoured by parking.
  • Stored are surrounded by a moat of parking. America mostly stopped building small buildings. The American town lost its heart becoming strip malls.
  • Cars provide autonomy and privacy, but at an enormous price: congestion, wasted time, unsightly spaces, and emissions.
  • The idea of a 15-minute city (everything within 15 minute walk from home).


  • Hardened phones with no camera, disabled GPS, instant wipe feature, and dual-boot mode. They can cost $1500 and $2000 per year.
  • Blackphone launched by PGP author, Phil Zimmerman.
  • EncroChat servers infultrated by French authorities via a disguised update. Sky E.C.C. servers hit by a protocol attack that revealed the private keys. ANOM server created by American and Australian authorities to catch criminals.
  • The cocaine business is primarily a shipping business. Half of Europe’s supply comes through Rotterdam and Antwerp. It arrives with a purity of 80% and costs $50 a gram.
  • Seized cocaine is burned. Bonfires at Antwerp were so big the event was dubbed “White Christmas.”
  • A torture site disguised as a shipping container in Rotterdam — complete with dentist chair, finger clamps, scalpels, hammers, pliers, gas burners, waterboarding, and soundproofing. Raided before it was used.
  • Criminals will always be vulnerable because they cannot avoid communication and moving (themselves or goods) around.