I feel better now that it is over, or a review of the anime Neon Genisis Evangelion

After watching 26 episodes and a full length movie, I am feeling a little tripped out right now; what a better way to explore the realms of the psyche than with writing. For those of you who are into anime cartoons, you have probably seen NGO. For those of you who aren’t into anime, this series review is for you. This is probably the darkest review I have done yet, as the subject matter is the darkest too. Yet.

The purple one with the big horn on its head, in the middle, is unironically the best one.

For the past couple of weeks I have been watching a show about a bunch of cartoon characters struggling with severe bouts of depression, loneliness, generational trauma after a cataclysmic event called “The Second Impact”, and coming of age. These cartoon characters are tasked with battling “Angels” with their android units called Evangelions. All of this is to stop the end of the world. So that’s the story in a nut shell.

In having now watched that story, I can see that there were many times that I found myself completely enthralled with the writers and illustrators and their courage to explore the dark realms of horror, abandonment, trauma, joy, family, escapism, and many other themes. More importantly though, I was impressed that a show was able to illicit feelings of triumph to the point of tears and keep me on the edge of my seat with intrigue. But in the same breath, there were parts that had me absolutely bored to abysmal state.

But that’s only the surface. Diving into what this show made me experience I would like to start off my saying that this world that we live in has many experiences that are ultimately beyond what any one of us are able to control, take COVID for instance. Many of these experiences (suicide, murder, betrayal to name a few), while felt by many, are experienced on a individual level, as in they are felt by you and they are felt by me. This seems pretty elementary at this point, but lets go further and see if this ties back into Evangelion. 

You see, there is something ultimately mysterious about the experiences that those around us have. The kind of lived experience that you have will never be truly understood by me. You can talk about your experience, you can make art about your experience and you can even inflict pleasures and pains on others, but those experiences are your own and expecting anyone to “get you” is a far cry. 

So what does this have to do with Evangelion? Throughout the show we watch characters express and experience their reality. We, the audience, watch their reality. To the best of our ability, we can only make a guess at what the characters are experiencing. Shoot, they have no idea what we experience and that’s the point of where I am going with all of this: even though I am here writing out my thoughts as best as I am able and you are reading them as much as you are interested, neither you nor I understand each other any better just as the characters on screen don’t understand their audience any better than we understand them. 

Okay, so what does this have to do with Evangelion? You see, the larger problem that this show exposes is that even if you and I were able to perfectly understand each other, if there was no barrier between the characters on screen, you and I or us and them, then reality would become a unified experience devoid of differentiation, specificity, or (dare I say it) originality. It is by this fact of individuality, or the barrier of understand-ability, that warrants our yearning and desire to see love expressed towards others. It is for the fact that we are all left alone inside our own bodies, to live and die as we will, that garners the possibility of empathy for another’s life. Even if that life is a cartoon character. 

Now I’ll ask this one last time, what does any of this have to do with Neon Genesis Evangelion? Well, this show evinces the terrible realities that we all must overcome, the angels we must battle within our world in order for us to remain who we are becoming, and to protect those around us whom we suspect are as lost, lonely, frustrated and traumatized by an existence they perceptively didn’t ask for, nor can they change. Neon Genesis Evangelion is a really weird show that uses anime tropes like monsters, mechanized war machines and child pilots to explore the complexities of human experience in an array of visual drama, plot driven character development, and an emotional arrangement of music. Aside from the immense feelings of despair and haunting sadness, this show explicitly captures the imaginations of each subsequent generation with its ability to say the words that we all seemed to feel growing up as prepubescent children and even as existentially drifting adults.  

Alright, I am done tripping. I am going to go for a walk or something. It is way better than being locked down by these thoughts. Afterwards I will probably listen to my self play the guitar (been learning a great song lately). Then I am going to get closer to finishing my next book I’d like to report on and then cook dinner.  

Reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking” Changed My Life

What if I could give you six simple tips on building self-confidence and influencing people which will virtually double your audiences, leave them watning more, and practically handing you everything they have just to get you to speak to them again… you’d be interested, right? Well let’s dive into today’s book report and Dale Carnegie’s message found in How to Develop Self-confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking.

If you have never read his work before, you will really like reading Dale Carnegie. He has a very palatable style, for the most part, and an ingenuity towards his prose which often is felt more when shared than when read. For example, have you ever found it strange that other’s will ignore feedback and or advice when you give it, but when the recipient learns that you learned this stuff from such-n-such book/author, it seems to bare more weight for the both of you? That’s how reading Dale Carnegie feels, weighter when shared.

Now, how I came by this book was when I found a yard sale going on during the COVID-19 Quarantine. The old guy running it didn’t seem to care about social distance or face masks, as I could smell his teeth practically rotting in his mouth. If I hadn’t known he lived in the shabby, rundown, overgrown house, I’d assumed him some homeless man camping out on an abandoned property fencing what ever garbage he pulled out of others’ trashcans just to make a couple bucks.

So you can imagine my suprise when I found this aged book lying in all the junk he had heaped in piles and old milk crates. What was more shocking to me was he sold the book for less than the cover price of thirty-five cents! A whopping Quarter! What a deal, right? Come to think of it, he probably should have kept the book and learned a thing or two from it… he seemed to need the advice it contains more than I do. But then again, I was influenced by this book.

How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking

Dale CArnegies’ experience as a life coach (before there were even such things as life coaches), and as a public speaking coach made him an absolute power-house to teach readers about what makes for confident public speaking. He touts thousands of hours helping others understand othe basics, the fundamentals, of presenting your message to others. I can only imagine the poor lads and ladies who often had sought him out for his specialized help. They probably paid a small fortune to have his personalized help, but I was able to get his insights for only a Quarter. What’s more is that I get to keep his work for as long as I live, may what I learn be of use to you.

So what did I learn that was so valuable, that’s probably what you are asking right now. Quite a bit actually. Each morning, after doing my early exercises and meditation, I would take up this book digest bite-sized chucks until I had entirely understood his text. Then I would take those insights with me as I went about my day. You must understand that I pondering, reflecting, and reinforcing his ideas have changed my life and I know that they will change yours.

Six Tips to Develop Self-Confidence

How you look matters more than you think…

What I learned, first and foremost, is that humans are immensly visual creatures. A large portion of our brain is dedicated to making judgements about what we see around us. And when you put yourself infront of others’ eyes, you open your self to the judgement making machine that is the human brain. So: Dress well! Maybe not in a tux or wedding gown, unless it is the occasion, but dressing shabby will lower your opinion of your self and how your audience sees you too.

…how you look determines what others think.

…dressing shabby will lower your opinion of your self…

Alixander Court

If it isn’t your motto…

Now, as people, who are very visual and judgmental, people are experts at smelling BS. Your audience will smell it the moment it comes up, and you are going to feel the heat when you try to pass that off on your listeners. The only way you can bypass your audience’s sense for BS is to do what the bull-shitters don’t: Prepare you message in advance! When you take the time to prepare your message for others, they will sense the care you have put into your message.

…it should be.

when you have taken care of your message, your audience will feel like you have taken care of them. So how much time do you need to prepare, is probably what you are asking. A week, a month, a year, what ever it takes for you to practice your message until you will instinctively feel confident when it comes time to deliver your message. And trust me, your audience will feel confidence in you too.

To know thy self is good…

But how do you prepare for delivering your message? Don’t you fret, I will help you with that too. Repeat after me: Know what you are going to say before you say it! This is of course easier said than done, obviously, but when you memorize the facts, learn to paraphrase what you’ve learned, craft analogies and stories to make sense of your expertise… isn’t this what people do who know what they are talking about? The answer is yes, that is what people who know what they are talking about do.

…to know thy message is better…

If I haven’t made it clear to you yet on how you can build self-confidence and influence people, let’s get down to the most essential tip you have to remember: Speak simply, but not like an idiot! No one wants to listen to a bumbling idiot -that’s part of why we avoid our bosses so much… Okay, I’m joking. But at the same time, we hate when our bosses talk down to us and treat us like we are idiots. How much better it is when we speak simply with our friends. This is what your audience wants for you. And who influences us more than our friends?

…and to speak simply is best…

Stay with me now. I know there is a ton to think about when it comes to building self-confidence and influencing people. If you will stay with me, you will learn the most interesting thing I read in the whole book. If you want to radically influence people, listen to what Mr. E.F. Benson has to say about how your audience sees you before you ever get up to deliver your message. He says that the audience must, “…rely on the speaker to supply the enthusiasm and interest.” It is your job to stay interested in your message from the start, middle, and end. When you will stay interested in your message, your audience will be interested too!

…but to be interesting is king!

“Remember that.”

Dale Carnegie

So now that you know the beginning, the middle, how do you end your message? I’ve got you covered there too. If you cannot call people to action, which is what influencing people means, leave them entertained! The most powerful way that you can leave people entertained is by leaving them with an important quote from someone important/memorable/celebrated, or a poem. For example, and you probably know this one by heart:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by.

Robert Frost

Answer the Call!

I am certain that some of these simple tips will, if followed, have a profound impact on the way you deliver your next message. And becuase you have showed up here, looking for a way to quickly build up your self-confidence, you will surely make the changes that people need you to make in order to influence them.

All it takes, in the end, is curating your image, crafting your message, and consequently practicing the craft right up until the time to deliver your message to your audience. The choice, of course, is yours: master your message, or don’t. So choose! Go down the road more traveled and totally blow it, or when you see those two roads diverge, take the one less traveled by!

Learning About Learning in Ultralearning


Pretty exciting to follow Scott Young on his cool book Ultralearning.

Seriously, made me reconsider how I approach all projects that I do. Including the one I’m currently on, which I would affectionately call my 100 book challenge.


Well there’s a lot of things about this book that I don’t necessarily agree with, I think that the practical nature the practice , of this book  any reader regardless of skill level in any project that they find themselves in.

Where I do find that Scott young falls short is in his understanding of learning, from a psychological basis. In psychology learning is a really difficult thing to measure. So learning has kind of been defined to a change of behavior. Psychologists and scientists can determine whether learning has occurred if behavior has changed. This point is entirely missed by Scott Young, and I think not using a psychological definition of learning underminds a lot of the work that he’s doing in this book.

So ultimately, Scott Young’s book is describing how to learn, or change your behavior, at a very aggressive rate. Other than that, there’s nothing else that I would add or detract from the book. It was a great read through, lots of fun examples and exercises, and useful to anyone who takes self-education seriously.

You can find my bullet notes below:

Alixander’s Bullet Journal Notes

These are my bullet journal notes from Ultralearning, by Scott Young

There are three kinds of learning: low-intensity habits, formal learning, and ultra learning

  • There seems to be a subset of learners who take on the task of learning at a super accelerated rate.
  • Barring genius, these learners rigorously test their limits by making learning an active process.
  • There is a valid need to adopt ultra learning:
    • Specialization can easily be disrupted in the market space
      • Solution: learn new stuff fast
  • Answer these questions when starting out:
    • Why am I learning X
      • Is this subject instrumental value (ie increases my marketability to employers)
      • Is it intrinsic (ie make me happy to do it or brings me value knowing I can)
    • What am I going to learn about X
      • What concepts am I going to learn, or have learned
      • What facts am I going to learn, or have learned
      • What procedures am I going to learn, or have learned
    • How am I going to learn about X
      • Seek scaffolds, like online syllabuses
      • Seek mentors who have done it before, or something like what you are trying to accomplish
  • Focus: initiate, maintain, and optimize
  • Direct or “hands on learning” is best
  • Drills are what make the fundamentals stick
  • Retrieval Testing is how you solidify knowledge
    • SRS (spaced repetition software)
    • Concept Mapping
    • Retrieval quizzing
  • Feedback can lead to a greater level of learning
    • Self-assessment feedback is how did I do
    • Corrective feedback is choose the right answer from many
    • Information feedback is fill in the blank
    • Object feedback is pass/fail
  • Remembering
    • SRS
    • Proceduralization
    • Over-learning
    • Mnemonics
  • Intuition
    • Come up with examples
    • Start from the beginning like you don’t know
    • Try to make it concrete by making real the concept
      • The Feynman Technique
  • Experiment
    • Meta-learning
    • Aggressive experimentation
      • learn from diverse realms
      • Drill down to learn more
      • Try different styles
    • Adopt a growth mindset
      • Copy (ie recreate another artist)
      • Compare (ie compare your work to theirs)
      • Constraint (ie try it again with your other hand)
      • Consistency (ie do it again and again and again)
  • How to do an ultralearning project
    • Do research
      • Topic & Scope
      • Primary Sources
      • Benchmarking
      • Direct Practice
    • Schedule Time
      • How much time
      • When (consistency)
      • Length of time
      • Pilot week (trial run)
    • Execute
      • Metalearning
      • Focus
      • Directness
      • Drill
      • Retrieval
      • Feedback
      • Retention
      • Intuition
      • Experimentation
    • Review results in the end
    • Maintain or master