Atlas Shrugged Book Review

I read Atlas Shrugged in college, and it definitely ranks as one of my favorite novels. Growing up in a liberty-leaning household, a lot of the material was not new to me. However, for people who aren’t as exposed to liberty and especially entrepreneurs, this book will strike a cord with you that is not often heard. Common themes such as the “evil of profit” and how “the greater good” always seems to involve your pocketbook being emptied are addressed in this.

Amazingly this book is over 50 years old, and it still paints a very accurate picture of how bureaucrats and central authorities attack businesses, often with smiling, “I’m here to help” mentalities.

This book is a little long, and the author definitely deviates a little on some unrelated topics about sex that is kind of interesting, but could have been excluded in order to keep the book under 900 pages. There’s a speech that goes on for over a hundred pages that essentially retells the message the book already articulates, thus the reader can likely scan this without missing out on much.

If you tend to lean socialist and want central authorities to plan out people’s lives, this book will either change your mind, or make you angry. I have a hard time seeing a communist being able to actually finish this book.

In college, I was bombarded by all kinds of socialist material. I had an economics professor who said all prices from food, home to gas, ultimately need to be regulated by government. Ignoring how insanely oppressive this belief is (why can’t two people voluntarily decide what something cost?), this novel provides a much needed alternative perspective that impressionable college kids should be reading.

As I’m typing this, part of me wonders if a new type of book like this needs to be written for a new generation. Maybe I’ll add that to my to-do list when I have an insane amount of free time, which will probably be in 2040.

Anyway, if you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, I would encourage you to do.

The Secret Race is a Phenomenal Book

I just finished The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton. Awesome book especially considering it came out ahead of Lance Armstrong’s confession. I think I speak for a lot of current and former competitive endurance athletes that never had any doubt that the majority of cycling racers during that era were doping.

It’s really interesting reading Hamilton, who most regarded as a genuine nice guy, detail his journey from being a clean athlete into total doper.  The book doesn’t aim to make you feel sorry for him, but just simply understand how he arrived where he did.

Armstrong who by most accounts that I’ve read, and even two of my own personal experiences, is an abrasive egomaniac. Especially when you consider how much he aggressively tried to sell himself as a clean athlete and attacked those who challenged it. At some point during Lance’s career, he should have just stopped attacking his accusers and just said, “I have never tested positive on performance enhancers.” The accurate statement would have been boring and would probably have created a more sympathetic perception of him now.

Hamilton includes a couple fun analogies of guys being on EPO, “It’d be like you were in a weight room, and you saw a guy lifting an insane amount of weight, with one hand, and everyone acted like it was normal.”

Apparently he and Lance often yelled, “Not normal!” during races for guys that were racing abnormally well (I’ve adopted this phrase for fun moments with my 2 year old when something fun happens like a garbage truck knocks over a trash can — NOT NORMAL!)

One other thing that fascinated me was Hamilton’s discussion on weight. It was only for about half a chapter, but he says (I’m paraphrasing) , “I would rather have taken weight decline of 1-3% of his body weight over any performance enhancer!”  The sad reality is that being really really thin, allows you to run/cycle really really fast. This creates a tough dilemma for a lot of amateur athletes and especially their coaches. It’s pretty easy to turn a blind eye to potential health concerns of an athlete while she’s crushing her competition.

“How can she be unhealthy, she’s doing great??”

Definitely worth reading for people who like sports, cycling, tough life choices, or even just conspiracies.

Two-Dimensional Sumif’s In Excel

Yesterday I needed to perform a two-dimensional sumif’s, and finding syntax on how to do this wasn’t easy (meaning it took more than 3 minutes). So I figured I’d flood the internet with one more example.

My Video below gives a short walk-through of it, but essentially you use SUMPRODUCT function. The syntax is basically SUMPRODUCT((Range1CONDITION=<VALUE>)*(Range2CONDITION=<VALUE>)*DATARANGE).

In my initial example, I use formula:

=SUMPRODUCT((B3:B12=I2)*(C2:F2=I3)*C3:F12)

Order doesn’t matter in the above statements. What the function is actually doing is looping through each cell in the DATARANGE, testing if all the criteria is true. If so, it assigns a 1 in the first two fields, and the test, for each cell in the range, and if true, it assigns a 1 to it.

Sumproduct is also available on Google Drive Sheets, OpenOffice. Not available on Excel 2003 and earlier.

Link to file used in video.

Sebastian Junger’s Book WAR is Great

I received Sebastian Junger’s book War as a wedding present many years ago and read it immediately. The author is quite an interesting guy, seeming intent on running towards the world’s chaos. While writing this book, he helped film the documentary Restropo, which is definitely worth watching. Junger’s partner in the documentary Tim Hetherington, was killed in Libya during the Arab Spring a few years later.

What I enjoyed most of this book was its apolitical nature. The author seeks to find that primal bond in men as the fight an enemy.

The author is a former competitive distance runner, and I see some of a distance runner’s analytics in his writing. It’s interesting as he runs around with the platoon that he doesn’t slow them down, despite being significantly older and not in military shape.

A good book no doubt. Apparently his new book TRIBE is also quite exceptional. I look forward to reading that soon.