It's an odd book with a lot of character and quirk and it is very readable. It's at once a detective story, a road-trip homage and a modern day mytholIt's an odd book with a lot of character and quirk and it is very readable. It's at once a detective story, a road-trip homage and a modern day mythology. On reflection, it's kind of hard to understand how it all fits together, but Gaiman seems to do it in a way where I don't throw the book across the room in disbelief at any point in time, despite the fantastical nature of the story. This is the first time I've read a book by Neil Gaiman and it's good enough that I think I'll read another....more
This is an exceptional book. I got about six chapters deep into it several months ago when I decided that I was trying to read it way too fast. At undThis is an exceptional book. I got about six chapters deep into it several months ago when I decided that I was trying to read it way too fast. At under 200 pages (excluding notes and references) this is an extremely dense and comprehensive treatment of so many aspects of human reasoning. This book is intense and will make you question so many things about the way you see the world. Once you start to read it, you'll start to see the application of its lessons everywhere and you cannot unsee them. I highly recommend this book.
When I look at the 1 and 2 star reviews for this book they all either have no text or else they complain that the book is, "dry" or "boring. I'm not sure what they were expecting. The examples given are all interesting and probably you've seen them before in other books, but this book is the granddaddy of them all. It is a bit dry, but if you take the time to read it the journey is incredibly rewarding. ...more
I had a hard time choosing between 3 and 4 stars for this book simply because I feel like there are other, more comprehensive books on the topic of coI had a hard time choosing between 3 and 4 stars for this book simply because I feel like there are other, more comprehensive books on the topic of cognitive bias and decision making (Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life), but ultimately I chose the 4 because this book will easily make the list of top ten most influential books of the last decade. Professor Thaler lays out a compelling case for the notion of libertarian paternalism and provides several practical and thoughtful analyses and suggestions for policy. I am not surprised to find that my peers in public health, policy making, financial services and beyond find this book instructive.
Why would this book be useful to you? Assuming you're not someone who is making daily decisions about how to induce others to make decisions, this book is helpful for everyone who is making daily decisions about how to induce themselves to make decisions. On a solipsistic level, your challenges dieting, getting fit, getting your financial house in order are all within the domain of what is talked about in this book. On an anti-solipsistic level, these methods of social control are already being used on you and society at large.
On some level I do find the notion of libertarian paternalism to be a bit unnerving, but the truth is that economists and policy makers have long been concerned with matters of social control; however, these days people don't like to call it that (I have an old copy of Armen Alchian's classic textbook Exchange and Production (first published in 1983) where he discusses in an entire section on social control, among other things, government monopoly of violence via police and military). Professor Thaler rightfully points out no choice is also a choice; however, I think my thoughts would be assuaged if there was some kind of disclaimer that such techniques are being used in a choice environment and why. I've more than once found myself making a decision only to get the creepy sensation that my decision was actually guided by something in my environment. It's just a bit creepy is all, to realize that you're not necessarily the only one guiding your own decisions....more
Cubed is a good, somewhat sprawling, social science book about offices, roughly in the same vein as Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do. It approachesCubed is a good, somewhat sprawling, social science book about offices, roughly in the same vein as Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do. It approaches the subject from a lot of different angles: Architecture, business thought, social and cultural movements in and around the office, office furniture and the men and women who occupied the spaces. It spends considerable time on the influence of women on the office and on the workforce and also on labor movements, which was refreshing for me as I'm not well-versed in that topic.
I enjoyed this book. I found myself skimming certain parts of it, but all-in-all it's an excellent holistic social science treatment of the people, societies, places and things that comprise and shape the office. A personal wish would have been for a greater treatment of the artifacts of the office in addition to the furniture and the attitudes found there....more
"Breathtaking" is the best word I have that does justice to the scale and scope of what author Liaquat Ahamed has done with this book. I've not read a"Breathtaking" is the best word I have that does justice to the scale and scope of what author Liaquat Ahamed has done with this book. I've not read a more thorough treatment of the topic or the times; however, I believe this book stacks up well against any non-fiction, history or economics book written. I would strongly recommend to anyone with an interest in economics and history.
p139 In March 1922, he wrote to Strong in that elliptical way of his, “Only lately have the countries of the world started to clear up after the war, two years having been wasted in building castles in the air and pulling them down again. Such is the way of democracies it seems, though a ‘few aristocrats’ in all countries realized from the start what must be the inevitable result of hastily conceived remedies for such serious ills.” He obviously thought that the “few aristocrats” were bankers like himself.
p146 Britain was therefore the only major country that truly faced the choice between devaluation and deflation. To a modern observer, less wedded to the principle that currency rates are sacrosanct, some measure of devaluation would have made sense. After all, Britain was finding it harder to compete in the postwar world economy and, having liquidated vast amounts of its holdings abroad, could only draw upon a much reduced foreign income to cushion the blow. Its exchange rate should have been allowed to fall as a means of making its goods cheaper on world markets. However, Norman and his generation lived in a different mental world. They saw devaluation not as an adjustment to a new reality but as something more, a symptom of financial indiscipline that might precipitate a collective loss of confidence in all currencies. When people talked of the City of London as banker to the world, this was no mere figure of speech—the City operated literally like a gigantic bank, taking deposits from one part of the world and lending to another. While gold was the international currency par excellence, the pound sterling was viewed as its closest substitute, and most trading nations—the United States, Russia, Japan, India, Argentina—even kept part of their cash reserves in sterling deposits in London. The pound had a special status in the gold standard constellation and its devaluation would have rocked the financial world.
pp150-151 And he began making his fortune as a currency speculator. In 1919, it was a novel way of making money. Before 1914, currencies had been fixed, and opportunities to profit from the instability of exchange rates had been almost nonexistent. In the aftermath of the war, as exchange rates of the major currencies lurched up and down, it became possible to make large returns—and also lose equally large amounts—by betting on the direction of such moves. In the latter half of 1919, convinced that the inflationary consequences of the war would undermine the currencies of the main belligerents, Keynes went short on the French franc, the German Reichsmark, and the Italian lira, buying the currencies of countries that had sat out most of the war: the Norwegian and the Danish kroner, the U.S. dollar, and interestingly enough, the Indian rupee. He made $30,000 in the first few months. In early 1920, he set up a syndicate, with his brother, some of the Bloomsbury circle, and a financier friend from the City of London. By the end of April 1920, they had made a further $80,000. Then suddenly, in the space of four weeks, a spasm of optimism about Germany briefly drove the declining European currencies back up, wiping out their entire capital. Keynes found himself on the verge of bankruptcy and had to be bailed out by his tolerant father. Nevertheless, propped up by his indulgent family and by a loan from the coolly acute financier Sir Ernest Cassel, he persevered in his speculations—built for the most part around the view that the German and Central European currencies
p171 And so, when the new currency was introduced on November 15, 1923, Germany found itself in the curious position of having two official currencies—the old Reichsmark and the new Rentenmark—circulating side by side, issued by two uniquely parallel central banks.
p192 When the war ended, Morgans became the natural conduit of American money into Europe. Its status as one of the great powers to be reckoned with was confirmed in July 1920, when a group of anarchists, instead of targeting a head of state or government as it might have done before the war, chose to place a bomb outside the offices of J. P. Morgan & Co. at 23 Wall Street.25 The partners were unscathed, but thirty-eight bystanders were killed and another four hundred injured
p389 On March 12, 1932, the world learned that Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish match king, who had bailed out so many penniless European countries, had shot himself in his apartment on the Avenue Victor Emmanuel III in Paris. At first it was assumed that he was just another victim of the times—he had recently suffered a nervous breakdown and his physician had warned him about the constant strain of his lifestyle on his heart. Within three weeks it became apparent that his whole enterprise had been a sham. His accounts were riddled with inflated valuations and bogus assets, including $142 million of forged Italian government bonds. When the losses to investors were eventually tallied, they amounted to $400 million....more
This was a pleasantly surprisingly good read. Will Durant does a very good job of putting together quotes and excerpts of various big names so that thThis was a pleasantly surprisingly good read. Will Durant does a very good job of putting together quotes and excerpts of various big names so that the lay-reader can appreciate what it was that these philosophers were trying to say, without using an overabundance of technical language. It has inspired me to read more widely in philosophy, so as a gateway book, I'd say it does a great job....more
In short, it's a timely and important book that I think you should read, no matter who you are and no matter what your beliefs. It makes great fodderIn short, it's a timely and important book that I think you should read, no matter who you are and no matter what your beliefs. It makes great fodder for wider conversations about gender, society and business. It's also an easy and quick read.
At length, the core of this book is less than 200 pages, so it's really more of a manifesto (although the author Sheryl Sandberg tries to deny it explicitly in her introduction) than anything else, but it is a consequential book in spite of (because of?) its brevity.
The intersections of business and gender matter, whether you think about it or not, and as we are all in the business of something in our lives, it's worth spending a few hours reading what an accomplished person thinks about these topics and then consider what one's own opinions are. This book will give you that.
The book is, frankly, entirely uncontroversial, but I suppose Sandberg isn't reaching to me or people like me, but to the more conservative elements of society who don't yet feel that these topics are normal to discuss. That's a bit sad, but also pragmatic; precisely the sort of Feminism she advocates, so in that sense I suppose she accomplishes what she sets out to do.
I doubt the book will change anybody's minds, but it's a worthy conversation starter....more
I chose to read Moby Dick at the strong recommendation of two pals I trust in choosing good books, but in the end I feel like this is a book for a booI chose to read Moby Dick at the strong recommendation of two pals I trust in choosing good books, but in the end I feel like this is a book for a book club or a class rather than something to be read on one's own. Without some kind of guide to help me through the book, I just felt adrift in a sea of turgid prose (maybe a bit unfair, given the number of years between the book's writing and my reading); although, there were a fair share of excellent passages spread throughout, particularly at the beginning and near the end.
The story and themes of Moby Dick were already very well known to me through the countless references the work receives, oh, I don't know, everywhere in the world of art, literature, film and television, so the characters and the motifs felt oddly familiar. Perhaps this spoiled it a bit. There's an awful lot of hype going into this book, and maybe the disappointment I feel is more to do with that than anything else.
One last thought I have is that you should probably skip any section pertaining to the scientific discussion of whales (it's all wrong, anyway). Some of the sections on whaling as an enterprise were interesting, but ultimately unrewarding to read. You may wish to skip these as well.
Quotes (numbers are the Amazon location):
Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air. Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me. And therefore three cheers for Nantucket; and come a stove boat and stove body when they will, for stave my soul, Jove himself cannot. 532
In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers. 627
"Look ye; when Captain Ahab is all right, then this left arm of mine will be all right; not before." 1336
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored harborless immensities. 1856
Nevertheless, though of real knowledge there be little, yet of books there are a plenty; and so in some small degree, with cetology, or the science of whales. 1866
For be a man's intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available supremacy over other men, without the aid of some sort of external arts and entrenchments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry and base. This it is, that for ever keeps God's true princes of the Empire from the world's hustings; and leaves the highest honors that this air can give, to those men who become famous more through their infinite inferiority to the choice hidden handful of the Divine Inert, than through their undoubted superiority over the dead level of the mass. Such large virtue lurks in these small things when extreme political superstitions invest them, that in some royal instances even to idiot imbecility they have imparted potency. But when, as in the case of Nicholas the Czar, the ringed crown of geographical empire encircles an imperial brain; then, the plebeian herds crouch abased before the tremendous centralization. Nor, will the tragic dramatist who would depict mortal indomitableness in its fullest sweep and direct swing, ever forget a hint, incidentally so important in his art, as the one now alluded to. 2088
Oh, Ahab! what shall be grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air! 2097
Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' beds, unerringly I rush! Naught's an obstacle, naught's an angle to the iron way! 2412
it. Yet is there hope. Time and tide flow wide. The 2418 Note: They had goldfish back then? Edit All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it. 2607
For one, I gave myself up to the abandonment of the time and the place; but while yet all a-rush to encounter the whale, could see naught in that brute but the deadliest ill. 2657
Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows—a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? 2791
For God's sake, be economical with your lamps and candles! not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of man's blood was spilled for it. 2945
Not the raw recruit, marching from the bosom of his wife into the fever heat of his first battle; not the dead man's ghost encountering the first unknown phantom in the other world;— neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted sperm whale. 3217
Now, with the subordinate phantoms, what wonder remained soon waned away; for in a whaler wonders soon wane. 3309
Nor with the immemorial superstition of their race, and in accordance with the preternaturalness, as it seemed, which in many things invested the Pequod, were there wanting some of the seamen who swore that whenever and wherever descried; at however remote times, or in however far apart latitudes and longitudes, that unnearable spout was cast by one selfsame whale; and that whale, Moby Dick. For a time, there reigned, too, a sense of peculiar dread at this flitting apparition, as if it were treacherously beckoning us on and on, in order that the monster might turn round upon us, and rend us at last in the remotest and most savage seas. 3348
But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed. 3408
Because, in the case of pirates, say, I should like to know whether that profession of theirs has any peculiar glory about it. It sometimes ends in uncommon elevation, indeed; but only at the gallows. 3449
Upon this, the seamen rushed to the yard-arms, as in swarming-time the bees rush to the boughs. 3994
Hemp is a dusky, dark fellow, a sort of Indian; but Manilla is as a golden-haired Circassian to behold. 4029
Again: as the profound calm which only apparently precedes and prophesies of the storm, is perhaps more awful than the storm itself; for, indeed, the calm is but the wrapper and envelope of the storm; and contains it in itself, as the seemingly harmless rifle holds the fatal powder, and the ball, and the explosion; so the graceful repose of the line, as it silently serpentines about the oarsmen before being brought into actual play— this is a thing which carries more of true terror than any other aspect of this dangerous affair. But why say more? All men live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle, everpresent perils of life. And if you be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side. 4070
poker, and not a harpoon, by your side. CHAPTER 61 Stubb 4077 Note: Most exciting chapter yet. Edit So, when on one side you hoist in Locke's head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant's and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep trimming boat. Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and right. 4722
Oh! many are the Fin-Backs, and many are the Dericks, my friend. 5202
Levelling his glass at this sight, Ahab quickly revolved in his pivot-hole, crying, "Aloft there, and rig whips and buckets to wet the sails;—Malays, sir, and after us!" 5514
Before this equatorial coin, Ahab, not unobserved by others, was now pausing. "There's something ever egotistical in mountain-tops and towers, and all other grand and lofty things; look here,— three peaks as proud as Lucifer. The firm tower, that is Ahab; the volcano, that is Ahab; the courageous, the undaunted, and victorious fowl, that, too, is Ahab; all are Ahab; and this round gold is but the image of the rounder globe, which, like a magician's glass, to each and every man in turn but mirrors back his own mysterious self. Great pains, small gains for those who ask the world to solve them; it cannot solve itself. Methinks now this coined sun wears a ruddy face; but see! aye, he enters the sign of storms, the equinox! and but six months before he wheeled out of a former equinox at Aries! From storm to storm! So be it, then. Born in throes, 't is fit that man should live in pains and die in pangs! So be it, then! Here's stout stuff for woe to work on. So be it, then." 6203
"I see nothing here, but a round thing made of gold, and whoever raises a certain whale, this round thing belongs to him. So, what's all this staring been about? It is worth sixteen dollars, that's true; and at two cents the cigar, that's nine hundred and sixty cigars. I won't smoke dirty pipes like Stubb, but I like cigars, and here's nine hundred and sixty of them; so here goes Flask aloft to spy 'em out." 6241
"Did'st thou cross his wake again?" "Twice." "But could not fasten?" "Didn't want to try to; ain't one limb enough? What should I do without this other arm? And I'm thinking Moby Dick doesn't bite so much as he swallows." 6352
Seat thyself sultanically among the moons of Saturn, and take high abstracted man alone; and he seems a wonder, a grandeur, and a woe. But from the same point, take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates, both contemporary and hereditary. 6698
Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of most South-Sea-men's cabin furniture), and pointing it towards Starbuck, exclaimed: "There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod.—On deck!" For an instant in the flashing eyes of the mate, and his fiery cheeks, you would have almost thought that he had really received the blaze of the levelled tube. But, mastering his emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused for an instant and said: "Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, Sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man." "He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful bravery that!" murmured Ahab, as Starbuck disappeared. 6826
Is heaven a murderer when its lightning strikes a would-be murderer in his bed, tindering sheets and skin together?— And would I be a murderer, then, if"—and slowly, stealthily, and half sideways looking, he placed the loaded musket's end against the door. 7334
But by her still halting course and winding, woeful way, you plainly saw that this ship that so wept with spray, still remained without comfort. She was Rachel, weeping for her children, because they were not. 7569
Lad, lad, I tell thee thou must not follow Ahab now. The hour is coming when Ahab would not scare thee from him, yet would not have thee by him. There is that in thee, poor lad, which I feel too curing to my malady. Like cures like; and for this hunt, my malady becomes my most desired health. 7572
Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey—more a demon than a man!—aye, aye! what a forty years' fool—fool—old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God!—crack my heart!—stave my brain!— mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearthstone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board!—lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!" 7705
for hardly had Ahab reached his perch; hardly was the rope belayed to its pin on deck, when he struck the key-note to an orchestra, that made the air vibrate as with the combined discharge of rifles. The triumphant halloo of thirty buckskin lungs was heard, as— much nearer to the ship than the place of the imaginary jet, less than a mile ahead—Moby Dick bodily burst into view! For not by any calm and indolent spoutings; not by the peaceable gush of that mystic fountain in his head, did the White Whale now reveal his vicinity; but by the far more wondrous phenomenon of breaching. Rising with his utmost velocity from the furthest depths, the Sperm Whale thus booms his entire bulk into the pure element of air, and piling up a mountain of dazzling foam, shows his place to the distance of seven miles and more. In those moments, the torn, enraged waves he shakes off, seem his mane; in some cases, this breaching is his act of defiance. 7917
Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago. 8176 ...more
I read Warm Bodies because it was the book my company's book club elected to read. When I heard it was a book about zombies I was immediately turned oI read Warm Bodies because it was the book my company's book club elected to read. When I heard it was a book about zombies I was immediately turned off, but I didn't want to be a spoil sport, so I read on. It pulls you into the mind of its zombie protagonist pretty quickly, so you really won't be bored for very long. After a bit of violence in the beginning of the book, there's really not a ton of gore and Isaac Marion does a good job painting a picture of the post-apocalyptic landscape and delving into the psychology of the people living there.
In addition to the usual "end-of-the-world" themes that are some common in books after the financial crisis (the protagonist would likely have fit nicely into the "one-percent" in his former life), there are also many Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers themes throughout, which keep things interesting (R, the "Romeo" protagonist zombie who loves too much, Julie "Juliet", the love interest, M "Mercutio" and R's best pal, Julie's soliloquy at a balcony while R acts like a creeper, etc."
It's much better than I initially gave it credit, but my expectations were so low, I'm not sure that's a sterling recommendation. Worth a shot if you love zombies. ...more