What are you reading?

I’m currently re-reading The Power I Am by Joel Osteen.

Daniel Suarez is my new near-future summer beach read.

@designbreathing looking for a new SciFi book, my stack has gotten low, I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

Read the Industrial Design themed sci fi novel titled, The OffWorld Man Anthology:

www.amazon.ca/OFFWORLD-MAN-ANTHOLOGY-COMPLETE-MANUSCRIPTS-ebook/dp/B09QJ9XHQV

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Another short novella in the same theme is ‘A Finely Tuned Spiritual Being’ by the same author:

Switching between these.


I forgot one. I quickly read, “When to Rob a Bank” by the Freakonomics guys. It didn’t have any big takeaways, but it was fun and made me think. I think it would make a great non-fiction read for a vacation.

The wife bought me this, so far its very interesting.

I’ve been following James’ youtube channel for years, he’s great

James Hoffmann - YouTube

A really fun read and it breaks down all the current challenges with creating humanity’s first interstellar settlement. Lots of usability challenges I hadn’t considered, so lots of work for us in the future, yay!

125084292

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Just finished “The Dispossessed”, Le Guin. It was very fine.

Biography of Eddy Merckx (cyclist).

Design content: starting this - The Creative Act, by Rick Rubin

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Network Effect, Book 7 in Martha Wells’s very sarcastic Murder Bot series:

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A double review today:

The Premonition by Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

I never read any Michael Lewis books before, but he discussed these two on his podcast and I decided to give them a try.

First, Lewis is an amazing non-fiction writer. His voice is so clear and he boils things down in a way that makes complicated subjects seem easy. After these two books, I see why he’s become so popular.

The Fifth Risk discusses a bunch of random things that the US government does that no one outside of government of science probably knows about. Weirdly, I knew about half of the things he mentions. I should have worked in math and statistics, so I’m always trying to search for data on oddball things. That’s lead me down the path of searching for excel files that sometimes lead to government sites like the ones that Lewis discusses.

The part that I don’t know so well was what the government does with the data. Sometimes it’s to use it to actually do great things like feed people, help people with mortgages and small business loans, predict the weather and rescue people. Sometimes it just gathers dust on shelves. Lewis discusses how some people inside and outside government try to get access to this data with varying levels of success.

The over arching theme of the book is that the government does a lot of valuable work with incredible returns on investment but rarely gets fanfare.

The second book is The Premonition. It’s about the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a citizen, I feel like it’s important that I’m at least aware of what happened so that I can try to judge if we’re getting ready for the next pandemic or just fooling ourselves.

The book looks primarily at two things: a small California non-profit that developed a rapid Covid test only eight days into the pandemic and team directed by the Bush White House to develop a pandemic response plan.

The first part of the book is so optimistic. Bush read a book about pandemics and immediately ordered a pandemic plan be developed. Bush then got Congress to approve budgets multiple times to develop the plan and implant it around the federal government. It was actually the most complete pandemic plan developed and some of the writers went around the world to share the plan with other governments. Around the same time, a Stanford phd developed a completely new way to detect viruses. It was deployed to test for viruses before, but Covid really showed the technologies value. Within days of the pandemic, the president of the non-profit had found lab space around Stanford and trained volunteers to test for Covid.

This second half brings us back to reality, but the villains here aren’t who you might suspect. First, there is political meddling in California that blocked taking action in the first weeks. Then, there is the CDC refusing to lead a pandemic response. Instead, they seem to want to see how the pandemic plays out and then write a new plan for the next pandemic. Trump gets mentioned, but rarely. The story of the failure of the US to respond has more to do with a system than any individual politician.

I recommend both books if you are curious about what the US government does and how big things do and don’t get done.

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I’m immersed in reading the book “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, exploring the fascinating life and innovative thoughts of Apple’s co-founder. However, as I reflect on Apple’s current decisions, I wonder if Jobs would be satisfied. Innovative design seems to have stagnated, especially in the iPhone, where the emphasis on hardware appears to have surpassed the aesthetics and user experience that Jobs held dear. The visual uniformity among smartphones from various brands raises doubts about the stylistic differentiation Jobs sought.

A notable example is the presence of protruding cameras in current models, a choice that, while it may have technical benefits, compromises the minimalist aesthetic Jobs valued. This apparent preference for performance over form raises the question of how Jobs, a passionate advocate of elegant design, would react to such decisions. Reading the book amplifies the contemplation of how Jobs’ legacy is reflected in Apple’s current directions.

Thanks for the reviews! I really like Lewis’ podcast Against The Rules.

How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins.

I’m not a fan of Collins. I haven’t read his other books, but when reading reviews and hearing about them, I always thought the observations were kind of superficial or obvious. However, there aren’t many books written about business failure and I read that Collins actually says this book was his best and he was disappointed by its slow sales. Apparently, no one wants to know about why businesses fail.

The good: The book is short and concise. I have to say, I’m tired of reading 300 page books that have 100 pages of actual content.

The general description of how companies fail (Collin’s has a 5 step path) is kind of obvious, but the insights of which steps are fatal and which can be overcome is something I haven’t seen discussed. He argues that companies can turn around until they run out of cash. (This might seem obvious, but you can have earnings and profits, but lack cash.) That companies can turnaround so late in the process of failure surprised me. I thought that once companies ignored their problems, it was over.

Lastly, for me, is the data that went into the book. Collins has access to inside accounting and management information for a large number of American businesses and it shows in the case studies he presents here.

The bad: I actually finished the main part of this book a month ago, and I can’t really remember. I think that says something, but I’m not quite sure what.