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The Mission
Letter sent on Nov 21, 2016

Accelerated learning, health elixirs, direct experience, and more!

Sunrise over Silicon Valley
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This week’s newsletter spans:

  1. Think — Fake vs. Real News
  2. Listen- The Empire of the Sun
  3. Accelerated Learning- Direct Experience
  4. Travels- Where is the Action?
  5. Mindset- A new study from evolutionary psychologists about how to be happy
  6. World- China is weighing in on internet regulations
  7. Tech- Apple might start making iPhones in… the US?!
  8. Watch- What if Germany and Japan won WWII?
  9. Read- Why I Write
  10. Health- An elixir for health and vitality that’s thousands of years old


Think- Fake vs. Real News

The debate about what is, “fake” and “real” news is just beginning. If you’re Facebook or Twitter user… you might want to weigh in on it.

Picture Source: Bloomberg News

The hunt for “fake” news may be well intentioned, but it seems like it could be a distraction, and a path of division and self destruction for companies like Twitter and Facebook. Facebook’s Zuckerberg (wisely) tried to deflect and avoid participating in this debate initially, but now it looks like the media and Facebook employees are forcing him back into it. So far, his stance looks promising,

“We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or mistakenly restricting accurate content. We do not want to be arbiters of truth ourselves, but instead rely on our community and trusted third parties.” –Zuckerberg, via Bloomberg


Listen- The Empire of the Sun

Source, Empire Of The Sun

The Empire of the Sun’s latest album, Two Vines, is sublime. If you’re new to them, a fun entry point is, Walking on A Dream.


Accelerated Learning- Direct Experience

There isn’t a substitute for direct experience.

“Direct experience or immediate experience generally denotes experience gained through immediate sense perception.” –Wikipedia

Direct experience forces you to face the question, “who are you and what are you like?” outside the lens, filter, and influence of inputs from other people, celebrities, society, culture, your phone, and social media.

In our modern world, it seems like direct experience (our immediate sense perception) is vanishing. Increasingly large portions of people’s days are spent looking out at the world and other people through technological filters.

A recent study from USC shows that people in the US consume about 15.5 hours per day of media. Their definition of what constitutes media was extremely large, including “flows of data delivered to households and to people.” You can look into the details of the USC study here, and although I disagree with the 15.5 hour amount… it’s still startling. But what if it’s close to reality?

The rate at which we’re able to learn accelerates when we seek out direct experiences without the influence of media or others who are telling us what we should feel or think. Exploring nature, traveling, meeting people, and going far outside our routines and comfort zones is one of the only way to access self-awareness. This is one of my favorite reminders about the importance of the subject,

“I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why this should be so. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes– with all of this taken away, you are forced into direct experience…
I eventually realized that direct experience is the most valuable experience I can have.” –Michael Crichton

Why? Direct experience increases self awareness.


Travels- Where is the Action?

Here is a brief way to ensure you get direct experience once a week.

Get out into nature.

“If you want a teacher, try a waterfall… or a mountain wilderness, or a storm-pounded seashore. This is where the action is. It’s not back in the hive.” –Terence McKenna

There isn’t a better place to relax than a beach where you can hear the crashing waves, take in the crisp salty air, and just be and see without the influence of outside opinion. Sometimes it’s hard to force ourselves into direct experience, but once we’re there, we usually enjoy it. A puppy is an excellent helper to force getting out into nature :)


Mindset- A new study from evolutionary psychologists about how to be happy

Evolutionary Psychologists from Singapore Management University and the London School of Economics and Political Science published a new study that found intelligent people need more time alone in order to be happy. So you might not be anti-social… you might just be smart.


World- How much say should China have in regulating the internet?

“Picture an internet where tech companies are deputized as crime-fighters, where censors keep radical views in check and where governments work together to achieve global order in cyberspace. That is China’s vision, and its third-annual World Internet Conference that ended Friday was aimed at proselytizing that view to tech executives and government leaders who assembled here from around the world.” –WSJ, Link


Tech — Apple might start making iPhones in… the US?! –Link


Watch- What if Germany and Japan won WWII?

TMITHC, Amazon Studios

The Man in High Castle is a novel by Philip K Dick that was recently adapted into a series by Amazon Studios (and the series has already won two Emmy’s).

PKD may go down in history as one of the most underrated storytellers of the last century. The Man in High Castle tells the story of an alternate history where the Axis powers (Germany and Japan) won WWII.

TMIHC series and PKD’s original book are included with any Prime Subscription.

In his personal life, PKD believed that the, “empire never ended.” The philosopher Leo Strauss is famous for asserting that during whatever period of history you examine (including the present), the most powerful ideas of the time can only be presented by being hidden in esoteric fiction, as it’s the only safe place to disclose them. Those with the attention spans of Goldfish will consume and spread the story. But occasionally the ideas within the story will find the mind that their author was trying to reach (safely) across time and space.

PKD packages a number of esoteric truths in his novels. If you’re interested in exploring them, I’d recommending starting with his novels. Like most writers of his time, PKD lost creative control over his work as they spun out into movie adaptations (which became perversions of his work).


Read- Why I Write by George Orwell

Most books contain cover blurbs which desperately say, “You’ll love this book, please buy it!”

It’s rare to find a cover blurb that is honest enough to say who the book is, and isn’t for… This blurb does:

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”

Check out Why I Write to see how broad and utilitarian Orwell’s definition of politics is. He saw “politics” as the system of cooperation we’re all condemned to either ignore, face, or improve it. While it’s not easy to change, politics is still a culturally and societally built open source operating system. We can participate as much or as little as we like. Both extremes carry consequences.


Health- A cheap elixir that’s been time-tested

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and the cause and prevention of disease.” –Thomas Edison

I fell off the health wagon and got sick. I looked back at what I was doing / not doing, and of course poor sleep and diet were at the root. Also, I had dropped one of the staples of my diet: 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar diluted in 8 ounces of water, drunk through a straw, ~3 times per week.

The results are nothing short of amazing. Back when I would stick to this routine for one month on, and one month off, it attracted plenty of familial attention. The results? I went 4 years without getting sick. Granted, during that time I had outside pressures (a looming deployment) that helped force my diet and exercise to be rigorous. During my 4 year streak, one extended family member reached out to me after he heard I was drinking apple cider vinegar on the reg. He had a simple message — he had started doing it. He added a shot of ACV to his diet a few times a week (making no other changes) and lost 20lbs in a few months. Your results may vary, and you should of course, consult your doctor, don’t go overboard, drink through a straw, rinse your teeth afterwards, etc... The health benefits that ACV seems to offer so far include: killing bacteria, lowering blood sugar, improving insulin sensitivity, and reducing blood pressure… There are a series of emerging scientific studies investigating uses in other health related issues.

Go for the organic! Photo Source: Caloriebee

Have a great week.

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