Sanderson’s Laws Of Magic


I love Sanderson's books, but I find his exploration of the medium of fantasy writing a whole lot more fascinating.

  • Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic

  • Sanderson’s Second Law can be written very simply. It goes like this: Limitations > Powers. (Or, if you want to write it in clever electrical notation, you could say it this way: Ω > | though that would probably drive a scientist crazy.)

  • The third law is as follows: Expand what you already have before you add something new.

Sanderson's Creative Writing Class on Youtube

On Editing and Writing


Jason Fried (Basecamp) during a Q&A on his ideal course,

It would be a writing course. Every assignment would be delivered in five versions: A three page version, a one page version, a three paragraph version, a one paragraph version, and a one sentence version. I don't care about the topic. I care about the editing. I care about the constant refinement and compression. I care about taking three pages and turning it one page. Then from one page into three paragraphs. Then from three paragraphs into one paragraph. And finally, from one paragraph into one perfectly distilled sentence. Along the way you'd trade detail for brevity. Hopefully adding clarity at each point. This is important because I believe editing is an essential skill that is often overlooked and under appreciated. The future belongs to the best editors. Each step requires asking "What's really important?" That's the most important question you can ask yourself about anything. The class would really be about answering that very question at each step of the left is the point.

Leverage Points


Leverage points — These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

From Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System

The classic example of that backward intuition was my own introduction to systems analysis, the world model. Forrester made a computer model and came out with a clear leverage point: Growth. Counterintuitive. That’s Forrester’s word to describe complex systems. Leverage points are not intuitive. Or if they are, we intuitively use them backward, systematically worsening whatever problems we are trying to solve.

So one day I was sitting in a meeting about how to make the world work better — actually it was a meeting about how the new global trade regime, NAFTA and GATT and the World Trade Organization, is likely to make the world work worse. The more I listened, the more I began to simmer inside. “This is a HUGE NEW SYSTEM people are inventing!” I said to myself. “They haven’t the SLIGHTEST IDEA how this complex structure will behave,” myself said back to me. “It’s almost certainly an example of cranking the system in the wrong direction — it’s aimed at growth, growth at any price!! And the control measures these nice, liberal folks are talking about to combat it — small parameter adjustments, weak negative feedback loops — are PUNY!!!”


    1. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards).
    1. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows.
    1. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).
    1. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change.
    1. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.
    1. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
    1. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information).
    1. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints).
    1. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
    1. The goals of the system.
    1. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises.
    1. The power to transcend paradigms.

Waiting for answers


A young man came up to Mozart and said, ‘I want to compose symphonies. I want to talk to you about that.’
Mozart said, ‘How old are you?’
And Mozart said, ‘You’re too young to do symphonies.’
And the guy says, ‘But you were writing symphonies when you were ten years old.’
He says, ‘Yes, but I wasn’t running around asking other people how to do it.’”

Reversible decisions


A decade making products and it's still a lesson that needs constant reminding. Most decisions are reversible. So, the only obvious thing to do is to make decisions with less confidence and in significantly less time. Course-correct when necessary.

Reversible decisions are doors that open both ways. Irreversible decisions are doors that allow passage in only one direction; if you walk through, you are stuck there. Most decisions are the former and can be reversed (even though we can never recover the invested time and resources).

Make more decisions with less confidence but in significantly less time. And just recognize that in most cases, you can course-correct and treat fast decisions as a kind of asset and capability in their own right. It’s quite striking to me how some of the organizations that I hold in the highest regard tend to do this. The second thing is to not treat all decisions uniformly. I think the most obvious axis to break them down on are degree of reversibility and magnitude.

Laurie Deschene on not beating yourself up,

Even if you’ve made choices you wouldn’t make based on what you know now, you don’t deserve to feel inadequate, ashamed, unworthy, or inferior to anyone else. You don’t deserve the anguish of beating yourself up over the past, or the insatiable emptiness that comes from believing you’re fundamentally lacking. No matter where you’ve been, you deserve the opportunity to go where you’re going, less burdened by your own mind. "Easy decisions, hard life. Hard decisions, easy life." - Jerzy Gregorek


Cynicism and hopefulness


From Nick Cave's The Red Hand Files

Unlike cynicism, hopefulness is hard-earned, makes demands upon us, and can often feel like the most indefensible and lonely place on Earth. Hopefulness is not a neutral position either. It is adversarial. It is the warrior emotion that can lay waste to cynicism.

He uses a drawing of Philip Guston, whose work I stumbled up for the fist time. I have been itching to dig deeper into his oeuvre since.

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I have been deep diving into uxm, a personal computing stack built by 100 rabbits

I came upon it as I was trying to untangle this concept of "digital dust". How as a photographer, preservation and permanence was central to my practice. But, moving into the digital space, I continue to be just as wasteful as everyone else around me.


10K years


In this 99percentinvisible episode, a group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers are brought to the New Mexico desert in 1990. They are given an assignment. They have to come up with a way to communicate that this area is a nuclear zone. The catch, the meaning should survive 10000 years.

I found this a interesting look at a vast array of ideas — words, stories, cartoons. But, I think I agree with what might be the most radical solution presented. The only thing durable across 10K years is Culture. Proposed by two philosophers, Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri.

Bastide and Fabbri came to the conclusion that the most durable thing that humanity has ever made is culture: religion, folklore, belief systems. They may morph over time, but an essential message can get pulled through over millennia.  They proposed that we genetically engineer a species of cat that changes color in the presence of radiation, which would be released into the wild to serve as living Geiger counters. Then, we would create folklore and write songs and tell stories about these “ray cats,” the moral being that when you see these cats change colors, run far, far away.

First Birthday


We went to the aquarium to celebrate 🐣K first birthday. He fell asleep when we were 5 minutes away from the place. Woke up right in the middle of the conveyer belt ride, with a shark swimming above our head. We thought he would freak out, but he was really excited to see so many colors.

The jellyfish and rainbow fishes were his favourite ones.

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Back to drawing after a few months. Felt good getting that pencil on paper.



Cartoon Graveyard


I read Craig Thompson's Blankets somewhere around May 2021 and felt compelled to make these set of cartoons. One amongst the many that didn't even make it to this stage.

I stumbled up on these today and am glad these exist.






A Snapshot Of Toronto


A few weeks before the pandemic, I was out on a cold Toronto February walking around the city. I had been watching a lot of Mekas's work, particularly As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty. [1]

Two and half years later, with 🐣K. first birthday coming up, I am glad I made this tiny video that day.

  1. Someone put the entire movie on YouTube ↩︎

Ocean Vuong's Chinese Painter


There's a legend about a Chinese painter who was asked by the emperor to paint a landscape so pristine that the emperor can enter it. He didn't do a good job, so the emperor was preparing to assassinate him. But because it was his painting, legend goes, he stepped inside and vanished, saving himself. I always loved that little allegory as an artist. Even when it is not enough for others, if it is enough for you, you can live inside it.

ocean vuong



Wild Geese


poem by mary oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.