Thoughts on: ‘The Accidental President’ by A. J. Baime

I was going to get a biography of Winston Churchill and ended up with this book (some people don’t read the backside of a book before they buy it, I apparently don’t even read the front cover 😂).

I have this idea that I want would like to read a biography from each american presidents but I think I like the idea of having done it is more appealing than the process itself. 🙃

📝 Truman was Vice President when Franklin Roosevelt died. He was put in office in what might be the most eventful year of recent political history; 1945.

📝 Franklin Roosevelt famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

📝 Truman about the presidential workload: “It takes about 17 hours a day and then you get as much sleep as you can. Start over again and do the next 17 hours as best you can. No man can do it as it should be done.”

📝 He gave the order to use the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

📝 He started reading at age 5 and read a lot. He studied the heroes of history and was a fan of Plutarch. (Who I’m yet to read…)

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I noticed how clueless I am about how events during this period relate to each other in space and time:

– The defeat of Germany vs. the time of The Bomb.

– How things lead up to the Cold War.

– The raise of Mao.

– When Roosevelt was replaced with Truman. (I didn’t even know who was president at the time to be honest).

Of course I learned all of this in school. But this book highlighted how much of the knowledge has been warped or plainly forgotten. I’ll definitely spend more time with historical biographies in 2019!

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The book is good but, as with most political biographies, I find them getting tedious at times. Like the Marvel movies, I enjoy the raise of the hero/president better than the confrontation with the bad guy.

Which is you favorite biography of a world leader?

3/5

Photo credit: @socialworxpr (Instagram)

Thoughts on: ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’ by Donald Robertson

I have adopted many powerful principles the last couple of years that increased my baseline happiness levels. One of the big ones, second only to learning to stop giving a shit about what people might think of me and what I do (still W.I.P 😉) ,is the Stoic idea of being indifferent to thing that are not under ‘our direct control’.

The weather, death, traffic, other people, outcome of soccer games, train delays, sickness, international politics etc..

So much anger, anxiety and frustration has been avoided since I fully committed to this principle. What a great source of fulfillment and tranquility!

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This book does a great job summarizing Stoic philosophy! Here’s some notes:

  • Mindfulness of what is up to us and what’s not is one of the main remedies for emotional suffering.

  • Set you intentions each morning and evaluate how you did each evening. Where did you act virtuously and where did you miss the mark? Review your actions and evaluate you conduct.

  •  ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them’ – Epictetus

  • Novice Stoics should begin by training themselves each day:

1️⃣ To endure what they irrationally fear, or find aversive, with courage and perseverance.

2️⃣ To renounce, or abstain from, what they irrationally crave, through discretion and self-discipline.

  • Outcome independence: The goal of a Sage (the Stoics ideal) would not be to benefit others, which is beyond his control, but rather simply do his best to benefit them. Like an archer firing a arrow, his work is done when he has done his best, weather or not he hit his target.

This is a great book (even excellent if you ignore its repetitive textbook nature) that provides a great overview of Stoicism. It’s also full of exercises on how to apply the philosophy to everyday life.

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I still think Irvine’s ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is the best starting point if you are curious about Stoicism (link in BIO). Which you should be! It’s an fascinating and very practical philosophy!

What principles have you picked up during the last couple of years that had major impact on your life?

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “Think Like a Freak” by Levitt & Dubner

📝 Experiments: “It fun! Once you embrace the world of experimentation the world becomes a sandbox in which to try new ideas, ask new questions and to challenge the current orthodoxies.” 👌🏻

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📝 “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.”

There is a gap between the incentives people say they care about, and those that ACTUALLY changes their behavior. (Money and being like everyone else are powerful incentives, but we don’t like to admit it).

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⚖️ VERDICT:

The book is filled with entertaining examples of how one can benefit from thinking unconventionality and out of the box, but as a whole it’s very shallow. If you want to improve your ‘ruling faculty’ you should read these instead:

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🔥‘Influence’ by Cialdini

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🔥 ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by D. Kahneman

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY & 💭 THOUGHTS:

The book talks about knowing when to quit something and when to stick with it. Due to the Sunk cost fallacy we are prone to continue to spend money and time on endeavors we are already heavily invested in. Consider the the opportunity cost (what you have to give up in order to choose something else.) of what you do every now and then!

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A while ago I quit studying Chinese. I was very serious about it and I spent some good money on teachers, books and language apps. But the biggest investment was in time. It was really hard to quit after hundreds of hours of practicing Hanzi characters and tunes (Chinese is not only hard to write, its impossible to pronounce too 😈). The sunk cost fallacy was strong. But it would be insane to continue, since I would probably have to study for the rest of my life to reach the level of a Chinese 5-year-old, and by that time everyone will probably have a Babel fish in their ears translating in real-time anyway.

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So I quit! The opportunity cost was too high. I had too many other interest to pursue. I don’t regret it one bit!

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What are you happy you quit? 🤔 Let’s make quitting sexy again! 😉

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Photo credit: @ha77on (Instagram)

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2/5

Thoughts On: ‘On the Shortness of life’ by Seneca

A brief essay on the the duration of life. And about why most people think it’s too short, when it’s actually long enough to if the time is used properly.

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Seneca is a stoic philosopher (4. BC – 65 AD. I won’t go into into much detail about what a stoicism is, since there will be a lot other opportunities to dwell into that in upcoming post (judging from what I’m reading right now). With a risk of oversimplifying, I like how Nassim Taleb put it: “A stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one that says “fuck you” to faith”

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“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficient measure to allow us to achieve the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested…” “…we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

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So, how do people waste their life? By gossiping, overindulgence in food and sex, living life for others (work a job you hate), complaining, etc.

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Also worrying about the future or letting the past disturb ones tranquility. Then, when we find out that these things are unimportant, we only have a few years left to live and wonder where all the time has gone.

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“He who has grey hair has not lived for long, he has existed for long.”

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Being written 2000 years ago, it’s amazing how almost all these thoughts are applicable to contemporary society. ———————————–

My takeaway from this book is to be more protective of my time and be wise in how I spend it. A sad thing would be to spend your life doing things you dislike with a promise of leisure and freedom in the future. Wasting each day as it comes for a future that one are is certain to live to see.

5/5

Thoughts on: “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

At the age of 6 the narrator abandoned his favorite hobby; drawing. Grownups kept mistaking his depiction of Boa Constrictors who swallowed entire elephants, for drawings of hats… 🐍 🐘

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“Grownups never understand anything by themselves and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again”.

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The narrator puts drawing to the side and instead becomes a pilot. After a dramatic crash landing in the Sahara desert he runs into a young boy that he refers to as The little prince. The boy shares his life story with the narrator. He tells tales about his interplanetary travels where he visited all kinds of weird and narrow minded people. All of the grownups, all of them very serious, all of them deeply irrational.

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📝 “Anything essential is invisible to the eye”

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📝“It’s the time you spend on your rose that make your rose so important”

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📝 “You are responsible forever for what you tamed.”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

This book is a great reminder of the foolishness of being so serious all the damn time. Grownups often have an inability to perceive what is really important. Children on the other hand can often see things more clearly.

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Reading this book reminds me of a great quote from Nietzsche: “A mans maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play”.

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I’m going to buy this book in Swedish and read it as a bedtime story together with my son.👌🏻 🤴 it’s short, sweet and quite wonderful!

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What is your favorite children’s book?

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Photo credit: @deepsnow_fromjp

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4/5

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Thoughts on Classics: “The Stranger – Albert Camus

The Stranger is presented as a first person narration by Monsieur Meursault. A man who get imprisoned for shooting “an Arab” on a beach.

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It’s a quick read, somewhat depressing, and very absurd. I like it! Especially thought provoking is the fact that Meursault excepts to be judged for his crime (murder) but is instead is judged by his character because he did not cry at his mothers funeral and the fact that he was seeing a comedy at the cinema the day after his mother’s death.

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Reading it gives me a sense of unease as I’m are used to sympathize with the main character. Meursault don’t care about being likable. Another striking thing about this books is Meursault detached way of observing the world.

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Here is a conversation after his friend have been beating up a girlfriend of his:

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“Then he wanted to shoot a game of pool, and I just barely lost. Afterwards he wanted to go to a whorehouse, but I said no, because I don’t like that. So we took our time getting back, him telling me how glad he was that he’d been able to give the woman what she deserved. I found him very friendly with me and I thought it was a nice moment.”

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📝 The Classic beginning:

“Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the Home: “Mother deceased. Funeral Tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.”

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💭 Thought:

Haha, when I think about it, the way Monsieur Meursault expresses himself in this book is very similar to how I write in my journal. Short sentences. Very detached and emotionless. Giving small and big events the same weight. A journal entry could look like this: “My son took his first steps today. I need to eat more vegetables. Today I received The Stranger in the mail. Looking forward to reading it.”

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On the topic of baby steps; I’m taking my first stumbling steps into the world of classic literature. I feel it’s much harder to write about these types of books than non-fiction. Anyway.. I enjoy it!

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What are your favorite classics? Which one are wanting to read? 🤔

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4/5

 

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Thoughts on: “The Journey to the East” by Hermann Hesse

This short and sweet books became the next stop for my Hermann Hesse obsession.

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The story has magical, almost mystical feel to it. Almost impossible to understand at times, but we are being warned, that the story about to be told about the journey to the East, is an untellable story. It’s not just a journey in space, but also in time. It’s is also both biographical and fictional.

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The main character, H.H, loses touch with himself, his Being and his previously natural creativity. In an attempt to re-live past days of glory he sets out to write an account of his greatest adventure; his journey to the East with The League.

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The League is a secret society that he ones where part of, with roots going back thousands of years. Famous members including both real and fictional hotshots like Plato, Mozart, Pythagoras, Don Quixote, Puss in Boots, and the ferryman Vasudeva (from Siddhartha) just to name a few.

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”But no account of David (note: King David that is.) can prove to me that life is not just a game. That is just what life is when it’s beautiful and happy —- a game! Naturally, one can also do all kinds of other things with it, make a duty of it, or a battleground, or a prison, but that does not make it any prettier? Goodbye, pleased to have met you!”

– Leo to H.H in Journey to the East.

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It’s an honest and personal story about the cycle faith gained, lost and regained. The unending search for enlightenment.

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It didn’t grab me right away but when I got into it I couldn’t put it down before I reached the last page. Beautiful book!

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What should be my next Hesse book? 🤔Btw. Just ordered The Stranger by Camus. So expect more classic fiction going forward! 😊

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4/5

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The Bible of Fake News. Thoughts on “Trust me, I’m Lying”.


This book left me humbled. I thought I was on top of my media game and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I was wrong.

I knew the situation was bad, I even quit following “the news” 3 years ago because I thought it misrepresented reality to a larger degree than it represented it (and for the sake of my own my wellbeing), but Ryan Holidays confessions from his career as a media manipulator paints a darker picture than I could ever imagine.

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📝 The constraints of blogging create artificial content (shamings, planted stories, sensational speculations etc..), which is made real and impacts the outcome of real world events.

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📝 Trading up the chain: How to turn nothing into something! Send stories to small traffic hungry blogs with non-existing editorial standards and have them being picked up by bigger and bigger outlets until your fabricated story is national news.

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📝 “The world is boring, but the news is exciting. It’s a paradox of modern life.”

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📝 Top stories all polarize people. Threaten peoples belonging, belief or behavior and you will have a hit that will spreads!

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📝 The economics of the web has made it impossible to portray the complex situation of Detroit accurately. Photographs of abandoned houses was shared like crazy while photos of the same houses with it’s despairing residents included was “too sad to share”, creating less incentive for media. Simple narratives > complex realities.

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📝 On User Engagement: Provoke a person enough for them to be motivated to leave a comment. In the process of registering to be eligible to comment, a user has to go through up to 10 pageviews. That’s a lot of ads (and ad revenue!).

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Sensational and fearmongering headlines has always made me sad. Understanding the structure and constraints of click-based media is essential. These structure explains almost everything they do. It’s the nature of the system.

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

This book was really really hard for me to get into. I had a hard time to relating to the his story, and the politics and courtroom drama was a snooze for me. The only thing keeping me going with this book was that I felt is was important for me to familiarize with Nelson Mandela’s achievements in the lifelong struggle against apartheid. He was an extraordinarily man to say the least.

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📝 “Habit makes everything look bland; it is sleep-inducing. Jumping to a different perspective is a way of waking oneself up again.” This quote reminds me of Montaigne, who loved this perspective switching trick all the time in his writing.

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📝 “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor that defines the nature of the struggle.” After using all the tools of non-violent resistance – only to be beaten down hard – the AMC had to turn to violence and fight fire with fire.

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📝 After a successful term as president, he declined not to run again, this was to set an example of power being turned over to the next generation.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Resilience, Forgiveness and Perseverance. These are the traits I associate with Mandela. “We should forget the past and concentrating on building a better future for all”. His focus on the future and forgiveness – rather than revenge – hastened the abolition of apartheid, I think.

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I’m not regretting pushing myself through this tome of a book, quite the opposite, I feel like another missing puzzle piece in my history education is found and put in place.

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What booked bored you, but you felt reading it was important enough to keep going? 🤔

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3/5

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Are you Man Enough? Thoughts on: KING WARRIOR MAGICIAN LOVER

Do we face a crisis in masculine identity? This books claims that’s the case. The disintegration of traditional family systems being one reason – but it’s not whole story.

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There are two other factors:

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Lack of initiation into manhood leaves modern society to a dominance of Boy psychology.

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The other factor is patriarchy which is the expression of the immature masculine. What today is called patriarchy is really “puerarcy” (I.e the rule of boys) – like Lord of the flies! An expression of boy psychology and the shadow (crazy) side of mature masculinity. The authors see patriarchy as an attack on both masculinity and femininity in its fullest. Boys fear women and boys fear real men.

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So how do we deal with this? In lack of rituals we have to each find our own way to Man psychology and that’s the purpose of the book. To help us on our way by showing how to access the mature masculine energies.

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📝 For initiation rituals to work there needs to be a death. Effective, transformative initiation slays the ego. This is not the case for our modern initiations (I.e military, criminal gangs).

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📝 The Patriarchal male does not welcome full masculine and feminine development. The more beauty, maturity, creativity and generativity we display the more envy, and hate we generate in superiors and peers.

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📝 King, Warrior, Magician, Lover being the dominant masculine archetypes. We have all archetypes within us. Like board members we need to make all of them heard.

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📝 We can only admire others if we have a sense of our own worthiness.

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📝 Kings in the ancient world was often ritually killed when their ability to live out the King archetype began to fail.

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📝 If we are not secure enough in our inner structure, we will rely on our performance in the outer world to bolster our self confidence.

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TAKEAWAY:

By learning about the archetypes and their shadow versions we can assess them in ourself. I have a hard time imagining anyone reading this book without getting an aha- moment for sudden insights, whether it’s about yourself or people around you. Loved it!

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I posted my full notes on my site. (LINK IN BIO.)

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5/5

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Archetype are you most aligned with?

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