Tangential Tuesday #15

The last curious man, algorithms to live by, why shouldn't worry about your gpa...

Articles to read.

The Last Curious Man

I love Anthony Bourdain, and this is my favorite tribute about him thus far. Basically just a collection of fun/funny stories told by the people that knew him best.

I know I’ve talked about it before on the newsletter, but if you haven’t read Kitchen Confidential, I can’t recommend it enough. I always admired Bourdain’s ability to be masculine and rebellious, yet intelligent and thoughtful at the same time.


What Straight-A Students Get Wrong [Thanks @Sasha for sending me this article]

“Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries”

“The hours I wasted memorizing the inner workings of the eye would have been better spent trying out improv comedy and having more midnight conversations about the meaning of life”

The idea that you should not worry about your GPA is not new. I’ve repeated it to myself many times and it has become common advice to give someone going to college. Yet for many people (myself included), this advice is so hard to follow.

When you are given a clear metric on which your performance will be judged, it’s hard to resist the temptation to get that metric as high as you can, even when you know it is an incredibly flawed metric. And the importance of GPA is ingrained in us from a young age. It’s hard to put so much focus on GPA in high school and then suddenly flip a switch when you go to college and stop caring about it.

I love that companies are starting to care less about GPA, but I think we can agree that it’s probably not going away any time soon. In light of this, I think the best thing you can do is read articles like this one that remind you how irrational it is to focus on your GPA.

Success Academy 4: Growth

The previous article is an excellent segway to the next episode in the success academy podcast series.

I still can’t decide what to think about success academy, but this podcast series is amazing regardless. It gets at the core of the questions:

“What is the goal of education?”

“What are the essential parts of a good education?”

“Do standardized tests do more harm than good?”

There are no easy answers to these questions. Success academy is extreme, to be clear. They put a lot of emphasis on test scores. I worry that they are training kids to be assembly line workers when what we need is creative thinkers.

But I think to dismiss them based on that alone is a mistake. There’s something education systems can learn from Success. It’s hard to argue with the amazing outcomes they’ve driven for kids who legitimately might never have learned to read.

Reading.

You’ve probably noticed that my reading has decreased pretty significantly since starting the newsletter. For awhile (not including Shantaram) I was probably averaging ~1 book a week.

But I think that’s okay. I’ve been trying to give myself permission to start books without necessarily finishing them.

This week I’ve been digging into Algorithms to Live By. It’s basically an analysis of how classic computer science problems can be applied to real life. In my opinion this is the perfect book for someone interested in knowing a bit more about computer science without having to go down the rabbit hole of learning to program and taking classes.

And if you already know a lot about computer science, this book likely addresses a lot of interesting problems you never covered in your courses.

How do you know when to try a new restaurant vs return to an old favorite?

How often should you clean your room?

It also helped me find this hilarious video of Obama getting interviewed by Google CEO Eric Schmidt 😂

If you don’t get the joke, it might be time to read the book 😉 or google “bubble sort”.

Personal.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is fast approaching. It’s pretty amazing that I can still play tennis outdoors in the middle of December here.

I’m looking forward to being back in NH for a bit, and then getting to check out Montreal for the first time. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

On another note, I’m also getting excited for this mushroom foraging workshop this weekend. I have no idea what to expect, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Excited to update next week with some good pictures….assuming I don’t eat any poisonous mushrooms 😬.


As always, thanks for reading, and taking a few minutes out of your day.

- Taylor