21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens is likely in my top three favorite books of all time. Although I’ve stopped recommending it to people, because I think, if you don’t have a certain humanist bend you won’t appreciate it. And then, even if you are quite rational, Sapiens is likely to leave you feeling depressed as fuck. Or in the very least largely indifferent as to whether humanity is a ‘good’ thing or not.

As opening paragraphs go that might sounds like an indictment of  Yuval Noah Harari. But I really do love everything he’s written, so I was super excited to read his new book…. until I found out the title.

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God I hate number titles. 12 rules. 21 lessons. 6 steps. 4 hour. Fuck you all. Seriously.

Having said that… my bedside table has a stack of paperbacks at the moment that is starting to teeter quite precariously to one side. My reading habits are probably much to be desired and I tend to flit, whimsically, from paperbacks to kindle to comics with no real… agenda. For someone who reads books cover to cover… I am likely the anti-christ.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century I bought on Audible, read by Derek Perkins (who is brilliant).

I’ve been re-listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series (quite an undertaking) on my morning 5mi… I want to say run… but I think someone who actually runs might take issue with my form of forward locomotion… and be amused that I dain to call that ‘running’.

In any event, 21 lessons has been my staple for the last week on my morning exertions and post exercise, my companion on my commute. Unsurprisingly its really good and I’ve been hooked.

I don’t necessarily want to compare it with Sapiens or Homo Deus. I am however inclined to say that these books should likely be read in the order they were published in, and while they can be appreciated as single entities, to get the full on Harari experience… they should be consumed Sapiens, Homo Deus… *sigh* 21 Lessons. (two great titles followed by an utterly shit one, I blame… well originally Tim Ferriss… but more recently Jordan Peterson)

21 Lessons is more… current… I guess is the best way to describe it. Where as Sapiens is about the past and Homo Deus about the future. We are likely living in a transition period (although all humans throughout time have probably thought this) from the old liberal world order to… something else, as yet undefined… and we are struggling to decide what that new world order will look like. The decisions we as a species make now are absolutely critical to whether we make it as species in the future (unfortunately we will likely all be dead to see the outcomes of those decisions).

I think the biggest takeaway (for me at least) is that we can’t be passengers and spectators in this shift and decision making process and that we all need to start taking a much more active roll in how we progress as humanity and what our legacy will be to those future generations.

Fail

If you’ve just had the Monday from hell… and you feel your day couldn’t get any worse… spare a thought for Nedeljiko Čabrinović  (Center) one of the ‘assassins’ of Archduke Ferdinand.

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Čabrinović started off his debacle of a day by throwing a hand grenade at the open topped vehicle carrying the Archduke, but bungled it, bouncing the grenade off the car door. The grenade also had a ten second fuse which meant it only exploded under the forth car in the convoy.

To avoid capture, Čabrinović quickly swallowed a cyanide capsule. Which turned out to be defective and instead of killing him, just made him vomit. Thinking fast he threw himself into the River Miljacka… only to realize that the river was only 4 inches deep.

Having failed to kill himself he was swarmed and taken into custody. ‘I am a Serb hero’ he proclaimed as he was taken away. He died two years later of tuberculous at the midpoint of the Great war he helped create.

Hubris

‘This should be the cardinal rule of the Internet (and of being Human). If you don’t have the patience to read something, don’t have the hubris to comment on it’ – Maria Popova

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Is it just me, or is it getting warmer? – Icarus, famous last words.

MJ. I really love the quote attributed to Maria Popova. I wish I could say I have always lived by this rule. But I’d be lying. I’m about as impatient as they come… and often feel I know better. Ha ha.

I’m trying to get better at this. Or at least make the moral superiority I often inflict on people more subtle and formless. Which is (really) hard. Joey is much more blunt force trauma than a scalpel wetwork finesse.

In any event, know that if I liked your stuff I actually took the time to read it.

Texting.

At some point my iPhone decided ‘cool’ should actually be ‘cook’ and now oscillates between hardcore obstinacy and whimsically auto-correcting this word. Which is problematic because ‘cool’ it is my most used affirmation. Which is then often followed by duck. Sometimes all in Caps. Apparently my most used profanity.

Wife: Can you stop and get milk?

Jo: Cook

Jo: DUCK

Wife: I’m assuming this means you’re on it?

Jo: Yes.

Of course some people have surpassed mere mortals and… sub-mortals (i.e. me) and turned this form of communication into something more profound.

Case in point.

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I want to be like Lily’s dad. Only… I don’t think I have the energy or thesaurus like ability (on the fly) to pull this off.

Also I’m hungry now. ‘Joey feels the need to sate the ravenous emptiness in his abdomen with slivers of sauteed hind of swine’.

When actually I mean…

Hmm. Bacon.

Future-proof yourself

Sometimes I worry about the future. (When I’m not sleeping I mean). I think about the long haul truck drivers that are going to be out of work. I think about the UPS guy in his turd colored overall getting replaced by a turd colored drone… but most of all I worry about the strippers!

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In a cashless society… how would this work? How will these lithe, fearless acrobats be able to put themselves through college anymore? Will strip joints have to put these performers on a payroll? Where will the hedge fund managers go for lunch? Will society fall apart? Will boobs be relegated to mere mammary gland status?

Think about that next you hit up your crypto-exchange. You guys are killing an institutionalized industry (and maybe the world). I hope you’re proud of yourselves!

…and never the twain shall meet

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It’s not exactly Kipling… but this blog is likely a little low brow for..

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
Fuck ’em up son. Wu for life. 

Wait a second did you just splice ‘Ol Dirty Bastard into Rudyard Kipling ?

I did. And I am not ashamed. Okay, maybe a little ashamed.

Like 1%.

 

Pompeii v2.0

ie. the town in ancient Rome that was covered in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted… (looks it up) in 79AD. My initial guess was only about 100 years off. What did we do before Google? Make stuff up? *Jo laughs sardonically*

My enduring memory of visiting Pompeii is that of a giant penis.

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Apparently dick jokes were a thing 2000 years ago. We’ve definitely moved on since then… I want to say we’ve taken our dick jokes online… drawing them out in beach sand, corn fields and on frozen lakes and then following it up with some adroit drone-work… but occasionally you will still find a giant schlong hastily illustrated on some suburban concrete canvas.

If a modern day eruption were to cover us in volcanic ash, preserving us for posterity… how would we look like to a future generation two thousand years from now?

Likely I would be caught in my natural state, occupying some weird, unergonomic position that is not quite supine cradling my Macbook and trying to take one last sip of coffee. Hopefully with my pants on. Assuming the latter, quite a dignified way to be preserved I feel.

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Not all of us will be that lucky though. I can only imagine our future progenies mouthing the words, ‘What… the actual… fuck is going on here… is that girl… wearing Crocs?’

To be fair I might be being a bit presumptuous when it comes to assuming a gender here…

The crushing weight of existence

I loved this answer.

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I think people definitely ‘feel’ this weight differently. For some, existence, on the whole, doesn’t seem to bother them much at all. While for others it’s all they feel. I imagine, like with all things, it probably resembles a bell curve… and that most of us are somewhere near the middle, straddling both hemispheres, likely leaning either left or right depending on which way the wind is blowing.