A Little Timmy Coronavirus Poem, by Sam Garland

Sam Garland, also known on Reddit as /u/poem_for_your_sprog, is a hilarious internet poet. While the entire world is cooped up inside for the coronavirus pandemic, this made me laugh. As it was an internet comment, it is actually untitled. Garland has a published collection of poems here, and a compendium of reddit poetry stored here.

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The Man, by Jasper Burns

I wrote this poem on a whim after finding the Walter Lippmann quote “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” I thought it was such a beautiful sentiment that it needed to be reworded and decorated more fully. You can see the echo of this line in the second to last verse, and the general sentiment throughout this poem. I thought it especially prudent to emphasize the crassness of the iconoclast; it is often the one’s who are the roughest and most disagreeable who are able to speak unique and important thoughts.

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Poor Charlie’s Almanack

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After having heard about Charlie’s wisdom for years from various sources, I finally decided to pick up Poor Charlie’s Almanack after prompting from Shane Parrish of The Knowledge Project. Munger is indeed full of wisdom and seems to be one of the progenitors of using mental models as daily decision-making tools, which both Shane and I find immensely helpful. Charlie, for those who do not know, is Warren Buffett’s partner and quieter half at Berkshire Hathaway.

The real value in the book is in Charlie’s eleven talks, which all reside in Chapter Four. Enduring themes throughout include challenging the established wisdom, recognizing faults in psychology, using mental models to correct for them (especially the “lollapalooza” effect which he references many dozens of times), and to synthesize knowledge from different fields as a generalist rather than be pigeonholed into one way of thinking. 

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Danny Kahneman and his late partner Amos Tversky are the most important psychologists of the past several decades. Their research has exposed fallacies in human decision-making and many of the most basic assumptions of the field of economics. In short—humans are not rational beings, but instead intuitive ones with some weak control of reason at their disposal. Not only is this demonstrated in their experiments, but it can be subjectively experienced while reading the book. Throughout, Prof Kahneman will give you a couple of preference choices, you might pick them with all the logic you might muster, and he will still show you to be self-contradictory a few paragraphs later. He and Tversky brought to the fore the use of heuristics and mental models, and this has been their work of which I’ve been most appreciative.

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Algorithms to Live By

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Despite not professionally using my degree at all, I’m consistently happy for having studied Computer Science. The field is so rich in mathematical structures that underlay so many things in the world. It’s made me a better thinker in all respects. In this book, Brian Christian does a masterful job at sharing all the basics of an undergraduate CS level knowledge in terms useful for everyone. I don’t think you’ll need a CS degree to follow along, although it certainly helped with my speed of comprehension.

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