Gists XIV


Daniel Lanciana
18 min readMay 8, 2024


  • “Addicted to options.” “That’s the mercy of getting older. You don’t have the energy to seek out every story.” “Good friendship is so pleasurable because you feel witnessed.” — Josh Randor
  • “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” — Mary Oliver
  • “‘Not long ago, an exasperated colleague in my TV writers’ room asked why on earth I was still watching Doctor Who if I was going to come into the office every single week complaining about how disappointing the episode was. I stared at him for a moment, and then I explained. I do not watch Doctor Who because it is the greatest television show ever made. I watch it because it’s my show, the way you support a team because they are your team, and so, by extension, are the rest of the fans. I can despair of the tactics and argue with the line-up but at the end of the day, I also wear the scarf. And the novelty t-shirt’s a way of signalling in public that you love something enough to look stupid for it.” — Laurie Penny (on nerd fandom)
  • “Take your pleasure seriously” — Ray and Charles Eames
  • “Don’t wish for someone dead. Wish for them to be unhappy.”
  • “Rules of the jungle, baby. It’s not stealing if I want it more.”
  • “The incredible, in other words, had invaded the realm of the possible.”
  • “The suffering is necessary.”
  • “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
  • On Jerry Lee Lewis: “Like amphetamines grew hands and pounded on the piano” “It’s not an album, it’s a crime scene.”
  • “Penalties are exquisite torture.”
  • “Ageing is a privilege denied to many.”
  • “Money comes and goes and comes. Life just goes.”


  • Non-religious: A very observant non-believer.
  • Floaty: flat white oat milk.
  • When times are bad, buy. When times are good, incrementally sell.
  • Money is trust. A shared belief.
  • Distraction-based digital feeds are morphing into digital casinos that run on dopamine-producing engagement loops.
  • You have the right to say stupid things in private (e.g. an inappropriate joke). In public it matters.
  • Combat inflation by temporarily raising super — money for retirement rather than giving it to the banks.
  • Celebrity items are comparable to saint’s relics — a magical, fetish object.

“The daughter took the bullet for Michael Corleone — my daughter took the bullet for me.” — Francis Ford Coppola

  • Sofia Coppola is the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola (who earned much of his fortune through wine and hotels); dated filmmaker Quentin Tarantino; her first cousins are Jason Schwartzman and Nicholas Cage; made her screen debut as a baby in The Godfather: Part II; won two Razzie awards for The Godfather: Part III; was married to director Spike Jonze; won an Oscar for Lost in Translation, which made over $100 million on a $4 million budget.

Random Thoughts

  • Australia: where the future takes so long to arrive.
  • Random life advice. #1 never use the first bathroom. #2 museum girls are the most attractive.
  • Choose your own instantly in an insane/chaotic world. Birds aren’t real.
  • Walk like a New Yorker. Ride like a Dutchman.
  • Looks are a depreciating asset.
  • In the club, people are interfaces — implementations come later.
  • Procrastibate.

Invader (Artist)

  • Invader is an anonymous French street artist. He is known for his ceramic tile mosaics modeled on the pixelated art of 1970s–1980s 8-bit video games, many of which depict the titular aliens from the arcade games Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Super Mario Bros. (the inspirations for his pseudonym). As of December 2020, his creations can be seen in highly-visible locations in 79 cities in 20 countries. His citywide installations are called “Invasions.”
  • Three-dimensional Rubikcubist versions of old master paintings and celebrities (Mbappe, Pele).
  • Snuck ten pieces into a museum (to be the only living artist on display). Planted an invader on the Hollywood sign! Planted a sticker on French President, Jacques Chirac!! Launched two pieces into space — one via a home-made balloon (with accompanying footage), another with the help of an astronaut.
  • The highest invader is 4,300m above sea level in Bolivia; the lowers is 26-feet underwater in Cancun.
  • FlashInvaders AR app preceded Pokemon Go by two years; fanatical following.
  • In 1999, co-founded a collective called @nonymous.
  • In 1999, an invasion of Montpellier that required zooming out to connect the placements to make a giant alien. In 2012, put a mosaic on the Miami apartment where the Scarface chainsaw scene took place.
  • In 2011, Ubisoft Paris started an informal city-wide Post-it War.
  • In 2000, began selling “aliases” — unique copies of his street mosaics.


  • Junk slab era.
  • Card breaking is gambling. Speculation is gambling (Zion prices?). High-end boxes are gambling.
  • Problems: Overproduction. Too many lazy parallel colours. On-card autos. Patches that aren’t game worn. Redemptions. Non-deterministic grading (i.e. human inconsistencies). Proliferation of scammers (like crypto).
  • Winners? Card manufacturers. Breakers. Grading companies. Big influencers.
  • Opportunities? Arbitrage opportunity between grading companies prices (crack and resubmit). AI-driven grading.


  • NBA issues: Offensive players initiating contact. Too many regular season games. Scoring title average, not total points. Play-in devalues regular season. Conferences aren’t equal. Refs have too much influence (50/50 block or charge). Too many 3s (repetitive, volatile, big swings). Player empowerment era (forcing trades). Flopping. Soft fouls. Video replays. Resting stars. More injuries from more movement. Trading away future picks (complex, protected). Player roulette (trades). Muted celebrations.
  • MVP should be voted for by the referees after each game (Brownlow medal style).
  • The regular season doesn’t matter. Only watch the first and mid-third quarter onwards.
  • The litigation of the league. Too many replays and too many stoppages for decisions that mostly don’t matter.


  • As industries get smarter, they become worse.
  • Baseball Moneyball . NBA Moreyball (3 pointers). Marvel movies.
  • The commodification and hollowfication of everything.


  • You are meaningless to the universe. But you are meaningful to those around you. Just be nice and reduce suffering.
  • Getting fame/rich is the best feeling in the world; being famous/rich is ok; losing it is misery.
  • People aren’t wired for happiness, they are wired for status. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • Keep expectations low, but still have enough drive to push forward. Not many people can do this, expectations grow with each generation. Social media exacerbates the cycle.
  • Social media is junk food. Little nutritional value — especially when passively consuming. Reduces social fitness skills required during life.

Life Expectancy

  • Top health tips that make the most difference. Simple but not easy.
  • No smoking
  • 30+ minutes of moderate daily exercise. Regular movement.
  • Avoid processed foods, lower body weight.
  • Moderate drinking to under 5 drinks per week. Provides some positives in a social setting.
  • Sense of belonging and community. Loneliness on par with smoking and obesity for reducing life expectancy!

The Lucky Country

  • Australia’s property market is considered to be among the most expensive in the world — with Sydney and Melbourne regularly featuring among the list of least affordable housing markets.
  • One measure of affordability is the household debt-to-income ratio. Australia’s housing sector is burdened by some of the highest debt levels in the world, with a household debt-to-income ratio of 211% — more than double the US (101%), the UK (148%), and Japan (115%).
  • Countries like Japan who have had low inflation and affordable housing for many decades, with far higher population density.
  • Everyone’s cash goes into an overvalued property market rather than anything actually productive. The entire system is built on piling cash into a non productive asset base that people need to live in. Hoard the fresh water for investment and then wonder why life sucks for everybody and nothing gets produced.


  • Our infinitely elastic money supply needs constant expansion of credit in order to keep the system afloat.
  • The issues faced today are a direct consequence of Nixon’s default on the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944 to contain the expansion of credit in US dollars — the global reserve currency.
  • That decision to “temporarily” suspend the convertibility of dollars into gold resulted in hellish inflation in the West followed by the deal with Saudi Arabia to force the purchase of energy in dollars and therefore require all countries to buy US Treasury bonds.
  • Ever since then the inflation of the money supply has been on a path to disaster. There are only so many measures an economy can conjure up to continue credit expansion without extreme consequences; either hideous inflation or a total collapse in asset prices.
  • We have passed the point of no return long ago. Quantitative Easing was it — we chose money supply inflation which has set the stage for the destruction of the Western banking system because a decade and a half of helicopter money in America, and our own RBA’s QE free mortgage frenzy has distorted prices and the marked-to-market value of banks’ bond portfolios.

American Exceptionalism

  • The reason Boomers were able to buy land and build a house for $200k (in today’s dollars) was because the USA came into possession of half of the wealth of the entire world after WWII. Mix that with an economy that had been supercharged by wartime industrial production and socialist-ish measures implemented with the New Deal — and the fact that we were the only country that wasn’t blown to pieces in the war — and you’ve got the most prosperous time and place in human history.
  • It’s not something you can easily replicate, and it doesn’t help that the ruling class has been hollowing out middle America for short-term profits over the last 40 years.
  • People are labouring in debt-slavery, can’t afford houses, and see prices at the grocery store that are much higher than they were even quite recently.
  • The dissatisfaction is with America itself. People blame the President because he’s there, but what you’re seeing in these poll numbers are that people no longer believe the country offers them anything.
  • Debt creates interest payments and that means income to the class of people who don’t work. People need houses, cars, tuition and other things they can’t afford, so they finance them and pay much more than they cost.
  • It’s a beautiful scam, this capitalist thing. Making money on your money because others don’t have money.
  • Millions and millions of people are working paycheck to paycheck just to finance their debts, and most of them will tell you that capitalism means freedom.
  • The top 1% owns 35% of the total US wealth! Top 5%, 62%. The top 20% own 80%.
  • Low income leads to high stress and unhealthy habits. When you are poor and stressed out, you tend to reach for short-term happiness (junk food, alcohol, gambling). Comfort today at the expense of tomorrow.
  • Hope for the future allows you the luxury of living for tomorrow.


  • Even more uncomfortable for companies like Meta and Google, OpenAI owns ChatGPT completely. They are the first company to close the loop.
  • OpenAI solved the cursed math equation driving all of modern business on the internet: How do you launch a digital marketplace in which you sell nothing, own everything, and charge people to use it?
  • And the more you start thinking about AI this way — as replacement not for information, but for all the other users you communicate with online — the more you start to get a glimpse of how topsy-turvy things are going to get the further into this consumer AI arms race we go.


  • Plastic consumption has quadrupled over the past 30 years. Global plastics production doubled from 2000 to 2019 to reach 460 million tonnes — accounting for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Global plastic waste generation more than doubled from 2000 to 2019 to 353 million tonnes. Nearly two-thirds of plastic waste comes from plastics with lifetimes of under five years, with 40% coming from packaging, 12% from consumer goods and 11% from clothing and textiles.
  • Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled (15% is collected for recycling but 40% of that is disposed of as residues). Another 19% is incinerated, 50% ends up in landfill and 22% evades waste management systems and goes into uncontrolled dumpsites, is burned in open pits or ends up in terrestrial or aquatic environments, especially in poorer countries.
  • In 2019, 6.1 million tonnes (Mt) of plastic waste leaked into aquatic environments and 1.7 Mt flowed into oceans. There is now an estimated 30 Mt of plastic waste in seas and oceans, and a further 109 Mt has accumulated in rivers. The build-up of plastics in rivers implies that leakage into the ocean will continue for decades to come, even if mismanaged plastic waste could be significantly reduced.
  • While recycling metal, glass and paper are effective, recycled plastic is almost impossible. In the US, 5% of recycled plastic it is actually repurposed — the rest is put into landfill.

World Happiness Report


  • For the first time since the report was launched in 2012, the US no longer ranks in the top 20 happiest countries — falling from 15th place to 23rd.
  • All age groups reported a decline in happiness, but there was a stark difference between older Americans and young adults. Americans ages 60 and up ranked 10th globally for happiness, while under-30s in the US ranked 62nd.
  • Negative emotions were also more frequent among women of all ages.
  • Why? “There’s no single answer. Many point to polarization, social media use, and economic inequality between generations as potential factors. Then, there’s the fact that many young adults are dealing with loneliness and anxiety. That could be attributed in part to the covid pandemic, which affected people’s education, careers, and ability to build community.”

Phone-Based Childhood


  • Rates of depression and anxiety in the United States — fairly stable in the 2000s — rose by more than 50 percent in many studies from 2010 to 2019. The suicide rate rose 48 percent for adolescents ages 10 to 19. For girls ages 10 to 14, it rose 131 percent. Similar patterns emerged in Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Nordic countries.
  • By a variety of measures and in a variety of countries, the members of Generation Z (born in and after 1996) are suffering from anxiety, depression, self-harm, and related disorders at levels higher than any other generation for which we have data.
  • As the oldest members of Gen Z reach their late 20s, their troubles are carrying over into adulthood. Young adults are dating less, having less sex, and showing less interest in ever having children than prior generations. They are more likely to live with their parents. They were less likely to get jobs as teens, and managers say they are harder to work with. Many of these trends began with earlier generations, but most of them accelerated with Gen Z.
  • What happened in the early 2010s that altered adolescent development and worsened mental health? Smartphones and social media — which alters or interferes with a great number of developmental processes.
  • Depriving children and adolescents of freedom, unsupervised play, responsibility, and opportunities for risk taking — all of which promote competence, maturity, and mental health.
  • A virtual world that seemed safe to parents but in fact is more dangerous, in many respects, than the physical world.
  • Human childhood is an extended cultural apprenticeship with different tasks at different ages all the way through puberty. For children of all ages, one of the most powerful drivers of learning is the strong motivation to play. Play is the work of childhood. All young mammals wire up their brains by playing.
  • One crucial aspect of play is physical risk taking. Children and adolescents must take risks and fail — often — in environments in which failure is not very costly. This is how they extend their abilities, overcome their fears, learn to estimate risk, and learn to cooperate in order to take on larger challenges later. The ever-present possibility of getting hurt while running around, exploring, play-fighting, or getting into a real conflict with another group adds an element of thrill, and thrilling play appears to be the most effective kind for overcoming childhood anxieties and building social, emotional, and physical competence. The desire for risk and thrill increases in the teen years, when failure might carry more serious consequences. Children of all ages need to choose the risk they are ready for at a given moment. Young people who are deprived of opportunities for risk taking and independent exploration will, on average, develop into more anxious and risk-averse adults.
  • Human childhood and adolescence evolved outdoors and largely unsupervised by adults, allowing children to make their own choices, resolve their own conflicts, and take care of one another.
  • With the rise of round-the-clock cable TV parents in the US grew fearful that their children would be harmed or abducted if left unsupervised (such crimes have always been extremely rare) . Exacerbated by a decline in trust in neighbours and institutions; and tiger parenting due to rising college competition. Overprotection.
  • Millennial teens (born 1981 through 1995), who were the first to go through puberty with access to the internet, were psychologically healthier and happier, on average, than their older siblings or parents in Generation X (born 1965 through 1980).
  • In 2011, only 23 percent of teens had a smartphone. By 2015, that number had risen to 73 percent, and a quarter of teens said they were online “almost constantly.”
  • If computers and the internet were the vanguards of progress, and if young people — widely referred to as “digital natives” — were going to live their lives entwined with these technologies, then why not give them a head start? Touchscreen devices were also a godsend for parents to keep kids occupied.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of … life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” — Henry David Thoreau

  • On average, American teens spend between seven and nine hours a day on screen-based activities. Five of those hours are on social media. How much of life is exchanged for all this screen time? Arguably, most of it.
  • The 2010s saw declines in sleep, exercise, and book reading. With passive entertainment always available, adolescent minds likely wander less than they used to.
  • Time with friends began decreasing for young people in the 2000s, but the drop accelerated in the 2010s, while it barely changed for older people. By 2019, young people’s time with friends had dropped to just 67 minutes a day. It turns out that Gen Z had been socially distancing for years and had mostly completed the project by the time COVID-19 struck.
  • Real-world interactions are embodied (we use our hands and facial expressions to communicate), synchronous, focused (mostly one-to-one or one-to-few, not broadcast), and are more meaningful (requires effort and takes time to build up, invested).
  • Kids going through puberty online are likely to experience far more social comparison, self-consciousness, public shaming, and chronic anxiety than adolescents in previous generations, which could potentially set developing brains into a habitual state of defensiveness (as opposed to discovery).
  • This is why life on college campuses changed so suddenly when Gen Z arrived, beginning around 2014. Students began requesting “safe spaces” and trigger warnings. They were highly sensitive to “microaggressions” and sometimes claimed that words were “violence.” Gen Z students found words, ideas, and ambiguous social encounters more threatening than had previous generations of students because we had fundamentally altered their psychological development.
  • A typical adolescent gets 237 notifications a day, roughly 15 every waking hour. Fragmented attention affects learning ability.
  • The neural basis of behavioural addiction to social media or video games is not exactly the same as chemical addiction. Nonetheless, they all involve abnormally heavy and sustained activation of dopamine neurons and reward pathways. Over time, the brain adapts to these high levels of dopamine; when the child is not engaged in digital activity, their brain doesn’t have enough dopamine, and the child experiences withdrawal symptoms. These generally include anxiety, insomnia, and intense irritability.
  • The main addiction risks for boys seem to be video games and porn; for girls it’s social media.
  • So much of digital public life is an unending supply of micro dramas about somebody somewhere who did something that can fuel an outrage cycle, only to be pushed aside by the next. It doesn’t add up to anything and leaves behind only a distorted sense of human nature and affairs.
  • Victims of a human transitionary generation? Gen Z were the guinea pigs in this uncontrolled global social experiment.
  • Social media is all about network effects. Most students are only on it because everyone else is too. Most of them would prefer that nobody be on these platforms. A collective-action problem (i.e. when a group would be better off if everyone in the group took a particular action, but each actor is deterred from acting, because unless the others do the same, the personal cost outweighs the benefit).
  • Requires community solutions to avoid “everyone else has it” feelings of exclusion:
  1. No smartphones before high school (ideally age 14). Family policies about tablets, laptops, and video-game consoles should be aligned with smartphone restrictions to prevent overuse of other screen activities.
  2. Phone-free schools. Not just during classes, but no phones at all.
  3. More independence, free play, and responsibility in the real world. If parents don’t replace screen time with real-world experiences involving friends and independent activity, then banning devices will feel like deprivation, not the opening up of a world of opportunities.
  • The main reason why the phone-based childhood is so harmful is because it pushes aside everything else. Smartphones are experience blockers. Our ultimate goal should not be to remove screens entirely, nor should it be to return childhood to exactly the way it was in 1960. Rather, it should be to create a version of childhood and adolescence that keeps young people anchored in the real world while flourishing in the digital age.

Income Inequality

  • At the turn of the 20th century Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto worked on some of the earliest statistical research that we now call income inequality. Coined the “80/20 rule” and adopted the French term élite to describe the ruling class.
  • Elites under capitalism would tend to become plutocrats; under socialism they would be bureaucrats.
  • “A generation whose parents had clambered out of the working class was amusing itself to distraction in a world of proliferating screens and cheap consumption.”
  • Between 1800 and 1850 the number of American millionaires soared from half a dozen to 100; between 1925 and 1950, the number fell from 1600 to 900.

Members Only

  • A growing number of New York restaurants are shifting towards the Rao’s, members-only model — effectively functioning as private clubs.
  • In the face of inflation and increased rents, it’s easier to focus on less people who each pay more. With exclusive memberships, no-shows go down to zero.
  • Examples include Rao’s (cash only); 4 Charles Prime Rib; Frog Club (reservations via secret email address, stickers placed over phone cameras); Prune (only open for private functions); and ZZ’s Club and Carbone Pivato (membership starts at $32,000 plus $10,000 per year, Founders’ Room with a “culinary concierge” that prepares anything from the kitchen).
  • Dorsia app — named after the fictional, ultra-exclusive restaurant from American Psycho — grants seats to users who pay a large, non-refundable up-front sum towards their bill. The Blackbird app allows people to prepay for meals with a “house account” balance.

History, Resembled

“History does not repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes.”

  • An Austrian who didn’t receive German citizenship until just before the 1932 election. He didn’t wake until 11am and spent much of his time watching and talking about movies. Had a possible sexual relationship with his niece, Geli, who committed suicide a year before the Nazi election; the scandal made Hitler more popular.
  • Right-wing media magnate Alfred Hugenberg created a media empire in response to perceived bias against conservatives. He used Katastrophenpolitik (“catastrophic politics”) to polarise the public. Described Hitler as a lazy buffoon, manic, and unreliable — but essential for furthering his agenda; he gave Hitler money and publicity. Similarities with Rupert Murdoch, Trump, and Fox News.
  • General Kurt von Schleicher called him a psychopath. New York Time’s Frederik Birchall continually assured readers Hitler was an out-of-his-depth simpleton and not a threat.
  • Politicians tried use and control Hitler for their own ambitions.
  • Schleicher wanted Hitler to awaken the German people — after which he would sideline the Nazi radicals and move into mainstream politics. The plan was to have the Nazi Brown Shirts crush the left, then have the German Army crush the Brown Shirts.

“He ran on the hydrogen fuel of pure hatred.”

“So, we box Hitler in…within two months, we will have pressed Hitler into a corner so tight that he’ll squeak!” — Alfred Hugenberg

  • The 1932 Reichstag election was a bitter disappointment (“a disaster”) to Hitler and Goebbels. The Nazi wave everyone expected failed to materialise — losing three elections in a row, losing seats, and never reaching a majority. Schleicher conspired to replace the Franz von Papen as Chancellor, but Papen in revenge went against his never-Hitler vow to form a coalition. He hoped to break the Nazi party, but the base of the party was fanatically loyal only to its leader. President Paul Von Hindenburg dismissed Schleicher as Chancellor, who then turned back to Papen who suggested appointing Hitler because he had made significant concessions and could be controlled.
  • Similarities to Trump and the Republican Party.
  • After Hitler gained control a military coup seemed horrific. “The trouble, unknowable to the people at the time, is that, since what did happen is the worst thing that ever happened, any alternative would have been less horrific.”
  • Hated parliamentary democracy even more than the Jews. A narcissist that was furiously jealous of the spotlight. Skilled at reassuring the Catholic centre. Appealed to popularism (antisemitism was part of populist politics at the time). Similarities to Trump (Jan 6 Capitol attack, jealous of spotlight, appealing to Catholics, anti-immigration popularism).
  • “The Nazi movement was a chaotic mess of struggling in-groups who feared and despised one another. The strength of the Nazis lay in the character of their leader — who was impossible to discourage because he was immune to the normal human impediments to absolute power: shame, calculation, or even a desire to see a particular program put in place.” Similarities to the Republican Party and Trump.
  • Ultimately Schleicher was killed by Nazi SA (Storm Troopers) during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, when Hitler consolidated power by murdering his less loyal lieutenants. Hugenberg was exonerated by a court after the war. Papen was acquitted at Nuremberg.