Are we in the dark ages?

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Macro / philosophy

Conquest is not the victory itself; but the acquisition, by victory, of a right over the persons of men.

He therefore that is slain is overcome, but not conquered:

he that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy”

Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan

(The first post in a series on how the West is in a dark age).

Everyday we are bombarded by the notion that we’re in the best time to be alive. Indeed, medieval life was as “nasty, brutish, and short” as Hobbes claimed.

We can expect to live longer, healthier lives without much help from the biotech community and have an abundance of cheap entertainment and technology. On paper, the world is doing well; in reality, the story is more nuanced than it seems.

“Do you know what the leading causes of death in the U.S. are?” Lieberman replied. After heart disease comes cancer. The third is medical error.

As [he points] out, the health care industry heavily markets its own importance and pushes treating illness over preventing it with lifestyle modification. And humans are lazy; it’s easier to take pills than exercise.

Does Medicine Actually Make People Live Longer?


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Rethinking China

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Macro / Uncategorized

“What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears.” 

Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

Trend following is generally a waste of time, but if you’re lucky you might find something that makes you think. Not all minds that wander are lost. On this note, a topic I’ve delved into lately has been Chinese innovation and the supposed decline of America.

From Themistocles and Xerxes, or Obama and Trump, we’ve witnessed this question arise when a new paradigm has emerged. In the modern wake of the trade war, the current shape of the question is America versus China. Rephrased, it’s really asking what shapes countries over the long run – democracy and property rights or a no holds barren autocracy.

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Beginning an Infinite Game

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Macro

“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” 

James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games

Graduating university is a cornerstone of a classic American life. I recently graduated and one reason I had such a tough time updating the blog was revising for my (mostly) useless exams. My friends who took time off during university to work and then returned to school said it was near impossible to feel like a student again: the siren song of work was too tempting to ever let it go.

This made me curious why that was. Culturally, we as students are told that we are having the time of our lives. In reality, all my friends were looking forward to getting on with their lives and leaving school behind. But that’s selection bias – what do the facts say?

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Underrated Leaders

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philosophy
Without LBJ, there would be no civil rights act

If you live a long enough life, you’ll meet an innumerable amount of people, from all walks of life. I want to focus on those who you’ll skip over the first time around; the person who you don’t originally understand or comprehend the actions. They could be vastly different to you. Maybe they’re unnaturally brilliant or they’re phenomenally well-traveled, or are social savants. Any of these qualities at a young age especially sets you apart. But, that often makes you underrated.

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Unorthodox Status Games

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book review / philosophy / reading

I definitely don’t get inspired from writers easily nor do I make a habit of putting people on pedestals. I don’t watch inspirational videos nor motivational speeches. Yet, when encountering the blog, Ribbonfarm, written by Venkatesh Rao I could see writing of a different quality – a veneer of criticism carefully slathered over any topic he touches. Others take themes and concepts for granted, as they are. But, Rao makes sure to add in his brush strokes in whatever he sees: a renegade Picasso.

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Are Blogs Lindy?

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philosophy / reading

The lindy effect is one of the most important mental models from acting. It arises from Albert Goldman’s article in the New Republic:

“the life expectancy of a television comedian is [inversely] proportional to the total amount of his exposure on the medium. If, pathetically deluded by hubris, he undertakes a regular weekly or even monthly program, his chances of survival beyond the first season are slight; but if he adopts the conservation of resources policy favored by these senescent philosophers of “the Business”, and confines himself to “specials” and “guest shots”, he may last to the age of Ed Wynn [d. age 79 in 1966 while still acting in movies]”

But history as one can guess takes its reader on an unforeseen journey. In this case, esteemed mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in his famous way summarized Lindy’s law as such:

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Vingean Uncertainty and Macroeconomics

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Macro / philosophy / reading

There exits a thought puzzle that has riddled sci-fi writers for decades, perhaps even for centuries now.

The quote below was put forth by notable Sci-Fi author Vernor Vinge:

Assume you’re writing about an alien species that is presumably smarter than our species. How do you effectively plan out their actions as if you could do this, you would be as smart as this species?

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Crazy Rich Asians and a new age of storytelling

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Hollywood / philosophy

“I can tell you one thing—these people are richer than God”

crazyrichasians

I went to go see the readily acclaimed film, Crazy Rich Asians, and for once, I can vouch for the Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%.

It’s the first movie in over 25 years to possess a majority Asian-American cast in spite of Asian-Americans climbing up the socioeconomic ladder in the past few decades. In the face of this, it’s not surprising that many are jealous of Asian-Americans.

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A paradox: moderation and fame

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philosophy / reading

While at dinner in Notting Hill a few days ago, my friend laughingly said:

“Everything in moderation, including moderation itself.”

Is it a fallacy to say that the great ideas and companies of the world were started by people who were averse to the idea of moderation? From Nikola Tesla who “could recite scores of books, complete from memory,” to Elon Musk working 120 hours a week at times, and to Jobs sending Larry Ellison 73 variations of a soon-to-be released Toy Story movie.

It seems like moderation is an idea that’s espoused by the plutocratic/technocratic elites, yet never quite adhered to.

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On Macro vs. Micro Thinking

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crypto / philosophy / reading

Naturally, we’re all a tad solipsistic – some, like me, a bit more than others.

The Earth moves around the sun, but in our minds, we can’t help but think that we’re the center of the universe. I guess you might call it an egocentric, rather than a heliocentric, view of the cosmos.

I recently went to Berlin and it’s a concoction of some the wildest flavors and experiences I’ve ever witnessed. The possibilities seem endless in a place with such history.

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On Safe Spaces

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philosophy

As humans, we’ve had to survive calamities – droughts, blizzards, famines and hungry predators – some of which happened concurrently. If I could go back in time, I would give early homo sapiens (meaning wise man in latin) a huge round of applause. We defeated the enemies outside and within through developing larger brains and improving our social coordination within our circles. The advent of our social ability is thought to have started when groups of primates started hunting together during the day versus acting as nocturnal creatures – we belonged in these ephermal groups in contrast to pairs.

As highlighted from Schulz, the author, of the Science Now paper:

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Reverse Prophecies Introduction

reading

I’ve been reading for years now – I fell in love as a child. Once home from school (not that I was there often), I’d want to read until sleep would break the book’s hold on me. And then I’d start the routine anew the next day.

Yet, after years of reading and writing, I’ve decided to embark on my own journey of adding a piece to the canon by crafting my own book centered around the intersection of philosophy and the world of business – applied philosophy in my view.

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