Interesting guy, Sulla. His Wikipedia page gives you a starting point, but you can't really grasp Sulla from an objective point of view. He did a lot of things in his life, and made a lot of enemies, and a lot of friends.
At any given point, he'll do something really awful and seemingly incredibly self-centered and unjustified, and he'll seem like a real terrible human being
And then he'll turn around and do something really magnificent, brave, generous, honest, and selfless.
Hard to make sense of him. To really get a grasp of him, you need to look at him from a mix of perspectives -- from the perspective of Mithradates, the King of Pontus who fought against him in bitter struggle, from the Marian faction, from contemporaries and recent historians, and from people looking back through various ages.
One of the more interesting statements by him is his last words -- he wrote his own epitaph when he knew he was dying --
"No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full."
Maybe the most interesting thing about Sulla is you always get the sense from him that he felt wholly in control of his own destiny at all times, and that things going wrong were temporary setbacks to be overcome. And he did. He overcame them all.
He did some inhumane and horrible things, and he did some magnificent and benevolent things. He's hard to make sense of. But he's worth studying up on just for the sheer force of will and gravity you get from learning about his life.
I. This post outlines Patrick McKenzie - a brilliant technologist and entrepreneur - how he's done such amazing things and learned so much, and why he's getting drastically underpaid and how it's his own fault. This post will be most valuable for technologists who underestimate themselves and undervalue themselves.
II. Hacker News is the best tech community on the internet, and patio11 - Patrick McKenzie - is the best contributor there. I don't even think that's controversial, I think it would be near universally agreed by the HN crowd that Patrick has made as many or more important contributions as anyone.
If you're from Hacker News, you know Patrick already. But for my readers that don't know him, let me give you a quick overview.
III. Patrick is a multi-faceted genius, and I don't throw the word genius around casually.
Patrick McKenzie is many things - he's an expatriate to Japan, he's a talented coder, tester, metrics/split-testing/analytics user, a great writer, extremely modest and helpful. He can recruit people, evaluate talent, and manage people well. He understands ROI very well and is good at purchasing advertising. He's good at customer service. Outsourcing. Automation. Coding. Ecommerce.
The whole idea behind TED Talks have been brought under heavy criticism recently. TED is a platform that has the slogan "Ideas Worth Spreading" and it seems to be only that. Many good ideas float around TED conferences, but little to nothing happens. The ideas of each talk are interesting, but eventually put in the back of people's heads without any action being taken. So, I want to try to take an idea from a TED Talk and actually do something with it.
I recently watched this TED Talk by British hip hop artist Akala. In it, he discuses the origins of hip hop. It started off as a platform for musicians to transmit ideas, to transmit knowledge. Rappers are modern versions of Shakespeare. He ends his talk by talking about how music is able to unite people, something I touched upon in my comparison of country and rap music.
I enjoy music for this sense. It does bring people together. And, I believe it still spreads messages. Sure they are not all intellectual, but each song has a meaning regardless.
I will readily admit I do listen to a lot of hip hop and rap, but my preferences are more mainstream. For example, I am an avid Kanye West fan and most of the music I listen to experiences heavy radio airplay. I don't listen to artists known for their lyrics such as Nas. I still believe though that the music I listen to does have meaning and does convey knowledge.