The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes by Donald D. Hoffman is an absolutely fascinating book that changed the way I look at the world. It posits theories that assert that the world is not what we think it is. It suggests that every experience we have is like a set of icons on a computer screen, simplifying what’s really happening underneath. Hoffman writes that nothing we sense is real, and goes about proving it in a variety of mind-boggling ways.
According to the theory, as we evolved, the way we perceived our unseen and infinitely complex existence has become a simplified interface because the true nature of our existence is too calorically expensive.
All our perceptions and actions have one goal: “fitness payoffs,” which increase the chances of survival of our DNA. Treading the familiar path of Darwinism, this assures that humans most capable of surviving to reproductive age will be most likely to pass along those traits to the next generation.
The most astonishing claim in The Case Against Reality: Space and time do not actually exist, but serve as a user-friendly canvas on which our efforts to obtain fitness payoffs play themselves out. Being a life-long space-and-time dweller, that concept alone stretches my comprehension to its boundaries and beyond.
These ideas are currently turning the world of physics upside down, perhaps changing everything as we know it in the realm of quantum physics and the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness, as well as the Theory of Everything.
I’m eager to see what becomes of this theory and if the truth of our existence emerges from it. In the meantime, this will require a lot of thought, something I greatly value when reading mind-bending books like this. If you’re up for a wild ride, The Case Against Reality is the book for you. Whew!
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress is Steven Pinker‘s masterpiece. If you choose just one of his books to read, this is the one. He takes an optimistic view of the current political and social upheavals plaguing our world and puts them in context with both recent and ancient history.
In his perfect-pitch prose, Pinker makes the case that although many people decry the times in which we live, he disagrees, in essence saying, “let the good times roll.“ He doesn’t think we’re nearing the end of The Enlightenment, either — he thinks it’s a set of ideas and a way of reasoning that can and should be renewed with each successive generation.
He cites numerous statistics showing how people are richer, wealthier, and live longer than any other time in history. There are hundreds of examples that give ample reason for optimism as we navigate this era of confusion and frustration in U.S. and world politics.
Enlightenment Now is a long and dense book, but be sure to read it all the way to the end, because all through this masterful narrative of our society, there are some of the most profound paragraphs, pages and chapters I’ve ever read.
This is one of my favorite books of all time, perhaps my most favorite. I need a long time to think about and sort out all the ideas in this book. After spending the past month reading and studying it, it’s become clear to me that I need to adjust my point of view on many issues. One thing is certain: I will carry with me the ideas, concepts, and most importantly, the way of thinking that I’ve learned in Enlightenment Now for the rest of my life.
If there’s an object in my home that I use every day, I tend to choose that item carefully. But for some reason, I never chose drinking glasses with such discernment … until now. I saw these Duralex Picardie glasses recommended in a trustworthy publication, and I was wondering what all the fuss was about. I decided to order the largest Duralex Picardie tumblers and find out.
Over the past two months, I have been surprised at how wonderful these 17.62 oz (0.52 L) Duralex Picardie tumblers are, and what a difference they’ve made in my quality of life. I hadn’t realized that I had been drinking out of cheap copies of this particular design for all my life. But the subtle difference between those knockoffs and these classic tumblers was significantly noticeable with daily use.
Duralex Made In France Picardie Tumbler Set of 6, 17.62 oz
The delicate rise in the beltline of these glasses — a feature that’s absent in the cheap knockoffs — gives my fingers an inviting place to hold onto. The elegantly flared lip at the top allows a more pleasing interface between glass and mouth. The feel of the glass itself is smoother and easier to grip than any other I’ve encountered. And the impression of bulletproof durability is unmistakeable (even though I’m sure these tumblers are not bulletproof).
The result? A delightful, profoundly different experience while drinking liquids that affects me multiple times every day. It’s hard for me to believe that a mere piece of glassware could be so enjoyable to use, but there it is. I can’t recommend these glasses enough. They’re a delight to have and to hold and they’ve genuinely improved my life by a tiny, yet persistent degree.
This iPulse Minimalist carbon fiber wallet is the smallest wallet I’ve ever seen, and I think it’s excellent. It looks better than it does in these pictures, and it’s literally as small as a wallet can get and still be practical. It’s exactly the width of a credit card. The coolest feature is the way you can pull a little tab and your credit cards are magically offered up to you. Please take a look at this coolness on the video I shot.
It’s hard to photograph the beauty of carbon fiber, but this iPulse Minimalist wallet is certainly attractive with its 3D looks. It’s also so light you can hardly tell you’re holding it in your hand. I get compliments on it anytime anyone sees it — especially when I pull that little tab. And if you don’t like the idea of a minimalist wallet, its RF protection against electronic snooping makes it a perfect business-card or passport case as well.
And the most astonishing thing about it is its price: $19.98 on Amazon. Worth it!
There’s nothing like real leather. That’s what you get with this elegant iPulse card-holder leather case for iPhone X ($24.98). Its compact construction lets the iPhone X seem as slim as it is while allowing room for several credit cards, your driver’s license and a few bills. You’ll be able to go without your wallet!
Looking more closely, you can plainly see the master craftsmanship that went into the creation of this product. It’s simply perfect, with precise stitching along with that natural patina and the unmistakable scent of real leather. Continue reading
My old 120GB SSD was getting way too full, so it was time for an upgrade. What would be the best SSD replacement for a 5-year-old PC? I emailed my trusty PC maker Jon Bach at Puget Systems (who made the best PC I have ever owned) to find out. He recommended this Samsung 850 Pro SSD, one that has never failed on him or any of his customers after installing thousands of these into the computers he sells over the past five years. All that was left was to determine the storage capacity.
Black Friday was right around the corner, so I lay in wait. Sure enough, the price for the Samsung 850 Pro came down about 10% and I jumped for the 1TB version. I was concerned about installation difficulties, mainly migrating all my data from the old drive to the new. My fears were unfounded because Samsung provides a terrific migration software tool. Please note: the easiest way to use this software is to get a cheap $12 USB-to-SATA III adapter for the new SSD, and simply plug it into a USB 3.0 port on your PC. Samsung’s migration software promptly makes a clone for you and then you can replace the old drive with the new. For me, the freshly cloned drive booted up immediately.
At first, it was difficult to tell anything happened. When I looked at my “this PC” window, there was the new drive C, with a huge cornfield’s worth of space waiting for me. Mission accomplished! I did a few tests and this drive is spectacularly fast! I have what feels like limitless space and limitless speed now (look at the impressive CrystalDiskMark scores above — to give you some context, 10 years ago a 50MB/s read/write speed was considered miraculous). Best of all, I got a relatively new-tech drive that formerly retailed for more than $700 for less than $400. I couldn’t be happier with this purchase of the Samsung 850 Pro.
Finally, this crazy era of magical thinking, lies, conspiracy theories and greed makes sense. That’s what Kurt Andersen’s book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History did for me. I feel like I gained crucial wisdom from this brilliant work of nonfiction. He starts 500 years ago and explains in vivid and often humorous detail why Americans are exceptional — and that isn’t a compliment.
Andersen points out how the advertising of the 1600s looked quite different from the way it looks today, but was equally effective. It worked so well, that people starting coming to the New World in astonishing numbers. Because these ancient ad campaigns touted mountains of gold and a Garden of Eden for religious and magical thinking, most of the colonists were self-selected for their greed and gullibility. You can still detect their influence to this day.
This beautifully written book shows how we got to this dangerous and frustrating place, where few can detect falsehoods, nearly everyone has a pet conspiracy theory, people will do anything for money and the vast majority believe in devils, angels, heaven and a sky daddy who keeps them under surveillance 24/7.
Thank you, Mr. Andersen, for enlightening me. Fantasyland turned out to be one of the most illuminating, entertaining and enjoyable books I’ve ever read.
I have the toughest test in the world for a Bluetooth headset that claims to be “noise canceling,” and this one passed the test with astonishing alacrity.
What’s the test? Speech recognition in a noisy environment. When I connected this bluetooth headset to my laptop (an easy, almost immediate task, by the way), it aced my Nuance NaturallySpeaking application with near-perfect accuracy, performing as well as the multitude of specialized, wired USB headsets I’ve tested over the years. That is no small feat.
Then I connected it to my iPhone, turned the music up to 11, and held a telephone conversation in such a cacophonous din I couldn’t even hear my own voice at all. The person I was talking to could hear me so clearly, she couldn’t believe what she thought was “that soft music in the background” was actually blasting at a rock-concert volume level. We could also clearly hear each other talking at the same time we each were talking (known as dual duplex). Remarkable.
Beyond that, the headset is so comfortable I almost forgot I had it on, and it’s nice and light but doesn’t look or feel cheap. I love it. No wonder this product is aimed at truck drivers. It would work with the loudest truck in the world rumbling underneath you. It’s a keeper. Buy it.