Month: 2021-06


caleb 19:59:47
Ok, now that we're all in lockdown, it's the perfect time to start the bookclub some of us have been talking about. If you want to join, add your name and some book suggestions (or not!) to here:

Book Club - HackMD

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stuffedwith 21:28:10
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caleb 11:15:48
@breierthomas and anybody else, it's time to vote on our first book club book! It's not too late to join either! (it is too late to recommend books for this round though, sorry!)

Book Club - HackMD

Guo-Jim 17:21:55
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stuffedwith 23:02:25
I seriously have no idea how to vote in this document πŸ˜…
Guo-Jim 23:51:39
@caleb I made a google form to try to make the voting process more easy, you all want to take a look?
Guo-Jim 23:54:46
The fill-only link is

Google Docs

Voting on our First Book!



aiden.tuonoin 04:29:00
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stuffedwith 10:08:34
Thanks, done πŸ™Œ


caleb 10:13:24
Ok, results are tallied for our book club, and by both instant run-off and Borda counting, the winner is "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl! I'm really excited to start reading and discussing this book. For now, we need to decide the pace at which we want to read this book, and how often we want to meet. It would also be helpful if we can help eachother find english and mandarin copies of this book for cheap / free, either through the library or otherwise πŸ™‚
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caleb 16:06:45
@stuffedwith @guo-jim @breierthomas It's time to decide our first meeting time!

WhenIsGood: g0v/goldcard book club

Plan the time to have your meeting or event by co-ordinating availability with all the particpants using this fuss-free online tool.

Thomas Breier 16:06:49
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abieler 19:36:17
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Kai 16:58:33
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Kai 17:59:41
@caleb Thanks for organizing! Given the mix of GC and g0v participants, is there a preferred main slack channel?

In addition to calls, I propose we set up a place for posting / discussing notes, highlights, etc.
caleb 19:17:36
The preferred main slack channel is here!
caleb 19:18:16
I have been thinking about note taking and outcomes documentation. I'm thinking a hackmd article per book would probably work
caleb 19:18:48
As a "landing page" for the book club, is being kept up to date

Book Club - HackMD


caleb 08:41:17
@breierthomas @kz.g0v-tw @abieler @stuffedwith @guo-jim make sure to fill out the whenisgood ! Looking like Thursday or Friday evening for meetings. I'm leaning towards Thursday for sustainability when covid lockdowns end

WhenIsGood: g0v/goldcard book club

Plan the time to have your meeting or event by co-ordinating availability with all the particpants using this fuss-free online tool.

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caleb 09:59:28
why are you all so busy all night long lmao
Screenshot from 2021-06-23 09-59-08.png
caleb 10:03:12
Ok, unfortunately it looks like Kai can't make this time, but also Kai's time sadly doesn't overlap very well elsewhere 😞 i'm gonna say let's try thursday at 8 this week and next for a little online discussion, just to get out feet under us at least. Also see Kai's note from our hackmd portal, an experiment I'd like to start immediately:

> ’ve found that book clubs centered around calls can be hard to sustain over time: friction of scheduling, different levels of commitment, all-hell-breaks-loose weeks, etc.
> Since this seems to be a tech-saavy crowd, anyone up for keeping an ongoing async discussion on Slack? Depending on the book, the channels can be split by chapter or theme, with people posting their reactions to each as they go.
caleb 10:05:32
OOoh yay someone added more books
caleb 10:08:16
@breierthomas @kz.g0v-tw @abieler @stuffedwith @guo-jim also cameron and chris and michael who i'm not sure how to get a hold of, the first two meetings have been set as thursday 8pm this week and next, on, but also, I'd like to start an experiment where we immediately start using this slack channel to post our thoughts and start threaded discussions
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stuffedwith 10:10:51
Just fyi, gather town is a bit shize with sound quality and it lags a lot 😒
Cameron Chow 12:15:25
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Cameron Chow 12:16:41
Time works for me - thank you Caleb!
Cameron Chow 12:16:58
I'll try to figure out this Gather Town thing
caleb 15:02:56
Ok, i'm starting the async discussion experiment. By the way, all my notes are available online: and updated as i write them

< |>

``` #+title: mans search for meaning by viktor frankl #+ROAM_TAGS: philosophy "self help" #+ROAM_KEY: manssearch * Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl :PROPERTIES: :CUSTOM_ID: manssearch :AUTHOR: Frankl, Viktor :END: * Notes while I read ** section 1 life in a concentration camp *** on publishing anonymously Was initially going to do this. **** Why? says goal was to "convey that life holds potential meaning... even under miserable conditions" Didn't want book to build up a reputation on the part of the author So... he wanted to objective of the book to remain pure? ***** Later says wanted it to be anonymous because intimacy Uncomfortable talking about "intimate details" **** Why decided not to? Later, says anonymous would cause the book to "lose half its value" **** On [[file:<|>][success]] achieved anyway ***** "Don't aim at success..." ***** Argues against pursuing success because then you won't achieve it tells his students this etc ****** Says the same of happiness "have to let it happen without caring about it" *** bruh dude stayed in austria despite having an opportunity to leave through the visa to america his parents found some slab of the 10 commandments about filial piety, it was his sign from god think about later how he talks about the tiny snap decisions people make that alter their entire lives or about how the prisoners entrusted themselves to fate, so as to avoid making a decision i wonder if he would change that decision if he could go back in time would acting on the visa have saved his wife's life as well? is he thus partially responsible for her death? Well, probably not, it's entirely the fault of the nazis, but i wonder if a question like that would chew at him. *** Wants to avoid book being "an account of facts" of the horrors of the concentration camp why? "They've been described often" Does he think that that's often enough? I guess it doesn't fit within his goal of the book? **** Wants to answer the question: "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?" *** On the scientific detachment of a psychological study from within the prison: **** "Does the man inside have enough detachment to make a methodical presentation?" ***** Outsiders do, but they're "too removed" to "make any statements of real value" Wonder what value means here ***** The man inside's judgment may not be objective, but he does "know" Know what? ***** Avoiding bias is "the real difficulty" of the book *** Three phases of the inmate's mental reactions to camp life 1. Period following admission 2. When well entrenched in camp routine 3. Following release and liberation *** On reprieve being just around the corner Talks about how all the prisoners thought reprieve was just around the corner Like, they'd be turned away at the prison gates, or pulled out of the gas chamber line, etc. **** Denial of reality? Describes first phase as characterized by "shock" Or, maybe similar to stages of grief: first, denial Were the stages of grief well defined when he wrote? "[[file:<|>][Five stages of grief]]" wikipedia "The model was introduced by Swiss-American psychiatrist [[file:<|>][Elisabeth KΓΌbler-Ross]] in her 1969 book On Death and Dying,[4] and was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients.[5]" <> So, no, probably not. ***** in current circumstances, i.e. covid Most countries slow to jump to full lockdown slow to the jump Many people sensing that lockdown will end "soon," rather than taking aggressive action early to ensure long term comfort i.e. pushback on my suggestion way back in early may to immediately book a large airbnb in yilan for communal community living with a large social bubble my own response, both times, to lockdown of a week or two of re-adjustment, failing to immediately respond to gym likely being closed for the next few months, etc *** Intense curiosity on the part of the prisoners what will happen to us next? even if morbid what will happen to me after being made to stand out in the cold? *** On human capability Medical men "surprised" to find that humans don't actually "need" a certain amount of sleep Before camp, he had convictions of things he "couldn't" do, i.e. Sleep w/o this live w/o that **** I been saying this shit for ages human capacity way higher than we think we always underestimate our ability but imo humans are the most adaptable complex life on earth we spread out across the entire planet we adapt to environments through external changes rather than through evolutionary ones i.e. we don't spend a million years evolving a new beak, we whack nuts with rocks or cover ourselves in animal skins Plus, whenever struggling, I try to think about how if dudes made it through concentration camps, humans at a baseline are capable of getting through all sorts of shit BUT we often don't agree with that notion, or just aren't aware of it Thinking of all the times someone surprised themselves with their own capabilities when forced to do something Like when tammy pushed the motorcycle across the crosswalk Or when I made it through the coding bootcamp On that note, it'd be swell if there was a way we could leverage that power without external motivation like, moms pulling kids off their toddlers or me getting through the bootcamp cause the alternative was debt and what i believed would be an unfulfilling life (at minimum one without much money) would be nice to be able to "kick that on" at will or just be more realistically aware of our own capabilities **** Dostoevski: "Man can get used to anything" "Yes, but don't ask us how" *** on what it took to survive, or the best dying It took willingness to do anything, including betraying your friends, to survive. So he says "we all know that the best of us didn't make it." Later he's talking about the maintenance of personal values and ethics, and whether the ministrations of the nazis forced people to become like animals, reacting in exactly the right way to survive, with no ability to be human and exert their value framework he decides that no, humans can't be made to become as animals, utterly reactionary to their environment but, his examples seem to include a lot of people who, by acting ethically or to their values, ended up dying as a result, because of the nazis which, sure, you can decide to stick to your values and then die, but such an argument can be and is being weaponized by conservatives/reactionaries/republicans/fascists that simp for insurance companies, or billionaires in america, the "choice" of participating in health insurance or not isn't actually a choice, because if you don't, you die when it comes time to get healthcare pointing a gun at someone's head and saying "choose x or z, but if you choose z, i shoot you" isn't a real choice at all. Can someone in such a situation be blamed for choosing x, regardless of the immorality of x? But, nazis used that same argument to try to weasel out of responsibility for being nazi fucks. The difference is they didn't *literally* have a gun pointed to their head. They had ample opportunity to defect, with a modicum of creativity applied. *** Death became less scary because it spared them having to kill themselves? He promised not to kill himself b/c there'd be no point. …

Kai 15:31:10
Copy and paste of my own notes on part 1:


# Man's Search for Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl

Alternative title: "He who has a why can endure any how."

First part of the book is a minimalist retelling of Frankl's life in Nazi concentration camps. "Minimalist" in both brevity and relative lack of sensory detail. In other words, this is not a dramatic, heartbreaking memoir of the Holocaust β€” Frankl's catharsis seemingly happened elsewhere.

What he wrote instead is a compact, crystalline extract of thematic takeaways, moderately seasoned with personal anecdotes. When these anecdotes describe the extremes of human suffering and cruelty β€” even in muted language, they can still hit pretty hard.

Many of Frankl's themes read to me like "uncommon sense" β€” universal factors that you might observe anywhere if you were paying close attention. It's the starkness of concentration camp life that turns up the contrast:

When status is measured by number of peas in a ladle of soup, the relative nature of status games is made obvious.

As new prisoners rapidly adapted to their terrible living conditions, the reader is powerfully reminded that the hedonic treadmill also works in reverse.

And when Frankl describes how love for his wife and duty towards his unfinished manuscript sustained him, well β€” it certainly puts a lot into perspective.

A lot of juicy thought exercises possible in connection to this:

- How would I have fared in his shoes?
- What beacons of meaning would I cling to?
- What values would be first discarded? Under what justifications?
- What lines would (or wouldn't) I cross? And for what?
- And how, supposing I survived as Frankl's did, would I live my own life differently?
caleb 16:41:05
Thread: The prisoners always thought that reprieve would be just around the corner. Is this a denial of reality? Do we have a hard time accepting reality quickly? Is this related to the stages of grief? And how have we seen this during covid?
caleb 16:44:04
Thread: The prisoners were surprised by their own capabilities. Surprised when they didn't catch a cold after standing outside in the snow for hours, or surprised they could sleep with someone snoring directly in their ear. On that note, they managed to do hard labor for years while starving to near death. IMO humans are way more capable than we're aware. Why aren't we aware of this? Why do we find this surprising? Why do we use this false information of our limits to then actively limit ourselves?
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caleb 16:50:14
Thread: Viktor had the opportunity to flee Austria with an American visa, but he didn't because of an event he took to be a sign from god that he should stay with his parents. I'm wondering if said visa applied to his wife as well, and whether his decision thus resulted in her being stuck in Austria as well, and if so, is he partially to blame for her death?


Ian 13:50:30
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Kai 15:02:09
An analogy for MSFM that comes to mind is "the beach at low tide."

At high tide, you don't see anything interesting because everything is covered by several meters of water. But when the tide goes out, all the hidden features are revealed.

So too with meaning, status, deep values. Assuming a cushy life situation, you can go through many weeks / months /years without needing to confront these. In the absense of many layers of safety nets / makeup / distractions, it's easier to "know thyself."

Related thought: Mandela, Malcom X, and other transformations that took place in prison.

Related thought: Silent meditation retreats, Thoreau's self-imposed isolation.

Related quote: "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."
stuffedwith 18:20:53
Zoom? And soz i wont be able to make it tonight. 😱
Enjoy guys~~
caleb 20:02:41


Gather is a video-calling space that lets multiple people hold separate conversations in parallel, walking in and out of those conversations just as easily as they would in real life.

caleb 20:03:11
@breierthomasΒ @abielerΒ @guo-jimΒ πŸ™‚
caleb 20:18:29
Something might be up with the internet in thomas and I's building
caleb 21:19:27
@ian711 @cameronchow @breierthomas very successful first book club meeting, thanks for coming! I'll put my notes on tomorrow, feel free to do the same for you if that interests you

"Man's Search for Meaning" Book Club Notes - HackMD

白杰 22:46:03
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