As A Man Thinketh Is Good For Readeth Something Short

I’d heard from multiple sources that As A Man Thinketh was an amazing book. I recently read it in a shameful effort to complete three books in 2 days (it’s pretty short). I think it may have been amazing for it’s time, but I didn’t really overwhelm me. Overall the message is “be a good person” and “you are what your thoughts manifest.” I noticed some similarity with Alan Watts philosophy, but definitely not the same message.

I thought the author disregarded the element of chance in life, and downplayed the positives of suffering (good people don’t suffer?). However, I did like the positive thought message, especially how it transcended to a healthy life. Plus the robust message that failure is the advancement towards mastery.

This is a short book, and apparently a popular one, so if you have nothing else to read, or want to set a personal record of number of books completed in two days, go get this one.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) A Fun Sci-Fi Book With Good Things To Come

I don’t read much fiction, but I heard We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Tayor was pretty good. I enjoyed reading it, but this book is only for tech nerds, most likely men. Lots of Star Trek and Sci-Fi references. There’s a couple interesting scenarios that I’ll not discuss for spoiler purposes, but I was pretty well entertained. It’s a healthy mix of comedy, action, and drama.

My only major complaint was the author’s choice to pick the Catholic Church as an antagonist of the future. What are the odds of the Catholic Church, or any Christian Church, even TRYING to take over America in the next 100 years? Slim to none! It’s both boring and unrealistic to pick the irrelevant One True Faith as the villain of the 21st century.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the entire book.

As a side note, the Audible version was VERY well performed by Ray Porter. I may look for other narratives by him. Various characters including Homer Simpson and Admiral Ackbar were performed quite masterfully.

If you’re a tech guy, you’ll probably enjoy this. This also appears to be part 1 of 3.

The Fighter’s Mind A Worthwhile Read For Dads and Competitors

“The world is made of fire” is the translation of the tattoo on Sam Sheridan, author of The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental GameSuch an outlook sets the stage for a book I downloaded for two reasons, because it was offered cheap from Audible, and it sounded interesting. I am pleased to say that the this book did not disappoint and I’d encourage anyone who considers themselves a competitor, or a parent of a competitor to consider reading.

While the book revolves around fighting, it does a great job tapping into the primal roots of a warrior searching for their deepest purpose in life. I’ve never been a fighter, but I’d like to consider myself an experienced competitor, ranging from a college scholarship to still competing in various stuff in my late 30’s.

Each chapter seeks out different wisdom from different competitors, not all fighters. There’s lots of good insight, but one that stood out for me was how many of the top fighters were incredibly modest and personable people. Intuitively, Sheridan posed the question of, “are good fighters modest, or do fighters that get so good become modest through the humbling process of getting beaten up so much?” I imagine there’s some cultural and sports differences to consider, but it’s a really interesting question.

MebKeflezighi is the most successful American distance athlete since the 90’s. I’m fortunate to have done some training with him and he’s one of the most authentic and genuinely nice people I’ve ever met. Even people that have met him only once are amazed at how humble he is.

To my knowledge, I’ve only talked to two highly competitive fighters. One was Chuck Liddell. He wasn’t too pleasant with me, although I think I may have caught him on a bad day.

The other was Paul Vaden, a former boxer, with a professional record of 29-3. Vaden was incredibly modest and personable. Ironically one of the few times I came close to fighting in my adult life, Vaden essentially intervened between myself and another guy (basketball game). I didn’t know Vaden was a boxer, but he had a palpable certainty to him that seemed to defuse the situation. Talking with him later, I was amazed to discover he was a kickass fighter in his day.

Anyway, I’m glad I found this book. I found this interview on Sheridan which I also enjoyed, so I may read a couple of his other books.

Rick Perry’s Fed Up! A Good States’ Rights Book Despite One Blinding Inaccuracy

I read Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington by Rick Perry while a resident of Texas in 2010. Perry was governor during part of my residency. While the book has lots of sensible limited government material, what I most distinctly remember was reading the below passage and thinking to myself, “bull shit!!!”

Excerpt from book: “Now, cynics will say that I decided to write this book because I seek higher office. They are wrong: I already have the best job in America.”

Sure enough, since publishing this statement, Perry has proven his cynics correct by running for president twice and recently accepted a position as director of the Department of Energy.

Ignoring this foolishly stupid statement (honestly, he didn’t think he was going to run for president less than two years later??) this book has some merit to it. Perry does a successful job highlighting the benefits of vesting powers to states instead of the federal government. Perry discusses how hot-button issues like marijuana legalization and gay marriage should not be determined by the federal government. Including marijuana in this discussion is particularly commendable considering Perry does not favor marijuana legalization, yet correctly advocates its decriminalization at the federal level.

While I mostly enjoyed this book, it’s a bit outdated now (in 2016) and there are countless other books that articulate the advantages of reducing the powers of the federal government. Thus I would not enthusiastically recommend this to someone unless they have a burning interest in Rick Perry personally.

Fooled By Randomness A Great Read For Recognizing True Insight

I read Fooled By Randomness before the financial crash of 2008. I remember reading this while the real estate market was senselessly high and wondering… “maybe I should be shorting that market”?

Frustrating that I didn’t, but at least I didn’t buy into it. This is a great book that talks about people seeking patterns when there may be none.

Perhaps the best example is the Warren Buffet argument. Is Warren Buffet a truly skilled investor or was he just lucky on a couple key investments that put him tremendously ahead?

If you have 50 million people guessing a game of heads or tales over the course of 1,000 trials, chances are someone is going to do very well, most certainly better than the majority. Are they more skilled than the rest of the field?Do they have some amazing insight to be emulated? Probably not but too often we evaluate people’s methods based on their success.

Alan Turing: The Enigma Poorly Written and Ignores Questionable Death

I dragged myself through the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma. Author Andrew Hodges was so enamored with Turing that he practically doubled the necessary length of the book with all kinds of emblematic speculation. The result was a book that should have been about the life of a fascinating individual, but was instead a certifiable cure for insomnia. The writing was just too pedantic, not engaging, and full of weak attempts to find deeper meaning than necessary. Too much psychoanalysis, trying to paint Turing as a beautiful, brilliant, innocent human whose self-awareness of his homosexuality was more advanced than the world he lived in.

Turing’s acts during World War II were of course fascinating, but the writing just didn’t do a great job building excitement about it. The movie based on this book, The Imitation Game was essentially the opposite, as it deviated into 95% fiction once Turing arrived at Bletchley Park, but at least it was fun to watch.

The author must have typed 2 thousand “indeeds” which grew tiring. Additionally some of his insight was pretty silly (Alan Turing was “only” 18 minutes slower than the gold medalists in the Olympic 10,000 meters). I would have much preferred the style that the author of the Steve Jobs biography, where that author simply aimed to display as many facts as possible, letting the reader form their own judgments.

Yet the part that jumped off the page for me was the lack of insight on Turing’s death. The author stated unequivocally that Turing killed himself, even though that’s quite debatable. The arguments that the author offers to support his claim are:

  • The police report said it was a suicide.
  • Turing redid his will somewhat soon before his death.
  • Turing was tired of not fitting into in to society (with little evidence to support this).
  • Turing may have had a fortune teller tell him something (not a joke).
  • The coroner didn’t show signs of a struggle (or did he? see below).
  • Turing used cyanide in order to convince his mother that he did NOT kill himself, but to let everyone else know he DID! (what??)

Suffice to say, that’s not exactly a bulletproof set of arguments to unequivocally rule his death as suicide. I believe the author was so fixated to paint Turing as a martyr of gay prejudices, that he overlooked some obvious questions with his death. Turing was a victim of abhorrent laws against homosexuals, but those laws may not have killed him. Consider the evidence against a suicide that also comes from this book:

  • Turing didn’t leave a note and was quite a thorough person.
  • While he did update his will, he left a variable sum to his house keeper which would sensibly imply he did not have a timetable on when he would die.
  • His sexual criminal conviction had passed and he was no longer taking the state-mandated medication. Thus his “castration” or his persecution from the state was no longer a current issue for him.
  • Turing’s research affairs were very much in disarray. Turing seemed to like order and harmony, as he had left careful instructions of where some of his valuable items were hidden during WWII. Turing was also proud of his work and believed it to be important, so it seems doubtful he left his most recent life’s work scattered around his apartment.
  • None of Turing’s friends indicated that they saw his suicide coming. Quite the opposite, they all expressed shock that he would do this to himself.
  • Turing appeared in a “good mood” by the last people who saw him alive.
  • Turing showed no signs of wanting to end his own life including to that of his psychologist who he was on a friendship level with.
  • Turing, for the most part, enjoyed life, getting lost in the many wondrous mysterious of nature, mathematics and things that fascinated him.
  • Even while under the castration medication, he had found “safe cities” to be gay in by way of the Netherlands and Paris. To think he felt alone and despair in the UK also doesn’t add up, especially given his financial options to go where he wanted.

In a different book about her son, Turing’s mother claims Alan accidentally killed himself. This is technically possible considering he was using cyanide for his experiments. Yet it seems unlikely that a genius man like himself could so carelessly do such a thing, especially when he had been working with chemicals for years.

Neither author considers a third darker option which was that he was murdered. Turing was essentially the liaison between the US intelligence and the UK during World War II. It’s certain he knew a thing or two more than the average citizen.

As the book details, homosexuals were considered a risk in the intelligence community because their sexual nature could be used to compromise them. Thus it is conceivable that someone on either the US or or British side, may have assessed that Turing knew too much on a subject and represented a national security risk. Indeed, (there it is again!) others have asked this question recently and are speculating that Turing may have known key developments on spying on the Russians. Perhaps adding the most credibility to this theory is that the coroner did document Turing’s death with, “Death due to violence,” which disproves the author’s notion that the coroner ruled unequivocally a death by suicide.

While I don’t have any more research beyond what I’m posting, the two theories of accidental death and suicide seem less likely than a government murder intended to either look like a suicide or accident. I actually had a drinking buddy in my 20’s end up being found dead in way that looked like a suicide, but many (including me) believe he was a victim of a government murder. So perhaps I’m too easy easy to convince about a government conspiracy.

Getting back to the book, considering how much the author speculated on every other excruciating detail in Turing’s life, it’s unfortunate he didn’t do a better job digging for answers about the details of Turing’s death.

I’m glad I read this but I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to. Wikipedia Article on Turing is a much shorter read with about 75% of all you need to know about the founder of modern computer science.

Don’t Want to Talk On Phone? SLYDIAL!

Slydial is a pretty slick app that everyone should secretly have. Essentially, it’s designed to deceive people into thinking that the user actually called them. The app somehow connects straight to the target’s voicemail, never giving the target the option to pickup Additionally, assuming the targeted caller had service, the target’s phone shows a missed call from the user.

The use case scenarios for this range from convenient to unethical. Mostly I used it when I’m too lazy to text a message and I suspect the other person doesn’t want to talk to me either. I’ve actually never told people close to me about this app, so if they read this post the may have closure on the peculiar times they were sitting right by their phone and all of a sudden they got an alert of a voice mail message from me. Guilty as charged.

There are two versions of the service. The free one which, as one would expect, has advertisements in it which are tolerable, but definitely would be nice to avoid. The paid version skips the adds, costing 10 cents a call or 3 bucks a month (both reasonable but I don’t pay).

According to their adds, there’s even a tool in the paid version where, “you can send the same voice message to multiple people, appearing from any number you prefer.” That last part is interesting. In theory you could leave a voice mail message appearing as someone else? This could definitely lead to unethical activities! I’m thinking I may use this when my daughter is a sophomore in high school and some Senior boy starts calling her. Such boy may receive a message as follows. “This is Sargent Slaughter From the Local Police Department (number matches!). We understand you’ve been talking to a certain young lady. I will personally put my life on hold and kick your ass if you ever call her again! Have a great day!”

One could have less amusing examples involving”The STD clinic”, “A Bail Bondsman,” or “A Senior Auditor from the IRS.”

I suspect political campaigns have used this feature as I received a couple calls that went to voicemail with obscurely personal messages. “Hey it’s the mayor… I … dang… I’m sorry I missed you… I thought this would be a good time to reach you. Well anyway…  blah blah vote for me blah blah”). No mayor would ever call me. Predictably, the message never said my voice, so without the personalized Proof Of Work, I’m pretty sure tens of thousands of other registered voters received the same message.

Anyway, this is indeed a sly little app to have in your arsenal. It’s so easy to use it doesn’t warrant a tutorial.