Things I Learned Today: April 24, 2020

1. The Falsity Of "Shareholder Values"

From John Kay's illuminating book Other People's Money, on the rise of financialization and its consequence:

  • In 1987, ICI's annual report stated:
    • "ICI aims to be the world's leading chemical company, servicing customers internationally through the innovative and responsible application of chemistry and related science... Through achievement of our aim, we will enhance the wealth and well-being of our shareholders, our employees, our customers, and the communities which we serve and in which we operate."
  • In 1994, ICI's annual report stated:
    • "Our objective is to maximize value for our shareholders by focusing on businesses where we have market leadership, a technological edge and a world competitive cost base."
  • The company then proceeded to sell off its commodity chemicals business to finance new acquisitions, many of which failed to integrate. Ultimately ICI was taken over by a Dutch company AkzoNobel on June 2007.

2. On Having No Head

Today I discovered a crazy meditation technique called headless meditation. It is mind-blowing.

Ready? Here's what you do:

  1. Sit in a chair.
  2. Keep your eyes open, meditate*.
  3. Now, look into the air. Don't focus on anything in particular. Keep the gaze soft.
  4. Do you see your head? No.
  5. Notice that, in your consciousness, the idea of having a head is itself a part of your consciousness.
  6. Notice that the feeling of "meditating from inside a head" slowly dissipates, and you're left with just the space of consciousness itself.
  7. You no longer have a head.
  8. Continue to meditate. Perhaps close your eyes. But it is easier with your eyes open.

*If you have never meditated, here's how: pay close attention to your breath, the sensation of your body, the sound you hear... yadi yada. And if you ever find yourself distracted by a thought, notice the thought itself and come back to your breath.

Pretty cool.

3. Pineapple Infancy

It takes two goddamn years to grow a pineapple. Yes, 24 months for one pineapple.