Book Review: Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Superpower by Ed Latimore

Ed Latimore is one of my favorite people on the Internet, and one of the best reasons to even get a Twitter account in the first place.

Ed is a professional heavyweight boxer, a physicist, a chess player, and a writer. And he just drops bomb after bomb of wisdom, delivered with humor and flair.

The funny thing about Ed–and this is absolutely intended as a compliment–is that much of his advice sounds exactly like the advice that my father gave me growing up, and that my grandfather gave my dad.

You see, wisdom doesn’t changeSociety might look different as the decades go by, but eternal truths remain.

Ed also helped boost this humble blog: Once he started following me on Twitter, tweeting out links to my posts, and even linking to my site from his, I noticed my traffic increase exponentially. The point of this isn’t to humblebrag, but to explain that Ed is the kind of guy that likes to help others out. He shows gratitude and inspires others to show gratitude in return.

It’s been cool to see Ed’s rise. For example, when I joined Twitter and started following him, he had something like 2,000 followers. Two years later, he’s up to 25,600. The message is getting out. Quality attractsOr to put it in terms Ed might employ, provide value, and people will flock to you.

Given that I am a fan of Ed the thinker and Ed the man, when I heard he was writing a book, I was very, very excited. Published in February of 2017, Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Superpower: Insights from a Heavyweight Boxer is not Ed’s first book, but I do think its his most substantive. And now that I’ve finally gotten a chance to read it, I can tell you that it is a worthy addition in the realm of “self-improvement” literature.

There are themes that run through the book: Self-discipline and delayed gratification, focus, and surrounding oneself with quality people recur, and much of Ed’s insights touch on or stem from these key points.

Ed doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He doesn’t talk down to readers. And what Ed preaches is not controversial or weird or overly esoteric. His gift is reframing universal truths in memorable ways. Continue reading “Book Review: Not Caring What Other People Think Is A Superpower by Ed Latimore”

Reset: Chapter 16: Wednesday, September 5, 2001 (1)

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Joe would hold firm. “No,” he said.

“Yes.”

“I’m not going.”

“You have to!”

“I’m an adult. I don’t have to do anything.”

Nick wagged a long finger in Joe’s face like the world’s tallest schoolmarm. “Not anymore!”

Joe rolled over, pulling his blankets around him in an ever-tighter cocoon. “And whose fault is that?”

“Wow. You’re unbelievable, you know that? You really take the cake. You’re like an attack dog. You never let things go.”

“Would you just let me sleep?”

But Nick kept rocking him back and forth like a loose tooth. “Fifteen minutes until class starts. You know what they say about being late for the first day!”

Joe threw Nick’s hands off and sat upright. His blankets fell, revealing his bare chest and flat stomach. He had to admit it felt nice to once again be unashamed of his body. “Of all the things you’ve done, out of everything, this might be the worst.”

“Didn’t you have, like, a son or something?” Continue reading Reset: Chapter 16: Wednesday, September 5, 2001 (1)”

Freedom Or Not

I wonder about how humanity goes about policing itself. Not only because I’m a lawyer and incentives and systems in general fascinate me, but because human beings themselves are a never-ending source of wonder and amusement.

There’s a libertarian school of thought that says “Legalize all the things! People are adults; treat them as such!” The countervailing impulse says “Ban all the things! People need to be saved from themselves!” Me, I’m generally against, banning things, but I do have a strong belief that people need limits.

“Prohibition of anything will lead to unintended consequences, and likely worse problems!”

Perhaps. This was the case with alcohol–prohibition was a failure that helped give power to organized crime. But it’s folly and flat-out wrong to think that organized crime wasn’t there, wasn’t dangerous, and wasn’t strong before America’s experiment in banning alcohol. (Have you read Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury? You really should; it’s a fascinating discussion on the underbelly of 19th and early 20th century America. Pure nightmare fuel).

Dumping alcohol prohibition

I would say that I’m on the fence about marijuana legalization. It’s kind of like alcohol, sure. But I’m suspect because a lot of pro-pot people a) don’t seem serious about anything other than pot and b) they tend to also be anti-tobacco, which makes no sense.

But generally, the tension is between treating people like children who need to be coddled and treating people like adults who can make decisions on their own. Statism versus near-anarchy in the political sense (little to no government or authority whatsoever).

I have problems with both extremes, as one would imagine. But I’m going to take more of an issue with the anarcho-libertarian idea because it will not work as society is currently constructed. Continue reading “Freedom Or Not”

Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

The great Jane Austin read-through continues with her final published work, Persuasion, which hit the public in 1817 some six months after Austen’s death.

Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot, the middle daughter of a minor baronet Sir Walter. Sir Walter is a widower who doesn’t care much for Anne at all, devoting most of his time and attention to his eldest daughter Elizabeth. But the handsome and vain Sir Walter, more concerned with appearances and being thought of as a member of high society, is also a bit of a spendthrift. In addition to shunting off his parenting duties to Lady Russell, his late wife’s friend and Anne’s godmother, he’s burned through the family fortune.

But Lady Russell has a solution: The Elliots should rent out their estate, Kellynch Hall and retire to more modest lodgings in Bath until their debt is paid off. Like Northanger Abbey, the city of Bath is one of Persuasion‘s main settings–in fact, the two books were originally published together. And like Northanger Abbey, and pretty much every single Jane Austen book, marriage is a central theme.

I understand it: in early 19th century England marriage was one of the few ways in which a young woman could improve her lot in life. Every single work of Austen’s is a variation on this theme. That said, she does such a good job with the characterizations and in setting up her problems and resolutions that these stories never get stale. Continue reading “Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen”

What Owns You

Hands in chains

Compulsion. We think it’s a disorder–OCD. Most of us, we say, are above it. We’re in control.

But really, that’s a delusion. So many things control out lives. And adding more irony is that we are keenly aware of it.

The device you’re probably reading this on: How many times a day do you check it? If you’re an average person, the answer is 80 times per day. Eighty! Who’s in control?

It’s no great revelation that the stuff we own ends up owning us. But it’s helpful to occasionally remind ourselves of this.

Tyler Durden Fight Club quote the things you own end up owning you
People knock Fight Club, but the book and movie resonate for a reason.

Lots of these things are vampires, leeching us of or time, money, and energy. Time, money, and energy that could be put to more productive use. It’s bad enough that we don’t really own much of the stuff we think we do . . . and then, this stuff turns around and owns us.

I know that I myself have several things that own me, physical good or otherwise. These keep me from doing what I really want to do and know that I should do: write, read, pray, work out, play music, think, and so on.

Bela Lugosi Count Dracula

A caveat: These things don’t interfere with family time. When I’m with my family, the screens are out of sight. That’s an iron clad rule, and it’s one that’s easy to follow, because my wife and I keep each other in check (this will be important later on), and quite frankly it’s embarrassing wasting so much time on this stuff. Continue reading “What Owns You”

Reset: Chapter 15: Tuesday, September 4, 2001 (4)

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The silence stretched out until Joe’s eyes grew tired from focusing on the same spot on their carpet. “So what do you think?” he asked quietly.

“I think a lot of things,” said Nick, a bemused expression frozen on his face. “Most of which you probably don’t want to hear right now.”

“We can try to stop it.”

“Weren’t we just talking about how we shouldn’t try to change too much?”

A buzzing in Joe’s legs made him stand; he felt as though sitting down any longer would kill him. “I think us just being here is changing everything.”

“This wasn’t supposed to happen.” Nick crossed his arms and looked out of the window.

“It’s a little late for buyer’s remorse, don’t you think? It’s like setting The Machine back to December sixth and not warning anyone.”

Nick turned. “About Christmas?”

Struggling for a response, Joe could only let out a choked gasp.

“God, I feel so old,” said Nick, rubbing a hand over his eyes.

Joe stopped pacing and stood next to Nick, looking out the window with him. Paxton Hall overlooked a quad in between two other dorms, a quad which was still fairly busy given the late hour, the way college campuses often were. Hives of activity. People from all over. Maybe some of them lost loved ones on that day, or knew someone who had. “We’ve got to do something, Nick. All those people . . .”

“Sure,” said Nick quietly. “And then what? What happens to the country? To the world?”

“For starters, there’ll be three-thousand fewer dead people. I can think of a couple of buildings that’ll still be standing.”

“The wars, then? The terrorists? 9/11 created the modern world. What happens if that never happened?”

Joe shrugged. “Who says the modern world is so great?”

“And what about the election? And the ones after that?

“You’re making this sound better and better.” Continue reading Reset: Chapter 15: Tuesday, September 4, 2001 (4)”

Inhumanity Is All The Rage These Days

The logo from the Marvel comics The Inhumans

What is it about tragedy that brings out the worst in people?

I know what you’re thinking: Tragedies can also bring out the best. We have seen how America has banded together in the wake of the terrible devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose.

But then, there’s the recent Las Vegas shooting.

I’m not going to go into the gory details here, but suffice it to say an incredibly evil man shot a bunch of people at a music festival, killing close to 60 and wounding hundreds of others before turning the gun on himself.

Once again, the reaction to this act of inhumanity is nearly as inhuman as the act itself.

No, you see, it wasn’t the killer who bears responsibility. It’s the NRA. It’s NRA members. It’s the Republican Party of the United States of America. It’s any lawmaker who didn’t vote to enact laws (that wouldn’t have made a difference anyway).  It’s anyone who supports the Second Amendment. It’s anybody who likes country music. It’s anybody who voted for Donald Trump. It’s Donald Trump himself (for God’s sake, the man is living rent-free in 60,000,000 people’s heads. Why does anybody let a politician control their thoughts and emotions?!).

The impulse to immediately start casting blame at people who had nothing to do with an act of violence instead of blaming the actual perpetrator is terrifyingly inhuman and evil. 

It’s sick and it’s wrong and it explains so much of what is going on in this country.

This attitude explains why there seems to be no hope of communication, no hope of reconciliation. One group of people wants the other to actually die.

How do you overcome this? How do you get over hatred, which seems to be one of the easiest, most enjoyable emotion to succumb to?

For starters, you have to imagine the other person as a human being with a soul and inherent worth. This might take a hell of a lot of imagination, but it can be done. And once it’s done, you start to extrapolate what would happen if this person were to die:

  • Do they have wife? Children? A family?.
  • Do other people enjoy spending time with them? Are other people relying on them?
  • How would other people’s lives be impacted if this person were to die?
  • What about the important people in your life? How would they be affected if you died?
  • How would you feel if someone that you cared for were murdered merely for their beliefs or opinions?

Really, it’s no different than the old cliche of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. These are really basic, human questions to act. And yet humanity seems in such short supply. Continue reading “Inhumanity Is All The Rage These Days”