Ask James: What To Do If You Have No Idea What To Do. How To Lose Weight. How to Be Creative. And More.

[Expanded answers from my recent Q&A on Twitter]

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO?

Lewis Quartey ‏@lewisquartey: realised I have no idea what Im working towards with my life. What r you ultimately working towards & how did you figure it out?

(puzzled?)

Answer:

I want to make a comic book. When I was five years old I read a comic of “The Legion of Super Heroes” that had everything from Superboy, to the Greek god Apollo, to time travel to superheroes from other planets who were, god forbid, in love with each other (inter-alien relationships!). It was like an entire universe of possibility opened up to me. I could make a story that could be…could be…about…ANYTHING! What the…! I wanted to read it, do it, draw it, write it, eat it, shit it, talk about it.

I bought so many comic books I filled up two closets worth. Big ones small ones. Archie Digest, Shazam Annual, Classics Illustrated, Amar Chitra Katha (from my Indian friends down the street), Dr. Strange, Batman, on and on and on. And it never stopped.

Then, when I was thrown out of graduate school I started up again (I had taken a five year break from freshman year of college until i was about a year out of graduate school). This time I read all the adult-oriented comics from Watchmen to Eightball to Peep Show, Yummy Fur, R. Crumb, Harvey Pekar, Julie Doucet, Peter Bagge (Hate Comics!). I ran into Peter Bagge at the Aspen Comedy Festival many years later and I told him I was his biggest fan. He actually started crying! The author of Hate Comics! What the..? He said, “I’m sorry, there’s too much happening here.” And I left him alone.

In 1992 I applied for a job at a comic book store. The one I shopped in almost every day. Without me as a customer I was pretty sure they were going to go out of business. The guy didn’t know how to answer because he didn’t want to lose his best customer. Not only did I shop there but I got all my friends to shop there (Peep Show and Eightball were our favorites). He said, “I’m sorry, we just don’t have the money for that.” And then he had to explain further. “Comic book stores are not really a good way to make a living. We sort of do it for the love of it.” And now I felt bad for even asking for the job.

I loved the Sandman comics by Neal Gaiman. “The Sandman” was really this god-like character, Dream, that came from a family of other godlike characters: Death, Destiny, Desire, Despair, etc. You get it. Gaiman is excellent at creating modern mythologies interwoven with ancient ones. I wanted to write like him.

So I did. I read everything he had written in comics. Plus everything his mentor, Alan Moore (think: “Watchmen” but even better: “A Small Killing”) had written. Their style was very different from average comic book writers. I wrote something I felt was very much in their style. It was titled “Delirium” and it would be an offshoot series based on Dream’s sister, Delirium. I sent it to Lou Stathis at DC. I never really heard back although years later I had to deal with Lou over a different issue when I was at HBO (I had interviewed the founder of Juggs magazine and used an image from a comic he had edited).

What does this have to do with anything?

I want to write a comic book!

Oh, and I also can’t figure out what the hell am I doing with this blog. I write what’s on my mind. And it sort of goes in the direction I go. I’ve been pretty miserable throughout most of my life. But now I’m not. I write about why and how and what and even when (NOW!) . And I want this blog to get really popular and I want to do videos and radio shows and books and speaking tours based on the ideas of this blog.

Oh! I forget: I also want to start a company. In fact, I’ve started a few. Like I usually do. And some of them will fail. And maybe one of them will work out. In fact, I’m sure one of them will. I don’t even have to think about it. One of them will. Just because I say so.

Let me see…I also have this idea for a series of young adult novels. Young adult fantasy seems to be the rage. I’ve loved fantasy novels since I was a kid also. but usually they weren’t based on young adults. Now I’m seeing more and more Harry Potter-ish fantasy novels involving kids. Here’s my idea. A teenage girl, say 14 years old, is having the usual set of teenage girl high school issues (puberty, boys, grades, cliques). And, by the way, her father is Satan. Which is, of course, a source of continual embarassment and frustration for our heroine, who is basically a good person and just wants to be kissed. Like it? The series can follow her all through college, all through her job. Meanwhile, while she’s dealing with gossip from the cliques, a rogue assortment of bitter fallen angels are after her.

Anyway, I want to write that.

I’ve done lots of things that before-hand I wanted to do. I wanted to be a venture capitalist. For me, personally, it was awful. You spend half your time holding the hands of companies that are failing. Those people are miserable. You spend another half looking at boring companies (the chart that always starts at $0 revenues on the left but, trust me, “we’re going to be 1% of a 5 trillion dollar market in three years and there’s no competition”). Then you spend the other half working over contracts to make sure you can do the maximum screwing in worst-case scenarios. Screw or be screwed. I know that’s three halves. The fun happens when the market goes up and you start to exit. But guess what. Big deal. No matter what area of the financial industry you are in, the fun happens when the market goes up.

I’ve also run a hedge funds. Run a fund of hedge funds. Started companies. Done a TV pilot. None of it was that fun. None of it was great. And even this blog is sometimes stressful because I pressure myself a lot to put out the best material I can.

So what do I want to do? I don’t know. I guess some of the above.

But I know I can’t think about it. I can’t wonder about it. I am going to do NOTHING. Today I’m going to stay healthy. I’m going to eat right, sleep well, be around positive people, keep generating ideas every day, and practice being grateful, practice surrendering to my situation no matter what it is, good or bad, and then I know what I’m going to do then. I know what I’m going to do. But I won’t know until I get there.

(the Delirium character was supposedly drawn based off of Tori Amos)

HOW TO GET TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE

Paul scol ‏@pscols: I’ve just started a website for a small photography business. What’s are some good ways to get traffic to the site?

Answer:

There’s maybe an entire post for this now that I brainstorm on it.

There’s like a ladder that starts at quality and ends with quantity. Let’s brainstorm the steps in the middle.

1) Quality. When I started Stockpickr.com I wanted a lot of traffic for it. So I did what no other site in the financial space was doing. I put up no news but non-stop ideas for stock picks. And I based the picks not on my opinions but on the opinions of great investors like Warren Buffett, etc but also other investors in the community. And I kept adding features. Like we added a Q&A (sort of a “quora for stocks”) that drove a lot of traffic. So it was a quality site. For my blog, as another example, I try to follow these two rules: quality writing + it helps people.

2) Everything else is quantity. It’s about choosing yourself rather than letting other people choose you. I used to think “If only the Wall St Journal published my articles then I would be happy” but nothing could be further from the truth anymore. Now the truth is: you need to be in charge of your own destiny. The big, bad media companies may reach down from the skies and choose you but they will do so on their terms and not yours, even if it’s against their own best interests to build your brand. Only you will build your brand.

So here’s how you choose yourself.

A) Comment on every blog related to your site. Sometimes link back to your blog but usually don’t. Don’t be annoying. Instead, become a trusted source and friend on every blog you comment on.

B) Syndicate material and ideas to the top blogs in your sector (in your case, the photo biz)

C) Put your photos all over Pinterest. Follow everyone you can on Pinterest so people follow back.

D) Create fan pages for different topics related to your photos on Facebook. Use my techniques I describe here to get 100,000+ fans for each page. Then put your photos on the page so it appears in the newsfeeds of your fans. Photos on Facebook get the highest engagement and will improve the “EdgeRank” for all your pages so they get on more and more newsfeeds.

E) You have a really great photo? tweet it. Pay to promote the tweet.

F) Write a book on photography. Self-publish. Give it away for 99 cents or cheaper if you can. Here’s my tips on self-publishing. 

G) Answer questions about photography on Quora

H) Link with other photographers on LinkedIn.

Over time you will have created a platform. And it will take time. but you will build your base and it will be as if you have your own television network that you can broadcast out your message to. But, of course, it all boils down to step 1. Make you you have the greatest message in the world to broadcast.

INSPIRATION FOR BLOG

Robin Heinen ‏@RobinHeinen1986: How do you get NEW inspiratioon for your blog? I try to bleed on http://robinheinen.blogspot.com , but some days, inspiration is gone…

Answer:

In June 2002 I was very depressed. I had no money. I couldn’t sell the apartment I was trying to sell. It was only a few blocks from Ground Zero in NYC and the playground my kids would play in was still covered with asbestos and the whole area smelled. I think there might even have been flames still burning on the actual spot. It was depressing to live there. I’d stand outside the fence as close as you can go and just look at the worst mechanical mess of pipes, buildings, trash, and men in hard hats doing…something, i don’t even know, and I’d stand there and I wouldn’t know what to do. i was going to die because I had no money, no job, I couldn’t sell my apartment, nobody would return my calls, I had a new three month old, I was incapable of having sex at all I was so depressed, every company I had ever been involved in hated me or turned me away. I was just a mess.

I started going out for coffee every morning. I couldn’t stand being home. The home that I was going to lose. The home with the screaming kids. The home that shook when the towers fell and my oldest child peed on the floor. The home that was covered with black dust just as the shaking began and the lights turned  out and people were screaming and voices that will never  be heard again could be heard if not seen.

I would bring one fiction book, one non-fiction book, one book about games, one book about finance, and one notepad. And I would read a bit of each. Then I would come up with ideas for each. Ideas for fiction. Ideas for non-fiction. Ideas for businesses. ideas for people I wanted to talk to. Ideas for trading systems I wanted to try.

It was only when I started writing ideas down every day that I stopped checking my bank account every day. That I stopped shaking every day that I was also going ot collapse into the ground, nothing but dust and smell left to remind the world that I once existed, to remind daughters who would never remember me that I once meant something to the world.

Every day.

I practiced having ideas. I exercised my idea muscle. I would make my brain sweat. Once I had an idea for a book: How to Win At Every Game in the World. And I would give easy ideas for winning every game. For instance, in Scrabble: if you know that XI, XU, QI, ZA, QAT are legal words then you are going to beat everyone who has a great vocabulary but doesn’t know those are legal words. I came up with 5 games, then 10. Then, make the brain sweat, 20 games. How to win everytime at hearts, at Monopoly (get the Orange real estate), at chess, at checkers, at backgammon, and so on. Could I think of 30? Every idea I had, I tried to make my brain sweat until it hurt.

So that’s number one. It’s not inspiration. it’s the cliched version of inspiration – perspiration. I sweated. (Women perspire, men sweat).

Number two, your body is filled with veins. The boys who made fun of you in the playground. Your fear of the first day on the job. The time you failed and were afraid to tell your parents. The time you got a lower score on the SATs and lied about it to your friends. Your first car crash. The first time you had sex (don’t even TELL ME you weren’t impotent). The older you are, the more of these you have. Yesterday, my youngest daughter refused to  participate in a video I was doing with PBS. I was crushed. It was the first time she had ever said “No” to a fun idea I was doing. Have I lost my little baby? Maybe this will be a vein I bleed. The other day Claudia found what looked like lipstick on a towel. Did she think I was cheating? I’m scared to death of her somehow not trusting me. Every day if there isn’t an artery you can cut and burst out your blood, there’s at least a vein, a capillary, a tear which can drop onto the page and tell your story.

Don’t worry about how you will have inspiration every day. Build the idea muscle. And cry. The world is a horrible place and the tears never end.

ARE AMERICANS TOO BIG TO FAIL?

Todd Rockoff ‏@toddrockoff: So many Americans are so overweight … are they tring to become too big to fail?

Answer:

When I was a kid I used to eat, every day, an entire loaf of Wonder Bread for lunch. I loved it. Then I’d go home and eat two bagels. Then for breakfast I’d eat about 6 bowls of cereal while I waited for two more bagels to be heated up in the oven. I loved bread. Give me a twinkie. Give me two.

And over the years two things happened. Bread as we know it evolved. It became mutant bread. In order to feed a world that has gone from 3 billion people to seven billion people our food has become more and more genetically modified. More and more processed to increase the yield. Nothing wrong with this. This is how the world can survive. Advances in technology have proven the doom and gloom Malthusians of the early 1970s dead wrong. And will continue to do so as the planet becomes more interconnected through both technology, lower trade barriers, less violence (see below book reference) and less corruption.

And yet…

And yet.

Bread, and the wheat it comes from, is worse for your metabolism than ever before.

And one other very horrible thing has happened.

Todd: you and I have become older. I can’t eat two bagels anymore. Even old-school bagels. I can’t eat that foot high Carnegie Deli sandwich anymore. I can’t even eat three meals a day anymore without gaining weight. For awhile I had a physical trainer that I would meet at the gym three days a week. He would take one look at me and tell me what I had for dinner the night before and breakfast that morning. He was that good. He was very funny. He’d go on these vacations and he knew exactly what look he wanted to have and what he needed to work on. If he needed to work on his 8-pack he would do one routine. If he needed his shoulders a little broader he’d eat chicken and lift weights. If he needed more tone in his neck muscles, he’d eat something else and do some other kind of routine. His goal: to look like a god when the girls saw him walking down the street.

He’d get back into town with a camera filled with photos. Photos of the different girls he…. Well. Let’s leave it at “he”. We would spend half that first session after his returns just checking on the photos. One time Claudia interrupted us by surprise and he had to quickly put the camera down and we both felt a little guilty. Claudia was laughing hysterically when I later told her why. “Do guys always do that?” she asked. Yes, Claudia. Yes we do.

I don’t lift weights. Or drink protein shakes. Or eat the just right amount of chicken to make my shoulder chiseled. But I did have to make changes to my diet to avoid becoming overweight, and to even lose pounds once I realized the slippery slide I had already found myself on. And this will continue for the simple good reason that food is genetically evolving and getting more and more processed in order to feed a developing world filled with billions more people. That will continue for the rest of our lifetimes.

But here in America we have to be particularly careful. Because, quietly, 90% of the grocery store is filled with wheat and other carbs. Americans eat carbs for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and drink it down with sugar-filled alcohol. And they eat late at night which hurts digestion because it’s harder to digest when you are lying down inert.

I’ll tell you my current diet. Then I have a reading list related to it.

Breakfast: around 10am. I eat oatmeal with nuts crushed up in it (but NOT peanuts) or I’ll eat scrambled eggs. Nothing else.  The oatmeal is Gluten free, whole grain steal cut oats. The brand is “Bob’s Red mill”. Mixed with bananas and finely crushed nuts (Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, almonds – all raw). VERY finely crushed.

Lunch/Dinner: around 2-3pm. Usually some sort of vegetable curry or steamed vegetables and some sort of fish. Sometimes  I skip the fish (usually sole, perhaps almond-crusted). And that’s it.

Saturday: cheat day. You can eat anything. The reasoning described below.

Here’s a reading list for what I describe above:

 

Macro issues:

- Abundance, by Stephen Kotler. Describes how food has ALWAYS been genetically modified but now it’s increasing for good reasons in order to feed people through better and better technological improvements.

- The Better Angels of our Nature, by Stephen Pinker. Describes how violence as a percentage of the human race, has declined every century. This foretells an ever-increasing population where more and more adjustments to how food is farmed (and water cleaned) will have to be made.

 

Food issues:

 

- Wheat Belly, by William Davis. Describes how bad wheat is for us. Particularly wheat as it is processed today. Essentially recommending a zero wheat diet.

- Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie Mayfield. A bit richer than the diet I described above but what the heck.

(from Paleo Comfort Foods. The banana pancakes use almond flour)

- The Four Hour Body, by Tim Ferris with some adjustments. He recommends a somewhat paleo diet and his book describes why the “cheat day” is important. But I do several adjustments from his recommended diet: I won’t do wine. I won’t do black beans. I eat fruit (the bananas in the oatmeal for instance and sometimes we do other fruits in the oatmeal or during the day). He doesn’t specify what oils he uses when he cooks but we only use coconut oil as opposed to corn oil and vegetable oil. If we use another oil it will be safflower oil. He explains that the “cheat day” is to shock the system. Maybe that’s true. I think it’s to serve as a painful reminder what happens to your body when you succumb to it’s food lusts.

Here’s a link on the benefits of coconut oil.

So Americans are becoming too big to fail, only because we are developing the technology and methods to feed an increasingly hungry and growing planet. But we have to make sure we balance it off by eating healthier while we feed the world.

HOW CAN ONE BE MORE CREATIVE?

[Note: this was also in my newsletter the other day. You can sign up here for my free newsletter and get three of my books for free.]

anhoff ‏@ivanhoff: Is there a correlation between creativity and trying new things (visiting new places, meeting different people, etc).

Answer:

Tomorrow is Labor Day and I assume I will be busy doing Labor Day things. Then this week I’m going to try a new thing. I’m going to go to LA on Wednesday (after three meetings on Tuesday, all exploring new things), and I’m going to go to a press conference Amazon has invited me to attend on Thursday and then I’m going to spend Friday coming home. Then a weekend with kids (doing new things), and a Monday at a meeting and then dinner with some new people I’m doing business with.

Time for creativity: zero.

Perhaps new things will give me fuel to write. Will give me insight into ideas or human nature that will form the basic building blocks that will create either a new opportunity for myself or give me some new things to write about. I don’t regret doing new things. In fact, I am choosing to do them. I never do something I don’t want to do. (At least that is my mantra and I usually stick to it).

But time for creativity (again, as a reminder): zero.

If I spent this next week (since I just described a period of about eight days until I am next able to really relax at home) thinking, reading, and writing, I’d probably be a lot more creative. I have some talks to prepare (giving two talks in October, two in November, a big weekend thing in January, and two talks next March), I’d get together another book of material (“James Altucher’s Guide to Parenting”) and spend more time thinking about the intersection between creativity and failure.

Which brings me to, what is creativity correlated with:

- Time. Yesterday, on a Saturday right before Labor Day, what you would think would be the slowest day of the year on the Internet, I tried an experiment. I’ve been avoiding using LinkedIn for about five years or so. Or whenever it was created. I don’t know. 100 years ago. I let LinkedIn come in and peek through my gmail, match it with all the email addresses that were related to LinkedIn accounts, and sent out about 1030 LinkedIn requests. This was around 7am or 8am Saturday. Within an hour maybe 800 people had responded. (maybe everyone had responded but the Internet has evolved into this gigantic beast that never lets you know when people are saying “Heck NO, I don’t want to be friends with that guy”). So this tells me two things:

i) Why are we all on the Internet at 7am Saturday right before Labor Day. Aren’t we buying charcoal or  fishing or something? No. Not me either. I was on the Internet from 7am to 2pm yesterday, and then on and off for the rest of the day after that.

ii) LinkedIn: why are you only looking at email accounts? Shouldn’t you also be looking at twitter and Facebook?

iii) I go  back to my trading days. If everyone is doing something then perhaps the right thing to do is the opposite.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the Internet. I’ve been addicted to playing online chess since pre-web. I’ve been addicted to newsgroups since 1987. I’ve been addicted to reading other people’s email accounts without their permission since about 1988.

Most of all, I don’t know the people who live on my block. And thank god. One woman with a tiny baby has the police regularly called on her whenever she and her boyfriend get in a fight. My choices: become friends with her OR make another new, positive, uplifiting connection, among the billions of people on the world wide web. It’s an easy choice and I make it every day. I love my friends who I’ve made on the Internet. Part of the emotional component of what I call “the Daily Practice” involves getting rid of the negative people in your life and adding in positive people. People who will inspire you and uplift you. We used to be limited to the  people who lived right near us and grew up all of our lives with us. Then “moving” became possible and we became limited by the people who lived near us and people who we worked with.

Now we are not limited at all. I just made 1000 LinkedIn connections yesterday. Who knows which of those 1000 I will eventually become further friends with? There’s no limits? I can choose new positive people every day or interact with the friends on the Internet I have already made. This, to me, is the cultural and universal success of the Internet.

BUT….I need to spend less time on it. This goes along with less time reading news and less time socializing at night. Not that these activities are bad. But they do get in the way of creativity.

Let’s go back to the Bible for a second because it contains a metaphor for creativity. Somewhere in there it says we are created in the image of God. Let’s take a scientific version of that and assume that the laws of the Universe apply at the macro level and somewhat at the micro level. We are created in the image of the Universe. The Universe was a ball of light  (or something, we don’t know) in some area before time and space that was completely NOTHING. It was so much nothing we can’t’ define it. And out of that was created stars, galaxies, quasars, pulsars, quarks, and LIFE. You and me. The ultimate in creativity.

Applying that on the micro level, since we operate by the same laws the Universe operates, it’s clear what is correlated with creativity:

A) doing nothing. NOTHING. Give yourself time for that. I don’t mean give yourself time to think. I mean do NOTHING. Sit. Whatever. Walk.

B) combine things. The next thing that happened in the universe was that hydrogen started combining with itself to create new types of atoms. Ultimately, the basics of life were created by combining helium atoms together (three equal carbon) then combining the results of that together, then that together, and so on. Sit down and list things that you know (which implies you should spend some time reading in order to learn things – and reading will give you a lot more learning than doing although doing helps also) and combine them. I KNOW that facebook exists. I KNOW that companies, in general, do not know how to take advantage of new technologies. So it’s a slam dunk that a basic lifestyle business one can create is to help companies figure out their facebook presence.

I’m not saying that’s a company everyone should start. But it is a method that can be used for creativity. Combine two things that work (or that don’t work – go for it!) and see what the new thing that is created is. In the 1970s everyone was fascinated by astronauts. People throughout history have been fascinated by mythology. And, we all love a beautiful woman (men and women love beautiful women). So what was created: “I Dream of Jeannie!” one of the most popular TV shows ever.

Creativity then is correlated with the lows of the Universe. How does the Universe operate? Follow it and you will be able to create also. Your mind is like a mini-Universe.

Which brings me to one final thing creativity is correlated with. Cue broken record….

C) The Daily Practice. The Universe is healthy. It’s expanding constantly (the Big Implosion is most likely debunked). You need to be healthy also. And not just physical health. But emotional healthy. Mental health (your idea muscle must be exercised every day) and Spiritual health (cultivating a sense of surrender to your current situation, feeling gratitude to the abundance both inside and outside of you). Some people have said to me that in my original post on the topic I suggested too many things for health. This is correct. I will have a follow up post soon about this. Or in my newsletter.

I’m looking forward to doing new things this coming week. To seeing friends and making new ones. To traveling to LA (I haven’t been there in a billion years) and then seeing my kids and then meeting with a new opportunity. But then I’m already looking forward to 8 days from now when I can sit and do nothing. Bliss.

 

CAREER IN TRADING

Antonio Bailey ‏@DB0pink

Answer:

What advice can you give to someone who’s in their 30′s and wants to begin a career in trading, but doesn’t know where 2 start?

One time in 2003 I lost money on the day before. I had a systematic way of trading. Only software-based. I followed my signals and nothing else. I loaded up all the stock market data and would look for patterns. Like if it’s the first day of the month and the last day of last month was down, what tends to happen 99 times out of 100. If many patterns suggested the same high probability trade then I would make that trade. Maybe I was managing about $50 million. Because the trades were (historically) such high probability, I rarely had a down day. And I would only trade with a small portion of the portfolio so even a down day was small.

But one day I was down. And that night I couldn’t sleep. So around 4am or so I got out and went on the swingset at the local school. Then I got a basketball and played basketball by the river. then I went to breakfast around 6am at the local cafe. Played some scrabble there to get my mind off the trade that was on. Then I went to…church. I got down on my knees. I prayed to Jesus. I’m Jewish/Hindu/Buddhist/Taoist/Muslim/Catholic. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m a praying slut. I’ll pray to Zeus if I have to. I prayed for about a half hour. Please make this trade work Daddy.

Then I went in. Futures were already against me. Every second I could feel all the blood pulsing in and around my body. It was like I was bowling and leaning my body over to make the ball go in the right direction after it’s already been released. Please Daddy pleasedaddy please please. Please ZeusJesusAllah.

I called my business partner. “Let’s just hire a factory in New Jersey and put together the ingredients for some diet pill that combines with protein. I can build a website. We’ll get some porn star to do the informercial.”. please daddy please please.

I forget if the trade worked out. I didn’t have the psychology for it. I was down maybe 0.25% at worst. Less than 1%. I hated losing people’s money. I had no problem losing my own money. I was an expert at that. But I never wanted to lose anyone else’s money.

Here’s the problem with trading. I won’t argue with you. Everyone has their heart set on a dream and sometimes dreams turn into nightmares but you are entitled to your dreams.

There’s a saying in poker, “If you can’t find the fish at the table then it’s you”.

Here’s who is at the table with you when you trade: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Carl Icahn, Vladmir Putin, Ben Bernanke, Sheikh this and that, Hugo Chavez, Timothy Geithner, and what my business partner and I used to call “The Gimp” after the Pulp Fiction character. The Gimp was the guy they keep locked up in the dungeons underneath Goldman Sachs. He’s got a mask on and he’s chained all up and they feed him  once a day. And when they really need the markets manipulated they let him out of the cage and there’s nobody better. It’s you versus him.

Good luck.

 

READ WHAT IS INTERESTING

boz ‏@bozwood: is it best to just read what is interesting and let the ideas percolate from there?

Answer:

Yes. Only read what you find is interesting. Never read the news. 100 years from now, nobody will care what was in the newspaper today. There’s not a single thing in the news that will help you be a better person or will make you more informed about the world. Here’s the news today (every day): Everyone in every election is lying. Every media outlet is biased so you are just reading some random reporter’s opinion so it doesn’t matter. There’s more wars going on then you thought. Oops, here’s a baby that just got bombed in a war you didn’t know we were in. And some houses are being sold and yet foreclosures are through the roof and you student loans can no longer be humanly paid unless we clone ourselves but if you don’t want to pay them you have to be declared “legally hopeless”. And some celebrity had a baby and the father is not sure.

In fact, it  turns out you need to use 23andme.com to confirm the genetics of yourself, your parents, and your kids, because apparently illegitimacy rates are much higher than you think (op-ed page).

Ok, that was the news.

Here’s the books I read today. I’m not necessarily recommending them. This is just what I found interesting this morning before I started writing. I got up particularly early so probably read a bit more than usual. I only read a few chapters in each book.

Essays by Neal Stephenson

Wait by FrankPartnoy

The Rare Find by George Anders

Collected Stories of Leonard Michaels

You Are Here by Christopher Potter

I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj

And…the ever  useful “The Book of General Ignorance” which has more fascinating facts and ideas than I’ve read in any other book (I bought it the other day when I took my kids to the Liberty Science Center. I’m always a sucker for the  bookstores in museums. Who says bookstores are dead?).

From this reading I got an idea for a post that I have not yet written but I know the title. I’m either going to call it “The Death of Slavery” or, if I think that might be somehow offensive, I might call it “The Death of Time”.  It was a combination of three of the above books that gave me the idea which is, basically, the evolution in thinking about your value that ultimately takes you from poverty to wealth. Or from stress to happiness. You choose. Although it could be both.

So, yes, read every morning. Only read things that interest you. Look hard for things that you find fascinating. Because in your head they will all mix together and create a beautiful alphabet soup. And like you were when you were a little kid, you will look down in the soup and see the letters spell out sentences that you know, deep down, could only be direct messages from god to his special little child…you.

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