söndag 10 augusti 2014

What to read?

Read whatever you like. What do I care? **


The last 24 hours I have been reminded from several sources of how difficult it is to discern knowledge and truth from propaganda and trash in today's media landscape.

E.g., CNN has given the conflict in Israel/Palestine over 50x as much coverage as Kongo, despite the ratio of casualties being even worse than the inverse. 5m people have died in the Kongo conflict - on par with the Korean war.

Also, Mike at D&P yesterday asked his readers what they are reading instead of newspapers (that are too slow* and too biased).

I agree with Mike that newspapers and other old media often miss the point completely (and probably deliberately too). On the other hand, even if there are bloggers that write objectively, they are hard to find among the millions of charlatans.

So what do I read? It really shouldn't concern you anymore than what music I listen to, but just in case you are still interested, here it is:

Non fiction books. High quality NFBs are well researched, written slowly, subject to peer review and relatively timeless. There are more of these than any person can read in a lifetime, so instead of wasting time on yet another news broadcast or morning paper, keep searching for and read the best NFBs.

My all-time favourites are:

How an economy grows and why it crashes
Gödel Escher Bach
The user illusion - Cutting consciousness down to size
The singularity is near
The naked ape
Engines of creation
The universe in a nutshell
The black swan
A short history of nearly everything

(and a podcast: TED radio hour)

You could also include among worthwhile books:

The road to serfdom
The most important thing
Tomorrow's gold
Thinking fast and slow
How to create a mind
The great crash
Men are from Mars

And for dog lovers:

Dog Sense

And fictional books that I think have important things to teach about the political system:

Withûr Wé
Atlas Shrugged
The Moon is a harsh mistress

And finally just a couple of good reads with no purpose or message:

The diamond age

(Just tell me if you are interested in any of the above and need the author)

Blogs are much harder to list or recommend. There are so many that come and go and the quality varies a lot over time. Among the ones I have kept on my reading list for a long time are:

KurzweilAI - technological progress
Zerohedge - counterweight to the polyannish financial commercial media
Hussman - weekly objective comments on the stock markets by one of the best asset managers

Nota Bene that I am probably searching for something completely different than you are. I am already retired and 'done'. I am not trying to get ahead or further my career or earn more money. I am simply trying to understand the world, man and the nature of intelligence and consciousness.

You would probably be much better served by checking out reading lists from Mike or Victor Pride or some other Man, Career or Entreprenurship blogs. At least if you are looking to get big, ripped, strong, rich, successful or admired.

Here, you'll only find a Swedish nerd's personal interests in nature, albeit a nerd that somehow happened to reach the upper echelons of international finance while bench pressing over 300 lbs, only to give it all up.
Btw, I am writing this on my phone so I just might add a few books or descriptions later this evening.

* Which is why I have lost interest in Financial Times and am starting to give up on The Economist too

** Actually, I mean it; read whatever. I have found that I get some of my best ideas and impulses no matter what I'm reading. It can be deep, difficult, easy, stupid, superficial or just strange or funny and it just stirs something in me, makes me want to comment, contradict, defend or memorize. Sure, it is nice to be served smart and deep thought but often it works just as well with simply infecting yourself with somebody else's memes and see what happens.

9 kommentarer:

  1. From the above, I've read Tommorow's Gold and Atlas Shrugged.

    What do you think about Tommorow's Gold and Marc Faber?

    Recently I've read Poor Charlie's Almanack, and it's brilliant.

    I would recommend you few positions :

    -William B. Irvine , A Guide to the Good Life

    -Joseph A. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies,

    -Balthasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom,



    1. Hi, and thanks for the comment.

      I think Marc Faber is a smart and nuanced thinker and investor. Tomorrow's gold puts economic developments in perspective in a thought-provoking way. It's very easy to believe in the preservation of the status quo but Faber shows how flawed that is.

      Do you care to elaborate which of the three books I should start with and what I can expect from it?

    2. Hi,

      I was waiting almost a year, until I finnaly had the book in my hands, and started reading it immediately. It's among my favourites, and I was surprised how quickely Marc Faber responded, when I sent him an email.

      I try to answer your question.

      I suggest to start with Tainter's book. If you type Joseph A. Tainter's name in youtube, you can find his lecture on the topic of complexity. However, I haven't seen the videos, so I can't say anything about them.

      The book is written by anthropologist, and deals with rising complexities in societies. He uses Mayan, Roman and other cultures, and disseminates why they have risen and why they vanished. He uses multidisciplinary approach, and it's really thought provoking book. I have an excerpt from the book :

      "The goal of this study throughout is to understand collapse as a general phenomenon, to gain an understanding not limited to specific cases, but applicable across time, space, and type of society. Most explanations of collapse focus on particular society or civilization, rather than approach the global process. "

      I get to know about Balthasar Gracian in Robert Greene's book 48 Laws of Power. He was a spanish scholar in the 17th century. His writing is so beatiful and succinct. In short words, he can vividly and thorougly put his ideas. It's not just beauty of the words, which give pleasure to the reader, but wisdom applicable to our everyday life.

      I skimmed through your posts and Irvine's book would recommend as last from those books, which I mentioned. However, I mention it , because I see some similarities of your life philosophy and stoics. It resembles stoics, especially when I read your post aim low, and wall of wisdom. Before reading his book, I recommend to watch his lecture on youtube, he is a professor of philosophy, and must be a great lecturer. I really enjoyed his lecture on youtube.



    3. Thank you for the detailed answer. I will check out the suggested videos and actually probably order Tainter's book as well (if the video is as interesting as your description of the book).

      Kind regards

  2. Could you elaborate on Peter Schiff's book? I have one book of him Crashproof, and but still on the waiting list. What about this position on your al time favourite? Write me your opinion, when you read Tainter. I am curious

    1. 1. Shiff's "Why an economy grows..." is written and illustrated in a very both clear and humoristic style that should be understandable even for newbies
      2. Despite the humor and simplicity, Schiff goes from modelling a 2-3 person fishing economy to a complex, fully globalized world with inflation, trade and central banks, while still hammering the points of a)productivity and b) sound money

      Nota bene that "How an economy"... is completely different from "Crashproof". They are not similar at all. "How..." is an illustrated humoristic book on the workings of an economy, whereas "Crashproof" shows how you can adapt your life and your investments to manage a (the coming) crash.

  3. I've read Shiff's " Why an economy grows..." and it really builds in a funny way the simple economy, and how it becomes more complex. The writing is light, however the topics are not, and the caricatures like Ben Barnacle and illustrations, how he will throw fish note reserves from the palm tree, and not from helicopter are hilarious.

    It's a worthy book, for layman and those with more acumen in economics.

  4. I'll definitely look up some of these recommendations Mikael. Never heard about most of them.

    Take care,

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