A biweekly bookish newsletter pushing you into extraordinary intellectual rabbit holes that will fuel your curiosity, keep your motivation levels high, and inspire you to commit to continuous growth.
Hello and welcome!
After writing a couple of articles last month about how bad social media is - all of them going viral on Hacker News - I wrote another one.
A couple of hours after I hit publish, this new piece was shared by someone and it, again, went viral on Hacker News.
There is something here.
Probably we start to acknowledge more and more that we can use the supercomputers in our pockets for something other than flipping through thousands of posts. Realize that seeing how others are seemingly doing better than us all the time is emotionally taxing.
It's a long post. But I believe it's worth checking (obviously I'm biased).
Also, since there seems to be a high demand for content related to abandoning the virtual life where everything seems perfect - but it only seems perfect. I wanted to ask, would you be interested in a guide, a course of some sort, that will help you rethink the way you use and think about social media?
If so, consider voting using the form here. There is no commitment. The information gathered will simply help me decide on what type of content I should focus more on in the future.
1) Book summaries:
[NEW] Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig: Strange book. But definitely brilliant. The author starts by presenting an ordinary personal story that eventually evolves into something bigger. Something profound. A deep philosophical discussion about doing quality things. While I was reading the book, I found myself staring at the ceiling for most of the time, just thinking about the ideas inside.
If you'd like access to the full summary + the whole library of book summaries on my site consider
becoming a member.
2) Book finds:
Interesting books I recently added to my reading list (and hopefully will read at some point):
All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There by Peter Bevelin: A book about a Seeker who visits the “Library of Wisdom” where he meets another fictitious character, the Librarian, along with Buffett and Munger. The Seeker's goal is to learn how to make better decisions so he can help his children avoid doing the dumb things he has done.
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda: I saw this book on GoodReads and after I read the following quote I immediately added the book to my to-read shelf: "All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use."
The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't by Julia Galef: According to the author, we have a soldier mindset. Or in other words, we are driven to defend the ideas we most want to believe. But if we want to get the most out of life, we should train ourselves to have a scout mindset. Not defend one side of the camp. Rather, to go out, survey the territory, and return with the most accurate map possible.
Interesting words from books and around the web:
Elan (noun): Distinctive and stylish elegance; impulsive, confident ardor.
Ineffable (adjective): Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.
Yugen (Noun): An awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.
4) Great thinkers:
Henri Poincaré was a French mathematician from the 19th century. He is often described as a polymath, and in mathematics as "The Last Universalist". He made contributions to not just mathematics but also mathematical physics celestial mechanics and philosophy.
Big Idea: Chaotic Deterministic System
Poincaré became the first person to discover a chaotic deterministic system.
A deterministic system assumes certainty in all aspects. It's a concept that looks at events isolated from outside forces. Thus, you are able to predict outcomes with precision. For example, imagine a glass placed on a table. You can safely predict the location of the cup when using the deterministic model because you assume that no one will touch it and no outside event will happen - say, an earthquake.
When something is deterministic, you have all the data necessary to predict (determine) the outcome with 100% certainty. However, in the real world, nothing lives in a vacuum. Complete isolation is unrealistic. There are always external forces that will interrupt the system or an object. Therefore, chaotic deterministic system.
This type of thinking is helpful for two reasons: First, it allows you to think whether something is certain (if you do X, will it always lead to Y?). Secondly, if something is not deterministic, it allows you to spot what are the variables that might influence the system and then slightly better calculate the outcome.
This is Water: "There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning, boys. How’s the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes 'What the hell is water?'"
The Reading Obsession: "Did a young Buffett read a lot? Yes, he certainly did. Did he spend all his time churning through annual reports, newspapers, books, and trade journals enough? No. Buffett understood how to balance his stack of reading materials with a solid travel schedule. He did not expect to solve the world’s investment puzzles solely from the comfort of his desk."
6) Worth knowing:
The thinker just mentioned above - Henri Poincaré - laid also the foundations of modern chaos theory.
In simple terms, chaos theory wants to explain that in seemingly completely random events, there is always some sort of pattern. Some sort of self-organization. You just need to look closely to find the repetitive behavior and the feedback loops.
A common metaphor to describe this behavior is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas.
Chaos means a state of disorder. However, in chaos theory, the term is defined more precisely. Something seemingly small - a butterfly flapping its wings - changes the initial condition of the system which causes a chain of events.
We can use this concept and apply it in the way we think about our actions. Something small that we do today always triggers a chain of events. It is up to us to determine whether this will have a good or bad result in the future.
7) Worth thinking about:
"Man's greatness comes from knowing that he is wretched: a tree does not know it is wretched. Thus it is wretched to know that one is wretched, but there is greatness in knowing one is wretched."
― Blaise Pascal
The number of people receiving this newsletter has changed from about 1,200 to more than 2,300 in just 3 months.
Thank you for being here!
For this reason, also, I'll be glad if you take the time to fill the form I mentioned above (this one here).
This way, I can focus my efforts on publications that you - my current readers - want to read.