Saturday, January 1, 2022
..........on being a success from Sam Altman
You don't want to be in a career where people who have been doing it for two years can be as effective as people who have been doing it for twenty—your rate of learning should always be high. As your career progresses, each unit of work you do should generate more and more results.
Most people get bogged down in linear opportunities. Be willing to let small opportunities go to focus on potential step changes.
Self-belief is immensely powerful. . . . If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s hard to let yourself have contrarian ideas about the future. But this is where most value gets created.
Self-belief must be balanced with self-awareness. I used to hate criticism of any sort and actively avoided it. Now I try to always listen to it with the assumption that it’s true, and then decide if I want to act on it or not. Truth-seeking is hard and often painful, but it is what separates self-belief from self-delusion.
Grit comes from learning you can get back up after you get knocked down.
Most people overestimate risk and underestimate reward. Taking risks is important because it’s impossible to be right all the time—you have to try many things and adapt quickly as you learn more.
Once you have figured out what to do, be unstoppable about getting your small handful of priorities accomplished quickly. I have yet to meet a slow-moving person who is very successful.
You have to figure out how to work hard without burning out. People find their own strategies for this, but one that almost always works is to find work you like doing with people you enjoy spending a lot of time with.
I have never met a very successful pessimistic person.
Friday, December 31, 2021
This disconnect between culturally mandated politics and the actual demonstrated preferences of most Americans has created an enormous reserve of unmet needs—and a generational opportunity. Build new things! Create great art! Understand and accept that sensory information is the brain’s food, and that Silicon Valley is systematically starving us of it. Avoid going entirely tree-blind. Make a friend and talk politics with them. Do things that generate love and attention from three people you actually know instead of hundreds you don’t. Abandon the blighted Ivy League, please, I beg of you. Start a publishing house that puts out books that anger, surprise and delight people and which make them want to . Be brave enough to make film and TV that appeals to actual audiences and not 14 people on Twitter. Establish a newspaper, one people can see themselves in and hold in their hands. Go back to a house of worship—every week. Give up on our current institutions; they already gave up on us.
-as excerpted from Alana Newhouse's essay, Everything Is Broken
Thursday, December 30, 2021
|Auguste Rodin Balzac 1893ish|
"I stopped fighting for my sculpture. It has been able to defend itself for a long time now. To say that I scamped my Balzac for fun is an insult which would have infuriated me in the old days. Now I just ignore such things and carry on with my work. My life is one long course of study. To scoff at others would be to scoff at myself. If truth is doomed to die, my Balzac with be smashed to pieces by generations to come. If truth is imperishable, I predict that my statue will make its way in the world. While we are still on the subject of this malicious rumour, which will be slow to subside, I should like to say something. It needs to be said, and said loudly. This work, which people have laughed at and tried to make fun of because they cannot destroy it, is the end product of my entire life and the very hub of my aesthetic. I was a changed man from the day I first conceived it. I developed along radical lines, forging links between the great traditions of the past and my own time—links which grow stronger every passing day. Some may laugh at this statement. I am inured to this and have no fear of sarcasm. I tell you flatly, the Balzac provide me with an inspiring point of departure because its effect is not confined to my own person, because it constitutes a precept and axiom, which is still being debated and will continue to be debated for a long time to come. The battle goes on, as it must do. Balzac is opposed by the exponents of doctrinal aesthetics, the vast majority of the public, and most of the press critics. No matter; by force or by persuasion, it will clear itself a way to the enlightened. Young sculptors come to see it here and think of it while retracing their steps in the direction prescribed by their ideals."
-Bernard Champigneulle, Rodin
The big lure of all such moments – as you'll know if you have a similar weakness for time management systems, decluttering initiatives and suchlike – is the promise of making a fresh start. The unspoken hope is that you won't just change a few things for the better, but make a total break with the past. You'll reboot your life, leave disorganization and procrastination behind you once and for all, and do everything differently from now on.
It is very likely that intrinsic variability in the functioning of the brain also affects the quality of our judgments in ways we cannot possibly hope to control. . . If our mind is a measuring instrument, it will never be a perfect one.
-Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass Sunstein, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
My Grandmother, Emma Sue, had a garden at her farm in the North Carolina mountains where she grew Jurassic Park sized vegetables. I asked her one day how she did it.
"Chicken droppings," she said dryly. "A garden won't grow right without it."
It took a few years after that to really enjoy a tomato out of her garden again. But I never forgot the lesson: It's the messy, unpleasant stuff that grows a great garden. Just like sometimes it's the messy stuff in life, the mistakes and wrong turns, that grows a rich existence. Yet we bemoan every tiny mistake.
-Rev. Susan Sparks, Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor
When I think about what gets so much attention these days - reality television where no actors need apply - antics on apps where coarseness is glorified - companies who produce nothing and reap billions in rewards - journalism without facts as long as it clicks - tenths of truths that pass for political tricks - I caution myself not to become too worried or sad. Yes, it may seem the idiots are running the show. When we monetize mediocrity and mendacity, we risk bedlam, you know.
And then I experience some bit of humanity at its best - an action so simple, performed at its finest. A conversation that helps grow my mind or my craft. A neighbor’s action that’s kind, a moment unexpectedly deft. Something so well designed - I see the Best remains real and fresh.
-Matthew Ferarra, from this post
Choose wisely. Keep doing the things your Mom and Grandma taught you. Use your manners. Be polite. Say please and thank you. Wait your turn. Don’t interrupt. Share with others. Be a good friend. Oh yeah, and build relationships, solve problems, and have fun.
-Sean Carpenter, from here
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
So often productivity advice is limiting. Narrowing. Just pushing us harder to be more like a machine. But we need to expand our minds. And to remember that we’re not computers. (The closest we get to being a machine is that taking a nap often resolves mental issues the way rebooting your laptop resolves computer issues.) Stop trying to be a machine and leverage your humanity to accomplish more. You may never be as efficient as Robocop or the Terminator but those two can’t solve a captcha and you can. When we broaden our minds and connect with others it’s not just productivity that improves. Life does.
-Eric Barker, from this post
Wendell Lewis Willkie (1892-1944) was one of the most exciting, intellectually able, and authentically transformational figures to stride the twentieth-century American political landscape. In an era of well-merited disgrace, Willkie served up the American business community's most reasoned, politically effective, and judicially nimble defense against government regulation of the free-market economy. Wendell Willkie baited and debated Franklin Roosevelt, whose imperious sense of self-indispensability was turning his office into an imperial presidency, he warned with cracker-barrel farsightedness. His presidential campaign against Roosevelt was one of the toughest and bitterest (and most disorganized); after which, in defeat, he insisted that his party set a new standard of bipartisanship in Washington. He managed to outwit the isolationist leadership of the party (Herbert Hoover, Robert Taft, and Arthur Vandenberg) and engineer grudging recognition by the party platform of a qualified internationalism.
David Levering Lewis, from the Prologue to The Improbable Wendell Willkie: The Businessman Who Saved The Republican Party And His Country, And Conceived A New World Order
I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe?
You wouldn’t believe what once or
twice I have seen. I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.
-Mary Oliver, The World I Live In
Monday, December 27, 2021
|Auguste Rodin 1897 Bust of Victor Hugo|
Though possessed of great technical skill himself, Rodin did not care for the word. It was skill—as defined by him, at least—that he ascribed the ease and panache with which so many sculptors achieved unmerited success. They only saw and reproduced the outer skin of what they saw, and their statues were like empty shells. "Skill should be distrusted. What people generally mean by the word 'skill' is the dexterity with which someone evades a problem by fostering a belief that he has surmounted it instead of tackling it honestly. Myself, I have had an extraordinarily quick hand since my youth. I could work quickly if I chose to, but I produce slowly in order to do well. Besides, it never was in my nature to hurry. I ponder things more, and I want more. An artist should be patient as well as knowledgeable."
Bernard Champigneulle. Rodin
Kant, Schopenhauer and Freud are all pessimists who claim that a complete and enduring happiness is impossible because of the infinite character of human desire: to this, the sages of both East and West reply that this happiness is possible on condition that we no longer strive to adjust the world to our desires. Wisdom teaches us to desire and love what is. It teaches us to say "yes" to life. A deep and permanent happiness becomes possible once we have transformed the way we look at the world. We then discover that happiness and unhappiness don't depend on external causes, but on our "state of mind."
-Frederic Lenoir, Happiness: A Philosopher's Guide
Now, I’m not a hater. I like movies, not films or cinema. I’ll trust the audience over the critics 10 times out of 10 when it comes to which movies to watch.
-From this Ben Carlson post. I will forgive him for not being able to identify correctly the best decade in movies.
The surrendered person no longer needs others for personal fulfillment but is with them out of choice because of love and enjoyment. Compassion for others and for their humanness transforms like and all relationship.
-David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
Sunday, December 26, 2021
“That businesspeople buy low and sell high in a particularly alert and advantageous way does not make them bad unless all trading is bad, unless when you yourself shop prudently you are bad, unless any tall poppy needs to be cut down, unless we wish to run our ethical lives on the sin of envy.”
". . . In fact, they were so unperturbed that 58 percent said they pretended to believe in Santa after realizing the truth—so as not to disappoint their parents."
Abrahman Lincoln was nervous, the floor of the U. S. House of Representatives int eh 1840s was not a particularly pleasant place to give a speech—especially the first major effort of a freshman congressman's career. The chamber was designed to resemble the Roman Pantheon, framed by marble pillars and crimson drapes, but it reminded more than one visitor of an unruly schoolhouse. Members kicked their heels up on the mahogany desks, hollered at the speaker, rustled newspapers, puffed on cigars, and spat tobacco juice on the filthy carpet. The noise, amplified by a cavernous, sixty-foot ceiling, remined one visitor of "a hundred swarms of bees." One of Lincoln's fellow Illinoisans complained that he "would prefer speaking in a pig pen with 500 hogs squealing", or talking "to a mob when a fight is going on" than trying to keep the attention of his colleagues. It was, he recalled, "the most stupid place generally I was ever it."
Life, as our physicist mother never tired of reminding my sister and me, is a cosmic accident—a view held by better known physicists such as Murry Gell Mann. our universe began 13.7 billion years ago, in what we call the Big Bang. On our planet, with the help of ultraviolet rays and lightening, the chemical building blocks of life developed, leading to the first living cell 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. Starting about 2 billion years ago, sexual reproduction by simple multicellular organisms unleashed waves of evolutionary innovations. About six million years ago, a genetic mutation in chimpanzees led to the first humanlike apes. Homo sapiens appeared extremely recently, 200,000 to 100,000 years ago, dominated other human types around 30,000 years ago, and had spread to most of the planet by around 13,000 years ago. A lot of things had to go right for us to get to this point. But the "Goldilocks" conditions in which we flourish cannot endure indefinitely. To date, around 99.9 percent of all species over to have inhabited Earth have become extinct.
-Niall Ferguson, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe