A Review of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath

Only time will tell what makes you better or worse

Just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

Actually enjoyed it better than his other books – which I also enjoyed – particularly because it seems to echo things I’ve always believed to be true. For example, he notes that there’s a difference between:

  • Direct hits – where something kills you, literally or figuratively
  • Near-misses – where something almost kills you, literally or figuratively, and it’s enough to send you spiraling into despair
  • Remote misses – where something almost kills you, literally or figuratively, but it’s far away enough from you to help you become stronger

Although not mentioned in David and Goliath, I think that two quotes best sum up the basic idea of the book:

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong. – Winston Churchill
All experience is great provided you live through it. If it kills you, you’ve gone too far. – Alice Neel

It’s only with the passage of time that we’re able to see if the remote misses are near-misses and vice versa. Of course, that’s only if you overcome the blow in the first place. It’s not a perfect book – what is – but that rings true to me.

David and Goliath uses a lot of religious references (obviously) in order to show how these ideas have been with us since the early days of humanity.

And whether you believe in the biblical god or not, I’ve always like the story of how Jacob wrestled the angel and the angel was overcome. The angel could easily have destroyed Jacob but allowed him to survive to learn how to survive.

I’m not a parent, but I would like children of my own one day. I’m just not sure how to pass this type of knowledge down.

After all, a parent doesn’t wish troubles onto their children. But it’s only through stress does something become stronger, become anti-fragile.

Maybe that’s why I want them to fence, to wrestle, to struggle. I’d want them to know what it means to  get beaten, and then get back up again.

I think that’s why I do what I do. To give myself a daily dose of remote misses and to struggle to get back on my feet.

Location: getting dressed to go struggle for an hour
Mood: geeky
Music: a rattle and hum; Jacob wrestled the angel, and the angel was overcome
Like this post? Tell someone about it by clicking a button below.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The only thing constant in life is change

A storefront in Tribeca, NYC

Admin note: Thanks for being on my side.


Him: Well, Logan could show up and teach the class. (thinking) Actually, never mind.
Me: No one would show up!

A constant in my life for the past seven years or so is my fencing class. It’s strange how I ended up there; was taking a wrasslin class maybe a dozen years ago when some numbskull practically tore my arm outta my socket.

Got tired of the rehab so someone mentioned swordplay as an alternative. Turned out there was a class around the corner so I’d been taking it ever since. Despite late nights, injuries, hospital stays due to those injuries, etc – Tuesday nights from 8:30-10:00 was one constant.

The instructor just announced that we’re switching to Thursday nights. It’s weird. It’s just a change of two days but that throws me off. It’s funny what we get used to in life.

Speaking of getting used to, for those of you that’ve been reading me for years, y’know that I used to date. A lot. And the strangest thing about my dating life was that, if I walked into a room, and there was a lacto-ovo pescatarian from NJ, she would find her way to me.

Even met one once on my way out of my fencing class.

Think I dated about 20 of them in that time and met probably double that. Must give off some sorta pheromone.

When I got married, assumed it was just some weird aberration. Until recently.

Her: I’ve decided to be a vegetarian.
Me: But you eat fish and eggs.
Her: Yes, so I’m technically a lacto-ovo pescatarian.
Me: Of course you are.

She’s from Jersey too.

At least some things are constant.

Location: my old chair
Mood: amused
Music: What is broken falls into place once again.

dating personal

Staying home and wallowing’s never a good idea.

Mussels and hard cider in the LES, NYC

Him: I should get back.
Me: Why? So you can go home and wallow?

Went out with two buddies the other night. It’s funny how life works.

  1. Met this woman named Jane years ago, she introduced me to her ex, Gio.
  2. Gio and I became friends and he introduced me to WM.
  3. WM and I were out late one night and he introduced me to Heartgirl.

The moral of that story is: don’t be a jerk and you might meet someone nice.

Anywho – Gio, WM and I of us grabbed some wings, mussels and beers down on the LES last week. Afterward WM and I hopped into his whip while Gio took his bike over to a karaoke joint at St. Marks. Gio beat us there by several minutes. They both belted out some tunes while I just listened. Not much of a singer, me.

Man riding bike in NYC

The fellas are both dealing with breakups. Told them both that it’s time to clean their maps; one’s trying and the other’s not. Like with most things, y’get better when you’re not thinking about getting better.

Speakinga getting better I’m sick again. Aren’t summer colds the worst? So HG and I just stayed home and saw happythankyoumoreplease with music from Jaymay. More on that when I’m not feeling like hot death.

Him: (the next day) Good hanging out and thanks for the advice…By the way, I stopped by Whiskey Tavern afterward, met a cute girl and got her digits.
Me: Of course you did.

Karaoke bar downtown NYC

Location: desk, trying to not be sick
Mood: sick
Music: it’s too early to say goodnight (goodnight)
YASYCTAI: See some indie films. (100 mins/0.5 pts)


Good Parts

Location: my pad, melting
Mood: tired of summer
Music: not proud of how I’ve been

Jaymay singing in NYC

Jaymay’s gonna be singing every Friday in September at Rockwood Music Hall and she announced this with a posting and a picture. My picture. (!)

Funny thing’s that she had a photographer there but used my pic. There’s probably a simple reason that she used mine but in my head, it’s cause she liked mine the best.

Things’re always better in my head.


Met up with another lawyer for lunch today at a restaurant in Chinatown. She referred some business to me the other day and wanted to take her out to eat. In the middle of the meal, the waiter leans in and says, Hey, Logan.

Turn to look and there’s a buddy of mine, smiling. He’s doing some recon, apparently, on the restaurant for the owner. Sometimes NY’s a small town.

Was downtown to pickup my SecurePass. Like I said, not a court lawyer but the past coupla years, been to court so many times, figured having the card makes sense.

Gotta say, holding it felt like something special. Stupid, really. But still, wanna think that I’m getting back to what I once was. The good parts, anyway.


Attempted to get frisky with the lady last evening but we both ended up in a laughing fit.


YASYCTAI: Make a lista what’re your good parts. It’s good to have a list like that. (60 mins/1 pt)


Another way

If you keep doing what you do, you keep getting what you get

A wood burning stove in midtown

Her: I mean, he’s great. He’s just verbally abusive, not physically or anything like that.
Me: I think you deserve better than that. Don’t you think you deserve better than that?
Her: (thinking) I guess…

Getting hot and muggy in NYC; not looking forward to summer. Today’s the nastiest day of the week and I’ve have put on the monkey suit. If there’s one area where women are luckier than men, it’s that some of us still have put on a suit while a woman can go into work in a flower print dress.

If I could, I’d wear a kilt in the summer.

The latest figs show that Americans spend $80 billion annually on cigarettes; that’s more that any nation outsidea ours spend on their entire military. Put another way, we spend more money to kill ourselves than other nations do to kill us.

Number of my friends are doing all sortsa self-destructive behaviour but they keep doing it, oblivious to the ramifications. But just like you can’t plead, argue, logic or beg someone to care about you, you can’t beg someone to care about themselves either.

When the same stimuli is applied to a situation, how can one be surprised when one gets exactly the same result?

Put another way, when you keep doing what you do, you keep getting what you get.


A reader sent me this article, which essentially echoes what I said earlier: attractive goes away but dirtbag’s forever.

Location: Madison Ave
Mood: muggy
Music: raise your head and wear your wounds with pride


A semi-clean map

Your Map of the World

The UWS in early winter

As I once said, all emotional pain comes when your expectation of reality doesn’t match reality. A guy who knows his wife’s cheating on him regularly isn’t all that twisted when he catches them in the act, cause he was prepared for it.

So, my buddy in the last entry’s having a hard time dealing with his breakup. Makes sense – breakups are hard. This whole blog came about from my last major breakup.

But to make it easier – the pain that is – I changed my map of the world.

Imagine you had the job of erasing the word “Broadway” from every map you got. That’s a tough task. And when you’re done, the faint lines of the word’s are still there. But it’s gone for the most part.

Dunno if you know this, but I paid for law school fixing computers and networks.

A computer doesn’t actually read a whole harddrive to find the data it wants, it has a map, a table of contents, that lists every file it has. When you want a file, it looks it up on the map, goes to where it is, and pulls it out.

When it deletes a file, all it does is erase that one line on its map. The file’s still there, it just doesn’t know it.

When you wanna get a file back, you can sometimes cause it can figure out what on the map’s changed.

My buddy won’t erase his map. I don’t blame him. It’s heartbreaking and hard.

But Broadway’s gone. He’s gotta scrub his map. If she comes back, that’s great, the faint lines will be there and he’s got a semi-clean map ready for her.

If she doesn’t, well, he’s still got a semi-clean map to work with.

Either way, a semi-clean map’s a good thing.

Only the stalker and the starkers say that Broadway’s there when it’s not.

Location: 20 mins ago, outside shoveling
Mood: hot
Music: It’s hard to free the ones you love (Spotify)


You will

Location: my usual black chair
Mood: groggy
Music: a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee

: You mean you watch the whole thing? Y’don’t just fast forward to the action?
Him: No, I want to hear the plot.
Me: Plot?! There’s no plot; it’s always something like: guy shows up to deliver pizza, girl steps outta the shower, and oh, she has no money to pay him. What to do? What to do? Oh my! I’ve appeared to drop my towel…
Him: (laughing) I still like to see what happens.
Me: Y’know what happens – nuthin that ever happens in real life, that’s what happens. Grand thespians, they’re assuredly not.
Been looking at a bunch of ebook readers lately for myself.

In NYC, the average rent is $30-35 per square foot per year. A bookshelf takes up about a three square feet of space. I would need three for all of the books I got. That’s a nine square foot footprint, or $270-$315 a year for rent just to keep my books.

Ergo, ebook reader.

The issue is that all of the screens’re too small. Don’t wanna have to get surgery on my eyes to repair them to save $270-$315; that makes no sense. The Kindle DX has a huge screen but no way to zoom; the iRex reader has a huge screen and zoom but’s crazy expensive and dim.

So, looks like I gotta wait.

Hate waiting for the future to come. According to television, we were supposta all get jet cars by now.

And television never lies.


Then again – was 20 when those ads in the vid above first came out.

Funny thing is that every single onea those things the guy said turned true.

In fact, I’ve done all but threea those things he said.

Listen to the voice, know who he is?

YASYCTAI: Be hopeful. You’ll live longer. And happier. (525,600 minutes /3 pts)


Thank you, it’s alright

Location: 9:00 yest, 14th and 6th
Mood: sleepless
Music: i have seen insane things all those grand historic paintings

A metro station in Washington DC

Was picking up some legal papers from a potential new client the other day. The weather was perfect so I took the long walk home in the daytime. Walking past Grand Central, Dar Williams just happened to be singing It’s Alright so I stopped to listen.

Ducked into a clothing store nearby to look things I can’t afford. Dido’s Thank You was playing. Didn’t realize I was singing along until the girl standing next to me harmonized a lyric and we turned and laughed at each other.

Me: (sheepishly) Thanks for the song.
Her: (laughing) Thank you.


Went to Paul’s housewarming that night. The boy lives in a 2,500 square foot apartment. Yeah, with three roomies, but still. He has a laundry room in his apartment. In Manhattan. Heartgirl and Rain swung by so we caught up.

Heartgirl: (looking at apartment, turns to me) I don’t know how to tell you this but I’m strangely attracted to Paul right now.

Rain: (also looking at apartment) Y’kidding me? I’m attracted to Paul right now.

A metro station in Washington DC

Saw Heartgirl for some Latin food on a sunny street in Jersey.

Me: Y’know why they don’t put lids on crab baskets? Cause they don’t need to. When one tries to crawl out, the rest pull him back in.

Told Heartgirl that I was trying to be better than I was. She said she believed me.

A metro station in Washington DC

YASYCTAI: Summer’s here. Time to make some more changes. (time/2 pts)


YASYCTAI (2) / Kaizen

Location: a yellow bed
Mood: contemplative
Music: with a roof right over our heads We’ll share the shelter

Got a call today to be part of a panel discussing online media. Strange but what else is new?

Kaizen is a business concept that says continual (little) improvement is the path to success. Until 2007, GM was the largest car manufacturer in the world and Toyota was the one playing catch-up.

Cut or keep? – Suppose GM had 1 million screws. It’s philosophy was to use those same screws in all their cars to save scratch. Toyota, however, would continually improve the designs of the screws a little bit, tossing the older screws out. It hurt a little financially every year but they did it.

Partly due to that and other reasons, GM is now a relic. Just like it’s screws, it refused to chuck the old cause it didn’t wanna go through the painful changes. GM’s watching Toyota’s red lights now.

The danger is to see life – yourself, your friends, your habits – as they once were. Not as they are now. It’s not easy, seeing things and people for what they really are.

My YASYCTAI are the little things that I wanna do, or have done, to try to make myself better. To see life in a different way.

I put them up cause you might wanna do it too. Or not.

The points? They mean whatever you want, although at 100 points, always figured I was making some sorta progress.

In a related matter, I’m slowing winding down my business – planning to start drinking Dec 31 and finish up around February. Of 2010.

YASYCTAI: Honestly, are you seeing that person the way s/he used to be or the way s/he is now? Cut or keep? (90 mins/2 pts)



Location: 9:00 yest, pulling a lever on the UWS
Mood: hopeful
Music: may your dreams Be realized

Making some major life decisions but I’ll fill you in on those later. On an unrelated matter, broke my right pinky. Again.

Guess you’ve seen Pretty in Pink. But I much preferred the remake, which came out the very next year called Some Kind of Wonderful. Same director, same writer, different cast but same roles.

The writer and director couldn’t get the ending they wanted for Pretty in Pink. Ergo, Some Kind of Wonderful. So their got their ending.

In other news, voted today. Got a free cuppa joe and now my hands’re shaking like an 80s crack addict. The voting machines were the same grey machines they had in NYC since I was kid – also in the 80s. More things change, the more they stay the same. I worry we got a different cast, but the same roles.

But there is one aspect of this story, however, I particularly like. MLK was murdered seven years before I was born. 44 years ago. Now a black dude is the 44th president – and almost no one I know thinks of him as a black dude. He’s just a brilliant, ambitious man. That’s something different and good. Hopefully, we’ll have the ending we want.

God bless and protect the man and the office. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi…

YASYCTAI: Be hopeful (1 min/1 pt)