Reading – 2013

December 2013

  • Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys NOTES: Really enjoyed this book, highly recommended if you have a boy (or three boys like I do) in the family. Not sure that simple quotes will capture everything about this book, definitely feels like something I’ll want to read once every 2 years or so. Really great read in light of the book I just finished (see below) about Pat Tillman, who models a lot of what the book talked about as far as a well adjusted guy, albeit one who had his own share of issues, which he seemed to work through. A couple of quotes / stories:
    • In a chapter about fear and vulnerability and how it’s a positive thing with kids to admit to and talk about fear, the story of the day who was driving through the rainstorm with his son and said “… That was a little scary, wasn’t it?” And his son replied, “No, Dad, that was very scary.” The father said that instead of “You weren’t scared were you?”
    • In a chapter about mothers and sons, a quote that reminds me of my boys: “.. Anger, high activity, silence and physical risk taking are characteristecs of boys that women need to try to understand.
    • Same chapter, on a chapter about listening / girlfriends: “And so she maintained her calm through the years and the girlfriends, offering a reliably nonjudgemental response with only slight variations – never a cheering section, never a harsh judgment. She made it clear, though never in words, that the girlfriends I had were my choices, not hers and that if she was biased in her sentiments, she was simply in favor of me.
    • On a chapter about drinking and drugs: “For adolescent boys, any drinking is problem drinking. When boys drink, they almost always drink to excess. In fact, because they must be able to respond to the challenges of their drunks peers to “have another beer”, typically, anytime teenage boys use alcohol, they abuse it.”
    • Same chapter, same subject, a couple of paragraphs about how guys consider the times together getting hammered with guys to be their “war” stories, which in some ways makes me think that we (men) need something other than getting hammered as times that we can bond.
    • On boys and love lives: “It is the responsibility of people who raise boys to train them specifically to be good, empathic partners to girls and women. It can be done by fathers who model respect for women in the family and in the wider world, by mother who help sons understand a girl’s point of view, and by anyone in a boy’s life who helps him see his connectedness to others as a positive thing.
    • Last chapter, bunch of lessons / reminders about boys:
      • In boys the motivation for aggression is more “defensive” rather than offensive or predatory.
      • Boys are primed to see the world as a threatening place and to respond to that threat with aggression.
      • Boys often don’t know or won’t admit what it is that makes them angry.
    • In a paragraph about how boys see / perceived slights, “… rather than come up with what the researchers call “social competent responses” — talking about the problem and reaching a compromise or better understanding, for instance, they more likely to come up with hostile responses to the other child.
    • Quote: “As therapists, we know the deeper healing that “using words” can accomplish: even in small, inarticulate doses, talking about feelings releases emotional pressure and weakens the the grips of anger and hostility. If you can get a boy talking, it raises his anger to the conscious level, and once it becomes conscious, it loses some of its power.”
    • Seven points that have the potential to transform the way you nurture and protect the emotional life of the boy in your life:
      • “Give boys permission to have an internal life, approval for the full range of human emotions, and help in developing an emotional vocabulary so that they may better understand themselves and communicate more effectively with others.” An example of how to create and foster an environment for that: “In a family, anything that provides a ritual provides the possibility for emotional ‘safety’ because it is a familiar niche of time – a protected space – in which there is no pressure to perform, no pressure to measure up, and no threat of judgement. Many mothers tell us that they visit with their sons at bedtime, giving the familiar back rub or enjoying a chat about the day, especially in the early years before adolescence. Perhaps they prepare breakfast for their boys or share an interest in reading, music, sports, outdoor activities. Fathers tell us of doing yard work with their sons or going for haircuts, going bowling, bicycling or hiking, or building models. Mother or father, you might drive your son to soccer practice or stay for the baseball games; you might read the sports together in the morning or work puzzles on Sunday afternoon. If in that shared time together a parent communicates openness, acceptance and affection, the a boy learns these values of relationship.
      • Recognize and accept the high activity level of boys and give them safe places to express it.
      • Talk to boys in their language – in a way that honors their pride and their masculinity. Be direct with them: use them as consultants and problem solvers.
      • Teach boys that emotional courage is courage, and that courage and empathy are the sources of real strength in life.
      • Use discipline to build character and conscience, not enemies.
      • Model a manhoo of emotional attachment.
      • Teach boys that there are many ways to be a man.

November 2013

  • Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman NOTES: lots of interesting quotes in this one but man… I’m sure someone somewhere can find fault with this guy, but I can’t. He seems like he’s the epitome of a real man: tough yet sensitive, smart, dedicated, a thinker and a fighter. Good dude, would have loved to have shaken his hand.
    • “Who among mortal men are you, good friend? Since never before have I seen you in the fighting where men win glory, yet now you have come striding far out in front of all others in your great heart…” – Homer, The Iliad
    • Loved this quote from a book by Susan Neiman called Moral Clarity: “Earlier times may not have understood it any better than we do, but they weren’t as embarrassed to name it: the life force or spark thought close to divine. It is not. Instead, it’s something that makes those who have it fully human, and those who don’t look like sleep walkers… It isn’t enough to make someone heroic, but without it any hero will be forgotten. Rosseau called it force of soul; Arendt called it love of the world. It’s the foundation of eros; you may call it charisma. Is it a gift of the gods, or something that has to be earned? Watching such people, you will sense that it’s both: given like a perfect pitch, or grace, that no one can deserve or strive for, and captured like the greatest of prizes it is. Having it makes people think more, see more, feel more. More intensely, more keenly, more loudly if you like; but not more in the way of the gods. On the contrary, next to heroes like Odysseus and Penelope, the gods seem oddly flat. They are bigger, of course, and the live forever but their presence seems diminished… The gods of The Odyssey aren’t alive, just immortal; and with immortality most of the qualities we cherish become pointless. With nothing to risk, the gods need no courage.”
    • A quote from Pat Tillman on how he lived his life: “… I think you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone. If you’re kind of comfortable all the time — it’s like you’re skiing and you’re not falling, you’re not trying. I kind of want to push myself, a lot.”
    • Quote from a book by Francis Fukuyama on his idea of the “last man”: “…modern liberal democracies produced men composed entirely of desire and reason, clever at finding new ways to satisfy a host of petty wants through the calculation of long-term self-interest… It is not an accident that people in democratic societies are preoccupied with material gain and live in an economic world devoted to the myriad small needs of the body…”
    • Last page of the book… a quote from Krakauer: “In ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra‘, Nietzsche introduced the concept of the Übermensch: an exemplary, transcendent figure who is the polar opposite of ‘the last man’ or ‘men without chests.’ The Übermensch is virtuous, loyal, ambitious and outspoken, disdainful of religious dogma and suspicious of received wisdom, intensely engaged in the hurly burly of the real world. Above all, he is passionate – a connoisseur of both the ‘the highest joys’ and ‘the deepest sorrows.’ He believes in the moral imperative to defend (with his life, if necessary) ideals such as truth, beauty, honor and justice. He is self assured. He is a risk taker. He regards suffering as salutary, and scorns the path of least resistance.”
  • Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 NOTES: got this since the movie is coming out soon, didn’t dog ear any pages because there wasn’t much to bookmark but man what a story.

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

  • The Vast Unknown: America’s First Ascent of Everest NOTES: enjoyed this book, as much every other climbing book I’ve read. Bunch of quotes:
    • “Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why he wanted to climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.” — President John F. Kennedy
    • Fascinating chapter / paragraph that described one of the assumptions made by a sociologist (Dick Emerson) on the team: “… our motivational investment in a task varies directly with our degree of uncertainty about the outcome. This means that either prolonged optimism (a form of certainty) or prolonged pessimism (also a form of certainty) tend to reduce one’s motivational investment in the task. If the climbers felt certain they would reach Everest’s summit, for instance, then they would have little motivation to expend energy toward that goal. Likewise, if they felt certain that they would not reach the summit, they would experience a similar lack of motivation. If you knew the outcome, one way or the other, why bother trying?” And then a second paragraph: “The second part of Emerson’s theory was that information exchanged tends to maximize uncertainty. When things begin to look easy and a member of the group expresses optimism (‘This is a piece of cake, no problem!’), other people tend to counter with pessimism, in the form of negative or tempering feedback.”
    • A quote to back up the above theory: “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not know what comes next.” — Ursula K Le Guin
  • American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History NOTES: Amazon has really high reviews for this book, most likely a combination of a) Chris Kyle did accomplish amazing things as a SEAL and b) he was murdered on US soil recently. I will never know what he actually went through or the pressures that that guys like him and the rest of the military are under, but I couldn’t help but feel my stomach turning while reading the book. A number of times in the book he said (as many SEAL’s do) that they do it all for the team and everything stays quiet, but then he’d go off and tell another story about what he did. Second thing that bugged me was his insistence (it seemed to me) on describing the goals of the military in Iraq as being solely to kill as many of the “insurgents” as possible, which, assuming you’re able to perfectly identify each and every insurgent, sounds in theory like a good goal but after reading some of the books below, killing as many people that are against you as possible just doesn’t sound like a war that you’re going to win. If that was the actual goal, then he’d be the perfect guy for the job
  • Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of al Qa’ida since 9/11 NOTES: very interesting and nuanced book, especially as compared to the American Sniper book (see above). Was and am struck by some of the parallels between the way Muslims represent themselves in the Middle East and Christians in the US. A couple quotes:
    • “… According to an FBI profile of their recruitment strategy, Derwish and Dosari would develop a friendship with each individual and identify his interests, emotional state, strengths and weaknesses. They then repeated a common theme: Muslims are being persecuted across the globe and ‘true’ Muslims fight for their faith.”
    • Describing the transformation that Adam Gadahn went through: “… the conditions approximated the isolation and harsh environment of an extremist training camp, which promote team building, physical fitness and indoctrination…. The factors of radicalization… include a belief in the need to defend Islam from perceived aggression from the West, influence from a spiritual leader, influence from a radicalized family member, and attending overseas training.”
    • On the internet and how it’s used by terrorists: “… People radicalize via other people. The internet is an accelerator.”
    • Final chapter on prevention: “Today, no US government agency has the lead role in countering al Qaida’s ideology, a task that is shared by the State Department, Defense Department, CIA and other organizations. Ultimately it is the National Security Council’s responsibility to appoint a lead agency and hold it responsible… These three steps — utilizing a light footprint strategy (ie: special forces rather than lots of boots on the ground), improving the effectiveness of regimes in countries threatened by al Quaida, and exploiting al Quaida’s tendency to kill civilians — would help ensure that no fourth wave (the author described three waves of attacks over the previous 10 years) occurs. One of the most important battlefields will be on the Internet, since the struggle against al Quaida and its allies remains in part a battle of ideas.
  • The Education of a Coach NOTES: Super fast read about Bill Belichick, up to 2006. I’ve been a fan of what I’ve read about his philosophy of “team” since 2004 and of the way he’s managed. A couple quotes:
    • “… the key to success: it was in being organized; the more organized you were at all times, the more you knew at every minute what you were doing and why you were doing it, less time you wasted and the better a coach you were.”
    • “… There had been an attitude among all too many players, he had decided, that I’m just a starter, I own my job, and you can’t bench me or even rotate me. In every sense that went against Belichick’s concept of what a real team was like; on a real team, the kind of team he intended to create, the more senior, more experienced players enforced the coach’s concept of team by setting a certain example, working harder at practice and in the weight room than anyone else.”
  • Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy NOTES: Man, this book makes you rethink your priorities a bit. We’ve been doing our best to keep the house stocked with books that our sons can read and I think it’s working, they enjoy sticking their noses in books for hours on end. Couple of interesting things about the book I want to remember:
    • Hiring practices: they really have built an interesting organization, a NGO that kicks ass, they looked for the following things when hiring people: a) passion about what they doing, b) some kind of corporate experience (ie: they wanted people that knew how to get results and / or had worked in an environment where measured results were all that mattered), c) work ethic, which he said was hard to look for while interviewing.
    • Once a decision had been made, they had a policy of “no looking back….Don’t tell us all the reasons this might not work. Tell us all the ways it could work.
    • Loved the idea of the “No Land Rovers” policy.
    • They had advisors that early on encouraged them to gather feedback, be it positive or negative, about what they were building / doing. “Speak truth to power”. They did the same thing with the leadership team, doing anonymous 360 reviews.
    • GSD culture: “… So, yes, we can see the problems. We can talk about the problems until we’re blue in the face. But you don’t get a prize for identifying obstacles. The question is what are we going to do about it? What is our solution?”
    • Loved the analogy about rocket launches and NASA: “… It’s important to remember something about how a rocket reaches Mars. When that thing blasts off the launching pad, the NASA engineers are watching everything that is happening down to the fifth or sixth figure to the right of the decimal point. They know that if the rocket is off course by one ten thousandth of 1 percent during the first ten seconds, it will miss Mars by several million miles. But within a few minutes they are high fiving, as long as they can see that the outcome thus far is 99.9999 percent of what was expected.” Point: the initial trajectory that you set out to accomplish is pretty important.
    • On his transition from CEO to fund raiser: “.. Hedgehog Concept. Basically it says that if you wan tto find your role, you should look at three things. First, what are you uniquely good at? Second, what are you passionate about? And third, what drives the resource energy for your organization?”

July 2013

  • Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really Is NOTES: I forget where I saw this book mentioned / talked about but the title is a perfect description of what I do on a daily basis these days. Some good nuggets / quotes:
    • On understanding problems: “If you can’t think of at least three things that might be wrong with your understanding of the problem, you don’t understand the problem.”
    • On understanding the “meaning” behind a problem statement: play the word game with “Mary had a little lamb.”
    • On solving problems: “Don’t solve other people’s problems when they can solve them perfectly well themselves.”
    • On solving problems: “If a person is in a position to do something about a problem, but doesn’t have the problem, then do something so that he does.”
    • “The fish is always the last to see the water.” — reminds me of the DFW commencement speech.
  • Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion NOTES: great read, bookmarked the heck out of it. Choice pull quotes:
    • … rhetoric teaches us to argue without anger.
    • “… the most productive arguments use the future tense, the language of choices and decisions.” Have already tried using this with my kids, who habitually go to past tense (“… I didn’t do it!” or “.. I was just trying to …”) when all I really care about is the future (don’t do it again!). Story he used to illustrate this talks about using concession (ie: no toothpaste in the bathroom, he asks his son what happened to the toothpaste and his son replies “That’s not the point, is it, Dad? The point is how we’re going to keep this from happening again.”) Same page, different context, if someone says they don’t like your idea, reply with “ok, let’s tweak it!”, which is a concession but also gets them on your train, which is your whole point to begin with.
    • On arguing and couples: Gottman’s research into married couples showed that those who last know how to argue and that they ‘argue’ as much as couples who don’t end up staying together, it’s just that those couples fight instead of arguing. The big difference is that the couples that stay together argue for a common goal, they’re looking for a solution to a problem.
    • … three goals for persuading people, in order of increasing difficulty: stimulate your audience’s emotions, change its opinion, get it to act.
    • On deciding what the ‘issue’ is, remember that there are three core issues: blame (who moved my cheese?, in the past), values (should abortion be legal?, in the present, tribal), choice (should we build an office in Portland?, in the future). If an argument is going poorly, consider changing the tense… or at least figuring out what the tense is. WD-40 for arguments: “what should we do about it?” and “how can we keep it from happening again?”
    • The tools of persuasion: ethos (who you are, character, make them like you by showing off your experience, bending the rules or appearing to take the middle course), pathos (feelings, changing someone’s mood, best done via telling stories, speak simply… ) and logos (logic: arguing for what is advantageous / what is ‘best’, figure out what your audience believes, start from their position, not yours, use ‘commonplaces’…, labeling [term changing, redefinition, definition jujitsu, definition judo] and framing[commonplace words, use the broadest context, deal with the specific problem in the future tense])
    • On fallacies: 1) does the proof hold up? 2) am I given the right number of choices? 3) does the proof lead to the conclusion?
    • Whole chapter devoted to the medium / “kairos”: how and when do you argue or attempt to persuade? Do you pounce on your manager at 9:30am on Monday morning after she’s been on vacation for a week? Probably not the best time if you really want something done. Need to think about email, phone, voicemail, video, etc…
    • On giving persuasive talks: Cicero’s five canons of persuasion: invention, arrangement (ethos [establish who you are], logos [say what the facts are], pathos), style (use the language of the audience, don’t be all Harvard if you’re talking in Southie) , memory and delivery (body language, voice, breathing, etc.. SINGLE BEST THING you can do to improve delivery: “speak louder”)
    • Single best thing you can say to your boss: “what do you need?”…. second thing: thank people in writing.
    • Loved the last chapter on America and how the country is split on values (present) but doesn’t talk about choices (future).
  • Passion and Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders NOTES: a collection of stories by a bunch of “leaders” of this generation. Some interesting stories, nothing earth shattering or especially awesome. Some good stuff:
    • Global Citizen Year (website): super cool idea to have students spend a year abroad working in a developing country before starting college. This is brilliant, would have LOVED to have done this before starting school. Related stats: fewer than 9% of anglophone Americans develop fluency in another language (compared to 54% of our European peers) and just 1% study abroad.
    • On learning, a quote from Seth Godin: what the word “doing” means: “.. picking up the phone, making the plan, signing the deal. Pushing ‘publish’. Announcing. Shipping.”
    • On teaching leadership, three themes that leaders should cultivate in their own lives: 1) discover your holistic self (ie: understand who you are, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at). Encourages leaders to get into a small, confidential groups to share thoughts, get feedback, and learn about who they are, this group eventually becoming somewhat of a mentoring / personal board of directors. I really would like this kind of guidance into my own life. 2) develop the ability to “structure success”, by which the author means that even the most charismatic leader at some point needs to step back and analyze his / her organization to figure out the structure of the organization, the alignment of talent in the organization and “… one must be a good listener — discerning needs versus wants, observing flaws in systems and acting to leave a sustainable structure that remains independent of the leader.” 3) Developing collective mentorship: “… a collective mentorship model is one in which each individual in the organization is encouraged to build a personal board of advisors, have a mentor and mentee, and cultivate strong professional peer networks.
    • Last chapter in the book, some really interesting stuff that encourages us to think long term, more than the next “big thing” or easy way to make cash, which I’m sure is getting harder and harder… you have to hit each quarter, you only have a couple years in office, etc… Thinking long term is going to be / is one of the big challenges for people right now. It’s encouraging to hear someone say that we should think in other ways. Ending quote on that subject: “… don’t get too impatient with yourself. There’s something about the Facebook Generation that because things start and end in three minutes, you might believe that all the answers to all of these questions also have to start and end in three minutes, and that they will all get done in some super-rapid cycle in which everything is getting done. The speeding up of the world doesn’t mean that everything in your life can be sped up the same way. Have the capacity to be patient, to be committed to the long term, to be able to devote years of energy into something, as opposed to just minutes.”

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

  • Games without Rules: The Often-Interrupted History of Afghanistan NOTES: easy read, great introduction to the last couple hundred years of Afghanistan. A couple of interesting quotes / tidbits:
    • On Osama, al Qaeda and Osama’s fatwa: “… would have been a good moment for US policy makers to step back and develop a broader view of the problem. They might have studied what Jihadism was, where it came from, to whom it appealed, why it appealed to them, and how it had gotten into the culture of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They might have to tried to identify religious intellectuals with credibility among Muslims who were offering alternative interpretations worth supporting. They might have explored how Jihadism and its rivals were intertwined with social and political undercurrents in Muslim societies to craft policies that would undercut the seductions of Jihadism far upstream from actual crises. Finally, they might have worked out how to distinguish long-standing local contentions from global arguments and dealt with them separately.”
    • On rebuilding a society / establishing a new order: “… the architects of the new order faced a harder task than the militant radicals interested in keeping society fragmented, because no single positive accomplishment ignites a prairie fire of belief. It takes an accumulation of good moments. The inauguration of one hospital, the completion of one bridge, the opening of one school, the graduation ceremonies of one class — each adds a drop to the pool of public confidence, but it takes a lot of drops to fill the pool. By contrast, the bombing of one hospital, the burning down of one school, the destruction of one bridge, the disruption of one graduation ceremony with a suicide bombing triggers a shock that feeds on itself like a scream in an echo chamber.

March 2013

  • Ender’s Game NOTES: first fiction book I’ve read in a long while… very much enjoyed it!
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen NOTES: …really enjoyed this book, I’m big boned and have never thought I could run long distances but just a couple weeks ago finished a short 5k with my wife and son and it was easy after doing the couch to 5k training program. This book made me believe that I can do more. One interesting quote about problem solving: “… when you can’t answer a question, flip it over. Forget what makes something go fast — what makes it slow down? After all, it didn’t matter how fast a rabbit could go, but how fast it could keep going until it found a hole to dive down.”
  • How Will You Measure Your Life? NOTES: Fun book, lots of stuff to think about. A couple of quotes / notes:
    • Quote: The theory of motivation suggests you need to ask yourself a different set of questions than most of us are used to asking. Is this work meaningful to me? Is this job going to give me a chance to develop? Am I going to learn new things? Will I have an opportunity for recognition and achievement? Am I going to be given responsibility? These are things that will truly motivate you. Once you get this right, the more measurable aspects of your job (ie: salary, title, office, etc..) will fade in importance.
    • When planning / proposing a new project / initiative, a good question to ask: “What are the most important assumptions that have to prove right for these projections to work — and how will we track them?” and then order said list by important and uncertainty. “… at the top should be the assumptions that are most important and least certain, while the bottom of the list should be those that are least important and most certain.”
    • Quote: “A strategy — whether in companies or in life — is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about how you spend your time, energy and money. With every month of your time, every decision about how you spend your energy and your money, you are making a statement about what really matters to you.
    • Quote: “When the winning strategy is not yet clear in the initial stages of a new business, good money from investors needs to be patient for growth but impatient for profit… once a viable strategy has been found, investors need to change what they seek — they should become impatient for growth and patient for profit.” Big point here being that 93% of companies that ended up being successful had to change their initial strategy… and so if you focus first on growth before firing out how to make money, you’ll 99% of the time end up driving off a cliff… albeit at a very high rate of speed. Big companies do the latter more often than the former, they pour huge amounts of money into initiatives before figuring out if said initiative will be successfully, mostly because they HAVE to continue growing. And the big quote / meaningful part: “While most of us have a deliberate strategy of creating deep, love-filled relationships with members of our family and our friends, in reality we invest in a strategy for our lives that we would never have aspired to: having shallow friendships with many but deep friendships with none; becoming divorced, somtimes repeatedly; and having children who feel alienated from us in our own homes, or who are raised by a stepparent…”
    • Interesting points on product development, people buy a product not because of some set of features, but because they have some ‘job’ in mind to do. Ticklers: IKEA, milkshakes, fruit smoothies, etc.. Similarly, “… thinking about your relationships from the perspective of the job to be done is the best way to understand what’s important to the people who mean the most to you… Asking yourself ‘What job does my spouse need me to do?’ gives you the ability to think about it in the right unit of analysis.”
    • The “Just this once..” chapter that talks about marginal costs / marginal revenues, ie: the Blockbuster example where they could have built a business just like Netflix did but instead chose the marginal cost option of just dipping their toes into the market and then ultimately got killed by Netflix long term. Quote: “… the trap of marginal thinking. You can see the immediate costs of investing, but it’s hard to accurately see the costs of not investing. When you decide that the upside of investing in the new product isn’t substantial enough while you still have a perfectly acceptable existing product, you aren’t taking into account a future in which somebody else brings the new product to market.

February 2013

  • The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t NOTES: REALLY enjoyed this book, Nate is a great story teller. A couple of important points / things I want to remember:
    • Overfitting: name given to the act of mistaking noise for a signal
    • Bayes’s theorem: truly fascinating stuff, lots of stuff on the internet about this, wikipedia does an OK job at explaining it but Nate’s chapter on it was great.
    • Quote of a quote: “There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously.”, brought up in the chapter that talks about known knowns, known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns.
    • Logarithmic scales: “… a fundamental characteristic of power law relationships: when you plot them on a double logarithmic scale, the pattern that emerges is as straight as an arrow.”
    • Short discussion on broken windows theory, had not heard that the evidence for the merit of this theory is mixed.
    • Quote: “… the most important source of failure in advance of the attacks was our lack of imagination. When we are making predictions, we need a balance between curiosity and skepticism. They can be compatible. The more eagerly we commit to scrutinizing and testing our theories, the more readily we accept that our knowledge of the world is uncertain, the more willingly we acknowledge that perfect prediction is impossible, the less we will live in fear of our failures… By knowing more about what we don’t know, we may get a few more predictions right.
  • Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace NOTES: interesting book if you’re into DFW, really reinforced how much he was into deep / meaningful work that took a long time to create, which also takes an incredible amount of concentration, which might have also been the thing that eventually killed him.

January 2013

  • The Places In Between NOTES: thought provoking book that makes you yearn for silence and simplicity while also reminding you that the country you were born contributes more to your overall life outcome than any amount of natural skill or smarts that you have. Also, nation re-building, good luck.
  • Calico Joe NOTES: my mom gives me the latest Grisham book for Christmas every year. 🙂 This was a super fast book to read, fun, nothing substantial.

Now with 50% less caffeine!