Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Simple things that are difficult

with one comment

We understand how something complicated (functions in Hilbert Spaces, for example) is difficult, but it’s always a bit of a shock to run into something dead simple that turns out to be extremely difficult. Some examples:

1. Three-cushion billiards. Three balls are used: a red one, a white cue ball, and the other player’s white cue ball, which has a black dot. Each player hits one cue ball to make it hit the two other balls, but before the player’s cue ball strikes the second ball for the first time, the cue ball must have previously hit the cushions around the table three times. Seems pretty simple. Actually, even simple billiards—your cue ball must strike the other two, no requirement regarding cushions) is pretty difficult.

2. Go/Baduk/Weichi. An oriental game in which a move consists of placing a stone on a board. Groups of stones unconnected to any free intersections are dead and removed. You get a point for each stone you capture, and a point for each vacant intersection that you surround

3. Being honest. Dead simple idea, very difficult to put into practice. Indeed, it’s difficult to be honest simply with yourself, much less with other people. Too many things we want to avoid, deny, or forget. Honesty does bring good rewards—being trusted is nice—but the challenges are easy to underestimate.

I do note that “honesty” can be used aggressively, as a weapon, and I’ve noticed that those who practice this technique are never honest about what they’re doing. Maybe honesty is not so simple: it just sounds simple, but runs afoul of our own confusion and cowardice.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that the first two are skills that can be acquired through practice and coaching—in other words, you can get better at it, and if you practice, you do get better. You may never make it to master, but practice will improve your skill.

So I imagine the same thing applies to being honest. One would, I suppose, start with short intervals, working first on being honest with oneself: trying to dispel illusions, seek counter-examples and contrary evidence for beliefs we hold dear—that sort of thing. Say, 10 minutes to start with, then gradually increasing time. Then add being honest with others: tricky. But I bet practice improves performance.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 August 2013 at 9:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Games

One Response

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  1. Nice article!


    31 August 2013 at 10:49 am

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