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Misconceptions about Cryptcurrency, Taking a Break from Novelty, Knowing the Right Order of Things, When to Worry, The Most Important Kind Of Practice, & Celebrating on Saturn (Reading/Study Notes 5.24.18)

Resource: The Single Biggest Misconception About Cryptocurrency


On the inherently bubble-like nature of markets:

“Goldman Sachs head of Research Steve Strongin compares the current market to the “internet bubble of the late 1990s.” That’s what markets do. They swing from bubble to crash to bubble again. The word I use to describe that phenomena is capitalism.”

The biggest misconception in crytpo:

“But what I was puzzled by was the Steve’s statement that “Contrary to what one would expect in a rational market, new currencies don’t seem to reduce the value of old currencies; they all seem to move as a single asset class.” Surprisingly, Steve believes in, what I believe to be, the biggest misconception in Crypto. And that’s that all cryptocurrencies are “currencies”.

“I’ll use electricity to give a simple analogy. Soon after the invention of electricity, a restaurant decided to put in electricity. And then a clothing store put in electricity. And then a book store put in electricity. And yo you know what many people called those companies that were the first to utilize the new technology known as electricity? They called them “electric companies”, because they used electricity. It’s the same thing with cryptocurrency.”

How tokens work:

“There’s a series of new technologies that effectively enables companies to tokenize what were previously called “frequent flier miles” or other types of customer engagement tools or rewards. Customers can buy or earn these rewards and then use them to get goods or services from the companies distributing them. Now we don’t call companies that issue frequent flier miles “frequent flier miles companies”. We call them airlines, and recognize that they have frequent flier miles as a feature. That’s what most cyrptocurrency/utility tokens are. Every day, more and more companies are tokenizing parts of their customer interaction. But that doesn’t mean they’re currencies. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the value of other companies that are tokenized should go down.”


Not all crypto-assets are currencies. Many are, but many are not.

Cryptocurrencies (ie. bitcoin, monero, dash, Zcash, etc) are forms of digital money. Crytp-tokens are digital assets that holders can use to benefit from various services and rewards offered by the companies who issue them. Just as cryptocurrency digitizes money, crytpo-tokens digitizes things like frequent flyer rewards and membership benefits.

When electricity was first invented, the companies who were the first to use electricity were call electric companies. But that wasn’t because they actually provided electricity. It was because they used it to provide services and products that had nothing to do with electricity (ie. a book store or restaurant). As the use of electricity became normalized, companies that used electricity stopped being tagged with that label. In a similar manner, a company is not a crypto company merely because it uses crypto-assests, but this is how people speak about them.

Bubbles happen. Bubbles are not a sign that something is wrong or bad. Bubbles are a process of market correction that eventually filters out the things that aren’t built to last.

Take the time to learn about crypto assets as the return on investment is high.

Resource: There Is No Catching Up


On why we’re drawn to the work of others:

“I forgot who said this, but someone once told me that we come to other people’s creative work out of a secret desire and hope that someone understands us better than we understand ourselves. We come to Austen and Kubrick and Basquiat and Aretha under the hopes that they have the same acute feelings, but more able hands and voices that can some how capture that fleeting emotion and crystalize it. We quote, because someone said it better than we can.” – Frank Chimero

On the time, effort, and practice it takes to produce work of substance:

“There is so much promise. Buttons to push to make words and pictures and films and stories, then the tubes to push them through to capture audiences with meaningful experiences. There is so much opportunity for connection. And so it goes. The work billows out. Most of it is waste, chew-toys for the ruminent mind. But finding connection in creative work is mining for diamonds, not harpooning fish in a kiddie-pool. And developing those capable hands and voices takes time and practice. (And produces a lot of work that is just rubbish.)” -Frank Chimero

On the potential that lies in our capacity to step back and pause:

“But wouldn’t it be great? To have a moment to regroup and understand? Everybody would ask, Okie doke, what new poems am I going to read today? Sorry: none. There are no new poems. And so you’re thrown back onto what’s already there, and you look at what’s on your own shelves, that you bought maybe eight years ago, and you think, Have I really looked at this book? This book might have something to it. And it’s there, it’s been waiting and waiting. Without any demonstration or clamor. No squeaky wheel. It’s just been waiting. If everybody was silent for a year… if we could just stop this endless forward stumbling progress… wouldn’t we all be better people?” – Nicholson Baker

“A year with no poems. A week with no news. A day without kerranging. I don’t long for focus. I long for negative space. Pause. Full rest. Declaring a space that is to remain empty, with the presumption that because a portion is left vacant, it makes the whole better. Pause. The world will keep charging and accelerating. But, as my friend Drew said, “There is no catching up.” And because of that, I raise my white flag, and crack another dusty spine.” -Frank Chimero


There’s always something new and we’re never going to be able to catch up with it all. The chase is fun. The progress is inspiring. But trying to keep up with it all is sometimes overwhelming. We suffer from information overload and content-consumption anxiety. Sometimes it’s best to just take a break from need to know everything about what’s happening. Even though there’s so much beautiful new work out there, there’s also a lot of beauty within you and the world of old art/old writing that’s worth exploring. Do you have the power to take a break from what’s new in order to delve into what’s stood the test of time? Do you have the power to pause? What would happen if you did?

Resource: The order


“It’s tempting to decide to make a profit first, then invest in training, people, facilities, promotion, customer service and most of all, doing important work. In general, though, it goes the other way.”


People come before profits. Wealth is a reward for creating value. If you want to create value, start figuring our how solve people’s problems. And don’t just focus on your customers. Focus on the people you work with as well. Never put anything before treating human beings with respect and dignity.

Resource: Getting clear about risk


Godin’s method for distinguishing legitimate causes for worry from unproductive anxiety:

“So, what’s the difference between being concerned about an asteroid hitting the Earth and being aware of how dangerous driving a Corvair at high speed is? Here’s the simple approach: How much would it cost you (in time, money, effort, distraction) to make yourself ten times less likely to be at risk?”

On how to focus on the differences that make a difference:

“It turns out that wearing a helmet is a cheap way to avoid a lifetime spine injury. You get a 10x improvement for very little effort. Knowing about the risk is really helpful, and any time you’re tempted to run the risk, remind yourself of its implications. On the other hand, the only way to becoming one-tenth as likely to die from choking on food is to stop eating anything but soup. Hardly worth it. If there isn’t a way to improve your odds, it’s not clear why it’s worth a lot of time or worry.”

“Worry is useful when it changes our behavior in productive ways. The rest of the time, it’s a negative form of distraction, an entertainment designed to keep us from doing our work and living our lives.”


Sometimes it’s good to worry or be afraid. If you’re inside a burning building, being worried or afraid of the possibility that you’ll suffer a fatal injury is useful if it motivates you to get out. Fretting over the possibility of a surprise alien invasion, however, isn’t very helpful. Some things you should worry about. Some things you shouldn’t fret about. So a useful way to figure out which is which is by asking yourself “Can I do something about this by changing my behavior?” If you can, then maybe it’s worth worrying about. If you can’t, then it’s probably not worth worrying about. The follow-up question should be “If I can do something about this by changing my behavior, is that change worth the cost to me?”

Resource: Two kinds of practice


Seth Godin on the first kind of practice:

“Practice your technique and your process to get yourself ever more skilled at doing it (whatever ‘it’ is) to spec. This is the practice of grand slalom, of arithmetic, of learning your lines or c++.”

On the second kind of practice:

“This is the practice of failure. Of trying on one point of view after another until you find one that works. Of creating original work that doesn’t succeed until it does. Of writing, oration and higher-level math in search of an elusive outcome, even a truth, one that might not even be there.”

On how originality is developed:

“We become original through practice. We’ve seduced ourselves into believing that this sort of breakthrough springs fully formed, as Athena did from Zeus’ head. Alas, that’s a myth. What always happens (as you can discover by looking at the early work of anyone you admire), is that she practiced her way into it.”


Originality isn’t something we’re born with or that we luckily fall into. It’s something we develop over time through a specific kind of practice.

If you look at the early work of people you admire, you’ll realize that the genius and brilliance you’ve come to love is really the by-product of meticulous process of mastery in which they constantly explored new risks.

One example of this is how stand-up comedians frequently use tours or open-mic nights to work on new materials. They often tell bad jokes that no one laughs at, but this is how they find out what’s good and this is how they refine the bits that have potential. It would be easy for them not to do this since every bad joke is like a hit to their comedic reputation, but the growth that comes from it contains greater gains than the losses that come from making mistakes and getting things wrong.

Resource: Do they celebrate on Saturn?


“A hundred years ago, “everyone” wore a hat. If everyone meant men of a certain social stratum in certain cities. And people wore the hat because everyone else did. And everyone is taking the day off and everyone is watching the big game and everyone is busy checking their status on Facebook. Except…Except that in other time zones or other communities, everyone isn’t doing anything of the sort. And on Saturn, they’ve never even heard of it.”

“Peer pressure is a little like barometric pressure. It’s constant, it’s all around us and we assume that it’s universal. If it’s not helping you achieve your goals, ignore it.”


Sometimes it seems as if everyone is doing this or everyone is saying that or everyone is thinking this, but this is never true. Whenever we say “everyone is doing, thinking, or saying X” we’re really just focusing on a particular demographic in a particular setting at a particular time. But there are always people who aren’t interested in that. And these people aren’t just weird outliers. They’re healthy sane people just like you. So don’t believe the hype by buying into the illusion that you’re some kind of loser or that you’re missing out for not being obsessed with or worried about what everyone else is focusing on.

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