What I’ve been reading

1. Elaine Dundy, Life ItselfShe as a teen taught Mondrian how to jitterbug, married Kenneth Tynan and moved into London high society, became an important writer in her own right, and got tired of him wanting to whip her.  I was never inclined to stop reading.

2. Amina M. Derbi, The Storyteller and the Terrorist in Our Newsfeeds.  In this novella a Muslim girl in Northern Virginia posts stories of murders on-line and those murders start coming true.  I finished this one too.  Unusual in its approach.

3. Timothy Larsen, The Slain God: Anthropologists and the Christian Faith.  On the surface this is an account of various famous British anthropologists and their views toward Christianity.  At a deeper level it contrasts the anthropological and religious approaches to understanding society.  Why do so many anthropologists have more tolerant attitudes toward the religions they study than to Christianity?  Do the Christian beliefs of an anthropologist help or hurt that individual’s understanding of other religions in the field?  Once you’ve seen another religion “from the outside” as an anthropologist, and observed its apparently arbitrary features, can you still be religious yourself?  Definitely recommended, here is my previous review of Larsen on John Start Mill.

4. Colin M. Waugh, Paul Kagame and Rwanda: Genocide and the Rwandan Patriotic Front.  This is perhaps the most conceptual book I know on the Rwandan genocide, most of all because it ties the killings to both prior and posterior events very well.  Recommended, but (for better or worse) note the author is relatively sympathetic to Kagame in the post-conflict period.  I did just buy Waugh’s book on Charles Taylor and Liberia, which you can take as a credible endorsement of this one.

Noteworthy is Kieran Healy, Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction.  I have not read it, but had positive impressions from my paw-through.


No physics, math, or computer science books? Curious why STEM is avoided here and in previous lists.

How is DataVis not STEM?

How is it STEM? Most sociologists don't write STEM related books.

DataVis is a field of computer science, in addition to the techniques being used in the hard sciences (though obviously not exclusively so).

Did you look at the book on Amazon? It may be a good book, but it isn't STEM.

Yes, I did. I view it as an introduction to a STEM topic for non-experts. Of course there's no universally accepted definition of STEM, so I guess it is kind of silly to argue the point.

Science Technology Economics Mathematics, right? Graphs are used in social science as well, which is what the book is an introduction to.

Anyway, based on what Cowen writes here, he almost never reads STEM topic books but that isn't unusual at all for those who have a deep interest in history.

The particular appeal of dividends could be the cashflow and the favorable tax treatment of these disbursements, so youre right you have to choose right and admit the tradeoff. Returns are just one way involving extracting value from your company without providing physical shares, however it is still equity causing the company.

Because DataViz is neither Science, Technology, Engineering nor Math? Don't treat me like I was born yesterday.

'Why do so many anthropologists have more tolerant attitudes toward the religions they study than to Christianity?'

Because anthropology does not require an anthropologist to give up their own perspective on their own culture?

One assumes, obviously, that the vast majority of anthropologists in this book come from a judeo-christian background.

Personally, I would have considerable doubt that anthropologists from an Asian cultural background are all that critical of Christianity in comparison to a belief system like Buddhism.

Analyzing the conflicts and challenges of post-genocide Rwanda in comparison to modern parallels, the work invites reassessment of Kagame’s leadership and government in an African context rather than measurement against Western standards, and critiques Western involvement in Rwanda since the early 1990s

I spent many months in Rwanda and working for a foreign investor in natural resources (cassiterite, the ore containing tin). In April they have a week of Remembrance and Reconciliation. Most of the Rwandans I came in contact with were a) getting paid quite low world wages, b) reasonably competent and able, thus underpaid, but c) willing to lie and steal quite a bit from white investor/ exploiters.

I worked with a picture of Kagame hanging on the wall in back of me (was my Skype picture for years). It seems he is trying to be a "benign dictator" like Lee Quan Yew of Singapore, in his results. But also in his winning of fairly free elections.

Most poor countries need increased private property and enforcement of contract with market choices, far more than "democracy" and corruption of "money in politics".

The Rwandan genocide of black majority poorer and shorter Hutus against the minority richer and taller black Tutsis was a terrible Tribalist genocide.

Racism is a subset of Tribalism. The US Dems are constantly supporting more Tribalism.

That is an amazing example of how someone can be, or seem, a rational observer up until .. oops!

Charlottesville did not happen in your blinkered world?

I don't agree with everything Tom G states above, but I'm not sure why you think this is a "gotcha". He didn't claim that there is no tribalism or racism on the right.

Really, dan?

5 paragraphs on why tribalism is bad, followed by calling out Democrats? You don't see a tin ear there?

"I hate tribalism, and that's why I will now named a group, 'US Dems,' as the enemy."

He doesn't actually call anyone the enemy, though.

clock got it, below. It is breaking out and stigmatizing a group as somehow being more tribal than "us."

How to beat that for lack of self-awareness.

But then, it's in the air:

"Trump claims without evidence that ‘most of the people not getting paid’ in partial government shutdown are Democrats."

So it's ok then.

That's some impressive cherry picking. You ignore the constant barrage of anti-white propaganda from the news media, Hollywood, academia, silicon valley, and the Democratic party, but the moment that a few dozen young, white men hold a rally to defend their interests, that's when identity politics becomes a problem.

When you kill a girl that's usually a sign that things are getting out of hand, yes.


Let's see, foriegn investor, natural resource (tin)... Underpaid natives (near slave wages)... Willing to steal from investor (form of rebellion)...
Hutu vs. Tutsi...
Hutu and Tutsi two tribes who for thousands of years Co existed, then along comes the Dutch (investors).. buddies up with on tribe, and tells them the other tribe is inferior, starting Tribal Warfare.... Why??
So the Dutch could get away with the natural resources, because if both tribes were paying attention and worked together their natural resources would not be stolen so easily... And the Profit margins for the Dutch would not be a lucrative...
Funny how nearly 400 years later the game is still be played the same way... Nothing ever truly changes...

Yes you are right - Africa was perfectly peaceful until the white man came. More seriously you are aware that the Tutsi conquered the Hutu in the 15C. And before that the Hutu conquered a previous tribe.

On the stealing of natural resources - I see this logic very often that foreign investors are simply stealing local resources. But resources don't develop themselves - you need technology and capital investment which comes from capitalists. Resources in the ground don't make any money for anyone. When capitalists come into your country and invest in extraction local people get jobs and there is a tax paying entity there which wasn't there before. This attitude of foreigners stealing resources so should be blocked simply causes countries to remain undeveloped and poor, not rich. Furthermore the high returns often complained about are post investment and development. A good example is an oil development. Usually the forward returns on such investments are pretty good as they have to compensate investors for all the dry holes.

'The US Dems are constantly supporting more Tribalism.'

As all Real Americans know, obviously.

The introduction to: "Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction" is good, but then it becomes yet another plotting-with-ggplot book.

The best graph design book, in terms of understanding the why's (based on experimental research) is: "Graph Design for Eye and Mind" by Stephen M. Kosslyn

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