The Expanse: Season 5: 12/16/20


This post is by Valet from Feld Thoughts

In the category of all of this has happened before, and will happen again.

I read The Legend of Bagger Vance yesterday and then watched the movie last night. The book is much better than the movie, and the book is really, really good, even if you don’t care about golf at all. And, since I don’t care about golf, I am comfortable stating that the book is excellent.

My journey to the book was via Seth Godin’s new book, The Practice: Shipping Creative Work, which is worth reading every page. That led me to Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art – also outstanding. And, then I realized I’d never read anything by Pressfield, and up came The Legend of Bagger Vance, which rang a bell.

I’ve resisted reading James S. A. Corey’s books in The Expanse series. I’ve enjoyed the TV show so much that doubling back on the books seemed unnecessary. Yet, as I get ready to read Ready Player Two, I’m going to watch the Ready Player One movie again to freshen up my memory of it all.

The threads through all of the stories repeatedly repeat in our search for meaning as human beings. Recently, as I’ve been thinking about the future and trying to live in both 2025 and 2040 as thought experiments, several of the threads have jumped out at me as one’s that run through time. And, while reading The Legend of Bagger Vance, I became intertwined with one of these threads with time folding back on itself. While looking for meaning around what I had read, I found George Kimball’s review of the movie Bagger’s three-ball plays with history:

Personally, I also consider Bagger Vance a sacrilege, though I’d have been a lot less bothered if they’d just let Damon play his silly match against two fictional opponents. By attempting to squeeze Hagen and Jones into roles meant for a couple of Punjabi armies, the film-makers have managed to offend the sensibilities of anyone who has studied, or cared about, the traditions and history of the game.

Ah, how we try to give meaning to this thing called life. Time for a run.

The post The Expanse: Season 5: 12/16/20 appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Tony Hsieh


This post is by Jo Tango from jtangoVC.com

I never met Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”). But we were in an investment together decades ago, before there was a Zappos, before he was famous, and during the Dot-Com Bubble. When I was working on an investment (Ask Jeeves, which went IPO), I saw “Venture Frogs” listed on the cap table. I asked Rob Wrubel,

The post Tony Hsieh appeared first on jtangoVC.com.

Book: Becoming Monday


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

I read G. W. Constable’s near term sci-fi book Becoming Monday. If you are a fan of near term sci-fi, AGI, or the singularity, go get a copy right now – you’ll love it.

I woke up in a customer service booth. Or perhaps more accurately, since I couldn’t remember a damn thing, my new existence began in that booth. If you’re born in hell, does that make you a bad person?

It took me about ten pages to get my bearings, which is pretty fast for a book like this.

Moon cut in. “I get where you’re coming from, Grog, but I’m not convinced that fear and control is a good start or foundation for inter-species relations.”

While the deep topics are predictable, Constable addresses them freshly, with great character development, and an evolving AGI who is deliciously anthropomorphized.

Trying to translate the communication between two computational intelligences into linear, human-readable text is nearly impossible, but my closest simplification would be this:

Diablo-CI: I have been observing the humans that have come with you / What are you / why have you broken into my facility

Me: I am a computational intelligence like you / how are you sentient and still allowed to run a NetPol facility / the other computational intelligences are isolated on your 7th floor / we are here to free them

Diablo-CI: I cannot stop security procedures. If you trigger an active alert I will be forced to take action / I am unable to override core directives even if I would choose.

Like all good books in this genre, it wanders up to the edge. Multiple times. And, it’s not clear how it’s going to resolve, until it does.

The back cover summary covers the liminal state and the acceleration out of it.

Humanity exists in an in-between state. Artificial intelligence has transformed the world, but artificial sentience has remained out of reach. When it arrives, it arrives slowly – until all of a sudden, things move very fast, no least for the AI caught up in the mess.

Well done G. W. Constable.

The post Book: Becoming Monday appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Book: Becoming Monday


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

I read G. W. Constable’s near term sci-fi book Becoming Monday. If you are a fan of near term sci-fi, AGI, or the singularity, go get a copy right now – you’ll love it.

I woke up in a customer service booth. Or perhaps more accurately, since I couldn’t remember a damn thing, my new existence began in that booth. If you’re born in hell, does that make you a bad person?

It took me about ten pages to get my bearings, which is pretty fast for a book like this.

Moon cut in. “I get where you’re coming from, Grog, but I’m not convinced that fear and control is a good start or foundation for inter-species relations.”

While the deep topics are predictable, Constable addresses them freshly, with great character development, and an evolving AGI who is deliciously anthropomorphized.

Trying to translate the communication between two computational intelligences into linear, human-readable text is nearly impossible, but my closest simplification would be this:

Diablo-CI: I have been observing the humans that have come with you / What are you / why have you broken into my facility

Me: I am a computational intelligence like you / how are you sentient and still allowed to run a NetPol facility / the other computational intelligences are isolated on your 7th floor / we are here to free them

Diablo-CI: I cannot stop security procedures. If you trigger an active alert I will be forced to take action / I am unable to override core directives even if I would choose.

Like all good books in this genre, it wanders up to the edge. Multiple times. And, it’s not clear how it’s going to resolve, until it does.

The back cover summary covers the liminal state and the acceleration out of it.

Humanity exists in an in-between state. Artificial intelligence has transformed the world, but artificial sentience has remained out of reach. When it arrives, it arrives slowly – until all of a sudden, things move very fast, no least for the AI caught up in the mess.

Well done G. W. Constable.

The post Book: Becoming Monday appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Books! Books! Books!


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

Paul Kedrosky’s Charts Newsletter had this wonderful graphic highlighting the increasing woes of traditional media formats, thanks to millennials and GenZ. However, things don’t look bad for one category: books.

Kids (and older kids) are still reading books at a decent clip, and perhaps will continue to do so, mostly it is a good antidote to the fractionalized and noisy media environment. This is such a huge opportunity for innovation around the “book” format.

With digital book formats and the rise of audiobooks, there is an opportunity to make books more in sync with the new audience. For start, books could be leaner — most books are about 50 percent overweight. They could be published faster — the current cycle takes somewhere between 18-to-24 months before a book is available to the readers. My ideal book — given my millennial like attention span — is one that takes an equivalent of a flight across the country.

The old fashioned paper books have one problem — they take up too much space. I grapple with that issue all the time — I have too many books and need to give some away!

November 13, 2020, San Francisco

Business Books and Podcasts


This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

I’m not a fan of business books. I find that you get most of the value from them in the opening chapter and then it is a lot of repetition from then on.

But there are some great concepts that one can glean from business books and I’ve often wanted to find an efficient way to do that without buying the book and reading one chapter.

Podcasts to the rescue. Most business book writers go on a podcast tour in order to promote their book. All you need to do is find your favorite interviewer on the podcast tour and listen to that one. That’s generally thirty to forty-five minutes and you will get everything you need from the book and maybe more.

As an aside, this is a classic example of the promotional effort cannabalizing the product itself.

Fortunately great writers don’t need to worry about this. I will always choose to read the words of a great writer over listening to them on a podcast. But there aren’t many great writers putting out business books. They write novels or big ambitious works of non-fiction. Which I prefer to read on a Kindle or in print.


USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — Oct 2, 2020
USV Algorand Transparency Statement, Q3 2020

Rebecca Kaden — Oct 1, 2020
Sora

September Reading


This post is by Caterina Fake from Caterina.net

My September reading was not quite as strenuous as last month, given that I read Middlemarch in August, from which I am still feeling the glow of accomplishment and the sense of its infinite depths.

Here you’ll see just one masterpiece–Austerlitz–and two books I didn’t quite finish, that I skimmed and eventually put down. Those are How to Disappear and Torpor. I had enjoyed the quirky, downbeat, emphatically loserly style of Kraus’s other books, I Love Dick and Aliens and Anorexia, but maybe the grimness of the times we’re living through made it impossible for me to make it through this one, which included a tour through Romania to adopt an orphan, and an accounting of the horrific abuse and neglect so many babies and children suffered under the Ceausescu regime. But though A Girl Returned was also the story of an abandoned child–in this case an adopted child “returned” to her birth family, which also had its horrific moments, it was redeemed by the love she found with her birth sister Adriana, and a childhood friend, Patrizia, and a reconciliation of sorts with her adoptive mother. And the girl’s insistence on taking her own life back after she had been thrown among strangers.

Austerlitz is a book I read often. Sometimes I linger in bookstores, browsing the “S” section, wishing a new Sebald book would magically appear, though it never will. So I read the existing ones over and over and over, each time they seem as if I had never read them before, except maybe The Emigrants, my favorite, which I almost have memorized.

Weather, much lauded, much recommended, seemed like it had been partly derived from other people’s work. I recognized some of the (unattributed) podcasts and articles she’d gotten the material from. As such, I couldn’t ally myself with the book; I was already allied with the original material. But I liked the paragraph – paragraph – paragraph style. And the rest–art criticism and Jungian psychology. Now, I am reading myths.

September Reading


This post is by Caterina Fake from Caterina.net

My September reading was not quite as strenuous as last month, given that I read Middlemarch in August, from which I am still feeling the glow of accomplishment, a loathing of Casaubon and a sense of infinite depths.

Here you’ll see just one masterpiece–Austerlitz–and two books I didn’t quite finish, that I skimmed and eventually put down. Those are How to Disappear and Torpor. I had enjoyed the quirky, downbeat, pathetic style of Kraus’s other books, I Love Dick and Aliens and Anorexia, but the grimness of the times we’re living through made it impossible for me to make it through this one, which included a tour through Romania to adopt an orphan, and an accounting of the horrific abuse and neglect babies and children suffered under the Ceausescu regime. But though A Girl Returned was also the story of an abandoned child–in this case an adopted child “returned” to her birth family, which also had its horrific moments—it was redeemed by the love she found with her birth sister Adriana, a childhood friend, Patrizia, and a reconciliation of sorts with her adoptive mother. And the girl’s insistence on taking her own life back after she had been thrown among strangers.

Austerlitz is a book I read often. Sometimes I linger in bookstores, browsing the “S” section, hoping a new Sebald book would appear, like manna. Since it won’t, I read the existing ones over and over and over and each time they seem as if I had never read them before. Except The Emigrants, my favorite, which I almost have memorized.

Weather, much lauded, much recommended, had been partly derived from other people’s work. I recognized some of the (unattributed) podcasts and articles she’d gotten the material from. As such, I couldn’t ally myself with the book; I was already allied with the original material. But I liked the paragraph – paragraph – paragraph style.

And the rest of September’s reading? art criticism and Jungian psychology. Now, I am reading myths.

13 Books You Need to Read This Fall


This post is by WIRED Staff from Feed: All Latest

New movies are few; new TV is fast diminishing. Here are the books we think you should pick up instead.

The Madness of Susanna Clarke, Fairy Princess


This post is by Jason Kehe from Feed: All Latest

After more than a decade away, the author is back with ‘Piranesi,’ a way to communicate the incommunicable.

Book: Portrait of Resilience


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

Daniel Jackson created a magnificent book. It’s a combination of three things: 1) Extraordinary personal stories about 2) The struggle with mental health, anxiety, and depression while 3) at MIT.

MIT is a foundational part of my life. I spent seven years there. I got into graduate school in my fourth year and got into a Ph.D. program in my fifth year. I also started three companies while I was there – the first failed after my sophomore year, the second failed after my junior year, but the third turned into Feld Technologies, which was my first successful company.

I vividly remember my first major depressive episode. It was 1990. My first marriage had fallen apart. My company was doing fine, but I was bored with the work. I knew my Ph.D. journey was doomed, but I hadn’t accepted it yet.

While I had theoretically experienced failure, none had felt very personal up to this point. When I flashback to MIT undergraduate failure, it was dropping out of courses like 18.701, which I had no business taking when I did. Or it was getting a 20 on my first 8.01 test, only to find out a few days later that class average was a 32.

But the failures in 1990 were real and personal. I had a fantasy about my first marriage, which was also my first adult relationship (which had started in high school.) My divorce obliterated that fantasy. I had created a narrative about myself, if only in my head, that I was an overachiever at the youngest possible age – my company, my Ph.D., my marriage. When the second of those, the Ph.D. blew up, a deep depression ensued.

I was lucky – I had three people in my life who showed up for me in profound ways. The first was my Ph.D. advisor, Eric von Hippel, who protected me from the worst of what could have been the emotional fallout from MIT while providing me with the best he could as a paternalist-non-parent. The next was my now wife, Amy Batchelor, who knew I was depressed, called it out, and encouraged and supported me through understanding what was going on. Finally, my business partner, Dave Jilk, showed up as a partner every day. I don’t think he understood what I was going through or what to do, but what he did was what I needed.

That was almost 30 years ago.

Depression can be a fiendishly challenging thing that some us call the black dog. Today, when it shows up, I pet it on the head, talk nicely to it, and encourage it to find somewhere else to play. But, for a while in my 20s, it took up residence in my dark, opaque box, which spent a lot of time in a 24,000 cubic foot apartment at 15 Sleeper Street and eventually migrated to 127 Bay State Road. At some point, the black dog got bored of that apartment and went somewhere else for a while.

Reading this book made me wish this book existed then. I remember feeling incredibly alone at MIT, in Boston, and the world. Once I acknowledged to myself that I was depressed, I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world who was depressed. But I was so terrified about it and felt so much stigma and shame around my depression that I built a dark, opaque box around myself and only let a few people in during that time. If this book had existed, I would have looked at the photos, read the stories, and realized both that I wasn’t alone and that I eventually could be ok.

The post Book: Portrait of Resilience appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Book: Portrait of Resilience


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

Daniel Jackson created a magnificent book. It’s a combination of three things: 1) Extraordinary personal stories about 2) The struggle with mental health, anxiety, and depression while 3) at MIT.

MIT is a foundational part of my life. I spent seven years there. I got into graduate school in my fourth year and got into a Ph.D. program in my fifth year. I also started three companies while I was there – the first failed after my sophomore year, the second failed after my junior year, but the third turned into Feld Technologies, which was my first successful company.

I vividly remember my first major depressive episode. It was 1990. My first marriage had fallen apart. My company was doing fine, but I was bored with the work. I knew my Ph.D. journey was doomed, but I hadn’t accepted it yet.

While I had theoretically experienced failure, none had felt very personal up to this point. When I flashback to MIT undergraduate failure, it was dropping out of courses like 18.701, which I had no business taking when I did. Or it was getting a 20 on my first 8.01 test, only to find out a few days later that class average was a 32.

But the failures in 1990 were real and personal. I had a fantasy about my first marriage, which was also my first adult relationship (which had started in high school.) My divorce obliterated that fantasy. I had created a narrative about myself, if only in my head, that I was an overachiever at the youngest possible age – my company, my Ph.D., my marriage. When the second of those, the Ph.D. blew up, a deep depression ensued.

I was lucky – I had three people in my life who showed up for me in profound ways. The first was my Ph.D. advisor, Eric von Hippel, who protected me from the worst of what could have been the emotional fallout from MIT while providing me with the best he could as a paternalist-non-parent. The next was my now wife, Amy Batchelor, who knew I was depressed, called it out, and encouraged and supported me through understanding what was going on. Finally, my business partner, Dave Jilk, showed up as a partner every day. I don’t think he understood what I was going through or what to do, but what he did was what I needed.

That was almost 30 years ago.

Depression can be a fiendishly challenging thing that some us call the black dog. Today, when it shows up, I pet it on the head, talk nicely to it, and encourage it to find somewhere else to play. But, for a while in my 20s, it took up residence in my dark, opaque box, which spent a lot of time in a 24,000 cubic foot apartment at 15 Sleeper Street and eventually migrated to 127 Bay State Road. At some point, the black dog got bored of that apartment and went somewhere else for a while.

Reading this book made me wish this book existed then. I remember feeling incredibly alone at MIT, in Boston, and the world. Once I acknowledged to myself that I was depressed, I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world who was depressed. But I was so terrified about it and felt so much stigma and shame around my depression that I built a dark, opaque box around myself and only let a few people in during that time. If this book had existed, I would have looked at the photos, read the stories, and realized both that I wasn’t alone and that I eventually could be ok.

The post Book: Portrait of Resilience appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Peter Strzok Has a Warning About Russia—and Trump


This post is by Garrett M. Graff from Feed: All Latest

In an interview with WIRED and in his new book, the former FBI agent details the threats the US faces as the 2020 election looms.

Book: Celebrating Entrepreneurs


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

My long-time friend and former MIT professor, Professor Edward Roberts, who founded and still chairs the MIT entrepreneurship program, recently published “Celebrating Entrepreneurs: How MIT Nurtured Pioneering Entrepreneurs Who Built Great Companies”.

The book is fascinating, especially its five chapters filled with in-depth interviews and background on the MIT “spinoff startups” that became the leaders of: the life sciences and biotechnology industry, the Internet, from CAD-CAM to robotics, and even “modern finance”, plus a host of other companies, including such recent successes as HubSpot, Okta and PillPack, all founded and led by MIT alums.

Chapter 11 is the one on Modern Finance. Who said professors at MIT didn’t have a sense of humor. Having known Ed for 35 years, he has a wicked one.

It has taken 50 years to transform MIT from its unique historic traditions to today’s recognition that forming new innovation-based companies is indeed the most powerful source of impact upon the world. In his praise for the book, MIT President Rafael Reif exclaims: “An entrepreneurship tornado continues to blow at MIT. The energy of entrepreneurship rises through our classrooms, labs, and centers. It is central to who we are as an institution for 50 years of extraordinary achievement.”

The first half of the book focuses upon MIT’s history of creating from scratch what they lovingly call the “MIT Entrepreneurial Ecosystem”. Much of what MIT has done has been literally copied by other institutions worldwide. Still more universities, regions, and countries have adopted MIT’s approaches as needed to fit their own surroundings.

Structured in two parts, the book first showcases how the unique atmosphere at MIT encourages its innovative entrepreneurs to thrive. Then, with in-depth coverage of the founders and companies that pioneered four industries—biotechnology, the Internet, from CAD-CAM to robotics, and modern finance—plus many other successful firms, Ed analyzes how MIT’s most successful entrepreneurs have capitalized on that environment and culture to build companies that have lasted for decades. Both internal and external to MIT, the founders of these organizations and companies tell their own stories, describing their motivations, challenges, and outcomes.

The opening cover page says clearly that all author royalties will be donated directly to endowment funds that support the MIT-wide entrepreneurship programs. Buy the book to learn more about the history and evolution of entrepreneurship at MIT while helping foster future entrepreneurs.

The post Book: Celebrating Entrepreneurs appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Book: Celebrating Entrepreneurs


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

My long-time friend and former MIT professor, Professor Edward Roberts, who founded and still chairs the MIT entrepreneurship program, recently published “Celebrating Entrepreneurs: How MIT Nurtured Pioneering Entrepreneurs Who Built Great Companies”.

The book is fascinating, especially its five chapters filled with in-depth interviews and background on the MIT “spinoff startups” that became the leaders of: the life sciences and biotechnology industry, the Internet, from CAD-CAM to robotics, and even “modern finance”, plus a host of other companies, including such recent successes as HubSpot, Okta and PillPack, all founded and led by MIT alums.

Chapter 11 is the one on Modern Finance. Who said professors at MIT didn’t have a sense of humor. Having known Ed for 35 years, he has a wicked one.

It has taken 50 years to transform MIT from its unique historic traditions to today’s recognition that forming new innovation-based companies is indeed the most powerful source of impact upon the world. In his praise for the book, MIT President Rafael Reif exclaims: “An entrepreneurship tornado continues to blow at MIT. The energy of entrepreneurship rises through our classrooms, labs, and centers. It is central to who we are as an institution for 50 years of extraordinary achievement.”

The first half of the book focuses upon MIT’s history of creating from scratch what they lovingly call the “MIT Entrepreneurial Ecosystem”. Much of what MIT has done has been literally copied by other institutions worldwide. Still more universities, regions, and countries have adopted MIT’s approaches as needed to fit their own surroundings.

Structured in two parts, the book first showcases how the unique atmosphere at MIT encourages its innovative entrepreneurs to thrive. Then, with in-depth coverage of the founders and companies that pioneered four industries—biotechnology, the Internet, from CAD-CAM to robotics, and modern finance—plus many other successful firms, Ed analyzes how MIT’s most successful entrepreneurs have capitalized on that environment and culture to build companies that have lasted for decades. Both internal and external to MIT, the founders of these organizations and companies tell their own stories, describing their motivations, challenges, and outcomes.

The opening cover page says clearly that all author royalties will be donated directly to endowment funds that support the MIT-wide entrepreneurship programs. Buy the book to learn more about the history and evolution of entrepreneurship at MIT while helping foster future entrepreneurs.

The post Book: Celebrating Entrepreneurs appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

August Reading


This post is by Caterina Fake from Caterina.net

The stand out here, was of course, Middlemarch. I had read it in college and remember thinking to myself, “am I really going to expend my youth reading about agricultural practices in 19th century rural England?” But of course, it is so much more. Many people have called it the greatest English novel, and, to disprove this opinion, I would have to read a whole lot more English novels. So I provisionally agree. 

Last month’s reading of Falkner required the antidote of Morrison, and I read her essays, and her first novel The Bluest Eye.  Also of undisputed greatness–though censors the world over have been trying to suppress it for years. I doubt they’ve read it. 

The book that left me straddling the fence, wavering in opinion, and wondering about its suitability for prize-winning, was the International Booker Prize winner, The Discomfort of Evening–which announcement and ceremony I accidentally happened upon as it was taking place live online. Prizes invite this fashion of dispute, which enlivens book reading in general, so I welcome them. The book was great, but green. 

And if you haven’t already read Signs Preceding the End of the World, run don’t walk. 

August Reading


This post is by Caterina Fake from Caterina.net

The stand out here, was of course, Middlemarch. I had read it in college and remember thinking to myself, “am I really going to expend my youth reading about agricultural practices in 19th century rural England?” But of course, it is so much more. Many people have called it the greatest English novel, and, to disprove this opinion, I would have to read a whole lot more English novels. So I provisionally agree. 

Last month’s reading of Faulkner required the antidote of Morrison, and I read her essays, and her first novel The Bluest Eye.  Also of undisputed greatness–though censors the world over have been trying to suppress it for years. I doubt they’ve read it. 

The book that left me straddling the fence, wavering in opinion, and wondering about its suitability for prize-winning, was the International Booker Prize winner, The Discomfort of Evening–which announcement and ceremony I accidentally happened upon as it was taking place live online. Prizes invite dispute, which enlivens book reading in general, so I welcome them. The book was great, but green. I was amazed to learn that the distinguished judges read all the contenders, starting with 128 books. 

And if you haven’t already read Signs Preceding the End of the World, run don’t walk to your local bookstore, and pick it up curbside. 

 

Q320 Vacation and Books


This post is by Brad Feld from Feld Thoughts

Every quarter I try to take a week completely off the grid. It’s a cold reboot for me, not simply a Ctrl-Alt-Del type thing. I started doing this in 2000 and it took me about four years to learn how to just turn off the switch completely for a week and then turn it back on. Last Saturday evening I turned it off and turned it back on yesterday morning.

My one mistake was reading the Sunday New York Times first thing yesterday. It was the wrong “first new information” and it made me extremely anxious. I wrote in my post from yesterday “I think that’s the last time I’m going to read the NY Times.” Now that I don’t feel anxious anymore, I know that’s not true, but it was an extreme shock to the system to wander back into things that quickly.

I read a lot of books last week, most of which were good. If you want my full reading list anytime, it’s in reverse chron order at Goodreads. Following is what I read last week with short hints in case you are interested in any of them.

22 Minutes of Unconditional Love: I try to pick a book a week from the NYT Book Review that I would have never otherwise read (I guess this is another reason to keep reading the Sunday NYT!). I rarely read fiction relationship stories and wouldn’t have picked one up about sexual obsession except for the good NYT review. It was interesting at times, but not really my thing.

Awakened in the Future: Mario Cantin is a friend. This is his first book. I loved it, including the fictional VCs who were protagonists but modeled after real VCs (yes, one of the protagonists is modeled after me.) The easter eggs are endless, and while there are some rough edges (this is, after all, Mario’s first book) it brought me back to reading Eliot Peper’s first book Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0. Mario – good job!

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times: Pema Chödrön’s classic. Jerry Colonna has recommended it to me 71 times. Amy has recommended it to me 73 times. I think I’m going to read it every year – it exceeded my expectations.

Awareness: Tim Ferriss recommended I read this Tony de Mello book. I had never heard of Tony de Mello. This book was almost as good as Pema Chödrön’s book. And, it was followed by …

Rediscovering Life: Awaken to Reality: Also recommended by Tim Ferriss. Also by Tony de Mello. And also excellent. Halfway through the week, as I was practicing non-attachment, I went very deep on non-attachment.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier: Amy and I don’t have kids. When I read books by Abbi Waxman, I’m glad we don’t have kids. I don’t think I’ve ever met Abbi in person, but I’m long time friends with her husband David. At some point, David mentioned that Abbi was a fiction writer and I started reading all of her books. This one was a blast and, if you have kids gearing up for the infamous college tour, you’ll love it.

Portraits of Resilience: This was the most powerful book of Q320 vacation. Daniel Jackson interviewed a number of people in the MIT community (students, professors, and staff) around their experience with depression, anxiety, and mental health issues. The stories are incredible. The photographs are stunning. And the people are brave, amazing, and wonderful. MIT should give this book to every new undergraduate and graduate student as part of their welcome package.

I Am Not Your Negro: There is a lot more James Baldwin in my future. This is the script for the movie. I’m glad I read it before watching the movie – it made the movie even stronger.

Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize Our World: I pondered 2040 some during the week (Mario Cantin must have planted that seed in my mind) so I decided to time travel back to 2000 and read what George Gilder wrote. He got some of it really right and some of it really wrong. I loved seeing his promotion of companies that vaporized by 2003. Many of Gilder’s predictions and prognostications were correct, even if the companies he named as the leaders couldn’t pull them off.

She Proclaims: Our Declaration of Independence from a Man’s World: I’m trying to read at least as many books by women as by men. I don’t remember who recommended this one to me, but it was good. I found myself nodding along throughout much of it.

Wiser: The Definitive Guide to Starting a Business After the Age of 50: Gender inequity in entrepreneurship is a real thing. Racial inequity in entrepreneurship is a real thing. Age inequity in entrepreneurship is a real thing. I hoped this book would be about this. It wasn’t, so it turned into a skimmer. If you know of a good book around age inequity in entrepreneurship, please recommend it to me.

Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber: While I knew some of the story, I didn’t know a lot of the backstory. First-person narrative ranges in quality (my blog is an example of that – some days good, some days not so much …) Susan Fowler did an incredible job with this book and her story. She was a key part of much needed change in the tech industry that I hope continues.

The Bluest Eye: Toni Morrison’s first book. Incredible. I’m going to slowly make my way through all of Toni Morrison’s books.

Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed: I don’t know who recommended this one to me, but it was in my infinite pile below The Bluest Eye so I picked it up and read it Sunday afternoon. It was the conservative counterpart to the liberal narrative around racism. It was written in 2015 and felt dated to me. I tried to suspend my bias as I worked my way through the arguments, but many of them were hard to process. It was particularly difficult after reading Toni Morrison from 1970 …

I don’t know what’s next on my reading list, but given my schedule this week, I don’t think there will be a lot of reading until the weekend.

The post Q320 Vacation and Books appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

Future Shocked


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

It has been 50 years this month since Alvin and Heidi Toffler published their book, Future Shock. The Tofflers have since passed on to the next plane. However, they have left behind a work, that is amazingly prescient, especially when seen in the context of the current pandemic and its impact on society. “The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order,” he wrote in the book. I wonder what he would have thought about the present—the rapidity with which we have been thrust into the future is quite surprising and unsettling.

Millions of ordinary psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future.

Future shock is the dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future… [It] is a time phenomenon, a product of the greatly accelerated change in society.

The Tofflers came up with terms such as information overload and prosumer. And they also pointed to the decline of the cities — which wasn’t really the case till six months ago. Today, we are starting to rethink the importance and role of the cities.

Here are some bits from the book that might be of interest. Take Toffler’s observations about work — they seem apparent today, but 50 years ago, a select few believed it would become a dominant way to work.

“Advanced technology and information systems make it possible for much of the work of society to be done at home via computer-telecommunications hook-ups.”

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Alvin Toffler via Wikipedia

Rampant consumerism, loss of the social fabric, and everything that gives us context are reflected in his comments. It also explains why we are facing increased isolationism and the rise of extremism in society.

People of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice but from a paralyzing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be victims of that peculiarly super-industrial dilemma: over choice.

We must search out totally new ways to anchor ourselves, for all the old roots religion, nation, community, family, or profession are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust.

His comments about the next generation being ignored when planning for the future is even more evident today. The next generation sees its future as mortgaged by the elders who cannot even understand the future. It is why they want to come out on the streets and protest.

The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they – at some distant point in the future – will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.

Tofflers left us a simple to do item, and yet we ignore it. Whether it is business, politics or technology — everyone continues to ignore a simple fact: it is always about the future and the people.

“Our moral responsibility is not to stop the future, but to shape it…to channel our destiny in humane directions and to ease the trauma of transition.”

It might be a good time to re-read this book.

August 17, 2020, San Francisco

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Notes on Directing (bookstorm)


This post is by Roy Bahat from Also by Roy Bahat - Medium

Thank you James Cham for getting me to read the book, by giving it to me and waiting a long time.


Notes on Directing (bookstorm) was originally published in Also by Roy Bahat on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.