Got a question asking my take on getting a PhD. Well, that's not my field, but here's my take -
I don't have much of a background in academia, but I have some friends who do and some general thoughts. Actually, I got two thoughts for you if you go on to go for a PhD.
1. Study exactly what requirements are needed, and study the background of people who have gotten a PhD successfully and have written about it.
A lot of people try to reinvent the wheel or otherwise don't have a plan, thus leading to the tragedy and horror you talk about. This is just generally good advice anyways - understand the rules/parameters going in, and understand and model someone who has done it successfully.
2. Go for it as fast as possible. Prioritize quantity over quality in the beginning.
So my "Word of the Year" for 2011 is Cryptomnesia. This is one of the most fascinating things I've read about. Wikipedia:
Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognised as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration.
There was a group of guys I played Dungeons and Dragons with when I was around 13-16 years old. One had a drow (dark elf) fighter, and he started a guild that he called "The Order of the Ebon Hand."
Later on, the guy running the game finds out there's a Magic: The Gathering card called... Order of the Ebon Hand.
Anyway, the guy with the guild, he swore up and down he'd come up with the name originally and never seen the card before. What a crazy coincidence, he says.
Had a good correspondence with a reader recently, who mentioned that he's got the, "If you're so smart, how come you ain't rich?" thing going on.
My reply -
Well, I think intelligence isn't the only thing. Maybe not even the most important thing. I'd rank -
*Effectiveness *Desire *Consistency/persistence
all higher than intelligence for tangible success.
This post by Douglas Ingram is exceptional:
Lessons in Entrepreneurship via the Lemonade Stand
It came up on my Google Alerts, and, wow, it's got to be one of the coolest things I've seen this year. And I've seen a lot of cool this year, so that's saying something.
Douglas's whole approach is really, really cool. Some excerpts:
We use the Dave Ramsey school of thought with our daughter. Each week she gets a small allowance that she allocates (her choice) to four different envelopes (a) spend (b) save (c) invest (d) donate.
One of the greatest joys in the world is the iron gym.
What's an iron gym? It's hard to describe. It's easier to say what it's not.
An iron gym isn't a fancy fitness club. An iron gym doesn't offer jazzercise. An iron gym doesn't have wooden panelling and beautiful adornment. An iron gym doesn't have awesome, clean bathrooms. An iron gym's locker room is spartan, at best. An iron gym has mostly free weights, with very few machines. An iron gym isn't a place to mingle with the opposite sex. An iron gym doesn't offer yoga or other classes. An iron gym has no amenities, niceties, or anything like. An iron gym is usually obscure, with nothing special in real estate. It's often in a basement. An iron gym doesn't have a salesman to give you a tour of the place and show you around, doesn't ask for a one year commitment to join, or anything like that. An iron gym doesn't have fancy membership cards, swipe-in/swipe-out, or anything like that. You just show up and nobody hassles you.
So what's an iron gym? It's a spartan, bare bones place with free weights and a few very basic machines. It's often dirty and disorganized. There's no classes offered there. There's almost never women in an iron gym, if you go every day for an hour you'll maybe see a woman once a week. Maybe.
And I fucking love it. I love being at an iron gym. It's just a place to push iron. There's no posturing, no showing off, nothing like that. If you need a spot, someone will give you a spot. Everybody's cool. People don't talk too much, don't socialize too much. Nobody's doing business or trying to get a date or trying to move up the social hierarchy. There's just one thing there. Iron. And you lift and it's good.
Wikipedia has become one of the dominant pillars of the internet and a shining success of knowledge. And on Wikipedia, "Citation Needed" makes sense - because they're trying to build an encyclopedia with references.
Some people don't seem to get that the entire world isn't an encyclopedia.
When you're having a discussion somewhere online, replying to something you dislike with "Citation Needed" is usually counterproductive to good discussion.
Yes, sometimes citation is needed. Especially if something seems off. But here's some guidelines to not looking stupid when you're having a discussion -
1. Do at least one Google search before saying "citation needed" - if there's clear support on your first google search, it's a fact you don't know, not some craziness from your discussion opponent.
I might have cracked the procrastination nut.
One of the things that's plagued me for years is that a heavy, intense period of doing lots of good stuff is frequently followed by a crash.
The crash partially negates the gains from having a good period. If you put in an excellent, intense four days of creative work, that's good. But if you can't look at your work and projects for half a week afterwards, you negate some of that progress as compared to just slowly, steadily putting in time.
What's worse is that, for me, the crashes tended to be full-on, nothing-valuable-happening. I don't mean not working. I mean nothing valuable. When I'd crash, I'd usually not be reading good books, spending time in nature on the beach, or whatever. It'd be more like getting into high stimulation distraction, where it sucks your time without giving you anything back. Without even recharging you, even.
So, I started looking at how crashes come on.
Even if you never set foot in a gym your whole life, you owe it to yourself to read "The 80/20 Rule of Lifting" -
The value of the 80/20 rule is that it reminds you to focus on the 20% that matters. You should identify and focus on these things. So in bodybuilding, what are they? I would say that the 20% that matters includes:
Which basically means: Train. Eat. Rest. Repeat. Week in and week out. Focusing on the basics will give you 80% of your results.
So if that's the important 20%, what's the 80% that's trivial? Well in my opinion it's details like these:
Etc. Etc. Etc. Honestly, that stuff doesn't make a difference. Or rather, if it does it makes a relatively small difference (20%); or only makes a difference for a relatively small few who are at the limits of their physical development. For most of us average Joes, it just doesn't matter!
Some good replies to the post "Conflict of Interest: On Confidence, and Confidence."
One of things that stood out to me is how a couple commenters assumed that because they're reasonable, other people should also be reasonable. I mean, if a doctor checks something carefully in a reference book in front of me, I think that's a good thing. You probably do too.
But many people don't think that way.
A lot of people have unrealistic expectations of the world, especially of professionals like doctors.
There was a brilliant comment by Kate Johnson, who is a veterinarian. Kate writes -
BMW Welt website.
Simon Payne, a regular reader of the site and quite a cool guy, is going to be in Munich on the 16th of May (3 days from now). He asked what to do there? I said - BMW World.
It's really, really cool. I like factories and machines anyways, and touring the factory you get to see this marvelously amazing German system of work. Excellent craftsmanship, attention to detail, safety, precision. It's really amazing, inspiring stuff.
If you're in Munich or going to go to Munich, it's highly recommended. Simon will be there on Monday if you want to grab a coffee or tour the factory with him - cost is 8 euros, and if I remember correctly they give you some nice snacks and drinks with that anyways.