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Thoughts on Nationalism

Joachim asks a good question in the comments -

I’d be interested in an expanded version of your thoughts on nationalism. My perspective is quite different – global problems require global solutions – but then you’re from the “USA! USA!” while my continent has been devastated by two world wars (more recently, consider e.g. the troubles in Yugoslavia.)

I think nationalism is like a catalyst or accelerator - it makes a place go more in the direction it's currently going. During a renaissance, nationalism makes more people excited to try new things, explore, invent, and expand. During a recovery period, nationalism encourages solidarity, a helping hand, and backing each other up instead of just feeling defeated.

It cuts both ways - in a beaten down, embarrassed nation that's paying reparations to the other side, nationalism really makes that anger and hostility get explosive - that's what Hitler whipped up. On the other hand, nationalism among the allies helped them carry on strongly, survive, and triumph. Keep calm and carry on...

Nationalism in North Korea translates to more loyalty to the insane regime, whereas nationalism in South Korea means hard work, modernization, and a high quality of life.

The Work Computer/Play Computer Setup -- By Force

One of the largest productivity gains I ever got was going to a work computer / play computer setup.

I'd read about Paul Graham implementing it, and a few other people I respect. So when I switched over to Mac, I kept my old Toshiba for surfing the net and otherwise screwing around, and would only work or do work-like things on the Mac.

It worked well.

Not only was I more productive, I was happier. And I mean, really truly happier across the board. In the moment-by-moment, I was either fully disengaged and feeling good about it after working or when deciding to take a break. And when I was working, I focused. When I got to a hard problem, I kept going and pushed through it. It produced both more calm and more triumph. It was a good thing.

But then... eventually, things start to crack. And once they do, it's hard to get the magic up.

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