Sunday, July 21, 2019

Quote of the Day

But feelings can't be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.

-
Anne Frank

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Wisdom Of The Week

1. I write every day.  I also write to relax.

2. Much of my writing time is devoted to laying out points of view which are not my own.  I recommend this for most of you.

3. I do serious reading every day.

4. After a talk, Q&A session, podcast — whatever — I review what I thought were my weaker answers or interventions and think about how I could improve them.  I rehearse in my mind what I should have said.  Larry Summers does something similar.

5. I spent an enormous amount of time and energy trying to crack cultural codes.  I view this as a comparative advantage, and one which few other people in my fields are trying to replicate.  For one thing, it makes me useful in a wide variety of situations where I have little background knowledge.  This also helps me invest in skills which will age relatively well, as I age.  For me, this is perhaps the most importantly novel item on this list.

6. I listen often to highly complex music, partly because I enjoy it but also in the (silly?) hope that it will forestall mental laziness.

7. I have regular interactions with very smart people who will challenge me and be very willing to disagree, including “GMU lunch.”

8. Every day I ask myself “what did I learn today?”, a question I picked up from Amihai Glazer.  I feel bad if I don’t have a clear answer, while recognizing the days without a clear answer are often the days where I am learning the most (at least in the equilibrium where I am asking myself this question).

9. One factor behind my choice of friends is what kind of approbational sway they will exercise over me.  You should want to hang around people who are good influences, including on your mental abilities.  Peer effects really are quite strong.

10. I watch very little television.  And no drugs and no alcohol should go without saying.

11. In addition to being a “product” in its own right, I also consider doing Conversations with Tyler — with many of the very smartest people out there — to be a form of practice.  It is a practice for speed, accuracy in understanding written writings, and the ability to crack the cultural codes of my guests.

12. I teach — a big one.

Physical exercise is a realm all of its own, and that is good for your mind too.  For me it is basketball, tennis, exercise bike, sometimes light weights, swimming if I am at a decent hotel with a pool.  My plan is to do more of this.

-
Tyler Cowen on How I Practice at What I do

Quote of the Day

The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.

-
Ulysses S. Grant

Friday, July 19, 2019

What I've Been Reading

It is one thing to study warand another to live the warrior's life. 

- Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the fifth century B.C.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.

A hidden gem that I have missed all this years ! If you need a slap of face wake up call (and even if you don't need one), please pick up this short book.


  • The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pushing it.
  • The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we're about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it's got.
  • Cruelty to others is a form of Resistance, as is the willing endurance of cruelty from others.
  • Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of Resistance.
  • Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification, and hard-work, we simply consume a product. Many pedestrians have been maimed or killed at the intersection of Resistance and Commerce.
  • People aren't sick, they're self-dramatizing. Sometimes the hardest part of a medical job is keeping a straight face. As Jerry Seinfield observed of his twenty years of dating: "That's a lot of acting fascinated".
  • The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago,  that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.
  • The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you - and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.
  • An support we get from persons of flesh and blood is like Monopoly money; it's not legal tender in that sphere where we have to do our work. In fact, the more energy we spend stoking up on support from colleagues and loved ones, the weaker we become and the less capable of handling our business.
  • The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. 
  • The sign of the amateur is overglorification of and preoccupation with the mystery. The professional shuts up. She doesn't talk about it. She does her work. 
  • The professional conducts his business in the real world. Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged. The field is level, the professional understands, only in the heaven. 
  • The professional is sly. He knows that by toiling beside the front door of technique, he leaves room for genius to enter by the back. 
  • The principle of organization is built into nature. Chaos itself is self-organizing. Out of primordial disorders, stars find their orbits, rivers make their way to the sea. 
  • The Ego produces Resistance and attacks the awakening artist. 
  • If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice in world, it's our job to realize it and get down to business. 
  • The artist must operate territorially. He must do his work for its own sake. 
  • The artist can't do his work hierarchically. He has to work territorially. 
  • A territory returns exactly what you put in. Territories are fair. Every erg of energy you put in goes infallibly into your account. A territory never devalues. A territory never crashes. What you deposited, you get back, dollar-for-dollar.  What's your territory?
  • If you're all alone on the planet, a hierarchical orientation makes no sense. There's no one to impress. So if you'd still pursue that activity, congratulations. You've doing it territorially. 

Were you put on earth to be a painter, scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don't do it.  
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got. 


Quote of the Day

As a low-level experience of cognitive dissonance, how does one maintain faith in an organization when some of the most basic claims are contradicted by evidence and ordinary experience?

-
James R. Lewis

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Quote of the Day

Of all the follies of the world, that which is most universally received is the solicitude of reputation and glory; which we are fond of to that degree as to abandon riches, peace, life, and health, which are effectual and substantial goods, to pursue this vain phantom and empty word. … And of all the irrational humours of men, it should seem that the philosophers themselves are among the last and the most reluctant to disengage themselves from this.

-
Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Quote of the Day

Many men have got a great name from the false opinions of the crowd. And what could be baser than such a thing? For those who are falsely praised, must blush to hear their praises. And if they are justly won by merits, what can they add to the pleasure of a wise man’s conscience? For he measures his happiness not by popular talk, but by the truth of his conscience.

-
Boethius

Monday, July 15, 2019

Quote of the Day

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.

-
Leo Tolstoy