in: Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends: June 2, 2023

Reading Notes on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Democracy in America was written nearly 200 years ago, but Tocqueville’s insights about America still seem fresh and relevant today. Democracy in America is a giant tome of a book, so if you’re looking for the highlights to dip your toes into this classic, check out the extensive reading notes that writer Jonathan Bi has published online.

True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer. Eric Hoffer was an interesting cat. He worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco in the 1940s. He wrote his first book, True Believer, while living in the railroad yards. It became a bestseller after Dwight Eisenhower quoted from it during a press conference in the 1950s. In True Believer, Hoffer grapples with the question of why people get caught up in destructive mass movements like Nazism or Communism. One of his insights that has since been validated by modern research is that for some people, just being bored with life is a big reason they get involved in political movements. Check out my podcast on the psychology of boredom with psychologist James Danckert where we discuss this finding

PBfit Peanut Butter Powder. Want the taste and protein of peanut butter without the fat? Check out PBfit peanut butter powder. A single serving will give your smoothie the taste of peanut butter and 8 grams of protein but only has 60 calories. I’ve been adding PBfit to my oatmeal and yogurt, as well as my afternoon protein shakes. Tastes pretty dang good.

Almost Famous: I Was the Next Colonel Sanders. KFC Had Other Plans. H. Salt Fish & Chips was a fast food empire in the 1960s. At one point, there were 500 restaurants around the United States, and the company’s founder, Hadson Salt, was a celebrity. But that all came to a sudden halt after he sold his company to KFC. This short video gives a poignant retelling of the rise and fall of H. Salt Fish & Chips and is a reminder that while you might be on top of the world one day, the wheel of fortune can spin you to the bottom the next. Hadson Salt seems to have taken the spin gracefully and offers some Kierkegaardian advice at the end of the doc. 

Quote of the Week

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

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