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”

Close Your Mind: A Response to Zigmund Reichenbach’s Guest Post

Hey everyone. In case you missed it, my response to Zigmund Reichenbach‘s guest post has been posted over at his excellent blog, All My Small Thoughts. In it, I discuss how using Zig’s idea of methodological skepticism can strengthen your own arguments and how this relates to debates and even the law, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But I also get into how an excess of skepticism can lead to an inability to judge. In other words, that there is such a thing as being too open-minded. An excerpt:

“Judgment” has become a dirty word, as though making a decision–and sticking with it!–is somehow a bad thing. How dare we place value on anything that anyone alive on this world decides to do or say? Who are you to judge?!

I’ll tell you. I’m a thinking human being.

Open-mindedness is good and all, but at some point you have to close your damn mind and discern and decide and yes, judge.

Read the whole thing at Zigmund’s blog, read the rest of his writing because he’s posting a lot of good stuff over there . . . and tell him Alex sent you.

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

And check out my Instagram here.

Eight Insights About God, Man, and Creation from Moses Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed

Moses Maimonides - The Guide for the Perplexed cover

How does one “review” a dense, millennia-old treatise on Jewish philosophy and religion?

One doesn’t. But what one can do is share insights and particularly powerful ideas and concepts with another.

In The Guide for the Perplexed, written around 1190 in Moor-occupied Spain, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (aka Maimonides aka Rambam) writes to his student Rabbi Joseph ben Judah of Ceuta, to remove some of his confusions regarding certain aspects of faith and philosophy.

The Guide touches on many, many topics including:

  • The multiple meanings of Hebrew words and how to properly interpret the Torah (aka the first five books of the Old Testament)
  • Aristotelian philosophy: what Aristotle got right and wrong
  • Problems Maimonides sees with certain aspects of Islamic theology
  • The nature of God and proof of His existence
  • The nature of evil, and why it exists
  • Divine Providence
  • The nature of angels, prophecy (with a detailed discussion of Ezekiel) and dreams
  • Astronomy (as understood at the time) and the “spheres”
  • The purpose of God’s commandments

And yet instead of seeming disjointed, the Guide has as a constant thread two main themes:

  1. Discerning who God is and what He wants
  2. Achieving perfection, as much as possible, by coming to true knowledge of God

It’s heavy stuff, but it makes you appreciate the magic of the written word, and how one man’s letters nearly one thousand years ago still speak to us today, explaining mysteries and, as the title says, removing perplexities . . . or at least easing them and providing a way forward for further studies and thought.

Moses Maimonides statue Cordoba, Spain

Regular readers of Amatopia know that I am a Christian and don’t shy about writing on religious topics, so if that isn’t your bag, you have been warned. But even though Maimonides was Jewish, there is much overlap between Judaism and Christianity–same God, same creation stories, same traditions, similar rites (or at least the meaning behind them) and much of the same general theology and philosophy about God and man.

Obviously, Christians accept Christ as the promised Messiah and Son of God described in Jewish prophecy and Jews regard Him as a prophet and religious leader, but not Divine.

But the point remains: Christians can get a lot out of The Guide for the Perplexed. And even if you are not Christian, Jewish, or religious at all, Maimonides is a powerful thinker you will get a lot out of reading. Here are eight of my favorite takeaways from The Guide for the Perplexed:

Continue reading “Eight Insights About God, Man, and Creation from Moses Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed

Guest Post: Methodological Skepticism by Zigmund Reichenbach of All My Small Thoughts

Statue of a man thinking

Skepticism comes in a variety of styles and flavors. Some prefer the nihilistic variety, others prefer playing skeptical troll.

But fortunately for us, there’s a better kind of skepticism.

One that we can use to:

1. Uplift others
2. Make conversation
3. Become more intelligent in the process.

This variety of skepticism will be known as “methodological skepticism” (a distinction borrowed from scholar Michael Forster).

Scholar Michael Forester

This skepticism relies on a Greek concept called “equipollence” meaning “equal force on both sides” as it pertains to making arguments.

And we can use this form of skepticism in a very “judicial” manner–meaning we can use to build up the arguments of our “opponents,” test our arguments against this “iron man”–for strawmen are intentionally weak arguments designed to set us up for moral grandstanding–and see which argument wins. Continue reading “Guest Post: Methodological Skepticism by Zigmund Reichenbach of All My Small Thoughts”

Be My Guest . . . Again!

img_5421-1That’s right, it’s time for another guest post here on Amatopia!

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Zigmund Reichenbach of All My Small Thoughts. Zig is a smart dude, funny guy, philosopher, intellectual patriot, and all around interesting cat who always has something trenchant to say. He is studying to become a full-blown Hannah Arendt scholar, yet still finds the time to write and publish his pieces.

His post is going to be about a topic near and dear to my heart: Skepticism! Read and enjoy, leave lots of comments, and as before I’ll be publishing my reaction to Zig’s piece afterwards . . . here or perhaps even at Zig’s site.

Mystery abounds . . .

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

And check out my Instagram here.

Must We Politics?

Must politics ruin everything?

Must politics infect even our art?

Must blog posts have bad grammar?

These thoughts came to me recently (well, maybe not the grammar one) as I witnessed author Jon Del Arroz on Twitter going back-and-forth with other authors about the seeming impossibility of keeping politics out of fiction. Jon, clearly, thinks that it is possible to write politics-free fiction, and that it is, in fact, easy to do. This is part of the impetus behind the Pulp Revolution, after all:

Just don’t write politics into it.

 

Author Jon Del Arroz
Jon Del Arroz

On the other side is the view that it’s impossible because political viewpoints form who the author is, and that such a fundamental part of the writer–or artist in general–is always going to seep through:

Politics are a part of the author, and every work is a piece of the author’s soul.

I have a problem with this second position, for four main reasons:

  1. Hypocrisy on the part of those who make this argument. These are the same people who try to tell us that, in our politicians, character doesn’t matter and that personal beliefs, whether philosophy or faith, need to be kept out of politics. Yet it’s “impossible” to separate personal values and beliefs from something with arguably far fewer consequences like art? Do we pick and choose based on some arbitrary metric? How does this even make sense?
  2. The conflation of contemporary politics with universal themes about humanity. Much of what passes as contemporary political philosophy is meaningless gibberish. Deconstruction, critical theory, tax policy, post-modernism, and the reduction of every single facet of human interaction into the oppressor/oppressed dichotomy has as much to do with the human experience and the intellectual life as your bowel movement has to do with high art (unless you’re a Dadaist, I guess, then have at it).
  3. It demonstrates a lack of skill. This one is short but sweet: a good writer can write from the perspective of anyone, and make the reader believe it…without the character sounding like a mouthpiece for the author.
  4. The conflation of politics with values. This is the big one. Values might determine what political affiliation–if any–you gravitate towards. But when we talk “values,” we usually aren’t talking “I’m a Republican!” or “I’m a Democrat!” Or at least we shouldn’t be.

I am a firm believer that one can enjoy art despite its creator’s politics. Don’t like Nazis? No one does! But just because Richard Wagner was Hitler’s favorite doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy The Nibelungenlied.

What’s that, you say? You’re not a Che-worshipping, Lenin-loving murderous Marxist? Well guess what: You can still listen to–and enjoy!–Rage Against the Machine (though those dudes will still hate you).

You get the idea.

But far more interesting is the “power lifts as values” issue. Let’s explore this a bit further. Continue reading “Must We Politics?”

Axiometry Part III “Don’t Think About What You Could Have Done Differently.”

“Don’t think about what you could have done differently.”

“Don’t beat yourself up.”

“Let the past go.”

Sayings we’ve all heard before. But are they valuable bits of wisdom, or valid, empty words?

Thats right! It’s time for more axiometry, my made-up word for examining common aphorisms and figuring out if they really make any sense:

Axiom: “A rule or principle that many people accept as true.”

metry: “Art, process, or science of measuring.”

There are many variants of this particular axiom, but they all focus on the same thing: regret.

Ah, regret. A favorite topic of mine. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you should know how I feel about regret:

Carry around your past regrets, not as an anchor, but as a guide.

So you maybe you think you already know where I come down on this particular axiom.

But as with everything , we shall see. Continue reading “Axiometry Part III “Don’t Think About What You Could Have Done Differently.””