The Mental Food Pyramid

This week I finished reading Mean Genes. It’s the fourth book I’ve read this month and I may have found another nudge to read.

I love to read, in part because I’m good at it. Not that I’m smart. I have ample evidence of saying, thinking, and doing dumb things. What I mean, is that I know just enough so that reading isn’t difficult.

For example, I’ve been reading a lot more about biology lately (Mean Genes, Gut Feeling, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf) and how it relates to how we act. I know almost nothing about biology, just ask my wife. However, when I read book after book I start to understand the parts that overlap a little better.

After these books and others I can understand how insulin works in our blood stream. I can visualize our central nervous system. I can imagine the effects of testosterone. This knowledge isn’t enough to pass a college biology course, but like pieces of a puzzle it’s creating small chunks of the big picture.

And I can get even better.

I’ve started to think about the things I consume (books, Twitter, blogs, television, movies, Facebook) like the food pyramid. The longer each one of those things takes, the lower on the pyramid it is.

Books are the base of the pyramid. Tweets are the top. And I match my effort accordingly. That might look like 2 hours of reading and 20 minutes of tweeting.

Having this mental image is a good reminder for why reading is important. It’s not just “oh, I should sit down with a book.” Rather it’s a system where I know that the base needs to be bigger than the top and I act in accordance with that.

What I’ve been reading.

As I mentioned, Mean Genes is a good proxy for the biology I forget/never learned.

I have The Origin of the Species (more biology) and Flash Boys (by Michael Lewis) on my Kindle.

I’ve also rediscovered the wonderful world of government reports and academic papers. My favorite this week was a paper showing that investors who turned over more than 3/4 of their portfolio each year had 6% lower returns than the market overall.

What I’ve been writing.

I posted notes on Scott Galloway and Jason Zweig’s conversations with Barry Ritholtz. Two notes: Zweig is someone I just found and I’m working through his back catalog of writings, he’s very good.

Galloway mentioned that sports apparel (Nike, Under Armor, etc) will outsell denim this year. He’s right! I look around the school when I pick up my kids and – especially with younger kids – there is a lot of athletic apparel. There’s no way those kids will choose jeans as they get older.

At Productivityist I wrote about why time tracking has helped me get-things-done.

// photo is of me sanding my new desk.


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