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Books

August 21, 2014

"Strongest Possible Endorsement"

Review of new book, Dear Committee Members, ". . . an epistolary novel consisting entirely of fictionalized letters of recommendation penned by professor Jason Fitger (failed novelist, failed husband, successful misanthrope)."

August 17, 2014

"The 12 Best Books The Marine Corps Wants Its Leaders To Read"

I've only read two (and seen the movie of one). Except for the Thomas Friedman, they all look worthwhile.

August 15, 2014

"A Political History of SF"

An extended argument that the best science fiction is so-called "hard" SF, which is exactly what I think.

August 07, 2014

Two on Amazon

"A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine".

Unlike past advances in retail gratification–the emergence of the supermarket in the mid-20th century, say, or the more recent rise to dominance of Walmart superstores–the workings of Amazon are almost entirely hidden from view. Amazon doesn’t want customers focused on the mechanics of its seemingly magical powers. But last month, the company gave WIRED a rare glimpse into one of the more than 90 warehouses it operates across the globe, looking to show that its fulfillment machine is finely tuned not just to serve Amazon itself but anyone else who wants to sell stuff on its site.

"Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed".

All of this angst and arguing is pushing forward a question: Is the resistance to Amazon a last-ditch bid to keep the future of American literary culture out of the hands of a rapacious corporation that calls books “demand-weighted units,” or an effort by a bunch of dead-enders and snobs to forestall a future that will be much better for most readers and writers?

Mr. Zandri, who 15 years ago had a $235,000 contract with a big New York house that went sour, has an answer.

“Everything Amazon has promised me, it has fulfilled — and more,” he said. “They ask: ‘Are you happy, Vince? We just want to see you writing books.’ That’s the major difference between corporate-driven Big Five publishers, where the writer is not the most important ingredient in the soup, and Amazon Publishing, which places its writers on a pedestal.”

July 09, 2014

"[Part of a] Review of Levitt and Dubner's 'Think like a Freak'"

The full review is gated, but John Lott has posted an excerpt on his blog. Includes this terrific line about the incorrect story that the price of a new car drops by many $thousands as soon as it is driven off the lot:

Typically, Levitt and Dubner fail to understand that when a problem arises in a market, it generally provides an incentive for those involved to remedy the problem.

July 02, 2014

"The Biggest Book Advances Of All Time"

I think this list offers mostly bad news about contemporary American culture.

April 28, 2014

Some articles on Piketty's book

CNN asserts Piketty's book is "A 700-page economics tome about income inequality [that] isn't an obvious hit" and the Washington Post describes it as an "unlikely bestseller". (I'll give you three guesses why it is a bestseller.)

Here are some of the most interesting articles about it I've seen:

Tyler Cowen's review. Tyler also comments, "These are old issues people, and there are no simple answers.  A lot of the current discussion is in fact moving the debate backwards from where it had been decades ago." Ya gotta love macro.

Clive Crook, "The Most Important Book Ever Is All Wrong".

Megan McArdle, "Piketty's Tax Hikes Won't Help the Middle Class".

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "The Systematic Errors In Thomas Piketty's New Book".

Stephen Moore, "The Left's Advice Would Bring A Second Great Depression".

Finally, a list of further links: Dan Hirschman, "Piketty’s 'Capital', Link Round-Up".

UPDATE: I have to include today's Kyle Smith piece, "This ‘ridiculously far-left’ economist is candy for liberals" which includes wonderful bits like this:

The No. 1 bestselling book on Amazon last week wasn’t about plucky teen girls battling for humanity in a futuristic dystopia. It wasn’t about a boy wizard or a college student who likes to be tied up and spanked. . . .

So, yeah, there’s still only one road to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, and it’s sheer escapist fantasy, preferably aligned with adolescent magical thinking.

And Smith links to economist Justin Wolfers who provides two possible reasons why Piketty's book is popular in some places

April 21, 2014

"President Obama (And Others) Who Don't 'Get' Liberty Should Read This Book"

I haven't read it yet, but George Leef makes it sound very worthwhile:

In early America, people spoke about liberty a great deal. Patrick Henry famously declared, “Give me liberty or give me death.” The preamble to the Constitution  speaks to the importance of securing “the blessings of liberty.”

These days, however, we hear or read the word much less often. It doesn’t seem to be in President Obama’s vocabulary at all. He has declared that inequality is the greatest problem we face, but can anyone remember his ever talking about the importance of liberty?

But while the president and all his minions toil away to subject us to an ever-increasing burden of mandates, prohibitions, and taxes, a few individuals are trying to convince people that we have already lost a great deal of liberty and should strive to get it back.

One of them is Tom Palmer of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Palmer has written and edited quite a few books, most recently Why Liberty: Your Life, Your Choices, Your Future.

George Will comments on another, related books that sounds worth reading: "Progressives are wrong about the essence of the Constitution".

And a current application of the argument: "In D.C., Republicans are the enablers, Democrats the mandators". (See also "Cataloging Washington’s Hidden Costs: Part 1: The Loss of Liberty".)

March 28, 2014

A fine weekend read

The full text of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.

Just because it's so very, very good.

March 26, 2014

"5 Brilliant Strategies Jeff Bezos Used To Build The Amazon Empire"

I think I've mentioned before that any organization should consider implementing the Two Pizza Rule.

And I'm currently reading and really enjoying Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. Strongly recommended.

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