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.

QOTD:

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

Music:

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.

QOTD:

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

Music:

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.

QOTD:

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

Music:

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.

QOTD:

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.

Music:

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 🙂

QOTD:

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)

Music:

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!

QOTD:

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

Music:

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"

QOTD:

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

Music:

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.

QOTD:

"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

Music:

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.

QOTD:

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

Music:

Mark Knopfler: One Deep River, the album

2024-04-15 Links

Daily Reads:

Ewan McIntosh: Design for the trickiest customer on the worst day. Think like an engineer, not like a shrewd accountant. Test the assumptions of what’s being done today.

Colin Newlyn: You are not your job. You are infinitely more than that.

Complement Colin’s post with Stowe Boyd’s "May No New Thing Arise" the executives who are so strongly motivated to undertake change initiatives — because it sends signals of action to shareholders and markets — are unlikely ever to cast themselves as an accounting clerk or an engineer, being made into mincemeat in the grinder of the newest grand change scheme.

QOTD:

Companies do not transform. People do.
-Rishad Tobaccowala

Music:

Mark Knopfler: From the new album One Deep River Tunnel 13. MK has a knack for making history accessible through verse and tune.