The Path to College

When you finish high school, you are faced with a choice. You have been walking on a well-paved track for 12 years–it felt safe and certain.

As you walk towards the end you see a fork in the road. One direction is clear and well paved. It is the path to college where all your friends are headed. There are street-lights, people having fun, and the appearance of security.

The other direction looks dark and dangerous. You can see the start of a trail heading into a forest, but you can’t see very far down the path. This is the path to adulthood.

We pretend that the path to college will make the path to adulthood less scary. We imagine that the well-paved path to college makes a smooth transition into the adulthood expressway. But the path to college is a loop that leads right back to this moment. It offers the illusion of security at the expense of progress.

You will return to this moment again 4 years older and significantly poorer. That well-paved track will now be to grad school and the path to adulthood will look no clearer.

You will never escape until you accept your fear and step out on the uncertain path to adulthood.

———-

Feature Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

The Utility of Learning

Most people approach decisions about education with a focus on utility.

You hear this a lot when people talk about language learning. “Spanish is a good language to learn because you can use it in so many countries.” This is true, but approaching learning solely focused on the practical end uses makes it easy to overlook the satisfaction and fulfillment inherent in learning.

As humans, one of our most fundamental sources of happiness is seeing ourselves grow. Making progress towards goals and improving our skills is immensely satisfying, no matter if it’s learning a language, how to solve a Rubix Cube, or how to program in Javascript.

We are hard-wired to enjoy the act of learning.

Given the almost endless options you have to invest your time in, it makes sense to think critically about the long-term value of the things you are learning. But in thinking about that value, don’t overlook the simple pleasure and satisfaction that comes from learning in the first place.

The New Rules for Retirement

Technological progress is making the conventional life plan more and more pointless.

Sacrificing now to accumulate wealth for the future does not match up with exponential improvements in technology that make everyone wealthier and healthier.

Instead, the new rule is to create a life now that you never want to retire from.

The new rules optimize for meaning. The old rules were about optimizing for survival.

Saving for retirement is a good plan to ensure your safety and security in the future. But as technology continues to rapidly progress, your future needs are more and more accounted for.

Instead of risking survival in the future for meaning now, you can maximize for meaning in the present so that when you are fifty or sixty you know what you are about, you know what your purpose is, and you don’t face retirement, boredom, and a crisis of meaning before dying.

Leadership and Management

I’ve always felt perplexed by people who want to create careers in “leadership” or “management.”

I’ve never wanted to be a leader or a manager. I know that to achieve some of my goals I will have to lead others, and it is not something I’m afraid of, but it is very clearly a means to an end, not an end in itself.

But there is a whole segment of people who are desperate to become leaders. They go to leadership development seminars, and they apply for management training jobs, even though they have no personal goals other than to be in control of others.

More than just being weird, I think there is a disturbing and dark side to “I want to be a leader” or “I think I thrive in management.”

A good leader is one who wants to achieve their goals and sees you as a valuable contributor to achieving that outcome.

A leader who takes pleasure in leading regardless of the end outcome is one you should avoid.  They aren’t seeking fulfillment by achieving a valuable goal; they are seeking power by exercising control over their employees, students, or peers. They are like a human cattle herder, waiting to lead you to spiritual slaughter.

Brute Force

It is becoming more and more popular to deride people who work a lot. When you tell people the hours that you work it’s not uncommon to hear back “You know, people are actually more productive with 30 hour work weeks than sixty hours.”

There is something to the idea; when you work long hours you often lose out on per hour productivity. Becuase you are working with less energy, things take longer. But the desire to work short efficient hours throws a lot of people off.

Most of the time, before you can get down to working short and productive days, you need to get comfortable working long hard hours. To reach a point of efficient productivity, you need to get comfortable brute forcing your work with long hours.

The Sovereign Individual | Initial Thoughts and Quotes

This week, I started reading The Sovereign Individual by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. I’m not far in, but already there have been a number of great quotes that stuck out to me.

The book echoes many thoughts I’ve had a different time about the future of government, education, finance, and society all in one place. When you encounter a book on the cutting edge of technological and societal change, it is mind-blowing to find out that it was published twenty years ago in 1997.

I’ve still got lots to read, but here are my favorite quotes so far:

“Whenever technological change has divorced the old forms from the new moving forces of the economy, moral standards shift, and people begin to treat those in command of the old institutions with growing disdain. This widespread revulsion often comes into evidence well before people develop a new coherent ideology of change.”

On the coming Information Age: “The coming transformation is both good news and bad. The good news is that the Information Revolution will liberate individuals as never before. For the first time, those who can educate and motivate themselves will be almost entirely free to invent their own work and realize the full benefits of their own productivity. Genius will be unleashed, freed from both the oppression of government and the drags of racial and ethnic prejudice. In the information society, no one who is truly able will be detained by the ill-formed opinions of others. It will not matter what most of the people on earth might think of your race, your looks, your age, your sexual proclivities, or the way you wear your hair. In the cybereconomy, they will never see you. The ugly, the fat, the old, the disabled will vie with the young and beautiful on equal terms in utterly color-blind anonymity on the new frontiers of cyberspace.”

“The process by which the nation-state grew over the past five centuries will be put into reverse by the new logic of the information age. Local centers of power will reassert themselves as the state devolves into fragmented overlapping sovereignties.”

On internet money: “When this greatest tax haven of them all is fully open for business, all funds will essentially be offshore funds at the discretion of their owner. This will have cascading consequences. The state has grown used to treating its taxpayers as a farmer treats his cows, keeping them in a field to be milked. Soon, the cows will have wings.

“With the speed of change outracing the moral and economic capacity of many in living generations to adapt, you can expect to see a fierce and indignant resistance to the Information Revolution, notwithstanding its great promise to liberate the future.”

“Market forces, not political majorities, will compel societies to reconfigure themselves in ways that public opinion will neither comprehend nor welcome.”

On what drives change in government: “the most important causes of change are not to be found in political manifestos or in the pronouncements of dead economists, but in the hidden factors that alter the boundaries where power is exercised. Often, subtle changes in climate, topography, microbes, and technology alter the logic of violence. Then transform the way people organize their livelihoods and defend themselves.”
&
In our view, the key to understanding how societies evolve is to understand factors that determine the costs and rewards of employing violence.

The Cold Storage Problem with Lighting Network

You can’t do cold storage on the Lightning network. All the $$ that you put into a payment channel will be similar to storing your money in hot wallet and will be vulnerable to theft.

Because of the higher risk of theft, it won’t be smart to keep a large amount of money in a payment channel. But, because of high fees on-chain, the only way to make the opening and closing fees economical is to open a channel with a large dollar amount.

Right now fees are $5 for a normal transaction, which is significantly down from a month ago. At $5/txn ($10 total to open and close) you need to put $1000 onto a payment channel to have it be 1% transaction fees (ignoring the fees that you pay in the LN).

To be compete with BCH transaction fees, you would need to be adding a lot more in USD value to each channel. But having that much money sitting in an LN channel is dangerous. It opens you up to theft just like having a lot of money in a wallet on your phone opens you up to theft.

There are lots of other potential issues with the Lightning Network, but the fact that you will need to store large sums in a less secure environment to make fees comparable to traditional (non-crypto) payments.

Self-Transformation and Greatness (Whiplash)

Last night Amanda and I watched Whiplash. It is the story of an ambitious young jazz drummer struggling to become great at his craft.

***Spoilers***

It reminds me a lot of Black Swan, and there is a great video from Lessons From Screenplay comparing the two.

His story covers a semesters time at a prestigious and demanding music school. The conductor of the studio band is a tyrant, who comes from the hard ass school of developing talent.

Andrew, the main character, is obsessed with drumming, and he is pushed to the limits of his mental and physical health to reach his potential as a drummer and his obsession almost destroys him. He is in a serious car accident and then attacks his teacher and is kicked out of school.

That break allows him to get some mental space and take his foot off the gas before completely descending into madness. He has space to connect with his original passion outside of the obsession and then ends up in a show delivering the best performance of his life.

The movie is a reminder about the amount of dedication and effort required to succeed at anything. To be truly great, you need to sacrifice many other things. Not necessarily your health, safety, and relationships–you need to maintain those to succeed in the long-term. But to reach your potential in any craft, you need to give into personal transformation and truly let your craft become part of you. This is not an easy thing to do.

Accepting self-transformation is scary, so most people never do it. They never fully give themselves up to their craft and remain stuck as an old version of themselves. They end up caught between a vision of the future they want to achieve and a version of themselves from the past that they refuse to let go of.

Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work

At the 1:13:00 mark of this interview Craig Wright talks about the problem of oligopoly with proof of stake.

From Wikipedia:

Proof-of-stake (PoS) is a type of algorithm by which a cryptocurrency blockchain network aims to achieve distributed consensus. In PoS-based cryptocurrencies the creator of the next block is chosen via various combinations of random selection and wealth or age (i.e. the stake). In contrast, the algorithm of proof-of-work (PoW) based cryptocurrencies (such as bitcoin) uses computationally intensive puzzles in order to validate transactions and create new blocks (i.e. mining).

Over the past year, the narrative that PoS is a more efficient way to secure a blockchain because it means you avoid the energy costs of mining that you have in proof of work.

Proof of stake systems incentive users to hold their coin and have those nodes validate transactions (for Dash masternodes you must have 1000 Dash and will return 7.5% annually.)

Many people view proof of stake as a better option, but in this interview, Craig Wright focuses in on a problem with PoS that I haven’t heard discussed before–centralization. Over time, a small group of users ends up controlling more and more of the coin over time and more and more of the voting power because it is not a competitive system.

With proof of stake, there is no ongoing cost, no competition, no reinvestment. You simply stash your coins and earn a reward for doing so.

At any given time there can be large groups of miners in a proof of work system, but the competitive nature of proof of work means that the large established players are unseated by innovative upstarts. Like in the market, the Kodak’s and Xerox’s of the mining work are replaced by Facebook, Google, or Apple. It is competitive and requires continual reinvestment.

There are capital costs to become a miner in a proof of work system, but it is a much fairer system in the long-term because those that are innovating and doing the most work to secure the system have the voting power. The electricity costs are an important investment in the security of the network.

With proof of stake, it is simply the early adopters with the largest amount of coin that will continually hold the power and no longer have to invest capital to maintain their stake. They can simply sit around and accumulate more.

Creating and Networking

Today I had the opportunity to interview someone for our podcast and to be interviewed on another podcast.

Earlier in the week, Amanda and I went out for dinner with to people who listen to our show.

Last weekend we went and visited friends who found us through our podcast.

When we were started a podcast I was excited by the idea of meeting well known people who we might be able to interview. And we have been able to do some cool interviews like that, but a massive amount of valuable connections have come from people listening to the content we have created.

That is something I overlooked when I started. It doesn’t happen over night, but when you are consistently creating content about your interests and putting it out into the world you will attract people who share those interests.

Lots of people want to meet people who share they same interests, so they go to meet ups and networking events and try really hard to make connections. Usually they end up frustrated. Instead of that approach you can simply focus on learning and creating around things you care about and let the networking take care of itself.