The Mihir Chronicles

On Links

January 01, 2015


Internet has a lot of amazing gems. My list of articles to read and videos to watch has grown significantly. This is my repository of links that should be re-visited. Consider this as a public bookmark.

  • David Goggins - How To Master Your Life on Modern Wisdom: This is the best interview. An exception human being. David Goggins is the best example of what happens when you start to listen to yourself! I am overwhelmed by his insights and his mindset. A spectacular conversation I'll keep coming back to. You got to go back to the beast and face demons. You're going to experience involuntary hardships in life, so might as well prepare by experiencing voluntary hardships. We are training kids and people to be soft, in a world that continuously gets harder. You're thinking about what you could've been. I am exactly what I should've been! You'll never meet a hater that's better than you. They are suffering because they are thinking where they could've been. I am exactly where I should've been. When you go to war with yourself, you find a lot of peace. Never be ashamed of anything you've done in your life. Face it, fix it, make it better. Your purpose is you. Don't let your dreams become your master. The growth is not in these massive corporate paychecks, but in these $14-$15/hour. What you resist, persists. What you fight, you get more of. What you embrace, dissolves. Mental toughness is a perishable skill.
  • How To Do Great Work by Paul Graham: Paul Graham did it again! What a great essay on doing great work....The way to figure out what to work on is by working. If you're not sure what to work on, guess. But pick something and get going....- You need to make yourself a big target for luck, and the way to do that is to be curious. Try lots of things, meet lots of people, read lots of books, ask lots of questions....I think for most people who want to do great work, the right strategy is not to plan too much. At each stage do whatever seems most interesting and gives you the best options for the future. I call this approach "staying upwind." This is how most people who've done great work seem to have done it....Work has a sort of activation energy, both per day and per project. And since this threshold is fake in the sense that it's higher than the energy required to keep going, it's ok to tell yourself a lie of corresponding magnitude to get over it....The core of being earnest is being intellectually honest. We're taught as children to be honest as an unselfish virtue — as a kind of sacrifice. But in fact it's a source of power too. To see new ideas, you need an exceptionally sharp eye for the truth. You're trying to see more truth than others have seen so far. And how can you have a sharp eye for the truth if you're intellectually dishonest?....Nerds have a kind of innocent boldness that's exactly what you need in doing great work. It's not learned; it's preserved from childhood. So hold onto it. Be the one who puts things out there rather than the one who sits back and offers sophisticated-sounding criticisms of them. "It's easy to criticize" is true in the most literal sense, and the route to great work is never easy....Original ideas don't come from trying to have original ideas. They come from trying to build or understand something slightly too difficult....The discoveries are out there, waiting to be made. Why not by you?
  • Jony Ive Interview by Micknsey: Learning is really important. If you’re not curious, if being right is more important than learning, you’re going to have a very hard time building and maintaining any sort of momentum....One of the benefits of working closely with a large number of people who are curious is that you learn as a community. There’s this incredible power when you discover and learn together. At the end of a group project, I look at two things: I look at what we made, but far more important, I look at what we learned. If you’re not just going in and out, if you’ve really committed to a relationship, what we’ve learned is obviously far, far more important....To make that idea material and relevant, they need to work with a collection of people. But the nature of ideas and the creative process is so particular and unusual. It’s an activity that doesn’t naturally or easily sit within a large group of people. When you gather a large group of people, they generally want to be able to relate to one another and to be sociable. But any process that is unpredictable does not sit comfortably or naturally in a large group setting. So people come to value activities that are predictable....The difference between an idea and a product is that you’ve solved the problems. When someone says to me, “Well, you can’t do this for these reasons,” all it means is that there are problems to be solved. If they can be solved, the idea transitions into becoming a thing. If they can’t, it remains an idea....Sometimes the idea implicates or requires innovation that’s broader than the product, as in a system. But other times, it doesn’t. It’s very specific to the task. All I care about is trying to honor the species, trying to make things better. That’s what I care about. That’s something you cannot measure with a number, and you certainly can’t measure it with sales. It’s a really tough one to apply a metric to. But it’s very clear in my own head.
  • Jim Carrey at MIU, Commencement Address at the 2014 Graduation: Life doesn’t happen to you. It happens for you. How do I know this? I don’t, but I’m making sound and that’s the important thing....Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world....There is a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that is going to eat you....That’s what I’m here to do. Reminding each other that we’re part of a larger self. I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was. Just a flickering light, a dancing shadow. The great nothing masquerading as something you can name, seeking shelter in caves and foxholes dug out hastily. An archer searching for his target in the mirror, wounded only by my own arrows. Begging to be enslaved, leading for my chains. Blinded by longing and tripping over paradise. You didn’t think I could be serious, did you? I don’t think you understand who you’re dealing with. I have no limits. I cannot be contained because I’m the container. You can’t contain the container, man. You can’t contain the container. I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation. And though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, it was after all a loner and would have to be returned. Then I learned that everything outside the vehicle was part of me too, and now I drive a convertible. Top down, wind in my hair....No doubt some of you will turn out to be crooks, but white collar stuff. You know, Wall Street, that type of thing. Crimes committed by people with self-esteem. Stuff parents can still be proud of in a weird way....You are the vanguard of knowledge and consciousness, a new wave in a vast ocean of possibilities. On the other side of that door, there’s a world starving for new ideas, new leadership. I’ve been out there for 30 years. She’s a wild cat. She’ll rub up against your leg and purr until you pick her up and start petting her. And then out of nowhere, she’ll swat you in the face. It can be rough out there, but that’s okay because there’s soft serve ice cream with sprinkles. I guess that’s what I’m really trying to say here today. Sometimes it’s okay to eat your feelings. Now fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect. So we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it. Please. And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order. Party size....You can fail at what you don't want. You might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
  • What Is ChatGPT Doing ... And Why Does It Work? by Stephen Wolfram: The basic concept of ChatGPT is at some level rather simple. Start from a huge sample of human-created text from the web, books, etc. Then train a neural net to generate text that’s “like this”. And in particular, make it able to start from a “prompt” and then continue with text that’s “like what it’s been trained with”. As we’ve seen, the actual neural net in ChatGPT is made up of very simple elements—though billions of them. And the basic operation of the neural net is also very simple, consisting essentially of passing input derived from the text it’s generated so far “once through its elements” (without any loops, etc.) for every new word (or part of a word) that it generates. The specific engineering of ChatGPT has made it quite compelling. But ultimately (at least until it can use outside tools) ChatGPT is “merely” pulling out some “coherent thread of text” from the “statistics of conventional wisdom” that it’s accumulated. But it’s amazing how human-like the results are. And as I’ve discussed, this suggests something that’s at least scientifically very important: that human language (and the patterns of thinking behind it) are somehow simpler and more “law like” in their structure than we thought. ChatGPT has implicitly discovered it. But we can potentially explicitly expose it, with semantic grammar, computational language, etc.
  • Geeks, MOPs, and Sociopaths In Subculture Evolution by David Chapman: Before there is a subculture, there is a scene. A scene is a small group of creators who invent an exciting New Thing—a musical genre, a religious sect, a film animation technique, a political theory. Riffing off each other, they produce examples and variants, and share them for mutual enjoyment, generating positive energy. The new scene draws fanatics. Fanatics don’t create, but they contribute energy (time, money, adulation, organization, analysis) to support the creators. Creators and fanatics are both geeks. They totally love the New Thing, they’re fascinated with all its esoteric ins and outs, and they spend all available time either doing it or talking about it. If the scene is sufficiently geeky, it remains a strictly geek thing; a weird hobby, not a subculture. If the scene is unusually exciting, and the New Thing can be appreciated without having to get utterly geeky about details, it draws mops. Mops are fans, but not rabid fans like the fanatics. They show up to have a good time, and contribute as little as they reasonably can in exchange.
  • Childhoods Of Exceptional People by Henrik Karlsson: Let’s start with one of those insights that are as obvious as they are easy to forget: if you want to master something, you should study the highest achievements of your field. If you want to learn writing, read great writers, etc. But this is not what parents usually do when they think about how to educate their kids. The default for a parent is rather to imitate their peers and outsource the big decisions to bureaucracies. But what would we learn if we studied the highest achievements? These naked apes, the humans, are intensely social animals. They obsessively internalize values, ideas, skills, and desires from the people who surround them. It is therefore not surprising that those who grow up to be exceptional tend to have spent their formative years surrounded by adults who were exceptional. Unstructured time to be bored, dedicated, intensive 1-1 tutoring, access to intellectual circles, the concept of a parent as mentor—these make up the childhoods of exceptional people, from Virgina Woolf to Alan Turing, Bertrand Russell to Marie Curie. For parents raising children today, here’s what you can do: learn to foster a “cognitive apprenticeship.” Give your children access to observe you and other people at work. Model patterns of reasoning by thinking out loud, coach, give feedback. Treat your children as capable of competence, as craving meaningful work. For the rest of us who are still raising ourselves (remember our inner child?), you can do it yourself, too: Read books, teach yourself, then reach out to exceptional people and convince them to bring you into their milieu. Books can, in other words, be a good stand-in for a social milieu, up to a point, but eventually, you need direct access to exceptional people. And having access to them from a young age greatly increases the likelihood that you will be shaped by them. A lot of care went into curating the environment around the children—fascinating guests were invited, libraries were built, machines were brought home and disassembled—but the children were left with a lot of time to freely explore the interests that arose within these milieus....Unlike children today, they had little access to entertainment, and so were often bored, unless they figured out a way to keep their minds occupied; the intellectual obsessions that grew into their life’s work often grew out of this boredom. At this point, they were not only learning, but also doing real intellectual work.
  • The Idea Trap by Bryan Caplan (2004): Good ideas lead to good policy, good policy leads to good growth, and good growth reinforces good ideas. The bad news is that you can also get mired in the opposite outcome. A society can get stuck in an “idea trap,” where bad ideas lead to bad policy, bad policy leads to bad growth, and bad growth cements bad ideas. The connection between growth and ideas is not so much logical as psychological. It is not logical for people to embrace counter-productive ideas just because conditions are getting worse, but they seem to do it anyway. Perhaps the best explanation is that the public relies on a military metaphor: You should avoid aggressive government intervention in good times, but during a crisis, you need to teach your enemies a lesson, not waste time soul-searching about how you provoked them. During hyperinflations, for example, people are more likely to lash out at scapegoats—speculators and black marketeers—than to blame runaway monetary policy.
  • John Mayer's Interview on Apple Music: This John Mayer interview is a huge gem on defining the craft and how social plays a role. “I was saying even Instagram is getting a little rough for me because it's the one thing I was saying social media has a problem with us like redundancy and we have a problem accounting for seeing one person's ambition but multiplied by a hundred every morning oh dude it is like the most beautiful and toxic experience to be drawn into other people's lives and yet constantly have it reflect on your own sense that achievement it is a very dangerous dance...The one thing that motivation, as I see it now is missing (on social media), the one strain. It's the only thing it's missing is the self reflection as to whether or not you're any good at the thing. Like I'm seeing a lot of motivation (on social media) about you following your passion, but I'm not seeing any critical thought to what that is or how to be better at that. So really, the product is passion. And that's strange to me. Because my product growing up was sitting in a room for six hours a day...But you can have it right now. So this is why it works for everybody; the person looking in on the Instagram can get something right now and the person sharing the motivation can get something right now.”
  • Address At The Sorbonne In Paris, France: “Citizenship In A Republic” by Theodore Roosevelt: This speech is often referred to as “The Man in the Arena” speech given by Teddy Roosevelt in 1910. “A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities—all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority, but of weakness...It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat...In short, the good citizen in a republic must realize that they ought to possess two sets of qualities, and that neither avails without the other. He must have those qualities which make for efficiency; and he also must have those qualities which direct the efficiency into channels for the public good. He is useless if he is inefficient. There is nothing to be done with that type of citizen of whom all that can be said is that he is harmless. Virtue which is dependent upon a sluggish circulation is not impressive. There is little place in active life for the timid good man. The man who is saved by weakness from robust wickedness is likewise rendered immune from robuster virtues. The good citizen in a republic must first of all be able to hold his own. He is no good citizen unless he has the ability which will make him work hard and which at need will make him fight hard. The good citizen is not a good citizen unless he is an efficient citizen. But if a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships those qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty...We can just as little afford to follow the doctrinaires of an extreme individualism as the doctrinaires of an extreme socialism...The gravest wrong upon his country is inflicted by that man, whatever his station, who seeks to make his countrymen divide primarily in the line that separates class from class, occupation from occupation, men of more wealth from men of less wealth, instead of remembering that the only safe standard is that which judges each man on his worth as a man, whether he be rich or whether he be poor, without regard to his profession or to his station in life. Such is the only true democratic test, the only test that can with propriety be applied in a republic. There have been many republics in the past, both in what we call antiquity and in what we call the Middle Ages. They fell, and the prime factor in their fall was the fact that the parties tended to divide along the line that separates wealth from poverty. It made no difference which side was successful; it made no difference whether the republic fell under the rule of an oligarchy or the rule of a mob. In either case, when once loyalty to a class had been substituted for loyalty to the republic, the end of the republic was at hand. There is no greater need to-day than the need to keep ever in mind the fact that the cleavage between right and wrong, between good citizenship and bad citizenship, runs at right angles to, and not parallel with, the lines of cleavage between class and class, between occupation and occupation. Ruin looks us in the face if we judge a man by his position instead of judging him by his conduct in that position. In a republic, to be successful we must learn to combine intensity of conviction with a broad tolerance of difference of conviction. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.”
  • Why the Past 10 Years Of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid by Jonathan Haidt: This is a great piece on what is happening in America. “We Americans are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth.” “We are cut off from one another and from the past. It’s been clear for quite a while now that red America and blue America are becoming like two different countries claiming the same territory, with two different versions of the Constitution, economics, and American history. Babel is not a story about tribalism; it’s a story about the fragmentation of everything. It’s about the shattering of all that had seemed solid, the scattering of people who had been a community. It’s a metaphor for what is happening not only between red and blue, but within the left and within the right, as well as within universities, companies, professional associations, museums, and even families. There is a direction to history and it is toward cooperation at larger scales. We see this trend in biological evolution. We see it in cultural evolution too.”
  • The Multidisciplinary Approach To Thinking by Peter Kaufman: Another great take on how to use multidisciplinary approach to make sense of the world. “So why is it important to be a multidisciplinary thinker? The answer comes from the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who said, “To understand is to know what to do.” Could there be anything that sounds simpler than that? And yet it’s a genius line to understand is to know what to do.” How many mistakes do you make when you understand something? You don’t make any mistakes. Where do mistakes come from? They come from blind spots, a lack of understanding. Why do you need to be multidisciplinary in your thinking? Because as the Japanese proverb says, “The frog in the well knows nothing of the mighty ocean.” You may know everything there is to know about your specialty, your silo, your “well,” but how are you going to make any good decisions in life—the complex systems of life, the dynamic system of life—if all you know is one well?”
  • Finance As Culture by John Luttig: This is a beautiful write-up on how finance is influencing our society. “But financialization is no longer purely institutional; it has seeped into our culture. A combination of low interest rates, a historic tech bull run, and the resulting torrent of fomo has tethered us to our monitors to watch candlestick charts. The financialization of culture has manifested in two primary ways: lottery culture and equity culture.”
  • How to Think for Yourself by Paul Graham: Paul Graham on how to think. “To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be correct. Your ideas have to be both correct and novel. You can't publish papers saying things other people already know. You need to say things no one else has realized yet.” “Because the components of independent-mindedness are so interchangeable, you can have them to varying degrees and still get the same result. So there is not just a single model of independent-mindedness.” “There are intellectual fashions in every field, but their influence varies.” “The conventional-minded are often fooled by the strength of their opinions into believing that they're independent-minded. But strong convictions are not a sign of independent-mindedness. Rather the opposite.”
  • Beyond Smart by Paul Graham: Paul Graham argues there is more than just intelligence. “If you asked people what was special about Einstein, most would say that he was really smart. What was special about him was that he had important new ideas. Being very smart was a necessary precondition for having those ideas, but the two are not identical.” “Another quality you need in order to discover new ideas is independent-mindedness. I wouldn't want to claim that this is distinct from intelligence — I'd be reluctant to call someone smart who wasn't independent-minded — but though largely inborn, this quality seems to be something that can be cultivated to some extent.” “One of the most surprising ingredients in having new ideas is writing ability. There's a class of new ideas that are best discovered by writing essays and books. And that "by" is deliberate: you don't think of the ideas first, and then merely write them down. There is a kind of thinking that one does by writing, and if you're clumsy at writing, or don't enjoy doing it, that will get in your way if you try to do this kind of thinking.”
  • Bill Gates' New Rules: An insightful take from Gates on the function of digital age and how business in the 21st century would operate. “To function in the digital age, we have developed a new digital infrastructure. It's like the human nervous system. Companies need to have that same kind of nervous system--the ability to run smoothly and efficiently, to respond quickly to emergencies and opportunities, to quickly get valuable information to the people in the company who need it, the ability to quickly make decisions and interact with customers.”
  • The Arc of the Practical Creator by Lawrence Yeo: I love reading Lawrence Yeo's essays. They are heavy on wisdom and easy to cruise through. “A big part of the creative journey is understanding that there is no finish line. Even if you reach the heights of success, you know that there is still more room to grow. That’s because your potential is not actualized through people telling you that it is. It can only be actualized through an internal commitment to improvement, which is perpetual because we humans have the ability to recognize our inherent flaws. The key is to divorce the allure of external validation from the commitment to internal growth. That no amount of money or praise is a signal that you’ve reached the promised land. That so much of what makes the creative journey fulfilling is humility, and that embracing uncertainty is what allows you to forge onward. This leads to a final paradox that a successful Practical Creator must navigate. On one hand, you must continuously view your endeavor through the mind of a beginner. But on the other, you want to leverage the hard-earned wisdom you’ve picked up through years of experience. In this final stage of the arc, grow your curiosities, but preserve your attention.”
  • The Mother of All Demos by Douglas Engelbart (1968): The Mother of All Demos is a name given retrospectively to Douglas Engelbart's December 9, 1968, demonstration of experimental computer technologies that are now commonplace. The live demonstration featured the introduction of the computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing, hypermedia, object addressing and dynamic file linking, bootstrapping, and a collaborative real-time editor. This whole video gives you goosebumps because how unimaginable it was in the moment but monumental for future generations. Incredibly revolutionary. Incredibly revolutionary in retrospect.
  • 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known by Kevin Kelly: Kevin Kelly is still kicking it on the internet. He turned 70 and dropped several gems he has learned over his lifespan. He is such a genuine and fun creative soul.
  • Why Life Can’t Be Simpler by Shane Parrish: Complexity is everywhere and if something is too simple then complexity is stored somewhere where no one can see. Hiding complexity does not make the system efficient. “If we accept that complexity is a constant, we need to always be mindful of who is bearing the burden of that complexity.”
  • Make Good Art | Commencement Speech At The University Of The Arts 2012 by Neil Gaiman: What a great speech. It will lift your creative confidence and give you forward momentum. One of my top 10 commencement speeches. “The Moment you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your art and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself, that is the moment that you may be starting to get it right.”
  • Milton Friedman Speaks: Money and Inflation: How can an economist be so cool? Milton Friedman is a brilliant economist who explains how inflation, taxes and policies work. A great lecture on understanding our current dynamics of our monetary and fiscal state. He explains inflation is the tax we pay for our unmet debts. He further explains it is a self-imposed disease. A must listen!
  • Theo van Gogh letter to his brother: A fascinating masterpiece by Van Gogh. I loved this letter so much! It is fascinating preview of how Van Gogh thought about the world around him. The letter illustrates the mindset of Van Gogh. He leads with argumentative questions and work backwards to justify his chosen intellectual journey. He describes the importance of independent thinking, giving exploration a space and challenging status quo in a letter to his brother. A must read!
  • David Foster Wallace On Consumerism (2003): Hearing this was profound. "We don't want things to be quite anymore." This left me speechless. "Reading requires sitting alone by yourself in a quiet room and I have friends, intelligent friends, who don't like to read, because they get—it's not just bored—there's an almost dread that comes up, I think, here about having to be alone and having to be quiet." David is brilliant in formulating his thoughts and observing the cracked surfaces in our contemporary culture. The battle of individual sport vs community sport will always remain alive because we are in constant pursuit of happiness which is a fallacy. David embraces humility in his talk and frankly nothing has changed in the last 20 years since his interview. Our desires and our actions are misaligned and the fork is getting wider with every generation.
  • The Midlife Unraveling by Brené Brown: What a wonderful perspective on midlife crisis! Either we resist universal laws or face them. Our relationship with universe is critical in understanding who we are. Our entire mid life is lived based upon our upbringings but we forget to identify ourselves and and our needs. This was really an eye opening piece. Like she says, “Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling.”
  • The Case For Optimism by Kevin Kelly: This was such a great piece on why optimism matters. In order to move civilization forward, civilization requires trust, trust requires optimism and civilization requires optimism. Our ancestors sacrificed so we could have a better future. This spirit of moving forward needs to be passed down to future generations. We should be optimistic not because our problems are smaller than we thought, but because our capacity to solve them is larger than we thought. Optimism yields happier and more resilient people. Bad things happen fast, while good things take longer. Being optimistic puts you in alignment with the long arc of history, and a part of something much bigger than yourself. The reasons for optimism are far greater than pessimism. Then we should remind ourselves that feeling optimistic is a moral obligation.
  • The Age of the Essay by Paul Graham: PG points out that the most obvious difference between real essays and the things one has to write in school is that real essays are not exclusively about English literature. Due to historical events, the teaching of writing has gotten mixed together with the study of literature. If there's one piece of advice I would give about writing essays, it would be: don't do as you're told. Don't believe what you're supposed to. Don't write the essay readers expect; one learns nothing from what one expects. And don't write the way they taught you to in school.
  • What You'll Wish You'd Known by Paul Graham: I wish I would've read this years ago. I love this essay a lot and I agree with what Paul Graham has to share in this article. Staying upwind, working on hard problems and going beyond school to discover fun topics has astronomical career benefits. Math or economics? Math will give you more options over economics. PG uses flying a glider downside vs upwind analogy because glider doesn't have an engine, you can't fly into the wind without losing a lot of altitude. If you let yourself get far downwind of good places to land, your options narrow uncomfortably. As a rule you want to stay upwind. So I propose that as a replacement for "don't give up on your dreams." Math is upwind of economics. But how are you supposed to know that as a high school student? Look for smart people and hard problems; however stay away from fake problems and people. Smart people can pretend to be smart by publishing research papers which can be nonsense. Hard problems means worry. It's exhilarating to overcome worries. When an olympic athlete wins a gold medal, it leads to relief. It's not that bad after all. Diff bw high school students and adults might look like adults have to earn a living. Wrong. It's that adults take responsibility for themselves. Making living is only a small part of it. Far more important is to take intellectual responsibility for oneself.
  • Solitude And Leadership by William Deresiewicz: This essays pushes you to think for yourself. Leadership means thinking and leading others. If you are following the herd of opinions and thoughts, you are not leading, but led. Thinking for yourself means finding yourself, finding your own reality. How can you know that unless you’ve taken counsel with yourself in solitude? I started by noting that solitude and leadership would seem to be contradictory things. But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.
  • A Lesson On Elementary, Worldly Wisdom by Charlie Munger: Charlie Munger is one of the greatest thinkers of our time. There is so much to learn from him and this speech is one of the best on multi-disciplinary thinking. What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head. What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models—because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does. You become the equivalent of a chiropractor who, of course, is the great boob in medicine. And the models have to come from multiple disciplines—because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That’s why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don’t have enough models in their heads. So you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.
  • The Psychology of Human Misjudgment by Charlie Munger: The hallmark of an excellent professional is impeccable judgment, perhaps more so for managers. To make good judgments, one must be cognizant of human tendencies to err in a predictable and systematic way. Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathawa and a long-time partner of Warren Buffett, the world's second richest man after Bill Gates, arrived at 25 psychological tendencies of human misjudgment, which he has presented in lectures at Caltech and Harvard, and is published in a book entitled Poor Charlie's Almanack in a chapter called The Psychology of Human Misjudgment.

  • The Tail End by Tim Urban: If you want to compress your timescale you should check this visually stimulating piece out by Tim Urban. In the end this article made me realize our concept of timing is off and is not what we think it is. It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end. Living in the same place as the people you love matters. Priorities matter. Quality time matters.
  • Google Platforms Rant by Steve Yegge: An engineer's perspective on working at Google vs Amazon. A lot of insights to take away from this rant especially on security vs accessibility. Amazon is what it is today because it got its act together early on due to Bezo's mandate. Like anything else big and important in life, Accessibility has an evil twin who, jilted by the unbalanced affection displayed by their parents in their youth, has grown into an equally powerful Arch-Nemesis (yes, there's more than one nemesis to accessibility) named Security. And boy howdy are the two ever at odds. But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network. The Golden Rule of Platforms, "Eat Your Own Dogfood", can be rephrased as "Start with a Platform, and Then Use it for Everything." You can't just bolt it on later. Certainly not easily at any rate — ask anyone who worked on platformizing MS Office. Or anyone who worked on platformizing Amazon. If you delay it, it'll be ten times as much work as just doing it correctly up front. You can't cheat. You can't have secret back doors for internal apps to get special priority access, not for ANY reason. You need to solve the hard problems up front.
  • The Architecture of Tomorrow by Sotonye and Ben Horowitz: This was a great interview given by Ben Horowitz. But I was equally impressed by the questions asked by Sotonye. There were so many takeaways—bits vs atoms, regulations, innovation post-covid, etc. But I couldn't stop thinking about living-in-scarcity vs living-in-abundance. With scarcity mindset, people become haters, and they forget they have so much to contribute, but they forget they can. Martin Luther King Jr. was a contributor and had an abundance mindset. He contributed in big ways. Inspire of so much going against him. People with scarcity mindset are always unhappy. They have so much to share but they think they have very little. If you have to choose between the two, always pick the abundant mindset because that is a much better route.
  • Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love by Bill Gurley: Bill Gurley had many great lessons to share with the world in his talk. He shares the stories of luminaries (Bobby Knight, Bob Dylan, Daniel Meyer, Katrina Lake and Sam Hinkie) and the patterns shared amongst them. These were the three stories I had read them all independently and I noticed that there was a similar strain that was running through each and every one of these stories and so now I've organized five profiles that I want to talk to you about. Life is a use it or lose it proposition.