Seeking Tribe #10: Birthday in Quarantine

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I turned 26 years old yesterday.

Usually having a November 21st birthday is quite nice because I’ve always been able to see family and friends, due to its proximity to Thanksgiving.

This year, I decided to just isolate and lay low because of the recent spike in hospitalizations in Rochester (and throughout many states in the US).

I will celebrate with a few friends once Thanksgiving is over but my response to everyone asking me, “What are you doing to celebrate?” was “Not much.”

Thank you all for the warm birthday wishes! They really mean a lot.

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • “In the United States in February 2020, pre-pandemic, 8% of the workforce worked remotely. When the pandemic hit, that rose to 35% in May and bounced back to 24% in August. In Canada, in 2018 ~13% worked remotely, that grew to nearly 40% of the workforce working remotely in March 2020 [3,4]. In Europe, pre-pandemic, 5.4% of the workforce worked remotely, which rose to nearly 40% a result of the pandemic. We can assume there’s growth in remote work in regions outside US/EU too.

    In just a few months the amount of people working remotely ballooned to ~125 million people in North America (US, Canada) and Europe, or over 5 times the amount before the pandemic” [from: The greatest human migration in history will happen in the next decade (part 1) by Peter Levels]

  • “Billions of savers worldwide must therefore reckon with inflationary currencies, or monetary repression — a state of affairs where they don’t have the freedom to move their assets around. This latter phenomenon is often imposed by central banks that fear currency flight and accompanying depreciation…

    The Lira isn’t the only sovereign currency in which Bitcoin is already trading well beyond its prior highs. Other currencies where Bitcoin has already hit new highs since 2017 include the Argentine peso, the Russian ruble, the Venezuelan bolivar, the Brazilian real, the Colombian peso, the Lebanese pound, the Sudanese pound, and several others. Those countries alone account for 523 million people” from Nine Bitcoin Charts Already at All-Time Highs by Nic Carter

    Bitcoin’s valuation in USD has risen by over $5,000 USD since the last time I shared an article from Nic Carter. It is now approaching a new all-time-high in USD. This bull-run looks distinctly different than the previous run-up in 2017.*

    [*Nothing in this newsletter is ever investment advice. I just think this is an interesting topic – although I wish I had followed the enthusiasm of my friends who were into this in 2014 :’)]

I wanted to keep this week’s newsletter short. I’m sure there’s a lot on everyone’s minds as we prepare ourselves for what has been branded a ‘dark winter’.

I plan on:

Please reach out if you feel isolated and need some social interaction! We will get through this together, you’re not alone.

This post was initially sent on November 22nd, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #9: Getting Back After It

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As a few of you may have noticed, I didn’t send an issue of Seeking Tribe last week. After 2 months of delivering every week, I faltered and let a week go by.

The reality is that this happens to all of us in various pursuits.

Many times in my life I’ve had a killer gym routine that I couldn’t imagine leaving (including the beginning of 2020) and now I’m 9 months without entering a squat rack— although I’ve been staying active with the few weights I have.

It’s easy to view the decision to not continue, the moment that breaks your streak, as a big failure and beat yourself up.

But you don’t have to! Instead, it can be an opportunity to ask yourself “Do I want to keep doing this?” and reaffirm your commitment.

Whatever streak you loved and lost, I hope that you’ll take this as a prompt to pick it back up and start wherever you can.

I guarantee that when you look back a couple months from now, you’ll feel more powerful knowing that not only can you keep a good habit but you can choose to pick it back up after circumstances get in your way.

I believe in you.

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • “The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” says Alan Davis, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Because most other depression treatments take weeks or months to work and may have undesirable effects, this could be a game changer if these findings hold up in future ‘gold-standard’ placebo-controlled clinical trials.” The published findings cover only a four-week follow-up in 24 participants, all of whom underwent two five-hour psilocybin sessions under the direction of the researchers, from Psychedelic Treatment with Psilocybin Relieves Major Depression, Study Shows

    This study was partially funded by Tim Ferriss. A key take away from the election results was that drugs are winning the war on drugs. I hope that our policies shift more towards risk-management and that our gov’t will reschedule controlled substances at the Federal level to permit much more research.

    How could anyone oppose that in a world where we’re actively emphasizing the importance of scientific research for our public health?

  • My friend, Ethan Bidna, shared this excellent link from 538 titled, ‘How Good Are FiveThirtyEights Forecasts?‘ where they assess their own record.

    Just to emphasize, as my last email was certainly polarizing (people messaged me to say thanks! and other people unsubscribed), I think that the 538 project is entertaining and has value!

    The bigger issue seems to be that there are issues with [a significant amount of] the polling that their model uses. Garbage in, garbage out. I’m sure there will be great retrospectives to come once every vote has been [re]counted. I also do think that my last email aged pretty well…but it’s easy to imagine the alternate world where I would have to come here and apologize for being wrong. I promise you that I’ll do just that!

  • Are you pursuing your own independent intellectual or creative projects? Looking for a community of people who are also on their grind? 

    If so, check out this great personal case study by Jason Simpkin assessing his first year as a member of Indie Thinkers, a private community for ‘Indie Thinkers’. I feel like I have to step up my game after seeing how much Jason has created over the last year.

    I am a member of this community. Feel free to DM if you’re interested in learning more!

Just Fun:

  • I have been actively avoiding video games for the last 6 months, with the exception of Duolingo (182 day streak!). However, on Monday, I finally broke down and permitted myself to buy and play Hades.

    You play as Zagreus and your goal is to escape from hell. Your Dad is Hades and he won’t let you leave. I still haven’t escaped (on hell mode) but I’ve come very close. The game is really fun and has high replay value because no ‘run’ is the same.

A Direct Ask:

I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week! As always, please feel free to reply to this email. I appreciate every email 🙂

This post was initially sent on November 15th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #8: We’re All Going To Make It

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloweekend. It feels strange that we used to have, more or less, one set day to wear a mask…and now we all wear them every day (is this a coronavirus joke or…?)

While the spoozy szn has past, I know the real scary day on your calendar, for many of you, is Election Day. Although, it does seems unlikely that we’ll have a clear winner on Tuesday (I’d guess ~ 20% probability that we have a  definite winner on Tuesday night – ie. some sort of wave scenario, or otherwise surprising trend; particularly after reading reports that some PA counties will not count votes until the following dayThis could change).

Before you go to check 538 again, I’d like to encourage you to not. One of the common critiques is that 538 “got it wrong in 2016”, which reflects a common misunderstanding of probability. No candidate is given a 0% probability of winning, therefore, in reality, a certain outcome cannot be used to refute the validity of their models.

However, this rebuttal can be easily followed-up with another critique. This type of modeling can be better or worse, more or less useful, but it’s ultimately unfalsifiable. Were the odds 99-1? or were they 55-45? We only get to live in N=1 reality, so we’re not able to see in how many simulations of the world Candidate A or Candidate B wins.

I have no idea what the results of the election will be. Personally, I am looking forward to exiting from this (two-and-a-half-year?) electoral cycle. Politics, and more importantly, governance are important. But I am hopeful that soon we’ll all have more energy and attention to focus where we can can make the greatest direct, positive contributions.

Now, like all of 2020, is a wonderful time for each of us to practice having a healthy, functional belief about our ability to influence the world. There are tangible actions you can still take to influence the [on-going] election at the margin, please have at it and leave it all on the field. Just know that no matter how many times we refresh the latest polls page, we will not have any greater predictive power about what electoral results the future will bring us.

The most doomer scenarios are all unlikely, ie. Civil War, large-scale violence, etc. I would bet against a significant breakdown in our society’s functioning (although I think it’s plausible that we’ll see localized issues and violence similar, and perhaps a bit greater, to what has already occurred in 2020). While the only thing that most of our elected officials can agree on is “This is the most important election of our lifetime,” I think more voters (and non-voters) would agree with the statement “The United States is worth more than the results of a single election.”

People are going to continue to work, go shopping at the grocery store, educate their children, and love their neighbors. Most people have spent much less time thinking about any of this than most of you who are still reading this. Please do not let fear or despair come to dominate your life. Elections have consequences and life goes on. Both are true!

We’re all going to make it.

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • The Centralized Internet Is Inevitable by Samo Burja

    I still believe that the internet has and will continue to “change facts on the ground” and facilitate the creation of products that enable [certain] 3rd-parties to be disintermediated, ie. Bitcoin or 3D Printing

    Samo likely wouldn’t dispute any of that but still provides a powerful counter-narrative that’s worth considering

  • There are millions of highly skilled developers in the world. Only a small fraction work at large technology companies, and only a small fraction of those work on new product development. Many of the most important software projects in history were created by startups or by communities of independent developers.” from Why Decentralization Matters by Chris Dixon

    Samo referenced Chris’ piece so I figured I’d feature it to present the kind of theory that he’s challenging

  • I don’t know if I will see the completion of this project, or even if it will work in the long term. But that doesn’t bother me. I’m focused on placing the next brick.“, from Bitcoin at 12 by Nic Carter

    Bitcoin hit a valuation of $14,000/BTC as it turned 12 years old. This piece from Nic resonated with my own thesis on Bitcoin, in that, I do not think it’s inevitable, or perhaps even likely to succeed in its vision.

    That doesn’t mean it won’t change our world, or continue to capture the minds and talents of many of the most competent technologists. Or the dollars of institutional and retail investors… [Not investment advice].

I should have much more original content in the upcoming newsletters! My plan was to press publish on quite a few pieces that I’ve been working on. However, I ended up having quite a few time-sensitive work opportunities pop-up throughout the past week. Please wish me luck on these interviews :))

As always, please feel free to reply and leave any feedback, questions, or share something random with me to spark a conversation. I wish you all nothing but the best this week!

This post was initially sent on November 1st, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #7: Back in the Coffee Shop

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In Rochester, we’ve been extremely fortunate that our rate of coronavirus transmission has been low knock on wood. One of my favorite coffee shops opened back up last week. It was wild to realize that I hadn’t been there for almost a year.

Where did 2020 go? Sometimes it feels like it will never end and other times I can’t believe it’s already the end of October.

This past week I spent more time writing than I have in the entire rest of this month!

Do you want to know my trick? The trick that will help you get over your writer’s block and help you get back on your grind?

I left all of my technology at home. No phone. No laptop. I brought a bunch of books that I could read but I started my session by opening up a journal. I took a sip of coffee, ate a bite of a tasty cherry danish and put my pen to paper. Once I got started, I quickly got in a groove and ended up writing for over three hours. It felt great to get these ideas out of my mind. The positive feedback was much better than from any social media notification.

It’s simple and it works. The biggest challenge is overcoming any fears or anxieties you have about disconnecting and taking the leap to isolate from your devices. It’s not love that keeps you checking your phone again and again and again. At its root, there is a fear or a neediness. This understanding won’t break your addiction — I’m probably more of a phone junkie than you are — but it’s part of the solution.

Your life might not permit you to unplug for so long during the day. You might need to wake up early or stay up late to get this kind of freedom from those who need you.

I hope some of you will claim a little time to yourself and unplug, even for thirty minutes, and write by hand. If you do, let me know how it goes!

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • Censorship power, like the tech giants who now wield it, is an instrument of status quo preservation. The promise of the internet from the start was that it would be a tool of liberation, of egalitarianism, by permitting those without money and power to compete on fair terms in the information war with the most powerful governments and corporations.” from Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor by Glenn Greenwald

    This piece does a great job of explaining, in detail, the threat created by the policies of overt censorship at Twitter and Facebook.

    You can despise the New York Post and the article in reference but do you believe that these corporations should be super-editors-in-chief of every newspaper? And will you then still argue that you support democracy and journalism? (Thanks to Quinn Banford for the recommendation)

A Few Cool Things:

  • One of my best friends, Luke Metzler, is a pop-star and just released the music video for his hit new song “Babydoll“. I would appreciate it a lot if you would listen, like, and subscribe to show my friend some love.
  • In a few earlier newsletters, I included images of quotes from books that I’ve been reading. I was able to create those easily by using this wonderful service Readwise.io. If you use a Kindle and want to review and work with your highlights, this product is an absolute game changer. Use this link and we’ll both get a free month!

    Great for reviewing quotes, exporting notes to Notion or Roam Research, and even highlighting physical books and turning them into digital notes.

New from Me:

  • The Virtue of Pessimism 

    “Pessimism is always hugging you, protecting you from unnecessary risks.”- Muhammad Miqdad

This post was initially sent on October 25th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #6: Dare to be Grateful

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This last week was a low energy one.

In Rochester, the leaves are changing colors and falling from the trees. The sun is setting earlier and the nights are growing colder. Growing up, it was common that it would snow on Halloween! Winter might not be here yet, but it’s right around the corner.

I hope you can all create the space to enjoy these last moments of fall. Go for a long walk in a park. Meet up with an acquaintance for a distanced-outdoor drink at a local bar (ayyy). Sit on your front porch and enjoy the sun on a chilly fall morning (with a hot cup of coffee).

The Best of my Recent Reads:

I received a few messages from readers of Seeking Tribe last week asking if I could make a few connections. These may be out there but I figured I’d ask! Please feel free to reach out if you have an ask, or would like to be connected with either of these friends.

  • Are you of you particularly interested in political philosophy? Are you looking for a roommate by any chance?
     
  • Do any of you know anyone looking for interns at the intersections of data science and sustainability? My friend Claude is looking for leads, you can see his sustainability blog here.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful week and try to find enjoyment wherever you can. Looking back at 2019, it’s now easy to see that there is a lot that we take for granted.

Dare to be grateful!

This post was initially sent on October 18th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #5: Friendship on a Boaring Friday Afternoon

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I hope that you’ve had an excellent week and you’re excited to enjoy whatever your weekend has in store.

Today I’m feeling grateful for the opportunities presented by the social internet. While these tools are certainly being used to exacerbate fear, outrage, and polarization, they also enable people from all over the world to develop friendships, organizations, and feelings of belonging.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve created connections between various friends of mine and I’ve been shocked by the end results. One of them ended up getting a job offer, another ended up finding a technical mentor in their rapidly developing field (AR), and everyone involved was glad to have connected.

I have a strong feeling that we can find better ways to use the internet to have a positive impact in others’ lives. Creating connections between our friends who’d love to meet, but don’t know it, seems like a low-risk, high-reward place to start. None of the social platforms do a powerful, systematic job at facilitating these types of connections.

If you have any thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear them. 

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • Josh Waitzkin was a chess child prodigy, becoming an International Master at age 16. He then went on to win the 2004 world champion title in, a completely different field, Taiji Push Hands. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is serious about pursuing mastery in their field(s).

  • “There are as many as 9 million feral swine across the U.S., their populations having expanded from about 17 states to at least 39 over the last three decades.” from The Clock Is Ticking on America’s ‘Feral Swine Bomb’ by Diane Peters and Undark in The Atlantic.

    This story is a great example of a complex problem. Ultimately, people will need to cull the swine to prevent them from causing exceptional damage to the ecosystems they invade. However, legalizing the hunting of these boar is believed to have exacerbated their spread and population by pushing them into new territories.

  • [LONG]: What’s Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers by Alvaro De MenardThis is a thought-provoking piece on what many have been calling the ‘replication crisis’ in social science. If you’re actively reading and citing literature in the social sciences, you should probably at least skim it (that’s what I did)!


Question for you all:

What types of connections are you looking for? I’d love to create more valuable, mutual relationships between my friends. 

This post was initially sent on October 9th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #4: Post-Truth Green Nuclear Deal ? Hell Yeah or No

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Friendship and community are key driving forces in my life.

SigEp, Student Government, iZone, Lead The Future, even my travels abroad were all worthwhile, first and foremost, because of the people that they connected me with.

As we look forward into a future with high uncertainty, we can either be paralyzed, complacent, or proactive. Summer is coming to an end and stories of a Coronavirus ‘second wave’ are starting to fight for our attention. I want to be prepared to have a fun, healthy social life, even if there’s a second intensive quarantine.

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • Derek Sivers is one of my favorite indie creators. His new book Hell Yeah or No is a light, page turner full of thought-provoking ideas – I read it in two short sittings. I share his enthusiasm for providing a counter-narrative and striving to keep more possibilities alive in people’s minds.
  • Trust is vital to leadership, collaboration, and our ability to navigate our [increasingly] complex worldMike Elias’ discussion of trust in his piece ‘Epistemic Reserve Notes‘ reveals how a shift towards a ‘post-truth’ (or ‘post-trust’) society will lead to compounding issues. Keep your word. It only takes one lie to destroy all of the trust you’ve earned.
  • “Plans that rely on renewables speak to a waning sense of confidence in the national ability to overcome problems. Whereas we once dreamed of a future of plenty for all, many wonder how much will be left to go around.”

    My friend, Emmet Penney, co-wrote a provocative piece titled “We Need a Nuclear New Deal, Not a Green New Deal advocating for a national energy policy which prioritizes the development of the US’ nuclear energy production.

    I know a bunch of you are heavily informed on this topic so I’d love to hear your thoughts – agreements, disagreements, etc!

This post was initially sent on September 28th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #3: Lookin’ for All My Real Fans

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Let’s start this week on a high note!

Whatever challenges you have staring you down this week, please know that I believe in you.

Thank you to everyone who has taken a moment to reply to these first few editions. I am so glad that this project has enabled us to reconnect!

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • 14 colleges in NY likely to ‘perish’ in coronavirus pandemic, new analysis says (7/27/20). Professor Scott Galloway has long been sounding the alarm about the threats that higher education faces, from the coronavirus to increased costs and reliance on all-time-high tuition rates. The content of this story comes from his comprehensive analysis of colleges and universities throughout the US.

    Want to see where your alma mater stacks up in his analysis and by what metrics? Click here (University of Rochester is unfortunately not in the ‘Thrive’ quadrant).
  • Complex problems — for example, any question of public policy— always surprise you by their depths. Lars Schönander’s recent piece ‘The Case for Supporting Open Source Infrastructure‘ further complicated my understanding of value v. value-capture (see Inequality and Power Laws). His analysis reveals how vital open source tools are for governmental, non-profit, and private sector operations and makes the case for actively investing in their maintenance and development.
  • Is Cheyenne, Wyoming about to become the finance capital of the US? Kraken Financial was approved to become the first ‘Bitcoin Bank,’ receiving a formal bank charter that is recognized by both federal and state law. Wyoming created a regulatory environment that is conducive to gaining whatever upside may come from cryptocurrencies, while New York passed regulations to kill the Big Banks’ competition.

    [Full disclosure, I own a small amount of $BTC. If you’d want to read more about that, DM me! *Not Financial Advice*]

My top recent posts:

  • If you still don’t believe inequality matters, you haven’t been paying attention. But where does this inequality come from and is there a tension between profitable innovation, ie. the creation of consumer photography, re: Kodak, and inequality? Read more about ‘Inequality and Power Laws
  • While Kanye is freaking the media as he works to own his masters, and advocates for black equity. I figured it was a good opportunity to plug my essay ‘999 Real Fans.’ This essay is a synthesis of Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans and the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from Kanye’s self-love.

Question for you all:

What good habit do you wish you started building a month ago? Or which bad habit do you wish you stopped a month ago?

This post was initially sent on September 21st, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #2: Bison, Boars, And Books — Oh My!

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Can you feel it? It’s going to be a wonderful week.

I am so grateful for the positive initial response to this newsletter and thankful that you decided to stick around.

This past week, I had a couple friends from out of town visiting so I ended up much more focused on friendship than my personal projects.

I have decided to stay in Rochester for the next 10 months (originally I had planned to move to DC or another larger city) and focus on: building my ‘skill stack‘, identifying a great, next full-time opportunity, and prototyping  various digital events (book clubs, writing groups, author interviews…) and ‘community’ spaces. The quarantine has emphasized my personal need for a social function within a community and the importance of friendship.

If you plan to visit Rochester, please be sure to give me a heads up and if you’re local and want to connect, dm me!

The Best of my Recent Reads:

  • When most people hear the name Ben Horowitz, they either don’t know who he is or, they think of his work as the co-founder and a GP at a16z. My personal admiration for him comes from his excellent books on management and organizational culture. I am currently reading What You Do Is Who You Are, which opens with insights from Touissaint Louverture’s experience leading the Haitian Revolution and how these principles of culture are being applied by powerful organizations throughout the world. I plan on writing a book review once I’m done but cannot recommend it enough for anyone interested in the importance of culture for any movement or organization.
  • One of the greatest potential positive outcomes from the pandemic is a deeper appreciation of humanity’s impact on ecosystems. Decreased manufacturing and social activity in various parts of the globe have yielded no shortage of videos of wildlife roaming into areas where they haven’t been seen for decades, most recently these boars in BerlinThis piece by Santi Ruiz in the National Review makes a strong case for a concerted effort to Bring Back The Bison. I’m no fan of the National Review and am now wondering if its decision to run this piece is further evidence of a larger political-cultural shift underway.
  • In my limited understanding of the tenure system, it was designed to provide academic researchers with the job protections that they need to conduct their research, without excessive pressure to avoid lines of inquiry that are unfashionable, or even dissident. Is that empirically the case and is tenure sufficient? In a recent piece for the Atlantic, Academics Are Really, Really Worried About Their Freedom, the [liberal] Professor of Linguistics at Columbia University, John McWhorter makes the case that it isn’t. Are the figures and narratives he cites mostly a function of who selects and is selected into jobs as academic researchers, or does it have more to do with our current cultural moment?

    A survey of 445 academic researchers [,who are members of] Heterodox Academy found that, “…more than half the respondents consider expressing views beyond a certain consensus in an academic setting quite dangerous to their career trajectory.”

This post was initially sent on September 14th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribesubscribe here!

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Seeking Tribe #1: Return of the Newsletter

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After an unexpectedly chaotic start to 2020, I am now settled and ready to focus a significant amount of time on a few personal projects:

  • Growing and connecting my [digital] network of leaders, hackers, artists, and dreamers
  • Regularly creating blog posts, book reviews, and audio content

My intention with Seeking Tribe is to connect you all to ideas, people, perspectives, and practices that will enable us to solve the looming problems humanity, and our local communities, will face over the coming decades.

If you’re reading this blog, I think the decisions of how you spend your creative energy and time are of great significance and I’d love for you to join me on this journey.

The most thought-provoking articles I’ve read lately:

Magic Eight Ball Politics: Kamala Harris and the Success of Oligarchy by ‘Dumb Classics Guy’ An insightful analysis of the outcomes of the Democratic Primary, from the left

Hard Forking Reality (Part 1) by Justin Murphy We’ve seen the rise of QAnon, Flat Earthers, and other subcultures with distinct worldviews. Justin believes that the idea of ‘consensus reality,’ to the extent that it ever existed, is now over…

Thriverism by Sonya Mann “The straightforward answer to ‘what does it all matter!’ is that empirically, we do matter to each other. If your model indicates that this is insufficient, adjust your model. Because, look, it’s what we’ve got and here we are, mattering as hard as we can. Who you gonna believe, your eyes or your own lying mind?”

The Non-Voter by Chris Arnade Chris reminds us that the largest political affiliation in America is the non-voter. If you talk about politics every day, you need to read this!

This post was initially sent on September 8th, 2020 as part of an early prototype of my newsletter Seeking Tribe, subscribe here!

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