Reviews of the books I've read

A list of all the books I've read this year. For these reviews, this is my book review scale:

burn Burn any copy you find of this book, it is horrific.
mock This book is awful. Don't read this book and mock anyone you see reading this book.
don't Don't read this book.
desert If you're on a desert island and are bored out of your mind, this book is okay to read.
fan If you're a fan of this author / genre, this book is worth reading.
worth This book is interesting, fun, entertaining, and thus worth reading. I would hand this book to a friend who asked for a _____ type book.
strongly I strongly recommend this book
amazing OMG, this book is amazing and/or life-changing, let me buy you a copy.

Post date:

Shadow Divers

Book Notes

Okay, this is book twenty eight of the year that I've read. It is also, the 27th non-fiction book I've read, sticking with my January non-fiction month for much longer than anticipated.

The problemm with reading only non-fiction, however, is that often you stop having stories. Depending on the book, you can go hours and hours and hours with dry facts that, while true (hence, unlike the idiot in the power position believes, non-fiction and not "alternate"), lack an engaging story. Drawdown is a fascinating catalog of technologies we need to use and develop and encourage, yes, but the book was slow going in its lack of story.

Shadow Divers, however, didn't lack for a story. The book is a recount of the 1991 discovery of a previously unknown U-boat off the coast of New Jersey, and the divers' journey to positively identifying it. I enjoyed the book a lot, with a few very strong parts that pulled me out of the story.

About half way through the book, I started looking up the various protagonists on the Intarwebs™. Bill Nagle's Wikipedia page links off to the U-869 Wikipedia page, which references that PBS NOVA episode "Hitler's Lost Sub" which I started watching. And then became momentarily confused, as the story I was reading in Shadow Divers wasn't the story I was hearing on the NOVA episode.

Okay, what up?

Well, the thing about story telling, is that often the story depends on your perspective, your audience, and the medium of the telling. History has a way of not always being accurate or even right.

Further along in the book, Robert Kurson starts telling the tale from the perspective of those who died on U-869, and that's when I was fully pulled out of the story.

The men spoke briefly before wishing each other a good night. “At least,” Guschewski thought as he closed his door, “this fellow seems bright, capable, and friendly. At least Horenburg seems like a gentleman.”
Location 4614

Guschewski lived, and was interviewed for the book, a fact we find out at the end of the book, but parts like:

They knew this man to be their commander—they could see a nobility in his posture, a certainty in the slowness of his breaths, a strength in his face’s Teutonic angles.
Location 4631

are still absurd. Non-fiction can't really tell you this with any accuracy when the "they" died sixty years before.

I still very much enjoyed this book. It was a great read, takes about eight hours or so to read, but reads like an adventure, so it doesn't feel that long.

There were a lot of impossible places to go when the world was as big as Chatterton and Nagle saw it, but for God’s sake you had to try. You were required to try. What were you doing alive, these men thought, if you didn’t go and try?
Location 336

A good diver reveals himself in the way he gears up.
Location 505

Inside is where the bridge equipment lies—the telegraph, helm, and binnacles that gave the ship direction.
Location 552

A diver who spends time inside a wreck will screw the “viz”; it’s just a matter of how soon and how badly.
Location 589

Yet a curious truth pertains to these perils: rarely does the problem itself kill the diver. Rather, the diver’s response to the problem—his panic—likely determines whether he lives or dies.
Location 603

A great diver learns to stand down his emotions. At the moment he becomes lost or blinded or tangled or trapped, that instant when millions of years of evolution demand fight or flight and narcosis carves order from his brain, he dials down his fear and contracts into the moment until his breathing slows and his narcosis lightens and his reason returns. In this way he overcomes his humanness and becomes something else. In this way, liberated from instincts, he becomes a freak of nature.
Location 653

An ordinary diver will sometimes rush to extricate himself from trouble so that no other diver will witness his predicament. A disciplined diver is willing to risk such embarrassment in exchange for his life.
Location 663

On a deep-wreck dive, no one is ever truly safe until he is back on the deck of the dive boat.
Location 703

A few days later, Chatterton decided to take a trip. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry was the permanent home of U-505, a type IXC U-boat captured by the Allies off Africa in 1944. The submarine had been kept in pristine condition and was open to the public.
Location 1154

She told them that after the war, her father had hobbled on crutches across America to visit the families of every man who had perished under his command because it was the right thing to do, that he needed to tell them in person that he appreciated their sons.
Location 1199

Everyone had an opinion, and John listened to all of them. But the more John absorbed these viewpoints, the more he suspected that these people didn’t really know. It was not that he doubted their conviction; in fact, he admired their passion and felt invigorated by the era. But he asked himself about the lives of the people behind the opinions, and the more he asked, the more he became convinced that few of them had ever gone out and looked for themselves.
Location 1244

“One more thing,” Mouse said. “A lot of the stuff you do out there, you’re going to have to live with all the way down the line. You’ll have to make decisions out there. When that happens, you have to ask yourself, ‘Where do I want to be in ten years, twenty years? How will I want to feel about this decision when I’m an old man?’ That’s the question for making important decisions.”
Location 1322

With each moment, Chatterton’s vision narrowed and the jungle sounds compressed, until the only impressions in his world were his own heaving breaths and pounding heart.
Location 1366

He could not imagine turning away from the first thing in his life at which he had been special, the thing at which he might be great.
Location 1397

As he neared the end of his six-month field obligation, he had come to believe these things: —If an undertaking was easy, someone else already would have done it. —If you follow in another’s footsteps, you miss the problems really worth solving. —Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus, and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average. —Every so often, life presents a great moment of decision, an intersection at which a man must decide to stop or go; a person lives with these decisions forever. —Examine everything; not all is as it seems or as people tell you. —It is easiest to live with a decision if it is based on an earnest sense of right and wrong. —The guy who gets killed is often the guy who got nervous. The guy who doesn’t care anymore, who has said, “I’m already dead—the fact that I live or die is irrelevant and the only thing that matters is the accounting I give of myself,” is the most formidable force in the world. —The worst possible decision is to give up.
Location 1418

in the water, self-contained, a man could be what he was meant to be, and when that happened it was impossible to be lost.
Location 1698

At home, Kohler allowed Richie to assemble and disassemble his tank and regulator—he believed in making his three children feel comfortable with mechanical equipment, to make them unafraid to touch things.
Location 2175

It had been a year since he had seen the dead woman in the water, but Richie had never stopped wondering how people could be left in the water when they had loved ones at home who needed to know where they were.
Location 2215

Richie’s father was right: always swing while the other guy is telling you how he’s going to kick your ass.
Location 2240

“We sank two U-boats,” Weidenfeld said. “But we never got credit for either of them.” “I’ve read about those incidents,” Chatterton said. “You guys believe the navy didn’t want to credit civilians.” “That’s right,” Weidenfeld said. “The navy didn’t want to acknowledge it because it would have terrified the public to think that average civilians were needed to fight the U-boats, and that the U-boats were coming so close to our shores.
Location 2659

He could not tolerate the idea of this diver stealing the visibility in a gold mine of artifacts under the pretext of shooting video. A mystery U-boat full of china and the guy is shooting video!
Location 2895

Chatterton began to insist but stopped himself when he looked into Chris’s widened eyes. In them, he saw only fear and knowing—the kind of knowing that occurs when one’s fate is certain and moments away.
Location 3853

But the lesson was stark and by now familiar: written history was fallible. Sloppy and erroneous assessments had been rushed into the official record, only to be presumed accurate by historians, who then published elegant reference works echoing the mistakes.
Location 4069

Along the way, each marveled at how easy it was to get an incomplete picture of the world if one relied solely on experts, and how important it would be to further rely on oneself.
Location 4074

But it took no more than these words for even a U-boat veteran like Guschewski to think, “There is great courage and competence in this man. You do not go against this voice. You do not go against this man.”
Location 4639

Seated with Neuerburg were his first officer, twenty-one-year-old Siegfried Brandt, and his chief engineer, thirty-year-old Ludwig Kessler.
Location 4647

Guschewski was stunned. He admired commanders who followed strict military protocol. But he had also prayed that U-869 would be led by a man with a heart.
Location 4659

During visits, he told Friedhelm that he believed the Nazis to be authoring the downfall of Germany. Friedhelm recoiled at the public nature of his expression. “Are you crazy talking like that in the open?” he asked Helmuth whenever such conversations unfolded. “People are listening everywhere! What you are saying is very dangerous!”
Location 4698

In 1943, Neuerburg and others were offered a choice: they could remain with the naval air arm or join the U-boats. Those who stayed with the air force would go into combat immediately; those who transferred to submarines might spend a year or more in training before going to battle. Neuerburg was father to a two-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. He chose the U-boats, though he harbored no illusions about their safety.
Location 4711

Zinten’s Nazi Party members continued to harass Otto and Elise over their church worship and their refusal to join the party,
Location 4803

One of them began crying, then another, then all of them. “What is wrong?” Gila asked, rushing to Nedel’s side and taking his hand. For a moment, the men could do nothing but cry. Nedel said nothing. Finally, one of the other men spoke. “None of us is coming back,” he said.
Location 5025

Time and again during their research, they had been astonished to discover that historians had been mistaken, books fallible, experts wrong.
Location 5089

The fantasy always felt good for a minute, but it always ended with Chatterton thinking, “When things are easy a person doesn’t really learn about himself. It’s what a person does at the moment of his greatest struggle that shows him who he really is. Some people never get that moment. The U-Who is my moment. What I do now is what I am.”
Location 5241

Then spring began to dab warmth into the air and Marks said it would be a shame if a man turned his back on his passion.
Location 5278

Whatever satisfaction he might derive from delivering an answer to the crewmen’s families and to history would be smothered by his helpless proximity to a drowning friend.
Location 5634

There might be, he thought, one scenario worse than watching his friend die in the wreck, and as Sunday drew near he knew that worst scenario to be allowing his friend to die while he stayed home and waited for the news.
Location 5636

“U-boats are my avocation,” he said. “Perhaps it would be boring if I were to earn money from it. It’s the detective’s way of treating these matters that moves me. Once you find out history is wrong, once you start investigating it and, with some luck, correcting it, that is satisfaction enough.”
Location 5886


Book Notes

Okay, this book took me a while to finish. I started it, read about 40%, then put it down and read Originals, Lying, and Coping Skills, before being able to pick this one back up and finish it. Not that the book is a bad book, it's a very, very good book, one that should be required reading for every American citizen, especially the climate change deniers.

Drawdown is a catalog of 100 technologies that would significantly behoove us as a society to encourage, implement, and embrace. If we were to embrace all of the technologies listed, 99% of them would result in profits, and 1% wouldn't. We could do all of them.

But we won't.

Because people.

Because we don't care, until we do. And often when we do, it's because we are in crisis mode, not because we were forward-thinking.

I think the best way to read this book is with a group of friends, going through a chapter or two a week, sitting around discussing each one, and then implementing a few. Or as a student, reading a chapter / technology a (school) day, and discussing with the class. The latter has the students done within a school year, and they know enough maybe to be inspired to implement some of the strategies. Or as a work group reading and discussing a couple technologies a week, including how encourage or engineer the use, done in a year with two a week.

Reading solo isn't really the way.

When I listen to Sagan's friends talk about all the doom and gloom with climate change, and the sense of hopelessness coming from some of them, I want to hand them this book, suggest they pick 3, and get to work. Change doesn't just happen, people make change happen. That means all of us.

The solutions about farms, soil, restoring lands and forests, women, wind, and water turbines were the most interesting to me.

I strongly recommend this book for its information. I don't recommend trying to read it all in one go.

I didn't go through these quotes, so many are formatted poorly or not at all.

We can never survive in the long-term by despoiling nature; we have literally reached the ends of the earth.
Location 271

The buildup of greenhouse gases we experience today occurred in the absence of human understanding; our ancestors were innocent of the damage they were doing. That can tempt us to believe that global warming is something that is happening to us—that we are victims of a fate that was determined by actions that precede us. If we change the preposition, and consider that global warming is happening for us—an atmospheric transformation that inspires us to change and reimagine everything we make and do—we begin to live in a different world.
Location 332

Confucius wrote that calling things by their proper name is the beginning of wisdom.
Location 345

I remember my economics professor asking for a definition of Gresham’s law and how I rattled off the answer mechanically. He looked at me—none too pleased, though the answer was correct—and said, now explain it to your grandmother. That was much more difficult. The answer I gave the professor would have made no sense to her. It was lingo.
Location 348

In November 2016, the White House released its strategy for achieving deep decarbonization by mid-century. From our perspective, decarbonization is a word that describes the problem, not the goal: we decarbonized the earth by removing carbon in the form of combusted coal, gas, and oil, as well as through deforestation and poor farming practices, and releasing it into the atmosphere.
Location 356

Another impediment to wind power is inequitable government subsidies. The International Monetary Fund estimates that the fossil fuel industry received more than $ 5.3 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies in 2015; that is $ 10 million a minute, or about 6.5 percent of global GDP. Indirect fossil fuel subsidies include health costs due to air pollution, environmental damage, congestion, and global warming—none of which are factors with wind turbines.
Page 3

Outsize subsidies make fossil fuels look less expensive, obscuring wind power’s cost competitiveness, and they give fossil fuels an incumbent advantage, making investment more attractive.
Page 3

Critics in Congress disparage wind power because it is subsidized, implying that the federal government is pouring money down a hole. Coal is a freeloader when it comes to the costs borne by society for environmental impacts.
Page 3

Wind power uses 98 to 99 percent less water than fossil fuel–generated electricity. Coal, gas, and nuclear power require massive amounts of water for cooling, withdrawing more water than agriculture—22 trillion to 62 trillion gallons per year.
Page 3

Who else besides the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries can take trillions of gallons of water in the United States and not pay for it?
Page 4

The soft costs of financing, acquisition, permitting, and installation can be half the cost of a rooftop system and have not seen the same dip as panels themselves. That is part of the reason rooftop solar is more expensive than its utility-scale kin.
Page 11

With producer and user as one, energy gets democratized.
Page 11

Unlike PV panels and wind turbines, CSP makes heat before it makes electricity, and the former is much easier and more efficient to store. Indeed, heat can be stored twenty to one hundred times more cheaply than electricity.
Page 14

Human beings have long used mirrors to start fires. The Chinese, Greeks, and Romans all developed “burning mirrors”—curved mirrors that could concentrate the sun’s rays onto an object, causing it to combust. Three thousand years ago, solar igniters were mass-produced in Bronze Age China. They’re how the ancient Greeks lit the Olympic flame. In the sixteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci designed a giant parabolic mirror to boil water for industry and to warm swimming pools. Like so many technologies, using mirrors to harness the sun’s energy has been lost and found repeatedly, enchanting experimentalists and tinkerers through the ages—and once again today. •
Page 15

In the United States, a majority of the more than 115 biomass electricity generation plants under construction or in the permitting process plan on burning wood as fuel. Proponents state that these plants will be powered by branches and treetops left over from commercial logging operations, but these claims do not stand up to scrutiny. In the states of Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and New York, the amount of slash generated by logging operations falls far short of the amount needed to feed the proposed biomass burners. In Ohio and North Carolina, utilities have been more forthright and admit that biomass electricity generation means cutting and burning trees. The trees will grow back, but over decades—a lengthy and uncertain lag time to achieve carbon neutrality. When biomass energy relies on trees, it is not a true solution.
Page 16

Nuclear is a regrets solution, and regrets have already occurred at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Rocky Flats, Kyshtym, Browns Ferry, Idaho Falls, Mihama, Lucens, Fukushima Daiichi, Tokaimura, Marcoule, Windscale, Bohunice, and Church Rock. Regrets
Page 21

U.S. coal-fired or nuclear power plants are about 34 percent efficient in terms of producing electricity, which means two-thirds of the energy goes up the flue and heats the sky. All told, the U.S. power-generation sector throws away an amount of heat equivalent to the entire energy budget of Japan.
Page 21

Since that time, policies have compelled local authorities to identify opportunities for energy-efficient heat production, helped to move power generation from centralized plants to a decentralized network, and incentivized the use of cogeneration generally, and renewable-based systems particularly, through tax policy.
Page 21

The United States has long lagged behind Europe on cogeneration, in part because of pushback from utilities—notoriously so twenty years ago, when CHP plans at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were challenged by the local utility.
Page 22

There are four methods used by industry to convert waste to energy: incineration, gasification, pyrolysis, and plasma.
Page 28

One study conducted in the 1980s of a New Jersey incinerator showed the following results: If 2,250 tons of trash were incinerated daily, the annual emissions would be 5 tons of lead, 17 tons of mercury, 580 pounds of cadmium, 2,248 tons of nitrous oxide, 853 tons of sulfur dioxide, 777 tons of hydrogen chloride, 87 tons of sulfuric acid, 18 tons of fluorides, and 98 tons of particulate matter small enough to lodge permanently in the lungs.
Page 28

Waste-to-energy continues to evoke strong feelings. Its champions point to the land spared from dumps and to a cleaner-burning source of power. One ton of waste can generate as much electricity as one-third of a ton of coal. But opponents continue to decry pollution, however trace, as well as high capital costs and potential for perverse effects on recycling or composting. Because incineration is often cheaper than those alternatives, it can win out with municipalities when it comes to cost. Data shows high recycling rates tend to go hand in hand with high rates of waste-to-energy use, but some argue recycling could be higher in the absence of burning trash. These are among the reasons that construction of new plants in the United States has been at a near standstill for many years, despite evolution in incineration technology.
Page 29

Truly renewable resources, like solar and wind, cannot be depleted.
Page 29

Waste is certainly a repeatable resource at this point, but that is only because we generate so very much.
Page 29

Zero waste is a growing movement that wants to go upstream, not down, in order to change the nature of waste and the ways in which society recaptures its value. It is saying, in essence, that material flows in society can imitate what we see in forests and grasslands where there truly is no waste that is not feedstock for some other form of life.
Page 29

Plant-based diets have had no shortage of notable champions, long before omnivore Michael Pollan famously simplified the conundrum of eating: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Page 38

The case for a plant-rich diet is robust. That said, bringing about profound dietary change is not simple because eating is profoundly personal and cultural.
Page 39

In 2013, $ 53 billion went to livestock subsidies in the thirty-five countries affiliated with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development alone.
Page 39

Financial disincentives, government targets for reducing the amount of beef consumed, and campaigns that liken meat eating to tobacco use—in tandem with shifting social norms around meat consumption and healthy diets—may effectively conspire to make meat less desirable.
Page 39

Plant-based diets also open opportunities to preserve land that might otherwise go into livestock production and to engage current agricultural land in other, carbon-sequestering uses.
Page 40

Page 40

Around the world, farmers are walking away from lands that were once cultivated or grazed because those lands have been “farmed out.” Agricultural practices depleted fertility, eroded soil, caused compaction, drained groundwater, or created salinity by over-irrigation. Because the lands no longer generate sufficient income, they are abandoned.
Page 41

These abandoned lands are not lying fallow; they are forgotten.
Page 41

Bringing abandoned lands back into productive use can also turn them into carbon sinks.
Page 41

Restoration can mean the return of native vegetation, the establishment of tree plantations, or the introduction of regenerative farming methods.
Page 41

One of the great miracles of life on this planet is the creation of food. The alchemy human beings do with seed, sun, soil, and water produces figs and fava beans, pearl onions and okra. It can include raising animals for their flesh or yield and transforming raw ingredients into chutney or cake or capellini. For more than a third of the world’s labor force, the production of food is the source of their livelihoods, and all people are sustained by consuming it.
Page 41

Yet a third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork.
Page 41

In too many places, kitchen efficiency has become a lost art.
Page 42

Basic laws of supply and demand also play a role. If a crop is unprofitable to harvest, it will be left in the field. And if a product is too expensive for consumers to purchase, it will idle in the storeroom. As ever, economics matter. Regardless of the reason, the outcome is much the same. Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin.
Page 42

National goals and policies can encourage widespread change. In 2015, the United States set a food-waste target, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. The same year, France passed a law forbidding supermarkets from trashing unsold food and requiring that they pass it on to charities or animal feed or composting companies instead.
Page 43

Of course, from an emissions perspective, the most effective efforts are those that avert waste, rather than finding better uses for it after the fact.
Page 43

IMPACT: After taking into account the adoption of plant-rich diets, if 50 percent of food waste is reduced by 2050, avoided emissions could be equal to 26.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Reducing waste also avoids the deforestation for additional farmland, preventing 44.4 gigatons of additional emissions. We used forecasts of regional waste estimates from farm to household. This data shows that up to 35 percent food in high-income economies is thrown out by consumers; in low-income economies, however, relatively little is wasted at the household level.
Page 43

Though cookstoves may seem simple, taking them from concept to reality is as much an art as cooking itself. Family dynamics, from finances to education to gender roles, affect decisions about stoves, which must meet a suite of needs.
Page 45

Locally attuned, human-centered designs are most likely to win hearts and minds and shift prevailing habits—and, most important, majority share of cooking time.
Page 45

The two oldest Sanskrit epic poems, The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, contain illustrations of a precursor to the home garden called Ashok Vatika.
Page 46

Because they generate food security, nourishment, and income, on top of ecological benefits, home gardens have been dubbed “the epitome of sustainability” by agroforestry expert P. K. Nair.
Page 46

Whether the crop being grown is coffee, cacao, fruit, vegetables, herbs, fuel, or plant remedies, the benefits of multistrata agroforestry are clear. It is well suited to steep slopes and degraded croplands, places where other cultivation might struggle.
Page 46

Moreover, because the livestock yield on a silvopasture plot is higher (as explored below), it may curtail the need for additional pasture space and thus help avoid deforestation and subsequent carbon emissions. Some studies show that ruminants can better digest silvopastoral forage, emitting lower amounts of methane in the process.
Page 49

From a financial and risk perspective, silvopasture is useful for its diversification. Livestock, trees, and any additional forestry products, such as nuts, fruit, mushrooms, and maple syrup, all come of age and generate income on different time horizons—some more regularly and short-term, some at much longer intervals. Because the land is diversely productive, farmers are better insulated from financial risk due to weather events.
Page 50

The integrated, symbiotic system of silvopasture proves to be more resilient for both animals and trees. In a typical treeless pasture, livestock may suffer from extreme heat, cutting winds, and mediocre forage. But silvopasture provides distributed shade and wind protection, as well as rich food.
Page 50

factors. These systems are more expensive to establish, requiring higher up-front costs in addition to the necessary technical expertise.
Page 50

Fellow farmers are often more trusted than technical or scientific experts, while a successful test plot—perhaps on a rancher’s own land—is the most convincing case of all.
Page 50

Therein lies the climatic win-win of silvopasture: As it averts further greenhouse emissions from one of the world’s most polluting sectors, it also protects against changes that are now inevitable. •
Page 51

Tell me: How did it come to pass that virtue—a quality that for most of history has generally been deemed, well, a virtue—became a mark of liberal softheadedness? How peculiar, that doing the right thing by the environment—buying the hybrid, eating like a locavore—should now set you up for the Ed Begley Jr. treatment.
Page 52

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. • Excerpted and adapted with permission from Michael Pollan’s essay “Why Bother?” in the New York Times, April 20, 2008.
Page 53

Regenerative agricultural practices restore degraded land. They include no tillage, diverse cover crops, on-farm fertility (no external nutrient sources required), no or minimal pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and multiple crop rotations, all of which can be augmented by managed grazing. The purpose of regenerative agriculture is to continually improve and regenerate the health of the soil by restoring its carbon content, which in turn improves plant health, nutrition, and productivity.
Page 54

When converted to sugars with help from the sun, carbon produces plants and food. It feeds humankind, and, through the use of regenerative agriculture, it feeds the life of the soil.
Page 54

Increasing carbon means increasing the life of the soil. When carbon is stored in soil organic matter, microbial life proliferates, soil texture improves, roots go deeper, worms drag organic matter down their holes and make rich castings of nitrogen, nutrient uptake is enhanced, water retention increases several fold (creating drought tolerance or flood insurance), nourished plants are more pest resistant, and fertility compounds to the point where little or no fertilizers are necessary. This ability to become independent of fertilizers relies upon cover crops. Each additional percent of carbon in the soil is considered equivalent to $ 300 to $ 600 of fertilizer stored beneath.
Page 55

A normal cover crop might be vetch, white clover, or rye, or a combination of them at one time.
Page 55

The possibilities include legumes such as spring peas, clover, vetch, cowpeas, alfalfa, mung beans, lentils, fava beans, sainfoin, and sunn hemp; and brassicas such as kale, mustard, radish, turnips, and collards. Then there are broadleaves such as sunflower, sesame, and chicory; and grasses such as black oats, rye, fescue, teff, brome, and sorghum. Each plant brings distinct additions to the soil, from shading out weeds to fixing nitrogen and making phosphorus, zinc, or calcium bioavailable.
Page 55

Regenerative farmers are creating crop insurance through diversification, which prevents pockets of infestation by pests and fungi. Along with rotation, there is intercropping, in which leguminous companion crops of alfalfa or beans are grown with corn to provide fertility.
Page 55

Evidence points to a new wisdom: The world cannot be fed unless the soil is fed.
Page 55

Regenerative agriculture is not the absence of chemicals. It is the presence of observable science—a practice that aligns agriculture with natural principles. It restores, revitalizes, and reinstates healthy agricultural ecosystems.
Page 55

Most nitrogen fertilizers are “hot,” chemically destroying organic matter in the soil.
Page 56

Nitrous oxide, created from nitrate fertilizers by soil bacteria, is 298 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in its atmospheric warming effect.
Page 56

Effective nutrient management is summarized by the four Rs: right source, right time, right place, and right rate.
Page 56

Research into how producers make decisions has found that farmers are likely to apply more fertilizer than necessary and prioritize information they receive from fertilizer dealers—even with the knowledge that reducing their rate could lower emissions.
Page 56

Since nitrogen-fertilizer pollution of water bodies is usually considered nonpoint source pollution (i.e., it cannot be easily linked to a single source), regulations are difficult to create and enforce.
Page 56

That being said, continual application of chemical fertilizers results in loss of fertility, water infiltration, and loss of productivity over time. These impacts can cause farmers to increase fertilization in hopes it will compensate for the overall loss of soil health, which is in actuality a downward spiral.
Page 57

There are two ways to farm. Industrial agriculture sows a single crop over large areas. Regenerative practices such as tree intercropping use diversity to improve soil health and productivity and align with biological principles. Lower inputs, healthier crops, and higher yields are the outcome.
Page 57

To top it off, tree intercropping is beautiful—chili peppers and coffee, coconut and marigolds, walnuts and corn, citrus and eggplant, olives and barley, teak and taro, oak and lavender, wild cherry and sunflower, hazel and roses. Triple-cropping is common in tropical areas, with coconut, banana, and ginger grown together. The possible combinations are endless.
Page 58

Though land is “lost” to trees in the alley-cropping system, the increased yield—without chemical inputs—more than makes up for the loss.
Page 59

Other variations of intercropping include strip cropping, boundary systems, shade systems, forest farming, forest gardening, mycoforestry, silvopasture, and pasture cropping. Tree intercropping reinforces the idea that human well-being does not depend on an agricultural system that is extractive and hostile to living organisms.
Page 59

When farmers till their fields to destroy weeds and fold in fertilizer, water in the freshly turned soil evaporates. Soil itself can be blown or washed away and carbon held within it released into the atmosphere. Though intended to prepare a field to be productive, tilling can actually make it nutrient poor and less life giving.
Page 60

In part, conservation agriculture is already widespread because farmers can adopt it with relative ease and speed and realize a range of benefits. Water retention makes fields more drought resistant or reduces the need for irrigation. Nutrient retention leads to increased fertility and can lower fertilizer inputs.
Page 60

The oldest surviving work of Latin prose, De Agricultura, by Cato the Elder, includes guidance on compost—deemed a must for farmers.
Page 61

Nearly half of the solid waste produced around the world is organic or biodegradable, meaning it can be decomposed over a few weeks or months.
Page 62

Composting processes avert methane emissions with proper aeration. Without it, the emissions benefits of composting shrink.
Page 62

In ancient Amazonian society, virtually all waste was organic. The disposal method of choice for kitchen crumbs, fish bones, livestock manure, broken pottery, and the like was to bury and burn. Wastes were baked without exposure to air beneath a layer of soil. This process, known as pyrolysis, produced a charcoal soil amendment rich in carbon. The result was terra preta, literally “black earth” in Portuguese.
Page 64

The pyrolysis process for producing biochar is from the Greek pyro for “fire” and lysis for “separating.” It is the slow baking of biomass in the near or total absence of oxygen. The preferred method is gasification, a higher-temperature pyrolysis that results in more completely carbonized biomass. Biochar is commonly made from waste material ranging from peanut shells to rice straw to wood scraps. As it is heated, gas and oil separate from carbon-rich solids. The output is twofold: fuels that can be used for energy (perhaps for fueling pyrolysis itself) and biochar for soil amendment. Depending on the speed of baking, the ratio of fuel to char can shift. The slower the burn, the more biochar. Pyrolysis is unusual in its versatility. Large, polished industrial systems can produce it, and it can be made in small makeshift kilns.
Page 64

Theoretically, experts argue, biochar could sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year, in addition to averting emissions from organic waste.
Page 65

Africa abounds with staple tree crops: baobab, mafura, argan, mongongo, marula, dika, monkey orange, moringa, safou, and more.
Page 66

Today, 89 percent of cultivated land, about 3 billion acres, is devoted to annuals. Of the remaining land in perennial crops, 116 million acres are used for perennial staple crops.
Page 66

Called “flood” or “basin” irrigation, they rely on submerging fields and remain the most common approaches in many parts of the world.
Page 68

Surface and groundwater resources are better protected by lowering demand for water use.
Page 68

The agricultural industry has long argued that the only way we can feed humanity is through the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and, more recently, genetically modified seeds. The conventional wisdom is that biological or organic agricultural methods are incapable of feeding the world—mere specialty practices for smaller farmers that are impractical given the world’s food needs.
Page 70

As Montgomery and Biklé show, the science was incomplete because the role of soil life was unknown at that time. Agronomists and soil scientists of the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century had no inkling of what microbial populations were doing in the soil. In the absence of this knowledge, the chemical fertilizer theory of agricultural productivity was untouchable because it did sustain and increase yields, particularly on degraded soils.
Page 70

Herbivores cluster to protect themselves and their young from predators; they munch perennial and annual grasses to the crown; they disturb the soil with their hooves, intermixing their urine and feces; and they move on and do not return for a full year. Herbivores such as cattle, sheep, goats, elk, moose, and deer are ruminants, mammals that ferment cellulose in their digestive systems and break it down with methane-emitting microbes. Ruminants cocreated the world’s great grasslands, from the pampas in Argentina to the mammoth steppe in Siberia. Put those animals inside a fence, and it is a whole different story.
Page 71

involves a transitional period from one regime to another. It requires weaning farms off pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. All of these are conclusions agricultural corporations are unlikely to study and fund. The empirical results achieved by long-term adherents describe a two-to three-year period for the transition—about the same length of time as most of the studies that question the results shown by proponents.
Page 73

Farmers who use managed grazing report that perennial streams that once went dry have returned. On farms with intensive one-to two-day rotations, the capacity to stock cattle on the land increased by 200 to 300 percent. Native grasses reestablished themselves, crowding out weeds. Not having to sow pastures saved time and diesel fuel. Tillage of pastureland stopped as well, conserving fuel and equipment expenses. The behavior of cattle changed. Rather than lollygagging around a stubbly, overgrazed pasture, they moved quickly and in the process ate weeds (which farmers are discovering are protein rich), thus reducing or eliminating the need for weed control.
Page 73

The results seem to improve when grazing is rapid and intense and rest periods are longer. The protein and sugars of the grasses improve, and the more carbon sugars that are fed to the microbes in the soil, the greater the growth in mycorrhizal fungi, which secrete a sticky substance called glomalin. The organic rich soils are clumped together in small granules by the glomalin, which creates crumbly soil with empty spaces in which water can flow. Practitioners report that their soils can soak up eight, ten, and fourteen inches of rain per hour, whereas before the hardened soils would pond and erode with a mere inch of rain.
Page 73

He describes the change in his agricultural practices best: “When I was farming conventionally, I’d wake up and decide what I was going to kill today. Now I wake up and decide what I am going to help live.” And he is equally clear where change will come from: “You’re not going to change Washington [D.C.]. Consumers are the driving force.” •
Page 74

Even though they farm as capably and efficiently as men, inequality in assets, inputs, and support means women produce less on the same amount of land.
Page 76

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), if all women smallholders receive equal access to productive resources, their farm yields will rise by 20 to 30 percent, total agricultural output in low-income countries will increase by 2.5 to 4 percent, and the number of undernourished people in the world will drop by 12 to 17 percent. One hundred million to 150 million people will no longer be hungry.
Page 76

Just 10 to 20 percent of landholders are women, and within that group, insecure land rights are a persistent challenge.
Page 77

Bina Agarwal, a professor at the University of Manchester and the author of A Field of One’s Own, captures the range of measures needed: Recognize and affirm women as farmers rather than farm helpers—a perception that undermines them from the start. Increase women’s access to land and secure clear, independent tenure—not mediated through and controlled by men. Improve women’s access to the training and resources they lack, provided with their specific needs in mind—microcredit in particular. Focus research and development on crops women cultivate and farming systems they use. Foster institutional innovation and collective approaches designed for women smallholders, such as group farming efforts. Agarwal’s last tenet is powerful. When women take part in cooperatives
Page 77

As with all smallholder farmers, diversity in cultivation helps annual yields to be more resilient and successful over time.
Page 77

Countries that have higher levels of gender equality have higher average cereal yields; high levels of inequality correlate with the opposite outcome.
Page 77

When women earn more, they reinvest 90 percent of the money they make into education, health, and nutrition for their families and communities, compared to 30 to 40 percent for men.
Page 77

Girls’ education, it turns out, has a dramatic bearing on global warming. Women with more years of education have fewer, healthier children and actively manage their reproductive health.
Page 81

Education also equips women to face the most dramatic climatic changes. A 2013 study found that educating girls “is the single most important social and economic factor associated with a reduction in vulnerability to natural disasters.” The single most important. It is a conclusion drawn from examining the experiences of 125 countries since 1980 and echoes other analyses. Educated girls and women have a better capacity to cope with shocks from natural disasters and extreme weather events and are therefore less likely to be injured, displaced, or killed when one strikes. This decreased vulnerability also extends to their children, families, and the elderly.
Page 81

The encyclopedic book What Works in Girls’ Education maps out seven areas of interconnected interventions: Make school affordable. For example, provide family stipends for keeping girls in school. Help girls overcome health barriers. For example, offer deworming treatments. Reduce the time and distance to get to school. For example, provide girls with bikes. Make schools more girl-friendly. For example, offer child-care programs for young mothers. Improve school quality. For example, invest in more and better teachers. Increase community engagement. For example, train community education activists. Sustain girls’ education during emergencies. For example, establish schools in refugee camps.
Page 82

According to the Urban Land Institute, in more compact developments ripe for walking, people drive 20 to 40 percent less. Urban planner and author Jeff Speck writes, “The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability. Under the right conditions, this creature thrives and multiplies.” Speck’s “general theory of walkability” outlines four criteria that must be met for people to opt to walk. A journey on foot must be useful, helping an individual meet some need in daily life. It must feel safe, including protection from cars and other hazards. It must be comfortable, attracting walkers to what Speck calls “outdoor living rooms.” And it must be interesting, with beauty, liveliness, and variety all around. In other words, walkable trips are not simply those with a manageable distance from point A to point B, perhaps a ten-to fifteen-minute journey on foot. They have “walk appeal,” thanks to a density of fellow walkers, a mix of land and real estate uses, and key design elements that create compelling environments for people on foot.
Page 84

What does that look like? It is the opposite of sprawl. Homes, cafés, parks, shops, and offices are intermingled at a density that makes them reachable by foot. Sidewalks are wide and protected from motorized traffic whizzing by. Walkways are well lit at night, tree-lined and shaded during the day (vital in hot, humid climates). They connect effectively to one another and perhaps lead to entirely car-free areas. Points of interest across the road, tracks, or waterway are accessible by way of safe and direct pedestrian crossings constructed at regular intervals. At street level, buildings feel abuzz with life, fostering a sense of safety. Beauty invites people outside. Perambulation can easily be combined with cycling or mass transit, with good connectivity between these different modes of mobility. Many such improvements can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of other transportation infrastructure. Walkability also enhances the use, and thus cost-effectiveness, of public transit systems.
Page 86

Similarly, Copenhagen’s infrastructure investments have made cycling easy and fast. They include innovations such as the “green wave”—traffic lights along main roads synchronized to the pace of bike commuters, so they can maintain their cruising speed for long stretches. Currently, the city is investing in a responsive traffic light system that aims to cut travel time by 10 percent for bicycles and 5 to 20 percent for buses, making both modes more appealing. At the same time, infrastructure for cars is becoming less accommodating, as with the gradual removal of parking spaces.
Page 88

As Dutch history reminds us, all cities were once bike cities, before we began shaping and reshaping them for the almighty automobile.
Page 88

Cycling also raises concerns about safety, reasonably so, but a clear correlation exists between high cycling rates, more cycling infrastructure, and reduced risk of fatalities.
Page 89

Not only do cool roofs reduce heat taken on by buildings, driving down energy use for cooling, they also reduce the temperature in cities. Recent studies have shown that the capacity of cool roofs to relieve the urban heat island effect is more pronounced during heat waves, when heat islands are particularly intense, sometimes deadly. The growth of cities continues, so making them cleaner, more livable, and better for well-being is essential.
Page 91

Glass windows were a Roman invention, placed in public baths, important buildings, and homes of great wealth. Although quite opaque, Roman glass was a big step forward from animal hides, cloth, or wood for shutting out the elements.
Page 96

Density is a defining characteristic of cities. Compact urban spaces allow us to move about on foot and by bicycle, intermingle people and ideas, and create rich cultural mosaics. That density can also enable efficient heating and cooling of a city’s buildings.
Page 99

Copenhagen’s ongoing shift in fuel sources highlights a major advantage of DHC: Once a distribution network is in place, what powers it can morph and evolve. Coal can give way to geothermal, solar water heating, or sustainable biomass. A city’s wasted heat—from industrial facilities to data centers to in-household wastewater—can be captured and repurposed.
Page 99

Landfill methane can be tapped for capture and use as a fairly clean energy source for generating electricity or heat, rather than leaking into the air or being dispersed as waste. The climate benefit is twofold: prevent landfill emissions and displace coal, oil, or natural gas that might otherwise be used.
Page 100

Most landfill content is organic matter: food scraps, yard trimmings, junk wood, wastepaper. At first, aerobic bacteria decompose those materials, but as layers of garbage get compacted and covered—and ultimately sealed beneath a landfill cap—oxygen is depleted. In its absence, anaerobic bacteria take over, and decomposition produces biogas, a roughly equal blend of carbon dioxide and methane accompanied by a smattering of other gases. Carbon dioxide would be part of nature’s cycles, but the methane is anthropogenic, created because we dump organic waste into sanitary landfills.
Page 100

The amount of methane produced varies from landfill to landfill, as does the amount that can be captured. The more contained the site, the easier and more effective capture can be.
Page 100

The power of insulation is taken to the extreme with Passivhaus, or Passive House in English, a rigorous building method and standard created in Germany in the early 1990s and intensely focused on saving energy—by as much as 90 percent over conventional comparisons. This approach zealously focuses on creating an airtight envelope for a building, to separate inside from outside below, above, and around all sides. The result is a structure so hermetically sealed that warm air cannot leak out when snow is on the ground and cool air cannot escape when the dog days arrive.
Page 101

To realize the massive financial and emissions savings that are possible, a building-by-building approach to the world’s 1.6 trillion square feet of building stock (99 percent of which is not green) is probably not the way to go. The Rocky Mountain Institute is piloting a more industrialized strategy in Chicago: Limit the scope of retrofitting to a set of highly effective, broadly applicable measures; pursue additional measures on the basis of impeccable analysis; and undertake multiple buildings simultaneously to gain economies of scale.
Page 103

Water is heavy. Pumping it from source to treatment plant to storage and distribution requires enormous amounts of energy. In fact, electricity is the major cost driver of processing and distributing water within cities, underlying the sums on water bills.
Page 105

Utilities use the phrase “non-revenue water” to describe the gap between what goes in and what ultimately comes out the tap.
Page 105

To borrow a description from the New York Times: “A steady, moderately low level of pressure is best—just as [with blood flow] in the human body.” Too much pressure and water looks for ways to escape; too little and water lines can suck in liquids and contaminants that surround them. Water utilities face a quest for pressure that is “just right.”
Page 105

Even under conditions of first-rate pressure management, leaks can and will happen. The torrential bursts that cut off service and submerge streets are not actually the worst from a waste perspective: They demand attention and immediate remediation. The bigger problem is with smaller, long-running leaks that are less detectable.
Page 105

The issue of water loss exists around the world. In the United States, an estimated one-sixth of distributed water escapes the system.
Page 105

Buildings are complex systems in the guise of static structures.
Page 105

Energy courses through them—in heating and air-conditioning systems, electrical wiring, water heating, lighting, information and communications systems, security and access systems, fire alarms, elevators, appliances, and indirectly through plumbing.
Page 105

Primary forests contain 300 billion tons of carbon yet they are still being logged, sometimes under the guise of harvest being “sustainable.” Research shows that once an intact primary forest begins to be cut, even under sustainable forest-management systems, it leads to biological degradation.
Page 109

A 2015 estimate of the world’s tree population: three trillion. That count is substantially higher than previously thought, but more than 15 billion trees are cut down each year. Since humans began farming, the number of trees on earth has fallen by 46 percent. (Today, forests cover 15.4 million square miles of the earth’s surface—or roughly 30 percent of its land area.)
Page 109

The benefits of forest conservation are many and various: nontimber products (bush meat, wild food, forage and fodder); erosion control; free pollination and pest and mosquito control provided by birds, bats, and bees; and other ecosystem services.
Page 110

An effective agenda to save the forests requires a collective understanding of ecology, the danger posed by global warming, political will, local buy-in, and noncorrupt governance.
Page 110

Without question, the Amazon is the greatest single natural resource in the world. Rainforests are being cut down at a rate that will eliminate them in forty years.
Page 111

It is difficult to estimate what it would “cost” to save it all, but estimates place it at about 4 percent of the $ 1.2 trillion the world spends on weapons every year.
Page 111

As awareness grows about the role blue carbon plays in curbing (or contributing to) climate change, it is also becoming apparent that wetlands are critical to coping with its impacts. Sea level rise due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increased storm activity threaten coastal communities, and shoreline ecosystems are vital protection from battering waves and rushing waters. That is especially true as man-made barriers—levees, dams, embankments—prove increasingly inadequate. The shielding and buffering function of wetlands makes it even more crucial to ensure that they are healthy today and resilient for the future.
Page 112

The optimal scenario, of course, is to safeguard coastal wetlands before they can be damaged and keep a lid on the carbon they contain.
Page 112

Bamboo is not a plant that needs encouragement.
Page 117

You can sit by timber bamboo in the spring and watch it grow more than one inch an hour. Bamboo reaches its full height in one growing season, at which time it can be harvested for pulp or allowed to grow to maturity over four to eight years. After being cut, bamboo re-sprouts and grows again.
Page 117

The Western aid and development model for addressing poverty has been dismantled by both Africans and many studies, yet it persists. In Mark’s work, people are growing three things: trees, crops, and wisdom. Foreign aid, sacks of genetically modified corn, and handouts come and go, but if we are to successfully address global warming, we should learn to trust the capacity of people everywhere to understand the consequences and imagine place-based solutions on a collaborative basis, and not force solutions upon them, however well intentioned.
Page 118

“The great thing about agro-forestry is that it’s free. They stop seeing trees as weeds and start seeing them as assets.” But only if they’re not penalized for doing so.
Page 119

Peat is a thick, mucky, waterlogged substance made up of dead and decomposing plant matter. It develops over hundreds, even thousands of years, as a soupy mix of wetland moss, grass, and other vegetation slowly decays beneath a living layer of flora in the near absence of oxygen. That acidic, anaerobic environment has preserved human remains, so-called “bog bodies” from the Iron Age and earlier. Given enough time, pressure, and heat, peat would become coal.
Page 121

Today, though these unique ecosystems cover just 3 percent of the earth’s land area, they are second only to oceans in the amount of carbon they store—twice that held by the world’s forests, at an estimated five hundred to six hundred gigatons.
Page 122

It can take thousands of years to build up peat, but a matter of only a few to release its greenhouse cache once it is degraded.
Page 122

Indigenous communities are among those most dramatically impacted by climate change, despite contributing the least to its causes. They are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of environmental change because of their land-based livelihoods, histories of colonization, and social marginalization.
Page 124

Preventing loss of forest is always better than trying to bring forest back and cure razed land. Because a restored forest never fully recovers its original biodiversity, structure, and complexity, and because it takes decades to sequester the amount of carbon lost in one fell swoop of deforestation, restoration is no replacement for protection. •
Page 129

The Miyawaki method calls for dozens of native tree species and other indigenous flora to be planted close together, often on degraded land devoid of organic matter. As these saplings grow, natural selection plays out and a richly biodiverse, resilient forest results. Miyawaki’s forests are completely self-sustaining after the first two years, when weeding and watering are required, and mature in just ten to twenty years—rather than the centuries nature requires to regrow a forest.
Page 133

Shubhendu Sharma’s company Afforestt is developing an open-source methodology to enable anyone to create forest ecosystems on any patch of land. In an area the size of six parking spaces, a three-hundred-tree forest can come to life—for the cost of an iPhone.
Page 134

Because afforestation is a multidecade endeavor, what properly enables it are provisions for up-front costs, developing markets for forest products, and ensuring clear land rights in order to maintain continuity between planting and eventual harvest.
Page 134

Mass transit is one manifestation of the public square, in which people of many stripes encounter and share space with one another. As Adam Gopnik put it in The New Yorker, “A train is a small society, headed somewhere more or less on time, more or less together, more or less sharing the same window, with a common view and a singular destination”—a unique civic experience, as well as a means of conveyance.
Page 137

The appeal of cars is strong and culturally entrenched in many places (less so among younger generations), and shifting habits is difficult, especially if behavior change requires more effort, more time, or more money.
Page 137

Public transportation is most successful where it is not just viable but efficient and attractive. One key piece is making the use of multiple modes more seamless, such as a single card to pay for metro, bus, bike share, and rideshare, or a single smartphone app to plan trips that use more than one.
Page 137

Roman concrete was used in creating the magnificent Pantheon temple in Rome. Completed in 128 AD, it is famed for its five-thousand-ton, 142-foot dome made of unreinforced concrete—still the world’s largest almost two thousand years later. If it had been built with today’s concrete, the Pantheon would have crumbled before the fall of Rome, three hundred years after its dedication. Roman concrete contained an aggregate of sand and rock just like its modern kin, but it was bound together with lime, salt water, and ash called pozzolana, from a particular volcano. Blending volcanic dust into the mixture of opus caementicium even enabled underwater construction.
Page 162

Today, concrete dominates the world’s construction materials and can be found in almost all infrastructure. Its basic recipe is simple: sand, crushed rock, water, and cement, all combined and hardened. Cement—a gray powder of lime, silica, aluminum, and iron—acts as the binder, coating and gluing the sand and rock together and enabling the remarkable stonelike material that results after curing. Cement is also employed in mortar and in building products such as pavers and roof tiles. Its use continues to grow—significantly faster than population—making cement one of the most used substances in the world by mass, second only to water.
Page 162

bio-based plastics may or may not be biodegradable. Polyethylene (PE) shopping bags made from sugarcane or corn are not. But bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA), like you might find in a disposable cup, and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which can be used for sutures, are both bio based and biodegradable under the right conditions. (PLA degrades only at high temperatures, not in the ocean or home compost bins.)
Page 168

If current trends continue, plastic will outweigh fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.
Page 168

Perhaps the biggest problem facing bioplastics is that they are not conventional plastic. Bioplastics cannot be composted unless separated from other plastics, and few will compost in the garden bin. They require high heat to be broken down or special chemical recycling. If bioplastics are intermixed with conventional plastics, conventional recycled plastic is contaminated, rendering it unstable, brittle, and unusable.
Page 168

Using water at home—to shower, do laundry, soak plants—consumes energy. It takes energy to clean and transport water, to heat it if need be, and to handle wastewater after use. Hot water is responsible for a quarter of residential energy use worldwide.
Page 169

Reducing average shower time to five minutes, washing only full loads of clothes, and flushing three times less per household per day can each reduce water use by 7 to 8 percent.
Page 170

The impacts of climate change are compounding population pressures. During droughts, for example, demand for irrigation goes up, while quality and quantity of supply declines.
Page 170

Nuclear and fossil fuel plants use enormous quantities of water for cooling—nearly half of all withdrawals in the United States. A single kilowatt-hour of electricity can have twenty-five invisible gallons associated with it.
Page 170

The industry calls this a renewable fuel, but that stretches the meaning of the concept. The process is heavily dependent on diesel, oil, gasoline, electricity, and subsidies. When fully calculated, corn-based ethanol produces slightly more energy than was required to produce it. If you add emissions from land use, groundwater depletion, loss of biodiversity, and the impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the benefit to the atmosphere is debatable. Corn’s highest and best use is as staple food for people who are hungry, not as ethanol powering an SUV.
Page 182

How cars are owned and utilized today could not be any less efficient. About 96 percent are privately owned; Americans spend $ 2 trillion per year on car ownership; and cars are used 4 percent of the time. The contemporary car is not a driving machine but a parking machine for which 700 million parking spaces have been built—
Page 184

The greatest impediment may be how powerfully embedded the desire to possess one’s own car is. Privately owned, traditional automobiles are likely the most meaningful competitors for AVs, both culturally and functionally. They are symbols of personal freedom—not just in the United States—and displacing them will be no small task for the four-wheeled robots of tomorrow.
Page 185

It may require a generational shift in attitude. People without a car at home may feel marooned or trapped.
Page 185

On the other side, a time could come when people are banned from driving because in a world of self-directed, connected vehicles, individual drivers are a danger to everyone else.
Page 185

Drivers not wanted: taxi, Uber, UPS, FedEx, bus, truck, and town car. Also eliminated: insurance agents, auto salesmen, credit managers, insurance claims adjusters, bank lending, and traffic reporters on the news. What goes the way of the cassette tape: steering wheels, odometers, gas pedals, gas stations, AAA, and the many outlets for individuals to service their own cars, from body shops to car washes. Good riddance to: road rage, crashes, 90 percent or more of all injuries and auto-related deaths, driving tests, getting lost, car dealers, tickets, traffic cops, and traffic jams.
Page 185

Actual miles traveled could go up, not down. The reason is simple: When the cost of a service or object goes down, consumption invariably increases. Automated bookable cars at one’s door could see individuals moving farther away from the city, especially if they can work within the car rather than drive.
Page 186

The urban landscape could morph into people-oriented areas, with broader sidewalks, narrower streets, more trees and plants, voluminous bike lanes, and parking lots converted to parks. The emphasis will shift from transport to community.
Page 186

Fundamentally, LBC is not about leading, but about living. Buildings can function more like a forest, generating a net surplus of positives in function and form and exhaling value into the world. Buildings, in other words, can do more than simply be less bad.
Page 188

The Imperatives Limits to growth. Only build on a previously developed site, not on or adjacent to virgin land. Urban agriculture. A living building must have the capacity to grow and store food, based on its floor area ratio. Habitat exchange. For each acre of development, an acre of habitat must be set aside in perpetuity. Human-powered living. A living building must contribute to a walkable, bikeable, pedestrian-friendly community. Net positive water. Rainwater capture and recycling must exceed usage. Net positive energy. At least 105 percent of energy used must come from on-site renewables. Civilized environment. A living building must have operable windows for fresh air, daylight, and views. Healthy interior environment. A living building must have impeccably clean and refreshed air. Biophilic environment. Design must include elements that nurture the human and nature connection. Red List. A living building must contain no toxic materials or chemicals, per the LBC Red List. Embodied carbon footprint. Carbon embodied in construction must be offset. Responsible industry. All timber must be Forest Stewardship Council certified or come from salvage or the building site itself. Living economy sourcing. Acquisition of materials and services must support local economies. Net positive waste. Construction must divert 90 to 100 percent of waste by weight. Human scale and humane places. The project must meet special specifications to orient toward humans rather than cars. Universal access to nature and place. Infrastructure must be equally accessible to all, and fresh air, sunlight, and natural waterways must be available. Equitable investment. A half percent of investment dollars must be donated to charity. JUST organization. At least one entity involved must be a certified JUST organization, indicating transparent and socially just business operations. Beauty and spirit. Public art and design features must be incorporated to elevate and delight the spirit. Inspiration and education. A project must engage in educating children and citizens. •
Page 189

Highlight(yellow) - RECIPROCITY > Page 214 · Location 7034
Page 190

For example, how and why do Amazonian rainforests create clouds even in the dry season? It turns out that ten percent of the Amazon’s annual rainfall is absorbed by the shallow roots of certain scattered shrubs, then pushed downward through taproots deep into the soil bank. When the rainless months come, the taproots lift up the water and pump it out into the shallow roots, distributing it to the whole of the forest. Many species of plants throughout the world perform this hydraulic “lift,” watering a multitude of plants under the forest canopy.
Page 214

The more stressful the environment, the more likely you are to see plants working together to ensure mutual survival.
Page 214

Simard’s work was among the first to prove that fungi branch out from the roots of a single tree to connect dozens of trees and shrubs and herbs—not only to their relatives but also to entirely different species. The “Wood Wide Web,” as Simard calls it, is an underground Internet through which water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and defense compounds are exchanged. When a pest troubles one tree, its alarm chemicals travel via fungi to the other members of the network, giving them time to beef up their defenses.
Page 214

However, placing too high an emphasis on the individual can lead to people feeling so personally responsible that they become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand. Norwegian psychologist and economist Per Espen Stoknes has described how individuals respond to being besieged with science that describes climate change in the language of threat and doom. Fear arises and becomes intertwined with guilt, resulting in passivity, apathy, and denial. To be effective, we require and deserve a conversation that includes possibility and opportunity, not repetitive emphasis on our undoing.
Page 214

Individuals cannot prevent the torching of Indonesia rainforests by corrupt palm oil corporations or put an end to the bleaching and coral die-off of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Individuals cannot stave off the acidification of the world’s oceans or foil the onslaught of commercials dedicated to fomenting desire and materialism. Individuals cannot halt the lucrative subsidies granted to fossil fuel companies. Individuals cannot prevent the deliberate suppression and demonization of climate science and scientists by anonymous wealthy donors.
Page 216

What individuals can do is become a movement. As McKibben writes: “Movements are what take five or ten percent of people and make them decisive—because in a world where apathy rules, five or ten percent is an enormous number.”
Page 216

The economic data we have collected shows clearly that the expense of the problems in the world now exceeds the cost of the solutions. To put it another way, the profit that can be achieved by instituting regenerative solutions is greater than the monetary gains generated by causing the problem or conducting business-as-usual. For instance, the most profitable and productive method of farming is regenerative agriculture. In the electric power generation industry, more people in the U.S. as of 2016 are employed by the solar industry than by gas, coal, and oil combined. Restoration creates more jobs than despoliation. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future rather than stealing it.
Page 216


Book Notes

This book came onto my radar from one of the books I've read in the last month or so, referenced in some way, I don't recall how. It was available at the library, so I borrowed it, and read it.

This book is a short, intense, and powerful read. Half of the book is the essay, the second half is an interview with Harris and his influencer professor, Ron Howard and a question-answer format exploration and reader challenges about not lying.

Again, a short, intense, and powerful read. It is amazing, it could change your life if you listen. Maybe not as much as Harris' life was changed by his professor, but maybe as much.

I finished reading it, set it down, and felt a huge release. Did I really need someone far away to tell me to tell the truth, even down to stop telling the small white lies? I want to shrug and say, "I don't know, maybe," but the answer is yes, very clearly yes. Am I embarrassed by that? Yep, sure am! Am I finally listening to myself, too? Yep, sure am!

The book is a quick read, an essay book that I wouldn't have counted as a "book" last year in my book count. This year, if it's a book, it's a book, even if it's not what I historically have called "a real book." I bought myself a hardback copy of the book when I found the opportunity at a local bookstore, the book is that good and worth having. It is amazing, let me buy you a copy.

To lie is to intentionally mislead others when they expect honest communication.
Location 66

People lie so that others will form beliefs that are not true. The more consequential the beliefs—that is, the more a person’s well-being demands a correct understanding of the world or of other people’s opinions—the more consequential the lie.
Location 68

To speak truthfully is to accurately represent one’s beliefs. But candor offers no assurance that one’s beliefs about the world are true.
Location 72

[T]ruthfulness require that one speak the whole truth, because communicating every fact on a given topic is almost never useful or even possible.
Location 73

Honesty is a gift we can give to others. It is also a source of power and an engine of simplicity.
Location 111

You can be honest and kind, because your purpose in telling the truth is not to offend people. You simply want them to have the information you have and would want to have if you were in their shoes.
Location 115

Holding one’s tongue, or steering a conversation toward topics of relative safety, is not the same as lying (nor does it require that one deny the truth in the future).
Location 125

Honesty can force any dysfunction in your life to the surface.
Location 126

Lying is the lifeblood of addiction. If we have no recourse to lies, our lives can unravel only so far without others’ noticing.
Location 128

Telling the truth can also reveal ways in which we want to grow but haven’t.
Location 130

Doing something requires energy, and most morally salient actions are associated with conscious intent. Failing to do something can arise purely by circumstance and requires energy to rectify.
Location 138

And although we imagine that we tell certain lies out of compassion for others, it is rarely difficult to spot the damage we do in the process.
Location 182

A white lie is simply a denial of these realities. It is a refusal to offer honest guidance in a storm. Even on so touchy a subject, lying seems a clear failure of friendship.
Location 207

In many circumstances in life, false encouragement can be very costly to another person.
Location 210

False encouragement is a kind of theft: It steals time, energy, and motivation that a person could put toward some other purpose.
Location 214

This is not to say that we are always correct in our judgments of other people. And honesty demands that we communicate any uncertainty we may feel about the relevance of our own opinions.
Location 215

If the truth itself is painful to tell, often background truths are not—and these can be communicated as well, deepening the friendship.
Location 218

[W]hen asked for an honest opinion, we do our friends no favors by pretending not to notice flaws in their work, especially when those who are not their friends are bound to notice the same flaws. Sparing others disappointment and embarrassment is a great kindness.
Location 293

A commitment to honesty does not necessarily require that we disclose facts about ourselves that we would prefer to keep private.
Location 301

The truth could well be “I’d rather not say.”
Location 302

To agree to keep a secret is to assume a burden. At a minimum, one must remember what one is not supposed to talk about.
Location 305

In those circumstances where we deem it obviously necessary to lie, we have generally determined that the person to be deceived is both dangerous and unreachable by any recourse to the truth. In other words, we have judged the prospects of establishing a genuine relationship with him to be nonexistent.
Location 336

This is among the many corrosive effects of unjust laws: They tempt peaceful and (otherwise) honest people to lie so as to avoid being punished for behavior that is ethically blameless.
Location 380

When you tell the truth, you have nothing to keep track of. The world itself becomes your memory, and if questions arise, you can always point others back to it.
Location 388

Integrity consists of many things, but it generally requires us to avoid behavior that readily leads to shame or remorse.
Location 403

To lie is to erect a boundary between the truth we are living and the perception others have of us. The temptation to do this is often born of an understanding that others will disapprove of our behavior. Often,
Location 405

Big lies have led many people to reflexively distrust those in positions of authority.
Location 425

We seem to be predisposed to remember statements as true even after they have been disconfirmed.
Location 437

Familiarity breeds credence.
Location 440

Justified government deception is a kind of ethical mirage: Just when you think you’re reaching it, the facts usually suggest otherwise.
Location 448

The ethics of war and espionage are the ethics of emergency—and are, therefore, necessarily limited in scope.
Location 455

Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.
Location 460

It seems that there are situations in which one must admit at the outset that one is not in the presence of an ethical intelligence that can be reasoned with.
Location 505

If someone is trying to kill me, I’m going to use the minimum effective force necessary to stop him.
Location 524

This one, I'm not so sure, and is a place of cognitive dissonance and moral dilemma for me. If someone is trying to kill me, and I do not use all effective force to stop him, he has the opportunity to try to kill me again. Surviving isn't a guaranteed better place to be. There's a scene in The Fall that sticks with me. In it, the murderer is raping a woman and her brother attempt to save her, but without an intention to kill the murderer, only to disable. As a result, the murderer recovers and kills them both. The circumstance is fictional. And yet, human nature.

But let’s face it, there are people who are up to no good in all kinds of ways. I’m not going to abet them in violating other people’s right to be left alone, and I’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid that.
Location 529

That’s life. It doesn’t all have a Hollywood ending. There are lots of pluses and minuses. Ultimately, we all die, and the only question is, what have you done between the time you’re born and the time you die?
Location 558

But we have to put a frame around the relevant facts of the present, and if a person hasn’t been perfectly ethical up until yesterday, he has to figure out how to live with the legacy of his misbehavior.
Location 587

He could say, “We’ve never talked about this. Is this something you really want to talk about today?” This may be the time, whatever their beliefs about what happens after death. Or he could say, “Look, we’ve got a very short time together, and whatever we’ve done in the past, if it doesn’t bring us joy now, let’s leave it behind.”
Location 599

Howard: I look at it another way: No matter how much time I’ve got left, I want to live a life that I have no regrets about.
Location 606

Do you view your life in terms of relationships or transactions? If you’re bidding on eBay, truth isn’t an issue. That is a completely transactional situation. If I’m dealing with my mechanic on an ongoing basis, it’s not a transaction. It’s a relationship, and he will make judgments about me and about my reliability as a person. And I will make judgments about him, and these judgments will have long-term effects for both of us. This alters the prisoner’s dilemma: If you have a relationship with a person, you’re going to have different beliefs about the prospect of his selling you out than you would if he were just some guy the experimenters grabbed and put in the situation with you.
Location 674

When your model of yourself in the world is at odds with how you actually are in the world, you are going to keep bumping into things.
Location 692

That’s why I want a very strong system to deter maxim-breakers based on restitution. In other words, some of these things you do are imposing costs on everyone else. I’ve never been burglarized, but I’m paying the price for people who commit burglary, through insurance and other costs. If you engage in that sort of behavior, you ought to pay the overhead for it.
Location 757

Insofar as it is possible, our justice system should oblige criminals to repay their debts to society rather than pointlessly suffer on account of them.
Location 760

Children have fantasy lives so rich and combustible that rigging them with lies is like putting a propeller on a rocket.
Location 799

[I]s the last child in class who still believes in Santa really grateful to have his first lesson in epistemology meted out by his fellow six-year-olds?
Location 800

There is a tension between avoiding danger and resisting evil—and how we resolve it will depend on many factors.
Location 826

A prison is perhaps the easiest place to see the power of bad incentives.
Location 851

As someone who has sat for many print interviews, I can attest to the insidious way that one’s vanity and trust may work to one’s disadvantage.
Location 877

Nevertheless, one must begin being truthful from wherever one happens to be in life.
Location 951

given a sufficiently hostile environment, lying will be the least of one’s problems. If a person is likely to be killed for his beliefs, misrepresenting them would be an ethical means of self-defense.
Location 1012

The Anxiety Toolkit

Book Notes

This book is how to deal with anxiety, coping mechanisms and the like. Again, I have no idea how this ended up in my to-read pile, a problem I am becoming more anxious about fixing as I write that statement again.

The anxieties described in the beginning of this book are not anxieties I have. Public speaking in and of itself does not cause me to become a ball of anxious jelly. I know that my voice will crack and my throat will become dry when I first start talking in front of a crowd, but my heart doesn't race and I feel notice the voice and throat from outside of myself, not inside. Neither am I stuck by nerves about doing basic adult tasks or looking out for myself. I believe I have done a very good job at identifying my anxieties and addressing my anxieties.

As such, when I read this book, I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the techniques and suggestions in the book. I didn't relate to the "do you feel X?" questions in the beginning of each chapter. I am grateful for whatever place I am on the autism scale that allowed me to dodge those particular emotions.

I was thinking this was an interesting book, but not applicable in a meaningful way to me, until I read the chapter on rumination.

Hooboy. Hello, Kitt.

This is the chapter I paid attention to. This is the chapter that made the rest of the book worth reading.

And that's the thing, isn't it?

We all have different manifestations of our anxieties and different ways of processing anxiety. We all have different triggers and different soothing mechanisms. Some people have fantastic soothing mechanisms, others need help, guidance, and a direction.

Boyes comments early and frequently:

Like any book, take what you find useful from it and ignore the rest.

Which sums up my opinion of the book. It's worth reading if you have anxieties or want to hear about other people's coping mechanism. Drinking to numbness is not a valid solution, for example, it is abdication of responsibility to your own life and a crappy coping mechanism. This book lists other, better coping mechanisms. Worth a read if you need some.

Update: Read Faith Harper's Coping Skills first. It's a shorter and better read for those needing immediate coping skills. Come back to this one once the worst is over.

To better manage your anxiety, you don’t need to understand the average anxious person — you need to understand the multidimensional you.
Page 19

People who are agreeable tend to prioritize getting along with others. They may not be willing to make waves when they can see problems with other people’s ideas or plans. In contrast, people who are naturally disagreeable may underestimate the importance of getting along with others and not invest enough in relationship building.
Page 26

If you’re anxious and agreeable, you may find yourself overcommitting to things because you overestimate the potential negative consequences of saying no.
Page 26

When people overfocus on anxiety for a long time, they tend to lose confidence in their capacity to be anything other than a walking ball of worry and rumination.
Page 33

When anxiety becomes a major problem for someone, it’s usually because the person has become stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle where the things he or she does to reduce anxiety in the short term cause it to multiply in the long term.
Page 37

Find the Goals Where Pursuing Them Is Worth Tolerating Anxiety
Page 42

Goals Don’t Need to Be Giant to Be Important to You
Page 43

When you’re thinking about goals, keep in mind that more ambitious goals aren’t “better” than less ambitious goals. Many people would rather visit 30 countries in a lifetime than 200.
Page 43

Experiment: What’s one idiosyncratic goal that’s important to you?
Page 44

However, there are some instances when anxiety causes people to restrict their goals.
Page 44

People with shaky self-worth may hold back from setting ambitious goals because they worry that others will see them as too confident or full of themselves.
Page 44

Your worry might be that you won’t get the alone time you need to feel balanced.
Page 45

If you’re constantly thinking of new goals, there’s nothing wrong with that either. It suggests you’re hardwired with a high need for novelty and excitement.
Page 46

Feeling happy is like feeling warm. It’s a state of being that feels good. It might sound counterintuitive but focusing directly on pursuing happiness isn’t always the best approach to increasing it. This parallels the idea that focusing on reducing anxiety isn’t always the best way to decrease it.
Page 47

Self-esteem is composed of (1) a sense of self-worth and (2) a sense of being competent at things. 4 For example, sources of self-worth might involve loving and being loved by others; an ability to make other people feel comfortable and at ease; or positive contributions you make to society, your field, or your community. In contrast, a sense of competency might come from being good at computer tasks, being able to prepare a dinner party for 10, or paying your bills on time. Try coming up with three sources of self-worth and three things you’re competent at. Aim to recognize areas you’ve tended to underappreciate.
Page 48

Whenever you’re feeling anxious, use this feeling as your cue to practice articulating your negative prediction and an alternative. Try prompting yourself to think of the best possible outcome, instead of just the worst.
Page 59

When you change a habit, you don’t so much break a bad habit as build up and strengthen a new one.
Page 59

If you’re currently stuck in pause mode, and have been for a while, taking some action is usually better than taking no action. When you can recognize the value of acting with uncertainty, you’ll help your brain start to interpret uncertainty as a positive or not-so-terrible state, rather than it causing your alarm bells to ring loudly.
Page 60

Try to come up with three examples of your own. If coming up with three examples is intimidating, come up with just one example.
Page 60

Nope. Go for 10.
Page 60

the vast majority of failures aren’t catastrophes.
Page 63

Many people underestimate their capacity to cope with trying something and not succeeding. Anxious people often worry about later regretting decisions and finding it hard to deal with the ensuing emotions.
Page 63

Anxiety tends to make people think in dichotomous, either/ or terms. A common example is seeing success and failure as the only two potential end points, rather than seeing a zigzagging path toward success that is dotted with failures along the way.
Page 65

1. Have you had any past experiences where you ended up succeeding after initial failure? List one. 2. Identify one area in which you have a fixed mindset. It should be a skill/ capacity you see as important to your success, where you see yourself as not as good as you’d like to be, and where you see that skill/ capacity as fixed. 3. Identify a new growth mindset that you’d like to strengthen.
Page 65

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to wait for your thoughts to change before you try behavioral shifts. Mental and behavioral shifts go hand in hand. When you start making changes in your behavior (even subtle ones), you’ll notice that all kinds of thoughts, including your view of yourself, start to shift. Changing your behavior, without waiting for your thoughts to always shift first, is one of the best and fastest ways you can reduce your anxiety.
Page 69

The best way to instantly feel less anxious is to slow your breathing. Try this whenever you feel physically overaroused due to anxiety, or when your thoughts are either racing or frozen. Slowing your breathing will automatically slow down your heart rate.
Page 70

Here are some tips for slowing your breathing: 1. Before you try to slow your breathing, drop your shoulders. It’ll make it easier. Also, focus on breathing slowly rather than breathing deeply. 2. If you have an area of tension in your body, like your neck and shoulders are tight, imagine you’re breathing fresh new air into those areas. There’s nothing sciencey about this, but lots of people like this method.
Page 70

Deciding when and where you’re going to do something will dramatically increase the likelihood you’ll follow through.
Page 71

Intermittent reinforcement means sometimes getting rewarded but without being able to predict when you’ll score vs. when you’ll strike out. 5 Intermittent reinforcement results in behaviors being quickly acquired and creates behaviors that are very persistent—
Page 72

The take-home message: Even if you achieve only intermittent reinforcement—that is, you experience success only sometimes—having some successes will make your behavior much more resilient, and you’ll be less likely to give up.
Page 72

regularly interact with people who are already successfully doing what you want to do.
Page 73

if you surround yourself with people who are already acting in the ways you need to act, this will likely rub off on you. You’ll be more likely to take action.
Page 73

When an opportunity to act with uncertainty comes up, articulate the potential upsides of taking action:
Page 73

Look for small ways to practice hesitating a little less than you usually would.
Page 74

give yourself some criteria for making quicker decisions.
Page 74

Believe it or not, psychologists have a term to describe people who like to think a lot. The trait is called need for cognition. It refers to people who enjoy effortful thinking and feel motivated to attempt to understand and make sense of things.
Page 78

Ruminating can sometimes be a bit like daydreaming, in that people often get lost in rumination without realizing they’re doing it.
Page 80

Experiment: Jot down a list of the different topics of rumination you’re prone to. Use the following ideas to brainstorm, or just fill in the blanks: Replaying conversations with people in power positions in your life. For example, replaying conversations, including email conversations, with [insert names of people] . Replaying memories of experiences of failure from the past. For example, . Thinking about ways in which you’re not as perfect as you’d like to be. For example, thinking you’re not as good at as you’d like. Thinking about things you should be doing to be more successful, such as . Thinking about whether you’re too much of a loser to ever have success and happiness. Replaying small errors you’ve made, such as . Thinking about the path not taken, such as .
Page 80

when you’re ruminating: Don’t trust your memory. You might be ruminating about something fictional or at least magnified.
Page 81

Experiment: Do you have any current rumination topics where memory bias might be playing a role?
Page 81

Answer the following questions: 1. What’s your ruminating mind telling you? 2. What are the objective data telling you about whether your ruminative thoughts are likely to be correct?
Page 81

3. Are you recalling feedback as harsher than it was or recalling blips in your performance as worse than they were?
Page 82

However, because anxiety tends to make thinking negative, narrow, and rigid, it’s difficult to do creative problem solving when you’re feeling highly anxious.
Page 82

Reducing self-criticism is a critical part of reducing rumination.
Page 83

harsh self-criticism doesn’t help you move forward because it isn’t a very effective motivational tool,
Page 84

Acknowledging the emotions you’re feeling (such as embarrassed, disappointed, upset) and then giving yourself compassion will lead to your making better choices than criticizing yourself will.
Page 84

Identify a mistake or weakness that you want to focus on, and then write for three minutes using the following instructions: “Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this weakness (or mistake) from a compassionate and understanding perspective. What would you say?” Try this experiment
Page 84

Try to notice when you get caught in should/ shouldn’t thinking traps, in which you criticize yourself just for feeling anxious.
Page 85

Try this: Switch out any shoulds hidden in your self-talk and replace them with prefer. 7 For example, instead of saying “I should have achieved more by now” try “I would prefer to have achieved more by now.”
Page 86

Doing something useful then further helps lift you out of rumination.
Page 86

if you’re jumping to any negative conclusions about why the person hasn’t responded and try coming up with alternative explanations that are plausible.
Page 87

Often you won’t find out the reasons for other people’s actions, which is part of why this type of rumination tends to be so futile.
Page 87

Humans like to have explanations for why things happen. When we don’t have one, we tend to invent something. Sometimes the explanations involve personalizing. Personalizing is when you take something more personally than it was meant in reality.
Page 88

you need to learn to tolerate that you’re not always going to know why people behave the way they do.
Page 88

Recognize that if someone acts strangely, there’s a very high likelihood that the behavior has something to do with what’s happening for that person, rather than being about you, and you’re probably never going to know what the reason was.
Page 88

Start with three minutes of one of the following practices, and increase the time you spend meditating by 30 seconds each day: Pay attention to the physical sensations of your breathing. Lie down and put your hand on your abdomen to feel the sensations of it rising as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out. Sit or lie down and listen to any sounds and the silence between sounds. Let sounds just come in and out of your awareness regardless of whether they’re relaxing sounds or not. Walk for three minutes and pay attention to what you see. Walk and pay attention to the feelings of air on your skin. Walk and pay attention to the physical sensations of your body moving. Do three minutes of open awareness, in which you pay attention to any sensations that show up. Pay attention to anything in the here and now, which could be sounds, your breathing, the sensations of your body making contact with your chair, or the sensations of your feet on the floor. Spend three minutes paying attention to any sensations of pain, tension, comfort, or relaxation in your body. You don’t need to try to change the sensations; just allow them to be what they are, and ebb and flow as they do.
Page 89

When your thoughts drift away from what you’re supposed to be paying attention to, gently (and without self-criticism) bring them back. Expect to need to do this a lot. It’s a normal part of doing mindfulness meditation and doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. You’re likely to get
Page 90

forward. To shift out of rumination and into problem-solving mode, concretely and realistically define what your best three to six options are.
Page 91

Defining your options relieves some of the stress of rumination and helps you shift to effective problem solving. Keeping your list of options short will prevent you from running into choice-overload problems.
Page 91

Experiment: Practice concretely defining your best three to six options for moving forward with a problem you’re currently ruminating or worrying about. Write brief bullet points, like in the example just given. You can use this method for all sorts of problems.
Page 92

Imagery exposure is a technique in which you vividly recall a situation you’ve been ruminating about,
Page 92

To start, recall all the sights and sounds of the past situation (or feared situation) in as much detail as you can. For
Page 93

Deliberately keep the image in mind until your anxiety falls to half of where it started (or less). For example, if vividly recalling the situation triggers 8 out of 10 anxiety initially, hold the image in mind until your anxiety drops to about a level 4. Repeat the imagery exposure exercise at least once a day until you can bring the image to mind without it triggering more than about half of the peak anxiety you experienced the first time you tried imagery exposure.
Page 93

If you’re ruminating because you’ve been putting off dealing with an issue, taking any level of action to address what you’ve been avoiding will usually help alleviate your rumination.
Page 94

Move Ruminative Thinking Forward by Asking Questions
Page 95

Ask questions as a way of unclogging stuck thinking. When you ask questions, you may get useful new information, or just the process of asking the questions may stimulate your own thinking. Sometimes even getting unhelpful responses can help you move forward, because they prompt you to define your problem differently. This often happens when someone misunderstands your question and gives an unhelpful, irrelevant response, but this makes you reformulate your question in a clearer form.
Page 95

Thinking Shifts to Overcome Unhelpful Types of Perfectionism Anxiety-related thinking patterns can contribute to problems like prioritizing the wrong types of tasks, feeling burned out, and getting intensely frustrated when results aren’t coming as quickly or consistently as you’d like.
Page 101

If you can shift your thinking from a performance focus to a mastery focus, you’ll become less fearful, more resilient, and more open to good, new ideas. Performance focus is when your highest priority is to show you can do something well now. Mastery focus is when you’re mostly concerned with advancing your skills.
Page 104

A mastery focus can help you persist after setbacks.
Page 104

Mastery goals will help you become less upset about individual instances of failure.
Page 105

What’s your most important mastery goal right now? Complete this sentence: “My goal is to master the skills involved in
Page 105

How would people with your mastery goal: 1. React to mistakes, setbacks, disappointments, and negative moods? 2. Prioritize which tasks they work on? What types of tasks would they deprioritize? 3. React when they’d sunk a lot of time into something and then realized a particular strategy or idea didn’t have the potential they’d hoped it would? 4. Ensure they were optimizing their learning and skill acquisition? 5. React when they felt anxious?
Page 105

3. How would you talk to yourself differently if you had more acceptance of this? What would you say to yourself?
Page 107

More Useful Pattern Anxiety/ frustration “I need to work harder” thinking error Spot the thinking trap Take a break Resume and maintain the behavioral goal I know works for me
Page 109

Thoughts are just thoughts; the problem is that we accept thoughts as true, and confuse feelings with facts. Part of the reason this happens is memory bias: Your brain will tend to remember events from the past that match your current mood.
Page 111

Therefore, regaining confidence is often just a matter of being patient and waiting for a negative or anxious mood to pass.
Page 112

Excessive expectations plus anxiety get in the way of generating ideas.
Page 112

Instead, try asking yourself: What do I know that’s relevant to solving my problem or helping me answer my question? How could I replicate something I’ve already done successfully, but with a twist? How could I combine two concepts that could be combined but aren’t usually? (Like croissants + donuts = cronuts) How could I take a successful method and replicate it with different ingredients? (Such as you notice the title of a viral blog post and copy the form of the title for a blog post you’re writing about a different topic.) Experiment: Try thinking of a successful method and how the method could be replicated but with different ingredients.
Page 113

The following are some ways of making more willpower available to you: Reduce the number of tasks you attempt to get done each day to a very small number. Always identify what your most important task is, and make sure you get that single task done. You can group together your trivial tasks, like replying to emails or paying bills online, and count those as just one item. Refresh your available willpower by doing tasks slowly.
Page 114

Slowing down in this way is considered a form of mindfulness practice.
Page 115

Another way to refresh your willpower is by taking some slow breaths or doing any of the mindfulness practices
Page 115

Know Your Warning Signs That You’ve Persisted Too Long
Page 116

Define your overpersistence warning signs in objective and specific ways. This will make it harder to ignore them than if your definitions were fuzzy.
Page 116

We all have recency bias, meaning recent memories tend to be the most salient.
Page 117

Experiment with what it’s like to stop working while you’re in the zone and still enjoying a task rather than when you’re exhausted and frustrated.
Page 117

A behavioral experiment you can try is delegating or outsourcing tasks you feel overwhelmed by.
Page 118

To help you be less tempted to jump around, reduce your exposure to excessive information and alternatives.
Page 119

questions. Write down one specific example of each.
Page 126

Have you avoided seeking feedback early on only to later realize that earlier feedback would’ve saved you from continuing down the wrong track for so long? When? Have you avoided feedback only to later realize your fears of negative feedback were unjustified? How long did you worry unnecessarily? What was that like for you? Have you had times when your predictions of negative feedback came true, but it was a much milder experience than you’d anticipated? Have you had an experience where you realized that making the required changes was much easier than you thought, and you had endured extra worry for no reason? What cool opportunities have you opted out of because you didn’t want to expose yourself to even the possibility of negative feedback?
Page 127

One of the reasons anxious people fear feedback is that they tend to judge their performance more harshly than others judge them.
Page 127

Just like everyone has a vision blind spot, everyone has cognitive blind spots that can lead to making less than stellar choices.
Page 128

Think about a specific scenario in which you fear negative feedback. If your fears came true: How would you go about making the required changes? How could you be self-accepting of your sensitivity to criticism? How could you talk to yourself gently about the emotions you’re feeling instead of criticizing yourself for feeling upset? How could you be patient with yourself while you’re having those feelings? What self-care would you do while you wait for your hurt and upset feelings to pass? (Yes, rewatching episodes of ’90s TV is a totally acceptable answer. 3) What personal support would you access to cope with your emotions? For example, you’d talk to a friend.
Page 129

Anxiety can cause people to sometimes misinterpret feedback once they’ve received it. When people feel anxious, they tend to interpret ambiguous information (and lack of feedback) as negative.
Page 130

You need to train yourself to consider the possibility that whatever has happened might not be personal. The second is recognizing that negative feedback does not necessarily mean the person doesn’t like you, doesn’t respect your capabilities, or doesn’t recognize your potential.
Page 131

Anxiety (and stress) can make people more vulnerable to the hostility bias, a type of personalizing where you jump to the conclusion that other people have hostile intent.
Page 132

The hostility bias often crops up in the workplace and in other group settings. For example, others offer you suggestions. You experience those suggestions as being attacked or nitpicked.
Page 132

the best way to tackle the hostility bias in the moment is to slow your breathing to calm yourself physiologically, then use a behavioral strategy such as “canned responses” (see the next section).
Page 133

You can prepare some verbal canned responses for times when you need to stall, without appearing defensive while you’re mentally processing feedback. Some examples: I think you’ve got a good point about ____. I’ll think about everything you’ve said. I need to process your feedback and mull it over. That’s an interesting way to look at it. Let me think about how I can incorporate your feedback. Let me think about how best to proceed from here. I’ll email you with some thoughts.
Page 133

You can also have canned responses for when you feel embarrassed that a blind spot has been revealed. For example: I hadn’t thought of it like that. That’s really useful. Thanks for alerting me to that way of looking at it. That’s a great idea. I often come away from our conversations with a new perspective.
Page 134

Acting as if you feel relaxed is one of the fastest ways to actually feel more calm. If you get an anxiety spike when you receive feedback or tend to feel defensive, try making your body language more open.
Page 134

Drop your shoulders, lift your head, make gentle eye contact, and relax your hands. When you do this, your
Page 135

When you ask people to give you feedback, ask for it in the form of a “poop sandwich.” The poop sandwich is feedback given in the following order—something you did well, a problem or learning edge, something else you did well. Try to give and receive feedback using this technique.
Page 136

Sometimes anxious people need time to process a little bit of feedback before they’re open to receiving more.
Page 137

Avoidance will eat you alive psychologically if you don’t work on it.
Page 142

How avoidance coping manifests for you will depend on what your dominant response type is when you’re facing something you’d rather avoid. There are three possible responses: freezing, fleeing, or fighting.
Page 142

By recognizing the gap between your values and your behavior, you can find the motivation to overcome your avoidance.
Page 145

Guilt is psychologically healthy. Shame is not. The difference between guilt and shame is that guilt is about feeling bad about a behavior; shame is about feeling bad about who you are.
Page 145

If you up your belief in your ability to cope with facing an upsetting reality, you’ll experience less desire to avoid.
Page 146

Examples That’s Me (indicate with a ) All or nothing thinking / Rigid thinking / Unrelenting standards / Perfectionism You need to clean a whole room but don’t have the energy. You do nothing rather than clean one or two things in the room. You believe that everything needs to be done to an excellent level. If you can’t do something to an excellent level, you tend to avoid it completely. You set unrealistic productivity goals for how much you can get done. This causes you to avoid everything completely because you feel overwhelmed. Negative predictions You expect that if you try something you’ll fail. You put off asking for things because you think other people won’t be interested or expect they’ll say no (mind reading). You put off getting user feedback because you expect it will be negative / You avoid testing products with real customers. You overestimate how difficult or unpleasant a task will be. Underestimating your ability to cope You underestimate your ability to cope with boring, stressful, or anxiety-provoking tasks. Personalizing: personalizing your difficulty with a task rather than seeing the task itself as difficult, which gives you an excuse to avoid You think the reason you struggle with something is because you’re too stupid to figure it out rather than thinking it’s inherently challenging and has a learning curve. You think you’re the only one who has problems with something.
Page 149

You make a list of all the situations and behaviors you avoid due to anxiety. You then assign a number to each item on your list based on how anxiety provoking you expect doing the avoided behavior would be. Use numbers from 0 (= not anxiety provoking at all) to 100 (= you would fear having an instant panic attack).
Page 150

Aim to construct a list that has several avoided actions in each 10-point range.
Page 150

Make a plan for how you can work through your hierarchy, starting at the bottom of the list. Where possible, repeat an avoided behavior several times before you move up to the next level.
Page 150

During the 30 days, take as many opportunities as you can to be less avoidant than you usually would be.
Page 151

As situations come up, focus on taking some action, even if you’re not certain what the absolute right action is.
Page 151

Don’t be too all-or-nothing about overcoming avoidance coping. We all have only so much willpower available for dealing with things we’d prefer not to do.
Page 152

When you’re avoiding something, try identifying the next action you need to take to move forward. Do that action.
Page 152

After you’ve worked on a task you’ve been avoiding, allow yourself to enjoy the fruits of your labor by taking some time to relax.
Page 155

assume that if you don’t plan when and where you’re going to do something, you’re probably not going to do it. If you avoid choosing when and where you’ll do a task, take that as a clue that you’re not committed to doing it.
Page 157

Pick a smaller action for which you are willing to plan when and where you’ll do it.
Page 157

Antiprocrastination strategies that can work well for a while can stop working. Accept that you’ll need to switch strategies in and out.
Page 158

Some areas in which you can set up your life to fit your temperament are: Have the right level of busyness in your life.
Page 169

Pick the physical activity level that’s right for you.
Page 169

Having pleasurable activities to look forward to and enough physical activity will help protect you against depression. Have the right level of social contact in your life, and have routines that put this on autopilot.
Page 169

Allow yourself the right amount of mental space to work up to doing something—enough time that you can do some mulling over the prospect of getting started but not so much time that it starts to feel like avoidance of getting started.
Page 170

Have self-knowledge of what types of stress you find most difficult to process. Don’t voluntarily expose yourself to those types without considering alternatives.
Page 170

It’s sometimes easy to forget other people’s emotional needs when you’re putting so much hard work into your own.
Page 171

Also make sure that the first thing you say to your loved one when you reunite at the end of the day is something positive rather than complaining, whining, or handing out honey do’s
Page 171

use feeling anxious, stuck, or overwhelmed as your cue to ask yourself whether any of your most common behavioral traps are the culprit.
Page 174

Make sure you have a plan for an alternative action you can take when you notice yourself sucked into your most frequent behavioral traps.
Page 174

Many of the anxious people I’ve met are prone to excessive responsibility taking. They really don’t like to let anyone down and typically work hard to avoid conflict or other people being potentially unhappy with them. And they usually have high standards for self-performance.
Page 181

problem solving should generally involve concretely defining what the problem is, generating a short list of your best options for moving forward, picking something, and deciding when and where you’re going to implement that solution.
Page 184

Being in thinking-only mode for long periods is comforting in the same way that overeating junk food for long periods is. It feels comfortable in the moment, but in the long term, you end up far from where you wanted to be.
Page 184

Anxious people sometimes spend too much time and energy trying to change other people. Be aware if you’re doing this as a way of avoiding focusing on yourself and your own goals. Of course it’s easier to shift focus to what others could change rather than deal with the psychological work that’s sitting on your own plate.
Page 187

It’s really important that you like who you are. Provided you’re not a serial killer, no one deserves the emotional pain of going through life not liking themselves
Page 196

List your top five strengths as a person. Since you’re free to revise your list at any point (it’s yours after all), don’t get too perfectionistic about it. Once you have your list, identify a task you currently need to do. How could you apply one of your top five strengths to approach that task in a new way?
Page 199

The Consolations of Philosophy

Book Notes

While in large need of self-soothing and anxiety reducing, I went to every paper store in Nottingham that I could map out within walking distance of where I was. One of the places was a bookstore at the top of a flight of winding stairs with walls plastered with lots of NO and DO NOT DO THIS THING OR THAT THING. The entrance was more than a little off-putting, but the store itself was full of lots of quirky books and design books that seemed right in line with my style. I saw many books that I owned, which was favorable to me.

The proprietor saw me soon after I walked in, and wandered over to talk with me. He offered the usual greetings, which I answered with my own greetings. I expected him to let me wander after the pleasantries, but he continued speaking. He kept talking about the book store and other things, then asked what I liked to read. I explained my current non-fiction kick, and he started handing me books as suggestions.

And kept handing me books.

And talking.

I kept setting the books down where-ever I happened to be standing.

And turning around in clear social norms indicating that I wanted not to be talking.

He kept talking.

I really wanted him to stop talking, so that I could look at the books at my own speed. He didn't stop talking.

So, I listened to a couple of his suggestions, bought The Consolations of Philosophy, along with The Consolation of Philosophy, of which the former is a riff, and left.

I read Consolations this week.

The timing of it was great for me.

The book has six consolations: consolations for unpopularity, consolations for not having enough money, consolations for frustration, consolations for inadequacy, consolations for a broken heart, and consolations for difficulties. Each section has a philosopher featured, a short essay on his philosophy, and a section for, hey, things aren't so bad, here's what he thought and how it is relevant to your situation.

I enjoyed the book, I enjoyed the introduction to the new philosophers and descriptions of the ones I knew. Not sure I was particularly consoled per se, but I was entertained. Worth reading.

In conversations, my priority was to be liked, rather than to speak the truth.
Page 7

Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational, as opposed to hysterical, confidence when faced with disapproval.
Page 7

Every society has notions of what one should believe and how one should behave in order to avoid suspicion and unpopularity.
Page 9

If we refrain from questioning the status quo, it is – aside from the weather and the size of our cities – primarily because we associate what is popular with what is right.
Page 16

[W]hich suggests that we pick our friends not only because they are kind and enjoyable company, but also, perhaps more importantly, because they understand us for who we think we are.
Page 147

Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to.
Page 148

There are, so Montaigne implied, no legitimate reasons why books in the humanities should be difficult or boring; wisdom does not require a specialized vocabulary or syntax, nor does an audience benefit from being wearied.
Page 158

Carefully used, boredom can be a valuable indicator of the merit of books.
Page 158

But writing with simplicity requires courage, for there is a danger that one will be overlooked, dismissed as simpleminded by those with a tenacious belief that impassable prose is a hallmark of intelligence.
Page 159

Yet in Montaigne’s schema of intelligence, what matters in a book is usefulness and appropriateness to life; it is less valuable to convey with precision what Plato wrote or Epicurus meant than to judge whether what they have said is interesting and could in the early hours help us over anxiety or loneliness. The responsibility of authors in the humanities is not to quasi-scientific accuracy, but to happiness and health.
Page 160

It is tempting to quote authors when they express our very own thoughts but with a clarity and psychological accuracy we cannot match. They know us better than we know ourselves. What is shy and confused in us is succinctly and elegantly phrased in them,
Page 161

It is striking how much more seriously we are likely to be taken after we have been dead a few centuries. Statements which might be acceptable when they issue from the quills of ancient authors are likely to attract ridicule when expressed by contemporaries. Critics are not inclined to bow before the grander pronouncements of those with whom they attended university.
Page 163

We may take this in two ways: that no one is genuinely marvellous, but that only families and staff are close enough to discern the disappointing truth. Or that many people are interesting, but that if they are too close to us in age and place, we are likely not to take them too seriously, on account of a curious bias against what is at hand.
Page 164

The philosopher might have offered unflattering explanations of why we fall in love, but there was consolation for rejection –the consolation of knowing that our pain is normal. We should not feel confused by the enormity of the upset that can ensue from only a few days of hope.
Page 194

Love could not induce us to take on the burden of propagating the species without promising us the greatest happiness we could imagine. To be shocked at how deeply rejection hurts is to ignore what acceptance involves. We must never allow our suffering to be compounded by suggestions that there is something odd in suffering so deeply.
Page 194

We should in time learn to forgive our rejectors.
Page 194

In every clumsy attempt by one person to inform another that they need more space or time, that they are reluctant to commit or are afraid of intimacy, the rejector is striving to intellectualize an essentially unconscious negative verdict formulated by the will-to-life.
Page 194

It is consoling, when love has let us down, to hear that happiness was never part of the plan. The darkest thinkers may, paradoxically, be the most cheering:
Page 197

What we encounter in works of art and philosophy are objective versions of our own pains and struggles, evoked and defined in sound, language or image. Artists and philosophers not only show us what we have felt, they present our experiences more poignantly and intelligently than we have been able; they give shape to aspects of our lives that we recognize as our own, yet could never have understood so clearly on our own. They explain our condition to us, and thereby help us to be less lonely with, and confused by it.
Page 199

The greatest works of art speak to us without knowing of us.
Page 200

The most fulfilling human projects appeared inseparable from a degree of torment, the sources of our greatest joys lying awkwardly close to those of our greatest pains:
Page 215

Why? Because no one is able to produce a great work of art without experience, nor achieve a worldly position immediately, nor be a great lover at the first attempt; and in the interval between initial failure and subsequent success, in the gap between who we wish one day to be and who we are at present, must come pain, anxiety, envy and humiliation. We suffer because we cannot spontaneously master the ingredients of fulfilment.
Page 215

Christianity had, in Nietzsche’s account, emerged from the minds of timid slaves in the Roman Empire who had lacked the stomach to climb to the tops of mountains, and so had built themselves a philosophy claiming that their bases were delightful. Christians had wished to enjoy the real ingredients of fulfilment (a position in the world, sex, intellectual mastery, creativity) but did not have the courage to endure the difficulties these goods demanded. They had therefore fashioned a hypocritical creed denouncing what they wanted but were too weak to fight for while praising what they did not want but happened to have.
Page 237

Virtue and Terror

Book Notes

This is one of those books that sits with you for a long while after you have finished reading it. If you don't know the circumstances happening at the time of the writing, or about the author, Maximilien Robespierre, himself, then the book might not linger.

If you recognize that the earlier works of Robespierre are what you want to hear from a leader, someone who is actively championing the underdog, the little guy, the poor, who believes in basic human rights for everyone, who actively fights against slavery; and then realize that the same man led the new government that overthrew the previous government and subsequently started murdering anyone who opposed the new government (or who was even suspected of opposing the new government), then you begin to recognize why the book is sticking with you for so long.

Yes, we want things to be fair. Yes, we want to be rewarded for our hard work. Yes, it would be great if everyone had an equal chance at opportunities. Yes, we want justice and equality.

But here we have a man who was against the death penalty, but argued strongly for the right of a government to execute, murder, anyone who opposed said government. You will have your Liberty by force, dammit.

Much of the justification he uses, yeah, I agree with. Some of it, not so much. This isn't a period in history that I paid strong attention to, though I wish I had, but from these kinds of writings. You can read about history, and yes, it reads like a story book. Then you read some of these works, you hear the words, you feel the emotions, and realize it wasn't a story, it happened, these were people. Suddenly, history becomes this absolutely fascinating saga about human nature. You can see how Robespierre played people, how our motivations are the same, how influence works, and how neuroscience has helped us understand many of these things.

We're still confusing creatures, but we have patterns. This book shows just how much they haven't changed.

I strongly recommend this book. It is a slow read.

Unformatted quotes that caught my attention:

The further crucial point to bear in mind is that, for Robespierre, revolutionary terror is the very opposite of war: Robespierre was a pacifist, not out of hypocrisy or humanitarian sensitivity, but because he was well aware that war among nations as a rule serves as the means to obfuscate revolutionary struggle within each nation.
Location 107

And this is what Robespierre aims at in his famous accusation to the moderates that what they really want is a ‘revolution without a revolution’: they want a revolution deprived of the excess in which democracy and terror coincide, a revolution respecting social rules, subordinated to pre-existing norms, a revolution in which violence is deprived of the ‘divine’ dimension and thus reduced to a strategic intervention serving precise and limited goals: Citizens, did you want a revolution without a revolution? What is this spirit of persecution that has come to revise, so to speak, the one that broke our chains? But what sure judgement can one make of the effects that can follow these great commotions? Who can mark, after the event, the exact point at which the waves of popular insurrection should break? At that price, what people could ever have shaken off the yoke of despotism? For while it is true that a great nation cannot rise in a simultaneous movement, and that tyranny can only be hit by the portion of citizens that is closest to it, how would these ever dare to attack it if, after the victory, delegates from remote parts could hold them responsible for the duration or violence of the political torment that had saved the homeland? They ought to be regarded as justified by tacit proxy for the whole of society. The French, friends of liberty, meeting in Paris last August, acted in that role, in the name of all the departments. They should either be approved or repudiated entirely. To make them criminally responsible for a few apparent or real disorders, inseparable from so great a shock, would be to punish them for their devotion.
Location 151

The best way to approach it is via Freud’s reluctance to endorse the injunction ‘Love thy neighbour!’ –the temptation to be resisted here is the ethical domestication of the neighbour –for example, what Emmanuel Levinas did with his notion of the neighbour as the abyssal point from which the call of ethical responsibility emanates.
Location 196

Robespierre, in a true master stroke, assumes full subjectivization –waiting a little bit for the ominous effect of his words to take place, he then continues in the first-person singular: ‘I say that anyone who trembles at this moment is guilty; for innocence never fears public scrutiny.’ 16
Location 244

there are no innocent bystanders in the crucial moments of revolutionary decision, because, in such moments, innocence itself –exempting oneself from the decision, going on as if the struggle I am witnessing does not really concern me –is the highest treason.
Location 250

This is how Yamamoto Jocho, a Zen priest, described the proper attitude of a warrior: every day without fail one should consider oneself as dead. There is a saying of the elders that goes, ‘Step from under the eaves and you’re a dead man. Leave the gate and the enemy is waiting.’ This is not a matter of being careful. It is to consider oneself as dead beforehand. 18
Location 270

Every legal order (or every order of explicit normativity) has to rely on a complex ‘reflexive’ network of informal rules which tells us how are we to relate to the explicit norms, how are we to apply them: to what extent are we to take them literally, how and when are we allowed, solicited even, to disregard them, etc. –and this is the domain of habit. To know the habits of a society is to know the metarules of how to apply its explicit norms: when to use them or not use them; when to violate them; when not to use a choice which is offered; when we are effectively obliged to do something, but have to pretend that we are doing it as a free choice (as in the case of potlatch).
Location 295

Recall the polite offer-meant-to-be-refused: it is a ‘habit’ to refuse such an offer, and anyone who accepts such an offer commits a vulgar blunder. The same goes for many political situations in which a choice is given on condition that we make the right choice: we are solemnly reminded that we can say no –but we are expected to reject this offer and enthusiastically say yes.
Location 300

To cast off the yoke of habit means: if all men are equal, then all men are to be effectively treated as equal; if blacks are also human, they should be immediately treated as such.
Location 314

Of course, radical bourgeois revolutionaries are aware of this limitation; however, the way they try to amend it is through a direct ‘terrorist’ imposition of more and more de facto equality (equal wages, equal health treatment …), which can only be imposed through new forms of formal inequality (different sorts of preferential treatments of the under-privileged).
Location 342

How are we to reinvent the Jacobin terror?
Location 406

Actually, what IS jacobian terror?
Location 406

Kant’s well-known thesis that Reason without Intuition is empty, while Intuition without Reason is blind: is not its political counterpart Robespierre’s dictum according to which Virtue without Terror is impotent, while Terror without Virtue is lethal, striking blindly?
Location 424

It is only such a radical stance that allows us to break with today’s predominant mode of politics, post-political biopolitics, which is a politics of fear, formulated as a defence against a potential victimization or harassment. Therein resides the true line of separation between radical emancipatory politics and the politics of the status quo: it is not the difference between two different positive visions, sets of axioms, but, rather, the difference between the politics based on a set of universal axioms and the politics which renounces the very constitutive dimension of the political, since it resorts to fear as its ultimate mobilizing principle: fear of immigrants, fear of crime, fear of godless sexual depravity, fear of the excessive state itself (with its burdensome taxation), fear of ecological catastrophes –such a (post) politics always amounts to a frightening rallying of frightened men.
Location 452

liberty consists in obeying laws voluntarily adopted, and servitude in being forced to submit to an outside will.
Location 987

All men born and domiciled in France are members of the political society called the French nation, in other words French citizens. That is what they are by the nature of things and by the main principles of the law of nations. The rights attached to this title depend neither on the fortune each individual possesses, nor on the amount of taxation to which he is subject, because it is not tax that makes us citizens; the quality of citizen only obliges him to contribute to the common expenditure of the state, according to his abilities. Now you can give laws to the citizens, but you cannot annihilate them.
Location 990

I ought only to answer with a word or two: the people, that multitude of men whose cause I am defending, have rights that come from the same origin as your own. Who gave you the power to take them away? General practicality,
Location 1007

There is more: unless you do everything for liberty, you have done nothing. There are no two ways of being free: one must be entirely free, or become a slave once more. The least resource left to despotism will soon restore its power.
Location 1026

The law, the public authority: is it not established to protect weakness against injustice and oppression? It is thus an offence to all social principles to place it entirely in the hands of the rich.
Location 1044

Do you really believe in all honesty that a hard and laborious life produces more faults than softness, luxury and ambition? And
Location 1063

Abuses are the work and the domain of the rich, they are the scourges of the people: the interest of the people is the general interest, that of the rich is a particular interest;
Location 1077

It gives the citizens this astonishing lesson: ‘Be rich, whatever the cost, or you will be nothing.’
Location 1155

To make laws to restore and establish the rights of your constituents. It is thus not possible for you to strip them of those same rights.
Location 1184

It falls only to the essentially infallible Being to be immutable; to change is not just a right but a duty for any human will that has faltered. Men who decide the fate of other men are less exempt than anyone from this common obligation.
Location 1200

it is necessary for surveillance by honest people to stand against the forces of ambitious and corrupt intriguers.
Location 1276

It is in the nature of things that the march of reason should be slow and gradual.
Location 1397

The most depraved government finds powerful support in the prejudices, the habits, the education of peoples.
Location 1397

In a sort of despair, they want to hurl themselves into a foreign war, as if they hoped that the mere change brought about by war would bring us to life, or that order and liberty would eventually emerge from the general confusion.
Location 1417

There are in revolutions movements contrary to liberty and movements that favour it, as in illnesses there are salutary crises and mortal ones. The favourable movements are those aimed directly against tyrants, like the Americans’ insurrection, or that of 14 July. But war on the outside, provoked, directed by the government in the circumstances we are in now, is a movement in the wrong direction, a crisis that could lead to the death of the body politic. Such a war can only send public opinion off on a false scent, divert the nation’s well-founded anxieties, and forestall the favourable crisis that attacks by enemies of liberty might have brought on.
Location 1420

During a foreign war the people, as I said, distracted by military events from political deliberations affecting the essential foundations of its liberty, is less inclined to take seriously the underhand manoeuvres of plotters who are undermining it and the executive government which is knocking it about, and pay less attention to the weakness or corruption of representatives who are failing to defend it.
Location 1425

The sort of man who would look with horror on the betrayal of the homeland can still be led by adroit officers to run its best citizens through with steel;
Location 1438

I am enlightening it; to enlighten free men is to awaken their courage, to prevent that courage itself from becoming a stumbling-block to their liberty;
Location 1472

I neither deny them nor believe them; for I have heard too many calumnies to believe denunciations that come from the same source and that all bear the imprint of bias or passion.
Location 1539

Might you not also reproach us for having illegally smashed the mercenary scribblers, whose profession was to propagate fraud and blaspheme against liberty?
Location 1551

Who can mark, after the event, the exact point at which the waves of popular insurrection should break? At that price, what people could ever have shaken off the yoke of despotism?
Location 1571

For while it is true that a great nation cannot rise in a simultaneous movement, and that tyranny can only be hit by the portion of citizens that is closest to it, how would these ever dare to attack it if, after the victory, delegates from remote parts could hold them responsible for the duration or violence of the political torment that had saved the homeland? They ought to be regarded as justified by tacit proxy for the whole of society.
Location 1572

M. Louvet himself generalized, in a very vague way, the accusation directed earlier against me personally; from this it seems certain that calumny had been doing its work in the shadows.
Location 1587

To form an accurate idea of these events, the truth should be sought, not in the writings or slanderous speeches that have misrepresented them, but in the history of the recent revolution.
Location 1596

So you only talk about dictatorship in order to exercise it yourself without any restraint; you only talk about proscriptions and tyranny because you want to proscribe and tyrannize.
Location 1656

I renounce the just vengeance I would have a right to pursue against the slanderers; I ask that that vengeance be nothing more than the return of peace and the triumph of liberty.
Location 1663

In every country where nature provides for the needs of men with prodigality, scarcity can only be imputed to defects of administration or of the laws themselves; bad laws and bad administration have their origins in false principles and bad morals.
Location 1678

You need at least to subject to severe examination all the laws made under royal despotism and under the auspices of noble, ecclesiastical or bourgeois aristocracy; and so far you have no others at all.
Location 1684

freedom of trade is necessary up to the point where homicidal greed starts to abuse it;
Location 1694

Common sense indicates, for example, the truth that foodstuffs that are in no way essential to life can be left to untrammelled speculation by the merchant; any momentary scarcity that might be felt is always a bearable inconvenience; and it is acceptable in general that the unlimited freedom of such a market should turn to the greater profit of the state and some individuals; but the lives of men cannot be subjected to the same uncertainty. It is not necessary that I be able to purchase brilliant fabrics; but I do need to be rich enough to buy bread, for myself and my children. The merchant is welcome to retain goods coveted by wealth and vanity in his shops, until he finds the moment to sell them at the highest possible price; but no man has the right to amass piles of wheat, when his neighbour is dying of hunger.
Location 1704

What is the first object of society? It is to maintain the imprescriptible rights of man. What is the first of those rights? The right to life.
Location 1710

The first social law is therefore the one that guarantees all members of society the means to live; all the others are subordinate to that one; property was only instituted and guaranteed to consolidate it; it is primarily to live that people have property.
Location 1711

No doubt if all men were just and virtuous; if cupidity were never tempted to devour the people’s substance; if the rich, receptive to the voices of reason and nature, regarded themselves as the bursars of society, or as brothers to the poor, it might be possible to recognize no law but the most unlimited freedom;
Location 1726

Let the circulation of goods be protected throughout the whole Republic; but let the necessary measures be taken to ensure that circulation takes place. It is precisely the lack of circulation that I am complaining about. For the scourge of the people, the source of scarcity, is the obstacles placed in the way of circulation, under the pretext of rendering it unlimited. Does public subsistence circulate when greedy speculators are keeping it piled in their granaries? Does it circulate, when it is accumulated in the hands of a small number of millionaires who withhold it from the market, to make it more valuable and rare; who coldly calculate how many families must perish before the commodity reaches the release date fixed by their atrocious avarice?
Location 1735

Ha! what sort of good citizen can complain of being obliged to act with probity and in broad daylight?
Location 1754

I am well aware that when we examine the circumstances of some particular riot, aroused by the real or imagined scarcity of wheat, we sometimes recognize the influence of an outside cause. Ambition and intrigue need to start trouble: sometimes it is those same men who stir up the people, to find the pretext to slaughter it and to make liberty itself seem terrible in the eyes of weak and selfish individuals. But it is no less true that the people is naturally upright and peaceable; it is always guided by a pure intention; the malevolent can only stir it up by presenting a motive that is powerful and legitimate in its eyes.
Location 1772

the greatest service the legislator can perform for men is to force them to be honest folk.
Location 1789

do not forget that the source of order is justice; that the surest guarantor of public peace is the well-being of the citizens,
Location 1798

It does not even occur to us that most are inevitably still connected with the prejudices on which despotism fed us.
Location 1836

When a nation has been forced to resort to the right of insurrection, it returns to the state of nature in relation to the tyrant. How can the tyrant invoke the social pact? He has annihilated it. The nation can still keep it, if it thinks fit, for everything concerning relations between citizens; but the effect of tyranny and insurrection is to break it entirely where the tyrant is concerned; it places them reciprocally in a state of war. Courts and legal proceedings are only for members of the same side.
Location 1842

Peoples do not judge in the same way as courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts.
Location 1849

It is less a question of enlightenment than of avoiding voluntary blindness.
Location 1920

Why is it that what seems clear to us at one time seems obscure at another?
Location 1921

There was no need for a revolution, surely, to teach the universe that extreme disproportion between fortunes is the source of many ills and many crimes, but we are nevertheless convinced that equality of possessions is a chimera.
Location 1970

Now, where public contributions are concerned, is there any principle more obviously derived from the nature of things and from eternal justice, than one that obliges the citizens to contribute to public expenditure progressively, in accordance with the size of their fortune, in other words in accordance with the advantages they draw from society?
Location 1998

XIX. In any free state, the law above all should defend public and individual liberty against abuse of authority by those who govern. Any institution that does not assume the people to be good, and the magistrate corruptible, is itself depraved.
Location 2044

XXXI. In both these cases, subjecting resistance against oppression to legal forms is the ultimate refinement of tyranny.
Location 2065

XXXIII. Offences committed by people’s representatives should be severely and promptly punished. No one has the right to claim to be more inviolable than other citizens.
Location 2067

The truth is that under the old empress, as under all women who hold the sceptre, it is men who govern.
Location 2323

That country combines the ferocity of savage hordes with the vices of civilized peoples.
Location 2324

Force can overthrow a throne; only wisdom can found a Republic.
Location 2368

They say their authority is its work. No: God created tigers; but kings are the masterpieces of human corruption.
Location 2443

Location 2469

Successes send weak souls to sleep; they spur strong souls on. Let
Location 2524

If revolutionary government should be more active in its working and freer in its movements than ordinary government, does that make it less just and less legitimate? No. It is supported by the holiest of all laws: the salvation of the people; by the most indisputable of all entitlements: necessity.
Location 2554

Yes! If it is accepted that there are moderates and cowards of good faith, why should there not be patriots of good faith, who are sometimes carried away by a praiseworthy sentiment to go too far?
Location 2582

By sketching the duties of revolutionary government, we have marked the pitfalls that threaten it. The greater its power, the more free and rapid its action, the more it should be directed by good faith. On
Location 2589

Let us raise our souls to the height of republican virtues and examples from antiquity. Themistocles7 had more genius than the Lacedaemonian general commanding the Greek fleet: however, when the general answered a much-needed piece of advice meant to save the country by raising his baton to strike him, Themistocles merely said ‘Strike then, but listen’, and Greece triumphed over the Asian tyrant.
Location 2603

Punishing a hundred obscure and subordinate culprits is less useful to liberty than executing the head of a conspiracy.
Location 2665

commerce the source of public wealth and not just the monstrous opulence of a few houses.
Location 2735

We want in our country to substitute morality for egoism, probity for honour, principles for practices, duties for proprieties, the rule of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, greatness of soul for vanity, love of glory for love of money, good people for good company, merit for intrigue, genius for fine wit, truth for brilliance, the charm of happiness for the boredom of luxury, the greatness of man for the pettiness of great men, a magnanimous, powerful, happy people for an amiable, frivolous and miserable people; in short all the virtues and miracles of the Republic for all the vices and absurdities of monarchy.
Location 2735

A democracy is not a state in which the people, continually assembled, manages all public business for itself, still less one in which a hundred thousand fractions of the people, through isolated, precipitate and contradictory measures, would decide the fate of the whole society: no such government has ever existed, and it could only exist to take the people back to despotism. Democracy is a state in which the sovereign people, guided by laws which are its own work, does for itself all that it can do properly, and through delegates all that it cannot do for itself.
Location 2746

Thus, anything that tends to arouse love of the homeland, to purify morals, to elevate souls, to direct the passions of the human heart towards the public interest, should be adopted or established by you. Anything that tends to concentrate them on the abjectness of the personal self, to arouse crazes for small things and contempt for great ones, should be rejected or repressed by you.
Location 2775

A nation is really corrupted when, having lost by slow degrees its character and its liberty, it moves from democracy to aristocracy or monarchy; that is the death of the body politic through decrepitude.
Location 2795

From all of this we should deduce a great truth: that the character of popular government is to be trusting towards the people and severe with itself.
Location 2814

If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue, the mainspring of popular government in revolution is virtue and terror both: virtue, without which terror is disastrous; terror, without which virtue is powerless.
Location 2827

Nature’s law is that any physical and moral entity must provide for its own preservation;
Location 2834

he would rather wear out a hundred red caps than perform one good act.
Location 2905

Do we need to assert the rights of the people oppressed by the government? They speak only of respect for the law and obedience to the constituted authorities.
Location 2933

The wish to forestall evil is always to them a reason for augmenting it. In the North the poultry were killed, depriving us of eggs, under the pretext that poultry eat grain. In the Midi, people wanted to uproot mulberry and orange trees, on the pretext that silk is a luxury product, and oranges unnecessary.
Location 2938

Would you believe that in the areas where superstition has had most influence, not content with loading the operations concerning religion with all the forms most calculated to render them odious, they spread terror among the people by starting a rumour that all children under ten and all old people over seventy were going to be killed? That this rumour was spread particularly in former Brittany and in the departments of Rhine and Moselle?
Location 2941

In perfidious hands all the remedies for our ills become poisons; whatever you can do, whatever you can say, they will turn it against you, even the truths we have just been developing.
Location 2954

Thus, for example, after having planted the seeds of civil war everywhere, with the violent attack on religious prejudices, they will seek to arm fanaticism and aristocracy with the very measures that sound policy recommended to you in favour of freedom of religion.
Location 2956

Democracy perishes through two excesses, the aristocracy of those who govern, or the people’s contempt for the authorities it has itself established, a contempt that results in each coterie, each individual appropriating public power, and brings the people, through excess of disorder, to annihilation or rule by a single individual.
Location 2971

There are two powers on earth, reason and tyranny; wherever one is predominant, the other is banned. Those who denounce the moral strength of reason as a crime are therefore seeking to revive tyranny.
Location 3112

Which is the more guilty, one who threatens its security through violence, or one who undermines its justice through seduction and perfidy? To mislead it is to betray it; to push it into acts contrary to its intentions and principles is to risk its destruction; for its power is based on virtue itself and on the confidence of the nation.
Location 3123

Why do those who used to say: I declare to you that we are walking on volcanoes, believe today that they are walking on nothing but roses?
Location 3177

Think about the end of the campaign; be afraid of internal factions; be afraid of the intrigues favoured by absence in a foreign land.
Location 3192

There should be no question of hobbling the people’s justice through new forms; penal law ought necessarily to have something vague about it because, the current character of the conspirators being one of dissimulation and hypocrisy, justice needs to be able to grasp them in all forms.
Location 3200

So the safeguard of patriotism lies not in the slowness or weakness of national law, but in the principles and integrity of those entrusted with it, in the good faith of the government, in the open protection it gives to patriots, and the energy with which it represses the aristocracy; in the public mind, and in certain moral and political institutions that, without hampering the workings of the law, offer a safeguard to good citizens and repress bad ones, through their influence on public opinion and on the direction of the revolutionary march; these will be proposed to you as soon as the most immediate conspiracies allow the friends of liberty time to draw breath.
Location 3203

Let us not be mistaken: establishing an immense Republic on foundations of reason and equality, holding all the parts of this immense empire together with vigorous bonds, is not an enterprise that can be completed thoughtlessly: it is the masterpiece of virtue and human reason. A host of factions springs up inside a great revolution; how can they be repressed, if you do not subject all the passions to constant justice? Your only guarantor of liberty is rigorous observation of the principles and the universal morality you have proclaimed. If reason does not reign, then crime and ambition must reign; without it, victory is just an instrument of ambition and a danger to liberty, a lethal pretext misused by intrigue to lull patriotism to sleep on the edge of the precipice; without it, what is the very meaning of victory?
Location 3243

know that every friend of liberty will always be trapped between a duty and a calumny; that those who cannot be accused of betrayal will be accused of ambition; that the influence of probity and principle will be likened to the strength of tyranny and the violence of factions; that your trust and your esteem will be certificates of proscription for all your friends; that the cries of oppressed patriotism will be called cries of sedition, and that, not daring to attack you in the mass, they will proscribe you singly in the persons of all good citizens, until the ambitious have organized their tyranny.
Location 3290


Book Notes

I started reading this book and thought, very quickly, hey, I know this stuff already. This feels very familiar.

And a few pages into the book, I realized why when my first highlight appeared: I'd read this book before.

I don't recall when I'd read the book before, as it isn't in my notes for the last 4 years, but I had read it before. After debating for a bit on whether to reread it or put it down in favor of a new book, I figured I could give it a read, and read it quickly. Was not disappointed in myself.

The brain does a lot. We are oblivious to pretty much all of it. We can, however, be aware of some of that blindness, be aware of how we are going to react even when we expect and want to react differently, be aware of how small changes can improve our lives, and be gentle with ourselves when we are strange.

This book is seven years old. While we have more research, more theories, and more data about the brain, the fundamentals are the same, which makes this a great second read, too. I'd be interested in a follow up book with curation of the latest research.

Anyway, definitely worth reading, even recommended.

As far as anyone can tell, we’re the only system on the planet so complex that we’ve thrown ourselves headlong into the game of deciphering our own programming language. Imagine that your desktop computer began to control its own peripheral devices, removed its own cover, and pointed its webcam at its own circuitry. That’s us.
Page 2

Alterations to the brain change the kinds of thoughts we can think. In a state of deep sleep, there are no thoughts. When the brain transitions into dream sleep, there are unbidden, bizarre thoughts.
Page 3

The first thing we learn from studying our own circuitry is a simple lesson: most of what we do and think and feel is not under our conscious control.
Page 4

The men were consistently more attracted to the women with dilated eyes.
Page 4

This might explain a few things for me.

Instead, they simply felt more drawn toward some women than others, for reasons they couldn’t quite put a finger on.
Page 5

In the largely inaccessible workings of the brain, something knew that a woman’s dilated eyes correlates with sexual excitement and readiness.
Page 5

How is it possible to get angry at yourself: who, exactly, is mad at whom?
Page 19

It is interesting to consider that the majority of human beings live their whole lives unaware that they are only seeing a limited cone of vision at any moment.
Page 24

One of the most pervasive mistakes is to believe that our visual system gives a faithful representation of what is “out there” in the same way that a movie camera would.
Page 24

As Mariotte delved more deeply into this issue, he realized that there is a hole in our vision—what has come to be known as the “blind spot” in each eye. To demonstrate this to yourself, close your left eye and keep your right eye fixed on the plus sign. Slowly move the page closer
Page 32

My blind spot caused me all sorts of grief after I started having migraines at nine years old. I couldn't tell migraine spots from my blind spot and had to see a few doctors to figure out what the blindness was.

But more significantly, no one had noticed because the brain “fills in” the missing information from the blind spot.
Page 33

When the dot disappears, you do not perceive a hole of whiteness or blackness in its place; instead your brain invents a patch of the background pattern.
Page 33

Unless you're having a migraine with auras, then all bets are off.

He discovered that outfielders use an unconscious program that tells them not where to end up but simply how to keep running. They move in such a way that the parabolic path of the ball always progresses in a straight line from their point of view. If the ball’s path looks like its deviating from a straight line, they modify their running path.
Page 37


Your brain is in the dark but your mind constructs light.
Page 40

Consider the way you are reading the letters on this page. Your eyes flick effortlessly over the ornate shapes without any awareness that you are translating them: the meaning of the words simply comes to you. You perceive the language, not the low-level details of the graphemes.
Page 41

The second is that the people experiencing the hallucinations are discomfited by the knowledge that their visual scene is at least partially the counterfeit coinage of their brains.
Page 45

Though, if you grew up with migraines, you kinda learn early on not to trust absolutely what you see, and always take a second look.

In this way, the brain refines its model of the world by paying attention to its mistakes.
Page 49

It will come as no surprise to you that the mere exposure effect is part of the magic behind product branding, celebrity building, and political campaigning: with repeated exposure to a product or face, you come to prefer it more. The mere exposure effect is why people in the public spotlight are not always as disturbed as one might expect by negative press.
Page 65

Another real-world manifestation of implicit memory is known as the illusion-of-truth effect: you are more likely to believe that a statement is true if you have heard it before—whether or not it is actually true.
Page 65

F'ing brain.

Nothing is inherently tasty or repulsive—it depends on your needs. Deliciousness is simply an index of usefulness.
Page 76

Each organism has its own umwelt, which it presumably assumes to be the entire objective reality “out there.”
Page 77

Easy things are hard: most of what we take for granted is neurally complex.
Page 89

Researchers (as well as purveyors of pornography) have been able to discern a surprisingly narrow range for the female proportions that males find most attractive: the perfect ratio between the waist and hips usually resides between 0.67 and 0.8. The waist-to-hip ratios of Playboy centerfolds has remained at about 0.7 over time, even as their average weight has decreased. 22 Women with a ratio in this range are not only judged by males as more attractive, but are also presumed to be more healthy, humorous, and intelligent.
Page 91

When men ranked the beauty of women’s faces, they found the women with dilated eyes more attractive, because dilated eyes signal sexual interest.
Page 92

The Babylonian Talmud contains a passage in the same spirit: “In came wine, out went a secret.”

It later advises, “In three things is a man revealed: in his wine goblet, in his purse, and in his wrath.”
Page 103

Many people prefer a view of human nature that includes a true side and a false side—in other words, humans have a single genuine aim and the rest is decoration, evasion, or cover-up. That’s intuitive, but it’s incomplete.
Page 104

Your brain, as well, interprets your body’s actions and builds a story around them. Psychologists have found that if you hold a pencil between your teeth while you read something, you’ll think the material is funnier; that’s because the interpretation is influenced by the smile on your face. If you sit up straight instead of slouching, you’ll feel happier. The brain assumes that if the mouth and spine are doing that, it must be because of cheerfulness.
Page 134

Minds seek patterns. In a term introduced by science writer Michael Shermer, they are driven toward “patternicity”—the attempt to find structure in meaningless data.

Evolution favors pattern seeking, because it allows the possibility of reducing mysteries to fast and efficient programs in the neural circuitry.
Page 138

A popular model in the neuroscience literature suggests that dream plots are stitched together from essentially random activity: discharges of neural populations in the midbrain. These signals tickle into existence the simulation of a scene in a shopping mall, or a glimpse of recognition of a loved one, or a feeling of falling, or a sense of epiphany. All these moments are dynamically woven into a story, and this is why after a night of random activity you wake up, roll over to your partner, and feel as though you have a bizarre plot to relate.
Page 139

Consider the concept of a secret. The main thing known about secrets is that keeping them is unhealthy for the brain.
Page 145

After years of study, Pennebaker concluded that “the act of not discussing or confiding the event with another may be more damaging than having experienced the event per se.”

He and his team discovered that when subjects confessed or wrote about their deeply held secrets, their health improved, their number of doctor visits went down, and there were measurable decreases in their stress hormone levels.
Page 145

The main reason not to reveal a secret is aversion to the long-term consequences. A friend might think ill of you, or a lover might be hurt, or a community might ostracize you. This concern about the outcome is evidenced by the fact that people are more likely to tell their secrets to total strangers; with someone you don’t know, the neural conflict can be dissipated with none of the costs.
Page 146

If we hope to invent robots that think, our challenge is not simply to devise a subagent to cleverly solve each problem but instead to ceaselessly reinvent subagents, each with overlapping solutions, and then to pit them against one another. Overlapping factions offer protection against degradation (think of cognitive reserve) as well as clever problem solving by unexpected approaches.
Page 147

Some people are constitutionally incapable of keeping a secret, and this balance may tell us something about the battles going on inside them and which way they tip. Good spies and secret agents are those people whose battle always tips toward long-term decision making rather than the thrill of telling.
Page 150

When your biology changes, so can your decision making, your appetites, and your desires. The drives you take for granted (“ I’m a hetero/ homosexual,” “I’m attracted to children/ adults,” “I’m aggressive/ not aggressive,” and so on) depend on the intricate details of your neural machinery.
Page 155

Many of us like to believe that all adults possess the same capacity to make sound choices.

It’s a nice idea, but it’s wrong.
Page 157

As far as we can tell, all activity in the brain is driven by other activity in the brain, in a vastly complex, interconnected network. For better or worse, this seems to leave no room for anything other than neural activity—that is, no room for a ghost in the machine. To consider this from the other direction, if free will is to have any effect on the actions of the body, it needs to influence the ongoing brain activity. And to do that, it needs to be physically connected to at least some of the neurons. But we don’t find any spot in the brain that is not itself driven by other parts of the network. Instead, every part of the brain is densely interconnected with—and driven by—other brain parts. And that suggests that no part is independent and therefore “free.” So in our current understanding of science, we can’t find the physical gap in which to slip free will—the uncaused causer—because there seems to be no part of the machinery that does not follow in a causal relationship from the other parts.
Page 166

However, at this point, no one can see a clear way around the problem of a nonphysical entity (free will) interacting with a physical entity (the stuff of the brain).
Page 167

To help a citizen reintegrate into society, the ethical goal is to change him as little as possible to allow his behavior to come into line with society’s needs.
Page 182

Poor impulse control is a hallmark characteristic of the majority of criminals in the prison system.
Page 182

If it seems difficult to empathize with people who have poor impulse control, just think of all the things you succumb to that you don’t want to. Snacks? Alcohol? Chocolate cake? Television? One doesn’t have to look far to find poor impulse control pervading our own landscape of decision making. It’s not that we don’t know what’s best for us, it’s simply that the frontal lobe circuits representing the long-term considerations can’t win the elections when the temptation is present. It’s like trying to elect a party of moderates in the middle of war and economic meltdown.
Page 182

Recall the patients with frontotemporal dementia who shoplift, expose themselves, urinate in public, and burst out into song at inappropriate times. Those zombie systems have been lurking under the surface the whole time, but they’ve been masked by a normally functioning frontal lobe.
Page 184

The same goes for the mentally retarded or schizophrenic; punitive action may slake bloodlust for some, but there is no point in it for society more broadly.
Page 189

Biological explanation will not exculpate criminals. Brain science will improve the legal system, not impede its function. 36 For the smooth operation of society, we will still remove from the streets those criminals who prove themselves to be over-aggressive, under-empathetic, and poor at controlling their impulses. They will still be taken into the care of the government. But the important change will be in the way we punish the vast range of criminal acts—in terms of rational sentencing and new ideas for rehabilitation. The emphasis will shift from punishment to recognizing problems (both neural and social) and meaningfully addressing them.
Page 190

Effective law requires effective behavioral models: understanding not just how we would like people to behave, but how they actually behave.
Page 191

Visual illusions reveal a deeper concept: that our thoughts are generated by machinery to which we have no direct access.
Page 194

The dethronement led to a richer, deeper understanding, and what we lost in egocentrism was counterbalanced in surprise and wonder.
Page 196

(It is also the case that a virtuous actor can have minimal temptations and therefore no requirement for good brakes, but one could suggest that the more virtuous person is he who has fought a stronger battle to resist temptation rather than he who was never enticed.)
Page 197

All of this leads to a key question: do we possess a soul that is separate from our physical biology—or are we simply an enormously complex biological network that mechanically produces our hopes, aspirations, dreams, desires, humor, and passions? 7 The majority of people on the planet vote for the extrabiological soul, while the majority of neuroscientists vote for the latter: an essence that is a natural property that emerges from a vast physical system, and nothing more besides.
Page 203

As soon as your drink is spiked, your sandwich is sneezed upon, or your genome picks up a mutation, your ship moves in a different direction. Try as you might to make it otherwise, the changes in your machinery lead to changes in you. Given these facts on the ground, it is far from clear that we hold the option of “choosing” who we would like to be.
Page 209

Who you turn out to be depends on such a vast network of factors that it will presumably remain impossible to make a one-to-one mapping between molecules and behavior (more on that in the moment).
Page 209

If there’s something like a soul, it is at minimum tangled irreversibly with the microscopic details.
Page 209

In other words, a lower level of social acceptance into the majority correlates with a higher chance of a schizophrenic break. In ways not currently understood, it appears that repeated social rejection perturbs the normal functioning of the dopamine systems.
Page 211

In my view, the argument from parsimony is really no argument at all—it typically functions only to shut down more interesting discussion. If history is any guide, it’s never a good idea to assume that a scientific problem is cornered.
Page 222

Keep in mind that every single generation before us has worked under the assumption that they possessed all the major tools for understanding the universe, and they were all wrong, without exception.
Page 223

“Vision after early blindness.”
Page 230 incognito for interactive demonstrations of how little we perceive of the world. For excellent reviews on change blindness, see Rensink, O’Regan, and Clark, “To see or not to see”; Simons, “Current approaches to change
Page 230

Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Book Notes

Okay, I really have no idea why I picked up this book. It was on some list, it sounded interesting, so I picked it up.

This is not a guide to political revolution.

This is a Bernie Sanders Manifesto, along with resources to work within the system.

The book is a long iteration of his platform, is beliefs, what he stands for. The book says, "Here is a problem. Here is how I think this problem could be solved." Not, "Here's how to solve this problem, and the data to prove it will work." Not, "Here's the legislation I have introduced." Not, "Here is the cultural problem that contributes to this social problem and do these actions to fix it."

Revolution is painful, the callouts in this book to "get involved" are not. Yes, they are time consuming, but revolution means an overhaul of the system, not an evolution of the system.

One can appreciate what Sanders is trying to do to make the country better. A complete upheaval might be the way to go. This is not the guidebook for that revolution. Better to look at The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for a guide, even if I disagree with that book's actual politics.

The book is worth a read to understand what Sanders stands for. For that part, it was worth the read. I don't disagree with much of his platform, I just don't see the pilot programs, the supporting data, or the means to implement.

In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a basic principle of American economic life should be that if you work forty hours or more a week, you do not live in poverty.
Location 77

Increasing the minimum wage is good for businesses as well as workers because it reduces employee turnover. When workers earn a living wage, they are more likely to stay with their company.
Location 120

And spend money.

Public assistance given to low-wage workers is essentially subsidizing the profits of the companies paying the low wages.
Location 126

Which is bullshit.

Walmart makes profits by paying wages so low that the workers not only qualify for but also need public assistance just to get by.
Location 131

Hate Walmart.

I do not believe that the government should burden taxpayers with the financial support of profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country. That’s absurd.
Location 145

If we are serious about reversing the decline of the middle class, we need a major federal jobs program that puts millions of Americans to work at decent-paying jobs. We need workers to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure—our roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, airports, railways, levees, and dams.
Location 258

Our tax code essentially legalizes tax dodging for large corporations.
Location 349

America is not broke. The very wealthy and huge, profitable corporations just aren’t paying the taxes that, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. more than a century ago, “are what we pay for a civilized society.”
Location 364

The Roundtable also wants to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to seventy, and to cut cost-of-living adjustments for seniors and disabled veterans. These CEOs callously promote the idea that increasing their corporate profits is more important than their fellow Americans receiving the benefits they have earned by working or by serving in the military.
Location 369

We have been losing millions of jobs as a direct result of our disastrous trade policies. This is a major contributor to the decline of the middle class, rising poverty, and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else. We must do everything possible to stop companies from outsourcing American jobs.
Location 444

Americans see that there are different rules for the rich and powerful than for everyone else. They see kids arrested and sometimes even jailed for possessing marijuana or for other minor crimes. But when it comes to Wall Street executives, whose illegal behavior hurts millions of Americans, they see that there are no arrests, no police records, and no jail time.
Location 555

There is something fundamentally wrong with our criminal justice system when not one major Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for causing the near collapse of our entire economy in 2008.
Location 565

“Equal Justice Under Law” cannot just be words engraved over the doors of the Supreme Court.
Location 567

 To create an economy that works for all americans and not just a handful of billionaires, we have to address the ever-increasing size of the megabanks.

 We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for wall street: “too big to fail.”

 We need a banking system that is part of a productive economy—making loans at affordable rates to small and medium-sized businesses—so we can create a growing economy with decent-paying jobs.

 We need a banking system that encourages homeownership by offering affordable mortgage products that are designed to work for both the lender and the borrower.

 We need a banking system that is transparent and accountable and that adheres to the highest ethical standards as well as to the spirit and the letter of the law.
Location 574

One might have thought that as part of the bailout, these huge banks would have been reduced in size to make certain that we never experience a recurrence of what happened in 2008. In fact, the very opposite occurred. Today, three of the four largest financial institutions—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo—are about 80 percent bigger than they were before we bailed them out.
Location 585

No financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure would send the world economy into crisis.
Location 591

If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
Location 592

Today, commercial banks still have over $ 177.46 trillion of derivatives contracts on their books. That is insane.
Location 603

All derivatives trading should be done in an open, transparent exchange similar to the stock market, without exceptions. As
Location 615

Needless to say, this game of high-speed speculation adds absolutely nothing to a productive economy.
Location 628

We have to discourage reckless gambling on Wall Street and encourage productive investments in a job-creating economy.
Location 631

we need to turn for-profit credit-rating agencies into transparent nonprofit institutions that are independent from Wall Street and accountable to a board of directors that represents the public interest.
Location 656

The decisions that the Federal Reserve made during the 2008 crisis sent a very clear message: while the rich and powerful are “too big to fail” and are worthy of an endless supply of cheap credit, ordinary Americans must fend for themselves. This was a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
Location 687

We must require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a full and independent audit of the Fed every year.
Location 718

Health care should be a right, not a perk of being employed.
Location 757

it has never made sense to me that our health care system is primarily designed to make huge profits for multibillion-dollar insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and medical equipment suppliers.
Location 762

The details of the national health systems vary in each of these countries, but all of them guarantee health care for all their citizens, and none of them allow private health insurance companies to profit off human illness.
Location 766

Think about the extraordinary impact it would have on our economy if all Americans had the freedom to follow their dreams and not worry about whether the family had health insurance.
Location 824

The pharmaceutical industry, because of its great power, rarely loses legislative fights. It has effectively purchased the Congress, and there are Republican and Democratic leaders who support its every effort.
Location 863

There was a time, forty or fifty years ago, when many people could graduate from high school and move right into a decent-paying job with good benefits. Strong unions offered apprenticeships, and a large manufacturing sector provided opportunities for those without an advanced degree.
Location 974

Exactly how much do students benefit by having, in some cases, dozens of vice presidents of this or that, each earning hundreds of thousands of dollars or more?
Location 989

Another reason college educations are becoming so expensive is that colleges are increasingly being run as businesses competing for market share.
Location 990

In fact, it is much easier for a big bank or corporation to declare insolvency and be forgiven for outstanding debts than it is for an individual going through personal bankruptcy to be discharged from a student loan.
Location 1011

America rightfully outlawed debtors’ prisons in the mid-nineteenth century, but some cities and states are issuing contempt-of-court warrants that get around those rules.
Location 1016

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, of which I have long been a member, found that these for-profit schools spend, on average, about 30 percent more per student on marketing and recruiting than on actual instruction.
Location 1035

Not everybody wants to go to college, and not everybody needs to go to college. This country needs carpenters, plumbers, welders, bricklayers, ironworkers, mechanics, and many other professions that pay workers, especially those in unions, good wages for doing very important, skilled work.
Location 1049

In today’s world, that’s not quite the way it works. In opposition to science and what the people want are enormously powerful forces who want to maintain the status quo. They are more interested in short-term profits for fossil fuel companies than in the future of the planet.
Location 1188

Forty percent of energy used in this country goes to heat, cool, and light buildings and run electricity through them.
Location 1213

The great irony of climate change is that American taxpayers are subsidizing the most profitable industry in history, whose products are quite literally killing us, to the tune of more than $ 20.5 billion every single year.
Location 1241

For every dollar of taxpayer funds invested in renewable energy over the past fifteen years, fossil fuels have received eighty dollars!
Location 1245

We should also end all new federal leases for oil, gas, or coal extraction on public lands and waters. Public lands and waters are for the public to enjoy for generations to come—not for the oil companies to exploit for profit in the short term.
Location 1277

The hypocrisy of those who argue that solar and wind tax credits are too expensive or are no longer needed because the industries should be able to stand on their own is stunning. Taxpayers have been subsidizing fossil fuel companies through tax credits for more than one hundred years, and Congress long ago made those incentives permanent features of the federal tax code.
Location 1303

Police officers must be held accountable. In a society based on law, nobody can be above the law, especially those who are charged with enforcing it.
Location 1407

African Americans and Latinos together comprised 57 percent of all prisoners in 2015, even though neither of these two groups makes up even one-quarter of the U.S. population.
Location 1431

The time is long overdue for this country to understand that we cannot jail our way out of health problems like mental illness and drug addiction.
Location 1441

We have around 4 percent of the world’s population, yet we have more than 20 percent of all prisoners.
Location 1454

And we spend $ 80 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxpayer dollars to lock them up.
Location 1458

Private corporations should not be making profits off of the incarceration of human beings.
Location 1460

No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars.
Location 1469

Every effort should be made to have police forces reflect the diversity of the communities they work in. And that must include in positions of leadership and training departments.
Location 1504

We must demilitarize our police forces so they don’t look and act like invading armies. Police departments must be part of the community they serve and be trusted by the community.
Location 1506

We should federally fund and require body cameras for law enforcement officers to make it easier to hold everyone accountable, while also establishing standards to protect the privacy of innocent people.
Location 1509

When policing becomes a source of revenue, officers are often pressured to meet quotas that can lead to unnecessary or unlawful traffic stops and citations. And civil asset forfeiture laws allow police to take property from people even before they are charged with a crime.
Location 1516

Undocumented immigrants are woven into the fabric of our society and our economy. They work in some of the hardest and lowest-paid jobs.
Location 1587

Moreover, the institute estimates that they pay an average of 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes—which, by the way, is 48 percent more than the 5.4 percent paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers.
Location 1602

All too often, farmworkers are paid horrendously low wages, exposed to pesticides, and deprived of the most basic decent living conditions.
Location 1621

When employers report that they need to bring in foreign labor because there is no one in this country able to do their jobs, what is really going on is that there is no one here willing to do the job for the low wages being offered.
Location 1654

To my mind, the U.S. government should not be in the painful and inhumane business of locking up families who have fled violence.
Location 1684

Immigration reform must allow individuals to apply for relief, even if convicted of nonviolent offenses.
Location 1701

Binding workers to a specific employer or not allowing their family members to work creates a situation rife with abuse and exacerbates an already unequal relationship between the employer and the employee.
Location 1726

Immigration reform means making sure our borders are modern and secure, especially in this era when terrorism can come from anywhere.
Location 1728

The word “government” refers to the way people organize authority to perform essential functions. It usually describes who does what, who has what power, and who is responsible for what. When there is no organized authority, there is no government, and that is called anarchy.
Location 1796


Book Notes

I was trying to finish this book before the end of last year, as January is going to be a non-fiction only month for me.

I didn't make it, so this is the first book of the new year that I have finished!

I picked up this book because "by Claire North" and, let's be real, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was a fun read. This was also on NPR's recommended list, so I figured I'd read it.

While I believe I understand the message of the book (that when you put a price tag on people's lives, the system is incentivized to profit off of everything people do, to the detriment of the system), I didn't really enjoy this book. The format of past to present to past was good story-telling, I liked that aspect.

North (a pseudonym) has a number of other books, so I'll likely try another of hers. This book has good reviews from others, so maybe just me?

The man whose name was sometimes Theo Miller had been twenty-two years old when they abolished human rights. The government insisted it was necessary to counter terrorism and bring stable leadership to the country.
Location 301

They wavered, avoiding each other’s gaze. Finally Theo mumbled, looking at some place a few hundred miles above and a little to the left of her forehead, “Are you …”
Location 502

Love this description, "few hundred miles above."

If you’re rich enough, you get to pay less tax if you turn yourself into a company, and if you’re a company you can buy a parole.
Location 509

But as the years went by, anger had faded.

Most things faded, given time.
Location 952

Good rate of return that, decent interest on time spent, I respect that, I understand that, not my language but it’s my song.
Location 1296

[D]reams were for children and she was a grown-up now. Grown-ups just dealt with things. They carried on—that’s what being grown-up meant.
Location 1603

Beyond, the world carries on.
Location 1757

Vagrants could be Tasered on sight in this part of the city—they caused emotional distress, and emotional distress was basically assault.
Location 2027

By night Mala Choudhary practised Muay Thai. She won most of her fights but found those she lost more exciting.
Location 2057

He used to see them sometimes in the snarling boys who liked it when their dogs growled at passing strangers, because the dogs made people scared, and if people were scared of you then you were powerful, and if you were powerful, you mattered. Even if you didn’t know what mattering was good for.
Location 2319

The queen says this country is a slave state. That there aren’t any chains on our feet or beatings on our backs because there don’t need to be. Cos if you don’t play along with what the Company wants, you die. You die cos you can’t pay for the doctor to treat you. You die cos the police won’t come without insurance. Cos the fire brigade doesn’t cover your area, cos you can’t get a job, cos you can’t buy the food, cos the water stopped, cos there was no light at night and if that’s not slavery, if that’s not the world gone mad if that’s not … … but we got used to it. Just the way things are.
Location 3631

I don’t think it matters. We got taught not to care. It’ll pass. It’ll pass.
Location 3679

“Loneliness is a state of mind. You have to want something, to be lonely. You have to need some sort of reassurance, someone to tell you that this is who you are. I’m not lonely. I don’t want anything."
Location 4243

"Our lives exist in many different, contradictory states, all at once. I am a liar. I am a killer. I am honest. I am fighting for a good cause. I am burning the world. We want things simple, and safe, and when they aren’t, when the truth is something complicated, something hard, or scary, we stop. The words run out. Everything becomes …”
Location 4249

“It’s how it happens, of course. The worst of it. Not ‘My neighbour has been taken to be burned alive, their house stolen, their children dead and I am so, so scared to speak of it.’ Just ‘They went away. Just—away.’ And we smile. And everyone else is as scared as we are, and knows what that smile means. Is grateful that you didn’t make the terror real. Thankful that you haven’t caused a stink. Because it would hurt … someone. Someone who isn’t a stranger would get hurt, if we ever managed to speak the truth of things. If we ever had the courage to say what we really think, even if it destroyed who we want the world to think we are. Who it is we think we should be. There would be too much pain. So we say nothing. Things just … trail away into a smile, which everyone understands and doesn’t have to mean a thing. We are grateful for that silence, for the thing that can’t be expressed. To fill it would be a terrible thing.”
Location 4254

There was probably a bit of love left, somewhere. It simply hadn’t been a priority for either of them.
Location 4544

"Then I started screaming too, just screaming, and it felt good. I’d never done nothing like that before but I was crying after, I screamed and then there was nothing left and I just cried and it was the best thing it was … They don’t bother me now. They’ve got this guy, this boss bloke, he goes to the sea every morning and rages at it. Just rages at it, cos of how he was born into this shit, and he didn’t ever find no way to make his life good, and he rages at the sky cos it never helped him, and at the earth cos it never carried him somewhere else, and his raging it’s … it’s sorta good, you know? It’s like going to church, only different like. Sometimes I scream, it’s like praying, but different."
Location 4640

"Is she dead?” An afterthought, a thing which was probable but which the girl hadn’t wanted to ask.
Location 4662

The sea the sky the earth they never carried me I hate them for letting me be born for making me breathe I hate them I hate—but she gotta love ’em. If she’s your daughter you gotta find her, you gotta help her be something which isn’t … you know.
Location 4898

Even thin ice can puncture the hull, can sink a narrowboat. They drown as they sleep they wake the water rushing down their noses it is.
Location 4958

Indecision. Martyrdom. Suspension of all things, a failure to act, the need to look at things from a new perspective, a willing victim a … Neila doesn’t like the word “victim.” If you’re “willing” then how are you a “victim”? Victim is the denial of choice …
Location 4969

Or maybe … maybe that’s unfair. Maybe they care. But caring isn’t the same as doing something, and doing something is hard. It’s very, very hard.
Location 5178

Simon is a shit. I’m not saying this to excuse my son. My son is also a shit. But Simon was the shit that blocked the toilet, if you’ll pardon my saying so. Naturally he assumes he isn’t. Most people assume they aren’t shits. It’s just good business. That’s what it amounts to. Business is good. Good is business it is
Location 5868

I think he hits her sometimes, but she always says … when it’s good, it’s really good, and when it’s bad, he always says sorry afterwards and that’s how she knows he loves her. I always thought I’d tell her to run away. It’s a very easy thing to say, much easier than anything that matters—but I never mustered the courage.
Location 5877

When my daughter died I spent so long trying to make it my fault, because if it was my fault it wasn’t just luck. It was the action of man, it was fate, it was God,
Location 5996

If you call him terrible you have to ask yourself why, you have to blame yourself and no one wants to do that. It’s the hardest thing in the world to say ‘I am a bad mother, and he is a bad father,’ it is impossible, it is devastating it is … because if I am a bad mother then I am … there is nothing worse.
Location 6321

And she said, “My brother had depression, he had depression and we all told him to get over it, we told him to just try and see the good side of things I mean, the good side it was just …”
Location 6888

“You ask people, when they tell you something terrible, you ask them ‘Are you okay?’ Of course they’re not fucking okay but what else are you meant to say. ‘Oh you must be feeling shit you must be so shit you must be …’”
Location 6892

The Hanged Man is the crossroads, is suspension, a choice that holds you back or will send you forward, a moment where all things stand on the edge.
Location 6908

Sometimes I catch myself making stories from the things that happened in my life, making stories of who I will be, and in these stories I’m always the hero or the villain because that way I made a choice, I made a choice and I chose to be here and there wasn’t ever anything which I couldn’t control, there wasn’t a part of me that is …”
Location 6920

“Do you regret?” she asked. “Do you look back, do you look at—when you think about the time you’ve had and the things—do you regret? Is that what you feel?” Theo thought about it. “I think I would,” he said at last. “If there wasn’t something more important to do.”
Location 6926

“Half the people we ask don’t even know if the queen is real, they can’t imagine it, anything changing. But the idea makes them feel better. That maybe they can do this really small thing, like this up yours to the world and maybe it’ll make a difference, maybe they count.
Location 6994

The Phenomenon

Book Notes

Over the years, I have bought Kris a number of baseball-related books. Some have been peripherally baseball related, sorta like the movie For the Love of the Game is a baseball movie (for the record, it is not, it is a romance movie with baseball elements, it is not a baseball movie). Some were definitely baseball related.

This one, however, is the first baseball book Kris recommended back to me.

That's right, I bought baseball books for him, but hadn't actually read them.

So, on his recommendation, I read this one.

I didn't know Ankiel's story. In a few sentences: he was a baseball phenomenon, likely to be better than Sandy Koufax, who, depending on how your stats rank your pitchers, is considered the greatest pitcher of all time. Then he threw a wild pitch that got into his head, and he couldn't get it out. He tried, he failed, he left baseball, he came back a hitter and an outfielder instead. He had a good career.

This book is his autobiography of that career. Many parts of the book read like the inner dialog of a person talking with himself, trying to psych himself up, convince himself that he can do this next thing, that the last thing wasn't so bad.

A result of the style of inner chatter writing and not knowing Ankiel's story is that I was really confused in the first two chapters. of the book. By chapter five, Ankiel had written enough of his story that I understood the why of this book, and was engrossed in the story.

Had I been paying more attention when I was reading The Art of Fielding, I would have recognized Ankiel's name before reading this book, as he is mentioned.

I really enjoyed this book. If you like biographies, baseball, or stories about the hero's journey, this I strongly recommend this book. It isn't one where the hero triumphs, but it is a tale of continuing to do the work, to try, to succeed in a different way, and, in the end, to accept that the life you have isn't the one you wanted, but it can still be a good one.

I would stand behind him when he needed a push, before him when he needed a shield, beside him when he did not.
Location 76

Denise, my mom, wished she’d had the sense to leave Richard. Right then. The bruises generally healed while my father was away.
Location 419

I understand this wish.

She couldn’t shake the notion that a boy should have a father nearby. She couldn’t not believe in having a family, even if it were all fouled up and volatile and hurtful.
Location 450

Another problem was that Dad was a bully, and Mom, because she so wanted to believe the nightmare would end and didn’t want to be threatened again and also didn’t want to lie in a puddle of her own blood on the kitchen floor, was afraid. She had nowhere to go.
Location 453

I was too small, and then I was too afraid, and even when I grew up there remained the notion that to challenge one’s father was to call out the whole universe into the middle of the street to decide who was the better man. And how long would that have lasted? A punch or two? And what would that have cost my mother in bruises?
Location 505

An acquaintance of mine has this deep-seated belief that victims can alway speak, that they can always walk away or continue to fight. He never quite understands that sometimes the victim cannot do those things, because the victim understands the consequences of those actions can sometimes be worse than the abuse. My acquaintance does not understand that.a

My mother didn’t deserve the life she got, and I would not — could not — choose the same. I was going to chase something better. I was going to let myself dream and go after that.
Location 670

Though I’d worn a facsimile of the uniform briefly the fall before, the first day in a real clubhouse — a spring training clubhouse, but still, surrounded by real major leaguers — buttoning that bright jersey and curling the brim of that new cap felt meaningful.
Location 806

"... curling the brim ..." Hee!

The way to nine months of every single day was an hour at a time, a minute at a time even. Try not to look back. Definitely do not look forward, because the destination is tiny in the distance, and to chase that would be a reasonable path to exhaustion.

No, just hit the next mark in the routine. Do that, and when that is done the next mark will appear. Hit them all, and at the end of the day you’re fed and rested and healthy and strong and clear-headed and confident.

Miss one, then another, and that day gets wobbly, and the next is too full trying to cover for the previous one, and the next is messier, and this is how sore elbows and bad Aprils and doubt and stomachaches are born.
Location 922

Your brain quit on you. Unless, and this was something to think about, your brain knew best, and it really was protecting you. You don’t want to throw this pitch, it’s not going to end well, so I won’t let you throw it.
Location 1112

It’s a spark of fear, of humiliation, of regret before the fact.
Location 1121

“The yips,” he said, “can be explained in both psychological and neuromuscular terms, and it’s extremely complicated. It’s very difficult to treat and very difficult to understand.… What it boils down to, a mistake is made, ultimate trust is eroded, pressure interferes with the lack of trust, and that compounds the problem. Now there’s anxiety, and a vicious cycle ensues.”

Along come the obsessive thoughts, Dr. Oakley said, the failure, the pursuit of perfection now fouled by anxiety and more failure and more anxiety. “This,” he added, “is a phenomenon on steroids.”
Location 1151

“When a person’s really distressed, they’re overwhelmed by that,” Dr. Oakley said.

“Turn it on its head. Instead of curtailing that moment, bring it on. Experience that. Spend more time with it.

“Most people, of course, don’t want to spend time with it. It’s not a pleasant thing. So what I do, and it goes along with treating anxiety disorders, I try prolonged exposure to it. You actually need more time with it, what my friend Ken Ravizza calls ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.’”
Location 1169

We knew that wouldn’t last forever, but twenty-one years old or even thirty-one years old hardly seemed a time to stop believing in tomorrow. Our arms were strong. Our hearts were set to the rhythms of the game. So we’d run our laps and take the ball and try to throw it past hitters. That was the plan.
Location 1275

In some ways, I told him, the Thing is not unlike cancer. A lot of people who get cancer did nothing to attract it. They are not flawed people. They did not abuse themselves. It’s not as though they stood too close to someone who already had cancer. So they, perhaps, can wonder why they were chosen, but they cannot blame themselves. “It’s not your fault,” I said, repeating a line I heard often.
Location 1390

Here's one of the things our the modern American culture: unfortunate random things happen to people and said people are blamed for being morally bankrupt and deserving the unfortunate random thing.

Which is, in reality, total bullshit.

In Lincoln's day, a clinically depressed person was supported by his community and had a chance to heal. Today, a clinically depressed person is thrown (likely non-effective) drugs and told to walk it off. Depression doesn't work that way. Sames as other random things like the yips. Or some cancers.

And if I couldn’t bury the monster, I would drown it. “Hey,” I said to Darryl Kile, “think you could get me a bottle of vodka?”

It was humiliating. He returned with a full bottle. Something cheap. No judgment. I shrugged. “Do what you gotta do, kid,” he said. “I understand.”
Location 1771

“Do what you have to do, Ank,” Harvey said, just like Darryl had said, maybe amused at the tactic and definitely concerned for the consequences. “Just know it’s not real.”
Location 1794

“Real,” I told Harvey, “and the rest of it is getting a little blurry right now. I have to pitch. This is how I can.”

“Ank,” he said, “it’s still there. You’re not winning. You’re stalling.”
Location 1798

I made three starts. They went like this: 4 1/ 3 innings, 3 hits, 17 walks, 12 wild pitches, a 20.77 ERA. That’s a lot to happen over 13 outs.
Location 1842



In rookie ball, yes. Against a bunch of kids whose best stories were about high school.
Location 1878

I have a couple friends like this.

But I also didn’t have to pretend I was fine when I wasn’t. I could walk around between starts and not feel the weight of the last start and the next start.
Location 1888

“Real” tasted better chased by Bud Lights. It slept better with Xanax. It looked better after one last round and a boozy promise that tomorrow would be happier.
Location 1922

Darryl had been good to me for no reason but to be good to me, and I wanted more than anything in that moment to be his teammate again.
Location 1968

I quit drinking, a special point for Harvey, who for years had seen me hose down bad days with alcohol — and sometimes pills — and celebrate good days with the same.
Location 1991

Harvey’s point, that I must feel the pain in order to treat the pain, was that I’d require clarity to cope with whatever came next. To beat whatever came next. Or, perhaps, to live with whatever came next.
Location 2004

Every ballpark could be a test of past failures and buried memories, some new way to summon the anxiety that was only too eager to return.
Location 2029

But I’d become pretty skilled at keeping the bad thoughts out, holding off what before had felt — and surely was — the inevitable wave of panic.
Location 2041

By then, I was less afraid. Not unafraid,
Location 2056

Big difference.

I liked dawn for the way I remembered it smelling, that being before the accident and the concussion, which jostled just enough in my head to kill my sense of smell. I was thirteen then, being towed on a skateboard behind a go-cart, an event that concluded predictably with a crash, a trip to the emergency room, and my being down one sense.
Location 2119

Dislike mornings. Understand the lack of the sense of smell.

I liked dawn because of its coolness, how it foretold — demanded, even — a fresh start, a ball’s-stuck-in-the-tree do-over.
Location 2122


“Today’s the day,” I said. “I’m going to do it.”

“OK, Ank. You go do it. We’ll talk later. You good?”
Location 2132

Ballplayers didn’t walk away. They were shoved, forcibly removed from the premises at the end of a cattle prod, railing against the injustices of age and declining skills and the idiots who decided who was too old and unskilled.
Location 2150

I. Can’t. Do. It. Anymore. Every word a hammer strike, loud and final. Each report echoing in my head as my old life vanished, my old dreams with it, dying of self-inflicted chaos.
Location 2160

I’d invited him out of obligation. I sat in a dark bus out of obligation. Those years were hard on him too, he said, and I listened out of obligation, for what I didn’t know. Maybe I was still hoping I was wrong about him, the evidence notwithstanding.
Location 2414

Obligation can be an ugly thing.

In this case, Ankiel tells it as this being a gift to his future wife, to try one more time. He tried, it didn't work out. Kudos to him for trying.

I don’t miss him. I miss the notion of a father, though.
Location 2417

[W]hen I rose to the top step to say thank you to those who were kind enough to remember me, I felt no pain. What I felt was strength. Power. Energy. The game was good again. And I was good at it again. My heart was smiling. And I wanted everyone to see.
Location 2488

"Yes, a very tough set of circumstances growing up, but not making excuses, not being a bum on the street, and here he is a father of two, so I love him. I just will never quit hoping that he had a good quality of life.’”
Location 2496

What happens to all of us. How a grown man who has performed a single act his entire life, an act that is so simple or has become so simple, finds that it becomes not simple and, beyond that, in a lot of ways, incapacitating.
Location 2661

[Harvey]’d tell me it wasn’t my fault. I was not responsible for who — more precisely, what — my father was, or what he’d done to my mother and me, or what I should have done about it.
Location 2687

What happened happened. Now what?
Location 2690

I’ve told my friends, “You ever find me hanging from the garage rafters, I was murdered.”
Location 2700

Harvey showed me how, sometimes simply by asking, “OK, what the fuck you gonna do about it?” Emphasis on the profanity, hard like that, as if to say, It’s a big-boy world out there, Ank, and bad stuff happens, and then you decide: I’m in or I’m out.
Location 2702

It’s what they called the guy who knew too well the doubts swimming in Domenick’s heart and head. Where they’d send him. How they’d probably never leave. But you fight. You find a way through it or around it. You ask for help. They send me in. And we go to breakfast.
Location 2754

We start there. So very few people actually got it. Fewer still knew how to help. And there was only one Harvey. We didn’t slay the monster together, but we stood shoulder to shoulder and tried. Then we bandaged up and got on our feet and tried again. Some days, we had our pick of monsters.
Location 2827

How many I’d told there was no trick to beating this thing, and hell, there might be no beating it at all, but there was no shame in trying. Trying was the only way to find out. Trying required courage. Trying meant allowing for failure. Trying was hard and lonely. So yeah, I recommended trying. I thought about Harvey. What would Harvey say? “Go on, Ank, what the fuck”? Or, maybe, “What’s the point, Ank? What do you have left to prove? Don’t do it for the money. Don’t do it for any reason except that you want to.”
Location 2914

The Hanging Tree

Book Notes

This is book 6 of the Peter Grant series.

I really enjoyed this book. I'm unsure why I enjoyed this one more than the others, and I enjoyed the others. Maybe the plot was more action, less internal thinking? Unsure.

This one has Peter tracking down the drugs involved in the death of a teen in an expensive, and empty, unit of One Hyde Park. A child of a river is involved, which said river would prefer not disclosed (doesn't happen). We also learn of another pocket of leftover magic pracitioners, passed down from mother to daughter for generations.

And there's search of the Third Principia, Newton's tome on magic. Oh, and the introduction of Guleed, a female Muslim cop who does just fine.

I will probably read the book again in a few years, and realize why I like this one more than the others. In the meantime, this is a "if you're reading the series, keep reading, this is a fun one."

I recommend the series in general. Start with Midnight Riot.

I waited about a minute, just so I could claim I’d waited five, and then headed back up the garden.
Page 4

Olivia glanced at the picture, then sideways at her mother, and I saw her make the wrong decision. But, before I could say anything, she opened her mouth and stuck her future in it.
Page 18

Guleed always knew how to keep her mouth shut, and had this mad way of just fading into the background whenever she wanted to. Well, we all have our ways of dealing with difficulties — mine is to ask stupid questions.
Page 30

Because, for police officers, “close relative” frequently rhymes with “prime suspect,”
Page 34

He spoke with that deliberately toned down posh accent that, before they allowed regional dialects on the radio, used to be known as BBC standard.
Page 36

Did not know.

Useful or not, it still had to be written up because a) empirically speaking a negative result is still a result, b) someone cleverer than you might make a connection you missed and c) in the event of a case review it’s sensible to at least look like you’re being competent.
Page 39

Yay, scientific method!

That’s the trouble with community policing — strangely, people start expecting you to be part of the community.
Page 44

Melanie who was one of those round perky people who give the impression that it’s only a great effort of will stopping them from bouncing around the room.
Page 44

Beverley said that she found that people stuck the first vaguely appropriate label on, whether it fit the facts or not.
Page 45

“I know it’s hard, Peter,” she’d said. “But if you could contain your erudition and ready wit for just a little while we’d be most grateful.”

“Am I allowed to be cheeky?” I’d asked.

“No you’re fucking not,” said Seawoll.
Page 53

That, as they say, is fighting talk. But, as Nightingale once told me during boxing practice, the best blow is the one your opponent doesn’t even notice until he keels over.
Page 54

The word “bollocks” is one of the most beautiful and flexible in the English language. It can be used to express emotional states ranging from ecstatic surprise to weary resignation in the face of inevitable disaster.
Page 57

Either the management were paying them way over the odds, or their HR department had been outsourced to Stepford, Connecticut.
Page 62

I love references like these.

I'm pretty sure I've missed over half of them, too.

Generally when you’re interviewing somebody and they seem remarkably calm about one crime, it’s because they’re relieved you haven’t found out about something else.
Page 81

You see, even the clever ones can’t resist being clever and the next move, if you want them to stay being clever, is to play dumb.
Page 81

“Women carried on “practicing”,” said Lady Helena, “just as they carried on composing, painting and all the other professions from which history has erased them. Mother taught daughter, who passed on the skills through the generations — just as women have always had to do."
Page 85

The media always calls this sort of thing senseless, but the motive made sense — it was just stupid, is what it was.
Page 112

This one was a white woman with slate gray eyes which she narrowed at me when I introduced myself.
Page 114

Slate gray eyes... hmmmmmm....

“My father was somebody important right up to the day he was nobody at all,” she said. “Power in the material world is fleeting.”
Page 121

So, back to Mayfair where the constant flow of money keeps the streets clean and free of unsightly poor people.
Page 122

This was off the books — I was not here, this never happened — the spice must flow.
Page 122

Cracking up.

“La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain,” said Nightingale later when we were preparing our case notes.

Which is French for “Them that has, gets.”
Page 151

Which was totally not my fault, I might add, although I probably shouldn’t have used the word Krynoid in my official report.
Page 153


Though, I have to admit the Doctor Who reference was entertaining in and of itself to me, based on my ongoing and lifelong fascination with crinoids.

Every spare centimeter of the wall space had been covered with shelves, all of which were stuffed with books.
Page 165


The previous summer I’d done the exact same thing while being chased by an invisible unicorn — so at least I had form.
Page 217

How not to be seen, lesson number one: Don’t stand up.
Page 220

Because the alternative is you, I wanted to shout back. But the second lesson on how not to be seen is: Don’t answer back.
Page 220

Sometimes courage is easy, and sometimes you have to scream at your own body to act in its own bloody best interest, and sometimes it refuses the call altogether. And the pisser is that you never know which one it’s going to be until you try.
Page 222

Mercifully it must have been quite late on because it wasn’t the featureless box so favored by the American modernists, and the architect had actually made an attempt to fit it in with the rest of street.
Page 228

“But we are not always the sons our fathers dream of — as you should know.” As I did know, and all the things sons do to make their fathers proud until you learn to choose your own life for your own reasons.
Page 251

Hyde Park Corner is what happens when a bunch of urban planners take one look at the grinding circle of gridlock that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and think — that’s what we want for our town.
Page 251

It was full night by the time I crossed the street and the Portland stone of the Arch was bleached white by spotlights, the bronze on top lit up in blue.
Page 252

Once more into the breach, I thought.
Page 257

“If it’s all the same to you, sir, I think I’m going to have to see this through,” she said. “Inshallah.” As God wills it.

“Good show,” said Nightingale.

This is it, I thought. We’re all going to die.
Page 258

“When you’re married you get used to each other — you really only see the person you expect to see.”
Page 288

The Late Show

Book Notes

I picked up this book not because I was excited about the new series that Connelly (of Harry Bosch writing fame) was writing, but rather because book two of this series is a Harry Bosch book, and it made sense to read book one before reading book two.

My prediction before reading the book, once I realized the main character, Renee Ballard is a cop, was "Okay, murder, tunnels, and bad cops did it." I was not disappointed, but there was only two of those three.

The book follows a week or so of Ballard's time in the night shift of being a cop in the Hollywood Police Department. A large amount of Los Angeles, ala Bosch, which I enjoyed.

A couple of the timelines just didn't work for me. Some events happened way too fast, people do not heal as fast as they do in this book. Bureaucracy does not move as fast as they do in this book. Recovery from traumatic events does not occur as fast as it does in this book. The compressed timeline pulled me out of the book.

Which is fine. I enjoyed the book. I'm looking forward to the next Bosch book, which is out, but has a 3 month wait at the library. If you're a Bosch fan, this is a good one to read (the Bosch step-brother ones, eh, less so).

Ballard had been in the Dancers and knew the club got its name from a club in the great L.A. novel The Long Goodbye. She also knew it had a whole menu of specialty drinks with L.A. literary titles, like the Black Dahlia, Blonde Lightning, and Indigo Slam.
Location 328

Well, time to look up more books...

The only problem was that outside of his cases his moral compass didn’t always point true north. He made choices based on political and bureaucratic expediency, not right and wrong.
Location 514

Some of the notes revealed more about the personality of the officer than it did about Ramone.
Location 1129

One wrong input in the search parameters could easily result in a “no records found” response, even if there was a closely matching case somewhere in the data.
Location 1137

Sounds like Machine Learning™ needs to come to law enforcement.

... that would require a warrant and a commitment of time and money from the department’s Commercial Crimes Division that outweighed the importance of the case.
Location 1718

“Somebody who totally fucked me over died today,” she said.

“Then why are you sad?” he asked. “I mean, fuck him. If it was a him.”

“I don’t know. I guess because it means what he did can never be changed. His death makes it permanent.”

“I think I get that.”
Location 2048

There were eight [surf]boards arranged in slots according to size: her life’s collection so far. She never traded in boards. There were too many memories attached to them.
Location 3149

I kinda feel this way about my cars, and regret selling every one.

Most people were trying to get out of L.A. Ballard was trying to get in. She steadily goosed her rented Ford Taurus through heavy rush-hour traffic on the 101 freeway toward downtown.
Location 3638


Lethal White

Book Notes

Okay, when J. K. Rowling writes, she uses a lot of words. This has been happening since book four of the Harry Potter series, and it carried over into this series.

Except, in this book, I didn't feel like it had too many words. So either I've become used to too-many-words, or Rowling's editor managed to convince her to trim the excess with this book.

I enjoyed this book. It isn't a short book, taking most people 11 hours to read, it took me a couple hours less, but that's still a lot of words.

The book starts off pretty much where the last one ended, Robin's wedding, and does a number of flashbacks and fast-forwards to tell the story of that day, week, month. The first part had a number of miscommunications and interfering people and George Costanza awkwardness that I almost stopped reading it. I kept going, and enjoyed the book.

There are a couple mysteries in the book, with the bulk following an unhinged Billy as he deals with memories of childhood violence that may or may not have happened, and a separate investigation of the blackmailing of a government official. I will admit to having spent most of the book trying to figure out what would have been legal six years before, and is no longer legal, and why that would be blackmailable. I suspect this was part of the delight of the mystery.

The Cormoran / Ellacott partnership works well professionally, but both of them long for the other in the book, which leads to a stressed professional relationship. I guess this makes for good tension in a mystery book? Maybe?

Anyway, if you're reading the series, keep going. If you haven't started, start at the first one and make it through the second one. These last two have been fun. Not Harry Potter books 1-3 fun, but adult action-mystery fun.

Matthew had sought to deny her the thing that might save her, the thing for which she had cried in the small hours of the night when everybody else was asleep: the restoration of her self-respect, of the job that had meant everything to her, of the friendship she had not known was one of the prizes of her life until it was torn away from her.

Matthew had lied and kept lying. He had smiled and laughed as she dragged herself through the days before the wedding trying to pretend that she was happy that she had lost a life she had loved. Had she fooled him? Did he believe that she was truly glad her life with Strike was over? If he did, she had married a man who did not know her at all, and if he didn’t…
Location 323

“You don’t get to make those decisions for me!” she yelled.
Location 389

“You see,” Robin had continued with the speech she had prepared, “my life is pretty much wall to wall with people who think they know what’s best for me.”

“Well, yes,” said the therapist, in a manner that Robin felt would have been considered condescending beyond the clinic walls, “we’ve discussed — ”

“ — and…” Robin was by nature conciliatory and polite. On the other hand, she had been urged repeatedly by the therapist to speak the unvarnished truth in this dingy little room with the spider plant in its dull green pot and the man-sized tissues on the low pine table. “… and to be honest,” she said, “you feel like just another one of them.”
Location 743

“We can’t throw it all away, can we?” he had asked her hoarsely from the bed where the doctor had insisted he stay. “All these years?”
Location 860

His personality filled the room like the first bar of a hit song. Strike knew him from those few words as the kind of man who, in the army, was either outstandingly useful or an insubordinate bastard.
Location 1069

“No,” lied Strike, because he knew what it felt like to have your personal details strewn across the newspapers. It was kindest, if at all credible, to pretend you hadn’t read it all, politest to let people tell their own story.
Location 1663

“De mortuis nil nisi bonum?” asked Strike.
Location 1786

He had wanted to believe her when she had told him how glorious it was to have her flat to herself and her freedom restored, yet lately he had felt tiny spots of displeasure when he had told her he had to work weekends, like the first heavy drops of rain that presage a storm.
Location 1840

There was, after all, little pleasure to compare with that given by a woman who really wanted you, he thought
Location 1853

From a distance of two years, he saw himself trying to hold tight to some part of his past as everything else slipped away.
Location 1862

Strike had learned many tricks and secrets, become adept ferreting in even the darkest corners of the internet, but often the most innocent social media sites held untold wealth, a minor amount of cross-referencing all that was necessary to compile detailed private histories that their careless owners had never meant to share with the world.
Location 1886

In Strike’s experience, those who disdained the use of representation in court were either unbalanced or so arrogant that it came to the same thing.
Location 1919

Robin had dwelled at length on her need to discern where the real Matthew ended and her illusions about him began. “People change in ten years,” the therapist had responded. “Why does it have to be a question of you being mistaken in Matthew? Perhaps it’s simply that you’ve both changed?”
Location 2561

“D’you believe in redemption?”
Location 2962

And sometimes, she knew, the kindness of a stranger, or even a casual acquaintance, could be transformative, something to cling to while those closest to you dragged you under in their efforts to help.
Location 2969

For the first time ever, Robin had sex with Matthew that night purely because she could not face the row that would ensue if she refused.
Location 3171

Only love could have justified the havoc they had lived together, or the many times he had resumed the relationship, even while he knew in his soul that it couldn’t work. Love, to Strike, was pain and grief sought, accepted, endured.
Location 3217

Lorelei’s willingness to accept the casualness of their current arrangement did not stem from a shared sense of disengagement, but from a desperation to keep him on almost any terms.
Location 4561

“People always say that,” he grunted. “It is the money, and it isn’t. Because what is money? Freedom, security, pleasure, a fresh chance…"
Location 5643

“You wanted things I couldn’t give you. Every single fucking time, you hated the poverty.”

“I acted like a spoiled bitch,” she said, “I know I did, then I married Jago and I got all those things I thought I deserved and I want to fucking die.”

“It goes beyond holidays and jewelry, Charlotte. You wanted to break me.” Her expression became rigid, as it so often had before the worst outbursts, the truly horrifying scenes. “You wanted to stop me wanting anything that wasn’t you. That’d be the proof I loved you, if I gave up the army, the agency, Dave Polworth, every-bloody-thing that made me who I am.”
Location 6657

"I gave you the best I had to give, and it was never enough,” he said. “There comes a point where you stop trying to save the person who’s determined to drag you down with them.”
Location 6670

"He came from a background that finds anything that deviates from its own conventions and norms to be suspect, unnatural, even dangerous. He was a rich white Conservative male, Mr. Strike, and he felt the corridors of power were best populated exclusively by rich white Conservative males. He sought, in everything, to restore a status quo he remembered in his youth."
Location 7238

“Yet she stayed with him. Of course, people do stay, even when they’re treated abominably."
Location 7260

"... it will go the way it always goes in the press when it all comes out: it will have been my fault, all of it! Because men’s crimes are always ours in the final analysis, aren’t they, Mr. Strike? Ultimate responsibility always lies with the woman, who should have stopped it, who should have acted, who must have known. Your failings are really our failings, aren’t they? Because the proper role of the woman is carer, and there’s nothing lower in this whole world than a bad mother.”
Location 7369

Life had taught him that a great and powerful love could be felt for the most apparently unworthy people, a circumstance that ought, after all, to give everybody consolation.
Location 7394

“You liked it, you liked me being stuck at home, why can’t you admit it?"
Location 7516

I think marriage is nearly always an unfathomable entity, even to the people inside it, Della Winn had said.
Location 7578

“You can bloody hate someone and still wish they gave a shit about you and hate yourself for wishing it.”
Location 7920

Robin took the tissue and, with one hearty blow of her nose, demolished it.
Location 8383

Brief Cases

Book Notes

This is a collection of Harry Dresden short stories, collected into one volume. Usually the stories are part of a science-fiction-fantasy anthology written by many authors, of which a Dresden will be one of many in the book. I used to buy these anthologies for the Dresden story, until I realize if I wait long enough, a compendium of Dresden shorts will be assembled and published, and THAT was what I really wanted.

Though now that I'm using the library more, I could probably borrow the anthologies...


I had read many of these short stories before, mostly in the Big Foot collection. There were, however, a few I hadn't read. I enjoyed the Molly tales, especially the one where she earned her svartalf apartment. Molly's thinking voice, however, while a bit too male, and a lot too Dresden, is still quite enjoyable to read.

The book is a must for any Dresden fan, and would make little sense to anyone else.

And pretty sure I missed a bunch of my highlighted quotes, what, reading on a broken kindle and such.

Cold Case

Carlos squinted his eyes and studied the bartender, as if weighing the value of heeding her words versus the personal pleasure he would take in being contrary. Harry Dresden has had a horrible influence on far too many people, and has much to answer for.
Page 288

“Knights of the Cross never have any missions they question?” Carlos asked.

“I think they get a different kind of question,” I said. “For Dad, it was always about saving everyone. Not just the victims. He had to try for the monsters, too.”

“Weird,” Carlos said.

“Not so weird,” I said. “Maybe if someone had offered a hand to the monsters, they wouldn’t have become monsters in the first place. You know?”
Page 305

“Once we get these kids clear, I want to kiss you again.” My tummy did a little happy cartwheel, and my heart sped up to keep it company.
Page 307


“I haven’t kept track,” I said. “Somewhere between zero and none. Should I have?”
Page 308

“The more people who know about them and fear them, the more awake and more powerful they become,” he said. “That’s why the people who know about them don’t talk about them much.”
Page 309

Jury Duty

But, again, when casting a wizard as the central character, from a storytelling standpoint all of that power is a liability, not an asset. Protagonists have to be challenged, struggle, and grow, not just mow down everything that gets in their way with their Tenser’s Mystic Inflammable Bulldozer spell.
Page 325

And yet, this is exactly what Butcher did to Dresden.

I didn’t think I’d had much out on the island, but it’s amazing how many boxes it takes to hold not much.
Page 327

“The government isn’t the mob, Harry.”

“Aren’t they?” I asked. “Pay them money every year to protect you, and God help you if you don’t.”
Page 328

I glanced at the clock as I filed out with the rest of the jury. Nine tomorrow morning. That gave me just under sixteen hours to do what wizards do best. I left, and began meddling.
Page 337

Day One

“You want to help guys like this,” Patterson said. “But he doesn’t want to help himself. You know? You can’t save someone who don’t want to be saved.”

“Doesn’t mean we can’t try,” I said. “Where is he?”
Page 366

“Ehyeh ašer ehyeh,”
Page 379

“It’s just...” I said. “Killing is such a waste. What I did was necessary. But I’m not sure it was good.”

“Killing rarely is,” he said, “at least in my experience. Could you have done any differently?”

“Maybe?” I said. “I don’t know. With what I knew at the time... I don’t know.”
Page 380

Zoo Day

I really enjoyed this story, told three times in three parts from Dresden's, Maggie's, and Mouse's perspectives.

My instincts frequently roll their eyes at the decisions my brain makes.
Page 388

That was what haunts did. They followed you, sometimes for days and days, and they stared and their empty eyes made you relive the bad things from your life. If they did it long enough, you’d just wind up in a ball on the ground — and when you got up, you’d have big black eyes and the haunt would be telling you what to do from then on. I thought about telling
Page 401

He didn’t talk to me in a kid voice, like some grown-ups did. They sound different when they talk to children. My dad sounded like he did when he talked to anyone else.
Page 406

Learned this one the hard way when I talked to Kim Wasson's girl, Ceili. Don't. Talk. Down. Talk with.

But feeling true isn’t the same as being true. In fact, feelings don’t have very much to do with the truth at all.
Page 413

Nothing is truly safe in this world — and that being the case, why worry about threats that have not yet appeared?
Page 420

That might be the saddest part of human heart-stupidity: how much happiness you simply leave aside so that you have enough time to worry.
Page 420

"Depart this city. Do not come back.”

“Or else?” he asked.

“There is nothing else,” I replied calmly. “You will do these things. The only question is whether you will do them of your own will or if I must teach you how.”
Page 429

A Killer Harvest

Book Notes

Okay, while Mom and I were walking in Copenhagen (I love that I can say that), I mentioned how delighted I was with the previous Paul Cleave book I had read. She immediately and enthusiastically agreed with my delight, then tried to remember which of his other books she really liked.

Out came Libby and we scrolled through the list at the library, and this was on the list and this was the one she really liked. boom! onto my hold list it went.

I enjoyed the book. There was a small twist at the end, and a couple deux ex machina moments that were somewhat eyerolling, but I enjoyed the book. The timeline of things was completely unrealistic, no kid is going back to school after going from completely blind to revolutionary eye surgery to home in three weeks.

That a kid can go from no sight to depth recognition in moments was also a bit farfetched, too. And not having any infection after the craziness of the surgery bumbling? No.

But, hey, it's fiction. Found out it is Young Adult fiction, which made it fun. I wish I had known it was YA, as I would have approached it differently.

I enjoyed the book. Trust No One is better, but this was still a fun read. If you're a Cleave fan, definitely read it.

That’s the trick to this — keep moving forward fast enough to stop the bad news from catching up.
Page 20

His dad once said that bad news for everybody else is big news for the media. He would often say, It’s human tragedy that keeps them employed.
Page 22

"... your father fell from a great height. He would have died instantly. He wouldn’t have felt a thing.”

“Except he would have,” Joshua says. “He would have felt fear all the way down, and the higher he fell from, the longer he got to feel it.”
Page 23

"You have to plan for how the world is now, not for how it might be. And of course you can hope. We can all hope.”
Page 31

He is lonely. He is bored. He is sad.
Page 54

Dangerous combination.

“Because people who don’t like themselves are drawn to the idea of belittling others online.”
Page 59

Neither of them excelled in school, neither of them went to university, both of them were concerned with current events but never willing to help make change. They didn’t vote, because they didn’t see a point, neither had had a relationship that lasted longer than a few months, and even then those relationships were few and far between.
Page 68

This describes most other people, does it not?

Did everybody else in Simon’s life think so little of him that they actually believe he did those bad things? Of course, he did do them, but why aren’t people doubting that? They can’t know, not for sure, yet they’re quick to believe the worst.
Page 75

The lift arrives. The door opens. She steps in and the guy steps in. He smiles at her and presses the button, then stands in one corner while she stands in the other. She wonders when everybody jumped on the unwritten rule that you couldn’t make conversation in a lift. People can chat in all sorts of situations, they’ll say hi as they pass by on the street, they’ll make chitchat buying groceries, or at a bar, or a sports game, or in a queue — but making small talk with a stranger in a lift is committing a cardinal sin...
Page 92

I was laughing at this one.

I'm the person who stands the wrong way in an elevator so that I can see everyone, and then starts talking.

Hope strung out is still hope, but it feels like hell.
Page 236

The exercise isn’t completely pointless — those who took and uploaded the pictures will all be charged, and hopefully it will send out a message to others willing to do the same stupid thing. Only she doesn’t think it will. The kind of person who takes a photograph of a dead teenage boy and puts it online isn’t the kind of person who understands how society should work.
Page 248

Peterson is one of those guys who use their hands a lot when they talk.
Page 248

Full-body talking. My specialty.

“Dad used to say the world was full of good people willing to do nothing.”

“Your dad is dead,
Page 259

He tells her how normal it was, and in a way that made it more frightening — how can you find monsters when they can live like anybody?
Page 297

Only Human

Book Notes

I really wanted to like this book. I really enjoyed the first one, which made the second one worth reading. If this series were longer than three books, I would call this one the first of two bad books which would cause me to stop reading the series. The book isn't bad bad, but it is merely okay, which would be the first of two consecutive strikes needed for me to stop reading a series.

The book starts nine after the last one ended, with a dead robot left on Earth now working, Americans terrorizing everyone under the guise of "freedom," and our four intrepid heros returning from Esat Ekt. The storyline also folds back to immediately after our four Earth heros landed on Esat Ekt and are not allowed to leave, so we learn their history and why they left when when weren't really allowed to leave.

It's easy to see where Neuval was going with this particular book: he talks about us versus them and repressed populations and people being held against their will, stopped from leaving by a bureaucratic government and power-seeking people. The parallels to modern western culture and its direction are almost punched into the reader's face.

With Kara gone, however, the sass of the conversations are gone, too. Which makes the book less interesting. There isn't discovery and adventure, there's the tedium of life and the mundane. Both of which, sure, exist and are important, but not when I'm reading a young adult science fiction books about aliens and giant robots and the like.

And really, if it is so easy to recreate a person, memories, soul and all, why wasn't Kara xeroxed in this way and updated regularly?

Don't know!

If you're reading the series, read the book, finish the series. If you're not reading the series yet, read the first book at stop.

— One more for the good guys. Spreading freedom, one city at a time.
— I’m fairly certain they had freedom before.
— Well, now they have more.
Page 6

I don’t care what happens to my “soul.” I don’t care if there’s still a me, but I really want for there to be a you. The world makes more sense if there’s a you.
Page 44

Believe me, my standards as a single parent are about as low as they can be. She didn’t come with a manual, but if there is one, I’m pretty sure there’s a bit in it about not stranding your child on another planet, dying in front of her, letting her deal with your body.
Page 44

What was that thing Wittgenstein said? Something about a man imprisoned in an unlocked room because it doesn’t occur to him to pull instead of pushing on the door.
Page 44

Yep, looked up Wittgenstein.

— We can learn so much from these people, use the time we have to understand how their society works.
— What’s the point if we can’t tell anyone?
— Do you really mean that, Vincent? That doesn’t sound like you at all.
Page 74

I wish they’d make the best of whatever time we have here. We all see the same things, but I wish they could see them as I do. I feel like I’m enjoying a movie no one else in the room is paying attention to.
Page 77

You don’t wanna think about bad shit, so you pretend it doesn’t exist? Reality doesn’t give a crap whether you pay attention to it or not. It’s still there.
Page 137

— Goddammit! Listen to what I’m saying! I don’t wanna be saved! I don’t want you to do anything because I don’t want their stupid cure.
— I’m not gonna let you die.
— I don’t need your permission, son. I’m a general. I’m tired of this place. I’m tired, period. I’m seventy-one years old. I’m allowed.
— …
— What? You think I’m sorry to go? You think I have a bucket list I want to get through after all this?
— You don’t want to go home?
Page 144

My hatred of "gonna" and "wanna" burns with the heat of a thousand suns.

There are ZERO WAYS a General of the Armed Forces of The F'ing Planet Earth is going to say, "gonna" and "wanna" instead of "going to" and "want to."

This was as bad as a Puero Rican girl raised by a South American general, a French Canadian scientist, and an American woman sounding like she is a Jewish girl from the Bronx, as the audio book does.

Couldn't listen to that shit.

— I’m sorry, sir.
— Sorry for what? Are you apologizing to me because you can’t cure cancer? Or because you can’t make the world the way I want it to be? Either way, never be sorry about things you have no control over. You’ll just give yourself ulcers.
Page 145

How (classically) Stoic.

These people can’t even do racist right. I hate this world. People are small. They’re ignorant, and they’re happy to stay that way. They make an effort to. They’ll spend time and energy finding ways not to learn things just to feel comfortable with their beliefs.
Page 152

Oh, is she back in the US?

Anyone who can beat up a cook can get out! But they’re not. They’re all staying here. Basically, they don’t need the fence or the guards. They can just tell people to stay, and they stay. Stay! There, good boy!
Page 167

I asked him why people complained about politics all the time but did absolutely nothing about it. I couldn’t understand why people keep voting for the very people they loathe. They’ll protest a war, but the everyday stuff, small injustices, they just let them slide. Friends making a fortune off government contracts, paying a hundred dollars for a pencil, that type of thing, people complain about it, everyone does, but they won’t do a thing. I remember how floored I was when he told me that was a good thing, how we need a certain level of cynicism for society to function properly. If people thought they had real power to change things, if they truly believed in democracy, everyone would take to the streets, advocate, militate for everything. It happens from time to time.
Page 167

If you see something wrong with the world, fix it. Fight. Resist. Don’t use cardboard.
Page 168

Part Three: Road to Damascus

— What is it they say? No news is good news?
— Well, they do say that, but it’s bullshit. No news is just the absence of news.
Page 207

— I wouldn’t know why I was doing it. I don’t see the point.
— Knowledge is the point. Why else do we do anything?
Page 212

"On the planet? You can’t defeat terrorism on a whole planet, it’s not an army you can crush. That’s why it’s called terrorism. There’d always be one person left somewhere to blow up more things."
Page 229

— I had a feeling you’d go back to old habits right away.
— Am I that predictable?
— Well, yes. Everyone is. I’d do the same thing. Old shoes, old shirt, a familiar meal. For a moment, the world makes sense again.
Page 232

"You’re being too hard on people, just like you can be too hard on yourself. People got scared. Rightly so! What happened here nine years ago wasn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened. People have the right to be emotional, and irrational, from time to time."
Page 233

Just not at the level of Cheetoh, btw.

"We’ve lost our collective mind! Scientists are ignoring their own findings. People are denying even the most basic scientific facts because it makes them feel better about hurting each other. Do you realize how horrifying that is? We’re talking about human beings making a conscious effort, going out of their way, to be ignorant. Willfully stupid. They’re proud of it. They take pride in idiocy. There’s not even an attempt to rationalize things anymore."
Page 233

Oh, hey, the commentary isn't opaque AT ALL here.

You can’t expect babies to do the things adults do. You can’t expect anyone to do things they can’t do. If you ask me to lift five hundred pounds, I can’t. It doesn’t matter how much I want to, how much conviction I put into it. It’s just not something I can do.
Page 235

— You’re right.
— I know I’m right! I wouldn’t say things if I thought they were wrong!
Page 236

Our late friend once told me: “redefine alterity and you can erase boundaries.”
Page 237

If you’re using bombs instead of words, that means you’re banking on people giving you what you want out of fear instead of reason. That’s never a good sign.
Page 265

— Alex, are you ready for this?
— No. — Good. Overconfidence is bad.
— Then I’m doing great.
— That makes two of us.
Page 268


Book Notes

This is another Caltech Bookclub read, I started reading it way behind the rest of the readers, so spent much of today reading to catch up. Aaaaaaaaaand, finished it in a day. I do like reading while treadmill walking.

Butler grew up in Pasadena, which is the connection to Caltech for the book club. Previous books were about Caltech scientists or Caltech research or by Techers. This one has a lot of Pasadena in it. It was neat to know where she was describing, even if the Pasadena and Altadena even I knew are as gone as hers.

Butler is known as a science-fiction author. While this book has unexplained time travel as a plot mechanism, no time is spent exploring the phenomenon, making this book not really science fiction in my categorization. It is, however, a seriously good commentary on human nature.

The main character, Dana, is transported back to early 1800s American South. As Dana is black, we read about the atrocities of slavery, as told from a modern person transported back to the brutality of the era. We see how we normalize horrible behaviours, often to survive. We see how we assume power, even when we are one of the powerless. We see how we don't see our own privilege, how seeing another's view is difficult, it not impossible.

I think what's lingering with me most, however, is the slow descent into acceptance that Butler weaves into the story. It reminds me a great deal what Mistakes We Made (but not by me) discusses about human nature: we are all frogs in the pot about to boil.

I appreciated the technological contrast between today and forty years ago in the difficulties that the characters experienced. The story told from 2018 would have been much different in the details. I suspect Dana of 2018 would not have lasted as long as Dana of 1976 did.

I've read other books by Butler, on the strong recommendation from Claire and Susan. So far, all of them have been worth reading. I strongly recommend this book, and reading it for the commentary on human nature.

There were free blacks. You could pose as one of them.”

“Free blacks had papers to prove they were free.”

“You could have papers too. We could forge something …”

“If we knew what to forge. I mean, a certificate of freedom is what we need, but I don’t know what they looked like. I’ve read about them, but I’ve never seen one.”
Page 46

Here's an example of where 2018 Dana could Internet Search™ for an image of freedom papers, and be able to create copies.

Yet, how much would they really matter for a single black woman in the South? Tear them up and she's in the same place as she was without them.

“I’m even crazier than you,” he said. “After all I’m older than you. Old enough to recognize failure and stop dreaming, so I’m told.”
Page 56

After all, how accepting would I be if I met a man who claimed to be from eighteen nineteen—or two thousand nineteen, for that matter.
Page 63

The timing of this cracked me up. 2019! A month away!

“None of them say eighteen-anything either,” said Kevin. “But here.” He picked out a bicentennial quarter and handed it to Rufus.

“Seventeen seventy-six, nineteen seventy-six,” the boy read. “Two dates.”
Page 64

I so love those quarters.

If you have one, send it to me!

I was the worst possible guardian for him—a black to watch over him in a society that considered blacks subhuman, a woman to watch over him in a society that considered women perennial children.
Page 69


"Even here, not all children let themselves be molded into what their parents want them to be."
Page 86

“Wait a minute,” he said. “I’m not minimizing the wrong that’s being done here. I just …”

“Yes you are. You don’t mean to be, but you are.”
Page 107

White people. Privilege (such an overused, abused term these days). Explaining away the horrible actions of others as, "not that bad."

“The ease seemed so frightening,” I said. “Now I see why.”


“The ease. Us, the children … I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.”
Page 108

One small step at a time.

Down the slippery slope.

Or if I had to stay here, why couldn’t I just turn these two kids away, turn off my conscience, and be a coward, safe and comfortable?
Page 113

When that time came, I could walk away from the agency not owing anybody.

My memory of my aunt and uncle told me that even people who loved me could demand more of me than I could give—and expect their demands to be met simply because I owed them.
Page 117

The pain was a friend. Pain had never been a friend to me before, but now it kept me still.
Page 122

The fire flared up and swallowed the dry paper, and I found my thoughts shifting to Nazi book burnings. Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of “wrong” ideas.
Page 154

“What’s it going to get them?”

“It’ll get them the cowhide if they don’t,” she snapped. “I ain’t goin’ to take the blame for what they don’t do. Are you?”

“Well, no, but …”

“I work. You work. Don’t need somebody behind us all the time to make us work.”
Page 158

The discussion was about why the slaves continue to work, and why some are more motivated that others to work.

“Don’t want to hear no more,” she repeated softly. “Things ain’t bad here. I can get along.” She had done the safe thing—had accepted a life of slavery because she was afraid.
Page 159

Ignorant as I knew I was, I trusted myself more than I trusted her.
Page 161

Don't we all.

Gotten possession of the woman without having to bother with her husband. Now, somehow, Alice would have to accept not only the loss of her husband, but her own enslavement. Rufus had caused her trouble, and now he had been rewarded for it. It made no sense. No matter how kindly he treated her now that he had destroyed her, it made no sense.
Page 163

“My man used to. He’d tell me I was the only one he cared about. Then, next thing I knew, he’d say I was looking at some other man, and he’d go to hittin’.”
Page 165


I went, annoyed, but silent. I thought he could have given me a decent estimate if he had wanted to. But it didn’t really matter. Kevin would receive the letter and he could come to get me. I couldn’t really doubt that Rufus had sent it. He didn’t want to lose my good will anymore than I wanted to lose his. And this was such a small thing.
Page 167

Wow, doesn't this feel like the Princess Bride?

“Mama said she’d rather be dead than be a slave,” she said.

“Better to stay alive,” I said. “At least while there’s a chance to get free.”
Page 172

I went out to the laundry yard to help Tess. I had come to almost welcome the hard work. It kept me from thinking.
Page 178

Better than drinking, maybe.

"All I want you to do is fix it so I don’t have to beat her. You’re no friend of hers if you won’t do that much!"

Of hers!
Page 180

This is totally the thinking of abusers blaming the victims, "You made me do it, you made me beat the holy hell out of you." Um... no.

When she hurt, she struck out to hurt others. But she had been hurting less as the days passed, and striking out less.
Page 181

She went to him. She adjusted, became a quieter more subdued person. She didn’t kill, but she seemed to die a little.
Page 185

Would I really try again? Could I? I moved, twisted myself somehow, from my stomach onto my side. I tried to get away from my thoughts, but they still came. See how easily slaves are made? they said.
Page 196

But he wanted me around—someone to talk to, someone who would listen to him and care what he said, care about him. And I did. However little sense it made, I cared. I must have. I kept forgiving him for things.
Page 198

I wondered whether he had been able to write during the five years, or rather, whether he had been able to publish. I was sure he had been writing. I couldn’t imagine either of us going for five years without writing. Maybe he’d kept a journal or something.
Page 217

In other words, he was sorry. He was always sorry. He would have been amazed, uncomprehending if I refused to forgive him. I remembered suddenly the way he used to talk to his mother. If he couldn’t get what he wanted from her gently, he stopped being gentle. Why not? She always forgave him.
Page 242

She decided to teach me to sew. I had an old Singer at home and I could sew well enough with it to take care of my needs and Kevin’s. But I thought sewing by hand, especially sewing for “pleasure” was slow torture.
Page 243

Before the era of disposable clothing.

He just didn’t like working alone. Actually, he didn’t like working at all. But if he had to do it, he wanted company.
Page 253

Sounds like a number of people I know.

“He’ll never let any of us go,” she said. “The more you give him, the more he wants.”
Page 262

Sometimes I wrote things because I couldn’t say them, couldn’t sort out my feelings about them, couldn’t keep them bottled up inside me. It was a kind of writing I always destroyed afterward. It was for no one else.
Page 282

He lay with his head on my shoulder, his left arm around me, his right hand still holding my hand, and slowly, I realized how easy it would be for me to continue to be still and forgive him even this.

So easy, in spite of all my talk.
Page 290

From the reader's guide at the end of the book:

5. “I never realized how easily people could be trained to accept slavery.” Dana says this to Kevin when they have returned to the present and are discussing their experiences in the antebellum South. Do we also in the twenty-first century still have conditioned responses to slavery?
Page 296

The Big Sleep

Book Notes

I added this book to my reading list some time after reading a ranking of Chandler's Marlowe books in order of "good," and this one wasn't first, but it is the first book of the series.

After checking this book out from the library, I found a nicely bound hardcover in a bookstore. Instead of reading the library version, I've been reading the paper version. Turns out, I've seen the movie, and recall much of it. The first 25% of the book matches the film well. We'll see if it stays that way, I'll be watching the movie again shortly.

I really enjoyed this book. Helps that I've lived in Los Angeles. While my residency was not in the late thirties, the world that Chandler describes is vivid enough, and based on real enough places, that I could visualize the story very well.

Unsurprisingly, most of the supporting characters are one-dimensional, Silver-Wig loves her man, until she realizes he's a killer, for example. Mars is a tough guy, willing to do most things for a dollar, and smart enough to have someone else do those things.

Marlowe, however, has more character. He's the hero of the story, we follow him around, we see more of his motivations, so unsurprisingly we understand him better. Seems reasonable that someone who wants to solve puzzles and understands a bit about human character would become a private investigator.

Unrelated, there is a lot of "kissing people you just met" in this book, but no actual sex. I didn't realize that people kissed so much in Los Angeles. I clearly did L.A. wrong.

I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed all the one-line and otherwise short zingers, and the snappy dialog. I'll likely continue reading the series.

"If I sound a little sinister as a parent, Mr. Marlowe, it is because my hold on life is too slight to include any Victorian hypocrisy."
Page 13

“I need not add that a man who indulges in parenthood for the first time at the age of fifty-four deserves all he gets.”
Page 13

Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
Page 42

"Sure you can’t help me on this?"

I liked his putting it that way. It let me say no without actually lying.
Page 62

Not being bullet proof is an idea I had had to get used to.
Page 73

He was afraid of the police, of course, being what he is, and he probably thought it a good idea to have the body hidden until he had removed his effects from the house.
Page 110

"Being what he is," which would be gay. I appreciate the progress we have made as a culture, in many ways. We have further to go.

Cops get very large and emphatic when an outsider tries to hide anything, but they do the same things themselves every other day, to oblige their friends or anybody with a little pull.
Page 114

"You’ll hear from him."

"Too late will be too soon," I said,
Page 116

I read all three of the morning papers over my eggs and bacon the next morning. Their accounts of the affair came as close to the truth as newspaper stories usually come—as close as Mars is to Saturn.
Page 118

“What makes you think I’m doing anything for him?”

I didn’t answer that.
Page 120

Then my eyes adjusted themselves more to the darkness and I saw there was something across the floor in front of me that shouldn’t have been there. I backed, reached the wall switch with my thumb and flicked the light on.

The bed was down.
Page 153

HUH. Marlowe has a Murphy bed, too!

I’m your friend. I won’t let you down—in spite of yourself.
Page 155

I threw my cigarette on the floor and stamped on it.
Page 156

A significantly different world. There are many references to cigar and cigarette ash being allowed to fall into the rug.

It seemed a little too pat. It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
Page 169

There was a tarnished and well-missed spittoon on a gnawed rubber mat.
Page 170

Again, different world.

“It’s very funny,” she said breathlessly. “Very funny, because, you see—I still love him. Women—” She began to laugh again.
Page 196

One dimensional.

What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.
Page 230

Foxglove Summer

Book Notes

This is book 5 of the Peter Grant series.

I have so been enjoying the Peter Grant series, and strongly recommend them to anyone who enjoys the Dresden Files or the Alex Verus series. A different flavor of the modern-day wizard, urban fantasy story, and one that seems, if one can suspend disbelief, reasonable in terms of "We don't know" and "Let's find out" of magic. That anyone can learn is a premise of the story-line, which I can appreciate.

The book centers around the disappearance of two girls in a small English town (village, hamlet, something...). Initially unsure if there's anything "weird" about their disappearances, that there is a WW2 era practitioner living nearby lends reason to investigate, and Peter does.

The book deals with some of Peter's life frustrations. He's been holding things together, despite some ugh awful things happening. We learn more of Peter's history, more of his family dynamics.

The book was a fast read. There are two more currently published book and one novella in the series. Will definitely keep reading them.

Once Mr. Punch and the M25 were behind me, I tuned the car radio to Five Live, which was doing its best to build a twenty-four-hour news cycle out of about half an hour of news.
Page 8

This cracked me up. Yes about how frustrating news cycles are in order to obtain and keep attention.

Never underestimate the ability of a police driver to misjudge a corner when finally coming home from a twelve-hour shift.
Page 26

Missing kids are tough cases. I mean, murder is bad but at least the worst has already happened to the victim—they’re not going to get any deader. Missing kids come with a literal deadline, made worse by the fact that you don’t get to learn the timing until it’s too late.
Page 27

“Do you think I’m going to get my daughter back?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.


Because you’ve got to have hope and no news is good news. And because the best you can do is sound like you’re being forthright and sincere. If they get their kids back they won’t even remember what you said and if they don’t—then nothing else will be important.
Page 41

Hope will kill you.

“My idea?”

“Something suitably weird.”

“That’s a bit presumptuous, isn’t it?” I said.

“Presumptuous is my middle name,” said Dominic.
Page 49

We trooped off behind her into waist high bracken, down something that was not so much a path as a statistical variation in the density of the undergrowth.
Page 52

He called it potentia because there’s nothing quite like Latin for disguising the fact that you’re making it up as you go along.
Page 55

Polidori’s theories were as good as anyone else’s. But sticking a Latin tag on a theory doesn’t make it true. Not true in a way that matters.
Page 56

Absence of evidence, as any good archeologist will tell you, is not the same as evidence of absence.
Page 56

A lot of men must have left their belongings behind in 1944 believing that they were coming back.
Page 61

We all do this. We assume we have more life.

Not always a good assumption.

All your cases, I thought, do not belong to us.
Page 71

This cracked me up. I love the cultural references in these books, even if I do have to look up most of the English ones.

Right, I thought. If you can’t be clever then at least you can be thorough.
Page 89

And everyone can do the work.

During the whole pointless process not one resident refused to let us in or objected to us looking around, which I found creepy because there’s always one. But Dominic said no. “Not in the countryside,” he said.

“Community spirit?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. “That and everyone would know that they hadn’t cooperated, which people would find suspicious. In a village that sort of thing sticks for, like, generations.”
Page 90

I wanted to ask where Beverley was, and how the Teme family just happened to have her phone. But if there’s one thing Nightingale has taught me, it’s to let other people talk themselves out before giving anything away.
Page 97

We were pretty certain we knew roughly where he’d been, but members of the public have an unnerving tendency to switch straight from lying to your face to telling you what they think you want to hear—with no intervening period of veracity at all.

That’s fine when you’re looking for them to put their hand up to some crimes and boost your clear-up statistics. But when the lives of two kids depends on the accuracy of the statement, you tend to be a bit more thorough.
Page 103

He told us the truth, although it took ages to pry all the sordid details out. Which just goes to show that if you want a confession, use a telephone book—but if you want the truth, you’ve got to put in the hours.
Page 104

Nightingale says that conspiracies of silence are the only kind of conspiracies that stand the test of time.
Page 107

I woke in the hour before dawn, stuck in that strange state where the memory of your dreams is still powerful enough to motivate your actions.
Page 130

Wow, yes. Those moments are powerful.

Because it’s always a waste of time, all those rushed, angry stupid things you do. They never solve the problems. Because in real life that rush of adrenaline and rage just makes you dumb and seeing red just leads you up the steps to court for something aggravated—assault, battery, stupidity.
Page 149

“Imposing themselves on the landscape”—they’d always called it that on Time Team.

Especially the beardy Iron and Bronze Age specialists—“ The Romans imposed themselves on the landscape.” Or, I thought, they wanted to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
Page 160

“You said that there’s weird shit, but it normally turns out to have a rational explanation.”

“It does,” said Beverley. “The explanation is a wizard did it.”

“That’s my line,” I said, and Beverley shrugged.
Page 161

Again, cracking up.

“Sic transit Gloria mundi,” I said, because it was the first thing that came into my head—we clinked and drank. It could have been worse. I could have said “Valar Morghulis” instead.
Page 187

"Thus passes the glory of the world," in Latin, and "All men must die," in High Valyrian.

Dying here!

I didn’t tell her that I was pretty much legally required to have an adult present—it’s easier to manage people if they maintain a sense of agency.
Page 264

I had one of those “somebody do something” moments when you suddenly have the realization that the person supposed to be doing something is you.
Page 282

The night may be dark and full of terrors, I thought, but I’ve got a big stick.
Page 295

When faced with a low-level hostage situation your first task is to calm the hostage taker down long enough to find out what they want. Then you can lie to them convincingly until you negotiate the hostage back, or are in a position to dog pile the perpetrator.
Page 307

You swear an oath when you become a police officer—you promise to serve the Queen in the office of constable with fairness, integrity and impartiality, and that you will cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offenses against people and property. The very next day you start making the first of the many minor and messy compromises required to get the Job done. But sooner or later the Job walks up to you, pins you against the wall, looks you in the eye and asks you how far you’re willing to go to prevent all offenses. Asks just what did your oath, your attestation, really mean to you?
Page 313

But sometimes the right thing to do is the right thing to do, especially when a child is involved.
Page 314

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Book Notes

In the large list of "books I knew about and didn't read in childhood, but are still in print," this book came to my attention, so I plunked it on my library hold list without thinking about it much. It dropped into my reading queue, and I ripped through it.

This is a notable book in the Logans Series, about a black family living in the American South during the 1930s, which is to say, the Great Depression. The family was lucky, in that they owned their own land, but owning and holding onto land if often two very different things, especially when power and prejudice and greed come into play.

The story follows Cassie, who is nine, as she experiences the subtle and overt racism of her times. Taylor does a good job of describing the ugliness of human nature as seen from a young person's perspective. If anything, I'd argue that Taylor left out a lot of the uglier parts, which is likely a good thing, given the target audience.

A number of times in the book, Cassie complains that things aren't fair. And, yes, god yes, I'm agreeing with the character. Even now, things aren't fair, they will never be fair, and that frustrates me, even in fictional books.

The book doesn't lose its impact over its 42 years of print. Worth reading.

“Well, I just think you’re spoiling those children, Mary. They’ve got to learn how things are sometime.”

“Maybe so,” said Mama, “but that doesn’t mean they have to accept them… and maybe we don’t either.”
Page 30

We preferred to do without them; unfortunately, Mama cared very little about what we preferred.
Page 43

“But, Big Ma, it ain’t fair!” wailed Little Man. “It just ain’t fair.”
Page 44

“If I was to be walking out there when the bus comes, that ole bus driver would be sure to speed up so’s he could splash me,” I suggested.
Page 53


“See, fellows, there’s a system to getting out of work,” T.J. was expounding as I sat down. “Jus’ don’t be ’round when it’s got to be done. Only thing is, you can’t let your folks know that’s what you’re doin’. See, you should do like me. Like this mornin’ when Mama wanted to bring back them scissors she borrowed from Miz Logan, I ups and volunteers so she don’t have to make this long trip down here, she bein’ so busy and all. And naturally when I got here, y’all wanted me to stay awhile and talk to y’all, so what could I do? I couldn’t be impolite, could I? And by the time I finally convince y’all I gotta go, all the work’ll be done at home.” T.J. chuckled with satisfaction. “Yeah, you just have to use the old brain, that’s all.”
Page 72

Just Do. The. Work.

This character is like so many people these days: they work harder not to do the work than the effort of doing the work would actually take.

“Baby, you had to grow up a little today. I wish… well, no matter what I wish. It happened and you have to accept the fact that in the world outside this house, things are not always as we would have them to be.”
Page 126

Mama’s hold tightened on mine, but I exclaimed, “Ah, shoot! White ain’t nothin’!” Mama’s grip did not lessen.

“It is something, Cassie. White is something just like black is something. Everybody born on this earth is something and nobody, no matter what color, is better than anybody else.”

“Then how come Mr. Simms don’t know that?”

“Because he’s one of those people who has to believe that white people are better than black people to make himself feel big.”
Page 127

“They also said that slavery was good for us because it taught us to be good Christians—like the white people.” She sighed deeply, her voice fading into a distant whisper. “But they didn’t teach us Christianity to save our souls, but to teach us obedience. They were afraid of slave revolts and they wanted us to learn the Bible’s teachings about slaves being loyal to their masters."
Page 128

"... and people like Mr. Simms hold on to that belief harder than some other folks because they have little else to hold on to. For him to believe that he is better than we are makes him think that he’s important, simply because he’s white."
Page 129

“But there are other things, Cassie, that if I’d let be, they’d eat away at me and destroy me in the end. And it’s the same with you, baby. There are things you can’t back down on, things you gotta take a stand on. But it’s up to you to decide what them things are. You have to demand respect in this world, ain’t nobody just gonna hand it to you. How you carry yourself, what you stand for—that’s how you gain respect. But, little one, ain’t nobody’s respect worth more than your own. You understand that?”


“Now, there ain’t no sense in going around being mad. You clear your head so you can think sensibly."
Page 175

"Maybe even do what they doing now. It’s hard on a man to give up, but sometimes it seems there just ain’t nothing else he can do.”
Page 205

Nearer the fence a stocky man, masked like the others, searched the field in robot fashion for hidden fire under the charred skeletons of broken stalks.
Page 267

Were robots around in 1930, that she'd be able to make this comparison?