The Miscellany of Stewart McCoy


“On Patience: After they have thrown something onto the floor small human beings will often ask for that thing to be handed back to them, and sob regretfully if they do not immediately receive it. They lack for patience. Of course, the larger humans often lack for patience too. It is often said that children must be taught patience, but of course patience cannot be taught (see Learning, above). Small human beings learn by mimicking and so they learn patience by mimicking patience. Perhaps this means that a larger human being somewhere many thousands of generations back took a long and patient breath as the smaller human being in his or her arms squirmed. Perhaps the smaller human being saw this long and patient breath and internalized it and began to understand. Perhaps all of the patience in the world is a copy of one sigh.”

– Paul Ford, What I’ve learned from fatherhood

Shooting off an e-mail is easier, still, because one can hide behind the absence of vocal inflection, and of course there’s no chance of accidentally catching Frank. And texting is even easier, as the expectation for articulateness is further reduced, and another shell is offered to hide in. Each step “forward” has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.

The problem with accepting — with preferring — diminished substitutes is that over time, we, too, become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little.

“Human emotions are rooted in the predictions of highly flexible brain cells, which are constantly adjusting their connections to reflect reality. Every time you make a mistake or encounter something new, your brain cells are busy changing themselves. Our emotions are deeply empirical.”

– Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide

“As a designer, hell, as ANY type of craftsman, you are responsible for what you help to put in the world. You are defined by the clients you take on, and you can only stand as proud as the work you do and its benefit to society entitles you.”

– Mike Montiero, How to Pick the Right Clients