Books

"Book Review: Russell Redenbaugh's 'Shift the Narrative'"

Mr. Redenbaugh sounds like an amazing guy.

Eight months later, and after countless surgeries on his partially working eye, Redenbaugh heard the verdict on his remaining sight as told to his inconsolable mother: “We have done all that we can do.  He will be blind for the rest of his life.” What’s amazing is how the patient responded to news that would perhaps cause most to give up.  Redenbaugh was relieved.


"Grocery Stores: An American Miracle"

Interview with Michael Ruhlman about his new book, Grocery: the Buying and Selling of Food. I absolutely agree that the modern American supermarket is a marvel, far too easily taken for granted.

The thing I see most now is just the extraordinary bounty of what’s in a grocery store. We tend to walk by so many different things without thinking of them, just grabbing what we typically grab, but now I see the bewildering variety of foods that are available to us not just occasionally but seven days a week, pretty much whenever we want them. It’s something of a miracle that we created a system like this where we have nutritious food available to us all the time, at a relatively low, reasonable cost. I didn’t expect to appreciate grocery stores as much as I do now.

Also see this: a recent survey indicates that supermarket chains rank first in "how well companies are perceived by their customers".


"The Hidden Realities of U.S. Incarceration"

Some information here I did not know.

The truth, by contrast, is that about half of prisoners were convicted of violent offenses, and that some of the others committed violence but pleaded guilty to lesser offenses. Even the fifth of prisoners who are locked up for drugs tend to be mid-level dealers, not users or low-level distributors. And, while decades-long sentences make the news, most prisoners who committed crimes not involving the most serious violence are out within a year or two. In other words, while incarceration has undoubtedly soared—even relative to crime, which has dropped substantially since the early 1990s—our propensity to throw people in prison has simply not reached the heights of ridiculousness that many assume.


"An Introduction to Empirical Microeconomics"

Free--short--Principles text by Mathew Kahn, who has left UCLA for the University of Spoiled Children, that has an unusual approach:

. . . I still see an open niche here for a challenging e-book. Unlike other Principles books, this book will be “data driven”. I will present you with an empirical economics puzzle such as “why do men earn 22% more per hour than women”? I will then walk the reader through possible economic explanations for the fact but then we will go a step further. Often there will be several possible explanations for a given set of facts. I will challenge you to work with me to devise a new experiment for figuring out which explanation is right. In this sense, we will start with a set of facts.We will use economic logic to sketch out the set of possible explanations. We will then, because we are scientists, devise a new experiment for settling which of the explanations is right. The new experiment will generate new facts and the “correct theory” should both be able to explain the first fact and the new fact while the incorrect theories can explain the first fact but not the later facts.


"Poison Ivy: Not so much palaces of learning as bastions of privilege and hypocrisy"

Unexpectedly strong words from The Economist.

AMERICAN universities like to think of themselves as engines of social justice, thronging with “diversity”. But how much truth is there in this flattering self-image? AMERICAN universities like to think of themselves as engines of social justice, thronging with “diversity”. But how much truth is there in this flattering self-image? . . .

Mr Golden shows that elite universities do everything in their power to admit the children of privilege. If they cannot get them in through the front door by relaxing their standards, then they smuggle them in through the back. No less than 60% of the places in elite universities are given to candidates who have some sort of extra “hook”, from rich or alumni parents to “sporting prowess”. The number of whites who benefit from this affirmative action is far greater than the number of blacks.