Book Club

Living With Liberty Book Club

The Living With Liberty Book Club is a collection of recommended reads that engage, inspire, and shape our thinking in our journey to preserving our Constitutional Republic.

Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail by William Ophuls offers up a poignant explanation as to why civilizations fail. He goes step by step through six reasons that lead to civilization collapse. The book is an easy read, and could be read within a day or two as it is about 70 pages of material. It offers up a word of caution as to what will happen should our civilization reverse it’s current course.

The six reasons Ophuls offers up are evident in today’s society. The first he offers is ecological exhaustion, as cities and industrial farms wreak havoc on our environment. Civilizations try to innovate around these problems but are unable to Ophuls notes. The second reason for civilization failure Ophuls notes is exponential growth. Our inability to truly understand the compounding growth of society, from people to ever sprawling cities. The third reason noted by Ophuls in societal collapse is expedited entropy. This relates to the ever diminishing returns on the energy around us, from fossil fuels to the farm fields themselves. The fourth reason is excessive complexity. Quite simply, this is the continued attempts at solving every little societal ill, which in the end leads to a civilization that becomes ungovernable because of all the rule and regulations put in place. There comes a point that it is impossible to follow. The fifth reason is moral decay. This is exactly as stated, the civilization loses its moral compass and descends into a society with no principle on which to stand, and when there is no principles to stand on, the society has no foundation and collapses. The final reason is practical failure. This is simply the failure of all institutions to live up to their intended functions. They become so corrupted and unprincipled they collapse on themselves and leave society to it’s own devices. Immoderate Greatness offers up the warnings of impending society collapse, well worth the read for anyone interested in preserving our current way of life.

Implicit Biases and the Unconscious by Dr. Robert Mather dives into the reasons why we stereotype people and what we can do to correct wayward biases. Dr. Mather breaks down the psychological concepts in easy to understand terms for those of us who are not familiar with the realm of social psychology, and the book has a nice flow to it in terms of reading.

The first four chapters of the book are dedicated to outlining and explaining the concepts of Social Psychology. These key concepts are explained well for the layman, and allow for the reader to see and understand them in action in the later parts of the book where Dr. Mather utilizes various research articles to illustrate the use of the concepts. Key concepts covered in the first four chapters are automaticity, which is what we do without awareness, chronic accessibility, the habitual processing of categories or concepts, and goal-dependent automaticity, where intentional control launches the process without our awareness. Chapter 4 ends the first section of the book with practical ways on how we can correct our biases and stereotypes.

The second part of the book is dedicated to seeing the concepts presented in the first four chapters in action. Perhaps my favorite example Dr. Mather uses to illustrate some of the concepts is the Arab-Israeli Conflict. It outlines the competing ideologies between the two groups, and why there has been such a struggle to come to terms on a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Dr. Mather ends the chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict with thought provoking questions for the reader on how they would utilize the concepts of Social Psychology to bring about a workable solution between the two groups.

Other topics in the second part of the book include liberal bias in Social Psychology, how American conservatism can save Social Psychology from irrelevance, building a politically tolerant Social Psychology science, implementing mindfulness in the workplace, implicit racial attitudes and their roles in policing, and finishes the discussion with the biases we see in politics, and the impact of those biases on voters and media. Dr. Mather brings to the forefront biases we all have, and practical ways we can be more aware of them, and correct them as needed.

Dumbing Us Down is a collection of speeches and essays by John Taylor Gatto that relate his experiences as a New York City school teacher. As a point of reference, the first publication of this book was 30 years ago. Each speech and essay tackles a particular way that our public schools institution hinders our kids intellectual growth. The first chapter goes through seven lessons that school teachers teach, among them are confusion, emotional and intellectual dependency. Gatto closes out the first chapter outlining how to bring competition to the public school monopoly.

The second chapter gives the history of how compulsory schooling started. Gatto makes the argument in this chapter on that schools teach nothing more that how to obey orders. Gatto also explains how through schooling and homework, we monopolize kids’ time leaving them little time for self exploration and forming their own self identity. Gatto notes that some of the results of this is children who are not curious and who are cruel to each other.

The third chapter is actually an anecdotal essay of Gatto’s childhood, and what led him to become a teacher. Gatto outlines how he left his high paying high potential job in advertising to become a teacher. The chapter closes with a story on how Gatto, who was a substitute teacher at the time, fought for a student who should have been in the higher ability reading class. Years later that student went on to be an award winning teacher herself.

The last two chapters of the book are dedicated to why less school is better and how to use the Congregational Principle to solve the problems with traditional public schools. Gatto covers the corruption of institutional education in chapter four, and how mass education is detrimental to truly educating society, and in chapter five, outlines utilizing the Congregational Principle (which at its core says that good things happen to the human spirit when it is left alone) to reform education in the United States. Less school, along with letting kids explore their world and allow them the time and space to figure out who they are, is the best recipe for educating kids and increasing their intellectual ability and capability.

Measure What Matters is a collection of real world case studies about how various companies and organizations utilize Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to stretch beyond the normal incremental improvements to the achievement of objectives that are transformative for an organization or cause.

Andy Grove invented OKRs at Intel in the 1970’s. The power of OKRs was on full display in 1980 when Intel was battling Motorola for memory chip supremacy. Intel utilized OKRs to mobilize the entire company around the common goal of establishing their chip as the preferred memory chip in the marketplace. Utilizing OKRs took all the guess work out of what was to be priority. OKRs had every member of the company focused in their day to day activities on what mattered most in achieving the goal of capturing the memory chip market, and provided the answers to how resources should be allocated. End result was Intel captured the memory chip market and by 1986 when Intel had exited the memory chip market in favor of microprocessors, they held 85% of the memory chip market.

There are numerous other case studies in the book on how OKRs have been used to focus organizations and causes on the things that matter most in achieving a specific goal. It’s not only large companies like Google that use them, there are many stories of small companies and start-ups using them as well. Companies like Remind, who’s CEO utilized OKRs to overcome his ADD and create a successful company focused on helping those students who were like him. There’s the case of Zume Pizza who used OKRs to get their mobile pizza made by robots business focused and competing with the traditional pizza delivery companies in their area quickly (that has since been shuttered the pizza business and moved into food packaging and delivery systems).

OKRs are not just limited to business applications. We can use them in our everyday life to focus our efforts on what matters most in achieving our personal goals, whether it be saving for that vacation or organizing activist efforts in petitioning our elected officials for change. They will help bring clarity of purpose to any effort to be undertaken, and keep us focused on achieving our desired end result.

A series of short books that do a deep dive into what we weren’t/aren’t being told in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic by bureaucrats and legacy media. Book 1 is a review of the data surrounding the death counts and estimates as well as infection rates. Berenson also outlines how the legacy media continued to pump up the worst of the cases, which flew in the face of what the actual data was suggesting about the severity of the outbreak, and it’s impact on society as a whole. Book 2 covers the lockdowns, and their lack of effectivity in preventing the spread of the virus. Berenson advises how the costs of the lockdowns far outweighed the benefits of doing so. Book 3 investigates the ineffectiveness of masks through well documented research. The biggest and most telling study was one done by Danish researchers that covered 5,000 people, 2,500 were provided with high quality surgical masks, the other 2,500 went maskless. At the end of the study, infection rates between the two groups were statistically identical. All of the books are extremely quick reads and outline the facts for clear and quick comprehension.

Book 4 was released at the end of March 2021 and covers vaccines.

A biography following the life of Vincent T. Lombardi, starting as a child in Sheepshead Bay, chronicling his journey to Fordham University as one of the Seven Blocks of Granite, and outlining his struggle to break into the head coaching ranks of the National Football League. Lombardi was first and foremost a teacher, but had an iron will, was extremely disciplined, and a healthy disdain for losing. Every team he had coached realized success in some form, including the basketball team he coached for a season at St. Cecelia’s, which could only be characterized as Lombardi imposing his will to succeed on that team as he admitted he knew nothing about basketball.

It was thought that Lombardi may have actually been bi-polar as he cycled between very high highs and very low lows. Some of the lowest of lows are seen in some of his reactions after losing a big game, or even in preparations leading up to a big game, as some of the highs are certainly seen in winner those big games, but also in the effort displayed by his teams in losing efforts. It was perhaps this characteristic that continued to drive Lombardi to achieve success.

Everything Lombardi hated about himself, he drove out of his players. Lombardi was an oft-injured player in is football career at Fordham, so he drove his players to push through the pain and get on the field. He wasn’t perfect (no human is), yet he wasn’t afraid to trade talented players who did not buy into the program of working towards perfection, and drove his players toward perfection, and would be more upset at a sloppy win versus a hard fought loss. There was not an ounce of quit in Vince Lombardi, and he expected his players to have the same mental toughness, something we would do well to emulate today.

There are many lessons to be learned from Lombardi, from what is mentioned above in pushing through the pain, to the 7 themes that he structured his public speeches around. This book puts in perspective what can be achieved through perseverance and sheer will.