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Speed reading techniques

Of the many techniques I read about, the following seemed the most convincing and useful to me:

Obvious

1. Improve your physical and mental conditions.

2. Remove distractions from reading device and environment.

3. Locate important bits of the text. Hotspots help (sub-heads, bold, italics, graphs)

4. Push self to read fast

Interesting

1. Read phrases instead of words, which needs avoiding sub-vocalisation

2. Use a guiding tool (finger, pen or index card)

3. If the text is familiar (topic, characters, style), ensure you do a flash mental review before you read.

Bonus

If said reading is important and worth remembering, make a short note. Perhaps a tl;dr version.

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Two bad things about writing

1. Starting

2. Realising that good writing is mostly rewriting.

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How do you remain optimistic?

Kevin Kelly said:

I read a lot of history. The degree of hopeless in the past, which we overcame, puts today’s despair into perspective. Also, I have children.

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These 5 habits will help you avoid dementia and other diseases

1. Exercise regularly (few times a week)

2. Don’t smoke

3. Consume alcohol moderately (about 3 units/day or 1 drink)

4. Eat a healthy diet 

5. Maintain body weight (depends on your height)

While specifics about how much or how little can be debated, with every study science keeps making a strong case to follow these 5 things blindly. Consider this recent large-scale study which showed reduction in diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, if men practised 4 out 5 of these habits.

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Following the lead

In this highly complex world, it is extremely difficult to be able to make rational choices for even the most basic of human actions.

Take the consumption of food: what is the best food to eat to minimise our impact on the environment and improve our health? The answer “be a vegan” is not as simple and straightforward. Many have put forth convincing cases against. 

While this topic is something I’ve followed for quite sometime and hold views about, there are many others that I can’t spend the same amount of time analysing. In those cases I’m not afraid of following the lead of some trustworthy “thought leaders”.

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Becoming a nun

It made the state of mind clear, calm and kind. - Ani Chudrun in Unusual Choices.

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Wrong candidate

"If you ever find yourself working for a startup, here’s a handy tip for evaluating customers. Read their job listings. Everything else on their site might be stock photos or the prose equivalent, but the job listings have to be specific about what they want, or they’ll get the wrong candidates." - Paul Graham in Beating the Averages

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Ideas and execution

Sometimes ideas are very powerful but very hard to execute. If brute force gets you somewhere that is a killer start, but, not too soon after that, it is important to partially shift focus on to elegance. For elegance is a key ingredient of the long-game. If you don’t pay attention to elegance, someone else will come along and do it better than you.

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Understanding political power

Writer Walter Mead says power comes in four sorts:

1. The sharp power of military force serves as a foundation

2. The sticky power of economic vitality rewards others for joining the system and makes it expensive to pull out

3. The sweet power of values attracts and inspires others

4. The hegemonic power or primacy, where primacy is to geopolitics what a full card is to a game of bingo. It makes states attractive. Their support is considered a form of consent, giving legitimacy to actions. 

From The Economist’s November 2013 special report on America. The report argues that a combination of these four puts America at the top of the world for now and for some decades to come. The country benefits from a system of the world it created after the second world war.

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Way out for neophiliacs

Combine extreme novelty-seeking behaviour with persistence and self-transcendence (losing yourself in something you love) for a perfect cocktail for success, say psychologists.