I publish WendellNotes for significant books I read to make their perspective available to friends and GIN subscribers who may not otherwise have time for them. Before I started writing WendellNotes in 2011, book notes were part of my Journal. [Brackets separate my comments from the author's.]
100-Year Life: Living & Working in an Age of Longevity
Life expectancy has expanded at a steady rate of more than 2 years every decade for some 200 years. Our intangible assets – family and friends, interests and passions – are ultimately the greatest source of lifetime happiness. The most profound impact of longevity on personal lives and families will be that, across a whole life, a smaller proportion of years will be focused on raising children. People don’t think their way into change--they act their way into change. At the center of building a productive 100-year life are plans and experiments.
21 Laws of Leadership
[John Maxwell’s 21 Laws are useful but differ from Christ as a Leadership model.] When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you. Followers follow because they want to be part of success. People’s opinion of us has less to do with what they see in us than with what we can help them see in themselves. Leaders are dealers in hope. When you give people hope, you give them a future. Great leaders gain authority by giving it away. No matter what we teach our children, they insist on behaving like us. People do what people see. Ethics can be instilled in others only if it is taught and modeled for them. Living what I teach is the most important thing I do as a leader. Example is leadership. Teams succeed when the players have a unified vision and diversified skills. Every message that we receive is filtered through the messenger who delivers it.
2nd Machine Age
SoLoMo—social, local, and mobile—is the domain in which the smartphone has merged geological, meteorological, and medical together with media players, game platforms, reference works, cameras, and GPS devices together with tricorders (sensor scanning, data analysis, and data recorder) and person-to-person communicators. The constant modification of how people work has made Moore’s Law the central phenomenon of the computer age. Sensors became, in essence, computer chips. As they did so, they became subject to the exponential improvement trajectories of Moore’s Law. The surge in digitization has had 2 profound consequences: new ways of acquiring knowledge (doing science) and higher rates of innovation. The unique economic property of digital information: non-rival with zero marginal cost of reproduction. Making things free, perfect, and instant might seem like unreasonable expectations for most products, but as more information is digitized, more products fall into these categories. Innovation is the outstanding fact in the economic history of capitalist society. Meta-ideas are about how to support the production and transmission of other ideas. Like language, printing, the library, or universal education, the global digital network fosters recombinant innovation. Digital innovation is recombinant innovation in its purest form. New growth is limited by our ability to process new ideas. The outstanding features of the 2nd machine age are sustained exponential improvement in most aspects of computing, digitized information, and recombinant innovation. In the long run, the most important economic effect of population size and growth is the contribution of additional people to our stock of useful knowledge. The US GDP growth per person has averaged 1.9% per year since the early 1800s. The heaviest IT users were dramatically more productive than their competitors. The decrease in information cost lowers GDP even as our personal well-being increases, pushing GDP in the opposite direction of our true well-being. Work can be divided into a 2 by 2 matrix: cognitive versus manual and routine versus nonroutine. The demand for work has been falling most dramatically for routine tasks. Nonroutine cognitive jobs (such as financial analysis) and nonroutine manual jobs (like hairdressing) have held up relatively. The US is a mixture of a log-normal distribution (a variant of the classical normal distribution) and power law, with the power law fitting the incomes at the top best. The era of bell curve distributions that supported a bulging social middle class is over and we are headed for a power-law distribution of economic opportunities. Judge a man by his questions, not his answers. The Montessori educational approach might be the surest route to joining the creative elite, which are so overrepresented by the school’s alumni that one might suspect a Montessori Mafia. Work saves a man from 3 great evils: boredom, vice, and need. The primary wish of the world is no longer peace or freedom or even democracy. It is first and foremost to have a good job. The consequences of high neighborhood joblessness are more devastating than those of high neighborhood poverty.
4 Keys to Hearing God
The Lord began to show me the proper place and purpose of laws and rules in my life. I dismantled the idolization of my mind and established my heart as the throne that God has chosen as the center of life and the central avenue through which to communicate with humankind. Although the mind processes revelation, it is not the organ that receives revelation—the spirit is. Study gives reasoned knowledge, meditation revelation knowledge. Journaling amounts to personal prophecy. Leadership transfers to those who remain optimistic.
A Beautiful Mess
Chaos. It’s familiar in every single creation account on the planet and, if we are honest, it’s also present in every one of our personal lives. Growth, whether personal or within an organizational structure, can only happen as a result of embracing chaos. “The desire to please you does in fact please you”. Many people of faith mistakenly think that doubt is an enemy. I believe it to be a friend. It’s in the middle of doubt and fear that faith actually arises. In order to rest you have to trust that God can take care of the world, even your world.]
A Praying Life
Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. Suffering is important to the process of learning how to pray. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, we can turn it toward God. Anxiety is an unused prayer link. Satan cynically twists God’s commands to his own ends. Cynicism is the seed for our own rebellions. Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life. Integrity, beauty, hope, and love are all in the same category as prayer. You can’t define them because they are too close to God’s image. When times were good, I ignored God, but when times were hard, I blamed God. God customizes deserts for each of us and takes everyone he loves through one. A lament is faith. A complaint is rebellion. [The difference is who you complain to.] Nothing clears out self-righteousness better than serving someone who is critical of you. By giving his brothers coats, Joseph has become an artist. He has noticed God’s use of themes in his life and extended it. He takes God’s brush and finishes the painting. He has learned his heavenly Father’s rhythms. The downward journey is the gospel story. Since Jesus’ death, no one has been able to tell a better one. If we embrace the gospel story God is weaving in our life, we discover joy, but if we pursue joy directly, it slips from our grasp. The novel is a specifically Christian form of writing. Prayer is where I do my best work as a husband, dad, worker, and friend. How do you love someone without prayer? I actually manage my life now through my daily prayer time.
A Wind in the House of Islam
One of the greatest recurring motivations for Muslims coming to Christ is a rejection of the militant expression of Islam itself. In the 1990s, because the government was occupied with the terrorists, no local Christians—Mountain Berber or Arab—were killed. Many South Asian Muslims who went on to become follower of Jesus Christ, came to an initial faith in Christ through the Qur’an. “I will not be a Christian. I just want to follow Jesus.” Women are the key to the movement’s future. Scripture in the local language has been instrumental to every movement we have examined. Prayer has been the first and primary strategy for virtually every new initiative into the Muslim world. Many Muslim-background Christ followers have urged the spread of colloquial Qur’an translations as a prelude to gospel witness. “Only after I read the Qur’an in my own language, did I realize how lost I was.” When Christians disregard injustice and dismiss those who are the victims of injustice, we open the door to Islam. When Christians are proactive and move to combat social injustice both at home and abroad, we inoculate our communities against Islamic incursions.
[Perhaps God’s common grace and the coming of His kingdom can be seen in the narrative of growing abundance]. The 20th century saw a global infant mortality decrease of 90%, a maternal mortality decrease of 99%, and human lifespan increase of more than 100%. The key to population [control] is to improve health. There is a strong correlation, as health improves, within half a generation, the population growth rate goes down. The impact of the mobile phone in Africa has had about the same effect as a democratic change of leadership. Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts. Once the amygdala begins hunting bad news, it’s mostly going to find it. It’s hard to be optimistic, because the brain’s filtering architecture is pessimistic by design. Poverty was reduced more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500. Time saved is proportional to the division of labor. Small groups of dedicated DIY innovators can now tackle problems that were once solely the purview of big governments and large corporations. We’re seeing the tip of the dematerialization wave. Everywhere OLPC goes, truancy drops. Games outperform textbooks in helping students learn fact-based subjects such as geography, history, physics, and anatomy, while also improving visual coordination, cognitive speed, and manual dexterity. Soon we’re going to be able to create gamed-based learning that is deep, immersive, and totally addictive. AI tutors have raised math scores a staggering amount, some increasing middle school pass rates from 20% to over 90%. Tools of prosperity do double duty as crusaders for liberation: freeing up time and money, improving quality of life, and creating even greater opportunity for opportunity.
Hamilton took constitutional principles, infused them with life, turning abstractions into institutional realities: the budget system, funded debt, the tax system, the NY stock exchange, the central bank, the mint, customs service, establishment of the Coast Guard & Customs Service. No axiom is more clearly established in law or in reason than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized. The security of liberty and property were inseparable. Contracts formed the basis of public and private morality.
Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity
Modernism is the idea that truth could be found through common sense, logic, human reason, and science. Postmodernism rejects the idea that absolute truth can be known. There is general unity among orthodox Christians surrounding 3 topics: the Bible, the Cross, and the gospel. It was exciting to discover that a detailed scholarly examination of the Christian worldview only lends support to its veracity.
[This book provides the clearest explanation in personal terms of the causes and solutions to migration issues I’ve found.] The 21st century will put an end to the major theme of human history, continuous population growth. Rural living is the largest single killer of humans today. The arrival city accomplished the things that bring fertility rates down: educating girls and women, improving health, and creating physical and financial security. Countries rarely experience economic growth while banning or restricting rural-urban migration. The unimpeded arrival city was a more effective form of development than any known economic, social, or population-control policy. Housing without business space can lock tenants into permanent dependency. Almost all policy efforts to restrict or end immigration have failed. High-skilled primary immigrants are 18% more likely to fall into low-income poverty than their low-skilled family-class counterparts. A failure of assimilation is better understood as an arrested rural-urban transition. Property ownership is the beginning and end of social-mobility issues. The most successful urban neighborhoods in the world are neither low density nor highly zoned.
Art of Gathering
“Crucible moments” are challenging moments in our lives that shape us in some deep way. Story is about a decision that you made. Share a story, a moment, or an experience from your life that changed the way you view the world. Tell me about a moment in your early life that deeply influenced you.]
Over the coming century, the most vital human resource in need of conservation and protection is likely to be our own consciousness and mental space. The future will be nothing more than the running total of our individual mental states. We must reclaim ownership of the very experience of living.]
Modernization did not demote the elderly. It demoted the family. The average American spends a year or more of old age disabled and living in a nursing home. The systems we’ve devised were designed to solve some other problems. The single most serious threat of aging is falling. Far from growing unhappier, people report more positive emotions as they age. Assisted living isn’t really built for the sake of older people so much as for the sake of their children. Many of the things that we want for those we care about are things that we would adamantly oppose for ourselves because they would infringe upon our sense of self. The chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life.]
Amazon consistently ranks as the most trusted and beloved brand. It is becoming an operating system for your life. The foundational principles of the Bezonomics philosophy are customer obsession, extreme innovation, and long-term management. His secret is what he calls his flywheel. The software is the business model. Voice commands will become the most common way we interact with the Internet.