Digestable #37: Most Impactful Reads of 2021, 14 Peaks, Sex & Culture, Vaccine Mandates, Dune

Happy 2022!

Welcome to the first 2022 edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where we follow our curiosity and share book recommendations. This edition was emailed to subscribers on January 23, 2022.

Coming in hot:

My Most Impactful Reads of 2021: Once again I massively missed my annual reading goal in 2021, but what I did manage to read changed my life. Here’s the full post that details my excuses for missing my reading goal, reveals my goal for 2022, and lists the most impactful books I read last year across fiction, business, history, and philosophy genres.

14 Peaks: A riveting new Netflix documentary about Nepali mountaineer Nimsdai Purja and his seemingly impossible quest to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks in seven months. Not only did this movie leave me super-inspired for my next adventure, but it provided an educational peek (peak?) into the overlooked world of the incredible Nepalese climbing community: the often unnamed Sherpas that enable many of the world’s hardest mountaineering objectives. 5 stars.

Sex and Culture: Something happened in the 60’s and 70’s that all but guarantees the unraveling of Western civilization by ~2060, according to research by Oxford & Cambridge ethnologist and social anthropologist, J.D Unwin. That something? The sexual revolution. So what religious doctrine is this guy peddling? None, as far as I can tell he is a non-religious scholar, and his claims were made well before the sexual revolution occurred in North America.

According to Unwin’s research across 5,000 years of history, a civilization reaches peak flourishing when “strict chastity” and “absolute monogamy” are held as ideals. When the generated wealth eventually enables “complete sexual freedom” the civilization begins a decline that leads to its collapse within 3 generations. There can be a one-generation delay where culture remains seemingly unaffected, but a decline becomes evident in the second generation, characterized by a loss of “rational thinking” where one’s “conclusion does not follow from his premise.” Unwin’s research does not offer a compelling “why,” just a strong prediction based on his extensive research of historical cycles.

Aldous Huxley, author of the dystopian novel “Brave New World,” described Unwin’s “Sex & Culture” as “a work of the highest importance.” When you read Brave New World, you can see the influence of this cultural theory play out in the story. If you are interested you can read a great summary of “Sex & Culture” here. Thank you David Perell for the link.

If you are a modern progressive a return to these outdated sexual ideals probably sounds like a nightmare, but one of my favorite guilty pleasures (pop singer Julia Michaels) also seems to be curious about this type of alternate universe in her song, “All Your Exes”: “I want to live in a world where there’s no exes at all, Like you were waiting for me to be the first thing you fall for, The only girl that’s ever been in your bed . . . “

Why I’m for COVID Vaccines but Against Vaccine Mandates, by Peter Attia, MD.: I’ve respected the health & fitness advice of Dr. Peter Attia for years and this post is a thoughtful summary of where we sit today in the world of COVID and COVID vaccines, and why in Peter’s opinion the vaccines can be a lifesaver if you are older or have comorbidities – but the data does not make a case for vaccine mandates. Absolute Risk Reduction (ARR) vs Relative Risk Reduction (RRR), transmission rates, hospital capacity, the state of current therapeutics, natural immunity, and the COVID vs flu context are all discussed with up-to-date data.

Quote I’m Pondering: “We came from Caladan – a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or a paradise of the mind- we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life – we went soft, we lost our edge. – from the novel Dune by Frank Herbert.

Over the holidays I read the 1965 novel Dune and watched the 2021 movie based on the book. I enjoyed both!

Where did your curiosity lead you this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for following along. I’m having a riot putting these together, so if you are enjoying this newsletter I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two and we can keep the great conversations growing.

Yours truly,
Jeff

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