Discover more from The Long Game by Mehdi Yacoubi
The Long Game 98: Strength Training, Teens & Social Media, How People Think
🌾 Food Supplies, The Russian Aviation Industry, Hard to Work With, Prestige, System, and Much More!
In this episode, we explore:
Strength training resources
Teens and social media
How people think
Hard to work with
The Russian aviation industry
Let’s dive in!
🏋️♀️ Strength Training Resources
When it comes to health and longevity, it’s hard to think of a tool more effective than exercise. For someone not exercising, any type of exercise will be better than nothing (granted it doesn’t lead to injuries!) But if you’re already exercising and wondering what would be best for your health and longevity, it can probably be summarized into three categories:
mobility and flexibility
Ideally, one would practice all of these categories every week. I have noticed that, at least around me, people tend to focus much more on cardio than strength training. I don’t know why that is (this could be an explanation!)
Still, weight training is absolutely essential to age well and maintain enough muscle mass.
As I’ve been focused on strength training lately, I thought I’d gather some good resources for those who want to get started or improve their strength training routine.
“We discuss fundamental principles of strength and hypertrophy training and building endurance, the mechanisms underlying them, and we review specific protocols to optimize training and recovery. We also discuss hydration, sleep, nutrition, supplements, and mental tools that can be leveraged to accelerate adaptations leading to enhanced strength, muscle growth, and/or endurance.”
Andy’s website is also an excellent place to learn more about the basics of strength training.
Here are a few great Youtube channels:
Some good books:
Personally, I enjoy high-frequency training, but this might not be best for everyone. It’s time-consuming and better if you really love strength training. Overall, the key is to find something that works for you, as always. Thinking of what “is optimal” in the grand scheme of themes isn’t necessarily the most relevant. It’s good to understand the general principles, but sticking to something 80% optimal will always be better than not sticking to the 100% perfect. For example, I like to train every day. I don’t enjoy days off; that’s my style. So I program my training to make this possible. Ivan Djuric shows a similar approach in his squat everyday journey.
Right now, my focus is on the squat, beltless, no wraps, ATG.
Every day, I work up to a comfortable max (RPE ≈ 9)
Then I alternate every other day between 4x9@70%, 7x5@75%, 8x4@80%, and 10x3@85%.
I add some other exercises on top of that, but with less volume (mainly good mornings, RDLs, rack pulls, bench press, overhead press, and back extensions.)
Finally, remember that everything that can get you to lift weights and get stronger will be very beneficial, so the more you enjoy it, the more sustainable it will be.
📱 Teens and Social Media
There is a narrative that social media is very unhealthy for teens and detrimental to their mental health, particularly girls. This narrative is becoming stronger and stronger, especially after the Facebook reporting this year.
Still, it’s almost impossible for parents to enforce no social media on their kids. I found this interview on this topic very interesting, and it can help parents navigate the good and the bad of social media.
Here’s the TL;DR on what parents can do:
Now, on to what to do. Here are a few guardrails and ideas you might consider.
Wait to get your kid a phone until you think the benefits for them (i.e. socially, logistically) outweigh the risks. For context, most kids (nearly 70%) have a phone by age 12. If you suspect your kid might struggle (see above), consider waiting longer or putting stricter limits in place.
Limits on time. 71% of parents at least sometimes limit when or how long their teen can be on their phone. Kids need time to do non-phone activities and interact in person with family and friends. You can try limits by total minutes/hours (this is hard), by time of day (before school, before bed — this is easier), and by location (in the car, at dinner — this is easiest).
Limits on content/activities. Let’s say your kid gets a phone at age 12. This is still young enough that you might lean more heavily on the “protecting safety” side of the balance. You might consider starting out with no social media (only allowing texting), particularly since most social media apps set 13 as their minimum age. You might also set up Family Sharing (for iPhone) or Family Groups (for Android), which allow you to set limits and require approval for any new app downloads.
Monitoring. Generally, you want to be aware of what your kid is doing on their phone, especially in that 12-to-14 age range. This might involve asking your kid questions or physically checking in on what they’re doing. If the latter, do not spy on them. Talk about the fact that you’ll be doing this and why, or have your kid give you a “tour” of their phone. For context, 72% of parents of 13- and 14-year-olds sometimes look at their teen’s call records or messages.
Protect sleep. Open communication is key, but that doesn’t mean everything is negotiable. Sleep is one of those things that’s probably non-negotiable. Current data suggests associations between nighttime phone use and poorer sleep, so consider limiting phone use in the bedroom before bed. A family charging station in a central location in the house — and an alarm clock in your kid’s room — is one solution.
I think it’s a pretty good article, but I don’t agree with it entirely, especially in the case of TikTok. We should never forget that the CCP controls what tech companies do in China, and letting this app become where most kids spend their time is a terrible idea.
Let’s also notice that China regulates its national version of TikTok because they know how bad it is for their teens’ mental health. On top of that, educational & scientific content is promoted in China, not dance videos nor eating disorders promotion.
Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, will limit use of the platform for children to 40 minutes a day.
The rules will apply to users under 14, who have been authenticated using their real names, and who will be able to access it between 06:00 and 22:00.
🧠 Better Thinking
💭 How People Think
This article gathers some great reminders about common thinking patterns. I find it helpful to frequently read content about thinking mistakes because even if you learn some of them, it’s still very easy to repeat them. Spaced repetition is beneficial here.
Here are some of the aspects of how people think I find most interesting:
The best story wins.
Your willingness to believe a prediction is influenced by how much you want or need that prediction to be true.
It’s hard to empathize with other people’s beliefs if they’ve experienced parts of the world you have not.
An innocent denial of your own flaws, caused by the ability to justify your mistakes in your own head in a way you can’t do for others.
An underappreciation for how small things compound into extraordinary things.
The gap between knowing what to do and actually getting people to do it can be enormous.
We are blind to how fragile the world is due to a poor understanding of rare events.
The inability to accept hassle, nonsense, and inefficiency frustrates people who can’t accept how the world works.
⚡️ Startup Stuff
🤝 Hard to Work With
I enjoyed reading this article about a common management mistake that arises when individuals have higher standards for those around them than their organization supports.
It’s a truism that you always want to hire folks with very high standards, but I’ve seen a staggering number of folks fail in an organization primarily because they want to hold others to a higher standard than their organization’s management is willing to enforce.
Here’s how these situations usually evolve:
As you look at enough of these scenarios, you can back out a common pattern. The main character is trying to do their job effectively, but can’t due to the low performance of a peer. They escalate to the appropriate manager to address the issue, but that manager transforms the performance issue into a relationship issue: it’s not that the peer isn’t performing, it’s just that the two of you don’t like each other. Instead of being the manager’s responsibility to resolve the performance issue, it’s now the main character’s responsibility. By attempting to drive accountability in their peer, the main character has blocked their own progress (“they’re just hard to work with”) without accomplishing anything.
As always, the root of the problem is people’s aversion to doing the hard but necessary thing:
What I’ve come to appreciate is that the appropriate manager is almost always aware of the underlying issue, and for some reason they’re simply unwilling to confront it. You think that you’re bringing a new problem to that manager to solve, but what you’re actually doing is trying to hold that manager accountable for not solving a known problem, which more often than not ends poorly when they’re more senior than you.
📚 What I Read
Are high-status people more likely to lie?
Many have discovered an argument hack. They don’t need to argue that something is false. They just need to show that it’s associated with low status. The converse is also true: You don’t need to argue that something is true. You just need to show that it’s associated with high status. And when low status people express the truth, it sometimes becomes high status to lie.
If everyone did as I think, would it be moral?
Occasionally I think, and write, about market failures and muse about Inadequate Equilibria. And in the popular discourse around it, there exists a peculiar form of argumentation that’s been bugging me for a while. This is a notion that goes something like this: we used to do X. However X is inefficient and Y produces better results for many who tried it. Therefore we should all switch to using Y. "This is a good strategy to try for some" becomes "this should be the new equilibrium."
I call this the Idle Kantian problem. Categorical imperative misapplied from thinking the question “if everyone did as I, would it be moral”, into the statement “if everyone did as I think it would be moral”.
To be an Idle Kantian is to believe that any proof that an action isn't a universal law means that its not lawful and should be toppled forthwith. It’s a worry that all acts will eventually aim to become universal, and therefore the proof that one can’t is sufficient to sink it.
Both Ukraine and Russia are some of the world’s largest food exporters. How could global food be impacted?
The potential impacts of reduced food outputs from Ukraine and Russia will not be felt equally everywhere. Some of the most vulnerable are countries that import directly from these countries.
But it will not be contained to these direct importers. Food prices are rising, which means that all countries that are net importers of these commodities could feel significant impacts.
To identify the countries that are most vulnerable – and might need assistance in the months ahead – I have brought together country-by-country import data from these key crops. In the data explorer below you can see the global situation for a range of commodities and metrics.
You can see which countries import the most wheat, maize, barley or sunflower oil; which countries import from Ukraine and/or Russia; and how dependent they were on imports for the domestic supply.
We can see, for example, that many countries across the Middle East and North Africa rely heavily on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia; they supply more than two-thirds of imports in Egypt, Libya and Lebanon. For maize, the reliance on Ukraine and Russia has a larger geographical reach with countries across East Asia and Europe also importing a large share from them.
To maintain consistency between production, domestic supply and import metrics I have sourced all of the underlying data for these calculations from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. It is all based on physical units i.e. tonnes of crops.
🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week
This week in podcasts:
“Brett Johnson was a US Most Wanted cybercriminal, called the Original Internet Godfather by US Secret Service for building the first organized cybercrime community called ShadowCrew, which was the precursor to today's darknet and darknet markets.”
Everything related to Zone 2 training.
🍭 Brain Food
🧪 More Research Leading to Slower Progress
I’m very interested in progress and all the measures, policies, and efforts we could make to accelerate scientific and technological progress. I was very surprised at reading the title of this paper, and after reading it, my concerns were confirmed.
These findings suggest troubling implications for the current direction of science. If too many papers are published in short order, new ideas cannot be carefully considered against old, and processes of cumulative advantage cannot work to select valuable innovations. The more-is-better, quantity metric-driven nature of today’s scientific enterprise may ironically retard fundamental progress in the largest scientific fields.
Here’s the abstract:
In many academic fields, the number of papers published each year has increased significantly over time. Policy measures aim to increase the quantity of scientists, research funding, and scientific output, which is measured by the number of papers produced.
These quantitative metrics determine the career trajectories of scholars and evaluations of academic departments, institutions, and nations. Whether and how these increases in the numbers of scientists and papers translate into advances in knowledge is unclear, however.
Here, we first lay out a theoretical argument for why too many papers published each year in a field can lead to stagnation rather than advance. The deluge of new papers may deprive reviewers and readers the cognitive slack required to fully recognize and understand novel ideas.
Competition among many new ideas may prevent the gradual accumulation of focused attention on a promising new idea.
Then, we show data supporting the predictions of this theory. When the number of papers published per year in a scientific field grows large, citations flow disproportionately to already well-cited papers; the list of most-cited papers ossifies; new papers are unlikely to ever become highly cited, and when they do, it is not through a gradual, cumulative process of attention gathering; and newly published papers become unlikely to disrupt existing work.
These findings suggest that the progress of large scientific fields may be slowed, trapped in existing canon. Policy measures shifting how scientific work is produced, disseminated, consumed, and rewarded may be called for to push fields into new, more fertile areas of study.
🎥 What I’m Watching
✈️ The Sanction-Fueled Destruction of the Russian Aviation Industry
A deep dive into what comes next for Russian aviation.
↩️ Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order
I watched this video as an introduction to Dalio’s last book. It’s good.
For more and a slightly different take, read this thread:
🔧 The Tool of the Week
This is a fascinating map to explore how ideas are fields are interrelated.
🪐 Quote I’m Pondering
Because, you see, time is strictly an illusion. There is no such thing as time any more than that is such a concrete thing as the equator.
— Alan Watts
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