Churchill – Walking with Destiny

Churchill – Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts is for people who have an exceeding amount of enthusiasm about Winston Churchill. Its 982 pages (excluding extra notes) are certainly not for the faint hearted. Some time during last winter, this book was gifted to me by a very generous soul who truly understands and tolerates […]

Life After Life

Metaphorically speaking, it has taken me a couple of “life after life” to read this book. I started reading it in the Spring of 2018, went through multiple iterations of “pause, resume”. I hit obstacles (elsewhere), fell over and picked myself up, occasionally with bruises. Being clumsy or graceful, either has its beauty. Who cares […]

Compassion

Last Autumn, I attended Building Interpersonal Skills: An Experiential Workshop, organised by Susan Neville, Campbell Frank and a couple of other instructors, at Stanford. After this intensive program, one poem and one word repeatedly come back to me: compassion. To begin the program, the instructors read us Miller Williams’s poem. Sue was very kind to […]

How to Win an Argument

How to Win an Argument – An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion is by far the best book I have read on oratory. James May translated Cicero’s words into enlightening and pleasing writings. Thanks to May, the rhetorical wisdom of Cicero is comfortably accessible to us all. The rest lies in “师父领进门,修行靠个人”. The […]

Meditations

I started the new year, 2019, with a long hike in the Santa Cruz mountain range. The air in the mountains was very fresh, compared with the uniquely peculiar “scent” of central London, which I merrily inhaled throughout the holiday season. Crudely stated, it was probably because of the exhaust from diesel cars and buses, […]

The Scaffolding of Rhetoric

In 1897, at the age of 23, Winston S. Churchill wrote an essay titled The Scaffolding of Rhetoric. You can read the original article here. In this essay, Churchill proposed six principal elements as the foundation of rhetoric. This unfinished manuscript appears to only discuss four elements in detail, with the other two less well […]

Ordinary Love and Good Will

Ordinary Love and Good Will, by Jane Smiley, is not a typical book for me. It nevertheless found its way to me at a fortunate timing. It was a recommendation from a credible source shortly before a trip. I enjoyed reading it very much when I was in the air traveling across the country in […]

Big Magic

When I picked up Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, I was concerned that it might miserably disappoint me. A few writers unknowingly did that to me in the past. Usually the first book was fascinating, so I went on to read another one or two of their works. Sometimes they […]

Letter to My Daughter

    There have been a number of (positive) challenges in my professional world. I devoted most of my time and energy to quantum computing lately. While science, engineering and technology have been the main source of fascination for me professionally, from time to time I feel overwhelmingly empty without experiencing the world from other […]

Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly

  The skill of problem solving frequently lies in the interpretation and reinterpretation of high-level objectives. In this book John Kay argues that “the best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal, from happiness to preventing forest fires, is the indirect way. We can learn how to achieve our objectives only through a […]