Since 2016, I have sent a weekly e-mail with five goodreads worth reading.  I am motivated by helping people avoid the clickbait, outrage, and listicles that pervade our race-to-the-bottom media world right now.

What follows is a collection of those links from 2018 randing in topics from the philosophy of work, the real future of work, creativity & ideas, learning, poetry, writing, politics, outrage, technology and of course, a couple articles on the blockchain.

I close it out with some suggestions for podcasts and newsletters I follow to get inspired with great ideas.

Books That Inspired Me This Year

  • Rebecca Solnit’s Field Guide to Getting Lost (link): “That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.”
  • Erich Fromm wrote the short and easily read Art of Loving in the 1950’s arguing that loving others is something worth taking seriously (and practicing) (link)
  • At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails is an incredible history of the entire existential movement (link)
  • Bullshit Jobs by David Graber is a fun and thoroughly entertaining read on the modern state of “bullshit work” in our knowledge economy and what we should do about it (link and my powerpoint summary)
  • Rest, by Alex Pang: ““Today’s workplace respects overwork, even though it’s counterproductive, and treats four-hour days as “contemptibly slack,” even though they produce superior results.” (link)
  • Seth Godin talks about unleashing creativity, our broken education system and the need to be remarkable and stop following the rules in Linchpin (link) and also goes deep on how to think about creating in The Icarus Deception (link)
  • Nassim Taleb makes a compelling argument that our economy and politics lack Skin in The Game  and we should be weary of their survival (link)
  • Alan Watts ponders the downsides of modernity and limits of words in The Wisdom Of Insecurity (link)
  • Rolf Potts Vagabonding is great for long-term travel (link)
  • Reinventing Organizations shows how organizations thrive without managers (link)
  • The Three Marriages by David Whyte is a beautiful poetry-filled book on making sense of self, work and relationships throughout our lives (link).  His book The Heart Aroused about bringing heart to the corporate world is also highly recommended (link)
  • Curiosity by Ian Leslie taught me there were three different types of curiosity and how important it is for creativity and happiness (link)
  • Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach was a great insight into meditation, mindfulness and accepting the world (link)

On Life, Work, Non-Work & Quitting

Andrew Taggart’s essays on work:

I have probably been influenced most by Andrew’s writings this year (Charles Eisenstein and Seth Godin likely are in a tie for second).  I highly recommend them all:

  • If work dominated your every moment, would life be worth living? (link)
  • Are google and apple the company towns of the 21st century? (link)
  • How workers killed the liberal arts (link)
  • The case for anti-careerism (link)
  • On settlers and nomads (link)
  • Why you never have enough time, a history (link)

Philosophy of Work

  • John Danaher offers an argument against paid employment (link) and how we should “create a society in which it is no longer necessary” (link)
  • Bertrand Russell famous essays argues “there is far too much work done in the world” (link)
  • Basic Income: Three sacred beliefs worth questioning (link)
  • We have lost touch with the “thrift, integrity, self-reliance, and modesty” of the protestant work ethic (link)
  • William James “Gospel Of Relaxation” from the early 1900s (link)
  • Josef Pieper’s philsophical writing on “Total Work” from the 1940s is even more relevant today (and easier to digest than you’d imagine) (link)
  • Is “meaningful work” undermining work itself (link)

The Real “Future” Of Work & Learning

  • Hype of the gig economy (link)
  • Tiago Forte on the future of online education and online brands (link)
  • The future of work is fiver different conversations (link)
  • A deeper perspective on the gig economy & platforms from Europe (link)
  • Is digital nomadism all about working as much as possible with more travel? (link)
  • The future is networked and the future is female (link)
  • Technological unemployment – everything you need to know (link)
  • Brookings finds that automation is decreasing the labor share of income (link)
  • Eric Weinstein on the future of capitalism (link)
  • Let’s stop with all the generational Gen-___ nonsense (link)
  • Wait, is the gig economy actually shrinking? (link)
  • Venkatesh Rao says cities that thrive will “keep finding new ways of continuing the game of being themselves rather than trying to win a particular economic era” (link)
  • Brent Beshore brings heart and long-term thinking to private equity (link)
  • Politico writes about the true, exploitative future of work (link)
  • Interviews with Sarah Kessler about her book Gigged (link)

Life Reflections & Principles

  • Reflections from a 30th Harvard reunion (link): “at the end of the day, most of our conversations at the various parties and panel discussions throughout the weekend centered on a desire for love, comfort, intellectual stimulation, decent leaders, a sustainable environment, friendship, and stability.”
  • This author argues we are all going to die and should stop looking at life as a continued accumulation of achievement (link)
  • We will only regret the choices we don’t make (link)
  • Vekatesh Rao’s framework for developing your life principles (link)

WTF Corporate World?

  • Bonuses don’t work (link)
  • Real organizational change is driven by social contagion (link)
  • The peter principle is backed up by this research (link) and this too (link)
  • What actually contributes to meaningful work? (link)
  • The MBTI is junk science (link)
  • Where good ideas come from via google (link)
  • Luke Kanies on how modern corporations operate like authoritarian states and why people hate working for big companies (link and podcast)
  • Adam Grant: American work culture is becoming more transactional (link)
  • Beyond Burnout: Redesigning Care to Restore Meaning and Sanity for Physicians (link)
  • Job crafting is a way better way of thinking about “jobs” (link)
  • McKinsey finds people are becoming meaner at work (link)

Leisure, Rest & Idleness

  • Maya Angelou “Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
  • Darwin was a slacker and so should you be (link)
  • On “deep laziness” – “people seem to be surprisingly bad at using their freedom to feel good, and especially at using it to feel deeply good.” (link)
  • We confused taking a vacation with leisure and rest (link)

Taking Bold Leaps, Quitting & New Paths

  • A woman praised as “brave” for leaving her executive-level job in her 50’s (link)
  • The pain of giving away $24,000 to start my journey of self-employment (link)
  • The Bonobos founder warns against avoiding the “risk not taken” (link)
  • My ten surprising reflections on self-employment (link)
  • Traveling with my beanie baby around the world (link)
  • The fears that hold people back from taking a leap (link)
  • Matthew Berry on his accidental path as a fantasy expert (link)
  • Sophie Kleeman on leaving a life that made sense (link)
  • Three questions I ask myself to continually reinvent my life (link)
  • Many people are stuck, miserable and feel trapped like this woman (link)
  • Paul Graham on doing what you love (link and selected tweets)
  • Differences between full-time workers, side giggers and freelancers (link)
  • Tim Urban on how to find a career you like (link)
  • What do people actually regret at the end of life? (link)

Good Writing & Things Worth Reading

Famous Essays or Books Worth Revisiting

  • Harry Frankfurt from the 80s: “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit” (link)
  • American Scholar from Ralph Waldo Emerson could help diagnose our education crisis (link)
  • Ben Franklin’s biography is timeless and fascinating (free e-book)

Profiles & Stories

  • A profile on UConn women’s coach Geno Auriema (link)
  • Eisenhower on George Marshall (link)
  • The obsessive (sad?) work-ethic of Ichiro Suzuki (link)
  • Who doesn’t love a story of a high-roller taking advantage of several casinos (link)
  • Thomas Kuhn, the man behind the “paradigm shift” (link)
  • Giant men who were too tall for basketball (link)
  • Why are there so many more men than women in China and India? (link)
  • Fidel Castros romatic relationship with a US reporter (link)
  • The real story of Frank from Catch Me If You Can (link)
  • Michael Lewis on Steve Bannon (link)
  • Pen Jillette is a riot (link)
  • Why Taipei is a trash-free city (and has very few trash cans) (link)
  • This guy spent a decade giving people cash (link)
  • Profile of “Promethea” who is a genius and started college at 8 (link)
  • Lisa Jobs on her bizzare relationship with her father (link)
  • The imprisonment and eventual death of American Otto Warmbier in North Korea (link)

Essays worth reading

  • Dan Wang on “mimetic desire” (link)
  • Dan Wang on definitive optimism (link)
  • A bootlegger brings you behind the scenes in 1926 (link)
  • How “invisible asymptotes” lead to real change (link)
  • Andrew Sullivan on the opioid crisis (link)
  • Ralph Nader says the US operates in a state of “lawlessness” (link)
  • Frank Chimero: The long, hard, stupid way of creation (link)
  • A pilot falls from 15,000 feet and lives to write this (link)
  • “The Good Room”: Frank Chimero on space, creativity & significance in the digital world (link)
  • Taylor Pearson, “The Blockchain Man”: “Instead of arguing with his boss, The Blockchain Man may fork the project and create his own version.” (link)
  • Dan Wang on “How Technology Grows” (link)
  • Eugene Wei on how ideas become “common knowledge” (link)

Expand Your Mind

Learning, Thinking & Reflection

  • Tiago Forte helps you build a “second brain” using evernote (link)
  • The virtues of solitude (link)
  • Julia Galef on how you can use soldier and scout thinking to learn (link)
  • On the brains default mode network that is “always on” (link)
  • Patrick O’Shaughnesy on rethinking achievement and focusing on daily behaviors instead (link)
  • 11 Untranslatable words from other cultures (link)
  • Avoid “expiring knowledge” at all costs (link)
  • Should you write a book?  Tyler Cowen offers an idea (link)
  • How to get the most out of college (hint: grades don’t matter) (link)
  • Walter Isaacson on curiosity after writing about Da Vinci, Einstein and Jobs (link)
  • Derek Sivers says you need to move to new areas to gain perspective (link)
  • Eric Weinstein on the “stigmatized narratives” mass media ignore (link)
  • Lenses for looking at history (link)
  • Are the number of new ideas shrinking? (link)

Love, Generosity, Happiness & Gift Economy

  • Podcast with Charles Eistenstein on that mindset shifts needed for a a more beautiful world (link)
  • Yale is trying to de-program its excellent sheep by giving them a class on happiness (link)
  • Three part series on “how to be happy” (link)
  • The bike angel who returns bikes to empty docks in NYC (link)
  • How much money you make (compared to your neighbor) determines your happiness (link)
  • Everyone should walk more, here’s why (link)
  • A deep dive on solitude and how affluence makes us lonely instead (link)
  • A four minute film on happiness (link)
  • Obsession with happiness in the west stifles creativity (link)
  • Atul Gawande’s graduation speech on oppenness, curiosity & empathy (link)
  • My five experiments operating in the gift economy (link)

Human Behavior

  • How the “approval economy” hacks our behavior (link)
  • We spend more on technology than clothes now (link)
  • Japan using lights and music to lower suicide rates (link)

Complexity

  • The cynefin framework for understanding complexity (link)
  • Finding the leverage points for change in complex systems (link)

The Grey Area (potentially uncomfortable ideas)

  • Pay gap entirely explained by different work-life choices men and women make (link).  Uber also finds similar results (link)
  • Income Inequality not as bad in US: 50% of Americans will spend at least one year in the top 10% of earnings (link)
  • A closer look at anti-white rhetoric (link)
  • Climate change is also good? (link)
  • The tulip bubble wasn’t that bad (link)
  • Republicans used to be gun control supporters until the 1980s (link)
  • Diversity often overlooks neurodiversity (link) and a related suicide note (link)
  • MLK was not popular during his time (link)
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment may have been completely flawed (link)

Politics & The Economy (Mostly Trump-Free)

Identity Politics, Culture Wars & Fake News

  • How Newt Gingrich hacked the CSPAN to create a polarized outlet (link)
  • Podcast on the three different languages of politics we speak (link)
  • Wesley Morris – virtue signaling has replaced social cricism (link)
  • Can “kayfabe” help us deal with fake news? (link)
  • This fasincating essay breaks down the different “tribes” of the modern culture wars (link)
  • Emergent nationalism in Eastern Europe (link)
  • The battle against truth from the post-modern left and the pre-modern right (link)
  • How tyrants whip up a frenzy & secure devotion (link)
  • Venkatesh Rao on the culture wars and what to make of it (link)
  • Preference falsification to fit in to groups (link)
  • Russ Roberts: outrage is taking over (link)
  • Tribes are not so bad (link)
  • Jonathan Haidt on “The Age of Outrage” (link)
  • Maria Popova on the limits of identity politics (link)

It’s the economy, stupid

  • What the communist manifesto can teach us about our current economic paragidm (link)
  • The 9.9% – a harmless aristocracy (link)
  • Matt Ridley says Rent-seeking and risk-aversion are stifling the economy (link)

Technology

Future of Tech

  • Harari is silicon valley’s muse (link)
  • Harari says we have always had “fake news” (link)
  • Scott Galloway says break up the big tech companies (link)
  • Jared Lanier on the downfalls of tech and social media (link)
  • Harari: “those who control the data, control not just humanity but the future of life itself” (link)
  • 3,000 four-passenger cars could serve 98 percent of taxi demand (link)
  • No one knows anything: 19 estimates of job losses and gains from automation (link)
  • Tyler Cowen says social media makes smart people less smart (link)
  • 5 takwaways from technology in 2018

Blockchain

  • Taleb says bitcoins existence is an insurance policy agai nt malevolent governments (link)
  • Bitcoin will crash “because of course it will” (link)
  • It is really about being able to scale governance (link)

More Content

Podcasts worth checking out

  • Dirty John True Crime story of a con man in Newport Beach (link)
  • Prohibition, National Parks and Political Parties from American History Tellers (link)
  • My Podcast – Boundless: The Human Side Of Work (link)
  • Seth Godin – Akimbo on self-employment, creativity & learning (link)
  • Russ Roberts – Econtalk – been listening for 10+ years (link)
  • The Knowledge Project – Farnham Street (link)
  • Pivot With Kara Swisher & Scott Galloway (link)
  • Recode Decode with Kara Swisher (link)
  • Conversations With Tyler (Cowen) (link)
  • Waking Up, Sam Harris (link)
  • TED Radio Hour (link)
  • Onbeing Krista Tippett (link)
  • Crimetown by Gimlet about the mob in Providence (link)

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