Monthly update: Lapsed habits and inquisitive animals
Feb 27, 2021 5:01 am
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Here's what had my attention in February...
What I've been up to
🤷♂️ I've spent most of February making important decisions in areas that I'm wholly unqualified to have a valid opinion about.
The convincingness of my pensive nod and thoughtful "I see..." has come on leaps and bounds. Even though I've been enormously out of my depth most of the time (and fortunately supported by excellent and patient advisers), there have been a surprising number of occasions when my lack of knowledge has been a boon.
Often, I've leapt to a hasty conclusion based on nothing but gut feel – only for a whole phalanx of top lawyers and accountants to agree with me after careful consideration. Let's not get carried away: I've acted like a clueless child far more frequently and this could be a "stopped clock" situation, but I've got a feeling there's something interesting going on.
I suspect part of it is that by knowing virtually nothing, the bit that actually matters jumps straight out – and I'm not distracted by all the intricacies of the subject, because I flat-out can't understand them. Another factor could be the ability to come up with solutions that someone properly versed in a subject never would, because it tends not to be "the way things are normally done".
This isn't just a business phenomenon. When Donald Trump first announced he was running for President, I immediately put a bet on him winning. I knew nothing about any of the candidates' policies, how the electoral college works, or anything like that. If I'm honest I still sometimes ask my wife to remind me what the difference is between Republicans and Democrats. But as a result of knowing next to nothing, the outcome of the election seemed obvious – whereas to those with deep psephological knowledge it seemed impossible until it suddenly wasn't.
I'm not downplaying the benefits of actually knowing what the hell you're talking about and applying some professional rigour – far from it. But if you find yourself in a situation where you're way out of your depth, don't panic: with the right help, your very cluelessness may just be a great asset.
📆 February has been a shocking month for maintaining good habits, and standards have slipped across the board.
I have various tedious self-serving excuses for this, but mention it for balance because I know I'm generally more likely to select anecdotes from my life that make me sound better than I really am.
My attempted fix is to introduce some short-term goals – like giving myself a running goal to have achieved by the end of March that won't allow me to skip or slack off in a single workout. Will it work? I'll probably only share if it does.
The one thing I've been doing without fail, because it's such fun, is daily studying of flashcards using Anki's shared decks as I've mentioned before. Who knew that the capital of Burkina Faso had such a funny name, or that Bosnia & Herzegovina has such a brilliant flag?
What I've published
– Quantitative Easing: The big development no-one’s talking about. A brilliant bit of reverse-marketing by the Bank of England means a significant shift in how public spending is financed has gone almost completely unnoticed.
– My email workflow that productivity experts would hate. I've reversed typical email management advice and it's working brilliantly.
– A beginner's guide to Bitcoin security. Written mainly for myself to help me understand some new concepts, but you might get something out of it too.
What I've enjoyed
🛠 I've started reading the book Fixing Economics by George Cooper, and have got lots out of it despite being less than a third of the way through. Main (slightly depressing) insight: science is nowhere as objective as it's made out to be, wrong theories can cling on for centuries, and better theories frequently have to wait for proponents of the old one to die off before they can take hold.
🧃 Kombucha – if you're not pretentious enough to know already – is a fermented non-alcoholic drink, not something to which you should respond "bless you". Although it's decidedly odd, I happen to love it – but every brand I can find in the supermarket is overly sweetened or combined with other flavours I don't want.
Enter Basic Booch, which I discovered via a mention from my friend Sam Floy, so I'm paying it forward. Proper Kombucha flavour, no messing about, and delivered to your door. They're currently offering four cans for free (just pay shipping) too.
That's not an affiliate link, and please don't email me if it makes you retch. I'll be sticking to the book/podcast/video recommendations in future.
😹 Whenever I'm feeling low, I just revisit this Twitter thread of inquisitive animals interrupting wildlife photographers.
👋That’s it for February! It'd be great to hear from you if you've got news or recommendations to share.
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