Book List of 2021

Books read during 2021 with notes to me

  1. The Breath – James Nester – Book about the importance of breathing. The author explores many techniques that have been lost over human history and re-discovering and shares w/ the audience. “Nature is simple but subtle” summarizes the simplicity of breathing yet one fundamental thing to keep one alive. Slow breathing, and breathing through the nose are the most important techniques for breathing properly and for maintaining health. Albert Szent-Gyorgi 
  2. Geography of Genius – Eric Weiner (Reread) – “What is honored in a country will be cultivated there” – Plato
    • Visited: Athens, Florence, Hongzhou, Vienna, Silicon Valley
    • Instead of having to live up to something, you’ve got something to push against, it forces you to make that extra effort. We Collect our dots in the company of others. We CONNECT them by OURSELVES. 
    • Articulate – means joint. To articulate an idea is to cement it, to co-create it. The conception of an idea cannot be separated from voicing it. 
    • Albert Rothenberg – Janusian thinking, that actively conceives two or more opposite or antithetical ideas, images, or concepts simultaneously. 
    • Small, confined sparks creativity
    • Janusian – Conceive and hold two opposite ideas
    • Dave Hume – Indulge your passion for (science) but let your (science) be human. Reason doesn’t determine what we want but only HOW we obtain it. 
  3. Permission Marketing – Seth Godin (order from Amazon to finish the book) – Permission marketing for 1-on-1, 
    • Be personal, be relevant, be specific, and always be anticipated
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman. Amazing book about human nature and how we think. The book gives insights into how we think and make decisions based on incomplete information. (Need to add more notes later)
  5. Listening Woman – Tony Hillerman Fiction
  6. People of Darkness – Tony Hillerman -Fiction Jim Chee story
  7. The infidel and the professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship that shaped Modern Thought– Dennis Rasmussen : Friendship during their life time in 1740 – 1770s. “Hume’s argument anticipates those of Smith’s great work: the true source of a nation’s wealth is not gold or silver or a positive balance of trade, but rather a productive citizenry; most attempts by politicians to que or control people’s economic choices are either futile or positively counterproductive; free trade works to the benefit of all parties involved – city and country, rich and poor, the government and the populace; free markets are also mutually beneficial in the international sphere, and it is impossible to attain prosperity by beggaring neighboring countries.”  Hume maintained that “industry, knowledge, and humanity are linked together by an indissoluble chain, and are found, from experience as well as reason.”
  8. War and Peace and War – Peter Turchin – Found this book after reading the Atlantic article’s book review (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/can-history-predict-future/616993/) Dr Turchin’s thesis on growth and fall of an empire is cyclical and there are several main factors that contribute to empire’s growth/success to its downfall. He has searched through the history and extracts factors such as cohesiveness of the group(ethics/social of society), growth of “elite” class, a decline of living standards, and the inability of gov’t to control the financial burden.  Didn’t read the book, cover to cover but has lots of fascinating details of historical events. Talked about the expansion of the Russian empire, the growth of the medieval period in England, and part of modern US society. Felt like it was too much detail. Felt not elucidate enough in his writing style. Can not compare w/ Yuval Harari’s book and how much I appreciate Yuval’s book instead. 
  9. The New Map-energy, climate, and the clash of nations. – Daniel Yergin: Book about history of oil is divided up into various chapters; America’s Map, China’s Map, Russia Map, Middle East Map, and finally RoadMap and Climate Map. History of the modern era but told from the perspective of oil which has shaped and formed modern political boundaries, governments, and conflicts around the world. The author is really able to give perspective to policy and news events of the world. How US shale oil and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) production in the last 15 years has changed the energy security of the US (one of the three largest oil producers in the world (US/Russia/Saudi). History of post-cold-war Russia and how it’s forming and relying on oil/gas to maintain its influence on geopolitics. Then the author’s description of the Middle East really gives a good understanding of middle east conflicts and current conflicts and wars. His take on the climate map part didn’t offer anything interesting or convincing as other parts of the book. He really doesn’t see or offer alternative options than oil/gas and their impact on future politics. Interesting book but did not read cover to cover except for America’s Map and China/Russia’s map segment. 
  10. Think Again – Adam Grant – The Power of Knowing and What you don’t know. “If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.
  11. Chatter – Ethan Kross – The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It.  Self to give more perspective, adopting a broader, calmer, and more objective perspective is an important tool to combat chatter. Techniques for Yourself to help You.
    • Imagine giving advice to a friend (to yourself)
    • Broader perspective
    • Reframe your experience
    • Watch your physical reaction
    • Engage mental time-travel
    • Write expressively in the journal
    • Adopt the neutral party perspective
    • Grab lucky charm
    • Perform ritual
  • Techniques for Others
    • Provide emotional AND cognitive needs (people looking for care – a listening ear, and Support-solution – cognitive needs.
    • Provide invisible support- not explicit- and don’t offer when not asked (threaten autonomy and self-efficacy). 

13. Pipe Dreams – Chelsea Wald 

14. The Foundation – Trilogy plus Prequel & Sequel (7 books)- Isaac Asimov

15. Prisoner of Geography – Tim Marshall : Author talks about ten maps in the context of its physical geography and how has impacted history, and cultural development impacting the current political climate in a short summary. These ten maps are China, Russia, US, Africa, Western Europe, Middle East, India/Pakistan, Korea/Japan, Latin America, Arctic

16. The Exponential Age: How accelerating technology is transforming business, politics, and society Azeem Azhar. The author is very familiar with modern computer technology’s evolution to the internet age. He now works as a journalist who condenses a variety of trends and developments with modern technology. The author explains that technology is remaking politics (economics, culture, business strategy) and politics is shaping technology (loop). With so much technology advancement coming so quickly, the author sees four domain fields that are facing exponential growth.

Four areas of growth: The author describes these domain fields as GPT (General Purpose Technology)

  • Computers – Moors Law – Doubling of processing power with half of the price
  • Energy – Solar panel 1975: $100/ watt -> 2010 $0.40/ watt –> 2020 $0.23/watt
  • Biology
  • Manufacturing

Explains why this GPT impacting this domain with the following 3 factors

  • Wright’s Law – Named after Theodor Wright – Demand and skills (More demand causing more, and that will create better skills).
  • Recombine – as things group and work together, will create standardization (fax machine)
  • The proliferation of network – Connectivity/ transfer of knowledge, with a network of information.

The author describes automation as “things that can be automatable only because previously unstructured tasks were subdivided and simplified” and “not automation itself driving job loses, but the difficulties faced by the companies that DID NOT automate” examples such as Blockbuster vs. Netflix. The author also mentions that automation is Zero-sum thinking in that jobs will be taken away by something (automation or immigrants). That’s been disapproved historically and economically called “Lump of Labor Fallacy“. Four main contributing factors for increase in economic productivity BUT decline in wages for workers.

  • Globalization – drives down wages due to competition around the world. Economic gains go to the owners of capital (factory, company stockholders)
  • Decline in union
  • Rise of the intangible economy ( software)
  • Dominate by a handful of big firms: Superstarfication – Market consolidated around ever-fewer super start firms, less competition for labors within less worker leverages.

User as an example: Senior Engineer 5 yr experience annual salary = $300K, Driver 40 hrs/week for year salary = $30K. Facebook: Ave employees $240K, Contact moderator (contract) = $28K, Content Creator = $0.00

4 methods to counter this trend of inequality wages and economic output growth.

  1. Dignify employees – workers. Workers need dignity and need to change their approach to management.
  2. Flexibility matters – Able to learn constantly, constantly educating workers via digital platforms.
  3. Workers need security (flexibility vs. UBC -universal basic income) company to change employees and gov’t to help fill the gap in income.
  4. Workers need equity – Technology, globalization and intangible economy lead all power away from labor but towards the capital.

The author states that as more high-tech society becomes, the more global and borderless will be and that IS NOT TRUE anymore and returning to local (geography matters). Adam Smith’s main point is that economic benefits arise from specialization and are more productive if we focus on one thing. David Ricardo, a 19th-century economist, stated the importance of “comparative advantage” that is nations export whatever they are relatively good at producing (either be a natural resource or cheap labor).

17. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – Hayao Miyazaki. Amazing body of work by master Miyazaki. This is a graphic novel that he hand drew of 7 volumes story. It tells the story between humans and the story between humans and nature and its environment. Its a parable of the modern world and Miyazaki goes deep dive into hope and love within human nature. Himself living through WWII has many insights into humans and war. A very moving and hopeful story, especially at the end with an amazing line (translated from Japanese)

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