You must read Crimes against Logic

Jamie Whyte’s angry and witty rant against the rhetoric, faulty reasoning and misinformation we are subjected to from all sources is fascinating, enlightening and fun. The book is a quick read and will equip you with the tools you need to become a staunch defender of truth.

You can buy it at:

Morality in Primates

The New York Times had a very interesting article on morality in primates. As many primates display empathy, understand who has done them favors, display altruistic behavior and take into consideration the greater good of their group when resolving disputes, they are displaying some of the required building blocks for morality.

You can read the entire article at:

Youtube: I told you so :)

In a previous post (, I mentioned that my biggest concern with the Google / Youtube deal was not the valuation, but copyright issues. Now that Viacom has sued Google for $1 billion, those fears seem validated.

That said, traditional media companies probably don’t want to alienate their viewers too much by refusing to embrace the web so chances are that they will settle for a large dollar amount plus a licensing deal.

I wonder how much of the $1.65 billion was put in escrow to be used against copyright claims…

Happiness and the dangers of belief in the written word :)

It’s interesting how gullible we humans are. If we read something or watch it in a documentary, we are more likely to believe it. Then there is the magic of Google. If you write enough on a topic, you start showing up in search results on the topic – regardless of how much you really know. Soon enough someone comes along taking you for an expert in the field and asks to interview you.

And so I was pleasantly surprised to be mistaken for an “International Expert on Happiness” and asked to answer a few questions. I started by telling my interviewer that she was up for a big disappointment if she thought I was an expert on happiness, but decided to play along.

I reproduce some of my answers below for your reading pleasure 🙂

How would you define happiness?

Happiness is an emotional or affective state that is characterized by feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction. As such, like being in love, you are either happy or not, but don’t necessarily know why – you just are. As a result, many people define happiness as things they do or have, as Charlie Brown does below:

From You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
(Clark Gesner)

Happiness is finding a pencil.
Sleeping in moon light.
Telling the time.
Happiness is learning to whistle.
Tying your shoe
For the very first time.
Happiness is playing the drum
In your own school band.
And happiness is walking hand in hand.

Happiness is two kinds of ice cream.
Knowing a secret.
Climbing a tree.
Happiness is five different crayons.
Catching a firefly.
Setting him free.
And happiness is being alone every now and then.
And happiness is coming home again.

Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and nighttime too.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.

Happiness is having a sister.
Sharing a sandwich.
Getting along.
Happiness is singing together
When day is through,
And happiness is those who sing with you.

Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and nighttime too.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.

However, while doing those things makes Charlie Brown happy – sometimes – they may not work for you.

What do you consider to be an important step toward happiness?

Despite what I said above there are clear deliberate steps you can take towards being happy.


  1. Don’t equate happiness with money.
  2. Don’t commute.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Have lots of sex.
  5. Devote time and effort to close relationships.
  6. Pause for reflection, meditate on the good things in life (in other words be grateful).
  7. Seek work that engages your skills, look to enjoy your job.
  8. Give your body the sleep it needs.
  9. Don’t pursue happiness for its own sake, enjoy the moment.
  10. Take control of your life, set yourself achievable goals (in other words have goals).
  11. Have an optimistic attitude and outlook on life.

You might argue that things like “being grateful” are not easy to do, but even something as artificial as writing three good things that happened to you today in a notebook every day has been proven to work extremely well!

Do you believe it is possible for an individual to be truly content most of the time?

Absolutely! Many people are generally happy just because – based on a combination of their upbringing and genes. However, even if by default you were only of average happiness, you can take the 11 deliberate steps mentioned above to make you significantly happier.

Non-sequiturish conclusion: The average academic journal article is read by 7 people, including the author’s mom. Maybe the real experts should be writing blogs 🙂

The Science of Happiness

I recently came across an interesting article on the science of happiness in Harvard Magazine recounting the emergence of “positive psychology” as a field of study, its findings and the emergence of new research areas such as the study of joy instead of happiness.

Many of the findings will be familiar to the readers of my previous posts on happiness. However, a few of the research results were surprising such as the fact that having kids tends to slightly decrease happiness.

Here are two interesting paragraphs:

“Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman of Princeton (see “The Marketplace of Perceptions,” March-April 2006, page 50) asked thousands of subjects to keep diaries of episodes during a day—including feelings, activities, companions, and places—and then identified some correlates of happiness. “Commuting to work was way down there—people are in a terrible mood when they commute,” Etcoff says. “Sleep has an enormous effect. If you don’t sleep well, you feel bad. TV watching is just OK, and time spent with the kids is actually low on the mood chart.” Having intimate relations topped the list of positives, followed by socializing—testimony to how important the “need to belong” is to human satisfaction.”

“Gilbert reconsiders his grandmother’s advice on how to live happily ever after: “Find a nice girl, have children, settle down.” Research shows, he says, that the first idea works: married people are happier, healthier, live longer, are richer per capita, and have more sex than single people. But having children “has only a small effect on happiness, and it is a negative one,” he explains. “People report being least happy when their children are toddlers and adolescents, the ages when kids require the most from the parents.” As far as settling down to make a living—well, if money moves you into the middle class, buying food, warmth, and dental treatment—yes, it makes you happier. “The difference between an annual income of $5,000 and one of $50,000 is dramatic,” Gilbert says. “But going from $50,000 to $50 million will not dramatically affect happiness. It’s like eating pancakes: the first one is delicious, the second one is good, the third OK. By the fifth pancake, you’re at a point where an infinite number more pancakes will not satisfy you to any greater degree. But no one stops earning money or striving for more money after they reach $50,000.”

Inside Facebook is a fun, quick read that allows you to experience the startup spirit!

Reading the book, I felt like I was reading about the first two years of almost every startup I have been involved with. The names of the people and product were different, but the ethos and spirit was truly there. I suppose it’s partly that spirit that keeps me going back and starting from scratch over and over again!

The book’s self-help parts are annoying and the story would have been stronger if it focused only on Facebook, but that aside Inside Facebook, with its compelling characters and a story line on the way to fairy tale ending, is extremely fun and energizing!

Why people believe in God

The NY Times just published a great article called “Darwin’s God” discussing why people believe in God. It’s a great complement to reading the enlightening and entertaining “The God Delusion.”

While there are some scientific debates, especially on the evolutionary components of religion, it seems that our three fundament mental frameworks and cognitive tools – agent detection, causal reasoning and theory of mind – predispose us to belief.

Read the full article at:

Warren Buffet’s 2006 Letter to his Shareholders

I have been a fan of Warren Buffet’s letter to his shareholders for many years. It is clear, concise, honest, often funny, and provides insight into many matters outside of Berkshire Hathaway. The 2006 version is no exception to the rule.

You should also check out the full Berkshire Hathaway annual report at: