Coach Phil’s Book Recommendation

During the 1992-1993 NBA season, Chicago Bulls had already won the past two championships. Boredom, according to coach Phil Jackson, was the team’s biggest challenge. That was especially true since they would be on long trips to get to matches. During these times, he would recommend specific books to specific players, based on what he knew about them. Here’s the list:

  1. Beavis & Butt-Head: This Book Sucks — Stacey King
  2. On The Road — Bill Perdue
  3. Way of the Peaceful Warrior — Craig Hodges
  4. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance — John Paxson
  5. Things Fall Apart — Bill Cartwright
  6. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind — B.J. Armstrong
  7. Joshua: A Parable for Today — Horace Grant
  8. The Ways of White Folks — Scottie Pippen
  9. Song of Solomon — Michael Jordan

(From Phil Jackson’s book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success)

Homework vs Repeated Practice

From Reddit ELI5: How is it possible that homework has no correlation with academic success, when repeated practice is important to so many other activities?

Lots of interesting nuggets of information there. For example this, about the benefits of metacognition:

Teacher in my 7th year here! Lots of people hit the bigger points; you get the feedback too late. Kids also have a tendency to just toss out graded work once they glance at the grade. BUT, last year and this year, I’ve started something new, which is putting up the answer key and having my students grade themselves AND write a short paragraph on what they missed/how they can improve (I teach environmental science to juniors). The reflective piece is what gets graded; I don’t care what you got wrong, I just care that you KNOW what you got wrong.

It took a WHILE to convince my students this wasn’t a trick, “I got everything wrong last night….is it a zero?” “No.” “…..are you sure?” And had to elaborate over and over again that it is NOT in their best interest to just look at the answer key, since I pick difficult problems on purpose that even my high-fliers couldn’t get full points on

Also, the practice can’t just be any form of doing something:

As someone who teaches without homework, here is my answer :

when you practice something, your heart must be into it. By that, I mean “focus”. If you “practice” a sport or a musical instrument by just going through the moves, you don’t progress at all, because it’s the little adjustments you do when focusing that make you improve.

Now, let’s take mathematics, for instance. The problem with the old teaching is that the teacher says something and nobody gives a fuck if you’ve understood or not, you’ll figure that stuff at home by doing homeworks. Guess how efficient it is… Mathematics is most and foremost UNDERSTANDING principles. Did you ever learn multiplications by rote until 15×15 ? I doubt it. Can you DO 15 x 15 ? Probably. Why ? Because you understand the CONCEPT of multiplication, so whatever numbers I’m throwing at you, you know how to multiply them.

Finally there’s also this bit that under-emphasize the famous “10,000 hours” rule:

The 10,000 hours “rule” originally came from the paper, “the role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance”.

Gladwell just over-emphasized the importance of the 10,000 hours portion of the study and not the actual takeaway about the value of practice. He decided to make the 10,000 hour rule a causation, when it was really just a correlation.

The original goal of the paper was to determine how much of elite performance was nature vs nurture. The 10,000 hours was a bit of a throwaway that is generally regarded as unimportant to the overall takeaway.

The Blessed Childhood of the Confident

I was reading “On Confidence” where it discussed about why some people don’t have the confidence to face others who might judge or oppose them, something I am certainly still struggling with. The discussion moved, interestingly, toward some thoughts about proper parenting, which I copied below as something I’d like to keep strongly in mind:

The judgement of others have been given a free pass to enter all the rooms of our minds. There is no one manning the border between them and us: the enemies are freely in us, wandering wildly and destructively through the caverns of our inner selves, ripping items off the shelves and mocking everything we are. […]

Where does such underconfidence around enemies come from? We should, as ever, begin with parents and sketch an imaginary portrait of types who could unwittingly create such tortured mindsets. However ostensibly loving these parents might have been, they are also likely to have felt a high degree of trust in the system. If the police were investigating one of their friends, their guess would be that the authorities were correct in their suspicions. […]

When it came to their own children, these underconfidence-generating parents would have applied a similar method of judgement: the issue of how much and where to love would have been to a large extent determined externally. if the world felt the baby was adorable, they probably were (and if not, then not so much). Later, if the child won a maths prize, it was a sign not just of competence at algebra but of being, far more broadly, a love-worthy person. Conversely, if the school report described the child as an easily distracted dreamer, who looked as if he would flunk his exams, that might mean the offspirng didn’t quite deserve to exist. The lovability of the child in the eyes of the parents rose and fell in accordance with the respect, interest and approval of the world.

To be on the receiving end of such parenting is a heavy burden. We, the recipients of condiitional love, have no option but to work manically to fulfil the conditions set up by parental and worldly expectations. Success isn’t simply a pleasant prize to stumble upon when we enjoy a subject or a task interests us; it is a psychological necessity, something we must secure in order to feel we have the right to be alive. We don’t have any memories of success-independent affection and therefore constantly need to recharge our batteries from the external power source of the world’s flickering and wilful interest. Unsurprisingly, when enemies come on the horizon, we are quickly in deep trouble, for we have no ability to hold in our minds the concept that they might be wrong a we right; that our achievements are not our being, and that the failure of our actions does not presuppose failure of our entire selves. Rendered defenceless by our upbringing, we have no border post between inside and out. We are at the mercy of pretty much anyone who might decide to hate us.

Contrast this with the blessed childhood of the confident. Their parents would have maintained a vigorously sceptical relationship to the system. The world might sometimes be right, but then again, on key occasions, it could be gravely and outrageously wrong. Everyone was, in their eyes, endowed with their own capacity to judge. It is not because the crowd is jeering that the accused is guilty, or vice versa. The chief of police, the lead reviewer of the Times, or the head of the Pritzker Architecture Prize might well be idiotic; these things happen. In their role as parents, the messages of the confidence-inducing were no less generous in their scepticism: ‘You are loved in and of yourself because of what you are, not what you do.

You aren’t always admirable or even likeable, but you are always deserving of affection and charity of interpretation. It doesn’t matter to me if you end up the president or the street cleaner. You will always be something more important: my child. If they don’t have the wisdom to be kind, fuck them!’. Without necessarily intending this, the parents set up a soothing voice that still plays on a loop in the recesses of the mind, especially at moments of greatest challenge. It is the voice of love.

Happy and Uplifting Facts

Stumbled upon a list of happy and uplifting facts on Reddit. Here are some of my favorites:

Bees get sleepy after drinking nectar and occasionally take naps on flowers.


Sunflowers face the sun. When they cannot find the sun, they face each other.


Mother dolphins sing for their babies while they’re in the womb.


Your dog really does genuinely love you, it’s not just a case of depending on you for toys and food.

It’s been studied that the oxytocin levels in a dog’s brain sharply elevate when they see a human they have a positive relationship with. When exposed to the scent of their owners in an MRI machine, the dogs’ levels elevated higher than any other scent.

EDIT: For those asking, yes, cats love you too. Similar studies have been conducted on them. If your cat follows you around, purrs, wiggles the tip of their tail, or stares at you/stares into your eyes and blinks, these are telltale signs your cat adores you.


Physical activity releases dopamine so by motivating yourself to work out you will be more happy because of the actual action and from the results if you stick with it. Now if you haven’t exercised today do a few pushups or situps!


Sometimes in movies, when dogs/wolves are supposed to look mean and threatening, their tails would have to be redone with CGI because their tails won’t stop wagging from doing such a good job acting.


And the last one got me thinking:

Mr. Rogers was the same both on-camera and off-camera.

Sounds simple, yet at this point of my life I find it to be a constant challenge and effort to understand myself, so I can both be kind and genuinely true to myself regardless of the situation.

Financial Rules of Thumb

This page has various rules of thumb related to property, saving, investing, and so on. My financial knowledge is weak and I’m well aware that these rules of thumb are starting points, not hard and fast rules, but they help me nevertheless.

For example, on investing:

If you don’t understand it, don’t buy it –  best advise I have seen … if you make an investment without having a pretty decent understanding of that holding you are a gambler 

And here, about saving:

48 Hour Rule – This thumb rule is useful against impulse purchases. The rule states that when you have a strong urge to make an impulse purchase then postpone the purchase for 48 hours.

Remember – most advertisement is about mind manipulation and that has an immediacy to it. It is why (in the UK), credit purchase has a 1-2 week cool off period

Top 15 Sci-fi Books, According to a Redditor

Someone on Reddit claimed that they have been reading nothing but science fiction for the past 6 years, and made this list as a recommendation:

  1. The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)
  2. Hyperion Series (Dan Simmons)
  3. The Stand (Steven King)
  4. I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
  5. Dune (Frank Herbert)
  6. The Forge of God (Greg Bear)
  7. The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
  8. Not Alone (Craig Falconer)
  9. The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut)
  10. Nightfall (Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg)
  11. Old Man’s War (John Scalzi)
  12. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
  13. Spin (Robert Charles Wilson)
  14. Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)
  15. Footfall (Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle)

There is more summary of each book, and honorable mentions, in the Reddit thread.

Bricolage

Merriam-Webster’s definition:

noun bri·​co·​lage | \ ˌbrē-kō-ˈläzh  , ˌbri-\

construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand


According to French social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the artist “shapes the beautiful and useful out of the dump heap of human life.” Lévi-Strauss compared this artistic process to the work of a handyman who solves technical or mechanical problems with whatever materials are available. He referred to that process of making do as bricolage, a term derived from the French verb bricoler (meaning “to putter about”) and related to bricoleur, the French name for a jack-of-all-trades. 

What Does Bump of Chicken Even Mean?

Bump of Chicken logo.

Linguists geeking out about the name of one of my favorite bands was not something I knew I needed:

Somehow this bothered me in a way that other J-pop band names like “Porno Graffiti”, “Golden Bomber”, or even “Funky Monkey Babys” didn’t. These latter seem to me to follow some sort of intuitive English syntax, but “Bump of Chicken”??

Of course I grew up with 1960’s band names like “Strawberry Alarm Clock,” “Iron Butterfly”, “Led Zeppelin” and “Procol Harum”, but again, these seem in some way syntactically correct in a way that Bump of Chicken does not.

The comment section should not be missed as well.

Interestingly, during high school (with Indonesian as the native language), it was pretty common for us to use the English word chicken to describe a cowardly person, so the band’s explanation of their name to mean “counterattack from the weak man” would’ve been rather easily understood there.

Multitasking Considered Harmful?

Psychology professor Anthony Wagner:

In about half of the studies, the heavy media multitaskers are significantly underperforming on tasks of working memory and sustained attention. The other half are null results; there’s no significant difference. It strikes me as pretty clear that there is a negative relationship between media multitasking and memory performance – that high media multitasking is associated with poor performance on cognitive memory tasks. There’s not a single published paper that shows a significant positive relationship between working memory capacity and multitasking.

Study Arabic Sometime

From “Why Arabic Is Terrific”:

Nearly all Arabic words consist of a three-consonant root slotted into a pattern of vowels and helper consonants. The root gives the word its base meaning, while the pattern modifies this meaning in a systematic and predictable way. This idea is so cool that you’d think it came from a constructed language, and yet Arabic has actual native speakers who live completely normal lives and will not try to talk to you about Runescape.

For example, the pattern ma--a-, where the hyphens are placeholders for three root consonants, is nearly always a place name in Arabic. The pattern  i-a-a-a generates a verb meaning “to cause someone to do X”, where the meaning of X is determined by that three-consonant root.

Can’t Pass Down the Cloud

The leather notebook is a combo of a lot of things. It’s lyrics from songs, and it’s turned into a weird kind of diary for me, and I keep my to-do list in it. My sister gave it to me as a gift. She makes fun of me because I’m on my phone all the time. She said when I’m writing songs I should write them in a book, because when I’m older I won’t want to go back and look at my notes on the cloud, I’ll want a physical thing. That resonated with me. You’re not going to want to pass down your cloud to your kids. It’s just nice to have something physical to write in.

B-Roc, from electronic duo The Knocks.