Recently worked through the book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think which was co-written by Hans Rosling. He is famous for several TED talks where he talks about many of the ideas in this book.
The book does a great job at making the very point of the title. Things are better than we think. In most metrics about health, poverty, violence, etc. the world is getting better. Yes, there are places and events and people that are worse off, but on the whole, the world is getting better.
The book further points out that media points out the negative, but says nothing about the positive, which we all know but don’t really think about very much. He does argue that this is our fault because we choose to focus on the negative and thus the media follows that direction.
I do recommend this book. I’ve thought about it a lot since reading it.
Here is a similar article that I came across today which prompted me to post this recommendation and here is a site with some interesting related ideas.
I find myself moving more and more towards the perspective that aspects of capitalism are broken. Pushing stock prices up no matter what the cost, the huge gap in compensation between the highest and lowest paid workers in an organization, the slanting of financial laws towards the rich, and the increasing fraction of our economy that is based on businesses that make nothing (Financial, Legal, etc.).
Three books that are worth a read about how this happens on a day-to-day basis in corporations and how people are quickly or slowly corrupted, or how their decisions slip down a very dark path.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Carreyrou is the latest about the fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes which is in the current news. I saw her speak once at a conference to a small group of IT CIOs. She was being interviewed by Meg Whitman who was running HP at the time. I’m not quite done with this book, but I can already highly recommend it. It is absolutely captivating in how morally bankrupt some people can be.
Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Holiday which is the story of Gawker and its business model and the work done to take it down.
And no such list would be complete without The Smartest Guys in the Room by McLean and Elkind about Enron and how that model worked. I lived through part of that story where the company I worked and friends in California lived through rolling power outages one summer that Enron employees were causing to happen.
I don’t know the answers (or probably some of the right questions) here. It just seems that aspects of our model and way of doing things are breaking down. Broken.
I’ve found myself reading much less lately and instead, listening to books and podcasts. The shift for me has been dramatic.
I listen while driving all the time and while running and working in the yard.
I don’t listen much when I’m at home, however. And I don’t read that much anymore. I don’t follow as many sites online these days either.
My first choice for books is now Audible. If not on Audible, then I’m unlikely to buy it. And, I always play the book at faster than normal, like 125% of real time.
I’m wondering if this is more of the Shallows effect.
What are you doing these days?
From the book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Schultz, the following quote to think about:
A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.
I just finished the book The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life by Travis Macy and if you are interested in endurance topics, not quitting, grit and pressing on through hard things, then this is the book for you. I’m a runner and I’ve done 4 marathons and just PR’d this past December in Dallas. I’m not fast at all and I know one of my weaknesses is my mental toughness. I’ve read a few books on the mental side of running and this one is by far the best. If you are interested in pressing on through hard things, then this book is highly recommended.
My current favorite podcast is The Knowledge Project: A Farnam Street Podcast which is full of interesting interviews with interesting people. Recommended. You should sign up for their email newsletter too.
My home state of Oklahoma has a dysfunctional legislature and executive branch. I heard one of our state legislators speak the other day about the most recent failure and she (a Republican) indicated that until we vote out people who are ideologues, nothing will improve. We need people who can think and compromise and move government forward in a constructive fashion. She took shots at the Republicans who wouldn’t raise taxes no matter what and she took shots at the Democrats who were willing to ‘let the state burn down’ in order to hopefully get more Democrats elected next time. We need to vote these people out. And, we need to know what our own legislators are voting and engage with them.
I saw this sign the other day while on a run. A friend suggested it was so the birds would know where to land. Another friend pointed out that this an example of our government dollars at work.