Friday, 1 March 2013

Books again.

I'm getting through a pleasing number of books, in bed on weekday mornings is untold luxury and decadence! My grand total is now 41, with a few bits of frivolity which I don't count. We're starting a book club locally, I'll report on it, but the first is Dylan Thomas' "Under Milk Wood" next week.
Kurlansky:Salt is an unlikely sounding title, but anything’s possible for someone who makes a bestseller out of cod! It’s a tale of greed, intrigue, betrayal, world domination and geology, telling a history of the mankind through the use of salt. The way history should be taught, why people behaved and moved about as they did, rather than the dates-and-battles approach that put me off. As in so many things, the Chinese were centuries ahead of the West in mining, salt taxes plagued ordinary people then and in many cultures since, imagine a death-sentence for collecting salt from the sea. Highly recommended!
Shreve:Resistance is the first of her books I’ve read, not the last though. A rather different take on WW2, through several people’s eyes, starting with a child. It shows the best and worst of human nature. Thought-provoking, I couldn’t quite decide whether the end was totally sad or nearly happy!
Brooks:13 Things That don’t Make Sense is a collection of the authors ideas on some scientific conundrums, big things like dark matter&energy, death, free will, homeopathy & cold fusion. He give a summary of the evidence surrounding the subject on both sides, mostly fairly balanced, but some seem a little muddly to me.
          Musson: The Million Death Quake  is one someone lent R to help with his OU stuff, however it is easily accessible to normal brains. It outlines the background to earthquakes, and some of the reasons why they can’t be predicted with any accuracy. Tsunami are different, often many hours warning while they ponder their way across oceans, so some optimism there. An interesting book, well worth reading.
           Banerjee&Duflo: Poor Economics is a sometimes heavy account of why poverty persists, not just corrupt governments although that’s a major factor in places. For example, without “credentials” you can’t get a loan to buy rather than rent a cart for your business, so never make profit, or you have to borrow money every day to buy a few kilos of vegetables to sell on the pavement. Healthcare and the possible distant benefits of education, weighed against making a little money now are more squashing factors. A thought-provoking account.


  1. Did Banerjee and Duflo have anything to say about microloans?

  2. Lots! Not always as simple as it sounds, in some circumstances and for some people brilliant.