Friday, December 21, 2018

Driving Tip

The only useful tip I picked up from Driver's Ed class in high school:
Don't be the slowest or the fastest car on the road. That's where the danger is.
It's true in many, many contexts beyond driving (for just one thing, it's yet another reason to be careful about Aiming for Infinity)


Richard Stanford said...

I have a daughter who'll be driving soon enough and the most important thing that I've been able to communicate to her about driving is to "Be Predictable." I find that that covers a surprisingly large number of situations generically, and your post now has me wondering about how it could be translated to modern life/business/etc.

Jim Leff said...

"Surprising Behavior Breaks Things"

Jim Leff said...

You need to pick and choose your predictability, though; to get a sense of areas where surprise (aka "creativity", "art", and every other good thing) is worth the risk of making yourself an edge case and where it's not.

It's always risky/scary to be surprising, but that calculated risk is what makes life bearable for oneself and for those around you. So be careful about emphasizing one side of the issue. If she's already conformist/meek, you may not need to say it; it might just augment her fear.

Richard Stanford said...

Agreed. I'd also tie this into things like "observing social norms", the lack of which can destroy institutions surprisingly quickly. Sometimes that's a good thing. Other times - I'll throw politics into the mix and suggest that the move in gerrymandering from picking up small advantages to drawing districts house by house is a good example, or the Senate choosing to simply not bring Merrick Garland up for a vote because nobody historically considered that they'd do that - not so much.

Predictability helps us as a society to avoid having HOA-level rules for living. I'm very much in favor of that continuing. When you do become unpredictable you should do it on purpose and for a reason :)

Jim Leff said...

I agree on principle, though not with your examples. To digress, I think Dems vastly underestimate the degree to which imminent demographic shifts leading to the inevitable annihilation of American conservatism have forced the Right to resort to dirty tricks (e.g. the ones you mentioned) and ditzy mayhem. Consider: How well would the Left behave if the clock were ticking re: total domination by social conservatism?

But getting back to the point at hand....

Sure. Risk, creativity, art, surprise, and breakability (different terms for the same edge-case brinksmanship) scale both to the micro and macro. I’m a hardliner, myself, when it comes to this stuff. I respect an unlimited range of surprise, even when it disrupts my own well-laid plans (I like being rubbed the wrong way!). So in the micro, I don’t think one can “waste time” nor “blow up one’s life”, so I nearly reject the very notion of danger. In the macro, the ongoing disintegration of classical liberalism strikes me mostly as fascinating food for thought. To my view, this playpen we're in accommodates all outcomes; any judgement presupposes arbitrarily constricted preference on our part. Yep, I do recognize that I'm extremist in my framing. I don't root for certain results; rather, I focus on playing the cards I'm dealt. There's always a beautiful play; a flip of perspective. (i.e. ).

Anyway, this dichotomy ties in with something else I’ve been thinking about: personality “types”. We all know a few well-connected social butterflies, and it took decades for me to notice they all have one thing in common: they’ve chosen a cheerful, upbeat persona to play on their worldly stage, and they play it SEAMLESSLY.

So when you meet such a person, they seem very familiar, because you’ve come across myriad clones. That's a really successful stratagem. Me, I’ve created problems for myself by never having selected a “That Guy” to pretend to be. Being unique leads to misinterpretation, miscomprehension, and mistrust. Uniqueness, all by itself, leaves people floundering, even if you’re not actively exercising your creative faculty for surprise (i.e. you're just keeping your head down and hoping to blend in). Another example of edge case breakage!

In the end, there's safety and predictability (but tedium and superficiality) in the well-trodden well-lit path, and there's danger and chaos (but beauty and inspiration) in creativity/surprise. In tech parlance, the latter offers no public APis for networking, analysis, or interpretation, while the former is plug-and-play with every extent system.

So is there a "right" choice? No, absolutely not! Again, I'm an extremist for creativity, but even I am daunted by the pitfalls...which can be enormous and surreal (e.g., though I wouldn't have it any other way!

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