I started off the new year of reading with some philosophy. After reading Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, I began to read The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought by Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff. This book was the next one on my Ayn Rand to-do list, and it was a collection of published essays and lectures she and Peikoff gave to students and businessmen.
My favorite essay was “Apollo 11,” where her infectiously enthusiastic writing describing her witnessing the shuttle launch made me feel the pride and excitement shared by the entire American population that day. I loved her descriptions of how hard working, dedicated, and thoughtful all the scientists and staff of the mission were. This was a perfect, extremely visual example of the power of man’s mind and productivity to shape his life and the world around him through reason and hard work.
I also really liked the essay, “Medicine: The Death of a Profession,” which explained through some very poignant examples how government involvement in healthcare is strangling doctors and hurting the care of patients, especially those that the government is claiming to help.
Finally, I greatly enjoyed the Epilogue, “My 30 Years With Ayn Rand,” because it gave me a brief glimpse into what it would’ve been like to hang out with her and hear her talk about philosophy off the cuff, something I can’t really sense from her polished writing.
Overall, it was a really interesting read and has given me a lot of food for thought.
2013 was a very busy year. I read a lot of interesting books and had a lot of brand new experiences. I wanted to briefly capture the spirit of the year and mention some of my favorite memories.
1. Antifragile: Eye-opening combination of philosophy, classical wisdom, biology, finance, and entrepreneurship. It now colors how I look at everything.
2. Fooling Houdini: Really fun read for a magician and fan of psychology.
3. The Big Short: Interesting back stories and great inside peek at a lot of the mortgage meltdown craziness.
There is so much mystery and magic in the world around us. There is no need for something supernatural or out of this world to impress or inspire; just look around you at people and nature, and that will be the greatest source of awe. I love how magic can recreate this experience of awe and wonder in a controlled setting and reignite curiosity in others.
When I went dolphin watching in Moorea, I learned how fascinating these beautiful creatures are. My mind was blown when I learned that dolphins breathe totally consciously and need to sleep one hemisphere of their brain at a time as they continue to consciously swim and breathe with the other hemisphere. Now if that doesn't show you how freaking cool science, nature, and reality are, then I don't know what will.
I also learned how critical practice and diligent craftsmanship are to creating the results you want for yourself. I want to take pride in what I do and produce, and that comes with really hard work and lots of practice doing things that are not very glamorous.
Things that were good
I tried lots of new things and opened myself up to tons of new experiences. That was really fun for me. I also achieved a number of my goals, like successfully ramping up with Google and passing my Castle audition.
Things that were bad
I slacked off in some of my relationships and could've done better to keep in touch with close friends. I also overstretched myself and didn't go deep enough in the areas that showed promise. I also rushed myself too often and failed to stop and smell the flowers sufficiently. I also failed to push forward my exercise and physical training regimen as much as I would've liked.
Focus on a few critical areas. Time to go deep. Set some ambitious goals in a couple areas and work towards them. No excuses on health-related goals. Invest the time to build and strengthen some new friendships I've been starting to cultivate. Do a few things that will let me find myself and my next big projects in life.
I really enjoyed reading The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande about the frequency of medical errors and how medicine can learn a lot from other professions that employ the checklist as a critical tool. So I knew I would want to read his other books, including Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, which I just finished.
Unlike Checklist, this book focuses purely on medicine, and surgery in particular, but I found its lesson to be applicable more broadly. Specifically, he uses the field of surgery as an example of work that is difficult and uncertain but in which there are clear distinctions between worse and better performers.
Below are my notes on the book. It was really interesting to read the stories of how differently medicine is practiced throughout the world and how different lessons can carry over. I do hope that the world of medical performance becomes more transparent for patients, as he advocates in this book.