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1. “I choose to live in peace and witness war”
The Profile Dossier: Lynsey Addario, the War Photographer Capturing Our Collective Humanity – Polina Pompliano – (The Profile newsletter)
I ended up watching a 30 minute talk and slideshow by the profiled photographer (“On working on the front lines” in the profile). It made me appreciate even more what journalists do to bring the realities of the world outside our back yards to us.
She’s a master storyteller who risks her life to tell the stories of ordinary people living in extraordinarily dangerous places.
The stories told are moving.
Do this: Support journalists, but perhaps more than that, listen to their stories.
2. “I hope one day you have a picture that stops the war.”
A single photo can change the world. I know, because I took one that did. – Nick Ut – (Washington Post)
(Warning: the linked article contains a graphic, yet world-renown, image.)
This came across my radar coincidentally after the previous item, also about photography. This is about what has become perhaps the most famous photo taken during the Viet Nam war. Ut discusses taking the photo, and the impact it’s had on the subject, the world, and himself. It’s a fascinating read.
The subject of the photo also wrote about the experience recently: It’s Been 50 Years. I Am Not ‘Napalm Girl’ Anymore. (New York Times). I learned of both via the Now I Know newsletter.
Both articles include follow-up photos, both then and now, I hadn’t seen before.
Do this: Again, support the journalists and listen to their stories.
3. “Drop two F-bombs and call [me] in the morning”
The Case for Mindful Cursing – Arthur C. Brooks – (The Atlantic)
But I’ve written about swearing myself, but more from a perspective of how choosing to be offended is what gives curse words much of their power.
Brooks’ article summarizes some pros (and cons) of swearing.
What you need is a nice, crisp eruption to allow you to blow off a certain amount of steam.
Indeed, there are positive traits associated with swearing, including being perceived as more honest. Who knew? As with all things, though, moderation matters.
Do this: Watch your language, and use the tools at your disposal with intention.
4. “Tu Quoque”
The Logical Fallacy Guide – Sahil Bloom – (The Curiosity Chronicle newsletter)
Logical fallacies are being discussed more and more, it seems, as we all try to figure out where “the other guy” went wrong in their arguments. Indeed, many politicians and “news” organizations rely heavily on fallacies to promote their agendas.
This is an easy-to-read summary of twenty logical fallacies, including examples of each. I found it useful to brush up. By understanding the various types and use cases, we stand a much better chance of calling them out when we see them for what they are.
Of particular interest was the fallacy fallacy: just because you did a poor job of explaining something, perhaps even using a logical fallacy, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong.
Do this: Watch for fallacies. They’re all around us. (“To Quoquo” — Latin for “you too”. One fallacy discussed.)
5. “Much of what we know has been derived from shortcuts”
Knowledge Is Not Understanding – Lawrence Yeo – (More to That blog)
To grossly oversimplify, knowledge is information, whereas understanding comes from experience. Without experience, you may think you have understanding, but in reality, you have only knowledge. You might get knowledge from textbooks, but that’s a distillation of information that someone else deemed important. It’s only when you get out into the world that you gain understanding.
I’m not sure I agree completely. It seems that, for some things, knowledge, or at least deep reflection on that knowledge, would also result in a certain amount of understanding. Perhaps that reflection is the experience?
Do this: Pay attention. Do you understand what you know?
6. “It’s everywhere, it’s influential, and it’s dangerous.”
Different Kinds of BS – Morgan Housel – (Collaborative Fund blog, via Refind)
What caught my attention was a definition of bullshit, as compared to outright lies.
… bullshit stops just short of a lie, mixing the integrity of the truth with the deceit of a lie in a way that leaves both the bullshiter and his recipient feeling satisfied.
The essay includes several examples.
Lies get a lot of publicity, mostly because they’re (usually) easy to spot … at least eventually. Bullshit has more finesse. Bullshit is given more credence, usually because we’re unwilling to do the work to identify the fecal matter.
Do this: Do the work. Identify the fecal matter.
7. “Large pills work better than small ones”
The Placebo Effect: A Mystery in Potential Therapy – Avery Hurt – (Discover magazine)
Placebos have fascinated me for a long time. To me, they expose the complexity of the human mind like nothing else. It’s also a great lesson on how easy it is to be fooled.
But it gets weirder.
One of the most intriguing things about placebos is that they can work even when patients know they’re getting a placebo.
That just weirds me out.
The placebo effect explains a lot. Like, say, homeopathy.
Do this: Question what you believe, understanding how easily fooled you may be.
What I’m Reading
- Courage is Calling – Ryan Holiday
- Dune: The Machine Crusade – Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
- The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature – Robert Greene
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