“…the wisdom to stop exploring when you found something that’s worth sticking around for…”

June 27, 2021

That was a fav of mine, Sebastian Junger, reflecting on ‘balance’ to another fav, Tim Ferriss.

An extract below:

From: Lessons from War, Tribal Societies, and a Non-Fiction Life (Sebastian Junger) (#161).

There is so much practical, perennial wisdom there.

Postscript: My cup runneth over.

postPostscript: I hate MOST (~99%) of the so-called ‘self-help literature’ pretensions from the bottom of my heart. But there are exceptions. And, 100% of these exceptions are NOT packaged as ‘self-help’ – and that’s a relief.

10 Responses to ““…the wisdom to stop exploring when you found something that’s worth sticking around for…””

  1. dagalti Says:

    Good one.
    Shall hear the podcast.

    Ironically, before I knew this psalm with the lines

    /He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
    He leadeth me beside the still waters/

    I learnt a hymn in school with the verses:

    Not for ever in green pastures
    do we ask our way to be;
    but the steep and rugged pathway
    may we tread rejoicingly

    Not for ever by still waters
    would we idly rest and stay;
    but would smite the living fountains
    from the rocks along our way


    முன்பெல்லாம் comfort zoneல் சௌரியமாக உட்காரும்தோரும் படுத்திவிடும். வயசாக ஆக உப்பு புளி மிளகாய் சமாசாரங்கள் பிரதனாமாகி, ஓரளவு சமாளித்தாகிவிட்டது.

    • //idly rest

      Hope they would serve good quality sambhaar (not KA one, but TN stuff) and chutney too. With appropriate dashes of salt tamarind and chilli – I mean.

      In spite of the general atrocity that the KJV stuff is, I find certain parts of the Jewish portions of the books really moving. Um, other parts are also mostly moving, but they are of the bowel kind.

      All said and done, if you have some views on the gents, do share.

      • dagalti Says:

        /Jewish version/
        என்ன ஒரு துல்லிய பங்கீடு :-)
        நான்லாம் மலைப்பிரசங்க சுத்துவட்டாரங்கள்ல நெக்குருகிக் கழுத்தில்லாது.. தெரியும் ymmv அதானே.

        /view on the gents/
        யார் பெத்த பிள்ளையோ, இனிமே தான் பரிச்சயப்படுத்திக்கணும்.
        கொஞ்சம் தெரிஞ்சிகிட்டு அப்புறம் நிறைய தெரிஞ்ச மாதிரி உதார் விடறேன்.

      • //பங்கீடு

        இல்லயா பின்னே. பங்குத் தந்தேங்க கிட்ட எவ்ளோ பட்ச்சிர்க்கோம் நாம.


        Something tells me you may be a thoroughbred vegetarian – but wtf do you indulge in this relentless fishermanship?

      • dagalti Says:

        Very interesting podcast, Thank You.
        I hadn’t heard of Junger – I’ve only watched the film adaptation of ‘The Perfect Storm’.

        There were a few ‘studies show’ kind of anthropological assertions and inferences on human behaviour thereof – that I am typically wary of. I am guessing you are too – as discussed in the earlier comments exchange about ‘rigour in social sciences’.

        At best they are theoretical propositions one can muse on but can never assert with much certainty, but are interesting nevertheless : male bonding, egalitarianism in crisis based on anecdotes but he goes on to muse about ‘solutions’ like simulating togetherness, PTSD therapy by Veterans sharing experiences in TownHalls (it would be interesting to know what fellow commentator here, seethayv, thinks about this)

        Let me give a specific example of jumping to inference from anecdote that I have trouble with. I do vaguely remember the reading about the case of recovered kidnapped whites returning to Native American adopted families. Junger uses the point to infer that they preferred tribal egalitarianism to civilised hierarchical colonial society. It was just too anecdotal to build that much on.

        These kind of statements based on just data points of occurrence, don’t offer themselves to analyses of unpacking confounding factors.

        I’m not finding fault with Junger, who comes across as astute, but with the field itself (you may remember a much earlier exchange where I was wondering one ‘how do folklorists back up claims?’).

        Clifford Geertz முதற்கொண்டு எனக்கு இந்தக் குழப்பம் உண்டு. இதை ஒரு தோராயமா தானே சொல்ல முடியும்? எப்படி இவ்வளவு அழுத்தம் திருத்தமா சொல்றார் etc.

        Perhaps it points to my bull-headedness regarding நிரூபணவாதம் in certain things.

        All said, it was a gem-laden interview.

        One of my favourites was his advice to journalist (non-fictional writers) where he says:
        (Sic) Don’t try to solve a problem with language.


      • (am happy to be of reasonable service)

        As a fellow-bull (for the most part) – I agree & resonate with the core of your arguments.

        IIRC, it was with the rather folkloristically confident assertions of Prof Dharmaraj Thamburaj (who may turn out to be an yet another instance of Tho Paramasivam, sadly) that, some info was exchanged about mere anecdotes becoming gospel, non-contingent truths, so to say.

        Yes. This is a big issue, repeated use of the abhorrent tactic, that makes the social(!)sciences(!!) so laughable, among other things.

        I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that, the ‘benchstones’ for the aforesaid abomination – namely social(!)sciences(!!) – are being forced on the normal, innocent sciences, exact ones at that.

        I recently heard about some MIT chem dept blokes talking about BLM and closing down for a day or something like that.

        Oh what fun.

        But. Clifford Geertz. (some other time)

      • dagalti Says:

        That anecdote of measuring serotonin levels in one hour intervals for the commander and field troops had me smiling.

        ஒரே ஒரு தடவை measure பண்ணிட்டு பக்கம் பக்கமா inference பண்றீங்களேப்பா.

        As you may know the Econ Nobel Winners Kremer-Banerjee-Duflo (and their ex-colleague and an அந்தகாலத்து wunderkid, What some were expecting would also make the list, Sendhil Mullainathan) were criticised by classical development economists for generalising conclusions based on these kind of very specific experiments.

        The experimental approach was criticised for
        a) models being inherently marginally statistically significant
        b) models being – by very design – difficult to replicate, let alone generalise. At best it would be very insightfulness in an extremely specific scenario. You don’t even know what will perturb it!
        c) thus trading theoretical generalisability for rigour, while not gaining as much of the latter as being actually perceived widely.

      • Hey. Please do not wash dirty socialsciences in public, besides it is cortisol or something, not serotonin. (and you can NEVER take details of such talks very seriously but there is indeed some good food for thought, perennial wisdom and all that)

        Ah, good ol’ Sendhil Mullainathan, the scarcity guy. You remember the gent, good. When I try to, I get nightmares. Really. I am not even an economist.

        Same case with Duflo too. It is for no reason that the Dismal Science is called as such.

        Anecdote: ya know, a while back, an economist (madras univ) with a phd gave me some schpiel about ‘poverty studies’ based on some data. I found that he had EXACTLY 2 datasets (the whole fucking population!) and had arrived at some ginormous conclusion – I do not remember the details, but he kept saying N = 2 and it was okay with the panel. He even talked about sigma and mu! wtf.

        I asked him wtf is that N, but talked about haves and havenots as binary and he had only one datapoint each! I asked him as to how MEANINGFUL is the sample size or population and how tf can he arrive at ANY conclusion.

        Of course, the response was, 1) you are not an economist 2) you belong to forward caste so you cannot appreciate poverty.


  2. SS Says:

    //My cup runneth over//

    Such an elusive life goal to attain, sir. Many of us barely manage to figure it out to begin with. I envy you!

    • Sir, SS. Thanks, bu, some caveats are in order.

      Just because one writes about these things, it does not necessarily mean that one has ‘balance’ or at least ‘has managed to figure it out’ – but it is perhaps a goal worth striving for, may be.

      I am also a struggling individual. Caught in between ‘staying put’ and ‘killing the cats of curiosity.’

      But this is life. Ars longa. :-)

மேற்கண்ட பதிவு (அல்லது பின்னூட்டங்கள்) குறித்து (விருப்பமிருந்தால்) உரையாடலாமே...

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