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Jenni
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PostSubject: Recommended reading   Fri May 03, 2013 2:35 pm

I would love for us to keep a running thread on books about economics and similar topics that we think would be useful to others. Also a place for NoCo's prolific reviews, a lot of which I wish we could have brought over from DU and ID. Should someone want to debate a book we can start a separate thread for that.

I know my recommendations are:
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Betrayal of Work by Beth Shulman

I know at one time NoCo had recommended some Matt Taibbi, wasn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Fri May 03, 2013 2:45 pm

I recommend Matt Taibbi for anyone who wants the truth about what's going on.

Start with "The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion" and "Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History".

Also check out his blog, http://www.smirkingchimp.com/author/matt_taibbi
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Fri May 03, 2013 11:18 pm

I'm slogging my way through FIASCO: Blood in the Water on Wall Street by Frank Partnoy, the inside story of derivatives trading from a former Morgan Stanley trader.  It's well-written and horrifying although, originally published in 1997, it predates the really big derivatives melt-down.  I think there's an updated afterword.

[Edit sometime later: Yup, the afterword basically says, "Told ya so."]
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:10 pm

Andrew Bacevich - The Limits to Power : a clear headed rebuttal to the Rove/Cheney policy of American exceptionalism


Sean Carroll - Endless Forms Most Beautiful : Darwin's theory of evolution does a good job of descent with modification, but the field of genetics was still too embryonic to explain how and why those modifications arose.  Carroll completes Darwin's theory.


Carl Zimmer - Parasite Rex : stunning look at parasitism in nature.  You'll never look at nature the same way again.


Michael Lewis - The Big Short : explains how Wall Street has decoupled the stock market from the real American economy, and now manipulates it for their own benefit


Daniel Tammet - Born on a Blue Day : fascinating autobiography of an ideo-savant who is one of the rare savants with almost no compensating disabilities


Howard Dully - My Lobotomy : harrowing story of an unruly boy whose step mother had him lobotomized.


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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:19 pm

I'm working on Parasite Rex now, it's amazing!
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:46 am

I'm almost finished with a book on crows by a University of Washington researcher. It's called "Gifts of the Crow" by John Marzluff. Apparently corvids -- crows, ravens and magpies -- are some of the only animals besides humans, gorillas and elephants who can pass the mirror test. The book is full of anecdotes including some pretty incredible stories -- like the woman who started feeding the crows table scraps, and they started ringing her doorbell to get her to do it. Her husband answered the door a couple times and shooed them away. In retaliation they crapped all over his car. The next day he parked his Mercedes where his wife usually parked her Volvo, and the crows crapped all over his car again.

Not a drop on the Volvo.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:06 pm

"The Wrecking Crew" by Kent Hartman. All about the select group of Los Angeles studio musicians who actually played on a huge number of singles in the '60s and '70s credited to other groups, everyone from The Monkees to The Association to The Mamas & The Papas to The Beach Boys to Phil Spector to Johnny Rivers. Fascinating stuff.

One of the main characters in the book however, bassist Carol Kaye, says on Amazon not to buy it. She said she was misquoted and the author got many parts of the story wrong. Oh well, it's entertaining reading.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:04 pm

"Breasts" by Florence Williams. It is not a titillating (hee-hee) expose about ta-tas but a fairly scholarly discourse on the biology of mammary glands.  Discusses how milk ducts concentrate and lactate chemical impurities in the body (a woman can actually cleanse her body of toxins by breast-feeding) leading to breast milk in Aleuts being legally capable of being labeled "toxic waste."  Talks about environmental estrogen and estrogen-stimulants, and what the early estrus (averaging 8 years old in some populations!) means for womens' lifetime risk of breast cancer.  Talks about the unusually high incidence of rare male breast cancers around Camp Lejune, a Marine base in North Carolina that had a water supply contaminated with benzene.

Informative.  Eye opening.  Scary.


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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:49 pm

"Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards" by Al Kooper.  Kooper is the Forrest Gump of the music world, having popped up in dozens of productions during the 60s and 70s without ever really becoming a star himself.  This is his story of those heady years.

To some degree he plays the part of the unreliable narrator -- he was fired from many bands and production jobs, and married and divorced four times.  The way he describes these events it's always THEIR fault. He is not without self-effacement, however, and most of his recollections are amusing and illuminating.  A compulsive read.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:05 am

"Electric Eden" by Rob Young.  A huge book about the English folk-rock explosion of the late '60s.  Covers every band you've ever heard of and a lot more you haven't.  Unfortunately the author didn't know when to quit and kept expanding his scope to cover English classical music, English poetry, Thatcher politics, geography, geology, religion....  I skimmed great parts of this 700-page tome.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:37 am

"Who Stole The American Dream" by Hedrick Smith. Talks about how the conservative war on the Middle Class since the mid-1970s has resulted in a land of less upward mobility, less opportunity, less security and less chance of reversing these trends. The playing field has been tilted to favor the rich. Children born today are less likely to out-earn their parents than any generation in our nation's history. It's a dramatic turnaround in only one generation.

Unfortunately, Smith is fond of statistics. Instead of a narrative, the story is told in mostly numbers from studies. Makes for a boring and mind numbing read.

And so far the conclusions are pretty obvious, unsurprising and unquotable. I've started skimming.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:16 pm

NoCoPilot wrote:
"Who Stole The American Dream" by Hedrick Smith.  Talks about how the conservative war on the Middle Class since the mid-1970s has resulted in a land of less upward mobility, less opportunity, less security and less chance of reversing these trends.  The playing field has been tilted to favor the rich.  Children born today are less likely to out-earn their parents than any generation in our nation's history.  It's a dramatic turnaround in only one generation.

Unfortunately, Smith is fond of statistics.  Instead of a narrative, the story is told in mostly numbers from studies.  Makes for a boring and mind numbing read.

And so far the conclusions are pretty obvious, unsurprising and unquotable.  I've started skimming.
We ought to do a book club thread and read the same thing at the same time and discuss it. That might be fun. I'm off to find this on Amazon.....
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:32 pm

I enjoyed two minor books recently, neither very deep or challenging but fun reads. One was "The Billionaire's Vinegar" about the rampant faking of expensive wine vintages, which led into "The Hitler Diaries" about the 60 volumes of fake diaries written by a Nazi enthusiast. Amazing how far people will go to try to

Oops gotta go. Wife just noticed our house was burgled today
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:39 am

Jane Mayer - Dark Money.  We all know the story of the Kochs and their "Kochtopus" where they've been in a struggle for decades to use their money to change American society back to pre-FDR status.  Well-written, thorough, fair, and utterly terrorizing.  I have read several books on the right-wing takeover of America but this was far and away the best.  Makes it clear that what the Kochs could not achieve through democracy -- David Koch ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 1980 -- they have sought to achieve by force of their spending.  Fuck democracy, the public doesn't know what's good for them.  We'll get our policies implemented WITHOUT getting public approval.

Scary-ass shit.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Sun Aug 14, 2016 5:12 pm

Bought two political conspiracy books recently, used, because they looked interesting.  We'll see if either of them holds water.

The Dark Side by Jane Mayer, same author as Dark Money above.  This one's a 2009 expose about how the Cheney administration used 9/11 to expand the power of the presidency.  I guess that's not really a conspiracy, is it.

Mary's Mosaic (2012) by Peter Janney talks about how the CIA killed Kennedy and his lover Mary Pinchot Meyer.  Janney and his family were best friends with the Meyers, and his own father was CIA.  If nothing else it should be an interesting exploration of a dysfunctional family.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:57 pm

Just starting a new book (Sept 2016) by Rana Foroohar called Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business. I heard the author interviewed on NPR and it sounded good.

In a nutshell the author's premise is this: Originally set up as an aid to American business, where capital could be raised, the stock markets have subsequently become a hindrance to business, competing for capital and absconding with huge profits, which are taken out of the market instead of re-invested.  Wall Street has become a net drain on the economy which -- due to 401(k)s -- everyday consumers are forced to support. Companies are increasingly giving their cash reserves to stockholders rather than investing in R&D or strategic partnering.


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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:01 pm

NoCoPilot wrote:
...the stock markets have subsequently become a hindrance to business, competing for capital and absconding with huge profits, which are taken out of the market instead of re-invested.  Wall Street has become a net drain on the economy which -- due to 401(k)s -- everyday consumers are forced to support.

That's the complaint I have been making for about twenty years now.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:56 pm

Rana Foroohar wrote:
The people who manage our retirement money are typically compensated for delivering returns over a year or less. That means they use their financial clout to push companies to produce quick-hit results, rather than to execute longer-term strategies. So many Americans now rely on the financial markets for safety in their old age that we fear anything that might have a chilling effect on them. We have made a Faustian bargain,in which we depend on the markets for wealth and thus don't look too closely at how the sausage is made.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:11 pm

Rana Foroohar wrote:
The top 25 hedge fund managers in America make more than all of the country's kindergarten teachers combined.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:38 pm

Perhaps the author's most radical proposal is that "the stock market" is not "the real economy." She cites that the financial sector is 7% of the economy but only 4% of employment, while bringing in 25% of corporate profits. This she cites as evidence of the disconnect between Wall Street and the real world.

Not as an adjunct to "the real economy," but something apart from it.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:41 pm

NoCoPilot wrote:
Rana Foroohar wrote:
The top 25 hedge fund managers in America make more than all of the country's kindergarten teachers combined.

And they pay a smaller percentage in income taxes.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:44 pm

NoCoPilot wrote:
Perhaps the author's most radical proposal is that "the stock market" is not "the real economy."

There's nothing radical about that. In 1974 in Econ 101, the professor emphasized the difference between the stock market, the financial market, and the real economy.

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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:03 pm

And quite a lot of the blame lands on the grave of Milton Friedman.

Economists Should Stop Defending Milton Friedman’s Pseudo-science
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:07 pm

richard09 wrote:
And quite a lot of the blame lands on the grave of Milton Friedman

And we would all be better off had that space been filled sixty years earlier.

And I greatly resent that he used billiards players to justify his absurdity.
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PostSubject: Re: Recommended reading   Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:47 am

The author says that when bean counters take over the management of a company, innovation and long-range investment suffer.  Who knew?
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