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David A's Books of interest

Books and more books

A few books have impressed enough that I heartily recommend whenever I can. These are not the "Great Books" of traditional western literature. They are exclusively in English, so that narrows the view. These are recent and speak of things that were not necessarily well understood before.

For January 2019 I added "The Plant Paradox Cookbook" near the top of the list. There's nothing more important than your health and the only way to be long-term healthy (without deprivation!) is to read and act on what Gundry or Perlmutter have to say. Seriously. (Full Disclosure: I have no financial interest in anything related to Dr. Gundry or Dr. Perlmutter.)

If you wonder why the general medical community does not embrace the plant-based approach to health read the last chapters of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's book "The China Study" (the revised edition), though Campbell does not discuss the food science of specific foods at all in the book. There are interesting points on the relationship of the medical community (not just doctors) with foods and health throughout the book.

I suggest reading Gundry before looking at people opposing his work. From the opposers you would think Gundry recommends really strange foods should be eaten, but actually he's recommending normal food available at a grocery store. It's not difficult to find youtube videos opposing Gundry's approach. The two I watched (life is short, there are more I am sure) are somewhat different. One exaggerates Gundry's positions and debunks the exaggeration. And complains about the lack of human studies, but for *his* patients and diet program mentions no such human studies. A second one misstates the Gundry program too with exaggeration and in addition quotes human studies which are actually "medical reductionism" studies which Dr. T. Colin Campbell thoroughly debunks in "The China Study".

The David Perlmutter book(s) are proof that the medical community is beginning to grasp the now well-researched problems with grains and sugar.

The first book listed is now "World On Fire" followed by six Food/Health books and then the more general list.

Author Title Genre Comments
Amy Chua World On Fire Current Events, Riots, Terrorism "How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability." Published 2003. In many countries an ethnic minority controls the wealth and power. That minority is reviled, though governments can temporarily suppress revolt and rioting. While there is no US ethnic minority in control, US is reviled: US money and power appear to the rest of the world as a controlling minority. There is thorough coverage of the many specific situations across the world -- and the history that creates the hatred in the countries and regions. The last few pages are mild suggestions (with caveats) of things Ms. Chua thinks could help the world be more peaceful and more broadly prosperous.
Steven Gundry, MD The Plant Paradox Cookbook Food, Eating, Health Published 2018. This has a shorter version of the science of food and nutrition updated with the latest new information. If you want the long explanation read "The Plant Paradox". But this one is better edited and simply looks prettier on every page. It's a joy to read and it's time you too changed your diet. After a few weeks you will realize you feel better all day and have better energy all day without any low-energy periods (even after 18+ hours with no food when you choose to fast). Your craving for sugar will (I predict) vanish and simple things like drinking a glass of good water will taste better. Amazing.
Steven Gundry, MD The Plant Paradox Food, Eating, Health Published 2017. Humans know a lot more about foods and the human body than we knew just ten years ago. This book gives a new eating paradigm (and references earlier 'diets' along the way). We can be healthier, slimmer, and live longer. The book is about 250 pages of explanation followed by 150 pages of recipes. After we started on the program (and started mentioning it to people) we learned one friend had come back from a trip to Africa (eating local food there) with an inflamed liver that did not respond to medical treatment. Three months on the Gundry program healed her liver. Another friend has endometriosis and has found the diet is the only thing that reduces her pain and tiredness enough to let her get out of bed. The diet eliminates Judy's arthritis pain. You owe it to yourself to read this book and decide for yourself.
David Perlmutter, MD Grain Brain Food, Eating, Health Published 2013. Perlmutter has more recent books too and these need to be on the list. He documents the many and severe bad effects of eating grains and eating sugar/fruit. Goes into more detail in some areas than Gundry on the science that documents the ill effects of grains (which, he points out, are worse now than 100 years ago do to hybridization efforts focusing on production, not human health). It is fine writing. Page 224 has a nice short list of supplements that will help cognition (though they won't avail one much unless one goes off of grain and sugar). One distinction from Gundry is that Perlmutter never discusses seeds and never supports Gundry's Plant Paradox conundrum: I personally think that's an oversight. But otherwise he and Gundry are on the same program of fixing health without drugs. Perlmutter has historical notes here and there pointing out that ancient people did not have our modern ills and that a first-century doctor documents Celiacs (the early doctor writings were misconstrued until recently).
David Perlmutter, MD Brain Maker Food, Eating, Health Here Perlmutter gets deeply into how our biome is crucial to our health. Lots of new science.
David Perlmutter, MD Grain Brain: Whole Life Plan Food, Eating, Health In the third book, published 2016, Perlmutter gets deeply into even more recent science.
Erica Franz Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know Current Events, Dictatorship Though a bit dry the book is important for everyone to read. It uses the hundreds of instances of regime-change from 1946 to 2014 as the database and analyses the causes and results. The section on how an elected leader turns the country into a dictatorship lists many actions and it appears that D.Trump is using essentially every one of those many techniques (one example is calling things the leader does not like 'fake news', another is packing the entire leadership with cronys and relatives). I think S. Bannon and S. Miller are the architects of this. Hundreds of democracies have been changed to dictatorship. Do not assume it cannot happen in the US.
Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts Network Propaganda Politics, Internet, Propaganda Published 2018. Using vast amounts of available data and lots of clever charts and graphs the authors show that US election results are due to the asymmetry of reporting in the media people read. While other effects (Facebook, Twitter, Russia) are real the main effect is the 30% of the population that never hears what the mainstream has to say. Or rather the major media message is heard and discounted. Be prepared for a book full of very long sentences. IMO the message here is important to read. The suggestions to major media on how to deal with the asymmetry seem absolutely on target to me.
Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, Gene Kim Accelerate Software, Organizations, Teams What is now called DevOps is part of a team-wide or organization-wide way of working that accelerates quality software development and improves the lives of the developers and managers. For CEOs and CTOs this book is a how-to on moving ahead of your competitors, most of whom will not read this book. For software managers and team members it is about producing quality work on an accelerated schedule with less stress and an improved quality-of-life. This is about teams and companies, not about coding. It's recommendations are based on world-wide surveys of real organizations. A significant part of the book is about surveys: how to create useful ones and how to get confidence the results shown are real.
Jonathan Haidt The Righteous Mind Current Events, Evolution Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second. This 2012 book is based on the very latest careful research on how people actually think and behave. From the Introduction: "Politics and religion are both expressions of our underlying moral psychology, and an understanding of that psychology can help to bring people together. [...] My hope is that this book will make conversations about morality, politics, and religion more common, more civil, and more fun, even in mixed company." Lots of careful work in recent decades has resulted in significant insights as to how we think and reason. Not the internal clockworks of how brain signaling works, but the big issue: why we think as we do. Whatever side we are on... of anything. A must-read for everyone with any interest in thinking, in the role of morality in society, or in current events.
Ta-nehisi Coates We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy History, Current Events This is an outstanding presentation of a key aspect of the last 450 years on the North American continent, the oppression of the Blacks. Wonderful writing. The parts about Barack and Michelle Obama illustrate how different BHO's upbringing was compared to Blacks generally an how similar M. Obama's experiences were to many other Blacks. It has a detailed explanation about the serial oppression of blacks over time by force and law, an oppression that continues today (Example: Ferguson Missouri). A must-read for everyone in the US. What should be done? Reparations.
Howard Zinn A People's History of the United States History History books commonly ignore much of the impact of the past on ordinary people. Howard Zinn, history professor at Boston University decided (at his retirement) that this was a vital topic that needed covering. This 700 page book is the result. It covers about 400 years of history of the Americas. It will completely change your view of US history in several ways. One critical thing: every important improvement in people's lives (meaning every step along the long road to someday implement what the US Constitution promises) is the result of protest movements, not of calm reasoning. Protest movements work. Everyone living in the US should read it. Others may find it illuminating too.
Chris Hayes A Colony in a Nation History,Justice The colonies here are the areas where non-whites are forced into cohesive areas to live (by housing and lending practices) while the white power structure retains control (political and police control). There are examples in every major US city. Ferguson, Missouri is an example. There are many more examples. Hayes describes how the white power structure keeps non-whites 'under control' with laws and police and jails. He debunks the most popular explanation of the fall in crime since 1992 (broken windows). He clarifies how the system conflates 'disorderly' with 'criminal'. And clarifies what the 'criminal justice' system really does in the colonies (hint: the mission is not to protect the citizens of a colony). He does not prescribe solutions to the hard problems.
Edmund Fawcett Liberalism: The Life of an Idea Philosophy, History Liberalism is fundamentally misunderstood in the US and this book informs on its real meaning and history. The idea was born about 1830. Fawcett says, in the Preface "Liberalism as I take it here was a search for an ethically acceptable order of human progress among civic equals without recourse to undue power." But you have to read the book to understand the history of liberalism and indeed, the meaning of liberalism. You will not find a genuine definition of Liberalism in the main-stream media. You will find one in this book.
J.D. Vance Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis History It makes the situation in much of the U.S. with people of Scots-Irish descent understandable. J.D. Vance grew up in that culture but with help from others (including family) grew out of the culture trap (while retaining his love of the people). A must read if you want to understand an important part of current politics. These are people who need help but who will resist changing and resist help. He struggles with the culture trap and some things people say force him to struggle with a strong impulse to simply beat the speaker to a pulp as that is what people do in that culture. Do not insult his mother even in jest, it is both gross (in modern conversation) and dangerous (to the speaker's health and well-being). Note that Vance downplays the importance of the federal dollars going to help people there. He makes something of the people cheating on Food Stamps to buy drugs but no credit to the government for providing the Food Stamps. Nor does he give the government credit for creating the schools, roads, etc that underpin his personal achievements. The dollars that helped him at crucial times in his childhood are just 'vague old-age payments' to his grandmother. Such omissions take nothing from his laudable accomplishments, but one does need to take a wider view, as a reader.
John Lewis. Andrew Aydin. Nate Powell. March History A graphic (illustrated) life story of John Lewis in three books. John Lewis of the towering figures in the too-slow progression of getting full rights to the Black citizens of the US. I was a bit worried about the graphic aspect. But it is exceedingly well done and the graphics add a real impact. While it may be aimed at younger readers (the graphic aspect) it is meaningful for those of any age (even old fogies like me). Wonderful. I hope to pass the set on to my nephews when they are young teens (not too long now).
Peter Singer Ethics in the Real World Philosophy This collection of Singer's essays has an important explanation of where morality comes from (hint: not religion).
Clayton Christensen Competing Against Luck Business This follow-on to The Innovator's Dilemma actually answers the question of how a business can survive. The key phrase is "Jobs To Be Done" and reading the book will tell you what that means and how it matters.
Steven Pinker The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined History, Sociology In the first and second quarters of the book Pinker shows, from the historical record, how violence has declined. The impression one gets from the media (about violence) is misleading. Fascinating tables of violence over human history. The third quarter, about the brain, I found uninteresting and could not see strong connections with the rest of the book. The fourth quarter is again wonderful.
Charles C. Mann 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus History There were a lot more people living in South and Central America than your history books said there were. And all those jungles were, essentially, planted gardens. So the way species are intermingled in the jungles is the intent of the many millions of folks who lived there. (Precis: Europeans first exterminated nearly everyone and destroyed all written records in South America and then decided the tattered remnants of civilization meant there never had been civilization)
Charles C. Mann 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created History Extends Alfred Crosby's "The Columbian Exchange" and "Ecological Imperialism" with recent scholarship those books provoked. Columbus started the movement of people and things across the world. Wonderful book.
Paul N. Edwards A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. Science, Politics When climate investigations started (1850 or so) and how it has all proceeded in a semi-chronological order. There is no data without models, it turns out. Models (almost) all the way down. Winner, 2010 ASLI Choice Award in the History category, awarded by Atmospheric Science Librarians International. Winner, 2011 Computer History Museum Prize, awarded by the Society for the History of Technology Winner, 2012 Louis J. Battan Authors Award, awarded by the American Meteorological Society.
Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming Science, Politics The denial of science in an organized way started around 1950. The deniers were cold-war warriors (well, US Government weapons physicists) and well organized and hated government and believed any regulation is a move to socialism and communism. The original denier-organization (whose first campaign was to pretend cigarette smoking was non-harmful then moved on to denying DDT was harmful and now denies global warning and more) is still around, renamed, though now oil and coal companies fund many additional groups. Their one-page attack-on-science plan is still in use -- a brilliant and amoral plan. Oreskes and Conway are historians.
Robbert Dijkgraaf and Abraham Flexner The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge Science, Learning, Politics Now, when science and learning are threatened in so many places (definitely including the USA) it's important to again read and hear why basic research (useless knowledge) is so important. Einstein's theory of relativity was useless to the ordinary citizen for 100 years. But today GPS depends on it: without it a GPS location would drift seven miles in a single day. Dijkgraaf is part of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. Flexner founded the IAS in 1933.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.