Melting Asphalt

Recent Essays

  • Social Status II: Cults and Loyalty

    So my previous post on social status was recently treated to a review/​critique by Scott Alexander over at Slate Star Codex. I expect most of my readers are already big fans of Scott's blog (as am I). But for those…Read more › Continue Reading »
  • Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole

    "After this," says Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix, "there is no turning back." You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red…Read more › Continue Reading »
  • The More the Merrier

    Lately I've been thinking a lot about (what I'm going to call) swarms and hives — two different kinds of collective animal behavior. Examples of swarms include: what gazelles do in herds, what fish do in schools, and what gnats…Read more › Continue Reading »
  • Doesn't Matter, Warm Fuzzies

    Why do humans dress up in funny clothes and perform elaborate actions with no tangible effects? Remember, we're not just human beings — we're apes. Why do apes do this? A study of ritual in ten lessons. I. indirection A…Read more › Continue Reading »
  • Parable of the Redwoods

    or What Trees Can Teach Us About Human Intelligence. My native California is home to the world's tallest tree species: Sequoia sempervirens or the coastal redwood. The tallest living specimen towers a lofty 115 meters (379 feet) above the forest…Read more › Continue Reading »


I write things and put them here. Maybe once or twice a month. Es­says about phi­los­o­phy, hu­man be­hav­ior, and oc­ca­sion­al­ly soft­ware. It's my ex­cuse for toy­ing around with new ideas and prac­tic­ing the craft of writ­ing.

I have to un­der­stand the world, you see. — Richard Feynman