Interesting Links: January 2017


  • First, See the Circle: Another great article by Scott H Young that challenges one to think more consciously about which of our behaviors are scripts and which are intentional. Plus, it introduced me to Westworld, a TV show I highly recommend watching (and I don’t say that often!).
  • Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful: A monster post by the founder of Duck Duck Go on mental models and thinking better. I certainly will be stealing a bunch of these as I build out my own mental models page.
  • The Challenge of Arendtian Action: Breaking Smart is back! Anything written by Venkatesh Rao you should just go ahead and read.
  • Goals Cause Depression: A thought-provoking post from the always-contrarian Wall Street Playboys. This time, they extoll the virtues of time allocation as a framework for achievement instead of goal setting.
  • How to Break into the Tech Industry: An incredibly thorough post about getting a tech job even with an unconventional background. I will surely be revisiting this article often in my own search for a good job.
  • How You Move Defines How You Live: A follow-up post and set of videos to Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans in which Peter Attia shows us the best way to prepare to move correctly.
  • Making Badass Developers: An older video from O’Reilly in which Kathy Sierra, the creator of the excellent Head First series, presents on how developers can level-up their skills.


Recently Finished:

  • Tools of Titans
  • True to Form
  • The Goal

Up Next:

  • Extreme Ownership
  • Zen Habits
  • Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Mindfulness
  • Radical Acceptance

On Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In the past month, I listened to every episode of The Jocko Podcast, in which Jocko Wilink, an ex-Navy SEAL speaks on military leadership, self-discipline, and Jiu-Jitsu. I can’t quite articulate how much this podcast has helped me and I highly recommend it to anyone.

One of the things that I was most excited to try out was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. BJJ is a martial art, combat sport system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting and, according to Jocko, is the best first martial art to learn and has benefits far beyond learning how to fight.

So this semester, I found a BJJ gym close to me and tried it out for my first week.

“BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger, heavier assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground, and then applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the opponent.” – Wikipedia

Before trying it, I was still a little bit skeptical about just how much leverage could make up for a weight/size difference.

Boy, was I wrong about that. On the third day, I rolled with a girl who couldn’t have weighed more than 100 lbs. Before slapping hands, she seemed perfectly aloof and content with rolling with someone at least 60% larger than her.

The clock started and I thought I might simply be able to pass her guard with strength alone. I moved her arms to one side and tried to explode to the other to get side control. This completely backfired.

I still don’t exactly know what happened, but the next thing I know, she’s mounted on me and put me into the hardest armbar I’ve ever experienced.

I tap, she lets go, and I look at the clock. 30 seconds have gone by.

I look back at her with what could only have been a stupid look of astonishment and she gives back a wry smile. Touche.

We slap hands and go again. I last a little bit longer this time, but she still eventually manages to get me into a rear naked choke. 50 more seconds have gone by…

And again we go. Less than 20s in, she’s again in a dominant position. I manage to get anchored around one of her legs and keep a frame with my elbows between us. This was surely the only thing that kept me from not being submitted (again) in the 20s that remained.

When we get up, I’m completely exhausted and volunteer to sit out for the next round. I look over to her again and get nothing back. It was like she never even broke a sweat during that.


Later that day, I saw an even smaller women (probably 90lb, definitely less than 5′ tall) submit a much, much larger man (probably 250lb, at least 6′ tall).

Lesson learned: leverage is a powerful thing.

Even though I get completely wrecked by more than one girl and many, many guys, training is very fun and I plan on continuing it for as long as I can. Even though my aim is not (really) to learn how to fight, if that is yours, especially if you expect to be at a size disadvantage, I highly recommend finding a BJJ gym and checking it out.