What Do You Care What Other People Think - Richard Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton. 1988, W. W. Norton and Company.

This book covers Feynman's life after SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman left off, spends ~50% of the text on the Rogers Commission (which examined the Challenger explosion), and also includes his essay, 'The Value of Science'.

The subtitle of this is 'Further Adventures of a Curious Character'. There's a little word-play on 'curious' that diminishes its import in Feynman's life. Yes, he's odder than a Mersenne Prime, but his intellectual optimism is what clearly dominates.

Pages 60-62 tell of an encounter he had in Trinidad while driving around town with a cabbie, who had asked why the East Indian villagers, who were just as poor as the Negro villagers, had sons studying to be doctors and people starting their own businesses, but the Negroes didn't. Feynman replied that it probably had something to do with planning for the future. To which the cabbie replied that he, too, was planning for the future; he had some money on the horses and if he won, he'd buy his own cab, and then really do well. Feynman told him this was a bad idea, but the cabbie insisted that this was the only way he could do it.

Page 100 has the following excerpt from a friend's letter:

As we sat in the airport waiting for our planes, Dick pulled out a pad of paper and a pencil and started to draw the faces of people sitting in the lounge. He drew them amazingly well. I said I was sorry I have no talent for drawing. He said, "I always thought I have no talent either. But you don't need any talent to do stuff like this." ...

Feynman credits much of his success to the mental agility inculcated by his father. From pages 12-13:
We would be reading, say, about dinosaurs. It would be talking about the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and it would say something like, "This dinosaur is twenty-five feet high and its head is six feet across." My father would stop reading and say, "Now let's see what that means. That would mean that if he stood in our front yard, he would be tall enough to put his head through our window up here." (We were on the second floor.) "But his head would be too wide to fit in the window." Everything he read to me he would translate as best he could into some reality.... I learned from my father to translate: everything I read I try to figure out what it really means, what it's really saying.

But, no one's a genius in everything, and Feynman stumbles with his forward-looking essay, 'The Value of Science'. Weighing Innovation (nuclear physics) versus Human Immaturity (nuclear bombs), he sides with Innovation as he has the optimism to believe that everything is fixable; if there's a problem, we can solve it. But this argument is logically flawed: what happens if some people want to destroy all humanity, and some others want to prevent this? Both have mutually exclusive solutions, who's to say which will be victorious?

(Note: I'm listening to Balzac's cover of Misfits' Don't Open Til Doomsday as I write this ;)

Regardless, he was a bright guy with many years of experiences and thoughts. Which makes learning from him a joy.