Should-Read: George Orwell: On Book Reviewers: "These books deal with subjects of which he is so ignorant...
Science and Technology as Institutions
Partha Dasgupta (2007): Economics: A Very Short Introduction
Societal Well-Being and Democratic Government
What I (try to) make my principals students read before class begins; Partha Dasgupta (2007): Economics: A Very Short Introduction http://amzn.to/2gR2jH3. Question: should I try to make my students in my other classes read it too?
Me: Note: This is a game theorist's short introduction to economics. Its focus is on:
John Maynard Keynes (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace: "After 1870 there was developed on a large scale an unprecedented situation, and the economic condition of Europe became during the next fifty years unstable and peculiar...
Hoisted from the Archives from 2012: Eric Hobsbawm, RIP: Let me correct the late Tony Judt, who said: "If he had not been a lifelong Communist, [Eric Hobsbawm] would be remembered simply as one of the great historians of the 20th century."
It should read: "Even though he was a lifetime Communist, Eric Hobsbawm was one of the greatest historians of the 20th century."
A thousand years from now people are likely to still read The Age of Revolution and The Age of Capital. I have tried to write reviews of those two books, and so far I have failed--I have been unable to write anything that conveys just how good they are.
Kindred Winecoff also has some thoughts:
Benedict Anderson's (1983) Imagined Communities is a great book--but great at posing the problem of why political action and agency went to the ethno-linguistic nation and not to the class, not great at finding a solution to the problem...
**Ernest Gellner's also 1983 Nations and Nationalism is a much better place to start...
The roots of growth: Brad DeLong examines a study that places the origins of the Industrial Revolution in fifteenth-century Europe.
A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy
Joel Mokyr Princeton University Press: 2016.
What is modern economic growth? Going by the best available measure (it might be more honest to say 'guess'), today's average material living standards and economic productivity levels are some 20 times what they were in the agricultural era (about 6000 BC to AD 1500). And the efficiency with which humanity uses technology and organization to transform resources into useful commodities is currently growing at 2% per year — perhaps 100 times the rate common before the Industrial Revolution... Read MOAR at Nature
The subject for the day is the domestication of the horse--where and when and how and why, as recounted by David W. Anthony in his fascinating and absorbing new book, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language (2008)--and also a salute to the luckiest horse in the Fifth Millennium BCE. Per Anthony, the date is about 4800 BCE; the place is in what he chooses to call ‘the Pontic-Caspian steppes,’ just above the Caspian Sea. The ‘why’ is interesting: apparently not for riding, but for food—horses were big and meaty and could live over the winter in cold climates (riding came later).
As to ‘how,’ the flip answer is ‘it wasn’t easy,’ which is not surprising when you stop to think of it: horses—or, more precisely, stallions—are a notoriously tricky lot and they wouldn’t take kindly to being stabled or hobbled or slapped into harness. But as to precisely how, the DNA evidence provides a remarkable clue. Per Anthony:
September 14, 2016 at 08:06 AM in Books, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, History, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth | Permalink | Comments (7)
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Live from the Kansas City Convention Center: Niall Alexander: [“Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; Death is the Fifth, and Master of All”: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin]:
An orogene, or—if you want to be a bigot about it, as most of the people of the Stillness do, to be sure—a rogga...
Caroline Duroselle-Melish: Extravagantly Large Paper:
What should someone coming of age in 2020 or so--someone post-millennial, who has no memories of all of any part of the twentieth century--learn about communism, and really existing socialism?
It is, I think, very clear by now to everyone except the most demented of the herbal teabaggers--and it should be clear to all--that communism was not one of the brightest lights on humanity's tree of ideas. Nobody convinced by the writings of Marx and his peers that a "communist" society was in some sense an ideal who then achieved enough political power to try to make that vision a reality has built a society that turned out well. All, measured by the yardsticks of their time and geographical situation, were either moderately bad, worse, disastrous, or candidates for the worst-régime-every prize. None attained the status of:
a prayse and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “the Lord make it like that of New England.” For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill...
Can This Capitalism Be Saved?
Here is piece of mine left on the cutting room floor elsewhere. So I might as well throw it up here.
Reviewing: Robert Reich: Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few http://amzn.to/29Viz6w
Robert Reich’s Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few http://amzn.to/29Viz6w is an excellent book. It powerfully argues that America needs once again—as it truthfully reminds us that we did four times in the past—restructure its institutions to build both private and public countervailing power against the monopolists and their political servants in order to right the distribution of income and boost the pace of economic growth.
Must-Read: Leah Schnelbach: Thinking Through Violence in The Just City and The Philosopher Kings:
In a different book, the narrative would become either ‘Maia’s recovery’ or ‘Ikaros’ redemption’, and Walton would track their lives and relationships with this night as a fulcrum point. Instead, it’s one night in their lives...
What field in the Levant could possibly require a plough pulled by 24 oxen? What is going on here?
1 Kings: 19:15-21:
And the Lord said unto [Elijah]: "Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
Aceto: Review of: Cynthia Ozick: Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Lit...: I am the Problem:
Cynthia Ozick has written a collection of essays centered on criticism. Criticizing criticism is a thankless job. One gets oneself into all sorts of quagmire. She posits 'nothing is worth doing unless it has never been done before...', as one mode, then the other as '...the sweet value of ripeness.'
Eleven free books in the mailbox this morning from last week--three of which look absolutely superb, and three of which look quite good. Here are the ones that look superb:
But it would take me nine hours to read just these three with proper attention, let along the three that look quite good...
Something's gotta give...
Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz: The Race Between Education and Technology http://amzn.to/29Yv3XC
Richard von Glahn: The Economic History of China: From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century http://amzn.to/29jBkwt
Well, the stars have aligned, and those intelligences vast, cool, and unsympathetic...
No: That is not what I mean.
Well, the stars have aligned, and I will be teaching nothing but economic history next year:
Ian Morris: Why the West Rules--for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future http://amzn.to/29AVKTj
Live from Crawford: Thomas Mallon: W Is for Why: How Bad Can a President Be?: A new biography exposes the mysterious confidence behind George W. Bush’s greatest failures: Jean Edward Smith’s biography presents a headstrong, doubt-free, and curiously opaque George W. Bush:
Gavin Wright: *Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South http://amzn.to/29pmIQV
Barry Eichengreen: Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History http://amzn.to/29pp429
Robert Gordon (2016): The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War http://amzn.to/29q7WX9
Robert Allen: From Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrialization Experience http://amzn.to/29lo36h
**Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff: Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions http://amzn.to/29pRxlx
Robert C. Allen: The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective http://amzn.to/29kOUhz
This course will provide students with an introduction to the research frontier in economic history by studying a carefully curated list of recent books in the field. We will undertake a critical reading of these books, focusing on both their strengths and weaknesses. General questions will include the following. Does the topic justify a book-length treatment? Does the author successfully sustain his/her argument throughout the book? What is the role of books, as opposed to articles, in research in economic history (and in economics more generally)? Supplementary readings are provided to point up this last question. Most sessions will be student led, in that students will take charge of presenting the author’s argument and stimulating classroom discussion.
Course template and architecture by Barry J. Eichengreen...
**Peter Temin and Joachim Voth: Prometheus Shackled: Goldsmith Banks and England’s Financial Revolution after 1700 http://amzn.to/29kqXMc
Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson: Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 http://amzn.to/29xpaVm
Steven Radelet: The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World http://amzn.to/29rguNR
Philip Hoffman: Why Did Europe Conquer the World? http://amzn.to/29qmfd7
From the best review of the book:
Dietz Vollrath (2015) Dumb Luck in Historical Development:
Philip Hoffman’s Why Did Europe Conquer the World? [is]... on its face, is another entry in a long line of... Western European... dominance... due to a rather specific characteristic: disease tolerance, or cows, or a knobbly coastline.... But Hoffman’s work is different... a model of learning-by-doing in gunpowder technology... only... if you actually fight.... Europe['s]... lead was not due to some unique European characteristic, but rather was luck of the draw.... Hoffman... saw a correlation between European states and higher firepower, but... was willing to accept that this correlation--while meaningful in giving Europe an advantage--did not necessarily imply some kind of deep structural advantage for Europe...
Six Orienting Questions for the Book as a Whole:
George Orwell: Wells, Hitler and the World State: Paul Krugman sends us to George Orwell writing in the summer of 1941:
Wells, Hitler and the World State: All sensible men for decades past have been substantially in agreement with what Mr. Wells says; but the sensible men have no power and, in too many cases, no disposition to sacrifice themselves. Hitler is a criminal lunatic, and Hitler has an army of millions of men, aeroplanes in thousands, tanks in tens of thousands. For his sake a great nation has been willing to overwork itself for six years and then to fight for two years more, whereas for the common-sense, essentially hedonistic world-view which Mr. Wells puts forward, hardly a human creature is willing to shed a pint of blood.
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Books Inc.: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek: "Manu Saadia discusses Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek...
...What would the world look like if everybody had everything they wanted or needed? Delving deep into the details and intricacies of 24th century society, Trekonomics explores post-scarcity and whether we, as humans, are equipped for it. What are the prospects of automation and artificial intelligence? Is there really no money in Star Trek? Is Trekonomics at all possible? Manu will be in conversation with UC Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong.
June 25, 2016 at 12:06 PM in Berkeley, Books, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science Fiction, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (3)
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Live from the Make-Out Room: Charlie Stross: Gratuitous Self-Promotion: The US West Coast Remix: "On Saturday the 9th...
...I'll be appearing at Writers with Drinks in San Francisco at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St., from 7:30pm.
Manu Saadia: Trekonomics: Introduction:
I have shown how the ideas of progression and of the indefinite perfectibility of the human race belong to democratic ages. Democratic nations care but little for what has been, but they are haunted by visions of what will be; in this direction their unbounded imagination grows and dilates beyond all measure. Here then is the wildest range open to the genius of poets, which allows them to remove their performances to a sufficient distance from the eye. Democracy shuts the past against the poet, but opens the future before him... Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
...it no longer seemed so important whether the world was Adam Smith or Karl Marx. Neither made very much sense under the new circumstances... Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
Live from Thessaly: Stubby the Rocket: Necessity Sweepstakes!:
I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaukon the son of Ariston, that I might offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of the Thrakians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant Polemarkhos the son of Kephalos chanced to catch sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by the cloak behind, and said: ‘Polemarkhos desires you to wait…’
‘Why?’ I responded.
Because tor.com is giving away a galley copy of Necessity, the third volume of Jo Walton’s Thessaly. And there was a drinking party last January over at Crooked Timber, in which part of the discussion went:
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Books Inc.: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek: "Manu Saadia discusses Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek...
Live from R'lyeh: Charles Stross: The Nightmare Stacks: "A vampire is haunting Whitby; it’s traditional...
...It’s an hour after dusk on a Saturday evening four weeks before the spring gothic festival. Alex the Vampire strolls along the sea front, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his tweed jacket. There’s a chill breeze blowing onshore, and he has the pavement to himself as he walks, eyes downcast and chin tucked into his chest, lost in thought. What profound insight does the creature of the night contemplate as he paces along the North Promenade beside the beach, opposite a row of moonlit houses? What ancient wisdom, what hideous secrets haunt the conscience of the undying?
Let’s take a look inside his head:
Alex is fretting about his Form P.764 Employee Travel and Subsistence Claim, which he will have to fill out once he returns to his cramped room in a local bed and breakfast...
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Manu Saadia: The Big Idea – Whatever: "You’ve got books on the physics of Star Trek...
'Live long and prosper.'
'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.'
'Make it so.'
‘Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.’
'I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.'
'You can stop it!' 'Stop it? I'm counting on it!'
Over the past century Star Trek has woven itself into our socio-cultural DNA. It provides a set of cultural reference points to powerful ideas, striking ideas, beneficial ideas that help us here in our civilization think better--even those of us who are economists.
Live from Hollywood in the 1930s: From the literary critic of the New Masses. How dare Ernest Hemingway write anything bad about a Comintern apparatchik!
Alvah Bessie: Review of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", by Ernest Hemingway: "To Have and Have Not was a vastly imperfect work...
...the author’s satirical treatment of the human parasites who lived on luxury yachts of the Florida keys was both brittle and jejune, and his old limitations were amply manifest: the interchangeability of his conversation; his feeble understanding of female character; his inability to fully explore and plumb character at all....
Looking Forward to Four Years During Which Most if Not All of America's Potential for Human Progress Is Likely to Be Wasted
With each passing day Donald Trump looks more and more like Silvio Berlusconi: bunga-bunga governance, with a number of unlikely and unforeseen disasters and a major drag on the country--except in states where his policies are neutralized.
Nevertheless, remember: WE ARE WITH HER!
The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading...
"Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit..." — Brad DeLong
"I have never subscribed to the notion that someone can unilaterally impose an obligation of confidentiality onto me simply by sending me an unsolicited letter—or an email..." — Patrick Nielsen Hayden
"I can safely say that I have learned more than I ever would have imagined doing this.... I also have a much better sense of how the public views what we do. Every economist should have to sell ideas to the public once in awhile and listen to what they say. There's a lot to learn..." — Mark Thoma
"Tone, engagement, cooperation, taking an interest in what others are saying, how the other commenters are reacting, the overall health of the conversation, and whether you're being a bore..." — Teresa Nielsen Hayden
"With the arrival of Web logging... my invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least. Plus, web logging is an excellent procrastination tool.... Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience.... Web logging is a promising way to do that..." — Brad DeLong
"Blogs are an outlet for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings.... At Chicago, I found that some of my colleagues overestimated the time and effort I put into my blog—which led them to overestimate lost opportunities for scholarship. Other colleagues maintained that they never read blogs—and yet, without fail, they come into my office once every two weeks to talk about a post of mine..." — Daniel Drezner
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787
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