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books

Book Review: Subtle Art

15 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is a decent casual read packed with anecdotes about living a happier life. As you probably guessed from the title, the writing is conversational and flows well. The content provokes you to consider connections to your own life.

Book Review: Cost-Benefit Revolution

22 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Don’t let the dry reviews on the back cover deter you (Forbes says: “Clear, well-argued”). Cass Sunstein’s The Cost-Benefit Revolution is an awesome read for anyone interested in public policy or economics. He walks through the principles of cost-benefit analysis and considers a variety of challenges and case studies. The book won’t keep you at the edge of your seat (unless, you’re like, really into this), but Sunstein’s arguments are well-written and organized—a pleasure to consume.

Book Review: #BreakIntoVC

13 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I just finished Bradley Miles’ #BreakIntoVC. It’s a short, clearly-written book that boils down the essentials of venture capital. The book is sometimes a little disorganized and often moves a little too fast. Nonetheless, provides a great overview the subject for anyone willing to read carefully.

Book Review: Behave

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’m utterly floored. Robert Sapolsky’s Behave has achieved two firsts among biology textbooks: 1) providing a sweeping, meticulously researched account of human nature, and 2) keeping me thoroughly entertained the entire time. This landscape of a book took three weeks to trek through and I don’t regret a minute of it.

Book Review: Age of Turbulence

10 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Alan Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence is a three part book. First, he recounts his intellectual journey as a consultant, advisor, and chairman of the Fed. Then, Greenspan lays out a framework for understanding the global economy. The book closes with speculations on global trends. Forewarning: I did not get to the third part.

Book Review: Influence

37 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Robert Cialdini’s Influence is a classic book about marketing and psychology. Cialdini outlines six non-obvious “weapons of influence.” For each, he outlines when it’s used, why it works, and how to protect yourself.

Book Review: Guns, Germs, and Steel

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel is an interdisciplinary deep dive into the trajectories of human societies. He explores thousands of years of history using an variety of methodologies to answer a basic question: why are some societies more successful than others? The answer, he argues, is geographical determinism.

Book Review: Perfectly Confident

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dan Moore’s Perfectly Confident is a decision-making book that dives into the literature behind confidence. As the title suggests, Moore takes the stance that some confidence is good, but over-confidence is dangerous. In plotting out this middle ground. The book succinctly summarizes the existing literature and draws on a broad array of real world examples.

Book Review: Deep Survival

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzalez explores “Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” with science and storytelling. While most of the book is in the context of the wilderness, its lessons are directly applicable to the stresses of everyday life, whether at home, in the gym, or at the office.

Book Review: Misbehaving

6 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Richard Thaler’s legendary Misbehaving is personal biography, academic journey, and field survey wrapped into one. He recounts his struggles as a fledging researcher, his partnerships with other great minds, and their projects throughout the years. It’s an insider’s view of world of behavioral economics that you can’t find anywhere else.

Book Review: Sapiens

8 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari tells the story of the human race. It’s a case study in deep history, drawing on evolutionary biology, psychology, and the social sciences to explain how we got here and where we might be headed. It’s a broad, insightful narrative with interesting takes and speculations.

Book Review: Happiness Advantage

5 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor is a practical guide to positive psychology. He draws on case studies from various settings around the globe to prove a simple point: happiness begets success, and not the other way around. Achor synthesizes these lessons into seven principles.

Book Review: Checklist Manifesto

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto reviews the surprising utility of a simple checklist. While his personal background is in medicine, Gawande explores the triumphs of checklists in contexts ranging from mid-flight disasters to investment decisions.

Book Review: The Halo Effect

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Halo Effect is Phil Rosenzweig’s response to decades of vague, ideological management books. He systemically sifts through case studies and past books, showing how they fall pray to various misconceptions. He closes with a sober guide to business success.

Book Review: On Grand Strategy

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis is a sweeping account of the history of war, a rollercoaster that takes the reader from ancient Persia to World War 2. It extracts useful lessons about the practice of war and the difference between successful and failed leaders.

Book Review: 10 Percent Happier

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

For years, Dan Harris was a cranky, cutthroat, coke-loving anchor on ABC News. Through a series of fortunate encounters with pop spiritual figures and “Jew-Bu”’s, he discovered and developed the power of meditation. His book, 10% Happier, tells the story of how he became a calmer, kinder person. It also introduces a pragmatic compromise between Western Buddhism and success in the workplace.

Book Review: Universality and Identity Politics

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Todd McGowan’s Universality and Identity Politics has advice for the Left. Today’s theorists are afraid of politics based on universality - it’s seen as homogenizing and emblematic of Nazism and Stalinism. Drawing on Lacanian thought, McGowan rereads universal values such as freedom and equality as emerging from our shared experience of absence. He identifies this unattainable universality with the Left and, conversely, shows how particularism and identity politics are the strategies of the Right. The book concludes with a call for collective struggle.

Book Review: Why We Sleep

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Matthew Walker is a UC Berkeley professor, a sleep researcher, and the author of Why We Sleep. The book catalogs the best research to date on the mechanisms and motivations behind sleeping. The conclusion, and the clear, urgent message of the author, is this: you probably should sleep more.

Book Review: Everything Store

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Brad Stone’s The Everything Store is a close look at the e-commerce giant Amazon and its founder-CEO, Jeff Bezos. Backed by decades of reporting from its infancy to 2014, Brad documents the company’s journey through rises and falls, as well as the personal growth of its captain. It provides an insider’s perspective on office politics, business strategy, and the workings of one very wealthy thumb.

Book Review: Noise

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Noise, a new book by Daniel Kahneman, Oliver Sibony, and Cass Sunstein, examines the sources and impacts of inconsistent decision making. An insightful and original book, the authors invite us to look beyond bias and consider a more subtler source of unfairness and inefficiency. It provides practical advice for improving our decision-making.

Book Review: Racecraft

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life is written by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields, a pair of academics and sisters. Their work traces the development of race and challenges its pervasiveness in American social life.

Book Review: Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels argues that oil, gas, and coal are net contributors to human welfare and should continue to be promoted. The book defends fossil fuels against criticisms of pollution and sustainability while criticizing renewable energy sources. It concludes with a call to embrace fossil fuels as a moral good.

Book Review: Locked In

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

John Pfaff’s Locked In is a clear-eyed, evidence-based examination of America’s criminal justice system. Pfaff argues that mass incarceration is not primarily driven by nonviolent crimes, long sentences, or private prisons. The real driver of prison growth is the prosecutor. A variety of poor institutional incentives and political pressures empower prosecutors to send more people to prison. Reforms need to reign in the power and discretion of prosecutors.

Book Review: American Sickness

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In An American Sickness, Elisabeth Rosenthal diagnoses our healthcare system with a serious case of bloated costs and misplaced priorities. A physician-journalist, she provides insightful examples from around the country backed with a technical understanding of the industry. The book is divided into two parts, each further subdivided by components of healthcare. In the first part, she traces the historical trends that led to modern malfunction; in the second part, she prescribes specific advice for patients and doctors.

Book Review: Price We Pay

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Price We Pay documents Marty Makary’s perspective working with American healthcare. An established physician famous for working with Atul Gawande on WHO’s surgery checklists, Makary recounts his journey discovering and addressing the disfunctions of the healthcare system. His core belief is that healthcare requires transparency in prices, performance, and transactions. He believes that accessible billing, good physician metrics, and awareness of middlemen can reduce costs, improve quality, and cut out scheming businesspeople.

Book Review: Food Rules

less than 1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Michael Pollan’s Food Rules is a pocket-sized manual on effective eating.

Book Review: Black Rednecks

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Black Rednecks and White Liberals is a stimulating collection of essays on culture and race from Thomas Sowell, a renowned black, conservative intellectual. It traverses topics ranging from redneck culture and Jewish oppression to Nazism and black education. It is an important and valuable critique of progressive views on history and society.

Book Review: Phake

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Phake is Roger Bate’s account of the global trade in substandard and falsified medicines. The culmination of almost a decade’s worth of research efforts, the book is a journey through the lens of a researcher. He brings us from continent to continent, looking at the prevalence, causes, and impacts of illegal medicines, as well as potential solutions.

Book Review: Smartcuts

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Smartcuts by Shane Snow teaches you how to leverage the power of lateral thinking for success. Replete with case studies of figures like Skrillex, Jimmy Fallon, and Elon Musk, Snow synthesizing principles for accomplishing more in less time.

Book Review: Fellow Creatures

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fellow Creatures by Harvard Professor Christine Koragaard is a Kantian account of our obligations to animals. She argues that animals are “ends-in-themselves” and outlines practical consequences for human obligations.

Book Review: Scarcity

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Economics is the study of scarcity. Scarcity is the title and subject of a new book by Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan, an book with powerful and new ideas that extend beyond economics to psychology, public finance, and sociology. Drawing on existing and original research from around the world, Mullainathan and Shafir reframe our understanding of poverty by showing that scarcity in and of itself can unusually influence decision-making.

Book Review: Bottle of Lies

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bottle of Lies is the product of Katherine Eban’s 10-years long investigation into the market for fake drugs. The book is a thrilling narrative that follows a whistleblower at an Indian pharmacuetical manufacturers who uncovers an illegal falsified drug operation. The scale of the fraud - and how long it took to stop it - is frightening and informative.

Book Review: Barking Up the Wrong Tree

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker is an collection of mental models for success in business and life. It spans common misperceptions about bell curves, nice guys, quitters, networking, confidence, and work life balance.

Book Review: Policy and Choice

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Policy and Choice is published by the Brookings Institution and authored by Jeffrey R. Kling, Sendhil Mullainathan, and William J. Congdon. As a compendium on psychological insights in the context of public finance, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in behavioral economics and public policy.

Book Review: Surviving Survival

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Laurence Gonzales’ Survivng Survival is a sequel to his Deep Survival. He explores the challenges of moving on from trauma through a series of case studies and offers practical advice for the reader.

Book Review: Other Minds

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds is a book about octopuses. It is also a book about evolution and conciousness. Starting at the intimate contact between a scuba diver and an octopus, the book journeys in and out of the ocean, backwards through millions of years of time, and concludes with comments on the future of the sea.

Book Review: Words that Work

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Drawing on decades of experience in politics and business, Frank Luntz seeks to document the Words that Work. The book is a catalog of strategies and principles for effective communication, particularly for organizations.

Book Review: Superfreakonomics

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s sequel, Superfreakonomics, is as interesting and insightful as the prequel. Despite covering everything from prostitutes to global warming, the two Steves have the same underlying message: people respond to incentives in unexpected ways.

Book Review: Subtract

3 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Subtract by Leidy Klotz argues that we overlook subtraction to our detriment. In a story that spans from the laboratory to racism and climate change, Klotz diagnoses the causes of and solutions to subtraction neglect.

Book Review: Emperor of All Maladies

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Emperor of All Maladies is an artfully crafted history of cancer, delving into the political, economic, scientific, and personal faces of the disease. The thoroughly entertaining book cements Siddhartha Mukherjee one of my favorite biographers and science writers.

Book Review: Eating Animals

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals unveils the cruelty you and I inflict every time we consume animal products. Half memoir and half journalism, Foer’s argument spans from dinners with grandma to horrific scenes at the slaughterhouse. He implies that we should be vegan, or at least support ethical farming practices.

Book Review: Range

4 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

David Epstein’s Range is a survey of the research on learning and specialization. Through studies and anecdotes, he argues that we should appreciate and cultivate broader skillsets. Exploring fields from sports to rocket science, Epstein’s argument is likely to have applicable advice for your life.

Book Review: Your Brain on Exercise

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Gary Wenk’s Your Brain on Exercise is a slim, myth-busting survey on the benefits of exercise for the brain. According to his review of the academic literature, the cognitive effects of exercise are modest, while anaerobic exercise may pose risks via oxidative stress and inflammation.

Book Review: Crying in H-Mart

less than 1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H-Mart recounts the death of her mother. The narrative dances between a turbulent cross-cultural childhood, her mother’s gradual loss to cancer, and the painful family fractures left in its wake.

Book Review: On Writing Well

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

William Zinnser’s On Writing Well is a gentle, entertaining guide to nonfiction writing. Rich with diverse literary examples and practical advice, Zinnser provides a “something for everyone” basket of knowledge.

Book Review: Being Mortal

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is a heart-to-heart with American readers about end-of-life care. Sharing personal anecdotes and case studies, Gawande argues that the dying and their caretakers should aim to enrich, rather than merely prolong, life.

Book Review: Flash Boys

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis is a story about Wall Street dysfunction post-financial crisis. He documents the rise of high frequency trading, the adjacent, enabling institutions, and people who tried to stop it—the flash boys.

Book Review: Undoing Project

1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Michael Lewis’ Undoing Project is a dual biography of Daniel Khaneman and Amos Tversky. The touching, personal narrative unveils the unique (and often cruel) circumstances that birthed their beautiful academic relationship. It is a meditation on scholarship and friendship.

Book Review: What Every Body is Saying

2 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In What Every Body is Saying, Joe Navarro provides a dictionary for the human body. Based in science and personal experience, Navarro’s insights are immediately applicable and verifiable. Anyone who wishes to unlock the “70% to 93%” of communication that’s nonverbal, Navarro’s book is the place to start.

Book Review: Talking to Strangers

less than 1 minute read

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers is a pop psychology book about the difficulties of communication. He weaves together case studies of misunderstandings and deception to argue that human communication is filled with folly.

experiences

Premier Debate

Product Management, 12/2018—08/2021, Los Angeles, CA

Wrote 42 topic briefings for high school debate and maintained company website.

Bronx Science

Teaching, 09/2020—04/2021, Bronx, NY

Coached a debate team of 28 and judged at 18 tournaments.

Volvo Cars

Consulting, 01/2021—05/2021, Berkeley, CA

Compiled and priced subscription-based car features through surveys and software development.

Amazon Web Services

Software Engineering, 06/2021—08/2021, Herndon, VA

Built a versatile, scalable customer notification tool for Route 53 service teams.

CS 61A Course Staff

Teaching, 06/2021—11/2021, Berkeley, CA

Taught sections and held office hours for an introductory Python course.

Gates Foundation

Consulting, 09/2021— Present, Berkeley, CA

Advised landscaping study of substandard and falsified medicines in sub-Saharan Africa.

Uber Eats

Data Science, 09/2021—11/2021, Berkeley, CA

Segmented eaters to design promos and optimize conversion and retention.

notes

projects

E-Debate

10 minute read

Published:

Scraped tournament entries and analyzed the effect of COVID-19.

E-Debate Update

4 minute read

Published:

Extended previous analysis to 8 more events/divisons.

Partisanship and COVID

17 minute read

Published:

Multivariate regression on public health and voting data.

Time Tracking: Winter 2021

9 minute read

Published:

Analysis of my time tracking data from September 2020 to January 2021.

Debate Careers

7 minute read

Published:

Analysis of high school debater career pathways.

publications

writings

A 2020 Review

5 minute read

Published:

This year’s theme is habit-building.

Resolutions for 2021

less than 1 minute read

Published:

I have a poor record with New Year’s resolutions. I trust that nailing them to this site will keep me accountable (or, at very least, punish my failure with shame).

Long Runs

3 minute read

Published:

I just finished a long run. No, I didn’t do track and field, so my “long run” is probably not impressive to you—I don’t care. Friend me on Nike Running Club if you’re curious about the distance.

A 2021 Report Card and 12 Challenges for 2022

10 minute read

Published:

Happy New Year! Yesterday marked precisely one year since my first post on this blog. Admittedly, I haven’t written many posts since then, per se (exactly 2). But the site, like myself, has developed a lot. Here’s a brief post-mortem of last year’s resolutions, and a set of new and informed goals for 2022.