July 31, 2018

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, July 2018

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste. I also have no qualifications to discuss the fertility industry, or business frauds.

Robyn Bennis, The Guns Above and By Fire Above
Mind candy military not-quite-fantasy.
Elizabeth L. Katkin, Conceivability: What I Learned Exploring the Frontiers of Fertility
Equal parts memoir of trying (and trying and trying...) to have kids, guide to fertility technologies, and exposition of why the American fertility industry is both so expensive and so hostile to patients. (The bits about how success-rates get measured were particularly interesting to me.)
Ruthanna Emrys, Deep Roots
Mind candy: sequel to Winter Tide, in which Our Heroes take on New York, and the internal politics of the Mi-Go. I found it more enjoyable than the previous novel, but was jarred in a few places by anachronistic phrases. (Unfortunately, I neglected to note them as I read, other than the use of the word "petrichor", which sounds Lovecraftian, but dates to 1964.)
Daniel Davies, Lying for Money: How Legendary Frauds Reveal the Workings of Our World
D^2, in characteristically excellent form, going through a taxonomy of different sorts of business fraud, starting with the comparatively simple "buy a lot of stuff on credit and then not pay", on up to very abstract, but very real, offenses against markets as a whole. This is illustrated with many entertaining anecdotes of notable frauds, the (correct) idea that "fraud is an equilibrium phenomenon" (i.e., past a certain point, additional checking and auditing to reduce fraud actually costs more than the harm they'd prevent), and a very sensible view that economics is a study of control problems in the real world*. It's been a long time since I read a piece of popular non-fiction with such enjoyment, or learned so much from it, and I warmly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this blog.
ObDisclaimer: Davies and I have been linking to each others' posts, corresponding, etc., since the early 2000s.
*: The chapter on control contains the only mistake I caught, but it's a small one, of attribution and titling --- it's W. Ross Ashby's "law of requisite variety", not Stafford Beer's "law of sufficient variety". (D^2 gets the law right, however, which is the important thing.)

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Scientifiction and Fantastica; Tales of Our Ancestors; Cthulhiana; The Dismal Science; The Natural Science of the Human Species

Posted at July 31, 2018 23:59 | permanent link

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