Sam Harris’ Waking Up Podcast: The Edge of Humanity with Yuval Harari

This was one of the best interviews I’ve ever heard. They cover the history and future of humanity, and the current transition between two different kinds of cultural conflict. In the past, humans fought oppressive tyrants who exploited them. In the future, humans face the new prospect of being completely irrelevant, while the tyrants saunter on as though nothing has changed.

Billionaires+AI are the new ruling aristocracy, further than ever from the reach of the average person. What can we do about it? What does it mean for democracy? What does a realistic future look like and how do we get there?

Check it out for yourself!

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

I read this book as part of a LGBT studies class at Sierra College for my degree in Social Justice. It’s a great read and eponymously covers the history of an important marginalized group in America; transgender people.

As always, I am happy to share the audiobook with any friends who want a copy.

This book is an excellent introduction to many of the concepts and terms related to the history of transgender issues in America. There is a big focus on intersectionality and the related history of the women’s movements and the LGBT movement.

One thing I especially liked is the way she compares gender and sexual orientation to language. Humans are definitely wired to have language, but we are not wired with a particular language. Likewise, we are wired for sex, orientation, and gender, but not for a specific sex, orientation, or gender.

Rules For Radicals by Saul Alinsky

This was a great book. I think it pairs naturally with Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People,  Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, and his other book, The Art of Seduction.

Hillary Clinton famously wrote her dissertation about the work of Saul Alinsky, inventor of community organizing. Obama famously made this his career before politics. This book is Alinsky’s magnum opus. There are lots of great and timeless examples for organizers who want to be effective at making change happen. The book boils down to this simple list of rules;

  1. “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”
  2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.”
  3. “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.”
  4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”
  5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
  6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”
  7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
  8. “Keep the pressure on.”
  9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
  10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”
  11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside”
  12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”
  13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book came highly recommended by my mom. She said she has read it dozens of times. After her many suggestions, I decided to give it a go.
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert, 2007

It’s basically a rich white lady’s midlife crisis. She embarks on a journey in order to deal with her emotional issues after a divorce. Along the way, she learns to practice several very interesting meditation styles while in  India. These include Kundalini and Vipassana as well as other meditative practices like group chanting, mantra, and other group meditation styles. I have been a practitioner of Kundalini for nearly two decades and I’ve always viewed it as very esoteric, so it’s cool to see popular culture talking about it like this.

She later goes to Bali and studies several very different and more simple styles such as just sitting and smiling, which according to the Indonesian medicine man will bring good energy in and push bad energy out.

The book gets pretty metaphysical, in a good way. She compares and contrasts important concepts such as divinity and non-self through the lenses of India and Indonesia.

All in all, it’s a good book and an interesting read. I will probably recommend it to people who are looking to get into more advanced meditation practices. It is a great primer on several really good traditions.

Broken Angels by Richard K Morgan

Broken Angels is a worthy successor to Altered Carbon. The only common factor is the story’s subject; Takeshi Kovacs. We find him on a new world with new people around him at the center of an entirely new conflict. It does a good job of escalating the story in an artful way.

Broken Angels

If you liked the first season of the show or the first book, then I’d recommend this wholeheartedly.  It has the same gritty cyberpunk feel but it’s a completely different story. You could go straight from the first season to this book. Just like with Game of Thrones, the first season follows the first book. There are some big differences but none of them have to do with this second book. It stands pretty much on its own. I like that in a sequel.

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

I started this series by watching the first season of the TV show on Netflix. This was a really really great show which I can’t recommend highly enough.

Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan

As expected, the book is a much larger and richer story. Like many books adapted to TV shows, many characters have been combined or simplified in the show. The book offers a much clearer and more understandable universe versus the show.

I am a huge and a discerning fan of cyberpunk. This is probably the best recent cyberpunk genre literature I’ve found in a long time. The book is great, the show is great. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

There are two more books in the series which I can’t wait to finish! The author has hinted that he may decide to write additional books. I hope he does! Next up is Broken Angels.

❤️ Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This was another amazing book by Neil Gaiman! 10/10. I only wish it was longer. There are so many other Norse myths which I would have loved to have heard him retell.

The audiobook in particular was great. It is read by the author and unabridged. He has the voice of an angel. I have already gone back several times and listened to stories as I fall asleep.

This is one book I will revisit over and over again.

❤️ American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is one of the few books I’ve read which I can confidently say I loved completely. I never felt like the author made any mistakes throughout the story, and I am usually a very critical reader.

This story is a great read for anybody who is interested in mythology or Americana, but especially for sci-fi fans. Also, the new show based on it is very good, though pretty different from the book.

Next up, I am already halfway through his more recent book Norse Mythology which feels like the perfect next book to read. Stay tuned!

Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey

Persepolis rising is the seventh book in The Expanse Series. It is probably the least eventful of the series, and the most predictable. As far as Sci-Fi books go; it’s a great book. Persepolis Rising was well written and excellently orchestrated.  There are a lot of really interesting situations and arguments involving the philosophy of power dynamics and political science, kind of in the same vein as Ender’s Game.

That said, everything in the book is sort of the next steps from the previous books. There are no major plot twists or unexpected turns. Everything happens exactly how you expect it to.

Persepolis Rising

I will freely admit that my expectations for this book were unrealistic, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. There wasn’t really anything new. All the same bad guys are still around. Lots of things went unresolved, like where is Phillip? How old must Avasarala be now? Bobbie Draper who is now an old lady, was just out of her teens calling Avasarala a grandma in previous books.

I still recommend reading this incredible series, but I was hoping for more from this latest installment.

It reminds me of the way the last Harry Potter movie was split into two parts, and how incomplete and underwhelming the first half seemed.  I came to the end of this story asking myself where the rest of it was.

Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov

This is the last book in The Foundation Series, chronologically. There are two more books by date of publication which are prequels to the series.

This book made me sad. It felt gratuitous and contrived. I don’t think his heart was in it, though after reading this entire enormous series, the last paragraph of this book was SO worth it. What an ending. I will never stop thinking about it for that reason.

This book picks up at the exact second the previous book leaves off. The explorers head out to find earth. They encounter very gratuitous and graphic descriptions of sex, and a rather underwhelming adventure compared to the previous books.

In the prologue, Asimov seems to say he only wrote this book because the publisher offered so much money for another Foundation book.

It does tie the many Asimov serieses together, and serves a satisfying role in that regard. But on its own, it is an unimpressive and disappointing book. :[

That said, the last page of the book is probably one of the best he ever wrote. It leaves you asking a million questions which you know will never be answered. I feel like this is a book which a fan or Asimov must read, but one which I don’t see myself reading again.