In Case You Needed More Proof of the Power of Deep Work…

Cal Newport’s latest blog post:

As longtime readers know, I enjoy tracking down the deep work habits of well known and highly accomplished individuals. This is why I was happy to recently stumble across a pair of interviews (here and here) in which the novelist John Grisham describes his professional routines.

Here’s what I learned…

  • Grisham primarily writes his novels during the winter months on his farm in Oxford, Mississippi. During this period he works five days a week, starting at 7 am and typically ending by 10 am.
  • Grisham writes in a period outbuilding on his property that used to house an antebellum summer kitchen. He and his wife refurbished the kitchen to maintain its period details (with the main exception being that they added electricity and air conditioning). Crucially, as Grisham explains: “[the building has] no phone, faxes, or internet. I don’t want the distraction. I don’t work online. I keep it offline.”
  • Grisham maintains strict rituals for his writing. He starts work on a novel on the same day each year, and starts writing each day at the same time. He works on the same computer. He drinks the same type of coffee out of the same cup. “My office routine rarely varies,” he explains. “It’s pretty structured.”
  • Grisham starts a new novel on January 1st and is usually done with the bulk of the writing by the end of March. He aims to be completely done with the manuscript by July. This leaves a nice half year period to recharge and work on new ideas.

I understand we all have different life circumstances and professions. Not many of us can construct a schedule just like Grisham’s. But the point is that highly focused, distraction-free work actually gives you more freedom, more free time in your life.

Could Michael Flynn Find His Way Back in the White House?

According to “reports,” President Trump seems to have regretted firing Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser and may want to bring him back.

The Independent:

“Trump feels really, really, really, bad about firing him, and he genuinely thinks if the investigation is over Flynn can come back,” a White House official said.

But, of course, that doesn’t mean he’ll make a comeback, let alone desire to do so:

Mr Flynn, sources close to him say, didn’t even really want the job in the first place.

“He did not want to be National Security Adviser,” Michael Ledeen, a friend of Mr Flynn’s, said. “He didn’t want to be in the government. He wanted to go back to private life.”

“But Trump insisted on it,” he continued.

I respect and appreciate Flynn’s contributions in getting Trump elected, but I think it’s best for all involved if Trump doesn’t re-hire him. Flynn screwed up and is, either fairly or unfairly, marred by controversy. There’s enough controversy already, even if it’s largely manufactured by a mainstream media that has it out for Trump.

Plus it sounds like Flynn just wants to be a private citizen. Good for him. Power and prominence are overrated anyway.

My Most Recent Book Purchases

1. “Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil” by Rüdiger Safranski

2. Martin Heidegger’s “Basic Writings”

3. “The Concept of the Political” by Carl Schmitt

4. “Essential German Grammar” by E.F. Bleiler and Guy Stern

5. Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”

6. “21st Century Italian-English/English-Italian Dictionary” by The Princeton Language Institute

7. Il Nuovo Testamento (Italian New Testament)

Remember Clock Boy?

Jog your memory all the way back to 2015. Ahmed Mohamed, aka “Clock Boy,” was the Muslim kid who supposedly made his own homemade alarm clock and brought it to school. One of his teachers thought it to be a bomb and eventually called the police.

Libs cried out in defense of this kid, saying his “civil rights” were violated, that he was “discriminated against” because of his ethnicity and/or religion, and so on.

Ahmed’s family filed a lawsuit in 2016, and now it’s been revealed that a judge has thrown out their entire case.

Daily Mail:

The judge wrote: ‘Plaintiff does not allege any facts from which this court can reasonably infer that any IISD employee intentionally discriminated against Ahmed Mohamed based on his race or religion.’

Further, he notes that the suit failed to identify any policy, custom, or practice of the City that was allegedly the moving force behind any violation of Ahmed’s Fifth Amendment rights.

When the lawsuit was first filed in 2016, the district hit back at the Mohamed family’s allegations saying Ahmed deliberately disobeyed his teacher by activating the clock despite her warning.

I forgot about Ahmed until I saw this story. Brings back many memories of poking fun at him—as well as the liberals who portrayed him as some sort of Einstein—when I used to be on Twitter.

This was priceless too:

Evan’s Friday Briefing: 5/19/17

Welcome to the 5/19/17 edition of “Evan’s Friday Briefing,” a quick list of what I’ve been enjoying, learning, and trying out.

Productivity Hack I’ve Been Doing

When I sit down to do some no distraction reading or writing, I put my headphones in, go to YouTube, and put on white noise. It quiets the stupid thoughts buzzing in my brain and allows me to focus. Works equally well in both quieter environments (e.g., at home by myself) and louder environments (e.g., a coffee shop).

Recent Purchase I’m Enjoying

Transcripture International’s “Bilingual New Testament English German.” Verse by verse comparison of the ASV’s and the 1912 Luther Bible’s New Testament. The Kindle version is 99 cents, so you bet it didn’t take me long to click “Buy Now.”

My Tip Of The Day

You will stumble and fail numerous times on your self-development journey. I still stumble and fail. The reason for no posts the past two days? I didn’t outline my schedule. Yeah, a very basic task that I was “too tired” to do. But you can’t dwell on your failures, you just have to pick yourself up and vow to be better the next day.

Great Quote I’ve Been Ruminating On

“Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Americans Don’t Know Where North Korea Is

This article from the New York Times illustrates that Americans who were able to find North Korea on a map tend to favor diplomacy over military aggression. They also overwhelmingly favor doing something over doing nothing.

The rest of the data is just as, if not more, interesting. One thing that struck me: people ages 45-54 are by far the worst age group at identifying North Korea. My mother falls into that age range, and she said she doesn’t remember ever learning geography in school. On the other hand, I do remember learning geography and having to identify foreign countries on map quizzes. And sure enough, millennials are significantly better than their parents at pointing out North Korea. Pretty anecdotal evidence, but I’m sure we’re better at teaching geography than we used to be.

Yet nevertheless, the stereotype that Americans flat out suck at geography still rings true. Only 36 percent of adults could correctly locate North Korea on a map. Here’s each guess:

I mean, come on. I expected fewer people to select major countries such as China, Japan, India, and even Australia (!!!). Sad.

Why make such a big deal about the geographical illiteracy of Americans, you may ask? A University of Oregon professor explains:

This spatial illiteracy, geographers say, can leave citizens without a framework to think about foreign policy questions more substantively. “The paucity of geographical knowledge means there is no check on misleading public representations about international matters,” said Alec Murphy, a professor of geography at the University of Oregon.

Simply put: Since Americans are geographically illiterate, they’re more likely to let politicians and the mainstream media tell them what to think about foreign policy. If you remember the 2014 Ukrainian turmoil, the media was hostile towards the pro-Russian protesters as well as Russia itself for annexing Crimea. Unsurprisingly, those who couldn’t identify Ukraine on a map were more likely to support military intervention. Those most likely to support intervention were furthest off in their guesses.

In a conversation with my father on this topic, he mentioned that American geographic illiteracy is a symptom of a larger problem: the average American’s lack of curiosity about the world in general. This is a great point. Think about it: if you knew anything about the cultural and sociopolitical climate of Iraq, you would’ve been more likely to envision a post-Saddam Iraq not as a “rosy scenario,” but as the spark for chaotic, violent sectarianism.

Now I wish someone would conduct a study to find a correlation between one’s ability to locate Syria on a map and his likelihood of supporting the forceful removal of Bashar al-Assad from power. That’d provide some intriguing data, and based on what we’ve seen here, I think I know the answer.

The million dollar question, though: How do we solve the geographic illiteracy of Americans? Is it even solvable?

I don’t pretend to know the answer, so let’s allow this scholar to take a stab:

Mike Cernovich is Not Fake News

Pro-Trump media personality Mike Cernovich was featured on a 60 Minutes segment back in late March, wherein Scott Pelley tried to portray him as “fake news.”

Call Cernovich what you will, but he is not fake news. The Daily Caller:

“Mike Cernovich continues to regularly scoop Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake, who appears to share at least one Trump administration source with the ‘Gorilla Mindset’ author,” wrote Will Sommer, an editor for The Hill, in his weekly newsletter on Monday. “Once again, Lake trailed in Cernovich’s wake this week with dueling stories about Trump’s discontent with national security adviser H.R. McMaster.”

On May 2, Cernovich reported that McMaster unilaterally hired Army Reserve Major General Ricky Waddell as his deputy “without obtaining authorization from President Donald Trump.” On May 8, Lake reported that chief of staff Reince Preibus was trying to block McMaster — who has become unpopular with Trump — from hiring Waddell. Two days, later, news broke that McMaster had successfully hired Waddell.

The reason for his scoops? Cernovich is a White House correspondent; he received his White House credentials in late April. That’s in addition to already being a best-selling author and documentary filmmaker.

I remember reading Cernovich’s work when he had fewer than 20,000 Twitter followers. As of this writing he sports 265,000. Quite a rise. His coverage of Trump’s candidacy no doubt helped precipitate that, along with his provocative style and other things.

Although he no longer seems to update his blog “Danger and Play”, Cernovich writes his columns over at Medium now.

Some may criticize him for his supposed lack of a coherent political ideology. But he’s a journalist first and foremost, not a political figure as such. I find much of his output, specifically “Gorilla Mindset,” to be of great value.