Thoughts on: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge

I don’t think much about race, why would I? Im a white man. I’m the norm. Have you ever played a video game with a character selection screen? I’m the default character.

The book was an emotional rollercoaster of self-reflection. It left my head spinning and I realized how little time I’ve spent contemplating the question of race.


📝 “How can I define white privilege? It’s so difficult to describe an absence. And white privilege is an absence of the consequences of racism.”…“Absence of structural discrimination. Absence of ‘less likely to succeed because of my race’.”

📝 Reflection: I get suspicious when Twitterstorms are used to prove a point in books. Twitter is usually not a good representation of society as a whole.

📝 Reflection: Dividing people into groups has a purpose, I guess, especially when you want to highlight problems like structural racism. But where does it end? Reni talks about white feminists vs. black feminists vs mixed feminist etc etc. If the goal is to unite, then why this obsession with division?

📝 Reflection: What about evolutionary psychology? “Us” vs. “Them”-dichotomies has existed for millions of years. And we tend to like people who are like us. Evolutionary it makes sense; Similar individuals are more likely to share copies of each other’s genes. It would be interesting see this perspective in a book like this one. But then maybe I should look for books written by professors rather than journalists.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

My main takeaways was to learning more about what Eddo-Lodge calls “white privilege”, and also getting a rather overdue reminder that structural racism is still going strong today.


⚖️ VERDICT:

I didn’t enjoy the book; maybe it was the angry tone, the stereotyping or what felt like generalizations (or maybe it’s my ‘whiteness’ that put me in a defensive mode). It left me with a lot to think about. I appreciate that. The book is at its best when it catches you off-guard and challenge your assumptions and beliefs!


3/5

What book challenged you recently?

Check out my Reading Lists for more great books!

Thoughts on: ‘Richard Nixon: A Life’ John A. Farrell

Some reading projects are more ambitious than others. On my journey to reading a biography of every American president the time has come for Nixon (I’m on 3 of 45).

This is an excellent biography of a powerful, yet insecure and anxious man, in period of great turmoil historical. Corruption and paranoia; this dense biography really has it all.

Todays notes highlights attitudes have changed since the Nixon days (or have they?! 😉)


📝 Abortion: Abortion encourage permissiveness, Nixon thought, but, “there are times when abortions are necessary…” “..you know, between a black and a white.” he told Colson.

“Or rape.” Colson said.

“Or rape..”, Nixon said, “..you know what I mean.”

📝 Nixon had theories of black inferiority and black prospects: “Most of them are basically out of the threes. I have the greatest affection for them but I know they won’t make it for next 500 years.”

📝 Stress and Self medication: “In the evening, if I have 2-3 drinks I feel good. Do you think that should be knocked off or reduced?” Nixon said to his doctor. Alcohol is a great stress reducer. I have tried it myself haha 😂

📝 “You know one of the reasons fashion has made women look so terrible is that the god damn designers hate women.” Nixon theorized, “Though now they are trying to get some more sexy things going again.”

“Hot pants.” Erlichman added.

“Jesus Christ.” Said Nixon.


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I can see where the American publics distrust of government comes from. What a mess this period was! Watergate, the Pentagon papers and projects Moongoose 🤦‍♂️

My next president will probably be Kennedy or Lincoln.


Do you have any ambition reading projects?

Score: 4/5

For more fantastic reads make sure to check out my Reading Lists!

Book Notes on Aging and Dying

Nothing last forever. Here are a few great notes on aging from my reading the last couple of years. Memento Mori.


📝 “By becoming deeply aware of our mortality, we intensify our experience of every aspect of life.” – Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature

📝 “No one set value on time. All use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But see how these same people clasp to the knees of physicians when they fall ill and the danger of death draws nearer” – Seneca, On the Shortness of life.

📝 People have different sensitivity to caffeine. Older people are more sensitive in general.

Notes from Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker.

📝 A deadly gene could survive in the gene pool by inflicting its damage only after a person reaches an old age, where the victim already produced it’s offspring. Like Cancer.

Notes from The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins

📝 John D. Rockefeller was obsessed with his health and set a goal for himself to live until he was 100 years old. He died at 97.

Notes from Titan, Ron Chernow

📝 “Whatever the cause of the inverse association between body size and aging, it seems to be found in all mammals” Bigger animals live longer.

Notes from Mutants, Armand Marie Leroi

📝We know intellectually that we are going to die. But we don’t really feel it. We repress the affects of death to be able to function normally. – The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker


What are your favorite quote on the subject?

Notes From a Year of Reading – Addiction

I have had a few days in a row where I didn’t experience any cravings or took any addictive substances (excessive sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol etc..) It was pretty cool. I don’t think I’ve experienced something like this since I my early teens.


Quotes and Notes on drugs and addiction from my recent reading:

📝 We Habituate..

Understand: Artificial pleasures (designer food, drugs, VR porn etc..) throws our systems of the scale, making us unable to appreciate the natural. – BEHAVE by Robert Sapolsky

📝 “We mix up reality with our interpretation of reality. We invent some fundamental lies of how life should and shouldn’t be. Then we use food and drugs to temporarily escape the lie we invented.” – Radical Honesty, Brad Blanton

📝 Civilized Man: He can do what he sets out to do without chanting and drumming. Even daily prayer and divine aid is unnecessary. “His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with relentless, vague apprehension, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food-and, above all, a large array of neuroses.”

⁃ Notes from Man and His symbols, Carl Jung

📝 “Pleasure from the senses seems like nectar at first but is bitter as poison in the end.” “That which seems like poison at first, but tastes like nectar in the end – this is the joy of sattva, born of a mind at peace with itself.” – Bhagavad Gita

📝 The Amateur replaces ambition with addiction. Drugs, alcohol and other distractions; like drama, social media, porn, the news, and food. This keeps the amateur from doing the actual work required.

⁃ Notes from ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield.

📝 “You stop growing when you start drinking alcoholicly… prevents you from walking through the painful life experiences that take you from point A to point B on the maturity scale.”

– Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp


What’s your history with addiction? Emotional, physical, psychological, and/or chemical?

Thoughts on: ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ by Friedrich Nietzsche

A Birth of Tragedy in 7 Steps:

▪️Nietzsche is 24 y/o when he become professor in philology.

▪️In 1872 he writes his first great book on dramatic theory; The Birth of Tragedy.

▪️He found an art form in the classic Athenian Tragedy that transcended the nihilism and horror of a meaningless world.

▪️What he found was an opposition between Dionysian and Apollonian forces; Chaos, Intoxication, Music vs. Order, Self-control and Sculpture.

▪️The Tragedy balanced these forces and allowed the spectator to experience in fullness the human condition.

◾️The end of Tragedy came with Socrates, through Euripides, Who Nietzsche thought ruined the Dionysian/Apollonian balance in Tragedy with reason and logic.

◾️ Nietzsche found new hope in Wagners music as a way to re-establish the balance between the Dionysian and Apollonian in modern art; a possible rebirth of tragedy.


📝 Beautiful works of art compensates for the horror of existence.

📝 Aectestic Arrest: Freedom from the Will in experiencing a great work of art. The only time except Nirvana or Samadhi where man can be free from the Will. (Schopenhauer)

📝 Is dancing and shouting in a drunken madness to “Killing in the name of” a form of modern Dionysiac phenomena? 🧐🤔


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I’ve gotten through a book that is ‘out of my league’ and came out on the other side with new-found confidence in my ability to read philosophy straight from the sources.


⚖️ VERDICT:

I got a lot value from this book, both as an introduction to Nietzsche, and to the concept Dionysian/Apollonian opposition. But If you’re unsure if you could stand 129 pages of analysis of Ancient Greek theatre and art theory then you think you should pass on this one.

4/5

Share some philosophy book recommendations on the comments! ‼️

Check out my Reading Lists for more amazing books!

Thoughts on: ‘Grinding it Out’ by Ray Croc

Ray Croc was a 52 year when he first met the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, California. He was impressed with the operation they got going; and the French fries in particular. Ray had seen his fair share of restaurants in his days as a multimixer salesman, but this one was special. The limited menu, the affordable prices, the cleanliness. It was love! ❤️

Ray wondered why the brothers didn’t expand their concept, but the McDonald brothers where not men of such ambition. So Ray took on the expansion himself—and the rest is history.


📝 Ray Croc biggest contribution was the McDonalds franchise system.

📝 “Persistence and determination alone is omnipotent.”

📝 Surprisingly little drama. I feel the rise of McDonald’s has been a pretty smooth ride compared to other business stories I’ve read.

📝 They started to build restaurants after what they called a “monotony index”. The higher the degree of monotony in a town the higher the likelihood that a McDonald’s Restaurants success. Why? Less alternatives to spending the evening at the MD.

🍟 My best combo at the Golden Arches these days is to get a Spring Sallad and a McVegan burger. Wicked combo! 👌🏻

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Ray didn’t see his ideas as a grand designs but worked ‘from the part to the whole’. Perfecting every fundamental before moving on to the large scale idea. I wonder if this mindset could be helpful for those of us who are in the process of building Instagram accounts? Would it be beneficial to focus on perfecting one element at the time; pictures, captions, hashtags, timings etc..?


I’m thankful for this little memoir of the first 40 years of McDonald. Love it or hate it, MD is a company we have a some kind of relationship with.

3/5

What your favorite business memoir? 🤔

I think mine are ‘Shoe Dog’ and maybe..’Jack Ma’?!

Photo: @pedagogyofthefresh

Check out Reading Lists for more great reads!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 4) – The Far East

My longest book to date has reached its end, and this is just the 1st volume (out of 11) in the The Story of Civilization series by Will Durant. This last part focused on ancient China and Japan.

Was it worth it? We are talking about a 50 hour audiobook. Yes, I think so! Does the #sunkcostfallacy play a role in this answer? It probably does! I’ve suffered through a lot of dry talk about pottery and poetry to reach this point.


📝 The feet of girls at age 7 where compressed with tight bandages to prevent their further growth, so that the mature lady might walk with a mincing step erotically pleasing to the men.

In the prescence of a lady the word shoe was taboo.🦶 👠

📝 To know the ‘Dao’ is to surpress ones knowledge. “We have to forget our theories and feel the facts.”

📝 Confucianism: “Only in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.”

📝 Chinese civilization in 2 words: Philosophy and Porcelain.

📝 “Beards where small and always shaved, but seldom of the owner thereof.” oh, I cannot but LOVE Will Durants prose and elegant summaries of the smallest aspects of civilization. 😂

📝 Chinese writing: “The same character is read as different sounds and words in different localities.” I remember seeing Chinese and Japanese students, who where unable to communicate verbally, communicate through written messages when I studied in Japan. 🤯

📝 When the revolution raged they forgot the old sages words. “He who thinks the old embankments useless and destroys them is sure to suffer from the desolation caused by overflowing water.”


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

“The accumulation of wealth in the hands of the minority is no doubt a universal and apparently unfailing concomitant of civilization.” We see this play out over and over again.

I’m still green but now I at least have a slight understanding of Confucianism and rudimentary understanding of the Chinese and Japanese culture and history.

3/5

Which books is the longest book you read? 🤔

Check out my READING LISTS for more great reads!

Thoughts on: Educated by Tara Westover

A memoir. Likely one of the best I’ve read.

——

Tara grew up in a pious Mormon family lead by a survivalist father with a fondness for conspiracy theories. His plan was to be fully self-reliant and “off the grid” before the End of Days, an event he was sure to be imminent.

Tara’s story about finding her independence is a powerful one; a narrative so well-crafted I had a hard time putting it down even for my most basic maslowian needs.


📝 Her mother was trained to be a midwife. The idea was that she would deliver the grandchildren ones the family was “off the grid”.

📝 The Protocols on the Elders of Zion: A fabricated document, from 1903, of a secret meeting of powerful Jews planing world domination. Discredited, but it still spread anti-semitism and fueled conspiracy theorists for decades to come.

📝 She read Mormon doctrine in mimicry of a brother that left her for school. “In retrospect I can see that this was my education. The one that would matter.” “The skill I was learning was a crucial one; the patience to read things I could not yet understand.”

📝 Mother was a herbalist and energy worker: “Mother was marketing her product as a spiritual alternative to Obama Care.” Made bank! 💰


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

It is fascinating how the object of concern for the conspiracy theorist change over time as each prophecy fail to deliver the end of days. When Y2K didn’t happened Taras father lost hope for a while, then the events of 9/11 filled that vacuum.


⚖️ VERDICT:

Now we run into trouble. What are we scoring here?! Our goal is to educate ourself about the human condition and learn how to live well in spite of it. The rating system gives and indication on how well a book meets that goal.

For our learning purposes it’s a good book (3). As a “beach book” it’s excellent! (4 or a 5). Pick it up during summer break (if you have the privilege to have one) then get back to your studies! 😉👨‍🎓👩‍🎓


3/5


⁉️ QUESTON:

Are there any books on the psychology of conspiracy theorists? AND What’s your thoughts on vaccines, Illuminati, Rothchilds, Aliens and government brainwashing? 🤔

Photo credit: @thebookunicorns

For more mind boggling read check out my Reading Lists.

Thoughts on: Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson

A book about hope. About our desperate chase for it. How easily it’s lost and what happens when we don’t have it; How to instill it, and how to overcome it.


📝 “Today appealing to the hopeless is easier than ever before. All you need is a social media account. Start to posting extreme and crazy shit and let the algorithm do the rest.”

📝 Intellectually understanding that we should change a behavior doesn’t help. “Emotional problems needs emotional solutions”. Being more empathetic to myself really helped me quit nicotine.

📝 “While pain is inevitable, suffering is always a choice.”

📝 “Science is singularly responsible for all the greatest invention and advances in human history.” It introduced the concept of growth. Before that the average human died in the same economic state she was born.

📝 Blue dot effect 🔵:

If we expect to see something, we start to see it even where there is none. This has terrible implications for almost everything.

“The better things get, the more we perceive threats where there are none and the more upset we become.” Being a victim of violence used to mean that someone physically harmed someone. Today some use the word violence to describe words that make them feel uncomfortable.

📝 In the lunchroom at the department store where I worked as a teen everyone would discuss shows that aired the night before on TV. We all watched the same tv-shows and sat on the same sofas. Social cohesion held the western societies together. Then the Internet came with endless options and varieties! Maybe we miss the old days?

(ps. Is this why people love Game of Thrones? Because it’s the last shared distraction we have?).

📝 “Most people avoid meditation like a kid avoiding homework.”


⚖️ VERDICT:

Unstructured, oversimplified and a thin overarching theme? Yes, at times. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and it opened my eyes to subjects and problems that deserve a closer look further down the road of my literary journey.

4/5


“…the only thing that can ever truly destroy a dream is to have it come true.” Have this happened to you? 🤔

Photocredit: @chandradyani_

For more excellent books, check out my Reading Lists.

How to Nietzsche?

“The struggle of maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play.” – Friedrich Nietzsche


Every time Nietzsche is referenced in books I pay extra attention because I know it’s likely that something utterly profound and insightful is being offered.

He intrigues me, but I’m pretty much oblivious about his work and life.

Where and how do I get started on studying Nietzsche? What your relationship to this man and his work? 🤔

I need your help here! 🙂