Reading

Here’s a list of books that I’ve been reading. I’ll try to keep this updated as I go, send me an email if you think of one I might enjoy based on what you see below!

Queued: on my Amazon wishlist.


October 2019

  • The Happy Runner: Love the Process, Get Faster, Run Longer NOTES: easy to breeze through book with a lot of soft advice on how to be a better runner. Quotes:
    • Page 78: Research “…. showed that being within a 25 square foot radius of a high performer boosted performance in coworkers by 15 percent. On the flipside, being within a 25 square foot radius of a ‘toxic’ performer dropped performance in coworkers by 30 percent… task oriented enthusiasm makes everyone better. Performance gains did not persist if the high performer left.
      Theoretically, if the gains were due to better productivity or technical skills, they should persist or even improve independent of the long-term presence of the high performer. Minor himself concluded that these gains were likely the result of inspiration and purpose.”
  • Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations NOTES: lots of quotes to write down… coming soon.
  • Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life NOTES: Would not read again, likely will never re-read. Quotes:
    • Page 15: “The curse is not that Tantalus spends all eternity reaching for things just out of reach, but rather his obliviousness to the greater folly of his actions. Tantalus’s curse was his blindness to the fact he didn’t need those things in the first place… We are compelled to reach for things we supposedly need but really don’t. We don’t need to check our email right this second or need to see the latest trending news, no matter how much we feel we must.”
    • Page 24: “Most people don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that distraction is always an unhealthy esape from reality. How we deal with uncomfortable internal triggers determines whether we pursue healthful acts of traction or self-defeating distractions… For some people, the escape comes from checking social media, spending more time in the office, watching television, or, in some cases, drinking or taking hard drugs.”
    • Page 43: “… I learned to stay focused on the tedious work of writing books by finding the mystery in my work. I write to answer interesting questions and discover novel solutions to old problems. To use a popular aphorism, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”… The great thinkers and tinkerers of history made their discoveries because they were obsessed with the intoxicating draw of discovery — the mystery that pulls us in because we want to know more.”
    • On a seemingly unrelated topic but useful to remember, page 175: “How does a team or a company create physiological safety? Edmondson provides a three step answer in her talk: 1) Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem. Because the future is uncertain, emphasize that we’ve got to have everyones brains and voices in the game. 2) Acknowledge your own fallibility. Managers need to let people know that nobody has all the answers – we’re in this together. 3) Finally, leaders must model curiosity and ask lots of questions.”

September 2019

  • George Marshall: Defender of the Republic NOTES: Really enjoyed this book and learning more about George Marshall, his successes and his failures. Quotes:
    • Story on page 20/21: “To the contrary, Pershing – who was not offended by constructive criticism – was impressed. For Marshall’s career this turned out to be a pivotal encounter. His courage in speaking truth to power caused Pershing to confer even more power and authority on him.”
    • Page 42, on strategy: “The Meuse-Argonnne offensive was designed to strike at a key point that would result in the destruction of the entire German supply system on the Wester Front and thus end the war. The vital point – the strategic hinge – was a railroad net in and near the city of Sedan on the Meuse River that connected the two main rail routes essential to Germany’s ability to supply its armies.” Emphasis mine, need to read more about the Meuse-Argonnne offensive sometime..
    • “As listed in a letter Marshall wrote in November 1920, they [qualities he would look for in promoting officers to lead troops] include common sense, physical strength, marked energy, determination, and cheerful optimism… Marshall valued character over intellect, conservatism over flamboyance, and the loyal team player over the adventurous individualist. He avoided yes-men and conformists, preferring those who, like Pershing and himself, were unafraid to express dissent and open to criticism without taking offense.” . Emphasis mine.
    • Page 84: “Marshall’s intention from the moment he drove through the gates at Fort Benning was to revamp the curriculum and the techniques of teaching. However, to head off knee-jerk opposition and passive resistance, he began gradually, starting with the formation of a committee to assess and rethink the entire program of instruction. Without issuing edicts or orders, Marshall led but did not force the committee’s deliberations and recommendations. His leadership emanated from lessons he learned in the Great War, his infrequent but carefully chosen suggestions, and his commanding presence. Slowly a consensus around a few guiding principles emerged. The next war would be a war of movement – offensive maneuver – supported by tanks and airplanes… officers must be free to innovate and improvise, to use their imagination and think on their feet… Above all, speed of thought and speed of action will be essential to success.” Feels like I’m reading about John Boyd and Good Strategy / Bad Strategy now.
    • Page 121: Interaction with Roosevelt: “The president was unusually direct. “General Marshall, I have it in mind to choose you as the next Chief of Staff of the United States Army. What do you think about that?” Instead of expressing his gratitude, Marshall cooly replied, “Nothing, except to remind you that I have the habit of saying exactly what I think… Is that all right?” Roosevelt simply said, “Yes,” and flashed a genial smile. “You said ‘yes’ pleasantly,” rejoined Marshall, “but it may be unpleasant.” … the president’s decision most likely was based on his judgment, and his alone, that he could trust Marshall to remain loyal to his command in chief, to follow orders once a decision was made, and to be discreet.”
    • Page 127: “Marshall’s job was to transform his tiny, ill-equipped army of 188,000 officers and men into a formidable force capable of defending the Western Hemisphere against attack and, if necessary, bringing the fight to enemies overseas.
      He had to do this in the face of an American public overwhelmingly opposed to another war, an election year Congress dominated by isolationists, a noninterventionist secretary of war, and a cautious commander in chief partial to the navy and airpower.” Isolationism is back in 2019.
    • Page 157: Story about his idea to create a “biennial report… under his name that would lay out fact-based arguments for extending service terms beyond one year.”, which totally backfired because of his “hard-to-follow prose” and the fact that his report did “… not explain why the ‘national interest’ was any more imperiled in July 1941 than it had been a year earlier.” Later, on page 159, “While the dry sentences in Marshall’s Biennial Report were not particularly persuasive, his personal encounters with congressmen in public hearings and off-the-record sessions during the next several days began to change minds. Whether it was an ornate Senate chamber, a private club, or an office somewhere in Washington, when Marshall entered the room politicians from both sides of the aisle believed they were in the presence of a formidable individual in complete command of the facts and situation. Attired in a conservative business suit rather than his uniform, he spoke quietly yet forcefully, projecting an image of cool professionalism. With patience and courtesy, he answered their questions. They treated him with respect, believing him to be devoid of personal ambition, partisanship, or guile.”
    • Page 195: Eisenhower and Marshall, in discussions about the Pacific: “Your problem, he concluded, is “what should be our general line of action?” By that he meant, “Where do we draw the line and fight? And do we abandon our men in the Philippines?” Eisenhower hesitated for a moment. “Give me a few hours.” He was back that afternoon with his thoughts set forth in a three-page typewritten paper, which he kept in his pocket because he had been told Marshall expected briefings to be conducted without notes. In essence, Eisenhower asserted that the line should be drawn along the air and sea lanes from the West Coast of the US to Australia, which should serve as the launching pad for future counteroffensive against Japan.
      As to the Philippines, it would be a long time before reinforcements could get through, predicted Eisenhower, longer than MacArthur’s garrison could hold out. Nevertheless, he told Marshall that beacuse millions of people under the grip of the Japanese will be watching, we must do what we can. “They may excuse failure but they will not excuse abandonment.” Marshall agreed. “Do your best to save them.” As Eisenhower turned to leave, Marshall said, “Eisenhower, the Department is filled with men who analyze their problems well but feel compelled always to bring them to me for final solution. I must have assistants who will solve their own problems and tell me later what they have done. The Philippines are your responsibility.” Eisenhower remembered that when Marshall said this he had an “eye that seemed to me awfully cold.” Damn.
    • Page 295: “The afternoon after learning that Eisenhower would command OVERLORD, Marshall drafted in his own hand, and the next day the president signed the following handwritten message to Stalin: ‘The immediate appointment of General Eisenhower to command of OVERLORD operation has been decided upon.’ With his customary thoughtfulness Marshall had the original retrieved from the message center. At the bottom he wrote: “Dear Eisenhower: I thought you might like to have this as a memento.
      It was written very hurriedly by me as the final meeting broke up yesterday, the presidgned signing it immediately. G.C.M” . The note is emblematic of Marshall’s magnanimous style of leadership, Eisenhower later called it “one of the most cherished mementos of World War II.”
    • Page 341-342: “Marshall thought this was nonsense, not to mention the idea of trying to send a military force across the Julian Alps by way of the Ljubljana Gap. In a 1956 interview he said that “if we had accepted the Balkan thing, it would have scattered our shots. They are letting political considerations after the fact dominate the whole concept. My idea was that we should defeat the Germany army. Keep the main thing.
    • Page 421, on how he worked with Acheson: “As to the nature of their professional relationship, Marshall said that he expected complete and even brutal candor from Acheson. And that he “… had no feelings, except those which I reserve for Mrs. Marshall.”
    • More on guiding principles, page 437: “It took three weeks, not two, for Kennan to complete the initial draft of his plan – really an outline of a plan – for European recovery. The objective, he wrote, was not to combat and defeat Communism, but to restore the economic health and vigor of European society. To achieve this goal the US would furnish financial and other assistance, provided the European recipients agreed to abide by two fundamental principles: first, the initiative for assistance must come from Europe, the program must be evolved in Europe, and the Europeans must bear the basic responsibility for it and second, the request for US support must come as a joint request, not as a series of isolated and individual appeals. This requirement for joint action was a small but critically important first step toward the integration of Western European economies. The objective and two guiding principles of Kennan’s outline, known as PPS-1, formed key underpinnings of what emerged as the Marshall Plan.”
    • Page 442, more on the Marshall Plan and a reiteration of the guiding principles: “… the meat of his short speech incorporated Kennan’s two guiding principles. “It would be neither fitting nor efficacious,” he said. “for our Government to draw up unilaterally a program to place Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans.” The initiative must come from them. Second, Marshall had made it clear that “there must be some agreement among the countries of Europe” as to the nature and amount of assistance they require. “The program should be a joint one, agreed to by a number, if not all European nations.” When Marshall reached the end of his prepared speech and some in the crowd rose to applaud, he removed his glasses, leaned forward on the lectern and reached into his breast pocket. He drew out a piece of paper that contained a few scribbled closing remarks. It was a final plea, for him a heartfelt request that his countrymen set aside the passions and prejudices that lead to selfish nationalism, and face up to the real significance of the situation. The “whole world of the future” he concluded, “hangs on the proper judgement by the American people. It is they who must decide, “What is needed? What can be best be done? What must be done?”
    • Page 578: on the Korean War and morale: “On January 10, 1951, probably the low point of the Korean War for Marshall and the Truman administration, MacArthur sent a cable to Washington that, in the words of the joint chiefs’ historian James Schnabel, “produced profound dismay.” It was cleverly written, but in essence it was an argument in opposition to orders by the administration requiring MacArthur’s UN troops to find and hold a line in Korean while the diplomats broker a political settlement. The only viable choices, claimed MacArcthur, were either evacuation of UN forces from the peninsula, which he knew was a non-starter, or an all-out war with Red China, obviously his preferred choice. To ask his “tired” troops to hold a line in Korea and “trade life” for an undefined political policy, was “untenable”, he argued. “Their morale will become a serious threat to battle efficiency.”…. Acheson recalled that when Marshall read the sentence in the cable about poor morale “he remarked to Dean Rusk that when a general complains of the morale of his troops, the time has come to look into his own.” . Emphasis mine.
    • Page 599, some reflections on speeches he gave later in life about the Marshall plan… one paragraph stuck with me: “…Marshall’s lecture touched on one important point, not picked up in press reports, that resonates today. “American has a built-in advantage in our quest for peace,” he said. Immigrants “now constitute an organic portion of our populate.” As a consequence, he argued, American have acquired a “concern for the problems of other peoples,” a “deep urge to help the oppressed,” and a “readiness to cooperate” with other nations in preserving peace. This cooperative attitude, declared Marshall, “is one of the great and hopeful factors of the world today.” Wish this was still true.
    • Last page: “Few individuals in American history have thrown a longer shadow over world events than George Marshall. Yet as his shadow wanes, the depth of his moral character endures. It has been said that “if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” By quieting his shortcomings, General George Marshall surely passed the test.

August 2019

July 2019

  • Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd NOTES: one of my favorite subjects, this book took awhile to read and repeats themes again and again… Quotes:
    • Page 9: “Strategy thus provides the conceptual link between action and effect and between instrument and objective. It is an idea. Strategy is a plan of action designed in order to achieve some end; a purpose together with a system of measures for its accomplishment. Andre Beaufre captured the interactive nature, the dueling character of strategy behavior when he states that strategy is the art of the dialectic of two opposing wills using force to resolve their dispute. A recently posited definition emphasizes the dynamic nature of this process, and of strategy, stating that strategy is a process, a constant adaptation to shifting conditions and circumstances in a world where chance, uncertainty and ambiguity dominate, a view that is very much in line with Boyd’s idea.”
    • Page 28, on what Boyd read: “Even a casual reading of his main presentation, Patterns of Conflict, will suffice to convey the impressedion that Boyd was influenced directly by various strategic theories and his study of military history and moreover, that his ideas bear close resemblance to those of a variety of authors. His study covered every known strategist from Sun Tzu, Genghis Khan and the Mongols,
  • Search and Rescue: A Wilderness Doctor’s Life-and-Death Tales of Risk and Reward NOTES: in an alternative life, I’m an ER doctor volunteering with the Crag Rats like this guy. Worth noting that having a super demanding ER job and volunteering with an organization that regularly calls you out at all hours probably makes it really hard to be a supportive and present spouse. Quotes:
    • Page 68: “For summer trail rescues, I carry a lightweight pack. Everyone has a slightly different version of their ready pack. I carry a long-sleeve polyester shirt, medium-weight jacket, work gloves, medical gloves, radio, two headlamps, extra batteries, Mount Hood and Columbia Gorge maps, a roll of tape, GPS, and a small survival kit. I carry personal rope-rescue gear, which includes a helmet, goggle, 20 meters x 7 mm rope, three locking carabiners, three prussik cords, a belay device, a 10-meter length of webbing, and a personal harness. I also have a bottle of water and a few energy bars stocked in my pack.”
    • Page 117: “Luckily a pathway for success and safety can help us mitigate risk in mountain rescues, and this pathway works for almost any stressful situation. The pathway is: 1) recognize the situation, 2) take a time out, 3) prioritize, 4) use a checklist, 5) divide up the tasks.”
    • Page 119: “In fact, I use time-outs in every facet of my life. When I grew up we had a family dinner every Sunday night that my dad called ‘A meeting of the family corporation,’ to recap the week and plan the next. I still carry on this tradition by having a Sunday night dinner with my daughters and keeping a notebook of ‘minutes’ each week. Mostly we talk about difficult situations at school, the next week’s schedule, and upcoming travel adventures, which is my favorite part.”
    • Page 120: Really liked the Coast Guard / GAR model for risk: “… When faced with a difficult mission, every member of a response team assigned to a mission rates risk in six categories on a scale of 0 to 10: 0 being no risk, and 10 being extreme risk. The rating is done in confidence, because the supervisor is often responsible for the first three categories and subordinates can often be reluctant to criticize their superior. The subjects are: 1) supervision: is the supervisor well qualified, focused, engaged and impartial? 2) planning: are the preparation and plan adequate? 3) team selection: are members skilled for the job? 4) team fitness: are members physically and mentally ready? 5) environment: are the weather, terrain, and sea conditions safe or manageable? 6) event / evolution complexity: is the allotted time and complexity of the task reasonable? Once each member has rated the six categories, he or she adds up the numbers, the sum of which will range from 0 to 60, and plats the score based on 3 colors. A score of less than 24 is green, low risk. A score of 24 to 44 is amber, moderate risk. A score of 44 or more is red or high risk.
    • Page 169: “… Mount Defiance. At an elevation of 5,010 feet, it’s the tallest peak in the gorge. Because the peak is only a few miles as the crow flies from the Columbia River, elevation 150 feet, the twin trails – Mount Defiance, 5 miles to the summit, and Starvation Creek, 7 miles – are among the steepest you’ll find anywhere. Many mountaineers use them as training hikes to get in shape for climbing.”

June 2019

  • Gamer Nation: The Rise of Modern Gaming and the Compulsion to Play Again NOTES: great counter-balance book to Steven Johnson’s book about technology / games. Quotes:
    • “Any rational parent knows that saying yes to all of your child’s demands produces terrible results in the long term. You need to cause your child short-term suffering every day, in many facets of their lives. You drive them to school despite their teas, deny them a much-craved third episode of a television show, and fail to fully appreciate the importance of a concert or event, nixing attending due to the cost or energy (and time) required to satisfy it…”
    • Page 70, on time that’s spent in front of a monitor: “In 2016, American who play games report playing them an average of 2.41 hours a day (men) and 1.85 hours a day (women)…Television watching comes in at 3.45 hours and ‘computer use for leisure, excluding games’, totals 1.51 hours… The categories affected most by the increase in gaming are socializing, reading, and arts and entertainment.”
    • Page 84-85: “Games in general, and video games in particular, are a massive economic force in the modern American economy, but they have an even greater impact on our increasingly narrow slivers of free time. Games are not like an expensive car, that, when bought, represents the end of a major time investment (choosing the model, etc..). Games represent an active and ongoing use of our time, and because of this, it’s not sensible to ask if games are ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ or if they impact children and adults in ways that are aggressively negative or positive, because playing a game, or watching a gaming YouTube video, or reading a message about about cheat codes and technical game strategies, remove the time spent on activity from our use forever. The question isn’t a black or white ‘Are we playing too many games?’ The question should be, ‘Because we are playing so many games, what are we not doing in the meantime, and is this a long term benefit or harm?’
    • Page 98: “Third years ago, before the advent of the internet, Stolle would have been playing poker with his friends or trying to find a date or tinkering hi his garage with a lathe or motorcycle or reading a book or listening to the radio. It’s not that video games are themselves, generally noneducational; it’s that highly immersive, reductive time sinks such as video games limit growth by closing off other avenues of deeper enlightenment.”
    • Page 180: “On a more down-to-earth level, surveys indicate that the vast majority of humans are happiest when they have ea full and diverse life, not one obsessively focused on games. Again, there are edge cases – people who are willing and happy to spend 10 hours a day playing Call of Duty and don’t care about anything else they are missing out on, or professional poker players who eat, sleep, and think about nothing but poker. These are the extremes. For the rest of us, too much game playing isn’t healthy.”
    • Page 193: “McGonigal is yet another in a seemingly endless series of B-list celebrities or authors who achieved fame by sturdy application of the ‘but actually’ trope. You know the one: hey do you think exercise makes you live longer? I bet you do… but it actually doesn’t (at this point in the article or speech one rat study is city, all contradictory evidence is ignored, and the speaker breezily continues with the apparently contrarian point that everyone is happy to embrace). She’s doing that same sort of thing but pushes it to absurdly grand extremes. You think playing games is bad? I bet you do… but it actually isn’t, in fact more people should play games since games will change the world.” This after a paragraph or two about how gamification is going to change the world.
    • Page 208, story about John Jacobsen: What John represents is the positive, beneficial, and even ennobling power of video games, which are able to expand the mind’s attention toward the real world, rather than limit it through an obsessive inward and virtual focus. John’s love of games has expanded his community of friends and contracts throughput the country and extended his understanding in fields as eclectic as music, electronic board repair, and graphic design — in short enriched his life in ways powerfully fulfilling. The key to John’s positive relationship to games is that he is, in a word, active. Games are not ma method of passively passing the time or escaping into distraction; games are a gateway to active involvement with other people, other hobbies and interests. If all gamers the world over were as active as John, I would be writing a very different book.”
    • Page 228: The short-term pleasures of gaming are difficult to compare to the negative long-term effects of dropping out of the job market, not pushing for a better job, or failing to search for work as hard as one might. Gaming is an immediately enjoyable but empty pleasure; figuring out how to get a better job is difficult but might have significant and meaingful long term value. I find it hard to imagine that any mature man will look back on a five year slice of his twenties during which he was living with his parents and spending the majority of his time playing video games and consider it a positive experience. Yes, it might have been fun at the time but it also represnts a complete dereliction of responsibility. It’s putting off the inevitable. You can’t live with your parents your whole life. You can’t get a less depressing and higher paying job by not engaging with the real world. You can’t meet real friends, go on trips, or find the love of your life by sitting at home playing video games. Doing so winnows away the possibilities for a dynamic life, stripping them down to the most basic level: the game.”
    • Page 238: “… The ultimate goal of the attention economy is to capture your attention and keep it for as long as possible, and if this involves addiction in some form (minor or major)… that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s cowardly to let companies who embrace this as their business model off the hook for their attempt to capture and retain your attention, pulling you away from your family, the external world, and harming your wellbeing. Taking offense is the correct response; anger’s even better if you can manage it. It’s a game that’s being played in your brain for control of your brain, and very few people are aware of the psychological warfare that occurs every time they turn on a smart phone.”

May 2019

  • Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World NOTES: great book with concrete steps to accomplish the goals he laid out. I deleted Instagram from the phone, blocked the websites that I kept refreshing, turned off calls and notifications (except for favorite contacts) and even after a couple days I feel better about my relationship with my phone. I’m working on putting a seasonal and weekly leisure plan in place. Quotes:
    • “… Long before Henry David Thoreau exclaimed ‘simplicity, simplicity, simplicity’, Marcus Aurelius asked ‘You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life?’… Because digital minimalists spend so much less time connected than their peers, it’s easy to think of their lifestyle as extreme, but the minimalists would argue that this perception is backward: what’s extreme is how much time everyone else spends staring at their screens.”
    • “When Bill Maher joked that the App Store was coming for our souls, he was actually onto something. As Socrates explained to Phaedrus in Plato’s famous chariot metaphor, our soul can be understood as a chariot driver struggling to rein two horses, one representing our better nature and the other our baser impulses. When we increasingly cede autonomy to the digital, we energize the latter horse and make the chariot driver’s struggle to steer increasingly difficult — a diminishing of our soul’s authority.”
    • “Digital minimalism: A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”
    • The principles of digital minimalism: 1) Clutter is costly: digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation. 2) Optimization is important: digital minimalists believe that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only the first step. To truly extract its full potential benefit, it’s necessary to think carefully about how they’ll use the technology. 3) Intentionality is satisfying: digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies. This source of satisfaction is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the biggest reasons that minimalism tends to be immensely meaningful to its practitioners.”
    • “You can enjoy solitude in a crowded coffee shop, on a subway car, or, as President Lincoln discovered at his cottage, while sharing your lawn with two companies of Union soldiers, so long as your mind is left to grapple only with its own thoughts. On the other hand, solitude can be banished in even the quietest setting if you allow input from other minds to intrude… Solitude requires you to move past reacting to information created by other people and focus instead on your own thoughts and experiences — wherever you happen to be.”
    • “… Writing a letter to yourself is an excellent mechanism for generating … solitude. It not only frees you from outside inputs but also provides a conceptual scaffolding on which to sort and organize your thinking… Dwight Eisenhower leveraged a ‘practice of thinking by writing’ throughout his career to make sense of complicated decisions and tame intense emotions. He was not the only leader to deploy this habit… Abraham Lincoln had a habit of recording thoughts on scraps of paper that he would stick in his hat for safekeeping.”
    • On coffee shop hours, walking hours, office hours: “I’ve also seen people deploy daily walks for this purpose. Steve Jobs was famous for his long strolls around the tree-lined Silicon Valley neighborhood where he lived. If you were in his inner circle, you could expect invitations to join him for what was sure to be an intense conversation. Ironically for the inventor of the iPhone, Jobs was not the type of person who would be interested in maintaining important relationships through ongoing drips of digital pings.”
    • On reclaiming leisure: 1) prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption. 2) Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world. 3) Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions.
    • On leisure plans: “A good seasonal plan contains two different types of items: objectives and habits that you intend to honor in the upcoming season. The objectives describe specific goals you hop to accomplish, with accompanying strategies for how you will accomplish them. The habits describe behavior rules you hope to stick with throughout the season.”
    • On slow news consumption: “… if you’re interested in commentary on political and cultural issues, this experience is almost always enhanced by also seeking out he best arguments against your preferred position.”
  • Lost Person Behavior: A search and rescue guide on where to look – for land, air and water NOTES: …
  • Meditations: A New Translation NOTES: …
  • The Art of Fielding: A Novel NOTES: read it while camping by myself on the Deschutes river. Good escape if you like baseball…. quote: “That was what made the story epic: the player, the hero, had to suffer mightily en route to his final triumph. Swchartz knew that people loved to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense. Everybody suffered. The key was to choose the form of your suffering. Most people couldn’t do this alone; they needed a coach. A good coach made you suffer in a way that suited you. A bad coach made everyone suffer in the same way, and so was more like a torturer.”
  • Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World NOTES: …

April 2019

  • Ueli Steck: My Life in Climbing (Legends and Lore) NOTES: he lived an absurdly adventured filled life in a short time. Quote: “… This is what most people don’t understand about Ueli. The way to achieve one’s dreams is by working constantly to bring them about. His ability to focus on and examine the relationship between alpinism and daily life is not only honorable, it is something to emulate.”

January 2019

  • In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business NOTES: Probably was / could have been a long essay.
    • “… dissent stimulates thought that is more divergent and less biased. Dissent motivates us to seek more information and to consider alternatives than we would otherwise, spurring us to contemplate the cons as well as the pros of various positions.”
    • “We do know something about the process of good decision-making. On balance, a good process leads to a good decision. Good decision-making, at its heart, is divergent thinking. When we think divergently, we think in multiple directions, seek information and consider facts on all sides of the issue, and thinking about the cons as well as the pros. Bad decision-making is the reverse. Thinking conversantly, we focus more narrowly, usually in one direction. We seek information and consider facts that support an initial preference. We tend not to consider the cons of the position, no do we look at alternative ways of interpreting the facts.”
    • “… Another form of liberation is to be less afraid to think differently from others. Whether or not you decide to express it, you don’t want to lose the ability to ‘know what you know’. Nor do you want to fall prey to the self brainwashing that often accompanies consensus and a need to belong. Cults know the power of self-brainwashing all too well. So do abusive individuals. There is liberation in recognizing the source of their power as well as your own.”
    • On dissent: “… Once you express a position different from the majority’s, the queries start. The bodies turn to face you. You are asked numerous questions on why you take such a position. Your questioners imply that you are wrong simply because your position is in the minority. You are under attack. Bear in mind, however, that there is a positive side to this. During this grilling, you have the floor, at least until they cut you off. This provides an opportunity to argue your position since you are the focus of attention and communication.”
    • On compromise: “… It was the late compromise condition that it both ways — both public and private attitude change. When a dissenter compromised at the last minute, he did two things. He appeared consistent and, at the same time, flexible enough to achieve an agreement. He did not change his position. He simply offered a concession. As a result, he achieved both outcomes.”
    • On consensus: “There is a reason why organizations like Jim Jone’s Peoples Temple create and maintain consensus. There is a reason why cultlike organizations cultivate consensus and reject dissent ‘like a virus’, as described in popular books such as Built to Last… majority opinion has a forceful impact on gaining agreement, especially when there is consensus.”
    • On polarization: which is “… one of the most powerful and widely research phenomena in social psychology. Here is the basic finding: when people share a leaning in a certain direction and they discuss their views, they become more extreme in that direction. There direction, or ‘pole’, could be a ‘guilty’ or a ‘not guilty’ verdict, it could be advocacy for or against making a merger; it could be liking or disliking Americans. It could be an inclination to invade the Bay of Pigs.”
    • On decision making: “… instead of debating only the one plan, they followed a new decision-making approach that called for exploring options. For instance, someone suggested an alternative to invasion — a naval blockade to force the Soviets to remote the missiles. Other changes in the decision-making process process reportedly included JFK’s instructions to his brother Bobby to lead a thorough deliberation of the two alternatives. The discussions were frank, and no one chaired the meeting. The advisers separated into two groups, and each wrote a position paper favoring one of the alternatives. Then they swapped papers. They dissented; they criticized the alternatives. Only then were the position papers presented to the president… Kennedy asked each member to be a skeptical generalist. He had learned not to be a directed leader.”
    • “The underlying message of this book is twofold. Consensus, while comforting and harmonious as well as efficient, often leads us to make bad decisions. Dissent, while often annoying, is precisely the challenge that we need to reassess our own views and make better choices. It helps us consider alternatives and generate creative solutions. Dissent is a liberator.”

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