After all those blogs I've written throughout my journey, I've realized a lot of them have content that is sometimes irrelevant or innapropriate. However, the nature of my writings was personal and not for publication and hence I did not ammend them grammatically or factually. This is the nth version of a space where I can write about the challenges I and many others face. I have made errors, I have accomplished a little bit and this is my archive. My error prone perspective on the world before I leave.
I’ve struggled with this notion for sometime. I know people and have people around me who do this most of the time. Heck, there are times when I fall into the trap of doing the same. I do not want to be the same. I want to improve my thinking. Why? Because I have been a victim of misunderstanding. I have also been misunderstood. No one likes that. It is not optimal.
What does it mean?
Whenever we look at someone our mind makes up its own mind. Yes, that sounded funny but that’s what happens. At least, loosely speaking. We have largely two sections inside our brain. The first one, evolved through the ages yet contains remnants of the animal brain. It is quick to get excited and quick to draw conclusions. There are several examples of this, some familiar, others not. There is a predator in the bush. One in hand is also better than two in the bush. My friend’s enemy is my enemy. I see the lightening, don’t understand it, hence, God. The second section within the brain, which is more careful, slow and appreciates tedious calculations. Yes, indeed it does, despite the popular notion of slow is easy, easy is good. Turning the examples above on their head… The predator in the bush can be my meal and perhaps a delicious one if I can subdue it. Do I have any tools handy? How do I invent tools? Oh, physics and math! The enemy of my friend can push my friend to do better things in life because no-one wants to suffer and hard work needs motivation. Maybe my friend’s enemy can motivate him to do better. Hence, social psychology. Indeed, the second brain is scheming, manipulation, understanding yet slow to process outcomes.
So when we look at someone, something or are thrown into a situation, our animal mind (the cerebellum) already has cast its judgment. We arrive at a conclusion and are more confident than not. This is usually the case if you don’t flight the immediate impulse to draw conclusions. The more (sic) evolved part of our brain (the cerebrum) has yet to even evaluate the situation. The more time we spend in the situation, with the person, engaged with something, the more complicated the situation begins to look. We are conscious creatures but there is more evaluation taking place subconsciously than current science has managed to record.
Alternatives and a semi-conclusion
The best way to think about things is mechanically. Time-box everything. Even a thought process to think about things. Time-box it. You have to plan a trip half way around the world? Time-box it. The plan to make the plan? Time-box it. Anything that needs thought and action needs to be time boxed. That will more times than not lead thought to forced into a structure. So when you are in an unfamiliar situation or facing an unfamiliar audience the best way to evaluate it is to time box the thought process to evaluate the situation. More than restricting the time to evaluate the situation this will force you to use a framework to evaluate the situation. Ironically, the choice of the structure and framework will take time. One needs to lend their mind to reading about reading, writing, understanding culture, looking for results, using goals and objectives. This should be guidance to an end goal. Knowing about things helps to avoid being blindsided by unfamiliar situations and people. Blindsided by people, occurrences, science, and sometimes facts that have already discovered among other things. Awareness about things helps build good frameworks. Awareness comes from reading about things and sometimes being in the situation. Unfortunately the latter which is sometimes called experience needs failure for things to be understood entirely.
More about this in another blog post. Despite a fantastic dream today that made me think about things and a bit emotional and when I woke up I decided two things. One, that this post will never be finished and two I should go out for a long run like old times. So I decided to time-box the drafting of this post and that now is just as good a time to finish it up and post it. At the end I just have one thing to say. Read Mental Models by Shane Parrish and listen to The Knowledge Project. Don’t judge the book and the podcast by either of their covers. In all honesty I have listened to him in a while. But that wasn’t always the case. I did, very frequently in the past. Alright that’s all for now. Mental models. Don’t forget.
Gratitude and Humility, while not part of the Virtues should be or perhaps they are outcomes of Veritas, Garvitas and Honor
I felt like talking to you today and then wrote this (what was supposed to be a short post). This is a compilation of broken notes across a few hours over a couple of days. As context I was watching Kanye’s documentary throughout most of it besides the arguments between meals and other happenings at home. However, I am grateful for many things in life and want to be the ideal version of myself but I’m also struck by the amount of failure in my life. Failure on my part to evaluate situations, failure on the part of my parents, friends, society. Is this what life is? I hope not. I look at the sacrifices of people and the work they put in to achieve success and it exhilarates me.
A few conversations I watched by way of podcasts or videos. The first one was JP’s conversation with Lex Fridman. I hadn’t heard a complete Lex conversation in sometime but this guest was important for me. A part of me wanted him to redeem himself and I felt he did ultimately. Jordan Peterson’s conversation with Lex Fridman was really great overall. I enjoyed the peeling of the scabs and the delving into different understandings of things. Scabs that had formed mostly for Jordan Peterson I think. While he is an introvert and has put himself out there at his volition, he does receive a fair share of bashing from the entities on the social networks (bots or not!). A few hours later I wasn’t in the greatest of moods right now and I’m feeling ridiculous. Even ‘ridiculous’ is not a genuine emotion. Maybe shame would be better. I hope I can be honest on this platform. What is the reason for this? Maybe home?
Then I also listened to Seth Dillon on Joe Rogan. Something that was said at the start of the conversation was to the effect that any comedy (or anything else) with an agenda becomes irritating. This guy (the “CEO” of Babylon Bee) seems he’s come on with so much going on. He seems disturbed and distracted and even looked defensive from the get go in the conversation. Maybe Joe does that to people in person perhaps because Joe is an imposing personality, I’m sure he is. Maybe it was just that Seth was nervous because this was a large platform. He was fidgety and jumped around on a lot of things to defend himself. A part of me also feels like I would perhaps be the same in some situations. I do unfortunately feel like he’s much like me with regard to the nervousness. Though the lack of eye contact though isn’t really much of my thing. Anyway, I don’t have the bandwidth to watch something that I’m not resonating with. And it’s not the ideas, I didn’t agree with the ideas from the get go. I wanted to see a strong defence of his position and that was not happening so I stopped watching it. Maybe I should continue exploring that thread about changes in my demeanour/ home. More on that later.
The background to this post was Kanye’s documentary… it was something that I watched and delighted me but left me in a dark state of mind. I will be biased in my reactions because I already appreciated the guy for his entrepreneurial spirit. However, it also left me sad because I was left drained by the reaction of the world around him. I remember a few years ago when I asked a close friend to watch one of his videos for what he had to say they were disappointed. They said “Don’t ever ask me to watch such a misogynist again”. This was a couple of years before the BLM walks throughout the US, during which the world came to terms with their lack of understanding of the various cultures around them. I don’t think misogyny has place irrespective of any culture and there are no ifs or buts about it. However, what might seem like misogyny might be a cultural misunderstanding. It might just be a lack of context to understand what the person is saying. At any rate the documentary jee-yuhs was really great. It highlighting an interesting take on a life that is going to be remembered for sometime and since this was one of the other things I watched I thought I should write about it.
Recently browsing through HackerNews I saw this post by an Indian entrepreneur who talked about how not getting the H1-B visa was one of the best things that happened to him. While that might have been a fair statement for him personally a lot of commentators on social media were commenting about how that is true and the tide is changing for India. India is now becoming a challenger to Silicon Valley. While reading all this all I could think about what the garbage dump right next to my house where people keep piling on just because. So then, I wrote a small revert which should be somewhere on the interwebs. So here goes… ‘Balaji recently wrote about a version of startup communities in his book The Network State. Although, he talked about first creating virtual communities and then agglomerating enough critical mass to enable people to demand physical changes in the infrastructure/ affect government in the real world. He also speaks highly of India in a related context because of the proliferation of technology supported by the fact that major technology shapers hail from India among other things.
I don’t agree with many of the views and feel like India is missing a key piece. We are not a single country (never have been as goes popular meme goes). It is hard for us as a nation to optimise for success because we have too many competing priorities at the local, state and lower levels. The exaggerated impact of diversity stemming from diverse cultures is too much to handle and optimise for one country’s leadership in my humble opinion. I want to think differently but unfortunately the ground reality is telling for e.g., if you only look at the garbage dumps across various cities despite a national campaign of cleanliness. We as a people needed to be made aware in 50+ languages that we should hesitate from destroying our surroundings and not trash them.
It is easy to think that a 5Gbps connection with air conditioning and organic rations just arrive out of nowhere as it sometimes does in many industrialised/developed countries in the West. There is basic infrastructure that is needed not just to stimulate the economy but also allows for those lowest in the social rungs to benefit and operate like normal human beings do in the West. This is nothing new of course and we all have seen the disparities in large Indian cities. Some even tend to compare it to what is happening in SF and other large cities in the US. My experience is that the environment I was in, both in Singapore and US brought out the best in me. I could spend my intellectual bandwidth on things that actually mattered to the larger society around me. One could say that the return on investment (action/thought ratio) was much higher because I was enabled by basic infrastructure. I didn’t have to care about rowdy neighbours or worms in chocolates or dysfunctional municipal services (comparing the occurrence of these disturbances among others to problems like gun violence is a bit ridiculous in terms of the impact they cause on day to day life for an average common person).
All this is not to say that India is doomed and there is nothing happening here or possible in the long term future. I’m just opining that it takes a lot of basic needs to be satisfied for a society to operate optimally. Without being too cynical, Kunal Bahl had a basic foundation to leave MS and build Snapdeal (after pursuing a great education in the US). It’s not impossible and is a worthy dream that many if not all should pursue but the popular narrative that India is now ripe to be the next Silicon Valley is not realistic. And to me it feels like most technology (only) solutions to societal challenges are like a band-aid. The solutions need to be deeper and cultural, and as much of a curmudgeon this might make me seem, Government needs to be involved in those solutions. Not just government marketing and branding as has become popular these days but actual government action. It will be hard for a large part of the population to see beyond the marketing so yes, it will be an uphill battle.’
Coming back closer to more personal things, life has started to become not be easy at home. It never was, but I had been away from home to have an objective perspective. Remember when I was yet to come home? I remember it. I was so very much looking forward to it and I realise that even now it is a fleeting moment and I should cherish each moment of it but things are starting to get to me. These things are assumptions, ways of thinking, reactions to occurrences, etc. I know that this time will be gone and I will miss it but what of it right now? The mistakes one makes are mostly exclusive of what anyone else has done with/to/for you in life. It takes a little bit of self reflection, which also depends on very personal situations. Yes, externalities impact our lives but there are always options and sometimes we need to make choices whatever hand we are dealt. Sometimes when I listen to people around me talk it feels like an unreal conversation. Not bad, not good, just unreal and disconnect from real life. Opinions and realisations framed by personal takes that are so far from reality and sometimes just seem so bizarre. Empathy isn’t only a method for feeling kindness for another person it also is method to maintain one’s sanity. If gratitude and reality is forgotten life can become hard. There needs to be an effort to see situations from different perspectives in order to not get completely delusional.
A large part of my circle is not curious about many things. Maybe life has taken a toll on them and it has made them this way but it feels like they have just been living… They don’t understand how the world works and don’t endeavour to understand it either. Sometime it feels like they don’t want to understand and don’t really have the intellectual bandwidth to push themselves either. To them people are good or bad based on how they look, their family name or something of the sort defines others around them. Maybe it’s alright because they are a product of their environment and their environment has not been very conducive. I want to give them the benefit of doubt because they are family. A characteristic that I’m not too please about is when a strong willed person is not very bold but is aggressive. It can lead to streaks where enough conviction can lead ridiculous conclusions that are fed by self belief and it becomes a self perpetual cycle.
I was reminiscing about my first few weeks in ATL when I had just started with my first role post MBA. Yes, I was excited but I knew for sure that I wanted to start BJJ as well. I didn’t ask anyone about it and I was just drawn to it because of everything I followed on social media and otherwise. It wasn’t easy. I had a massive (relatively, by my standards) loan to pay off and I also wanted to send money back home. The pay wasn’t the greatest but it was something much more than I had ever been paid. The net effect of everything was that I decided to start BJJ and I remember the first few months when I used the local bus to move around. I caught the local bus down in ATL just to get to the BJJ gym right after work. Work wasn’t easy either. It was good office work that wasn’t paying as much as I should have been paid but whatever I still grit my teeth and made sure that I was doing what I needed to do… After all I was only going to get to the gym to get beat up. Haha… now three years later as a blue belt I can say it was all worth it. The bike falls, the broken ankle, the bruises and all the rest. Feels good to have achieved something. At least that’s the story I’m telling myself, what is your story?
No, I’ve been meditating for 66 days continuously now. If anything I can say that it has been having some or maybe no difference at all in my daily life. However, the one change I can definitely tell is that I don’t have any expectations from the practice. In fact, this post is written for the very purpose that I am not going to unravel some great mystery about the universe by this practice. However, I am going to continue to practice every day. I think the expectations one has from life, relationships within that life, and then the outcomes from those expectations are serious detractors in life. The frequency of posting here definitely has decreased and I will attribute that to work getting started all over again.
This post does however mark the merger of my own personal notes and the blog that I am now maintaining as my physical journal. My body of work which will remain after me. Hopefully, someone going through the same trials and tribulations will be able to use this as a reference and not make the same mistakes or perhaps use the steps I took to make it a wonderful life. For me, it was a poem that shaped many of my ideologies since I was young. Not all but some.
“A moment there my buoyant heart hung slack,
And then the glad, barbaric blood came back
Singing a livelier tune; and in my pulse
Beat the great wave that surges and exults …
Why I was there and whither I must go I did not care.
Enough for me to know
The same unresting struggle and the glowing
Beauty of spendthrift-hours, bravely showing
Life, an adventure perilous and gay;
And Death, a long and vivid holiday.”
‘Swimmers’ by Louis Untermeyer
In other news, I have a few drafts that are pending publication here on this blog but I am encouraged to write and write more often. I think I will now write with a sense of urgency because I know that all this privilege I have been afforded should not be wasted. In a related story about making life better each day, I am now almost back to regular running. I did feel something funny in my ankle today but hopefully, the little kinks will unravel as I get more time stamping the tender grounds. Aerobic in Zone 2 is the fad of the day. Perhaps I can get 8 kilometers in each day.
The post yesterday wasn’t up to the mark. Unfortunately, I feel like I was probably under the influence when I wrote it. The truth is that I was not. That would be a romantic idea of how a blog or book could be written. The fact is that I was just under the influence of the noise that there exists because of the world around me.
What should be the public policy to regulate the dissemination of information? In my opinion, the answer to that question can come either from an expert or simply a person who is observant about the world around them. However one needs to be mindful of all the factors and drivers of such a decision. This is the question about a policy for a policy. As someone recently told me it’s not a unitary or binarily dimensioned problem but rather a multidimensional problem. That is a very accurate description of many challenges that need to be solved in the world today. Identification of those factors that make the problem multidimensional should be step one of problem-solving. That also means defining the problem so that it could be understood by someone not familiar with the subject. This is almost thinking like a consultant. Perhaps a part of me is happy about this realization.
The topic in question is ‘the dissemination of information.’ The first question that comes to mind is dissemination to whom? Is it the people of the nation, is it the people in authority who may or may not have a certain political affiliation (‘always‘ would be the answer to that wonderment). Dissemination for the purposes of my examination here will be the spread of information to the common public. Even within the common public, it is specifically that part of the population that lacks a sense of determination. I particularly call it determination because not only does that take some sort of fortitude but also a sense and skill of separating what needs to be evaluated from what doesn’t. In some sections of the audience reading this that specification could be applied in a meta way on this topic and one could almost apply that filter to the very question that I raised.
In order to understand public policy one almost needs to understand what impact certain regulations or laws can potentially have on the public. If not in a prolonged sense of time at least in the near future. That understanding in itself needs the discernment of people and systems. Interactions of these drivers and an understanding of those drivers independently. Maybe not an exhaustive understanding of Jungian and Freudian psychology but just what drives people to behave a certain way. The outcomes that people desire are another topic of consideration.
I am afraid to introduce any topic in most discussions because I find that people lack a basic understanding of most things. This of course seems very egoistic of me but here I will also admit that there are others with whom I would very much engage in such debate very willingly as well. Most of the people that I pull into a debate wither away at the slightest thought of what it would mean if they were wrong about the position they hold. I, on the other hand, enter into conversations with the utmost confidence in my abilities to derive a conclusion from a given set of facts. My position might be incorrect due to the number of facts that I have taken into consideration but that understanding can always be updated and I am conscious of that result. Drawing conclusions is not the hard part for me. Neither is the emotional turmoil of being caught on the ‘wrong’ side of the debate.
So how does all this relate to the dissemination of information? I many times have experienced people failing to draw conclusions from a given set of facts. It is not the failure of their awareness but the failure to be curious or draw conclusions once those facts come to light during a conversation. This leaves me with a sense of concern about people deriving accurate conclusions from the information when presented to them. This concern was raised out of something that is now also a promise of the decentralization movement. The decentralization of information, technology, and resources among other things. However, I think it’s a valid question to ask – Is decentralization of information a good thing or bad when one is aware about ‘the tragedy of the commons’. A resource of any type gets optimized for individual consumption when released to the commons. This conversation will continue, perhaps for a few more units of measurable time in my head, at the very least.