What I’ve been reading

Economic Science Fictions, edited by William Davies.  I didn’t quite come away with a takeaway from this book, but still I feel obliged to pass knowledge of it along to you.  It is a bunch of essays about economic themes in science fiction, and/or how the two “genres” might be more closely integrated, with a lead essay by Ha-Joon Chang.

Allen C. Guelzo, Reconstruction: A Concise History.  Could this new book be the single best brief introduction to Reconstruction available?  Recommended.

Emily Dufton, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America.  I loved this book, which I also consider a paradigmatic example of how to write a wonderful non-fiction work.  Throughout it is clear, substantive, balanced, passes various ideological Turing tests, and it focuses on essentials, as well as framing everything in terms of broader theories of social change.  It is sure to make my best books of the year list, and if she had ten other books I would buy them all sight unseen.  Here is Dufton’s home page.

Bekelech Tola, Injera Variety from Crop Diversity.  She explains where all the different types of injera come from.  I hadn’t realized for instance that teff is sometimes mixed with maize, or sorghum flour, or cassava powder, all in the service of variety.


From a blurb/review of the Econ and Sci Fi book: “This unique volume of what might be called social-science fiction demonstrates that the left is now capable of imagining what world or worlds might replace the dying universe of liberal capitalism. It's a rare pleasure to be able to say of a collection of essays by left-wing scholars that it's exciting―but this one is.

(Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision and Utopia or Bust) ”

No, Mr Kunkel, I get the sense that this will be a collection of essays that will make academic scholarship on donkey performativity (see the comment in Tyler’s post on donkeys in Ethiopia) seem positively scholarly.

But hey, finally the left is capable of imagining what will replace the dying world of liberal capitalism. I can guess! Illiberal state capitalism, a’la China. Or whatever it is Venezuela is becoming.

China isn't "illiberal state capitalism" you idiot. Its communist. Period. Stop. End of conversation.

You are correct. You are a veritable Orwell. I hate commies.

I've been reading Keith Olbermann tweets on President Trump. So glad that, unlike Roseanne, Olbermann's tweets are not repugnant or inconsistent with the values of ABC. Welcome back to ABC/ESPN, Keith. Your values are our values .......

Roseanne's tweet was bigoted and stupid. Her explanations seem silly and pointless. So I'm not terribly upset with her being fired. Frankly from a Right wing POV, I don't want Roseanne remotely associated as a prominent figure.

On the other hand, I'm more than willing to let Keith Olbermann represent Left wing values.

It was cruel. Being Roseanne is was bound to be stupid. But I don't see it was bigoted unless you assume she was intentionally making a racially charged comment. Instead of just being stupid and cruel.

The Left is far too quick to see racism everywhere.

But Roseanne is a mental health case, not a right wing spokesperson so I don't much care. Except that if we do not protect her, there will be no one left when they come for you and me.

"..unless you assume she was intentionally making a racially charged comment. "

Yeah, no way to read the tea leaves or tell her intent. With Roseanne it might have been sheer mindless babble. But I tend to judge by actions not intent.

I don't give Keith Olbermann the benefit of the doubt when he starts babbling about "Angry white men". He's a bigot but a Lefty bigot. And the Left is ok with that. So let ABC promote those bigoted values so we can all see where they stand.

Trumpers in social media either end up fired or in jail. This is an unproductive lot.

Reconstruction: one might interpret the failure of reconstruction as proof that the war wasn't really about slavery and liberty, unless liberty for me but not thee is the real meaning of liberty. Conflict between the north and the south was about far more than slavery. It was about economics and the relative power of the two regions. Even questions like (Spanish) control over the Mississippi River was a regional conflict. Indeed, that conflict continues unabated up to today. Inequality is the driver of conflict. Today, the regional conflict continues between north and south, but also is between the coastal regions and the inland regions, with the coastal regions adopting essentially the role of the north during the civil war and the inland regions adopting the role of the south during the civil war. An updated version of the centuries long conflict between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies.

No, it was about slavery. Being opposed to slavery just didn't necessarily mean favoring equal rights or any other associations it might have today. For one thing, most of the abolitionists in the 1850s supported colonization.

Why is a used copy of Economic Science Fictions more expensive than a new copy?

An Important economist scribbled in the margins?

And why is the Kindle version more expensive than the hard back? Econ FAIL.

Price discrimination? If you want it NOW, you have to pay more.

Hmmm, yeah that is a good point. And dedicated Kindle users would value the Kindle version to a greater extent.

I will admit that it doesn't bother me anymore if I see a Kindle copy at the same price as the softback. I don't want a physical book anymore and I've gotten over the, "Hey, they are making more money off me."

So, perhaps this is just the natural shift in the marketplace. It's possible that "dead tree" books are starting to be devalued and the effect is to seek the price of e-books going up with inflation while the price of hardbacks stays flat.

Gosh, why would e-version be more expensive? Hmmm, hmmm. Let me think. Well, obviously it violates market theory since we all know that prices are set according to the price of inputs and not what a buyer is willing to pay. Hmm, tough one...

Marijuana In America

Exactly why this is still a controversy is still a mystery to me.

The research that made it a schedule 1 drug has always been flawed. And then, of course, further research into marijuana was and, I believe, still is essentially prohibited in America. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. No one dies from marijuana overdoses.

Then there is the on-going drug wars. Trump doesn't like MS-13. Wait, I misspoke, Trump likes MS-13 because he can use them to pursue his own agendas. But MS-13 and many other criminal groups only exist because of our stupid, destructive drug war.

Are you a conservative who believes in limited government? Then get rid of the stupid drug laws. After all who caused the opiod epidemic? The drug companies.

Liberals aren't really liberal. Conservatives aren't really conservative. Liberals lack heart, conservatives a brain.

"Marijuana is safer than alcohol."

Yep, but alcohol is pretty damn bad. I see no essential contradiction in the position that, for historical and practical reasons, alcohol should remain legal, but that other net negatives shouldn't be legalized.

"After all who caused the opiod epidemic? The drug companies."

The drug companies "caused" the opioid epidemic by pushing drugs on people unnecessarily, not exactly a great argument for making them even easier to get.

Net negatives??????

Where people can get marijuana legally, opioid addiction is lessened.

So your argument is what exactly? We should let people abuse alcohol and imprison, or at least give a criminal record to, people who use a safer drug called marijuana and destroy their lives and their families as well?


Smoking causes more deaths than marijuana.
Alcohol causes more deaths and more violence than marijuana.
Opioids cause more death than marijuana.
Guns cause more deaths than marijuana.

I do not know what drugs you are on but I suggest you stop taking them.

Thanks. Ordered Guelzo just now from B&N

The problem with marijuana in the USA - and by extension the problem with selling a book describing marijuana in the USA - is that our culture, as encyclopedic as it has been in so many ways, has yet to come up with a likable avatar for the marijuana aficionado.

Cheetz and Chontz? no, for obvious reasons - Willie ponytail Whatshisname - a few good melodies, but that old biologically selfish look in his wrinkled lonely ponytailed face is a turn-off, ditto for Harrelson and McConaugher - and all the famous lady pot smokers are also known for harder stuff (Joplin, Holliday, Marge Simpson, Lilo).

Whereas alcohol has got WC Fields (so amusing so often!), Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn as that party girl imagined by Capote, Churchill (the guy who was instrumental in winning the recent war, at least that part of the war that was waged between the British Islands and the parts of the Continent that had gone very wrong in the socialist, German-style, way - pretty big deal, that), not to mention Bruce Lee as the Drunken Kung Fu Master.

Oh and nobody likes to think of the Beatles stoned, that was their worst music, much much worse than even Glenn Gould when he was being artistically solipsistic.

Still, I would like to see every little police department that wasted time arresting marijuana smokers when they should have been out surveilling worser criminals be forced to write a check - a small check, of course, but nevertheless a check - with an apology note to accompany the reparations check - to each of the victims of that easy 20th century/early 21st century form of stubborn and, in retrospect, even nasty, bureaucratic laziness, the "arrest for marijuana possession"

A few hundred thousand such checks will make this country better in ways you cannot imagine

Trust me on that.

trust me on the "will make this country better" part not the "better in ways you cannot imagine" part : it is always best to consider that, if someone said something ambiguous, the correct meaning was the less unwise one! trust me on that, too

The forthcoming 'Bread Variety from Crop Diversity' will appeal to a broader market. It explains where all the different types of bread come from, as many haven’t realized, for instance, that wheat is sometimes mixed with maize, or smelt, or potato flour, or barley, or oats, or rye, all in the service of variety.

Teff flour is adulterated with other types of flours in nearly all cases for solely two reasons:

-Teff is too expensive (this is the case the world over for diapora communities, and also in Ethiopia for large segments of the population who cannot afford the staple)
-Teff is difficult to source (this is the case the world over, and in Ethiopia in many regions where conditions are not suitable for the crop)

Any Ethiopian worth his teff will choose 100% teff over admixure in near to 100% of cases if available/affordable.

That said, also good to remember that injera is a staple only in certain regions, and for certain populations in Ethiopia.

Enset ('Fake Banana') is widely consumed in the whole very populous south-west, while lowlanders typically consumed dairy and meat and for cereal sorghum and the like.

One interesting fact on Ethiopian diet, is that some have seen in the insistance of Christian Orthodoxy on fasting, as a main reason for Islam having won the hearts of most in Ethiopia's vast arid lands--the pastoralists that lived there were incapable of following the religious plant based diets of the Church, while conversely ramadan was easy for them to adopt.

Of course, you can now consume Pizza Hut in Addis Ababa, and surely, with time, they will sprinkle a little teff into their pastry to make a special, that will be then sold at a premium.

A little like McDonald's having a goat's cheese option in France (which they do).

"Paradigmaic example" is redundant.

Commenting not to be a grammar nazi but rather because I find it fascinating how the usage of "paradigm" has changed post Thomas Kuhn. Is the contemporary usage of being a favored set of rules and beliefs for conceptualizing a topic so prevalent that the "example" part is necessary to distinguish its traditional use here as an exemplar?

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