Thursday, February 25, 2021

Friday Links!

A little light this week, but what's here is strong.

Trust me, just put this on as background music. It's uncanny. Reo Brothers / The Beatles Studio Compilation 2.

From Meg McReynolds, and this is absolutely clear: Survivorship Bias. This is an excellent read: Measuring the geoid. What is the geoid?

From Wally, and this is an excellent list: 10 Mind-Bending Alternate Histories. This is quite fantastic: Wildlife Photographer Captures ‘Never Before Seen’ Yellow Penguin. To no one's surprise: Do Blue Light Blocking Glasses Really Work? This is surreal: Icicles Form on Ceiling Fan Amid Freezing Temperatures in Texas

From C. Lee, and it's extremely thoughtful: The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships. A retrospective on a charming, touching movie: Groundhog Day. "Thoughtful" must be C. Lee's theme this week: The Importance of Social Trust. This is amazing; Fruit Trenches: Cultivating Subtropical Plants in Freezing Temperatures. I mean, don't we all need our own Bayeux tapestry? I turned my art history students loose with a make-your-own-Bayeux Tapestry app. Ingenious: Ever Notice That Converse Chuck Taylors Have Fuzzy Soles? Here’s Why

Please Note (COVID Vaccine)

 It is now legal to cross county lines in Missouri to obtain a COVID vaccine. That is all.


I meant to post this earlier, but it's been a bit of a dumpster fire this week. Not in bad way (wait, how is that even possible?), just busy. I'm happy I remembered it today, though.

Jonathon Wood sent this to me last week in response to my post about special music moments and how those moments don't seem to happen anymore. I was going to edit it, but it's so beautifully written and genuine that, in the end, I didn't change a word.

Your post today about the lack of big moments in the modern age, is something I've been discussing with my (grown) kids over the last few weeks. The conclusion we've come to is that having this very personal, highly impactful kind of moment - be they music related or art generally - require a key component that is fleeting in the world of constant distraction. You have to fully invest yourself in the moment. With my kids, the only such events they could personally recall, all involve being at an event - concert, play/musical or festival, where they are completely in the moment. In every other circumstance, there are too many calls on one's attention to get that same immersion. 

The ones that stand out in my own mind share that same component of being totally in the moment:

Early August going into my senior year of high school, evening. Some close friends were over and were just hanging out in my (above ground) pool. "Nightswimming" by REM was on and it hit me that our collective childhood was about to end. This was one of the last times we would ever be together as a group without the pressures of adult life weighing us down. I can remember everything about that moment - what everyone was wearing, how the girl I liked had her hair pinned up, the smell of the hot summer day bleeding into the cool of the night, the slight crackle from the left speaker with the small tear in the tweeter.

Several years ago, working on a project in Honolulu - great place to be, but missing my family. Had a rough day at work plus dealing with some personal grief. I was sitting on my hotel room balcony, with a beer in hand, as the sun sank into the ocean. Across the road was a church and this evening the choir was practicing and the church had all the windows and doors open and circumstances were just right for me to hear them perfectly. That moment, with those transcendent voices, man... my worries and anxiety and fears just evaporated, for a little while.

Sitting with my wife at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago, as the opening number to Hamilton ended. While caught up in the euphoria of the moment, I recall clearly thinking how this was going to change everything - expectations of who the theatre is for, expectations of history being boring, new ways of looking at the circumstances of life and choosing to push boundaries. Some of that optimism has faded, but much of it has stayed with me.

One personal note I remembered after reading Jonathon's email. The first time I listened to the R.E.M. album "Reckoning," it blew me away. Maybe it wasn't quite in the Hall of Fame moment category, but it was really, really close. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fry's (1985-2021)

I come to bury Fry's, not to praise it. 

Fry's was a joke in the last few years. Almost everything in the stores was on consignment, like some strange electronics thrift shop. All that square footage, and what was mostly on display were "seen on TV!" items and junk. 

There wasn't even much of that, at the end. 

Fry's was the embodiment of the death of retail. It was too big, had too much inventory, and was doomed to die as online took over. 

And yet. 

When Fry's first opened the Austin location, it was a happening. 50,000 square feet of electronics. 70 checkout lanes. 

It had everything electronic. Everything. If it plugged in, Fry's had it.

The Austin store had a theme, and it was music, and it was all so beautifully done and utterly spectacular. It was absolutely the single best retail location I've ever seen. 

It was also a three minute drive from my house, and I used to just go over and walk around. Didn't even always buy something. I just wanted to be there. 

As a demonstration of the power of retail, it was a colossus.

Which is what killed it, of course. Fry's couldn't adapt to changing consumer behavior, no matter how they tried. 

Still, I wouldn't trade those memories for anything. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An Exceptional Day

It's been below freezing here for about two weeks, and there was about 20" of snow in that time. There were huge piles of ploughed snow everywhere, and parking lots were slowly losing spaces as the snow took up more and more room.

Yesterday, it peeked above freezing. 

Today, it's 42F and sunny, and the city has come out of hiding. Everyone is outside, and every low point has a pond of melting snow. It feels like I escaped something, which is how it always feels on the first day when winter retreats.

I went for a walk, like everyone else, and on the other side of the street I saw a grandfather and his granddaughter walking down the street, singing.

In other very important news, I received a call today from "The Department of Visa and Mastercard." It's apparently quite prestigious, or so I'm told.

Monday, February 22, 2021

We Have An Incident In Sector 9

I went snowshoeing last Thursday. 

15F. 8" of fresh powder. A snow-covered lake. Man, it was beautiful. 

I normally stay along the shoreline, no more than fifty yards away from land, but I saw plenty of fishing huts much further out, so I decided to go as far as I could across the lake. 

I'd gone about a mile or so, basically halfway, and decided that my goal in the future was going to be to cross the lake and return. 

Almost ready to turn back, I went about another ten steps or so, just to be sure I'd gone more than halfway. 

My snowshoes felt a little strange. 

It's a difficult sensation to describe, but it felt like I was getting bogged down a little. It kept happening, and finally, I looked down and saw that there was slush around my snowshoe. 

Slush. Hey, that's not ice!

I could see the headline: "Moron Drowns on Small Lake." I figured it was possible that there was slush on top of solid ice beneath, but as I had no competency to evaluate the situation, I decided to back the f--- up and go directly back to shore. 

Which I did. 

It's disconcerting, seeing slush under your snowshoes. And to be clear, it was definitely more on the water side than the ice side. 

Since this is Michigan, there wouldn't have actually been a derisive headline. They probably would have started a GoFundMe for funeral expenses.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a badass: Scottish superheroine pushes enormous milk truck up icy hill

For anyone who designs usable UIs, I salute you: Citibank just got a $500 million lesson in the importance of UI design.

This is a terrific read: Two visionaries: Marie Curie forged a friendship with dancer Loïe Fuller.

From Scott Sanders, and this has been on its way for years: Hockey Has a Gigantic-Goalie Problem.

From Wally and the Department of Magnificent Navigation, it's Everyone wants to be the captain till there is captain stuff to do.

From C. Lee, and this is a fascinating story: Madeleine L’Engle’s Private Correspondence With Ahmad Rahman. In retrospect, a poor deal by the Dutch, and an amazing story of resistance: The Hidden History of the Nutmeg Island That Was Traded for Manhattan. This is curious: The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes. Pay attention, Texas: Winter survival shelters you should know how to build. I do not want to live in a world where this is true: You Should Definitely Propose to Your Bridesmaids With Olive Garden Breadstick Bouquets.

The Door (not to be confused with The Room, although there is a resemblance)

I spent ninety minutes opening a door today. 

Just a door. 

Not a door in my physical space, but the book's space. And this character had to go through a door, and I couldn't get it right. 

For an hour and a half. 

Why, no, that's not annoying at all. Thank you for asking. 

There's a thing that I have accidentally developed as a result of writing every morning three centuries. I can hear rough edges so clearly now that I can't stand to have one. 

The consequences of this "skill" is that I can write an entire page of door opening sentences and know immediately that every single one of them is wrong. It's like fingernails running down a chalkboard. 

Thus concludes this edition of The Monkey's Paw.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Music Moments

The Dubious Weather blog is on leave and will return soon.

One of the things that I think has changed due to streaming media is that it reduces the opportunity for big moments. There is such an incredible amount of content that the singular, unforgettable moments are reduced. 

I thought about that yesterday, and I remembered three moments with music that were incredibly powerful, the kind of moments I haven't had for a long, long time. 

So here they are. 

The first happened when I was in college. I had a friend with a nice stereo and an excellent collection of records, and I used to go over there and listen to records when he was in class. 

Beanbag chair, too. Ultra. 

One night, he was going to a party and he told me to listen to Dark Side of the Moon. He also very specifically said to use headphones. 

I put on the headphones and closed my eyes.

I can't image a better way to listen to that album for the first time. It was so incredible, so overwhelming, that I was speechless when it was done. 

In my memory, there was a full moon that night, and it was pouring into his room, but that may be a case of me embossing history. 

Either way, I didn't need the moon for that to be a moving, unforgettable moment. 

The second moment happened when I was living in the hill country in Texas a few years after graduation. It was a little cold in late fall, and I remember having jeans and a jacket on as I went to do a little fishing at a nearby lake. 

I was just on the bank, casting an artificial worm, and I had headphones on, and I was listening to Neil Young's Harvest for the first time. I think I was a little melancholy that day, and the combination of my own emotion and the palpable melancholy of the album was so beautiful that it took my breath away. 

Part of that memory is that I was listening on a cassette Walkman or similarly huge device, and it was such a weight in my pocket, which was nicely symbolic for how the album affected me. 

The third, and (unfortunately for me, the last) happened a few years after that, when I bought a compact disc player for the first time. The first CD I ever bought was Tunnel of Love by Dire Straits, and it was also the first time I'd ever listened to a CD player through headphones. 

Oh, my god.

It's a superb album, and the mastering was absolutely incredible, and it felt like the band was playing in my living room. I know that CD mastering eventually became an exercise in manipulating music instead of presenting it faithfully, but at first the sound was so unbelievably pure. It was totally transformative.

I've had some nice moments since then with music, and I still listen to it all the time, but nothing's ever matched those three. 

Meanwhile, in Austin


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Welcome to the Dubious Weather Blog

That's what it's seemed like lately, anyway. 

A very good friend of mine told me a story once about his father-in-law. His father-in-law loved Olive Garden, because, as he always said, "you can't beat that salad."

Olive Garden does have quite a tasty all-you-can-eat salad. Even my cold, jaded heart will admit that.

Anyway, because of that conversation, he now sends me funny Olive Garden-related stories whenever he sees one, and it's a double laugh. Here's what he sent me last Friday (this is an Instagram post he saw online, credit to "Sigh, it's Ashley"):
I waitressed at olive garden for years
and no amount of training can
prepare you for the number of men
who think its okay to propose to their
girlfriends in an olive garden on 
valentine's day.

No, I don't imagine anything could.

Monday, February 15, 2021


How can I automatically remember the year of the Battle of Hastings when I usually can't remember where I parked the car?

Here's One More

This is from KXAN:


In A Most Unexpected Place


There's a weathergeddon, but for once, it's not here (and it's not in Winnipeg, although I think even Garret's had enough).

Instead, incredibly, it's in Austin.

I lived there for almost 30 years, and I think the combined snowfall over those three decades was maybe 3". 

Last night, it snowed 6." 

Up here, we have a magnificent infrastructure to handle this shit. Roads are plowed within hours. With only rare exceptions, life proceeds as normal. 

It snowed 6" yesterday here, and today I've already gotten a haircut, stopped by the pharmacy, and picked up groceries. The roads are clear. 

In Austin, nothing is plowed, 400,000 people are without power, and it's a disaster. 

Another huge issue is that pipes aren't protected nearly as well as they are in colder climates, and I can't even imagine how many of those are bursting, because it's in the teens there, which is almost unprecedented. 

Even more amazing: 

Corpus Christi is on the southern Texas coast (about 150 miles as the crow flies from Mexico, and it's also right next to where I grew up). That's -5F wind chill at 10 a.m. I'm almost completely sure that the wind chill has never been below zero. We had years where it didn't even freeze. 

By the way, the power outages are statewide. It's so cold that the grid can't handle the demand, and what started as rolling blackouts has turned into something much worse. 

Here are a couple of pictures (one from John Harwood, one from my sister).

Those would be very pedestrian in Michigan, but central Texas? Absolute chaos.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and I know what you're thinking: when will I find the Filipino Beatles? Well, damn it, I found them, and they're glorious. And I also found the Filipino Dire Straits, and guess what? It's the same guys! Also note: they're really good. 
A Hard Day's Night
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Here Comes The Sun

Sultans of Swing 

Oh, hell, they're the Eagles, too: New Kid in Town.

From Jonathon W., and this is so cool: Where on Earth are the Moon Trees? NASA map reveals where they planted seeds which took trip to space on Apollo 14 mission in 1971.

From Wally, and this is fascinating: Horror RPG Call of Cthulhu is bigger than D&D in Japan. I don't know if this is awesome or terrifying: An age of CRAGE: Advances in rapidly engineering non-model bacteria. If you've ever wanted to buy a meteorite, we've got you covered: Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites. This blows my mind: Scientists develop transparent wood that is stronger and lighter than glass. Yeah, this is scary: There Are Spying Eyes Everywhere—and Now They Share a Brain. Yeah, no thanks: Trackless Wooden Bobsled Roller Coaster.

From C. Lee, and it's a terrific article about heating me, not my apartment: Restoring the Old Way of Warming: Heating People, not Places. This makes perfect sense, so how could it happen? The Burger Flipper Who Became a World Expert on the Minimum Wage. This is bizarre: Merck anti-baldness drug Propecia has long trail of suicide reports, records show. This is a fascinating read: Introducing ‘Food Grammar,’ the Unspoken Rules of Every Cuisine. A tremendous adaptation: When the Government Banned PBR, Pabst Made Cheese Instead. Duffer, although the tee time was incredibly difficult to get: Remastered images reveal how far Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the Moon.

Do Not Forget This

Based on a news story I saw recently, let me say this. 

Refurbished products are often a terrific value. Headphones, for example. Video games, perhaps. In the right situation, even used cars can provide a great value. 

There are thriving markets, often driven by the manufacturers themselves, that offer warrantied, refurbished products at a significant discount. 

Homes! Another excellent example. Used homes are often a tremendous value. 

Baby clothing should always be purchased used. I mean, it's not like they're going to know the difference, will they?

One of the finest examples where buying refurbished or used can save you money is sporting equipment. Post-pandemic, there's going to be a staggering amount of home fitness equipment for sale, and you can swoop in and buy it for next to nothing. 

Finally, let us not forget books. If you're still reading physical copies of books, used bookstores are a tremendous place to find volumes at a reduced price. 


If you decide, for whatever reason, that you require a cannon for personal use, this is one situation where it is absolutely essential to spend the extra money and buy new. 

Vaccines (Updates)

Incredibly, in Missouri, it's apparently illegal to cross county lines to get a vaccine. 

Missouri is staggeringly strange at times, but still. 

So if you're trying the county hopping, be sure it's legal in your state. I don't want anyone in handcuffs for reading DQ. You've suffered enough already.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Hopefully Helpful Info

I'm going to try to be useful. I know this is unusual for me. 

I realized this morning that I've learned a few bits of information about finding a vaccination appointment. I'm in group 2, so it's not of any help to me yet, but some of you are 1B and probably haven't been successful yet in getting vaccinated. 

Here are strategies that have been successful for people I know:
1. Find out when appointment batches are opened. 
As an example, one DQ reader found out that appointments for the location he eventually used opened at midnight. He was easily able to get an appointment, and the entire batch was unavailable by 7 a.m. So it appears that people get up early to find appointments, not stay up late. 

2, Find out which service provider won the contract for the largest vaccination site in your area. 
Austin, as an example, was doing mass vaccinations at a gigantic white elephant of a high school football stadium (a 15M facility for high school football, don't get me started). Going to that service provider's website will give you all kinds of helpful information about appointment availability and scheduling. 

3. At the end of the day, the priority is using all remaining doses. 
Another friend just showed up at the end of the day to this high school stadium, and because there had been a  few cancelled appointments, there were unused doses available. This has worked really well for a few people I know, particularly when you show up to the largest vaccination site. 

4. Consider going out of town.
If you live in a large city (like Austin), there are a significant number of smaller communities within an hour that will also receive doses of vaccine, and there may be less demand for them. Plus, there's no way that doses can be perfectly distributed, so you may find a community with an availability/demand gap. The county health website is usually the place to go for information. 

If you have any additional tips, please send them in and I'll post them. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Sometimes Life Suddenly Looks Cool


I can't do anything about the carbon monoxide detector, but the rest is excellent.

Eli 19.6, On-Brand

Eli 19.6 has never gone snowboarding before. 

He was going with some of his friends last Friday night after about 6" of snow. 

I talked to him on Friday morning, and he said he'd spent the morning watching snowboarding technique videos. 

On Saturday morning, I got a text:
I went on every run there, including the double black. I'm 100% hooked. 

It wasn't a case of stumbling down the runs, either, because he didn't fall. 

He was intent on not falling, mostly because he forgot his snow pants, and if he fell, he was going to freeze.

Totally on-brand, in every way.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Winter Arrives, Belatedly

It's six degrees Fahrenheit and my car won't start. I blame Tom Brady.

However, it's nothing like what Garret is having to deal with in Winnipeg. Have a look:

Those temperatures are in Celsius, but the scales momentarily converge at -40, so you don't need to do much translation. I don't even know why they bother beyond about -35, because as John Harwood says, -35 is the "Stay the f--- inside" temperature and requires no further explanation.

Like I said a few weeks ago, the apartment has an equilibrium temperature, and it's relatively pointless to keep it above that temperature, because the heater has to be on almost non-stop. 

Here's an example why.

I heated the apartment up to 70.5 before I started working today (hey, I didn't grow up in the North, and my hands are always cold). 

Here's a graph of the decay after I turned the heater off (and didn't turn it on again).

Each of those times represents a 10-minute period. And you can see that whatever excess warmth was generated by the heater (about two degrees) is mostly gone within an hour. Then the rate of decay starts to slow as the room nears its equilibrium temperature, and when it gets there, it doesn't change (it's been three hours--the graph doesn't reflect the last half hour or so). 

The equilibrium point changes with different temperatures outside, but I've never seen it below 67F. Which is pretty fantastic, considering I have two big patio windows.

Blankets as necessary.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and these are astonishing, it's Inuit Coastline Maps Carved from Driftwood. And here's something silly: The spudly history of Mr. Potato Head.

From Eric Lundquist, and it's been a long time coming: Mechanisms of slab avalanche release and impact in the Dyatlov Pass incident in 1959.

From Wally, and these are remarkably odd: Bolwoningen: Neighborhood of Spherical Homes. Squirrel aggro: Knife-wielding squirrel invades Canadian woman's yard. This is so epic: Largest Mini Brick Build - Guinness World Records

From David Gloier, and detectorists! Amateur Treasure Hunter Unearths Missing Centerpiece of Henry VIII’s Crown. This is fascinating: Why Foley Artists Use Cabbage and Celery to Create Hollywood’s Distinctive Sounds. Sled dog alert: And You Thought *We* Have Vaccine Issues? Alaska Serum Run of 1925. I'm cold enough as it is: Canada's Ice Hotel Is an Incredible Winter Wonderland — and Now You Can Explore It From Home

From C. Lee, and we all have days like this: Seinfeld: The Opposite (Clip). This is every bit as fantastic as you'd expect: The Oral History of 'Guitar Hero'. This isn't good: A big hurdle for older Americans trying to get vaccinated: Using the internet. Science fiction nerd alert: “Warp speed,” “Prime Directive” predate Star Trek, per new reference tool. Intriguing: Make the Chai that Keeps NYC Taxi Drivers Going All Night. This is excellent: Stock Your Pantry With Ingredients from Around the World, Care of These Online Shops. This is such a great piece of design: We Need To Talk About How Nissan Made The Best Fuel Gauge Ever. My Ford Fiesta just went from 1/8 of a tank to empty in one leap. 

As Mental Health Week Draws to a Conclusion

Jim sent me an email. 

He said that the Southern Strategy (employed first by Nixon after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights act caused racist southern Democrats to flee the party) was based on the exact same premise as the appeal used by the NIXVM cult: you deserve more than you're getting. 

That's a brilliant connection on his part.

Then I started thinking about politics, and religion, and it's astounding how often this exact script is used. Plus, if you're disobedient to your party/religion/etc., that's why you're not getting what you want, because we've shown you the the "right" path. 

I think this made me realize that anytime someone says "you deserve more than you're getting," it's time for me to run for the hills. 

At a reduced speed, as it turns out, because I jacked up my knee on Tuesday (during my workout, but I still don't know how). It hurt enough to go to my orthopedist today and get it checked out, because I thought I'd blown out my ACl/LCL/whatever other L's are in there. 

I didn't. 

He gave me a steroid injection in the knee and said let it calm down for a few days, and that it was probably just the right combination of factors for my arthritis to flare up. Which I didn't know I even had in my knee, but he saw it on the x-ray. 

There's still an outside chance that I might have torn my meniscus, but even if I did, big deal. I've had both of these repaired and I was walking miles within a week of the surgery. Minimal inconvenience. I was just worried about major surgery. 

Amusing side note: I'd already decided that if I did have to have ACL surgery, that I'd delay it a month to finish this draft of the book (only three chapters left to work on, and when that's done, I'm 95%+ of the way there). 

You've just got to get what you can out of what you have to work with. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Mental Health Week

I didn't mean for this to turn into mental health week, but that's what happened. 

This is a very important article, and you need to go read it first: San Francisco Giants outfielder Drew Robinson's remarkable second act.

Go ahead, I'll wait. It's a stunning read.

Oh, you think I don't know you didn't read it? Go back, you. 

This story really drove home something to me that I never understood before. Not asking for help when you need it isn't selfless, and it's not protecting the people around you. 

It's just another way to punish yourself.

It's your mind tricking you into thinking you don't deserve help because you failed in some way. 

Man, that is such a trap. 

I'm sure a bunch of you are scratching your heads and going, "Well, duh," but it was never obvious to me. 

At least, not until I read the article. 

This will be discussed with Eli 19.6 as soon as possible. It's important to understand, even if you're a healthy, robust superhero. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Documentary follow-up

I finished the NXIVM documentary (first season) last night. There's a second season coming, apparently. 

There were a couple of things worth mentioning that I forgot to include yesterday. The first is that one of the cult's initial appeals to someone was that their deserved station in life was higher. They were superior, but they were holding themselves back. All they needed to do was follow this "process" to get their reward.

That kind of appeal to superiority is especially appealing to people who have narcissistic tendencies (like actors). People who think particularly highly of themselves, but weren't at the success level that they thought they deserved, were particularly vulnerable. 

The other thing that really struck was just how mediocre the guy who led the cult actually was. He claimed to have done all kinds of incredible things, but it was pretty obvious right away that he hadn't done any of them. He was just a dumpy, unremarkable person who was "good" at exactly one thing: being a predator. 

An example: he claimed he had a 240 IQ (sure you did, buddy). But when he was writing on a tear sheet during a presentation, he wrote the word "stolen" as "stollen." Not only did he do it, but he stared at it while he was talking about the point he was trying to make. 

Whenever he explained something, he just spewed out a word salad that was incoherent to anyone thinking critically. But it's hard to think critically in a claustrophobic environment that constantly reinforces everything he says. 

Monday, February 01, 2021

NIXVM and the Loss of Agency

I'm watching the NXVIM documentary and it is incredibly creepy. 

The sex-cult stuff is horrifying, obviously. That's what everyone focuses on. But there's another layer underneath that touched many, many more people. 

The way they attracted people was the promise of perfection. 

Perfection wasn't an unrealistic goal that negatively affected the lives of people who believed in it. No, it was absolutely attainable, and all you needed was the correct process. 

It was all mathematical, and scientific (Narrator: it was not.).

What it promised, at its core, was greater control over your life, and greater agency. 

That seems like something lots of people want, including me. And since they market this greater control and agency as part of a measurable process, it can feel like it's actually happening. It actually increases your self-esteem, at first.

What's actually happening, though, is much more insidious. 

Because the process is "mathematical" and "scientific," you have to follow the process. If you don't follow the process, you'll fail. 

So "agency" gets replaced with "obedience." You can't get better, more perfect, unless you're obedient. And since your self esteem becomes more and more reliant on this process, your self esteem is entirely dependent on obedience. 

This is a common pattern in abusive relationships, too. 

One person methodically removes another's friends from their circle until that person is entirely dependent on the abuser for their social interactions and esteem. If they're not obedient, they're emotionally punished. 

Watching this documentary is important, if only to see how incredibly easy it is to be manipulated when you're put into a certain environment. This cult sucked in some very successful people. 

As for my own vulnerability, as an old, scruffy curmudgeon, I am post-improvement. It's a natural immunity.

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