Enemy Mind

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“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Isaac Asimov

What I’m about to say will look nerdish. I was checking at a PC game on Steam the other day, Crusader Kings II, for those of you who care about it. For the others, it doesn’t really matter. My friends talked about that game for the past three years. They always told me how much I would like it. A historical game of conquest…well I guess that is exactly the kind of stuff I like! Having a shitty laptop, I told them each time that sadly I couldn’t run the game.

The other night, I saw the demo online. I had a doubt. You know….kind of a “what if” situation. I downloaded the thing. I started the game and…it worked! IT FUCKING WORKED! I sent an sms to my friend telling him that I made probably the stupidest assumption of the decade. He found it very funny. And he told me something like our assumption are most often bad. My first thought was: “If I was wrong about that all the time, what else could I be wrong about?” Here we are.

It made me see that these kind of stupid assumptions can crawl into our brains and affect much more important stuff in our lives than a video game. What if you’re not making the most important move of your life because of that? It’s worth thinking about it.

Randomness #4

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Life/Culture

[*] Gary Bettman’s Hockey Goal (Wall Street Journal) – Great article about Gary Bettman’s work with the NHL. No matter what we can say against him, since he’s the job, NHL revenue has increased by 1000%.

[*] The Sweat Solution (Gratland.com – Short film) – A 17 minutes video about the birth of Gatorade in Florida. It was used at first by University of Florida football team.

[*] Hardcore History Podcast – I’ve discovered that podcast at the beginning of the year. I’m a bit late about that one. It’s already a top blog on Itunes. If you want to learn about The First World War, the Vikings or the Khans Empire, it’s the place to go. I’ve personally started with Prophets of Doom.


Self-Improvement

[*] What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly Successful People (jamesaltucher.com) – James Altucher is an interesting writer. He’s also the host of his own podcast. Among his guest, the billionaire Mark Cuban. In this article, he make a summary of what he learned doing all his interviews for his podcast.

[*] 10 Tips for Successfully Working from Home (Art of Manliness) – Ever dreamed of working from home? Here are a few useful tips to achieve that goal and make it success.

[*] Productivity Advice I Learned from People Smarter Than Me (NY Observer) – Great article by Ryan Holiday. He talked about what he learned from great people…past or present. You’ll learn a bunch of stuff from the likes of Napoleon, Andrew Carnegie, Montaigne or Robert Greene.


 Health/Fitness

[*] Oil Bags: The Rise of the Idiots (T-Nation.com) – Funny article in sense, but not so much after all. Learn about stupid people injecting “site-enhancement oil” to artificially inflate muscles. You can guess that complications follow afterward.

[*] Brain Drinks Might Make You Less Smart (Wired) – An article about the brand of drink “NeuroSonic”. After some research, it look like it doesn’t help you being smarter. 

[*] Detoxes: an undefined scam (Examine.com) – Tired of hearing about cleanse and detox? It’s surprising how much people believe in it. Science says it’s all a scam. A must read.

[*] Can drinking wine really replace exercise? (Examine.com) – It’s an answer to an article that claim that red wine could replace an hour of exercise. Welcome to the world of catchy headlines and bullshit journalism. Thank God, Examine is here to save the day.


Books

[*] Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game – Remember the movie with Brad Pitt? It’s the book that inspired it. It’s simply great. One of the best book I’ve read in a while. The book explain how the Oakland A’s were at the top of the MLB at the beginning of the 2000s despite being the poorest. How can the poorest team do almost as good as the richest (cough Yankees cough)?

[*] The Magic of Thinking Big – A classic self-help book published in 1959. This book was recommended by many authors. I remember Tim Ferriss saying it was one of his favorite. It’s the perfect book to read at the beginning of the year. It’s a great kick in the butt.

[*] You Are Now Less Dumb – I’m a reader of the author’s blog (You Are Not So Smart). The book is about human delusions about themselves. It’s good popular psychology. You’ll learn a bunch of stuff…and you’ll be less dumb in the end.


 Entertainment

[*] The Interview (Netflix) – A lot of buzz around that movie because of all the crap that happened with North Korea. It’s a fun movie with Seth Rogen and James Franco. Not oscar worthy, but an enjoyable two hours.  You can either buy it on YouTube or watch it on Netflix.

[*] The Guest (movie) – I didn’t know to expect from that independent movie, but I really liked it. The soundtrack is great.  The story is simple. A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, he claim to be a friend of their son who died on the front. Once he is welcome inside the home, a series of weird events occurs. The movie has a strong 80s vibe. We can see it as an homage to old John Carpenter’s or James Cameron’s movies.

[*] Rogue Legacy (Game on Steam) – Nothing new under the sun. The game was published in 2013. It was on my list since a while. I almost didn’t game in 2014. I gave a try to this one. It’s amazing how a game with simple graphic can be so addictive and good. My younger self playing the old Nintendo would have been crazy about it. The game bring two interesting thing…when you die you comeback as the child of you hero. The castle you explore randomly change when you die. I like new concepts like these.


Misc

[*] Experts Say These Are The 20 Best Beers In The World (Businessinsider.com) – Not a recent article. It’s from August 2014. But, if you’re searching for a must try beer list. It’s a good one.

[*] 7 Ways to Level Up Your Morning Coffee Routine (Art of Manliness) – Coffee must be one of the best thing in the world. Ok ok I’m a coffee addict…I know! #2 is something I’ve never thought about. It’s a wonderful idea. And I should try #6.

Randomness of July 2014

In “randomness”, I’m posting about the interesting stuff of the last month. It can be quotes, books, articles, websites, movies or whatever I think you could find interesting.

I’m kind of late this month. I was in the Balkans for 15 days and I’ve come back a week ago. The trip was awesome. I had the chance to visit Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Montenegro. I won’t go in more details.

[1] I rarely read fiction book and I want to make amend of that in the future. Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale was my first move on the good path. It’s the first book of the James Bond series. It’s more or less the same story as 2006 movie but in Cold War setting instead of the present. You can also take off the poker game by baccarat. A good book pack with action.

[2] I read a quick book just before leaving to Europe. It was Nate Green’s Bigger Smaller Bigger. The author take us in its adventure to get 20ibs of muscle in 28 days, lose 20ibs in 5 days, and get it all back. It’s interesting on the self-experimentation perspective. If you have any interest on getting muscle mass, I think it’s a good inspiration for it.

[3] I had the chance to see the legendary hardcore band Cro-Mags in show upon my return from Europe. I was surprise to see how many well-known rock bands say they were influence by them. One interesting stuff is that I thought the lead singer was in his late thirties…he’s in fact more than 50. I’ve done some research and the guy is an advocate of healthy lifestyle. He is the author of the book Meat is For Pussies about the lifestyle of being vegan, athletic and strong. I’m not vegan but the book look good and I would be curious to read it. Even the MMA fighter Jake Shields is a fan of the book.

[4] I’ve stumbled upon a quote from the business thinker Peter Drucker: “What gets measured gets managed.” Whatever you’re goal, if you can measure it, it will be way easier to achieve it. For example, if you goal is to lose weight you can measure your carbs intake or the calories you’re eating. I’ve noticed that the habits changes I wanted in my life were way easier to achieved when I was measuring the goal and tracking the progress.

[5] If you want to watch a weird documentary, I suggest Room 237. It’s free on YouTube. It’s about theories from fans on Stanley Kubrick’s Shining. It’s fun to see all those odds theories like the idea that Shining double meaning is the genocide of Indians. The fan show all the clues that point toward that theory. You’ll see theory like the Holocaust, the thematic of the Minotaur and much more. It’s nothing really serious, but it’s entertaining. My favorite part was the study of the set, I think it’s the best part.

[6] Do you like board games? One of my friend as a hardcore boardgamer and he always try new Kickstarter projects. Last time I went to his place, we’ve played a game of Kremlin. It’s an updated version of the old 1980’s game from Fata Morgana and Avallon Hill. It’s a strategic game of influence that take place in Soviet Union. The goal is more or less to take control of the Politburo.

[7] One of my favorite book is Letters From a Stoic by the roman philosopher Lucius Seneca. The book was written 2000 years ago and it could have been written today.  I’ve bumped into one of my favorite quote from the book last week: Now I bear it in mind not only that all things are liable to death but that liability is governed by no set of rules. Whatever can happen at anytime can happen today.” Whatever can happen someday, could happen today. You will die someday, but not rules says it shouldn’t be today, in a week or in 65 years.

[8] You’re serious about weightlifting but you don’t know how much alcohol you should take? I suggest you read Dr. Jade Teta’s article on the subject: A Lifter’s Guide to Alcohol. I’ve learned a bunch of things because of it. Seriously, a whole book should be written about that subject.

[9] I’ve got my hand on a cooking book. It’s La Technique by Jacques Pépin. Each recipes or techniques are shown step-by-step with pictures. That is must to learn and master cooking techniques. This is something I’ve been putting off since a long time. I like to cook, but since a year and half I’m really lazy. Hopefully, this book will motivate me to get the job done.

[10] We will finish with a quote from Jacques Pépin:”All the great chefs I know – Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten – they are technicians first.” This can apply to any fields, you need to understand and learn the techniques if you want to become good. It’s the same whether you are a cook, a martial artist or a pilot.

Randomness of June 2014

In “randomness”, I’m posting about the interesting stuff of the last month. It can be quotes, books, articles, websites, movies or whatever I think you could find interesting.

[1] I’ve been reading Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus Notch Persson and the Game that Changed Everything. I don’t remember reading a book that fast. It was a really well written biographic book. It was a complete dive in the world of indy games. It’s also a great story of success. It will probably part of my series “On the Bookshelf”.

[2] Here is a great quote by Calvin Coolidge (president of United States from 1923-1929): “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.The quote is self-explanatory. Whatever gift or talent you have, whatever school degrees you have, it won’t get you anywhere if you are not willing to do hard work.

[3] Do you know about Examine.com? It’s an independent organization that presents research on supplements and nutrition. They have tons of references to research on their website. They just released their Stack Guides. They cover subjects like testosterone, fat loss, sleep quality, bone health, memory and much more. You can buy each of them separately or all of them for a lower price.

[4] You should listen to the Art of Manliness podcast with John Romaniello. John is a bodybuilder and the writer of Man 2.0. The podcast is touching subjects like testosterone, Joseph Campbell, hormone optimization, intermittent fasting, fitness, the definition of “alpha” and a lot more.

[5] An excellent quote by the writer Mark Twain: “I am a very old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened.” It’s easy to be stressed by many things in our daily lives. Most of those things aren’t that important. We tend to overestimate the impact of bad things on long-term. If you have a house over your head, food to eat, your family is in good health and so is yourself…probably that your other problems are not that much important. My best example…last week I’ve had problems with my cellphone. On the moment it was the end of the world. It took a matter of 10 minutes to get things in order at the cell company. One week later, I don’t even bother anymore. In three months I won’t even remember about it.

[6] I recommend two great articles by Ryan Holiday. The first is Things I Learned On the Way to 27. I relate to this article because I’ve turned 27 in June.  Here is a quote I’ve found impactful: “It doesn’t matter what age you are or how healthy you are: people die. They die unexpectedly. They die tragically. Sometimes they die violently. Never let this drift too far from your mind.” The other one is 30 Must Read Quotes From Icons of History Required To Turn Your Adversity Into Advantage. Get ready for the like of Marcus Aurelius, Churchill and Thoreau. I hope you like quotes!

[7] I’ve read 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler. It’s a weightlifting program as a book. I’ve you are in interested in powerlifting or bodybuilding, it’s worth taking a look. I’m currently doing that program and it’s breath of fresh air. 

[8] I’m cheating, it’s a July article, but here is Love is Not Enough on Mark Manson blog. It’s about the idealization of love and relationships. I was surprise by the intro on John Lennon and so you will. Great stuff. 

[9] Another good quote by the humorist Louis CK:You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person.” It’s true that we have so much difficulty nowadays to just spend time with ourselves. It’s like we are junkie for information or sensation. Being active non-stop. It’s not a surprise that we have so much anxiety and stress in our lives. On that note, I’m planning to read Mindfulness In Plain English.

[10] One more book that I’ve read was The Gallic Wars by Gaius Caesar. The title says everything, it’s the military campaign of Caesar in Gaul just before Rome Civil War. It’s really straightforward. Don’t expect things about the life of Caesar or the Roman army, it’s mostly a summary of the different military campaigns. It’s the only book that has been written by Caesar.