Don't tell me you haven't wondered this yourself. What a clever piece of technology that we all take for granted.
Historian Christina Kotchemidova argues that people were motivated mainly by cultural forces, not practical considerations. “Etiquette codes of the past demanded that the mouth be carefully controlled; beauty standards likewise called for a small mouth,” she says in her 2005 paper on the history of smiling in photographs.
Though photography was still relatively new in the 1850s, portraiture was not, and tradition said that proper people should not grin or bare their teeth in their pictures. Big smiles were considered silly, childish, or downright wicked.
When we were in Ireland, we met up with a friend and took a few pictures. While snapping pictures, I realized this person decide not to smile in any of the pictures I took of them.
At one point, I went on to jokingly tease them about this, because in my opinion, I find pictures to be more authentic when people show their smiles.
In retrospect, that was pretty selfish of me to do. Beauty is subjective, and how someone chooses to pose themselves in a photo is frankly none of my business.
Maybe that's why we collectively choose to opt for a "silly photo" after taking a serious one. It gives us all a chance to take one that's socially appropriate for the holiday card, and one that is socially appropriate for Instagram.
Anyway, I'm gonna try not to force my kids into smiling for pics anymore. I'll still prompt them, but if they want to smile, then cool. If they don't, then cool.
Articles like these, which outline the eating habits of other cultures, make me excited to challenge my own.
My eating routine is atrocious right now. I don't eat breakfast at all, but I end up usually eating a decent-sized lunch, snacks, dinner, and then about 1500 calories of junk after the kids go down.
If you would travel back 300 years ago and share my diet with any common person, they might assume I was a king. Hell, if you shared it with the king they would probably think I had the wealth and resources to pose a direct threat to their rule.
Now that I'm not able to walk for a month, I'm thinking of trying out OMAD (One Meal A Day). The gist is essentially a 20 hour fast with a 4 hour window to eat.
I think I could really do well for myself in this. My only concern is that my job is mentally taxing, and trying to think on an empty stomach is challenging.
Maybe I should start packing carrots or celery or something similar as a mid-day snack in order to stave off the hunger pains.
But yeah, while I'm indeed improving my mental health in many ways (see the most recent post), I'm still pretty judgmental of myself when it comes to my weight.
If you take BMI at face value, I would need to drop 30 pounds to be considered at the very top of the "normal" range for a person of my height.
I suppose that's a fair goal! Getting a better relationship with eating is a key step towards getting there, as is finding a form of exercise that makes me happy.
The American ski racer Alice Merryweather sat out the 2020-21 season while confronting an eating disorder. She had gone to a training camp in September, hating the workouts and the time on the mountain, wondering where her love of skiing had gone. A doctor diagnosed her anorexia.
“I just kept pushing and I kept telling myself, ‘You’re supposed to love this, what’s wrong with you?’” Merryweather said. “I’m just trying to be the best athlete that I can be.”
Merryweather said that she began to open up to friends and teammates. Most knew someone else who had gone through a similar experience. “I realized, why do we not talk about this more?” Merryweather said. “I am not alone in this.”
The more I deal with my own pressure and anxieties, I wonder this same question myself.
Why don't we talk about this more?
Why is stoicism the preferred method for dealing with mental health struggles?
Why do we pretend that the things we want at the end of the day are different from most any other human?
And when will we learn that the only truly sustainable way to really get the things that you want (and the things that truly matter) is through cooperation?
People will call those cheat days, but I don’t like to use that term because that means you’re not accountable. I call it living. You have to be able to do that, especially if you like food and you get satisfaction from that. I view food as a vehicle for company and conversation, so I don’t want to rob myself of that. I don’t want to be the guy bringing food in Tupperware and eating the same stale food all the time.
Just as I’m working on changing my own narrative around money and exercise, I would like to apply this philosophy to my own narrative around eating.
In his 2006 essay, ‘Roger Federer as Religious Experience’, the late, great American writer David Foster Wallace wrote that “beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty”.
“It might be called kinetic beauty,” he added. “Its power and appeal are universal.”
Watch Kipchoge run, and you’ll see his point. It’s difficult to find a sportsperson so impossibly suited to his craft, as if his entire reason for being is to coast over the ground at 4:40 per mile, a pace that for most would feel like a sprint.
But when Kipchoge does it, his head has virtually no vertical motion, his face so relaxed that he looks bored. His arms hang loose, swinging casually, his fingers in a gentle tuck, as if holding an invisible stick. His feet don’t so much hit the ground as stroke it, his toes pushing off the road with the elegant, balletic grace of a dancer.
Kipchoge is to marathon running as Jordan is to basketball, Williams is to tennis, and Gretzky is to hockey: an absolute monster, unquestioned in their supremacy.
Have you ever run a mile in four minutes and forty seconds? How about 26.2 of them back to back?
This profile in the New York Times about the former Army major who happened to be at the drag show where a gunman showed up and opened fire, killing 5 people, is just heartbreaking:
As he held the man down and slammed the pistol down on his skull, Mr. Fierro started barking orders. He yelled for another club patron, using a string of expletives, to grab the rifle then told the patron to start kicking the gunman in the face. A drag dancer was passing by, and Mr. Fierro said he ordered her to stomp the attacker with her high heels. The whole time, Mr. Fierro said, he kept pummeling the shooter with the pistol while screaming obscenities.
The man is certainly a hero, I’ll tell you that for free.
But to the bigger picture here, yeah, thoughts and prayers. Nothing could have prevented this. Let’s put burly, ex-army guys in every classroom. Don’t tread on me and all that.
You may be thinking: “there is nothing I ever wanted to know about semiconductors.”
I assure you: there is.
This video, created by the excellent Farnam Street, dropped my jaw several times around a topic that is crucial to our way of life, yet is virtually invisible to the vast majority of us.
Take an hour and watch it. It may put many things (including the geopolitical tensions around Taiwan) into better perspective for you.
The world trends towards equilibrium. The world trends towards proof of work. It’s rare for fortunes to be created so effortlessly. Therefore, if you see easy money being made, it’s one of the strongest signals that something’s not right. Of course, some people will hit the lottery or be born into wealth. They are the lucky ones. But, most of us aren’t. Most of us have to work for it. We have to show the proof.
It’s taken me eleven years to feel like I am even close to seeing a somewhat realistic path towards wealth (and to be clear, I'm only seeing the path... I'm nowhere down it yet).
The overall message in this article is immensely helpful in dealing with my anxieties around money.
At some point you have to accept that other people’s perceptions of you are as valid as (and probably a lot more objective than) your own.
This may mean letting go of a false or outdated self-image, including some cherished illusions of unique unlovability.
I recently had a talk with Shannon that was eerily similar to the central conceit of this article.
We don’t get to pick how we show up in other people’s interpretation of ourselves. The author’s story about his dad sleeping at the movie theater next to him is a great example.