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before Act III, or depending on the genre, ever.

If I think of myself as the protagonist of my life story, many self-defeating behaviors don't make sense. If I think of myself as the author, then moments of jarring foolishness can be interpreted as a desperate novelist's tricks. Better to break the character than to let him win

What are some examples of problems whose solutions are “easy,” such that the harder one thinks about it, the less likely one will find the solution?

Dating seems to abound with these types of problems.

Lasers are useful. What does it mean to be laser-like? Time: A visible-light laser is more efficient than an incandescent light bulb by a factor of 2-6 because more of the output power lies in a useful range of wavelengths. Space: A laser is spatially confined (e.g. 1 mm beam vs. entire sphere). Precise application of effort in both time and space means less input power. A 60 W bulb illuminates, a 60 mW laser blinds. In the best case, age makes one more laser-like, while reducing input power.

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sext: you dip my soft cloth into my cleaning mixture while i avoid using any and all abrasive materials

The history of our ancestors and maintaining detailed stories of our lives for future generations

What should we care more about?

What should we care less about? By “we” I don’t mean something abstract and safe. I mean you and me and this Mastodon community

Nature is a good bag of heuristics for how to not mess up a complex system too badly. But let’s say I can tolerate the occasional moment of bathos and trust in my own resilience to catastrophe. Why not turn the dial up on abundance and see what comes out the other end?

Unnatural abundance promotes unnatural behavior. There’s an outdoor cafe on campus where I once saw crows descend upon an uneaten pile of food, only to be chased off by seagulls later on. None were frightened by the nearby humans, who were all too well-fed to care.

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The more you think, the more the world is in you. Feeling stifled you desperately manipulate this ball, hoping for unpredictable response. To know it is alive and not dead.

The more you feel, the more you are in the world. Endless distance, time, opportunity, wonder, and love.

When perfectly balanced and not sucked into either vortex, there is action that cares and caring action.

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@dereklh Manufacturing in space, where it's easy to pull an ultra-high vacuum on a large volume when you need it!

Imagine a perfect piece of glass. Now imagine it comes into contact with a grain of dust -- it just lost 90% of its strength. That's the sort of vanilla materials science we have to deal with down on Earth.

Then there's zero gravity crystallization kinetics of ceramic matrix composites, a thoroughly understudied area imho.

I'll tentatively put this on the calendar for my 50s.

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@dereklh Invert the question: what skills once widely practiced have now died out? Why?

I'll also suggest driving. I'm not sure if handwriting or yping is more likely to die -- keyboards are useful for device inputs, but script-input (remember Palm's Grafiti, anyone) has use cases.

Possibly: navigating consumer-relationship nightmares: researching purchases, refunds, healthcare, retirement funds. Or not.

Computer/device maintenance?

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@dereklh Oh gosh, I have quite a few...

The one I floated around for a while would be a complete accounting of resource use and wastage throughout the supply chain of some ubiquitous, everyday object's industry. (Garment industry is the one many people focus on, but I could go with food production too.)

*And*, accounting as well for units produced that are never purchased by an end consumer, as a form of waste.

Let's say that during this decade, your basic needs are met so you don't have to worry about supporting yourself. You don't automatically get carte blanche for the project's costs however

If you had to spend a decade of your life tackling a single focused project, what would it be?

It still blows my mind that mitochondria were once prokaryotic cells that were swallowed up, harnessed for energy, duplicated and then slowly streamlined as more and more of their native functions were transferred to the host eukaryotic cell. Biology perfected the art of M&A before primates in suits ever walked the planet

Adulthood's curse is that each new degree-of-freedom brings with it new ways to fail *but* often with just enough of a buffer that feedback is non-existent or too delayed to be useful. 5 years from now, I hope to be not-bankrupt, not-alone and not-a-horrible-person

What is one common skill that people take for granted today that will decline in the future?

In games that reward players for differentiating themselves, the optimal strategy may be to go where you don't belong, where the environment is no longer shaped by "your people." Then you're a unique snowflake because you're the only snowflake in town. The challenge then is to survive and produce long enough for your unique-ness to become manifest, without becoming labeled by the community as a free-rider, or perhaps more dangerously, becoming overly enamored of one's uniqueness