Issue #405
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a project of Dynamic Skillset Ltd.

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In Thought Shrapnel this week, doomsday preparations for less crazy folk, philosophical anxiety as a superpower, and... could a medieval peasant defeat a knight?

Elsewhere this week, I published:
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To pursue the unattainable is insanity, yet the thoughtless can never refrain from doing so

Two people talking to one another
💬 The Surprising Power of Simply Asking Coworkers How They’re Doing

🤔 Facebook Maybe Not Singlehandedly Undermining Democracy With Political Content, Says Facebook

🐑 What is the Zollman effect?

👂 Unnervingly good entry in the "what languages sound like to non-speakers" genre

⚔️ Could a Peasant defeat a Knight in Battle?

Quotation-as-title from Marcus Aurelius. Image from top-linked post.

'Prepper' philosophy

This morning, I came across a long web page from 2016, presumably created as a reaction to everything that went down that year (little did we know!)

Ostensibly, it's about preparing for scenarios in life that are relatively likely. It's pretty epic. While I've converted it to PDF and printed all 68 pages out to read in more detail, there were some parts that jumped out at me, which I'll share here.
he purpose of this guide is to combat the mindset of learned helplessness by promoting simple, level-headed, personal preparedness techniques that are easy to implement, don't cost much, and will probably help you cope with whatever life throws your way.
lcamtuf, Doomsday Prepping For Less Crazy Folk

Growing up, my mother was the kind of woman who always had extra tins in the cupboards 'just in case'. Recently, my wife has taken this to the next level, with documents containing details on our stash including best before dates, etc.
Effective preparedness can be simple, but it has to be rooted in an honest and systematic review of the risks you are likely to face. Plenty of excited newcomers begin by shopping for ballistic vests and night vision goggles; they would be better served by grabbing a fire extinguisher, some bottled water, and then putting the rest of their money in a rainy-day fund.
lcamtuf, Doomsday Prepping For Less Crazy Folk

I see this document, which goes into money, self-defence, hygiene, and even relationships as neighbours as more of a philosophy of life.
Rational prepping is meant to give you confidence to go about your business, knowing that you are well-equipped to weather out adversities. But it should not be about convincing yourself that the collapse is just around the corner, and letting that thought consume and disrupt your life.
Stay positive: the world is probably not ending, and there is a good chance that it will be an even better place for our children than it is for us. But the universe is a harsh mistress, and there is only so much faith we should be putting in good fortune, in benevolent governments, or in the wonders of modern technology. So, always have a backup plan.
lcamtuf, Doomsday Prepping For Less Crazy Folk

Recommended reading 👍

(also check out the author's hyperinflation gallery)

Much will have more

Discord screenshot
🧠 How Discord (somewhat accidentally) invented the future of the internet

😶 Parler 'free speech' app tops charts in wake of Trump defeat

🤖 'Robot soldiers could make up quarter of British army by 2030s'

🇪🇺 Europe is adopting stricter rules on surveillance tech

🏥 NHS data: Can web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee fix it?

Quotation-as-title by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Image from top-linked post.

Philosophical anxiety as a superpower

Anxiety is a funny thing. Some people are anxious over specific things, while others, like me, have a kind of general background anxiety. It's only recently have I've admitted that to myself.

Some might call this existential or philosophical anxiety and, to a greater or lesser extent, it's part of the human condition.
Humans are philosophising animals precisely because we are the anxious animal: not a creature of the present, but regretful about the past and fearful of the future. We philosophise to understand our past, to make our future more comprehensible... Philosophy is the path that we hope gets us there. Anxiety is our dogged, unpleasant and indispensable companion.
Samir Chopra, Anxiety isn’t a pathology. It drives us to push back the unknown (Psyche)

One of the things my therapist has been pushing me on recently is my tolerance for, and ability to sit with uncertainty. We all want to know something for definite, but it's rarely possible.
We are anxious; we seek relief by enquiring, by asking questions, while not knowing the answers; greater or lesser anxieties might heave into view as a result. As we realise the dimensions of our ultimate concerns, we find our anxiety is irreducible, for our increasing bounties of knowledge – scientific, technical or conceptual – merely bring us greater burdens of uncertainty.
Samir Chopra, Anxiety isn’t a pathology. It drives us to push back the unknown (Psyche)

To be able to tolerate the philosophical anxiety of not knowing, then, is a form of superpower. It may not necessarily make us happy, but it does make us free.
Anxiety then, rather than being a pathology, is an essential human disposition that leads us to enquire into the great, unsolvable mysteries that confront us; to philosophise is to acknowledge a crucial and animating anxiety that drives enquiry onward. The philosophical temperament is a curious and melancholic one, aware of the incompleteness of human knowledge, and the incapacities that constrain our actions and resultant happiness.
Samir Chopra, Anxiety isn’t a pathology. It drives us to push back the unknown (Psyche)

Ultimately, it's OK to be anxious, as it makes us human and takes us beyond mere rationality to a deeper, more powerful understanding of who (and why) we are.
The most fundamental enquiry of all is into our selves; anxiety is the key to this sacred inner chamber, revealing which existential problematic – the ultimate concerns of death, meaning, isolation, freedom – we are most eager to resolve.
Samir Chopra, Anxiety isn’t a pathology. It drives us to push back the unknown (Psyche)

Until next week!

Doug
Thought Shrapnel Weekly is sent out to awesome people who are curious about intersection of technology and society. It is published by Dr. Doug Belshaw of Dynamic Skillset Ltd.


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Some say he's serene. Others think it's a smokescreen. No-one thinks he's nineteen.
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