Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
kotmj

What you're reading right now

Recommended Posts

Huhuh, managed to download A Timeless Way of Building.

 

250px-The_Timeless_Way_of_Building.jpg

 

Here's an extract from this 540-page tome. This is just the first volume -- the second is titled A Pattern Language.

 

--------------------------------------------------

 

In this chapter, and the next, we shall see just how certain patterns do create this special sense of life.

 

They create it in the first place, by liberating man. They create life, by allowing people to release their energy, by allowing people, themselves, to become alive. Or, in other places, they prevent it, they destroy the sense of life, they destroy the very possibility of life, by creating conditions under which people cannot possibly be free.

 

Let us now try to understand the mechanism by which this works.

 

A man is alive when he is wholehearted, true to himself, true to his own inner forces, and able to act freely according to the nature of the situations he is in.

 

This is the central kernel of truth already expressed in chapter 3.

 

To be happy, and to be alive, in this sense, are almost the same. Of course, a man who is alive, is not always happy in the sense of feeling pleasant; experiences of joy are balanced by experiences of sorrow. But the experiences are all deeply felt; and above all, the man is whole; and conscious of being real.

 

To be alive, in this sense, is not a matter of suppressing some forces or tendencies, at the expense of others; it is a state of being in which all forces which arise in a man can find expression; he lives in balance among the forces which arise in him; he is unique as the pattern of forces which arises is unique; he is at peace, since there are no disturbances created by underground forces which have no outlet, at one with himself and his surroundings.

 

This state cannot be reached merely by inner work.

 

There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need do only inner work, in order to be alive like this; that a man is entirely responsible for his own problems; and that to cure himself, he need only change himself. This teaching has some value, since it is so easy for a man to imagine that his problems are caused by "others". But it is a one-sided and mistaken view which also maintains the arrogance of the belief that the individual is self-sufficient, and not dependent in any essential way on his surroundings.

 

The fact is, a person is so far formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings.

 

Some kinds of social and physical circumstances help a person come to life. Others make it very difficult.

 

For instance, in some towns, the pattern of relationships between workplaces and families help us to come to life.

 

Workshops mix with houses, children run around the places where the work is going on, the members of the family help in the work, the family may possibly eat lunch together, or eat lunch together with the people who are working there.

 

The fact that family and play are part of one continuous stream, helps nourish everyone. Children see how work happens, they learn what it is that makes the adult world function, they get an overall coherent view of things; men are able to connect the possibility of play and laughter, and attention to children, without having to separate them sharply in their minds, from work. Men and women are able to work, and to pay attention to their families, more or less equally, as they wish to; love and work are connected, able to be one, understood and felt as coherent by the people who are living there.

 

In other towns where work and family life are physically separate, people are harassed by inner conflicts which they can't escape.

 

A man wants to live in his work and he wants to be close to his family; but in a town where work and family are physically separate, he is forced to make impossible choices among these desires. He is exposed to the greatest emotional pressure from his family, at that moment when he is most tired -- when he just comes home from work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.amazon.co...a/dp/0312427808

 

Yoko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor.

 

I am only 20% through, but I just know that this is one of those rare books where I can truly say that the writer has made me better and wiser (as opposed to mere technical knowledge). It helps if you like mathematics, but not essential. The writer's talent with words and expression is bewildering.

 

The last two books that left similar profound impressions are Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Deep Simplicity by John Gribbin. Ogawa is on another plane entirely.

 

This is good. But don't expect excitement ala charged testorone action.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Antifragile is an amazing read but with limited real life applicability for me. I gained new appreciation for the benefits that come from being unable to go bust. Basically, you make sure that downsides do not kill you, then just continue surviving until a positive Black Swan happens to you. In business, this means having very low levels of fixed costs. Where possible, turn what would usually be fixed costs into variable/unit costs. Also, use no debt. By doing this, it is not possible to die, so you keep operating, mutating your model until you hit on one that works or until Lady Fortune smiles on you and you get bought by someone for a silly price or something.

 

Just finished reading The Strategist by Cynthia Montgomery. It's a profound book, yet not entirely convincing. It argues that a strategy is "a difference that matters" and that this difference is evanescent, so the job of a business leader (CEO) is to take in all the signals the environment gives him/her and use that to keep changing the strategy. The business leader is the guardian of the strategy, and the strategy is a company's way of mattering to customers. If you have no answer to the question "If your company disappeared today, would the world be different tomorrow?", then you have no strategy. The book uses the examples of IKEA and Apple, and describes the remarkable turnaround of Gucci by de Sole & Ford. The unconvincing aspect of the book is that there is no mention of market testing. It makes the case for leaders to synthesize a strategy out of their insights and profound knowledge of market forces, but it does not advocate pilot projects/proof of concepts to make sure the strategy works out in the wild.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Antifragile is an amazing read but with limited real life applicability for me. I gained new appreciation for the benefits that come from being unable to go bust. Basically, you make sure that downsides do not kill you, then just continue surviving until a positive Black Swan happens to you. In business, this means having very low levels of fixed costs. Where possible, turn what would usually be fixed costs into variable/unit costs. Also, use no debt. By doing this, it is not possible to die, so you keep operating, mutating your model until you hit on one that works or until Lady Fortune smiles on you and you get bought by someone for a silly price or something.

 

Came here to post about Taleb's book, looks like you beat me to it.

 

You really need an open mind to read and understand Taleb's work. Some people hesitate to read Antifragile due to the fact that his previous books (especially Black Swan) had quite a strong element of mathematics and statistics in it, but that is not the case with Antifragile.

 

One thing I really liked about this book is the focus on practicality in daily life situations. When I read his previous books, I was often left wondering how to apply those concepts in real life, and this book bridges that gap very well for me. Overall an excellent book.

 

Are you aware that 'Nero' in the book refers to himself?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Black Swan was an amazing book. Read it in my first year in university. Put a lot of statisticians to shame.

 

I also really liked 'Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life' by Dixit. It's not technically something I've recently read, or am reading, but I really enjoyed it back when I was in high school. Found (find) it very insightful.

 

Rarely even get the chance to pick up a book and enjoy it (let alone finish it).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of interest to this group will be William Gibson's 2010 novel 'Zero History'. I read it about a year ago. It's all about milspec, rare Japanese denim, secret artisanal labels, patination, authenticity, the generation of the affect of cool, and cool-hunting. I think Kotmj might particularly enjoy it. You can also follow Gibson on Twitter at @greatdismal.

 

Edit: I found Black Swan to be an incredibly shallow, shameless rip-off of earlier philosophical works, primarily Hume's 'An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding' in which he outlined the problem of induction -- using the black swan example -- which is the very problem Taleb claims to describe. The only thing is, Hume wrote his treatise in 1748. It's disingenuous of Taleb, then, to excavate this idea and present it as some sort of original thought.

 

Kotmj, if you find Taleb 'delicious' you should partake of some 18th century Scottish utilitarianism. It's of a better vintage, one might say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joonian, you're such a contrarian when it comes to these things.

 

The last two posts are really interesting: not what you're reading now but what you've read and years later still find cool.

 

In this vein, I recently I bought a book I had once bought before (but lost/discarded). "Growing a business" by Paul Hawken. The first time I read it (10 years ago?) it was magical, spiritual, inspiring. This time I found it underwhelming. The book is still admirable, but not the great book I once found it to be.

 

I think a lot has to do with the demystification of life and of human affairs as I grow older. You start to figure things out, and so life loses its magic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I think a lot has to do with the demystification of life and of human affairs as I grow older. You start to figure things out, and so life loses its magic.

 

Time for a holiday Jeremy. I suggest Paris or Istanbul.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that every time we want to innovate, we should always go back to the old stuff, to writers writing in their 18th century context, won't you say? There's no need to to read more modern updates, never mind that there are improvements in a general theory, or that it's rendered in a more relevant way, and might be more efficient to pick up a modern text and go, 'Yes, that's it' right away. Yessss! Old is goldddd! Forget that Taleb talked about globalization or that he demonstrated instances of the Ludic Fallacy (which is, incidentally, Platonic in origins). Damn, he's rips off Plato too?!

 

We should forget the adage that to progress, one always stands on the shoulders of giants, and just, well, call everybody who improves on a design, (includes new stuff) and makes it relevant, a copycat. You want to design something new, you better start from scratch! No copying ideas and improving upon them!

 

In that vein, perhaps, we should call Toyota a blatant rip-off Ford, or Samsung phones a disgusting copy of Apple's iPhone, wait, let's make that a blatant copy of the first phone ever made (what is it?) since it's a copy of a similar idea. And since Apple's iPhone has the word phone in it, they must have been presenting it as an original idea and that they're the inventors of the hand-phone. Terrible copy-cats!

 

And, I find it interesting, that Taleb mentioned Hume and how he derived his logic from Hume on page 14 of the book onwards. Hmmm. I think Taleb must have been contradicting himself since if he presented the idea of Black Swan as his original work, then surely, he shouldn't have cited Hume, and discussed Hume. How disingenuous of him to that. Yes, I don't suffer fools and Taleb is a fool for doing that.

 

But, I can't criticize Taleb's methodologies. I don't know anything about his argument (and logical approach) enough to criticize it. Sorry folks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A rare interview with a genuine business titan who is mentioned too seldom: http://www.bloomberg...nerations-.html

 

Perhaps most fascinating, for me, is Robert's display of emotion when talking about his personal moral values and their connection to the death of his brother William, who was killed by British soldiers while fighting as a guerilla for the Malayan Communist Party. What role did the MCP connection play in Robert's subsequent and spectacular success in the People's Republic?

 

An interesting fact also was Robert's choice of office decor. Elephant tusks gifted by the Tunku. How apt.

 

(here we are again, boys. I read it when it came out years ago. It didn't make an impression. You're probably right on all those points. Nevertheless, I maintain that there are better books to read on the subject of inductive reasoning and its attendant problems.

 

Additionally... curious that you should hiss, mockingly, that 'old is gold' given your antediluvian tastes in clothing, accessories, home decor and favourite empire)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Edit: I found Black Swan to be an incredibly shallow, shameless rip-off of earlier philosophical works ... It's disingenuous of Taleb, then, to excavate this idea and present it as some sort of original thought.

 

 

A book 'not making an impression is not the same as saying that you found the 'Black Swan to be an incredibly shallow, shameless rip-off of earlier philosophical works' and claiming that 'It's disingenuous of Taleb, then, to excavate this idea and present it as some sort of original thought', when there's no basis for that (like how I illustrated why). If it's the former sentiments that you possess, then say so, (or if the latter, at least do so in a civil manner, unless you'd like me to review your book and your work, or articles in an equally damning fashion. Of course, though, I'll justify what I say), and nobody will look at your claim skeptically. See the difference? What I think is ironic is that you make damning assertions and can't really justify them properly. And in your doing so, you run people down. Wait, a minute, who was talking about rational superiority again?

 

 

Though, of course, I was agreeing with you in the above post.

 

However, I'm, honestly, glad you see my point in that post. You're getting better (no sarcasm).

 

Btw, wearing suits/Purple Drakes ties/Vass shoes, and cufflinks are exceptionally antediluvian? If not ... Sure, they were started generations ago, but have been subject to modern updates ... So ... I'm afraid to have to say you're barking up the wrong tree there.

 

 

Additionally... curious that you should hiss, mockingly, that 'old is gold' given your antediluvian tastes in clothing, accessories, home decor and favourite empire)

 

 

As for the rest, even if so (which I don't disagree though I prefer to believe they're timeless in style -- you can reject that if you like), I still believe in practicality and functionality, which means, if it comes to a choice between function or form, I choose the function. So, what has my taste in home decor, for instance, got to do with somebody being mired in a 'we should always go back to old texts that are rendered in a less relevant way,' even though there are modern updates?

 

That, Joonian, is the context of my statement 'old is gold'. So please, try not to take it out of context. Or are you telling me because I said 'old is gold' I should prefer to live in the caveman age since that is olddd.

 

Yes, I think the epoch of Empire is an interesting period of history, like the Renaissance, like the Enlightenment, more particularly so because it is closer in time to the present. I think interesting lessons can be gleaned -- like how did Empire start, and why did an Empire on which the sun never set, collapse, what does it mean for America in Iraq and Afghanistan etc. You okay with that? Or do you need me to say more, so you can see the differences between academic interest in a particular period of history and the fondness for the attitudes of the colonialists that inhabit the period ... Like I said, just because I don't address all your points (when you brought this up in the other thread) doesn't mean I can't. So, unless you want to seem like you can't really understand differences, please don't compel me to flash them out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please don't flash anything out here, boys! That would be far too rude for a gentleman of your standing.

 

Also, please don't flood this thread with your long-winded (and most tragically, boring) prattle. Other people have a right to undisturbed use of the forum too, you know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ robert is indeed a titan and an aspirational figure. Well, after hermes man of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

pedalling.jpg

 

This I enjoyed very much, I have an autographed copy of this book. Good read even for those who don't cycle as a hobby. Sandra Loh was formerly based in Langkawi but the last I heard she went back to Kuantan, her hometown and started a homestay business called Snuz Inn.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×