Welcome to my laboratory of the mind.
My notebook is where I develop my ideas and share my favorite links, showcase my experiences through photos, list my favorite books, artwork, and more. It is a window into my mind — a living page that will grow and change as I do.
Primarily, you will want to keep up with the Ideas section, as that is where I will be developing my ideas that turn into essays, course content, book material, and more.
Lessons on Principled Leadership
Here are my short essays on leadership, ideas of which I’ve been gathering and calibrating through a decade of trial and error, study and experience:
Essay & Idea Diagrams
These are diagrams I’ve made to express a wide array of ideas, finished and unfinished. Often, these will serve as the seeds for my longer-form essays.
Ideas can circle the globe 7 times in the blink of an eye thanks to the power of the internet. Availability of information isn’t the problem—searchability is. Here’s my ongoing attempt to consolidate the most interesting ideas I’ve come across so you don’t have to waste time searching, and let serendipity take over.
From books to blogs, and from podcasts to videos, every single idea you find here was once marked “fascinating” in my inbox or browser bookmarks. Rather than selfishly holding on to these links, they are now my gift to you. Enjoy!
Productivity & Creativity
- Excalidraw: If you’ve ever had the itch to scribble a quick drawing or to express an idea visually in a quick and fun way, this is the tool you need. You can give your ideas a new life with the precision of a digital tool and the authenticity of a doodle on the back of a dinner napkin. No need to download an app, no need to worry about free or premium versions. Use it from your phone or PC.
- Gell-mann Amnesia: Next time you read a newspaper, or a curated news website, observe yourself. You’ll find that you tend to read everything as if it were true, UNTIL you get to a topic you are intimately familiar with, at which point you will be overly critical and brush it off as non-sense. We all do it! It takes discipline to catch this effect in action. And this serves as an important reminder for us to always consume information with a critical, objective eye. Now, more than ever.
- On Needing to Find Something to Worry About: I came across this piece in such a timely way. The message may not apply to everyone all the time, but it will come as a shock to your system, particularly if you spend a lot of time on mental autopilot. You might even have a deep realization—an “oh sh**!” moment, like I did. This is a short, powerful read. And well worth it.
- The Risk of Discovery by Paul Graham: I love Paul Graham’s concise writing style. In this post, he encapsulates in 200 words what I’ve spend 30 essays trying to say! Take risks. It doesn’t matter how crazy you look now. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. History (and the internet) will only remember what succeeded. This serves as a constant reminder for me to keep going. To keep trying new things. To keep stretching my comfort zone. And to focus only on the things that matter to me, regardless of what the naysayers may think.
- Airr – Highlight Podcasts: If you’re like me, you drive a fair amount (like 8,500 miles across the country and back). I listen to a ton of audiobooks in the car, but they always seem to go in one ear and out the other. I’ve been searching far and wide for a way to highlight and store interesting tidbits from what I listen to, and I think I’ve found just the trick! Here’s a concise description straight from the app: “Airr is a podcast player that lets you highlight, add a note, and share moments from episodes. When you hear something great, you can save it with one tap, or even with just your voice(my emphasis). You can share a moment anywhere, with a link or video clip.”
- Otter.ai: If you are a heavy note-taker, and you want to capture ideas that can easily be forgotten in conversation, check out this app. This is a tool that allows you to (with proper permission) record, transcribe, store, and search important recordings. This is particularly useful for a lecture seminar or a meeting at work so you don’t have to split attention between listening and note-taking. The transcription isn’t perfect, but it will make life a lot easier when you go back to review your notes.
- How to Achieve Your 10-Year Plan in the Next 6 Months: If I had to narrow my drive to succeed down to one statement, it would be this idea from Peter Thiel.
- Roam Research: Notetaking is the lifeblood of any content-generation endeavor, and the more organized and intuitive your input process is, the more incredible your outputs will be. I’ve gone through a rapid evolution in my notetaking system over the past 5-10 years. From zero notetaking to keeping a handwritten commonplace book. Then I started taking notes on my smartphone. Then I moved to Evernote. And now I’ve taken the plunge into Roam. Roam is a note-taking platform based on the Zettlekasten system of notetaking, which interlinks any and all related notes for a seamless and more comprehensive approach to research. Roam closely mirrors the way our brains work, in that information management is not linear, but often interlinked, bi-directional, and networked.
- Emotions People Feel, but Can’t Explain: Here’s a cool little list I came across as I was going through some old emails the other day. I’m sure you can relate to at least a handful of these.
- Brandon Zhang: I met Brandon during a writing course I took in 2020. We’ve chatted on Zoom a number of times, and I have to be honest, I’ve never learned so much from a teenager (at the time) in my life. His productive output and his consistency is on another level. Not only is he wise beyond his years, but he is actively teaching others what it means to have a “Student Mindset”–always learning, always improving. Check him out and see what he’s putting together (he has a pretty good podcast). He sets a lofty bar for all of us, one that can inspire us to do and be more. I’m excited to see where his path takes him.
- Spaced Repetition: This isn’t a novel approach by any means, as it has been known and used for at least 80 years. But it is one of the most effective (and fascinating approaches) to learning that I have come across. Spaced repetition has been shown to be much more effective than cramming everything into one late night study session (which most of us are guilty of). An example would be to study information, and review it weekly. Or monthly. Or whatever time interval works for you. The idea is that each time, you will have retained more information than the previous study session. It sounds obvious, but it is a method that is criminally underappreciated.
- Gall’s Law: “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.” It’s a reminder to myself to stop making things complicated. Time will inevitably take care of that. I need to keep everything as simple as possible, and avoid aiming to emulate complicated systems. This is a roadblock that a lot of first-timers hit, often causing them to quit early in the process. It’s okay to hit these roadblocks once in a while. But it is absolutely crucial to be aware of them when they arise.
- The Endowment Effect: This says that we are more likely to hold on to and value something we own, more than we would if we didn’t already own it and had to obtain it. Here’s an easy way to think about this: How much would you buy your car for? How much would you sell it for? Odds are, there is a discrepancy in your favor. Transfer this thinking to anything in life, from power, to property, to petty cash. It’s why you would more likely hold on to your $200 than to venture out to gain $200. It’s also why politicians in power (regardless of means) are much more clever and deceptive than ones who are aiming for the job. Think about how the endowment effect plays a part in your daily life, and the awareness it brings when you recognize it.
- Magic Mind: A new addition to my kitchen, this drink was recommended to me by a friend as a clean way to achieve pinpoint focus. While the taste isn’t great—somewhere in between tobacco and green tea, placebo or not, I have to say, my friend was on to something. It’s definitely worth a try if you want to work with a calm focus you can’t get with a cup of coffee. (I have no affiliation, financial or otherwise, with this product. Just sharing my experience with you!)
- 30 Year Thinking by Nat Eliason: “Each of us has work that energizes us and work that drains us.” In this short article, Nat challenges you to think about what you really want to be doing in the next 30 years. What is that one thing that, if you had to spend the next 30 years doing it, would bring you alive? He also refers to two great books/documentaries I’ve mentioned in before in my newsletter: Salt Fat Acid Heat, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Both of these are outstanding examples of people who have benefited from 30 year thinking. The moral of the story: if you can make every decision based on your 30-year priorities, you’ll live a much more productive and fulfilling life.
- Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography: I found this book on a shelf in the Boulder Bookstore during a recent visit to Colorado. If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I’m an amateur (smartphone) photographer, avid traveler, and perpetual seeker of a deeper “mindfulness.” So naturally, this book hits all the spots for me. If you’re interested in any of that, I highly recommend that you check it out!
- Coda: I’m obsessed with organization and having things in their proper place. I always remind myself: “external mess = internal stress.” As a solopreneur with a number of big projects on my plate, you can imagine things tend to get messy. And that’s an understatement. With writing a blog, building and running online courses, and book-writing all on front-burners right now, Coda has shown promise to streamline everything I do. Coda is great for teams, but it’s just fine for individuals. If you have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets, to-do lists, and lists of to-do lists, check out this platform.
- Seeking the Productive Life: Some Details of my Personal Infrastructure by Stephen Wolfram: This article came across my desk along my recent workflow meanderings. It was just what I needed. It’s a very long article, but if you’re a productivity nerd like me, it’ll be well worth the time. He outlines every detail of his daily productivity processes. Everything from how high his computer monitors need to be to prevent hunching, to his “tech-survival kit, to the reason his resting heart rate is low. For some of the note-taking nerds among us (especially Roam Research users), Wolfram’s section on how he takes and organizes his notes may be a bit painful to read. But the important thing is that he has a system that works for him. As for anything in life, the good system that you follow is better than the perfect system that you don’t follow.
- Explore.org: This link was passed on to me by one of my readers, and I am so thankful for it. By simply visiting live footage of almost any animal you can think of, you can get lost in nature from the comfort of your home or office. In a life of artificial worries and unnecessary complexity, we tend to lose sight of the work we are meant to do. This site serves as a simple reminder that it will be alright… keep it simple, enjoy the present moment, and do what feels natural to you. And if you’re a puppy lover or prefer elephants on the African prairies, this site has everything you need to calm the mind.
- Josh Waitzkin on the PaddleWoo Podcast: If learning is the thing you love to learn about, listen to this podcast episode. Even if you just love to learn in general, Josh Waitzkin never disappoints. This episode made me slow down, think about, and re-examine the all the work I’m doing. I’ve been running at full speed for many months now. But none of it matters if I’m running in the wrong direction.
- Quality and Effort by Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog): A short reminder to my monkey mind that I don’t always have to use brain power to solve everything. And I definitely don’t have to solve something more than once!
- Readlang: For some of you language learning nerds, this might be just what you’ve been waiting for. Here it is in a nutshell: “Read your favorite webpages, translate the words you don’t know, and we’ll generate flashcards to help you remember.” It’s almost like a personal translator for all things digital.
- How to be Successful by Sam Altman: On the face of it, this article seems kind of generic and unoriginal. After all, how many of these “how to be successful” things are floating around out there on the interwebs? But when you realize who Sam is, and that he knows a thing or two about “success,” you’ll give it a shot. And when you give it a shot, you’ll soon find some really compelling ideas. #5 and #13 are the ones that resonate with me the most. Which are yours?
- Shapes of Stories by Kurt Vonnegut: You’ll notice two things in this video: Kurt is an incredible genius, and he’s incredibly funny. But wait, there’s more! You’ll also add a powerful tool to your writing toolbelt after watching this. I showed this video during a live session of Unparalleled Live and many students not only enjoyed it, but found it immensely useful in their writing process. Personally, I find that whenever I hit some friction in my own writing process, or am having a hard time putting words together on paper, visualizing the flow of the story is a great trick to get the mind unstuck. Take a look at this video to help you start writing!
- Hormesis: It’s the idea that a small enough dose of a harmful stimulus can have the opposite effect of a higher dose. It’s what happens when you get immunized at the doctor’s office. It’s what happens when you feel the burn at the gym. It’s what people mean when they say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And it’s why a little bit of stress is useful, but a lot can kill you. It’s also an effective mental model for growth, and is the basis behind my consistent push for people to step out of their comfort zone.
- Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. In any walk of life, there are systems in place to control human behavior or make human cooperation more efficient. We often hear people raging against “the system,” but almost never do they have a plan or vision in place to bring about change. This long essay is the best explanation of complex systems I’ve ever read. It offers 12 leverage points to intervene if you ever want to understand or attempt to change a complex system. Even if you have no interest in systems, per se, you will still learn a boatload of useful ideas that you’ll begin to recognize in everyday life. Highly recommended reading.
- Gardens Need Walls: On Boundaries, Ritual, and Beauty. Walls and boundaries are everywhere. We construct them to contain, we construct them to maintain, and we construct them to retain. They can be used for benefit, and they can be used for harm. This thought-provoking read digs deep into the nuances of boundaries and how they work within complex systems.
- The Art of Misdirection by Apollo Robbins. Ever feel overwhelmed? Distracted? Human attention is notoriously fragile, and this video can show us exactly how easy it is to take advantage of. I found myself rewatching and rewatching a few key moments, some of which still don’t make sense! It’s worth watching entirely for context, but if you’re looking for the action, it starts around the 4:00 mark (by the end you’ll have to go back and watch from there anyway).
Culture & Society
- Rufus du Sol: Wanna get your blood flowing on a Monday morning? I found these guys during my endless meanderings through the world of house music a few years back. They are an Australian band who have achieved much less notoriety than they deserve. With so many great songs it’s hard to suggest just one, so start with You Were Right, Like an Animal, or my personal favorite, Until the Sun Needs to Rise. Happy listening!
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi: If you’ve read my blog, you know very well that I have been on a warpath to find and define ways to do meaningful work. Jiro, a sushi master from Japan, serves as a powerful example, and rightly so. From the very first scene, you realize the power that finding your place in this world and doing work that fills you with energy can have on your life. It’s a reason why I keep coming back to this documentary. Here’s a quote from Jiro that has been emblazoned in my brain for years: “Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That is the secret to success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”
- Meru: This documentary is an outstanding film by one of my biggest influences and lowkey heroes, Jimmy Chin. It’s the story of the two attempts Jimmy and a small group of climbers made to scale the steep walls of “the shark’s fin” peak in India’s Himalayas. I was blown away the first time I saw this many years ago, and it has had such an impact on me that I rewatch it at least once a year. I find my heart racing every time, and the lesson becomes etched deeper into the walls of my mind: go after your dreams with everything you’ve got, even if you look batshit crazy to others. Meru is the precursor to the more recent documentary, Free Solo. I strongly encourage you to watch both.
- The Tail End by Tim Urban: This article will bring you to tears. I certainly had a hard time holding them back after reading and reflecting before I moved out on my own. It’s a sobering realization that 1) time is valuable, and increasingly so as we get older, 2) we don’t have much of an understanding of time, and only do when we put it in relatable terms like baseball games seen or dumplings eaten, 3) when we stop moving at high speeds to get things done, will we have anyone there to enjoy the fruits with? Will we wish we had done things differently and prioritized our loved ones more? This is a hugely important essay that everyone needs to read.
- Our Addiction to Storage: I recently read this article about the growing demand for storage space. The psychology around “stuff” is fascinating, and the quote and the chart tell you all you need to know… “Paying for storage space is like a gym membership; consumers join and forget about it. Even better for owners, they’re often willing to accept slight increases in cost, rather than deal with the hassle of moving their possessions across town to a competitor’s warehouse.”
- The sand mandala: A Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the sand mandala is a “painting” made purely of sand. It’s a fascinating process, where Tibetan monks typically spend weeks painstakingly creating a mandala as big as 12 square feet, and systematically demolish it within minutes shortly after its completion. I was first introduced to this idea many years ago in an episode of House of Cards, and have been enamored by it ever since. It’s an idea that closely resembles life, as we can spend decades on this earth building a life of meaning and purpose, only to be erased from it in an instant. It’s a constant reminder to enjoy the journey of life and make the most of every single day.
- Challenger: The Final Flight: Such a heartbreaking story that could have been easily avoided. Often we get caught up in timeliness, pressures from outside forces, and the excitement to move forward. But these can often blur our field of vision to the dangers and the chasms that lie ahead. And unfortunately, the lack of awareness from many players in this story led to one of the most tragic outcomes in American history. This is a four-part documentary and was very well done. If you’re looking to fill a three-hour gap in your day at some point, I highly suggest taking a look.
- Hell on Wheels: One of my favorite shows of all time, this series explores the building of the transcontinental railroad in the late 1860s. From Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Francisco, almost 1800 miles of track were laid over a five year period, allowing humans to travel coast to coast across the continent in just a matter of days, instead of weeks and months. One of the greatest feats (and most underrated feats) in American history, this railroad was what made rapid expansion and consolidation in America possible. If you love historical dramas, especially of American history, Hell on Wheels is an absolute must-see.
- Tim Ferriss #464: My Healing Journey after Childhood Abuse: I’ve been a longtime listener of Tim’s podcast, and I’ve heard him speak openly and candidly about many tough subjects. But in this episode, he spoke about this particular trauma for the first time. And he didn’t just talk. He dove deep for over two hours into the layers upon layers of impacts his childhood experiences had on his life. I simply cannot do the power of this episode justice in the space of a hundred words, so I urge you to take a listen. I promise, this also could be yet another powerful, life-changing experience for you. And while I’m lucky to not have experienced child abuse, I can definitely relate to the anguish and the uncertainty of telling the world something that has been held in for several decades. Back in August, I wrote at length about growing up with mentally ill parents. It was one of the most grueling pieces of writing I have ever done, and even more nerve-wracking to hit “publish.” And listening to this latest episode from Tim really made me appreciate the power of what he was doing in recording his story for the world.
- AR Will Spark the Next Big Tech Platform—Call It Mirrorworld by Kevin Kelly: I came across this article as I finished writing my Digital Gold Rush post. Straight out of a Black Mirror episode, this piece breaks down (in astonishing detail) what the world (and its mirror) will look like in the not-so-distant future. Kelly talks about how this “mirror world” (think of it like an exact carbon copy of the world around you) will be used not only for leisure and entertainment, but for robots, self-driving cars, etc. to navigate seamlessly through our physical world. Just to give you a little preview, here are two “holy shit” moments I had while reading this, one creepy, one intriguing: Creepy: “To recreate a map that is as big as the globe—in 3D, no less—you need to photograph all places and things from every possible angle, all the time, which means you need to have a planet full of cameras that are always on. We are making that distributed, all-seeing camera network by reducing cameras to pinpoint electric eyes that can be placed anywhere and everywhere.” Intriguing: “Time is a dimension in the mirrorworld that can be adjusted. Unlike the real world, but very much like the world of software apps, you will be able to scroll back.” (My emphasis: AKA TIME TRAVEL!) If you thought Pokémon Go was the future, ha! Childs play! If you thought time travel could never happen, think again! Read this full article, and I promise you, your mind will be blown to smithereens. Kevin Kelly is one of my absolute favorite writers, and this one did not disappoint.
- David Hockney: On my down time, I like to look for new and different ways to expand my mind. Having grown up with an artist for a mom, I’ve always appreciated vibrant colors and distinctive design. And David Hockney’s work certainly qualifies. But beyond his artwork, he is one of the most fascinating minds I’ve ever come across. If you’re not careful, you could spend hours getting lost in the artistic jungle he has built on his website. He has made everything from paintings to computer drawings to car art. The most fascinating part is that you can see his progression from dull grays in the 1950s to vibrant colors in the 21st century.
- We Get, and Give, Lots of Bad Advice. Here’s How to Stop: Another great piece from Adam Grant, one of my favorite writers and thinkers just down the road from me in Philadelphia. Research shows that advisors of any kind (coaches, teachers, advice-givers, etc.) tend to be more motivated by their own advice than their advisees. And when they follow their own advice, they’ll in turn have more experience under their belt to give better advice in the future. Which is why Grant says, “one of the most effective ways to get better advice is to give it.”
- Trip of Compassion: I didn’t think much of this documentary when I first heard of it. I had always been of the mindset that all drugs were bad, no questions asked! But in recent years, I’ve done a fair amount of research on psychoactive drugs, and have come to the realization that we (society) have shut ourselves off to amazing breakthroughs in the realm of mental health simply because of such a rigid view of drugs. When we get out of the habit of treating everything like a hammer and nail and putting everything into one bucket…when we start doing the actual research, we begin to discover not only massively exciting opportunities, but massively exciting beliefs that we’ve been hiding from ourselves for so many years.
- Dennis Lloyd: Looking for something new to add to your playlist? Dennis might have a couple songs you’ll like. I’ve enjoyed his music on road trips, while writing, and while working out. He offers a nice range of catchy sounds that amounts to easy listening. He might not be for everyone (but who is?) but give him a try. Start with “Nevermind” or “Never Go Back” (I like the Robin Schulz remix) and see where it takes you. (Fair warning, should you go down the rabbit hole, some of his lesser-known music may contain profanity.)
- Visakan Veerasamy (@visakanv): If you want to talk about the best Twitter has to offer, Visa is definitely in that category. His content is free-flowing and thought-provoking—a welcome respite from “political Twitter,” “money Twitter,” and Twitter trolls (all of whom you should block anyway). One of his most interesting ideas is to do 100 of something before you quit. Whether it’s blog posts, tweets, books, days at a new job, etc. You learn if it’s right for you, you’ll learn so much more about the thing, and you’ll learn even more about yourself along the way. If you’re on Twitter, check Visa out. If you’re not on Twitter, either stay off, or get on it to follow the right people. Your life will be massively improved either way.
- Cuba and the Cameraman: I may be biased given my partial Cuban descent, but this is one of my all-time favorites. It shows the career of an American journalist/filmmaker who has recorded his every visit to Cuba (roughly every 10 years) since the early 1970s. He documents the
progressstagnation of Cuban society over the decades, as well as his visits with the infamous Fidel Castro himself. This documentary is a quality piece of art, so if you have a couple hours to spare, check it out on Netflix.
- The DIY Scientist, the Olympian, and the Mutated Gene by David Epstein: This article is almost five years old, but it is as relevant as ever. It’s a long, but fascinating read (especially for the science nerds among us) about how an average person can spot breakthrough ideas the scientific “experts” miss. Especially these days, it’s easy to say the “science doesn’t know.” It’s also easy to say “always listen to the experts.” But the healthiest way to live is where those two intersect. And that is where you must think for yourself. That is where you’ll find truth.
- The Last Dance: After watching this outstanding 10-part documentary, I’m convinced that there are only two types of people in the world: Michael Jordans and Dennis Rodmans. There are those with the consistency, grit, determination, and drive to be great like Jordan. And there are those with the inconsistency, nonchalance, apathy, and drive to party like Rodman. And all of us have some blend of the two. Yet somehow, with the greatness of Scotty Pippen, Phil Jackson and their supporting cast, the ’98 Bulls made it work. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you’ll learn so much about the mindset of greatness, leadership, teamwork, and all of the blood, sweat, tears, and pain that go into committing 100% to a profession and reaching its pinnacle year in and year out.
- Chamath Palihapitya: Sports fans might know the name as a part owner of the Golden State Warriors. Twitterers might know the name as the venture capitalist and early Facebook executive. Most will know the name after he declared he’s running for governor of California and his participation in the recent GameStop controversy. He is not universally liked, but he has what it takes to get things done. Some of his thoughts are controversial, he tweets a lot, he’s arrogant, and he’s a straight shooter. He also has outstanding mononymous potential. Sounds familiar, huh? But don’t sleep on him or the power of social media in the race for governor.
- Lee Kuan Yew. Have you ever wondered how and why Singapore, a tiny Southeast Asian country the size of Philadelphia, became one of the world’s foremost economic powers? I have. In fact, I did a research paper in college on the Lion City, and its story has fascinated me ever since. In my 100 Days of Leadership odyssey, I went back down the rabbit hole to research the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, its Prime Minister for the first 31 years of its existence. While the country achieved massive success under his leadership, he ruled with an iron fist. Many look to the Singaporean economic model for lessons, which are useful, but his style of governance was controversial and complex—a style that worked for Singapore, but would not transfer well to other countries. If you want to learn more about Yew and the rise of Singapore, start with this short YouTube video to get an idea.
- Cybertruck. It’s not easy on the eyes. And I definitely encountered a lot of mental friction when imagining myself in one of these, but Tesla always has a way of doing that to us. Take a look for yourself…
- Architecture Hub on Twitter and Instagram. If you love architecture—the shapes, the colors, the creativity, the precision, the presence—like I do, you will enjoy this immensely. For readers and writers, sometimes a nice visual rabbit hole all we need to pleasantly unwind.
- The Nuclear Family was a Mistake by David Brooks. If you read one article this week, make it this one. It shows how the ideal “nuclear family” in America during the mid 20th century (and it’s degradation) has had long-lasting effects on our society and our future. It digs deep into why these types of families aren’t as common anymore. Here’s one of the quotes that struck me hard: “I often ask African friends who have immigrated to America what most struck them when they arrived. Their answer is always a variation on a theme—the loneliness.”
History and Philosophy
- Hafez: I discovered Hafez within the last year, and I’m wondering how it took me so long… There is something about his work that just speaks to me, whether it is in his comical, ironic tone, or in his use of satire in rejecting constraints. A 14th century mystic poet, he is a legend in modern day Iran, which is surprising due to how often he “lauded the joys of love and wine but also targeted religious hypocrisy.” Then again, religion in 14th century Persia was much different than it is today. Persian history is fascinating to me and is a subject I would love to dig more into. I’m not much into poetry, and I found Hafez’s work to be captivating. Here’s a nice website with much of his works.
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca: Here is a quick book summary of this iconic work by one of the most well-known Stoic philosophers. Whether you read the book or the summary, I’d love to hear from you (you can email me) about your experiences and thoughts on his advice.
- The five dimensions of freedom: Expand the window of tolerance. Acknowledge the common humanity of experience. Awareness itself. Rest in the consciousness of experience, not the experience itself. “Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between these two, my life flows.” I heard these five from Jack Kornfield on the Tim Ferriss podcast. He listed four, but I found the quote so powerful, that I included it as the fifth. I’m not totally immersed in Buddhist thought but I do find much of its practical advice useful. And these dimensions of freedom are a consistent reminder for me to ground myself, accept more, and cultivate more awareness. This type of awareness is more than just being aware of how you come across to others. It is learning how to witness what is present without getting lost in it, as we so often do.
- The Federalist Papers (More relevantly, Federalist 10 and 51. Opponents of the electoral college, read 68): The Federalist Papers were a series of essays written for the purpose of convincing Americans to support the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. The story behind these papers is fascinating, but the meaning behind them is paramount to all but the Constitution itself. You will learn more about how government should operate than in any other secondary source or from any armchair expert out there on the internet. It’s a challenging read, it’s long (85 essays), but it will be well worth it. I’m no expert on them, and they are not perfect, but I do have a high respect for them and wish they were discussed more in schools.
- The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant: Once upon a time, on my long (1-1.5 hours) drives through the Philly rush hour traffic to and from work, I used to listen to A LOT of podcasts and audiobooks. And although I don’t consciously remember most of what I listened to (which is why I’m revisiting it), this book sticks out in my mind the most. In 128 pages, the authors have condensed thousands of pages of their own research and thousands of years of human history in a way that we can all understand. It’s the type of book you can read in a night, but it’s the type of book that will feed your mind for weeks and months to come.
- Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. Latinized as “Algorithmi” (sounds familiar), I found him on my latest meanderings around the internet. He was a Persian polymath in the late 700s and early 800s, who was influential in math, astronomy, and geography. He literally wrote the book on algebra, and is described to have given numerous examples and practical applications for it. What a novel idea…maybe we should use his book in schools instead!
Science & Nature
- Healthspan: Dr. Peter Attia, one of the foremost experts in the world on longevity, has had me extremely curious about this topic for several years. The idea of extending healthspan is a much more nuanced and meaningful approach to extending lifespan. It is a measure of not years lived, but productive and healthy years lived. I’m hyper-curious to know what makes certain people age better than others, as well as the things I can do today that will ensure a lengthy healthspan for me and my family.
- The True History Behind Idaho’s Parachuting Beavers: Just watch.
- Triboluminescence. I’ve been experimenting with nasal strips when I go to sleep lately, which I find can definitely improve sleep quality (but that’s a story for another day). One night I was unpeeling the covering of a nasal strip in the dark, and I saw sparks of blue light coming from the adhesive. I freaked out. I thought my tired brain was playing tricks on me at first, but then I looked it up and it turns out this phenomenon is a thing! Look it up. Or better yet, stand in a pitch-black room and unpeel adhesive coverings from a Band-Aid or a nasal strip. Your mind will be blown.
- What Impossible Meant to Feynman. This was a fun and fascinating read. It provides firsthand insight as to why Richard Feynman is revered by so many. And a reminder that to make an impact on the world, you don’t have to take things (and yourself) so seriously, you can be brutally honest, and you must tenaciously be curious. It’ll also get you thinking about certain words that certain people use. Sure, words all have a dictionary definition, but words often mean different things to different people—and you’ll only know it when you really get to know someone.
- 20 years of an eagle’s flight. If you ever stayed up at night wondering where and how far an eagle flies over its lifetime (growing up a Philadelphia Eagles fan, this has actually crossed my mind as a kid), this is for you. For everyone else, it’s still pretty cool!
- The Feather Atlas. My dog Pearl is a lovely dog. Except when she eats things off the ground that don’t belong in her tummy. A few weeks ago she ate a bird on the local walking trail. (You look away for one second and they’ll always make you pay!) Luckily there were no digestive problems on this occasion, but the feathers hanging out of her mouth got me curious about what kind of bird she ate. I recently stumbled on this website to try to sort through the feathers, but there are just too many gray and small feathered birds to choose from. But if you ever find a really cool, unique feather, you can easily use this site to identify the bird.
- How Wolves Change Rivers. Lately, I’ve been fixated on how complex systems work. More specifically, I’ve been fixated on the downstream consequences (no pun intended) of single decisions on those large, complex systems. This fascinating video is a perfect example of how seemingly unrelated things can have such a strong link to each other. In less than 5 minutes, it will literally change the way you think.
- Inside the Very Big, Very Controversial Business of Dog Cloning. Dogs can be the single best source of happiness for many people. And if you’ve owned a dog, you’ve undoubtedly thought about the fear of losing them, and how unfair it is that they live relatively short lives. This article explores the science behind making a copy of your furry best friend. It has to get you asking yourself: do I love my dog enough to clone them? Or do I love my dog enough that nothing could ever replace them? You’ll also find yourself questioning the obvious ethical concerns, not only for dogs, but for life on earth.
- Alexander Shulgin. Often known as “Sasha,” and the “godfather of psychedelics,” he was a chemist, psychopharmacologist, and author known for his groundbreaking work in the field of psychedelics. He’s not very well-known to those outside of that world, but as we push forward in the battle against mental illness, psychedelics will inevitably become a more prominent part of the conversation, more minds will be open to their practical and life-saving benefits, and Shulgin will eventually receive the recognition he deserves. If you want to learn more on Shulgin and psychedelic research, start with his book PIHKAL.
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Travel is often a goldmine for ideas. But it is also therapy for the mind. I feel that travel is often underestimated for all of its true benefits, and overestimated for all of its superficial allure. Here are some of my favorite photos from some of my favorite travels: