My Current Workout Plan and Philosophy

This post was originally called My Current Workout/Diet Plan, but creating a sample diet that includes Lunchables and Papa John’s is maybe not a pro move. But I’ll tell you what is a pro move: heating your Lunchables…


My cousin lives with me and he walked downstairs as I was heating those up and said “You certainly are a paradox.” This is what Cuban money gets you, folks. Microwaved Lunchables at 9:30am.

One reason I don’t eat all that healthy is because I love to eat out and order in. Anything except cooking myself. I sort of realized I have a problem the other day when I ordered so much Indian food they brought me the rice in an aluminum party tray.


That’s actually really sad.

Another reason I haven’t eaten healthy is that I’ve always responded better – and found it easier – to working out over healthy eating. I create little tests to determine which workouts/diets are best – hint: the best diet actually doesn’t include pizza and snacks that could sit out for 20 years without spoiling – and I 100% believe my body responds much better to working out > healthy eating. I hear others are different, but the numbers suggest that’s the case for me personally. Obviously both are ideal, but you can’t win ’em all, moving on.

A couple months ago, I made a goal to get into better shape. I used to work out all the time when I was in college – and for a couple years after – and then #DFSLife took hold of me and it’s been a struggle since then. At my peak, I weighed 178 pounds and could bench press 225 pounds 31 times. I literally don’t give one shit about how much weight I can lift, but it does give you some insight into how much time I was wasting being a meathead. I could also squat the bar for two reps. Two reps.


Barbell-Based Living (Pun Not Intended But Totally Intended)

In an earlier post titled What It’s Like to Work in DFS, I mentioned I typically work out mid-day. I’ve almost always done this – sans a brief stint of living the life of a vampire – because it breaks up my day really nicely. I tend to do my most strenuous work – like writing, building models, etc. – in the morning, then work out as a way to sort of recuperate from that.

This philosophy of intense bursts of energy followed by periods of rest is more or less how I strive to live most aspects of life: work, exercise, and even playing DFS. Even before I read about Taleb’s barbell strategy (and subsequently applied it to fantasy sports), I found far superior results by performing shorter, more intense workouts – or by doing very light workouts, like walking – than to perform longer workouts of moderate intensity. Even today, I prefer and would recommend to anyone trying to lose weight or get healthy to do sprint training – sprint, walk, sprint, walk – as opposed to jogging.

Now I’ve tried to bring this barbell-based approach that emphasizes extremes to achieve “balance” to other aspects of life. At FantasyLabs, our developers work in two-week “sprints” in which they create products at warp speed, followed by maintenance periods that, although still hectic since we’re a startup, are about as light of a load as we can have them take on right now. We’ve found this approach to be far superior than them trying to work on product development, maintenance, IT support, etc. all at once; when you cast too wide of a net and try to do everything, you end up doing nothing, or else just doing everything sort of shitty. I much prefer a “super niche” approach in which I/we focus on very specific things and tackle them in a very intense way; multi-tasking is for suckers.


Where I Work Out

DraftKings did a video on me that they insisted had to be based around me working out, especially jogging around Philadelphia. Just between us, that doesn’t happen that often except when I need to get the dog outside because he’s being an asshole, but that’s fine.


In that video, though, you can see me lifting weights in my basement. That was so awkward, by the way. There were six people down there and I was working out pretty much in the dark. They make it look somewhat lit up, but it was very dark and I had to perform a lot of sets and since I’m not gonna bench 20-pound weights in this very, very serious feature about my life that millions upon millions will see, I got very tired and just immediately started struggling while six strangers filmed, shined lights, and held mics around me. Totally normal day.

But that basement is where I work out most of the time – sometimes I go to a gym, but only if it’s off-hours – and I really don’t have much equipment: a bench, these adjustable PowerBlock dumbbells (such a good buy), and a pull-up thing (I think that’s the official name for it if you want to search on Amazon…pull-up thing). I really don’t think you need much equipment to get in shape, and I’d actually be just fine not using any at all. When I lived in New York, I worked out at playgrounds – primarily on the monkey bars with pull-up/dip supersets – and that was plenty for me. I stopped doing that once I reached pedophile-level frequency of hanging out on a playground.

So that’s where I work out, along with walks (and occasional sprints/jogs) outside. The exact sort of workout I do changes a lot. Before I get into that, I want to explain my exercise philosophy in greater detail.


My Exercise Philosophy

If I had to describe the way I approach working out – specifically lifting weights, which I believe is the most effective and quickest way to change your body/health, male or female – it would be “organized chaos.” There’s an overarching goal I try to accomplish with each workout, but the combination of exercises, which muscles I work out, how intensely I perform things, and just about every aspect of the workout changes all the time – even within the workout itself. I saw a workout plan that was based around putting exercises on a card and drawing them at random, and while I wouldn’t say what I do is totally random, I do think there are random elements to it that make it superior to a “three sets of three exercises for chest on Wednesdays” sort of plan.

There’s a popular workout maxim that you need to “keep your body guessing.” I’m actually not a believer in that per se, but I do think the approach that stems from that – to do different types of workouts and exercises – can lead to good results. The way I “keep my body guessing,” though, isn’t to just switch things up in an effort to be random, but rather to actually shift what I’m trying to accomplish mid-workout based on how I feel. As an example, I might start a workout wanting to do heavy bench presses and find that I really just don’t have the strength/endurance to do it, and thus I might transition into a lighter chest day in which I’m really focused on the connection between mind and muscle, or move to other muscles altogether.

I think the mind-muscle connection is really important. You and I could do the exact same exercise with the exact same weight for the exact same reps, and yet I (or you) might work out the desired muscle more intensely than the other by really focusing on using that area of the body to move the weight; I think people concentrate so much on moving weight, when that’s just one specific means of reaching your true end goal, which is either building muscle or strength (not synonymous). The movement is a means to an end; focus on contracting your muscles to force the weight to move as opposed to simply doing reps to do reps.

Part of this approach means not really having an ego when it comes to lifting weights. I used to be able to lift heavy – and I believe there’s a pretty important place for that in any workout plan – but many times I will go to the gym and get a better workout benching 135 pounds or curling 30s than trying to go really big. I used to not be that way, and things changed when I started doing different types of workouts. I believe it was actually yoga that shifted my workout philosophy. I was forced to do a workout I really didn’t want to do – and one at which I was awful – which subsequently made me re-think things. How could I lift X weight, but I couldn’t even hold myself up for 10 seconds?

And so I started thinking about how you can go about a workout, and really how you can make it more difficult. The most obvious way is to increase the weight, which I think is the default approach every guy uses to get bigger. But I came up with four fundamentals to any sort of movement:

  1. Resistance (or Weight)
  2. Repetitions
  3. Length of Set (Speed of Movement, or Form)
  4. Rest Time

Regardless of the exercise – whether it’s a bench press or push-up or sprint or bicep curl – there are four primary components that determine difficulty (at least that I’ve identified). The first, and most popular, is resistance. More weight is more difficult. For a sprint, this might be running with a weighted vest or parachute or something. So many people focus on improving in this area, but it’s really just one-quarter of the puzzle, in my opinion.

The second is reps. Twelve reps of X pounds is more difficult than 10 reps, all else equal. Duh.

The third is the length of the set. This comes down to the speed at which you perform a rep, if you do reps at all (with yoga, I ended up doing really long sets with little or no movement). Using “good form” (which I actually don’t think is always necessary) is part of this; you can do the same number of reps of the same amount of weight and make it way freakin’ harder by doing the reps in a slow, controlled manner.

The fourth fundamental is rest time – the amount of time between sets. Cutting down on this time is perhaps the easiest way to get lean.

In every workout I do, I want to focus on improving in one of these areas. Each workout becomes a competition in which I want to get better in some way. That’s traditionally been “lift more weight” for most, but again, I think that’s just a small piece of the puzzle. I want to lift more weight for more and better reps with as little rest as possible.


The Current Plan

My current workout plan – what I do on maybe 80% of days right now – is called (I think) The Filthy 50. I saw this in Men’s Health or something years ago and I thought it was a really unique and interesting foundation for working out. At a fundamental level, it consists of doing 50 reps of 10 different exercises.

There are so many variations of this plan that you can do, of course. You can make it a full-body workout, or go very hard on just two muscles (with five sets each), or make it an all-cardio workout with exercises like sprints, burpees, etc. The only requirements I have are 1) the exercises are intense – like clean-and-jerks, squat jumps, burpees, and so on, and 2) I cannot physically perform 50 reps in a row. I actually end up using fairly heavy weights for this workout in most iterations – typically about what it takes to do three sets per exercise. I almost always reach around 20 reps on the first set, 16 or so on the second, and about 14 on the third. The idea, traditionally, is to do the 500 total reps as quickly as possible. By choosing weights too heavy to reach 50 reps in one set, you’re forcing yourself to work very hard to get to that number.

This is probably a good time to mention my thoughts on counting reps, which I typically think you should avoid unless you know you are trying to exceed a number you can perform with that weight in one set. I don’t mean to get too Taoist on you, but the reps (and resistance, length of set, and rest time) are all completely irrelevant and relevant at the same time; they matter, yet they don’t. What I mean by that is they matter only in a holistic way when considered in conjunction with each other, but they’re useless pieces of information in isolation. I can use the same weight and perform a better set of six reps than 12, but only if my form is better or I’m cutting down on rest time. It all works together, and I think counting reps is useful only when controlling for each other fundamental, which is challenging. Thus, I think you should focus on pushing yourself to fatigue on every set – every single one, no matter what – as opposed to reaching a number and then stopping. Your body changes when you do something you’ve never done before in one of the four fundamentals.

Even when I do a Filthy 50 workout, I will extend beyond 50 (even if I stop counting at that point) if I can. If there’s one way in which I approach working out that’s different from others, it’s probably this idea: I truly believe you need to do every set until you can’t take on any more resistance…until true failure.

So you probably thought you’d see specific exercises here, how many sets I do, when I do them, and so on. There’s really not any particular exercises I do that are revolutionary – bench press, dips, push-ups for chest, pull-ups, rows for back…the same as everyone else – but I think the way in which I go about completing the exercises is perhaps unique. I actually think the exact exercises you do aren’t even that important.

My goal for each workout is to improve in at least one of the four fundamentals, and thus I concentrate on emphasizing one each time. Sometimes I use heavier weight. Sometimes I do more reps at a greater speed, even if it means sacrificing form (in a smart way that won’t get me injured). Sometimes I really focus on lengthening sets and harping on mind-muscle connection. And sometimes I do extremely quick workouts with little to no rest between sets.

In my experience, focusing on killing it in one of these four areas – and mixing them up at equal (but random) ratios based on how you feel – has been the most effective way to get in shape quickly.

What It’s Like to Party at the Playboy Mansion

If you’ve never been to the Playboy Mansion, it’s pretty much exactly what you think the Playboy Mansion is like, times 10. I was lucky enough to visit for the second time recently after qualifying for the FanDuel MLB Championship. Big shout out to my lineup, which finished 78th out of 80 in the tournament. When you have the chance to finish in the bottom 4% of a championship event, you take it.

This time around was different than last because 1) it was my friend Peter Jennings’ bachelor party and 2) I was being shadowed by a writer for SUCCESS Magazine (Michael Mooney). We had 10 total guys come out for Peter’s funeral, and the best man – Beckmann – suggested we stay at Chateau Marmont. If you’re unfamiliar with the hotel, here’s a rundown. Basically, a lot of celebrities stay there and misbehave and/or die.

Per Beckmann when we arrived at Chateau on Friday afternoon: “This place makes good girls go bad.”

Chateau Marmont looks like an old castle. We stayed in Bungalow 1, which is separated from the main hotel. There are four bungalows – Britney Spears was in another one while we were there, apparently – and they’re very private, with a pool, bar, and ping pong table right out the backdoor. Here’s a look at some pictures, all six of which are from Google because I didn’t actually take any photos.

The bungalow itself is very old. I think Peter was a bit tilted when we first arrived because you aren’t paying $5k/night for luxury; it’s all about the history, privacy, and charm. When we first walked into the bungalow, we saw a bunch of alcohol that we naively thought was complimentary. You know, because we paid $5k/night. Then I saw a $12 small bag of chips and realized maybe, just maybe, the liquor wasn’t on the house. We ended up just hiding that so no one could drink it.

We played a bunch of ping pong the first afternoon, and I’d stack our group of guys up against anyone (who is moderately good at ping pong). One of the guys – Steve Bass – was a professional tennis player, which is relevant because he was part of a bet with poker player Brandon Adams on Tuesday in Vegas. Peter was able to travel out to watch Stephen and Brandon play a match of tennis, and the bet was that Bass had to beat Brandon 6-0, 6-0 to win – and he was around (-145) to do it. I think there was some big money on this thing, and Bass indeed won.

One thing that was really cool, though, was learning how Brandon set up the match to try to tilt the odds in his favor. He was able to choose the court, which was at the top of Cosmopolitan. It’s a really shitty court, apparently, at elevation somewhat (Bass said this matters). They also played at 11am – a time when the shadow of the building was moving across the court. It was just really sharp thinking from BA – who is a really smart guy in general – as he knew he was a dog and wanted to embrace variance as much as possible. Bass is also a sharp guy, so he played a super low-variance strategy in which he simply tried to make shots and force Brandon to continually beat him. I originally thought the line of (-145) was probably about right given that BA plays tennis quite a bit – he’s had some big prop bets with Patrik Antonius in the past – but after watching the match, I think he was probably close to drawing dead.

On Friday night we stopped by the FanDuel opening party at the W in Westwood, which is right next to UCLA. That’s where I first met Michael. I thought it might be awkward having someone shadow me for the weekend, but it wasn’t at all; Michael pretty much just became an honorary member of the bachelor party right away.

He immediately met a lot of guys in daily fantasy sports – Dan Back, beepimajeep (Jay Raynor), Tommy G (no idea what the ‘G’ stands for), Cal Spears, and so on. Michael has a poker background, which was definitely a huge plus for me when I first found out he would be writing the story, i.e. since poker and DFS are similar games in a lot of ways, he “gets it” when it comes to daily fantasy.

We ate some food at the W and then headed back to Chateau, where we hung out at the bar for a bit. I think I went back to the room at like 2 or 3am, which I’d love to say contributed to the poor performance of my lineup, but it really didn’t. I could do a breakdown of my team and why I liked it, but who really gives a shit?

So I woke up Saturday, did a little research and set my lineup, and then we all headed to the Playboy Mansion. The best way to describe the Playboy Mansion is through pictures. Once again, I took none of these and just found most on Instagram by searching for the event.

Until you’re there, you really can’t appreciate how many girls are shipped into this thing. It’s kind of insane. I’m not really sure where they come from – I heard something about an app that the Mansion or FanDuel uses to find them – but the place is just crawling with models taking selfies.

If taking selfies is an art, these girls are the Michelangelos and Picassos and da Vincis of our time. I think being in the presence of such incredible artists is what had me so flustered and nervous to converse with them; talking to a hot girl is one thing, but trying to do it while she’s creating an Instagram video of her bending over and twerking in a bikini on the Playboy Mansion driveway – her canvas – is another. You have to respect their craft.

I did take one photo at the Mansion – of a parrot – which is either because I didn’t want to look like a creep on my phone or because I’m a giant fucking pussy, or both. While searching for photos to add to this blog, I did find this video, though…

Eye candy 🍡 Follow my snap for more fun under the sun : 👻marymerkems

A video posted by Mary Rodriguez (@marymerkems) on

Noteworthy because if you were to set odds on which guy would be talking to her, I would take even money on Tommy G, and it’s indeed him. If you’ve ever seen a lion creeping around searching for prey in the wild, that’s kind of like what it’s like to party with Tommy G (if the lion failed on 90% of its targets, but was just so fucking relentless that it always got something to eat because it just keeps going and going and going until it happens upon a wounded animal or an emotionally unstable underage girl). Tommy is the man and does always get girls, so I’m just playing of course.

There are a variety of different areas around the Mansion – the pool/grotto, zoo, basketball/tennis courts, game room, and so on – and it’s really just a lot more expansive than you might think. There’s also an area to sweat the games, although I can’t stress enough how few people actually watch. I think I watched maybe five pitches the whole day, which worked out in my favor given that I scored roughly the same number of points.

I mostly hung out in the zoo looking at birds and monkeys and stuff – there are like 300 monkeys, no lie – but I also lost a lot of money in beer pong and lost to Condia playing pool. Big day for me. Really big day. I feel like Condia is still a mystery to a lot of people, but I’ve been able to hang out with him a bit in San Diego and now LA, and I really like him and think he’s a great guy.

If you’re wondering if Hef ever comes out, the answer is no, but I can tell you it’s weird af knowing the guy is just chilling inside. What’s he doing in there? Does he just nap a lot? Is he still having sex? I swear I saw him look out once, but it was probably just another 90-year-old man in a robe.

After the event, we had an afterparty back at our bungalow. Beckmann asked every girl at the Mansion if they wanted to come back for a pizza party, which he said would work because “it’s innocent and fun.” Girls did indeed come back to the bungalow, although I’m not sure if it was because they were really hungry for pizza or because other people invited them to Chateau Marmont. We didn’t even have any fucking pizza, although someone ordered 100 tacos. I ate roughly half of them.

tl;dr The Playboy Mansion is fun. I highly recommend it.

A List of My Favorite Books

I get around three or four emails/tweets each week asking me for book recommendations. I love reading books; they’re piled up all over my house.

Most of my books are in containers in the basement. I should probably just give the books away after I read them to let someone else enjoy them, but that wouldn’t fit with my hoarder personality. I gave my brother one of my old books for Christmas (lol a used book as a present) and felt so bad I got rid of a book that I bought a new copy of it. I didn’t read it again and I never will. BUT I NEED IT COLLECTING DUST IN MY APARTMENT FOR ME TO GO ON WITH MY LIFE.

Most of the book questions I get are related to daily fantasy sports, but I still give the same recommendations of non-DFS-specific books because 1) there aren’t really that many great daily fantasy sports books out there (I’m probably considered the authority in DFS books and I wrote the last one in 13 days – #humblebrag, nbd), and 2) I love the idea of taking concepts from one domain and applying them to another. If reading Taoism in my free time so I can formulate a better DFS tournament strategy is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

So here’s a list of books and authors I enjoy. These aren’t in any particular order, nor is it a cumulative list. I pretty much just walked around my apartment and wrote down some of the titles. I linked to the authors’ Amazon pages or the books themselves when applicable. I also jotted down a few quick thoughts on some of the books.


A Reading List for DFS Players If You Like Reading Things Not At All Related to Daily Fantasy Sports

Anything from Friedrich Nietzsche

I majored in philosophy, and Nietzsche was my favorite philosopher. My favorites are Beyond Good and Evil and The Gay Science, although I’ve read every word of his I can find, and it’s all good. I seriously can’t recommend Nietzsche enough. 

All Taoism

You’ll notice a lot of philosophy books on this list – especially Eastern concepts – as well as a lot of theoretical physics. I’m particularly interested in the intersection of the two. For a long time, I was reading like two or three theoretical physics books a week, so I’m pretty fucking qualified to talk about string cheese theory.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Everything from Paul Davies

I think Davies takes complex concepts from theoretical physics and, along with Michio Kaku (who you might have seen on TV), is the best at explaining them in a really easy-to-understand way. Einstein said something like “If you can’t explain your theory to a five-year old, then you don’t know it well enough.” That’s probably not even close to the actual quote, but you get the idea. My favorite Davies books are The Mind of God, Goldilocks Enigma, God & the New Physics, and About Time. 

Michio Kaku’s Books

The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow

I think this is a really good beginner book on randomness.

Pragmatism Old & New

Stuff from Malcom Gladwell (David and Goliath, Outliers, The Tipping Point, Blink)

Great By Choice by Jim Collins

This is actually the book I’m currently reading. Actually, I’ve read like three pages. But it’s sitting on my coffee table and I hear it’s good.

Adventures of Ideas by Alfred North Whitehead

Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger

This might seem like it doesn’t belong, but I’m pretty fascinated with Arnold and his ridiculously wide range of successes. 

Before the Beginning by Martin Rees

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Greene has a number of other really interesting books, including Mastery and The Art of Seduction.

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

How to Think About Weird Things by Theodore Schick

This was actually written by my freshman seminar professor, and he’s pretty much the reason I majored in philosophy.

The Success Equation by Michael Mauboussin

Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely

I’ve used a lot of the concepts from these books in how we market FantasyLabs, especially when it comes to pricing (specifically the idea that people have no idea what something is worth in a vacuum – only what it should be worth in relation to something else). 

Linchpin by Seth Godin

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Anything from Nassim Nicholas Taleb

I’ve talked about Taleb and antifragility ad nauseam in my books, so no need to explain more here. Except for that sentence and this one explaining it. 

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Quiet by Susan Cain

Rock Breaks Scissors by Williams Poundstone

The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene

Nudge by Richard Thaler

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

This is one of a few books that helped shape my views on marketing, which I think are probably a lot more unconventional than most people realize.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban

A wonderful book written by my friend Mark


There are so many other books I could list here. No matter what your goals, I think the most efficient (and fun) path to achieve them is to just start reading things written by people smarter than yourself, take what you’ve learned (no matter the subject), and apply the core principles in a creative way.

Daoist Time and Cosmology in Light of Modern Physics

I told you guys this blog would be a weird-ass collection of content, and I’m not going to disappoint.

Earlier today, I read an article about how Elon Musk believes it’s overwhelmingly likely we don’t live in a “real” base universe, but rather we’re part of a simulation. I mentioned on Twitter how I wrote a college paper on this topic, which I find incredibly interesting.



A few people asked me to post that paper here, but I’m pretty sure the digital copy is long gone. I couldn’t find it in my email history – my school email no longer exists – but while searching, I did find another paper I wrote (I think my junior year). This one is about the intersection of time/cosmology in Taoism and modern physics. (Note: I stopped spelling Taoism with a ‘D’ after college…not really sure why or which one is correct, if any.)

I talk a lot about James Altucher’s “idea sex” and how the best insights come from fusing two seemingly unrelated fields, and the Eastern philosophy/physics hybrid is a popular one that’s also perhaps my favorite.

I fully expect just one person to read this article in its entirety: me. Also, some of my views have changed – and I hope I’ve become a better writer since I wrote this years ago – but I do still believe in most of the fundamental ideas. It’s worth noting I tried to tackle like five major concepts in this paper, each of which could be their own book, and I did it in one of the least entertaining ways imaginable. Enjoy!


Daoist Time and Cosmology in Light of Modern Physics

The nature of time is such that it cannot escape paradox. It is absolute, yet relative, and impermanent, yet unchanging. Its relation to our universe is also riddled with contradictions. In studying Daoist philosophy, it appears as though the concept of the Dao can help us better understand both time and its place in the universe. In turn, modern physics lends credibility to the claims Daoism has emphasized for thousands of years.

In this paper, I will try to provide an account of this holistic relationship between Daoism and physics. I will first explain how the compatibility of permanence and impermanence that characterizes the Dao can also be extended to time through Planck units, and, on a more cosmological scale, the multiverse: a timeless “sea” of continuous universe formation in which all potential universes are realized. I will then show how Everything and Nothing are interdependent, and, in a sense, the same thing. This idea will liken the multiverse to the Daoist “void,” with both concepts equating to the potential for time and existence. After explaining how the Daoist texts are best interpreted as advocating a beginning-less, yet non-eternal, Dao, I will show how a Hartle-Hawking universe fits well with these qualities. Finally, I will argue that the popular conception of the Dao as cyclical is mistaken. The affirmation of a Dao with no beginning or end can be justified without it being eternal or cyclical if the Dao is understood as a concept that can simultaneously hold “opposite” values.

Thus, the Dao, just like time, is inherently paradoxical. It is impermanent, yet never changes. It has no beginning, yet is not eternal. It is Everything, yet does not even exist.


Daoist thought, unlike much Western philosophy, dismisses the notion of true opposite values. Those qualities we generally view as “opposites” actually complement one another. Artificiality, for example, is not a distinct characteristic that is inherently opposed to naturalness, but a contrasting quality that supports, and even allows for, naturalness. What would it mean to say everything is artificial if we had no conception of what is natural? From section two of the Daodejing:

The difficult and the easy complement each other; the long and the short off-set each other; the high and the low incline towards each other; before and after follow each other.

To grasp any of these qualities, you must understand the other. The rejection of a distinct dichotomy also creates a range of contrast. A cell phone is not inherently artificial, but only more or less so than something else. Thus, “opposing” qualities take on a pluralistic characteristic: not absolute, yet not radically relativistic, as the ‘absoluteness’ comes with the implementation of a ‘relative’ perspective. This allows for the concurrent existence of contrasting qualities without a logical contradiction.

Permanence and impermanence hold this complementary, interdependent relationship. The two can not only exist together, but, because they are not diametrically opposed, also support one another. The first passage of the Daodejing illustrates the paradoxical nature of the Dao as it relates to permanence. It reads “The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way.” The Dao is a concept that is often thought of as being permanent, so how can the Dao be both constant and changing?

To illustrate how this can be, imagine the life of a tree. It may start as nothing more than an acorn, yet ultimately transforms into a massive living structure. Although the fully-developed tree has none of the original material that was contained in the acorn, there is something that links the two. The tree has some sort of enduring identity, even though it is a process of constant transformation. In fact, the permanence that gives the tree its identity can be conceptualized from the phrase “constant transformation.” If the tree is truly always changing, then the change is a permanent quality of the process. Analogously, if the Dao is always transforming, then it is a permanent Dao. Not only can the permanence and impermanence of the Dao be maintained without a contradiction, but each quality is a necessary condition for the existence and flourishing of the other.


The complementary relationship between permanence and impermanence that Daoism emphasizes is really only just being discovered by modern science. Instead of drawing the proverbial “black and white” conclusions of old, contemporary physics is so much based on the “gray” area in which contrasting qualities come into play.

One component of physics that may support the Daoist permanence/impermanence complementary relationship is Planck time. Planck time is an incredibly small unit of time (roughly 5.4 x 10^-44 sec) at which physics literally breaks down. At this point, thought of as the smallest possible unit of time (even theoretically), physics and time become meaningless (Kaku, 237). Nonetheless, the permanent flow of time is a seamless connection of finite lengths of time. Whether the Planck time is truly the smallest possible unit of time is irrelevant. What is important is that the unchanging fluidity of time does seem to be composed of imperceptible, impermanent units.

The Lieh-tzu discusses this fluid transition from past to future:

The interval between the coming and the going is imperceptible; who is aware of it? Whatever a thing may be, its energy is not suddenly spent, its form does not suddenly decay.

The unchanging qualities of both time and objects is apparent, but perhaps misleading. We are aware of permanence because, as theLieh-tzu claims, we are just incapable of perceiving constant flux. Likewise, as the dissection of time into Planck units shows, the fluidity of time is simply the connection of constant transformations. Further, since each moment in time is simultaneously the end of one moment and the beginning of another, no moment in time is permanent, and, almost paradoxically, no single moment in time really even “exists.” Thus, the permanence of time’s fluidity arises because of these impermanent, almost non-existent units of time, and, in turn, time’s impermanence can only be understood through the permanent transformation of time.


It is easier to grasp the nature of the Dao upon a complete understanding of the continuity of permanence and impermanence. As Hans-Georg Moeller writes in Daoism Explained, “The specific elements of time are not permanent, while the permanent elements of time are not specific.” In a way, time itself could not even exist without this seemingly paradoxical relationship between the permanent and the specific, as the two qualities are interdependent.

The Daoist emphasis on contrasting qualities as complementary not only supports Planck time, but also physics from a more cosmological perspective. Interestingly, the majority of physicists today believe our universe is just one of many, having sprouted into existence from an infinite “multiverse” (Kaku). This multiverse is very similar to the Dao: it is permanent and exists without time, yet is not confined to either characteristic, as impermanence and temporality arise in the “baby univserses” that sprout from it. In this way, permanence and impermanence are maintained, as new universes come and go within an unchanging, timeless framework.

One might contend that the Daoist texts state that existence came from non-existence, or a void, which would seem to be opposed to a multiverse. For example, the Lieh-tzu claims “that which gives birth is unborn,” “When Nothing stirs, it begets not nothing but something,” and finally, “The nothingness from which we came is our true home.”

If the multiverse is something, can it also be Nothing? I argue yes, as, again, the nature of Daoist “opposite” values allows for their simultaneous existence. Because the multiverse is a true infinite, it is everything. Everything happens within it, and, importantly, it is not the place where these things happen (as it does not exist at a distinct location), but it is the happening itself. All possible universes continuously spring into and out of existence. However, if everything happens all of the time, is this not the same as nothing? Just as you cannot have artificiality without naturalness, you also cannot have Nothing without Everything. Nothing and Everything necessitate one another. If the multiverse is characterized by infinite creation, then it must also be equivalent to Nothing. How can nothingness exist if Everything does? Because the Everything is the Nothing, and the Nothing is composed of Everything (in much the same way that time retains permanent and changing qualities). To describe the nature of the multiverse in a Moeller-inspired phrase: The specific elements of the multiverse (or Dao) are not permanent, while the permanent nature of the multiverse (Dao) is not specific.


The interdependency and possible equalization of Everything and Nothing may also be the solution to the contradictions of set theory, the branch of mathematics dealing with the logic of sets. Various philosophers and mathematicians have found paradoxes within set theory, nearly all dealing with the inconsistencies of a self-containing infinite set. Imagine a set of things which does not contain itself, such as the set of all computers. If we then take all of these non-self-containing sets and put them into an ultimate “set of sets” which do not contain themselves, a contradiction arises. Does this ultimate set contain itself? If it does not contain itself, then it cannot be considered a full set. If it does contain itself, however, then it is not a set which does not contain itself. The set of all sets which do not contain themselves, then, seems to be inherently impossible (Russell).

Like the set of all sets, the multiverse, if it is Everything (and not just every existing thing), must contain the set of all non-existing universes (analogous to the set of all sets which do not contain themselves). The paradox here is obvious; the multiverse, a set of all existence, cannot possibly contain a non-existing universe if it is simply Everything. To contain non-existence, a true infinite (or set of all sets, or multiverse, or Dao) would have to be both Everything and Nothing. In viewing the multiverse in this way, the paradox of the set of all non-self-containing sets vanishes, as the Nothingness which is the multiverse allows for non-existence, while the quality of Everything which embodies the multiverse arises from the set of all existing universes that spring forth from it. The multiverse avoids the self-referentiality of non-self-containing sets because, when viewed as a “void of Nothing,” the multiverse is simply the potential for the set of Everything, not a set itself. The paradox of the “existence” of non-existence can only be solved if this is the case.


Viewing the multiverse as simultaneously being Everything and Nothing also fits well with the Daoist texts. The Lieh-tzu says:

Will the Way end? At bottom it has had no beginning. Will there never be more of it? At bottom it does not exist. Whatever is born reverts to being unborn, whatever has shape reverts to being shapeless. . . That which is born. . . must come to an end.

The Dao exists yet also does not exist. In a similar way, the multiverse is Everything, yet also nothingness. Furthermore, not only are these two qualities compatible, but it is because the multiverse is Everything that is must also be Nothing.

Like the Way, the multiverse will never end because it never began. However, neither is eternal because neither exists in time. Both the multiverse and Dao are atemporal. The Dao retains permanence through constant change, a process that takes place in time, but the permanence of this process is non-specific, and thus escapes time’s limitations. Likewise, the multiverse is the source of time, yet is itself not limited by time. The multiverse, like the Dao, escapes time by metaphorically embracing time’s impermanent nature. Again, the multiverse is not a place where change takes place, but the unchanging process of constant alteration itself.

To further emphasize how the multiverse can, like the Dao, be Everything and Nothing and exist and not exist simultaneously, let us return to the tree metaphor. The entire tree grows from a bundle of potential: the acorn. Is the tree the same thing as the acorn? As I have discussed, yes and no; the potential for a tree exists in the acorn, but not the full-grown tree itself. The acorn is analogous to the multiverse because of this potentiality. Inside the acorn, the tree “exists” and does not exist simultaneously, its existence occurring in sheer potentiality, its non-existence arising because it is not yet actualized. While this metaphor is limited by the fact that the acorn is an actualized entity, the premise remains; the acorn, whether actualized or not, contains the tree’s existence and non-existence within it, just as the multiverse is simultaneously Everything and Nothing. The acorn has everything needed to develop into a tree, yet, because the acorn contains only “tree potential,” it is also, in a sense, nothing. The nothingness of the multiverse, like the acorn, comes in its potentiality. Further, the acorn (impermanence) and tree (permanence) support one another because, as the tree develops, it creates more indeterminate acorns that will lead to more determinate trees. Likewise, the permanence of the multiverse and Dao is caused by the constant transformation they undergo, and this change is supported by the unchanging nothingness, the sheer potential, that characterize them. All three concepts, the multiverse, Dao, and acorn, then, are holistic and self-supporting.

The process of indeterminacy, or nothingness, producing determinacy is discussed in the Lieh-tzu:

There was Primal Simplicity, there was Primal Commencement, there were Primal Beginnings, and there was a Primal Material. The Primal Simplicity preceded the appearance of the breath. The Primal Commencement was the beginning of the breath. The Primal Beginnings were the breath beginning to assume shape. The Primal Material was the breath when it began to assume substance. Breath, shape and substance were complete, but things were not yet separated from each other; hence the name “Confusion.” “Confusion means that the myriad things were confounded and not yet separated from each other.

Interestingly, the details of this passage contain striking similarities to the way our own universe may have arisen. The Primal Simplicity, equivalent to potentiality, preceded the birth of the universe, and is thus analogous to the multiverse. The Primal Commencement, Beginnings, and Material were then congealed into a state of indeterminate “Confusion.” This “Confusion” is similar to the relationship our own physical laws had just after the birth of the universe. At a time of just one Planck unit after our universe was born, the four fundamental forces that govern our cosmos were muddled together into one indeterminate superforce. Thus, the Primal Simplicity, “Confusion,” and separation of the myriad things are comparable to the multiverse, superforce, and separation of the four fundamental laws of physics.

Notice that the Lieh-tzu account of Primal Simplicity does not stress a beginning in time. The initial ‘void’ and succeeding “Confusion” are what the Lieh-tzu emphasizes, not a distinct moment of creation. It appears, then, that the text may be arguing for a universe that emerged from a “beginning-less beginning,” where it sprouted into existence, yet not at a definite moment in time.


If the multiverse and Dao truly are without a beginning, inevitably, two questions arise: Is the universe eternal, and is it cyclical? There seems to be some evidence that our universe could be without a beginning, yet not eternal. It comes in the form of a Hartle-Hawking universe in which, at the “beginning” of the universe (when the myriad things were in a state of “Confusion” and the laws of physics were congealed together), the time dimension fades away. Instead of originating from a definite point in time, a Hartle-Hawking universe comes from a boundless, timeless state of indeterminacy (Hawking, Penrose, 86). Conceiving of the beginning of our universe, then, is as futile as pointing out the “edge” of the surface of a sphere. The surface of a sphere is boundless, yet not infinite, in much the same way that a Hartle-Hawking universe is boundless, yet not eternal.

While our own universe can maintain a timeless “beginning” without being eternal, so can the Dao. As the Lieh-tzu says, “Everything that is born reverts to being unborn.” Nothing can escape death and change except the multiverse and Dao, as they were never “born.” Quite paradoxically, their “beginninglessness” and ability to escape time arise from the constant flow of time that characterizes their existence. Whether our universe escapes eternity through the Hartle-Hawking concept or from being part of the multiverse (or even a combination of both), the fact that it is indeed without a beginning, yet not eternal, makes it strikingly similar to the Dao.


The quality of being without a start in time that many scholars attribute to the Dao has led many to claim that it is cyclical. Section 52 of the Daodejing, for example, reads “Go back to holding fast to the mother, and to the end of your days you will not meet with danger.” In The Philosophy of the Daodejing, Hans-Georg Moeller argues that this passage indicates both time and the Dao are cyclical. He says, “That it is possible to return to the beginning implies that time is understood as a circle.” I argue, however, that this interpretation is flawed. Even if time were cyclical, the ability to return to the “beginning” would prove impossible, as a cyclical existence suggests no ultimate beginning. Cycles of birth and death can certainly arise, so “returning” within these cycles is possible, but they do not necessitate the Dao or time being cyclical.

Further, current research in physics suggests that our own universe is not cyclical. The expansion of the universe appears to be speeding up exponentially. Physicists are nearly unanimous in agreeing that the universe will “end” in a “Big Freeze in which, because there is not enough matter to reverse the expansion, the universal temperature will approach absolute zero (Kaku, 20).

Unlike scholars such as Moeller, however, I argue that this evidence does not contradict the nature of time and the Dao in the Daoism. The rejection of an absolute end of time that a cyclical universe implies does fit well with the texts. Section 14 of the Daodejing, when speaking of the Dao, says “Go up to it and you will not see its head; follow behind it and you will not see its rear.” While this passage could be interpreted as an implication of the Dao being cyclical, it does not necessitate a cyclical Dao. You cannot view the beginning or end of a cycle because there are none, but there are also no beginning or end to a flow of time that exists within a timeless framework. The implementation of a cycle implies that the Dao is part of time. As I showed earlier, however, the texts are probably best interpreted as advocating a Dao that is outside of time, yet still part of it. This way, the Dao can govern the natural cycles that occur within it, yet still retain permanence. The fact that our universe will end in a “Big Freeze” also lends support to the notion that time does not have to be cyclical for there to not be an ultimate end. The universe will never truly “end” because the universal temperature will only approach absolute zero, never reach it.


I liken Daoist time to the numbers between (but not including) zero and one. If one represents the “beginning” of time with the smallest number of the set and the “end” with the largest, then both beginning and end will hold paradoxical properties. Neither exists because there is no smallest or largest number, yet both must exist or else we could never reach the number one (or attain the seamlessness of time). The set of numbers, then, is boundless but not a true infinite, just as time is boundless, yet not eternal. The impermanence of the amount of numbers in the set does nothing to affect the permanent relationship between zero and one. This phenomenon is analogous to Planck time, with the connection of impermanent, almost non-existent segments creating an unchanging fluidity.

Ultimately, the similarities between Daoist time and modern physics are analogous to the Dao itself: self-explanatory, paradoxical concepts marked by the concurrent existence of interdependent “opposite” properties, meaning we can implement physics to reaffirm basic Daoist tenets, and, in typical Daoist fashion, vice versa.



Works Cited

Graham, A.C. (Translated). The Book of Lieh-tzu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.

Hawking, Stephen and Penrose, Roger. The Nature of Space and Time. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds. New York: Random House, 2005.

Lau, D.C. (Translated). Tao Te Ching. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1996.

Moeller, Hans-Georg. Daoism Explained. Chicago: Open Court, 2004.

Moeller, Hans-Georg. The Philosophy of the Daodejing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Russell, Bertrand. Principles of Mathematics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1903.


What It’s Like to Work in Daily Fantasy Sports

The title of this post should probably be something like “What It’s Like to Only Occasionally See Other Humans” or “What It’s Like Eating Cart Food for the Seventh Consecutive Day.” The answer to both of those would be “it’s amazing,” by the way.

I chose “What It’s Like to Work in Daily Fantasy Sports” because…I work in daily fantasy sports…but in reality I’d think my day-to-day is much different from someone who works for DraftKings or FanDuel or something. I imagine working for a big company like that is pretty similar to working for any other company – marketing people have meetings about marketing, developers develop things, you know – with maybe a cool startup vibe or something that makes coming to work a little more fun.

I run a startup, too, but everyone except for the developers at FantasyLabs works remotely. That means my work environment – my apartment – is less “there’s pizza and beer in the break room” and more “I found an old pizza crust under my bed.” Basically, this post is more about what it’s like to work from home, I guess, than to work in DFS.

There are others in daily fantasy sports who work from home, too – professional players and full-time employees of sites like FantasyLabs (although there aren’t too many of either of those jobs floating around). I think the perception of what it’s like to either play DFS as a professional or to run a company like FantasyLabs is probably way off from reality, so I wanted to just sort of run through what a typical day is like.

It’s more or less just this sort of stuff – all day, every day, without the need to do any actual work…


Look how fun I just made my life look. Now here’s where I am almost all the time…

The life of someone who works in DFS – or at least for me – is like the life of any entrepreneur who works from home. You work. A lot. Some of it is really fun. Some of it isn’t that fun. Some of it occurs in an actual office. Most of it happens in bed. They say not to work in bed; I don’t know if it’s because I’m just fucked up, but I must be 3x more productive in that bed literally laying down flat with my laptop on my stomach as compared to anywhere else in the world.

This is a tangent, but isn’t it crazy how the internet has changed so much? Imagine just laying down for 12 straight hours (after sleeping in the same spot for nine hours) without internet. OH MY GOD that would be terrible. But with internet, it’s like I don’t even recognize that I’m just wasting my life away in bed. It’s sensational.


Typical Day

Occasionally my life is decent with things like travel and sporting events and stuff, but usually I’m at home. Business Insider shadowed me for a day and that story was pretty accurate for what it was, except it was a Sunday during NFL season. There are like 20 of those all year, or less than 6% of my life. I was also watching the games with my friends, which happens basically only during football season because I really don’t sweat DFS.

So the things the average DFS player might think my life is like – exciting, not much work, and watching tons of sports – are pretty much the exact opposite of what’s really going on. Most of my days look something like this:

8am: Wake up, turn over to pick up my laptop, and start working. I almost always start by answering emails, which might take 30 minutes or so. I try not to check in on emails throughout the day too much, instead just answering them again at night. Getting caught up in that email back-and-forth can just be really draining and inefficient.

Then I go downstairs and drink coffee. I drink a lot of coffee because, duh, it gives me energy and makes me more productive. I also eat at that time, and although I feel like it’s cliche to say at this point, it’s almost always a breakfast sandwich (lately either McDonalds or 7-11, both of which I can see from my apartment). After that, I come back up to bed, lay down like a fat piece of shit, and get back to work.

9am: I almost always do the most difficult tasks in the beginning of the day. I think trying to save things that are really mentally challenging – like writing – for the end of the day is just a recipe for disaster. It’s like doing a bunch of cardio and moderate lifting all day, then trying to do a heavy bench press or squat at the end of the workout. I typically do this “intense” work until around noon.

11am: I take Bowie outside to pee and shit. Bowie is my cousin and roommate who has trouble going to the bathroom indoors. Just kidding. Bowie – you guessed it – is a dog. If you think 11am is late to take a dog out for the first time, you’d be right, but he straight up will not go outside in the morning. He’s tired, guys. He’s the only living thing on this planet with an easier life than mine, but he’s tired.

Also at this time, I order food for the day on GrubHub. Current favorite is curry, both Indian and Thai.

12pm: From noon until maybe 12:15 or so, I take a mental break. This usually involves something like watching this highlight video of Tavon Austin, which is so weird because I think he’s a super overrated player (he might not be if he were used more as a true running back). Sometimes I watch a similar sort of energizing video in the morning, too, if I need energy.

Related to this – and something many people might not know about me – is that I am hyper-competitive to the point that it has become a problem in my life in the past. No one wants to play board games or anything with me because I get so angry if I lose, particularly if I lose to someone who plays like a donkey. But that extends into real life and my work, and so part of watching videos is me getting motivated to just win every day. I really, really want to be successful – with my primary focus now being FantasyLabs – to the point that I think about beating everyone else, like, all day long. Most of why I work so hard I think just stems from insecurity about losing.

I think because I’m very shy in person, people think I’m maybe timid in business or just generally not competitive, but I really can’t stress enough how much of my life is driven by this need to win.

1pm: This is the time around when I might normally work out. I’ve been trying to work out more lately – maybe four times per week – and my workouts are short (typically 35-45 min). I was thinking of explaining what I do here, but that might be a cool post on its own that I could do soon.

145pm: You’d think this might be a good time for a shower, but I usually just like to get back to working on FantasyLabs because if there’s one thing I know about working from home, it’s that general hygiene is for suckers. You might ask what the hell I am doing all day, and the answer is sort of everything: I work with marketing, development, content, support – everything that makes the site run. Every day is different in that way; yesterday I had calls with ESPN and an agent for a PGA golfer, the day before that I was creating a plan for our NFL product, and today I’m working on specs for a new Vegas dashboard we’re creating.

230pm: FantasyLabs has three primary Skype calls every two weeks, and they are during this time. I might do an additional five or so calls with guys from different departments each week, for various reasons. If I’m not on a call, this time is spent working on miscellaneous tasks.

5pm: Since it is MLB season, I usually start to do the bulk of my research around 5pm, which is about 120 minutes prior to lock. Ideally I could spend more time on it – and I definitely do research throughout the day, periodically – but I just don’t really have that luxury anymore. I’ve also streamlined my research process so much that I don’t really feel like I need that much time to create profitable lineups. I might make like 5% more with an additional couple hours, but I’d almost certainly be losing EV by not working on FantasyLabs.

7pm: After lineup lock, I try to finish up the day’s work. This might be following up with our employees about their projects, Skype chatting with the developers, or whatever. This entire concept of working with a team is extremely new to me and something I’m really trying to learn to do a lot better. I’ve literally always worked on my own, and so delegating responsibility and leading a team is not currently a strength of mine, but it will be soon.

8pm: After work, I typically go out to eat for dinner. For anyone who lives in the Philly area, some of my favorite places are Heritage, Butcher & Singer, Sampan, Root (just opened in Fishtown…might be the best on this list), Barclay Prime, Same Same, Circles, Abe Fisher, Buddakan, and Barbuzzo.

10pm: I barely watch TV, but shows I do watch around this time include Shark Tank, Real World, The Bachelor, Billions, Million Dollar Listing…the classics.

11pm: Sleep, usually for about nine hours. Sleep is so important in my life and I think is maybe the most overlooked aspect of success. If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in any aspect of life, I’d say sleeping and working out more are the two most valuable things you can do to get back on track.

So that’s basically my life when I’m at home – not really that action-packed and lots of work, but it gives me the freedom to do whatever I want at any time and to never have to follow the rules, which is something I crave.