Public Void @f2prateek

Books

The Frackers by Gregory Zuckerman

Prior to this book, I was not familiar with the fracking industry at all, so I learnt a lot. Until as recently as 2010, the US had given up on extracting more out of its fossil fuel reserves, and had started shifting focus towards alternative energy sources.

However fracking has greatly risen in the US in the fast decade, and was driven by the combination of three key factors:

  • Technological innovation, such as horizontal drilling and invention of new fracking liquids that made the process more efficient.
  • Rising oil prices, that made the higher costs of fracking more palatable.
  • General push towards energy independence from foreign oil supplies. For instance, Russia is estimated to have large areas conducive to fracking, but doesn’t need them as it still has many oil reserves.

Fracking is still only a short term solution to meeting America’s energy needs. On one hand, it has helped establish energy independence and bring in a lot of jobs after the 2008 financial crisis, but on the other hand, it has removed the urgency of needing to shift to renewable energy sources.

No One Would Listen by Harry Markopolos

This is a unique perspective into into Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Markopolos dives into the fallings of the SEC that allowed Madoff to get away with fraud for so long. Markopolos’s revelations have led to a significant overhaul of the SEC since then. For instance, the SEC now pays out between 10-30% of the amount recovered from financial crimes, which recently lead to a record breaking $114M payout.

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

Although published recently in 2005, Barry tries to capture what it was like during the 1918 pandemic. Right on the heals of the first world war, with limited technology and communication channels - the environment of this pandemic was verry different than what it is today. Compared to COVID-19, the virus itself differed in two ways - it was more deadly (killing 10-20% of those infected), and it was more likely to kill people with healthy immune systems (such as young adults between the ages of 20-40). Because the majority of deaths were due to baterial pneumonia, the cause was initially determined to be due to a bacteria (though targetting the bacteria did prevent deaths). A majority of prevention methods are what we’re using today - such as wearing masks and social distancing.

It does make me grateful that our knowledge has advanced significantly in the last 100 years and we have more tools to fight the current pandemic. It took almost 10 years after the pandemic to realize that the cause was the influenza virus. This is in stark contrast to today, where we have a already have promising vaccines within a year of the COVID-19 virus’s first appearance.

Others

I usually read on my Kindle, so I track most of my books on Goodreads.