Tiger of the Snows, the autobiography of Tenzing of Everest
by Tenzing Norgay, with James Ramsey Ullman, 1955
Very interesting throughout. The autobiography of the Sherpa who summited Everest with Hilary in 1953. Tenzing was born in Nepal and raised in India and went on lots of different expeditions with both Easterners and Westerners, so he learned to speak a lot of languages. He knew English well enough to dictate the book to the writer Ullman, which was necessary because, despite speaking many languages, Tenzing could not read or write. His native Sherpa language does not have a written form.
It took the work of hundreds of porters, Sherpas, and climbers and a lot of oxygen tanks to get two people to the top of Everest. Ambitious endeavor. I don’t think I would like being in such wind/cold for weeks at a time and having to climb ice tethered to other climbers. I’ll stick with the more reasonable peaks I’ve done in Colorado.
Interesting note about the copy of the book I have: I got it from my dad when everyone moved out of my childhood house a couple years ago. It’s a library copy from the Pikeville, KY High School Library, with a 14-day checkout occurring to Mike Webb on October 27, 1970. Oops. What’s the statute of limitations on that fine?
Powering the Future: How we will (eventually) solve the energy crisis and fuel the civilization of tomorrow
by Robert B. Laughlin, 2011
An interesting little book full of tidbits that make you say “What?!”. Lots of best-guesses about what will happen when fossil fuels are exhausted in the coming centuries. Laughlin has a smart way to think about it: certain already developed technologies will provide a ceiling on energy/electricity costs that new technologies will have to beat to be competitive.
The book has 122 pages of text and 91 pages of notes, so you go in depth on a lot of the claims if you wanted. I did not do this.
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
by Michael Lewis, 2012
I listened to this book on tape, and it was more entertaining than I was expecting. You get to hear Michael Lewis making fun of Icelandic, Irish, and Greek people. You get to understand a little bit about what caused their meltdowns and cultural inefficiencies. And you get to make fun of California at the end.
Energy for Future Presidents
by Richard A. Muller, 2013
I highly recommend this book as an even-handed look at new energy technologies and as a suggestion for future energy policies. It has a good discussion of shale gas and oil, nuclear energy, climate change, energy security, promising renewables, and not-so-promising innovations (hydrogen fuel cells, electric vehicles, etc). Very well-written.
This book provides a high-level overview of current energy efficiency efforts and possible future solutions. I found it to be one of those books that emphasizes breadth instead of depth, trying to cover everything at least a little bit. This led to the feeling that nothing important was being said, and I ended up quickly skimming most of the book.
The End of Asymmetric Information: Various monitoring and commitment devices that are leading to a decrease in asymmetric information in business dealings. This leads to a decline in moral hazard situations, less principal-agent asymmetry, and an increase in the use of escrow systems.