(Bi)Weekly Learning Journal 6 (12/10/2020)

Table of Contents

Hi RIP readers,

welcome to the RIP (Bi)Weekly Learning Journal.

As you can see, this episode is mostly focused on creativity (writing, podcasting), productivity, entrepreneurship, learning, growing, mastery and few other topics that I think are well suited for someone struggling with their creative career.

Actually, the above mentioned are recurring topics in my WLJs. See previous entries about Paul Graham, Nat Eliason, Naval Ravikant. That’s where my curiosity wanders these days.

Asking myself to write and publish my Learning Journal is a kind of intervention. For myself, by myself.

And It’s working! I can feel a gentle push to get out and go wild, trust my skills and attitude, quit the career game entirely.

Time will tell.

Next episode on Monday October 26th, and I suspect will be centered around Naval Ravikant 🙂

Enjoy!

P.S. I’m thinking about moving this series into a mailing list, probably on substack 🙂


Cal Newport on why “follow your passion” is a bad advice (9.5/10)

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I’ve mentioned and linked this video so many times that I’m probably becoming annoying. But since I’ve mentioned it once more in my recent 2020 Q3 Update, I took time to watch it once again.

And yes, it’s an evergreen. it’s simply perfect. It should be a mandatory assignment for every high school student in the world.

Someone says that we, FIRE blogger (am I still a FIRE blogger?), never talk about “how to earn more”. That we focus too much on how to save and how to invest.

Well, I’m doing my part to drift in the right direction: I’m collecting a bunch of “mandatory resources” to become unstoppable, to boost your earnings. This video is one of them.

Enjoy!


Venkatesh Rao’s 2011 tips for advanced writers on Quora (9/10)

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This Quora answer is full of tips if you want to improve your writing. Or your thinking.

Many people I follow tend to associate writing with thinking. If you write better, you think better. If you write more, you sharpen your thinking… Everyone, every single writer will tell you this.

But Venkatesh makes a distinction between the two here:

Because I am not trying to develop writing skills. I am trying to develop thinking skills.

The two are the same thing in beginner stage, but differ in the advanced stage, even though the medium remains the same for both (words).

So the first advanced writing skill is to recognize your natural talents and choose to either go with or against your grain.

Do you want to be a writer or a thinker? One lifetime normally isn’t enough to be both.

What a sobering start!

I want to get better at writing. I will want to have written dozens of books! But I mainly want to be  thinker. I don’t want to improve the quality of my writing for its own sake. I want to use writing as a medium to express my thinking. The medium may change (audio, video, brain waves, whatever) but the fact is that thinking – and producing original ideas AND implement some of them – is the main goal.

A lot of food for thought!

Oh, yeah, the post is also filled with good writing (and rewriting) advices, one level of abstraction above what you usually see elsewhere. Classical Venkatesh writing thinking style.

Anyway, I wrote some longer notes about this Quora answer.


Mad Fientist’s podcast episode about his Ultralearning Experiment (9/10)

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This is an amazing podcast by the Mad FIentist, which is moving away from the money/FIRE topic (like me) and toward doing something great with the newfound freedom, after having retired (unlike me) 4 years ago.

This episode is about focus, habits, deep work, digital minimalism, deliberate practice, ultralearning, and productivity – all of them applied to his own Music endeavor for the past three months.

In past episodes of his podcast he interviewed James Clear about habits, Cal Newport about Deep Work and Digital Minimalism (and I’d also add Deliberate Practice), and Scott Young about Ultralearning. I’d recommend you to check out these three episodes as well.

Add to the above pack Naval Ravikant, Paul Graham and few others and the framework is clear (not James): the path to achieve anything valuable in life is built on top of these pillars: work hard, get good at something rare and valuable for the society, enjoy the process, make the hard work a habit, turn it into your identity, avoid distractions, learn how to focus, enjoy the Flow State, produce some measurable output that you’re proud of. Alternate curiosity driven exploration (always learn), and exploitation of what you already know (always produce). Be structured in your learning process, use a Personal Knowledge Management system, take notes, journal. Don’t care too much about failures, care a bit about the opinions of the people around you – but filter/contextualize them. Find a way to make a living in the meantime. Repeat. Success.

My quest to collect the resources to help you “create wealth” is almost complete. I’m ready to write my book.

Yeah, but what is this podcast episode about?

Oh right, sorry! I’m always playing with the pieces of the Wisdom puzzle, I get lost easily 🙂

Mad FIentist is the active FIRE Blogger that I feel closer to (LivingaFI, please, come back!). He’s facing my same issues, my same problems. Except he quit his job years go while I’m still also struggling with that.

After few years of being “kind of productive but not ultra-productive” in many areas, and procrastinating in “the one thing” he really wanted to be doing, he met the guys I mentioned above (Clear, Newport, and Young) and finally decided to use Scott Young’s Ultralearning techniques for his own project: releasing an album. And he did it! The album is available for preorder on his website for $5.

Mad Fientist detailed in this podcast how he was able to focus for many hours per day, the techniques that worked. I loved the habit stack (from James Clear) concept, the distraction avoidance techniques – including, and that hurts, the “productive distractions” like working on his blog. He kind of put his blog on hold for three months! Maybe if I want to achieve something “big” I should reduce current exposure to “disordered” curiosity and creativity and aim at something bigger, both input-wise and output-wise.

Anyway, the path is clear (not James… ok, I’ll stop). When I’ll write my book on money, the earning chapter is already written.

Enjoy the podcast!


David Perell on how he produces a podcast (8.5/10)

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I’ve been deep diving into David Perell recently. I think I met him a couple of years ago. I’ve read some of his essays, and the one about writing (a solid 8/10) stuck in my head for a long time. Then I lost track of him for a while. Few months ago I found another great article of his about writing (this is a 9/10) and decided to subscribe to his Monday Musings mailing list.

A lot of good stuff! This guy is a machine! And he gives away so many valuable insights about how he woks, digging deep into his creative process. This long form essay about how he produces a podcast is a blueprint that you can take and emulate. There’s everything you need to know to get started, really. What’s left is your hard work and your unique ingredients.

Incredibly useful! And of course – if I had enough time – I’d like to start a podcast 🙂

Mind that this guide is not only about podcasting. it’s about interviewing, how to stimulate a good conversation by asking interesting questions. This is a valuable skill on its own! One of the friends I like spending time more with is a master of asking interesting questions, and an awesome listener. It’s a field I want to improve anyway.

For example, the Idea Fracking concept is genius:

I’m currently listening to his podcast with Eric Jorgenson (the author of The Almanack of Naval Ravikant), and I saw his idea fracking strategy in action at minute 13:11 here: “you love comedy, what advice would Naval have for your favorite comedian, from a business perspective?“. Great question! The interlocutor answered “interesting question…” and then he had to take a several seconds pause before answering it.

David also offers you a guide on how to contact someone and how to convince them that accepting to be interviewed by you is interesting and valuable for them. This is gold, and not only podcast/interview related.

Bonus: check his recent podcasts with Morgan Housel, Grant Sanderson (3Blue1Brown), and the above mentioned Eric Jorgenson (Almanack of Naval Ravikant)

Another bonus: an extract of Sanderson’s podcast about creativity and idleness


Veritasium on General Relativity and Gravity (8.5/10)

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It’s the best video I’ve found about “General Relativity for dummies” so far. Well, “relative” dummies.

Incredibly high rating, well deserved.

While I got Special Relativity early on my student life, I’ve always struggled to grasp the core idea behind General Relativity. This video expose it in the simplest way I can think of.

Enjoy!


Kurzgesagt on Climate Change and Co2 emissions (8.5/10)

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Kurzgesagt explaining what is driving up Co2 emissions and what we can do about it.

Very clear, very scientific.


Venkatesh Rao on Text Renaissance (8.5/10)

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I like Venkatesh Rao, but I don’t read most of what he produces. He writes mostly long for essays on ribbonfarm. I think he’s hard to follow mot of the times. I don’t have his writing in my feed anymore (well, not too far ago I devoured The Gervais Principle).

Gotta reduce the input sources, you know…

But there are aspects of his thinking that I love, and I can’t exactly describe why.

When he comes down to earth and talks a more understandable language, I can see that he’s a genius.

I follow him on Twitter. His twits are thought provoking, mental gymnastics. He’s tweeting a lot about Roam Research these days. A tool I use and love (and I’d love to set time apart to improve my usage of it). So I thought “I’m sure good old VR wrote a post about Roam and Note Taking and maybe something more visionary – like he always does. Let’s Google “ribbonfarm roam research” and see what happens”.

This February 2020 article came out, and I had to read it.

And it was amazing!

As I expected it is full of intellectual speculation about the future. I love that 🙂 – especially when the predictions align with my hopes. I’m a confirmation bias addicted.

Venkatesh claims that “There is a renaissance underway in online text as a medium“, and he tells us why he think so.

Then he claims tat blogs are on the verge of death – this time for real. And my mood changed 🙁

Anyway, very insightful read. One of the best of this biweekly cycle.


Venkatesh Rao’s 2013 tip for Entrepreneurs on Quora (8.5/10)

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Yet another amazing Quora answer by Venkatesh Rao!

I see myself as an entrepreneur now 🙂


Raptitude on Awe (8.5/10)

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Amazing post! We easily forget what “awe” is and how beneficial it is for us.

In David’s words:

Walking.

Going for a walk is an age-old salve for many ills: isolation, disappointment, drowsiness, worry, heartbreak, writer’s block, general stagnation, and boredom. The activity of walking benefits the mind and body in ways we’re still discovering, due to its all-star ingredient list of fresh air, exercise, change of scenery, contact with nature, and contemplation time.

What is Awe?

Awe is “a positive emotion elicited when in the presence of vast things not immediately understood.” Looking out at the ocean, or even just observing the busywork of ants, can evoke awe.

What are the benefits of awe?

The researchers believe awe reduces self-preoccupation, promotes connection with others, and fosters pro-social behavior.  I suspect awe is, for humans, an essential spiritual nutrient, one our modern lifestyles don’t provide nearly enough of.

Do I need to space travel to find awe?

You don’t need to have Yosemite in your backyard to find awe. A single tree is awesome, in the word’s true sense. It’s a towering plant that grew from a sprout, making wood out of sunlight, spreading tendrils through the ground beneath you, at speeds slower than stillness but with sidewalk-buckling force. It stands there every night, and every day, performing this mysterious and unstoppable work. There are billions of them, and if you give them enough time they’ll cross continents.

Why is it beneficial?

The therapeutic effect of awe seems to have something to do with holding this vastness in mind at the same time as your day-to-day anxieties. If you’re preoccupied with uncertainty in your life, it seems like everything. But, as the tireless work of trees and ants can remind you, everything – the real Everything — is unfathomably bigger than anything you can worry about. And that’s a relief, when you can see it.

Awesome (no pun intended)!

I see many connections with other reads of mine, like More To That: The quest to the unlived life (link, 9.5/10), and the Zvi: Choices are bad.


David Perell about creating a personal Podcast (8/10)

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I mentioned this short post quickly in the previous WLJ, but I came back to it after having read the gargantuan “How I produce a Podcast“.

In this short post David expresses a great idea for someone who wants to start building their personal brand. This piece of advice can be implemented with zero initial costs, and it will boost your creativity, discipline, and organization skills. I think every young professional should have that.

I’m thinking how to implement it and integrate in my daily routine myself.


Venkatesh Rao’s 2011 tips for Software Engineering on Quora (8/10)

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It’s Venkatesh Rao week!

This one is almost 10 years old, but still gold.


MyPersonalFinance on US Domiciled ETFs for Swiss Investor (8/10)

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A perfect article on UCITS, PRIIP, KIID, KID and the thin line that is allowing us to buy US Domiciled funds (for now).

I don’t see a rosy future…

P.S. this is a very good blog! It’s born recently (Feb 2020), owned by a CFA (not a charlatan like me!), and full of investing and tax saving gems for Swiss residents!


Scott Galloway on Financial Crisis and Asset Bubbles (8/10)

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Well, it’s not as bad as pre-DotCom, but many signals are worrisome: easy money, poor regulation, and “an hallucination that the market always goes up”.

More concretely: the raise of SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies), the use of weird metrics (like adjusted EBITDA) for unprofitable companies to look cool, the raise of stocks whose narrative is more important than their fundamentals (Tesla, Virgin Galactic, and more hilariously Nikola), and Robinhood playing the role E-Trade played in the DotCom to add fuel to the fire.

A nice, uncomfortable watch.

Enjoy!


Les Kristofs videos on Roam research (8/10)

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You probably know I’m a happy user of Roam research for note taking, Personal Knowledge Management, Daily journaling, my version of Tiago Forte’s PARA, my “CRM” (but I don’t have customers), and I’m also forcing it to become my productivity tool.

Essentially, Roam takes a huge portion of my creative and organizational life. It’s my Second Brain.

Of course I told myself “let’s use it for my new research job as well, it’s literally what this tool was meant for! It has the word ‘research’ in its name!“.

First thing I wanted to check was: does Roam support Latex? So I googled for it and found this video from a kid, Sofia. Ok, no judgement, let’s check the video… and it’s very well done!

Checked other videos in the channel and oh my god, I learned a lot of Roam tricks from Sofia and Maya, two sisters which apparently are part of a family of Circus Artists.

What the hell, you are amazing! Your videos are unimaginable for kids your age! Why the hell you need to integrate Latex in Roam at age… what, 13?? Checked their Text Expander with JS video, their Roam Research for kids video, their personalization video…

This gives me hope in the human race.

I wish you little girls millions of subscribers, you deserve it 🙂


eBiz Facts on Steel Man Argument (7.5/10)

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Nice video on what a Steel Man argument is: the opposite of Straw Man fallacy, where you try to argue against a stronger version of your opponent’s position.

This is not very common in political debates, where politicians’ logical fallacy usage bar is set a centimeter above what the the median IQ of their target audience can grasp. Sadly it’s usually a very low bar.

But intellectual debates are way richer, interesting, and honorable if those who are arguing are willing to make the extra step to fight a stronger version of their opponent’s position.

Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says “thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

The examples shown are from one of the famous high quality debate between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris (link – 10/10, seriously, watch this one). Awesome!

On the same topic you might also want to take a look at this Farnam Street post about Straw Man, Hollow Man, Iron Man, and Steel Man (link, 8/10). Still on FS blog, you might want to read this other old post, one of my all time favorites, titled The work required to have an opinion (link, 9/10).

Healthy arguing everyone!


Oliver Burkeman on How to live a Fulfilled Life (7.5/10)

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Yes, I know, most of those articles repeat the same old clichés. I can parse the content and skip those full of bullshit in seconds. Some of them give me a new perspective, food for thought. This is one of them.

Eight points:

  1. Give up with the desire to be able to do all the things you want and must do. There’s no way you can be on top of everything. (RIP Note: this touched me. He’s speaking directly to me).
  2. Favor “enlargement” over happiness. Base your decisions on “Will this choice enlarge me or diminish me?” instead of “Will this make me happy?”. Long term growth instead of short term happiness.
  3. Learn how to tolerate minor discomfort. Most of your bad habits are associated with overcoming minor discomforts.
  4. Seek for advices you don’t want to hear.
  5. Don’t give the future too much responsibility on your well being. Plan, but be aware that plans are just statements of intent.
  6. Overcome your impostor syndrome by realizing everyone is an impostor all the time. Including you. (read also Everyone is totally just winging it, all the time (a solid 7/10), also by Oliver Burkeman). “the reason you can’t hear other people’s inner monologues of self-doubt isn’t that they don’t have them. It’s that you only have access to your own mind.
  7. Selflessness is overrated. Generosity and kindness are good ting but shouldn’t be attached to guilt and self esteem. Help yourself first.
  8. Know when to move on. Avoid sunk cost fallacy. Learn to let go.

My favorite are 1 and 6, but sincerely each one could trigger an hour-long inner dialogue – or a beer with a group of friends in my ideal Stoa.


The Plain Bagel on Volatility and Risk (7.5/10)

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If we plotted Richard Coffin’s videos quality over time, volatility would be very low. They’re all 7/10, with some exception. This one is better than the average! Volatility is not Risk. Volatility is standard deviation from mean value, Risk is the probability of losing money. Nice nice video!


Ben Felix on the US stock Market and the US presidential Election (7.5/10)

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As you would expect: slightly higher volatility during the 12 months after election, not a great deviation from the average returns, BUT expected total returns higher after a democratic president.

Wait: a study found that it is true that under Democratic presidents market performed better, but that’s because there’s a higher likelihood that democrats are elected in times of risk aversion, like after a crisis. And that’s the time where the ground is seeded for high returns.

Still, don’t vote for Trump, please. Let’ get rid of this clown once and for all.


Daniel Vassallo made $210k selling a PDF and a video on the internet (7.5/10)

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Daniel Vassallo is a former $500k/Year Amazon employee who quit to focus on his projects.

He’s of course a great inspiration of mine. In this article on Indie Hackers he explains how two products (a $25 book and a $50 video course, not 7-ending 4-digits bullshit) earned him $210k (and counting!) over several months.

Ok, survivorship bias disclaimer apart, his process is the exact opposite of the standard marketing-heavy / clickbait / leveraged on cognitive biases / Fake Guru approach:

Worth quoting textually (emphasis and paragraph split added by me):

You find something you know really well, and you give everything you know about it for free. You do it on social networks, forums, and wherever people interested in your topic hang around.

If you manage to get some attention, you will inevitably start getting questions, and these questions become your market research. You start answering the best way you can, and whatever doesn’t fit in a short response becomes an opportunity for an info product.

Then, if you choose to do the product, you’ll have an audience to promote it to — an audience who already told you it wants to learn more about the topic, and that it wants to learn from you specifically.

Huge congrats, Daniel! This is such an inspiring passage 🙂


Scott Galloway on Rumble and A-Commerce (7/10)

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Recurring revenue bundle. It’s a celebration of SaaS and Bundles. How huge companies are moving to recurring revenue and how that impacted their share price.

Examples: Adobe, Apple… everybody!

The most interesting? Panera: in US: $8.99/month for unlimited Coffee!

What about Algorithmic Commerce (A-Commerce)? The goal is to switch from one-click commerce to… oh my god… ZERO click commerce.

According to Prof G, A-Commerce is the only way huge companies like Walmart can compete with Amazon. I don’t think so. I think Amazon is way better suited to kill the market with A-Commerce. Unless Walmart partners with Google, a partnership that’ likely to happ… nope. Nevermind…

Anyway, A-Commerce for grocery is a great idea. Scary, but great.

Welcome back on YouTube Prof G, I was missing you 🙂


MP Forum thread about FinPension, a new Pillar 3A solution (7/10)

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We might have found something that’s strictly better than VIAC!

Lower TER (0.39% + VAT, i.e. 0.42%), up to 99% invested in stocks, close to 0% TER of underlying funds, 0.05% currency conversion costs.

It’s from the same entity that offers Valuepension for Vested Benefits Accounts (Second Pillars).

Very good, worth exploring more.


Yancey Strickler’s The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet (7/10)

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I found this article as a final destination of a mini rabbit hole started with Venkatesh Rao’s “Text Reinassance” article above.

Before this one, I’ve read Venkatesh Rao’s “The Extended Internet Universe” (link, 7/10, go check this out as well) that defined the Cozyweb, little semi private sacks of discussions that are arising once the public web started becoming shit (also watch The Social Dilemma).

Yancey, co-founder of Kickstarter, introduces a Dark Forest Theory of internet, inspired by The Three Body Problem sci-fi book.

A forest, during night, is silent. Not because there’s nobody. Because potential preys shut the fuck up, they know there are predators around.

Internet is becoming the same thing.

This is also what the internet is becoming: a dark forest.

In response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behaviors, we’re retreating to our dark forests of the internet, and away from the mainstream.

Examples: podcasts, groups, chats, newsletters, invite-only forums, slacks…

RIP question: what about blogs or heavily moderated forums? Ok, they’re in the “open internet”, but also walled gardens with gatekeeping. If podcasts are included in the list, I assume almost everything that’s not a Social Dilemma can be called a Dark Forest, or part of the Cozyweb.

These are all spaces where depressurized conversation is possible because of their non-indexed, non-optimized, and non-gamified environments. The cultures of those spaces have more in common with the physical world than the internet.

The internet of today is a battleground. The idealism of the ’90s web is gone. The web 2.0 utopia — where we all lived in rounded filter bubbles of happiness — ended with the 2016 Presidential election when we learned that the tools we thought were only life-giving could be weaponized too. The public and semi-public spaces we created to develop our identities, cultivate communities, and gain knowledge were overtaken by forces using them to gain power of various kinds (market, political, social, and so on).

This is the atmosphere of the mainstream web today: a relentless competition for power. As this competition has grown in size and ferocity, an increasing number of the population has scurried into their dark forests to avoid the fray.

I admit that this is not the internet I was dreaming about 20 years ago. I dreamed about liquid democracy, viral knowledge, sharing economy…

But retreating in dark forests could be bad in the long term. Example: the Hippie culture of the 60s. A more hope-carrying example of mainstream-ignoring communities dismantling the mainstream: internet (seen as a single huge dark forest) compared to traditional media.

It’s possible, I suppose, that a shift away from the mainstream internet and into the dark forests could permanently limit the mainstream’s influence. It could delegitimize it.

In some ways that’s the story of the internet’s effect on broadcast television. But we forget how powerful television still is.

And those of us building dark forests risk underestimating how powerful the mainstream channels will continue to be, and how minor our havens are compared to their immensity.


Poverty FIRE (7/10)

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Latest entry into the FIRE variation family. This guy plans to live on 500 USD/month for the rest of his life. Good luck. Maybe I’m a bit envy, but I’m extremely skeptical that this could work, unless you’re ok with homelessness (a homeless is technically FI), fragility, and anti-resilience. Like this other kid here, retiring at 22 with some peanuts saved.

These articles trigger the anti-FIRE mass media brigade, and I get their point: we’re teaching kids it’s ok to retire at 22… Well, I can only speak for me, but I’m doing my best to not go in that direction!


Nat Eliason on why you should read fewer books per year (7/10)

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Nat launched a YT channel recently, and I wish him good luck with this endeavor as well.

This video is joining the exploration vs exploitation of your input stream a bit too late: many have already explored this topic. Years ago it was mainstream to recommend everyone to read as much as they can. Today, smart people discovered that consuming more inputs – even high quality ones – is useless if you can’t retain much of what you consume.

Nat recommends few strategies which are: read slowly (and take time to digest what you’ve read), re-reading the books you liked the most, take notes, become a better reader, quit books you’re not getting value from, take on longer and more challenging books.

I hear you Nat, maybe I should follow your advice and shrink my inputs…


Michael Batnick about the role of a Financial Advisor (6.5/10)

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A honest analysis, even though he clearly has some conflict of interests.

A Financial Advisor is like a therapist. Few are willing to admit they will benefit from a chat with them. Truth is that everyone would. But it’s dangerous to start the conversation from a position of ignorance.


The South Park Pandemic Special (6.5/10)

School Scene

It’s a 47 minutes extended episode of South Park that mocks Trump, US Police, Zoom Schooling, Marijuana usage, Social Distancing, “Chin Diapers”, and Mickey Mouse.

Hilarious!


Animal Spirits: Everything You Need to Know About Retirement (6/10)

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This episode of Michel Batnick and Ben Carlson podcast came out on September 18th, but I only listened few days ago.

I had great expectations, but it wasn’t that deep. Pretty basic. Save at least 10%, use a 401k… anyway, I liked Michael’s open questions like “how do I know how much I will need in 30 years?”


Italian – “Come Diventare Ricco” about my Ufficio Antisqualo (6/10)

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I got criticized on an Italian blog! What a honor 🙂

The article is titled “why this is the only personal finance website you should trust” – not a good start 🙂

This guy says my Ufficio Antisqualo is a bit too extreme. Marketing is not that bad, the list is too subjective and influenced by my personal opinion, and I’ve classified as sharks entities which are not (according to the author).

I think the guy committed a few logical fallacies (I never said that everyone should give away everything for free), and ended the article with a praise of The Italian man who went to Malta (the man, not my post). Not a good end 🙂

Anyway, I spent some time on the blog “Come Diventare Ricco” (how to get rich) and I think there are valuable posts. A nice blog!


Niche Pursuit: The FIRE movement is lying to you (4/10)

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I ended up on this low quality “critique to FIRE” post, and I wanted to publicly reply.

I’m not a fanatic FIRE enthusiast, as you might probably know, and I do critique many of the dogmas, like the 4% Rule and the constant dollar withdrawal method in general, but I do think that making steps toward financial literacy and freedom is a bliss, and everybody would benefit from pursuing FIRE.

This guy’s critique look like a cut&paste from Michael Dinich’s (now deleted but available on the wayback machine) old post titled Are you Financial Independent Retire Early or Just Self-Employed?.

The critique looks like this:

  • Retirement has a clear definition in the dictionary, and it means “the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work“, “withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life“. (Almost) No FIRE blogger is actually retired, most of them run online business and don’t live out of the 4% Rule. Eventually they change the Retirement definition to show they’re retired.
  • If you say you never have to work again, and you actually work, then you’re lying.

Should we even waste a minute on the second one? Have you ever heard of Straw Man Fallacy? Am I lying if I say “I’m not forced to visit Paris”, and then I decide to go to Paris? Should we explain the difference between “having to” and “deciding to”? Want to call it Work Optional (her name is Tanja, not Tonja btw)?

Ok, good. Back to the first point.

You got us! We’re not Retiring according to the vocabulary, nice catch!

There’s a problem though: we, FIRE bloggers, all agree that “retirement” is not the right word. It’s a bad word, that in the collective imaginary means “Grandpa retirement”. We all agree on this. Even traditional retirees don’t like that word! It’s a word we inherited from the military world! Today’s traditional retiree don’t fart their life away watching TV, they take projects and challenges. My father does that. Would you call him not retired? He’s receiving a government pension since 2008!

Let’s pick another word, like Rewirement. Do you like it? We get to keep the acronym as a bonus. Financial Independence and Rewire Early. Deal!

And you said that “they’re not retiring, they’re just entrepreneurs”? Yes, what’s the problem? Many bloggers are very open about this. And it’s awesome to be an entrepreneur without the risk of running out of money 🙂 It’s my dream life! Somebody called it Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC), or Financial Independence Optional Retirement (FIOR), or even Financially Independent Entrepreneur (FIE).

Do you classify a FIRE blogger not being “Retired retired” as a lie? Do you think we’re deluding people by convincing them that they can sip mojitos for the rest of their life starting at age 30 (or 22) if they have enough assets?

Of course I also complain with FIRE bloggers who are too attracted by mo’ money, signaling they’re not really FI. those who go that extra mile into marketing, annoying ads, popups, clickbait titles, beach picture as posts thumbnails, selling you the “dream life” of sipping mojitos in Copacabana.

But you know who does this? Mostly NOT FIRE bloggers, but the traditional media industry when they want to ghettoize the movement, and clownify us.

And mind that I’m also very skeptical of those who want to retire too early with too little stashed away!

Those who plan to leanFIRE with 300k at age 29 have no fucking idea what life looks like.

— Mr RIP

So… poor article, empty critique, classical Internet Retirement Police style 😉

Relax, take an Early Semi Retirement, bro!

P.S. the reported examples of “small business owners that do what they love” don’t prove anything. It’s still the “have to” vs “want to” that makes all the difference in the world.

And it’s not a black or white thing, it’s a Spectrum!


Women handling family finance in Switzerland (NOT OK/10)

Link

It hurts me to read stories like this one, where a woman is looked up and down every time she needs to take a financial decision. She gets asked “is your husband ok with this?”.

Oh come on, which year is that?


Alec Baldwin and Jim Carrey’s parody of the first presidential debate (LOL/10)

Link

Huge Jim Carrey fan here.

Hard to admit that Alec dwarfed you, Jim!


If doctors were interviewed like software developers (<3/10)

Link

Don’t you have a KnitHub account to show?


Others

Here follows a list of other resources I’ve consumed over the last two weeks that didn’t make into the main section 🙂

Spencer Cornelia analyzing spending habits of a football player, Tua Tagovailoa. Link. Pretty good! Even though this guy’s spending pattern (especially housing and cars) can look crazy to regular people, let’s not forget that he earned 30M USD in 5 years in contracts alone.

Graham Stephan on “How to Get Rich without being Lucky” by Naval Ravikant. Link. A 15 minutes quick dive into original Naval tweetstorm. Too much self promotional in my opinion, but it helps to put the entire tweetstorm in a time slot that’s easy to allocate in our busy lives.

Hank Green on curiosity and asking the right questions. Link. Oh, I can’t tell you how much I’d like to be in charge of refactoring the education system!

Naval Ravikant‘s tweet: “Imagine how effective you would be if you weren’t anxious all the time“. Link. So true. So. Fucking. true.

Nick Maggiulli on why this is not a repeat of the dot com bubble. Link. Yeah, but I don’t buy it. Everything is too fragile these days. Low interest rates are driving bond yields down which is making low earning yields (1/CAPE) attractive, which is making high CAPE ok, which is why stock prices are high and it’s not (according to Nick) necessary a bubble indicator. I don’t buy it. Time will tell.

Wait But Why‘s funny  transcript the first Biden vs Trump debate. Link. I remember when Silvio Berlusconi dominated the scenes in Italy, and we were making everyone around the world laugh. I know how you feel, US citizens!

CGP Grey on how the US Supreme Court works. Link… And all the political battles and Shenanigans possible.

Paul Graham‘s 2005 essay: “Writing, Briefly”. Link. If you don’t write you’ll miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated. Writing generates ideas. Plus few dozens of recommendations for writing quality improvements. Awesome!

Morgan Housel on Writing. Link. You have no idea what your ideas are until you put them on paper. Maybe you’re noticing that this WLJ is creativity-focused: writing, podcasting… yes, I’m thinking about it all the time.

Michael Batnick on the role of Luck in his life. Link. It’s been a lot of hard work, yes, but also luck. Those who way it’s only a matter of “hard work” lie. Luck always play a role. In you face, Naval!

Ben Carlson on money and investing stuff he changed his mind about. Link. Two things: sleeping well at night might not be the best tactic for your portfolio, and factor premiums might be gone forever. Plus two heresies: taking a 3% debt being a no brainer, and saving too much is bad.

Mark Manson on Logical Fallacies. Link. “Logical reasoning isn’t about “winning” an argument. It’s about finding the truth. And inevitably, getting closer to truth requires one to recognize and admit when they’re wrong“. Mark is finally back in the game of publishing very good articles! P.S. I think I’m addicted to the Slippery Slope Fallacy.

Fight Mediocrity video about Alain De Botton‘s opinion of an ordinary life. Link. A down to Earth talk by Alain De Botton (The School of Life) about why a society with infinite upward possibilities might be dangerous for the 99% of us that will be living an ordinary life. It’s ok. You’re going to be ok.

BBC on Swiss Referendum to end free movement with EU. Link. Some good news for foreigners in CH!

ITA – Rick Du Fer against The Social Dilemma. Link. He’s pissed off from TSD, because it tries to free us from individual responsibility, an blame the system (except Netflix, LOL). I think what Rick misses is that we – grown ups – have a “before” to anchor to. Those born in the last 20 years have no defense. I left a comment on his video which got a lot of attention.

ITA – Astutillo Smeriglia “test per capire se stai simpatico ad Aristotele”. Link. Smeriglia is always entertaining and insightful. This test is a bit low on quality in my opinion.

ITA/ENG Regina Ciclarum. Link. I just discovered that few friends of mine have been fighting for 13 years with Italian local administrations to build, maintain, map, and document a bike path along the Tevere River, from center of Italy to Rome. And they did it, despite local governments! Eight fractions, 444 km total! Awesome!

ITA Horror story about Abortion on L’Espresso. Link. In Italy you have the right to interrupt a pregnancy before 13 weeks, or even later in case of special conditions. This is the theory. In practice, 90+% of doctors refuse to respect the law and you hear horror stories like this one.

ITA – Marcello Ascani on his Intermittent Fasting experiment. Link. Complete, and very well done.

ITA – Marcello Ascani on Notion, one of the most popular productivity tool. Link. Learned a lot thanks to this video. I’m using Roam, and context switching is heavy, but I would consider Notion in Roam disappoints me.

ITA – Mammifero Bipede about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Link. Interesting analysis, and an attempt to self diagnose ADHD. Never seen ADHD from this angle. Actually, all the symptoms he recognized on himself are applicable to me as well. And probably to 75% of the adults in general. A bit of availability bias at play. Anyway, interesting read. An underrated Italian blog.


That’s all for this week 🙂

 

10 comments

  1. Since you mentioned Roam I have been looking around for some sort of knowledge management (which is an extremely awesome concept and I wish I had the words to describe it years ago…my intricate list of bookmarks, notes, highlights, etc…would now be more meaningful).

    Anyway, in my searching around I found Obsidian, which seems to be a Roam competitor and is free (!!!).

    Have you heard of it? Opinions?

    1. I explored other alternatives, and Obsidian was on top of my list few months ago. I think it’s a very cool tool, go for it 🙂
      I’m in Roam since January 2020, and it’s still free for me (I was a beta user). In case they cut my free account I have 100 USD of credits because I completed Nat Eliason’s course back when Conor announced he was giving 100 USD credits to those who completed the course.

      Moving everything now would be very expensive in terms of time. The actual migration would cost time, and a new tool costs a learning time toll.

      One thing that could motivate me is that I want to have a public database. I want to share my database. My beta Roam account only allows for a single database, and that contains a lot of personal stuff I don’t want to share. If I upgrade my account to a standard one (with 3 databases) I will have to pay 15 USD/Month (I can use the 100 USD credits for the first ~7 months).
      Maybe it’s worth doing anyway. Maybe it’s worth opening a public database using Obsidian or other tools… I don’t know yet 🙂

  2. Man, I don’t think I have ever met anyone who’s is capable to consume, and most importantly, process such an amount of information in such a short period of time. It’s nuts!! 😉

    In your previous learning journal, you mentioned that you enjoy reading ESI Money millionaire interviews and also your feature on the series.

    I am experimenting with a similar series on my blog, which I started after reading The Millionaire Next Door.

    Since you are an Italian living abroad, I thought that having you would be super inspiring for some of my blog readers who are expats, or are thinking about moving.

    Would you consider it?

    1. Thanks Tony!
      As you can see I’m struggling with time management 🙂
      I can’t promise I’ll find time to also tackle your questionnaire, but feel free to send it to me via email.

      1. Thanks Mr Rip.

        I totally understand. No worries, I’ve got at least 10 years left before I’ll reach my one million, so there’s plenty of time left, hehe.

        Stammi bene 😉

  3. I must admit I really fail to understand all this widespread fascination with Naval’s Twitter production.

    Most of his tweets are basically glorified fortune cookies messages, once you take them away from Naval’s immediate “reality distortion field”.

    Yes, I get that he’s a charismatic guru-entrepreneur, belonging to the same mythological lineage as Jobs or Musk, and of course it is easy to be enthralled by that aura of supernatural success.
    Still, at some point you’d expect people to the see through that and realize that most of his tweets are just platitudes written down as aphorisms, so they get painted with this veneer of timeless wisdom. But of course he does not really bother to explain, discuss and debate with the plebs, that would break the spell, and after all this is the same guy who uses the cheapest trick in the book to show what outstanding thought leader he is: he follows nobody on Twitter! (I wonder why @realDonaldTrump didn’t think of that first…)

    Or maybe I am missing something fundamental. Glad to be proven wrong.

    1. Taken out of context, I agree that each individual tweet might look like an elaborate fortune cookie (semantically inaccessible to vast majority of people though).
      I didn’t stumble on Naval via Twitter. I’ve “met” him via long form interviews like the on with Tim Ferris, one with Joe Rogan, and his 3.5 hours “how To Get rich without being Lucky” podcast episode, which summarizes his most famous tweetstorm.
      I think they total up to 8+ hours, and I still need to listen to his “The Knowledge Project” podcast episode, with Shane Parrish.
      Listening to him elaborating his life philosophy has been enlightening to me. Now I can contextualize his tweets and I find value in them.
      If you take some time to listen to his podcast/interviews maybe you change your mind about “But of course he does not really bother to explain, discuss and debate with the plebs”.

  4. Bahaha the South Park episode was brilliant, great special in every way.

    A-Commerce sounds amazing, we should found a startup, somehow ingest peoples Cumulus or Supercard data and setup recurring grocery deliveries taking a 10% fee. Or start with individual consumables like toilet paper or milk.

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