Books and Links: January

Happy new year! 2021 hasn’t let up where 2020 left off… I hope y'all are safe and filling up your journals with notes on the goodness around you.

I’m really enjoying starting to actually work with rather than simply work on my PKM/zettelkasten/thing… it’s starting to really bear fruit in blog posts, documentation, and hopefully deeper thoughts.


On deck: Leadership Strategy and Tactics by Jocko Willinck, Design Systems by Alla Kholmatova, Do More Better by Tim Challies

The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington

I’ll likely do a separate review post on this book at some point, I’m still swishing around the ideas and trying a few of them. I like to have tried some of the ideas from a book before I speak about them.

I really resonated with this central idea:

we don’t have a knowledge problem, we have an execution problem.

The whole book is a system of creating a personal engagement with long-term strategic goals, and attaining them by simply executing and measuring the most impactful actions. I feel that this book will work best for highly motivated people who work well with urgency.

I also have been thinking about the Emotional Cycle of Change a lot since reading the book… especially with my three year old. She is experiencing many new things these days.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Content Warning: Foul language and graphic sexual depictions (which I skipped).

What a strange, textural, meta experience. I just finished it, and I can’t decide how I feel about it. To talk about House of Leaves is to spoil House of Leaves, so if you are curious, message me directly and I’ll talk about my thoughts wtih you.

The colors, fonts, typography, fictional and real sources, edits, footnotes, poetry, and mythology entice us to enter this labyrinth of a book again and again… but I don’t think I will.

Sometimes a house is just a house.

The underground market for $300,000 pet fish

This is really wild.

Owners will go above and beyond to keep their fish aesthetically pleasing.

Dedicated “fish beauticians run profitable businesses performing plastic surgery on fish. In a bid to flaunt the most beautiful specimen, owners give their pets eye lifts ($90), chin jobs ($60), and tail alterations ($60).

The underground market for $300,000 pet fish

That XOR Trick

As someone who spends most of his coding time in contrived puzzles ala Advent of Code, this was a fun read.

The XOR trick: If we have a sequence of XOR operations a ^ b ^ c ^ …, then we can remove all pairs of duplicated values without affecting the result.

That XOR Trick

Convex and Concave Dispositions

in high-dimensional environments the most common setting that you can expect to find yourself in is not a universally convex or universally concave one, but rather a saddle point: a point where the local region is convex in some directions but concave in other directions.

This is an interesting mental model. Anecdotally, I believe that it’s true. Theoretically, I can’t decide if it’s related to relativism vs absolutism in regards to truth, it merely personality differences. I do appreciate the acknowledgment that both positions are valuable.

Convex and Concave Dispositions

The Great Unraveling

This is an odd article… while I certainly don’t agree with Bari’s worldview, I find that I agree with many of the sentiments within.

I’m not sure I’m willing to simply “blame the machines,” to blame a technological oligarchy as the blind tool masters of our broken universe.

How did Heine see it? How, a hundred years before Hitler, did he possess the terrible vision that “a play would be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll”?

He understood, first, that the “talisman” was fragile, that the veneer of civilization was so much thinner than most people understood. And he understood that if it was torn “the ancient stony gods,” who never really died, could be awakened from their sleep once again.

Second, Heine saw with total clarity that revolutions in the street begin as revolutions in sense-making. “Do not laugh at one who foresees in the region of the visible the revolution that has already occurred in the invisible domain of the spirit. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder.”

The invisible revolutions of the 21st century — revolutions that began with word games and lies — are increasingly apparent in the “region of the visible.”

(Emphasis mine.)

This reminded me of Proverbs 4:23:

[23] Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

The Great Unraveling

I found this a good caution with which to enter 2021.

  • 2021-02-01 00:04:12 +0000

    mentioning skipping

  • 2021-01-31 23:59:33 +0000

    New post: Books and Links January