What I Read This Week: 2023-17
Late, again. I’m unapologetic this time: while my “weekly” cadence is getting slower, it also gives me more time to think & curate what exactly I want to amplify here. I’m also noticing a shift in my interests from engineering to engineering management, as evidenced by the current edition. Enjoy!
The Last Time Always Happens Now (2021) by David Cain
It becomes clearer than ever, in other words, how great it was while it lasted, and how little the petty stuff mattered. On that last dinner, you can set aside minor issues with ease, and appreciate even the most mundane details. Anything else would seem foolish, because you’re here now, and this is it. It might even occur to you that there’s no reason you couldn’t have enjoyed it this much every time you dined here — except that all the other times, you knew there would be more times, so you didn’t have to be so intentional about appreciating it.
Staring into the abyss as a core life skill (2022) by Ben Kuhn
Staring into the abyss means thinking reasonably about things that are uncomfortable to contemplate, like arguments against your religious beliefs, or in favor of breaking up with your partner. It’s common to procrastinate on thinking hard about these things because it might require you to acknowledge that you were very wrong about something in the past, and perhaps wasted a bunch of time based on that (e.g. dating the wrong person or praying to the wrong god).
Growing Independence (2020) by Jeff Kaufman
People start out dependent on their parents for food, changing, contact, motion, and even sleep timing. Typically they end up as adults, no longer dependent on their parents at all. Part of my approach to parenting has been that I want to let my kids be as independent as possible, as early as possible.
A forty-year career. (2019) by Will Larson
My father retired a few years ago, having worked as a professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville for the significant majority of his adult life. Since then I’ve spent more time than expected reflecting on his retirement and his preceding career. In particular, reflecting on the idea that my career is something I can deliberately develop over a forty year horizon. Not four IPOs, not fourteen two-year stints, but forty years.
Being Is All Maintenance (2007) by Kevin Kelly
I’ve been surprised at how much time I spend on keeping seemingly solid things – like a showerhead – going. Why would a showerhead stop working after years of working well, and no injury or disturbance on our part? Well, matter decays, and the once new inevitably falters. And when one trips, the other stuff around start to stumble. The more our household becomes an ecology of devices, all somewhat dependent on each other, the more time they require for keeping them healthy. I feel as if I am a vet for gear.
Chesterton’s Fence: A Lesson in Second Order Thinking by Shane Parrish
A core component of making great decisions is understanding the rationale behind previous decisions. If we don’t understand how we got “here,” we run the risk of making things much worse.
Why Take a Compiler Course? (2010) by John Regehr
Compiling Techniques (INFR10065) was my favourite course, ever.
Staring into the abyss, as Ben wrote and I shared above, not only a core skill in life but also in engineering: from building processors (INFR08018) to writing your own networking stack (INFR10074), leave no room for “magic”.