Lindy Letters (04/25/21)

Meditations, Calculus Made Easy, Reinventing Explanation

Hi everyone,

Writing to you from Los Angeles, California.

I watched Rose Namajunas win the UFC Strawweight title this weekend. Her Octagon interview is bursting with emotion and worth a watch:


From me

  1. Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to One, explains four ways to think about the future. In my new post, FI/RE is Indefinite Optimism, I explain why a lifestyle choice called financial independence / retiring early (FI/RE) represents what Thiel calls “indefinite optimism”.

  2. Balaji Srinivasan’s recent podcast with Tim Ferriss is a four-hour whirlwind. I took detailed notes, including every prediction made during the interview. You can read it here.


From the web

The Meditations: Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher who ruled as the emperor of Rome during the height of the Pax Romana expansion. His journal — called The Mediations — is considered to be one of the most important surviving Stoic writings. I’ve found Stoicism to be remarkably compatible with modern life, despite having its roots in the ancient world. If you’re looking to get started with Stoic philosophy, the Meditations is a great place to start.

Lindy score: 4000

Calculus Made Easy: Calculus is one of those topics that strikes fear into the hearts of undergraduates. It often seems hopelessly intimidating, especially because math has a reputation for being difficult and complex.

Calculus Made Easy — a hundred year old textbook — thinks this is nonsense:

Considering how many fools can calculate, it is surprising that it should be thought either a difficult or a tedious task for any other fool to learn how to master the same tricks.

Some calculus-tricks are quite easy. Some are enormously difficult. The fools who write the textbooks of advanced mathematics — and they are mostly clever fools — seldom take the trouble to show you how easy the easy calculations are. On the contrary, they seem to desire to impress you with their tremendous cleverness by going about it in the most difficult way. Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to unteach myself the difficulties, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that are not hard. Master these thoroughly, and the rest will follow.

What one fool can do, another can.

If you had a bad experience with calculus, consider giving it another shot.

Lindy score: ~2100

My favorite maps: The best maps make you think differently about the world. I collect interesting examples of maps, including this fascinating view of Earth without water:

Michael Nielsen has a great post called Reinventing Explanation in which he describes the power of maps as a medium for thought. Michael extends the idea of a map to include representations of fields like science — maps of the physical world help us understand our surroundings; could similar representations help us better understand topics like math, biology, and physics?

Lindy score: 2027

have a great week,

phil