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Reading List Updates, end November '10

Just finished:

Think and Grow Rich: A marvelous book, but I was having a hard time finishing it. Then I realized - the last three chapters are pretty much fluff that repeat points already covered. I skimmed the last three chapters... it starts very strong, ends weak, but I'm happy it's finally done.

The Alchemist: What a masterpiece by Paolo Cuehlo. Read it in one day, couldn't put it down. Got me thinking a lot... lots of great quick ways to think, quick heuristics and mantras in there. Really wonderful short little book with some great lessons.

If I Did It: I read OJ Simpson's autobiography on a whim when I saw a copy. It's a weird book. It's about a guy trying to be a decent husband and having his marriage fall apart. Then he kills his wife. Oh, and it's OJ Simpson, and the most famous trial/legal story of the last 20 years. Weird to read the guy's perspective... it's weird in how surreal and normal it is. A famous guy marries a beautiful 18 year old girl but they don't have a really deep or mature connection. She doesn't take well to money and stability, gets unhappy, starts acting kind of crazy in the marriage. OJ acts crazy in response. They divorce. Then he keeps hearing her partying around town and doing drugs, flips out, and kills her. Weird reading it in his own words - I lived in Los Angeles for awhile, and the first part read like a fairly normal L.A. story with a rich, famous guy making a bad choice in a young beautiful woman without much depth or character. Then it gets kind of crazy at the end. It wasn't sad so much as weird. It's sureally normal in parts, and then ends with... well, you know. I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to read it, but it's interesting for a few hours if you get a chance.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: Eliezer Yudkowsky's fanfiction is exceptionally good. If you're a reader of LessWrong at all, you'll love it. If not, you still might like it. He wrote it in "serialized" format where each chapter is a mostly self-contained adventure with plot arc, and then a cohesive whole. It works well, reads well, lots of good insights. He didn't really hit his stride and tone until chapter 15 to 20... if you like Yudkowsky's normal writing, give it until chapter 20. Trust me on this - Eliezer sets up a lot of backstory and forces some humor in the early chapters, and the tone isn't quite smooth... still good, but then wow, it kicks into overdrive around chapter 20 and it's just a page-turning must-read. It's free online at fanfiction.com and you can also find pdf compilations with some googling.

Eat. Sleep. Ultimate.

On Imported Blog

Ok I'm not as diehard of an Ultimate Frisbee fan as my title suggests, but I love the sport.

Ultimate Frisbee is a fusion of soccer and football, and it's played with a frisbee. It is definitely one of the easiest team sports to learn, probably second behind soccer (maybe further down, but I can't think of any right now). The best part? It's a hell of a fun sport to play. It has a reputation of being a laidback sport (although I wish it didn't) but is still athletically demanding.

Running back and forth on a soccer/football field is hard work. In my first game, I got the "skitch" (that painful feeling in your stomach while running). After that, I picked up running and it no longer bothered me. If I didn't rack up 25+ miles per week, Ultimate games would easily tire me out.

Another thing I love it is that you can play with only one other person if you want. You can simply throw it around, and it's not as boring as merely kicking a soccer ball with another person. You get to still run around and try new tricks, and both people can be relatively far away from each other. And, you only need a Frisbee. You don't need a basket, tennis rackets and a net, a goal, whatever.

I definitely want to continue Ultimate, and I slowly want to start being more competitive. It's currently the only team sport I play, and it's definitely amazing.

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