- BETTER FRIDAYS, BETTER EVERYTHING -

Z, Audible and 100 Movies

2016-08-14

A happy August boys -

First off, a warm welcome to all the new FTB subscribers, as for whatever reason we had a lot of signups between July and August. For new subscribers (and current ones) - I still have about 30 copies left of Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, and I'll send it to you for free if you fill out this Google Form. I ask for nothing in return except your book, article and movie recommendations. On that point, a big thanks to Andy for sending me The Lost City of Z unprompted, which I devoured over the last week and am listing as my first recommendation for this edition of FTB.

The Lost City of Z

There's a little running joke on the podcast Hello Internet about how every book, movie, etc. is better if you know nothing about it going in. I got this book from Andy in the mail and didn't bother to read the back or anything online - I just started. Perhaps for that reason, The Lost City of Z is the biggest page turner I've read in a long time. Z deep-dives into the life of a late nineteenth century / early twentieth century explorer who mysteriously disappeared - Percy Fawcett. The book really is two stories in one - David Grann (the author's) quest to figure out what happened to Fawcett, and Fawcett's own journey (which Grann tells from a third-person / seems-like-the-present narrative).

Fawcett is a superstar Royal Geographical Society explorer hell-bent on winning an archaeological arms race to uncover the Amazon. If you've seen The Revenant and the circumstances early American fur traders endured - well, this is much worse, and Grann hits all the gory details. Fawcett's diary and log entries alone make this book worth reading, which detail his obsessive quest and constant brushes with death. Maggots living inside human wounds; indigenous tribes firing poisoned arrows; mules dying at the shock of electric eels - me telling you about this book doesn't do it justice.

If you have books like this that are must-reads, let's trade. 

The Inevitable (And a Plug for Audible)

I signed up for Audible a few months back and didn't really find myself using it until Tim Ferriss went through a prolonged podcast drought in mid July. In search of something to listen to on my work commute, I bought The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly on Audible, as the subject material (Understanding the 12 Technological Trends That Will Shape Our Future) seemed high level enough for car listening. Kevin Kelly is a Wired magazine co-founder and author of a number of books about technology, of which this one is the latest. This book is full of stories and theories that will blow your mind - on VR, cloud connectivity, internet of things, AI, etc. Kelly is particularly bullish on AI, and brought to my attention this amazing video of an AI-driven bot improving at Pong. The book runs ~12 hours on Audible with good narration by George Newbern, and if your round trip commute is 40 minutes, you'll finish in 2.5 weeks. 

This last point I think is important, because Audible is an easy way to get around to books you've been putting off reading. The combined time of work commute and standing in lines definitely adds up to an Audible book per month. It's $7.49 for the first month and $14.95 thereafter; completely worth it IMHO. Important note: if you have Audible and haven't used your free "accept a book from a friend" credit, I can send The Inevitable to you for free :-).

The Top One Hundred Movie Project

My friend Trevor and I have been working on ranking our top 100 movies. You can see my full list here. If you have the patience to put together your top 100, email fortheboysclub@gmail.com and maybe we have an FTB Global Top 100 or something. I'm excited about this project because I think it provides some value relative to how I normally choose what movies I want to see - Netflix's recommendation system and Rotten Tomatoes. Ranking forces people to prioritize what movies they really believe to be must-sees.

Three new movies that crawled into my top 100 this month: Revenge of the Electric Car (#4), Shutter Island (#10) and Dead Pool (#36). The last two are pretty well known so I'll pass on details; Revenge of the Electric Car was a recommendation from Grayson that is the best documentary I've seen outside of Meru (#3). The documentary follows Bob Lutz of GM (at the time developing the Chevy Bolt), Carlos Ghosn of Nissan (Nissan Leaf) and Elon Musk of Tesla (Tesla Roadster) in their pursuit of a mass market electric car. It's a great look at the clash of good business and good technology, and definitely worth two hours of your time.

A Few More Picks

- Special thanks to Andrew for sending this article on the merits of Beijing relative to Silicon Valley as a tech hub. The author draws from a lot of personal experience and has some great insights.
- As an unabashed Tesla fan boy, this month was really awesome because of the Elon Musk authored Master Plan, Part Deux and the 2Q earnings call transcript. Tesla is also thinking about a solar roof.
- This appeared in a prior edition of FTB, but thought I'd repost since it's so good and Phelps is winning scores of medals once again - SI on Michael Phelps' 2016 comeback. All hail to the GOAT. 
- It's not often a baseball clip appears on FTB, but Jackie Bradley's Jr.'s cannon outfield assist / double play against the Diamondbacks on Friday is worth a rewatch. He threw this thing 97.7 mph.

Until September,

Ben