Single Sentence Summaries for Every Book I Read in 2022

In keeping with yearly tradition, here are my single sentence ‘summaries’ for every book I read in 2022.

Previous years versions: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018.

Rated 5/5: Sovereign Individual

Rated 4.5/5:  Hundred Year Marathon, Parasitic Mind



The world should be paying more attention to China’s “New Middle-Income Stratum” as it ponders on its social identity in coming decades.

  Free will is under attack as tech giants collect “behavioural surpluses” to fabriate “prediction products” to sell on “behavioural futures markets”.
  Our culture fills our heads with idealistic notions of what human nature should be like, rather than what it is actually like.
  Christian zealotry in the mid 1st millennium violently destroyed the classical Greco-Roman world, and the narrative of Roman Christian persecution portrayed by the Church is exaggerated.
  Hunter-gatherer societies have been self-consciously experimenting with different complex social hierarchies and political systems well before the widespread dominance of agriculture.
  As with Pax Americana, a would-be hegemon must prove its willingness to bribe and bleed to protect the interests of the members of its new Order.
  Fascism rarely makes a dramatic entrance: it typically begins with a charismatic character that claims to have satisfyingly simple answers for frustrated masses, and becomes ever so bold with each step forward.
  Beijing’s marathon strategy is largely the product of lessons derived from the Warring States period: induce complacency to avoid alerting your opponent, be patient, leverage asymmetries etc.
  The notion of the self, of “I”, is a hypothetical construct that is sustained by the emergent effects of self-referential, substrate-independent “strange loops”.
  So much political conflict ultimately comes down to seeking public recognition of one’s identity and dignity.
  Mathematical abstraction is about temporarily forgetting details in a careful and controlled way in order to explore more complicated concepts that intuitive logic alone could not possibly take us to.
  Author argues that China’s rise is harmless as its economy has always been unstable and military incapable, and that we should instead see China as an opportunity that benefits the whole world.
  The antidote to idea pathogens (that cause people to censor any opinions that contradicts theirs), is to practice courage to go against conformative political correctness, gather lots of evidence from different sources, and use reason rather than emotion to get to the truth.
  Addressing poverty requires a more intimate understanding of the logic of the choices of the poor, as well government intervention to create conditions for financially sustainable markets to serve them.
  Australia’s long history with labour shortages has been a key factor in shaping its institutions and national character.

Beijing’s influence in Australia is underrated.

  The failure to adapt US business models to emerging markets dominates the early history of e-commerce.

There are many parallels to draw between the decline of the Church and the decline of the nation-state (driven by changing logic of violence, power foundations shift far in advance of the actual revolutions of power etc).

  Humanity’s entanglement with consciousness-altering plants (including those used for opium, coffee, and LSD) goes way back, and it has always had a disproportionate effect on society and politics.
Rather than being defeated by human irrationality, learn to leverage it in a productive way.

Unpopular opinion: War sucks, but if it wasn’t for war societies wouldn’t have self-organized at ever increasing scales – and living in a world of more political order has been a net good for humanity (less violence per capita etc).

  The fastest way to change is to laugh at your own folly – then you can let go and quickly move on.
  Commodity traders’ firm grasp over the flow of the world’s natural resources has made them powerful political actors.


Thanks for reading about my reading. Until next year!

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Single Sentence Summaries for Every Book I Read in 2021