When people ask me what my favorite book is, Dune is always my answer. Words cannot even do justice to what an epic tale this is. We learn about spiriWhen people ask me what my favorite book is, Dune is always my answer. Words cannot even do justice to what an epic tale this is. We learn about spirituality, human nature, politics, religion, and the making of a hero.
I loved the spiritual aspects of the book the best. The philosophies and practices and Pranu Bindu training of the Bene Gesserit that Paul learns and builds upon. The Bene Gesserit believe in a training regiment that results in a superior human being - one with every sense as refined as possible. This means a focus on learning, on controlling emotion, on controlling your body.
My absolute favorite quote from Dune is the Bene Gesserit litany against fear:
The litany is meant to be recited when you are in a moment of fear, and as I first read Dune 20 years ago, I've employed it many times. After Paul employs it when he is fighting Jamis, the affect on him is described as "a cool bath washing over him. He felt muscles untie themselves, become poised and ready." I have read a lot about people who perform at high levels - whether it be in athletics or business, and success is all about getting into that zen state where you have a clear, focused mind. Fear is the biggest thing that can cloud one's mind - usually fear of failure, but there are other forms too. While this Litany won't always eliminate it, I've felt it to be useful to recognize the fear and call it out for what it is.
There is also a focus in the book on being able to read people by paying attention to the minutia. In many crucial scenes we see Paul and Jessica and others employing this skill, using not only their eyes, but reading the tone of what a person says, what their body language or actions say, and more. Imagine the poker player I could be if I learned these skills!
It's interesting to me that so many science fiction novels contemplate a future with AI (aka post-singularity). In Dune, the Butlerian Jihad was the human rebellion to rid itself of AI or "thinking machines". They are now banned, and in their place we have Mentats, who are humans with processing powers far greater than any thinking machine. It's unclear to the software engineer in me how exactly that could be without some sort of physical manipulation (insertion of massive amounts of transistors, for instance), but the affect is pretty cool, we get Spock-esque beings who analyze everything extremely logically, and are great at political planning "feints within feints within feints".
There was a lot in the book about leadership. It started with Paul first learning about it from his Father, and also from the Bene Gesserit. This quote stood out to me:
Much has been made in modern reviews of Dune of the fact that it's clearly a statement about oil and the Middle East. The book even admits the Fremen are of Sunni descent, and many words they use (Jinn, Jihad, etc) are Arabic. I'm not sure I understand all the undertones, but one thing that was clear was about control of the worlds most precious commodity: "The people who can destroy a thing, they control it." I hope we are closing in on the end of the days when oil controls so much, but we aren't there yet. In the meantime, we had best beware of any future Harkonnen's. ...more
One of the best books on leadership I've read. Many people struggle to articulate what leadership really is. This book put a more fine point on it, suOne of the best books on leadership I've read. Many people struggle to articulate what leadership really is. This book put a more fine point on it, suggesting that leadership is creating change. The author likes the word "adaptive change". Once a solution to an issue has been accepted and is in motion, it becomes a management issue - a matter of execution - not a leadership issue. Creating change is not easy:
An important point the book made was people can generally only stand so much change at a time. So you have to limit the amount of change you are creating at any given point. A leader also helps people get through the change. They have to acknowledge the change and that it will be difficult, and convincingly paint the picture of why it's worth going through.
Another good concept was that of finding the "orienting value", and finding ways to drive it home and constantly remind people of it. For instance, Roosevelts New Deal or MLK's I Have A Dream speech. Create an image that people can latch onto and keep repeating that everywhere.
Sometimes, conflict has to be worked out among constituents instead of having a solution dictated. I loved the story about Scottie Pippen disobeying Phil Jackson, and then Jackson saying to the team What happened has hurt us. Now you have to work this out. and then leaving the room. Solutions are often achieved when the people with the problem go through the process of creating the solution together.
I liked how the book got into the deeper meaning of life in the end. I've always believed that people need purpose in life, and the authors confirmed that, but warned against getting too wedded to one particular purpose. A useful reminder that the person makes the purpose, not the other way around. We can love our jobs, but it's dangerous to let them define us....more
Read this on Graham's recommendation, and it was *fascinating* to hear it from the man himself. Tesla was famous for inventing alternating current (ACRead this on Graham's recommendation, and it was *fascinating* to hear it from the man himself. Tesla was famous for inventing alternating current (AC), which is used in every house and electric motor today. He was a famous scientist of his time, and supposedly there was some rift with him and Edison. It appears actually that Tesla sold his patents and the company that bought them sued everyone else, causing his name to be associated with the suits, even though he wasn't really involved. Tesla is also known for being a little too eccentric later in his career, trying to invent things that were impossible like wireless power.
I found this book a really good read, because Tesla is a character, and not a bad writer! He tells a lot of stories of his childhood, which were a very interesting glimpse into a great mind.
One part I liked was when Tesla was expounding on his personal philosophy of health, or 'focusing on himself'. He was frequently ill and overworked, and had to spend a lot of time working on his health. At one point he says of coffee and tea "These delicious beverages superexcite and gradually exhaust the fine fibers of the brain. They also interfere seriously with arterial circulation and should be enjoyed all the more sparingly as their deleterious effects are slow and imperceptible." He then goes on to say "The truth about this is that we need stimulants to do our best work under present living conditions, and that we must exercise moderation and control our appetites and inclinations in every direction." I think this is my new philosophy.
Tesla was also a believer that he who works harder will be successful. As someone who is starting a company (Goodreads), I'm starting to have a big appreciation for those who can believe in an idea against all odds, when everyone else believes it can't be done. It takes a special kind of person - one driven by passion in their ideas. Tesla's work schedule from college is also inspiring - he would work in the lab from 10am until 5am the next day. I've often heard lots of genius's haven't needed much sleep - I wish I could do that!...more
This is the only poker book I read, but it came very highly recommended and it didn't disappoint. It helped me transition from a total newbie to an abThis is the only poker book I read, but it came very highly recommended and it didn't disappoint. It helped me transition from a total newbie to an above average newbie. I especially liked all the example hands in the book - helped a lot!...more
I remember reading this on Greg's recommendation. It was pretty good overall, just had lots of parts where the author felt it necessary to devote entiI remember reading this on Greg's recommendation. It was pretty good overall, just had lots of parts where the author felt it necessary to devote entire pages to decriptions of nature. But to get a glimpse of the life of a surf-bum its a pretty good read. Paints a much different picture than Spicoli......more
After reading The Wealthy Barber, I figured I could use some more concrete advice on my financial affairs. This book was a good starting place - nothiAfter reading The Wealthy Barber, I figured I could use some more concrete advice on my financial affairs. This book was a good starting place - nothing revolutionary, but pointed you in the right direction....more
This was a great book for programmers to read. It had a lot of very general, yet very useful advice for programmers. I loved the broken window theoryThis was a great book for programmers to read. It had a lot of very general, yet very useful advice for programmers. I loved the broken window theory of programming. Malcolm Gladwell argues the same theory cured New York's crime wave in the 90's in Blink...more
Almost every surfer I know has recommended this, so I finally read it. I've never really found a surf book I liked, but this was closest. I'm not sureAlmost every surfer I know has recommended this, so I finally read it. I've never really found a surf book I liked, but this was closest. I'm not sure if the author and I would have been surf buddies (he's 50, a longboarder, picks fights, and used to run drugs), but he's definitely a great story-teller. And his adventures traveling from Mexico to Costa Rica are a trip. He does a great job weaving in stories from his younger days, stories of his pot smuggling days, and stories of his journey to make a very good beach read. I loved hearing the stories of all the people he meets - half the expats down south are 'on the run' - and have great stories :)
Aside from the good storytelling I felt there was depressing undertone to the book, as if the author was never quite satisfied with his life regardless of what happened to him. This makes sense I suppose given he's kinda having a midlife crisis - but it didn't amp me up with enthusiasm for life. But on the positive side, it did gave me a strong thirst to explore central america soon - and to go surfing :) ...more
**spoiler alert** The conclusion to the epic of Hyperion, and a worthy one at that. I loved this series, and didn't expect I'd find the love story of**spoiler alert** The conclusion to the epic of Hyperion, and a worthy one at that. I loved this series, and didn't expect I'd find the love story of Aenea and Raul so powerful.
In two words, this series was about evolution and love.
The Hyperion story is Yet Another Science Fiction Story About Artificial Intelligence (YASFSAAI) - but it's a damn good one, and more thought out and intricate than any I've ever seen. The Core is split into factions - the TODO - that fight and war amongst themselves, much as humans do.
The Core evolved from people. Core entities lacked empathy - or the ability to love - and were thus never able to evolve past being a parasite on humanity. (view spoiler)[The farcaster network was their first parasitic approach, the cruciforms were their second. (hide spoiler)]
It's kind of sad that the Catholic Church is the evil character in the book. But is equally clear that after a great traumatic event like the Fall of the Farcasters, humanity turns to fear and uncertainty, and thus to religion. Unfortunately, the people in charge of that religion are the wrong sort, whose goal is power rather than the good of humanity.
The curiously named "Void Which Binds" is the true all-encompassing force in the universe. It is described in the following quotes:
The one thing I never understood about this series is the Shrike. Why does he exist? In earlier books he's an evil entity. And now we learn something more about his relationship with Colonel Kassad, but not enough to explain his presence or why Aenea is able to rein him in - he almost becomes a good guy.
The thing I love most about this book, is that the true path, which Aenea is leading humanity on, can only be explained as a love story. Her and Raul's love is a worthy and necessary ending to The Cantos.
**spoiler alert** Just finished this and have to say I really enjoyed it. I was kind of worried the plot wasn't going anywhere for much of it, but the**spoiler alert** Just finished this and have to say I really enjoyed it. I was kind of worried the plot wasn't going anywhere for much of it, but the writing was really good and drew me in.
For much of the book I thought the main character (Richard) was too weak of a character for me to like much, but I liked how he grew in confidence towards the end. I think anytime one undertake's an adventure or a journey like that you grow so much. You have to get out there and fail a few times to have the confidence to know how to succeed!
I also have to say I loved Mister Croup and Mister Vandemar. Their dialogue and interaction was hilarious. It really reminded me of Mister Wint and Mister Kidd from James Bond's Diamonds are Forever. ...more
Another book by my uncle! I picked this up one afternoon at my other uncle's house, and spent several hours learning about the history of the company.Another book by my uncle! I picked this up one afternoon at my other uncle's house, and spent several hours learning about the history of the company. Fascinating stuff. It has been my dream since I was little to have a Porche - hopefully someday I will!...more
I read this on a plane, and dogeared about 10 of the recipes for later inspection. Those people on the edge of Rails move fast, and this was a great wI read this on a plane, and dogeared about 10 of the recipes for later inspection. Those people on the edge of Rails move fast, and this was a great way to keep on top of things. Not to mention it looks like it will save a ton of time, as it solves a lot of common problems for you!...more