Category Archive for "Books"

The Logic of Institution – In the Heart of the Sea

Institution serves as one of the central mechanisms of social life, and writers, self-selecting themselves to stand outside and to observe, feel this somewhat instinctively. Our institutions, economic or otherwise, frame all manner of interactions, and writers do well to…

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Making Money

Recently I was recommended the late Terry Pratchett’s Making Money, the 36th Diskworld novel. The story centers on the character of Moist Von Lipwig, the protagonist of Going Postal. Lipwig is a confidence trickster, thief, and ne’er-do-well whom we last left as…

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Umberto Eco—The Celebration of Folly

Humanism is a living intellectual tradition in the west; one that many of our greatest luminaries have abandoned in frustration. It is a natural project—the kind of thing that serious scholars tend to fall into once they realize that most…

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The Black Swan

Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian philosopher, once said that, “I secretly think reality exists so that we can speculate about it.” And it has a strange way of aligning itself with our expectations and assumptions—especially the unspoken ones. Because of this ideological…

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A Universe from Nothing – a review

I love physics. I love science. I’m one of those guys who gets flabbergasted and tongue tied at the thought of the incredible journey that our species, our planet, even our constituent elements took to get here. I understand well…

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The Sixth Extinction: The Middle of the End

Our geological era, often called the Anthropocene in honor of its most influential characteristic, has been a remarkable period in Earth’s history. For her book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert travelled extensively to produce a stunning account of just how…

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White Boy Shuffle – The Irony of Race

I recall my introduction to African-American literature as a child. A teacher asked my small-town classroom, full of eager young white children to memorize and report on a Langston Hughes poem. I chose “A Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The poem’s…

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America’s Orwellian Problem: Political Language and Democracy

Every undergrad in America today knows the term “Orwellian.” It’s pretty quickly inserted into the armory of would-be political scientists and armchair philosophers as a means of describing discourse that is designed to serve political ends and obfuscate truth. And…

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The Martian

Robinson Crusoe is not a novel that I think leaves a wholly pleasant aftertaste in the western cannon. I don’t mean to suggest that the book is badly written or historically unimportant, merely that it embraces various European fantasies and realities (slavery, white…

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Danubia: the Praise of Folly

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit central Europe a number of times in my life. But for my most recent adventure, I brought along a copy of Simon Winder’s Danubia, probably the finest companion one could have for such a journey….

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