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Monday It Is

By the end of this post you might have established that I am bored, anxious to post something, or horribly foolish. You see, I do not know what to write (or, sometimes I wonder, how to). When I started this blog I had the idea that my life was quite interesting and that it offered something worth writing about. It turns out that my life is pedestrian and notably normal. It goes as follows: home, office, home, office (repeat), with long interruptions of heavy traffic in between. There is hardly anything to write about.

So I came up with an idea to fix this. (My blog, not my life) I am going to start recommending articles! Every Monday, I will post the best articles, posts, essays, YouTube videos, tweets, whatever, the best content I read or watched in the previous week. Yes, I know that this is not new, others have done it before. But they say ‘copying well is an act of defiance.’ Actually nobody said that, I just made it up. I figure since I read a lot and struggle to write, it may not be a bad idea to share that content each week. That way I am forced to take this blog and what I read a lot more seriously, I can actually start writing, and, hopefully, I can start driving some traffic through this thing. (Though why I care for any traffic here is quite beyond me.)

I have one criterion for what I share: The content has to be worth my time.

That’s it. The world is full of posts that are too long, rehashes of old ideas, or just forgettable fillers. My aim is to make sure everything I put up is worth it. This means I am going to have to comb the internet for content. That sounds easier than it is—the internet is bigger than most people can imagine. Also, I am a husband, dad, poor salary-collector and an amateur gamer. I have got a lot going on without a blog which needs me to commit to posting something weekly. I will try to get to five articles at the start of each week, but that is not a target. I’d rather inform you that I read nothing worth sharing (or that I am really too busy at the moment) than put up an article which does nothing for me. That said, you would have clicked through to my blog—a true act of Faith in our age—and so I think you ought to see something. I’ll try.

So, Monday, starting next week. Cheers.

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With All Your Might

In Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things there is this now famous passage on putting in work:

I will never forget the first team meeting with head coach Chico Mendoza. Coach Mendoza was a tough old guy who had played college football at Texas Christian University, home of the mighty Horned Frogs. Coach Mendoza began his opening speech, “Some of you guys will come out here and you just won’t be serious. You’ll get here and start shooting the shit, talking shit, bullshittin’, not doing shit, and just want to look good in your football shit. If you do that, then you know what? Turn your shit in.” He went on to elaborate on what was unacceptable: “Come late to practice? Turn your shit in. Don’t want to hit? Turn your shit in. Walk on the grass? Turn your shit in. Call me Chico? Turn your shit in.”

It’s all good and well to do whatever it is that we do, but for the things which matter (and what matters is a deeply personal question), it is important to constantly ask ourselves the questions Coach Mendoza put to his team. Am I just ‘shooting the shit, talking shit, bullshittin’, not doing shit, and just trying to look good in [my] football shit?’ Or am I actually putting in the work. I think it is hard to deceive oneself for too long because the unconscious is simply too woke—It rebels against our conscious lies. But I suspect that it is quite possible to fool the world on this. To some degree that’s sort of what we have to do to get ahead, isn’t it. We embellish our qualifications, our experience, our network, our wealth, and so on. We receive, hopefully, some external validation in return, and this is comforting if temporary.

A more permanent satisfaction can be had from the personal knowledge that you’ve attacked your goals as completely as you could have. It does not come from the outcomes of this process, it is the natural consequence of this philosophy of living. Hard work is its own reward. It doesn’t matter if you put in twelve-hour days and still could not hit your target, you’ve hit your internal target. The sweet privilege of being able to say from the very core of your soul ‘I did my best’ is golden, and is a good deal more valuable that being told that you did well. Ralph Waldo Emerson shared this idea in his essay Self Reliance, when he said: ‘A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best, but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace.’ This relief is a wonderful thing next to the torment of knowing that you were just ‘bullshittin’, talking shit and not doing shit.’ We cannot externalise this validation. It cannot come from a performance rating for a bonus at your company, it cannot come from our boss or any other third party we look to for validation. This relief, this contentment, this peace, comes from putting in the work.

In the book of Ecclesiastes (9:10) it says: ‘Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ It is a call to work, to work hard, and to acquit ourselves before God.

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All the Memorable Things From the Internet in September 2016

The internet is remarkable. It is endlessly enlightening and just goddam funny. So I’ve decided to try to compile everything I’ve enjoyed in the past month in one place for… I don’t know why, maybe someone else will appreciate such a list. This is obviously not scientific so some of it may be quite obscure. I hope to make this a series, so if you like this be sure to give it a look at the end of this month. Oh, some of this material will have been produced in the period, others before. I share it as I consume the content. One last thing, the list is not ranked in any way, it’s just stuff I enjoy. Here goes.

  1. A blog post about an encounter between an African-American academic and the police. I think the author did an exceptional job of maintaining the tension in the story as things developed. But things are pretty fucked up in the U.S. man.
  2. An essay by Andrew Sullivan. Cellphones and social media have a darkside. This essay engages it thoughtfully. (If this gets you thinking and you want to read a little more about this area, the book Deep Work is not a bad book to read.)
  3. This is an old twosome by the same author. Read this first then this. The short message here is this: PERSISTENCE.
  4. An irreverent essay by Nassim Nicholas Taleb about intellectuals.
  5. Here is an article about travelling with an African passport. I don’t really have anything to add, it is terrible to travel on African passport.
  6. This is the only book Paul Kalanithi ever wrote. He died of an aggressive form of cancer shortly after finishing the book. It is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read and a powerful story about facing our own mortality. I remember reading the final chapter as his death was all but sure, my daughter kept running up to me to play just as Paul was describing the birth of his daughter while the cancer consumed him alive. I was crying like a child. I recommend this unreservedly.
  7. Some crazy freestyles and/or performances I picked up on YouTube. First the boy Lupe, Mos Def and Talib, Common, Luda, Luda again, and finally, Black Thought and ?uestlove.
  8. This is pretty funny.
  9. Here’s an awesome graphic that should come in handy in future.
  10. This is funny and weird. Who populated that list?

Enjoy!

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The Obligatory “Testing” Post

So here I am, testing. I hope this will become my blog going forward. I am going to be posting stuff about my life, my work and anything that catches my fancy. I have no idea how this will work. It might be one of those thing I will abandon (and then regret later on) or I may be able to make something of it.

Whatever happens here’s to a great start.

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