Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, September 2016
Attention conservation notice: I have no taste.
- Laura Lippman, Wilde Lake
- This is both a mystery novel and a rather literary novel about family,
secrets and guilt. It makes compelling reading at both levels.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze, Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet
- Comic book mind candy, but also Coates playing with superheroes as fantasies of political agency.
Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of
- Milanovic has been responsible for carefully assembling some of the best
data sets about economic inequality within and between countries that we have.
He is also, as one can see from
his weblog, an interesting and
wide-ranging economic thinker. That said, this book is essentially a wordy
glossy on some famous data he's assembled, dividing income inequality into
different components, plus some ruminations about how it might, conceivably,
the components of inequality might change in the future. The former are
briefly summarized: since about 1980, incomes have gone up dramatically for the
very richest people in the world (who are mostly but not exclusively the rich
of the rich countries), and almost equally dramatically for people around the
middle of the global income distribution, the beginnings of a middle class in
Asia, especially India and most especially China. They have stagnated for
those around, say, the 80th percentile of global income, the middle and lower
classes of the rich countries (and of course the very poorest). In the total
spread of income inequality, therefore, differences between countries have
become somewhat less important, and those within countries somewhat more.
- As for the ruminations, Robert Solow's famous put-down
in a blaze of amateur sociology" comes to mind. Milanovic is more
qualified than most economists to sociologize (for starters, he actually reads
sociology), but there is nothing here which goes beyond the level of a good
magazine article or blog post in depth, insight, rigor, or even detail.
- In a word, there is no new approach to global inequality on offer here, or
even a sketch of one. I will continue to follow Milanovic's writing with
interest, but the point to this book eludes me (except as a way to
donate to the Home for Care and Feeding of Aged Economists, which is a worthy
- Max Gladstone, Full Fathom Five
- Mind candy: more adventures
among magicians working like lawyers, and those drawn into their schemes. Here
the setting is an island which is not Hawaii, acting a bit like an off-shore
financial haven in our world, which in that of the Craft means manufacturing
synthetic gods, rather than synthetic collateralized debt obligations. Also, a
lot of stuff gets blown up.
- Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Robot Scientist's Daughter and Field Guide to the End of the World
- Catching up with a favored poet. I think the Field Guide is a somewhat stronger collection, but they're both excellent. Here is a poem from Field Guide, and here one from Daughter.
- Marie Brennan, Cold-Forged Flame
- Fantasy mind candy, in which the implacable, past-less warrior compelled to
a quest is female. Good if you enjoy fantasy stories about implacable,
- Gerhard Tutz, Regression for Categorical Data
- This is a textbook on regression where the variable being predicted takes
discrete, categorical values, rather than being a real number or vector. It
presumes some prior knowledge of ordinary regression, and of the general
statistical theory of estimation and testing, but nothing beyond what a
fourth-year undergraduate should know. It's clear, extremely thorough,
emphasizes common principles over minor details, and up to date. It also,
welcomely, includes treatments of some common but not-so-standard situations,
like hierarchical-organized categories and discrete-choice models from
economics (both in chapter 8), ordinal responses (chapter 9), discrete
multivariate responses and generalized estimating equations (chapter 13) and
models with individual-level variation in coefficients (chapter 14). The
emphasis is mostly on parametric generalized linear models, but there are good
treatments of nonparametrics in chapters 10 (emphasizing additive models and
functional data), 11 (on trees) and 15 (nearest neighbors and neural networks).
My own preference would be to give less space to GLMs, but it would be easy for
a teacher (or student) with those interests to make their own selections.
- I would be very happy to use this as a textbook, though it somewhat
competes with my own work-in-progress.
- David Wong, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits
- Mind candy science fiction: everything its title promises.
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur;
Scientifiction and Fantastica;
Enigmas of Chance;
Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime;
The Commonwealth of Letters;
The Dismal Science
Posted at September 30, 2016 23:59 | permanent link