I think for a lot of people, being holed up inside during a catastrophic global pandemic is a great opportunity for reflection on life choices. But the timing is truly particular for me, since this year — in just a few weeks actually — I would have been most likely graduating Harvard with a PhD in Public Policy (virtually graduating, at least).
I did one year of my PhD before dropping out before the start of my second-year classes. It was a harsh year back in 2014-2015, with the polar vortex over New England leading to record avalanches of snow in Cambridge. Walking along Brattle Street and Harvard Square, it wasn’t uncommon to walk through snow tunnels cut through the massive white piles. The winds were
Hello it’s Danny Crichton again. I last sent out an email to my personal newsletter list on December 30th — a lot has changed hasn’t it? This is your weekly-but-really-comes-quarterly email from me about what I have been thinking and writing about.
Hopefully you all remember signing up (it’s double opt-in to avoid spam), but if not, feel free to unsubscribe in the email footer below (I won’t be offended). As always, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
So how are we doing?
Hopefully, all of you are fine. I am doing well, and very thankful to be at a workplace like TechCrunch that has been working-from-home for the better part of a decade. We are hunkered down
Okay, so I have written up the best articles I read and the best books I have read. Now time for even more narcissism, with a list of the best articles I wrote this year. In all, I wrote 191 articles this year across TechCrunch, this blog, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t remember writing like 170 of them, but such is my memory.
Every writer has that story that they want everyone to know about, but everyone ignores them, and so they just scream to the sky and complain about how terrible the world is in not seeing what’s right in front of them.
This year, I read 40 books, which included 11 novels and 29 non-fiction books. I am currently reading Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell, and that will likely be the last book I read for the year.
Looking over the reading list for this past year, I have to admit that there just aren’t that many great books to recommend. Most of the books I read were “award-winners” or highly recommended either on ‘best of’ lists or from friends, so there was already a winnowing selection process happening in the books I chose to read (i.e. I didn’t go to the bookstore and pick up random copies of things). But as I step back a bit this Christmas and look over
This year according to Pocket, I read just above 3 million words on their platform across 1,640 articles from about 370 publications. While journalism can often get a bad rap from certain folks in the day-to-day scrum of beat news and process journalism, the reality is that when the final pieces get written, the bar remains so impossibly high.
As I did in last year’s edition, I went through the full list of articles I read to select a top five (up form three!), a selection of others that I consider to be “the best of this year’s writing,” a list of articles on China, and a list of the best profile pieces written on interesting figures. Yes, that’s a lot
A little more than three years ago, I wrote a post called I Quit: 2+ Years of Anki and the (Near) Impossibility of Learning Languages, discussing my travails in using flash cards to learn foreign languages. That post remains this website’s most popular by traffic, elicited extensive discussion in the comments, and also still triggers regular emails from readers asking questions about it.
But the reality is that I didn’t quit (although I did take a break), and I think I have finally managed to get Anki to work well for me. But that required understanding more about how I learn languages as well as customizing certain patterns of Anki for use with Korean, which has its own unique characteristics as a language.
If most history is designed to zoom into the characters and events of a moment or trend in the historical record, The Lessons of History (published by Simon & Schuster) does just about the opposite.
A classic first published in 1968, the book is an act of pure reduction. The authors, Will & Ariel Durant, had previously spent decades compiling a multi-volume history of the world, and with this book, they created a summary of their life’s work in just about 100 pages organized around a couple of topical areas like war, government, and socialism. As the two write in a short introduction: “It is a precarious enterprise, and only a fool would try to compress a hundred centuries into a hundred pages of
I read two history books these past few weeks that offered an interesting juxtaposition on the craft and the rise of China. The first was Stephen R. Platt’s Imperial Twilight, which is a sweeping panorama of the times before and during Britain’s First Opium War with Qing-era China. I owe you a review on that one, but I have to say it is an incredibly impressive piece of work, even more so given the book’s propitious timing in the midst of a new trade war between Western powers and China.