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Monthly Archives: October 2010

959734_22089591A few weeks back, I wrote about information overload: how overwhelmed I felt by the internet because it made it easy to find brilliant ideas. Because every click took me somewhere fascinating, I lost the ability to incorporate new information with my existing knowledge.

The solution I embarked on was a diet: a diet to cut information to a manageable level.

Since then I’ve added just one new blogger to my watch list. I’ve ditched bloggers who are only occasionally brilliant. Whilst this has made some difference, I’m still not happy with my current position.

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All human flourishing is enabled by restrictions. Similarly, when restrictions are lifted, or when a person is subject to no restrictions, flourishing descends into decay.

Let me give you an example. Algae forms a small percentage of the life in the sea. Normally algae are subject to tough restraints, competing for the limited nutrition (mainly phosphates and nitrates) in the ocean.

Sometimes, due to reasons both natural and manmade, there are patches of ocean exceptionally rich in phosphates and nitrates. Algae reproduce at a phenomenal rate in these patches. When this happens, the algae monopolize all the available nutrients in the patch. Other marine life dies out when it encounters the algae patch, leaving a giant dead patch behind the algae. It may take years before life in that area is restored to normal.

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After many years of bright orange and black, it was time for something different. A move to the other extreme; that I did not foresee. Yet the choice has been made, the dice cast, and I have a new blog theme.

I have great faith in the power of blog themes to influence reality. Changing theme has bought on a powerful bout of introspection.

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At the heart of all legal reasoning lie two methods of argument. The first, and paramount, method is the argument from authority. The second is the application of first principles, wielded as a yardstick to measure the diktats of authority and mitigate its harshness.

The form of an argument from authority is simple: (a) Source A (e.g. a decision the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal) says that the Proposition P is true, (b) Source A is a binding source for Proposition P or, if not binding, is a highly authoritative and persuasive source and (c) therefore Proposition P is true.

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Award winning author Ian Rankin is best known for his his series of detective novels featuring gruff Scottish Detective Inspector John Rebus. The series spans twenty years and twenty novels, starting with Knots & Crosses in 1987 to the 2007 release of Exit Music.

I’d never read any of the books before, so when Rich bought it to my attention I was intrigued by the opportunity to read the series from start to finish.

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

A path is reassuring: others have come this way. A well worn path is safe, many have come this way. A well worn path drawn on a map is security; this is the ‘recognised’ way to the destination.

I see career paths through this lens. To work in a profession (engineers, lawyers, doctors and so forth) is to travel a time-honoured well worn path. It is to walk on tarred roads. You pay the tolls, work your hours, start at the beginning, and walk steadily to the rewards.

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