Key take aways from the guide to a good life

A guide to the good life

Overview

The core of Stoicism as a philosophy is to live a good life (where peace of mind is deemed the highest good) by learning how to manage negative thoughts like:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • fear
  • grief
  • envy

Techniques

This is done through the employment of these two techniques

Negative visualization techniques

  • Managing against hedonic adaptation by learning to desire what we already have. To do so, we must constantly remind ourselves the transient nature of things.

Focus of attention on what is within our loci of control

  • Totally within our control – focus our attention of these things
  • Partially within our control – internalize goals around parts where we have control
  • Totally out of our control – learn to be at peace with whatever outcome

Deliberate self denial

By deliberately depriving self the luxuries, one builds courage and self-control

Manage needs and desires

  • natural and necessary
    • Food and shelter
    • to fulfill
  • natural and unnecessary
    • Fine wine and luxurious food
    • to fulfill if not too much hassle
  • unnatural and unnecessary
    • fame and social status
    • to shun
  • unnatural and necessary
    • nothing exist in this category

Attitude towards time

  • The past and the immediate present is beyond change – be grateful for all that has came to pass and accept it with equanimity
  • The immediate future is where our loci of control falls – this is where we should channel our attention

Eras of stoiscism

  • Greek Stoics
  • Roman Stoics

The roman empire eventually adopted Christian religion as a the philosophical framework for state craft. This eventually displaced stoicism and other greek schools of philosophy.

Prominent stoic practitioners

  • Socrates
  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Xeno
  • Seneca

Related schools of philosophy

  • The Cynics – see Diogenes
  • Enlightened hedonism – see Epicurus

Related references

  • Meditations, Marcus Aurelius

Key observations of Chinese One Belt Road Initiative in Africa

Territories observed

  • Egypt
  • Sudan
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • South Africa

Similarities observed

  • Heavy Chinese enterprise involvement in the building of roads and houses
  • Shops with Chinese labels observed in operation
  • In areas where there are construction operations, Chinese supervision and management observed aided by local manual labor
  • Ubiquity of mobile internet connection
  • Ubiquity of Samsung, Huawei and Tenco Android mobile phones ranging from USD50 among local adult and adolescent population

Macro trends

With the rise of the Chinese middle class, there is now increasing domestic demand for goods and services within China. This has driven the need to increase the overall throughput volume of such commodities. It can be speculated that the level of consumption is expected to surpass the level of production within China at some point.

Economic growth in China has for now hit a road block due to the following factors:

In light of these, China needs to start shifting its policy from an export focused economy to a domestic focused economy. To do so, it needs to feed and drive domestic demand for goods and services.

Regional trends

The Chinese government has been observed to enter into agreement with local African government to fund the build out of infrastructure, primarily roads and buildings. At the date of writing 85% of roads in Ethiopia has been completed within the country while in Zanzibar, Tanzania, all major roads are under construction and a sports stadium named Mao ZeDong stadium has been observed.

In exchange for the funding, local governments are restricted to engaging the service of Chinese companies. This safeguards the effectiveness of funds deployment for the operations aspects of the agreement while serving to three specific purposes. It minimizes the actual volume of liquidity that is tied up in loans to local government, while boosting demand for construction services within China and increasing maximum possible throughput volume of commodity exports from the region.

What is not obvious during the time of observation is how effective local governments are at managing funds during the stage between its receipt from China to its payment to the engaged Chinese companies. Discounting the inherent effectiveness of the various projects in driving local GDP, differing levels of corruption and maturity of national identify within the region will result in variance between actual ROI versus expected ROI for these projects.

On deciphering Chinese end goal within the region

At the moment of writing, it is yet clear how Chinese African relationship will crystalize for the future. Two key observations need to be made before we can get a glimpse of it.

Key observation #1 would be how China would react when the loans come to maturity and the local government have yet made sufficient returns from the infrastructure investments to pay off the debt.

Key observation #2 would be how Chinese companies would handle the post construction phase of projects that require ongoing maintenance in terms of knowledge transfer.

Related readings

Key observations in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, a city under construction

On society

  • 120 million relatively young population
  • 65% of youth graduate from college
  • unemployment rate is 85%
  •  The Youth is hungry for opportunity to advance in life
  • The Youth is highly optimistic and have faith in their prime minister
  • Shifting away from a tribal centric identity to a nation identity is the key challenge for the country. Tribal warfare was observed in Matema region.

On infrastructure

  • One belt one road initiative has thus far rebuilt 85% of all major highways
  • significant levels of Chinese operated construction observed in Addis Ababa where Chinese occupy the management layer while the locals occupy the manual layer.
  • Significant levels of new housing construction in villages by locals. Projects are facilitated by ease of material transport due to improved road conditions.
  • At the moment of writing, Chinese built daily train is in operation from Addis Ababa to Djibouti. Chinese management is in process of doing knowledge transfer to local with the intention of handing eventual management.

On nature and agriculture

  • mixed of highland and grassland terrain
  • lowlands are utilized for the cultivation of wheat, corn and coffee
  • highlands are utilized for the cultivation of potato and barley

On technology

  • Ethiopia’s own version of Uber was launched earlier this year.
  • Country-wide established 3G networks has been observed
  • Majority of people were seen using Android mobile phones like Samsung and Huawei.
  • Tenco is a locally manufactured Android phone ran by Chinese management. Typical phone sells for USD50.

On foreign relations with China

  • China is the largest trading partner where food is the main export.
  • China’s one belt one road initiative in Ethiopia aims to increase supplies of raw materials available to the middle class rich in China by building up critical infrastructure like roads and manufacturing facilities to increase overall throughput volume from this agriculturally fertile region.
  • The approach is to utilize Chinese capital, Chinese management expertise and operations technique gained from the rebuilding of their economy, local raw materials and local human labor.
  • Where maintenance is required knowledge transfer occurs. This serves to help conserve Chinese human capital as they further their initiative across the region.
  • The observed build up of educated youth will likely help facilitate the necessary knowledge to ensure infrastructure gets maintained beyond the time period of the initiative.

Related readings

  • Why the west rules for now, Morris Ian

Reflections on self mastery

The ability to fully master yourself is predicated upon the ability to cut through the narratives thrown off by your limbic brain in situations of stress to tap directly into your sensations and be at peace with them.

The ability to master the environment is predicated upon the ability to physically execute upon a series of actions which in the process yields a corresponding set of sensations and results.

The ability to master other sapiens and mammals is predicated upon the ability to bend them to your will, namely the disciplined application of the carrot and the stick. In Sapiens, it is necessary to utilize narratives to  manage their limbic brain.

Any property in nature brought to its extreme form counter-intuitively appears on the surface to be its exact opposite. High levels of Self-mastery on occasions gets perceived as Sociopathy by the casual observer.

Forecoming social experiment: To practice exploiting the unsuspecting street tout without yielding a single dollar.

References

  • Steve Jobs, by Walter Isacson
  • The Elon Musk blog series, by Urban Tim
  • Titan: the life of a John D Rockefeller, by Chernow Ron
  • Anabasis, Xenophon
  • Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
  • The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon by Stone Brad
  • The Facebook effect: The inside story of the company by Kirkpatrick David
  • Machina by Sebastian Marshal
  • Be slightly evil, by Vankatesh G Rao
  • Sapiens: a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harrari
  • Why the west rules for now by Morris Ian
  • Analysis of Arabic Street tout aggressive sales technique by Gary Teh
  • Observations in Sudan by Gary Teh
  • Summary of learnings into the subject of Mundfulness by Gary Teh

Observations in Sudan

Orange purchased from road side vendor in the middle of the Sudan desert

Society

  • Sharia law is used as the foundational legal framework within the country.
  • Public venues for prayer are prevalent
  • Majority of males observed to engage in worship 5 times a day
  • Touting is non-existent except at tourist venues as well as bus stations. Prices are fixed.
  • Hospitality of locals is commendable. On multiple occasions they would pay for tea and food if they happen to engage in any form of conversation out of curiosity.
  • Minimal signs of homelessness observed. Streets in Khartoum appear empty past 8pm in the evening.
  • Despite general lack of infrastructure, a strong sense of community was observed amongst the population. Daily affairs were was observed to be conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner.

Technology level

  • Level of technology level in government agency observed is low.
  • Mobile phones are prevalent. Android owns majority of market share. Samsung and Huawei mobile phone users were observed to be prevalent.
  • Facebook and WatsApp are the dominant internet communications medium. YouTube is in prevalent use
  • Internet connectivity is low and generally unstable hovering around 300++kpbs in hotels.
  • The following US based technology solution is not accessible. Use of proxy is necessary.
    • AWS
    • Gmail
    • Stripe
    • Bugsnag

Perception of foreign relations

  • US and western nations perceived still to be harboring colonial masters mentality attempting to meddle in affairs of nation with aim of gaining unfair advantage.
  • The Chinese government is perceived as friendly and fair, genuinely interested in helping the country develop.

Nature and history

  • Water melon was observed to grow wild in the sub-Saharan dessert. Much agricultural potential could be expected if nile is successfully harvested for irrigation purposes.
  • Donkeys, camels and cows observed to roam wild in the sun-Saharan dessert.

Key take aways from Mien Kampf, Adolf Hitler

Mein Kampt, Adolf Hitler

On governance

Majority of the population is not equipped with the necessary faculty to make decision about the running of the country. Let the superior man assume this responsibility be imbued with the power to pass laws and regulations. The market is to be subordinated to the nation.

The study of history

History should read with the use of critical lens. The student of history should approach it with the desire to understand cause and effects. He needs to apply a clear frame and extract from it relevant pieces that fits the frame to further his understanding of how the world works.

The management of the crowd

Majority of the population will not bother themselves with the use of their critical faculties when analyzing arguments made by policy makers ( Logos). Rather, they choose instead to simply really on them emotions which only takes into account very limited set of signals (Pathos).

Therefore, the primary objective of propaganda is not to be factually correct but to drive the population to action.

The structure of the message needs to be simple. The larger the audience catered for the simpler the message need to be. The use of icons and dramatic colors is extremely beneficial.

When refining your message, start with a small set of audience and work from there to gradually larger ones. This keeps running cost low and allows a more controlled cabilbration process.

On democracy

This is a long drawn out intensive dubious process which is subjected to high levels of resource wastage. A centrally controlled organization will be more effective at addressing deep rooted issues. Elected leaders tends towards the dumbest common denominator.

On the economy

It should not drive national policies but should be driven by it. In the former, private interest will prevail over public needs. Private interest tends to be dominated by a class that focus purely on making money with money via interest instead of the common person that exchanges actual physical hard work with money.

The goal of schools is to socialize the next generation to the nations core values and principles. This training requires a strong physique. Physical training should take majority of the education.

Related readings

  • The wealth of nations, Adam Smith
  • Les Capital, Karl Marx