Montaigne

“Off I go, rummaging about in books for sayings which please me.” —Michel de Montaigne

Alongside Shakespeare, Montaigne has been called the world’s first modern writer. His massive, rambling Essays — a book about nothing and everything — made him famous upon its publication in 1580, and has enjoyed a wide audience among both intellectuals and the general public since. Daydreamer/political insider, skeptic/devout Catholic, Montaigne used “the discovery of self-divided consciousness” as the raw material for his writing.

Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live builds a sympathetic portrait of Montaigne that serves as both introduction to Essays and thorough look at his life and world. Highly recommended.


“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.” —Charlie Munger

The season of year-end reading lists is upon us, bringing back the existential reminder that there are far more books to read than time to read them in. Good thing I was also reminded of the reading habits of Warren Buffet and Charlier Munger: they spend the majority of their working day reading and thinking, making it through hundreds of pages a day. Priorities.

And speaking of too many books, the tales of elitism and resistance to change in this look at the rise of the paperback book are instructive, whether your interests are in the domain of design, literature or publishing.


“A man’s stomach is the reason he does not easily take himself for a God.” —Nietzsche

We are not a single organism, but a collection of colonies with complex interactions. And a lot of these complex things are happening in your gut. That tricky question of free will rears its head again. Who’s in control: “you” or the micro-organisms? Not so coincidentally, I’m this close to ordering that uBiome kit.


“It’s perfectly obvious what our impact is … I don’t need proof.”

As my understanding of the lending business grows, I’ve become increasingly skeptical of microlending. Turns out the facts agree. But if direct lending to people in the developing world was a radical idea, I’m happy to see the even more radical idea of direct giving is gaining attention. And speaking of giving away money, it’s worth pointing out that talk about basic income in Finland is just that, talk:

Correction (Dec. 8): An earlier version of this article did not explain that KELA is conducting a study to explore the possibility of a implementing a basic income program. There is no government plan to introduce a basic income for all adults at this time.


“If, as they say, I am only an ignorant man trying to be a philosopher, then that may be what a philosopher is.” —Diogenes

And here’s the best of the rest of what I found this week:

Book Smarts, Street Smarts and Stream Smarts “Though it seems an age-old debate to us, the book-smarts vs. street-smarts tribal derpfest is really a very 20th century phenomenon.”

Capital Is No Longer Scarce “…these types of financial trades are largely zero sum trades. They shuffle money around but they don’t expand the technological capability set of humanity. Only investments in basic and applied research and investments in the commercialization of new technologies do that.”

52 things I learned in 2015 “More than half of the world’s feed crops will soon be eaten by Chinese pigs.”

Tribal Leadership (Book Review) “It must be very convenient for a book written by consultants to present a model with 5 stages where the first two are probably not occupied by the intended reader (gratifying); nor is the last, since it is essentially mystical and fanciful — the consultant always has something to do (i.e., charge for).”