books, economics, education, ethics, government, happiness, human rights, philosophy

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I really enjoyed these 3 books by Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari.

Like Bill Bryson, he can make academic subjects interesting and lively

Critics call it sensationalist infotainment.

He is a simplifier. I like his frequent analogies to well known references.

There are endless interesting factoids.

Critics complain he gets some facts wrong by over-simplifying.

In Sapiens he postulates that humans now rule the earth because of our ability to organize and coordinate in large numbers.

Bees, ants and other species cooperates even better, but they are too inflexible to evolve. And have comparatively small numbers.

We are the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in our imagination, such as gods, states, money, human rights, corporations and other fictions, and we have developed a unique ability to use these stories to unify and organize groups and ensure cooperation.

TED

He feels humans will continue to evolve, likely into some computer / human hybrid.

Click PLAY or watch his TED Talk on the topic on YouTube. (17min)

books, ethics, government, happiness, human rights, Islam, philosophy

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Harari

Having dealt with the distant past in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011) and with the distant future in Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), Harari turns in 21 Lessons his attention to the present.

I really enjoyed this book. Harari is a BIG PICTURE guy who quickly puts things into perspective.

His chapter on God is excellent, for example.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)by Yuval Noah Harari … attempts to untangle the technological, political, social, and existential quandaries that humankind faces. …

In The New York TimesBill Gates calls the book “fascinating” and his author “such a stimulating writer that even when I disagreed, I wanted to keep reading and thinking.” For Gates, Harari “has teed up a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the 21st century.”


related 2020 interview:

Yuval Harari: This is the worst epidemic in ‘at least 100 years’

philosophy, TV

The Good Place – season 1

I heard so much buzz about The Good Place that I finally watched season 1.

It’s pretty good.

The series focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to “the Good Place”, a highly selective Heaven-like utopia he designed, as a reward for her righteous life.

However, she realizes that she was sent there by mistake and must hide her morally imperfect behavior while trying to become a better and more ethical person. …

… the show’s exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy have been positively received …

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

ethics, health & fitness, philosophy

living off-grid for $80 / week

Jill Redwood lives in East Gippsland, Australia where she built her house almost 30 years ago.

She prefers to be really self-sufficient, having an orchard, a garden with vegetables and an animal farm which provide almost everything she needs on a daily basis, without having to frequently drive one hour and a half to the nearest town.

Moreover, with regard to energy and water supply, she uses solar panels and a waterwheel.

Living entirely off-grid, on around $80 a week and surrounded only be animals, Jill happily says: „what more do I need?”…

Good Home Design

Click PLAY or watch it on Vimeo.

books, economics, happiness, health & fitness, philosophy, travel

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

I’m not much into self-help books.

But many people I admire follow Tim Ferriss. I finally got around to starting his classic book …

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich 

The evangelizing rah-rah turns me off … as does the focus on money while claiming not to care about money.

On the other hand, Ferriss does have some very good ideas. For example:

  • take more and longer vacations while young enough to enjoy them
  • work from inexpensive foreign nations, if you can, while earning hard currency
  • focus on strengths, instead of trying to fix weaknesses
  • Rid Yourself of Material Possessions
  • Sometimes Less Is More

Here’s my buddy Josh. He’s a digital nomad working online from a series of inexpensive nations — most recently Guatemala, Nepal and Vietnam.

related – my own philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity

books, economics, ethics, happiness, philosophy

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Needless to say, I was attracted to this book because of my own philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity.

Less is more.

Cait was quite a normal person. In debt, like normal people. Her life cluttered with possessions she never used, like normal people.

How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

When Cait Flanders was in her early 20s, she found herself $23,000 in consumer debt. In order to turn her life around — and get out of debt — she set out on a mission to address some of the root causes of her over-consumption.

Flanders’ memoir, The Year of Less, documents how through a self-imposed shopping ban, cutting back on eating out and drinking and de-cluttering her life, she rediscovered happiness, health and financial security.

In her own words, Flanders explains how she changed her life and wrote The Year of Less. …

CBC

Amazon

health & fitness, philosophy

Follow your Bliss

Joseph Campbell taught me this life principle:

“Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

For me that means DO the things I like best. Avoid the things I like least.

That includes people. I believe in Freedom of Speech. And also Freedom from Speech.

For example, if you support Trump I NEVER want to speak to you again for the rest of our lives.