"You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it."
— Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)
Editor’s note: This is one of those unexpected losses of someone you never met that truly bums you out. He’s one of those people you’ve been a fan for so long that you take it for granted. I have fond memories of growing up w/ his movies in the 90s - many of which are near and dear to my heart to this day. His seminal 2002 HBO stand-up special on Broadway was one of the few DVDs I owned at the time and saw it more times I’d care to count. I never laughed harder in my life. Outside of his on-screen persona, he always came off genuine, sincere and so full of life; never without his trademark manic exuberance. He’s like that goofy, sweet uncle in your family you love hanging out and play video games with, who’s also kind of a mad genius. In real life though, he was more than just a talented comedian (one of the best there ever was); he was also a gamers, fan of anime, early-adopter of new technology (kindred spirit) - in other words, a true geek - not to mentiona sweet and loving father. Incidentally, he used to reminded me of my dad (especially the ridges on his forehead and the bread in his later years).
What makes the loss even more tragic is the sad and deeply upsetting nature of his death. For someone who gave so much joy to so many to feel so sad, alone and helpless that he resorted to taking his own life in dealing with his depression. A man who’s had been known to lighting up stages all his life found himself in the darkest of the dark places during the last moments of his life. Truly heartbreaking.
It’s universally understood that in movies actor plays fictional roles and if they’re any good — embody the “truth” of those characters. That’s the magic of cinema — to take written words and bring them to life. Richard Linklater’s new film ’Boyhood’ reverses that process. The “character’ in his script, a six year old boy Mason gradually adapts to the flesh and blood “actor” Ellar Coltrane's real life journey from childhood to young adulthood over the course of twelve long years. This has never been done before in films. EnterRichardLinklater. Beyond the impressive scope of such technical audacity, the film itself has unanimously garnered tremendous praise. Someone at Vanity Fair called this film a 'Sublime Celebration of Humanity'. Not to mention a perfect score onRotten Tomato.
Yet I have no desire to see it anytime soon, if ever.
Childhoods are inherently bitter sweet business - an idea that can be even more so emotionally powerful in the hands of someone like Linklater. As someone who’s acutely aware of the passage of time; it’s effect on our lives and shared human condition in general, I’m not entirely sure how I’d react to a film like that. Must have been an interesting for all the actors to see it; especially for Ellar Coltrane who’s own boyhood is now forever entwined w/ that of a movie character.
The curse is confidence. It’s confidence that comes from a lifetime of success after real success, an objectively great job, working at an objectively great company, making a measurably great salary, building products that get millions of users. You must be smart. In fact, you are smart. You can prove it.
Ironically, one of the biggest social problems currently reported at work is lack of confidence, also known as Impostor Syndrome. People with confidence try to help people fix their Impostor Syndrome, under the theory that they are in fact as smart as people say they are, and they just need to accept it.
But I think Impostor Syndrome is valuable. The people with Impostor Syndrome are the people who *aren’t* sure that a logical proof of their smartness is sufficient. They’re looking around them and finding something wrong, an intuitive sense that around here, logic does not always agree with reality, and the obviously right solution does not lead to obviously happy customers, and it’s unsettling because maybe smartness isn’t enough, and maybe if we don’t feel like we know what we’re doing, it’s because we don’t.
Impostor Syndrome is that voice inside you saying that not everything is as it seems, and it could all be lost in a moment. The people with the problem are the people who can’t hear that voice.
The fact that if you’re smart enough, you could rationalize pretty much anything w/ infallible logic *can* be harmful to you and those around you. Yet simply knowing that fact isn’t enough. Finding the balance between having enough confidence in yourself and knowing when to cast a doubt —being the rigorous thinker that you are (armed w/ almighty logic), is no easy feat.
SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is an organization dedicated to listening for signals from other intelligent life. If we’re right that there are 100,000 or more intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, and even a fraction of them are sending out radio waves or laser beams or other modes of attempting to contact others, shouldn’t SETI’s satellite array pick up all kinds of signals?
But it hasn’t. Not one. Ever.
Where is everybody? […]
The Great Filter theory says that at some point from pre-life to Type III intelligence, there’s a wall that all or nearly all attempts at life hit. There’s some stage in that long evolutionary process that is extremely unlikely or impossible for life to get beyond. That stage is The Great Filter.
If this theory is true, the big question is, Where in the timeline does the Great Filter occur
It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities: We’re rare, we’re first, or we’re fucked.