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Posts about scribbles (old posts, page 3)

Writing Day 29 – Conspiracy

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Started: 2018-03-18
Finished: 2018-03-19

I think most of my writing about books will be just short stabs like this.
Or I’ll never get to anything in time.

I was supposed to start with Perennial Seller and then this popped up and looked like less intensive, so I picked it up first.

Well, it’s an awesome, racy read.
And something only Ryan Holiday could have done justice to.
He writes almost objectively, never hiding his biases.

Sometime in late 2007, Gawker publication Valleywag, outed Peter Thiel as gay.
And nearly ten years and ten million dollars later, Peter Thiel burned Gawker Media to the ground by secretly backing another Gawker victim with his case against Gawker in court.

So what happened in between?
Well, that’s what the book is about.

The sheer amount of hopelessness, hubris, desspair, planning, plotting, conspiracy in the whole book is almost perversely delightful.

I don’t agree with Thiel on most of what he does. (Palantir … Trump … )
But when I put myself into his shoes, what would I have done, if I was violated and I had the means to strike back?
I know that feeling of despair when I have been wronged, and yet I couldn’t do anything about it
I would have done exactly what he did.

And while the book is about conspiracy, the part that I identified the most with, was the fact that Peter was the only one with the balls to call Gawker’s bluff.1
Gawker upset a lot of rich folk and large companies.
Yet, it was only Peter who did something about it.

And I identify with it, because I did exactly that after nearly 4 years of being bullied and blackmailed in high school.
Reading this brought back memories …
Driving an enemy into the ground, so completely that they’ll never do harm again, is exhilirating.
I’ve never let myself be helpless ever again.

And while I’ve taken Marcus Aurelius’ exhortation2 to heart, there is also a bit of truth to this quote from the book …

I couldn’t stand it. I still can’t stand it.
I can’t stand the way things are. I cannot tolerate this age.
What is more, I won’t.
That was my discovery: that I didn’t have to.
—Walker Percy, Lancelot


  1. And the fact that revenge is a dish best served cold. 

  2. The best revenge, is not to be like that 

Writing Day 26 – On Writing Days

I started writing regularly 26 days ago.

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I did know I wanted to build a practice of sticking to things; something I feel I’m sorely lacking in, as each new “ooh, shiny!” flits across my field of vision.

And I know I want to build something like this!

Nearly a month in, I think I’m barely scratching the surface.
But it definitely isn’t as bad as it was when I started.
And it definitely isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.
It’s beginning to feel like I can do this, but there is still quite a ways to go.

I’ve definitely felt like giving up tonnes of times.
But I’ve read that even when I don’t feel like it, I ought to just do it.
Do the bare minimum1. Don’t break the chain.

I might decide to drop the tag next year2, but I fervently hope, this leads to writing being as much as part of me, as reading is.

And I hope it leads me to something like this.

I haven’t missed a day in many, many years—the discipline of sharing something daily is priceless. Sometimes there are typos. I hope that they're rare and I try to fix them.

Over time, the blog adds up. People remember a blog post a year after I wrote it. Or they begin a practice, take an action, make a connection, something that grows over time. The blog resonates with people in so many fields, it’s thrilling to see how it can provoke positive action.

It’s true that I’d write this blog even if no one read it, but I want to thank you for reading it, for being here day after day. It's more fun that way. There are more than a million subscribers, and, best I can tell, people read this in nearly every country in the world.


  1. Most posts now, certainly feel like it. 

  2. The aim, now is to have 365 posts tagged, daily-writing. 

Strong!

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The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places.

— Ernest Hemingway


Writing Day 24 – Why I Love My Insights

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I’ve come across several a-has in life all on my ownsome.

I struggled with credit cards and debt and realised much of what were Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and later Taleb’s thoughts on optionality all on my own.

When I read about them later, it was a huge boost of Hell Yeah!

While I do realise that life is to short to learn by experience, and that most of my “original” thoughts will have been thought of long before I ever did, it’s such a high to arrive at an insight all on my ownsome.

Figuring out something by experience or by reason is fun :)

It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise.
William Deresiewicz


Writing Day 23 – On the Need for Mental Rigour

I’ve been learning Maths and daydreaming about careers in Mathematics
I loved the idea of being a pure Mathematician and then realised that path was not for me. My head hurts when I focus on my Maths work :P

But then it struck me how much of Maths & Science was done by people in their spare time, by tinkering and thinking long and hard and with focus on or about something.
So many folks had day jobs that had little to nothing to do with their work and the accomplishments they were known for.

Einsteing was technical assistant examiner at the Swiss Patent Office.
Newton was Master of Coin.
Fermat was a lawyer.
Descartes was a soldier and then lived off investments
Mendel was a priest
Hooke was an architect
Da Vinci was forever doing stuff for various dukes and Popes and it’s a wonder, he found time for Maths and all the other revolutionary stuff he penned down.

Which then led me to thinking … they must have worked in their spare time to do this. It must have tested their will. And it must have been hard.

“I have used the involuntary house arrest around Easter to solve the equation”

Schrödinger, on the degree of concentration he needed in order to solve an equation relating to Einstein's general relativity

Which led me to wonder …
What kept them going?
They must have has some quality that contributed to these towering feats of mental acuity.

And then it struck me, what Cal Newport was banging on about with his idea of Deep Work.

Theirs was an age of Willpower!
They were masters of the skill.
That was my secondary observation from the book.

“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.”

— Charles Darwin

Forget the geniuses, even amongst Freud’s ordinary patients

The Victorian middle-class citizens … had intensely strong wills, making it difficult for therapists to break through their ironclad defenses and their sense of what was right and wrong.

So I’m off, to build willpower, like Calvin does. (as did his old original)

P.S.
Orthogonally related: Just ran into this post on Shane’s blog.


Writing Day 21 – Notes on Willpower

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Started: 2018-05-14
Finished: 2018-05-14

Willpower is like a muscle.

There’s only so much of it that you can use if you don’t train it.
And it gets tired and depleted of its energy reserves, if you just use it rashly.

You need to train it, bulk it up and make it strong so that you can then use it to create change.

As Baumeister states in the conclusion of the book,

Self-control is ultimately about much more than self-help.
It’s essential for savoring your time on earth and sharing joy with the people you love.
People with stronger willpower are more altruistic.
They’re more likely to donate to charity, to do volunteer work, and to offer their own homes as shelter to someone with no place to go.
Willpower evolved because it was crucial for our ancestors to get along with the rest of the clan, and it’s still serving that purpose today.
Inner discipline still leads to outer kindness.

Notes from the book

Willpower 101, First Lesson: Know Your Limits

No matter what you want to achieve, playing offense begins by recognizing two basic lessons
1. Your supply of willpower is limited, and
2. you use the same resource for many different things.

Watch for Symptoms

Do things seem to bother you more than they should? Has the volume somehow been turned up on your life so that things are felt more strongly than usual? Is it suddenly hard to make up your mind about even simple things?
If you notice such feelings, then reflect on the last few hours and see if it seems likely that you have depleted your willpower.

While you’re depleted, frustrations will bother you more than usual. You’ll be more prone to say something you’ll regret.
Impulses to eat, drink, spend, or do other things will be harder than usual to resist.

Pick Your Battles

You can’t control or even predict the stresses that come into your life, but you can use the calm periods, or at least the peaceful moments, to plan an offence.

When you pick your battles, look beyond the immediate challenges and put your life in perspective.
Are you where you want to be? What could be better? What can you do about it?
You can’t do this every day, of course, and certainly not during busy, stressful times, but you can set aside at least one day a year—maybe your birthday—to do some reflection and write down notes on how well you spent the previous year.
If you make this an annual ritual, you can look back over the notes from previous years to see what kinds of progress you’ve made in the past: which goals were met, which goals remain, which ones are hopeless.

Tactics

  • Make a To-Do List—or at Least a To-Don’t List

    • Write & Prioritise stuff
  • Beware the Planning Fallacy

    • When was the last time you heard of a highway or building being completed six months early? Late and over budget is the norm. One way to avoid the planning fallacy is to force yourself to think about your past.
  • Don’t Forget the Basics

    • While cutbacks might seem a fair price to pay in order to channel all you energies into preparing for exams, In the long run, slovenliness can leave you with less energy—and fewer healthy relationships.
      Self-control will be most effective if you take good basic care of your body, starting with diet and sleep.
  • Use The Power of Positive Procrastination (like The Nothing Alternative)

    • Do what Raymond Chandler did to write his books. Use the Nothing Alternative; a marvelously simple tool against procrastination for just about any kind of task.
      Set aside time to do one and only one thing. You can look out of the window or stand on your head or writhe on the floor, but you are not to do any other positive thing.
      You might, for instance, resolve to start your day with ninety minutes devoted to your most important goal, with no interruptions from e-mail or phone calls, no side excursions anywhere on the Web.
  • Keep Track

    • Besides offering immediate encouragement, monitoring lets you improve your long-term planning. If you keep records, you can periodically check how far you’ve come so that you can set more realistic goals for the future.
  • Reward Often

    • When you set a goal, set a reward for reaching it—and then don’t stiff yourself. If you just use willpower to deny yourself things, it becomes a grim, thankless form of defense. But when you use it to gain something, you can wring pleasure out of the dreariest tasks. We’ve criticized the everybody-gets-a-trophy philosophy of the self-esteem movement, but trophies for genuine accomplishments are fine.
      Which incentives work? A mix of frequent small prizes with occasional big ones.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mummy!

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A day late, but Happy Mother’s day Mummy!
Aunty L made me forget yesterday :)
Better late than never though!

I could not have asked God for a better mummy than you!
We love you for all you are and all you do!