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Notes From My Journal: Pythagoras as Philosopher
From Maria Popova’s blog, BrainPickings https://www.brainpickings.org
“Alongside his revolutionary science, Pythagoras coined the word philosopher to describe himself as a “lover of wisdom” — a love the subject of which he encapsulated in a short, insightful meditation on the uses of philosophy in human life. According to the anecdote, recounted by Cicero four centuries later, Pythagoras attended the Olympic Games of 518 BC with Prince Leon, the esteemed ruler of Phlius. The Prince, impressed with his guest’s wide and cross-disciplinary range of knowledge, asked Pythagoras why he lived as a “philosopher” rather than an expert in any one of the classical arts.
“He replied: Life… may well be compared with these public Games for in the vast crowd assembled here some are attracted by the acquisition of gain, others are led on by the hopes and ambitions of fame and glory. But among them there are a few who have come to observe and to understand all that passes here.
“It is the same with life. Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philosopher for although no man is completely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature’s secrets.”
Today’s Word: halcyon (adjective)
Halcyon (HAL-see-un) indicates a time in the past that was idyllically happy, peaceful, and prosperous.
As used by the novelist Rumaan Alam: “One of the many American ideals that make no sense at all is that we’re all a million rugged individualists marching in lockstep. We dress accordingly, at least the men. If it’s always been thus, I yearn for the halcyon days of the man in the gray flannel suit because at least that guy had some flair.”
It takes about 142 licks to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop.
From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket
Read These Books or Die Broke!
“What are your favorite books on investing?”
I must have been asked that question a hundred times while I was writing for Palm Beach Confidential, a newsletter about building wealth.
It was a tough question for me to answer with any degree of confidence because (a) I hadn’t read many books on investing and (b) I wasn’t much interested in stocks and bonds. (Which is what most people mean by “investing.”)
So I would refer them to books recommended by investment experts I knew and trusted. That almost always included recommendations from the investing king: Warren Buffett.
Buffett is a serious reader. When he started his investing career, according to The Huffington Post, he would read 600 to 1,000 pages a day. Even now, he spends about 80% of his day reading.
Here are 7 of the titles he recommends:
The Intelligent Investor
by Benjamin Graham
The story is that Buffett was 19 years old when he read The Intelligent Investor, and it changed his life.
“To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information,” Buffett said. “What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework. This book precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework. You must provide the emotional discipline.”
by Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd
Another work by Graham that served as a basis for Buffett’s investment decisions during his amazing career. It provides a protocol for discovering the true value of any company.
Business Adventures: 12 Classic Tales From the World of Wall Street
by John Brooks
I don’t think this book was fundamental to Buffett’s investing philosophy. But when his friend Bill Gates asked him to recommend a book on investing, Buffett sent him his own copy of Business Adventures.
It is a collection of essays that Brooks published over several years. Buffett said it does a great job explaining the “human factor” in building a valuable business.
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
by Philip A. Fisher
Fisher argues that looking at financial statements isn’t enough. You also need to evaluate a company’s management.
by Timothy F Geithner
I’m suspicious of this one. But Buffett said it was a great book for CEOs and business owners that want to know how to steer their companies through difficult economic times.
by William Thorndike, Jr.
With a focus on capital allocation, the book recounts management decisions made by CEOs of big and successful companies.
The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation
by John C. Bogle
Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group (which manages $2 trillion in assets), makes the case that long-term investing – which is the only sort of investing that works – is routinely denied the attention it deserves and is instead “crowded out” by short-term speculation.
As he does in his other books, Bogle argues that the stock market – however irrationally exuberant it gets – will always revert to fundamental returns over the long run. The lesson: Time is your friend. Impulse is your enemy. Don’t follow the herd. Invest safely for the long term and you will be happy in the long run.
If, like me, you are not greatly interested in stocks and bonds but want to know more about the way Buffett thinks, I can recommend a single book that contains his most insightful ideas:
The Essays of Warren Buffett
selected by Lawrence Cunningham
In his typically folksy style, Buffett lays out the key lessons he learned from all the greats like Graham and Dodd, as well as what he learned from experience.
Check It Out…
A 15-Minute, Full-Body Workout
It’s pretty well established now that intensity trumps duration in terms of building not only strength but heart and lung health – even, in some cases, endurance.
Here’s one example (courtesy of Gary North). You can see that the kid being trained is totally exhausted by the end of the final rep.
This is a machine workout. You can have similarly challenging and effective workouts with hand weights, cables, cowbells, body weight… you name it. The objective is to really stress your muscles. And there’s a side benefit that’s worth appreciating. High-intensity workouts have been shown to be effective in developing and maintaining brain function.
GARY NORTH’S TIP OF THE WEEK https://www.garynorth.com
Doug McGuff, MD, is an ER physician. He is also an expert in exercise.
He recommends a unique program: under 15 minutes a week for five exercises. These are high-intensity exercises: 90 seconds each.
Here, he trains a man in this program.
Here, he is coached by a trainer.