Do I Make Myself Clear?

The book, Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters by Harold Evans, should be required reading for all writers. This includes authors, journalists, bloggers, and twitter users.

The author is a legendary editor who has been knighted by the Queen of England. Throughout the book, Mr. Evans provides good and bad examples, revisions, and different tips.

He suggests 10 rules to write well:

  1. Get moving: avoid passive voice; cast sentences in the active voice.
  2. Be specific: eschew abstract words in favor of specific words.
  3. Ration adjectives, raze adverbs: ask yourself: is the adjective really necessary to define the subject of the sentence? Does the adverb really enhance the verb or adjective?
  4. Cut the fat, check the figures: avoid verbosity; write as concisely as possible.
  5. Organize for clarity: use parallel structure to put things that belong together.
  6. Be positive: write assertive sentences; even a negative should be expressed in a positive form.
  7. Don’t be a bore: eschew monotony by implementing different sentence structures.
  8. Put people first: make sentence bear directly on the reader.
  9. The pesky prepositions: use prepositions appropriately — they are the workhorses that link nouns; they tell us when, where, why, and how.
  10. Down with monologophobia (fear of using the same word twice in a sentence or successive sentences): do not develop other nouns when a pronoun will work just fine.

The Righteous Mind

I really liked this book! I highly encourage all Americans to read this book. It helps keep things in perspective – helps to understand where ideas develop from those who have different opinions than you do. It even helped me understand my own default positions better. In the end, this book does what most other political type books do not – bring people together. Being able to understand the other person’s perspective, world paradigm, values, and ethics opens the door to conversation, collaboration, and unity.

In summary, this book describes why people are divided by politics and religion.

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Moving Forward

There are 3 rules:

  1. If you do not go after you want, you will never have it.
  2. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.
  3. If you to not step forward, you will remain in the same place.

I found this anonymous and random quote on the Internet a while back.

It reminds me to be strong and courageous – extraordinary lives require people to step out into uncertainty, knowing there are unknown risks, and give it a hearty attempt.

As I like to say, “Go Big!”

(Jos 1:9)

“If there is one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own.”

Henry Ford

Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life

 

I listened to the audiobook of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected by Jason Hanson. This book is written by a guy who is likely over prepared, but should an exceedingly rare event occur to him, he will be ready.

He does have some good advice sprinkled throughout and I took some notes:

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Visual Intelligence

This is one of my favorite books I’ve read. It is a great how to book and will improve your observation skills, situational awareness, and communication skills.

The book, Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life, is written by Amy E. Herman who is an art historian and a lawyer. She teaches others to use observation in their everyday life for both work and personal improvement. I highly encourage all to read this book. As a side benefit, it will increase your appreciation for art.

Below I will quote parts of the book and make notes for my future reference.

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The Undoing Project

This book (The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis)  centers around the story of a friendship between Daniel K ahneman and Amos Tversky. The story moves steadily and is quite a page turner following the development of these two geniuses whose ideas really gelled through their collaboration. Their careers have affected more than the world of psychology and reach into the world I am familiar with (medicine) as well as economics, aeronautics, engineering, politics, and more. We have all been influenced by the research and findings of these two heavyweights, and this story is a fun and enlightening read describing their struggles, life experiences, research, and findings.

In the past, I read the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, which was written by Kahneman. I did not realize what a brilliant mind he was and now want to re-read that book. Maybe now I will understand the content better!

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The Upside of Inequality

This book, The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class, written by Edward Conard, is a heavy book on economics.

I enjoyed this book and its content. It makes sense to me and he describes my concerns with the quantitative easing season we recently went through in our country.

My criticism is with his writing style. Without a base interest in the subject, you might not get through this book. The book hits you with point after point after point. Just as soon as something clicks and you have an aha moment, you get drowned in more economics.

In the end, if you think the best thing for our country is redistribution of wealth, this book will challenge your thoughts. If you think the only fair situation is to give more to tax the rich more to help the poor, this book will challenge your ideas.

Mr. Conard describes how through the use of the stimulus mentality, we might have slowed our recovery, through our undisciplined absorption of many immigrants we have slowed both our and the worlds economical growth, yet we still managed to find jobs for these immigrants and grow our economy nonetheless.

This book is both optimistic and pessimistic. Whether you agree or disagree with the political side these economic ideas seem to reside on, it is a good read for theory and understanding from a different perspective.