Friday, April 5, 2013

Resource allocation. And paella.

The population of earth is about 7 billion people.

About half of them are the gender you're attracted to. (Unless you're bi.)


So I don't have to actually do research, let's do back-of-the-envelope kludgey math to figure out the age stuff. 65.9% of the world is between the ages of 15 and 64. That's 49 years. Let's call it 50. Let's pretend that the ages within that bracket are distributed evenly. Let's assume that you're in that age bracket, and you're roughly attracted to people within five years of your age, putting a 10-year bubble around you. So there are 461,300,000 people of the right gender and age.

Let's define the word "gorgeous" as 1-in-100 cute (46,130,000).

Let's say that in this huge crazy world of monkeys and typewriters, for any given person's psychological problems and character flaws, around 1 in a million people finds themselves attracted to exactly that (like "man, obesity in effeminate men really turns me on.")

By this awful made-up math, even if you're hideous and annoying and gross, there are 46 gorgeous people who are literally insanely attracted to you.

The world is an amazing place.

Every time you have ever had a freakish, desperate craving for paella, someone somewhere was right in the middle of saying "Shit, I accidentally cooked too much paella. Why do I always do this? I hate when things go to waste."

Every time you've had to go from Dallas to Nashville, there was someone else making the same trip that day, with an extra seat.

When I went from Manila (a metropolitan area of 20 million people) to Hong Kong/Macau (15 million) for a conference, there were certainly several people making a mirror trip who would have loved to swap condos, eat from each other's refrigerators, and pay nothing.

There's someone dying to hire someone exactly like you.

Of the 130 million books that have been written, there's one that would blow your mind and change the course of your life more than M. C. Escher's visit to the Alhambra did his.

Every facet of your paradise exists, but you will never make the connections.

We live our lives by chance, picking the major that our local college offers, listening to the music that our friends showed us, and dating the girl we met at the bar, letting most allocations happen by near-chance.

I've probably been a lot more deliberate than most people. I wrote a document classifier that accurately predicts which HN articles I will like. There are layers of automated search and analysis underlying my job hunt, social life, and quest for meaning. But there needs to be much more. For me and for all of us.

I will never hear what would be the most amazing and powerful song I could ever hear. I will never meet my best friend. And that makes me sad.



  1. How true! You should definitely write a post about your automated tools.

  2. Corban and I were just talking about this (kind of). He had a conversation with you once about how you will only have the chance to read a certain number of books in your life. Death dictates this. He was really bummed about that. I pointed out that death literally limits every possible life experience. It's not just about information. It's about people and connections and meals and sunsets and car crashes and sex. There will literally be a last time that I see a mountain, create a painting, talk to my father, and pet my cat. The last time I talked to my grandmother was September; she died in January, and I'll never talk to her again. I couldn't have known this in September. Then there is the fact that by simply making a choice (why, yes, I WILL drive to Denison for drinks by a bonfire tonight), we kill the possible self that would have made a different decision. If I go to Denison, I will never be the me who stayed and met her best friend at a bar that night or created the most mind-blowing piece of art. So, how do we live with this? How are not paralyzed with fear? By choosing to believe that we HAVE made some of those best possible connections and that even more likely, most of our experiences are going to fall somewhere in the neutral zone of "good" and "bad," and we can make them what we will. I can CHOOSE to make Corban my best possible mate and I can CHOOSE to agree that art is my passion at this place in my life.

    It's no bitcoin, but there's my two cents (and a pun to boot!)

  3. Well, I would counter that <3 <3 <3 <3 , and furthermore, <3 <3 <3, when you consider that <3 <3.

  4. Very true. Sometimes I just get lost in thought, thinking about this exact situation.

  5. I think this might be a thought-pit that you can get stuck in. Those like us who crave efficiency and making every little bit count as much as possible will think stuff like this.

    But the real world has constraints, and those real constraints are something we've adapted (as a species) to adapt to (as individuals). So I don't think it's all that bad.

    We aren't omniscient. We can only make the best choices that we feel are right at any given time, given our current state of mind and experience. There's just too much information, and too many rabbit holes to fall down. You gotta learn to deal.

    In short: Heuristics, bro. And conviction, like Chelle said. Live your life to the fullest, whatever subset of your "maximal" lifestyle it may be. Besides, if we've read similar books, we both know that the human mind can be happy in South Africa just as much as it can be unhappy in Sunny South Carolina.