Sunday Scaries (7/12/20)

Hey everyone,

Heading north from Bryce Canyon to set up camp near Yellowstone. I’ve officially left the heat of the desert and am looking forward to the mountains and rivers of Montana. As I watch the miles melt away, I’m amazed by the diversity of geography in the United States. There’s a reason America’s National Parks attract over 300 million visitors each year. If you haven’t visited and have the means to, I highly recommend it.

This week’s subscribers only posts:

  • Warning Signs is a short piece about my irrational packing tendencies. Trying to fit everyone into a car is difficult and some sacrifices were made.

  • Walk Without Rhythm discusses the cause of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and my conversation with a local Native American man.

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What’s New This Week

  1. GPT-3 Fiction. I received access to Open AI’s GPT-3 and have been using it to write short stories. The results are incredible. If this trend continues, things are going to look very different for creatives in just a few years.

    My prediction: good curation will become more important than creation.

    If you want to ask me a prompt to give to GPT, reach out on Twitter.

Here’s a short snippet. I provided the opening line of the story (in bold) and the rest of the text was written entirely by a machine:


Lights flashed past the window like the slots on a game of chance. The train shifted, and the riders gripped their handholds, absorbed in thought as they jostled against one another.

No one spoke, and the only sounds were of rubber on concrete, wheels on tracks, and the droning of the engine. One of the passengers was smaller than the others. His face was hidden in the shadows, his back against the wall, his thoughts drifting. Thoughts of his wife, child, . . . and the perfect murder. He thought of the money he'd make from the robberies and the killing that would follow.

In spite of the heat, he felt cold. Even the image of the red rose on his lapel didn't warm him.

It was a hell of a job. No one would ever suspect that he could be cold-blooded enough to do it. There was just one thing. A beautiful, sweet-smelling thing.

A damn bitch he'd fallen in love with.

She was his weakness, but he had to go on. He had to do the job.

Another train was coming down the tracks, but he barely noticed it. His head was still filled with the sweet smell of the lilacs that had been his downfall. It was the night she'd found him that he'd let himself give into her. It was her sweetness that made him want her so. He'd lain in the warmth of her arms and held her close.

He'd fallen asleep. They'd made love and when she'd awakened him with a kiss, he couldn't find his hate for her any longer. He'd come to his senses and found that he loved her. He loved her in a way he'd never loved another human being. There was only one way out for him. Only one way to get her out of his system and go on.

He had to kill her.


Photo of the Week

Photo: Coral Pink Sand Dunes, UT


In This Week’s Edition:

  • How interesting subcultures are created, grown, and eventually taken over by suits.

  • Why financially independent writers choose to write in the morning for just a few hours and spend the rest of the day relaxing.

  • How to use Twitter to get a job in tech.


Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution

A Thing™ is cool when it’s only known to a small group. These small groups are the “geeks” - they care very passionately about the Thing™ and help advance it. Eventually, the Thing gets discovered by a broader audience - the “mops”. They’re into the thing, but they mostly show up to have a good time. Eventually, the Thing™ gets turned into a mainstream thing and the cycle starts over. This post is a fascinating breakdown of how we assign cultural significance to ideas.

Financially independent writers agree that mornings are the best

Gwern.net is a hidden treasure of the internet. In this essay, he breaks down the common writing habits across writers with enough money to choose their own schedules.

If you’ve been trying to develop a consistent writing habit, this post breaks down the different strategies and provides justification as to why they may work.

Patrick McKenzie and Jeff Weinstein of Stripe on how to use Twitter to get a job

Writing online is proof of work. If you are looking to break into a new sector, here is what you should do:

  • Follow the ten most influential people in that field on Twitter. See what posts they are liking and retweeting and follow those people too.

  • Find someone in their circle who is responsive and vocal about their work. Pick a topic you think they would be interested in and write a 1,000-word essay about it.

  • Reach out to them on Twitter and mention that you wrote something they might be interested in. Mention that you’re interested in breaking into the industry and if they might be interested in talking.

  • Rinse and repeat.

This takes advantage of two things:

1) there are no gatekeepers to write an essay online. You can do the proof-of-work before you land the interview.

2) people love giving advice, especially to others who remind them of themselves.

Stop writing resumes and cover letters that no one is reading.


Thanks for reading,

Phil

Sunday Scaries is a newsletter that answers simple questions with surprising answers. The author of this publication is currently living from his car and traveling across the United States. You can subscribe by clicking the link below. 👇