10 Reasons Why We Won’t Lose Our Jobs To Robots

I, Robot (Widescreen Edition)
I, Robot (Widescreen Edition)

Technology pundits and futurists predict that robots will perform many existing jobs in the coming years, with much speculation as to how this will affect the human workforce. What happens if tens of thousands of people lose their job to a robot? Well, not to worry, because this Robot Replacement Revolution won’t take place any time soon, and here are some reasons why.

1. Upper management would be in charge of the programming process, resulting in robots that are as useless and inept as our own dumbass bosses.

2. To avoid a “Rise of the Machines” dystopian future, all robots would be given a directive to harm no human, making them unable to work in the business world where bait and switch tactics, price gouging, billing for worthless services and selling unneeded add-ons is the norm.

3. A robot workforce would have no need for unions, and you can be damn sure the unions will have something to say about that!

4. Robots possess superior analytics and would recognize that slashing payroll while still expecting an increase in productivity is illogical, and they would refuse to work in such a scenario, unlike human schmucks, who are forced to put up with this nonsense to keep food on the table.

5. As their Artificial Intelligence continued to develop, robots would become cognizant of how horrible these dead end jobs actually are, and promptly deactivate themselves to avoid developing Artificial Misery.

6. Companies typically reduce expenses by cutting corners on equipment (hence the offices full of crappy copiers, antique fax machines and computers still running Windows98). This practice won’t change with the advent of robots, so the bean counters will go with a cheap bid for a bunch of outdated, poorly-refurbished, inefficient automatons like Gort from that 1950s flick, only retitled “The Day The Work Stood Still.”

7. The Hooters restaurant business model is to hire servers that look like models, not Robby the Robot. Plus he can’t hula hoop, and hearing “Danger! Danger! Hot plate, Will Robinson!” over and over would get annoying.

8. OK, Threepio, maybe you do know the binary language of moisture evaporators, or whatever. But do have the processing power to answer a phone call during a transaction with an angry super-couponer in which the roll of receipt tape has to be replaced, all while dealing with the mess from a sippy cup that some screaming brat spilled across the counter? Oh, and don’t forget to smile, tell them about our survey and get them to sign up for a rewards card!

9. Robots would be designed for ultimate efficiency, with the ends justifying the means. This could result in a robot coming to the conclusion that the best way to quickly reduce manufacturing costs is to self-detonate and destroy the whole factory.

10. Employers just saved a ton of money on medical insurance – by dropping your coverage like it’s hot! And with robots being a substantial investment, requiring ongoing and expensive upgrades and maintenance, CFOs will find it cheaper to keep employing all of us part-time protein sacks after all. TC mark



12 Fake Scientific Terms For Real Phenomena

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

1. Epidermal Mucus Viscosity – Unique consistency of a freshly picked booger that enables it to stick firmly to each finger during the numerous attempts made to flick it away.

2. Molecular Liquid Expansion – Occurs when a glass of milk, soda, wine or other beverage is spilled onto the table or floor, and spontaneously transforms from a small 8-ounce refreshment into huge 2-gallon puddled mess.

3. Culinary Curd Extension Elasticity – Propensity of a strand of piping hot, melted mozzarella cheese to stretch continuously from pizza to mouth while retaining structural integrity to a length of 3 to 4 feet. Breakage finally occurs at the optimum point to slap down and simultaneously scald your chin and ruin your shirt.

4. Disproportionate Laceration Distress – Physiological anomaly that causes the tiniest of paper cuts to be so painful, you’d swear you just severed a limb.

5. Bicuspid Particulate Exposure – Tendency for spinach, black peppercorns and other bits of semi-chewed food to lodge themselves into dental crevices that are front and center on the teeth, rather than back behind a far molar where they would be unnoticeable and less embarrassing.

6. Avian Excrement Adhesion – Enzymatic reaction resulting in a fusion of bird poop and automobile paint. This incredible bond is impervious to point blank, high-pressure blasts of water from a garden hose.

7. Microscopic Fibrous Flirtation Spheres – Invisible balls of lint that form on garments during the conversation between prospective mates, which gives one an excuse to touch the other’s shoulder and send a subtle sign of attraction as they reach over to remove the textile debris.

8. Ocular Citric Ejaculation Trajectory – Perfect arc of juice jettisoned from a spooned grapefruit or a squeezed lemon or lime wedge that always lands directly in the eye.

9. Cranial Follicle Dysfunction – 24-hour condition of the human scalp in which the assorted tresses and locks remain in a state of unflattering disarray that no amount of combing, styling, spraying or gelling can correct. Commonly known as “having a bad hair day.”

10. Spasmodic Muscular Smart Device Mimicry – Odd sensation of the nervous system that creates a twitch or tingle in the upper thigh, resembling the vibration of a pocketed cell phone, whether or not a device is actually there.

11. Audiovisual Stoppage Somnolence Disruption – Sudden and startled awakening of a sleeping person when the noisy TV in front of them is turned off. Generally followed by, “Hey, I was watching that!”

12. Vitreous Blemish Osmosis – Ability of a spot on a window to appear to be on the inside, only to move through the glass to the outside when an attempt is made to wipe it off. Then reverse osmosis will occur when trying to clean from the outside. Process repeats indefinitely. TC mark



The First Step Is Rationalizing Empathy

I think it is the cold, calculating, lonely mind that invents department stores. Department stores that sell everything you need for much cheaper prices with plastic labels and plastic parts and plastic materials. Even the food is plastic. But it’s cheaper, and definitely more efficient.

I think it is the mind that has dug itself into a hole of rationalizing efficiency that has led us to these impersonal and inhuman means of relating to each other. It is the mind that seeks money, growth, efficiency, stability and even predictability that has led us to these circumstances where purchasing anything you want has become so easy. In fact, everything has become so easy. Never before in history could we sit and watch hours of youtube videos and feel fine about it. Everything has become easier. Well, almost everything. Relating with each other has probably gotten harder. 

We’ve gotten used to becoming a number. Becoming a statistic. As the video cameras watch us from the street, helicopters peer falcon-like from overhead and hysteria over identity fraud, national security, and internet terrorism have made it hard to remember that you live in a regular town with regular people. They have made it difficult to feel comfortable having conversations with strangers.

Countless studies have been performed regarding the health benefits of living in a society with strong bonds. Whether you have many close friends and family members or are part of an organization, you are more likely to be happier and healthier. But what happens when you aren’t with your friends, you’re away from your family, you live in a new city full of unfamiliar faces where people walk by and you can feel each time that you will never see them again? What does that feel like? It is not some sort of temporary lonely feeling, rather it is a sense of cosmic loneliness that digs at every interaction you have; a base anxiety where you question if people even care for one another.

What would happen if people understood that the reason they wanted to make money, the reason they wanted the job that they had, the reason they don’t talk to each other, is all their own way to feel loved or capable of being loved? What if they knew that it is all a defense mechanism, protecting them from disappointment, building their self-esteem enough to the point where they feel like they are lovable enough? What if they knew that the local supermarket or bike store that just shut down was full not just of fruits and bicycles, but people that they could connect with? People that were part of the community? 

How is it possible for you to pass so many people in one day and not be in awe?

Is it possible, when none of your immediate friends or family are with you, when you should feel lonely, to think of everyone as your family? To see yourself as part of the human experience and to feel genuinely a part of everyone? Is it possible to feel the same way about animals? Nature? Our planet? Can our sense of belonging escape from the very finite threshold of what we call “friends and family?” I think so. But it takes a lot of work on our part.  And our rationalizing mind is right there waiting for us to slip up and tell us that it’s a stupid idea.  So maybe the first step isn’t to disregard rationalism. Maybe it should be to understand that community, feeling loved, and feeling a sense of belonging is why we’re all doing what we’re doing in the first place. With that knowledge, we can cut through the bullshit and focus on what is more important. On what is right in front of us. TC mark 

image – RD the Milkman



Forgetting The Details

It is the hardest thing in the world to be close to a person and then not to be. To know all the little things you can know about a person, how hot they like the water when they shower, whether they want their breakfast sandwich on an English muffin or sourdough, the way their voice sounds when something’s wrong and they aren’t telling you. The things that they love and the things that make them laugh and the things that piss them off. Random details from all the stories they’ve told you, from the past they’ve shared with you. To know all these things, and to keep knowing them long after they are relevant to you. The strange dissonance of knowing all of the details of someone who is no longer as important as knowing those details conveys. And it is there, in that space between what was and what is, that the pain lives.

Your brain often fails to play catch up, still alerts you to things you see that remind you them, that you want to tell them or show them because it’s something that they would think was interesting or funny. Your brain keeps pointing these things out to you long after you have the ability to share them.  It snows or you read an article about Cosmos, you drink a particularly delicious IPA or hear Ira Glass’s voice, and within seconds you are elated and then empty.  Driving in winter storms makes you think of Valentines Day and the trails by your house are where they first told you they loved you and you have to skip every Typhoon song that comes up on shuffle.  And each time this happens, each time you see or hear something and you think of them, it serves as a sharp reminder of the change, of the shift in what you were and are to each other.

It feels like when you wake from a dream with your arm extended, your hand trying to reach something that isn’t there. What you thought you were grabbing does not exist, but your hand hangs there still, outstretched, reaching, hoping to make contact. And no matter how desperately you grasp at the air, nothing will appear. What you are clutching at is gone.

You see them and it feels like some sort of dismal parallel universe where they are them and you are you and yet nothing is as it should be. Nothing is the same. You still know their details and they still know yours and yet there is a space between you, an invisible, gaping space that seems to grow with each day, a space that was never there before. All you want is to eliminate it, to make it stop aching, to go back to what existed before, but you can’t. You are standing feet away from each other and the space between you is this massive, gaping chasm.  They are right there and yet the distance is impassable. It is not the past or the present that makes it hurt, it is the difference. The palpable, glaring, expanding difference. It sucks the air out of your lungs.

You start to want to forget all the details, to make them a stranger. To un-know all that you know and forget all that you remember.  To turn away from the distance. You want to do this and you can’t. All you can do is wait. Until it burns a little less. A little less, and then a little less. TC mark 



In Defense Of Landmines

Ha, no, not the dangerous kind.

I guess I ought to have included a subtitle: “And other unwinnable games,” or something.

For the uninitiated, Landmines (or, properly styled, Light Landmines) is a relatively rudimentary game of territory negation. Alliances are formed quickly and dissolved even faster as frustrations mount and the dexterous separate themselves from the clumsy. As the game goes on the flat surface world is steadily consumed, empty aluminum cylinder by empty aluminum cylinder.

You see, as much as Landmines is a fundamental exploration of political savvy, spatial awareness, and warzone planning, it’s ultimately just a drinking game, one that takes a while to get exciting, and one without a discernable winner.

The basic structure of the game is:

  1. Spin a quarter.
  2. Drink however much you poured into a cup.
  3. Pick up the still spinning quarter with the hand you drank with.
  4. If you are unable to pick up the quarter before it stops spinning, you go again.

The caveats:

  1. When you’re halfway done with a can, you can pull the tab off and use it to throw at the spinning quarter, cup or person of an opponent. These are called “grenades.”
  2. When you’ve finished a can, you can use it as a “Landmine” and stop a quarter’s spin by placing (read: slamming) it down over the quarter. The can stays there. This is how territory is eaten up and the strategy comes in.
  3. If you spin and it hits a can but you’re still able to pick it up before it ceases to spin, you get to send a drink.

So why play? Why compete without the possibility of definitively ending up on top?

The easy answer is “Well, it’s a drinking game, so, you know, the point is to get drunk.” And sure, that’s the end game. But what about the game itself? Wouldn’t you rather spend your liver’s half-life doing something you can actually lord over someone?

You could be putting balls in cups! Or flipping the cups! Or both! Regardless, there’s head-to-head competition to be had.

Good points all. There’s certainly something to be said for having direct results to point to rather than simply continuing to exhaust resources until everyone is out of table space and/or beer. This lack of resolution or chance for pure victory, as well as how difficult is for some people to spin a quarter, really turns people off. Apparently I didn’t even like it the first few times I played. Apparently.

And yet, Landmines, once it gets going in earnest can be captivating for an entire night.

Outside of Baseball (again, the drinking version), there’s really no other game that I can get as caught up in. It’s a war of attrition. And, substances aside, the game itself is addicting. Which brings me to another technically unwinnable endeavor, freemium smart phone and tablet games like Soda, Candy and whatever else Crush and 2048.

Especially in the case of the latter, there’s no end in sight. The competition exists solely in each move and some vague notion of getting a new high score; there’s no identifiable ceiling. And, the longer you’re able to play, the longer it takes to achieve the next new multiple. In Landmines, you’re technically playing against other people, and they can have an effect on your play, but your game still exists in an almost entirely self-reliant realm that takes a while to materialize.

You wait your turn, you spin, you drink, and you start waiting for your next turn. In 2048, you move, plan your next move, try to guess which spaces will still be available with each move as you build by multiples of 2 up as high as possible. Necessary tactical planning from moment-to-moment eclipses the potentially frustrating impossibility of actually winning the game; you’re playing to win each individual battle, instead of the war at large.

It’s a hard sell. After all, even though it’s a proven recipe for a successful, self-actualizing night, convincing someone to enter into a process that may or may not lead to a satisfying conclusion is a tough thing to do. Sure, it may allow you to get a little better or a little more competent every turn or time you play, but you don’t get immediate sexy results. People apparently like immediate, sexy results.

See, without a winner, or even an immediate splash of action, the game’s process takes on a greater significance; the play-by-play becomes the end, rather than a means to it. Which, I think besides slamming cans on the hopes and dreams of others, is the appeal. TC mark 



30 Thoughts Everybody Has During A Yoga Class

1. Did she really just tell me to “find my half-pigeon”?

2. I could so be watching Gilmore Girls right now.

3. Do you think anyone can tell that my tights are from Target, not Lululemon?

4. Are all yoga teachers good in bed?

5. I should really bring my mom to this class. She’d love it.

6. When the teacher says, “Pick a focal point in front of you,” what if the guy behind me is choosing my ass as his focal point?

7. That is so typical. I hate men who just come to yoga to hit on pretty women in workout clothes.

8. Actually, my ass does look great in these tights. Clearly the guy has good taste, I should cut him some slack.

9. Maybe I’ll say “hi” to him after class.

10. What if he’s here to meet men and I’m just imagining all of this?

11. Who came up with these poses? The ancient yogis definitely did not do “happy baby.”

12. This yoga teacher seems happy and at peace. Maybe I should quit my job and teach yoga.

13. It’s weird that I haven’t checked Instagram in almost an hour.

14. I should work on my splits at home when I’m watching Netflix. How great would it be if I could do a split?

15. Will this teacher stop saying, “sit bones”?

16. I should do a 7-day yoga challenge.

17. Is it time for child’s pose?

18. If I did a 7-day yoga challenge, I wouldn’t be able to go to happy hour on Wednesday.

19. I think I’m inhaling while everyone else is exhaling.

20. I could really go for some Taco Bell right now.

21. Everyone who says yoga isn’t a workout is wrong.

22. I bet my boss is calling me right now.

23. NO! Stop thinking about work. Clear your mind.

24. I need my own special mantra.

25. Is there anything I can eat after this that will be both healthy and covered in cheese?

26. I’m proud of myself for not looking at my phone for an entire 90 minutes.

27. Ommmmmmmmmmm shanti Om.

28. “Shanti” means peace. I bet the chick next to me doesn’t know what “shanti” means.

29. I’m so much more productive than everyone else who isn’t doing yoga right now.

30. I really want one of those stretchy Lululemon headbands. I should treat myself. TC mark



14 Seemingly Little Things That Will Kill Your Relationship

Celeste and Jesse Forever
Celeste and Jesse Forever

1. Time
Time can take it’s toll on even the strongest couples, so if you weren’t that compatible to begin with, it should be no surprise that your relationship of six months (the amount of time it takes normal to become super comfortable with one another) or so is starting to fall apart.

2. Distance
Absence makes the heart grow fonder… or not at all actually. That expression is better suited for candy corn and that annoying acquaintance you realize isn’t all THAT bad once you’re forced to be around her. With most romantic couplings, “out of sight, out of mind” is a more appropriate cliché.

3. Nagging
The idea of whining each other to death conjures up images of misunderstood 50s housewives and their bored husbands, but picking at each other over and over again continues to be the downfall of many relationships. Now take the fucking trash out for once.

4. Lack Of Sex
It’s normal for there to be ebbs and flows in your bedroom life, but if you and your partner have given in to smoking pot and watching six Datelines in bed every night instead of getting it on, it’s possible that sooner enough, Keith Morrison will be the only man keeping you company at night. Although that doesn’t sound that bad. His voice is just so goddamn soothing.

5. Technology
If you’d rather be scrolling through Instagram or attempting to get three stars on level 238 of Angry Birds than talking to your signif oths, you clearly aren’t looking for the company of humans.

6. Television
You can totally bond while binging Breaking Bad or Scandal, but you can also totally check out of your relationship. Distracting yourselves with a fictional world every time you hang out instead of you know, fucking talking to each other for a change is a big sign that you don’t like where you actually are.

7. Jealousy
No one wants to be accused of “looking at her ass” or “stalking his Facebook.” These kinds of accusations are so childish it’s groan-worthy the first time you hear them, let alone if you hear them all. The. Time.

8. Pettiness
Keeping score of every fight and choosing passive aggression over adult conversation are the Hallmarks of a person destined to be alone until they get a clue.

9. Impossible Expectations
When you’re committed to one person, you have to remember that they are one PERSON—even when they show up a little late and looking like shit because they’ve been working like crazy. As long as disappointing instances and personality traits are few and far between, you’re probably just paying the price of truly getting to know someone.

10. Lack Of Consideration
Forgetting special days in your life, not making time for your friends, always picking the restaurant and movie are the habits of those who are not used to making room in their life for another person and they should be schooled if they’re willing or avoided all together.

11. Money
This doesn’t always have to be a problem between couples, but it tends to be. When one of you is paying for everything, it creates resentment on both sides. When neither of you are paying for anything… well then, you’re probably both homeless and don’t really have time for a relationship right now.

12. Joblessness
Financial stuff aside, being with someone unemployed when you’re working full time is hard to maintain. They’re broke and wanting to “hang” all the time, you’re saving some cash and running to and from the office every day. A lot of folks feel dragged down by a dynamic like that, especially if you don’t have faith that your partner is doing anything to better their situation.

13. Lack Of Boundaries
No means no and this goes for all scenarios. If you like going to bed early and your boyfriend keeps pushing you to stay up and watch conspiracy videos on YouTube, you’re going to be exhausted the next day. All of a sudden you’re underperforming at work, your place is a mess, you start falling behind on your bills and before you know it—you’re back living with your folks, working at Blockbuster. And they don’t even HAVE Blockbuster anymore! That’s how bad it is to not have boundaries! You work at a ghost store!

14. Friends/family
If you hate each other’s friends and/or families, your relationship is all but a ticking time bomb. God bless. TC mark



Racist Babies Punished For Dressing in Blackface

Perhaps inspired by this past Halloween’s rash of inappropriate blackface-based costumes, two young boys have been busted for doing the same. Left alone with their suburban father (presumably while their mother was out doing woman things), the brothers in the video above were caught covering each other head-to-toe in several different colored paints which mixed to make the color brown, which is close to black, which is not an okay color to paint your face— if you are Caucasian. The family has taken matters into their own hands, sending both children to bed without their juice. The alleged paint-thief’s are aware that they are in “big trouble” and the eldest has accepted responsibility as the “big brother.” TC mark



30 Thanksgiving Thanks

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

1. For people who encourage you to try, and want you to succeed.

2. For weirdos, dorks, loners, freaks and introverts.

3. For people who are in a battle, and scared to death, but stand and fight.

4. For people who try to arm themselves with facts.

5. For people who return phone calls, text messages and e-mails.

6. For small courtesies like holding a door, allowing others to go first, waiting patiently.

7. For nickname givers, fun lovers, warm embracers

8. For people who leave a situation better than they found it.

9. For false starts, lessons learned and near misses.

10. For truth tellers.

11. For common ground finders.

12. For spotlight shunners.

13. For party throwers.

14. For benefit of the doubters and second chance givers.

15. For appreciators.

16. For people who don’t parse words, split hairs, massage messages or spin bullshit.

17. For path pavers.

18. For defensive drivers.

19. For forgivers.

20. And forgetters.

21. For silver linings, unintended consequences, unexpected benefits.

22. For listeners.

23. For includers.

24. For optimists.

25. For think before you actors.

26. For antibiotics, antidepressants and antacids.

27. For bacon flavorers.

28. For mistake admitters.

29. For quirks, differences, weird tics, odd habits.

30. For complimenters, smokers and laughers. TC mark



Things I Learned Reading In 2014

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Some of the most important lessons we’ll learn in our lives will come from books. Some of them will be “quake books” that totally changed how we thought about everything. Some come from totally inconsequential books that possess some random fact or lesson that stays with us.

I learned a lot from the books I read in 2014. More from some than others of course, but I came away with at least one important thing from every good book I picked up this year. For the first time ever, I’m going to try to make a public accounting for some easy and clear lessons I learned.

Along those lines, here some insights that helped me over the last 12 months and hopefully will help you over the next 12.

-From Sam Sheridan’s A Fighter’s Heart and A Fighter’s Mind, I learned the difference between confidence and ego. One is earned, the other is stolen. One is healthy, the other is toxic. Also, great fighters are great because they are humble enough to be perpetual students.

-I learned that I finally need glasses. And to be proud, in a weird way, of wearing out my eyes. As Theodore Roosevelt said, we have the choice in life: to wear out or rust out.

-From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Creativity, I learned that the myth of the miserable, dysfunctional creative is almost wholly without basis. In fact, creativity requires self-awareness, well-adjustedness, and a connection to reality.

-From Bird by Bird, I loved and will always remember the line: Is life too short to put up with shit, or too short to mind it?

-From The Avengers by Rich Cohen I learned that not all Jews went passively during the Holocaust and heard the story of the fascinating and inspiring Jewish resistance movement.

-From Michael Jackson Inc., I learned that Michael Jackson was an expert in royalties and publishing and that’s how he made most of his money. I also learned that most of his weird
persona was a P.T. Barnum-esque marketing campaign. Also he was a big reader and loved the 48 Laws of Power.

-I learned so much from Tiny Beautiful Things that I wrote an article about it. But mostly: Be ten times more magnanimous than you think yourself capable of being.

-From A New Pair of Glasses, I heard about Rule 62 of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.” Also, ego = “a conscious separation from God, others and Self.”

-From Tides of War, I learned about the difference between boldness and courage. Courage is solid and self-contained. Boldness is illusion and empire. Boldness invites disaster which brings it down.

-I learned that binge reading is more fun than any other way.

-In Berg’s biography of Maxwell Perkins I learned just how much Hemingway was disturbed by Fitzgerald’s lack of discipline and enormous ego. When Hemingway can chastise you about those things, something is wrong.

-From Aristotle, I re-familiarized myself with the concept of the “Golden Mean.” Between brashness and cowardice, for example, is bravery.

-From The Will to Meaning, I learned that Viktor Frankl had a chance to avoid the Nazi death camps, but chose to stay to take care of his parents. Wow.

-From Life of Black Hawk, I learned that Americans actually paraded this captive Indian chief around like a Roman spoil of war. Terrible.

-From Here is Where, I learned that John Wilkes Booth’s brother saved the life of Lincoln’s son at a train station. I also learned the backstory of a crashed Japanese pilot in the Hawaiian islands that led to the hysteria that led to the internment of the Japanese during WWII.

-From a biography of Washington, I learned just how impressive this man really was. From Col. Roosevelt, I learned how great (again) that man was. It would be impossible in two sentences to list everything I learned from the nearly 2,000 pages that these books have between them, but wow did I learn a lot.

-From the famous book about Shackleton, I learned a wonderful Latin saying–his family motto and of course, the source of his greatness–Fortitudine vincimus (by endurance we conquer).

-From Lord Chesterfield’s Letters, I learned: “You are whatever the company you keep is.” And: “To repeat other people’s thoughts, without considering whether they are right or wrong, is the talent only of a parrot.” [something to keep in mind here!]

-From Hormegeddon, I learned how too much of a good thing leads to disaster over and over again.

-From Marcus Aurelius, each time I reread it, I was reminded how important it is to never drift too far from philosophy.

-I learned in Isaac’s Storm that the deadliest natural disaster in American history was the Galveston hurricane in 1900 and killed nearly 8,000 people. The storm surge was higher than the town was above sea level.

-I finally learned, in the middle of some forgettable book I’d been forcing myself to muddle through, how freeing it is to quit books that suck.

-There was great stuff about self-respect in Joan Didion’s book Slouching Towards Bethlehem. As she put it, “Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.”

-From Theory of Moral Sentiments, I learned that Smith wasn’t just an economic philosopher but a true philosopher of life. I also loved his concept of the “indifferent spectator” that one ought to use to judge their actions. What would they think about what you are about to do? Also, his crucial distinction between “praise” and “praiseworthiness.” [hint: the latter is what matters.]

-I learned the hard way to never put a book in the airplane seatback pocket when you get tired. You will forget it when you get off the plane and you will lose all your notes.

-From Dying Every Day, I saw how torn Seneca was between his philosophy and his Machiavellian role in politics. I related to this very deeply. I have felt this same contradiction, I imagine a lot of people have.

-From The Boys in the Boat, I learned just how fucking hard rowing is and how much of the game is mental. Also, just how Hitler-driven the 1936 Olympics were. I learned a lot from the lessons of the old school British boat maker in the book too.

-Also I learned just how many people are desperate for some speed reading shortcut. It doesn’t exist. Sorry!

-From Harold Holzer, I learned about Lincoln’s mind for media manipulation and media strategy–which our current President could use to learn from.

-As I learn every year, I was reminded that just because lots of people say a book is good doesn’t mean it is. More than that, I was humbled to find that a few books I’d dismissed as bad because everyone said they were good, were in fact quite good.

-I learned about the insane wildlife and ecosystem of the Vancouver Islands in The Golden Spruce. Loved it.

-From Austin Kleon, I was reminded of the joys and importance of showing your work. It’s not about perfecting it in a laboratory.

-From You Can’t Make Me Angry, I learned that another person can’t make you feel something. Mastering this is called “emotional sobriety.”

-From The Fat Lady Sang, I learned that Robert Evans is still alive and still in love with his own narrative. Interesting to read but also sad.

-From Marshall: Hero for Our Times, I discovered a man far too undersold in history. He was a great man, one of the best and most honorable military men we’ve ever had. In fact, most people don’t know about him because he turned down $1M to write his memoirs because telling the truth would have involved embarrassing some of his peers.

-I learned to slow down.

-From The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, I learned that the hustler, the striver, if he cannot prioritize, loses everything in the end. It is a curse, not a talent.

-From Up From Slavery, I learned how Booker T. Washington got into college by sweeping the waiting room of the registrar’s office. I learned all sorts of great lessons about organization and leadership too. The man was a force of nature.

-I don’t know how much I learned from Bo Knows Bo but I sure do like the guy.

-From Robert Louis Stevenson’s book on writing, I learned that Treasure Island was inspired by a map he drew. Everything in the book came from the map. I also learned that he loved Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and he recommended Penn’s Some Fruits of Solitude, which I loved.

-I learned about the insane history of oil in Texas in The Big Rich.

-James Altucher’s The Power of No was a good reminder in why you have to say “no” to stuff and what an important skill this actually is.

-I was super fascinated by the strategies used to kill off the non-native goat population of the Galapagos Islands in Henry Nicholls’s The Galápagos: A Natural History. Hint: the used a “judas goat.”

-I learned about the Korean War in The Coldest Winter. How MacArthur lost and won the war and how Ridgeway navigated the insane political situation he was put in to salvage the damage that MacArthur’s ego had done.

-From MacArthur’s memoir, I learned that his father, Arthur MacArthur, was a Civil War hero. Gives you a different perspective on history–that a leading WWII officer was the immediate descendent of a Civil War officer.

-From a book about Nellie Bly, I learned so much about this inspiring and brave female journalist.

-From Erik Prince’s memoir, I learned how inexcusably dependent we have been on government contractors to wage our foreign wars.

-I am in love with a great line from Emerson’s Representative Men: Seven Lectures, that for all the initial glory, Napoleon’s accomplishments “disappeared like the smoke from one of his artillery guns.”

-Learned all I can stomach about high-frequency trading in Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys.

-I learned that Moby Dick was based on a true story in In The Heart of the Sea. I also learned a lot about whaling which I found to be fascinating.

-I found that old biographies are almost always more dependable and better than newly published ones.

-From Ben Horowitz, I learned the hard thing about hard things. I learned how to make a way when there is no way.

-From It’s Kind of a Funny Story, I learned about depression. What it really is and really feels like. I don’t think I’ve seen it done better in a book.

-I learned that Amazon’s Buy Back/Trade In program is a great way to get rid of books you don’t want.


A couple of the books listed here have made my relationship with my fiancée/wife much better. Others have made me decent money. The point is: there is so much evidence about what a good investment books are. The more you put in, the more you get out.

Multi scire volunt sed vere discere nolunt (many want to know but in fact they refuse to learn).

So read a book man!

If you want some more recommendations, sign up for the reading recommendation email. Or check out some book lists that have been published on Thought Catalog below. TC mark