Book Discussion: Checklist Manifesto

Humans are fallible. This idea is the theme of the past three books I've read. Pitch Anything focuses on the idea that people typically make decisions at an instinct level rather than analytically. The Undoing Project shows how humans are heuristic machines, and while the heuristics are right in many cases, they are systematically wrong in others. The Checklist Manifesto prescribes fixes for the limited capacity of our memory and problem-solving ability.

I'm already familiar with the effectiveness of checklists …

Book Notes: The Undoing Project

Humans are fallible. Importantly however, humans are fallible in predictable ways. That is the main argument of The Undoing Project, and the elucidation of the specific ways we are fallible makes this book one that is worth reading.

These notes are part original and part passages from the book.


The Israeli military measures the performance of their fighter pilot training programs. They discover that pilots perform better after criticism and worse after praise. What is the problem with this …

Book Notes: Pitch Anything

Pitch Anything is a highly entertaining, and based on the anecdotes from this book, highly effective, sales book.

The methods described are evocative of pick-up artist book "The Game" and might not sit well with everyone. People should learn the sales style that works most effectively for themselves.

These notes are part original and part passages from the book.

Core Idea

The core idea in the book is that everything gets filtered through the limbic system (aka "croc" brain). If …

Transgression in American Politics

The presidential candidate of a major political party openly bragged about committing sexual assault and is still in the running for the presidency. The scandal is still developing, so the full impact remains to be seen. Nonetheless, this confession triggered an exodus of party luminaries from his campaign. It is only the latest in a seemingly endless stream of scandals, and will doubtless not be the last. Why was this confession the line that broke the camel's back?

Let's first …

Dark Money

Dark Money is a both a roller coaster tale and an effective playbook of political influence. It tells the story of the Koch brother’s legacy on both the dialogue of American politics and the platform of the republican party. It made me realize that significant changes to our political landscape (e.g. rise of the Tea Party, Citizens United case) were not random developments in our nation’s history, but were events engineered to occur. It made me realize …

The Golden Handcuffs Are Tighter Than You Think

New CS grads are often showered with salary, perks, and equity. When I was graduating, I had no idea how any of this worked. How does tax work? How much will my shares be worth? I joined Uber after college, a company few people doubt will IPO and do so successfully, but still there were still many surprises. I'm going to walk through how equity grants work, so that the new grads among you can make better informed decisions.

In …

The Secret Sauce to Uber's Growth

Uber is in fair running as the best product of the decade. It has enabled millions of people across the world to make money, give up owning a car, and has literally changed city traffic patterns. Uber's level of impact, naturally, goes hand in hand with some of the fastest growth in startup history. So how has Uber managed it's astronomically rapid growth?

Most companies would have been crushed under the weight of rapidly accumulated technical debt, the chaos of …

Python Serialization Performance

As projects reach scale of moderate complexity, they must represent objects in many forms. As a json record from an API endpoint, cache, or database, as a thrift object for RPC, or as an object in-memory.

At Uber, we've begun to use the schematics library for our in-memory representations. It provides a canonical form for an object to take, which can then be serialized into thrift, sql, or various json forms. The native serialization works great for the base case …