The Mental Pivot Newsletter: No.15
In this issue: A thoughtful theme, my year-end review, the non-fiction book club I wish I had, and a muster of new links.
|Dec 18, 2020||2|
Welcome to all the new subscribers and hello again to everyone else. I’m happy to report that I’ve finally decided on my annual theme for 2021.
The state of being absorbed in thought.
1.1. Careful consideration or attention.
Consideration for the needs of other people.
Source: Lexico/Oxford Languages
2021 will be my “year of thoughtfulness” (new subscribers can find an earlier discussion of annual themes in Newsletter 13).
I’m keen on the dual definitions of the idea, one inward-facing and the other outward-facing. Regarding the former, I plan on scheduling time for daily introspection and reflection. I also want to inject more thoughtfulness into my writing and be more mindful about my default states (for instance, not habitually pulling out my smartphone when I have time to kill). As for outward-facing thoughtfulness, I aim to improve my attention, patience, and kindness in dealing with others—particularly my family, friends, and (especially) my children. Naturally, more specifics are needed to translate this theme into a genuine practice. I’ll cover those in my blog when I post my “Personal Theme, Habits and Objectives for 2021” article in January.
For those who are interested in annual themes, The Cortex Podcast (which introduced me to the idea), posted a new episode in which the hosts discuss their 2021 yearly themes.
Now onto the updates...
This Week’s Pick
Wiser than Yesterday is a podcast series in which hosts Sam Harris and Nicolas Vereecke discuss a single book each episode (usually non-fiction). It’s the book club I wish I had.
I periodically listen to non-fiction book podcasts (Bookworm and The Book Review in particular), but most don’t cover books of interest, are rambling and long-winded, or simply aren’t worth the time due to the poor signal-to-noise ratio. Wiser than Yesterday delivers on all three areas: their book recommendations are varied and match my interests, they (mostly) keep episodes under 30 minutes, and they provide listeners with a good understanding of the main ideas of the book.
Here’s a sampling of authors they’ve discussed: Robert Wright, Nassim Taleb, Thomas Sowell, Ibram X. Kendi, Rebecca Solnit, Plato, and Saint Augustine.
Wiser than Yesterday is a worthy addition to your podcast subscriptions. Highly recommended.
What’s New on the Blog:
A look back at what worked and what didn’t, reflections on my 2020 theme (momentum), a list of the 54 books I read this past year (and which were my favorites), and thoughts on my favorite new apps.
If you enjoy these types of posts, here are other bloggers’ year-end reflections for 2020: Anne-Laure Le Cunff, Bruno Raljic, Eugene Yan, Khoa Pham, Nick Ang, Tiago Forte, Tom Whitewell, and The Cortex Podcast.
This is my weekly roundup of interesting links and internet finds. You can read the complete post on the blog, but here are the highlights:
The AI Chatbot Seducing China’s Lonely Men: Meet Xiaoice, an AI chatbot developed by Microsoft that is redefining romance and relationships in modern China.
How to Compliment: “What topics get compliments, how do people react, what are exotic ways of praising?”
To Listen Well, Get Curious: Thoughts on reflective listening “reality has a surprising amount of detail, and those details can matter a lot to figuring out what the root problem or best solution is.”
Larry David and the Game Theory of Anonymous Donations: A look at the dynamics of status seeking and reciprocity in a “signal-burying game.”
Monetizing the Final Frontier: Once the province of governments, the privatization of space travel is accelerating.
The Perils of Persuasion in the Big Tech Age: A call for greater regulation in light of the asymmetrical balance of power between common citizens and media/technology platforms.
Things I’ve Learned from a Decade of Podcasts: Ryan Holiday recounts interesting lessons from his guests on his long-running program, The Daily Stoic.
Podcast: How I Built This—Kodiak Cakes: Joel Clark tells the fascinating story behind the origins and rocky road to success behind one of the leading consumer pancake mixes. This series is inspiring for entrepreneurs, and the food-product episodes tend to be my favorite.
Odds & Ends:
A Book Like Foo! is a book discovery tool. Enter multiple books you’ve enjoyed and the site will offer reading recommendations. The website recently released a tool called Break the Bubble! which suggests books that you are unlikely to read, but are likely to enjoy. Per the site: “The query can be summarised as: which highly rated books are least read (and enjoyed) by people who've also read the books I have?”
Last week I mentioned Longreads’ annual Best of 2020 list (link). This week, I’ll point you to Longform’s Best of 2020 list (I assure you they are different sites, despite the similar names). It’s an outstanding list of long-form content.
The New York Times’ “2020: The Year in Pictures” is a compelling photo-diary of a tumultuous year.
The Visual Capitalist offers a different kind of retrospective in their “The Year in Review: 2020 in 20 Visualizations.” The visualizations cover a wide range of topics: the Australian bush fires, BLM protests, the disbursement of CARES Act funds in the USA, and more.
David Li’s Blob Opera is a machine learning experiment in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture. Users can manipulate individual “singers” in real-time in their web browser (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) to make music. The accompanying singers, owing to the AI algorithm, will maintain harmony with you. It’s an amazingly fun musical toy. If you want to check out more of David Li’s incredible creations, visit his homepage.
Note: Due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I’ll be publishing the newsletter on Thursday for the next two weeks. Meanwhile, the blog is taking a break for the remainder of the year and will resume at the start of 2021.
Thank you for subscribing to the Mental Pivot Newsletter. If you enjoy the newsletter, be sure to share it with your friends and spread the word.
I want to be able to deliver a top-notch newsletter to all of you. To that end, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s working, what doesn’t, and things you’d like to see more of. You can reach me by replying directly to this email or by adding a comment below.
If this newsletter was forwarded to you, visit this link to subscribe.
Alternatively, you can also read the full archive of posts, book notes and link roundups on my blog: https://mentalpivot.com.