Comedians, Transcendentalists, and Nobel Prize Winners

This is an experiment for you and for me, so I hope you/I like it.

The idea is pretty simple. I’ll send you ~5 bullet points of things I’m enjoying or thinking about each week.  I’m giving this a trial run of 10 weeks, and if it goes well I’ll keep doing it.

By the way, thanks to everybody who sent in ideas for what you’d like to read about.  Some of your responses were… interesting.

I got people asking about flying cars. Someone wanted me to tell everybody how beautiful he is. And then there’s this gem:
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The first three (four?) points aside, this brings me to my first bullet point –

Question for this weekend:

What the heck is transcendentalism? I have a vague memory of studying it in 11th grade and an even foggier idea of what the word suggests.  Gotta do a little research.

Of course, if you’re well-read in transcendentalist philosophy please point me in the right direction.

Awesomest thing I’ve watched this week:

Talking Funny is an HBO special that Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, and Louis CK did back in 2011.  This week wasn’t the first time I’ve seen it, but I keep coming back to it because it’s (1) hilarious and (2) insightful about how to become good at something.  I love the way they deconstruct their own jokes, reducing something as complicated as comedy to its working parts, and emphasizing the importance of deliberate practice and being bad at something before you can get good at something.

As an aside, if you’re interested in getting good at something, I highly recommend Cal Newport’s thoughts on deliberate practice.

What I’m reading these days:

I’m reading (and loving) Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  This book about comic books, loss, sexuality, and World War II won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001.  An added bonus: Michael Chabon is a Pitt grad.

Music Recommendations:

Three recommendations – one for jamming, one for chilling, and one from the 80s.  Jam out to “How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy. Chill to “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” by Foo Fighters (you read that correctly, chill out to Foo Fighters).  From the 80s, “Easy Lover” by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind, and Fire (the music video is totally rad).

Quote from this week:

“Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.” ― Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.  I’m listening to the audiobook of his “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”  It’s incredible how simultaneously amazing and error-prone our brains are.

I really want this newsletter to be interactive, so if something in here made you think of something cool (link, photo, idea, memory) or if you have questions send them to me!

Also, let me know your questions and suggestions!  Do you want more or less of something? You can just reply below.