Single Sentence Summaries for Every Book I Read in 2021

In keeping with tradition, here are my single sentence ‘summaries’ for every book I read in 2021.

Previous years versions: 2020. 2019, 2018.

Rated 5/5: Man’s Search for Meaning, Great Game, Righteous Mind, Destiny Disrupted.

Rated 4.5/5: Misbehaviour of Markets, Thinking in Systems, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Psychology of Money, Age of Revolution, Science, Strategy, and War, Changing World Order.


  There are subtle truths about the human psyche to be learned from narratives, even mythological and religious ones.
  Although dull on the surface, modern insurance and financial markets much better appreciated after learning about how we got here: from Fibonacci introducing the Hindu-Arabic numbering system to Europe in the 1200s, to Bernoulli’s notion of utility, and Gauss on distributions and errors in the 1700s.
  There’s a pattern in political revolutions: a moderate middle class mobilizes the masses, some of the masses become extreme, some of the original moderates split off into conservative group.
  Poverty has less to do with financiers exploiting the poor, and more to do with the lack of financial institutions (property rights, efficient credit networks, insurance etc).
  Deleveragings of a bubble become beautiful when stimulative (prining money and currency devaluation) and deflationary (austerity and defaults) levers are moved in a balanced way.
  The right half of Osterwalder’s popular BM canvas (value prop, relationships, channels, segments, rev) are about value, while the left half (value prop, activities, resources, partnerships, cost) are about efficiency.
  Intangibles, the “dark matter of investment”, are all too often neglected in valuations and in measuring progress.
  Studying the archetypical rise and fall of empires provides us an insight into broader patterns that unfold over several generations.
  It’s important to learn both versions of world history: the unfamiliar narrative based on what Muslims think happened, and the familiar narrative told by the post-industrialized Western domain.
  The structure, sequence, and features of speculative financial euphorias have always been the same.
  Understanding the by-products of domestication in animals reveals the sociological by-products in our own self-domestication of Homo sapiens.
  Nuances and assumptions underlying each economic school of thought should first be studied before making your own judgement on which make most sense.
  Despite its good intentions, the singular Euro currency undermines European integration.
  We should remain open-minded about the possibility of an advanced civilization that existed that much earlier than the established historical consensus.
  Singapore survived, emerged, and flourished from barely nothing by skillfully navigating the dynamics of domestic and international dipolicy.
  Anglo-Russian rivalry in late 19th century Central Asia was driven by mutual paranoia over their colonial territories.
  The elements of military strategy – leadership, technological innovation, speed, deception – transcend context and time.
  Most climate conversations focus on sustainable electricity generation (accounts for 27% of greenhouse gases), but a more holistic view incorporating industrial production (31%), agriculture (10%), transport (16%), heating & cooling (7%), is necessary to move forward.
  Psychedelics played a key role in Greco-Roman religious ceremonies before they were suppressed by the Roman Christians.
“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all of the suffering it entails… gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.”
  Of the forecasted megatrends, the second-order effects of population ageing in rich countries seems to most underestimated.
  Entertaining speculations on future tech never hurts, but it’s more accurate when grounded by knowledge in physics (4 fundamental forces, relativity, gauge invariance, quantum mechanics etc).
  From CAPM to Modern Portfolio Theory, Efficient Markets to Black-Scholes, financial orthodoxy is built on erroneous assumptions.
  Price your dreams, create a smart asset allocation, and know the rules before you get in the game.
  To understand what’s really going on in our world, facts must be grounded in numbers, and numbers need to be grounded in context (historical and international).

“People tend to want wealth to signal to others that they should be liked and admired… But in reality those other people often bypass admiring you, not because they don’t think wealth is admirable, but because they use your wealth as a benchmark for their own desire to be liked and admired.”

  There are ample similarities between economics and various quantum physics concepts.
  While people like to think that morality and social conventions are separate things, more recent evidence shows that this distinction is a cultural artifact.
  In war, the victor is the one who can handle the quickest rate of change (rapid Observe-Orient-Decide-Act OODA loops).
  With sedentary states have a tendency to shape society in a way to simplify the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and preventing rebellion.
  When solving problems, instead of just asking “what’s broken”, also ask “when has it worked.”
  “Very often, histories of nation-states are little more than myths that hide the seams that stich the nation to the state.”
  “When we draw structural diagrams and then write equations, we are forced to make our assumptions visible and to express them with rigor.”
  Working as a junior doctor is pretty much modern-day slavery.
  Politics and ideology interfering with science is a very dangerous thing.
  National crises, while painful, present with unique opportunities to rebuild a country and reshape national identity.
  In the early days of breakthrough technologies and world-changing companies, most could not even fathom what value they were creating.
  There is no free will, only the illusion of it.

 


Thanks for reading about my reading. Until next year!

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