Have committed to read:
Time to be better informed and to try to understand better.
I read an article this week that really struck me in describing the current times. It was entitled The Weaponization of Feeling ‘Unsafe’ and it struck me as very true. We are in an era where ‘The new McCarthyism requires that everyone bow to demands of “victims.”’ People expect everyone else to bow down to their opinions and affirm their beliefs and nobody is entitled to hold a different viewpoint or opinion. I have to think about this further.
And then there was this article called Why Men Don’t Have Friends and Why Women Should Care which caught my eye. I think there is a huge amount of truth in this. I’ve had two friends move out of town/state this past year and I’m still processing the loss.
I just finished the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by Epstein and I have to say this is a book the resonates deeply with me. I like to think of myself as someone who reads widely and is interested in lots of things: “a reader of much and an expert on nothing” and this book exactly talks about this idea. It just resonated with me and I recommend it.
Finally, I was talking with a friend this afternoon who told me about a recent family wedding weekend where the family nearly broke into fist fights. One family member had to step in and tell those who were feuding that the weekend was about the wedding party, not them and they needed to cut it out. I know of another dear family where there is conflict and one family member is spreading hatred and false narratives about another family member. Such huge hurt for some. Why do we do this to each other? Why does family do this to family? Really, why does anyone do this to anyone?
Be kind, for you do not know what battle others are fighting. Here is an idea, decide to be kind and gracious and give the benefit of the doubt. Life is short.
I seem to love three genres of reading and one of them is science non-fiction for laymen, i.e. for non-experts in the field. I’ve been struck by several amazing books in the past year or two and I’ve mentioned a couple of them before. However, I wanted to do this post to pull together a good list of amazing books to check out.
The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli is a book that unravels the nature of time as we currently understand it. Ideas such that there is a smallest ‘tick’ of time, i.e. time is not continuous as we might think, and the faulty view of thinking about events happening simultaneously were just amazing. The question of wondering what is happening in the Andromeda galaxy right now is nonsensical. This is one of only a handful of books that after finishing it on Audible, I started it over immediately and listened to it again.
The Order of Time caused me to immediately follow with another of Rovelli’s books, Reality is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Rovelli again. Another fascinating and very understandable journey through some amazing ideas.
I’ve posted about The Information: A History, a Theory a Flood by James Gleick is a wonderful review of the development of information theory which covers networking, communications, codes and computing. I’ve gone through this two or three times.
I’m currently listening to Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder. This book is challenging some foundational ideas that I’ve believed in for years. I’m not done with this one yet, but I’m thinking there are some critical ideas here about security and the future of computing.
And finally, Scale, The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life, in Organisms, Cities, Economies and Companies by Geoffrey West. I’ve recommended this one to several and then some of those people have come back to me to discuss this they have further recommended it to their circles. I’ve been through this one twice too.
If you have any you’d recommend along these lines, please let me know.
I’m currently flying through The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact on Audible by Heath and Heath. It is perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking book I’ve read in quite a while on business or organizational (or personal) excellence. It is full of examples and ideas that could be applied in all kinds of situations: schools, churches, organizations and even in your personal life as you interact with others. Highly recommended. Likely to go through it again.
Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Hansen is a Christian view on not taking offense, forgiving and just being humble.
We humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims and rewriting narratives that put us in the center of injustices… And we can repaint our anger or hatred of someone—say, anyone who threatens us—into a righteous-looking work of art. And yet, remarkably, in Jesus’ teaching, there is no allowance for “Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk, then yeah—you need to be offended.” We’re flat-out told to forgive, even—especially!—the very stuff that’s understandably maddening and legitimately offensive.
Forfeiting our right to anger makes us deny ourselves, and makes us others-centered. When we start living this way, it changes everything.
In this age of everyone taking offense at everyone else and as the author says, “Everybody’s an idiot but me. I’m awesome” we need to be more patient, tolerant, understanding and forgiving. Much to process in this book and I will likely go through it a 2nd time shortly. Thanks SL for the recommendation.
And I listened to the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis again. Amazing.
Currently working through The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World by David Deutsch but at 20 hours on Audible, it will take a while…
Also appreciate recommendations from any of you. Best wishes.
I’ve read two interesting books lately which I wanted to highlight here.
First, The Power by Alderman which is an amazing fictional story about a shift happening in girls and spreading to adult women where they have a power or capability to physically overpower boys and men. Without going into the detail or revealing more, it is about what happens in society when ‘power’ shifts from men to women. It is a very thought-provoking story as it touches on many different ideas and thoughts.
The second is Death with Interruptions by Saramago which is a tale about ‘death’ deciding to stop at the beginning of the year and those who should die, don’t. Day after day, in this one country the dying do not die. It is a story about what happens in society when those who really should reach the end, no longer die. The aged and hurt simply don’t die and the hospitals and homes fill up with people who are still alive. Aging still happens. There is much social upheaval and implications as a result and it is a fascinating story. Eventually, the person ‘death’ is introduced in the story and we start hearing ‘her’ story as she interacts with people in this country. Fascinating.
I listened to both on Audible. Recommended.
And here are some interesting things I’ve read in the past few weeks. These 1st two have really caused me to pause and think.
Why Everyone Should Lift Weights is the most thought-provoking post I’ve read in a while. Don’t let the weightlifting put you off, the post is about being stronger and revealing yourself to yourself and gaining self-confidence. The following gets to the heart of it:
Challenging your own body is the greatest method for discovering the strength of your mind. Nowhere is this more true than with strength training. There will be days when you don’t feel like coming into the gym. There will be sets that you don’t feel like finishing. There will be times when everyone else in the gym will see you fail.
And if you keep showing up anyway, then you’ll develop the mental fortitude to get past failure, work when you don’t feel like it, and discover what you’re really made of mentally and physically
Related, the article called The Equation That Will Make You Better At Everything I posted on Twitter a while back and it has been getting reposted afterward as people read it.
Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that.
And let me throw in one more bonus article on relationships that struck me. In The Subtle Art of Connecting with Anyone we find the following:
If you dig deep enough into questions about what it means to live a good life and how to create happiness and fulfillment, you’ll likely find yourself between a few different schools of thought, each with their own approach.
That said, in pretty much all schools, the idea that a complete life tends to be one filled with a number of high-quality relationships is pretty consistent.
In a way, happiness is other people. It’s the connections we build and the relationships we foster. They create us, and they continue to shape us.
If you are into Science Fiction, then I highly recommend the Audible series The Expeditionary Force by Craig Alderson. You need to listen on Audible. Trust me. Hilarious and fantastic. Did I say ‘trust me’ on this?
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.
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.