Mediated Knowledge: How Do We Know What We Know?

How do human beings know things? On the surface that seems like a stupid question. We know things because we learn or experience them. For example, I know that Barack Obama was the first African-American president because I was alive for his election. I remember watching the news and reading articles about his victory over…

Nostalgia, Traditionalism, and Economics

Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” Between the late 1600s and early 1900s, nostalgia was considered a psychological illness particular to the Swiss. Swiss mercenaries traveling into the lowlands to fight expressed an almost crippling homesickness, along with bouts…

The Checklist Manifesto

Before you start reading, just know that there is a picture of surgery below. As I mentioned in my last post, I try to read a book a day when I can. Last weekend, I read Dr. Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto. Gawande began by explaining the high incidence of medical errors and went on to…

One Formula to Rule Them All: The Maillard Reaction

A friend of mine recently asked me a question that seemed simple at first glance: what is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation for some topic of your choosing? Though I took stabs at his question over and over, I couldn’t conjure up a fitting answer. Nothing I knew about seemed “deep, elegant, or beautiful” enough to…

Speed-reading Nonfiction Books

If I could have any superpower at all, I would want to be able to read at superhuman speeds and have perfect recall of everything I read. At first glance, that seems like a stupid power to have; however, in the film Limitless, Bradley Cooper’s character uses those very abilities to become a successful author, financial…

Time Management in Complex Projects

Often, when we are working on complex projects, our final deliverables are over-budget and behind schedule. Obviously, this is a problem not only for businesses, but also for people who value their time and money (i.e. most people). What is it about complex projects that creates so many problems for us? First, we should look…