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A World With A View
Wisdom Letter #9
The world is an interesting place.
And there’s a lot to learn from the goings on of the world only if you know where to look.
But first and most importantly, you need to break away from the daily news cycle.
The daily news, in all of its forms, be it the age old newspapers with all their rich legacy, the most popular TV news channels, news sites, or popular social networks like Facebook or Twitter, all of them are in the business of selling your attention to advertisers.
And the bait that they hook you with is this manufactured need to know what’s happening around you at every minute of every day. In reality the daily “news” doesn’t affect your life at all, it doesn’t really matter.
What does matter are the larger narratives and themes that take place at a much slower but assured pace. We only find out about them when its often too late and when we are already feeling the heat right in the middle of our very own personal Boiling Frog Syndrome.
Once you’ve made your peace with giving up on the daily news, you can start to look elsewhere to draw valuable insights from other avenues.
Avenues that can actually help you understand the world better, make sense of it better, avenues that help you see long drawn patterns and know when the water has started to boil.
And that’s the kind of patterns that we are looking for today.
Hong Kong has a strange past. A unique history that has more impact on its present state than we can imagine. It has been in the news lately for the massive civilian protests going on for the past few months.
We cannot fully understand the protests until we look back at HK’s history and how it came to be what it is today.
At the heart of the protests is a very basic issue of individual identity conflicting with state ideology. An issue that most of us can relate to if we have ever lived in an unfamiliar place or under an unfamiliar government.
With the rise and rise of authoritarian regimes around the world, Hong Kong sets a great example of peaceful and effective mass civil resistance.
The good folks at Vox have made a few brilliant videos exploring the history and present situation in Hong Kong, illustrating the roots of the conflict.
Check them out
How 156 years of British rule shaped Hong Kong
China is erasing its border with Hong Kong
Now with some context on HK’s history, this is a good video on the recent protests that were going on.
Hong Kong’s huge protests, explained
Donald Trump is a polarising phenomenon.
Much has been written about how he came to be the president of the US in 2016. What is his voter base, how the conservatives in the US think that he is their only chance to “make America great again”.
These ideas have been explored at length by various experts.
A unique perspective on the rise of Donald Trump comes from writer-creator Scott Adams. (The guy who writes the popular comic strip Dilbert)
In this podcast with James Altucher he speaks about how Trump used mass persuasion and hypnosis to become the president.
Adams has a mastery in influence and persuasion and he understands human nature better than most people. Its fascinating how he breaks down Trump’s campaign and we see a different side to it that makes so much more sense.
Listen to the episode:
HOW TO USE MASS PERSUASION TECHNIQUES TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
Silicon Valley has a problem.
And its not a problem they can solve with more code running on more silicon.
You know how startups in the valley are obsessed about making the world a better place with whatever they do. Well, their tall claims start to fall short once you see who they are willing to take piles of money from.
Saudi Arabia has a lot of Oil Money. And it wants to invest all that money in the OIL of the next generation — Data. In this endeavour to build its next empire powered by technology, it has found vulnerable takers in the valley founders.
Amidst human rights violations, suppression of free speech and questionable women’s rights stand, Saudi Arabia is not the kind of investor that idealistic tech entrepreneurs would like to be associated with. And yet they are.
This story from The New York Times last year, after the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, explores the strengthening bond between Silicon Valley and Saudi Arabia, and the tough questions it raises.
Canada has been called the first post-national society. That too by none other than their prime minister, back in 2015.
The liberals of the world look towards Canada to break the trends of aggressive hyper-nationalism we see everywhere else.
And PM Justin Trudeau is their messiah, only he can can lead us all into a peaceful, post-national utopia that is powered by green clean energy and is happily inhabited by diverse people of all races, colours and religions.
Or so we wish.
With the elections just over last month in Canada, and people’s superhero Trudeau about to form a minority government, with a sharp fall in vote share, this is a good time to look at the other side of Canada, and the other side of Trudeau. A side we may all not be aware of, and Trudeau may not be very proud of.
This episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj from a couple of months ago, explores the two sides of Canada and asks some tough questions of prime minster Trudeau.
The Two Sides of Canada
Brexit delayed again this week.
For the 3rd time now, the UK has missed on its ‘Do or Die’ promise, and its neither doing anything about it nor dying because of it.
The new date for the exodus is set in January 2020.
But keeping with our theme of staying away from the daily news cycle, and deciphering long drawn patterns in global events, this is a good time to review the reasons why any European citizen would think it fit to leave or just end the European union.
This video from Kurzgesagt, from 2 years ago, does a great job of exploring this idea and tries to answer the question— has the EU failed, is it still relevant, is it worth it, or should it just be ended?
Is the European Union Worth It Or Should We End It?
While the question of EU’s relevance can still be discussed in logical, rational terms, the reasons for UK’s decision to quit the EU seem more misguided and irrational.
In his Ted Talk from 2016, professor Alexander Betts speaks about how blissfully unaware we all are of the divisions within our own societies.
This liberal response to Brexit is a classic case of ‘Boiling Frog syndrome’ we talked about earlier.
Professor Betts explores that in detail in his talk, and also shares measures that can be taken to fight this anti-globalisation sentiment brewing across the world.
After more than 3 years, the talk is still as relevant as if it was recorded just last week.
Check it out
Why Brexit happened -- and what to do next | Alexander Betts
Singing off for the weekend, here’s a quote from prime minister Trudeau that we just love
Listen to the man, stop following the news.
And when something important happens, we are here to draw the most important insights from it.
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Aditi & Ayush
And if you’re wondering why we are doing this project, what is the point of it? checkout the intro post, it might make some sense!