Here is a list of my favorite ten non-technical books that I read this year. I prepared it with the explicit goal of covering most of my interests these days; however, I realized that topics that are becoming my priority, such as Climate Change, are not represented here.
Tell me if you have read any of them, or if one intrigues you, and we can have a chat. I also would love to know what were your favourite books in 2019.
- There are no dead here (Violence in Colombia)
- A New Compact History of Mexico (Latin America History)
- The Storm Before the Storm (History of Rome)
- The Willpower Instinct (Popular psychology; self-help)
- Irrational Exuberance (Finance)
- Radical Markets (Economy)
- The Deep Learning Revolution (Artificial Intelligence)
- The World According to Wavelets (Popular mathematics)
- Nonsense on Stilts (Philosophy of science)
- The Other, The Same (Poetry)
The following are some personal notes about them.
Continue reading “My favorite 10 books in 2019”
In my previous entry, I wrote that CO2 emissions are the sole metric that you should be tracking if you want to make changes in your life that help mitigate your environmental impact. Despite the abundant material you can find online about it, the calculation of this number does not seem straightforward. Your specific circumstances typically don’t fit the assumptions behind these sources of information that promise to help you. Worst of all, they almost never tell you how they arrive at their estimates.
Continue reading “Calculating your CO2 emissions: A Practical Example”
You eat a burger. You drive your car. You put your clothes to wash. You buy a plastic bottle of water. You turn on the lights.
Miniscule actions that you take every single day have been suddenly reframed as wicked gestures of recklessness that put our planet in grave danger.
If you have developed some environmental consciousness lately, and you want to make some positive changes in your life to help mitigate the climate crisis, you may feel overwhelmed with the avalanche of messages that kind of urge you to stop living.
Continue reading “Your CO2 emissions: The number you should track in 2020”
Since last year I have developed an interest in elections, not in specific instances, but rather in the phenomenon as a whole. It may seem odd that in a world convulsed with an avalanche of catchy affairs, such seemingly bland topic as elections is the one that captures my attention. After all, they are so entrenched in our societies that they may seem as natural as clouds in the sky. And what kind of person finds clouds fascinating?
Continue reading “Elections are a fascinating but toxic technology”
This year I have been reading a few good books on climate change. I enjoy the more technical ones, particularly those written a few years ago, rather than the new, wishy-washy ones that are cropping up bookstores these days. The minimum knowledge needed to grasp the surface of climate change is quite extensive, and I know I need all those numbers, figures and tables to make sense of the problem.
Something I have noticed though is that none of these books starts with a discussion of the graph that I think encapsulates more information relevant for the current crisis. The figure is the following: Continue reading “Billions of Humans need Trillions of Trees”
I wake up.
I have a slight headache, probably caused by dehydration and the changes in cabin pressure. I check my watch. 3:16 am. I must have slept for three hours, and now I know I won’t fall asleep again. Inside the plane everything is dark, and you can only see the glow of a few screens scattered around, and the shadows of my airborne companions, hidden behind piles of blankets, pillows, eye masks and earplugs. Everything is quiet, except for the numbing roar of the giant engines outside, in their process of devouring dozens of tons of fuel. I look to my side and see that the Venezuelans are sleeping like logs. Gosh, I do envy people with the power of sleeping on a plane. I turn on my laptop and continue writing.
Continue reading “I am not proud of flying (but I am not ashamed of it either) – Part 2”
It’s a rainy night in London, and I am drinking a glass of whiskey in a bar at Terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport. I wanted to avoid the rush hour, so I left my flat earlier than needed, but now I find myself with a lot of time to kill in this place. I brought David MacKay’s excellent book “Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air”, and I am hooked on the technical chapter III.C (Planes II). This is one of those books that you enjoy more with pen and paper. In the 45 minutes that I have been here, I have scribbled four pages of equations and diagrams, following his derivation of the total power required to keep a plane in the air, and his formula of transport efficiency.
Continue reading “I am not proud of flying (but I am not ashamed of it either) – Part 1”