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 read or watched several times. The links are worth revisiting.
Why Life Can’t Be Simpler | 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 by Neil Gaiman—Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts 2012 | 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 | 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 discusses 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.