Criticize your ingroup

An easy way to gain credibility in my eyes is by voicing harsh truths about your ingroup:

Religious? 👉🏽 Criticize your religion
Academic? 👉🏽 Criticize academia
Indian? 👉🏽 Criticize India
etc..

The reverse also holds; Those who only talk positively of their ingroup look dumb as hell.

Furthermore, criticizing your ingroup conditions you to think more freely about the things you identify with, thereby lowering your ego and making you more open-minded.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of criticizing your ingroup is that your peers are much more likely to listen to you, especially if you have some authority or status in that ingroup. Iranians hearing from other Iranians about why Iran sucks, is more convincing than, say, an Israeli criticizing Iran.

May, 2024

Things to do after a fresh Mac OS X install

This is a short document that I keep for my own use. It consists of things to customize, and a list of apps to install. I update it every once in a while to my own changing needs.

Remove all the default icons from the Dock.
Since you never use them.

Change the default screenshot location from Desktop to Downloads
Open the Terminal and run
defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Downloads
Then run
killall SystemUIServer

Fix the key repeat rate

Enable three finger drag

Enable Accessibility Zoom

Finder: Add Trash, Quick Look and Info icons to Finder toolbar
Clicking an icon spares me having to move my arm to reach for the keyboard

List of apps to install
Google Chrome
BetterTouch Tool (and import your saved preferences)
The Unarchiver
Panic Coda
Spotify
Adobe Photoshop
KeepingYouAwake
Coconut Battery
BetterDisplay (to get smooth fonts on your 2K display)
Smooze (to enable scroll-dragging everywhere)
VSCode
Giphy Capture
Tor Browser
qBittorrent
Ivacy

Handy link to speed up macOS animations
Here on GitHub.

May, 2024

The case for $VT Vanguard Total World ETF

My all-time favorite ETF would have to be $VT. And it’s not even close. It’s the ultimate “total world” equity fund.

If you’re High IQ: you’ll know that the V in $VT stands for Vanguard, known for their super low fees, while the T stands for “Total”, as it includes 10,000 global stocks, including emerging markets.

If you’re Low IQ: you’ll prefer the S&P 500 (eg $SPY or $VOO) because you’re suffering from recency bias and home bias, on top of your general retardation. But the good news is that $VT consists of 60-70% of large-cap US stocks. So by owning $VT you’ll have all the S&P 500 stocks, but also a bunch of cool unknown companies from heavily discounted markets. $VT is truly the ultimate ETF to own forever.

So when:
– Your friends mention a rare gem of a stock, you can say “I have a tiny stake 😎 ”.
– Chinese EV brands go to the moon, you can say “I’m already a shareholder, tell me something new”
– Asian e-commerce stocks do a clean 3x, you can say “I’ve been holding that shit for years”

And you bet that this absolutely is investment advice. Because no one will go broke from buying and holding $VT. I’m unsuable (is that even a word?) recommending this. I mean that I’m unable to be sued. Actually, I guess I could be sued but I will win in court and the judge will applaud me for recommending $VT and shame you for wasting the court’s time.

So the next time your friends ask you what to invest in, consider doing the right thing and recommending them: $VT Vanguard Total World ETF. It’s a robust equity portfolio that’ll do a great job.

May, 2024

Collection of quotes

Here’s a random collection of quotes that I’m saving

“Make something people want.”
— Paul Graham

“People can admit when they’re logically wrong. They will never admit when they’re emotionally wrong.”
— Paul Portesi

“Making a mistake is a net positive if you learn more from it than it cost you.”
— Pedro Domingos

“An idiot admires complexity, a genius admires simplicity.”
— Terry A. Davis.

“The most important part of every plan is planning on your plan not going according to plan.”
— Morgan Housel

“Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In so many ways a friend with a boat is better than owning a boat.”
— Kevin Kelly

“The luckier you are, the nicer you should be.”
— Morgan Housel

“That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”
— P.C. Hodgell

“Don’t try to maximize happiness. Minimize misery, and you’ll be happy.”
— Paul Portesi

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.”
— Pablo Picasso

“It is a sign of weakness to avoid showing signs of weakness.”
— Nassim Taleb

“Social anxiety results from being around people who are resolutely opposed to who you are.”
— Stefan Molyneux

“Everybody on LinkedIn appears happy, smiling, wears a tie, and signals docility, conformity, and optimism while they rot inside.”
— Marin Zhelezov

“Whenever I see a woman who’s happy, she’s married. And whenever I see a man who’s happy, he’s single.”
— Larry David

“A taste of freedom can make you unemployable.”
— Naval

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
— J.E. McCulloch

“Science has emerged as new religion & citing ‘studies’ has become like quoting religious verses.”
— Zachariah Brown

“Big companies and repeat entrepreneurs struggle to go from zero to one because they refuse to restart at zero.”
— Naval

“To gain status in the world, we do all we can to appear as if we had already gained it.”
— François de La Rochefoucauld

“Normies are nice in words but hateful in deeds. I am nice in deeds but for them I appear hateful in words. And they deserve it.”
— Marin Zhelezov

“To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Think of the process of inflation as a very tall ladder that has been set on fire from the bottom. If you don’t climb fast enough, you’ll eventually be consumed in flames.”
— Craig Rowland

“Success is about honour, feeling morally calibrated, absence of shame, not what some newspaper defines from an external metric.”
— Nassim Taleb

“Those who make conversations impossible, make escalation inevitable.”
— Stefan Molyneux

“I would gladly give up my life for two brothers or eight cousins.”
— John Haldane (geneticist)

“The only part of you that hurts when you’re given the truth is the part that lives on lies.”
— Stefan Molyneux

“The same traits needed for huge success are the same traits that increase the odds of failure, so we should be careful praising winners or criticizing failures because they often made similar decisions with different degrees of luck.”
— Morgan Housel

“A populist is a smart person pretending to be dumb, and a liberal is a dumb person pretending to be smart.”
— Norwegian saying

“I have a sworn duty to my shareholders to maximize profit.”
— Martin Shkreli

“Some of this decade’s greatest heroes will never be known, and some of its most beloved people are basically shams.”
— Sam Bankman-Fried

“You know how they say no two snowflakes are ever alike? Well, I don’t think that’s true. I think a lot of snowflakes are alike… and I think a lot of people are alike too.”
— Patrick Bateman

“Entertaining characters are often deeply flawed.”
— Pixar training video on the art of storytelling

“The weak shows his strength and hides his weaknesses; the magnificent exhibits his weaknesses like ornaments.”
― Nassim Taleb

“When someone’s response is angrier than the question you asked warrants, they probably have something to hide. However, they may not only be hiding it from you…they may also be hiding it from themselves.”
— Neil Strauss

“The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society, except their constant criticisms, can feel both intellectually and morally superior”
— Thomas Sowell

“There’s nothing on the internet anymore. It has become like TV. They deplatformed all the interesting people.”
— Roosh V

“The more neatly you fit into society, the less free you actually are.”
— Naval

“Research shows it’s almost impossible to become a drug addict without having a prior history of childhood trauma”
— Bessel van der Kolk

“Why does it feel like the people most convinced they know the truth are the least likely to have actually found it?”
— Sharif Aly

“The truth fears no investigation.”
— Unkown

“Someone who has been employed for a while is giving you the evidence of submission”
— Nassim Taleb

“Scream for attention and I’ll cover my ears. Whisper and I will listen.”
— Pedro Domingos

“Online life must serve the offline life”
— Jash Dholani

“Schools should include a class called Truth Is Hard, where u get bombarded with examples of confused eyewitnesses, incorrect public outrages, studies that failed to replicate, super convincing arguments that fall apart with one additional fact u didn’t expect, etc.”
— Aella

“The more secrets you have, the less happy you’re going to be.”
— Naval

“Learned helplessness is when you have failed, lost, or got defeated so many times that you stop even trying.”
— Marin Zhelezov

“When something has no prestige, the people who like it are more likely to have honest motives.”
— Paul Graham

“Bad luck is easy to identify when you fail, but good luck is easy to ignore when you succeed.”
— Morgan Housel

“Many women think that if they put out too quickly, their partner won’t respect them. This is not the case. It’s not about waiting for a certain quantity of time before having sex, it’s about waiting for a certain quality of connection.”
― Neil Strauss

“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.”
― Adolf Hitler

“Prescribing antidepressants without addressing the root cause is like spraying deodorant over a pile of shit.”
— Marin Zhelezov

“My whole adult life has been a search for quiet. I’ve had 3 different buildings soundproofed.”
— Paul Graham

“No school could teach being a great investor. It would be the most popular school with an impossibly high tuition.”
— Michael Burry

“Netflix could have been anything: personalized shampoo, custom dog food, one-of-a-kind baseball bats. I pitched all these ideas to my co-founder Reed Hastings on our daily commutes to work before we finally hit on the idea of video rental by mail.”
— Marc Randolph

“Though they may be composed of upstanding individuals, the structure of large organizations causes them to behave in ways that would be evil, if they were an individual person. So remember, whenever you’re dealing with a large organization, you’re also dealing with an evil one.”
— Paul Graham

“The education of today is humiliating. It produces an inferiority complex and artificially lowers the powers of man. Its very organization sets a limit to knowledge well below the natural level. It supplies men with crutches when they could run on swift feet.”
— Maria Montessori

“Privilege is all the problems you don’t have to worry about, that other people do.”
— Christie Smythe

“You’re only as smart as the smartest person in your community.”
— Jacob Lund Fisker

“I have always hated employment and the associated dependence on someone else’s arbitrary opinion, particularly when much of what’s done inside large corporations violates my sense of ethics.”
— Nassim Taleb

“The cruelest thing the elite do is lie about how they became successful.”
— Glenn Loury

“Rich people like quiet because quiet is better for thinking, and thinking is how you get rich.”
— Paul Graham

“I was always ready to share, but before external success, nobody cared to listen.”
— Naval

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”
— Theodosius Dobzhansky

“Most people (and companies) need a near-death experience before they can really change.”
— Tony Fadell

“Lots of people were in the right place at the right time but failed because they were the wrong person.”
— Rob Henderson

“If you don’t have or want kids, I generally don’t care what you have to say about society. You’re not part of its continuation.”
— Stefan Molyneux

“Contrary to popular belief, it is the sexually busy Chads, not the sexually desperate and frustrated incels, who have the most misogynistic worldview.”
— Rolf Degen

“The selfish reason to be ethical is that it attracts the other ethical people in the network.”
— Naval

“Personally, I enjoy hanging out with a mix of young, old, foreign, uneducated, and weird people.”
— Jeremy Howard

“We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children.”
— David Brooks

“I like to buy things second-hand. Old things are more interesting, often better made, and much cheaper. I got into this habit when I had no choice, but I kept it up because I prefer it.”
— Paul Graham

“I don’t care if the person I hire has a Computer Science degree. In fact, it’s a red flag usually. They overengineer and are slow. I like to hire auto didacts: fast and lean.”
— Pieter Levels

“I still have launch PTSD from early Falcon days. My limbic system twists my guts into a knot as we get closer to launch.”
— Elon Musk

“A bottom is a great place to grow from.”
— Neil Strauss

“I loath DSM diagnoses, the conceptualization of “mental illness” and how easy it is for a mental health professional to frame a reality for a person who is struggling emotionally. Future generations will look back at this time period with utter horror.”
— Dr. Roger McFillin

“You don’t know the true price of something until you try to sell it.”
— Nick Maggiulli

“Excuses are a promise of repetition.”
— Stefan Molyneux

“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.”
— Baltasar Gracián

“Education is cheap. It’s university that is expensive.”
— Nzube Olisaebuka Udezue

“Don’t maximize your intelligence; minimize your stupidity.”
— Paul Portesi

“What did you get done this week?”
— Elon Musk

“Socializing for 3 hours a day is the 10,000 steps of mental health.”
— Anu Atluru

“I must find a way to become independent or die trying.”
— Cyrus Yari

“One can spend one’s whole life climbing the ladder, only to realize it’s been placed against the wrong wall.”
— Joseph Campbell

“I rebel, therefore, I exist.”
— Albert Camus

“More than anything, I want to make lots of stuff. I want to make articles, books, websites, music, companies, systems, apps, and especially new ideas. This shapes most of my life decisions. Saying no to almost everything, so I can have lots of time for making.”
— Derek Sivers

“I hate the news. None of these stories have relevance to my life. Reading them may be enjoyable, but it’s an enjoyable waste of time. They will have no impact on my actions one way or another.”
— Aaron Swartz

“The long-term success of a relationship depends far more on avoiding the negative than on seeking the positive.”
— Daniel Kahneman

“A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree or certainty which the evidence warrants, would, if it became general, cure most of the ills from which the world suffers.”
— Bertrand Russell

“I don’t know a single person who watches the Super Bowl”
— Steve Jobs

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
— Stephen McCranie

“I yearn for a simple life well lived, that lets me be available for the people I care about.”
— Shreyas Deshpande

“Don’t meet your heroes until they want to meet you”
— Anu Atluru

“The disgust a man gets when hearing a girl has 100 bodies is the same disgust a girl feels when she hears a man is an incel”
— Jake Shields

“Those who don’t build things will always complain about those who do.”
— Sean McClure

“I dive into things head first and ask questions later. This is how I’ve always learned.”
— Alex Forbes

“If someone brags about their success or happiness, assume it’s half what they claim. If someone downplays their success or happiness, assume it’s double what they claim.”
— George Mack

“You’re offended when you fear that it might be true.”
— Naval

“Profits are not something you take from others, but a small share you get to keep from the value you create for others.”
— Johan Norberg

“When making a decision, I will often stop and think: will doing this make my grandparents and my grandchildren proud of me?”
— Edmund Simms

“We can trade baseball cards back and forth at ever growing prices. We’ll feel richer, but we aren’t.”
— Edmund Simms

“There is no such thing as a failed soldier, dead or alive (unless he acted in a cowardly manner) — likewise, there is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur.”
— Nassim Taleb

“I’ve been self employed my entire life, never had to use an alarm clock for 8 years. Even laws are optional since I’ve been to 50 countries and can pick the laws I want. Basically I have no rules, so I had to make my own rules to keep my world in check.”
— Jeremy Noronha

“Things that have never happened before happen all the time.”
— Morgan Housel

“You want to be yourself, idiosyncratic; the collective (school, rules, jobs, technology) wants you generic to the point of castration.”
— Nassim Taleb

“For me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats.”
— Pablo Picasso

“The bushmen of Africa should release a test called the HQ or “hunting quotient” and then administer it to academics with high IQs to see if they can catch a gazelle with a spear or avoid being eaten by a lion.”
— Molson Hart

“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Every thing you own takes energy away from you. Some give more than they take. Those are the only things worth having.”
— Paul Graham

“Why does the US so often put Israel’s interests before its own?”
— Paul Graham

“Atheism is cool and all but some nights I contemplate why the average penis size is the same as the average distance from the entrance of the mouth to the end of the pharynx. Can’t be a coincidence.”
— Marin Zhelezov

April, 2024

The Persian Portfolio

Executive summary: If you have excess savings that you want to grow and compound with minimum drawdowns, you should put half of it in global stocks, a quarter in long-term US treasury bonds, and the last quarter in gold. Rebalance yearly and go to the beach.

Long version:
I present to you, the Persian Portfolio, my own asset allocation. It consists of:
– 50% Global Stocks
– 25% Long Term Treasury Bonds
– 25% Gold

The Persian Portfolio investment

The vast majority of my savings are in this portfolio. It is simple because it only contains three assets, and it is robust because it can withstand catastrophes with very little drawdowns.

While normal people are afraid of heights or spiders, I am afraid of “lost decades”, which refers to a timeframe of ten years in which stocks only went down or sideways. The stock market has suffered many lost decades throughout history, and it’s mentally difficult to stay invested in an asset class that’s not performing well. The good news is that, when stocks go down, there’s always other assets that go up (usually bonds and/or gold). For this reason, it’s a good idea to diversify across asset classes. The ride upwards will be much smoother, with minimal drawdowns. This allows investors to sleep well and focus their attention on more interesting things.

Before investing in the Persian Portfolio, I was doing a mix of random things. Everything from selling Cash Secured Puts, to degenerate leveraged derivatives. Since moving almost all my savings into the Persian Portfolio, I have barely checked my brokerage account or read financial news. It doesn’t affect me anyways.

Finance has become boring. I just want to make 7 or 8% per year with very little drawdowns. This portfolio allows me to do just that without giving it any thought. Just rebalance once a year and that’s it.

Conclusion: Have some cash and don’t know what to do with it? Put it the Persian Portfolio.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Why did you name it the Persian Portfolio?
Because I am Persian by ethnicity. And I like alliterative names.

Why Global Stocks? The S&P 500 outperformed in the last twenty years
Just because US stocks outperformed yesterday, does not mean they’ll do so tomorrow. We don’t know the future. America has a lot of huge companies that dominate the world. But that’s priced in. Those companies are expensive and are trading at high multiples. Meanwhile, international stocks are very cheap. And they could easily outperform during times when the S&P 500 declines for a couple of years. Apple is a three trillion dollar company. For that same three trillion, you could own thousands of different companies around the world. That seems more robust to me. Imagine owning a bakery chain in Japan, shoe factories in Vietnam, German glass manufacturers and other things. That seems pretty cool too.

Why have any bonds? They are boring
Stfu. You’re an idiot. Long term bonds are exceptionally well suited for portfolios designed to reduce drawdowns. When the economy goes to shit, interest rates go down and the price of long term bonds go to the moon. This helps stabilize the portfolio and thereby prevents a common human error of selling stocks at the bottom.

Okay I’m convinced. Which stock tickers should I buy?
I recommend VT, TLT, and IAU.

Credit: This portfolio is heavily inspired by @ValueStockGeek.

January, 2024

Every person on the planet should have their own website

Every person on the planet should have their own website, on their own domain name, and blog about whatever they want.

I’ve had my own website since I was 13. I will not tell you the domain name because it contained some cringe ass shit that’s still visible on archive.org. But that’s not the point, at least I was playing around, unrestricted. I registered a domain name with shared hosting.

Everyone should be writing in public. It may be about work, family, a lifelong obsession with a certain subject, random observations, photo albums, music you produced, your favorite quotes, etc.

It will be safely kept in archive.org for your ancestors to investigate and ponder on.

And they will. Even if most of your future offspring are normies, at some point, it’s nearly guaranteed that someone will discover your old blog and share it with the family.

“Hey, I have a crazy story. I found this website today. There used to be this person who did this and that. And he’s our grand-grand-grand-father!”

Now imagine if you had access to interesting details about your great-grandmother’s sister, or brother, or whatever. Wouldn’t you want to, at least for once, look into, and share the highlights with your family?

July, 2023

How I’m friends with famous people (as a nobody)

I have a few friends who are famous.

I’m sometimes even very close with them.

A few of them trusted my judgment, to the point of calling me every day, telling their secrets, or asking me for advice.

How can that be? They’re famous and I’m a nobody.

When my ’normal’ friends found out that I knew a famous person, they’d ask me “How the hell do you know him?”

I noticed a pattern in my answer, because my answer is always the same.

“I knew him before he was famous.”

This pattern got me thinking. You see, when somebody’s already famous, they will have loads of people sucking their cock. It’s going to be hard for a random nobody to get a hold of them. Their DM’s are full of people who are trying to reach out to them. Even if you’re an incredible person, chances are, they won’t even give you a chance to let that be known.

Now, I’ve never made it my goal to be friends with famous people. I just want to talk to interesting people. Whether they’re famous is not a factor to me. If anything, it’s a bad thing because I don’t want to compete for someone’s attention.

But if you’re a nobody like me, and you want to be friends with famous people, the best way is to form a bond with people that are special in some way, before they become famous. In other words; you must be the type of person who
1) occasionally meets random new people
2) can recognize when someone is special
3) be interesting enough for them to want to engage with you
4) do this many times and then finally
4) wait and let the universe unfold

It’s almost guaranteed a few of them will become famous.

But you must be early in seeing that someone’s special. You must do it long before the rest of society has given them credit for it. Doing so after the fact does not count. There’s just nothing remarkable about seeing the value in someone once it’s visible to everyone else too.

So in a nutshell: If you’re an interesting person who can recognize valuable character traits in others, there’s a good chance those people will want to hang out with you. And eventually some of them could become famous.

Bonus tip:
If that doesn’t work for you, try just emailing the famous person. You’d be surprised how many of them email back, including billionaires. But make sure to use email and not another method. Because their Instagram DM’s are overflowing, and they barely give a second look at their Twitter replies. But every person pays attention to their email.

March, 2023

How to correct for confirmation bias

Humans suffer from strong confirmation bias. And we google things all the time, often using search queries that are phrased to confirm our existing beliefs. To combat this, I’ve made it a habit to google the opposite:


Considering moving to Germany? Google
“Why I hate living in Germany”

Want to get a dog? Google
“Why I hate having a dog”

Buying an iPhone? Google
“Why Android is better”.

Considering buying your first house? Then google
“Why I regret buying a house” or “The benefits of renting”


It’s that simple. If you want your loved ones to combat confirmation bias, don’t just explain to them what confirmation is. Specifically tell them to google the opposite. This tiny habit helped me 100x more than merely being aware of confirmation bias in general.

Always seek out counterarguments with an open mind.

(No offense meant to Germans, dogs, renters, Android users, etc)

March, 2023

Breaking the stereotype

I really like it when someone completely breaks the stereotype that others might have of them. For example:

  • A black guy with face tattoos, who’s been obsessed with value-investing and maintains a blog covering his stock picks, sharing his fundamental analysis
  • A Saudi Arabian immigrant who sells drugs at techno raves in Amsterdam, and has a deep molecular and chemical understanding of each substance he sells
  • A Syrian refugee who developed a new method of growing strawberries, cheaper, faster, and cleaner, and shares it on his YouTube channel
  • A North Korean who escaped his home country, enter the West, and became a famous punk rock musician
  • A transsexual who works on an oil rig

Why do I like that? Because there’s always pressure to succumb to the expectations of parents, friends, and society in general. I respect people who carved out their own path, especially if they risked being alienated by others along the way.

February, 2023

Social mobility: People at the bottom of the ladder are stuck in quicksand

The poorest people rarely just lack money. They’re almost always poor in other resources too. They often lack:

  • the proper role models while growing up
  • mentors that can guide them through formal education.
  • a social network of people who like you for who you truly are
  • nearby family members who can share some burdens of daily life
  • a friendly neighbor who helps them file their taxes each year

When people are stuck in social isolation, debt, and poverty, it’s very hard for them to be happy and productive in any sustainable way. For you, your yearly tax-return is a tiny problem that’s solved by your friend who happens to be an accountant. For someone in poverty, it can be a major source of uncertainty that’s sticky and adds yet another noise in their brain which lasts for weeks.

Here’s a quote from the excellent book Understanding Poverty.

Support systems are resources. To whom does one go when help is needed? Those individuals available and who will help are resources. When the child is sick and you have to be at work-who takes care of the child? Where do you go when money is short and the baby needs medicine? Support systems are not just about meeting financial or emotional needs. They are about knowledge bases as well. How do you get into college? Who sits and listens when you get rejected? Who helps you negotiate the mountains of paper? Who assists you with your algebra homework when you don’t know how to do it? Those people are all support systems.

It’s hard to climb the social ladder when you’re standing at the bottom of the ladder while being stuck in quicksand.

February, 2023

When traveling, expose yourself to randomness

When traveling, you should google the most famous sightseeing locations and tourist attractions, so that you can avoid them.

Instead, expose yourself to randomness. Just walk around aimlessly. When you see everyone going right, take a left. Don’t use Google Maps. Ask a local where you can find a supermarket or a coffee shop. Some locals are helpful and friendly, which can lead to interesting conversations full of serendipity. Locals can often tell you random useful things that you won’t learn about on TripAdvisor forums.

Many of my best memories during my travels have been outside of the city center. Far from the Eiffel Tower. Nowhere near the Van Gogh museum, etc.

February, 2023

Adding value without adding to GDP

Some of the best ways of adding value don’t add anything to GDP:

  • Caring for a disabled loved one
  • Contributing to Wikipedia
  • Building a free platform like Khan Academy
  • Volunteering at a homeless shelter

These activities clearly benefit people and society, yet don’t add anything to GDP. Not directly at least. Another thing I’ve noticed that.. when you think of the many ways of which one could add value without adding to GDP, very often, those methods are extremely good and honorable things! They are sometimes better than the methods which do add value to GDP.

So the next time you are adding value, forget about whether or not it’s paying you monetarily, and just take pride in adding raw value.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” — Charles Dickens

February, 2023

Why digital books are better than physical books

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. And in the last few years, I only read books on my phone, and I couldn’t be happier since making the switch. Here’s why:

  • I always have my phone with me, including the hundreds of books that are on it
  • I can change the font, text size, and background color of each book, because all my books are in EPUB format, which is a standardized format specifically designed for books, that’s compatible with any device.
  • I can search through books, so if I download, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 500-page autobiography, I could search for “sex” or “real estate” or “wife” and get straight to the juicy details that I’m looking for
  • My phone has a backlit display (with adjustable brightness), and since I sometimes read in a dark bedroom, I don’t need to shine a light onto the book
  • Because my phone is small and allows itself to be easily held with just one hand, I can hold it and read in all kinds of weird positions
  • If I ever lose my phone, or use a second phone, all my books magically re-appear, including my own highlights, bookmarks, and where I’ve left off, due to iCloud synchronization
  • I can download whole books in a few seconds, or read the preview (the first ~30 pages) for free
  • I can effortlessly copy and paste, or take screenshots of interesting paragraphs and share them with my friends in our group chat
  • I often google random things that I learned while reading, so using my phone, I can easily switch to the Safari app to chase a reference, spend a minute or two on Wikipedia, and then switch back to the book

Lastly, an observation: Whenever the question about physical vs digital books comes up, those who read physical copies are always the loudest. I’ve noticed this pattern on Twitter and elsewhere online. People who read physical books seem proud to own a paper copy and some even seem to derive a sense of status from it. They also keep repeating the same oneliners about touching the paper or being able to smell the book. I’m tired of seeing an inferior standard being romanticized. Humans have never been able to romanticize the present, for some reason, only the past, regardless of how bad things were. For me, I just care about the information and stories inside the book, and I want to consume it the best as I can. Everything else is cope to me. So here’s a small call to action: if you read books digitally, start telling your friends about the benefits of it. I think more people than ever will read more books than ever, if they knew how easy it was to do so. Thank you.

December, 2022

What to invest in

In this article, I will tell you what to invest in. It won’t be detailed, but it will be digestible. This absolutely is investment advice, because the three portfolios I’m going to recommend are relatively safe long-term bets. We’ll cover the 100% stocks portfolio, the 60/40 portfolio, and finally the All Weather portfolio.

100% stocks
This is a simple portfolio consisting only of stocks. What stocks, you ask? Well, I can recommend broad index funds such as the S&P 500, which contains the five hundred biggest companies in the US. It has Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, and many others. Some people might tell you that the S&P 500 is too heavily concentrated in one country. And although they’re right, the world has gotten more globalized and today roughly 40% of these companies’ revenues come from other countries. But if you want true international diversification, which is probably wiser anyway, then check out the MSCI All World ETF. Make sure to pay attention to the fees, the lower the better.

Pros: Will do well over long term (multiple decades)
Cons: Painful drawdowns: stocks can crash by 50%, and it might take a decade or more to recover.

From the year 2000 until 2012, the S&P 500 suffered a “lost decade”, meaning that it was down and didn’t make any money 🤦🏽‍♂️.

Lesson: Stocks don’t always go up. They can go down or sideways for many years. The US stock market has had several of such “lost decades”. Imagine how painful it’d be if you invested at the peak, and only saw your portfolio lose value for the next 10 years. So with that in mind, wouldn’t it be great if we could protect ourselves from such a drawdown, and keep making money even during a lost decade? Keep reading because I got just the right porfolio for you.

The 60/40 portfolio
This portfolio consists of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, rebalanced quarterly. The peak of the dot-com bubble (the year 2000) was one of the worst entry points in history for US stocks. But the 60/40 portfolio still delivered ~6% per year. I think this is amazing.

For the stock allocation, you could go with the S&P 500 or MSCI World. Now the 40% bonds part: I recommend US Treasury bonds, preferably with a long duration (of 20 years or longer). Why? Well, often, when stocks go down, bonds go up. And the bonds that have a longer duration, like 20+ years, go up even more. This reduces long and steep drawdowns and keeps your portfolio more balanced.

Simple example: Stocks can drop 50%, or even more. Even worse; they stay that low for years. Imagine if you had put $100K in only stocks, with no bonds. And you saw half your portfolio evaporate. Damn, that’s painful. Many investors cannot take that (psychologically), and they sell near the bottom. Which is the worst mistake one could make.

To prevent such human errors, bonds are very useful. They reduce volatility in your portfolio. If stocks drop 50% (and it will surely happen), your portfolio will be somewhat intact due to your bond allocation. Now the bonds won’t go up with exactly the amount that stocks went down. In other words; you’ll still suffer a temporary drawdown. But you’ll be much better off than your neighbor who is 100% invested in stocks. Meanwhile, you’re chiling and enjoying life. Because of your bonds.

Now one important thing about bonds is this: A lot of people will tell you that you are stupid for buying bonds, because they don’t yield anything anymore. They will use believable stories to try to convince you. But you should not listen to them. They are retarded. Bonds go up and down over time, and they serve a valuable function, even during times at which the interest rate are low (when bonds don’t pay you a lot).

Having said that, during a period with high inflation, interest rates could rise, which would bring down all asset prices, including those bonds which were meant to protect you during a drawdown. We will cover this in the next part of the article. So the 60/40 portfolio isn’t “perfect” and doesn’t always work as intended. Still, a 60/40 portfolio will do very well over long periods of time with smaller drawdowns

Pros: Less volatility than 100% stocks, you’ll probably be up each year
Cons: A 100% stocks portfolio will probably outperform over long timeframes of multiple decades (assuming zero human interference)

All Weather portfolio
There are some rare circumstances in which both stocks and bonds fall in lockstep. When does this happen? Well, it can happen during an inflationary period. That’s when prices of consumer goods are rising. To combat rising prices, the central bank can increase interest rates. Higher interest rates work like gravity; they bring all asset prices down. That includes stocks, bonds, real estate, and practically everything else.

But, there is one asset class that will go up a lot, especially during an inflationary period where higher interest rates drag down everything else. That asset class is.. *drumroll* .. Commodities. Commodities are raw materials used as input to produce (more useful) final goods. Think of wheat, iron, copper, and other stuff that factories need to produce the shit we end up buying. So by simply adding commodities into our portfolio, we could partly protect ourselves from suffering drawdowns during an inflationary period. Mind you that our stocks and bonds would still decline, but our commodity allocation would rise and partly make up for it. Just add 7.5% commodities and rebalance quarterly.

Now, you might ask, why doesn’t everyone always include commodities in their portfolio? Good question. That’s because commodities generally lose money. Remember that they are quite literally commodities. Including commodities reduces your overall profit in the end, but it also reduces the drawdowns during your decades-long investment journey in which you might suffer one or two inflationary periods. And that will help you achieve the goal of sticking to the strategy and to stay invested. It reduces the chance of human error, just like bonds do in the 60/40 portfolio.

Finally, we’ll also add 7.5% gold. Why gold? Currencies can crash. Even the major ones that you think won’t crash during your lifetime, could crash at some point. Gold is an asset class that more or less keeps its value over long periods of time, regardless of the currency it’s denominated in.

The key point about the All-Weather portfolio is that the commodities and gold serve as a hedge, which is just a fancy term for insurance. And insurance costs a little bit of money. But also allows you to sleep better knowing certain things are insured.

Pros: does well in all climates
Cons: will likely underperform the 60/40 and 100% stocks portfolio over long timeframes

Conclusion
When people ask me what to invest in, these are the only three things I can truly recommend to my beloved friends and family. Surely, some people made it big betting the farm on Tesla stock, or in some random shitcoin. But you only hear of the winners. These three portfolios are what’s been making a lot of regular people a fuckton of money. They are effective and foolproof.

If this article helped you, feel free to share it with your friends.

October, 2022

Take the landpill: Thoughts on Georgism and a land tax

I was reading about the economics of land during the COVID pandemic. I think some ideas about land are underrated. This essay contains a brief summary of what I’ve learned

  • A house doesn’t just go up in value, it’s always the land underneath it
  • Houses are depreciating assets, and require costly maintenance to maintain (or increase) their value
  • Land sucks up much of the economic surplus that is created in an area
  • When people’s productivity goes up, most of the value-add will be vacuumed not into the pockets of the workers, but rather into the pockets of passive land-owners, who will just raise rents accordingly
  • A long time ago, there was a self-thought economist who popularized the idea of a land value tax to combat land-owners sucking up much of the economic surplus that’s generated by hard-working people, his name was Henry George
  • Such a land tax simply means that land owners pay taxes on the land they own
  • Henry George wanted to remove all other taxes, and only have a single tax; the land value tax
  • In and near most urban areas, you could find empty plots of land that are completely unused
  • If you own an empty plot of land, you’ll notice that the price is always going up together with the productivity of the local economy. And because the price is going up, you won’t be in a rush to sell it to someone who wants to put it to use
  • A land tax will incentivize people to not own any land they aren’t using
  • Society could incentivize putting empty plots of land to use by taxing the land. This will push land owners to either sell it or rent it out to someone who has a use for it
  • Once you take the landpill, you start noticing land everywhere, and empty plots of land in areas where economic activity is high are especially noticable.
  • If you would like to learn more about this subject, I recommend three books
    • Progress and Poverty by Henry George (classic book but it’s written in old English)
    • Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins (best book in my opinion)
    • Hoe Ik Toch Huisjesmelker Werd by Hans de Geus (excellent book if you speak Dutch)
August, 2022

Peer pressure as a logical fallacy

Be mindful of people who resort to sentences like:

“We all know that x”
“All scientists believe in x”
“It’s common knowledge that x”
“Just lol if you believe anything other than x”

Instead of crafting a proper argument using logic and reason, they’re trying to make you feel ostracized for your beliefs.

This can be a powerful tactic in getting others to self-censor their beliefs, even if they’re right. Most normies care a lot about how they are perceived by others. And humans have evolved to behave in ways that are socially accepted.

In fact, most people would rather say something that is false but raises their status, than something that is true but lowers their status.

July, 2022

In defense of Times New Roman

I changed the design of my theme once again, and made it look even more minimal than it’s been before.

The most important part of this website is the content. So if I’m going to spend any time improving this website, I’m forcing myself to channel that energy into writing rather than optimizing the appearance and the CSS (which I love to do).

So, enough is enough. I’m just sticking with Times New Roman. No more endless optimizations when there’s barely even anything written on my website. First, I’m just going to write random shit that I want to express. Anything’s better than nothing. That’s my current mantra. Secondly, I’m hoping my writing will get better with time. And maybe then some people will actually read it.

But I will admit that it’s a bit ironic that I’ve been learning CSS for 20 years, only to finally arrive at a theme that is nearly void of it. Alas.

June, 2022

Bitcoin cannot be used, it can only be exchanged

People regularly confuse use value for exchange value. Here’s some examples of actually using something.

Things with use value:
Milk – You can drink it
House – Live in it
Smartphone – Chat with friends and browse the web
Clothes – You wear it

Things without use value:
Fiat money – Nothing,  it’s just a medium of exchange
Bitcoin – Nothing (and it’s barely used as a medium of exchange anymore)

Like Bitcoin, fiat money has no use value. It other words, fiat money has no intrinsic value. Take the US dollar. The dollar bill itself cannot be used for anything. And a $1 bill has the exact same use value as a $100 bill; both zero. They’re just rectangles of paper. You can’t use it as a Post-It because it’s already covered with print. In fact, you wouldn’t even want to wipe your ass with it. The only thing you can do with a Dollar is exchange it for a good or service. And that’s fine. Because currency does not need intrinsic value for it to lend itself to being a medium of exchange.

Finally, a rule of thumb to assess this: To see if something has use value, simply ask yourself this: “Would people still want to buy it if they could never ever sell it?” For many things, the answer is yes. Think of houses, paintings, chairs, televisions, and even dividend stocks.. But if the answer is no, then it probably has no use value, and people are mostly buying it for its exchange value.

So in a nutshell; do not confuse use value for exchange value. Thank you.

June, 2022

Books reviews

This page is, in theory, constantly updated. In practice, I rarely ever update it because I forget. This page was last updated in April 2023.

The Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins

This book explains how genes are basically immortal survival machines. To clarify: Genes build bodies in order to make copies of themselves and survive over long periods of time. Our bodies will eventually die. But if our genes can get us to have children, then they live on. Genes are a set of instructions for how to build a body. And the better the instructions, the more immortal the genes will be. Genetics explains much of our behavior. Such as why we have sex, and why sex feels good. Why the offspring of pair-bonded parents (love as we call it) do better in some social animals. Why ducks get a handful of children per pregnancy, while humans get just one. And why there’s altruism and collaboration baked into many successful species. I read this book at the age of 17. At that time I still believed that there must be some sort of a God to explain the perplexities of nature. Needless to say, this book shook me to my core.

Flash Crash: A Trading Savant, a Global Manhunt, and the Most Mysterious Market Crash in History
by Liam Vaughan
A few years ago financial markets in New York had a steep, sudden decline. On the other side of the world in the UK, there was a lonely Indian guy named Navinder Sarao (or Nav) who lived in a shitty neighborhood surrounded by crack addicts and criminals. Nearly no one knew that he was an incredibly wealthy stock trader. The author did a lot of investigative research and spoke to everyone except for Nav himself (he’s very private and somewhat autistic). I couldn’t stop reading this book, I read it all day, and during my short work breaks. It was digestible and well-written.

The Psychology of Money
by Morgan Housel
Full of interesting history lessons about stock markets and wealth and the biases about it in the media and our psyche.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
This is an interesting book about the daily habits of historical figures. Think presidents, authors, scientists, painters, etc. Each chapter covers a short summary with the person’s daily habits. Some start the day walking their dog, while another person eats breakfast with their wife. Some force themselves into a pattern of work, while others wait for weeks until inspiration strikes them. I did not recognize any patterns or even commonalities, except for this one weird thing: chainsmoking. A surprisingly high amount of people covered in this book were chain smokers. Many mentioned that smoking helped them think, write, and see things clearly.

The Big Short
A lot of retards call Michael Burry a “one-hit wonder” because Burry predicted and made money off of the subprime crisis in 2008. Such people should forget about the film and read the book. The book goes into a lot of interesting details, including juicy personal information about Burry’s life, his hedge fund, its clients, and everything else. If you don’t want to read it, the most important thing to know about it is that Burry autistically dove into detailed filings of mortgage bonds and was the first to conclude that they were time bombs waiting to explode. He then figured out the perfect way to bet against them. He didn’t short housing stocks. That would be super expensive. Burry’s methods have a surgical precision to them that is detailed in the book. He contacted big banks to craft a customized version of the Credit Default Swap (CDS), just for him. None of this was luck. The book also covers other investors who copied his trade, and numerous other highly successful investments that Burry had made long before his subprime bet. For example, during a multi-year downmarket in the early 2000s, Burry’s fund was making 40% per year.

Investing for Dummies
Forget about The Intelligent Investor and read Investing for Dummies. All the vital information is well explained. I’ve carried the lessons with me all my life. This should be the first book that an investor picks up. It wouldn’t even hurt for some experienced investors, or people who have no interest in investing at all, to read this book. Disclaimer: I read the Dutch version as a teenager. The English version is written by a different author and I’ve never read it. Still, I trust the for Dummies brand to always do a good job!

Nomad Capitalist
A book about investing around the world, leaving the West, and going where you are treated best. Lots of interesting stories. I honestly can’t stand the guy on YouTube, but his book is well-articulated, digestible, and fun to read for any international-minded person.

The Price of Time
A book about interest rates. Contains many fascinating stories about debt and interest from hundreds, even thousands of years ago. Also busts some popular myths about interest in the modern day era.

The Hidden Habits of Genius
Looks into the daily lives of many geniuses. Early in the book, it makes an important distinction between famous people and geniuses. Not everyone who’s skilled and famous is necessarily a genius. It goes on to reveal how many geniuses have troubled personal lives, traumatic childhoods and developed a critical mind.

Pragmatic Capitalism
An excellent primer on investing and economics. Highly underrated book. I recommend it not only to beginners, many “advanced” investors will pick up valuable insights from this book.

The Dangerous Passion
A fascinating book solely focuses on sexual jealousy in relationships.

Elon Musk biography by Ashlee Vance
If you hate Elon Musk and believe his success is solely due to his privilege and his father “owning an emerald mine”, read this book and you’ll have your ideas shattered.

Option Greeks in Plain English
An excellent explainer for options traders. Easy to understand. Read it from cover to cover within an hour or two.

The Intelligent Investor
Most overrated book in investing. Skip it. People only talk about it because they think it makes them feel smart. In fact, if you read it, you realize that the author repeatedly says “None of this stuff works anymore since we published the book.”.. If you read it, you realize how its strategies no longer work, as admitted by the authors. Markets have simply become far more efficient for most normies to find an edge. I think Alpha is out there to be made, but it’s not from reading this book. Read whatever books that other investors are not reading to get your edge.

P.S. Dit is vertrouwelijk
by Gerard Spong & Peter R De Vries (Dutch)
A Dutch book that contains an exchange of letters between a criminal lawyer and a crime reporter, both well-known in their respective fields. Their emails are written so poetically, making mundane topics enjoyable to read. They ask each other questions and share their perspectives on topics such as being threatened by criminals, and which climate they prefer (the lawyer prefers cold while the journalist prefers tropical).

The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley
A book about how people deal with sudden trauma, like car accidents of near-death experiences. Spoiler: it changes them.

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne
Excellent book on poverty. The main premise is that poverty is not merely caused by a lack of money. It’s almost always caused by a lack of other resources besides money. Such as living near family, and having good role models who can guide you through school and relationships. Having a support network of people to rely on in case your car breaks down, you need help with taxes, etc.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Excellent and enjoyable read on the history of humankind. People say it’s overrated but they only say so to look smart, as if they’re far ahead of this book. They’re not. The book is great and you should read it.

The Permanent Portfolio
A book about a type of portfolio that reduces drawdowns, and prints money year after year, regardless of what phase of the economic cycle we’re in. The portfolio is simple: 25% stocks, 25% long-term treasuries, 25% gold, and 25% cash.

Shook one by Charlamagne Tha God
A book full of stories about he was a “pussy nigga”. Extremely funny and honest book in which the author (a black American who grew up in the ghetto) writes down all the stories in which he was a pussy, a chicken-shit. In his subculture, no one shows their anxiety. To do so is to instantly lower your status and make yourself a target for aggressive people who will attack you. Hats off to Charlamagne for writing the most honest and funny book in hip-hop culture.

Debt by David Graeber
Fascinating book on the history of debt. I sometimes doubt the neutrality of the author, but it’s nonetheless an excellent book. It blackpilled me on the lack of humanity on debt. For example; African dictators sometimes steal lots of tax money for themselves and then park it in their own Swiss bank accounts. Then the country gets in trouble because their dictator stole all the tax funds, and the country will have to get a loan from the IMF.

Currency Wars
I finished it. It contained a few interesting stories about how currencies are or could be manipulated, the fiat standard, and other historic events and how they affected a country’s currency. Can’t recommend the book tbh. Also, to save yourself time, here’s a summary of the book in just two words: Buy gold.

Hoe ik toch huisjesmelker werd
by Hans de Geus (Dutch)
This book is written by a Dutch economist and explains why housing prices have skyrocketed in the last 20 years. It’s mostly due to the financialization of housing, whereby properties are considered investments, rather than a basic human need. Declining interest rates have added gasoline to the fire. Bad government policy is also a factor. In the Netherlands, mortgage owners get subsidized. Every Dutch taxpayer is essentially subsidizing homeowners, which in turn has driven prices up even further. A double whammy that caused extreme wealth inequality. Long ago, the author himself applied to get a mortgage to finally buy his own house. But the banks rejected him due to his shaky income as a freelance economics reporter. He learned he could still get a mortgage, on the condition that he didn’t live in the house himself, but rented it out instead. That’s because banks consider rental income to be a steady and stable income stream. He feared dying in poverty while leaving nothing to his children. So the author went on to buy several rental properties.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Enjoyable read on the irrationalities and biases in human behavior. I think much of what the book explains is already well-known by most rationalists, but there are still some nuggets to be found. He goes into the psychology of pricing (in real estate, and other things) and how strong the placebo effect is in medicine, even among surgical procedures which doctors are still performing today, against all the evidence showing it’s placebo. But he also covers many, more trivial, day-to-day manners like how people perceive the food they’re eating. To give an example, when wanting to impress a group of guests who come over for dinner, Ariely recommends serving buffalo instead of beef. Blind tests show that people cannot tell the difference, but “buffalo” sounds classier. He also recommends telling your guests beforehand that you’ll be serving buffalo because this pre-knowledge is critical for your guests’ mental enjoyment of the food. Furthermore, he says to add exotic and fashionable-sounding ingredients. Do not tell your guests you’ll be serving “tomato and goat cheese salad”. Instead, say “a melange of fresh roma cherry tomatoes, and crips field greens, paired with a warm circle of chevre in a fruity raspberry vinaigrette”. He also explains this is why culinary schools so much time on teaching the artful presentation of food, rather than how to cook and fry it deliciously. Lastly, he recommends trying this for yourself; the next time you order take-out, just remove the styrofoam packaging and then place the food in beautiful-looking dishes, which will make all the difference.

Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier
A book about today’s craze that transgender people go through. She calls it rapid-onset gender dysphoria. If you are interested in this subject (regardless on your stance), I highly recommend this book.

Excellent Advice for Living by Kevin Kelly
Kevin Kelly is an American boomer who co-founded Wired magazine. He has written a few blogposts with wise quotes and thoughts relating to any aspect of life. You can read this book in one go, within an hour or two, as it’s simply a collection of short quotes. And you should.

July, 2021

A simple habit to start drinking lots of water

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to start drinking water. I never drank water, because I felt it had no taste. When I drank something, it was usually Coca-Cola or some other unhealthy shit. I wanted to change this. So I developed a simple rule that turned out to be highly effective. I’m sharing my rule in case it helps anyone else.

My rule: There must always be a bottle of water on my desk. And this bottle of water can never, ever be empty. As soon as it’s empty, I have to get up to refill it.

I added another bottle of water on my nightstand near my bed, for which the same rule applies.

That’s it. That’s the rule.

Notice how the rule doesn’t say anything about having to drink the water. My rule allows me to go a year without even touching it. I’ve found that, in practice, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to have water within reach without sipping from it throughout the day.

Another helpful bit is that I always leave my water bottles open, as shown in the picture. I never put the cap on, because having to unscrew it each time to take a sip would be another small hurdle. Easy access is the key here.

The end result of this rule is that I now drink 2 to 3 liters of water every day. And I actually love drinking water now, unlike before. For someone like me (who still eats loads of junk food and doesn’t care much about health), my habit of drinking lots of water seems out of character. All thanks to this simple rule. I’ll still have a can of coke at times, but not nearly as often as before.

April, 2021

How I survive 12 hour flights

I have developed some tricks that have helped me survive long flights. Here they are, in case they might help anyone else:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
    I’m sensitive to noise so this is a life-saver. The engines on long-haul flights are way louder than on short-haul flights.
  • Choose a seat far from the wings
    This reduces the irritating high pitch noise coming from the engines
  • Offline playlist in Spotify
    Include tons of music and podcasts.
  • Pay for Wifi
    If you can afford it, pay the $30 or whatever it is for unlimited WiFi. It will be slow, but it will be worth it.
  • Dress comfortably
    No jeans. Wear jogging pants or whatever you like. And bring a sweater, for when the plane gets cold
  • Shoes off
    I take my shoes off the moment I sit down in my seat. Having your shoes on that long gets uncomfortable.
  • Random toilet visits
    I go there even if I don’t need to pee. I just sit by myself, relax, and wash my hands for refreshment. Just to switch the setting around.
  • Books
    Load up your phone with EPUBs of books you’ve been wanting to read.
  • Free extra food
    If the meals they serve weren’t enough, just go to the stall (at the end of the airplane) and tell the stewardess that you’re hungry, ask for drinks, sandwiches, whatever you want. They will give it to you for free.
  • Bring snacks
    Buy a Big Mac before boarding the plane, and eat it whenever you want. Bring chocolate and other snacks.
  • Sit/sleep wherever the fuck you want
    If the plane is half-empty, go walk around and choose a new seat wherever you want. Like a window seat, or take three seats, put up the armrest and stretch out for a nap. Do not ask the stewards if it’s OK to switch seats, they might say no. But if you do it without asking, they won’t give a fuck.

February, 2021

Confidence comes from positive reinforcement

Confidence is a rare commodity. It grows organically after positive reinforcement. Without positive reinforcement, there can be no confidence.

People who say otherwise, generally conflict fake confidence for the real thing. Fake confidence can backfire as a wise person can see right through your bullshit.

Luckily, you can do things that lead to positive reinforcement, on whatever subject you’re insecure about. A world-class kickboxer might feel confident in the ring, yet nervous when filing his taxes. His accountant might feel anxious talking to hot girls. And a womanizer might feel retarded trying to learn web development.

As long as you’re willing to adopt a beginner’s mindset and keep learning and iterating, you will become better at whatever you’re doing. And once you experience enough positive reinforcement, your confidence will grow naturally.

February, 2021