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Here's a video of Larry McEnerney from UChicago teaching about how to make your writing more valuable to the reader:

Normally, I don't watch videos when I want to learn something, but this one made a big impression on me. I've found the advice it offers at just the right level--not too low to lose sight of the big picture, but also not too high and abstract to confuse me. The gist of his message is to write with the reader in mind. The video offers advice how to do it, focusing specifically on text structure, which may be your biggest problem now.

Edit: Here's a link to the handout that goes with the class:

I read this book about 10 years ago and began working on the six progressions. At some point, when when I passed level 6 in one progressions, I would spice it up a bit with other exercises I found in books about gymnastics (eg. l-sits, dips, etc.). Nowadays, I still do the program with some modifications as a way to maintain fitness. I credit it with keeping me healthy and in good shape despite spending hours per day in front of the computer.

I've found that while the CC program is great for building strength, it's good to add in some yoga and cardio. Especially yoga, if you sit around a lot like me.

I've also thought about why I don't see more people doing calisthenics this way and came up with a few ideas:

  1. For most people calisthenics reminds them of gym class. This entails doing as many poor-form squats, pushups, and situps as possible. The idea of "progressions" is not widely known.
  2. Calisthenics are mostly done at home. In contrast, lifting weights in the gym provides not only a ritual (time, place, people), but also a community that can help motivate you to come in regularly, to measure progress against others, to make friends etc. This seems to have some improved with things like r/bodyweightfitness and more pull-up bars/dip-bars in parks, but there's very little of bodyweight fitness culture.
  3. Calisthenics, even gymnastics, doesn't reward the user with social-obvious signals like larger muscles or the ability to say "I lifted X pounds last weekend!". Few people know about pistol squats, diamond pushups, even fewer about planches or muscle ups.

Fascinating and enjoyable read. I put a few of the recommended books onto my to-read list. Thank you.

In your journey, I wonder if you've come across Buckminster Fuller and, if yes, what's your opinion on his ideas?

I ask this because I found Fuller's works at the same time I found Korzybski's. And while vastly different in theme and scope, they seemed to be underpinned by the same spirit--positive, human-centered, problem-solving--one I would label as "humanism."

Good point. I think my characterization was overly broad, where in my mind, I was picturing anonymous registration, eg. not checking identity at the gate, allowing anyone in, even multiple times.

Great post, thanks for sharing. I have been picking away at this area ("healthy communities") and one of my take-aways mirrors your conclusion that "safe & free" is the more correct choice and that "openness" is very risky. I see it as the need for strong, clear moderation as a force for setting and enforcing community norms. I have seen many web 1.0 forums dissolve into 4chan-like chaos due to lack of moderation. I've also seen software projects dissolve into an immobile mess when their community decided to only do "safe" and discard "free" completely.

A recent article by Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev about these topics points out that anonymity ("openness") creates problems. An example they bring up later, The Front Porch Forum, which has strong moderation rules, requires a real identity to sign up, and is limited to those who live in Vermont and parts of NY, is a great example of "safe & free" in action. This appears to be a growing trend, a reaction against the overpowering wave of social media, and I'm interested to see how it will play it out in the next few years.

I think the answer is: actually everything, minus a few odds and ends.

There are some things that are not available, mainly having to do with physical reality, like: hiking trails, suburban life, buildings as old as in some other places. But if it's something related to human culture, you'll find it. Food is the easiest dimension to talk about because it's everywhere, but if you're looking for art, history, books, NYC has you covered with multiple galleries, a museum it would easily take you a few days to get through, and the 4th largest library in the world. If you are searching for teachers or mentors, you'll find plenty of classes and workshops, including the very best ones. I was surprised that 2 or 3 of the best BJJ gyms in the world are located in Manhattan.

So, to answer your question, New York generally has everything you need to satisfy a curiosity. 

Your description of flavorless mush reminds me of my childhood in Eastern Europe. You would have seemingly randomly chosen vegetables boiled and combined into a mucky whole that tasted weird. Salt, pepper, sometimes sour cream or white vinegar were added. 

Only in my early 20s did I discover how great raw vegetables like carrots or cucumbers taste. Then I discovered hummus, then mustard/balsamic/nuts/cranberries/raisins. Just recently I rediscovered lettuce - who knew it tastes so good when it's fresh and crisp?

My pet theory is that most parents don't pay a lot of attention to cooking. It's something they must do to deliver nutrition to their offspring. This establishes defaults which don't work well for everyone and doesn't leave room for experimenting. I'm sure there are some people who love mush, but if you're a crispy-vegetable person in a family of mush-fans, you're out of luck. 

I will add "Never Split the Difference" by C. Voss to the recommendations.

While it's not a class, I found it shifted my thinking in a new direction. The book focuses heavily on concrete techniques, but after finishing it, I came to realize a deeper theme behind all the techniques: getting both sides to talk and reveal their preferences without shutting the door in someone's face. All of the "tricks" are meant to establish a channel (and keep it open) until both sides can figure out a price. 

This has also pushed my understanding of conflict from "argh, this means war" to "hey, this is an opportunity to learn what's important to you and me and figure out a way forward that we're both happy with."

I won't be negotiating any thing like a house, car, or salary any time soon. However, after reading this book, I believe I see little opportunities every day to exercise these skills, like when doing sprint planning or trying to dig deep into why a family member is opposed to some course of action. 


Thank you for both conducting this experiment as well as for writing it up in great detail.

How much study do you estimate someone would have to invest into biology (or biohacking) to at least understand what's going on here? What are some "genres" of biology someone could start looking into to understand this work?

This looks like a really interesting area to probe, but my current level of knowledge in biology ("1 year of high school biology classes") makes it difficult to even formulate questions or google queries about it.

I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing.

I recently went through Mark Xu's "CFAR training regime" sequence and I'm looking for ways to strengthen what I learned there and share it with other people. Your post and lesson plans give me lot of ideas to think through and try to practice in the future.

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