In “The Psychology of Money,” author Morgan Housel discusses the power of compounding and how it applies not just to money, but also to other areas of our lives such as careers and relationships. Compounding is the process of earning interest on your interest, which can lead to exponential growth over time. However, compounding requires time and patience, as it works best over years or decades.
When it comes to our finances, compounding is a powerful tool for building wealth. By starting to save and invest early and consistently, we can harness the power of compounding and watch our savings grow exponentially over time. However, this requires endurance and a long-term perspective. We must be willing to stick to our savings plan even when it may seem difficult or tempting to deviate from it.
But compounding is not just about money. It also applies to our careers and relationships. Just as a small amount of money can grow into a large sum over time, small actions taken consistently in our careers and relationships can lead to significant growth and progress.
Endurance is key in both our financial and personal lives. We must be willing to stick with our goals and plans even when it feels challenging or uncomfortable. This requires a long-term perspective and the willingness to delay gratification in the short term in order to achieve our long-term goals.
Another important aspect of endurance is balance. As Housel notes, we are constantly changing over time, and what we value and prioritize can shift. Therefore, it is important to maintain balance in our lives at every point in time. This means taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental health, as well as nurturing our relationships and pursuing our passions and interests. By maintaining balance, we can avoid future regret and encourage endurance in all areas of our lives.
Endurance and balance are key components in harnessing the power of compounding in all areas of our lives. By maintaining a long-term perspective and taking consistent, small actions, we can achieve significant growth and progress over time.
Compounding works best when you can give a plan years or decades to grow. This is true for not only savings but careers and relationships. Endurance is key. And when you consider our tendency to change who we are over time, balance at every point in your life becomes a strategy to avoid future regret and encourage endurance.
The integration of AI, robotics, and quantum computing into our lives has been a topic of much discussion and speculation. However, rather than viewing these technological advancements as a threat, we should see them as a way to enhance and augment our capabilities.
History has shown us the power of man and machine working together, as exemplified by Wilbur Wright’s story of innovation in flight. Just as aviation is no longer considered “artificial” flight, we should view technological intelligence as an extension of human intelligence.
Recently read this in the book “hit refresh” by Satya Nadella
AI, robotics, and even quantum computing will simply be the latest examples of machines that can work in concert with people to achieve something greater.
Historian David McCullough has told the story of Wilbur Wright, the bike mechanic and innovator of heavier-than-air flight at the turn of the last century. McCullough describes how Wilbur used everything he could humanly muster—his mind, body, and soul—to coax his gliding machine into flight. The grainy old film, shot from a distance, fails to capture his grit and determination. But if we could zoom in, we’d see his muscles tense, his mind focus, and the very spirit of innovation flow as man and machine soared into the air for the first time, together.
When history was made at Kitty Hawk, it was man with machine—not man against machine.
Today we don’t think of aviation as “artificial flight”—it’s simply flight. In the same way, we shouldn’t think of technological intelligence as artificial, but rather as intelligence that serves to augment human capabilities and capacities
Despite a year of mixed feelings, I managed to find time to delve into some fascinating reads. Due to the pandemic, my usual reading habits were disrupted, as most of my reading would typically take place during my daily commute. However, in 2022 the addition of new distractions at home caused me to read even fewer books. At one point during the year, I was reading just one book a month.
However, a bright spot in the year was a long-awaited train journey, which allowed me to read a few fiction novels and reignite my love for reading fiction.
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan: This book explores the transformative power of cooking and its impact on both our culture and our biology.
The CEO Factory: Management Lessons from Hindustan Unilever by Sudhir Sitapati: This book examines the management strategies and principles used by Hindustan Unilever, one of India’s largest consumer goods companies, and outlines the key lessons that can be learned from their success.
Elemental by Tim James: This book delves into the elemental forces of nature and the impact they have on our lives, offering a unique perspective on the world around us.
Influence by Robert B. Cialdini: This book provides insights into the psychology of influence, exploring the tactics and strategies used by people to persuade others and how these can be applied in business, marketing, and everyday life.
Money Wise: Timeless Lessons for Building Wealth by Deepak Cheney: This book offers practical advice on how to grow and manage wealth, using timeless lessons from history and the experiences of successful investors.
You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane: This book explores the cutting-edge world of AI and machine learning, showcasing how these technologies are transforming the way we live, work, and think.
The Secret History of Food: Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat by Matt Siegel: This book takes a fascinating look at the history of food, uncovering the surprising origins of many of our favorite dishes and exploring the cultural and economic forces that shape our food choices.
Bulls, Bears and Other Beasts by Santosh Nair: This book provides a humorous and insightful look at the world of stock trading and investment, exploring the often-bizarre behaviors of traders and the underlying reasons for their success or failure.
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs: This is a science fiction novel set in the future, exploring the adventures of a group of astronauts on a mission to explore a distant planet.
Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett: This book provides a humorous and insightful look at the science of the human brain, exploring the reasons why we make the decisions we do and how we can use this understanding to improve our lives.
Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It by Tien Tzuo and Gabe Weisert: This book explores the rise of the subscription business model and its impact on the future of commerce, offering insights and strategies for companies looking to embrace this new way of doing business.
Maths on the Back of an Envelope: Clever Ways to (Roughly) Calculate Anything by Rob Eastaway: This book provides a practical and entertaining guide to using math to solve everyday problems, using simple and intuitive methods to make quick and accurate calculations.
Evolution gone wrong: the curious reasons why our bodies work or don’t by Alex Bezzerides: This book provides a humorous and insightful look at the science of human evolution, exploring the ways in which our bodies have adapted to our environment and the surprising ways in which they sometimes go wrong.
Making Numbers Count by Chip Heath and Karla Starr: This book provides a practical guide to using data and statistics to drive business decisions, offering tips and insights for improving data analysis and interpretation.
How Innovation Works by Matt Ridley: This book provides a comprehensive overview of the science and economics of innovation, exploring the history and future of technological progress and its impact on society.
Cracking the Code: My Journey in Bollywood by Ayushmann Khurrana and Tahira Kashyap is a memoir about the journey of the Bollywood actor, Ayushmann Khurrana, and his rise to fame. The book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and obstacles he faced along the way, as well as the strategies he used to overcome them.
Around the Corner to Around the World by Robert Rosenberg is a book about key lessons from Dunkin’ Donuts former CEO Robert Rosenberg that offer critical insights and a unique, 360-degree perspective to business leaders and managers on building one of the world’s most recognized brands.
The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios is a science book that explores the underlying principles of physics that govern the objects and events we encounter in our daily lives. The author provides an accessible and engaging look at topics such as motion, energy, and forces.
Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a book that explores the concept of antifragility, which refers to the ability of some systems to thrive in the face of chaos and uncertainty. The author argues that antifragility is a key factor in creating resilience and success in life and business.
Tick Tock by Simon Mayo is an Exciting and urgently contemporary novel, which tells the story of a global catastrophe through the eyes of the three people at the heart of the storm.
Lost in Time by A.G. Riddle is a thrilling science fiction novel that takes you on a journey 200 million years into the past. The protagonist, a scientist, embarks on this journey to save his daughter who has been wrongly accused of murder. However, as he delves deeper into the past, he realizes that there are secrets that are waiting for him. With more than just his daughter’s life at stake, this book will leave you on the edge of your seat as you witness the scientist’s quest to save his loved one and uncover the truth behind these secrets.
The Loop by Ben Oliver is a science fiction novel that depicts life inside a futuristic death row for minors under the age of 18 as a never-ending cycle of purgatory. However, when the inmates become aware of the unrest and turmoil in the outside world and disorder begins to unfold, their confinement in the prison becomes the least of their concerns.
The Strategic Dividend Investor by Daniel Peris is a book about investing in dividend-paying stocks. The author provides practical advice on how to identify and select high-quality dividend stocks, and how to construct a diversified portfolio that can generate consistent income and long-term growth.
My search for a fiction writer to replace Michael Crichton continues, specifically in the genre of science fiction. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
Recently was looking at my book notes and found this from the Book Antifragile by Nassim Taleb.
Note a subtlety in the way we are built: the cow and other herbivores are subjected to much less randomness than the lion in their food intake; they eat steadily but need to work extremely hard in order to metabolize all these nutrients, spending several hours a day just eating. Not to count the boredom of standing there eating salads.
The lion, on the other hand, needs to rely on more luck; it succeeds in a small percentage of the kills, less than 20 percent, but when it eats, it gets in a quick and easy way all these nutrients produced thanks to very hard and boring work by the prey.
So take the following principles derived from the random structure of the environment: when we are herbivores, we eat steadily; but when we are predators we eat more randomly. Hence our proteins need to be consumed randomly for statistical reasons.
So if you agree that we need “balanced” nutrition of a certain combination, it is wrong to immediately assume that we need such balance at every meal rather than serially so. Assuming that we need on average certain quantities of the various nutrients that have been identified, say a certain quantity of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
There is a big difference between getting them together, at every meal, with the classical steak, salad, followed by fresh fruits, or having them separately, serially. Why? Because deprivation is a stressor—and we know what stressors do when allowed adequate recovery. Convexity effects at work here again: getting three times the daily dose of protein in one day and nothing the next two is certainly not biologically equivalent to “steady” moderate consumption if our metabolic reactions are nonlinear.
It should have some benefits—at least this is how we are designed to be.
Recently read the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I read this book 6 years ago and again picked it up recently. Loved it even more.
Here’s how the author begins the book.
Writing a book is its own reward, but reading a book is a commitment of time and money that ought to pay clear dividends.
If you are not educated and entertained, you deserve to be returned to your original age and net worth.
That won’t happen, of course, so I’ve written a book that I hope will interest and amuse you, provided you don’t take yourself too seriously and have at least ten minutes to live.
No one can say how you will feel when you get to the end of this book, and that includes the you who is about to start it. But if your future self is not satisfied when it arrives at the last page, it will at least understand why you mistakenly thought it would be.
This is a book about happiness? How do we humans see happiness, strive for, get it or don’t get it? As the author stated, the book is both entertaining and educative in equal measures.
Stumble upon this book and you will perhaps understand yourself and others a little better.
I am guessing every one of us has heard about this chemical.
This neurotransmitter helps us feel pleasure and control impulses, and it also affects memory, sleep, and other functions.
Our brains produce serotonin when we engage in beneficial behaviours like having physical contact with loved ones, taking care of infants, spending time outdoors in natural light, and, exercising.
Elevated levels of serotonin induce a feeling of well-being and we become better at controlling non-adaptive impulses. Low serotonin is thus associated with anxiety, depression, and impulsivity.
Recently read the book Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin by Loretta Graziano.
And this connection between serotonin and amoeba was so fascinating.
All living creatures have serotonin, even amoeba.
One-celled animals use it in a way that’s curiously relevant to us. We humans have more serotonin in our digestive system than we have in our brains.
An amoeba is too small for a separate digestive system and nervous system, but it uses serotonin in a way that helps us understand its dual purpose. Serotonin signals the amoeba’s body to move toward food, and prepare to receive food.
The mechanism is astonishingly simple.
An amoeba constantly forages and scans for danger by letting tiny amounts of water pass through its cell membrane. If the water sample shows a high concentration of foreign material, the amoeba interprets that as danger and it wiggles away. If the sample contains a low level of foreign material, the amoeba perceives a feeding opportunity and releases serotonin.
The neurochemical causes its digestive juices to flow and its tail to forge a course straight ahead. Serotonin is the amoeba’s response to the perception that it’s safe to feed.
Our bodies are most robust and most fragile at the same time. Recently completed the excellent book Evolution gone wrong the curious case why our body fails us? by Alex Bezzerides
Well written and extremely fun to read. Filled with many funny but insightful why questions. Here’s a small sample from the book on pooing sloths?
Why do three-toed sloths come down from their trees to defecate?
On the surface, this behavior is baffling. Why risk the chance of encountering a predator? Why not just let it fly from the branches? In class, my students work together to develop hypotheses and design hypothetical experiments to test their hypotheses. Are sloths fertilizing their trees in a targeted manner? Is it some way of marking their territory? Is it an atypical type of mate attraction?
Acutely observant scientists solved the mystery only recently with a great deal of patience.
They first observed that sloths have algae growing in their fur, which gives the sloths a green tint. The algae help the sloths blend in with the forest canopy, but the story goes beyond organic camouflage.
The sloth scientists noted sloths feeding on their homegrown algae and in doing so, supplementing their otherwise nutrient-poor diet. Eating their own fur algae is admittedly weird, but it gets even stranger than that.
A population of moths lives in the fur of each three-toed sloth. The moth population increases the nitrogen content of the fur and thus promotes the growth of the algae the sloths snack on.
When the sloths make their weekly treks to the bottoms of trees, the female moths lay their eggs in the fresh sloth dung. The tidy sloths cover up their mess with some leaf litter, and after the eggs hatch, the moth caterpillars dine on the sloth poop, grow up, become adults, and fly to the canopy layer to colonize sloths just as their parents did.
Sloths risk their lives to make a dung nursery for the moths on whom they depend for fertilizer to grow the algae they not only use as camo but also eat from their own fur for an extra shot of nutrition. Bam! Mystery solved. We can finally let the sloths poop in peace. Next question.
I hope this sloth-and-moth story has made the point that ultimate questions are fascinating to consider. They push researchers in completely different directions compared with proximate questions. The answers to ultimate questions are also often wildly unexpected.
This is what the book delivers answers to the ultimate questions on human anatomy? Do give it a read if you get a chance?
Do you have other interesting books to recommend, please let me know in the comments below?
This might be simplistic, but a good explanation of why you should eat more fiber?
Whatever our small intestine does, it always obeys one basic rule: onward, ever onward!
This is achieved by the peristaltic reflex. The man who first discovered this mechanism did so by isolating a piece of gut and blowing air into it through a small tube and the friendly gut blew right back.
This is why many doctors recommend a high-fiber diet to encourage digestion: indigestible fiber presses against the gut wall, which becomes intrigued and presses back.
These gut gymnastics speed up the passage of food through the system and make sure the gut remains supple.
Ever since we moved our dinner out of our TV room, dinner time has been a constant source of enjoyment. Sometimes kids tell their stories and sometimes I tell them stories that I have read from the recent books I have been reading.
Last month told an interesting story to kids from the Book Elemental by Tim James. I was hoping to post it here on this blog but my Son beat me to it. He likes these stories and wastes no time in sharing them if they are interesting on his blog. Do read this. You will love the story.
Its a story of a late seventh-century German experimenter named Henning Brandt who proved everyday substances had elements locked inside them and most of the stuff we thought pure was not so.
Thermodynamics was my favourite subject when I was in college. The subject felt close to something I can relate to. I did not know why I like it better than others, I liked fluid dynamics too but thermodynamics was always my top one. Reading the book Einsteins Fridge did rekindled that love of that subject.
Here’s a quote from the book.
At its heart are three concepts energy, entropy, and temperature. Without an understanding of these and the laws they obey, all science physics, chemistry, and biology would be incoherent. The laws of thermodynamics govern everything from the behavior of atoms to that of living cells, from the engines that power our world to the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
Thermodynamics explains why we must eat and breathe, how the lights come on, and how the universe will end.
Johannes Gensfleisch was a German inventor, printer, publisher, and goldsmith who introduced printing to Europe with his mechanical movable-type printing press. His work started the Printing Revolution in Europe and is regarded as a milestone of the second millennium.
Here’s a story from the book From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future Hardcover by Tom Wheeler on what he might have felt after inventing the movable type and how it would be Guternber day.
It is worthwhile pausing at this point to savor Gutenberg’s success.
Imagine the exultation and celebration that must have gripped Johannes Gutenberg as his first printed book was bound!
More than a decade in development, Gutenberg’s understanding that a page of information was the sum of its parts had required a “secret art” to both discover a revolutionary new process and find the means of adjusting a seemingly endless number of variables into harmonious production.
Now it was done. Success had been achieved in twenty-eight pages of Latin grammar instruction.
The Western world had never before seen the rapid production of hundreds of perfect-quality pages, each one identical to the others. It was a moment to be savored, a decade-long quest with a transformative result.
Unfortunately, the exultation would be short-lived.
Other mass-market documents flowed from Gutenberg’s printing shop. The earliest dated work was a papal indulgence of 1454. Having spent more than a decade perfecting his technique, however, Gutenberg, it would appear, was not satisfied with such run-of-the-mill products. He wanted a monument. Today we call that monument the Gutenberg Bible.
It would be his downfall.
The Gutenberg Bible, Tim Hartford says in his book called Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure., was a failure. It’s a pretty strange example of failure since it was the first book printed with movable type which started 500 years of mass communication. What we do now is pretty much the result of Gutenberg bible.
Believe it or not, the Gutenberg Bible was a total flop for Johannes Gutenberg, the father of the printing press. He went bankrupt trying to make money printing this book. Just like with any new technology, it was very expensive to print books. It was actually so expensive that you might as well hand write them rather then print them. The business model which eventually worked out a bit after Gutenberg’s time was printing leaflets for the church. These early leaflets for the church kept the early printing industry afloat.
This is part 2 of the book read post. If you haven’t read the previous part, read here.
A friend of mine once suggested, a line or two of context on the books rather than just giving the names of the book, hence posted last year’s list this way.
So here’s the rest of the book list.
The Dhandho investors by Monish Parai. In my local area, most of the shops from chemist to hardware sales are mainly run by Rajasthan’s and Gujratis. Dhandho means business in Gujrati. This book marries the attitude of these business men and how their thinking style can be used for equity investing.
The invention of Air by Stephen T johnson. I like books by Stephen T Johnson, so wanted to read this one for a long time. Finally got it on my kindle and was not disappointed. This is a book on life of Joseph Pristley and the discovery of Oxygen. Not the best book from Stephen but worth a read.
The Clever Guts Diet by Michael Mosely Not as good as the book written by Guilia Enders’s book Gut, but this book talks more about the food and recipes. I specially liked the initial bits than the specific recipes
The Unusual Billionaire by Saurabh Mukherjee. My first book by the author and loved the thesis and research he presented in the stories of the business and their founders. Liked the way it was presented. Lot of graphs and data points which will satisfy the inner analyst in any reader.
Noise by Sunstein Cass R. I had high expectations from this book but after the initial chapters the book was a chore to read. Mostly peppered with US centric examples, the book soon lost its plot for me. A good read for the big concepts it presented.
An Arranged murder by Chetan Bhagat A simple murder mystery. I like the simple writing style of the author. Not his best but definitely something that can be read once.
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates I did not want to read this as I thought I knew what is coming but I was surprised. The book is one the best book I have read this year. Not because of the topic but because of the way of thinking that the book encouraged. Definitely picked up few tips and applying them to my own investing journey.
Exercised: The science of Physical activity, Rest and Health by Daniel Lieberman Loved this book. Takes the reader to a journey. Is sitting good? How much exercise is enough? etc. All questions answered and explored as Daniel Lieberman takes the reader on this discovery.
The Last Human by Lee Bacon. Read this after the glowing review from kids. A good and well written story. Check my post about it here.
Einstein’s Fridge by Paul Sen Thermodynamics was my favorite subject while studying engineering. Never thought I will encounter it in this book. Pleasantly surprised and absolutely loved this book. Another one I can’t recommend enough.
Positioning by Al Rise and Jack Trout. A classic recommended by many. Loved this. Before reading I thought I would have heard the ideas but I was wrong. A good book on positioning and loved each page of it.
Coffee Can Investing by Saurabh Mukherjee and Pranab Uniyal. I encountered this term in his book on the unusual billionaires so thought of reading this book. Yes a good book but I like his other books better. The book for me came out as a prescriptive, which was off-putting.
Numbers Don’t Lie by Vaclav Smith. If you have to read one book by the author let it be this. He has written a lot of books which are still in my to-read list. This particular books in on the range of topics and presents a picture of the world through numbers and how they are not usually what we think they are.
The President’s Daughter by Bill Clinton and James Patterson Have read the previous book by Bill Clinton, liked it. So picked this up. Was not disappointed. Not bad for one time read.
Skin in the game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A yearly ritual in book reading is that I re-read one of Taleb’s book. So picked this up during the fag end of the year. Again the re-read was as usual much more insightful than the previous reads.
The Biography of a Failed Venture by Prashant Desai. My last read of the year. This was about an Indian entrepreneur’s failed attempt to start a business. Liked the way the book was written and got a lot of insights on how business work particularly in India.
So one quick question, which book are you interested in reading from this list?
Like most people, due to pandemic, due to working from home, I have worked from various different places last year.
My most reading used to happen during office commute, so reading time was already down. And this movement from one place to another reduced this further. This reflects in the number of books I have read.
Here’s the rundown of the books I liked and read through in 2021.
Gut by Giulia Enders. My 3rd book on the subject and by far the most interesting and something that I have enjoyed and learnt a lot. Have wrote a fewposts regarding this book last year. A tale of the most underrated organ of the body.
Why we Eat (too much) by Andrew Jenkinson. Written by a doctor, this has surprisingly good insights. Have added a few of this book’s insights to my life. Good to see how eating habits, the structure of cells and environments all come together.
The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life by Alice Christie. This book was long pending. Did not want to start as I thought I already know a lot about Warren Buffet. But boy I was wrong. A good portrait of the oracle of Omaha. Must read for anyone interested in investing and in life lessons. Have posted a few insights from the book here in this blog post.
The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie. One of the things I miss about the UK is the TV shows portraying Agatha Cristie’s detectives. Picked this book to reminisce about the old days. This book has 13 simple mysteries. I loved most of them. Does anyone know of a contemporary author who writes in this genre?
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mackeown Started reading this after a blog post. Simple idea but the author took a long time harping on this. A simple idea beat to death by repetition. Also, there’s a slant of marketing in the book which was offputting.
How long is a piece of String by Rob Eastaway It’s a book on maths. Marrying common sense with mathematics and tying all this through very common examples from daily life. I will reread this again.
Upstream by Dan Heath. This was my first and only audiobook this year. We tend to downplay the preventive measures and this book shows why we shouldn’t. Lots of good stories and a lot of insights. Nudged by this book, I solved a few long-standing minor annoyances of daily life.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Re-read this book. I recommended this book in one of the office daily standups and went ahead re-reading it. A highly recommended book.
From Gutenberg to Google by Tom Wheeler A book on the spread of communication systems. I loved this book. The history buff in me was satisfied in reading how people were reacting to new tech. Found many parallels to how the current techs like crypto/AI/ML and how we are reacting to it. Tie it with this post Machine Learning – Thou aimest high
How to Decide by Annie Duke. Disappointed. Annie Duke’s last book thinking in bet was way way better. This one was like a sermon.
7 Mistakes every investor makes by Joachim Klement. A good read. Learnt a few new things and reinforced a few old concepts. This is the time I decided I will read one investment-related book a month.
Never split the difference by Chris Voss. I had this book with me for 2 years now but never felt any desire to pick this up until this year. But boy I was surprised. A good book on negotiations and human behaviour in general. Kept me thinking. I will re-read it again.
A world without email by Cal Newport A good read. Much before reading this had implemented a system for kids to study using the nudge from the book upstream. This is a book I will revisit again.
A Triump of Genius by Ronald K Fierstein A long book on the life of Edwin land and Polaroid. An inside view on how the legal system for industrial disputes between Kodak and Polaroid played out. A good read to see how companies react when disruptions happen. Very relevant for the current times.
I think this is enough for now. More in the next post.
Recently reread the book The Gene By Siddhartha Mukherjee. It’s an extremely well-researched book. Dotted with the right amount of details and stories about so many characters who are part of humanity’s discovery of genes.
Here’s a beginning extract for the flavor of the book
Darwin could almost see the process unfolding on the salty bays of Punta Alta or on the islands of the Galápagos, as if an eons-long film were running on fast-forward, a millennium compressed to a minute. Flocks of finches fed on fruit until their population exploded. A bleak season came upon the island—a rotting monsoon or a parched summer —and fruit supplies dwindled drastically. Somewhere in the vast flock, a variant was born with a grotesque beak capable of cracking seeds. As famine raged through the finch world, this gross-beaked variant survived by feeding on hard seeds. It reproduced, and a new species of finch began to appear. The freak became the norm. As new Malthusian limits were imposed—diseases, famines, parasites—new breeds gained a stronghold, and the population shifted again. Freaks became norms, and norms became extinct. Monster by monster, evolution advanced.
Read somewhere that books are paper-ships that take you on a journey. This book definitely does that. Highly recommend.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari is one of those book that doesn’t have sometime new. But the stories it weaves, the way it’s written brushes off the dust and lets us see the old as new. They tell the best stories. This is one of my top recommended books and recent re-read just strengthens the recommendation.
Why did people make such a fateful miscalculation? For the same reason that people throughout history have miscalculated. People were unable to fathom the full consequences of their decisions. Whenever they decided to do a bit of extra work say, “to sow the fields instead of scattering seeds on the surface ” people thought, “Yes, we will have to work harder. But the harvest will be so bountiful! We won’t have to worry any more about lean years. Our children will never go to sleep hungry.”
It made sense. If you worked harder, you would have a better life. That was the plan. The first part of the plan went smoothly. People indeed worked harder. But people did not foresee that the number of children would increase, meaning that the extra wheat would have to be shared between more children. Neither did the early farmers understand that feeding children with more porridge and less breast milk would weaken their immune system, and that permanent settlements would be hotbeds for infectious diseases. They did not foresee that by increasing their dependence on a single source of food, they were actually exposing themselves even more to the depredations of drought. Nor did the farmers foresee that in good years their bulging granaries would tempt thieves and enemies, compelling them to start building walls and do in-guard duty.
The pursuit of an easier life resulted in much hardship, and not for the last time. It happens to us today. How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.