Books

    Frugal reading - Tips for reading on a budget

    So you wanna read more.

    Maybe you’re trying to unplug more often. Or maybe you read a blog post about leadership and bought into the old adage that leaders read.

    Whatever the case, you want to get your face in more books and digital content worth following. But money’s tight, or maybe you just want to spend your hard-earned money elsewhere.

    Regardless of your situation, I have some tips I’ll now share for reading more on the cheap.

    Your local library

    If you really want to save money while reading, you have to start with your local library. Otherwise, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.

    You may be able to get cards for libraries beyond your local library. Some libraries in Texas participate in the TexShare program which gives you access to libraries across the state.

    Also, some libraries, like the Houston Public Library will give you a digital library card just for being a Texas resident.

    I can’t speak for similar programs in other states. But these examples show why it may pay to ask or search around for similar offerings in your own state.

    Physical books and audiobooks

    When people think of their local library, they probably first think of physical books and audiobooks. And for good reason.

    While libraries have digital services (more on that below), they’re still a great source for getting free access to physical reading (and listening) materials.

    OverDrive/Libby

    If you prefer reading ebooks, or listening to audiobooks on your phone, then you have to see if your local library offers access to OverDrive. And if they do, also check that they offer Libby.

    With Libby, you can read ebooks directly on your phone with the app, or you can send them to your Kindle. (I’m not sure if Libby works with other strict ereader devices, such as anything by Kobo).

    With OverDrive and Libby, checking out books is as easy as buying them from the Kindle store. They’re delivered straight to your device and are automatically returned after they’ve expired.

    (A little birdie once told me that you can keep your ebooks beyond their expiration if you keep your device disconnected from the internet. But I can neither confirm nor deny.)

    Free digital subscriptions

    Libraries offer so much, it’s hard to keep up with all of it. And so, many of their offerings go unused.

    Your local library may offer more digital subscriptions than you realize. For example, the Houston Public Library offers a ton of digital subscriptions.

    Many of these subscriptions are for big-name content providers, such as:

    • The New York Times
    • The Wall Street Journal
    • The Economist via the PressReader app.

    You might have to jump through some hoops like re-applying for a subscription every few days. But that’s not the worst thing in the world, considering the price.

    Local retail

    Always be on the lookout for local retail stores, especially those that sell secondhand books.

    Physical discount store

    When I was in Midland, I fell in love with the now shuttered Miss B’s Books. You never knew what you’d find in stock, and that was part of the fun.

    You can also check out places like Half Price Books, which does a great job of living up to its name. I’m quite fond of their clearance section, where I often find something that interests me, for $3 or less.

    Book sales hosted by your library or local Friends of the Public Library chapter

    I’ve been known to go a little crazy at the sales hosted by the local Friends of the Public Library chapters.

    These sales usually have ridiculous prices, in the line:

    • $2 for hardcover books
    • $1 for paperbacks
    • $0.50 for children’s books

    The details will vary, but you should get the idea.

    Some of these books are library books removed from circulation, or they may be title donated by patrons.

    Also, some libraries will have ‘book nooks’, where they display some books they’ve removed from circulation that you can get at similar prices.

    Online shopping

    Sometimes you just can’t find what you want in person. So you turn to the World Wide Web.

    Thriftbooks

    ThriftBooks has some ridiculous prices. I can often get books I’m interested in for around $3 a piece. You get free shipping on domestic orders over $15.

    Your reading list will never be empty again.

    Kindle wishlist

    Kindle ebooks can add up fast. But if you’re patient, you can often get some great deals.

    When I still read on the Kindle, I filled up my Kindle wishlist and I’d check it often. Many days, I could find an item on my wishlist on sale for $3.

    These deals might not be available exactly when you want them. But there’s a good chance they’ll come around at some point.

    Digital reading

    Books aren’t the only place to find great reading material.

    RSS

    Everyone should be using RSS to combat the unwanted effects of social media engagement algorithms.

    Check out the video below if you’re unfamiliar with RSS.

    You can use RSS for free by saving your feeds locally. I like to use an RSS service that will save my feeds, just in case I blow up my computer, as I’m known to do. For a third-party RSS service, you can’t go wrong with Miniflux or NewsBlur.

    Read-it-later services

    If you use RSS, you’re likely going to want to pair it with a read-it-later service. These services are where you save articles you’re interested in but don’t have the time to read right now. You could leave these articles in your RSS reader. But sending them to a read-it-later service makes managing your digital to-read list easier. And you can use your read-it-later service to keep up with articles you found outside your RSS feeds.

    You’re likely already familiar with read-it-later services like Pocket or Instapaper. But if you want a great free read-it-later option, then you should check out Omnivore. As an added bonus, you can use Omnivore to sync article highlights and notes to your personal knowledge management app, such as Logseq.

    Get to reading

    If you’re serious about reading more, you now have no excuse. So start filling that idea machine with fuel.

    Jake LaCaze just exposed himself as a total nerd.

    Douglas Rushkoff’s ‘Survival of the Richest’ shows how delusional the tech billionaires really are

    I could try to tell you what exactly Douglas Rushkoff’s Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires 1 is about via a traditional book review, or I could hope that an inspired rant might give you a better idea. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m choosing the latter route.

    The tech billionaires have one simple goal: to shelter themselves from the world they’ve shaped with their outsized wealth, power, and influence. Undoing all they’ve done in the name of making true positive change via small incremental improvements that risk going unrecognised is beyond them. Simply having the option to escape this world via one avenue or another shows that the tech billionaires already live in a reality far different from the one most of us inhabit.

    How many ways can one hope to escape?

    Rushkoff starts by describing the struggles of those tech billionaires outfitting their doomsday bunkers for the coming apocalypse2. A lot of thought goes into such preparation. Location, supplies, air filtration. The tech billionaires are also looking into how to motivate their security to protect them when the markets collapse and currency is worthless.

    Others hope to one day leave the earth behind. They plan to colonize Mars and start over new, where they’ll stand to gain even more as the early adopters of a fresh society.

    But what about those tech billionaires who can’t escape in these ways? What if they have no choice but to stay on this boring earth, and what if everything doesn’t go to absolute hell and they can’t justify running away to their bunkers in Hawaii or New Zealand?

    That’s where digital escapes like the Metaverse come into play. Who needs Mars or a doomsday bunker when they can build a digital world to replace the physical. You can always buy digital real estate and rent it out to supplement any losses realised from your real estate in the unplugged world3. Some might call this strategy ‘diversification.’

    One foot out the door

    Can you be tied to the world around you if your mind is set on escaping? Are you invested in the slightest? If the answer is no, then why do we let these select few build a world we’ll be stuck with when they flee the first chance they get? If you already have one foot out the door because you’re convinced that to stay is hopeless, then at what point is reality a foreign concept? And if you’re so sure that a certain outcome is inevitable, when does everything begin to look like a prophecy? And when do you decide that resistance is futile? You might as well get what you can while you can. Just make sure you get enough to help you get away at a later date.

    Perhaps we can’t blame the tech billionaires for looking forward to their own big exit, when their investors expect their own such exit, usually in the form of an IPO or flipping the company at some multiple of their original investment.

    Many in tech have long adopted Mark Zuckerberg’s mantra to ‘Move fast and break things.’4 But tech’s secondary mantra appears inspired by Matthew Good5:

    We’ll stick to the plan:

    The fall of man

    The tech billionaires aren’t worried though, because as man falls, they will rise, whether to Mars, the Metaverse, or to the safety of their underground bunkers.

    No big deal though. I’m sure they’ll wave bye and give a heartfelt thanks for all we’ve done to enable them to get the hell out of Dodge as they leave us to our fates6.

    Jake LaCaze really doesn’t like being so sour about tech. But he’s finding it hard not to be.


    1. Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires on Bookshop.org (Affiliate link) ↩︎

    2. ‘Why is Mark Zuckerberg building a private apocalypse bunker in Hawaii?’ on The Guardian ↩︎

    3. ‘Inside the lucrative business of a metaverse landlord, where monthly rent can hit $60,000 per property’ on Fast Company ↩︎

    4. ‘The problem with “Move fast and break things”—Tech needs a better guiding principle’ on jakelacaze.com ↩︎

    5. ‘The Fall of Man’ by Matthew Good Band on YouTube ↩︎

    6. ‘Jeff Bezos thanks Amazon customers and employees who “paid for all this”’ on CNN ↩︎

    'The Song of Signficance'—Singing the praises of Seth Godin's tireless wisdom

    Companies want customers to be passionate about their products and services. And they want employees to give everything to their daily labor. Companies want everyone else around them to be inspired, yet so many companies follow the industrial model in a race to the bottom, doing as little as possible to actually inspire. But inspiration doesn’t just happen. It’s hard to come by. It often takes work.

    Seth Godin has long been the voice against corporate conformity. And Godin continues his crusade in The Song of Significance, in which he reminds us that business doesn’t need to be only transactional. Good business goes beyond the simple exchange of cash for goods and services. Good business is an exchange you wouldn’t mind doing again—one you might even look forward to.

    Good business inspires, much like art. For many of us, our day jobs—where we spend a great deal of our waking hours—is the best chance we have to be artists.

    These points have long been part of Godin’s message. In many ways, the contents of The Song of Significance are nothing new. The book’s central message will be familiar to any fans of Godin’s previous work:

    The race to the bottom is hard to win. And winning it rarely leads to positive outcomes.

    Sometimes we need to be reminded of our values—that we’re not alone—especially when the rest of the business world seems to go in the other direction.

    Throughout the book, Godin reminds us that humans are the entire focus of business:

    Humans are not a resource. We are not a tool. Humans are the point.

    Godin acknowledges that industrialism isn’t going away. But industrialism isn’t the only option. Workers and customers alike want something different. Something more. Something of significance. Businesses win big when they stop holding workers and customers hostage and instead create something both parties want to be part of:

    In a field where skills are valuable and switching jobs is possible, the employees you need the most have options. That’s why creating a culture of fear and compliance is a dead end. Great work creates more value than compliant work.

    . . .

    A significant organization can please its customers and make a profit as well. But it begins by earning enrollment and then doing the work to make change happen.

    Like Godin’s other books (and his blog posts1), The Song of Significance is not a how-to guide. It is instead a call to action. A call to action for us to pick ourselves and do work that matters.

    Jake LaCaze is sad to know there are still marketers out there who don't know about Seth Godin.


    1. Seth Godin’s blog ↩︎

    An environmental apocalypse of our own making

    The more I learn about nuclear, the more I become convinced it’s the key to solving our energy woes. And Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never1 may have pushed me over the edge.

    Cover of Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never Cover of Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never Photo credit: Amazon

    Why are environmentalists so strongly opposed to nuclear energy? Nuclear is abundant, clean, and energy dense. Yet so-called environmentalists (or, perhaps more appropriately, environmental alarmists) keep pushing for solar and wind, which are proven to be inefficient and terrible for the environment in their own ways.

    The dangers of environmental alarmism

    Apocalypse Never is not a book about climate change denialism. Shellenberger believes in climate change and also believes humans play a role.

    But he argues climate change is not the same as climate catastrophe, and environmental alarmism does more harm than good.

    Shellenberger’s case has merit when you look into some details of environmental alarmism.

    For one, enviornmental alarmists don’t look at how we can adapt to climate change. They instead repeat the narrative that it’s too late and that climate change can’t be stopped. While climate change may unstoppable, it’s not necessarily catastrophic. And if it’s inevitable, then we should learn to live with the coming changes, which is far more productive than waving our hands in the air and declaring the end. Humans are adaptive and resilient. The sooner we start changing with the times, the better.

    Another aspect to consider is the hypocrisy of developed nations pushing developing nations to “leapfrog” straight to renewable energy while bypassing fossil fuels. Never mind the fact that sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind are expensive and not as efficient as fossil fuels.

    Rather than focus on holding back the developing nations, those already developed should consider how to responsibly help them progress. Developed nations should lean into alternative fuels where it makes sense, while helping developing nations improve their infrastructure with fossil fuels and then accelerate into alternative fuels. Restricting developing nations from improving their own infrastructure hurts the citizens of those nations. It’s easy for the developed nations to push this agenda when they themselves are not affected by the policies they promote.

    The public narrative suggests that fans of renewable energy see the agents of fossil fuels as their enemy. But Shellenberger raises the possibility that these two industries instead have a shared enemy in nuclear energy.

    Shellenberger shows example after example of environmental groups and individual advocates (such as Sierra Club and Al Gore) accepting money from fossil fuel companies, which feels like a stark contradiction to their ideology.

    But, when you look for the similarities between fossil fuel companies and renewable energy companies, you find a shared hatred of nuclear energy.

    Shellenberger then asks the logical question: “[H]ow long, exactly, have oil and gas interests been funding environmental groups to shut down nuclear plants?”

    If nuclear is as good as advertised, then how much need would there be for other forms of energy?

    Much of the opposition to nuclear energy is simply out of line.

    Some point to Chernobyl as a warning. But Chernobyl was more an issue of Soviet neglect than an issue of nuclear power2.

    But what about Fukushima? Turns out neglect was an issue there as well3:

    The tsunami countermeasures taken when Fukushima Daiichi was designed and sited in the 1960s were considered acceptable in relation to the scientific knowledge then, with low recorded run-up heights for that particular coastline. But some 18 years before the 2011 disaster, new scientific knowledge had emerged about the likelihood of a large earthquake and resulting major tsunami of some 15.7 metres at the Daiichi site. However, this had not yet led to any major action by either the plant operator, Tepco, or government regulators, notably the Nuclear & Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). Discussion was ongoing, but action minimal.

    This negligence rhymes a bit with the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, which we now know was made worse by faulty levees neglected despite warnings they were inadequate for a major storm.

    In each of these cases, humans could have done more to lessen the damage of these disasters. But many choose to scapegoat the disasters themselves rather than look at what we could have done better. Such negligence will only be perpetuated by the narrative that it’s too late and that there’s nothing we can do about our impending doom.

    Shellnberger argues that ideology is to blame and calls environmental alarmism the new secular religion.

    Many have already accepted our climate apocalypse, so they look only for validation while rejecting the idea of improving our situation. Religious zealots often quote their religious tomes when referencing modern events as proof of the coming Armageddon. Environmental alarmists do much the same, except they quote choice books of science.

    When you’ve accepted an outcome, you default to validating it, rather than remaining open to the possibility you may be wrong. So the enviromental alarmists reject any data contradicting their gloomy predictions.

    How green is renewable energy really?

    When you scratch beneath the surface, you start to see issues with the renewable energy narrative:

    1. How green are electric vehicles (EVs) if they’re getting electricity from fossil fuels4?
    2. How are the materials used for EVs, solar panels, and windmills mined, manufactured, and installed? (Most likely with the aid of fossil fuels and at great damage to their enviornments5.)
    3. How can we say energy sources such as solar and wind are environmentally friendly when they’re far less energy dense than fossil fuels and require much more land surface area6? (Also, windmills are loud and disrupt bird habitats.)
    4. How can we call solar and wind green when recycling solar panels and windmills is an absolute nightmare? (We don’t have the ability or capacity to recycle these parts, so they create more waste when they’re retired7.)

    To be clear, these points do not suggest that fossil fuels are a net zero fuel source. But they do suggest that “green” energy may not be too much better in comparison when considering the whole picture.

    Why nuclear is the answer

    As the Office of Nuclear Energy points outs8, there are three reasons nuclear energy is the way to go:

    1. Nuclear is a zero-emission clean energy source.
    2. Nuclear energy produces more electricity on less land than any other clean-air source. (It’s energy dense.)
    3. Nuclear energy produces minimal waste.

    Other forms of renewable energy such as solar and wind likely have a place in the world’s future energy portfolio. But they don’t deserve to be the star of the show. That honor belongs to nuclear.

    But even if we universally agreed to adopt more nuclear energy, we can’t just flick a switch and make it happen.

    Bringing a new nuclear facility online takes years, sometimes nearly a decade9. So we can’t solve our energy woes in the 2020s.

    But you know the old saying: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

    The delayed payoff is no reason to abandon building new nuclear plants. Investing in nuclear is an investment in our energy future.

    In the meantime, we should continue relying on fossil fuels to keep the world moving until we can hand the torch to nuclear.


    1. Apocalypse Never on Amazon ↩︎

    2. ‘Mismanagement at Chernobyl noted earlier’ from New York Times ↩︎

    3. ‘Fukishima Daiichi Accident’ from World Nuclear Association ↩︎

    4. ‘Why electric cars are only as clean as their power source’ from The Guardian ↩︎

    5. ‘Will mining the resources needed for clean energy cause problems for the environment?' on MIT’s Climate Portal ↩︎

    6. ‘Not so green: Renewable energy’s land use problem’ on Life: Powered ↩︎

    7. ‘Solar Panels Are Starting to Die, Leaving Behind Toxic Trash’ on Wired ↩︎

    8. ‘3 Reasons Why Nuclear is Clean and Sustainable’ on Office of Nuclear Energy ↩︎

    9. ‘How long does it take to build a nuclear reactor?' by Hannah Ritchie ↩︎

    Digital Minimalism and philosophy in tech

    I’ve been rethinking my relationship with technology since I started reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

    After mentioning this book is usually when a blogger tells his audience he’s deleted his social media accounts and can now be reached only by smoke signal.

    But this is not that kind of post, dear reader.

    I appreciate that Digital Minimalism is not a book of prescriptive, one-size-fits-all advice for living with technology in the 21st century. While Newport himself is no fan of social media, he leaves it up to individuals to define their own relationships with the tech they use regularly. Newport’s most important message is to get philosophical with technology and you think about where it fits in your life, not that we all reach the same conclusions and use or avoid all the same services.

    Digital Minimalism is not a how-to guide. It is instead a guide calling its readers to develop their own philosophy about where technology fits into their lives.

    After I started reading the book, I deleted from my phone nearly every app not related to calling, texting, or navigation.

    Newport suggests suspending use of any problematic apps for a month. He refers to this time as the “decluttering” period. Once the decluttering period is over, you re-introduce the temporarily banned tech back into your usage and observe whether you think it still has a place in your life. Newport claims that often people realize they no longer need the tech, making their decluttering periods permanent.

    I made it a week before I reversed my declutter, because I’m lacking in moral fiber. But I have kept most social apps from my phone this go round.

    And though I have deviated from Newport’s recommendations, I have started creating distance between myself and my phone. I’ve started leaving it behind in other rooms of the house. And my short break does seem to have made putting my phone down much easier when I know I need to.

    My declutter has made me realize how much I prefer the desktop (or laptop) experience over the mobile experience in most situations. I’m an elder millennial, so I’m better with a traditional keyboard and mouse than I am with an onscreen keyboard.

    I recently got a couple used (or “previously enjoyed”) laptops through my job. The laptops are nowhere near the latest and greatest specs. They can’t upgrade to Windows 11, but they run Linux just fine (currently Solus).

    Still, these laptops are thin and powerful enough for everything I need. Ten or fifteen years ago, it would been impossible to think of how I could ever need anything more. Especially when you consider the near ubiquity of public wifi.

    But now, in the age of smartphones, we want the same conveniences once reserved for laptops at our disposal through these devices many of us keep in our pockets at all times.

    Perhaps it’s easy to gush over tech like laptops when propping it against the smartphone. Perhaps the smartphone is a scapegoat, the villainous flavor of the week.

    I do not believe eliminating smartphones will fix everything. We would find a substitute for distraction, perhaps laptops and desktop computers.

    But that’s a problem we can address when we’ve improved our relationships with our smartphones. This acknowledgment makes us better prepared in the war for our attention.

    While Newport doesn’t say everyone should delete all social media, he doesn’t hide his opinion that social media holds little to no value. These days it’s fashionable to jump on Newport’s side and crap on social media while ignoring any benefits.

    The reason I fell in love with the Internet way back in the late ’90s is the same reason I stick around on social media and related platforms in 2022: The potential for connection that’s harder to find offline.

    Connections made over the Internet are not a substitute for connections with my family and other people I see offline. While I can get along with almost anyone I meet face to face, there are very few I can nerd out with on anything that truly interests me. Or at least not to the depth I want to go.

    Also, I tend to hop from interest to interest. It’s always nice to know I can find other parties interested in the same things, on the Internet, often in the form of social media.

    Perhaps I would feel differently if I were part of some sort of establishment I could fall back on.

    But I would be disingenuous to gloss over my gripes with social media, which relies on sloppy algorithms to decide which content is worth promoting. (I’m looking at you, Meta, LinkedIn, Twitter . . .)

    When I think back to my favorite times in online communities, they were often in communities that hadn’t yet been adopted by the masses. And while that may make me sound like an idealistic hipster who wants to keep his hangouts under the radar so that he can have them all to himself, I find my defense more practical than that.

    The simple truth is that, in most cases:

    Mass adoption = commoditization.

    And once you start catering to everyone, you end up serving no one. And, at some point, the experiences all run together, as the users and their avatars do. And you get an experience similar to what you likely find offline, in which few of the experiences stand out above the rest.

    Before reading Digital Minimalism, I was becoming convinced that a return to smaller online communities was the best path forward. I still believe that in theory, though I haven’t begun practicing it as well as I should.

    I’m not sure of the exact limits of this practice either. Obvious candidates include places like micro.blog and niche Mastodon servers. Maybe even the smaller subreddits. I suppose you can create an insular experience on Twitter if you follow the right people.

    While I would like to see a break from the worst of Web 2.0, I’m thinking Web 3.0 is most likely not the answer.

    Does that mean Newport’s preference for walking away from social media is the answer?

    I’m not ready to jump on that train. But I can’t blame anyone who does.

    I hope this essay shines some light on the need for philosophy in all aspects of our lives, even in technology.

    The Cult of We and the dangers of FOMO and hubris

    If you had to sum up in only a few sentences the WeWork debacle to someone unfamiliar with the situation, how would you do so? The following quote from The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell would be my candidate.

    But prior to the prospectus becoming public, bankers and other advisers had continued to shower [Adam] Neumann with praise–giving him criticism too infrequently and too meekly. These advisers either ignored or danced around the company’s obvious warts and red flags.

    Now, at the eleventh hour, they finally spoke up. But the IPO was already on life support.

    If you have any interest in investing time reading about business train wrecks rather than investing your money into them, then pick up a copy of The Cult of We. Throughout the book, I often found myself shaking my head in disbelief, amazed at how many smart and successful people overlooked what should have been obvious red flags, such as CEO Adam Neumann’s selling too many shares too soon, Neumann’s constant power grabs, a private company buying a $63 million private jet even though it was hemorrhaging cash despite having had plenty time to find a path to profitability–the list goes on.

    WeWork’s business model was simple. They leased up office buildings, prettied the spaces up to attract Millennials, and subleased the space at a premium. Their plan was hardly unique, as Regus had done the same a couple decades earlier. No matter how you cut it, WeWork was a real estate company. Yet many viewed it as a tech company, which justified the crazy valuations it had received before its IPO. WeWork would not have been valued so high if it were seen as a real estate company, since real estate companies are unable to scale as well as tech companies. It was the era of the visionary founder, and if the founder said WeWork was a tech company, then it must be a tech company.

    Neumann and Masayoshi Son, the head of SoftBank, had convinced themselves that WeWork was a $10 trillion company, basically because they dared to dream so. The authors point out that, in 2018, the entire value of the U.S. stock market was $30 trillion. (Take a moment to let that sink in.)

    Neumann and Son laid out a plan to reach the ambitious valuation while never acknowledging all the obstacles they would face. Neumann believed he could change the world in myriad ways: from how people work and live to how they educate their children.

    Neumann and his wife Rebeka had convinced themselves they were environmentalists despite riding freely on the aforementioned private jet and even taking an abundance of WeWork’s unused couches to landfills. Rebeka had described the family as minimalists despite having at one time owned at least eight homes.

    In summary, the delusions ran far and wide.

    The story was a reminder of a crucial life lesson: Don’t be afraid to question the herd; just because the herd buys into the same narrative doesn’t mean they’re right. And you’re not wrong to question the herd.

    The story also reminded me of similar moments I’ve experienced in thirteen years as a petroleum landman.

    The first such moment came early in my career, when I was working in Dallas-Fort Worth’s Barnett Shale play. In the shadow of the Great Recession, the natural gas play was a bright spot and a boost to the local economy. Everyone involved in the industry was in high spirits, some even claiming the boom times could last 20 years. I remember raising an eyebrow at that declaration. I couldn’t make a convincing case for why the boom wouldn’t last 20 years, other than a feeling in my gut that such good times are unlikely to last so long. Within 13 months, my employer had closed its Fort Worth office and most of the former occupants were looking for jobs, as natural gas crashed from all-time highs and is only now, over a decade later, showing signs of significant recovery.

    The second such moment came when I moved to West Texas in 2012. The Permian Basin is no stranger to boom-and-bust cycles, so the narrative wasn’t exactly the same as the Barnett Shale in 2008-2009. Instead, the collective wisdom was: This boom is different, whatever that meant. While the Permian Basin does not appear to be at risk of going the way of the Barnett, the area has still seen fluctuations in the near-decade since. The cycle of booms and busts is more frequent than in past decades, but the cycle still exists.

    The Cult of We is not just a business book or a biography of a company that went from rising star to laughing stock in the blink of an eye. The book is also a warning: Never underestimate someone’s ability to be out of touch with reality.