What I’ve been reading

1. Andrea G. McDowell, We the Miners: Self-Government in the California Gold Rush.  An important law and economics study of an “anarchistic” episode, going much deeper than some earlier accounts on matters involving Native Americans, fairness of trials, dispute resolution, miner-mining company interactions, and more.

2. Chris Blackwell, with Paul Morley, The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond.  Obviously an interesting story in its own right, and well-written as well.  I also found this a good take on talent search.  First, if you come across a very talented cluster (in this case Jamaican reggae), never stop supporting it and working with it!  Sounds trivial, but it runs against the spirit of our age.  Second, if you ever have a chance to work with a very talented person (people), just do it.  Yes, try to get the arrangements right but in the final analysis just do it.  Chris understands and articulates that principle very well.  One of my favorite parts of the book was his account of his decision to simply advance 4k to Bob Marley and the Wailers with no agreement whatsoever.

3. Lane Kenworthy, Would Democratic Socialism be Better?  No.  “My conclusion is that capitalism, and particularly social democratic capitalism, is better than many democratic socialists seem to think.”  The notion of writing a book that argues clearly and directly for a correct conclusion remains vastly underrated!  That said, I worry a bit this book is ignoring what is upstream and what is downstream.  If a socialist claimed “Cuba is better than Haiti,” would it really work to shoot back “The Nordics are better than either!”  How about the Dominican Republic?  What exactly is on the menu here?

4. Edmund Burke and the Perennial Battle, 1789-1797, edited by Daniel B. Klein and Dominic Pino.  It is sometimes forgotten that the great Irish thinkers of the 18th century (Swift, Berkeley, Burke, Sterne, etc., and don’t forget Shaftesbury wrote there) are really not so far behind the Scots.  Yet when do you hear talk of an Irish Enlightenment?  This much-needed book assembles excellent quotations from the wisdom of Burke.

Jorge Almazán Studiolab, Emergent Tokyo: Designing The Spontaneous City, very good for those who care.  The book also provides excellent visuals on how the city actually is laid out.  Do note that much of the Tokyo of the 1980s and 90s is disappearing, due to high-rise towers.  Visit while you can!


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