How much do we really know?

I have been slowly reading through Katrina by Gary Rivlin. The book, written 10 years after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, analyzes the storm’s aftermath and the process of rebuilding. The politics here are riveting, and it is both heartening and disheartening to see how a city can come together around tragedy — as well as still bitterly fight the “old fights.”

So far though, the bigger lesson to me is how much the media got wrong in the days immediately after the storm — and this is crucial — how much of that coverage later drove decision-making about what to do in the city long-term.

This in some ways is not a revelation — it is hardly surprising that some facts are wrong given how rapid the

Continue reading...

My Favorite Books of the Year 2017

It’s another year, and another year of great books. One of the goals of this year was to write more reviews of books that I have read — as you can see from the archives, that failed miserably except for a capsule blog post about Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem. I am making no promises about this next year.

That said, there were a number of great books that I read this year, and I hope more people read them as well. As I wrote about last week, I am attempting to be more deliberate with what I am reading. So there is more fiction this year, and I hope that trend continues next year.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This was the single

Continue reading...

The Problem of Books

I have two problems: one is that I read a lot of books. The other is that I buy a lot of books. Unfortunately, my credit card is more plentiful than my time these days, which means that I have an increasingly large number of books that I haven’t read yet. I even bought a separate bookcase in order to hold all of these volumes. I currently have approximately 300 books in my apartment, and about 20% of those are unread.

I read a post (which I have since lost) which said that the basic rule of books is that if you bought a book and haven’t read it within a decade, you probably should just find a way to give it away.

Continue reading...

What Happens When All Content Is Just Pee In The Pool

This tweet inspired me to write up this post:

This is an apt description of the problem of modern “content.” Journalists are now lined up next to native advertising partners. Ads often take on more signals of authority than researched pieces. We once were able to distinguish between all of this, but as we have blurred the lines, we have empowered those who want to bamboozle us (Russia?) while disempowering our most thoughtful writers and researchers.

While a lot of the focus in the media the past few months has been

Continue reading...

Why is Communication Around (Work) Promotions / Salaries So Bad?

I was having two separate conversations with my friends this week, and both were complaining about recent challenges around promotions, In both cases, their managers had assured them that a promotion was in the offing, and that it was merely “paperwork” that remained before it would be processed. In both cases, promotions were delayed for these employees, engendering cynicism in an otherwise productive relationship.

Another friend of mine recently discovered that he was being paid significantly lower than other people at the same firm with the same experience and job title. Not a small pay difference, but something on the order of 40-50% of salary. When he checked around with colleagues, it seemed that others had worked harder to negotiate better bonus structures over the

Continue reading...