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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.

March 24, 2014

Update to "Free college math textbooks"

Free textbooks authored by William G. Trench (previous link) have now moved here

March 12, 2014

"The Manual for Civilization Begins"

From the Long Now Foundation blog:

As we near completion on the construction at the new Long Now space in Fort Mason, we are also building the collection of books that will reside here.  We have named this collection The Manual for Civilization, and it will include the roughly 3000 books you would most want to rebuild civilization. While this may sound a little apocalyptic, we are not predicting any collapse of civilization. As it turns out, using this as an editing principle just seems to give us a very interesting collection of books.

So… If you were stranded on an island (or small hostile planetoid), what books would YOU want to have with you? 

Link via Metafilter

March 11, 2014

"Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg"

New book argues that Pickett's Charge wasn't as stupid as it seems

Carhart makes a compelling case that Lee had planned a large scale three pronged and brilliant strategic attack that would ensure that his army was as successful the on the third day as it had been on July 1 and 2. The third day’s three pronged strategic and simultaneous assault would ensure the destruction of the Army of the Potomac and southern triumph. The singular disaster of Pickett’s unsupported charge was not to happen the way that it ultimately played out. Carhart makes the argument that Lee had focused his considerable and brilliant strategic efforts on a simultaneous operation where Pickett would hit the Union Center, Ewell would attack Culp’s Hill and turn the Union flank and Jeb Stuart, incommunicado until the end of the 2nd day with detrimental effect for his commander, would on the third day execute the coup d’grace with a attack on the Union rear in concert with Pickett and Ewell.

March 08, 2014

"The hobbit — an unexpected deficiency"

More evidence on the importance of Vitamin D. From The Medical Journal of Australia:

Systematic textual analysis of The hobbit supports our initial hypothesis that the triumph of good over evil may be assisted to some extent by the poor diet and lack of sunlight experienced by the evil characters.

Via MetaFilter.

February 25, 2014

Two very different interpretations of one event

50 years later, two books reexamine the infamous murder of Kitty Genovese.

"New Details In One Of NYC's Most Infamous Murders Show The Scary Power Of 'The Bystander Effect'".

Kitty Genovese's neighbors — who did nothing to help her as she was brutally raped and murdered in Kew Gardens 50 years ago — were even more indifferent to the young victim's screams than has previously been reported, according to a new book.

"Debunking the myth of Kitty Genovese".

But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Nor­ton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.

The account of the murder at the top of this story is accurate, based on Cook’s reporting. Instead of a narrative of apathy, the media could have told instead of the people who tried to help, and of the complex circumstances — many boiling down to a lack not of compassion, but of information — that prevented some ­others from calling for aid.

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