(Bi)Weekly Learning Journal 8 (9/11/2020)

Hi RIP readers,

welcome to the RIP (Bi)Weekly Learning Journal.

Yeah, it happened: two consecutive WLJ episodes… switching to a biweekly format didn’t help 🙂

Does that mean I’m slacking off? Not interested in writing amazing content anymore?

Absolutely not! I’ve been exceptionally busy with work and family, and all my extra time went into studying my “One Platform to rule them all”, i.e. Roam Research.

I’ve spent a full week down this Roam rabbit hole, deciding how to use it for all my needs:

  • Personal Knowledge Management: article, video, podcasts, and books notes… essentially all the notes I’m publishing here are taken from my PKM.
  • Productivity: projects, tasks, areas of responsibility, TODOs. I’m implementing my own PARA method in Roam.
  • Blogging: throwing all my ideas into Roam, and coming up with a plan, a schedule and a vision (which is still WIP, and it’s this month goal). It’s awesome to see the networked thoughts in action, how my notes and blog ideas find one another 🙂
  • Creativity: my ideas and my topic journals. Much easier if Curiosity sits in the adjacent room than if I write in siloed docs. I can reference my own thoughts, my own notes, my journal entries.
  • Journaling: I log almost everything I do, every people I meet, everything I read, study, watch. Even my leisure activities, like TV series and movies I watch. Plus, I capture every thought I have that’s worth recording. I tag people, topics, dates. When did I meet “X”? Easy, let’s go to X’s page and see every interaction with X 🙂
  • Self Reflection: I do my morning pages, my stoic “view from above” meditations, my philosophic meditations, my self analysis. All my thinking goes in Roam.
  • CRM: A side effect of Journaling all my interactions.

The only thing Roam is lacking for my needs is a Calendar, but except for that it’s my default place where to be when I am at my computer.

I produced a gigantic document called “How I use Roam” (10k words), detailing down to the keywords and procedures I’ve implemented. I intend to clean it and publish the doc (which is a Roam page of course) somewhere in the #roamcult community for feedback before the end of the year.

I might actually create a public roam database for my “learning in public”… but this requires purchasing a real Roam membership. With my beta account (still free as in free beer) I can only have a single database.

Anyway, I feel guilty enough for using this amazing tool for free since January (10 months and counting), that I might purchase a believer plan for $400 for 5 years. Which is $6.66/month. Yes, a Believer plan is $500, but I have $100 credits because I took Nat Eliason’s course back when it was in beta, for $100. Back then, Conor (Roam CEO) offered $100 in Roam credit to Nat’s alumni. Maybe it’s time to stop being a freeloader 😉

So I’ve not been relaxing, do not worry.

And yes, I know I’m behind with comments and emails. I will reply to each one of you, promised.

Next episode on Monday November 23rd 🙂

Enjoy!


Digital Gardens (9/10)

(A Very Deep Rabbit Hole)

This was a very deep rabbit hole that captured my attention for a few days – I mean full days.

I discovered the concept of Digital Gardening. What is digital gardening? Take your time, sit down, relax. I’m going to guide you through my experience over the next 3k words.

This post, by Joel Hooks in 2016, is considered the “Manifesto” by many digital gardener, even thought there are precursors like The Garden and The Stream, by Mike Caulfield in 2015 (link), and even the 1998 Hypertext Gardens by Mark Bernstein (link).

Anyway, what’s a digital garden?

Let’s start from the beginning: blogs suck. Blogs ruined the internet (see Amy Hoy entry below).

Wait RIP, what?

Yes, blogs adapted to “The Stream”. The stream is the mainstream way we produce and consume information on the internet. It’s the reverse chronological order. It’s the social media feed. It’s the dopamine-dictated love for novelty, recency, and whatever your friends published yesterday on Facebook. Even the pictures you took yesterday are now lost in the stream. Do you ever go visiting pictures and videos of years ago? I guess 90-95% of the watch time of your picture and videos happens within the first 30 minutes after you shared them with someone on social media, or instant messaging apps. Then they’re dead, forever. Only consumed over and over again by machine learning algorithms for business (not your business) purposes.

Read The Garden and The Stream long essay by Mike Caulfield, or watch his presentation here:

I also extracted notes (in Roam of course, but copied over to Google Docs for you): Link.

Some passages:

The Garden is the web as topology. The web as space. It’s the integrative web, the iterative web, the web as an arrangement and rearrangement of things to one another. Every walk through the garden creates new paths, new meanings, and when we add things to the garden we add them in a way that allows many future, unpredicted relationships

More:

In the Garden, to ask what happened first is trivial at best. The question “Did the bridge come after these trees” in a well-designed garden is meaningless historical trivia. The bridge doesn’t reply to the trees or the trees to the bridge. They are related to one another in a relatively timeless way. This is true of everything in the garden. Each flower, tree, and vine is seen in relation to the whole by the gardener so that the visitors can have unique yet coherent experiences as they find their own paths through the garden. We create the garden as a sort of experience generator, capable of infinite expression and meaning.

And more:

In the stream metaphor you don’t experience the Stream by walking around it and looking at it, or following it to its end. You jump in and let it flow past. You feel the force of it hit you as things float by. It’s not that you are passive in the Stream. You can be active. But your actions in there — your blog posts, @ mentions, forum comments — exist in a context that is collapsed down to a simple timeline of events that together form a narrative. The Stream replaces topology with serialization. Rather than imagine a timeless world of connection and multiple paths, the Stream presents us with a single, time ordered path with our experience (and only our experience) at the center.

What about Wikipedia?

You want ethics of networked knowledge? Think about that for a minute — how much time we’ve all spent arguing, promoting our ideas, and how little time we’ve spent contributing to the general pool of knowledge. Why? Because we’re infatuated with the stream, infatuated with our own voice, with the argument we’re in, the point we’re trying to make, the people in our circle we’re talking to.

People say, well yes, but Wikipedia! Look at Wikipedia! Yes, let’s talk about Wikipedia. There’s a billion people posting what they think about crap on Facebook. There’s about 31,000 active wikipedians that hold English Wikipedia together. That’s about the population of Stanford University, students, faculty and staff combined, for the entire English speaking world. We should be ashamed. We really should.

Back to blogs. Blogs adapted to the stream. It’s rare to see an “essay centric” website nowadays. And nobody likes to call his website “website”. Website is such a boring word.

I was watching one of the amazing Roam Tour videos by Robert Haisfield few days ago. You know I love Roam Research, right? As I told you above, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently in my Roam study, mostly studying its features and defining how I’m going to use them. It’s easy to find tips and tricks about every feature of my favorite tool, but it’s hard to find more advanced stuff, like how to use it for real for PKM and Productivity and Journaling and Self Reflection and CRM for someone with an infinite amount of material to port into the tool, and infinite amount of projects to handle. I wanted to take a look into how other people with a similar level of complexity and challenges use Roam. Not an easy task. It’s like wanting to start a Zettelkasten and demand to have a walkthrough into Niklas Luhmann’s.

Anyway, the Roam Tours by Robert Haisfield are pretty good. Especially this one with Maggie Appleton, whose name in the Roam community (#roamcult) is well known. Her Roam custom CSS is one of the most popular – I’ve also took hers as a base and then made some changes.

During the Roam Tour video, Maggie mentioned many times the concept of her Digital Garden.

I got intrigued by the name, and googled for it… and an entire world showed up for me to explore. And to get lost in, which I did. Regret nothing!

This post by Technology Review is a good intro, but it essentially repeats what I’ve already told you so far. But it gave me few leads for my rabbit hole: it made me discover Joel Hooks, Mike Caulfield, and Tom Critchlow.

Also very well placed in the web search for digital garden was this Italian coder named Flavio Copes (link). Nice post, nice blog… ahem, digital garden, and good SEO job, bro 🙂

I then read the Joel Hooks manifesto post. Cool, but I don’t see it being the best post on the subject. Mike Coulfield’s “The Garden and The Stream” is way way more inspiring to me.

Here’s another nice post by Joel on the concept of writing more thanks to your digital garden, but let’s not diverge too much from the original rabbit hole. We don’t have time to waste!

I knew this rabbit hole would have lasted for days when I found this Maggie Appleton’s tweetstorm about real digital gardens examples.

More than a dozen digital gardens exposed! I need to cancel all my meetings for the next two months now 🙂

Among them I recognized a few: Andy Matuschak’s evergreen notes (that I’ve bookmarked six months ago, but never found the courage to set a week apart just to devour them), and Nat Eliason’s Notes and Book Summaries (where I stop by when looking for a non-fiction book review).

Anyway, lot of material to explore! Like, fir example, the weirdest form of digital garden I’ve found so far: The Index, by Jeremy Nixon (link), which is something I could consider for my future writing 🙂

Side mini rabbit hole: I’ve read this post by Maggie Appleton on the history of digital gardens, and got caught in yet another couple of amazing posts by Venkatesh Rao on the evolution of internet usage by generations: VR calls the Millennials model “Premium Mediocre” (stream centered, attempting to be in control of their narrative, conformist, illusion of normalcy), while the Gen Z will adopt (according to VR) a “Domestic Cozy” attitude (indifferent, centered around priorities of the actor instead of the spectator, individual, at ease with chaos).

Instagram and Tinder vs Telegram and Twitch. Steve Jobs vs Elon Musk. The Mainstream vs the Dark Forest.

Back to the main rabbit hole!

Wait, not so fast 😀 Let’s say thank you to Maggie on more time, mentioning his post Tending the Roam Garden (that bridges the Digital Gardening and the Personal Knowledge Management in Roam), and his own Digital Garden Tour, where she shows us the tech stack used to implement his Digital Garden (centered around Gatsby).

Let’s move to the several-times-mentioned-so-far Tom Critchlow. I loved Tom Crithlow’s blog site (old habits die hard!) at first sight. He has a Wiki section, which is his implementation of his digital garden. Personal (private or publicly visible) wikis are good tools for digital gardening.

First post: Building a Digital Garden, of course. Tom introduces the concept of Campfires, and puts blogs in this region. Blogs are not part of the stream (in your face, Amy Hoy!). Actually, Campfires are explained in another post of his digital gardens blogchain: Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens, where he also refers to another tweetstorm by Venkatesh Rao.

I really like the Campfire definition 🙂

Campfires – mostly blogging for me, though I know some folks gather around private slack groups too. My blog functions as a digital campfire (or a series of campfires) that are slower burn but fade relatively quickly over the timeframe of years. Connection forming, thinking out loud, self referencing and connection forming. This builds muscle, helps me articulate my thinking and is the connective tissue between ideas, people and more. While I’m not a daily blogger I’ve been blogging on and off for 10+ years.

Campfires are not meant to last long. Good for bonding, muscle forming, idea generation and brainstorming.

But real knowledge should be stored in different forms, in Digital Gardens.

Anyway, I like Tom’s desire to explore the grey area between The Stream and the Digital Gardens. Another weird example is the concept of “blogs without a publish button“, like Ryan Dawidjan’s High Cadence Thoughts.

I love the way Tom crafts words and ideas, like when tom defines a Digital Garden as “A space for collecting the dots” (not for “connecting”).

Related: Capstone project, from Ink&Switch

Tom uses Jekyll (seems a popular tool among digital gardeners, along with Gatsby) to build his Digital Garden, by exporting his markdown files organized by folder. Markdown code is version controlled on GitHub. A nice nerdy way to write online, but I personally reject the files&folder approach for a more note centric and tagging style, the Roam style 🙂

Thanks to Tom external links, my atlas of Digital Gardens to explore grew significantly, and circled back to Derek Sivers’s Topic Journals idea.

The “blog” aspects of Tom’s writing are centered around Blogchains about new ways of writing online. Meta meta meta.

  • His Annotations blogchain is about a different way of commenting and networked writing.
  • His Networked Communities blogchain is about social writing.
  • His New Blogging blogchain is about.. blogchains 😀 the “metaest” you can write about!

Plus some other nice standard blog posts like Small b blogging, and Fuck yeah side projects.

Enough from Tom, let’s end this rabbit hole with Winnie Lim, another prolific writer in the space of self directed learning.

I’m still halfway thru her material, so I don’t have strong opinions (weakly held anyway) about her philosophy. But I’d like to drop here a couple of her posts:

Tending to my Garden, that’s of course the lead that brought me into her space. Inspired by a book in the Hundertwasser museum, she discovered “vegetative painting”, i.e. a way to paint based on plants patterns. She’s not a painter, but she decided to adapt her writing, thinking, and creative growth to a similar pattern.

I knew if I wanted this website – which is an extension of my consciousness – to truly thrive, I needed to work on it in a sustainable manner. Bit by bit I slowly transformed the way I thought about it. Previously I would only work on it if I had the energy to make wholesale, dramatic changes. These days I am glad if I made one small change. It could be just a touchup of the styles, or curating the posts on the homepage. I didn’t even have an /about page until a short while ago. There are a lot of things I don’t like about it but I tolerate it, because I know I would drive myself crazy if every single step of the way I sought perfection without compromise.

I realised I was tending to it like I would tend to a garden. Watering it, pruning it, adding a little here and there. I enjoyed the process. I like making a small change and knowing it is a little bit better than before. It wasn’t like this labourious, painful, tiring process I was used to. I try to not work on it past 8pm because it affects my sleep, I stop when I notice I’m mentally tired – this awareness wasn’t easy for me to cultivate, on days when I am not well I don’t even attempt to do anything.

Her best posts in my opinion are those centered on designing a space for self-directed learners: self paced, peer to peer learning lacks infrastructure on the internet. We can do something about it. She has several ideas that she explores in her posts on self directed learning networks (v0.1, v0.2, v0.3), which involved rethinking the way we display content: right now mostly sorted chronologically, suggested by ML algorithms, trending/popular, by curation (magazines and newspapers), and by taxonomy (a là Wikipedia).

I also liked her experiment to build a personal website & learning library with WordPress, but I’m not sure WordPress is the best tool for it.

That’s it. This rabbit hole could go way way deeper, but I decided to cut it at this point – and promised to myself to take another deep dive in a few month from now.

Branches not explored so far:

My Conclusions:

I haven’t explored alternatives to plain blogging before this rabbit hole. It opened a giant can of worms that can’t be closed now.

What’s a digital garden to me? it’s a digital place (call it “website” if you want) not centered around content organized by reverse chronological order, but centered around the author(s), around building knowledge, always Work In Progress…

It’s the pattern I’m implementing in my personal, private digital space (even before Roam, in Google Docs). I didn’t know it existed a name for it, and I was too lazy to “be the change I wanted in the world”. Even the name of my blog contains 2 out 3 words of “Work In Progress” 🙂

I like the Cozyweb metaphor, even if I’m not a GenZ (and not even a GenY, but a proud GenX!). I like the Dark Forest, I like small b blogging… I don’t care about anyone reading this shit, I care about writing for myself (ok, not totally true)! I love the concept of blogchains! Without having a word for it, I’ve been developing blogchains since I started writing here on RIP. What’s this WLJ series if not a blogchain? What about my Spreadsheet series? What about my quarterly reports? They’re all blogchains!

Of course this rabbit hole found fertile terrain these days, since I’m spending a unhealthy amount of time on Roam Research, importing 20 years of writing, note taking, TODOs, journaling, self reflection, bookmarks and so on… Roam is my real Digital Garden! But it’s fully private (for now).

RIP, you know you wasted a lot of time debating about nothing, right?

No no no this is a HUGE paradigm shift! I’ve always had a weird feeling about my blog. I don’t want “just a blog”. I don’t want to produce a “stream of posts”. I want something I can edit, change, move around, maybe extract common reusable parts and link them from more posts. I want to write post series (or Blogchain, wait, better to quote Venkatesh Rao this time, who coined the term), money guides, Early Retirement Guides… there’s no place for them in “The Stream”. I’ve always wanted to create a “differently structured digital place” for my thoughts. Where to grow them, connect them, build an overall structure, refine my life philosophy and so on. What I wanted to build is a digital garden, not a blog!

At the moment I don’t know how to embed this new framework in my writing – well, I’m already doing it on my personal sphere, in Roam – but something is going to happen sooner or later. You’ll probably see more “pages” than “posts”. More wiki-like structure. For sure some renaming of series into blogchains. Or maybe a complete platform revolution (Gatsby or Jekyll instead of WordPress). Or maybe I’ll launch a public Roam database as my digital garden, with my notes and whatnot 🙂

I don’t know yet, I need time to let this concept stabilize in my mind.


Derek Sivers on The Knowledge Project (8.5/10)

Link

I’m in the process of extracting notes on this podcast episode, but I can anticipate there are a couple of things I disagree with Derek. Like his praise to Tony Robbins and Robert Kiyosaki for example, and his story about how he delegated everything while being CEO of a company and essentially becoming unnecessary for its success. I guess this is borderline bullshit. Either he was extremely lucky, or the story is romanced a lot. I’ll write more about it in my future Digital Garden :D.

But the overall quality of the podcast is very good! I loved listening to one of my “virtual mentors” for two hours about his topic journals, his hardcore “personal database” approach to technology, his first principle thinking attitude and much more.

Do yourself a favor, and take some time to listen to this podcast 😉


More To That letter to his newborn daughter (8/10)

Link

Scarcity:

One of the first lessons you’ll learn is that we all want certain things, but we can’t have everything we want. And the way you respond to this reality is what builds character.

Gratitude:

Not everyone is as fortunate to have what you have. The fact that you were born into a loving community places you in a position of abundant opportunity that many others don’t have.

Un-comfort:

What makes life interesting are its challenges, not its comforts. This is one of those funny things that will only make sense once you live through it.

Passion:

Making a lot of money doing something you hate will be far less rewarding than making enough money doing something you love.

Attention:

The most valuable resource you have is not money, not your time, but the way you spend your attention. The way you use your mind will color the way you view the world, so be mindful of the information and people you are in regular contact with.

Dad’s voice (my highlights):

As your dad, I understand that I’m going to have a lot of your attention in the beginning. My voice will be a loud one, as I’m going help guide you through all kinds of life problems. It’s going to seem like I have all the answers.

The reality is that Dad is very flawed, and Dad doesn’t know nearly as much as you once thought. You’ll realize this over time, especially as you expand your circle of friends, loved ones, and people that you admire. And as all those voices grow in influence, it’s only inevitable that mine will decrease in volume. What you once took as certainties from me will merely become suggestions.

All I can hope for is that you’ll continue to interpret my voice as a positive one.

Good luck Lawrence!


El Pays infographics on Covid-19 (7.5/10)

Link

You’ve probably seen this infographics by now.

It tells us (backed by research) that

  • Time of exposure matters a lot.
  • Ventilation of environment matters a lot.

My model for a spreader now is “the smoker”. imagine being indoor with someone smoking a cigarette. A mask alone or a Plexiglas wall won’t help much if you don’t want to smell cigarette smoke. Distance helps. Reducing indoor time helps. Ventilation helps.

If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend you to take a look at this article.

Enjoy!


Visual Capitalist’s The World’s Most Influential Values (7.5/10)

Link

What do people all around the world value most? Family? Community? Financial Security? Personal Growth?

A deep study of the top 56 values in 152 languages in one infographic!

The obvious: Family being the top one.

The unexpected: Freedom of Speech being the penultimate! (and Peace being also very very low)

Enjoy!

The Visual Capitalist post is lacking a link to the full study with all the breakdowns by region though.

You must register on the Valuegraphics website to see the full reports.


Thomas Frank “How to figure out what to do with your life” (7.5/10)

Link

The video is not a bad one, but after we’ve seen the best content available online on the subject, like Paul Graham’s How to Do What you Love, Naval Ravikant’s How to get Rich without being Lucky, and Cal Newport’s Follow your Passion is a Bad Advice, this video seems a bit… inferior.

Thomas focused on which qualities you should look for in a job that maximize the likelihood that you would like it.

According to several studies (Thomas mentions the one from Edward Deci, called Self Determination Theory), you need Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness to be fulfilled by your job.

I personally prefer the Daniel Pink model (Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose) or better, the Ikigai model (what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for), because I think Relatedness is an inferior concept compared to Purpose, but still a good one.

Thomas extracted 7 personal principles out of the three qualities from Self Determination theory:

  1. Are you Building or Maintaining? You need to build. (I don’t fully agree)
  2. Are you using your current skills or are you learning new ones? You must always learn new stuff. (I mostly disagree, I value Mastery a lot. And real, obsessed-level Mastery requires more exploitation than exploration at one point)
  3. How much creative autonomy do you have? You must be as much autonomous as possible. (I totally agree. Autonomy is king)
  4. Interactions with others?
    1. How many? This is really personal, and Thomas prefers mostly to work solo. (I agree that’s an important question to ask yourself, and I also agree that the less interactions I have with others, the better)
    2. What quality? Again, very personal. Thomas prefers peer relationships vs customers vs boss/subordinate, teacher/student. (I 95% agree on this one as well. Future of work is P2P. Screw bosses. Well, I also like teaching though. Coach-Mentor/coachee-mentee is another model I like)
  5. Level of Authority over other people? Thomas doesn’t like managing and want to work solo. (This is a duplicate of the previous point in my opinion).
  6. Do you like being in the spotlight? Thomas likes, but used to feel guilty about it, now he learned how to be ok with that. (It’s mostly irrelevant for 95% of the people. I personally don’t think I like to be in the spotlight too much. I want a small audience, I’m not ready to face all the negative sides of fame)
  7. Work-Life Balance? How much time have you left for other important things in your life? How bad is the commute? Do you have to travel for work? Can you detach from work? This is very personal, and might change with age and personal life events: relationship, marriage, kids. (I agree that this is important, but it gets dwarfed if you find Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. You want to do something you’d call it play, not work. work/life balance is bullshit).

The final recipe from Thomas is:

  • Simply pursue your interests (he doesn’t mention “passion”, he mentioned Cal Newport a couple of times) and work hard at doing that.
  • Get experience and be observant. Try your interests, journal what you’re learning and how you feel about it.
  • Don’t complain that “nobody would give you the chance to get experience at something”, most of today’s jobs are Permissionless. Volunteer, offer to work for free, do personal and/or side projects

Thomas makes a good point on “focusing on what interests you now” instead of focusing on the best job long term, because most of the jobs that exist today didn’t exist 15 years ago! And the job a teenager will do tomorrow doesn’t exist yet.


Amy Hoy on “How blogs broke the Web” (7/10)

Link

Spinoff of the Digital Garden Rabbit Hole, found this history of how blogs started and broke the “homepage” model of the early web.

TIL that a guy named Justin Hall started the first “blog” on the web, in 1994, before the word blog was even a word. And before CMS existed.

Here was the big departure: the entries, either inline or linked, weren’t organized by content or primacy or importance or category. They were always in reverse chronological order.

The Stream was coming…

in 1999 there were 23 web logs. In late 2000, there were still only 1285.

… then MovableType ate the blogosphere

Enjoy!


Thomas Brush on “don’t follow your dreams (it’s a scam)” (7/10)

Link

A nice video from an Indy videogame developer and YouTuber.

I like his approach to entrepreneurship, the goal of building a wealth generation machine, and the desire to “bike uphill” metaphor as a prerequisite to be an Entrepreneur.

Thanks to HCF that tweeted this link 🙂


Italian – Barbascura X met Anti-Covid Folks (7/10)

Link

It’s a long video, 48 minutes, where Barbascura (a PhD in chemistry) interviews random conspiracy theorists and explains why they’re wrong, backed by science.

Fun, irritating, depressing, but fun.

Bonus: Barbascura’s video on a Flat Earther convention (link)

Enjoy!


Ali Abdaal “How I Organise my Life with Roam” (7/10)

Link

A lot of good ideas on how to use Roam (or any other PKM + Productivity + Journaling tool if any exists).

I like his Tree of Knowledge Idea, his Daily journal template and the use of the tag “Nibble” for the “content inbox”, i.e. resources consumed (books or article read, podcasts listened, etc) but not “processed” yet (i.e. note not extracted).

My brain screams at his use of page naming though (mixed capitalization, lack of namespaces, zero attention to scalability and name clashes), but it’s ok: he’s a creative guy, not a Thomas Frank-y robot-ish machine 🙂

A pleasant watch anyway. Enjoy!


A 2018 conversation with Paul Graham (6.5/10)

Link

I realized I’ve read an re-read an infinite amount of words written by Paul, but I never listened to his voice or watched a video with him.

I’ve finally fixed it few days ago!

It’s not a “great” video for its length, but it’s full of funny anecdotes on his early career, the people he worked with, and the startups he founded (and funded).

For someone like me who hates modern software development and who loves hacker culture where introvert geeks coded entire codebases alone, listening to Paul is a romantic and nostalgic experience.

R.I.P. hacker culture 🙁


Ben Carlson post about stock market after election (6.5/10)

Link

Bonds yield nothing these days, and I know it: my bonds allocation crossed 1M EUR this month.

Does the stock market care about anything anymore? We are still in the midst of a global pandemic that is only getting worse, oil prices went negative in the spring and we just went through a contested presidential election… And yet the S&P 500 is just 2% below all-time highs.

Isn’t it ridiculous? For me it is, that’s why I chickened out once again in July, and sold most of my stocks.

But it actually makes sense for investors to accept low expected yields and high CAPE.

According to Ben:

You want to know what stocks actually care about? Look no further than the level of interest rates, which remain ridiculously low

Yep, as I said in my last quarterly update: “what I really don’t like is the artificial bondification of stocks, the artificial cashification of bonds, and the thrashification of cash.

If we had government bonds yielding 5% we wouldn’t accept high multiples on stocks. We’re ok with CAPE >30 (and earning yields below 3.33%) because risk-free rate is below 1% in US, and negative in EU.

Multiples are going to stay high, and the stock market “expensive” (compared to what btw?), until bond rates raise again.

It seems blasphemy to think about bond rates raising. It’s a strongly held popular belief these days. That’s why everybody I know is buying Real Estates in Switzerland right now, and it’s hard to find a house for less than 2 Million CHF. Yes, 2M in my area… “Fixed 10 years mortgage rates are 0.8%!! I want a 2M debt NOW!

But it’s not impossible to see rates going up.

According to Ben:

So what could be a catalyst for higher (bonds) rates? How about:

  • Lower demand for fixed income investments (unlikely with 70+ million baby boomers in or approaching retirement and even lower yields overseas)
  • More supply of bonds in the market from increased government spending (depends if the democrats can still take the Senate or not)
  • Higher inflation (see bullet point above)
  • Higher than expected economic growth (anything is possible but would likely require more government spending at this point)
  • The Fed raises rates (probably not going to happen for a long time)

It seems a very unlikely scenario, but history loves to fool us.


Italian – Zerocalcare new book Scheletri (6.5/10)

Link

I’m a huge fan of Zerocalcare and all his books. I grew up less than 2km away from his neighborhood in Rome, in a similar degraded context. I can understand all his references. Plus I love his sense of humor and his storytelling ability… but this book didn’t have the same impact of, say, Kobane Calling, Dimentica il mio nome, and Macerie Prime. There are some introspective aspects that I can empathize with (impostor syndrome, workaholism as a coping mechanism, strong aversion to changes), but the story told is a bit uninteresting in my opinion, and the jokes dry.

Not my best Zerocalcare book, but I don’t care. I’m a simple person: Zerocalcare publishes a new book, I buy it. Full stop.


Election Betting Odds on November 4th (LOL/10)

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Until November 2nd the betting odds said 65% vs 35% in favor of Biden… then they started counting votes and this happened:

Yeah, you’re right, let’s zoom in the late evening of November 3rd, and the following day.

Look at how betting odds changed overnight… and few hours later again 😀

Holy crap, I should have shorted Trump 🙂

Good job USA, you DID make (the United States of) America NORMAL again.

P.S. on November 8th it’s still “just 91%” for Biden… hey, what’s wrong?


r/Italy “A carbonara using processed cheese from a Brit” (WTF/10)

Link

Do I need to say anything?

(It’s actually looking pretty good!)


Marbula One Season 2 First Race (OOOOOOOOOO/10)

Link

Almost 3 months have passed since the end of Marble League 2020, an infinite amount of time for us, O’Rangers fan, for a revenge on the Speeders.

Finally the Marbula One Season 2 started last weekend! Goooooo’rangers!


Others

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

r/financialindependence story about a guy leaving a FAANG company to take a 50% pay cut before having reached FIRE, questioning if it was worth it. Link. Relatable story, at least for me.

Indeedably on migration, and the associated challenged and rewards. Link. I must admit that my single expatriation event was a piece of cake. I got everything taken care of by Hooli back in 2012, including a temporary flat, relocation support, a lady who helped me finding a new flat (well, she didn’t help, but was supposed to). Even a small lump sum for the initial “financial shock”. Plus my “expatriation event” was a 3.5 hours train, 350km north. I don’t know if I would have been able to face all the issues mentioned in the post without all these perks. Nice post!

Nat Eliason‘s video about How starting a Blog will change your Life. Link. Nat is going to make a series of videos about why and how to start a successful blog. I don’t like the way Nat is becoming so clickbaity with his content. Good video, but it’s a subset of his awesome article I shared with you in a previous WLJ.

CGP Grey‘s praise to Hexagons. Link. Hey Grey, you forgot to mention D&D maps 🙂

R.J. Nestor on how to use Roam for Productivity and Note Taking. Link. I know, I’m a bit monothematic, but I’ve spent so much time in Roam during last two weeks… I’ve not even linked 5% of what I’ve been learning about Roam in this WLJ 🙂

Big ERN on the 5% SWR proposed by William Bengen being unrealistic. Link. Easy battle 🙂


That’s all for this week 🙂

 

6 comments

  1. Hey Mr. RIP,

    I would be interested to hear more about your PKM toolset, have you tried also alternatives to Roam?
    I have been in long search for a good tool, or combination of tools, and recently found out about Obsidian (https://obsidian.md/), free and extremely powerful (similar concept to Roam).
    I use that in combination with DEVONThink Pro to capture external knowledge.

    1. I think we discussed this “offline” 🙂
      Anyway for the record, I’ve tried Obsidian and it’s an amazing PKM alternative.
      I prefer Roam for various reasons:
      – it costs me nothing at the moment, but I’m considering purchasing a Believer plan that I consider worth it given my time and energy investment in the platform.
      – its price is crystal clear while “what’s going to happen to Obsidian in a few years”?
      – Roam is way more than just a PKM
      – I’m locked in: I’ve been throwing data and time into Roam that I can’t even think about migrating everything over to Obsidian at the moment (but I could routinely export my roam database in Markdown and let Obsidian run on it… interesting…)

  2. Dear MrRIP,

    first of all.. your blog is really amazing, great job!

    I discovered this blog just a couple of months ago thanks to Marcello’s video and I immediately became addicted.

    Your posts are really inspirational.. My story is quite similar to yours except for one fundamental detail: my salary is much lower than yours! 🙂
    I am a 35 years old italian software engineer (I have a master degree in software engineering) living in Genoa, Italy, and I am an active investor since 2011… So, as you can understand, to me this blog is mind blowing!

    I have never been really interested in FIRE (even if I saw MMM blog a couple of years ago) but.. hey, your story is so inspirational!

    So, please, keep working on this great blog! Sooner or later I will show you my spreadsheet and ask you for some advices.

    MrZeneize

  3. Thanks for the post. The part about “digital gardens vs The Stream” really spoke to me. I started a PF blog to share my thoughts but much of my content could probably be better served by being in a digital garden that I cultivate.

    Thanks again for sharing.

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