Wisereads Vol. 44 — Sailing Alone Around the World with Joshua Slocum, Sophie Fuji on dromomania, and more

Last week, we shared Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a cornerstone of science fiction. This week, we're sharing Joshua Slocum's timeless memoir from 1900, Sailing Alone Around the World.

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Most highlighted Articles of the week


Many Other Shoes Are Dropping

Venkatesh Rao · Ribbonfarm Studio

Venkatesh Rao considers how writing helps make sense of the world and how in 2024 many narrative arcs are coming to a close. "This is about as clean a clean-sheet you’re ever going to get to reboot history in new ways. If you yearn for a break from the past, history is very breakable at the moment. It’s not quite a liminal-epic evolutionary bottleneck, but it’s close. The fan of possible futures right now is as wide as it’s ever been in my lifetime."


On dromomania

Sophie Fuji · sophiefuji.com

Reflecting on how people often think their travels are more interesting than they are, Sophie Fuji presents a case against aimless travel. "One develops a bias towards moving, instead of a bias towards action. Moving is the most passive thing that feels active."


Turning the Tables on AI

iA · ia.net

Rather than using AI tools to automate writing and replace thought, iA advocates for using AI to help writers think more and create original content. "Let’s turn the tables and have ChatGPT prompt us. Tell AI to ask you questions about what you’re writing. Push yourself to express in clear terms what you really want to say."

Most highlighted YouTube Video of the week


My Response to Terrence Howard

StarTalk | Neil deGrasse Tyson

Eight years after his initial peer review of Terrence Howard's controversial treatise on multiplication, titled One Times One Equals Two, Neil deGrasse Tyson reveals his original commentary. "This is an ambitious work that is a clear indication of a restless, active mind. Within these pages, however, there are many assumptions and statements that are under-informed, misinformed or simply false, thereby compromising any of the subsequent conclusions you have drawn."

Most highlighted Twitter Thread of the week


A “Razor” is a rule of thumb that simplifies decision

Clint Murphy

Clint Murphy, real estate developer and author of the Growth Guide newsletter, compiles an impulsively saveable thread of mental models, including the Eisenhower Matrix, Occam's Razor: "The easiest answer is often the right answer… If you hear a meowing sound under the sofa, it's probably the cat, not a hidden speaker playing cat sounds," and the Dunning-Kruger Effect: "Unskilled Individuals overestimate their ability and experts underestimate their ability."

Most highlighted PDF of the week

The Prompt Report: A Systematic Survey of Prompting Techniques

Sander Schulhoff, Michael Ilie, Nishant Balepur, et al.

Researchers from the University of Maryland, OpenAI, Microsoft, and a handful of other colleges come together to create a practical taxonomy of prompting techniques. "Our recommendations resemble what one would recommend in any machine learning setting: understand the problem you are trying to solve (rather than just focusing on input/output and benchmark scores), and ensure the data and metrics you are working with constitute a good representation of that problem. It is better to start with simpler approaches first, and to remain skeptical of claims about method performance."

Hand-picked book of the week


Sailing Alone Around the World

Joshua Slocum

Despite never learning to swim, Joshua Slocum was the first to sail around the world alone. He shares his story aboard the sloop Spray in his captivating and still readable memoir, Sailing Alone Around the World, published in 1900 — just a decade before his disappearance at sea.

"I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so I made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self; but my books were always my friends, let fail all else. Nothing could be easier or more restful than my voyage in the trade-winds."

This edition of Sailing Around the World is available through Julie of Global Grey. You can explore her collection of more than 2,500 carefully formatted and free public domain ebooks here.

Handpicked RSS feed of the week


Nadia Asparouhova

Nadia Asparouhova, researcher and Substack's second employee, publishes occasional think pieces on her blog, exploring topics from early-stage science funding to talent scarcity and meditation practices. From How to do the jhanas: "Jhanas are like swirling the paintbrush of your consciousness across a palette of altered sensations… When you can skillfully control, deepen, and direct your attention, you may discover that life is easier and more malleable than it seemed."