What books are you reading or have finished lately


I just finished the “Matthews Men” last week. Hard to put down and finished it really quick. Amazing the shear amount of sailors and merchant tonnage lost due to the German U-boats and the guys kept going back out to sea.

Just started “The Merchant Marine and World Frontiers” by Robert Earle Anderson in 1945. He led the US Martime Commission from 1938 through WW II. So far it’s very interesting and talks about all the options possible for the surplus tonnage left over after the war and what to do with it.

Also picked up the “Calendar Epic”, “Lifeline, The ships & men of our merchant marine at war” by Robert Carse , and “What you should know about the Merchant Marine” by Carl D Lane, to read this hitch.


I’m about half-way through it now and also recommend it. I had sailed with a Captain who was torpedoed 8 times, all on tankers going up the east coast, each time he went immediately back to another.


Just finished the Undoing Project and also recommend it. Reading it near the time of the El Faro final report and discussion here is informative with respect to what biases may have been at work within Davidsion’s thinking, among the crew and perhaps within that unique corporate organization. Kahneman and Taversky’s insights to how the mind may work while exposed to uncertainty seem valuable and if one is aware of what biases may be at play there is the possibility to think more clearly or deliberately during times of uncertainty. This is the sort of thing that needs to be in resource management courses.

Some quotes/paraphrases/thoughts…
“Once we have adopted a particular hypothesis or interpretation, we grossly exaggerate the likelihood of that hypothesis and find it very difficult to see things any other way”

We construct scenarios (often from memories) and these effectively replace probability judgements. The production of a compelling scenario is likely to constrain future thinking.

The brain is limited. There are gaps in our attention. The mind contrives to make those gaps invisible to us. Seems to fill in the gaps with a story it creates until more or new information comes in. But it seems just having created the story in the first place also inhibits ability to accept new information.

I also noted that Taversky was consulted by Delta airlines and it sure sounded like his work was one of the basis of that industries cockpit resource management approach. It seems he took the idea that it would be very hard to change the effects of these heuristic mechanisms in any one person (the pilot) so you had to change the environment within which the judgements/predictions/decisions were being made in.

El Faro - An Overview
El Faro - An Overview
split this topic #64

A post was split to a new topic: El Faro - An Overview


Need to figure out what’s ahead:

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction I was put off by the title but this book covers a lot of ground, including the Biases of Kahneman and Taversky’ but also an approach to help overcome the bias - Informal Bayesian Inference. Bayesian logic is used when information is uncertain and is the basis for how Kalman filters work.

Now other people have to be convinced:

Language Intelligence: Lessons on persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga - by Joseph Romm

Romm demonstrates that you don’t have to be an expert to vastly improve your ability to communicate. He has pulled together the secrets of the greatest communicators in history to show how you can apply these tools to your writing, speaking, blogging — even your Tweeting. The book also looks at the language intelligence of President Obama and Governor Romney.

Still need to shake loose some more money out of the PE

Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion
Jay Heinrichs

Thank You for Arguing is your master class in the art of persuasion, taught by professors ranging from Bart Simpson to Winston Churchill. -


Just finished the Dark Tower series by Stephen King? Not nautical or self help-ish but a great read, if a bit grim. Keeps your brain occupied and active har har har


James Gleick’s book titled “Information” discusses the word, the connotations and devotes a chapter to the evolution of that very Wikipedia entry. It’s a solid read.


Yes, I have read that one and really enjoyed it, and “Chaos” as well by the same author. You must read like I do.

I don’t recall the chapter on the Wikipedia entry, I’ll have to reread it. When I checked the entry I noticed it had changed a great deal.


His biography of Richard Feynman is another gem (almost as good as Feynman’s Autobiography which is a definate must read).

And yes, I do read a lot. Often multiple books at a time (usually one print, one kindle and one audible).

Right now I’m reading:
Pacific by by Simon Winchester
Operation Drumbeat by Michael Gannon
No Bugles, No Banners by Edward Ellsberg

I’m also a firm believe in not wasting time on bad books. Once I loose interest I throw it across the room (drives my wife mad) and move onto the next one.


Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future.
Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail
Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud
Philosophy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Reader
Capital in the Twenty-First Century


A universe from nothing - Lawrence M. Krauss


Unsinkable Sailors: The fall and rise of the last crew of the Frank E. Evans
American Boys: The true story of the Lost 74 of the Viet Nam War.

Originally I thought that they did not deserve to be on THE WALL. Because, in fact, they were outside the combat zone. However, upon reading these two books, and considering precedence was already set by including the names of Marines killed in an airplane crash that were heading back in-country after R&R in Hong Kong, I revised my view. Sometime in 2017, this was revisited by DOD and their names are still excluded.

It is so sad.


crossing the congo, ringworld engineers, first overland …


In Peril: A Daring Decision, a Captain’s Resolve, and the Salvage that Made History

Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down

This book is genius


I really enjoyed “Death of a Shipowner”.



There was a voice hailing the ship from somewhere—in the air, in the sky—I couldn’t tell. Presently I saw the captain—and he was mad. He asked me eagerly, ‘Where’s the cabin-table?’ and to hear such a question was a frightful shock. I had just been blown up, you understand, and vibrated with that experience,—I wasn’t quite sure whether I was alive. Mahon began to stamp with both feet and yelled at him, ‘Good God! don’t you see the deck’s blown out of her?’ I found my voice, and stammered out as if conscious of some gross neglect of duty, ‘I don’t know where the cabin-table is.’ It was like an absurd dream.

  • Youth, Joseph Conrad


One of my old college roommates has been putting his mind to writing lately. I have purchased four of his novels, and finished the first one a couple of weeks ago. Great literature? Not really. Decent read? Sure. Check out the work of Rex Inverness.



the new book about the U2 spy plane. (title not handy) I thought not so glamorous by description but after reading 3 books on the SR-71 found this to be more readable and enjoyable than any of the others.
also “right beyond the horizon”… Christopher Manning (travel)


Brian Kilmeade’s Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates. About half way through it and enjoying it a lot. Always kinda wondered why the Marines Sang “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli”