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1. “Communicate more”
Cake Wreck – A Metaphor for Literal Misinterpretation – Jono Hey – (Sketchplanations)
I’m sure you’ve seen them: cakes where the decorator has taken their instructions perhaps a little too literally.
Hey expands on this as a much larger metaphor for how we so often mis-communicate. He uses software design as an example, but it applies to many other aspects of life as well.
Don’t assume that what you see is what someone else will see
I’d add: don’t assume that what you say is understood.
Do this: Own communicating clearly.
2. “Signaling openness”
Making Normal Conversations Better – Sasha Chapin – (Sasha’s ‘Newsletter’)
Honestly, as an introvert who’s particularly, deeply, weary of the state of … well … everything, this just feels like so much work. So. Much. Work.
The most important thing to understand is that if you apply a smidge more intentionality to conversation than is the default, and you assume that potentially great conversations are everywhere, the human world will open up to you in ways that are hard to imagine or overvalue.
Especially when we’re tired, and it feels like we’re all tired right now, conversation is difficult. And yet, particularly now, it’s more important than ever to make the effort and reconnect.
Do this: Connect.
3. “Why are we looking? And why aren’t we looking?”
What to Learn from the Puffer Pope – Hank Green – (TikTok)
If AI and deep fakes fool us in the future, it won’t be because we can’t tell that they’re fake, it’s because we won’t even bother to check. We just assume it’s legit, particularly if it confirms our pre-existing opinions.
… every person is less likely to check, less likely to have their BS flag flagged if it’s something that confirms their previous worldview, and that that’s the thing to watch out for.
What’s worse is that even once proven to be fake, those who’ve chosen to believe its veracity will continue to do so. That’s the real danger, not our ability or inability to determine something is fake.
Do this: It’s easy to say “be skeptical, particularly when you agree” here, but a) it’s hard, and b) it’s critical. Do it anyway.
4. “Human compassion”
I Still Felt Sorry for Him – John P. Weiss – (The Saturday Letters newsletter)
The essay links to a video that is both moving and horrifying. It shows a Russian soldier being allowed to surrender on the battlefield via communication with a Ukrainian drone pilot. The drone then leads him to their side, where he’s captured instead of being killed.
Weiss notes the compassion required by the Ukrainian drone operator.
“Despite that he is an enemy, even though he killed our boys, I still felt sorry for him.”
Would AI-driven weapons do the same? I think not.
Do this: Have compassion.
5. “All growth requires ‘software updates’”
The Blind Men & the Elephant – Sahil Bloom – (Curiosity Chronicle newsletter)
This is an excellent essay on the importance, and difficulty, of changing your mind. If you haven’t changed your mind about something lately, pay attention to that.
I found his reframing of Hanlon’s Razor interesting. It makes it perhaps more broadly applicable when we’re reluctant to assume stupidity:
“Never attribute to malice, ignorance, or stupidity that which can be adequately explained by different information.”
There is so much more information, so much that we don’t know, it’s critical we keep an open mind and be willing to change our mind about just about anything.
the information you have about the world represents a tiny fraction of the information available, yet you use it to form a view of how the world works.
Do this: Change your mind.
6. “I have no interest in escaping the work I GET to do”
Twelve Quotes from Philosopher Dan Koe That’ll Alter Your Brain Chemistry (Guaranteed) – Tim Denning – (Unfiltered, Substack)
This is quote number 10.
You don’t need a day off when your work is what you’d be doing on your day off.
This resonates so strongly with me because I’ve been blessed to feel this way since I discovered computing. I’ve said this is what I’d be doing even if I weren’t getting paid, many times in the 47 years since. This is work I GET to do, and as a bonus I get paid to do it!
As is often the case, there’s more wisdom in the other 11 quotes, but this is the one that got my attention.
Do this: Do what you love.
7. “Question Everything (Even This Post)”
5 Best Personal Traits for Life – Mark Manson – (Blog)
I keep coming back to Manson because he’s both straightforward, and often in-your-face, about things we should all be thinking about.
The five traits he lists are:
- Risk Tolerance
Yes, they seem obvious, but honestly, how much have you practiced any of them in recent days?
While I’m drawn to people with high degrees of self-awareness, it’s skepticism that tops my list.
There’s a crap-ton of BS out there, so in the 21st century, skepticism needs to be your default mode. Demand evidence, think rationally, and be prepared to live with uncertainty.
Do this: Make skepticism your default mode.
More random links & thoughts
- Everything is Open – If you’re aware of the Lockpicking Lawyer (and you should be) this is a fascinating overview of what it’s all about, and some ramifications.
- The True Size Of… – Maps lie. Use this to drag country outlines around and see them scale appropriately. Also a great way to make comparisons – e.g. The Netherlands is probably 50% the area of western Washington state.
- Your Brain Has Tricked You Into Thinking Everything Is Worse – Why the “good old days” probably weren’t.
Takeaway #5, “All growth requires ‘software updates’”, came from an issue of Sahil Bloom’s Curiosity Chronicle newsletter. There are a lot of “build a high-performing, healthy, wealthy life” newsletters out there, but this has been a good source of practical, actionable information. I almost pulled two from another edition of this source this week, but I try not to double up.
I’m building and keeping a list on the sources page.
What I’m Reading
- What’s Our Problem? – A Self-help Book for Societies – Tim Urban
- Seven Stories Stories That Should Be Movies – David Gerrold
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman
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