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What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#50)

Book excerpt I loved:

As we make progress in our practice of Stoicism, we will become increasingly indifferent to other people’s opinions of us. We will not go through our life with the goal of gaining their approval or avoiding their disapproval, and because we are indifferent to their opinions, we will feel no sting when they insult us. Indeed, a Stoic sage, were one to exist, would probably take the insults of his fellow humans to be like the barking of a dog. When a dog barks, we might make a mental note that the dog in question appears to dislike us, but we would be utter fools to allow ourselves to become upset by this fact, to go through the rest of the day thinking, “Oh, dear! That dog doesn’t like me!” (William B. Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life)


A grave reminder. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.


The importance of winters: As winters shrink, our discontent grows is a thought-provoking essay on the impact of climate change and how we rely on seasons to give structure and meaning to our lives. Hadn’t quite thought about it in this way before.

Whenever winter hits and however mild or severe it might be, we must remain cognizant of the fact that winter offers a change of pace, a reduction of the world around us. It can be a period of withdrawal, of reflection and regeneration. If we allow ourselves to embrace it, it can bring us back to a time when people were forced to be more flexible and responsive to the seasons. Maybe we, too, can become more receptive to the small pleasures and wonders that we otherwise perceive only peripherally, if at all?


Thoughts on how to think about your career: The Obvious Way to Improve Your Career (That Might Not Be So Obvious) has some good perspective worth a quick read. I’m of the mind that your career is a painting and not a ladder, but the same thinking here applies.

Often the kinds of efforts that will move forward your business are hard. They are uncomfortable. They require doing things that you (currently) have no idea how to do.

Many people pass on these to pick hobby projects instead. Projects that are fun, seem related to their career, yet, ultimately deliver underwhelming results. Improving their social media marketing, rather than creating compelling content. Installing a new development environment, rather than becoming an expert in their language. Designing business cards instead of drumming up business.


Werner Herzog doesn’t really watch movies: Why He Didn’t Need to See ‘Star Wars’ Films for ‘The Mandalorian’ Role.

You shouldn’t feel upset that I haven’t seen the “Star Wars” films; I hardly see any films. I read. I see two, three, maybe four films per year.

This made me think, but his comments about watching and understanding what the rest of the population is watching (which it sounds like he’s been saying way before it was trending) also stuck with me.


Tiger stripes are like fingerprints: While creating a book about tigers with my daughter (her idea), we came across the following fact from Wikipedia:

As with all tigers, the white Bengal tiger’s stripes are like fingerprints, with no two tigers having the same pattern. The stripes of the tiger are a pigmentation of the skin; if an individual were to be shaved, its distinctive coat pattern would still be visible


Finally, see what we’re up to now.

Categories
What I learned last week

What I learned last week (#25)

The benefits of small teams: At Minecraft I’ve been working on a new features with a small team of 5 people (including me) and we’ve all noticed how we’ve been more effective and better organized in getting work done than any time in the last 9 months (when we were working as a team of 10). I recently learned that the military organizes this way as well, using fireteams. Teams of 4-6 seem to be the magic number by which people’s egos are able to coexist and individuals feel invested in the team instead of themselves.

A fireteam or fire team is a small military sub-subunit of infantry designed to optimise “bounding overwatch” and “fire and movement” tactical doctrine in combat. Depending on mission requirements, a typical fireteam consists of 4 or fewer members; an automatic rifleman, a grenadier (M203), a rifleman, and a designated team leader. The role of each fireteam leader is to ensure that the fireteam operates as a cohesive unit. Two or three fireteams are organised into a section or squad in co-ordinated operations, which is led by a squad leader.

Military theorists consider effective fireteams as essential for modern professional militaries as they serve as a primary group. Psychological studies by the United States Army have indicated that a soldier’s survivability and the willingness to fight is more heavily influenced by the desire to both protect and avoid failing to support other members of the fireteam than by abstract concepts or ideologies. Historically, nations with effective fireteam organisation have had a significantly better performance from their infantry units in combat than those limited to operations by traditionally larger units.

A Food Pyramid for Kids’ Media Consumption: I love the framework of this and think it makes a lot of sense. I want to create an infographic for it and hang it on the wall. 

The crazy ways that cars will change: The videos included in this article about how cars will change more in the next decade than they have in the past century are pretty cool. My daughter just turned 6, and she’ll be just at driving age when the year comes that they refer to most of this happening by (2030) .

Sun visors will become a thing of the past, with smart glass allowing us to control the amount of entering daylight at the touch of a button. The Mercedes F015 concept car’s doors even have extra screens that can function as windows or entertainment systems.

Many cars will be fitted with augmented-reality systems, which will superimpose computer-generated visualisations onto the windscreen or other suitable display areas, to ease the passenger’s nerves from relinquishing the wheel by showing what the car is about to do.

Favorite book excerpt:

Leaving some things undone is a necessary tradeoff for extraordinary results.

From The ONE Thing by Jay Papasan