"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"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.(less)
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 th...moreThis 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.(less)
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 fodder...moreIn 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.(less)
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 o...moreI 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. (less)
I was a big fan of Robert Greene's other works, but I would recommend giving this book a pass. It lacks the same concise and pithy advice I'd come to...moreI was a big fan of Robert Greene's other works, but I would recommend giving this book a pass. It lacks the same concise and pithy advice I'd come to expect; the pages seem to drag on interminably. As in The 48 Laws of Power, you see a lot of stories repeated and rehashed to convey a different lesson and meaning, which is fine, but I felt like a lot of it was just filler and repetition of lessons learned in Greene's previous works.
Tim Ferriss is a zany dude and this is yet another entry in his series on living an interesting life. I appreciate his perspective on living experimen...moreTim Ferriss is a zany dude and this is yet another entry in his series on living an interesting life. I appreciate his perspective on living experimentally and this is solidly in the same turf as his other work.
Chances are you've already formed an opinion about this book and its author. You won't be disappointed either way.
All the way round, nothing that you necessarily haven't seen before, but lots of lessons consolidated for easy consumption.(less)
In some sense, though, the book tries to do too much in too small a space. Aside from the core content revolving around data viz, you'll also get lengthy tutorials on how to write scripts (i.e., program) and how to use Adobe Illustrator. It demonstrates nicely how the role of an infographic maker really straddles multiple departments and disciplines, but it also muddles the core of the book somewhat. I found myself constantly skimming through these parts. It would have been great if those parts had been left to the appendices or suggested readings pages.
I applaud Nathan Yau for this ambitious undertaking and would highly recommend the book to any of his blog's frequent readers, but would caution that those without any programming or graphic design background be patient and take it slow when reading the book. That's probably best for all of us, in any event.(less)
Ok, so I remember when I first started reading 538 back in 2008 and thinking all his graphs and stuff were pretty cool, but I didn't think I'd really...moreOk, so I remember when I first started reading 538 back in 2008 and thinking all his graphs and stuff were pretty cool, but I didn't think I'd really like his book all that much. I remember seeing him on Charlie Rose around the time of the 2012 elections and just finding him to be a total ass; I stopped counting how many times he cut Charlie Rose off while in mid-question and he steepled with his hands so much he reminded me a bit of Mr. Burns. The truth is, I really liked this book. It has a great call to action and lots of interesting and timely stories about the science and art of prediction.
I think that this book is a must read for anybody, but especially for a high school or college student that feels a bit confused about "what they want...moreI think that this book is a must read for anybody, but especially for a high school or college student that feels a bit confused about "what they want to do with their life". Actually, maybe anybody who feels a little lost when it comes to their vocation. I really wish I'd gotten this kind of perspective when I was setting off for college because I think it would have really calmed me down about the prospect of not having a major, it would have encouraged me to find the major I ultimately chose a lot sooner, and it would have encouraged me to work even harder than I did (and I think I worked pretty hard).
Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a tale about a young man, lost at sea with only a massive Bengal tiger for a companion/foil (though I think "frenemy" is a...moreYann Martel's Life of Pi is a tale about a young man, lost at sea with only a massive Bengal tiger for a companion/foil (though I think "frenemy" is an apt label) and it has a plot that's a bit of a mishmash of Hatchet and The Old Man and the Sea, with a lot of discussion of religion, zoology and graphic accounts of the grim deeds one must do to survive at sea thrown in.
Initially, I thought the book would be way over-hyped and, indeed, in the first few chapters I found the discussion of religion and the metaphors used to discuss certain aspects of faith and truth to be heavy-handed. However, as the plot progresses, the messages that were sounding like klaxons blaring become more subtle and subdued until, finally, by the end of the book I found myself struck by a few gentle waves of epiphanies about the human condition. I'm not sure I could ask for more from a work of fiction.
It's clear from the interviews of Yann Martel that I watched and listened to that he takes his craft very seriously and I think that Ang Lee's rendition of the book (which I haven't seen) will be very true to the spirit of the text. In retrospect, some of the comments that Lee made on Charlie Rose are particularly insightful and powerful.
I think you could pick this book up and get a lot out of it. I'd recommend taking the time to read the first few chapters slowly, though, with Wikipedia close at hand to understand all the references Martel makes to food, religion, India, zoos, etc. It'll pay dividends. Most of the folks in my book club gave up too quickly on this book to give it an honest try.(less)
Honestly, I didn't really care for Sherlock Holmes. What was probably really cool back when it was first written is pretty lame now, I think. There's...moreHonestly, I didn't really care for Sherlock Holmes. What was probably really cool back when it was first written is pretty lame now, I think. There's no actual mystery involved. You get some scanty details and then after Holmes solves everything, he'll explain that, due to some details that were never described and that the reader could never know, the conclusion of the mystery was baldly obvious. To me, it feels like so much, "and then I woke up!" rubbish. It was cool to get a feel for what all the hype was about, but I don't think I'll be reading any more Sherlock Holmes.(less)
This is a book that I suspect will sneak up on me at a variety of points in my life, when I'm not really thinking about it. At moments of stress or le...moreThis is a book that I suspect will sneak up on me at a variety of points in my life, when I'm not really thinking about it. At moments of stress or leisure, the various thoughts that stick out for me will probably pop up, like a beloved dog poking her nose from under the table. ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice is a moveable feast and represents a very different kind of thinking than I am used to. I look forward to seeing its lessons with my own eyes.
p61 Most people live in delusion, involved in their problem, trying to solve their problem. But just to live is actually to live in problems. And to solve the problem is to be a part of it, to be one with it.
p67 It is difficult to have good communication between parents and children because parents always have their own intentions. Their intentions are nearly always good, but the way they speak, or the way they express themselves, is often not so free; it is usually too one-sided and not realistic. We each have our own way of expressing ourselves, and it is difficult to change that way according to the circumstances. If parents can manage to express themselves in various ways according to each situation, there will be no danger in the education of their children.
p79 "In calmness there should be activity; in activity there should be calmness." Actually, they are the same thing; to say "calmness" or to say "activity" is just to expres two different interpretations of one fact.
p82 The true practice of zazen is to sit as if drinking water when you are thirsty. There you have naturalness. It is quite natural for you to take a nap when you are very sleepy. But to take a nap just because you are lazy, as if it were the privilege of a human being to take a nap, is not naturalness. You think, "My friends, all of them, are napping; why shouldn't I? When everyone else is not working, why should I work so hard? When they have a lot of money, why don't I?" This is not naturalness. Your mind is entangled with some other idea, someone else's idea, and you are not independent, not yourself, and not natural.
p92 Dogen-zenji said, "Even though it is midnight, dawn is here; even though dawn comes, it is nighttime." This kind of statement conveys the understanding transmitted from Buddha to the Patriarchs, and from the Patriarchs to Dogen, and to us. Nighttime and daytime are not different. The same thing is sometimes called nighttime, sometimes called daytime. They are one thing.
p95 There is a Japanese saying, "For the moon; there is the cloud. For the flower there is the wind." When we see a part of the moon covered by a cloud, or a tree, or a weed, we feel how round the moon is.
p96 Which is more important; to attain enlightenment, or to attain enlightenment before you attain enlightenment; to make a million dollars, or to enjoy your life in your effort, little by little, even though it is impossible to make that million; to be successful, or to find some meaning in your effort to be successful? If you do not know the answer, you will not even be able to practice zazen; if you do know, you will have found the true treasure of life.
p97 Those who are attached only to the result of their effort will not have any chance to appreciate it, because the result will never come. But if moment by moment your effort arises from its pure origin, all you do will be good, and you will be satisfied with whatever you do.
p101 Do not try to stop your mind, but leave everything as it is. Then things will not stay in your mind so long. Things will come as they come and go as they go. Then eventually your clean, empty mind will last fairly long.
p111 We must have a beginner's mind, free from possessing anything, a mind that knows everything is in flowing change. Nothing exists but momentarily in its present form and color. One thing flows into another and cannot be grasped. Before the rain stops we hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth.(less)
The Language Hacking Guide is a great little book with lots of pro tips for aspiring language learners. The material has little to do with specific le...moreThe Language Hacking Guide is a great little book with lots of pro tips for aspiring language learners. The material has little to do with specific learning strategies, opting instead to focus on mental attitude training and behavioral exercises designed to help you plan, stay motivated and stay committed to your language learning plan. You might find a lot of it to be pretty much commonsense, but it's very easy to overlook how much of learning anything, including languages, is about attitude and preparation. In that sense, everything in here is a welcome reminder and a talisman to protect you from a descent into despair and depression when you screw up the first time you have to conjugate a verb in a live setting. Definitely worth a read to anybody interested in language learning.(less)