Author: Ryan

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

We aren’t the only humans. Well, we are now, says author Yuval Noah Harari, but that hasn’t always been true. The word ‘human’ he explains, means ‘an animal belonging to the genus Homo‘. Other humans throughout history have included Homo rudolfensis, Homo erectus, and of course, Homo neanderthalensis. How did it come to be that a lone human species – Homo sapiens – went from the underdog to the only surviving species in just 100,000 short (by evolutionary standards) years? What is it about US that made us more successful than THEM? In tackling what could be a very...

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The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto My office is filled with notebooks of various types, and my desk surface is covered with a big scratchpad. I make lots of lists: to-do lists, checklists, ‘action items’, etc. I love the fact that Atul Gawande has taken the time to write down his thoughts and experiences with checklists. Even more, I love the fact that a book like this is so lively, well-written, and fun. When I first received the book (as a Christmas present), I wasn’t that excited about it – but after reading the first few pages I was hooked. Gawande delves into his own experiences as a surgeon in a sobering and kind of frightening look at how an operating room actually works, then explains in detail how the addition of a simple checklist that includes seemingly obvious items such as “make sure all the O.R. staff introduce themselves before beginning” can pay off with significant rewards. Did you know that the B-17, the plane that some experts say won World War II, was considered ‘unflyable’ by early test pilots? Gawande does – he delves into the history of the plane and the first test flights, telling the story of how the B-17 became the first aircraft to use pre-flight checklists and how those checklists helped the plane realize it’s spot as the number one bomber of WWII. The Checklist Manifest...

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