Around 2003,  I published a small site sharing short views of culture, technology, and society by minds who were all smarter than me.  The site had a short life, but the persistently curious reader and observer in me, now much older but just as hungry, wants to revive it and continue sharing.

Contact me to share your own ideas and comments.  Or get this site’s feed.

-Gino

“If you’re an amateur your focus should be on avoiding stupidity.” How to play the long game and succeed by avoiding mistakes … more >>

“Indeed, to the extent [that Whole Foods’ Mackey has compared Amazon to] Waterloo is a valid analogy, Amazon is much more akin to the British Empire, and there is now one less obstacle to sitting astride all aspects of the economy.”

– Ben Thompson, “Amazon’s New Customer,” Stratechery

Stoics saw human nature as capable of rationality if trained (a factor “rational actor” fans often ignore), training in three disciplines (of desires, actions, and reactions) and in four capabilities (“courage, temperance, justice and practical wisdom”) … more >>

“Obsoletion – where a cheaper, single-purpose product is replaced by a more expensive, general purpose product – is just as common as ‘disruption’ – even more so, in fact.  Why the Mac (and PC), iPod, and iPhone weren’t so much disruptive as they were obsoletive.”

– Ben Thompson, “Obsoletive,” Stratechery

“Pop-up philosophy is often more of an occasion for selfie-snapping than self-reflection. How to find the time to stop, sit down and think.” more >>

André Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at the Cass Business School at City, University of London, author of The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work (2016). You can get the book on Amazon.

Is it normal to feel more spiritual as one ages?  Hindus mark out four stages in life: brahmacari (student), grihastha (householder), vanaprashtha (forest-dweller), sannyasi (renounced one). This structure reminds me that perhaps the elderly are drawn to spiritual questions not because they are caught up in beliefs of rewards or punishments in the afterlife or because they fear death. Rather it may be because the time finally feels right to satisfy inchoate yearnings for any kind of answer to those questions. “The Aśrama System” by Patrick Olivelle … book available at Amazon.

“What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.” Harvard political scientist Graham Allison says the Thucydides Trap can occur when a ruling power, feeling threatened by an assertive rising power, often resorts to war. Mr. Graham argues nations like the U.S. can apply lessons from history, apply mutual deterrence strategies, to deal with today’s emerging powers like China … more >>

A good founder is capable of anticipating which turns lead to treasure and which lead to certain death. A bad founder is just running to the entrance of (say) the “movies/music/filesharing/P2P” maze or the “photosharing” maze without any sense for the history of the industry, the players in the maze, the casualties of the past, and the technologies that are likely to move walls and change assumptions.”  more >>

Balaji S. Srinivasan, venture capitalist, “The Idea Maze

Self-talk can help us learn and think better. When we’re engaged in a conversation with ourselves, we typically ask ourselves questions along the lines of: “How will I know what I know? What do I find confusing? Do I really know this?” Whether we hit the pause button while listening to a podcast or stop to reflect while reading a manual, we develop skills more effectively by thinking about our thinking… more >>

Ulrich Boser, book author and senior fellow at American Progress

“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang onto.”

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and a prolific reader of books, once reading two per day in various disciplines when he was younger… more >>

“The duty of man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and … attack it from every side.”

Ibn al-Haytham

Has the human mind, finite in its capacity, been finally eclipsed by science and technology?  more >>

 

“Courage, President Kennedy knew, requires something more than just the absence of fear. Any fool can be fearless. Courage, true courage, derives from that sense of who we are … and the belief that we can dig deep and do hard things for the enduring benefit of others.”

– Barack Obama, in a speech on May 7th while accepting the 2017 Centennial “Profiles in Courage” JFK Award… more >>

“I divide my officers into four groups: clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. [Among the four groups] anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions.”

-German general Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, used Hanlon’s razor to assess his men

“Being immersed in the commercial world constrains the mind, limiting it to conventional, acceptable thought; it is hard to close a sale if we pause in the proceedings to meditate at length about a man’s relation to the cosmos.”

-Daniel Klein, “Travels with Epicurus” – terrific book on aging well and gracefully with purpose, through the ruminations of an old man dawdling through the timeless philosophy of the wise.  You can get the book on Amazon.

 

“Intelligence analysts should be self-conscious about their reasoning processes. They should think about how they make judgments and reach conclusions, not just about the judgments and conclusions themselves…”

– Richards J. Heuer, “Psychology of Intelligence Analysis” more >>

Like these two brothers and many visitors to the Plum Village, I came, in 2016, with no expectations and no prior knowledge of the place, the people, or its practice. I did come armed with questions and brought a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh, renowned Zen master and Buddhist. After a month practicing silent meditation, I came away transformed …  more >>

Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, Ingmar Bergman and Charles Darwin working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a high passion, ambition and capacity to focus, yet only worked a few hours a day. How did they manage to be so accomplished?  more >>

Napoleon Bonaparte was said to have studied all the great wars before his time, those of Hannibal, Alexander the Great and others, so completely and intently that he was able to intuit coup d’oeil – the right strategy at the right opportunity – to earn his many victories in the battlefield.  more >>

“Any type of change is hard, but institutional change – with the need to overcome tradition and bureaucracy – is the most difficult.” How father of modern oceanography Matthew Fontaine Maury mastered geographical, wind and sea data, and transformed maritime exploration… more >>

“You’ll have to work twice as hard to get half as much.  So get busy,” says a mom to a 10 year-old Marty Chavez after complaining that he was the only Hispanic kid in a private school in New Mexico.  Chavez is now Goldman Sach’s incoming CFO after years at the firm and as a serial tech entrepreneur… more >>

“The deep learning and AI sector have heated up in labor markets to relatively unprecedented levels. Large companies are recently paying $6–10 million per engineer for talent acquisitions, and $4–5M per head for pre-product startups still in academia …” more >>

“Our family lives in over-scheduled [team-sports] suburbia. Sometimes it feels downright dystopian. If you live in the suburbs [in the US], participation in team sports seems to be all the social activity on offer…”  more >>

“The study of law can be disappointing at times, a matter of applying narrow rules and arcane procedure to an uncooperative reality.  But the law is also a memory; the law records a long-running conversation, a nation arguing with its conscience.”

-Barack Obama in Dreams from My Father.  You can get the book on Amazon.

Azeem Azhar talks with Professor Jeff Zachs, an authority on economic development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.  Good conversation covering a wide range of topics: AI, wealth inequality, automation and ethics by Aristotle, who is one of my favorite philosophers.  Soundcloud link (46 minutes)

Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight. It is the only real weapon we have against power.”

Michelle Dean, a writer for the New Yorker and New York Times, on why paying attention is a moral obligation.

“Look, my job is essentially just corralling more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action. And Charlie [Munger] — his children call him a book with legs.”

-Warren Buffett, famous investor, billionaire, and a prolific reading machine who spends 80% of his day reading … more >>

Taylor’s Gift is a story of hope and courage in the face of tragedy.  My dearest sister, who knows I love reading, gave it to me as a holiday gift to console me over the recent losses of our brother and our beloved dog. Thirteen-year old Taylor Storch lost her life in a skiing accident and the book tells the harrowing journey her surviving parents and family went afterwards.  Taylor’s foundation now functions to preserve her legacy.  You can get the book on Amazon.

Caterina Fake writes about literature, poetry, social justice and the arts on her site at caterina.net.  I’ve been following her work and writings since 2000, around the time she launched her site and years before she became more well-known for founding Flickr (acquired by Yahoo), and Hunch (acquired and shut down by eBay). Over 118 thousand followers on Twitter and a Fast Company’s Fast 50 awardee.

Gary Vaynerchuk may hate me if I described him as my main go-to “motivational speaker” because in reality who he is, what he’s done with his work and Vayner Media defy one singularly apt description.   Entrepreneur, social media expert, digital media baron, businessman, mentor, hyper-energetic speaker, the list could be endless #AskGaryVee.  Over 1,400,000 followers on Twitter.  Here’s a sample video of one motivating talk.

“My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy…the battles between incumbents and software-powered insurgents will be epic.  Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who coined the term ‘creative destruction,’ would be proud.”

Marc Andreesen, former founder of Netscape and venture capitalist at A16Z (listen to their podcasts), in a 2011 essay “Software is Eating the World,” still relevant to this day.

Albert Meige on why in 2033, you will be “transferring,” i.e. selling your services to the highest bidder, unless you’re among the unlucky 90% who will not possess the right skills or education to be working. Mr. Meige runs Presans, an “open innovation” crowdsourced platform linking 5 million industry experts in business and strategy. 18-minute video.

Wikistrat crowdsourced consulting’s analytic community of over 2,200 diverse and interdisciplinary subject matter experts on geopolitics, strategy and economics is the future of management consulting.  Its roster of over 500 PhDs and 125 former military officers, and simulation-driven methodology offer a compelling alternative to McKinsey or Deloitte.

Daniel Kahneman’s book on Thinking Fast and Slow is a very readable, non-technical purview of our mind’s often systematic thinking errors and how they are mainly due to “errors in the machinery of cognition (ie. biases, heuristics) rather than to the corruption of thought by emotion.”  Terrific book on understanding your own mental systems, as well as a “must-read” at the CIA.  You can get it on Amazon.

“Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding. Each book opens up new avenues of knowledge to explore.”

Bill Gates’ list of books is on my virtual book shelf.  He reads up to 50 books per year.   I am often either consuming or planning to read one of the books he has read and recommends.  Mr. Gates, founder of Microsoft, the Gates Foundation has over 30 million followers on Twitter and is perennially on the Forbes list of billionaires.

James Clear writes about “behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance improvement.”  I’m one of over 350,000 subscribers to his weekly newsletter and consumer of his simple but good content on mental systems.  His article on four burners theory is a favorite of mine.

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings ,”a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why,” is my go-to resource for meditations on design, philosophy, and psychology.  Ms. Popova was a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree and in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative in Business list.

Benedict Evans at Andreessen Horowitz is my main resource for “what’s going on and what will happen next” in artificial intelligence, mobile and technology.  He has over 70,000 subscribers and 190,000 followers on Twitter.