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Why I use Gender Neutral Pronouns

A young friend of mine had this to say a while back, when I suggested he use gender neutral pronouns in his writing.

the gender thing. I thought a lot about it and came to the conclusion that it is okay to be biased in your writing. Me being a male, it is only natural for me to use 'he' more often than 'she'. But the idea of flipping the roles1 seems interesting :) I'd keep that in mind.

And I don’t know why that bothered me.
Am I imposing my view on a young, impressionable mind by insisting he write a certain way?
Why did I branch out of my normal, grammatical/typo corrections to suggest this?

Then it struck me. Seth Godin, saying, “People like us, do things like this.”
I believe in a certain manner of treating people.
I believe that every one needs to be treated with inclusiveness.
I believe that half of our species has never been treated with the respect they deserve. (and some others have been ruthlessly shunned)
I believe language deepens such prejudice.

And so, this is my little rebellion.
I will do my utmost to treat people with respect.
I use my pronouns so that any thing desirable or powerful or important is not automatically associated with men.
I use my pronouns so that anything associated with grunt work is not just something women do.
I want my language to be as inclusive as possible.
This is my tribe.

This was my realisation and what set me at peace.
Everyone is not like me or shares my views. I should be ever more cognisant of this fact.
I have my tribe of like minded people.
People like me, do things like me :)

As for you, my young friend, I hope to welcome you someday into my tribe!

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  1. The role flipping was another suggestion. Flip genders when describing stuff. A male receptionist. A female surgeon. A male seamstress. A female truck driver. Copied as always, from the always wise Seth 

The Safal Niveshak Wall of Ideas

These weekly posts will slow down until the end af April.
Hard at work, studying for exams.

Link for this week is the Safal Niveshak Wall of Ideas.
Vishal’s little scribbles have been as influential in shaping my ideas and views of the world around (and within) me, as Shane’s Mental Models page.

Each doodle is deceptively simple to read, yet will profoundly affect your life, should you choose to apply its teaching.

My personal favourite is his Reading Spectrum.
But I’m biased. There are a whole lot more that you will find more important or interesting.

Click here, (or the image above) to go see his entire wall of ideas.

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Want to do Great Things?

Then be willing to look like an idiot.

(Claude) Shannon had courage. Who else but a man with almost infinite courage would ever think of averaging over all random codes and expect the average code would be good? He knew what he was doing was important and pursued it intensely. Courage, or confidence, is a property to develop in yourself. Look at your successes, and pay less attention to failures than you are usually advised to do in the expression, “Learn from your mistakes”. While playing chess Shannon would often advance his queen boldly into the fray and say, “I ain’t scaird of nothing”. I learned to repeat it to myself when stuck, and at times it has enabled me to go on to a success. I deliberately copied a part of the style of a great scientist. The courage to continue is essential since great research often has long periods with no success and many discouragements.

From Farnam Street’s article on doing great things.
There’s plenty more to do, than just be willing to look like an idiot though.
Go read the entire article.


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Tim Cook on Computers & AI & the Humanities

Tim Cook’s entire commencement address to the MIT class of 2017 is lovely (with enough fluff), but this is the part that struck a nerve:

Technology is capable of doing great things. But it doesn’t want to do great things. It doesn’t want anything.
That part takes all of us. It takes our values and our commitment to our families and our neighbors and our communities. Our love of beauty and belief that all of our faiths are interconnected. Our decency. Our kindness.

I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans.
I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.
That is what we need you to help us guard against.
Because if science is a search in the darkness, then the humanities are a candle that shows us where we’ve been and the danger that lies ahead.

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Happy Women’s Day!

Like I wrote at the other place,

I’ve been hugged and kissed and kicked,
and taught and influenced and befriended
and loved by so many of you!

I would not be me, if it weren’t for you!

It’s only grown truer with time.
Even more love and gratitude!


Trying to Be Perfect Is a Waste of Time

“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”
— Charlie Munger

That quote opens Shane’s post on the work required to hold an opinion, which remains one of the mental models I use most often.

Which is why I had my ears and my mind open, when Shane began one of his latest posts with,

“Trying to be perfect is a waste of time.”

I’ve inherited dad’s sense of perfectionism, and I always thought that should be something I ought to aspire to, at every skill I attempted to learn.
And for someone to come and say it isn’t so makes me squirm in my head.

But like Anne Lamott writes in Bird by Bird,

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.
I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die.
The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

Shane too, using Taleb-ian ideas of optionality and antifragility makes a wonderful case for why good enough trumps perfect.

The post ends with a swift kick in the rear, to go forth and do …

Don’t be afraid of a challenge.
Don’t be afraid of not being the best.
When you routinely put yourself in situations where you aren’t the most skilled, you learn, you grow, and eventually you adapt.
You build your repertoire of traits and talents, so when change hits you have a wide array of skills.
This flexibility can also give you the confidence to seek change.
The mammal could explore and find new opportunities, but that bird was never going to leave the trees.

Read the whole post here. Will you be as convinced as I?

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