A solid amalgamation of pop-psych, sociology, economics and game theory. The author lays down sound, rational arguments for new policies to improve ou...moreA solid amalgamation of pop-psych, sociology, economics and game theory. The author lays down sound, rational arguments for new policies to improve our traffic systems. The book will, without a doubt, change your way of thinking about traffic problems. He skillfully blends the social with the economic. However, the author has a tendency to drift so that some chapters feel painful to read.
Ok, so back in 2008 when I first read this book, all of the above applied which is why I gave it a 3 originally, and then I dropped it to a 2 because every person I'd recommended it to hated it, but darn it, this is an excellent book, chock full of microeconomics, psychology and it's an excellent book about something that fills so much of our lives. I don't think more than about 2 months has gone by in the past 4 years that this book has not popped up in my thinking or in my conversations with others. Given that it has so obviously shaped my thinking so severely, I feel obligated to bump the rating.(less)
A really good (pretty much the ONLY) comprehensive overview of the Business Groups of East Asia, with good coverage of the East Asian Financial Crisis...moreA really good (pretty much the ONLY) comprehensive overview of the Business Groups of East Asia, with good coverage of the East Asian Financial Crisis. Really good reading for these times.(less)
Stiglitz raises really good arguments and makes many salient points. Too bad you'd never be able to find them due to the obfuscated style this book of...moreStiglitz raises really good arguments and makes many salient points. Too bad you'd never be able to find them due to the obfuscated style this book offers. Choose a different text. That is, unless you like headaches.(less)
It isn't often that a book comes along that completely changes my worldview. Perhaps that's a little hyperbolic, but I can safely say that this book h...moreIt isn't often that a book comes along that completely changes my worldview. Perhaps that's a little hyperbolic, but I can safely say that this book has shifted my perspectives on food, cooking, and the restaurant industry.
I first knew of Mr. Bourdain from his Travel Channel show, "No Reservations". After reading this book I find myself wanting to become a "foodie", despite the relatively low regard he holds of them. I have never loved anything the way Anthony Bourdain loves food and the sub-culture of chefs. His passion and his life are (though I imagine he'd hate for me to say it) inspiring. It stirs in me a curiosity about food that I've never had before.
I feel a whole new respect for chefs and their craft, the world's restaurateurs, Bourdain and, most importantly, for food.(less)
Frankly, I did not find Charles MacKay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds to be all that interesting. It covers quite a lot o...moreFrankly, I did not find Charles MacKay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds to be all that interesting. It covers quite a lot of ground, but none of it very satisfactorily. On the one hand, it's a history of viral trends before that was a thing (well before, in fact, because this book is quite old). It has very detailed descriptions of various slang that spread throughout London at the time and on the history of various forms of fortune-telling. It even has a very long chapter on slow-poisoning which I didn't realize was a thing people did. In the end though, there's a lot of fluff and story-telling, but not a whole lot of lessons one should learn from watching one's neighbors fall prey to one of the books' popular delusions. It's more a catalog of man's follies and less a book on how to avoid them.(less)
In my very first economics course in secondary school my teacher, Mr. Thorn, made a point of recounting key anecdotes about five historical economists...moreIn my very first economics course in secondary school my teacher, Mr. Thorn, made a point of recounting key anecdotes about five historical economists. The list included: Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Keynes and Thorstein Veblen. Mr. Thorn specifically cited this book as an explanation for why Veblen deserved to be held in the same regard as the other four men on the list, so my reading this has been a dream come true.
The book starts with a strong thesis and I could feel my perspective on economics shift ever so slightly several times in the first few chapters, but in discussing the book with others and after getting a little more deeply into it, I found it less thrilling than I'd anticipated. Perhaps Veblen's lessons have already permeated society sufficiently that I'd absorbed many of his lessons through osmosis, but ultimately I found his arguments less than compelling.
First, I never got a clear understanding of why we humans persist in our view that conspicuous leisure or consumption is honorific and worthy of "pecuniary emulation". He motivates the idea with speculation on the pre-historic developments of human society, but I found myself less than convinced. He often invokes the language of evolution to explain how these habits persist, but in my thinking it shouldn't take much of a calamity for such behavior to die out. Then again, recent events may have proved his point that such ideas are hard to quash.
Second, I didn't come away with a clear sense of how to tackle the problem, if it is one, of our attitudes toward conspicuous consumption or leisure and there's little motivation of the economic costs, but rather a lot of discussion of the class structure of the arrangements and how it benefits the leisure class.
Third, Veblen develops his thesis fairly well in early chapters, but later chapters become some kind of hit-parade of specific instances of conspicuous behavior.
Finally, I wonder if Veblen understood the irony that his excessive use of five-dollar words is his own best example of conspicuous leisure. I've read other books from this period, but none quite so verbose or sesquipedalian.(less)