The real use of money is to buy freedom

As the founder of a profitable software company, I happen to make more money than most office-goers of my age. There’s no shame or pride in admitting that. I don’t dislike money. Having quite a bit of it is simply a fact. Though there must me many thousands of people who have enormously more money than me, I consider myself lucky to have more than I need right now. However, more than the money, what fascinates me is the nature of money, its ubiquity and how our behavior gets unknowingly influenced by it.

Read the article: The real use of money is to buy freedom

Lifestyles of the Young, Rich, and Homeless

We arrived in New York City with no real plans. It wasn’t until then that I thought about all the favors my friend must have done for others; all the experiences he must have shared that had allowed him to build up social capital—so much so that he always had a couch to crash on, anywhere he went.

Read the article: Lifestyles of the Young, Rich, and Homeless

What do others think of me

Civilization, which is held together by a fragile web of tactful phrasing, polite omissions and white lies, would collapse in an apocalypse of bitter recriminations and weeping, breakups and fistfights, divorces and bankruptcies, scandals and resignations, blood feuds, litigation, wholesale slaughter in the streets and lingering ill will. […] Hearing other people’s uncensored opinions of you is an unpleasant reminder that you’re just another person in the world, and everyone else does not always view you in the forgiving light that you hope they do, making all allowances, always on your side. There’s something existentially alarming about finding out how little room we occupy, and how little allegiance we command, in other people’s heads.

Read the article: I Know What You Think of Me

Life

Last week there were two deaths, close together; one, a class mate of mine from my school and college days; the other, a senior colleague, recently retired. Both untimely and both sudden. When in the thick of work, with the hours rushing by, as I get engrossed in files and meetings, the thought of the fragility of life never enters my mind. And why should it, I wonder: there are certain duties assigned to each of us and performing these duties is at the core of the meaning of life, as I see it. And so I, living life from minute to minute, caught in the moment, ignore tomorrow, ignore the uncertain and the unknowable.

Read the article: Our precious lives

Human survival depends on space exploration – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking says the colonization of outer space is key to the survival of humankind, predicting it will be difficult for the world’s inhabitants “to avoid disaster in the next hundred years”… Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.

Read the article: Human survival depends on space exploration, says Stephen Hawking

Existential Angst Factory

A widespread excuse for avoiding rationality is the widespread belief that it is “rational” to believe life is meaningless, and thus suffer existential angst. This is one of the secondary reasons why it is worth discussing the nature of morality. But it’s also worth attacking existential angst directly. I suspect that most existential angst is not really existential. I think that most of what is labeled “existential angst” comes from trying to solve the wrong problem.

Read the article: Existential Angst Factory – Less Wrong

The two paths to success

Of course this leads to the question, “What is success?” Someone who spent his life working 80 hour weeks, living in hotels, and fighting his way up the corporate ladder to become VP of toilet paper marketing would probably consider himself more successful than a sandwich shop owner who spends his nights and weekends playing with his kids and working on hobby projects, but maybe the sandwich shop owner would be happier and healthier. Ultimately, it is up to each person to decide what success means to them, but I think it’s important that everyone be mindful of the decision they are making.

Read the article: Paul Buchheit: The two paths to success

Life skills

[Our economy] demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns […] We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption.

Read the article: How to Make Trillions of Dollars