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Something Waits Beneath
Andrew Wyeth | Monk Mode, er, Peregrination | The Fund | Factoids
Quote of the Moment
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it; the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.
| Andrew Wyeth
Monk Mode, er, Perigrination
I read something by Jessica Stillman (see Factoids, below) which led me to a provocative post by David Cain about something I had never heard about: Monk Mode, which is a way to intensely focus on certain pursuits while actively avoiding others.
As Cain writes:
It is generally refers to taking a definite period of time – a week to three months or more – to focus with unusual intensity on certain important and fruitful pursuits, while abstaining from certain distracting or self-defeating activities. Somewhat like a monk, you would voluntarily adopt a standard of heightened discipline, following a few non-negotiable rules, in order to bring certain important things to the fore of your life. A person might do this in order to launch a website, finish a manuscript, or return to the level of fitness they enjoyed in college. This kind of regimen has to be short though. As potent as a silent retreat is, a week or more away from the world is hard to arrange, and keeping up that standard for months or years isn’t practical. Too many things have to be sacrificed for too long.
Like the period of a walking tour, or Lent, using other non-work related activities.
As Cain points out this should be a well-defined, relatively short period of time, and the commitment should involve the following:
1/ A commitment to do certain amounts of certain kinds of work;
2/ A commitment to abstain from certain distractions or vices;
3/ Definite rules for both of these things;
4/ A definite start and stop date.
I have never trained to be a monk, but I have taken on other related disciplines, like earning a black belt in Shito Ryu Karate, which involves a commitment to weekly practice and with aspirations linked to the ascension through the sequence of training levels: white belts are attempting to learn and apply different skills than black belts, for example. All disciplines have similarities to monk mode, even being a scholar.
However, I disagree with some parts of Cain’s thesis. For example, some abstentions — like avoiding communications and meetings in the morning — are more of a foundational commitment to time hygiene, and not like a period of monkish focus. And I don’t agree that such a period should only involve solitary pursuits. Practicing karate, for example, is much better done in a dojo with others rather than alone.
But the other aspects of monk mode are helpful to clarify what we are trying to accomplish in some defined period of time, although I might recast my version as something more related to a journey, as in traveling from one town to another: a peregrination. That also allows me to avoid the sort of horrible word ‘mode’, too.
I intend to kick off a new peregrination over the next two months, working on the first pass of a book, Paradoxes of Engagement. More to follow. I am actively turning down other distractions, and allocating three afternoons a week to focus on it. I will be sharing my efforts with paid subscribers here.
Wish me bon voyage.
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Mark Gimein has done the work of reading ‘The Fund,’ by Rob Copeland, which Gimein calls ‘a terrific dagger of a book packed with cringey detail, just long enough to efficiently disembowel its subject.’ Great line.
I have always thought that Dalio was an idiot based on what I had read about his ‘Principles’, and his endlessly predicting market crashes. This review by Gimein mirrors the approach of the book’s author, I bet. Dalio comes across as a sociopath. [Emphasis mine.]
Ray Dalio is the titan behind the world’s biggest hedge fund — a deep thinker and confidant of some of Earth’s most powerful people. Now 74, he has worked diligently over the past few years to publicize his “Principles,” perhaps in the hope that his name will live on.
In “The Fund,” Rob Copeland has done him the favor of assuring that it will — attached to one of the pettiest bullies you’ll ever meet on the page. This is a terrific dagger of a book packed with cringey detail, just long enough to efficiently disembowel its subject.
Most of “The Fund” doesn’t feel like a book about finance. Instead, it is about how a man of surpassing mediocrity used money to control and humiliate, and how much people abased themselves for it. Which, come to think of it, makes it one of the better books ever written about Wall Street.
The early chapters cover Dalio’s rise from middle-class striver to captain of finance, a journey begun, in time-honored fashion, by caddying at the local golf club. The links proved an excellent place to cultivate a talent for sycophancy, and Dalio was taken under the wing of a well-connected family. After business school and gaining visibility by boldly predicting an impending depression, Dalio eventually got off the ground a fund — Bridgewater — that promised to invest clients’ money safely.
This looming depression, always imminent, has never come — but by regularly forecasting economic downturns, he has gotten credit for anticipating a few. He had a successful stretch of investing through the 1990s and into the 2000s, and in the wake of the 2008 crash, his hedge fund became the single largest in the world. Thus Dalio was able to turn to his true life’s work: subjecting the 1,600-odd people who worked for him to ever more baroque and dystopic psychological manipulations.
This is roughly where Copeland, now a reporter at The New York Times, jumps in. Some of the Bridgewater panopticon story has been told before, notably by Copeland himself. But even if you think you’ve already heard everything about this crazy hedge fund that videotapes employee interactions so they can critique one another under the flag of “radical transparency,” know this: There is so much more.
There is more, but this snippet tells you 90% about what you need to know. Bridgewater under Dalio was a dumpster fire, and you don’t really need to zoom into the details. It’s enough to know he institutionalized bullying and mind games to a bizarre extent, claiming it was some sort of liberation of the spirit, a sort of Wall Street Scientology, a garbage philosophy from a garbage philosopher.
According to the ILR Labor Action Tracker, between January 1 and October 23 of this year, there have been 343 strikes, a 70 percent increase compared with the 201 strikes during the same period in 2021. So far this year 481,500 workers have gone on strike, more than six times the number (58,600) during the comparable period in 2021. | Steven Greenhouse, Labor's Great Reset
A solid article by Greenhouse — basically a listing of successful (mostly) union actions in the past year or so — and the growing militancy and aggressiveness of unions, particularly for major corporations, excluding Starbucks and Amazon. '“Working people are seeing other working people standing up and winning, and they’re standing up and demanding more,” said Georgetown’s [Lane] Windham. “Employers are seeing that this is not the equation, not the situation they’ve been looking at the last twenty or thirty years, and they’ve had to recalibrate.”'
In September , the Wall Street Journal reported that auto loan debt had surpassed student loan debt in total amount. At the end of Q2 2023, auto loan debt reached $1.58 trillion compared to $1.57 trillion in student loan debt. … The average new car payment in Q3 2023 reached $736 per month – a 4.6% increase over a year earlier.| An Auto Loan Debt Crisis Looks Imminent
Another casualty of rising interest rates and people choosing more expensive cars. Lenders are leaving the market, anticipating a bust.
95% of humans live on just 10% of the earth’s surface. | Science Daily