Incoming WE 2024-07-13

Links and posts


  • Maggie Appleton paints a vivid picture of the possibilities that LLM’s open up for non-professional developers to create software tools for their own problems in Home Cooked Software and Barefoot Developers. This resonates strongly with my hope for change in the local community through locally focused efforts, echoes what Kentaro Toyama spoke about in this Technology Myths section of the [[Podcast – Work for Humans – Kentaro Toyama – Confronting Techno-optimism | podcast on Work for Humans]]
  • Email like a boss – choices of words to use
  • Richard Merrick’s reflections of the week include a brief riff on limits, and what they mean. Worth a ponder on this topic of limits or constraints.
  • and the team behind it are worth a gander?
  • Tracy Durnell on Finding Common Ground.


  • Erick Nehrlich: What are the daily habits that lead to better long-term decisions? Unlike software engineering where you can write, deploy and test code nearly instantly, leadership choices don’t afford the same feedback time.

  • Ewan McIntosh: The story they tell isn’t what you told them.. Quoting GB Shaw, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." Comprehension is important than saying the right words, applies in the family and personal context as much as in the professional one.

  • Margaret Wheatley: Understanding organisations as living systems I had flashbacks of the ‘learning’ system I created (the talks). This sentence, in particular, is an astute description of what I attempted to do: To truly understand an organization as a living system, we need to determine what the system finds meaningful. One way to do this is to think of our “interventions” as indications of what the system notices. This method can reveal a lot about what is going on inside the system—what motivates and inspires it, and how information moves through it.

  • What to the slave is the Fourth of July? Frederick Douglass’s speech that I’d never known about until today. Have put it on my "to listen" list, because David W Blight’s persuasive explanation why this speech is such a masterpiece


  • Darius Foroux has a point of view on how to design a life that gives you freedom. Define YOUR concept of freedom (financial, time, emotional, physical), pick your freedom model (business, real estate, stocks, career), set your expectations (5 years? a decade?), and have extreme discipline (easier said than done, especially if you’re worried about the next meal or rent cheque, a scenario I suspect the author has never had to worry about).
  • David Cain from Sequoia on the revenue from AI But we need to make sure not to believe in the delusion that has now spread from Silicon Valley to the rest of the country, and indeed the world. That delusion says that we’re all going to get rich quick, because AGI is coming tomorrow, and we all need to stockpile the only valuable resource, which is GPUs.
  • Mark Cruth of Atlassian shared this EOFY reflection/self-assessment. It felt almost like he knew


  • Ryan Holiday: This is why you don’t want to tell yourself stories We must resist the impulse to reverse engineer success from our understanding of other people’s stories. When we achieve our own, we must resist the desire to pretend that everything unfolded exactly as we’d planned. There was no grand narrative. You should remember—you were there when it happened.



New words:

Unctuous: Excessively flattering or ingratiating, oily, having a greasy feel


The artist and the entrepreneur find their authentic selves not by who they love or hate, or what they believe, or what feats they perform…(they) discover themselves by what they create. They don’t know before they create it.
-Steven Pressfield

How can you combine your strength? That’s something I would encourage everyone to think about. You will find talented people in every area of life. It’s the combinations that are rare."
– James Clear

"In every challenge or even tragedy, there is an opportunity. And if you train yourself to look for the opportunity, you will be able to take control of the situation and even turn it into a positive or if it can’t be turned into something good, at least something good could come out of it."
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Just because it feels easy at first doesn’t mean that it’s a worthwhile career path.
–Seth Godin, Kazoo lessons

My Greek friend declared, “I don’t worry about what most people think. Most people don’t think, at least not reflectively. And when they do think, they think mostly about themselves, not about me. Besides, you cannot ever know what other people really think – and you cannot trust them to tell you the whole truth if asked – we have many reasons to edit our thoughts for public consumption. Moreover, my own thinking is often so contradictory or confused or in flux that even I can’t say what I really think.”
–From a post by Robert Fulghum

"Against criticism we can neither protect nor defend ourselves; we must act in despite of it, and gradually it resigns itself to this."

2024-05-30 Links

Daily Reads:

I re-listened to Esther Perel and Trevor Noah conversation "Sex, Comedy and Context". They’re both splendid interviewers. I hear it in their voices, how they inflect and echo each other. The imagery I had most of the time was two graceful dancers bringing each others talents to life. Sometimes, it was two fencers – I don’t know the precise language of fencing for analogy but balestra sounds right for now – making a fast jump forwards to make a point, then back to dancing. Noah’s ‘huh’ when he’s impressed, Perel’s silence when she wants Noah to elaborate, helping each other peel the layers off their ideas… it is an exemplar to learn from.

On Hidden Brain’s Innovation 2.0 series, Leidy Klotz talks about doing less. Companies reward the idea of doing more – more people to manage, more projects under supervision etc… – but innovation comes often from doing less. There may be fewer artefacts to show for this effort to reduce, but simplifying is a life principle that both Stoics and good engineers seem to have in common.

Deirdre Cerminaro on Dart Lindsley’s podcast Work for Humans made several observations that took my breath away. She’s taken a few months off from work to design her own life. She brings human centred design and systems thinking together, with the idea that practitioners of either disciplines can learn problem solving with the tools and techniques of the other.


We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.
-Walker Percy, author


Muddy Waters sings the Bus Driver blues 😆

2024-05-27 Links

Daily Reads:

Gaping Void: Filling the narrative gapsStories are life with all the boring bits taken out

The Bell Mason Diagnostic in Steve Blank’s obituary for Gordon Bell

Two podcasts during my gym workout today: Trevor Noah in conversation with Esther Perel (Sex, Comedy & Context), and Cal Fussman interviews the brothers Jacobs (Bert and Johnny) who built a $100m business selling t-shirts with optimistic messages. There was a common theme in both these conversations about the power of listening, observing, and creating change.


Life is like a library owned by an author. In it are a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.
-Harry Emerson Fosdick, preacher and author


The Vaudevillian: They Caught Us Doin’ It

2024-05-05 Links

My online reading consumption dropped significantly the last few weeks. I drifted towards listening to podcasts while doing other things but that also meant I kept no daily notes or record. I’m going to try pacing myself and sharing at least one piece of content that resonated strongly with me, in whatever form I consumed it in.

For now, a link dump of everything I’ve consumed over the course of this last week, and maybe a few days prior too..

Link dump:

The articles I read this week that caught my attention are in [[2024-05-04 | yesterday’s]] incoming.

  • Bruce Schneier: The Rise of Large Language Model Optimisation. There’s also a more fundamental issue here that gets back to the reason we create: to communicate with other people. Being paid for one’s work is of course important. But many of the best works—whether a thought-provoking essay, a bizarre TikTok video, or meticulous hiking directions—are motivated by the desire to connect with a human audience, to have an effect on others.

  • Richard Merrick: Harnessing our inner dolphins

  • Tracy Durnell, commenting on Ed Yong’s post on birding in the New Yorker: I endorse the perspective that doing things that enliven you is important, even if no one else sees them as productive.

  • Zach Seward: AI is not a person Anthropomorphizing AI not only misleads, but suggests we are on equal footing with, even subservient to, this technology, and there’s nothing we can do about it. You see it all the time in headlines that proclaim what AI is "coming for" next: musicians, fortune cookies, your children.

  • Two links from Gaping Void: In All Contracts are Psychological has the story of [[Ben Franklin]] getting the US what it wanted. In Find Your Art, an astute observation, and a call to action: Find your Art. Do more of it.

  • Ryan Holiday: The accomplishment that matters most At the end of your career and your life, you’re going to look back and be proud of your accomplishments. If these were achieved selfishly or solitarily though, it will seem empty and sad. At the end, you’ll be thinking about people. You’re going to think about what your kids have been able to do. You’ll be just as proud of what other people have done, what you’ve been a part of and connected to.

  • I missed reading Gary Klein’s touching note on Daniel Kahneman. I am inspired by the whole process of adversarial collaboration. In contrast to Socrates’s enduring influence—he attempted to demean and expose his debate adversaries—Danny took the opposite stance, a generous stance of trying to learn and make discoveries together. For me, Danny is a far superior role model for philosophical debate than Socrates.


The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
-Niccolo Machiavelli


Richard Smith performing at Frank & Syvlie’s House Concert

2024-04-23 Links

Daily Reads:

Lightning Pathologist, a series that was referred to in Marc Abrams missive today, including a story about the autopsy of a man who was wearing 23 layers of clothing when he died "It took longer to take off his clothes than to perform the autopsy". It got me curious enough to save to watch later.

Ewan McIntosh describes the most beautiful world in the school. Probably. "The day we look like other schools, we close". Feels like there’s a lot to learn from that philosophy.

HT Nitin Khanna who pointed to the Tasks plugin in Obsidian’s community plugins in his post "My Obisidian Setup". I use many of the plugins and can attest to their utility in my own workflow. The Tasks plugin showed me that I have 1024 undone tasks, so I’m clearly either not doing stuff, or using the - [] feature incorrectly or both.

Paul Ford, in Wired: To Own the Future, Read Shakespeare, which to me is the QOTD too.


All you have to do is look at a tree—any tree will do—to see how badly our disciplines serve us. Evolutionary theory, botany, geography, physics, hydrology, countless poems, paintings, essays, and stories—all trying to make sense of the tree. We need them all, the whole fragile, interdependent ecosystem. No one has got it right yet.
-Paul Ford, writing in Wired, on being interdisciplinary.


Sheku Kenneh-Mason performs Elgar

2024-04-22 Links

Daily Reads:

I’ve been on a binge watch of Zsolt V’s Personal Knowledge Management YouTube series. He’s the developer integrating the fantastic Excalidraw tool into Obsidian. Of more interest to me has been his philosophy around how he made the tools and now the tools are making him.

The videos have jolted (pun intended) me into taking some action. The reminder about Richard Feynman’s 12 favourite problems for example got me writing out my own areas of interest, and how I could possibly turn them into open ended questions that circumscribe my crazy reading habits into something more focused. I’ve toyed with the idea of a visual + textual note taking for a long time, and the latest videos from both Zsolt and Nicole van her Hoeven on the topic got me taking the first step in making it work, at least within my Obsidian vault.

Not much else being read 🙂


The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.
-Madame de Stael, writer (22 Apr 1766-1817)


Glenn Campbell – Gentle on my mind with an alternate guitar solo.

2024-04-21 Links

Daily Reads:

List of sites that may help in any job hunt

Derek Thompson in the Atlantic: the 67 hour rule. The average workweek for American households seems to have held steady at 67 hours – over the last 120 years!


Reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.
-Josh Billings, columnist and humorist


Josh Turner: Red’s Favourite – Bert Jansch & John Renbourn. This young man is unreal in his talent, and I’m glad to have discovered his work.

2024-04-20 Links

Daily Reads:

Modern Git Commands. I moved my Obsidian vault out of iCloud to a local drive, after a week or more of slow or non-performance . I used to back up the vault to a git repository but moving the vault to a local drive messed something up. I wish I had this resource before I needed it. I ended up creating a new repository and starting all over, which in this case was the cleanest & quickest fix (that I know), but it won’t be always.

Mandy Brown What You See OMG! Inattentional Blindness. Curiosity. Feedback. So much goodness in this post.

Bob Ewing: How to replace your anxiety with awe.

Seth Godin: ChatGPT is dumber than it looks I’ve not used Generative AI tools in a few weeks now. Some of my trusted friends who are far more informed tell me that it feels like the firehose of new-ness in this world is exhausting them too. Seth’s final suggestion to using AI made me laugh out loud: Take advantage of the fact that it doesn’t have feelings, and use its honesty to get useful feedback.

Bob Ewing channeling Ethan Mollick in "The Best Way to Remember What You Learn"


Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
-Fred Brooks


Rex Holman – Red is the Apple

2024-04-19 Links

Daily Reads:

Bartleby in the Economist: Productivity Gurus Through Time compares James Clear and Arnold Bennett, separated by about a century.


"Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible."

  • C. S. Lewis


The Poor Clares Of Arundel: My Peace I Give You

2024-04-18 Links

Daily Reads:

Molly White: AI Isn’t UselessI’m glad that I took the time to experiment with AI tools, both because I understand them better and because I have found them to be useful in my day-to-day life. But even as someone who has used them and found them helpful, it’s remarkable to see the gap between what they can do and what their promoters promise they will someday be able to do. The benefits, though extant, seem to pale in comparison to the costs.


Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.
-Clarence Darrow, lawyer and author (18 Apr 1857-1938)


Mark Knopfler: One Deep River, the album