Table of Contents
Hi RIP readers,
welcome to the RIP (Bi)Weekly Learning Journal.
As you can see the series is diverging from Money and FIRE, and it reflects the direction in which I’m steering my input feeds. I hope you like it.
Next episode on Monday November 9th 🙂
Bonus Links: Sloww summary
Who is Naval Ravikant?
Naval is an angel investor, a serial entrepreneur, and a very well balanced person.
If I got to pick a mentor among all today’s living humans I’d pick Naval. Ok, maybe also Paul Graham. And Derek Sivers. And the Dalai Lama. Ok ok you got me 🙂
This “How to get rich” thing started as a tweetstorm, i.e. a series of chained tweets (slightly less than 40) with condensed fortune-cookies-like timeless gems by Naval. In the giant accompanying podcast episode, which is just a collection of shorter (5-15 minutes each) episodes, Naval expands the meaning of each individual tweet, and much more.
Timeless material that should be broadcasted to every high school and university in the world at least once a year.
Main topic: Wealth Creation.
I’ve listened to the full podcast while walking in woods at lunch break. The first of fall in Switzerland has been pleasantly temperate. I’m developing a nice habit to go in the woods right after lunch. I take 1-1.5 hours long walk, while listening to a podcast (or enjoying nature). I listened to this podcast in 4 runs. Sometimes I had to stop the audio to say “wow” to the nature surrounding me. Sometimes I had to stop walking to say “wow” to Naval’s gems.
It’s been one of the most transcendental experiences I had since years 🙂
I plan to re-listen to it, or simply read the transcript and extract notes into my PKM.
Jordan Peterson about The Danger in meaningless Work (8.5/10)
I know, I know. Jordan Peterson is a controversial person, and some of his messages are winking to right wing (sometimes far right) and bigots. But it’s undeniable how sharp his thinking is.
Before we move into this video: Peterson has experienced bad mental health conditions, and recently physical health problems due to use of medicines (Benzodiazepine) to cure anxiety. And then withdrawal symptoms when he stopped taking the medicines.
You think you had a shitty 2020? He’s been in and out of hospitals for 18 months – and counting. He’s not healed yet, but he’s back. Welcome back Mr. Peterson! Happy to have you here. Now you can go back to work, i.e. getting blasted by Sam Harris and Slavoj Zizek as usual 😀
This video is about Bullshit Jobs (R.I.P. Graeber)
Here my short notes:
- Once an entity reaches a certain size it tends toward totalitarian structure. Be it a government, a corporation, on ONG. It will get filled with bullshit and bureaucracy. It’s a danger associated with social organizations. Peterson makes an example of a company who banned the word Flipchart because it seems “flip” can be offensive or Filipinos (like banning blacklist, whiteboard, whitelist, blackbox…)
- Do not do things you know to be stupid. Stand up and say “hey look, that’s dumb. I’m not doing it” and if they ask you “why?” then you can say “well, a) I think it’s stupid, b) if I do it I’m going to get irritated and resentful, and c) if I do it it’s going to decrease my motivation… so I’m not doing it!” and if they push you too hard it’s like “hey, it’s time for a different job“. And maybe it’s the best thing that can happen to you, because if the structure you’re in is going in that direction, and you can’t stop it… get the hell out of there and find something else. (RIP: I should have done this years ago!)
- In our current environment of job uncertainty you should always have an escape route planned. And it should be active because if you don’t have an escape route, and you can’t get away, you can’t say no. And if you can’t say no, you can’t bargain. And if you can’t bargain you’re a slave.
Jordan Peterson on What To Do To Be Successful (8.5/10)
I hope you forgive me if I don’t cut&paste my Jordan Peterson Disclaimer every time I mention him.
This video explains why you need commitment and responsibility in your life. It touches the same “success” topic that we’ve seen on this blog several times (Cal Newport, Paul Graham, Naval Ravikant), but from a more psychological point of view.
Peterson tries to tell you “why” you need responsibilities and commitment. And it’s a great talk, I strongly recommend it.
I extracted highlights and my notes here.
Bonus JP resource: this video about the relationship between your IQ, your cognitive abilities, and what kind of job fits you (link, 7.5/10)
Nat Eliason “Invest in Yourself” Twitter Thread (8.5/10)
Ok, it’s a link to my retweet, I cheated 🙂
Take a look at the full thread on Twitter or on ThreadReaderApp.
By the way, the thread message is the following: If you’re young and ambitious you should consider investing in yourself instead of investing in pension funds.
Of course this is a black/white summarization, a false dichotomy. What he wants to point out is that yes, if you start saving and investing early the effect of compound interest is amazing, but you can get much better ROI if you invest in our own growth as an individual.
Some details: he saved enough money (saving is still extremely important) on his first job. He saved $30k. He had more than 1 year of expenses stashed away. Thanks to the “Fuck You Money” he quit his job without pressure to find another one soon. He invested in learning, traveling, and growing his side projects. If he invested his 30k in an index fund it would have doubled in the meantime. Investing the same amount in freedom to take a year off and focus on his projects more than 10x-ed (and counting) his investment.
My considerations: I agree that saving money and having options is the best thing in the world. I would not consider 30k any close to FU Money. One year of savings is enough to let you sleep at night without a job? No way. I’m not wired that way. I need at least 15 years. My spreadsheet says I’ve 16 years of Swiss expenses stashed away and I still am anxious about it. Of course the path of quitting your job/career too early with 1 year of money stashed is not for everyone.
This – like any encouragement speech by anyone successful should begin with a disclaimer on Survivorship Bias.
Nat said “if you’re young and ambitious”. I would add “if you’ve a concrete and realistic plan, you’re fully committed to it, you’re already producing something, and if you’ve already proven that you can monetize your endeavors”.
“RIP, you’re telling this to yourself, right?”
Yes, of course 🙂
Enjoy the thread!
Amazing thread by @nateliason!
Yes, we've all seen the graph of compound interest of investing since age 18… But we rarely see the expected returns of "investing on yourself"!
Higher volatility though 😉
— Mister RIP (@retireinprogres) October 17, 2020
Bill Bengen and Michael Kitces about the 4% rule (8/10)
Discovered this episode thanks to a post on Ben Carlson‘s blog.
Welcome to the “pick your own SWR” bonanza!
- 4% for the old 1994 Bengen and the Trinity Study.
- 4.5% for the new 2017 Bengen on a r/fi AMA.
- 5.5% for the today (2020) Bengen! Who’s up for more?
- 3.25% for Big ERN. Wait, are we going down?
- 2.5% for Ben Felix… oh no!
- 0.5% for Financial Samurai. Is this the bottom? 🙁
I picked a pi (3.1415…%) SWR for my spreadsheet just for fun.
I’m not a huge fan of the constant dollar withdrawal method anymore though. I advocate for a more flexible retirement spending, and a strong supporter of FIRE Spectrum. Let’s get rid of the black/white model “work work work reach FI and then do nothing”.
Ben Carlson is with me on this:
You also have to consider no one actually lives their life in a spreadsheet. Something like the 4% rule is a rough guide that assumes a fairly linear path of spending. Every financial plan should be open-ended because the whole point of the planning process is making corrections as reality meets your built-in expectations.
Anyway, listening to uncle Bill’s voice has that taste of familiarity that Covid cursed 2020 Christmas won’t offer this year.
Paul Graham tweet about Repl.it (8/10)
Of course the high rating goes to Repl.it, not to Paul (even though I wouldn’t rate less than 7.5 even Paul’s farts)
Repl.it is a collaborative coding tool that seems very interesting.
Paul didn’t actually tweeted about Repl.it. He wanted to share how things are changing, and where the future is heading to.
The story he shared is the story of tobe, a young programmer who developed – in a collaborative way – an app in a week that’s generating more than 1k monthly recurring revenues. She got LeanFIRE in a week!
Bonus link: another tweet by Paul Graham about Permissionlessness, which – RIP prediction, note that down – is the keyword of the coming decade. (link, 8/10)
This is the future. A 20 year old programmer writes an app in a week using Replit that makes over a thousand dollars a month. https://t.co/Y96RnIpctb
— Paul Graham (@paulg) October 20, 2020
Dan Shipper about Robert Cottrell, the mas who reads 1000 articles a day (8/10)
This is the story of a person who curates a subscription based daily mailing list ($5/month) about “the best 5 articles” he could find online on that day. A more professional version of this post series.
I found it very interesting and relatable because on one hand I fear becoming like him, while on the other hand I crave to become like him!
The article explains how this guy parses 1k articles per day, skims most of the content, selects the top 100, then re-reads them, selects a smaller subset, then finally just 5 of them. According to the author of the post, Robert eats articles.
I’m able to read a thousand pieces of journalism a day, which I think makes me the most read person in the world.
Wow, I’m impressed. I think I’m at around 15-20 per day, and I’m aware I’m spending too much time on my “learning” activity.
He’s also exploring ways to improve his fan-in, like having a Neural Network trained to filter articles that he would like. He’s looking for ways to scale his process!
I see common patterns with my own input stream: he uses Feedly (like I do), and complains with sources that don’t have a RSS feed (like I do!). He doesn’t care about dead feeds (like I do), and he complains with those who publish too much (Kottke, don’t shy away!)
I’ve discovered few tools I might try one day: Pinboard for the input feed, and Bear to save high quality articles. At the moment, I simply pdf-ize the best sources.
The main difference with my approach to lifelong learning is that he’s constantly living a groundhog day, only interested in publishing his post at the end of each day. I don’t care about publishing. I’m interested in growing my PKM. I’m interested in finding great material that updates my understanding of the world, that fits with my prior knowledge or challenges part of it.
This guy has more than 50k subscribers, run your math.
A nice read.
Nat Eliason on Starting a $400,000 Side Business in 1 Month for Free (8/10)
Nat shares Effortless Output in Roam course production strategy.
I’ve learned something new in my quest to “generate money in ethical ways on the internet”.
Like what happened when I read how to build a great blog, I think I got what I need to change in my approach to creativity and output to step up: his product-centric attitude.
Sadly, the actual product (see below) wasn’t up to my expectations.
I extracted some notes here.
Ali Abdaal on Building Second Brain (8/10)
Ali is another “productivity porn” youtuber, like Thomas Frank, but also focusing on creativity and entertainment. He’s a Doctor by training.
In this video he reviews the Building a Second Brain course, that I didn’t take (it’s crazily expensive) but I kind of reverse engineered its content from various sources, and internalized what I reconstructed.
This video is a very good intro to the funding principles of BASB.
Thomas J Bevan on The Epicurean Life (7.5/10)
A very good article about Pleasure, Happiness and Epicureanism.
I finally got the Epicureanism philosophy, and its definition of Pleasure.
by Pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and disturbance in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of merrymaking; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest disturbances take possession of the soul.
Early Retirement Now on Dividend-Only Retirement Spending (7.5/10)
A nice analysis of a dividend-only withdrawal strategy for retirement.
it’s called LOYD: Live off your dividends.
Several limitations of this study: considering a 30 years period (so no FIRE, sorry), and 100% S&P500 portfolio. No Dividend specific strategy, no bonds / fixed income. Well, there’s a section about high dividend yield ETFs like DVI and VYM, but we don’t have enough history to draw conclusion from.
Conclusions: well, yeah, you will probably preserve your principal after inflation, ending with somewhere between 0.5x and 6x your initial purchasing power, but your dividend income is highly volatile, and might not be enough to sustain a good lifestyle. Especially these days of low yield dividends for stocks: S&P500 yields less than 2% today.
Ben Felix on Day trading (7.5/10)
The question that individual investors should always ask themselves before placing a trade: “who is on the other side? Do I know more than whoever I’m selling to or buying from?”
Trading with urgency, trading emotionally, trading individual stocks (higher risk), and trading fees make the individual investor trail the risk-appropriate benchmark on average.
What about skills? Are there skilled traders who are improving over time? Sure, but there’s absolute skills and relative skills. Baseball players are way more skilled today than 50 years ago. Better training, better tactics, better coaches, better nutrition, better materials… If an average professional Baseball Players could go back in time he will be a super hero. So daily traders are getting better, but day trading is still a zero sum game (compared to the index). everyone is competing to find an edge.
Actually, finding that edge gets harder as absolute skills increase for everyone. Take Alfredo Binda. An Italian cyclist of the 20s and 30s. Probably the best cyclist of that era worldwide. Given the practitionership nature of professional sports back a century ago, finding an edge was easy. He was so good that he won several “Giro D’Italia” in ways that would be impossible today. In 1927 he won 12 out of 15 stages. In 1929 he won 8 consecutive stages. In 1930 the organizers preferred to pay him the equivalent of the winning prize and several stages to not participate to the competition!
Back when absolute skill levels were low, finding an edge was easier.
Today, even a well trained amateur could go back in time and beat Binda easily: absolute average skills have improved by several orders of magnitude.
Today, in a high average skill environment, finding an edge is very hard. Cyclists need to stay on top of their game, and train much harder than their 1930s counterparts all the time – and constantly improve – to consistently stay in the top100 or top10.
… while Fake Gurus promise 6 digits income from your couch, working a day per week, with no skills!
The Plain Bagel on common investment scams (7/10)
I don’t know you guys, but the ads I see on YouTube on my phone (because on my desktop I have uBlock Origin installed) or on Facebook are all about Fake Gurus! Maybe it’s because I’m actually looking for them in my Ufficio Antisqualo, maybe it’s because I’m trolling them (more on this in a future post), but I’m hunted by fake gurus. There are millions of them. Nowadays they all start their ad with “are you bored of all these… fake gurus… online that promise you some kind of get rich quick scheme? Yeah, they’re annoying… now listen to me and I’ll teach you how to make 6 figures salary working one day per month from Galapagos! Attend my free webinar today for free!”
Bonus video: Coffeezilla exposing one of the worse Fake Guru using exactly the tactic above (link, 7/10)
In this video Richard exposes 5 common scams.
Fifth one is my favorite: “Investment Seminar Scam“, i.e. the Fake Guru / Contrepreneur way!
Let’s see what a fake guru looks like to Richard:
- They discovered the secret to make money in stocks, crypto, options, forex…
- In their ads they show private jets, Lamborghinis, mansions … all rented out of course.
- They sell courses, or seminars, or memberships, on how to become wealthy. Everything is pretty expensive.
- But there’s no secret! They rarely offer a concrete strategy for making money. Just motivational speeches, theories without any substance.
- It can actually be even more dangerous, offering options trading strategies without mentioning the risks. Essentially telling people to bet with their money, with the use of high leverage.
- The “secret” those people have discovered is how lucrative selling online courses targeted to desperate and vulnerable people really is.
- If they have a simple, easy, reliable way to make millions, they wouldn’t waste their time teaching it to you.
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
- If the opportunity lacks transparency. If you can’t find anything about the opportunity or the professionals behind it outside their own channels… run away. It’s likely illegitimate.
- If they employ high pressure sales tactics like fake scarcity, PNL, foot in door, join the free webinar, gimme your email for the free eBook that turns out to be an advertising flyer you paid 20 EUR to read… then there’s something fishy going on.
- Be skeptical of any investing opportunity, especially those promising returns well beyond your wildest dreams.
Like Naval said several times: the world is an efficient place. It’s very hard to find low hanging fruits.
P.S. Richard had to do a follow up video (link) on “YouTube Investment Scam Comment Problem”. We’re drowning in scams.
Doug Nordman on The Fog Of Work (7/10)
Old but popular article by Doug about how focusing too much on work prevents you to see things from above.
It’s inspired by Clausewitz’s “for of war”, which says: “All action takes place … in a kind of twilight, which like a fog or moonlight, often tends to make things seem grotesque and larger than they really are”.
In Doug’s words: “During your working years you’re expected to strive to get ahead and to stay alert for opportunities. But when we’re at work, most of us are focused on our work. We’re not free to work on something else. In the rare work moments when our laser-keen focus wanders off task for a second or two, we’re just taking a mental break“.
A nice read.
r/coolguides 150 Mindfuck Movies, Grouped and Sorted (7/10)
If you’re hungry for movies that stretch your brain like I am, now you have 150 of them catalogued!
And if you prefer the data in a spreadsheet, take a look at OP’s comment here.
The School of Life on Feeling Stuck (7/10)
A good video with a strong claim: if you’re stuck it’s probably due to something that happened in your childhood, like someone (probably a family member) who was threatened by your potential actions and bravery.
It’s a strong claim that I’m intuitively not ok with, but I could change my mind. I can’t see how it applies to my case – and I really feel stuck, it’s 5 years I’m feeling stuck… Anyway, I must dig deeper. Maybe I’ll discover a way to blame my parents for my stuckness 🙂
I will allow this new piece of information in my world model, with a very low Bayesian belief. #TeamSkeptical for the win.
What am I feeling stuck on?
Oh come on, you know it. I have trouble with my career: I’m afraid of dropping my current career dead, and at the same time I know that not making any move is slowly killing me.
Let’s try to find childhood related reasons for my stuckness: my father saved money his entire life. He taught me that money is always scarce. A safe job is all I need. I should work the same job until pension age like he did. Don’t take risk. I’m lucky, I have an amazing job. Many people don’t have a job. I earn a good salary. I’m spending a lot of money in Switzerland. I’m going to be poor if I won’t have a salary. I’m not going to earn enough money with ANY entrepreneurial activity I’ll jump on. What? With my blog? Oh come on, am I joking? I’m not an entrepreneur! Nobody in the family ever tried that. We’re proud employees. Mostly government employees! We love the government. We hate capitalists. We’re socialists! Marx labor theory of value is all you need to know…
Ok, ok, maybe I need to dig deeper 😉
Michael Dello defining Grass Man fallacy (7/10)
This is a follow up of the Logical Fallacies thread I explored in last episode.
The Grass Man fallacy (proposal) is a fishing attempt, a trojan horse, a deceitful tactic:
There is a room full of people who don’t believe in vaccination. Several prominent scientists have tried to convince the people that vaccination is not harmful, and is actually quite beneficial, to no avail.
Two people, unknown to the anti-vaxxers, then enter the room with a prior agreement to engage in a grass man.
The first person starts telling the other that vaccination is clearly harmful, and provides a list of very easily attackable reasons for why that is so. The anti-vaxxers then identify with this proponent of what they believe.
The second person easily debunks the first’s argument in a way that it is clear it was wrong.
This sows doubt in the anti-vaxxers as to whether their position is right after all.
Always be skeptical, keep the argumentation bar very high!
The Big Five Personality Traits (7/10)
I’ve discovered the Big Five thanks to Jordan Peterson. He mentions the traits (and what they predict) in almost every lecture in his courses.
I extracted highlights and my notes here.
Paul Graham on Early Work (7/10)
The most recent essay from Paul Graham. Not one of his bests in my opinion.
It’s about how to judge the first version of your products and ideas. How to learn to not only be “less judgmental”, but to use a completely different scale.
I extracted highlights with my notes here.
The Compound (6.5/10)
About US Elections, people who time the Market, ARKK ETF who beat the market for 10 years and now they troll index funds, and Active vs Passive investing.
Both Michael and Josh agree that you can do both active and passive investing. Put the first money into an Index Fund. Then do some active investing to learn, try to beat the market, and have fun. Anyone that tells you that you have to choose they don’t live in the real world (link)
A nice episode.
Nat Eliason’s Effortless Output with Roam Course (6/10)
A bit disappointed.
Ok, I paid $100 instead of 250 (thanks to Tiago Forte and the productivity mafia), and also got $100 Roam credits – that I haven’t used so far because Roam is still free for beta users. And yes, I learned few basic things (mostly tips and tricks) from Nat’s course. But I was expecting higher quality in general, and higher level organizational guidelines: how to survive when your PKM has 10k pages? How to handle productivity for real? How to implement PARA or GTD? What’s a good strategy for namespacing?
The best part is the one on PKM, where he mentioned Progressive Summarization and how he implemented it in Roam. He also wrote a post about it (link, 7/10).
You can cover everything that’s in Nat’s course for free with a lot of available material on YouTube and dedicated sites, including r/roam subreddit.
Btw, if you’re a Roam user I’d like to know more about how you play with it 🙂
New Yorker: I work from Home (ALONE/10)
Working from home is painful.
It was 2017, before pandemics were cool.
Today I learned that the Hashtag symbol’s official name is Octothorpe. With or without the final “e”. Name invented at the Bell Labs.
Apparently this very thing that I said I learned today seems to be controversial and disputed. What a suspense! #TeamOctothorpe
250000 Dominoes (250000/10)
I was entertaining Baby RIP with a 15 dominoes game, and she loved it. I wanted to get some inspiration on how to up my game so I turned to YouTube and… well… found this 😀
You guys are insane…
Here follows a list of other resources I’ve consumed over the last two weeks that didn’t make into the main section 🙂
Tech Lead on senior software engineer not being worth much anymore. Link. Interesting take on why the extra responsibilities are not worth the title, but I don’t buy his argument that it’s better to start a side hustle than push or a promotion. Actually, the fastest way to predictably grow your wealth is to get promoted. A promotion at Hooli is worth 15-25% of extra income, forever.
r/leanfire sad story about someone who wanted to retire early to discover after three months he hates it. Link. This is a reminder that any life philosophy, even the good ones, can’t be taken at their face value without critical thinking. FIRE consciously guys!
Rupert Spira video on “The Art of Asking a Question”. Link. After a long pause I said to him “my silence is my question”. There was a long pause and he said “my silence is my answer”. Ok, hilarious moments apart, “my question has to stand the scrutiny of the criteria: if I had a week to live, what would I want to know?“. Set time apart time to find the questions you care about inside yourself.
Phil Rosenthal‘s TED Talk about “Do what you Love”. Link. Low quality. Filled with survivorship bias. It’s just a “follow your passion” (in your face Cal Newport!) talk by a guy from with a wealthy family (in your face Naval!). TED quality has gone-to-shit recently. One quote worth mentioning though: “do the show you want to do, because in the end they’re going to cancel you anyway“. Good for his situation, but also good for everyone else: we’re all going to get “canceled”.
Thread Reader App. Link. TIL: You can unroll a Twitter thread replying “@threadreaderapp unroll” on any tweet of a thread and get an article-like format on the web. Awesome! Here’s an article on The Verge that explains how it works (link).
Ali Abdaal video review of The Elephant in the Brain. Link. I finally purchased the book by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson! This video review is well done, and it digs into what motivates us: The “elephant in the brain” stays for “the elephant in the room”, in the brain. i.e. like the “elephant in the room” stays for something that’s inappropriate, badly hidden, and huge, the elephant in the brain represents the hidden motives of our actions that are inappropriate (selfish), badly hidden and huge – like an elephant. I can’t wait to read the book 🙂
Robin Hanson‘s TED Talk about The Elephant in the Brain. Link. Well, right after having watched Ali’s video I wanted to re-watch Robin’s TED, that I first watched a couple of years ago. Priority of reading the actual book is rapidly increasing.
Nick Maggiulli on why own bonds in a low yields environment? Link. Not convincing. But I do own almost 1M in bonds…
Veritasium on supernovae explosion, gravitational lensing, general relativity, and Hubble constant to measure the expansion of the universe. Link. Wow… 5 years ago I was totally absorbed by space exploration and astrophysics topics, now I’m less interested (time is scarce). I limit myself to watch 5% of the videos I’m exposed to in that topic (usually from Veritasium, PBS SpaceTime, and few other sources…). This video was… wow! Enjoy 🙂
Descript. Link. I don’t know if you saw the launch video for Descript. AI is coming to take our jobs! I mean.. content creation, dubbing, podcasting, transcripting… Please, take a look.
James Clear about how The Diderot Effect is at the basis of hedonistic adaptation. Link. When we buy of receive something as a gift, we tie a bit of our identity to it. The danger comes with the acquisition of a new possession whose quality is above one’s current average. It can easily spiral in overconsumption. For example Denis Diderot himself received a high quality clothing as a gift, and suddenly everything else in his wardrobe felt outdated. He went into debt to update everything else in his life to the new standard. I thought about this a lot, before I had a name for it. When we received the Roomba, or the Soda Stream as wedding gifts we were opted-in without our consent to an improved lifestyle we didn’t ask for, that can act as a trojan horse for other lifestyle creep. Same would be if we buy a single pricey piece of furniture, or if we put a famous painting on our wall. Everything else would need a refresh as well.
ITA – Yotobi‘s TikTok experiment. Link. Funny and informative video about the platform that makes me feel way too old.
ITA – Principles by Ray Dalio now available dubbed in Italian language. Link. Watch it, Italian friends!
That’s all for this week 🙂