18 episodes

A free-wheeling podcast that combines books, booze, and interesting guests to create thought-provoking conversations.

Books & Booze John Leven

    • Education

A free-wheeling podcast that combines books, booze, and interesting guests to create thought-provoking conversations.

    Episode #17 - Famine, Affluence, and Morality

    Episode #17 - Famine, Affluence, and Morality

    Guest: Evan Sandhoefner (blogger, Effective Altruist, and alum of Microsoft & Harvard)
    Book: Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer
    Booze: Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

    0:00:00 - Evan and Ballast Point Sculpin

    0:03:49 - Brian Tomasik, who inspired Evan’s website

    0:05:21 - How does Evan handle discussing ethics without sounding like a dick?

    0:08:00 - Famine, Affluence, and Morality and the Effective Altruism movement

    0:17:42 - Direct work vs Working to Give

    0:26:28 - The Most Effective Cocaine Dealer

    0:30:57 - Utilitarian calculus: Quantifying fuzzy concepts like suffering, happiness, well-being, etc.

    0:33:09 - Consciousness, consciousness meters, and aliens

    0:42:19 - Moral tug-of-war: The demandingness objection to utilitarianism and Effective Altruism

    0:49:53 - Bugs in our brains: Grappling with our flawed moral minds

    0:56:58 - Is ethics self-limiting? Can ethical people be successful?

    1:02:11 - Self-deception, and The Elephant in the Brain by Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler

    1:03:56 - Wild animal suffering, selection theory, and cats wearing bells

    1:17:57 - Domestic animal suffering, unhappy cows, and reducing vs eliminating meat from your diet

    1:26:53 - Existential risk and the “expected value” of the far future

    1:30:42 - Epic Givewell spreadsheet

    1:31:59 - Open philanthropy, hit-based giving, and The Man Who Fed the World

    1:41:04 - Slow vs fast Artificial intelligence, giving now vs giving later, the time value of money, and John’s personal reasons for (mostly) giving later

    1:53:01 - Effective Altruism’s “popularity problem”, growing the movement, and caring vs counting


    • 2 hr 13 min
    Episode #16 - Knocking on Heaven's Door

    Episode #16 - Knocking on Heaven's Door

    Guest: Kim Ukura, bookish blogger & podcaster
    Book: Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler
    Boozes: Gin & Tonic
    Main topics: End of life care, physician assisted suicide, reading, reviewing “bad books”, podcasting, blogging, being a “dork”, and more.

    Find more Kim & John:
    Follow on Twitter: @kimthedork & @booksandbooze_
    And check out our websites:

    Books mentioned/recommended in this Episode

    Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler
    Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atwul Gawande

    Show Notes:
    0:00:00 - Introduction and making the perfect Gin & Tonic
    0:05:42 - Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Katy Butler and why it’s important
    Article mentioned: What Broke My Father’s Heart: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/magazine/20pacemaker-t.html
    0:11:16 - The medical industry and its incentives
    0:17:22 - The squishiness of measuring “quality of life”
    0:20:43 - Other possible obstacles to improving end of life care including: medical malpractice, religious traditions, and family guilt.
    0:26:20 - A generational shift in end-of-life care preferences?
    0:32:17 - “Medical innovation costs money”
    0:35:04 - Physician-assisted suicide vs euthanasia and three very different cases:
    104 year old David Goodall from Australia to Switzerland

    29 year old Brittany Maynard - “I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”

    29 year old Aurelia Brouwers from the Netherlands

    0:48:39 - Do Not Resuscitate orders and other personal takeaways from the book
    0:54:41 - Kim’s bookish background and how it led to her blog and podcast
    0:58:38 - How has Kim’s approach to content generation evolved over the past decade?
    1:03:08 - How do you define and handle reviewing “Bad Books?”
    1:09:39 - How do you find time to read so much? What about diminishing returns to reading?
    1:13:47 - Being a “dork” and embracing a “nerdy” identity
    1:16:58 - Kim’s lowbrow taste in TV and music
    1:19:05 - Kim & John’s experiences serving on Library Boards and John’s new library “Quality Hours” metric

    • 1 hr 31 min
    Episode #15 - Blitzed

    Episode #15 - Blitzed

    Guests: Stefani Manard & Big Dev from the Shot of History podcast
    Boozes: Bourbons: Elijah Craig, Jim Beam, and Bulleit
    Main topics: Nazi’s & drugs, history, podcasting, reading recommendations, and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s views on sex, masturbation, and circumcision.

    Find more Stef, Dev & John:
    Follow on Twitter: @DrunkDorksStef , @PodmadBigDev , and @booksandbooze_
    And check out our websites:

    Books/podcasts mentioned or recommended:
    Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler
    Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast
    The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
    H.P. Lovecraft
    The Comic Book Story of Beer: The World's Favorite Beverage from 7000 BC to Today's Craft Brewing Revolution by Jonathan Hennessey
    HP Lovecraft: The Mysterious Man Behind the Darkness by Charlotte Montague
    The Times Complete History of the World by Richard Overy
    The Lessons of History by Will & Ariel Durant
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

    Show Notes
    0:00:00 - Introduction
    0:03:35 - Bourbon choices and Shot of History Rothschild episode
    0:05:57 - Blitzed (sponsored by Audible?) and how meth made the Blitzkrieg physically possible
    0:17:05- Dev’s and Stef’s history backgrounds
    0:18:27 - How do they choose topics for Shot of History episodes?
    0:23:17 - What’s the best thing about having a podcast?
    0:25:40 - Do you have any advice for new podcasters?
    0:27:28 - Starting a podcast on a budget
    0:32:40 - Nootropics and performance enhancing drugs
    0:44:28 - The power of alcohol
    0:46:57 - What are the most neglected parts of history? (Enlighten your shit, man!)
    0:53:16 - Stef & Dev’s reading recommendations
    01:02:21 - Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, circumcision/masturbation, dick jokes (coming up, as they do), and flying dildos.

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Episode #14 - The Geometry of Wealth

    Episode #14 - The Geometry of Wealth

    Guest: Brian Portnoy
    Boozes: Noah’s Mill bourbon and Bulleit bourbon
    Main topics: Money, meaning, reality vs expectations, investing, and reading (plus recommendations)

    Find more Brian & John:
    Follow on Twitter: @brianportnoy & @booksandbooze_
    And check out our websites:

    Books mentioned or recommended:
    Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
    Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
    You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh
    Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus's Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior by James Stockdale
    The Obstacle is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
    Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
    Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
    Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
    Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
    Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
    Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert Putnam
    Coming Apart: The State of White America by Charles Murray
    The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

    Show Notes:
    0:00:00 - Introduction
    0:03:22 - Bourbons: Noah’s Mill & Bulleit
    0:04:28 - On the Geometry of Wealth
    0:07:35 - Money, happiness, and funded contentment vs “being rich”
    0:13:43 - The Four C’s: Connection, Control, Competence, and Context
    0:21:15 - Gaining competence and learning effectively
    0:26:26 - Optionality and symmetry
    0:29:17 - Ask not what your civilization can do for you...
    0:32:03 - Information overload: Seeking simplicity in investing
    0:38:30 - Automated investing vs human discretion
    0:41:19 - The current investing environment
    0:46:07 - Expectations vs reality in modern capitalism/politics
    0:51:40 - “A past that never happened vs a future that will never occur”
    0:56:46 - The Portnoy Secret Sauce aka how to help your children succeed in a rapidly changing world.
    1:01:56 - On meditation, stoicism, Buddhism, and investing
    1:12:34 - On reading in general, authors you read but disagree with, and reading vs writing
    1:32:04 - What will Brian write about next?
    1:34:04 - What do you always say “yes” to? What do you always say “no” to?
    1:36:52 - Destroying your own ideas

    • 1 hr 42 min
    Episode #13 - Civilization and Its Discontents

    Episode #13 - Civilization and Its Discontents

    Episode #13 - Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
    Guest: Tom Beck
    Booze: Lagunitas Aunt Sally
    Main topics: Sigmund Freud, religion, morality, and civilization

    Part 1 - Freud (~23 mins)
    0:00:00 - Intro - Tom Beck
    0:03:27 - Why Freud?
    0:07:29 - This episode’s booze: Lagunitas Aunt Sally
    0:09:09 - What did Freud get right and what did he get wrong?
    0:11:40 - Sigmunda Freud’s Vagina Envy
    0:13:56 - Id, Ego, Superego
    0:18:58 - Psycho sexual stages of development

    Part 2 - Religion and God (~38 mins)
    0:22:48 - Religion, childhood, magic mushrooms, self-awareness, and breasts
    0:29:36 - Why is religion so much more popular than atheism?
    The promised link: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/shortcuts/2017/aug/08/in-god-we-trust-why-americans-wont-vote-in-an-atheist-president
    0:34:25 - Does the fear of death drive religion?
    0:35:37 - Extending the concept of religion to politics, philanthropy, and other causes.
    0:37:58 - Politics filling the “meaning vacuum” left by the decline of religion, and the difficulty of having good-faith debates online.
    0:41:54 - The importance of religion in worldview formation
    0:46:59 - How John lost his faith
    0:56:21 - Wishing religion was actually true
    0:56:55 - Tom’s openness towards a God and John’s openness to an unknown “force” that lit the fuse on the Big Bang

    Part 3 - Meaning and Morality (~33 mins)
    1:01:28 - Does it matter is there’s a God? Can there meaning in life without a God/afterlife?
    1:05:50 - Objective morality vs subjective morality
    1:14:30 - Moral luck, free will, religious judgement, and politics
    1:25:13 - Freedom, omnibenevolence, and fish bowls

    Part 4 - Civilization (48 mins)
    1:33:05 - Modernity and Its Discontents
    1:40:45 - Tribe
    1:46:24 - Happiness Part 1
    1:51:20 - Great expectations and WWII
    2:01:36 - Happiness Part 2
    2:07:50 - Power, leadership, and social pressure

    More episodes at: booksandboozepodcast.com
    More from John at: johnleven.com
    Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/booksandbooze_

    • 2 hr 20 min
    Episode #12 - The Magic of Thinking Big

    Episode #12 - The Magic of Thinking Big

    CEO of Toujours Planning and co-host of the Worth It! Podcast, Dustin Granger, joins the show to sip Maker’s Mark bourbon and discuss The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Topics include: Thinking big, finding meaning, confidence, goal setting, risk taking, social relationships, dealing with setbacks, and more.

    Twitter: @DRGranger

    Show Notes:
    00:00:00 - Introducing Dustin Granger, his business (Toujours Management), and his podcast (Worth It!)
    00:03:27 - The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (Attempt #1)
    00:06:53 - Maker’s Mark and other favorite alcohols
    00:14:30 - The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (Attempt #2)
    00:23:25 - Momento mori: Designing your life from your own deathbed
    00:31:00 - Relationships
    00:33:19 - True goals vs fuel goals (John really thinks this part is critical)
    00:37:00 - Confidence
    00:50:05 - Risk taking, poker, investing
    00:55:00 - How John failed out of his major, but was saved by Warren Buffett, and spun off Buffett-like habits into this podcast.
    The book that changed the course of John’s life: https://www.amazon.com/Five-Rules-Successful-Stock-Investing/dp/1501261894
    01:08:37 - Risk taking again
    01:11:42 - The Power of No
    01:21:25 - Social relationships and Dustin’s Junto
    01:33:26 - Setbacks, resilience
    01:42:00 - John’s reading process

    Find more cool stuff at johnleven.com and booksandboozepodcast.com

    Thanks for listening and supporting us!

    • 1 hr 58 min

Customer Reviews

DustinGranger ,

Very informative podcast

John Leven’s taste in books is similar to my own so it’s nice getting book ideas and summaries from him. The podcast is entertaining too. Love the addition of Booze to anything!

'39 Redhead ,

Thoughtful and entertaining

Conversations which cover science, culture, travel and life. Entertaining and intellectually enjoyable conversations with host John and his guests. Perfect to listen to on a long drive or whilst cleaning the house. Kudos John.

Elliott K27S ,

Books, Alcohol, Current events

John and the guest take a book and use it to talk about current events and trends. I like that they come prepared with notes sometimes dropping stats about an issue. Keep it up

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