Grand Pursuit. The story of economic genius. Sylvia Nasar. (A Beautiful Mind) 2011. ISBN 9780684872988. A book on a large scale it takes us from the time of Dickens through to present day. I am fearfully ignorant of economics having found it hard to find a logical thread in which books to read and which theories to follow. Nasar builds the story being true to context and the lives that shaped these brilliant men and women, while maintaining a middle ground of opinion. ( I am sure radical liberals and socialists alike will disagree with me) She is able to clearly position the growth of modern economics as these scholars built upon each others work (sometimes) while dealing with vast changes and upsets. I was most intrigued with how the Soviets were able to seduce many of these academics during and after WW II. Worth anyone’s time to read this well written and clear book.
- Sylvia Nasar at GMU Discussing Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius (coordinationproblem.org)
- 2nd Quotation of the Day… (cafehayek.com)
- ‘Beautiful Mind’ Author Suing Columbia University For How Much? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Paul Krugman on Irving Fisher (delong.typepad.com)
Seizing Our Destiny. 2012s best communities to live, work, grow and prosper in. Robert Bell, John Jung & Louis Zacharilla
Seizing Our Destiny. 2012s best communities to live, work, grow and prosper in. Robert Bell, John Jung & Louis Zacharilla 2012. ISBN 9781477635797. Published by www.intelligentcommunity.org. If you want to find out how Quebec has been able to devastate BC’s gaming industry, read this book. (Its also likely that Federal and Provincial funds were used) . Seven cities are detailed as to how they have been able to be innovative and grow jobs when others are losing them. The cities described include Quebec City, Riverside California, Saint John NB, Stratford On., Oulu FIN, and Tuichung City, Taiwan. None of these are big cities in their respective countries but they have been able to grow against the world trends. And it is all because they understand that it needs process, structure and people to make it work. So simple it is brilliant. A small but insightful book , great for short trip. The five attributes of Intelligent cites are:
- Broadband connectivity (Low cost fiber optics – as a community utility)
- Knowledge workforce – which needs to be developed and supported
- Digital inclusion. Policies and funding to ensure the have nos can also be included
- Innovation. Just like it is a needed in business, cities need it too to build the businesses needed
- Marketing and advocacy. Some hire a city manager skilled in economic development = tell the story skillfully
During one of our many discussions with Chinese expatriates while we were traveling together in China, this one about trade delegations was most disconcerting and surprising.
One fellow commented , “I do not let Chinese trade delegations into my plants in Canada.” I asked why. He had learned from colleagues that Chinese trade delegations to Canada were rarely about finding new business ventures. Rather it was about getting subsidized to free travel and high living for the participants while traveling, plus they are charged to take pictures/evidence of everything to take back.
One other fellow agreed, ” I saw these guys take pictures of my plant, the equipment, our layout, the supplies area, the power substation outside, right up to the power lines leading to the plant. After they left, they never responded to any of my emails or calls about any potential for business. This happened to friends of mine as well. Later I heard that CSIS is very concerned about how much espionage is being carried out by these trade delegations and that many Canadians, including city Mayors and Councils are unwitting contributors to this”
The first responded, ” I had a mid level employee retire to China and he was approached to play a role with Chinese companies talking to their local /state governments and banks officials . He would dress up in a good suit and get taken to lunches with these officials . He was held up as a major Canadian investor interested in the projects and often his presence was enough to get the approvals needed for these big projects to go ahead. The officials gained great face on being visited by dignitaries.
These Chinese companies and local officials will invite foreign trade commissions over to China as show ponies to impress the locals. The trade commission folks never find out their true purpose is to gain prestige for others, not business. If the Chinese govt really wanted foreigners to do business locally, they would remove the byzantine rules and barriers that are thrown up, ”
Hearing this I fear that many Canadian govt officials are being lead around by the nose with invitations to come to China. One could even call these boondoggles unless a lot of homework is done. We are very trusting and innocent in this style of business. Better that Canadian companies went to India if anywhere . IMHO.
- SolarWorld: U.S. customers and market support company during investigations of harmful Chinese trade practices (solarworld-usa.com)
The End of Growth. Adapting to our new economic model. Richard Heinberg. 2011 ISBN 9780865716957. This author makes way too much sense. The recent Rubin book started us off with a strong argument that we will not be able to continue with oil fired growth much longer. Heinberg analyses much more than declining low cost oil – he addresses declines in energy, water, food, fertilizers, arable land, and more, including geographic issues. In this he builds a very compelling case, even stronger than Rubin, that we are between a rock and hard place. Then he points out how our brains are hard wired to take the pleasure today , and not the little pain that would prevent big pain in future, giving present govts quite headache in coping with us. I appreciated that he goes on to lay out various ways we could mitigate what we have done and are doing. There is much here for anyone to chew over and make long term decisions. A very extraordinary thorough book relevant to our times and those of our children/grandchildren. I recommend this one to anyone who cares about the future.
- Thoughts on Richard Heinberg’s book “The End of Growth” (energybulletin.net)
- Can capitalism cope with the end of growth? (climateandcapitalism.com)
- Equality and inequality in a shrinking economy–strategies and consequences: INTERACTIVE VIDEO CHAT (energybulletin.net)
- Tom Schueneman: Redefining prosperity and the fallacy of growth (newanthropocene.wordpress.com)
- Talking happiness (3eintelligence.wordpress.com)
- ‘The End of Growth’… and then What? (in Tyee Books) (thetyee.ca)
- A call for a new economics: It’s time to redefine success (grist.org)
- Renewable Energy: Our Only Way Out? (earthtechling.com)
Why China Will Never Rule The World. Travels in the two Chinas. Troy Parfitt. 2011. ISBN 9780986803505. Troy contacted me to look at his book. He warned me that it was controversial and Amazon would publish it in Sept. I enjoy a good travelogue like this one. He is a Canadian history teacher who taught for 10 years in Taiwan and is now back in Canada. He is just a regular person like us all with no “hidden interests or agendas”. The book was prompted by a growing disconnect he saw between his experiences in China and the “roaring noise” he heard in the media that China was on a roll, that this was their era and they were on their way to a global hegemony. So he took a total of three months to travel through China and the Taiwan to “live” in the two Chinas, talk to regular folks, and see if there was this groundswell. He took the routes of the residents, eschewed the tourist trails and essentially went native, with the record button turned on. The time was just before the ’08 Olympics. This was an eye opening trip for him. He used his history background to link the past to the present and the future. It is an easy read, well written and annotated with a style that allows you, the reader to build your own opinions from the views that Troy brings back.
I do not want to spoil the book for you, but I now agree with Troy’s thesis – China can not “rule the world”. The countries behavior is too tied into past history ( they can never forgive a slight – eg America backing the S Koreans, despite pouring billions into China during WW II, and now supporting Taiwan. The other slights are the Europeans and Americans having the opium wars.) China will not forgive and forget and then move forward. Revenge for these and other events will eventually come. The behavior of Chiang Kai Chek and Mao was driven more often by revenge than anythng else.
From this book I take away that:
- China will never move to a democracy (Communism “fits” the Confucian culture. too well).
- When the leaders feel they have the US in a tight situation (Eg Move to sell their US bonds, or cripple their IT) they will move against Taiwan, even tho’ very few Taiwanese wish it.
- Hong Kong will slowly lose the freedoms they have now and will never get the vote ( When I was over there I heard over and over again that the plan was for Shanghai to eclipse Hong Kong as a financial centre).
- The “media” in China present the opposite of the truth until it becomes a “cultural truth”
- The educational system predicates against graduating students who can think for themselves, putting them well behind “western ” abilities
- The emerging wealthy middle class will not give power to the 800 million poverty stricken peasants, preferring to transfer wealth to Western investments
- The West will continue to mess up in dealing with this country, since they will never understand the basis of Chinese decisions. The West will be played like a harmonica (Like they are being played in Pakistan)
- Religious freedom will never come to the country, persecution will continue
- Copyright protection will not take place in China, they are too good at copying everything.
- It will continue to be one of the most polluted countries ever and a growing global contributor.
- The concept of losing face is mostly a ploy to ensure that the country is not called out for its blatant acts.
- The leadership will continue to take advantage of the Chinese people. Corruption will always be there.
- We should watch to see what plays out in Africa with the heavy Chinese investment.
I liked it and suggest this is a good one for the “skeptical” reader. You can see how the the authors becomes quite emotional in his responses through the description of his initial openness and the resulting experiences. I particularly enjoyed his use of Orwell’s 1984 commentary.
- Taiwan: Practitioners in Nantou Share Their Experiences of Clarifying the Facts of Falun Dafa to People in China (Photos) (vttyks.wordpress.com)
- China’s leadership: caught between inflation and deflation – Paul Denlinger (chinaherald.net)
- China: Jiang Zemin’s death ‘pure rumor’ (edition.cnn.com)
- China Censors Internet Rumors on Jiang’s Health (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Historic Agreement between Taiwan and China (politics.ie)
- You: Students from Taiwan denied disaster funds (search.japantimes.co.jp)
- US and China… Friends or Foes? (politicalpromise.co.uk)
- In U.S. Visit to China, Sea Dispute Looms Large (online.wsj.com)
- Kissinger on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” with Neal Conan and Ted Koppel – Part 1/3 (ilookchina.net)
Bin Laden. The man who declared war on America. Yossef Bodansky. 2000. ISBN 0761535810. This is a chilling book. On one hand you have a thoroughly researched series of briefing notes on how the Islamic militants grew their network of reources worldwide from the late 80s through to 2000. These notes were prepared for the US Govt Antiterrorism desk. Then you have the sheer blindness of some of the American powers that be that had this material, yet still became dupes of the Islamist extremists in Somalia, Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. In practise terrorism exercises the US found that in the 90s their groups such as the FBI, CIA and so on could not work together or share information.
Then you read how supposed US allies ( Saudi Arabia, & Pakistan) manipulate US liberal tendencies to their own ends – on the one hand funding and locating terrorist raining camps and on the other getting US help, aid and nuclear know how given to them . The author lays out lots of evidence on how the Pakistan secrets service is still a major supporter of Islamic militants and how much of the the worldwide terrorism in the 90s was planned and funded by the Iranians (which they still do) as well s Syria and Jordan.
When you read the dates of the various meetings, militants announcements and activities you have to wonder what the Clinton administration was doing when they had all this information in front of them Even more disheartening is the realization that the root anger over what the Crusaders did in the 12th century is still part of the Islamic fundamentalists belief structure. That and the ongoing existence of Isreal are anger spots that will not go away.
The sheer numbers of youth who are being inculcated into retrograde Islamaic fundamentalism that is really stuck in the 12th century, is overwhelming. This creates armies of undereducated hard liners who will die for a cause. This is not an easy book to read yet it is a must read for an eduacted man and woman. I had a hard time not to see much of what is being tried as eventually futile efforts since for the militants Islam is the only future for the world. Unless the masses of citizens in these repressive monotheistic states such as Iran, Syria, Jordan, Sudan, Somalia can somehow come together to remove the top levels that promote this hatred, little can be done.
Bin Laden appears to be a very bright educated individual, who built a network that could well outlive him. (Some say he is already dead, and is a figurehead since 2001) . Certianly funding, resources, and an organization of terror is well entrenched.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Bin Laden Blasts US for Climate Change (abcnews.go.com)
- Panetta: We have well and truly kicked the asses of Al Qaeda (hotair.com)
- Bin Laden blames U.S. for climate change (msnbc.msn.com)
- The question that won’t go away: where is Osama bin Laden? (guardian.co.uk)
- Bin Laden’s son calls on Iran to free his siblings (msnbc.msn.com)
Guns Germs, and Steel. The fates of human society. Jared Diamond. 1997. ISBN 139780393317558. When first published this book set new ideas in motion as to why over time some civilizations rise and flourish, while others do not. His insights into the ease of trade and technology movement allowed with the east west alignment of Eurasia vs the NS alignment of North America based on geographic and climatic zones is very useful. His long cycle analysis of China, New Guinea, Polynesia and other sociaties gave us ideas about species extinction, warfare, and technology acceptance as well as showing how groups benefits from smallness and friendly competition ( unity of China vs fragmentation of Europe) . The base work still stands to help create a “science” of history and it has made it much more relevant to the average reader. The authors reputation has suffered over the years from what appears to be some inability to validate some of his references, especially in New Guinea. His writing style is pedantic and repetitive, with an inability to “stay on course” to finish an idea with an idea before veering off to a pet thesis. If you are a history buff this book warrants a serious read and is worth it.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Direct Genetic Link between Australia and India Provides New Insight into the Origins of Australian Aborigines (spittoon.23andme.com)
- *Replenishing the Earth*, by James Belich (marginalrevolution.com)
Virus Hunters of the CDC. Joseph B. McCormick & Susan Fisher-Hoch. 1996. ISBN 15703627777. This is the real life story of two preeminent specialists in those nasty viruses that arise in Africa. Lassa fever, Ebola, (the hemorrhagics) as well as HIV. They are right on the front lines (now in Pakistan) managing at great risk to do the tedious and detailed work needed to help save lives. The real crying shame of all this is the continued self serving corruption and tribalism that continues in Africa which prevents the known remedies to these “plagues” from being reffectvelt used. I was also aghast to find that the combination of increased urbanism and the misuse of Western medical technology (re-using disposable needles for injections etc0 has a direct relation to the increase in AIDs world wide. Very worthwhile book to take heed of.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Researchers identify new deadly virus in Africa (cbc.ca)
- Winnipeg’s fortress of deadly disease (cbc.ca)
- Virus found in Africa that causes Ebola-like bleeding (ctv.ca)
- New killer virus found in Africa (msnbc.msn.com)
- Books: Epidemics, Fearsome and Fascinating (nytimes.com)
- Scientists block Ebola infection in cell-culture experiments (scienceblog.com)
Decline and Fall. Europe’s Slow Motion Suicide. Bruce Thornton. 2008. ISBN 9781594032068. A short well written sombre book. The author is a classisist, who has an impressive academic background.
(From the UK description) Despite the utopian promises of the EU, conditions are ripe for fulfilling Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis‘s prediction that in fifty years Europe will be an Islamic society, which is to say Europe will culturally disappear. In this penetrating and provocative book, the classicist Bruce S. Thornton shows how Europe reached this pass andanalyzes what Europe’s decline means for the United States.
My lesson learned is that by turning away from its spiritual roots in Christianity (Through an Eloi-like pursuit of personal satisfaction) Europe is leaving itself open to a gradual Islamic assimilation. Compound this with the relative ease for immigrants to be caught in the EU social safety net, but continue to deny them upward mobility into the better schools, jobs and full integration into EU society and you have a breeding ground for anger, crime, terrorism and isolation from society.
The author traces this disconnect to deeply held national prejudices in Europe. He points out what N. America is doing well in this regard but hints that the US just may get tired of bailing Europe out with money and troops. Although Europe desires to solve all world conflicts with diplomacy vs might they have been ineffective in all cases – resulting in Canada, the UK and the US putting troops and funds in play. The Islamic nations see Europe as having no world wide power to affect them. They just expect them to accommodate, apologize and give way to Islam. (The population growth of immigrants is incredible.)
He asks the question, “When will the US decide that NATO is an ineffective use of largely American funds and pull the support? “ That is a good one.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Stimulus Plan Has Even Europe Nervous (abcnews.go.com)
- Indonesian clerics ban yoga mantras for Muslims (telegraph.co.uk)
- Population growth and climate: The EU-15 vs. the U.S. (climateprogress.org)
- As Europe’s Economies Slide, Protectionism Is on the Rise (time.com)
- The battle to shape globalisation (guardian.co.uk)
- MAD about Iran? (powerlineblog.com)
Salt. A world history. Mark Kurlanski.2002. ISBN 0142001619. I wish they had taught history this way when I was chained to my high school seat. Instead of itching to get at math, i would have paid attention. The author (who has a delightful easy to read writing style) cut his teeth writing about the Basques and also cod. This one is a real keeper. Yes it has some recipes (very old) and lots of geography covered (since everyone needs/uses salt). But the interlinking between the rise and fall of civilizations that followed the fortunes of the salt industry, is simply fascinating. Great airplane /holiday book – reads like a fiction novel and it just makes so much sense. The gold nuggets for me were the insights into how govts, families and cartes manipluate these markets and countries. One thing I believe is that cultures and people do not change.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Spreading Islam through Christian & Public Schools By Berit Kjos (usapartisan.blogspot.com)