McDonald’s coffee and Wi-Fi - the best $1.06 ever spent (at McDonald’s)
I’ve been saying that college is obsolete for a very long time. I dropped out in 2000, because even back then I could see that it was a really poor value proposition. I didn’t predict this because I’m some crazy genius, but because I’m willing to discard emotional attachment and stare plainly at the facts.
School is oturageously expensive, leaving graduates with a debt (or net expenditure) of tens of thousands of dollars— sometimes even one or two hundred thousand. There are some things that are worth that amount of money, but for many people school isn’t one of them. In fact, apart from very specific cases, I think that school is a bad thing, not worth doing even if it was free.
That’s not to say that school has no benefits whatsoever. It does, and although I left with zero additional skills after my three semesters there, I had a good time and benefited from the social aspect. The problem is that you can’t just compare college to doing nothing at all. You have to compare it to what you COULD have done.
Let’s say that when you turn eighteen, it’s a good idea to take four years to develop yourself. College is one way to do that. If we were to construct an alternative way to do that, what could it look like? One of the biggest weaknesses of school is how inflexible it is, so one of the greatest benefits of designing your own curriculum is that you could come up with one that uniquely suits you. That said, here’s a plan that I think would benefit many people MORE than school would. Let’s call it the Hustler’s MBA.
1. Learn poker. To an outsider, poker seems like a form of degenerate gambling. It can be, but that’s not its nature. One of the most valuable skills I’ve learned in life is how to assess hundreds of factors, choose the important ones, evaluate them to make a decision quickly, and then execute that decision. Poker teaches this extremely well. So does pickup, incidentally. Poker develops your logic like nothing else I’ve experienced, and it develops your math skills to a lesser degree. It also teaches a skill I can’t quite define, but would best describe as learning how hard you can push. I’ve found all of these skills to be very useful in life.
Poker will cost you money at first. Let’s say $5000 in the first year. After that you’ll be able to make between $45-60 per hour for the rest of your life. That’s about $85,000 per year, which adjusts for inflation because as money is inflated, the stakes to keep the game interesting will go up. You will also receive “raises” because you’ll always improve as a player and be able to play better stakes. If you’re dedicated to poker, getting this good is virtually guaranteed. I’ve been through the process and it’s not particularly hard. Can school guarantee you a job that pays this well?
Besides being able to make $85k/year, you could also play for six months and make $40k a year. Ultimate flexibility. I don’t think that poker is the best career in the world, because it doesn’t give back to society, but I do think that it’s an excellent backup plan. Knowing that I can always support myself playing poker gives me the freedom to work on big projects without fear.
2. Travel a lot. For the first year, learn a foreign language that interests you. Start with three months of Pimsleur tapes, then get a local tutor. That should cost about $1000 for the first year, and will yield results FAR greater than a class in school. After the first year your self-education will be paid for by poker, so start traveling for three months every year. That should cost around $8k at the most, probably more like $5-6k. When traveling, education comes to you in the form of perspective. You understand other cultures and other people, and will get to practice your foreign language in its native setting. I would also combine travel with watching documentaries about the history of that place. I learned a lot about Rome after visiting, and now I’m kicking myself for not educating myself first.
3. Read every single day for at least an hour. Books get lumped in with other reading like magazines and blogs, but they’re actually far more valuable. The amount of value an author compresses into a book is often astounding. There are books I’ve paid $10 for that have completely changed my life. If you read for 1-2 hours on average, you’ll read around a hundred books per year. I do this now and find it to be one of the most valuable uses of my time. Read at least 50% non-fiction, but fiction is good, too. In school you would probably read 12 books a year at most.
4. Write every single day. Write blog posts, work on a book, write how you’re feeling, or write short stories. I don’t think it really matters. Writing every day helps you develop and refine your thoughts, as well as learn to communicate with others. Almost any field you’ll go into will require communication, so you may as well get good at it. After you write, record a video yourself explaining what you wrote. This will help with public speaking and conversation. After the first year at the very latest, start publicly posting your work. This teaches you to ship and to integrate feedback.
5. Learn to program, even if you don’t want to be a programmer. Programming develops logic and efficiency, amongst other things. Even an intermediate understanding of programming will allow you to be a creator. Programming languages are the languages of the future, so even if you aren’t a programmer yourself, there’s a good chance you’ll be working with them. Speaking someone’s language is nice when you’re working with them, right?
6. Do something social. College is really excellent for making people social, and it’s the one aspect in which don’t expect my plan to exceed school. If you’re a guy, consider getting into pickup. If you’re a human, take group art classes, yoga, dance, or go to meetup groups. Social skills are some of the most important skills you can learn, and they can only truly be developed through social interaction. This interaction has to be in person, too… online chatting can be beneficial, but it’s not enough. Traveling will help you be social as well, especially if you stay in hostels.
7. Eat healthy. When you eat healthy, your brain functions better and you’re safeguarding its longevity. Developing yourself is at least as much about good habits as it is about learning skills. And like all habits, the earlier you start, the better. I’d say that the minimum to shoot for here is cutting out all sweeteners and refined grains. Besidses the obvious health benefits, eating healthy will help you build discipline, which is an absolutely essential life skill.
8. Follow curiousity and spend money on it when necessary. These things that I’ve included so far are the baseline— the new liberal arts education. They leave you plenty of time in your day to follow whatever you’re interested in. Don’t force it and try to learn investment banking because you think it would make a good career. If you’re interested in butterflies, learn about butterflies. The rest of the curriculum is enough to make sure that you’ll always be able to provide for yourself and will be a well rounded person, so consider this section your speculative learning. Maybe you’ll find something you’re passionate about, which will become your career, or maybe you’ll just become a really interesting person who knows a lot about a lot of things. Either way is fine. Don’t be afraid to spend money on tutors, classes, equipment, seminars, or travel.
9. Start a business after two years. With a full two years of self-education under your belt, you should have something useful to contribute to society. School makes you go from sheltered learning mode straight into real-world career mode. I think a better way is to have a transition, and to couple productivity with learning. Having that habit will ensure that you continue to perfect your craft as you get older. Your business can be anything— a tech startup, publishing books you’ve written, giving speeches, making clothing and selling it online, whatever you’re into. Read some business books before starting it and try to make money. One of the most common complaints I hear from graduates of traditonal school is that nothing they learned was actually applicable to real ife. Everything you learn from starting a business IS.
This is a modern curriculum that, on average, will produce people better prepared for real life than college. Obviously, it won’t work if you want to be something that requires certification like a doctor or lawyer. The beauty of it is that it has a negative cost (you will make money due to poker, and hopefully your business), and can be funded initially with $5000 for poker. A few months into the second year, you will have paid off the poker debt and begun to self fund your life.
Will this work for you? There’s no guarantee, but I see people work pretty hard at school, and if that same effort were put towards the Hustler’s MBA, I thnk the chance of being self-sufficient and prepared for “real life” is about 90%. I’d estimate that non-laywer/doctor college is somewhere around 50-70%. So, like anything, this plan is not totally foolproof, but I think it’s a lot better and cheaper than the alternative.
There’s a big taboo around telling people not to go to college. I find myself adhering to it, not ever suggesting that younger members of my family should drop out or skip school entirely. But maybe the time has come for us to look at college objectively, really quantify what goes in and what comes out, and evaluate it on its merits alone, rather than its historical value or its societal aura.
“The brain can be developed just the same as the muscles
can be developed, if on will only take the pains to train
the mind to think.” -Thomas A. Edison
"There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." - Sam Walton
THE RAVEN (Debts No More)
(Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven)
Once upon a midnight dreary, while insolvent weak and weary,
Over a balance sheet covered in a cloud of debts galore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.’
Ah, distinctly I remember it was bleak as Lehman’s September,
And each despicable creditor wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I sought more to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the abundant days of yore -
And the rare and hidden debts of toxic bailout whores -
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each indentured debt just
Thrilled me - thrilled me with fantastic plastic Sino-crap never bought before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
‘Tis some banksta entreating entrance at my chamber door -
My late payments entreating his entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,’
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your debt forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no debt bloated mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Debts No More!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Debts No More!’
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, my bankrupt soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
‘Tis the wind of regretted debts and nothing more!’
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly solvent days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Subprime Croesus just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the counterclaim it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no Wall Street schemer.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering in my open chamber -
Tell me what unlordly crime now comes from those Wall Street whores!’
Quoth the raven, `Debts No More!’
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no insolvent human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Debts No More.’
But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
Those simple words, as if his soul in that one phrase he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have drowned in debt before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then again the bird said, `Debts No More.’
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom financial disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Debts No More.”’
But the raven still beguiling all my bankrupt soul to smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Debts No More.’
Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bankrupt core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
He shall press, ah, Debts No More!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by the House of Greenspans’s sacred liens whose foot-falls tinkled on the subprime floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy proposition of Debts No More!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this silliness of Debts No More!’
Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.’
`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this debt spoiled land all fraudclosure haunted -
On this subprime home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there a cancer in the Bernanks brain? - tell me - tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.’
`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this lost soul with unpaid debts laden if, within the distant Eden,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Debts No More -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Debts No More?’
Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.’
`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the usurious shore!
Leave fraudclosure doom as a token of the words thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my credit score unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my wallet, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.’
And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Subprime Croesus just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is screaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my net worth from out that debtless shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted, nevermore!
I am come of a race noted for vigor of fancy and ardor of passion. Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious- whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in awakening, to find that they have been upon the verge of the great secret. In snatches, they learn something of the wisdom which is of good, and more of the mere knowledge which is of evil. They penetrate, however, rudderless or compassless into the vast ocean of the “light ineffable,” and again, like the adventures of the Nubian geographer, “agressi sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi.”
We will say, then, that I am mad. I grant, at least, that there are two distinct conditions of my mental existence — the condition of a lucid reason, not to be disputed, and belonging to the memory of events forming the first epoch of my life — and a condition of shadow and doubt, appertaining to the present, and to the recollection of what constitutes the second great era of my being. Therefore, what I shall tell of the earlier period, believe; and to what I may relate of the later time, give only such credit as may seem due, or doubt it altogether, or, if doubt it ye cannot, then play unto its riddle the Oedipus.
"Explore the human body using the latest 3D technology."
"The Human platform is built using one of the newest Web standards (called WebGL), which means you can enjoy stunning, interactive 3D graphics - without having to download a plug-in or perform any installation. Plus, since the platform is totally Cloud-based, no need to worry about updates, maintenance, or hosting. At last, understand your health using a format that resembles life itself!"
It’s been… a while since I found this and started using it to research various workout induced twinges. Hopefully, you find it helpful (or at least entertaining) and can use it to learn more about the human body and it’s function.