The Importance of a Daily Writing Practice

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When I first started listening to the FTGN Podcast, I kept getting tripped up on the quote that opens each episode.

How do I know what I think till I see what I say?

Wait, what?

But when you stop and think about it, it makes sense.

How do I know what I think… until I see what I say?

We often don’t know what the next word will be that comes out of our mouth, until it shows up.

The same goes for thoughts. They’re in there, swirling.

A recent episode with Susan Cain explored this, especially in the context of writing.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  joins the show to discuss her latest book Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. Joe and Susan talk about the power of harnessing our pain and struggles and turning them into creativity, connection, and transcendence. 

S2,Ep36: Susan Cain-Finding Strength in Pain, FTGN Podcast

Joe and Susan discuss the process of journaling and “expressive writing.” This is where you literally just sit and write, whatever is in there – let it come out.

I’ve been doing variations of this for years. Ten minutes in the morning. Just write.

Often, thoughts and ideas emerge that I wasn’t aware of. Often, these turn into tasks, projects, or activities.

Other times, it’s nothing.

And that’s okay. It’s a practice.


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Fantastical Tactical Operations

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Episode 70 of the Kojima Frequency.

There’s a great conversation in this episode on the fantastical elements of the Metal Gear series.

I first got into Metal Gear because my upstairs neighbor had the game on the original NES and introduced it to me. I didn’t have an NES yet. The game seemed very “military.” My upstairs neighbor was a cop which somehow made the game seem more legit.

In the game, my job was to infiltrate this base, avoid detection, and use all kinds of special equipment.

The game was difficult and the plot was simple.

I fell in love with it instantly.

I was young, and I liked it because it felt somehow, realistic.

If there were fantastical elements of the original games, they never made an impression on me when I was young. It seemed to be a straight-laced military game.

❗️

Years later, when Metal Gear Solid was announced for the Playstation, I felt excited and validated. Most of my friends at the time didn’t know about the earlier games. They thought this was something new. I felt like an insider because I had played the original.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but from the early videos and articles I read in gaming magazines, I figured I’d be getting some kind of military infiltration simulation.

Something like the earlier games.

And that’s what I got.

Until the fight with Psycho Mantis.

Then, the game started getting weird.

I remember playing through the torture scene with Ocelot. My friend got up to get his turbo controller to help. And as if on cue, this happened.

I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I didn’t understand it.

The further I went into the game, the weirder it got.

I didn’t know why, but I liked it.

When Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was released, I was already in the Army. I bought the game on release day and played through the tanker mission. But then work got in the way and I never finished it.

More years passed, and a friend sent me a copy of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater for my birthday when it came out, but it stayed in the shrinkwrap.

Too busy.

It’s only after MGSV came out that I returned to the series, and I’m better for it.

What I find fascinating about the series today is the way that everyone seems to have a personal relationship with it, but each is different.


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Informational Entropy

lord of the flies ending

Another good episode from the Cognitive Crucible, who I recently learned have their own YouTube channel.

This one discusses informational entropy, information “power” (something that I think we’re better at than we give ourselves credit for), and more.

There’s also a Lord of the Flies reference. Nothing wrong with that, I’ve used Lord of the Flies to make a point in the past myself.

Very interested to hear that Glen Edwards is a gamer, too.


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The Magic of Monkey Island

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First time listening to the Triple Click podcast.

I’m a big Monkey Island fan, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who found the opening nostalgic when I originally played it, and the same is true today.


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Behind the GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE

Remember GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE?

Of course you do.

Here’s a conversation with the force behind it.

It’s a deep-dive on PSYOP, and worth a full listen.

Two excerpts, though.

First, what PSYOP really is…

We are the marriage of the sciences and the arts.

Ghosts in the Machine | Full Spectrum Special Operations (PSYOP)

And second, the most important lesson to be gleaned from the GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE video:

There’s a tendency for people to be very risk averse when it comes to information or videos or whatever, and I think what this has shown is that, it’s ok. It’s ok.

Ghosts in the Machine | Full Spectrum Special Operations (PSYOP)

100% full stop agree.

Today’s emergency is forgotten tomorrow. If we want to win we have to be brave and push.


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Flow

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I read Flow years ago. If you haven’t, you’ve probably heard of the concept.

And if you haven’t heard of the concept, you’ve probably experienced it.

What is “flow?”

Flow denotes the wholistic sensation present when we act with total involvement. It is the kind of feeling after which one nostalgically says: “that was fun”; or “that was enjoyable”; It is the state in which action follows upon action according to an internal logic which seems to need no conscious intervention on our part. We experience it as a unified flowing from one moment to the next, in which we feel in control of our actions, and in which there is little distinction between self and environment; between stimulus and response; or between past, present, and future.

Play and Intrinsic Rewards (1975)

A recent episode of Very Bad Wizards examined the article that initially discussed the concept, titled Play and Intrinsic Rewards (1975).

If the idea is completely alien, it is worth reading the article, and maybe the book. Once you understand the concept of flow, it becomes clear that if you want to get anything done, you need to be able to focus your time and attention. Blocking out your time becomes essential.

But there was something else I took away from the episode and reading the article. It’s the way that the research was conducted. It’s not overly quantitative. It’s not sorcery.

We started our study by talking to a variety of people who have invested a great deal of time and energy in play activities.

After these pilot talks, a standard interview and questionnaire form was developed and administered to 30 rock climbers, 30 basketball players, 30 modern dancers, 30 male chess players, 25 female chess players, and 30 composers of modern music.

Today, this type of study would likely be deemed too simplistic.

But if the results are legit, then who cares?

The best ideas come from old books.


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Let the AI do it for you

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What if you could just let the AI do it for you? Just feed it the prompt, and let the AI give you a 98% solution?

Hmm…

AI prompt discussion begins at the ~51:00 mark.

You can try a version of this yourself here.


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Fear, uncertainty, and doubt

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Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. AKA, “FUD.”

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (often shortened to FUD) is a propaganda tactic used in sales, marketingpublic relations, politics, polling and cults. FUD is generally a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information and a manifestation of the appeal to fear.

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt, Wikipedia

Discussed during a recent VBW episode (EPISODE 238: I AM NOT IVAN ILYICH…AM I?)

There’s also a fantastic reference to this essay, of a woman who survived an attack by an alligator. It’s short, and worth reading in its entirety.

Below, a couple of excerpts.

On the “glow” that lasts for a time after surviving a near-death.

The wonder of being alive after being held – quite literally in the jaws of death has never entirely left me. For the first year, the experience of existence as an unexpected blessing cast a golden glow over my life, despite the injuries and the pain. The glow has slowly faded, but some of that new gratitude for life endures, even if I remain unsure whom I should thank. The gift of gratitude came from the searing flash of near-death knowledge, a glimpse “from the outside” of the alien, incomprehensible world in which the narrative of self has ended.

And on becoming a “mere piece of meat.”

Before the encounter, it was as if I saw the whole universe as framed by my own narrative, as though the two were joined perfectly and seamlessly together. As my own narrative and the larger story were ripped apart, I glimpsed a shockingly indifferent world in which I had no more significance than any other edible being. The thought, ‘This can’t be happening to me, I’m a human being, I am more than just food!’ was one component of my terminal incredulity. It was a shocking reduction, from a complex human being to a mere piece of meat. 


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Gladiator School

gladiator school podcast teaser

New podcast in the information arena – Gladiator School.

II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group (II MIG) presents the first episode of Gladiator School (podcast). The first Episode features Colonel Brian Russell, Commanding Officer of II MEF and 2nd Lt. Rebekah Harasick, II MIG Communication Strategy and Operations officer, discussing how II MIG operates in the information environment.

I listened to the audio version (subscribe here) before I checked out their YouTube channel. Really well done, and good quality.

There’s a lot to like about this first episode.

First, I particularly appreciate the way we’re not getting hung up on terms (is it ‘information warfare’ or is it ‘operations in the information environment?’ – not actually super important). Getting worked up about that (which many people do) doesn’t help.

Second, the recognition that “we’re in it.” Whether you like it or not, we’re all “in” the information environment. You don’t really get to choose.

You do, however, get to choose how you participate.

The USMC is doing a lot of work. I recently listened to the ADETs episode and I’ve become a fan of the Phoenix Cast as well.

Looking forward to seeing where this podcast goes.


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“It hits my soul”

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From November 2021.

As the Vietnam War dragged on, the U.S. military began desperately searching for any vulnerability in its North Vietnamese enemy. In 1964, it found one: an old Vietnamese folktale about a ghost, eternal damnation, and fear—a myth that the U.S. could weaponize. And so, armed with tape recorders and microphones, American forces set out to win the war by bringing a ghost story to life. Today, The Experiment examines those efforts and the ghosts that still haunt us.

Mixtape, The Wandering Soul

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