January Reads

This year I want to record my reading in a way that matches how I read. So I am dividing books into three general categories Dip, Dive, Devour based on some combination of energy, insight, and follow through.

Absolutely Devoured:

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

No comment needed. It’s better written and faster paced than I expected, a classic for a reason. My contrary reading is that the Encyclopedia actually did save civilization, and though this is obvious throughout the novel, none of the characters know it.

Knowledge Spaces: Application in Education

This is the first step in getting much more serious in thinking about assessment and useful tools in education. Thanks to Jimmy Koppel for the pointer. I am going to test out Aleks with some students in a month or so.

Took a Dive into:

In the Service of the Republic: the Art and Science of Economic Policy by Vijay Kelkar. This book feels more like an outline of ideas than a book, but the ideas are important and serious. Public choice and the realization that incentives only increase in importance over time are crucial insights for government.

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. More nuanced than I was expecting and more balanced than his enemies give him credit for. No surprise there. He is not some laissez-faire zealot and acknowledges from the beginning the tenuous link between democracy and the free market.

Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture by Anthony Esolen. I actually share a lot of aesthetic values with Anthony. Yet despite the shared love of group singing, traditional church music, and kids running in the streets, I find this mode of cultural critique to be blind and useless. He has to paint with a broad brush to compensate for his ignorance of flourishing subcultures. In his view, the world is a monoculture of either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ culture. Furthermore, most of the book lacked any notion of the causal forces behind aesthetic and cultural change; my library copy dutifully supplied one with a neatly written anti-Jewish comment in the margins of the penultimate chapter. Not recommended except for the literary style, which is why Tanner Greer recommended it to me in the first place.

Keynes: a very brief introduction by Robert Skidelsky. I didn’t know Keynes was so lively and such a florid writer. Had I known this earlier, I would have started imitating him sooner. Like Antony above, his ability to write invective and turn a colorful phrase makes true writers green with envy and makes economists blush for shame.

Took a Dip in:

Aquinas – always dipping
Talmud – just keep dipping
Critique of Pure Reason by Kant – down this road lies madness?
Human Action by Ludwig Mises – intrigued

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