On Benefits – Letter 1

By Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I’m thinking of reading each of these letters and putting them out as a podcast. If you’d like me to continue, please let me know in the comments section.

Source – Gutenberg.org

Letter 1

Among the numerous faults of those who pass their lives recklessly and without due reflexion, my good friend Liberalis, I should say that there is hardly any one so hurtful to society as this, that we neither know how to bestow or how to receive a benefit.

It follows from this that benefits are badly invested, and become bad debts: in these cases it is too late to complain of their not being returned, for they were thrown away when we bestowed them. Nor need we wonder that while the greatest vices are common, none is more common than ingratitude: for this I see is brought about by various causes.

The first of these is, that we do not choose worthy persons upon whom to bestow our bounty, but although when we are about to lend money we first make a careful enquiry into the means and habits of life of our debtor, and avoid sowing seed in a worn-out or unfruitful soil, yet without any discrimination we scatter our benefits at random rather than bestow them.

It is hard to say whether it is more dishonorable for the receiver to disown a benefit, or for the giver to demand a return of it: for a benefit is a loan, the repayment of which depends merely upon the good feeling of the debtor. To misuse a benefit like a spendthrift is most shameful, because we do not need our wealth but only our intention to set us free from the obligation of it; for a benefit is repaid by being acknowledged.

Yet while they are to blame who do not even show so much gratitude as to acknowledge their debt, we ourselves are to blame no less. We find many men ungrateful, yet we make more men so, because at one time we harshly and reproachfully demand some return for our bounty, at another we are fickle and regret what we have given, at another we are peevish and apt to find fault with trifles.

By acting thus we destroy all sense of gratitude, not only after we have given anything, but while we are in the act of giving it. Who has ever thought it enough to be asked for anything in an off-hand manner, or to be asked only once?

Who, when he suspected that he was going to be asked for any thing, has not frowned, turned away his face, pretended to be busy, or purposely talked without ceasing, in order not to give his suitor a chance of preferring his request, and avoided by various tricks having to help his friend in his pressing need? and when driven into a corner, has not either put the matter off, that is, given a cowardly refusal, or promised his help ungraciously, with a wry face, and with unkind words, of which he seemed to grudge the utterance. Yet no one is glad to owe what he has not so much received from his benefactor, as wrung out of him.

Who can be grateful for what has been disdainfully flung to him, or angrily cast at him, or been given him out of weariness, to avoid further trouble? No one need expect any return from those whom he has tired out with delays, or sickened with expectation.

A benefit is received in the same temper in which it is given, and ought not, therefore, to be given carelessly, for a man thanks himself for that which he receives without the knowledge of the giver.

Neither ought we to give after long delay, because in all good offices the will of the giver counts for much, and he who gives tardily must long have been unwilling to give at all. Nor, assuredly, ought we to give in offensive manner, because human nature is so constituted that insults sink deeper than kindnesses; the remembrance of the latter soon passes away, while that of the former is treasured in the memory; so what can a man expect who insults while he obliges? All the gratitude which he deserves is to be forgiven for helping us.

On the other hand, the number of the ungrateful ought not to deter us from earning men’s gratitude; for, in the first place, their number is increased by our own acts. Secondly, the sacrilege and indifference to religion of some men does not prevent even the immortal gods from continuing to shower their benefits upon us: for they act according to their divine nature and help all alike, among them even those who so ill appreciate their bounty.

Let us take them for our guides as far as the weakness of our mortal nature permits; let us bestow benefits, not put them out at interest. The man who while he gives thinks of what he will get in return, deserves to be deceived.

But what if the benefit turns out ill? Why, our wives and our children often disappoint our hopes, yet we marry—and bring up children, and are so obstinate in the face of experience that we fight after we have been beaten, and put to sea after we have been shipwrecked. How much more constancy ought we to show in bestowing benefits! If a man does not bestow benefits because he has not received any, he must have bestowed them in order to receive them in return, and he justifies ingratitude, whose disgrace lies in not returning benefits when able to do so.

How many are there who are unworthy of the light of day? and nevertheless the sun rises. How many complain because they have been born? yet Nature is ever renewing our race, and even suffers men to live who wish that they had never lived.

It is the property of a great and good mind to covet, not the fruit of good deeds, but good deeds themselves, and to seek for a good man even after having met with bad men. If there were no rogues, what glory would there be in doing good to many? As it is, virtue consists in bestowing benefits for which we are not certain of meeting with any return, but whose fruit is at once enjoyed by noble minds.

So little influence ought this to have in restraining us from doing good actions, that even though I were denied the hope of meeting with a grateful man, yet the fear of not having my benefits returned would not prevent my bestowing them, because he who does not give, forestalls the vice of him who is ungrateful. I will explain what I mean.

He who does not repay a benefit, sins more, but he who does not bestow one, sins earlier.

Needed: Three (+) Way Audio Recording Software

We are looking for a three-way (or four-way/five-way/etc…) audio recording software which provides individual tracks for each person on the recording.

Splitting all the tracks is empowering for podcast editors, but I won’t get into why in this article.

Today we ran a test with this other companies software and the results of our three person recording was as follows:

This doesn’t solve the split track recording because all three voices are on the same track. Also, the track is stereo for reasons I don’t understand. Why not just make it mono when both sides of the track are the same?

I used Audacity to generate an example of what we are looking for:

This assumes that we aren’t interrupting/ speaking over each other. If we were speaking over each-other, the wave lengths (bumpy blue lines) would be on the same vertical.

That’s the problem folks! Anyone know software that solves it?

How to Create a Website with HTML, CSS and JavaScript

When I was learning to code, I often struggled with fundamentals like connecting the index html file to the JavaScript and CSS files that went with it. I made the following tutorial to help beginners write quick applications.

Potentially helpful things a young coder will learn in this tutorial:

  • How to use the terminal to:
    • Create new files
    • Move and rename files
    • Create new directories
    • Navigate folders and files using the terminal
  •  Create a new HTML5 document and format it correctly
  • Link CSS files to compliment the HTML5 document
  • Link JavaScript files to create functionality for the HTML5 document
  • Use Google Chrome’s developer tools to test functionality

Open Source – Just get the Code

If you’re planning on building a really simple website and you don’t feel the need to retype everything in this tutorial, you can copy the code from the following open-source repository:

A Blank Website with JavaScript, CSS and HTML Functioning.

Thank you for watching. Please let me know if you found this useful, or if there is something you would like to add.

Keynesian economic thinking versus classical economic thinking (Peter Thiel vs. Lawrence Summers)

Keynesian economic thinking versus classical economic thinking. Another dig at Lawrence Summers.

I’m of the same opinion as Thiel in this. In order to supply economic growth in the US, we need to make it easier for people to create.

We have a problem because so much of the supply side is throttled by regulations. Starting a business is hard in the USA. Business owners pay self employment taxes and are forced to create compensation packages that match government legal requirements (minimum wage, health care, w-2 type tax obligations). Most US citizens spend their entire lives here so the administration cost is considered healthy behavior. This administration cost is not healthy.

My European friends are generally surprised with the complexity of the process we go through to do our federal income taxes. But the Europeans are more likely to have complex state run demands on their time than other parts of the world. When I compare my business processes in the USA to those of friends in Asia, Central or South America, it’s clear that we have a great weight on our shoulders when we build US based businesses. The administration costs are only the first step on a stairwell of unfriendly business behaviors.

To start a hair cutting business, one must go into debt to attend state mandated schools.

To start a campground the entrepreneur has to spend thousands developing plans for city, county and state organizations.

So doing things in the physical world today, is more expensive than doing things in the digital world. Perhaps that is why we see so much economic development on the internet these days, and less on the street.

Principles

This is a list of my own principles. This list was inspired by Ray Dalio. Ray lamented in his book that there wasn’t a written down list of principles from many of the greatest thinkers of our society.

I believe a world of shared principles would be a better place. Therefore I’ll list my own principles here in the hopes it inspires others to think critically about their principles.

Principles

This is a working list.
Updated May 4th 2018

 

    1. Honesty is an attribute which pays infinite dividends. Always be a person who speaks the truth and executes on the plans one commits to. Honesty is the core of all trusting relationships. If you allow yourself to be dishonest, it will be forever impossible to become honest again.
    2. Be kind to people. Kind people get more from every interaction.
    3. Be happy with people. Happy people get more from every interaction.
    4. Supporting the goals of others is an excellent way to improve one’s own’s chances of achieving one’s own goals.
    5. Constantly improving one’s knowledge of philosophy, engineering, art, athletics will lead to a consistently enriched life.
    6. If someone is angry with you, remember that their anger is probably a derivative of their own disappointment in themselves. Therefore, respond to anger with patience and sympathy.
    7. When getting ripped off or robbed, remember that you will survive the event. The thief will lose the long-term capacity to improve their lives. Note: This does not serve one in extreme situations.
    8. In extreme situations, the evils of the outside world need to be responded to with extreme force. Avoid extreme situations where you are subject to evil. If an extreme situation is unavoidable, plan consciously and absolutely to destroy the source of the situation.
    9. Trusting people is a brave and powerful tool.
    10. Read about historical brutality (especially wars, torture and genocide) to become grateful for the modern times.
    11. Zero-sum-games are less common in the real world than in economics books. More often than not, there is a way for all parties to achieve mutually beneficial relationships.
    12. New experiences stretch one’s understanding of the opportunities in life.  Try to get out of your comfort zone enough to continue developing as a person.
    13. When experiencing hard times in life, it is always your fault. Never assign the reasons for your failures to others. It does you no service to exiting those hard times and it makes you powerless to others.

Inspired by Ray Dalio

Learn More about Principles

You can pick up Ray Dalio’s book by click thing here.

I made a random principle generator of Ray’s Principles, you can check out by clicking here. 

Final Thoughts on Sharing One’s Principles

What if everyone wrote down their principles?

What if everyone thought critically about their principles?

If you find this list useful, please feel free to list your own principles and link them in the comment section below.

I hope you found this useful.

Fly in Canarias – The Most Exciting Thing I’ve Done in the Canary Islands

Today we went paragliding with Chris from fly in canarias. This was a super exciting adventure and I’ll be honest, I was terrified of doing it. Luckily, I’ve got friends who influence me to do stuff that scares the heck out of me. I’ve turned the corner on that fear now and am contemplating getting a paragliding kit and taking a 5 week course. We can save that for later though. Here is the video:

Paragliding the Canary Islands

Paragliding is essentially kite flying where the kite is strong enough to carry the pro and a guest.

paragliding canary islands - fly in canarias

The day was so exciting that we look like a bunch of giddy teenagers after everyone went flying. Here’s our group:

paragliding canary islands - our fly team

One cool thing about paragliding is that it takes place in beautiful places. Los Gilles is a town in the Canary Island called Gran Canaria. These stunning views empower some cute photography. Here’s a shot of V carrying me.

paragliding canary islands - v supports

About Fly in Canarias

You can learn more about the group that took us paragliding on their website.

Paragliding Planning

If you’re planning on going, here’s one thing to keep in mind. Paragliding is critically dependent on the wind conditions. This makes for an activity relies heavily on conditions which the tour company has no control over. It’s like skiing, surfing or sailing. Without wind, your plans will be ruined.

The good news is that Chris was excellent at describing to us the situation. We met at an initial place which we learned would not work out. Then we made plans to go to the other side of the island, but on the way there he called us and we turned around. The wind had shifted and our initial plan was now acceptable.

When we arrived at the launch pad, Chris hustled to get us into the air while the going was good. It worked out perfectly. We each took a 20-minute flight and returned safely to the landing pad.

Connect with Fly in Canarias

If you’re headed to the Canary Islands and you’re looking for something fun to do with a date or with the family,  I can’t recommend this enough. Not only will you see a big chunk of the islands, but you’ll do something that stretches your limits and pushes the adrenaline through your veins.

Connect with Fly in Canarias:

We delt specifically with Chris. He was great. You might want to mention his name when you call them up to organize a time. Here’s where to start:

Connect | Prices

Later that Day, in the Grand Canary Islands…

One very cool thing about paragliding is that it happens quick. After a 20-minute flight, you still have a ton of time to see more of the island. David and I went surfing after this, but I’ll share that video later.

Thank you for visiting.

Surfing Pacifica 2018 | Mostly a Review of the GoPro Hero6

We spent the afternoon surfing Pacifica, California. The video is basically my first attempt at making a movie with my new GoPro Hero6. Here are some of the lessons I learned from working with the camera for my first time in the water.

Specific GoPro Hero6 Black Stats at Time of Shooting

This is the new GoPro I won from doing the Roses are Rad film festival:

GoPro Hero6

Name = GP05828030

Version Number = 01.51

sunset wave break - surfing pacifica

Surfing Pacifica with a New GoPro – Lessons Learned

Hang loose - surfing pacifica

The new GoPro Hero6 is my favorite of all those that I have owned in the past. That said, I still don’t feel like they have perfected the camera.

Problems

  • Touch Screen Lock? When I hold the camera in my teeth and ski down a mountain, sometimes it gets intense and my tongue accidentally touches the screen. This causes unwanted video stoppages recording accurately.
  • Battery Reliability? The camera showed a 0% battery when I first went out. Though I thought this was a mistake, I didn’t film for 15 minutes as I thought the battery was dead. I then tried it again later and found the battery at 85%. My guess is that the camera suffers in the cold, Northern California ocean water.
  • Temperature Problems? The day after filming the above video, I took the camera out and it froze again. This time it was just stuck on the media playback scene. It remained frozen the whole time I was in the water so I lost a bunch of opportunities to film. That included a dolphin sighting and Veronica catching some fairly large waves on a longboard.
  • Sound? Thus far, the sound remains a big weakness of the GoPros. It’s beyond me how a waterproof camera can record sound at all, but I none-the-less wish it could record sound a little better.

Excellences

  • Slow Motion – Filming at 120 fps allows me to slow down some really great shots. This camera does an excellent job.
  • Record Button – I love the way the new record button feels
  • Lack of Housing – The lack of housing rocks. That makes this camera much easier to film with. It also has a lot less critical pieces which make for a better filming experience.

still water - surfing pacifica