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How I Prioritize Books

Patri Friendman is one smart dude. He writes a lot of good stuff, he's got a ton of good insights, and he does prolific amounts of real-world work that changes that's got a strong chance of dramatically changing the course of history. There's not too many people I'd be excited to work for in a vizier-type role for empirebuilding, but he's one of them.

His blog is here. Today, we're talking about an entry he made on LessWrong titled "Rational Reading: Thoughts On Prioritizing Books."

Some choice excerpts -

A large element of instrumental rationality consists of filtering, prioritizing, and focusing. It's true for tasks, for emails, for blogs, and for the multitude of other inputs that many of us are drowning in these days[1]. Doing everything, reading everything, commenting on everything is simply not an option - it would take infinite time



On Frogoyodoe

Ernest sat on the bench. He felt the peeling paint tug on the fibers of his jeans as he adjusted his seat to try to find a comfortable position. The plaque dug into his lower back, where his shirt had been lifted up as he sat down. It read “ Johnny Camp- Thank you for your contributions to our community- gone but never forgotten”.

Or at least that’s what Ernest had come up with. He’d never actually read it, in fact he’d never sat on this bench or been to this park; but he knew every single plaque on every single bench in every single park said the exact same thing.

The recipe for a caring and emotional memorial plaque: 3 parts buzzwords like “community”, and “contribution” and “selflessness”. 1 part inevitable death cliché. 1 part Anglo-Saxon name (add or subtract to taste). It almost seemed ironic that this supposed benefactor’s “contributions” to life had been reduced in death to a cold pointy feeling on the back of a random passerby. Posthumous contributions have a way of being funny like that.

As Ernest sat and amused himself with a myriad of other plaque possibilities, the early morning rush began. Like a good city dweller, he paid no mind to the sensations that inundated his preceptors. To him, it was as if there was no noise of businessmen talking up their bosses, no smell of coffee as the workplace zombies ingested their drug of choice , no visible stream of like minded people dressed up as uniquely as they could. All he saw was his own thoughts. Soon the din of the mundane grew too loud for him.

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