This was a fun read, and I appreciated the insight into the politics, history, and culture behind different nations' soccer clubs. I didn't find the "This was a fun read, and I appreciated the insight into the politics, history, and culture behind different nations' soccer clubs. I didn't find the "theory of globalization" aspect of the book very well annunciated or explicit, but thinking about it a little more, I think I appreciate that he doesn't streamline his subject matter to make pat points or ideological generalizations. I just liked learning more about my favorite sport. I found the chapter on the "American culture wars" especially enlightening; to be honest, I had no idea that soccer was so reviled by a certain segment of American society. My theory has been that Americans don't like soccer simply because there's no room for commercial breaks! Fun read, well-written, highly recommended for soccer fans....more
Hernando de Soto's book is refreshing in its succinct and strong language. He touches on complex issues in a direct manner, imbuing the ideas of capitHernando de Soto's book is refreshing in its succinct and strong language. He touches on complex issues in a direct manner, imbuing the ideas of capital with a force that even a completely non-economically minded person such as myself can appreciate. He has derived some criticism due to the one-sidedness and over-simplicity of his diagnosis of the problem of capitalism not taking off in developing nations, but I think that his critics often miss that De Soto never claims to solve all problems with the simple induction of squatters into a formal property system. He is outlining property systems as a hitherto unconsidered but fundamental aspect of the formation of capital. Without the incorporation of the activity and assets of the extralegal sectors into the wider economy, there is no chance for developing nations to get capitalism to work for everyone.
I liked his explanations of capital, and I appreciated his vision of incorporating the poor into the economy by embracing their collaboratively formed social contracts and using those as a basis for the formal legal system. I think that this vision can be tied more deeply into Muhammad Yunus' vision of microcredit to provide direct capital to the poor, even when the only asset they have is themselves.
De Sotos' work is invaluable in understanding how to best combat poverty. I would recommend reading this book in tandem with Jeffrey Sachs' The End of Poverty to gain a fuller global perspective on methods of effective approaches to elimination of poverty....more
I only read a few chapters of this book, but I finally had to give up, when I realized that I was reading whole sections without soaking anything subsI only read a few chapters of this book, but I finally had to give up, when I realized that I was reading whole sections without soaking anything substantial up from it.
I think there's a lot worth delving into in this book, and I commend its creators for really putting in the effort to bind it all together. But this is the kind of text that needs to be studied, not just read, as it intentionally frames its matter in the most dry and empirical manner possible. I just couldn't force myself to keep reading it anymore. I wish, sometimes, that I had the machine capability of the robot in Short Circuit, so that I could absorb the material without putting in the time and effort of drudging through it all.
I also had a major problem with this book's editing. The basic errors, such as in spelling, are so consistent that it is frankly unacceptable in a published book. It subverts its serious and grave intent completely. They misspelled, twice, the Grameen Bank as 'Gareem Bank' in one section, and they misspelled the country of Colombia as 'Columbia', just as a few glaring examples. I can overlook a few missteps in editing, but this book's errors were ridiculous.
I understand that they must have hurried its putting together, as this information is time critical. But the writing is just not clear, and is even child-like in its diction. These reasons were enough to prevent me from continuing to slug through it. I would like to study it further someday, perhaps in an academic setting....more
I felt like much of this book was devoted to the tooting of Jeffrey Sachs' own horn, as he describes his heroic economic interventions in other countrI felt like much of this book was devoted to the tooting of Jeffrey Sachs' own horn, as he describes his heroic economic interventions in other countries. However, I did enjoy reading those stories even if they did come off as slightly egotistical. In any case, this book is invaluable for providing a coherent macroeconomic perspective on poverty. Sachs makes a convincing and thorough case for official development assistance in achieving the Millenium Development Goals. He takes on each argument that has been forwarded against development assistance, and provides the data, as well as perspectives, needed to spur the world, and especially the United States and its super-rich, towards putting their 0.7% of GDP where their mouth is.
Anyone involved in the fight against poverty, whether philosophically or otherwise, needs to read this book to gain the global overview necessary to truly address the world's poorest through investing in their future....more
I had already read about Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank, such as The Price of a Dream. I highly recommend reading this book and getting it from tI had already read about Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank, such as The Price of a Dream. I highly recommend reading this book and getting it from the horse's mouth, in addition to reading other books about the Grameen Bank. Muhammad Yunus writes in a just as inspired and no-nonsense fashion as his actions demonstrate. The parts of this book that really got me jived up are the last few chapters, especially his chapter on the United States. It made me realize some of the fundamental obstacles we face in fighting poverty; Yunus writes about the subject of poverty in the most clear-sighted of ways, sweeping aside abstractions and distractions. I would most definitely state that Yunus is a must-read for anyone seeking to fight poverty and understand its fundamental issues. I respect him and his work immensely: he speaks as that rare person who works from within the trenches, rather than as some lofty academic. Read my blog post for more thoughts in regards to poverty and the obstacles we face in the US....more
I think the most important thing I gained from this book was the connection so visibly made between government budget cuts/public policy decisions andI think the most important thing I gained from this book was the connection so visibly made between government budget cuts/public policy decisions and the populations that they directly impact. A lot of times we don't make that critical connection when we read a story in the newspaper about the latest fiscal policy or tax cuts.
The book helped me remember to focus on the all-important necessity of combating poverty, and never settling or accepting its existence anywhere. To remember that part of our essential humanity is broken when we allow poverty to exist....more
Absolutely imperative read for those keeping abreast of environmental and social causes. Great both as a reference guide to amazing organizations, webAbsolutely imperative read for those keeping abreast of environmental and social causes. Great both as a reference guide to amazing organizations, websites, and books, or simply just to read and soak up its positive energy. Refreshingly optimistic and clearsighted perspectives throughout, and well-organized. It essentially just acts to compile and touch upon all aspects of sustainable and progressive activities, and it does a commendable job in being as inclusive as it could possibly be. For some people it may not touch in depth enough on some issues, but the book functions primarily as a launch pad and introductory guide. Great book for coffee table perusing and conversation starting. I definitely discovered a lot of wonderful networks through reading this book....more
I had been half-way through reading Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree, but I then had to return it to the library due to a move. I was thI had been half-way through reading Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree, but I then had to return it to the library due to a move. I was then given this book by my father before I left, and I can tell that Friedman has done some maturing since his earlier work on globalization. In the Lexus and the Olive Tree, he was a wide-eyed globalization enthusiast, practically gushing, and his name-dropping of interviewees often came off as braggadocious (I was having breakfast with the king of Thailand the other day. . .). However, what I did like about The Lexus and the Olive Tree is that Friedman took complicated subjects and delineated them very simply and powerfully. He takes this skill yet further on the subject of globalization in The World Is Flat, and his approach this time around is also much more sober, examining all aspects of our newly interconnected globe in a truly enlightening manner. I really enjoyed this book, and I feel that it is a must-read for anyone trying to get a grasp of what's going on in the world right now.
Some of his points really came through when I recently interviewed for a business that had its data scanned into a computer and sent to Beijing to be input into PDF forms during (our) night-time, as well as have receptionists located in their main office in Houston who transfer calls to their proper recipient in NY, Chicago, or Boston via an internet phone system. The world is indeed flattening, and we can see its effects not only in the realm of business, but also art, music, and culture. Those people and businesses and governments that are taking innovative advantage of this "flat world" are the ones who are forging ahead.
For those of you worried that this book is simply about trumpeting the glories of globalization and finance, rest at east. Friedman talks about open-source software collaborations, terrorism, and the failures of the American public school system, in addition to a myriad of other impacts and aspects of globalization. This book is well-researched, well-articulated, and gives a lot of food for thought, but most importantly, it gives you a wider lens for looking at your world....more
This book takes a hard question and looks it straight in the eye, and patiently and dispassionately exorcises it of demons. The question Mr. Diamond aThis book takes a hard question and looks it straight in the eye, and patiently and dispassionately exorcises it of demons. The question Mr. Diamond addresses is: why is it that some cultures, races, and nations conquered others? This is the type of question that most people avoid even contemplating, due to its seemingly underlying racist assumptions. But the answers that are brought forth completely eliminate any possible basis for racism, and instead establish the factors of simple chance based on evolution due to geography and environment. A lot of the other reviewers on this site seemed to be off-put or mortified by Mr. Diamond's research, and I don't really understand them. This book is powerful in it's insistence on historical truth and scientific understanding, and its multidisciplinary integration is truly groundbreaking. I think this is a great companion book to philosophical treatises like The Life Divine or Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, in that it takes evolutionary findings and puts them together into a cohesive vision of mankind's fumbling progression into the future. The book admittedly gets dry and the author browbeats his points, just to make sure he's being completely clear. But I also think that this is a necessary diligence on his part, in that he recognizes that his subject will draw controversy. I would call this book a must-read to anyone wanting to gain a clearer understanding of the underlying forces of history....more
It was somewhat hard to push myself through this compilation of articles, simply because of the inevitable redundancy. I wish that the editors or PaulIt was somewhat hard to push myself through this compilation of articles, simply because of the inevitable redundancy. I wish that the editors or Paul Krugman had taken the time to make a more contiguous experience out of the articles by editing them into one whole, rather than simply compiling them by topic. That said, however, I still enjoyed reading Krugman's clear-eyed refutation of every crooked action made by the Bush Administration. He gets down to the bottom of their thievery, revealing its terrible reality without resorting to rhetoric or ideology. He also exhibits remarkable restraint, and gracefully details the economic and political failures of the Bush Administration with strong backing information and critical analysis. So I recommend this book for reading to those of us who have not been keeping up with the New York Times---Krugman is an intellect worth hearing out....more
Fun book to give you the ground level view of the application of economics. I felt like it lost some of it's "wow" factor when it got mired in the natFun book to give you the ground level view of the application of economics. I felt like it lost some of it's "wow" factor when it got mired in the nature v. nurture statistics, as well as racial educational statistics. None of that stuff was very thought-provoking (to me), but I did enjoy the sumo wrestler and cheating teacher revelations. ...more
I stopped trying to read this book about a 1/3 of the way into it, when I realized that I no longer had any interest in it at all. The writer is fairlI stopped trying to read this book about a 1/3 of the way into it, when I realized that I no longer had any interest in it at all. The writer is fairly clever, and may perhaps have some degree of authentic spiritual insight; however, his endeavor to explicate St. Francis' deeply personal psychic transformations in tandem with Tantric philosophy, based solely on fragmented and biased third person accounts is a fundamentally flawed effort. The whole thing is a literary farce that smacks of New Age spiritual masturbation. Clever, but not clever enough, in my opinion. I just wanted to learn about St. Francis, not about tantrikas and the author's own spiritual and psychological speculations. It kind of felt like this was the author's thesis in grad school or something--a magnanimous effort of bullshit....more
What is interesting about this book, as in most atheist thought, is that in lambasting fundamentalist institutional religious dogma, the author ends uWhat is interesting about this book, as in most atheist thought, is that in lambasting fundamentalist institutional religious dogma, the author ends up doing exactly what he accuses his opponents of: polarizing, claiming to know what truth and reality are better than anyone else, and pushing moderates into extremism. He claims, as all atheists do, to be speaking solidly from the standpoint of reason. As a reasonable man, then, he should have recognized that fighting antagonism with greater antagonism will not convert any Christians to his cause. I agree completely with his points, especially when he tears down the idiocy of opposing stem-cell research, and questions the morality of those who call themselves Christians who would uphold the life of an embryo over that of a living adult, or prevent the distribution of condoms in HIV rampant countries. Yes, these are indeed problems that need to be addressed. But my issue here is with his approach: it does absolutely no good to simply directly label all Christians and Muslims (he side-steps addressing the Jewish religion) as complete morons. There are some very intelligent people who adhere to a religion (and/or a religious culture), and while they can understand his criticisms completely, it doesn't aid the cause of reason to bitterly strike out against all religions of the world and label a majority of the populace as idiots. I felt like his final pages were the most cohesive, level-headed writing of the book, and I would rather see that kind of analytical approach to these issues more than the kind of "I'm superior because I am a rational atheist" line of argument that does nothing constructive except for those who already agree with him....more
This is the book that shifted my political views from anarchy into the recognition that centralized forms of governance are essential for such serviceThis is the book that shifted my political views from anarchy into the recognition that centralized forms of governance are essential for such services as public health. This book is somewhat of a frightening read in that it suddenly makes you realize that mankind is not only being threatened environmentally and by terrorism and warfare, but much more imminently through disease and the surge of new anti-biotic resistant microbes. An eye-opener, for sure, and definitely worth working through this giant tome....more
While the book is well-written and easy to read, and Watters' concept of "urban tribes" is a good start to beginning to examine the social lives of thWhile the book is well-written and easy to read, and Watters' concept of "urban tribes" is a good start to beginning to examine the social lives of the "Generation Xers", I felt that ultimately there isn't really much of depth here. Watters simply doesn't go far enough in his analysis to dredge up anything truly interesting. It's more just a mirror to him and his "urban tribe" ilk for them to groom and preen about how successful and individualistic they are (this is a severe reductionist reading, but this is what I felt like at the end.) I agree that my generation is doing good things for itself and the larger community, but simply pointing out that we have a solid network of friends, in addition to or in lieu of family, does little to elucidate what it is exactly that we are doing in forging these extended networks. It's a good start, but deliberately stops short through its strange obsession on marriage as the omega point of all relationships....more
A well-written look into the creation and daily operations of the pioneering microcredit Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which has not only served to direA well-written look into the creation and daily operations of the pioneering microcredit Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which has not only served to directly assist thousands of poor villagers, but also to demonstrate that assisting the poor can be a sustainable capitalist enterprise. Lots of good ideas from Muhammad Yunus, the founder, here, as well as direct insight into the villager's lives and the impact the Grameen Bank has had on them....more
It took me a while to get past the language of this book, as Freire writes with revolutionary lingo, but by the end, I was fully enraptured enough thaIt took me a while to get past the language of this book, as Freire writes with revolutionary lingo, but by the end, I was fully enraptured enough that I re-read the book again, gleaning new insights once I had stepped beyond the language. Don't be fooled into thinking this is mere abstract academic discourse--Freire frames truly insightful perspectives on pedagogical standpoints that ring deep and true to practicing educators today. His emphasis on dialogue and the teacher-as-learner struck a chord, especially when he delineated the tenets of dialogue as a pedagogical strategy requiring love, faith in humanity, and humility in the practitioner. Yer darn tootin', revolutionary teachers!...more