Benny the Irish Polyglot from over at Fluent in 3 Months has just announced a new, free, open-source tool called Learning With Texts or LWT. I could explain exactly what it is, but Benny does it better, so go ahead and check out the demo video below.
“Don’t think. Feel. It is like a finger pointing out to the Moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee
It might surprise some to learn that, in addition to arguably being the greatest martial artist that ever lived, Bruce Lee was a philosophy major. His writings, heavily reflecting both his love of martial arts and his love of philosophy, are widely regarded as some of the best on martial philosophy. However, for some reason people often fail to see the applications outside of martial arts.
So what other areas of life can we apply this to?
If you want to be as strong as possible, you need to include the deadlift in your training.
The deadlift is absolutely the second most important exercise for developing full body strength (the squat still being #1 in my book) because it engages every one of your muscles and works them with the heaviest loads possible. Deadlifts will not only make your entire body stronger, fix lower back pain, enhance your rate of force development (power) and dramatically increase your grip/wrist strength – they’ll also condition you to pick up heavy things with a straight back. That means next time you need to toss some bags of dirt around for landscaping or lift a flipped car off of someone, you won’t destroy your back.
So, how do we do it then?
Tons of people every year decide they want to learn to speak a second language and every year they inevitably decide to do the one thing that will guarantee that they’ll never be successful – they study that language. I’ll pause for a second to allow for shocked gasps….
I know it seems counter-intuitive – particularly in a culture that forces everyone to spend at least the first 18 years of their lives constantly studying things – but the only way you can do more harm to your goal of fluently speaking a language than studying it is to never start learning at all. Thankfully, there is an easy way to reach fluency and it doesn’t involve countless hours slaving over a textbook, slamming your forehead into mile long vocab lists or parroting back sentences off of a CD.
What is it? We’ll get to that shortly. First, I want you to meet Maria.
Maria was a student I had as an ESL teacher a while back. To be polite I’ve changed her name, but Maria held a very high position in the Venezuelan branch of a large international corporation and had been studying English for years. The problem was, she still couldn’t speak it.
I used to be a rabid consumer.
Maybe it was the fault of the culture, maybe it was because I’m also a raving bibliophile and it meant acquiring more books, maybe it was because I felt like I had to spend money to make any progress – whatever the reason, when I first started learning Japanese I threw paycheck after paycheck at the problem at the bookstore.
Any book, software or audio set that promised to have me speaking Japanese in no time at all got whisked off to the checkout line. Naturally, after having spent several hundred dollars on language courses, I was speaking fluent Japanese by the end of a few weeks right?
Yeah, you know better. All that stuff didn’t get me anywhere.
So what did?
All our lives Caroline and I have been rabid bibliophiles. When I was little I read through all the books that had been bought for me and was so fervent about needing something else to sate my hunger for literature my mom caved and let me devour her collection of novels – a decision that led to 1st grade book reports on titles such as Cujo and Eaters Of The Dead accompanied by slightly concerned teachers.
I am the kind of person who would have to be dragged from my house if it caught fire while I happened to be reading. My tendency to bury my nose in books while walking has lead to countless Mr. Magoo style near escapes, some of them humorous others genuinely coming close to finishing my life before I could finish the book.
Understandably as a result of our combined bibliophilia we have amassed a fairly large collection of books.
Every year Caroline and I have an annual review. (Well, actually twice a year but we’ll get to that in a second.) First, if you don’t know what an annual review is, then please go read ‘How to Conduct your Own Annual Review’ by Chris over at The Art of Non-Conformity. Honestly, even if you’re familiar with annual reviews, go read the article again first – it’s one of the most useful posts on Chris’s site and considering the quality of the rest of his stuff that’s high praise. Really, go read it. I’ll wait.
All done? Cool.
So where do we come back in? Well, Caroline and I do things a little bit differently. Due to all the holidays, and a small horde of binding familial obligations encircling the New Year, I’ve found it’s just not practical to conduct our big annual reviews at the end of the year.
Before reading, please note that this isn’t so much of an instructional or informational post like most on here so much as it is a… philosophical one. The intent here isn’t to teach you anything new. Rather, as its name suggests, this post is a memento – a reminder. Specifically, a reminder of our mortality; something that I think is far too easily forgotten nowadays. So if you’re looking for something more informational or just think it’s a downer to be reminded of how fragile your life is, we have lots of other good articles to read. Otherwise, enjoy.
Today is my birthday. On this day 24 years ago, I drew my very first breaths. On this very same day in 1945, 42 years before I got here, 100,000 people in Hiroshima, Japan breathed their last.
It’s fairly safe to say that none of the people who died that day knew what was coming. These were people who were going about their normal day, not worrying about whether they were going to see tomorrow or not. There were children with homework to worry about, people planning vacations, people with dates that evening – likely even people celebrating their birthdays, like I do today.
For all of these people the thought that their last few moments of existence would take place that same day probably never crossed their minds. Honestly, they probably didn’t expect their lives to end for years. They were going about their days just like any other when, quite literally in a flash, they were gone.
We’ve officially made the decision to move all of our comments over to Disqus both to mitigate some of the spam we get and to make discussions within the comments a little easier to manage.
You’ll already notice the comment section at the end of each post has changed. For the time being, we’re not going to make anyone sign up to comment. However, if the spam continues to get out of hand, we will consider requiring commenters to sign up first.
It’s really easy to do, and I like Disqus enough to encourage signing up anyway, which you can either do on their signup page or using the little Disqus button above the comments on our site.
Current comments are being migrated over, so if it looks like all of your comments have disappeared don’t worry – they’ll all be back soon.
Have any thoughts on the Disqus system? Let us know what you think.
As a male citizen of the United States born into an upper-middle class family, there are certain expectations that are placed on me.
I’m told that I need a good, stable 9 to 5 job. I’m told that I need to have a college education in order to find that career. After all, I’m told I can’t settle for just any job, it has to have good benefits, and a sufficient salary to provide for my family. I’m told I need to have a house. Not an apartment, no, I’m told I need a yard, property, I need to own land. This property better have a garage too, because I’m told I need to have a car. Not just any car, though. I’m told I need to have a new luxury car. I’m told it should be at least as good as, if not better than, what the neighbors drive. I’m told I need to have about two children. I’m told they should be a boy and a girl, though of course I’m told such things are up to chance.
I’m told all of these things are what it takes to be a success in life.
Of course, with all the telling going on, I’ve noticed no ever thinks to stop and ask, “What do you actually want?”