Weekly Review, 2021-02-07


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The Farmer's Secret - and [[Neil Gaiman]]'s

Have you ever noticed that the best interviewers never directly ask questions like "Where do you get your ideas?" or "What's your secret?" That's because they already know the answer, which is that people don't know.

In the latest edition of the Quick Brown Fox, [[Salman Ansari]] wrote a great little fable - [[The Farmer's Secret]]. He describes the years long quest of a young man to discover the secrets of an old, successful farmer, only to discover the farmer didn't have any secrets to begin with. The farmer simply worked hard and deeply cared for his craft.

In [[Friday Finds]] this week, [[David Perrell]] sent an awesome video of [[Neil Gaiman]] interviews. In the first one, someone asks where he gets his ideas. Like the farmer, Neil gives the man a disappointing reply, which is that writers "don't really know and are terrified the ideas will go away" (1:00). Later, he ends by joking "I don't know, you make them up, out of your head" (4:25). But Neil did have much more wisdom in his answer than that. Between his jokes, he says "writers tend to train themselves to notice when they have an idea. It's not that they have any more ideas or get inspired more than anyone else, we just notice when it happens a little bit more" (2:10). This is the same message as the farmer, who tells the young man "I’m afraid I have no secrets to share. Every day, I tend to the crops and feed the animals. I nurture the farm, and in turn, it nurtures me.”

Salman and Neil teach us the same lesson. There is no recipe. The only secret is that there are none. The best are those who show up consistently and pay more attention than everyone else.

[[Urbit]] Exploration

Urbit is an interesting project hoping to push the development of distributed web technologies.

It takes effort for the uninitiated to cobble together what exactly Urbit is trying to accomplish, but I've come close. The best intro I could find is this twitter thread by [[pcmonk]], where the overarching goal is clearly stated:

  • "What Urbit is: An attempt to make personal servers viable for consumers, so that the internet can go back to being between me and you, not between me and some company's server."

Urbit has identified the cold start problem of the [[Dweb]]: [[Peer 2 Peer]] apps are hard to build because no one has personal servers, and no one has personal servers because maintaining one is a pain in the ass. They want to fix this by making personal server management so easy anyone can do it. To do this, they decided to scrap everything. To Urbit, Unix is hopeless. So they built an entirely new [[Overlay OS]], that runs as a Unix subprocess, so users will never have to deal with Unix.

Their plan is to make Urbit so easy to use that everyday consumers can manage personal servers. If everyday consumers run personal servers, then [[Peer 2 Peer]] apps will become more feasible and popular. Then, the distributed web will really take off.

I downloaded Urbit this week and booted a comet, which is a temporary identity in Urbit's world. I imagine it feels like how the early web felt. For now, there are just different message boards and groups having discussions, sharing Urbit art, and discussing random topics. It's not all that useful yet, but it's pretty cool.

Urbit's assumptions are reasonable to me, and I think their bold mission is valuable, but the cold start of the Dweb does is a huge issue. For anyone to use these new technologies, they need to have an appreciation for the backend technology, and the motivation to disrupt current habits on centralized platforms where all their friends already are. Distributed technologies will need to offer clear, front-facing user advantages to the average consumer to break suction from centralized services.

I found two of the best links on the internet this week, best consumed in tandem: Marriage Counseling with Capitalism Itself and Defining Paradigms.

First, just check out the illustrations in Marriage Counseling. They are sick. Then, read the the article he has tucked in between the illustrations. It's an entertaining and informative intro to [[Capitalism]], [[Post-Capitalism]], and how we can handle the tension building between them.

[[Post-Capitalism]] is defined by [[Bentoism]], [[Abundance Mindset]], [[Coherent Pluralism]] and [[Networkism]]. For now, to learn more about these, you'll need to read the article. I'll let you know when I update those pages with my personal notes on those topics in the future.

[[MTB training]] Update

I came across this great article on ways to improve your squat, specifically the [[overhead deep squat]], which I can't do.

One big fitness goal I have this year is to perform a set of 10 [[pistol squat]]s on each leg. I currently can't do 1 without assistance, so I have a lot of room for improvement.

The article covers exercises for parts of the body that typically constrain the ability to perform an [[overhead deep squat]]: ankles, knees, hips, and back. My ankles, in particular, limit my [[overhead deep squat]] and [[pistol squat]].

In the ankle fix video, Coach Dee says "the old addage of don't let your knees go over your toes is gone! It's part of the human function. I made that mistake.. but that's not how the body work. As long as your heel is down, you can do that." I'm adding these ankle exercises into my daily routines.

Final Thoughts

I'm very happy I came across the Buttondown email service this past week. It's very similar to substack, but supports markdown formatting. That was the only thing holding be back from substack, so this was a perfect fit. Don't forget you can subscribe here!

See you next week!

My Linked Notes

One last thing

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