What I’ve been reading

1. John Markoff, Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand.  He went from Ayn Rand to Buckminster Fuller, was deeply involved in Native American issues, saw the San Francisco scene arrive, did his share of LSD, and heralded the birth of Bay Area tech culture and also open source software, among other achievements.  Sometimes reads Marginal Revolution.  I enjoyed this book, but of course would defer to Stewart’s own judgment.

2. Bobby Duffy, The Generation Myth: Why When You’re Born Matters Less Than You Think.  Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z, and so on.  The generations just don’t differ that much from each other, at least not in ways that show up as strong effects in the data, adjusting for other demographic features.  This book is a useful corrective to numerous media discussions of these topics.  And yet…I am not entirely convinced.  That I grew up without an internet, for instance, really does seem to shape a lot of my perspectives, in a way that probably will not hold equivalently true for Generation Z.

3. Scottie Pippen, Unguarded, with Michael Arkush. “Michael Jordan was 1-9 in the playoffs before I joined the team.  In the postseason he missed, the Bulls went 6-4.  The Last Dance was Michael’s chance to tell his story.  This is mine.”  Get the picture?

4. Michael Cholbi, Grief: A Philosophical Guide.  I like the book when it veers in this direction: “Antipathy toward grief is a common theme among ancient Mediterranean philosophers.  Greek and Roman philosophers were far more hostile toward grief than we moderns, tending to view grief as, at best, a state to be tolerated or minimized.  For these philosophers, grieving others’ deaths is an unruly condition, a sign that one had become overly dependent on others and lacked the rational self-control characteristic of virtuous individuals.”  I like it less when it veers toward: “Regardless of whether there is duty to oneself to grieve, we have strong reasons of a self-regarding moral nature to grieve.  For grief presents us with a rare opportunity to relate to ourselves more fully, rationally, and lovingly.”

Michael S. Weisbach, The Economist’s Craft: An Introduction to Research, Publishing, and Professional Development.  A straight-up rather than cynical take.

Tao Jiang, Origins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China: Contestation of Humaneness, Justice, and Personal Freedom.  Too detailed for me to have time to read right now, but very likely an excellent book (I have browsed it), full of careful study and insight.

Useful is Paul Lockhart, Firepower: How Weapons Shaped Warfare.

Bruce J. Dickson, The Party and the People: Chinese Politics in the 21st Century is a good treatment of exactly what the title promises.


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