What I’d Been Reading
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
What initially incited me to read Watchmen was that it was inspired by one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs, Desolation Row. Moore and Gibbons wanted to capture the sense of paranoia and chaos that was embedded in the song, particularly the line “At midnight, all the agents and the superhuman crew come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do.” What resulted was a philosophically-laden superhero comic that deals with moral issues and blurs the line between good and evil, as in real life.
What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson
“Nothing in childhood is ever wasted,” as Dickinson often says in this book. His resume is a collection of restless childhood dreams — he’s the singer in Iron Maiden, an airline captain, an international fencer, a novelist, a brewer, and a radio presenter, just to name a few. Also, Iron Maiden’s latest album Senjutsu made me appreciate everything he wrote here, because he has survived not only throat cancer, but most recently a horrible Covid infection — and yet, he managed to give what is arguably his very best vocal performance. Remembering his story gets me out of bed in the morning — because I too want a life that is lived to its fullest.
The Wright Brothers by David McCollough
Sometimes I look at the world around me, and I start thinking about how certain inventions that are so central to our lives today were once considered impossible. That’s how it was with the airplane. Figuring out how to fly was seen as a fool’s errand when the Wright brothers set out to create their plane. The Wright brothers’ story is one of grit, as they stayed their course in spite of the constant disdain and indifference of the people around them, and even how hard it was to get national funding. As the older brother Wilbur equipped, “No bird soars in a calm”.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is something we should strive for in marketing. But I’ve always felt that the term “word-of-mouth” is kind of esoteric in a sense. Because what’s rarely talked about is how exactly we can create something that’s worth talking about and sharing. Jonah Berger here offers practical insights about why certain things get more attention than others, such as social currency, triggers, and public (how available your product is for everyone to see).
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher Browning
I knew about this book after reading Beyond Order by Jordan Peterson. As he mentioned, he recommended this to one of his patients who was rather naive about the evil that exists in our world. It’s undoubtedly sobering to read about the Holocaust, but it truly broke my heart when I learned that it was in fact, ordinary men who committed the mass shootings and roundups of Jews in Poland. They were not ardent Nazis, but simple middle-aged and working class men in the police battalion who merely followed orders. With that, the author uses this as a case study to argue that most of us are vulnerable to the snares of groupthink. Out of our need for conformity or deference towards authority figures, we tend to be willing to commit acts that we otherwise would never do.
What I’ve Been Watching
Literally nothing has made me laugh harder than Impractical Jokers. It’s a hidden camera show where four best friends from high school dare each other into doing ridiculous tasks — and whoever fails the most would be punished with something even worse. I’ve watched nearly three seasons at this point, and it’s probably the quickest way to make me feel good. God, my cheeks hurt from watching this show.