What I learned last week (#141): good company

Learned last week: slowing down, currents, fake phones, and more!

A weekly selection of what I was reading, drawing, writing, and doing.


Book excerpt I was thinking about:

“The key to overcoming your biases is found deep within your intentions. Overcoming and optimizing yourself must be more deeply embedded in your desires, in your identity, than the desires that threaten to undermine it. The desires to be competent, to be unique, and even to be right, must all fall short of the desire for self-mastery. You must come to pride yourself, not on the accuracy of your current beliefs, but on your willingness to abandon your beliefs for new, more accurate ones. When you insist on finding the real truth first and learning to love it second, you can become the master of your own cognition.” (Designing the Mind, Designing the Mind. The Principles of Psychitecture)


Let’s try slowing down:

The question left unexamined in my essay is what it would look like if you rejected this rule. What if, for example, you aimed to work 20% less than you had time to reasonably handle? If you have a relatively autonomous, entrepreneurial type job, this would mean saying “no” to more things. It would also mean, on the daily scale, being more willing
to end early, or take an afternoon off to go do something unrelated, or extend lunch to read a frivolous book.

Here’s what I want to know: how much would this hurt you professionally? As I move deeper into my exploration of slow productivity, I’m starting to develop a sinking suspicion that the answer might be “not that much.”

If you worked deeply and regularly on a reasonable portfolio of initiatives that move the needle, and were sufficiently organized to keep administrative necessities from dropping through the cracks, your business probably wouldn’t implode, and your job roles would likely still be fulfilled. This shift from a state of slightly too much work to not quite enough, in other words, might be less consequential than we fear.

What Would Happen If We Slowed Down? https://www.calnewport.com/blog/2021/09/07/what-would-happen-if-we-slowed-down/


The current is what matters:

The wind gets all the attention. The wind howls and the wind gusts… But the wind is light.

The current, on the other hand is persistent and heavy.

On a river, it’s the current that will move the canoe far more than the wind will. But the wind distracts us.

The current and the wind: https://seths.blog/2021/07/the-current-and-the-wind/


Pay attention to the company you keep:

“No road is long with good company.” The essence of life is to surround yourself, as continuously as you can, with good company.” (fs.blog, The Multidisciplinary Approach to Thinking)


Creating a fake phone for the ultimate sting:

An0m was marketed and sold not so much to the security conscious as the security paranoid; its embedded suite of anonymising digital tools went far beyond the requirements of the average user. According to Australian police, it was the ideal telecommunications channel to arrange the safe passage of A$64m of cocaine across the world. An0m was not, however, a secure phone app at all. Every single message sent on the app since its launch in 2018 – 19.37m of them – had been collected, and many of them read by the Australian federal police (AFP) who, together with the FBI, had conceived, built, marketed and sold the devices.

‘Every message was copied to the police’: the inside story of the most daring surveillance sting in history: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/11/inside-story-most-daring-surveillance-sting-in-history


What people get wrong about the weather (and risks):

“Everyone is not a meteorologist. They don’t pay attention to this stuff like you do. Regular people like us see the rain first.” She’s right y’all. Though the lightning is the more dangerous element of a thunderstorm, the rainfall is the more tangible threat (even it it means just getting wet). This epiphany explains why people will sit in a sports stadium with lightning flashing all around, but they only run for the concourses once rainfall begins. Not surprisingly, there is an entire body of literature on how people perceive threats.

3 Moments Of Clarity At A Volleyball Match On How The Public Perceives Weather: https://www.forbes.com/sites/marshallshepherd/2021/09/15/3-moments-of-clarity-at-a-volleyball-match-on-how-the-public-perceives-weather/


Just for fun:

A brilliant song plus painterly animation. The kids and I really enjoyed The Elephant’s Song:


What I wrote and drew about this week:


What I did, was reminded of, or was thankful for last week:

  • This was the week where all of the sicknesses accumulated over the past few weeks overlapped. My wife’s eye infection from hell was just subsiding but still there, Sam came down with a full on cold and fever from the devil, and I caught the spawn of Sam’s illness at the end. Rough week. 🤢
  • Surprisingly, despite the aforementioned trials, I still got out on two bike rides with Sam, finished a painting, and got ready for a planned hike next week up Ben Lomond or Meikle Bin.

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

Comments welcome!